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The Life and Death Brigade by prosgal
Chapter 6 : The Easy Way is Overrated
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 12


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Chapter Six: The Easy Way is Overrated


Year Six, April

How had it come to this? They had been barely friends. Dom might have to admit that he had started when he was bothering Cassidy. She’d been failing at transfiguring an umbrella for homework and suddenly she was betting him she could make it levitate. Now they were standing on top of the Astronomy tower, prepared to take a jump with charmed objects.

"What would you say are the odds of this working?" he finally asked, peering down. It wasn’t the height that scared him; it was the painful ground hitting part.

Cassidy had paused and screwed up her face in concentration "Hmm I'd say about forty percent" she concluded and relaxed again with the creases on her forehead disappearing.

"So there's a sixty percent chance that we are going to fail and most probably die"

He hadn’t wanted to agree to this but surprisingly even Falon had in the end when Cassidy played the bravery card. He couldn’t get beat by a Gryffindor, even if this one wasn’t so bad.

"I prefer to see the glass as two fifths full" Cassidy smiled. He hated her optimism especially right now.

"Well when it comes to my life, I prefer to be realistic”

"Well that's the not the right frame of mind, if we were being realistic then we'd be more likely to fail. Logic would kill us, do you really want logic to kill us?" she pointed at him accusingly.

He refrained from speaking any further. Clearly anything that made sense wasn't welcome in this conversation.

“We all have brooms with us, if we aren’t floating by the measured spot, then we activate them and surge forward” Rafe reminded him. He was thankful for the smart thinking Rafe, without him Cassidy would have them jumping to their definite deaths. But still...

“Yes, because one thinks so clearly in the split second of opportunity while plunging to their deaths.” He had to add more doubt in the end.

Cass looked down, some sort of darkness crossed her features. Dom felt surprised, she was actually going to back out? Good, if Cassidy backed out out then the other two would realize just how crazy this idea was.

But she didn’t step away; instead she dropped her broom. “No, I’m not doing this with all this extra safety, it will ruin the experience” she announced.

The three of them only held their brooms tighter.

“You’re mad” he shouted at her “We’ll probably barely live with the added precaution”

She turned back at him, looking just as annoyed “I’m not taking the chance that fear will win and I’ll use the broom. I’m going full risk, and trust me; I’ll be the one getting the rush of a lifetime.”

“We can’t let you do that, please pick up your broom” Falon pleaded.

“Look, the point of the Live and Learn Society is to be uncertain and all chancy.”

“I still don’t like that name” Rafe commented.

“I still don’t like that you seem to think we’re in some sort of club” Dom muttered. He heard the noise of something dropping and looked in Falon’s direction. She’d dropped her broom also.

“I can do this, I can do this” she chanted to herself quietly with her eyes squeezed shut.

“Heck yeah you can” Cassidy cheered.

She was getting more confident by the second. “I’m a Gryffindor; I should be the first to jump!” Her eyes snapped open and she set her face in determination.

Cassidy let out a loud whoop “You go Gryff!”

“But please don’t actually jump first” Rafe begged politely, and grinning sheepishly at Dom, dropped his broom as well.

Dom scowled. Of course he had to give up his broom now. This sounded a bit like that peer pressure thing their professors sometimes warned them about. Instead of dropping his precious Comet, he set it down with a little more dignity than the others.

“Alright there will be no counting down, when I say pumpkin, we jump” Cassidy ordered.

Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea. If he had surged on his broom while the others floated then he’d never live it down.

“PUMPKIN” she screamed and they jumped.

And they were falling rapidly, right hands clinging to the umbrella handle. He resisted every impulse to close his eyes and let the images speed by him.

And half way down the umbrellas opened just like she planned. And the falling now rapidly decreased.

Through it all he could hear Cassidy laughing hysterically, his umbrella was spinning slowly to other views. He could see Falon was ghostly white and eyeing her umbrella warily. Rafe was counting down as he watched the ground.

two,

one,

And they landed exactly when he said they would. Though not quite gracefully, Cassidy slipped on her rear and the others had stumbled forward.

He’d plunged downwards on his broom probably thousands of times but this had felt so much different. Cassidy was right. It was all about the uncertainty, the lack of safety, life and death rotating so closely together.

Rafe dropped his umbrella and was the first to speak “That was amazing”

Cassidy was jumping up and down with her fists in the air. “Amazing? It was like freebasing ice cream!”

Falon took a few wobbly steps backwards until she was leaning against the cold wall of the castle. Dom could see her smiling in satisfaction.

He turned to Cassidy “We’re not dead you crazy woman!” he shouted and picked her up, spinning around the surprised girl madly.


>^<

“What the sorting hat says to you is very private” Falon argued. Her three friends made faces at her.

Cass's stomach growled. She’d eaten quickly and dragged Falon to the Room for scheming but instead found a studious Raver and a napping Dom. Dom was always napping in here, they’d even stolen a mattress for him along with some pillows. At first they would find him here after Quidditch practices but lunchtimes were now common as well. Well he was awake now, and as much as she enjoyed the chatting, she wanted to get the balls rolling on her little project.

Falon meanwhile was using this opportunity to stick some of the knight pictures into the Book.

Dom rested his hands behind his head “The hat didn’t say anything particular in my case, it was just Slytherin! and I was sorted.”

“Me neither, born Ravenclaw” Rafe added from the desk across the room.

Cass twirled her hair “I told it I thought I’d look best in yellow and it agreed.” This was sort of nice actually; they were never usually in the Room at the same time unless it was planned beforehand.

She played with her new set of Quills, each a different vibrant colour. Dom had given them to her for her birthday on the weekend. Falon bought her a shimmering gold scarf she was already wearing and Rafe got her some video cassettes of her favourite movies. She felt a little sad she’d have to wait until winter break for the magic of Cary Grant.

She knew they all felt bad, her birthday wish involving the prefect tub had fell through and would have to pull off at a later date. Still, she hadn’t expected anything more than a card and loved each and every one of her presents intensely.

“Come on Gryff, it’s your turn” she reminded lazily, twirling a red quill.

Falon turned her head so she couldn’t see them all looking at each her. “I’m not telling you guys what the hat said to me” she told them again.

Rafe closed his book “Must have been good then” he guessed as he packed up his things. “Class guys” he prompted them.

Dom sat up from his lounging position and followed him out but Cassidy held Falon back. “Oh right” the girl remembered “What did you want to talk about?”

Cass slipped a fresh quill in her mouth corner of her mouth and cracked her knuckles. Inspired by her Cary Grant favourite, she went in a character mood.

“Look here you see, I'll give you the skinny on the situation and the situation is this. You and me partner are in the game, and that game is love”

“Maybe you could repeat that, at normal speed.” Falon wasn’t really getting into it. Curse her stifled life.

“Time is money and we barely have a dime, now about this plan, this scheme of ours. I gotta friend, matter of fact, two friends. One’s a boy one’s a sweet young gal, see where I’m going with this?”

“No” she answered blankly “You’re talking a mile a minute.”

Cass scoffed rolled up her sleeves, it was time to bring out the big guns “Darling, I'm gonna walk right up to you and hammer on that monkeyed skull of yours 'til it rings like a Chinese gong!” she used the female Hildy’s words for her threat.

Falon got up to leave. Okay, maybe she took it too far. She pulled her friend back.

“Fine I’ll stop, but one of these days we’re going to have to watch His Girl Friday and you’ll wish I always spoke like that”

“Well at least I can hear what you’re saying now, even if I still can’t understand it”

“And they pity us muggleborns, purebloods are so hopeless. Look what I wanted to say is that I’ve joined the Mary Macdonald front and I’d like your help”

“And how would I help with that?” She asked, standing up again “Come on or we’ll be late.”

Cass hopped up and followed her “I haven’t exactly worked out the details yet, the first step is recruitment.”

“I don’t really think this is my field of expertise.”

“Well I’d appreciate any help but you bring up a good point, male perspective is needed for an assignment such as this. OI DANNNY!” Cass yelled across the hall at a group of students leaving a classroom.

An awkward boy in a Hufflepuff uniform stopped and turned around. A goofy grin spread on his face and he jogged over to them. As he neared, Falon could see that he was in definite need of a good haircut; his brown hair fell over his eyes and seemed to obscure most of his view.

She guessed that this was Daniel, Dom’s little brother, who she knew already that Cass was friendly with.

“Hey Cassidy, how’s it going?”

“Spiffing little Donnelly” She put an arm around the shorter boy. “You know my good pal Rafe ‘Raver’ Andrews right?”

“Yeah, isn’t he in Ravenclaw?”

“Indeed, and we’re all so proud. Listen up, we have recently taken on the plight of a young lady in love and were wondering, as a male, what sort of advice you could give us on being, obtained, shall we say.”

Daniel went into deep concentration. Cassidy felt triumphant, as she felt the perfect advice had to be forthcoming.

"Can't you just ask Rafe if he likes her?" he finally put forth. Drat, the boy would be no help to them this day.

She patted him on the head forgivingly. "Of course not, Rafe doesn't know he likes her yet so he'll say no and not realize what a mistake he’s made" she explained.

"I don't know” Falon was agreeing with the boy now “it all seems so engineered, shouldn’t this happen naturally”

Great now her partner was missing the big picture. “Look I know I’m the hardcore romantic here, but even I believe that love at first sight and soul mates are kind of non existent, people need a push”

The equally clueless boy and girl still looked extremely hesitant. She sighed; she’d have to win them over later. “Alright alright, Exploding snap after dinner then?” she proposed to Daniel.

“Yeah sure, see you later” he waved as they headed outside on route to Herbology.

Cass would not be deterred by such a small road block. After all, this project was of great importance and she wasn’t about to give it up because a few early yellow bellies.

>^<

Her friend held her hands delectably as she glanced around the classroom. With a smirk her eyes fell on the perfect specimen.

“Let’s see, trrrrry” she made sure to draw it out “Remus Lupin!” Cass nudged her friend. Falon went red; she hadn’t been able to look at him or James since that night they found her in the closet.

But she had to look at him now. She tried to recall all she knew about him.

“I’m joking, don’t worry about it” Cass began scanning the room again and Falon breathed a sigh of relief. Herbology was becoming Cass’s favourite spot to pick people out for her to analyze. It wasn’t one where people were required to pay strict attention so everyone was pretty much being themselves and displaying all of their quirks.

“Alright class, listen up” Professor Augustine spoke up. Well scratch the not paying attention theory she’d come up with.

“I’ve just received a shipment of Chinese Chomping Cabbages” he paused for dramatic effect. No one really seemed to be all that impressed but at least Lily was already flipping through her text to see what he was referring to.

“And as this creature requires some extra care, next week I will have you partnering up with another group for its study and care.”

Again, nobody seemed to give this much thought. A few were looking around for possible partners but most people already knew who they were on the best terms with.

“Groups of my choosing” he finished. At this the class was finally driven into a buzz. This never turned out good. Teachers had a habit of assigning the absolute worst partners. Falon sometimes wondered if they all got together and compared notes to make sure the most unpleasant situation could be arranged.

“Alright, just copy down this note and you’ll be dismissed” he finished up and waved his wand at the empty blackboard to his right. The class groaned, the note wasn’t particularly long but most had gotten used to the lack of notes during Herbology.

As Falon rummaged through her bag she felt Cass tap her on the shoulder. “Let me see the Book for a second” Cassidy prodded. Falon took it out of her bag and slid it over. No need to be too secretive, people would probably assume it was a textbook.

Cass flipped to the last page and charmed the back of a piece of parchment to make it sticky and placed it next to the photo of Dom and Rafe sailing towards each other. Falon started copying the note and figured she could check it out later as Cass slid it back near her. Most of the class was finishing up the note and getting ready to leave.

A shadow went over her desk. Falon looked up a smiling Sirius. She wished his teeth didn’t look so pointy when he smirked.

“So James told me about the other night”

She sputtered. It was the only thing she was capable of at the moment.

“Don’t bother her about it” Remus told him from their table. She couldn’t look over and meet his eye. But at least Sirius was distracted now.

>^<

“Relax Moony I’m just-“ he stopped talking when he noticed the empty chair.

“Where’d she go?” he asked, looking under the table just in case. The Cassidy girl smiled and pointed in front of them towards a crowd of students leaving the greenhouse. A shorter brunette disappeared amongst the many people. Cassidy gave a quick mocking downturn of a smile and followed the rest of the students out.

“I need to start expecting that” Sirius commented looking over at the door.

Remus sighed and put his quill down. “You have to stop frightening her”

Sirius looked annoyed and sat up on the empty table. “I’m not exactly making scary faces and jumping from around corners”

Remus could see that his friend wasn’t getting it. “Yes, but the way you act seems to intimidate her”

“Well she shouldn’t frighten so easy or at least stick around and face me”

“Well if you want to be friendly, you could always return her book” he pointed to the text that she’d left lying on the table.

Sirius twisted around and picked it up. “This isn’t a Herbology book”

“You sure? When was the last time you saw yours?” Remus joked.

“The Life and Death Brigade” Sirius read out loud. “What class is that for?” he wondered.

“None that I know of” Remus didn’t feel too interested as he packed up his things. “Copy your note already; I don’t want to wait around for you all day”

“Hang on, the bloody thing won’t open” Sirius grunted as he attempted to force the pages apart. Remus looked at it more curiously, a book that didn't open? That wasn't exactly common.

“Is there a lock you may have missed?” He asked, trying to take a closer look.

“I’m not daft Moony; it looks like a perfectly ordinary book”

“Let me see” Remus took it from his hands and examined it. It was old looking, but didn’t seem to have any hints, just the title in gold lettering. Maybe it was from the restricted section. “I don’t know, but you should give it back. She’ll probably tell you.”

“Yeah because she seems to love spilling secrets.”

“Well you can’t keep it.”

Sirius shrugged “Whatever, you give it to her then; I’m going to go find James.” Just like that his mind was already moving elsewhere.

It wasn’t hard to see how Sirius got his reputation with women. He’d never really possessed a one track mind.

“I will” he said out loud. He glanced down at the book again, wondering what secrets it held. Perhaps after dinner he’d find her in the common room.

He waved goodbye to Sirius when they reached a staircase and noticed Falon up ahead. Now would be the perfect time to return her book. Except…His hand reached into his bag but remained still. No, she looked like she was in a hurry now. Well when she saw him she looked like she was in a hurry. He’d return it to her later.

Remus wandered over to the library; maybe Madame Pince could let him know how to open it. It could be something interesting, he could borrow it when Falon was done. No, the librarian would probably freak to know Falon lost a book from the restricted section and he didn’t want her to get in any trouble. It might not even be a library book.

It was starting to feel like a great weight in his bag as walked. He was trying to treat the matter casually but Remus knew he was deathly curious about its contents. A part of him knew for sure it wasn’t a library book and his brain was rapidly making connections. She had been behaving so strange this year, was this related?

He now wandered over to the Great Hall and considered doing work there for his free period. It was where Peter would likely be, he preferred studying in close range of a study snack he could bring from the kitchens since there was no food allowed in the library. Remus had to admit it that he rather liked that form of thinking.

“Moony, wait up” He turned around and spotted James and Sirius coming in his direction. Sirius had a knack for finding James quickly. The two seemed in high spirits.

“Don’t you both have class?” he asked them warily. They did.

“I prefer not to think of Divination as an actual class” Sirius said distractedly. “Let’s see if Pete got something good from the kitchens.”

Sure enough, Peter was looking puzzled at a text before him and resting next to his things was a plate of various baked goods.

“Oh look, Muffins!” Sirius noticed happily as they neared Peter.

“Oh look, Evans!” James noticed happily as he passed Peter by and approached Lily. She was bent over a parchment and biting the end of her quill.

Sirius gave a look of annoyance but followed his friend anyways. Peter realized what was going own and started shifting his things towards them.

Remus had noted that lately Sirius didn’t join in with James in bothering Lily. He used to do it all the time last year but the lack of it this year had not gone unnoticed by himself. Perhaps his pity for James was causing a dislike towards the rejecting redhead.

“What are you working on Evans?” James asked while tugging the parchment away from here.

Lily sighed and rubbed her temples instead of stopping him. “I’m trying to make up a new patrolling schedule”

“What’s wrong with the old one?”

“Mary Macdonald complained that Guy Harris has been ducking out early so I’m putting him with you and expecting that you’ll keep him in line”

“But I’m with Mo-” he caught her glare “Right, Guy it is then”

“Tina Lass and Lou Phelps broke up yesterday so I’ll probably switch them with Dorcus Meadows and Emmaline Vance since apparently they can’t stand each other and it was a mistake to let the fifth year Slytherins go together because I’ve been hearing some suspicious reports of them ignoring people from their own house when they’re out and about.” Lily looked exhausted.

“Hang on!” James exclaimed “You’ve put yourself with Dominic Donnelly, Lily-flower! You can’t patrol with a Slytherin”

Remus saw her blush and felt warning signs go off. Thankfully James was still staring at the schedule and he hadn’t put a name to the face that was Lily’s Potions partner last year. He bet James was picturing Dominic as his rival on the Quidditch field. The Slytherin had joined the team last year and was a formidable opponent with the bat.

“And why not” Lily finally asked, the red in her cheeks appeared to be anger now.

“Cause you’re a..well you know and what if he does something, and look you’ve got another pair of sixth year Slytherins patrolling on some of the same nights”

“Give me back my schedule Potter” she attempted to order him.

James held it to his chest “Partner with me instead?” he asked hopefully.

“Absolutely not.”

“But you’re in danger” he protested.

“I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself” she spat and made a motion to grab the paper back. But he held it away and picked up the quill she had been using.

“No, I’m putting you with Remus, he’ll keep you safe.” James wrote his friends name down. “There.”

Lily paused, finally taking in for a moment his great concern but hardened her face again and snatched the parchment back successfully. “Fine, I’ll patrol with Remus, now can you leave me alone already?”

Remus suddenly noticed that Sirius had left some time during the conversation. He looked up and caught a glimpse of dark hair disappearing through the doors.

>^<

Sirius knew he could be flippant in his emotions. Right now his mood seemed to have made a complete reverse. He hated being contemplative but here he was.

His friends knew how to recognize his moods so that was why he’d gotten up and left. The last thing he needed was to have people see him snap at his friends when they didn’t deserve it.

It was surprising how many more girls looked at him when they’d realize he had actual problems. That he was deep, that maybe he was looking for the right girl to come along and heal him. Being a flirt got you noticed; being troubled made you something higher. In truth it bothered him, if it wasn’t for half his family being in Slytherin and spreading stories out of spite than he could just go on flirting.

James liked to say that it was a secret desire for some of them to redeem the player his reputation made him out to be.

But his reputation was mostly based on rumours. Sirius Black had never been with as many girls of Hogwarts that most people would assume. He was a natural charmer and he knew it. Most people didn’t realize that he used those traits on anyone when it fit his mood.

His known tally was as followed, Marion Henderson for about two weeks until he realized she was unbearable yet didn’t know what to do. Enter Emmaline Vance, which taught him the lesson to be in a relationship with only one lady at a time after Marion’s violent reaction. He’d dated Cheryl Sanders all last year and then that was it. Well not really, that was just what everybody else knew. But only three actual confirmed girls turned into quite a long list of ladies.

As for the others, he’d snogged Cassidy after breaking up explosively with Cheryl. And the only one who knew was her. Well Cheryl had seen him go after her but he’d convinced her nothing happened.

He didn’t like to think about the other girl.

So there it was no seduction of half the birds in school. No affair with the younger teachers. Sirius liked girls well enough but he wasn’t in constant pursuit of them. But he could still be considered guilty with hurting more than a few girls. It was the way he behaved; it was easy for one girl who treasured a wink to believe he’d shag anything that moved after she’d see him causing the buxom blonde to giggle incessantly only an hour later.

He put his hands in his pockets and looked around.

The Falon girl was down the hall, looking through her bag with a panicked face. He walked over to her silently. As he neared she looked up and tried to walk away. He reached out with surprising reflexes even to him and grabbed her wrist.

“You have to stop doing that, don’t run away when people are only trying to talk to you” he chastised.

She looked up at him from under her fringe a mumbled something. Godric she was short. His neck felt strained just looking down at her. He wondered if all boys felt like this around her. Maybe that’s why she didn’t have a boyfriend. Oh well, Moony seemed to look at her a lot lately; maybe he had a thing for tiny girls.

“I’m sorry I ran away, I’m not good a confrontation” she apologized suddenly and he felt he could raise his eyebrows at her. She’d surprised him once again by randomly going from stuttering to coherent.

She was twisting her wrist slightly and he realized he was still holding it pretty tightly. He let her go and she held it and looked up at him again, the words “what’s next?” silently aimed at him.

“Well I’ll see you around” he told the peculiar girl and decided that he was well enough to go back to the Great Hall. James had mentioned an idea for a prank he wanted to gear up for. Sirius felt they hadn’t done enough to make their second week back at school memorable.

He paused before leaving, remembering something. “Oh by the way, did Remus give you that book?”

No comprehension crossed her face “What book?” she asked.

“The Brigade one, you left it in Herbology. He’ll probably find you later.”

Sirius was pretty sure it wasn’t entirely his fault that she raced away this time.

>^<

“Calm down, stop freaking Gryff” Cassidy soothed her as Falon paced back and forth.

“Not freak out? He has our book!” she exclaimed. Why was she the one who kept screwing things up?

Meanwhile Cass was just wrapping her hair turban like with her new scarf as if nothing was wrong. “Well its still spelled and everything right?”

“Yeah but what if he figures it out?”

Now she was smiling at her. “Well it won’t come to that”

Falon stopped pacing “It won’t?”

“No because you are going to get it back”

She paced again. “And how do I do that?” She could go and ask, but she’d seen Remus in the hall earlier and he hadn’t said anything. He must be suspicious.

“Go up to him, ask for it back and if he asks about it politely relay to him that it’s none of his business.” She said it simply. “Now go, our secrecy depends on you” her voice turned cryptic.

She made a face at Cass and rushed out of the room. She could do this. She’d already handled a moody Sirius who just looked at her weird for about five minutes. But she wasn't exactly handling that.

Falon played with the hem of her skirt nervously. They both would know Remus had the opportunity to give her back the book earlier but didn’t. What if he flat out refused? No he wouldn’t do that, would he?

The door to the seventh year boy’s room came too quickly in her opinion. She knocked softly and waited but nobody came. Maybe she should knock with more force. Boys could be really loud when they were alone she'd heard. But then again, she would probably hear them through the door.

Falon decided to knock again then open the door a little bit. Through the crack she couldn’t see anyone but there was a schoolbag resting on one of the beds. Maybe if she just took it. She’d keep it well hidden so Remus would never know for sure that she’d taken it back.

With only another moment of hesitation Falon entered the room. She knew it was silly but she’d felt if she stepped into another world. Boy world, where everything has a bit of a musty scent. And no one seemed to have heard of laundry baskets.

She rooted through the bag but only came up with parchment that had the words James Potter written on them. She skimmed around the room with sharp eyes until she spotted a bag amongst some clothes poking out from under a bed.

Falon rushed over and dropped to her knees. To her disappointment this seemed to be Sirius’s bag. Probably rarely used since she never saw him bring it to class before. She sighed; it was definitely a disappointing situation.

And that's when the voices she dreaded the most could be heard at the stairs, making the situation more drastic than disappointing. Her mind buzzed with what she might say but couldn’t formulate anything actually understandable.

Feeling very trapped she glanced around and wondered exactly how she could explain herself before realizing she should try something else.

Considering she’d never really perfected the art of on the spot excuse making, she did what any amateur snoop would, fell to the ground and rolled under the bed.

>^<

I re-watched some Coen brothers this weekend; I couldn't help possessing Cassidy with a little Amy Archer. Just imagine her fast-talking in a no-nonsense way as a reporter in a 1950’s newspaper office. (p.s the Chinese gong line is straight from His Girl Friday)

I just wanted to add that though my editing leaves a little to be desired, some things are meant to be what they are. If you haven’t figured it out, I’m a Canadian and we do silly things like add u’s to words. Colour! Favourite! Honour! Oh the craziness. Years of habit I’m afraid but the words are still readable by all in the end. So yeah, there’s my little explanation : )

Also I changed the ending of chapter 4 a tinsy bit because I wanted to create a running joke. I just can’t let things die.









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