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-”
“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.
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?
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.
“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!”
“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?”
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!”
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.”
“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.
“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!
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