Chapter 3 : Perhaps It's Pride
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Hogwarts, though it provided a comforting sanctuary from Lucius’ constant prying and a break from the strict rules that her parents so sternly enforced, also presented boring lessons and difficult assignments that made Rhea’s brain ache in dull pain. The professors had already begun packing alarmingly large amounts of information into the sixth year’s heads. All of which they swore would be needed on the impending NEWTs.
The sound of Rhea’s unhurried footsteps on the stone floors echoed off the walls; resulting in sulking glares from many of the surrounding portraits residents, but the blonde Slytherin paid them no mind as she continued at her deliberate pace.
“Do you realize what time it is, Malfoy?”
Rhea briefly shut her eyes in frustration before turning around to face the offending voice.
She came face to face with none other than a scowling Lily Evans, her hands placed on her hips with an air of authority. Her Head Girl badge, polished and shiny looking in the dark corridor, was proudly pinned to the front of her robes, partially hidden by a curtain of thick red hair. Directly to her left stood James Potter, and much to Rhea’s amusement, he also sported a badge.
“Evans,” Rhea said simply, brushing a strand of hair over her shoulder.
“I’m afraid you didn’t answer my question,” Lily continued with her best effort to sound threatening. “Whether you are aware of it or not, you are out past curfew.”
“I’m afraid I didn’t realize,” Rhea replied nonchalantly as she prepared to turn her back on the two Head students.
“Oh, really?” Lily did not bother to disguise her disbelief. “I suppose you just fancied a stroll.”
Rhea smiled sweetly at the other girl. “I don’t believe a quick walk around the castle is anything out of the ordinary. Even ask Potter,” Rhea said motioning to James, “I’ve seen him and Sirius Black wandering around outside the castle at all hours of the night.”
Upon hearing this, James narrowed his hazel eyes, looking at her suspiciously, but Lily just seemed annoyed.
“What the other students do, especially Head Boy, is none of your concern Malfoy. I can assure you that any student caught out of bed after curfew is dealt with accordingly.”
“Well then I’ll just be on my way. Nice running into you,” Rhea offered and before either of the Heads could protest she spun on her heel and disappeared around the corner.
“Honestly Potter! I don’t know what in Merlin’s name was running through Dumbledore’s mind when he named you Head Boy. Obviously you don’t have the maturity or backbone to handle the position! You are about as useful as the giant squid when you just sit there and leave me to handle all the misbehaving students. If you weren’t so worried about having your popularity squandered then you might just possibly earn some respect. You can not expect to get by in life simply on your good looks and charm.”
James, who seemed to allow the first part of Lily’s rant go in one ear and out the other, permitted a cocky grin to stretch across his face as she spit out the last sentence.
“Did you, Lily Evans, just admit that I, James Potter, am in fact good looking and charming?”
James beamed in delight as Lily realized the impact of her words, the apples of her cheeks reddening as she howled in rage.
“You, James Potter, are an insufferable twit,” she snapped before storming up the stairs that led to the Girl’s dormitory, her tiny fists clenched into balls.
James watched her retreating back the whole way, his grin still in place.
“I think I’m growing on her.” He declared to Sirius and Remus who had watched the whole exchange from the common room couch.
“I reckon there has been some improvement,” Sirius said thoughtfully. “She didn’t threaten to remove any parts of your male anatomy this time.”
Remus nodded in agreement. “That had been a nasty row.” He said, recalling a particular argument that had taken place last year, without looking up the book he was currently reading.
James, oblivious to his friends’ banter, plopped down in one of the arm chairs, a dreamy smile on his face.
“What’s got her knickers in a knot tonight anyway?” Sirius inquired.
“Oh, she’s probably just sore that she didn’t get to hand out any detentions,” James said with a wave of his hand.
“I hardly believe that Lily is quite that sadistic,” Remus scoffed.
“Maybe not, but she’s been in a right foul mood ever since our run in with Rhea Malfoy,” James commented casually.
“Why, what’d Malfoy have to say?” Sirius asked.
“Nothing really.” James told him with a shrug, retelling the encounter to his two friends.
“I suppose it has got to do with pride,” Remus said wisely, receiving two confused glances on James and Sirius’ part.
“I mean,” Remus explained, “that Lily was likely upset by Malfoy’s obvious disinterest and belittling of her position as Head Girl.”
“Speaking of pride,” Sirius mocked, shooting a look in James’ direction, “If you don’t deflate that head of yours, Prongs, you might not be able to fit through the portrait hole.”
“Sod off you git,” James said, hurling a cushion at his mate.
Then two minutes later the satisfied grin reappeared on his face.
“She did call me good looking though.”
Rhea entered the Slytherin common room to find Regulus, Severus Snape, Connor Avery, Rodolphus Lestrange, Evan Rosier, and Bennet Wilkes standing around one of the small circular tables situated in the corner of the room.
Regulus was sitting in one of the chairs; his legs propped up on the table and his hands clasped behind his neck. To anyone else his face may have seemed calm and indifferent, but Rhea knew him better than most. Judging by the way his jaw was set and the slightly dark look behind his eyes, she could tell that something was bothering him.
“What are you lot up to,” She asked, receiving anything but pleasant looks from all of them.
“Rhea, now isn’t really the time,” Regulus replied coolly, and Snape gave her a look that clearly said “get lost”.
“Nice to see you too, Severus,” Rhea said icily, not appreciating the greasy, young man’s death stare. “Always a pleasure.”
Snape glowered at her, his dark eyes intense and almost disturbing, but she wasn’t fazed.
Straightening up to her full height, she strode across the room and settled into one of the large arm chairs. Ignoring the look Regulus was giving her, she began to read a Witch Weekly that someone had abandoned. In actuality, the magazine didn’t interest her at all but she wanted to know the reason behind the boys’ strange behavior.
When, ten minutes later, Rhea still hadn’t heard a word uttered from the other end of the room she gazed over the top of her magazine and found herself looking directly into Regulus’ grey stare.
Taken aback, she raised a fair eyebrow questioningly. “Yes?”
“Rhea,” Regulus growled softly, “is there a particular reason you’re still down here?”
“Is there a reason you’re interested,” She shot back innocently, narrowing her eyes slightly.
Regulus smirked and rubbed the back of his neck, his gaze directed at the floor.
“We’re having a bit of a private discussion and I think it’d be best if you went to bed,” He said bluntly, his eyes adverted back to her face.
Rhea slowly got to her feet and searched Regulus’ face while she pondered whether she should say something back or not. Deciding not to, she turned her back on him with one last, hard look and started to retreat to her dormitory. She felt Regulus’ hand discreetly brush her lower back but she did not turn around or stop. She knew it was a poor idea to mess with Regulus when he was in a foul mood, but she had her limits too. She detested when he got himself in a right mood and then thought himself king; giving out orders and expecting to get his way. She may have been leaving at his request, but she was leaving angry and she had made that perfectly clear to him.
As soon as Regulus was sure that Rhea was completely in her dormitory and out of hearing range he returned to the table, running his hand through his hair yet again.
“She looked pleased,” Avery chortled.
Regulus didn’t retort, but if looks could kill Avery would be flat on his back, dead.
“Now that that predicament is handled,” Snape drawled, giving Regulus a nasty look, “we can get back to business.”
Rhea jolted awake and sat upright in bed. A light sleeper by nature, she had an eerie feeling that she was being watched. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she went to open the curtains surrounding her bed just to realize that they were already open. Fear began to settle in her stomach but before she could bolt from bed or release the scream that was building up in her throat a hand, one much larger than her own, covered her mouth.
“Calm down, it’s me,” hissed the dark figure standing over her.
Rhea visibly relaxed as she recognized the familiar voice. She bit down lightly on his hand, just for good measure, and he immediately removed his hand from over her mouth.
“Are you mad,” he snapped quietly, sitting down next to her on the bed and closing the curtains once again.
Rhea pulled her wand out from under the pillow next to her and silently cast a silencing charm before responding.
“Are you? Honestly, Regulus, you can’t just go sneaking around, waking people up from a dead sleep. You nearly gave me a heart attack!”
Regulus didn’t respond, instead he busied himself by tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.
“What are you doing here,” she sighed, pushing his hand, which was now working his way up and down her arm, away.
“What’s the matter, not happy to see me?” He gave her his best pout but soon sobered up when she fixed him with her coldest glare.
“Rhea,” he whined, planting a kiss on her jaw.
“What were you lot talking about earlier tonight in the common room,” she asked, oblivious to his attempts of seducing her.
Regulus let out a loud sigh of frustration and jerked away from her, his eyes angry.
“It doesn’t concern you,” he spat.
Rhea glared fiercely at her boyfriend, her own eyes equally furious.
“Well then,” she seethed.
Lowering herself back into her mattress, she tuned onto her side, completely blocking him out, and pulled her down comforter back over her body.
She was almost back to sleep when she felt Regulus slip under the covers next to her and drape his arm over her abdomen, pulling her into his own body. After placing a delicate kiss on her cheek, he laid his head down on her pillow.
Part of her wanted to pull away, but instead she allowed herself to settle into the crevice of his body and fall into a deep sleep.
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