Song of the day (and one of my all time favorites):
Light 'em up- Fall Out Boy
Chapter XII: Live Coward, Dead Fool
The iron grates of the medieval fire place opened automatically for me as I stepped onto grey marble floor and dusted off the soot from my clothes. Without waiting for a servant to arrive and escort me to wherever it was I was supposed to be escorted to, I took off down the nearest corridor. I ignored the dull hum of whispers from the portraits lining the walls and dashed up the closest staircase I found. I took the wide steps two at a time, gripping the railing tightly and whipping around the corner once I reached the top landing.
Two young looking maid-servants approached me as I crossed the large drawing room. I set my eyes on the door behind them and ignored their worried looks and questions. Throwing open the heavy oak door I stalked down another passageway, arriving quickly at a wrap-around balcony. Clenching my fists I walked past the open, glass double doors and into the crisp wind of the afternoon.
My eyes narrowed as I scanned the open deck, looking past the exotic birds, lush plant life, and ridiculously expensive décor. Once I found my target I walked forwards, setting my jaw.
He was wearing a dark, tailored suit with a blood red tie. His mustache was trimmed to perfection, and his speckled grey hair had been combed and jelled thoroughly. He was talking to someone in a low voice. The companion wore similar apparel, holding a briefcase in his hand tightly. This was most likely a business transaction. My eyes glinted. I hoped my arrival would put a hold on their plans, whatever they were.
As I came closer the men noticed my presence and cleared their throats in synchrony.
“I told you to wait in the foyer.”
I slapped a hand against my forehead dramatically, “Oh that’s right, I’m so sorry.”
The man with the briefcase stepped back awkwardly, “Maybe I should come back later, Roland.”
I turned towards him with a very wide smile, “That would be just lovely.”
Briefcase man hurried away. Once he had exited the deck I turned towards the man I’d been looking for.
“You have a lot of nerve sending for me to come here.”
He sighed, “You should have waited as I asked. I was in the middle of a business deal.”
I rolled my eyes, “Your whole life is a business deal.”
“Don’t be dramatic, Zalia.”
“I’ll be dramatic if I like.” I answered testily.
“You need to show some respect.” He said gruffly.
I scoffed, “Respect for what?”
He pursed his lips and I sneered.
“Don’t try and talk to me about respect…. Dad.”
“Now you listen here-”
I interrupted him, “No. No I will not. Because I listened to you for years and got screwed over for it.”
Dad took a sharp breath and narrowed his eyes at me. I could tell he was putting a lot of effort into not yelling at me.
“I refuse to discuss this with you now. Your mother will be here in a few hours. Then we can all sit down and have a rational” He looked at me pointedly “discussion.”
I crossed my arms tightly over my chest. “Fine. Can’t wait ‘till Mummy comes home.”
With that I turned on heel and stomped through the mansion, to which I had used to refer to as ‘home’. I ended up at my old room, quickly locking the door behind me as I stepped inside.
I ran my fingers through my long, thick hair and pulled it back with a spare hairband on my wrist. Sighing, I strode to the double doors across the room and flung them open, welcoming the cool air onto my face.
I closed my eyes and tried not to wince as everything from the past few days hit me. My mind was about ready to implode with frustration. Not only had I been unceremoniously summoned by my parents, but once I got there I had to wait before I could yell at them. I was livid when professor McGonagall had collected me from the Great Hall and told me about the owl my parents had sent. The very concerned and demanding owl. I’d managed to postpone the trip for a few days and fix in my mind exactly what I wanted to say, but that didn’t make me look forward to the inevitable screaming match that I was in for.
So to say that I had been mentally preparing for this evening would be quite correct. I didn’t just have to hold my own, I had to demolish them.
I rested my elbows on the iron gate lining the edge of my balcony and frowned. I’d have to think up an excuse for Lily and the girls when I got back. See, I hadn’t felt in the chatting mood when I’d left today, so I hadn’t told any of them I was going. They probably had all sorts of crazy ideas as to why I went missing. I wrapped my jacket tighter around me and watched the last of the sun disappear beneath the horizon, leaving a pink and orange tinge hanging in the sky.
There was one good thing about going away for a day. I would get to escape Sirius and Tammy. Or rather ‘Sammy’, as people were now calling them. Honestly, they were disgusting. I had to sit through nearly every meal with the two of them at least groping at each other if not sucking-face unashamedly. And I couldn’t leave because, well, that would mean surrender. The girls and I had always sat in the same spot in the great hall and I absolutely refused to move because some barbie was suddenly all over Sirius. Sometimes, when he could tell that James was about to blow a gasket, Sirius would discreetly get Tammy to move to another table with him. But these were rare occasions unfortunately.
In other news, Mary had taken a liking to a one, Vice Jordan. She was loathe to admit it but we could all tell she was totally into him. They’d walk back from Quidditch practice together, give those awkward hugs and blush. It was so cute I could puke. Then there was Lily, who was starting to melt in the direction of James Potter. Or so I believed. I don’t think she quite fancied him yet, but she was definitely intrigued, and that was progress. Rose was still her quiet self, but I often caught her daydreaming in class, or staring into space with a peaceful smile. This along with the fact that she’d been rather late returning to our dorm at nights, led me to believe that she was hiding something, or someone. Either way I wanted to know what was going on.
And all this, added to the fact that I was now facing my impending doom in the form of my parents, was evidence that I was the most miserable person around. I’d been even more cold-hearted and mean than usual. The only person I was able to have a rational conversation with was Lily, and sometimes I even snapped at her. It annoyed me that everyone else was just sort of going along in life, while I seemed to be stuck in a rut. Sure I went to classes, ate meals, avoided Peeves the Poltergeist like everybody else. But that was just going through the motions. Every little thing seemed to get on my nerves. I was furious with my parents for lying to me about everything. I was still reeling from my intense break-up with Lucius. I hadn’t quite come to terms with the state of the nation (a.k.a the wizarding war). And then there was Sirius. Godric, I hated that boy. He went out of his way to flaunt Tammy at me. Not because he was trying to make me jealous or anything, Merlin no. But because he knew I hated her guts. And she had no problem helping him out with pissing me off twenty-four-seven.
I raked my fingers along the edge of the balcony and scowled as I walked back inside my old room, shutting the double-doors. It was too cold outside now, and too dark. I switched on a nearby lamp and grabbed the closest book I could find, burying my nose in it to try and drown out the irritating thoughts that were pounding in my head.
Soon, I heard a light knock on the door and I got up to open it quickly. Not worried it could be one of my parents. They would never come to fetch me themselves.
I probably scared the maid who had knocked on my door with the nasty expression on my face when I opened it. But I really didn’t care.
“Where are you here to take me to?” I asked her dryly.
She gulped, “The dining room miss Blackwood, If it pleases you.”
“No, it does not.”
“Um, I-I’m so sorry miss--” She squeaked.
I rolled my eyes, “Oh for goodness sake just take me there.”
She put her head down and took off quickly down the corridor. I followed close behind. I would have gone by myself, but I didn’t know which dining room my parents were waiting for me in, since there was more than one. Besides, the maid probably would have freaked if I hadn’t allowed her to do her job.
We arrived outside the entrance to the east dining hall when the maid stopped and gave a curtsy. I nodded to her impatiently and strode inside.
“Ah there you are, ma chérie.”
My lips curled automatically. “Hello Mother.”
My boots clicked along the shining surface of the polished wood floor and I looked around the room distastefully. There was no one in the world who needed so much decoration in a dining room. Three, giant crystal chandeliers were hung from the vast ceiling, twenty feet above. Greco-Roman style statues sat amongst a number of vases and paintings. And random pieces of ‘fine art’ stood on display around the room.
The massive, mahogany dining table was set with an ornate table cloth and fine china, and included embroidered napkins as well as ridiculous amounts of silverware and crystal goblets.
On either end of the table, both in high back, velvet arm chairs, sat my parents. My mother’s eyes gazed over me, taking in my appearance as her hand nervously tapped the table in front of her. Her streaked grey hair was swept back into a bun, and she hadn’t yet changed out of her business pantsuit and high heels.
My father looked the same as he had earlier, blood red tie and all. The only difference now was that he looked more anxious. He gripped the sides of his chair as I walked forward and sat down directly in the middle of them, with at least six chairs on either side of me, separating us.
I crossed my arms and cocked an eyebrow. I was surprisingly calm. I had been over-thinking this moment, and now that it was here I didn’t feel as angry as I thought I would.
“We assumed you already ate before you arrived.”
I noticed that the plates in front of my parents were nearly empty and that a butler had arrived to carry them away. They had already had dinner without me. I nodded sharply.
I hadn’t eaten. But I wasn’t going to tell them that.
“Then shall we take our conversation into the library?” Dad asked.
I stood up in answer and walked straight to the door on the left, knowing it to be the library. My parents followed and walked in just as I had stopped on the other side of the room, my arm resting against a book-shelf.
“How have you been dear? Has Hogwarts reached your expectations?” My mother asked softly.
I sighed, “Yeah it’s been a blast, Mum.”
She gave me a look and I shuffled my feet uncomfortably. I wasn’t interested in making small talk.
“Your mother and I…. are concerned about you.” Dad said.
Here it comes….
I gave a huff as they exchanged a look.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes,” Mum put in, “We’ve gotten some disturbing news.”
“Disturbing news?” I asked innocently; trying to keep the mocking tone out of my voice for as long as possible.
“We got a letter from the Malfoys.” Dad said intently.
I raised my eyebrows, “Did you now?”
“We know that you ended things with the Malfoy boy, and this worries us.”
I almost laughed out loud at the concerned looks on their faces. This was ridiculous. This was what they were angry with me about? What a joke.
“Is it a crime to break up with your boyfriend now?” I asked; my voice teetering just on the edge of sarcasm.
My dad’s face hardened, “Don’t start. Why did you end things? He was a good match for you. Suitable. His family and ours would benefit greatly from the union.”
I pursed my lips, “He was suitable?” I asked quietly, “It would have been a good union?”
They nodded together and I brought a warm smile up to my face, a warning sign that we had reached a dangerous point in the conversation. I always took on a sickly sweet tone before blowing my top.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I knit my eyebrows together in fake concern, and for a moment my parents’ faces looked relieved.
“…. I didn’t know you wanted to be death-eaters.”
My mom gasped and clutched at her chest while my father looked like I’d just slapped him. Satisfied with their reaction I leaned against one hip and slipped on the tiniest, mocking smile.
“What did you say?” Dad asked me, in almost a whisper.
“You heard me.”
His eyes blazed, but it didn’t faze me. I stared right back.
“What-- how-- when--” My mom stuttered and I answered her.
“Since you failed to mention anything about everything to me, I found out on my own.”
“That’s why you broke up with him?!”
I stopped, confused. What other reason was there?
“Of course,” I answered my dad’s outraged tone.
“You KNEW he could protect you and you LEFT HIM?!”
I stared at my father, bewildered. What had he expected? That I’d run into Lucius’ arms and beg him to keep me safe while he killed innocent people?!
“YES!” I yelled.
“You STUPID girl!”
I whirled on my mother. The anger I had been expecting earlier finally bubbled up and I bristled.
“What the hell did you think I was going to do?!” I yelled.
“Don’t raise your voice!” Mum trilled. I scoffed.
“YOU don’t get to tell me what to do!”
“We are your parents!”
I laughed my maniac cackle and they backed up a step as I threw my head back.
“What were you thinking, Snow?!”
I snapped my head to glare at my father. This was not the time to bring up childhood nicknames.
“Don’t you dare call me that.”
He looked hurt for a moment, but I ignored it. “You lied to me for all this time. Did you think I’d thank you for it?!”
My parents exchanged a look before my father answered. “We thought you would understand. It was for your own good.”
I laughed again, “My own GOOD?! Are you kidding me?! Do you know how I felt having to find out at school? Having to realize how stupid and ignorant I had been? Having to understand that every single one of the very few people I’d trusted had been lying to my face?!”
My mother paled, but Dad kept a glare locked on me. “You know we did it for your protection, Snow.”
“I don’t need your protection!” I snapped, “And don’t call me that!”
He threw up his arms, “You have always been like this! It’s exactly why we didn’t tell you!”
I kept my eyes narrowed, “What are you talking about?”
“You!” Dad yelled, “You and your high and mighty attitude! We kept everything away from you so that you could stay safe. We knew that you would take their side if we told you! We knew you’d put yourself in danger!”
I stared from my father to my mother in shock. “You didn’t tell me because you thought that I wouldn’t agree with you?” I asked; my voice barely audible.
My father swallowed uncomfortably.
“We knew you’d make the wrong choice.” Mum said softly, and an almost pitying way.
I willed my face to emit pure anger as I looked at her, my nostrils flared.
“The wrong choice?”
She nodded, as if hoping that I was finally coming around. I couldn’t believe it. They thought they had made the right choice? The right choice? The right choice? They couldn’t possible say that and know what was going on out there. But they did. I knew they did. They were business partners. They knew everything about anything they invested in. And I knew damn well that they knew exactly whose side they’d taken. I was beyond furious. It wasn’t even about the lies anymore. This was worse. My hands were clenched into fists and actually started shaking. I mumbled the words at first, as they flew to my mouth.
“What did you say?” Mum asked.
“GO TO HELL!!!”
Pure shock reflected from my parent’s faces. I didn’t care. I’d crossed a line now that had only ever been tested before. Of everything they had expected. Compromise. Maybe even an apology. They weren’t ready for this.
“HOW DARE YOU!” My mother screamed, matching the volume of my voice.
“How dare I?” I trembled, “How dare I?!”
My father was opening and closing his mouth, still shocked that I had cursed them.
“HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO ME ABOUT MY DECISIONS!” I screamed at them. “HOW DARE YOU CALL ME HERE TO REPRIMAND ME! HOW DARE YOU PRETEND THAT YOU HAVE BEEN REAL PARENTS! HOW DARE YOU TELL ME I WAS WRONG!”
They stood stock still as my chest heaved and I felt angry tears prick my eyes. Mum had tears streaming down her face, while dad was staring at the ground, the skin around his eyes was tight.
“You know NOTHING.” I spat.
I made to leave the room. I was too disgusted with them. I was done. I made it to the doorway before I felt a rough hand grab my arm and pull me back.
“We’re not finished.”
I turned to look into my father’s face. His eyes bored into mine bearing everything that I had felt over the past weeks; anger, confusion, hurt, etc.
I ripped my arm from his grip. “Yes, we are.”
“We are not!” Mum answered firmly.
I paused and looked at them, waiting.
“You don’t understand….” My dad started in a pleading voice.
I laughed dryly but he held up a hand.
“Let me finish. You don’t understand. We thought you would be grateful. We thought that we were protecting you. Not just from the world, but from yourself. From your own decisions. We didn’t want to burden you. Once He-who-must-not-be-named had risen to power, we knew his was the winning side. Though we might not agree with his…. methods. It was the only way to keep you safe. To keep us safe.”
I shook my head at him. They still didn’t get it.
“Just surviving isn’t enough.” I answered, “We don’t deserve to live if we pick the wrong side. If we choose to support him. What’s the point of living, if you hate yourself anyways?”
My parents stared at me. Looking as if they’d never considered this.
“But….” Mum started.
“The difference between us,” I said quietly, “Is that you’re cowards. And I’m not.”
Fresh tears fell from my mother’s eyes. My father lowered his gaze from mine to the ground. Finally. Finally, I’d gotten through. Finally they understood why I was so damn furious.
It was so quiet that I almost didn’t hear it. But I looked up into my father’s face and hardened my gaze.
“You know it’s all wrong. You know how many innocents suffer from something that you support.”
He nodded slowly. I sighed.
“And you know the position that you put me in.”
Again, he nodded.
I looked from him to my sobbing mother and moved towards the door way. I was finished with them. Before I left the room, I paused and looked back.
In a dead tone I muttered; “I’m ashamed of you.”
I left. Slowly wandering the corridors until I arrived at my old room, where I grabbed my wand off the bed and stepped onto the balcony, gasping for breath. I felt suffocated. I couldn’t stay there.
After staring at the wand in my hand for a good two minutes, I gave it a slight flick and closed my eyes, wishing for anywhere.
I knew I was on a beach before I even opened my eyes.
A swirl of fresh, sea-salt air glazed over me and I took a deep breath of it before opening my eyes to look around. I was definitelyon a beach. Which beach? I had no idea. But that didn’t matter. As long as I was far away from anything familiar. In fact, I was rather glad that I had no idea where I was. It would make the forgetting a whole lot easier. I reached down and ripped off my boots and socks, sighing as my feet slid into the cold, squishy sand. I walked along the shore line, staring at the shells and pebbles around my feet, and the seaweed that had been brought in by the tide. There was no one else around. I could see a short pier way down at the other end of the beach, but I was in a small area that seemed cut off from the beach town and deserted, for all intents and purposes. I sat down next to the water and took my hair out of the sloppy ponytail I had put it in earlier. I let my hair whip around me in the salty breeze, and ran soft sand through my fingers.
I closed my eyes and laid back. Not caring if I got sand all over me or not. I knew I had made the right choice. I would have imploded had I stayed at the mansion, or even gone back to Hogwarts. I couldn’t deal with it now. I needed at least a few hours to be at peace with myself and regain my composure. When I went back, there would be so many questions. Questions, questions, questions. That’s all there was now a days. I was either answering them, or asking them. Either way I was sick of it. I needed to relearn the meaning of the word ‘peace’ before I went back to my reality.
I spent a few minutes staring at the night sky. Actually just looking, and not thinking for once. I could almost feel the tension draining, leaking out of my body and being lapped up by the ocean tide. I was happy to give it up. The ocean could have my tension if it wanted it. It could have my anger too, and my hurt. But unfortunately all it took was the tension. Oh well. I suppose I had to go back somewhat normal. I couldn’t suddenly become nice overnight. I was still Zalia Blackwood: A bitch of a fighter, who had trust issues, and wasn’t too keen on her parents at the moment.
I don’t know how long I sat there for. Eventually I scrambled up the sandy bank to get away from the water, and laid down near a palm tree, staring up at the sky, trying to name all the constellations I could see. The clear skies, bright moon, and sounds of the ocean were calming, and at some point or another I fell asleep. Content to know that I was alone, where no one would come and find me.
The next morning I woke early. The sun hadn’t even completely risen yet. My back and neck ached terribly from lying on the ground all night, but I didn’t regret my little excursion. I apparated to Hogsmeade since it was the closest I could get to Hogwarts, and sent a quick owl (courtesy of Rosmerta the barmaid) directly to Dumbledore. His reply was swift and I followed his instructions to hike up to the castle and then to his office; where I quickly told the password, ‘humdinger’, to the gargoyle and entered cautiously.
The headmaster’s office was…. almost exactly how I pictured it. Except maybe for the phoenix. As I’d expected, the room was filled all manner of objects ranging from knick-knacks, to valuables, to just plain weird. There were many, many books and I was surprised to see the sorting hat sitting atop a particularly tall book shelf. I don’t know why, but I’d always assumed the hat had a special room, or compartment to itself, for safe-keeping.
“Ah, looking for Dumbledore I presume.”
I stared at the hat, startled, “You can talk? Even though there’s no sorting going on?”
“Of course I can talk,” It sighed, “This is exactly why you weren’t put in Ravenclaw.”
I huffed, “Excuse me, it was just a question. No need to be rude. You are only an old hat.”
If I didn’t know better I’d say the hat was smirking at me. “I know more than you think, girl. But even with a look inside your soul, you were quite a difficult one to place. You could have done so much, gone down so many different paths.”
I frowned. I liked belonging to Gryffindor. I was rather proud of it actually. And here a manky, old hat was telling me that I could have gone anywhere.
“I belong in Gryffindor.” I said sharply.
“Perhaps,” The hat replied cryptically, “But you are not so straightforward. There is more to you than meets the eye. You bear the qualities of more than one house. It is what you choose that defines you.”
I looked at the hat perplexed, “What on earth are you on about now? I haven’t chosen anything.”
“You may not see it now, but in time. All that I have told you will be clear. You belong in Gryffindor because that is what you admire most about yourself. You wish to amplify those qualities. And you will. In time, you will.”
I shook my head slightly and moved away from the strange object. Ugh. I did not need some sort of prophetic, talking hat to tell me all about my ‘inner soul’ this early in the morning.
I moved around the office, examining random objects and watching the clock tick by, waiting for Dumbledore to arrive. Just as I was getting anxious (and quite hungry for some breakfast) a voice made me jump.
“Here you are my dear. I apologize if I kept you waiting.”
I cleared my throat and turned to face the headmaster, “Not at all.”
His eyes twinkled as he took a seat behind a large, wooden desk and gestured for me to sit in a chair across from him. As I sat and crossed my legs I looked at Professor Dumbledore curiously.
“If you don’t mind me asking sir, why am I here?”
The professor gave me a look somewhere between a smile and reproachful gaze. “I received about five different owls from you distressed parents in regards to your whereabouts ever since you left their home yesterday evening, Miss Blackwood.”
I met his eyes steadily and nodded. I had expected as much, “What did you tell them?”
He sighed, “I told them that you would most certainly contact them when you were feeling up to it, but for now they needed to be appeased with the fact that you were safe and sound.”
I nodded slowly, “And how did you know I was safe?”
His eyes twinkled again and I found myself mesmerized by them. They were…. immortal, sad, and wise.
“I often go to the beach or a lake to find some peace of mind, myself.”
I smiled at him slightly. So he had known where I was. I was mildly disappointed that I hadn’t been as unattainable as I had hoped, but still, this was Dumbledore. It was sort of his job to know everything.
“Your parents have requested to speak with you.”
I looked at the bespectacled man sharply.
“I don’t think so.”
He gave a wry smile and absently stroked his willowy beard. “I have told them it is up to you.”
I nodded curtly. Damn right it was up to me. After all, I was technically of age. They couldn’t force me to do anything. “I’ll not speak with them. At least…. Not now.”
The headmaster nodded like he’d been expecting that answer, “I’ll let them know. However,” He gazed at me intently over the rim of his half-moon spectacles, “I must ask you to remember that no matter what, they are still your family, and to err is human.”
I fidgeted uncomfortably and looked away. Was it possible that Dumbledore was aware of what was going on in my family? There was no way he could know what had been said last night, or about Lucius. And yet…. The look in his eyes made me wonder.
“I know that.” I answered curtly.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. He didn’t seem to care that I was being short with him. “I would suggest that you remain within the school grounds from now on, and refrain from any nighttime adventures Miss Blackwood.”
I gave him a pointed look, “Yes, sir.”
He smiled at me knowingly, which annoyed me. I didn’t like being in a room with someone who seemed to know more about me than me.
“Can I go now?” I asked.
The headmaster flicked his wrist and the door flew open. “Yes….” I got up to leave. “Unless…. There is anything you wish to tell me.”
I turned slowly to find Professor Dumbledore watching me quietly.
“No, sir. Nothing.”
He nodded and I left the room quickly, feeling unsettled, restless and hungry. I really didn’t want to deal with other humans and so decided to have breakfast in the kitchens. It was early, around 6 o’clock, and I had the castle to myself as I wound down to the painting of the pear and tickled it.
The house elves were more than accommodating when I entered and sat at a small table. I was soon surrounded with anything and everything a person could imagine for breakfast. I ate my fill and felt slightly better with food in my stomach.
“Thanks, Lolly.” I told a small, wiry looking house elf as she cleared away my plate happily.
“Of course Miss Blackwood!” She squeaked.
I sighed, “Please, call me Zalia.”
She looked anxious for a moment, but eventually said, “Yes, Miss…. Zalia,” and hobbled away quietly.
After breakfast I lingered longer than necessary in the kitchens. Far from eager to go and talk to everyone. I didn’t want to answer questions from my friends. And I really didn’t want to deal with the happy couple, a.k.a ‘Sammy’.
Eventually I stalked back up the passageway and headed to Gryffindor tower. I needed a shower and a change of clothes if I expected to function at all today.
With a sour expression I went up the staircase, through the portrait hole, and up to my dorm. Praying that the girls were still asleep.
I was tackled by a mane of wild red hair as soon as I opened the door. I fell down with Lily on top of me and growled. Yes, me. I actually growled. This was exactly not the way I had been hoping to be greeted.
“Where the hell have you been?”
I blew Lily’s hair out of my face and shoved her away roughly. “Get off, Lily.”
She scrambled up and looked at me with an irritated expression. Rose and Mary came up behind her and crossed their arms simultaneously. I rolled my eyes.
“You took off without saying anything! Where have you been?”
I stood up and brushed myself off.
“Is that sand in your hair?” Mary asked incredulously.
I pursed my lips and ran my hands through my matted hair bitterly, “Yes it is. Now if you’ll excuse me I am in dire need of a shower.”
Lily scoffed, “I don’t think so. Not until you tell us where you’ve been and why you disappeared without a word.”
Let the questions commence….
“Where I was and why I was there is not your business.” I answered with a raised eyebrow.
The girls gave me identical smirks, “Zalia Blackwood, what are you not telling us?”
I flashed them a glare and moved towards the bathroom. “I’ll give you whatever answers you like. After I take a shower and freshen up.” I closed and locked the bathroom door before they could argue.
The shower was nice, it helped me relax somewhat, but it took me forever to knead all of the sand out of my hair. Seeing as I’d slept on a beach all night, there was a lot of it. I wrapped a towel around my body as I stepped out of the shower and wrung out my sopping hair into the sink before I ventured back into the room, carrying my wand and dirty clothes that I’d brought into the bathroom with me.
“Took you long enough.” Lily said as I opened the door, crossed over to my bed, and waved my wand so that clean clothes appeared in front of me.
After choosing a simple blue cotton shirt and a pair of black jeans I dressed and turned to go get my brush when I found three pairs of eyes on me.
“Oh, all right,” I huffed, irritated, “What do you want?”
“Where have you been?” Rose asked curiously.
I sat down on my bed and huffed when the three of them joined me.
“I was…. with my parents.” I said slowly.
They looked at me confused, “So, why didn’t you tell us?”
“I guess it just slipped my mind.” I answered lamely.
Lily raised an eyebrow, “Yeah, right.”
I glared at her, “I didn’t feel like answering your questions or whatever. Besides I’m back aren’t I? Jeesh, you’d think I’d been gone for a month.”
Mary laughed softly, but Rose and Lily gave me skeptical looks. Sensing that they weren’t buying it, I went on.
“I’m not comfortable talking about personal things. Of which I consider my family one. So you’ll pardon me if I assumed you wouldn’t mind.”
Rose nodded and Lily gave me a weird look that was something between suspicion and understanding.
“You couldn’t have just said that you would be gone for a day?”
I rolled my eyes, “Oh come on. You would have asked me a million questions about where I was going. Anyways,” I sighed, “I don’t know why we’re talking about this. I’m back.”
“Right,” Mary said, “Which reminds me…. Why did you have to go?”
“Oh, you know; family stuff. One of my great Aunts died.” I lied casually.
Lily narrowed her eyes, but I continued comfortably, “I didn’t know her very well, but supposedly she used to visit when I was a baby. The funeral was yesterday evening.”
They seemed to be believing me, and I felt relieved.
“What was her name?” Lily asked.
“Mildred,” I answered automatically, “She was ninety-four.”
“So, the sand?” Rose asked carefully, “In your hair?”
“Oh, that” I thought quickly, “My aunt had always been fond of the ocean. We had her ashes thrown into the sea as she wanted. It was windy though, and the sand from the beach got all over me.”
Tiger Lily nodded slowly along with my other two friends and I repressed the urge to scowl. I was a good liar. It came naturally I suppose. But it bothered me how automatic and easy the lies came sometimes. Almost like lying was my default mode.
“Well, I’m starving!” Rose broke the solemn silence and I stood up.
“Let’s go get breakfast.” I didn’t bother telling them I’d eaten in the kitchens. That would just raise more questions.
We meandered down to the great hall and I grimaced as we entered and I saw Sirius and Tammy cuddling up at the Gryffindor table by the marauders. Ugh. I could see my disgust mirrored in James’ and Remus’ faces as they cringed away from the couple.
“Can’t we just…. not sit there?” Lily asked me hopefully.
I sighed and shook my head, “No. We won’t give her our spot. It’s what she wants. And I don’t care if they start snogging on my flipping plate. I refuse to let her think she’s won.”
We sat down across from the boys and I smiled at James who gave me a nod.
“I see you’re back.”
Before I could answer, he cut in:
“Aw, and I was getting my hopes up that you were gone for good.”
I glared at Sirius, “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
“Nope,” He answered cheerfully and began running kisses along his girlfriend’s neck. Tammy giggled. Gag.
“Can’t you molest your whore somewhere else?” I asked dryly.
Tammy sat up and gave me a glare, “Shut the hell up.”
I rolled my eyes, “Whatever.”
I could feel all of our friends tense around us, but they should have gotten used to the bickering by now.
“You’re just jealous because no one wants you.” Tammy sneered, “I have the best looking guy in the school and you can’t get anyone.”
I actually smiled at this, “I can get any guy I want, I just don’t. I’m not easy Tamara.”
Sirius frowned, “Tammy’s not easy.”
I laughed, “Right, for a minute there I thought you were serious. Excuse the pun.”
Tammy leaned towards me from her spot on Sirius’ lap. “You’re going to end up alone, because you’re an ugly prude with a smart mouth and bad attitude.”
I sighed and addressed my friends, “You know what, I’m not feeling very hungry anymore. The two trolls over here have ruined my appetite.”
“That’s it, just walk away. You know I’m right.” Tammy said loudly. Loud enough to draw attention.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I opened them again I looked Tammy straight in the eye and ignored the people around us who were watching.
“You know, bitch,” I put emphasis on the word and stood up. “I’m not really offended at the things that come out of your mouth,” I smiled, “They’re not nearly as foul as the things that go into it.” I looked pointedly at Sirius.
James and Remus started laughing behind their hands and a lot of people made cat calls, but I wasn’t going to get into it with her again. I walked away, swinging my hips, leaving Tamara Goldberg with her mouth hanging open. I almost told her to close it; it wasn’t like she needed anything else getting tangled with her tongue.
I watched her walk away with a scowl.
“Siri, can you take me to my room? I don’t want to walk alone.”
I turned to my girlfriend with a forced smile, “Of course I can.”
“Thanks sweetie.” She simpered. I pretended not to see Mary making gagging motions across from us.
We left the great hall and walked hand in hand to the Gryffindor common room. We made it about halfway there before Tammy grabbed the front of my shirt and shoved me backwards behind a tapestry. I didn’t really complain. Our relationship was mostly physical. We spent all our free time in passages or closets in heavy snogging sessions.
“I need to get to quidditch practice….” I said eventually.
Tammy curled her fingers through my hair and pulled away to look at me. “Seriously?”
I raised an eyebrow at her, “You don’t want me to slack off on the athletics now do you?”
She smirked and shook her head. This was what I liked about our relationship. We weren’t false. We knew each other’s motives and coped with them. Tammy liked my status in school and my body. I liked her effect on Zalia and her body. It worked well enough.
“See you later.” I ducked out of the passage and jogged up to the dormitory to grab my broom for practice.
As I opened the door to the room a voice called; “Have you seen Lily?”
I looked around, surprised to see Robert Spencer (the newbie) standing there.
“Sorry, what?” I asked gruffly.
“Lily Evans. Have you seen her?”
Warning signs flashed in my head and I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. Why was he looking for Lily. James’ Lily. As in the future Lily Potter.
“Why?” I said sharply.
Robert (or Beck I suppose) looked amused. “I just have a question to ask her.”
“Oh yeah?” I crossed my arms. I didn’t like this. James was my best mate, and he was desperately in love with Lily. “And what’s that?”
“Ah,” Beck smiled slightly, “I’m afraid it’s for her ears only.”
I twisted my mouth and huffed. I didn’t have anything against this guy. He was fine and all. I liked him in fact, he seemed like a good bloke. But the fact remained that he was asking after Lily. And that was a problem for me.
“Look,” I said after a moment, “I just have to warn you. James fancies Lily. And to be frank he’ll kick your ass if you move in on her.”
Beck’s expression didn’t change. “I know Potter likes her, but they aren’t going out. And honestly I don’t see it happening in the future.”
I paused. Beck had a point….. but it didn’t matter.
“Sorry. I won’t help you out with Lily. James is my best mate.”
Beck nodded and moved to the door, “I get it. But let Potter know that I like Lily too. And if he can’t handle a little healthy competition then he’s not good enough for her anyway.”
I frowned as he left. Great. Flipping fantastic. Now I was going to have to tell James the Beck was going after Lily.
I grabbed my broomstick and ran to the quidditch pitch. Not looking forward to being the bearer of bad news.
(The original chapter was too long so this is a modified version. I'll be uploading the second part soon! Sorry-)
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