I waited until lunch to speak to him; I didn't want to do this in front of everyone so speaking to him in class wasn't going to work for me. We didn't have the same class before lunch so I ended up waiting for him outside the Great Hall, much like he had done weeks before, I heard his laugh before I saw him and stepped away from the wall and into his path. His grin fell a little when he saw me in front of him but it quickly grew back when he noticed the look on my face. I didn't have to say anything to get him to follow me out of the way of the rest of the school, I led him to an empty classroom and he raised an eyebrow at me as I waited for him to go in. "Why did you do it? I know you hate me but I can't figure out what I've done that is so bad it made you think that doing that was an appropriate retaliation." Sirius' grin morphed into a smirk,
"And what makes you think it was me Hunt? What makes you think that I feel you're worth all the effort of contacting the paper just to ruin you?" I shook my head,
"I'm not stupid Black, I know it was you! Who else would have done something like that? You're the only person I know who is even capable of something like that! But I want you to know that you haven't just ruined my future; you've ruined my dad's future at the ministry, you've ruined the futures of all the people who will miss out on my mum's help, you've ruined Joe's future as a professor because even though Dumbledore isn't bothered the governors will never allow him to stay here, and you've ruined Taylor's she hasn't even finished school yet and she already won't be able to get a job! Do you not realise that your actions have consequences? That even if you think that something will be absolutely hilarious at the time you bloody well need to think past that moment of hilarity and consider the bigger picture because, and I know this will be hard for you to understand, not everything in this world was put here for your amusement Sirius Black. I hope you're happy with yourself." This wasn't really how I had planned on this conversation going, I'd just wanted to find out why he did it. I hadn't intended on yelling at him about it and showing him just how much it had affected me and how it would continue to have an effect.
"Who's Taylor? I've only ever heard you mention Joe." I rolled my eyes, but of course that would be the part of my rant he picked up on; the mention of a girl.
"She's my sister you moron! Is that all you have to say?" Sirius' eyebrows rose again,
"I didn't know you had a sister, is she hot?" my mouth fell open,
"We're twins, and you just ruined her chance at a future so you've got no chance. Besides she goes to school in France... surely you've read about her in the Prophet? It mentioned her in the article this morning." The smirk was back on his face, figures... I was delusional to think he would feel bad about what he did.
"Well actually I didn't have anything to do with this article. I was actually rather surprised when I read it myself. I had no idea it would go this far. All I did was mention it to one other person and this is what they did with the information. And I think you need to be looking for someone a little bit closer. I mean I'm in a whole different dorm." He sent me a meaningful glance and sauntered out of the room.
What? I had no idea what he meant by that. Well he was obviously implying that it was one of the girls in the dorm but I know that none of them would do that to me. Gabby and Susie were so shocked by the article this morning to have had anything to do with it. And although we had just made up with Lily, Alice and Dorcas there was no way it could have been one of them, they had no reason to do something like that. Sirius was the only person who had such a problem with me.
After I'd spoken to Sirius I wasn't really sure what to do next, I hadn't thought further than getting the truth out of him and I hadn't even managed that. As I walked towards the Great Hall a group of Ravenclaws started whispering and moving away from me, as if they were worried I was going to attack them or something ridiculous like that, but then I suppose that wasn't such a ridiculous idea to them considering what they'd read that morning.
I ended up waiting for Joe in his office, knowing that he wouldn't want to be in the Great Hall for too long either. I wasn't waiting long and he didn't look at all surprised to see me waiting there, in fact he'd brought me sandwiches as he hadn't seen me at lunch. We sat quietly together, he was marking sixth year essays and I was doing some first year test papers. I wasn't really concentrating and he noticed, "You alright Riles?" I looked up, startled by the sound of my name,
"Yeah I'm fine." We both knew I wasn't but neither of us mentioned it, he wasn't alright either. The silence was back and lasted another five minutes or so, "I think I'm going to go and stay with Tay for a while, she's been asking me to visit her at Beauxbaton's for ages, I think I'm going to see if Dumbledore will let me go... I think he'll be okay with it considering... And then by the time I get back everyone will be talking about something else anyway and this will have all blown over." I don't think I really believed that but it was what I wanted to believe.
"You can't do that Riley! They'll think they've won if you run away from it. If you leave they'll never let it go, you'll be the girl who ran away from one bit of bad press. You have to admit, we always knew it would have to happen someday, they've always been on our side up until now, but the press always turns eventually." I shook my head,
"We've done nothing wrong, why would we be expecting this when we've done nothing? Our family has only ever done good things for the wizarding world! That's why we get good press! Not because we were the flavour of the month Joe! Whatever, I don't want to be at Hogwarts right now, and it isn't up to you. Mum and dad will be fine with it as long as Dumbledore is. I'm going to see Tay." Joe put his quill down and covered my hand with his, in an effort to calm me down. It worked, there was no point in me getting worked up at Joe, he was just as affected by this as I was.
"At least wait until the weekend? You've got the Ravenclaw match on Saturday and they've only just gotten you back on the team, you can't miss your first match back on the team now can you?" I smiled in spite of myself; I was looking forward to getting back on a broom, it had been a while.
"Fine, but if the whispering and insults haven't stopped by then I'm going to France and you won't be able to stop me a second time." Joey nodded, seeming to accept the deal; he was confident that it would have blown over by then with the build-up to what was usually an exciting quidditch match. "I have to go, I have Potions."
I made it down to the dungeon without any major incidents, people pointed and whispered things about me but I tried my best to ignore them and keep moving without letting them see how much all of this was upsetting me. I don't think it worked. When the hand shot out of an empty potions workroom I all but growled at the person who grabbed me, the only person I'd ever had this sort of encounter with was Sirius and I was not in the mood to have another little chat with him. But when I turned round it wasn't Sirius' face I was looking up at. "Remus? What?"
"I didn't have anything to do with it! I didn't tell anyone what you told me, not even a bit of it I promise!" my eyes narrowed, he must have changed his mind since that morning,
"I know you didn't Remus, that's what I told Joe. It didn't even cross my mind that you might have something to do with this, this one was all Sirius and I know that. So why drag me into a classroom and make me late for class?" Remus blushed and smiled a small smile,
"I just wanted to talk to you but you've been with Joe all day. This is the first chance I've had." I didn't say anything, waiting for him to continue, when he didn't I turned to leave the room but he grabbed my arm again to stop me going, "willyougotoHogsmeadewithme?" I could feel my forehead creasing with confusion as I tried to work out what he had just asked me,
"Sorry Remus you're going to have to try again…" he dropped my arm and took a deep breath before looking me in the eye and repeating himself,
"Will you go to Hogsmeade with me? I know it's still a couple of weeks away but I was just wondering if you'd go with me, like as a date." My mouth dropped open in what I'm sure was a very attractive way, I wasn't sure what to expect when he dragged me in here but this definitely wasn't it.
"Remus, I've just been outed as a vampire to the whole wizarding world; I don't think I'm going to be going to Hogsmeade any time soon. Everyone hates me now, I wouldn't be welcome anywhere anyway; it would be pointless to even bother. Sorry." I tried to leave again, I hated that he'd put me in that position; I loved him dearly but never in the same way that I loved James but this time he moved to stand between me and the door,
"But that's exactly it! You're the only person around here who knows what it's like to be like me, well not exactly like me but to be treated the way I will be once everyone finds out."
"Remus, no offence but our situations are not the same. You have the boys; they would never reject you like they have me. When Sirius found out about you he set out to accomplish an extremely complex and dangerous piece of magic so you wouldn't have to be alone, when he found out about me he went straight to the papers so that I would be ruined and would never be able to get a job or have any sort of future outside of Hogwarts. And even if we were in the same situation it wouldn't be a good enough reason to start a relationship." He looked so sad when I left him there but I knew I'd made the right decision. There was also the fact that I'd only just gotten Gabby back, I didn't want to lose her again so soon.
Professor Slughorn wasn't impressed with my lateness but someone snickered and hissed, "Watch out professor, she might drain the life out of you if you mess with her." The professor had turned pale and bustled off to the other side of the room, making the giggles throughout the room grow in volume. I sat in the back of the room on my own, avoiding the questioning and worried glances that Gabby and Susie were shooting at me, I didn't want to have to tell them, I didn't want to lose them like I'd already lost James and Lily this year.
It seemed ridiculous that this was happening to me; part of me believed that it was all a dream and that I would wake up and we would all be friends again. It was such a naïve thing to think but it was better than thinking of the reality of the situation.
Remus came into the room about five minutes after I did; he sat down in front of James and Sirius, partnering Peter. "Oh thank Merlin you're okay! When you didn't turn up I was worried that Hunt got you! She was looking a little bit thirsty when I saw her after lunch, if you get what I mean." I saw Remus and James glare at Sirius' lame attempt at a joke… James was glaring, well that was a development.
The fact that James hadn't been amused by Sirius' jokes at my expense was enough to make me think that maybe it would all be okay in the end. If James could forgive me and see past this then maybe others could too, maybe I could be honest with my friends but still have them as friends.
It was with this new attitude that I decided to sit Gabby and Susie down that evening after dinner and tell them the truth about my family.
The rest of the day was spent thinking about exactly how I was going to tell them, trying to anticipate their reactions, and hoping that it would end well; that they wouldn't abandon me. My professors didn't seem to mind the fact that I wasn't paying any attention at all in class, most of them seemed to understand that I had other things on my mind at the moment. Some of them were, like Slughorn, acting like this was the first they'd heard about the whole thing, but I know that Dumbledore told them all when Joe started his first year, so these were the ones that infuriated me.
I didn't go to dinner that evening, and it wasn't because I couldn't stand having people staring and whispering; I'd gotten used to that as the day wore on, it was because there was no way I was going to be able to eat anything anyway so why bother with the trek all the way down there?
"We missed you at dinner Riley, where were you?" Susie was looking at me with a curious look on her face,
"I wasn't hungry, can I talk to you guys?" they both nodded, "Upstairs?" before waiting for their responses I got up and headed up the stairs to our dorm, I had to do this quickly before I changed my mind again.
Their reactions were pretty much what I was expecting, they were shocked and upset. Shocked that it was all true and upset that I hadn't trusted them enough to tell them sooner and because someone had told everyone, "Do you know who did it?"
"It was Black. I don't know how he found out or why he would do it but I know it was him." Gabby didn't look convinced but Susie looked livid, something I wasn't used to from her, "But there isn't anything I can do about it, no one would take my word over his, not now that they know about me. I tried asking him about it but he denied it-"
"Well then maybe it wasn't him? I mean, something like this would be huge for him right? Something he would own up to in a heartbeat, so if he's saying that it wasn't him I'm kind of inclined to believe him. It must have been someone else." I couldn't believe what I was hearing, Gabby was usually one to blame Sirius for the smallest things, she was always someone you could count on to listen to complaints about him, and here she was defending him when this was the biggest thing he'd ever done to one of us.
"How can you say that? It's so obvious that it was him! I mean, the only person I've ever told was Remus and Sirius would have been able to get it out of him, or maybe he was listening to us talking about it. And no one else hates me like he does." Gabby raised an eyebrow,
"So you told Remus and no one else but it must have been Sirius? That doesn't make sense; with that explanation you should be blaming Remus for this." I snorted, it a very ladylike manor,
"You think it was Remus? He's my friend, he wouldn't do that." Gabby jumped to her feet, and that's when I realised that I was standing as well,
"He's the only one who knew!"
"Why are you defending Black anyway? You've always hated him!"
"It isn't fair for him to be blamed for this when there is no way it was him!" Susie was still sat on the bed between us, looking from Gabby to me and back again; like someone watching a tennis match,
"It wasn't fair for him to do what he did but you don't seem to be pissed off about that! You've liked Remus forever how can you think he would do that?"
"Would you two both just stop it? There is no point in you two fighting about this when we're probably never going to know who it was! If it was Sirius then I don't think he would have done this; he's never done anything so malicious before, he might have told someone but he wouldn't have released it to the Prophet. But there is no way that Remus did this Gabby, think about it. He's never been anything but decent to all of us, no way was it him." Gabby and I turned our glares from each other to Susie and she threw her arms up and stormed out of the room. Gabby was next, she stormed into the bathroom, which left me to stand in the middle of the room with nowhere else to storm off to so I just slumped into my bed and pulled the curtains closed.
I spent the rest of the week on my own. Gabby was with Sirius, James, Remus and Peter. Susie was with the other girls. I turned up early for most classes and waited until everyone else had gone before leaving, I found that was the best way to avoid been seen by people in the corridors. I stayed behind after every Transfiguration class to talk to Joe, and every time I did this Snape would hover around the door looking shifty. In those few days there had been a number of times when he had been sitting close to me in the library and I would look up from my work to find him looking like he wanted to say something but he never did; he would just sneer and either pack up his stuff and leave or he would go back to what he was doing. It was strange.
I thought the weekend would never arrive; time seemed to be passing so slowly. But finally it was time for the quidditch match against Ravenclaw and from how well practise had been going it was going to be a good game.
It was a good game for the most part; I spent a lot of the match avoiding the bludgers, which would have been fine if most of them hadn't been coming from Sirius. I did manage to score a fair few times though. The match lasted for almost four hours, one of the longest Hogwarts has seen in years eventually there were only a few goals in it and finally our seeker caught the snitch. The Ravenclaws weren't too happy but they did still have more points on the board than the Hufflepuff team so they were still in with a chance at the cup.
At the end of the match I went with the rest of the team to the side lines where there were drinks bottles waiting for us, I gratefully downed a mouthful of the drink and promptly spat it back out. Someone had replaced my water with dragon's blood, well I assume it was dragon's blood, I don't know how to tell the difference. I looked up, everyone saw it, they were whispering again. I caught Sirius' eye and he did a mime of someone chugging a drink, tears started to blur my vision and James, who was standing next to me, grabbed the bottle out of my hand and banished it while thrusting his own drink at me.
I turned and ran away from the pitch; I didn't stop running until I made it up to Gryffindor tower and into the dorm. I started to through things haphazardly into my trunk, I didn't care what Joe thought was best; I was going to France. I didn't notice Lily come into the room until she was pulling me away from my trunk and into a hug, I didn't know how much I'd needed that until it was happening.
I know this chapter is rubbish and rushed and too long and extremely repetitive but I can't make it any better any suggestions would be great and well done for even sticking through to the end of the chapter, hopefully the next one will be better.