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Chapter 7: Reluctant;


Reluctant- struggling in opposition; unwilling, disinclined.


My eyelids fluttered open and my body raced with the happy, childish exhilaration, and anticipation. Today is January 27th. Today I am seventeen. Today is my birthday, but not just any birthday, today I am of age.

This is absolute brilliance.

I got up, and, I did what any normal girl would do.

I jumped up and down on my bed, singing Happy Birthday at the top of my lungs.

“Shut up,” Solana said loudly, as she sat up and hurled a pillow at me. But I was grinning and so happy that nothing was bothering me. Nathan, my older brother, was coming to see me in Hogsmeade; I had the day to clear my head and everything, it was going to be perfect.

I looked over, and noticed Narcissa’s bed was empty.

Shrugging, I hurried to get ready, Nathan didn’t have the entire day and I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible, I didn’t get to see him often and he is probably my best friend in the entire world.

Grinning as I thought about how much he may have changed, about what news he will bring, about what present, I had almost forgotten how all of my friends had also been looking forward to meeting him. He is three years older then me, and he is amazing. Have I mentioned I love my brother? Cause I do.

I sat down at breakfast, a stupid smile still plastered on my face.

“Happy Birthday Ashlynn!” they all called as I sat down, causing other people to turn around and wish me a happy birthday as well.

“Thank you guys!” I said, giggling as Regulus pulled out a neatly wrapped present from his lap.

“We all pitched in for it,” he said, smiling at me as I took it from him.

Softly, I shook it and held it up to my ear.

“It sounds like a…goblin made pair of diamond earrings with…a matching bracelet, and some beautiful Melania Meteorite shoes,” I said, causing them to laugh as I opened it up.

“Ooh!” I squealed happily as I unfolded the thin tissue paper to see a beautiful dress, black with a small lavender lace trim towards the bottom.

“I love it!” I said, grinning, “thank you guys.”

“This,” Narcissa said, pulling out another box, “is the earrings, bracelet, and shoes,” she said, grinning.

I tore it open and eagerly and she was right.

I hugged the three people, and then carefully rewrapped everything and set it in the empty seat next to me.

“Nathan wants to meet at eleven thirty,” I said, smiling, “are you guys coming?”

“We’ll all meet up for drinks at 12:45, okay?” Narcissa said, “you get some alone time with him, he came for you, after all.”

I looked over at her and smiled.

“We’re good, right Cissa?”

“We’re good,” she said, nodding and grinning.

This was odd, for she had not been too keen on me the day previously, but I decided not to question the perfection this day was so far.

“Mail’s here,” Evan commented.

A huge ebony owl, carrying a large parcel, soared and landed in front of me, and it was soon followed by two other identical owls.

“AH! And now my parents and yours all send me presents,” I said, rubbing my hands together with anticipation.

“Ooh, this one is from my mum,” Narcissa said, as she read the card, and handed me a box wrapped with green paper.

I opened it to see some sweets, a small homemade cake, and a beautiful necklace with a small emerald, which had a glittering ‘S’ carved on it.

“She says the necklace was hers when she was at school,” Narcissa said.

“Hey wait, Bella got her old ring, you get her necklace, she is saving something for me, right?” Narcissa teased, laughing.

“This one is from Evan’s mom and Regulus’s,” I said, opening the box to find more sweets, cakes, and a small little change purse with a few galleons in it.

“And this is from mine,” I said, smiling as I opened it up.

A thick letter, which I would save for later, was sitting on top, and a lace-edged, creamy white piece of paper sat underneath it.

In swirly, old-fashioned handwriting, it was an invitation to a ball, presenting me to society as an adult, who could be married. A tedious, absolutely ancient practice. Set for the Easter Holidays, which we always end up going home for.

“Well, I can tell you now, I am wearing that dress you guys gave me, not the huge cream puff muffin thing I am going to be expected to wear,” I said, as everyone laughed.

I rifled through the cakes, the candies, to find some cute little mementos from home, and a gorgeous, hand-sewn blanket that had been mine when I was younger.

And then came a new black cloak, silken gloves, a blue cloak, some shoes, and tons of books at the very bottom.

“Someone is really very gifted with Expanding Charms,” Evan said, peering over the top of the normal sized box that actually as large enough to fit a first year inside of it.

“Bella sent you money,” Narcissa said, who was busy opening up all of my cards, “oh and socks.”

“Socks?” I asked, snorting with laughter. Yep, she had sent me hot pink socks with black stripes around the tops.

“Maybe I’ll wear hem with my uniform,” I said, laughing.

“God you get such entertaining presents,” Regulus said, admiring my humongous pile of stuff.

“So do you, do you remember the books your uncle gave you last year? All about how to pick up women?” I asked, as he blushed.

“I need to go finish getting ready and put this away, Cissa; do you want to help me?” I asked as she hopped up and grabbed some stuff.

“Look, are you sure you aren’t pissed at me still?” I asked as soon as we were alone.

“No, I am still a little bothered. What is with you and Evan anyway? You don’t fancy him, I can tell, you still look at Regulus the way you always did. Sure, Evan’s really very sweet and all, but why? I know when I am being deceived, and I have a feeling there’s more to this, that’s all that was bothering me.”

I wanted to let her in on it so bad, but it would make our entire plan void. Useless and pointless.

I didn’t know what to say to her, I didn’t know if I should lie and tell her I really did like Evan…or if I shouldn’t…

“Do you like Evan?” I asked curiously.

“Not really. I mean he is a wonderful guy and all, but – I don’t know, there’s just something about him. Like, he’s too much of my brother, kind of.”

“Do you think you could ever like him?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said finally as we set my gifts down in my trunk and I placed a quick Anti-Theft charm on everything.

“You need to get going,” she said.

“I know, do I look okay?” I asked, tossing my hair out of my eyes in the mirror.

“Yeah, I like the way you did your makeup – now go! You wouldn’t want Nathan thinking he got stood up,” she joked as I grabbed my wand, my purse, slipped on the black cloak and gloves, and headed out.

Excitement was mounting in the pit of my stomach. Corner of High Street and third street, I was to meet him there.

My eyes scanned the crowd once, twice – ah yes, there he is!

He is tall, much taller then me, with straight brown hair that contrasts against my red, but he has the same blue eyes as me.

“ASHIE!” he said merrily as he picked me up and spun me around.

“Happy Birthday, Ash!” he said happily.

“I missed you!” we both said in unison. We laughed, and he set me down.

“You look so much like mum,” he said, shaking his head, “it’s getting quite scary.”

“Is that a compliment?” I asked.

“I think so,” he said as we walked down the street.

“I want to nip into Zonko’s, I haven’t played any pranks on Lucius in a while,” he said, grinning.

“Will you two every like each other?” I asked.

“Probably not,” he said as he examined a nose-biting teacup.

He purchased enough to humiliate Lucius, and then we headed back out onto the freezing street.

“Let’s go to the Shrieking Shack,” he suggested.

“But we’ll freeze!” I exclaimed.

“Will not,” he said, as he led the way.

We sat down on a log, and I turned over to face him. And without further adieu, I spilled out the entire scheme Evan and I had cooked up. I told him everything, about Sirius and James torturing me, about how Severus and I are really close, and about how I think he has some sort of emotional attachment to Evans. I talked to him about lessons, and finally, I mentioned Bellatrix’s letter.

“You don’t think the Dark Lord sounds like our leader?” he asked. It was the first time anyone besides me had spoken in a good twenty minutes.

“I think he sounds like a bully. I don’t think, deep down, he’s out to help anyone besides himself. He isn’t our savior, our messiah; I think he’s more of a…well kind of a fraud. Just a mean guy who wants an excuse to build up an army so he can cause pain to people he finds lesser then him.”

“I don’t,” Nathan said, “I think he is on to something brilliant, and so does everyone back home. He’s already started an army. Death Eaters, he calls us.”

“Us?” I asked. He hasn’t…he didn’t…he couldn’t…wait, could he?

“Yeah,” he said, lifting up his sleeve to reveal an ugly, black tattoo that contrasted with his moderately pale skin.

“You’ve been branded? You’ve joined his army?” I asked, stunned.

“And so have plenty of people. Nott, Lucius, Rudolphus, Rabastan, just to name a few. There are a lot of us, he is picking up support rather quickly, you know. It’s an uprising; it’s going to be a revolution.”

I listened to his words carefully, and thought about them.

“So you joined because you think purebloods should rule? That’s his basic principle,” I said coolly, “I know we are higher, elite then other half-magical people, I think that gives us some superiority, naturally, but…the right to rule over them? They are still people.”

“Yes, but people who should be taught their place at that.”

“But you don’t think he’ll kill them all, do you?” I asked, suddenly afraid. If my brother ends up a murderer, if he ends up in Azkaban for the rest of his life…I think I myself would go insane.

“No, I don’t think he’ll kill…for no reason. I think, if someone gets in his way, someone who deserves what’s coming to them…someone who needs to be silenced, in a way-,”

“Nathan I don’t like how you’re thinking. You are thinking these people no better then cockroaches. Yes, I know we are better, that our blood is purer, more worthy of wealth and happiness, our ancient relatives the very founders of our entire world, but do you really, really think that that gives us right to murder innocent people?”

“But I don’t think he’ll be killing innocent people, Ash.”

“Why? What evidence do you have? What if you end up a murderer yourself?” my voice faltered and almost broke, “what if you end up in Azkaban? Or worse, dead yourself?”

He pulled me close.

“You know muggle-lovers and blood traitors will be building their own armies, their own organized fighters against you. You won’t conquer the world, change it, revolutionize it, without a full on battle. All of these disappearances, unexplained murders, it’s all him, isn’t it?”

He nodded. “It’s him.”

“And you are sure this is what is right for you?” I asked, looking up at him.

“I am sure, Ashlynn.”

“Then I trust your judgment completely,” I said firmly.

“Let’s go grab some drinks or something, eh?” he said, standing up and looping his arms around my shoulders.

“Okay, I’m nearly frozen to death anyway.”

“Oh, I almost forgot,” he said, as he rummaged through his pockets, “I got you this in Manhattan.”

He pulled out a small, velvet box, one you would usually expect to hold jewelry, but I knew Nate as a tad more creative with his gifts.

It was a locket, a beautiful gold locket.

“Open it,” he said, and I pulled the heart pendant open.

A sweet, soft tune began to tinkle. It had been our lullaby! The one mom used to sing to us when we were little. Inscribed on the other side, in dazzling silver writing, it said: Believe. That’s what our mom had always told us, that we could do anything if we believe enough.

It was the sweetest present I had ever gotten.

“Oh Nathan!” I exclaimed, hugging him tightly.

“Thank you! It’s absolutely beautiful,” I said, admiring the necklace. He unclasped it and hung it around my neck for me. My fingers kept running over the smooth, chilly surface of the necklace fondly.

Eventually, we made it into the Three Broomsticks and grabbed a large table, for the others were to meet us soon.

“Hey guys,” I said as Narcissa, Regulus, Evan, Severus, and, unfortunately, Solana all took their seats around us at the table.

I reintroduced everyone, and we got our drinks, which warmed me greatly.

“So what is it that you do for a living?” Evan asked curiously.

“I am working for the British Ministry, as an American correspondent for internal affairs,” he said, “well, that’s what I’m aiming for anyway. Right now I’m just following the guy who has the job back and forth from country to country.”

“That sounds brilliant,” Regulus said.

“Thanks,” Nathan said, smiling. He’s only twenty, he’s been out of school, yes, but he still isn’t high up enough to actually get such a job.

“What do you want to be?” he asked Evan.

“I dunno, I always just wanted to amount to something,” Evan said thoughtfully.

“Well what did you say you wanted in your career consultation?” Nate asked.

“Nothing. I never went,” he said, laughing.

Narcissa was staring at Nathan. Not staring, gazing.

I knew that look.

That dreamy, unfocused, worshipping look.

Oh for Merlin’s sake!

Nathan had noticed, for he was sending her flirty glances too.

NO, NO THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.

The time passed quickly, and pleasantly. Solana, horrid as she is, didn’t really say much, she just clung to Regulus pathetically and made stupid comments occasionally. But other then that, she never said anything rude to me.

“Oh, look, how bloody peachy,” I growled, staring down the marauders as they walked in. Well, two. The two biggest oafs. And their mudblood girlfriends adoringly hanging on to them.

“Those are the people you were talking about?” Nathan asked.

“Oh yeah,” I said viciously, “that’s them.”

“Can I go hex them? Oh please, I have a clear shot at his head,” Nathan said, glaring in their direction.

“Don’t bother,” Severus said, “they aren’t worth it.”

“Your right,” I said, finishing my second drink.

“Did anyone hear about the latest Harpies game?” Nathan asked, abruptly changing the subject.

Three…

Oh, for the love Salazar’s toenails…

Two…

One…

“Oh I did! Wasn’t Miller’s save absolute genius? But if Rosenthal hadn’t hit that bludger at Winston’s head last minute, the Harpies would have won the game,” Narcissa said passionately.

“You think so? Because I think the Tornado’s seeker had the snitch no matter what,” Nathan said.

“Well I don’t, I think Winston definitely would have caught it,” Narcissa argued.

“I think Winston had it too,” Evan said.

Oh no. No, no.


* * *



“Guys, what do you think about Voldemort?” I asked, looking at all of them.

Solana had gone to bed early, so it left us, the people who actually have functioning brains, to have a conversation.

“I think he’s brilliant,” Regulus said.

“You do?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

“Yeah, I mean, he’s got the right idea. He’s got initiative; he’s going to finish what Grindewald started, right? I mean, finally someone who is strong enough to act on their feelings,” Evan said.

“Would any of you join the Death Eaters?” I asked.

To my shock, a unanimous ‘yes’ was my answer, besides Narcissa, who answer had been a horrified ‘no.’

“You realize you’ll all get yourselves killed if you join? It’s madness. You can believe its right without fighting, support it without being foolish enough to get yourselves landed in Azkaban,” she said fiercely.

“But we aren’t going to get killed, don’t you see? The Dark Lord is stronger then that, he’s smarter. He’s a better man then Dumbledore; he’ll no doubt try to get rid of him single-handedly,” Regulus replied.

“But what is there to gain by joining?” I asked.

I had a vision of Narcissa and I watching Nate, Sev, Evan, and Reg all carted off to Azkaban. I shuddered.

“What isn’t there to gain? Honor, recognition, a place where you belong, with likeminded people, united and fighting for what you believe in!” Regulus said, his tone growing stronger and stronger everytime he spoke.

“Maybe so, but is all of that worth your lives? Worth breaking the hearts of those who love you? Those who love you without the honor, the recognition, those who love you for who you are?” I said, my words hanging in the air.

“Do any of you actually plan on joining?” Narcissa asked, breaking the silence.

“I do,” Severus said, “I definitely do. I think it’s a cause that's worthy, something that is right.”

He hadn’t spoken yet, and I was surprised to hear his views.

“I do too,” Evan said, “I think it is worth dying for. I think what you believe in is worth your life.”

“So, this is interesting to know. The four men who I care most about are going to all become murderers,” I said.

“Four?” Narcissa asked.

“Nathan’s already joined,” I said simply.

“Ashlynn, you truly believe the Dark Lord has the wrong idea?” Severus asked. Every face turned towards me as they awaited my answer. I thought about it carefully before opening my mouth.

“No, I don’t,” I said firmly, “but I think he may be going about it wrong, don’t you? These murders, unexplained disappearances, it’s all him. But doesn’t he realize that there are bound to be more people against him then for him, more people who will want to fight to kill him?”

“I think he does, yes. And that’s why he’s going to do it. So when he wins the war, everyone fears him more. He’s gifted you know, at stirring up hate and suspicion, don’t you see? You’ve read about Grindewald, everyone will suspect people of their allegiances, the country will be ravaged by panic and chaos sooner then you think,” Severus said.

“He is going to feed off those emotions then? Use the people’s weakness to control them, to use them?” I said.

“Maybe,” Regulus said.

“Probably,” Evan corrected.

“It obviously means a lot to all of you,” I said, fixing my hair.

“Which is why you’ll join?” Narcissa said; trepidation in her voice.

“No,” I said slowly, “for the time being, I think I am going to let the game play out, see what happens you know? I’m of age, I can join, but I don’t think I am up for it currently.”

“But you are actually considering?” Narcissa asked, shocked.

“Not considering joining, considering whole heartedly supporting, though. I want to see what this man is made of.”

“You want to see what’s in it for you,” Severus said shrewdly.

“Partly,” I admitted.

“I admit, it’s a smart way to go about things,” Regulus said, slowly agreeing.

“I don’t know,” I said, shaking my head, “the entire concept of a takeover seems a bit far-fetched though, right?”

“But possible,” Severus said.

Are we really going to be soldiers though? Pawns in this game, the Dark Lord can move us; help us to win, without ever doing anything himself?

Are they pledging this blindly?

One by one, everyone started going to bed.

“Well, good night Ash. Happy Birthday,” Regulus said, kissing my cheek before leaving for bed as well.

That left me and Severus.

I touched the spot that Regulus’s lips just had lightly. It still tingled and felt warm.

“I know I haven’t gotten you anything for your birthday,” Severus said suddenly, and I looked over. I had almost forgotten he was here.

“But I wanted you to have this,” he added, pulling out a book.

His sixth year potions book.

“Thank you,” I said, grinning. This book meant so much to him, it was his guide to everything, and he had so many notes, hand-written and such. It was a real thoughtful, sweet thing for him to do. I knew he didn’t have much money at all, and the fact that he would give away something like this…

I got up and walked over to him and hugged him, and this time he hugged me back.

I kissed him on the cheek and murmured another thanks before heading upstairs.

Though I had had a brilliant, amazing, perfect day, I still couldn’t sleep that night.


A/N- There you have it, sorry it took a little while. But I have chapters eight and nine done as well, and hopefully I can get a jump start on chapter ten, so the updates can continue. School has commenced and I love it, for those who care about my first couple days of high school. Well. There you go. Hope you liked it. [=

Review, lovelies.


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