Chapter 20 : Are you uncertain or just scared to drop your guard
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I was currently stuck in a small, damp cupboard with Sirius Black whilst a bunch of death eaters, some in training, the others fully fledged, sat just outside.
I didn’t know which part of that sentence was worse.
Well, I do. As much as I disliked Sirius, hearing the Slytherin’s speak about an upcoming war like they were discussing what they had for breakfast made my blood run cold. It had had the same effect on Sirius too. The elder Black son was sat next to me, rigid and unmoving and had been since the word ‘war’ had been mentioned.
We had not spoken to each other since the Slytherin’s had walked into the locker room and instead, we had sat there with bated breath as we listened intently to their conversation. It had been hard to stomach to just sit and listen and not be able to do anything. Even I had wanted to go out and confront them but I knew that was a stupid move. They had already hurt me, more than once, and I knew they could easily do it again, even with Sirius by my side.
The hardest thing for me was listening to Pedro talk. Every time I heard his voice, I clenched my jaw, praying it would be enough to stop me from shouting out. His voice stood out to me, somehow louder than the others. All I could hear was him. Maybe it was because we were twins, tuned in together in some way, our thoughts and voices connected. Or maybe it was because I held so much anger towards him and that anger was amplifying him to me.
I didn’t know long we had been in the cupboard for, all I knew was that my fingers and toes were beginning to freeze. The more I thought about it, the more they tingled, causing me to wince slightly. Bringing my hands up to my mouth, I blew on them, attempting to warm them as I continued to listen to the group outside.
“So, war inevitable then?” Rayne’s voice was quiet.
“Yes, it is. After we leave this stinking place, we will start planning for the greatest change the Wizarding World has and will ever see.” Bellatrix let out another characteristic cackle, one that sent shivers up my spine.
“Well what do we do until then?” Evan’s voice was strong and steady. “I hate this school.”
Lucius was the one who replied to him. “We just cause as much trouble as we can until we leave. There are plenty of mudbloods to keep us occupied,” I didn’t even have to see his face to know he was most likely smirking, his eyes glinting at the thought of hurting those he deemed unworthy, “and we have those four pricks and Gisela, too.”
I heard murmuring at the mention of my name and I knew it was Pedro but I could hear Rayne trying to quieten him. I couldn’t quite hear what he had said.
“We have Evans as well. That mudblood needs taken down a peg or two.”
The voice took a few minutes to register in my ears. I knew that voice, it not been long ago since I heard it say the exact same word to the person they were now referring to – Lily. If I had have known him better, maybe it wouldn’t have been a shock to hear Severus Snape involved in it all. If I had known him better then I might have seen it coming. But I had never taken much notice of Severus in all my years in Slytherin. He was always the quiet boy with the greasy hair who spent all his time in the library. Who knew he would end up in leagues with Death Eaters and The Dark Lord?
Sirius, who had been so stoic beside me, had finally began to move. He had registered Severus’ voice much quicker than I had and I noticed, even in the dim light, that his hand was clenched around his wand. He was twitching more than ever and I felt my heart in my throat at the thought of him bursting out of the cupboard and making our hiding place known.
“Calm down, it’s Severus, what’s the worst he could do? Wipe his greasy hair all over Lily?” I grabbed his wand arm and squeezed it gently, a gesture that wasn’t quite comforting but wasn’t quite a warning either. It didn’t matter what it was though because I felt him lower his arm and unclench his hand. He said nothing and I sighed, “They can’t stay in here much longer, they always go to dinner early."
He remained silent and I found myself wishing he would talk, at least it would pass the time quicker. No one else spoke after Bellatrix had laughed and told Severus he was a good asset to the cause and I couldn’t help but wonder what they were doing. My thoughts were answered, however when Evan spoke.
“We should go, dinner is going to be starting in ten and I want to be there.” The sound of movement filled my ears and I let out a small sigh, silently thanking Merlin that I would finally be able to get of the cramped cupboard and stretch my legs.
“Come on then,” Lucius’ voice was one of authority and the sound of footsteps indicated that they were all leaving. Shifting so I could bolt out of the cupboard at the first moment they were gone, I was about to stand up when another voice filled my ears.
“I’ll catch you up, I’m just going to check in the broom cupboard see if any decent brooms have been left, mine is looking a bit rusty these days,” Rabastan’s words made me freeze and I turned to look at Sirius, my eyes wide. He brought me closer to him so I was facing him and not the door.
Footsteps became louder as they neared the cupboard and within seconds, the door was swung open, revealing Rabastan. My back to the door and pressed closely against Sirius, I watched Sirius’ facial expression change from one of fear to one of anger. He would have had his wand at Bas’ throat if I hadn’t have been so close to him.
“A broom cupboard Black? Classy as ever, I see. This must mean you’ve been in every broom cupboard in the school, right? Who’s the lucky girl this time?” The sarcasm in Bas’ voice was evident and Sirius was rising to it.
“None of your business Lestrange. It’s not like you haven’t been caught in one of these before is it? Now fuck off.”
“Now, now Black. Carry on and I might just go and shout the others, tell them what I’ve found.”
I was dying to turn around but the look in Sirius’ eyes was telling me to keep hidden. He was trying to protect, something I was grateful for but I knew Bas wouldn’t hurt me. Yet, I didn’t look and kept my eyes focused on the smattering of freckles he had on his neck.
“Why do you need the others? Scared you’re not tough enough on your own?” I hit Sirius in the ribs, trying to get him to stop baiting Bas but he suitably ignored me. “Why don’t you act like a man for a change and not hide behind your fellow death eaters.” The venom Sirius put into those last two words was unbelievable. He practically spat the words at Bas and even I winced.
I heard the swift movement of a wand, whipping through the air and felt Sirius chuckle. “What’s so funny Black? You wanted me to act like a man so how about you do the same.”
Sirius gently pushed me away and stood up. I saw his wand from the corner of my eye and I knew I had to stop things before they got serious. Standing up, I took a deep breath and turned around, manoeuvring myself I between the two boys.
“Stop it now.” I glared at Sirius before turning to Bas, who looked surprised that it had been me with Sirius in the cupboard, “Both of you.”
“Well, I see you’ve lowered your standards Gisela. Never thought you’d sink as low as Black though,” Bas was sneering at me, a hint of hurt and disappointment in his eyes but now wasn’t the time to feel guilty.
“Nothing happened, not that you have any right to know, I was talking to him about Lola before you lot came in here,” At the mention of Lola, guilt flashed across his face, he cared for her too but it soon disappeared. “Just walk away Bas, please.”
I was begging. I couldn’t have this situation blow up into an argument. That was the last thing I needed right now. I could see Bas carefully considering his options. He was an intelligent boy, he knew when the odds were against him. He couldn’t take on Sirius on his own and he knew it deep down, even if he didn’t want to admit it.
I heard him sigh before he spoke, “This is the first and last time I ever do this. Wait five minutes after I leave.” Bas gave me a look I couldn’t describe before turning away from us and heading for the door. He paused for a second, not looking back at us, “I’m doing this for Gisela, not you Black.”
He disappeared instantly after that and Sirius and I remained silent as we waited. I took a seat on one of the benches and wiped a hand over my face. After a few minutes, I finally spoke.
“It’s really happening, isn’t it?” Sirius looked to me, confusion etched on his features, so I continued, “this war, I mean. It’s really happening.”
He didn’t speak for a moment and I watched as his expression turned to one of realisation and anguish. He knew what was ahead of us, even before I did, yet that knowledge didn’t help soothe the feelings that came with such a realisation. His voice was hoarse when he finally did speak.
“Yes, we’re going to war.”
The words hung in the air, their effect dramatic. Instead of trying to fill the silence with useless, unhelpful words, I stood up and walked to him. He gave me a strange look but I ignored it as I took his forearm and led him out of the locker room, both making our way up to the Great Hall. We needed to tell the others but first, we needed to let the news sink in before we could re tell it.
We would tell them after dinner.
“So, what’s with the amateur dramatics?” Potter was sprawled over the sofa like a slob, the lack of interest written on his bored face. “I was hoping to have a nap after dinner. I’m stuffed.”
Sirius and I looked to each other, not really knowing how we should broach the subject of war. It wasn’t a skill you learned in Hogwarts. There was no class named ‘How to tell your friends about impending doom’ nor a manual to give us instructions. We were on our own and only we could figure out a way to break the news.
“What’s going on guys?” As Remus spoke, I looked to him and I knew in a heartbeat that he knew something was amiss. In the short time I had known him, I somehow knew his mannerisms, his expressions, his body language. And right now, his body language, tense and unmoving, showed me that he knew we were bringing them all bad news.
I looked at all of them, biting my lip. Lily was sat next to Remus, mirroring my own lip biting and playing with her hands. She knew too that something wasn’t right but it came as no surprise to me. She caught onto to things faster than most.
Peter looked apprehensive. I could tell he wasn’t sure what we were about to say but had clearly felt the undeniable tension in the room. He kept looking from Potter to Remus and then to Sirius, looking to the three boys he admired to see what their expressions were, to see whether or not he should have been worried. Sirius had told me that Peter would step up when he needed to, show a strength he never realised he had when it came down to it but I wasn’t so sure. Maybe he would prove himself when the time came to it but in that moment, all I could see was a lost cause.
Potter was the only one looking blaze about the whole thing. Sirius had assured me that when the time come, Potter would be the strong one, the one with the plan and the reassuring words but it was something I couldn’t imagine.
“We overheard the Slytherin’s talking today,” Sirius began the hard conversation and I was grateful. Trying to understand and register this plus till worrying about Lola was causing me to have a hard time trying to string a comprehendible sentence together.
“How did you do that without being seen?” I rolled my eyes at Potter, pointing out the least important part of the whole thing.
“We were in the broom cupboard in the boys locker room,” Sirius answered and I could see a hint of a smirk come to his lips as he told of our position. Resisting the urge to hit him, I interrupted James before he could ask the question that was on his smirking lips.
“That doesn’t matter right now, believe me, that is the least important part. And if you ever bring it up again, you will be childless, I can promise you,” I shot Potter a triumphant smirk as he looked at me in alarm.
“She’s right, whilst we were hiding, we overheard them talking about Voldemort and his plans,” As Sirius spoke the words, the air went cold and everybody seemed to go rigid. Even Potter was sitting up straight.
“What kind of plans are we looking at here?” Remus spoke the words on everybody’s lips. I could see in his sagging shoulders that he knew what we were building up to say, what words would grace their ears but he himself did not want to speak the word ‘war’ out loud.
Sirius was silent and I took this as my cue to speak. I took a deep breath and looked at them all. “The not-good kind of plans,” At this, Remus nodded and he knew then for definite. I glanced at Lily and I could see her frowning, most likely catching on. “They have one plan for after we’ve left Hogwarts.”
I paused, finding it hard to say the word that was on the tip of my tongue. The pause wasn’t doing anything good for the tension, more than anything, it was increasing but it was a hard word to admit but in the end, I finally got it out.
It was such a small word but in that announcement, it weighed more than anything we had ever known. The impact was a like a weight to the chest, slowly crushing you until there was barely any breath left in you.
It left you breathless.
And it was something we couldn’t hide from any more.
At the beginning of the year, we could have ignored it, pretended it wasn’t on the horizon but now, now we couldn’t run away. We had to stand tall and face it. After Hogwarts, there would be war. We didn’t know a time, we didn’t know a date but we knew it was coming. And all we could do was prepare.
“Sometime after Hogwarts is over, we’re going to war with Voldemort. It’s happening and there is now way of getting out of it. We will win.” Sirius once again sounded in control, the authority in his voice clear as day. This was the role he was suited for, I could see it in his shoulders, in his stance, in his eyes. He was born to be in control and today was his first initiation into leadership. “We will win and it will all be over and we will live happily ever after, with kids and personalised letter boxes and big houses and a couple of hippogriffs in stables.”
At this, everyone raised a small smile and a laugh, even I did but we knew that they were fake. Each one of us was wearing a mask already, to disguise our fears, our dashed dreams and our hopes for the future. Ours masks were on and they would not come off until we knew it was safe to be free again.
A/N - so this is the quickest chapter I have ever written and I have to say that I am quite proud of it! Hope you enjoy this. Reviews are always welcome, small or long, brief or descriptive, I don't mind at all. And if you feel that something isn't right or you spot a typo, feel free to let me know. I appreciate every review!