Chapter 8 : Servitude
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My eyes snap open.
...Where am I?
My head feels heavy and extremely dizzy. My arms are like lead. What am I doing here? Was it all just a bad dream?
Everything is unclear and I can only hear voices—a few nearer, many from farther away.
I feel steady waves of air on my face, and everything clears to find Madame Pomfrey fanning my face gently with a thick piece of scrap parchment. My hand gravitates towards the back of my head—and a sudden pain jolts through my skull as I touch the small bump. There is a bit of smoke still floating in the air, and the air smells slightly of gunpowder.
“Are you alright, dear?” she asks.
“Apparently you passed out.”
A sudden and unwanted flash of memory goes through my mind. Oh, right.
“Are you alright?” she asks again.
Did it all really happen? No, it can't be. It doesn't even feel like that just did, for the whole situation seems so surreal to me. The candy. Flitwick. Dumbledore. Regulus. Blowing up the fifth floor corridor along with Mrs. Norris....
Oh, no. Mrs. Norris. She's dead. No—I'm dead. When Mr. Filch finds out that I killed his beloved cat, he will hang me by my toenails over a large vat of hot, boiling oil before I even get a chance to get expelled. And I am going to get expelled, right? There's not even a thought in the matter.
Perhaps I can just run while I can. Not even stop by my dormitory to get my things. I could swim across the lake or maybe steal a ride to London from Hogsmeade or hide in the basement of Gran's shop. Anything but being here sounds good.
However, I’m slightly confused as to why I’m still alive to begin with. I'm concerned. I may have gone against fate and the gods may strike me down any moment now.... I should be dead. I should be in front of a large firing squad, waiting for my thread to be cut.
“Is everything okay?”
I lift myself up reluctantly, seeing a fairly large crowd of students trying to see what the commotion is about. I sigh, realizing that I can control my thoughts again since passing out seemingly rendered me sober. “I'm fine,” I mumble, then finding myself merely inches away from McGonagall and Flitwick, I realize how much of a big lie that was.
They are absolutely livid.
...But not at me. They're turned towards a different direction. I peek through their feet to find them—James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter—all lined up in what seems like an execution line.
I have an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. No. Not this again. There I no way that I am going to be the same target of revenge once more, only perhaps ten times worse than before—and this time there's a crowd watching. Anything but this. That large vat of oil is starting to look friendly.
“No!” I cry hurriedly, rushing up towards them, “Professors, I have to explain. I—”
“No, no, Miss Parker,” says McGonagall, turning to me curtly, “These four boys have explained it all—and we have every sense to believe them.”
I feel my shoulders fall. So I was wrong. They saved me the trouble, have they? This is their final act of revenge. I'm trapped, ending up where this all started. It's a good thing that I've given up. Otherwise I would be angry, sad, I'm not too sure—maybe blame them for being a bunch of brown-nosed tattlers—but no. I kind of don't care as long as I get out of here without seriously ruining my already wounded reputation and dignity. I suppose it’s a good thing that they’ve turned me in. It saves me a lot of clearing up the whole situation and further possible acts of vengeance against me.
“They explained everything?” Flitwick and McGonagall nod and I look at my hands uncomfortably. “So I suppose I should pack my things, then.”
“Pack your things?” McGonagall repeats incredulously, “Why, whatever for?”
I snap my head up to her, lifting an inquisitive eyebrow. “To go back home?”
“And why would you need to do that?”
“Aren't I expelled?”
“We explained to her,” begins James, “What happened.” He winks at me swiftly.
Suddenly, I can hear my heart beat in my ears. No. That's not a good sign. Not a good sign at all.
No, no, no, no no.
What exactly cropped up while I was out cold? Winks are not good. Winks are the sign of suffering—especially from anybody like James Potter.
“W-what happened?” I stammer.
“You mean you don't remember?” asks Flitwick in astonishment.
“I remember. At least, I think I do.” My eyes dart back and forth from the Professors to the four. James and Sirius are looking straight and intently at me. Remus looks disgruntled. Peter is... watching a bug.
But anyways—they did something. They're planning something. Either they're helping me or—
No. They couldn't be helping me. They wouldn't be helping me. They shouldn’t be helping me. They hate me. But why on earth would they....
“What did you do?” I ask angrily, glaring straight at James and Sirius.
Apparently, the professors take me saying that a different way. Instead of myself meaning, “what did you do in order to make my life even more miserable instead of telling them the truth,” they think I really meant, “What did you do to create the destruction of the corridor to cause me to be in the state I'm in right now?”
I completely regret saying that. Double meanings should die.
“Fireworks,” Flitwick grunts crossly, which explains the smell of gunpowder in the air. He refuses to look me in the eye, “An entire box exploded. What a waste of magic....” He still seems to be mad for my insults earlier today.
Sirius shrugs with a sideways smile. “Accidents happen.”
“But, no, that's not what happened!” I exclaim. The truth needs to be known. What they've done to me, what I did to them, and Mrs. Norris. “I went on a rampage! Shooting spells everywhere, destroying everything I could find because they—”
“Professors,” James interjects, “Miss Parker is extremely delirious from that hit to the head. I think she needs further medical attention.”
“He's lying! That's not what happened. I—”
“You did absolutely nothing wrong, dear.” Professor McGonagall comes to put a firm hand on my shoulder. “There are times when humility is not necessary.”
“But I'm not being humble,” I spit, shoving off her hand. “I'm telling the truth!”
“I must say,” begins Sirius with perfect blamelessness while he blinks excessively, “That I admire your humility, Miss Parker. But the evidence is evidence. My wand backfired while Peter was carrying a box of fireworks because James and I were fooling around.” Everyone is ignorant to his superfluous emphasis on every other word, and his constant wagging of his eyebrows. Except me.
“Huh?” Peter snaps his eyes away from the bug that's been flying around once he hears his name. “Oh, er, right. Explosions everywhere.”
Why are they protecting me? Why would they lie just to go back to the position I put them in the first place? They hate me. They want revenge. Why take revenge on a person, and then do something completely selfless in one second?
“I take full responsibility,” I say with gritted teeth. “They had nothing to do with this.”
“Then how did you end up passing out?” asks Flitwick.
“It's because I killed—”
“...All of her energy from telling us off for the fireworks,” Sirius interjects, quirking a shut-up-right-now-Ivy eyebrow at me, “Doing her rightful duty as prefect. Right, Miss Parker?”
“Rightful duty as prefect?” I spit. “I—!”
“And we were quite vulgar to her—which, by the way, I am very sorry for,” adds James. He winks again.
I think I might be sick.
“Don't you see?” I exclaim to Flitwick and McGonagall. “They're playing you! They're playing you like fools!”
“I beg your pardon?” Flitwick squeaks.
“Have they ever been this polite and – and chivalrous?” I snap my finger towards mainly James and Sirius. Flitwick and McGonagall don't say anything—they’re completely speechless. “Exactly! It's all a ploy. They're plotting some big and complex way to use this against me! It's blackmail!”
“Blackmail for what, precisely?”
“For blowing everything up and murdering—”
“...Every indecent act we may do in the future,” Sirius intervenes yet again. He elbows Remus lightly, who, I have noticed, has looked extremely cross this entire time.
“She is very poetic, you see,” he mutters, rolling his eyes.
They are relentless. It's four to one. I can't win this battle. There's no proof except—
And then it hits me like a bag of angry cats. “Where's Mrs. Norris?” I say quickly before they can stop me.
“Mrs. Norris?” Flitwick asks, puzzled, “Why do you ask?”
“Where is she?”
James suddenly guffaws. “What a silly question—”
McGonagall raises his hand to quiet James before he goes on. “Most likely with Mr. Filch in his office. But why—”
I run off. Mr. Filch's office... ground floor.
I need to find him.
“Miss Parker, where are you going?” I hear McGonagall call from behind me.
I ignore her, and instead push through the crowd that's been accumulating near the stairs. I sprint down the stairs, skipping some a few times until I land on the ground floor.
“Mr. Filch!” I yell hurriedly, “Mr. Filch! MR. FILCH.”
“Dammit, child, what do you want,” Mr. Filch growls from behind his small desk once I arrive at his leaky, damp office.
“I, er—.” The state of his office sidetracks me for a moment into forgetting what I was here for. Does this man have no sense of hygiene whatsoever?
“Spit it out! Haven't got all day.”
“Where's Mrs. Norris?” I ask.
“Whatsit to yer?”
“Where is she?” I snap.
“Whatsit. To yer?”
“I want to know,” I snap impatiently, then add more calmly, “So where is she?”
Filch sits back, eying me suspiciously, his mouth turned down in a snarl. “She's right behind you.”
I feel something brush against my legs. Staring up at me are those large, knowing eyes I peered into not too long ago, those eyes that are absolutely and unquestionably alive.
No. Way. I swear I didn't see her breathing! It can't be—she was dead.
“Y-You mean,” I stammer, “She's been alright this whole time?”
“Why?” Filch narrows his eyes, leaning closer towards me over his rickety desk. “You do something to her?”
“Ivy! What are you doing here? Let's not bother the nice man, right?”
James takes me away from the door, but I won't go down that easily. I latch my hands around the door frame as he takes me by my waist, pulling with all his might.
“LET GO OF ME!” I shriek, “Mr. Filch, help!”
“Sorry, can't hear you,” he mumbles as he lifts the Daily Prophet in front of his face.
“YOU CAN'T TAKE ME ALIVE!”
“You—ergh—are needed—elsewhere!” With one hard tug, my hands loosen and he throws me over his shoulder like a large sack.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I kick and wriggle as much as I can, but my body still aches from earlier. “WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME?”
“I thought—agh, would you stop moving?—that you—would appreciate—our favor and—dammit, Ivy. For goodness' sake, would you stop wriggling around! You're heavy enough as it is!”
“I'll stop wriggling once you set me the hell down! And I'm not that heavy, you git. You're probably showcasing my arse to the entire school.”
“Don't worry, no one's around.”
“Oh, yes, that's a great comfort,” I snap, rolling my eyes. “I don't appreciate being manhandled!”
“You won't cooperate unless—argh—I do this.”
“I wouldn't have to be cooperating if you told them the bloody truth! You idiotic, mendacious, group of misfits!”
“Misfits?” James exclaims.
“Yes, misfits. Are you deaf, or maybe blind? Because it was obvious that I didn't need your help!”
“We weren't helping you,” James mumbles.
“What was that?”
“Nothing, dearest,” he chimes sarcastically, “Now stop wriggling or I'll seriously drop you.”
“Fine. I don't care. Drop me, then. Drop me off the top of several flights of stairs. Drop me off the highest fucking tower so I can die like I was supposed to! I’ve always needed a push in the right direction.”
“Okay.” And with that, James throws me off of his shoulder. But instead of hitting the hard and cold ground, I fall softly onto a large, red, overstuffed chair.
I look around. I've never seen this place before. It's so warm and inviting and....
“Where am I?”
“Gryffindor common room.”
“What?” I exclaim, “I'm going to get stabbed or mugged or something if anyone finds—”
James rolls his eyes. “You're not in a dark alley in the projects. Calm down.”
“If you haven't noticed, James Potter, Gryffindors don't take too kindly to Slytherins. If you're blind—which you probably are as previously clarified—or just plain stupid, your people don't like me—a Slytherin!” I poke my finger violently at the crest on my jumper.
“'Your people'?” James asks defensively, “What do you mean, 'your people'?”
“You! You—courageous, little lying bunch of Gryffies!”
“Oh, because Slytherins are the epitome of all that is good.”
I feel the corner of my eye begin to twitch. “This conversation is over.”
“No, wait you can't do that.” James pushes me back into the chair.
“You just agreed to this conversation being over which entails me being allowed to leave,” I hiss. “I can't just sit here!”
“Would you rather me tie you down?”
No, I wouldn't. I cross my arms. “What are we waiting for, then?”
“And why have you literally dragged me here?”
“We'll get to that. Just wait.”
I sigh, wrapping my arms around my legs. The Gryffindor common room is so different compared to Slytherin.... It's much homier here—and warm. And not a bit of green in sight besides the view of the forest from the large window.
I sigh again, only this time loudly and unnecessarily longer than normal.
This is stupid. Why am I here? Why don't I just leave?
My eyes wander towards James, who's biting his fingernails incessantly, facing directly towards me. The only sound is the ticking of a large grandfather clock, which reads it to be around three o'clock in the afternoon. How long was I out?
Sigh. Don't want to be here.
Sigh. Want to jump off roof.
Sigh. Am utterly confused.
“In the name of—would you stop sighing?” James snaps.
“Sorry,” I say bitterly and not at all honestly.
“We're here!” Sirius tumbles through the hole passageway-thingy—I wonder where this place is, exactly—with Remus and Peter slowly trailing behind.
“Great!” James claps his hands and rubs them together excitedly.
I look up at all of them dully as they circle around me. Ugh. Idiots.
“So...?” I drawl, raising an eyebrow.
James clears his throat and suddenly looks extremely business-like. “In case you don't remember,” he begins, pacing slowly.
I roll my eyes. “Yes, because I've been in a coma these past few days,” I snap sarcastically, “Of course I remember.”
He clears his throat again and glares at me.
“Oh, I apologize. Please continue.”
“In case you don’t remember,” he repeats, “We have just done an extremely generous and selfless deed for you, Ivy Parker. And it was a great favor indeed.”
“And with favors, comes a time when the favored pays the favorer back,” Sirius adds.
“I'm not sure you used that term correctly—”
“Basically you have to pay us back. You have no choice.”
“Hah!” I snort, “I didn't ask for your favor. I don't think you could even call it a favor if I didn't even ask for it.”
“We did a lot more than you think.”
I roll my eyes again. “What, you miraculously brought Mrs. Norris back to life going against all laws of magic and nature?”
They all look at each other with smirks on their faces.
I stare at them for a while and then it dawns on me. No. It can’t be. That’s… impossible. “What did you do?”
“Well,” James begins happily, “Remus here was absolutely brilliant and found—”
“You found another Mrs. Norris?” I cry, “How the hell can you find another Mrs. Norris? What, the one I saw was her distant cousin?”
“No, let me finish. Once we disposed of the body—”
“Disposed of the body?” I repeat incredulously, “What did you do?”
“Minor details,” Remus mumbles, rocking on the balls of his feet.
“Let me finish,” James growls, “So we found a cat—not a word, Ivy—and put a charm on the cat so that everyone will believe that cat is the same exact Mrs. Norris, thanks to the wonderful skills of Remus Lupin here. We also put an extra precaution by hexing Filch into believing any cat is Mrs. Norris, just in case that one happens to run away. Which it shouldn’t.” He pats a hearty hand to Remus' shoulder, and he merely quirks his lips sideways in a sort of smile. As look up at Remus' disgruntled face, I immediately remember when I thought I killed him. ...Poor thing. There are numerous scratches on his cheeks and arms, causing me wonder what he had to go through just to catch that cat....
“What do you want me to do?” I ask warily with a raised eyebrow, still eying Remus’ wounds.
Sirius gives a tilted smirk. “Pay us a minor fee of twelve thousand galleons.”
My mouth can't seem to form the words. I have never made that much in my life—combined. I don’t think I’ll be able to make that much at all in my years to come in the direction I’m going. “Twelve thou—Twelve thousand galleons? This is a robbery, not a favor in return! You have every knowledge in those overinflated heads of yours that I don't have that kind of money. Are you mental?”
“There is something else you can do,” James suggests.
“Wait—who said I was going to do anything for you?” I sneer, “I never asked for your services in the first place! Oh, great. So you cover my arse without me even wanting you to, and you expect me to pay a ridiculous amount for something I didn't ask for. What are you going to do—tell them that it was me who did it? Because last time I checked, you erased all evidence that I really did. You don't have anything against me!”
James laughs darkly, shaking his head. “That's where you're wrong.”
“What, find something to ruin my reputation? Oh, wait. I didn't have one to begin with.”
He snaps his fingers. “Sirius, get the letter.” Sirius then produces a folded up piece of parchment that immediately wafts a strong smell of roses and musk which makes me a little dizzy.
“What is that?” I say suspiciously.
“Hm,” Sirius hums with a grin, “Just a little piece of interest—for a certain someone who is a person of interest—for you, at least.”
My face falls. “What is that? And what are you talking about?”
He laughs darkly. “Oh, just a little love letter you wrote to my dearest brother.”
I try to snap the letter out of his hands, but he merely holds up his arm as high as possible. Tall git. “You can't do anything with that,” I growl, jumping slightly, “I didn't write it, and you have nothing to prove that I did!” I try to snatch it from his hands, but Sirius snaps the letter behind his back with a playful smile stretched across his face.
“What does it say?”
“Go ahead, Sirius, read it,” James rejoices excitedly.
Sirius steps up onto a chair so that my futile attempts to getting any possession of it are impossible. He clears his throat and begins theatrically.
“My dearest and wonderful Regulus Black—for many a day have I longed for you. Your soft, enchanting hair that flows like a smooth river in the summer and your deep, captivating eyes that are silver little gems have won over my heart the moment I set my eyes upon you. Oh! How my soul aches for your tender, loving lips to touch mine, and for your arms to wrap around me in a warm embrace.”
“What?” I exclaim. I feel my face redden, pushing away the [partial] fact that all of that is [partially] true.
No, actually, it's not true at all! In reality, I've sworn off all types of the male species which include the extremely attractive, those extremely adorable, and all of those who specifically are related to or are similar in appearance of Sirius Black, along with the aforementioned male. Regulus just so happens to fall underneath all the aforementioned categories.
Sirius continues only with more passion. It's a wonder he's not fazed by this.
“My love for you burns—it burns bright, and it burns deep and painfully, my dear Regulus, for I am woefully not yours. This heart that beats so wildly at the sight of you belongs to you alone. For if I should never be yours, I see no point in the very likelihood of living. This world is cruel, and we being apart would be more devastating to me than the world coming to an end. I love you. I love you more than the birds love the sky, more than the fish love the sea, more than Severus Snape’s hair loves grease. You are the air I breathe. You are everything I have ever wanted in this lonely, pathetic world I exist in. Oh, my dear, wonderful, beautiful, handsome Regulus. Will it that one day (preferably after you read this) I will be yours forevermore? XOXO Ivy Parker.”
They all clap at his dramatic performance, and Sirius bows pompously with a graceful twirling of his hand.
I think I'm going to be sick. That is so wrong on so many levels. I'm screwed if Regulus even reads the first sentence of that—not that he’d be surprised, but still.
“And look, we replaced the o's in the XOXO part with little hearts! Isn't that clever?” James says proudly.
“T-that doesn't even sound like me!”
“Does it, now? You know, love does strange things to people's language.”
“This is blackmail. Utter and complete blackmail! You can't do that.”
Sirius smirks. “Oh, but we can.”
“It's probably not even in my handwriting.” Ha! They have nothing against me.
“Wouldn't get too excited over that yet.” He flashes the letter down to me, and everything—every curl, loop, and the awkward way I tilt my e's, is copied down in every word.
I try to snatch it from him, but he snaps the letter away from me. “How did you—? You can't prove that I did that!”
“Oh, we have ways, Miss Parker. We have ways.”
“I don't care,” I spit, “He won't believe you.”
“If I recollect accurately,” James chimes, “I do believe that you said yourself that you would do… anything?”
“A-at the time, yes,” I stammer, “But things change. Stuff happens. I didn’t intend for anything like this. I—!” I pause, painfully recollecting the melodrama in which I was begging them to spare me. “I didn’t mean it like that.”’
They stare at me as if I’m stupid.
“Oh, I see,” I drawl, “I didn’t want to go down this road, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to do it.” I take in a deep breath and anchor my hands on my hips in the most authoritative pose I can do. “I think you’ve forgotten that I’m a prefect and I have every power within me to give you all detentions in a second for blackmail, carrying me off against my will, threatening to tie me up, and for those cigarettes I see you have in your pocket—because I’m doing my duty as prefect.” I jab a finger at my badge.
…and it just so happens to not be there. Great.
“Oh, no. Spare us,” Sirius drones as he holds up his hands and wiggles his fingers dully. Remus snorts, turning his face to the side, and I notice the glint of a prefects' badge on his robes. Oh.
Did I just make a complete fool of myself? I think I did.
There’s an awkward silence and the grandfather clock chimes at half the hour.
Yep. A complete fool.
“A promise is a promise,” James continues.
I cross my arms. “Then that’s a promise I must break.”
“Well, if you have no problem with all of this, we might as well give it to him now.” Sirius jumps down and heads towards the door.
“I thought you didn't care,” James taunts, “Since all of that isn’t true, right?’
My chest is heaving and my head feels as if it's going to explode. Of all things—seriously, of all things—why did they have to put that against me? There's no way Regulus would believe that sort of rubbish. He knows me better than that!
...Or does he? We're not exactly best friends that talk to each other every day.
Well, then again, I did just confess my [partial] love for him not too long ago. Not only is that disturbing, but the thought of them writing that entire letter within a few hours is absolutely bizarre. How did they come up with that sort of thing? And how the hell did they copy my handwriting? Don't tell me they stole one of my papers....
I can't have them giving that to Regulus. No matter how I may try to convince him that I didn't write the letter, there's no way he'll believe me. I told him I love him. A love letter right after a [partial] confession wouldn't be very surprising, to say the least. He wasn’t supposed to know any of that in the first place.
I take in a deep breath, preparing for the worst. “What do you want me to do?”
A grin stretches across Sirius' lips. “Be our work dog for six months.”
“What?” No. I can't do that. That's practically suicide. A shiver runs down my spine. There's no way that I'm going to have to trail around them all the time, doing whatever they ask me to for six months. And yet—that letter. Normally it wouldn't bother me, but under these circumstances, I'm sure things would get even worse if I refuse them. Regulus is probably fretting about everything as I speak. If that loudly yelled blurt of a confession deemed him speechless, I can’t imagine what the letter would do to him. I'm afraid. Afraid I'm going to have to do this and afraid that I have no choice.’
I look up at them, and they immediately know what's going on in my head.
“It won't be too hard,” says James, waving his hand around airily, “Simple chores here, a few easy errands there.... Nothing big.” He grins, which tells me that it will hardly be “simple” or “easy”, but that it will be extremely difficult and ridiculous.
I sigh, rubbing my forehead with my fingers. “O-okay,” I mumble, “I'll do it.”
“Great. You start Monday.”
(A/N): Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh finally. I really didn't intend for this chapter to be this long but I guess that's how it turned out :B Honestly, right now, I should be reading the rest of my summer reading books (School starts in a few days! Ack!!) but I rush this submit to you all. Funny how just around a year ago the dread of a new school year inspired me to start this. Never realized I would get this far! So I went to HP: The Exhibition the other day. It was so inspiring that I wrote a ton more :D I got sorted into Slytherinnn hehe
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