Chapter 3 : Fitting In and Finding Out
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The week passed by in a flash. Coralie found herself fitting in to her new schedule perfectly. She woke up every morning with enough time to get ready, pack all the books she needed for class, and make it down to breakfast with the rest of the girls, still with plenty of time to eat and make her way to whatever class she happened to have first up that morning. She’d quickly learnt where all her classrooms were with the help of her friends; James had even been kind enough to show her a few shortcuts when it came to getting down to Potions, which was held in the dungeons, on time. She was incredibly grateful that her new friends were so willing to help her. It had made things so much easier for her already.
By the time the weekend rolled around, Coralie was more than ready for a break. Back in France, school had worked a little differently. It started earlier and went for longer, though as they lived only five minutes away, Coralie, Angus, and Emma often went home at lunch for the big meal that was the French tradition. It was odd for Coralie to see the English have a more fulfilling breakfast than she ever ate at home; she often craved her usual morning hot chocolate and croissant.
Weekends themselves were very different in England than what she was used to. At home, she would sleep in until a reasonable time, around ten o’clock or so, have her usual breakfast, and then go out somewhere – generally with Emma, but sometimes with her mother, one of her brothers, Allisyn, and, on the odd occasion, her father, during his rare visits. They’d visit cafes, shops, the cinema, art galleries – whatever took their fancy, though one of Coralie and Emma’s favourite pastimes was to ride their bicycles through the streets, especially in May, when the annual festival for Joan of Arc took place.
But here in Britain – or Hogwarts, rather – weekends were entirely different. By the time she woke up – a little earlier than usual, at nine-thirty – only Lily and Miranda were awake. The three of them went to breakfast. Coralie expected the rest of the girls to turn up while they ate, but by the time she’d finished a large plate modestly piled with bacon, eggs, tomato, mushroom, and a slice of toast, no one had joined them.
“We were thinking we might pop into the library for a little, give the sun a chance to warm up a bit, and then we’ll take you for a little tour of the grounds. Admittedly, there’s not a lot to see, but it’s pretty this time of the year. Well, it’s pretty all year round, but now especially.” Miranda had interrupted Coralie’s train of thought. By the time her friend had finished speaking, Coralie had brought herself out of her reverie enough to respond.
“That sounds wonderful. Thank you both so much for showing me around. Hogwarts is so large that I don’t think I would have even be able to make my way around without your help.” She smiled softly at the two girls, who shared knowing looks with one another before they both turned back to Coralie with wide grins on their faces.
“We know you wouldn’t have been able to make it around without us – nobody can for the first week or so. Then you get used to all the staircases and whatnot,” Lily responded. She paused for a moment as she took a sip of her pumpkin juice. “That being said, sometimes I still manage to get lost on prefect duty and end up in some abandoned corridor. Always entertaining.” All three girls chuckled as they finished up their breakfasts and made their way towards the library.
Coralie had yet to find a chance to get to the library though she had been meaning to since her very first day. There was something about libraries that made Coralie feel intensely happy. Ever since she was very young, she had loved reading, both Muggle and wizarding books. She loved The Tales of Beedle the Bard, but also some classic French fairy tales, such as The Lost Children and Rosanella as a young girl. But as she grew, so did the types of books that she read. She preferred fiction books (she loved being transported into a different world, a different life – especially at the most difficult times), but in order to please her father, who worked in the international department of the French Ministry of Magic, she’d read biographies on powerful leaders, nonfiction books on subjects ranging from politics to gardening, and the newspaper, both Muggle and wizarding, every morning.
She’d visited many libraries and bookstores in her short lifetime. The one in Saint Jeanne’s was quite small in size, but there were plenty of books, and the librarians who worked there adored Coralie for always borrowing books. The town library in Orléans was sufficiently larger: Aisles upon aisles of books spread across the entire floor of the building, a small landing allowing room for more books. Neither of these libraries were anywhere near the size or the pure beauty of the Hogwarts library.
Immediately upon entry, Coralie’s mouth dropped open at the sight in front of her. There were rows and rows and even more rows of books on every subject, as well as tables and chairs, some hidden behind bookcases for some privacy and others in the more open areas of the library. If the librarian hadn’t given Coralie such a dirty look for her gaping, she might have gone and gotten all her stuff from her dormitory and moved in right there and then.
“Come on, before Pince comes over here and tells you off for gaping at her babies too much,” Miranda whispered, pulling Coralie gently by her elbow over to one of the tables slightly hidden from sight. It was from the seat she took that Coralie noticed a closed-off section in the library. She turned to Miranda with a questioning look.
“That’s the restricted section,” Miranda said. “The books in there aren’t really the type of thing that should be falling into the wrong hands. The only way you can get in there is with the permission of a teacher. You need a good reason and a proper note for Madame Pince and all.”
“Why are the books here, then?” Coralie asked, her eyebrows furrowing slightly. The whole thing seemed a little bit redundant to her. What was the point of having these books in the library if they weren’t the kind of things that students should be reading?
“Sometimes teachers will give people extra work to those who they can trust, and sometimes the only answers are in that section, but they try not to do that very often,” Lily answered without looking up from the book in front of her for even a split second.
“Lily gets permission to go in there all the time. You see, Slughorn just adores her,” Miranda teased, winking over at Coralie, who chuckled softly.
“Slughorn does not adore me. He just appreciates that I work really hard to get my work done. It’s not like he hates you or anything; he’s given you permission into there before, I bet,” Lily replied, rolling her eyes at her friend, who stuck her tongue out in response.
“I never used that permission slip,” Miranda added, lost in thought. She tilted her head to the side and was silent for a while. “I feel... I don’t know, weird in there. Or at least I think I would. I’m not sure I want to read any of the books in there.”
“Some of them are fascinating,” Lily commented off-handedly. “The ones about Potions, that is,” she clarified, looking up at the two others girls to make sure that they hadn’t thought otherwise. Neither of them had, of course.
The three of them fell into a comfortable silence, which was only broken when Coralie pushed out her chair and stood up in order to go searching for a book to read. Soon enough, she found one interesting to her, and sat back down with her friends, feeling even more comfortable at Hogwarts now that she had a book in her hands.
“That’s the Quidditch pitch there, as you can see by the hoops and all,” Miranda concluded, pointing to the area where a few unidentifiable figures flew around in circles. “Are you a fan?”
“Uh, not really. We didn’t have any room for a Quidditch pitch at Saint Jeanne’s – it was in the middle of town, so we only had a very small courtyard to sit in.” Both Lily and Miranda nodded, both seeming genuinely interested by what Coralie had to say about her old school. “People didn’t really play it around where we actually lived, either. Neither of my brothers were into sports –“
“How old’s your other brother?” Lily asked. “Angus is fourteen, right?” Coralie nodded in response.
“Yes, Angus is fourteen. He’s the youngest one out of all of us. My other brother – Jacob, his name is – is twenty-two. My sister Violet is nineteen, and the oldest one of us, Allisyn, is twenty-five,” Coralie explained, watching her two friends, their eyes widened slightly.
“There’s so many of you!” Miranda exclaimed, causing Coralie throw her head back and laugh in response. “I’m an only child, and Lily’s got one older sister. The rest of the girls are pretty much the same, either an only child or with one sibling. Shelena had the most – she had two siblings.”
“Do you get along with all of them?” Lily asked, quickly changing the subject from her best friend. “Petunia and I – that’s my older sister – we’ve never really gotten along. Well, ever since I got my Hogwarts letter.”
“I get along with all of them, except for my sister Violet. Allisyn’s got a daughter, and has her own apartment, so I don’t see her all the time. But Jacob and Violet still live at home. Violet wasn’t particularly happy about moving to England, so...” Coralie trailed off, twisting the edges of her mouth into a small smile that didn’t quite meet her eyes.
“Why’d you move to England?” Miranda asked with a quizzical look on her face. Coralie’s heart almost stopped beating at that moment. This was the question that she was most afraid of. It was maybe one of her biggest concerns upon their move to England. Not whether she’d fit in at Hogwarts, or make friends, or get completely lost, but rather how to answer when this question came up. She couldn’t exactly tell the truth, now could she?
“Uh, my mother just really needed –“ She took a deep breath and brushed the hair away from her face. “She really needed a fresh start, and she thought England would be a good place to do that. My parents are divorced. They have been for a few years now, but it just got too hard for my mum to live in the house that they shared for almost twenty-two years.” Finally, Coralie was able to let out a sigh of relief as both girls nodded in understanding and promptly dropped the subject. As far as she was concerned, the crisis had been successfully diverted, at least for now. She’d just have to remember to tell Angus the story she was using.
“Oh, Merlin,” Lily whispered, breaking the silence that had fallen upon them. “I think that’s Potter up there playing. Can we please go before it’s too late and he realises I’m here?” she practically begged, sending both girls pleading looks, turning back to face them after glancing up at James on his broom.
“I think it’s a bit too late, Lils,” Miranda answered with a slight frown, though Coralie could hear the teasing manner in her voice. It seemed all the girls shared a fondness for putting Lily into situations with James that she couldn’t easily escape.
“Fine – you distract him, and I’ll meet you back in the dormitory. I’m going to see if any of the others are up yet.” With that, Lily made her way back up to the castle, all but running to get away just as James landed and made his way over to the girls.
“Where’s she going?” he asked Miranda and Coralie, who shared a knowing look and a chuckle before turning their attention to him and shrugging their shoulders. “She was trying to escape me, wasn’t she?”
“Yeah. Sorry, James. She’s had a really hard first week of school, and I’m not sure that she’s really ready to be asked out a million and one times by you again,” Miranda said sympathetically. Despite her teasing manner previously, she seemed genuinely sorry for James, who watched Lily with a solemn look on his face.
“It’s the whole thing about Shelena, isn’t it?” he asked, turning his attention back to the girls, who both nodded. “Sirius has been pretty cut up about it, too. I don’t know what in Merlin’s name happened this time, but he won’t talk about it at all.” He turned to Coralie at this point. “That’s why he was so rude to you the other day – he’s not very good at focusing his anger on the proper people. I think he actually feels sort of bad about it.”
“It’s all right,” Coralie replied, watching the other figure in the sky, who she now realised was Sirius. “He sort of reminds me of my older brother – he acts a bit like a child sometimes when things haven’t gone the way he wants them to.” James threw his head back in laughter, attracting the attention of Sirius, who gave them a little wave as he flew down.
“You just perfectly described Sirius. I think you’re definitely going to fit in here,” Miranda said. Sirius raised his eyebrows as he caught the end of what his friend was saying.
“What makes you think that?” he asked, nodding at Miranda, who smiled in response. “Not that I think you won’t fit in,” he clarified for Coralie; his eyes had slightly widened in horror. “It’s just – it’s not something James says very often. I’m sorry for rambling.” He paused. “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced before. I’m Sirius Black, and you must be the lovely Coralie Bennett, all the way from Orléans, France. Je suis enchanté de faire votre connaissance.” At this, he bowed slightly and took Coralie’s hand in his, planting a soft kiss on it, which he held for a few seconds before letting her hand drop again.
“Enchantée, Monsieur Black,” Coralie replied with a grin, which Sirius immediately copied while the other two looked on, confused. “How long have you been speaking French?” she asked, switching back to English for the benefit of Miranda and James.
“A couple of years – on and off again, of course. Toujours Pur is the family motto, you see.” Coralie made note of how his expression darkened at the mention of his family, and how both James and Miranda looked uncomfortable.
“Always pure,” Coralie muttered, more to herself than anyone else. Her family had once had a motto, a little line written in the French language that was in use during the sixteenth century or so, but other than the saying being written in the background of portraits, it wasn’t used at all. In all honesty, Coralie could barely remember the words.
“Sirius’s family is obsessed with blood purity. Many of the Slytherin families are. Sirius, of course, broke away from that tradition,” James explained. It was then that Coralie realised they’d all been watching her reaction.
“Of course. I’m sorry – I got caught up in thinking about the Bennett family motto,” she responded, smiling softly at the others, who all seemed relieved.
“What’s yours, then?” Sirius asked jokingly. “Surely it’s better than the Blacks’.” James nodded in agreement.
“To be quite honest, I can’t even remember it.” Sirius barked out a laugh at this, and she continued, “We don’t really use it anymore. The first Bennetts came up with it in the fifteen-hundreds or something like it. I’m not sure it’d be really relevant now.”
“Hear, hear,” Sirius replied, grinning. “Should we head back up to the castle, then? It’s probably about lunchtime.”
“Is your stomach all you ever think about?” Miranda asked in return, causing all four of them to throw their heads back in laughter. And so the four of them made their to the Great Hall for lunch, Miranda and James walking in front as they talked about the first Quidditch match of the season, which was coming up in a few weekends’ time, while Sirius and Coralie walked behind them, Sirius’ arm around Coralie’s shoulders as he pointed out things of interest to her.
It wasn’t until later that same evening, when Coralie had returned to her dormitory slightly earlier with the purpose of getting at least an hour of reading in before the other girls were going to come up, that she finally had time to reflect on that afternoon. She’d been surprised by Sirius’s apparent complete change of personality. Of course, she preferred the Sirius that she had talked to all through lunch today than the Sirius she’d met that very first night and at breakfast on the second day, but there was something about that change that bothered her.
She knew why she didn’t trust it. It was because of him. Because he was able to change his personality just as quickly as Sirius had – though, that being said, his had worked in the opposite way. He went from being funny, charming, and handsome to vicious and threatening. That pure look of hatred that had been in his eyes when he looked at her still caused her nightmares. It tightened her chest and made her heart race, the same way it had on that night.
The nightmares were still there every night. With the help of Lily, she’d been able to make sure that she never woke up the other girls with her tossing and turning, and so they were none the wiser. She sometimes believed that Lily had forgotten about them, as well, and had stopped worrying, but then the redhead would look at her in this certain way in the mornings that told Coralie that Lily knew. To her credit, she didn’t make a big deal out of it – she sent her knowing looks over the breakfast table when Marlene told her that she looked tired, offered her a hot cup of cocoa before bed on the nights that she was patrolling, and took extra care in making sure that she felt welcomed in all aspects of Hogwarts life. More than anything, when the girls whispered and asked Lily if anything was wrong with Coralie, she never said a word about the nightmares, but rather would just say that Coralie was feeling a little homesick. The girls always believed her, but both Coralie and Lily knew that this excuse would not last forever.
With this on her mind, Coralie let out a sigh and pulled her book close towards her. Flipping to where her bookmark lay, she read each word, desperately trying to lose herself in the world presented in front of her, but her mind would not let her do that. Not tonight. A few more minutes passed, and finally she noticed that she’d just been reading the same sentence over and over again. With a deep breath, she pushed the book away. Her hands came up to rest in her hair.
Closing her eyes tightly, she fell back into her pillow and lay there for a moment. Her mind was racing, filling with thoughts and memories that appeared and disappeared quicker than Coralie was able to make sense of them. After a few more moments of this, she rolled over and buried her face in her pillow. Part of her hoped that she might be able to smother those thoughts out of her or something. When this was unsuccessful, she screamed into her pillow with frustration.
“Coralie? Are you all right?” The door squeaked open as Lily slid through the gap, closing it firmly behind her. When Coralie didn’t respond, Lily moved to sit on the edge of her bed and placed a comforting hand on her back. “Are they getting worse?” she whispered, and checked around the empty dormitory like she was worried that someone might be hiding in there and listening in on the two girls.
“I’m so confused,” Coralie eventually responded. Lily’s eyebrows furrowed slightly at this response – clearly it wasn’t the one she had been expecting – but she quickly regained her self-control.
“What about?” she asked, moving Coralie’s discarded book out of the way so that she could see opposite Coralie, cross-legged.
“Black?” Lily asked, her eyebrows knotted in confusion again. She stared at Coralie blankly for a couple of moments, and both girls remaining completely silent. “What about him?”
“I can’t understand him at all,” Coralie responded, her eyebrows had now furrowed together as well as she stared at a loose thread on her blanket, like it was the answer to all of her problems. “He’s been so rude lately, and then today it was like none of that had ever happened.”
“Let me tell you a little something about Sirius Black,” Lily sighed. With a roll of her eyes, she continued, “Black is just like that. He’s probably only now realised that you’re actually a really pretty girl, and also new – he thinks that if he’s all nice to you now, you’ll forget that rudeness and will go mess around with him in a broom closet.” Coralie sighed in response, and was silent for a while before she spoke again.
“I’m not interested in him,” she responded without blinking. “It just – well, it bothers me. I don’t feel like I can trust people who can swap and change their personalities that quickly.”
“I’m glad you’re not interested in him. He may be better than his family in some respects, but he still treats girls like dirt. You don’t deserve that.” Lily smiled softly. “As for trusting him, I wouldn’t bother. But you can trust me, and the others girls, too. Whatever it is that is haunting you, we won’t judge you for it. We’ll just try and make it better for you. I’m sorry, but I told the girls I was only coming up here to check whether you were all right or not, and if I don’t go back down, they’ll think something’s up and come and check on us both. I don’t think you really want that right now, do you?” Coralie chuckled softly and shook her head.
“Thank you for coming up here anyway,” Coralie added as Lily stood up and made her way to the door. She had just opened it and was going to head back downstairs when Coralie called out again, and she stopped in her tracks to turn around. “Thank you for everything. Not just tonight, but everything else you’ve done for me since I got here. I think you’re the only reason I’ve made it this far.”
Lily beamed at her. “You’re very welcome, Coralie. I hope you’ll stay here – I think we could become really great friends.” With this, Lily closed the door behind her, and Coralie was left alone once again with her thoughts.
It was moments just like that one when Coralie was able to see the similarities between Lily and Emma. They were both incredibly sweet and caring, though feisty enough, if someone got on their bad side. The biggest similarity between them, the one that hurt Coralie the most, was how much they both cared about her wellbeing despite knowing next to nothing about her situation. Lily had only known her for just under a week, and Emma had known her for most of her life, but neither really knew anything about what had happened only a few weeks before. The reason why she left France to come to England, what caused her nightmares – they were clueless about those. She’d have to tell them one day. She wouldn’t even know where to begin when that day came along.
She didn’t have much time to think about this new problem as a light tap of the window broke her attention. She blinked a few times, drawing herself out of her thoughts as she slid off her bed and moved towards the window, where a grey owl with beady white eyes hovered. She slid the window open, watching the owl as it dropped a white envelope at her feet. She half-expected it to stay around – she’d been prepared to shuffle through her trunk in an attempt to look for food for it – but as soon as the letter had been dropped, it flew back out of the window and soon became part of the sky once more.
With a confused glance after the owl, Coralie bent down to pick up the letter. She turned the envelope over in her hands a few times, taking in everything about it. The owl wasn’t one she knew as belonging to anyone, but the letter was most definitely meant for it. Her name was written in calligraphy-style black ink. The back of the envelope was held closed with a red seal, but it was also unknown to her. She flipped it over once more to see if she had missed anything that would clue her in as to the sender of the letter, but there was nothing else.
The letter fell gracefully to the floor. The foreign nature of the owl and the writing was all clear to her now. Her heart was racing a million miles per minute – she couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t move. She was stuck in her place by the window. Lily was downstairs with the rest of the girls; they wouldn’t come to check on her again for a while if Lily had told them she was fine. With this in mind, a small sob escaped unwillingly from her lips as she stumbled backwards until she reached the edge of the bed. By the time she had sat down, the tears were escaping from her eyes at such a fast speed that everything around her had become blurry. She didn’t think of this; her mind was otherwise preoccupied with the facts of the letter.
He had found her.
Authors Note: And so it begins. All with a mysterious letter and a few nightmares. I know in the previous chapter that I said this would be the chapter were things really kicked off, but I found that I needed to add a little bit more introductory stuff in before I could get down to the real exciting part. This being said, I promise you that things will pick up a lot quicker than they did in the original version, so those who read that- I swear that you won’t have to wait like twenty more chapters for the action to start.
Just before I go, I have a question for you all which is- Who is your favourite character so far/who would you like to see more of? I honestly find it so interesting as to who people like more than other characters, so if you have time- please let me know! I’d like to thank all of you for reading and I’ll see you next week with chapter four!
P.S. French translation is as follow. Je suis enchanté de faire votre connaissance– I am delighted to make your acquaintance. Similarly, Enchantée, Monsieur Black means ‘Enchanted, Mr Black’.
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