So I'm posting fic on here again. I know, I know. You'll ignore it and we'll all carry on.
Title: Fortune Favours
Author: so_jayded (duh)
Word Count: approx 1500
Summary: Career Counselling, or Sirius has a plan, McGonagall cracks a smile, and James tells a fortune (badly).
10 April 1976
"Why do I have to go first?"
"It's alphabetical," James said, exasperated. "Black, Durning, Evans, Gregory, Lupin... you get the idea."
Sirius groaned and collapsed onto the couch across from James again. "Can't we swap?"
"If McGonagall sees you first, she's less likely to try and kill you." James kicked his feet up onto the table between the two couches and produced a tarot deck. "Besides, I thought you made up your mind and did all the research already."
Sirius covered his face with his hands. "This is the worst year of my life."
"Doubt that," James said cheerfully as he dealt the deck. "Years to go, Padfoot. Chin up."
Sirius favored him with a dark look. "I hate you."
"No you don't," James replied. "At any rate, you've got to go face Minerva in an hour and I swear, she can smell fear. Best to put on a brave face at the very least." He flipped a card and swore. "Nevermind. She's going to eat you alive."
Sirius was five minutes late for his meeting and that was because he spent five minutes in the hallway, staring down the door to McGonagall's office like it was a portal to the Underworld, or possibly some sort of medieval torture chamber.
When he did finally go inside, she was tapping the nib of her quill against a piece of parchment and looked a bit more cross than he would have liked her to. He didn't have the energy or the inclination to do anything but wither a little under her stare and sit down hard in the chair across from her.
"Professor," he answered. "Sorry-"
"Apologies are not necessary," she told him. "We're here to discuss your future, I believe, not your chronic inability to arrive on time."
"I've already made a list," Sirius said. He shuffled through his pockets for a moment until he produced a crumpled scrap of parchment. He flattened it as best he could and passed it across the desk to her.
McGonagall read it over twice before she looked up at him. "You've done your research, then?"
Sirius shifted awkwardly. "Well, I haven't got." He sighed and put his hand over his eyes, then muttered something under his breath.
"What was that, Mr. Black?"
"James was right about my doom," he said.
She favored him with her best severe look. Sirius thought he actually quaked a little. "Mr. Potter's feelings on your doom are neither here nor there," she said. "Your choices seem a bit more directed than I thought they would. Have you a specific career in mind?"
Sirius mumbled again. He sorely hoped she hadn't heard and wouldn't ask him to repeat himself.
"A Healer?" Sirius answered.
McGonagall blinked. "This isn't the time for joking, Mr. Black."
"I'm not joking!" He crossed his arms and met her eyes across the desk. "Madam Pomfrey doesn't think it's a half bad idea, you know. She says I have a knack."
McGonagall considered him for a while. "It's a hard profession."
"I know," Sirius answered.
"Very little recognition." She didn't have to say the next part, how Sirius practically lived to be the center of attention.
"I know." He uncrossed his arms and held his hands out. "I just want to be useful."
There was the smallest crack in her severity. She nearly smiled. It was almost a victory, but it was gone as soon as Sirius realized it was there. "Mr. Lupin is rubbing off on you," she said.
"Hard to rub off on someone when you won't hardly speak to them," Sirius said, then cursed himself for saying it out loud.
She frowned. "You're still not speaking?"
"Would you want to speak to me, after what I did?" Sirius ducked his head and covered his face again. "I've been trying to put things right, but it's too little too late and I'm not daft, I know I've ruined everything."
She sighed. "Sirius-"
"Look, Madam Pomfrey told me what to take, and I figure Arithmancy will be a feather in my cap. And Muggle Studies might let everyone look passed my surname."
He needed to get off the topic of Remus. It was slightly painful to think about it and he didn't much want McGonagall trying to get in the middle of it. It was bad enough that James spent an hour every week extolling the virtues of Sirius Black to Remus, he didn't need the professors adding to it.
"You don't want to take History?"
He shrugged. "A bit pointless. Same with Runes."
She looked over the list again and then back up at him. "You seem to have yourself sorted."
"Don't have a fortune to fall back on anymore, do I?" Sirius said. "The Potters are great, taking me in, but it's not like I can stay on with them forever."
McGonagall considered him for a moment. "Do you have anything else you want to talk about, Mr. Black?"
Sirius met her stare and they had a bit of a contest for a while, before Sirius looked away. He'd take the loss; it was impossible to outstare McGonagall. "No, Professor," he said. "I've asked Madam Pomfrey loads of questions and she's given me pamphlets."
McGonagall cracked a smile and stood up. Sirius followed a second later and let her lead him to the door. "My office is always open, Sirius, if you ever need anything."
He stared at her for a minute, blinking. He wondered if she'd lost her mind, or if someone was impersonating her, or maybe she'd caught some virus that had made her go soft. He finally settled on saying thank you and slipping out the door. Marnie Durning was waiting impatiently on the other side, twenty minutes early, but Sirius didn't take much notice of her.
Sirius spent the walk back to the common room wondering how on earth he'd managed to get old Minerva to crack a smile twice and what he'd done, precisely, to get her to soften up on him. He paused in front of the portrait and worried his lip between his teeth. James would be waiting for all the sordid details, Peter in tow, but Sirius didn't feel much inclined to share them. It would be a secret for now, until Sirius was sure after OWLs that he'd be able to take all the classes he needed. James would make fun of him for it and Peter would halfheartedly go along with him. The only one that would understand was Moony, but Moony wasn't in a very understanding mood.
He'd have to work on it. Sirius figured if he could get their friendship half way back to normal by the end of the year, he'd call it a victory and bide his time until September to try and wiggle his way back into Remus' life. He supposed it could be a lesson in patience, something Pomfrey told him he'd actually need if he wanted to be a Healer.
He muttered the password and climbed through the portrait hole to a loud, vicious-sounding row. He barely ducked a stinging hex that he was sure wasn't meant for him and when he came up from the carpet, he looked between James and Evans and almost starting laughing hysterically. Divs was a bunch of nonsense, Sirius thought to himself as he skirted around the crowd that had formed around them, and James was a rotten fortune-teller if he was seeing Sirius' doom for his own.
As he started up the stairs, he hoped to himself that Moony was up there. McGonagall had cracked a smile and James hadn't had the opportunity to grill him about his meeting; fortune was favouring him. Maybe Moony would deign to say more than 'pass the chicken, please, Sirius' today.