(Disclaimer: This story is based on the stories and characters created by J.K. Rowling and I am in no monetary way profiting from it.
A/N: It wouldn't hurt to read Acceptance before this one. Thank Merlin for Betas: Elanor Gamgee at SugarQuill.net and Bring and Fly here at Phoenix Song.)
Seventeen-year-old Sirius Black was very practiced at looking cool on the outside, so he was fairly certain that he was looking particularly cool at the moment. Inside, he felt just a bit giddy with excitement, though he would never admit it to anyone. Well…maybe James, years from now when it would be too late to take the mickey. It had been a perfect evening so far. His partner was the most beautiful girl in school and he was the envy of practically every boy at Hogwarts. His gaze drifted to one of the few who didn't envy him, and he watched James and Lily walk up to Gryffindor Tower with their heads together, whispering and smiling in a way he usually found cloying in other couples. James managed not to look completely disgusting, though he was obviously over the moon for Lily. Sirius wondered, without envy, what that was like. He couldn't imagine wanting to be with a girl all the time, even over a lark with your mates. Although, he admitted, some larks were preferable with a girl, required even. With that in mind, he turned back towards his own partner with a grin.
Since her Fourth Year, Irene Doyle had never lacked for someone to go out with. Blokes wanted her, and she played them all beautifully. It had become apparent early on that she would never settle for anything but what she perceived to be the best. To Irene, that had obviously been older students. Sirius couldn't say he blamed her. He had gone out with girls in the classes above him quite a bit and found that experience had more value than youthful exuberance when it came to the opposite sex. While Sirius had admired Irene along with most of the rest of their classmates, he had learned from their example and never bothered asking her out. There were plenty of beautiful girls to go out with and, unlike James, he was neither in love, nor did he care to ask a girl out who would more than likely reject him. But that was all in the past. Now that they were all seventh years, Irene would have to either go out with a classmate, or go alone. Sirius had thought he knew enough of Irene to know she would not be going alone. Still, after three years of being trained not to ask her out, it seemed most of the rest of his class was also balking at the daunting task of inviting out Irene Doyle. In Sirius’s opinion, they were cowards, all of them. Sirius was a Gryffindor and no coward. Besides, he was one of the best looking boys in school. The best looking, depending on which girl you asked. Once he had made up his mind, the asking had been easy - more like a casual suggestion as he passed her table. Her cool affirmative had been equally casual and it had been as easy as that.
Now she pursed her lips in amusement and raised an eyebrow at him. She had her arms crossed over her chest and looked as if she was expecting something - he thought he knew what. Feeling his grin broaden of its own accord, he took a step towards her. She unfolded her arms and extended her right hand. He faltered in his advance, looking down at her hand. It was not open and beckoning but perpendicular as if…as if… Did she want to shake hands? He looked into her aquamarine eyes and realized he was probably gaping at her like an idiot. He closed his mouth and looked around rapidly. Thankfully, the corridor was mostly occupied by other couples making their way back to their common rooms, and being far too attentive to each other to notice Sirius Black making a fish face.
"Thank you for inviting me to the dance, Sirius," Irene was saying, "I'll see you around."
I'll see you around? He couldn't believe what he had just heard. He was being blown off. Sirius Black was not blown off. Certainly, he was not about to be abandoned in front of the Great Hall. No matter how distracted everyone seemed to be, they would no doubt notice that.
"I'm walking you back to your common room," he insisted. Whatever was going on, he could keep it more confined if they parted ways at the entry to Ravenclaw tower.
"That won't be necessary. I wouldn't want to take up any more of your time this evening. It wouldn't be very practical."
Practical? Damn Ravenclaws and their practicality.
"What are you on about? Didn't we have a good time?" he asked.
"You might have had a good time. I didn't find it especially enjoyable to be abandoned by my partner for almost an hour. You and your mates just had to go spy on Lily and James. And that poor girl Remus Lupin brought - what's her name - Beatrice? She was forced to try and find common conversation between a fourth year Hufflepuffand me. I think that after tonight even she is sick of her O.W.L. Herbology project."
"You didn't have to talk to them while we were gone," Sirius reasoned. "You could have spent time with your own friends."
"My friends were all dancing with their partners," Irene countered bitingly. "I wasn't about to call attention to the fact that I wasn't."
"If you were so upset about it, why didn't you say something before I left, or after I came back for that matter?" Sirius could hear his voice rising, but couldn't quite stop it. It was rapidly becoming clear that he was going to be the only Marauder who wasn't going to get a good payoff kiss from his partner. Beatrice had hustled Remus away early, saying that he was too tired for any more excitement. The feral glow in Remus's eyes as he followed her up to Gryffindor tower implied he wasn't too tired for a little excitement on the couch in front of the fire. Wormtail's girl was sufficiently starry-eyed at being in the company of a bunch of senior boys and was sure to reward him when he brought her to the Hufflepuff cellar. James and Lily, of course, had been kissing so much tonight, it was like they were trying to get six years worth of snogging into one evening - which they probably were. Sirius did not like the idea of being the odd man out on that score.
"Because I…" Irene started at a volume equal to his, but paused to get control of herself. "Because I don't make scenes," she finished with a hiss.
Sirius's mind was racing. How to convince the wily and beautiful Ravenclaw to relent?
"You have to give me a second chance," he cajoled.
"Oh really?" Her eyebrows arched right along with her voice. She was obviously trying to sound haughty, but he detected a trace of amusement in her voice. That was his edge. If he could get her to crack a smile, he knew he'd also cracked her resolve to punish him. It was time to pour on the infamous Black charm.
"Sure." He grinned at her. "You can't judge a bloke on one bad outing. How is that fair? How is that practical?" He waggled his eyebrows on the last word. She did not miss his reference to her earlier statement. Her eyes sparkled with merriment, and she drew her lip between her teeth, as if to keep herself from smiling at his antics.
"I don't know." She seemed to consider his argument. "How do I know going out a second time will prove better than the first?"
Aha! Checkmate, Miss Doyle, he thought. He took her by the elbow and glanced over his shoulder, checking for prying eyes as he led her away from the open corridor to a more private alcove behind some suits of armor.
"Well, allow me to give you a little preview…" he began, pressing her against the wall and leaning his head in.
She put a restraining hand on his shoulder.
He paused and looked into her eyes. They were still dancing.
"What if I don't like the preview?" she asked archly.
Don't like…? For a moment he sputtered internally, but then he looked at her again. The dancing eyes…She's having me on, he thought, that's my kind of woman.
"Let's just grab that Portkey when we come to it," he declared leaning in again.
As much as he wanted to swoop in, he took his time. He had given the implied promise of good and he wanted it to be absolutely brilliant, convincing her beyond a shadow of a doubt that going out with him a second time would be a good idea. He pressed his lips to hers firmly, but withdrew quickly to press matching kisses to either corner of her mouth. Then he returned to the center to kiss her more lingeringly. Her lips were silky smooth beneath his, and he allowed himself the small indulgence of darting the tip of his tongue out to taste her. Mulled wine, he thought, sucking gently on her lower lip as he withdrew, so that it protruded ever so slightly in a sexy and inviting pout. His eyes darted up from her hypnotic mouth to check her reaction. She was watching him, eyes still open and calculating, but under heavy lids, and their colour had most definitely darkened. Encouraged, he returned his concentration to kissing her. He ever so delicately scraped his teeth along that pouting lower lip, then followed the act with his tongue, as if to sooth any damage his teeth may have done. She sighed and her tongue darted out to lick her upper lip in response, leaving both lips moist and slightly parted when she was finished. He chanced another glance at her eyes only to see them fully closed and her head tipping back. He grinned. Victory, he thought, capturing her mouth fully. He was delighted when her lips opened further under his and her tongue joined his in that sweet mating dance. Delight turned quickly to desire when her right hand, still on his shoulder, gripped him convulsively and her left hand drifted up to the back of his head where her fingers rifled through his hair. He finally pulled his head back for a breath, enjoying the sound of her rapid breathing, not to mention the feel of it as her breasts rose and fell against his chest. Her head had fallen back even farther and the creamy skin of her elegant neck beckoned to him. He obeyed, nibbling and licking at her pulse point while she gasped in response, emboldening him further. He trailed kisses down her collarbone to the plunging neckline of her dress robes. When that elicited a moan from her, he groaned in response and paused in his efforts.
"Irene," he growled out, resting his cheek against the swell of her breasts.
"Irene, I rant you." He was going to say, 'Irene, I want you,' but in his desire-fuddled state, he couldn't resist playing with the sound of her name and replacing the w in 'want' with an r.
She chuckled, pleasing him both with her reaction and the sensation of her laughter vibrating beneath his cheek.
"Sirius, be serious," she countered, making him give a chuckle of his own.
"Never!" he proclaimed, raising his head and grinning at her in a way he hoped she'd find irresistible. "What do you say?" he asked, waggling his eyebrows and ducking his head. "'Astronomy tower's probably occupied by now, but I know a couple other spots that are both private and comfortable…"
"Ah, I don't think so." Her left hand drifted away from his hair and neck and back to his shoulder and she pushed him away slightly.
"But…" Sirius knew she had responded to him and he couldn't think why she would stop him so abruptly unless… "Don't tell me you haven't…that you don't…?"
"I have and I do - on occasion," she answered his unfinished question. "Although not on the first night out, and certainly not on a bad first outing."
Instinct told him that there would be no convincing her to go further that evening. Still, his yearning body urged him to attempt an argument anyway. "Didn't I make that up to you?" he asked, reaching out and running his thumb over her mouth in reminder.
Her eyelids flickered briefly before she swatted his hand away. "As fantastic as your snogging abilities are…"
"You think I'm a fantastic snogger?" he interrupted with a grin.
She sighed. "This can't be news to you."
"True," he agreed cockily, "but I wouldn't think you'd admit it."
She closed her eyes, and made an exasperated noise that seemed to expel all traces of desire out of her. "I don't like to lie," she explained, "It complicates things. Now back to the point. The brilliant kissing wasn't to make up for this bad night, it was to convince me to give you a chance to take me out again."
Still riding high on her description of his snogging abilities he grinned at her. "And did it?" he asked.
She rolled her eyes. "Let the air out of your head, would you, Black? I said it was brilliant, didn't I?"
"So, let me get this straight. No shagging tonight?"
"Definitely not." She gave him a mock aghast look.
"But you'll go with me on the next Hogsmeade weekend?"
"And possibly meet me for a couple of Charms revision sessions in the library between now and then?" he ventured
"A distinct possibility," she agreed.
"Maybe even some practical work in an abandoned classroom?" He arched an eyebrow, hoping to convey just how ‘practical’ his charm work could get.
She tapped her lips thoughtfully with her finger, letting it linger against them enticingly for a moment before replying, "that could be arranged."
Sirius grinned at her and she smiled back, a sexy, indulgent, closed-mouth smile. Her eyes were sparkling merrily at their quick-paced banter. He had asked her to the ball because she was easily the sexiest girl at Hogwarts. This playful side of her was an added bonus that he was enjoying in the extreme. Some larks were better with a girl. He decided to press his luck with one last question. "And shagging sometime in the future?"
She scowled playfully before responding, "That remains to be seen."
"But not completely out of the question?" he pressed.
"Not completely, no," she agreed, smiling again. "In the meantime, I've decided to go ahead and let you walk me back to my common room."
He grinned and backed away from the wall, offering her his hand to help her maneuver out from behind the suits of armor.
"And if you're very good, you can give me a kiss goodnight," she added primly in an unnaturally raised voice.
Sirius looked around and saw that Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Flitwick were ushering the last stragglers out of the Great Hall and casting sidelong glances in their direction. Putting on his most innocent look, which Moony once told him wouldn't fool a garden gnome, he offered Irene his arm. She took it graciously and he proceeded to escort her towards the west part of the castle and Ravenclaw tower. Once they rounded the corner and he was pretty sure they were out of earshot he turned to her.
"Define, 'very good,'" he entreated.
She grinned at him. "Why don't we grab that Portkey when we come to it?"
(A/N: So, is this fluffy and sweet enough for you? I'm writing a sequel to Animal Attraction and suddenly Sirius starts demanding some equal time. So I wrote him this little snippet - I didn't think he warranted any more, it's not like he loves the girl or anything -- and he still won't shut up. I know from lurking on the Forums that this is not an uncommon occurrence - but really, I'm going to have to do something really AU and soon, or he'll never be satisfied.)