Chapter 16 : Of Vampires and Marriage Proposals
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“Whose turn is it to pay?” Remus asked as the owl held out its leg. He removed the paper and handed it to Sirius, who began to give a rather amusing account of what could be found on the front page.
“Mine,” Ellie said with a grimace. She removed the correct amount and forced herself to shove it into the owl’s purse. It hooted twice and took off into the air once more.
“Let’s see,” Sirius said as he cleared his throat. “Looks as if the Dementors will be getting another new roommate. How nice for them. They must be getting lonely up there what with the Ministry’s inability to catch any Death Eaters.”
“Who is it this time?” Peter asked.
The name hit Ellie like a rock. “Livia?” she asked in shock. “Livia Greengrass?”
“Yeah,” Sirius replied as he scanned over the article again. “Damn shame. She’s awfully hot. I’d love to do horrible and dirty things to her.”
“What was she arrested for?” Ellie asked impatiently.
“She was arrested for aiding Death Eaters and refusing to cooperate with authorities.”
“Serves her right,” James muttered. “She was always a bitch.”
“Language James,” Lily said absently as she sipped her tea.
So that was it then. Livia Greengrass had been working for Death Eaters the entire time. She had never fallen in love with her father. In fact, she had seduced him and used him for her own sick and twisted purposes.
She had set him up.
The revelation enraged Ellie and she gripped the tabletop until her knuckles turned white. They had marked him as an easy target and she had taken full advantage of his weaknesses. A soft growl escaped her lips, causing Peter to momentarily eye her warily before turning back to his food. It was bad enough that Livia had been her father’s mistress, but it was somehow even worse knowing that she had used him. If it hadn’t been for Livia, her father never would have gotten into the mess he did and Ellie wouldn’t be left wondering if she had done the right thing.
Even as the thoughts raced through her mind, she knew it wasn’t true. Her father would have found someone else to screw. Bad times tended to reveal a person’s true character and Ellie would need to accept that her father would have had an affair with someone no matter what.
She would also need to accept that it was all her fault.
She had noticed the changes to his personality while she was home for Easter of her fifth year. At the time she had merely ignored it and assumed he was still angry about what she had done. Now she knew that the change in his personality had been because Livia had begun to seduce him. It was infuriating that she, who had prided herself on knowing her family like the back of her hand, hadn’t seen what was happening until it was too late to do anything about it. Maybe if she had told her dad she knew about the affair back in August he would have cut ties with Livia and things would have happened differently.
But that wouldn’t have happened either. She never would have been able to find the strength to force her father to end things with Livia. It had taken something drastic, the possibility of Lily’s death, to do that. She loved her mother and felt she had every right to know of her father’s infidelity, but Ellie still cringed at the thought of telling her because she knew if she did that their marriage would be broken beyond repair. Despite the fact that her father was a traitor and in prison, she still didn’t want to see her family broken in that way.
Ellie snapped out of her inner monologue and turned her attention back to the conversation. Sirius was still flipping through the paper, James and Lily were nuzzling over a cup of pumpkin juice, Peter was stuffing his face with food, and Remus was watching Ellie curiously.
“Bellatrix got married,” he said with disgust. “I’m so hurt I didn’t get an invitation.”
Ellie giggled and shot him an amused look. “If it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure that if anyone from my family showed up she probably would have hexed us all.”
“Probably,” Sirius said thoughtfully. “I’m pretty sure that instead of hexing, she would just kill everyone though. She’s never been good about using her words.”
“She is good at using certain words,” James pointed out. “You know, I’ve heard she knows the incantations for the Unforgivable Curses rather well and that she swears like a sailor.”
“Well yeah,” Sirius conceded, “but those don’t really count. What I meant was that she’s not too good at civilly discussing things in a polite and open-minded manner.”
“Really?” Lily asked with a frown.
“To put it simply at family reunions as kids, she had a penchant for starting trouble just so she could try out new and different ways to torment us,” Sirius said, rolling his eyes. “When I was three, she ripped the head off my stuffed bear, which Addy gave me, just because I was breathing too loudly. Then she managed to steal her mother’s wand and make it walk around like a reanimated corpse. I’ve never looked at stuffed animals the same way.”
Ellie burst into hysterical laughter at the same time as Remus. Sirius looked at them in a completely affronted manner. “It’s not funny!” he protested.
“Yes – it – is,” Ellie gasped between laughs.
“Really – funny,” Remus added as he clutched his stomach.
“No it wasn’t! She completely scarred -” He cut off what he was saying as they laughed harder. By the time they were able to control themselves, Remus’ face was tomato red and tears were streaming down Ellie’s face. “You two are jerks,” Sirius muttered as he stabbed at his potatoes.
“And proud of it,” Remus said.
The rest of the trip to Defense Against the Dark Arts was spent with the boys debating whether it was possible for a narcoleptic to be a Death Eater and the two girls ignoring one another. By the time they arrived in class, Peter was convinced Death Eaters could kill people even while deep in sleep and Sirius was attempting to scare him by running ahead and jumping out without warning.
“Settle down,” Professor Wallace said as he swept into the room. He waved his wand and a book appeared on his podium, along with a quill. “Albertson, Michael,” Professor Wallace said as he began the roll call.
“Chop!” James said as Michael raised his hand.
“Chop!” Sirius piped in. Professor Wallace gave the pair an odd look, before continuing on with the roll. By the time the last name was called and the pair had shouted “Timber!” at the tops of their lungs, Ellie was banging her head against the desk and Lily looked as if she wished she weren’t dating someone who acted like a three year-old.
“Thank you Mr. Potter and Mr. Black, for demonstrating exactly why I wish I hadn’t taken this job.”
“You’re welcome sir,” Sirius said with a smirk.
“We’ll be discussing vampires today folks,” Wallace said as he clapped his hands a few times. Ellie was amused to see that his hair had been dyed platinum blonde and was braided down his back. “You’ll be taking notes, so get out your books and quills! Come on people, we don’t have all day!” The class groaned, but removed the specified materials as he requested. “Now, who can tell me a little about vampires?” Lily’s hand shot into the air, nearly smacking an unsuspecting James in the face. Sirius’ hand, however, had shot up first and it was with a smirk that the professor called on him instead.
“They suck blood,” he said proudly.
Professor Wallace rolled his eyes and sighed. “Yes, obviously Mr. Black. Are there any other gems of wisdom you’d like to pass onto the class?”
Sirius grinned. “Yeah. I think my mum is one.”
“Moving on,” Wallace said as everyone but Lily snickered. “The first thing you need to know is that vampires are relatively simple creatures,” he said as he turned to the board. “They are driven by the primal need to feed much like most creatures, including humans, are.”
“I thought humans were driven by the need to mate,” James asked innocently. The rest of the class broke into snickers or embarrassed giggles.
“Human males are,” Wallace said, adding, “immature, rude, and hormonal teenage males to be exact.” The girls of the class burst into hysterical laughter as the boys glowered. Wallace, for his part, merely continued with the lecture. Ellie was pleased to note, however, that his words shut James and Sirius up for the rest of the class.
“Bloody insane that one is,” James said the moment they walked out of the classroom.
“Just because he bested you does not mean he’s insane,” Lily said primly.
“He didn’t best me,” James protested.
“I think he did.”
“Oh really?” James asked as he snaked an arm around her shoulders. “And what else does the future Mrs. James Potter think?”
“I shudder at the thought,” Lily said.
“And here I thought you two were actually starting to like each other,” Remus said. “I thought all that snogging was indicative of that. Silly me.”
“If Lily doesn’t kill you before the end of seventh year, then I’d bet my right hand that she’ll marry you,” Peter piped up.
“Thank you Wormtail,” James said. “It’s nice to know that someone has faith.”
“So what do you think?” Sirius asked as he slung an arm around Ellie’s shoulders. “Think we’ll ever be as blissfully happy as those two?”
“Well,” Ellie said as she peered over her shoulder. Lily had her wand pointed at James’ face. “I’d say we have a good shot at the moment.”
“I’ll hope and pray for the day then,” he said mockingly as they passed a group of girls. “Which one of you lovely ladies would like to be the future ex-Mrs. Sirius Black?”
“Ex?” a girl with long blonde hair asked.
“Why bother lying?” he asked with a winning grin. She rolled her eyes and turned back to her friends.
“Smooth,” Ellie said with a chuckle.
Sirius raised an eyebrow and, without warning, bent down and swept her feet out from beneath her. She released a shriek and braced for impact, but it never came. She opened her eyes to find herself being held by Sirius. “How’s that for smooth?” he asked as he wiggled his eyebrows.
“Never,” she said, pointing a finger at his face, “do that again!”
“Do what?” he asked with a grin. “This?” Before Ellie could protest, he had grabbed her legs and cradled her in his arms against his chest. She yelped and instinctively latched onto his neck. “Don’t bother calling for help. Evans can’t save you now!”
“As a Prefect, I am obligated to ask you to stop messing around,” Lily said primly from behind them. Ellie rolled her eyes. She could at least make it sound like she wanted him to stop.
“And as a Marauder, I am obligated to tell you to get bent,” Sirius said cheerfully.
“Don’t talk to my future wife like that Padfoot.”
“Well then, please inform your future wife to butt out of my business,” he said as he turned back to Ellie. “Now, where were we?”
“Well,” Ellie said, “I do believe I was about to start threatening to castrate you with a rusty knife and no potion to stop the pain.”
“That’s right,” Sirius said. “I remember now. Would you like to continue with that?”
“Will you let me down if I do?”
Ellie sighed. “Well, I suppose this will have to do then.” With that, she slammed her elbow into Sirius’ crotch. Sirius groaned and fell to the ground with her on top of him.
“Fucking bitch,” he groaned.
“You really need to keep your hands to yourself then,” she said cheerfully. She stood up and looked at him curiously as he groaned on the ground. “Is it bad that I find amusement in your pain?”
“Probably,” Remus said with a sigh. He leaned over and helped Sirius to his feet. “You two really need to use your words.”
“I tried, he didn’t.”
“I hardly consider elbowing in the groin to be using your words,” Remus said dryly.
“Why are you angry?” Peter asked as he chewed on some candy. “It’s not like you’re the one who was hit.”
“No, but I will have to put up with Sirius plotting revenge all night,” Remus said.
“Sorry,” Ellie said. “He did deserve it though.” She looked around and frowned. “Where are the Potters?”
“Probably off snogging,” Sirius managed to get out. “And yeah, this means war Swift.”
Ellie merely rolled her eyes.
Exactly four hours later, Sirius got his revenge. It was swift and it was humiliating, but mostly it was amusing for everyone involved. It usually is when the infamous Sirius Black proposes marriage to a woman “so evil that even his mother would approve.” That woman was, of course, Ellie.
Despite the fact that she was embarrassed by the attention and didn’t like the look on Ben’s face as they sat back down, Ellie couldn’t help but find a tiny bit of amusement in it. Despite the fact that almost every female (and a decent number of males) in the school lusted after him, they all knew he was definitely not marriage material.
By the time the next morning dawned, the entire school knew about the “proposal” and Ellie had to suffer through a day of evil looks from jealous females. Honestly, she didn’t know what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t like she hadn’t made it clear that she barely tolerated his presence most days.
Today, happened to be one of those days.
“Whats in your locket?” Sirius asked as he pounced on Ellie as she sat on his bed.
“Nothing,” she squealed as she attempted to wiggle away. He grabbed her by the arms and sat firmly on top of her. “Get off me Black.”
“ No,” he said. “Not until you tell me.”
“A picture,” she said as she continued to try and force him off.
“You of course,” Ellie said, rolling her eyes.
“I knew it!” he proclaimed loudly. “You do secretly love me after all!”
“But why?” he asked, batting his eyes. “You just admitted to loving me. I say we seal the deal with a kiss and a shag.”
“And the day that happens is the day I will be your ex-wife,” Ellie answered, “which is never going to happen.”
“Because I’ll never divorce you my dear!”
“No, because I’d never marry you to begin with,” she replied. “Now get off before we have a repeat of yesterday when my foot met your balls.”
Sirius sighed, but removed himself all the same. “You know what day it is?” Sirius asked. Peter was sprawled on his bed, reading an actual comic book for once since Lily, who was attempting to get James to study for potions, was present.
“Friday?” Ellie asked as she raised an eyebrow.
“Yep,” Sirius said happily. “And you know what that means?”
“That I’m contractually obligated to pay attention to you?”
“Technically, she doesn’t need to anymore,” Remus said as he made smoke rings with his wand. “Since James spilled the beans, it really isn’t necessary for her to spend time with you anymore.”
“And this is when I wish you had an off button,” Sirius sighed. “You could say no Ellie, but I was planning on doing something entertaining.”
Ellie narrowed her eyes and felt her hand reach for her wand instinctively. “What do you mean by entertaining?”
“Well, I thought we could play a game,” he said innocently. “It’s called ‘Hex a Slytherin Git.’”
Ellie thought about it for a moment as Remus protested over the morality of the game. “Can I use charms instead?” she asked.
“I give up,” Remus said, throwing his arms in the air.
“Excellent,” Sirius grinned. He shot off his bed, grabbed her by the hand, and pulled her from the room.
“Can you please not pull my shoulder from its socket?” she asked as he dragged her down a hallway.
He slowed down a bit, but refused to release her hand no matter how hard she tried to convince him. “Can you try not to whine like a baby?” Sirius asked. “We’re attempting to hunt the Slytherins, not the other way around.”
“Yes, well, if we do come across some, I’m going to need my wand hand to duel,” she said moodily. When he still refused to let go, she narrowed her eyes and asked, “You never intended to find some Slytherins, did you?”
“No,” he said, “that would have been an added bonus.”
“Why do I ever believe a word out of your mouth?”
“Because you are delightfully gullible?”
He opened a door and allowed her in first, before following. Ellie turned and leaned against a desk as he shut the door. “So what’s this about then?” she asked curiously.
“Well,” he said a bit awkwardly, “I’ve kind of been nominated to see how you’re doing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, normally Lily would do this kind of stuff,” he said, “but since she’s being a bit of a bitch at the moment, we drew lots and I lost. . . or won, depending on how you look at it.”
“Way to make a girl feel special.”
Ellie sighed. “I’m perfectly fine,” she said calmly. “I’m handling everything as best as I can and can only hope that Rosaline makes a full recovery.”
“Really?” he asked, any trace of humor gone from his voice.
“Yes,” she replied firmly. “I’m doing absolutely fine and there is no reason for further discussion on this topic.”
Sirius rolled his eyes, but said, “Ok,” before a grin crossed his face. “I know something that may cheer you up.”
“I don’t need cheering up Sirius,” she said huffily.
“Stop denying it. We all know you’ve been upset,” he said. After pausing for a moment, he added, “Except Lily. She still doesn’t know what happened.”
“How can she not know?” Ellie asked incredulously.
“James never mentioned it,” he answered. “We all knew that you were going through a tough time and didn’t want to make it worse by spreading news around before the Prophet reported it.”
Ellie blinked. “Thank you,” she said, in a touched voice. “That wasn’t necessary, but very noble of you all nonetheless.”
“We have our moments,” he said. “Now, about this cheering up idea. How would you feel about teaming up with the one and only Sirius Black to torment a poor sap known as Filch?”
“And why would we be targeting him when we could be targeting my cousin or Slytherins?”
“And people don’t understand why I adore you,” he said proudly. “We’ll be targeting Filch because, first of all, he stole something that took the four of us a very long time to create and secondly, because the Slytherins and that cousin of your’s are probably expecting us to start trouble with them because of the other night.”
“True,” Ellie said thoughtfully. “I did just suggest that after all and they have to have some kind of intelligence to stay in school.”
“My point exactly madam. We both know that it won’t be fun if they’re expecting it,” he said as he hopped onto the table beside her. “That said, we can’t not do anything. I mean, not pulling a prank on someone would make it look as if they’ve got us scared and if there is one thing a Gryffindor never is, it’s scared.”
“Not exactly true, but that’s beside the point.”
“Now, onto the plan,” he said and with a dramatic flourish he leapt up onto the desk she was leaning against. “I propose something with bright lights and paint.”
“And I’d like to propose something that won’t get us detention,” she countered.
“Again with the lack of fun,” he sighed. “What would you propose then?”
“Nothing,” she answered cheerfully. “I’m taking no part in whatever you’ve got planned for him.”
“You say that now, but you’ll change your mind eventually,” he said firmly.
“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” she answered.
It didn’t matter that she had lied to Sirius, Ellie told herself later that night. It didn’t even really count as lying. All she had done was bent the truth about how she was doing a bit. No harm in that.
Although, if Sirius had walked into her dorm that very moment, he would have been quite aware of just how much bending of the truth she had been doing.
Ellie did not like to cry. No, scratch that. She hated crying. When one of the family cats had died when she was six, her father had told her that crying wouldn’t bring the cat back or make anything better. To please her father, she had ceased any and all crying when possible.
But that was before she had accidentally stumbled across an old photo of her aunt and her making dumb faces at the camera while cleaning her trunk. The picture made her realize that there was a very good chance that she would lose her aunt and the idea of losing her aunt had snapped Ellie’s resolve. Crumpled on the bed in a sobbing mess, all she could do was curl up into a little ball and do her best to calm down.
Easier said than done.
It not only took a full hour and a box of tissues, but eventually Ellie was able to calm herself down. It took another twenty minutes before she was presentable and able to drag herself into the common room.
“Where were you?” Peter asked with a groan. “You said you’d be ready to get dinner ten minutes ago!”
“I was a bit preoccupied,” she said primly. “Sorry.”
“I’m so hungry!”
“Yes, we all know how hungry you are,” Remus snapped. Ellie was willing to bet that he was just as hungry if he was starting to lose his cool.
“Someone’s got their knickers in a twist,” Sirius mused in an almost bored tone.
“Let’s just go get some food,” James interrupted. Lily, for her part, remained silently at his side and looking anywhere but at Ellie.
The group set out and, after being delayed by a stair case that decided to move with them on it, they finally arrived at the Great Hall and took their seats at the Gryffindor table. Even a few months after her father’s arrest, Ellie’s presence could still draw the attention of half the room. She caught sight of Blake glaring at her and quickly turned away, fully intending to ask Sirius to pass her some rolls. Instead, as he was occupied with stuffing his face already, she wordlessly summoned a few to her.
“I’m so jealous that you can do that,” Peter said as soon as he swallowed a mouthful of food. “I still can’t perform any voiceless charms.”
“Maybe if you spent more time practicing and less time ogling your magazines, you’d be better at it,” she said with a shrug. Peter’s cheeks turned pink and she had a momentary feeling of guilt. “I can help you a bit after dinner if you’d like,” she offered, surprising even herself with her generosity.
“That would be brilliant,” Peter said in relief. “I’ll never pass that bloody exam next week if someone doesn’t help me.”
“Sure,” she answered, starting to regret the offer already.
“Someone’s in a good mood,” Remus said softly as he reached over her for a roll.
“I have my moments,” she answered, drawing a smile from him. For a bookworm, he wasn’t that bad.
“Any word on how your aunt is doing?” Peter asked. There was a collective sigh from the three other boys and a moment later Peter was smacking his forehead with his hand. “I’m so stupid,” he said. “Forget I said anything Ellie.”
“Consider it done,” she said calmly as she forked a piece of tomato into her mouth.
“What did he mean by that?” she heard Lily ask James quietly as the rest of the group were busy chastising Peter.
“Not my place to say,” James answered as he looked at Ellie.
“It’ll be in the Prophet shortly anyways,” Ellie said reasonably. “There’s no reason to hide it from her.”
“You sure you’re comfortable with this?”
Ellie gave Lily a long look. The red-head returned the look for a moment, before dropping her gaze. “Yeah,” she finally said. “Tell her whatever you want.”
With that, she turned her attention away from the couple and towards Sirius and Remus, who were shoving pieces of carrots into Peter’s ears and nose as punishment for blabbing. After five minutes of lecturing them both on proper dinner table etiquette, they were all sufficiently calmed and Ellie returned to her meal. As she turned around, she caught sight of Lily’s face; it was torn between an expression of shock and some other emotion Ellie couldn’t quite name. She quickly dropped her gaze to her plate and stabbed at some of the vegetables, pretending they were her cousin and uncle. She even added some steaming gravy to the mixture, since she personally felt that boiling them alive was a fair punishment for what they had done. It was at that moment that Ellie Swift vowed to break the first of her family’s two rules: she was going to break the law by killing Blake and Sal. . .
A/N: So, slightly shorter than I would have liked it to have been, but I hope you like it nonetheless. For those of you who don't make the trek to my homepage, you really should because it has an update schedule, translations for when characters speak in Italian, and some other really cool stuff. The link can be found on my author page.
- Anders -
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