Samantha had to force herself into keeping a neutral yet still hostile expression. She had of course expected that more people would find out, the wrong people, but it was still a bit shocking to have it confirmed.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said easily, still glaring at the Slytherin in front of her who sneered. He looked positively gleeful.
“Oh let’s not be coy. After all, it’s not every day a Mudblood is considered useful.” Avery hissed, his smile threatening.
“Leave me alone Avery.” Samantha snarled, using all her strength to shove him away from her. However, she didn’t stand a chance against Avery’s six foot frame, and she barely touched him before she was once again slammed against the stone wall, his hand cupped firmly against her throat. Samantha glared up at him, about to retaliate with a swift kick before his next words cut her off. “I’ll torture you if need be, we both know you won’t tell.” His grin widened as Samantha’s eyes narrowed into slits, but she remained silent, keeping her entire body still. Maybe if she just listened to what he had to say he’d go away.
“Now, Cromwell, I’ve been told to have a word with you.” Avery said cheerfully, but it was impossible for him to hide the menace in his voice. “The Dark Lord is willing to keep you alive, if you’ll join our side. It would be more beneficial to use you than dispose of you.” Avery smirked, casually speaking of Samantha’s demise. The brunette only stared at him a moment, violent threats racing to the front of her mind, but instead she spoke softly, knowing that now was a time to remain calm.
“No.” Samantha said simply, keeping her tone short and clipped. But to her surprise, Avery broke out into the widest grin she had yet to see on his face.
“He thought you might say that.” Avery replied, his laughter evident. “In which case he wishes to remind you of your father.” Avery whispered quietly, leaning closer so that Samantha found herself pushing herself tighter against the wall.
“What about my father?” Samantha snapped, trying to keep her voice calm and collected. Don’t show emotion.
For the first time that evening Avery’s eyes widened in shock, just briefly, before she heard him laughing loudly, Samantha’s face turning bright red as she considered her chances of dueling Avery successfully. He had the advantage of his wand already in his hand while hers was buried inside her robes.
“You mean you didn’t know?” Avery asked, sounding astonished. He looked eager to share though.
Avery dipped his head down, bringing his lips right next to Samantha’s ear making a frightening chill travel through her body. She once again resisted the urge to kick him as she felt his fingers press more harshly against her throat.
“You don’t honestly think daddy’s death was an accident?” he breathed. Immediately Samantha’s eyes widened as Avery pulled back, still smirking. Her face paled to bone white and she felt her stomach drop uncomfortably as her knees buckled. If Avery didn’t have a firm grip around her throat she may have collapsed right then. Avery chuckled darkly as he watched realization cloud Samantha’s features immediately followed by absolute fear. Her mask of calm had vanished. “Oh tsk tsk Ms. Cromwell, looks like someone was left out of the loop.” Avery laughed again and Samantha was breathing deeply, trying to keep her rolling stomach and whirling mind at ease. “I guess it’s just important to remember that no one is safe.” He threatened, his eyes shining with delight. “Especially not blood traitors.” Avery hissed, and suddenly he had let go, stepping back from Samantha with ease, and the small girl found herself only supported by the wall, her chest rising up and down rapidly in fear.
She didn’t see Avery go, her eyes were glazed over and her mind was focused on only one thing. But she did hear his parting words.
“Say hello to Black for me will you?” Avery called back pleasantly, and before Samantha could stop herself, she had collapsed.
Samantha wasn’t sure how long she had been on the stone floor, but at one point, a thought flashed through her mind that she should probably move, relocate somewhere she couldn’t be found.
She didn’t realize she was shaking until she tried to get to her feet. Her legs were wobbly as she pushed herself up and she found herself using the wall for support. She continued to take deep breaths, unable to fully comprehend everything that had just happened. Her mind jumped back and forth between what Avery had said about her father, and the threat he had made against Sirius. She wouldn’t stay on either topic for more than a few seconds, too terrified to consider the possibility that either was real.
But as she fumbled with the door handle to what she hoped was an abandoned classroom her breaths were coming in short, sharp gasps. She was nearly hyperventilating and her eyes stung as she attempted to hold back the tears. Finally, when she had managed to open the door, stumbling into the classroom she tried to make her mind focus on her surroundings. She had been lucky, it appeared as though she had indeed found a classroom, but it wasn’t abandoned as she had hoped. Instead she was in the Transfiguration classroom, the notes from the last lesson still on the board.
Samantha could already feel the unwanted tears traveling down her face, she didn’t bother wiping them away, it would be no good. She walked further into the room, leaning against Professor McGonagall’s desk as she took slower deeper breaths. She closed her eyes, her knuckles turning white as she gripped to McGonagall’s desk for dear life, almost as if that desk would be what kept her from completely falling apart. But it had the reverse effect.
Samantha no longer had to concentrate on standing nor breathing, instead her mind was free to wander and it didn’t waste any time before she was replaying the conversation with Avery with sickening accuracy. She clenched her teeth as she remembered what Avery said.
Her father’s death hadn’t been an accident. It had been planned and executed by someone. By a Death Eater.
She squeezed her eyes shut tighter, trying to pretend that this was all an awful dream. That it couldn’t possibly be real. But the pain of her tensed jaw and the cool tears that continued to trail down her face were more than enough proof that she was awake. That it was real.
Her father had died because of her.
She felt sick. Everything Samantha had always feared, all the guilt she felt that she had dragged her family into this, had only been confirmed. If Voldemort hadn’t wanted Samantha, if she had never come to Hogwarts, her father would still be alive. He would not have been murdered.
Samantha let out a shout of anguish as she pushed against the desk, her anger and guilt and terror all bubbling to the surface. Immediately she pulled out her wand, putting a silencing charm around the room and locking the door so as not to be disturbed, before she hastily shoved it back into her robes. Her eyes were blurry from the tears but she couldn’t find it in herself to care. She kept her teeth clenched, once again taking shallow breaths before she was reaching for anything she could destroy.
She started with the parchment on McGonagall’s desk, hastily shredding them to pieces and throwing them to the ground. She moved on to smashing ink bottles, and then ripping apart text books. And when she could no longer physically destroy things in her path, she once again pulled out her wand, screaming curses and jinxes at anything that still stood whole front of her. When she finally stopped, only a couple chairs and desks still intact, Samantha felt her entire body go slack. Her wand fell from her fingertips and her face which had previously been contorted into one of rage, fell into one of complete despair.
She felt nauseas, and once again she could feel herself shaking, before she fell into a heap onto the floor, breaking out into uncontrollable sobs. The anger inside of her had simmered leaving nothing but the guilt and fear. She hated herself more than anyone, more than even Lord Voldemort. It had always been at the front of her mind that her presence at Hogwarts was a threat to her family, but now it was more than that. It was a reality. Her father was dead because of her, and there was nothing she could do to change that.
Which once again brought Samantha to her ‘talk’ with Avery. He had been surprised that she didn’t know, shocked even. He clearly thought she would be aware of this detail, it’s why he was threatening her with it. Why would she know…?
Samantha’s sobs ceased for a few moments as she tried to piece it together, think of why she should know. Once her mind seemed to be focusing on something other than her immense heartbreak her head seemed to clear, and she almost felt stupid for not realizing it sooner.
Someone knew that her father had been murdered. Someone Avery thought would easily tell Samantha. He had mentioned that she was left out of the loop, which clearly meant it was someone she was close with.
She felt herself gasping for air again as it dawned on her who it could possibly be. Who would obviously know the truth about what happened to her father and wouldn’t tell her.
Sirius, James and Peter dragged themselves through the portrait hole, receiving nothing more than a silent disapproving look from the fat lady. She was more than used to their late night excursions and had given up years ago on telling them against it.
Exhausted as the boys might be, they weren’t able to miss Marlene and Lily sleeping soundly in the common room, all their things still spread out on the table and still in their robes. The boys shared a sleepy eyed but questioning look before James quietly approached Lily, gently grabbing her shoulder and waking her. She groaned as she stretched and when her eyes landed on James she frowned, looking particularly confused.
“What are you doing back?” Lily asked quietly, aware that Marlene was still sleeping on the couch across from her.
“It’s morning, Madam Pomfrey is probably bringing Remus back to the hospital wing right now.” James whispered, and then nodded to where Sirius and Peter were still standing. Lily blinked a few times, finally realizing that while it may be undeniably cloudy out, there was light and it was in fact morning.
“Oh, Marls and I must have fallen asleep…” Lily mused, sorting through her foggy brain to figure out what had happened the night before.
“Where’s Sami?” Sirius asked curiously, his brow furrowing just slightly as Lily looked at him in confusion, but then realization dawning on her face.
“She had gone to pick up some snacks in the kitchen last night, Marls and I were waiting for her to get back. She must have just gone straight to bed when she saw us sleeping.” Lily explained and she could see Sirius’ tense shoulders relax.
“Right, well, don’t wake her. I’ll see her in a couple hours.” Sirius yawned and stretched, gesturing to Peter that they head up to bed. The shorter boy nodded, throwing a quick wave towards Lily and James, who was still crouched next to the couch.
“I think I’m gonna try and get a couple hours of sleep if I can, you and Marls should probably head up to your dorm.” James suggested softly and Lily nodded, still looking rather befuddled.
“Right, yeah.” She muttered, then whipped out her wand and quickly gathered all her things together. James gave her a quick kiss before heading towards his own stairs while Lily continued to gather her and Marlene’s things. Then, very gently, she shook Marlene awake, causing the blonde to moan and groan loudly.
“What?” Marlene snapped, not looking happy at all to be awake. “Did Sami finally get back?” She asked, her eyes still closed.
“No, it’s morning. She must have gone straight up to bed when she saw us sleeping.” Lily explained and Marlene finally opened her eyes, scanning the common room briefly before she yawned.
“Bloody hell, she couldn’t have woken us? I’m going to be sore all day from sleeping on that sodding couch.” Marlene grumbled and Lily couldn’t hide the smile on her face as she helped her friend up and they made their way towards the stairs.
The girls were silent as they opened the door to their dorm, not paying attention to anything besides their own beds as they threw their things to the ground. In fact, it was purely by habit that Lily glanced over to Sami’s bed to notice that it was still made and there was clearly no one in there. She stared for a moment, not quite sure what to make of it, and without even asking Marlene she walked towards the bathroom, looking to see if Sami was inside. When she realized she wasn’t in the dorm, she sent Marlene a puzzled and worried look.
“Sami’s not here…” Lily said quietly, furrowing her brow to think. She had never actually seen Samantha come in last night, she had just assumed she went straight up to bed. But there was a sudden uncomfortable feeling in her stomach as Marlene frowned at her.
“Well, where is she then?” Marlene asked, only taking a moment to understand the nervous hesitation in Lily.
“I don’t know, but I just don’t feel right about it.” Lily mused, once again looking to Samantha’s bed. Definitely not slept in.
“Should we ask the boys, ask to see their map?” Marlene suggested and Lily’s eyes brightened, feeling happier than ever at James’ intelligence combined with his need to cause havoc.
Lily nodded eagerly and both girls, significantly more awake than they had been only a few minutes ago, made their way back towards the common room and then up the boys’ stairs to the seventh year dorms. Marlene, who didn’t find it in her to be courteous, threw the door open with a bang, startling Peter so much he nearly fell out of bed, and making Sirius and James jolt awake immediately.
“McKinnon, what the f—“
Marlene cut Sirius off quickly, “Sami’s not up in the dorm. We need the map.” She said shortly, not wanting to waste any time.
“What? You said she went up last night?” Sirius asked, furrowing his brow as he looked at Lily. The red head only blushed, looking incredibly uncomfortable and that nervous feeling in her stomach reappeared.
“I figured she had since she wasn’t in the common room. Marls and I fell asleep waiting for her.” Lily said, watching Sirius carefully as he once again tensed. It was always obvious that he was very protective of Samantha, ever since they were children, and it shouldn’t have been a surprise to Lily by any means, but the way his expression darkened and his shoulders tensed made Lily suddenly aware that maybe that gut clenching feeling wasn’t so absurd.
“James, do you have the map?” Sirius asked calmly, looking over to James who still looked a bit confused as he glanced back and forth between Sirius and Lily. However, he knew when to keep his mouth shut and he felt that at that time it was best.
Quickly James hopped out of bed, rummaging through the pile by his bed until he came up with the worn piece of parchment. Lily and Marlene watched silently from across the room as Sirius muttered under his breath and then his eyes were scanning the map rapidly. When his gaze finally seemed to stop he stared at the map in confusion. Marlene, who couldn’t bare the suspense anymore, snapped.
“Where the hell is she?” Marlene demanded. Sirius snapped out of his stupor before bringing his gaze to Marlene.
“She’s with Professor McGonagall, in her classroom.” Sirius answered calmly, and immediately every face in the room frowned. While it was good that she was clearly alright, not in the hospital wing anyway, they weren’t exactly sure how to interpret the fact that she was with their head of house this early in the morning. “I’m going to check it out.” Sirius muttered, no longer concerned with getting to sleep before he had jumped out of bed and was rummaging through a pile of supposedly clean clothes.
“I’ll go with you.” James said, as he followed the same process, Peter nodding and doing the same as all three boys began to change. Sirius, who was too caught up in his own thoughts, didn’t argue.
“We’re going too.” Lily said firmly. James was about to argue until he saw Lily’s face and reasoned it would not be worth the fight.
“Fine. Let’s go.” Sirius said and quickly stashing the map in his pocket, he began to rush out of the dorm, his wand secure in his hand.
Minerva McGonagall was an early riser by nature. And not just early, the crack of dawn early. It was something about if there is light out there, then you shouldn’t waste it. Which is why, shortly after sunrise, she was briskly walking towards her classroom to prepare for the first lesson. She was mildly confused when she found that her classroom door was locked, she never kept it locked, so when she opened the door, her eyes were narrowed, expecting to find something nefarious.
However, there was no way known she could have been prepared for what was in front of her. It was like a full blown battle had occurred in her classroom, ripped parchment, broken glass and ink stains and broken furniture scattered around the room. Her eyes widened as she continued to stare, absolutely horrified, until she finally saw the cause of the destruction.
She recognized Samantha almost immediately because of the small frame and the hair. She still sat on the floor, in the middle of the classroom, her wand a couple feet away from her. Samantha was facing the wall to the right of McGonagall, her knees pulled up to her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs. Cautiously, because she had no idea what had happened in here, she approached Samantha, and as she got closer to the girl she realized that the usual glowing face of the girl in front of her was sunken and pale. Her eyes were wide and bloodshot and her robes were nearly falling off her shoulder. Samantha paid absolutely no attention to McGonagall as the older woman moved gracefully throughout the rubble and then crouched down in front of her, a distinctly concerned look on her face.
“Ms. Hart, are you alright?” She asked, in a shockingly quiet and soft tone. Samantha didn’t respond, only continued to stare right through her. “Ms. Hart?” McGonagall asked again, a little louder this time. When Samantha only blinked blankly the professor frowned deeply, the concern she had previously felt intensified. “Ms. Hart! Please answer me. Have you been hurt?” McGonagall asked in a much sharper tone.
Slowly, Samantha seemed to focus on the woman in front of her, blinking slowly again as she shook her head very slowly. McGonagall breathed a silent sigh of relief before she once again stood to her feet.
“Can you please explain to me what happened in my classroom?” She asked, in her most intimidating voice.
Samantha wasn’t sure what it was about this question, maybe it was the way she said it, or maybe it was the realization that Samantha had in fact destroyed a classroom, but she suddenly snapped. So quickly, she nearly startled McGonagall, Samantha jumped to her feet, her head held high and her chin out as she gave Professor McGonagall what could only be described as her most regal look.
“I need to see Professor Dumbledore.” Samantha said shortly. McGonagall saved herself from looking affronted before she narrowed her eyes at Samantha.
“First you must—“
“I need to see Professor Dumbledore. Now.” Samantha repeated harshly, and this time McGonagall couldn’t cover her surprise. That was nothing less than an order, and there was something about Samantha at that moment that made Minerva McGonagall not question her, and instead, just obey. And so the two women silently made their way out of the classroom and towards the headmaster’s office.
Sirius was breathing heavily from moving so quickly and angrily through the school, however, right as they were about to turn the corner to Professor McGonagall’s classroom, Peter’s shout stopped him.
“What?” Sirius snapped, looking more irritated than usual. Peter looked intimidated for a moment before nervously clearing his throat.
“Well, just…I don’t think it’s the best idea to just go barging in there Sirius.” Peter said nervously. The other four seventh years gave Peter a somewhat surprised look before all eyes were on Sirius, who was frowning deeply.
“Right, of course.” Sirius muttered, nervously running his hand through his hair. Then his face lit up. “You can sneak in Pete?” he asked. Peter, who rarely got the opportunity to do something worthwhile seized the opportunity and nodded eagerly.
“Y-yeah. Of course. I’ll go see what’s going on.” He said, nodding his head rapidly. James pointed to the empty classroom across the hall and Peter quickly ran in. Seconds later they all saw a rat, scurrying out and continuing the final distance towards the Transfiguration classroom. Sirius, who found it incredibly frustrating having to wait, took out the map from his pocket and quickly glanced down to see the Transfiguration classroom was empty, no one even near it except for Peter who would be arriving any second.
“Fuck.” Sirius muttered, and immediately shoved the map back into his pocket before following Peter. He blindly ran into the room, James, Lily and Marlene right behind him, and what he saw made him freeze.
Peter stood, looking gobsmacked at the room in front of him. He had changed back when he realized no one else was in here. All the seventh years gaped at the room in front of them, the complete and utter destruction of the normally immaculate classroom.
“Bloody fuck.” James gasped, looking horrified at the chalkboard which now lay in stones and sands on the floor.
The gut clenching feeling that had previously resided in their stomachs had tripled.
When Professor McGonagall and Samantha reached the gargoyle guarding Dumbledore’s office, McGonagall curtly gave the password and then both women were marching up the stairs. The door to his office was open, and Professor Dumbledore sat at his desk, reading some text book or another. At the sight of him Samantha felt the rage from last night slowly beginning to simmer again.
“Professor Dumbledore, Ms. Hart requested to speak with you.” McGonagall said in a very professional tone. Samantha ignored the woman to her right and instead, kept her heated and furious gaze on the man at the desk in front of her. Dumbledore, who had noticed her tense expression since she walked in, only quirked his mouth into a frown before nodding.
“Thank you Minerva, I’ll deal with this.” He said serenely, and slowly stood up from his large chair. Samantha clenched her teeth, and when she heard the familiar click of the door locking closed it was like a match to the flame.
“You knew.” Samantha said simply, quietly.
“Ms. Hart, I’m afraid you’ll have to explain—“
“Don’t.” Samantha said, frighteningly quiet. “Do not call me Ms. Hart. Right now I am Samantha Cromwell, daughter to King James Cromwell and I demand to know what happened to him.” She snarled, her eyes flashing violently. Dumbledore’s expression did not change as he walked to the other side of the desk, sitting on the edge as he watched Samantha carefully.
“What do you know so far?” Dumbledore asked softly, not reacting in the slightest to Samantha’s rage. Her eyes were wild as she stared at the man in front of her.
“He didn’t die of a heart attack.” She stated quietly, her voice still threatening.
“No, he did not.” Dumbledore agreed, still softly. Samantha grit her teeth again, wishing for once that Dumbledore would answer her fully, explain something to her.
“It was the killing curse Samantha. It was when we only had about half of the guards on duty as aurors. We have reason to believe it was someone in the ministry, unfortunately Death Eaters have quite a pull and more often than not they are considered esteemed members of the wizarding society.” Dumbledore explained. “The only comfort I can give you is that he died peacefully Samantha.” Dumbledore said softly, his blue eyes watching Samantha closely as her previously scorching eyes seemed to dull. Samantha sighed deeply, once again feeling the familiar sensation of tears prickling at her eyes.
“And you’ve known this since the beginning?” She whispered, trying to keep her voice from cracking.
“Yes.” Dumbledore answered calmly, never taking his eyes away from her.
“Who…who else knows?” She choked out, her arms limp at her side. The strong way she had entered the room seemed to crumble with Dumbledore’s confirmation of her father’s death. Any shred of hope she had that Avery had been lying was gone. “Patrick and John?” She whispered. There was a long pause from Dumbledore.
“They are aware.” He said quietly. Samantha sucked in a huge breath of air as she tried to keep herself from falling apart right then and there. Her own brothers had lied to her about this? Samantha once again tried to control her breathing, but that awful burning feeling of hatred and anger and guilt suddenly erupted through her.
“They are aware.” She said quietly to herself. And then her eyes snapped back up to Professor Dumbledore. “And no one thought to tell me this?!” Samantha shrieked, looking positively wild as her hands went to her hair. “No one thought I would need to know about this? About what happened to my own father?!” She shouted again, her expression was twisted with pain and Dumbledore stood up straighter, for once unsure of what to say. “Everyone has been lying to me! Didn't anyone think that it was important for me to know? After all, it is my fault?!” Samantha had to resist the urge to begin hexing things again.
“Samantha, this is not your fault.” Dumbledore said softly and Samantha let out a heartbreaking sob that had the man in front of her feel pain just from watching her.
“It is. They never would have gone after him if I wasn’t here.” She whispered, shaking her head as tears once again ran down her face.
The two were silent for a moment, Samantha trying to catch her breath while Dumbledore allowed her time to settle down. When she seemed relatively calm he spoke again.
“How did you find out?” He asked, his expression serious.
“Avery. He told me it wasn’t an accident. And if I didn’t fight with Voldemort he wouldn’t be the last.” Samantha choked out and Dumbledore nodded, half expecting that answer. Reluctantly Dumbledore walked back around his desk and sat down, easily conjuring a chair for Samantha. Her exhaustion over the last twelve hours was reason enough for Samantha to sit.
“There are things that need to be discussed, your plans for the future.” Dumbledore said softly, watching Samantha intently. With his words, Samantha was dragged back to the present and her mind immediately snapped to her biggest concern.
“I can’t believe you knew what happened to my father and were going to allow me to live with Sirius.” Samantha suddenly growled, her eyes dangerous as she stared at Dumbledore in pure loathing. “He’ll die. They’ll come after him, it’s a guarantee.” She hissed.
“We have discussed this Samantha. You, Sirius and I have worked out the safest possible plan to keep both of—“
“No. That was before. When it was just the threat that Sirius could get hurt. When I thought no one had attacked before. Things are different now.” She sat up a bit straighter, knowing that this was an argument she would not lose. “I refuse to put him in danger.”
“He’s already in danger. Whether you choose to live with him or not, he can be used to get to you.” Dumbledore stated and Samantha cringed at that thought. “It’s an unavoidable outcome, you and I both know that.”
“I’ll tell him to go into hiding. I’ll make him promise to stay away.” Samantha suggested. She would not let her own selfishness be the cause for Sirius’ danger. She would do everything she could to keep him safe. Dumbledore, however, was doubtful. He watched Samantha for a moment, noticing the desperate and terrified look in her eye, and he frowned, knowing that no matter what he said at that moment, he could not change her mind. But he would try.
“Ms. Cromwell, you know Mr. Black rather well, do you not? His family, his past, his personality?” Dumbledore asked calmly and Samantha nodded, narrowing her eyes suspiciously, unsure of where he was going with this. “Then you are fully aware that you, along with James, Remus and Peter, are the only thing he really has in this world, the only thing he would die for. They are his family, and you are who he loves.” Samantha bit back another sob, wiping at her eyes furiously to keep herself calm. “His loyalty is unquestionable Samantha, and it does not matter what you want sometimes, Sirius will give you what you need. And what you need is protection.” Dumbledore said carefully, seriously.
But Samantha refused to accept this, refused to acknowledge the fact that there was no way to keep Sirius out of this, to keep him out her problems. She had already dragged her family down with her, she would not bring anyone else.
“I will find a way.” She whispered, and then slowly stood up. She saw the look of concern in Dumbledore’s eyes but she ignored it. She knew she had to save Sirius, unfortunately, the only way to save him was to hurt him. “I will not let anyone else die because of me.” She said more strongly, and without another word, Samantha made her way purposefully out of the office, her heart breaking with every step forward.
When Professor McGonagall walked back into her classroom with the intention of cleaning up, her mind was still distracted with everything that had just occurred. But when she saw the five figures standing in shock in the middle of the room she was dragged back.
“May I ask what you are doing here?” She asked brusquely, looking at each student with narrowed eyes. All but Sirius looked over towards their head of house with wide and worried eyes.
“Professor, what happened in here?” Lily asked hesitantly and Professor McGonagall’s tone softened slightly.
“There was a disturbance, nothing more. Everyone is fine.” She answered. “Now, breakfast will be shortly, I suggest you all go get ready.” She said dismissively.
“Er…professor?” James piped up. “Have you seen Sami at all this morning?” He asked casually, already knowing the answer.
“I have. I brought Ms. Hart up to Professor Dumbledore’s office. She had wished to speak with him and she didn’t know the password.”
“Is she alright?” Marlene asked quickly, and all five teenagers noticed that Professor McGonagall paused for just a beat too long.
“She’s fine Ms. McKinnon. Now, back to your common room.” She ordered them again, pointing towards the door. Reluctantly they nodded, all of them slowly walking towards the door, except for Sirius, who stayed behind, still staring at the horror of the room in front of him.
“Mr. Black, please return to your common room.” Professor McGonagall ordered, more sternly this time.
“Professor, please…what happened?” Sirius asked quietly, bringing the full force of his frightened grey eyes towards her. “I know you know something.”
Professor McGonagall watched him sharply for a moment, pursing her lips as she considered what would be best to say.
“I’m afraid I know nothing Mr. Black. I just brought her to the headmaster’s office.” She finally answered, and Sirius slumped his shoulders before nodding and finally making his way out of her office, however, before he had crossed the doorway, she added, “However, I suggest you speak to her as soon as you have the opportunity Mr. Black.”
Sirius’ eyes widened in worry before he was nodding, and quickly hurrying down the halls after his friends.
When the Gryffindors arrived back in their common room it was still early, but there were a few students already on their way down for breakfast. The only one they paid any attention to however, was the one sitting stock still by the fire place, red eyes, wild hair, and wrinkled robes.
“Sami!” Lily gasped, and was running to her friend, quickly followed by Marlene, the boys right behind them. Samantha looked towards them, putting a small smile on her face as she watched them approach. “Sami, love, what happened?” Lily asked softly yet frantically, kneeling in front of the chair by Samantha.
“I ran into Avery last night.” Samantha said quietly, glancing towards Sirius whose eyes were flashing dangerously. She could see his hand still wrapped around his wand. “Sirius, please don’t.” She begged him, quietly. Almost instantly Sirius’ body relaxed, but his eyes were still intent on Samantha. He had never seen her look so frail. “He used the Cruciatus curse on me again.” Samantha whispered quietly, her gaze still on Sirius whose jaw was tense, James imitating his stance. “No one was there to stop him this time, so it freaked me out, and I went to McGonagall and had her bring me to Dumbledore.” Samantha lied easily, her friends all looking absolutely horrified.
But if they had known the truth it might have been worse.
“Why aren’t you in the hospital wing?” Marlene choked out, as she looked Sami over from head to toe nervously.
“You know me, I refused to go.” Samantha tried to joke, and while most of her friends believed her, Sirius still remained skeptical, watching her carefully. “Anyway, I’ll be fine. I’m just a bit jittery, but I’m going to skip classes today.” She said easily. Lily and Marlene nodded, both standing up slowly.
“Of course, do you want us to stay with you?” Lily asked and Samantha quickly shook her head.
“No, you lot go. I just need to rest.” Once again she gave her friends a forced smile and they all watched her apprehensively, but nodded. “Just, promise me you won’t do anything,” and Samantha looked towards the boys again who all frowned at her words. “I don’t want you to make it worse. Please.”
Very reluctantly, and with his jaw still clenched James nodded curtly, Peter doing the same, but Sirius remained completely still. Samantha hadn’t expected him to agree to her terms, but she planned to talk to him privately anyway.
“You go get ready for breakfast, I’m going to wait until the dorms clear out until I go up.” She said, and they all nodded, slowly making their way towards their own stairs, but throwing nervous glances back at Samantha, and Sirius who hadn’t moved from his spot, his eyes still glued to her.
“I’m going up to my dorm. And after James and Peter come back down I want to talk to you.” He said surprisingly calmly. Samantha frowned, avoiding eye contact with him as she felt her chest tighten.
“I don’t think—“
“If you don’t come up, I’ll come get you. Either way we’re talking about this.” Sirius argued, his tone showing that he wouldn’t budge at all. After a long pause Samantha nodded, biting down on her lip painfully as she kept her watery eyes focused on the floor. She took a deep breath when she felt Sirius kiss the top of her head and as soon as he had disappeared up the stairs she slumped back, terrified of what she had to do.
Fifteen minutes later Samantha was slowly climbing the stairs towards the boys’ seventh year dorm. She passed a few students on their way to breakfast, all giving her strange looks, but none of them commented when they saw her pale and sunken face.
Samantha paused outside the doorway, wiping away any more lone tears before she took a deep breath. She had planned to talk to Sirius, she just hoped it wouldn’t have to be so soon. Finally, without knocking, she carefully opened the door to the boys’ seventh where there were only a few torches lit around the room. The clouds that had appeared earlier that morning had darkened and the sound of rain pounding against the windows made for what would have been a comfortable setting if not for the circumstances. Samantha glanced to Sirius’ bed, but he wasn’t there, and when she saw the door to the restroom closed she heaved a sigh of relief and closed the door behind her and walked across the room to Sirius’ bed.
The blankets were kicked to the foot of the bed from when Sirius had hastily left only an hour or so ago. Slowly Samantha climbed into the bed, lying back against the pillow and inhaling deeply as she took in the scent of Sirius. As she closed her eyes, enjoying the moment of peace, she heard the door to the bathroom swing open and she instantly sat up, looking to where Sirius’ wet hair hung in his face and he wore nothing but a pair of flannel pajama pants and a black t-shirt. When Sirius saw Samantha lying on his bed, watching him, he frowned, and quickly made his way across the room to sit at the foot of the bed.
“I’m staying with you today.” He said quietly, and Samantha nodded while sitting up to face him.
“Thank you.” She said softly.
“Something else happened last night Sami. Something you’re not telling me.” Sirius leaned forward, his expression intense as he tried to watch Samantha’s expression for any clue, but as always when she wanted to, it was a mask.
“I told you everything Sirius. It’s just that there was no one there to stop him this time.” She whispered, and Sirius cringed, the guilt flooding through him. “Don’t do that, don’t blame yourself.” Samantha added hastily, moving forward so that she was kneeling right in front of him, her eyes wide.
“I wish you wouldn’t walk around by yourself Sami. At least not at night.” He voice gruff.
“I hadn’t thought of it honestly, nothing had happened since last year. Barely a peep.” She tried to smile but the action brought tears to her eyes again. She hated herself for getting so emotional, for what she was about to do.
“Sami, I saw the Transfiguration classroom. All of us did.” For the first time her eyes gave something away in her surprise. That had not been something she was expecting. “What aren’t you telling me?” He asked again, reaching forward and cupping her cheek. Samantha leaned into his touch, holding her hand to his face and took a deep breath, prepared to lie again.
“Avery knows who I am. He told me last night.” Samantha whispered and Sirius’ eyes only widened briefly in surprise. “I expected them to find out, but I had hoped it wouldn’t be so soon. It just caught me off guard.”
“Did he say anything else?” Sirius asked, raising his brow suspiciously. He still felt as if there wasn’t something else there, something she was trying to hide from him, and for the life of him he couldn’t figure out what.
“No, it just surprised me. Add that to the curse and I was a mess. I went into McGonagall’s classroom and destroyed everything in sight.” She whispered, the mask once again set on her face.
“Merlin Sami, I thought…” Sirius sighed, shaking his head, for the first time since he had walked back into the common room that morning, a sense of relief washed through him.
“You thought what?” She asked, curious.
“I thought maybe you tried to fight him, that you were hurt, worse, and you just weren’t telling me. The way that room looked Sami…” Sirius shook his head again and Samantha frowned.
“I was upset Sirius. I’m fine now though.” She lied again, and this time Sirius believed her. Part of Samantha wished he hadn’t, because she could feel it, she was walking on threads now and if Sirius pushed her a little bit harder he may have found out the truth. And while Samantha desperately wanted Sirius to know, desperately wanted him to find some way to keep him safe and be with her, she knew that was impossible. So keeping him safe was more important, which meant she had to keep her mouth shut. “I just want to rest.” She added on and Sirius nodded, his other hand reaching forward to brush the hair out of her face.
“Absolutely, let me just get you something to sleep in.” He said more calmly than before. With a gentle kiss, Sirius finally lifted himself out of his bed and walked towards his trunk, Samantha watching him longingly as she thought of how he always knew what she needed, without her ever having to ask. After a moment Sirius came up with a t-shirt and pants similar to his and he handed them to her. She gave him the best smile she could manage and quickly jumped up, going to change.
When she came back Sirius was already under the covers, the torches in the room put out and the drapes to the window closed. Samantha threw her clothes on the floor by Sirius’ bed and hesitantly climbed in next to him, making sure that she was facing him. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room Samantha watched Sirius, his eyes closed, and she was sure he was nearly asleep.
“You didn’t shave.” She said quietly, her fingers gently brushing against the hair on his cheek and jaw.
“You like when I don’t shave.” Sirius mumbled, eyes still closed, but he leaned into her touch, almost smiling to himself.
“You’re right.” She sighed, and annoyingly she felt another wave of tears springing to her eyes as she watched Sirius’ breathing become deeper and more steady. He had reached his arm out, wrapping it around her waist and dragging her close to him so that they were pressed tightly against each other. Samantha watched Sirius silently, still gently touching his face, as he fell asleep.
Despite the fact that she had been up all night and her body was exhausted and it was taking all her strength to keep her eyes open, Samantha forced herself to stay awake. But when she knew she wouldn’t be able to stay awake any longer she sighed.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get another chance to tell you this Sirius,” Samantha whispered silently to his sleeping form, swallowing deeply as she held back a sob. “But I love you. More than anything, and no matter what I say, I always will.”
But Sirius didn’t hear her, and after she softly kissed his cheek she fell asleep next to him, for what she told herself would be the last time.