Jasmine woke on Saturday still none the wiser as to why she was there at all. Sighing, she turned over in her king-size bed remembering her first talk with her father for several years.
Jasmine stood outside the door of her father’s study reluctantly; she wasn’t sure how she had let her mother convince her to do this, but she had. Trying to pull herself together, she rapped her knuckles on the door and waited for an answer before going in.
Her father was sitting in his red leather high-backed chair when she went in. Looking at him, Jasmine thought that he couldn’t have been more different from his wife, but she knew he hadn’t married for love. Her mother was a pureblood who had had a huge fortune left to her. This made her perfect marriage material for a Vaisey whose fortune had long since dwindled. Diana had loved Malcolm, but she was no fool. In the end she married him because she knew he would keep her safe: she realised exactly what she was getting. He had carefully managed the money and had made their family rich again, forging once more the ties that had fallen apart as their money and power diminished. They were not as powerful a family as a few other pureblood families, like the Blacks, but they were no longer unworthy of such acquaintances.
“Jasmine,” Malcolm greeted his daughter coolly, though Jasmine was not expecting anything more.
“You wished to see me, Father,” Jasmine replied stiffly.
“Take a seat,” he instructed, indicating the chair opposite his desk. Jasmine apprehensively did as he asked.
“You are still finding Hogwarts to your liking?” he inquired.
“Uh, yes, yes I am,” Jasmine said, baffled.
“And how are your grades? You have N.E.W.T.s coming up soon, do you not?”
“Yes,” Jasmine confirmed, feeling that the situation was becoming very surreal. “My grades are good; I’m passing in all my subjects.”
“Good; and you are prepared for the NEWTs?” her father continued, as if they talked like this all the time.
“Well, we’ll be going into the revision period come Easter, but I should be fine.”
“I hear you are seeing one of the Blacks.”
“That’s right,” Jasmine said a little defensively. To her surprise, her father said no more on the subject.
“And you still associate with the same friends you have since your second year?”
“Yes,” Jasmine said once more, fully defensive now.
“They sound very…charming people. One of them is a McKinnon, I am told.”
Jasmine resorted to simply nodding, too dumbfounded that her father had called her friends charming to put together a coherent sentence.
“A terrible shame what happened to that family, of course,” Malcolm went on, his eyes shining strangely. “Well, it is lovely to have you back in the house for a while, Jasmine. You come here far too rarely. I will talk to you again soon; it’s been a pleasure.”
Jasmine stared at him for a moment before realising that she was dismissed. She quickly left the room, more confused than when she had gone in.
“Miss must be waking up now,” Kurdle said, his voice respectful as always as he opened the curtains at Jasmine’s window.
“Kurdle, whose House Elf are you?” Jasmine asked as she got out of her bed.
“I am a House Elf of your family, Miss, but my particular Mistress is your mother.”
“And if harm were to befall me, what would you do?”
“Why, I would protect you as best I could, Miss,” Kurdle answered at once, though something in his eyes made him look shifty.
“What if that would directly interfere with my father’s orders?” Jasmine asked bluntly.
“Ah, Miss, you ask of a situation which will not happen.” Kurdle avoided the question as best he could.
“Just say it did come about, would you do as I asked – what is best for me – or what my father would have you do?”
“Your father is the Master of this house and all the servants within, Miss,” Kurdle answered eventually, a sad note in his voice.
“Thank you Kurdle, that will be all.”
“Very good, Miss,” he said with a bow and disappeared from the room with a crack.
Jasmine slowly got dressed, pondering the meaning of her conversation with her father and the information Kurdle had given her. When she went down for breakfast, only her mother was sitting at the table in the parlour.
“What are you doing today, dear?” Diana asked, pouring some milk into her tea.
“Nothing much, though it would probably be good if I got some schoolwork done.”
“Don’t be silly, that can wait,” Diana said dismissively. “Why don’t you go to Diagon Alley with your sister? She’ll be arriving any minute, and she could do with getting some new clothes as she’ll be looking for a job over here.”
“Vanessa’s coming here?” Jasmine yelped.
“Why yes, didn’t I tell you? She’s moving back from France,” Diana said, smiling as she swept out of the room to answer the door, the doorbell having just chimed through the house.
Sirius flopped down on his bed with a sigh, wondering vaguely what Jasmine was up to.
“Anything wrong, Padfoot?” Remus asked.
“I guess I’m worried about Jasmine,” Sirius answered, staring up at the ceiling.
“It was only her mother who wrote, though. Didn’t she say that they still talked and all?” Remus pointed out reassuringly.
“That’s true,” Sirius agreed, sitting up. “It’s just that Jasmine seemed to think it was suspicious. I know I would be if it was my family, and our families are not so different.”
“The Blacks are an older, larger and, well, darker family than the Vaiseys,” Remus said sensibly.
“Yeah, she’ll be fine, I’m sure. But I do wonder how long she’s going to be gone,” Sirius mused.
“Of course you do; it’s always harder when you’re apart,” Remus said, carefully light, but Sirius had known him long enough to hear what wasn’t said.
“Oh Moony, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to remind you of Amelia,” Sirius said, horrified.
“Don’t be silly,” Remus said nonchalantly. He quickly got out an essay he hadn’t finished. Sirius took the hint and dropped the subject.
Although Remus kept up the appearance of unconcern until Sirius got up and left the room, he soon set his quill aside once the door closed. Sighing, he lay back on the bed, his hands behind his head.
It had been a year since Amelia, the only girl whom he had been out with during his time at Hogwarts, had left. It had only lasted five months, but for Remus it had been enormously significant. He believed he had fallen in love with her, and she’d told him she loved him too. His first mistake had been to tell her that he was a werewolf; she was distant with him for a while after that. But he had assured himself all she needed was time as it was a lot to ask anyone to accept. Then had come the Easter holidays, and she had gone to France with her friends. Remus had been uneasy about being apart from her, but she had seemed better with him over the previous week, and had told him he was being silly. She wrote to tell him that she’d met someone over in France, that she was sorry but she loved him, and that she wasn’t coming back. Remus had decided that getting involved with girls, in the way that Sirius and James were always encouraging, was not worth the effort. He felt like he was being stupid to be so affected by one failed relationship, but he couldn’t help it. He knew that it happened to everyone, he knew that just because he had loved a girl didn’t mean he couldn’t love another, and he knew that not all girls were like Amelia. Yet, a year later, he still hadn’t been out with anyone.
Sitting back up, Remus returned to his essay with determination. He picked up his quill and did what he always did: buried the problem deep within where no one went but himself.
“Jasmine!” Vanessa fairly shrieked as she came through the door, reacting the same way as her mother had and swooping down to hug her sister.
“Vanessa,” Jasmine tried to say pleasantly through clenched teeth.
“Oh, this is going to be so much fun! We haven’t been shopping together for years!”
“Vanessa, we’ve never been shopping together,” Jasmine corrected with a strained smile.
“How silly of me, of course we haven’t. Well, we’ll be able to make up for that now,” she went on cheerfully.
“Great,” Jasmine said, and Vanessa missed the sarcasm – or at least pretended to.
“Get your cloak then,” Vanessa ordered, looking at Jasmine as if to ask why she was still standing there.
With a sigh, Jasmine did as she was bid, and they flooed directly to Gringott’s to withdraw some money.
A goblin hurried over to greet them, recognising Vanessa immediately.
“Miss Vaisey,” the goblin greeted her with a bow. “If you had informed us of your coming we would have been happy to have whatever you required waiting for you.”
“Yes, yes,” Vanessa said, waving her hand as if to waft away a bad smell. “Just get us a couple of hundred galleons.”
“Of course,” the goblin replied, knowing that a customer of Vanessa’s fortune was not to be made to travel down to her own vault. He returned very quickly with the required amount and handed it to Vanessa.
“Thank you,” Vanessa said carelessly, taking the moneybag he proffered.
Once more the goblin inclined his head.
“Always a pleasure, Miss Vaisey.” His eyes darted a couple of times to Jasmine, betraying his uncertainty as to how to address her .
“Miss Vaisey as well,” Jasmine supplied, wishing it wasn’t true.
“My apologies, Miss Vaisey,” he offered, addressing himself to Jasmine. He then bid them good day and returned to his work as they left the building.
“Where shall we go first?” Vanessa asked as they stood outside of Gringott’s.
Jasmine couldn’t believe her sister was asking her opinion – not that she actually had an opinion in this instance, but that was beside the point. Even so, she shrugged, not really bothered.
As it was, Vanessa didn’t seem to need much input from Jasmine and dragged her round shop after shop of her own choice. Weighed down with much of Vanessa’s shopping, Jasmine felt her patience wearing thinner and thinner.
“Oh, look at that ring!” Vanessa exclaimed as they passed a jeweler’s. “Come on, let’s go inside.”
“No,” Jasmine refused, bracing herself for the verbal war that would follow.
Vanessa blinked at her a few times, but turned away from the shop.
“Well, if you don’t want to, of course we haven’t got to,” she said airily, much to Jasmine’s disbelief.
“Vanessa,” Jasmine said firmly, drawing her sister’s attention from the shop next door.
“Yes, Jasmine?” Vanessa replied.
“What’s going on, Vanessa? I am not going to look at another shop until you explain why you’re suddenly all interested in playing friendly sisters.”
Vanessa gave a light laugh that seemed to conflict with the look in her eyes.
“Why Jasmine, I can’t think what you mean.”
“Don’t give me that,” Jasmine snapped angrily, wondering if her sister really thought her stupid after the years they’d spent together.
“Well, I think that’s enough shopping for one day,” Vanessa said, opening the door to the shop.
“Didn’t I just say I’m not looking in another shop until you explain things?” Jasmine asked, her voice low.
“We’re going in to use the fire, that’s all,” Vanessa said, rather sharply in Jasmine’s opinion, but this made her relieved if anything: things seemed more normal when Vanessa snapped at her.
“I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on,” Jasmine demanded one more time, sending a mutinous look in Vanessa’s direction.
“Look, I don’t know what’s going on,” Vanessa finally said, carefully keeping her voice neutral. “All I know is that I have to keep you entertained today, and then Daddy’s going to give you a surprise when we get back.”
“What is it?” Jasmine asked suspiciously.
“I just told you I don’t know!” Vanessa exclaimed, finally losing her patience. “I don’t even know why he bothers, it’s not like you deserve any surprises or anything. And it’s not like it’s my choice to be stuck with you, either.”
“Well now that’s settled, let’s go back,” Jasmine said cheerfully, stepping quite willingly into the shop. If Vanessa was back to resenting her, then the world was normal enough for Jasmine to function in. She didn’t see the triumphant look in Vanessa’s eyes as she took a handful of Floo powder and threw it in the fire.
When Jasmine stepped out of the fireplace, she was surprised to see her father was in the same room, almost as if he was waiting for her. She recovered from her surprise quickly though, wanting to question him as to what was going on. He spoke before she could, however, and it was as if he had read her mind.
“Now, Jasmine, you must be wondering what on earth is going on,” he said reasonably.
“The thought had crossed my mind,” Jasmine said when it appeared he wanted a reply.
Malcolm walked across to his daughter, stopping a few paces from her.
“Well, don’t worry; you’re going to find out now.”
He held out a letter to her and, puzzled, she reached to take it from him. She knew somewhere in the back of her mind that it was a bad idea, and this seemed confirmed when her fingers touched the parchment. For the second time in her life, she felt that sickening jolt as distance screwed itself up into a single moment of travel: the letter was a Portkey.
Remus sat in the library, frowning over his Defence Against the Dark Arts homework. The other Marauders all had lessons, so he was struggling his way through a text on the theory of what a Patronus is actually made of. Next lesson they were summoning them, and Remus wanted to make sure he knew all about the subject. He didn’t even realise that someone was standing beside him until they gave a polite cough.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Remus said, looking up from his textbook.
“That’s okay, Remus, but what on earth’s so enthralling?” Alice asked him, glad to have found someone else with a free period.
Remus smiled apologetically.
“I wouldn’t say enthralling exactly, but I was reading about Patronuses. We’re supposed to be summoning them next lesson.”
“Ah, yes,” Alice said, seating herself opposite him. “Something he feels we all ought to be able to do.”
She didn’t need to say why.
“Can you summon one?” Remus asked her curiously.
“Yes, Frank taught me when he was being taught last year.”
“That’s quite an accomplishment,” Remus complimented her, impressed.
“It’s all willpower, which Frank is always telling me I have too much of,” she explained, grinning.
“Well you’re certainly talented at Defence,” he said, turning back to his textbook.
“We can have a practice at summoning one now if you like,” Alice offered. She was very bored and, in any case, she never minded helping Remus when he needed it. They had always got on well, though had never been particularly close friends.
“In the library?” Remus asked in an amused tone. “Madame Pince would love that.”
“Okay, so maybe not right here,” Alice conceded, smiling.
“You want to go try the common room?” Remus asked a little more helpfully. “It’s usually pretty quiet at this time of day.”
“Good idea,” Alice agreed. “Are you done with your reading, though?”
“It can wait; this will be more helpful,” Remus said, deciding to put aside his more boring work for the moment. Packing up his books, he followed Alice out of the library and towards Gryffindor tower.
Lily walked out of her last class, deep in conversation with James. She was starting to really feel comfortable in his presence and, to her surprise, she found him very easy to talk to. He could always make her laugh, and Lily found herself forgiving his slips without even thinking. It was almost worrying to her how much she could feel giving within her. That is not to say they did not argue still, but compromise seemed to come so easily now.
“What do you think about Sirius and Jasmine?” James asked her as they walked down the corridor.
“What do you mean exactly?” Lily questioned.
“Do you think they’ll last?” he elaborated.
“Jasmine’s never been in a serious relationship, which I don’t think you can class theirs as yet, but they have been getting along remarkably well. What’s Sirius like, relationship-wise?”
“Not the most serious of guys,” James admitted. “But they’re very alike people really; maybe that’ll help them.”
“Yeah,” Lily agreed.
James hesitated a long time before posing his next question.
“Will we last, do you think?”
Lily stopped in her tracks, turning to face James with a rather trapped expression on her face. Before she could say anything though, James had leaned down to kiss her. She responded instinctively and returned the kiss, arms entwining around his neck before she could think about James’s question. However, her brain soon caught up to the rest of her, and she pulled back a little.
James didn’t seem to notice. He was kissing her neck now; small kisses that made her heart flutter as though it had wings. But when she looked in his eyes and saw the strength of the desire in them she instinctively recoiled: an instinct that she could not quell.
“James…” she murmured as he returned to kissing her face and wrapped his arms around her waist. “James, I can’t promise you forever,” she said finally, wanting desperately to be honest.
He smiled against her mouth as he captured it with his own.
“Nobody can promise that,” he said reasonably, no longer wanting to walk down that road at that very minute, but Lily was insistent.
“I mean, I can’t promise…this, for always,” she tried again, resting her forehead on his to look him directly in the eye.
He was silent for a while, but he didn’t even pull back a little. Eventually he answered her.
“For now is enough,” he told her, truthfully.
Lily had to smile; she had no argument against that and he wasn’t asking her for anything she couldn’t give. Even so, she called a halt to this little session and led the way to Gryffindor tower.
James followed her without protest, not willing to push her just yet. He knew, by some instinct he couldn’t quite place, that he was doing the right thing by pulling back. Just because he’d broken down her initial defense didn’t mean that there still weren’t walls he couldn’t walk beyond. He’d have to trust for now that, in time, as that first wall had, the rest would come tumbling down.
Jasmine stumbled as she came to land, confused as to where she was. Looking around, she found that she was in what looked awfully like a graveyard, though it was hard to see clearly in the dark. With a sinking feeling in her stomach, she turned around in a frantic circle. Picking a direction, she made to run, but found she couldn’t.
“Come now, you have only just arrived,” said a cold voice that sent shivers up her spine. “It is impolite to leave without first thanking the host.”
A person Jasmine had no wish to see now or ever strode towards her, his wand outstretched and holding her in place. Behind him came a small group of hooded figures who enclosed her in a tight circle. Managing to focus her eyes further, she saw that it wasn’t actually his wand, but her own. She was defenceless.
“My, my, how you’ve grown, little Vaisey. A fierce spirit I see, and I like that in an opponent.” He paused to let his words sink in, though nothing else was reverberating in Jasmine’s head right then. “But we are no longer opponents. Did you think you could escape me forever when your father is such a good subject?”
Jasmine could hear the mocking sneer in his voice, and found that her anger was rising to give her strength.
“I’ll never take the Mark,” she spat with all the venom she could muster.
Voldemort laughed, as did the Death Eaters surrounding her. Jasmine could feel her nerve flickering, but still jutted her chin out stubbornly.
“You are willing to die for that choice then? As you would do if that was the choice you were presented with. As it is, this is of no consequence for you; in fact it is better if you have no visible mark at all,” he informed her, his eyes glittering menacingly. For some reason this filled Jasmine with more dread than the thought of receiving the Dark Mark had. “What would you say if I needed a well placed person? A spy you might say, but nothing quite so difficult.”
“That you’re looking in the wrong place,” Jasmine replied, managing to keep the quaver out of her voice.
“Well, that’s unfortunate for you because I have no other place to look. It would be so irritating to have met a dead end,” he said, his voice holding double meaning. “It just so happens that someone associated with you has become very interesting to me, very interesting indeed. And I have no doubt that you will be joining the Muggle-lover’s organisation sometime soon; you could be very useful there.”
“I’d never betray anyone to you,” Jasmine swore vehemently, trying valiantly to convince herself.
“Oh, I think you will.” He smiled cruelly, his red eyes piercing Jasmine with a deadly promise. “Crucio.”
Author's Note: I'm afraid it's still going to be updating every other week for a while, I seem to have agreed to be doing far too many things at the moment *rolls eyes*. And I had the worst trouble with this chapter, it took me forever to write so be nice please :) .
Thanks to Kibblemouse for beta'ing.
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