Chapter 4 : An Invitation
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Saturday morning had brought an abundance of icy rain to the grounds of Hogwarts. As Rhea awakened to the darkness of the Slytherin sixth year girl’s dormitory she could faintly hear the gushing sound of rain pouring down on the castle and land above her.
In Rhea’s opinion, the biggest disadvantage to living near the dungeons was the lack of windows. She found rain quite enjoyable, and was fond of watching the droplets roll down the glass panes of windows; however that was quite impossible in the Slytherin dwellings.
Heavy breathing and the hushed sounds of her roommates’ creaking beds told Rhea that it must be fairly early. Rolling onto her back, Rhea stretched out her legs. Being an early riser, she was accustomed to being the first one up.
After a few moments, Rhea recalled the events of the night before, and sighed in disappointment when she realized that Regulus was no longer in bed next to her.
She ran her hand over the spot he had laid in last night. The dent where his body had been was still visible, and the sheets were wrinkled and warm.
Propping herself up on her elbows, Rhea shook the hair out of her face and frowned. Whenever Regulus spent the night with her he was always gone long before she aroused in the morning. She could not remember one time that she had woken up and found him still asleep next to her.
Forcing herself to leave the warm bed behind, Rhea gently moved her curtains aside and tiptoed across the room to her wardrobe. After slipping into one of her silk robes she exited the room, careful not to wake any of her roommates considering it was barely half past seven according to the small clock on her night table.
Running her hand lightly against the stone wall as she went, she strolled towards the common room hoping to find Regulus there, preferably alone.
She spotted him at once, sitting at the furthest table from her, scribbling away madly on a piece of parchment. His quill whisked back and forth as he ran a hand through his dark, wavy hair, his back hunched over to the point where it looked painful.
Very stealthily, Rhea made her way towards him, her eyes trained on the parchment. Who was he writing to? And why now of all times?
Now standing right behind him, he still took no notice of her prescence.
Rhea lightly grazed his shoulder, working her hand up and down his toned upper arm. Regulus stopped writing and looked at her over his shoulder, slightly surprised by her silent entry.
Rhea took his momentary pause to her advantage and sat herself on the table, using her hand to slide his parchment away from his grasp. She leaned back on both hands and crossed her legs, which were dangling over the edge of the table.
“What are you doing,” she asked in a low voice, a small smirk playing on her lips.
“Nothing”, he quickly replied. His eyes darted nervously from her face to the parchment that was securely pressed under her left palm.
“Rhea, may I please have my letter back?”
Rhea threw an amused glance over her shoulder to the parchment.
“Who’s it for?”
“A friend,” he said slowly, his teeth clenched in impatience.
“Oh?” She raised her eyebrows at him teasingly, pinching the letter between two fingers, and bringing it towards her.
Before she could comprehend what was happening Regulus bolted from his chair, knocking it over in the process, and violently snatched the parchment from her.
Rhea looked up in blatant surprise, her brow wrinkled; but she quickly recovered and stood to meet his harsh stare.
After a minute or two of glowering at each other the look on Regulus’ face softened, and he attempted to place his hand on her smooth cheek.
No such luck.
Rhea sidestepped his effort and folded her arms across her chest.
“Sorry,” Regulus murmured, dropping his eyes. “I didn’t mean to get all worked up. This letter just contains some private matters I’d rather not share with the world.”
Rhea’s face remained emotionless but inside she felt as if a lead weight had dropped into her stomach. Since when had sharing private information with her become sharing private information with the world? What could that letter possibly contain that was so dire she couldn’t know anything about it?
“Rhea?” Regulus spoke to her silence. “Just leave it, ok?”
“Fine,” Rhea snapped before turning back towards her dormitory, her guard up once again and the heavy feeling in her stomach replaced with anger.
No longer caring if she woke her roommates up or not, she stormed into the room and plopped down onto her bed. She yanked the emerald curtains tightly shut around her and slipped between the silky sheets. Worn out from her frustration with Regulus and calmed by the distant sound of the rain, she rapidly fell back into a deep sleep.
Rhea wrapped a fluffy, white towel around her damp body. The bathroom tile felt cool against her bare feet, and the room was still thick with steam from the hot shower she had stepped out of seconds before.
Rubbing at the mist that clouded the mirror with her fist, Rhea watched as her face appeared feature after feature before her. When she had uncovered a satisfactory amount of the smooth glass she stepped back and ran a hand through her dripping locks of hair which were almost a light brown when wet.
Bored with looking at herself, Rhea opened the bathroom door a crack and saw, to her relief, that her dormitory was empty.
Stepping into the room, which was much cooler than the steamy bathroom, Rhea made her way over towards her wardrobe to throw on some robes but the sight of a single red rose on her bed made her stop dead in her tracks.
“What the...” She mumbled quietly to herself, mystified by its appearance.
Now sitting on the edge of her bed, eyes still on the newly found rose, Rhea held out a hesitant hand but stopped mid-reach. Attached to the rose was a small piece of parchment.
Pushing all queries aside, she picked up the delicate rose and couldn’t help but stare at it in wonder. She didn’t happen to be a fan of red roses, but there was no denying that this particular rose was the most beautiful flower she had ever seen. Its petals, which were full and lush, contained absolutely no marks or bruises. It was flawless. It also seemed as if someone had cut all of the thorns off the long stem with great care.
Tenderly untying the white ribbon that held the tiny piece of parchment to the rose, Rhea read the message that had been scrawled on it in rather messy script.
“Meet me on the seventh floor across from the Barnabas the Barmy tapestry at seven thirty. Wear something nice. – Regulus,” She whispered to herself, eyes scanning the parchment over once more to make sure It wasn’t some sort of joke. It was his handwriting.
Shaking her head in bewilderment, Rhea placed the rose back on her bed and drifted over to her trunk. She was a bit wary of what Regulus was up to, but she couldn’t resist accepting his invitation and finding out for herself.
Regulus shoved his hands into the pockets of his black dress pants and started to pace back and fourth. He was standing on the seventh floor in front of a large oak door that he had conjured himself earlier that evening.
He had learned about the Room of Requirement last year while eavesdropping on a conversation between his brother and Potter; but he had never taken advantage of its usefulness until tonight. At first he had been skeptical to whether it would truly work like Potter said it would, but sure enough after walking by the blank wall three times and concentrating on what he wanted to appear, it had.
Nearly fourty-five minutes had gone by since he had shown up to make sure everything was perfect, and Rhea was now almost fifteen minutes late.
In the back of his mind lingered the miniscule worry that she wouldn’t show up at all. She had been decently upset with him earlier.
However, as quickly as they came, his worries dissolved as he saw Rhea step onto the landing of the seventh floor. Regulus sucked in a breath as she made her way towards him, an awed grin creeping across his features.
Her delicate body was adorned by a silk black dress which swayed right above her knees as she walked, and her thin legs, which stemmed from a pair of black stilettos, looked long and toned. Her skin, which was normally somewhat fair in complexion, glowed with a light tan from spending a lot of her summer holiday out doors, contrasting nicely with her blonde locks. In Regulus’ opinion the only way she could have looked more stunning was if her small, pink mouth had been smiling.
“Hello love,” Regulus murmured in her ear, taking both of her hands in his.
“Regulus,” She greeted him, her voice light and nonchalant. “How are you this evening?”
“Fantastic,” he answered, smiling at her. “Now shut your eyes,” he instructed.
Rhea inspected the oak door in interest before shutting her eyes.
“I don’t remember this door ever being here before,” she muttered. “What is this place?”
“The Room of Requirement,” he replied, one of his hands turning the door handle while the other rested affectionately on the small of her back.
“Now open them,” he demanded once they were in the room with the door firmly shut behind them.
At first the only thing Rhea saw was Regulus’ grey eyes twinkling at her, but then she took in the rest of the room and let out a soft gasp.
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