I truly hope everything is going wonderfully at Hogwarts (if it wasn’t, I’m sure the Cards would have told me). I have been busy with Omo preparing for Samhain Lore, my favorite holiday, you know. If you would like, I can send you some of my Thought-Seed Crackers, I know how much you love them. Your father will not be partaking of course, because he does not believe in “that spooky mumbo-jumbo.” I am always asking the Mother why I married this man. Did you know he threw out my turnip lights? Oh well, they were getting a bit old, I suppose.
He sends his love, and says good luck in your first Quidditch match. We will try to attend, since I may have business in Hogsmeade. I love you, you fabulous daughter. May the Mother watch over you.
Blessed be, my darling.
There was no sight more welcome than her mother’s crooked, messy cursive that Monday morning. Included in the parcel was a dream catcher her mother had woven. It was one of those times Isabelle did not doubt her mother’s clairvoyance. Isabelle had continued to have increasingly bad dreams over the weekend.
Beneath her mother’s signature was a hastily scribbled Quidditch play. She could almost hear her father describing the play excitedly. Even without his explanation, she understood what he had envisioned.
It truly made her miss home.
The term was passing faster than she could have imagined. Even without Cameron and Riley occupying the majority of her time, Isabelle was incredibly busy. If she had been spending her free time with them, she probably would have been getting T’s on every assignment. But they hardly even acknowledged Isabelle’s presence anymore. She was a spirit, long lost and forgotten. She did not matter anymore.
She felt like Blake and Cameron were flaunting themselves more than usual. She did not understand how Cameron felt like she had won some sort of victory by dating him. Blake did not want to be with her, he was not a trophy. Riley had been seen with Scott Zinn, a Slytherin seventh year. She had never had a boyfriend before, and their almost-relationship reeked of Cameron’s doing.
Isabelle couldn’t help but see Riley as someone who still needed her protection. She was still her innocent little friend who needed sexual terms explained to her, who hadn’t kissed a boy until Isabelle and Cameron had engineered it last year. She hoped Scott was being nice to her. And then Isabelle had the sickening thought that Cameron had probably already encouraged Riley to sleep with him.
As for her replacement, Bryn Oswald, Isabelle had caught her pining after Lawrence Greene. He did not return this looks. Lawrence never had an eye for younger, attainable girls. He was always one for the chase. Walt Noll, the last member of Isabelle’s former group, would have been the other option for her to pursue.
Out of the two of them, Walt was easily more attractive. Isabelle considered how Riley, Cameron, and Blake would react if she slept with Walt—or Lawrence, they were interchangeable. It would definitely cause a scandal. It would remind them that she was not content to lie down and disappear from their lives.
She would keep it in mind.
She waved at Sirius and James as they entered the Great Hall. James looked disapprovingly at Sirius as he took the seat next to Isabelle. James took the seat across from them. Lily Evans saw James, and quickly engaged him in conversation about prefect duties.
“So what’s this then,” Sirius held up the dream catcher and examined it.
Surprisingly, it was easier than expected to act normal around Sirius. Isabelle had kissed plenty of people without exaggerating its significance: Walt, Lawrence, Kale, even Cameron once. Sirius was no different. It meant nothing. Even the electric pulse she had felt coming from him that night had stopped.
The dreams about him had not.
“Well, my mum is kind of insane. I guess you could say she is like a Wicca. She’s all into Tarot cards, astronomy, incense, and whatever. I never really believed in it, but sometimes she just knows things that I never told her. It’s weird, but it’s not bullshit.”
“No, I’ve seen her shop in Diagon. It looks cool, but I’ve never been inside…unlike someone I know,” Sirius gestured to James.
Isabelle laughed. “Oh I know, I was there.”
“No!” He exclaimed. She nodded, much to Sirius’ delight. “Oh, that is bloody brilliant. You have just made my day.”
“What has?” The gap in James’ conversation with Lily gave him enough time to catch Sirius’ last comment. Both he and Lily were looking at Isabelle and Sirius now.
“Nothing, Pres was just showing me her weird stick-feather thing. Cool, huh?” He shook the dream catcher again.
“What is that thing?” James said, curious.
Suddenly embarrassed and not wanting to tell everyone about her nightmares, she tried to take it back. But Lily chimed in before she could say that it was nothing and hide it away.
“It’s a dream catcher. They are Native American in origin, not something wizards make. It’s beautiful, Isabelle, who made it for you?”
“A dream catcher?” Sirius said, nudging Isabelle and raising his eyebrows. James coughed.
“My mom made it for me. She spent some time in America a few years back and came back with a lot of cool new remedies and stuff.”
“Yeah I love her store, it is so earthy and natural. It makes you remember that there was magic before wands,” Lily sounded a lot less stuck up when she wasn’t answering a question in class.
“There was?” James asked, his mouth full of toast.
“Of course there was,” Lily scoffed. “Wand magic wasn’t always around, did you pay attention at all in History of Magic? How do you think other magical creatures are magical?”
“I dunno, I never thought about it. Spent most of History of Magic catching up on my sleep.”
“Well, let me explain it to you.”
James hung on her every word, as if she was the greatest teacher in the universe.
While they were engaged in their lesson, Sirius pushed the dream catcher back over to Isabelle. “I hope it helps,” he said.
“Thanks, me too.”
“I feel like you have been avoiding me,” Ari Yaxley said in Ancient Runes later that afternoon. Isabelle was forced to sit next to him, something she had managed since the first class. Ursula and Jay scowled at Ari; their dislike matched Isabelle’s.
“Now why would I do that?” She flipped her hair behind her with the flick of her hand, a nervous reaction.
Ari shrugged. He leaned into her as she sat, in order not to be heard by prying ears. “Maybe you’re intimidated by me.”
His laugh was a hiss. “Most girls like guys who are a little,” he paused, “dangerous.”
“You’re dangerous?” Isabelle challenged, not caring if Jay or Ursula overheard.
His answer was lost as Professor Kallisto entered and began the lesson. Ari was not paying attention, his eyes were fixed on Isabelle. He grabbed his quill:
When am I going to see drunk Isabelle again. I like her much better than sober Isabelle.
He passed the note so subtlety Isabelle almost didn’t realize that there was a piece of parchment in front of her with neat handwriting that did not belong to her. She rolled her eyes at him. And tried to think of something clever to respond. Her loopy script looked like a child’s next to his—she may as well have dotted her I’s with hearts.
Drunk Isabelle doesn’t come out for just anyone. She is selective.
Now she was ignoring the lesson, waiting for his response.
Will she come out tonight? For me?
Ari apparently missed the transformation from wild Isabelle to responsible, studious Isabelle. It’s a Monday She answered when the parchment came back to her.
Ari did not even try to disguise his scoff as a cough. He sucked on the end of his quill. Has that ever stopped you before?
Isabelle shook her head ‘no’ playfully. She hadn’t realized how much she missed flirting with boys.
Ari wasn’t going to quit so easily. Meet me later tonight. Little get together in Slytherin’s common room.
This was beginning to get tempting. She felt her mouth pulling up into a smile, she bit her lips to hide her desire to say yes.
Ari looked up from the note to watch her reaction. He was smart, he knew this would cause ripples in Hogwarts’ gossip pool. He was probably as bored as she was with the way everything was going. It was supposed to be their final year, their year of glory. It was time to make Hogwarts exciting again. He mouthed ‘Yes’ to her, and she could not stop her smile from showing all of her teeth.
“Okay,” she whispered, and a flash of triumph crossed his eyes.
It was 9:00 and Isabelle’s hands were shaking as she did her makeup. She was nervous, and for good reason. What she was doing was stupid and rash; it would not accomplish anything, and was definitely going to end badly. Her eyes were lined and shadowed, her cheeks bronzed and blushed, her lips tinted and glossed, and her eyebrows were tweezed and tamed. She had braided her hair after showering, and now it was curly and wild. She was in a black dress with lace sleeves that did not leave much up to the imagination, and she accessorized with an amethyst medallion and black boots with a heel.
It was an outfit that would have given her parents strokes. She looked like vampire bait—or Slytherin bait. She wanted to be eyed and wanted by every man in the Slytherin common room, gay, straight, or prepubescent.
“Someone’s getting dolled up,” Tanya Baker said. She was also reapplying her makeup for a night in Gryffindor’s common room.
“More like slutted up,” Olga laughed. Isabelle knew she did not mean it derisively. Apparently where she was from ‘slut’ was a compliment. “You better get out of here before Lily gets back, you’ll never be able to outrun her in those boots.”
“Are you going out?” Tanya said.
Tanya and Olga were Lily’s mates, but they never hated Isabelle. Quinn and Colby were the ones with grudges against her, not them. They had both been at the party at Hogsmeade, and Isabelle’s quick thinking with Quinn made them like her all the more. She was nice—distant, but nice.
“This year has just been so…anticlimactic. I keep expecting something exciting to happen, but it hasn’t,” Isabelle said. A few unexpected moments in the past month could not satisfy her need for excitement, it was something she needed to go out and take.
“I know what you mean. I’ve been so busy with work I haven’t even had a good snog in weeks,” Olga said.
“Amen,” came Tanya’s reply.
“So I’m going out, and I’m going to find some excitement.” Isabelle grabbed her gold clutch, containing her necessities. “See you later, ladies,” she said.
The common room was packed, and heads turned as she strutted towards the portrait hole. She loved strutting in heels. It was exactly the reaction that she wanted: nudges, stolen glances, and whispers.
“Holy Moley,” Peter Pettigrew said. “Look at Isabelle Preston.” And so the members of his table looked: Sirius, James, Remus, Chase, and Kale all took in the sight of her.
“You’re Head Boy, aren’t you supposed to stop her or something?” Sirius growled, not liking the way she was flaunting herself about. She was exiting through the portrait hole.
“Huh?” James mouth had dropped open. He had never seen Isabelle looking like that before. Wow.
“It’s past curfew. She’s not just going for a stroll in a get-up like that,” Sirius said, hoping to cast some reason to his friends with authority. “You’re Head Boy, you’re a prefect. She’s breaking the rules. Stop her!”
“Oh yeah,” James remembered. But it was too late.
She was gone.
She had been to the Slytherin common room more times than she could count. She spent more time there last year than in her own House’s common room. She had always been a welcomed guest. Her reception was surely not going to be so warm on this visit.
Isabelle wished that she had been able to have a drink before meeting Ari; a drink would have calmed her nerves.
“Hi,” Ari came out of the shadows just before the entrance to Slytherin’s common room. They had planned the meeting place, but he startled her nonetheless. “You look…nice.”
He looked ‘…nice’ too. He was wearing a dark, button up shirt that contrasted with his slightly pale skin. Alone with him in this dark dungeon-like place, he did radiate a certain element of danger. Though she could not see the color of his eyes in the light, they were bright and she could tell that his lashes were long. He had over half a foot on her, even in her heels, and though he was slight she knew he was strong.
“We are about to make certain people very angry, half-blood,” he was so close she could smell him. He was fresh and intoxicating. He seemed to be breathing her in as well. “Are you ready?”
“Let’s do it.”
He took her by the hand, guiding her back into the life she once knew. If anyone in Gryffindor heard of this, she would lose any progress she had made with them. People had just stopped whispering “Slitherslut” and “Gryffinwhore” behind her back. She was sure Cameron had coined those nicknames.
“You might want to have some of this first.”
She did not see where Ari’s flask came from, and she did not ask what was in it. She took a generous swig, and grimaced as its contents burned her throat. As he was saying the password to the common room, she took another swig, capped the flask, and returned it to him. He was still holding her hand, and he pulled her inside.
The noise did not stop immediately as the entered, but people slowly stopped their conversations as Ari pulled Isabelle along, deeper into the throng of serpents. They hissed and spit at her as she walked past, but whatever was in Ari’s flask was providing a certain amount of protection against their hate.
The common room was just as she remembered it. Upperclass Slytherins were known bullies. After 9:00 only sixth and seventh years were allowed in the common room. It was the way it always had been. Romantic but eerie music played softly from somewhere; couples swayed to the music in each other’s embrace. She had had forgotten the effect of the glowing lake on the green and silver décor. Groups played games around the tables, and others held court around pillows they had thrown on the floor. A giant cauldron bubbled next to the fireplace, a secret recipe passed down from one class of Slytherins to the next. Guaranteed to make your night fabulous, it was a mixture of whatever liquor they could get their hands on, juices knicked from the kitchens, and sometimes a potion or two.
Ari handed her a goblet. “Cheers.”
She had finally caught the attention she had been waiting for. In a pack, Cameron, Riley, and Bryn circled Ari and Isabelle.
“What are you doing here?” Cameron said.
“Bit bold, Isabelle,” Bryn exclaimed. Isabelle could have swatted her like a mosquito.
Only Riley remained silent, but her arms were crossed and angry.
“She’s with me, actually.” Ari wrapped a long arm around her waist. Cameron had no jurisdiction over Ari. Being a wealthy pureblood brought a certain amount of privilege, even among Slytherins. His family could ruin hers in a matter of days if she crossed him. Ari was not used to being challenged, especially by petty girls like Cameron. He was Ari Yaxley, he had slept with girls and witches in every country. American girls, South American girls, French girls—they were all more fun than girls at Hogwarts. Isabelle, she could be some fun. She was already causing a ruckus. He should have gotten involved in the Hogwarts social sphere ages ago.
“Are you kidding? ” Cameron could not help herself. Ari Yaxley was taking Isabelle out on dates to parties in her common room? Why couldn’t she get rid of her? Every time Cameron thought Isabelle was gone for good, she reappeared like a cockroach. “Well have a great night,” she sneered, and as she pushed past them she knocked Isabelle with her shoulder.
When Cameron saw the two of them coming out of the kitchen at the party in Hogsmeade, she had spread the rumor that Isabelle had slept with some Slytherin and coined the nickname Slitherslut. The name stuck but the rumor did not. Hogwarts was small, and Slytherin was exclusive; people would have known if she had been with someone in the House. Cameron had also tried to make Ari like her; she made careful advances to him, hinting that she would give him a great night. But as always, he rejected any involvement in his House or class. He had always acted superior to them, but now he was here with Isabelle freaking Preston.
Well maybe now the rumors would stick, at least.
After Ari walked away during Cameron’s third attempt at conversation, she had gone to Blake and asked him—persuaded him—to be official with her. They were boyfriend and girlfriend now, and they were happy. But if he cheated on her with Isabelle Preston again, she was going to lose it. She kept him away from the Gryffindor common room as much as she could, and he ate meals with her, but now they were in the same room together and if he even looked at Isabelle, Cameron would claw her eyes out—even if she had to go through Ari Yaxley first.
Two cups of the cauldron juice later, and Isabelle was in a corner with Ari, Charles Selwyn, a beautiful girl named Katarina, and Sirius Black’s younger brother, Regulus. He certainly looked too young to be in the group, but he spoke like he was older than Isabelle.
“I don’t care what you lot say, when it comes down to it, blood is the only thing that will matter in the future. Who’s pure, and who isn’t. How else can we guarantee magic will be preserved. Muggles taint the blood, they cause Squibs, they—”
“Easy Regulus,” Ari said, lounging back on a large throw pillow. His arm was around Isabelle’s shoulder, and he held her against his body. “We all know your views on blood status.”
“Sooner or later, everyone will need to choose their side. Either for him, or against him.”
“Enough,” Ari’s tone commanded the younger boy. “This is not party conversation. And I know you want to ask Isabelle’s blood status, and who her parents are. But you are not going to. Tonight, we’re having fun.”
“Here, here,” Katarina said, her voice was smoky and sultry. She raised her goblet and drained it.
Isabelle did likewise. That fuzzy, floaty feeling was starting to creep up to her head. She could not help but smile and laugh; her drink was making her carefree and excitable.
“Do you need another drink?” Ari’s breath tickled Isabelle’s neck.
She leaned away, “I need to use the bathroom.” Isabelle slipped out of his grip, rising to her feet. It was getting late, and couples were pairing off; they were falling into dark corners, hidden by the dim light. Even so, those remaining had been watching Ari and Isabelle out of the corners of their eyes, trying not to look but not able to resist.
Blake and Cameron were two of these people, and as Isabelle ascended the stairs, Cameron sauntered over to meet Ari by the cauldron.
“You do not want to come between us. Her and I have unfinished business. You had no right to bring her here.” If Ari’s hands hadn’t clenched, Cameron would not have been sure he had heard her.
“It’s my House too, in case you forgot.” It was the longest sentence Ari had ever spoken directly to her. God he was sexy.
Cameron gulped, his closeness making her tingle. “You really shouldn’t turn your back on your own kind. She isn’t even a pureblood. I think we both know the witch you should be with right now.” The implication was set.
“Who, you?” His laugh stabbed her. He regarded her like he would an annoying child. Cameron waited for some explanation, for him to call her shallow, fake, or mean. But none came. Was she so base she didn’t even deserve to know his reasoning?
“Why is that funny?” Cameron snapped.
“It just…is,” Ari said, still watching the staircase that Isabelle had ascended. He was still watching when Cameron huffed and stormed away, back for her loving boyfriend.
Upstairs, Isabelle was coming out of her stall and had turned on the tap when someone entered the washroom.
Isabelle would recognize the voice of Riley Goodfellow anywhere.
“Riley wait,” Isabelle nearly screamed just before Riley could flee the room. The blonde hesitated in the doorway, and then reentered.
“Hey,” she said, shuffling her feet.
“I miss you,” Isabelle started. “I miss you so much, Riley.” She could feel the tears brimming in her eyes, even though the girl in front of her was a shadow of who Riley had been.
She had always been warm and kind, and it reflected in her face. She not only listened to anyone’s problems, she actually cared about them. Riley had always been Isabelle’s better half, Isabelle just wished that she had told her that—and often. But now Riley looked cold and hard. No longer sweet and innocent, she was…she was Cameron.
“You don’t miss me, Isabelle,” Riley said. She avoided Isabelle by checking her reflection in the mirror and pulling out lip tint. “You miss the idea of me. You miss having someone to boss around and follow after you like a lost puppy.”
“Riley, I never treated you like that. You’re my best friend.”
Isabelle knew she sounded pathetic and sad with her trembling voice. This was where Riley would have wrapped her arms around Isabelle and given her a tight and comforting hug that said: “Everything will be alright. You’re okay.” But no hug came.
“Ha! Please Isabelle, all you ever did was give me orders and expect me to obey your every command. You ditched me all the time for years, and when I finally do it to you, you just can’t take it. Cameron actually treats me like an equal, and you just didn’t like her because she was competition.”
It was exactly the way Isabelle felt, except in reverse. Cameron was the one who treated Riley like a minion, Cameron was the one who treated Isabelle like competition—not Isabelle. Riley had it all wrong.
Riley was changing before Isabelle’s eyes. “Don’t you see what she is doing to you? She’s not good for you.” Isabelle could not hide her sobs now.
“She is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have a boyfriend now, and I have friends. I’m popular. What did you ever do for me, Isabelle?”
“Scott just wants to fuck you, and your ‘friends’—well they’ll show their true colors when you actually need them. When you’re not just convenient. Trust me, I know.” Anger was overshadowing Isabelle’s tears.
“I’m not you, Isabelle. Cameron always said I was better than you, and now I finally believe her.” Riley was leaving, severing the conversation.
Isabelle could not let her have the final word: “Cameron will always choose herself over you, Riley. She only cares about herself.”
Riley stopped in the doorway, half in and half out. “Sounds like someone I know.”
“Give me that.” Isabelle was back down in the common room with a vengeance. She tore Ari’s goblet out of his hands and downed it in seconds. He looked impressed.
Ari always prided himself on his observance. Though she tried to hide it with makeup, Isabelle’s eyes were much more red than they were before she went to the bathroom.
Cameron and Riley were speaking in urgent whispers by the fireplace, going over every detail of Riley’s encounter with Isabelle. Isabelle stared at them; lately they had a special skill of making her feel pathetic and inadequate.
“They’re idiots,” Ari whispered in her ear. He handed her another goblet. As she drank, he continued. The combination of the draught and his voice warmed her body. “Cameron Harr is going to marry the first rich pureblood her family can snare. She will have a few brats, get fat, and be miserable. Your blonde friend over there will get an adequate job, she’s destined for mediocrity. You don’t belong with them.”
“D-Do you really think she’ll get fat?”
Again, that word ‘adorable’ was creeping back into Ari’s vocabulary. He tried to push the adjective out of his mind.
“You’re better than them, and she,” he pointed at Cameron with a finger decorated with a ring bearing a crest, “will definitely get fat. Now drink your drink. Tonight is supposed to be fun.”
“Well it is looking up, that’s for sure,” she said sweetly, and slurred.
Ari put his hand on her cheek. “I think drunk Isabelle has come out to play.”
One goblet later and Isabelle was around a table playing drinking game she had never played before. She kept forgetting the rules, but was giddy nonetheless. After her next, the Slytherin Keeper was trying to get her father’s contact information, but Isabelle was unhelpful since she insisted that the only languages she could speak were Parsletongue or Hebrew (“I can only speak snake…and Hebrew!”). The cauldron was empty now, and her final goblet found Isabelle leaning on rather than dancing with Ari Yaxley.
“Are you okay?” His lips brushed her ear and hair. Isabelle made a small noise and nodded.
“I should go soon, I have class in the morning.”
“Nuh-uh, not so fast. I can’t allow you to stumble back to Gryffindor common room at this hour. All by yourself. I wouldn’t be a very good date if I let you roam through the corridors. I would never forgive myself if something bad should happen to you.” His mock-sincerity was almost charming.
“What a good Samaritan you are,” Isabelle said.
“I think I’ll be okay,” Isabelle said. If only he would take his eyes off her, she would be able to focus.
“Stay here with me. I insist.” He pulled her closer into him. “You’ll like my bed.”
“I’m a bed-hog,” she warned, her voice a seductive whisper. She needed to stop this now, and go back to her own bed. Alone. Sleep it off, take a cold shower. Don’t do anything rash.
“I’m a good sharer.”
“You’re such a gentleman,” Isabelle breathed. Trying to sound sarcastic while barely daring to move her lips.
He brought his other hand to her cheek, letting his fingers weave into her thick locks. “I try.” The buildup was too great, he could not talk anymore. He needed to be kissing her now.
He pulled her face up and forced their lips to meet. She gasped into his mouth, but reciprocated without missing a beat. Her hand went up to the nape of his neck, and she pulled down on him. They met with mutual fierceness. Isabelle knew this was the epitome of bad decisions, but she pushed the thought away. She let her instincts take over, which soon proved to be yet another catastrophic choice.
She was in his bedroom, in his bed now. He was unbuttoning his shirt, and soon set his attention on Isabelle’s garment. He lazily waved his wand at the hangings around his bed, giving them privacy. He tossed his wand aside. Urgently, he refocused his attention on Isabelle. Their skin was burning, and he explored her body. She had forgotten about his roommates, about how she would handle this in the morning, and about how many rules she was breaking—social and school. All she cared about was his muscles, his satin sheets, and his breathless exclamations of “you are so beautiful,” and “you are amazing.”
The air around their bodies hummed with impatience, they would not allow a second of their time to be wasted. Though their bodies were unfamiliar terrain, they navigated one another like practiced veterans. In the dim light, Ari and Isabelle were silhouettes, gasping and writhing. She could almost forget that this was Ari whose bed she in, he could be anyone in the dark.
Everything was forgotten as Isabelle continued to push away the sickening thought that she would wake in the thick of Slytherin House on a Tuesday morning next to Ari Yaxley and be forced to sneak out while dressed like a trollop. It would all be okay because Hogwarts had suddenly become more interesting. It would all be okay because how could it not be when this dark figure was running his hands up her legs and whispering “I want you so bad.”
It would all be okay because for now, she felt beautiful, she felt amazing.
Do not fear! This is a Sirius/OC story for a reason, you will be getting more scenes with them soon, but I don’t want to rush the plot. I know it seems like Isabelle is getting sidetracked with these other OCs like Blake and Ari, but we all make mistakes—even fictional characters. Just stick with me, because I didn’t want to create one of those stories where Sirius notices a girl he had never paid attention to before and by chapter five they are in love and dating. Update coming soon! And, as always, review please :)