Chapter 4 : In the Entrance Hall
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The structure of this story will be changing ever so slightly. By that all I mean is we won't necessarily have each girl's pov in one chapter e.g. this chapter has no 'Gryffindor' section (sorry Gertrude fans) but the next one has two. Make sense?
It's all in the name of keeping the story to my plan. I promise.
“Morning, Bella.” I turned at the voice and nearly choked on my breakfast. My mouth was full of scrambled eggs, so it would be at this inopportune moment that Sirius Black appeared. It got worse. The Marauders were with him. Yes, that’s right – all of them. I’d managed a decent enough conversation with Sirius a few days ago, but this was still too much too soon.
“Graceful, love.” There was an easy smile on Sirius’ face as he watched me splutter. It was as enchanting as ever, the shallow dimple in his left cheek doing little to ease my nerves. “But you might want to swallow and then gawp.” I clamped my mouth shut in horror. There was a laugh and James Potter seated himself opposite me.
“You were right, Padfoot.” James nodded approvingly. Padfoot? I’ll assume he’s talking to Sirius. (That’s the direction his eyes are facing, and I’m a regular Sherlock Holmes.) “This is already fun.” I decided to ignore that comment as a brief look from Sirius sent a first year scurrying. He claimed the now free seat next to me, while I downed a glass of pumpkin juice. After a few more frantic chews I forced a large and uncomfortable swallow.
“Sirius,” I began hesitantly, with my newly empty mouth. I motioned after the first year that now shot regular, nervous glances back at us as if afraid of being pursued. “Don’t you think that was a little…well…mean?” Sirius simply beamed at me, before turning to James.
“See, Prongs? Isn’t she amusing?” (I swear they never used to have these absurd nicknames. The amount of eavesdropping I’ve done, I would have noticed.)
“Absolutely novel,” James approved, as Remus and Peter sat either side of him. Remus shook his beautiful head in exasperation, but the corners of his lips twitched. Ahh, his lips… I didn’t have time to dwell on that before Peter’s quite average head, craning to get a look at me, proved a distraction. You know, they were all remarkably at ease at the Hufflepuff table. Clearly in the life of a Marauder, nowhere is off-limits.
“Sorry, Arabelle.” Speaking softly, Remus leaned forward. I had time to hope there was no food in my teeth, before I made the mistake of looking into his eyes. I caught my breath. Great. Now I was lost. His lips were still moving, so I nodded along. After a moment my senses caught up with my thumping heart; I was able to make out the very end of what he said.
“…Sirius gets an idea in his head there’s no getting out of it. He’s more like a dog with a bone than you’d ever believe. And once he saw you here…”
“No that’s fine,” I said, shaking my head. “I understand.”
Truthfully, I didn’t much mind. Yes, I felt slightly awkward. But that was only because they were so popular and I was just me. I already knew Remus was wonderful and Peter was probably nice enough. James and Sirius didn’t seem inherently bad, either. A bit arrogant and a lot mischievous, maybe; but then didn’t they have cause to be? I mean, Sirius and James can do no wrong in the eyes of the Hogwarts population. Even I find myself giving them some glorified godlike status… Everything they do they do so well. Not to mention they know about my Remus’ lycanthropy and don’t judge him. Not everyone is so tolerant.
“Uh-oh. I think we’ve lost her. What do you think the world she’s gone to looks like?” Sirius’ gentle teasing reached my ears quite distinctly.
“Lots of scrambled eggs,” James declared. I sent them both disapproving looks that only served to elicit low chuckles. Hoping for more dignified conversation (i.e. no mocking of me) I turned my attention to the other boy.
“Bella,” Sirius began, noticing my look. “You know Peter, right?” I waved at the round-faced boy opposite me and nodded my head.
“Sure. Peter Pettigrew, isn’t it?” His watery blue eyes met my own light blue ones, as he nodded a greeting through a mouthful of eggs. Lucky boy; those look good. “I’m Arabelle Willis. Or Ara. But not ‘Bella’.” I added, trying to look stern as I faced Sirius. It obviously didn’t work.
“Did you hear that, Wormtail?” Sirius grinned. (Oh for God’s sake. Wormtail? What kind of a name was that? And why hadn’t I heard it before? My stalking was obviously not up to par.) “Not ‘Bella’. That’s my pet name for her; our special term of endearment. Isn’t that right, Bella?”
There was an almost coaxing intonation to his voice and I felt a blush creep up my cheeks. I knew he didn’t mean anything by it, though. Rumours circulate about Sirius Black, but I know most of them to be lies. Especially those created by my Hufflepuff dorm mates. From what I’ve seen Sirius doesn’t even date that much. He strikes me as the type to have rather high standards; not liable to let just anybody fall into their bed. I definitely wouldn’t meet his requirements.
“In return, she calls me ‘Siri’.” I couldn’t help but laugh and he gave me a big wink.
“Some people used to call your cousin that. Didn’t they Padfoot?” piped up Peter. “‘Bella’, I mean.” The rest of the Marauders fell silent and fixed Peter with hard glares. My interest piqued; Sirius was looking distinctly ruffled. Clearly he’d forgotten this and for some reason it was a big deal. I waited for Sirius to respond, but to save him the trouble James spoke instead.
“Way to ruin the mood, Peter.” He was clearly annoyed. “But she’ll always be ‘Barmy-Bigoted-Bellatrix’ to us. Affectionately named, of course.” I saw James’ attempt to lighten the mood, and the grateful smile Sirius flashed his way. That one smile did more to endear me to Sirius Black than anything he’d said so far.
“Of course,” Sirius agreed. “We won’t let her ruin our relationship, will we Ara dear?” The smile he sent my way was rather cheeky, but I thought his eyes were still troubled. I don’t know whether it was that, or the fact that what Peter had said clearly struck a cord (he’d called me ‘Ara’, after all), but something made me smile warmly and nod my head.
“Of course not, Siri.” Sirius growled at my teasing, but I happily ignored him: Remus was looking away and I wanted to seize the opportunity to take a big bite out of the tasty eggs. Soon, Sirius had abandoned the angry pretence and resolved to find me a new nickname. Apparently ‘Ara’ was used by too many people. We heard what just happened to ‘Bella’. He quite liked ‘Belly’ but I vetoed that embarrassing idea. ‘Belle’ just didn’t ‘sound right’.
“I’ll tell you what, love. I’ll think on it during class and get back to you, okay?”
“You can think too,” put in Peter. He seemed determined to make up for his earlier slip. “We’ll find another one by the end of the day.” I felt a certain warmth towards the boy. His friends were so popular and at ease, but Peter retained a slight awkwardness with which I sympathised.
“Well, sure.” I tried to put it nicely. “But it’s hardly life or death, and I’ll probably be…well…you know…listening in class.” James tutted softly at my words, shaking his head in disapproval.
“Even History of Magic?” Sirius asked in surprise. I nodded gravely. “Shame. We’ll figure it out, though.” Deciding it was best just to indulge Sirius Black I nodded again.
“Sure. Okay. Whatever.” Then I realised something. “Wait. No!” Sirius looked at me in surprise. I flushed, but ploughed on. “Just call me Arabelle okay? Or Ara will do.”
“No.” Sirius blinked down at me. Woah. His tone left no room for negotiation.
“It’s just…” I forced myself to continue. Come on, Ara. Before you’re stuck getting called ‘Belly’ the rest of the year. “I just heard what you call eachother. Those aren’t nicknames, they’re insults! Honestly, if I leave it up to you I’ll end up being called something like…‘Wormpaw’.”
Ingenuity is not my strong point.
My heart was racing. I didn’t mean to be so candid, especially with Remus so close by. I was very aware of him chuckling. It struck me that ‘Moony’ (a name they’d actually been using for years) was the only one that made sense. So Remus wasn’t insulted; but was Sirius? Judging by how he laughed at my nervous expression when I turned to face him – no. He finally looked up and responded quite kindly. (I think I underestimated Sirius Black, you know. He’s not so bad.)
“Trust me, Ara. You don’t have the necessary…abilities to be called ‘Wormpaw’.” That was hardly reassuring. Nor did it make much sense. I didn’t want to have the necessary abilities to be called ‘Belly’ either. Honestly, it was just a pouch! I wasn’t fat. Was I? “Besides, those names are rather new…developments.” The look the four boys shared was highly conspiratorial.
“What do you mean?” I’d been trying to ease up on the eavesdropping and shadowing of Remus Lupin this year. It occurred to me, if we were going to be spending more time together on patrol he was more likely to notice my presence at other times. I was regretting that now. They were speaking in what must be Marauder-code. And it made no sense.
“Nothing,” Remus shook his head as if to dismiss what Sirius had said. Ah, so it was a secret. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. My Remus shouldn’t have any secrets from me. Apart from…you know…the ones he thought he had.
“For you,” Sirius continued. “We need something nice.” I flinched at the word.
“Yes. That’s what you are, Ara. All sweet and nice and a little naïve …” I raised my eyebrows his way.
“You got all of that from one conversation?”
“And some things Remus said,” Sirius shrugged. My eyes widened and my face was burning. Oh God. Oh God! Remus? My Remus? He’d spoken of me? And he thought me… I deflated a little as I realised. He thought me sweet. And naïve. Wasn’t that how you described a kid sister? It’s how I’d describe my cousin. It certainly wasn’t how you described a potential girlfriend. I felt utterly despondent and barely heard anything more of what was said. I blanked out all of their words – even Remus’. Until finally something Remus said did find its way through my daze.
“Arabelle.” The moment I looked up I felt a fluttering in my stomach, nestled side by side with a fresh rush of disappointment. “We better go do something.” I was so busy dwelling in the dashed hope that this wasn’t a declaration of love, that it took me a moment to realise he was pointing.
Oh no. Oh no. Oh no, I thought to myself as I followed Remus’ gesture. I didn’t want to confront people. Just visible through the doors leading to the Entrance Hall, a fight seemed to be brewing. Hufflepuffs I could deal with. But Slytherins? I quickly berated myself for that prejudice. Who said Slytherins were worse? Although in my experience… Anyway, that wasn’t the point. There were Ravenclaws there too. In fact, it was a group of Ravenclaws versus a group of Slytherins.
“Do we have to?” I responded rather feebly. I saw Remus give a small frown and suddenly felt a complete coward. No wonder he didn’t love me.
“Well yes,” said Remus, rising from the bench. “There are no teachers about and it’ll only escalate if we don’t get involved.” He eyed me for a moment. “I can take care of it myself if you like. It’s no problem.”
“No, no.” I rose reluctantly to my feet. Stupid, heroic Gryffindors. “I’ll help.” It was my duty after all, and if I sounded less than enthused – so what? It’s not like he’d ever love me, anyway. Stupid, heroic Remus.
“Do you want a hand?” asked James, eyeing the Slytherins warily.
“No.” Remus looked at them sharply. “You stay here, okay? All three of you. You have no business being there. It’ll just create more trouble and you know it.” There was a collective sigh from the three boys, but they stayed put. “Come on, Arabelle; if you’re sure.”
I followed Remus to the Entrance Hall and began to get a clearer idea of what was going on. To my surprise, it seemed a Ravenclaw was creating trouble with a Slytherin. Hmph. Teach me to make assumptions. Wait-wait-wait. It got stranger. That Ravenclaw was a prefect. That Ravenclaw was Daniel Winters. And that Slytherin was Regulus Black.
The scene stood frozen as we approached. Daniel Winters, fist clenched, was staring threateningly at the Slytherins. This in itself was a surprise. I always thought Daniel a nice boy. With his clear, brown eyes, walnut-coloured locks of hair and gleaming prefect badge, he was the last to start a fight. Maybe Regulus knew this, because he didn’t appear concerned. The first thing that struck me about Regulus Black was that he was Sirius in miniature. He had a smaller frame, slightly thinner and more pointed features but the same haunting grey eyes and straight, dark hair. Still, it was hard to imagine this boy with Sirius’ lazy charm or gently teasing nature.
Next to each boy was a girl, with two or three other boys stationed just behind. The girl next to Daniel had thick, auburn waves of hair that fell just below her shoulders. Her very aura seemed to crackle with fury and her dark eyes were narrowed in intense dislike.
“So what –” She practically screamed, as she gestured towards Black. Suddenly the scene was no longer frozen. It was all very real. Daniel with his four friends and Regulus with his three. They were facing eachother in the Entrance Hall, positions almost mirrored. Remus and I were supposed to get in the middle of that? A small crowd was gathering around the edge of the scene. I thanked God wands had not yet been drawn, as I slipped my own from my pocket. It wasn’t hard to see the potential for an all out brawl; a wand in one of their hands could easily be the trigger. “You’re calling my friend a liar?”
Black eyed her warily, mouth curved in annoyance. The girl next to him stood arms crossed, a hard glare of the utmost contempt on her face. Her long hair – more brown than blonde, fell across her back just past her elbows. I recognised her from class. Audrey Carville had always been an intimidating presence; I was surprised none of the Ravenclaws were fleeing from that look.
“I don’t give a damn about ‘your friend’.” Regulus’ voice was slow and dangerous, a complete contrast to the Ravenclaw girl that seemed about to scream down the castle. “I don’t give a damn about her, her snivelling coward of a brother or the fool standing right here,” he finished, with a nod in Daniel’s direction. “Now go run along. The only thing you’re getting from me is a promise to pay your brother another little visit. I’m suddenly feeling awfully concerned with his welfare…”
With a growl I’d never have imagined, Daniel had drawn his wand along with the girl and the three Ravenclaw boys behind them. They all took a step forward, but it didn’t take a glance to see the Slytherins with their own wands outstretched. Their faces were pulled in menacing snarls as if daring the Ravenclaws to make the challenge.
“I’ll even send you to the Hospital Wing.” Black’s words were nothing more than a whisper. He held Daniel’s gaze, the wand of each boy targeted firmly at the other. “Seeing you, no matter your…condition. It may raise his spirits.” At Daniel’s fuming expression Regulus smirked and replied with a shrug. “I’m only trying to help.”
From the corner of my eye I saw one of the Ravenclaw boys make a move. But before he could so much as utter a word we’d finally reached the Entrance Hall. The silence – somehow both thick with anticipation and loud with fury – was cut through by a steady voice.
“Oi!” My Remus’ expression was resolute and his wand was drawn. He pointed it at the group, eyes flickering over each person in turn as they made to face the new speaker. “What’s going on here?”
I felt possessed. Absolutely, bloody possessed. It took all of my self-restraint not to spit in Black’s face. I wouldn’t have bothered holding back but the stupid boy still hadn’t answered the question. That, and I understood that technically it was Daniel’s battle. But still… The reasons for holding back seemed to diminish further and further as the Slytherins stood with those snarky looks on their stupid faces and absolute inability to answer the goddamn question!
“Look, yeah,” I snarled, breathing quite ragged. “Just admit it. You and your little group of thugs decided to attack Robbie. He was all on his own but let me guess – that just made it more fun.”
Black was completely unphazed. I swear – being an insufferable bastard must be a family trait. Martin placed a calming hand on my arm and turned to the group.
“We want to know what happened to our friend,” he said simply. “He’s hurt and you were there. How about an explanation?”
“Come, now,” snarled Yaxley, big, ugly, Slytherin face in a scowl. “Why would we want to explain anything to a mud- I mean – a muggleborn like you?” The inane grin on his face told me the slip had not been an accident. Martin held his composure but Josh flinched at the word. Daniel remained in the same position, glaring at Yaxley with more venom than I’d ever seen. I knew where the danger lay and, against my better judgement, caught Jason’s arm before he could curse Yaxley to smithereens.
“Don’t.” I hissed. “Remember what Daniel said?” With a very obvious sigh, Jason had pocketed his wand before anyone could even realise it had been out. Well, that’s what I thought. But Black was smirking at me and Jason, apparently more than aware of our internal struggle. The bitch next to him – Audrey freaking Carville – just continued to glare. She hadn’t said a word. If I hadn’t heard her speak in class I’d think she was a bloody mute.
“I want to know why you hurt my brother. I want you to apologise. I want you to keep well away from my family in future. And I want you to admit you’re the coward that cursed him in the first place.” Daniel held Black’s gaze, and Black gave something dangerously close to an eye-roll. The wizard next to Yaxley guffawed at Daniel’s words, but all eyes were fixed on Black.
“I don’t know your brother,” said Black simply. He gave a small shrug. “I’m afraid you’ve had a wasted mission.”
“I didn’t say you know him,” growled Daniel. “Whether or not you know him it didn’t stop you cursing him, or frightening the life out of a second year did it?”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Black. “Now get out of my way. You’ve wasted more than enough of our time.” He made to move but Daniel stepped forward, blocking his path and fist clenched quite aggressively. “If he’s so damn adamant for an apology why isn’t your precious brother here?” Black gestured to us all, pointing out Robbie’s clear absence. “You seriously haven’t got a clue… I’m not sure I want to waste my time with this.”
“He’s in the Hospital Wing you bloody imbecile! He’s been there days. And where have you been hiding, huh? Didn’t see you in Hogsmeade, and Merlin – did we look. You know you were seen and that I could quite easily report you…”
“Now, now,” said Black, voice distinctly mocking. I felt my hackles rise. Robbie had been in the hospital for three nights with Millie despairing to leave him for even a moment. And Black was mocking us? “Let’s have none of that. To be perfectly honest, this is all becoming quite tiresome. I’m bored. Seems we’ve been repeating ourselves for ages…” He turned to the girl next to him. “Audrey?” His eyes seemed to ask a question, but I have no idea what it was. It made sense to her though, because her lips curled in a rather cruel smirk. Her cold eyes passed dismissively over us, and we heard her response clearly.
“Sure. Could be fun.” She seemed to be agreeing with him. The confusion did little to ease my temper.
“Then let’s go.” Black made to leave again, but Daniel once more blocked his path.
“You were seen! Seen, you idiot. I know you were there, so there’s no point lying. The least you can do is admit it! Admit what a bloody bully you are. She told us everything, okay? She saw you and you weren’t alone. And before you get any ideas, I swear to Merlin you so much as even think of talking to my sister…” He broke off, breath coming in harsh gasps and seemingly too angry to continue.
We’d had to get as much of the story as we could from Millie; Robbie refused to tell us anything. He’d said it was better off forgotten, that he would handle it himself. He’d loudly protested when Daniel suggesting meeting up after Potions, too. Apparently we’re ‘as bad as Pomfrey’. Can you imagine? I’m just glad Robbie is able to leave the Hospital Wing today. He’d claimed to be better after just one night, but when Madame Pomfrey discovered he planned to visit Hogsmeade she mumbled something about ‘shock’ and ‘overexertion’ and forced him to stay the whole weekend. I know Madame Promfrey can be smothering, but I’m still inclined to believe her opinion. She’s the professional, after all. Three nights. That’s longer than I stayed when I got floored by that Bludger.
Black’s gaze bore coolly into Daniel’s. He gave a haughty raise of the head, and answered with an air of finality.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Oh God, that fucking did it! No way in hell could I stand here and…
“So what –” I screamed, thinking of poor Millie and how scared she’d been when she told us. Now they were just going to dismiss that? “You’re calling my friend a liar?”
The Slytherins finally seemed annoyed. That only infuriated me further. It was as though we were just a nuisance. Obstacles in the way of them having a lovely little day packed full of fun cursing and terrorising of small children. The hatred on Carville’s face had intensified, and Black’s lip was curled in utter distaste.
“I don’t give a damn about ‘your friend’.” Black’s voice, so calm and collected, made my fingers itch for my wand. “I don’t give a damn about her, her snivelling coward of a brother or the fool standing right here.” He nodded in Daniel’s direction, and I knew I would soon break. Surely even Daniel would agree that this was provocation? He may not have come looking for violence, but he’d also made it quite clear that if all else failed he was quite happy to leave Black a crying heap on the ground. “Now go run along. The only thing you’re getting from me is a promise to pay your brother another little visit. I’m suddenly feeling awfully concerned with his welfare…”
I didn’t need to look at Daniel to know he’d reached the end of his extremely long tether. All of our wands were out and pointed at the scumbags opposite. Unfortunately, they’d anticipated our response and had their own wands out, ready to duel.
“I’ll even send you to the Hospital Wing.” Black hadn’t stopped talking, though it was no more than a whisper. “Seeing you, no matter your…condition. It may raise his spirits.” Black smirked and gave the most infuriating shrug. “I’m only trying to help.”
From the corner of my eye I saw Jason’s wand move to curse the bastard. I silently applauded him as a curse found its own way to my tongue; but before I could so much as yell ‘stupefy’, another voice cut through the Hall.
“Oi!” I turned to see Remus Lupin, wand out and aimed in warning. “What’s going on here?”
We all took a moment to adjust to the surprise of these two newcomers. Next to Remus Lupin stood the Hufflepuff prefect. She had curly, blonde hair falling to her shoulders and an expression of absolute horror. I silently scoffed. If they were here to command the situation, Remus really should have picked someone else. She was the very definition of scared and intimidated.
“Daniel?” Remus persisted.
“This doesn’t concern you, Lupin,” said Daniel. But I saw the way his shoulders straightened as he briefly surveyed the situation. I knew my friend. It would just now be dawning on him that we’d allowed the Slytherins to get to us. We’d done what he said we shouldn’t; we’d lost our cool and taken the bait. I’d remind Daniel later that there really was no other choice. Hell, even now I’d quite like Lupin to scurry on his merry way so I could hex Black to pieces. Black in tears on the floor was a most appealing visual.
“It does concern me, and it should concern you too. You’re a prefect, Daniel. Participating in duels isn’t really in the job description.” Daniel shot Remus a glare before turning back to Black.
“You heard him.” Daniel’s voice was hostile but controlled. “I’m a Prefect. So lower your wand.”
But Black wasn’t looking at Daniel. He wasn’t even listening. For the first time, his face betrayed his anger. It wasn’t directed at us Ravenclaws, though. I followed Black’s glare to the Gryffindor standing nearby and wondered why he would hate Remus Lupin. Remus stood unnerved, meeting Black’s gaze.
“You too, Black.” Remus’ voice was firm. “You know this is pointless. Give it up. Now is neither the time nor the place for petty squabbles.”
‘Petty squabbles’? I was about to protest Remus’ complete ignorance of the matter, when a glance at Black stopped me in surprise. His wand was no longer pointed at Daniel. The other Slytherins continue to glare at us and hold their wands outstretched but Black’s pointed firmly towards Remus. I felt a sudden flare of alarm. Things were escalating. I was finally aware of the crowd that had gathered around us, some nervously fingering their own wands.
Black moved his wand ever so slightly to the left and his face was once more unreadable. Remus, however – wand steady and outstretched, stood absolutely still. Once again, I followed Black’s look. It seemed everybody was doing the same. Even the crowd had fallen silent. Black’s eyes were fixed on something just over Remus’ right shoulder.
I clutched my wand more tightly. Things had indeed escalated.
Just behind Remus Lupin – face impassive as always – Sirius Black stood, wand levelled at his brother.
“I ask you again, Moony…” Over Remus’ left shoulder James Potter, voice entirely relaxed, had his own wand out and a glare fixed on the Slytherins. “Do you need a hand?”
Seriously, what is this? I rolled my eyes as Sirius Black emerged, wand – of course – trained on us. ‘Pick-on-Slytherin Day’? I saw James Potter carefully and quite deliberately aim his wand in my direction. Oh, who was I kidding? I gave a small scoff. Everyday was Pick-on-Slytherin Day.
“I ask you again, Moony…”
If it wasn’t a Ravenclaw it was a Gryffindor and if it wasn’t a Gryffindor… Well – even the bloody Hufflepuff Prefect was getting involved! A Hufflepuff! Where’s the justice, I ask you? Not just any Hufflepuff, either. This was that Muggleborn Arabelle Willis. The only comfort was that she looked scared as hell. The day Arabelle Willis faces us with a brave smile, that’s the day we ought to worry. It’s also the day the world will end. Probably. So impending apocalypse and all, we’ll be quite distracted. Nobody will witness her finest moment… Shame.
“Do you need a hand?”
I pulled my attention back to the ongoing saga. One thing about Slytherins, we were never victims. We wouldn’t cry and moan that you were singling us out. Hell no. We would hold our head up, deal with it as a Slytherin should, and make you regret the day you crossed our path.
I had my wand out, deciding to keep it trained on the Ravenclaws. Regulus had to deal with the ‘Black sheep’ (I allowed myself a little smirk at the pun) and I didn’t want Winters to get too comfortable. Besides, whoever that girl next to him was – auburn hair, screamed like a banshee and in serious need of an attitude adjustment – I would really like to curse her.
The anger ran cold in my veins as I appraised the situation. I debated our chances if a riot broke out. We would be fine, I’m sure. We’d simply fire off a few good curses, hurt a good few idiots, and retreat. The dungeons were pretty close and escape should be easy. Slytherins aren’t dense enough to fight a battle when they’re so heavily outnumbered. We’ll run for our lives if need be… And then later have you bleeding on the ground as we retaliate with some cunning vengeance. We’re about survival, thank you very much. You can keep your Gryffindor stupidity. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t stir up trouble with a Slytherin.
Unfortunately, no one told Daniel Winters. No one told Potter. And no one sure as hell told Gertrude Beck.
Off topic – I know. But Merlin, that girl’s a fool. And I happen to hold grudges.
Back to business.
“It’s no problem, James.” Lupin was still trying to diffuse the situation (I wished him well) and his eyes were back on Winters. “Daniel. Have you realised how much trouble you could get in yet? Or do you need to lose your Prefect badge to have it sink in?”
Before the Gryffindors had appeared I was all for a fight. I had agreed with the silent question in Regulus’ eyes because they had just become so damn annoying! I mean really – the boy was still in the Hospital Wing? Either Winters was lying or the boy had been one hell of a wimp. I kind of hoped he was lying, because to still be in the Hospital Wing…well, that was just embarrassing. But now that others had turned up, starting a fight was no longer the smart option. If anyone knew that it should be Ravenclaws. So I fixed Winters with that glare that said – ‘I-have-no-problem-cursing-your-half-blood-ass’ and waited for him to back down.
Instead, Winters moved his wand from Regulus – who was too preoccupied in a staring contest with Sirius to be much trouble – and pointed it at the rest of us. At a signal from me, Parker – the one next to Dorin Yaxley – had his wand trained on Potter.
“Drop your wands, before I give you detention.” I could have laughed at Winters’ audacity if it weren’t so futile.
“Look, this isn’t going to work.” Unlike Remus Lupin, it wasn’t the clear and determined speech of this speaker that commanded our attention. Her voice actually stood out because she was a high-pitched bundle of nerves.
Arabelle Willis blinked in surprise as all eyes turned to see what the silly girl had to offer. Her gaze moved between Sirius and Regulus, clearly alarmed by their unyielding stance, to the Ravenclaws and Potter with their wands trained on us, us with our wands trained on them, and Remus Lupin with his wand trained on everybody. Well, everybody minus his precious Marauders. Arabelle’s own wand hung limply by her side, as she quite visibly scrambled for words.
“It’s just…” It’s not often you hear people actually squeak. Willis squeaked. “Well, all of this ‘you drop your wand first’, ‘no, you drop your wand first’ it’s not going to work.” Her face was almost maroon as she shuffled awkwardly in the Hall. “Everyone has to take a step back.” It would be easy to deride her for her anxiety, but I recognised that Willis was probably the only voice of reason we had. As pathetic as she is, the girl is also nice to a fault. She no doubt thinks we should all live in peace and harmony, sharing a hug a day. Avoiding a fight would be her only agenda.
None of us stepped back, but neither were any moves of aggression made. Arabelle’s eyes flitted around once more. Finally, she turned to Sirius. The silent war between Sirius and Regulus had quickly become the centre of hostility. I’d never believe Arabelle Willis had enough guts to get involved. Apparently, I was wrong.
“Sirius,” she said softly. Sirius ignored her. “Sirius,” she repeated. This time she laid a gentle hand on his arm and he looked down at her touch.
“Yes, Ara dear?” I clenched my teeth at his nonchalant tone. It was as if he didn’t have a wand aimed at his little brother.
“Put the wand away. There doesn’t need to be any trouble.”
Sirius’ eyes met hers for just a moment, before his expression slipped to that of surprise.
“What, this?” He twirled the wand in his fingers, pointing it away from Regulus and up for Willis’ inspection. “We’re just playing, Ara.” He gave a small laugh and dismissive shake of the head. “You didn’t think I’d actually curse him, did you? That’s my darling brother. Would I hurt a hair on his little Pureblood head?” Willis looked uncertainly between the two boys.
“Err. I-I-I don’t know, Sirius.” He smiled sympathetically at her, wand back to his side as he flung an arm over her shoulders.
“Sorry to alarm you, Ara dearest.” Then his gaze moved to Potter. “Oi, Prongs. Ary here thought I was going to hex baby Reggie.” I saw Regulus’ jaw clench and grip tighten on his wand. Despite Sirius’ words the atmosphere was still most uncomfortable. Every one knew the Blacks were rather dysfunctional. Potter caught Sirius’ eye and gave a loud laugh. His own wand fell back to his side.
“Come now. That’s just absurd. Snivellus excluded, we absolutely adore the Slytherins.”
“That’s what I was trying to say,” agreed Sirius, nodding his head in earnest. “They’re our fourth favourite House.”
I’d quite like to hex both boys myself.
Sirius’ arm was still flung around Willis’ shoulder as he turned to face Regulus once more. There was a grin on his face, but his expression was hard.
“All right there, Regulus?” Sirius spoke evenly. After a tense moment or two, Regulus dropped his own wand and – ignoring his brother – turned to us.
“No doubt we’ve missed breakfast, but we still have lessons.” I took this as my cue and lowered my own wand. With a scowl, Yaxley and Parker did the same. “Let’s go.” I hadn’t even taken a step towards Charms, when Daniel Winters spoke. Oh Merlin. Will it never end?
“Black!” He had calmed only slightly. The anger was still evident in his narrowed eyes. “There’s still the matter of my brother.”
Rather frustrated I saw the Ravenclaws with wands out. If the Slytherins and Gryffindors could make their peace, why did the bloody swots of the school have to be so difficult?
“What about your brother?” I didn’t blame Regulus for the annoyance in his tone. It seemed we’d been having this conversation forever. “If you want to know what happened, go ask him. If he chooses not to tell you, if he decides to keep things from you, if he threatens to hex you… Well, then – you obviously weren’t much of a brother in the first place.”
Winters’ wand was still raised, but Regulus didn’t flinch. He met Daniel’s stare, seemingly unaware of the wand pointed at his chest.
“What on earth is going on here?” A rather outraged voice floated down from the marble staircase. “Move. Move.” I heard the grunts of spectators as the girl forced her way through the crowd. Soon, Lily Evans stood in the middle of the Entrance Hall. She rotated slowly on the spot, taking in the groups scattered all around.
“Ahh – Evans, my love. You’ve come to save us all.” Potter smirked at the redhead, who simply glared at him in response.
“Potter.” She practically spat the words. “I should have known you’d have something to do with this…”
“No. Lily –” Remus’ calming voice cut her off and Lily raised an eyebrow in response. “Things have settled down now. As soon as Daniel lowers his wand, I’m sure we can all be on our way.”
‘Ha!’ I thought, with vehemence. ‘Take that, Evans! Always jumping to conclusions…’ Such prejudice.
Lily spun abruptly at Remus’ words and seemed to take in the Ravenclaws for the first time.
“Daniel?” She marched straight forwards, where Winters faced her with a wary smile. “Why do you have your wand out? All of you…” She raised her head and looked around at the Ravenclaws and many gathered students. The flash in her eyes told me she’d noticed just how many had their wands drawn. “No magic in the halls!” Lily exclaimed, tone positively scandalised. Arms crossed, she fixed all of the spectators with a glare. “Don’t you have somewhere else to be? Class, maybe.” Still the crowd milled around, murmuring under their breath. “Because if not, there’s always detention. Now scram!” At her stern look the crowd reluctantly scattered. She turned back to Winters and without a word, plucked the wand from his fingers.
“Honestly, Daniel,” she interrupted before he could object. “What did you think was going to happen?” He had no answer; after a moment all of the Ravenclaws had dropped their wands. “Now, please,” she fixed him with a sweet smile and slightly pleading look as she took his hand in hers. “Let’s go to Potions.” He gave a hesitant nod, turning to his friends.
“Come on. We’re going to be late. We should have known better than to expect anything from this lot. They’re scum.” Daniel glared at us all, eyes narrowing as they reached Regulus. “This isn’t over, Black.”
Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh. I laughed. The Ravenclaw banshee scowled at me and I just kept laughing. Perhaps they thought me insane, but that really had been the most pathetic threat. Throwing us a last look – the dirtiest they could muster, the Ravenclaws and Lily flounced down to the dungeons. I have to give Evans credit; the girl certainly gets things done.
“Come on.” James Potter was hot on Lily Evans’ heals. “We have Potions.” Lupin gave a low laugh. It was clear lessons were not Potter’s only incentive to be in those dungeons. “Where’s Pete?”
“He was in the crowd,” Lupin explained. “Lily scared him away.” Potter grinned.
“That’s my girl. Coming, Padfoot?”
Sirius’ arm was still around the Hufflepuff girl. We had Charms together next. I hoped she had the sense to take a different route to the classroom, otherwise I imagined a very awkward journey. Sirius looked down at her nervous expression, a thoughtful frown on his face as he saw us by the staircase.
“Later. I’m going to walk Ary to Charms.” Potter opened his mouth to object but caught the grateful expression Willis shot Sirius. His gaze moved to us, and he nodded his understanding.
I won’t even bother to point out the stupidity of them assigning Willis protection from us. Really, that would be like torturing an incredibly annoying puppy. And while Mulciber might derive joy from such things – I certainly did not. I may sometimes want to hex her but I’d restrained myself thus far; I was sure I could do so for ten minutes more. The smile Lupin gave Sirius was somewhat ridiculous, too. There was a hint of pride in it. Absolutely absurd. Then Potter and Lupin were gone and Sirius led Willis away.
“Come on,” I heard him say, as they moved down the corridor.
“This way?” Willis’ voice was confused.
“I know plenty of shortcuts,” Sirius assured her. “Trust me. You might even be early.”
“And if you are early,” They turned a corner and were out of view. “We could always stop off in a broom cupboard.” Sirius’ teasing tone had begun to fade away, but the sound of Willis’ tinkling laughter floated back quite clearly.
Hmmm. I turned to Regulus, eyebrow raised. What was going on there? He gave an uncaring shrug as we headed up the staircase (me and Yaxley for Charms, Regulus and Parker for Transfiguration). Having fewer shortcuts at our disposal we knew we’d be late, so didn’t bother rushing.
“Such impropriety,” I muttered, thoughts on Sirius’ final words. “Thank Salazar it doesn’t run in the family.” Regulus only smirked.
A/N: I'm kinda curious. Tell me guys...(in a review *hint hint*) What's your favourite character/ship/storyline? There's so many floating around I wonder how many of you will enjoy the ending I have planned :P
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