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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,


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!

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