As Isabelle had planned earlier in the day by communicating with Troy through the owl post, she snuck out of the Hogwarts castle at 9:20 and it was one of the few times that she was on time. She knew Troy’s kick off bash would not get into full swing until at least 11:00, but this way she would have time to catch up with him and his intimate group of friends. If social networking were a NEWT, Isabelle would blow the proctors away.
Security around the secret passages was lax back in those days; Dumbledore surely knew of them and the Caretakers and Professors had good ideas of where most of them were, but as long as one was careful they needn’t go their Hogwarts career without sneaking out of the castle. Tonight, Isabelle was taking the passage behind the mirror, which would bring her closest to Troy’s house. This was one of the passages that was widely acknowledged by the people of Hogwarts; it was not difficult to find and the path was smoothed down with wear, but Isabelle strode down the tunnel with confidence.
By the time she emerged from the passage, out of a small door concealed in a rock, night had fallen completely. She made her way down the hill and by the time she reached Troy’s she was slightly winded and had twisted her ankle twice in her black high-heels.
She was wearing a tight, vixen red dress that hugged her nearly nonexistent curves. She had borrowed it from her cousin last summer and had neglected to return it; the dress was not something she would normally wear to one of Troy’s parties but she wanted to make an impression tonight. She wore her long hair tousled and messy, had accentuated her full eyes with dark eyeliner and a smoky wood colored eye shadow. Her heels gave her athletic legs shape and length and even her ears looked less small with Isabelle’s favorite gold colored, leaf shaped, dangling earrings. She looked like what her mother would have called “Vampire Bait,” or what her father would have called “a working girl,” but even though she looked like a temptress, she felt like a goddess—a goddess with a possibly sprained ankle who was glad to finally have arrived at her destination.
Before she could even rap on the door it had flown open and there was Troy, wrapping all two hundred pounds of his muscular body around her frame and lifting her clear off her feet.
“Knew you were coming a full forty-five seconds ago. Charmed an alarm around the premises. How are you Isabelle, my love? What can I get for you? I know that if you have enough rum you think you’re a dragon tamer so how ‘bout we start off with some of that, eh? Only kidding, love. Here, step out of the cold. Look mates, Iz is here, the party can officially start!” Troy Roland swept Isabelle up in his bubble of excitement, that’s why Isabelle liked him so much. He was always moving, making a joke, flirting with a girl. His attention was always torn into a thousand places at once and while some found this annoying, Isabelle found it refreshing and entertaining.
Troy was older, graduated from Hogwarts two years ago and was working for the post office in downtown Hogsmeade. His girlfriend, Jessica, was a lovely witch from America and his roommates were down to earth and relaxed due to the amount of illegal substances they took. They were well known at the Ministry for being small-time hallucinogenic potion manufacturers. They were well known in Hogsmeade for taking those potions and wandering in and out of the shops giggling.
“Cheers, Isabelle.” Troy was already back by Isabelle’s side with a glass of Isabelle didn’t know or care what.
“Cheers,” and where Troy took a hefty gulp, Isabelle downed her drink.
“One of those nights, eh? Well I’ll just have to get you something a bit stronger. How much rum will it take for you and Jessica to mud wrestle, love? Because I will totally sponsor your alcohol intake if that could happen tonight,” Troy was going on while he disappeared into the kitchen, filling up another cup for Isabelle. He never stopped talking, making him the perfect host. Troy was just as relaxed as his roommates about his hosting duties. When his coffee table was destroyed when two brawling lads broke their fall on top of it, he simply ruffled his head of curly hair, shrugged his broad shoulders, and suggested that everyone take a drink in memory of the coffee table and all of the fun times they had playing Drinking Gobstones on top of it. Troy was intimidating to some with his large exterior but to Isabelle he was simply a big teddy bear that always engulfed her in a big, pick-me-off-my-feat hug whenever he saw her.
Jesse and Diego were twins, both had long black hair that was so unkempt they decided to have it dred-locked, complete with beads and colored string. They had it done when they went to Africa two summers ago to pick up something illegal, Isabelle couldn’t remember what. They had long faces, and always wore vacant expressions. It was unsettling, how similar they were.
“Hey Isabelle,” they called together from the sofa. They spoke in a raspy, drawn out way.
“Hey guys, how are you?” Isabelle was taking it slower on this second drink, which was much stronger, as Troy had promised. She wandered over to the living room while Troy was caught up in the kitchen with his girlfriend.
“Hey, doesn’t Isabelle’s hair look like ah. Like an uh. What are those things called, mate?”
“Yeah, you’re right. It looks like one of those, uh. I know what you’re talking about, man.”
“Yeah like one of those things”
“Ray, come here and look at Isabelle’s hair, doesn’t it look like something?”
Isabelle felt like suggesting that her hair looked like, well hair but before she could assure the twins that there was nothing unusual going on on top of her head, Ray had wandered over.
“I know what it is, man. It looks like a blanket. Like a right comfortable blanket you want to wrap around you,” Ray said, reaching out to stroke Isabelle’s mane.
She recoiled almost involuntarily. “Well it was nice talking to you guys!” she scampered off.
The two twins were obviously stationed in an alternate reality than Isabelle at the moment, seeing things that did not belong.
And while the twins had been deliberating on just what Isabelle’s hair resembled, more and more students were beginning to poke their heads out of the various nooks and crannies within the Hogwarts walls, considering crossing the threshold into the night. Some were thwarted in their efforts. James, true to his word, was actually helping Lily. He hadn’t made a sarcastic comment yet about the shine on Lily’s Head Girl badge giving their position away because it shone like a hailing beacon (but he wanted to). They sent group after group back to their rooms, knowing they would simply try again later.
For the Head Boy and Girl time was slowly ticking by but only several miles away, it was flying for Isabelle. Before she knew it, guests from Hogsmeade, previous Hogwarts students, and some of her classmates themselves had arrived. She had even had enough in her that by the time Quinn, Colby, Olga, and Tanya arrived she was able to exchange greetings and smiles with them.
Her Housemates had not failed to notice that Isabelle had been spending more time in the common room and dormitory than she ever had before. Oh how they must have been enjoying her fall from grace, Isabelle thought. Or was she just assuming that they had been jealous of her “grace?” Isabelle had caught herself wondering once or twice why she was not part of them—of the Gryffindors. The only exhibition of House pride she ever showed was on the Quidditch pitch, and that wasn’t for Gryffindor spirit it was for the spirit of the game that she knew and loved. She was missing some sort of ingredient that would make her a true Gryffindor lioness, but if that ingredient was whiskey, rum, wine, or vodka she was one the right track to finding her inner animal.
She was never without a drink in her hand and she was beginning to lose track of how much she had had. Three? Four? Her head felt heavy, with a slight buzz affecting her forehead. As Hogwarts students began to arrive, Troy hooked up the music, playing his friend’s band’s songs over loud speakers. It was good dance music and Troy quickly pulled Isabelle out into the dining room, which transformed into the dance floor the moment the music started to pound.
Isabelle felt like she was standing still in a chaotic room, like she did not have control over her own movements. She was reaching the level of drunkenness she had planned, but the moment Cameron and Riley walked into the room she lost her feeling of elevation and needed another drink.
If there was one thing Isabelle was not it was independent. She was willing to admit that. She hated doing things by herself and needed steady companionship. But at the moment she was not alone, she had her drink in her hand at that was all she needed. It was the perfect friend. It was there when she needed it, it gave her confidence, and it made her feel better.
“Anyone for a game of Exploding Snap: Drinking Edition?” Jack Nubber asked loudly to the crowd. Excitedly, Cameron and Riley followed him to the coffee table where they sat around it and began to play. Isabelle had half a mind to join them until she felt a soft hand on her elbow, leading her in the other direction.
It took her mind a moment to catch up with the movements of her body, so she did not recognize or comprehend the presence of Ari Yaxley immediately. “You,” she slurred, falling into his body slightly.
“I wouldn’t go over there if I were you,” Ari explained in his bored voice and I-don’t-really-care air. “I heard her,” by ‘her’ he meant Cameron, “saying that if you were here she was going to sabotage you in some way.” The details, of course, were beneath him. “And at the moment you look like you could be sabotaged, easily.” His eyes judged her drunken stance as her intoxicated mind tried to comprehend what he was saying.
She finished the rest of her drink. “I am unsavotagable,” she demanded. With liquor in her system she was loud almost to the point of belligerency.
“Yes you look ‘unsavotagable.’”
“Just try it,” she slurred. Her eyes were heavy, hard to keep open. “Just try to savotage me.”
He moved faster than her inebriated slowness could contest with. He had spun her around, pushed her deeper into the kitchen, up against an enclosed nook. His body up against hers. Ari was surprisingly thin, a fact his robes disguised well but he had muscle beneath them. His dark hair fell into his piercing eyes. “How’s this?” He breathed.
“That—that is some good savotaging,” Isabelle said. And she began to laugh; it was a full-toothed smile that Ari had never seen before. Isabelle never looked completely happy but this almost goofy grin of hers was just as intriguing as the sly smile she flashed in the halls. “But I am actually the one savotaging you,” her voice had become higher pitched, almost sing-song.
Ari resisted correcting her pronunciation of the word and listened instead, all the while keeping her slim body up against the wall. Three shots of fire whiskey had given him courage to approach this girl and he was going to have her all to himself for as long as he could. “How?” He rasped.
“Because,” she drew out the word, “I am a,” she stopped as if she could not remember the word, “a tease.” She had an expression of confusion on her face and it was possibly the most adorable countenance Ari had ever seen. He didn’t even know the word adorable was in his vocabulary. He didn’t think things were adorable.
“Well guess what?” He pushed her wild hair behind her face, it was even more erratic than without her full attention on it. As he leaned into her, his gaze captivated her and when his lips brushed her cheek, almost hitting her lips, she gasped and did not completely resist him. “So am I.” And then he was gone.
She would not remember that in the morning. She would wonder if it had happened or if it had been imaginary. Regardless, she needed another drink.
Isabelle was entertaining herself, dancing, playing card games, catching up with Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, challenging fellow Quidditch players to races around the lake. It was the type of bonding that could only occur when there was alcohol involved. It made everyone feel like best friends and Troy’s house emitted good vibes. So when Isabelle wandered upstairs to use the ladies’ room, the scene before her was almost too much for her drunken self to handle. It was another part of the night she would never fully remember with clarity, and for that she was glad.
Quinn was leaned over the toilet bowl, crying and vomiting at the same time. Lily was holding her mousy hair back while Olga and Colby were whispering cooing words to console her.
“Don’t these fucking doors lock?” Lily screamed.
“What happened,” Isabelle said. As a reaction she quickly stepped inside, she was one of few that could lock Troy’s bathroom door. She threw open the medicine cabinet above the sink where, instead of prescription pills there were potions of all kinds. She was surprisingly capable for someone so inebriated.
“One of those—” Lily searched for the right word, “—bastards downstairs gave her something out of a flask and she just started freaking out!”
“The bunnies!” Quinn moaned and vomited again. “There’s just so many of them,” she said in a defeated voice and began crying.
From this information Isabelle could ascertain what had happened. Either Jesse or Diego gave Quinn one of their drugs—not out of malice, simply because they thought everyone enjoyed taking hallucinogens.
Isabelle knew from the terrified looks on their faces that none of her Housemates were equipped to control this situation so she moved in. “Quinn, Quinn look at me! There are no bunnies. You are on a hallucinogenic potion. You’re scared and don’t know what you’re seeing. It will go away soon, I promise. You are safe, no one and nothing is going to hurt you. Lily, can you get her home? Give her this,” Isabelle passed Lily a vial she had recognized from the cabinet, “it will stop the vomiting. Get her home, get her back to bed. Don’t let her cause a scene.”
“Thank you Isabelle. Thank you,” the clearly wasted Lily cried and threw her arms around Isabelle’s shoulders. Even Olga and Colby joined in with their choruses of thanks. And in a rush, they were gone and the bathroom bonding was done.
Isabelle had pulled herself together long enough to display some show of soberness but the moment they were gone she felt her alcohol hit her like a troll’s club. She stumbled down the stairs, right into the waiting grasp of Cameron.
“Isabelle,” she stated calmly.
Sabotage, Isabelle remembered somewhere in the back of her mind.
“Cam-ron,” Isabelle drawled, needing to lean against the wall with her arm to stable herself.
Her eyes narrowed and the activity around the two of them seemed to slow as if anticipating a conflict. But, for once, Cameron did not want to make a scene. She had wanted to put something in Isabelle’s and Troy’s drinks that would make her lose all sense of morality and then she, Cameron, would engineer a situation that would cause the two to sleep together, thus ruining Isabelle’s reputation and Troy’s relationship (but that was just collateral damage). But that had been before she caught Isabelle coming out from behind the refrigerator with Ari Yaxley. Isabelle was just God’s gift to humanity, wasn’t she? But if Isabelle could have Ari, the most powerful figure at Hogwarts, then Cameron could steal him away.
So Cameron smiled, teeth gritted, and let Isabelle pass. And Isabelle did pass her, right into the kitchen where she continued the night’s pattern and drank. She took four healthy swigs directly from the bottle, cringing after each gulp. She put the bottle down, reconsidered, and left the kitchen, swaying with the bottle almost dangerously.
And then everything went black.
* * * *
James Potter was explaining. “I am so sorry, mates. Moony I haven’t missed a moon since we could turn, and I would never bail if I didn’t promise Lily. I have to do rounds, then I’ll drop her off at the party, stay there for a bit, but I’ll meet up with you. I’ll be able to sense you, I swear.”
“Patrol is important, Prongs, I know that,” Remus was late for his date with the Whomping Willow but even in his rush, James knew Remus was not disappointed or angry. He never was. Remus: the Forgiving One. That is where he fit in the Marauders, and they always needed a lot of forgiving.
“Patrolling is for prats. Just skip it, mate,” Sirius growled. He’d already seen herd upon herd of girls scampering up and down the stairs in a flurry to get ready. And he didn’t miss it when, at 9:20, Isabelle slipped out of the Common Room in a vixen red dress with her thick mane flowing behind her.
“I’m sorry, I gotta go!” James said, heading out of the door with Remus in tow.
“Well I guess it’s just me, you, and Moony tonight, Wormtail,” Sirius said and the two animagi waited until the moon was nearly at its fullest and Sirius said, “You ready to head out, Peter?” and they took off into the night.
Sirius felt more at home in his animagi form than he did in his human body. With his four strong legs pounding beneath him, Sirius felt only primal instinct if he let his inner animal take over. He thought of survival and power. He was with his pack and with them he felt alive. When one of their pack was missing it was palpable, but Prongs soon arrived, completing them.
They were masters of the night, it was their playground and it was at their mercy. They had nothing to worry about; all they had to do was let the animal take over and invite them into a new world.
Sirius caught a scent. He knew that scent. His sudden sniffs and ear twitches halted the run of his pack, even Moony, the wildest of them all. Sirius motioned for them to go on alone, his animal mind could not fully understand, but his instincts told him he did not want a werewolf nearby for this, lest the source of the scent become the werewolves midnight snack. His pack knew he would find them in the forest, their planned venue for the evening.
Bounding across the lawn, Sirius followed his nose and prowling in the darkness, he came across his quarry.
Isabelle Preston was stumbling down the streets of Hogsmeade, her legs were crossing over each other as she walked. As Sirius watched, she fell.
“Whoaaa, big dog,” she mumbled, seeing Sirius from behind a building. She was the picture of drunkenness with her smeared makeup, messed up hair, and heavy, slumped shoulders. “C’mere dog,” she called from the ground. “C’mere doggy, doggy, doggy!” She made clicking sounds with her tongue while laughing uncontrollably. Whatever she had been drinking had made her silly with drunkenness.
Sirius went to investigate, in his guise as a dog he did not need to take credit for assisting the girl back to Hogwarts. He wasn’t a friendly looking animal, but he tried his best to look like he wasn’t going to attack. He could have been a tiger for all the difference his appearance made to Isabelle.
“You are sooo cuteee,” Isabelle cooed, ignoring Sirius’ fangs and claws. She scratched him on the head, which made her giggle. She slumped over more while she pat Sirius on the head. Sirius took his muzzle and tried to lift Isabelle’s head with it; his wet nose shocked her, but not enough to get her up.
He was going to have to do this the hard way. The animal inside said no, it called to his packmates and go for its midnight run through the forest. But his human side, the side he had to hold onto, told him yes.
“Byeee dog!” Isabelle called almost sleepily as Sirius ran down the street, far enough along that the sloshed Isabelle wouldn’t see—and that wasn’t far. Bye the time he had returned, Isabelle was asleep in the street.
Her little body looked nice where it had fallen, near a patch of flowers, with the hard dirt making her hair look like a lighter shade of brown. And she looked at peace, which was a face Sirius had never seen on her. In the daylight she was unreadable, impossible to tell if she was happy or sad. On the Quidditch pitch she was the epitome of determination and skill. But never at peace. Here, on the ground, Sirius saw a sliver of what was beneath her skin.
“Isabelle,” Sirius leaned down, and pulled Isabelle up by wrapping his arm around her lower back and sitting her up by supporting her body against his. “You have to wake up, Isabelle.”
“I just needed to sleep for a second,” she mumbled, eyes still closed.
“Can you stand up?” Isabelle didn’t move for several seconds but then she nodded her head—at least, Sirius thought she was nodding her head. Either that or her neck function had given out. “Okay, lets try to get you up. Ready?” Apparently she wasn’t ready, because she was as limp as a rag doll. Luckily, Sirius still had the adrenaline of Padfoot running through his veins and he was able to steady her on her feet, putting her arm over his shoulder and his arm around her waist.
“Seh, suh, Cereal?” Isabelle asked, finally regaining some consciousness. She was looking up at Sirius while they stumbled along, wearing a coy smile.
“No, Sirius,” he said, aiming them towards Honeydukes.
“Thas what I said!” Isabelle was still slurring her words.
Sirius took his wand out, “Can you stand up straight while I open this door?” He leaned her up against the wall of the building as if she were a broomstick and before he had turned she had fallen over again. “Okay, c’mon,” he hoisted her back up and swung her body over his shoulder.
“Cereal, I’m like totally sober!” she protested, but all motor function was gone and she could not wriggle out of his grasp. “Cereal, why…why are we in Honeydukes. Are you gonna rob it?” She let out a shriek of excitement. And while they walked past the rows of candy he felt her reaching out to grab various candies. She stashed her loot in his robe pocket. “I love Sugar Quills!” she bellowed.
“Isabelle, the owners live upstairs. Shh!”
Isabelle scoffed. “You’re so serious!” she said, which only made Sirius roll his eyes. He was surprisingly mobile with 130 pounds of annoying drunk girl on his left shoulder. He opened the trap door.
“Can you walk?”
“Shh, Cereal!” Isabelle said, and charged ahead, half skipping and half drunk running down the passage.
Sirius shook his head. He was coming to the realization that Isabelle was bat crazy. She did not allow rules to guide her life, but she did not outwardly thwart authority. Sometimes she was punished, sometimes she got away with it, but she danced through life without much of a purpose. She was simply trying to live.
“Alright, easy does it, Boozy,” Sirius said, easing Isabelle through the passageway.
“You know, you are a bossy, bossy boy. A big boss.” Isabelle was almost intimately close to Sirius as she berated him. The last time they were in this proximity, Sirius had been tackling her in Diagon Alley.
“Actually, I’m being quite the good Samaritan. You’d be passed out in the street right now if not for me.” Sirius eased her up through the staircase of the one-eyed witch and out through her hump. He thought he finally had Isabelle under control until they were back in the Gryffindor common room and he was guiding her through the portrait hole.
“Where did my dog go?” Isabelle suddenly turned on her heel, twisting her ankle badly by the looks of it, and tried to push past Sirius. “My DOG!” Tears started to form in her eyes. “Cereal, a dog came and helped me. It was the cutest little puppy ever and he was big and black and fluffy and I thought he loved me but he ran off and left me all alone and what if he gets hit by a train and I’m not there to protect him or what if he gets sent to the pooound do you know what they do to dos in the pound. I have to go get my dog. Did you see my dog?” She was almost crying now and Sirius was overcome with the overwhelming urge to protect her. He had never seen anyone go through so many phases so quickly: silly, asleep, drowsy, belligerent, crying.
“We can find your dog in the morning, luv, okay?” She was weeping into his chest now and he instinctively stroked her hair, which was like a sheet of satin.
“Do you pro-pro-promise?” She pulled away from him to look him in the eyes so that she could see if his promise was more than words.
“I pro-” but Sirius was never able to fully promise Isabelle anything, for she had pulled his head down to meet hers and her lips caught his in a practiced motion. There was no soft brush of tongue against lip, asking for “permission to enter” at it is so delicately put. Isabelle did not wait for permission, as if Sirius’ mouth had been her territory all along. It took him aback, for Sirius was never the passive partner in a kiss. He controlled the rhythm, the force, even the breathing. It was so unusual an experience it was second nature for Sirius to reciprocate, which only enflamed Isabelle more.
She moaned into his mouth and pressed her body against his, into the wall, keeping his lips locked to hers with steady pressure against his cheek and behind his head. Her fingernails raked his scalp lightly in between his locks of hair, raising goose bumps down Sirius’ spine.
Fingernails, she had just slept with Blake the night before.
Sirius matched her aggressiveness, pushing back against her with equal force. She tasted like rum and vanilla.
Rum, she was drunk.
Her teeth applied gentle pressure on Sirius’ bottom lip for half a second, but her lips quickly took their place. Sirius moved his hips into Isabelle to assure her of her skill in this territory and his hands moved to cup her breasts.
I can’t do this, Sirius repeated, mantra-like, in his mind. But Isabelle kept him well distracted and he wasn’t sure he had the willpower to make her stop if she flicked his earlobe with her tongue one more time. This was Isabelle his friend, his teammate—his drunk friend and teammate who wouldn’t remember a thing of this in the morning.
A darker side of Sirius, the animal within him, said, “Isn’t that exactly the point, you could do anything with her.”
It took all of the moral decency Sirius had to unweave his hand from Isabelle’s hair, and release her body from his grasp. He turned his head away. Breathless, Isabelle attempted to pull him back to her but he could not go back into that trap or he would stay there.
“We can’t, Isabelle. Stop.”
She frowned in anger. Rejection stung her in the heart, in the brain. It wrapped around her and squeezed. “What?” she breathed. He wanted to reach out and hold her, tell her that he couldn’t—not because he did not desire her—because it would change everything. Ruin everything. But before even his fingertips could make contact with her skin she had moved away. “Yo—you’re rejecting me?”
“No Isabelle, I—”
“I never get rejected!” She pushed him as she screamed. He grabbed her retreating hand, which she resisted with vigor. He ignored her protests and pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her. “Get off of me,” she complained. “Get off!” But he would not let her go.
His smoky voice soothed her and it was not long before her grumbling complaints turned into sobs. “Cereal, I’m so tired,” she cried.
He smoothed her hair down. This wasn’t his place, he did not do this—ever. He didn’t even know he knew how to console a person. Usually, when one of his mates was upset he could offer them support but anything he said always made the problem worse. People thought he was rude and blunt, vain, haughty, stuck up. But he did care, he had always cared. He just did not know how to show it. And here he was, trying something new and uncomfortable and he suddenly found himself wishing that he too were black out drunk.
But he would remember it all—and that made one of them, at least.
I hope that you all liked this chapter!
Comments, questions, concerns totally welcome :)