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Chapter 6: Refusals
Although she wasn’t hungry, Lucy came down early for breakfast on Monday morning. She had successfully avoided seeing the Marauders all weekend by purposely putting off all the essays due for this week until Saturday and feigning a bad cold so she could stay in bed on Sunday. However, Monday had to eventually come, and with it came the end of her excuses for not talking to Sirius and her other Gryffindor associates. She had been so tormented by this thought that she had been unable to sleep at all the night before and had resigned herself to coming down to the Great Hall before most of the other students so she could think in peace.
Technically, she had cheated on her boyfriend, even though said boyfriend was a cheating scumbag himself, one that she had yet to properly confront. She and Severus hadn’t really talked since their romantic moment on Friday evening, and she wasn’t sure if he was avoiding her on purpose or if he too thought she was busy wiping her nose and writing essays all weekend. I hope he doesn’t think I’m avoiding him, she thought, this newfound third option causing her stomach to turn a bit.
Suddenly, a shriek from above interrupted her thoughts. The morning owls had begun to filter in, dropping off letters and packages in their wake. Lucy looked around for the first time since sitting down, noticing that students were now seated all around her. Blimey, how long have I been sitting here? She frowned, glancing over at the Gryffindor table. Sure enough, the Marauders were sitting there, but Lily wasn’t yet among them, and they hadn’t noticed her either. Good.
Unexpectedly, a letter dropped into her lap.
Lucy picked it up, checking to ensure that it was indeed addressed to her, and opened it slowly. She recognized her mother’s tidy cursive at once.
Hope you are doing well in your classes.
I’m sure you’ve heard, but your brother proposed at Thanksgiving.
We’re having a party over the holiday, and I don’t want any family arguments or jealousy to detract from the festivities, so don’t bother coming home unless you have a ring of your own.
See you at the end of term.
She blinked, unsure of what to think. Naturally, she didn’t like spending lots of time with her family anyway, and she couldn’t imagine being jealous of anyone who had to spend her life with Lucius. Still, it was a little hurtful to see her mother’s disappointment made so plain.
“Is that your invitation, then?” A voice said softly. Lucy looked up to see Narcissa Black standing in front of her, looking like a porcelain doll as usual. She noted the brilliant square-cut emerald surrounded by diamonds on a white gold band, looking cumbersome yet elegant on Narcissa’s delicate finger. This ring was part of a set of treasured jewels that had been passed down in pureblood Slytherin families for years, and so naturally there had been no hesitation in choosing it to symbolize the joining of the houses of Malfoy and Black.
“Oh, right, to your engagement party.” Lucy offered a small smile. Bella’s got to be driving herself mad with jealousy over that rock. “Erm, yes, but I don’t think I’m going to make it. I’ve… I’ve got a lot of reading to catch up on over the break.”
“Oh.” Narcissa said quietly. “Well… that’s too bad. I wish you could come.”
Lucy nodded, wishing their exchange could be over. Narcissa was a nice girl, but to say they were friends would be a bit of a stretch.
“At least you’ll have Severus to keep you company.” Narcissa added.
“What?” Lucy looked up, surprised.
“Lucius invited him, but he said he couldn’t go because he had agreed to help Slughorn with potions inventory or something.” She met Lucy’s eyes. “Between you and me, I think he’s just not the party type.”
Lucy laughed softly. “You’re probably right.”
Narcissa looked like she might sit down, but then she looked up to see Severus entering the Hall and heading over to where they were. “I saw you two the other night.” She added softly with a slight smile. “I know he’s a little unorthodox, but it’s sort of sweet, I think.”
Lucy gave her an embarrassed smile, not knowing quite what to say.
“Anyway, I’ll see you around.” Narcissa said finally. “Happy Christmas.”
“You too.” Lucy said, watching her go, feeling her aversive emotions toward the girl who planned to become Mrs. Malfoy in the near future melt around the edges. Narcissa Black may have been just another stuck-up, shallow pureblood girl, but Lucy had to admit that it took courage to make such a long-lasting decision and face such high expectations at the tender age of sixteen.
“Hey.” Severus said, sitting down beside her and pouring himself a cup of pumpkin juice. He almost kissed her on the cheek in greeting, but settled for reaching for her hand under the table instead, remembering that whatever they had together had not yet been made public. “I’m going to assume that’s not your invitation to the party of the year.” He gestured to the letter.
“Good guess.” She sighed. “Frankly, I’m sort of grateful she gave me two weeks’ notice before telling me not to bother getting on the train.”
“Are you upset?” He asked, confused. She had always been so negative about her family.
“No.” She shook her head, smiling at him. “Especially now that I know you’ll be staying here, too.” She squeezed his hand slightly. “But why can’t Slughorn do his own inventory?”
“Hmm?” He took a sip of juice. “Oh, that. I’m not really helping him.”
Lucy met his eyes, puzzled.
“You know how I am about my family.” He said, lowering his voice slightly. “I never go home over the holidays. I wish I could stay here over the summer, too.”
“Oh.” Lucy smiled sympathetically. “Yeah, I kind of do too.”
“Well, it’s about time for class.” Severus observed. “You ready to go?”
“Sure.” She replied, standing up and getting her things together.
They were about to leave when they found their path blocked by Sirius and the others.
“How come you’ve been avoiding me, Luce?” Sirius said, cocking his head at her.
“Gee, Sirius, I would tell you, but that would require that I talk to you.” Lucy frowned, attempting to push past him. “Leave me alone.”
“Fine.” He said, thrusting his hand out and pressing it against the doorway so as to block her escape. “Enough games. Lily filled me in already.” Lucy now noticed Lily, who appeared to have been hiding behind Remus for the entirety of breakfast. “Look, whatever you saw, it meant nothing. You know you’re my main squeeze.”
“There’s just one problem.” Lucy glared at Sirius. “I don’t want to be your girlfriend anymore.”
“Come on, Lucy.” Sirius appeared to be growing impatient. “Do you really want to hear me say it? Fine. I’m sorry.” He placed his hands on either side of her face. “Okay?” Suddenly, he leaned in and kissed her.
The curse came from behind her. “Reducto!”
Sirius was knocked backwards onto the floor, directly across from Severus, who was holding his wand straight out in front of him and gritting his teeth.
“Snivellus!” Sirius growled, enraged. James and Peter jumped to his aid, all three of them pointing their wands at Severus.
“Stop!” Lily cried, stepping between the two groups. “There’s no need for all of this. No hard feelings.” She looked desperately back at her best friend. “Right, Lucy?”
Suddenly, Lucy needed no time to think.
“No.” She said firmly, turning to Severus. “Thank you. For everything.” She looked back at Sirius. “Screw you.” She said, giving the entire group of Gryffindors an icy look. “Come on, we need to get to class.” She said, speaking again to Severus, who nodded and escorted her out of the Hall, her entire group of friends still staring at the two of them in disbelief.