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     There were too many things for a seventeen year old inferius to worry about. I do wish that I could shut off the part of my brain that cared whether I would survive or not. There is my problem: I have realized that I don’t want to be human. And the more I tire of my human side, the more I realize that the Inferius part of me is taking over my brain.

    I looked over the Inferi section of my D.A.D.A textbook and sighed. Inferius are naturally fearless, as there is no known way to kill them. Humans, on the other hand, are intrinsically self-preserving. I myself was a conflict of interest.

    “Can you get moving?” Sirius asked irritably, from behind a bookcase. “I have to get back to the common room,” he said, coming around the corner and spotting me leaning over my textbook. “Are you really studying right now?” he asked. I slammed the book shut and shoved it into his hands.

    “Just take this to the back,” I mumbled, starting a new pile of returned books. Sirius turned around without a word, raising his eyebrows at my quick temper.

    Sirius and I had been silent for most of our second detention together. He had been silent all week after last weekend’s loss to Slytherin to be quite frank.

    I plopped another book down in front of me, and the title caught my eye. The Genealogy of Purebloods was a relatively new book. I turned it on its side, and the binding was well-worn already. I checked the copyright: 1965. I looked back over my shoulder again, and Sirius was still lost in the shelves.

    I let out a deep breath, and opened the book to the Page of Contents. Scanning it, I found the name Black fairly quickly, and turned to page 7. I saw Sirius’ name next to a fitting portrait of him; his tie was askew, and he was making faces at his relatives. Just next to Sirius was Regulus, and he was looking forward with a steely expression. He caught my eye suddenly, and I slammed this book shut as well.

    “What are you banging about?” Sirius asked, coming back to my table.

    “Oh, nothing,” I said, taking a breath and lightening my voice. “Say, Sirius what was your family life like?”

    “Are you trying to provoke me?” he asked nastily, grabbing the book out of my hand and looking at the title. “Nice, Malkin.” He tossed the book back on the table and wandered back into the library. I peeked over the pile of books, and saw that Madame Pince had her crooked nose poked into a book herself, and was not watching us. I stood up too and followed him back into the withered towers of books.

    “I’m sorry, Sirius,” I apologized grittily, clearing my throat.

    “What do you care about my family anyway?” he asked sitting on the floor against a bookcase, a cigarette in his hand.

    “Sirius, you have to put that out,” I said, eyeing his muggle lighter warily.

    “Why?” he asked through his teeth as the cigarette hung from his lips.

    “I’m a prefect.”

    “You weren’t a prefect that night you snuck out after hours with me,” he fought back, taking the cigarette out of his mouth and putting it back in an almost empty pack.

    “Don’t say it like that,” I said with disgust. He kept flicking his thumb against his lighter, and the fire appeared only for a moment before burning out again.

    “Like what? Like how it was?” Sirius asked, nudging my arm with his elbow. I shied away from Sirius, folding my arms over my knees.

    “Like I’m some girl that was so easily swayed by your so-called charms,” I said frankly, turning my head to look Sirius in the eye.

    “Weren’t you?” Sirius asked vulnerably, tilting his head to the side.

    “Not really,” I said vaguely.

    “Not really?” Sirius chuckled to himself. “What does that mean?”

    “It means maybe you aren’t as charming as you would believe. And maybe, even if you are charming, it doesn’t work on everyone.”

    Sirius looked back at me, and I keep my gaze even and unapologetic. He clicked his lighter again, and the flame flickered. I shrugged slightly, and that seemed to make Sirius laugh.

    “You’re probably right,” Sirius admitted, leaning his head against the bookcase. “So that means you don’t find me charming?” he asked quietly, his head lolling over to look at me again.

    “I don’t know what that really means,” I said carefully, looking Sirius up and down, “but I do know we have to get back to work so when Filch comes to collect us we don’t get another week of detention for slacking off.” I stood up and extended a hand towards Sirius. “Come on.”

     




     

    “Mum said that we could visit their graves when we get home for break,” Mary whispered to me as Professor McGonagall wrote on the board in the front of the classroom.

    “I don’t want to visit their graves.” I looked up at the board and copied down her notes. “And mum should visit their graves, it’s her fault.”

    “She did tell them not to go out there,” Mary debated, giving our foster mother the benefit of the doubt.

    “She told them to get out of the house. Of course they would go hang out with the rest of the stoners,” I scoffed, pressing the tip of my quill harder into the parchment.

    “Well, I’ll be going,” Mary said defiantly. “Whether it was her fault or not, they still deserve our respect.” Mary knew too well how to press my buttons.

    “You’re right,” I mumbled. “We’ll go.”

    “I know,” Mary said happily, smiling with satisfaction at being right.

    Our foster mother was no monster. She was a very understanding woman, in fact. When Dumbledore came to say that Mary and I were magical, she understood. I was just never able to get on board with her. And I don’t know if it was because I was already so independent or if it because she was so controlling, but I could never fully accept her as my mother.

    Mary was different. Mary came from a place that she remembered, a place where she was treated like complete shit. I came from a place of hope. I came from a place that I could just barely remember, a place that I didn’t even know was real.

    “But dad?” I tugged on my father’s white polo shirt. My father looked down upon me.

    “Yes dear?”

    “What about the fourth pathway?” My father tilted his head and furrowed his brow. “What about the other one? What if you choose to stay exactly where you are?”

    He smiled serenely, and laid a hand on my back gently.

    “That is the question that you must keep on asking, my dearest. What about the other one?"

    I shook my head, and goosebumps rose on my arms. That memory…it must have been a figment of my imagination, but it was there. And I remember it word for word.

    So Mary and I had different opinions on our foster home. But it was a home, and I was safe there. And I was almost out anyway. As soon as the year was over, I would be taking my small amount of gold and moving out and not worrying about anything anymore. I wouldn’t have to worry about Mary, or Sirius, or Regulus, or Remus, or even Madame Pomfrey and her nagging caring.

    Just six and a half more months, and I would be free to do whatever I wanted.  

     




     

    Regulus and I sat next to each other in the boathouse, our legs swinging over the iced-over water. My feet didn’t nearly reach the surface, and Regulus’ toes rested on the top of the lake.

    “So you and Sirius are brothers,” I opened with. Regulus had taken to already being at the boathouse whenever I arrived, and I went with it. It was difficult to get a straight answer out of him, so I didn’t bother asking why.

    “Sirius is my older brother,” he confirmed.

    My mouth dried at Regulus’ recognition that Sirius was his brother.

    “So how come you hate each other?” I asked. Our ankles collided, and I quickly pulled back my leg.

    “Sirius does not agree with our family’s views on the Wizarding World,” he said cryptically.

    “Which are?” I asked, probing. Regulus sat up a little bit straighter at this.

    “I’d rather not discuss that, Charlotte,” he dictated. When Regulus emphasized the t in my name, I felt like I was being reprimanded. I  

    “Okay,” I said warily.

    So what were his family’s views on the Wizarding World? I mean, I knew Sirius had an incredibly progressive mindset for being a Pureblood, so how far off from his family was he? And if Regulus agreed with his family, what was he doing talking to me?

    “So why did you agree to go on that date with Lupin?” Regulus asked, ducking his head down and refusing to make eye contact with me. I could not fathom why Regulus would care about that. Or how he would know about that.

    “I don’t exactly know myself,” I answered honestly. Regulus did not respond. I know he wanted more of an answer than that. “There are some days that I care about what is happening to someone else. And Sirius and James were poking fun at him,” I finally admitted aloud.

    “Poking fun,” Regulus murmured, smirking slightly. His musings made me roll my eyes.

    “So you and Sirius really hate each other?” I finally got out.

    “Yes,” he said after a second, as though he had think about it. I thought it was time to depart from the Sirius questions. “Are you muggleborn?”

    This question struck me as quite odd. We had just discussed how Regulus didn’t want to talk about his family’s views. And now he’s bringing up my magical lineage.

    “I don’t know,” I decided upon. “I don’t know my parents.”

    “You never even met your father?” Regulus asked again, pushing me further. I clammed up at this question.

    “Why are you asking me these things, Regulus?” I finally found the courage to ask.

    “I want to know more about you,” Regulus said, placing his hand on the deck in between us.

    “That doesn’t seem true,” I said skeptically. I cleared my throat and crossed my hands in my lap.

    “Well, you can’t prove my intentions, Charlotte.” The word intentions made me tense up.

    “That’s exactly the problem.” Regulus smiled his tiny smile into his lap and tapped his pointer finger on the wooden dock.

    I’d realized that Regulus was more mature than his age. He seemed to already be an adult somehow. I peeked over at him; his hair was short, clipped up behind his ears, but it still flew about silkily in the wind. His back was like an iron rod and his eyes were alert but far away from here.

    Regulus placed a hand on top of mine and turned it over so my palm faced up. I glanced at him, and his eyes were still cast down on his lap. He laced his fingers into mine and squeezed my palm gently. My fingers curled onto the back of his hand and my heart beat out of my chest. 

     




    A/N: Hello everyone! Thank you for reading this far into the story, and I hope you are enjoying it's progression. Let me know how it's going down in the review box below. 

    Thanks again!

    blackballet

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