Chapter 4 : Loving family? Yeah, right
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[Zoe & Ezra]
"Oi, squirt, stop right there."
Grace halted and resisted the urge to groan out loud. She had hoped her siblings would ignore her in school but it looked like it was too much to ask for. Ezra quickly caught up to her and grabbed her by the elbow, dragging her in a deserted corridor.
"Oi, let go off me." Grace said gruffly as she wrenched her arm from his grip. She glared up at him, crossing her arms over her chest to show her defiance. "What do you want?"
Ezra raised his eyebrows, his lips twitching up in amusement. "My, my, we've gotten braver, haven't we? I shouldn't be surprise, though, should I? You are a Gryffindor, after all."
"What do you want?" Grace asked impatiently. Out of all of her siblings, she disliked Ezra the most. He tended to look down at all of them, especially her, and most of the time he had nothing nice to say about anyone. There was also this constant air of superiority hanging around him that rubbed her the wrong way.
"Speaking of Gryffindor..." Ezra continued in his usual drawl, not bothered at all by Grace's glare and impatience. "You better tell your little friends to cut it out before things end up badly for them." His face darkened, his lips curling in a disdainfully sneer. "I have an efficient way of getting rid of pesky vermin."
Grace leaned back slightly, surprised at the real venom in Ezra's voice. He said stuff like that all the time, but he never sounded so mean and malicious when saying them. Now he looked downright mean as she looked down at her, his towering height making her feel even smaller than usual.
"Alright, calm down." She muttered as she fidgeted with the strap of her heavy satchel. When she looked up at him again, his face had cleared.
"Just thought I should give you a warning before I take action." Ezra said.
Grace nodded, although she certainly wasn't pleased that he was threatening her friends. "Alright, I'll tell them."
"Good." Ezra looked down at her both figuratively and literally and nodded. "I'll take my leave now. Oh.." He flashed her a small smirk. "Good job mucking it up with mum. I've always wondered why she still keeps you around. She can always give you to the Lupin's, the poor folks need at least one normal child, don't they?"
Grace growled. "You're an arse, Ezra."
Ezra only laughed as he walked away, the mocking sound bouncing off the walls all around Grace.
"Oh, squirty!" Zoe's sing-song voice grated on Grace's already high strung nerves. Marlene looked up briefly from the magazine she was reading, raising one of her blonde eyebrows at Grace, who gritted her teeth in annoyance in response to her questioning look. Zoe flounced over to their table, her long blonde hair falling down her sides and back in long curls. Grace hated how fairytale-ish Zoe looked, it just didn't fit with her horrid personality at all.
"What do you want?" Grace snapped, not in a mood to deal with her at all. Her earlier run in with Ezra was still fresh in her mind, and she wasn't in the mood to deal with another one of her bigheaded siblings.
"Why so rude, squirt?" Zoe asked with a small pout as she sat down on the one of the spare chairs around the table. They were in the library, and Grace was trying to do her Potions homework, while Marlene sat quietly and read her magazine. It had been a pain to convince her to come but since Toni had left for Bulgaria yesterday, two days before the Christmas holidays started, Marlene had nothing else to do and agreed to accompany Grace to the library.
"Well, I'm doing something if you haven't noticed, so if you-"
"Never mind that." Zoe waved her off dismissively. Grace gritted her teeth again and noticed with a sideways glance that Marlene was smirking behind her magazine. The traitorous bint. "I need a favour from you - don't look at me like that, it pains me to ask anything of you, but unfortunately you're the only one I can ask for help right now." Zoe looked around them suspiciously, scanning the area with sharp blue eyes then turned her attention on Grace again. "Take this-" She suddenly produced a grey, glossy envelope, with the name Reginald Cattermole written beautifully in a sparkly, silver ink. "On no account should you open it. Just go up to the sixth years' dormitory and leave the envelope in the drawer of his bed - the bed is probably cluttered with Quidditch junk." Zoe pursed her lips, her blue eyes twinkling an ominously devilish manner that slightly concerned Grace.
"Why can't you give this to him?" Grace said as she eyed the envelope as if it might explode any minute.
Zoe sighed impatiently. "That's my business. Just do it, all right? I might stop making fun of your eyes if you do that. And for Merlin's sake, don't tell anyone." She glanced at Marlene, who was pretending she wasn't paying any attention to their conversation, if though she could not have heard it. "That same goes for your friend here. If any of you say anything about this, I'm going to make your holidays hell" She turned to Marlene. "And I'm going to set your brother on you." Looking very smug indeed, Zoe stood up, her princess-style curly hair bouncing up and down. "Au revoir!" She said, adopting her sing-song voiced again as she glided, yes glided, across the library and left, leaving the two girls in thoughtful silence.
"You know, I've always thought you were just exaggerating about your siblings," Marlene began in miffed voice. "But after your run in with your brother, and now this, I realise that they really are that horrible." She shook her head in amazement, although she was still frowning in dislike.
"Yeah, well, try living with them." Grace muttered as she pushed away her essay and slammed close the Potions book. There was no point in trying to regain her concentration. Besides, she was getting sick of it anyway, and her head was starting to hurt from the information overload. "Let's go find the boys, yeah?"
Marlene looked relief. "I thought you'd never ask!" She said jovially as she jumped on her feet readily.
Grace stuffed her things in her satchel and almost missed the grey envelope that now laid on the old wooden table. She bit her lip as she stared it, pondering if she should take it or just leave it for someone to find and read. If it was a love letter of some sort, she'd have a right laugh along with everyone else when someone found it and spread the information - nothing ever stayed secret in Hogwarts. But then again, Zoe could very vengeful - she was a Slytherin, after all - and she might actually stop being so nasty towards Grace all the time. The very least, she wouldn't go out of her way to screw up her day.
"Grace, are you coming?" Marlene's voice sounded faraway, and was followed by a hissing reprimand from the librarian, Madam Pince, who liked the library to be as quiet as a tomb.
Oh, sod it, Grace thought irritably as she grabbed the envelope and slipped in inside her bag. "I"m coming."
"Oh, home, sweet home!" Marlene exclaimed as they entered the common room, the warm air inside engulfing them in a cozy blanket. It was certainly a relieve from the cold hallways. The staff should really do something about this. Grace's hands and feet were numb from the cold, and she hadn't even walked that much. The real nightmare was when they all walked back to the Tower from the Great Hall, as they were seventh floors apart.
They spotted the four boys sitting around the fire, their usual place. The common was mostly deserted, as it was the time before dinner, and most of the students were either in their dorms or off to wander the castle, although who'd want to do that in those freezing temperatures, Grace didn't know.
"Is someone else feeling as lazy as me?" She asked as she and Marlene joined the boys. She sat down on the sofa next to Peter and threw her legs over his lap, resting her head against the cushion. He spared her a glance, his small eyes widened in surprise, but he didn't try to push her off.
"Depends on how lazy you feel." Sirius said from his slouching position on the plush armchair directly by the fire. He yawned pointedly, his eyes fluttering close. "But I'd wager I feel more lazy than you."
"I'm up for a challenge." Grace said, her voice straining as she yawned. "Ugh."
"Grace, did you finish your Transfiguration essay?" There was a collective groan at Remus' typical question, the only who stayed quiet, and only because she thought groaning would require too much effort on her part, was Grace herself. Her hand dropped down at the side of the sofa, her hand groping blindly for her bag which lay on the floor. Once she finally managed to locate it, she pushed it feebly towards where she thought Remus was sitting.
"I have to say, Sirius, she's winning for now." James piped up, his voice amused.
The common room was suddenly filled with voices and footsteps and Grace opened her eyes, only to see that people were staring to leave the common room. Her eyes fell on the tall, gangly sixteen year old boy with brownish hair and wide frame talking to his friends excitedly. She watched him until he disappeared through the portrait hole and turned her alarmed gaze on her bag, which laid at Remus's feet. He was comparing his essay with hers and looked to deeply immersed in it. If he had seen the letter, he would've been more curious. Definitely.
"C'mon, you gits, we gotta go to dinner." James said as he stood up. Marlene immediately perked up at the mention of dinner - really, it was a wonder the girl was thin as she was - and everyone else followed, albeit reluctantly as they all had settled rather comfortably.
"You guys go, I'll catch up in a bit." Grace said as she stood up and grabbed her bag. They all turned to look at her in confusion but Marlene soon had a look of realisation replacing her confused one.
"Yeah, I'll stay with her. You guys go." She muttered, a little resentfully.
"Why?" Sirius asked as he looked between the two girls.
"Girl stuff." Grace replied hastily. "You wouldn't want to know."
Sirius wrinkled his nose. "Right." He backed away slowly, causing both girls to roll their eyes.
"We'll save you seats!" Remus promised.
"Thanks." Grace said, nodding slightly.
After the four boys left, Marlene turned to Grace and scowled at her.
"Do you need to do that now? More importantly, do you need to do it at all? You don't even like your sister!"
"Yeah, but I prefer if she left me alone during the holidays." Grace said. "'Sides, I didn't ask for you to stay."
"You'd still need me to keep a look out in case someone comes, genius." Marlene said in a silky voice, crossing her arms over her chest. She looked around the common room imperiously. "Let's wait for it to clear out completely."
After ten minutes of Marlene clicking her tongue, huffing, puffing and shooting unhappy glances around the common room, the last group of fourth years left the common room.
"Finally!" Marlene exclaimed, jumping on her feet. "Couldn't they've taken their oh-so-important conversation with them on their way to the Great Hall?"
"Apparently not." Grace answered, trying to hide her amusement at her friend's disgruntlement.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Move your skinny arse." Marlene said as she pushed Grace towards the stairs leading to the boys' dormitory.
"Fine, fine." Grace muttered. She pulled out the envelope and threw her bag on a nearby table. She looked up stairs apprehensively but Marlene was having none of her hesitation.
"Up you go, squirt!"
Grace bristled at the offensive nickname her siblings used as a substitute to her real name but got moving. She walked up the first flight of stairs and was greeted by a long corridor with only one door with a plate saying "first year dormitory", and a spiral staircase at the end of the corridor. Grace sighed as she realised she'd have to go up five floors until she reached the sixth year dormitory. She hurried up the stairs, not wanting to irritate Marlene more, and breathed a sigh of relief when she finally reached her destination. She pushed the door open without any hesitation and walked inside, scanning the area. The room was messy but not overly messy or gross, which was a plus. She spotted a Quidditch poster above one of the beds and hurried over to it. She needn't have worried about finding, as she saw a framed picture on the bedside table of Reginald and his girlfriend, who Grace only knew by face, and not name. She opened the first drawer of the bedside table and slipped the envelope inside, then quickly left the room.
On her way back she nearly collided with Marlene, who was running up the stairs. "Seventh years." She hissed. Grace's eyes widened and she turned around. Both she and Marlene climbed back to the sixth floor and seeing that they couldn't hide anywhere, they opened the door to the dorm and slipped inside, closing the door quietly when they heard footsteps coming closer.
"I'm going to kill you." Marlene whispered-yelled as she looked around. "And then your sister."
They heard voices and Grace could only mouth "I'm sorry." back at Marlene, who shook her head.
"Hey, mate, can you grab Colton's muggle cards while you're at it?"
Marlene and Grace exchanged wide-eyed scared looks as the door knob was pushed down. Marlene mouthed something that vaguely seemed like 'fuck', and the two girls scrambled for a hiding place. Grace slipped under the nearest bed, and Marlene, pressured with time as the door slightly opened, slipped under the same bed. Grace grunted as Marlene kicked her shin, but the blonde girl looked like she thought she'd deserved it, accidental or not.
"Forget what I said-" Marlene whispered in Grace's ear as they watched the boy's feet move about the room."I will torture you first, then kill you."