³², FALL OFF YOUR BROOM

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𝐂𝐇𝐎𝐂𝐎𝐋𝐀𝐓𝐄
chapter thirty-two; Fall Off Your Broom
" Don't be cliche, Doll. "

  MADELINE POTTER WAS, in fact, still in the Astronomy Tower when Sirius Black arrived

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  MADELINE POTTER WAS, in fact, still in the Astronomy Tower when Sirius Black arrived. He debated how to approach her, but settled for just claiming the seat beside her. Neither spoke, the cloak of silence hugging them like it was meant to comfort instead of strangle.

  "Do you really love me?"

  The question tasted sweet on Madeline's lips, but her voice shaking turned it almost bitter in Sirius's ears. He'd expected everything he'd said to turn around and hit him in the face, and he should've known better than to think Madeline would start off with the easy stuff.

  "Would that scare you?"

  "Terrify me," Madeline mumbled, "Because I don't know what that's supposed to feel like."

  "Loving someone or being loved by someone?"

  "Shouldn't they be the same thing?" Madeline questioned, "Like, if I love someone, they love me, and it's just one huge feeling?"

  "Being loved by someone is different than loving them," Sirius said after a moment, "On the non-romantic side of things, Remus loves me. We ruddy annoy each other a lot of the time, but he helps me with homework and when I have. . . nightmares. . ."

  Madeline was unsure if his hesitation was out of fear or embarrassment.

  "And he shares his chocolate with me, and I know he's got my back. Forever," Sirius paused for a long time, shuffling one leg under him before speaking. "And I love you. I guess that just feels like. . . you know Fizzing Whizbees?"

  "Don't be cliche, Doll."

  Sirius' heart fluttered at the nickname, though he shoved it back down. "My point is; you make me happy in a way no one else has. People have made me happy before, sure, but— I dunno, Mads, you just have this way of making people feel good. Like no matter what I've done wrong or dealt with, I'm still just Sirius. Not the disowned Black, the screw-up Marauder, the playboy. . . you don't ignore it, either, you just. . . sort of. . . accept it.

  "And it's fine if you're not sure," Sirius continued after a long silence, "I don't want you to say anything if you're not. . . confident in the answer."

  "I think I just need the summer," Madeline whispered finally, "To sort it all out. . . you, James, everyone. . . I appreciate the people that care about me, including you, but. . . I don't need a savior, Sirius. Not James, or you, or Kai, or Blue, or Remus, or Reg. I'm 17 and I think it's time for me to fall off the broom a few times. On my own terms."

  "You've fallen off enough brooms to last a lifetime."

  "I want to make mistakes," She rolled her eyes at Sirius, "And I mean stupid ones like sneaking out of my dorm and going to the shop by myself and buying a shirt that, yeah, is maybe a bit risque, but I just want one. I can't have a bunch of blokes shielding me from everything."

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