I sat on my bed, my eyes roaming over the familiar words for the fifth time that day. How had this book gotten here? I had spent weeks searching for my Deathly Hallows book, hoping that maybe that was the key to getting my back. But the curse changed that theory.
Then talking to Regulus had shed light on what could possibly end this curse and send me back home. And now this.
An anonymous donor. Of a Harry Potter book. Where it shouldn't even exist.
At first, I had thought that maybe, much like Dumbledore had done for Hermione, the sender had included hidden clues in this copy because he or she couldn't risk telling me who they were. But I had found no such evidence.
The book was, sadly, very normal. And normal was not a word I liked to associate with a Harry Potter book.
“What are you not telling me?” I whispered running a finger over the pages.
Or better yet, what was it trying to tell me? There were no answers in this book. Nor were there any clues to finding the others, so then why was it sent?
Ugh...it was like a vicious circle. I was asking myself the same questions over and over again: who had sent it? Why had they sent it? What was it trying to tell me? If it was trying to tell me anything at all.
I closed my eyes trying to fight off the oncoming headache. Madam Pomfrey had promised me that they would stop withing a week, but no such luck. They were getting worse, and she couldn't explain why they were still occurring.
I pounded my fist against my temple. Maybe it was all the thinking I was doing.
Maybe I just needed fresh air.
I looked out the window at the moonlit grounds. The full moon wasn't for two more nights, but the bright waxing moon's light reflected sharply on the lake.
Fresh air sounded really good. Everyone was still at dinner and wouldn't be back for a while, so they wouldn't miss me. I reached under my bed and pulled out my broom. I carefully pocketed the book inside my robes.
“Alohamora,” I pointed my wand at the window making it open with a popping sound.
Soon I was soaring over the castle and the grounds. I was windy and a thunderstorm wasn't far off, but it didn't bother me. All I can say is whoever invented the Warming charm was a true genius.
I shot up straight into the night sky and gave a shout of laughter. This was the first time I had ridden a broom, my broom, for myself, and it felt great. It was like being a bird, free, light and without any sort of worry or burden. Once I had risen higher than the Astronomy tower, I turned sharply one eighty degrees and plunged in a dive directly headed for the ground.
It was thrilling and frightening and sent a jolt of adrenaline through my system making me feel invincible. I looked determinedly at the cold hard ground, and I knew that if I crashed, it would hurt. Like hell. And that would not be fun.
When I was only eight feel away form the ground I pulled back on the handle ending my exhilarating dive rather abruptly. I was horizontal to the ground once more and I let go of breath, unaware that I had been holding it in the first place. My heart beat rapidly, and my chest heaved as I panted trying to regain my sense of gravity once more. Kind of hard to do when you're on a broom, but I did the best I could.
Wow... that was amazing. Like bungee jumping, cliff diving and roller coasting all rolled into one...without the protection of course.
Phew! I think I just had a broomgasm. No, it is not my creation. It was something James Potter usually refered to when practice ha gone exceptionally well. I just use it because I think it is a hilarious word.
Broomgasm. Ha! You gotta love James.
I slowly guided my broom toward the Quidditch pitch, this time enjoying the scenery rather than the speed that came with flying.
Everything looked different at night, adding a certain mysteriousness to the entire castle and it's grounds. The large towers of the castle looked majestic silhouetted against the almost full moon. Light glinted off of windows and the large hoops looked like large lollipops if you looked at them at just the right angle. The Whomping Willow looked so quite and serene; like it couldn't hurt a fly.
Oh wait, a bird just flew into it. Ah well...bye bye birdy.
I turned away sighing sadly at the fate of the bird. How quickly and easily it had died. Really, it was something to marvel at. The tenacious hold we have on life, is so precious. But very few ever realize it time.
A soft breeze licked my face. I breathed deeply trying to rid these thoughts from my head.
I slowly spread my arms widely, embracing the wind. It was so light, but I could still smell the delicious scent of wet soil across the valley.
Take the seventh year Gryffindors for example. They're all laughing and chatting about their classes and schoolwork and who was going out with whom. But none of them realized how fragile...how temporary all of this was for them. And there was nothing I could do to change any of it.
Or maybe...I could. I could save them. I knew how to end this war, and where the Horcruxes were. And none of them would have to die. Consequently, this would mean that there would be no Harry Potter with a scar, but that wasn't important. This wasn't just a children fantasy book anymore. All these people, and their lives, was all very much real. I had the information to end this.
Suddenly, the wind picked up speed and my broom jolted.
The stars were being blotted out by dark clouds.
Uh-oh. Time to head back, and race against the morbid looking clouds. I flew back to the castle, urging my broom to go faster.
I crash landed forcefully on the stone floor of the Astronomy tower just as the first few raindrops hit and collapsed against a pillar trying to regain my balance.
Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one who had found sanctuary in the Astronomy tower. At my loud entrance, two pairs of startled eyes stared at me. In the dim light I could faintly make out Lily and Snape.
“Uh...sorry,” I said rubbing my neck awkwardly.
Lily looked from me to Snape, “Severus, please.”
The familiar words sent a chill down my spine. She said it in the same helpless tone I had always imagined Dumbledore to have twenty years from now. But Snape wasn't a good guy-not yet.
Snape looked at her with a forced severity, but I saw the affection lurking just beneath it.
“Goodbye Lily,” he turned on his heel and strode out the tower with his robes fanning behind him.
Lily blinked, collapsing against the railing for support; she looked like she was about to break. Maybe on the inside, she already was.
I rushed forward to help her stand up straight. “Lily!” I cried.
What had he done? What had he said to upset her so?
She stared blankly at me. I don't think she even saw me.
“I've lost him,” she whispered. “He's- he's gone over for good.”
“That's not true,” I shook my head firmly.
“ And nothing will bring him back,” she went on as if I hadn't spoken.
“Lily, look at me, Lily,” I forced her chin upwards so I was looking in her bright green eyes.
Usually they were full of joy and mirth and light, but now they looked as dim as the tower we were sitting in.
“What happened Lily?” I asked her.
“W-we were talking and I...” she trailed off.
“Lily,” I put a hand on her shoulder consolingly. “It's okay, it will be better, trust me.”
“He had the mark, I saw it. He's one of them now,” her face was pale as marble.
I was at a loss at how to react. On one hand I wanted to tell her that not all was lost for Snape, that he would come back to the good side, and another part of me thought this was best: If he said good bye first, he couldn't claim Lily had hurt him.
And she could move on, for good. Because somewhere, deep down I had seen that Lily loved Snape. Or, she loved the person she knew as a child, and the thought of letting that childhood Severus go tore her apart.
“I know,” I settled for the only response I could think of.
“It hurts- it hurts to think about our friendship and realize what he's become since then. And knowing that I can't do anything to change it, it's just too much.” She was trembling.
I squatted down in front of her and looked intensely at her, “I know what it feels like to loose a friend. And it hurts like hell at first. But...the only way you get past the pain is to remember the good times, when you were younger, and try not to think too much of what has happened since then. Do you remember the night I woke up sweating and I told you it was just a nightmare?”
She nodded confusedly, “I don't-”
“It wasn't a nightmare, it was a memory,” I took a deep breath. I had never told anyone what happened that night.
“A memory of the night my best friend vanished. We were eleven then, and I had known him since I was three years old. To this day, no one knows where he went, or what happened to him. I tried looking for him long after the Muggle police had stopped, but it was like he just vanished. It's been seven years and every time I think about him, I try to remember the fun we had that evening in the park right before he was gone. The memory is as much a dream as it is a nightmare. And that memory is what keeps me hoping that one day he will come back.”
“I don't want your sympathy, it won't change anything,” I shook my head vigorously. “I just want you to know that it is okay to feel sad but don't loose hope. It pays off in the end.”
“How do you know?” she asked curiously.
“Because, every story has a happy ending,” I winked. “At least, I know yours does.”
She laughed and stood back up.
“You always say these things with such conviction. Like you know what's going to happen.”
“Maybe I do,” I threw an arm across her shoulders and we walked down the stairs into the main castle. “Feeling better? Good.”
“Where were you anyway?”
“Just fancied a little free falling,” I grinned indicating my broom.
“You can be so reckless!” she cried suddenly.
“How is that reckless? I was inside castle boundaries!” I asked bewildered.
“It's pitch black outside, and who knows what could be lurking out there. The Death Eaters have it in for you and Bellatrix has been able to get onto the grounds without problem before. Honestly, Kayla, if you wanted fresh air, you could have just taken a walk.”
“Lily, you're overreacting. Dear Belly isn't going to pop out from behind one of the hoops and Avada Kedavra me,” I chuckled at her over analysis of the situation.
“You don't know th- did you just call her Belly?”
“If she heard you...” she trailed off.
“She would go ballistic,” a familiar (to me) voice drawled from behind us.
“Black,” Lily spat. “What are you doing here?”
At the same time I smiled sweetly, “Regulus, how nice to see you.”
It was indeed. I hadn't seen him since yesterday, not up close. Only during meals in the Great Hall and even then I would see him for only a second.
“I would suggest you refrain from calling her Belly to her face when you meet her again,” he ignored Lily and looked me with a certain confidence that had been lacking a few nights ago. Probably because Lily was with me and he knew I wouldn't give away that we had spoken before in front of her.
I noted that he said when and not if. It was certain, Bellatrix was looking for me.
“Yeah, about that, think you could give me an exact time? I mean you would know of course, since you will probably be there when she's decided to play with me again,” I twirled my wand in my hand, mostly for theatrical purposes. I knew he wouldn't attack just as he knew I couldn't say or do anything too rash in front of the Head girl.
His eyes flashed angrily, “What makes you think Bella tells me what her meal for the week is going to be?”
“Regy Reg Reg,” I purred. “Bella loves putting on a show. She'll want an audience, and who better to show off her skills to than her aspiring Death Eater younger cousin?” I cocked my head to the side innocently.
Lily stood curiously observing us, wand at the ready in case Regulus did decide to strike. I wanted to tell her he wouldn't because we were only ten feet away from the Fat Lady's portrait and because Regulus wouldn't do anything but defend in front of her.
He opened his mouth to reply but someone behind him called out his name sharply.
He turned and I looked around him to see who had beckoned him. Avery and Mulciber stood at the end of the corridor glaring at us, arms crossed over their chests.
He glanced back at me with an odd expression on his face and walked over to his 'friends'. I waited until they had disappeared around the corner to look back at Lily.
“Interesting,' she finished looking at me for an explanation.
“Definitely,” I agreed, pondering over his look. “ Leonis.” I told Fat Lady.
“Beautiful constellation,” the Fat Lady said as she opened up for us.
Lily and I walked into the common room to find it almost full with the Marauders occupying a table in one corner of the room with Alice, Frank, Mary and Marlene sitting with them.
“Hiylo!” I jumped over the sofa and landed off balance next to Sirius.
“Easy there,” he held me by the waist to steady me.
“Thanks,” I muttered noticing that his hand lingered a bit longer than necessary.
“No problem,” he grinned.
I licked my chapped lips, suddenly conscious of how windswept I must have looked after my joyride.
“So 'chu you guys doing?” I asked leaning over Sirius' shoulder as there was no space to sit at the table.
“Homework,” James answered.
I looked at Lily, stunned.
“Since when do you lot do homework?” she asked peering at the four of them.
“I'm offended. I always do homework,” Remus said from behind a stack of books. His entire face had vanished and only his mop of shaggy brown hair was visible.
“Well, you do, but these three” -she pointed at James, Sirius, and Peter- “don't.”
“James is making us,” Peter told her scribbling furiously on his parchment.
“Yeah, Lily flower, we don't want to but he threatened us with detention,” Sirius smirked, lazily turning the pages of his Potions book simultaneously editing his essay on Amortentia.
I immediately caught on to what was happening here; James had made the others do homework to get into Lily's good graces. Go James.
“I see,” Lily said looking at the bespectacled, messy haired boy. She smiled reluctantly, “Well, do you have room for two more?”
“Sure,” James conjured up a chair next to him and indicated that she take it.
Thanks James, you're a true friend. Not.
“Hey Sirius, scoot over,” I nudged him over so I could share his chair.
“No,” he said halfheartedly, “get your own chair.”
“I'm too lazy, and exhausted,” I told him.
“Where have you been? We didn't see you at dinner,” he asked still bent over his essay.
“Judging by her hair, I'd say she was exploring a broom closet,” Alice said.
Sirius stopped writing and looked at me questioningly.
“No, I was just riding a broom,” I said glaring at her.
Marlene snorted, “Which broom?”
I felt Sirius go very still next to me.
“The wooden one,” I hissed.
“I see...the wooden one,” Mary guffawed.
“Did Jace Bell join you?” Alice batted her eyelashes at me while everyone else, except Sirius who was staring at one spot on his paper, laughed. “Was it his broom you were riding?”
“No, I was flying. Good clean flying. On the pitch,” I told them emphatically.
My response seemed to amuse them even more.
“Speaking of the pitch,” James said after he was done laughing at my expense, “we have practice at seven tomorrow night, Kayla. Be there.” He pointed a finger at me sternly.
“I shall,” I promised him.
Satisfied he turned back to his homework and the table fell into silence once more. Having no more homework to do I sat observing everyone. An entire week of bed rest in the hospital tended to put you ahead in your homework. I had finished everything, with the exception of the Herbology report, for this week and next week.
The next day, when James, Remus, Marlene, and I went down for breakfast together, it was apparent something was very wrong. My eyes automatically traveled to the Slytherin table where Mulciber and Rosier looked very pleased with themselves. Snape, as usual sat a few seats away from the rest of the Death Eater gang, and Regulus was seated with the Quidditch team.
As if he could sense me looking at him, his eyes snapped onto mine. I quirked my eyebrow inquisitively, silently asking why the low level Death Eaters looks to happy this morning. He gave a jerk of his head to indicate this morning's Prophet in the hands of one of the younger years. I masked my shock at receiving a response. I hadn't expected him to react to silent question.
I turned back to the Gryffindors, hoping my unspoken conversation with Regulus had gone unnoticed. It had. When I chanced a glance back at the table, Snape's obsidian gaze met mine, then moving over to the red head sitting next to me. A fleeting sadness passed over his face as he watched Lily throw her head back laughingly and swat James on the arm.
I remembered last night with some sadness, remembered the severed friendship. When Snape looked back at me, he sneered, sadness gone, and left the Hall with his customary slouch.
Moving closer to Remus, I asked him if he'd read the paper this morning. None of my friends had, it seemed. Filching one from one of the fourth years, I looked at the first page, and promptly spit my morning juice over the table.
Ignoring Lily's indignant, “Kayla!” I flattened the paper against the table so all could read.
There had been an attack. In Godric's Hollow.
James paled, and looked to Marlene who lived across the street from James. It said the attack was led by the most notorious Death Eaters, meant to target the many pure-blood families living there who went against the Dark Lord's wishes. Aaron and Hailey were all right. Marlene's parents and older brother who had been visiting for the night didn't fare so well. They were alive, and in St. Mungo's, but suffered from major burns. The Death Eaters had lit their entire house on fire.
James was clutching Marlene's hand tightly, reassuringly, whispering soft words of comfort just as McGonagall swept up to the table, and ushered Marlene to the Headmaster's office. That was when I noticed Dumbledore hadn't been at the High Table all morning.
The McKinnon's weren't the only ones to suffer. Gerard Abbot, and Fester Nighy had been severely wounded, along with countless Muggles.
This was it, I realized. I couldn't allow this to go on for so long.
I held the information to stop Voldemort once and for all. I would tell Dumbledore at the first opportunity about the Horcruxes and what I suspected of their locations. Damn the consequences; changing the future was much preferable than sitting and allowing the world to collapse around me.
But before that, I had an entire days worth of classes.
The entire group was sombre as we trudged to Charms for our first class. Marlene didn't show up for that, nor Defense, or Lunch. By the time Double Potions came around, we were convinced she had been allowed to go to St. Mungo's to be with her family.
When I walked into the dungeons with Remus, Lily, Sirius, and James, the first face I saw was that of Severus Snape.
White hot anger surged through me as I remembered Marlene's stricken, teary face. Barely noticing my friends' confused glances, I stalked over to Snape and took the normally empty seat beside him.
He looked up at me in surprise, placing his Potions book on the table by his cauldron. “Shouldn't sit here. Black might get jealous.” I could feel Sirius' gray-eyed gaze on my neck, but decided to ignore it.
I slammed by backpack on the table, aware that everyone was watching. “Were you there?” I asked softly to evade prying ears.
Snape continued to empty his bag of scales and his Potions kit. “I have no idea what you're speaking of, Nichols,” he drawled. He reached to open his book.
I grit my teeth, and slapped a hand on the cover of the textbook, pulling it closer to my side of the table. “You know damn well what I mean, Snape. Were you there last night?”
“I've told you,” he said coolly, eyes peering into me curiously. “I have no idea what you are talking about.” It wasn't until the first image of Cori and me playing soccer in middle school passed by that I realized what he was doing.
I quickly averted my eyes, and hissed, “Do not use Legilimency on me.” He smirked triumphantly, momentarily distracted when Slughorn and his ample belly came into the room. I took the opportunity to tap his Potions book and whisper a quick “Geminio.” By the time Snape whipped his greasy head back, I had slipped the duplicate Half-Blood Prince's Potions book into my bag.
He narrowed his eyes at me for another second, seeing nothing wrong, tugged his book back and began working on the assignment.
By the time the lesson was over, I was disappointed and mollified in equal amounts.
Disappointed because I hadn’t received a straight answer from Snape, not that I had expected to. And mollified because I now had in my position a copy of Snape's Potions book, with all the side notes of the Half-Blood Prince.
The second we were out of the dungeons, everyone pounced on me, asking why I had chosen a seat with the Git Extraordinaire. I waved off their questions, making some inane excuse in order to escape to Dumbledore's office.
A/N: Please please please don't hate me. I know I haven't updated in a couple of months. The other stories took precedence, but this one is back now!
For those of you who are still reading this, thank you so very much.
Love you all,
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