A/N: Oh, wow, please don't kill me I know I took forever. Here it is though! I had a little trouble with my computer last time I posted so I couldn't do the full author's note I wanted to. Anyway, In case you were wondering, for the Halloween Dance Zalia was an Arabian Princess, Mary was an Indian Princess, Lily was a Mermaid Princess, Rose was Belle from Beauty and the Beast (Thank you Brother's Grimm) and, well, Alice was a punk rocker as stated before.
Read and REVIEW! Thanks so much, hope you enjoy it!
Song of the day:
Hey Brother- Avicii
P.S. Remember Zalia's mystery man? That Secretive Slytherin? Heh heh, keep reading to find out who he really is ;)
“For the love of Wally Wemble,
For the sea and salt and stars.
For the tear drops which do tremble,
For unearthly hallowed hearts.
I do cry for Wally Wemble! I do tremble with the hearts!
Cobbly stones, and willow wands,
Perky faeries break them ‘part.”
“I’ll show her hallowed hearts….”
“Perky faeries, my arse….”
Lily tilted her head to give me a disapproving yet half amused glare. I rolled my eyes as I usually did and slumped down on my desk. My chin ended up hitting the wood too fast and I yelped loudly, passing it off as a cough when Proffesor Bozein blinked at me in an annoyed manner from over her sparkly, winged glasses. She clicked her tongue sharply while I rubbed my jaw and glanced around the boredly.
Literature of Magical Society was an extremely dry class which I was forced into taking. Most seventh years or NEWT students, saw it as a waste of time (oh, I can’t imagine why) and totally kept it out of their schedules. I would have followed suit, but being a transfer student I was required to attend at least one stupid, artsy type of class to graduate Hogwarts and recieve a diploma. I wasn’t happy with Dumbledore for it, but there was nothing I could do.
Lily was all excited when she found I was signing up for the class, and jumped at the chance to take it with me. She went on and on about really thinking that both the class and its teacher were worthwhile. Or so I thought. Now that I was sat next to her, watching her make googily eyes at Beck (a transfer like me) from across the room; I had the sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t the one she was there for. And neither was Professor Bozein.
Beck turned around every few minutes to shoot my red headed friend a wink or a smirk. So flipping cliché and ridiculous that I had the urge to vomit. Instead, I took out my nerves about the situation and entertained myself by poking Lily in the elbow (shaking her from her longing glance to Robert/Beck) and gestured to the side of my mouth.
“You’ve got some drool there, Tiger Lily.”
She turned beet red and swung her arm wide to try and clap me around the side of the head. I ducked just in time and cracked up silently when Lily’s hard punch to the air threw her off balance and resulted in a heap of her and her books on the ground.
The class erupted in laughter and I shot Lily what was supposed to be an apologetic look, but what came out as a smirk. Proffesor Bozein tottered towards us; scolding and quoting off passages of perfectly useless, old wizards’ poetry.
A loud –ding- sounded around the room, marking the end of the lesson. I sighed, relieved and jumped out of my seat quickly. I grabbed Lily’s hand, as she was still floundering to stand up again, and my book bag. Wrenching my friend upright again, I avoided her disingenuous scowl and marched out of the classroom.
“Thanks for that.” I heard the soft growl behind me.
Without turning around I replied, “You threw the punch, Tiger Lily.”
“You made me.”
I looked sideways at her and grinned.
“Anyways,” Her voice snapped to casual in a moment. “Where are we going?”
I frowned, confused at her. Lily knew exactly when and where every class was. “We have Herbology next. Remember?”
“No,” she stopped in her tracks and turned on heel, “We’ve got that special workshop for Defense against the Dark arts today.”
I groaned and turned around as well, high-tailing it back the way we came. She was right. I’d completely forgotton about it. Seventh years had to attend some workshop that was being held in the dungeons. Despite it being an inconviencing walk much further than Herbology would have been, my curiosity was piqued. At least Defense was usually an interesting class.
“I said SILENCE!!”
McGonagall’s voice carried around the room like a cannon blast. I smirked as she vanished a bag of candy that a few Slytherins were hiding behind their backs.
“Now then, shall we begin? I would appreciate if you gave your full and undivided attention to Mr. Alastar Moody and Ms. Emeline Vance.”
Absently, my foot tapped against the cobbled-stone floor, echoeing very slightly. No one noticed being that, for once in the lives of every student in my class, McGonogall’s orders were being followed to the last man. The eyes and ears, and gaping mouths, of all of us were trained on Alastar Moody and Emeline Vance.
Defense against the Dark arts was a favorite class of mine, but this might be the only time I’d describe it as thrilling. Every seventh year of every house was gathered into an unused classroom in the dungeons. Even whispered arguments and insults between the Gryffindors and Slytherins stopped when Dumbledore showed up to tell us what we would be doing.
Both Moody and Vance, visiting aurors, looked terryffing. But other than that they were polar opposites. Ms. Vance was trim and tall; wearing a black pantsuit underneath a witch’s cloak. Her sleeves were rolled up and her expression hungry as her gaze flitted to and from everyone else’s eyes. Her hair was pulled back into a bun that just might, might have been even tighter than McGonogall’s.
Mr. Moody seemed equally as eager, searching our faces, but he was of average height, a thick, muscely build and seemed to be missing a few pieces of himself. A chunk was gone from his right leg, a hole went straight through his left thumb, and several large, ropey scars were scattered across him. He wore rumpled wizards robes with stains and a slightly dank odor that left me with the impression he hadn’t washed them recently. His unkempt, receding hair was flattened to his head, but his eyes were wide and menacing.
Together, the two characters were brilliantly unmatched and yet one amusing thought rang through my head.
These are my people.
I tore my eyes away when I heard an audible gulp close by. Next to me Lily looked terrified. I smiled a little bit at her wide eyes and defensively crossed arms. She resembled a frightened doe.
“I said, MAKE A LINE.”
McGonogall seemed to be slightly impatient today. I was shoved back and forth as students rushed forward and ended up in the middle of group of Hufflepuffs, all chattering anxiously and waiting their turn.
I craned my neck to look ahead of my line. I found a smile slide into place as I saw that the auror I was waiting for was Alastar Moody. He seemed like a crazy old, bad-wizard catcher. A good challenge.
I jumped a little at the voice so close by.
“Not even a little?”
“Not even just a teensy, weensy--”
I turned around to give him an amused and exhasperaated look before staring back at the front of the line. I was twenty people back, but students were stilling mulling around and trying to make it a single file queue.
Good question. I shrugged at James and glanced around before seeing Lily duck out of our line and stand in the back of Ms. Emeline Vance’s. A chuckle escaped me. She was such a chicken, going for the less monstrous-seeming Auror.
“Moody seems excellent. I wish our proffesors were more like him.”
I swiveled to see Sirius staring eagerly at Moody from behind James, with Peter and Remus behind him. My eyes went wide at Remus’ presence and I uncharacteristiclly let out a squeak that was drowned out by a round of applause. I turned around immediately to find that the clapping was for a girl at the front of the line who had been successful in making a shoot of silver come out of the end of her wand on her turn.
“You look nervous.” James muttered.
I didn’t answer. I was nervous now. But not about facing the auror. Remus was here. I’d been avoiding him since the night of the Halloween Dance. I closed my eyes for a moment to regain my bearings. I felt a scowl on my face when I opened my eyes again. I was angry with myself for letting a boy get into my head. And at a time like this!
“What do you think yours will be?” I asked James quietly, keeping face to the front.
“Oh, I already know what mine is.”
“What?” That jolted me out of my romantic problems, and I turned on heel with raised eyebrows.
“It’s my animagus form.” James explained under his breath.
I blinked, realizing that that was extremely logical. Of course the animagi and the patronus forms were likely to be the same. That meant Sirius’ was a bearlike dog, James’ was a stag, and Peter’s was a rat. Remus’ however, was still unknown. I was curious to see what it would be.
I snuck a glance at him from the line, but jerked my head away when he looked to me. Remus’ Patronus form could be any number of things, but a feeling of dread sat in my mind. What if it was the wolf? A werewolf form for his patronus would only reinforce Remus’ fear that the monster was really a part of him.
I didn’t realize I was frowning until James clapped me on the back; hard enough to make me nearly fall over.
“Don’t worry,” He muttered, “I’m sure yours will be good.”
I kept silent. I wasn’t worried for myself, but James’ brotherly reassurment calmed me anyways. I buried the twinge of resentment I felt towards him for reading my letter. I’d forgiven him a while ago despite receiving no apology. Though it was the most unlikely thing for me to do, and probably not an action I’d repeat again anytime soon; it was simply how I felt. I was still in the process of letting go of my parents, and though James was definitely wrong to read my personal letter, it wasn’t really him I was angry at. Besides, he was one of the only persons who were kind to me besides Lily and the girls. And I was so confused about my relationships and feelings towards Remus and Sirius that I could do without confusion towards James.
“Next!!” Moody’s deep, gruff voice knocked me out of my own thoughts and I straightened automatically when I saw how close I was getting to the front of the line. My heart beat faster and my hands clenched.
Our Defense against the Dark arts workshop was not what I had been expecting. Maybe a grindylow or a boggart, but certainly not corporeal patronuses. The patronus charm is ridiculously advanced. And as much as I was worried I might not be able to conjure one at all, I was more worried still that I would produce one that I was disappointed in. Godric forbid my patronus turned out to be a dung beetle or a goat.
“You don’t wave a wand like its toy unless you’re a child. Are you a child? You seem like a child.”
I was liking Alastar Moody more and more as the Slytherin he’d been helping whimpered and slunk away; unable to do the charm. I was two people away from the front now.
“Any questions, Miss McKinnon?”
I snapped sideways to watch as Marlene McKinnon’s turn came up in the line for Ms. Emeline Vance. She looked nervous but determined as her brow furrowed and her wand raised.
“Expecto Patronum!” She closed her eyes and swished the wand in one fluid motion. My mouth opened in a perfect ‘o’ as a burst of silver white light came from the end of Marlene’s wand.
The substance swirled and moved like liquid fabric. I watched amazed with the rest of the students as Marlene became the first student to not only produce the successful charm, but create her own corporeal patronus. Instead of just light at the end of her wand the spell became an entity of its own. The light formed itself into a creature and Marlene herself gasped in delight as a brilliant, silver stallion pranced towards her, a perfect white star shining on its forehead.
Emeline Vance grinned toothily at Moody who shrugged and tossed her a few galleons from inside his pocket. I supposed they had some sort of bet going on. I tore my eyes away from Marelne’s fading patronus when Moody’s voice barked in my ears:
I jumped forward trying to keep my rattling mind together and rolled up my sleeves.
“Any questions before we begin?”
I was about to shake my head but, “Yes I do.” Popped out of my mouth instead.
“Oh?” Moody seemed surprised, his scarred face lifted.
“What are the patronus’ uses other than Defense against Dementors?”
“Finally a useful question. The corporeal patronus is a spirit guardian which, when summoned, protects the castor of the spell from certain magical beings and or harmful magical elements.”
I nodded slowly, my eyes glued to the floor but not really looking at it.
“It’s a difficult spell.” He continued, regarding me. “Only the most powerful of witches and wizards can conjure a true patronus.”
I nodded again and looked up at him with a steely gaze, praying that the magic I had which manifested itself without use of a wand might be of some help here.
“I can do it.”
“Mmm. I like your confidence. But cocky is less than useful if you can’t follow it up with talent.”
I nodded, taking a steady stance. My eyes closed and I listened to the sound of my own breathing.
“It’s one, quick movement with the wand. Up and out. You have to think of the happiest memory you have. Immerse yourself in it…. Let it consume you until you can’t think anymore….”
His voice sounded miles away. I ignored my racing heart as I scanned back through my memories. There were so many adequate ones. But average little, tid-bits of fun would do me no good here. My happiest memory…. I felt disappointment slip in when I couldn’t find one. My determination chased it out quickly though. Even an average memory would help me better than disappointment would. I continued to search my mind.
“We don’t have all day….”
I ignored that cat calls from students waiting in line behind me. I felt a smile grow wider and wider onto my expression when I found my memory. The one that made me the happiest. My eyes snapped open at the same time I moved my wand. The incantation burst past my lips while I kept the memory glued to my mind.
There was definite silence after the words and for the smallest moment I stared at the space of nothingness at the end of my wand.
Then silver light flooded out of its tip. My memory burned brighter as I realized the spell was working. A glow emitted from the Patronus Charm and my eyes grew wide as my Patronus took its form.
White light surrounded the silver tendrils and I had to blink several times before I registered what my Patronus had become. My gaze traveled upwards slowly; in shock.
A glowing, silver dragon unfurled its wings and stretched them out. It’s shining body reached from ceiling to floor and the wings were the length of the classroom. It’s ghostly appearance stunned everyone into silence and I stood stock still as it leant its beautiful head down to my eye level. I didn’t even flinch when its’ jaws opened and I was engulfed in a burst of white, icy fire. It felt like smoke and fog at the same time. My eyes stayed open and I stared at my Patronus with the same intensity with which it looked at me.
The memory in my mind faded slowly and my dragon closed its jaws, snapped its wings and roared before diving towards the end of my wand. The silver essence disappeared and there was nothing but air before me.
“I guess you can do it.”
My glazed look vanished and my head snapped toward Alastar Moody who looked satisfied and was leaning against one of the classroom chairs.
I finally got over the shock of the spell and had enough energy to grin at him before I realized how utterly spent I felt.
Moody noticed immediately and pulled out the chair he was leaning on.
“Sit down there, girl. You’re gonna need to re-coop for a minute or two.”
I silently agreed and it was only when I slumped into the seat that I noticed all the eyes trained on me.
A dragon. She got a fucking dragon. Right. And here I am stuck with some mangy dog for a spirit animal or whatever the hell you want to call it.
I looked to my left as Peter snorted spaghetti up his nose.
Look on the bright side. At least mine isn’t a rat.
Peter grinned at me with marinara sauce dripping down one side of his face. I laughed at him in response and gazed around for something more interesting to look at.
There wasn’t much. Other than an amusing scene involving Nearly headless nick (Gryffindor ghost) doing somersaults through the Gryffindor table and landing on Proffesor Maccabee; everyone was still just buzzing from either experiencing the Patronus lesson, or (for the younger students) hearing about it.
To me it really wasn’t a huge deal. I mean, I’d already been doing Patronus charms since fifth year (a marauder experiment), so I knew mine, James knew his, and we were almost positive that Peter’s was rat (since that was his animagus form). But for some reason neither Remus nor Peter had been able to cast a corporeal Patronus. The silver light? Sure, no problem. But no spirit guardian or whatever it was, came out.
The only interest I had in the class was the surprise of seeing what Patronuses the other successful castors had. There were few who made a full Patronus: Marlene, Rose, Lily, Zalia, Twisha Wood, a couple of Ravenclaws, Humphrey Thatcher and Percival Abbott from Hufflepuff, and about two or three Slytherins.
Several others made silver light shoot out the end of their wands, but that would hardly be helpful to them if they truly needed use of the spell. I was rather surprised by all of the forms the Patronus’ took. What with Zalia’s dragon, Marlene’s stallion, and Rose’s falcon. But nothing was as intense as when Lily’s Patronus become a silver doe: a perfect match to James’ stag. I think even he was shocked by it despite pronouncing positivity that they were made for each other these last years. Lily had refused to make eye contact with him after realizing that their two Patronuses were a pair: Stag and doe.
I looked up to see Remus sitting down with Lily, rubbing his arm. “You’re going to leave a mark if you keep hitting me like this, Lily.”
“You deserve it.” She grumbled, plopping into her seat with a scowl.
“What did he do?” I asked boredly. In answer I received a sharp –whack- on the top of my head.
“What was that for?” I yelped loudly.
Lily smirked at me, “That’s what you both get for not telling me.”
“Telling you what?”
“About James’ Patronus.”
I rolled my eyes and let out something between a sigh and a scoff. “Lily, what the hell? How were we supposed to know yours would be a doe?”
Remus nodded to me, “That’s the same kind of logic I tried to use, but she so pig-headed--” He bumped her shoulder with his own.
Lily blinked, “Are you calling me a pig?”
Remus groaned and slapped his palm to his foreheaded.
“Women!” I exclaimed in amused exasperation before ditching the pair and Peter.
I walked away briskly, pretending not to hear my friends calling after me. I was in a mood to be alone with my own thoughts. It didn’t happen often, but it did happen, and today was just one of those days.
I went round the corridors for a bit, circling back and forth. Finally my itching desire to wander brought me to the steps leading outside of the castle itself. Dinner was almost over, but I still had plenty of time before curfew.
I squinted for a few moments as my eyes adjusted to the sharp glow of the setting sun. The large pine trees were scattered around the area, becoming denser as they grew into the forbidden forest. A flock of birds flew overhead; high enough to be merely dots in the sky. I kicked over a few rocks with the tip of my shoe as I went down the pathway, following the sandy road towards a grass hill top. My peaceful demeaner was interrupted as I realized I wasn’t alone out here.
My brow furrowed and I growled as I came over the edge of the hill, hearing someone attempting a spell of sorts. “I can’t get a second of silence for Godric’s--”
I stopped short when the person came in sight and I recognized them. My first thought wasn’t very nice. Neither was my second one. So I said both of them anyway.
“What the fuck?.... are you doing here.”
“Whoa, hey man. Didn’t see you there.”
My eyes shot daggers at the boy ahead of me. He was an inch or so taller than I was, and leaner, with dark brown hair. I despised the sight of him. His wand arm shot down from where he was aiming at the space in front of him. I glared as I stalked down the rest of the hill to stand close to him.
“What are you doing out here?” I snarled; my hand snapped out to roughly slap his wand arm.
He flinched and backed up a few steps, stuffing his wand into the pockets of his school robes.
“None of your business,” His face transformed from ironic to irritated in the space of two seconds.
“Right.” I snorted, “Like I’m going to let you practice your death eater shit out here like some muggle-hating freak.”
I lunged again for his arm to hit him, but he moved away too quickly.
His left arm ran through his hair warily and a sigh broke through his tightly-lined mouth. “You always were so uptight about everything…. Brother.”
“You were always so delusional about everything, Brother.”
He smiled, “Oh, how I missed our repartee.”
I rolled my eyes, “That makes one of us.”
“As for the supposed ‘dark magic’--” He made quotations in the air, “—that I’m doing out here. Since when did a Patronus charm become illegal?”
I folded my arms tightly in front of my chest. “You really expect me to believe that?”
He shrugged, “Thought I’d try it out, you know, since you got to do it in class earlier.”
I raised an eyebrow, curiosity and hatred for my brother both eating away at me. “Any luck?”
His upper lip curled as it always did when he was feeling wickedly pleased. It was a look I’d never been fond of. Too much like mother.
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
I schoffed. “Don’t tell me. Your Patronus is a snake? Or maybe a pile of dung. That would suit you.”
He gave me a mocking look, “Great guesses, but no. I’ll show you.”
My brother, Regulus, raised his arms with wand in hand. In a show of natural finesse that I never had, he closed his eyes and moved the wand in one motion. To my surprise, Regulus never even smiled at whatever happy memory he had tapped into. His face remained empasive as his Corporeal Patronus took shape.
What it became was the last thing I expected.
My stupid, little brother. My stupid, Slytherin, Muggle-hating brother. With his love for our sick family and everything they stood for. My brother, had the symbol of Gryffindor for his Patronus.
A great, white lion roared once at him and shook its silver, misty mane before disappearing back into nothingness.
I stared at the spot it had been for a few moments before looking at my brother.
He seemed uncomfortable under my gaze. As if he had revealed too much to me in showing what his Patronus was. And he probably had. Either way I was utterly confused. Regulus was everything a Slythering should be. Cunning, clever, selfish, sadistic, elegant, wealthy and pure-blooded. He always had been. Perhaps I was the lucky one out of the two of us. I’d ended up with all the reason and the ability to figure out that the House of Black was no better than a house full of vultures. But Regulus had been gifted with every ounce that the Black aristocracy had to offer. My parents had dug their claws so deep into his back that he was more puppet than human. Even when we were children. I left in my fifth year, to live with James and never even mentioned the plan to Regulus. I refused to trust him. It was evident from a young age that he would be the one to carry out my parents’ wishes. He would be the one to kill and hunt down the innocents. He would be the one to make the most noble and ancient house of Black proud. And I would be an outcast. But to be honest, I had the better end of the deal.
I was still looking at him. My brother seemed different than I remembered. Older, and more tired. He lowered his wand slowly and as he placed it back into his pocket something caught my eye. Bile rose up in my throat.
“Already been recruited, have you?” I hissed.
His head snapped up, “What?”
Without giving him the opportunity to jump away this time, I grabbed his left wrist and twisted his arm roughly so as to expose his inner forearm.
The accusations died before I spoke them. What I thought I’d seen moments before was not the dark mark. Instead, a long, ropey scar traveled from a few inches above his wrist to the end of his inner elbow. Not a mark of voldemorts servants, but something almost as nauseating.
“I thought they got rid of that thing after I left.” I breathed.
Regulus yanked his arm away from me, letting his black sleeve fall over the scar once more.
“No.” He snarled, “They just found someone else to use it on.”
“But….” I frowned, “But you’re….”
“I’m what?” he snapped, “Their favorite? Mummy’s little helper?”
I blinked, “Well….yeah.”
His pained expression clearly said things had changed since I’d left home.
“I didn’t know.” The words were meager at best.
His face changed and lifted. Almost like a barrier.
My hand moved absently to my own arm where sat several faded scars that were similar to my brother’s. No doubt ours came from the same place; My mother’s favorite tool. Her magical dagger. It was a twisted device. Its uses were one; that being the person holding the dagger had simply to name the person they were attempting to harm and the dagger would carve a gruesome lesson into said victim’s arm or leg, or wherever it could get ahold of.
Growing up I became very familiar with this particular device: my parents’ cherished knife of punishment whenever I’d “brought shame upon the family name”. Though it technically belonged to my mother, my father was the one who usually wielded the dagger. Nightmeres of my childhood flashed before my eyes. The sillouhette of a tall man, with knife in hand. Blood dripping towards the floor. A small boy hiding in the downstairs cupboard—
My head swiveled back to present and I hesitated. The accusation was apparent in his voice. And though I was sure there was no reason for it…. I wasn’t really sure.
Regulus and I were never close. Ever. That was just a fact. A situation based upon a past that could never be fully rectified. Mostly because he was still choosing the wrong side, despite my suspicions that he knew exactly what he was doing. Regulus wasn’t stupid. He even surprised me with his intellect sometimes, it was pure chance that our mother had decided he was the one she loved. Not in some petty, baby of the family, spoiled, favorite way. Her love for him was sick and twisted, like a child with a doll. She wanted to dress him up, whisper in his ear, hold his hand. Only unlike most mothers, she wasn’t holding his hand to cross the street: she was holding it as he murdered and tortured. She had latched onto him in a way she never had to me. Not that I was jealous. Confused was a better word. There was something about me she had disliked from the beginning. Maybe she’d always sensed I wasn’t going to be affected by her poison no matter how potent she made it.
No matter what the reason, my parents pushed Regulus on a podium whilst I was a pebble in their shoe. For this reason (and the fact Regulus usually had welcomed my parents’ ideas with open arms) I refused to trust him. I never had, not even to talk about trivial things. We didn’t joke around. And if we did it was more malicious than jovial. I don’t ever remember telling him about what happened to me behind closed doors. Now that I thought about it, my mother always seemed to keep him out of sight if I was being punished. Whether it was the whip, the dagger, starvation, or something of an even less savory nature. It was only now that the thought occurred to me. He had no idea what they did to me. At least…. My eyes darted to his arm again…. Until I left.
Guilt gnawed at my throat. My mother and father had replaced me with my brother. All they needed was a pound of flesh; I had merely been the preffered candidate.
“I had to.” The truth seemed the best thing to blurt out. It was an honest answer. I would have suffocated in that house of horrors.
“You left me.”
The change of one word in his address left me swallowing hard. So that’s what it was. He didn’t miss me. He didn’t really care if I was gone. But I’d left without a warning, a word of help, or the chance of an escape. I’d gone alone.
My expression hardened. “Would you have come with me?”
I continued, “Would you have left everything you knew on the word of a brother you hardly even acknowledged? It was different for me. I’m sorry you had to pick up the slack when I left, but at least you were already living with the type of people you’d sided with.”
His brow drooped severely, a frown spreading across his already dark face.
“Regulus, don’t play stupid. We both know who you are and where you’re going. Hell if I know why, but the situation’s clear. I was out from the start. I was never going to be their pet or let Mum pull the strings in my life. We have a fucked up family, with fucked up ideas about life. I left and I’m glad I did. Don’t sit there and blame me for something you let yourself get dragged into.” I let out a breath at the end of my tirade, waiting for my estranged brother to curse me into oblivion. I wouldn’t be surprised.
He remained stoic as he answered. “I knew you’d forsaken our parents. I didn’t realize you’d forsaken me.”
“What did you expect?” I spat.
He shrugged, “I don’t know. Maybe a little grace. Maybe a parting word from my big brother?”
My face dropped and I gave him an ‘are you kidding me’ look. “Seriously? What gave you the idea we were brothers? We may share the same blood, but the familiarity stops there.”
For the first time since I’d walked down the hill he actually looked angry.
“Right,” he grit his teeth, “So you’re the good one, I’m the bad one, and yet who’s the one being an asshole here?”
I shrugged, “The truth hurts.”
He swung so fast that I didn’t see the fist until it was making contact with my face. Several curse words came sputtering out of my mouth incoherently as I tried to keep my balance and lights flashed in front of me. He’d grown stronger since the last time we fist fought. Then again that had been at least three years ago.
“Does the truth hurt as much as your face does?”
I looked up to see him sneering at me with a self-satisfied smirk and that upper lip curling.
“I’d punch your lights out,” I muttered, “But I don’t fight children.”
He rolled his eyes and flexed his hand. If it hurt half as much as the side of my face did, his hand was most likely throbbing at the moment.
I tentatively touched my mouth and nose. He’d hit me with a right-hook that packed a punch and though the side of my head was almost numb with pain he’d luckily missed my nose. I wiped away a trickle of blood on my lower lip and gave him a pissed off look.
“We’re not family. We never will be.”
His upper lip dropped. For a split second I felt a twinge of pain for my brother. He looked like the little boy I'd waved to as I left him behind on my first trip to Hogwarts. A child.
But the moment ended just as quickly. Regulus was no longer innocent. He made his own choices now.
“Got it.” He swallowed thickly.
I brushed myself off absently and started back up the hill before pausing to look back.
He looked up.
“If I ever see you practicing dark magic…or…hurting people…I will kill you.” I kept my voice even.
His face darkened but he didn’t reply. He just turned his back on me; signaling a resignation.
Packing to go somewhere I didn’t want to go sucked even more.
“You’ll never get it done sitting around like that.”
I sighed, leaning backwards over the edge of my bed and staring at the ceiling. “Fine, then we’ll just have to stay here.”
“You know that’s not an option.”
“I wish it was.” I grumbled, sitting upright.
Lily was frowning, holding up two different jumpers. “Should I bring my red one? Or the one I got from Oxford?”
I shrugged, not caring either way. She shoved her red one into her small luggage bag and tossed her other jumper over her shoulder.
My own bag lay open on the floor with several items strewn about it. I grabbed up a couple books from my school bag and threw them in. It wasn’t likely I’d get any studying done on this trip, but I’d bring them anyway.
“What time is the train getting here?”
Lily checked her wrist watch. “In about an hour. Dumbledore said nine O’clock, right?”
I nodded and sat down on the bed, letting the shirt I’d picked up fall to the floor. Lily zipped up her luggage bag and looked at me sadly. I watched silently as Lily began placing things neatly into my bag and removing ridiculous items I’d thrown in; like a light bulb and a container of glitter. My mind was too dull to work today.
“It won’t be horrible like you think it will.”
I barely heard her.
“How do you know?” I frowned.
“Because,” She stood up slowly, searching for anything she’d forgotton to pack for me. “Things like this never are. The anticipation, or dread I suppose, is always worse.”
I grumbled, “I hope you’re right,” Before thanking Lily for her help and following her out the dormitory with our bags.
Mary and Rose were downstairs waiting for us. They each gave me an awkward hug, which I returned.... stiffly. I wasn't in the best frame of mind. My usual reaction of seeking isolation when I was down was kicking in, but having supportive friends was cramping my style.
"We'll see you when you get back." Mary smiled at me, patting my arm. I resisted the urge to slap her hand away.
Rose didn't touch me, thankfully. I squirmed under her meloncholy stare, it was disconcerting having someone appear to be looking straight through you.
She cleared her throat, adopting a curious expression. "Don't do anything stupid."
I raised an eyebrow, "What? Im going to be dealing with fake, snobby distant relatives and sorting out documents. What sort of stupid thing do you think I'll manage to do?"
She hesitated while Lily and Mary said goodbye to eachother. "Just.... remember you have people that care about you. Okay? You're not alone."
It was such an odd thing to say, that the warmth of her words went straight over my head. I gave her a funny little nod and turned heel to leave through the portrait hole.
Unfortunately, someone I very much did not want to speak to, was waiting for me. but it was hard to avoid him when he was inches away. My stomach flooded with butterflies as i looked up at him.
He gave me a hug before either of us could say anything. I was startled as his arms wrapped around my waist and the smell of sandel wood and a fresh water spring enveloped me.
"It'll be okay."
It wasn't the words, common to every unhappy event, which calmed me. His tone, like warm honey, spread through my bones. To my own surprise I threw my arms around him and hugged tight. For the first time I could remember, I was actullay comforted by someone's compassion.
I let go after a second and my old worries rushed back in. I didn't smile, but the whisper of thank you seemed to appease him.
I left Remus by the portrait hole and climbed through to the other side, with Lily following right behind.
I tried not to count the steps as we walked, but the number just echoed in my mind. Growing. Closer and closer to where I didn’t want to go. I was grimacing by the time we reached the Great Hall. The castle was nearly deserted what with it being after curfew, but Lily and I had no fear of running into a teacher or ghost. We had a free pass tonight.
I craned my neck to find who was supposed to meet us down here. Dumbledore hadn’t mentioned who, just that a teacher or prefect would be waiting for us. It was dim in the torch lit hall, but Lily and I could clearly see we were alone.
I huffed and slammed down the trunk in my hand, sitting atop it with folded arms. Lily was frowning as she looked around, but with one glance at my expression she set her own trunk next to mine.
“I’ll go tell Dumbledore no one’s here.” She said hurriedly. “I know you don’t want to wait any longer than you have to.”
I didn’t answer as she rushed away; speed-walking to the headmaster’s office. I was overly grumpy and happy to stay that way. Being unreasonable seemed reasonable at the moment.
See, Lily and I were heading off to the Scottish Highlands for my parents’ funeral. Not exactly my dream vacation. Anger was seething through me and as much as I was trying to contain it, I really just wanted to rip someone’s head off. Maybe Lucius Malfoy’s. But it would be a damn hard job finding the arsehole seeing as he was last seen hiding out somewhere in Belgium.
Not five minutes had passed when a sharp clink and clang of armour could be heard nearby.
I knotted my arms more tightly, keeping face forward as I adressed whomever was behind me.
“Well, it’s about time.”
“I didn’t know you were expecting me.”
I spun backwards to see who was behind me, narrowing my eyes when they met the person’s. His eyes were clearly gold, even in the hazy lighting, and he smirked at me the same way I remembered. The Slytherin boy who’d refused to tell me his name. The single-malt-whiskey drinker from the Halloween dance.
“Oh. It’s you.”
He abandoned his mission of picking up the suit of armour he’d knocked over, and stalked over in my direction.
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
I shrugged, staring down at my palms as I rubbed them together silently. After a few minutes of silence I noticed him watching me and gave him a dirty look.
“What are you staring at?”
He seemed amused, “You.”
“Staring is impolite.” I sniffed.
He laughed, “Being a little brat is impolite. But you don’t see me complaining.”
“What do you want?” I asked in a huff.
He shrugged and began pacing the floor in front of where I sat. “You seem on edge.”
“Oh, good job smarty pants. Using you’re deductive reasoning skills. Bravo.”
He grinned at me, “I like it when you’re bitchy. So much fun.”
I rolled my eyes.
“To be honest I didn’t know you were down here.” He scratched his head.
“You were just wandering around?” I frowned gesturing with my arms.
“None of your business.” He muttered in a childish tone, forcing me to roll my eyes again.
“Well,” I sighed, “You might want to clear out before Lily gets back with our escort. Unlike you, we have permission to be down here.”
He stopped pacing, “I could care less about rules.”
“Apparently,” I whispered under my breath. He didn’t seem to hear.
After another few minutes of awkward silence and both of us trying to pay attention to anything but each other, I gave up and let out an irritated groan.
“Are you ever going to tell me your name?”
He snickered, “If you guess it I’ll tell you.”
I raised an eyebrow. Why was this guy so cryptic? And why did I care so much? “Hector?”
His nose wrinkled, “Seriously? Do I look like a Hector to you?”
“Okay fine… Joseph?”
He shook his head, clearly fighting off a smile.
“Barry? Daniel? Alex?”
“No, no, and no again.”
I threw up my hands, “Rumplestilskin?!”
He paused, “Yes.”
I blinked, my hands remaining stationary in the air for a moment. “Really?”
I gave a half-scream, half-growl of frusteration before the both of us turned; hearing Lily’s voice echoing down the hall. When I turned my head back ‘round, wonder boy was already hightailing it towards one of the secret passageways near the bottom of the staircase.
I narrowed my eyes. No way was this stupid thing going to continue. I refused to have another conversation with a nameless person. It left him in the upper hand.
He turned, flashing a bright smile that reached his dazzling golden eyes.
“A name please?”
He gave me a wink and a chuckle and I heard him call back as he ducked through the passage:
“The name’s Regulus! Regulus Black!”
Sneak Peek to Chapter 23:
My head was pounding harder than a stampede of African Elephants by this point. Lily was still no where to be found. She'd probably been abducted by Aunty Francis and was being force fed hundreds of stale biscuits.
I slumped back into one of the whicker chairs by the statue of our ancestor Whilomena and rubbed my temples as I closed my eyes tightly.
"Are you okay?"
I frowned and squinted as I looked up. "i'm fine. Just had a rough day."
"Ah. Yes, you must have been here for the funeral."
I nodded slowly and looked the man up and down. He stood next to me with a concerned expression. He couldn't have been more than thirty years old, but the strong lines around his eyes and mouth were the distinct signs of a worrier.
"Do I know you?" I asked hesitantly. The funeral had been small and this man was drawing a blank on me.
He chuckled and I noticed the bubble of nervousness that came with it. I looked closer. He had certainly not been on the guest list. I knew the face of every invitie here.
"No, no I'm actually here on a buisness errand."
I raised an eyebrow. Buisness? In an old stone church on top of a hill? Unlikely. Beads of sweat were starting on his brow now and an uneasy feeling clouded my mind.
Before I could begin my suspicious questioning of the man on my right I was distracted by a loud peal of laughter by the side door. Aunt Francis was cackling like an old bat, dragging Lily right behind her.
I let out a deep breath and turned back to tell my new aqquaintance he was welcome to wait while I saved my best friend from the clutches of my evil aunt. The words died in my throat as I turned my head and saw the man practically running down the hall of the church; cloak billowing out behind him. I stood up, bewildered, to ask him to stop. As he turned the corner and fled into the garden, something caught my eye that sent a chill down my spine.
A dark mark of a snake and skull was branded onto his left forearm.
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