Chapter 5 : Fallout
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“Vectors describe the direction and magnitude of well, just about anything. We’re applying them to spells; some spells are more affective if fired at a certain angle, with a certain force.”
“But what do vectors have to do with magic?”
“Did I not just say?”
Sirius sighed and put his head in his hands.
“I just don’t understand it.”
“Don’t worry, I know how you feel.”
“How the hell would you know? You’re good at everything.”
Shaking my head, I replied,
“Divination. Third year. I suffered through that shit for the entire year before I dropped it. I just don’t know how I’m supposed to see anything in that damn crystal ball! And reading tea leaves, come on. If you’re a seer, you’re a seer. You can’t teach it! Divination is a useless subject!” As I spoke, my voice rose in volume and decibel until I was practically shrieking. Sirius lifted his head, trying hard not to laugh.
“Shut up.” I muttered. “That’s a sore spot. How do they expect me to be good at it when I don’t have the inborn ability necessary to be a seer! How?!” Now, Sirius had given up on trying to contain himself and was slumped over on his desk, laughing uncontrollably.
“Mister Black. Miss LeFaye. You are supposed to be working on your homework. Silently,” Professor Seine reprimanded, glaring at the two of us. We both shut up and sat up; she was not a teacher to be messed with, much like McGonagall in that way. She even resembled our head of house, just with chestnut hair instead of black, tied up in the same severe bun to accent the same sharp bone structure.
I leaned over my (already finished) assignment and scribbled something in the corner. Then, making sure Seine didn’t see, I levitated the paper and let it down softly on Sirius’s desk. I could see him reading the note out of the corner of my eye, and therefore was witness to the smile that dawned on his handsome face. The note, in my impeccably beautiful script, read:
Everybody sucks at something. Don’t judge me.
Sirius dipped his quill in his pot of ink, and scribbled a response below mine, levitating the paper over to me non-verbally. I grinned as he looked proud of that small accomplishment. Seeing this, he scowled at me, and I rolled my eyes good-naturedly in response. Glancing down at the parchment, I read his reply.
I won’t tell anyone, don’t worry. That is, as long as you don’t spill about my unfortunate vector problem.
I narrowed my eyes at his messy, cramped handwriting. Obviously the beautiful calligraphy on the Marauder’s Map was not his. Then I looked up and mouthed to Sirius,
He grinned and held out his fist. With one eye on Seine, I reached out and bumped it, an abbreviated version of our usual handshake. Focusing back on my parchment, I received a nasty shock. The entire paper was covered in insults and curse words, all directed at me. Psycho bitch. Fucking whore. My face immediately went cold and expressionless. I was angry. I clenched my fists, working to contain my sudden rage. I could feel the flames flickering over my palms, and focused all of my attention on getting rid of them.
Calm down. You’ll find out who did this, then you’ll teach them that you really are a psycho bitch, I told myself. I waved my wand and the profanity disappeared, but not before Sirius had noticed my expressionlessness and gotten a good look at what caused it. He looked at me, eyes blazing.
“Who did this?” He mouthed, livid. I just shrugged calmly, now under control. Strangely enough, Sirius seemed to have that affect on me- whenever I looked at him with rage in my blood, I immediately calmed down. He, on the other hand, only seemed to get angrier.
“I’m going to-” He didn’t even finish the sentence, enraged as he was.
“Shut up!” I snapped, glaring at him firmly. He did that, though his face was still dark with anger. “I can handle it,” I snarled. My head was pounding, for some reason, and I felt the strangest sensation throughout my body. It wasn’t anger; no, I was too calm for that. It felt almost like... pain. How strange. But it couldn’t be. No, it wasn’t pain. It was more like an out-of-body experience- I knew I should be mad, should be hurt, but I wasn’t, quite.
At that moment, the bell rang loudly throughout the castle, and everyone in our quiet classroom jumped. Quickly, I memorized everyone’s faces, then fell into step with Sirius as he strode out of class.
“Who did that?” He asked immediately, not bothering to keep his voice quiet. I looked around at everyone exiting the room, seeing if they reacted at all to my friend’s loud comment. Nope, no one. Then again, they were all too busy rushing to lunch as fast as possible.
“I already told you, I don’t know,” I answered, distracted as I mentally shuffled through the faces of everyone in the class, trying to match names to them.
“Well, we have to find out who did it!”
“I agree. After all, if we don’t know who did it, I could threaten the life of completely the wrong person. Now, we need to think logically,” I said as we descended the stairs and cut into an entrance of my secret passageway. “Who in that class had a reason to hate me?”
Sirius just looked at me as we took a right turn into a narrow, cramped hall. We both ducked, and his nose bumped into my cheek as we tried unsuccessfully to walk side by side. As I pushed him behind me, he uttered what was on his mind.
“Ellis, everyone in the entire school has a reason to hate you.”
“That’s true,” I allowed. “But whoever this was chose now to act, so I must have done something to them recently, otherwise they’re a psychopath who’s been biding their time. Creepily.” I started down a particularly dark length of the tunnel-like passage. “So logically, I should be able to tell who is pissed at me, say, at lunch. So just calm down Sirius, really.”
“Shouldn’t you be the angry one? Those were some really terrible insults!” I looked back at him, one eyebrow raised.
“I’ve been through worse. Much worse. Things that make this seem like... well, like someone called me a ‘meanie.’” I grinned suddenly at my own (truthful) comparison, teeth flashing in the darkness. “Don’t worry. I can handle it.”
Sirius was looking at me, his grey eyes thoughtful. Busy staring at him, I almost missed the “dead end,” as Lily had called it earlier, that led to just outside the Great Hall. Quickly, I snapped out of it, deciding not to analyze why I was so distracted, and stepped through the wall. Sirius followed me, and together we walked into the Great Hall, both glancing around the room for any tells about who the culprit was. Nothing; just the usual mass movement as all the boys over thirteen turned to stare at me, open-mouthed. Noticing that they were slobbering more than usual, I remembered that I had actually tried on my appearance today.
Rolling my eyes, my gaze landed on the Gryffindor table, and my heart dropped into my stomach. I stopped dead, as did Sirius. James was sitting with Remus and Peter, who were looking at him with concern evident on their face. It was obvious why. Despite the fact that he could usually eat the entire tray of sandwiches himself, there was nothing on his plate. His usually lively hazel eyes were dead-looking, and there was a somewhat catatonic air about him. Knowing the reason for his depression, I shifted my attention to Lily. Alice sat next to her, anxious eyes on Lily’s frustrated face. Surprisingly, she was not glaring at James, but at the Ravenclaw table. Gritting her teeth noticeably, she stabbed her fork into a piece of pineapple, making a screeching sound as the metal hit the ceramic plate.
“I should...” I gestured to Lily. Sirius nodded, eyes on his own best friend.
“Me too,” He murmured sadly, and I gave him a rare sympathetic smile before gliding over to Lily, my own problem temporarily forgotten.
I came and sat next to the red-head, tuning into her conversation with Alice; or rather, Lily’s monologue.
“-So unfair what she’s doing to him,” She spat, glaring at Mary and Henry. Surprised that she was still upset about that, I glanced at Alice questioningly. She just shrugged and looked longingly over at Frank, who was sitting with the quidditch team. It was obvious that she would rather be with her boyfriend, but had sacrificed that in order to be there for her friend. I was reluctantly impressed, as seemed to be the usual when it came to the petite, talented, and apparently self-sacrificing Alice.
“I mean, she says she loves him, but she really doesn’t. She’s just pretending, it’s all a big game, a lie! Or you know what, maybe she thinks she likes him, but she doesn’t really. She just likes what he can do for her, not him. In fact, she doesn’t even know him! Maybe, you know what, maybe she could love him, maybe she could have a chance with him if she just tried to change! But he never does!”
I wasn’t surprised to hear Lily shift pronouns. After all, it was pretty obvious that she was projecting her problems.
“And maybe I could love him, but he won’t even try to change! He doesn’t really love me. He thinks he does, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t even know me.”
I didn’t know what to do. For the first time since I was eight years old, I felt totally helpless. I had no idea what I could do to help my best friend. So, hesitantly, I put an arm around her and let her rest her head on my shoulder. Apparently, that worked. Because then Lily started to cry.
“I just thought that maybe,” She sobbed. “Maybe he would open up, when I told him. Maybe he would beg me not to go out with Conrad, maybe he would actually tell me he loved me, maybe he would kiss me, something, anything!”
I rubbed circles on her back with one hand, while with the other I reached out a took a ham and cheese sandwich, bringing it carefully to my mouth. Taking a large bite, I hummed in sympathetic agreement.
“What did he do?” I asked soothingly, once I had swallowed my mouthful.
“He said he didn’t care,” Lily’s chest heaved with tears. Suddenly angry with James, I looked over at him. He didn’t seem to even notice that Lily was weeping. I switched my cross gaze to Sirius, who noticed me watching and shrugged helplessly. He was busy trying to stop James from blowing up the Slytherin table, I would think.
“He asked me why I was even telling him,” Lily continued, her sobs slowly subsiding as she transitioned from frustrated and sad to depressed.
“I said because I thought there was something between us, and then he said there obviously wasn’t, because if there was I wouldn’t be dating Conrad. And then I said I was only doing that because I was mad at him, but looking at him now I wasn’t so mad anymore. And then I told him to give me a reason not to go out with Conrad, and he hesitated for a moment, like he was going to, but then...” Lily sniffled, and I patted her shoulder, cramming the last of my sandwich into my mouth.
“And then?” Alice prompted in her quiet, kind voice.
“And then he said ‘why would I’ and walked away.”
Lily’s shoulders slumped, and she stared down at the table in despair.
“Come on, let’s get you back to the dormitory,” I whispered to her, taking her arm and standing up. I figured the two of us- three, if you included Alice- could miss one Charms class. We were all extremely good at it, the top students along with Sirius and James.
As that thought crossed my mind, I automatically checked on my other friends. Sirius was whispering hurriedly in James’s ear, his expression earnest. Remus and Peter would chime in occasionally, their mouths moving quickly with ideas. James, for his part, was perking up slightly. I resented him that. It was his own damn fault that he was this miserable; if he could just let go of his idiotic pride, he could have had the girl of his dreams. But no. He was too arrogant, too immature.
Turning my head away, Alice and I marched Lily out of the Great Hall. I led the way to my secret passageway, resigned to the fact that now one more person knew about it. Soon enough, the whole school would know. Oh well. It wasn’t like anyone could even use it without me coming along. My wand was needed to enter all of the many entryways to the web of tunnel-like passages.
None of us talked on our way to the dorm. Upon our arrival, Lily shook us off and stumbled up the spiral staircase to the sixth year girls’ hall. Once there, she collapsed onto my bed- I guessed because even in her catatonic state she remembered that my drapes were soundproof. Alice, ever polite, looked at me for permission (which I granted with a self-important nod) before sitting next to Lily on my bed. For my part, I closed the drape definitively before setting down on the other side of Lily. Hurriedly, I racked my brain for anything, anything at all, that would be appropriate in this situation. Finally, I came up with something quite genius, if I do say so myself.
“Chocolate!” I announced, pulling out a box of truffles from under my pillow. Alice and Lily both looked at me in surprise.
“What?” I asked somewhat combatively. “I’m human. Therefore I like chocolate.”
“Are you human though?” Alice checked doubtfully, the first joke I’d ever heard her make. “‘Cause sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.” Lily let out a watery chuckle and took a dark chocolate truffle. I exchanged a triumphant look with Alice; I was new at this, and I was guessing she was too. Although Alice and Lily had always been friends, prior to a few weeks ago, it had always been Mary who handled this sort of thing.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked Lily directly, as was my style.
“No,” She answered softly. “Just distract me, please.”
“Frank kissed me,” Alice said suddenly, before I could cut in with my own psycho bitch problem, as I was beginning to refer to it in my mind. I was guessing that she had actually been longing to tell us (or at least Lily) this since it had happened, but deferred to Lil’s greater problem.
“OH MY GOD!” Lily squealed, immediately distracted by the couple she deemed ‘most adorable in school.’ “How was it? Tell me everything!”
Despite myself, I leaned in, curious. I had never kissed a boy- at least for real. I mean, I’d kissed them because it was part of the persona I’d built up around myself, or because I wanted something, or for revenge on someone else. But I’d never had feelings for someone, so I’d never really kissed someone. Or at least, I’d never felt anything when I had.
“It was amazing.” Alice’s pale cheeks flushed pink. “It was at the end of our Hogsmeade date, and of course we’ve been dating ever since. I think...” She looked around at the two of us, biting her slightly thin lower lip, brown eyes gleaming. “I think this could really be something, guys.”
Lily squealed again, hiding her own pain behind a mask of happiness and pride in her friend that wasn’t in the least fake. I didn’t squeal (I mean really? I’m so not a squealer- it was kind of annoying, sorry Lily), but I smiled, and for once it reached my eyes. That was once rare, but I had realized that it was becoming more and more common ever since the day I became friends with James.
I felt a pang in my chest. He was my friend too, but I knew I would have to give him the cold shoulder, at least in public, to show solidarity with Lily. I could live with that, though. I had a best friend now. And that meant she had to come first.
After an entire afternoon of chocolate and gossip (and eventually firewhisky) with Lily and Alice, I stumbled down into the common room, exhausted and slightly tipsy. Despite how tired I was from staying up all last night, I couldn’t sleep. There was too much on my mind; I needed to go flying, the only surefire way to clear my head. I would make it a quick one, so I could at least get some sleep in. Let’s see, it was midnight now? I would try to be back by one. One thirty, latest.
But my plans were all shot to hell when I arrived at the bottom of the stairs and found Sirius sitting on the couch, waiting for me.
“I’m sorry, did we have plans?” I said rudely, wanting him to just go to bed. Because then I could go flying, and then I could finally get some sleep.
“Well, I thought we could use this time to discuss our little psycho bitch problem.”
“And why couldn’t we do that in the morning?”
“Because Lily and James currently hate each other. And you’re her best friend, and I’m his, which means we’re supposed to hate each other.”
“You have a point,” I admitted, rubbing my temple. I didn’t know how much more I could handle on no sleep. At least this conversation might serve as an alternative to my midnight flight, meaning I could go to sleep afterwards. I immediately perked up a little bit, shaking off the worst of my drunkenness and taking a seat next to Sirius on the couch.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” He teased.
“I said you have a point,” I said coldly, not putting up with any of his shit.
“Wow, I don’t think you’ve ever said that before. To, like, anyone.”
“Don’t get used to it, asshole.”
“Watch your language, LeFaye!”
“Watch your own mother fucking language,” I threw back tiredly, rubbing my temple again. It was only then that Sirius seemed to notice what a bad mood I was in.
“Let’s get to it, then.” He said. “Did you notice anything at lunch?”
“I was too busy dealing with a sobbing Lily Evans,” I yawned, slumping against the couch.
“I thought you were an expert at multi-tasking.”
“My skills tend to take a dive when I’m running on no sleep.”
“Well, how did it go, anyway?”
“We distracted her temporarily with chocolate and gossip. How’d it go with James?”
“We distracted him temporarily with planning an infamous Marauder prank.”
“Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.” I said wryly, closing my eyes.
“You’ll see tomorrow, anyway.” Sirius grinned. “It’s a big one.” I groaned. I swear, those four were the most immature people I’d ever met. They didn’t even use their animagus superpowers to do anything interesting- just to roam around the grounds with a werewolf every full moon.
“Why am I even friends with you?” I mumbled.
“Because we’re interesting,” Sirius responded with a wink.
“If nothing else,” I retorted sharply.
That was it. I was tired of this. We were wasting time. So I pulled out my wand and pointed at his forehead.
“Shut up and let’s make this quick. All right?”
Sirius went cross eyed as his vision narrowed to my wand tip, pointed so threateningly at his third eye.
“All right,” He said, voice rough. I smiled and stowed my wand.
“Great. Now think, who have I hurt lately?”
“Why are you asking me?”
“Because I tend not to notice when I hurt people.”
He gave me an odd look, which I responded to by staring straight into his stormy eyes, a challenge. No, I didn’t notice when I hurt people. Nor did I care. Why should I? They didn’t matter. None of them did. Not to me, not now, not ever. But I mattered. So I should do whatever I wanted to do, for me. Be who I was, screw everyone else.
He looked at me, with my challenging gaze, and my false pretenses built up like walls around me. So many that it seemed no one would ever break through, no one would ever really know the real me. Good. That was the purpose, after all, of my bitchy attitude and my cruelty, why I flaunted my beauty and showed off my talent.
So that no one, ever, could know the real me. Because if anyone found out who I was, they would run. They would run fast and far, and never come back.
And then I would truly be alone.
“What about Jason?” Sirius suggested suddenly, breaking off our extended eye contact.
“Jason Holden?” I checked.
“Who else could it be?” He sneered.
“Well, there’s Jason Barlby, Jason Johnson, Jason Donahough, Jason McDowell... I could go on, if you like,” I responded, voice mocking.
“You’ve made your point,” Sirius growled, dog-like. I snickered.
“So what about Jason Holden?”
“Uh, you went out with him and then dumped him. Rudely.”
“How do you know it was rude? You weren’t there!”
“Seeing as it was you doing the dumping, I just assumed it was soulless.”
“That’s presumptuous to just assume that I am cruel when I dump my boyfriends.”
“Aren’t you, though?”
“At least I’m straightforward!” I protested, getting into the argument despite my wiser half warning me to just get this over with and go to sleep.
“I resent that implication!” Sirius was practically shouting now.
“God, bring it down a decibel,” I smirked. “All I meant was that you tend to lead girls on, and then break their hearts when they find you cheating on them and realize you never had any real feelings for them.”
“THAT’S WHAT I RESENT YOU SAYING!”
“Shut up.” I waved my wand, charming the room with the same noise-canceling spell I’d used on my drapes. Honestly, I should have thought of that earlier.
“You know I’m right,” I pointed out once the spell was complete. Sirius sighed and slumped down, suddenly turning dejected.
“Yeah, I know you’re right. I just don’t want to admit that I am that way.”
“Why not?” I asked with a shrug. “Just be who you are, screw everyone else.” I almost chanted this, with the air of one who’s said it many times before. “I’m a bitch. But I don’t care. If people judge me for it, they judge me for it. I’m better than them all, why should I care?” The thing was, I actually believed this. And it was this philosophy that made me so irreverent and disrespectful to any and everyone. I liked being better than them all. And maybe that was just the way I had been raised, but it was true. For whatever reason, it was true.
“That’s depressing.” Sirius uttered flatly. I didn’t see how, but okay.
“Then if you don’t like yourself, change,” I muttered, annoyed. “Now can we get back to the original point? What’s Jason’s motivation?”
Sirius shook his head quickly to clear it of our conversation.
“It seemed like he really liked you. You went out-”
“Not even for a week,” I interrupted. “Doesn’t even count.”
“You went out,” Sirius repeated, glaring at me. “It counted to him. With you, I think even one day would count in a guy’s brain. I mean, for bragging rights alone.”
“Very well, then,” I said, a dangerous sparkle in my eyes. I was not some decoration to wear around, some possession to be had. I was not just something to be used for bragging rights.
“Then you dumped him, tactlessly.” I didn’t deny that. I had never, ever, bothered with tact. Useless thing, just like manners or propriety.
“So logically, he probably hates you, and wants to get back at you.”
Sirius leaned back triumphantly, draping an arm over the couch.
“But Jason isn’t in our Arithmancy class,” I pointed out.
“But Oliver Grant is!” He looked over at me in glee, his expression as if he had just discovered the cure to cancer (yes, I know what cancer is. We have it in the wizarding world too).
“And Oliver Grant is...” I prompted. Sirius frowned in disbelief.
“You honestly don’t know? He’s Jason’s best friend from Ravenclaw, sixth year like us, on the quidditch team, handsome... come on, everyone knows Oliver Grant.” I shook my head and shrugged.
“He can’t be that handsome, otherwise I would know him.”
“Well, obviously not as handsome as me.” Sirius said matter-of-fact-ly.
“I’m sure,” I drawled sarcastically.
Sirius glared at me, but for once it seemed to be good-naturedly. I didn’t respond, instead glancing over at the giant oak-and-iron grandfather clock in the corner. Already half past twelve?! Good lord, where had the time gone?
“Let’s wrap this up.” I decided, longing for sleep.
“You can just point Oliver out to me sometime tomorrow, all right?”
“Deal,” Sirius said, absentmindedly watching me as I slumped more comfortably down on the couch. “What are you going to do to him?”
I smirked. I had already planned this out, perfectly. It was a genius punishment.
“I’m going to be a psychotic bitch.”
“How is that any different than usual?” Sirius teased.
“Glad you asked!” I exclaimed in a mockingly enthusiastic voice. “See, I came up with the perfect punishment: he called me a psycho bitch, so I’m just going to be one! I’ll find some subtle- but not too subtle- way of letting him know that I know he was the culprit. And then I’ll be extra cruelly sweet to him. You know, when someone does that creepy thing where they’re so nice that you don’t trust them, because they keep giving you these freakishly predatory grins? Yeah, Bellatrix taught it to me. Eventually I’ll beat the shit out of him, but I’ll make him wait a nice long time for it. The anticipation is even worse than the actual punishment; and that’s the point.”
I grinned triumphantly, showing my teeth. Sirius was looking at me with a satisfying mix of horror and respect on his face. It took him a while to find his voice, especially after I let my smile fade and tilted my head to the side, bird-like. For some reason, he seemed to lose his train of thought after I did this. Funny; I had never found my bird-look to be one of my most attractive. But I guess Sirius was a dog, so maybe it was his animal instincts?
Not that I even cared.
“Good plan,” He finally replied, a little weakly.
“I know. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to sleep.”
And with that, I stood up and sauntered out of the common room. I couldn’t help but notice that Sirius’s eyes followed me all the way to the stairs, then up the spiral staircase until I was out of sight. Smilingly slightly, I allowed myself this small triumph. Although the boy was more or less immune to my beauty- unless I tried to turn it up a notch- it appeared he was not immune to my personality. Strange, though. I’d always figured that when people discovered the real me, they’d run.
After all, I was the type people run from.
It was upon this I ruminated when I finally fell into bed a few minutes later. I’d always thought that it was my horrible attitude that had kept all the Gryffindors at arms length for all these years; but now I was reconsidering. After all, I hadn’t changed a bit for Lily, James, or Sirius, and they all seemed to like me well enough. So maybe it wasn’t the real, scathing, sardonic me that had forced them away all these years, maybe it was the person I’d pretended to be around the Slytherins. Who cares, really. All I knew was that when I finally decided to get the guts to take a chance and possibly end up alone, they had followed me. And suddenly, I wasn’t alone. And I could be more myself than ever before.
With a slight smile, I drifted off to sleep, this pleasant thought enveloping my mind.
Just like Sirius had promised, I saw what the long-awaited Marauder prank was as soon as I walked into the Great Hall the next morning. Huge runaway fireworks- Filibuster’s, if I wasn’t mistaken- were shooting around the hall like rockets. I rolled my eyes as I was assaulted with a cacophony of screams and yells as girls (and some boys) hopped onto tables and just screamed instead of doing anything. I completely ignored the chaos around me and strode to my usual seat at the table. Although Lily and Alice were not there- Alice probably already having fled the chaos, Lily working with some teachers to attempt to gain some control over the situation- Mia was, for a change. She must have gotten tired of whichever boy she was screwing. At least she, unlike most of the girls in the room, wasn’t screaming in panic and clutching her “precious hair”.
“Hullo,” She greeted me as I sat down near her. I grinned sideways at her, appreciating the ironic tone of voice. A firework, this one shaped like a ferris wheel and moving like one too, sped towards us, and we both ducked easily. I took out my wand and pointed it at the retreating firework, which promptly exploded into a shower of red and gold sparks, which I then vanished. Then I stowed my silver wand away calmly, ignoring some incredulous glances at the space the firework had previously occupied. That was the problem with Filibuster’s- they were far too easy to get rid of. Someone should really enchant them so the just got worse the more you tried to banish them.
“Neat,” Mia commented uncaringly, turning back to her breakfast.
“Thanks,” I returned just as lazily, piling my plate full of waffles and Vanishing another Filibuster- this one shaped like a large rat- that looked to be trying to eat my food. Lily, seeing me do this, caught on and Vanished her own firework. Non-verbally. I raised an eyebrow and whistled under my breath, impressed. She seemed to have caught onto the whole non-verbal thing rather quickly. And here was me thinking Sirius would be the fastest.
No, he’s too busy being so incredibly mature, I thought, eyeing a corner of the Hall, where I could just barely see the bottoms of four sets of disembodied shoes. The Marauders looked to be enjoying their handiwork through the screen of James’s foolproof cloak. I rolled my eyes as I visualized their childish giggles and brightly triumphant faces. Why did they even bother to do this kind of thing, anyway? It was completely pointless- although I could see the humor in this, at least, with all the people running around screaming, chaos reigning.
In fact, besides me, the only calm person in the entire hall was Mia, chewing unconcernedly on her piece of toast. Seeing my bored eyes on her, she raised a cool eyebrow and drawled,
“What? Fireworks just don’t do it for you?”
“Can’t be that,” I answered in the same tone. “Frankly, I’m aroused.”
She snorted. I laughed a bit, glad everyone else was too busy to listen, or even to stare at me. If they weren’t, I suspected several boys would already have tried to jump me. And I didn’t want to send so many people to the hospital wing this early in the morning.
Just then, another firework barreled towards us, nearly hitting Mia in the face. But just in time, she flicked her wand and a solid shield charm, of the type I was under the impression I had invented, sprouted from the end. When the firework (shaped like a Bludger) hit the shield, it shattered into a shower of sparks. The firework, that is. Mia’s shield, amazingly, didn’t even flicker. My eyes flew open in surprise.
Wasn’t she supposed to be a dumb slut?
Seeing my obvious shock, Mia immediately stood up and grabbed her book, checking a nonexistent watch.
“Oh, look at the time! Gotta bounce!”
And with that, she hightailed it out of the Great Hall, leaving a piece of mostly uneaten toast smeared with strawberry jam behind her. I stared after her for a second, frozen in disbelief. Then my mind caught up, and I too was grabbing my bag and running gracefully out of the hall to catch up with Mia.
“What the hell was that?” I asked conversationally, falling into step with her as she fast-walked towards the dormitory.
“What was what?” She responded, somewhat uncomfortably.
“Your inexplicably strong non-verbal shield charm.”
“Oh, that,” She let out an uneasy laugh. “Just something I’ve been perfecting.”
“Aren’t you a stupid whore, though?” I asked with my usual self-assured air. Mia’s face went blank. Not hurt, not upset, not even just pissed. Blank.
“Yes. I am.” She gave me a significant look and walked ahead, leaving me behind her, head tilted slightly. So for some reason, Mia didn’t want it to get out that she could actually do something. Why, though? Yes, it was her own choice to be a slut, I wasn’t going to judge her for that. Maybe look down on her, but as I keep saying, I do that to everyone. But what I was going to look down on her for was that she was hiding her own intelligence. Why would she ever do that? If you’re smart, be smart. Simple as that.
Still a little confused, I turned around and headed back to the chaotic Great Hall. Once there, I didn’t bother trying to impose order on anything, instead just wading into the fray, grabbing Lily’s elbow, and forcibly dragging her out.
“I was trying to help out!” She protested, shaking me off.
“We’ve got class soon, and if you want to yell at James and them I thought you should do it now, so we’re not late.”
“I’m not speaking to James. And them,” She added as an afterthought. I sighed sadly.
“You can, though,” Said my best friend.
“I can what?”
“Speak to them. I know James and Sirius are your friends.”
I frowned at Lily, confused. Didn’t that break the unwritten best friend code? And wasn’t it strange for her to give me permission to do it?
“But you’re my best friend,” I said slowly, wondering if perhaps her brain was addled by all the firewhisky she had consumed last night.
“But James was your first friend,” She pointed out, voice quiet and logical.
“I had plenty of friends before him!” I protested.
“But didn’t you tell me you secretly hated them?”
“Well, not in so many words.”
“You’re not denying it, though.”
“I can’t... after all, it’s true.”
Lily laughed at this, her somber face lighting up with humor.
“I mean it, Ellis. Just because I’m mad at James doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with him- and Sirius.”
I paused, looking over at her.
“Are you sure, Lils?”
“Of course,” She smiled fondly (I don’t think anyone’s looked at me that way before) at me then laughed slightly before adding, “As long as I still come first!”
“Always,” I promised, hugging her with one arm. She put her arm around my waist, smiling, and we walked to class like this, the best of friends. In the back of my mind, I wondered why I hadn’t realized what I was missing earlier. Wait. No, I knew why.
I just wish I didn’t.
Lily’s first date with Conrad was on Friday night- in other words, tonight. Despite all of the drama with James, she was still extremely excited about it; he was going to raid the kitchens (did everyone know about them now?) and prepare a moonlight picnic for her on top of the Astronomy tower. Incredibly romantic. It also meant that my special spot for transformations would be taken. Damn. I guess I would have to go old-school and use my own window instead. As this thought crossed my mind, I automatically looked up to check that said window was unlocked- I had gotten locked out of my dorm once before, and having left my wand in my room, I had had to sneak back to the common room like a criminal, hiding in corners thanks to my lack of a disillusionment spell. I swore never to do that again; much too low-brow for my taste.
“So which one?” Lily, sitting on the ground next to me, held up two blouses. I raised an eyebrow and examined them. The first was green and white, tones guaranteed to set off her bright emerald eyes, while the second was a shimmery black, sure to look fantastic in the moonlight.
“I don’t know, they would both look amazing,” I said honestly.
“You have to help, I’m terrible at making decisions!” She wailed, tossing both shirts on the ground in disgust.
“I’ve noticed,” I remarked dryly, remembering how long she had agonized over whether or not to tell James how she felt- that was before Conrad asked her out, of course. Lily shot me a dirty look, as if she knew the path my thoughts were following. Hey, she had given me permission to be friends with James, didn’t that mean I could still think about her and James? I sighed, relenting.
“Wear the black. It’s less you, but it will look better at night. The green and white is more of a daytime thing.” I paused. “Besides, Conrad will like the black one better.” Lily frowned at me.
“How do you know that?” I shrugged.
“I know what boys like.” I gestured to myself as explanation. This wasn’t completely true, however. Yes, I did generally know what guys preferred, but in this case it wasn’t my instinct that told me which shirt Conrad would prefer. No, it was the type of guy he was. Since Wednesday, he had eaten with Lily and me- and occasionally Alice too- for every meal. I noticed that Jason stayed at the Ravenclaw table, accompanied by Oliver Grant; who, incidentally, I made a point to smile threateningly at whenever I got the chance. Brushing pointedly by him in the hallway didn’t hurt, either. But I’m getting off topic.
See, after spending a few days around Lily’s new boyfriend (after tonight, it would be official) I felt like I knew him. Actually, I felt like I’d known many hims. He was one of those outwardly nice, inwardly slimy ones. Of course, there was nothing to prove it besides a hunch, which was why I hadn’t told Lily. But still, I had noticed him staring at her in that all-too-familiar lascivious way, even as he laughed at her comments and held her hand in the hallway. So I knew that he would like the more sexy, low-cut black blouse rather than the loose-knit, drape-y green and white sweater.
“All right, I trust your judgement,” Lily said, stripping off her uniform shirt (she always wore those, good girl that she was- I never bothered), and slipping into the nicer one. I rolled my eyes inwardly as I imagined the boys’ reactions if they could see this. They would literally be slobbering. Yes, Peter, girls change in front of each other. We don’t care. So don’t be such a pervert about it.
“What?” Lily asked as I let out a small snort. I grinned.
“Just imaging the guys’ reactions if they could see this.” Lily blushed deeply but added,
“I expect they would find it hard not stare,”
“I don’t think that’s the only thing they would find hard,” I muttered. Lily laughed so much at this that she actually fell backwards and rolled onto her side, hiccuping. I laughed too, appreciating both my own joke and Lily’s priceless reaction.
“Want me to do your hair?” I volunteered once we had control of ourselves again.
“Nah,” Lily responded, cheeks still pink, a smile lingering on her lips. “I think I’m just going to leave it down. But you are going to teach me those hair spells one day!”
“Definitely,” I promised, grinning.
Within an hour, Lily had finished with her makeup, exchanged her plaid skirt for a pair of nice-looking jeans, and strapped unrealistically high heels onto her feet. I eyed the black pumps doubtfully.
“How can you even walk in those?”
She made a face.
“Practice.” I shuddered at the idea of wearing those hideously painful shoes so much that you got used to them. Ew.
“All right, I should go,” Lily said, taking a deep breath in nervous preparation.
“Have fun,” I winked and added, “But not too much fun.”
“Ellis!” She squealed, blushing.
“Or do, if you want to,” I continued, unfazed. “I don’t judge.” Lily rolled her eyes, now knowing I was teasing her.
“Have fun!” I called after her again as she walked out. She paused at the door to look back at me, an anxious look in her eyes.
“I will, right?” She checked, like for some reason she needed me to say this. Like she needed me to tell her that she’d made the right decision, saying yes to this. After all, there was no going back now. Only forward.
“You will if you really want to,” I said sagely, the only thing I could think of that wouldn’t give away my opinion of things while still telling the truth. Because you see, I didn’t think Lily really wanted to have fun. Her heart wasn’t in it.
Her heart was with someone else.
After helping my best friend get all gussied up for her date, I felt the somewhat rare feeling of wanting to look nice. Since I’d finished my homework while she freaked out over how her makeup should be (sexy? or more cute?), I decided to go with it. I did my hair into a loosely braided side bun, with wavy strands hanging down to frame my face. Then I picked out my one and only dress, a short, simple black number that I’d worn to my grandfather’s funeral more than a year ago, and slipped it on beneath the quintessential black witch’s robe. After accenting my features with simple makeup, I looked in the mirror appraising. Utterly, heart-wrenchingly beautiful, even more so than usual. All the same...
“I wear too much black,” I told my reflection before descending the stairs to join my other friends in the common room.
“Holy shit!” Louis yelled the moment he saw me. This attracted the attention of everyone else in the common room- so that was pretty much everyone in Gryffindor. Eight o’clock on Friday night was a prime time to hang out with your friends.
“Shut it,” I snarled at my quidditch teammate. I gave all the people staring at me death glares, and they turned away immediately; except for Louis. So I promptly hexed him. Fighting off giant bat-like things that kept flapping around his face, he shouted rhetorically,
“If you don’t want people to stare, why do you dress like that?!”
“Because I fucking want to,” I answered even though I didn’t have to. One of Louis’s friends cast the countercurse, and he gave me one last glare before turning around again. Smiling triumphantly, I walked over to the largest couch in the corner and plopped myself next to Alice and Frank, who were all cozy together and doing their DADA essays. Alice shot me a friendly smile before turning back to her boyfriend, and I sat back, content to observe everyone in the common.
Mia was snogging some random Hufflepuff in a dark corner. Seeing me looking at her, she raised an eyebrow and led the boy even farther back into the shadows. Frowning, I turned away from that spectacle. Mia stumped me. I just didn’t know what to make of her. Note to self: figure out Amelia Canterbury.
In the middle of the expanse of carpet in front of the fire, a handful of fifth years played exploding snap, while farther along Kylie and her third year friends built houses out of the same exploding cards. Kylie’s best friend Michael seemed to have enchanted his, as it was now nine stories high, complete with turrets and spires, looking a bit like Chambord, my favorite French chateau. I smirked at the resemblance and gave the entire room a cursory glance.
The nerds were doing homework, the screw-offs playing with a niffler, the über-popular seventh years girls and boys flirting in a corner, the Marauders-
Where the hell were they?
“Shit,” I said clearly. Alice and Frank glanced over at me in surprise.
“Shit,” I repeated. “Shit, shit shit shit. God damn them.”
And with that, I stormed out of the common room, pissed, leaving a confused couple behind me. But I didn’t care.
“How could he?!” I ranted as I strode through the halls, disillusioned and casting locator spells as I went. “That IDIOT!” I mounted a large marble staircase, knowing where I was headed even without the locator spells.
“How stupid can that boy be? I mean, does he not have a brain? Idiot!” I muttered madly as I practically ran through the halls.
“Hello? Who’s there?” A painting of a large, pompous-looking man asked, looking around wildly.
“Fuck off,” I spat, not even pausing as I passed by. I was too angry to concentrate on anything but finding him. I ran up yet another flight or stairs, and started down a long, open-air hallway. Dammit. We were close; they’d better be here, or I might not be able to catch up with them. I cast another locator spell, and this time I was rewarded with a ghosty white glow at the end of the hall. Finally.
I sprinted down the long bridge-like passage, catching up to them within seconds. Reaching out, I tore the Invisibility cloak off of James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I snarled. A long, tense silence followed as each of the Marauder struggled to think up a believable excuse. Even Remus, the smoothest talker when it came to getting out of trouble, seemed to be having difficulties.
“Uh...” He started, but didn’t say anything else.
“Well?” I snapped, glaring at James. He said nothing, just looked down at the ground guiltily.
“Please tell me you are not crashing Lily’s date.” I turned my murderous glare on each of them in turn. It was Peter, predictably, who cracked first.
“We are,” He squeaked, face red with shame. Sirius glowered at him resentfully, reminding me of the look he gave to James when his antics got them both in trouble with a teacher. Rather funny comparison, if you were in the mood.
Which I wasn’t.
“Leave. Now.” None of them moved. “You heard me, go!” My whisper had practically turned to a shout by now.
“Ellis, please. I just need to-” James started.
“Need to what?” I interrupted. “Ruin Lily’s perfect night? She’s had a pretty shitty week, in case you didn’t notice, and she was actually excited about this. So no. You don’t need to do anything.”
Chastised, James exchanged a glance with his best mate before attempting to strike a deal.
“Look, I just want to have a peak. See if they’re actually having fun, make sure he’s not trying anything, or...” James’s face turned dark as his thoughts went down that particular road. My face twisted, conflicted, as I considered what he was saying. He did have a valid point, actually. Conrad had been a perfect gentleman to Lily so far, but I didn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. Actually, I was betting I could throw him a whole lot farther than I trusted him.
“Just because he gives off a slimy aura,” I relented. A bright, triumphant smile broke out across James Potter’s face, and I held up a hand, stopping his yelp of celebration. “I will go check on them.” The smile slid off his face immediately.
“I’ll go with you,” Sirius volunteered, obviously so that he could report back to his best friend.
“I can agree to that,” I said, and James and Sirius exchanged a somewhat surprised look. They had obviously expected me to protest. Any other night I would have; but since a minute ago my revealer spell hadn’t just shown the four of them, I had the feeling I could use backup.
“Now shoo,” I ordered, and Remus obediently swung the Invisibility cloak over himself, Peter, and James, leaving Sirius and me out alone in the cold. Well, not quite alone. Even as I heard quiet, eerily detached footsteps pad off, I could see a small group of black-clad wizards in the distance, luckily the opposite passage than the one James & co. had been heading towards. And if I could see them, I bet anything Sirius could hear them. We both stood stock-still for a moment, listening and watching and wondering: when should we speak up? Too soon and the other may guess our respective secret; too late and it would be, well, too late. I chose the exact moment I started to hear voices- and apparently, Sirius chose that moment too.
“I can hear-”
“I can see-” We said in unison. He looked over at me, a look of comprehension dawning on his face. I smiled wickedly and pulled out my long silver wand.
“You up for it?” I mouthed, moving to the middle of the open-air hallway in order to intercept the approaching crowd. He nodded grimly and joined him, pulling out his own darkly colored wand.
Apparently my hearing was better than their sight, because I could hear them far before they caught sight of the both of us.
“Why are we doing this again?” I recognized the voice, and the face. After all, it bore an uncanny resemblance to the one of the man standing next to me. Sirius tensed at the sound of his brother’s voice, his teeth clenching and wand raising.
“Revenge,” That was Lestrange’s voice, much more familiar to me than Regulus’s.
“Bellatrix’s revenge.” Avery muttered resentfully. He’d never particularly like my brother’s girlfriend, making him my special favorite out of the group. Squinting, I also identified Mulciber, Rowle, and Dailey (all sixth years, none of whom usually hung out with Avery and Lestrange). But I didn’t think it strange that these three were accompanying my ex-friends; they were wannabe-Death Eaters, and Bellatrix was the supreme leader of all those. So whatever she wanted, they were quick to make sure she got.
“So you’re telling me you don’t want revenge?”
“Of course I do, but this seems like a daft way to get it.”
“No, it’s a genius way. We hurt Lily, we hurt her. And don’t risk death by dueling her.” I knew exactly who they were talking about.
“Well, that’s not entirely true, now is it?”
I stepped forward, twirling my wand in my hand, and Sirius shadowed me. Seeing the two of us in their path, Ro signaled for the group to stop. All of the boys immediately gave me the once-over, eyes lingering in... places. My eyes narrowed to slits, and beside me, Sirius let out a low growl.
“Ellis.” Ro acknowledged, scowling at me. “You’re here.”
“You should’ve know I would be,” I pointed out.
“And you brought backup,” Lestrange smirked at Sirius derisively.
“I see you did too,” I said, giving his five followers a once-over. “Let’s see, there’s you, Shadow Sirius, Avery, and those three, who honestly don’t have a fully functioning brain between all of them. You’ll need about fourteen more people to have even the semblance of a fair fight.”
Ro’s eyes went dark, and his mouth set with unmistakable hatred.
“We’ll see about that,” He said darkly, raising his wand. “Crucio!”
I didn’t move, didn’t raise my wand, didn’t even try to dodge out of the way. Because actually, I was glad that Lestrange was using this particular spell on me. It meant that Paxton hadn’t told them. I’d wondered, after I left him to his own devices, if he would spill. He had probably told Bellatrix, but for some reason had chosen not to disclose the information he possessed to the rest of her minions. And I was glad. Not because that signified some lingering loyalty to me; I had no illusions about what my family thought of me. No, I was glad because his unwillingness to share our history gave me a distinct advantage, at least in this particular instance.
I let the Unforgivable Curse hit me, feeling the distantly familiar tingling sensation as what was supposed to be pain ran through me. But see, I didn’t feel pain. Scientifically speaking, I figured that the part of my brain that was supposed to process pain was simply broken. Burned out. Overused?
For whatever reason, it didn’t work. Therefore, I didn’t feel pain. That wasn’t always a good thing, obviously, but right now it was.
Everyone gaped at me as I stood there, illuminated by the red light of Lestrange’s curse, completely unaffected. I grinned and raised my wand, slashing it through the air. A purple shadow streamed out to float, ghost-like, through Lestrange’s chest. With a final, surprised yelp, he fell to the ground, his skin a dangerously pale shade. Avery rushed forward, trying to ennervate his fallen friend. It didn’t work, however. That spell had been invented by my brothers, which meant they had made sure- with methodic testing- that it was not easy to reverse.
At the thought of my brothers, a stone-cold, cruelly uncaring expression wormed its way onto my face.
“Now then,” I started, surveying the six Slytherins. “Weren’t you trying to hurt my best friend?” Pointing my wand tip to the ground, I drew a glowing silver line on the dark stone floor. I gestured to it.
“Cross it. I dare you.”
Mulciber, being the special kind of moron he was, took a step forward, his toe crossing the line. Sirius and I reacted at the same time; he sent a jinx that caused Mulciber to fly back in the air, stunned, while I cast one that made thorns sprout under his skin, forcing their way painfully up towards open air. He cried out in pain as he landed, small trickles of blood appearing all over his body.
“I wasn’t actually daring you, idiot.” Hurting and then insulting a man I’d never liked actually cheered me up, and I put my previous anger out of my mind.
“Now are you going to leave, or are we going to have to make you?” Sirius chimed in threateningly, taking a step towards his brother. Regulus glared at him, a slighter, less handsome version of Sirius.
“I say we make them,” I interjected, absolutely serious. “I’m in the mood for a good fight.”
And then, of course, they all left.
“How come they always go when I want them to stay, and they always used to stay when I wanted them to go?”
“It’s the way of the universe,” Sirius answered wisely. I snorted.
“Come on, we still have to check on Lily. But first...” I knelt by the glowing line on the floor, and tapped it a couple times with my wand, concentrating hard.
“There!” Pleased, I stood up. “Now anyone who tries to cross it with malicious intent will meet the same end Mulciber did.” Sirius winced.
“That was pretty vicious, you know,” He said, glancing at me. I shrugged, knowing he was right. He and James- and Remus, Peter, and even Lily- cursed Slytherins all the time, but they never seriously injured them, like I was wont to do.
“He deserved it,” I said simply, then murmured under my breath, so quiet that only people with dog-like hearing could hear it, “They all do.”
A/N: God, sorry, another filler-ish chapter. Next one, though, I promise! It's going to be Hallowe'en, sure to be some action! Of some sort; I have a major case of writer's block, this next chapter might take me a while to get up. Thanks for sticking with me, though! Please review :)
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