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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.”


“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!

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