Chapter 15 : A Very Unhappy New Year
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(I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so so so so sorry! I haven't updated in ages, I know. College is distracting. Please forgive me and enjoy this chapter! xo RED)
Chapter 15~ A Very Unhappy New Year
The minute I saw them, my stomach dropped to my shoes and my heart leapt into my throat, beating faster than I’d ever felt it before. Was this what it felt like to have a heart attack? My left side wasn’t tingling or numb. I had no pains in my chest, more panicked tightness, but no pain. So it couldn’t be a heart attack, could it? I wasn’t sure. All I could feel was my pulse pounding and the nausea rolling in my abdomen. If I didn’t get out of here, Andy’s dinner would be all over the polished marble floors.
They’d followed me, or someone else had and they’d come to tell my family. But either way, they knew where I’d been tonight. I would no longer have to agonize over the decision and its possible ramifications because I wouldn’t have to make the decision. My family was going to throw me out, or worse. Maybe they would torture me. Kill me? Part of me refused to believe them capable of murdering me but another part knew they’d probably all killed for their cause before (or, at least, my brothers had). The fact that I was the baby of the family would probably mean nothing in light of my betrayal.
Purity of the blood and the Dark Lord reigned supreme to them. Anyone who challenged that, family or not, would be eliminated.
This was it for me. It was all over.
And, though I faced death at the hands of my family, part of me almost felt like a burden had been lifted. There would be more pretending. No more lying. No more fraternizing with people I couldn’t stand.
My only concern now was how this would go down. Would they let me leave? Could I get my stuff? Would I even be able to escape at all if they decided to cut the bad branch of the family tree off entirely?
I don’t know why exactly I didn’t notice the formal-wear but it probably had something to do with the inner panic attack I was currently experiencing. It was no ordinary panic attack. In fact, panic was not even a strong enough word for what I was feeling. My insides were in a chaotic frenzy and it felt like my skin was the only thing keeping them from going everywhere at once. I felt like I might combust.
Regardless though, I noticed their unusual attire when my mother said, “Where have you been, young lady? Oh, never mind! Go get dressed. Now!”
She tried to shoo me upstairs but I stood rooted to the floor in shock and confusion. “D-dressed? Wh-“
“Told you she forgot, mum,” Milo smirked. It wasn’t a malicious, you’re-so-getting-thrown-out smirk but more an amused, silly-baby-sister-would-lose-her-head-if-it-weren’t-attached smirk. It was teasing and indulgent. His eyes were warm and laughing, the way they had been all break, not cold and calculating as I expected.
I glanced at Markus, his eyes were even warmer and an adoring smile danced on his lips. Even my dad was fighting a smile. I realized his own personal agitation had less to do with me and more to do with the fact that he didn’t want to go to whatever formal event it was I’d forgotten about and I was prolonging things with my tardiness.
“Forgot what?” I asked, my eyebrow knitting together.
“It’s New Year’s Eve!” My mother exclaimed, exasperatedly. “We’re supposed to be at the Malfoys’ New Year’s Eve Ball right now!”
New Year’s Eve.
I was late for a ball. That’s why they were mad. That’s why they were all in the foyer waiting for me in their formal-wear.
Oh. My. God.
Half of me was suddenly high on the fact that I was not going to face death, torture or being thrown out in the cold with just the clothes on my back tonight. The other half however, was crashing like a bird that had just been shot down by a hunter, freedom from pretense had been short lived but sort of sweet in its own way.
“Go! Go! You need to get ready!” My mother fussed. “I set your dress out on your bed already. Do you want my help with your hair and makeup?”
“No, I’ve got it,” I murmured, trying to shake off my haze. I hurried up the stairs and into my room and shut the door tightly behind me before sinking to the floor. It took me a few seconds to realize I was crying but when I did it just made more tears spill over.
What was wrong with me? Relief warred with grief as I tried to get a grip on what had just happened. I had had a taste - if only in my head- with what the consequences of my decision would look like. If I told them it would be ten times worse than only thinking they knew a few minutes ago. I thought back to what Andromeda said. It had been worth it for her, would it be worth it for me?
I sat there in a ball for about five minutes before my teary eyes spotted the blue evening gown I’d be ringing in the New Year with. It was gorgeous- of course- with a fitted bodice, sweetheart neckline and flaring skirt. No doubt, Rosalie and Tamora had helped pick it out. Was I ever going to be allowed to pick my own dresses?
I sighed wearily and wiped the tears from my cheeks, pulling myself back up. If I didn’t go down there soon my mother would be coming up to see what was taking me so long. And that, I was sure, would produce uninvited questions.
I stepped into the dress grudgingly, did my hair by magic and applied as little make up as I could get away with. Thankfully my pores and hormones were getting along today, despite the fact that I was PMSing, so I didn’t need to layer on concealer to hide any annoying breakouts. I wore a simple silver necklace with a small sapphire dangling from it (a gift Sirius had given me for Christmas last year) and matching sapphire stud earrings.
I took a few deep breaths as I stared at my reflection in the mirror. When I finally decided I would pass my mother’s inspection and that I could do so without crying again, I went downstairs.
“What do you think?” I asked when I reached the foyer.
“Beautiful,” my mother answered absently. “Let’s go.”
“I can’t believe we’re missing Michael Moon’s party,” Rosalie muttered next to me.
This did not surprise me. The annual Moon brothers’ bash was always the same night as the Malfoy ball and Rose always wanted to be there rather than in the Malfoy Manor (though she wasn’t exactly alone in this wish). It was the biggest Hogwarts party of the year (outside of the castle itself that is). Michael Moon was a seventh year Ravenclaw who had somehow managed to remain friendly and neutral with everyone. Purebloods and Muggleborns alike loved Michael (I should ask him for some tips).
“Just wait until they get a bit more smashed and then we can slip out without them noticing,” replied Rosier in her ear.
My cousin smiled mischievously as he nuzzled her neck and I fought the urge to puke all over them. “Sounds good to me. As long as we make it before midnight. You coming, Mirabelle?”
I had no desire to go anywhere with those two but I didn’t want to stay at the Malfoy manor either so I shrugged and said, “I suppose so. If Bas is up for it.”
“If I’m up for what?” Rabastan’s arms coiled around my waist and I felt his breath on my neck.
“Sneaking out of here to go to Moon’s party when all the adults are too smashed to notice,” Rosier answered with a smirk.
“Fantastic. I’m in,” Rabastan said before taking my hand. “Shall we dance, love?”
I let my boyfriend lead me to the floor with a sick churning in my stomach that had absolutely nothing to do with how tightly he held me to him and everything to do with Michael Moon’s party.
Everyone went to this party. EVERYONE.
I wasn’t sure that I was up for another party at which Sirius would be present again (and there wasn’t a single speck of doubt in my mind that he would be). What if he decided that he couldn’t wait for our “talk” until we got back to Hogwarts and we were overheard by one of the Slytherins? What if he had a date? What if he snogged some girl in front of me again?
As I danced with my boyfriend, a million different scenarios played out in my head. Most of them ended horribly, with Rabastan or Rosalie finally figuring out where my real loyalties were and myself being disowned before I could smuggle my stuff out of my house. Some of them, though, slipped into fantasies of myself and Sirius in some tantalizingly private corner of the house, far away from all of the rest of the guests.
I imagined slipping away from Rabastan and my cousin to explore the rest of the house. Sirius following me into some room a floor or two above the party. I imagined the words we’d whisper and the declarations of love that would be made. But, the main thing I imagined was what we’d do behind a locked door. How I’d tangle my fingers in his curls and he’d slip his under my gown, how our lips would weld together and never part, how we’d continue where we left off without any interruptions or unpleasant recollections of other girls he’d kissed to stop us.
A tiny piece of me felt guilty for harboring these dreams while in Rabastan’s arms but most of me just wished hopelessly that such fantasies had a chance of coming true.
It was as I imagined lying on a bed with Sirius that I realized something.
“Hmm?” He sounded as if I’d interrupted some deep thinking.
“I don’t have anything to change into when we sneak off to Michael’s.”
“Don’t worry,” said Rosalie, who I hadn’t realized was dancing so near until she’d spoken. “I’ve got it covered.”
I didn’t ask what she meant because, after fifteen years, I’d learned that I didn’t want to know all of Rosalie’s methods. It was just better that way.
Four more dances, two glasses of pink wine, and one drunken episode from Mrs. Parkingson later, it was time. It was clear that the adults were thoroughly smashed and would fail to notice our absence, the four of us snuck off to the study.
“Here,” Rose said shortly. She reached into her tiny silver clutch and I was mildly surprised when her entire arm was engulfed in the small bag. No doubt she’d enchanted it to fit a multitude of items she felt to be necessities. I couldn’t help but be impressed; the Undetectable Extension Charm was tricky, even for me (a Ravenclaw). I’d only managed it three times. “Wear these.”
She shoved some clothes into my hand and told me to go into the closet and change. I groaned and griped but, in the end, stepped into the surprisingly roomy closet to peel off my ball gown and put on Rose’s clothes. I stepped out, feeling ridiculous and horridly exposed.
“Rose, I think you gave me the wrong outfit,” I told her, pulling uncomfortably at the short skirt (who would choose a skirt in the middle of winter?). It was a tight black item paired with a forest green top with a plunging neck line.
“No, I didn’t.” She told me, already dressed to the nines in a fire engine red, off the shoulder top with a white skirt even shorter than the one I was already wearing. “I chose that top especially for you. It makes your eyes pop nicely.”
“I like it,” Rabastan told me and I saw that he’d changed out of dress robes into jeans and a blue shirt. “It makes you look sexy.”
“Easy for you to say,” I scoffed at his suggestive grin. “You get to wear jeans.”
“C’mon, Mira,” Rosier chimed in. “Loosen up.”
I glowered at him.
“You might as well stop whining,” Rose told me as she took down her updo and shook out her long blonde curls. “It’s your only option.”
She flicked her wand at me and I felt my own updo fall and my curls drape over my shoulders freely. It actually helped me feel a bit more covered to have my hair down, a bit less exposed. But not by much.
“Fine,” I grumbled.
“Let’s go then, shall we?”
I thought we’d be going be Floo Powder but Rose’s horrified look about the subject when I brought it up was my answer. Of course, Rosalie wouldn’t want to risk getting dirty.
“Then how do you suppose we’re going to get there? Brooms?”
“Of course not,” she told me. “We’re apparating.”
“Um, Ro? I can’t apparate, remember? I’m only fifteen.”
“You can’t apparate but we can. You’ll go sidelong with Rabastan, obviously.”
“But, my Trace-”
“You won’t be apparating, technically, so the Trace won’t matter.”
“Yeah, oh. Now can we leave please?” Rosier said impatiently.
I glowered at him but took Rabastan’s arm nonetheless. Seconds later, I felt the unpleasant sensation of apparition. I held my breath until my feet touched the ground again and opened my eyes tentatively.
We were outside of a handsome manor, the kind my mother would have thoroughly approved of, with expertly trimmed hedges and ivy neatly draped on it’s face. The entire ground floor seemed to glow a haunting blue and muffled music thudded from somewhere inside.
Rabastan slid his hand into mine and then began to pull me through the gate and up the walk, through the superbly manicured gardens, behind Rosier and Rose. My stomach turned uneasily as Rosier knocked the door once with his wand once and it swung opened. I gasped.
The party was not only hopping but the inside of the house was even more beautiful than the outside had been and somehow the blue glow seemed to make it even more enchanting. We moved into the crowds of loud, gyrating teenagers and Rosier lead us directly to some of their fellow Slytherins (who’d been lucky enough to get out of or not be invited to the Malfoys’ Annual New Years Eve Ball).
I groaned, knowing that Rabastan had no hope of hearing it over the noise of the party. It was harder, by far, to hang out with these Slytherins when I knew there was another option. Usually, during breaks, I had no other option (well, not since Sirius had been disowned), I had to hang out with the purebloods in my family circle and their Slytherin friends or with my family or (my preferred option) spend my time alone. But my friends were at this party, as were plenty of other people I would get along with better than a bunch of Slytherins. I had other options. I had a whole house full of other options. But I couldn’t seize the opportunity to get some non-Slytherin- socialization in, because how suspicious would it look to ditch my cousin and boyfriend who I’d come with? However much I wanted to, I couldn’t just let go of Rabastan’s hand and walk away from the group to join my friends across the giant sitting room where the main part of the party raged.
So, I stood next to my boyfriend and did my best to laugh when I was supposed to and joined in on the cheerful banter among them as if my full attention was on this little group. It was not.
The cells in my body, while aware of Rabastan’s arm around my waist, did not seem to care about it. Not because I was used to having a Death Eater’s arm around me (though by now, I suppose I should’ve been). No, it was because every cell in my body was aware of another presence in the house. Every ounce of me that I could spare from the Slytherin group’s conversation was concentrating on a figure who, like my friends, was also across the packed sitting room.
Sirius stood with James and the other Marauders among a pack of mostly Gryffindors. I’d like to say that he watched me intently with that sizzling, broody stare of his. I’d like to say that he only had eyes for me and that it was obvious he was still thinking about our kiss. But, he wasn’t and it wasn’t. However, for once, there wasn’t a girl on his arm and he wasn’t flirting with any. I took comfort in this trivial fact. Instead, he was laughing at some joke I could not hear and enjoying conversation I could not take part in.
My heart gave an empty sort of pang, I longed to go over there. I ached to march through the blondes that hovered at the edge of his circle, past the Gryffindors who constantly surround him, and fling my arms around him. I imagined he’d wrap his strong arms around me, lift me from the ground, and spin me, until I squealed that I was getting dizzy, like he always used to. I fantasized again about his lips on mine, my hands in his curls, my legs wrapped around his waist. How it would feel to slide my tongue-
“Mirabelle? Earth to Mirabelle?” Rosalie laughed.
“Huh?” I snapped out of my fantasy, realizing that I’d been staring into the space between Rosier and Avery and that my cousin had been asking me a question. The entire group was grinning at me in amusement. Silly Mira, staring into space again.
“I’m going to get some Firewhiskey,” she repeated. “You want one?”
“Uh, no thanks, Rose.” I said clearing my throat.
My cousin simply shrugged and said, “Suit yourself.”
She came back a few minutes later with Firewhiskey for everyone. Even me.
And, though I had told her no, I took it politely and pretended to sip at it as everyone else in the circle went through four or five more. When they were all slobbering drunk, my boyfriend became involved in a very vehement conversation about Potion regulations with Mulciber (though I’m sure neither of them knew anything about Potions regulations) and Rose and Rosier disappeared (no doubt to go violate a perfectly good bedroom), that’s when I took my chance.
I mumbled something about going to “freshen up” in the bathroom and slipped away from the Slytherins, unnoticed by my boyfriend or anyone else. Instead of marching over to Sirius or joining my Ravenclaw friends, however, I went up the stairs to roam the house alone. If I went with either of the first two options, I would be sure to cause a scene. Rabastan might have been drunk and he probably would never remember it but I was sure he would not like it if he saw me with people who were not his friends at this party. I didn’t want to test it either way. I prayed silently that Rose and Rosier had actually made it into a room before they started shagging so that I had no chance of running into them in the maze of corridors and set off in the most untraveled looking direction. I wanted to get away from people. My head ached with all of the day’s events and I needed quiet to untangle my thoughts, at least partially.
I wasn’t terribly concerned about being lost in this massive manor house. I probably should have been since I could no longer hear the thumping bass of the blaring party music. But I just couldn’t make myself feel concerned in the calm quiet corridor. It was peaceful here. I could finally hear myself think. The solidarity was oddly comforting, the silence a nice change.
Well, it was nice while it lasted.
My heart jumped into my throat and I whirled around on the spot.
Sirius stood behind me leaving against the wall, looking as if he often snuck up on girls who were in love with him in dark corridors. Which, I suppose, for all I knew he did.
“You have got to stop doing that,” I told him in my best irritated voice. I wasn’t about to let him know that I was, in fact, terrified and thrilled to see him here. The fantasy I’d had in Rabastan’s arms earlier at the ball was suddenly a tantalizing reality and my stomach flipped with anticipation.
“Well, how else am I going to talk to you? You treat me like a pariah when people are around.”
My eyes narrowed. “It’s not like I have a choice!”
“There’s always a choice, Mir,” he countered, taking a step closer to me.
“Bullocks,” I spat at him. “You know better than anyone that when one leaves to be a blood traitor anyone they were close to falls under suspicion. Or have you forgotten when Andromeda left?”
“Funny you should mention Andy,” he smirked. The sparkle in his eyes made my stomach do another flip for several reasons. One being that it told me he knew. He knew I’d gone to see her. But did he know what we’d discussed? “She told me an interesting story about a visitor she had.”
I sighed resignedly and raised my eyes to the ceiling where the firelight from the torches danced. “Fine, yes. I snuck out to see her. What of it?”
“I don’t think your boyfriend would approve,” he replied, he was still smirking blithely but his voice had a bitter edge to it.
“What business is it of yours?” I glared at him, crossing my arms defensively.
This was not what I had fantasized about. There was too much talking and too little snogging in this reality. Instead of being lost in lust, I was just getting annoyed. I didn’t want to argue with Sirius anymore, I wanted to kiss him. But I didn’t want him to know that so I continued to be hostile. Why did he always insist on trying to get a rise out of me?
“It’s very much my business, Mira,” his face and voice became serious as he took yet another step towards me.
I scoffed derisively, “How? How the hell is it any of your-?”
I didn’t get to finish because, once again, I found myself silenced by the lips of Sirius Black.
It was better than my fantasies. Better than anything I could have come up with in my imagination.
He held my face in both of his hands, keeping me from pulling away I suppose. What he didn’t know was that I was not in any way willing to move. My mother, Milo, and Rabastan could have all walked up on us and I would not have pulled away even slightly, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed them. I was too caught up in this delicious new feeling.
It was a mix of strange and familiar. His hands on my face, his entire body pressing mine blissfully into the wall, the taste of butterbeer and Firewhiskey on his tongue, his five o’clock shadow against my chin. It was all Sirius and it all made me weak at the knees.
After my initial shock, I responded enthusiastically to his lips, wrapping my arms around his neck and tangling my fingers into the little downy-soft hairs at the bak of his head. Once I’d made it clear, I had absolutely no intention of moving away his hands traveled from my cheeks, tantalizingly sliding down my neck before resting at my waist. It was such a different sensation, Sirius’s hands on my waist, more intimate than I would have expected.
He’d touched me there before but never in this way, serious and steady. It was always in a silly way, usually to lift me up and throw me over his shoulder so he could throw me into a pool of freezing water fully clothed or something. So, the way he was holding me now felt completely foreign and it sent a warm sensation tingling through my veins. My skin felt hot and my pulse was pounding so hard he could probably feel it but a chill ran down my spine. Every sense and every cell in my body was electrified. The only part of my body that seemed to have shut off, for once, was my brain. It was as if the force with which his lips had come down on mine had knocked it clear out of my skull. And I was entirely okay with that. The fuzzy haze in it’s place didn’t bother me, it didn’t tell me to stop, it didn’t remind me that I had a boyfriend or that my mother might quite literally murder me if she found out what I was doing right now- it just let me be. I didn’t want to think, I wanted to feel.
I wanted to feel his lips as they kneaded mine, I wanted to feel his teeth graze my bottom lip and his right left hand slide into my hair as the other curled even more tightly around my waist. I wanted to feel the kisses he trailed down my jawline and my neck as I caught my breath and his breath on my face as he whispered my name breathlessly- just once- before claiming my lips with his own once more.
I lost track of time completely as we kissed with abandon in that dark hall. I was so swept up in the feelings that kissing Sirius sent buzzing through my body, a heard of elephants carrying mandrakes on their backs could have stampeded by and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.
Sirius, however, must not have been nearly as involved as I was because he heard her and I (of course) didn’t. She must have made some sort of noise because, all of the sudden, he stiffened and broke our embrace.
She was speaking to him even before I’d turned my head.
“Sirius, we got a message. James already left and he told me to come find you because they need all of us,” Lily Evans said cryptically, with disapproval lathering her voice. She stood before us, hand on her hip, long red hair hanging down her back carelessly, eyes tight and brows knit together ever so slightly. Her emerald eyes were piercing but they were trained on Sirius (I sensed this was pointed).
Sirius cleared his throat and stepped away from me before stuttered. “Shit, uh-um, okay. I’d best catch up to him then.” He looked back at me eyes regretful and apologetic, his face serious. “We’ll talk at school, yeah?”
I couldn’t seem to access my vocal chords so I just nodded.
He took my hand and gave it a squeeze then- much to my surprise- kissed me once more, a longing sort of kiss, before turning and walking away.
Cold air rushed harshly to replace where his body had been pressed to mine and my heart was in my throat as I sunk back into reality. I was coming down from my Sirius high in a crash and burn fashion. I was so distracted by the complete flip my feelings took as soon as he was gone that I hardly noticed Lily Evans was still standing before me until she spoke.
“I don’t understand you.”
I looked at her, eyes widening. I’d spoken probably all of five words to the girl in my five years at Hogwarts. The only reason she knew I existed was because I was Sirius Black’s little friend who enjoyed tearing the mickey out of James Potter-who was obsessed with her. We’d never been friends or even familiar with each other. So, I was a bit confused at the forward angry-but-candid tone.
“Um, sorry?” I replied, hesitantly.
“First, you and Sirius are sickeningly close, then you completely ostracize him when he finally follows what he believes in, and now you’re stringing him along in dark corridors while your Death Eater boyfriend and his cronies are downstairs. Are you that cruel and selfish?”
I blinked at her in shock. Trying to formulate a coherent thought to defend myself against this sudden ambush. I was still too fuzzy from Sirius’s kissing to access my Ravenclaw wit. I couldn’t comprehend quite what was happening because none of it fit into my schema of Lily Evans.
She was nice, perfect and proper. She was most likely to be Head-freaking-girl next year. The only person I’d ever seen her confront like this was James Potter. And everyone knew that was only because she didn’t want to admit she was madly in love with him. She didn’t know me well and she’d never before given a damn about Sirius (one of the reasons my opinion of her had been high until now-she wasn’t one of the bimbos). So why the hell was she yelling at me?
Before I could form a react to her first attack she continued on.
“Oh, of course, I know you probably have never heard the word ‘no’ in your entire life. Mummy and daddy have taught you that the world revolves around you but, newsflash, princess- it doesn’t. Sirius has been through a hell of a lot and you have no right to play with his feelings like this,” she fumed, her eyes blazing into me- all judgement and accusations. “He was really torn up when you wouldn’t talk to him, when you wouldn’t even acknowledge him, and if all you’re going to do is hurt him then perhaps you should just go back where you belong. Back to mummy and daddy and your Death Eater-”
That did it.
I finally relocated my vocal chords and the anger that had been slowly building with each of her words was released.
“Newsflash, princess,” I cut across her. “It is none of your damn business what happens between Sirius and me. Last term, you wouldn’t have even cared, so why my personal life is suddenly of interest to you now, I don’t know.” I told her, my voice seething. “But let’s get one thing absolutely straight. You have no idea what my life is like, so don’t pretend you have a clue. I have never lead Sirius on, all our lives it has been the reverse. So you wanna talk selfish and abandonment? Go talk to him. He left me. He left me in the situation I am in and basic survival instincts tell you to adapt or die. I acclimated myself, I tried to please my family so they wouldn’t hate me. I tried to fit in and pretend that my best friend hadn’t left me by myself in that hell without so much as a ‘Hey, I ran away and all of the Purebloods are going to keep you under a fucking microscope for the rest of the year’ warning,” I told her, my voice rising.
Her eyes had widened ever so slightly, though I could tell she was trying to keep her hard expression. She was clearly surprised. I guess she hadn’t expected me to fight back. She hadn’t expected my to defend myself with the facts. She had expected me to meekly take her verbal abuse and scurry off so she could bask in her own perfection- the twit. She had expected a strictly one-sided attack, further proof of how very little this girl actually knew me.
When she was thoroughly caught off guard, I went in for the kill. “And speaking of leading people on, talked to James Potter lately?”
Her eyes widened without restraint now and I knew I had hit the nail on the head. I had heard snippets of gossip among the tawdry tales of the drama Sirius and I were supposedly living, that things were heating up between Lily Evans and James Potter.
They had always bickered like an old married couple but everyone in Hogwarts could see they were eventually going to end up together. Up until today, I’d always thought the Evans could do better- now I was wondering, though I really disliked Potter, if it might not be the reverse.
According to the Hogwarts gossip, James Potter was using a new approach and the redhead before me was not entirely unaffected by his charms. He was allegedly doing his best to show her that he could be the responsible man she wanted. (Though, honestly, how successful could that really be considering it’s James Potter.) He was trying to be the man of her dreams. However, she continued to refuse him.
She was caught and she knew it. I could tell by the look in her eyes that she knew I had her. (So, perhaps the gossips at Hogwarts actually did get it right every once in a while.)
“Yeah, you’re a bigger topic of gossip than I am, princess. And from what I’ve seen and heard, you’ve been leading that boy on for ages. So don’t you dare criticize me and my life when you know absolutely nothing. Nothing,” I was finished and she was stunned into silence.
Having won, my adrenaline still pumping through my veins (whether from the argument or the pre-cursing kiss I wasn’t entirely sure), I stomped off in the direction that I had come from. I left her standing there, still semi-frozen in surprise and blinking in confusion. Sirius, or rather James, must have fed her a different version of events. She had a false notion of me going into this attack. Typical.
I wondered scathingly what the other version was and how much of it Potter had twisted in his retelling. And what the hell was it to Lily Evans anyway? She’d always looked at Sirius as James Potter’s mindless, playboy, partner-in-crime. Why all of the sudden did she care about some girl hurting him? I was so frustrated I could have pulled all of my hair out. Every inch of me seethed.
Still fuming but trying very hard not to show it, I stumbled my way back to the party- hoping faintly through my anger that my absence had gone unnoticed.
No sooner had I begun wading through the throngs of gyrating, laughing, and slurring teenagers in search of my boyfriend and his friends when Rosalie appeared in front of me. She looked almost sober and neither Rosier nor Rabastan were with her. Immediately, I was worried.
“There you are!” She exclaimed at the sight of me. “I’ve been looking everywhere! Where the hell were you?”
“Rose, what’s wrong? Where’s Bas?” I asked, ignoring her question, her words and the frustration in them.
“They had to leave,”she told me. “I only stayed behind to find you. We have to go.”
“We do?” I asked, my voice raising an octave in confusion and fear.
Before I could ask why, she grabbed my arm and started pulling me towards the door, plowing through everyone in her way. My stomach turned uneasily, I had a bad feeling about this. A feeling that told me this was no coincidence. First Sirius leaving in a rush and now Rabastan, there was something going on. A fight had broken out and back up had been called for both sides. That seemed to be the only logical explanation.
My mind whirled as my cousin dragged me out of the party. In the split second that I made eye contact with Nora and Lena (who both looked rather nervous themselves) I managed to shoot them an apologetic look. But my mind was not on them, my mind was on my boyfriend and the love of my life. My mind was on the fact that they were fighting for different sides and I was actually worried about both. My mind was on the possibility that my brothers could be fighting as well.
Would Sirius kill my brothers if faced with that choice? Would the fact that they were my brothers make a difference or would he not care at all?
We returned to the Malfoy Manor and quickly rejoined the ball, only to find that our mothers were looking for us. We weren’t leaving however and that both confused and annoyed me.
I wanted desperately to get home so that I could fall to pieces in private.
In a vain hope, I searched the ballroom for Rabastan. He was no where to be found. In fact, many of the men and some women had conspicuously disappeared.
I felt the panic rising in my chest, my breath got shallow and faster- as if it was trying to run from the panic that latched onto its heels like vines that would pull it back down. There was a knot in my chest, my stomach wouldn’t stop churning and my face felt hot.
“Mirabelle, are you alright? You look pale,” my mother asked, bringing my ever so slightly out of my panic attack. Trust her to be observant when it was least convenient.
“Yeah, you look a bit peeky, Mir.” Narcissa chimed in. “Perhaps you should go sit down for a bit.”
It felt nearly impossible to get enough breath to speak but, somehow, I managed. “Um... I- I think I just need to go freshen up. Will you excuse me?”
I didn’t wait for any replies. I had to get somewhere alone and fast so that I wouldn’t have a meltdown in such a public setting. I was coming apart at the seams already. I nearly ran out of the ballroom in my haste to be alone.
I don’t know what made me go through the door in the foyer which I’d never seen opened before, but I did. I went through it
and found a rather dingy little corridor. I immediately suspected that this is where the house elves of the house lived. Little black doors lined the walls on either side and the ceiling felt slightly too low. I tried to force myself to take a deep breath as I walked slowly down this isolated, claustrophobic hall but I paid no attention to where I was going. I had closed my eyes in the attempt and ended up tripping over a slightly protruding stone in the floor and grabbing an unused torch holder to catch my balance.
To my surprise, several of the stones jumped aside, revealing what looked like a secret passage way to my trained eye. Even in the throws of hyperventilation, I was morbidly curious to see where it led. I crouched down into it, with no regard for my pretty dress, and began crawling. I told myself it would be a good distraction from what was probably happening at this very moment to some of the men in my life. It wasn’t but it did help me solidify the whole being-alone objective.
That is, until I heard voices.
They were faint but animated and the flame of my curiosity was fanned. I followed the distant sounds until I could begin to make out the words, separate the different voices. The closer I got, the more confused I became. At last, I reached a little alcove with a small vent in it. Through this vent floated the bone-chillingly familiar voices.
“Time to prove yourself, Rabastan,” the delight in Bella’s voice made my stomach roll. If only because I recognized the other voice and the terror in it.
I peaked through the vent and every muscle in my body tightened, my veins buzzed with adrenaline, and I suddenly had to try extra hard to keep my dinner down.
Below me was a dingy, dark room full of a surprising amount of people, all wearing their clothes from the ball. They stood in a loose circle but, rather than being oriented towards the middle, they all seemed to lean oddly toward the figure at the far right, sitting in an oddly ornate chair. I shuddered as I realized who that was but I didn’t run in the other direction like my common sense was screaming for me to. Despite the presence of You-Know-Who, I was frozen-unable to move even a centimeter from the spot where I hid.
“Please, please, please don’t.”
Anya Shuman, the seventh year girl in my house who had called me a bitch at the beginning of the year for hurting “Siri” was on her knees. The gray stone floor of the room I’d never been in before was already spattered with some of her blood and her whole body seemed to fold in on itself. Except when she looked up at my boyfriend with the most horrifyingly pleading look I’d ever seen and begged him.
I don’t know why I didn’t realize exactly what she was begging for. Why hadn’t I understood what was happening? And, more importantly, what could or would I have done if I had?
I didn’t know though. So, I just watched in confusion and abject horror as Rabastan (with the encouragement of the room at large-especially Bellatrix) rolled up his sleeves, revealing the tattoo I had been pretending did not exist, and then raised his wand. He wasn’t facing me, so I couldn’t see the look in his eyes but I did see him square his shoulders in preparation. Then, before I could even gasp in terrifying realization, my boyfriend had uttered the two most heinous words ever invented.
I didn’t even wait to watch Anya’s body crumple to the floor before I was back on my feet and running. I didn’t hear the words of congratulations the others were giving Rabastan, I just ran. Once mobile, I didn’t want to stop. Ever. I just wanted to keep running as tears streamed down my face and my blood ran cold. My dress snagged on a few things but I didn’t care and I didn’t stop. I collapsed in hysterical tears halfway through the passage, unable to control myself.
I tried to wrap my brain around what had just happened but the incomprehensible scene just kept playing like a bad movie in my head. I had just watched my boyfriend kill one of my classmates in cold blood. What had Anya ever done to deserve that? What had Bella said right before?
“Time to prove yourself, Rabastan.”
Was that it? Was that the only reason that Anya Shuman would never even be able to graduate? Because Rabastan Lestrange needed to prove he was a big bad Death Eater just like all of the rest of them. Needed to prove he could kill just as heartlessly. To prove he didn’t mind having blood on his hands.
Hands that had touched me tenderly hundreds of times. I felt sick just thinking about it all. How was I ever going to face him again? How was I ever going to be able to pretend to belong among these people after witnessing that?
And then, just like that, I had my answer.
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