The first few weeks of school passed in a blur of teachers reminding us of the hard work they expected us to put in for our examinations, and countless letters to and from Marlene. She couldn’t put much of substance into the letter, Order related topics were top secret anyway, but I would have liked to know just how much danger she was in every day. She’d promised to meet up, anyway, for my first Hogsmeade trip, and I couldn’t wait for October to come so I could see her and Grace.
Regulus didn’t stop pestering me every History of Magic lesson, and it infuriated me to no end. I’d hardly gotten any notes down in the past few weeks because he was always muttering underneath his breath to me, his words full of sarcasm as he tried to wind me up. Surprisingly, I managed to ignore it, and this week he’d actually begun to be slightly pleasant.
We’d only had one or two conversations, but it was enough for him to think I was perfectly fine with his endless stares in my direction. If I ever sat opposite the Slytherin table I’d be forever catching his eye as I ate, and even if I wasn’t facing him, whether it was in the Great Hall or during our other lessons, I always felt his eyes on the back of my neck. I was surprised none of his Slytherin friends had noticed him doing it, but I supposed they weren’t exactly the most observant people. Regulus struck me as a bit of a thoughtful person anyway, so him staring off into space probably wasn’t a new thing for his friends.
“Why is Regulus Black staring at you?” Lucy asked casually over lunch one day and I immediately panicked, spluttering into my pumpkin juice.
“He does it all the time” she explained casually. “He’s always looking at you” she frowned, looking away from the Slytherin table and raising her eyebrows at me. “You don’t think he’s interested in you, do you?”
“I don’t think so, Lucy” I managed a shaky laugh. “Maybe it’s a sinister look, I mean all the Slytherins know who I am and what my family and friends do.”
“It’s not that sort of look though” Lucy glanced over to Regulus again. “He’s sort of… smirking, as if he finds you amusing.”
“I don’t know, Lucy” I shrugged. “I doubt he’s actually looking at me.”
“Take a look for yourself” she urged me. “His eyes are right on you.”
Shiftily, I peered over my shoulder to the Slytherin table, my eyes immediately clocking Regulus’ smirk in its usual spot halfway down the table. I blushed as his smirk widened when he caught me looking, and I hastily turned back around, my eyes on the wooden surface of the table.
“Told you” Lucy nodded her head, a wry smile on her face.
“Don’t be smug” I muttered. “It’s probably just a coincidence.”
“What?!” her eyes widened in annoyance. “It was definitely not, merlin Addie…”
“Peter’s looking at you again” I interrupted her, and smirked as she whipped her head around to meet her admirers gaze. “You should go and talk to him.”
“I think I should too” Lucy smiled, thankfully distracted from our conversation about Regulus. “Shall I go now?”
“Yeah” I nodded eagerly. “I have to go to the library, anyway…” I took a final sip of pumpkin juice. “Good luck!”
I smiled as I watched Lucy pat her hair and check her reflection in her goblet before clambering off the bench and walking towards a dumbstruck Peter Maynard.
As I entered the library I immediately headed towards the back section, in search of a History of Magic textbook of some sort to brush up on the topics Regulus’ chatter had made me miss in lessons.
“I saw you staring at me during lunch, McKinnon.”
I groaned, whirling around and glaring at his familiar smirk. “What is it with you and following me around, Black?”
“Interest” he replied coolly, stepping towards me and leaning against the dusty bookshelf. “So, why were you staring?”
“It was one glance” I replied stiffly. “Because my friend was pestering me about you staring at me.”
“What, your Mudblood friend?”
“Shut up” I growled, stepping towards him purposefully and pointing my wand to his neck. “Don’t you dare call her that.”
A small line appeared between Regulus’ eyebrows, the only expression on his relaxed face and he rested his fingertips on the edge of my wand, lowering it with dark eyes. “You don’t want to be pointing your wand at me McKinnon.”
“Say something like that again, Black, and I’ll hex your balls off.”
“Inventive” he smirked, quirking his eyebrows and leaning back against the bookshelf on my other side. “But she is one, so I don’t see why you’re getting so defensive.”
“She’s not you idiot” I muttered. “Not that it matters, but she’s a half-blood like me.”
“I’ve heard she lives with Muggles.”
“Don’t talk about things you don’t understand Black, I am so close to hexing you…”
“Alright, fine” he rolled his eyes. “Friends aren’t a topic we’re allowed to discuss.”
“Neither is family” I replied in monotone, before stepping away from him with wide eyes. “Not that we’re discussing anything… because we’re not. I’m not interested in talking to you.”
“But you are talking to me.”
“Technically, yes” I deliberated. “But I don’t want to.”
“I find you quite interesting, you know…” he paused for a moment, watching me skim through the pages of a large book. “I’m not quite sure why, though.”
“Because you’d get in trouble with your friends if they knew you talked to me?”
“Oh, no” Regulus shook his head with a rueful smile. “I’m much more talented than them, they couldn’t hurt me.”
“But others could” I murmured, glancing upwards into his dark eyes. “If word got around… it could hurt a lot of people.”
“Well, we don’t get caught then, do we?” Regulus compromised coolly and I shook my head at him, balancing a book underneath my arm as I stepped into the lighter part of the library.
“You make it sound like we have… something” I pursed my lips. “We don’t have anything to be caught doing… so stop talking to me.”
“And they said Gryffindor’s were meant to be brave…” Regulus muttered teasingly, melting back into the shadows as I left our corner and approached Madame Pince to check my book out.
The next week consisted of me avoiding any areas where Regulus would be likely to corner me, so I mainly stuck to spending every minute with Lucy or in the Gryffindor common room. Lucy seemed to be spending an increasing amount of time with Peter, which was nice, but I was getting a little bit lonely now that I realised I didn’t have many people to spend my time with, now that Lily, Mary and the Marauders had left Hogwarts.
He still stared at me, throughout all our meals, and there was a hint of annoyance in his voice every time he muttered a comment to me during our History of Magic lessons. I didn’t talk to him once, for all I knew one of the Ravenclaws might have some connections with a Slytherin, and if anybody found out about us talking, there’d be trouble for the both of us.
Not that I cared about Regulus getting any trouble, it was his fault after all, but I didn’t want to put Marlene in any unnecessary danger, or Lucy. I also didn’t want any of the Order hearing about it, I can only imagine how suspicious Alastor Moody would get about how trustworthy I was if I was talking to Slytherins, and Sirius would be disgusted that I was talking to his brother.
They announced our Hogsmeade the week before the first Saturday of October, and I wrote Marlene the date, eagerly waiting her reply. I was desperate to see her and Grace so we could talk properly over a Butterbeer or two.
On the Thursday I got her reply at breakfast, and opened it eagerly, ignoring Lucy’s mutterings as she read about some fashion shop opening in Diagon Alley.
I’m so sorry, but I can’t make this Saturday. I’ve got things on, things that I really can’t reschedule; I know you’ll understand what I mean. Dorcas offered to come up and see you with Grace, but she’s come down with some sort of flu, I think she’s been spending too much time in the cold weather recently. I really wish I could come, darling, I’m desperate to see you and make sure everything’s alright, and I haven’t seen Lucy in a while either!
We’ll have to wait until Christmas I’m afraid, but don’t worry; I’ll have most of the holidays off so we can spend every day together. Lily and all the boys send their love, as well as Dorcas obviously. They all want to know how many boys you’ve snogged so far this year. I hope it’s not too many.
Lots of love, hugs and kisses and please behave,
Marlene, Grace and David x
To say I was disappointed was an understatement, I’d been looking forward to seeing them all so much. But of course I understood why Marlene couldn’t reschedule, Order related things were more important than me, and I just hoped she wasn’t on duty for something especially dangerous.
“What’s up?” Lucy asked, noting my downcast expression. I passed her the letter, resting my chin on my hand and spooning another load of porridge into my mouth.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Addie. That’s really shit.”
I nodded slowly, before shrugging and swallowing my food. “Oh well, I’m sure we’ll have a nice time anyway.”
“Oh… Addie” she bit her lip, a guilty expression on her face and I instantly knew what was coming. “I’m sorry, Peter asked me to go with him… you can come with us if you want, I’m sure he won’t mind!”
“No! No, Luce, thanks, but I really don’t want to intrude on your date” I smiled. “After all, Peter’s being waiting for this opportunity for a while.”
She blushed, shooting me an apologetic look and I waved it away with an airy hand. “Don’t worry, honestly” I assured her. “I’ll just walk down quickly, get a quill or two and some chocolate and then head back up to the castle. I didn’t need anything else anyway.”
“You sure?” Lucy bit her lip. “You could join us for a Butterbeer or two if you want?”
“No, honestly, thank but no thanks” I grinned. “I might have a scout of available men anyway, Marlene reminded me that I haven’t actually snogged anyone since July, which is sort of sad.”
Lucy rolled her eyes at me, a giggle escaping her lips as she tossed the Daily Prophet to me. “Read it in your free, you might find it interesting.”
She stood up as the bell went, and waved to me before heading off to her Ancient Runes class. I still had absolutely no idea why she took the subject, but she said she enjoyed it, and she said it reminded her of one of two Muggle subjects she used to study at her primary school.
I hastily ascended the stairs to the Gryffindor tower, to avoid being cornered by Regulus, or frankly any bored Slytherins lingering around the castle during their free period. I wasn’t scared of the Slytherins, but I’d promised Marlene I’d stay out of trouble, and I wasn’t really interested in a duel at this time in the morning.
Settling myself into one of my favourite armchairs by the fire, I ignored the Charms essay that I’d planned to write and instead pulled out the Daily Prophet, scanning it for anything interesting that Grace had hinted at.
I found what I was looking for on pages ten and eleven, frowning as a picture of my father’s familiar face swam into view. Marlene would probably be biting back a few tears when she read this, and then racing over to St Mungo’s to ensure my mother didn’t see his picture, but I was past all that. I only had fond memories of my father, but then, I hadn’t been there when it had happened, like my mother, or able to Apparate there if she’d known like Marlene.
Four years ago, the Wizarding World suffered one of their most brutal losses, Andrew McKinnon, aged 53 at his date of death. Mr McKinnon was a member of the Ministry’s Auror department, known for the many dangers he had faced and conquered during his time underneath Head Auror, Alastor Moody. He was murdered by several unidentified Death Eaters in his home, whilst his wife Dawn McKinnon, was forced to watch. The Daily Prophet requested an audience with Mrs McKinnon, to discuss how she felt on the recent identification of one of the Death Eater’s involved, Evan Rosier, but were not given admittance to meet with Mrs McKinnon who had been residing in St Mungo’s for the last four years with a case of extreme mental trauma. We were also unable to contact Mr McKinnon’s daughters, Marlene and Adrienne for their opinions on the matter. A month away from the anniversary of Mr McKinnon’s death, we can only hope that for the sake of his family Evan Rosier will be located and punished, which may bring a little solace to the broken family.
I wondered who’d written the article in a way that would quite obviously upset my family, and I wasn’t surprised when I spotted the name Rita Skeeter at the bottom of the short article. She’d only recently joined the Prophet, but she’d already got herself a name in the Wizarding World as a complete and utter nuisance, reporting gossip and other unnecessary subjects about the Ministry and its employees that caused trouble that they really didn’t need in such dangerous times.
I remembered my father’s death as if it were yesterday, being pulled out of my Care of Magical Creatures lesson in third year to be greeted with the news from Professor Dumbledore. They’d packed my things for me, and Marlene had come to collect me, although I hadn’t understood at the time why my mother hadn’t come. We’d apparated instantly to St Mungo’s and that’s when I’d been greeted by my insane, screaming mother. I hadn’t been allowed to see his body either, it was too gruesome a sight for an innocent thirteen year old who didn’t understand why he’d been murdered at all. Marlene had tried to explain, but she’d always ended up in tears, and soon enough I couldn’t sleep alone for fear of being haunted of nightmares containing my father watching as my mother screamed, her eyes rolling back into her head repeatedly.
I’d stayed with Marlene throughout the remainder of the term and to Christmas, and David had cared for the both of us as we grieved, not only the loss of my father but also of my mother. She’d been tortured into insanity from watching my father’s death, and she didn’t recognise us, not for a few years anyway. We hadn’t been allowed to see her, for every time she saw somebody that reminded her of her old life she would collapse in screams, her body shaking with sobs and paranoid tremors.
That Christmas had been the worst I’d experienced, half-heartedly opening presents before retreating to my bedroom for the rest of the day when Marlene began to sob in David’s arms. Since then we don’t mention the words father or mother too much, and it’s only been a recent development that we’ve been able to visit our mother. But her brains have been so addled that she can’t quite remember us, or understand who we are. But Marlene and I kid ourselves that she enjoys our visits.
Upon returning to school after Christmas was the time I’d really made friends with Lily Evans in the year above. She’d approached me one night, when I was sat silently staring into the fire beside Lucy, and had been brave enough to express how sorry she was, and offered her company whenever I needed it. Lucy had quickly accepted Lily’s help, and soon Mary MacDonald, one of Lily’s closest friends, had introduced herself and we’d soon become rather close friends. Following Lily’s example, or most likely in a way to impress her, James Potter employed all of his efforts and the remainder of the Marauders’ too, to make me laugh and smile again. It hadn’t impressed Lily much at the time, but I’d appreciated it, and Remus’ kind words all those years ago had been the beginning of Lucy’s unrequited crush.
I sighed, I missed them all so much, now that it was only Lucy and I left at Hogwarts whilst they were all out there risking their lives. Wiping away a few stray tears, I dug out a quill and parchment and proceeded to scribble down a reply to Marlene.
I didn’t mention the Prophet article, I knew she found it easier to console in David about our family matters, as she was scared to upset me, and I’d seek out Lily over Christmas to discuss it if I felt the need. It was the only rift between Marlene and I, our parents’ fate, as we both spent all of our time desperately trying to protect one another.
But it would never change, because that’s what we’d always done, and always would continue to do.
Thanks to all of those who have been reading! I'd really appriciate some reviews, just so I can get some idea of what people think! Also, a banner will be coming soon (hopefully) but nobody on tda has responded to my request yet! :( Anyway, hope you enjoyed and seeing as this is my only WIP now I'll be updating as regularly as possible! :)