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Chapter 2 : Back to School
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'Stupid sun,' Sita murmured. She rubbed her eyes and pressed her feet to the cool wooden floor. Sleepily, she grabbed a towel and her hair brush and walked into her en suite. Down the hall she could hear her father's shower running. A small, relieved smile crossed Sita's face; she had been worried he wouldn't wake up in time to take her to the train station.
'Morning,' he greeted as he conjured some coffee for himself. Sita nodded and continued to float her school chest down to the door. Her father nodded approvingly at her as it landed gently, but Sita couldn’t care less what he thought about her magic. She sighed as she went back to her room to make sure she didn’t miss anything. Her eyes fell on her old Cleansweep, standing at the end of her bed. She patted it gently as if it were an old pet. Yawning, she reached for the empty owl cage and carried it down; she had no idea where her owl, Fiachra, was.
Sita had owned her owl since she started Hogwarts. She had named him 'Fiachra' after one of the boys in the Irish legend, The Children of Lir; it had been a favourite story of hers. She knew he'd find her; he always did.
'Are you nearly ready?’ asked her father from downstairs. After one quick glance around her room, Sita decided she was. She carried the cage down and set it by her new broom on top of her case. Her father let out a small sigh upon seeing the broom. He stared at Sita for a moment. 'You'd better win this year,' he growled, placing his hand on her shoulder to Apparate to the station.
'He’s kept me in there for the last bloody week!' Sita exclaimed, entering an empty compartment with Tobias, who nodded sympathetically. 'For that long over a stupid broomstick!? It’s not like him.' Tobias smiled wearily at her as she continued to rant. Sita stopped when Rabastan stuck his head in; he grinned at Tobias when he saw the look on his face.
'Really, Sita, still complaining?' Rabastan drawled loftily. 'You should've seen the letters she was sending me, Yaxely, really. “Rabastan, save me!”, “Help me, Rabastan!”' he snickered. Rabastan continued making fun of her, Tobias laughing, until Sita put a Silencing Charm on him.
Tobias continued to laugh as Rabastan made furious gestures at Sita while she stared out the window, ignoring them both. When he realized Sita wasn't going to let him speak, he sat down and glared at a piece of wall above Yaxley's head until he heard Sita mutter the counter charm reluctantly.
'Thank you,' he replied with a hint of a snarl. Sita heard nothing more as she stared out at the moving countryside. This would be her last time to return to Hogwarts. She was reminiscing about their first year - particularly their flying classes with Gryffindor. James and Sita had become rivals because of them, as both had tried to one up the other by diving faster and deeper each time. They never did resolve who was the better flyer in those lessons - when Sierra returned from her Prefect duties.
'You'll never guess who the Head Boy and Girl are,' she grumbled angrily. 'It’s that idiot Potter and the Mudblood Evans.' Sierra slammed the door shut and sat down. 'I honestly don't know what Dumbledore is thinking! Two Gryffindors? That's unheard of, not to mention unfair.' Sita didn't react and continued to stare out the window.
'Evans and Potter? Potter must've wet himself,' Rabastan commented idly, examining his fingernails. Tobias snickered at the joke until Rabastan raised his eyes to Sierra. 'Did you just say Evans is Head Girl!?' he demanded as he realized what he had just said. Sierra nodded coldly, casting Sita a glance. 'A filthy mudblood like her, Head Girl? That's insulting,' Rabastan spat. He stared at the piece of wall just above Yaxley again, making him uncomfortable under Rabastan's strong gaze. 'I can't wait to be out of here. There'll be no more filth like her soon,' Rabastan stated darkly. Sita, despite her apparent unawareness, was listening intently to each word said, and Rabastan's final sentence had caught her attention.
'Why would you say that?' Sita asked suddenly, surprising the others as she emerged from her daze.
'I presume you know of the Dark Lord?'
Sita nodded, staring unblinkingly into Rabastan's icy blue eyes. She was one of few who could stand their chill. 'His power is growing and soon he will reign supreme. Purebloods like you and I will be treated with the respect we deserve. We will receive the best opportunities, and the Mudblood filth will be wiped out.' Rabastan's voice grew stronger and more convinced as he continued.
'When he is in power he will begin to ... ah, eliminate those that don't support him. Hogwarts will finally become a Wizarding school for purebloods only.' Yaxley nodded in agreement at this comment.
'I'm going to help the Dark Lord.' Rabastan informed the three proudly. 'My brother Rodolphus has already joined his followers, the Death Eaters.'
'A what?' Sierra asked interrupting Rabastan.
'A Death Eater is a loyal follower of the Dark Lord. The Death Eaters do as he asks without hesitation.' Sita felt her stomach drop, and only half listened to Rastaban for the rest of the journey. A Death Eater – so that's what her father was.
'Firs' Years, Firs' years!' rang out the familiar voice of Hagrid as the students emerged from the train. The four Slytherins climbed into a horseless carriage and began to talk about the upcoming year. Sita and Rastaban's conversation moved to Quidditch, and Sita managed to push the earlier conversation to the back of her mind; she didn't want to think about it now.
'Did you get to ride it?' he asked, motioning to the sleek handle of the Nimbus.
'No; I was stuck in my room, remember?' she answered coolly, not wanting a repeat of Rabastan’s earlier taunting. Rabastan grinned and looked away as if contemplating something.
'We should go out tomorrow after class and give them a go,’ he suggested after a moment's silence as he stared out the window.
'That'd be nice.'
As the students tucked into their feast post-Sorting, Sita's gaze wandered over to the Gryffindor table and fell on one Sirius Black, who was hovering mashed potato over Pettigrew's head. Sita let out a small snort as James smacked Sirius's hand; he lost control and the potatoes splattered over Pettigrew’s head. Sita looked away as McGonagall, ever watchful, shouted down at him from the high table, but not before Sierra glanced at Sita suspiciously; Sita proceeded to pretend to choke on her meat. She smiled at Sierra gratefully when she finished patting her on the back. Sita went back to gazing at Sirius as subtly as she could manage while surrounded by Slytherins.
He was hated in Slytherin; 'blood traitor' is what they called him. Sita didn’t care. She admired his courage, even if it meant admitting her own weakness. Sita would never talk about her views on blood; she didn't need the hassle that would come with it. She was disliked enough as it was outside her small group of friends. The other Slytherins viewed her as the unworthy Seeker who replaced Travers when he left school four years ago. No matter how hard they tried to replace her, Professor Slughorn had insisted she was the best at practice. Despite Sita's dislike for the Head of House, she thought she was too, and she wasn't being biased. In reality, the Slytherins liked it this way; they loudly blamed Sita for every loss they had, insisting Slughorn had denied them victory by keeping her on the team. Of course, whenever they won a match, which wasn't all that rare, Sita's was never the one congratulated.
Rastaban played as Chaser for Slytherin. He never badmouthed Sita, but he never defended her, either. Sita understood. Everyone looked out for themselves; Rabastan would likely be replaced as Chaser if he tried to defend her. Rabastan was liked in Slytherin – he personified a Slytherin. Sita, on the other hand, fell silent or left when a discussion about blood came up, and this had led to her own purity being scrutinized by others. Once they were assured that she was a pure blood, however, they hadn't worried too much presuming she shared their views.
Sighing, she realized she was being poked by Sierra to stand; Sierra had to go lead the first years to the dorms. As she stood, she whispered the password to Sita so she wouldn't have to wait. Sita thanked her silently. Rastaban and Yaxley were deep in conversation with Snape and Rosier; they had sat at the opposite end of the table to discuss the Death Eaters. Sita hadn't wanted to continue the conversation and Sierra sat with her.
As Sita slowly made her way through the crowd she found herself behind Sirius, Lupin and Pettigrew. She stared fondly at the black hair on the back of Sirius's head as he pushed it back while insulting Peter.
'How thick can you be Wormtail? Of course we'll go with Remus this weekend, when has the time of the moon made any difference?' Sirius snapped, not bothering to keep his voice down over the chatter of their fellow students. He was obviously annoyed at Peter from dinner. Perhaps McGonagall had issued a detention, Sita mused though she doubted as much.
Lupin glanced behind them worriedly as Sirius mentioned the full moon. Sita vaguely wondered why before half-reluctantly turning to the stairs that led down to the Slytherin common room.
A small smile crossed her lips when she realised she was the first to arrive in her dormitory. Her eyes fell on her bed in the corner next to the window. The eerie green lantern light made the cold room home. Its dark, gloomy appearance was not sad or frightening, but warm and reassuring. Sita slid into bed and stared up at the dark green overhang until she heard her room mates climbing the stairs.
'Double Potions with Gryffindors on a Monday morning? But of course,' grumbled Sita when they got their timetables the next morning. 'Damn you, Slughorn,' Sierra added as she read through her own. 'I'm with them for a single Herbology and Ancient Runes.’
Rastaban arrived a few minutes later, staring daggers at the teachers table. 'Is this a bloody joke!?' he demanded, slamming his timetable down on the table. 'We have double Charms with Hufflepuff. Those freaks don't deserve to be in our company.' Tobias slouched down next to Rastaban who continued to rant about how worthless Hufflepuffs were.
'I have Herbology with Gryffindors,' he announced glumly.
'So we've heard.' Sita muttered, scanning her timetable with displeasure. Sierra gave Sita a sympathetic look as she and Rastaban headed for the dungeons.
Sita realised just how much she was dreading Potions as she made her way down the stone steps into the dark room. It was not Sita's best subject – it was the worst she had continued to NEWT level, anyway – and to be paired with Gryffindors for it sickened her. They would soon know the truth about her 'E'. She walked into the class and found a seat at the back, hoping Rabastan would sit next to her; Potions was his strong point.
But when he entered the class, Rabastan was called over by Macnair to sit with him; he apologised to Sita and went to join him. Sita scowled, knowing she would now be paired with a Gryffindor, not that she could blame Rabastan. She wouldn't want to be partnered with her in Potions, either.
For the 7th Year Potions Professor Slughorn found it easier to have two to a table. He usually had enough space due to the low numbers that continued to NEWT level and it gave the students more space for their preparations. He also found they worked better surrounded by less people. They would partner up for various potions over the year so they could do it within the time limit of the class. She vaguely wondered which annoying Gryffindor she'd be paired with. As long as it wasn't Potter she didn't overly mind. But of course, he'd be sitting next to Sirius.
Sita sat alone in the back as the Gryffindors walked in. After scanning the crowd, she realised Sirius was not there. This surprised her; Regulus had said that Sirius and James had the same timetables. She watched as James cast a hopeful glance at the door before taking a seat next to Remus.
Slughorn stood at the top of the class and was just about to speak when Sirius burst in the door. 'Sorry, sir,' Sirius said. Slughorn waved him in and waited for him to take a seat, the eyes of the whole class on him. Sirius stared at James as if to ask 'Where's my seat?' James shrugged apologetically and motioned to the empty seat next to Sita, winking cheekily at him. Black glared back before walking over, dropping his bag on the ground, and sitting down. He glanced at Sita warily and was met by a cool gaze. Rolling his eyes, Sirius folded his arms and rested his head on the table.
Slughorn ran through the curriculum quickly with the class before instructing them to concoct a “Sublevo Potion.” Sita looked over at Sirius who was doodling absently on a sheet of parchment. Sita sighed and flicked through her book to the correct page.
'Work in pairs, and use the ingredients in the cupboard.' Slughorn added, noticing a few students looking around uncertainly. 'You'll work alone with your own ingredients next class. This is just to bring you back gently from the holidays. Also, please hand up your holiday essays at the end of class.'
'If you want to do well, I suggest you give me a hand,' Sita hissed at Sirius as she stood to retrieve the ingredients. A small disbelieving smile crossed his face.
'Are you threatening me, Massaro?' he asked, winking at James, who had turned to watch. Sita raised an eyebrow at the cocky wizard; Sirius pushed a few strands of hair out of his face as he stared at her, waiting for a reaction.
'Take it whatever way you want, Black.' Sita glanced at her list again and left the table to get some of the ingredients: monkshood, nettle roots, salamander blood and ginger. She could feel Sirius watching her from the table, probably hoping she would drop something as she balanced the monkshood precariously while reaching for the ginger.
'Crush the ginger and nettle together, right?' he asked when she returned, reading through her badly summarized notes.
'Er, yeah. Then add the salamander blood,' she replied hesitantly. She didn't know to take him seriously or not.
'What's this potion do?' Sirius asked as Sita carefully measured the amount of powdered roots she had crushed. He chopped the monkshood deftly as he spoke.
'It's an encouragement potion. It helps boost your confidence or something,' Sita answered distractedly, peering at the scales. When she was pleased she added the powder and watched as the mixture bubbled. Sirius continued chopping, ignoring the sudden colour change from blue to red.
Sita worked slowly as she measured the salamander blood and boiled it in a separate container before adding it. The substance was now glowing and ruby in colour. It smelled of butter. Slughorn approached them as Sirius added the monkshood at exactly the right moment and lowered the heat to allow it to simmer.
'Well done, Black., he said, watching as the ruby glowing colour changed dark purple. Sita smiled faintly; she had successfully finished a potion. They were told to leave it to simmer for ten minutes, no more. Sirius nodded and walked over to James and Remus who had finished a few minutes before them.
Sita watched him for a moment before realising Rabastan was staring at her. He raised his eyebrow slightly when she met his gaze. She shrugged in reply and looked away, pretending to watch the potion. She jumped feeling someone place a light hand on her shoulder.
'Don't do that!' she hissed at Rabastan when she turned to face him. He appeared amused.
'You actually made a decent potion,' he applauded.
'Correction: Sirius made a decent potion,' Sita replied half-heartedly. She hated to admit it, but he'd done the important part with the monkshood. Once again, Rabastan raised an eyebrow.
'Sirius, is it?'
'Massaro! Take the damn potion off the heat!' yelled Sirius from across the room before Sita had a chance to reply. She turned, cursing loudly as the potion changed to a deep green colour. Quickly she pulled it off the heat and rested it down. Slughorn approached again to take a look.
'Let's check the consistency of it, eh?' he suggested hopefully as he scooped some into a glass bottle. 'Oh,' Slughorn cringed. It had changed from being a silky purple liquid to some sort of green slime. 'Hard luck, Ms Massaro. I did warn you.' He gave her a reassuring pat on the back and took the bottle up as their sample.
Rabastan had managed to stay quiet but as Slughorn left a sly smirk crossed his dark features. Sita gave him a withering look before sitting down and cupping her face in her hands until the bell rang.
'How hard is it to time ten minutes, Massaro?' Sirius asked when she raised her head and began to pack her equipment away. Sita didn't reply; she shot Sirius a cold glare as she left the room and that was that.
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