Quickly Yaxley drew back, but not quick enough that I hadn’t felt it. I gulped in air hungrily when it ended, adrenaline shooting through my body. I moved towards Anabelle who was still crying silently, but her wide eyes as she tried to find me, her hand grasping mine. I watched her eyes roll back slowly and her frame grew still as she passed out, another wave of panic taking over my system.

Regulus burst through the doorway now, his eyes wild and searching the room.

“Evan, what in the h-“ He started, advancing towards Evan, his wand gripped tightly in his hand.

“Darling Claire jumped in the way. She tried to save her little friend,” Evan sneered towards me, “how are we supposed to feel about a sympathizer, Regulus?”

“They’re no better than the muggle scum, sir,” Barty said, disgust lacing in his words.

Now I moved to be sure that I was standing between the boys and Anabelle, and I gave the boys a weak smile. For all good measure Goyle and Yaxley faltered in their anger. At least all those years of growing up together were not wasted.

“Then you’re supposed to torture me right?” I said evenly, staring at Evan now.

He swiveled to face me, that hollow and scary scowl overcoming his features. I could feel my heart hammering in my ears, and my somewhat calm demeanor threatened to break.

“But, dear Evan, how are you going to explain not just one tortured Hufflepuff girl having an alleged affair with a muggle but also a tortured daughter of the house of Nott?” I narrowed my eyes at him, a smirk of my own curling out.

If there was anything my mother had taught me it was that confidence covers our ignorance and having the upper hand is ideal.

“Who would our dear comrades outside Hogwarts believe?” I slowly raised a brow, “Rosier and his little boys club?”

I saw a couple of the boys shift uncomfortably, and felt the power in making them unsure. I was getting somewhere.

“Why would they believe your word?” Barty snapped angrily, his slight form shaking in anger.

I had pegged Barty a while ago. He was power hungry and willing to grovel and serve to get his position. What he wasn’t aware of was that those who truly held power in our world were the ones who took it for themselves. He would spend his life doing the bidding of others.

“Because, Crouch Jr., you are aware of who my father is? And where my family stands amongst the Sacred Twenty-Eight correct?” I said staring at him, he twitched slightly and his tongue darted from his mouth quickly almost like a lizard.

“I am aware,” He drawled quietly, his eyes averting from my gaze.

“After all, we all know the reason you found me so desirable, dear Evan,” I said glancing at him now, “My family could give you more position. My father is amongst the original men to follow the Dark Lord.”

I saw Evan’s mouth curl into a scowl at this, but I knew I had him pinned in his affection. For so long I had played the helpless little Hufflepuff girl who let these boys dictate my life. No longer.

“You lot think I’m some clueless little girl while you’re off pretending to play war. And you, Rosier, are the worst at it. I know you’ve been meeting and practicing your little curses in hopes to get your marks soon. A mark doesn’t make you a man as much as it makes you a murderer,” I commented roughly, tears springing to my eyes now as the adrenaline caused my frame to shake.

Regulus’ eyes shifted in concern towards me and I grimaced at showing a weakened emotion. I glared at Rosier once more, the anger of months of bad shagging and poor attempts at romance nagging at me. I did not love him. I would never love him.

“Regulus, take Anabelle to the Hospital Wing and tell them you found her on your rounds. The rest of you boys go to your rooms, this evening never happened if you intend to keep your status and follow the Dark Lord. Evan, stay,” I snapped, pacing the wall of the small classroom now.

The boys filtered out with their mouths pressed shut and adverted eyes, Regulus pointed his wand at Anabelle and levitated her from the room. Evan scowled turning to be the last one out, throwing a deep sigh on the walls of the room and I turned sharply.

“You self righteous bastard,” I started in angrily, stepping quickly towards his frame, “How dare you go after my best friend, how dare you try to make a fool of me in front of your dear followers!”

Evan’s lips twisted into some sick smile, “You’ve been holding out on me, Claire. How else was I supposed to get your attention?”

I could feel myself shaking in anger now, and I took a staggering breath trying to calm down, my knuckles were white and gripped against my wand.

“Why?” I asked slowly, “Why in the hell would you care so much about shagging me, Rosier? You can have any girl in this school, hell, I wouldn’t care if you were sleeping with all of them.”

“Because Claire, you’re the one I can’t have,” He moved forward now, advancing and without meaning too I shrunk back, something dark and scary pressing at my conscience about this moment.

“Every girl worth having in this school would drop her knickers if I asked, except for you,” He hissed quietly, moving in until my back was against the wall.

I could feel the sluggish feeling that settles in after an adrenaline rush take hold but my heart continued to hammer, Rosier’s demeanor was darker than I had ever witnessed.

“So it bothers you that I won’t supply your every need?” I said with a roll of my eyes, jutting my chin up in false confidence, “I am not here to feed your ego, Rosie dear.”

He smirked now, “It’s just so maddening. How can the little misplaced Nott girl who wants to fit in so pathetically much not come at my every call?”

I could feel him pressing closer and my back was pinned to the wall, but I couldn’t let this break. Evan was used to control over people, and I would not give him control over me. Not after seeing Anabelle like this.

“Maybe it’s because I know what you are. You’re a little boy pretending to be a man. You think you know what it takes to be a Death Eater, to serve our cause, and maybe even do it passionately. But every thing you have done to this point is child’s play,” I said vehemently, my eyes boring in to his.

His breath was hitting my face now, and I watched as my words sent frustration through his features.

“I could show you what a man is, Nott. No one is coming to look for you down here,” He hissed, press his body against mine now, his hand sharp on my rib cage.

I felt adrenaline shoot up again and panic rise in my throat, but I knew I had power, another play to pull.

“If you even think about such a thing, my father will be the first to know, Rosier. And you know how well his word stands with our Dark Lord. You will let everyone know that we are no longer dating; you will say it was mutual. Hell, even say it was because you wanted to be more devoted to the goal of war. And you will stay as far away from me as possible,” I said calmly, poking my wand up until it was located directly under his chin.

We backed off of the wall, Rosier removing his hands from me and putting space between us.

“Whatever you want, Nott, do tell Anabelle when she wakes that it is not over. If she wakes,” He smirked now, turning and sauntering from the room.

I was at the Hospital Wing when Madame Promfrey made the call to take Anabelle to St. Mungo’s. I demanded to go as well, as her family was difficult to reach in a muggle village and they had yet to be in contact, and I think the poor woman could see I was in no state to go back to bed.

I held her hand for as long as the healers would let me. I sat in a waiting room for hours, I think some Aurors even tried to ask me about what happened. Eventually Headmaster Dumbledore and our head of House Professor Sprout joined my side, sitting vigilantly on either side of my chair as we awaited news.

“Headmaster,” a small, petite nurse with graying blonde hair approached us, “We just finished our extensive work on her. She’ll be okay, eventually. She just needs time, the psychological healing may take longer,” up to this point she had been reading from a chart, she peered up now at Dumbledore.

“May I have a word with you privately?” She raised a slim eyebrow, her mouth twisting in concern at Professor Sprout and I.

They left to whisper a few meters away from us; at this point I was shaking from a lack of sleep and anxiety. Professor Sprout reached over a small, calloused hand and placed it on my arm. It was gentler than I had anticipated for how little we interacted.

“She’s going to be okay, dearie,” She said softly, “That’s all that matters right now.”

A tight smile stretched on her lips, but it was warm and steady. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves.

Dumbledore came towards us again, his face contemplative and serious.

“Misses Nott, would you know why Misses O’Malley was by herself in the dungeons this evening where Mr. Black found her?” His clear blue eyes peered at me evenly through his half-moon spectacles.

I felt the color drain from my face, but I resolved to hold my secrets, “No, sir. I have no idea why she’d be down there.”

“You wouldn’t know of any one looking to hurt her?” He asked more sternly, his brow furrowing.

I couldn’t hold his gaze any longer and shifted to look down at my hands, “Everyone loves her, sir.”

I felt myself breaking now. Finally the intense experiences of the evening began to take precedence. Evan and the boys, Anabelle being tortured, standing up to them all, and the brief sweet moment with Regulus; it was too much for me at this time. I began to cry, if not sob, and Professor Sprout pulled me in to her arms to comfort me. Her grip was strong and she smelled like the earth, nothing could have been more comforting.

A/N: I know it’s a bit shorter than some of the other chapters but I emotionally exhausted myself just writing this over a month or so in parts! WHEW. So much going on, eh? I’m dipping my toes back in to this fic, so any reviews are much loved!

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