Chapter 2 : The Black Brothers and the Werewolf
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I was scowling at my transfiguration homework, imagining it was Sirius Black. Pesky little nuisance. I held the library book up in front of me, determined to block my view of the idiot. It took a moment to realise I hadn’t taken in anything I’d read.
I knew I should move. That would be the sensible thing to do. Black had so obviously taken the seat at my table (without asking, I might add) just to infuriate me. I should be above such petty games and concentrate on work instead. But I’d be damned if I was going to let the boy win.
Okay – inhale. Exhale. A few deep breaths later I was ready to pretend he didn’t exist. I put down the book and picked up my quill, ready to add a few lines to the essay. I was distracted again. I didn’t look up. Sirius was watching me. Just leaning back in his chair watching me. He was trying to get to me, I know. But still – I couldn’t work like that.
His expression didn’t change when I finally met his gaze. It was perfectly neutral – his face a mask. Despite my attempt to match his manner I felt my face crease into a frown. He raised an eyebrow in response and I found myself growing annoyed. I wasn’t some kindly Hufflepuff that would sit here and converse silently with faces alone. I was Claryce Turner the Ravenclaw, for Merlin’s sake! And I was not famed for my patience.
“Yes?” I finally asked, my voice as frosty as I’d hoped. He was a still a moment then swung forwards on his chair. His arms sprawled onto the library table between us as he leaned in towards me.
“I don’t like you.” He finally spoke. His voice was calm, simple. He was stating the facts. I was taken aback – that was rude. And no doubt that was why it bugged me. I opened my mouth to assure him I didn’t like him either, but what came out instead was another question.
“And why is that?” I was relieved to hear I didn’t sound desperate. Just polite.
“You spend a lot of time glaring at my best mate…” Pathetic, I thought.
“Your best mate is an ass.”
“Or maybe you just don’t know what to do with all that unrequited love.” What? Where had that come from? Unrequited love for who – Potter? “It’s okay. I understand – I’ve been there.” He must have seen I was angry, but he didn’t let up. He was needling me, yet I couldn’t help but take the bait. God, the Gryffindor could be such a Slytherin. “Well, I haven’t really but that’s beside the point. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you – his love’s lost to another.”
Merlin, it would feel good to hurt him. I took slow, angry breaths. I tried to come up with a scathing retort, but failed miserably.
“Don’t be ridiculous.” I settled for sending him my most venomous glare. Black didn’t flinch.
“I’m not.” I saw his lips twitch a moment before he added, “I’m serious.” It wasn’t until the next day, with a little groan of horror, that I recognised the pun. I must be the most slow-witted Ravenclaw there is. Sitting in the library I just continued to glower at him.
“Or is it the other one?” Black continued. “Do we have ourselves an ickle love square? You and Winters, eh?” I scoffed loudly, but the anger was still there. I shook my head at him in disbelief.
“No. Your best friend is simply an ass. You can tell Potter, if he has a problem with me to come and find me himself. He shouldn’t send his little lapdog to do his work.” Black looked amused.
“I’ll pass on the message.” I gave my head a brief nod, all set to make a theatrical exit but Sirius wasn’t done. “You know, he didn’t send me though.”
“Then why are you here?” I asked, increasingly frustrated.
“Because I don’t like you,” he repeated with a shrug. I wanted to tell him that made no sense, but instead found myself saying what I had meant to all along.
“Good. Because I don’t like you, and it would be a shame if the feeling wasn’t mutual.”
With that, I gathered my stuff. Shooting him a last venomous glare and striding through the library, I finally got my theatrical exit.
Black’s lips moved deftly over mine. I felt the stone of the wall cold on my back, as his hands stroked gently against me. His body pressed into mine. I wrapped my arms around his waist, drawing him – if possible – even closer. I lost myself in the kiss, heedless of everything but the way our bodies touched, the heat of his caress…
Abruptly, Sirius pulled away. His hands still held me, but his eyes were watching me curiously – speculatively.
“Maybe we should date again,” he announced in a very matter-of-fact tone. I scoffed in immediate disapproval, and his face broke into a happy grin. “I know, I know. That would be awful.” I repressed the urge to roar my approval. “But Remus is convinced what we’re doing is unhealthy.”
Sirius’ face was pinched with utter distaste at the words, and I allowed myself a smirk.
“What – kissing?” I mocked.
“And the occasional bit of sex,” he put in. I laughed.
“Why? Am I going to catch something?” Sirius grumbled some objection, but I wasn’t listening. “As if you could be bothered to convince any other girl to sleep with you, anyway. But don’t worry, Black.” I continued, extracting myself from him, and pushing him a step back. “You’re not getting any of that today.”
He groaned. “Why not? It’s because I mentioned what Remus said isn’t it?”
“No. It’s because you were thinking of Remus while you were kissing me,” I teased. He caught the implication and looked at me in outrage.
“But –” he spluttered. “You’ve totally twisted things… Gerty!” He let out a low growl, making me laugh in response.
“Sorry, Black. Guess you better go find some other girl to take care of those needs. Or guy…” I added dismissively. “Whatever.”
He was smirking too now, shaking his head in disbelief. “Dammit Beck! You got me fired up and everything.” I gave a careless shrug.
“Shame.” He grinned at me rather roguishly and I knew exactly what was going to follow.
Now may be a good time to fill you in on how things stand between me and Black:
We have an understanding.
We bantered relentlessly from the day we met. As we got older, neither one of us tried to deny that it wasn’t in huge part due to sexual tension. So finally, in fourth year, we’d given in to our hormones and (after out first romp in an abandoned classroom) begun to date. The thought makes me shudder. It was horrific. There wasn’t even any honeymoon period. We lasted all of three weeks. It soon became clear to both of us that you couldn’t have a relationship based on lust alone. Though, the other fourth years had tended to disagree.
Sirius and I took a much more practical view. The physical side was great. The sex was probably the only reason we’d lasted even three weeks. But when neither of us cared for the other side of things – the talking and giving a crap about eachother’s problems, it became clear we weren’t boyfriend-girlfriend material. I didn’t want to be obligated to another and Sirius was incapable of letting his guard down. So in what I consider one of my finest moments, I made a proposition.
We’d been upstairs in Sirius’ empty dormitory, seated on the bed and both feeling rather awkward. When we weren’t getting it on, what were we supposed to do?
“Sirius, this is ridiculous,” I finally sighed. He looked questioningly at me, so I elaborated. “This morning I wanted to skip class, but then I remembered I’d promised to meet you. I don’t like having to think of another person.” Sirius looked relieved.
“I know what you mean,” he agreed. “At breakfast, I noticed Jane Humphrey looked hot. But then I had to mentally scold myself because I figured thoughts like that weren’t fair to you.”
“A perfect example of our problem!” I exclaimed. “You just admitting to checking out some other girl and you know what Sirius – I don’t care. I mean, you could have slept with her and as long as you were still up for round two with me, I really wouldn’t be bothered.” He grinned at me, shuffling closer on the bed.
“Gertrude Beck – you only want me for my body.”
“Damn right!” I laughed. It was true. And he only wanted me for mine. Sirius wasn't one for sweet-talking hoardes of girls. Our relationship having already progressed to the sex stage, it was convenient for him to stick with it. Did the fact that I wasn’t fazed by this make me a slut? Maybe. I found it hard to care. After all, if it bothered me I would have missed out on some very thrilling experiences.
“So what do we do?” he asked. There was a glint in his eye, and I knew what he was thinking.
“We end it,” I said simply. That glint was still there.
“But…” He was watching me carefully. “The sex is really good.” I laughed again.
“That’s just too bad.”
“So we’re no longer dating?” Sirius asked, just to be sure. I shook my head.
“Thank Merlin.” He let out a sigh of relief, and fell backwards on the bed. I should probably have been offended but I found myself thanking Merlin with him. Already, it was as if a whole weight had been lifted off my shoulders. “I suppose that means sleeping together is off the cards too?” The suggestive curve to his mouth told me he didn’t believe his own words.
“That’s exactly what it means,” I lied softly. I crawled across the bed, moving towards him. The next moment, he’d grabbed my arm, rolling me onto my back so he could press himself on top of me. His eyes met mine, and there was the same unabandoned lust I’d seen before we’d deigned to give our relationship labels. He brought his face closer, his cheek brushing against mine.
“That’s too bad.” His voice was a throaty whisper, breath tingling against my ear and sending shivers down my spine. I gasped as I felt his fingers running gently across my chest, moving to undo the buttons of my blouse.
“Too bad,” I agreed again. My breath hitched as I felt his lips tracing down towards my neck. I gave a small moan of pleasure as he lingered, teasing the sensitive hollow where neck met collarbone. Then his hands moved down, to slip under my skirt, and my entire body was aflame.
I flipped him over, straddling him and pulling his t-shirt over his head in one smooth movement. My hand ran down his length, my lips following their descent. And then his lips had captured mine. He was back on top of me and we were both somehow naked. Everything was a beautiful, sensual, passionate blur. We’d just broken up, and the sex was better than ever.
Since then, I’d say our relationship has markedly improved. And I’m not talking about the physical bit any more. When you’ve seen someone at their most intimate moments, at their best and their worst, it’s hard to feel embarrassed around them. We have a very honest – for lack of a better word – relationship. We’ve come to understand how the other person’s mind works. And as we got to know eachother better we came to realise that we were never going to work out as a couple. Neither of us wanted it enough. And to be perfectly honest, neither of us respected the other enough. Still, I don’t always want to hex him. And he can actually make me laugh. In his own way, he’s very nearly a friend; and there’re very few people that can claim such a feat.
This was why, as we stood in the corridor leading down to the dungeons, Sirius still with that grin on his face, I knew exactly what would follow. It happened often enough. He silently took my hand, leading me up a marauder shortcut until we were in the Room of Requirement. One look at the room he’d dreamed up, which was devoid of everything but a large comfortable bed, confirmed my thoughts. I raised an eyebrow at him, but had no time to form words before his lips were on mine.
I’d said he wasn’t getting sex today, certainly not from me. I’d lied. Of course I’d lied. Hogwarts could get boring. What else was this much fun?
I gulped painfully. My throat was so, so dry. I was uncomfortably hot in my robes, and I was sure they could all see me sweating. How unbecoming. Yet, I couldn’t help it. Remus was the only one near the window and I couldn’t summon up the courage to go near him. Or to ask him to open it. At the moment I didn’t trust myself to string together a coherent sentence. Just then, the door opened and Lily Evans and Daniel Winters came strolling in, slightly out of breath.
“Gosh, it’s hot in here. Remus, open a window,” Lily implored. I glanced at her enviously. She made the whole talking thing look so easy. Remus, who’d been daydreaming in the corner, snapped out of his thoughts.
“Oh, sorry,” he said quickly to the room at large. “Are you guys hot?” There was a general murmur of indifference. How could they not all be sweltering?
“Well I am,” Lily declared obstinately.
“Why? What have you been doing?” Remus asked shrewdly, looking from Lily to Daniel next to her. They were both blushing now. I felt a small smile tug on my lips. He’s so adorable.
“Just open the window, Lupin,” beseeched Daniel. “Please.” Remus gave a cheeky grin that almost melted me.
“And stop looking at me like that, Remus. It’s not what you think… Look at poor Arabelle – she’s melting!” They couldn’t have heard my thoughts? Oh wait – they were talking about the heat. I felt my cheeks flush as Remus’ gaze turned to me. I prayed for him to look away quickly but his eyes lingered. I gave an inward groan. The last thing I wanted was for Remus Lupin to think of me as an unattractive, sweat-dripping wreck. His hazel eyes met mine. Merlin, he’s beautiful. He still hadn’t looked away and I began to panic. Was I supposed to say something?
“Er – It’s okay. I’m fine.” Why had I said that? I clearly wasn’t. Now he was going to think I enjoyed sweating in my robes. Remus raised an eyebrow at the obvious lie.
“I’ll open it anyway,” he offered. He voice had that low, hoarse quality to it. He knew I was lying. He stood, and a moment later the window was thrown open. He was so thoughtful. I found myself sighing wistfully and flushed as Remus turned to me. Oh no. He’d heard.
“Everything all right?”
“Thanks,” I spluttered, pretending the sigh had never happened and he’d never spoken. I quickly averted my gaze and caught Roger Mullins’ eye. He was suppressing a grin and my flush deepened. Had I been that obvious?
“All right there, Ara?” he winked with a grin. Oh God – I had.
“Fine,” I responded through gritted teeth. His smile widened. Would this meeting ever hurry up and start already? As if in answer to my prayers (it was about time He heard one of them) the Head Boy and Girl entered the room.
The meeting consisted of mainly a rundown of our duties; the importance of being fair and unbiased; the example we had to set. It was all very daunting. Then we were given instructions on patrolling the castle and a timetable drawn up of our schedule.
I started as people began calling out requests – who they wanted to patrol with. When they wanted to patrol… The voices calling out had become very confusing. I’d assumed I was going to be with Roger but apparently not. The Heads had decided that patrolling should be in pairs – one boy and one girl, each from separate houses. (Knowing my luck, I probably should have realised how that would turn out straight away) In the name of even-handedness and professionalism they claimed. I suspected it had more to do with Roger being brothers with the Head Boy, and wanting to be set up with the Ravenclaw sixth year.
I noticed Remus. He was silent; gazing out of the window, eyes fixed on the moon. Alone of me, he was the only one not shouting out requests. He seemed to have other things on his mind. I looked up at the moon and noticed it was nearly full. I felt a pang of sympathy. Was that what he was thinking about? In a few nights, when he’d become a whole other being entirely… He must have felt my stare because he turned around. I moved quickly in my seat, not wanting to be caught watching him. I faced the front again and realised he’d actually turned because the Head Girl had said something.
“Yes, that’s fine,” Remus nodded. Then he gave me a small smile. Oh my – that wasn’t good for my health. I felt my heart actually stop.
Wait. He gave me a small smile? Why had he done that? I was looking around the room, trying to figure out what I’d missed. Jersey Wallis, the Hufflepuff sixth year, saw my confusion and gestured to the front. I turned quickly to look. The Head Girl seemed quite annoyed.
“Well Arabelle?” She spoke like she’d been waiting ages for an answer. I froze. What if she had? And I hadn’t answered because I’d been too busy daydreaming about what Remus might be daydreaming about… Stupid, perfect, lovely Lupin. Thanks to him I didn’t even know the question. “Well?” Her tone was sharp now.
“Yes,” I nodded because this seemed to be as good an answer as any. She looked at me strangely for a moment but then nodded too.
“Okay, good. That’s all settled then.” I nodded more confidently this time. Clearly the answer made sense. I just had no idea what I’d agreed to. “You’ll have to be up at five.”
“What?” I yelped, before I could stop myself. There was an outbreak of laughs around me but Roger’s laugh was loudest amongst them all.
“Shut it Mullins,” grinned his brother, the Head Boy. But the older Mullins was laughing too.
“You haven’t been listening to a word I’ve said, have you?” demanded the Head Girl.
“Of course I have.” I was such a bad liar. The older Mullins guffawed at this. I really ought to remember their names.
“Look at the board, Arabelle,” he suggested. I did as instructed. There, chalked next to Remus’ name was my own. And next to it – ‘5 am patrol’.
“Err, right.” That arrangement did not work for me for two reasons. My desperation to avoid making a fool of myself in front of Remus and my intense dislike for mornings. I willed myself to stay silent and accept my fate, but in my mind the reasons not to were too good. “And what would we patrol at 5 am?”
“You really have not been listening!” The Head Girl was easy to anger. I must remember that. I didn’t bother to lie again, simply shrugged sheepishly.
“I think Ara’s mind has been elsewhere,” Roger put in, eyebrows raised archly towards me.
“Shut up, Roger.” I grunted. I had no idea how he knew about my crush, but I had no doubt he knew. His lips twitched, but he raised his arms in surrender.
“Oh just get out the lot of you,” snapped the Head Girl. There was intense disapproval in her eyes when she looked at me. “You’ll do the patrol whether you like it or not. 5 am. Meeting’s over.” With that she turned on her heel and stormed out. Older Mullins shrugged his shoulders at us.
“You heard her. Class dismissed.” As the room began emptying I stayed in my seat. What was I supposed to be doing? 5 am? What day? Where? I groaned and put my head in my hands.
“Come now, I’m offended.” Remus’ voice was light and teasing. “I’m not that bad.” I lifted my head to find him standing over me.
“Oh no, it’s not that,” I hastened to explain. How could he think it was him? Okay – so it was him. But it was mostly me. My love and hate. It was my love for him (leading to an irrational fear of being near him). And my intense hate for mornings. “Honestly, Remus. It’s not you at all…”
“I was kidding,” he laughed. I fell abruptly silent. Of course he was kidding. God, how stupid was I? He seemed to be waiting for me to say something. I would have loved to speak. Trouble was, there was not a lucid thought in my head. I highly doubted he wanted to hear the ‘love and hate’ reasoning. He cleared his throat awkwardly, then continued.
“I suppose you want to know where we’ll be patrolling.”
“Oh!” I realised that logic in that straight away. “Yes. Please.” He held out a hand to help me off the chair.
“Should we start walking?”
I would have to take it. It would be rude not to. Not that I needed help getting off my chair. But he was such a gentleman. Although, come to think of it, if I was ever going to forget how to stand up from my chair and make a fool of myself – it would be now. Maybe I should be grateful for his help. I’d hesitated too long already; I had to make a decision. I took his hand and stood quickly up. He was warm, and I felt slightly giddy. His eyes met mine and I shivered. He looked at me in concern as he dropped my hand.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Just…cold.” His eyebrows shot up. I told you I was a bad liar.
“I’m sorry.” He seemed utterly bemused. Adorably bemused. I caught myself before another sigh could escape my lips. “I suppose I should have closed the window…” Oh God. Why did it always come back to that blasted window? “It’s just – you look slightly flushed. Are you sure you’re all right? I mean, I think you might have a fever.” My cheeks burned brighter. In hindsight, there it was – the perfect out. Tell him I’m ill. But me being me, I spoke without thinking.
“Oh no, I feel fine.”
“You’re really sure?” Why was he so thoughtful? We barely spoke. If I wasn’t bordering on stalkerish I’d know next to nothing about him. None of it came from the man himself.
“Yes, I’m sure. It’s just this room. Gives me…temperature problems. You know?” He clearly did not know. Hell, I didn’t know. His eyes were slightly apprehensive. Oh God, he thinks I’m a crazy person. But he smiled kindly and nodded,
“Sure. Shall we get out of here then?”
I nodded hastily and followed him out of the door.
“So…” I began. “What’s happening at 5 am?” I was so flushed with my victory at forming a coherent sentence, that I didn’t notice Remus was nowhere near me. I turned to find him at the top of a set of stairs.
“Err…” he began awkwardly. “Isn’t your common room this way?” I looked where he was standing. Yes it was down that way. I was blushing profusely.
“No,” I blabbed out, determined to cover my mistake. His brows furrowed. He knew I was lying. “I mean – yes. It is. But… Well I prefer not to go that way. I don’t like to use those…stairs.” When would I learn that nobody ever fell for my lies?
“Oh.” Remus looked at me. “Can I ask why?” Yes, he clearly thought I was crazy. He definitely wasn’t wrong.
“Well they’re just kind of…unlucky.” Remus nodded slowly.
“Sure,” he said again, as if that was entirely plausible. But I didn’t miss the look on his face. The look that said, ‘woah – this girl’s got issues.’ “We’ll go this way then,” he agreed, walking to catch up with me.
“Thanks,” I mumbled. I thought there was something sympathetic in the look he gave me. Did even he know how I felt about him? Was that why he was being so nice – because he knew I turned into a blabbering wreck anywhere near him? I resolved to keep my mouth shut and focus on walking. At the moment I didn’t trust myself to do anything, let alone two things at once.
“So 5 am?” He turned to look at me. I gave a small nod. The no-talking thing was not going to work. I’d just have to keep my words to a bare minimum.
He waited for me to say more. But I didn’t.
“Right. Well… We’ll be patrolling Mondays and Fridays.” I nodded at the information, refusing to look at him. My feet could not be trusted unsupervised. “Err… And it’ll be outside. Just around the grounds. There have been some sightings of students out of bed. The theory is, if they’re not caught at night they’ll be caught returning to the castle in the morning.”
His voice gave nothing away; he was much better at lying than me. I hid my face, determined he wouldn’t see that I knew those students were he and his friends. They were out of bounds far too often for their own good. I’d never seen them in the actual grounds though – and God knows I’d looked. I’d only overheard their conversations. I nodded my head, and figured now was time for a word.
“Right…” We’d reached another set of stairs. He looked at them uneasily. “Err… Are these stairs okay for you? They’re not – unlucky?” I managed a smile that was more of a grimace.
“No, they’re fine.” Now that we were standing still, I felt three words were safe.
“Oh. Good. So would you like me to walk you to your common room?” He seemed quite happy to offer, but I couldn’t disguise the horror in my voice. Or face.
“Oh. No. No, please. It’s fine. I’m sure I’ll find it. I’ll be okay…” He actually laughed at this.
“Well of course you’ll find it. After four years I wouldn’t expect any less.” I decided not to tell him about last year when I had in fact gotten lost. “I just thought you might want some company…” I shook my head firmly.
“No. Definitely not.” His eyebrows raised at the insistence in my tone. I hoped I hadn’t offended him. “It’s just… No.”
“Okay.” He looked at me strangely. “No problem. I’ll get going then.” I felt slightly guilty. The only way to make amends would be to tell him that I did want him to walk with me. But I couldn’t handle another moment this close. He gave a small wave, a wary smile, and began heading up the stairs. I inhaled slowly. It was okay. He was gone. I could relax. I stepped onto the staircase; jumping the trick stair I knew was there –
And falling through the other trick stair I’d forgotten right beneath it. I landed awkwardly, wedged in the staircase up to my elbows and groaning aloud.
“Merlin!” A loud voice exclaimed from above me. “Arabelle?” The sound of footsteps running. “Are you okay? Arabelle?”
I was too mortified to respond. He saw that? Of course he saw that. When did the fates ever pass up the opportunity to make me look a fool in front of perfect Remus?
“I’m fine,” I mumbled in embarrassment. He was near me now, crouching down so as to be on my level. “These stairs, they’re just…” I broke off in embarrassment. But he knew what I was going to say. I saw the ghost of smile flicker on his face as he completed my sentence…
“Unlucky?” I nodded in response. “Okay. Let me help you up…”
He was close. Far too close. Stupid, perfect, lovely Lupin. He took a hold of my arms, and gently began helping me out of the hole.
God, I love him.
I stood next to Regulus, watching the scene with very little interest. His face mirrored my boredom. That was another reason I liked him. Regulus was handsome, a pureblood, intelligent, a seeker (a year younger than me, sure - but that hardly mattered). He was everything I could want in a boyfriend. He was everything a Slytherin should be too. But there was one thing that set him apart from the others; that look of boredom was it.
In front of us a group of my housemates were torturing and bullying some Hufflepuff fourth year, their expressions one of utmost glee. I didn’t know who the fourth year was, so I found I couldn’t get excited like the rest. There was no appeal in taunting him for its own sake. Had he been a Gryffindor, or even mouthy and disrespectful in some way, I would have taken some vindictive pleasure in watching his scared features. As it was, I was just impatient to get down to dinner.
Regulus looked at me, rolling his eyes slightly, and I grinned in response.
“It shouldn’t be too long now,” I pointed out. “The boy’s nearly crying.” Regulus’ lip curved slightly in response.
“I wish he’d just hurry up and crack already.” There was a brief silence in which the boy tried to speak, but a swift silencing spell rendered him mute. “This is boring.” I nodded my agreement. “Do you want to just head down to dinner? They’ll catch us up.”
“That, Reg, is the cleverest thing you’ve said all day.” He gave me a small smile.
“I do try.”
“Clearly not hard enough.”
He grabbed my hand, probably a little more roughly than necessarily, shooting me an affronted look. I laughed, and as he relaxed his grip, settled my hand more comfortably into his. He tugged me along and we strode unwaveringly from the scene.
“Oi! Regulus – where you going?” I recognised Avery’s voice. Regulus didn’t even turn around.
“Away.” I answered for him. “We’ll be at dinner when you’re done. Enjoy.” I finished, allowing my gaze to run briefly over the fourth year. He was cowering against the wall now. They hadn’t hurt him much. None of us wanted to be expelled. It was mostly just verbal assaults and a few childish hexes. There was a little bit of blood seeping from the corner of his mouth and Nott had taken his wand. But other than that…
“You know, Ive – I am hungry,” Avery mused. “Maybe we should just finish up later.” Nott gave a small shrug, but he didn't look happy.
“You coming or not?” Regulus asked impatiently, his hand leaving mine as he turned to face them. “Because Audrey and I are leaving.” He made to move again, when Nott seemed to come to a decision. He lifted the silencing spell and then turned to throw the boy’s wand as far as he could. It landed on the other end of the corridor with a small clatter as Nott led the others to catch up with us.
“Yeah, come on. Lets eat.”
“See you soon, cry baby,” Rookwood called, waving at the boy. There were no arguments so we continued on our way, the boy all but forgotten.
As we neared a corner, I saw a little girl come out of a classroom we’d just passed. The others ignored her. But I turned my head to see her looking at us with dread. She couldn’t be more than a second year. Maybe even first. She saw me looking and quickly averted her gaze. That’s when she saw the boy. I’d stopped walking and – grabbing his hand – forced Regulus to pause with me. I saw the look in the girl’s face as she recognised the boy. There was horror, and something that was more than fear; she was completely and utterly delirious. She seemed to forget about us as she ran towards him. There were tears in her eyes. I thought the reaction was a bit excessive until she spoke.
“Robbie!” Her voice was almost a scream. She stood over him, shaking like a leaf and with no idea what to do. So she knew him. That’s why all the concern. “Robbie!” she sobbed again. And the boy – Robbie, finally seemed to hear her. He looked up, and seeing me and Regulus and the little girl in front of him, there was immediate worry in his face.
“Go away, Millie.” He tried to make his voice firm, but it came out as a groan as he struggled to pull himself to his feet. He was finally standing, leaning against the wall for support. His eyes once more flitted between us, and the little girl. I realised he was worried about her safety. Scared we would attack her.
I felt somewhat insulted. What about me said I would attack a helpless little girl, when I hadn’t even raised a finger to hurt him? True, I hadn’t raised a finger to help either but why should I? He was nothing to me.
“Millie, I’m fine. Please. Go.” I was suddenly glad that the others had decided to keep walking. If they’d heard him say that, they would no doubt take it as their duty to ensure he wasn’t ‘fine’. Never mind that he was clearly lying.
“You’re not,” the girl insisted. Regulus’ hand was still on mine, and I was glad of it. The girl’s feeble retort made me quite sad. “You need to go to the Hospital Wing. Robbie we have to go. Or should I go get help? Robbie, what should I do?” The girl was practically pleading. Robbie’s eyes flickered over to us once more, making sure we hadn’t moved. He took a deep breath, wincing and grabbing hold of his side as he spoke.
“Millie,” he finally spoke, his voice calm and assessing. “I promise you – I am fine. If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll go to the Hospital Wing. Okay?” He gave her what I considered a brave attempt at a smile. “But first can you do me a favour?”
The little girl nodded her head eagerly. I noticed her dark blonde hair was the same colour as the boy’s. They had the same button nose. For the first time, I wondered if they were related. The thought made me feel absurdly guilty; I hadn’t even done anything!
“Can you just go grab my wand?” He gestured to the end of the corridor. “I-I dropped it.” It didn’t look like the girl believed his excuse but she scurried off to fetch it nonetheless. Beside me, I felt Regulus’ own hand – the one that didn’t hold mine – take a firm grip on his wand. The boy raised his eyes to us and there was a hard glare in them. He was angry and ashamed. He was frightened too, though. I could tell that. He looked away when Millie came running back.
“Here you are.” Millie reached out her hand and Robbie took his wand from her with a small smile.
“Thank you.” I saw his hand twitching on the wand. He stole another glance at us and I knew he was dreaming of ways to take revenge. He wouldn’t do it though. He was scared. For the little girl as well as himself. Millie saw him looking at us and seemed to remember the group she’d seen earlier. Her eyes widened into that same look of dread.
“Robbie.” She whispered, though Regulus and I heard it clearly. “Was it them?” He couldn’t tear his gaze from us. “Robbie!” she pestered. He finally looked away and back down at her. She really was tiny.
“No.” He shook his head softly. “Come on, Millie. We have to go.” I could tell he was less than pleased about having to turn his back on us but Millie wouldn’t stop looking, and he was determined to get her away.
“Was it them?” she repeated stubbornly, tears in her eyes – shaking once more. Robbie reached down and took her hand.
“Come on, Millie. Hospital Wing, remember?” His voice was stronger than earlier. He turned around, her hand held tightly in one hand and his wand in the other.
“Robbie…” I heard the girl again. They were nearly at the other end of the corridor. Her voice was thick with tears. “Robbie we have to go tell Daniel. He’ll know what to do. Should I go get Daniel? Maybe write to mum?”
I saw the boy slowly shaking his head. They finally turned the corner, and I watched the deserted corridor for a moment longer. The feel of Regulus’ hand giving mine a small squeeze, broke me out of my reverie.
“I guess that was his sister.” His voice was simple. Matter-of-fact. I turned to see he still held tightly to his wand. I nodded my head, not knowing what to say. Throughout it all, he hadn’t let go of my hand. I recognised it for what it was: An attempt to provide me some small comfort, to maybe even take some for himself. He’d let me know that he understood what I was feeling and more importantly yet – that he cared. And now, he gave me a small smile. Our eyes met and I saw in him some whisper – some shadow of my own feelings.
“Stupid Hufflepuffs,” he spoke abruptly. “They’re hardly worth the trouble. Someone ought to tell the others. They’ll never figure it out themselves.”
He turned on his heel and continued leading us towards the Great Hall. He was suddenly the perfect pureblood again; completely unaffected by all that had just happened. But that was a lie. He’d felt something and I knew it. More than just the obvious scorn at their public display of weakness. We released eachother’s hands as we entered the Great Hall; there was a time and a place for such intimate gestures of affection. He’d felt something and for just a moment he’d let me see it. He’d let me share it with him. And that was what made Regulus Black so special.
A/N: Chapter two done. Sorry if it seems a little bit slow... I have so many ideas in my head that I'm very aware none of them have manifested in the text yet. But to be fair - it is only chapter two. If you got this far... Thanks! Hope you enjoyed. And please - please (I'm practically begging here people - have a little pity :P) review!
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