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On the 1st of September, Sirius stood next to James on the platform, watching as Addy stood with her parents and Avery. Her father had a tight grip on her upper arm as he talked to Avery, who was nodding, while she stared blankly at the ground; Avery then told her by the hand, to which she showed no reaction, and led her onto the train. ‘Well, that was weird,’ James said.

‘What’s weird?’ Remus asked as he joined them.

‘Addy’s gone off with a snake.’

‘Willingly?’

James shrugged. ‘Seems so.’

Sirius shook his head. ‘Something’s off.’

 

At Hogwarts, Addy wasn’t present at the Welcoming Feast, seeming to go strait to bed, and the next morning she rose and readied herself, leaving for the Great Hall before anyone else had stirred. ‘What’s going on?’ Mary asked bemusedly, as she walked into the hall later with Lily and Marlene to find Addy sat alone at the end of the table, sipping slowly on some tea with a posture even more impeccable than was normal for her, her appearance spotless; her hair was straight and glossy, her makeup subtle yet enhancing, her uniform neatly pressed.

Marlene narrowed her eyes. ‘Why don’t we find out, yeah?’ she said, marching determinedly toward Addy. ‘What’s the problem, Ad?’

She looked up at them blankly. ‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘You sat with those snakes on the train. Why didn’t you sit with us?’

‘My father feels I should be associating myself with more appropriate adversaries,’ she said carefully, setting her teacup down.

‘But you hate the lot of them, or at least, you used to?’ Mary said.

‘Let’s just say that I’ve finally come to my senses.’

‘So, what? You’re not even going to talk to us now?’

Addy blinked slowly, looking bored.

‘But…we’re friends,’ Lily said beseechingly.

Addy shook her head. ‘You don’t want to be friends with me. And I won’t be needing friends anymore.’

Lily’s brow knitted. ‘But, surely you don’t believe that?’

‘It doesn’t really matter what I do or don’t believe,’ she said vaguely, before she picked up her teacup and resumed her sipping, making it obvious the conversation was over.

Marlene, Mary and Lily made their way toward the center of the table, where their group had tended to sit the year prior. ‘Somethings…not right,’ Mary said slowly.

‘Yeah,’ Marlene said. ‘She doesn’t seem like herself.’

‘Maybe something happened over holiday we don’t know about?’ Lily said.

Marlene scoffed. ‘That much is obvious. What isn’t obvious, is what happened?’

‘What are we talking about?’ James said brightly, as he plopped onto the bench next to Lily, who rolled her eyes half exasperatedly.

‘Addy,’ Mary said. ‘She’s being weird.’

‘Isn’t she always weird?’ Peter said quietly.

‘I think there’s a saying about a pot and a kettle that applies here, Wormtail,’ Remus chuckled.

Sirius scowled at Peter from his spot next to James and he looked down with a squeak.

‘I meant weird for her,’ Mary said, sighing in frustration.

‘Her father saw her off from the platform. He’s never done that before,’ Sirius said.

‘She said he wants her to associate herself with more appropriate people or something?’ Marlene said.

‘She said she didn’t need friends anymore…?’ Lily said, frowning. ‘Somethings…wrong.’

‘She keeps looking at us all…blankly…’ Mary trailed off. ‘You don’t think…’ she murmured, as if to herself, as she looked down the table at Addy. ‘Could it…but he’s not even here...although…’

‘Mary!’ Marlene waved a hand in front of her face. ‘Mind sharing with the class?’

‘Sorry, it’s just…’ Mary shook her head. ‘I mean, she’s not trying to swim with any mermaids or anything but…’

‘Of course!’ Marlene cried, looking toward Addy, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’

‘Well, she was the one that recognized it,’ Lily reasoned.

Sirius growled in frustration before he suddenly jumped up from the table and followed Addy out of the Great Hall, as she was slipping through the doors into the entrance hall after having received her timetable from Professor McGonagall. The rest of the sixth year Gryffindors shared looks briefly before they quickly scrambled from their seats to follow across the grounds, all of them finally catching her up as she came to a stop at the edge of the forest, just out of the periphery of the whomping willow’s branches. ‘Dara!’ Sirius shouted, coming to stand next to her. She stood facing the tree with her eyes closed, the only indication that she had heard him, the slight twitch in the muscles of her face being the only change in her otherwise calm exterior. ‘Dara!’ he said again, grabbing hold of her arm to shake her slightly. Her eyes snapped open then and she turned to look at his hand on her arm before her gaze traveled up to meet his. Sirius recoiled in shock. ‘That’s not Dara,’ he whispered. ‘That’s Adhara.’

‘Come on Addy!’ Mary said, stepping forward. ‘Fight it!’

Addy shook her head. ‘Just stay away from me. I’ve told you, you don’t want to be my friend.’

‘Bugger that, Addy,’ Lily said fiercely, grabbing hold of both her upper arms. ‘We’re still your friends.’

Something flashed in Addy’s eyes and she reached toward Lily before stopping abruptly, her fingers trembling terribly mere centimeters from Lily’s neck, her face crumpling into an expression of pain; she hastily shoved her hands into her hair, gripping it tightly. ‘Lily please,’ she cried, ‘I don’t want to hurt you!’

‘I know you don’t, Addy, you wouldn’t!’

Addy shook her head frantically, backing away. ‘Just stay away from me!’

‘Addy, stop!’ Marlene shrieked, just as Sirius shouted, ‘Dara!’ James and Remus cursed loudly while Lily and Mary cried out in dismay, just as Addy turned into a flailing willow branch and it struck the back of her neck, causing her to fall limply to the ground.

‘How do we get her out of there?’ Lily said, looking around with wide, frightened eyes.

James shared a look with Remus who rubbed the heels of his hands over his face roughly before he nodded. ‘Get the knot, would you Wormtail?’

‘What?’ Peter squeaked.

‘With a stick,’ James waved him away exasperatedly.

‘Oh. Right,’ he said, before he scurried away. Once he’d found an appropriate stick and plodded the knot at the base of the tree, Sirius was rushing forward and gathering Addy up in his arms.

 

When Addy opened her eyes again, she gasped and shot upright, only to hiss through her teeth and fall hastily back at the pain in her head and neck. She felt groggy and disoriented, and it took her some few moments to take in her surroundings, namely the faces staring back at her. With a jolt Addy realized she was in a bed in the hospital wing at Hogwarts. That Madam Pomfrey and Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore were watching her cautiously. That she was bound to the bed she lay in. Bloody hell! Her stomach felt like led and she gulped against the rising sense of panic. ‘What…when…’ Addy looked from face to carefully blank face, feeling terror take reign of her faculties. ‘How did I get here?’ She could hear the shrillness of her voice, but there was no way known she could stop it. ‘Why am I tied up?’

‘Miss Nott, I must insist you calm yourself,’ said Professor Dumbledore.

‘Calm myself?! Calm myself! How do you expect me to do that? Do you have any idea what I’ve done? What I’ve been through?’ she screeched, squirming against her binding. He looked at her calmly.

‘I do indeed, Miss Nott.’

‘Well that’s good, because I sure as hell don’t.’

His eyes almost seemed to twinkle again for a moment while Madam Pomfrey tutted and Professor McGonagall’s lips thinned even more. ‘Miss Nott. What is the last thing you do remember?’

Addy’s breathing was labored at that point. What had she done? ‘I…’ she shook her head, trying to put her thoughts in her muddled brain in order. When they did, her breath hitched, and she looked up at the brilliant blue eyes, grim behind the half moon spectacles. ‘Paul,’ she said thickly. She took a deep, steadying breath. ‘Wa-waking up next to P-Paul…his eyes…w-wide.’

‘Paul?’ Professor McGonagall asked.

Addy swallowed thickly. ‘Mitchel. He’s a muggle…was...’ she croaked. ‘He was a muggle…. he shared a flat with Ed…Ed Shilling.’ She squirmed again. ‘Gah…and my father,’ she ground out, closing her eyes and hissing at the sudden pain in her head and blurred vision. ‘Please, ah. It’s happening again…’

‘I am afraid, Miss Nott, that that is the reason for your being bound. It seems your father had put the imperius on you.’

‘Not surprising…I didn’t think it was supposed to hurt though,’ she said, squinting at him in pain.

‘Yes, well, as you’ve been fighting it for a good two months now, and your father has cast it remarkably strong-‘

‘Can you get it off of me?!’ she said frantically.

‘I can indeed Miss Nott. It is already partially removed, however before I do remove it completely I’d like to place you in a more placid state to review those memories of yours from the last two months.’

‘Couldn’t you have done that before waking me this much?’

Professor Dumbledore frowned. ‘I could not, as you were responsible for you waking.’ Addy’s brow knitted in confusion. ‘You walked too close to the whomping willow, Miss Nott. I believe to prevent yourself from doing harm to Miss Evans, if your friends accounts are to be believed.’

Her eyes widened. ‘Right,’ she squeaked, then swallowed thickly. ‘So, do you need me to do anything Professor?’ she said when she had gotten her voice back.

‘All I need you to do is drink this Calming Draught Madam Pomfrey has here, so that you can relax enough for me to use legilimency to enter your mind.’

Addy felt her shoulders tense. ‘Just for the few months Professor? You won’t be…erm…looking…for anything else?’

‘No, Miss Nott, I will not,’ he said with a grim smile.

Addy sighed. ‘Ok then.’

Madam Pomfrey came around to the side of Addy’s bed with a goblet Addy had just then seen her holding and held it to her lips and tipped it back for her. Once the goblet was drained, Addy grimaced and swallowed several times against the gag trying to force the potion back up, but finally managed to keep it down and felt the effects rather quickly, causing Addy to slump back into the pillows. ‘Are you ready, Miss Nott?’ Dumbledore asked, taking in her change in demeanor.

‘Mm,’ she nodded slowly, tracking his movements with her eyes as he moved to the chair beside her bed. He cupped her face in his hands, staring deep into her eyes. Images passed behind Addy’s eyes, some foggy, others that had been blurry gaining clarity. When he was finished, it could have been a few minutes or several hours for all Addy knew, she was completely knackered. ‘Is that all Professor?’ she asked quietly.

‘Yes, Miss Nott,’ he said with a grave expression. ‘I will finish removing the imperius curse, and then we will let you get your rest. It will take about a week for you to recover I believe,’ he said, glancing at Madam Pomfrey, who nodded. He waved his wand at Addy then in a complicated pattern, muttering incoherently, and she breathed a sigh of relief when he appeared to be done and released the ties that bound her to the bed. Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall congregated in the isle just out of her hearing range talking hurriedly, while Madam Pomfrey swooped in on her with a barrage of potions, insisting she drink all of them, every last drop. The next day Dumbledore returned to implore Addy to keep up an act of sorts. While her father would undoubtedly be made aware that his curse had been lifted, she was asked to maintain her newly formed relationships with the ploy of finally seeing the error in her ways, even if only under the guise of fear of further retribution. Addy asked if she could have a think on it for a while, to which Dumbledore reluctantly acquiesced, stating that if she took too long to decide, their clever rouse would be foiled.

After having taken Addy to the infirmary and given their accounts to Madam Pomfrey and Professor Dumbledore, the other sixth year Gryffindors had been instructed to leave without any further explanation. They hadn’t been given any updates or been allowed to visit either. That didn’t sit well with them at all. Sirius had snuck in late that night when he was sure Madam Pomfrey would be asleep, but Addy had been asleep as well; so, once he was sure she was, in fact, alright, he had left. When Addy had been in for a few days, Lily decided to check up on her. She felt she needed to see her for herself and sunk in while the dim light of dawn had just made the large room navigable. She sat carefully on the edge of Addy’s bed, not intending to wake her, but just the slightest dip in the mattress as Lily added her weight brought Addy out of her slumber, and she was shooting upright with a startled gasp and frantic reach for her wand. ‘Lily,’ she breathed, relaxing somewhat when she realized it was her. ‘You gave me a fright.’

‘Sorry,’ Lily said quietly, trying to convey her regret. ‘Don’t get up on my account.’

Addy gave a small smile and relaxed back into her pillows, and Lily took the opportunity to look her over. Aside from the small mark on her neck, Addy appeared relatively healthy, with no obvious physical changes, and she no longer held the blank, far off look in her eyes, though it seemed to have been replaced with a deep sadness. Lily was sure there was much more that had happened to Addy over the holiday that none of them knew about, that went beyond the curse, but wasn’t sure if it was her place to pry. Addy had always been a relatively quiet and reserved girl. ‘Are you alright now?’

Addy sighed, shaking her head. ‘I’m fine. Are you alright?’ she said, looking contrite.

‘Of course, I’m alright,’ Lily reassured her.’

‘Lily…I’m so sorry. Please-‘

‘Addy,’ Lily admonished softly. ‘You’ve nothing to be sorry for.’ Addy sighed, looking down at her hands. ‘It…was your father…that put the imperius on you?’

Addy looked up at Lily sadly, before she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She gave an almost imperceptible nod, to the point Lily thought she may have imagined it. ‘I’m…not allowed to talk about it…’ she trailed off and opened her eyes again, looking up at Lily imploringly.

Lily nodded. ‘Ok. I understand,’ she said, placing a hand to Addy’s arm comfortingly. ‘And don’t worry about notes. I’ll catch you up.’

Addy blinked rapidly, looking down again. ‘Thank you, Lily,’ she whispered.

‘You’re more than welcome, Addy,’ Lily said, feeling her own eyes tear up.

 

After the week was up, Addy was released from the hospital wing, and while none of the Slytherins had bothered to sneak in, they had obviously been informed of when she was to be released, as she was promptly engulfed in the corridor as she was leaving; most were her year mates, although Regulus and Zyleaha Burke were in tow. ‘Adhara, darling! How are you? We heard you had a run in with that mudblood!’ Jacqueline Flint cooed, while Avery wrapped Addy in a tight hug and she fought to keep her expression neutral.

‘Dueling with that Evans girl?’ Regulus asked.

‘Something like that,’ Addy said quietly, pressing her lips together. While her stoic behavior seemed completely normal to them, Addy was sure her actual mates would see right through it. They had, after all, already confronted her about her unusual activity, culminating in her frantic retreat. While Addy felt they deserved a proper explanation, she honestly didn’t even know where to start. Addy split off from the group of Slytherins in the corridor in front of the portrait hole, the fat lady giving her a stern look to which she frowned. Now she was being judged by a portrait?  She slipped through the common room and up the stairs to her dorm where Lily, Marlene, and Mary appeared to be finishing getting ready for the day.

‘Addy!’ Marlene and Mary shouted happily as Lily crossed the room to hug her. Why did everyone insist on hugging? At least Lily didn’t make her skin crawl.

‘Lily,’ Addy mumbled shyly, ‘I haven’t showered in a week….’

‘Sorry,’ Lily laughed, smiling easily. ‘We’re just so glad you’re ok now. Are you coming to class today?’

Addy nodded. ‘After I clean up.’ She pulled at the front of her robes, making an awkward face.

‘Well, hurry up then,’ Marlene said.

Addy shook her head. ‘You don’t have to wait for me.’

‘Nonsense,’ said Lily.

‘Of course we’re waiting for you,’ Mary added.

‘If you’re sure…’ Addy said hesitantly, to which the three nodded. She couldn’t seem to quell the remaining ball of anxiety that had made residence in her abdomen.

After Addy had showered and put on a clean uniform, the four of them walked to the Great Hall and took their seats for breakfast, together. Addy’s continued awkward behavior didn’t go unnoticed by her mates as she quietly picked at her food and made no effort to contribute to conversation and smiled tightly when the Marauders joined them as Sirius sat next to her, giving her a brief one-armed hug while breathing out ‘Dara.’

Addy was far too busy waging the internal battle in her mind to notice their noticing. She still had an awful lot she had to sort out. What should she do about Dumbledore’s proposal? If she turned it down, could she even get out of any obligations she was still under? She had already tried to leave. And her father obviously hadn’t been willing to accept that. If she tried to leave again he would surely do worse. He’d made so many threats over the years, she wasn’t sure which was worst. And if she accepted…did she have it in her? She wasn’t so sure. She’d never felt especially brave. Her only defense mechanism was sarcasm, which really didn’t hold up against any hexes. She still assumed she was only in Gryffindor because she asked not to be in Slytherin and she was too stupid to be in Ravenclaw. Yet she wasn’t sure she was cunning, and she’d never felt especially ambitious either. Her only ambition was to survive her family and maybe be happy someday. Somehow, she didn’t think it was in the cards for her to ever be happy. At that moment she wasn’t feeling very optimistic. Actually, she wasn’t feeling optimistic at all. At that moment she was feeling overwhelmed and oddly small. Honestly, why would Dumbledore have asked her? What good could she possibly do? She’d never fit in with that group, and she doubted she would do well now. She was a terrible actress. Unless the objective was to act awkward and weird. Addy suddenly shook her head, trying to stop the string of depressing thoughts that threatened to strand her in a pit of despair. She pulled the now crumpled timetable she’d found in her robes pocket from her bag and smoothed it out on the table.

‘Potions first,’ Lily said from where she was sat next to Addy, bringing her out of her thoughts when she smacked her hand down on Addy’s timetable and picked it up, folding it and handing it back as she stood from the table. ‘Shall we?’

Addy nodded and took a last gulp of tea, then grabbed a piece of bacon and stood to follow her and Mary. Apparently, Marlene hadn’t continued in potions after OWLs. Lily and Mary chattered happily as they descended the stairs to the dungeons. Addy heard a shuffling and heavy breathing from behind before a deep, somewhat frantic voice called out, ‘Lily! Lily, please! Wait up!’ Mary quieted, and Addy looked at Lily sideways while she chewed her bacon. The only indication that Lily had heard the approaching voice was the stiffening of her shoulders, as she continued talking in the same cheerful tone and made no move to look round. When they came to a stop outside the door to the potions classroom, which was still closed since they were a bit early, Snape caught them up in a few wheezy strides. Addy’s eyes went wide, and Mary frowned while he attempted to pull at Lily’s sleeve. ‘Can I talk to you?’ Snape muttered, apparently trying to keep Addy and Mary from overhearing, despite the fact they were right in front of them.

Lily sighed and rolled her eyes. ‘I’m not interested.’

‘Please? Just hear me out.’

From what little Addy could see of his expression around his curtain of greasy hair, he looked desperate. Lily shook her head, pulling away. ‘I’ve already done. Now leave me alone.’

Addy cleared her throat, causing Lily to look up at her through her lashes, while Snape looked at her with narrow eyes. ‘I think you should leave.’

His lip curled in a sneer. ‘No one asked you, Nott-‘

‘Maybe not,’ Addy said loudly, cutting him off. ‘But Lily did. And I think if you were really sorry, as you say you are, and if you respected her wishes, you would leave her alone.’ Mary smirked, leaning back against the wall like she was watching the telly.

Snape’s mouth twisted in anger, but he glanced at Lily, who continued not to look at him, before he nodded curtly and stalked away. Lily let out a long sigh with a ‘thank you’ breathed on the end, just as Slughorn pulled the classroom door open and his large belly proceeded him into the hallway. Addy shot Lily a small smile in answer as Slughorn started in with his usual, jovial banter. ‘Well, well, well. Come in, come in.’ He stepped back, waving his hands as if to usher them forward. ‘Lovely of you to join us, Miss Nott. Glad to see you’ve made a full recovery.’

Addy’s cheeks flushed darkly under the attention. ‘Thank you, sir,’ she said quietly before she followed Mary and Lily, frowning as she saw they had taken up seats in the front. Now she was faced with another decision. Did she sit with them? Since they’d always had this class with the Slytherins, and now, it seemed, all of the sixth years, as there weren’t that many continuing with potions in their NEWT studies, Addy didn’t know if she could get away with sitting with the other Gryffindors. Aside from Addy, Lily, and Mary, James and Sirius had also continued; there was also Arnie Macmillan from Hufflepuff, Mathew Corner and Claire Lefaye from Ravenclaw, and Snape and Avery from Slytherin. After a few awkward moments of hesitation in the aisle, Lily pulled her down onto the stool next to her. Avery came to sit next to Snape in the front row, staring across the aisle at Addy. Fantastic, she thought to herself. As if she wasn’t conflicted enough already.

As Professor Slughorn waddled to the front of the room, attention was redirected to the front table where four cauldrons sat, and as he began to talk of them, and discussion went on around her, Addy’s attention drifted elsewhere. She seemed to be barely going through the motions as they brewed the day’s potion, hers turning out merely acceptable. She’d really need to snap out of it if she ever had any sort of chance at going to healer training…. although that was really a castle in the clouds type of wish.

‘So, what did you smell?’ Lily turned to ask Addy. She and Mary had been discussing what they had smelt in the amortentia while Addy had been following distractedly behind, making their way toward the lake to meet with Marlene during morning break.

‘Oh, er…petrichor, broom polish, and… something.’

‘Something?’ Mary said, raising an eyebrow.

‘Yeah, something I couldn’t place,’ Addy shrugged, her face scrunching in thought. ‘Oh, look at that dog!’ she said, grinning suddenly.

‘Hey Evans.’ Lily paused while Addy continued toward the large black dog at the edge of the lake, who wagged its tail happily as she approached.

‘Well, aren’t you a beautiful boy,’ she said, crouching down to scratch the dog behind the ears.

‘Thanks, I’ve been experimenting with back combing.’ Addy heard the voice from behind her. She rolled her eyes at the dog, who she could have sworn snorted in amusement, before she turned her head to see Lily standing with some boy in Hufflepuff robes.

‘Er, Addy, this is Bertram Aubrey. He’s a fifth year Hufflepuff prefect. Bertram, this is Adhara Nott, but she likes to go by Addy,’ Lily said, her eyes wide in irritation as she looked at Addy. The boy stepped forward, sticking his hand out, practically in Addy’s face, causing her to pull back and the dog to growl. The boy retracted his hand hastily, muttering a ‘sorry.’

‘Good boy,’ Addy murmured to the dog, who promptly resumed the happy tail wagging, before she stood up, smiling tightly. ‘S’alright. Nice to meet you,’ she said politely, offering her own hand, which the boy shook hesitantly, shooting furtive glances at the dog still at her side.

‘Lovely to meet you,’ he said eagerly, when he seemed to regain his brain. The dog barked suddenly, and the boy finally dropped Addy’s hand. Addy smiled down at the dog and scratched behind his ears again. ‘Isn’t that the grim?’

Addy’s brow knitted, and she glanced at Mary before looking over at him. ‘Do you take divination?’

‘Er…’

Addy then glanced at Lily, who was frowning. ‘Do you actually believe in that rubbish?’

‘Well…’

‘Look Barney,’ Addy said slowly.

‘Bertram,’ he frowned.

‘Er, right. We actually have somewhere to be. We’re meeting someone. So, we’ll see you later, yeah?’

‘Well, ok…’

‘Ok, bye then!’ Mary said, waving as they quickly walked away. The dog trailed along beside them as they went to the other side of the lake closer to the forest. ‘What a tosser,’ Mary said, shaking her head, making Addy smile.

‘What did he want?’

Lily quirked a brow. ‘To meet you…’

Addy’s brow knitted. ‘But…why?’

‘Because you’re so dreamy,’ Mary said, batting her eyelashes outrageously.

‘Oh, sod off,’ Addy said, pushing her shoulder playfully, causing her to laugh.

‘Really though, he was all nervous and twitchy,’ Lily said.

Addy frowned. ‘But…I don’t even know him.’

Lily shrugged. ‘I don’t think he cares. He’s a bit of a berk, actually.’ Lily frowned, and Addy’s nose wrinkled in distaste.

‘Really Lily, you’re doing a shit job at selling this.’

‘But he’s so good looking, yeah?’ she said, pulling a face.

Addy smiled, shaking her head. ‘You’re ridiculous.’

Before they had quite reached Marlene, Avery stalked over, from seemingly nowhere, grabbing Addy tightly by her upper arm. ‘Adhara. I’d like a word,’ her growled.

Addy’s brow knitted, but she consented, telling Lily and Mary to go ahead without her. ‘I’ll catch you up later.’ Though they looked unsure, they nodded and continued toward Marlene some ten meters away. Avery steered Addy aside, just inside the tree line, his grip on her arm vicelike. ‘Bloody, ow! Could you not? Really, I don’t know why you have to touch me at all.’

‘You act as though it’s the first time I’ve…touched you,’ he said suggestively, leaning forward to breath across her face.

Addy’s eyes narrowed. ‘I act as though you disgust me, because you do.

Avery rolled his eyes and took Addy’s arm again. ‘Don’t be so dramatic, Adhara.’

‘I hate you.’

‘That doesn’t really matter. You are promised to me. You belong to me.’

‘Bollocks to that,’ Addy grumbled.

Avery looked down at the dog that had remained at her side and was now growling. ‘Where did it come from?’

‘Do I really need to explain that to you?’ Addy said blankly.

‘Whose dog is this?’

‘I don’t know, why does it matter?’

‘He’s growling at me.’

‘Maybe he doesn’t like you.’

‘I feel judged.’

‘Oh, that’s me,’ Addy said, raising her eyebrows pointedly.

Avery narrowed his eyes at her, finally releasing her arm, though he remained close. ‘Any roads, that’s not why I brought you over here.’

‘Yeah, why did you then?’

‘What do you think you’re doing with that mudblood?’

Addy stiffened. ‘Don’t call her that.’

‘You are not to be associating with her. Or any of your previous ‘mates’ for that matter.’

‘So, what? I can’t even talk to them anymore?’

‘Not outside of class, and even then, it should only be when necessary.’

‘And who am I supposed to talk to then? You?’

‘At the very least. Even though you’ve managed to get the imperius off somehow, you still need to maintain appearances.’

Addy looked at him sharply. ‘Told you about that, did he?’

‘Of course. I’m to look after you now.’ Addy frowned. ‘Your little act may have worked with Zyleaha and Jacqueline, but they’re dimwitted. If you’re not careful, your father may ask Randall to put the curse back on you.’

Addy scoffed. She was becoming more infuriated the longer he talked. ‘I was able to fight my father’s curse; do you really think Mulciber could maintain it on me?’

Avery smirked. ‘He’s gotten better at it since last year. Besides, he’s right here.’

Addy huffed, rolling her eyes, trying to keep her temper. ‘How am I supposed to make them stop talking to me then? They are my friends.’

‘Are you so sure they feel the same way?’ Addy scowled. ‘And any roads, I’m sure you’ll think of something to deter them. You may find they’re better off without you. You wouldn’t want anyone else to get murdered on account of you, would you? Not that it matters to me either way, I can’t be bothered, but you’ve already so much death hanging over your head, don’t you think?’

Addy’s face crumpled in sad defeat, and Avery gained a triumphant grin. He reached up to run an index finger down her cheek lightly, before he hooked it under her chin, lifting her face to bring her gaze to his. ‘Anything else I should know?’ she said monotonously.

‘Yes. There’s a Sacred Twenty-Eight Gathering the first Friday of every month. You’ve already missed September, but you’ll be expected in October.’

‘Bleeding hell, you’re taking the piss, right?’

‘I most certainly am not. And that’s another thing. You need to mind your manners. All that cursing you do needs to stop. It isn’t becoming.’

‘Yeah, well, your face isn’t becoming, and you can sod off.’

Avery grabbed her face around her chin roughly. ‘You would do well to remember your place, Adhara. And heed my warnings.’ He pushed her away and turned to storm back toward the castle, and Addy shot a rude hand gesture at his back before sighing and crossing her arms with a frown.

Addy came out of the line of trees, looking despondently at her friends. This would prove difficult. Avery had always rubbed her the wrong way, more so since starting Hogwarts. And now she’d have to spend even more time with him and play along. In earnest. She was going to need a drink…or twelve. Just to get through the day. It wasn’t even lunch time yet. Addy sighed morosely and crouched down to scratch behind the dog’s ears again. ‘Well. I guess there’s that decided then. If I have to be stuck in this lot, then I may as well be of some use.’ The dog whined in a questioning way and Addy smiled sadly. ‘I don’t know where you’re from, but I do hope you don’t go too far. Something tells me I’ll be short on friends her very shortly.’ The dog whimpered. ‘But he didn’t say anything about dogs, now did he?’ She scratched under his chin for a while before ruffling the fur over his head and down his back. ‘Well. See you later, I hope.’ The dog barked softly, and she smiled sadly again before she turned to head back to the castle, determined to agree to Dumbledore’s request.

 

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