Chapter 7 : Preparation and Opportunity
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On the dawn of November’s Quidditch match between Slytherin and Ravenclaw, Sita woke to the sun streaming in through the window onto her face. The usually murky green water of the lake was lit by sunbeams and Sita was sure she could see merpeople far off in the distance. Yawning, she pushed off the covers and placed her feet on the cold stone floor. Three weeks before, Gryffindor had defeated Hufflepuff by a hundred points. Potter hadn't stopped putting on the pressure since he caught the Snitch, constantly calling out to Sita and wishing her luck with a cocky grin.
Finally the day had come that she would show Potter up and they would beat Ravenclaw – hopefully more convincingly than Gryffindor had beaten Hufflepuff. She smiled upon seeing Sierra still sleeping soundly, along with the other two girls in their dorm. Quietly, she tiptoed down into the common room. Sita was surprised to find Rabastan up already, with Tobias sitting quietly in the corner. Both of them were still in their pyjamas. Tobias had a book open on his lap and he looked a little dazed.
'Why are you up so early?' Sita asked, sitting down opposite them both.
'Nerves,' Rabastan replied calmly, though he didn't look nervous at all. Tobias stood suddenly and made his way to the boy’s dorms. 'He's sleepwalking,' Rabastan explained, grinning at the look of confusion on Sita's face. 'You know, it's only a few hours until the match. You're still sure about the deal we made?'
'Of course, I never break my word,' Sita winked. She patted Rabastan on his shoulder and decided she would get dressed and go for breakfast. She was starving, and she knew if she waited much longer she wouldn't eat before the match. 'I'm going to get food. You want to come?'
'Sure, I'll be down in a sec,' Rabastan replied, walking off to his dormitory to dress.
The two walked down to the Great Hall and were amazed by its emptiness as they entered. Other than Dumbledore at the staff table, it was completely empty. The expression on Dumbledore's face told Sita they were probably the last two he expected to see this early. He recovered quickly, however, and greeted them happily as they sat at their table.
'This place really is huge,' Sita said in awe, staring around at the long, empty tables surrounding them. Rabastan nodded, his eyes on the staff table, where Dumbledore was being joined by McGonagall, who was eyeing the two unsurely. Sita ignored her and wolfed down two slices of toast, followed by a glass of cold water. Rabastan downed a glass of orange juice and was finishing his cereal when Sierra and Tobias entered, looking confused.
'Were you two down here the entire time?' Sierra asked with disbelief.
'We searched all over the house,' Tobias interjected, frowning a little as he sat. Rabastan snorted into his cereal.
'Bletchley was looking for you,' Sierra said, her voice cold; she had never been a morning person, as far as Sita could remember. She was glaring at the two of them with her right hand resting on her hip, looking very much like an irritated mother. Rabastan swallowed the rest of his cereal quickly and they went back up to the common room.
When they arrived the team ignored them as they sat down. Bletchley began to talk through plays he had worked on over the summer that they had practised at training the other night. 'I know we can beat them. This is our year,' Bletchley snarled, clearing up the sheets. 'Massaro, catch that damn Snitch early.' Sita nodded and stood with the others, following them out to the changing rooms.
The crowd grew louder and louder as the minutes passed. Sita pulled on her gloves and joined the back of the Slytherin line as they marched out onto the pitch. The sun was shining and a slight breeze blew Sita's hair out of her eyes. Quickly she tied it up again and wrapped a bandana around her forehead so stray strands of hair wouldn't block her vision. Rabastan was in front of her, he nudged her grinning as Bletchley crushed the Ravenclaw Captain's fingers in the shake.
'Welcome, students and staff, to the second match of the Quidditch Cup! On this beautiful November afternoon, we will see the Slytherin team face off against Ravenclaw in what promises to be a good, competitive game!' the Hufflepuff announcer, Paul Madley, said enthusiastically as the team flew out onto the pitch.
Sita circled the pitch before settling down high above the action, her eyes scanning the skies for a tint of gold.
'And Lestrange has the ball, nasty move there, but surprisingly no call is made – I do hope Carmichael is all right -- oh, and Lestrange scores for Slytherin! 10-0 Slytherin!' cried Madley.
Sita grinned as Rabastan high-fived Bletchley, who had given him the pass. But Ravenclaw was fast on the attack and Rabastan was outplayed by a smaller female Chaser. He scowled and flew straight into the back of her, making her drop the ball. Davies caught it easily and flung it past the Keeper.
'Foul by Lestrange!' yelled Madley as the crowd booed loudly. Sita raised an eyebrow as she watched Rabastan argue with Madame Hooch. He waved her off angrily as she took his name. 'Slytherin lead 20-0 and Ravenclaw has a free throw.'
Black saved it easily and threw it out to Rabastan again. The match continued with Slytherin dominating; after a half hour the score was 140-70. 'Massaro! Find the damn Snitch!' screamed Bletchley as the same small Chaser passed him only to get hit by a Buldger. Sita felt herself growing desperate and did another lap of the pitch, watching Peakes as he circled too. He looked as anxious as she felt.
'And Slytherin have scored again,' Madley informed, he sounded bored. 'What's this? Peakes has seen something!'
Sita spun around and cried out seeing Peakes suddenly speeding toward the other end of the pitch. 'Massaro! What are you waiting for!? GET THE DAMN SNITCH!' yelled Black from his position. Sita leaned forward and forced her Nimbus to speed after Peakes.
'Peakes nearly has it but Massaro is now on his tail!' Madley said excitedly. Sita frowned upon hearing jeers from the Gryffindor coloured end.
She gasped, seeing Peakes reach out and grab something, but smiled weakly as he cursed. Obviously he'd missed. 'Massaro! Duck!' yelled Higgs from behind her. Sita flew down a bit but kept her eyes on the Snitch. A blur of black suddenly passed her and flew right into Peakes making him collapse forward onto his broom.
'And Slytherin beater Higgs has momentarily taken Peakes out of this chase! Is it enough for Massaro?' Madley exclaimed, seeing the Bludger fly off again. Sita pulled up and took Peakes place as he fell behind. The ball was right in front of her, she reached out and wrapped her fingers around the small Snitch, raising her hand triumphantly. 'And Massaro catches the Snitch! Slytherin win...' finished Madley disappointedly.
Sita landed with the team and joined in congratulating Higgs for taking out Peakes, noticing that, as always, she wasn't given any credit for catching the Snitch. She sighed and smiled as Rabastan hugged her.
'Not bad,' he winked. They followed the team into the dressing rooms, waving at Tobias and Sierra when they passed them.
'Stir clockwise until it goes a dark purple colour,' Slughorn instructed as he paced the class. It was another single Potions class and Sita was falling behind yet again. Sirius's had already turned purple and he was leaning back expectantly, staring over at James, his eyes darting over to Severus every few moments.
'How did you do that?' Sita groaned as her own remained bright pink. Sirius grinned.
'I copied Snape,' he admitted. 'He added a counter clockwise stir every minute.'
Sita tried this and three minutes later was smiling happily at her purple concoction. She cast a glance over at Rabastan. who was cursing loudly at his own mixture, which had gone orange.
'Thanks, Black,' she said, leaning back in her own chair.
'How d'you think you'll do in the mock NEWTs?' Sita asked. Sirius looked her over quickly, judging whether she was going to have a serious conversation today or not.
'All right,' he answered smoothly, pushing back his long hair. 'You?'
'Only? I'd think you'll do better than you expect,' Sirius informed, smiling as she blushed. 'Honestly.'
'As long as I do well in Transfiguration, I don't mind.'
'Good luck with that. McGonagall marks really hard in the mocks.'
'Yeah, but I can hope,' Sita said, smiling. Sirius suddenly stood again and stared over at Snape, who was beginning to add ingredients as he stirred slowly.
'That's not in the book,' Sirius frowned. 'Ah well, Snivellus hasn't led me wrong yet.' Within moments both of them were copying Snape, chatting lightly between them about the mocks. Sita was pausing every few moments to make sure she was acting Slytherin enough. Sirius's good looks could distract anyone, she decided.
'How did your Linalool Potion work out?' Sita asked, trying to hide her grin as Rabastan scowled at her.
'The book's instructions were completely off,' he said airily. 'That's the only reason it didn't work.'
'Mine worked,' Sita informed smugly. She laughed as Rabastan's eyes widened and he took a step away from her.
'You got it right?' he choked. He suddenly began to smile and regained his calm. 'Of course yours worked out. The book was wrong; you obviously messed up their instructions somewhere.' Sita stared at him disbelievingly.
'You're kidding, right? I haven't done too bad the last few weeks.'
'Thanks to Black, I suppose,' snarled Rabastan.
'Yeah, actually,' Sita retorted. 'He's good at explaining things.'
'And I'm not?'
'No,' she answered simply. 'You use complicated terms whereas Sirius uses simple words.' She noticed Rabastan scowl when she said Sirius. Sita saw Black approaching them and hid a small smile as a grin broke out on his face.
'How was your potion, Lestrange? Thought I saw black smoke at one point. Fix that, did you?' Sirius asked with Potter laughing behind him. Sita found it hard to believe that Potter was actually amused, as he had experienced the same problem.
'Wasn't yours smoking too, Potter? Or was that Lupin's fault?' Sita inquired, inclining her head toward Remus.
James blushed a little before recovering. 'Well, I'm sure you didn't get it right,’ he retorted. Sirius shook his head warningly. James stared at Sita with disbelief. 'You got it right and I didn't!?' James demanded, glancing at Sirius frantically. Sita slumped a little. She didn't understand why this was so hard to believe.
'Same will happen in the final, Potter,' Rabastan called as he led Sita away from the three Gryffindors. 'She'll get it right, and you… you'll just fail.'
That evening Sita sat alone in the owlery. She was leaning against the window ledge with a sheet of parchment and her quill. She had decided to write to her father. She would generally have written him by now, but since she had discovered he was a Death Eater she found it hard to see him in a positive light.
How are you? Well, I hope. I'm just writing to tell you that Slytherin beat Ravenclaw the other day. I caught the Snitch thanks to my new Nimbus and Higgs's marvellously timed Bludger, and I'm positive Slytherin will win the Cup this year. The year is turning out to be tougher than I expected, particularly Potions and Transfiguration.
Prof. Slughorn paired us up at the start of the year and my partner is Sirius Black. I know, but don’t bother complaining; most of the Potions are singles anyway. I have to grudgingly admit that he's skilled at Potion making.
Rabastan, Sierra and Tobias are all doing well. Rabastan and I are currently seeing each other, though I'm sure Rodolphus has told you as much. I know what you are father and honestly, I wish you had told me. Maybe then I could have seen you in a better light. However, if following the Dark Lord is what you wish to do, feel free. Rabastan seems enthusiastic about it; perhaps I'm wrong in my views.
Once again I hope you are well, and say hello to Lucius for me.
Sita read over the letter a few times, deciding it was casual enough to send. Her father wouldn't be happy with her knowing his big secret, but perhaps the news that she and Rabastan were seeing each other could counter it. Sighing, she called down Fiachra and sent him on his way with the letter.
As she descended from the owlery, she wondered how her father would react to her knowing his secret.
'Where were you?' Rabastan asked as she entered the common room.
Her expression was thoughtful as she sat opposite him. 'I was in the owlery,' she replied. Rabastan stared at her for a moment as if he didn't believe her.
'Telling your father, were you?' Sierra asked from behind a large Herbology book. Sita nodded slowly before realising Sierra couldn't see her nodding.
'Yeah, I was. I hadn't sent him anything yet. I felt I should.'
'Right you are, Slytherin beat Ravenclaw. Surely he'll be happy to read that,' Tobias said cheerily, glancing up from his Charms notes.
'Are you okay?' Rabastan asked. Sita was only half aware of their questions and she appeared to be staring into space. 'Fine,' she replied quickly, shaking her head. 'I'm fine. Accio bag.' Her bag landed beside her and she pulled out notes from that morning's Potions.
'I still can't believe you got that right,' grumbled Rabastan. 'Mine went orange!'
'Well, you know, talent can be a late bloomer,' Sita replied grinning as Rabastan rolled his eyes. Sita watched him for a moment as he repositioned himself and continued studying his Defence notes.
'How long exactly has Rabastan liked me?' Sita asked Sierra that night as they climbed into bed.
'I dunno, since last year anyway. That's why he was teasing you on the train – Tobias told me – the letters had worried him a little. I think he thought you were teasing him,' she replied calmly, pulling the sheets over her shivering a little as she lay down.
No mail arrived for Sita that morning at breakfast. That was unusual; her father always replied the next day. Sita scowled over her dinner, wondering if anything had happened to him. She couldn't help but feel a little worried despite her dislike for the man. Reluctantly she rejoined conversation with the others without mention of her concerns.
She left for Transfiguration. Sita managed to catch up with the class and impressed McGonagall when she completed the task set before her partner. Sita grinned smugly as the Ravenclaw cursed under her breath. After Transfiguration she had Potions, meeting Rabastan on the way they wondered what Slughorn would have them do today.
'We'll be having a test today. Whoever makes the best Confusion Concoction today will win a prize,' Slughorn announced happily as the students trooped in. 'You only have one class, so hurry up.'
'Is it three lacewings or five flies?' Sita heard Sirius muttering to himself as he stood over his bubbling potion.
'Three lacewing flies,' Sita offered helpfully as she added her own. The fumes of the Potion often caused confusion among its makers. Sita was holding her nose to stop herself from inhaling the fumes and was doing fine. 'Then you add the sneezewort.'
'Sneeze... I don't need to,' Sirius replied sadly. He blinked suddenly. 'What did I... ?'
Sita gave him a sympathetic look before continuing with her own. 'Massaro, did you Confund me?' Sirius demanded.
'No, Black, it's the Potion.'
'Why would I Confund you? Chances are I'll need help later. Check Rabastan out,' Sita replied coldly. She sneezed violently from the sneezewort and accidentally inhaled some of the potion’s fumes.
'Okay, you're right, it makes no sense,' Sirius said, staring at his cauldron. He didn't know what to do next; his brain was too addled by the fumes. He sat happily watching everyone else. Soon enough, Sita joined him, and they chatted absently about nothing.
Slughorn came around the class examining Potions, when he reached Evans and Snape he smiled widely. 'We have our winners!' he announced happily. 'Mr Snape and Miss Evans had managed to produce a perfect potion.'
After a few more congratulations he approached Sirius and Sita, handing them both a small glass of Potion. 'Drink this, it'll help you think straight,' he instructed with a hint of amusement visible on his round face. Sita took a small sip and blinked violently.
'What happened?' Sirius asked as his wits returned to him. He looked around and saw a few other students looking just as bewildered. Sita laughed to herself as she packed up. 'What's so funny?' Sirius demanded.
'This class. It was fun,' Sita said before leaving.
Rabastan followed behind her for a while before speeding up and wrapping his arm around her. 'Hey, gorgeous.'
Sita blushed. 'Please don't call me that.'
'It makes me uncomfortable,' Sita answered honestly, giving him a small kiss on the cheek. Rabastan shrugged and proceeded to explain to her why he was better than Severus at everything.
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