Chapter 3 : Encounters
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I couldn’t tell you how long she’d been there. All I know is, on the way back from the library, I found a small figure curled up against the wall not far from Ravenclaw Tower. She was rocking slightly, hands clasped around her knees and face tear-stained. I didn’t need the jolt in my heart to recognise the young Hufflepuff.
“Millie?” I spoke softly, concern threaded in every word. “Millie, sweetheart. What’s happened?” Slowly, she raised her face to meet mine. Just then, she looked as young as I’d ever seen her. Millie was a second year, but everything about her screamed that she was too young to even be away from home.
“Clarrie?” Her words were a squeak. The faintest trace of hope seemed to reach her eyes when she saw me. I crouched myself down to sit beside her.
“Millie, sweetheart; what’s wrong?”
For a moment I thought she was going to burst into tears. Her lip quivered and she was unable to speak. But instead, Millie took a deep breath. Eventually, she had composed herself enough to manage words.
“Daniel. I need to see Daniel. Where is he?” She seemed so sure all of a sudden. It was as if Daniel was all that was needed to fix things. I was taken aback, but only for a moment. Then I sprung into action. Daniel would have been my first stop anyway. There was no way I wouldn’t tell him about his baby sister in tears outside our common room. And since she wasn’t even a Ravenclaw, chances are she had been waiting for him.
“I think he’s studying.” In an empty classroom with Lily Evans I didn’t add. “I’ll go find him.” Millie gave a small nod, but I had no intention of abandoning her on the corridor floor. “You – come with me.” I lead Millie to Ravenclaw Tower.
“But I’m not allowed in here!” she implored, as we made our way up the stairs.
“Yes you are,” I insisted firmly. “I say you’re allowed, so you’re allowed.” Millie had no response to that. She simply watched in wonder as I answered the brass handle’s latest question, and then followed me into the room.
We emerged on plush, deep blue carpet. While Millie’s eyes swivelled around taking in the new sights, I scanned the room for familiar faces.
They were seated in a corner playing some new card game. Josh, a muggleborn, had insisted on teaching us the games he played growing up. With my Dad being a muggle I already knew a few – but nobody knew as many as Josh. Even Martin, also muggleborn, was convinced many of the games Josh was simply making up. Jason and Daniel’s parents were both wizards, so they were absolutely clueless. The boys noticed us, and stopped their game as we made our way over.
“Hey…” They greeted us warmly, though clearly curious about Millie.
“Hi,” I smiled back. “Millie needs to speak to Daniel. Can I leave her with you while I go find him?” It wasn’t really a question. They could all see the tear marks and I knew they wouldn’t mind. As close as we were, we all felt a degree of protectiveness over Daniel’s little sister.
“Of course,” Martin nodded. I sent them all silent thanks, and made sure Millie was okay. She was more than okay. You know – I think she has a crush on Josh. He smiled at her and she could not stop blushing. Not that Josh would ever notice. He has enough trouble understanding girls our own age.
The thought put a wry smile on my face as I walked past staring faces. Millie the Hufflepuff had been noticed, but I knew nobody would object. She was with us, and she wasn’t hurting anybody. They could like it or lump it; as far as I was concerned, those were their only options. I headed out of the common room, back down the stairs, and along the corridor we’d so recently vacated. Time to find my best friend.
Twenty minutes later Daniel and I came hurrying into the common room. A small, concerned frown painted his face as he searched the room for Millie. He found her soon enough and the next moment was at her side.
“Millie?” Some time with the boys had done her good. She turned at his voice and – though her eyes still held a little sadness – the tears were gone from her cheeks. The moment she saw Daniel, Millie’s entire countenance transformed. She looked at him with relief, but tears once more threatened to break the surface.
“Millie.” Daniel repeated calmly. I’ve always admired that about Daniel. He’s like the port in a storm; so darn solid and dependable. I sometimes suspect Robbie feels under pressure to ‘measure up’ to him. Which is ridiculous; Robbie’s parents certainly don’t think like that.
Daniel bent down to look her in the eye.
“Do you want to go somewhere? Talk? You can tell me what’s happened.” There was a moment of silence, then Millie’s voice came in a strangled whisper.
“I’m scared, Danny.” I saw Daniel’s entire body freeze. It was more than Millie simply being homesick. Daniel took a moment to answer.
“Why are you scared, Millie? Maybe I can help.” I saw her head move in a small nod and felt a sudden pang of sympathy for Daniel. In Millie’s eyes, he could solve anything. She had such high expectations. I didn’t envy Daniel the responsibility.
“It’s Robbie. He’s hurt.” My eyes met Jason’s as I heard Daniel inhale sharply. Willing himself to be calm, I knew. Jason’s eyes were as worried as mine, but he gave me a small smile, trying to reassure. Josh looked horrified. He fidgeted agitatedly with the tabletop, as Martin continued to watch the conversation, deep in thought.
“What happened to him? Is he going to be ok?”
“He says he is.” Millie didn’t sound too comforted by the fact. “I made him go to the hospital wing,” she said suddenly, eyes rising to meet Daniel’s. “He didn’t want to but I did.”
“You did well, Millie. That was the right thing to do.” She nodded her head.
“Good. I hoped so.”
“Is he still there?” Millie nodded again.
“Yes. But Madam Pomfrey says he’ll be ok.”
“Then you don’t have to worry. I know it’s hard to see him like that, but Madam Pomfrey knows what she’s doing. She’ll make him better. You’ll see.”
“I know that,” Millie admitted in a small voice. “I’m still scared, though.”
“Because what if they come back?” Millie’s voice trembled now. Her look to Daniel was like a cry for help. “What if they try to hurt him again? There’s too many. He can’t fight them all.” Tears were running down her cheeks. She could barely choke out her next sentence. “What if they do something…worse?”
“Millie. Millie, sweetheart. Listen to me. Take a deep breath. It’s okay.” Daniel leant forward, forcing his sister to meet his gaze. “You’re saying Robbie was attacked?” Millie managed a nod. “By who?” I could hear the edge of fear in his voice, though he tried his best to hide it. It was all very well having to remain strong and composed for Millie, but Daniel had two siblings – and right now the other one seemed to be in danger. Millie shook her head.
“I don’t know. But I heard them say they were going to ‘finish up’ later. Daniel, do you think they meant it? Do you think they’re going to go after Robbie again?” Daniel looked at his sister for only a moment, before pulling her into a tight hug. She threw her arms around him, and was soon bawling into his shoulder. Once again, I was struck by just how young she was.
“It’s okay, Millie.” Daniel attempted to soothe her. “I’m not going to let anything happen to Robbie. Do you believe me?” Daniel patted her back as Millie finally gave a small nod.
“Where is Robbie now?”
“Hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey said…couple of days.”
“Well he’s safe there, I promise. I’m going to go and see him as well, and we’ll make sure he’s looking after himself. We’ll make sure he’s careful and we’ll keep an eye out for those people. They won’t get anywhere near him. Sound good?”
“Yes.” She carefully pulled away from Daniel, her eyes thoughtful. “I remember something Danny. There was a boy and a girl. After the others had gone; they stayed and they watched. The boy I recognised him. He plays Quidditch.” She looked at Daniel and there was triumph in her eyes. “The Slytherin Seeker,” she announced, certainty in her words.
Daniel nodded his acknowledgement, but his lips were pulled in a tight frown. We at least knew who was responsible. Daniel turned to look at each of us in turn, as if to confirm his own thoughts by reading them on our faces. His eyes fell on mine last.
“Regulus Black,” he said simply. I nodded. Regulus Black. Sirius’ brother.
“Our shift’s nearly over,” said Remus. “Why don’t we head back indoors?” I agreed, beginning the long trek towards the Entrance Hall. Remus stifled a yawn and – like I had been doing all morning (if the ridiculously early hour can even classify as morning) – I ignored it.
It was hard this whole knowing-he-was-a-werewolf thing, when he didn’t know I knew. I didn’t want to take too much interest in why he was tired in case he got suspicious, but I didn’t want to seem callous and uncaring either. Ahh, the drawbacks of being a stalker…
“Tired?” I decided to keep it simple. Remus gave a small smile and nodded.
“Yes.” He didn’t elaborate, but then I didn’t really expect him to come right out and say ‘a couple of nights ago was the full moon. Then this morning I had to wake up obscenely early. I haven’t quite recovered.’
“Well at least we’ll get first pick at breakfast.”
Remus looked at me in surprise, but there was a warm smile on his face. I didn’t have to ask what that was about. I’d spoken very little the past two hours, and here I was trying to make conversation. He looked relieved; he must have thought I’d finally broken out of my shell.
“There is that,” he nodded. “I don’t think Lisa will be thrilled when she finds we have nothing to report, though. It was a quiet night.”
“Lisa?” I was confused. That better not be his girlfriend… Oh no. What if it was his girlfriend? Hang on – I was a stalker. I’d know if he had a girlfriend! Ahh, the perks of being a stalker… They far outweigh the negatives.
“The Head Girl…?”
“Oh.” I tried to laugh it off, but the squawk I made sounded more suited to a cat. A cat that had just been trod on. “Of course.” Remus laughed softly next to me. Now that was how you laughed. That low, gentle, warm, spine-tingling… “Sorry, what did you say, Remus?”
“I said, what did you think she was called?” I shrugged. ‘Uptight-lunatic-who-obviously-doesn’t-like-me’. That was the honest answer, but it sounded a little over the top.
“Just – Head Girl.” He laughed again, and I smiled with him. I’d made Remus Lupin laugh.
“You think that’s what her parents named her? Well, it would make it quite obvious what she was to aspire to.”
“Well clearly I didn’t think that was her name, it’s just whenever I refer to her in my head, that’s what I…” I trailed off because Remus was looking at me funny. “What?”
“ ‘Whenever you refer to her in your head’?” I frowned slightly. What was strange about that? Remus looked amused, but to be honest I didn’t get it. See, this is why I shouldn’t talk in front of him. The joke was obviously way over my head, because no way could Remus be wrong.
“Moooonyy… Mooooooonyy.” The moment we stepped into the Entrance Hall a dark figure jumped out in front of us. I gave a startled little shriek, but the figure – Wait, that sounds too ominous; squinting, I realised it was only Sirius Black. Sirius Black was all focused on Remus. There was a distinctly mischievous gleam in his eye, and Remus looked highly suspicious.
“Sirius…” His words were cautious, as though the slightest thing might set Sirius off. I suppose Sirius’ smile was becoming somewhat maniacal. I couldn’t blame Remus for his wariness. “Why are you up so early? It’s only 7 o clock.”
Sirius gave a careless shrug. “I thought I’d help you with your patrol.” His smile widened; I was immediately on edge.
“Well, thankfully we’re finished.” I was a little hurt by that. ‘Thankfully’? Was he so desperate to be away from me? “Because no doubt whatever you consider ‘helping’ would get both Arabelle and I detentions.” Oh – that’s what he meant. Phew. So sweet of him to be concerned. My parents might be muggles but they still understood the word ‘detention’. Remus had just saved me a telling off. My hero...
As usual, my somewhat wistful sigh was not subtle. Both Remus and Sirius turned to me. Sirius’ brief look of disappointment was gone quickly and his eyes brightened. He took a step towards me…
Okay. I’ll admit it. I was scared. Really and truly scared. I took a step back. What on earth could Sirius Black want with me? His smile was no longer maniacal; it was still mischievous, but no longer psycho-killer so.
“Hello,” he said smoothly, taking another step forward. I noticed his eyes were grey. Really, really grey. I took another step back. After all – eyes that grey could not be human.
“Hello,” I squeaked. I didn’t even have time to be embarrassed by the squeak. I just felt really wrong-footed by the entire situation. Suddenly, Sirius’ face split into a dazzling grin. Unless I was greatly mistaken he seemed to be enjoying my discomfort. Beneath my very vague indignation (I never was much of a crusader for justice) it was all slightly surreal. But I found I much preferred the grin to the expression he’d had earlier. That had been almost predatory. When Sirius took another step towards me, I didn’t back away.
I’ve never appreciated just how good looking Sirius is. Objectively speaking, of course. My heart belongs to Remus. But when he stood there, oozing so much charm it was almost palpable, smiling that smile that is just so completely disarming, luscious black locks framing his face to perfection…
I pulled my gaze away to look at Remus. He stood watching us, an expression on his face somewhere between exasperated and amused. Staring at him, I felt myself calm somewhat. Sandy, light brown hair; warm hazel eyes that I loved so dear… Remus’ presence brought me back down to earth. Sirius wasn’t some male Veela. He wasn’t some supernatural being any more than I was. He was just a boy. And he wasn’t even Remus Lupin. Ergo, he had no power over me.
When I turned to look at Sirius again, the spell was broken. He was still extremely attractive, but I wasn’t speechless.
“How are you?” Well what else was I supposed to say?
Sirius looked momentarily surprised, and then laughed at my words. I frowned slightly. These Marauders have a strange sense of humour… He must have caught my look, because he soon stopped laughing. He was smiling now. Just smiling. It actually seemed genuine, and I found myself smiling back.
“Very well, thank you. Shall we make our way to dinner?” His arm awaited mine as he offered to escort me. I hesitated. Taking Sirius’ hand...or arm (same thing) didn’t feel as innocent as taking Remus’ would. Which is ridiculous. It’s not like you can catch corruption.
“Depends on your time-zone.”
"In our time-zone," I felt the irresistable need to point this out. "It's breakfast."
My hesitation didn’t faze him. He flung a casual arm over my shoulders instead, and steered me into the Great Hall.
"Ah," Sirius objected. "But we're worldy folk. Not to be cocooned in our little, Scottish, Hogwarts bubble. Think outside the box." I got the distinct impression that it was impossible to argue with Sirius Black, whether or not he made sense. "Or bubble," he added as an afterthought. I was briefly aware of Remus rolling his eyes, but was distracted when Sirius began leading me towards the Gryffindor table.
“Err – Hufflepuff.” I gestured towards my robes.
“I know that,” admonished Sirius, with the same air of telling off a 5 year old that I’d used so often. Only I’d used it on actual 5 year olds. I wondered idly if Sirius saw me as some new toy, here to provide him early morning amusement like those 5 year olds did. “But it’s early, and there’s almost no-one at your table. You wouldn’t want to sit alone, now would you?”
I hid my blush. I wasn’t unpopular, or even anti-social. It’s just I seemed to have more acquaintances than friends. I hadn’t formed any particularly deep bonds at Hogwarts. If someone I knew was around, sure I’d eat with them. But I had sat on my own on more than one occasion.
“That would be absurd,” I muttered to myself.
We’d reached the Gryffindor table and I couldn’t help a small smile as Sirius pulled the bench out for me. That was rather gentlemanly behaviour. No doubt being friends with my Remus had rubbed off on him. My heart quickened at the ridiculous thought that if I sat down I’d have to eat in front of Remus. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to have seconds. Or thirds. Maybe Remus found eating until you were full unappealing in a woman.
“Sit down, Arabelle.” That was my love speaking. I met Remus’ gaze. Something of my nervousness must have shown in my face. “We don’t bite.”
Well now, I knew that wasn’t true; so it was not at all comforting. Remus did indeed bite. Once a month, with no control. And Sirius… There was a sparkle in his eye once again as he waited for me to sit. Seeing no other choice, I sat myself opposite Remus and Sirius took the seat beside me.
“Annabel, was it?” he asked, all polite and earnest. I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes.
About Sirius Black – I’ll have to get back to you.
Saturday. Hogsmeade. The wind was beating against my face, and I pulled my coat just a little bit tighter. We’d barely been at Hogwarts a month, so I had nothing to buy. Still, it was nice to just get out of that castle.
I was alone. By choice, I’ll have you know. As a general rule, I don’t really like people. I do like myself though. That’s why I’d elected to spend time with my thoughts.
I slowed slightly down and made my way towards the man looking into a shop window. I could only see his side-profile, but my word was he gorgeous. I wouldn’t mind spending some alone time with him. I glanced in the window and found it was some boring shop selling scarves (but no-one could be perfect). Turning from the window, I faced him. I stared quite openly. Modesty and bashfulness were a waste of time. Yes, I was interested. Why not let him know?
He became still, aware of my eyes on him. I wondered how he’d react. Something about the way he carried himself told me he was unlikely to blush and giggle. I watched as an amused smirk spread slowly across his face.
“What do you think of the blue?” He asked finally, still not looking at me but gesturing towards the shop window. He had a good voice I decided; probably from a wealthy family. That was a bonus. I gave the scarf a fleeting look.
“It brings out your eyes,” I replied, my tone distinctly mocking and the smirk spreading across my own face sardonic. He made a sound that could be mistaken for a laugh and finally turned to face me.
I met his gaze unflinching. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I wanted to grin in triumph and congratulate myself for finding this sexy being. His piercing blue eyes held my own green ones, hinting at some underlying danger and making my heart race just a little more. His hair was light brown, almost blonde. I found my fingers itching to run through them. To bring his face down to mine and…
“I agree,” he said, entirely serious. I raised an eyebrow at this.
“Vain, aren’t we?” He gave a small smile and took one step closer to me. His eyes suddenly seemed darker. More intense.
“Forward, aren’t we?” His voice was almost a whisper. I couldn’t help but smile. He thought this was forward? Forward would be if I had given in to my feelings. If I had pushed him up against that shop window – tore open his jacket, ripped off his shirt and…
He looked at me a moment longer.
“You’re from Hogwarts,” he finally said. It wasn’t a question. I wasn’t in my uniform, but he knew he was right. He looked me up and down. I let him. I’d been checking him out for a while now. It was only right I return the favour.
“And you’re not.” He shook his head.
“I graduated two years ago.” I nodded, trying to place him. I would have been a second year, not fully appreciative of the male form. But I did vaguely recognise him. “I’ve been working abroad.” He said all of this very calmly. I felt like he was assessing me, seeing how much conversation I was worth. Should I tell him I was a 5th year? I’d had my 16th birthday, true – but he may consider me too young. The decision was soon taken out of my hands. His eyes were finally back on my face.
“And you,” he began “are far too young for me.” Oh dear. I took a moment to answer. How best to play this?
“ ‘For you’?” I raised an eyebrow. “Darling, who said I was ‘for you’? Who said I was for anyone?” He watched me like I was some entertaining specimen. Well, at least I had his attention.
“And you’re a Gryffindor.” I looked up at him in surprise. How could he know that? The way he said my House was almost disdainful. Pitying. Well that could mean only one thing…
“Slytherin?” It didn’t take a genius. He took another step towards me. We were close. Really close. If he chose to take another step, he’d be right on top of me.
“Gertrude Beck, if I’m not mistaken.” His words chilled me. Definitely a Slytherin. I felt like I should know more; like there was something I was missing. “From the most apathetic Pureblood family there is.” And suddenly it came to me. I remembered why I recognised him. Sure it had been a few years, but every Pureblood party I’d been to… “But a Pureblood all the same.” He said this last bit approvingly. “Maybe you aren’t a total loss.” I gave a cavalier shrug.
“So we believe in self-preservation. Unlike the activities of other Pureblood families I could name – it’s not a crime. We’re staying out of Azkaban.” His eyes flared for a moment but it passed quickly, soon to be replaced by a speculative gaze.
The Becks were a Pureblood family of high social standing. And unlike many others, we refused to be tied down by politics. As a whole, we couldn’t be called muggle-sympathisers. We still affiliated with the Blacks, the Malfoys, the Carvilles and other such families. But we weren’t Dark wizards either. The fact that we thought the ‘Pureblood superiority’ thing nonsense was almost irrelevant. Logan Carville had got it spot on. (Because that’s who I now recognised this to be – the eldest son of a Pureblood family we all knew to support the Dark Lord) Our public stance was one of apathy. Indifference. More concerned with protecting our riches and our way of life, than the rights of a muggleborn.
“You should have been a Slytherin,” he said finally. I had to smile. He’d certainly got the measure of me quick enough. It was something even I had thought about myself. I was quite content to be a Gryffindor, but sometimes I recognised characteristics in myself that…
“I know,” I replied. We stood in silence a few moments longer, simply watching each other. “Well, this has been fun.” I decided to break the silence. This time the sound he made was unmistakably a laugh; although it was hard to tell whether he was laughing at me or with me. I stubbornly met his gaze, refusing to be considered a fool. For some reason I was nervous. I hid it of course. But guys never made me nervous. Why was he different? Logan Carville seemed to come to a decision.
“We should get together some time,” he announced. I felt as though I’d won some victory. Having him approve of me shouldn’t have mattered, but it did. I wouldn’t let him know that, of course. He’d never know that for a moment I had been unnerved.
“We probably will,” I responded coolly. He seemed to like that answer. He didn’t say anything in response, though. It fell to me to continue the conversation. “You said you’ve been abroad? What brings you back to England?”
Again, he took a moment, seeming to find the best way to phrase his response. His answer was just one word, and he watched me carefully the entire time.
My eyes were locked on his. I couldn’t even blink. There was something about the way he watched me. The fire in his eyes, and the firm set of his jaw. He wanted to see if I interpreted the hidden meaning in his words. A shiver ran down my spine. I think I did.
The moment was cut short by an angry female voice. I turned to see a brown haired girl striding towards us. She was a Hogwarts student, too. My year I think. Again – definitely a Slytherin. Which didn’t explain why she looked so annoyed. Or why Sirius Black was striding next to her...
As she got closer things began to make sense. It became clear how she knew the man in front of me. Why she might object to our standing so close. I finally recognised the girl.
Logan gave a polite smile, inclining his head in her direction.
Regulus was unable to escort me to Hogsmeade. That was a shame, but I understood. I went instead with my dormmates.
We get along well enough, so it wasn’t exactly a chore. But I did get bored quite quickly. There are only so many questions about Regulus I am willing to tolerate. When every answer is analysed for a crack in our relationship, it soon becomes tiresome.
I took the first opportunity to part from the crowd. It was nearly Logan’s birthday anyway, so I wanted to find a present. Logan is almost impossible to buy for, but I was determined to make the effort. I had only seen him on and off over the past two years, but now he was back in the country. I was glad. Logan has his flaws, but I’d missed my brother.
I turned a corner, thinking of a shop that might just be high-end and expensive enough for Logan’s taste. I followed the road, taking a shortcut through an alley.
I emerged from the alleyway to come face to face with one Sirius Black. Hazel eyes met grey. I rued the unfortunate circumstance, but would never let this show. I was accustomed to ignoring Sirius whenever I saw him at school. That wouldn’t do in such close quarters. He was Regulus’ brother, after all. He may be skating on thin ice at home (close to being disowned from what I hear) but for now he was still a Black – and I was a Carville. The situation required decorum.
I inclined my head politely.
“Carville,” Sirius replied gruffly, more than a hint of distaste in the words. This didn’t trouble me. I was used to it. Not from the formal functions he found a myriad of excuses not to attend, but from the few times I’d visited their house. Not that he stayed long then, either. Poor Mrs Black. Sirius brings shame on them all.
“I’m glad to see you’re well.” My behaviour would not be swayed by his petulance. Or chiselled features. I admired his good looks; I didn’t admire his attitude. In fact, I hold a certain amount of resentment towards the eldest Black son. With Sirius clearly lacking in the way of real direction, Regulus has been forced to take on more than his fair share of responsibility. Good thing he’s equal to the task. Regulus at least, has a sense of duty to the family name.
I waited a moment, but Sirius didn’t speak. He only continued to eye me with something akin to anger.
“Charming, as always.” I nodded again, and made to leave.
“Where’s baby Reggie?” His derisive tone demanded a response. As I turned back around, I was remembering all Regulus had told me of his brother. I pitied Sirius in a way. He was making life so much harder for himself. And for what? Why? All because four years ago some hat had shouted ‘Gryffindor’? It didn’t make sense. Though Regulus had said Sirius was problematic even before that. One of life’s inexplicable misfortunes, perhaps.
“Unfortunately, Regulus was unable to come to Hogsmeade. A prior commitment.”
“With who?” Sirius’ eyes narrowed, and his jaw clenched in rage. He already suspected the answer, but I wasn’t inclined to confirm it. Sirius’ opinion on the Malfoys was no secret, and he was proving himself quite temperamental. I would prefer to avoid a scene.
“I’m sure Regulus would tell you. You have only to ask. It’s not my place to get involved.” Sirius took that as confirmation. I suppose it was. His lip curled and fingers clenched into a fist.
“Figures,” he muttered. I frowned, irked by this response.
Regulus was only having to do these things because Sirius would not. Could he really not understand the importance of maintaining good ties among Pureblood families? We had to keep ourselves at the forefront of wizarding society. It was both a right and an obligation. Besides, we were stronger as a unit – better able to match the large numbers of halfbloods and muggleborns. And blood traitors. Those that refused the importance and status that came with their Pureblood heritage…
It struck me then that Sirius was alone. He was never alone. Well – rarely. Potter (a blood traitor himself) was always nearby; usually Lupin and the fat boy, too. I withheld the urge to ask Sirius where they were. He’d never tell me and I didn’t like to be refused. I turned instead to continue on my way, but what I saw made me freeze mid-step.
Sirius noticed, and came to stand beside me as his eyes followed mine.
“Looks like Gerty’s found her next conquest.” I could practically hear the smirk in his words.
“Gerty? You can’t possibly mean…” At his words, I shifted my attention to the other figure – the one that wasn’t my brother. “Gertrude Beck?” I hissed sharply. Long black hair, sleek and elegant even in this wind where mine billowed about my face… “Merlin – it is her!”
“Of course it is.” Sirius spoke more slowly now. There was caution in his words and from the corner of my eye, I saw him watch me. “What’s it to you?”
Feeling rather frustrated I turned to him and gestured towards the two figures.
“Can’t you see who she’s with?”
A small, suspicious frown on his face, Sirius looked where I pointed. It didn’t take long for his expression to tighten and frustration to leak to the surface.
I watched them again, and trepidation and annoyance battled within. Annoyance won out.
I don’t know what Logan was doing standing so close to that girl but it couldn’t be good. She has no self-respect. No dignity whatsoever. We have to be careful around such people, so as to not get tainted with the same brush. Sirius’ words came back to me. ‘Conquest’. I refused to let Logan be a conquest. To let her embarrass us, as Sirius had his family, by total disregard of the rules of propriety.
But she was a Beck. And they were family friends. I couldn’t very well grab her by her too perfect hair and throw her onto the pavement. Though that would feel good. How could Logan let himself get used like this? We were better than the likes of Gertrude Beck. Her exploits were no secret. Logan should have married Narcissa Black when he had the chance. Now nothing would get her away from the Malfoys…
“Logan!” I shouted, making my mind up on the spot. I marched my way up to the two, vaguely aware of Sirius silently seething beside me. As we made our way towards them, two sets of eyes turned to us. I disregarded the girl and turned to Logan instead. He seemed completely unsurprised at my presence, but then I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Logan ruffled. His pale blue eyes met my brown ones and he inclined his head in a slow nod.
I opened my mouth to speak, to expose Beck for what she really was – but catching Logan’s eye I immediately sobered. There was a hint of warning in them. I closed my mouth. He was right, of course. I couldn’t make a scene. What had I just been saying about decorum? Still, that didn’t mean I couldn’t make my point.
“Good morning, Logan. I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Nor me you,” Logan replied pleasantly. “I didn’t realise it was a Hogsmeade weekend. And I especially didn’t expect to see you with…” The sentence trailed off as Logan turned to Sirius. His voice was careless, but his expression was hard. Sirius didn’t flinch. He met the look with equal contempt, and then in a show of disrespect that had me gritting my teeth, refused to acknowledge Logan with words.
“What are you doing Gertrude?” Sirius’ rough tone earned an eye roll from Beck. He ignored it, waiting determinedly for an answer. I felt a little thrill of excitement. This was it. My in. How I could expose Beck for the tramp she really was.
“Oh, that’s right!” I smiled falsely. “Gertrude – you know Sirius don’t you?” She turned to me, eyes defiant as they saw through my ruse. Good. Maybe she would get the hint. Logan looked at me too, very aware that I was up to something. Sirius only continued to stare at Beck, doing a bad job of holding in his anger if I do say so myself. I’d be surprised if he even heard my question.
“Yes, that’s right,” said Beck finally. Calmly, and completely unabashed, she turned to Logan. Looking him straight in the eye she explained, “We sleep together sometimes”.
My surprise at her ready confession was dwarfed by triumph at the irritation that flared in Logan’s eyes. It was soon gone, but I knew him well enough to know it would be bubbling below the surface. Things should be okay now. He’d never stoop to Sirius Black’s sloppy seconds.
“Is that right?” replied Logan evenly, his eyes on Beck’s.
“Yes.” And then she smiled at him. Smiled! As though she hadn’t just admitted to being a whore. As though he should still want to know her.
“That must make things difficult,” continued Logan. I told myself he was simply hiding his disgust. Logan was a man of many layers, after all. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something very wrong with his civil tone. “Any other man you became involved with – I can’t imagine many approving of that arrangement.”
“Well, if that were the case I would expect him to let me know. Sirius and I have fun. But did the man object, we could once again become platonic. Assuming said man were worth it.”
I didn’t miss the underlying implication, or the seductive look she shot his way. I gaped, horrified at her behaviour, and less than comforted by the fact that Logan wasn’t looking away. If I didn’t know any better I’d say his eyes were even devouring her.
“Gertrude, we need to talk,” said Sirius simply. Grabbing a hold of her arm and ignoring her frustrated protest, he pulled her roughly aside. One look at them told me they were arguing. They spoke in whispers, but I could guess the topic. Sirius and I were united in one thing, at least. I turned back to Logan and found him staring at the pair, a contented smirk on his face.
“Logan.” My voice was pitched low but I managed to get his attention. He turned to me with an air of complete nonchalance. I was unaccountably furious: Was he going to explain nothing? “Logan,” I was aware my tone had become harsh, but ploughed on nonetheless. “Please tell me you can see that girl for what she really is; tell me you’re faking any interest. You can’t possibly be thinking of –”
“Stop!” His voice was even lower than mine, but the force of his tone halted my words. I looked at him. My anger quickly dissipated, to be replaced by a fear that seeped into my bones. “Audrey. Sister. Do you dare tell me what to do?” Now, the fury in his eyes was completely undisguised. It didn’t flash momentarily. It flared steadily, searing into me. I felt a shiver run down my spine, and could barely summon up the courage to respond.
“N-n…” I was aware that I was stammering and that my voice sounded ridiculously child-like. Unable to hold Logan’s gaze, I shifted my attention to my boots instead. I took a deep breath. “No. Of course not.” I finally managed. Behind me, I could hear Sirius and Beck still furiously whispering. I had to say it. “It’s just… Logan.” I looked at him again, and was relieved to see some of the anger had settled. I’d have to be careful what I said. “I thought you’d want to know that…” I trailed off. How to explain it? “Why would you…” I tried again but caught myself before I could finish the question. Logan hated to be questioned; for his motives or actions to be scrutinised. Unfortunately, Logan guessed what the question would have been.
“You presume too much.” He was bordering on the edge, rage barely suppressed. One wrong word and I could set him off again. I stayed silent. His eyes meeting mine became hard and zealous. “I am not answerable to you, Audrey.” He was even quieter now, eyes completely focused. “Do not question me again. I am answerable to only one person. You are not them.” I gulped and nodded my head.
“I know, Logan.” I looked him in the eye. Something had just become quite apparent to me. “I’m sorry.” I meant it. He searched my eyes for a moment before giving a brief nod.
“Gertrude.” He called to the girl still engaged in debate with Sirius. They both fell silent and turned to my brother. “Would you care to join me for a walk?” He held out an arm – ever the Pureblooded gentleman, and raised a single eyebrow in her direction. The expression on Beck’s face held more than a trace of victory, but didn’t bother me as much as I would have thought.
“That doesn't sound awful,” she answered pleasantly. But as Beck made to move away Sirius caught hold of her arm. She turned to him in exasperation, but he wasn't trying to stop her leave.
“I’ll see you later then, Gerty.” He held her gaze as he spoke. “Back in the Gryffindor Common Room.” I knew what he was trying to do. The delicate stress he placed on the word was to remind her that when all was said and done, she was one of them. She would never be one of us.
Beck shrugged her arm out of Sirius’ grip, but when she turned around her cheeks tinged ever so slightly. His words had reverberated somewhere within her. Nevertheless, she moved forward and took Logan’s arm. Logan inclined his head to me in farewell, and then they were moving further away.
As Sirius and I watched their retreating figures, I felt quite calm. Annoyance had long ago left. In fact, in a strange way I pitied Beck. Ever so slightly. I think I'm becoming far too soft. I seem to be pitying everyone. And Beck really had brought it on herself. She was jumping in head first, and barely knew into what.
Two years of seeing so little of my brother had clearly had an impact. I had forgotten key details: Like the fact that he would never be made a fool of. That every move he made was a result of meticulous calculation. Yes, he was my brother. And yes, I loved him dearly. But there was one other detail I had overlooked; one final thing that told me I had nothing to worry about:
Logan scared me. Me. His own sister.
Gertrude Beck didn’t stand a chance.
With this comforting thought, I turned to find Sirius staring into the distance with a completely unfathomable expression. He sensed my gaze and sparing me barely a glance, turned on his heel and strode through the alleyway. Away from me. Away from Beck.
I watched him leave, before making my way to the shop nearby. I had noticed something during the furore. I strode to the counter, where an elderly gentleman wheezed at me through thin lips.
“Can I help you, miss?”
“Yes. It’s my brother’s birthday soon. That blue scarf in the window – I’d like to buy it.” The little man tottered off to retrieve said garment as I fished out my purse. I’d found a present at least, I thought. I gave a satisfied sigh. Logan would like it. I knew he would. The streak of vanity was a familial trait. And the scarf would bring out his eyes…
A/N: I ramble. I'm sorry. So, long A/N on way -
1. Hopefully you didn't find the Ravenclaw section melodramatic. But the way I figure it, if you're not there when something happens, you learn about it from someone else. That then taints your entire perception. In this case, they find out from Millie. She's a scared little girl, and they love her so... well - Regulus gets the blame.
2. I love the Marauders. I do. And I'm sorry there wasn't more of them. Absolutely no James is utterly sinful. And I know this story is pretty OC-heavy. Hope you don't mind :S Promise more Marauders and Lily next time! But everything in this chapter sort of had to happen, and there wasn't room for much else.
3. Thanks so much to those of you that have reviewed! You really make this whole writing lark an even better experience :-D And if anybody feels the urge to make my day and review this chapter... please do ;)
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