Over the Threshold
A/N: Rated somewhat PG-13ish for innuendo and such. This story takes place before “A Knock at the Door”, but it is referenced in that story:
“Standing with Sirius in the Forbidden Forest, surrounded by the hush of a late summer evening, an enchanted parchment held between them…his voice, brimming with emotion, speaking words of love, of promise…the ink on the parchment beginning to glow, signifying a pact sealed, lives bound together…
And then soon after, facing a small cottage in Cornwall…feeling Sirius close behind her, one hand curving possessively around her hip, the other moving aside the hair at the base of her neck…a husky whisper in her ear, inviting her to open the door…his mouth on her skin…”
The August night was calm and warm, and yet Abby shivered as she stepped through the ancient gate and onto the rough path. Her robes swished gently as she moved forward, parting the long grass and wildflowers that jostled each other for space across the walkway. Bright with curiosity, her eyes followed the path to its end, the doorstep of a small cottage. Built of stone, with a thatched roof and weathered wooden door, the abode looked more neglected than the stands at a Chudley Cannons match, but the cheerfully overgrown appearance did lend it a quaint charm.
The sound of approaching footsteps caused Abby to stop, but she continued to gaze ahead, even as hands dropped onto her shoulders and warm breath ruffled her hair.
“I wasn’t really going to let you fall from the broomstick,” said the voice behind her.
“Really?” she replied with a note of good-natured skepticism, a smile forming on her lips. “You had me convinced.”
The hands ran down the length of her arms, taking her hands, and a rough chin nestled into her shoulder. “And even if I had
, I would have picked you up again after a few metres.”
Abby laughed softly. “How very kind of you, Sirius.”
“Because I have other plans for you tonight.”
The timbre of his voice caused her to shiver again. “That don’t involve me plummeting to my death?” she asked, the lightness of her voice a sharp contrast to her pounding heart. “Or cooking
“They most assuredly do not.” Sirius said with mild indignation as he wrapped his arms around her waist. He paused to contemplate. “Well, not tonight, anyway,” he added with a snicker.
Abby rolled her eyes. Apparently, his solemnity had been exhausted for the evening. Taking advantage of their proximity, she stepped backwards onto his toes. Sirius yelped in pain, but not to be outdone, he seized her with one arm while using the other to seek out a particularly sensitive spot on her side. For some time, the evening hush was disturbed by frantic squeals, devious laughter, and then, as Abby whipped around to face her tormentor, a deep, muffled sigh or two.
“How did you find this place?” she inquired somewhat breathlessly, once an effective truce had been declared. “It’s lovely.”
“My Uncle Alphard left it to me. He’d made it Unplottable.” Sirius moved behind her again, holding her around the shoulders.
“Really?” she murmured as she lolled her head back against his chest, running her hands back and forth across his forearms. “To avoid the Ministry?”
Sirius’s chuckle danced across the side of her face. “No, to avoid the rest of the Blacks. Took me a right age to remember where it even was. We use it from time to time now for Order stuff.”
“Um, there’s not a chance that the Order will drop by tonight
, is there?”
“What? No, I’m the only one who knows how to get here. Well, someone else does, too.”
Abby’s face froze. “Please tell me that it’s not Alastor Moody?”
“I'm rather afraid now that he’s inside, waiting to jump out of a wedding cake.”
“Crikey, there’s a frightening thought!” Sirius said, with a bark-like laugh. “Really, such little faith in your husband.”
“Well, if you didn’t take such unholy pleasure in discomposing me, I might not think so!” She paused then, waiting for a retort, but none came. Instead, Sirius removed his arms from around her shoulders. Abby started slightly, but then a reassuring hand wound around her hip, pulling her more closely to him. Her eyes closing, she drew a sharp, shaky breath. Fingers were brushing aside her hair, baring the base of her neck and providing her knees with ample incentive to give way completely. With a low laugh, Sirius pressed his lips to her skin, trailing them across the soft surface until he reached the hollow under her ear.
“Don’t you want to be discomposed?” he whispered.
“Oh, if I must…” Abby murmured in reply, reaching her arms above her to anchor them behind his own neck. “If I must…”
“Open the door, love,” he said between kisses, an uncharacteristic tremble in his voice.
Abby fumbled shakily in the pocket of her robes for her wand, which thankfully hadn’t fallen out during the broom ride. Barely able to master her voice, she called out, “Alohamora!”
The door swung open on creaking hinges, and, following a nudge from Sirius, Abby shuffled forward to its dark entrance. However, as he was still being rather attentive to her neck, she was far too distracted to think of what to do next. Chuckling, Sirius closed the door behind them and took her wand hand in his.
Abby screwed her eyes shut against the sudden brightness, but soon opened them again to eagerly take in…a threadbare sofa, complete with crumpled cushions and a tatty afghan. Stacks of dusty newspapers, a blanketing of discarded chocolate wrappers, and a mouldy pumpkin. At least two-dozen empty bottles of various wizarding beverages decorated the sole table, and an outdated pin-up of Celestina Warbeck hung crookedly on one wall. It wasn’t quite what she had anticipated, and from the look of utter bewilderment on Sirius’s face, a far cry from what he
had been expecting, too.
“What the bloody – ” Sirius abruptly handed her wand back and stalked off, leaving Abby alone to survey her surroundings. Coughing as her feet stirred up piles of dust, she gingerly tiptoed her way to a rickety chair and sat down. The initial shock was fading into compulsive giggles, which broke free completely when she discovered a pile of neatly folded rubbish also on the table.
“This is – it wasn’t – this is NOT what was supposed to be here,” Sirius said as he re-entered the room, scanning it angrily, his eyes blazing with enough force to incinerate anything in their path. Abby sensed that perhaps she should say something to soothe his annoyance, but an emotional whirlwind of a day had left her too knackered to see the situation as anything but absurd.
be yours,” she said with a laugh, holding up a Merlin’s Milkcrunch wrapper fashioned into an intricate origami crane.
“What?” Sirius looked over his shoulder distractedly. “No, that’s Remus’s doing. Don’t ask.”
“I see…and that?” she asked, gesturing at the poster.
Sirius turned to glower at Celestina, who fluttered her blue eyelids at him and blew a provocative kiss. “Dung. Said the place was too dull for his tastes,” he snapped, stopping to give the pumpkin an irate kick. “Damn!
Remus was supposed to have been here already! We talked about this a dozen times – there were supposed to be flowers, food…”
“Well, I think there are a few left in here,” Abby said as she peered into a crumpled packet of crisps. “I don’t mind sharing.”
“He was going to come here the morning of the 17th –,” he went on, paying no heed to her generosity.
Abby looked up. “Um, Sirius?”
The pumpkin fell subject to his wrath yet again. “Tonight, of all nights, I wanted to make this nice for you. You deserve more than this.”
“Sirius,” she said as gently as she could, “tomorrow – Saturday
– is the 17th.”
Sirius paused his foot in mid-air and gave a strangled growl. “You’re joking.”
An uncomfortable silence settled in the room, but meting out a gruesome death to the pumpkin did seem to make Sirius feel somewhat better. Sighing, he leaned his head back against the wall, raking his fingers back through his hair. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” he said, flashing Abby a rueful look. “For once, I
was going to take care of you
Abby had been toying with the trim on her robes while Sirius vented his frustration, but at that, a meaningful smile began to turn up the corner of her mouth. The foolish, foolish man. She lifted her eyes, keeping them fixed on him until he was finished with his destructive efforts. “Sirius, will you show me the rest of the cottage?” she asked softly.
“Well, there’s not much else to it,” he replied with a lingering grumble. “There’s just this room, the kitchen, and the – ” As his voice trailed off, his eyes flew quickly to hers, widening in sudden, appreciative understanding. He returned her gaze and smile for about three and a half seconds before striding over and pulling her out of her chair. It promptly collapsed into a pile of kindling, but neither party noticed, being much better engaged with warm hands and warmer lips, longing sighs and needful groans. Abby ran her fingers with delight into Sirius’s hair, full of dizzy joy at the thought of being together with him, despite the obstacles that invariably lay ahead. But then, unexpectedly, Sirius pulled back. Her eyes rather unfocused, Abby caught only a flash of a wicked grin before she suddenly found herself hoisted up into the air. She gasped in surprise, but without further ado, Sirius strode purposefully out of the room and down a short corridor, his laughing wife over his shoulder.
That’s one down…
Lifting up the thin, satin hem of her nightdress, Abby stooped to retrieve a brocade slipper from under the bed. She brushed off a few dust particles and then tucked it under arm, quietly resuming her search. Late last night, a giggling cry of “Accio toothbrush!”
had sent the contents of her bag scattering about the room, and she had been much too pleasantly preoccupied at the time to bother gathering them up. But now her need for food was growing dire, and while this room was set mostly to rights (she’d had ample time to cast householdy spells while Sirius had struggled with the various buttons, clasps, and fastenings of her robes), she didn’t dare brave the rest of the cottage without footwear.
As she peered behind the bedside table (only to find her shampoo bottle and several Droobles gum wrappers), Abby couldn’t help glancing at the figure still in bed, its tousled black hair spread out all over the pillow. Sirius’ profile was boyish and untroubled in repose, its lines muted by the soft morning light. It wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine him sauntering across a Quidditch pitch or down the corridors of Hogwarts like this, laughing with his mates. The thought brought a bittersweet smile to Abby’s lips, and succumbing to an impulse, she reached out a hand to softly run it across his cheekbone, and then down to his rough chin. If only he could always look so peaceful. For a moment, she was highly tempted to slide back under the faded patchwork quilt that covered him, but a strangled growl from her stomach reminded her that if she didn’t locate her slipper and then some nourishment soon, she would be the one responsible for disturbing his peace.
Although, somehow I don’t think he’d mind that…
Giving her a head a little shake to clear it of such distracting thoughts, Abby pulled her eyes away from Sirius to glance down the foot of the bed, where a corner of brocade peeked out. Ah, there was her truant slipper, wedged between the mattress and footboard. And the blooming toothbrush, too. At least the whereabouts of her dressing gown were already known, it having landed in the bathtub last night.
The slipper was easily freed by a few tugs, and Abby had cautiously settled herself on the edge of the bed to put on it and its mate when she heard a low murmur from the pillow behind her –
“What’re you doing?”
“Shhh…I didn’t mean to wake you,” she whispered anxiously, looking over her shoulder.
“Where’re you going?” Sirius’s bleary eyes opened a sliver.
“Shhh…” Abby said, touching her fingertips to his lips. “I just wanted to see if there were any more crisps to be had. I’m feeling a little peckish.”
Sirius was quiet again, seeming by his rhythmic breath to have fallen back asleep. But then a hand reached out to the small of her back, finding its way around the satin until it latched itself around her waist. “Don’t,” he said, before abruptly pulling her onto the quilt.
Not terribly put out to find herself back on the bed, Abby scooted nearer to him. “You’d prefer that your wife starve?” she laughed, placing her hands on his chest.
Sirius gave a sweet, drowsy smile and nuzzled into the hollow of her neck. “I’m sure I could find a rat or two for her somewhere.”
“You’re too thoughtful,” she said, repressing a shudder. “I’ll only be gone a moment, though...”
“Don’t,” he murmured again, throwing a quilt-covered leg over her to limit any means of escape, and thereby causing Abby to suddenly feel much less hungry. She closed her eyes and moved even closer, soaking in his warmth.
“Did you make this?” Sirius asked after a moment, gathering up a handful of her nightdress. She nodded against his shoulder. “Didn’t turn out very well, did it?”
Abby’s eyes snapped open. “Excuse me?”
she gasped, drawing her head back. She thought that the pale green creation looked quite lovely, and the prat certainly hadn’t voiced any objections on his prior viewing.
“Well, look at this,” he said, and eased one strap off her shoulder with a slight nudge. “Falls right off. This, too,” he added, turning his attention to the other side. As her scowl retreated, Abby bit her lip to suppress a giggle. “It’s a wonder you stay in business. But they are better than those robes you wore yesterday – blimey, you’d almost think they weren’t supposed
to come off.”
Abby gave him a gentle cuff on the shoulder. Sure, the robes had been rather intricate, and but the occasion had merited her best efforts. “I spent days on those! And I thought they were pretty.”
“Pretty, yes, but highly unsuited for the purpose at hand…” Sirius said with a lazy grin, as he leaned in for a kiss. Abby met him happily, willing to forget her stomach entirely…until the unmistakable sound of a rattling doorknob began to echo throughout the small cottage.
Abby broke away first, whipping her head around to stare at the bedroom door. “I thought you said this was Unplottable!” she exclaimed, her voice rising to a panicked pitch.
“It is!” Sirius said, as he raised his head from the pillow with a baffled look. “The only people who know how to get here are me and – ” He paused as the creak of the opening front door, followed by the sounds of muffled incantations, carried into the room.
“ – Remus!"
Abby finished for him, with eyes wide in horror. She raised a hand to her cheek, which was most likely taking on the appearance of a Sunburn Spell. Remus was a wonderful man, but he was the last wizard on earth she wanted to see just now, especially when her spare knickers were still hanging from the lampshade on the other side of the room.
Sirius threw his head back onto the pillow with a loud guffaw, observing Abby’s distress with distinct amusement. “Well,” he said with a shrug, “at least we’ll have breakfast.”
A/N: This piece was written prior to HBP, for a LiveJournal auction won by Violet Azure. She gave me her kind permission then to post it at the Quill, but I hesitated to do so, as it is, admittedly, very silly. In my defense, I was under the strong influence of a Georgette Heyer binge at the time. So anyway, my apologies for the lack of deep introspection and meaningful insight in here. :P