There are very few things that appeal to me about going to Hogsmeade. That is not to say that I do not enjoy a visit to Honeydukes or a butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks. I just don't find it that exciting a thing.
Exploring places with secrets on the other hand, that is something that can hold my interest.
Mary didn't seem so thrilled at first by my suggestion to spend a couple of hours around a haunted building. She probably would have preferred to head straight to the Three Broomsticks, like every other normal person would.
Still, she agreed albeit reluctantly, because Lily did and because she realised that we still had the rest of the day ahead of us to do whatever we pleased.
It was snowing lightly as we reached the village's entrance and took the left turn that would lead us to the Shrieking Shack. The weather was cold but there was no wind, so that we could hear the sound of our own footsteps sinking into the snow as we walked.
When the Shack came into view, the three of us slowed our pace until we stopped before the metal gate.
I pretended to consider the eerie bulding for a few moments before I finally spoke.
"Lets go round the back."
Mary took a step back.
"What? No!" she exclaimed. "We can view it just fine from here."
So much for Gryffindor bravery.
"There's nothing new here," I said. "Everybody gets to see the front. If there was anything here people would've already discovered it."
"I didn't realise we were looking for something."
I didn't even spare her an answer.
I only cared what Lily had to say, and I knew Lily wouldn't object to anything as long as we didn't break any rules. And to my knowledge, there are no rules prohibiting taking a look around, or even inside, the Shrieking Shack. It is the people that are too scared to do it.
I knew Lily was following me as I started walking around the building. Just as I knew she heard the same voices I did, before we could even turn the corner.
"It's an honour."
Both Lily and I stopped where we were.
"You should feel honoured that you were selected, Black."
My insides clenched at the sound of that name.
A run-in with Sirius Black was the last thing I wanted at the moment.
The voice I heard was familiar, yet not the one I expected.
It was Black alright, just not the Black I'd thought it was.
"When can I join?" Regulus asked.
Lily drew in a surprised breath and I could tell the exact moment that the men realised they were not alone.
It was a tough spot.
We couldn't move without making any more noise, so we just stood there motionless sharing a look of horror and hoping they wouldn't come looking. This was a haunted building after all. It was supposed to produce random noises at unexpected moments.
"So, did you find whatever it was you were searching for?"
If the Death-Eaters didn't kill us first, I was going to murder Mary with my bare hands.
That was what I was thinking, when two hooded men came around the corner with Regulus Black trotting behind them.
Lily and I drew out our wands. Mary let out a scream, tripped and fell down on the snow.
"That's Iris Avery," Regulus told the Death-Eater who was pointing his wand at me.
"The other two?"
Mary cried again as she struggled to get up.
"Go! Call help!" I yelled at her.
I heard her feet hitting the snow as she ran away, but then the first spell was cast and I could hear no more. It was as if all sound had ceased to exist. I could only watch as everything happened too fast and in slow motion at the same time.
The two Death-Eaters were firing spell after spell, each and every one directed at Lily, while Lily and I were casting every protective spell that we could think of and Regulus was looking frantically around, throwing a disarming charm every once in a while.
We weren't going to win. It was all we could do to even defend ourselves.
Lily was already on her knees on the snow, trying to hold her own, while I had a deep gash in my hand and blood covering my fingers as I tried to cover it and keep fighting with my other hand.
That was how things stood when Black and Potter walked into the scene.
They started firing curses at the men in the black cloaks but there was no need. Not five seconds into their arrival the Death-Eaters turned on the spot and disapparated.
Aparrently, a fight is not fair only when it is unfair for them.
Potter rushed to Lily's side, his face a paler colour than hers.
But that was the least of my concerns.
My attention was turned to the two brothers, who were facing each other in silence. Black was looking murderous as he glared at Regulus, who was just standing there, too stunned by the recent events to be able to form any words. Judging by the hateful look in Black's eyes, they were a crime waiting to happen.
In the end, it was Regulus who prevented such an incident by simply leaving.
He didn't run. He just started walking away, his steps unsure, his head turning back every now and then to look at his older brother.
Only when he was no longer in sight, did Black finally turn to me.
He gave me the once-over, his eyes zeroing on the cut in my hand that was still bleeding.
"Avery, are you all-?"
"Fine," I said curtly and looked away.
I am not weak, I wanted to scream. I don't know why you have to see me at my weakest, but I'm not weak.
I turned towards Lily, who was now standing up with Potter's help.
"I'm okay," she reassured me.
I was not.
Never mind that deep gash in my skin. It was my pride that hurt more than anything.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who has left a review :) Your comments really do help me improve the story.
On another note, I'd really love it if someone could make me a banner! *being hopeful*