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Façade by LovelyDays

Format: Novel
Chapters: 6
Word Count: 11,294
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: General, Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Lupin, Sirius, Lily, James, Regulus, Lucius, Pettigrew, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 03/08/2007
Last Chapter: 06/06/2010
Last Updated: 06/06/2010

Summary:




*Lovely banner by Geo-Stigma*
I, Rhea Malfoy, had always been told that few were worthy of my attention, but Regulus Black was more than worthy. So wouldn't that make us perfect for each other? We could continue this facade, me with my cool exterior and him with his mysterious ways, but when it came down to it were we really that perfect for each other? How much destruction can such an ideal love leave in its wake?


Chapter 1: Rhea Malfoy
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A/N: Hello everyone! I see you have stumbled upon my new (and first) story! As you all know, the world of Harry Potter belongs entirely to the wonderful J.K. Rowling, and I claim only my plot and OC's. I hope you enjoy, and please review and let me know what you think. I'd really appreciate it! A big thanks goes out to my fabulous beta Prove You Wrong ! Well on with the story..
-LovelyDays





The Malfoy Manor is notorious among the wizards and witches of south-west England. Sprawled across a steep hill in the heart of Wiltshire, the mansion's appearance alone could tell you a thing or two about the dark family that resides there. Enormous, with gaping black windows that seem impenetrable by sunlight, the manor has remained a mystery to outsiders for generations.

I, however, know of every crack, niche, and passage hidden beyond its towering walls. The manor has persistently fought to keep me from uncovering its deepest and darkest secrets, but after sixteen years of my insistent searching and prodding, I believe that there is not one thing that I have yet to discover in my fine home.

That's why I paid no attention to the extravagant art work that my mother took such pride in, or the many portraits that contained my ancestors in all of their glory as I quickened my stride towards the parlor. My father, stern in demeanor, would not take it kindly if I took my own good time to answer his summons.

I descended the grand, marble staircase gracefully, my hand placed delicately on the gleaming banister. I hastily turned the corner upon reaching the foot of the stairs, and knocked on the parlor doors timidly but clearly. A soft noise of recognition signaled acceptance of my entrance, so I cautiously twisted the handle and let myself in.

Once inside, I noticed that my entire family was gathered. My mother, her beautiful face motionless and indifferent, was sitting straight-backed on one of the antique chairs. In the center of the room sat my father, Abraxas Malfoy, his gray eyes soaking up every detail of my presence. On his right side, to my immense displeasure, stood my brother, Lucius.

"Father, Mother, Lucius." I greeted, my head held high and hands clasped behind my back.

"Rhea," my father spoke, his voice crisp but not unkind, "In a few short days you will return to Hogwarts."

I started to nod but remembering how much my father disliked not receiving a straight forward answer, changed my mind. "Yes, Sir."

"You have not failed to please your mother and I in the past five years, so I can trust that your sixth year will not be any different. You seem to have not inherited the foolishness that your dear brother has exhibited to me." His voice was calm and level, but the fierce look that he threw in Lucius' direction gave the impression that Lucius had done something to anger him.

Lucius, who was seven years my senior and the spitting image of my father, had graduated from Hogwarts a few years ago. His cold arrogance and desire for power both pleased and infuriated my father. I looked towards my mother to see if she shared this annoyance towards Lucius, but she gave nothing away. My mother, the perfect trophy wife, hardly ever spoke in any discussions held. My father was the law. No decision was made without consulting him first, no move was made without his approval, and certainly, you did not disobey him.

"Are you prepared for the start of term?" My father asked, bringing my attention back towards him.

"Yes, Sir." I replied, my voice smooth and respectful. I had seen Lucius receive many punishments from my father over the years, and to ensure that I was never dealt with in the same manner I had perfected an obedient behavior.

From the early ages of childhood, I was taught what was expected of me. Speak only when spoken to, always mind your manners, and most importantly, never do anything to embarrass the family name. Simple enough as rules, but it was more than just that. It was a lifestyle. The lifestyle that my parents had lived, and the lifestyle that I now followed. A lifestyle that belonged only to the privileged and one that blood traitors and those with impure blood wouldn't understand.

"Very well," my father continued suddenly, waving his hand towards the door, "That is all. You are dismissed."

"As for you," he hissed in Lucius' direction, "We will continue this later."

I detected a threatening note in his voice but Lucius didn't even flinch. I quickly exited the parlor and released a breath that I didn't even notice I had been holding in. My father was an influential and persuasive man in the wizarding community. He claimed that this was because he was highly respected, but I suspected it had more to do with status, power, and fear. My father had a nasty temper, so I made a point to never upset him. I stayed out of his way, did what he asked of me, and acted how I had been taught a pure blood like myself should. I was the ideal daughter.

I had made it half way through the upstairs corridor when I heard the heavy footsteps behind me.

Lucius.

I spun around, fixing him with a blank stare.

"What?" I demanded.

"Have you no respect?" Lucius said mockingly. "Imagine what dear father would say if he heard that tone."

"Even father knows what kind of git you are." I snapped. Lucius and I rarely got along. I couldn't remember the last time we had held a civil conversation. He was far too controlling, nosy, and intruding for my liking.

"I'll let you know that father holds me in the utmost regards." Lucius drawled.

"Oh, yes I can tell." I said, sarcasm dripping from my words.

Lucius' gray eyes met my own blue ones and he smiled. "Talked to Regulus lately?"

"That's none of your business." I said indifferently. Inside, however, I was boiling with rage. Didn't he have better things to do than pry into my life.

"I spoke with him in London yesterday," Lucius continued casually, completely ignoring my comment, "He says you've neglected to answer his letters."

"Why don't you worry about your own damned life and your own damned letters?" I seethed.

I crossed my thin arms across my chest and fixed my brother with a look of hatred.

"Temper, Rhea."

I growled under my breath and stalked away from him, heading in the direction of my room, my own oasis.

"You best make sure not to mess that one up, Rhea. There are not many young, acceptable young men who would willingly put up with your hostile ways." Lucius voice followed me down the corridor.

Upon entering my room, I took a deep breath and shook myself of all the pent up anger. Lucius was the only person who could penetrate my cool, relaxed exterior.

I stood in front of one of my full length mirrors and tucked a piece of straight, blond hair behind my ear as I examined my face. I was often told that I looked exactly as my mother did as a young lady. Same mouth, eyes, and cheekbones.

I wandered over to my large, Victorian desk and picked up the stack of letters I had received this summer. Four of the letters, all neatly addressed to Rhea Malfoy, were from Regulus Black.

I had never opened any of them, much less replied to them.

I saw post as a waste of time. I never knew what to write other than the normal, polite necessities. It wasn't like I hadn't seen my peers at all over the holiday. We all belonged to the same social group so therefore I saw them, Regulus included, at every ball, banquet, and dinner party.

Ever since third year, Regulus Black had taken a special interest in me; some would even call it infatuation. After two years of stolen glances, secret smiles, and small conversations in the common room, we had developed some sort of relationship. At school, Regulus and I were known as an "item", and this had pleased my father and mother greatly. Tall, dark, and handsome, Regulus was from a pure, respectable family with a lot of money. Very similar to ourselves.

Regulus, to say the least, was charming, and he had been the only boy to actually hold my attention for more than a few minutes. He was different, yet the same. Open, yet mysterious. His presence was comforting, and his company enjoyable.

I fingered one of his unopened letters cautiously, and thought about how I had actually begun to miss him after he had left for Switzerland with his parents for the remainder of the summer holiday. I could just read the letter, couldn't I? Reading it didn't mean I was required to reply.

Dearest Rhea,

I'm almost positive that you won't reply to this letter, just like the others, but I arrived in Switzerland today and it's painfully boring. Actually, I'm not even sure that you read my letters, but maybe you do. I had a nice little chat with Lucius the other day, as I'm sure you already know. Bet that got your blood boiling didn't it? I am looking forward to school starting. With my prat of a brother gone my parents' attention is solely focused on me. Making sure they are constantly pleased is enough to make a fellow go mad. Normally, I'd tell you that I'd like to hear from you, but I highly doubt that will happen. I hope everything is going well on your end. I'll be seeing you soon.

Yours Truly,
Regulus Black 


I put the letter back down and found myself feeling slightly annoyed that he knew me so well. I looked at the rest of the letters but decided not to even bother. One was enough.

Sitting down at my desk, I pulled out a fresh piece of parchment and a brand new quill. Then I started to reply to Regulus' letter just to prove that I wasn't as predictable as he made me seem.

It was only after I had sent my owl off to find Regulus in Switzerland that it dawned on me that I had just played right into his hands. Regulus knew that his written words would unnerve me, and he had expected me to write him back all along, making me all the more predictable.




Chapter 2: Brotherly Love
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Regulus Black stood on Platform 9 ¾ and observed the tide of eager students. Every year, before boarding the Hogwarts Express, dozens of students exchanged stories of their holiday vacations with friends, and said their goodbyes to the family they wouldn’t be seeing until Christmas Break.

A fair three inches taller than he had been last year, Regulus was already in his school attire. His green and silver tie hung loosely from his neck, and several females allowed their eyes to pass over his toned physique that was noticeable even under the black robes.

He scanned the crowd of students, nodding and waving in the direction of a few, and stopping to stare momentarily when he caught sight of his own brother, Sirius. He was chortling and wrestling with three other boys who he had become know as the Marauders with.

He watched them in interest for a bit and then deciding that the four buffoons weren’t up to anything out of the ordinary, continued with his original search.

It was her familiar, intoxicating scent that caught Regulus’ attention before he had even seen her head of long, blonde hair moving in his direction through the crowd. In no time at all, her delicate frame was standing in front of him.

A pleased smirk crossed his face as he bent his head to gently kiss her cheek.

“Hello Rhea,” he greeted smoothly.

“Regulus,” she replied, her pretty features painting the perfect picture of indifference.

After a moment of silence she opened her mouth to speak again.

“I suppose Lucius is still standing over there by the barrier,” she said softly, betraying no emotions.

Regulus peered over her shoulder and just as she said, her brother was indeed watching them from a safe distance, his blonde hair pulled back from his pale face.

Slightly entertained, Regulus nodded causing Rhea to roll her eyes.

“He thinks I’m dense. Honestly, like I wasn’t aware of him following me this whole time,” Rhea sighed, this time her voice etched with obvious frustration.

“What do you say we give him a show,” Regulus suggested. His eyes danced with mischief as he used his finger to tilt Rhea’s chin upward.

Rhea just shook her head, knocking his finger away, and turned in the direction of the train. Regulus followed her lead, still grinning from ear to ear. 

Before stepping onto the Hogwarts Express, Regulus turned back once more and gave Lucius a small wave. Lucius, completely unperturbed that he had been spotted, only smirked in return as he disappeared with a swish of his cloak. 







The Great Hall buzzed with noise and activity as the returning students found seats at their four, respective, house tables. Each table was set with spotless silverware, ready for the welcoming feast that would take place after the annual sorting.

Politely clapping each time his house gained a new member, Regulus was reminded to when it had been him waiting for the Sorting Hat to announce his fate.

Looking at the mass of nervous looking first years, Regulus thought of his own sorting, five years prior.

Being a Black, Regulus had grown up learning that the only acceptable house was Slytherin. All of his ancestors had worn their stripes of silver and green proudly, and Regulus had always wanted to be a part of that legacy. However, when Sirius broke that tradition and spit on the family name, he had faced one of the biggest decisions he’d had to make as a young child.

After Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor, he became dirt under his parent’s shoes. Regulus witnessed the screaming of his mother and the punishments of his father that had taken place when Sirius had come home for the Christmas Holiday of his first year, and any other time he returned home.

Late at night, back when they had shared a bedroom, Regulus would talk to Sirius as they would lie awake in bed and ask him if being sorted into Gryffindor was worth the wrath of their parents. Sirius’ answer had always remained the same.

Yes.

Sirius talked to Regulus about a world of cruelty and prejudice, a world of wrong doings and murder. This world had seemed so evil and unreal to Regulus, until the day he realized that the world Sirius had been telling him about was in fact their world.

This realization had scared Regulus; and when Sirius asked him to join him and defy their parents his fear increased.

He wanted nothing to do with the world that Sirius described to him in such vivid detail; yet he knew that he was not strong enough to deal with the hatred that his own parents demonstrated to Sirius.

Do you really want to be like them? Sirius had asked him a few days before Regulus would start his first year at Hogwarts. If Regulus had been honest and told Sirius what he really felt inside, then the answer would have been no but instead he remained silent.

When the moment came for Regulus to be sorted he had timidly sat on the stool and gazed out into the crowd. It was then that Regulus had seen Sirius’ face; hopeful and almost frightened for his brother. He had admired Sirius. In one year he had gone through more than most his own age, and had been all but disowned by their parents. However, the voice in the back of Regulus’ mind, the one that sounded like his father’s own harsh voice, threatened that Sirius might be wrong. That he might be worked up over nothing, and that his rebel attitude was more foolish than brave.

He made his decision and as the sorting hat called out the house he would spend the rest of his Hogwarts’ years in, SLYTHERIN, Regulus knew that he had just separated himself from his brother for good. The friendship and brotherly love they had established over the years was vanishing before his eyes, but it was all his own doing.

After the welcoming feast, Sirius approached Regulus, a pleading look on the handsome face that was so similar to Regulus’.

“I thought you didn’t want to be like them Reg.” He had demanded, desperate to make Regulus realize his mistake.

“No good will ever come out of being a Slytherin.” 

If choosing to become a Slytherin hadn’t pushed Sirius away for good, than what took place next surely did.

Pushing aside what he knew was right and his love for his Sirius, Regulus raised his eyes to his older brother and without missing a beat, molded into his new role as a Slytherin.

“I could never waste my time with mudbloods and the likes of you.”

A group of other newbie Slytherin’s howled with laughter behind Regulus. He had made it clear that he no longer wanted anything to do with Sirius, and the look on Sirius’ face told Regulus that he now felt the same way.

It was that day that the two brothers had turned and went in different directions. Sirius started to return home less and less and eventually replaced Regulus completely with James Potter. Maybe not a brother by blood but a brother nonetheless.

Then, during the summer after Sirius’ sixth year, he left Grimmauld Place for good after a particularly gruesome and violent fight with Mr. Black. Regulus had watched from his window as his brother had escaped in the dead of the night. And though he suspected that Sirius had fled to the Potter’s, when his parents asked if he had any idea where Sirius could have gone Regulus did not share his theory with them. Even though Regulus would never admit this out loud, when he had watched a battered Sirius run from his own home he had felt a twinge deep within his chest and a small part of him had wanted to go with him.

Awoken from his thoughts by the strong aroma of food, Regulus quickly looked over his shoulder to where his brother sat with his friends at the Gryffindor table. Five years later, and he no longer knew his own brother.

Sirius looked up and for a moment their eyes met. Caught off guard, Regulus held the gaze with no apparent emotion on his face, but he could have sworn he saw a saddened look pass over Sirius’ features, but as soon as it appeared it was gone and Sirius turned back to the conversation he had been having with Peter Pettigrew.

Regulus turned around once again and poked at the chicken on his plate.

“Something wrong, Black,” Severus Snape asked from across the table.

Regulus raised his eyes in mock surprise and gave his housemate a puzzled look.

“Nothing at all, Snape.”

Chapter 3: Perhaps It's Pride
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Not yet a full week into the new term and Rhea’s mind was begging for a release. Quite a bit past curfew, she was taking her own good time making her way back towards the dungeons; where she would find the Slytherin common room filled with her fellow housemates doing homework and sitting in front of the fire.

Hogwarts, though it provided a comforting sanctuary from Lucius’ constant prying and a break from the strict rules that her parents so sternly enforced, also presented boring lessons and difficult assignments that made Rhea’s brain ache in dull pain. The professors had already begun packing alarmingly large amounts of information into the sixth year’s heads. All of which they swore would be needed on the impending NEWTs.

The sound of Rhea’s unhurried footsteps on the stone floors echoed off the walls; resulting in sulking glares from many of the surrounding portraits residents, but the blonde Slytherin paid them no mind as she continued at her deliberate pace.

“Do you realize what time it is, Malfoy?”

Rhea briefly shut her eyes in frustration before turning around to face the offending voice.

She came face to face with none other than a scowling Lily Evans, her hands placed on her hips with an air of authority. Her Head Girl badge, polished and shiny looking in the dark corridor, was proudly pinned to the front of her robes, partially hidden by a curtain of thick red hair. Directly to her left stood James Potter, and much to Rhea’s amusement, he also sported a badge.

“Evans,” Rhea said simply, brushing a strand of hair over her shoulder.

“I’m afraid you didn’t answer my question,” Lily continued with her best effort to sound threatening. “Whether you are aware of it or not, you are out past curfew.”

“I’m afraid I didn’t realize,” Rhea replied nonchalantly as she prepared to turn her back on the two Head students.

“Oh, really?” Lily did not bother to disguise her disbelief. “I suppose you just fancied a stroll.”

Rhea smiled sweetly at the other girl. “I don’t believe a quick walk around the castle is anything out of the ordinary. Even ask Potter,” Rhea said motioning to James, “I’ve seen him and Sirius Black wandering around outside the castle at all hours of the night.”

Upon hearing this, James narrowed his hazel eyes, looking at her suspiciously, but Lily just seemed annoyed.

“What the other students do, especially Head Boy, is none of your concern Malfoy. I can assure you that any student caught out of bed after curfew is dealt with accordingly.”

“Well then I’ll just be on my way. Nice running into you,” Rhea offered and before either of the Heads could protest she spun on her heel and disappeared around the corner. 




“Honestly Potter! I don’t know what in Merlin’s name was running through Dumbledore’s mind when he named you Head Boy. Obviously you don’t have the maturity or backbone to handle the position! You are about as useful as the giant squid when you just sit there and leave me to handle all the misbehaving students. If you weren’t so worried about having your popularity squandered then you might just possibly earn some respect. You can not expect to get by in life simply on your good looks and charm.”

James, who seemed to allow the first part of Lily’s rant go in one ear and out the other, permitted a cocky grin to stretch across his face as she spit out the last sentence.

“Did you, Lily Evans, just admit that I, James Potter, am in fact good looking and charming?”

James beamed in delight as Lily realized the impact of her words, the apples of her cheeks reddening as she howled in rage.

“You, James Potter, are an insufferable twit,” she snapped before storming up the stairs that led to the Girl’s dormitory, her tiny fists clenched into balls.

James watched her retreating back the whole way, his grin still in place.

“I think I’m growing on her.” He declared to Sirius and Remus who had watched the whole exchange from the common room couch.

“I reckon there has been some improvement,” Sirius said thoughtfully. “She didn’t threaten to remove any parts of your male anatomy this time.”

Remus nodded in agreement. “That had been a nasty row.” He said, recalling a particular argument that had taken place last year, without looking up the book he was currently reading.

James, oblivious to his friends’ banter, plopped down in one of the arm chairs, a dreamy smile on his face.

“What’s got her knickers in a knot tonight anyway?” Sirius inquired.

“Oh, she’s probably just sore that she didn’t get to hand out any detentions,” James said with a wave of his hand.

“I hardly believe that Lily is quite that sadistic,” Remus scoffed.

“Maybe not, but she’s been in a right foul mood ever since our run in with Rhea Malfoy,” James commented casually.

“Why, what’d Malfoy have to say?” Sirius asked.

“Nothing really.” James told him with a shrug, retelling the encounter to his two friends.

“I suppose it has got to do with pride,” Remus said wisely, receiving two confused glances on James and Sirius’ part.

“I mean,” Remus explained, “that Lily was likely upset by Malfoy’s obvious disinterest and belittling of her position as Head Girl.”

“Speaking of pride,” Sirius mocked, shooting a look in James’ direction, “If you don’t deflate that head of yours, Prongs, you might not be able to fit through the portrait hole.”

“Sod off you git,” James said, hurling a cushion at his mate.

Then two minutes later the satisfied grin reappeared on his face.

“She did call me good looking though.”




Rhea entered the Slytherin common room to find Regulus, Severus Snape, Connor Avery, Rodolphus Lestrange, Evan Rosier, and Bennet Wilkes standing around one of the small circular tables situated in the corner of the room.

Regulus was sitting in one of the chairs; his legs propped up on the table and his hands clasped behind his neck. To anyone else his face may have seemed calm and indifferent, but Rhea knew him better than most. Judging by the way his jaw was set and the slightly dark look behind his eyes, she could tell that something was bothering him.

“What are you lot up to,” She asked, receiving anything but pleasant looks from all of them.

“Rhea, now isn’t really the time,” Regulus replied coolly, and Snape gave her a look that clearly said “get lost”.

“Nice to see you too, Severus,” Rhea said icily, not appreciating the greasy, young man’s death stare. “Always a pleasure.”

Snape glowered at her, his dark eyes intense and almost disturbing, but she wasn’t fazed.

Straightening up to her full height, she strode across the room and settled into one of the large arm chairs. Ignoring the look Regulus was giving her, she began to read a Witch Weekly that someone had abandoned. In actuality, the magazine didn’t interest her at all but she wanted to know the reason behind the boys’ strange behavior.

When, ten minutes later, Rhea still hadn’t heard a word uttered from the other end of the room she gazed over the top of her magazine and found herself looking directly into Regulus’ grey stare.

Taken aback, she raised a fair eyebrow questioningly. “Yes?”

“Rhea,” Regulus growled softly, “is there a particular reason you’re still down here?”

“Is there a reason you’re interested,” She shot back innocently, narrowing her eyes slightly.

Regulus smirked and rubbed the back of his neck, his gaze directed at the floor.

“We’re having a bit of a private discussion and I think it’d be best if you went to bed,” He said bluntly, his eyes adverted back to her face.

Rhea slowly got to her feet and searched Regulus’ face while she pondered whether she should say something back or not. Deciding not to, she turned her back on him with one last, hard look and started to retreat to her dormitory. She felt Regulus’ hand discreetly brush her lower back but she did not turn around or stop. She knew it was a poor idea to mess with Regulus when he was in a foul mood, but she had her limits too. She detested when he got himself in a right mood and then thought himself king; giving out orders and expecting to get his way. She may have been leaving at his request, but she was leaving angry and she had made that perfectly clear to him.

As soon as Regulus was sure that Rhea was completely in her dormitory and out of hearing range he returned to the table, running his hand through his hair yet again.

“She looked pleased,” Avery chortled.

Regulus didn’t retort, but if looks could kill Avery would be flat on his back, dead.

“Now that that predicament is handled,” Snape drawled, giving Regulus a nasty look, “we can get back to business.”




Rhea jolted awake and sat upright in bed. A light sleeper by nature, she had an eerie feeling that she was being watched. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she went to open the curtains surrounding her bed just to realize that they were already open. Fear began to settle in her stomach but before she could bolt from bed or release the scream that was building up in her throat a hand, one much larger than her own, covered her mouth.

“Calm down, it’s me,” hissed the dark figure standing over her.

Rhea visibly relaxed as she recognized the familiar voice. She bit down lightly on his hand, just for good measure, and he immediately removed his hand from over her mouth.

“Are you mad,” he snapped quietly, sitting down next to her on the bed and closing the curtains once again.

Rhea pulled her wand out from under the pillow next to her and silently cast a silencing charm before responding.

Are you? Honestly, Regulus, you can’t just go sneaking around, waking people up from a dead sleep. You nearly gave me a heart attack!”

Regulus didn’t respond, instead he busied himself by tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.

“What are you doing here,” she sighed, pushing his hand, which was now working his way up and down her arm, away.

“What’s the matter, not happy to see me?” He gave her his best pout but soon sobered up when she fixed him with her coldest glare.

“Not particularly.”

“Rhea,” he whined, planting a kiss on her jaw.

“What were you lot talking about earlier tonight in the common room,” she asked, oblivious to his attempts of seducing her.

Regulus let out a loud sigh of frustration and jerked away from her, his eyes angry.

“It doesn’t concern you,” he spat.

Rhea glared fiercely at her boyfriend, her own eyes equally furious.

“Well then,” she seethed.

Lowering herself back into her mattress, she tuned onto her side, completely blocking him out, and pulled her down comforter back over her body.

She was almost back to sleep when she felt Regulus slip under the covers next to her and drape his arm over her abdomen, pulling her into his own body. After placing a delicate kiss on her cheek, he laid his head down on her pillow.

Part of her wanted to pull away, but instead she allowed herself to settle into the crevice of his body and fall into a deep sleep.

Chapter 4: An Invitation
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Saturday morning had brought an abundance of icy rain to the grounds of Hogwarts. As Rhea awakened to the darkness of the Slytherin sixth year girl’s dormitory she could faintly hear the gushing sound of rain pouring down on the castle and land above her.

In Rhea’s opinion, the biggest disadvantage to living near the dungeons was the lack of windows. She found rain quite enjoyable, and was fond of watching the droplets roll down the glass panes of windows; however that was quite impossible in the Slytherin dwellings.

Heavy breathing and the hushed sounds of her roommates’ creaking beds told Rhea that it must be fairly early. Rolling onto her back, Rhea stretched out her legs. Being an early riser, she was accustomed to being the first one up.

After a few moments, Rhea recalled the events of the night before, and sighed in disappointment when she realized that Regulus was no longer in bed next to her.

She ran her hand over the spot he had laid in last night. The dent where his body had been was still visible, and the sheets were wrinkled and warm.

Propping herself up on her elbows, Rhea shook the hair out of her face and frowned. Whenever Regulus spent the night with her he was always gone long before she aroused in the morning. She could not remember one time that she had woken up and found him still asleep next to her.

Forcing herself to leave the warm bed behind, Rhea gently moved her curtains aside and tiptoed across the room to her wardrobe. After slipping into one of her silk robes she exited the room, careful not to wake any of her roommates considering it was barely half past seven according to the small clock on her night table.

Running her hand lightly against the stone wall as she went, she strolled towards the common room hoping to find Regulus there, preferably alone.

She spotted him at once, sitting at the furthest table from her, scribbling away madly on a piece of parchment. His quill whisked back and forth as he ran a hand through his dark, wavy hair, his back hunched over to the point where it looked painful.

Very stealthily, Rhea made her way towards him, her eyes trained on the parchment. Who was he writing to? And why now of all times?

Now standing right behind him, he still took no notice of her prescence.

Rhea lightly grazed his shoulder, working her hand up and down his toned upper arm. Regulus stopped writing and looked at her over his shoulder, slightly surprised by her silent entry.

Rhea took his momentary pause to her advantage and sat herself on the table, using her hand to slide his parchment away from his grasp. She leaned back on both hands and crossed her legs, which were dangling over the edge of the table.

“What are you doing,” she asked in a low voice, a small smirk playing on her lips.

“Nothing”, he quickly replied. His eyes darted nervously from her face to the parchment that was securely pressed under her left palm.

“Rhea, may I please have my letter back?”

Rhea threw an amused glance over her shoulder to the parchment.

“Who’s it for?”

“A friend,” he said slowly, his teeth clenched in impatience.

“Oh?” She raised her eyebrows at him teasingly, pinching the letter between two fingers, and bringing it towards her.

Before she could comprehend what was happening Regulus bolted from his chair, knocking it over in the process, and violently snatched the parchment from her.

Rhea looked up in blatant surprise, her brow wrinkled; but she quickly recovered and stood to meet his harsh stare.

After a minute or two of glowering at each other the look on Regulus’ face softened, and he attempted to place his hand on her smooth cheek.

No such luck.

Rhea sidestepped his effort and folded her arms across her chest.

“Sorry,” Regulus murmured, dropping his eyes. “I didn’t mean to get all worked up. This letter just contains some private matters I’d rather not share with the world.”

Rhea’s face remained emotionless but inside she felt as if a lead weight had dropped into her stomach. Since when had sharing private information with her become sharing private information with the world? What could that letter possibly contain that was so dire she couldn’t know anything about it?

“Rhea?” Regulus spoke to her silence. “Just leave it, ok?”

“Fine,” Rhea snapped before turning back towards her dormitory, her guard up once again and the heavy feeling in her stomach replaced with anger.

No longer caring if she woke her roommates up or not, she stormed into the room and plopped down onto her bed. She yanked the emerald curtains tightly shut around her and slipped between the silky sheets. Worn out from her frustration with Regulus and calmed by the distant sound of the rain, she rapidly fell back into a deep sleep. 






Rhea wrapped a fluffy, white towel around her damp body. The bathroom tile felt cool against her bare feet, and the room was still thick with steam from the hot shower she had stepped out of seconds before.

Rubbing at the mist that clouded the mirror with her fist, Rhea watched as her face appeared feature after feature before her. When she had uncovered a satisfactory amount of the smooth glass she stepped back and ran a hand through her dripping locks of hair which were almost a light brown when wet.

Bored with looking at herself, Rhea opened the bathroom door a crack and saw, to her relief, that her dormitory was empty.

Stepping into the room, which was much cooler than the steamy bathroom, Rhea made her way over towards her wardrobe to throw on some robes but the sight of a single red rose on her bed made her stop dead in her tracks.

“What the...” She mumbled quietly to herself, mystified by its appearance.

Now sitting on the edge of her bed, eyes still on the newly found rose, Rhea held out a hesitant hand but stopped mid-reach. Attached to the rose was a small piece of parchment.

Pushing all queries aside, she picked up the delicate rose and couldn’t help but stare at it in wonder. She didn’t happen to be a fan of red roses, but there was no denying that this particular rose was the most beautiful flower she had ever seen. Its petals, which were full and lush, contained absolutely no marks or bruises. It was flawless. It also seemed as if someone had cut all of the thorns off the long stem with great care.

Tenderly untying the white ribbon that held the tiny piece of parchment to the rose, Rhea read the message that had been scrawled on it in rather messy script.

“Meet me on the seventh floor across from the Barnabas the Barmy tapestry at seven thirty. Wear something nice. – Regulus,” She whispered to herself, eyes scanning the parchment over once more to make sure It wasn’t some sort of joke. It was his handwriting.

Shaking her head in bewilderment, Rhea placed the rose back on her bed and drifted over to her trunk. She was a bit wary of what Regulus was up to, but she couldn’t resist accepting his invitation and finding out for herself. 




Regulus shoved his hands into the pockets of his black dress pants and started to pace back and fourth. He was standing on the seventh floor in front of a large oak door that he had conjured himself earlier that evening.

He had learned about the Room of Requirement last year while eavesdropping on a conversation between his brother and Potter; but he had never taken advantage of its usefulness until tonight. At first he had been skeptical to whether it would truly work like Potter said it would, but sure enough after walking by the blank wall three times and concentrating on what he wanted to appear, it had.

Nearly fourty-five minutes had gone by since he had shown up to make sure everything was perfect, and Rhea was now almost fifteen minutes late.

In the back of his mind lingered the miniscule worry that she wouldn’t show up at all. She had been decently upset with him earlier.

However, as quickly as they came, his worries dissolved as he saw Rhea step onto the landing of the seventh floor. Regulus sucked in a breath as she made her way towards him, an awed grin creeping across his features.

Her delicate body was adorned by a silk black dress which swayed right above her knees as she walked, and her thin legs, which stemmed from a pair of black stilettos, looked long and toned. Her skin, which was normally somewhat fair in complexion, glowed with a light tan from spending a lot of her summer holiday out doors, contrasting nicely with her blonde locks. In Regulus’ opinion the only way she could have looked more stunning was if her small, pink mouth had been smiling.

“Hello love,” Regulus murmured in her ear, taking both of her hands in his.

“Regulus,” She greeted him, her voice light and nonchalant. “How are you this evening?”

“Fantastic,” he answered, smiling at her. “Now shut your eyes,” he instructed.

Rhea inspected the oak door in interest before shutting her eyes.

“I don’t remember this door ever being here before,” she muttered. “What is this place?”

“The Room of Requirement,” he replied, one of his hands turning the door handle while the other rested affectionately on the small of her back.

“Now open them,” he demanded once they were in the room with the door firmly shut behind them.

At first the only thing Rhea saw was Regulus’ grey eyes twinkling at her, but then she took in the rest of the room and let out a soft gasp.

“Regulus…”

 



Chapter 5: The Lost Earring
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At first the only thing Rhea saw was Regulus’ grey eyes twinkling at her, but then she took in the rest of the room and let out a soft gasp.

“Regulus…”

It was not an actual room that she was now standing in, but rather an expanse of sandy beach that ended in a stretch of black water.

“Is this real?” Rhea asked.

Her voice was so low Regulus wasn’t sure if this question was directed towards him or if she was merely talking to herself.

“It’s whatever you’d like it to be,” Regulus replied, clearly pleased with her reaction and himself.

Rhea tilted her head back to observe the inky night sky. Dozens of twinkling stars met her gaze, and her skin glowed in the moonlight that poured from the full moon above.

Tiny grains of white sand slipped into her shoes as Regulus took her hand in his own and led her to a small, round table situated a few yards away.

Rhea smiled as Regulus pulled out her chair for her and motioned for her to sit.

“My lady,” he said huskily with an elegant wave of his arm.

Rhea nodded her thanks and then inspected the table in appreciation. The table was covered with a crisp, white table cloth, and it was set with decorative silver plates and utensils.

Regulus watched Rhea take in everything around her. Her delighted features danced in the candlelight that emitted from the two ivory candles on the table.

“What do you think?” He asked.

“It’s lovely,” Rhea admitted softly as she looked in the direction of the ocean.

The sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline could be heard, and Rhea shivered slightly as a soft gust of sea air blew her hair off of her shoulders. The air surrounding them was heavy with the delicate aroma of the burning candles and the scent of the salty ocean water.

“May I interest you in an appetizer or shall we move right on to the main course?”

Rhea ginned at the mischievous twinkle in Regulus’ eye and daintily placed her silk napkin in her lap.

“Frankly, I’m starved,” Regulus continued, “and I’m fairly positive you’re going to enjoy this.”

“The main course it is then,” Rhea confirmed.

Regulus smiled at her from across the table as two large lobsters, each accompanied by a small silver dish with melted butter in it, appeared on each of their plates. The lobster was followed quickly by a small garden salad and two crystal glasses of wine.

“Wine?” Rhea smirked, one eyebrow raised in question.

“I felt fire whiskey didn’t quite fit the mood,” Regulus divulged simply.

“Hmm,” Rhea agreed as she raised her glass to meet his, “What shall we toast to?”

“To you,” Regulus answered amiably, clinking his glass against hers and taking a swift sip.

Rhea’s eyes twinkled in amusement as she also sipped from her glass.

“I must say, Mr. Black, you went through a lot of trouble for just one evening.”

“It’s my nature, love.”

Regulus searched Rhea’s blue eyes as he continued, “Think of it as my sincerest apology for being quite the prat the other evening and this morning.”

He received no reply, but Regulus knew that he was more than forgiven. He was plainly aware of the fact that in a matter of minutes he had worked his way back into Rhea’s good graces; a place he intended to stay in for a while.

Light conversation carried on throughout the meal, and Rhea could feel all the familiar rushing emotions that only Regulus could so easily provoke in her. A light, fluttering feeling evolved in her chest as she found herself laughing and smiling at Regulus’ witty banter and charming smile.

“I have a question,” Regulus stated as he gently placed his fork down by his now empty plate.

Rhea nodded as she finished off her wine, “Yes?”

“I realize it’s a bit of time away from now but what do you have planned for Christmas holiday?”

“I’ll return home like I do every year,” Rhea said, “I don’t suppose my parents would approve of my absence from their annual New Year’s Eve ball.”

“What would you say if I asked you to accompany me to my parent’s vacation home out in the country? My father will hardly be around and my mother will be visiting with friends in that area most of the time we’re there. I’d fancy some company, and we could return to your manor the day after Christmas.” Regulus sat back in his chair and waited for her answer intently.

“I’d have to discuss it with my father, but I don’t see why not,” Rhea declared slowly after a little consideration. “It’s not like we do anything of importance on Christmas, and Mother adores you and would be happy to have you as a guest until the ball.”

“Good,” Regulus said cheerfully, “Now how about some desert?”




After they were finished with their rather extensive dinner Regulus and Rhea had walked back to the Slytherin common room. Way past curfew, the couple had walked quietly, fingers entwined, ducking into dark corners and behind statues from time to time to avoid a passing ghost; or just to steal a few moments of intimate snogging.

Regulus had walked Rhea to her dormitory door and left her there with a chaste kiss goodnight and a sincere wish of sweet dreams.

It was as she was undressing in the bathroom that she caught sight of her reflection and noticed that one of the pearl earrings she had been wearing earlier was no longer safely fastened in her left ear.

Rhea audibly groaned as she felt sharp stabs of dread poking at her insides. Her pearl earrings had been in the Malfoy family for generations. Other than the fact that they were her favorite earrings and one of her most treasured possessions, they were priceless. There was no way that her mother would not notice its disappearance when she no longer wore them; and when her mother did find out that Rhea had carelessly lost one of them, there would be hell to pay.

Rhea tried to calm herself down a bit by reasoning that, as far as she knew, not many people were aware of the Room of Requirement and that her earring would be safe until she could look for it in the morning. This attempt was fruitless however because she knew that there was a large chance that the earring had been lost on their walk back to the dungeons. If that was the case then the tiny earring was sure to be lost in a sea of students or picked up by some cow before she would get the chance to search for it.

“Damn,” Rhea hissed as she silently scolded herself for being so careless.

She decided that if there was any chance of finding her earring she would have to go back and look right away. She quickly pulled on her cloak on top of her pajama pants and tank top and nearly ran out of her dormitory.

At least it’s a nice night out, Rhea thought as she walked past an open window on her way to the grand staircase and felt the autumn breeze sweep into the castle. The moonlight illuminated the corridor in front of her and Rhea kept a keen eye out for Filch or any teachers that might be taking a nighttime stroll.

Rhea inspected each step carefully as she made her way up to the seventh floor; but so far she had had no luck in finding her earring.

Once she was on the seventh floor Rhea inched her way up and down the corridor, scanning the area intensely. Now positive that she knew of every crack and scratch on the floor, but still without an earring, Rhea gazed at the space where the Room of Requirement’s door had been earlier that night.

Maybe I dropped it in the sand and it’s lost forever, Rhea thought in horror as she tried to remember how Regulus said you could make the door appear.

Appear…appear... that’s it!

Rhea whipped out her wand and silently laughed at herself for not thinking about this before. If she concentrated hard enough and the earring was somewhere nearby then a simple Accio would solve her problem effortlessly.

“Accio earring.”

Rhea smiled in triumph as a small white blur rose from its spot beneath the tapestry across from her and landed resolutely in her hand.

She slipped the earring into her cloak pocket and took off down the stairs in much higher spirits than before.

When she reached the bottom step Rhea peered out the front windows and decided that it really was a lovely night for a walk. She hastily walked past where she should have turned to go to the dungeons and silently slipped into the corridor where all the main classrooms were held. At the end of the corridor Rhea found that the door to the courtyard could easily be opened with a simple Alohomora.

After making her way through the courtyard, all fear of being caught rapidly left, Rhea started her stroll towards the lake. Dew from the damp grass soaked into her pants, but Rhea took no notice as she took a seat under a lone tree.

The lake water was perfectly still and flat as glass, and Rhea soon lost herself in thought as she stared out past the water towards the Forbidden Forest. Every once in awhile an owl would fly through the top of the tall trees or the leaves of the forest would shake from movement inside.

It wasn’t until Rhea heard distant shouts and the sound of running feet that her peaceful train of thought was broken. She jumped up onto her feet and listened closely to see if she could detect anymore noises. Sure enough sounds of branches braking and an odd swooshing noise soon filled the sky.

Rhea ran up to the castle wall and followed it until the strange noises became louder and closer sounding.

Mustering up as much courage as possible, she pushed away from the safety of the castle wall and walked across the lawn until an unpleasant sight made her stop dead in her tracks.

Barely one hundred feet away from her stood the Whomping Willow, but it wasn’t the normally ferocious tree that made Rhea stop. Underneath the oddly still tree stood a creature that Rhea had only read and heard about in class but had never seen, and to her horror it was advancing on what she was nearly positive were three young men.

One of the young men had his wand held high in one hand while his other arm seemed to be supporting the other young man next to him. The third young man took off at a fast paced run after the first young man had seemingly yelled something back at him.

Rhea watched in amazement as the bespectacled man shot red sparks at the offending werewolf and at the same time struggled to keep his partner standing.

The werewolf let out an outraged cry, and thoroughly terrified, Rhea spun on her heel and took off towards the front doors.

She reached the sanctuary of the front steps and tried to catch her breath as she pondered what to do. She was about to go inside and get Dumbledore when someone came up from behind and collided with her.

“Argh!”

Rhea groaned in pain as the back of her head smacked the cement of the steps. The person who had knocked her over tumbled on top of her with a cry of surprise that echoed through the night air.

Scrambling to her feet, Rhea recognized the person who had momentarily been on top of her as the young man who had been fending off the werewolf. She gasped when she realized that the young man was actually James Potter.

James picked himself up and stared down at Rhea, his eyes filled with worry and fear. Just by looking at her he could tell that she had witnessed the whole thing. Rhea looked up and James seemed like he was about to say something when a loud groan of pain caused them both to look down.

Sprawled at James feet was an unconscious Sirius Black. His lip was bruised and a large gash on cheek was gushing blood. His left pant leg was ripped off, and Rhea could just make out a decent sized wound right above his knee.

“Is he ok?” Rhea managed to ask after she realized that this must have been the young man James had been supporting under the tree.

James threw a quick look in his friend’s direction before turning back to Rhea with pleading eyes.

“Please don’t tell anyone what you saw tonight,” James begged.

He placed a firm hand on Rhea’s shoulder and she instinctively backed away.

“He’s normally under control,” James continued, his hazel eyes wide. “He’s never hurt anyone before.”

“I…I…,” Rhea stammered. She wasn’t quite sure what to say. James was talking about the beast as if it was a friend of his, but that would mean…

Rhea stared at James in complete shock.

“That werewolf is a student?”

Her question had come out as barely a whisper, but James had heard her. The terrified look that registered on his face told Rhea all that she needed to know. 

The werewolf she had seen just moments before was an actual Hogwarts student. But who?

Before she could ask James who exactly the werewolf was, he had slung Sirius over his broad shoulders and took off in the direction of the infirmary.



As Rhea lay in bed later that night she realized that with the excitement of seeing a werewolf and running into James she had completely forgotten about her triumph of finding her lost earring.

Throwing the covers off of her body, she padded over to the chair that she had thrown her cloak over earlier. She unclasped the earring that was still in her ear and then reached into her cloak pocket so she could place both of them safely in her trunk.

After feeling around in the pocket with both hands and turning the pocket inside out, Rhea plopped back down onto her bed and stared at the floor in disbelief.

The earring was no longer in her pocket.

Chapter 6: What She Knows
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“She knows?”

Already pale from his strenuous transformation the night before, Remus grew an even sicklier shade of gray as James told his friends about his collision with Rhea Malfoy.

The Marauders were standing at the base of the grand staircase, delaying their entrance to the Great Hall. It was still rather early, and only a few other students were milling about the entryway of the school.

“She knows the werewolf is a student here at Hogwarts. Whether she’s put two and two together and figured out it was you is beyond me,” James admitted sadly. He searched his mate’s face for signs of anger as he nervously ran his hand through his black locks. “I’m sorry, Moony.”

“It’s not your fault,” Remus sighed miserably.

“Bloody hell,” Sirius whispered as he let out a low breath. “What in Merlin’s name was she doing out of her dormitory at that hour?”

“Maybe she was taking a walk?” Peter offered casually.

James spared Peter a grim smile before turning back to Sirius. “When Evans and I ran into Malfoy the other night she did mention how she has spotted us wandering around outside the castle before. Do you reckon her appearance last night was a coincidence?”

Sirius seemed to be considering this thought deeply before replying,”I reckon so. You said she seemed shocked when you ran into her?”

“Downright terrified,” James mumbled while glancing over at Remus, who was rubbing a hand over his ragged face.

“There’s a fair chance she didn’t even realize it was you, Moony,” Peter chimed in comfortingly.

“Thank you, Peter, but there is also a decent chance she did, and if that is the case…” This thought was seemingly too much for Remus to handle for his shoulders slumped in defeat. “I might as well start packing.”

“Dumbledore wouldn’t let that happen, Moony,” James interjected determinedly.

“She’s a Malfoy, Prongs,” Sirius growled bitterly. “If she does know I wouldn’t be surprised if her dear old father has already been informed. You don’t suppose a Malfoy is going to want his darling daughter in school with a supposed monster do you?”

James shot Sirius a harsh look as Remus let out a soft groan.

“I suppose all we can do is wait and see what happens,” he said miserably.

“And let you get expelled?” Sirius cried incredulously. “Surely you can’t be serious.”

“What exactly do you suggest we do otherwise,” Remus challenged.

Sirius looked thoughtful for a few moments before grinning like a mad man.

“We could toss her into the vanishing cabinet,” he offered. “That’d keep her quiet for a bit.”

Peter chuckled appreciatively, but Remus just shook his head.

“Yeah?” James said mockingly. “I reckon you’re going to deal with Lucius then, when he comes looking for his missing sister?”

“I’m not the least bit scared of that wonker,” Sirius scoffed casually, pulling a face that closely resembled the eldest Malfoy child.

Sirius’ antics had all four of the boys chortling, even Remus, but the good humor was cut short as Sirius’ eyes lit up with a dangerous gleam.

“What’s on your mind, Padfoot,” Peter asked curiously.

“How bout we make Malfoy forget last night ever happened,” Sirius suggested slowly, excitement dripping from his words.

“I don’t like where this is going,” Remus said dryly.

“Me either,” James said hurriedly.

“All it would take is a simple memory charm. One quick wave of a wand and-”

“No,” James snapped before Sirius could even finish. “That’s too dangerous, Padfoot.”

“If anyone ever found out the consequences would be severe,” Remus added disapprovingly.

Sirius looked crestfallen for a split second, but then he gave his friends a reassuring smile.

“I wasn’t serious. Well actually I am Sirius but…”

The other boys groaned in annoyance at the joke that had quickly become old, and Sirius grinned at his own witty remark.

“Never gets old, yeah?” He teased.

“It’s past the point of old, Padfoot, it’s practically dead,” Peter declared. 




From the top of the large staircase Rhea watched the four boys banter back and forth even though she couldn’t hear what was being said.

She had come down for breakfast early after getting barely any sleep and had found them gathered in conversation.

She took notice of James and Sirius, both of whom she had seen last night, and then she also took in the appearance of Peter Pettigrew, their quiet friend who practically worshiped James’ very existence.

It wasn’t until her eyes traveled over the tall, lean body of Remus Lupin that something clicked in her mind. The sandy haired boy looked tired and sickly, like he hadn’t slept in days. His skin was a gray-greenish color, and even though he was laughing his eyes seemed lifeless.

She thought back to the night before; James and Sirius had been standing under the tree, and the shorter boy who had run at James’ command must have been Peter.

That would mean that…

Rhea’s eyes widened at her own thoughts. Of course. Remus Lupin was a werewolf. It actually did make perfect sense when she thought about it. The four boys were inseparable. If James, Sirius, and Peter had all been there last night then that would mean that Remus couldn’t have been far.

He often looked sickly, and he did miss a class or two every month just to stumble in the next morning looking like a complete mess. It all fit so perfectly that Rhea was amazed she hadn’t noticed something earlier. There were so many clues she could have picked up on. How many times had she spied Sirius and James taking mysterious nighttime walks out to the grounds? Were they really so dumb as to accompany their friend while he went through his transformations?

Rhea shook her head at the idea, but she had seen them trying to fend off Remus in his werewolf form just last night.

All of a sudden Rhea no longer wanted to continue down the flight of stairs. James was sure to have told his friends that he had run into her on his way back into the castle. Would they say something to her?

Rhea eyed Remus and thought about all he must go through once a month. Surely Dumbledore must know about his condition, but how much trouble did he go through to hide his secret from the other students? She could only imagine the outrage some of the parents would express if they found out that their children were in close proximity with a live werewolf.

She shuddered as she thought of her own father and what he would say if he ever found out.

Other than the obvious, Rhea realized that she knew very little about Remus Lupin. He was a seventh year Gryffindor, and he had been a prefect since fifth year. He was a part of the notorious group of boys known as the Marauders, and he was supposedly extremely intelligent.

Rhea felt a twinge in her chest and even though it was an emotion she rarely felt, she immediately recognized it as sympathy.

Head held high and no apparent emotion on her face, Rhea gracefully descended the staircase, making sure that she didn’t make direct eye contact with any of the Marauders. She thought her entrance would go unnoticed, but just as she was about to walk by, all four pairs of eyes looked up and watched her warily.

Later on Rhea would look back and ponder what in Merlin’s name made her stop walking and turn to look back at the boys, but even then it would remain a mystery to her.

After a few minutes of just standing and staring Rhea forced her body to move from its spot and cautiously make her way over to them.

“Anything we can help you with, Malfoy,” Sirius asked sarcastically, venom dripping from every word, but instead of paying attention to the young Black, Rhea trained her eyes on Remus who was looking more and more sick by the minute.

Remus turned his eyes downcast, but Rhea continued to stare directly at him.

“I’m not going to say anything,” she stated clearly, ignoring the looks of disbelief she received from the other three boys. “to anyone,” she finished.

Remus looked up in shock and gaped at her. His face was wrought with a mixture of confusion and worry.

“You’re…you’re not?” he stuttered.

Rhea held his gaze and shook her head slightly.

A look of relief swept across his handsome face, but she could tell he still held some doubts.

“Not even my precious brother?” Sirius spat. His grey eyes, which were identical to Regulus’, were filled with mistrust and suspicion.

“No,” she replied simply before swiftly turning around and going into the Great Hall.

“Malfoy!”

Rhea stopped short, just feet away from the Slytherin table, and spun around. She was surprised to see James hastily walking toward her. His eyes darted around nervously as he checked to see if anyone was paying attention. No one was.

“Here.”

He pulled something out from his pocket and thrust it into her hand.

Rhea looked up at him, perplexed, and James ran a hand anxiously through his hair.

“I found it in the side of my trainer. It must have fallen there when I knocked into you,” he explained as Rhea examined her pearl earring that was now sitting in the palm of her hand.

She continued inspecting the earring, but when she looked up again James’ hazel eyes were still staring down at her.

“Thank you,” she said quietly. Then, with a slight nod in her direction, he turned around and walked back to his friends.

“What was that rubbish about,” Sirius asked abruptly as James took a seat next to him at the Gryffindor table.

“I was returning something of hers,” James answered nonchalantly.

Sirius gave him an odd look but said nothing further.

“I have to say I’m still quite shocked. That was completely unexpected,” Remus murmured thoughtfully.

“Something’s going on there,” Sirius insisted. “I don’t trust her.”

“Normally I’d agree with you, Padfoot, but something tells me we can take her word on this one,” James declared as he bit into a piece of toast.

“I agree with James,” Peter added. The back of Rhea’s blonde head was visible from his seat, and he was staring at it intently.

“You just think she’s good-looking, Wormtail,” Sirius said accusingly.

“I do not!”

“Do too!”

“I do not. She’s a Slytherin!” Peter exclaimed as if that made the matter final.

“Like that would stop you,” Sirius scoffed. “Remember Payton Edwards? I’m pretty damned sure she was a snake too.”

“Sirius, let it be,” Remus warned. “Peter, we know you don’t fancy Rhea. Sirius is just taking the mickey.”

“Payton Edwards was a very nice girl,” Peter continued as blood rushed to his cheeks. “She was rather fit too.”

“Oh yes, rather fit,” Sirius said in a mockingly high voice.

“Padfoot, leave the poor bloke alone,” James scolded teasingly. “It’s not every day a bird as fit as Edwards pays attention to our Wormtail.”

“James…” Remus started.

“That’s incredibly true, Prongs. My sincerest apologies, dear Peter. I don’t know what came over me,” Sirius gushed, batting his eyelashes dramatically.

“Now really…James…Sirius…Peter, don’t mind them.”

James and Sirius howled with laughter as Peter stabbed his fork into his scrambled eggs and muttered darkly to himself.

“Stupid gits.”

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