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Diamond. by joojoo

Format: Novel
Chapters: 25
Word Count: 113,431
Status: WIP

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

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Lupin, Sirius, Lily, James, Pettigrew, OC
Pairings: Sirius/OC, James/Lily, Other Pairing

First Published: 04/06/2007
Last Chapter: 04/20/2012
Last Updated: 04/20/2012

Summary:
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Deceptions and false pretences are all part and parcel of a day in the life of Amelie Avery. Living with vindictive purebloods, she has to learn how to be quick on her feet and quicker with her tongue. But with safety of heart and mind only being found with one Sirius Black, how long can she be expected to cope with running from her reality before it consumes her? CHAPTER 25 - UP!


Chapter 1: Unwanted Surprises
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[A/N] Before we begin, a few points I would like to make out. Firstly, though this fic is dark in nature, though becomes quite light-hearted in a few chapters time to try and resemble life as we know it - in other words, with ups and downs. Secondly, though this story has been written under my own steem and really, for my own love of writing, reviews, ideas and suggestions for improvements on my writing are always welcome. And thirdly, huge thanks to timeturner for the helps with this chapter - and all my long-term reviewers who have been supporting me this long while through writing bans and beyond!

So, dearest readers, now that that's been said, sit back and enjoy!





Chapter 1 – Unwanted Surprises




Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised - Denis Waitley.


 
“Come on, Sasha, you have to go to school now,”


 
An embroidered quilt on a queen-sized bed almost submerged the slight figure of an eight-year old girl, dressed primly in a navy woollen pinafore, white shirt and thick black stockings. One small hand held a miniature porcelain doll with curly locks of golden-brown hair that cascaded around a face with such an astute aura about it that it looked almost life-like. The other held a rag doll, its scraggly brown hair falling into the black beads it had for eyes.


“Do I have to?”

 
“Yes, you do. All your friends will be there. Professor Moore told me he’s going to be giving you all a surprise today – but shush! Don’t tell, it’s meant to be a secret.” The taller figure raised her head up knowledgably at this statement, whilst the smaller one jumped up and down, hair flying everywhere.

 
“Yay! A surprise!”

 
Amelie Turner loved surprises, and, fortunately, had been on the receiving end of several to date; the most recent of which was the pony she had been bought for her eighth birthday. Being the single-child of a rich, pureblood family, she had not been exempt from the luxuries of life, even if she was unaware of just how privileged she was. Though surprises and riches were definitely on the girls’ most-loved list, it was not the most important thing in Amelie’s life by far. No, the special number one spot was reserved solely for the one person in her life who made it worth living: her daddy.

 
Amelie didn’t know her mother well. She lived with her mother, conversed with her, occasionally sat down and laughed with her over a cup of tea and scones, but that was it. In her life, Amelie had grown to see her mother as the silent figure whose presence was supposedly necessary, but at the same time slightly intimidating. She was the one who enforced the rules, set the boundaries and bickered about manners and propriety. With her mother, Amelie sometimes felt slightly suffocated and trapped, unsure about her position. She never really knew if her mother actually loved her or not.

 
Hence her father had become her refuge. With him, Amelie was comfortable and unrestricted. She knew she was his daughter, and she knew he loved her. Time would fly by when the two were together, and neither would care, for as long as they had each other, they were happy in the world.

 
Being brought up in such a way, Amelie never thought it odd that her parents didn’t seem so close. It didn’t cross her mind that she should care that her mother spent most of her days inside the grand mansion they called a home, gossiping away with her sister who had nothing better to do, instead of spending time with her own family.

 
What she was aware of, however, was the constant mutterings from her mother’s family about people who were “unworthy” and “befouled”. The girl, though young, had surmised for herself that she was being told that there were certain people who were below her in status, and that she should appreciate being who she was. Not quite comprehending this, she had one day asked her father about it, only to receive quite a surprising reply.

 
She had found out that muggle families sometimes had children who were witches and wizards, who were just as talented as clever as she was, but had simply been brought up without knowing it. Her father explained how some people didn’t accept these witches and wizards, and didn’t think of them as good enough to be part of the wizarding community, but they were wrong to think that way. Everyone should be given a chance to be what they can be, he had said. By the end of her father’s speech, she had to agree with him whole-heartedly, heart swelling with pride as she saw just how clever and caring the man in front of her was.

 
And he was her Daddy. Nothing would ever change that.

 
Amelie’s hand stopped moving abruptly as she heard raised voices from downstairs. Screeches and yells fought against each other in a verbal battle, and Amelie’s pale face began to look anxious. Her bottom lip started to quiver as the shouts continued. She knew those voices.

 
A crash resounded through the room as she threw her dolls down and ran, but she barely even registered it. She scuttled down the stairs as fast as her little legs would carry her, her breath ragged as the voices grew louder. The constricting feeling in her throat and the burning feeling at the back of her eyes told her that she did not want to bare witness on the scene below her, but her legs didn’t listen, and kept moving.

 
They came to an abrupt halt half-way down the stairs into the entrance hall. She stood on the threshold, staring at the unusual sight.

 
The atmosphere in the room was hostile. A group of around twenty people had gathered, watching the man and woman shout at each other, with haughty looks of disdain. Even the portraits seemed unimpressed. Amelie, however, only had eyes for her parents. They were volleying insults at each other, one more heartbreaking that the last, each cutting open a cold gash in her warm heart.

 
“Get out of my house!”

 
Silent tears trickled down the little girl’s face, leaving behind a trail of salty liquid on her smooth cheeks. A sob from her throat alerted the room to her presence.

 
Her father’s head snapped up eyes still livid, searching. As they rested upon the terrified gaze of her daughter, his features transformed. His expression changed from angry to frightened and worried.

 
“Oh, Amelie,” he said, coming to the foot of the stairs with his arms open wide.

 
Amelie stepped the first few stairs a bit hesitantly, but then broke into a run, enveloping her short arms around her father’s thick neck, burying her face into her father’s shoulders as she sobbed. She didn’t need to see his bags, feel his travelling cloak, or hear those terrible words that had just come out from his mother’s mouth.

 
“Daddy, why do you have to leave?”

 
A small group of children aged between seven and twelve were talking between themselves, not bothering to keep their voices down, pointing at the two in the middle of the floor.

 
“Look at him… he looks like a bloody tramp.”

 
“What does she think she’s doing, grovelling at his feet?” 


“She’s so spoilt; I bet she can’t believe her precious daddy’s leaving her.”

 
“Aw, the liddle baby is gonna cwyyyy,”


They all snickered, laughing as they watched.

 
The eight year old girl pitifully tugged on her father’s robes confused about the situation. Why was her father standing here, with all of his belongings? Why was he wearing his travelling cloak? Why wasn’t she going with him? Looking up into his eyes with her teary ones, she could see the pain in them as he bent down to hug her. She sobbed into her father’s shoulder, not caring about the looks she was being given by her haughty relatives, or the snide comments that were being sent her way by her cousins.

 
“Shh…darling, I won’t ever leave you. I’ll always be with you here.” He said, tapping her heart. “Don’t you ever forget that, princess.”

 
Her father hugged her again, fighting back tears as he felt in his heart that this would be the last time he could. It tore him to pieces as he felt her tiny body shaking with grief against his. How cruel could they be, doing this to her beloved daughter…

 
“Not that this isn’t at all heartbreaking,” came a cold, callous voice, with sarcasm dripping from every syllable. “But I do believe that some people have a train to catch…”

 
Turning around, a beautiful woman came to sight, with her long, flowing brown hair tied up elegantly at the top of her head. Her lips were blood-red, and her eyes seemed to pierce the man’s heart. Damn her and her family to play with his heard and his daughter’s – her daughter’s so cruelly and carelessly. Behind her stood a large man, with his hand on the woman’s shoulder, looking down at her approvingly as she dealt with the situation. Recently, her father hadn’t looked on him too kindly. Long gone were the days when he would sit down and have a friendly chat with him about the business and finance in the wizarding world. 


A dirty look was all he had to spare for the woman he had once loved. He couldn’t care for someone who wouldn’t love him for who he was and what he stood for; if that meant he had to leave the house then so be it. In fact, he would have been gone sooner if it wasn’t for the sake of his precious little princess. Screw the courts: how dare they play around with people’s lives so easily?

 
Well, the answer to that was simple. Anything was possible with an exchange of gold, and the Avery’s weren’t exactly lacking in that field.

 
“Now, my little Princess; be a good girl for Daddy while he’s gone. I know how you love to make trouble…”

 
Even between her tears, the young girl managed to giggle a bit as she saw her father’s moustache quiver as he held back a laugh.  

 
“See, that’s my girl. Don’t let anyone take that smile away from you, Millie. Be who you want to be. Make wise choices – not easy ones. You’re a clever little witch; I’ll always love you.”

 
“I love you too Daddy,” whispered the child as her father kissed her on the cheek one last time. Getting up, he turned and headed out towards the door. The woman came to stand behind her daughter, looking haughtily at the back of her ex-husband, the ‘excuse for a pureblood’. Without a backwards glance, he closed the door.

 
One again, tears threatened to spill out of the girls’ eyes as she saw her mother looking down at the door with disdain. “Don’t you worry, darling. We’re much better off without that filthy blood-traitor.”


 She began to howl, calling for her daddy.

 
“Don’t you ever say that word again, Amelie! Do you understand me?! You are no longer a Turner!” her mother screamed in fluent French.

 
The little girls’ bottom lip quivered as she saw the cold-heartedness in her mother’s eyes. She nodded in fear, and headed up to her bedroom, pushing past several shocked adults. Some were muttering at the fact the child of such a young age was showing ‘such insolence’, and others thinking that they wouldn’t have expected much more, with her being from a blood traitor. Some shook their heads, feeling ashamed that Avery blood had sunk so low.

 
Little Amelie slammed her door shut and locked it with a spell. On the floor, she saw the remains of her favourite doll, Lissie: shattered and broken into a thousand tiny pieces. Nothing was left anymore.

 
After taking one look at her room, she threw herself down on her king-size bed and cried and cried, clutching on to Sasha as if her life depended on it. She thought about her evil aunties and her sly cousins who would always hurt her and then put the blame on her so that she would be punished, who would taunt her and tease her and call her a cry-baby. But more than everything, she thought about her dad, where he was, what he was doing, and what she would do without him. She wanted him; needed him. He was her Daddy, her rock - and now he was gone.

 
The room around the little girl slowly grew dark; a strong wind was blowing outside, causing the tree branches to tap against the window ceaselessly, and could be heard as it found its way into the draughty house. The young girl thought of her father fighting his way past the gale-force wind, wrapping his cloak around him to shelter him from the brutal weather. He had no Millie to help him.

 
Amelie’s thoughts were wrapped around the last words and sentiments her father had left her with, not believing that they were the last that she would hear and feel from him. He wouldn’t be there to see her into Hogwarts, he wouldn’t be there to see her pass her OWLs or her NEWTs, he wouldn’t be there to see her get married…

 
Wiping her tears, she sat up in her bed. She may have only been a small girl with a frail frame, but she was determined to make her father proud. She wasn’t going to stay up in her room and cry: she was going to be a clever little witch. She wasn’t going to let her cousins bully her, or give them any excuses. She’ll pretend to be the perfect daughter for her mother. No more temper tantrums, no obvious defiance against the house rules and traditions. From now on, she’d have to work secretly, without being detected.

 
Her grief evaporated as her brain began to go into overdrive, trying to think about how she was going to get out of this house alive when she was old enough. Her eyes were screwed up tightly as she tried to sort out her thoughts. To herself, she thought she was swimming through a river at high tide, picking up the pieces of thought she needed and collecting them together in a big jumble before diving back to sort through them.

 
“It is time for dinner, Miss” squeaked the house-elf, Hinky.

 
She nodded in acknowledgement. Lifting herself up from her bed, she tied a ribbon around her head, and smoothed down her taffeta dress and petticoat, before rubbing her eyes. Once in her bathroom, she washed her face, and headed downstairs with a smile on her face. She ignored the shocked faces of her relatives as she gave her mother a kiss on the cheek as she sat down.


 
“Good evening, mother.”


Chapter 2: Flawed Perfection
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Disclaimer: Any characters you see and recognise throughout this story are property of JK Rowling.  




Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. – Joseph Campbell.






Amelie Avery had become the ideal pureblood daughter. Her grasp of the French language was unreal – her fluency rivalling her aunts at their best. Her impeccable manners and etiquette had become somewhat renowned in the community, which, together with the manifestation of perfection her façade conveyed, made her formidable. Never showing any signs of weakness, the young girl held an icy composure that froze everything in her vicinity – yet her eyes held in them a fire so blistering that would seem burn the very soul of anyone who would dare cross her.


 


It was a swelteringly hot day, the sun duly scorching everything in its vicinity, and Amelie had positioned herself under the shade provided by an old oak tree that she was particularly fond of. Oddly enough, sitting under its huge, antediluvian boughs brought to her a sense of comfort, much like the one most people feel when sitting next to a favourite grandparent. Having been informed by her mother and step-father earlier that day of a formal gathering of sorts that was to be held at their house that evening, she had managed to slip away from the gloomy surroundings of the mansion to her favourite hide-out so that she could clear her thoughts before the night, where she would be, of course, wearing her finest clothing and on her best behaviour.


 


Never had anyone ever guessed or caught any signs to point that Amelie detested the continuous torture of having to feign delight at being stuffed into overly-fancy dresses, fawned over by vile, middle-aged women, hearing about muggle hunting and the like; that she loathed the formalities and the empty shows of emotion that each pure-blood showed the other, only to whisper about them mutinously as soon as their backs were turned.


 


 Even though she knew she had brought it upon herself, it pained Amelie to know that no one knew her. She was a cold, ice princess; withdrawn and yet indulgent. She hated to know that she had no one to trust, no shoulder to cry on. Having experienced trauma at such a young age and forced to fend for herself, she was perfectly aware that she was an unnatural child, not having experienced the joys and innocence of childhood. She had not kept a diary or a journal to pour out her secrets in, knowing full well that anything written down could be used as blackmail by her less-than-amorous family. Had she even had locked the thing with magic, there would have surely been someone who could open it. There wasn’t a lack of motive: many would jump at the chance to bring her down from her exalted position – her cousins first and foremost. Those pathetic creatures that had let the evil ambience of their own family engulf them – warped ideals and all.


 


Though her subconscious dreaded the upcoming evening and its frivolities, the forefront of her mind had become almost numb to these routine gatherings. Another evening of mingling with the Rosier’s, Mulciber’s, Black’s, Malfoy’s, Crabbe’s, Goyle’s, Nott’s, Parkinson’s… ‘really, what more could I possibly wish for?’ Ignoring the fact that half of them were related to her in some way or another (for purebloods did not mind incest as long as the purity of their blood remained in tact through the generations), and each of the families having at least one eligible male for her, she was sure to be plagued by scores of pure blood mothers, trying to take a good look at her for ‘future reference’, leaving her to stand whilst been gawped at, looking as appealing as possible. Of course, the odd blush or two for the odd occasion of a male passing her wouldn’t hurt, either. It really wouldn’t be too hard, what with all of the practice…


 


Resigned to her fate, Amelie stood up, weaving her way past the rosebushes and undergrowth that made up part of the garden. Creaking open the back door, Amelie stepped into the cool shade of the kitchens.


 


The house-elves were frantic. Running zigzagged (to prevent any collisions with one another) left, right and centre, each had one thing on their mind: perfection. After all, their heads were at risk – quite literally. Amelie walked past them all, not sparing a second-glance, heading for the parlour where her mother was inevitably gossiping with her Aunty Annette, whilst their husbands would talk of their businesses and such – how typically Victorian.


 


But indeed, within a year of divorcing Amelie’s father, Antoinette Avery had managed to bag another husband. It wasn’t that shocking, considering that she was renowned for her dark beauty. No, it was more the fact that Amelie had been forced to call this new man her father – this man who she wanted nothing to do with. Even though she kept with her mother’s maiden name (which had been thrust upon her at her father’s departure), she had been forced to obey to Cepheus Nott’s every word since he had entered her miserable life, respecting him like a father.


 


To the eye, she revered the man. No one really understood how the little girl supposedly grew attached to him so quickly, but then again, no one really understood the little girl. Though she hated the man with a vengeance, she had to keep up appearances. It took a great deal of effort to refrain from scratching the living daylights out of him when she had first seen him, though, as with most things, Amelie learnt to push her emotions on the topic to the back of her mind, locking them securely.


 


Talk in the parlour was, as usual, incredibly bland. Amelie had, thankfully, learned to zone out of these over the past few years, appearing attentive to the eye. Though, of course, the adults did not pay much attention to the young ones, believing that they should be seen and not heard. As long as they were present and properly quiet, all was good.


 


“And then, I went and told the man, ‘If you really want to help that mudblood, go pick his gravestone for him!’”


 


‘Hilarious man, my step-father,’


 


The comment was met by hearty guffaws from her uncle, and appreciative laughter from the women. Her mother practically threw herself on the man, tittering, with an expression that strongly resembled someone in ecstasy. Amelie chortled, though only half-heartedly. She felt sick. That poor man; he didn’t know how deep that threat could really go.


 


Her train of thoughts, however, was cut short, as she realised that her mother and aunt were both standing, asking permission to part from the table. Apparently, it was time to get ready. ‘Get ready for routine torture,’ she thought.


 


When the purebloods all gathered together, it was not so much of a social gathering, but of a show of status. Hence, each family wore their finest clothing, and set about dressing up their children with greatest care, each hoping to ensure that their own child looked the best. Sitting in front of a cluttered, French dressing table upstairs, the women set down to work, daintily applying their make-up with the greatest deal of precision on themselves and then their children, not wanting to look second-best in comparison to any of their guests. Being the hosts, it would be dreadfully embarrassing if they did.


 


Soon the room was strewn with layers of petticoats, lacy dresses and frills, as Amelie’s cousins, Drusilla and Agrippa fought over what to wear.


 


“But mother, I saw that necklace first!” whined Agrippa, her voice at an ear-splitting pitch.


 


“Mother! That isn’t true!” snapped Drusilla, her teeth clenched. Noticing that this behaviour wouldn’t get her anywhere, she sat up, refined herself and, in what she thought was a ladylike manner continued her argument. “Besides, I am the eldest. Think, mother: I’m going to be the one that the other women are looking at!”


 


Amelie restrained herself, barely refraining from rolling her eyes. Recently it had been so much harder to keep her emotions in check… ‘that girl is trying far too hard’ (she couldn’t bring herself to refer to her as her cousin). Even an idiot could see that she was still boiling with rage – her hands were even shaking.


 


You know, Agrippa, I have another necklace that is simply untouchable – much more suitable for the dress that you’re wearing now. How about giving that necklace to Drusilla, hmm? She is the eldest, and you would do well to respect her.” Amelie’s aunt shot a furtive glance at her elder sister, trying not to voice her shame over her daughter’s despicable behaviour. They were making an utter fool out of her, but she wouldn’t let dear Antoinette know of her unease.


 


Ignoring the bickering girls and their stuck-up, rule-abiding mother, Amelie allowed her mother to help her into her dress, tightening up the bows and laces, fixing the frills as they were needed to be, and handed her some of the family’s finest eighteenth-century jewels before setting about fixing up her daughter’s face to utter perfection.


 


Amelie looked at her face in the mirror, feeling oddly empty. The girl she was looking at in the mirror was not her. She was disgusted. ‘Damn it, I’m only eleven!’ (Yes, our darling little Amelie had very colourful, inventive vocabulary stored away in the depths of her mind.) And here she was, made out to look like some royal in the Victorian ages. ‘So much for purebloods being the way forwards’. So repulsed by what she saw in front of her, she barely noticed the minutes slipping by, her cousins, aunt and mother leaving the room to entertain the guests who were slowly arriving. Her hand went up to her necklace, touching it delicately. It was indeed a beautiful thing, if only it didn’t feel so tainted on her skin…


 


“Darling, Amelie!” called her mother, shaking her out of her reverie. Amelie could hear the tinkling of wine glasses and hearty guffaws of the men downstairs, indicating that the guests had in fact arrived. As her duty, she had to welcome them all. ‘How bloody tedious’, she sighed, fixing a raven coloured lock of hair before heading downstairs.


 


“Ah, Amelie!” she exclaimed, catching a glimpse of her daughter at the top of the stairs. “I’m sure you know of Mrs. Black?”


 


“How do you do?” Once Amelie reached he bottom stair, she curtsied, looking politely, with a tinge of bashfulness at Mrs. Black’s gaze, aware of two boys standing next to her, even though both of whom were in truth having no such affect on her whatsoever. For an eleven-year old, Amelie had been forced to endure far too many lustful gazes from men than the usual normal girl, being brought up how she had. Not all of the gazes were welcome either – in fact, most of them weren’t. However, she always managed to somehow keep her formidable look whilst looking rightly modest. Such a darling girl, she was.


 


“My, my! Antoinette, dear! You never told me you’re daughter was such a darling! Her beauty is quite fitting for a pureblood.” Mrs. Black told Amelie’s mother, who in turn looked at her daughter with a certain degree of pride.


 


“Why thank you, Walburga.” ‘What a horrendous name’, thought Amelie. “I could easily say the same – you’re two sons are turning out to be strapping young men.”


 


Amelie would have pretended to blush at the banter of the two blustering women, but frankly, she was quite repulsed at the woman’s comment. Fitting for a pureblood, my arse. Nevertheless, her mother’s blusher did the trick for her.


 


“I’m sure you know of my sons,” began Mrs. Black, now talking to Amelie. “Young Sirius and Regulus Black? Sirius here is starting in Hogwarts this year, too…”


 


Amelie had in fact received a letter of acceptance from Hogwarts, but wasn’t entirely sure of whether she should be happy or not. She was adamant that she would not go into Slytherin, as her family full well expected her to, but then again, there was the question of what to do when she wasn’t one. She had spent all this time building up her perfect pure-blood persona, and now everything she had strived for would be ruined. All the pretence of enjoying her life, loving her step-father and mother - she had always known it would have to end sooner or later, but she would have preferred it if it was later. Yet if she went into Slytherin, then she would be back where she started: stuck in her own little world, trying to fight for her sanity through all the warped misconceptions of the pureblood world.


 


Her eyes shifted on to Sirius; a young boy with stylish black hair falling elegantly into his misty grey eyes. Admittedly, he was probably one of the best-looking she had seen so far, and she found herself wondering why she hadn’t seen him beforehand. His eyes were unreadable – something that Amelie found quite disconcerting, having always been able to discern what people were thinking. ‘Strange…’


 


His brother was also quite easy on the eye, though his aura was much less enticing, and his eyes were brown – not to mention that he was a good three years younger than her. Somehow, his eyes seemed to be transfixed on Amelie, his mouth slightly open. Amelie had to fight with herself to refrain from raising an eyebrow at the youngest Black. How could someone’s salivary glands produce that much drool?


 


Regardless of their looks, they were both obviously revelling in their luxurious lives, being the newest generation of Blacks, and if they did not see the need to pull away from such an atmosphere, she didn’t see the need of pointing it out to them. She was not going to make matters worse for herself, anyhow.


 


Just her luck to have to be in the same year as one of them…


 


Politely, she curtsied to the two boys, both of whom bowed back formally. Regulus looked slightly foolish, almost tripping over his dress robes as he kept eye contact with the girl in front of him.  The three of them exchanged greetings, none appearing to be forced, and were soon after shepherded off by their mothers, who had just finished their conversation.  


 


As she had expected, she saw many more men that night, ranging from eleven to nineteen, each pausing to slip a charming comment or two her way, before passing on to woo some other unfortunate girl. She politely talked to each, not suggesting anything, but not denying them either. Her life had, so far, been kind, allowing her to take a middle-route in her decisions and choices – up until now. Soon, she knew she had to make a decision: one that would change her entire plans, and determine where her loyalties truly lay.


 


After a few hours of formal banter, battering eyelashes and a few sips of white wine, she headed out into the garden, fanning herself with her white-gloved hand, as she sat down beside her favourite oak tree. People had been dancing inside, and the room was growing quite hot. She had been forced to dance with at least five men before she could squirm her way out of the place to retreat into her own thoughts.


 


“Why hullo, Miss Avery,”


 


She looked up to see Lucius Malfoy, a pale boy of around sixteen or so, standing above her. Somewhere in her peripheral vision, she could make out Ursa Malfoy, his mother eyeing the situation cautiously. Obviously, she had put him up to this.


 


“Good evening, Mr. Malfoy.” She might as well play along.


 


“What might a young lady as beautiful as yourself be doing sitting out her all alone? Surely you should be dancing…”


 


Before he could suggest anything, as Amelie knew he would, she cut into his words. “Thank you for your kindness, sir, but I was merely taking a breath of fresh air. I’ll be sure to come back in when I feel refreshed.” She didn’t smile, or frown. She just said what she said and looked around, her head held high. With a jolt she noticed they weren’t alone, but didn’t say anything.


 


“Very well,” Malfoy said. He took her hand and kissed it, his eyes lingering on hers for any show of emotion. Finding nothing, he bowed and left. ‘Honestly,’ she thought, If they weren’t about five years older than me they might have had the slightest chance…’


 


“My, my, aren’t we an icy one?” For the second time that night, Amelie heard a voice behind her. Looking back again, she saw Sirius Black sitting on one of the boughs of her favourite tree, one foot dangling down, the other bent at the knee, staring down at her. He was lying down across one of the stronger branches, his head casually tilted towards her, and though his posture screamed conceited, his tone was much less stuck-up than the others she had heard that night. Half of her longed to talk back to him like that, but she refrained. Not yet.


 


“Master Black! What are you doing up that tree?”


 


“Why, looking at the magnificent view, of course.”


 


“Oh my, I’m terribly sorry,” said Amelie, well aware that she didn’t sound sorry at all, staring him down even though he was a good few metres above her. “I presumed that you liked to pry into people’s conversations. Though I daresay, some of them would be interesting... ”


 


“It’s not really my problem that Malfoy decided to have a cosy little chat with you right under my nose now, is it?” With a flip, the young boys swung round the tree branch and jumped down within centimetres of Amelie’s face, with the perfect poise of a cat, looking straight into Amelie’s eyes. He was standing uncomfortably close, but Amelie refused to show any sign of indignation. After all, he was in her garden. Who was she to move away? He bent closer to her, faces practically touching as he whispered, “Besides, watching is so much more interesting than being in the thick of things, don’t you think?”


 


Amelie struggled hard not to feel unnerved. So what if she always watched situations from the sidelines, feigning to be in the thick of it all? He didn’t know anything about her. Why should she start feeling uncomfortable now? “I wouldn’t really know…”


 


“Oh, really?!” There was a definite aura of disbelief in the boys’ voice as he circled Amelie like a vulture, ready to swoop down on its’ prey, never breaking eye-contact with the girl. “You know, people don’t realise that they can betray themselves when they think someone isn’t looking.”


 


“What are you trying to suggest, Master Black?” her tone became snappy as she became defensive. She had spent all this time building up a persona, only to have someone whom she only knew existed a few minutes ago to begin to pick at the seems of her closely-tailored life.


 


“I’m saying, Miss Avery, that there is more to people than meets the eye.” He had still not backed away, his voice incredibly smooth, his breath tickling her skin, his nose practically brushing against hers. For the first time in her life, Amelie felt out of her depth.


 


“Like who?” Her voice grew menacing, but he was undeterred. He came closer to her, practically pinning her next to the ancient oak tree he had been sitting in, trying, and succeeding, to be intimidating.


 


He bent his head close to her ear as he whispered, “People like you.”


 


Her throat clenched. “What do you know about me?” Her voice came out in a strangled cry. She couldn’t believe herself. After all she’d been through; she had somehow managed to get herself into this position. ‘Damn it, he’s only eleven!’, she thought, then berating herself for it. After all, it wasn’t like she was much older. 


 


“A fair bit,” he said nonchalantly, now sitting down with his back to the tree, his legs outstretched towards her, tilting his head up at her so that his eyes would peer at hers through his hair. He looked quite amused; watching the Ice Queen turn into a bundle of nerves in front of his eyes was a sight not seen regularly.


 


“Care to explain?!” she spat through clenched teeth, her eyes boring into his.


 


“You really want to know what I know?” he asked, suddenly backing away, leaving Amelie feeling oddly cold and exposed for a moment, before she reverted back to her old self.


 


“You know, I think that might just be what I was trying to tell you for the past five minutes…” The sarcasm was not missed on him.


 


“Fine, I’ll tell you.” He said, leaning his back another tree trunk, still staring at her. “I’ve seen you loads of times at these stupid get-togethers and such… I know you don’t like them. You pretend to.” His eyes scanned hers to see her reaction as he went through his analysis in a monotone. “You try your best to act like the perfect little girl, and, mind you, plenty buy into it, though that’s probably because they want to believe that you like it all. You, though - you hate the whole thing. That’s why you act so bloody threatening: if anyone saw through you then they’d know that you weren’t like them at all, and then everything would be in shambles, wouldn’t it? You’re playing make-believe, and sometimes you even fool yourself. Deep down, though, you know you’re a fake, and you’re almost proud of it.”


 


His lips curled into a smile as he saw her face. For the first time in years, her guard was down. He felt satisfied as she stopped acting as an ice princess. It was comforting to see that she was just another eleven-year-old with feelings. Her mouth had dropped down and her eyes were practically bulging out of her head in disbelief.


 


“Looks like I was right,” he snickered, obviously enjoying his victory.


 


There was a moment of pause as he stood up, coming closer to her to look at her eyes better. All she could do was stare as he dissected her life before her very eyes. The silence was intense; almost electrifying, almost as if the world outside the two of them had come to a standstill. A deep breath, and then came thunder.


 


She didn’t bother to scream, or shout. She feigned a turn to leave, only to turn back around and throw her full weight into a punch that hit him squarely in the nose. With a satisfying crunch, she noted that she had hit her target. Sparing him a look of disdain, she walked quickly away from the scene and headed back into the house, her face no longer bare of emotion, but full of hatred and anger.



 



 


“Amelie!” screamed her mother later that night. Soon after Sirius Black had entered the house with a broken nose, the night came to an abrupt halt. What with all the parents being so shocked and surprised, no one really felt in the mood to party – especially not in a house where they didn’t stick to their rules by the letter.


 


“Je suis folle d’inquiétude! What possessed you to do that to Master Black?! Tu sais qu’on l’interdit de les gens de sangs purs se frappent?!”


 


For the tenth time that night – or it perhaps fiftieth, it was hard to tell – her mother reminded her child of the taboo against hitting other purebloods. To say the least, she was angry. Her respectability replaced with decadence, her mother’s dark eyes blazed with a fire that had not been seen since the days of her fights with her father, ashamed that her own daughter had anything to do such a thing. She was meant to be the role-model: the perfect pureblood - the exemplary child. The last few hours of the night had changed all of that. Upon seeing the poor boy splattered with his own blood, word spread quickly. People saw her daughter angry. No, not angry – furious, livid, seething, apoplectic with rage. The girl they had all thought was the epitome of modesty and decorum was swearing and blinding left, right and centre.


 


Many blamed the outburst on her father: he wasn’t worth much. It was bound to come out in her in some way or another. Pity, they thought. She would have been such a brilliant addition to their family. This, in itself, heightened Antoinette Avery’s anger. She was once again reminded of that piece of filth, just as she had thought that her life was back on track, her daughter had turned out to be just as bad. The piece of shit couldn’t even give her a decent child. Filth.


 


Amelie’s blood, however, had not run cold. If her mother was angry, she was beside herself with rage. She was fed up – all those nights being beaten into pulp by a man whom she was forced to call her father, being sneered at by her aunt and cousins, forced to believe that anyone who wasn’t a pureblood was a piece of shit… the latch that locked all her thoughts away in her mind for the past eleven years had been opened, and she was sure that it wasn’t going to close anytime soon.


 


“Mais, maman!” she screamed back. “Il est agaçant! He kept asking me stupid bloody questions. I didn’t want to answer the bastard! If he’d’ve moved then his nose wouldn’t’ve got smashed either!”


 


In a voice barely higher than a whisper, with each syllable laced in cold fury, her mother voiced the thing Amelie had been both wanting and trying to postpone for a long time. “Je suis très déçu dans toi.”


 


Her mother was disappointed. Her family was disappointed. Now she was left with two choices – she could either work to try and re-earn some of that respect, or she could finally break away and be who she wanted to be, and not be strung along like a stupid puppet. She knew full well that she would never be able to get back to the status she had held just hours ago. Whatever she did now, to those people she would no longer seem flawless, and, quite frankly, she didn’t care anymore. 


 


Still trying to realise the immensity of what was being said to her, she remembered her father’s words “…Be a good little girl for Daddy while he’s gone. I know how you love to make trouble…” She smirked.


 


Trouble it is then.


 









[A/N] I hope the French is alright… I didn’t have anyone to check it for me but hey! If anyone can correct me, please leave a comment and I’ll fix it.





Anyway, hope you like where I’m going with this. If you read my old abandoned attempt at a Marauder story, you can see what I was saying when I said that the new one was going to be a bit darker. If you haven’t, don’t bother, lol.



Please review and make a lonely girl happy! ^_^


Chapter 3: Three Stunned Boys and an Evans
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To run away is not glorious, but very healthy ~ Russian proverb







Morning on the 1st September 1970 brought new hope to Amelie. Over the past few days, she had spent a lot more time than usual by resting her favourite oak tree, allowing her subconscious to sort through the utter chaos and confusion that had entered her life. Her cogitations and musings, together with the ample amount of sleep-time she had been giving herself (now that she did not need to rise at the premature time of five-thirty every morning), had finally strengthened her resolve to end the stupid charade she called a life.


 


Her parents, who had not said a word to her since “the incident” – apart from the odd beating or two at the wand of her so-called father – had refused to take her to the station. Amelie, being far too proud to beg, tagged along with her aunt, who remained tight-lipped and stony-faced. Annette Avery had pretended to appear extremely disappointed at her niece’s actions, though very crudely. To Amelie, it could not have been clearer that she was nothing short of thrilled that her elder sister had had her life mucked up yet again.


 


Drusilla and Agrippa, who were now fourth and second year Slytherins, were not so reserved about their emotions. Forever tired of being shunned into the shadows (albeit due to their own infantile conduct), they both presently wore gleeful expressions. Neither of them had passed the chance to thank their cousin, shooting her snide remarks, glad to be able to finally be able to do so without being reprimanded by their family. 


 


All in all, by the time eleven o’clock had arrived, Amelie was sitting contentedly having found her own compartment. Gazing out of the large window, she found that she felt a buzz of excitement coursing through her veins. After all, she was going to the best school of witchcraft and wizardry there was.


 


Tapping her feet subconsciously, she glanced at the platform below. With ten minutes left until departure, it was teeming with bustling parents and teenagers, some looking around frantically, others engaged in seemingly intense conversations. Parents were sobbing; children’s looking flustered and embarrassed by the show of what they thought was unnecessary emotion. Amelie found it all quite endearing and heart-breaking; beyond anything she wished that her parents would stick by her like that, shower her with love and kisses and endless attention. ‘Damn the lot of them,’ she thought bitterly, turning away from the stomach-churning scene with a huff.


 


The minutes ticked by, and Amelie stared blankly outside, not trying to comprehend anything, just savouring a few last moments in this no-man’s-land she had put herself in. Before she knew it, it would all be over, and, for good or for worse, her life path would be clear.


 


With a jerk, the train began to slowly creep forwards, the platform slipping away as it gained speed every second. Amelie watched in amazement as an old boy of around nineteen or so with a mop of brown hair ran, waving, trying to keep up with the train, though falling back through the force of his laughter. For a second, she tried to imagine that she was the girl that the boy was waving to, but couldn’t manage to work out how she was meant to respond to it. Would she laugh? Cry? Or be angry at the fool he was making of himself? After all, surely you shouldn’t want to be seen dead running after a train when you were as old as he was.


 


Maybe an hour had passed, maybe two, Amelie did not know. All she knew was that at one point in her long journey, a voice interrupted her thoughts.


 


“Excuse me, is it okay if I sit here?”


 


Amelie turned, breaking away from her thoughts to see a girl with rather dishevelled, vibrant crimson-coloured hair and astonishingly bright emerald coloured eyes looking straight at her.


 


Determined though she was to throw her old, snooty self away, she found it somewhat arduous. Somehow, she managed to give a feeble smile, not feeling altogether used to the presence of a girl who she could actually befriend. ‘Look what you’ve done to yourself, you idiot! When did you let yourself become so bloody anti-social?’ This girl had done nothing to her, and yet she was already thinking of being remote and cold.



Deciding to take up the challenge and show her true colours, she spoke up.



“Sure, take a seat…Is everything alright?”


 


“Thanks,” said the girl, plopping down into the seat opposite. “Er, no… it’s nothing. Just this, erm… boy was sort of teasing me– I had had to duck between these two older students to lose him. I think they might have been seventh years.”


 


Amelie bit back a laugh, trying hard not to come across as apathetic to her newest acquaintance and possible-first-friend. “Sounds like you’ve got yourself an admirer already!”


 


Lily scowled and blushed, mean whilst looking slightly horrified at the thought. After all, boys were disgusting. Amelie let out a pleasant laugh, starting to feel comfortable in the position she was in. “I’m Amelie, by the way. I guess you’re a first year too then?”



“Wha – oh! Yeah,” The girl shook her mane of red hair, trying to push back the horrid thoughts of possibly having a stalker before even having reached the school.



Feeling the tension, Amelie asked, “You nervous?”



Lily bit her lip. Upon receiving her letter, she had felt almost dazed. Having always been a rational child, she had always believed in witches and wizards as things of fantasies. She was always more logical: asking for explanations behind everything, reading books, finding out interesting things. Even as a child, she hadn’t really believed in the existence of Santa Claus (‘who on Earth could travel the whole world and give presents to people in one night? Goes against all the laws of science’). At first, she had thought that maybe it was some sort of sick joke from her sister Petunia, who was prone to doing such things, being the girl she was. Shortly afterwards – once her common sense had returned, she realised that, clever though Petunia was, she would not have gone to such lengths to single her out. And then, of course, there was her disposition upon her receiving the letter.


Though the two were never the best of sisters, due to the obvious presence of sibling rivalry at that age, they had never really hated each other. They would talk civilly one minute, and be sharpening their nails the next. Petunia was only a couple of years older than Lily, and felt as if her status as “the oldest” was not given enough credit. At the same time, Lily hated being treated as the child, when less than two years younger than her sister (and, in her opinion, considerably more mature than when her sister was her age).



Lily’s acceptance letter had abruptly torn apart any sort of relationship she and Petunia possibly had shared. Overcome with jealousy, her sister now refused to even acknowledge her presence, forcing herself to believe that Lily was a freak, so as to cover up her own feelings on the matter. Petunia had started treating her sister, whom she would once join with in playful banter, with a sneering indifference; avoiding her like the plague. It had been much the same all summer and Lily found herself wondering whether any school was worth what little relationship she had with her sister, and found it disconcerting. Never having been a self-conscious girl, she had always spoken what was on her mind without a second-thought – and now here she was, feeling worried because Petunia of all people, was mocking her. Since when had she ever taken her words to heart?



With these thoughts, she decided she couldn’t care. Her sister was pushing her aside willingly, and her stubborn pride would not allow her to grovel at her sister’s feet. As the summer passed and the tension between the siblings increased, Lily had found herself wishing to be at Hogwart’s already – anywhere away from Petunia.


 


“Sort of,” admitted Lily. “See, I didn’t really know anything about magic or Hogwarts ‘til I got the letter…you should have seen the looks on my parents faces! They were so pleased! One of the Professors came and explained everything – took me into Diagon Alley and everything. I’d never seen a place so interesting before! I bought Hogwarts: A History too, to see where I’m coming too. It seems fascinating.”


 


Conveniently, she forgot to mention about her sister. There really was no point in it, seeing as they didn’t act like sisters anymore.


 


“The name’s Lily, by the way, Lily Evans.”



Amelie smiled pleasantly at her – she felt safe saying it – friend. Having been a pureblood, she had heard a lot about the book and the school. The book, of course, was said to be quite a boring read, but she wasn’t going to shun someone for being… alternative. (Mentally, Amelie applauded herself on her fantastic choice of word) Regardless of that fact, though, she didn’t want to let anything on about her background. Not yet, at least.



“Er, so - are you French, by any chance?”



Amelie refrained from scowling as her newly formulated plan was virtually thrown out of the window.


 


“What makes you say that?” she asked, wincing soon after as she noticed the sharp tone in her voice. Luckily, Lily hadn’t seemed to have noticed.



“Just that… I mean, well, Amelie is the French version of Amelia… or Emily.”



Amelie shrugged, donning her nonchalant façade, hating herself for it. Hadn’t she only just promised herself that she was going to stop with the whole Ice-Queen thing? Yet another part of her told her that she didn’t want to let on too much about herself so soon…“Well, my mother was born and brought up in France as a child, and her parents were French, too. My Dad was English, though.” Deciding that that was enough about her past and parentage, she changed the subject. “You know… if you find Amelie a mouthful you can try calling me something simpler.”



“Er… how about Amy?”



“That’s nice.”


 


The new name shifted something, creating a comfortable atmosphere between the two girls, and allowing them each a smile. Amelie had a new identity: one she was determined to use this time to be herself, and not what she needed to be. She had a feeling that somehow, that as long as she managed to hold on to the friendship of this girl, maybe things would turn out alright.



Perhaps.



The hours that went by passed with each sharing stories and talking jovially. Amelie felt content, happy to finally be able to talk to someone. Of course, she didn’t sit down and tell the details of her past, but she could talk to this girl without worrying about how she said every damn thing that came out of her mouth: if they were ‘proper’ enough for a ‘young lady’ to say them.



The food trolley came and went, and the girls enjoyed eating the chocolate frogs, the pumpkin pasties and the every flavour beans – Amelie found Lily’s reaction to wizarding things quite amusing. 



“Don’t muggle pictures move?”



“Muggle?” Lily looked up with a questioning look at her friend.



Ah, the simplicity. This is actually quite endearing.’



“People who can’t do magic.”



Lily’s frown straightened out in understanding. “Oh! No, they don’t. They stay put…”



“My, that’s odd. Aren’t they boring?”



“Well, no. Some pictures are actually quite interesting. Captures the moment, you know? For moving pictures we have video cameras, but they aren’t as good as normal cameras. All of this magic stuff is just so strange and new to me…”



Amelie, sensing her friend’s apprehension, gave a comforting smile. “Don’t worry; you’ll be used to all of it soon.”



Lily returned the smile, just starting to feel more comfortable with herself when the compartment door flew open with a bang, making her jump up in shock.



“En guarde, you manky piece of dilligrout.”



Amelie raised a dignified eyebrow, turning her neck around as she sat serenely in her seat.



“Excuse me?” 



“Er…” Three boys stood in the doorway, each with their wands brandished. The main perpetrator, who oddly had his wand merely centimetres away from Amelie’s petite nose, was a black-haired bespectacled boy, who suddenly looked quite discomfited under Amelie’s intimidating gaze. He quickly withdrew his wand from under her nose, raising his arm to scratch the back of his neck in obvious discomfort.



“Er… awfully sorry,” he began remorsefully. “We saw some Slytherins come this way, and one of them was bullying this boy so we thought we’d go save him. Wrong compartment, it seems.” His eyes searched around the compartment and glittered mischievously as they fell upon Lily. “Or maybe not! My name’s James Potter! We meet again!”



Lily, who was standing behind Amelie, groaned.  Before the boy could say anything though, Amelie let out a shout as she noticed something she wished she hadn’t. 



The two remaining boys were a bit taller than James Potter, one with neat straw coloured hair and incredible brown eyes. The second profile was less welcome - she could tell who it was from a mile off: the elegant black hair, royal nose and those fathomless grey eyes that were staring so intently into hers …



“You,” she whispered, not at all happy.



“Avery?!”



“Black.”



“What are you doing here?” They both shouted in unison. Amelie had leapt up to her feet, wand drawn.



“Get out!” She was no longer acting pleasant or calm. Her smooth black hair whipped around her shoulders as she spat the words out, her anger embedded deep within syllable that she spoke. How dare he invade her carriage? – The stuffed-up prick.



“Well, I see you’ve changed.” He commented approvingly, leaning casually against the doorframe, looking down at her. “Our little spat over the summer helped you along, did it? Glad my nose was of such great use…” His grey eyes sparkled with ill-disguised amusement as the corners of his lips were twitching into something that looked suspiciously like a smirk. Amelie found, as her blood began to boil, that she didn’t like it in the least. 



“Oh,” she found herself smirking too, despite herself. He really did like to stick his foot in it – the bloody bastard. “Glad, are you? You won’t mind another round then? ‘Cos that crunch I felt last time was oddly satisfying.”



Black opened his mouth to answer, but was cut short.



“You’re an Avery?” The bespectacled Potter boy looked at Amelie with distinct wariness.



Her attention snapped from Black to the boy next to him, her mouth wide, feeling almost too incredulous to speak. Upon finding her voice, she noticed that it had risen to a dangerous pitch, and felt rather pleased about it. The effect this simple act had on the boy was quite shocking. Lily found herself quite amused as he held his arms up above his head, cowering from her wrath.


 


“He’s a Black! You don’t seem to mind hanging with him! Why do you care if I’m an Avery? He’s more of a Black than I’m an Avery, anyway! It’s not really like they want me anymore thanks to Prince Pompous over here!”



Turning to Black, she continued, “Bet you and your Mum had a great laugh, going over how you got me to embarrass my whole family all in one night. Went and had a party, did you?! Leaving me to get sodding beat by that git! You’re all as bad as each other, you lot are! Now get the bloody hell out of my way!”



Roughly passing the three stunned boys, she sprinted down the corridor, feeling a strong mixture of anger and misery. She had said more than she had wanted to. Was it so wrong for her to be able to start afresh? Couldn’t she, too, lead a life away from evil, twisted people with sick minds and perverted ideas about the world? Knowing from the constricted feeling that she had in her throat that she was about to break down, she thrust open the toilet door, clutching her shaking arms against the sides of the sink as she cried for the first time in three years.




 



Looking at herself in the mirror, Amelie saw a shadow of what she had been. Her dark eyes were puffy and red from crying, and yet she didn’t feel pathetic or weak. She felt oddly comforted that for once in her life she could show her emotions, to herself at least: feel what she wanted to feel. She realised she was no longer Princess Avery, the little pureblood from heaven, but her own person.



As she let a smile come onto her lips, she remembered her father’s words to her…though he had said them all those years ago; they were recorded deep into Amelie’s memory. She doubted that she’d ever forget that day. “Don’t let anyone take that smile away from you, Amelie. Be who you want to be. Make wise choices – not easy ones. You’re a clever little witch; I’ll always love you.”  She remembered the roughness of her father’s face as she hugged it to herself, wishing he’d never leave. It was now her turn to truly shine: to be the witch that she was meant to be. Hogwarts was her new home and frankly, she couldn’t care less about how she was going to be treated in the summer. It would probably be terrible, yes, but it would be a pity to let it get in the way of the freedom she would gain in this castle.



She remembered her father, and the moments she had shared with him. More than ever she wished that he was here now, sharing the moment with her. Watching those parents on the platform in King’s Cross had brutally shown her how alone she was, and yet, somehow, remembering him, she felt her resolve grow stronger. She had to break away from her family.



Wiping her tears and washing her face, she headed back to the compartment, where she thankfully noted that the boys had gone. Lily gave her a warm smile, explaining that she had shouted at them and sent them off for annoying her friend, whacking the boy with the glasses hard on the head as he had opened his mouth to say something.



Amelie, regretting that she had been indisposed to see the scene first-hand, laughed heartily, and found that she quite liked it. Perceiving that there was not much time left until the end of the train ride, the girls’ changed quickly from their muggle clothing into their robes, each wondering what colours they would be wearing the next day.



As the two stepped onto the platform and joined the rest of the first years, they felt a thrill of anticipation and excitement. The castle stood, looming over them magnificently; the first years gaped in awe as they were moved closer towards it by the boats, overwhelmed by the magical feeling of it all.



“Well, this is it!” said Lily from next to her.



“Yup!”



With a smile, Lily turned around to look at her friend. “Come on, let’s go!”



Amelie returned the smile, and raced her friend up to the castle, already eagerly anticipating finding as many secret passages as she possibly could before the end of her first week.






Ok so here officially ends little Amelie. Hope you liked her. I do! Hehe, but that may just be because I thought of her. Some background on Lily and the Marauders, too.



Next chapter is a GOOD deal longer. I tried to shorten it down, but it just looks right so I’m going to leave it long. Should keep you all entertained for a while at least… *grins cheesily*



Please don’t forget to review! Any favourite quotes? Ways I can improve? How amazing you all think I am? *winks* x


Chapter 4: Of Hot Gits and Steamy Kisses
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         Seduction is enticing someone into what they want to do already. - Waiter Rant




“Wake up, you lazy, futile lump of crap! You’re going to be late!”


 


A sixteen year old girl rolled over lazily in her bed, waking up to usual dulcet profanities that got her going each morning since she had reached the ripe-old-age of twelve. Her arms and legs stuck out at random intervals from under her shambolic duvet, each feeling too heavy to respond to her brain’s summons.


 


“I’m up!” she mumbled, head still stuffed firmly into its groove in her pillow, wishing the garish light from the sun to go away.


 


Once a few more abusive insults had been hurled her way, she began contemplating the idea of actually opening her eyes – a feat that she finally managed a good five minutes after. Whilst lying down, she stretched out her arms and legs, much like an overgrown cat. Feeling her tiredness seep out of her, she sat up with as much poise as a Neanderthal. 


 


The sun shone fiercely through Amelie’s window, blinding her, illuminating a room that was practically identical to how it looked six years ago, but now with a few more tasteful decorations. The decrease in cuddly toys was evident, as was the increase in clutter. Her dressing table was encumbered with everything ranging from empty ink bottles, broken quills, pieces of parchment and notebooks to nail-polish and make-up remover. Beside her, her bedside table was cluttered with pictures of her and her mates (none of whom had her family’s seal of approval) Alice Caldwell, Kyle Taylor, Dorcas Meadows, Callum Spencer and Lily Evans, which they had taken over the years that they had spent together, surreptitiously wreaking havoc within the walls of Hogwarts.


 


As she sat baking under the baleful influence of the sun, she suddenly felt suffocated. Wondering why she hadn’t moved before this, Amelie tumbled out of her bed, falling on to the floor, patting her hand over her bed to try and find her favourite pair of jeans and muttering mutinously to anything and everything. She really wasn’t a morning person.


 


Her first five years of Hogwarts had passed in a blur: she quickly making friends with fellow Gryffindors. Their sorting had been particularly memorable, what with the whole school thinking that Avery and Black were sure to go into Slytherin. There was uproar as they saw that they had in fact been placed in the ‘enemy house’, as they would call it. Slytherins had screamed insults at them (Narcissa Black’s feud with her cousin was particularly memorable), to which they both only too happily replied with witty comebacks, both feeling elated that they had finally shown their true place in society.


 


Though she focused on her studies, her and her friends were just as mischievous as the next bunch, perhaps more so. Although Alice did need quite a bit of persuasion, they spent a fair amount of time getting to know their way around the castle, and had, over the years developed their own methods of sneaking out undetected. Their knowledge of the castle’s secret passages and corridors were probably second to that of the Marauders. No one, of course, knew of these midnight endeavours: their perfect reputation was at risk.


 


Yet, some part of Amelie still held that reserved, hostile aura. She had found that she could hide behind it easily when feeling vulnerable – it made her feel a great deal stronger. If Amelie was at all formidable as a young girl, it was nothing to how she was now. Even though her close friends saw her true colours, not many outsiders did. She was ‘the mysterious Gryffindor girl’, and with her long, shiny black hair, luscious, full, blood-red lips, dark eyes, sculpted face and skin that looked golden all year round (all of which was inherited from her mother), it was hard not to see why. The length that her legs had managed to achieve over the past year had steadily begun to get more and more comments from the boys, whom she seemed to lure without even trying. Even so, she was not really comfortable with the way that she knew people talked about her.


 


By no means was she a saint: she had quite a good knowledge of the schools broom cupboards and secret passages. In the past, she would entice the lads and trick them, giving them a passionate kiss, letting them caress her smooth skin, or perhaps even (if they were lucky) let them see her topless before ignoring them for weeks. Despite the fact that she had had a couple of long-term boyfriends, (which, in Amelie’s book, meant more than two weeks) she never really felt connected with any of them, and she hated herself for it. She saw other girls with their boyfriends, content, and it made her want to kick herself. Why couldn’t she be like that with someone? Though, in truth, she never really gave them a chance.


 


Not that she was the only girl with guy problems. Lily, who was currently head over heels for a Ravenclaw by the name of Robert Branstone (more commonly known as Rob, captain and keeper of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team), didn’t seem to be getting very far. This wasn’t because of her lack of beauty: she had grown into one of the most gorgeous girls in her year with her long, flowing red hair and piercing green eyes. Everyone had a sneaking suspicion that it might have been due to James Potter – the bane of Lily Evans’ existence, though no one dared mention it for fear of another “Lily Rampage”.


 


The Potter/Evans feud had, if possible, heightened the previous year. Lily, forever the saviour of the underdogs, hated pranking people unawares. She believed of it as cowardly. Luckily for her, James Potter and his ‘cronies’ (otherwise known as the Marauders) absolutely revelled in it, and set about pranking everyone within the vicinity as long as they were Slytherins or annoyed them. If they happened to be a certain greasy-haired Severus Snape, then they would fall into both categories. Unfortunately, these incidents never ended very pleasantly for him, and had, over the years, caused him to become an object of ridicule amongst the majority of the school’s populace.


 


Lily hated Snape too, but just couldn’t seem to be able to understand for the life of her why Potter and Black – his partner in crime – would just hex him for the fun of it and let themselves sink to his level (Snape was known to be deep into the Dark Arts, and had once allegedly caught in a situation where he had cast an illegal hex on a passing third year to ‘see if she would scream or not’). It was stupid, idiotic and showed their immaturity to the maximum.


 


One – for want of a better word – pleasant summer afternoon, after the fifth years had finished their Defence Against the Dark Arts written OWL, Black and James had, once again, unwittingly, decided that they would continue their favourite game of Snivellus-snaring. Luckily for Potter, Lily was in the vicinity, and to put it simply, she was furious.


 


Unknown to James or his morons (apologies to Remus Lupin – the shy, rather gorgeous boy mentioned earlier), Lily had, only the day before, admitted to her friends that she may have some sort of feelings for James, thus making the whole ordeal even more infuriating for her. Amelie, though generally on good terms with James, could certainly empathise with Lily. It was almost as if you were about to eat an orange coloured Every-Flavoured-Bean, that constantly brought up a stream of arguments to persuade you that it was, indeed pumpkin flavoured and not rotten carrots, only for you to take a bite and realise that the damn bean had been lying to you all along. Horrible.


 


Yet, some part of her told herself that Lily would be perfect for James. Her steady head and logical manner would perfectly counterbalance his rashness, and heaven knew how his confidence could do Lily a world of good. Amelie had seen both at their best (and worst). She had even had decent conversations with the boy, where he would talk and debate with strong and valid points over matters which most people would have considered that James Potter would not have given a second thought over.


 


Unfortunately, the rest of that year was spent ignoring the Marauders, to which Amelie felt a twinge of regret. Though she had her own set of problems with Black, she did truly get on quite well with the rest of the group. Nevertheless, as this also meant ignoring Sirius – the self conceited prat, she obliged.  


 


The first few years of their time in Hogwarts was spent with Amelie keeping her head down when it came to Black. After the incident on the train, Black reverted back to his far observation of her, and found himself quickly becoming enthralled. Fourth year found them both sharing quite a heated kiss in a broom cupboard, where she left him (as per usual with her guys) once he’d had his one hand up her shirt and the other up her skirt. After that, he had been gagging for more, quite pathetically. Realising that that line of reasoning wouldn’t work, he changed tactics.


 


He began to brag and throw lewd little ‘comments’ at her – suggesting that there might be a problem with her sexuality that she didn’t want him, for example, eventually led to creating a passionate dislike between the girl and boy; now she was the only one who refused to be put herself in any sort of situation with him. Her violent outbursts were rare and far between, though explosive. Over the years, she had learned to build up her endurance, though something about Sirius Black (what it was, she really didn’t know) managed to set her off. People flinched at the sight of these incidents, wondering how Black could ever come out alive from them.


 


Even though these comments had decreased considerably since last year, the fact of the matter was that Amelie hated that she felt, in a way, indebted to Black. After all, if he hadn’t got her mad that day at the ball, she would probably be pretending to be a stuffed up Slytherin. He had got her out of that, and Amelie had a feeling that he had done it all on purpose. Something about him that night made her think that he knew what he was doing all along. Of course, she had had no idea that his loyalties lay elsewhere from his family either, at the time, and was just as shocked as everyone else when he got sorted into Gryffindor.


 


Away from the prying eyes of most of the Hogwarts students, Amelie and Sirius were both still stuck in the pureblood world, however much disgraced. During the long, tedious gatherings that they were still forced to meet; every once in a while having half-decent conversations, each time him surprising Amelie that the idiot knew more than he let on. Their intellectual and philosophical conversations would act as a break for them both – being something other than the thrills of tormenting mudbloods. She didn’t let it get to her, though, and would quickly revert back into hating Sirius, reminding herself that he was a womaniser who did not in fact know everything, and he shouldn’t act like he did whenever he had the chance to prove it. Everything was so much simpler that way. 


 


Nevertheless, Amelie still labelled him an idiot, hating him and his absolute pig-headedness in thinking that he knew her better than herself – and also, obviously, that he would be able to get her – and every other girl in the world so easily.


 


Grudgingly, Amelie had to admit that he had – to a point – a right to think so. A lot of girls would throw themselves at his feet, dying for one night with the guy. If Amelie had thought he was a looker at the mere age of eleven… well at sixteen, he had turned into any girls’ dream. With his place alongside her as beater on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, his muscles were defined and drool-worthy. This was a fact that no girl in Hogwarts would ever deny: he may be a prick, but he was a hot one. Damn him.


 


He used his charm and elegant looks to no end on the foolish women around him, whether it was to wangle his way out of a detention or to get a discount on his favourite sweet in Honeydukes. At a drop of a hat he could beguile any woman, captivating her fullest attention. He had practically dubbed it as his mission to mesmerise the entire female populace to himself. And though Amelie hated Sirius for all of this, she had to admit (albeit grudgingly) that his game was much like her own – not getting too close with anyone – purely having fun, probably trying to live the childhood he missed out on.


 


From what she had heard, his mother had also decided to give her child the silent treatment from when he had returned home as a Gryffindor in first year. This, hence, caused more drama as the two would always awkwardly find themselves in each other’s presence whenever it came round to another pureblood gathering. Amelie would try not to loose her temper again (for fear of being disowned) at a Sirius who would again smirk at her, watching her as if she was an interesting television programme. Not that he knew what a television was – the uncultured swine.


 


Alice Caldwell and Dorcas Meadows were both sweet girls, harbouring much less aggressive attitudes than their other two friends. Alice was too much in her own dream-world, thinking of a certain Benjy Fenwick in the year above her, whom she had harboured a secret crush for since the previous year. She was a prim, shy girl with a round face, bright blue eyes and a permanent smile. All the parents loved Alice; she was very well-mannered and modest, never being too bold or harsh. Anyone who saw her was blown away by her pure heart and how caring she was. 


 


Dorcas, on the other hand, was far too hyper from sugar overload to be violent. She liked Remus Lupin, and showed it - to her friends, at least. Lupin was the sensible Marauder, and was quite conscious of morals that needed to be upheld, even whilst pranking. Remus gave her chocolate. Chocolate made her happy. Therefore Remus made her happy. Life was simple in Dorcas’s world.


 


Her final two friends, Kyle Taylor and Callum Spencer were, in her opinion, the most dependable, prudent, and caring boys she had ever had the fortune to meet. Their fun-loving attitudes were infectious, though they both knew well when to give the girls space. Each of them tried to protect the girls in their own way, though slowly realised that there wasn’t much point in trying. With Amelie and Lily in the group, it was the rest of the school that needed saving. Envied by half the school for being accepted by the prettiest girls in Hogwarts, it was needless to say that the two boys had grown a bit of an ego – even if they didn’t harbour any feelings towards their female friends.


 


Kicking off her duvet with her legs, Amelie rolled off her bed, dragging herself to her dressing table, pulling down her face with her hands as she looked at her eyes in the mirror. Dragging herself towards the bathroom, she washed her face with freezing cold water. She looked up at the mirror feeling much more refreshed, and began to apply some light make-up for the day.


 


Ten minutes later, she and her hefty trunk were downstairs. Her mother was up, busy about her own business. Neither said a word to the other. Amelie grabbed a slice of toast for herself and headed to the hall where she was going to floo to Lily’s house (her parents had refused to take her to Hogwarts ever since she had returned from her first year). The Floo Network had allowed Lily’s house to be connected as she was a witch, and by the request of Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster at Hogwarts. She stepped into the fireplace with her belongings, barely fitting in, even though it was quite large and disappeared in a flash of green flames.


 


“Amy!”


               


Without even being given the chance to breathe, she had been pulled into a bone-breaking hug by her best friend.


 


“H-h-hi Lily,” she managed to wheeze. “D-do you mind l-letting go?”


 


Realising herself, Lily pulled away, smiling. “Gosh, I missed you! They didn’t treat you bad, did they?”


 


“Nah, it was fine. They pretty much ignored me, though I prefer it like that to be honest…” shrugged Amy. It was true. She stayed up in her room when her relatives came over and threatened to hex any of her pesky cousins who had once been such a bother to her. The rest of her family pretended that she didn’t exist, except her ‘father’, who wouldn’t enjoy his evening meal without having shouted at the girl at least once. Amelie, however, who had found this so routine now, and who wanted to build a fresh life apart from them, she found she didn’t particularly care.


 


“Hmm… I guess that’s good,” Lily said, not sounding altogether convinced. “Come on, else my Dad’ll be in a mood: you know how he gets when we’re late.”


 


Knowing full well, Amy nodded, walking behind her friend, who was helping her lug her personal belongings.


 


“Flip! Amy… What the hell do you put in these things? Bricks?”


               


Amelie grinned at her friend, a twinkle in her eye. “No, Lily, but like you say, I’m too darn materialistic for my own good.”


 


Lily sighed. Amelie was a clothes freak, and absolutely revelled in her shopping sprees. This made her perfect for any clothes crisis that any of the girls’ had, but as Lily pointedly reminded her every year, they would rather go with the clothes crisis than with a friend with a broken back. The argument, however, old as it was, was ignored by both of them as they walked towards the car where Mr. Evans was waiting for them.


 


“Morning, Mr. Evans.”


 


“Hi there, Amy! How you been?”


 


“Fine thank you,”


 


“Great… now hop in, both of you. Don’t want to be late for your first day, do you? And you, Lily, a prefect…” Her father visibly swelled with pride.


 


Being muggles, Lily’s parents were understandably proud of their daughters’ achievements over the years at Hogwarts. She was extremely clever, and had managed to get twelve OWLs that summer, with nine Outstandings, two Exceeds Expectations in Defence Against the Dark Arts and Astronomy, and only one Acceptable in Divination, not to mention being made prefect in her fifth year with Remus Lupin, the sensible Marauder (if there ever was one).


 


Amelie had more of a natural talent for subjects, much like James Potter and Sirius Black. Where Lily would spend time actually studying subjects, Amelie would find that she would more or less learn things as soon as she was taught them. She found that as long as she paid attention to a certain degree in class and re-read her notes fully once before the exam, she could pass with distinction. She had also managed to obtain twelve OWLs. She had taken the subjects as Lily apart from Divination (she had taken Arithmancy instead), and had obtained another O in Defence Against the Dark Arts and an E in Arithmancy. She, however, was not made a prefect…her disregard for the rules were slightly more blatant than little Miss Evans. Not that she minded: she much preferred her freedom in school without the responsibilities of a prefect.


 


Alice, Dorcas, Kyle and Callum each had decent grades. They were not as clever as the other two, but got on well. The boys seemed to have quite a natural talent, passing well without studying. Alice and Dorcas got on well, studying with Lily and yet having their fun as well. Alice seemed to actually enjoy working (something which confused Amelie to an extent) and Dorcas… Frankly, Amelie was surprised that Dorcas could even sit down for long enough to actually learn anything. Lily, however, had managed to nail down exactly when Dorcas needed her ‘breaks’ so that she could retain her concentration.


 


Before they knew it, their trip to the station ended, and Lily’s father was getting the girls’ their trolleys and helping them get their luggage towards the barrier that separated platform nine and three quarters from the rest of King’s Cross.


 


“Bye, bye, darling. Be good and take care of yourself. Oh and Lils – don’t forget to send an owl over if you’ve forgotten anything.”


 


“I will, Dad, thanks.” Lily gave her father a kiss on the cheek and the two girls waved as they walked through the metal barrier casually, coming face to face with a scarlet steam engine – the Hogwarts Express.


 


“Amy! Lily!”


 


Suddenly everywhere went dark as the two girls were suffocated under the weight of four bodies and odd bits of luggage.


 


“You’re here! You’re here! You’re here!” Dorcas screamed as she was pushed aside by her two friends who came up, panting for air.


 


“Come off, Dori. Let them breathe,” said a deep voice that Amelie immediately registered as Callum’s.


 


“Did you expect us not to come?” asked Lily, brushing down her clothes and breathing heavily.


 


Dorcas smiled sheepishly.


 


“Come on, Lily. You know Dorcas. How’ve you two been?” asked Kyle, grinning at his friend’s foolishness, chocolate eyes sparkling from beneath his mop of brown hair.


 


“Fine, fine…” muttered Lily vaguely, thinking about getting onto the train.


 


“Come on, let’s get on the bloody train before it leaves without our dearest prefect!” Amelie smirked at Lily, who poked her tongue out in return.


 


They all snickered as they boarded the train. Lily went towards the prefect compartment and the other five began to scour the length of the train for an empty compartment (after Dorcas had shouted after Lily, telling her to say hi to ‘her Remy’ from her).


 


“Hey, you two… em… I promised Benjy to meet him in his compartment. You don’t mind, do you?”


 


Alice turned an impossible shade of red, while averting everyone’s eyes.


 


“You’re what?!” screamed Amelie and Dorcas together.  


 


The boys remained stony faced.


 


 Alice, who didn’t notice the latter’s reaction, grinned sheepishly. “We got together at the end of last year and we’ve been owling each other all summer. It isn’t the same as talking face to face though…”


 


Had she not been so happy at the prospect of meeting Benjy, she would have been shivering from the steely glare that her four friends were giving her.


 


“And why, may I ask, did you refrain from passing on such important news for so long?”


 


“Well, you know… I didn’t want to jinx it. It’s been so long that I liked him and you guys know that I don’t like attention much so…”


 


“Guys!” moaned Dorcas, now frustrated due to the lack of movement of her two friends and annoyingly tugging on Amelie’s top. “Come on! We need to find a compartment.”


 


Reluctantly, Amelie let the conversation pass. Dorcas had an attention span far too short for such matters and she needed Lily on her side for a better effect. Deciding that the wait would be worth it, she followed the rest onto the train, looking for an empty compartment.


 


As she passed through, she managed to catch quite a few gazes and felt pleased with herself. It seemed that her reputation hadn’t worn away over the summer. As part of her daily chores, she ignored a few, glanced appreciatively at others and bit her lip at a select few whom she had previously known. 


 


“I wish you’d stop doing all that,” muttered Alice. “It makes me feel so self-conscious when I’m with you…”


 


“Aw, Alice, you know that I can’t go by without my daily dosage. Besides, you should be used to it by now.”


 


“Amy…” said Kyle, warningly. However much they got on in general, after countless arguments on this one topic in particular, they had decided talking about Amelie’s endeavours with the male population of Hogwarts was a topic they had agreed on not discussing in their presence.


 


Alice mumbled something incoherent, her permanent effervescent demeanour not as vibrant as usual, as she set off to find Benjy. Amelie, catching parts of it was quite surprised at Alice’s use of such – vulgar – language, decided to feign deafness and continue with her mission. To be honest, she hadn’t thought Alice capable of such colourful adjectives, and mentally applauded her. She even added some to her own ever-expanding vocabulary, hoping to use them on a certain Sirius Black at the next opportunity. Hearing Dorcas giggle, Amelie noted that she had heard it too. Knowing the kind of uses she could come up with for that kind of information, she smirked. ‘At least that’s one entertaining day we’ll have this year,’ she thought.


 


When the remaining girls and boys managed to find a compartment, it was situated near the back of the train. They sat down.


 


Anyone who didn’t know them very well would think that they were a highly unconventional group – though that was not strictly untrue. Amelie held quite a dark, mysterious aura, whilst Lily was fiery and passionate (about everything and anything). Alice was pleasant and good-natured, and Dorcas seemed to have a secret vat of energy that she would go get refills from. Most people were under the impression that she went high on sweets, as she ate quite a lot of them, but it had been proven that she would be quite the same on oxygen.


 


Kyle was a hormone ridden, cocky prat at times, but it was counterbalanced by his sudden moments of insightfulness that had helped them all in several sticky situations. He was a brilliant listener when he wanted to be. Callum, in the first five minutes of meeting someone, would come across as the shy type, but, in an almost Cinderella-like fashion, as soon as a second over five minute passes, he would explode into the typical teenage guy, slick comments and all. He had an obsession with all things physical: sports, sex – you name it, he loved it. Though that may seem typical behaviour, his love of sports rivalled James Potter’s love for Quidditch. Since the age of fourteen, he had, without fail, ran at least an hour a day, along with practising an assortment of other exercises. Now, at the age of sixteen, he would go to pieces without it. It was his life.


 


And yet, none of them could imagine themselves without the other. They did not feel the need to chatter constantly or meet up every two seconds to know that their friendship was stable. They shared a no-strings-attached relationship with the each other, knowing that it would always be there, no matter what they did. For hours, they could sit together in a comfortable silence, though, this was practically impossible when Dorcas was around.


 


“Soooo, Amy!” asked Dorcas, swinging her legs and twirling her curly dark brown her around her index finger, before sucking on one out of many sweets that she had undoubtedly packed from home. “What do you think Remy is saying to Lily about now?”


 


Amelie couldn’t help but grin at her hopelessly lost friend over the book she was reading. (Not many people knew that Amelie read, nor of her unhealthy obsession with Edgar Allen Poe, the sinister muggle writer.) She was practically bursting at the mere thought of the marauder. She had to admit that Remus Lupin was in fact very good-looking, though a polar-opposite to Sirius Black. Where Sirius was loud, boisterous and overly-assertive, Remus would just bury himself in his book, looking highly intelligent and – admittedly – extremely hot. For her friends’ sanity, Amelie had conveniently forgotten to tell Dorcas that she had, in fact, had a – for want of a better word - moment with one Remus Lupin. To her, it wasn’t exactly a big deal: she had had a moment with practically all the boys in the school that were her age or above. Nevertheless, she didn’t think her friend would be too happy, even if the incident was so long ago, and an unhappy Dorcas would surely be one of the signs of the apocalypse. Amelie, not entirely a devout catholic, was far from ready for such an event.


 


Remus’ first few years at Hogwarts found him quite shy and reserved. A few years with the Marauders though, had changed that. He had learnt to socialise much more. Amelie had time and time again found herself in intelligent debates with Remus, not unlike the ones she had with James. Of course, she flirted with the pair of them from time to time a bit – it came without questioning, but she found that however cute the pair of them were, they were simply not for her: Remus was far too prone to sudden bought of introverted behaviour, and James too smitten with Lily, and Amelie would never get in the way of that one. She liked her men to be bold, slightly controlling. That way, she could fight for control with him; it would be no fun if he just gave it all to her.


 


“Dori, you know what? I think he might just be trying to convince Lily that she has to increase your daily chocolate allowance.”


 


Lily was very strict with her chocolate rations – something that Dorcas despised. The latter would go into tantrums, screaming and shouting at Lily for hours, who would then console herself by believing that Dorcas would thank her at the golden age of thirty when she wasn’t the size of an over-grown whale.


 


Callum and Kyle both snorted. Both boys got on well with Remus, and, in fact, all of the Marauders. They just stuck with the girls, simply because they seemed to fit better that way.


 


Dorcas grinned her famous grin, the thought of all the chocolate and Remus bringing them hovering above her, almost as if she was afraid that it would run away if she wanted to grab it. Amelie laughed.


 


After a few hours of playful banter (and the passing of the food trolley where Dorcas almost emptied the entire thing), Lily returned, looking quite flustered. Her cheeks were red and she looked distinctly ruffled. Amelie and Dorcas looked up at her questioningly.


 


“Potter,” she mumbled, leaving the rest to nod in understanding. Nothing more needed to be said. Feeling that leaving Lily to brood in her mutinous thoughts would surely bring more misery that happiness, they encouraged her to start on the sweets with them. Soon, all thoughts of the Marauders disappeared as the conversation turned to each of their summers.


 


That was until they decided to arrive in person instead.


 


“Why hello, ladies,”


 


Black. Who else?


 


Kyle coughed pointedly.


 


“Kyle! Callum! How you two been?” asked Sirius, acting as if he had just seen them.


 


“Fine, mate – thanks for ignoring us.”


 


Sirius ignored the comment and continued with his conquest.


 


Amelie looked around, looking Sirius up and down once before giving him a look of disgust and turning back to converse with Lily. His smirk did not go unnoticed.


 


“Checking me out, are we?”


 


Callum dropped his head, smacking it in painful resignation of where the situation was going. Kyle looked up, eyes boring into Sirius’.


 


Remus, James and Peter Pettigrew were standing behind him, looking wary. Though this was usual for Peter, it certainly wasn’t for Remus or James. Remus would have by now started a decent conversation, and James would by now be sitting next to Lily, annoying her.


 


Peter Pettigrew was an odd boy. Though he wasn’t ugly by any means, he didn’t have the looks or the brains of the other three Marauders. Instead, he had oddly sharp senses and the capability to be very sneaky when he wanted to be. It seemed odd that the others would hang around with Peter, but they did, and no one really questioned it.


 


Amelie felt her blood boil as she muttered, “In your dreams,”


 


She distinctly heard a “you bet”, but at Lily’s command decided to ignore it as best she could. She sufficed by turning the page of her book with such brutality that it ripped. She muttered “Reparo”.


 


Some things in life just have an affect on you, for no apparent reason. As much as you try to find a logical reasoning behind it, you wouldn’t be able to. It’s the little things – things that normally people wouldn’t think twice about. And, ironically, it’s usually those little things that cause the major problems or events in our life. Amelie had no idea why Sirius’ snicker acted as a stimulus – why it triggered such a huge explosion of irritation and antagonism within her.


 


It just did.


 


Before she knew it, she had jumped up, pulled out her wand and poked it straight into Black’s heart, her hand surprisingly steady despite her anger. Her eyes glittered venomously, not even thinking about the lack of gap between the two of them. She could clearly see the look of shock in Black’s misty eyes, only to be aggravatingly replaced by an arrogant glint as he realised the proximity between their bodies. Not missing a beat, he swept in, turned around and closed the distance, kissing her fervently on the lips, pinning her up against the wall of the compartment, his tongue exploring her familiar mouth.


 


Amelie didn’t even realise what she was doing. It was an immediate reaction to respond to any guy who kissed her: who was she to refuse those who were willing? But before her mind could process what was happening, she had wrapped her arms around his neck, one hand sinking into his immaculate hair, the other to bring him even closer. Her body seemed to melt at an alarming rate, and her heart screamed protest as his lips left her mouth, beginning to tease her neck and collar bone, his hips pushing into hers, pressing her against the wall. She let a soft moan escape her lips, and then caught herself.


 


This was Black! This was wrong!


 


Quickly moving, she turned, pinning him to the wall, ignoring the shocked looks of the witnesses, her wand drawn again. He had gone too far with her. He  should have known better.


 


“Reducto!”


 


Sirius was blasted through the wall of the compartment, falling straight into the lap of a Hufflepuff fifth year, who looked ready to feint at both shock and the proximity she had with the Hogwarts heart-throb. Sirius, too, looked dazed, but for an entirely different reason.


 


“Fuck,” he whispered, and passed out on the spot.


 









[A/N] Hehe, three chapters of little snippets and you suddenly get all that! I am so nice! I think this chapter was probably one of my favourites. Sirius got a little more than he expected, didn’t he? But you know our lovely Amelie can’t help but kiss someone so gorgeous when they just throw themselves at her. She’s no fool!




I feel a bit sorry for Sirius though… he should really learn to control his hormones. (well, they both should, really). You would think that getting a broken nose from an eleven year old Amelie would prevent him from doing something stupid when she’s sixteen? Ah well, boys…

Just wanted to add that the title for this chapter was changed from 'Of Hot Pricks and Steamy Kisses' - it doesn't change much, but I'd gotten rather fond of the title I had so ingeniously thought of and decided to give it a little credit.



Review please!!!  0:-)


Chapter 5: Excuse My French
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[A/N] First of all, huge thanks to everyone who's been reviewing. I really do appreciate it. Secondly, sorry for the slightly longer than usual wait, which has happened due to increasing pressure in school and because I'm writing the 8th chapter at the moment and so I don't want the story to get updated too quickly, else you lot will have to wait even longer. Now, enough of me rambling. Here's your next lot:


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Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain. - Lily Tomlin




Rooted to the spot, her brain still trying to process what she had done, Amelie stood, staring. In front of her lay Sirius, sprawled on the floor, legs and arms twisted at a freakish angle, head in the lap of a Hufflepuff fifth year whose chest rose and fell rapidly as she took in deep breaths. The heat of the piercing gazes from her friends seemed to be boring into her back, and Amelie found she couldn’t bring herself to face them. Damn that stupid Black and the way he worked her nerves into overdrive. She hated him. Why couldn’t he get it into his thick head to stay away from her?
 
“Amy…”


 
“Leave me alone, Lily.”


 
Her tone was surprisingly brisk and firm as she swept past the lot of them, purposely avoiding Kyle and Callum’s furious gazes. It was a mark of how serious the situation was that her actions had even rendered Dorcas gob smacked. Inside her, her mind was screaming coward, but she couldn’t cope with it here. Too much was going on, and if she didn’t watch herself, she’d break down.


 
Feeling tears collecting in her eyes as she rushed past several compartments to the toilets, uncharacteristically ignoring several catcalls and whistles sent her way from nearby boys. Holding on to the white sink basin in front of her, she breathed deeply, choking on the tears that were threatening to spill. How could he do this to her? Why did he always have to make her do things that she regretted?


 
Amelie knew (and she was sure that her friends did too, even though they didn’t let much on for fear of what she would do to them) that her demeanour around boys was not just for amusement. True, she enjoyed the feeling of power she would get as she worked on each one, slowly reeling them in before leaving them alone and gagging for more, but there was more. Subconsciously, she always knew it assisted her in evading everything – ‘rubbing’ away all the disgusting memories of her past, of her mother and her stupid cousins. It helped her forget that she once had a father who she thought loved her, instead of one who would willingly beat her to death without a second thought. It helped her forget about a certain Sirius Black, who would always creep up into her thoughts without permission.


 
And now the damned idiot had brought himself into the world where she would go into to forget him. Could the situation get any more ironic?


 
Amelie beat her fist on the wall, her body now wracking with sobs, hating herself for it. She hated crying: the sense of weakness and vulnerability it gave her was worse than anything she could possibly imagine. Her body writhed with disgust as she felt the two very things she had tried so many years to keep away from. Looking up into the mirror, the scene was all too familiar for her. Once again, Sirius Black had reduced her from what she was trying to be – an unapproachable ice fortress – into a blithering idiot, crying her eyes out on the Hogwarts Express. Suddenly doused with anger, she punched the wall in frustration again, regretting it immediately as she began to feel the dull throb where her knuckles had collided with the hard compartment wall.


 
A sudden image burst into head, replaying Sirius’s body tumbling back through the solid wall of the compartment, dousing her with guilt.


 
Why in the name of Merlin did she let him get to her? Why were his kisses so intoxicating? Why couldn’t it have felt wrong when she was in his arms, damn it?


 
On second thoughts… she didn’t want to know the answer. It would make everything so much more confusing.


 
Through the small window in the compartment, a sharp ray of light pierced into Amelie’s eyes. Looking up, the setting sun alerted Amelie to the lack of time before the train would pull to a stop, and so the girl decided to clean up her appearance. It wouldn’t do to have the population of Hogwarts see her like this for the first time since last term. After all, she had a reputation to maintain. Mentally thanking the stars for her magically waterproof make-up, she muttered a spell to get rid of her puffy eyes and ruffled appearance. Fixing up her hair a touch or two, she took a deep breath, bracing herself before heading back to her compartment, where she was met with an uneasy silence.


 
She ignored it as she marched into the compartment, eyes sweeping from one side to the other, noticing that the wall had been repaired once again and Sirius was lying down, taking up an entire side of it. On the other, five boys and three girls had somehow managed to squeeze themselves down, though each with pained expressions on their faces. Amelie raised her eyes questionably for a second as her eyes met Lily’s, who was sitting next to James, not looking the least bit uncomfortable, but quickly ducked her head down as she saw the angry glare directed at her. Avoiding their gazes, she looked through her belongings for her school robes, which were, annoyingly, located right next to the bane of her existence.


 
“I’m alive, thanks for asking,” croaked an unwelcome voice, inches away from her. She could practically feel his breath on her, and she had to fight to keep down a shudder. Keeping her head down, she tried her best to abstain from causing further damage.


 
Breathing out slowly, she straightened up as she found her bag.


 
“I’m going to change,” she muttered, heading out of the compartment once again without waiting for an answer.


 
Five minutes later, she returned, fully dressed in her black robes, with crimson and red adornments symbolising her house, uneasy silence still lingering.


 
“Can you lot please say something?” Amelie said impatiently, tapping her feet on the floor, having finally cracked.


 
Kyle looked torn, half wanting to glare at Sirius for throwing himself on Amelie, and half wanting to shout at Amelie for damaging the guy like that. Why did they both have to be so - extreme about everything?


 
Callum, on the other hand, looked beside himself with anger. His face had gone red and his hands were shaking uncontrollably, visibly was using every inch of willpower in his entire body not to jump up and cause more of a scene than there already was.


 
Even Dorcas was immobile and silent, apart from the incessant tapping of her foot – an annoying habit that she had come to play whenever she was particularly on edge.


 
“What are we meant to say after that?” cried James incredibly. “You literally battered the guy!”


 
“As much as I hate to, Amy,” whispered Lily, her head down, “I have to agree with Ja-Potter on this one.”


 
Though James’ face showed a slight smile, it was a mark of the seriousness of the situation that he didn’t jump for joy: Evans had almost said his name!


 
Amelie stood, staring at the rest of them. “Well, excuse me for wanting to defend myself. He literally launched himself at me!”


 
“It’s not exactly like you pulled back though, was it?” asked Remus, also quietly. What was wrong with everyone? It was as though someone had died, they were talking so slowly. 


 
“Oh, come on!” screamed Amelie, frustrated. “You guys know me! Who am I to deny a guy a kiss? And, as much as I hate Sirius and his big-headedness, he is buff.”


 
“I knew you’d come around.”


 
“Shut up!” snapped Amelie, turning herself to face him, “You know, Black,” she spat venomously, “only you would be thick enough to try it again just after you’d been pummelled by me. You never give up, do you? Always getting on my nerves! I really don’t understand! Do you enjoy making my life worse than it already is? Do you enjoy seeing me frustrated? Do you want to dig your own bloody grave? ‘Cos let me tell you, mister, if you do then you’re doing a darn good job!


 
“Seriously, I mean, just because I left you hanging four years ago, it does not give you right to follow me around and throw comments at me like I’m dying for a good shag – and from you at the least! You know how I can get practically any guy in this train, and yet you have the bloody audacity to call me things that I doubt you would even dare call your mother!”


 
The comment, though highly controversial, would have been seen as an extremely odd one if it were said to anyone else, but frankly, Sirius’ mother was just as pleasant as Amelie’s – maybe even nicer. Amelie’s comment caused several of the spectator’s to bait their breath, knowing Sirius’ general lack of tolerance when it came to matters of his family.


 
However, the boy merely laid, his eyes wide at the strength of the words that were streaming out of Amelie’s mouth, looking warily at the vicious girl’s index finger that was currently poking the air belligerently in his direction. Neither he, nor anyone else, for that matter, could believe the words that spewed out of her mouth, her face livid, her dark eyes boring into his grey ones, almost radiating heat.


 
As Amelie opened her mouth to carry on her sermon, she felt a light tug on her arm, bringing it to an abrupt halt. Feeling miffed off to say the least, she turned around to see Lily, looking just as hot-headed and obstinate as herself, immediately pulling her into a frog marched out into the corridor.


 
“What were you thinking, Amy?” she demanded, her face a mixture of anger, pity and amusement.


 
“What do you mean?” Amelie asked, looking at her nails nonchalantly in the foolish hope that the girl would just storm in anger.


 
“Hitting Black like that! You know you either me or Remus’ll have to report you, and trust me you won’t get off it easy. And that’ll be nothing compared to when the boys finish with you.”


 
Amelie reluctantly dragged her gaze away from her less than perfect hands, looking down for a moment as she thought miserably about Callum and Kyle who were sure to slaughter her for her behaviour. They told her something like this would happen, and she didn’t listen.


 
“I know, I know – but you know me and him Lily! How could he do that! I don’t do Black.”


 
“You seemed to be doing him just fine before you hexed him.”


 
Amelie’s eyes reduced to slits. Surely she wasn’t having this conversation. “I warned him, didn’t I? I had my wand on him… he had plenty of time to get away. He just had to come and kiss me, didn’t he? And yes before you say anything I did kiss him back, but who wouldn’t? And I’m not just anyone; I’m me, for fucks sake! Then when I realised who it was, I pushed him away and hexed him.”


 
Lily looked murderous. “You almost broke every bone in his body! Aren’t you sorry?”


 
Amelie looked defiantly back, fighting with herself not to look down. She knew what she was doing, and she knew Lily did too. She was shielding herself; once again building her barrier, averting blame. It was just so much easier to blame Sirius’ pig-headedness than her problems.


 
“Look Amy, I know you and Black have long-term problems, but I really think you should go and apologise.”


 
Amelie shuffled her feet, feeling more vulnerable than she had ever felt in her life. How she got herself there, she had no idea. Resigned, she headed back into the compartment, her head still bowed. Still ignoring the other four, she went up to Sirius, who looked up at her, slightly wary.


 
“Mswy,”


 
‘Damn Lily and her evil methods of torture. She would’ve fit right in back in the Middle Ages… would’ve been a right fan-bloody-tastic jailer in the gaols.’


 
“Er..” said Sirius, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable. “Sorry, Avery, I didn’t quite… catch…that?” He looked up at her uncertainly; almost sure that the vein throbbing in her neck signified that she was dangerously close to blowing a fuse.


 
“Look, I’m sorry, okay?” She snapped, her feet tapping once more, really hating the situation she had got herself in. Sirius’s shocked expression, however, somehow managed to calm her down a notch or two. Funny, how he could do that, however sporadically. Slightly calmer, she repeated herself.


 
“I’m sorry.”


 
“What?!” Sirius almost jumped up, only to wince and lie himself slowly back down.


 
Taking a deep breath, Amelie looked up into his eyes, trying to keep herself from getting lost in them. Shaking her head, she elaborated, “I realise that I was a bit harsh on you… I honestly didn’t want to hurt you that badly.”



Sirius nodded, his smirk returning. “I knew you couldn’t resist.”


 
Amelie’s eyes narrowed, her fingernails digging into her palms to keep them from scratching into Black’s heavenly-sculpted features. “You know, Black, this is exactly the type of things that gets you and me both into such deep shit!”


 
Sensing danger, everyone else shared a look behind Amelie’s back, who felt a firm grip on her shoulder. Turning round, she saw Callum.


 
“Come on, Amy, there’s no point fighting with him anymore.”


 
Frustrated, Amelie kicked the opposite bench and sat down in a huff, muttering mutinously in fluent French. Dorcas sat down and sucked on her sugar quill, eyes wide, in very close proximity to Remus. She, like everyone else, knew that Amelie would only resort to French when she was absolutely furious, and had taken it upon herself to indulge in her two main comforts in life instead of facing an apoplectic Amelie.


 
“Imbécile! Morceau de merde! Fils d’une putain!”


 
Sirius, being the only one who actually understood completely, let out his trademark bark-like laugh at the last comment. “You know, you’re bang on with that last one!” 


 
 Amelie threw him a look of utmost loathing, hating him for his lack of fitting apprehension at her temper. “Pourquoi dois-tu être le seulment autre personne qui peut parler en français couramment ?” Though she was comfortable in swearing in French, it irked her to know that Sirius was the only one who could understand everything, having been the only other boy in the carriage with a pureblood upbringing anything close to hers.


 
“Maybe ‘cos my bitch of a mother taught me, like yours did you!”


 
“My mother didn’t teach me French.”


 
Sirius raised an eyebrow “No?”


 
“No,” she answered shortly, not wanting to continue this conversation much longer than it needed to be.


 
The conversation then fell flat, and the others, observing that world war three was not in fact in the making, breathed a sigh of relief and began to converse, just as the train came to a slow halt.


 
“Oh flip, Remus! We have to go help the first years!” Lily jumped to her feet, grabbed Remus by the wrist and dragged him out by the hand.


 
“Bit forceful, ain’t she?” asked Peter.


 
Dorcas sniggered. “Oh, you lot don’t know the half of it.”


 
The comment raised several eyebrows.


 
“Kinky,” muttered Sirius, earning several sniggers. James looked furious at his best friends’ impudence to make such claims.


 
Sensing danger, Amelie decided to change the subject. “Well, moving on from Lily’s vigour,”


 
“- Vigour’s the word all right,” muttered Callum to Kyle, thankfully quiet enough for the rest not to notice.


 
“I think we should start finding a carriage. James, if you could help me carry your friend here, perhaps Dorcas, Callum, Kyle and Peter could help with the luggage.”


 
Amelie had slipped quickly into her role as unofficial leader. Generally, this would have been taken up by James, though he was momentarily rendered speechless as he was torn between thought of Lily’s forcefulness, trying miserably not to think anything kinky, and forcing himself to refrain from beating Sirius into any worse condition than he was already in. Snapping out of his reverie, he nodded, getting to the other side of Sirius and lifting him.


 
Dorcas tried picking up their entire luggage at once in her eagerness to help, and topped backwards. The other six went into hysterics. Amelie found she was trying to drag Sirius out of the compartment, who not was not only rendered incapable of movement due to laughter, but also quite heavy.


 
“You should really eat less, Black.”


 
“Yeah mate,” said James, wiping the sweat off his brow as he heaved half of Sirius’ body onto his back. “You weigh a tonne.”


 
“But the ladies like all this muscle,” moaned Sirius, reluctant to leave off his food. “Don’t they?”


 
Amelie, who could feel his toned torso rubbing against her back, and was desperately trying to think of anything at all that would lead her mind off that very fact, felt as if the world was against her. Her breath hitched against her throat. Looking up, she saw that both boys seemed oblivious.


 
‘Thank Merlin,’


 
“Yes, but not when it turns into mounds of fat, as it will do soon enough.” She smirked as she mentally congratulated her witty comeback. On more than a few occasions had the things saved her skin.


 
“Oh har har har. The day I get fat is the day you change your name to Agatha!”


 
James looked at his friend questioningly. “Why Agatha?”


 
Sirius looked confused. “You need to ask? Agatha is a vile name.”


 
“Much as I hate to agree with Sirius, I’ve got to say he’s got a point; ‘Agatha’ is absolutely horrid. Anyway, I’m rather attached to my name, and I’d prefer if you left it alone, thanks.”


 
Half-turning her head to look at the remaining company, she shouted back, “You lot best be careful of my bags. If a single thing in there breaks there will be hell to pay.”


 
Peter looked scared at Amelie’s threat, but the rest just nodded, accustomed as they were to her materialistic ways. Sirius gave a side-glance at Amelie, noting the humourless glint in her fathomless charcoal black eyes.  


 
After that, the passage to the castle was quite uneventful, with nothing more exciting occurring save Sirius wincing whenever the carriage jolted as it passed over a few rocky patches along the path. Amelie fought hard to subdue the sense of guilt that was threatening to overwhelm her. Of course, she knew full well that he went through just as much as she did at home – that he anticipated the start of term just as much as she did; maybe more, even. Now on his first day of freedom, she had gone and done this. What she had just done had gone against every single one of her morals – well, the ones that she had, at least.


 
Shaking her head, she shunned her thoughts to the back of her mind. Now wasn’t the time to think about it. Readjusting Sirius’ weight on her back, she ploughed on.


 
Once they had reached Hogwarts and bestowed Sirius upon the hospital wing and a notorious, muttering Madam Ferriby (“Not even an hour of term gone! Seems to think of this place as his second home, that one!”), Amelie had inevitably come face to face with the wrath of Professor McGonagall, head of Transfiguration and Gryffindor House. Her lips thinned, fists clenched and eyes shooting knives, she had demanded an explanation. Resignedly, Amelie explained the whole situation, and duly accepted the month’s worth of detention sent her way.


 
“You should be grateful I didn’t give you more! That was truly abysmal behaviour on your part and I hope to never hear of such things from you again!”


 
She and James stood around the hospital wing for a few moments in an awkward silence, waiting for Sirius. Amelie wasn’t sure why she was waiting; perhaps it was because she didn’t want to enter the great hall all on her own, or maybe because she liked the comfortable silence with James. It didn’t matter much, though, as it didn’t take long before the Black in question strutted his way over, looking as cocky as ever.


 
‘Typical.’


 
“Good to see you back, Paddy.”


 
Amelie scoffed.


 
“Didn’t know you had Irish in you, Sirius,”


 
Sirius pointedly ignored this comment, but instead looked questioningly at Amelie. “You’re here?”


 
“No. I’m a figment of your imagination,” she replied, delivery incredibly dry. Honestly, could these boys get any more intelligent?


 
James choked and Sirius’ look as he was snubbed yet again by the girl he had grown a good deal of respect for over the years. Amelie gave him a small smile to illustrate her appreciation.


 
‘At least someone knows where their loyalties lie,’


 
Upon reaching the Great Hall, the sorting was already over half-way through. Deciding to wait until it was over before they made their grand entrance, all three bent over to look through the crack in the door at the little children being sorted, Amelie feeling uncomfortable in close proximity to the two incredibly toned male bodies. Not that she was not used to this sensation, but normally when she was in such a predicament, she would actually be doing something about it, and not trying to reign in her ever-rampaging hormones.


 
“Tiny, aren’t they?” asked James.


 
Sirius snickered, breath tickling Amelie’s neck. “Little midgets.”


 
“You two weren’t much taller at that age, either.”


 
Once again, Amelie’s comment was ignored as both boys continued to bask in the glory of being taller than a bunch of eleven year-olds.


 
Slowly, they saw the first-years standing at the front dwindling down in number as each respectively moved towards their houses. As the three watched, they duly hissed, cheered and clapped politely for each child as was fitting.


 
“Perks, Agatha!”


 
Amelie bit her lip trying hard to suppress the surge of laughter that was threatening to spill out of her, bearing in mind she would not have appreciated someone belittling her name. Unfortunately, as stated previously, she was firmly entrenched between a Sirius Black and a James Potter, both of whom bore disreputable souls, and were both currently shaking in silent laughter. One look in between them was enough to set all three of them into fits of uncontrollable mirth.


 
They ran.


 
“That’s just – oh bloody hell!” Amelie practically spluttered between laughs, clinging on to the walls to keep her from falling, hoping no one in the Great Hall could hear them. 


 
The boys couldn’t breathe. Though the incident hadn’t been a particularly side-splitting one, the tension between the Amelie and the two boys had been incredibly tense up until that point. The whole ‘Agatha’ ordeal had just melted the ice like a hot spring after a freezing winter. Once the laughter subsided, they all went into a comfortable silence, chortling every few seconds.


 
“I guess we should go in now,” snickered Sirius


 
Nodding, they all headed towards the large oak doors of the great hall once again and were greeted by the smell of mouth-watering Hogwarts food that was wafting their way.


 
As the doors opened, everyone turned to face them; both boys and girls either trying to grab attention respectively, staring with ill-disguised jealousy. A select few looked away in haughty superiority – mainly Slytherins, and a spattering of girls whom Amelie guessed were once subjected to an intense Sirius-snog-session before being left hanging.


 
‘Well,’ she thought, ‘At least they have some self-respect.’


 
“Thank you, thank you, everyone,” James and Sirius bowed to the crowd, lapping up the attention. One would almost think they had a deficiency. Amelie, who was torn between amusement and pity, simply ‘prodded’ them both on their backsides with her foot as they bowed, causing them both to buckle, lose their balance, and fall face-first on the marble floor, thus earning laughs from the student populace. From the corner of her eye, she could even see some of the Professors nothing looking short of thrilled. She took this as her queue to bow.


 
At least she had a reason.


 
As she stood back up, she saw James and Sirius staring at her with murderous looks in their eyes. She raised an eyebrow, trying not to betray anything that might be taken as trepidation. After all, they were the ring-leaders of the Marauders. Walking swiftly past them before they could do anything, she went to sit herself beside her friends, all of whom were laughing heartily.


 
“Amy, have I ever told you how much I love you?”


 
Grinning, Amy raised her eyebrows. “Now, now, Lily, please save some of those hormones for later. It’s not time for bed yet.”


 
Lily’s look of delight was quickly replaced with a scowl, causing them all to laugh harder.


 
“You practically walked into that one, Lily.”


 
‘Alice, always the clever one.’


 
Amelie snickered, leaving Lily to scowl further. Meanwhile, Dorcas, Callum and Kyle were scoffing down their food like there was no tomorrow – a favourite pastime of theirs. Once, the boys had foolishly challenged Dorcas to a food-eating contest. They failed miserably. It was never mentioned again – apart from the odd moments when the girls needed something done.


 
The boys hadn’t yet spoken to Amelie after the “incident”, and Amelie felt a squirm in the pit of her stomach. Serious talks like this with Callum and Kyle were things that she never enjoyed – however often they happened. Their ominous silence only boded ill for Amelie.


 
She didn’t want to know what would happen.


 
The feast, as usual, welcomed the students back with mouth-watering food and exquisite drink. Across the hall, students were catching up on each other’s summers, happily gossiping at chattering away. Death glares and raised eyebrows confirmed Amelie’s suspicion that her newest attack on Sirius had already spread. Having been susceptible to much worse, she ignored it. She was feeling light-hearted and happy again at being back at Hogwarts, and didn’t want for anything as mundane as gossip to drag her down. Wanting to remind her stomach of just how good it was to be back at Hogwarts, Amelie made sure to take second-helpings (and, on a few things, a third-helping) of everything.


 
“Well, now that you are all fed and watered,” (“Hear, hear,” said Kyle.) “I would like to remind you all, as usual, that the Forbidden Forest is, indeed, out of bounds, as is magic in the corridors. A full list of all forbidden objects can be found on a list in Mr. Filch’s office should you wish to check it. Should you be interested in joining your house Quidditch team, please speak with your heads of houses, who shall, in turn, refer your names to the Quidditch captain of your house.  



“Seeing as you are all eager to be fresh for your lessons tomorrow, I will not keep you here any longer. Goodnight!”


 
The deafening sound of the scraping of benches came as students rushed to get out of the Great Hall and into their beds as soon as possible. Before Amelie and her friends could take a step further, their progress was impeded by a stern-faced Professor McGonagall.


 
“Miss Avery, please follow me. The Headmaster would like to have a few words.” Her cold and crisp tone screamed authority, and Amelie immediately knew any type of resistance would be futile. Waving her friends a lazy goodbye, she followed the professor’s swift, purposeful strides through Hogwarts’ dark corridors and up many a staircase, until they reached the statue of a gargoyle she knew to be the entrance of the Headmaster’s office.








Ok, so there’s the next chapter! I know it was shorter – please don’t kill me. * Hides from rotten tomatoes*. I just wanted to tone things down a bit between the two… for now.



Please don’t forget to review with any comments you have – I love to hear from my readers! Next chapter is on its’ way – and personally, I like that one much more, so read it (pretty please) – and (with a cherry on the top) leave a review!


Chapter 6: A Battle of Wills
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

We desire nothing as much as what we ought not to have. – Pubilius Syrus




"Ah, Miss Avery, good evening."


 



Sitting behind his desk in his circular office, Professor Dumbledore sat, peering intently at a discomfited Amelie from over his half-moon glasses. A brilliant sunset shone through the window behind his desk into the beautiful room, bathing it in reds, pinks and oranges, leaving the Professor in somewhat of a shadow. Even so, his expression was palpable. Amelie shuffled uncomfortably, feeling rather exposed; his eyes seemed to be scrutinizing her thoroughly.



 



“Well, I daresay you’ve been incredibly busy. A month’s worth of detentions under your belt, and not even a day of term gone! The Marauders will be hard put to beat you this year, it seems...” the Professor commented, his beard twitching. Amelie could almost detect a hint of amusement in the old man’s voice, but could not bring herself to look up into the man’s eyes to confirm or disprove it. She compromised by nodding solemnly into her lap.



 



Dumbledore sighed wearily. “Amelie, you are not here to be reprimanded.”



 



Amelie’s head shot up so quickly that she almost strained her neck muscle. “I’m not?”



 



“No,” he said simply. “I do believe that Professor McGonagall did quite enough of that. However, I must enforce upon you the seriousness of the situation. I am well aware that you have physically assaulted Mr. Black more than once prior to this occasion-” 



 



“But-”



 



“Please do not interrupt me, Amelie,” Professor Dumbledore said, raising an arm to silence the girl. She bristled in annoyance, not able to get rid of the indignant voices in her head.



 



 ‘And Black gets away with everything… bloody hauling himself on me,’



 



His gaze never left her as the Professor continued with his monologue. “Even if Mr. Black had deserved what you did to him today, it does not take away from what you have done. Now, I would like to ask you to try and solve this problem with Mr. Black – be a bit less hostile, perhaps? I do not ask for miracles, just for decency between my students. It’s the least we can do, what with everything that’s going on outside the walls of Hogwarts.”



 



Amelie looked up at the Headmaster, wondering exactly how much he knew about the on goings ‘outside the walls of Hogwarts’, apprehension in her eyes. She had heard rumours… terrible ones. It was hard not to hear anything living in a house before, even more so now that a man like her step-father lived inside it. But the curiosity and anxiety were outweighed by the fatigue that had crept over her during the course of the day. Amelie, therefore, nodded with solemn acceptance, for once feeling too tired to protest.



 



“Thank you, Amelie. Goodnight.”



 



Jerking back to reality, Amelie stood at the abrupt dismissal. She thanked the professor and left. Walking back to the dormitories, she let out a breath that she had been holding unintentionally. So – she had to control herself when it came to Black. If only it was as easy as it sounded.



 



‘I’m buggered.’




 




 



Two weeks had passed since Amelie’s short chat with the Headmaster, in which Amelie was plagued by an avalanche of homework, and nightly detentions with Argus Filch, the embittered caretaker, helping him clean various areas of the castle without magic. Meanwhile, she had been doing everything in her might to avoid Black, albeit with little luck. Recurrently (and unwillingly), she would catch glimpses of the stupid boy – ‘or git; it seems to fit just as well’– whether he was joking about with his mates further up the table at meal times in the Great Hall, or merely ambling by in corridors as she went from class to class.



 



Amelie soon felt trapped. Everywhere she turned, she would see a mop of jet-black hair; pools of misty grey; a tall, muscled character – only to do a double-take and realise that the jet-black hair was bloody blonde, the grey eyes were sodding blue and the tall, muscled figure was in fact a ruddy podgy fourth-year! Her mind deceived her again and again until the point that it was unbearable. Soon she started feeling a rather unfamiliar sickening, restricting feeling in her chest, and found she was confounding herself. Since when had her psyche become so muddled and chaotic?



 



And yet – the most confusing bit of all – the bloke in question had kept away from Amelie’s direct line of fire ever since the start of term. When she would feel his eyes boring into the back of her head, she would turn to see that he was chatting normally with his mates, ignoring Amelie completely. This odd behaviour alone threw Amelie off. Sirius Black, Mr. I-love-to-annoy-the-fuck-out-of-Avery was actually ignoring her? Surely this was a sign of the apocalypse?



 



“Amy! Amy…”



 



“Huh?”



 



Amelie was sitting with her friends in the Great Hall, and had been playing with her breakfast absentmindedly, all the while staring at Sirius’ laughing back. Shaking her head of the stupid thoughts that had been clogging it up recently, she turned around to see brilliant blue eyes staring at her quite intently.



 



Callum.



 



“Er…just that you really need to eat something. We’ve got class in like five minutes.”



 



“Oh, right,” she said absently.



 



To her right, she heard a badly muffled giggle. Confused, she turned her head towards the source of the sound, only to find Dorcas, her whole fist stuffed into her mouth as she tried to control herself. She was failing miserably.



 



“Is something the problem, Dorcas?” asked Amelie, feeling slightly irritated and confused all of a sudden. Was Dorcas actually laughing at her?



 



“You were staring at Black’s head!” she shrieked, letting loose all pretence and rolling on the floor.



 



Amelie’s cheeks began to heat up as she noticed that a few people’s heads had begun to turn in their direction, interested to see the source of the disturbance. Quickly, she turned around to check that the boy in question had not heard. She let out a sigh of relief as she saw that none of the Marauders seemed to have taken any notice. Then, remembering what had made her so paranoid, she snapped her head right back to Dorcas.



 



‘Oh no, she did not.’



 



Eyebrows furrowed and nostrils flaring, she hissed back as quietly and intimidating as she could, not wanting to attract any more attention.



 



“Shut up, Dori!” she spat. “And I was not staring at Black.”



 



“Oh yes you were,” she cackled, eyes sparkling mischievously. Why oh why did she have to be so bloody perceptive?



 



“No I was not!”



 



“Were too,”



 



“Was not!”



 



“Were too!”



 



“Shut up!” Lily screamed. The girl who usually resembled the epitome of good-behaviour and sophistication had suddenly transformed; her hair wild and eyes popping out of their sockets reminiscent of a deranged lunatic, looking mutinously between the two girls. Dorcas took heed, but her expression was not in the least bit perturbed by such mundane things as a psychotic look from a hot-tempered red-head whilst still freshly high on ‘breakfast-sugar’: she still had her grin plastered on, rejoicing in her victory.



 



“Thanks, Lils,” muttered Kyle, holding his head like he had a migraine. He, like Amelie, did not feel any particular affection for early mornings. Last night had found him submerged under a pile of homework in an incredibly bad mood. “By the way, did you guys hear about those attacks in Bath this morning?”



 



“What?!”



 



Amelie said nothing. It seemed strange, how one minute she could be foolish and all uptight about the audacity of her friends’ claims, and the next she felt trapped, stuck in the middle of this huge war that was bound to happen. Snippets of conversation she had over heard came to her.



“They’ve made it quite clear. She joins or she dies.”



 



“She’d be stupid to run off...”



 



“Well that brat of yours doesn’t exactly always know what’s good for her.”



 



Suffocated: that’s how she felt. The lack of choice that she was given was the most abhorrent thing she knew life could have dealt her, and it had. Shutting her eyes tightly for a moment, she took a breath. Home life would not interfere with Hogwarts. It hadn’t until now, and she refused to let it continue. Enough thinking about Black and this Dark Lord… they had lessons to go to.



 



Luckily, Alice felt the same way.



 



“Come on, guys. Let’s go to class before Amelie starts drooling,” sighed Alice as she folded up her copy of the Daily Prophet trimly before standing up.



 



Before Amelie could open her mouth to protest, Alice stood up and walked out of the hall. Her jaw dropped. Alice – dear, sweet, caring, loving, Alice had just insulted her and gone! Ran! She had upped and left – right after implying that she would actually slobber over Black of all people! The audacity! The impudence!



 



What was it with everyone today?



 



‘First Sirius and now this,’ she thought. ‘Should I become a devout catholic now?’



 



Dorcas started laughing again.



 



“You look funny with your mouth open.”



 



Amelie shut her mouth and shot her friend a mutinous glare. Sensing danger, Lily stepped in once again. Thankfully, her manic edge seemed to have subsided considerably. She brushed her hair back with her fingers, trying to cover up her momentary madness.



 



“Come on, you lot. We’ve got double Herbology with the Hufflepuffs next.”



 



Deciding for once against retorting, Amelie nodded and followed Kyle, Callum and Dorcas, the latter clapping her hands giddily next to the red-head, heading out of the hall and towards the greenhouses in somewhat of a daze, silently. Her brain was still in shock. Never in her five-and-a-bit years in Hogwarts!



 



“Hey, Amy! Wait up!”



 



Amelie turned around to see Remus Lupin puffing, trying to catch up with her. Chancing a quick look behind him, she saw that he was without his usual delegation. She raised an eyebrow, confused.



 



“Er – hi,”



 



“Hey. How you been?”



 



While continuing their journey towards the greenhouses, Amelie was still trying to work out what was going on. Why wasn’t Remus with the other Marauders? More importantly, where were the other Marauders? They were only there a few moments ago. Experience had taught her that it was best to have them in sight.



 



‘Keep your friends close, but your enemies’ closer,’ she thought wryly, knowing that the common saying was only too true, however cheesy.



 



“Fine… where’re your mates?”



 



Remus looked at Amelie like she’d grown antlers. “You’re kidding, right? Like they’d ever be on time to their lessons on the first day back.”



 



You are,” Amelie pointed out.



 



“Yes, but then again I am the only one that actually cares.” Amelie conceded, nodding. Remus continued, “Where’re you’re mates, then?”



 



Amelie looked around, and noticed that she had fallen behind. Remembering the morning’s events, her face darkened. “Evil, twisted hags. Laughing at me, shouting at me and then fucking leaving me to walk all the way up to Herbology on my own, making me look like a sodding Billy no mates”, she mumbled inaudibly.



 



“Er – sorry. Didn’t catch that.”



 



“They bloomin’ left me here, that’s what!” Amelie suddenly spat, causing Remus to jump about a foot into the air. “Prancing off to Herbology – not even bothering to look back to see if I’m with them or not.” Lowering her voice suddenly to barely above a whisper, she continued, muttering to herself in what looked like pure anguish. “Ruddy Dorcas, laughing at me – drooling after that git, my arse!”



 



Remus tried hard not to look sympathetic (honestly he did), but seeing as he ended up with an expression between incredulity, amusement and hysterics, he didn’t quite manage to pull it off to perfection. Amelie noticed.



 



“Why are you looking at me like that for?” she said in a menacing voice, just above a whisper, her eyes narrowed in suspicion.



 



Remus gulped. “Er – um,” he began, scratching his neck in discomfort, looking away from Amelie. What on Earth could he say? It was odd how much she could look like a wild cat at times like this… getting ready to pounce… ‘Think, Remus! Think!’



 



“N-n-nothing. Why was Dorcas laughing at you?”



 



Amelie’s eyes flew open in full-blown anger, and Remus knew he had put his foot in it. He gulped again as he saw her wand pointed steadily at his chest. ‘Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Made a right bollocks out of this, haven’t you? Now run before she hexes your puny arse off!’



 



The corners of Amelie’s mouth lifted into a smirk as the boy zoomed off. ‘Like shit off a shovel,’ she thought, feeling content that she hadn’t lost her touch. Pocketing her wand, she smiled with satisfaction – a feeling which feeling heightened as she noted a few Ravenclaw boys turning to look back in her direction. Strutting forwards and flicking her long hair behind her with grace, her confidence back in tact, she looked forward to what now promised to be quite a pleasant morning.



 



Humming, she entered greenhouse five.



 



“Morning, miss!” she exclaimed, virtually skipping as she headed towards her area, passing by the Hufflepuffs. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see her friends shooting furtive glances at each other, presumably wary of their friend’s anomalous behaviour. Unnatural happiness was more Dorcas’ department. The fact that Amelie was prancing around tended to bode ill.



 



‘My, my, don’t they look jumpy today. And rightly so,’ she thought, relishing her friends’ discomfort.



 



Humming, she looked around the room. Her eyes caught Remus Lupin’s, who in turn suddenly looked nauseous.



 



Interesting,’ she thought. A cunning plan had entered her mind, which she mulled over with a wry smile.



 



Amelie waved at him, still smiling, eyes sparkling with ill-hidden malevolence.



 



His reaction was quite amusing. First, the boy blanched, eyes flying open and posture turning rigid in shock, looking as if he had been placed under the full body-bind. Thankfully, he then decided to breathe, letting out a long-awaited, lengthy breath. Making a pathetic attempt at looking nonchalantly calm, Remus returned a smile which more resembled a grimace, though even that quickly slipped off his face. Not wishing to feel any more awkward, he turned to talk to Kyle and Callum.



 



Amelie had to work all the self-control she had to fight the sudden, overwhelming urge to burst into hysterics. Continuing with a spring in her step, she planted herself in between Dorcas, Lily and Alice, all of whom were still looking appropriately terror-stricken.



 



‘Serves them right – playing with my mind and status so early in the day. Shameless, utterly shameless - the lot of them!’



 



“Alright, settle down now everyone,” said a voice over the chatter than had not yet ceased since breakfast. “Good, now today – you’re late, boys. Hurry up we’re just about to start.”



 



Typically, the remaining three Marauders ambled into class a good ten minutes later than the bell. James, Sirius and Peter strutted in, heads held high, looking as if they had just single-handedly knocked down an army of mountain trolls. Amelie felt Lily flinch behind her.



 



“Morning, Professor Cress. You look awfully nice today – they new robes?”



 



Amelie rolled her eyes, though trying to refrain from smirking. As much as she hated to see Black charming the socks off her professor, you had to enjoy watching a master at work.



 



Professor Cress was a fairly young witch of her late twenties with blonde hair curled immaculately into tiny ringlets. Nothing about her was notably stunning, but she had a pleasant face, and a loving aura. Though some students – like the Marauders – took advantage of her good-hearted nature, she was never one to shout, and would give detentions once in a blue moon. Getting a detention with Professor Cress was almost like being excluded from Hogwarts.



 



Subconsciously playing with her sleeve, the young professor sent a warm smile Sirius’ way, who replied just as warmly.



 



“Why thank-you, Black – and yes it is a new hat. Do you like it?”



 



“Absolutely gorgeous on you, darling,” replied Black with careful flattery. A few of the boys had to hold back chuckles, assuming that Sirius actually meant what he had said, and had a crush on the teacher. Half of the girls raised their eyebrows in surprise and ill-disguised disgust at Sirius’ taste. Amelie, however, was no amateur at acting: she knew different.



 



Blushing, Professor Cress turned back to the class, all thoughts of late students long forgotten. Amelie saw Sirius wink sneakily at James, who grinned back at his best mate appreciatively. That was expected – thanks to him, they were all back in her good books (not that she really held onto the bad ones for long – but Sirius was never one to pass up on a chance to flirt). What wasn’t expected, though, was for Sirius to then turn around and wink at an unsuspecting Amelie. She felt her mouth go heavy as it dropped down in shock.



 



‘He bloody winked at me. Why in the name of Merlin did he wink at me?’



 



To make certain that her mind wasn’t playing tricks with her this time, Amelie turned around to look behind her. Seeing that no-one was there, she turned back to see Sirius flash her a sly smile before busying himself with his friends once more. She shook shut her eyes and shook her head, looking like a dog ridding itself of water.



 



‘Why the fuck did I just – what was that?!’ she thought, disgusted with herself.



 



This could not be happening.  



 



More to prevent her friends to add to their list of reasons to pick on her today, she re-composed herself, acting dignified and icy once again, listening to the Professor rambling about everything they had learnt for the past five years. Lily was taking notes so fast that her quill was a blur, and Alice looked like she was giving her undivided attention to the lesson. Dorcas was sucking on her quill – her sugar quill, that is. Amelie would have been fooled by their antics, if it wasn’t for the odd furtive glances they would steal when they thought she wasn’t looking. It was no secret. They were shitting themselves from fear.



 



Mentally, she thanked god for blessing her with Callum and Kyle, who weren’t as psychologically deranged as the girls. Though they both had a great potential at being slow on the uptake, they had at least drummed the fact into themselves that ruining Amelie’s morning is as good an idea as poking a sleeping dragon in the eye – in other words, a terrible one.



 



Sparing them both a glance, she suddenly felt a sickening feeling as she remembered that a talk with them was still due. If only it were over and done with already.



 



Looking at the plant in front of her, she smiled grimly. Funny, how something that looked so innocuous had the potential to be so destructive and damaging. Most accidents with the devil’s snare, they were told, occurred because of the fact that people tend to see only what they wanted to see – nothing more, and nothing less.



 



Amelie nodded, understanding completely. Who would want to want to look past her hard exterior shell to find the horrors of her life? Why would you want a vulnerable Amelie, when the cold and provocative one could give you so much more? Her frosty aura seemed to make her impervious to other people’s insults and comments, and turned her into a rock that people could depend on, lean on it times of need. And yet, each comment slit open a wound in her heart; each whisper of her past, each shadow of an unwanted memory hurt her very soul. Deep inside, Amelie was beyond vulnerable. She had no family to run to for help, no real shelter from whatever storm her life might throw at her.  



 



Maybe Amelie sounded a bit cynical, practically ignoring the fact that she had friends that would do almost anything for her. But that was just it. Amelie was a sceptical person – it was a gift from her broken childhood. Watching her father walk out on her life for no apparent reason; standing as she was beaten by a man she hardly knew; taking care to walk and talk in a fashion so as to make sure that no one could discern her true feelings – it was an unnatural life for a young child to lead. Four years of living in a life of solitude and confinement within herself had taken its toll on her. She had matured beyond her years, so much so that she felt old and strained.



 



Hence her friends had subconsciously become her refuge – the part of her life where she could act young and carefree. ‘Act’ being the keyword here, as however much Amelie might have tried, she wouldn’t ever be those two words ever again. Not since her father had left. At school, at Christmas, at Easter, she was the rebellious, mysterious, feisty girl to the world, and the fun-loving girl to her friends. It was only when the summer holidays arrived that she once again retreated to being the pusillanimous, lily-livered girl that hardly anyone knew of. It was only then that thoughts of her step-father took over.



 



Her cousins, aunt – even her mother – were not a problem. They each ignored her, knowing that if they confronted each other in an argument, Amelie would probably win. The man who cowed her threw curses at her that Amelie had never even heard of, despite living with a dark, twisted family. He would have her at his mercy until she would show emotion, because Amelie kept it all in. Her body would bleed, her bones would break, her muscles would tear, but she refused to let any noise escape from her mouth. Her dark eyes would stare at the large man’s pools of icy blue resolutely; full red lips closed naturally, hair matted on her head due to the viscous blood that was holding it down. She would watch him as his rage would tower up at her lack of emotion, summoning up all his strength into curse after curse to break the girl. A gasp would suffice.



 



So far he hadn’t succeeded, and Amelie shuddered to think of the day that he would. As the thought crossed her mind, a shiver ran down her spine. Closing her eyes, she tried hard to banish the mental images of her step-father’s leer, with little success. If anything it came into sharper focus.



 



“Go away, you prick!”



 



“Er,”



 



Amelie looked up to see Sirius Black standing next to her, looking quite taken aback.  



 



“Sorry, I wasn’t talking to you,” she said, realising she had said her thoughts out aloud. Deciding to change the conversation so that he wouldn’t think of her as mental, she continued on a different tack. “How come you’re over here, anyway?”



 



“Peter wanted to work with that Hufflepuff, Sofia Clarence and then Professor Cress sent me over here to work with you, seeing as you’re without a partner, too,” he explained.



 



“Oh, erm – okay,” she said, not feeling altogether comfortable. Looking around, she saw that indeed, Peter was sitting with a pretty-looking Hufflepuff, James and Remus were working together, as were Kyle and Callum, and Lily and Dorcas. Alice was working with a Hufflepuff boy, obviously hiding from Amelie’s wrath. Sighing, she resigned to working with Sirius. “Let’s get on with re-potting these fanged geraniums then.”



 



They both worked silently, firstly just to cover up the awkward silence between them. Soon (Amelie didn’t realise when, but she just suddenly noticed) the awkward silence evaporated, and was replaced by an extremely comfortable one. They worked as a seamless team; unaware of how they knew when the other needed something or what it was. They just did. A good half-hour passed before Sirius, finally, broke the silence.



 



“I think that’s that one done,” he said, wiping his brow.



 



“Yeah,” sighed Amelie, subconsciously aping his actions.



 



As they continued on their work on the next plant, Amelie decided to make a conversation, uncomfortably aware that it could potentially start off yet another argument. On the other hand, she wanted to give Sirius the benefit of the doubt. To be fair, he could be reasonable – sometimes, that was. 



 



“So, erm – how did old Wally treat you after the do at your place?”



 



Sirius looked at Amelie in surprise – never before had she talked about the times they talked during the summer when the purebloods had a gathering, let alone used the nickname they had both created for his excuse for a mother. Though they were both disgraced, they were still forced to attend the things, just to prove that their parents were not completely useless and had in fact a nuance of control over their children. Usually, the two would sit down and talk about random things, which eventually led to deep, philosophical discussions about life, or just random conversations about what they wanted to do after Hogwarts and such. The fact that they knew that they could talk to someone at least once each summer kept them both sane, however much Amelie hated the uneasiness she felt around Sirius. Last time, Walburga, Sirius’ mother, had been keeping an unusually close eye on her son as the two children talked in their back garden, and Amelie had had a bad feeling about it.



 



“Same as normal, really,” he said, averting her eyes.



 



Amelie looked up and gave him a piercing gaze.



 



“You know I won’t buy that.”



 



“Yeah,”



 



“Then why did you say it?”



 



Sirius sighed. “Why do you care, anyway? Don’t you hate me?” he asked, with fake exaggeration.



 



Amelie’s eyes, if possible, darkened, feeling oddly upset at his comment, but she laughed determined to counterbalance her emotions. She shoved Sirius playfully on the side, “Oh, come on. You know I do, really. But, you know, I need something to keep me sane in the summer.”



 



Sirius let out a bark-like laugh. “Funny. I had the impression that I was the one that drove you insane.”



 



Amelie mulled over the comment for a second, and then smiled. “You know, it’s true. You do drive me insane, but I guess back there even the worst things seem like heaven.”



 



“That bad, huh?”



 



“You need to ask?” Amelie asked, raising her eyebrows. She was sure that Sirius would understand her, at least.



 



“Well, no, but like you said, I’m insane, so I say stuff like that.” he said, shrugging.



 



“I didn’t say you were insane – I said you drove me insane.”



 



“So you’re the insane one?”



 



“Only around you,” Amelie stated in a tone of finality as if she had just finished explaining an incredibly hard transfiguration formula to a third year. “Anyway, quit stalling. What happened?”



 



Sirius sighed again, turning around to look at Amelie. Once again, Amelie found that his expression was unreadable. There was such a mixture of strong emotions in the grey depths of his eyes that she could not for the life of her tell which was which. She squinted, trying to pick up anything that might give her something, but found nothing.



 



“You telling me that you’re folks don’t hex you after our little chats?” he asked in a low voice.



 



Amelie looked down immediately, feeling suddenly weak. His tone was bitter, distressing, cheerless and heartbreaking all in one. She felt a wave of guilt wash over her, hating herself for reminding him of his family. Of everything she could have asked, why that one?



 



‘Made a right mess of things, haven’t you?’ her mind reprimanded her for foolishness.



 



“Sorry,”



 



“Don’t be,” he said gruffly, turning back to attach the plant. “’S not your problem. They’re the ones that should be sorry – thinking like that.”



 



Amelie nodded, trying to push away the intensity of the emotions that she was feeling. Keeping her head down, she continued with her work, wishing for the bell to ring. ‘If anyone needs to be “saved by the bell” now, it’s me.’



 



“Hey,” Sirius’ rough voice pushed in through her thoughts. “Don’t be feeling sorry for me – I don’t need sympathy, you know.”



 



Amelie turned around, looking Sirius straight in the eye. “Trust me; I know more than you’d think. And don’t you worry you’re pretty little head about getting any sympathy from me.”



 



“Good – so we’re going back to normal? You treating me like a mortal enemy?”



 



“No.” Amelie ran a hand through her raven-coloured locks, trying to think of a way to say what she wanted to without looking like a) she wanted to be with Sirius, or b) like she pitied him. “Listen, Sirius. I know we aren’t exactly chums right now, and never have been, but I wanted to – I wanted to apologise. You know, not just for the other day, but in general. I think I hex you a bit too much.”



 



Sirius stood astonished, agape. It took him a full second to gather his wits about him again. “I – erm, well – I,” he spluttered, obviously still not fully recovered. “I guess I’m sorry too. I was stupid for pushing myself on you like that all the time.” Wisely, he decided against asking why Amelie had kissed him back the last time.



 



Amelie gave a small smile, thankful that that was over. She hated apologising, especially when it came to Black.



 



At that second, the bell rang.



 



“Right now, everyone before you go, well done. I want a three-foot essay on the correct handling of fanged geraniums to be handed into me by Monday. Once you’ve packed up, you may go.”



 



Once she had collected her things, Amelie followed her friends out of the room, all thoughts of hating them forgotten.



 



Another chapter done! Strange interaction between Amelie and Sirius there. Sorry for the wait – it’s a busy time of year and I had a slight writer’s block. I wrote a few one-shots meanwhile (feel free to take a look!), and well yes hopefully the next few will come along sooner. Please review! I love all my readers, but I’ll love you more if you review! Haha, I’m so low. :D Hope you enjoyedreading!


Chapter 7: Play, Pause, Rewind
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Lying increases the creative faculties, expands the ego, and lessens the frictions of social contacts - Clare Booth Luce





During her time at Hogwarts, Amelie had found a certain patch of grass beside the lake to be a favourite spot of hers. For hours she would sit, her back leant against the rough bark of a willow tree, taking in the expanse of the body of water, allowing her mind to sift through her thoughts and emotions bit by bit.


 


But now, Amelie’s mind was too numb to think. Right now, Amelie’s mind was busy playing and replaying the conversation with Sirius, desperately trying to figure something out – something that had been nagging at the back of her mind for a good while now – trouble being that Amelie didn’t know what that thing was.


 


After Herbology, her friends had duly apologised for their insolent behaviour that morning, realising that it was by far to their advantage to have Amelie as a friend than being on her hit list (Amelie wasn’t well-known for her judiciousness or her sanity). They were dumbfounded, therefore, to see that Amelie had seemed completely out of her depth, taking a good five minutes to even remember what had happened for them to be apologising in the first place.


 


A cool, evening breeze blew across the lake, turning the motionless expanse into something restless and agitated. Amelie drew her knees even closer to her self, arms wrapped around each other, chin resting on them. A sudden gust of wind blew a few strands of her raven hair in front of her eyes, but she felt too lethargic to shake it away. Letting it flap wildly in front of her, she exhaled slowly.


 


It had taken her ages to slip away from her friends – more so than usual today, due to the display of bizarre behaviour in the morning. Finally she managed to excuse herself by claiming the need to go to the library to do some research for the immoral fifty-inch Transfiguration essay that Professor McGonagall had set them after lunch. As each of her friends were also suffocated under the mass-load of homework they had been set, no one questioned the announcement, but instead nodded in dull acceptance as they continued scratching their parchments with frenzied movements of their subjective quills.


 


Amelie felt a slight squirm in her stomach as she thought of the mountainous pile of work that was waiting for her back in the Gryffindor common room, but immediately pushed it to the back of her mind. She satiated herself, thinking that even if she had tried to start on her work, it would have been highly unlikely that she would have gotten anywhere, what with the state she was in. She didn’t exactly fancy copying from anyone at the moment, either.


 


Allowing her mind to walk around, closing her eyes and taking a long, deep breath, trying to rid herself of all the grime she could feel inside herself. She would never be good enough to be friends with people like Alice or Callum. Heck, even Dorcas was too nice a person to be forced to hang around the likes of her… tainted, dirty people like her – people who had been tarred with the same brush as Annette and Cepheus Nott.


 


At that moment, Amelie became aware of a figure next to her. The form hesitated slightly, and then sat down beside her, dousing her with a sudden sense of comfort and contentment. No words were exchanged as Amelie lifted her head and shifted her body weight to lean on a fairly muscular shoulder. Together, they sat in silence, watching the sun slowly begin to set beyond the edge of the lake. Taking in the breathtaking assortment of tones and colours, she let out a sigh of longing. If only she had brought out her sketchbook.


 


“You want to go back in?”


 


Amelie turned around to see Kyle’s brown eyes staring at her intently. He had obviously mistaken her sigh for fatigue.


 


“Nah, s’ok,” she muttered, looking back at the sky, head still resting comfortably on her friend’s shoulders.


 


Many people had whispered of a secret relationship between the two, but in truth, they were nothing of the sort. Amelie and Kyle had a bond that couldn’t be replaced, but whatever it was between them, it was strictly platonic, and each of them wanted it to stay that way. His intuitiveness had always been well-placed, especially when Amelie was concerned, and so his finding her out here had not strictly been unanticipated. 


 


“What’s up?” he asked, nudging her head lightly with the shoulder that she was leaning on.


 


Amelie looked round again, peering at Kyle with squinted eyes, measuring him up. She knew she could trust him with her life, but what exactly would she tell him? About her life at home? About – she gulped at the thought – Sirius? The truth of the matter was, she wasn’t exactly sure what she felt about that last one, which made it all the more confusing. “I don’t exactly know…”


 


Kyle snorted. “You spent a good three hours thinking about nothing?”


 


Kyle, infuriatingly, had a quality in him that made it absolutely impossible for Amelie to be angry at. He was the only one, and boy did he know it. He used this talent to no end on Amelie, milking it for all its worth.  Therefore, at this comment, that would have earned everyone else a hard punch in the arm at the very least, Amelie simply smiled at, shaking her head. “No.”


 


“Well, what’s up then?”


 


Just then, Amelie made a spontaneous decision to let Kyle in – to a point.


 


“You want to help me work it out?”


 


“Sure,” he said, straightening himself up to show he was listening.


 


“Okay. Well, you know about back home, right?” she asked, also straightening up, wanting to look at her friend in the eyes whilst she talked to him.


 


“To a point, yeah,”


 


“Well, you know that they’re all hags – and you’ve heard about the terrible twosome and all, having seen them practically everyday around this place. Now, what you lot haven’t heard much of is my Dad.”


 


“But you don’t have a Dad, do you? You live with your step-dad.” Kyle’s face screwed up in concentration as he tried to remember any point in time where Amelie might have brought up anything about her real father.


 


“I did. My birth parents divorced when I was eight. Don’t know why. All I know that it was a huge embarrassment. Must’ve been something good, seeing as they’re all pureblood maniacs.


 


“Anyway, I was a right little Daddy’s girl when I was young. Used to love hanging round with him – whether he was reading me a story or taking me to the country to horse ride with him – people hardly saw me without him.”


 


Amelie’s voice shook a bit, and Kyle tried to refrain from looking shocked. He had never seen Amy be affected anything like this– she wasn’t meant to. She was Amy! The impervious rock! Yet here she was, taking deep breaths to control the emotion that was obviously flooding through her as she described how her father had been chucked out of the Avery household when she was but eight years old.


 


“Practically all the family’d gathered to watch him go. Kind of like their farewell present,” she spat bitterly, remembering the vile way her excuse for relatives were staring down at her father.


 


“When my Dad left, I started crying for him to come back. Then my mum started shouting – no sorry – screaming at me never to say his name again.” Amelie’s eyes were squinted now, her brows furrowed as she remembered the events of that day. The harsh lines on her mother’s face from that day were etched into her memory, biting away at her from the inside. She was still hurting. From the loss of her dad that she’d loved more than anything in the world, from being left to fend for herself – an eight year old in the middle of a fistful of purebloods so bloody prejudiced that they were (and still are) practically blinded by their hatred for anything closely muggle-related. She relayed all this information to Kyle, pouring out everything that she had bottled up for so long. Now that she had let go of her apprehension, she couldn’t stop her mouth from talking, even if she did feel pangs when she was forced to remember parts of her childhood.


 


“Being a pureblood, they’d drummed things into me from as soon as I could walk on my own two feet. I knew that if I was going to make it out of that hell-hole alive, then I’d have to stop being the carefree, innocent and immature Amelie, and be exactly what they wanted me to be. I’d turn into the right stuffed up like princess, cold and independent.


 


“It took some time, but I got there in the end. My mum loved it. Everyone loved it. After the embarrassment of what had happened with my Dad, they virtually ached to show me off to the other women, to get rid of the smudge on their name that had been left there. They wanted to show that the Avery name still held ‘good and true’,” Amelie spat.


 


As Amelie had the longest personal conversation she had had with anyone in a long time (apart from Sirius, who knew many other things about her but wouldn’t let anything on), she felt an odd weight begin to drift off her, and her breathing became less and less restricted the more she spoke.


 


“So, I pretended to love the whole pureblood-ness, and love the cause. Damn it I even pretended to love my damn step-father when he came along, and no one suspected a bloody thing. Why? Well one, ‘cos I’m a damn good actress and two, ‘cos no-one really wanted to. Everyone was far happier thinking of me as the perfect daughter than the disgrace of the family.


 


Throughout her rant, Kyle never once questioned Amelie, never once judged her. He remained passive, clam-like, listening but not prodding. The boy, though not entirely free of family problems himself, found it hard to try and put himself in the girls shoes, but for the sake of their friendship, tried, and managed to do it.


 


“But then I got my letter from Hogwarts, and the problem of the sorting came.”


 


Amelie explained her torn feeling; how she hated the possibility of ruining everything she had made herself to be, and yet also hated continuing the façade.


 


“Soon after – and this is an important part, mind you, so listen,”


 


“Oi! I have been listening!” exclaimed Kyle, indignant.


 


“I know, I know. Just – never mind. Anyway, soon after that we had another little pureblood party, meeting, ball, whatever you want to call it. Trust me; be thankful you never went to one. Ruddy torture, they are, those things - women tittering at stupid jokes that cocky men make – men acting all big and perving around. Bloody disgusting, I tell you. Anyway, I had to go, obviously, acting like I always did, pretending I loved the thing, letting twenty year olds gawk at me like I was a piece of fucking meat,” Amelie shuddered, and continued. “But that night, that night was different.”


 


A momentary silence fell on the two. Amelie looked up to see Kyle’s mouth opening to form the word, “How?” but she beat him to it.


 


“That night I met Sirius Black.”


 


“Ah,” said Kyle, eyes closing as if he had just been imparted with the knowledge of the location of the Holy Grail. “Are you going to honour me in explaining the reason behind all this – erm, sexual tension, between the two of you?”


 


Amelie made a squawking noise, not believing that Kyle, of all people, would say such a thing. “Oi, you! There is no bloomin’ sexual tension between me and Black. Now hush your beak and let me get on with it. That means no grinning, too,” she said, poking a finger in his chest to get the boy to close his mouth.


 


“That’s better,” she said, as he complied. “Now, Black here corners me after I had an – er, encounter of sorts with Malfoy. Won’t go into detail about that, but anyway yeah he just outright comes out with everything – saying that I’m fake and I’m just hiding from the truth, that I hate whole pureblood thing and such and such.”


 


“No,” said the gob-smacked teenage boy, looking fittingly terrified at the fact that his roommate had such mind-reading capabilities. “Damn it, and all that at the age of eleven?”


 


“Yup, so you can see why I’ve always been a bit – you know, wary around the guy. I mean, you don’t want everyone knowing everything about you now, do you?”


 


“Nope,”


 


“So what did I do? I turned around and punched him – slap bang on the nose.”


 


“Good job,” he said, grinning appreciatively.


 


“Thanks,” she replied, grinning back. “Got me well worked up, he did. Went on a swearing rampage that night – doubt half of them lot knew what half the words meant, you know. Now that I think back on it their faces were a right picture.” Amelie thought back, reminiscing fondly over her moment of glory.


 


“’Course then I was a disgrace after that, hitting another pureblood like that. The Blacks are big, you know – loads of influence. And I punched their eldest son.”


 


Amelie had always known that Kyle was a good listener, but that evening he showed an awareness that she had never expected of him. Not only did he listen, but he actually seemed to understand what the little Amelie had gone through (regardless of the fact that Amelie had left out the beatings and such), and for that alone, Amelie felt a strong sense of compassion and gratitude towards the boy. 


 


“Okay, so you came here, got into Gryffindor with Sirius. Sure, you get stick at home, but what’s wrong? It’s gotta be something else, right?”


 


Amelie closed her eyes and clenched her teeth in frustration. “That’s just it,” she said, half-spitting, half-whispering, “I don’t bloody know. I’m so confused. Half of it’s ‘cos I’m so cold – even to you guys, I’m not exactly open, am I? But then again, if I’m not open, how can Sirius read me so well? How is it that I can tell when he’s staring at me, even when he’s a mile away? How is it that he can get on my bloody nerves so easily, when I can shrug everyone else off my back no problem? The git makes me feel so damn weak it’s not even funny! I hate being weak! I refuse to be weak!”


 


At this, Kyle laughed. “Listen, Amy. You may be a hell of a lot of things: rude – maybe, hostile – hell yes, but weak? Nah, you’re not weak. Maybe it’s just cos Sirius knows you more. He’s a safe guy, you know; I doubt he means to get on your case like he does.”


 


“But then, why does he?”


 


“Maybe you let him,”


 


Amelie scoffed. “And why the fuck would I do that? The only time I talk to him is in the summer-” At this, Amelie clapped her hands around her mouth, horrified at her slip up. Kyle grinned, knowing that he was on to something.


 


“Summer, eh?” he asked, eyebrows raised. “What happens then?”


 


“Er – um, well… you see, er…”


 


Kyle had never seen Amelie so flustered and fidgety. It was strange to see her experiencing so many different emotions in so little time, but he tried to remain calm for his friend, patiently waiting for her to continue.


 


“Okay, okay, I’ll tell you,” she sighed, laying down her arms in defeat. “But before – you do know that everything I’m telling you is between me and you, right? If anyone hears anything about any of this, I will personally hex your bollocks into the next century.” Amelie squinted shrewdly at her friend, making sure that the message got home. This was not anything she wanted getting around.


 


Kyle gulped, reminiscent of Remus Lupin. Amelie had to fight not to laugh, as he managed an “Er – okay,” voice breaking slightly.


 


“Good. Well, see in the summer, when all the stuffed up purebloods get together and have a ball or two, the women bitching behind each other’s backs and the like, we – me and Sirius, that is – still have to go, for some odd reason. Obviously, we don’t stay with them lot. Usually we just head to the people’s back gardens and chat for a while.”


 


Genuinely intrigued by this, Kyle asked, “About what?”


 


“Well nothing really, you know. We talk about anything – just to keep each other sane. It’s hard living with people who think like they do.” A small smile crept onto Amelie’s lips, a wistful look appearing on her face. “Talking with Sirius in the summer’s like taking a breather, sort of thing. Sometimes the conversation’d go to deeper topics. Quite interesting actually – you’d never think that Sirius would be the type to talk about life, death and if there’s more to it, would you?”


 


Amelie tilted her head towards Kyle, who saw her eyes looked – different. Somehow they weren’t so much dark and mysterious, but filled with an intense emotion that the boy couldn’t place.


 


“Never had Sirius down as the type, no – but all that sure does explain a hell of a lot. And you say no one else knows about this?”


 


“I think James might know, but if he does he hasn’t said anything. Other than that, no - haven’t even told Lily the full story.”


 


Kyle let out a low whistle.


 


“Well, from what it looks like, you’re just scared to trust people.”


 


“No shit, Sherlock.”


 


Kyle laughed, but then stopped, turning to look at her. “Hey, you pureblood! How do you know about Sherlock, eh?”


 


Amelie gave a wry smile. “Well, it just so happens that I have a friend up in the castle who loves to read – and guess what,”


 


“What?” Kyle asked, blatantly faking his over-enthusiastic reply.


 


“She’s muggleborn!”


 


“You don’t say!”


 


Amelie laughed, feeling suddenly lighter than she had in years. The pressure on her chest had lifted somewhat, as had the mess in her mind. Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but it’s an ice-breaker for conversations if there ever was one.


 


“Come here, you fat lump, let me give you a hug!” she said, grinning at Kyle, her arms open wide.


 


“Watch who you’re calling fat, chubby,” he countered, hugging his friend in the process.


 


“Hey! Don’t go talking about a girl’s weight. It’s rude.”


 


“Bloody hypocrite,” he muttered.


 


“Oh, so you’re a girl, now?” she asked in forged amusement, raising her eyebrows, painfully trying to hide the smile that was itching to creep up her face.


 


“Why you-”



 


But Kyle didn’t manage to finish. Amelie slapped him one on the back of the head mid-sentence, and ran full pelt towards the castle, cackling shrilly like a mad woman, leaving the gob-smacked boy behind.



 


True to his word, Kyle hadn’t breathed a word. His act of ignorance seemed so convincing, in fact, that occasionally Amelie wondered whether she had actually had the conversation, or if it had all been a dream. It had been so hard for her to believe that she had actually out-right talked about her problems with someone without them cowering away, acting as if she had some kind of contagious disease. Though what Kyle did was little, it meant a lot to Amelie, giving her hope – maybe the world really wasn’t all that bad after all.


 


Nevertheless, all the acting was not really necessary. Everyone in sixth year had found themselves submerged under an avalanche of essays, researches and other little bits and bobs to do – so much so that it made their OWL year seem tame.


 


“I want chocolate!” Dorcas had screamed one day, the frustration of having to sit put for five hours straight finally getting to her. Her tone wasn’t happy, bubbly or hyper – the shrill scream sounded of horror and desperation. The poor girl was terribly low on body sugar.


 


Lily, of course, seemed to be breezing through her work. As if by some miracle, she would get it all done, and somehow find added time to help Alice and Dorcas. She and Remus both would spend hours of “leisure time” in the library, merely looking up books for background research – they were weird like that.


 


Having gotten tired of bugging James to increase Quidditch practice times (“McGonogall’ll do her nut in if we ask for more time – she’s bugging me enough as it is!” the captain had said), Callum had taken matters into his own hands. With more and more pressure being piled on his academic life, he needed to increase his physical outlet to keep him sane. Amelie had barely seen the guy all week, as he was either absorbed in schoolwork, or trekking the length of the Hogwarts grounds.


 


Alice, oddly enough, was seen less and less as she spent more time with Benjy Fenwick. Her absence had not gone unnoticed, and Amelie could not help but feel a little worried about her friend. Matters were not helped by Kyle or Callum, whose faces darkened whenever the topic was brought up. Fact of the matter was, neither of them approved of Benjy, and they had made that very clear to Alice as soon as they had heard about her feelings towards him. Though Lily, Amelie and Dorcas thought that they were perhaps being a tad bit too overprotective at first, they were now wondering whether they honestly did have a point or not.


 


“When was the last time you saw Alice, Amy?”


 


Looking up from her Potions essay on the benefits of adding Hellebore to a sleeping draught, Amelie saw her best friend wringing her hands in anxiety. She bit her lip. “Er


– last night I think. She was gone when I woke up. You think something’s wrong, too?”


 


Lily nodded, flopping down on the seat opposite. Amelie understood. Neither of them knew why they were so anxious. Obviously, Alice would want to spend loads of time with Benjy, seeing as she’d liked him since forever – it wasn’t exactly unprecedented. Yet they both felt that they were overlooking something. “I just can’t shake off the feeling, y’know?”


 


“Yeah, me too…”


 


“You think we should go ask the guys about this?” Lily asked eyes full of anxiety.


 


Amelie jumped up. “Are you mad?! They’ll do their nut in, they will.”


 


“Who’ll do their nut in?”


 


Callum and Kyle, followed by the Marauders walked through the portrait hole, all walking towards Amelie, Dorcas and Lily.


 


Dorcas jumped up immediately. “Y-”


 


Lily cut in, “N-no-one. Yeah, that’s right! No-one.”


 


Amelie shook her head in disappointment. They had lived with her for how many years – and they still couldn’t lie properly. “You two are pathetic liars, you know that,” she said, putting her quill down, arching her back in the chair and stretching her legs as she yawned. “We were thinking of pulling a prank on the professors, and Dori here came up with the idea of taking all their clothes hostage for a day. As much as I like it, I fancy getting out of this school alive, and without seeing Slughorn naked, so I’m veto-ing.”


 


Sirius snickered. “But Amelie, love, we all know you’re a fabulous liar.”


 


Everyone held their breath, expecting the worst.


 


Amelie simply smirked, turning her head slowly to face Sirius, who smirked back. Licking her lips slowly, she raised her eyebrow, looking the boy in the eye.


 


“Prove it.”


 


Sirius’ smirk widened, loving the intensity of the gaze and the challenge of her words offered. Amelie held the gaze, feeling a jolt somewhere in her navel. Suddenly, she was overcome with a sudden urge to throw herself at him. It wasn’t her style at all, but she didn’t mind. Her legs were centimetres away from Sirius’. Using their length to her advantage, she wrapped them both around one of his, reeling him in like a fish on a hook.


 


“How?” he whispered, his breath sending shivers down her spine.


 


‘Two can play at that game,’  


 


“Amuse me,” she taunted, feeling his body tense as she let her finger run the length of his body. She could almost feel the apprehension radiating from him – thinking of the last time he had been in the same position. Her smirk widened.


 


Sirius needed no more invitation. He swept in, slowly, teasingly kissing her neck, feeling her body warm up to his. All of Amelie’s feelings over the past week or so came out in a rush of hormones as she arched her back, rubbing her body against his, friends long forgotten.


 


Leaving her neck, Sirius began kissing her lips, each more passionate and demanding than the last. He pinned her to the couch, her legs wrapped around his waist as his hand felt its way up under Amelie’s shirt. His touch on her skin sent Amelie reeling, causing her to let out a soft moan. Feeling that it was only fair that she should reciprocate the favour, she did the same, allowing her hands to explore the length of the boy’s incredibly defined physique. She felt the boy shudder against her, lips parting as a small moan escape them.


 


“OH MY GOD!”


 


The sudden shriek tore the two apart at the lips (though their legs were still firmly entwined within each others), as they looked around to see what had just happened, only to see seven shocked faces staring at them, and one accusatory finger pointing their way from Dorcas.


 


“Well,” said Peter, looking white as a sheet. “I don’t think any of us saw that happening.”


 


Amelie’s face was blank. She had not moved. She didn’t want to, to be honest. Fact was, she felt oddly comfortable for someone who was pinned to an armchair. 


 


Sirius smirked, and turned back around. He leaned closer to her, lips brushing against her skin as he whispered, “You’re gonna say you hate me, now?”


 


Turning around, she looked straight into his misty grey eyes, trying to discern what he was feeling. Nothing. She couldn’t see anything. Her heart dropped.


 


“Yup,” she whispered back, her breath caressing his ear, eyes never leaving his. 


 


He turned to look at her straight in the eye. “Well, there you go,” he said, before walking out of the portrait hole, leaving Amelie behind, confused, hurt and alone once more.


 







Okay, so some more Sirius/Amelie action there… and a bit more Sirius/Amelie history for you too. Hope you liked it! Please don’t forget to review… even if it’s to tell me that you didn’t like the story or the chapter. (Though if you did please tell me why - I want to know how I can improve!) Don’t forget to give favourite quotes. Thanks to everyone who reviews in advance.



Chapter 8: A Question of Thrones, Burnt Egos and Unfulfilled Requirements
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


[A/N] *clears throat*  Attention, please. If you haven’t read the edited version of chapter 1, I would strongly recommend you do so, as it has some very important background knowledge, as well as me wanting to know exactly how much better it is than my original. Haha. Now, that’s enough of that. Here’s chapter 8!





Egotism is the anaesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity – Frank Leahy



“Hit the bloody bludger properly, would you, Black?!”

 

“I don’t see you doing it, Avery!”

 

James Potter, quidditch captain Nazi of the hippy era, had decided to start training his team up early this year. Too early, would be the words of the remaining six players on his team. It seemed that his love for the sport had taken new heights since their last practice, forcing the Gryffindor team’s training before the earth had been given the chance to cool itself down from the summer heat.

 

Now, barely two weeks of term gone, seven scarlet-clad figures could be seen zooming up and down the quidditch pitch, hoping against hope that their valiant efforts to out-run the still air around them would summon a non-existent breeze that would somehow cool them down. Tempers were indeed running high, none of them quite comprehending how their captain could be so – energetic in the sweltering heat.

 

Amelie, having retreated to ignoring Black as much as possible after the should-be-embarrassing (but oddly-upsetting) events of a few nights back, felt even angrier than the rest. Though she adored quidditch and the sense of freedom that nothing else but a broom-ride could give her, the fact of the matter was that it did, indeed, mean working side by side with the other Gryffindor beater, who, cruelly enough, was none other than Sirius Black.


To top it all off, Black was off form, allowing a stray bludger to slip past his bat and barely skim Amelie’s left ear.


“Bit hard, seeing as I was looking the other way for the other bludger,” Amelie spat back, voice teetering as it fought to remain calm.


Amelie thanked the stars above as she saw Sirius flying off in a huff: she didn’t think that she could contend with yet another confrontation.


‘There’s a good boy,’
she thought, snickering in her mind as she thought of Sirius as a dog. ‘He’d make a ruddy scary one, he would.’


“Right now, Travers, you get over here with Hedges. Us three are going to practice that formation I told you about. Croft - see if you can block us. Sirius, you get up there, stop being a twat and help Avery keep these bludgers away from us. Callum – keep looking for that snitch.”


Sirius looked up at his friend in indignation, mouth hanging open in disbelief. Amelie chuckled, relishing the fact that Sirius’ pride was suffering huge blows – and by none other than James Potter – his best friend and partner in crime. However, she was silenced by a cold look from Callum, who had, together with Kyle, finally gotten round to giving Amelie a good talking to about a week beforehand.


As she had known it would be, the experience was far from pleasant. Kyle and Callum do not shout, scream or cause a scene. Nor do they throw tantrums or run off in a hissy fit. When the two boys are angry, they show nothing but pure, unadulterated disappointment.


And that was exactly what happened. Amelie was sat down on the sofa opposite the fire in the Gryffindor common room, forced to sit through and listen to an entire lecture on how they never expected her to sink to the level that she had, and how upset they were that she hadn’t listened to them beforehand. How they felt betrayed and hurt that she thought so little of their advice, and though they hated to say it, they hoped that the months worth of detentions that she got would at least knock some sense into her, because they hadn’t seemed to have been able to.


Though the three were still on talking terms, Amelie was painfully conscious of her demeanour around them, trying hard not to make them even more frustrated with her. They had an odd way of making a person feel bad, those two did, but there were no doubts in regards to the method’s efficiency: Amelie was living proof that the technique was anything but flawed. 


Sighting a speeding bludger that was making its’ destructive way towards the well-coordinated chasers, Amelie flew at full tilt. She swung her bat, throwing all her weight forward with it, glad to hear the dull thunk, and watch as said debauched ball was hurled to the other side of the quidditch pitch.


She allowed herself a slight smirk of satisfaction. She was good.

And she knew it.

 

“Thanks, Amy!” called a relieved chaser from a few metres back.

 

“No probs, Liv!” 

 

The Gryffindor quidditch team had been particularly unlucky the past few years. It was common knowledge that they had the best team in the school, though timely scrapes from the other houses had managed to snatch the cup out of their hands for three years in a row. Currently, Ravenclaw were defending the title.

 

Being renowned for their wit and high grades, and now, supposedly, their prowess on the quidditch pitch, the Ravenclaws had become almost unbearable this year. Walking around the school with a new-found swagger in their steps, the Gryffindors were hard-put to hate them less than the Slytherins, which was, indeed, saying something.

 

“Come on, Sirius! Beaumont’ll whoop our arses with the bludger like that if you don’t watch it!”

 

A stray bludger from the other side of the pitch had somehow managed to worm its way towards Callum, who was forced into an odd, pirouette-like movement at the last moment to avoid the shame of having a mutilated arm so early in the season.

 

“Sorry,” Sirius muttered, shaking his head like a dog ridding itself of water, shaggy black hair flopping from side to side out of his misty grey eyes.

 

Amelie allowed a small smile to creep up on her face at the sight, only for it to be swept away as Sirius’ eyes looked up and met hers. She felt a jolt somewhere in the pit of her stomach, but the embarrassment accompanying it was too strong. She turned her face away, continuing to pursue the bludgers.

 

‘That git. That fucking git. Why does he have to be so bloody confusing all the time? Why can’t he just go fuck some random whore and leave me alone? Bastard.’

 

Viciously she flew, hammering each bludger with such ferocity that the muscles in her arms ached, but she didn’t care. All her frustration, anger at being shown up, at being snubbed after finally coming to grips with her emotions, anger at each and every one of the degrading vulnerabilities that had come to surface far too often recently were slowly escaping through the outlet that she had come to call quidditch.

 

The best sport on Earth.


Each time the bat met the bludger, the effort she put into the swing, the deliberation with which she hit the malevolent little bugger of a ball, vented off a little bit more of her anger and replaced it with sadistic satisfaction. Amelie had been through way too many ordeals, too many put-downs and taunts to let something as trivial as Sirius Black to get her down. 


The sodding git. 


“Amy! Tone it down a bit, would you? You’re going to do your hand in if you carry on hitting the bludger like that,” called James, eyeing the feral girl with wary apprehension after a particularly brutal shot.

 

Amelie, anger still way beyond the point of taming by humane reasoning, showed her appreciation of her captain’s sentiments by hammering the bludger with terrific force only inches from James’ leg.

 

All in all, it was safe to say that Amelie wasn’t feeling her mental best that day.


James, in shock, stared at the defiant girl whose dark eyes threatened to consume him.

 

“I do not need you looking after me, James!”


James stared in disbelief.

 

“You know what, Amy? I’m going to talk to you after practice… there’s just too much to discuss with you, and it’s not going to cut into our practice time. Now, you either listen to what I tell you as your captain, or you can go do your charms homework if that’s what you’d rather be doing.”

 

The captain swooped off, leaving Amelie to feel angry and bashful. Of course she didn’t prefer charms to quidditch – what a stupid presumption. But no, she shouldn’t have snapped at the boy. Technically, it was his duty to look after his players – however much it irked her to have someone breathing down her neck, scrutinizing her every move. For that’s exactly how it had felt. She had been so submerged in her own personal thoughts when she had hit the bludger, his shout had caught her off-guard, making her feel vulnerable, as if she had laid her secrets bare in front of him. 


Oh, how she hated feeling so bloody exposed! Sod the lot of them.

 

After that, training passed in a mundane haze of angry bludgers, fluttering snitches and inert quaffles. Amelie continued, tirelessly pressing on, forcing her broom forwards until she had no energy left. Somehow, she had lodged it in her brain that the more she worked, the less there would be to worry about… the less to think about… the freer she would be.

 

If only freedom was so easy to come by. But it wasn’t – Amelie had a whole lifetime of proof for that one. She was well aware that she could try all she wanted, and yet she would never really free. Her past would always haunt her. Oh how she envied her friends who could do what they wanted without a care in the world, who would go out and have a laugh over the summer, who couldn’t wait for it to be Christmas just so they could run back to their mummy’s and daddy’s and little baby brother’s. How she envied the lucky bastards who thought that being grounded for overspending meant that their family needed counselling.

 

If only they could swap places for just one day, just one, tiny, little day – but no-one would. And, however upset Amelie was in regards to her home life, she would never wish the same upon anyone else. It was more than enough that one person had experienced the trauma.

 

The team showered, enjoying the sensation of the scorching hot water scrubbing the grime and sweat off of their grubby bodies.

 

“Oi! Amy! Is this one yours?” Olivia Hedges, the fourth year chaser asked, indicating to the hair band in her palm. The sweet, brown-eyed quidditch player had an unfortunate streak of losing her accessories frequently.

 

Amelie flicked back her wet hair, examining the hair-band. “Nope, take it if you want.”

 

“Okay then,” said the young girl, quickly using tying up her dirty blonde hair into a messy ponytail.

 

The intense training session, together with the heat had rendered them all exhausted. The team soon after, trod up to the Gryffindor tower. James, however sat, leaning back on a bench, anxiety written all over his face as he watched the girl in front of him.


“What’s up, Amy?”

 

Amelie determinedly avoided the hazel eyes that probed for answers as she replied. “What do you mean, James? Nothing’s up. I just don’t like people watching my back all the time, that’s all.”


James snorted. “Don’t give me that tosh. I’ve been your captain for how many years now and you’ve never come out with something like that. You know it’s my job to make sure you don’t injure yourself – if something happened to do you, or anyone else for that matter, McGonagall’ll have my head.”

 

“Yeah, I do. But it’s nothing James.”

 

“You’re hiding something.”       


“Since when have you been the legilimens, then?” Amelie asked mockingly, eyes blazing with irritation, lips curling into a sneer. “Yes, I’m hiding something. When people do that, James they generally mean that they don’t want people to know what they’re thinking. So, I’ll thank you to stop asking me questions when you know I won’t answer you.”


James sighed, holding his hands up. “Okay, okay, I’ll leave the quidditch questions – but I still have to talk to you. This is actually a bit, er, tricky, so to speak.” The boy looked oddly uncomfortable, scratching the back of his neck with a finely toned arm that Amelie duly noted as something that many a girl would drool over as she raised an eyebrow for him to continue with his monologue.

 

“Er, well, er, you see-”


Amelie, who, up until now was standing patiently, felt a sharp pang of annoyance at the boys’ sudden incapability of human speech.

 

“Oh just spit it out, will you?”


“It’s about Sirius.”


Amelie’s features darkened as she scowled. It was times like these that reminded everyone that she was an Avery. James gulped as he heard Amelie’s voice reduced to a whisper.


“What about him?”


“Er, um, well, I – he – he’s a bit out of it at the moment,” he muttered, wincing at how feeble he sounded. Surely he, as Gryffindor quidditch captain should show more grit when confronting a girl?


But this wasn’t just any girl. This was Amelie Avery – the sadistic beast. This was the girl who made Lily Evans look like a docile kitten by comparison.

 

She was not one to be messed with.


“And I care because?” she replied, voice somehow carrying so clear that James heard it as if he was right next to her.


“B-because I think it’s because of you,” James replied, slowly and cautiously looking up into Amelie’s black eyes, trying to discern her feelings on the matter without being beaten into pulp.


Amelie raised a brow in incredulity. “Why the fuck would it be because of me?” she said, pitch rising. “Your beater has problems with his co-ordination, leave me out of it!”



James scowled. A tense silence ensued, tempers dangerously high. Amy’s eyes had narrowed dangerously. She and James always got along perfectly – one word on Sirius they had been into mortal enemies, rapiers drawn and all. James looked frustrated, presumably over the fact that he couldn’t get his point across.


“This isn’t just about quidditch, Amy! Would you just listen? He’s been like this for two weeks now – acting like a sodding martyr or something. We’ve tried to talk him out of whatever it is. Technically, he hasn’t told us, but seeing as what happened two weeks ago…”

 

Amelie understood where the conversation was going, and then became indignant. That git! The nerve of him! His friend had the bloody cheek to leave her embarrassed and hurt, and now he had come to lay the blame on her!

 

“Oh, no, James! No, don’t you go putting this one on me. I was the victim this time, James and you know it! I was the one who was used – just so that sod could prove that I could lie. I mean how stupid could he be?! Everyone knew I could lie anyway!”


Noticing that her pitch was steadily rising, James decided to cut in.


“Theoretically, Amy, you did ask him to prove it to you,” he began. Amelie’s mouth was about to open in protest but he ploughed on, not giving her time to rant. “But it’s not about that. It’s just – well, you’ve been ignoring him, obviously, and I think he’s realised he was a bit harsh back there. I really think he’s regretting it.”

 

Amelie looked like she was fighting thousands of emotions off at once. She wanted to laugh at the possibility that Sirius might be the tiniest bit upset about her ignoring him and shocked that his best friend of all people thought that could actually happen. Did he honestly have no clue?


“Listen, James. I appreciate that you’re doing this out of concern for your friend, but I can’t possibly think why he’d be upset over me. We have fights every two days – we ignore each other for over half the school year! I mean, okay, we don’t really hate each other as much as we show we do, but – look, have you thought that maybe something else happened?”


“See!” James practically yelled in frustration. “You don’t hate each other as much as you let on… and I probably know Sirius more than his own mum. Well, that’s not saying much, but I know him a lot. The only thing he isn’t always really clear about when he’s talking to me is you two. Just for the record, I know about the summers and stuff, though he goes hazy on loads of the particulars. See, I don’t ask him about them stuff, but there’re only two reasons why Sirius wouldn’t tell me something.”

 

Amelie, intrigued (albeit reluctantly), allowed herself to look politely puzzled as she asked, “What reasons?”


“Well,” said James tentatively, staring into Amelie’s eyes, presumably for a reaction or something else of the sort, knowing very well that it was useless. Amelie’s face would only show emotions when she wanted it to. “Either it’s something that doesn’t have anything to do with him, or it’s because he’s not sure of it himself.”


Amelie felt a weird sensation in the pit of her stomach as she remembered her conversation with Kyle just a few weeks back.

 

‘I don’t exactly know…’


Oh, if only things had stayed that way. If only she still didn’t exactly know what was wrong with her. If only she was still woefully ignorant of how Black’s misty grey eyes made her-


“And?” Amelie asked, pushing herself out of her reverie.


James looked frozen for a while. Amelie’s eyes had glazed over – even if it was for two seconds. He was sure of it! This was a miracle!


He looked around, trying to make sure that nothing else had happened: no angels descending from the skies, the lake not parting for any congregation to pass through, no celestial voices serenading them from the heavens. The boy slowly exhaled in relief. One at a time was more than enough.


“Well… both of them prove that you two are far closer than you let on. I mean, I don’t think I’d be surprised if you knew a few things about him that Ididn’t know,” James said earnestly.


Amelie stood and walked away from James, trying to reign in the emotions that were fighting to explode out of her. She wanted to cry, scream, shout – anything. It was strange how a simple confrontation from a friend could affect her more than the constant beatings from the brute who had wedged his place into her family. Strange how a friend could beat something home to you without even realising that they were. How, sometimes, they thought that they were doing good, and were slowly killing you on the inside.


She knew Sirius all right – the mischievous look in his eyes when he thought of a particularly entertaining way to tease the greasy Slytherin by the name of Snape, the way his eyebrows furrowed and he twisted his mouth when he was pondering something, the way he threw back his head and let his elegant black locks fall over his grey eyes when he let out that bark-like laugh of his. But that side everybody knew. Amelie was different. She wasn’t everybody. She knew the way his body would stiffen when he was angry, the way his eyes went hollow and lifeless when he was upset and brooding.


Sirius was a thing unto himself. He was adamant on somehow gaining his freedom. Sixteen years of Black-family-torture had not quenched his thirst – no, need to be free. The boy was not one for being held down, and Amelie knew it. The worst thing anyone could do when they saw a frustrated, angry Sirius would be to mollycoddle him and tell him everything would be okay, or to harass him for questions on what happened. All Sirius needed was someone to be there physically. If he wanted to talk, he would. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t: simple as that. When you were with a moody Sirius, he dictates the rules.


And Amelie, ever the leader, somehow didn’t mind giving up the throne for Sirius every once in a while. Had it been anyone else, she would have put them back down in their place at once, but Sirius was – different. By handing over the title of leader, she allowed herself to sit in the back seat for a while, enjoying the view.


She couldn’t help it: she trusted Sirius with the throne.


So why did she treat him like she did at school? Why did she so carelessly push him away at every chance without any regard over how he’d feel over it? Why, when they were so close?


It hurt her to think of why it hurt him. Sirius. He had been hurting, too. There was no other explanation for it. Why else would he be so distant from James – his partner in crime, his brother? Why was she doing this to him when he went through more than enough pain at home?


Oh, sod this! Why does everything have to be so confusing?


“Amy?”


James’ soft call brought Amelie back down to Earth. She felt an unfamiliar constricting feeling in her throat, and knew she had to get out of there at once. She pushed past her confused but extremely anxious quidditch captain, running full pelt up to the Room of Requirement on the seventh floor. It was early evening on a weekend, and she didn’t fancy the hustle and bustle of the Gryffindor tower.



‘I need somewhere where I can be alone…’ she thought, running three times past the stretch of wall that soon turned into a door. Grabbing the handle, she flung herself inside, slammed the door shut behind her, leaning her back against it, and let out a long, shaky breath. 


“Cal-lum!”


Dorcas was sitting on a desk in the common room, legs swinging as she yelled the names of her two friends who had just made it back from practice annoyingly. Alice held her hands over her ears, trying, and failing, to rid her eardrums of the pain of that supernatural pitch.

 

“Ky-le!”


“Oh, hush up, Dory, you’re doing our heads in.” snapped Lily, who was extremely flustered after only having written four feet for her essay on the correct composition of a Befuddlement Draught. “How was practice, Callum?”


“Same old, really. James being the obsessive nut he is, driving us all to insanity. Honestly, which sane captain would make their team play in this weather?”


“Mate, James is not sane. Remember the time when he admitted to buying all the house-elves little “Thank-you” cards for their ‘services to the Marauders’?”

 

Callum snorted. “Course! Oh – but you got to admit that the Potter rendition of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall was a classic.”


Lily put her face down and bit on to her lip to hide the smile that was creeping up her face as she fought not to envisage the scene. Potter singing Pink Floyd?! She didn’t even know he knew that Pink Floyd existed, let alone to know him well enough to actually do a make-shift performance on him. So bloody fitting for him to have chosen that particular song… To her horror, her reaction didn’t go past Dorcas, who could, on occasion, be very perceptive – damn her.


“Lily! You’re smirking!”


Any hint of amusement was wiped off the girls’ face within a millisecond. “No, I was not! How could you-you imply that! That was totally uncalled for, Dorcas!”


Looking at the four shocked faces around her, Lily’s facial expressions once again went through a rapid change, but this time, from anger to horror. She moaned. “I totally over-exaggerated, didn’t I?”


Her three friends nodded, still with blank faces.


“Right. Great. Never mind me. I’m going upstairs to finish this – too much noise.” With that, she picked up her scrolls of parchment, swung her bag around her shoulder and swooped up the stairs towards the girls dormitories.


“Random,” muttered Kyle.


“Yup,” replied Callum succinctly, both still with glazed eyes.


 “Not really,” said Alice, looking up from over a novel that she was reading.


“Eh?” asked Callum, looking extremely confused.


Alice sighed, placing her bookmark on the page she was on and closing her book.


Turning around, she faced the two boys, and ushered them to sit on the seats opposite her so that she could elaborate.


“Now, you two, what I’m going to tell you is sacred information. Why I’m telling you to it, I have no idea – I guess it might be ‘cos however stupid you can be sometimes, you’re our idiots and we know you can be trusted. So please, for your own lives’ sake, keep this information low. If Lily finds out I told you – well, let’s just say I’ll have the house-elves to test our food for the rest of our lives.”


The two boys nodded, looking slightly confused, wanting to know what was wrong with their red-headed friend. Dorcas continued the story.


“Well, you see last year? Yeah, well Lily came up one day to the dorm and she was like how she really needed to tell us something. And we were all confused and stuff, because, I mean, Lily looked really weird – like she’d been running away from summat. Any-hoo, so we sit down and she says she thinks she might like Potter.”

 

At this, the two boys’ jaws dropped. Simultaneously, they thrust their right index finger into their ears to try and rid it of wax.


“WHAT?!”


“Keep it down!” reprimanded Alice. “You’re telling me you lot didn’t see it coming? Me and Amy had a bet down since beginning of fourth year. She won, damn her. I put ten galleons down for her confessing this year.”


Callum looked indignant. “You had a bet on and you didn’t tell us!”


Dorcas moped. “They didn’t tell me, either!”


“Well,” said Callum, looking hesitantly at the overly-emotional Dorcas. “Er – its okay, Dor. I’m sure they didn’t mean to exclude you.” At this, he gave Alice a meaningful stare, as if daring her to say any different. Dorcas wasn’t renowned for keeping secrets to herself – especially if she knew the person the secret was about. Her hyperactivity seemed to cut her off the track of rational thinking, eliminating any thoughts of possible morality that may have once existed in her crazy head.


“Anyway,” said Kyle, flapping his arms impatiently, wanting to know more. “So, what happened? That was last year. Why hasn’t she gone out with him, then?”


Alice looked down sadly. “Because of what happened afterwards. Practically a day later was our Defence writing exam.”


The two boys winced. Neither asked what happened that day. Neither asked what had made her change her decision as soon as she made it. That day last year was practically part of Hogwarts legend: far too much had been on display that day, quite figuratively. “Ouch.”


“Exactly. And since then, she’s gone back into denial.” 


Dorcas giggled. “Says neither her body nor soul is capable of liking someone with such a huge head.”


Callum let out a low whistle. This had to be the biggest secret ever to be kept inside the walls of Hogwarts. If anyone found out about this, the place would surely explode with a flurry of excitement, shock and – in the case of several infatuated girls – tears. However tempting it sounded to wreak havoc on the Hogwarts social scene, out of compassion for Lily, the boys decided to keep their mouths shut - that and the fact that Lily would chop off certain parts of their anatomy without a seconds’ hesitation if she knew it was them who had betrayed her secret.


Just as Alice began to open her mouth, a down-trodden James entered the common room.


“Hi, you lot,” he mumbled, slumping down into the soft armchair by the fire. “You seen Sirius, Remus or Peter anywhere?”


“Hey,” said Alice. “I think Remus and Peter went to the kitchens – haven’t seen Sirius since before training. What kept you?”


“Ah, I was just chatting to Amy.”


“Eh?” asked Callum. “How come?”


James shook his head. “It’s nothing big. But…” the boy sighed, looking dejected. “Well, I thought it wasn’t. Sirius – well, I guess you’ve seen he’s been a bit odd lately.”

 

The four nodded their heads.


“Yeah…” Alice started, thinking about the past few weeks. “Since that day they’ve both been a tad touchy, haven’t they? I mean, it’s not exactly unexpected, though, is it?” 


“No…” they all muttered, deep in thought.


Kyle felt uneasy. He was the only one who really knew about Amelie and Sirius. As he had suspected, James looked like he knew a few things too, though perhaps not as much. Kyle hadn’t forgotten the look on Amelie’s face as she recounted the conversations and banters she and Sirius shared over the summers, and the way she constantly defended Sirius when she knew he was no-where near. Before, Kyle had thought it was just because she wanted to rid herself of the guilt of getting involved with him, but now he knew better. It went so much deeper.


Many people would probably find it weird to know that Amelie could care for someone. After all, she was generally so feisty. Kyle admired how the girl had still managed to open a place in her heart, cram a whole bunch of people in and be able to call them her friends, despite all that had happened to her. After all of the trauma in her life, she could have easily hid behind everyone and let the world take over, but Amelie just wasn’t one to sit back and let the other’s have hog the spotlight. She’d be sure to make her presence was known, whatever the situation. That was just the person she was.


And here was this girl, who was so determined to show her position in the world, caring about Sirius Black – the very person who she had not yet a year ago had in a very painful-looking front quarter-nelson. Because that was just it.



Amelie cared.


Sirius Black was pacing along the many corridors of Hogwarts, not really paying heed to where he was heading, or, if indeed he was heading anywhere. His thoughts were confused, his brain jumbled, and it reflected in his performance: it was lacking - both on the Quidditch pitch and in life, and he was well aware of it. 


Life at home that summer had become almost unbearable, with him mainly spending his time trying to keep out of shooting-range of his parents’ wands, who had recently taken up the hobby of randomly hexing him from behind for the fun of it. Regulus, now a Slytherin, had become determined to look down on the boy he had once held in so much awe. The thought of his brothers’ betrayal cut deeply into Sirius’ heart. Anytime he and Sirius passed in the corridors now, the younger Slytherin would ignore his brother completely, acting as if he hadn’t a clue in the world that a blood relative of his had just passed within a metre of him.


If only Regulus could have been a bit stronger. If only he could have helped him to think differently.


But his parents had been careful enough to keep their eldest son away from Regulus, not wanting him to influence their youngest son and only hope for redemption in the pureblood society they prided themselves as being a part of. Upon hearing that Regulus had in fact turned out a Slytherin, they patted themselves on the back as a job well done. They had successfully singled out their eldest child.


What did they care if he didn’t have anywhere to turn to?


Sirius kicked the foot of a nearby staircase, trying to vent off his confusion and frustration. Would it have been easier if he had been alone? Would it all have been simpler if he hadn’t ever been introduced to Amelie?


He just couldn’t understand how he’d come to be at this point where he was now – how he’d become so arrogant towards her that he’d practically obliterated any remnants of the friendship that he clung to over the summers.


Though wasn’t that what happened every year? Wasn’t that what they always did – act like complete gits to one another (and most of the other kids in school) all year, only to practically cling to each other, each using the other as shelter from their relatives during the holidays?


But why? Why did he feel the need to act like she was a conquest when she was always so much more? They were each others’ sanctuary; a haven from the evils that surrounded them both. When they were being hunted down like meagre mice by a flock of sharp-eyed vultures, they would help each other scurry to a place of safety, neither leaving without the other – because, really, what would they be otherwise? How would they survive?


They couldn’t.


He wanted to kick himself, punch himself – do whatever he could to relieve the anger coursing inside him. How could he have been so stupid for hurting her like that? He knew her. He knew how she hated to be put down – hated to be reminded that she was a failure like her dad always told her she was.


Well, her step-dad, really.


Sirius’ shoes echoed as they tapped rhythmically on the cold marble floor as they headed towards the seventh floor corridor. The sun had finally gone down, leaving the building and grounds to cool in its absence. He desperately needed somewhere where he could be alone, just to think… just to rid himself of all the thoughts and feelings… those feelings that had swept into his stomach as soon as Amelie’s piercing black eyes caught his on the quidditch pitch…



‘I need somewhere where I can be alone…’


Opening the door, he realised that for the first time in its history, the Room of Requirement had not been able to fulfil a prerequisite.





[A/N]Gave me quite a bit of grief this one did, so I’d be very grateful for reviews on this! Please don’t forget to check up on this story… I do promise more action soon. Next chapter is a bit more… frivolous, shall we say? Hehe. Now, thanks to everyone who’s ever reviewed (and will review *hehe *) this story, and a huge thanks to everyone who has added it to their favourites! Shout out to ASmilingGrim, Ink Laden Quill, Plata, Malfoy_Lives_On, tootsiemuffin, Riddle Wood Lupin, and Up And Away for adding me as their favourite author (although I don’t think I deserve it *blushes *). ~joojoo





A good friend can tell you what is the matter with you in a minute. He may not seem such a good friend after telling. – Arthur Brisbane



“Come on, Lily!” said Alice, heaving her friend by the arm, trying to pry her from her groove in the comfortable armchair by the fire. “You don’t need to drink – just watch us and make sure we don’t so anything so stupid!”

 

“B-but I want to go see where Amy is!”

 

After the serious conversation about Amelie, the sixth year Gryffindors decided that they needed something to lighten the mood. The three Marauders (excluding Sirius, who had mysteriously not yet returned from training – a topic that James would not comment on) had ingeniously decided upon getting out the alcohol. Lily, who desperately wanted to go on a hunt across Hogwarts for her friend to check on her, felt torn between wanting to see how she was and joining the rest of the Gryffindors in annihilating common room in a drunken furore. She bit her lip. It was a really tough decision.

 

“Look Lily, Amy’s more than capable of fending for herself. I doubt there’d even be much for you to do for here even if you do manage to find her. Just come here and chill with us, okay? You’ve worked through shit loads today – you need a break.” Callum’s slow persuasion, together with Lily’s logic did the trick. She was forced to give in, nodding. James’ face broke into a huge grin.

 

“Excellent! Now let me go get the goodies!”

 

Quick as a flash, James bounded up the stairs to the boys’ dormitories. Dorcas clapped her hands in excitement, feeling the sudden change of atmosphere. Peter plonked himself down on a one-seater sofa, just as Remus and Callum set down on a particularly comfy three-seater. The excited girl could only respond by throwing herself across the last two, sprawled across their laps.

 

“Hello, there!” said Remus, grinning down at the energetic girl whose torso rested across his legs.

 

Callum, who, in his opinion, had no need to be polite with Dorcas, poked her in the side. “Get up, you lump! You’re arse is too heavy for my skinny legs!”

 

“Oi!” squealed Dorcas, not appreciating the comment or the nudge. “My arse is not fat!”

 

“I beg to differ!”

 

With a ‘humph’, Dorcas turned round, now tactically ignoring the boy who insulted her. Looking around to find someone more sympathetic, she saw that everyone was fighting to hold back their laughter – even Remus.

 

“Oi, Remy boy! I’m on your lap. You best stop laughing if you don’t want any serious damage done to you.”

 

Remus’ fought to keep his poker face, hiding the new-found terror that had suddenly surfaced inside him as he looked down at the usually-restless girl. He hadn’t thought her capable of delivering such a threat.

 

“You wouldn’t.”

 

Dorcas snickered. “Oh my darling, Remus! I’ve lived with Amy and Lily for five years. You really want to try me?”

 

Kyle, Alice and Peter were all enjoying the entertainment provided by their suddenly daring friend, and their other discomfited one.

 

“Looks a bit peaky, don’t he?” Peter asked, nudging Kyle.

 

“I’ll say,” snorted Alice.

 

Just as Remus was about to open his mouth with a witty retort to defend his manly honour, he was cut short by the sudden arrival of a certain messy-haired, bespectacled boy levitating what looked like a years supply of beverages.


 


 “Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!”

 


 


“Sirius?”

 

Upon the threshold Sirius stood, looking into the Room of Requirement. A shocked whisper carried across towards him, as if by some cool, midnight breeze. Considering what he was staring at, though, the breeze was not so incongruous.

 

Rigid with disbelief, the boy looked up, surprised to see a certain girl with slightly messed-up pitch black hair and puffy red eyes staring up at him in shock, leaning her back against an ancient-looking tree.

 

Amelie was stiff with incredulity. She felt as if the breath had been knocked out of her lungs, flabbergasted to see the boy that was standing upon the threshold of her hideout. There she had been, one second alone, pouring her heart out into the nothingness of the only place that ever brought her comfort when the world brought her down, only to be interrupted by the very person who she could not bare to look at.

 

But then had were their eyes locked?

 

Why couldn’t she break the gaze?

 

“A-a..”

 

His tongue was stuck in his mouth, he couldn’t speak. The situation was unprecedented; bizarre. All thoughts of frustration and anger momentarily evaporated as he saw the – there was not other word for it – vulnerable girl in front of him.

 

‘How on Earth?’

 

Amelie had transformed from the feisty lioness into something as meek as a mouse. Her wavy locks were tangled in odd angles around her sculpted face, as if she had ran her hands through them too much; whether it was from frustration or grief, he did not know. Her eyes stared up at him in a silent plea, half begging him to up and leave, the other hoping beyond hope that he would stay by her. The latter awoke a sudden protective feeling, which surged through him. At that moment, he wanted to do nothing but to stay by her, tell her that he was truly sorry for being such a div, and that she shouldn’t waste her tears on whatever it was that was upsetting her, for really, it wasn’t worth it - whatever it was.

 

Acting upon these sudden impulses, Sirius somehow found himself next to the frazzled girl. A wave of guilt submerged him, making him hate himself. How could he have let her become like this? Why hadn’t he been there to keep her sane, like had become habit for them? Why had he left her alone?

 

“What’s wrong?” he whispered, gently pushing Amelie’s hair behind her ear, still not breaking the eye-contact. The connection between them was so intense, Amelie found it hard to breathe. Her breath hitched in her throat as she fought to say something – anything. But what was she to say? She was embarrassed for her behaviour, for letting him down. She was embarrassed of her escapades in the Hogwart’s broom cupboards: they were nothing but cowardice, nothing but her trying to run away from something that would one day inevitably catch up to her.

 

She turned away from him, looking down. The constricted feeling in her throat indicated that a rush of tears was heading her way, but she wouldn’t let them out. Not in front of Sirius.

 

Inhaling deeply a few times, she turned back around, averting his eyes and trying to keep her voice steady.


“I- I’m fine, Sirius.”

 

“Oh, pull the other leg, Amy,” he said, voice disbelieving and yet soothing at the same time. He slung an arm over her shoulders, providing her some bodily support. She snuggled into his shoulder, and Sirius couldn’t help but realise just how perfect she felt next to him.

 

‘How the bugger manages to do it, I’ll never know,’ they both thought, albeit each for different reasons.

 

“Why are you here?” she asked. Her voice would have been barely audible if it wasn’t for the fact that she was but centimetres away from him. It carried no hint of a threat, annoyance, nor, in fact, any other emotion. The simple question was merely intended to quench her curiosity.

 

“Just wanted to get rid of some stuff in my head,” the boy stated simply.

 

Amelie’s fingers played with the hem of Sirius’ shirt in an innocent manner as she mumbled an “Mm?” to prod him along with explaining himself.

 

“Yeah. Lotsa stuff been going on lately, you know?”

 

“Care to share?”

 

Sirius smirked, putting on his best pure-blood snob voice – a game of theirs that they took the liberty of participating during the summers. “I guess I’ll have to now that you’ve reduced yourself to employing the use of such utterly mundane and derivative expressions.”

 

Amelie snorted, shaking her head.

 

“That’s not at all lady-like you know,” said Sirius, indicating the snort.

 

“Oh, and, of course I’m a right madam, aren’t I?” snickered Amelie. “Besides, it was bloody fitting and you know it.”

 

The light banter came to them both naturally as each tried to skirt around the topic that so desperately needed to be discussed. Each danced circles around the other, slowly creeping closer and closer, both knowing that they’d inevitably meet up in the middle before long. What was waiting for them there, they both wanted to know and didn’t. Neither wanted to be the first to take the step and that could possibly shatter their delicate – for want of a better word - friendship, even if it could be the step that would make it into something so much more… useful. Yet, at the same time, both of them were burning inside.

 

“Look at you, Amy,” Sirius went on, in mock-patronizing tones. “Awful waste of a face… what are those bags doing underneath your eyes? You really need to get rid of the baggage in your life. Doesn’t do a thing for your complexion.”

 

Amelie grinned cheekily. “I’m sorry, Sirius, but you’re just too hard to get rid of.”

 

Sirius’ snort of protest was drowned by Amelie’s ongoing sermon.

 

“…clingy, almost like the giant squid… you should be happy it’s me, you know. Anyone else and theyd’ve already been asking for a restraining order. Besides, large quantities of Amelie isn’t good for anyone, you should know that by now.”

 

“Really? And why is that?”

 

“Too much of a good thing, you know… leads to giddiness, recklessness, and dangerous overconfidence.”

 

“Isn’t that the same for felix felicis?”

 

“Exactly - you must have had good luck to be with me for long without being blown apart or shouted at.”

 

Sirius sighed and began in a condescending manner, “I’m sorry, darling, but I’m already reckless and dangerously over-confident, so I’m immune.”

 

Amelie smirked. “What about the giddiness?”

 

“Well, that comes when I sit next to you.”

 

Amelie snorted again. “You really have to stop it with these unbearably cheesy lines. Does nothing for you, Sirius.”

 

“No, I mean it,” said Sirius. His face was stern, but his eyes were twinkling with mischief. “I feel a fever coming on.”

 

Amelie bit hard on her lip, trying desperately not to laugh. She couldn’t believe it. This boy was just too good.

 

“Oh, really?” she asked, voice laced with amusement.

 

“Yes, it’s terribly awful. You see, I have this funny feeling in my stomach that just won’t go away.” Sirius moved closer to Amelie, their faces millimetres apart. “And I have an awful hunch that I’m going to do something downright reckless.”

 

“Funny,” whispered the girl. “I feel the same.”

 

Their lips met in a rough, demanding kiss, each of them brutally threatening the other to stop. Sirius knew that this was doing nothing in helping him find out what was wrong with Amelie, but he let temptation take over him. Pinning Amelie down on the damp grass beneath her, his touches intensified, grinding her down into the ground beneath her. Their breath ragged, they continued, Amelie desperately clinging on to Sirius for her own sanity. At that moment, she knew he had her completely, and there was nothing she could do about it.

 

His coarse hands found their way to her inner thigh, holding it down violently in a way that sent her whole body shivering. Her shaking ones found their way to his belt, yanking it off violently as her cravings trebled. Hastily she stripped down his trousers just as he ripped off her shirt, yanking her body towards him.


 Skin clashed on skin, mouth locked on mouth, tongue and hands exploring places neither knew existed. Sirius had hungrily torn off Amelie’s skirt, and had by now a firm grip on her small waist. Her arms enveloped him, smooth hands on his strong back, her back arched and she pushed herself into him, unable to control herself.

 

Emboldened by each other’s actions, Sirius began to snatch at her undergarments just as she had pulled his off. Not in the least embarrassed by their nakedness in the rush of emotions and desires they were feeling, Amelie ran her hand through Sirius’ hair, only to yank it down, bringing his face closer to hers. He started from the edge of her lips, kissing downwards, her neck, chest, midriff, and all Amelie could feel was need. This was doing nothing for her.

 

“Sirius,” she cried, unable to control herself anymore.

 

He needed no more invitation. Tearing her legs open, Sirius lowered herself into her, and then felt nothing but pure bliss.


 


A few hours later found the two exhausted, lying next to each other; neither feeling bothered enough to cover up their nakedness. Amelie turned around, her body half on his as she looked up into his intense grey eyes.

 

“You better now?”

 

“Are you?”

 

Amelie sighed and turned around, staring up at the dark sky above her. So typical of Sirius… answering a question with a question.

 

“If you’re better, then so am I.”

 

To this, Sirius raised an eyebrow. “Wait, I don’t get that.”

 

Amelie brought her hand up above her, looking at it carelessly at her fingernails. “I wouldn’t expect you to.”

 

An absolute silence followed, filled with uncertainty, yet comfort; hope, yet despair; hate, yet… desire? Trust?

 

“Sorry about hurting you earlier,” Sirius said, looking away from her. Amelie allowed a faint smile to play across her lips. “You know, back in the common room that day.” Though he had slung out the comment like it was of no importance, Amelie felt that, if she wasn’t terribly mistaken, it was heartfelt.

 

“I’m sorry too,” she whispered. Seeing his confused expression, she continued. “For ignoring you all the time, acting like you’re scum. You deserve more than that.”

 

Sirius wanted to say that he didn’t care, that it was his problem. “Let’s just call it quits.”

 

He was never one for much talk.

 

“Agreed.”

 

Slowly pulling herself up, Amelie sat, looking around her patch in her garden for her clothes. It was strange how this place, even though it was in such proximity with the place she hated, would bring her so much comfort.

 

Once she had put on her bra and pants, she searched for her shirt. Upon finding it, she held it up incredulously, looking at Sirius.

 

“What the fuck did you do to my shirt?”

 

Sirius smiled guiltily. “Sorry, got a little carried away…”

 

Amelie looked down and the tattered rag, trying to find some words that would come together and form a decent sentence.

 

“Such an animal…”

 

 Sirius let out a bark-like laugh. “I’m sorry, dear lady, but I find that no way to talk to someone who has just satisfied your carnal desires.”

 

This time, Amelie smirked. “Carnal, now, were they?”

 

“I refuse to comment,”

 

“Oh, it’s okay, darling. I guess I’ll just have to walk to the common room with just a bra on…”

 

“What?” asked Sirius, laughing again. “You want to flash all the Slytherins? Does Snivellus push your buttons for you?”

 

Amelie looked repulsed by the mere possibility. “On second thought...” With a flick of her wand, the shirt was made perfectly serviceable once again and she buttoned it up.

 

“Aw, I was enjoying that,”

 

Amelie snickered, fastening an ornate white gold necklace onto her neck. “Tough luck, matey; can’t always get your way, you know?”

 

“Yes, yes… life’s tough and then you die. Tell me again, why don’t you?”

 

“Glad you’re catching on,” said Amelie, helplessly eyeing the perfectly sculpted body of the naked boy in front of her. She stared for a while, thinking why neither of them was running to the hills, hiding with embarrassment. For some reason, she had always thought that people were insecure and, well, a tad bit cautious first time round.

 

Why were things always so odd with them two?

 

Sirius coughed, and Amelie looked up to see him smirking.

 

“Pray tell, Miss Avery: Doest thou like what you doth see?”

 

Amelie laughed. “Get your arse up and get some clothes on. I think even Peter’ll have clogged on that neither of us are back yet.”

 

Resignedly pulling up his pants and trousers, Sirius chuckled. “Peter? Clog on? Never.”

 

“Oi! He’s your mate, you know! I shouldn’t be the one defending him here,” said Amelie, playfully nudging Sirius in his blissfully unclothed torso.

 

“Well then don’t.”

 

“Someone should.”

 

“You planning on founding the SPPL?”

 

“SPPL?”

 

“Yeah,” Sirius’ smile widened. “Society for the Protection of Pathetic Losers.”

 

“You’re terrible,”


 

“Ain’t I just…” he said, pulling his jumper on top of his shirt. Picking up his robes, he held out a hand for Amelie, leading her out into the realms of post-curfew Hogwarts.        



“We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!”

 

When Sirius and Amelie entered the Gryffindor common room, they had expected to be plagued by hoards of questions and accusations by their anxiously-worried friends. Not in the least bit jovial to be subjected to such an inquisition, Amelie had even taken a moment to compose herself before she had entered.

 

Nothing Amelie could have done would have prepared her for this.

 

Callum, Kyle, James, Peter, Remus, Dorcas and Lily had somehow charmed the common room into a Caribbean beach, complete with sand, sea and palm trees. In the very centre, they had created a mini-bonfire, around which they were dancing giddily and tittering like drunken loons.

 

But wait, they were drunken loons.

 

Each were holding bottles that looked remarkably like firewhiskey and rum…

 

“The bugger brought out our stash without me.”

 

Amelie whisked her head around to see Sirius, staring intently at a decidedly scatter-brained James Potter, who was taking a swig from his open bottle, arm linked in Lily’s.


Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.”

 

Amelie stared at her red-head friend in nothing short but utter shock. She was pissed out of her mind, tottering around, her own bottle in her hand, singing the pirate song with what looked like immense concentration. The girls seemed to have gone and put on wench-like clothes, Dorcas going as far as conjuring a plastic sword for herself. The boys were not much better, though. James had a peg-leg and bandana, whilst Callum and given himself an eye-patch, hooked hand and even hastily stuffed bandana on his head. Remus had somehow gotten hold of a colourful parrot and managed to charm it onto his shoulder in such a way that it wouldn’t move no matter how drunkenly he ambled about.

We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!
Maraud and embezzle and even hijack.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!”

 

Dorcas and Remus were in a corner. Amelie assumed that they were both incredibly busy, considering the amount of arms and legs that seemed to be thrashing everywhere. Callum, Peter and Kyle were pointing at each other and laughing, for no apparent reason, joining at random intervals with the song, though mumbling half the words because they didn’t know the words. Suddenly, she noticed that they were one man – or woman – short.

 

“Where’s Alice?”

 

“Dunno,”

“Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.
Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.”

 

Lily dragged James around the fire, both of them singing like dying cats and tottering around like cold fools, arms linked. Amelie would have stepped in, but frankly, she found that none of her body parts capable of functioning; her brain seemed to have gone blissfully blank as she merely stared at the scene unfold in front of her.

We kindle and char, inflame and ignite.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!
We burn up the city, we're really a fright.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!

Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.

We're rascals, scoundrels, villans and knaves.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!
We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs!
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!

Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.

We're beggars and blighters and ne'er-do-well cads.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!
Aye! But we're loved by our mummies and dads!
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!

Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.
Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.”

Lily’s enthusiastic ending caused her to trip up over her feet. Her hand was still firmly grasped around James’ wrist, who, in turn fell down with her.

 

No, on top of her.

 

“Why, hello there,” she slurred, looking up at the hazel hared boy, apparently all thoughts of Robert long forgotten. “You’re awfully pretty.”

 

“So are you, missy,” he piped back, arms flailing as he continued. “I tell you this again and again but you don’t listen. All you do is tell me ‘Stuff it Potter’ and walk off. Not that I mind you walking off. Good view, see.”

 

Lily grinned, not at all offended in her drunken state. Amelie snorted. Sirius snickered. The situation was hilarious. It was all good and well for Lily to be herself behind closed doors, but now here she was, collapsed underneath James Potter due to excess consumption of alcohol, allowing him to mumble about her untouchables in a none-too-covert way.

 

After a moments pause, James continued. “Can I have a better look?”
 

For the tone that he was using, James could have been a five year old asking to borrow a felt-tip. His innocent reply made Sirius choke, and Amelie guffaw heartily. It was only then that their presence was noticed.

“Padfoot, mate!” slurred Remus, waving up a bottle in a welcome with one of his hands, expertly juggling it with something that looked remarkably like one of Kyle’s cigarettes. The other hand was restraining an oncoming Dorcas. “You brought a girl!”

 

“A girl! A girl!” squawked the parrot.

 

“Shut up, Tutu,” reprimanded Remus.

 

“She’s not a girl, Remus,” garbled Callum in a tone that normal humans would use when they wanted to relay information as important as the whereabouts of the Holy Grail, though using his hands a tad bit too much to be counted as one. “She’s secretly a man, you know. Half man, half horse. Never know which side you’re getting. ‘Course, only until she kicks you in the balls.”

 

Kyle and Peter nodded to this knowingly, and Remus gasped, protecting his untouchables with a shaking hand. “Don’t bring her here, Pad old boy! Stay away!”

 

“My pleasure,” muttered Sirius, shaking with silent mirth. Amelie was looking incredulously at the lot of them, wondering why she hadn’t picked friends who she could leave for a couple of hours without fearing for their lives. “Come on horsy, let’s go.”

 

Amelie looked around, at first not noticing who it was who had called her by such a ludicrous and foolish name. Noticing it was Sirius, she raised an eyebrow.

 

“Whatever for? You’re willing to miss this ultimate chance to get material for blackmail to go upstairs to sleep? What kind of Marauder are you?”

 

Sirius put a hand to his heart, acting seriously hurt by this comment. “Why, Miss Avery! How could you question my marauding capabilities! I’m more of a scallywag than any of these- these amateurs.”

 

“Well then,” said Amelie, walking over to the remaining drinks and opening herself a bottle of rum with a wry smile on her face, throwing another bottle to Sirius, who deftly caught it with one hand.

 

“To late nights!” he said, raising his bottle.

 

“To terrible singing!”

 

Kyle, hearing their toasts, joined in, “To rum!”

 

“Yes, yes! Don’t forget the rum!” piped up Peter.

 

“I prefer vodka,” Remus said, pulling away from Dorcas and poking Kyle in the ribs, who squealed in close resemblance to a girl. Dorcas, not liking the change in positioning, dragged Remus back around towards her, and they were once again occupied.

 

Sirius and Amelie downed their drinks, laughing heartily with the rest. The night was still young, they were carefree, they’d just shared an intimate moment, and neither wanted to think about it. Sure, they’d have to soon – it might change something, but then again, did it have to, really?

 

Not wanting to put more thought into the situation than they absolutely had to at the present moment, Sirius and Amelie made to join Lily and James, both of whom were in quite a compromising situation. Sirius, having already downed his third bottle, kicked James roughly in the side to get him up off the girl underneath.

 

Amelie tottered over, pulling Sirius away. “Let’s play Viking!”

 

Upon hearing this, Lily sat up and gasped. “Viking?!”

 

Amelie nodded solemnly “Viking.”

 

Immediately, Lily splashed out into the water, put both hands to her face, fixing her thumbs to her temple and then waving her remaining fingers frantically, this representing the Vikings horns.

 

Kyle gasped, realising that he was being left out of the momentous game. Jumping up, he joined Amelie, and the two took their positions on Lily’s left and right, rowing the invisible ship. Seeing the thrills that they were missing out on, the remaining seven took their places behind Amelie and Sirius, filling up the Viking’s ship.


Suddenly, Lily clapped her hands and pointed at Dorcas, who squealed as she realised that it was her turn to be “The Viking”. Not wanting to lose any points for hesitation, she jumped up and took her turn to waggle her fingers frantically.

 

“That’s my captain!” yelled Remus, tripping over his feet and falling headfirst into Callum with an ‘oomph’.  

 

Dorcas moved in front of James, who blinked in fright as the waggling fingers with too-long-to-be-legit nails breached the personal-space barrier and threatened to claw his eyes out.

 

“Hah! James - you blinked! Take a firewhiskey!”


Surprisingly, in his drunkenness, James still managed to catch the firewhiskey that was thrown at him. He downed the drink in large gulps, all the while giving Peter a murderous look for highlighting his downfall.

 

‘The nerve of the rat,’ he thought, tossing the empty bottle into the hearth. The blazing fire leapt up and devoured the shards of glass with a roar. Dorcas jumped as it raged merely inches away from her, forgetting in her drunkenness the anti-flammable charms that had been placed upon all the Hogwarts fires. She jumped into Remus’ arms, and they fell over in a tangle of limbs knocking over the players behind them like dominoes, thus officially ending the barely-begun game.

 

“I’m pissed,” muttered Peter.

 

Remus nodded sombrely and raised his bottle to the comment. The rest followed suit. Somewhere in between the tangle of arms and legs, a loud snore could be heard.

 

“Oi!” snickered Kyle, poking the heavily breathing body, “James nodded off!”

 

“The plonker,” said Lily, shaking her head. “We were just about to sta-art the fun.” Despite berating James, the girl was having a time trying to stifle a yawn behind her hand. Within minutes, she had nodded off too, torso lying across some poor person’s back, one leg tucked under James while the other was bent at the knee (to make space for Amelie).

 

As if by some charm (or perhaps it was more due to the fact that it was way past four a.m. by this point), the group slowly began to drift off to deep sleeps, completely unaware that a certain blonde-haired friend of theirs was still nowhere to be seen.       





 

The next day found Gryffindor sixth sprawled in the common room much the same way that they had been the night before, if not more tangled. Empty bottles of beverages were strewn at random intervals, half-imbedded in the fine sand, the odd one reluctantly being dragged away with a stray wave into the newly-materialised ‘Gryffindor Sea’.

 

Heavy-eyed students ambled down the winding staircase, stopping short at the sight of the mountain of intertwined human bodies and their new common room. Bruised arms in the Great Hall that morning were but one of the features that bore witness to the several pinches that they had given themselves, just to make sure that they were not in fact still sleeping.

 

Amelie woke up suddenly to a loud grunt, followed by a shot of steaming hot (and not entirely pleasant breath) that was far too close to her for her liking.

 

“What the-”

 

In her haste to sit up, she had caused several bodies to topple from their secure location, rolling onto the sandy dunes below with a soft thud. Several squeaks and curses later, all of the teenagers found themselves wide-awake, experiencing the pangs of a first-rate hangover.

 

“Argggh,” moaned Callum, clutching his hands to his head.

 

Lily tottered up; eyes squinted to stop the light from shining though. Slowly and without a word, she headed up to the girls dormitory, ignoring the crab that was snipping eagerly at her feet.

 

Dorcas, knowing full well why her friend had gone off, ran after her, desperate to follow. “Lily!”

 

“Argh!”

 

“Fucking shut up, will you?”

 

Oh, my gosh…”


“Couldn’t that bitch shut her trap for one bloody minute?!”

 

“You are talking about Dorcas here, right?”

 

“Good point.”

 

Reminiscent of the walking dead, the figures rose, eyes squinted, each desperately trying to remember what exactly had happened the night before through the killer headache they each sported. Vague memories of drunken dancing and a roaring fires flittered in and out of focus, together with images of a very pissed Lily.

 

James gasped as the memory hit him. “Fuck.”

 

He wheeled around, poking Sirius straight in the chest. “Last night-”

 

Sirius nodded sombrely, thus acknowledging his friends mindless actions with a certain red-head the previous night. Dutifully, he winced as said friend bashed his head against one of the half-submerged-by-sand tables that was once part of the Gryffindor common room décor. Inside, he pitied his friend: how dunce can you be for doing that when you have a hangover already?

 

A cursed blessing floated down the stairs in the form of a perfectly chirpy Lily Evans, carrying a hefty bottle full of some vile purple liquid.

 

“Come on everyone, line up,” she called, looking imperiously over the still-lethargic crowd of newly awoken teens, felonious bottle in her hand

 

“Sounds like a ruddy primary school teacher,” muttered Callum.

 

“I think nurse-from-hell would be more appropriate,” replied Peter.

 

Remus nodded. “Just look at the way she’s tapping that spoon against her hand. You’d think she was running a detention centre.”


“For juvenile delinquents,” added Kyle, also nodding in sombre resignation of their fate. Such a shame, that it had to be that vile bottle in the hands of that embodiment of iniquity that would alleviate them from their current state of mental incapability. One thing for sure, he was glad he wasn’t James right now: the poor bloke was shaking like a leaf, face whiter than a sheet. From his face, it was obvious that he was contemplating the judiciousness of stepping forward against hiding in the shadows. Neither side was pretty.

 

“Oh, just shut up and take it like a man, would you?” snapped Amelie. The boys watched the girl stride forwards, snatch the spoon from Lily’s outstretched hand and gulp down the whole spoonful of the bitter syrup without even wincing. Lily patted the valiant girl on the head, and turned to face the remaining six, each of whom were sporting a rather awed look on their faces. They stared at Amelie’s back as she skipped all the way through the sand and up the staircase to the girls’ dormitories.

 

“Next?” she asked, eyebrow raised inquisitively, magically-cleaned spoon shining demonically at them once again.

 

Sirius gulped, taking a bold step forwards. He desperately wanted his headache to be gone. If only he could wake up to something not so bitter.

 

“Any chance you could make it sweeter, dearest?” he asked, voice laced in false hope as he looked up at the red head (she was standing on top one of the half-lost tables)

 

Lily glanced down at the boy in contempt, chirpy demeanour gone. If only he knew half the emotions she was feeling at the moment.

 

“You best be happy I’m not making it extra bitter. I haven’t had the best of things to wake up to, you know. Now here’s the potion to get rid of your hangover. Take it or leave it.”

 

Sirius reached out for the spoon; warily at first, but then in a sudden movement he snatched it up and downed it. Promptly, he fell onto his knees in the sand, gagging, sounding oddly like a cat that was going to meet his marker.

 

Sparing him but one look of disdain, Lily moved on to the next person, conveniently feigning deafness to the occasional croaks of “water!” and the flying bits of sand that were directed her way.

 

Kyle, Remus, Callum and Peter took their potion, each with more trepidation than the last. Remus’ eyes were practically bulging out of their sockets, and Callum looked fully prepared to run away to Australia. Lily was left befuddled, wondering how in the world these boys earned such a dare-devil reputation when they could barely stomach a hang-over potion.

 

Finally, it was James’ turn, where she became even more perplexed. The boy was… scared. It was indisputable. All the signs were there: pale face, wide eyes, even the trembling hands. Of course, it wasn’t just that that confused Lily. Fact was, James wasn’t looking at the bottle or the spoon with that look on his face.

 

He was looking at Lily.

 

Lily raised an eyebrow at him, who in turn looked like he was about to wet himself in terror. She couldn’t comprehend how James, the boy who was secretly itching (well, perhaps not so secretly) to snog her senseless, would look so apprehensive now that he had done just that. She would have been expecting a smirk, or even a sly wink. Looking at this feeble, pitiful creature, she wondered where that suave, debonair James that she was so accustomed to had disappeared to.

 

She was, of course, angry with herself for letting alcohol get the better of her. She had made a complete prat of herself, kissing James like that. Sure, she had liked him once (and still sort of liked him), but he didn’t need to know any of that. Desperately, once she had come to her senses that morning, she had hoped that James wouldn’t think of their antics last night as anything but complete and utter intoxicated behaviour.

 

Because that’s what it was, wasn’t it?

 

“Just down it, Potter,” said Lily exasperatedly.

 

Slowly, James took the potion from her, waiting for a slight moment to see if the girl would shout at, show any signs of revulsion, or even acknowledge him for being James Potter: the annoying prat of the century. Seeing nothing, he took his dose, winced once and followed it up with a quick ‘Aguamenti’ charm to rid his mouth of the foul aftertaste.

 

Lily smiled bitterly. “You should teach your friend that one. You’d think he was a squib, the way he acts.”

 

James nodded slowly, not quite understanding where he stood. She didn’t seem angry. Did that mean that she wasn’t, or that she just wanted to forget it, or that she couldn’t remember, or –

 
Girls were so confusing sometimes.

  



Up in the girls’ dormitory, Dorcas was lying flat on her back on her bed, arms and legs sprawled, eyes glazed over as she blessed them all with a full-blown sermon about how much fun she had last night, how bloody amazing a kisser Remus was, and how ruddy fantastic Lily was for having a ready-made supply of hangover potion ready all the time.

 

“It’s like she knows everything.”

 

Amelie, however, was for the most part oblivious to this monologue. Her mind was desperately trying to sort out her own, rather more important, issues that had surfaced the previous night.

 

The girl knew well what society dictated she should be thinking and feeling right now, but she couldn’t bring herself to think that way. She knew that the average girl would be feeling easy - perhaps, a bit of a slut, or something of the sort, especially considering the way that they’d both acted afterwards – like nothing happened, but Amelie was far from average.

 

In whichever light she looked at the situation, she couldn’t help but think that last night, so many problems that she’d had with Sirius had somehow ironed themselves out without them even having to mention it, and she appreciated that fact. She found that she didn’t particularly care that it had been Sirius who she had slept with. In fact, now that she thought about it, there would have been no other person that she would have preferred. She just hoped that Sirius saw the situation in the same way that she did, and wasn’t suddenly hoping for them to be holding hands in corridors and kissing over breakfast. Not that she had any type of problem with public displays of affection…

 

Of course, she would probably be politer to him; friendlier and such, but her life was far too hectic to be thinking about serious relationships. She couldn’t be worrying about the welfare of another person so much when she yet had to fight for her own safety and wellbeing - not that she didn’t think of Sirius regularly anyway, but being his girlfriend would be like signing on the dotted line, and Amelie didn’t want to be tied down. Would a no-strings-attached relationship be too much to ask?

 

Amelie berated herself, knowing full well that if anyone was to accept those terms, it would be Sirius. Hell, he was probably thinking those exact things himself. She had never seen a boy so – so – rebellious and yet charming. He wasn’t the typical gruff teenager, and yet he was exactly what a free spirit should be. He dictated his own rules, and lived by them, occasionally bending the odd letter or two to suit his own purposes. Maybe that was why she was so attracted to the boy… she couldn’t really tell. His nonchalant, yet strong demeanour was so addictive, as was both of their need to be free. There was so many things going for him, it was hard to whittle it all down to one thing. 

 

But the girl was denied the pleasure in delving into her thoughts and memories of the beguiling young man, as at that precise moment a distinctly frazzled Lily Evans burst her way into their dormitory.

 

“Where’s Alice?” she demanded, lethal spoon brandished like a rapier, obviously still in tact.

 

Dorcas suddenly stopped half-way through her elicit explanation of the euphoric sensations she had experienced some time in her past life to look around herself, still hazy-eyed, looking for the blonde beneath her bed covers.

 

“Not here,”

 

Amelie sat up, worried, remembering Alice’s absence last night. She had, at that time, automatically assumed that she’d gone up to sleep in the dorms early, not having been in the drinking mood. Now, as she looked at the girls’ bed, the smooth, dintless quilt and pillows on her four-poster bed, however, stated otherwise. Mentally, she cursed herself for not having noticed the absence of her friend sooner. 

 

“I’m sure she was with us last night,” muttered Lily, almost to herself, running her fingers through her mane of red hair, frustrated.

 

Deciding it was high-time she imparted her wisdom upon the incompetent mortals, Amelie spoke up. “She wasn’t with you lot when we came back.”

 

“We?” Lily raised her eyebrows, and Dorcas shot up, eyes scrunched up as she looked at the intimidating girl in front of her. Amelie was lying on her back, arms behind her neck for support, eyes coolly staring back at Lily, determined not to let on any information that she didn’t deem necessary. It was Alice that they had to talk about now, not about her nightly misdemeanours.

 

“Yes, we. But you and Dorcas here were otherwise engaged in – ah, industrious activities, so I don’t think you would have noticed Alice slipping off anywhere.”

 

At this, Lily’s pale skin blushed furiously, clashing horribly with her hair, but she still stared determinedly back, acting as if heat was not in fact protruding from every pore on her face. Amelie smirked, knowing that her friend was aware of exactly what she had been doing the night before. Dorcas snickered, once again flopping back on her bed, reliving her time with Remus, all thoughts of Alice long gone. 

 

“Never mind what we were doing last night! Where do you think she could be?”

 

But Amelie was saved from answering that question, as the blonde decided to choose that precise moment to waltz into the dormitory in nought but her rather diaphanous nightdress and pink fluffy slippers. She froze on the threshold, staring hesitantly from one girl to the other. She had obviously not been expecting them to still be in the dormitories at quarter to twelve on a Saturday morning.

 

Amelie, Lily and Dorcas were all at a loss for words. Their minds were all hazy, not able to comprehend that this in fact was their Alice, standing at their doorway in nothing but a flimsy sheet of practically non-existent material. The event was practically on a par with McGonagall starting up lessons to teach people how to dance the can-can – something that none of the girls were willing to believe could ever happen.

 

“I can explain,” Alice’s voice trembled with trepidation as she looked at her friends, wide-eyed.

 

Amelie gathered herself together and scowled at Alice. Alice was meant to be the ultimate role-model to her; the sweet, innocent, fun-loving girl with an “I-love-everyone” complex. To think that she had been spending nights sleeping in other dorms like that disappointed Amelie to no end, and left her feeling more than a little hurt. Obviously, there had to have been a reason behind the madness – for madness it was. How could their friend have been so untrusting of them, and so reluctant to share her worries? Did she think she was above their opinion - or perhaps that they wouldn’t be able to help her? Either way, she felt that she had been cut deep.

 

“You best start now, else I might do something really stupid,” she positively growled. Alice gulped, eyes wide.

 

Though she hated sneaking around and not telling her friends, she couldn’t help but feeling a rush of guilty pleasure. It had felt good, meeting up with Benjy in secret corridors and empty classrooms in the middle of night. The thrill of possibly getting caught, and never knowing what he was going to make her do made the whole experience so much more intense that she almost felt addicted to the sensation. Sure, she had been wary at first, but Benjy was her boyfriend after all, and she felt as if she was betraying him by being guarded. So throwing cautions to the wind, she had let go, and enjoyed the feeling of being irresponsible for once.

 

Or twice. Or a few times. So perhaps she had been out with him for quite a while now, getting up to stuff she knew she probably shouldn’t be doing and that her parents wouldn’t approve of, but this was Benjy – the boy who she had liked since god knows when. Why couldn’t people just understand that?

 

“I’ve only been with Benjy,” she said, trying to reign in her fear. Thinking about it, it was quite illogical. She was talking to Amelie here. Surely she, of all people, would understand?

 

“For the whole night?”

 

“Yes. And?” Amelie’s questioning was starting to get on her nerves. So what if she wanted to spend the night with Benjy? They’d been together for over two months, and she had been sixteen for coming on to six months now. That was more than Amelie could say, at any rate – she’d only been sixteen for less than two.

 

Lily’s eyes almost popped out of her head. “What do you mean ‘And’? How long has this been going on? And why haven’t we heard about any of this? For fuck’s sake Alice, we’ve been worried sick.”

 

Alice started feeling guilty. Perhaps she should have gone to her friends a bit more, but Benjy had told her that she didn’t need to.

 

“Why go to your friends when you’ve got me?”

 

It had seemed perfectly logical at the time, but now…

 

“I didn’t think-“

 

“You don’t say,” said Amelie scathingly, giving Alice a disgusted look. “You know, Alice, I thought you were above all this, throwing yourself at his feet like that. I thought you had some more self-respect.”

 

At this, Alice grew angry at her blatant double standards. How dare she? The slag! She threw herself at his feet, did she? Of course, random ‘spur-of-the-moments’ where she’d pin boys to the wall and ravage them did nothing to her dignity whatsoever.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry, Amy,” sneered Alice, her arms shaking with barely suppressed rage. “Shag anyone in the broom cupboard lately?” 

 

Amelie’s stance hardened, murderous look flitting across her eyes. Lily winced, keeping her eyes shut, and Dorcas squealed and dove under her duvet. Alice, though still angry, mentally berated herself for her comment, knowing that it was below the belt. In befriending Amelie, she had accepted her disposition, but she had just thrown that back in her face. Her mind was jumbled, both wanting to strangle Amelie for her unfair reaction and lack of willingness to understand her, and wanting to run off to the moon to get away from her.

 

The raven haired girl stiffened, fury flooding through her every fibre. The roar of her blood rushing in her ears deafened the feeble squeaks of her conscience trying to feed logic into her thoughts. Her heart felt like it was being shredded, and not for the first time felt the pain of a trust misplaced.


‘So that’s what she really thinks of me, is it?’ was the last bitter thought Amelie remembered flitting through her head. Before she knew it, her legs carried themselves towards the barely dressed girl, tugged her excuse of a nightdress, which separated with her body with a loud ripping sound. Still not satisfied, she slapped the terrified girl around the face – hard.

 

Breathing heavily, she spat, “I’d tell you to go off and fuck Benjy, but I think you’d get cold waiting for him like that in the queue.” Shoving past the wide-eyed girl, Amelie stomped out of the dormitories and ran full-pelt downstairs towards the common room.

 


The boys, each now blissfully headache-free and far from the wrath of ‘Lily Evans and the Bottle of Doom’, were enjoying their Saturday morning playing a relaxing game of exploding snap (…well, as relaxed as you can get when you’re a bunch of self-conscious sixteen-year old lads knowing that your immaculately designed facial hair could get singed at any moment). James was dealing the cards, with Sirius on his right, an attentive look plastered across his features. In fact, all of them were wearing similar looks of deliberation, each painfully aware that the game could be the cause of a gain or a loss in their reputation.

 

And when you’re with the lads, reputation means everything.

 

“Argh!” Peter Pettigrew had just put his card on the pile, and withdrew far too late, hence the smoke rising from his charred eyebrows and the strangled yell.

 

A moments silence at after this event was quickly followed up by whooping laughs from the five other boys, as they revelled in their mate’s misfortune.

 

“It’s not funny,” whined the podgy boy, blue eyes sparkling as he tried to fight down his own laugh.

 

“Oh, but it is, Petey boy,”

 

Peter made pulled a face at this comment (“Petey boy!?” ), which only caused the lads to laugh harder. Minutes later, after a quick hair-replenishing charm was cast on the unfortunate boys’ eyebrows courtesy of Remus Lupin, and tears of mirth were wiped from their still-bright eyes, James was once again dealing the cards, trying desperately to keep his face as far away from the pack whilst still being able to see them.

 

But alas, the boys didn’t get very far with their second round, as no sooner had it begun that a figure stomped down the girls’ staircase, blasted the door open and practically knocked James head-first into the coffee table, which in turn, jogged violently and winded several of the boys who were sitting on the other side.

 

Upon the threshold, Amelie stood, scanning the common room area with an unmistakable look of anger on her face. Mentally, Callum thanked the lord that she hadn’t spotted them behind the door; else they would have been on the receiving end of an Amelie-special, namely, a right good hexing and a wallop on the – er, head at the very least.

 

Sirius, however, stared; wondering what was up with her. Part of him felt a squirm of guilt, realising that it could possibly be because of him. After all, he wasn’t exactly treating her like the Queen of Sheba this morning, and she had probably expected that after last night, like most girls would. Perhaps she hadn’t taken it all in the same way as he had; just another way to sort out their problems. She was certainly peeved off about something, whatever it was.

 

Suddenly, Amelie’s eyes locked onto something. She looked oddly like something that had just sniffed its prey, and was ready to start the attack… almost like a shark that had just caught a whiff of fresh blood. Following her gaze, he caught sight of Benjy Fenwick, the rather handsome seventh year. His lazy brown hair flopped into his blue eyes that were twinkling with perverted amusement as he made some extremely crude gestures, thus earning some laughs from his mates.

 

The five boys watched as, for some reason enraged by this even further, Amelie strode forwards, plonked herself next to the boy and – Sirius’ jaw dropped.

 

He had wanted to wince, thinking that Benjy was going to be hexed, probably battered into pieces like he so lovingly had been on his first day back. Perhaps even punched, kicked or slapped like had, also, been on the receiving end of countless times over the previous five and a bit years, but she didn’t. No, she couldn’t have done any of the things that would have actually made the most sense with the look on her face. No, that would have been entirely predictable – and that was something Amelie most certainly was not. Something she was, though, was an irresponsible, uncontrollable, inattentive, rash, and frankly wild teenager. So she did the one thing that made most sense to her.

 

She snogged the living daylights out of him.

 

It wasn’t a peck on the cheek, not even a chaste kiss on the lips. Oh no, this was the whole lip-tongue-tonsil action all rolled into one, and Sirius couldn’t help but wonder what in the world Amelie was getting into - the whole world knew that Alice and Benjy were going out. Well, she could obviously see what she was getting in to (it was a miracle the girl could breathe, to be honest), but honestly, what on earth was the girl playing at? She could have at least come to him if she’d fancied a bit of a snog… or even more than that, really…

 

Then, just as abruptly as it started, it ended. The girl pushed away, and just as Benjy was stepping forwards for more, she punched the boy square on the nose, where it cracked sickeningly underneath her now-swollen knuckles. Promptly, she whipped out her wand; pointing it straight at his jugular with such a steady hand and murderous gaze that she looked remarkably like a trained female assassin who had been sent forth from the depths of hell for the sole purpose to get her revenge.

 

Though that, of course, was not far from the mark.

 

“You fucking keep your hands off her, you hear me?” she said in a mutinous, but carrying whisper.


Sirius felt everyone single one of the boys around him tense up as the words came out of Amelie’s mouth. Even he felt a slight stir in the pit of his stomach. Considering that she had just been up in the dormitory, and that she had been fine prior to going up there, this had to do with one of the girls. Though he didn’t particularly feel anything for them, they were his classmates – his Gryffindor buddies, and he knew only too well how slimy Fenwick could be when he wanted to. He could only imagine how James must be feeling at the moment. ‘Poor bastard, probably trying to fight off terrifying mental images…’

 

Eyes wide with terror and nose bleeding profusely, the six-foot something hulk of a boy merely whimpered, nodding as he saw Amelie in what seemed to be the first time. He looked fit to piss himself, and Sirius just had to stare in awe at the power that Amelie seemed to extrude. At first sight, no one would ever have guessed that the girl could be so intimidating, but then, that was one thing about her that attracted him so much – she was completely unpredictable.

 

Satisfied with the response she had evoked, Amelie nodded regally. Still staring down at him, she growled, “If you so much as lay a finger on her again, I’ll make you rue the day genetics decided to give you XY chromosomes.” And with that ominous threat still hanging in the air, she pushed the boy down, stood up, brushed herself down, and marched out of the common room, head held high.




[A/N] Oh, I bet you can imagine how I loved writing this chapter. Long, wasn’t it? I hope you lot enjoyed reading it too. ^_^ If yes, please review and give quotes on your favourite bits. If no, still review and tell me why not. The more you help me, the more I can help you by making this story as fantabulous as possible. 
The sailor's shanty is not mine (obviously), but I don't know who created it... Thanks to all you lovely people who have been helping so far – I really can’t believe how far this story has come! XD Thankee! 



Chapter 10: Tiffs and Tantrums
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Alice stood, half-naked, face pale and eyes wide on the Gryffindor sixth threshold, not understanding what had just happened. It was as if her mind had thrown cautions to the wind and ran off at full-pelt, leaving her body to somehow decide what to do with itself. Bit by bit though, parts of her anatomy began to regain their ability to move, starting with her bottom lip, which began to tremble.



"Oh, Alice,” gushed Lily, wrapping her arms around the now-crying blonde, not able to comprehend what the girl must have been feeling at that moment. Of course, Amelie had only been doing what she thought was suitable, but lord knew Amelie’s anger wasn’t the best thing to be on the receiving end of. If only she didn’t always have to react so intensely to every tiny little thing, then perhaps Lily wouldn’t always be stuck running after them like a mother hen. What she wouldn’t give for someone to look after her for once. “Shh, hun. Here, take a tissue.”



With a flick of her wand, Lily conjured a tissue and handed it over to her blubbering friend, who in turn blew into it with a sound much like a trumpet.



“Shh. There, there, hun.”



“I – I’m s-s-s-so sorry,” bawled Alice. “I d-don’t know w-w-why I didn’t t-tell you all before. I t-thought I-I didn’t need t-to.”



Lily, who had been but a moment ago still hugging her friend, took a step back and looked at the girl at arms’ length. Didn’t need to? The Alice she knew never keptanything back or hidden. Why the sudden change of conduct?



“What made you think that?”



Alice took a few breaths to try and control her voice. “J-just that… I don’t know. I-I mean, Benjy s-said I didn’t need t-to.”



“What?!”



Surprised at her friend’s reaction, Alice looked up. “Yeah, and, I don’t know I guess I just t-trusted him. Was that so bad? He is my boyfriend, you know.”



Still in a daze from what Alice has just told her, Lily, wide-eyed, asked, “B-but you didn’t do anything, did you? Anything you didn’t want to do?”



“Not exactly…”



Lily just froze, unable to comprehend everything that was going on. Darling, sweet, stable, predictable, Alice had – had… she didn’t want to think about it. Was she crazy?! The whole thing was as if the world had decided to tip itself upside down for a day – it was virtually on a par with McGonagall waking up one day with a strong urge to dance the Macarena. It just wasn’t Alice.



“What do you mean, not exactly?!” shrieked the red-head.



Alice winced, for the first time in her life, feeling a pang of compassion for Potter (he had to go through this how often last year?), though it wasn’t near as strong as what she felt for herself. The boys felt they had it bad – she hadn’t ever heard of one person being shot down by both Amelie and Lily in less than an hour. It seems the honour had, so far, been reserved for her and her only. Who else could have such fortune and fantastic timing?



But then, she felt a ripple of anger brew from somewhere inside her. She had been exhausted upon entering the dormitory, and had been looking for a nice little nap, hoping not to wake-up for a good few hours. But no, instead of being allowed to rid herself of this sense of fatigue, her beloved friends had decided to pick, poke and pry at every tiny detail in her life that had happened over the past month – something that they had previously been only too submerged in their own lives to even bother noticing. Honestly, if they cared so much, they would have noticed her empty bed ages ago.



“I’m not discussing this now, Lily.” Alice mumbled, ripping off what little fabric that remained clinging to her body and putting on a nice comfortable jumper on in its place. “I’m tired, angry and not in the mood. Maybe if you come to me in, say, three hours time, you might actually hear something.” And yanking the bed curtains around her, Alice lay down and pretended to go to sleep.








Kyle’s eyes followed Amelie’s back as she stormed out of the portrait hole, leaving the common room in a (very brief) state of shocked silence. Honestly, had she been anyone else, she would have been sent to St. Mungo’s for mental instability long ago. How that girl managed to get away with what she did was beyond him, even if he did know the reasoning behind it. Sighing, he moved to stand and follow her out. Perhaps he could try and calm her down and regain her senses. Before he could pull away from the comfort of the plush Gryffindor armchairs, though, a rough hand pulled him back down.



“What the – “



“Don’t go to her now!” hissed Callum gruffly.



Kyle looked at his made in confusion. “Why not?”



“Because, look.”



A distraught Lily had just appeared at the foot of the stairs, looking around apprehensively, biting on her bottom lip so hard it was looked ready to draw blood. Her face, which was now whiter than chalk and her eyes were wide, giving her the look of someone so entirely lost that it was pitiful, could not have contrasted more to the firm, authoritative look that it had bore merely an hour ago. Kyle’s shoulders sagged as he realised that this time his expertise was needed somewhere else. These girls would be the death of him.



"Go on, let’s go over there and find out what happened before we go do anything stupid.”



Nodding, they both got up and walked over to Lily, leaving the Marauders to mull over their shocked thoughts in silence. Not that they were thinking much clearer. It was beyond them how so much drama had apparently happened without one of the girls even mentioning it to them. Normally they were so close.



“Lily…”



Lily looked as if she was on the verge of breaking down. Her green eyes had lost its spark and her hair looked frazzled from running her hand through it so many times. Callum lightly held onto Lily’s shoulders, steering her to some empty couches in the corner of the room, Kyle tailing them. Lily obeyed the pressure, allowing herself to be directed, having no idea what she was meant to do herself. Where on earth had Amelie gone off to? Sitting her down, the boys sat to face her.



“What happened?”



“Er…” The girls’ eyes darted around the common room, as if looking for a way out of the situation. She needed to get to her friend before something worse came to pass. Callum and Kyle shared a glance, wondering what on earth had been happening today. “Um, it’s nothing really… really nothing.”



Lily, though incredibly distressed, didn’t want either of the boys to get involved. What they would do to Benjy if they found out, she knew, would look none too good on their references – even if the bastard deserved it.



Neither of them missed the fact that her voice was a good few notches higher than its usual pitch. It was disconcerting to see her so distant from her usual calm, collected aura. Had there not been a whole performance right in front of their very eyes, the boys would have perhaps thought that the extremity of last night’s misdemeanours had made Lily on edge, but it was obvious to them both that she had more than one thing on her mind.



“Come on, Lils. Spit it out.” Callum said brusquely, knowing the more he’d give the girl space, the more she would mumble and twitter.



And right enough, Lily’s thoughts hurled out of her mouth relentlessly as if they’d been itching to escape.



“Amelie and Alice had a fight and I’ve been left to play the pacifist again. I’m always looking after them all! Really, I’m fed up of it. Why can’t someone look after me for a change? But no, they’re all too stuck in their own little thoughts of themselves and they can’t seem to think any differently.



“Honestly, Amy’s become more hormonal than a pregnant woman! And I have absolutely no idea what to do with Alice. That girl - absolutely mad, I tell you!”



Kyle desperately wanted to ask what exactly it was that happened to make Alice from the sane one into a deranged lunatic, but thought it was best to perhaps let her continue with her rant. Callum’s curiosity, however, got the better of him.



“Why? What happened?”



“Well…”








Dorcas lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling, in shock. Sure, she knew Amelie was far from tranquil, but she never knew she was that bad. She had never said anything like that to them before. Truth be told, it was quite frightening to watch her blow up like that. Dorcas didn’t like violence much. “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” her mother* had always said – something to which she had always agreed. Why resort to violence when you can sort things out perfectly well through a decent conversation?



It was hard to believe that barely five minutes ago she was talking to Amelie about what happened with Remus. Of course, she was ecstatic about it, but still slightly confused. Remus didn’t date girls, really. Well, not much, anyway. He was more the let’s-have-fun-now-and-again type. Truth be told, she didn’t mind that, just as long as it wasn’t her he was fooling around with. Her rant had just been there for her to try and ignore the inevitable, but, as per usual, it came crashing down on her like a ton of bricks. Remus didn’t really like her.



Well, at least he still gave her sweets. That was something. Perhaps she should try and forget about him? Past experience had told her that wouldn’t be too easy. Dorcas, the poor girl, tended to attach all her thoughts and dreams on one person for a long period of time. Sometimes, that happened for so long, that she virtually created her own fantasy man, sticking the real boys’ face on to him. And as hard as she tried, she couldn’t manage to get her mind to think differently – to admit that perhaps he does have a really big flaw. Perhaps he just isn’t for her. Perhaps.



But now was not the time to think of Remus, however tempting that sounded. No, she had to give her attention to Amelie and Alice. Yes, she was shocked about Alice walking in to the dormitory like that, but everyone can make mistakes, right? Everyone’s allowed to trip up now and again. She knew she’d made her fair share of them… not that the others knew much about them, but… why couldn’t Amelie have accepted that? Why did she have to turn so aggressive to her friends? It was all beyond Dorcas, really. It wasn’t exactly like she was a saint.



Poor Alice. What could have driven her to act like that? She was nice! Why would you want to be anything else? The whole word loves girls like that… dedicated, hardworking, pleasant girls. Why couldn’t she see just how special she was? It bugged Dorcas to see just how far people will go to try and get a little self-respect, because it usually ended up ruining it instead. Honestly, everything was so crazy right at that moment that she thought she might as well just go along with it.



Picking up a packet of fizzy sweets from her bedside table, she stood up and left the common room, popping one into her mouth.







 


Thump. Thump. Thump.



Amelie’s legs carried her towards the Quidditch pitch at a sprint. Slightly disappointed, she noted that her muscles were tensing at an extraordinary rate, and after less than a minute, she found that her lungs were finding it hard to keep up the pace. So what if she was on the Quidditch pitch for about half her time here at Hogwarts? She was hardly athletic: she hadn’t run in ages, but then again, these were strange circumstances. Had this been any other time, Amelie would be working off her anger in a broom cupboard, with some other poor, beleaguered soul, but frankly, Benjy had (albeit momentarily) put the idea right out of her mind. She was angry, worked up, and, quite frankly, pissed off. What wouldn’t she give to beat the shit out of something right now? But no, she didn’t want to get expelled. Getting expelled now would mean having to go back home, and lord only knew how stupid that idea was.



So, the girl was doing the next best thing: working off her anger and frustration physically. Reaching the Gryffindor locker rooms, she grabbed her broom, her bat, took a deep breath, and lunged for the bludger.



The ball writhed in her arms, and Amelie fought to gain control over it, trying to use her weight to her advantage. Inch by inch, she crawled along the floor, panting heavily, dragging herself forwards towards the door that led to the pitch. Only one more metre to go...



THWACK.



The bludger somehow managed to push against the combined force of Amelie’s weight and gravity, causing her arms to hit her in the face with terrifying intensity. Her arms, however, had somewhat lessened the pain (that would otherwise have been a bludger straight to the face), but her sight when in and out of focus for a short while all the same. Regaining her conscious, Amelie reached up tentatively to her nose and growled as she felt a hot, sticky trickle of liquid creep down her face. Bloody bludger. Throwing cautions to the wind, she threw the ball out of the changing room, hopped onto her broom and swept up after it, aching to smack it silly for its insolent behaviour.



Insolent behaviour.



Alice.



Gosh, such an idiot. She had to sink herself so low because…? Really, it was so hard to fathom why a girl who has so much respect from the school populace would go and do something like that. It was, really a daft thing to do. Stupid, stupid girl.



SMACK.


 


As the bludger went flying, Amelie tore after it. Sure, she had to do more work when she was playing by herself, but that was the whole point. She’d rather whack the bludger into pieces than be sent to Azkaban for murder... though the thought was oddly tempting.



Not murdering Alice, of course. She may be angry, but friends don’t deserve to be killed by other friends. No, of course not. If she’d murder anyone, it’d be a Slytherin… slimy, stinky, evil, corrupted little –



She’d thought it was a blessing to have the ugly sisters away from Hogwarts this year. Drusilla and Agrippa had certainly done nothing to make her feel better since she had arrived. If anything, their faces were just enough to make Amelie sick to her stomach. But then, she’d have given anything to have one of them stood in front of her at that moment, if only for a target for a stream of bludgers she’d send their way. Oh, she may have been a bit sadistic in thinking it, but she couldn’t help it. The more she thought of how they would act at home… they really did deserve every bit of shit that came their way.



THUMP.



That felt good. She really should do this more often. Lily had been going on for years to get her to find a more “creative” outlet, but the ideas were always ridden down by her superior belief that nothing could possibly be more creative than a good snogging session. She was stumped how she hadn’t thought of Quidditch before, what with loving it so much. Strange…








“Man, this is odd,” Mumbled Peter, referring to the tense silence that was engulfing them. Remus and Sirius both nodded, showing their agreement with the statement. James, however, looked blank as he stared at something.



Lily was talking to Callum and Kyle, looking oddly distressed…. Not very Lily-ish at all. Of course, it probably had to something to do with what had just happened, but… James was confused. Did he want her to be upset and distressed about last night? No, of course not. He wanted her to be happy… didn’t he?



But last night wasn’t entirely his fault. They were both drunk out of their minds. He hardly even knew what he was doing. All he remembered now is kissing Lily. Sad, really, that their first kiss had to happen when they were both drunk; not at all how he’d pictured it. Though, really, things hardly ever come out as you expect them to. Not that it hadn’t been enjoyable. A sly grin crept on his face as he remembered her over him. He really could get used to that feeling.



Shaking his head, he tried to forget about Lily. There wasn’t any point mulling over it. She knew where he stood – had known ever that stupid stunt he’d pulled last year. If she wanted something to happen, all she had to do was give a sign.



Looking over at Remus, Sirius and Peter, each with grim faces, he felt a pang of frustration. They were the best team of Gryffindors that had entered the school in years! It pained them all to see the house so obviously stewing in mistrust and - dared they say it – hate. He could see that Remus, Sirius and Peter were also thinking something along the same lines. None of them knew how all of this had crept up on them. Why, but a couple of hours ago they were lolling around on the sand, singing merrily and drinking a bottle of whiskey. Each of them knew that they had little to do with the events that had happened, but that didn’t mean that they wanted their mates to be broody for the rest of the month.



Sirius looked over at James, and they shared a look. Wordlessly, they came to the conclusion. Gryffindor sixth definitely needed a pick-me-up.








Alice sat in the girls’ dormitory around dusk, eyebrows still furrowed and fists still balled, letting go of steam in the form of a long list of colourful adjectives that even she had not known existed. She didn’t care much about what her mother would think if she saw her in the sate that she was now. In fact, she found that she would be sadistically pleased over seeing her mother squirm in horror at the drastic change in her daughter. No-one ever thought that Alice would ever do such a thing, because Alice was always so incredibly boring and predictable all the time.



Well, she’d show them.



She wasn’t going to be rational and sensible anymore. She wasn’t going to be the girl who timidly put her hand up in class, waiting to be asked to answer a question only for Sirius or James to shout out the answer like they were bored and they wanted the lesson to be over. No more grabbing the spotlight from her. From now on, Alice would position herself centre-stage, and god hath mercy on that person who tries to move her.



Sitting up, Alice sat up and tore off her blankets. Sliding on her slippers, she walked over to her dressing table and set about getting herself to look as dolled up as possible, like she had for every night the past two weeks or so, all the while determined to make something of herself. The irresponsible feeling that she had been relishing once again took her over, and by the time she’d finished, she could hardly recognise herself. Muttering a quick disillusionment charm, she hid herself from view, and stepped out of her dormitory, heading for the boys’ seventh. 





 
*quote by Isaac Asimov



[A/N] Okay, so it’s really short, but I really couldn’t do anything else. It’s just a quick overview of everyone’s feelings and emotions really. You know when you have too much fun, it just all goes bananas? Yeah, well that’s what’s happening at the moment. Please tell me what you think of this chapter. As you can see, Dorcas and Alice are finally taking a more prominent role in the story. Please tell me what you think about them. And do remember please that these lot are a bunch of sixteen/seventeen year-olds, so no, their emotions are not stable at all. Thanks to all who have reviewed so far! I really do appreciate it! Mucho huggles!


Chapter 11: Falling From Grace
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Chapter 11 – Falling From Grace



‘Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.’ – Milan Kundera




That day, Alice had gone up to the boys’ seventh and finally realised what a vindictive and twisted game time plays with the creatures that are subjected to co-exist with it. That day, when Alice had emphatically pushed open the door, she had been expecting a rather torrid welcoming on his part. Instead, she had come face to face with Benjy Fenwick – her boyfriend – in an incredibly compromising position with the leggy Ravenclaw who saw across from her in Transfiguration. That day, she had finally come to her senses.

If this was what Amelie went through on a regular basis as a result of her expeditions, perhaps she wasn’t as lucky as Alice had previously thought. After all, it certainly hadn’t been gratifying to feel her internal organs being ripped out of her and thrust into her mouth, or to feel her hands shaking in horror, feeling like jelly, and eyes wide as her brain tried desperately to shun what they were being forced to watch. The sensation of having wanted so bad to run away but not being able to move her legs because she couldn’t even feel them there was not at all worth the flashes of superfluous iniquity that Alice had begun to revel in. The moment seemed to last an aeon, but in reality, it was only that; a moment.

Above all, though, it was the incredibly humbling, embarrassed sensation that had crept up her body as she finally saw what she had been wearing. Of course, she had known all along, but she had been too determined in her plight to actually see the transformation that it represented from the blissfully ignorant girl she once was.

Still shaking, she took a few perfunctory steps backwards, almost tripping over the fluffy-slippers she had donned, using her trembling hands to reach for the smooth safety of the wall behind her. Trying to grab on to anything, she had hurled herself out of the corridor and back into her own dormitory and slammed shut the door, feeling sick to the pit of her stomach. Tears fell thick and fast down her face as she looked around the room, wondering what on earth she had got herself into. She let out a loud cry, swearing to herself that she would never sink to that level ever again.




Dog-tired and bloodied, Amelie wound her way up to the hospital wing, dragging her feet along the cold stone floor. Now that the adrenaline rush had worn off, it had been replaced by a dull throbbing that pounded at the girl’s groaning muscles as she took step upon reluctant step towards the abode of Madam Ferriby and her new assistant, the latter of whom the student body had affectionately dubbed The Sadistic Wench. Not a month into school had passed, and already the trainee nurse had shown a frightening infatuation with all things sharp and metallic.

In the showers, Amelie had come across black and blue bruises the size of her hand span – a souvenir from the bludger attacks she had been fending off for three hours previous. Had she had the tiniest bit of energy left in her to summon, she would have made a stab at trying the healing charms herself. Though, then again, she doubted she would have been able to heal the area near her ribs which screamed out in protest whenever she touched them. From head to toe her body screamed in agony as her muscles were forced to press on. Resignedly, the girl succumbed to the pull of the hospital wing, desperately hoping that the evil one was off somewhere else. Heck, she’d be content knowing that she was off polishing shackles with Filch, the torture-happy caretaker, if it meant that she would be free from the terror that was Madam Ferreus.

The door of the hospital wing came into view, the garish white colour and reek of antiseptics creating a sense of foreboding that only infirmaries could. Amelie found herself wishing her brain would come up with less-destructive means of letting off steam. How she’d come to have such an aggressive disposition, she’d never know.

A smirk crept on to her face as she remembered her first display of outright violence – when she’d punched Sirius in the face.

‘Figures.’

Amelie sighed, trying to come to terms with the fact that the boy would probably always bring out the animal in her, mean whilst bracing herself for the worst that the place could hit her with.

“Right,” she muttered, determined not to let the sheer whiteness of the place send her running to the hills. “Here goes nothing.”

With as much dignity as she could muster, Amelie Avery hobbled forwards into the hospital wing, a sick feeling of foreboding creeping its way into her stomach.




“Wow.”

“Wow is fitting.”

Kyle and Callum’s responses to Lily’s illuminating speech were somewhat limited at first, as neither knew quite what to do with the information. Now, however, three hours later, as the three and Dorcas sat around the hearth rug, the boys seemed to have found a lot more to say.

“None of you lot listened to us about Benjy,” ranted Kyle, red-faced as he tried to control himself. “We weren’t saying it for our own good, you know.”

Lily shot the boy a look. “Do you have to rub it in? You just said you didn’t like him – you didn’t tell us why. We’re not psychic, you know.”

“Yeah, well,”

Noticing that the discussion was just pointlessly going round in circles, Callum intervened. “The cat’s among the pixies now; nothing doing. Let’s just hope Amy doesn’t do anything worse than she has already.”

Dorcas nodded, still sucking compulsively on her sugar quill, as if hoping it might do something to lift the dreadful blanket of melancholy that had suddenly dampened their moods. Looking out of the window, she sighed. Even the weather seemed to have suddenly turned against them. What had yesterday been blistering sunshine and a forget-me-not blue sky, had transformed into viciously black thunderclouds and torrents of rain, which fell thick and fast on the castle’s stone turrets, streaking down the windows and creating a mist that rendered any hopes of seeing anything but pitch-blackness outside impossible.

“Darn British weather,” muttered Lily as she aggressively poked the sofa she was sitting on. Not for the first time, the girl wondered why Hogwarts, a school so magical, wouldn’t think to protect itself against such a miserable climate.

Odd grunts and snorts seemed to signify the agreement of Lily’s comment amongst her friends. Out of them all, Amelie was the only one who (for reasons unknown to all but her warped and wacky self) revelled in thunderstorms (“It’s just something about the brutality of that thunderclap, you know… the god awful numbness that you feel when those freezing droplets settle against your bare skin… the rush of wind leaving your skin feeling raw and burnt…”). Her firm opinion was that if it were to rain, it should do so properly.

“I mean, honestly,” she had said one day last winter when the rain had been spitting down rather pathetically all day. “What is this? By the time the sodding rain settles down it’ll all have dried up again. Absolutely useless!”

But at the moment, Amelie was still not amongst them. None of them, in fact, has seen hide nor hair or the girl since she had stormed out of the common room after being engaged in a round of tonsil hockey with Fenwick. Not that they had spent much time looking for her. Kyle and Callum had both been adamant that it was vital that she be left alone for a while. They had reasoned it out, saying that if she was not given enough space to let off steam by herself, she’d let it out on them – something she’d probably never inwardly forgive herself for.

And yet, it seemed the whole lot of them had their thoughts strapped on to either Alice or Amelie. So much had happened in such a short space of time, none of them had really managed to grasp anything… though they all knew that that was just a sorry excuse for an – excuse. Because really, seeing as the ongoing Avery/Black debacle had finally managed to cool down (or rather, heat up) recently, they had all been rather focused on their own lives. Callum had redoubled his exercises, mean whilst keeping his eye open for any Quidditch teams he could possibly try for after Hogwarts. Dorcas had been thinking of her situation with Remus, which, after a good deal of deliberation, had constituted in her recent giving-up of the case as a bad job. Lily had been secretly trying to plot ways to get a hold of Robert’s attention (without looking too desperate, of course), resolutely pushing back all thoughts of any black-haired, bespectacled boys that dared cross her mind every once in a while. And finally Kyle, who had been keeping his eyes on a fourth-year that had recently caught his attention on more than once occasion.

Perhaps they weren’t such a fantastic bunch of mates after all?

But what were they to have done, really? Amelie was unstoppable in a strop, and Alice… well, they’d never had a problem with Alice. However much they had said they knew the girl, at the moment they were stumped as to how to deal with her in a situation such as this one. This, in turn, brought them back to the dejected thoughts of just how rotten and selfish they were; a truly vicious cycle.

‘Really,’ thought Dorcas, berating herself. ‘How can you live in the same dormitory as a girl for five years and still not know her?’

In a sudden moment of epiphany, Dorcas noted that Amelie perhaps knew Alice more than any of them. After all, she had done exactly what Alice would have hated most. And, if Dorcas was right (which she was sure that she was), it had been in full knowledge. Thinking on it, that darn girl seemed to always know exactly what would tick each and every one of them off – and when. How she managed to pick up on it all, she never knew, but she sighed and shook her head in exasperation as she saw just how down this whole ordeal had gotten the lot of them. Realising that Amelie probably knew this and all, she couldn’t help but let out a small snigger – which she quickly stifled at the incredulous looks on her friends’ faces. The thought of Amelie, enjoying herself in the torrential rain and in the sadistic knowledge that all of her friends were down in the dumps, was just…

‘Bloody brilliant,’ mused Callum, looking at Amelie’s plan from an outsiders’ point of view. ‘No-one else would’ve thought of it… ‘cept perhaps the Marauders… but then again Sirius and Amelie are so sodding similar sometimes you’d think they were separated at birth.’

Mulling over this thought a bit more, Callum thought snickering, ‘Jesus, how they’d have hated that.’

‘Right,’ thought Kyle, as he, for what must have been the fiftieth time that day, tried to sort through the incidents of the past few days and put them in some kind of order so that they were easier to think about. The problem was that there was more than one issue at hand here. First, there was the Amelie/Sirius issue, which, though seemingly dormant, had definitely more to it than met the eye. Second, there was Alice, who had now locked herself up in her room and preventing the girls from getting up there. Then, of course, the whole debacle with Amelie and Benjy, that had caused quite uproar and led to this horrible mood. Oh, and then there was Lily, who, Kyle was sure, was slightly more on edge since last night than she would have liked to have been.

But how on earth did these things all link?

Kyle kept mulling over everything, though coming to no conclusions, and making no progress whatsoever. He grew frustrated, mumbling about how lads shouldn’t be stuffed up in common rooms wondering about their delinquent friends. They should be having a laugh, trying to catch a glimpse under the next girl’s skirt… or trying to get their way through it. This whole self-pitying mood did nothing to lift his spirits.

Looking around, he the same dejected look plastered on each and every one of their faces. Every so often one of them would give a guilty start… a sure sign that their minds had drifted off-topic for a while. After all, they were meant to be thinking of how to fix this thing.

Lily lay curled up on a couch, her emerald eyes unfocused, staring at the blazing fire as it crackled and devoured the wooden logs that had been fed into it, slowly reducing them to cinders. Even though they were so close, Amelie had always been somewhat of a closed book to her – however much Lily wished she wasn’t. From that first day on the Hogwarts Express, it had been only too easy to discern that there was more to the dark-haired character that sat opposite her than met the eye. At eleven, her furtive glances and constant fidgeting with her necklace gave away her discomfort. Now, though, five years on, for her to say that she knew Amelie, would still be nothing more than a lie. Now, it had become even harder to discern the truth.

The fact of the matter was, Lily couldn’t bring herself to try and coax out information from the girl. Regardless of the fact that Amelie could be incredibly intimidating when she wanted to be, Lily greatly took into great consideration the fact that everyone needed their personal space ( - ‘a fact that James finally seems to be catching up on,’ she reflected suddenly), and never hesitated to give it. She made it a point to make sure that all her friends knew to come to her if they needed her, but she refused to bug them about it – even if she felt sick with worry half the time because of them.

Yet Amelie had proven herself time and time again to be loyal to her friends. No matter how many times they bungled, Amelie stood steadfast, forever leading the way and getting rid of the bushes, brambles and thorns that would have otherwise impeded their forever-smooth path.

A sense of despair consumed Lily as she was overcome with such a helpless feeling that she almost felt sick with herself. Desperately, she tried to think of ways she could try and improve the situation – but what could she do, exactly? If she tried to show any authority whatsoever, she was certain Amelie would shove her back down and tell her to mind her own business.

It was times like this that Amelie’s domineering attitude irked her. How was she supposed to inject some sense into the situation when she didn’t hold a nuance of authority?

And then it clicked. Amelie didn’t work with authority. She played against it; got her hands dirty. It only made sense for Lily to get help from those who wouldn’t mind getting their hands just as mucky – if not more. Her eyes lit up devilishly as her mind went into overdrive, dreaming of the possibilities. Momentarily stymied by her own brilliance, Lily at first failed to recognise the dull thuds that echoed from somewhere above them. It was only when the thuds grew louder, growing to resemble the sort of din only produced by a stampede of wild elephants that she was shaken out of her reverie.

Everyone’s attention was now fixed on the winding staircase from the boys’ dormitories from whence the commotion was coming from. They were given but a second to ponder the meaning of such a pandemonium, when a laughing James Potter literally rolled down the stairs, hitting smack against the hard wall, before rolling down the final set of stairs in a series of hard thumps, finally lying sprawled across the carpet at the foot of the stairs. He was followed promptly by Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, all of whom bumped into each other several times as well as the walls of the castle. Everyone in the common room winced as they landed with a huge crash on the floor, knowing that for sure they would soon be sporting massive bruises on their backsides.

The boys, however, seemed oblivious that they had just fallen down two dozen stairs, and that they were now the focus of the whole of Gryffindor tower’s attention. Lily couldn’t help but smile at the inanity of it all. With a pang, she remembered when, as a child, she and Petunia used to race down the stairs on their bellies to see who could reach the bottom first. A wry smile crept on her face as she watched Peter being squashed under the three huge boys, looking purple from lack of oxygen and yet still managing to laugh his head off with the rest of them.

“Ow, ow, ow,” He moaned from the dead weight of the boys above him, still howling.

A snicker to Lily’s left alerted her attention. Dorcas shared a look with the red-head, after which neither were able to control themselves. It was quite hilarious, really, though the fact that those who had plummeted so ungracefully from the stairs were The Marauders – “the most notorious group to ever set foot in Hogwarts” – added to their merriment. It was quite pleasant to see these bunch of boys cock-up every once in a while. It made them almost seem human.

“You okay down there?” yelled Kyle, not bothering to hide the amusement in his tone.

“Sure you don’t need a hand?” added Callum.

But Peter had already turned around, using his legs to a tremendous measure to kick the boys off from on top of him, not bothering to wonder where he was aiming.

“Argh, Pete!” yelled Sirius, his voice strangled, as he had just been hit in a particularly sore area. “Mind where you kick those sodding shoes of yours.”

“Get the hell off me, then!”

In a scramble of legs, arms and other body parts, the three boys rushed to their feet to save themselves from the embarrassment of being the next of Peter’s victims. Peter lay sprawled on the floor, still panting and trying to regain his breath.

“You guys’ll be the death of me,” he mumbled.

“We probably will,” said James with a grin, offering a hand to get the podgy boy off of the ground. “We probably will.”




Sitting in a chair in the brilliant white room, Amelie took in the smell that she had long since come to associate with the unnatural cleanliness of hospitals. Being more of a live-and-let-live sort of character, Amelie could not stand dottiness. It was sadly ironic therefore, that Amelie had quite frequent trips to the hospital wing during her years at Hogwarts.

Early on in her first year, of course, she had been hexed from behind by a bunch of Slytherins. She was sure that her cousins had played a huge part in this, but she had not managed to gain enough evidence satisfactorily link them to the event. Having only Lily as a friend at that time, she had been subject to yet more ridicule by the Slytherins than she would otherwise have had. Lily, extremely temperamental, yet fragile, had found it hard to cope, but had hung in there anyway. She would never know, but Amelie was eternally grateful for this act of loyalty.

In that same year, Amelie had unwittingly gotten herself into a run-in with Filch that involved a set of charmed water-bombs the size of Quaffles, a group of unsuspecting Hufflepuffs, an explosive set of dungarees and a little co-operation from the infamous James Potter. The result, consequently, had been rather scorched body parts, a marathon-length sprint to freedom, a fairly befuddled bunch of Hufflepuffs and an incensed Filch. Amelie had, due to the timing of this feat, been forced to stay the night, albeit begrudgingly. James had merely laughed at the girl’s misfortune, and skipped off to sleep with his dorm mates – though not forgetting to call her a “good sport”, and assuring her that he would be in sure to contact her if the need aroused in the future.

As if Amelie had not had enough of the various potion draughts, the stench of antiseptic that seared through her nostrils and seemed to burn her nasal hairs away, and the formidable look of the nurse who tended her the first year, second year was hardly better. Having managed to secure a place in the Quidditch team with Potter, incidents were sure to be more frequent. This of course, proved to be true almost immediately, as an enraged Sirius Black thwacked a bludger right at Amelie’s head after realising that he had lost his place. Not just to a girl, but to Amelie Avery… the girl he thought he’d nailed down long ago. Amelie woke up in the hospital wing hours later, with a throbbing headache and a desperate desire to murder Sirius. Madam Ferriby, however, knowing Amelie fairly well by this time, had used shackles to chain Amelie to the bed. Amelie was not amused.

Third and fourth year passed in another haze of bruises from bludgers, aches and pains, colds and coughs. The most notable of the hospital-wing-related incidents, however, was when Sirius and Amelie had become so angry at each other that it had developed into a full-blown duel. Knowing a decent bit of magic by that time, Sirius had come out with insanely fat, red, pussy spots all over his body, whilst Amelie had her face contorted to look like a pig. Sirius, not having mastered human transfiguration completely, and not having learnt the counter at all, had not been able or willing to rid Amelie of the shame of walking with a pig-face to the hospital wing. Indeed, Amelie was forced to endure snide pig-related comments all year after this incident, something which invariably added to the hatred she bore towards the boy.

Mid-way through her previous year, Amelie and her friends had come to the sudden realisation that she, the-girl-who-lived-in-the-hospital-wing had not, in fact, visited the horrid place all year. Her immune system had battled through the bought of winter flu, and by some chance, she had managed to withhold from Quidditch injuries. Sirius and she had reverted to relying on subtle innuendos and menacing glares to maintain their enmity as their mutual friends became more and more sickened by their constantly volatile relationship. Unfortunately, this realisation seemed to have woken fate up, and caused it to come back with a vengeance. For the last part of fifth year, Amelie was hexed twice before a Quidditch match, one causing her to swell up to the size of a balloon and the other to thicken her eyebrows at an alarming rate. One week prior to her OWLs, she was ‘playfully’ chucked into the lake by Kyle and Callum, at which time her immune system decided to take a little nap, resulting in giving her a bad case of pneumonia for which she was forced to sleep in for a whole day. Finally, before the end of the year, Amelie managed to display a sudden, unprecedented tendency for clumsiness that resulted in her falling down the marble staircase and, though managing to prevent a broken skull, ended up in breaking both of her arms instead. Amelie had not yet managed to forget the gleam that had sparkled in Madam Ferriby’s eyes as she bustled up carrying the bottle of Skele-Gro…

Now though, as she looked up at Madam Ferreus, she realised that she would do anything – absolutely anything to have Madam Ferriby look after her again. Madam Ferriby, though not the most kind-hearted of women by far, still managed to show some humanity when faced with students beleaguered with ailments. Ferreus, however, was not like that at all. As Amelie stared up into the woman’s glacial she knew. How she knew, was quite inexplicable, seeing as she had never seen the woman before, but something in those sub-zero pools of ice that seem to write, quite clearly, that Amelie would not go out of the hospital wing the same girl again. Perhaps it was the demonic glint they held. Maybe it was the way her lips curled upwards, into a half-sneer, half unadulterated maniacal glee at having yet another subject under her hands.

“Madam Ferriby is away tonight,” said the woman, her voice shrill and high-pitched as she tried to reign in her excitement unsuccessfully. Amelie looked warily at the woman, sure that her tongue had just darted out and wetted her lips, uncannily like a wolf ready to pounce on its’ meal.

“Right…” replied Amelie, still sounding unsure. She did not want to put her guard down when faced with a possible lunatic, though neither did she think it was appropriate to act like she was on a battle-ground. Nonchalance is the key.

“Yes,” dragged the woman, eyeing Amelie and her bruises as if they were her early Christmas present. “And she had left me in charge. If you would like to step this way…”

And without another word, the witch swept away towards the furthest empty bed of the hospital.

‘No doubt she wants me to as damaged as possible before she has to get started,’ thought Amelie, hating the rat-faced blondie more and more by the second.

With a wide smile, Madam Ferriby pointed a long (and extraordinarily sharp) finger towards the bed – if bed it was to be called. The mattress on this bed was so thin that was practically see-through. Planks of wood formed the board on which the patient was obviously meant to sleep on. Amelie eyed the thick leather straps and huge buckles that hung loosely from this flat surface, and tried desperately not to envisage what the last poor soul who had been forced to lie down on this – this thing - had been subjected to.

Slowly and gently, Amelie began to lift herself onto the bed, wincing as she did so. Then, as she saw the positively thirsty look of the trainee nurse grow, she wished she hadn’t. Trying to reinforce the skills she had learnt over the years that helped her remain shut in the face of her step-fathers wrath, she continued, on with her plight. A feeling of contentment washed over her as she saw Madam Ferriby’s eyes quickly taking on a more disappointed look, though this, again, did not last long. With a hard look of determination, the witch strode over and thrust Amelie down onto the plank. Obviously, she was impatient with Amelie’s dilly-dallying. She grinned widely as she heard Amelie grunt as she heard her own ribs give a sickening crack – again.

“It will all be over before you know it,” Amelie heard a shrill voice say. But from whence this voice came, Amelie did not know, because all she could see now were white spots, and before she could pull herself together, she fell onto the jagged wood and her eyes fluttered closed.



[A/N] Some major editing going on here. Tell me what you guys think! ;)



Chapter 12: A Day in the Life of a Green-eyed, Redheaded Gryffindor
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‘Acceptance is not a state of passivity or inaction. I am not saying you can’t change the world, right the wrongs, or replace evil with good. Acceptance is, in fact, the first step to successful action. If you don’t fully accept a situation precisely the way it is, you will have difficulty changing it. Moreover, if you don’t fully accept the situation, you will never really know if the situation should be changed.’ – Peter McWilliams




Amelie found herself waking to a stiff body and blinding sunlight that reflected the brilliant white walls as effectively as it would have if they were mirrors. Squinting as she looked around, she could vaguely make out that no-one was standing over her. In a strange and peculiar motion, her heart sank and soared at the same time, leaving her feeling confused. One side of her felt dejected: none of her friends had apparently come to ask up on her or see where she had been for the past hours she had been missing. On the other hand, she thanked the stars above for it – Madame Ferreus was nowhere near! Nevertheless, it didn’t help that she had gauze in her mouth and her wrists were fastened tightly by the clasps that she had seen earlier on. It seemed that Madam Ferriby had warned The Wench of Amelie’s tendency to escape the horrors that the hospital wing presented at the first opportunity. Realising that with her wand on the bedside table she could do nothing, she fell back on the wood with a dull thunk and stared up at the ceiling.

‘Very drab,’ mused the girl as she saw the smooth, even and – of course, white surface above her. It seemed the painters had been unable to restrain themselves from sparing even the ceiling from the ghastly colour. Squinting to prevent her perfect vision from deteriorating form excessive light, Amelie’s eyes continued to examine the ceiling, hoping to find anything out of the ordinary. Soon, she found that, if she squinted in a particular way, she could just make out a hint of crimson seeping through the white…

Half-amused, half-horrified, Amelie’s imagination exploded as she constructed a scene involving a student hobbling into the hospital wing, his clothes soaked with blood all down the left side of his body. It looked as if he had been subject to a hacking by another student - with a very blunt axe. She could just see the thirsty looks on the faces of the medieval healers with distinct Ferreus-like personality traits as they fumbled their way through unknown and untested potions and plants, not particularly caring about the balance between life and death of the unfortunate student before them.

Then, just as the nutty healer and her accomplice were going to pull out an organ for fun, Amelie realised that she no longer needed to squint so much. Somehow, it was as if someone had stepped into the light, providing her with much needed shade.

“Thanks,” she said dismissively over her shoulder, wishing to go back to her intriguingly gruesome daydream.

“You’re awake!”

Amelie’s heart dropped. Turning around, Madam Ferreus stood, looking just as malicious as ever. But that was no the end of it, oh no! The sadistic woman was holding a lethal looking metallic instrument that looked like a cross breed between a pair of tweezers and a pair of garden sheers.

Amelie gulped.

“Let’s get you checked, then!”




Lily prowled through the dimly lit corridors, the clatter of her school shoes on the stone floor echoing, generating a brisk rhythm – setting the pace for her thoughts. On her chest, her prefect badge flashed bright as the rays from the slowly-descending sun found its way through the windows and onto the cool, shining surface of the metal emblem that revealed Lily as the authority figure she was.

It was coming on to eight o’ clock, and though it was far from curfew, she couldn’t help but indulge in the fact that only she and a handful more students could give a legitimate excuse for any excursions past that pre-determined hour. The badge had come as a blessing to Lily – a symbol to represent the hard work and effort had come through; that the years battling prejudice had in fact been worth it. No one could say she was just a muggleborn anymore. Responsibility had always been seen as something of a luxury by Lily. Being the youngest in her family, she had always enjoyed those moments when she had been in put in a position of control, especially as she found that she coped with it with significant ease, and she held on to them with relish. The knowledge that she, within her, had the capability and confidence to be of help to others provided her with a boost, and spurred her on to do excel in the various fields she attempted. Now though, having been useful for absolutely nothing all day, her self-esteem had sunk to an abysmally low level.

Amelie and Alice’s respective quandaries each remained unresolved, and she, though having wracked her brain-cells sore for the best part of the afternoon, had done absolutely nothing to improve the situation. She only wanted to be able to think about something other than last night’s catastrophe in the common room.

The boy confused her so badly she felt it was rather pathetic. Sure he was talented, gorgeous and charming, what with his adorable smirk and tendency to knowingly get into all sorts of mischief, but… Lily sighed. Maybe she was making excuses, disregarding and eschewing his hints all the time, but how was she meant to react when in the presence of a boy who set all her senses on fire without even realising it? How would she be able to stand the life she led, if she was no longer the one who led it?

Of course, she was probably over exaggerating, as per usual, but….

Well, first she had been unable to prevent Petunia from turning into the worlds-worst-toffee-nosed-cow, and now her friends were spiralling off into some arbitrary circle of delirium. Could she not stand her ground for this one thing at the very least?

And if she did (by her own choice, of course) decide to give in to the boys remarkable allure, who was to say that he wouldn’t run away as soon as she accepted? Who was to say that James really did care for her as much as she cared for him? Call her a hopeless romantic, but if one thing was for certain, it was that she simply could not handle that much heartbreak. And heartbreak was inevitable when coupled with someone like James Potter.

Even to herself she couldn’t fully explain it; all she knew was that nothing ever seemed to work out for her completely. As a child, she had spent years forming tight bonds with her own little group of friends in primary school, only to have to leave them for Hogwarts without a proper explanation at the age of eleven. Upon learning that she was a witch, and entering the world that was soon to be hers, she had in turn lost something precious to her heart in the world that she had left: her sister. As she realised that she was in fact quite talented, she had been prevented from gleaning full satisfaction from her achievements because of the snotty Slytherins who would mock her for her supposedly “dirty” parentage. Really, then, could she be blamed for putting off the time when she’d have to deal with Potter? Call it female intuition if you will, but somehow she knew that by her enviable luck, something ill would certainly come of something so great.

A scowl etched its way deep into the otherwise smooth planes of Lily’s visage as she continued to plough her way through her thoughts, hands crossed firmly over her chest. A group of timid first-years scattered at the sight of the disgruntled red-headed prefect, starting guiltily as if they had been caught in the act of brewing illicit mixtures. If this was a true assumption or not, no-one could determine, because Lily’s mind was not processing anything but the infuriating smirk that played so often on the corners of James Potter’s fill lips, the way his hands brushed through his insanely unkempt hair, or the playful glint that crept up habitually in those sparkling pools of hazel he so unjustly claimed his own. Her mind could not possibly take in the patter of little feet scampering away when it was wondering why it couldn’t be thinking about the almost-equally handsome Robert Branstone with just as much zeal. Life was so unjust.

“NO! Bloody hell! Get off me you evil wench!”

Lily stopped so abruptly in her tracks one would think she had been immobilised. Had anyone been walking behind her, she would have been promptly run into. As it was, she had scared all the students in the corridor away with her furious muttering and growling, and it was only she who had seemingly heard the familiar screams and curses as clearly as if they had been uttered right next to her. Lily winced, knowing that her friend was doubtlessly in deep shite if something had brought that tone of panic into her usually-confident voice. Sure enough, the screams had come from the direction of the hospital wing. Knowing that a rescue-mission was indeed in order, Lily rolled up her sleeves, all thoughts of James Potter and Robert Branstone gone.




“Madame Ferreus! You’ve got to come, qui-“

There was a pregnant pause in which Lily stood, eyes wide, on the threshold of the hospital wing, not quite believing what she was seeing.

Feathers fell slowly from the air, settling on what should have been the white tiled floor, except it wasn’t. The previously spotless hospital floor was now covered in torn bedspreads, broken wooden chairs and overturned beds. Pillow feathers and ripped cases were littered across the ground, surrounding the only two people in the vicinity. Madame Ferreus and Amelie had frozen mid-movement, with the nurse’s knees pinning Amelie’s legs down in what looked like a very painful position. Amelie seemed to have fallen face-first on the floor, but her arms had been grabbed by Madame Ferreus and pulled back so that her torso was bent back over her legs. Their mouths were open in shock, and with a clatter, a medieval-looking instrument dropped from the nurse’s mouth and onto the floor.

The sound of the metallic instrument, though considerably muffled by the blankets and feathers, was still enough to make Lily gather her wits about her. Amelie, who was now in quite a bit of pain, closed her eyes and prayed for something intelligent to come out of her friend’s mouth.

“Madame Ferreus! There’s a students up on the fifth floor – shrieking something terrible. We think he might be cursed. He needs your attention immediately!”

“Cursed!” shrieked the nurse, jumping to her feet at once and throwing Amelie from her vice-like grip. “Well, why didn’t you say so girl? I’ll be there right away!”

Without another word, she left, looking like a child who had just been told that Christmas had indeed come early, leaving the two girls to stare at each other in silence.

“Well,” said Amelie in a bid to break the silence.

“Indeed,” Lily replied dryly, not fighting to cover up her lack of amusement.

Quirking her mouth to the side at this lack of enthusiasm displayed by her saviour, Amelie stood up and headed out. With a backwards glance, she looked to see if Lily was following. She wasn’t.

“Aren’t you coming?”

Lily strode past Amelie, ignoring the raised eyebrow. As soon as she was about to step out of the wing, she turned back.

“Oh, I almost forgot. Filch told me to tell you that seeing as you’ve been so attentive of your detentions recently, you get to have an extra long session this evening…” said the girl, decidedly blasé. Looking down at her watch, she continued. “…in five minutes time, in fact. I guess you’d better run along. Have fun!”

And with that, the redhead stalked off without another word.




Amelie skid along the corridor and came to a halt outside Filch’s office, panting. The distance between the hospital wing and the little grubby door on the ground floor was quite a distance, and she felt rather proud of herself as she looked down at her watch as the second hand came to a halt on twelve, indicating that the five minutes she had were now over. With a little nod to herself, Amelie raised a hand to the door so as to alert the beast within to her presence, only to find the door creaking open: an ominous sign.

A figure with dirty, matted hair and yellowing teeth leered down at the girl, his cat mewing softly at his heels, her eyes eerily alert of the company.

“Decided to bless us with your company, eh?” said the caretaker, his jaw aquiver. “Well I’ve got a hell of a night lined up for you… You won’t ever think of missing a night with me again.”

Though repulsed by the man’s choice of phrasing, Amelie knew she had no choice but to follow as he swooped out of the office, through several secret passages and along a number of eerie-looking corridors. Once they had reached a large, wooden door, Filch stopped and with a rattle he picked out the key he needed. Placing it through the keyhole, he turned it with a scraping noise so loud and jarring that Amelie thought the door must have been locked for over a century, at least. The door opened, and Filch held up his torch to reveal a room so thick with dust and cobwebs that the objects inside were not distinguishable. The light of the naphtha torch that the caretaker held flickered, not aiding Amelie much in discerning whether what she was looking at was a dead cat or an ornament.

“Get cleaning,” he said, handing Amelie a mop, a bucket and various muggle cleaning appliances that looked to be ages old and out of date. “No magic.”

“Ah but sir, come on,” she said, looking around the room with a wary eye. “There’s got to be at least a dozen Boggart’s in here and all.”

“Well then you best keep your spirits up, shouldn’t you?” he said, face alight with glee. “Nighty night.”

The man hobbled off, leaving Amelie with nothing but the cleaning appliances and the thought of how Madame Ferreus and he should never be paired together, for fear of all hell breaking loose.




Lily made her slow way back to the common room in a decidedly less vindictive mood. Knowing that Amelie at least could reflect (and maybe, by some miracle, repent) for her actions towards her friend earlier that day, she felt as if she had finally done something, be it small and inconspicuous. Because really, however stupid Alice had been, she did not need to be shaken so brutally from her wonderland. Lily, however inexperienced in these realms, knew that in matters involving wonderlands, things were rarely as they seemed.

‘Bowtruckles,’ she muttered as the Fat Lady swung forward to admit her.

She cursed the deity that caused her eyes to train on the shock of messy black hair in the corner, because it was, no doubt, the very same one that was making her hands shake and heart start beating faster. A pair of hopeful, hazel eyes locked on to hers. She knew this was coming sooner or later. A muttered curse escaped her lips as she trained her eyes to betray nothing. Not yet. She couldn’t deal with this now. But the longer she stood there and look, the more tired she became.

It was all so damn illogical.

With a tired shake of her head, Lily made her way up the winding staircase, exhausted. It had been such a dreary day at first, what with no-one knowing what to do… and then suddenly it all exploded – though she was glad it had. If she had been left to her own devices for any longer she would probably have gone mad. Now Amelie was in detention, James and Sirius were defending what was left of their masculinity, Remus, Peter, Kyle and Callum were probably in the boys’ dorms and Dorcas was surely in the girls’ compartment with Alice, who had probably calmed down by now.

Step after dreary step Lily trudged forwards until she came to a door she had come to know as her own for the past five years, even though she shared the room beyond with all the others. The small corridor was dark, and it wasn’t until Lily came right up to the door and practically trod on something that she realised the little bundle squashed in the corner next to it.

“What the-“

“Dorcas! What are you doing out here?”

Dorcas rolled around, bleary-eyed, staring up at Lily. “She’s not letting us in.”

Perplexed, Lily’s eyebrows furrowed. “Who?”

“Who do you think?” Dorcas asked dully, clearly not her perky self due to lack of proper sleep. “Alice, of course! She’s locked herself in.”

“Right,” said Lily, wondering why everyone seemed to need her help. “And did you bother at all with Alohomora?”

“Er – “

“Thought not,” Lily sighed. “Come on, get back.”

With a little shuffle, Dorcas moved out of the way. A few seconds later, and they were in.

The lights were off; the curtains were closed, as were the crimson ones around Alice’s four-poster. Dorcas and Lily shared a look before creeping forwards towards it. Peeking through the corner, they saw Alice fast sleep, her make-up smudged across her face. Tears had caused her mascara to run, tainting a patch of the pillow black beneath her. Her hair that had obviously been immaculately curled was now a chaotic bundle of blonde frizz. Lily groaned. She had obviously gone to Benjy again.

Pulling away from the curtain, she turned away and headed towards her own bed, wrenching her top from her body. It was her fault. If only she’d been a bit nicer to Alice. If only she’d stayed with her instead of running off to find Amelie. Perhaps then she’d have been able to hang on to that tiny shred of dignity that hadn’t been torn asunder.

“You couldn’t have done anything, Lily,” said Dorcas quietly, obviously noting Lily’s frustration.

“Yes, I could have.”

“No, Lily,” said Dorcas, incredibly calm. Lily looked up, seeing Dorcas on the edge of her own bed, a contemplative frown on her face. “Even if you had stayed, then Amy’s issue would have been left and you’d have been beating yourself up over it. Sometimes things don’t work out perfectly, Lily. You have to accept that.”

“But-“

“You can’t be superwoman. Your heart’s in the right place, Lily, but you’re looking at things in the wrong way.”

Lily bit her lip as she lay on her soft bed, staring up at the crimson canopy above her. Perhaps Dorcas was right. Perhaps she wasn’t needed in every tiny little thing that went on around the castle. After all, not all mistakes are bad to make. Maybe, just maybe, something good would come out of all of this. Maybe, out of all the ill fortune she’d been experiencing in her life, something incredible would appear that would cancel out all the bad.

It couldn’t hurt to be optimistic, could it?

Lily rolled over and tried to make herself comfortable amongst the layers of cloth. No, it couldn’t hurt… even if, deep down, she didn’t feel it one bit.




Another chapter done! I hope you liked this one. Much more Lily-centred. I felt she needed a little moment to vent out her emotions… and for you lot to get to know her a bit more. People who want Sirius/Amelie action, don’t worry. It’s not all disappeared. It’s only been a day since the Room of Requirement, and other stuff has been happening.
Don't forget to leave a review and tell me what you think!



Chapter 13: To Get Results, One Must Work
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The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.
Arnold J. Toynbee



 




Sirius couldn’t sleep. Really, he couldn’t. He had tried – honest to Merlin. He had flipped his pillow on its cool side about five times, tried chucking off his duvet (it was like a bloody furnace under there) and had even took a stab at counting Hinkypunks - a method he hadn’t resorted to since the tender age of six. Unfortunately, the more he tossed and turned, the quicker the sleep seemed to steal out from under his eyelids, so that by half-past two in the morning, his eyes were wide open and his feet  were simply itching for a long walk around the castle.



 



Really, he had perfect timing.



 



Resigned, he rolled out of bed and sat up, taking care to make as little noise as possible. Pulling back the curtains around his four-poster with deliberate delicacy, he saw the moonlight creeping seeping through the dormitory window, bathing the room in silver and casting obscure shadows: defining the space. The moon was like that. Sirius had always thought of it as some thing almost serene, and oddly beautiful: something about how it blended in with the night, and yet simultaneously defined it – how the brightness contrasted so vibrantly with the darkness that seemed to consume everything else.



 



In fact, it had been one such similar night when a thirteen-year old Sirius had been unable to sleep that had lead to a moon-related discovery, which in turn led to the unearthing of the true nature of Remus’ infamous ‘furry little problem’. Upon getting out of his bed, he had spotted his sandy-haired dorm-mate standing by the window and looking out. The memory was so vivid, it was hard to think of the occurrence of having happened years ago.



 



“Remus?”



 



The little boy jumped and looked back to see a bleary eyed Sirius getting out of his own four-poster. He relaxed, and let out a slow breath.



 



“You couldn’t sleep either, then?” he whispered. The other boys were all fast asleep.



 



“Not really,” answered Sirius with a yawn. It was stupid, really, that he couldn’t sleep when his body was so exhausted. Dragging his feet, he joined Remus and stared up at the sky. He had opened the window, and a cool breeze caressed their skin, and causing the net-curtain to float almost ghost-like above them; rising and falling slowly like the tide. Sirius stared up at the sky. It was early spring, and the sky was a smooth, inky black, absolute apart from the punctuations of light provided by the stars that glistened above them. Though the moon, even in its half-full state, outshone them all, sending a burst of silver light across the grounds and creating small, blinding patches of white light across the flowing and ebbing surface of the lake.



 



“The moon’s quite bright tonight, isn’t it?”



 



Next to him, he detected a sudden, sharp movement from Remus – only it was so small that it was barely detectable. Sirius decided to ignore this.



 



“Th-the moon?”



 



Sirius looked at Remus oddly. He was never this dense. “Yes, the moon. That’s what I said, wasn’t it? What else would be so bright at three in the morning?”



 



They had laughed it off at the time, but the thought had latched on to Sirius: he had found it very strange, at the tender age of thirteen, that someone should be so very wary of something so very beautiful. After all, it was only a lump of rock – there was hardly a chance it could have done any personal harm to him.



 



And so one day soon after, this information was passed on to James, and together they set about devising methods to help their friend confront his fear, and eventually overcome it. Even at that point, though, they had decided that the mission was to be top-secret – of the most classified kind, in fact. It simply wouldn’t do for anyone to find out that Remus was scared of the moon: it would ruin their reputation as the baddest miscreants to ever set foot on Hogwarts turf. No, this would be a highly secret, cunning plan; involving spy-missions, elusive undercover tests and, of course, some pointless pranking on the side.



 



Once Peter had also been informed, they sat to work. Or rather, they stood – because, as they soon found out, spy-missions weren’t really that effective with your backside parked on the sofa.



 



But tonight, there was no other Marauder awake. The room was still, and but for his own laboured breathing, he could hear nothing. (They had long since learned to put silencing charms around each of their beds. Arguments of who snored and who didn’t was, after the third consecutive debacle, deemed too girly, and they had settled upon each of them placing one around their own bed before sleeping) To his ears, the silence seemed a suffocated one, and immediately found himself needing to get out of the room as quickly as possible. Grabbing his wand and the map from the bedside table between him and James, he stepped out of the room and into the corridor outside.









“Detention on a fucking Saturday,” mumbled a disgruntled Amelie as she shuffled her way along the corridors, taking turns now and again at random short-cuts to take her closer to the Gryffindor tower. Even in her semi-somnolent state, she made sure to curse Filch and every single one of his god-forsaken ancestors. She’d only just recovered from her self-sustained Quidditch injuries, and now she was fighting off the pains that came with hours of scrubbing. It wasn’t even fair, really – she was so unprepared for her detention that she didn’t have the time to get her spare wand, or even perform a duplicating charm. Muggle cleaning was such a bore.



 



It had been an incredibly long day, to say the least. It seemed weird that just over twenty-four hours ago she had got together with Sirius in the Room of Requirement. The thought brought a smile to her face (albeit one that looked considerably lop-sided and stupid due to her fatigue). Oh, what she wouldn’t give...



 



“Password?”



 



The fat lady’s imperious tone cut straight through Amelie’s train of thought. With a jerk, she looked up to see the obese woman looking down at her through her dilated nostrils.



 



“Don’t look at me like that – I was in detention.”



 



“All the more reason for it,”



 



“Oh shut up you slob of paint. Ashwinder.”



 



The portrait huffed as she was forced to swing forward and admit the imprudent girl, who was now smirking at her. Amelie caught her mumbling something colourful, and smiled. She was having a positive effect on people - that was for sure.



 



“Well, look what the cat dragged in,”



 



Amelie whipped her head around so fast she cricked her neck.



 



“Owww,”



 



As she crouched on the floor, hand still on her neck and eyes half closed through exhaustion, she just heard the slow creek of the sofa as a weight was lifted off it, followed by light footsteps coming towards her.



 



“Let me take a look at that,” his voice came again, and with his calloused hand he lifted her own off her neck and proceeded to give her neck a light massage. Amelie let out a guttural moan, and he continued, moving down her neck and to her shoulders, spine and back, relieving the tension that had built up there. Her back arched and he leant forward and caressed her bare neck, dragging his lower lip across its length.



 



“Why are you up so late?” questioned Amelie as she shifted slightly in her position in Sirius’ lap.



 



“Couldn’t sleep,” came the reply, short and to the point. “You?”



 



“Detention.”



 



Sirius turned his head towards her. His lips were curled into a wry smile, and Amelie scowled, knowing what was coming. “This is the detention you got for pushing me through the wall, right?”



 



“The months worth, yes,” Amelie confirmed, tossing her hair back and tilting her chin up to maintain some semblance of dignity.



 



“Nice to know you’re working so hard because of me,”



 



Amelie groaned. “Oh please, stop it with these cheesy innuendos. There were enough of them last night to last me a lifetime.”



 



Almost immediately, Amelie cringed at her words. Why had she brought the subject up? Why, when subconsciously all day she had been determined to carry on as if it never happened? Sure, it had been fun with Sirius, but commitment wasn’t going to be in the equation, and well, if he wanted that, then her sitting here wasn’t going to help her resolve in the slightest. No, she needed to move – now.



 



Feeling Amelie struggling against him, Sirius moved back and looked at the girl inquisitively. “Anything wrong?”



 



Her eyebrows were scrunched up in a look that seemed both pensive and torn. He hadn’t mentioned anything about commitment, and he hadn’t said anything about their night together since then. Why then, was she being so anxious? It was Sirius, after all.



 



“Let’s… let’s just stay like this, okay?”



 



She saw the relief in his eyes, and knew he had understood what she meant by it. She had been right about him, and she felt something – something almost soar inside her and she smiled. She knew she’d have to rein those feelings in soon, but right now, she could have all the fun she wanted.



 



“Lovely,” she whispered, as she brought her lips to his.








They were exhausted - the lot of them. Hogwarts’ sparkling walls and gleaming, well-oiled suits of armour bore witness to the hours of toil Amelie had spent under Filch’s manic gleam, scrubbing away. True, she occasionally had the help of the Marauders as they served for their petty misdeeds, but the months solid work had, she thought ruefully, given her a bit too much of a masculine physique than she would have liked. Homework levels seemed to be on a never-ending incline as more and more work – each more demanding than the next – were piled upon the unsuspecting lot. And still, James Potter was refusing to relent with his dictator-esque regime as Gryffindor captain.



 



 “How else do you expect us to beat those boffs to the cup?!” he’d ask furiously whenever he caught wind of any protest from his team.



 



He, at least, was overjoyed by the thought of Amelie’s new found strength. “You can pummel them all to death now!” he had commented gleefully one day after practice as excitedly grabbed the girls biceps and squeezed it, obviously testing the rigidity of her muscles.



 



“Oi, you! No manhandling!” she protested, not bothering to mention that Lily, at least, would be most displeased if she killed the Ravenclaw captain in their second match of the season. For now though, the teams were being ruthlessly whipped into shape for the Slytherins – a team whom Gryffindor would not, under any circumstances, accept losing to. Well, not silently, anyway.



 



But the captain’s predictions had not been far from the truth. Once in the sky, Amelie marvelled appreciatively at how much further and faster she could now hit the bludger. Sirius, with whom Amelie had spent many a torrid night since the last (having both reached an unspoken agreement about their new-found intimacy), worked with her as a seamless team. Their efforts had not gone unnoticed by James, who did not hesitate to applaud them on their new-found civility, assuring them that if they were to keep up with this, they would get rid of the opposition with ease.



 



Alice, with the help of her friends, had slowly begun to return to her normal self. She had been extremely self-conscious at first, desperately fighting against waking up and going to lessons on the Monday after the incident. Lily, however, would not have it, and made sure that Alice continued about her business as normal.



 



“What do you think people will say if you don’t?” she’d ask demandingly.



 



But Alice didn’t care – they were all saying more than enough as it was. For a week she was followed around by inquisitive gazes, whispered comments and snippets of laughter from the student body, most of whom found the whole ordeal amusing rather than mortifying. On more than one occasion she had just restrained herself from hitting her head against the wall for her stupid decisions… though the thought was sorely tempting. Even more frequent was the bristling sensation that would overcome her when faced with Amelie. Still, she was defiant that Amelie had done wrong by hitting her and then humiliating her by kissing Benjy in front of the school, despite what she might have said. Nevertheless, she knew she could never beat Amelie in a fight, and so kept all her critical thoughts to herself.



 



So all in all, by the end of October, Gryffindor sixth were extraordinarily pleased to see the poster up on the notice board, alerting the common room to the Hogsmeade trip that was to take place that weekend.



 



“Yes!” shouted Dorcas



 



“Finally – we’re getting out!”



 



“Yeah, and it’s the day before Halloween, too!”



 



“How much do you want to bet it’s raining?” asked Remus, grinning slightly in spite of himself.



 



“Oh stop being such a killjoy, Moony,” quipped Peter, also grinning because it was probably true.



 



“Excellent,” said Callum. Over his shoulder, he continued, “We can stock up on all those –“



 



But what he wanted to stock up on, no-one ever found out, because Callum had just turned around to see that Kyle was no where to be seen.



 



“Eh?! Where’d he go?”



 



“Beats me, mate,” said Sirius, not looking particularly concerned. “You lot feel up to it?”



 



“Might as well,” said Remus reasonably. “We need a break from the castle, and The Three Broomsticks is always worth a visit.”



 



James, however, looked odd as he stared at the poster. Sirius lowered his voice, bent over and looked him in the face. “Mate, what’s wrong? You look constipated.”



 



Remus snorted.



 



James did indeed look pained as he stared up at Sirius’ face.



 



“Do you think I should ask her?”



 



There was no need to ask who he was talking about. Sirius surveyed his friends face, clearly reading the conflict and pain he was feeling. Lily was still, after so many weeks, playing that charade of nonchalance, and for the first time ever, James was clueless about his position.



 



“I think,” he said carefully, “that you should give it a bit more time.”



 



Because James looked like he was about to protest against this motion, Sirius continued. “Mate, I know it’s been like a month, but – just – don’t push it, okay? Let her come to you…”



 



His friend hung his head and nodded, his face oddly screwed up. It was hard, admitting to the fact that the girl he actually cared about would be better off out without his constant presence. Remus, desperate to change the track of the conversation, looked to Sirius. “Are you going to take Amy?”



 



“Eh?”



 



“Amy. Are you going to take her?”



 



Sirius looked perplexed. “Why would I want to do that?”



 



“Well you two seem to be quite, er, cosy lately. A lot of people think you’re dating.”



 



“Really?” laughed Sirius, his eyes dancing. “That’s funny.”



 



James, still half submerged in his thoughts, voiced the point that Remus was missing. “Does Amy really look like the dating type to you?”



 



“What – so you’re not going out?” asked Peter.



 



James shook his head. “You two cut it out - Sirius knows what he’s doing. He knows Amy better than all of us put together.”



 



Sirius raised an imaginary glass to toast James’ vote of confidence. “Thank you, dear Prongs.”



 



“Nothing to it, Padfoot,” mumbled the boy with scruffy hair absently.



 



Coming back from the other side of the common room, Dorcas plonked herself down on the settee next to Remus, looking blissfully calm. Amelie, Lily and Alice followed suit, whilst a still-miffed Callum made himself comfortable on the floor next to them. They had had a trying day, what with their advanced lessons ending late and their teachers pushing them harder than ever. Even Professor Flitwick had taken to setting ample amounts of homework to ensure that all spells, their corresponding movements and theory behind them were all completely set to the students’ memories.



 



Amelie, who had not yet decided what career she intended to pursue, had kept her options open by choosing Transfiguration, Potions, Charms, Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. Despite her love and talent for the subjects though, together with Quidditch practice and detention, life had become quite stressful. And despite her reluctance to include Sirius in anything she did, she readily accepted that without him and their intimate moments, she probably would have drowned in the deep end long ago. What with her rocky friendship with Alice and now (she guessed) probably Dorcas and the boys, too, life was definitely not at a high.



 



Admittedly, it was better than home by far – though that wasn’t saying much, since practically everything was. She had heard rumours recently, most of which had undoubtedly bubbled into the Hogwarts system through the Slytherin students, that Cepheus Nott and the Malfoy’s had just made a deal of some sort. What it was, Amelie didn’t know, and this thought unnerved her. After all, it would surely come back to bite her sooner or later.



 



Pushing away the miserable thoughts of her home life for the present, Amelie looked up and smiled at the sight of her friends, desperately trying to ignore the nagging feeling that things just weren’t the same as before… despite how it may have looked. She hated to bare a grudge, but what could she do? She couldn’t help it, and she hated herself for it.



 



Funny, how many things she hated about herself, she thought with a snort.







 



“Now please bottle a sample of your work, label it and bring it to the front. Clean up and then you’re free to go.”



 



Potions had never been Amelie’s best subject. Sure, she’d managed an O in her OWLs, but she had just scraped it – not at all like the strong O that potions genius’ like Lily and (she shuddered) Snape confidently pocketed.



 



NEWT work, Amelie had deduced from the off, was considerably harder. It had taken her two careful read-through’s after Professor Slughorn’s explanation to fully understand Galpalott’s Third Law, and that was just the first lesson. Even the super-intelligent Ravenclaws who seem to practically absorb information had been seen to ask the professors to repeat instructions at least once or twice.



 



The hard work which worked as a distraction from her everyday life was a cursed blessing. Having to do anything that was mandatory had never been one of Amelie’s more favourite pastimes. As a young child, she had revelled in her own freedom; doing as she pleased. The freedom and innocence of it all was so much brighter than the thought of the torture she had to sit through beside her mother every summer. But it wouldn’t do to think about it now. Thinking wouldn’t change anything.



 



Lily was beside her, her quill scratching across the label of her perfect potion. Catching Amelie’s stare, the redhead sent a smile her way, nodding her approval at Amelie’s work. She felt her ego soar. After all, that was the girl who had managed to fix James and Sirius’ delightfully soprano voices back to normal within a potion made in the space of an hour (illegal ingredients, albeit procured by herself).



 



Amelie had laughed herself silly upon hearing the story, and after felt rueful and the thought of having been in detention during the whole time. Lily confessed that after rejecting their refusal and going to bed, she had found herself feeling restless and almost guilty at what she was forcing them to go through. In the end, she had got out of bed, taken out Amelie’s stash of secret ingredients and set to work, fixing them a potion to get rid of the charm they had place on themselves. By the time she had got back, all traces of the feminine voices had gone. And though what followed after had been incredibly enjoyable for her, Amelie was sure she’d pay an arm and a leg to see Sirius and James battle with their masculinity like that.



 



When she looked down at her sunshine yellow Essence of Euphoria and inhaled the fumes, she felt elated. She knew it was sure to be a very high E, at the very least – Lily’s nod was assurance of that. She bottled a sample, secured her flask tightly, and covertly cast an anti-breaking charm on the bottle, so as to protect it from any vindictive Slytherins that were lurking around. With her loopy scrawl, she labelled the bottle and carefully slipped past through the students to place her sample at the front. She knew Slughorn wasn’t too keen on her (a fact she yet had to discover the reasoning behind), but it wouldn’t do any harm to have him see her work when it actually was worth something.



 



“You’re keen, aren’t you?”



 



Amelie looked up to see Sirius’ smirk fixed on his face. The gesture would once have been more than enough to get her blood boiling, but times were different now. She simply shot him a smug smile, blaming it on the essence of euphoria (of course).



 



‘And don’t you just know it,’ she thought, thinking back to two nights previous. “Just want to give Slughorn some joy,” she quipped, scrubbing down her work surface with a wet cloth. “No harm in that.”



 



“None at all,” replied the boy in the same tone “I’m sure the old man needs some.”



 



“Sirius Black!” she gasped, stopping and pretending to be completely mortified and flustered. “Take your mind out of the gutter at once!”



 



“Only if you do,”



 



She pouted slightly and started packing her ingredients. “That is so unfair. What’ll I do with my time?”



 



“Do some work?” he suggested.



 



Amelie shot him a grin. “There’s a thought. Though I suggest next time around you suggest something more… appealing.”



 



“Who said work couldn’t be appealing? After all, there’s work and then there’s work.”



 



Mulling over the sentence in her head, she couldn’t help but grin. He was terrible, and yet she encouraged it so much – it was unhealthy and she knew it. But it was so comfortable… and so carefree. Life wasn’t nearly so terrible when you didn’t think about it as much, after all.



 



She watched Sirius as he walked over to Slughorn’s desk and then back to James. Remus, having never liked the degree of precision and accuracy needed for the subject, had decided to drop the subject with Peter at the end of the previous year. It was strange seeing them so divided.



 



The bell rang and Lily called out to her; telling her to hurry up. And Amelie, still glowing with the after-effects of the fumes from her Essence of Euphoria, didn’t notice the less-than-loving glances sent her way by her peers, all throughout the day.



 








“Professor Binns is a ruthless ghost,” announced Dorcas to the Gryffindor table as she sat down with a plonk, her bag following suit.



 



Callum raised his glass of pumpkin juice in acceptance of the fact as Lily’s eyebrows rose. Amelie paused in the cutting of her steak and kidney pie, looked up and asked, “What’s up?”



 



“A six foot essay on the goblin massacre of the 1800s!” she cried. “I mean, sure, a lot happened, but six feet?! That’s the height of a mountain troll that is.”



 



“Just because you’re short.”



 



Dorcas’ eyes narrowed as she started at Callum. Taking the hint, Callum averted his eyes and continued to eat his food as if he had not said anything.



 



“As I was saying, it’s madness. And it’s due for Friday – you know, before half-term. Ridiculous!”



 



“Don’t worry. You’ll get it done,” said Lily in a pacifying tone of voice. “Now get some food down or else it’ll be all gone and you’ll be hungry all night.”



 



“Yes, mother,” grumbled Dorcas, not noticing Lily flinch. Amelie’s gaze flicked to Lily, wondering what was wrong, but saying nothing. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, because right now Lily’s face was as normal as ever.



 



“It’s not like you’re alone, though,” mumbled Alice, whose eyes looked so tired that it was miraculous that her hand found its way to her mouth. “All of us have been working like house-elves… it’s just a price we’ve got to pay, isn’t it?”



 



“A surprisingly philosophical statement from young Alice, there. Never knew you had it in you,” said Kyle.



 



“Philosophical?” asked Amelie, fighting a laugh. “I would have put it under ‘logical’, myself.”



 



“Not that logic is something you use a lot...” replied Kyle.



 



“I resent that!”



 



“It’s the truth.” He stated simply. “Besides, philosophy is so lame. My dad’s obsessed – goes on and on about these stupid people who spend all their time thinking about the meaning of life. I mean, how will you ever understand the meaning of life when you’re too busy thinking to live?”



 



They all laughed, enjoying the time together. It was so rare nowadays, what with them all taking such different subjects or up to their eyeballs in some type or other of schoolwork to have that anymore. It was sad, in a way… and though neither liked to admit it they knew that they all had growing up to do. A lot of it.



 



But Amelie was clutching at straws. Her future was unpredictable, and as far as she knew, not even there. Her life now, her childhood, was rapidly ending and as she watched her friends make choices, she could see herself slipping, being left behind. It wasn’t a comfortable notion, but what could you do when you were so unaware of what your future holds for you? As far as she knew, she would not be getting any money from her mother or step-dad, and whilst she was living under their roof, a job would be out of the question. It would make her happy, after all… and give her independence; something they thought she had more than enough of already.



 



The din caused by the silver cutlery on the china dishes, the laughter from the groups of friends recounting a hilarious incident or other, the raised voices and hushed whispers all together drowned out as these thoughts flitted through Amelie’s mind, racing past, though leaving imprints so deep as if they had been there for years. Every time she would enter a separate phase of her life, more problems would crop up… the more sacrifices she would have to make. She had fooled herself, she knew, to think that being sorted into Gryffindor would end it all… because even after everything, she still felt as if she should be a part of her family. Still, she desperately clung on to the thought that maybe, underneath it all, her mother did care.



 



After all, wasn’t it known that blood was thicker than water?



 



Disgusted at herself and her thoughts, at her family and their stupid, selfish, egotistical thoughts, and her pathetic existence, Amelie pushed her plate back, suddenly not feeling so hungry. The abrupt movement surprised the rest; their heads looked up and stared at the dark-haired girl. She stared back at them, her eyes defiant. She’d be damned if she acted all self-conscious.



 



“I’m not hungry, guys.”



 



Unaware of the truthfulness of the statement, a couple of eyebrows were raised, but none objected to the statement – and that was all that Amelie wanted. She was in no mood to be hurled in for questioning. After all, her crimes far too many in number and grave in sin… she’d be sitting here until next Christmas, at the very least. She began to collect her belongings from around her.



 



“I’m going up, yeah, guys? Get a head start on some of this work.”



 



“Sure, we’ll meet you up there in a moment.”



 



Swinging her bag over her shoulder, she began to make her way up the marble staircase and towards the common room. The weight of her bag on her shoulder caused her to walk slightly lop-sided, like a less grotesque Quasimodo, and by the time she had climbed two flights of stairs, she was quite certain that her back was going to break in two - if her neck didn’t beat it to it, that was.



 



In the back of her mind, she knew she had to talk to Alice and get everything out in the open. The stuffy atmosphere that had been created was overbearing, and recently she had felt trapped in the skin that she had once felt so comfortable in. Since they had started talking, the awkwardness had not been removed, but more covered up with a thick blanket - no one wanted to bring up such a subject. But it had to be done, and soon.



 



Only not by her; no. She was far too busy… far too preoccupied with trying to keep the teachers off her back, her home life in order, her school work on track, and keeping an eye on Sirius in the background. He had to stay there. Those were the important things. Everything else was immaterial to her wellbeing and presence of mind.



 



Alice would have to talk to her, if she really wanted to. After all, she had far less to deal with.



 







 



The few days passed in a flurry of activity, albeit most of which was extracurricular. What with the prospect of upcoming Hogsmeade weekend, Amelie decided to lean back and enjoy the rather amusing sight of the girls in the castle desperately trying to not look desperate whilst still trying to bag a date. In their own odd way, the guys were also a source of entertainment; Amelie thought the look of nonchalance they plastered on their faces when they watched the girls walk past them, their skirts rolled up a notch or two to show even more leg than usual was utterly pathetic – especially when taking into the account the sloppy grins that were plastered onto their faces. Walking around with such swagger, heads up high and shoulders squared… on one occasion she caught a slightly chubby boy from the year below immediately change his walk to a bop as soon as a group of girls came into view. It was hilarious, really.



 



For the first time since third year, though, Amelie had decided that she really didn’t want to go to Hogsmeade with anyone of the opposite gender. The thrill, she told herself, had worn off, faded away… especially since she had by now had a history with practically every other half-way decent boy in the school. It just wasn’t fun to tease the same boy twice. And besides, she had more than enough to do without having to chaperone and entertain yet another idiot.



 



When she had looked through the mass-load of paraphernalia in her trunk earlier that day (a process which takes up times, effort and, on the part of the bed on which her things were dunked, a lot of strain), she noticed she was lacking in various important items. This trip was, obviously, the perfect opportunity to stock up. She could go with Lily, Dorcas and – and Alice, she supposed, and together they would go around Hogsmeade and act like normal girls their age do when they’re single and carefree.



 



‘That’s what we are, after all,’ she thought confidently. A small voice in the back of her mind squawked in protest at the thought, but Amelie mentally threw a pillow at it. A light thud and another, slightly more panicked squawk told her she had reached her mark. She smiled. That, indeed, is what they were.



 



Though the ‘single’ term, she couldn’t help but think didn’t apply to all the boys. Kyle, Amelie had noticed, to her secret glee, went into a silent stupor whenever the conversation steered to the weekend that was coming up (which, of course, was more and more frequent now), and the faintest of blushes that crept up his pale skin. If she was correct (and she most probably was), then Kyle had been far more subtle than she had ever imagined him capable of being. Mentally, she applauded him – though she made sure not to let anything on. It was interesting to see how far he could go without mentioning something so colossal. Because Kyle, with all of his swagger, had only been out with two other girls to date. And none of them really lasted that long.



 



Though she was happy for her friend, as she watched him furtively from over her book on the Friday evening before the trip, she couldn’t help but realise that but months ago, she would never have been so perceptive. Last term, she would have been spending more time thinking about herself; planning her various escapades, doing just enough work to please the teachers and yet little enough to have more freedom than the rest of the year group and planning various painful and slow deaths to her cousins who would walk pass her in the halls with snooty looks to notice. Now, though, thinking about herself hadn’t been that appealing. Unpleasant thoughts and unwanted memories were pushed aside more and more frequently – she refused to brood on them. And instead, she seemed to have unconsciously been filling this time by observing others, and finding that she had a keen eye for these things. She had not yet forgotten the look that had flitted across Lily’s face (she couldn’t have imagined it, could she?) the other day, nor the way Dorcas’ hands fidgeted whenever Amelie started talking to her. And again, through all this, she could feel change.



 



Every day when she woke up, she would see the winter landscape slowly creeping over the lush greenery of the summer that she had so enjoyed. Sitting in the Great Hall at breakfast, she would hear the hushed conversations of some evil Lord who seemed to be gaining more and more power outside the safe haven she had for herself. In the classroom, the teachers had begun treating them as young adults – dishing out responsibility left, right and centre. And worst of all, inside herself, she could feel it. It was inside her skin, a being she desperately wished was alien but undisputedly a part of her own self. It was morphing, slowly; it was causing the Amelie who would go out every night down to the kitchens or exploring the castle to sleep at eleven thirty every night. It was changing the Amelie who once never thought about anything but the present to one who was self-reflecting and worried.



 



Or at least, it was trying to, because she didn’t want to worry about that. She had never been a worrier, and she sure as hell wouldn’t start now.



 



She snuggled into the corner of the sofa, her hands grasping the book tighter as she stiffened her resolve. Anyone who had been watching her would have been able to easily discern that she wasn’t reading; her eyes were glazed over. Her position was not the comfortable, assured one, where she spread herself across the couch, legs up and head higher, she normally sat with, but one that betrayed a hint of vulnerability, with her legs close to her, one of which embraced by her arm, and book clutched to her. Only no-one was.



 



And again there was little Amelie, alone with herself, and her story book, separated from the world.



 




[A/N] So there you go! I liked that chapter quite a lot. What do you guys think? Amelie’s been given more of a prominent role at last. Sorry about that gap, but those other characters needed to be put in for future reasons. Thanks so much to everyone who has been supporting me through reviews and such. They really do mean a lot and they help so much, so please continue! And those who haven’t yet, I’m always willing to hear feedback from you. And don’t forget the quotage! XD ^_^



x



 


Chapter 14: The Village
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“Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.” – Charlie Brown in ‘Peanuts’


 



Were it any typical weekend, the Gryffindor girls’ dormitories would have been hushed, the silence deafening but for the odd snorts and shuffles made by sleeping girls. But it wasn’t. Today was a Hogsmeade weekend, and with Lily already up, showering and singing atrociously at nine o’clock, the rest of the girls were forced to awake from their peaceful slumber as well.



“I wish she would shut up,” came Dorcas’ voice, slightly muffled, from the depths of her pillow.


 


Amelie rolled over, agreeing whole-heartedly with the comment as she let out a low moan. It was a truly horrid way to begin the day. Mentally, she made a note to make utmost use of her freedom today to make-up for the abysmal morning she was currently battling through.



“You up yet, Amy?” came Lily’s chirpy voice from behind the curtains of the four-poster that was hiding Amelie’s disgusted face from view. It was positively vile that someone could inflict so much pain on others and yet be so happy.



“Yes, thanks to you,” grumbled the girl, dragging herself up into a seated position amongst the duvets and sheets that had been wrapped around her. With a dignified huff, she decided to ignore her friend’s responsive snicker to her own obvious displeasure.



Amelie knew why Lily was so chipper. Really, she had to have been blind, deaf and dumb not to have, what with the red-head having been at it all night: nattering on about how Robert Branstone had asked her out to Hogsmeade at long last.



Of course, Amelie would have been happy for her friend managing to finally get a moment with her crush of so many years, but a few things were in her way. The first, of course, was the early-morning syndrome that she was currently sitting through due to said friend’s atrocious singing abilities, and second, was the distinct feeling that Lily was gushing incessantly not only to show her happiness to others, but to prove it to herself as well. Though, obviously, Lily wasn’t even sure of what she was doing herself, which was in a way sad: it only meant that sooner or later she would be thrown into a very harsh reality.



Amelie had a choice: she knew she did. It wasn’t the first time she had come to a crossroad like this one. She knew she could come out right and tell her friend what was going on, to make her confront her reality, but for once, she felt reluctant. It was enough with meddling in people’s business. People were ungrateful, and they would only realise that you were right when they were too late to do anything about it. It was a sad case, really, but after what had happened with Alice, she had decided to let things run its course. Perhaps it was better that way.



“Who are you going with then?” asked Lily, pulling back Amelie’s curtains with a yank, causing blinding sunshine to catapult through and beam straight into Amelie’s eyes. Reflexively, she lifted her hand and protected herself.



“No-one. Now go away.”



“No-one?!” gasped Lily, shocked.



“Yes, no-one. I’m going alone… maybe with Alice, Callum and Dorcas. I might even decide to go back to sleep until lunchtime and head out in the evening.”



Hair still drenched and towel still around her, Lily stood, staring at Amelie, gob smacked. She was lost for words. Ever since third year, when she had managed to forge her mother’s signature (their handwriting was uncannily similar, much to Amelie’s dismay) and thus get her self permission for Hogsmeade, Amelie had devoutly followed-up the dates of the weekends, determined to wreak as much havoc (or at least, by fourth-year, spend time with as many boys) as possible.



Lily’s brain finally caught up with her mouth. “Are you sure you’re okay in there? You haven’t been possessed by someone, have you? Abducted by aliens of some sort…?”



Amelie snorted. “No, don’t you worry. You go have fun with Robbie, and I’ll occupy myself. It’s really not that hard.” A mischievous glint appeared in the young girls’ eye, and Lily felt like she was back on familiar territory.



“Okay, just don’t be out too late.”



“Sure thing, Mummy,”



Lily hit Amelie round the back of the head, and ran away for fearing of being hit back. But she need not have worried. In her attempt to fight back half-awake, Amelie got her legs stuck in the sheets and fell to the ground hard. She had a distinct feeling that it was going to bruise sometime very soon.








“Ah! Look at that! New Walking Stink Bombs’ Listen: ‘Set me off and I’ll create the perfect pungent distraction’.”



“Sounds cool, Pete. Take some.”



“Yeah, they could come in handy. Hah! Look guys. You can chew this gum and it can change your hair colour. There’s another one for eye colour, and wow! There’s even one for nose shape. They only last for as long as your chewing the gum, though... shame, else we could’ve used it on Snivellus.”



“Maybe you could take one James,” came a joking voice from behind them. “Maybe it will help you pull if you looked a little bit different.”



“Like you’re getting very far, Callum,” quipped the boy, scowling. He hadn’t exactly taken well to the news of Lily’s date, and he didn’t need people rubbing it in when he was having fun with his mates, either.


 


“Sorry mate,” said the other boy with his hands raised above his head in a conciliatory gesture. “No offence meant.”



James went back to searching for some good pranking items, brushing off Callum’s capitulation with a steely silence.



“I reckon we should take some of those anyway,“ said Sirius, veering the conversation away from the dangerous waters. “They could come in handy one day.”



Hogsmeade was teeming with students, all moving in masses like swarming ants – albeit some more rowdy than others – determined to get their shopping down for the month or so before they got back into Hogwarts. Amongst the teenagers, Professors flitted around, doing much the same. One particular crowd was sitting outside the Three Broomsticks with the good-looking new landlady, Madam Rosmerta, as company. She and Professor Cress, oddly, seemed to be having a great time: both chain smoking and holding a pint in hand whilst listening to Horace Slughorn’s rambunctious laughter. It was always interesting to see the ‘other side’ of the Professors (especially the slightly wild side of the younger ones like Professor Cress) outside of the classroom – albeit a bit strange. It was almost as if they weren’t meant to have social lives, and by them standing and clearly disproving this unwritten theory, they were going against the laws of nature itself.



As the Marauders headed over to the Three Broomsticks for lunch with Callum and Dorcas, they spotted Professor Petty, the young astronomy professor, turning on the charm for a girl from the village, who looked around twenty. Peter shuddered. The other boys, however, seemed not at all deterred, and began to shout over a few catcalls, laughing as they entered the pub, ignoring Dorcas and Alice’s protests that they were being “inconsiderate” and that the “poor girl” was probably embarrassed now.



“Hello, all!”



“Amy!”



Amelie laughed, throwing one arm around Callum, her long hair flowing down one side of her body. The hours’ extra sleep had done her good, and she had visibly put extra effort into her days outfit. Whilst she was getting approving glances from the boys, Alice bristled, feeling a sudden surge of resentment, though then fought to move it down. There was no point bringing it up. But already Dorcas had noticed and noted the animosity in Alice’s glance, and raised a mental eyebrow.



“I thought you lot would come in here sooner or later. Go take a seat; I’ll get Will to bring us some drinks.” With a slight smirk and a nod of her head, she sauntered off in the direction of a good-looking blonde man at the bar.



“Bit old, isn’t he?” asked Remus.



“Since when has that stopped her?” asked James, a trace of amusement in his voice. “Come on, let’s go get seats before they all fill up.” 



Lunch was, for the most part, a pleasant affair; not particularly eventful apart from Peter snorting out his butterbeer after a particularly witty joke on Sirius’ part at the cost of a large witch who had just walked in. Kyle’s disappearance was noted by all, which lead to Amelie’s mentioning of the delightful shade of crimson he had gone on several occasions.



“Ooh,” began Dorcas, positively gleeful. “We just have to go and see who he’s with.”



“I can’t believe he didn’t tell me!” huffed Callum, arms crossed.



James patted him on the back. “Don’t worry, mate. We’ll find out soon enough – then we can both take the piss out of him together. Imagine if they’re in Madam Puddifoots!”



Amelie, as she leant sideways into Sirius, mumbled, “How much do you want to bet that this is exactly why he didn’t mention anything?”



“He’s stupider than I thought if he did that – we were bound to notice. Look – now he’s whetted their appetite. They’re not going to get out of this little ‘spy boy’ phase any time soon.”



True to Sirius’ words, the conversation which ensued covered was fervours and all-encompassing: taking into account facts as momentous as whom the girl in question was (whether in fact the person in question was a girl was a point raised by Peter, which was quickly shot down by majority dissent), and even trivialities as to where they could be and how Kyle’s “girl” would look like. Personally, Remus thought that he would be going for the traditional ‘blonde and busty’ type, hence bringing about the idea that he had not told them for the shame of having to admit he couldn’t get a girl that perhaps needed a bit of persuasion.



Alice abruptly stood up to get another drink.





  
Kyle had a grin plastered on his face as he walked down Hogsmeade with Olivia Hedges on his arm. The girl was two years his junior, but the most amazing Chaser he had ever seen. It had been last year when he was watching the Gryffindor tryouts (Callum had gone for the seeker position that same year) when he had first seen her, and immediately put her down in the top five of people-to-annoy list: her short stature and curly locks of mousy brown hair could have been put to use in so many ways.



But over the year, Kyle had unconsciously learned a bit more about her. He knew her favourite colour was dark green, that she couldn’t live without her jeans and that she hated to tie her hair up so she tried to keep it from growing too long. Her loud laugh and quick, quick, speedy movements and small frame had sparked his interest, and so he had been determined, upon seeing the Hogsmeade poster up on the board a few weeks back, to ask her before anyone else had a chance to.



Now that he was here, though, Kyle was uncharacteristically nervous. After all, the girl was two years younger than him: what was he meant to do? What boundaries was he meant to keep? How much experience did she have, if any at all? Would she mind if he put his arm around her waist? He shook his head. He was being stupid, reading in to the situation far too much than was necessary. Taking a deep breath, he resolved to see where the day would take them both.



“Where do you fancy going?” 



Olivia looked up, her hazel green eyes thoughtful. “It’s my Mum’s birthday next week. I was thinking of buying something for her.”



“Any idea of what you’re going to get?”



“Not really. She’s so fussy… never satisfied. I think I might get her a card and a bunch of flowers and hope the owl doesn’t get a thorn stuck in its foot half-way there.”



Grinning at her easy ability to make conversation, the two made their way to the owl-post office, searching for some nice greeting cards, mean whilst laughing at the idea of sending ones that were obviously inappropriate for the occasion.



Noticing the disruption from this usually-silent section of the shop, an assistant came over, looking altogether none too pleased. Her nose was scrunched up into a haughty look of disdain, and her straight here was pulled back into a rigid ponytail at the back of her head so firmly that it raised her eyebrows by a good few centimetres.



“Excuse me. Is anything the problem?” she asked, rather rudely, Kyle thought.



“Not really,” answered Olivia, rather nonchalantly as she resumed looking for cards. “Do you have a problem?”



“Why yes, as a matter of fact I do.”



“Poor you,” she continued, rather blasé. “Look here Kyle – “



“‘To beator not to beat, that is the question.’” He looked perplexedly up at the girl, mouth refraining from smiling at her brazen behaviour. As she opened the card, Kyle choked back on his laughter as it read, ‘I meant the cake, you dirty sod! Happy Birthday!’



A cough from the background alerted their attention once again to the shop attendant, who had now arched one eyebrow significantly.



“Yes?”



“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave the shop. You’re disturbing the customers.”



“What?! We are the customers!” 



“Be that as it may, you are intimidating everyone else and making them reluctant to come into this area.”



Kyle looked around the shop, and noted that apart from them, only two other people were in the shop, one of them an elderly man who, judging by the conversation he was having with the other assistant, was hard of hearing. 



“Who else? There’s not many other people here.”



“My point exactly.”



Olivia’s scepticism was still obvious, and Kyle had a feeling that she would have liked nothing better than to have rammed her wand down the assistant’s throat. Amusing though that probably would have been, he decided against it, thinking that it would be best if their first date was not marred by allegations of physical abuse.



“Come on, let’s just get a card and get out of here. We’ll go some place else.”



With a gentle touch, he steered her away, though he felt her reluctance. Once they got to the counter, she quickly paid for all her stuff and then almost ran out, stopping outside the shop for Kyle to catch up with her.



“Whoa! Slow down, woman.”



“She was a bitch and a half, that assistant was. You’re disturbing the customers, my arse. How much do you want to bet that we were disturbing her cogitations over her non-existent sex life?”



Kyle laughed at her vindictive behaviour, overjoyed at the amount of life that seemed to ooze out of her, and the way her eyes darkened at the thought of the shop assistant.



“Or maybe,” he said, stepping closer to her, “she was upset that you probably have more of a love-life than she does.” 



“Perhaps,” mumbled Olivia, looking slightly out of sorts at their proximity. Her heart pounded against her ribcage with an unknown fervour as she felt his breath tickle her neck, and then felt it soar as she opened her mouth and met his with a slow, luxurious kiss.


 






“You look nice today.”



“Thanks.”



She had been blushing. She had felt it: the heat on her cheeks and face had been burning through her, though her hands, buried in the depths of her jeans pockets, were frozen.



‘Way to go Lily. Just go match your face with your hair. It’s sure to have him drooling…’



Robert, for his part, hadn’t seemed to have minded at all that his date looked like a tomato. In fact, he had acted very suave all day: gentlemanly, kind and polite and occasionally funny… Together they had popped into Scrivenshafts, Dervish and Bangs and picked up a little something to eat from Madam Puddifoots to eat as they looked around Honeydukes. Lily was impressed with the way he allowed her space, making sure not to suffocate her so early on. All in all, she had to admit that she had enjoyed herself a lot. Even as she looked across the bench they were sitting at, she couldn’t help but appreciate the bright twinkle of his blue eyes, the slight upturn of his straight nose and the smooth way his mouth opened to show that straight line of sparkling teeth.



“…and she just comes along, bats her eyelashes at my dad and everything suddenly becomes my fault,” he said. “So what about you? You have any siblings?”



Lily turned around, looking at the little fountain across them in the centre of the square, admiring the way the flecks of light reflected off the water whilst she deliberated her answer. A simple “yeah,” was all she could manage.



“Sore subject?” asked Robert, head cocked to the side. 



Lily simply nodded, her red hair flopping gracelessly into her face.



“Families can be very annoying sometimes. I’m sure she’s not as bad as she seems…”



Lily didn’t answer, which Robert took to be an invitation to talk more. “I mean, the twins are always at it. They’re two girls, and it can get quite vicious. But they can never live without each-“



“Listen, Rob, can we just talk about something else?”



Lily’s tone was abrupt and cold, but she was feeling too stubborn to take it back, or say sorry. Her thoughts were now flooded with thoughts Petunia, her spiteful words and that horrible day when she came back from Hogwarts for the first time to see her room in utter shambles: Beatles poster ripped and all.



“Er… sure…”



“How’s the Quidditch team coming along?” asked Lily, knowing it would get him talking.



Happy that he was back on familiar territory, Robert smiled. “Wouldn’t you like to know? I’ve heard you lot are simply dying to beat the smirks off our faces. You go tell Potter that he doesn’t have a chance. I wouldn’t want him to get his hopes up.”



Potter… the word reverberated in Lily’s mind, and suddenly a vague image reminiscent of a few weeks back came into her mind unbidden. Her hands in his silky smooth hair, his neck on her mouth…



“Potter...” she repeated, eyes still hazy. “Yeah… sure. Right.”



“Lily,” began Robert earnestly, obviously thinking that Lily was still mad at him. “I’m sorry. I should have known not to press the-“



Why she suddenly had such a short attention span, she didn’t know. Suddenly, he seemed too close, the light touch he had on her arm too suffocating. The words that were spouting out of his mouth felt burdensome more than alleviating. It was irrational, but everything seemed wrong, and the more she tried to see Roberts face for who he was, the more her eyes blurred. Suddenly he didn’t seem half as good-looking as he had five minutes ago. 



“Just leave it, Robert,” she said shortly, standing up.



“Wait, where are you going?”



Lily looked around, feeling a wave of sympathy. “I’m sorry, Rob: I’m acting like such a bitch. It’s been a great day, really, and I had so much fun. But I don’t know. Something just doesn’t feel right, and I can’t stand sitting here anymore.”



“Lily, I’m really sorry.”



Rob stood up, walking towards Lily, who suddenly felt rooted to the spot. In a flash, her mind was filled with everything about Rob: about the little jokes in the coffee shop, the relaxed conversations they had today, mixed with the idealised version of the guy she had in her head. His lips were on hers, and she could feel the relaxedness, the comfort that he was pouring into her with the gentle movements of his tongue. Her arms wrapped around his head, and she deepened the kiss purposefully, knowing that it was the last she was going to give him.







 


The door of The Three Broomsticks flew open, and out of it poured a large group of slightly tipsy, laughing Gryffindors. They had stayed inside for the best part of four hours, joking around, teasing Amelie’s attempts to hit on the busy barman and Callum trying to imitate Alice’s quiet, mouse-like behaviour in an attempt to get her to open up a bit (a method that, to be fair, worked for around ten minutes at a time). However, as the sun began to set and the crowd grew thinner, they felt that they should begin to head off too. After a peck on the cheek and a wink from the barman, Amelie felt as if she had accomplished enough to be getting on with, and so acquiesced to the general wish of leaving the premises.



“You looked happy in there,” said Dorcas, shoving Amelie playfully on the side.



Amelie froze for a split second, suddenly unsure how to accept the compliment. As soon as the hesitance had come though, she pushed it away. Grinning, she answered, “Hard not to be with a guy as fit as that.”



"You say it as if there are none in Hogwarts,” commented Sirius, donning a slightly offended look.



“Yeah, well, in Hogwarts they’re generally either young, ugly or tried - fresh meat is never a bad thing.”



“You hear that!” exclaimed Peter. “Fresh meat, she says - like we’re all prey or something.”



“I don’t think you’re much far off the mark with that comment,” said Remus, taking in the sinful glint in Amelie’s eyes.



She felt happy, though not content. It was a strange feeling; it was almost as if the happiness was artificial and untrue. Her eyes skid along the group and locked with Sirius’, and tried her best to see if she could discern anything from him, but his movements changed too quickly. The misty grey pools of his eyes seemed to flash in intensity, jumping from playfulness to emptiness in quick concession. She wondered what got him so agitated, though only momentarily.



And then it was that she saw them. Amelie spotted them before James, but she cringed all the same. They couldn’t help it. Changing direction now wouldn’t make it better, only worse. But here they were, laughing and joking, and there was Robert and Lily, mere metres away, kissing forcefully on a bench as if their lives depended on it. She felt the volume around her decreasing as more and more of their group came to notice the same thing, and then there was an icy silence penetrating through the group, thawing and creating a distance. No one could reach out to the other, and nothing could be said; the distance seemed too large to be bridged by mere words and a few well-placed jokes. But yet even so, none of them could find it within themselves to take James by the hand and move him away.



He was the first to speak. His lips seemed to open against his own will; his mind had shut down, and his eyes seemed blank.



“Let’s go.”



No-one argued.


 




[A/N] I put my work on hold for a day. I’m meant to be on a writing ban (lovely parents, really), but after coping with three weeks without, I couldn’t help it. I’ve edited all the chapters now (more or less thoroughly), and you now have fourteen completed chapters written! Go me! Also, I have now completely planned everything that’s going to happen. We have passed the half-way mark now: there should be 26 chapters in this story all together. I’m so excited to get it all written! Thanks for all the ongoing support you lot have been giving me. It means so much!



Any questions? Any queries? Either review, or pop in to my Meet the Author’s page on the forums and I’ll be glad to answer.






Chapter 15: A Black Hallow's Eve
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Life, being what it is, one dreams of revenge.




Last night, the primary wizarding shopping centre of the capital, Diagon Alley, fell subject to an attack in similar nature to that of those we have been seeing increasingly in the past few months.

The first sign of disturbance was picked up by an unfortunate Mr. Fortescue, the manager of the newly-opened ice-cream parlour.

“I was just closing up shop when I heard a loud crash in the back alley.” Thinking that it was the work of a stray cat, upsetting the bins, Mr. Fortescue went out to investigate, only to be met with a flash of red light. He had been stunned.

The attackers, however, moved on from Mr. Fortescue. An eyewitness described them as “masked and terrifying”. Within the space of ten minutes, a shop assistant at Flourish and Blotts was severely injured with crude scorch marks burnt into him, reading “Mudbloods Must Die” in clear letters. Perhaps that was why he, a half-blood, was left to spread the message, whilst the muggleborn assistant manager at the apothecary down the road was murdered in cold blood.

For months, Ministry has been assuring the public that the attacks were random, and have constantly tried to control the so-called “ridiculous” rumours that were spreading of a rising group of Dark wizards with particular ill-feeling to the muggleborn community that only created “ill-founded fear and irrational hatred”. Last night, however, our Minister was forced to eat his words in what could only have been an embarrassing speech for him, as he addressed the public.

“I regret to inform the public that a group of Dark wizards are indeed a very real threat to our security. I can, however, assure you that Aurors are currently diligently pursuing the case, and aim to capture these criminals as soon as they possible can, so that nothing of this nature ever happens happen.”

Alain Chorley’s speech, however, was found comforting by few. “He should have done this a long time ago,” said an angry store manager. “What use are his promises now that my shop’s ripped apart and my assistant is dead?”

Angry sentiments in Diagon Alley are likely to be reflected across the country as more and more people begin to wonder exactly how much our government could have done to prevent this ordeal, and how much further the campaign of these notorious wizards will go.


“Nothing like a pleasant article like that to brighten up the morning,” said Amelie lightly, folding over the Daily Prophet and handing it down.

“The night before Halloween as well – it must have been their sick idea of a joke,” Dorcas whispered.

She wasn’t the only one who was talking in hushed tones: all around the Great Hall, people were murmuring, whispering and sending furtive glanced around. Even at the Slytherin table, people were a bit more subdued than usual, but Amelie realised that a few people like Mulciber and McNair were joking around and laughing. Every now and again, one would punch the other in the ribs and they would try and stifle their guffaws, almost as if to hide their glee in the wake of everyone else’s anxiety.

Lily was playing around with her porridge dejectedly. Her behaviour didn’t go unnoticed.

“Come on, Lily,” Dorcas prodded. “Eat something.”

“I’m not hungry,” answered the red head, more forcefully than her miserable appearance would have allowed. “Tell Flitwick I’ll be late for class.”

Callum watched as Lily shuffled out of the Great Hall, her head down as if in a desperate attempt to seem inconspicuous, only her red head defied the purpose entirely.

“Has she said anything to you lot about last night?”

“Nope,” said Alice, chewing on her toast slowly. “We were all asleep when she came in, I think.”

“I wasn’t,” interrupted Amelie. “But it doesn’t matter, anyway. She came in and went straight to bed, though by what I saw I couldn’t tell how it went: she wasn’t acting happy or sad, just her normal self.”

“So you think the mood is because of the news today, then?”

“I guess so.”

Silence fell over the group, and Amelie shuddered at the mental image of a man standing over a body bound tight magically, wreathing from the pain of the curse sizzling through his skin, melting it like wax, bubbling up blisters and popping systematically into what eventually became a morbid message for the world to see. It disturbed her more than anything to know that she could easily imagine her step-father to have been that man.

“She either joins or she dies.”

Could it really be that he was part of this movement? He was callous enough, vile enough. He had the motives. It certainly was possible. If she only had proof, then she would know for certain. She had never intended to leave home. Time and time again she had dreamed of it, even gone to the lengths of actually packing her bags, but as she would stand up with them in her hands, memories of her and her father, his laughter and his mixed together into a sound so exultant that it was like music, her shoulders would drag, her bags would hit the floor, and she would resign herself yet again to the walls in which she was confined in since the age of eight.

“Talking of yesterday,” began Callum, turning in his seat slightly to look at Kyle buttering his toast in a desperate attempt to look as if he didn’t know what was coming. “Who were you with?”

“No idea what you’re on about…”

“Morning,” said Olivia, as she came over with a bright smile on her face. “Oh is that toast for me? Thanks.” She gave Kyle a quick kiss on the cheek. “I better be off – Transfiguration next. You know how McGonagall’s like. See you later!”

“So…” grinned Amelie, her eyes dancing.

Kyle’s face had gone a bright red, and he looked undecided about whether to laugh or cry. “Er…”

“You get off with our Chaser and don’t tell us anything, then?”

“So much for friendship…”

“Oh sod off you lot. You had more than enough on your minds, anyway. You lot planning on coming to Charms? Even Flitwick has his limits you know.”

“Just because his toast got stolen, all of us have to hurry up now,” grumbled Dorcas, stealing a bun from the tray as she stood to follow Kyle out of the hall.

Amelie stared at the backs of her retreating friends, the sparkle seeping out of her eyes slowly. She reached out for the paper in front of her, eyes boring through the photograph of the Minister, looking careworn as he made his speech. He looked foolish, she had to admit it. His ignorance was woefully obvious to anyone with a modicum of sense, and it had come to slap him in the face, hard. The Ministry had a lot of catching up to do if they wanted to do any damage control whatsoever.

“Miss Avery, please hurry up and get to class. You’re late.”

Nodding dejectedly, Amelie gathered up her belongings, stuffing the paper in her bag without knowing exactly why. It seemed to make sense to have this with her, this sign of things to come. Maybe some day it would help her, give her a clue as to what exactly she was meant for in this life. She needed to talk to someone – Sirius, preferably. They had both known that this conversation was coming, and it was really about time that they shoved all pretence aside and did exactly that. The situation was too dire for petty worries of self-image or stubbornness.




Charms passed in a blur. Aside from Alice almost knocking Professor Flitwick off his chair with a badly aimed ‘Aguamenti!’‘, nothing significant occurred. The usual hubbub was louder than usual today, what with everyone morbidly talking of the day’s news and what they thought should happen next.

Sirius, she noticed, was being unusually quiet. He had mastered his charm well before anyone else in the class, and had resorted to leaning back in his chair, speaking quietly with James for the rest of the lesson. Amelie snuck a glance at him, taking in the intensity of his gaze, and knowing that what he was talking about was not some playground gossip.

She felt a jolt as his eyes looked up and met hers.

With his head he beckoned her to come and sit with them, and Amelie was grateful for the momentary disappearance of his accustomed smirk. Having already mastered the spell, and not particularly partial to missing out on what seemed to be an interesting talk, Amelie went over and joined the two boys.

“What’s up?”

Sirius looked at Amelie long and hard, almost sizing her up. Her eyes narrowed into slits, mentally thinking that it was a bit late in coming, but refrained from commenting as she saw that James, instead, had opened his mouth.

“I’ll be right back.”

Looking back at Sirius, she asked, “Where did he go?”

“I guess he wanted to leave me to talk to you.”

“What-"

“Listen, Mills, how much do you know about those attacks?”

Silence swept over the both of them, and suddenly the rolls were reversed, and Amelie was eyeing Sirius, wondering what she should tell him. It was a strange feeling, and not altogether welcomde: this was not how the two acted in the face of situations like these. Still, she couldn’t help but try and dodge the question a bit.

“What you mean like the one last night?”

Sirius nodded, his eyes still locked on hers knowingly, wordlessly pushing her barriers aside and almost forcing her to speak, despite her reluctance.

“I – I… I think I might have heard something this summer that could be related somehow.”

Sirius bowed his head, holding it in his hands, fears confirmed. “Nott too, then?” came his muffled voice.

“I would say so,”

“Well then you know what you have to do now, right?”

His voice came stronger now, and as Amelie looked up into his eyes, he saw that his eyes were just as demanding. In contrast, her own mind was muddled: she had no idea what she had to do. How could he be so clear about everything?

“You can’t go back there. Ever.”

Amelie stared at the boy in front of her, her dark eyes open with shock. “What do you mean?! I can’t just leave!”

“What have you got back there, Amy? Nothing! Not me, not you… we don’t belong in their world. Going back now, with all this stuff going on… it’s a sure one way ticket to death.”

Tossing her long black hair behind her as she stood up, Amelie looked down at Sirius. “I’ll see you later,” she said, walking back to her seat with the certain knowledge that the days of playing ignorant was over, and that her mind would be consumed with thoughts and fears for a very long time.




Defence Against the Dark Arts was always hard work, but the new professor was strict and demanded high standards. Amelie didn’t mind this. It was almost like Quidditch, but more intricate, more detailed, and more versatile. Fighting the Dark Arts was a mental battle as well as a physical one: one which she had been determined to win since she had become a Gryffindor at age eleven.

Unfortunately, that day was not a practical lesson. Once a week, Professor Ramsden would set an examination question on the board, which they would have one hour to complete, as part of revision for their NEWTs. As Amelie scribbled through a rather sticky essay on how to deal with the Giant problem in the Alps, her mind momentarily went back to yesterdays Hogsmeade visit, and Lily’s kiss goodbye.

She had only told the girls. Amelie had at first thought that this was some sort of vain effort to try and get them all to become chummy once more, but then re-thought her theory. It was visible from her body language that she had found it difficult to explain the first time around: explaining it to the boys would have been too much hassle. And if Amelie’s calculations were correct, their link with a certain James Potter made her reluctant to tell them too much regarding her love life.

But James was another huge question mark. Last night, he seemed rather dejected and down. This morning, however, he seemed to have put it behind him. Perhaps it was the morning’s news that had made him resolute and put all matters of unrequited love behind, perhaps he thought it a lost cause. Nevertheless, it was sad to see him in this half-dejected state. If Amelie had not been mistaken, she had definitely heard a rather clear “I don’t want to hear about her, Sirius!” as she woke up this morning.

And if she was not mistaken, by the look of her puffy eyes at breakfast, she thought that Lily had heard it, too.

Amelie tapped her feet on the cold stone floor, created a beat to which’s pace she set her thoughts. ‘Giants‘ was such a boring topic. Sure, it was easy, but she really would have preferred another essay on Dementors like they had to do the week before, or even the question about combating curses. The hulking figures were so dull and brutal… personally, Amelie thought that it would be better off if they just carried on killing each other until there were none left. At least then they couldn’t be used by any Dark wizards…

She was growing impatient. It was the last lesson of the day, seeing as they were ending early for the Halloween feast. Looking sideways, she saw Sirius, lounging back in his chair, obviously already finished with his work. He caught her watching and sent her a cheeky grin. Amelie scowled at this blatant “Haha! I beat you!” gesture. Pulling her parchment towards her, Amelie put her head down, frowning over the way she had worded the last sentence. Rather violently, she scratched it out, and started writing again.




As per usual, the Great Hall had been decorated magnificently. Jack-o-lanterns lit up the hall as they floated around the ceiling, and charmed bats swept between them, casting huge shadows over the walls. Food and delicacies littered the table, and the students laughed as they ate, delighting in the joy of the occasion.

All throughout the feast, he had been watching them. Or rather, her…even the thought of her sent his blood boiling. His eyes narrowed into slits as he watched her throw her head back and let out a loud laugh, exposing her neck to the population. How he had wished one day to sink his teeth through her skin, rake his nails over her body. Like so many Hogwarts boys before him, he had wanted a taste of her.

Had, he said, because now, he felt nothing but contempt towards the whore. Yes, that’s what she was: nothing better than a slag, ready to sell herself to anyone with something to offer. But that just made the situation worse… to think that someone like her had rejected him.

He thought the situation had been buried some time ago, but yesterday at Hogsmeade proved everything differently. Walking down the high street with his mates was a laugh; catcalling after a couple of busty girls with cleavage on show - especially when a couple of them had a bird on their arms anyhow. But as they had sat down for lunch in the Three Broomsticks, he had realised exactly how mistaken he was.

“Hey, isn’t that the Avery girl with the bartender up there?” his friend had asked, his eyes glinting as they shifted from her to his mate.

“Would you look at that, Benjy. That fine piece of arse up there was almost yours, wasn’t she?”

Benjy had scowled and refrained from answering, choosing instead to take large gulps out of his firewhiskey.

“She was never his, was she Benj? Nah, that girl fucked your face up right nice. How long did it take before you got Madam Ferriby to fix it up for you?”

“Seems like Ferriby didn’t do a very good job,” another had laughed.

Benjy fought hard to keep from going red with anger and embarrassment. It was true that Madam Ferriby hadn’t managed to fix his nose properly. It was now slightly crooked, bent at an angle, distorting what was once a handsome face. Every morning since that day he had had to wake up to it, and remember that bitch. He had hoped that none of his friends had noticed, but he had obviously been mistaken.

“Seems like Avery’s thorough in everything,” a rather big boy with brown hair had said. “Wonder if she’d give me a go… obviously she doesn’t go for gingers…”

“Shut up,” hissed Benjy, rather more venomously than he’d have liked.

“Oooh,” they had all taunted, some of them cackling rather madly. “Hit a sore spot have we, Benny boy? You embarrassed that you got beat up by a girl?”

“It was quite funny y’know…” said one, as another two had begun to, rather lewdly, act out the scene.

He had lost his credibility - that much was obvious. The hate he bore was clear in his features. All through the starter, meal and dessert he stared at her, hoping that the fierce blaze of his eyes would penetrate into her and somehow hurt her for what she’d done to him. He needed to get his dignity back, and for that he needed revenge. His scowl deepened as he thought of how much easier this could have been if the Avery bitch was stupid.

The sound level around him suddenly erupted for a while as benches scraped back on the cold marble floor and the students continued to talk in their loud voices, still determined to have their friends hear them and what they had to say, but Benjy didn’t move. His eyes remained transfixed on his glass goblet, taking in the rim, examining the perfect circle that people had used to drink from time and time again. He wanted to smash it.

“What’s a goody goody Gryffindor doing down here all alone, then?” came a taunting voice. Benjy’s senses were brought back down, away from the murky realms of angry thoughts, though they lingered just in reach, not daring to go too far away. He listened as he heard the people around him speak, eyes still adamantly stuck on the goblet in front of him.

“Evan! You’re calling Fenwick a goody-goody? That’s on a par with calling Severus clean!”

An indignant ‘hmph!’ could be heard from the background, though no other protest was made. Snape was obviously just as silent with the Slytherins as with the rest of the school.

“What’s got your knickers in a twist, then?” said Evan, sitting down by the Gryffindor, relaxed.

“Nothing,” grunted Benjy.

“Hah!” laughed out a dark-haired boy behind them. “Nothing’s obviously got long legs and goes by the name of Avery, doesn’t it?”

At the words, Benjy held onto the goblet fiercely, and felt the glass break. He gasped as it cut into his hand and caused him to bleed. Shaking his head, he looked up. “Don’t you say that bitch’s name in front of me again, you slimy piece of shit.”

“Aw now, don’t be so harsh,” said the same boy, mumbling a quick spell to heal Benjy’s hand. “All that pent up anger’s not doing you any good. How about we, er – assist you in getting back at that slag?”

Benjy’s hand stopped throbbing at the young boy’s touch. He held up his hand and examined it. It was good as new: no scars had been left whatsoever. Yet he couldn’t help but feel curious: why would the Slytherins want to help him?

“What’s in it for you?”

The Slytherins notably paused in their persuasion, obviously trying to formulate an answer that would get them the most effective results.

“She’s Black’s bitch,” said Snape. “Why not get even with the Prince of Gryffindor? And then you can step up and get the seat yourself. It’s a win/win situation.”

The younger boy laughed. “Oh, how I’d love to see him fall.”

Benjy remained in silence, the possibilities speeding through his head faster than he could imagine. He suddenly saw himself in Gryffindor tower, with girls at his feet and all his friends begging for forgiveness for ever doubting him. In his mind’s eye, he thought of the various ways he could get back at the girl who had made his life a living hell. Casting the Slytherins a quick glance, he thought of their renowned cunning and rule-breaking abilities. He sure lacked it himself: only a while back had he been ruing the lack of intelligence he had compared to Avery. These people, however, could help…

But how far would they go with him? Slytherins were not exactly known for their loyalty. He would wait a while, he decided. If he still could not repair any damage himself, he would enlist the help of these three.

His lengthy silence spoke volumes to the Slytherins, and the felt themselves smiling as they backed away.

“If you ever change your mind, just meet us outside Slughorn’s potions room at twelve o’clock… any night. The password’s mudblood.”

And without another word, the Slytherins slipped out of the Great Hall and down to the dungeons, leaving a very torn Gryffindor inside.





[A/N] And Benjy is back in town! Yes, I’ve thrown in a few other people, too. My Regulus in this fic is slightly more sinister and evil than canon, as you can see. It would have been better to use Bellatrix, but she’s so much older. I don’t think she’d be happy with me making her go back to school. :P
So what do you think of this development in the plot? This fresh perspective? I can tell you that we are slowly going to get deeper and deeper into the main plot from now on. Hehe. I’m so excited!



Chapter 16: Of Sleeping Lions and Biting Snakes
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For the years that Amelie had been in Hogwarts, it had seemed as a sanctuary for her. Away from the world, she felt as if she was out of reach of the prying hands of her relatives and any ill-wishers. One look at the magnificent stone edifice and the enchanted walls used to be enough to flood her heart with warmth and safety – with a hope that maybe she would one day surmount to something other than the blood-traitor daughter of the Avery line.

Recent days had not been nearly as kind on Amelie: the tension in the castle was clear as mud, and it was increasing day by day. Students laughed less, whispered more, and clustered round into little groups rather than mingling as they once did as news of more and more attacks reached their ears both through the Daily Prophet and through the correspondence of their parents, whom now seemed to send letters on an almost daily basis, demanding the knowledge of their children’s wellbeing. She felt sick as she watched students shoot her wary looks, some still obviously questioning her true nature.

“How do we know she’s really on the good side? I heard rumours about the Moonstone’s son…”

“Ignore them, Amy,” said Callum as he himself opened a rather lengthy letter from his parents at home.

She turned her head away and let out a short breath, trying to dispel the tension that was gathering in her muscles, her veins, creeping through her entire body and numbing everything else. A desperate urge to run away came over her, but for the first time in a long while she rebelled against her reckless nature and persuaded herself that, at least for the time being, she had to stay put.

“That’s the second letter you’ve got this week, Callum,” said Peter, a slightly teasing tone to his voice. “Is Mummy worried about her ickle Callum?”

“I see you haven’t got any letters, Pete,” quipped Callum without hesitation. “Does nobody love you?”

“Pete’s mum’s probably forgotten about him,” snickered James.

“Stop it, you guys!” said Lily, sounding agitated as she whispered harshly down the table to her friends. “There’s been another attack,” She scanned the Prophet again, and continued, “Only more subtle this time – it was a planned murder in Hertfordshire.”

Kyle spat out his pumpkin juice, spraying Dorcas with its contents.

“WHAT?!”

“You have family there?!” asked Lily, shocked.

Kyle nodded vigorously, eyes almost popping out in horror. “Give me that paper.”

Snatching it away from the redhead, Kyle quickly scanned the day’s news and his face blanched. Lily bit her lip, and watched nervously as he got up and made his way out of the Great Hall at a sprint.

Dorcas groaned and put her head in her hands, massaging her temples with her fingers. “I really can’t take all this. It’s like I’m stuck in a nightmare.”

“I wish it were one,” mumbled Alice. “At least then you knew it wasn’t true.”

Nausea hit Amelie twice-fold as the reality of Alice’s words hit home. They had been blissfully unaware of everything for so long, and she almost felt like laughing at herself as she remembered the conflict she had felt about a month ago over the petty happenings of their adolescent behaviour. Yet here she was, at sixteen, standing on the brink of a war of which she was inevitably going to be caught in the middle of. She let out a series of curses, one more aggressive than the other, and damning life for dealing her the most miserable draw of the lot.

But she’d be damned if she’d give in; damned if she didn’t fight. She had survived since the age of eight, and to give up now was something entirely uncharacteristic and unreal. If there came one chance in her life to prove that she was indeed worth something, where she could scream to the world that she was not a bit like her family, by all that was good and true in this world she would do it, and she would do so proudly.

Picking up her belongings, she headed out of the Great Hall and towards the staircase that lead to the North tower. It was time for Defence.




It was perhaps not the most comfortable experience for the sixth year Gryffindors to be sat with their Slytherin counterparts in Defence Against the Dark Arts, especially when taking into account the recent events of the outside world. Rumours of various members of the Slytherin house had reached many an ear, and they only increased proportionately with the number of nasty ‘accidents’ that the rest of the castle suffered from. Mutterings of the attacker’s identities seemed scarce, but that was only due to the fear that had crept into their hearts: people were reluctant to discuss anything out in the open anymore.

As the Gryffindors settled down into their seats on the other side of the room, unnaturally quiet, the door flung open and a crowd of hooting Slytherins entered, all of whom were ignoring the heightened tension.

“Ooh, look,” drawled Evan Rosier as he saw the Gryffindors glares directed at them. “The little kittens are getting ready to pounce.”

“Wouldn’t you just love that?” came the confident voice of Amelie from her seat at the back of the room.

People turned around to see where the voice had come from, and Rosier’s eyes spotted the raven haired girl, who was leaning back on her teetering chair and looking decidedly relaxed given the circumstances. “Much as you like to think yourself desirable, Miss Avery, I wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole,” he remarked, lips curled into a sneer.

Amelie threw back her head and let out a throaty laugh. “Wouldn’t touch me?” she drawled, mocking his tone of voice. “Wow, you're opinion of me's changed a bit since two years ago, hasn't it?”

The Slytherin flushed a pale pink, and his eyes narrowed as he was pushed into a corner with his own words. “You better watch your back, Avery,” he hissed, putting one hand into his pocket and fingering his wand lightly, almost as if to ensure it was still there as he stepped towards the girl. “Times are changing. Your stupid little games are going to have to end very soon if you want to live through -“

His hushed words were cut short by the sudden bang that came as the door of the classroom was thrown open to reveal the back of a man dressed in dark green robes. “You watch your mouth when you talk to me, you hear that, Aldridge?!” he bellowed, obviously not amused by something the younger Slytherin had done.

With a swish of his wand, he slammed the classroom door shut – perhaps slightly more aggressively than normal, and then proceeded to sweep into the room, his robes billowing behind him. Immediately, he plopped onto his desk, facing the class, and used his right hand to brush back a lock of his dark brown hair. He stared at the class with irritated eyes of the deepest blue, taking in what was obviously about to turn into a vicious fight.

“Rosier - get back to your seat now,” he demanded.

Scowling, the boy obeyed, though making sure to throw one last hateful glance to a nonchalant Amelie, who waved goodbye in a ridiculously fake shy demeanour, making a few Gryffindors chuckle. In turn, she received a glare from the Professor, who was obviously telling her not to throw fuel into the fire.

Once everyone had settled down and faced the teacher, Professor Ramsden looked down his broken nose at them, the tiredness of his body only visible through the slight bags under his eyes. The rest of his body was tense and alert, almost alive with the magic that coursed through him.

“Everyone, get out your books. Today we’ll be studying up on counter-curses of some rather unpleasant spells, to get you ready for your next lessons practical. Any complaints and you will be in detention: we don’t want to have any health and safety issues on Friday. Now turn to page forty-eight and don’t talk to me until you’ve finished. Then I’ll answer any questions you might have. Please start.”

Silence fell upon the two groups, and though the tension was not dispelled, it was momentarily forgotten as each student sat and flicked through the section in their textbook, reading and noting down important information that they would have to learn next lesson. Professor Ramsden was greatly respected by the student populace; it was known that his hand was firm and he meant business. Yet he was all the same approachable, ready to support his students. And as he had made it abundantly clear that he would only be taking the job for a year, the students had all made sure to make utmost use of him, in the fear that their NEWTs year would bring someone as incompetent as the blundering Professor Reed, whose mindless ramblings they had to sit through for far too many hours.

Half way into the lesson, a knock on the door was quickly followed by Kyle’s entry. After mumbling an apology and what was obviously a signed note explaining his tardiness, the Professor silently explained what they had to do to the boy, and he headed towards his desk, ignoring the curious glances sent by the Slytherins. He was looking decidedly happier than he had at breakfast.

“They’re okay!” he mimed, before shrugging off his rucksack and sitting down.

The Gryffindors visibly relaxed, relieved from the fear that was creeping over them for the past half hour, and so they put their heads down and continued with their work, their focus renewed.




James had been working them so hard; Amelie had felt that she would have no more energy left come the match. However, with this re-enforced hatred that had recently crept up between the two houses, the morning of the fourteenth found her excited and rearing to go. After all, she was going to hit bludgers at Slytherins and throw them of their brooms, and she was doing it legit.

A sardonic smile appeared on her face, and a sudden spark of recklessness burned in her mind. Fully dressed, she turned to the boys changing rooms, ignoring the protests of the other boys (“Hey! We can’t see them, so why does she get to see us?”) as she headed straight for Sirius. Not allowing him to speak, she took one of his hand in hers, and used it to frog march him around the lockers and out of sight of the rest of the team.

“You can beat Regulus up today for being a spineless prat,” she grinned up at him brazenly, teasingly playing with the hem of his Quidditch trousers with her fingers.

“And you can get Montague back for having the audacity to think he could better you in a verbal repartee,” retorted a bare-chested Sirius in the same manner as he leaned down for a slow, sensuous kiss.

Amelie opened her mouth to allow him more access, quickly getting wrapped up in the way her senses heightened at the slightest of his touches. She slid her fingers through his hair, and used her hands to bring his face even closer to her, gasping in his mouth as he slipped his hand underneath the top of her Quidditch kit, brazenly close to her chest. Just as she felt she could take it no longer, James came along and interrupted their moment.

“You two!” he hissed, obviously not at all amused at the way they were passing the time right before a most crucial match. “Get back here and stop playing tonsil hockey.”

No one thought for a second that this was just another Quidditch match. It was a matter of pride, and of principal. They simply could not afford to loose. Amelie and Sirius could see the humourless look on his face, and felt the gloomy reality of the situation settle in again. They followed James back to find the team all gathered, no one speaking as the anticipation and pre-match thrill consumed them.

“Right, team. I’m going to keep this short and simple. You all know what you have to do, and you’re all bloody brilliant at it. So we’re going to go out their and beat the shit out of them. Ready?”

Amelie sent a malicious grin Sirius’ way, which he returned ten-fold as the team responded loudly to their captain’s question.

“Let’s go!”




“And the line up for the Slytherin team is: Mulciber, Rosier, Moonstone, Black, Montague, Beaumont and Dinton,” came the voice of the commentator that was almost drowned from the deafening cheer from the Slytherin stand. “Rumours are that their captain Rosier has been training them hard and have turned into quite a formidable team.

“Let’s see what they do against Potters team. We have Black, Avery, Spencer, Croft, Fletcher, Hedges and Potter!”

Again, cheers erupted from the stands as the Gryffindor team did a quick warm-up lap before getting into position against their team members, poised and ready to begin the moment the Quaffle was released.

“Madam Dunstan lets go of the Quaffle, and Slytherin are immediately in possession. Rosier, Montague – ah! Great interception by Potter, who neatly passes it to Hedges.”

Having caught the Quaffle, Olivia had to immediately swerve away from an oncoming Bludger before she shot forwards towards the three hoops at the end. Spotting Lee Croft on her right, she motioned to him, and hit the ball far as he shot forwards to catch it. Shooting immediately, Lee got the ball through the hoop, and Gryffindor found themselves ten points in the lead.

“Early start by Gryffindor: let’s see if they can keep this up throughout the match.”

But Slytherin was putting up a brutal fight. Montague and Mulciber were both pummelling Bludgers towards the chasers with all their might, horrified as they were at the way they worked so seamlessly.

“Watch out!” yelled Sirius, causing Amelie to make a sudden swerve to the left, narrowly missing a Bludger to the head. She gave him a quick thumbs-up as she flew to get another pelting Bludger away from an unsuspecting James.

“And Potter throws it to Hedges who scores! Gryffindor lead twenty-nil!”

Amelie spared a second to watch Dinton in the sky with Callum, both of whom were scanning the area below for any hint of gold. Obviously neither of them had found anything as yet, so she continued to give the match all her might, determined to get Rosier injured at least once, if only to bruise his ego further.

“Look at this! Moonstone has won the tackle, taken the Bludger from an unsuspecting Hedges, and is now heading towards the Gryffindor goal, with Black and Beaumont right behind. He passes to Black, who shoots it over to Beaumont, now back to Moonstone. And would you look at that! Slytherin score. It’s twenty-ten to Gryffindor!”

Cursing under her breath for not managing to get in the way of the attacking Slytherin chasers, Amelie renewed her efforts, as did everyone else on her team. Soon, both Olivia and Lee had scored, bringing the score up to forty-ten. The Slytherins, unhappy, soon became reckless, and were resorting to the more vicious tactics to win the game.

“R. Black with the Quaffle – oh but it’s been taken away by taken away by Croft. Now here comes Moonstone flying fast. Croft, move out of the way!”

But Lee hadn’t seen what had been going on, and just has he turned, he saw the emerald clad figure hurling towards him, and with a grunt he and his broom fell back about ten feet as he released the Quaffle.

Madam Dunstan blew a whistle upon the spectator’s outcry. “Yes!” shouted the commentator. “It’s a penalty to Gryffindor. That was blatant violation of the rules on Moonstone’s part. Potter comes up to take the shot. And he scores! Fifty-ten to Gryffindor!”

Their victory was short-lived, however, as a well placed Bludger from Montague allowed the Slytherin’s Chasers space. Regulus Black feigned to be shooting left, but changed direction at the last moment, starting to close the lead between the two teams.

“Spencer heads into a dive! Looks like he’s seen the Snitch!”

The Slytherin Chaser was far behind, and was obviously unable to catch up with Callum. Another well placed Bludger from the Slytherins, however, saved their team.

“What’s wrong with you two?” shouted an irritated James to Sirius and Amelie. “Where were you when that Bludger stopped Callum from winning for us? Keep your eyes open; we need to end this soon or else everyone will get too tired.”

Cursing herself for the incompetence she was showing, she headed off, and saw Sirius do the same. Again and again they hit the Bludgers away from their team members, keeping them safe, but somehow they seemed unable to pull the score back up. The Slytherin keeper, enraged by his past four failures, had apparently managed to get back on a high, and was, much to the Gryffindors chagrin, making flawless saves.

“Somebody, shoot him!” yelled Olivia in anger after yet another failed attempt at goal.

“Don’t worry. Keep at him, he’ll wear down,” panted James as he headed towards the Slytherin chasers.

“I hope Callum finds the snitch soon,” muttered Lee as he followed them. Amelie nodded grimly as she hit a Bludger away from the boy and towards Rosier instead, who had to swerve rather hilariously to get out of the way.

“I’m sure you’ll get into the circus one of these days,” she said as she passed him. “But don’t give up your day job just yet.”

The weather got worse as the minutes passed: the bitter cold lashed against their skin, and slowly little droplets of rain began to fall against their skin. Amelie groaned, knowing her skin was going to burn from the combination of the moisture and icy wind. But she didn’t back down. Getting herself back into the rhythm of the match, she focused, keeping her eyes on the Bludgers and vehemently protecting her team. She was adamant: whatever happened to them would not be her fault.

More tugging, pushing, shoving, and foul words… the match became dirtier and dirtier as the players began to feel the strain of the time. The sky had opened once again and rain poured down by the bucket load, drenching the teams to a state of numbness. In the stands, umbrellas hid the cheering crowd from view, but their voices spurred them on. One more goal, one more save, one more Bludger to hit at an unsuspecting Slytherin… until suddenly, the rhythm was suddenly broken by a shout from the commentators box.

“Spencer shoots up and Devin down to catch the golden snitch! It looks like it’s going to end badly!”

Callum pressed forward, never taking his eye off of the little ball as it fluttered quickly from left to right in front of him. The Slytherin also sped down, his dive almost vertical. Their hands simultaneously shot out, the Slytherin’s to his right and Callum’s to his left. Callum fumbled as he shoved the Slytherins right hand out of the way, and clasped his hand around the golden snitch, his left handedness managing to secure the team a win.

“And Spencer’s got the snitch! The game ends after four hours, Gryffindor winning by 360 to 110!”

The stands erupted with glee, umbrellas flew everywhere as soaked Gryffindors reached out to hug each other. Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws also hooted with glee, happy to see that the Slytherins who had been abusing everyone else so badly on the sly were at least beaten publicly. The team began to land, aching to celebrate their victory in the common room with some of the firewhiskey that had not been used up in what had been their last drunken furore.

But the Slytherins were not at all happy. Rosier, watching Amelie and the sickening way she was hugging the Black traitor, felt a surge of anger bubble up inside him. First in Defence on Wednesday, and now here on the Quidditch pitch: she had gotten her way once too many. It was time she learnt her placed in the hierarchy of the world.

“Give me that,” he snapped, as he snatched the Bludger bat from Montague. With a quick whoosh and a thump, he send the ball soaring towards the Gryffindor team, in his anger missing Amelie by inches, and instead hitting an unsuspecting Olivia right in the stomach as she was still ten feet from the ground. Winded, she lost control of the broom and fell on to the pitch with a thud.




[A/N] Golly gosh! Poor Olivia, eh? Nasty, nasty Evan. He should learn better sportsmanship.

First of all, I have to apologise profusely for the almost six-month wait I’ve put you through. It’s not been intentional, but I had a massive plot bunny attack a few weeks ago for two different humour fics, three adventure-type stories, and another angsty fic. However, none of them are very far off the mark because of the huge amount of schoolwork that had been piling up. But exams are over now, and hopefully things will be better on the writing front.

Thanks for your ongoing support, people! I really couldn’t have done this without you all. Reviews, of course, are losvely things. Take the time to spread some love. =D




Chapter 17: Blood and Water
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The unfair attack on Olivia was, unsurprisingly, not received kindly by the Gryffindors, and only caused to heighten the already strained tensions between the rival houses. Kyle in particular had been feeling particularly vindictive, which, given his usually laid-back nature, gave rise to a few inquisitive questions and raised eyebrows from other not-so-familiar house members. James, for his part, was also taking the matter rather to heart, hating to see his fellow Chaser being taken down in such an unsportsmanlike manner.

But when had Slytherins ever valued sportsmanship, Sirius had asked rather pointedly with a click of his tongue. Indeed, when had they ever valued anything but the gold in their vaults or their supposedly superior blood? Value to them, he had said, well, it was immaterial. They didn’t know the meaning of the concept: it was beyond them to grasp on to something so layered and precious. The worth of human contact, the blessing of nobility, and the safety in the arms of a loved one… the strength of it all was lost on those pitiful creatures.

Words weren’t even that important. What did those syllables matter when he and Amelie shared those moments, those intimate moments, time and time again with languid kisses and delicate caresses? No one else could understand, would understand. Not their family, not their friends. This was just them, being engulfed in wave after wave of blissful emotion, being hit by forces they knew nothing of. Each meeting found them more curious than the last; like little children, sneaking away from watchful eyes, they explored new territory and moved forwards together. It was a world only they knew of, and no one else. Together they learnt the secret meaning behind the exposure of a smooth neck, the friction of two slowly moving bodies and the steady rhythm of thumping hearts as they each trembled, stumbling forwards in the blissful serene of their safe haven.

In their little land, no eyes betrayed, tongues held no poisons, but remained fixed in a moment; a moment of indolent passion and stolen time, where the world was ignored and life simply existed in the comfort of their minds.

Reality was something distinctly different – something that was developing into a place with so much brutality and hatred that seemed unable to stand up on its own. They could both feel the wary gazes of suspicion that flicked around the rooms nowadays; it was heavy on the atmosphere. Tongues took part in Chinese whispers, spreading round rumours, facts and half-truths with a deadly silence, spreading suspicion and misgivings into strong friendships of years’ length. No one doubted that the threat was unreal, if anything they were taking it lightly. Blood and murder was all that reached the ears from the outside these days.

Outside, inside… in their hearts they knew it made little difference. After all, there were people within the very walls of where the castle who were, no doubt, for the cause that was throwing a pall over their world.

And it was getting darker day by day. The gloom made the atmosphere tense, and the sounds of students’ laughter was slowly becoming scarcer as days went by. It hadn’t evaporated yet – not completely. Just slowly and surely, life and jubilation seemed to be seeping out of the young people’s souls, bringing about a hushed calm over their quaking hearts.

No-one wanted to think about that which would sooner or later become a full scale wizarding war, unlike anything seen for centuries. But think they did; their youthful minds couldn’t help but morbidly image the possible scenario’s once they had been given the food for their thoughts.

During these long hours of contemplation, Amelie and Sirius had long come to conclusion about a few select students. They were sure others had, too. Fact was, Hogwarts wasn’t at all as safe as it appeared. The two of them knew full well of the hearts of certain families would more than welcome what they saw as this movement to rid the world of ‘filth’. And certain children would more than happily carry on their parents’ prejudices.

Stupid, stupid children, thought Amelie. She had never been so blind, herself, and for that fact alone, she thanked whatever deity looked over them.

So the weeks of November had passed them by, with this increase in tension being only matched by the increase in intensity of Sirius and Amelie’s relationship. Olivia’s speedy recovery courtesy of the not-so-philanthropic nurse had once again begun their demanding training sessions. The great start in the year bode well, but Ravenclaw was next, and James would not lose to that utter tosser Robert Branstone.

Unbidden, the image of Lily wrapped up in the Ravenclaw captain’s arms came into his head, making him clench his fists into tight balls of tension, and forcing his eyes shut. Not a word of Lily’s love-life he’d heard of or looked for since then. It hurt too much. But however they were doing, James would make sure that git was not going to win again.

Over his dead body.

None of his team-mates questioned their captain’s ruthlessness. At best, he was tetchy and bitter when confronted these days. Besides, beating Ravenclaw once and for all would at least put a smile on more than a few faces. If it meant they had to work hard for a few weeks, so be it.

With all the tension mounting, it was not entirely odd that people were eagerly anticipating the fast-approaching festivities; to be home with their loved ones was what they wanted and needed most. Students were to have decided and notified their heads of houses by the end of the month (- only a week from now) of whether they were to stay at the castle for the break or not. Very few were undecided. Amelie, for one, was part of them.

It wasn’t like she wanted to go home - not at all. Only she had been the recipient of an owl this morning. The tawny coloured, eagle owl had fluttered down to her for the first time in years at breakfast, it’s amber eyes giving her a reproachful look – obviously he, like her mother, did not approve of her gold and crimson attire. Nevertheless, curious as to the nature of the letter, Amelie pried the parchment of the owls leg, not caring as it flew off the table with a loud, indignant ‘hoot’.

Her eyes skimmed the paper and her heart fell a tonne. Looking around the table swiftly and subtly, she noted that everyone was much to busy trying to either shake of sleepiness or to get something decent eaten before lessons to pay her much attention – thankfully. This wasn’t something to be discussed over breakfast. Folding up the parchment; in half, in a quarter, then an eighth, she placed it deep within the folds of her robes before she took up her knife and continued buttering her toast as if nothing had happened.

Now if only her hands would stop shaking.




Lily hated the library sometimes. Tome after tome of dusty books all collected in one place, though definitely necessary in a school, made her head spin. Black words printed on white pages, yellow pages, torn pages, burnt pages… screaming pages, scented pages – luminous pages. Sometimes she wished there were quicker and easier ways of collecting information. Her eyes blinked furiously to re-adjust to the room around her.

The holidays were fast approaching, and with it Lily’s habitual return home. This occasion, once one for much joy and celebration, had recently begun to create an uncomfortable, prickly feeling somewhere around the girls’ heart, and she did not really like it much. It was a sense of alienation, she had managed to conclude over the past year, that made her feel this way – but that she had even come to this conclusion so readily and easily made her moral stoop even further. It really wasn’t very nice to have your sister hate who you are. And somehow, it was made much worse when your parents would try and compensate by stifling you with good will.

Sometimes she wished that they, like she with the library, could hate her sometimes, too. If they screamed at her even once, ignored her pleas one day, forgot the slightest bit of information she slipped past them, she’d breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that she wasn’t the be-all and end-all. It pained Lily to see anyone dependent on anything, especially herself. After all, who was she?

Beside her, Alice studiously scratched her parchment with her quill, scribbling down some notes from a reference book that Flitwick had recommended them. Lily had felt slightly guilty for inadvertently ignoring her friends when perhaps she was needed most, but James Potter had an accidental habit of shaking up Lily’s priorities every once in a while. She didn’t like the first or second part of that sentence, and she’d never allowed the thought of it to even cross her mind for a moment – but that was by-the-by now. As the outside world seemed to be in ever more turmoil, affairs on the home front seemed to have grown colder, and Lily liked it that way, because even if she didn’t much like the library, Lily could never remember an instance where she hadn’t enjoyed every passing moment of winter.

This year would most certainly be the same.




Sirius wondered about what was to happen at Christmas. This was in fact the first year he would be taking part in the Potter’s festivities as a full part of their family. Well, as full a part as he could be without them actually taking him in for adoption. They had been so considerate, allowing him room for the summer, but he knew that he would be of age soon, and it would be rude to intrude on their hospitality even more. Nevertheless, it would be strange, not having Amelie around. He had become used to her presence, her nonchalant air and comforting touch. It was only as the subject had come up of where the Marauder’s would be staying for the festivities that he had begun to wonder what would become to them over the two week break.

It was a depressing sentiment, knowing that home was not in the comfort of his mother’s arms. He didn’t often like to brood over it, and thankfully had managed not to for the best part of most of his years at Hogwarts due to the presence of his friends. But now, the war that was creeping up on them had awoken a desire for people to go back and spend a good holiday with their relations. With more and more talk of it, Sirius couldn’t help but wish that he was in the same position. It was a sour to swallow, the thought that he was no longer part of the lives of his parents or siblings. He may as well have been born an orphan; all that was left of him in Grimmauld Place was a round burn-mark towards the bottom of the Great Black Family Tapestry.

‘Toujours Pur’ – that’s what they claimed themselves to be. Sirius spat. ‘Toujours Fou’ would have been more appropriate. Madness was a common trait in the Black family.

“Mum said I have to be home; gramps is coming over,” said Peter as he looked at the cards in his hands with a pensive expression that evening. The boys were gathered around the fire in the common room, and had decided the time was ripe to take a break from the work that the teachers were piling on them.

Remus snickered, sending Peter a teasing glance. “I bet you love her pulling your cheeks and fussing over you. What does she call you, again? Petey Poo? Petey Pie…?”

Peter’s face coloured as James and Sirius laughed. His defensive comment of “That was in fifth year, guys,” unsurprisingly, did not help in the least.

Coughing slightly to get rid of the left over chuckles, James sat up. “Moony, you’re going home, too, right?”

The boy in question nodded, smiling slightly as he answered. “It’ll be the first Christmas at home since second year. I’ve missed it. And Mum’s beside herself with worry. This war’s really nagging at her. And she can’t talk to Dad properly, seeing as he’s a muggle. He just doesn’t understand how bad the situation can become; he still doesn’t understand magic properly.”

“Isn’t it odd, having muggle parents?” asked Peter. “I mean, nothing against muggles, but it would be hard not having them able to relate to you. You live in a different world to them.”

“I guess it makes for interesting conversation every now and a while, eh, Moons?”

“Don’t call me that, Padfoot,” snapped Remus, as Sirius grinned cheekily. With a lighter tone, he added, “Yeah, though, it does.”

“Mum’s beside herself having you over for Christmas, Padfoot,” said James. “She owled me the other day; the woman’s gone mad with festive cheer. She said she’s going to make it the best Christmas you’ve ever had.”

Sirius, though touched, had to fight the urge to mumble a sullen, ‘that wouldn’t be too hard’ in response, but decided to act pleasant despite the dilemma that he was faced with. “That’s really nice, mate, but really, she doesn’t have to go to so much trouble.”

“It’s just an excuse, mate,” James answered seriously. “She’s been on our case to do something huge for Christmas for years, now. Only Dad and me can’t be arsed - you’re helping her fulfil one of her many life-ambitions!”

“Oh, stuff it,” huffed Sirius as he found himself unable to find a better response.

A distraction appeared in the shape of Callum.

“Eyup, lads,”

“You’re chipper,” noted Remus.

“That I am. It’s going to be a right nice Crimbo, this year. I think my Dad’s getting me the new Nimbus.”

“Nice,” acknowledged James appreciatively.

“You’re going home, too, then?” Sirius asked.

“Yeah. Kyle’s going, Dorcas’ going, Alice’s going, Lily’s going and even Amy’s thinking of going too, so there’s not much point of me staying all alone in a draughty castle with nothing but third years to entertain me.”

“Amy’s going?!” asked Peter, mouth agape.

“Is she mad?!” wondered James.

Sirius felt like he’d been hit by a tonne of bricks. Callum knew and he didn’t?! Pretty harsh, to receive the news second hand; Amelie undoubtedly knew that he wouldn’t be nearly as receptive to the idea as the others would be – they simply didn’t understand the magnitude of the event. Silly, silly, stupid girl! How could she even be thinking it?! Wasn’t it enough that she had to suffer through the summer, let alone forcing herself to endure more than was needed? And did she not know that she would be completely defenceless, entirely without back-up considering that he, the disowned blood-traitor, had run away to the Potter’s?

He suddenly bit his lip, hating himself for being so reluctant to tell her, to make her realise sooner that he would no longer be there in the summer for her. He had just wanted time, time to hide from reality from let things be. It had turned around to slap him, hard.

Standing up abruptly, he left the common room in search of Amelie. He neither heard nor acknowledged the looks of befuddlement and questions to his actions as he left through the portrait hall and stepped outside.




Amelie was in her dormitory, quill balanced on a blank sheet of parchment. But for the slight shake of her hand, it was hard to tell that anything was wrong with her. Her back was straight, stiff and resolute, her chin slightly tilted so as to have better sight of the paper, and yet still jutting out in a dignified sort of way. She willed herself to hold on to her authority, her presence in the face of these two-faced players, these sweet deceptions of the world she had once, in her own little way, ruled. Everything from those years, every semblance of the way she carried herself, restrained herself and managed her ways was flooding back to her, and in her mind, she let herself get carried away with the thoughts of what could have been.

Her nostrils filled with the musky scent of her mother’s perfume, and she could almost feel warm arms embracing her, holding her to the chest of the woman who bore her so lovingly, so patiently for nine months without rest. The light of happiness in her mother’s eyes was almost radiant, shining brightly as she was reunited with her daughter of sixteen years, Gryffindorishness be damned! And there, just behind her, stood her father - dearest Daddy - with his locks of wavy brown and his ever-twitching moustache. How her heart ached for him, and how she ran with fervour towards his out-stretched arms. Running, running –

A sudden noise behind her withdrew her from her imaginations. She clicked her tongue with impatience at herself and her foolish hope. Looking up, she noticed the window was slightly open; the breeze had undoubtedly caused the movement. Hastily she closed it, and sat back at her desk, for the hundredth time re-reading the letter she had been sent in her mother’s handsome, confident writing.

My Darling Amelie,

It has been long, far too long since we last corresponded. Indeed, I fear that you may have grown so much this past five years that even as a mother, I may not remember you, and it shakes my heart to know I have so little knowledge of my one and only child. Even if you do not believe it, I must confess to you, that I do care for you - more than anything.

Every summer you return home and yet I retreat, knowing that you have grown up without me. You have so much right to hate me, so much right to detach yourself from us, but my darling, we are still blood. You are from my flesh; it stabs at my heart as I notice how the time has flown by and I have not noticed. I realise now I have made a grave error in judgement, and do not wish to allow it to carry on further.

As your mother, it would do me great pleasure (and exempt me of much deserved pain and anguish) to have you back at the manor for the Christmas holidays. I have managed to ensure Cepheus’ absence here at that time -- he is to spend his time with family over in Scotland. The manor will be ours and ours alone.

Please, my darling child, do not cause me to suffer and wish for repentance more than I already am. Your father would not have wished it.

With love,

Mother


The letter oozed sincerity – but was it? Could it be true, that after all those times that she had knowingly taken a look at the harm inflicted by her husband and not saying a word, she still did in fact care? Even after she had not but once been taken into an embrace after the age of six, once she had declared the preference of her father over her mother in an evening gathering with close friends, did her mother still hold a sentiment of attachment to her? After all, she was the one and only child her mother would ever have. Even if nothing else came of it, Amelie knew for certain that Annette Avery-Nott would hate for her money to be squandered by her sister and her two daughters.

Closing her eyes, she could feel the intensity with which her heart was beating, how much she wished she could be reunited with the woman whose blood ran in her veins; here in this very letter – she looked down, daring to believe – yes! – admitted to her love for the child she rarely saw. Her shaking hand dipped into the inkwell. Perhaps she was being foolish, reckless even; she could not allow this slim window of opportunity to close and for the chance at a new life to pass her by, so she took it, confirming it with her scratchy scrawl of ‘see you’ on the parchment.




“You’re being stupid and irrational,” he stated calmly. Too calm, Amelie noticed; her eyes squinted as she felt anger rise from her belly. Being told that she was wrong and have him being so indifferent to her news (- surely if he really disapproved he would be angry enough to show it!) was not something she was accustomed to feeling, nor one she ever wished to become accustomed to! How dare he?!

“Excuse me?!” she all but shrieked indignantly. “What exactly do you find stupid and irrational about my wanting to be home for Christmas?”

Sirius stopped. They had just had a rather trying day, what with McGonagall demanding they all went through everything they had learnt thus far this term in one double lesson and Slughorn settling on a potion fiddly enough to even confuse Lily (if only for a moment), he was rather tried; not at all in the mood for an argument. Nevertheless, if she really felt the need…

“Well, considering how you’re always wishing to be back at Hogwarts every summer so that you’re away from them and everything they stand for, your acceptance seems to be something incredibly stupid and not to mention hypocritical for you to do. And, as for your being irrational, I said it because you obviously haven’t thought everything through properly and logically like you should have, else you’d have seen as clear as day that the words they’ve written are all poison – not one of them genuine at all. More importantly, if you had, you yourself would know exactly why you’re going back is an incredibly stupid thing to do, and so you wouldn’t be here fuming at me for telling you exactly what you need.”

His blank look and – and – his inane drivel was driving her bonkers! How could it be that he was acting so – so cruel? And moreover, why the fuck did it hurt so much?!

“Well, I’m sorry if my wish for a happy life with my family – for a chance with my mother is so very terrible for you to possibly have to witness. I’m sorry that I’ve finally managed to get a shot at patching up SOME part of my life. I’m sorry for not wanting to be miserable, alone and watching my back for the rest of my life.”

“But it doesn’t have to be like that,” Sirius whispered, some of the harsh countenance dropping. It was almost enough to make Amelie completely lose her guard, but it wasn’t – it was only enough for her to lose it partially.

“You have people who love you, Sirius. You have James. You can go to him when things get rough, but me…”

“You have Lily, Kyle, Callum, Alice, Dorcas… you’re not without friends, you know.”

“You don’t understand!” She cried. “They’re not the same. I’m not the same. I’m not like you, Sirius – I can’t…” Amelie took in a deep breath, gave Sirius a level look and continued. “I want a chance with my Mum, Sirius. Please at least act as if you’re okay with it.”

“How can I act as if I’m okay with something that I’m wholeheartedly against?! How can you, of all people, ask that of me? I’m sorry, Millie, I’m sorry if for the past few days you’ve been too busy imagining your own little fairytale where you and your mummy get all sentimental and gushy, whilst little Sirius looks on with a smiling face in the background. I’m sorry if you’ve let yourself be fooled by those few words so far as to believing that that could actually happen. But if you think I’m sorry for even for a split second for acting like this, for making you try and wake up and remember that you live in a bitter, harsh, cruel world where more people hate you than care for you, and even more people don’t give a shit either way, then you’ve got me completely wrong.”

Amelie stared up at Sirius, who was now towering above her with a closed face. She could feel his disappointment, his bitter stance, and it was overwhelming. Nothing processed in her mind, and yet she knew she would not back down. No, no, this was Sirius Black and he would not get the better of her. Not now, after she had let him have so much of a hold on her. Her mouth opened, and spoke by itself, spewing out everything she knew to be false, things she wanted to scream, puke and scratch her skin swollen for even thinking of uttering. But she would not be vulnerable, and held on to this one thought to keep her upright. She would get one over him, by Merlin.

“Oh, Sirius,” she said condescendingly. “What’s this pathetic guilt trip you’re trying to put me on? You think by saying all that I’m going to give up the chance that you didn’t get – the dream you’ve had ever since you suddenly became Mummy’s litter; suddenly became second to that pathetic little excuse for a human, Regulus? You think by making me feel bad, you can make me stay with you; hide with you for the rest of my life? What do you think, that we can continue on the rest of our lives with nothing but ourselves and sex to keep us going? Away from everyone, everything?! I’m fucking done with running, and I’m not going to be made to carry on just because someone’s Mummy can’t be arsed to ask for her excuse for a son back.

“My mum wants me, Sirius. My mum loves me, Sirius. So no, I’m the one who’s sorry, Sirius - sorry because yours obviously doesn’t feel the same way.”




The train swayed side to side, slowly rocking the inhabitants from side to side as it pressed ahead towards London for the first time that year. In spite of the grim mood, people were just as eager to get home for the festivities – the relief from the pall of grim that had been brooding over Hogwarts this past month was felt enormously but the students, and it was visible in their laughter and cheerful countenance.

A burst of raucous laughter left one of the compartments – jeering laughs of uncultured youths as they mercilessly amused themselves at another’s expense.

“Is that fit bird I saw last summer still waiting for you to get back, Si?” asked a dark haired boy called Josh, turning to the boy next to him. “What’s her name? Sophie? Sally?”

“Annie!” said a sharp-nosed, blue-eyed boy, sitting on the other side of the compartment, his face stretching into a suggestive leer. “Tits the size of mountains, she had.”

“Nah,” said Simon, tilting his head so that his blond locks would move away from his dark eyes. “Last I heard of her she was saying something about a baby.”

“Shame,” said the sharp-nosed boy, picking at his teeth. “I’d have liked a go.”

“Well, looks like you’re too late, ain’tcha?”

“Alright, alright. Keep your balls on.”

Humour laced Benjy’s words as he looked back at the boy. “Aw, come on, guys. Leave little Simon be; he’s lost his plaything.”

The boys began to chuckle, though it was redirected at Simon’s quick retort. “Says the boy who can’t even get a little tongue without being beaten to pulp by a girl,”

Benjy’s usually pale skin betrayed a hint of a blush. He gritted his teeth together as he failed to come up with a decent response, and found himself getting angrier as the boys picked up on this, and laughed even harder.

“You know, Benjy,” said the other. “After all you’d told us about that girl in Barnslow, and that other Maddie girl, I thought you’d have a bit more skill than that.”

“Yeah, Benjy,” Josh continued, poking the slightly podgy, spotty boy next to him. “I bet even Jamie could have done a better job than you,”

The jeers and taunts resonated in his mind, growing louder and louder; a cacophony. A horrid, jarring, disharmonious sort of cacophony that caused friction with nature, that went against the hierarchy at which he had but months ago been right at the top of. It wasn’t right, to have to go through this shame in his seventh and final year. Not after so long.

And it was all that bitch’s fault - the bitch with long legs that went by the name of Avery. It was time to get dirty, and get even.

He’d talk to those Slytherins when he got back from the holidays.



[A/N]A fairly quick update, no? I’m going off on holiday on the 24th July… but I promise to update with chapter 18 as soon as I get back, so but please do tell me about what you think so far of the development and such. Your reviews mean the world!



Chapter 18: 'Tis the Season
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"All that glitters is not gold"




Christmas,” his mother had always said, with a sharp roll of her r’s and a shrill tone that spoke of antiquated thoughts, “is a time for appearances.”

However, every year, Peter found that his mother’s consequent comment always varied – a feat he found particularly irksome, because he could not act the fed-up teenager and make faces at this mother’s back whilst imitating her words. He imagined it would have been a very satisfactory action. He’d always felt this - ever since he’d seen Sirius and James do exactly the same behind Slughorn’s back in third year.

“You should really do something about yours, Peter.”

The fact that Peter’s friends were all taller and broader and more athletic than he was not lost on anyone, least of all his mother. And his mother, being who she was, made a dreadful deal out of it all, acting as if his slightly disproportional frame was a heinous act against Creation. And as she constantly reminded him, it wasn’t as if he had the intellectual capacity to make up for that, either.

This was of course all meant in the most loving, motherly way possible.

To go along with her philosophy of appearances, Peter’s mother had always taken the responsibility of family Christmases – family being not only the immediate relations plus the grandmother, but as many great aunts and uncles as would fit a flat that she and Peter at times had trouble navigating at times. Mr. Fluff, who hated Peter for reasons unknown (and whom Peter’s mother still had no inclination of chucking out), made this movement worse, for he’d choose the most inopportune moments to spring on the boy and attempt to scratch his eyes out. Even so, at the Pettigrew’s, Christmas was always a rather lavish affair.

And despite it all, Peter didn’t mind much. He enjoyed being in the thick of things, watching things as they happened, even if he didn’t act like he did.




Remus used to feel guilty at Christmas, especially on those days when his parents would be forced to miss out on celebrations because of his own personal health issues. Having a keen eye from an early age made him attuned to his parents’ awkwardness in his presence. As much as he would have liked to ignore it, he couldn’t help but feel as if he was ruining what would have otherwise been a joyous occasion.

Remus changed. Finding his friends being so accepting, and yet so disposed to having fun in spite of his situation, he began to see his parents in a different light. In his mind he envisaged a scene where his childhood would have been spent under less fright of discovery and more days playing out with the other kids in his neighbourhood.

He couldn’t bring himself to feel guilt anymore when his parents still maintained that awkward stance. So, his Dad had insulted the werewolf who had attacked him; his mother unwittingly allowed him permission to play outside that night. It had been their choice what to do with the situation at hand, and as clearly as he could see the magnificence with which his friends had risen to the occasion, his own parents had failed.

So dutifully, Remus returned home every Christmas, only to ignore every instruction his parents gave him. It didn’t matter to him if he didn’t behave well. In any event, it had been a long time since he’d believed in Santa.




“Evening, Mrs. Potter, Mr. Potter,”

“Hello, boys! How was the first term back?”

The usual warmth surrounded him as he was welcomed into his surrogate home. He could smell freshly baked gingerbread cookies, could feel the tingling sensation of the warmth battling against the chill on his frozen skin, could almost taste the delicious dinner that Mrs. Potter had already cooked up for the pair of them, and he was touched. The two retired Aurors had obviously gone all out for them; decorating the house with such splendour must not have been an easy feat, and yet they had managed it.

Sirius smiled as Mrs. Potter fussed over him, grinned as Mr. Potter teased him over being coddled despite his height and laughed with the Potters as they eventually sat down together, but the warmth of this house, despite the festivities, had not managed to seep into his skin, because of another emotion that was adamant on staying there.

He had not forgotten Amelie’s harsh words that she had spat at him but days ago – it was impossible. They were callous and relentless, and even though she was no longer with him, his mind seemed intent on replaying that memory back to him over and over again, just to see if it could get a rise out of him. But more than anything, it stung.

All he had done was care about her safety. All he had intended to do was wake her up and make her realise what she knew already. Of all the people he would have guessed to have had that reaction, she would have been the last. Then again, neither he nor Amelie were ever very predictable people, especially not when it came down to familial ties.

Looking round, he could understand what Amelie had been telling him. Of course he did – both of them wanted a family more than anything. He had been lucky, luckier than anything to find a friend like James, to have his family take him in like their own and allow him to get away from Grimmauld Place without any questions. Amelie didn’t have that, and it was bound to make her want to grab at the chance of being reunited with her family. But after so long?

Something was wrong. He knew it. Why, after so many years, would her mother suddenly become so affectionate and desperate to get back with her daughter? Nothing added up, and if Amelie had not been so blinded by the want of a warm home, she would have seen it just as plainly as he had.

“Wow, that’s quite a bit of mischief. And not even one letter home this term!” said Mr. Potter with a bright smile. “Either you lot are getting better or Minerva’s starting to wear down a bit.”

“I’d go for the former, Mr. Potter,” smiled Sirius, determined to dispel all the negative emotions he had been harbouring with a cheeky grin.

“I don’t know, Sirius. Minnie seems to love us more everyday.”

“Sure,” drawled Sirius. “I’m sure that look of glee on her face when you wrote your name down for the Hogwarts Express was a way of showing her undying passion for you.”

Mrs. Potter walked in from the kitchen, her usual brisk walk slightly hampered by being laden with cookies and biscuits for the boys.

“I wouldn’t doubt it,” she interjected, back-tracking their conversation. “It’d be a great shame if James hadn’t learnt anything from his mother.

“His mother!” cried a piqued Mr. Potter. “His mother was the one who was too afraid to even say hi to me from first year all the way to third. Don’t let her fool you, Sirius. I was always the more daring.”

“Hm,” mused his wife, a smirk creeping up onto her face. “I have to hand it to you that I was a bit shy in my first few years at Hogwarts, but don’t forget it was me who threw Bulbadox powder in Professor Crawley’s pyjama’s in fifth year.”

“And a wonderful bit of pranking that was, too,” said an adoring Mr. Potter. His tone allowed his wife to sit down by him on the loveseat with a satisfied ‘humf!’

Sirius had at first found this smooth rhythm of conversation, this familiar, carefree manner in which they spoke with each other strange and perplexing. The whole concept was alien to him (the most he remembered actually talking to his parents were the odd “Pass the salt” at the dinner table), and being who he was, the feeling of being on unfamiliar territory was not welcome to him at all. But he had James. That in itself was something comfortable, and altogether the best blessing that life had sent his way; he knew his brother would never steer him wrong.

And he hadn’t. He was getting better at this whole family thing. He could almost feel the nuance of the warmth spreading to him as well. After many a discussion with James, he felt slightly less as an intruder – though even so, he would never be a Potter. There was no point in making himself too comfortable, when he knew he would soon have to move on, and start living life on his own.

Not that he was shying away from that particular hurdle of life. Just thinking about the amount of freedom he would have in less than a years’ time made the whole room seem that much brighter. The thought of being able to do absolutely whatever his iniquitous mind wished without anyone able to say a word otherwise (not that he let them do all that much now anyway) was a form of bliss that no one could comprehend, nor could they deprive him of it. He’d be in complete control of his own life for once and for all.

A slightly nauseous voice to Sirius’ left interrupted his train of thoughts. “How about going up and unpacking our trunks, Padfoot?”

Sirius grinned back at his best mate with a knowing twinkle in his eye. “Sounds like a plan, Prongs.”

And together they left the room, allowing Mr. and Mrs. Potter to enjoy each other’s warmth on the loveseat.




Lily was never much one for Christmas. Where Dorcas, who despite living miles away, always seemed determined on spreading some cheer, even going to lengths as forcing her to come carolling with her round each and every one of her friend’s houses, Lily generally spent hers sulking, wishing that petty commercialism would disappear and that people would focus on more important things in life for once. Like wars, for instance. Wars were terrible things.

And it didn’t even have to be large, blown out wars that blew apart society’s. Disagreements in the house between family members, refusal to accept other people’s views… these were the fundamental aspect’s of life that were mirrored in those massive tragedies that you saw everyday on the news. Lily just couldn’t bring herself to show much enthusiasm for a Santa who had never been there when her own sister would refuse to acknowledge her very existence.

Lily knew she didn’t need Petunia, but she reflected one day as she watched yet another trite Christmas movie, leaving the cow to her own business without worrying would have been so much easier if stupid wizards hadn’t proclaimed a death wish on anyone of her sister’s breeding.

Christmas really wasn’t what they made it out to be.




Amelie looked up at the grand, four-storey mansion as it towered over her and desperately suppressed the shiver than involuntarily decided to creep up her spine. As always, it looked beautiful, with its white-washed walls facing southwards, the evening sun catching the little droplets of water as they cascaded from the rather magnificent water feature her ancestors had for some odd reason decided to place outside, despite the propensity to rain in the English countryside since forever. The fountain was shaped like a serpent, made of pure gold, with silver droplets gushing out of its open mouth, dazzling the eyes of all the wizard’s who passed it. Though of course, this was the point of the whole bloody thing. After all, no muggle could even set their eyes on the place.

With a sudden shake of her head, Amelie scolded herself for her train of thoughts. It didn’t matter, everything that had happened this past five years. The days of Cepheus Nott were over, and she was fully content it regaining her position as beloved daughter, despite the lapse in time, and despite the lack of reception at the train station. Perhaps, maybe, she would be able to forget. After all, grudges didn’t always have to be a necessary evil. Not when it came down to blood.

But Amelie was independent enough by now to be able to get home all on her own. Her mother, being alone now in a house so huge, was obviously trying to get the last preparations down. Obviously, that was why she hadn’t come to King’s Cross to greet her with open arms. She was gracious enough to send an owl and apologise. Amelie couldn’t have been more accepting when she read the message, certainly her eyebrows furrowed a bit, but – but – that was just because she was trying to make out the writing. Her mother’s handwriting always was a bit scruffy, and apparently it was getting worse in her old age. For sure, it wasn’t because of any sort of disappointment she could have been experiencing. No, nothing of the sort.

As usual, the Knight Bus had obliged. Only she wished that Scott Patterfield hadn’t been quite so determined on catching her eye. Whatever she might have done a few years ago when said face was considerably clearer didn’t really matter. After all, men she did like, but puss-faced Hogwarts drop-outs she did not.

Though to be fair, a man would have been incredibly useful on the bus journey. The distraction one would have provided could have at least prevented her shaky hands from spilling the scolding hot coffee - the one that dear old Scott had been determined to see full to the brim – across her lap.

Reaching out for the door, she knocked once, paused for a second, and then knocked three times in a series of quick, successive wrist movements. Within seconds, the door opened – no doubt at an elf’s bidding, because her mother was making her way from the back of the house a smile painted across her face.

“Oh, darling!” she cried, “I’m so glad you came!”

Amelie had barely had time to see the expression on her mother’s face when she was suddenly engulfed in her mother’s arms. The sudden onslaught of emotions at the simple gesture knocked the wind out of her, and as she was held at arm’s length by the woman she knew she looked so much alike, she couldn’t help but be somewhat astounded. So that was what it was like, when Lily got massive bear hugs from her mother each year before she left from school, when she came back, and no doubt a million times in between.

Her father would have wanted her to have felt this emotion, to once in her life be able to acknowledge that such a force did in fact exist in the world. He, she was sure, did not want her exempt from any kind of good feeling. With a bittersweet thought, she remembered Sirius, and how he would have had her think otherwise. How she wished she could give him the opportunity to feel the same.

“My, my, how you’ve grown,” her mother cooed in her ear as once again they embraced. Amelie didn’t want to let go. It was so comfortable, being squished here at her mother’s chest. She didn’t care if she was sixteen, only months away from becoming an adult – her mother’s delicate caresses along her long black hair made her feel wanted, and suddenly, all the needs she had had in her life before that moment seemed so very petty and superficial.

Suddenly, her mother moved away, and Amelie felt so very cold again without those arms around her. Her own arms automatically replaced them, but the feeling wasn’t there. Looking up, she saw her mother moving towards the back of the house, and speaking to her.

“Come, darling, you’re freezing! Come inside and warm yourself up by the fire.”

The first sacrilegious thought was that her mother seemed to be spewing a lot of inane drivel. Her pretentious attitude, though quite visible on paper, was nothing compared to how she acted in real life. There was a striking difference in attitude and speech between her and the people she hang around with on a daily basis. Having had practically no conversation with her or anyone in the pureblood society for so many years, she seemed to have conveniently forgotten how to perfect the finer drawls. Silently, under her breath she tried a few experimental ‘muh-ther’s’ so that she would not shock her Mum into an epileptic seizure upon opening her mouth.

It was sort of strange, the new-found freedom in her own home. Since she’d been sorted, the walls she used to spend time exploring any cranny of had become strictly forbidden to her. In fact, she noticed, as she followed her mother further into the house, that she hadn’t passed this corridor in almost three years now.

It was sort of funny, how time passed like that.

Odder than anything, however, was the one thing that Amelie only noticed after she had contemplated and mused over all the smaller details. Her shock at being greeted so warmly, and her afterthoughts on the situation had completely thrown out of her mind her first instinct – which was to look around her and observe her scenery. As she stared at every nook and cranny, she felt her breath catching in her throat.

The familiarity was astonishing. Everything looked exactly how it used to in the Christmas’ before her father left. Right down to the last twig of mistletoe that hung in the corner of the parlour. She remembered clearly the golden leaves that now once again adorned the mantelpiece, and she shook as she reached her hand to run her hand over them lightly. A sharp prick from the decaying ornament was as much as a relieving sentiment to her as an unwelcome one. It was all authentic.

With teary eyes, she looked up at her mother, who was smiling at her serenely from the doorframe behind her. Amelie, for the first time in a long while, truly entertained the idea that this visit could actually be the beginnings of a new and welcome friendship between mother and daughter.




Dorcas lived alone with her Dad and pet fish. It was a pretty lonely existence, but she didn’t mind, really. She loved her colourful fish, because they shut up and listened – or at least she could pretend they did – even when she was alone in the house.

Her Dad was never drunk when he got home, nor was he ever really late. In fact, Dorcas claimed her Dad was the most boring person she knew. Every day he wore the same trousers, the same shirt, occasionally decorated with a slightly differently striped tie. In her childhood, she had imagined that the hackneyed look was to deter criminals from realising he was actually a super-cool secret agent. As she grew older, however, she accepted that along with her mother’s death, her Dad’s flair had disappeared. She knew he had it somewhere, because she vaguely remembered a photo she’d spotted in her youth where he was laughing with Mum.

They were both wearing purple wigs. Dorcas loved the colour purple.

Christmas was a time for Dorcas to try and get her Dad to laugh like he did in that photo. It was so long ago since she had seen it, that she had begun to question whether it had existed or not, but even so, she had made it her mission to find her Dad’s smile. Though she herself hadn’t had much cause for celebration recently what with the weird behaviour of everyone at school, Dorcas was still enthusiastic about her mission, and deemed it a must that she should continue through with it.

It was the season to be jolly. And jolly she would make it.




Callum always associated Christmas with big family dinners and his Nan’s tendency to hand out hand-made, orange jumpers that, since he’d reached the ripe age of thirteen, were made four sizes too small. The ritualistic gathering-around-the-tree, eating turkey and pulling crackers was a timeless moment that never grew old, and in those same moments he could secretly fulfil his childhood wish of being exactly like Peter Pan.

Though of course, he pretended he hated having to see everyone every year like clockwork. Just like eating the turkey, his own moans and groans had become personal tradition, and no matter how old his parents got, he was determined to fulfil it all the same. Christmas was all about little delicate secrets that you wouldn’t show to the world for anything, and the fact that for a moment, impossibility disappears.

Callum won his first race on Christmas ten years ago, and since, he’d never lost sight of his athletic goals. He doubted he ever would.




The first few days that Amelie spent with her mother were pretty awkward. The differences in their speech and the way they handled themselves were sharply set against the similarity in their looks, some of their actions and even some of their reactions. They were as different as they were alike, and for Amelie, she didn’t know whether this was a cause for elation rather than misery. After all, she didn’t want to end up making the same mistakes in her life as her mother had.

Eventually, however, the two women accustomed to living together. Amelie managed to reign in the fowler aspects of her vocabulary whilst her mother seemed to have attempted to ease a little on the high-and-mighty attitude that was second-nature to her. In between the compromises, they fell into a not-very-traditional routine, where they’d spend time talking, relaxing, even joking now and again. Amelie would relive some of the better times she’d spent with her friends, relishing in the expressions that would appear on her mother’s face. Her mother’s responsiveness and inquisitiveness spoke of interest, and Amelie could only be delighted to elaborate on what her mother would no doubt see as the rougher side of life – not nearly so high-brow as she was used to.

“The boy’s are amazing. I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

“Oh really?” asked her Mum, eyes sparkling and mouth twitching, obviously attempting to hide a knowing smile. “Are you close at all?”

Amelie rolled her eyes, though she felt too good-humoured to begrudge her mother the teasing she had missed out on.

“With which one?” she joked.

Her mother simply laughed. Though with her, it was never simply laughing. Amelie stared in wonder as the stretch of white neck leaned elegantly backwards, amazed at how the curtain of hair, despite it’s flecks of white here and there, still managed to shine black in the light it captured from the fading sun and enhance the slopes of her cheekbones. Age seemed to slip past Antoinette Avery like life did others. It was an envious trait. She only hoped she’d inherited some of it.

Christmas day had arrived, somehow, in between the merriment. The wizarding wireless sung through the house, and Amelie spent half her evenings prancing around the house in a rusty attempt at a waltz that her mother, despite all her admonishments, couldn’t help but laugh at. The house had, overnight, become magnificent. The sight would have sickened the Amelie of a few months past, just on principle, but somehow tonight it soothed her heart with thoughts of possibilities of a future. For the first time in a long while, Amelie had begun thinking of ambitions, goals, and lives that she would never before have imagined for herself. She had the support and the means to go anywhere she wanted, and she had not really learnt much if not how to be opportunistic.

It was a shame that the weather hadn’t learnt the same. The holiday, it seemed, hadn’t given it an excuse snow; raindrops slid down the windows of Amelie’s room.

Amelie was staring in front of her mirror, looking at her face in the reflection after having smoothed down the folds of her dress. She hadn’t really paid attention to herself in quite a time physically, and her eyes looked strange to herself. Looking away, she averted her attention instead to her bracelet her mother had given her that morning, and then to the straps of her shoes. There would be time to fix her face up later.

On her way across the landing in her room towards the stairs that led to the entrance hall if followed all the way down, Amelie stopped still as she heard faintly the drawl of a voice much deeper than her mother’s. This, she wished, was some sort of joke, because her mother had assured her that they’d be alone. Hadn’t she? So surely her mother was going to send off this – this nobody away and refuse to allow them permission to interrupt their Christmas dinner.

“Amelie, dear!” called her mother from the hall downstairs. The teenaged girl who was previously hanging from the banister in a vain attempt to catch sight of the intruder hastily scrambled backwards a few steps to remain out of sight as she caught her breath. “Amelie, would you please come down to dinner!”

The – the hypocrisy! Wasn’t her mother going to give a word of warning about this stranger? Well, Amelie would see about this. Red-faced, she stomped her way downwards. If her mother was too polite to tell the bastard to fuck off, she hadn’t passed any of her propriety on to her daughter.

“Mum!” yelled the younger woman as she stomped her way down the stairs in what she considered righteous anger. “What’s going on? Did I hear the doorbell?”

But then her tirade stopped. In fact, many things stopped, as they have an unusual habit of doing when what people most need is to move as fast as they can to get away before everything can shatter completely. When facing a situation, the fight-or-flight complex can only, sadly, happen after the mind is unfrozen from a state of complete and utter disbelief – because once you’ve been knocked in the teeth you need a moment to spit out the splintered pieces and the blood along with it.

Amelie, however, felt that she’d stood still for so long that the blood along with the pieces of shattered denture had found its way to the back of her mouth and were slowly choking her without her realising it. In a way, she wished they were, and that her thoughts weren’t just metaphorical, because the physical presence of Cepheus Nott in front of her very eyes, though terrifying and unbearable, was nothing compared to the very palpable glint in her mother’s eyes that told her she had been hoodwinked all along.

Amelie felt sick.

“Took her long enough. And look, all dressed up like the tart we all know she is? Oh, don’t blush on my account. I’ve heard interesting stories about you, you know, and it doesn’t surprise me in the least. You’ve been a slut since the day you were born and you’ll die one, too. Even your mother said you’d admitted that your boys were ‘wonderful’. I wonder which one you like best…”

Her fury was seeping through her skin, and she wanted nothing better than to lunge herself at the man who was so steadily and thoroughly insulting the very foundations of the life she’d built for herself without any support, but the veiled insults were not lost on Amelie, and she knew that she wasn’t the be-all and end-all in this scenario. Things were definitely bigger than what she could see on the horizon, and that scared her because up until now, she thought that she had seen very far.

After all, she had seen a future.

“What do you want?” she grit out through clenched teeth.

“What do you think, darling?” chimed her mother with a sickeningly sweet voice. Amelie blinked twice, despising the woman in front of her for adding insult to injury. Her play-acting, she knew, would continue throughout dinner, serving as entertainment for her and her husband, and as humiliation for Amelie, who had been fooled so easily.

She just wished she could run away before the situation escalated into something impossible. Though that in itself was unrealistic and pathetically naïve. Amelie took a deep breath and convinced herself that she had been through worse alone, and that she could make it out again. Only she had to play along again.

For herself, it was a sick Act that she was bound to; one that despite the amount of times she fled from and tried to put behind her, always seemed to creep back on her in one way or another. Somehow, it had become a part of her own identity – that fact that her own was becoming more and more difficult to uncover as each curtain fell. She’d become sick of the encore’s, but each and every time she obliged.

It pained her as she drew painted a smile on her face. “I’m not sure, mother. Shall we go in to dinner? I think it’ll get cold.”

Without waiting for a response, Amelie headed towards the dining room, calling behind her as her heels clacked on the wooden floor, “You won’t mind, Father, I hope - that we’ll be forced to have a rather small meal. We’d only planned for two, but we can get one of the house-elves to make up for it with a larger dessert.”

She was sure that behind her, she heard a vaguely sinister mumble about a boyfriend, but walked on in her charade of ignorance.




Alice had always loved Christmas. Something about the white snow that always loved to fall around her home reminded her of the old movies her mother used to sit and watch with her before she went to Hogwarts. To her, the holiday was full of possibilities, of laughter, of joy. However many troubles Alice had ever experienced throughout the year, whether it was difficult lessons, troubles with friends or having to deal with the over-inquisitive, over-affectionate, Great Aunt Martha, Christmas would be the time of year where everything would miraculously soothe itself out into nothingness.

It was the only day where Alice determinedly believed that nothing could ever go wrong. The fact that it was so close after a period of time which she could now very easily confirm as one of her worst in her life simply made her appreciate the festivities more. Going back to her family would be like a breath of comfort, especially with all the uncertainties in the wizarding world. She’d written to her mother countless times these past weeks, as the increasing attacks on muggleborn’s coupled with her own lack of synchronisation with her friends plans had given her ample time to do just that.

People thought it wasn’t cool to be close with their mum’s these days, but Alice was personally proud of the intimate relationship she shared with hers. Her lack of judgement in not talking to her mother before her rash decision had her feeling extremely guilty, and though she had not managed to bring herself to admit everything, she’d determined on becoming even closer with her mother.

After all, it was that time of year.




Amelie wiped away tears of mirth that she had allowed to run down her cheeks from her Father’s amusing stories, and politely excused herself from the table – she’d only be a minute! Don’t let them say anything whilst she was gone! She wanted to be part of all the fun.

The steady clack of her heels on the floor were too loud, she noticed as she walked out the room. Drawing level to the bathroom door, she took them off, and headed upstairs into her room as discretely as she could manage. As soon as she closed the door, she began stripping the inside of all its contents.

Despite her foolish behaviour recently, Amelie was far from stupid. Her step-dad and mother had given plentiful hints as to what they wanted, but she’d be damned to agree to anything of that sort after everything she’d been through already. She wasn’t stupid enough to give up all her fighting as for nought. Other people may think differently, but she was a someone with dignity and pride that they just simply couldn’t fathom. But that wasn’t her problem. Her problem was how to disappear quickly and quietly without either adult realising.

Even though Amelie was sharp, her mother had just proven herself to be that much more so.

Rummaging through her stuff, Amelie wished for once she owned fewer clothes. It would have made this process a hell of a lot easier. Spotting one of her textbooks on the table in the corner, she ran for it, only to trip and fall over her on untidiness in her haste. She cursed. The fall was loud, and they’d surely have heard it downstairs. Her cover was thrown – sure enough, two cracks and the figures she was attempting to escape from were standing menacingly by her doorframe.

“I told you the bitch would run.”

“Well, Cepheus darling, if you’d seen how stupid she’s been acting recently, you’d have questioned her intelligence, too. Aren’t I right, darling?”

That saccharine tone was choking Amelie to her eyeballs, and the smile that went with it was, if possible, making the nausea worse.

“I’m not-“ Amelie choked out.

“The Dark Lord has demanded your service in his ranks,” stated Nott bluntly. “Tomorrow, he will be here and he will make his decision on your respective choice.”

“I wasn’t running!” cried Amelie, still determinedly ignoring how deftly they had caught her. “I just remembered I forgot to send my friend her Christmas present!”

“A likely story. Nevertheless, you have a day, and you should be warned that there are dire consequences for rejecting the Dark Lord.”

“I will take that into account if I ever felt the need to do so,” quipped Amelie, shooting her step-father a sharp glance.

“Very well. Come, Antoinette, let’s finish off that dessert.”

Amelie breathed out as she was left alone once again. In the space of five minutes, she was packed, and with her broomstick in her hand, she left the house through the window of her room at the fastest speed she possibly could, knowing she would never – could never - return there in her lifetime. The wind was frigid against her face.




Kyle had always felt torn about Christmas. He hated shopping, so buying for other’s generally felt to him like a chore – one which was generally made worse by how his Mum nagged at him for acting like he’d been ‘sent to his deathbed’ every time she reminded him of it, yet his care for other’s wellbeing and cheer made him determined to make up for his flaw nevertheless.

This year, Kyle, having returned from a rather mad first term at school – “Seriously, Mum, it’s like the whole place’s gone barmy” – felt like he wanted to do something a bit more this year. The thought that he was acting selfishly on his own whims, that he just wanted to get his brain clear from the threat that he hadn’t alerted his family they were very much vulnerable to, only brushed past him once or twice. But he didn’t want to think about miserable thoughts.

Christmas was a time for family.

It’s a shame that all the restaurants were closed on the day. And on Boxing Day, too. Well, he’d just have to reserve places for the 27th. How about he’d get a table at that swanky new restaurant up town for his parents, and take his little sister to that ice-cream place she loved to go to after he took her to a movie?

That would be nice.

[A/N] Okay so I've been AWFUL with updating. My pathetic excuse is schoolwork, as usual. I'm sorry, but I'm trying not to fail this year, seeing as it's quite an important one.




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Chapter 19: That Much Worse
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Chapter 19 – That Much Worse





Amelie had never anticipated a time where she would actually pay to get off a broom. The instrument she had previously associated with freedom, joy, and pleasure had, sometime in the past few hours, turned around and proven itself to nothing but be a deceiving pain in the arse – quite literally. By the time she had passed over the Midlands, Amelie’s derriere was remarkably sore, and stinging as it began to numb in the freezing, northerly wind.

A few minutes in the sky and Amelie had decided on flying straight to Lily’s. It may not have been the closest, but Lily’s slightly stand-offish attitude towards herself recently, together with her desire to do well by everyone would work perfectly to allow herself to brood a while, to mull things over and think about exactly what had gone wrong. Because it had – and quite amazingly so.

She was rather surprised, and even more unnerved by the fact that no-one was tailing her. In her hurry to disappear from home she had made more than enough of a racquet to alert her mother of her leaving, and her step-dad’s warning hadn’t been without an impact on her already unstable person. She might not have been at the height of her form, but Amelie was fully aware of what her step-dad could was capable of, and knew that the postponing of the delivery of his threat would only mean that he would attack more heavily, more fully than she had ever expected.

And her mother would back him all the way.

The frigid wind caused tears to form in Amelie’s eyes. Her nose was running, and she had nothing to wipe it with. Her dress was billowing around her, providing no cover for her legs or arms. Her skin more or less bare from lack of warm attire, and soaking wet from having swerved into one too many clouds, biting numbness bit at her skin and she cursed her own choice to show some cleavage. If she came out of this and managed to escape catching pneumonia, she would assume herself incredibly lucky for an unlucky person.

Her head had begun to spin as her eyes caught a glimpse of Lily’s town, and she felt rather reckless as she dipped her broom into a dive that she could barely control. At least she’d be warm sooner this way.

Amelie’s landing was less than graceful, falling face-first into the flower-bed in the Evans’ back garden. It being winter, the flowers were practically non-existent, and only served to scratch against her skin as she attempted to disentangle herself. As she blew her hair out of her face to get a better look at the house, she almost cried out in frustration and fatigue.

The Evans’ weren’t at home.





Even though Lily was completely unaware of her friend’s predicament, her mood was less than festive. She scowled as she looked up at the over-decorated living room she was in, thinking the overall effect would have been just as tasteful if a toddler had emptied his glitter-glue on the walls. Of course, she was well aware that she wasn’t looking at everything with the rose-tinted glasses that everyone seemed to love fooling themselves with round this time of year. She only had to look at a slightly-tipsy Petunia and her recently acquired red-faced boyfriend to tell that rose-tinted glasses were highly overrated things anyway, and should be blasted to pieces before someone makes the biggest blunder of their life - like, for example, having sex with a man the approximate height and size of a baby elephant.

Not that Lily could be bothered to bring herself to care much. She’d been forced into a dress that was entirely too fancy and made to come to a dinner party of a distant relative she hadn’t seen since she was “about this high” - at which point said woman had with her hands indicated to about three inches off the ground. Lily, though not the tallest of girls, was highly doubtful of whether she had ever been that tiny, but prudently bit her tongue to keep from embarrassing her family. Even if she saw the stupidity in the whole evening, it didn’t mean that she should ruin it for everyone else.

Lily almost began to see an advantage to her sister’s methods – almost. If it were not for the distinct lack of good-looking males her age, she might have actually done something, simply to help pass the time quicker. But there were not, and as much as she rued the fact, in a way she was slightly pleased – because though right now she felt that she had all the time in the world and was utterly composed with the forms her train of thought was taking, she knew there would be a time where she would lament being so carefree with someone she had known was not worth it.

She’d not yet made a mistake like that, and didn’t really plan to.

Aside from all the gloomy thoughts about the festivities, the redhead also had a nagging worry regarding Amelie. Since they’d parted at King’s Cross, she’d not heard from her – though she’d easily accept half the blame. She felt extremely guilty, for sure, but she couldn’t help but be reluctant to send owls to her friend when she had become so close to the mother that hated mudbloods. So she hadn’t. Knowing Amelie’s tendency to hold grudges, she only hoped that this aspect of her prudency hadn’t put her into her friend’s bad books.

Three tinsel-adorned children ran past Lily’s legs in a blur, almost causing her to spill her glass of wine on the cream lace of her dress. Looking down, her eyes fell upon a light trail of glitter, and Lily grumbled as she got up and left the room, having found the cause of the criminal decoration scheme.





Amelie, though not exactly the most innocent of teenagers, was currently engaged in an activity she had not ever partaken in – and given that her heart was in her mouth despite her bodies reluctance to feel anything save from fatigue, her inexperience was clearly shining through. Her hand slipped a bit, eliciting a sharp yelp from her mouth. Her already-precarious position on the boom would not allow any room for errors.

She’d experienced one too many painful descents recently.

Her wand was, unsurprisingly, shaking viciously in her hand, testifying to the shook up nature of her nerves as well as to the ferocious wind that made her situation just that much worse - because balancing oneself twelve feet in the air on a broom with one leg could never have been considered a fun pastime. That is, obviously, unless one was a monkey, or even a pathetically desperate boy. Somehow, those two groups of life-forms seemed to defy many rules. Perhaps, if she had either one of them here with her, her task would have been that much easier.

Amelie was trying to break into Lily’s house. She would, of course, apologise later – profusely. If the situation wasn’t so dire she wouldn’t even have thought of attempting it; petty criminal activity really wasn’t much her style. Style was, however, was neither here nor there at the moment. Amelie only cared about getting to Lily’s fireplace, grabbing some floo-powder that her muggle parents always hid in the flower-pot beside the mantelpiece and get herself somewhere safe. Or, at least, safer. She doubted anywhere was safe for her anymore.

Blessing her lucky stars that her birthday had been a mere fortnight ago, Amelie drew her wand from under her bra and whispered an incantation at Lily’s bedroom window. It was common knowledge amongst the wizarding underground that every house’s defence was weaker the further up it went, as they were further away from the foundations. Luckily for Amelie, her friend’s window was in the attic, as her parents had converted their loft into a room, much like her own. So all she needed to do was pop in, run and freeze the burglar alarm and then she was done. After all, she didn’t much care for the - watchamacallits? – Ah, please-men at this moment, even if she did have a weak spot for men in uniform.

The window swung open, providing a space just large enough for Amelie to squeeze through with her belongings. Unfortunately her movements had caused the alarm to go off, and despite the fairly crash that ensued from her trunk, she was forced to run full pelt down three flights of stairs so as to freeze the alarm before she could check the damage. Huffing and puffing from exhaustion, Amelie cursed the stars one more time. Why couldn’t luck be on her side just once?!

Finally, the wailing sounds ceased. Amelie hoped that the neighbours wouldn’t think anything odd had happened, but not wanting to risk it, she did not pause to even catch her breath. Accioing her trunk from Lily’s bedroom, she made her way to the living room that she had last appeared in during the summer, when everything had seemed so much brighter. A part of her ached as she remembered the hopes she’d looked at this year with, hating her sinking heart as she acknowledged how different her life had become. It was all so much more real now.

Some time during the past six months, Amelie had… not stopped running… but slowed down. She was jogging now, slightly out of breath from the amount she’d pushed herself, and found herself a sanctuary in a friend she’d never found possible. Only there had she stopped, but stupid as she was, she hadn’t, in those moments, planned or even thought about anything. She’d just hid, like a cowardly Slytherin, just to survive. And when her dear, dear friend had attempted to pummel a sense of the real world into her, she’d made the biggest mistake of her life and ignored all the progress she’d made: she had started running again.

She knew it now. The truth of it was falling on her, but the numbness she still felt from outside was weighing too heavily for to feel anything but acceptance and a sense of duty. She needed to apologise to her friend – she needed him. Pride be damned, she had to go the Potter’s.





James had noticed his friend’s sullen mood this yuletide with no strong amount of surprise. By all counts, he should have been spending this time with family who loved him and taking the piss out of him exactly as much as his pseudo-family did, if not more, but that was an obvious delusion. And Sirius wasn’t anything if not realistic.

Even so, Sirius wasn’t nearly as sullen as he could have been. It seemed that being away from his family was both a high and a low to him, and he was alternating between euphoria at being able to spend a proper Christmas with people he cared about and depression at the fact that he didn’t care about the people he should. And then even more depression that he even cared that he didn’t care. He was free, damn it!

Ah, he was free! What a blissful thought. Sirius helped himself to some more Christmas pudding, eyes shining with glee. He even internally chuckled as he glimpsed a bowl of gravy slowly spilling itself over Wormtail – a chuckle that grew into a (still internal) cackle as he spotted James discretely moving his wand under the table. The cackle flourished onto his face in the form of a wink.

No more stuffed up parties to go to, no more pretending to like them. He was never much one for acting, especially when the duplicity of it didn’t benefit him in any way. He’d much rather be direct and to the point – even if at times it meant that he could end up hurting people along the way. After all, in his experience, people who didn’t want to accept what was right in front of them didn’t deserve his company.

Not really.

He wished they didn’t, but somehow Sirius started brooding again, thinking how it was extremely unfair how some people could unconsciously manage to work their ways around his walls. He’d thought them rather impervious at first, but looking at them now… well, they were pretty feeble, really. Amelie’s blow had been quite a hard one. She had always managed to pack quite a good punch. He just wished that he hadn’t been chosen as her favourite punching bag.

And why the fuck did Moony have to be so damn perceptive and catch that wink he’d sent James? Now Wormtail was clean and his entertainment was ruined.

“Really, Sirius,” said Mr. Potter, his smile twitching slightly. “I’m sure Peter knows how to pour his own gravy.”

“Yeah, ‘course he does. Peter’s pretty self-sufficient, but he gets confused sometimes at other people’s dinner tables. Apparently the dishes are different round here.”

Peter opened his mouth to squeak a protest, but his voice was drowned by the sound of the doorbell.

“Would you get that please, Sirius?” asked Mrs. Potter, not wanting a debacle at the dinner table, especially at Christmas.

“Sure,” he shrugged, grinning at Peter, who just scowled in response.

Sirius whistled as he walked through the hallway, only to choke on his saliva as he looked through the window to see who it was. She was looking decidedly haggard, and her arms were wrapped around her body tight. Jumping up and down on the spot, she kept looking behind her as if she was scared someone would jump up from behind her and eat her if she stayed there too long.

Deciding that he had been shocked for too long, Sirius threw the door open.

“What the fu-“

“Can I come in?” rushed Amelie, teeth chattering together.

Up close, it was even more visible that she didn’t look good. Her dress was torn in three places and her arms were pale from the cold. Her nose was running and her eyes – well she’d either been crying or they’d been watering pretty badly from the chill. Looking down, he spotted that her toes were bare and her feet were cut quiet badly more than once. He guessed that somewhere along the road she’d taken her shoes off.

“What happened?” he asked, curiosity overcoming his anger.

Amelie wasn’t in the mood to be coddled, or questioned. She was acutely aware of just how much she resembled a tramp and didn’t want to reflect on it any more than she had to in the presence of other people. Though deeply relieved that she was in a safe place, it hadn’t hit her that she’d actually have to explain her presence.

People were so superfluous in their demands sometimes, it was ridiculous. She stared at Sirius like he had a plant growing out of his forehead.

“Clearly, nothing amazing. Can you show me the bathroom, a room, and then leave me alone for the rest of the holidays?”

Sirius’ disdain re-emerged full-force at the obvious rejection of his attempt at letting ‘bygones-be-bygones’. Her snooty attitude was just like another punch in the face, and he was really tempted to give her back exactly what he got.

And he would have, had not Mrs. Potter appeared at his shoulder a moment later.

“Why hello!” she said, smiling. “Who is this, Sirius? A friend of yours?”

Sirius opened his mouth to say something, but Amelie cut across him with a smile and extended her hand to shake with Mrs. Potter. “Amelie Avery, ma’am – it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Likewise,” grinned the old woman. “Why don’t you come in?”

Amelie simply smiled and crossed the threshold, knowing that behind her shoulder, Sirius was resting against the wall, had shut his eyes and was cursing every single cell she had in her body.





“Your father actually said that?!” asked a horrified Mrs. Potter an hour later.

Having warmed up and slightly relaxed under the influence of some firewhiskey that James had sneaked her, Amelie began to tell parts of her story to the elder Potters. Vaguely, she sensed that Sirius thought she was just asking for sympathy, but the thought, far from deterring her, only pushed her on to speak her mind.

“Well, he wasn’t actually my Dad. My Dad left home when I was young because the Avery’s went against him. He had to run away. Well no he didn’t, but he did. Anyway, my step-dad was the one who said that -- Cepheus Nott. He says loads of things like that.”

“Mm, yes, well, the Nott’s aren’t very famous for their compassion.”

“Who is these days?” mumbled Amelie as she took another swig of her coffee, causing a bit of an awkward silence that she seemed to be immune to.

James stood up. “Well, if you’re staying with us for a while, I might as well show you the guest room. Sirius, you don’t mind bunking with me for a day or two, do you?”

Sirius looked as if he did mind very much, but knew better than to speak his mind. Instead, he stared at the two as they headed up the stairs to the spare room, completely oblivious to the uneasy silence that had just fallen.

“Right, so who wants to play another round of exploding snap?”

Remus, the stupid bugger, was being Perceptive again, trying to get Sirius to think of something else. As if he bloody could.

But he agreed anyway.

“Might as well,” he sighed, sitting down on the floor, unknowingly relaxing the tension in the room somewhat. He ran a hand through his hair in frustration, wondering how many hairs would be singed by the end of the night – because for some reason he felt that Lady Luck wasn’t much on his side.





She was grating on his nerves. Every move she made, every word she said made him sick. There was no other way of putting it. Somehow in the space of a few weeks she had reverted into a character so despicable, so inconceivably selfish and heartless that he couldn’t bear to be in the same room as her.

What was worse than all this, however, was that the rest of his friends seemed to get on with her amazingly well. Together they laughed, joked, pranked and fought as if they had known each other for years – which, to be fair, they had – but not like this. She didn’t know them like he did, and the fact that she was interfering in every single sphere of his life did not endear her to him in the least.

And she still hadn’t apologised to him.

Snow had settled the night before, belatedly changing the surroundings from wet and depressing to blindingly white and strangely beautiful. He wanted to look out of his window, but Amelie was outside, covered in layer upon layer of thick, woolly clothing, and was quite engaged in the process of building herself a six-foot snowman without magic. It was strangely disconcerting to see Amelie so fully clothed; it was like she’d cut off the one stable link they had together. He didn’t know if he welcomed this change or not.

Her padded hands smoothed over the surface of the snow, and Sirius found himself wishing that she’d used a self-warming charm so that he could follow the light trail of her fingers instead. It would have been something familiar from her that he was used to, at least. It would have been reassuring, and soothed his new-found repulsion into a different sort of curiosity. But her hands remained fully gloved.

He liked to think that her personality remained as it was – that, like always, she was throwing herself into the thick of things when she was feeling most vulnerable, but James had purposely commented on her behaviour in his presence. Sirius knew that she was being coddled every time into having a little fun and he also knew that this was highly unnatural. He wished desperately to just scream at her and have her go back to normal, but his last attempt at changing her decision had gone so terribly wrong that he didn’t dare. This monster that had been created was so repulsive, that he didn’t even want to get close.

To him, she was a walking oxymoron, the most hideously alluring thing he had seen in his life, and simultaneously the most stunningly repulsive. And through all this unsightliness and beauty, it aggravated him to know that he had no clue what to do with her, how to approach her, that he was even thinking that he had to approach her, when what he most wanted was to get away from her, just so that he could think of something different.

Sighing, Sirius got up from his bed and headed downstairs, walking briskly with his destination in mind. He had no intention of this going smoothly. He didn’t care if he froze to death, because if he stayed thinking in his room for much longer, his mind would have imploded. It was simply a matter of two evils, and he would be damned if he would be the cause of his own self-destruction.

“Sirius,” James cried, happy to see his friend voluntarily appear downstairs. “Come and – what the?!” It was strange for James to be brushed off by his best mate, and it was only then when he noticed the determined stride, and the steely look in Sirius’ eyes. He knew it could only mean one thing. “Sirius! Sirius!! Get back here!”

But Sirius had already thrown open the back door. Amelie looked up at him, her hair dishevelled, obviously having come out of her ponytail at one point. Her mouth had made an ‘o’ from the unexpected arrival, and her mouth suddenly went dry as her face flushed. A rush of emotions washed through her body, and she suddenly felt insignificantly small. Faced with all the open affection that the people in this house felt for each other, she had felt in a similar way remarkably often, thinking how strange it was, and how it would be if she would ever be thought of with the same delicacy.

Suddenly, she became acutely aware that someone had.

“I’m-“

“No, I don’t want you to talk this time,” managed Sirius through gritted teeth. His frustrations and anger desperately needed to get out. “I don’t want to hear even a peep out of you. You – you come here, without even an apology, trying to get sympathy you don’t deserve from people you don’t deserve to be with! I don’t even know what to think – are you doing this deliberately??? Is this a joke you’ve planned with your lovely reformed mother to see just how far Sirius can be pushed before he finally cracks? ‘Cos let me tell you, you’re doing a fucking good job of it.

“I thought I got you, you know? I thought you were someone like me, someone who was simply born into the wrong place and looking for a way out. I thought you knew that the past was a no-go place, that you had the same anxiety looming over you that it would creep back up. And you just turned round and made me look like a fool – even worse than those foul punches you always threw my way. That I could handle. But this?! We shag, we talk, we open up – sadly, in that order, but hey – I thought we reached some kind of agreement. To believe that I actually started to –“

“Sirius!” cried Amelie, uncharacteristically shaken. “Sirius, I swear I didn’t come hear to rub it in your face! I – I knew I had to apologise to you –“

“But yet again Miss Avery is way too stubborn and proud to apologise to the likes of Sirius Black,” he snarled. Amelie winced at his bluntness. “It’s always the same isn’t it? Always for you, it’s how you feel towards yourself. Have you ever thought about what other people feel about you? What you feel about other people – and here I mean the people who want care for you, not those idiots who are out for your blood. It’s stupid. All of this shit is just plain stupid.”

“It is stupid!” Amelie’s voice was shrill, and though her voice carried, it warbled rather precariously. “It’s stupid how you can’t see that I didn’t not apologise to you because I was proud or stubborn, but because I was ashamed. I was ashamed of myself, of what I’d done, of my reaction to your advice. I should have listened to you. I know that now. I was foolish and naïve,” she spat the word like it was something foul. “But I wanted a bit of time to adjust to the blow, I didn’t want to come here first thing, because I knew I wouldn’t be ready to see you again.”

Sirius, momentarily silenced out of curiosity, spoke again after a moment’s pause. “You’re right. You acted like a five-year old all the way through, right from the moment you got your letter from dear old mummy. You went right against any morals and principles you had made for yourself, and lost any bit of self-respect you had in my eyes.”

Amelie hung her head down, ashamed. With a pang, she imagined that Alice had probably felt something similar a few months ago, but she had only gone and made it worse.

“I need to go and lie down,” said Sirius, suddenly tired. He left the back garden, and Amelie fell down to her knees in the snow, her eyes wide in comprehension as she registered a sense of loss so acutely that she could barely breathe.




[A/N] This chapter took me aeons to write, so any type of constructive criticism would be hugely appreciated. ^^, Thanks to all of you lovely readers who still review and give your thoughts; I couldn’t have gotten this far without you!


Chapter 20: Survival of the Fittest
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Chapter 20 - Survival of the Fittest

Summary: In which old ladies are discussed, Kyle attempts Craftiness and Amelie takes a leap.








"In order to preserve your self-respect, it is sometimes necessary to lie and cheat".









Amelie’s remaining time at the Potters’ had been one of the most uncomfortable in her life. She had woken up wrapped in a duvet whose smell was unbearably familiar, completely unknowing – not that she had asked – who had put her there of all places after feinting in the snow. More than anything, she wished it hadn’t been him, because she already had more than enough guilt to deal with.

His words had stung, but she couldn’t deny that she deserved every blow. She shouldn’t have expected sympathy, because stupidity didn’t merit it. Ignorance, whatever other people might have said, wasn’t bliss, because all it did was make it that much more painful when the truth of everything hit you. She had been foolish – incredibly so. She understood that now.

Somehow, she’d managed to focus enough in the last week of the holidays to get her homework done. She’d politely declined the invitation from the Potter’s to attend several New Years’ parties, and then thanked them for their hospitality. She wasn’t particularly comfortable with either of them, but she knew that they were kindly, and couldn’t bring herself to brush off yet another pair of people who had decided to do something worthwhile for her out of the goodness of their hearts.

All in all, she was immensely glad to get back to Hogwarts where she could lose herself once more in the multitude of her carefree, gossiping peers. Amelie, for the first time in perhaps a very long time, felt genuine warmth filter through her as she heard about her friend’s Christmases’, not feeling the need to ruin the mood by recalling her own foolishness. She knew they were all curious, but was thankful that they were following her lead in keeping schtum.

Meeting up with her friends on the Hogwart’s Express had been enjoyable, particularly so because the Marauder’s had not felt the need to check up on them throughout the journey. The scarlet steam engine had been a constant through Amelie’s past six years of life, and looking at it made her breathe easier, knowing she was going to a place where she had always felt safest and most herself, with the people she cared about.

“So much tinsel! You’d think with all their money they could afford a sense of style, too,” huffed Lily, who had been invited to way too many Christmas parties for someone who refused to properly celebrate the holiday.

“Don’t you like tinsel?” asked Dorcas. “I think it’s rather pretty… I actually wore a silver one all through Christmas dinner.”

“There’s a difference between a bit of tinsel and an explosion of it. Besides, any more than two colours of tinsel at a time and –“

“Ease up on the tinsel, Lily,” chuckled Callum. “And on the old woman.”

“Yeah,” said Amelie. “You know how they lose their sense of style, their hearing, their sanity…”

“No, no, no. The hearing doesn’t get lost, it just becomes selective.”

“So true! Gran only hears things if it’s got to do with Mrs.-Next-Door’s wayward step-daughter or if we’re discussing how to inflict pain on her cat.”

“Kyle!”

“What?! We don’t really hurt it, we just pretend to so she can stop acting deaf,” he explained.

“Oh!” exclaimed Lily, looking relieved. She grinned. “Well, that’s all right then.”

Whilst her friends were busy discussing old people, Amelie looked at Alice, who was sitting on the seat opposite her, and Amelie felt a disgusting feeling of guilt well up inside her, one that she was sure she had been repressing for a few weeks now. How horrible it was, to be knocked down when you already felt like shit, by the very same people you thought would support you through an ordeal! Alice hadn’t deserved the shit that she’d dished out, and, looking at her, Amelie finally acknowledged it. How could she have been so unforgiving and cold when she herself had done much worse?

She had to do something about it before she threw up on someone.

“Alice,” she said softly, looking into the blonde girl’s eyes as she looked up. She started; obviously startled to be receiving such undivided attention from the girl she never thought would willingly talk to her again. “I’m sorry, Alice,”

It took her a moment to reply, but a faint “I’m sorry, too,” allowed Amelie to close her eyes with an assuaged guilt. It was a new feeling for her, this alleviation of burden from making amends. Since her promise to herself at age eleven, Amelie had rarely forgiven anyone, unless prodded beforehand. Doing the same voluntarily, though so similar, was also remarkably different.

But then her eyes suddenly snapped open, and looked around her, frightened to death. Amelie was not afraid of spiders, or of snakes. She didn’t flinch away at the sight of blood, and she wasn’t so reluctant to walk alone in the dark. Her step-father’s continued silence, however, hit her with alarming ferocity, and she felt her blood run cold. She was terrified.

Dorcas suddenly interrupted this train of thought. She had suddenly remembered, and she just had to tell them about the muggle who had kissed her under the mistletoe at Christmas.








Within the first week that Amelie spent back at Hogwarts, she had made several unusual accomplishments. Most notably, she had handed in each and every one of the pieces of homework that had been assigned and handed it in on time. Also, she had not yet received even one reprimand from a professor.

None of it, however, was working. Her renewed closeness with her friends, though incredibly comforting, wasn’t the same type of comfort that Sirius had been able to give her. She was secretly panicking and desperately needed a way to share it before she went mad. Only she and Sirius hadn’t really talked for so long she didn’t know if she could bring herself to shove aside her pride completely.

Pride could be a horrible thing, she realised. For the needy, it could also be a stupid thing to have. When the choice was between self-preservation and self-destruction, surely her pride should make her choose the former – regardless of what that could mean.

So she’d tried to catch his eyes in the hallways, desperately aching for his piercing gaze that used to burn fire through her body. Whenever he was around, she would be louder, more flirtatious, using whatever she had at her disposal to get his attention. But to no avail. He was being hopelessly flippant towards her, and Amelie couldn’t even bring herself to hate him for it. After all, he had every right.

Therefore after three more weeks of rejection, Amelie decided she couldn’t take it any more. Her trips to the common room became less frequent, her make-up returned to it’s slightly less-alluring norm and her skirt fell down a few inches to her knees, despite her protests the previous years that she “just couldn’t find one that was her size”. She still talked and joked with her friends, but also spent more time studying with them, silent and in thought. The professor’s had taken it as Amelie attempting to “turn over a new leaf”, and set about smiling at her in corridors. Their encouragement, however, only seemed like a further punishment to the girl. Was this really how they preferred her to be – a being so far from herself?

Kyle was spending more and more time with Olivia, who he had asked to be his girlfriend just before the holidays. Though Amelie doubted they had quite the same relationship that she had with Sirius, she still felt a pang whenever she saw them walking out of the portrait hole together. She was happy for her friend, of course. She only wished she could have the same peace of mind herself.

Apart from the Quidditch sessions, Amelie only felt productive when she was talking to Alice. This, in itself, was slightly strange, because she didn’t do much in these moments. Lying down on her bed, listening to Alice talk, however, opened up Amelie to a life so very different to her own. Sometimes, Amelie felt a strong desire to object, or snort derisively at what the girl said, but managed to control herself, and instead open herself up to this possibility that maybe that was life as it should be. Maybe truth wasn’t what was needed in the world; that trust was. It didn’t matter if you didn’t know everything from start to finish, but to trust someone and be able to earn that trust… that seemed to be something far more valuable.

She’d let that precious stone slip through her hand one time too many.








Lily sat next to James in Defence on Thursday. It was the closest she’d been next to him for the first time since - since she didn’t really know when. Amelie had sat next to Alice, and Kyle with Dorcas, leaving her to sit next to the boy she’d been thinking about for so long, but never felt ready for.

Nevertheless, she smiled – almost involuntarily – as she sat. It was a small smile, but expressed cordiality and warmth just as clearly as a big one. She wasn’t very much surprised to receive one back with interest.

“That’s it everyone, cauldrons all out and ready, everyone. I’m sure you’ve all prepared sufficiently for this practical.”

Lily had. They’d been studying Everlasting Elixirs for a month now, and Lily had gone through every material she could find on the subject over the holidays. It was sad, she knew, but it had been a rather welcome change to her sister’s voice. Studying magic was the only thing that would get Petunia out of a room quicker than her actually practising it – or at least pretending to. However, James’ blank look didn’t escape her notice.

“You didn’t, did you?” she asked, silently so as Slughorn wouldn’t hear.

James looked up at her guiltily.

Lily sighed. “Never mind, you’ll pick it up as we go along, anyway.”

“I’m sorry –“

“-Forget it.”

“But –“

“What’s this? Mr. Potter, Miss Evans, do we have a problem?”

Lily saw, almost as if in slow-motion, James’ mouth opening. She knew he had a talent for getting out of tight spots with the worst of teachers, but really, Slughorn was her area of expertise.

“No sir, we were just discussing ways of counteracting some of the unpleasant effects of the elixir.”

Slughorn beamed at her. “Well, Miss Evans, you do plan meticulously, don’t you? A spot of cunning and mediated behaviour that I would say was almost Slytherin.”

Lily never understood Slughorn’s insistence on claiming her as one of his own. In fact, it was more than slightly annoying. “I know that you would have loved to have me, but there’s only so much of me to go round.”

And with a hint of a smile, Lily sauntered over to the potions cupboard, acutely aware of James’ eyes following her all the way.








Kyle was moving as silently as he possibly could. He needed stealth and swiftness on his side, as well as good breath and a killer smile – because he was on a Mission.

If he peered through the dusty bookshelves at the right angle, he could see the bowed head of curly brown locks as they pored over a reference book. A tedious task, no doubt – one that he would have to save the poor, beleaguered soul from. But Kyle was not stupid, and he knew that a few bookshelves behind him on his right hand side, The Pince was ever-alert and watchful. If he was ever to be successful and manage to rescue the damsel and collect his prize without getting a humongous bruise, he would need to be Cunning.

As a Gryffindor, cunning wasn’t usually something that came by Kyle easily. Usually, he left that aspect of things to Lily, who had a slightly more logical-minded approach to things. But sometimes, Kyle realised, one would have to leave House restrictions aside, and expand one’s talents in order to snog one’s girlfriend.

Walking as inconspicuously as he possibly could, Kyle headed straight for Olivia’s table, leaning over her from behind under the pretext of looking at her work. Olivia, for her part, sat up straight immediately and was about to turn around and slap whoever it was behind her for scaring her when she heard Kyle muttering in her ear, his hot breath sending shivers down her spine.

“Well, I see you’re working hard.”

She was ignoring his advances. Kyle grinned, and took it as a chance to improve his cunning. He brushed his lips across the top of her neck ever so lightly. “Mm, if you ever thought you might need a break, there’s this nice little spot I’ve found at the back there. Quite secluded, though I have to admit there’s the slightest chance we might get caught…”

“Hey guys, look after my stuff, yea?” Olivia mumbled to her friends, who all suddenly were choking from fits of laughter. Noticing that this might garner unwanted attention from The Pince, Kyle used this opportunity to grab Olivia by the hand and walk briskly towards his desired destination.

Olivia smiled up at him. “What’s gotten into you today, Mr.?” she asked, her eyes glittering with playful joy.

“I’ve been practising on my cunning, Miss,”

“Oh, really? What for?”

“Why, to snog my girlfriend senseless, Miss. I like ‘em when their knees knock together and falls for me, Miss.”

“Right, Kyle, I know you don’t speak the Queen’s English but allow adding s’s when you don’t need to.”

Kyle laughed. “Yes, Miss,”

“So, when’re you going to follow through with this cunning plan?”

Kyle’s eyes darkened a shade as he leaned in closer. “Why, right now…”








When Amelie got home from the library that night, she expected the common room to be empty. It was well after curfew, and considering her state recently, she was extremely surprised that she had not been caught. Or maybe she had, but the amount of dirt she had on the prefects had kept them at bay. Either way, she was only too pleased to be greeted by the red and gold room without the awkwardness of other people being in there to examine her. They always did.

She moved towards the fire, and promptly collapsed. Her skirt had ridden half way up her stomach, leaving her legs bare, but her arms were way too heavy with fatigue to cover herself up. She was exhausted enough to feel her brain whirring, her muscles aching and her eyelids drooping, and just enough not to realise that Sirius had been sitting in the corner of the room the entire time, watching with a shrewd glance.

In the month that he had stepped away from Amelie, he had noticed some strange things. Her behaviour seemed to be completely different, and yet exactly the same at the same time. At first she had become even more eye-catching, only repelling him further. He had had no desire to even look at her, and yet she had been everywhere. It was all he could do, not to throw her up against a wall and shout at her for being so – so – bloody omnipresent when he had no wish to see her.

But then it began to change. Outside of classes and Quidditch practices, he saw her less and less. Even in classes they generally sat quite far apart, and in Quidditch neither one talked to the other. She was never vibrant, or alive, and the drive and determination that she had always had burning in her so ferociously was on a different flame now. It was still there, but low and constant. She had become pensive and, well, he would have said that she was plotting something, but what he wouldn’t ever be able to guess.

Somehow, he found himself becoming intrigued once more by this enigma that was Amelie Avery. And then he started to miss her a bit – though denying it adamantly, of course. He had James. Together they’d talked, just as he had with Amelie, so he allowed himself slightly more denial time than he would have otherwise, and not allowing himself to brood on the fact that his ex-confidante had none of the same luxuries.

He’d seen her change from overly-eye-catching into something that was comparatively a wall-flower. So it was a bit of a shock – and a jolt to Sirius’ memory, to see her legs completely uncovered. His mind drifted to the gutter, swimming there a bit too long before his logic told him to get out. Bathing in sewage was a dangerous business, after all.

And that was Sirius’ last thought before he nodded off to sleep.








Amelie’s first thought was that she was highly uncomfortable, and never wanted to sleep in this position ever again. Opening her eyes blearily, she noticed it was still rather dark and, even more strangely, she was sleeping on the floor, in the common room.

Well, she had never done that before.

As Amelie’s eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and her ears lose their somnolence, she detected a presence in the corner of the room. Her breath halted for a moment and she held her wand firmly in hand, ready to pounce on any possible attacker - when suddenly the creature let out a loud snore.

Amelie scoffed. How typical, that she’d get so jumpy over nothing. She was only glad there was no-one around who had witnessed her fear. Fear was never a good thing to show anyone.

Curiosity, though not something that Amelie always promoted herself, overcame her. Who had decided to sleep down here? Maybe she could get some dirt on someone. She crept over to the sleeping body, registering the silhouette of a boy – quite a big boy… perhaps a sixth of seventh year? She came to a sudden halt as she came close enough to tell exactly who it was.

“Fuck,”

She was a touch too loud with her expletives.

“Whoozat?” said Sirius, bleary-eyed from sleep but quickly regaining consciousness.

For her part, Amelie was stuck in a rather big dilemma. Her feet seemed to be refusing to listen to her mind’s orders to run, and her mind seemed to be refusing to give her mouth the words to prevent her from sounding an idiot.

“Millie?” he asked, shocked.

Maybe it was the use of her old nickname, or that he was actually looking at her as if he wanted her again, but Amelie’s rational thought fled from her mind, and she promptly knelt down by him and grabbed his hand, holding it to her lips.

“I know you can’t respect me anymore,” she whispered against his fingers. “I can’t even respect myself now. But-” she stole herself for a moment, then pressed herself closer against him, adamant that he pay attention. “You don’t need to respect me to fuck me.”

Sirius’ breath hitched. He was slightly incredulous, and half-believed that he was delirious with need. Somehow his dream had spilled over into reality, and his subconscious mind was enjoying every moment. So when he opened his mouth with a rather dry response of “so you’re going to use me again?” he really wanted to kick himself.

Amelie fisted his shirt, refusing to give him a reason to leave walk away from her. “I’m sorry, Sirius. You – we – I – I need you with me.”

Her laboured breathing told of her fear of rejection as she shakily brought her head down closer to his. She began with a chaste kiss, experimentally, and then became more passionate, wanting to make him believe through her kisses that she wasn’t lying, that she needed him, that without him she was a bundle of self-confused nerves who didn’t really know how to live.

“Amelie,” he sighed, mumbling through fatigue and languid kisses. “Just let it go. You don’t need them. You never did.”

“But I need you,” she gasped as he moved his mouth to the hollow of her neck.

Sirius did not say a word. He looked into her eyes that were brimming with want, searching and probing them for a second before responding by claiming her mouth as his own. Amelie sighed into his mouth, relaxed, for a moment, that she could once again lose herself in the bliss that was Sirius Black.








Benjy Fenwick had a lovely Christmas. His Foster Mum and Dad bought him mountains of expensive presents, most of which he then went on to sell at a huge profit to those who knew no better. It was fun, watching people walk away with what they thought was a brand new Nikon camera, only to later realise that it jinxed you into wearing a grin for three hours after taking each photo. Not that the muggles knew that they were being jinxed, of course.

At nights, he’d go out on the town, enjoying a few drinks and a few more girls. During the day, he slept until three in the afternoon and then had a few cigarettes. It was a very enjoyable existence. In fact, he had had such a great time during the Christmas holidays that he’d completely forgotten about his determination to get back to the Slytherin’s as soon as he got back. On his return, he hadn’t even cared all that much. But that was a month ago, and this was now.

His reputation had, if possible, gotten worse. In his latest escapade, he’d threatened a third year who’d been stupid enough to witness his actions to keep his gob closed, but rumours had leaked anyway. Benjy had never had any rumours spread about his dirty work before. Not even a whiff of them had been smelt before this. It was then that Benjy realised he had to stop fooling himself. Leaving it any longer and Benjy knew he would be expelled for sure. And what would his foster parents say if they knew he wasn’t going to get decent qualifications? He doubted they’d be so enthusiastic at giving him presents every Christmas, that was for sure.

The memory of his encounter with the Slytherins was fresh, fluttering around with his mind together with the inordinate amount of gossip he’d heard about Avery and Black. What was it with them two, anyway, that could demand so much respect? It wasn’t as if they had much self-worth, any respectability about them. Black was just a man whore and Avery was his bitch. He really wanted to show them, prove to them, that that just wouldn’t cut it at Hogwarts.

With a determined stride, Benjy Fenwick left his common room in the middle of winter, determined to make it to the dungeons by midnight. He guessed it was quite cliché, for the Slytherins to be plotting under cover of night, but he wasn’t going to judge. Maybe they liked using clichés for their own amusement.

The echo of his footsteps seemed to sound louder now that his eyes could see less. The torches that usually cast flickering shadows along the damp walls of the dungeons had all been put out, no doubt by over-efficient house-elves doing their part to deter students from coming out of their beds after curfew. Which was stupid, really, because there would always be the student who was ready to break a few rules, risk a few lost points – what were they, after all, when one had lost all sense of reputation? What were those stupid, meaningless things to those people who really didn’t give a shit about anything anymore?

He took a left turn, then a right; for a moment he thought he was lost, when suddenly his eyes fell on a door. The corner of his lips turned upwards as his eyes fell on the silver doorknob and the black iron-wrought designs that twisted its way across the lighter metal behind. The cold metal burned his hand as he turned it, and stepped in.

The huddle of witches and wizards stopped talking as soon as they saw the door open. Their was silence, for a moment, as they recognised the boy for a Gryffindor, and stared at him with hatred in their eyes for being so impudent as to travel so far from his common room. Benjy gulped.

“No need to kill him, he’s been invited,” said Regulus lazily from his seat. He had his feet up on the table, and was rocking his chair backwards on its hind legs. Benjy let out a sigh of relief when he saw him.

“Well, why don’t you close the bloody door and come in then?” hissed a female voice, unfamiliar.

He did not need to be told twice, and with as much pride that he could muster, he sat with the Slytherins, and listened.






[A/N] I’m in shock. I’ve just realised that I have five more chapters before I end this. I would be more upset, but I’m sort of ill right now and my senses are slightly numb. But still, five chapters is five chapters – and these last ones are the hardest, methinks, so please do bear with me. J

Chapter 21: Of Suspicion and Speculation
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Of Suspicion and Speculation

Summary: In which travels are made and a light is rekindled



The frosty chill of January melted into a heavy downpour of February showers, the droplets making icy paths towards the water-logged grounds. It spoke of a promise of a warmer spring; the slow decline of winter’s acrimony into a delightful amiability that was sure to bring new hopes and dreams. However, the students of Hogwarts were all too aware that they would first have to battle through the storm that seemed to be waging a war on the land around them before the sense of hostility that surrounded them eased into the harmony that they wished for so very much.

Outside of Hogwarts, too, the sentiment was much the same. Ministry officials were rather at a loss with what to do, unconvinced as they were by the assurances of their superiors that the situation would correct itself accordingly. An economic crisis would ‘correct itself’ they said, the suspicion ‘mended in due time’. Any idiot could see that neither of these things were true; were actually a far cry from it. Unfortunately, the people in control seemed to have surpassed the normal level of idiocy – suspicion and speculation in the economy was unlikely to stop, especially given the rumours that had spread into the newspapers recently.

Werewolf and Vampire colonies appeared to be on the move. The vampire settlements had been relatively peaceful in the last fifty years, unmoved even by the turmoil caused by Grindelwald less than thirty years ago across Europe. Less than a fortnight ago, however, the front page of The Daily Prophet, The Moon, and even The Sentinel spoke of several attacks on muggle villages in Transylvania, where houses were destroyed and many people had been reported missing, albeit each with different levels of exaggeration or understatement. Not even a week later, wizards in Dorset had allegedly heard howls in Dean Forest on the full moon. Parents were fearfully keeping a close eye on their children across the country, terrified that they would be gobbled up if they left their guards down even for one second.

With such a threat from the darker species in the Magical world, it was no wonder that the British community felt reluctant to invest in new businesses. Despite the ignorance of their Ministry, British wizards had not turned a blind eye to the ways of the world, and for the most part were aware that things did not bode well for their little island. It did not help, either, that giants were rumoured to be attacking Leeds later on in the week.

The precarious situation, therefore, meant that more and more families with the means were leaving the country before the state of affairs deteriorated further. The apparition officer at Dover had witnessed the stream of overly pompous, stuffed up lords and ladies shepherding their children across the border – probably to have them indulged in a château in Southern France, the officer scoffed. Not that he blamed them. He probably would have Disapparated as well, if he was sure of getting a job. It was a shame that they didn’t teach students other languages at Hogwarts: it would have been much more useful to him than Herbology, in any case.

So it was slightly strange that a man of a seemingly affluent and obviously magical background registered his name at the Apparition point in Dover that winter. The apparition officer raised an eyebrow in curiosity, but said nothing as he stamped an official document, accepting the man back into the country.

“Good day, sir,” he said, with a courteous nod of his head.

“Good day,”

Looking closer at the man, the officer was rather pleased to notice that he seemed rather worn out and fatigued. He had been frustrated these past few weeks at the sight of these men who were seemingly impervious to the pains of the rest of the country’s citizens. It was rather reassuring to hear that money didn’t mean immunity to troubles – that would have meant rejecting one of his old Mum’s philosophies, and he really didn’t want to do that. She was going rather cranky in her old age, bless her, but he would have hated to reject that particular philosophy, as she had been saying it a long time before her battiness settled in. With a quick look at the top of the parchment, he located the man’s name.

“Had a long journey, Mr Turner, sir?”

A wry smile graced the man’s face, lending it a youthfulness that made the officer wonder if he was really as old as he thought he was.

“Ridiculously long, but I guess it’s what we have to put up with, everything being as it is.” Putting his hat on his head, the man nodded a final “Good day” and left the officer with a rather perplexed notion about these well-to-do people.

The man had not lied. His journey had not been a smooth one, nor short. In fact, he had purposefully travelled in a most primitive form of muggle transport for almost the entire of his journey before he had reached to northern France and made a short Apparition. For the best part of a decade, he had been working outside of the country, making investments here and there and generally keeping himself out of trouble through the use of various aliases and often daring to disguise himself as a Muggle. It was sickeningly vile that purebloods were connected through blood and money all over Europe; it made the notion of freedom that much less legitimate. But then again, Mr. Matthias Turner had never been very free, nor was he now in search of it. On his mind, there was only one thought, and it was to get to his daughter as quickly as possible, before anyone else did.




Despite their having made it up – quite enthusiastically – the previous night, Amelie and Sirius hadn’t quite made it to where they used to be. Amelie was not as vibrant, Sirius not as forthcoming with information and advice, but neither of them really cared very much. The constancy of the other’s presence made their moments special, and Amelie found herself blushing quite profusely a few weeks after, having been caught thinking about a particularly heated encounter in the broom cupboard on the seventh floor during lunchtime.

"Amy, you look flushed. Are you feeling okay?”

Horribly embarrassed, Amelie muttered a hasty “I’m fine!” and drank on her goblet. She snuck a look at Sirius, and though he wasn’t looking at her, his smirk was firmly in place. She scowled at him, not very covertly, and soon found herself looking into his grey eyes and blushing even further. She wished she’d forgotten to re-apply her blusher that afternoon; it would have saved her a great deal of shame by making her look less like a tomato.

Amelie was only too happy to have had Sirius accept her unconventional apology. She didn’t like talking all that much about issues close to her heart. It often rattled her, and her sense of composure felt too core to be rattled. Broken arms and legs were no-where near as frightening. Despite the slight annoyance at not being fully functional and independent for those few moments before she went to get patched up by one of the barmy nurses, she was well aware that they were not home to her very being. She was a person, and her mind and self were infinitely more precious to her than a few bones.

“We better get a move on” Lily looked down at her watch, her tone not very jovial, “Herbology in twenty minutes”.

“I’ve got Care of Magical Creatures,” sighed Alice. It was a very lazy afternoon. Amelie could sympathise with the reluctance to study. Her body still felt warm, and she knew that her time in the classroom would not be one efficiently spent.

But then a firm hand held onto her shoulder, and she obeyed the pressure, and got up from the table, away from the curious looks sent her way by overly-inquisitive and incredibly naïve students. She was led outside of the Great Hall, down a set of steps she had discovered in her third year and into a quiet passageway she knew led to the old History of Magic classroom that the Marauders had ‘accidentally’ obliterated during one of their pranks.

The hand moved away from her shoulders and instead went toward her lower back, pressing her towards him as he slowly let his tongue slide over her neck. She rolled her head back, allowing him access and feeling the apprehension seep out of her along with the tautness of her muscles. Kisses trailed down her neck and to her collar bone, and hands explored the curves of her body, making her feel – feel in every sense of the word. Familiar and yet deliciously exotic, she revelled in the sensation of his touches and kisses, and inside, she felt a burning desire to reciprocate, to make him reach the same sense of elation and indescribable bliss that was the closest either of them could ever reach to pure, unadulterated happiness.

She nipped at his earlobe, teasingly taking her time on his neck, using her hands to explore beneath his shirt and robes with feather-soft touches. Somehow, the urgency of their usual intimacy had gone, and in their timeless world they painted peace and passion and protection. Slow and steady, she seemed to become familiar yet again with the same boy, and in her mind she drowned, fascinated with how many incredible dimensions existed inside one body, one mind and one soul. She claimed his mouth.

Shivers erupted on his skin as her nails traced patterns across his skin, gently caressing, providing the comfort they had both so desperately needed. Moving his hand under her skirt, he caressed the inside of her upper thigh as she gasped into his mouth at the sensual feel of his calloused hands so close to her.

“Sirius – we have class,” she whispered in between kisses, not at all in the mood to leave.

“I know,” he replied, and then smiled as he deepened the kiss. His hands leisurely stroked the stretch of skin by the hem of her skirt.

Amelie stumbled backwards towards the old, abandoned classroom, all the while using Sirius’ tie to drag her backwards with him.

Her hand fumbled with his belt as he did with her skirt; their shirts had already been removed, though they didn’t know when. His mouth roamed over her body, creating in her sensations that she had desperately missed and never wanted to forget. She gasped and ground her hips into him as he moved up from her stomach and took her soft flesh in his mouth, whilst his hands deftly removed any pieces of fabric that remained between them.

The heat was burning them both to a blissfully scorching level, and they still wanted more. It was undeniably selfish, this thing between the two of them. But as her hand pulled him into her and his breath hitched, both of them knew that they didn’t give a care in the world.




It is most exhausting position to be in; knowing that you’re in possession of a rather gifted mind, and yet being utterly confused with a problem that you’re faced with. James was similarly frustrated. He had not seen or heard anything regarding the progression of Lily and Robert’s relationship since Hogsmeade, and was unsure as to whether it bode well or ill for him. On one hand, the lack of news could indicate that there was nothing to tell – and James would have happily revelled in this view had it not been for the other possibility that snuck all too regularly in his mind in those twilight hours between waking and sleeping. It pained him to think that perhaps he was being foolish, that perhaps everyone around him was simply sheltering him from the horrible truth. Perhaps the real reason behind why he hadn’t heard anything about the couple was because their relationship was progressing so smoothly that his friends were scared of what his reaction would be! Though, he had an extremely hard time believing that his friends would be so harsh towards him.

“Sirius, pass me a chocolate frog would you?”

“Depressed again, are you?” Sirius’ face bore an unmistakable look of amusement.

Remus snickered. “Isn’t it strange; I thought it was only women that need chocolate when they’re down?”

“A sexist thought, Remus. And here all the girls are thinking you’re the sensible, sensitive one. Shame on you.”

Remus shrugged. “It’s not my fault they want to think I’m the best thing since chocolate sundaes.”

“You really need to teach me how you get away with everything one day,” said Peter as he lay down on his bed, dangling his upper body off the side.

"Perhaps,” smiled Remus wryly.

“Can I have my chocolate now, please?” asked James testily.

“Alright, alright, don’t get your knickers in a twist,”

“I’m not the one who wears knickers, Sirius,”

“Yeah,” snorted Remus. “That’s definitely Wormtail.”

“Oi!” cried Peter, falling off his bed as he tried to pull himself up to a seated position. “I do not!”

“We know, Wormy,” sighed Sirius, shaking his head. “And here’s your bloody chocolate frog.”

“Cheers,” said James, catching it expertly with one hand.

James had no doubt that if he really wanted to find out what was going on, he would have been able to uncover everything in less than half an hour. He wasn’t a marauder for nothing, after all; he was quite proud of his Powers of Deduction, having been fine-tuning them for years whilst he followed Lily round in the more precarious of situations and working out the professor’s personal timetables. In his experience during Hogwarts, James had learnt that knowledge indeed was power, and somehow he felt lost now that he was lacking on this bit of information.

Sirius’ advice, however, had been sound that day so very long ago; he had to take a step back. He had been deducing and seducing for long enough. Years of chasing and growing with the thought of one person was torturing and sweet, but he had to give some time to see if his labour would finally bear him any fruits. It would Lily’s time to step up, and if she was half the girl he knew her to be, she would be sure to make a move sometime soon. He only hoped that he hadn’t been wrong about her.

“That was a bloody awesome catch, Prongs,” said Wormtail.

James saluted the boy, his mouth busy munching on the writhing chocolate he had unwrapped.

He was only too grateful for the distraction that Quidditch offered. What with the Ravenclaw match less than three weeks away, James was channelling all this energies into a match that seemed to him to be almost sacred in its importance. Because whatever else happened, there was no way in hell he was going to lose to Robert Branstone’s team.

The team hadn’t been complaining. Perhaps they were all in need of some way to vent their emotions, too. Everyone needed a release these days. James, for one, made sure they all got it. For the past two weeks, he’d been working them four times a week, two hours for each session. It was exhausting, but even so a refreshing change from the pressurised atmosphere inside the castle. Conversation was markedly scarce in comparison to before Christmas.




Amelie looked into her reflection, oddly detached as she felt the bristles of her brush run through her hair, disentangling the strands and leaving a smooth, silky feel behind. The hour wasn’t so late, but she was shattered, and the only thought that consciously flitted through her brain was the comforting reassurance that today was Friday, and so she could sleep it off to her hearts’ content.

Discounting that, Amelie didn’t know why she had become so very apathetic, but as apathetic people are prone to do, she didn’t much care at that moment. Her life was still very turbulent, still a sordid mess. For a second she wondered about her cousins and her aunt, acknowledging faintly that she hadn’t done so in years. But even then, she couldn’t bring herself to give more than a non-committal mental shrug. They weren’t important, and not at all intelligent. What could they do to her, anyway? Hiss at her? Scratch at her with their talons? Her heart hardly palpitated at the thought.

Drusilla, Agrippa, her mother, her step-father… somehow they all seemed so very far away and distant right now. Perhaps it was that her body was still humming from her last encounter with Sirius. Perhaps not. She couldn’t tell, because everything seemed so very vague and unrelated. For a long moment, she felt as if she were watching her life from someone else’s eyes, and was content to watch it all sweep over her without the knowledge of having to do anything about it. What was it to her if this girl had a future or not? Life would still carry on, and the world would keep on spinning on its axis as it has always done.

She could hear Dorcas humming to herself in the bathroom, and fatigue gripped her tighter. Her eyes felt leaden and she yawned as she put her brush back down on the dressing table. Shuffling, she made her way back to her bed, and felt herself melt into the soft cushions and mattresses, feeling soothed as her duvet enveloped her into the shadowy comforts of sleep.

The very next day, Lily was attacked.




[A/N] Wow, I wasn’t aware that I was even capable of writing such short chapters anymore. Don’t worry; nothing’s been left out of the plot. Apparently, I seem to be more efficient today. :D Review, and I will love you forever!

Chapter 22: A Pretty Picture
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Gryffindor sixth were furious. As long as there had been Quidditch matches at Hogwarts, the lead-up to them had been filled with incidents. This was a fact that no-one could deny, but one that would be very happily ignored, so long as that the damage was not too serious, and with the knowledge that in due time, the rival house would be the recipient of a very similar type of injury. Lily, however, had never been a part of the Gryffindor team, and so seeing her lying on the hospital bed, face pale and bleeding, leg broken, was something no one was willing to take lying down.

 

“Fuck!”

 

The expletive had been just sufficient enough to express the sentiments running through their minds as they stared down at their friend. Madam Ferriby had explained that there would be no scarring – at which point they began to breath easier – but that the event could not be overlooked. Amelie was somewhat surprised by this show of concern from a woman she had thought so very cruel and unyielding, but far too absorbed in the day’s events to let it show.

 

Something had immediately struck her as odd. The more she sat on the stool by the occupied bed, the more she was convinced of her guess. The crisp linen sheets and blinding white walls, the faint tinge of antiseptic; she stared at them all and felt as if she was being mentally examined instead of simply sifting through her own thoughts.

 

She couldn’t help but feel some guilt for the occasion. Lily, the girl who was asleep on the hospital wing, was supposedly one of her best friends. They used to be thick as thieves, harder to separate than Siamese twins, the Last Resistance against the ‘evils’ that were Black and Potter. What had happened, that had created such a gulf between the two of them? When did this divide become so huge, that something of this magnitude could have happened and she had been utterly clueless to the possibility of its even occurring? What had happened to the Amelie Avery who would stop at nothing to protect her friends from the evils that they should never have to endure?

 

A few hours ago, they had all been congregated around the bed, disappointed that Lily wouldn’t wake up, and furious at this breach of privacy. It was almost animal, this base desire to protect one’s own. Lily was a Gryffindor - a lioness - and a skilled one at that. The thought that a mere crow would pick her apart to such devastating effect was almost laughable, and yet, now that it had happened, no one found it funny. It was an offence that none of them would ever forgive. Though still, something still seemed to ring untrue. Amelie only wanted to know what.

 

Though they hadn’t spoken, a glance between her and Sirius told her that he felt the same. She was glad of this; explaining and requesting weren’t her forte, and after the pre-Christmas muck-up, she had no desire to make the same mistake again. When she saw him again, everything would start moving. There would be an aim, an objective, something to do avenge her mate and regain her place as the protectress of her nearest and dearest. Now, however, she wanted to sit with her friend, even if Lily didn’t realise that she was still there. Amelie felt like an emotional sap, but she didn’t care; she had missed Lily, and if that meant that she would sit for hours on a wooden stool in a room smelling of antiseptic charm, then so be it.



“James, you’ll do yourself in if you keep at this,” sighed Remus, rubbing his weary eyes.


It was barely past six, but the day had been a long one, what with the enquiries into the attack on Lily. After hours of questioning without yielding any more clues, the staff put the blame on the Quidditch rivalries, made a few speeches as to the irresponsibility of actively harming other students, and made a show about assuring the student populace that if anything of the sort ever occurred again, those involved would be excluded.

 

Sure, because they were so likely to be caught in the act.

 

The sly method of attack reeked of Slytherin. James could smell the stench from all the way in his Gryffindor-induced haze and did not welcome it in the least. Whoever else would go to such lengths to attack a muggle-born, covering up their footprints as they went along? Hufflepuffs were too respectful of others, Ravenclaws too above the rest to even care, and Gryffindors would rather die than harm their own. The instinct consumed every bone in his body; he ached for a release of pure anger.

 

Of course, it was not the first time James had felt like this. He could count on one hand (two if he pushed hard enough) the other instances where he’d been in a similar state of mind. If he was the reflecting type, he would have realised that nothing good ever came of any of those instances, and left it at that. But he wasn’t, and so he sought for some activity to liberate him of his seething mind.

 

Unfortunately, he realised that wizards were rather inept at finding movement-induced methods of release. Apart from sex and Quidditch, the latter of which he deemed as not nearly enough hard work, he could think of nothing taxing enough. Perhaps this was the reason why they had mad psychopaths running loose at the moment, killing each other left right and centre. 

 

James stopped his pacing a moment. He shuddered to think anything at all about Voldemort’s sex life – or even lack thereof.

 

“Praise the Lord! He hath stopped!”

 

“And floors around the world give thanks to the Almighty Creator.”

 

His friend were far too sarcastic for their own good, and right now, it was grating on his ever-sensitive nerves. How dare they insinuate that he was pacing a hole into the floor! That was entirely Moony’s territory. Nevertheless, he couldn’t deny himself a good retaliating quip.

 

“The floors should be thanking the heavens for the pleasure of having such an amazing creature walk on them.”

 

“Yeah, and maybe we should start wearing pink bunny ears on Halloween,”


Perhaps he wasn’t as witty as he thought. Somehow, this notion deflated him, swiftly ridding him of any semblance of anger he had been feeling, leaving him instead feeling lethargic and useless. If only he had done something whilst he felt capable enough.

 

He fell onto the floor with an exaggerated huff.

 

The dog, rat and wolf shared a look. Given that they had been, for the most part, blessed with an extraordinarily high level of intelligence, they didn’t need to ask why James was in such a huff – why indeed he was experiencing more drastic mood swings than a pregnant woman. They were already far too accustomed to his erratic behaviour when Lily was concerned. Lesser friends would have pitied him for his lack of self-control, but as friendship was their sole bond, they did not. Instead, they saw, accepted and helped when things were too much to bear.

 

Thus far, in the saga, in that epic chronicle which they were sure they could write of the tale between their best friend and the ginger ninja (for they were sure she was a black belt at the very least), they had seen, and they had accepted. Rejection seemed the norm, and they were sure that their friend was man enough to get over the ordeal, within a few years at least. It was only now, after he had come so close, been crushed but hours later, been forced to ignore it still and then some time later be made to see her in a less-than-stable condition, that they saw that their assistance was in dire need.

 

“Prongs, old boy, stop acting like a first-year girl with pigtails,”

 

James glared at Sirius for what he wanted to take to be a careless attitude, and hating that he couldn’t do it properly because he knew it wasn’t. Mad and delinquent juvenile as his best friend undoubtedly was, uncaring he was not.

 

“But they’re so pretty,” he spat.

 

“Padfoot’s right, you know,” said Remus, undoing his tie with a fatigued hand and letting it drop to the floor in a crumpled heap. “Sulking won’t help. You need to do something.”

 

Like he hadn’t been thinking of what to do for the past hour; James seethed. Anger bubbled up again.

 

“Okay then Mr. Fucking Know-It-All, why don’t you tell me what I’m meant to do? Because I can only think of one thing right now, and we all know that no-one in this fucking castle would ever guess that I was the one who beat a Slytherin to pulp after Lily was found in the hospital wing for Quidditch injuries just five hours earlier!”

 

“All that sarcasm can’t be good for you,”

 

“Shut up, Worm!”

 

A laugh stole into the room, pitched slightly higher than that which the walls were used to hearing. The boys’ all stopped and stared at the doorway, shocked (though not perhaps as much as they should have been) to find Amelie standing there.

 

“Well, I’ve had warmer welcomes, but that will have to do, I guess.” Shrugging her shoulders, she walked in.

 

It wasn’t the first time she had been in the boys dormitories, but never before had she paid much attention to detail. She had been inattentive, and so had never caught on to the subtle differences in the colour of the walls, or the variation in the warmth of the materials that surrounded the four-poster beds of the girls and boys dormitories. The little oak tables beside each bed were larger in the girls’ dormitory, making the room slightly more compact and cosy. Here, she supposed, the lack of tables was to make space to fit the giants the boys grew into over the years of their stay.

 

Her glance drifted over to said giant creatures, taking in their wide eyes and slightly apprehensive features. She was slightly irked to see them still treating her this way (surely she wasn’t so horrific), but was appeased by the sight of Sirius’ eyes, bright and trained totally on her. Her body hummed. She coughed.

 

“Nice to see you in our neck of the woods for a change, Amy,” Remus smiled benignly. “Perhaps you’ll be able to knock some sense into James.”

 

She paused, thought, frowned; why would they ask her to help James when they were so much better equipped for the job?

 

“I’m not sure I can handle all his shit in one sitting,” she joked in an effort to dodge James’ issues and sort out her own. “Maybe if we do it in one-hour sessions…”

 

“I don’t need anyone to help me handle my shit.”

 

James’ sullen attitude ground on Amelie’s nerves. Who was he to reject the hand of friendship? “Sure sounded like it.”

 

“Fuck off,”

 

“Very witty. Ingenious, even,”

 

“Listen, I don’t know why you’re here, and I don’t really give a fuck either, but either get on with it or get the fuck out of my business ‘cos I really don’t feel like dealing with you, or anyone else, right now,”

 

Amelie’s eyes widened, blinked and looked down. She bit her lip and was hesitant. Usually, she and James were an easy-going pair, laughing and bantering with each other like she imagined (despite their erm, past) brothers and sisters would. Apparently, she wasn’t above feeling slightly stung by his words – she bit down on her tongue hard to control herself before speaking.

 

“Right, fine,” she turned towards Sirius, shoulders taut and movements sharp. “Can we talk?”

 

“Sure, talk,” James muttered snidely, causing Amelie to flinch.

 

Sirius, apparently, had not missed this. His voice was firm. “James,”

 

Hazel eyes met deepest grey, and stood still. These eyes had met before, many a time, to share jokes, to laugh, to console, to advise and to warn. Through thick and thin they’d journeyed and still endured. Once, only once, the grey eyes had been too full of shame to bear to look up at his brother. Now, the hazel knew what it felt to feel the same. James looked down.

 

“Let’s go, Millie,”





She was too fidgety to feel like kissing him. Not that his allure had disappeared overnight, but more like a blanket of agitation had smothered her senses and rendered her immune to the touch of his hand on her the bare skin of her forearm. It didn’t burn her with need or desire, but only deepened the yearning she had for an embrace, one that she could bury herself in and cower under, only to forget the guilt that was eating at her insides.


“It’s my fault, Sirius,” she whispered. “We were meant to be best friends and I’ve ignored her and look at what’s happened now.”

 

He could feel her slight body tremble as he held her, unsure as to whether it was more due to the cold or her rattled nerves. There was a need to keep her close and to keep her talking; she was hiding something in her words and with enough patience, he knew she would speak.

 

“I knew she was in danger. We both did, and so did James. I know why he’s mad. We’ve all been so stupid – we should’ve been more careful after the scare with Kyle. Oh, we’re so fucking lucky it wasn’t worse! How could we ignore that she’s muggleborn?”

 

And there it was, clear as day. That was where the crux of the whole situation lay. It may have been blamed on Quidditch rivalries, but no one was blind as to where the real threat to Lily lay. Sirius was not so very surprised to Amelie, the protectress of all that was Gryffindor, shake to see her authority thus defeated. Her own best friend had gone down, and she had been completely clueless. She would be an idiot to not feel any fear.

 

“Stop it, Millie!” his voice cut through her own rant, and she looked up with eyes wide, almost as if, despite the cover and protection he had bestowed her with, she had forgotten his presence. “Just stop it. Yeah, we’ve been thick. Yeah, we’ve been stupid, and a bit reckless with their lives. Yeah, we should have known something was coming… that something was going to happen sooner or later. We’ve got the experience, we know things from the inside, and we know that everyone back home is probably cheering at how careless we’ve been. But forget about all that right now, okay, Millie? So, we’ve taken a bit of a knock, a bit of a shake, but you know what you’re up against now. I know you won’t let it happen again. We won’t let it happen again, will we? Because we’re better than that, and we know that what they think and believe is just plain wrong. There’s no way then can win, Millie. And as long as there are people like Lily, like Kyle, still living, still hanging in there, they won’t.”

 

Amelie chuckled, lifted pressure lifted slightly by this new outlook. She breathed in deeply, inhaling his musky sent and let it wash over her, fill her up and then drift away as she exhaled. It must have cost him, she realised, must have pained him, to make something like that up so quickly and so well, when he shared just as much apprehension and guilt over the same thing.

 

“You’re amazing, you know that?”


Sirius gave a gentle smile. “I do like to think so every now and again,”

 

Impulsively, Amelie stood up on her tiptoes and gave Sirius a tender, lingering kiss. Her eyes were soft as she took in his face, her fingers still cold as they stroked the coarse stubble that was beginning to grow on his chin.


“You don’t need to do all this. You don’t need to pretend that you don’t feel just as guilty as me. Once, just once, I wish you would maybe break down a bit, just to show me that you’re human.”

 

His smile stayed put as she walked away.




 

Her breath quickened, her were shut tight, and her fingers pressed into her ears like a vice as she crouched in the corner of the owlery, rocking back and forth. She’d wanted to block out the shrieking hoots of the owls and the mocking sound of laughter that was all too clear, all too close, but instead the weight of her fingers enhanced the rushing sound of her blood as it coursed through her body, the shut eyes only improved the sight of her mind’s eye. She clawed at her hair with shaking hands, using her arms to shield her eyes from what she had no desire to see.


“No, no,” she muttered, shaking her head from side to side. “No, it’s not real. There’s no blood on my hands. Nothing, nothing…”

 

The silence wasn’t working, she realised, so she began to hum. Maybe humming would get rid of the laughter. It was her Mum laughing, she knew. Shivers wracked her body more intensely than before; no-one else’s laugh was as musical, as warm and enticing as hers. No-one else’s laugh could match hers in its insincerity.

 

“You haven’t done it. I know you haven’t. You’re just playing with my head aren’t you? It’s all a game, just a silly, silly game…”

 

And she hummed, but then the humming became louder and louder, and then her mouth opened, her unstable voice mutated the low whine into a shrill shriek, full of pain and anguish, like that of a wounded dog. Her eyes were still shut. She couldn’t open them, because it was still there, right by her feet. Maybe she’d kicked it a bit closer to her, or further from her… not that it was really there, because it hadn’t happened. No, it hadn’t.

 

Amelie opened her eyes, and screamed.

 

By her feet, scrunched up and torn in places no doubt by her shoe as she had writhed and cried, lay a piece of parchment that had, up until a few hours ago, looked pristine and rather official-looking. She’d been innocently curious, as she’d picked it up then, wondering who had owled her this time – surely not her mother. But the combination of innocence and curiosity was deadly; one could be tainted and the other could never be satisfied. Unfortunately, Amelie had only realised the true value of the one after it had been completely obliterated by the other.

 

Curiosity had niggled at her soul, and she used her chipped fingernails to pick open at the crisp sheet of parchment, and with her hands smoothed out the sheet until it was staring at her in the face, until it was too late; until she had the mutilated face of her father, her true father, looking up at her, his eyes glazed over and mouth slack. Promptly, she had hurled out her innards, and shut her eyes, crouching and wailing in that same position, the words scrawled with the elegant hand of her step-father burning and churning her insides.

 

Murder is pretty when you do it.
Don’t you think?




I’m very sorry to have killed Mathius Turner off before they could have had the whole father/daughter sentimental reuniting session that I’m sure many of you were so looking forward to, but sadly, I had to - because such amazing Dad’s just aren’t meant to live on and carry good messages in stories like this one. Please don’t hate me.


But please do review! I’d love to hear your views on the developments.


x





Chapter 23: A Push for Power
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Chapter 23 – A Push for Power



“Where’s Amy?” asked Dorcas, as she lay down on the thick woollen rug in the common room, trying to solve a particularly tricky question on Hippogriffs for her Care of Magical Creatures lesson the next day. “I haven’t seen her since we were all in the hospital wing last night.”

 

Callum’s brows etched together, creating a crease in his forehead. “You know what? I haven’t seen her since then, either.”

 

Kyle shrugged absentmindedly as he crossed out a huge section of his Transfiguration essay and starting again. “I’m sure she’s fine, probably staying with Sirius that’s all.”


“Are you sure? It’s past curfew…”

 

“Since when has that stopped her?” Alice pointed out, as she re-read her charms assignment that was due in the next day. “Don’t you worry, Amy’s just trying to get console herself in Sirius again. Haven’t you noticed how she doesn’t even hang around Lily much anymore? Ever since she started linking with Sirius, the rest of us have faded into the background.”


Dorcas was uncomfortable. She didn’t want to speculate on deteriorating friendships, not where Amy was concerned; she kept silent.

 

“I just hope she gets back soon,” said Callum. “James has scheduled a six o’clock practice tomorrow morning to prepare for Ravenclaw.”

 

“Six o’clock?!” cried Kyle. “Damn, I’m glad I didn’t get into the team. What’s that boy on? Can he give me some?”

 

Alice giggled. “You know how Potter is with his Quidditch.”

 

“And I guess it helps for him to try and take his mind off things,” Callum added, a comment that needed no further explanation.

 

The hour was late, and the fire was crackling low, but neither of them felt any inclination to go to sleep. It had been painful to see Lily battered and pale on a hospital bed, unresponsive, and all they could do was be thankful that it hadn’t been anything worse. Because it was a shocking reminder that worse things did happen. Newspaper articles hadn’t been enough to alert them to the reality of what was happening to muggleborns and half-bloods all around the country. They were slightly ashamed to realise that it took one of their own to be hurt for them to even begin to comprehend the madness.

 

Life was said to be tough, but for some reason, Callum, Kyle, Dorcas and Alice felt that for them and their friends, it was about to get that much tougher. After all for them, it had only just begun.




“Where do you suppose Amy is, Sirius?” asked James, his features still contorted into an uncharacteristic frown. Unfortunately, his mates had been forced to accustom themselves to this new James, as he’d done nothing else all day. “We have practice tomorrow and I’m pretty sure she’s not in the common room yet.”

 

“What makes you say that?” asked Peter, lounging atop his bed and flicking through a Quidditch magazine that had been lying around for the past month.

 

“Because it’s too quiet down there,”

 

“Good point.”


Sirius still hadn’t said anything. His eyes were shut, but the crease between his brows and the occasional twitch in his jaw were proof enough that he wasn’t asleep. An hour ago, he had dropped into the dormitory, loosening his tie and a few buttons of his school shirt before he dumped himself down on his bed, using his feet to chuck his shoes off and forgetting to even remove his socks.

 

Her words still reverberated in his mind, constantly playing and replaying from the moment she’d uttered them. He wanted to explain himself better, show her that his determination to be there for her didn’t stem from a desire to prove that he was better off, despite their similar circumstances. The nuance of stability that Sirius had in his life hadn’t been created by himself at all, so it was no good for him to take credit for it. All that he had was thanks to the Potters. It was Amelie who had managed to build everything on her own back, not him. All he wanted to do was give her something to fall back on.


A sigh struggled to escape his lips, and Sirius rolled over on his side to repress it. Remus was probably right in pointing out that silence in the common room indicated that she wasn’t back yet, but nothing was for certain. Amelie had her own ways of getting about places without being seen.

 

“She’s probably still at the hospital wing, James,” Sirius muttered, the memory of Amelie’s guilt over her friends situation still fresh in his mind. He didn’t bother to roll over and note how his friend would take the reminder of what had happened to Lily. His mind was much too tired to deal with yet another bout of pain and hurt.

 

There was a pregnant pause.

 

“Hospital wing. Right.”

 

Sirius buried his face in his pillow and begged his body to switch off and let him drift off into a peaceful slumber.





When Benjy was a first year, he, like many other Gryffindors, had thought the Gryffindor tower impenetrable by anything remotely connected with Slytherin. The mere name of their rival house was like poison on the tongues of any self-respecting house-member; alluding to any sort of secret alliance was akin to sacrilege. Abhorrence of all things Slytherin was the closest thing to religion that the Gryffindors had.

 

They were, Benjy realised, foolishly mistaken.

 

Slytherins were slippery, cunning and interesting. They had a thirst for power that could not be quenched, which Gryffindors had not even tasted. Theirs was a different world, played by different rules, and Benjy was determined to understand it. He was doing away with the false preconceptions, with the inane drivel that spread like wildfire through the Gryffindor grapevine. He smelled change in the air, and he was determined to be the one to bring it about, and restore his position as King of the Castle.

 

That was another thing that Gryffindors didn’t seem to grasp well. Hierarchy was important. Benjy wanted - no needed to be at the top of that hierarchy, and he was going to use Slytherin means to get there. The prospect of abject humiliation for Black and his Bitch made him feel warm inside. Nothing would be better than the self-satisfaction he would feel, looking down on them both, laughing and spitting in their faces as they realised how short their tenure at the top had lasted. And hopefully, this would all happen sooner rather than later.

 

He was on his way down to the dungeons again. The little group he’d come to associate himself were beyond clever, charming a sovereign ring they’d given him to burn red hot with the place and time of the next meeting. Over the month, he’d come to change his mind about the pain that the ring gave him. It wasn’t such a bad thing, really; it just reminded him that he’d have to work if he wanted to be the best. He needed to be committed – eyes on the prize, as it were. He had to be careful not to loose focus. People had a habit of asking stupid questions.

 

His ring finger burned sharper.

 

“Fuck!” He was sure it had blistered. “Fuck it all! I’m coming, damn it!”


The summons had only begun five minutes ago. It wasn’t his fault that the Gryffindor tower was situated so far from the dungeons. The Slytherin buggers were being awfully merciless, and Benjy gritted his teeth, wanting to get this done as soon as possible.


“Now, now, Fenwick, don’t get flustered. There’s no need to tell the whole world when you’re going to – ah – come.

 

“Moonstone,” said Benjy, righting up and giving what he hoped was a nonchalant look, fighting the blush that was threatening to give away his discomfort. “I didn’t know you were here.”


“Clearly,” The Slytherin raised a brow, before turning on his heel and weaving his way through several dark passages. “I should have you know that where we’re about to go, profanity is not approved of - unless of course, it’s in reference to those of inferior parentage, and traitors.”

 

Right,” muttered Benjy, with a sinking feeling, suddenly wishing that the night would soon be over. He didn’t give a shit about parentage - he didn’t even know who his own parents were. And here were a bunch of holier-than-thou Slytherins telling him not to swear. Who the fuck were they to tell him if he could swear or not? He’d swear at their mothers if he had to.

 

Fucking shitheads.

 

“Do try and keep up, Fenwick…”

 

What a prick.

 

Benjy’s unpleasant internal monologue continued, so that by the time they reached the Slytherin’s meeting place, his ire was beginning to get the better of him. Even so, the sight of twenty or so figures cloaked in black cloth, quelled his tongue. Looking around, he noted that a few had pulled their hoods over their faces, casting shadows onto seemingly sunken faces. Suddenly he noted the intense drop in temperature, and began wishing he’d thought of thicker clothing himself. A shirt and school trousers, whilst sufficient clothing in the warmth of Gryffindor tower, was nowhere near enough for the badly insulated walls of the dungeons.

 

“Good evening. Sorry for the delay, Benjy here was having some difficulties.”

 

“Yeah well that ring was a bleeding pain in the-“

 

“Fenwick, I do believe I told you to hold your tongue,” snapped Moonstone. “If you’re unable to restrain yourself, I’m sure one of us would be delighted to do it for you.”

 

The Slytherins laughed.

 

“Thank-you, Moonstone,” said a voice, clearly amused. “Perhaps we should begin, then?”

 

Benjy was abashed, his ears bright red. He’d assumed this meeting would be on equal footing. They had offered partnership, not this. He had no idea what this even was. The ill-treatment was getting to him, and he could not help the disdain in his tone when he turned to the hooded figure and asked, “Will you be helping me to get revenge on Avery and Black? Because if not then I’ve got better things to be doing to be honest with you.”

 

“Now, now, Benjy, no need to get all worked up about it,” said the cloaked figure, creeping closer. Benjy could vaguely make out strands of black hair peeking out from below the hood. “We’re only messing with you. I thought you didn’t mind a bit of good-natured ribbing.”

 

Whoever this bloke was, nothing in his voice seemed to even hint at a good nature. Where had he even come from, anyway? Surely there weren’t people in Hogwarts weren’t so uptight about everything?

 

“Whatever. Have you guys thought up something? How are we going to get them back? Fuck with their minds? Catch them fucking each other and get them expelled?”

 

They laughed again. Benjy’s arm started to itch.

 

“Your mouth is incurably filthy. Let me clean it for you. Scrougify!”

 

Benjy didn’t even have time to think much less shield himself before his mouth started frothing with soap bubbles. The taste engulfed his senses and he fell to the ground on all fours and began to wretch, only faintly aware of the background din.

 

Wasn’t anyone going to help him?

 

Eventually, the frothing began to decrease. Benjy hastily crawled a few paces forwards, away from the crowd, his throat still making choking noises of its own accord as he tried to catch his breath.

 

Was this how he was planning to get his reputation back? On all fours?! He bloody well didn’t think so. Benjy spat on the stone floor twice, trying to get rid of the alkaline taste in his mouth. By the time he had righted himself, the shrieks of malicious laughter had died down into mere chuckles, but that didn’t stop the echoes reverberating through the small pace, attacking him together with the cold gaze of a few dozen unflinching, spiteful, pair of eyes. 

 

The hooded boy was speaking again.


“Your ideas aren’t too bad, Fenwick, but perhaps you should think of something a bit more long term? Dumbledore won’t let Black or Avery far from his sight, even if they were expelled. They’re much too precious to his cause.”

 

Benjy frowned, momentarily forgetting his anger when faced with such well thought-through logic. “So if getting them excluded isn’t the answer, what do you think is?” 


“If you want to win back respect,” said Rosier, stepping forward into the flickering light of the torches, his eyes glinting with a dark promise, “you need to get rid of Avery and Black in a way that will strike fear in the heart of anyone who would ever dare to think of doing it again, in any way, shape or form. You want to be at the very top, you need to put yourself there.”

 

Rosier grew closer to Benjy with every stride he took.

 

“You want power, Benjy? Then be ready to get your hands dirty.”


“What do you want from me?” cried Benjy, now far too confused and freaked out to comprehend anything. He had been attacked, mocked… for a second he had thought that the negotiations were going to go somewhere, but this talk of power as such an awesome and all-encompassing force made his legs shake underneath him. And if he was going to be really frank, Rosier’s possessed expression didn’t help, either.

 

“It’s time to step up to the plate, Benjy. We’re going to send you off on a little trip. And afterwards, you’re going to be King of Gryffindor tower.”


Rosier’s face was far too close to Benjy’s, his face was too set, his eyes too unforgiving. Benjy’s eyes flickered past the looming figure in front of him, on a desperate search for an escape. Fear settled in his heart and he threw himself away from Rosier, running in the opposite direction. Unfortunately he ran into, Black, Snape and a few other Slytherins that he couldn’t quite recognise, who’d closed in on him, no doubt anticipating his getting cold feet.

 

“Now where do you think you’re running to?” spat Snape. “I thought Gryffindors were meant to be known for their courage.”

 

“Come on, Benjy,” cajoled Regulus Black, his voice smooth. “You’re going to show my brother and his whore how we deal with betrayal. You’ll be perfect, don’t worry. We’ll have your back the whole way.”

 

“What do you-“

 

But Benjy didn’t have time to finish his sentence, because Regulus had turned and pushed him roughly, causing him to come face to face with a wand-drawn Rosier, with feral eyes. No sooner than Benjy’s words had died on his lips, Rosier cast his spell, sending it right at Fenwick’s chest.

 

Imperio!”

 

And then, everything went blissfully blank.



Amelie stumbled and crashed to the ground. Her arms, that she’d used to break her fall, had kept her nose from breaking against the cold stone floor, but were now also sore, tender and achy. They would bruise tomorrow, but for the moment she stayed frozen in time, lying sprawled on her belly, eyes staring blindly at the cold granite mere inches from her face.


Her breaths were laboured, shaking her body and arms, even as they fought to keep her from falling to the floor. Her mouth made retching noises, but there was nothing left to upchuck. Her dark hair was tangled and in her eyes, but her thoughts were too jumbled to think of moving the strands.

 

She was small again, looking at the world with a bright eyed eagerness, lapping up the colourful luxuries that surrounded her. A cheerful face smiled down at her, grabbed her by her innocent hands and led her to adventure. Roughness was a foreign concept, unless you counted the scratchy hairs on her fathers’ chin. He used to rub it against her face when she got stubborn and frumpy.

 

‘You’re acting like a little madam today,’ he used to say.


She could never be mad at him for long. Sunshine and fucking daisies.

 

Why shouldn’t she be mad at him?! - Because fury was everything right then, right now. What right had he, to wrap her up in the warmest of blankets, just to snatch it away from her when she needed to be sheltered most? How dare he be her everything and leave her with nothing?

 

Dry sobs erupted from Amelie’s lips. Her mouth was open, her eyes were scrunched and she wailed pathetically, but no tears escaped from under the tightly shut lids. A hand took a hold of hers and lifted her off the ground, helping her to her feet, and Amelie unthinkingly obeyed the pressure, mindlessly following the footsteps to nowhere. The curtains had fallen away, and all that remained was a shell; the remains of a person who had spent all her life scraping at survival.

 

There was sinister hate for her kin, for those whom she should by all accounts love and adore. Instead something dark and twisted ate at her soul, consuming the blood that she knew she shared with them. Even her father’s memory was slowly starting to blacken at the acknowledgement of what his decision had done to her life, to her well-being and to her mind. Though there was affection, too, for Lily, for Kyle, for James, for Dorcas, for Remus – Peter and Alice, too, though she knew the former not so much and the latter had turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. They were rather simple people, she’d always thought, but she’d long come to the conclusion that simplicity wasn’t a bad thing. Ignorance, after all, is bliss. The affection cast a lukewarm spell over her heart, refusing to give into the hate and the dark, but it was the need that had kept her going.

 

Sirius had kept her going. He’d been her light in the dark, her hope for something new, her foolish minds’ beacon of hope and glory and maybe – perhaps – a sign that dreams maybe did come true. Something to live for, was what she’d wanted and he’d given that to her, if for a time. Maybe if she found him again – what if he could make life happen again? Could he make it safe, provide comfort; provide hope - even after this? Would he save her?

 

Suddenly the grip on her arm felt all wrong. His skin wasn’t as rough as Sirius’; wasn’t as warm or as gentle as his grips were, either. It was foreign and she was frantic with worry. She tried to pull away but his grip tightened, hard, bruising her wrist from the force. She was being manhandled now, and she opened her blind eyes to see Benjy Fenwick, eyes glazed over and pushing her towards the Room of Requirement, towards what would undoubtedly be the very last moments of her life.  


[A/N] Just wanted to thank everyone. I’m nearly at the end of the story here. It’s been a very very very bumpy ride, but the amount of reviews, favourites and reads are seriously staggering and I know that the last few chapters have taken their sweet time in appearing on your screens but seriously I couldn’t have done it without your encouragement, you support and your help. Big thanks to every single one of you who reviewed. I can’t say it enough.





Chapter 24: Hide and Go Seek
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 Warning: This chapter contains strong scenes of violence. Please avoid reading if you have delicate stomachs.






Amelie was flung bodily onto hard granite, causing her right side to bruise further under her weight. Her arm, bent unnaturally under her, cracked as she tried to break her fall, but with every ounce of her being concentrated on Benjy, she barely even noticed.

His appearance had never been particularly put together, but Amelie could now physically see that the past few months had not been kind to him at all. There was an unkempt, frazzled air about him now, an almost manic, chaotic sort of frazzled that seem to ooze from his pores and set his surroundings on edge. Heavy bags had taken up residence under his unfocused gaze, contrasting sharply with the pale, almost waxen complexion he had managed to assume that betrayed his recent lack of exposure to sunlight.

“What the fuck?” Amy spluttered. “Benjy?!”

Still overcome by an intense vulnerability, Amelie had no desire to be approached, seen or heard. Her letter had stripped her of her shell in an instant, and she desperately needed to hide away, and lick her wounds for a while before she could even think about getting back up again. Scratches on the surface she’d dealt with before, but such an attack on her being, on the very foundation of her soul she’d never had to deal with. Her body was still weak and battered, aching from the pain of throwing up her innards five times too many. Her mouth was dry and in her throat she could faintly recognise the metallic tang of blood. Her thick skin hadn’t yet grown back. Everything hurt.

But Benjy did not speak. He continued, a silent and purposeful force, not even blinking as the door of the Room of Requirement squelched shut.

Looking around, Amelie’s numb mind received yet another onslaught of unexpected images.

The room was nothing like the place where she and Sirius shared their first time. The garden had disappeared, only to be replaced by a cavernous room, with walls so far apart that her eyes could not make them out. Instead there were shelves, cupboards, and wardrobes - by the millions - filled and overflowing with objects strange and ordinary alike.

Amelie might have been frozen in her own disorientation, but time had not stopped for Benjy. Soon he had picked her up by the scruff of her neck, dragging her along by her clothes. Forced out of her reverie, Amelie once again began to struggle, kicking feebly at the ground in protest, trying to claw her nails into his hand but finding her strength too depleted to cause any harm. For the reaction that Benjy showed, she might as well have been a gnat: weightless and inoffensive. With one last effort, Amelie bit down on the hand that held her collar as hard as she could. The skin split under his sharp teeth, the thick, scarlet liquid trickling down Benjy’s hand and onto her chest. Amy broke out in sudden nausea, throwing up a trail of vomit across the floor as she was dragged which she was being dragged.

Depleted of her physical and mental energies, Amelie was tugged along the stone floor like a ragdoll, head lolling from side to side, stained all over in blood and vomit, until finally he dropped her, head once again bruising at the impact with the ground, her eyes seeing stars. Opening her eyes, she noted that he had bound her arms and legs to the floor with his wand, the cold, uncomfortable stone burning into her back. She tried to struggle but the bindings burnt into her skin with a vengeance. The smell of scalding flesh brought a fresh wave of nausea, that her new position would not allow her to get rid of. Tears fell from her eyes as she felt her breathing being impeded, leaving her no choice but to forcefully swallow down whatever her innards had rejected. The burning taste of bile hurt her mind. Mentally she was nothing; physically, it was all but pain.

“Let’s play a little game,” said Benjy, his breath incredibly close. His voice was almost soothing to her ears. He sounded exactly like before, like normal. “Do you want to play with me, Amy?”

“A game.”

The word sounded strange on Amelie’s tongue. It belonged to another world, another being.

“Yes, we’ll play a game,” he whispered, hand on her cheek. “And you’re going to have the time of your life.”






Sirius had, unsurprisingly, slept fretfully. All night long he had been plagued by images of betrayal, hurt and anger, which woke him at irregular intervals. Turning around he realised that it was already five o’clock in the morning. If he slept again, he would never wake up in time for Quidditch practice, and James would have his hide. That was if he’d even manage to get to sleep.

 Groggily he sat up, stretching his muscles and squinting into the darkness that surrounded him. Maybe, if he was lucky, he could catch Amelie before practice today. If he’d somehow be able to make her understand…

 Sirius sighed. Understand what, exactly? Even he didn’t really understand what he felt for her. He knew he did feel, and he felt a lot. It was about giving her a shelter, a duty to do onto her as others had done for him. It gave her life and him a purpose. Was it bad that he enjoyed reaping the rewards? Surely it couldn’t be; she was pretty sure she enjoyed it, too, if her reactions were anything to go by.

Maybe this wasn’t the right time to think about Amelie’s pleasure, when he was surrounded by four other boys in a dorm room. But now that he’d started he couldn’t really stop. Her drive drove him mad, and the fact that only he’d seen its full extent arose in him an unexpected sense of pride which he didn’t want to go away. A certain consuming possessiveness had crept over him, of a kind that he doubted would ever quite go away. Because really, why on earth would anyone give away something that meant everything?

The sun wasn’t up yet, but Sirius was wide awake by this point. He didn’t want to coincidentally bump into Amelie before practice. He wanted to be there now, by her side, making her understand him even if it killed him.
 
‘Accio map!’ thought Sirius, summoning the map to his free hand and catching it in a split second. He snatched James’ cloak from the bottom of his friend’s bed, threw it over him, and with the light of his wand he began scouring the parchment for the blot named Amelie as he strode out of the dormitories. He was a man on a mission, and nothing could get in his way.





 Amelie giggled. It was a funny little game Benjy was playing, that was for sure.
 
For two hours she had screamed and twisted as he had methodically tortured her, starting from hairs on her head - the thick, long, black tresses scattered along the stone floor was proof enough. Benjy had pulled it out chunk by chunk from the roots, leaving in its place a bloody mess. A sizeable portion was missing from her right cheek. By all rights the girl should have been dead or unconscious, but Amelie had always had a high tolerance for pain. Instead, it was her mind that had shattered.
 
“Benjy, Benjy, Benjy,” she sang. “Like a teddy bear, big and fat and round and – oh!”

Benjy had just set a funny word, and look, there was a massive gash across her stomach, stretching from under her left rib to her right pelvic bone. Red blossomed and seeped through heavily onto the shirt on her body. In curious detachment, Amelie touched the wound, interested to find her palm slickened with red liquid. Perhaps she’d pressed down a bit too hard, because all of a sudden she let out a lengthy stream of feverish laughter that rang with hysteria.

Benjy jolted, blinked a few times, his eyes slowly gaining focus on his surroundings, torn between confusion and panic at the manic cry he’d just heard. Where he was and where it came from he had no idea, but his palms were getting sweaty. Why was his wand arm pointed? Where was it pointed to?

The young boy followed the line of his wand towards the girl who was kneeling on the ground, shrieking and jerking as scarlet liquid gushed out of her stomach.

He was breathless with horror, not understanding what was happening, not recognising the battered, beaten and broken remains of the girl who stood in front of him. Petrified, the boy stepped backwards- one, two, - then broke into a run in the opposite direction.

Amelie laughed to herself as she bled onto the floor.





Sirius wanted to tear his hair out. He’d scoured through the map three times over, and then proceeded to do the same with the actual castle. It was getting to almost eight o’clock now, and as he reached the corner before the hospital wing, he decided to pop in again, hoping beyond hope that she’d returned to visit her friend and the map was just malfunctioning.

After all, Sirius consoled himself, Amy had been pretty torn up about the situation with Lily. It wasn’t too far a jump to expect the girl to be with her best friend.

Pushing open the doors of the hospital wing, Sirius took long strides to where Lily was sleeping, thanking his lucky stars that the nurse was nowhere to be seen. He took this as a good sign. Maybe things weren’t as bad as he had thought.

“Sirius?”

Lily had clearly just woken up, her eyes bleary and puffy, bed hair flying everywhere.

“Morning Lily, did I wake you up?” Not waiting to hear an answer, Sirius rushed on. “Have you seen Amy by any chance?”

“I just woke up…” yawned the red head. “How could I have seen her?”

“Good point,” said Sirius. “But how about last night?” 

"Sirius, are you feeling okay? Do you think that Madam Digweed would actually let a student in that late? No, after you guys left everything went quiet and boring.”

The red-head yawned and then sat up straight in her bed, looking like she’d been hit over the head with a brick.

“You mean to say you haven’t seen her around?”
 
Sirius was silent, but the sombre look on his face was confirmation enough for Lily. His grey eyes had lost their mischievous sparkle, and were instead filled with desperate, frantic worry that was only made more prominent by the heavy bags under his eyes.
 
Her heart pounded and worry seized her, anxiety building in her heart for her oldest friend. Sirius and Amelie were birds of a feather; if he was worried… well, it couldn’t be a good sign.

Swiftly and silently, Lily tossed on a nightgown, got out of the hospital bed and joined Sirius by his side. Grey eyes met emerald and Sirius breathed a sigh of relief.

About time he met someone who was just as worried.
 

Sadly, their worry wasn’t enough to get them very far. It was mid-day now, and still hide nor hair of Amelie had been seen. After two hours of search, Lily decided that maybe it was best if they told a teacher.
 
“Come on Sirius, the more people that help the better.”
 
Knowing that Amelie wouldn’t have wanted her disappearance to be public news, Sirius had so far persuaded Lily into keeping their search party down to just two men. Nevertheless as time wore on, his anxiety increased, and Lily, still not fully recovered, was finding it difficult to keep going. It looked like he had no choice.
 
“I think you might be right,” he sighed.                                                
 
“Finally, he sees the light! Now come on, Professor McGonagall’s office is this way.”
 
Sirius snorted, albeit half-heartedly (as if he needed to have Professor McGonagall’s office pointed out for him) and continued onwards in a daze.
 
It just didn’t make sense, for the map not to work. Never in the three years since they’d made it had it been unable to point out the location of every single person within the castle. The only conclusion that lead to was that she wasn’t anywhere in the school grounds, but then which passageway had she crept out of? Where was she? Did she go alone or was she taken by force? As time ticked the horrendous images inside Sirius’ mind grew, flashes of images showing Amelie broken and beaten and gasping for breath, almost to the point where he wished to just shut his eyes and go back to sleep and forget about it all.
 
But that was the coward’s way out. Sirius was many things, but damn it a coward he was not.
 
Instead he had to take deep breaths just to concentrate on not flying off the handle, and focus on the mess he was in. He needed to get Amelie back, feel her, and understand that she was alive and well and safe, back with him where she should have been from the very start.
 
“You are sure about this Miss Evans?” asked McGonagall, frowning at the prefect over her glasses. At her students nod, she exclaimed, “Well why on earth did you not inform us sooner? Since when has she been missing?”
 
Sirius, suddenly coming to himself and realising that they had arrived in their Head of House’s office, spoke up.
 
“About a day and a half.”
 
“A day and a - ” McGonagall spluttered, and turned immediately to grab some floo powder and throw her head into the fireplace.
 
“Professor Dumbledore, we have a student missing.”





 
Hogwarts had not experienced such a sombre, anxious atmosphere in over three decades. Students had always felt safe and secure within the castle, feeling protected by their friends, teachers and the strong, impregnable walls that surrounded them in their second home. Realising that one of their own had been snatched away, therefore, caused a flutter of panic that stole into the hearts of the bravest of souls.

Amelie had always been a force to be reckoned with. If she had been snatched away without a trace, what hope was there for other, more timid students with less experience?

Rumours were abound as to what had occurred, giving birth to a deadly mist of confusion and suspicion that obscured the vision of students and teachers alike. The closest of ties were hanging by mere threads.

“You saw her last, Sirius!” shouted an irate Callum as he barged in through the portrait hole. There had been a loud announcement castle-wide for all students to head to their common rooms immediately and await further instructions. Callum had clearly heard why such a strange announcement had been given. “You were with her! What did you do to her, huh?”

Sirius got up with a start, furious. “Me?! Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Yes, you! Who else?”

“I haven’t touched her!”

Callum broke out into derisive laughter, and was about to open his mouth with a scathing retort when Alice, distraught at the scene before her, jumped in.

“This is not the time to be fighting!” cried Alice, standing up from her position on the rug by the fire. “Amy wouldn’t want-”

 Sirius let out a mirthless laugh. “Since when have you become an expert on what Amy wants?”

“That’s right,” snarled Callum, walking up to block Alice from Sirius’ view. “We all know Sirius here’s had a fucking monopoly on Amy since forever. No one else can care about her – we’re not allowed. So why the fuck don’t you know where she is? Had enough of her, eh? Thrown her aside now that you’re done?”

Sirius tossed his wand aside and let his fists loose. He’d been itching for a fight since last night. Fuck reining it in – this didn’t feel like holding back.

He barrelled into his friend, punching and hitting and kicking wherever he could, and getting bruised and battered just as much in return. He could hear yells and screams in the background but didn’t quite give a fuck about the others. All that mattered was that he keep punching, keep breathing, keep going.

How dare Callum talk like that about him and Amy? What the fuck did he know? The prick hadn’t even realised Amy was missing until a few minutes ago. Daft shit.

Sirius received a sharp kick to his gut, and was just about to retaliate with a right hook when he suddenly froze stiff, unable to move. It was only once he fell uncomfortably onto an equally frozen Callum that he realised that his so-called friends had body-binded them both. He couldn’t even wrench his jaw open to swear at them. The indignity made him want to weep with frustration.

Hands gripped his frozen body and turned him over, and he found himself staring straight into the sad eyes of James Potter.

If he could have sighed, he would have.

"What are you doing, Padfoot?” whispered James, shaking his head in sorrow. “Come on; let’s get you out of here.”
 
Not bothering to let the curse off, James levitated his friend’s frozen body to the boys’ staircase, away from the tense atmosphere of the common room.
 
James silenced the room, locked the door and stood in front of it before he turned around and unbound Sirius. Immediately the boy turned into a ferocious black dog, and began to run rampant through the room, knocking over everything and tearing into anything he could find. Five minutes later, the room looked like it had been hit by a tornado, and the dog sat, puffing with fatigue.
 
Seconds later, the boy was in his place.
 
“I don’t know what to do, Prongs,” he whispered. “I just don’t know what to do.”
 
Callum’s words had only been so hurtful because they’d been true. Where the fuck had he been? Why wasn’t he there with her? Had he not been enough? The thought was like a dagger into his heart.

Why had he not been enough?

Sirius remembered all the times they’d had together, as children hurling insults, as adolescents trying to find out who they were, as teenagers who’d come together looking for something special…

Sirius froze, as if he’d been immobilised once more by the very thought. How the fuck could he have been so dense?

“James,” he whispered.

“You okay, Padfoot?” replied his friend, equally silent.

“James,” repeated Sirius, voice shaky. He looked up from his position on the floor and straight at the only person in the world who he knew he could unwaveringly trust with his life. “James I need your cloak. I think I know where she is.”
  







[A/N]: Even I’m disgusted by the amount of time it took to get this chapter out. In all honesty, I was inches away from deleting my HPFF account, but it was you guys’ reviews that stopped me. The fact that I’m still getting any is astounding, and I want to thank you all for all the encouragement that’s kept me going. To be honest I’m not sure about my writing anymore, what with the little time I’ve had to practice it, but I do hope you enjoyed the chapter (well, as far as a chapter that is so morbid and full of gore can be enjoyed :P). After a long period where I had no idea where to start, I sat and got most of it written in the past 24 hours. Almost the end now, only one more to go. You’ve been incredible. x


Chapter 25: Bites and Burns
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 “These violent delights have violent ends” – Shakespeare

Every single corridor throughout Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was teeming with professors and official-looking strangers, all set on scouring every inch of the castle for clues, lingering traces of magic that would lead them to the whereabouts of one Amelie Avery, who was understood now to be missing. Promptly after the altercation in the common room, Callum had spun around and alerted Professor McGonagall, who had in turn informed the headmaster and the school board. Within a few short hours, efficient-looking ministry personnel in pristine cloaks had swooped in on the scene, causing all sorts of rumours to fly amongst the students who had been put under strict rules to stay in their respective common rooms until further notice. 

Rumours of a kidnapping had swept through the entire school and chilled its inhabitants to the bone, daring the children to believe that their safe haven had indeed been infiltrated by outsiders.

“They must have Apparated or something,” whispered a young boy with mousy-brown hair, his eyes wide with fright, as if a strange man would swoop down on him at any moment.

He was not the only one with such fears. All around, groups of friends were huddled together in a tight-knit; almost as if afraid that they would be pounced on and murdered the instant they separated.

Not all students, however, readily accepted this theory. Debates raged, even amongst friends.

“That’s impossible, Mitch,” scoffed a stocky-looking girl to his left. “No one can Apparate or Disapparate in Hogwarts. Anyway, I heard that she hasn’t been kidnapped at all. Apparently Avery’s been acting all kinds of strange for a while now, and it’s no secret that she comes from a rather dark family. The sixth years were saying how it was only a matter of time.”

"A matter of…”

Mitch looked confused, but his friend seemed more than willing to fill him in.

 

“The Avery’s are a very well-known pureblood family. Her Mum comes from the Lestrange lot – they’re no angels, either. Bad blood, you know. I always thought her being sorted into Gryffindor was a fluke.”


“But the Sorting Hat doesn’t make mistakes!”

“Nothing’s fool proof,” sniffed the girl. “Besides, I bet a bit of dark magic could confuse it, no problem.”

A beat of silence, broken by the raised eyebrow and question from a blonde-haired classmate. “That’s some heavy accusation, anything to back it with, Jo?” 

“Plenty. She’s one of the most gifted in her entire year, she’s an utter bitch to everyone she meets, she’s been known to get violent  - actually I think she’s attacked students twice this year and they were both people she knew quite well. If that’s how she treats her nearest and dearest, I dread to think what she’d do to people she doesn’t get on with.”

"She lent me her quill once in the common room; nothing seemed off about her then.”

 

“Only you would judge a person after exchanging two words, Sean,” sneered Jo, her blonde ponytail swishing as her head shook in disdain. “What was she meant to do? Curse her quill? She probably only gave it to you to stop your whinging. Mark my words, there’s something not right about this whole situation. I’ll bet you anything dark magic’s been used, and Avery’s right in the thick of things.”

 

 




Amelie blinked open her eyes and returned to the land of forever pain.

Her vision swam, her eyes unable to stay open for long because of a sticky sensation she felt on her left eyeball whenever she did. So she closed them again, her ears prickling at the sound of her own rattled breaths. It hurt to inhale. Worse to exhale.

Once upon a time she’d heard that the brain often takes pity on those in severe pain, shutting down and not allowing the sufferer to feel the physical trauma they were going through. An out of body experience. At the time, she had thought being trapped outside your own body sounded horrific. Now, she wished for it. What she wouldn’t do to end this pain.

It was the incapability to do anything that was the worst. Her wand was nowhere to be seen, though at this point even if she had it in her hands she doubted she would have been able to summon the energy to even let red sparks fly, let alone make any headway towards self-recovery.

Funny, how all the suffering at the hands of her step-father never prepared her for this.

Burning, her hand clasped on the cold metal of her locket, feeling the intricate carvings. Familiar details and patterns of a long forgotten age. Daddy always gave her comfort.

Her breathing was more laboured now. She couldn’t see but she could feel the sticky pool around her head reaching to her shoulders and upper arms.

If only Sirius was here, he could fix her. He could do anything.

In her head, she smiled. Thank god her thoughts were private. She’d never be able to live it down.

How smug his grin would be if he knew she loved him.

As she faded into oblivion, the rueful smile remained on her lips; the last vestige of anything resembling her personality on her mutilated body.

Seconds later, the door to the Room of Requirement flew open.



Remus and Peter were sitting by the fire, talking in hushed whispers. The hour was growing late and, given that the Gryffindor tower didn’t hold many attractions, many had already decided to call it a day. Oh, to be able to do the same. Sleep was not going to come knocking on their door tonight.

Callum, lucky sod, had fallen asleep on an armchair across the room, loud snores echoing out of his open mouth, disturbing the otherwise silent atmosphere of the common room. A few of the younger students were still hanging about, though the yawns that kept escaping them betrayed their fatigue.

“Padfoot gone, then?” Peter asked.

“Yeah, Prongs too. Felt them brush past me with the cloak a while ago.”

Brows furrowed, Peter looked confused. “What? Why didn’t they take us?” he asked, sending a quick glance towards the werewolf. “I could’ve helped out… you know… as Wormtail.”

"Don’t worry about them, they’ll be fine.”

“Guess so,” shrugged Peter. Still, he couldn’t help but worry.

Peter and Remus twitched as they heard some light sounds from the girl’s staircase. Sure enough, Dorcas appeared in her bleary glory only seconds later, wrapped snugly in her dressing gown and warm slippers. Scottish springtime could still bite at your skin. 

“Hey you two,” she mumbled as she saw the boys. Her gait was rather ungraceful; somnolence seemed to seep out from her very pores. “I thought everyone would be asleep by now. What’s been happening? Any news on Amy?”

Remus didn’t think it was appropriate to discuss his two best friends’ sudden departure, particularly when he didn’t know much of the details himself. A nagging feeling grew at the pit of his stomach. He was worried. He’d been worried a lot this year. Somehow, it made him feel even older than he felt already. He wasn’t supposed to age this quickly.

“Hi, Dorcas. Come sit with us a bit. Peter got some butterbeer from the kitchens earlier.” He was forcefully cheerful, though if the girl noticed this she didn’t mention it.

“At this time?” she yawned. 

“What’s wrong with this time?” asked Peter, rather nervously. They were all on edge. “The night’s still young, as they say.”

Dorcas frowned blearily, looking at the boys with muddled curiosity. “Are you ok?”

Remus intervened, earning a gracious look from his friend. “Sit down Dorcas, have a drink. It’s lonely. It’s a weekend night. Just sit.”

Frown still fixed firmly in place, Dorcas sat down on the rug. The sinking feeling that had been firmly wedged in her stomach since she’d heard about Amy’s disappearance had evolved tenfold. It had settled on her heart like a heavy weight, and she couldn’t seem to shake it off.  

There was a pregnant pause that was only interrupted when Callum as he gave a loud, startled snort from his armchair position. Dorcas was shrugged out of her reverie, and made to sit next to the boys on the hearth rug.

“It’s been three days now,” Peter said as he budged up to make some space.

Remus handed Dorcas a butterbeer, which she promptly downed all in one go. 



Never had the invisibility cloak been more of an impediment for Sirius. He wanted to tear through the castle as fast as he possibly could - to hell with the thud of his feet on the cold slabs of stone, to the professor’s scorn when they saw him flagrantly breaking rules once more. His gut feeling was tearing at his insides, demanding to know, to understand, to see. And creeping around between Professors, Aurors and members of the Magical Law Enforcement team under the cover of a borrowed invisibility cloak, accompanied by two people who insisted on coming with was not helping in the least.

“Where are we going?” whispered Lily, who was taking up the rear, plastered to James’ back under the cloak.

James, the idiot, had point-blank refused to let Sirius go on his own, adamant that his presence would be needed whether they found her or not. Desperate in his bid to leave, Sirius had agreed. Neither of them had expected, however, to bump into Lily on their way out. Scared that she would give away their position, James had grabbed her around the waist and pulled her under the cloak before he had a chance to think. And now Sirius was stuck with two tag-along’s and a very erratic heart rate. Were they too late?

 

“Shut up and keep up,” he snapped, walking as briskly as he possibly could, given the situation. James, similar to him in height, could deal with his strides easy enough, but Lily’s shorter legs were making things difficult. Sirius didn’t care enough to slow down; time was of the essence.

 

Teeming with Professors and high-profile wizards, the route was infinitely harder than usual to navigate. Sweat beaded on his upper lip and threatened to spill on the ground during a particularly tense moment where they were inches away from an Auror speaking to a woman who was undoubtedly Amy’s mother. Sirius ached to give the lady a swift kick to the rear, but was more than aware of the distance they still had to go.

 

The journey to the Room of Requirement felt considerably larger than always, and how Sirius ached to wind back time, and have this moment be the one where he and Amelie were drunkenly stumbling into the room together and making love beneath the bows of their tree, literally telling the members of that stuffy world into which they had unfortunately been born, to fuck off. Not having her living, breathing, writhing in his arms was killing him; it was always during those moments where they struggled against each other where they were most alive.

 

In the back of his mind, he could hear Lily and James whispering furiously, a hum of baritone and contralto battling it out against each other to the beat of their muffled steps.

 

Yet as they climbed the last flight of stairs to the corridor, Sirius felt his lungs growing tighter, his legs begin to shake, and all noise but the rush of blood in between his ears fade slowly away as he began to walk past where he knew the door of the mysterious room should be. Where he knew she should be.

 

Once.

 

Twice.

 

Three times.

 

The door appeared, as he knew it would, standing unassuming between the great slabs of stone as if it had always been there. As if nothing had happened, nothing had changed since the last he had seen it. It mocked him, providing comfort without proof, without substantiating its claims. True comfort would only be received inside that godforsaken door and now that he was there, Sirius wasn’t sure if he wanted to go in or not.  

 



 

Lily ran to catch up with the boys, utterly bewildered and confused.


Moments earlier she had been at the Fat Lady’s portrait, having been escorted there by some surly, balding old man from Magical Law Enforcement who clearly thought he had more important things to do than be at Hogwarts. His gruff demeanour had made her swallow her questions – countless though they were. Like why were there so many people patrolling the halls in the first place? And why was he being escorted to the common room? She’d been cursed, yes, and she was a bit sore still, but she wasn’t an invalid. She could walk.

And then, once she’d made it to the portrait hole, she’d barely shot a sarcastic “Thank you very much, Sir!” at his retreating back before it swung open of its own accord to let out… no-one?

Or so she’d thought, before she’d been hit by something very solid and very invisible. A hand shot out from nowhere, held her around her mouth and tugged her forwards into James Potter’s chest, not allowing her the opportunity to even gasp in surprise.

“Keep quiet,” he’d murmured, deadly serious.

The sudden assault of his eyes had shocked her immobile and unthinking. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that she’d realised that Sirius was with them, impatience and desperation written all over his features.

“What on earth’s going on?” she blurted, holding onto James’ hand like a life-line. They were walking so fast.

“Shhhh,” he whispered.

“Where are we going?”

“Shut up and keep up!” snapped Sirius, as they came across a corridor with three adults.

Terrified, Lily sent a wordless silencing charm at their feet, and, for the second time that night, held in her questions for a while. They didn’t need to get caught. Her answers could wait a while; for now she had to focus on ignoring the pain in her left leg and try to keep up with the boys on a mission.

After a while James seemed to notice her struggle.

“Is your leg okay?”

“I’m fine.” It wasn’t that bad, she told herself. Just twinging.

“Let me help.”

“I’m okay, let’s keep going.” She really didn’t want to think about it.

But then they came to an abrupt stop in front of a blank stretch of wall. Lily frowned, trying not to think of how anti-climactic this situation felt. Adrenalin was still thrumming in her veins. Surely Sirius could have paced a corridor closer to the tower?

Suddenly, a door appeared out of nowhere. Lily tried to hold back a gasp.

“What the-”




Right, thought Sirius. I’m acting like a fucking pansy.

 

If Amelie ever heard that he’d floundered around outside a door he knew she was in, he would never be able to live it down. With that in mind, he bounded inside, ignoring the two people he was with as he shouted out to the room.

 

“Amy!” he yelled “Amy, where are you?”


All Sirius wanted was to see her again. The Room was fully capable of fulfilling that need.

The thousands of rows of shelves and misplaced objects disappeared in a flash, in its place leaving a small square room with whitewashed walls, and a stone floor that was covered in blood seeping out from a mangled body. Sirius looked at the lifeless, mutilated corpse of his companion, friend, and lover for a full second before he turned around and was sick in the corner of the room.

Distressed cries and howls of anguish echoed off the walls, but he couldn’t be sure which beleaguered soul they belonged to. Had the wretch see what he had seen? Did it claw and scrape at their hearts in the same way? Did they physically ache to see what had become of something, someone, that had burnt so violently bright?

Let it burn again. Please, let it burn again. Just once.

Ice bit at his lungs and mind, dropping him into uncontrollable shivers and cries. When did it get so cold?

Hands were gripping at his side and pulling him but he couldn’t move away. Was this morbidity? Or maybe just self-flagellation? Guilt had settled over his heart like a heavy shadow, suffocating him.

Before he could think further, darkness crept over his eyes and body, a whisper spoke into his ear, and blissful slumber forcefully took him into her arms.
 



[A/N] Oh, the melodrama! Epilogue left to go. I know I said this would be the last chapter, but it didn't seem to work out that way. Anyhow, should be all done very very soon, I hope. Thank you very much to all my readers who are still with me, if anyone still is. I love you. 

 


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