Sita's eyes opened slowly, her vision blurred behind her half-open eyelids. Her parched mouth burned as she opened it; slowly, she sat up and took a small sip from a glass of cool water by her bed. She scanned the room with tired eyes and a throbbing head. Her gaze fell on Sirius, who was sleeping in a bed next to her. Sita frowned, unable to remember what had happened, except that she had been flying very fast.
As Sita was pondering this, Madame Pomfrey bustled into the room. Sita sat up, and Madame Pomfrey nodded approvingly. She handed Sita a vial of potion to get rid of the headache, which Sita accepted gratefully.
'What happened?' Sita asked. Her voice was hoarse. Madame Pomfrey tutted but proceeded to repeat what Rabastan and James had told her, while Sita tried not to smile. It turned out that she had already missed two classes and part of a third.
As Madam Pomfrey shooed her out the door after a quick freshening up, Sita passed Lupin. For a brief moment, Sita wondered had any of her friends come to check on her. She supposed they had probably been too busy getting to their classes.
When Sita reached the Slytherin common room, however, she saw Sierra bent over a small stack of parchment. It appeared that Sierra, at least, didn’t have that excuse. 'What's up?' Sita asked casually as she took a seat opposite her. Sierra glanced up and grinned at Sita, then held out her hand. Sita shook it, watching Sierra’s smile grow wider.
'Rabastan told me what happened. I can't believe you flew into the four of them!' Sierra laughed. 'Just back and you've already knocked one of them out!'
Sita smiled and sat back in the armchair, trying to recall the previous day’s events, and managing to vaguely remember the look on the boys’ faces as she had careened toward them. Pleased with herself, she pulled a piece of parchment from Sierra’s pile and stared, confused, at the clustered numbers on the sheet.
‘You missed your double Transfiguration,' Sierra stated, handing her a sheet from McGonagall. Sita took it, examining the dirt packed between her own fingernails as she did so. 'She also mentioned something about a test,' Sierra added with a smirk, taking pleasure in Sita's irritated groan.
'I'm missing History now, I guess. That or Potions.’ Sita frowned as she tried to remember her schedule. ‘Potions. Great, like I needed to fall behind.'
'Ah, well, at least Black isn't there. He won't be ahead or anything,' Sierra reassured her sympathetically.
The bell sounded through the dungeon. As the two made their way to the Great Hall, Sierra spotted a dazed Sirius Black emerging from the hospital wing. Sita wondered if he could remember what had happened, and felt herself growing red with embarrassment.
Rabastan and Tobias were already at the table when Sita and Sierra arrived. Tobias waved, grinning at Sita as they sat down.
'Are you feeling all right?' Rabastan asked with a hint of concern in his voice just as she was tapped on the shoulder. Sita nodded distractedly in reply as she turned in her seat to face Snape.
'What?' she snapped, turning to face him. His sallow skin was illuminated under the bright lights, and his hooked nose cast a disturbing shadow over his face. He wore an amused smirk as he looked down at her. Sita was conscious of other Slytherins watching.
'I wanted to compliment you on how you took out Black and spared us all a Potions lesson without his insufferable presence,' Snape held out his hand to Sita who was staring at him disbelievingly. Hesitantly, she accepted his hand and they shook. When she turned to the table again, instead of the usual condescending stares she was used to, she saw approval. Was taking out Black all she had to do to gain some measure of popularity with the rest of her house?
Rabastan was caught jinxing Hufflepuffs during Charms; Slytherin was docked thirty points, and now Rabastan had detention for the next three nights. 'How did he know it was me!?' Rabastan demanded furiously as the group made its way to Defence Against the Dark Arts, the final class of the day. 'It could've been anyone in the class!'
Rabastan had a fair point. Flitwick had appeared to be taking a guess at the culprit, but most of the Slytherins in the class had been snickering uncontrollably, so it had been obvious that it was one of them, and Rabastan had his prior record against him.
'It was worth it, though,' Sierra commented smugly. 'That idiot Diggory had it coming.' Tobias snorted in agreement, shoving past a few terrified first years.
'They're everywhere!' Sita exclaimed in frustration as she was bumped into by a small first year girl. ‘That’s the third time today!’
Lily Evans, who was giving directions to a few young Ravenclaws, turned to Sita disapprovingly. 'Oh, calm down, I'm sure we were just as bad,’ she said. Sita's eyes narrowed as she stared at Evans coldly.
'I'm sure I wasn't. I was raised with respect for my elders,' Rabastan informed her with icy tones. 'Not that I would expect a Mudblood like you to understand respect.' A few of the first years gasped in shock at hearing the Head Girl being called a Mudblood.
Lily's face flushed dark red, much to Rabastan's satisfaction. '10 points from Slytherin,' She said coldly before turning her attention back to the Ravenclaws. He chuckled softly, points could always be regained, and they continued to Defence Against the Dark Arts.
At dinner, they saw Black at the Gryffindor table, looking none the worse for wear. 'Black recovered,' Tobias observed.
Sita grunted in reply. 'Maybe next time, eh?' The other Slytherins were still looking much more approving of Sita than usual.
Rabastan nudged Sita and motioned to the Gryffindor table. 'Do you dare go over to ask Potter how it felt to lose?'
Sita grinned, but shook her head. She continued eating, but upon hearing Avery snort with silent laughter, raised her eyes from her plate. She watched as Snape made his way over to the Gryffindor table. He said something that upset Potter to the extent that he leaped to his feet; Sirius was right behind him. Sita noticed McGonagall watching them carefully from the staff table. Evans leaned over the table, her lips moving rapidly, Sita was surprised to see she actually seemed to be speaking to Potter. Reluctantly James sat down, glaring at Snape all the while. Snape smirked at the four and turned his back on them, walking back to the Slytherin table. McGonagall seemed satisfied and looked away when Snape had sat down. Sita leaned over the table to listen to what Snape was saying.
'He really likes that mudblood,' Snape commented cruelly. 'He turned down the challenge.' This resulted in a number of groans from the surrounding gang. Then, surprisingly, Snape turned his attention to Sita. She was embarrassed; he must have noticed her listening in.
'Avery and Rosier are sick of Evans and Potter as Heads,' he said. 'Quite simply, we want one of them gone. I challenged Potter to a duel this week, before the Gryffindor/Slytherin Quidditch match. Evans was nearby and told him not to go along with it. Amazingly, the idiot obeyed. Do you have any ideas on how to eliminate him, Massaro?'
'You don't need to ‘eliminate’ him,' Sita replied harshly. 'I can beat him.' She glared around the table, hurt as she heard snickering from some of her team mates. Snape simply smiled condescendingly.
'Whatever you say. Remember, ideas to take Black out would also be appreciated,' He winked and did a mock bow before leaving the table with Avery. Sita stared at the critical faces still around the table. She would beat Potter this year.
'Since when has Snape been so confident?' drawled Rabastan as he leaned back on the bench.
Sierra shrugged. 'I was wondering the same,' Tobias admitted slowly. He then stood up, and Sita wondered what homework he had that was making him so keen to leave.
They ended up walking right behind Sirius, Potter, Lupin and Pettigrew. 'Snivellus is a git,' Sita overheard Sirius reassure James, patting him on the back, 'and Lily smiled when you said no. You might stand a chance this year.' This caused Pettigrew to snicker. 'Besides, they only want you off the team, mate,’ Sirius added sternly. ‘They know Sita can't beat you. Everyone knows.’
Sita felt her face growing hot and scowled when Sierra placed a hand on her shoulder. Rabastan’s features darkened.
'Scourgify,' he whispered, pointing his wand at the back of Sirius's head. Sirius let out a yell and turned around angrily. He glared at Rabastan, who was eyeing him with great amusement.
Amidst the incoherent sounds of Sirius attempting to hex Rabastan, Potter shouted a spell. 'Tarantallegra!' Sita screamed in anger at the feeling of her legs moving of their own accord and held on to Sierra tightly. Sierra winced from Sita's grip, and pulled out her wand to reverse the spell. Sita smiled weakly when her legs were under her own control again.
Frowning, she saw McGonagall and Slughorn approaching. McGonagall looked furious, while Slughorn appeared neutral. Sirius had been hit with the counter-jinx and was now glaring at Rabastan.
'What is the meaning of all this?' demanded Professor McGonagall. Her eyes narrowed as she stared sharply at the eight of them.
'You lot come to my office now, please,' Slughorn said, a hint of joviality in his voice. Sita saw Sirius give her a look of contempt as she walked away with Slughorn. He knew well they'd only receive a lecture.
'Potter and Black, you two will come to my office for detention this week, and I am stripping Gryffindor of ten points for each of you,' Sita heard Professor McGonagall state sternly. Potter began to complain loudly that it was Rabastan's fault as the Slytherins turned the corner.
When they reached Slughorn’s office, Slughorn sat down in one overstuffed chair, and the other four took the others. ‘I suppose I should deduct points from Slytherin, too,’ he began quiescently, ‘but Mr Lestrange, that was a nice charm, and Miss Pritchard, your counter to Mr Potter's hex also deserves credit, so we'll just forget about the points.'
'Sir, I will apologise for my actions but I'm not sorry,' Rabastan said defiantly.
Slughorn raised an eyebrow. 'Why is this?' He asked, furrowing his brows and appearing distinctly unnerved by Rabastan’s cold eyes.
'He called the Slytherin Seeker pathetic,' Rabastan replied coolly, motioning to Sita, who flushed red. She wished Rabastan had kept that bit to himself. Slughorn's eyes flashed over to Sita for a second before moving back to Rabastan, who nodded slowly.
'Very well, you are dismissed, Mr Lestrange. You as well, Miss Pritchard and Mr Yaxley. I would like a word with Miss Massaro,' Slughorn said. Rabastan ignored Sita's gaze while Sierra offered a sympathetic smile; she knew Sita didn't like Slughorn or his constant attention. Damn her father and his good connections.
Professor Slughorn stared at Sita for a moment. Sita felt herself growing uncomfortable under his gaze. 'Pathetic,' he muttered, more to himself than Sita. 'Such a strong word, don't you agree?' Sita said nothing. He studied her for another minute. 'Miss Massaro, what would you do if I postponed the Slytherin versus Gryffindor match so it was the last match of the year?' Slughorn asked. Sita raised her eyes and saw he was serious.
'I would make sure to beat Potter and his idiot friend,' she replied; calling Sirius an idiot in front of fellow Slytherins had almost become a reflex. Slughorn nodded slowly before dismissing her.
'Are you serious?' laughed Rabastan when she emerged. 'That's brilliant! Ah, Massaro, we're going to win it this year for sure!' He took Sita and spun her around happily. Sita blinked in surprise when he let her go; Rabastan wasn't one for showing emotions like that.
'And we got away without detention,' Tobias said happily, walking behind them.
Sierra grinned. 'Gotta love Slughorn, the fool,' she chuckled. They reached the Slytherin common room quickly and climbed in. Rabastan pulled Sita over to the team and made her repeat what Slughorn had said. The boys around her broke into large smirks.
'Well done, Massaro! First you injure Black, and now you give us a huge advantage. Maybe Slughorn was right about you,' grinned the captain, Bletchly, who played Chaser. Sita saw Regulus Black, their Keeper, nodding happily at the news. The Beaters, Baddock and Higgs, and the other two Chasers, Rabastan and Davies, looked just as pleased.
When Rabastan stopped crowing about their ‘victory’, Sita finally managed to start on her homework. After going through Bletchley’s long and arduous notes, she discovered that she could never miss a double Transfiguration again.
On Wednesday morning the Slytherins made their way out from their first double Defence class with Professor Merrythought. Sita had been surprised to find they were with the Gryffindors. She had thought since she was good at DADA she simply hadn't noticed and was more preoccupied with the double Potions that had been facing her.
'All right, Massaro?' Rabastan greeted, wrapping an arm around her casually as if to reassure her. Sita glanced up at him and nodded, thinking he looked nervous. First double Defense class she supposed. It had been an unusually tough classes that involved learning off some complicated defense spells and counters. Sierra managed to catch Sita's eye and looked up at Rabastan and back again, winking. Sita's eyes widened as she realised why Sierra was winking. She made a note to enforce a fact that Sita had thought was perfectly clear: she and Rabastan were just friends.
'Do you know if we've got training tonight?' Sita asked as she pulled out her timetable. Rabastan frowned for a second.
'Er, yeah, we do.' Quickly, he pulled his arm back and smiled at Sita in a way that looked forced. 'After dinner.'
Sita fell forward as someone purposely banged into her. Her head darted up and she found herself glaring at Sirius, who was glancing back, smirking. 'Bastard,' Rabastan swore, pulling his wand out.
'Forget it,' Sita muttered, pushing her hair back, seeing Sirius was out of range. Rabastan seemed to be debating it, but finally returned his wand to his robes. 'I’ve got to pair with him next, leave it until later.' Rabastan grunted in agreement.
'What the hell are you up to?' Sita demanded when she reached their Potions table. Sirius's eyes danced, taunting her, but he didn't reply. Slughorn entered the class and beamed around while everyone set up their equipment.
'Okay, calm down. Today we're going to do some theory. Open your books to chapter 23 and write down what you think is important in the chapter. I'll take them up with your homework at the end of class,' Slughorn said. A low groan came from the students as they pulled out their quills and parchment.
Both Sirius and Sita sat in silence, jotting down various notes from the chapter about poisons. 'Well, this is fun,' Sirius muttered sarcastically as he finished his first scroll. Sita choked on a giggle and turned it into a coughing fit.
'Sorry,' she said meekly, returning to her parchment. Sirius was shaking with silent laughter. Sita didn't know if it was because of her or because of a note Sirius had managed to get his hands on, most likely from Potter.
Her eyes found Potter easily in the class. He was leaning back on the stool, looking completely relaxed as he scrawled the notes down slowly. Sita noticed Evans was staring at the back of Potter's head. Sita’s eyebrows rose. Evans and Potter? She couldn't think of anyone more revolting than James Potter. She had thought that Evans was all right ... at times.
The bell rang and Sita picked up her books, heading toward the front to hand in her work. 'Cough gone now, Massaro?' Sirius snickered when Potter approached wearing his trademark cocky smirk. Sita gave him a dirty look.
'Did I hear you right in the hall, Massaro? Quidditch training tonight?' Potter asked conversationally.
Sita stared at him coldly. 'What's it to you?'
'Might drop by and see how my least favourite Seeker does it,' Potter replied, twirling his wand in his fingers. Sita noticed Evans was watching them. If she wanted him, she could have him.
‘Oh, I don’t know, Potter,’ she said with mock-sweetness, ‘Mudblood over there might get jealous.' Potter glared at her furiously. Rabastan grinned at her from behind Potter’s back.
'He really does like her,' Sita mused as they left class, making Rabastan laugh. His nerves seemed to have vanished. Sita decided that Sierra didn't know what she was talking about.