There were few things as amusing to the sixth year Gryffindors as watching a bunch of fifth years slowly begin to lose control of their senses thanks to their upcoming O.W.L.S. Ellie would have rated it almost as entertaining as listening to Peter sing a drunken version of “Drunken Sailor” at three in the morning. Almost, being the key word.
“Were we this mad last year?” James asked as a fifth year girl burst into hysterical tears at the Ravenclaw table. The boy beside her was muttering something under his breath and a Hufflepuff boy was simply staring at the rafters blankly.
“Not us,” Sirius said with a shrug. “Then again, we don’t really need to study for anything. . . except for Pete that is.”
“Yeah, but the only exam you scored higher than me was Defense,” Peter muttered under his breath.
“The one test you should have gotten an O on,” Remus said, shaking his head. “I really wonder about you sometimes Wormtail.”
“Shut your pie hole Moony.”
“Give me some pie and I will.”
Ellie rolled her eyes and shoved a forkful of eggs into her mouth. “Don’t act like you don’t love us Swift,” James said a second after he had chomped down on two pieces of bacon so he would look like a walrus.
“I don’t need to pretend,” she said dryly.
“Lies!” James proclaimed as Sirius nodded in agreement.
“Can you please act your age James?” Lily asked with a sigh. “People are staring.”
“Am I embarrassing you?” he asked as he turned his head from side to side.
“I believe you are Prongs,” Sirius answered as he mimicked him.
“Well how can I rectify the situation?” he asked with a ridiculous accent.
“Take her dancing?”
“Perfect!” James leapt to his feet and pulled Lily up with him. Before she could stop him, he began to waltz in the aisle between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables.
“Will you knock it off James?!” Lily screeched as several people at the Gryffindor table began to chuckle. He ignored her completely and continued to waltz.
Ellie placed a hand over her mouth as she attempted to hide her grin. Lily’s face was tomato red and she looked as if she were about to start swearing like a sailor. Her shrieks, however, were blocked out as owls began swooping down from the rafters. Like every other morning, an owl landed directly in front of Remus and extended its leg. Peter threw some gold into its pouch as Remus removed the paper from its other leg. The owl hooted once and took off once more.
James and a still fuming Lily rejoined them at the table as Remus gave a rundown of the various happenings around the country. In addition to the disappearance of a man from Wales, inferi had been spotted in southern Scotland and a giant attack had left three dead in Kent. It wasn’t until Remus had reached the last item that his voice faltered for a moment and he looked towards Ellie.
“What?” she asked immediately. “What’s wrong?”
“Your dad,” Remus said. “He’s cutting a plea bargain.”
“What?” she and Lily said at the same time.
“Give me that!” Ellie demanded as she snatched the paper from his hands. She scanned through the paper, panic rising into her chest. “This isn’t good. This is really not good,” she said in a panicked tone.
“Calm down,” Sirius said.
“Calm down? I can’t calm down!” she practically shrieked. Luckily, most of the Great Hall thought it was just another fifth year having a meltdown and ignored her. She took a deep breath and forced herself to be quieter as she said, “He’s putting my entire family in danger.”
“And there is nothing that you can do about it at the present moment,” James said solemnly. “I’m sure your mother knows about this and is taking proper precautions to protect them.”
“But what about Rosaline?” she asked, nearly in tears. “Who’s going to protect her?”
“St. Mungo’s has defenses in place already,” Remus reminded her. “It’s highly unlikely that anyone will be able to get at her while she’s in there.”
“Rosaline’s in the infirmary?”
Everyone turned to look at Lily. “Yeah,” James said a bit awkwardly. “She’s been there for the past week.”
“And you all knew and didn’t tell me?” she asked, a hurt look crossing her face.
“Well, yeah,” James answered again. “We weren’t sure who Ellie would want to know and we didn’t want to bother her so. . .” He trailed off awkwardly.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me,” Lily said to James in a hurt voice.
“It wasn’t my place,” he replied with a shrug. “I’m really sorry Lils, but I’m not going to tell someone else’s secret.”
“It’s not exactly a secret anymore,” Ellie said quietly. She turned the last page of the first section towards him, so he could see the article concerning her aunt’s attack.
“Maybe now people will stop thinking you’re a Death Eater?” Peter asked hopefully.
“Or they’ll think I was the one who attacked my aunt,” Ellie said with a sigh. “With my luck it’ll be the latter.”
“Do you always have to be so pessimistic?” Sirius asked.
“Yes actually,” she answered. He merely rolled his eyes in return. . .
By the time Defense Against the Dark Arts was due to start, Ellie had sworn at a group of Third Years, threatened to turn one Ravenclaw’s hair purple, and had succeeded in making two First Years cry. All in all, it had been a productive morning even by her standards.
“You really need to be nicer to people,” Remus lectured as they walked into the classroom and set their belongings down.
“Is it my fault that they decided to sing a song about me trying to kill muggle-borns every time I walk by?” she countered.
“Settle down,” Professor Wallace said as he swept into the classroom. “Settle down folks!”
The classroom gradually fell silent as he made his way to his desk. He swept his wand towards the board, flipping it over to reveal the other side. “Today we will begin our unit on Patronuses,” he said in a clear voice. “A Patronus is produced by the Patronus Charm.” Ellie sat a bit straighter at that and felt a tiny grin cross her face. Maybe this was the one time she wouldn’t look like a fool in class. “The incantation for the Charm is Expecto Patronum. Now, it is very important that you remember to keep a happy memory in mind while you cast the spell. Otherwise, you will fail to produce a Patronus. Can anyone tell me why that is?” Ellie’s hand shot into the air. “Yes Ms. Swift,” Wallace said with surprise.
“The Patronus Charm is used against Dementors,” she said in a clear voice. “The Patronus Charm is an embodiment of the good memories that the caster has and since Dementors feed off the bad memories they are unable to take being near a Patronus.”
“Excellent Ms. Swift. Five points to Gryffindor.” Ellie lowered her hand with a small grin. The grin left her face as she noticed a disappointed looking Lily nearby. “A Patronus takes on an animal shape, one that represents our deepest nature. What that means is that, much like a wand, the Witch or Wizard has no control over which Patronus they get.
“Now, I could make you take notes all day on the theory behind the actual spell, but that would be boring,” Wallace said, bringing her attention back to him. He was sitting in a chair with his feet on his desk. “I feel with this particular spell, that it would be best to have you try it hands on. If everyone would please move to the middle of the room.” The class rose to their feet and followed his directions. Wallace waved his wand and pushed the desks against the walls. “Everyone find a spot please,” he said, practically bouncing on the balls of his feet. “Quickly now.”
Ellie moved to a spot near Peter, then thought better of it and moved to the other side of the room. Thankfully, Peter didn’t notice, but Sirius had and he shook his head mockingly at her. “This particular charm is difficult to master, so don’t get discouraged if you have trouble with it,” Wallace said as he stood before them. “Remember to speak clearly and to flick your wand as such,” he said as he demonstrated. A silvery butterfly emerged from the tip of his wand and flew once around the room before it faded away. “You may begin now,” he said.
Ellie removed her wand from her pocket and thought of a memory. She pictured herself walking into the Great Hall for the very first time and the rush of emotion that had engulfed her at that moment. She flicked her wand and said, “Expecto Patronum!”
A silver mist emitted from the tip of her wand, but nothing else happened. She looked around in disappointment, only to find that the rest of the class was getting the same results. She tried again and again for nearly half an hour, but still had no better results. “Remember, the memory has to be particularly strong,” Wallace said as he moved amongst the students. “Think of the happiest you have ever been in your entire life.”
Ellie closed her eyes and tried again. Another twenty minutes passed, during which Severus Snape managed to produce a flimsy silver shield of sorts. She ignored the frustration of those around her as Wallace commended Snape and closed her eyes again. This time, she searched deeper within her mind. She spent a few minutes this way, until she finally came across a memory she felt might do the trick. She held it in her mind and flicked her wand as she said, “Expecto Patronum!”
There was a sudden rush of power that she felt sweep through her body as she held the memory in her mind. A silver shape began to form from the tip of her wand and after a few seconds of struggling, it burst to life as it circled around the room. Ellie watched with wide eyes as her Patronus stampeded towards Peter, who shrieked and ducked as it wheeled around and headed back towards her. It came to a halt before her and she tentatively reached a hand out to touch the Bull Patronus, but it disappeared a moment later.
“Excellent Ms. Swift!” Wallace roared from across the room. “Excellent work!”
Ellie bowed her head and tried not to smile. Lily was watching her with a look she could only identify as astonishment. She was probably debating at that very moment how it was that Ellie was able to produce a corporeal Patronus before her.
The end of class came soon after and Ellie left the room with heightened spirits, partly because of Wallace’s continued exclamations of praise in her direction. . .
Following a delightful demonstrative duel between Professors Wallace and Flitwick during the last Dueling Club before Easter holidays, Ellie found herself sitting before the fire in the common room with the rest of the sixth year Gryffindors.
“Do you think a narcoleptic would make a good serial killer?” James mused. Ellie slapped her forehead.
“Probably not Prongs,” Peter said without missing a beat. “I mean, what if they fell asleep in the middle of it?”
“If they were in a secluded enough area than that wouldn’t be a problem,” Sirius said a bit too thoughtfully for Ellie’s liking. “They’d have all the time they’d need then.”
“Yes, but what if they fell into the evidence or left traces of magic at the scene?” James asked.
The three boys fell silent, before Peter asked, “Are we really talking about this?”
Remus shook his head and muttered something that sounded like, “highly unethical” and “bumbling buffoons,” before he disappeared behind yet another book.
“It’s so sad,” James said, leaning towards Ellie. “Remus has a horrible addiction problem.”
“I know,” she replied just as somberly. “I’ve heard it’s so bad that he has to read in bed too.”
“Can no one save poor Remus?” James asked with a sigh.
Sirius grinned evilly and snatched the book from Remus’ hands. “Give it back Padfoot!”
“How can you read this?” Sirius asked curiously as he turned the book upside down. “There aren’t even pictures of naked girls in this book.”
“Some of us need a little more intellectual stimulation,” Remus said as he struggled to grab the book. “You’re going to make me lose my place!”
“Good. It’s about time you rejoined the real world!”
The pair struggled, eliciting a sigh from Lily. “How old are they?” she asked Ellie. She merely blinked in return and awkwardly looked back to the struggling boys. By that point, Peter and James were taking bets from a small crowd of onlookers over who would be more likely to win.
Ellie moved away from the crowd and quickly made her way up to the dormitory. Why on earth had Lily spoken to her? She shook her head and lay down on her bed with a sigh. A moment later, the door to the room opened and Lily slipped in. Ellie could faintly hear the cheers of the crowd before the door shut.
“What do you want Lily?” Ellie asked with a sigh as she sat back against her pillows. Lily didn’t answer, but merely looked towards her feet. Ellie felt a rush of anger well up in her chest as she asked, “Come to blame me for more things that aren’t my fault or are you just going to be content with insulting what family I have left?”
“I didn’t come for either of those things,” Lily said hesitantly as she remained by the door. “I just - - I wanted - -,” she breathed out violently and ran a hand through her fiery hair. “Are you alright?” she finally asked.
Ellie gave her a hard look. “Peachy,” she replied sarcastically.
“I’m not joking.”
“And neither am I,” Ellie snapped viciously. “You treated me like complete shit for things I had no part in and now you want to be all buddy buddy again?”
“I didn’t say that,” Lily snapped back in a pained voice. “I wanted to make sure you were alright. I know you and Rosaline are close.”
“I’m surprised you even know that much about me, considering you thought I wanted you dead a few months ago,” Ellie spat out.
“I was scared for my family!”
“Who isn’t these days?”
“I would have died if you father hadn’t been turned in!”
“And I would still have my family if I hadn’t informed the authorities!” Ellie shrieked. Lily fell silent and looked away. “If it weren’t for my sacrifice you and your entire family would all be dead and buried right now!”
“I know that!” Lily shot back. “I’m not here to argue with you Ellie.”
“Then what the hell do you want?”
“To apologize.” Silence fell between the two girls. Ellie merely stared at Lily as the red head looked awkwardly around the room. “I was wrong for saying and treating you the way that I did. It was inexcusable.” A second silence, more awkward than the prior one, fell over the two girls. “Say something?” Lily asked as she bit her lower lip.
“What do you want me to say?” Ellie asked. “You want me to forgive you? You want me to just forget the fact that you completely abandoned me for the past few months?”
“I’m sorry about all that Ellie,” Lily said emotionally. “I was just so scared and confused about everything. I didn’t know what to do or who to trust!”
“You should have trusted me,” Ellie said icily. “You should have trusted that I would never do anything that would put you or your family into danger.”
Lily whipped her face away as if she had been lashed. “I know,” she said softly. “I should have trusted you. I should have believed you.”
“But you didn’t,” Ellie continued viciously. “You didn’t do either of those things. Do you know what people have been saying about me because of all this?” Lily remained still and silent. “They’ve been calling me a traitor. They’ve called me a Death Eater, a whore, and a murderer. The fact that you didn’t trust me and come to stand by me though, that hurts more than anything the rest of the school has been saying.”
“I know,” Lily said faintly. “I know that you’re hurt, but I’m trying to make it better!”
“I don’t think you can.”
Lily stared at her in silence for a few moments. “What?” she asked incredulously.
“I said,” Ellie began, speaking slowly, “that I don’t think you can make it better.”
“But I trust you,” Lily said quickly. “I know now that you would never let anything happen to me or my family!”
“But I can’t trust you.” Lily fell silent once more as she stared blankly at Ellie. “How am I supposed to trust you when you believed I was capable of letting you be killed?” Ellie asked simply.
Lily had no answer.
“I think it would be for the best if we let one another alone from now on,” Ellie continued after a few moments. “I’ll be civil to you if you’re civil to me, but that’s the extent of our acquaintance.”
Lily merely stood there, not sure of how to react. Ellie stood from the bed and moved towards the door. Her hand was on the handle when Lily said, “Ellie, please wait. I promise I can make things better!”
Ellie looked at her over her shoulder. The red head looked stricken and had tears in her eyes, but there was an expression of strength that overrode all that. Ellie shook her head slightly, before she opened the door and walked out. . .
“She said she was sorry.”
“And she said that she wanted to make things better.”
“I know that as well.”
“Then why didn’t you forgive her?”
Ellie sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose with her fingers. The evening air was cold and bitter, but she had needed to escape and Remus had been more than happy to go for a walk around the grounds with her after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Sirius Black.
“I can’t forgive her that easily,” Ellie said. “She helped to make my life miserable the past few months. That’s not something that I can forget easily.”
“But she’s sorry for what she did,” Remus pointed out as they walked near the edge of the forest.
“And I’m sorry for what my father did,” Ellie answered. “Being sorry doesn’t fix anything.”
“But it does show that she misses you.”
Ellie fell silent for a moment, before she shook her head. “It doesn’t make a difference,” she said bitterly. “It doesn’t change the fact that she thought I was capable of betraying my best friend. How do I know she won’t abandon me when I need her again?”
Remus didn’t have an answer, so he remained silent as they walked. Ellie looked towards the forest with curiosity, which was quickly replaced with a tinge of fear as she heard a wolf cry from its depths.
“Don’t worry about the forest,” Remus said as he nudged her shoulder. “It’s not all that scary.”
Ellie opened her mouth to ask how he would know, but shut it just as quickly. She had a feeling she wouldn’t like the answer he would give her.
“Do you think you can ever forgive her?” Remus asked after a few minutes.
“I’m not sure,” Ellie answered. “I know that she’s sorry and she wants to be friends again, but there are some things that are very difficult for me to forgive.”
“Yes, yes,” Remus said with a small grin. “I remember you saying, ‘Once lost my trust can be very difficult to regain.’”
“Well, it’s true,” Ellie said primly.
“You have trust issues.”
“How on earth did you ever wind up trust the four of us then?”
“I really had no choice in the matter,” Ellie answered, a grin of her own beginning to form. “It was either trust you four or attempt to make my way through the rest of the year alone.”
“I would have gone with the second option,” Remus chuckled. “You’d be less likely to get detention that way.”
“Yes, well, you didn’t exactly make it easy,” she joked. “I mean, you were all so welcoming and nice.”
“Sorry about that,” Remus said with a faint blush. “I probably could have been friendlier to you.”
“Looks like I’m not the only one with trust issues,” she teased.
“Yeah,” he replied with a sigh as he looked towards the sky.
Ellie followed his gaze. “Half-moon tonight,” she said. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
“I prefer the sun,” he answered quickly. “My nose is freezing. Let’s head back to the castle.”
They made their way silently, making it back to the castle a few minutes before McGonagall was due to lock the doors. Carefully, they made their way through the castle and back to the common room, where they collapsed before the fire.
“It’s so warm,” Ellie said as she shivered.
“Warm,” Remus repeated as his teeth chattered.
“I told you two not to go outside,” Peter said as he shook his head. “I told you you would catch your deaths.”
“Yes mum,” Remus said mockingly.
“Not dead yet,” Ellie said stubbornly. Peter merely rolled his eyes and wrapped some spare blankets around them. . .
Ellie awoke several hours later. Three thoughts registered in her mind: The first was that she was quite comfortable. The second was that someone had moved her to the couch. The third, which took the longest for her to process, was that the person who had moved her was still on the couch with her.
She yawned and sat up, stretching her arms over her head. “What time is it Remus?” she asked.
“Nearly midnight,” answered a voice. It wasn’t Remus’.
She turned her head and scowled. “What are you doing Gibbons?” she asked disdainfully.
“Napping?” he asked with a yawn.
“When did you get here?”
“About nine or so.”
“No clue,” Ben answered.
“What did you do to him?” she demanded.
“Nothing,” he replied with a frown. “He said something about James and Sirius needing him, so I offered to stay with you until you woke up.”
She narrowed her eyes as she watched him. “Did you touch me?” she asked.
“No,” he replied, quickly adding, “not that I didn’t consider it.” He sat up next to her and stretched his arms with a yawn. He rolled his eyes as he caught sight of her expression. “Would I lie to you about that?”
She considered it for a moment. “Possibly.”
“Ye of no faith,” he muttered as he ran a hand through his hair. “Can’t you just be thankful that I was moderately respectful and didn’t want you waking up confused?”
“Ask me in the morning,” she said. She remained seated for a few moments, staring at the dying embers in the fireplace as Ben muttered something. It had been nice, albeit creepy, of him to stay with her.
“Did Remus mention where he was going?” she asked.
“No,” Ben replied tiredly.
Silence fell again. Ellie found herself in a rather confused state of mind as she looked at Ben out of the corner of her eye. Not only had he been kind enough to help Remus out, but she was fairly sure that he hadn’t done anything inappropriate while she had been asleep. Sirius might have, but it just wasn’t in Ben’s character to be that immature. So why had she felt like killing him when she awoke to find him besides her?
She wasn’t entirely sure.
Ellie was a rational and logical creature. If there was a problem presented to her, she solved it. If not answer could be found, she worked at it until one appeared. She didn’t like being confused and she most certainly did not like having no answers to questions that were presented.
“What you thinking?” Ben asked with a goofy grin.
She stared at him for several long moments. She stared at the tiny freckles that were sprinkled across his nose and cheeks, at the slightly crooked teeth, and the bump in his nose from when a bludger had broken it. But mostly she stared at his eyes, his round blue eyes.
“What are you doing?” he asked with amusement.
“Just looking,” she replied thoughtfully. “My grandmother Monticello once told me that the eyes are the windows to the soul. If you want to know something about someone, you need only look to their eyes to find the answer.”
“And what do you see in my eyes?” he asked as he made a silly face. “Anything good?”
She stared a moment longer, before grinning and shaking her head. “Nothing at all,” she joked. “I’m not surprised. I always said you weren’t much of a thinker.”
“Such lies,” he said with a smirk. He stared at her with a grin for a moment. “What are you thinking now?” he asked, a bit more seriously.
“About you,” she said, surprising even herself at the honesty of her answer.
“Really?” he asked, still amused. He took her hand in his own and looked down at them. “And what do you think about me exactly?”
Ellie stared down at their entwined hands, swallowing over a lump in her throat. “That I miss you,” she finally said. She looked back up to his face. He was still staring at her, a look that she couldn’t describe on his face.
“I miss you too,” he said in a heavy voice. “I miss you a lot.” Ellie nodded. It had been impossible to miss that fact over the past year. “Do you think you’ll ever be ready?”
This was more difficult for her to answer. So many things had happened between them and so many things had happened since she had ended things with him. Eventually, she opened her mouth and said, “Yes. I do.”
She stole a look at his face, feeling her cheeks blush as she saw the ecstatic smile he was wearing. “When?”
“I’ll let you know after Easter holidays,” she said. “I need to tell you some things, but not until after the holidays.”
“Promise?” he asked.
“I promise,” she replied, kissing his hand gently. . .
A/N: Hope you all enjoyed this chapter. Look for Chapter 18 next weekend. Things are about to get very interesting!
Thanks for reading!
- Anders -
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