“Serena!” called a voice that I continued to ignore. Probably just another one of the annoying Slytherin girls come to bug the heck out of me again. “SERENA!”
I turned around, huffing. “WHAT?” I paused, looking at the person’s face. “Oh, Remus… Hello.” I blushed, looking down in my embarrassment.
“You’re hard to find outside of the Great Hall and the library, you know that?” Remus commented, smiling warmly at me.
“Oh, sorry…” I apologized, not knowing what else to do.
“Don’t be,” Remus said waving a hand at me. “Are you going to continue in Potions?” I nodded. “Great. I hear Slughorn’s going to have a test on the first day to see what we remember. Want to go study?”
“Sure,” I agreed and followed him in what I thought was the direction of the library. “So how exactly did you hear this?”
“Prefect,” he said pointing to the shiny badge on his shirt.
“Oh! Congratulations!” I said happily, grinning at him.
“Thanks,” Remus said smiling back at me and then looking off down the corridor. “It’s actually a surprise to me. I didn’t think I’d get to be a Prefect because James, Sirius, and Peter are always misbehaving.”
“It doesn’t surprise me,” I commented shrugging my shoulders lazily. “You’re so well-behaved and kept-together. Dumbledore probably thought making you a Prefect would help keep your friends in line.”
“Maybe,” Remus shrugged as well.
I looked up to see we were standing in front of the Gryffindor common room’s portrait hole. I looked over at Remus, shocked. “We’re studying in the common room?”
“Yeah, why not?” Remus asked, raising an eyebrow in a confused notion. “We can always go back to the library if that would make you feel better.”
“N-No, no,” I stuttered in a rushed manner. “It’s alright.” I turned to the portrait hole, saying the password and going to climb through. I felt a hand on my wrist and turned back to face Remus.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked sounding concerned.
“I said it’s fine,” I repeated and he let go, allowing me to enter the red and gold room we knew as home.
We sat down on the couch, relieved that no one else was in the common room at the moment. Most people were outside on the grounds or up in their dorms enjoying the first day back. I took out some of the books I had just gotten from the library and Remus passed me a notebook.
“What’s this?” I asked him, confused, opening it and beginning to flip through the pages.
“My notes from last year,” he told him, peering closely at one of the books I had brought.
Something caught my eye and I turned the page sideways, looking at a little doodle that was moving around on the sheet of parchment. It was a picture of James, Sirius, and Severus. James had thrown a bludger at him, hitting poor Severus in the head and then Sirius conjured up something that resembled a bonsai tree, whacking him over the head with it. Poor little doodle Severus fell to the ground with blood coming out of his head wound, Xs for eyes. James and Sirius merely did a high-five and walked away laughing.
“Remus,” I muttered looking at the grotesque picture in disgust. “Please tell me you didn’t draw this?” I showed him the page, pointing at the doodle as it started up again.
“Oh Merlin, no!” he said quickly, putting a hand to his chest, looking insulted. “That particular one was compliments of the ever-so-lovely Sirius. James and Sirius took a liking to making ‘humorous’ drawings in my notebook during class when I wasn’t talking notes. Or well… while I was taking notes. They’d use whatever part of the paper they could get their hands on.”
“Oh, okay,” I sighed out of relief. I really didn’t want to believe that Remus was that bad of a person like his obnoxious friends.
After a while of studying I took out a fresh piece of parchment to write back my folks.
I really don’t think any of my friends would ditch out on their families to come to our house for the holidays, sorry. Maybe next year?
As for dad, he sent me a letter and asked me to send it with you since he only had one owl with him. He’s fine (letter enclosed).
As for coming to that Christian school, sorry, but I really do love Hogwarts! I don’t know how many years it will take until you figure out that I have no intention of leaving or transferring, but I’ll keep letting you know as long as you keep asking.
Oh, yeah, and the results of my O.W.L.s came this morning! Only good grades, I promise, Mum. I think I’m going to continue Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Transfiguration, and Care of Magical Creatures. I’m dropping Astronomy, Herbology, History of Magic, and Divination. What do you think about that? I do value your opinion, though it may not always seem like I do.
Keep in touch like always,
Your darling Serena
“What’s that?” Remus asked me once I had finished scribbling on my parchment, looking into the fire.
“Oh, just a letter to my mum,” I replied blushing slightly. It seemed so childish to say it out loud, like I couldn’t manage at school without talking to her every second or something.
“Oh cool,” he said smiling warmly at me again. “I still need to write back to my parents for the care package my mum sent me this morning.”
I was glad that he didn’t show any will to make fun of me, but I was also shocked that he had said something about his own mother. Mulling it over in my head, however, I suppose it wasn’t really all that shocking. He did seem to be the person that was kind and open with everyone. Unlike some other people…
Oh, speak of the devil. Or well… devils in this case.
“Remus, mate!” called the soothingly annoying voice of James. He and his band of idiots had entered into the common room much to my demise.
I looked away, trying to pretend that I wasn’t there studying with Remus to save him from the embarrassment of being seen with me. Maybe the ol’ if-I-can’t-see-you-then-you-can’t-see-me tactic would work.
“Serena!” Sirius’s lips curled into a pleasant smirk as he rushed over and sat down in between me and Remus.
Or maybe not…
“Black.” I muttered—still looking away from him. Maybe if I pretended he didn’t exist then he wouldn’t be interested in annoying me any further. Muggles were always talking about that tactic with bullies.
I had no such luck, however, and Sirius replied to my acknowledgement by peering over my shoulder at the envelope in my hands. He stared for a second before snatching it out of my hands and turning it upside-down. “What’s this?”
I grabbed it back from him, shooting daggers at him with my eyes. “Merlin! Can’t you ever just mind your own business?”
Sirius looked flabbergasted at what I had said and with the force I had said it with, but he quickly regained his normal pompous composure. “What crawled up your arse and died, Colton?” he demanded, glaring back at me.
”Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, pretending to look hurt. “Are you talking to me? Or are you still gazing deeply into that mirror you keep in your cloak?” I shot him another glare, stuffing the envelope into my pocket.
“Wow,” Sirius mocked. “I don’t recall you being such an arse in the past? But then again, I don’t really remember you much at all, half-blood.”
Narrowing my eyes at him, I decided it would just be better not to answer his taunts. Yeah, I was perfectly aware that I was a total wallflower, thanks for pointing it out. I gathered my things, throwing them into my bag with as much dignity as I could muster with my blood boiling at a million degrees Celsius.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Sirius barked at me as I walked out of the common room and through the portrait hole.
I sat hunched over in the corner of the library with my forehead smashed into my knees, my arms wrapped around my legs. Shoulders shaking with my sobs, I didn’t know how I would ever be able to calm down.
Why did he bug me so much? I didn’t know, but then again I didn’t really care. All I cared about at that moment was getting as much air into my lungs as possible without choking on it.
You’re not as strong as you’d like to think, are you? I thought to myself, taking another choking breath. How is it that you’ve gone through twelve full moons a year and yet one dumb arrogant boy comes along and can ruin your life all in one evening? And half-blood isn’t much of an insult, you know that. Just don’t listen to him!
Running my fingers through my hair, I took a look at my surroundings. Books, books, oh glorious books. Why can’t all people be like you? So quiet…so accepting…
Remus took one look at Sirius before standing up and collecting his books as well.
“I can’t believe you just did that, mate.” Sirius’s head snapped up, surprised. “What?” Remus asked. “You didn’t think I was going to say anything? You thought I was going to stand by you always no matter what stupid situations you got yourself into?”
Sirius continued to stare at him, slowly opening his mouth as if to say something. Thinking it over for a moment, he shut his mouth again and let Remus continue.
“Listen, Sirius. You’ll always be my mate, but you can’t keep expecting me to cover your arse when you go around making girls cry.”
Sirius slumped back in the couch, closing his eyes and crossing his arms over his chest. “She’ll be fine.”
James leaned forward from the chair next to the couch, propping his elbows on his knees. “Mate.”
Sirius opened his eyes, slowly looking from Sirius to James and back again. “Wait, you can’t be serious?”
“No,” James said. “But you are.”
Sirius narrowed his eyes at James. Oh, if looks could kill… “Not funny.”
“Doesn’t matter,” James replied, shaking his head.
“Merlin, mate!” Remus cried. “For once in your life would you please think about someone other than yourself? Do you go around taking candy from babies and mugging old ladies as well? Put yourself in her shoes. She’s obviously stayed quiet around people all of these years for a reason! Have you ever stopped to think why?”
Sirius contemplated what he had said, but merely replied in the negative.
“Well maybe you should start thinking about it.” Remus stood up, taking his books with him and walked up the staircase to the dormitories.
Looking toward James, Sirius nodded at the stairs. “What’s his deal?”
James chuckled, shaking his head at his friend and standing up. He stuck his hands in his pockets and shrugged. “I think this is one situation you’re going to have to deal with on your own. I’m not much of a lexicon when it comes to these kinds of situations, but I think Remus is right on this one, mate.”
“Oh you have got to be kidding me,” Sirius added, baffled, mouth gaping open. “You actually want me to apologize? She started it!”
James looked back at him with an accusatory stare. Sirius stared back, and after a moment took a deep, angry sigh. “Fine.”
Fifteen minutes later I sat, composed, on the stairwell up to the Astronomy Tower with yet another werewolf novel in my hands and a look of concentration plastered onto my face. Although I had never quite taken a liking to a subject whose class met at 1 am in the morning, ever since my first year I had found this particular spot as therapeutic. It was far away from any part of the building that was used regularly, and—more importantly—Astronomy had been Tyler’s favorite subject and the first day of school my first year he had showed me this spot. Seven steps up from the ground. Always seven, because that was Tyler’s favorite number.
“Serena?” a gruff and somewhat out of breath voice asked tentatively.
I glanced up, my concentration completely shattered now that I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. Looking Sirius over I couldn’t help to note a certain change in his composure. He seemed nervous and somehow uneasy standing there at the bottom of the steps with his hair ruffled and his eyes wild with a mix of annoyance and exercise.
“You’re a hard girl to find when you want to be invisible, ya know that Colton?” he pointed out as he put his fists on his boxy hips, trying to catch his breath.
That’s kinda the point… I thought, my eyes trailing down to the pages of the novel I was holding, my attention quickly waning. He could tell.
“Listen,” he piped up, quickly making his way up the stone steps. He plopped down next to me, once again peering over my shoulder. “Werewolves?” Sirius’s brow furrowed with confusion, but his eyes and twitching smile showed an extreme amusement.
Taking this as an attack, I quickly slammed the novel shut, hiding it underneath my clenched fists. “I find them interesting, okay? It’s really none of your business, though.” I stood up, tucking the book in the nook of my arm and making my way down the staircase. “Is there something you needed, Black? Or did you just come here to torment me further?”
Sirius popped up, taking large strides to catch up with me half-way down the corridor. There was no more amusement on his brow anymore, only complete annoyance. Obviously no girl had ever walked away from him before.
“Listen, Serena.” He snapped, grabbing my arm and twisting me back to face him. “I didn’t mean anything by the werewolf thing; I think they’re pretty cool too, for the most part.”
“For the most part…” I muttered, pulling my arm from his grasp and continuing on my way.
Yeah, “for the most part” because they’re terrible and vicious creatures that will tear you apart limb from limb. That’s what you meant to say, right?
Sirius ran his fingers through his hair, a look of sheer frustration spreading across his features like a wild fire. “Would you just hear me out?” he asked softly, still trailing behind me as I stormed off across Hogwarts.
I ignored him, my mind focuses on the thoughts of my curse, his idiocy, and my want to get as far away from him as possible.
I was taken by surprise, momentarily freezing my body in time long enough that I felt a hard yank on my wrist and soon felt the cold chill of stone on my back. Sirius stood towering over me, his fists clenching down on my wrists, pinning me forcefully up against the corridor wall. Struggling against him, I flinched when he clamped down harder, leaving me no option of escape.
In that moment, one of infinite weakness on my part, I couldn’t help but wonder if none of this would be happening if Tyler hadn’t died. If my brother was still alive I wouldn’t have clamped up, I would have made friends (probably), I wouldn’t have suppressed my love of quidditch… I might have even tried out for the house team and maybe, just maybe, I would have made the team and spent my school years literally flying high above the rest on the clouds of euphoria and adrenaline. And—I didn’t really dare to think it, but in the state of full disclosure—maybe I wouldn’t have been bit by the grey wolf and I wouldn’t have been reduced to a state of eternal damnation; a being not deserving any love or pity of its state or nature.
But, of course, that wasn’t the case.
“Listen!” he barked, anger misting over his handsome eyes. “Why is it that girls like you can’t ever listen? I’m only trying to—“
“Girls like me?” I shouted back, my blood temperature rising drastically. “You don’t know me, Black! You don’t know what ‘girls like me’ are!” I had slowly been inching closer and closer to him out of my anger, so I now pulled back, resting my head against the icy wall. “You don’t know anything about me.”
“I’m trying to figure you out!” he yelled in response, frustration spreading so far in his body that his hands now shook with it.
I looked at him, the corners of my eyes pooling with scared tears. I had never seen Sirius in such an angry and vulnerable state, and I realized this had been one of the reasons I started to shy away from people in the first place.
I thought back to Tyler and his girlfriend Charlotte. Nothing good could come from interaction and the formation of bonds with others. Nothing but pain and mental agony.
Whether from sheer shock or not I didn’t know, but Sirius’s grip loosened enough for me to slip away. I picked up my book which had clamored to the ground some time during the commotion. Starting to turn and glance back at him, I decided against it, not sure what I was going to encounter.
I bit my lip, but continued down the corridor away from Sirius. My heart ached with each step I took, but I was just so bloody mad at him that I was glad he didn’t follow me anymore.
“Jerk…” I muttered.
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