Chapter 15 : Across This New Divide
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“I don’t care.”
“But I’m sorry!”
Ellie breathed out violently. She was almost at the end of her patience with James. A week had passed since he had screwed up and she still hadn’t forgiven him. It probably would have been easier if she had, but goddamn it she was angry! He had had no right to say those things about her family in front of the entire common room, but he had because he was no more mature than an angry four year-old.
“Get bent Potter,” she said through clenched teeth as she attempted to concentrate on the lecture Professor McGonagall was giving.
“Come on Swift,” he pressed. “I didn’t mean to say all those things.”
“But you did anyways,” she hissed.
“Not on purpose! You made me angry!”
“That’s no excuse.”
“Please?” he asked. When she refused to respond, he got to his knees and clasped her hand in his own. “Please?”
“Knock it off!” Ellie hissed at him as she looked around. People were staring.
“Not until you forgive me!”
“Get off the floor!”
“Fine,” she said hastily. “You’re forgiven, now knock it off!” With a grin, he slid back into the seat. Ellie stabbed the tip of her quill into the parchment she was taking notes on. She was going to kill Sirius for delaying her long enough so she had no choice but sit next to James. “Wipe that annoying grin off your face Potter!”
“Yes ma’am,” he said with a salute, before turning towards the front of the class and coming face to face with Professor McGonagall. “Hello Minnie!”
“As I’ve told you before, it’s Professor McGonagall,” she replied tartly. “Now if you and Ms. Swift are done with your conversation, I have a class to teach.”
“Well thank you for asking,” James said with a grin. “It’s always nice when someone asks for permission before interrupting a conversation.”
“Five points from Gryffindor,” McGonagall said as she turned and returned to the front of the class. Ellie barely caught sight of James mocking her before the lecture began again and her attention was otherwise occupied.
“So you really forgave James?” Sirius asked the second class ended and he managed to find her in the rushing crowds outside the classroom.
“Yes, I forgave him,” she said shortly. “I have vowed to kill you though, so it probably isn’t healthy for you to stay near me.”
“I was only helping,” he said as he rolled his eyes. “You’ll thank me for this later.”
“I sincerely doubt that,” she said darkly. She managed to catch the end of a conversation between some second years concerning the attacks on the muggle-borns and was mortified to hear them accuse her of the crime. “Can’t people just mind their own business?” she asked angrily as she shoved past them.
“Very angry, very dangerous dark witch coming through!” Sirius bellowed as he followed her. “Make way ladies, watch your crown jewels gents! She is armed, dangerous, and not in the mood for gossip!”
“Will you stop joking around?!” she shrieked at him. “It’s not funny!”
“Yes it is.”
“No! It’s not! People are taking you seriously Sirius!”
“But Swift,” he said solemnly, “I’m always serious.”
“And I’m the best dueler to ever live,” she said dryly. “Now cut it out before someone decides to attack me or something.”
“No one is going to attack you,” he said as he rolled his eyes. “They’re all too terrified that you’ll mess them up like those first years.”
“Splendid,” she said sarcastically. “Exactly what I need right now. Everyone thinking I’m a psychopathic pure-blood fanatic. I’m surprised none of the Slytherins have come running to see if they can be my groupies.”
“They’re probably waiting until they can get you alone or something,” Sirius said as he pushed past a group of Slytherins that were watching Ellie a bit too closely. “Bloody gits,” he snarled.
“Filthy traitor,” one of the boys snapped back. Ellie took a second glance and rolled her eyes. The Black brothers were so good at getting along.
“How’s mother these days?” Sirius sneered. “Still half-way to senility?”
“If by senile you mean heartbroken that you left, then yes,” Regulus snarled back.
“That’s funny. I thought she’d be ecstatic to have me off her hands.”
“She is. The dishonor and humiliation you’ve brought our family is what made her heartbroken.”
“Always nice to know I’m missed,” Sirius said sarcastically. “Well Reggie, it’s always lovely trading insults with you. Let’s do it again soon.” He seized Ellie by the elbow and marched her down the hall quickly. She shot a glance over her shoulder. They were still watching her.
“How creepy are they?” she asked quietly as he pulled her through the crowds and back towards the common room.
“Exceptionally,” he replied.
“Did you see them watching me?”
“Yeah,” he answered grimly. “I’m guessing that they want one of two things.”
“Well, the first would be to see whether the rumors are true and you really are on their side,” he said quietly. “The second would be for your blood if it weren’t true. You made a lot of enemies when you implicated the Lestrange brothers along with your father.”
“I figured,” she replied, inwardly cursing herself. “I almost didn’t mention them, but they kept asking and I was so confused about everything.”
“You did what you had to,” he said. “You have nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I’m glad at least one person thinks so,” she sighed as they reached the portrait hole. “Obliviate,” she said to the Fat Lady. The portrait swung open and they climbed through into the common room. Peter was already seated by the fire, flipping through one of his comic books. Ellie nearly rolled her eyes when she noticed how tight the costumes on the women were.
“You skipped class,” Sirius said.
“Yep,” Peter answered.
“I’m so proud.”
“You should be, McGonagall will probably skin me the next time she sees me,” he said as he flipped a page.
“Then why’d you skip?” Ellie questioned as she sank onto the couch across from him.
“I didn’t want to go,” Peter replied.
“Well that much was evident.” He flashed her a smile in return and focused his attention for the next hour on his comic book.
When the owl arrived, it was almost time for dinner. It was a rather odd time for an owl to appear, but she had banished the thought from her mind as she opened the window and allowed the bird into the common room. Landing on the windowsill, it hopped gently towards her and extended its leg. Ellie removed the letter from the owl and it immediately took off into the sky again.
“You got a letter?” Peter asked. “At this time of day?”
“I guess so,” she said with a shrug. “Stranger things have happened.” She unsealed the envelope and slipped the thin piece of parchment into her hands. She could tell from the way the t’s were crossed that it was from her mother.
“What are you doing?” James asked as he walked into the common room, followed closely by Remus.
“Plotting my revenge,” Ellie replied off-handedly. She shot James a quick glance and had to restrain the giggles that were bubbling up into her throat. “Oh relax, I was only joking.”
“Good,” he said as he sank into an arm chair. “I’ve seen your idea of revenge before and it’s not pretty.”
She smiled sweetly and batted her eyes. “Don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said innocently.
James stared at her for a moment, before shaking his head and saying, “Remind me never to underestimate you.”
“That would be no fun at all,” Sirius commented from his seat near Ellie as she turned back to her letter. “It’s so much more entertaining when you beg her for forgiveness and mercy.”
“My pleasure Prongs.”
Ellie stopped listening at that point and, thus, didn’t hear or see what caused their mock fight to break out. In fact, she wasn’t even aware of the mock fight. Her eyes were glued to the words on the page. There was an odd rushing noise in her ears and her hands trembled as they gripped the letter. What had her mother written? Could it be true?
“What’s the letter say?” she heard Remus ask. “Ellie?”
She didn’t reply. She couldn’t. Speaking the words might make them true and if they were true – no! She wouldn’t even entertain the possibility that it could have happened. There was simply no way.
“Is she ok?”
“What’s it say?”
She felt someone pull the letter from her hands as she shook her head and looked around. Three curious boys were staring at her with the fourth studying the letter. “Your aunt Rosaline was attacked?” Remus asked.
“What?” James asked in shock. “What happened?”
“Hang on a moment,” Remus snapped as he scanned the rest of the letter. “She was in Diagon Alley. There was an attack and she’s at St. Mungo’s now.”
“Is she alright?”
Ellie felt a burning sensation in her eyes and squeezed her lids shut to keep from crying. Crying would do no good, it would do nothing to make things better. Crying was nothing more than a sign of weakness, just like her father had told her as a child. Better to not cry and let people think she was cold hearted than to allow them to see her at her weakest moment.
“Minnie is probably on her way,” Sirius muttered. “Hey Ellie?”
She took a moment to make sure the sensation was truly gone, before turning to him. “Yes?” she asked, surprising even herself with how calm she sounded.
“McGonagall is probably going to want to speak with you, make sure you’re alright,” he said. “She and Dumbledore probably received owls as well.”
“Ok,” she said simply. “Should we wait here or go to her office?”
“Probably better to stay put,” Remus said. “No one should be wandering around the castle this late.”
“You say it like you’ve never done it before,” Peter joked.
“Be that as it may,” Remus replied with a small smile, “it’s still not a good idea.”
The next five minutes were spent in silence as the rest of the occupants of the room continued with their conversations. Ellie watched them all from her seat on the couch, puzzled over the fact that the world had not come to a shrieking halt with the news of Rosaline’s attack. Her musing, however, stopped as soon as Professor McGonagall entered the room.
“Ms. Swift, may I have a word with you?” she asked. Remus gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze as she got up and left the common room, grateful only that most of her fellow Gryffindors hadn’t noticed.
They walked through the school in silence, something Ellie was more than happy about. It gave her time to try and get her thoughts straight and emotions in check. By the time they reached McGonagall’s office, Ellie was sure she would be able to handle the upcoming talk. That was, until the door opened and she saw her mother. She wasn’t sure what the bigger shock was; the fact that she was at the school or the fact that she looked entirely presentable, calm, and collected.
“Please, have a seat,” McGonagall said as she ushered her into the room. Ellie cautiously lowered herself into the chair besides her mother. “Your mother informed that she had sent you an owl regarding the attack that injured your aunt.”
“Yeah, I just got it,” she replied. “Why’s my mother here?”
“I’m here to take you home,” Arabella replied gently. “Professor McGonagall wrote me an owl last week to let me know that you’ve been having trouble with the other students ever since you got back from the holidays.”
“It’s nothing I can’t handle,” she said quickly.
“Regardless, I want the family together right now,” her mother said patiently. “You’ll be safe at home with us.”
“Safer than at Hogwarts?” she asked skeptically. “Mum, the school has all sorts of charms and spells on it!”
“She is correct,” McGonagall stated. “I assure you that the Headmaster takes the protection of the school quite seriously, Mrs. Swift.”
“Be that as it may,” Arabella said, “I’d feel better if Eleanor came home. Families shouldn’t be separated in times like these.”
“Our family is already separated mum,” Ellie pointed out.
“Your father’s incarceration is another matter entirely,” Arabella said a bit stiffly. “You’re coming home.”
“No mum,” Ellie said firmly. “I want to stay!”
“I’m not going to argue with you Eleanor,” her mother answered. “You’re returning home with me and that’s final.”
Ellie sank back in her seat. She would have to go home. Maybe it would be better there. At the very least, there would be no one to stare and talk about her behind her back, no one accusing her of being a traitor and murderer.
But she didn’t want to leave. She wanted to stay and finish the year. Yes, it wasn’t going to be easy with everything that had happened, but she was willing to put up with it all if it meant she could stay.
“Mum,” she said slowly, “I understand that you only want to protect me, but I’m not leaving. I’m of age and should be able to make this decision myself. I’ll come home for Easter, I promise, but I want to stay and finish out the year.”
Arabella stared at her for a long moment. Ellie held her breath and waited. “This is really what you want?” she asked. When Ellie nodded, Arabella sighed, “Alright then. I can’t exactly force you to leave can I?” Ellie remained silent as her mother and Professor McGonagall rose from their seats. “I suppose we have nothing left to discuss then. I’m sorry for taking up your time Professor.”
“I always welcome discussion between parents and any concerns they may have,” McGonagall answered. “If Eleanor needs any assistance handling the current situation, she knows she needs only to ask.”
“Very well. Thank you for your time,” Arabella said as she shook her hand. “I’ll see you in a few weeks then Eleanor?”
“Yes mum,” she answered as she kissed her mother’s cheek.
“And you’ll behave?”
“Yes mum, I promise.”
“Very well,” McGonagall said as she walked around the desk. “Mrs. Swift, I can escort you to the grounds now if you’re ready. Ms. Swift, I expect you to go straight back to the common room.”
“Yes Professor,” she answered as they left the room. After giving her mother one last hug, they parted ways and Ellie was alone. She couldn’t believe her luck! She had actually managed to convince her mother to allow her to stay. . . although she still wasn’t entirely clear on why she wanted to stay so badly. She’d just let her mother go on thinking it was because she wanted to finish up her studies for the year.
As she made her way back to the common room, she couldn’t help but notice how eerily quiet the halls were. Given the late hour of the day, it wasn’t all that surprising. Still, Ellie didn’t like it. She liked it even less when she turned a corner and found herself facing an approaching group of students, led by none other than Blake.
“Look what we found,” he said with obvious disdain. “It’s a filthy traditore di anima, a filthy blood traitor.”
“Fuck off Blake,” she snapped as she turned to walk in the other direction.
“Temper, temper,” he said with dripping sarcasm. “Couldn’t have anything to do with my mudblood mother’s unfortunate accident, could it?”
Ellie turned around slowly. Every nerve in her body was screaming for her to run, but her brain wasn’t listening. “What did you do?” she asked, half-with anger and half-with horror.
“I did nothing,” he said with a smirk. “I was in the castle the entire time.”
Ellie felt their presence before she saw him. A moment later, however, James and Sirius stood beside her, their wands drawn and grim looks on their faces. Blake and his group drew back slightly, surprised by the sudden appearance of the two boys.
“You know what happened,” she accused as she stepped towards him, ignoring the pair.
“Possibly,” Blake said, his eyes fixed on James and Sirius. “Not that it really matters anymore. With any luck, mother will be out of pain and in a better place soon enough.”
Later on, Ellie would look back on this moment as one of sheer stupidity on her part. At the moment, however, she felt nothing but a desire to cause Blake as much pain as she could. And so it was, that before he could even laugh at his own words, she had drawn her wand and fired off the first spell that came to mind.
“Confundo!” she shrieked. The charm rocketed towards Blake, who narrowly dodged out of the way and allowed it to hit one of his friends. The girl stumbled back and looked around in a daze.
The spells were flying now. Ellie ducked beneath a purple jet, that hit a suit of armor instead, and cast a protective shield that deflected another spell from hitting Sirius.
James shoved her against a wall as a hex barely missed hitting her. With a wave of her wand, Ellie enchanted a suit of armor to leap from its podium and wrap it’s arms around Blake. He flicked his wand in return and sent a ring of fire shooting towards the Gryffindors as he fought off the armor. James swept his wand in an upward motion and the fire turned into a harmless flock of birds. He waved his wand again, and they whirled around to dive-bomb their opponents. Blake waved his wand and the carpet reared up like a snake, diving for the three Gryffindors. Sirius flicked his wand and the carpet sent the group soaring through the air. Glass shattered as part of the carpet hit a window.
“Come on!” James grabbed Ellie by the wrist and they took off down the hall and back the way she had come. It wasn’t long before they heard them giving chase. Ellie could tell they were getting closer and she swore silently.
“We’re not going to outrun them,” she said as she gasped for air. Already she could feel a stitch in her side.
“Outsmart them,” Sirius suggested. He ducked into an alcove and threw some sort of cloak over them, just as Blake and the others rounded the corner.
“Where are they?” he snarled as he paced up and down the hall. “Where the fuck are they?”
“They probably ran off,” one of them said. “Wouldn’t be the first time a Gryffindor ran away from a fight.”
“I don’t care about last time!” he bellowed. “We need to find her!” Moments later, they had disappeared and their footsteps faded.
“That was too close,” James said as he removed the cloak from them. “What the hell were you thinking Swift?”
“I was thinking I’d like to cause my cousin some pain,” she snapped.
“Why would you do that?”
“Because I snapped ok?” she said, louder than she had intended. “I’m upset and angry and he said some horrible things! I just lost it, ok?”
“You’re lucky we were there,” Sirius commented.
“I could have taken them!”
“No one would deny you’re courage, but there’s no way you could have taken all six of them at once. Even you can’t deny that.”
Ellie took a deep breath. There was some sense in their words, she knew that. It didn’t make it any easier for her to accept. “Lets just get back to the common room, ok?” James asked as he shoved the cloak out of sight.
“How did he not see us?” Ellie asked.
“That’s a story for another time,” James said evasively. “Just stay between us and try not to make any noise. There’s no way of telling where they are.”
Ellie nodded and the three set out with their wands drawn. . .
“So you think that Blake had something to do with the attack?”
Ellie nodded as she sat on Remus’ bed later that night. “He definitely knew something,” she said as Remus released a low whistle.
“Why on earth would he want to hurt his own mother?” he asked.
“Simple,” Peter replied. “Rosaline is a muggleborn.”
“But his own mother?” Remus questioned incredulously.
“I think my uncle Sal had something to do with the attack,” Ellie cut in. “He kept saying that he hadn’t left the castle that day, but he said nothing about his father.”
“You don’t know that for sure,” Peter answered.
“He had the motivation.”
“Purebloods that marry muggle-borns lose their families,” Sirius said as he rolled his eyes. “Purebloods that marry muggles lose everything else.”
“Honestly, what else is there to lose besides your family?” Ellie asked.
“Friends, money, your career,” Sirius ticked off on his fingers.
Ellie rolled her eyes and looked around. It felt odd to be talking about this sort of thing with a group of people she had only just started to be friendly with. She honestly wished that Lily were there to help her, but Ellie knew deep down inside that it was unlikely that would ever be happening again. Their friendship, for better or for worse, had been irrevocably changed.
Still, it was nice not being completely alone.
“What’s this Wormtail?” Sirius asked with obvious glee as he pulled something out from behind his comic book.
“Nothing!” Peter immediately said, his cheeks turning bright pink. “It’s nothing!”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Sirius said, his eyes widening. “Pettigrew! I didn’t know you were so dirty.”
“Give it back!”
“What is that?” James asked curiously.
“Pettigrew,” Sirius began proudly, “has a girlie magazine!”
James exchanged looks with Ellie and Remus, before he leapt off his bed and pounced on Sirius and Peter. “Let me see!” he said excitedly.
“Over my cold and rotting corpse,” Sirius answered as he squeezed it to his chest protectively. He yelped like a dog as James’ weight crashed down on top of him. Any sound Peter might have released was muffled by the pillows his face was buried in. “James! Think of what Evans would say!”
“What Red doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” James said back, straining to pull the magazine from his hands. Sirius, for his part, attempted to bite James as he reached for it.
Ellie looked at Remus, who had a slightly bemused look on his face. “Do you understand this at all?” she asked.
“A little,” he said. “I don’t see why they would be fighting over it though. Peter has a whole stash under his bed.”
The tussle came to an abrupt stop, before James and Sirius leapt from the bed and dove for the rest of the magazines. “Brilliant!” Sirius exclaimed as Peter sat up on the bed. His face was bright red and he looked as if he weren’t entirely sure where he was.
“Here you go Moony,” James said as he tossed a few to Remus, who immediately disappeared behind the covers of one muttering something about how he liked to read the articles. “Hey Swift, you want some?”
“Just what are you implying?” she asked icily as she crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes.
“Nothing,” he said, blinking once. “I just. . . thought it would be rude not to offer?”
She rolled her eyes, but kept her peace. She knew they still suspected she was a lesbian. James was just too polite to mention it. She got up from the bed and stretched her arms over her head. “I’m going to bed,” she announced. “You four have. . . err. . . fun with those things.”
“Sure,” Sirius said, completely absorbed in the magazine.
Ellie giggled and quickly made her way into her own dorm. She looked over at Lily’s bed sadly. Once again she was on rounds, but even when they did bump into one another in the room Lily refused to speak or look at her. Well, there was no changing that. Lily had made her decision and while Ellie didn’t like it she wasn’t about to force her to change.
She hopped into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin as she shut her eyes. She really was very tired. Probably had something to do with that duel earlier.
Ellie would remember the skies were black. Or at least they looked black. There was so much smoke it was difficult to tell where the carnage ended and the sky began. But, she would remember that the skies were black and fire rained down from the heavens. It was chaos in every sense of the word.
She would remember that her hands were dripping blood and that the wind was howling around her. She would remember how cold the air felt against her bare skin. She would remember the sensation of being utterly alone amongst the dead, not counting the squirming bundle of blankets in her bloody arms.
What she would not remember, could never hope to remember, were the little things: things like the sound of her mother’s voice as she sang Isabella to sleep at night, the feel of a warm hand in her own, the taste of something as simple as hot chocolate. These things were lost to her as she looked around at the field of the fallen, scared and unsure of where to go. The only thing she felt pulsing through her veins, the only thing she could think, was the natural instinct to find somewhere safe to curl up in and hide.
That wasn’t possible though.
And so Ellie remained rooted to the spot, clutching the bundle close to her chest even as the swirls of dark fabric began to appear around her. Even if she had wanted to run, she wouldn’t have been able to; paralyzing fear had seen to that.
If she stayed, she would die. But if she ran, she would be unable to defend herself or the bundle in her arms. She could have laughed at the situation she had found herself in.
She looked down at the bundle. A pair of round blue eyes stared calmly back at her. As she stared back at them, a powerful urge to protect the bundle rose within her chest and she turned to face the dark figures once more as a growl escaped her lips. . .
She shot up in bed, breathing hard and covered in a light sweat. The covers were twisted around her legs, making it impossible for her to get out of bed. She looked around as she took deep breaths. She was still in the dormitory at Hogwarts, the sky was not covered in smoke, and there were no dead bodies. She checked her hands for blood and breathed a sigh of relief when they came away clean. It had only been a dream.
She lay back down, resting a hand on her forehead. It was only a dream, but it had felt so real. She could practically feel the blood on her hands as she had gripped the bundle of blankets. Or, that could have been the sweat on the covers. Either way, it had felt real enough to her and that was all that mattered.
She spent several moments untangling her legs and then swung them over the side of the bed. The floor was freezing and she nearly yelped as her feet connected with the stones. She glanced over at Lily’s bed. Still empty. She was probably spending the night with James again, which was perfectly fine with Ellie. She was more than welcome to sleep where she wanted to.
She swung her arms back and forth a few times as her feet adjusted to the cold. She was still very sleepy, but she didn’t want to go back to bed. Going to sleep might mean having that dream again. So, instead, Ellie sat cross legged on her bed and spent the next hour practicing various charms. As she was summoning a book she had previously banished across the room, the door swung open. Ellie spun around, her wand at the ready, only to lower it when she saw it was Lily.
“Sorry,” she muttered under her breath. “You startled me.”
Lily didn’t answer. She simply removed her pajamas from her trunk and exited the room once more. Awkward didn’t even begin to cover how Ellie felt as the door shut. Still, she pushed her emotions aside and curled up under the covers again, shutting her eyes as she promised herself that things would get better soon. . .
A/N: Special shoutout to ShivaniParmar, who basically gave me the whole "Peter looks at porn" idea. Absolutely brilliant idea.
Hope everyone is enjoying the story. Just eight chapters until the end!
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