For the years that Amelie had been in Hogwarts, it had seemed as a sanctuary for her. Away from the world, she felt as if she was out of reach of the prying hands of her relatives and any ill-wishers. One look at the magnificent stone edifice and the enchanted walls used to be enough to flood her heart with warmth and safety – with a hope that maybe she would one day surmount to something other than the blood-traitor daughter of the Avery line.
Recent days had not been nearly as kind on Amelie: the tension in the castle was clear as mud, and it was increasing day by day. Students laughed less, whispered more, and clustered round into little groups rather than mingling as they once did as news of more and more attacks reached their ears both through the Daily Prophet and through the correspondence of their parents, whom now seemed to send letters on an almost daily basis, demanding the knowledge of their children’s wellbeing. She felt sick as she watched students shoot her wary looks, some still obviously questioning her true nature.
“How do we know she’s really on the good side? I heard rumours about the Moonstone’s son…”
“Ignore them, Amy,” said Callum as he himself opened a rather lengthy letter from his parents at home.
She turned her head away and let out a short breath, trying to dispel the tension that was gathering in her muscles, her veins, creeping through her entire body and numbing everything else. A desperate urge to run away came over her, but for the first time in a long while she rebelled against her reckless nature and persuaded herself that, at least for the time being, she had to stay put.
“That’s the second letter you’ve got this week, Callum,” said Peter, a slightly teasing tone to his voice. “Is Mummy worried about her ickle Callum?”
“I see you haven’t got any letters, Pete,” quipped Callum without hesitation. “Does nobody love you?”
“Pete’s mum’s probably forgotten about him,” snickered James.
“Stop it, you guys!” said Lily, sounding agitated as she whispered harshly down the table to her friends. “There’s been another attack,” She scanned the Prophet again, and continued, “Only more subtle this time – it was a planned murder in Hertfordshire.”
Kyle spat out his pumpkin juice, spraying Dorcas with its contents.
“You have family there?!” asked Lily, shocked.
Kyle nodded vigorously, eyes almost popping out in horror. “Give me that paper.”
Snatching it away from the redhead, Kyle quickly scanned the day’s news and his face blanched. Lily bit her lip, and watched nervously as he got up and made his way out of the Great Hall at a sprint.
Dorcas groaned and put her head in her hands, massaging her temples with her fingers. “I really can’t take all this. It’s like I’m stuck in a nightmare.”
“I wish it were one,” mumbled Alice. “At least then you knew it wasn’t true.”
Nausea hit Amelie twice-fold as the reality of Alice’s words hit home. They had been blissfully unaware of everything for so long, and she almost felt like laughing at herself as she remembered the conflict she had felt about a month ago over the petty happenings of their adolescent behaviour. Yet here she was, at sixteen, standing on the brink of a war of which she was inevitably going to be caught in the middle of. She let out a series of curses, one more aggressive than the other, and damning life for dealing her the most miserable draw of the lot.
But she’d be damned if she’d give in; damned if she didn’t fight. She had survived since the age of eight, and to give up now was something entirely uncharacteristic and unreal. If there came one chance in her life to prove that she was indeed worth something, where she could scream to the world that she was not a bit like her family, by all that was good and true in this world she would do it, and she would do so proudly.
Picking up her belongings, she headed out of the Great Hall and towards the staircase that lead to the North tower. It was time for Defence.
It was perhaps not the most comfortable experience for the sixth year Gryffindors to be sat with their Slytherin counterparts in Defence Against the Dark Arts, especially when taking into account the recent events of the outside world. Rumours of various members of the Slytherin house had reached many an ear, and they only increased proportionately with the number of nasty ‘accidents’ that the rest of the castle suffered from. Mutterings of the attacker’s identities seemed scarce, but that was only due to the fear that had crept into their hearts: people were reluctant to discuss anything out in the open anymore.
As the Gryffindors settled down into their seats on the other side of the room, unnaturally quiet, the door flung open and a crowd of hooting Slytherins entered, all of whom were ignoring the heightened tension.
“Ooh, look,” drawled Evan Rosier as he saw the Gryffindors glares directed at them. “The little kittens are getting ready to pounce.”
“Wouldn’t you just love that?” came the confident voice of Amelie from her seat at the back of the room.
People turned around to see where the voice had come from, and Rosier’s eyes spotted the raven haired girl, who was leaning back on her teetering chair and looking decidedly relaxed given the circumstances. “Much as you like to think yourself desirable, Miss Avery, I wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole,” he remarked, lips curled into a sneer.
Amelie threw back her head and let out a throaty laugh. “Wouldn’t touch me?” she drawled, mocking his tone of voice. “Wow, you're opinion of me's changed a bit since two years ago, hasn't it?”
The Slytherin flushed a pale pink, and his eyes narrowed as he was pushed into a corner with his own words. “You better watch your back, Avery,” he hissed, putting one hand into his pocket and fingering his wand lightly, almost as if to ensure it was still there as he stepped towards the girl. “Times are changing. Your stupid little games are going to have to end very soon if you want to live through -“
His hushed words were cut short by the sudden bang that came as the door of the classroom was thrown open to reveal the back of a man dressed in dark green robes. “You watch your mouth when you talk to me, you hear that, Aldridge?!” he bellowed, obviously not amused by something the younger Slytherin had done.
With a swish of his wand, he slammed the classroom door shut – perhaps slightly more aggressively than normal, and then proceeded to sweep into the room, his robes billowing behind him. Immediately, he plopped onto his desk, facing the class, and used his right hand to brush back a lock of his dark brown hair. He stared at the class with irritated eyes of the deepest blue, taking in what was obviously about to turn into a vicious fight.
“Rosier - get back to your seat now,” he demanded.
Scowling, the boy obeyed, though making sure to throw one last hateful glance to a nonchalant Amelie, who waved goodbye in a ridiculously fake shy demeanour, making a few Gryffindors chuckle. In turn, she received a glare from the Professor, who was obviously telling her not to throw fuel into the fire.
Once everyone had settled down and faced the teacher, Professor Ramsden looked down his broken nose at them, the tiredness of his body only visible through the slight bags under his eyes. The rest of his body was tense and alert, almost alive with the magic that coursed through him.
“Everyone, get out your books. Today we’ll be studying up on counter-curses of some rather unpleasant spells, to get you ready for your next lessons practical. Any complaints and you will be in detention: we don’t want to have any health and safety issues on Friday. Now turn to page forty-eight and don’t talk to me until you’ve finished. Then I’ll answer any questions you might have. Please start.”
Silence fell upon the two groups, and though the tension was not dispelled, it was momentarily forgotten as each student sat and flicked through the section in their textbook, reading and noting down important information that they would have to learn next lesson. Professor Ramsden was greatly respected by the student populace; it was known that his hand was firm and he meant business. Yet he was all the same approachable, ready to support his students. And as he had made it abundantly clear that he would only be taking the job for a year, the students had all made sure to make utmost use of him, in the fear that their NEWTs year would bring someone as incompetent as the blundering Professor Reed, whose mindless ramblings they had to sit through for far too many hours.
Half way into the lesson, a knock on the door was quickly followed by Kyle’s entry. After mumbling an apology and what was obviously a signed note explaining his tardiness, the Professor silently explained what they had to do to the boy, and he headed towards his desk, ignoring the curious glances sent by the Slytherins. He was looking decidedly happier than he had at breakfast.
“They’re okay!” he mimed, before shrugging off his rucksack and sitting down.
The Gryffindors visibly relaxed, relieved from the fear that was creeping over them for the past half hour, and so they put their heads down and continued with their work, their focus renewed.
James had been working them so hard; Amelie had felt that she would have no more energy left come the match. However, with this re-enforced hatred that had recently crept up between the two houses, the morning of the fourteenth found her excited and rearing to go. After all, she was going to hit bludgers at Slytherins and throw them of their brooms, and she was doing it legit.
A sardonic smile appeared on her face, and a sudden spark of recklessness burned in her mind. Fully dressed, she turned to the boys changing rooms, ignoring the protests of the other boys (“Hey! We can’t see them, so why does she get to see us?”) as she headed straight for Sirius. Not allowing him to speak, she took one of his hand in hers, and used it to frog march him around the lockers and out of sight of the rest of the team.
“You can beat Regulus up today for being a spineless prat,” she grinned up at him brazenly, teasingly playing with the hem of his Quidditch trousers with her fingers.
“And you can get Montague back for having the audacity to think he could better you in a verbal repartee,” retorted a bare-chested Sirius in the same manner as he leaned down for a slow, sensuous kiss.
Amelie opened her mouth to allow him more access, quickly getting wrapped up in the way her senses heightened at the slightest of his touches. She slid her fingers through his hair, and used her hands to bring his face even closer to her, gasping in his mouth as he slipped his hand underneath the top of her Quidditch kit, brazenly close to her chest. Just as she felt she could take it no longer, James came along and interrupted their moment.
“You two!” he hissed, obviously not at all amused at the way they were passing the time right before a most crucial match. “Get back here and stop playing tonsil hockey.”
No one thought for a second that this was just another Quidditch match. It was a matter of pride, and of principal. They simply could not afford to loose. Amelie and Sirius could see the humourless look on his face, and felt the gloomy reality of the situation settle in again. They followed James back to find the team all gathered, no one speaking as the anticipation and pre-match thrill consumed them.
“Right, team. I’m going to keep this short and simple. You all know what you have to do, and you’re all bloody brilliant at it. So we’re going to go out their and beat the shit out of them. Ready?”
Amelie sent a malicious grin Sirius’ way, which he returned ten-fold as the team responded loudly to their captain’s question.
“And the line up for the Slytherin team is: Mulciber, Rosier, Moonstone, Black, Montague, Beaumont and Dinton,” came the voice of the commentator that was almost drowned from the deafening cheer from the Slytherin stand. “Rumours are that their captain Rosier has been training them hard and have turned into quite a formidable team.
“Let’s see what they do against Potters team. We have Black, Avery, Spencer, Croft, Fletcher, Hedges and Potter!”
Again, cheers erupted from the stands as the Gryffindor team did a quick warm-up lap before getting into position against their team members, poised and ready to begin the moment the Quaffle was released.
“Madam Dunstan lets go of the Quaffle, and Slytherin are immediately in possession. Rosier, Montague – ah! Great interception by Potter, who neatly passes it to Hedges.”
Having caught the Quaffle, Olivia had to immediately swerve away from an oncoming Bludger before she shot forwards towards the three hoops at the end. Spotting Lee Croft on her right, she motioned to him, and hit the ball far as he shot forwards to catch it. Shooting immediately, Lee got the ball through the hoop, and Gryffindor found themselves ten points in the lead.
“Early start by Gryffindor: let’s see if they can keep this up throughout the match.”
But Slytherin was putting up a brutal fight. Montague and Mulciber were both pummelling Bludgers towards the chasers with all their might, horrified as they were at the way they worked so seamlessly.
“Watch out!” yelled Sirius, causing Amelie to make a sudden swerve to the left, narrowly missing a Bludger to the head. She gave him a quick thumbs-up as she flew to get another pelting Bludger away from an unsuspecting James.
“And Potter throws it to Hedges who scores! Gryffindor lead twenty-nil!”
Amelie spared a second to watch Dinton in the sky with Callum, both of whom were scanning the area below for any hint of gold. Obviously neither of them had found anything as yet, so she continued to give the match all her might, determined to get Rosier injured at least once, if only to bruise his ego further.
“Look at this! Moonstone has won the tackle, taken the Bludger from an unsuspecting Hedges, and is now heading towards the Gryffindor goal, with Black and Beaumont right behind. He passes to Black, who shoots it over to Beaumont, now back to Moonstone. And would you look at that! Slytherin score. It’s twenty-ten to Gryffindor!”
Cursing under her breath for not managing to get in the way of the attacking Slytherin chasers, Amelie renewed her efforts, as did everyone else on her team. Soon, both Olivia and Lee had scored, bringing the score up to forty-ten. The Slytherins, unhappy, soon became reckless, and were resorting to the more vicious tactics to win the game.
“R. Black with the Quaffle – oh but it’s been taken away by taken away by Croft. Now here comes Moonstone flying fast. Croft, move out of the way!”
But Lee hadn’t seen what had been going on, and just has he turned, he saw the emerald clad figure hurling towards him, and with a grunt he and his broom fell back about ten feet as he released the Quaffle.
Madam Dunstan blew a whistle upon the spectator’s outcry. “Yes!” shouted the commentator. “It’s a penalty to Gryffindor. That was blatant violation of the rules on Moonstone’s part. Potter comes up to take the shot. And he scores! Fifty-ten to Gryffindor!”
Their victory was short-lived, however, as a well placed Bludger from Montague allowed the Slytherin’s Chasers space. Regulus Black feigned to be shooting left, but changed direction at the last moment, starting to close the lead between the two teams.
“Spencer heads into a dive! Looks like he’s seen the Snitch!”
The Slytherin Chaser was far behind, and was obviously unable to catch up with Callum. Another well placed Bludger from the Slytherins, however, saved their team.
“What’s wrong with you two?” shouted an irritated James to Sirius and Amelie. “Where were you when that Bludger stopped Callum from winning for us? Keep your eyes open; we need to end this soon or else everyone will get too tired.”
Cursing herself for the incompetence she was showing, she headed off, and saw Sirius do the same. Again and again they hit the Bludgers away from their team members, keeping them safe, but somehow they seemed unable to pull the score back up. The Slytherin keeper, enraged by his past four failures, had apparently managed to get back on a high, and was, much to the Gryffindors chagrin, making flawless saves.
“Somebody, shoot him!” yelled Olivia in anger after yet another failed attempt at goal.
“Don’t worry. Keep at him, he’ll wear down,” panted James as he headed towards the Slytherin chasers.
“I hope Callum finds the snitch soon,” muttered Lee as he followed them. Amelie nodded grimly as she hit a Bludger away from the boy and towards Rosier instead, who had to swerve rather hilariously to get out of the way.
“I’m sure you’ll get into the circus one of these days,” she said as she passed him. “But don’t give up your day job just yet.”
The weather got worse as the minutes passed: the bitter cold lashed against their skin, and slowly little droplets of rain began to fall against their skin. Amelie groaned, knowing her skin was going to burn from the combination of the moisture and icy wind. But she didn’t back down. Getting herself back into the rhythm of the match, she focused, keeping her eyes on the Bludgers and vehemently protecting her team. She was adamant: whatever happened to them would not be her fault.
More tugging, pushing, shoving, and foul words… the match became dirtier and dirtier as the players began to feel the strain of the time. The sky had opened once again and rain poured down by the bucket load, drenching the teams to a state of numbness. In the stands, umbrellas hid the cheering crowd from view, but their voices spurred them on. One more goal, one more save, one more Bludger to hit at an unsuspecting Slytherin… until suddenly, the rhythm was suddenly broken by a shout from the commentators box.
“Spencer shoots up and Devin down to catch the golden snitch! It looks like it’s going to end badly!”
Callum pressed forward, never taking his eye off of the little ball as it fluttered quickly from left to right in front of him. The Slytherin also sped down, his dive almost vertical. Their hands simultaneously shot out, the Slytherin’s to his right and Callum’s to his left. Callum fumbled as he shoved the Slytherins right hand out of the way, and clasped his hand around the golden snitch, his left handedness managing to secure the team a win.
“And Spencer’s got the snitch! The game ends after four hours, Gryffindor winning by 360 to 110!”
The stands erupted with glee, umbrellas flew everywhere as soaked Gryffindors reached out to hug each other. Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws also hooted with glee, happy to see that the Slytherins who had been abusing everyone else so badly on the sly were at least beaten publicly. The team began to land, aching to celebrate their victory in the common room with some of the firewhiskey that had not been used up in what had been their last drunken furore.
But the Slytherins were not at all happy. Rosier, watching Amelie and the sickening way she was hugging the Black traitor, felt a surge of anger bubble up inside him. First in Defence on Wednesday, and now here on the Quidditch pitch: she had gotten her way once too many. It was time she learnt her placed in the hierarchy of the world.
“Give me that,” he snapped, as he snatched the Bludger bat from Montague. With a quick whoosh and a thump, he send the ball soaring towards the Gryffindor team, in his anger missing Amelie by inches, and instead hitting an unsuspecting Olivia right in the stomach as she was still ten feet from the ground. Winded, she lost control of the broom and fell on to the pitch with a thud.
[A/N] Golly gosh! Poor Olivia, eh? Nasty, nasty Evan. He should learn better sportsmanship.
First of all, I have to apologise profusely for the almost six-month wait I’ve put you through. It’s not been intentional, but I had a massive plot bunny attack a few weeks ago for two different humour fics, three adventure-type stories, and another angsty fic. However, none of them are very far off the mark because of the huge amount of schoolwork that had been piling up. But exams are over now, and hopefully things will be better on the writing front.
Thanks for your ongoing support, people! I really couldn’t have done this without you all. Reviews, of course, are losvely things. Take the time to spread some love. =D
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