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 A/N: I'm baaaack, witches! Sorry for the wait, the week's been absolutely hectic with all the uni work. To be honest, I wanted to post this chapter yesterday but it was unedited, and I was...well a was a lazy arse

Hope you'll enjoy it! Oh, and thank you all for your comments, guys, they really keep me going <3

 

"NO"

"Come on! You didn't even—"

"Absolutely not," Easton kept walking with Penelope following her like a newborn hippogriff.

She groaned in exasperation, "Why are you always like this?"

The Hufflepuff had almost bumped into Easton when she suddenly stopped.

"Like what?" her blue eyes were glaring murderously, left brow lifted as if daring Penny to continue.

And she did. Sometimes Easton wondered why she hadn't been sorted into Gryffindor instead, for Penelope Abbott was thick-headed, opinionated and, for the lack of a better word, an attention whore, "Pretty please?" she pouted.

"I am not talking to Andrew for you," Easton fumed and continued her path to the Wooden Bridge.

"But you know him, you can...

"No."

"Please! I'll do anything!"

Easton took out a worn out sketchbook from her bag, "I don't need anything," she simply replied.

"I'll do your Herbology homework for a month!"

She gave Penny an unimpressed side glance, "You suck at Herbology."

Penelope opened her mouth to object but then closed it because, well, it was true. They were both pants at studying. It was one of the many things that had brought them together in the first place.

With a dramatic sigh worthy of a broadway diva, she lowered her eyes and whispered, "I have nothing to offer."

Ignoring her friend's antiques, Easton took hold of her very muggle pencil and started sketching the view from the bridge. It had always mesmerized her, and every single year she came out here to try and capture the beauty of the foggy Scottish hills.

"If I push too hard it's because I want things to be better," Penelope almost cried.

It didn't take Easton long to recognize the words. Her pencil stopped millimeters from touching the paper as she slowly turned her head to face the blond, "I want us to be better. I want you to be better," Penelope solemnly declared.

"Are you seriously quoting Barbara Streisand to me?"

Penny broke her miserable act and cracked a smile, "Is it working?"

"No."

"Easton!" she whined, "don't be such a wench!"

"I can't help it, Penny," Easton smiled sarcastically at her, "I'm a Slytherin, you see."

They both stood in the middle of the massive bridge, Easton with a sketchbook in her hands, Penelope following her with a constant pout of a five-year-old. Easton gave a long and thoughtful look to the magnificent view that lied before them and brought a pencil to the paper, starting with a few gentle strokes.

Penny's face, devoid of a iota of happiness, morphed into a grimace of confusion.

"Again? You're drawing this shit again?"

"I sure am," Easton drawled in a surprisingly good American accent.

"Why are you—"

Easton let out an almost animalistic growl and glared at Penelope, "I'll talk to Andrew if you sod off and leave me alone, deal?"

Her friend's face instantly lit up with a bright smile as she reached to hug Easton but the latter quickly jumped away, barely managing to escaping the torture, "Thank you, Thank you, Than—"

"GO AWAY," the murderous yell seemed to bring Penelope to her senses, and the Hufflepuff slowly started retreating to the West Wing, an elated smile still on her face. "Thank you" she mouthed but Easton only dismissed her with a middle finger and returned to the sketching.

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Easton walked the corridors, desperately trying to warm herself by rubbing her numb palms together and then breathing on her hands to bring them to life. She had spent nearly an hour drawing in the cold with only a scarf and a set of thin robes, which definitely had had its toll. However, it had been worth it, Easton decided, for she had managed a nice sketch.

It was in that sophisticated state that Easton met face to face with her beloved sister. The happy and rather unexpected family reunion took place near the Grand Staircase, where Josefine was heading to get to the Ravenclaw common room. Easton still couldn't understand why in the world had the Sorting Head put her sister into the House that prided itself on having the most academically gifted students, when Josefine was anything but. And Easton had been sorted into Slytherin. Go figure.

"What are you doing here?" Josefine asked, her perfectly arched brows furrowed.

"Well hello to you too, Josie, it's ever so nice to meet each other in the castle that we both happen to be studying at," Easton's voice was dripping with venomous sarcasm that had clearly gone unappreciated by her little sister. Josefine always had a hard time understanding Easton's jokes. Or any human emotion for that matter.

"Never you mind," she huffed indignantly and made to leave.

"Wait," Josefine stopped and turned to Easton, irritation evident in her almond-shaped brown eyes, "Has mother told you about Christmas?"

"You mean the party? Yes, of course she did," she scoffed at the obviousness of this, "I can hardly wait for the next Hogsmeade trip to buy a new dress," and then suddenly became extremely serious and suspicious, "Why?"

Easton knew it was a long shot—trying to get to her sister—but nevertheless hoped that just this once Josefine would at least try to listen, "Doesn't it worry you one bit?"

"Should it?"

Yeah, that's pretty much it.

"Did mother...care to share the "guest list" with you by any chance?"

Josefine thought hard for a minute. It never took her longer.

"Evan told me the Rosiers were coming, oh and the Malfoys, and...and someone else," she furrowed her perfect feathery brows again, which made Easton worry that Josie would truly overexert herself, "I don't remember really. Why are you so interested anyway?"

The Rosiers and the Malfoys, Easton thought with a scoff, wouldn't be surprised if Father's invited all his Slytherins buddies. What a great school reunion indeed: a tad of black magic, one sacrifice and an innocent virgin for dessert—classic.

"Well there's your answer, Josie."

"I don't get it."

Of course you don't. 

"Josie, have you read the Profit lately?"

"Oh no, it's too gruesome," Josefine wrinkled her elfin nose, "with all those headlines, sweet Salazar..."

Easton quirked a brow at the exclamation.

"You realize you're in Ravenclaw, right?"

"Yes. So?"

She opened her mouth to give a full explanation but then decided against it, for it was a battle already lost.

Easton sighed in defeat, only now feeling the weight of the day coming down on her, "Just...be careful, Josie, alright?"

What followed, she absolutely had not anticipated.

"Why are you so nice?" Josefine screeched, sounding almost offended, "don't you dare being nice! If you're nice than I'll have to be nice and I really don't want to be nice, especially right now. So...so stop it!"

Easton was taken aback by the little fit of spoiled hysterical ego-maniac and could only manage a slight nod, "Right," she concluded, unsure how to react, and then looked her sister in the eye, imploring her to listen, "Still, do be careful, Jo. I'm not kidding. Malfoys, Lestranges, Mulcibers—they're dark, the lot of them, okay? They—"

"Are those really my two favorite cousins?"

Easton felt her face pail and legs turn to wobbly jelly sticks at the sound of that voice.

"What a treat!"

Josefine, however, instantly brightened at the sight of her favorite sibling, "Evan!" she smiled as if Easton hadn't been trying to warn her against the evil spawn this whole time. Said evil spawn, in his turn, looked as smug as ever in his immaculate robes with a shiny prefect badge pinned against his chest and a devilish grin plastered on his pointy face.
Easton couldn't help but wonder if Even had overheard her conversation with Josefine. She nervously bit her lip, trying to shake off the eerie feeling she got every time he stood nearby and suddenly caught the Rosier heir looking directly at her with the smile that most girls found charming; the same smile that made her want to simultaneously vomit and run as far away as possible.
"...are you, Easton?"

Apparently, she blacked out for a bit.

"Am I what?

Josefine threw her a disdainful glare and then looked to Evan with nothing short of pure admiration.

"She is," she replied curtly.

Evan looked thrilled by the answer, and Easton really didn't like it. She also wasn't quite happy about being the center of discussion when she had absolutely no idea what it was about.

"That is simply wonderful, Easton," exclaimed Evan looking like a content cat.
Easton seriously needed to keep up with that conversation because oh boy, she really didn't like the look in her cousin's eyes.

"Hey, Josie, do you mind if I borrow your sister for a while?" Easton could feel his hand finding her upper arm rather gently and tried to suppress the anxiety that was building up in her chest.

"Oh, please do," Josefine laughed in a very pure-bloodish sophisticated manner that made her look awfully like their Mother, paying no heed to the grimace of complete horror on her sister's face.

The next thing Easton knew, Evan's grip was no longer gentle but painfully barbaric; it would surely leave marks on her arm, which wasn't something she wasn't used to. Being a rebellious teen in a Greengrass household taught Easton to take a punch and then another, and with time she had perfected the art of Concealment Charms (Lily was surprised to see that Easton knew at least those).
Evan was dragging her down the corridor like a duffle bag, and Easton was finding it somewhat hard to keep up with his pace without stumbling.

"In here," he barked and shoved her into a broom cupboard, promptly shutting the door behind them.

Easton could hear her heartbeat echoing in her head while she stood, plastered to a wall, not daring to move in en endless wait for what Evan would do next. Which she absolutely hadn't expected to be a laugh. A merciless, cold and blood-curdling kind of laugh.

"Tinny, Tinny, Tinny," he spoke in a manner one would reprimand a little child, shaking his head in disappointment .

Easton was eyeing Evan like a terrified lamb watching out for a devious predator, who would come at her at any moment, "You're making it really hard for me to look out for you, do you know that?" Rosier came a little closer, towering over her. His proximity made her tilt her head to the left a little, eyes still locked on him, "With that long tongue of yours... you've got to be careful. You never know who might be dropping eaves, little cousin."

Oh buggering bloody fuck. 

"It wasn't a lie though, now was it?" she finally found some courage to speak up, her voice unsteady, "what I said. With all of you being—"

"Tut-tut, Tinny, don't disappoint me."

Easton scoffed at the remark and received and scathing glare in return, "You don't suppose I'm so daft as to think that this Christmas party is nothing but a merry little reunion, right?" she narrowed her eyes at Evan.

"Now aren't you a little Auror in the making?" he sneered, "Fret not, ickle Tinny, soon enough you'll see it for yourself. Just don't go around declaring your silly assumptions for the whole school to hear, will you?"

Easton knew he was ready to dismiss her. She could tell it by the way his stance was no longer threatening and the way his dull eyes bore no hatred but the usual irritation that was certainly mutual. And everything would've ended right there and then, had she not spoken again, "Or Lord Voldemort is going to come for me, is that right, Evan?"

He stilled for a moment, just looking at her as if deciding what to do next. Kill her? Torture her? Both?

"Or should I say Tom Riddle?" Easton said with a mocking smile, enjoying the way way Evan's eyes widened in surprise, "Yes, I've read grandfather's diaries, Evan, I know who he is. In fact, I know more than I let on about your little fan club of psycho groupies. How did you get the membership, ha? Kill a muggle or two? One of those families reported to be murdered in their own—"

"Shut up, Easton—"

"I will not!" she yelled, amazed by her own fierceness, "How can you do it, Evan? Don't you realize it is one thing to be a bigoted arsehole and quite another being a bloody murderer?"

Evan, however, truly looked the part right now: his jaws clenched tightly, nostrils flaring with rage, eyes dark and ruthless.

"If you know what's good for you, Easton, you're going to shut your mouth and never—and I repeat for that little brain of yours—never disgrace the Dark Lord's name again."

Easton smiled, "You should know by now that I clearly don't know what's good for me, Evan. You can play your little Death Eater game all you want but you're going to lose, all of you. The world you know is going to crumble, and your Dark Lord will leave all of you useless puppets to suffer the aftermath of his demise—"

The sound of a slap knifed through the palpable tension of the small cupboard room. Easton instantly pressed a hand to her right cheek, feeling it burn under her palm—there was a little blood on her skin, the blood he had spilled.

She didn't make a single sound. Easton only lifted her eyes at Evan with cold indifference to show him that he hadn't hurt her. He never could. None of them did.

"You're a disgrace to our family," spat Evan and suddenly gripped her by the collar of the robes, pulling her closer as if she was a doll. Easton held his eyes defiantly, though she could feel tears prickling in her eyes. She wouldn't cry in from of him. She couldn't.

"If I hear any more nonsense from you, It'll be more than just a slap, Tinny. Hope we're in the clear," he let go of her abruptly, and Easton almost tripped, her knees to weak to keep her standing. Luckily she was quick enough to grab on to one of the shelves to steady herself, "It was rather unpleasant," Evan grumbled and rubbed the hand he'd slapped her with.

"Fuck you, Evan," spit Easton.

Evan chuckled as if she'd just told him the funniest joke and opened the cupboard door, letting cold air into the stuffed room.

"Behave, little cousin," he winked at her a left, leaving the door open wide.

Anyone could see Easton leaning against the shelves, her robes disheveled, hair looking like a Fwooper nest and now filthy tears streaming down her cheeks, burning her skin like a branding iron, forever staining it with shame.

She hated it. All of it.

But most of all she hated herself for being so helpless and useless in the war that'd been raging right under her nose all those years. She hated that her family—the people who were supposed to support and love her—regarded her as a blood traitor. It stung, yes, despite the fact that she was proud of what stood behind that name.

And yet some part of her, the part that was naive enough to believe in familial bonds, that little girl, who wanted her father to smile back at her and her mother to put her silly drawings on the refrigerator like Penelope's did, wanted to fit in. Wanted to feel included.

And here she was, a traitor to her own family and an enemy to the rest.

Easton used to think it was badass. Now she simply felt...lonely.

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Easton closed the cupboard door and waited another fifteen minuted for the classes to begin, so that she could get to the dorms unseen by the students. What a treat it would've been for them, however, to see a crying Slytherin with a broken lip and a slap print on her cheek? The Gryffindors alone would've been ecstatic.

Brushing her hair, that now hung a little passed her shoulders, with her fingers to make herself look a tiny bit presentable, Easton brushed away the tears with the back of her hand and stepped into the corridor with a deep sigh. She was already late for Herbology, she figured, and ever so selflessly decided not to interrupt the lesson. In reality, Easton couldn't care less about the subject. She was going to drop it anyway.

Walking back to the Entrance Hall, she looked around to make sure the coast was clear and made for the dungeons, when suddenly a barking laughter echoed through the cold stone of the majestic walls. She new that laughter. It used to make her insides twirl, used to turn her into a daft Ravenclaw bimbo as Penelope had so kindly put it. But now all Easton felt was fear.

She couldn't be seen. Not like this.

Panic was paralyzing every part of her body and brain, apparently, as Easton continued standing in the middle of the hall, helplessly looking around for a way to escape.

The staircase!

Just as she'd seemingly found a perfect sanctuary for her sorry arse under the Grand Staircase, where only minutes ago she'd shared a sweet conversation with her dear sister, the laughter got louder. So, so, so loud...

"Easton?"

She grimaced in embarrassment without facing him.

"Greengrass!" Sirius called with the usual cheerfulness and then added to his friend in an angry whisper, "Just wait a minute, Wormtail, will ya'? Circe, so impatient. Hey, alright, Greengrass?"

Seeing no possible ways of escaping this encounter, Easton tried her best to cover her face with her hair and finally turned around to face the music. Sirius was smiling at her brightly in all his rogue-ish glory, and next to him stood a short chubby fellow with downy dull blond hair and beady watery eyes that were regarding her with surprising scorn.

"Hello, Sirius," she waved at them weakly, hoping that they wouldn't come closer. She wouldn't be able to hide her war paint then.

"Why aren't you in Herbology?" asked Sirius, smiling playfully, "Not skipping by any chance, are you?"

Easton couldn't help but grin back at him but just as her lips stretched, she winced from a stinging pain.

"Are you okay?"

Fuck.

"Yeah, perfectly," Easton dismissed unconvincingly, stifling the pain in her broken lip, "I—I have to go though, was nice—"

"Wormtail, tell James I'll be there in a bit, okay?" She heard Sirius instruct his friend.

Oh, hell no

Easton headed to the dangeound with a newfound energy before Sirius could stop her but she had no business playing races with a Gryffindor Beater. That's why he'd caught up with her in only three steps and took her lightly by the upper arm. By sheer instinct Easton torn it away, wincing at the pain once again, and Sirius most definitely noticed that.

"What happened, Easton?" He asked, voice no longer cheerful nor playful.

Easton turned away, hiding behind her hair as if it were a curtain. But Sirius knew better and reached for her chin, gently taking it between his thumb and index finger to make her face him.

"Fucking hell—who...who the fuck did that, Easton?"

The evident pity in his eyes made her sick. Easton couldn't bare seeing Sirius Black look at her like that. Anyone but him.

He was one part of her life that had nothing to do with her crazy family, the beautiful eye-candy that brought her joy and made her school days seem bearable. He didn't know who she was, and she loved it.

Now it was ruined. She didn't even have that.

Easton jumped away from Sirius, his soft fingers slipping from her face. She missed the feeling of him touching her. But then, who wouldn't?

"No one," she snapped, "I fell, everyone knows what a clumps I am."

The skeptical look Sirius was giving her clearly meant he didn't take her bullshit seriously.

"You aren't going to tell me then," he concluded with a sigh, "I can respect that. But it doesn't mean it isn't stupid."

Easton was a bit taken aback by his reaction, "Right," she nodded, puzzled.

"At least let me take you to the Hospital Wing—"

"I'm fine, really—"

"Your lip is bleeding—"

"I can take some blood, I'm not a sissy—"

"I didn't say you were I just—"

"Yeah right," she huffed and tried to smile again, which was a bad idea, "we should probably stop interrupting each other."

Sirius chuckled, "We probably should."

And then Easton noticed that he wasn't wearing his school robes. And that he was, in fact, skipping Herbology, too. That sneaky bastard.

However, Easton had to admit that a tight white muggle shirt and a pair of black jeans looked insanely sexy on him. Complemented by his shaggy raven hair and a shadow of stubble on his face, Sirius looked like one of the bad boys from the American movies she and Penny loved so much.

"Heading somewhere?" Easton asked, eyeing him suspiciously.

"More like from somewhere. The boys and I have go—em, we were erm, we were at Hagrid's, a nice little lad he is," he blabbered. Sirius Black blabbered.

Wasn't it her job?

Easton let out a soft chuckle, "He might be nice, however, I wouldn't be so sure about 'little'."

Sirius let out a slightly shaky laugh, his hand reaching to ruffle his hair. Easton used to do that when she was nervous. Interesting.

"I'm going to go then," she said.

"You sure you're alright and there's nothing you—"

"One hundred and fifty percent positive," she nodded suppressing a smile.

"There's no such—"

Easton rolled her eyes and huffed,"Bugger off, I failed Arithmancy. See you around, Sirius".

Do not smile you fucking moron

"Se ya', Greengrass," he winked giving her a two fingered salute from his brow and headed for the Courtyard.

Maybe Easton didn't feel so lonely after all.

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