Chapter 6 - Snape's Innocence
It took almost a week before Talia was feeling better. Professor Dumbledore had informed her that Professor Sinistra was feeling just fine, luckily they were both hit with only stunning spells; though they were powerful stunning spells. One day when Talia was feigning sleep she overheard McGonagall and Dumbledore saying that they had never seen that kind of strength in magic since...well they hadn't been able to finish because Alice and Lily had interrupted, claiming they wanted to see Talia.
Luckily Madam Pomfrey had acquiesced to letting her out, on the condition that Talia check in everyday. Alice and Lily greeted their friend with overwhelming joy, "I'm so glad you're okay!" Talia smiled weakly as Lily gushed over her. Both she and Alice helped Talia with her things, leading her to the Great Hall for breakfast.
Alice refused to let Talia carry her things. "I am under strict orders from Madam Pomfrey that you are to take it easy. Don't worry, we’ll have one of the boys carry your stuff back up to Gryffindor tower. I'm sure Sirius would volunteer."
"Somehow I doubt that." Talia was keenly aware of the fact that Sirius hadn't been to visit her and he didn't even show up to see her to the Great Hall with Lily and Alice. He was probably still angry at her for their little tiff by the lake. "What do you mean you doubt it? He's been to see you every night since you were hurt."
"WHAT?!" Talia turned so abruptly that Lily looked shocked. "What do you mean what? You didn't see him? Every night after detention he's been sneaking down to see you."
A wave of realization washed over Talia, the invisibility cloak! Of course, but why didn't he wake her, let her know he was there? She felt a little embarrassed about the way she had reacted; she didn't want Lily and Alice to know her true feelings for Sirius...bloody hell, she didn't even know how she felt. They must have recognized the bitterness in her voice because they looked at her awkwardly but thankfully let it alone. They walked in to the Great Hall greeted by the enthusiastic greetings of the Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and especially the Ravenclaws; the Slytherins were inauspiciously silent. Apparently the story of what happened the night Professor Sinistra was attacked was still the most talked about thing at Hogwarts. Talia looked up at the high table towards Professor Sinistra, she looked a little worse for wear but she seemed okay as she nodded her head at Talia and raised her glass.
They made their way over to the Gryffindor table where the Marauders sat huddled at the table; Talia felt a little twinge of resentment, they hadn't even bothered to welcome her back. But that feeling disappeared immediately and was replaced by one of guilt when she saw why they were huddled. It was probably the cutest thing she'd ever seen, even though it was breakfast they had a cake waiting for Talia. It was topped with chocolate icing and scrawled on top in messy handwriting was "Welcome Back Talia."
Talia blushed as she thanked her friends. A feeling of complete bliss welled up inside her; Talia had never had friends like this before. The people at Cromwell's were more like family, these people were friends. Friends that loved her, this cake and their joy at seeing her were proof of that. Breakfast was a pleasant affair as they ate their way through kippers, eggs and the beautiful cake. "We'd better get down to the pitch for tryouts." James said as he stuffed one last piece of toast in his mouth.
Sirius stood up saying, "We need to check weather conditions for the tryout. We've got until November to practice up. We need to beat Slytherin!" Lily and Alice laughed at Sirius' fanaticism while Peter just agreed heartily, "You lot can pull it off! I really thought we had the House Cup last year until Ravenclaw beat Slytherin and won it out from under us."
"That was a fluke!" James scoffed, "Never happen again."
"But they're a good team, they deserved to win." James, Sirius and Peter stared at Talia incredulously, "WHAT?!" They asked at the same time. Lily grabbed Talia from the line of fire, just in time, "Good luck guys, we'll be cheering you on."
"Are you sure she doesn't want to go sit at the Ravenclaw table?" Peter asked sardonically. "Stuff it Wormtail." Talia watched unbelievingly, she expected Lily or Alice to stand up for her, but Sirius was the one who spoke; and after she defended Ravenclaw against Gryffindor, but then again there was some Ravenclaw in her. Sirius signaled for the rest to follow and with that, the confrontation was over. Talia got the distinct feeling that, while the Marauders fancied themselves equals, when Sirius set his foot down on a matter that was the end of it. James shook his head as he grabbed Talia's things from Lily's hands. He smiled at Talia, proving that there were no hard feelings, "He must have it bad." James said as he smirked at Talia. Peter said nothing to Talia and kept his mouth shut as he pouted all the way down to the Quidditch Pitch.
Remus walked in stride with Talia and Alice, "We'll bring your things up later, if the practice gets boring we'll take a walk around the grounds." They made their way to the pitch and settled in the stands waiting for the tryouts to begin; it was a perfect day for flying. Talia, Alice, Remus and Peter sat in awkward silence, with Talia keeping as much distance as possible between her and Peter.
Talia listened as Sirius told James off for flirting when he should be getting ready to play. A very red faced Lily made her way off the field and up into the stands to watch with the rest of the group. For a moment Talia caught Sirius' eye as he looked up in the stands, and gave him a small smile. The practice seemed to be going well and Talia was a little more excited than usual watching them run plays. She had always supported Gryffindor, but now that she had friends on the team she cheered with renewed spirit.
The practice seemed to slow as the team practiced passing with the prospective players. Remus gave Talia a look that said, maybe now would be a good time for that walk. The four friends, minus Peter, who chose to stay behind, made their way out of the stands and towards the lake.
Talia took a deep breath, sensing the coming of autumn. There was a brisk feel to the air as they walked on the shores of the lake. The water rippled with the wind across the vast surface; the lake looked as if it would go one forever if the gates of Hogwarts didn't stop it. A sigh of contentment came over Talia, she was happy and most of all, she was safe. Thoughts of the attack had plagued her incessantly while she was in the hospital. These attacks didn't seem to phase anyone though, so why should she be so upset; first the carriage, then Hagrid, now she and Professor Sinistra. Why would someone do this? Was it the same person who killed their father?
These questions had burnt a hole in her mind for far too long. Today was Saturday, a day to relax and be with her friends. "Galleon for your thoughts." Talia turned to Remus and smiled at his question. "That's quite a price to pay for my thoughts, believe me they're not worth that much." Remus just shrugged, "Bet they are." Remus Lupin had always been nice to Talia, even before her new found confidence and friendliness. "Honestly, I was just thinking about these strange attacks. I am wondering who it is."
Remus looked out onto the lake; that was what you liked the best about him; he always thought before he spoke, it made it seem like he was really taking your thoughts and feelings into account. Never rushed to judge, it took him a moment before answering. "I understand what you mean, and no one seems to be too put off by it. Four attacks since school began, you'd think everyone would panic."
"Five actually, don't forget about what happen to that wizard, who was attacked by his son." Remus smiled at Talia, "I didn’t forget, but that's not exactly common knowledge now is it?" Her eyes squinted, which is always something that happened when she realized she were wrong, then she gave him a mock scowl, "Well Mr. Lupin, I daresay you are correct." He laughed at her sarcastic remark as they both continued to walk along the bank. Talia was lost in daydreams about the coming winter. She loved nature and all the seasons but she always fancied the winter snow. It made everything look so fresh and new. She looked towards the castle to see Severus Snape sitting on the front steps, absorbed in a book. She didn't really even know what was happening until she heard Lily scream. Talia snapped her head around to see Lily and Alice taking off in a sprint towards the Quidditch pitch. With a look from Remus, they both took off after them.
Talia came upon the Quidditch field to find a crowd of people standing just under the three golden hoops (through which the chasers were supposed to throw the Quaffle). Remus helped her push through the small throng of students gathered in a circle. There in the middle lay and unconscious James, with Lily kneeling down beside him. "How did this happen?" Lily asked in a shaky voice. Davey Gudgeon was the first to speak up, "I don't know. He was about to pass me the Quaffle when out of nowhere he was hit by a spell."
The crowd gasped and looked around the pitch, searching for a sign of someone lurking about. "Did anyone see who did it?" Lily was almost frantic as she spoke. The crowd shook their heads, no one said anything; everyone was scared that James was badly hurt. Lily stood up, with a decisive air, "Let's get him to Madam Pomfrey, I think he's going to be okay, Lily turned to Sirius, "don't worry, I think he'll be okay. Finish up your practice." Sirius nodded as he turned and gave Remus a look; Talia noticed the unspoken connection between them as Remus nodded his head and followed.
Talia wasn't exactly sure what she should do as she glanced at Alice and Peter, who were watching Lily and Remus float James' invisible stretcher towards the hospital wing. She settled for stealing a glance at Sirius, when he returned her look she gave him a weak smile and walked over to him. "I'm sure James will be okay." Sirius just shook his head, "I tried to slow his fall but by the time I reached my wand I barely got to him. I'm not sure how much it helped." Talia put a reassuring hand on his arm, "I know it helped…" Her sentence was lost as he looked at her with those amazing grey eyes, she tore her own away before she got lost in his gaze.
He seemed to snap out of his daze as well as he turned to Peter. "Wormtail, you didn't see anything strange did you?" Peter shook his head and then Talia watched as something caught his glance. He looked towards the castle as the entire group turned to see what he was looking at. Along the castle wall she watched Severus Snape walking, book in hand, not paying any attention the advancing throng of Gryffindors angrily bearing down upon him. To them Snape was the worst kind of Slytherin and that was all they needed to know. Sirius was in the lead as he drew out his wand and cast a spell at Snape. A look of shock covered his face as he was thrown up against the wall. Talia started running towards them as she watched him struggling to move.
"WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?!" Sirius screamed as he moved towards Snape; he was now only five or so feet away, with the crowd right behind him. They were out for blood as Talia ran to try and stop them. "What are you talking about Black?" Snape snarled; even in the precarious position he was in, he was still nasty and defiant. "You cursed James and now I'm going to curse you!" Sirius raised his arm, presumably thinking of some kind of horrible spell to throw at Snape. "NO!" Talia screamed as she ran in front of Snape, holding her arms out to protect him. "Sirius, DON'T!" Sirius' expression was blank with shock as he just stared at her.
"What do you mean, don't? He cursed James, we all know it! He's always cursing him behind his back." The rest of the Gryffindors murmured in agreement, as she watched their faces contort with dislike for Severus. Talia knew that this could not be denied, James and Severus were always battling in some way or another. Snape growled from behind her, "I don't need your help, Grace. Go away!" She turned and gave him a nasty look. "Shut it Snape, or I'll curse you myself." Turning back to Sirius, she saw his expression towards her lighten a bit, but then he tried to pull her aside to finish his business. "No Sirius, he may have cursed James before but not this time. I saw him by the front steps even before James fell. It wasn't him." The downcast looks upon the faces of the Gryffindors made Talia realize that they believed her.
All but one had that look, Sirius gave Talia an incredulous stare, "Are you actually defending him?" This confused her, Sirius did hate Snape but she thought that he was past his years of jinxing people for no reason. He had seemed so mature since the beginning of their seventh year. "Sirius Black, I am defending him because he didn't do it and if you insist on cursing him, you'll have to curse me as well." Talia stood in front of Snape defiantly, with her hands on her hips. For a moment Sirius looked as though cursing Talia was a price he would have to pay, but he dropped his wand and began to walk away. "Tryouts are over. I'll let you know by next week who made the team." With that he walked away towards the hospital wing. Peter cast Talia a nasty glare and followed him.
Alice saw the disappointed look on Talia's face and put her arm around her shoulder. "Sirius can be like that sometimes…don't worry about it.." A mixture of distress and anger clouded Talia's mind. Why was Sirius being such a git?! He never acted like that around me before… A nasty voice from behind them interrupted Talia's thoughts, "I didn't need your help, Grace." Severus barked at Talia as the spell binding him lifted and he slumped down against the wall. He righted himself as he and Talia stared at each other in a battle of wills. "Fine Severus, next time I'll let Sirius curse you into oblivion! DUMB GIT!" She shouted as she grabbed Alice by the arm and led her towards the hospital wing.
If Severus and Sirius were going to be nasty little prats, Talia didn't want anything to do with either of them. Alice pushed through the doors of the hospital wing and a wave of shouting greeted you both. "Miss Evans, head girl or not I want you OUT!" Madam Pomfrey was chivvying her away from James' bed and towards the door. "That includes ALL of you," she chastised at Remus, Sirius and Peter. "But Madam Pomfrey, he actually wants to go back out on that field and play again!" Lily complained as she was being shoved towards the door.
Madam Pomfrey closed the door solidly behind the rest of the group as Lily gave a snort. "That old bat wouldn't listen to a word I said." Talia looked at Lily uncertainly, "Is he okay?" Lily seemed to calm down a bit and smiled lightly, "The rest of him is okay but that thick head of his…" She didn't finish the rest of the sentence and just shook her head. Talia's gaze fell upon Sirius; when he caught her looking at him he lifted his chin and announced that he was going back to his room. Sirius walked past Talia as if she didn't exist, leaving her standing there with a mix of emotions welling up inside her.
It was obvious to everyone that he was angry at Talia and Lily just stood there open mouthed. "What's his problem?" The question was directed towards Talia, but Alice chose to spare her from repeating the events. Remus listened intently and turned to Talia in a whisper, "I saw Snape on the steps too. Don't worry I'll talk to him."
But somehow Talia knew that Sirius' anger had nothing to do with Snape's innocence.
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