Chapter 14 : S is for Sucker...and Slytherin
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We know you must be completely busy with keeping up with school and such, so we haven’t wanted to badger you with letters–
That’s a lie. She’s composed everything from a novel to a howler, wondering why you haven’t written us. It was by the grace of Godric that I managed to stop her–
Anywho, we just wanted to check on our favorite American, but don’t rush with a reply. We remember how hectic 7th year was – we’re not that old.
Arthur and Molly
P.S. Billy wants to know if you’ve met a goblin yet.
Ivy grimaced guiltily at the letter. With everything that had been going on, she completely forgot about Arthur, Molly, and the boys. She bit her lip and smiled a bit at the post script.
Despite the rocky start to their acquaintance, she, Bill, and Charlie had forged quite the friendship. Ivy remembered the day she’d left for King’s Cross. Bill had been bouncing up and down on a chair beside her so that he was at eye-level with her, as he persistently tugged on her arm and made her promise to write the second she met a goblin. No wonder he went on to work for Gringott’s, she had thought at the time, even as Charlie tearfully clutched her about the knees, begging her not to go. She struggled to pry him off and tell him that she had to leave, even if he did promise to be on his best behavior from then on. Truth be told, it reminded her too much of Ilene and Ilana when she had gone to spend a few weeks with an aunt in Seattle.
“What’s the matter?”
Ivy hurriedly shoved the letter into her pocket and blinked away the tears in her eyes to look up at Peter.
“Just missing home. Got a letter,” she smiled ruefully.
Peter gave her a sympathetic smile.
“Yeah, it was tough on me before I met the guys – being away from home, I mean. Then I started looking forward to school because I got to see my mates. But you’re new here and had to leave all of your friends behind, didn’t you?”
Ivy smiled lopsidedly as she picked up her coffee.
“Anybody ever tell you that you’re too perceptive, Pete?”
He snorted. “I wish.”
“Puddifoot’s is a go,” Alice said, sliding onto the bench at the breakfast table on Ivy’s left.
“What’s a Puddifoot’s?” Peter asked bewilderedly.
Alice rolled her eyes. “It’s the couples’ tea shop in town. I got Lily to go,” she grinned.
“Perfect,” Ivy said, relieved that something was going right. “Where’s Sirius?”
“Oh,” Peter said, swallowing a mouthful of pancake, “we couldn’t get James out of bed this morning, so Sirius said he was going to grab him something straight from the kitchens.”
“Okay,” she nodded, “just keep an eye on him today. We don’t need any crazy scenes.”
“Aye-aye, captain,” Peter saluted.
“You guys need to stop doing that. People might think I’m starting a cult or something,” Ivy rolled her eyes.
They both grinned cheekily.
“So what’s your assignment for the day, then?” Alice asked.
“I don’t have one. I figured I’d just take some to time to write home.”
“I know!” Her face brightened. “Why don’t you work on Remus and Ames?”
“You heard them; they won’t budge,” Peter said.
“Have you met Ivy?”
Peter paused and tapped a finger on his chin as he took stock of Ivy. “That’s very true.”
They all exchanged mischievous smiles.
“Still not working.”
“You know you want to.”
“It’ll be fun.”
“You guys just have to piss all over my parade, don’t you?” Ivy moaned, dropping her head onto the coffee table in front of the Gryffindor common room fireplace.
“It’s so much fun.”
Ivy scowled into the tabletop. She was sitting on the floor before the hearth, Amelia was sitting on the couch, and Remus in an armchair. Both were reading and doing a spiffing job of ignoring her. Remus was once again reading out of the battered leather bound book that he always carried around. It didn’t have a title, but Ivy had determined that it wasn’t a trashy romance novel. Probably something depressingly intelligent and political, she groaned inwardly. He had a slight frown of concentration as he read, but he managed to spare her a few monosyllabic responses. Amelia, on the other hand, was giving her completely, infuriatingly, blithe replies.
She expelled a sigh of long suffering, at a rather obnoxious volume, but she found she didn’t care. Then a thought struck her. Ivy looked up and repeated herself, louder and longer. She could have sworn that she saw Remus’ eye twitch. One more, she gauged, and inhaled audibly, so that they would know she was winding up for a good one.
Amelia made an irritated noise deep in her throat and she and Remus snapped their books shut at the same time to glare at her. Ivy smiled, self-satisfied, as she lounged against the table, her head propped on her arms.
“Would you get up? It’s probably filthy down there,” Amelia said waspishly.
Ivy stood up and agreeably plopped herself down on the sofa next to her.
“What will it take for you to go away?” Remus asked tiredly.
“You already know,” she smiled widely.
As if that’s going to make us trust her, Amelia snorted. Then again, Remus might not be as oblivious to her wiles as he lets on.
“Anything by that,” he answered flatly.
Good boy, Amelia nodded.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” Ivy asked, doe-eyed.
“Someone could die.”
“Everyone dies eventually,” Ivy rolled her eyes. “Why not die for love?”
“Are you for real right now?” Amelia asked incredulously.
“Are you saying that love is not a worthy cause?” She rebutted innocently.
“That’s not what I’m saying at all–”
“So you’re saying that love is worth fighting for.”
“Of course it is,” Amelia said irritatedly.
“Well, why not give James a chance to fight?” Ivy saw an opening, and she was going to take it. Nobody could argue against love. Not without being a monster. Or Voldemort. Same difference.
“Because–because–” Amelia sputtered.
“Because your plans are shit,” Remus stepped in.
“I will ignore your insensitivity and instead demand proof,” Ivy sniffed.
“Proof? Proof? Have you seen James?”
“Yes I have, thank you very much,” she huffed. “But you indicated that more than one of my plans has gone awry before. Please name another instance. For all you know, this is a one in a million failure.”
Ivy could personally name several of her plans that had backfired, but she figured it would be counterproductive to her ends to mention them now.
Remus changed his tactics in hopes of ending the debate sooner; otherwise, he would be arguing with her all afternoon. They were both stubborn like that.
“Two wrongs do not make a right.”
True, Ivy admitted mentally, before smacking her double-crossing brain. We’re supposed to be winning this argument, not agreeing! Counter…counter…need a good counterargument…
“Spoken like a true cynic.”
Remus stopped and blinked at Ivy.
Amelia could feel them losing ground, but she didn’t know where Ivy was going with this.
“You heard me. You’re a cynic. You both are,” she pointed accusingly. “Cynics don’t believe in love.”
This was starting to get really fun for Ivy. She briefly wondered how many times she could argue them into a corner using love.
“That’s not true,” Remus simply replied.
“I do too believe in love,” Amelia insisted.
“Really,” Ivy said sarcastically. She even rolled her eyes for effect.
“Us being cynical of your plan does not make us cynics about– about love,” Remus said indignantly. He almost choked on the word. He wasn’t like most guys, but no self-respecting bloke spoke about love, with platonic female friends, no less.
“Yeah? So I guess you’ve each thrown down everything you had for love? You’ve surrendered all of your logic and dignity for something as unpredictable and uncontrollable as love?”
They both shifted uncomfortably for a moment. Ha! Take that, smutty romance novel haters! Some of that touchy-feely shit does come in handy!
“Have you?” Amelia finally retorted.
Ivy deflected effortlessly.
“What do you think I’m doing all of this for? Just because I can? I know that Lily is stubborn, angry, and disagreeable. But I also know that she has the power to make James happy. This may not be about my love, but I can appreciate and support James in his quest to find his.”
She paused a beat, considering whether or not to deal the final blow. Metaphorically speaking, of course. But it would still hurt. Well, hopefully not too much. I don’t want to row with them. Whatever, Iv. Just do it, already.
“If I can, why can’t you?” She asked bluntly.
Ivy sat back to look at the uncertainty seeping onto their faces. They were all lost in their thoughts when the portrait hole burst open and Sirius and Peter came rushing in. They made a beeline for Ivy and tugged her out of her seat before she came to her senses.
“What’s going on?”
“We have an idea,” Sirius said excitedly. Peter bobbed his head in agreement. “It’s brilliant.”
Both Remus and Amelia were pulled out of their musings, but watched helplessly as Ivy allowed herself to be led out of the common room.
“What is it? Why’d you leave James?” Ivy demanded as they hurried to some unknown destination.
“Lily’s back. In the library,” Peter said shortly.
“Already?” She asked with surprise.
“Already? It’s almost dinner,” Sirius nodded to a nearby window. The sky was streaked with purples, the only remains of the fall sunset she had missed.
“I hadn’t noticed,” she admitted.
“Any luck with those two idiots?” He asked.
Ivy pursed her lips, but didn’t correct his characterization of the two back in Gryffindor Tower.
“Maybe,” she said noncommittally.
“Where are you three off to?”
Their heads whipped around to see Alice wrapped around Frank in a dark corner.
“They’ve got an idea,” Ivy gestured to the guys.
Alice’s face lit up. “Brill!”
She hurriedly promised Frank that she would see him at dinner and kissed his pout away before following them.
They walked briskly down an empty corridor when suddenly Sirius turned on his heel, deep in thought. Ivy swiftly turned to follow him, but Peter stopped her with a hand on her arm. Before she or Alice could inquire about Sirius’ behavior, he pivoted back towards them once more. A door materialized in the expanse of solid brick, and Ivy realized with giddy anticipation that she was about to enter the Room of Requirement.
Sirius quickly ushered them through the door and Ivy marveled at the room. It had an oblong table with several plush chairs around it. One end of the room had blank chalkboards and what looked like diagrams, all on moving stands. While Alice asked about the room and Peter answered her questions, Ivy investigated the charts and realized that they were each detailed maps of different parts in the castle and the surrounding grounds.
“This,” she grinned and turned to face the others, “is perfect.”
“Remus?” Amelia asked tentatively.
“Huh?” He grunted, glaring down at his book, which he had resolutely picked up after the others disappeared. He had yet to turn the page, and he’d been staring at the same letter for ten minutes.
Amelia struggled internally. On one hand, she knew that Ivy was a master manipulator (a good trait only when she was on your side, annoying otherwise), and that she wanted them to fold under her pressure. But at the same time, didn’t she have a point? Who were they to deny James of the happiness that he wanted so badly?
“I’d feel really bad if they did something that we could have stopped…” she said slowly.
Remus sighed, put his book down, and rubbed his eyes.
“What are you suggesting?”
“That lot is likely to go for brawn over brains…They won’t stop to consider consequences…” Amelia trailed off once more.
“Their loss,” he replied stubbornly.
“Oh Merlin, who am I kidding? If we don’t talk some sense into them, they’re liable to blow up the castle or mis-brew a love potion!” Amelia exclaimed as she catapulted out of her seat and raced out of the common room.
Remus growled and resisted the urge to chuck his favorite book into the fireplace.
“Damnit,” he swore and followed suit.
“But how can we guarantee that James won’t rush to your defense?” Alice asked as they all leaned over a map of the DADA corridor.
The map had figurines that the room had thoughtfully supplied, placed strategically upon it. Each of them looked like their respective owners. They even moved. At first it had been amusing, playing with their miniatures, but when the figures heard about the plan, the Slytherins and the Gryffindors began attempting to strangle one another, and Lily’s had made a break for the edge of the table. They had long since been immobilized with frowns on their faces.
Abruptly, the door banged open, and they all rushed to fling a cover over the map and flip around the telltale chalk boards, until they realized that it was just Amelia and Remus. Before any of them could speak, Remus held up a finger.
“Let’s just get one thing straight: we’re only here to make sure that you lot don’t do anything stupid.”
He roughly pulled out a chair and slumped into it. Amelia, considerably calmer, took a seat next to Peter. The other four grinned at one another, and Ivy modestly inclined her head when they mimed clapping for her success.
“We’re going to get into so much trouble, I just know it. Someone’s going to get hurt, and we’ll get caught, and I’ll never get a job, and I’ll live in a box, and I’ll have fourteen kneazles, and–”
“Amelia,” Ivy snapped. “Hold it together, woman!”
“I can’t!” She wailed. “Not with the risk of becoming a kneazle lady!”
“Amelia,” Ivy said in a low voice, pulling her down a quieter hallway where the bustle of students couldn’t serve to heighten Amelia’s anxiety. “Look, you’re job is simple. You’re just a preventative measure. There’s no guarantee that you’ll need to act at all, okay?”
Amelia took a deep breath and whimpered.
Ivy ran a hand through her hair; James was beginning to rub off on her. But at least she didn’t look like a tornado survivor. She looked down at her watch.
“Two minutes. You want me to recite the plan again?”
“No. It’ll just freak me out,” Amelia shook her head vigorously.
And here I was thinking that you were so poised. Ivy kept her sarcasm to herself.
A flash of familiar red hair passed by, and Ivy resolutely pulled Amelia from their hiding place and into position.
Sirius saw Alice with Lily at the end of the corridor, making their way slowly in his direction. He also noted that Snape wasn’t far behind. He nodded at Remus and Peter, who returned his look of reassurance. James was leaning tiredly against a windowsill, staring listlessly out at the clouds that were rolling in and obscuring the sun.
After Lily passed them, Sirius swiftly slid in front of Severus, effectively blocking his way.
“How’s it going, Snivelly?” He sneered. He was a tad out of practice, and his face wouldn’t quite form the right amount of malice, but he was sure he pulled it off.
Alone, as usual, Severus simply glared at Sirius and attempted to side-step him, but he wasn’t having any of it.
“I asked you a question. You gonna answer it?”
When Severus remained silent, Sirius dug deeply for more hatred. Snape had to react – they were counting on it.
“Hear that, Prongs?” He asked, turning to James with his disdain-for-Slytherins smirk firmly in place. “I deigned to ask after Snivellous’ day, and he won’t answer. A bit rude, don’t you think?”
The hall traffic stopped completely. Duels between the two antagonistic houses were legendary.
“Get out of my way, Black,” Severus finally growled.
“Why don’t you make me, Snape?” Sirius asked, stepping closer to him so that they were nose to nose.
James sighed. “Just drop it, Sirius.”
The crowd of students gaped as James simply stood off to the side, wand firmly pocketed.
“I don’t need your pity, Potter,” Severus spat.
“Fine,” he shrugged, but still didn’t move to take out his wand.
Just then, the surrounding crowd was jostled and protested as someone pushed their way into the circle.
“Picking on my mate, brother?”
They could have heard a pin drop in the ensuing silence.
Amelia turned her panicked stare to Ivy, but this time she found her expression mirrored on the other brunette’s face. They each searched the crowd for Alice and Lily, and locked eyes with a worried looking Alice who mouthed “what do we do?”
Ivy shrugged helplessly and watched Remus and Peter step forward and apprehensively eye Sirius. James’ body tensed ever-so-slightly, but he still remained silent and immobile, simply watching Sirius.
“What do you want, Reg?” He finally asked, hands flexing, almost like they couldn’t decide whether to clench in preparation of a fight because it was his brother, or stand down because it was his brother.
Regulus, for the most part, remained facetiously congenial. His smile would have reminded Ivy of Sirius’, except it never reached his eyes. She had a feeling that it never did. Or maybe it just didn’t anymore. The only sign of his anger was the dangerous glitter in his eyes. His features were similar to Sirius’, but his were slightly pointy. Dodgy. Unkind.
Ivy fought to remain in control, but she couldn’t ignore the cold dread that overrode all of her logic. She couldn’t even find comfort in the fact that there was still time to prevent the fight. It was practically unavoidable, and with Regulus’ Slytherin cronies, they were definitely outnumbered.
“Just sticking by Sev’s side,” Regulus shrugged. “You might say that he’s become something of a brother to me.”
Sirius’ shoulders began shaking, and his fists made up their mind and clenched, but Regulus pretended not to notice.
“Sort of like a role model. You know, a proper one,” he sneered.
Sirius lunged for Regulus, who dodged his brother’s outstretched arms. Regulus felt a breeze as Sirius’ swipe came just short of his throat, thanks to James and Remus. They worked together to pin Sirius against a wall. During the scuffle, the other Slytherins around Severus and Regulus had drawn their wands and prepared to duel. The action was repeated by Ivy, Amelia, and on the other side of the hall, Alice. Even Lily had pushed her hand into her cloak pocket but stopped herself just short of drawing her wand. Peter replaced James in restraining Sirius, and James turned to the Slytherins, a look of pure authority and control on his face.
“Clear out, you lot. There won’t be a fight here. Not today.”
Regulus smirked and laughed mockingly, a sound that his cronies imitated, as the surrounding crowd murmured their disappointment.
“What’s the matter Potter? Not man enough for your woman, and now not man enough for a little duel either?”
Lily sucked in a furious breath and stamped down the urge to push her way through the other students and hex the smug look off of Regulus Black’s face. She didn’t know the exact story of the Black brothers, but she knew that Regulus wasn’t a lot like Sirius. Not in the ways that counted.
She watched as James clenched his jaw. Lily realized that she had moved around the crowd, which had parted slightly as soon as they saw her, and she could see everything, even Ivy and Amelia who stood near the front, their wands low.
Sirius was still struggling against Remus and Peter, who were having a hell of a time restraining him, and James was outwardly unarmed against half a dozen Slytherins with wands pointed menacingly at him. Lily wanted to scream at him to take out his wand, to do something, anything. But she stood, frozen.
James eyed the group of green-and-silver-clad boys, judging whether they would attack him, and whether he had enough time to whip out his wand.
Suddenly, the hall was filled with the loud din of the Slytherins shooting hexes furiously towards the marauders. James quickly extracted his wand from his pocket, and deflected a few of the jinxes. Ivy, Amelia, and Alice stepped in front of the other students and cast shield charms for him from their angles, but they didn’t see what Lily did. They didn’t see him.
The Slytherin 6th year was obscured by several Hufflepuff underclassmen, just behind Alice’s shoulder. Before Lily could react, he shot out a nonverbal hex and hit James square in the back. James’ eyes widened for a moment, his body stiffened, and his wand slipped from his grasp. He slumped to the stone floor, his body convulsing frighteningly.
The bell rang, but no one took notice, as they watched the Head Boy writhing on the floor violently.
Lily pushed roughly through the circle, and threw herself across his body, attempting to hold him still. She cast her eyes wildly about before finding the girls, who stood shocked into immobility.
“Don’t just stand there!” She screamed helplessly. “Somebody go get a professor!”
The six of them waited wordlessly outside of the infirmary. Alice, Amelia and Peter sat on a bench, staring unseeingly at the wall directly before them, while Sirius paced up and down the corridor. Ivy and Remus stood tensely, side by side, watching him. Then Ivy turned to Remus, who inhaled slowly before turning his head stiffly to look back down at her.
How much do you hate me? She desperately wanted to ask, and she hoped that his answer wasn’t more than she hated herself at that moment. It was like he read her thoughts, because in one swift motion, he grabbed her hand and squeezed. Remus’ head twitched side to side for a moment, and she realized that he was shaking his head. Ivy willed him to not let go of her hand, and he didn’t, but squeezed again.
Just then the doors opened, and their hands separated as they all jumped to attention. Professor Dumbledore swept out of the hospital wing, and he turned to them. They all breathed a sigh of relief when a small smile graced his lips.
“You will all be glad to know that Mr. Potter will be just fine. Madam Pomfrey has managed to determine the spell that Mr. Bole used, and luckily had the necessary remedies in her possession. He will spend the night in the hospital wing. Miss Evans has been given a calming draught, and will spend the night as well.”
They all sagged in relief at the Headmaster’s words, and began insisting that they be allowed to see their friends, but he held up his hand.
“It is already quite late, and I have allowed you to remain out of bed far longer than usual. You may visit Mr. Potter and Miss Evans in the morning. That is final,” he said softly, but his tone allowed for no disobedience.
They all nodded dejectedly and made to leave, but Sirius refused to budge.
“Sir? He inquired. “About Bole–”
“I assure you, Mr. Black, that he and the rest of the students in Slytherin house involved in the fight have been dealt with by your very own Head of House. There was no stopping her, really,” he added with a wink, and Sirius grimaced half-heartedly. He allowed himself to be pulled away, and they made the long trek to Gryffindor Tower silently.
Shortly before they reached the Fat Lady’s portrait, Peter suddenly stopped.
“What’s the matter, Peter?” Alice asked apprehensively.
“We shouldn’t tell them.”
“What?” Ivy asked uncertainly.
“We shouldn’t tell them what we did,” Peter said, shaking his head. He looked up at them with a resolute look in his eyes. “If we tell them what we did, they’ll never forgive us.”
“But–” Amelia began to protest, but Remus cut her off.
“No. He’s right,” he nodded. “We need to promise one another, right here, right now, that we will never tell them what we did. There’s no telling what harm the truth will cause.”
Sirius sighed heavily.
“I don’t like keeping secrets from Prongs, but this is for his own good. And Evans’, as well.”
They all stared grimly at one another, and began nodding their heads, wordlessly promising that they would take the plan and its details to their graves.
Lily slowly blinked her eyes open to the dim light of dawn, but she shot up in bed, frantic to find herself in unfamiliar surroundings. Then she realized that she was in the hospital wing, the curtains around her bed drawn on one side, and she relaxed against the pillow. She concentrated on how she had come to be there, and gasped when she remembered James.
Lily wrenched the blankets from her body and threw her legs over the side. She stood up and bit back a groan as she put weight on her legs, sore from sleeping in the same uncomfortable position all night. She ignored the cold that permeated her socks and left her shoes off as she shuffled silently around the curtain. She saw a bed with the curtains fully drawn and walked resolutely towards it. Lily put a hand on the curtains, hesitating for only a moment before slipping inside.
She knew that he had been hexed somehow, and briefly remembered when she heard Madam Pomfrey’s frantic whispers to Professor McGonagall about not knowing what was wrong with him, but nothing prepared Lily for the iron fist that grabbed her heart and squeezed it mercilessly as she watched James lying motionlessly in his bed. He looked grey in the early morning’s sunless light, and his hair laid flat against his forehead.
Lily perched herself cautiously on the chair beside James’ bed, and unconsciously reach a hand up to push his bangs away from his eyes. She wished he would open his hazel eyes perform the act himself. She bit her lip and sobbed. Lily gasped, and touched her fingers to her cheek, only to realize that tears were streaming heedlessly out of her eyes.
James could hear, but he couldn’t open his eyes. Something was wrong. His initial instinct was to fight against whatever it was, but his limbs refused to listen. He couldn’t move. Panic began to settle in, but then he felt a cold little hand slip into his, and he wondered exactly where he was and who was holding his hand. Then he heard the sob. It sounded so raw and pure, and familiar. Lily, the name floated through his mind. He wanted to reach out and hold her, comfort her. Why was she crying? Where were they? Why was she with him? He struggled against whatever was keeping him immobile so that he could hold her, reassure her.
“I’m so sorry,” came the choked whisper.
Why was she sorry? What happened?
“I’m sorry I didn’t realize it sooner, James,” she continued, and pressed something moist against his hand. James realized belatedly that they were her lips, and that he could feel her tears on his skin. And did she really just call him James? What was she realizing? He felt her tiny palm press against the left side of his face, and her warm breath against his opposite ear.
“I promise, James, if you get better, I promise that I will say it. I will. Just please don’t go anywhere without knowing that I think I love you.”
Lily pressed another wet kiss to his temple, and before James could process what had just happened, she was gone.
A/N: Double Author’s Note! Yeh-yayuh! Sorry, ignore me. I’m on vacation, having a blast with friends, and I am way too excited to be coherent. I just thought I would seize this opportunity to update while everyone else is passed out, hahaha.
Please let me know what you thought of this chapter. I’m not sure if it’s up to my previous standards or not, and I’m relying on you to keep me in line. *stern finger point* ;)
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