The crash of thunder jerked the sleeping, ten-year-old boy from slumber. Opening his eyes, he gazed carefully around the room. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, however, he rolled out of his ornate bed and stretched his arms toward the ceiling, wriggling his bare toes in the thick carpet. He listened.
There it was, masked by the staccato of raindrops on the shingled roof: The sound of weeping.
The little boy’s face was dispassionate as he crept to his bedroom door, opened it, and slipped out. Pausing, he waited for the sound of crying to guide him and, seconds later, heard the sobbing emanating from behind a closed door down the hall.
A worried look flitted across the child’s face as he realized who the room belonged to. Glancing warily over his shoulder, he crept stealthily down the dark hallway to pause before the door. Leaning in, he pressed his ear to the door and listened briefly to the sound of weeping then pushed the door open.
Lying facedown on the bed was a beautiful girl trembling violently as sobs racked her slender frame.
The boy’s young face lost its impassive mien and he darted forward. “Andromeda?” he whispered, sliding a tentative hand into one of hers.
The girl gasped and sat up hastily, her dark brown eyes frightened. “Oh,” she breathed in relief, “Sirius, it’s you. Oh, thank God.” Tears spilled down her cheeks.
Sirius (for the young lad was he) climbed nimbly into the bed, still holding her hand. “What happened, Andy?” he asked.
Andromeda gazed into his concerned face. “Sirius,” she whispered, “do you remember Ted?”
“He asked me to marry him. And … I told mother … who then told your mum.”
Sirius gasped. He knew what his mother was like. She hated Ted and constantly hounded her brother, Cygnus, for allowing his daughter to consort with someone she considered inferior.
“Sirius, they told me I would be dead to them if I married him. But….” Andromeda trailed off, sobs reclaiming her petite frame.
Sirius peered into his cousin’s stricken face. “But what?”
Burying her face in her hands, Andromeda murmured, “But I love him. Oh, Sirius, what should I do?”
Bewildered, Sirius mumbled, “Andy, you
have to decide.” He swallowed the lump forming in his throat. “Will you have to leave me?”
“Yes,” she murmured absently, clearly not understanding the import of her words, “but how do I know he feels the same?”
Sirius stared at his cousin. “You just know,” he stated simply.
Realization dawning in her eyes, Andromeda looked at the little boy sitting cross-legged in front of her. Impulsively, she reached forward and pulled Sirius into an embrace. “Sirius,” she whispered, stroking his hair, “I love you.” Andromeda felt his arms tighten around her.
“I love you, too,” came the quiet reply.
Tears streaming down her face, Andromeda wrenched herself away from the little boy, away from her old life. “Goodbye, Sirius … I’ll never forget you.”