thanks for the up in reads and reviews, I'm getting back into the story now! Hope you enjoy this one, the next chapter or two focus a lot more around Adrienne and Sirius :)
The run up to the Christmas holidays was uneventful, and things went slightly back to normal for me. Peter and Lucy were at that stage where they were sort-of-together-but-not-really-because-he-hadn’t-asked-her, and Lucy was driving me nuts going on about him, but in a way I was thankful for the distraction.
The anniversary of my father’s death had passed with little drama, Marlene’s letter was a bit late and as I was reading it I got that feeling where I knew she wanted to mention it but she couldn’t, and Lucy was extra quiet that day. Lily sent me a letter… or a note really, to say she missed me, and that we’d talk at Christmas. I knew it was her way of saying she was there for me, and I appreciated it.
Regulus didn’t sit beside me in History of Magic anymore. He hadn’t so much as looked at me since that day in Hogsmeade, for which I was glad. He’d instead walked in and sat himself as far away from me as possible, a tense expression on his face as he took notes. I knew I shouldn’t have been watching him, but I wanted to know for definite that he wasn’t going to try anything… that whatever that kiss had meant it was all over.
I’d been tempted to tell Lucy, when she’d been asking whether I’d kissed any boys yet, but I’d lied to her instead. I don’t think Lucy would have coped well with it, and although I knew she wouldn’t have told anyone, I felt as if she might judge me for it. After all, her main priority in life was her family, she never spoke of the fact they were Muggles to anyone but Peter and I, as if speaking of them would tempt a Slytherin to go looking for them.
Professor McGonagall got a first year to ask me to visit her office this evening, as it was the last day of term and we would be leaving early tomorrow morning. I bid my goodbyes to Lucy, who was off to spend the evening with Peter in the Hufflepuff common room, and set off at a slow pace; avoiding all the routes I knew to be well travelled by Slytherins. It was getting late after all, dinner had been an hour or so ago, and there was the chance a few Slytherins could be hanging around, looking for trouble. Or worse, I’d pass by Regulus.
I knocked twice, and hesitantly pushed the door open at the resounding ‘come in’.
“Good evening, Miss McKinnon” Professor McGonagall smiled, her expression strained as she looked up to me approaching her desk.
“Good evening, Professor.”
“I asked you to my office this evening to make sure everything was going well for you” she glanced to me meaningfully. “Some of your other teachers have expressed their concern about your concentration this term.”
“I’m perfectly well, thank you” I nodded, a small smile that I hoped was convincing on my lips.
“I’ve heard that Mr Black was sitting next to you during your first few History of Magic classes, Miss McKinnon.”
“Oh” I swallowed nervously before continuing. “That’s, err… nothing to worry about, Professor.”
“Well, as you know, I do encourage house unity Miss McKinnon but I wanted to ensure he wasn’t giving you any… trouble” she gave me a meaningful look over the top of her glasses and I knew she wanted to know he wasn’t bothering me about the Order.
“No, Professor, I just sat in his seat from last year and he was trying to wind me up” I cleared my throat. “There’s nothing going on…err, nothing to worry about, I mean.”
“Are you sure, Miss McKinnon?”
“Quite sure, thanks Professor.”
“Very well, please do ensure your concentration in your lessons improves then, Miss McKinnon” she shot me a stern, special Head of House look and I tried not to smirk. “This is your final year, and NEWTs are extremely important for your future, despite the… current climate.”
“Of course Professor” I nodded, shooting her an eager smile and she pursed her lips at me.
“You may go then. Merry Christmas, Miss McKinnon.”
“And you, Professor” I smiled as I left her office and strode down the corridor, waiting until I was around the corridor before I stopped to lean against the wall, breathing deeply.
Was my concentration in lessons bad? I suppose I’d had a lot on my mind recently, thinking about Dad and worrying about Marlene, Grace, Lily and everyone else in the Order. But I couldn’t help but feel that Professor McGonagall had only called me in to warn me against talking to Regulus. She didn’t want me getting mixed up in things she thought I didn’t understand… Order-related things, obviously. But I was quite aware of the danger concerning Regulus and I talking, which is why I’d put a stop to it. If anybody knew we’d kissed… not that I’d kissed him back… but still. There’d be hell to pay if anybody found out. I knew that. Even he knew that.
The next morning consisted of Lucy running about the dorm in a mad rush whilst the other girls in our dorm, Millie and Florence, gossiped about Christmas, and how much they were looking forward to seeing their new, older boyfriends, whilst they glanced meaningfully to Lucy and I to make sure we knew they were dating wizards out of Hogwarts.
Millie kept rabbiting on about how sad it was they’d cancelled the Quidditch league after the Death Eater’s appearances at the last Magpies match, and how upset Ludo her boyfriend was. I desperately hoped for Millie’s sake that she wasn’t going out with Ludo Bagman, the new Beater for the Wasps, who was a complete and utter arse who was renowned for cheating on every single one of his girlfriends. Anyway, he was a bit too old for her, he’d gone out with Dorcas once for merlin’s sake, and she and Marlene were four years older than us.
I didn’t say anything though, if she thought she was clever going out with an idiot like him then let her. All he did was drink and gamble anyway.
“You don’t mind if we sit with Peter and his friends on the train do you, Addie?” Lucy fretted as we made our way down to the Entrance Hall. “He wants me to meet them all properly, and apparently one of his mates knows you? Amos Diggory?”
“Oh, yeah” I replied with a small smirk. “We had a thing last year.”
“A thing?” Lucy sniggered. “As in one of your broom closest things?”
“Yeah” I rolled my eyes at her. “Then he got a girlfriend, so you know.”
“Right… well, do you mind?”
“It’s fine Luce” I grinned. “Who knows, maybe Peter will ask you out today?”
“Oh, shut up” Lucy blushed, but couldn’t fight off her pleased smile at my words.
“Hey Addie” Amos winked when I settled myself down opposite him, beside Lucy.
“Hi Amos” I smiled politely, ignoring the compartment full of smirking boys who Amos had obviously told all about our rendezvous last year.
“How’ve you been? I haven’t seen you since July.”
“Yeah, well I haven’t really been socialising that much” I replied coolly. “Been a bit preoccupied… how about you? How’s your girlfriend?”
“Oh, I’m great” he grinned cheerfully. “And she’s my ex-girlfriend now… Amelia, that is.”
“Right, how come?”
“She was too interested in working and stuff” he grimaced. “You know me; books have never really been my thing.”
“No, you just got bored of her when she didn't want to snog you all the time” Peter interrupted with a smug grin. Lucy tittered, and his grin widened whilst I rolled my eyes.
“Yeah, well… she wasn’t anything special” Amos defended himself, and the other girl in the compartment, seated beside some boy I was fairly sure was called Mark, shot him an annoyed look. Amelia was obviously a friend of hers.
“That’s charming of you, Amos” I replied dryly, fishing a Witch Weekly out of my bag and flicking it open to a random page.
“I was only joking” Amos laughed boisterously and I ignored him, thankful when he turned his attention to the girl and his friend Mark beside him.
The rest of the train ride was completely boring, and I once again found myself missing the Marauders, who always seemed to find some trouble on the train to amuse all of us girls. Finally though, as the scenery became darker outside our surroundings became more busy, and we pulled into the station at around half past five.
“Ade!” was the first thing I heard as I clambered off the train, and I looked up to see a shrieking Marlene practically galloping towards me. “Merlin, it is so good to see you!”
“Hi Marls” I grinned happily, throwing my arms around her neck and hugging her tightly. “I missed you!”
“I know, I know” she babbled excitedly. “Come on, let’s get going, I left Grace with James and Sirius and I don’t trust them with my child.”
“Why’d you leave her with them?!”
“I had to collect you!” she replied earnestly as she flicked her wand at my trunk and sent it on to home. “Anyway, Lily was going to be there in two minutes!”
“Well… it’s your responsibility if Grace goes missing or something…” I teased as I grabbed her hand, waving to Lucy, who was kissing Peter by the train door and we apparated away together.
“It’s so good to be home” I inhaled the familiar smell deeply with a satisfied grin as soon as we appeared on the doorstep. Marlene and David had bought this cottage when Grace was born, and I’d lived with them ever since, and over the summer Lily, Mary and the Marauders had practically lived here too, as it seemed to be a firm Order base.
“I’ve got dinner cooking, Ade, thought I’d do lasagne for you as it’s your favourite!” Marlene called as she hurried to the kitchen, presumably where everyone was gathered, to check on Grace. I shrugged my coat and shoes off and padded through, swinging the door open and instantly being attacked by a shock of red hair.
“Addie!” Lily squealed happily as she launched herself onto me, wrapping her arms firmly around my neck for full minute or so. “It’s been so weird without you!”
“You trying going to Hogwarts” I replied weakly. “It is so boring now without all of you.”
Lily released me and I peered past her to see the usual gang congregated around the kitchen table, the Marauders (minus Peter) and Dorcas and Mary chatting in the corner.
“Did you miss us?” James asked, grinning because he already knew I would say yes as he scooped me into his arms for a bone crushing hug.
“Loads” I grinned as he let me back down and I went to hug Remus, who was leant against the edge of the table looking as ill as ever.
“We missed you too, though” Sirius smiled, opening his arms and pulling me in for a hug. I couldn’t help but think what Rosmerta said, and felt a small blush paint my cheeks as I noticed how good he was looking tonight, and how he was sort of smirking at me like he used to do to his old girlfriends.
Or maybe that was just my imagination.
I hugged Dorcas and Mary quickly, kissing their cheeks and complimenting Dorcas on her new haircut (a stylish bob that suited her really well) and turned to face my sister, who was cradling my gorgeous little niece in her arms.
“Aunty Addie!” Grace shrieked, squirming out of Marlene’s arms with a fierce determination and launching herself at me.
“Hey Gracie!” I laughed, grabbing her by the middle and pulling her in for a massive hug.
“Kisses!” she giggled, puckering her lips and squealing happily as I kissed all over her face and spun her around in my arms.
“I missed you, my gorgeous little niece” I grinned, twisting her in my arms so she rested on my right hip.
“Merlin, she must’ve missed you” Marlene sighed, raising her eyebrows at her daughter. “She won’t let me hold her for more than two minutes at the moment, because she wants to explore.”
“Of course she missed me” I grinned smugly. “I’m her amazing Aunty Addie, they don’t make Auntie’s better than me, do they Gracie?”
“Aunty Addie!” Grace cheered, slapping her chubby hands together in an attempt of a clap and I kissed her cheek lovingly.
“She smells like baby” I cooed. “It’s so nice!”
“So maternal” Sirius commented with a roll of his eyes and I shot him a teasing frown.
“Just because she bit you once Sirius and now you have a grudge against children… everyone knows she’s the best baby ever made” I gave Grace another kiss.
“Until you have your own children next year, obviously” Marlene smiled, and I laughed at her sarcastically.
“No Marlene, unlike some people I can actually restrain myself and not create babies when I’m fresh out of Hogwarts.”
“Depends what sort of man you meet, sweetie” Marlene grinned cheekily. “He might be the one who can’t restrain himself” she winked and I swear I saw her gaze flicker towards Sirius.
I groaned, and used Grace’s hands to cover my ears. “If you’re going to talk about you and David, you-knowing…”
“There’s nothing disgusting about it!” Marlene replied defensively. “So what if I have sex?”
“Don’t talk about it in front of Grace!” I yelled, smacking Grace’s hands over her own ears. “What sort of mother are you, Marls?!”
Marlene opened her mouth to reply with a sisterly bicker, but stopped as Grace proved she was an impressionable toddler.
“Suh-ex” she grinned proudly, glancing around to the kitchen filled with adults with shocked expressions.
Then Sirius and James burst into raucous laughter and I struggled to hold Grace up I was laughing so hard.
“Don’t laugh!” Marlene pleaded, her terrified mother face in full motion. “She’ll think it’s clever!” she fretted, wrenching Grace from my arms and taking her from the room.
“I can’t believe a three year old just said sex” Lily snorted, wiping tears of laughter from the edges of her eyes.
“Toddlers are so fun” Sirius grinned cheekily, and it was obvious that both he and James were planning to teach Grace naughty words.
Dinner came half an hour later, and David staggered through the door with a tired smile after a long day at the Ministry, giving me a quick kiss of greeting before collapsing into the chair at the head of the table.
“Sorry I’m late, Marls” he smiled to my sister, kissing her lovingly and letting Grace clamber up onto his lap. “The Ministry was manic, we got another threat of Death Eater attack today, they wouldn’t let me go until it’d all died down.”
“More checks?” Marlene asked with a sympathetic smile and I glanced between the two, confused.
“Yeah, they took one man out of my compartment for questioning… Ted Tonks, his wife used to be a Black” he glanced apologetically to Sirius, who was frowning deeply. “You know what they’re like now… they don’t trust anybody with connections to pureblood families.”
“Andromeda was disowned just like me for running of with Ted” Sirius said bitterly. “She put her life at risk and turned away from the Black family and yet they’re still suspicious… Ted’s a Muggleborn, as if the Death Eaters would let him on their side.”
“Wait, what’s going on at the Ministry?” I asked, looking around the table for answers. “They’re questioning employees?!”
“Yeah” David shrugged. “There’ve been a few… incidents, where the Death Eaters have known Ministry secrets. So they’ve had to install special security, the Aurors doing questioning and all that, a couple of people have already been sent to Azkaban for it.”
“Oh” I looked down at my plate. “It’s getting worse, isn’t it?”
“They’ve been recruiting heavily” Lily sighed. “People just out of Hogwarts…”
“Well, we joined the Order as soon as we finished, didn’t we?” James shrugged. “It’s the same for them.”
“Slytherins in your year… they’ll be signing up as soon as you’re finished, Ade” Sirius muttered, and I glanced over to him, aware of the fact we were both thinking of the same person… Regulus.
I looked down at my lap, guilty for thinking about Regulus… I shouldn’t care what he does, but I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t want Regulus to become a Death Eater, he could be nice… Sirius had broken away from his family, he'd always been on the good side… why couldn’t Regulus do the same?
“Let’s not talk about it anymore” Marlene suggested quietly, shooting me a worried glance. “It’s depressing… and it’s Christmas, we should be happy.”
I glanced over at her, spotting her slight frown as she watched Grace, curled up on David’s lap, and I knew she was worried, I could see it in her movements. In the protective way she held Grace, as if waiting for the Death Eaters to burst through the door any moment… constant worry, constant panic. I hadn’t realised you could feel it too, when you were right in the thick of things. I worried about them all when I was in Hogwarts, but I couldn’t get to them… couldn’t protect them if I needed to. I hadn’t known that Marlene felt the same, helpless, but I could see it now, on her face, wearing the same expression she wears when we visit our mother in St Mungo’s.
“Time for bed, Gracie” she announced, cradling her sleepy toddler, who moaned, reaching her chubby arms out to me as I gave her a goodnight kiss.
“Night, night Gracie” I grinned, kissing her nose and watching as she smiled sweetly, her eyes fluttering closed as she leaning her head against Marlene’s shoulder.
David finished his dinner in a final mouthful and followed Marlene and his daughter upstairs, presumably to make sure Marlene was alright. She’d looked almost tearful earlier.
“So, tell us all the Hogwarts gossip then!” Dorcas grinned, leaning forward on her elbows and gesturing for me to sit down.
I rolled my eyes as the three males present groaned, feigning disinterest when I knew they actually did want to know how Hogwarts was getting on without them.
“It’s a bit quieter…” I grinned to James and Sirius. “I think the teachers are a bit more relaxed without those lot running around making trouble. James, Sirius and Remus grinned triumphantly and I bit my lip as Lily rolled her eyes at them. “There’s not much going on though really… Rosmerta misses you all, especially you two” I nodded to James and Sirius.
“What about boys, Ade?” Dorcas wiggled her eyebrows. “Who’s your newest venture?”
“Oh, I don’t have one actually” I shrugged and all of the girls gasped, Dorcas frowning at me.
“What happened to Amos Diggory?” Lily asked with a small smirk, which I ignored and tried to forget how many times I’d seen it when she’d opened the broom closet door on the pair of us snogging.
“Oh, that ended last year” I rolled my eyes. “I sat with him on the train though, he’s still a complete arse.”
“He always was a prat” Sirius smirked to me. “I don’t even know why you went out with him.”
“She didn’t go out with him” Dorcas smiled slyly. “She just snogged him all year.”
“Oh, shut up Dorcas” I rolled my eyes. “By the way, you haven’t seen Ludo Bagman recently have you?”
“No” she snorted. “Why, does he owe someone you know money?”
“No, apparently he’s going out with a girl in my dorm… Millie.”
“Hawkins?” Sirius raised his eyebrows. “Well, she’s downgraded.”
“Just because she went out with you Sirius doesn’t mean she’s downgraded” Lily sighed in frustration. “You really aren’t as good a catch as you think.”
“Prongs, control your woman” Sirius drawled lazily and James smacked him upside the head, putting his arm around Lily as she glared at her boyfriend’s best friend.
“What about Lucy?” Mary asked earnestly. “She mentioned some boy in her letter…”
“Oh, Peter?” I smiled. “Yeah, they’re really cute; I think she really likes him.”
“I thought she liked Moony?” James frowned and all of us girls rolled our eyes at him, as Remus blushed slightly.
“Well, I think she’d gotten a little tired of his constant rejections…” I shot Remus a disapproving glare and he ducked his head bashfully. “And Peter’s the new you James, he’s been in love with Lucy for years.”
Lily smirked as James blushed slightly, and Mary sighed wistfully.
“That’s so sweet” she cooed. “Finding each other in seventh year!”
“They are sweet” I smiled to her. “A bit annoying sometimes…”
“Like James and Lily are?” Sirius offered, wincing when Lily kicked him underneath the table. “What? You are annoying!”
“James and Lily are sweet, Sirius” Dorcas sighed in a mature manner. “Just because you’re a lonely sod doesn’t mean all your mates should be.”
“I can get any woman I want” he pouted, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair.
I caught his eye and he winked quickly, a small smirk playing at his lips as he noticed my discreet smile.
Maybe Rosmerta had been a little bit right… Sirius was flirtatious, but it didn’t mean he had specific interest in me.