Chapter 11 : Unexpected Happenings
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Meeting George’s family went surprisingly well. He lived in Oxford, which turned out to be a very beautiful city. Apparently there was some famous muggle school there, so it was teeming with tourists. I had the chance to meet his younger sister, Olivia, who was going to join Hogwarts next year, and his older brother, John, who was Gryffindor’s ex-quidditch captain. He had handed the mantle down to his brother two years ago, and currently played beater for the Appleby Arrows.
George’s parents were also extremely nice. Just seeing how normal his family was, made me want him to meet my mother even less. He had been hinting that he wanted to meet her as walked around Oxford. I either ignored him or muttered something quietly. I just couldn’t have him meet her.
Unless someone’s family featured regularly in the society columns, my mother didn’t want have anything to do with them. As nice as George’s family was, they weren’t exactly the high society she enjoyed. I hadn’t even told her I was dating him. There was no need to. She didn’t notice when I went and visited him. It was ironic that she was so busy at some charity Christmas luncheon that she didn’t even have enough time to spend with me.
Except for today, that is. I was being marched off to Gladrags to find a set of robes for the Potter’s Christmas ball. Mother had been going on about how I must make a good impression, because I ought to start considering who I might want to marry. I didn’t even know if I wanted to marry. Even if I did, I doubted I would marry someone I met at the age of fifteen.
Well, I would be sixteen in the time for the ball. It was on the twenty-fourth of December, and my birthday was the twenty-second, tomorrow in fact. I wasn’t getting too excited about it, as Mother wouldn’t probably notice.
At least Minnie, our house elf would remember. She provided some company during the holidays. I remember when I was younger, and dad was out at work, I would trail behind her while she carried out her chores. I sometimes tried to help her. That was until Mother had a go at Minnie for letting me clean. She didn’t think it was appropriate for someone of my status, and said it was beneath me.
“Thalia, are you ready?” Mother snapped at me, while walking into the drawing room.
“Yes. I’ve been ready for the past twenty minutes,” I sulked.
“Don’t look so downcast, it’s not pleasant. It will only encourage wrinkles, and those are something you do not wish to possess,” Mother scolded me. “Come on, otherwise we will miss our appointment.”
She strode out of the room and into the entrance hall, waiting for me to follow so we could apparate to Diagon Alley. We could have walked. Our house was in Kensington, which wasn’t too far from The Leaky Cauldron; however, mother didn’t feel the tavern was a worthy enough place to deign her presence.
I trailed out of the room, grabbed hold of her arm, and felt the familiar sucking sensation of apparation envelop me.
Choosing my dress robes was a very tedious process. Mother and the assistant, some drip called Francesca, thought that none of the robes were suitable. They were either too revealing, or too modest. Then the colour didn’t match my complexion, or the style didn’t suite my body shape.
In the end they chose some chocolate brown robes with streaks of gold in them, claiming it would match my hair colour perfectly. I didn’t care what I wore to be honest, as long as it was comfortable and not too showy. I did have to admit, those robes were beautiful and made me look somewhat nice.
Now I was sitting in a closeted corner of The Silver Moon tea room, feigning interest in whatever conversation mother was carrying on with Aurelia Greengrass, one of her closest friends. It was a rather nice tea room, due to the décor being in silver and a midnight blue. There was a collection of stars on the ceiling, which twinkled every now and then.
Aurelia had a son called Nathaniel, and I think our respective mothers were planning our prospective marriage. I didn’t think I would ever want to marry Nathaniel. He was a portly young man, who had finished Hogwarts a couple of years ago. He was now working in some department in the Ministry, doing some dreary job which required no intellect.
It seemed to me that women lost all of their independence once they married. At least that was how I perceived all of my mother's friends. Even if I did marry, it would be for love, not the best match my mother could think of. Besides, the few times I had spoken to Nathaniel, he always turned bright red and spoke about how the value of the galleon had been in the last week. He didn’t exactly provide stimulating conversation.
“Did you hear about what happened to the Black family, Selene?” Aurelia lowered her voice, and leaned into Mother.
“No. I haven’t really spoken to Walburga ever since she neglected to invite me to that tea party,” Mother replied bitterly. Being snubbed by one of the most prominent pureblood families probably didn’t rank too high in her favourite memories.
“You know that ghastly son of theirs, Sirius, I think his name is? Apparently, they were at dinner at Rodolphus and Bellatrix’s, and an altercation occurred. That resulted in Sirius storming out of the house. He hasn’t been seen or heard of since,” Aurelia announced excitedly. Wait. Did they just mention Sirius? What on earth must have happened for him to disappear? And where was he now?
“That doesn’t surprise me in the least. The Black family has always been quick with their temper. No doubt the boy is hiding out at the Potters house,” Mother said snidely. I thought he may have sought refuge there too. I was surprised Mother voiced her views though; she tried to not mention the Potters too much.
“That family is shameful to pureblood society. Honestly, fraternising with half-bloods and muggleborns! If it wasn’t for those Weasleys, they would be the biggest lot of blood traitors around. I don’t know how you can stand them still, Selene! Some of the ideas they hold are very worrying,” Aurelia said harshly.
“I agree, some of the views are worrying. However, they are still held in a high regard by many other pureblood families, so it doesn’t do too much harm to be seen with them,” Mother said more softly.
“But their son, James, he’s friends with half-bloods! And that Black boy. They both shun respectable society and hang out with barbarians. Edmund and Charlotte have raised him as if he was living in the wild,” Aurelia burst out.
Right. That was it. I had enough of her and Mother abusing the Potters, when they had always been so nice to me. I had to stand up for them.
“James is a much better person then you two will ever be. As for Mr and Mrs Potter, they are some of the kindest and most considerate people around, and would do anything to help you. So what if they socialise with people of ‘impure blood’? At least they don’t hold these snobbish ideas that you two possess,” I announced angrily. It was only after I had said it all, that I realised how much trouble I could land myself in.
“Thalia Longwood! How dare you behave so atrociously! I did not raise you to be like this, and I thought you had a clear idea of what I expect from you. I will simply not tolerate this, and you must apologise to me at once!” Mother snapped at me. Ha, the only thing I could agree with was the fact that she didn’t raise me to be like this. She didn’t raise me at all. If she wanted more control over how I acted, perhaps she should have been a more active mother.
“There’s no need to worry Selene. Her father’s influence is obviously showing. He was always a rebellious one, Andrew. It’s just such a pity to see that she’s behaving in the same way,” Aurelia replied disdainfully.
“I will not apologise. I am an independent person, who does not need to be told how to behave. Do not ever offend my father again. If you do, I won’t be able to account for my actions. He was an excellent man, and he deserves some respect,” I announced. I stormed out of the tea room, so Mother couldn’t see the tears rolling down my face.
I didn’t know where I was going. My main aim was trying to fight through the hustle and bustle of the Christmas shoppers in Diagon Alley. Trying to get through the crowds of people, while having tears in my eyes wasn’t the easiest task, but I somehow managed to end up in a doorstep of some disused old shop. I was glad that I had escaped the tide of bodies, as it meant I had a chance to collect my thoughts.
A wave of tiredness suddenly overwhelmed me, and all I could do was slump down in the doorway. I tried to avoid looking at the grime which covered every inch of the floor I was now sitting on. Though the door had suspicious marks on it, I couldn’t help but lean my head against it. I was so glad I could now rest.
I needed to get back, I thought resolutely. There was no point hanging around Diagon Alley. The air was bitterly cold, and the only thing which was keeping me warm beforehand was the constant movement. Now that I was sedentary, I could feel the frosty air penetrate into my bones.
The door suddenly jerked, and I nearly fell into the hallway. Instead, I ended up against the door opener’s legs.
“Thalia? What are you doing there?” Peter Pettigrew asked tentatively.
“I was trying to find a place to hide and reflect on my thoughts.” My response caused Peter to look very perplexed. “What are you doing here, anyway?”
“I live in the flat above this. Mum thought she saw someone being pushed into the doorstep, so she asked me to go and see if they were okay,” Peter replied more confident in his demeanour. “You are okay, aren’t you? Or do you want to come upstairs and get warm?”
“That was very considerate of her. I think I’ll be okay, I just need to get back to The Leaky Cauldron and use their fire to floo home.” It wasn’t that I disliked Peter. I just didn’t want to accept his help; I would then have to explain why I was there, meaning I would have to talk about my argument with Mother.
“Why don’t you just come upstairs and use my fireplace? It’s here, and the one at The Leaky Cauldron is bound to be busy due to all the Christmas shoppers,” Peter said. I was surprised by his suggestion, as I didn’t know that him that well. I didn’t think he would be so willing to help an acquaintance. He did have a point though. It would be churlish to refuse his offer.
“That would be great. Thanks Peter.” I smiled at him. I eased myself carefully up from the floor, trying not to dirty my new robes. It would only anger mother more if they became stained. Once we entered the hallway, he traipsed up the stairs and I followed in his wake. We approached a door which had fading green paint, and a tarnished door knocker.
“Sorry it’s not much. It’s just ever since dad left,” Peter trailed off at the mention of his dad. He had done a runner on Peter and his mum in second year. I remember the rumours flying around the common room about why the Marauders were suddenly moody and protective over Peter. It finally came out about his dad. It mustn’t have been easy. Even though I lost my dad, I at least knew what happened to him. Peter was living in the unknown.
Peter pushed open the door, and we entered a dimly lit hallway. I could just make out a threadbare carpet which had multiple stains in it. I saw what he meant about it not being much.
“Don’t worry,” I said quietly.
“Peter is that you? Did you find out who it was?” Mrs Pettigrew’s voice cried out. She emerged round the corner, and she looked remarkably like her son. She had the same wispy hair, her clothes were rather worn and she was short. She seemed more confident in her manner though, and when she saw me standing there, she immediately gave me a welcoming smile. “Who’s this then Peter? Are you a friend of his from school?”
“Mum, this is Thalia. She’s in the same year and house as me. I wondered whether she could use the fireplace to floo home. Otherwise, Thalia’s stuck here.”
“Of course she can! Any friend of Peter’s is always welcome. Those boys are so good to him. They have really helped him through some tough times, so I’m sure you’re just the same,” Mrs Pettigrew replied cheerily. Guilt began to build up inside of me. I hadn’t exactly been the nicest person to Peter. Seeing how nice he and his mum were being to me now, didn’t help with repressing the feeling.
“I really hope it isn’t a problem. I could go to The Leaky Cauldron if you wanted?” I asked, not wanting to sound too forward.
“Of course it’s not a problem. Come through, it’s in the sitting room.” Mrs Pettigrew replied, ushering me through to the next room. It had a more homely feel compared to the hallway. Photos of Peter at various ages were hung around the room. There was an old looking red sofa in the corner, and the room had a few windows in it. This room was considerably more illuminated than the previous one.
Mrs Pettigrew blustered around a chest of drawers in the corner. After a few minutes, she finally remerged. “Here you go, Thalia,” she said while handing me the floo powder. “It was nice to meet you, even if it was only briefly. I hope I get to see you again.”
“Thank you again, Mrs Pettigrew, and Peter,” I smiled at the pair of them. “I’m so grateful for this, and I do hope to meet you again. See you back at school, Peter.”
I headed over to the fireplace, and said loudly and clearly, “Montague Place,” which was the name of my home. I had one last fleeting glace at the Pettigrews and saw them standing there waving to me.
There were such nice, considerate people. It was hard to come by people like that. I really must make more of an effort of being nice to Peter, I thought. The mass of different homes swirled in front of me, and I concentrated on not getting sick.
To call the following days since my escapade unpleasant would be an understatement. Mother’s moods were extremely irrational so I couldn’t predict whether I would receive a stony silence or a screaming fit.
My birthday passed without a word from her. Minnie made me a cake. We had to eat in secret in the kitchen, because Mother would not be pleased if she found me with it. Other than that, I received cards and presents from the girls, and a dainty little bracelet from George. There was one last present which still puzzled me. It was just a piece of paper with a muddy paw print on it. I didn’t know anyone who had a dog, or recognised the elegant grey owl, so the sender remained unknown.
It was Christmas Eve today, and I certainly did not feel in the festive spirit. The decorations were sparse around the house, due to Mother thinking it lowered the elegance of our home. I was now sitting in my new dress robes, trying to have my hair teased into something other than a mass of curls. I had become a mannequin once again. I felt for Minnie though, as this was proving to be a hard task.
“That should be fine. Leave it now, Minnie. Thalia’s already caused me enough embarrassment this week. I do not want her to cause me anymore by making us late for the Potter’s ball,” Mother snapped at Minnie, while sauntering into my room.
“If I’m such an embarrassment, don’t take me with you then,” I shot back.
“I would if I could, but the Potters seem to want to see you for a reason, and specifically listed your name in the invitation. I suppose you have to come. Let’s go. We’re already running late as it is,” Mother said sternly, and promptly marched out of my room.
“Thanks for doing my hair Minnie. It looks great,” I whispered to the elf.
“It’s okay Miss Thalia. Have fun tonight,” Minnie said quietly.
“I’ll try to. See you later.” I followed Mother down the stairs and grabbed hold of her arm to apparate to the Potters. I had a great sense of déjà vu while doing so. The last time I went out with Mother the consequences were rather disastrous. Hopefully, this time would be better.
The Potter house was a hive of activity when we apparated onto the path. Guest after guest popped up out of nowhere, each one converging towards one entrance point. Mother was very distressed that we had to wait to get in. She huffed angrily and tapped her foot on the floor to let out her impatience.
We remained silent during the wait. Neither of us uttered a single word. We stuck out sorely compared to the other guests, who were all eagerly anticipating what spectacle the Potters had laid out for us this year.
Once we finally made it into the house, it was well worth the wait. The famously all Gryffindor family went along with their ancestral house colour scheme. Crimson and gold were everywhere. There were multiple Christmas trees which lined the each room. They all looked as if each decoration placed onto them had been meticulously positioned.
Waiters wore red and gold nutcracker uniforms, artfully carrying trays of drinks around the masses of people congregated in the entrance hall. The Potters had certainly put on a show.
Due to the sheer amount of people crammed into their already large house, I lost Mother very easily. The odd candle here and there that served as dim lighting made it easy to lose anyone. I wasn’t too devastated. It usually ended up like that. I was left to wander around on my own. Mrs Potter would come over occasionally and asking me if I was alright, while Mother mingled among the elite.
This time it would be different. I actually had people among my own age to talk to. I was rather glad that I could count James and Sirius as sort of friends. They were really nice people, and they would certainly liven up the party for me.
“Thalia, dear! How are you? Did you have a good birthday? Aren’t you looking beautiful tonight, those robes really do suite you!” A very familiar voice asked me.
“I’m good, Mrs Potter. My birthday was mainly non-eventful, but I did get some nice cards and presents from my friends.” I was immediately wrapped up into Mrs Potter’s tight hug.
“Well, that’s nice. I haven’t had a chance to speak to your mother. Is she around at all?” Mrs Potter inquired, not sounding too keen at the prospect of doing so. She didn’t seem to think too highly of my mother, and only spoke to her out of courtesy.
“She’s somewhere. Last time I saw her she was talking to that fellow who features in The Prophet a lot. I think his name’s Cornelius Fudge.” I was cut off by a new arrival.
“Mum, leave Thalia alone. You don’t want to be boring her with adult talk. Let her come and hang out with the youngsters. That’s where the fun is happening,” James Potter interjected.
“James, I was not bothering her. I was merely inquiring on how she was. If you can think of a more fitting way to entertain her, please do so,” Mrs Potter joked.
“I will. Thalia, please may I have the honour of dancing with you?” James asked sincerely.
“After what happened last time? No thanks, James,” I laughed.
“I have been practising actually, and I would be very offended if you said no,” James said earnestly.
“Fine. But if you tread on my toes, I’m leaving.” It would be interesting to see if he had finally gotten rid of his two left feet.
I was led to the ballroom where couples were dancing with varying degrees of success. James led me round the room in a very erratic version of a waltz. He seemed to think that it was necessary to duck me right down to the floor, which made it extremely hard to return to a vertical state. Fortunately, someone chose to cut in.
“Miss Longwood, I do believe you promised to dance with me. I can ensure you that I will do a much better job than James,” Sirius Black smirked at me.
He looked good tonight. He was wearing a smart set of black dress robes. His hair looked as if his hands had just run through it and his grey eyes were twinkling. Stop it Thalia! You’re dating someone else; you shouldn’t be having these thoughts about him. Besides, his ego was big enough as it was. It didn’t need to be stroked even more.
“Hey, I was doing a very good job, thank you very much.” James looked very affronted at the criticism of his dancing skills.
“Yes, but a promise is a promise, and Thalia said she would dance with me,” Sirius smiled at me.
“Sorry James, but I did say I would. I’m going to have to ditch you,” I replied, promptly letting go of James, and holding my hand out to Sirius.
“See Prongs, you can always charm a lady if you can dance,” Sirius joked to James. “Come on then, let me show you how dancing actually should be.” He grabbed hold of my hand, and placed it on his shoulder, while placing his other hand on my shoulder. Well, this was a very, erm, cosy position I was in. I was so close to Sirius that I caught a waft of his cologne. It was a pleasant smell.
“Ready?” Sirius smiled down at me. I had never realised how tall he was before. I wasn’t exactly on the short side of things.
“Of course. I have my hopes set on you being a better dancer then James, so you’d better not dash my dreams,” I smiled back.
“I told you before; I’m trained in most ballroom dances. My mother viewed it as necessary,” Sirius glowered at her name. He obviously still hadn’t gotten over his argument with her which caused him to leave. I wasn’t going to ask about it. I knew from experience; being pestered about these things didn’t make it any better. The string quartet began to play a new piece of music. I think it was the Blue Danube Waltz, by some muggle composer. Only the Potters would include muggle music.
As soon as the first note began, I was swept around the room. Sirius was right. He was a good dancer. He seemed to glide with ease. All I could do was try and not look too ridiculous beside him. I could see how beneficial it was to have dancing lessons, and it even made me rather envious that I never got to experience them.
We remained silent throughout the dance. It was a different kind of silence to what Mother and I had. It was a comfortable silence. I was so wrapped up in the moment, I failed to realise that the dance had ended. The string quartet was evidently taking a break, placing their instruments on the floor.
Sirius leaned in and whispered in my ear so quietly that I almost didn’t hear him, “Thalia, I need to tell you something.”
“Sure, what is it?” I asked sounding rather perplexed at his need to whisper.
“Not here, it’s too…important. Over there.” Sirius motioned to a set of French windows which led out onto a balcony.
“Erm, yeah, okay.” I was still confused about this. The fact he couldn’t say it in here only aroused my suspicions even more. I followed Sirius out to the balcony. None of us felt the need to detach our hands from one another.
“I ran away from home,” Sirius said bluntly. So it was about that then. I just had this fleeting feeling it might be about something else.
“I know. You’re the talk of the town, Mr Black. Everyone wants to know the true story,” I replied, hoping that my jokey spirit would lighten the mood.
“I’m always the talk of the town, and it’s never for a good reason. It’s part of the reason I had to leave,” Sirius said quietly. “Perhaps if I wasn’t such a failure, it wouldn’t have happened.”
“Sirius you are not a failure,” I replied, and wrapped him up in a hug to comfort him. “I know what it is like to have an awful home life, and you are so brave for being able to escape it. I don’t think many failures have the amount of courage you do.” I looked up at him, and his eyes seemed a little brighter after saying that.
“Thanks. You’re one of the few who understands. I can’t comprehend what happened. It was awful, and they did nothing to stop it,” Sirius spat out angrily. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be ruining your evening with my problems.”
“It’s fine. That’s what friends are for.” I smiled at him and saw he was retuning it. He had a nice smile. It made crinkle lines across his face, and you could see it in his eyes.
“I haven’t been a great friend tonight, though. I didn’t even compliment you on how beautiful you looked,” he said quietly. His compliment caused me to blush. I tried to avoid his gaze, but he removed one of his hands from my back, and placed it along my jaw bone. “You really do look beautiful.”
I wasn’t really sure what happened next. I managed to return his gaze for a few seconds, and in that time I caught Sirius’ head moving closer to me. Then suddenly his lips crashed onto mine. I didn’t know how to respond. My head was saying one thing and my heart another. I finally gave into the moment and returned the kiss.
His grip around my body became tighter, and the kiss stronger once I began to return it. The rumours had been true. Sirius Black certainly was a good kisser. I would have carried on like that, if I hadn’t come to my senses. I immediately sprung away from him when I realised what I had done.
“Sirius, what are you doing? I can’t do this, I really can’t do this. I’m meant to be dating George, and then I kiss you! I’m a horrible person,” I cried out. I wasn’t sure if it was directed at Sirius or myself.
“Thalia, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know what I was thinking,” Sirius said running his hands anxiously through his hair.
“It’s not good enough. I should have stopped myself. Look what I’ve turned into! I’ve got to go. I’ve got to leave,” I muttered to myself. I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I felt awful. I promised myself I would never break anyone’s heart like my mother had done. Now, I was just following in her footsteps.
“No, Thalia, wait! We need to talk about this,” Sirius cried out.
“Go away, Sirius! I can’t talk about it; it will just make it worse. I need to leave,” I ran back into the ballroom, and into the next room. I tried as much as I could to distance myself from him and the trouble that would happen if I stayed.
Author Note: Yay they finally kissed, even if it didn’t end too well! What did you think of it though, and the rest of the chapter, I had to make Pettigrew nice for once. A massive thank you to my beta pixileanin who’s been updating all of my chapters! Thank you for reading, and if you want to be awesome you could leave a review!
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