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Chapter 7 : Merlin Was a Slytherin
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AN: Hello all! I'd like to thank my fabulous beta indyheart :). Also, I would like to thank the dozen or so of you who have made it this far...you guys are awesome! Alright readers, I'd suggest a hot beverage to get through this one :). Onwards.
Grace pushed open a window in the Marauders' dormitory, sighing contentedly in the wake of the rain's soft tapping. She lit a cigarette, at last, and inhaled the rich, smooth smoke, almost instantly easing her mind.
“What are you doing?” James asked from his bed beside her, his nose scrunched up.
Grace shrugged, reveling in her tranquility. “Preventing a complete meltdown.”
“That's foul.” James sat up, swinging his legs over the side of his four-poster to face her.
“Maybe...but it's done a great deal for my mental health.” Grace grinned cheekily at her brother as he rolled his eyes. “So, what did you want to talk to me about. I'm sure it wasn't fuckin' reprimanding me on my bad habits, yeah?”
He laughed. “Naw, it's just... Well, you're my sister. Mum and Dad don't really like talking about you that much, it makes 'em sad I think. I just want to know...who you are.” As he finished he brushed his hand through his hair nervously, causing it to splay out in a tangled mess.
“What do you want to know?”
James's eyes glazed over in thought and his picked at his duvet. “Well, there's the whole Trucido thing....”
“I destroy evil things,” Grace said flatly before taking another drag.
Snorting, James said, “I get that much. I mean, you don't use a wand, but you can perform the same spells as regular witches. Do you have any special powers? Can you, like, shoot laser beams from you eyes or fly without a broom or have super strength? Why are you in Remedial Potions? What was that 'special' school like? What kind of danger were you in that made Dumbledore take you away? Are you still in danger? I mean, we couldn't even write you before. Why are you at Hogwarts now? What is with that book that you were reading from the other night? What is your friendship status with Lily Evans? And what the hell is going on between you and Moony because Sirius said something about lust and I still don't get the whole Serviato thingy. And-”
“—James!” Grace interjected. “Slow the fuck down!”
“Sorry,” he said with a grin. “There's just so much that I don't get.”
Grace smiled, her eyes softening as she watched her brother. “You know,” she began softly. “I always wondered what my family was like...wondered what it would have been like to be normal....”
“And I've always wondered about my sister.”
“People keep saying that you've never mentioned me.”
“Mum said not to...you know, too many questions.”
“Yeah.” James rubbed the back of his head, watching Grace as she tossed her butt into the damp air and pulled the window closed.
Grace sat gently on the bed next to her brother, sighing.
“So...why exactly did you have to leave?”
Grace pressed her lips together and watched James thoughtfully. “Well,” she began. “We have many ancestors that were Trucidamus, but the lineage was broken years ago. When mum and dad created a union—”
She paused as James made a face.
“Oh don't be such a fucking baby. You know as well as I do how children are made, James. Our parents had—”
“Dear Godric, what is wrong with you?” James shouted, covering his ears with his hands.
Grace laughed purely out of enjoyment to his reaction. “Relations.”
“It's not funny,” he said. “I'm the one who has to live with them...”
Still grinning, Grace continued. “Anyhow, I am the first Trucido in a long time. There is nobody to teach me, so I kinda just go along with what the book says. Outside of the protection charms placed around Hogwarts and Noctars, the fuckin' monsters are everywhere, man. I swear, they stalk me or something.”
James frowned. “So why didn't you just come to Hogwarts to begin with?”
“Noctars is a school for the 'specially gifted.' There's a ton of different kinds of people there. There's Seers, vampires, one boy who has an issue with astral projection, a few phasers, some people with a reality warping ability...that one's really damn cool! Then there's Anne, she's a werewolf. Noctars is supposed to help us control our powers...and Albus has been giving me books about charms and spell casting so I've been practicing magic for a while...”
Furrowing his brow, James shook his head. “I guess I still don't get it.”
Grace frowned and bit her lip in thought. She sighed and began to play with the hem on her jumper. “That's just where I was supposed to be, I guess. Fate's a bitch like that, y'now?”
“So, you have control over your 'powers,' then?”
Grace shrugged. “Maybe not all of them. I mean, that's why I'm here, right? To learn more about magic. I think I've got dimension linking down, thank gods for Albus' help with Alchemy! And I'm pretty good at killing things!” she added as a happy afterthought.
“What are you talking about?”
“I kill evil things,” Grace reiterated, patting her brothers hand.
“Not that...dimensions and whatnot?”
“Oh, right. Uhm here let me show you,” Grace placed her book on her lap, thumbing through the context until she came across Regnum Silenti Etc. Once the pages were in order, Grace gestured for James's attention. “Here, this is one.”
James adjusted his glasses, squinting his eyes a slightly at the small, crooked writing. “Hey, I've read about that! That's the veil,” he said pointedly.
Grace nodded. “Yeah, it's the portal between this world and the land of the dead... Herpo the foul created it, though I'm not sure what the hell for. Couldn't have been anything good. Not the best Trucido in the bunch-”
Paling, James interrupted her. “We are not related to a dark wizard, are we?”
“What?” Grace asked, looking up from the book. She snorted. “No of course we're not fucking related to Herpo. Our family weren't the only ones who had Trucidamus in their lineage....”
“Oh.” James rubbed the back of his head. “I thought that you guys were supposed to be destroying evil.”
“Not all of them used their powers for what they were supposed to. But then again, evil is kind of a vague subject. I mean, it all comes down to what an individual believes is right. Merlin had the right idea, but—”
“-Merlin was a Trucido?”
With a smile Grace continued, “Merlin tried to do too much, I think. The most successful people were the ones who focused more or less on one thing. Like Gifford Ollerton—”
“-You are can't compare that Giant slayer to Merlin! Merlin was the greatest Wizard to ever live!”
Grace chuckled. “Fine, so sorry to be rooting for the underdog,” she said with a grin.
“Is that why you have a soft spot for Snivellous,” he spat, his attitude altering suddenly. “You know, Daisy Hookum said she saw you two talking in the hallway a few days ago. Having a real fine chat?”
She shifted uncomfortably, frowning. “What's your problem with Severus?” she asked softly.
His face contorted. “My problem? He's the one who has the problem. He's a greasy, foul git who should have never been born, that's what's wrong with him. Have you seen that hair of his? He needs to learn how to take a proper shower. Not to mention, that he's a Slytherin—”
“-Merlin was a Slytherin.”
“That,” James seethed, “is a myth. And don't you dare compare that slimeball to Merlin either!”
Grace took a moment to breathe, fighting with her affronted temperament. She tugged at her hair, wanting very much to not only correct James that Merlin was in fact a Slytherin, but to also defend Severus. She held enough remorse for losing her temper with him previously that evening but did want to cause a rift in her and her brother's relationship at its very birth. “I know that he can be a bit...difficult to get on with but—”
“-Difficult?” James asked, fuming, his eyes beginning to smolder with emotion. “He's a bloody arse, is what he is! You of all people should know that he's playing around with dark magic. Don't you have an ability to detect evil or do you just wait until something tries to kill you until you decide?”
“Listen, he's not fucking evil okay—”
“-He's going to be a bloody Death Eater-”
Grace, becoming irate and forgetting herself, gripped the fabric of James' collar in her hands and pulled him up off of the bed with her. James' arm was twisted at an awkward angle as he raised his wand to the side of her face, its tip gently brushing her cheek. Grace's eyes narrowed to match her brother's.
“Take it back,” she demanded in a low voice. She had not been able to see Severus in her visions, spare the few glimpses with Lily, but was sure that he would not turn out to be a follower of a dark wizard. His soul was far too pure for him to fall that hard. There was no way the soul she was supposedly meant to make her whole was going to be marred by dark magic.
“What's your problem?” James said through gritted teeth, stumbling slightly as Grace pushed him backward, releasing her hold on him. He snorted and dropped his arm. “It's no wonder why everyone thinks that you're a freak.”
Grace lowered her eyes slightly, taken aback at his words. She folded her arms in front of her, hugging herself. She had to keep her emotions better in check. “I'm sorry,” she muttered, feeling torn between her brother and Severus.
James dropped back down onto his bed, avoiding her gaze. “Just leave.”
“James, please,” she began, her mind racing to find an opportunity to save the moment. She glanced down at her book sprawled out on the floor, having spilled off of her lap when she assaulted James. “I didn't mean to...I...” She stooped down to collect her handbook. “I'm sorry.” Grace started for the door, hoping that if she gave him some time that her brother would eventually cool off.
She paused as her fingertips grazed the cool door handle when she heard her name being called.
Running a hand through his hair, a particularly frustrated expression on his face, James finally glanced at her. “You don't have to leave.”
Lost in confusion, Grace hovered by the door.
“I'm sorry Grace, I know that you're still new and that...you probably don't know any better. You have to be careful about who you are making friends with. Those Slytherins, especially that sniveling little wretch, they can't be trusted, Grace.” James watched her intensely, continuing when her only response was an empty gaze. “Look, I know people like you. You want to see the good in everybody, but some people just don't have any good there. Evan's is the same way you know? And do you want to know something? She thought that she saw some kind of good in that snake too and you know what? He hurt her. Just ask her, if you don't believe me. I don't want to see the same thing happen to you.”
Grace's mind was racing with possible responses to her brother's onslaught and she glanced down at the wooden floorboards beneath her feet, taking some time. She wanted to continue to defend Severus, although she did not know him. On the other hand, she very much wanted to concede and make James happy, although she did not have any idea who he was either. Vaguely, she was interested in asking why he had a change of heart so suddenly. Was it because he wanted an opportunity to get to know her and not burn bridges so early in their acquaintance? Or was his uncertainty based on something else, perhaps expectations? She wondered momentarily if she should ask him why he would care if something bad happened to her. He was her brother, and he seemed to be attempting to take on that role, but he knew next to nothing about her.
She felt a thought pulling at her mind, taunting her. Should she divulge information about herself to James so soon? After all, even the minute amount that Grace had revealed to Remus had caused friction in their relationship. This was her brother, however. If she would not be able to trust him, then who could she confide in? There was Anne, of course, but Anne was an ocean away. There was always Remus, although their friendship was still new and too rocky. Severus was completely out of the question, as she had insulted him twice now.
Being a Trucido was not exactly supposed to be a secret but keeping the knowledge from people would make things easier. No one would bother her for information and nobody would find out about Remus' condition indirectly.
Then there was always his previous statement that was lingering ominously in the room's already heavy atmosphere. He had said, “everyone thinks you're a freak.” Again? She had already experienced enough isolation at Noctars. There was only Anne, Gretchen and Albus who accepted her. They were the only ones who put up with her antics, her instability and her inability to maintain a state of social normalcy for more than a few days at a time until excitement or agitation took control of her actions. The others shunned her. Their bullying and taunting had pushed her too far once already, she did not want for a repeat of that episode...
The idea of bullying of course brought her back to her dilemma of being torn between Severus and James.
She glanced up at her brother finally and his urging expression revealed to her that an inappropriate amount of time had passed for her to still be fumbling for a response.
There was a sudden rap on the door, startling Grace from her thoughts.
James peered at it over her shoulder looking slightly agitated. “Yeah?” he called.
“It's Lily,” a voice returned with some reluctance. “I'm looking for Grace.”
Panic rose swiftly from Grace's stomach. She had forgotten about Lily and was not ready to have the conversation that Lily wanted to have with her. Before James could answer, Grace waved her arms wildly in front of her body to gain his attention.
“I'm not here,” she whispered anxiously.
James gave her a strange look, appearing slightly torn. “Hey Evans,” he said cheerfully. “How are you?”
There was a brief silence followed by a sigh. “Potter, open the door.”
Grace, wide-eyed, hurriedly escaped to James' bed and he titled his head at her curiously. She shot him a look and pulled the crimson curtains closed around her, effectively concealing herself from Lily.
As she released the rough fabric from her grip, she heard the door creak open.
“Evening Lilypad,” James said, casually. “You're looking lovely tonight.”
Lily's voice sounded exasperated as she responded. “Potter, I am not here for pleasantries. Have you seen your sister?”
“Hmm. Nope, can't say that I have. Have you checked with Remus?”
“If you see her will you tell her that I'm looking for her?”
“Sure, anything for you, love.”
Lily did not respond.
“Ah, Evans! Wait!”
Grace blanched, her mouth falling open slightly in horror. James was going to expose her.
“About that Hogsmeade trip in a couple of weeks-”
Grace released her breath in a long slow exhalation as James relayed one last protest before the door clicked closed. She listened to the steady footsteps as they approached her, the soft thudding sound of shoes meeting hardwood resounding louder with each step. The curtains were pulled from around the bed, revealing her brother.
“Hiding from Evans, are we?” he teased, smirking. “I have to admit, she can be pretty scary. But why exactly are you avoiding her?”
“She found my book,” Grace sighed. “I'm not ready to have 'the talk' with her.”
“Well I'm not sure exactly what she read, but I don't think that I am ready to tell her about all of this yet.”
James offered her a grin. “Well, do what you want,” he said. “But Evans will understand...she's actually pretty amazing.”
As Grace regarded her brother's stricken expression, the relaxation of his facial muscles, the softening and particularly dazed gleam in his eyes as he spoke of Lily, Grace could not help but smile. She fought the urge that was tugging on her heart to let him know that he would eventually win the vivacious redhead's affection and to not give up on her.
Those thoughts merely triggered the tantalizing demise of James and Lily, the information feeling more like a curse suddenly. She should have expected that meeting her brother would make the knowledge far too real. Before, although he was her brother, he was just another face in a series of plays that had been haunting her dreams. Now he was a real person who was attempting to connect with her.
Perhaps Gretchen had been mistaken and Grace's dreams were just that: dreams. After all, there was only one other Trucido known in her lineage who had been a Seer. Grace felt that she could never be so lucky. The cogency of her encounter with Death had to be a prominent indicator of that.
She bit the inside of her cheek as she felt a dip in the bed as a result of James coming to sit by her once more.
“So, you were saying something about the Veil?” he prompted, in what Grace could only assume to be an attempt to regain some lost ground.
Grace remained lost in her thoughts however. “Uhm, yeah,” she mumbled. “There's really not much written about it though. I don't know all that much about it.”
“But you made a...portal? Where does it go?” James pressed, oblivious to Grace's onset of distraction.
She turned her head to face him, stuffing her worry back down her throat so that it could bubble in her stomach. She forced herself to smile again. “Cruor Terra,” she explained as she held up her arm to show off her bracelet. “It's the moon charm, I opted to make my portal a bit less obvious than Herpo's...no don't touch!”
Grace pulled her arm away from the vicinity of her brother's impending hand and he laughed.
“You might take us somewhere we don't want to be,” she said.
“Okay, so what is this 'Cruor Terra' exactly?” he asked, a hint of playfulness resounding in his voice.
Grace regarded him in thought. She had never attempted to explain what the other world was like before. She'd previously had discussions with Albus and Anne on the wars but never really what the world was all about. “Well, it's dark there...all of the time. Magic doesn't work properly there.”
James' baffled expression prompted Grace to continue. “Well, you see, magic works a bit differently. Some of our world's creations work somewhat effectively when brought to Cruor, like poisons. But they use blood magic. Blood there tends to hold some properties and used in combination with certain ceremonies, it creates...magic. The vampires have the tendency to use blood that has purification qualities for youth and vitality. But that all takes far too much blood and so they have this thing for killing people....”
James looked a slightly uneasy. “...and you said that there are vampires at your old school?”
“They're different in Cruor than they are here. Very different, actually... I think that one of our ancestors might have carried the name over there because of the creatures' desire for blood... We are in the middle of a War with them right now, but we seem to be making some leeway,” she added contentedly.
James asked, “We?”
“The other Cruors and I,” Grace explained.
“You're in the middle of a war?”
“There's a war going on here, too,” he muttered offhandedly, running a hand through his coarse hair.
Their conversation was teetering on the edge of dangerous. If James was to take the leap into the territory of Grace's involvement in the Wizarding War, she would have to use some delicate maneuvering to avert his curiosity. James could not discover her precognition, it would raise too many questions. Albus still thirsted for bits of information, although he would not press her.
James appeared to let it go for the moment but Grace feared that as his time being involved in the war neared, he would venture into the subject of her own engagement. Or lack thereof, as she would expect.
“So,” James continued, lazily. “What else can you do?”
Grace considered him for a moment, carefully taking in his body language. For the most part, she felt as if she was doing a decent job at behaving normally. This, of course, was excluding her attack on James. “I'm not sure what you mean,” she said gingerly.
“Any cool powers?” James asked with his curiosity finally reaching his voice again. “Remember, laser beams, flying without a broom, super strength...?”
Grace laughed. “No, no laser beams. No super strength, but I do exercise daily. Gotta keep in shape! And I don't fly. With or without a broom.”
With wide eyes, James regarded her with a look of having been scandalized. “You've never been on a broom before?”
His question sounded much more like an exclamation to Grace and she blinked at him. He had moved much closer to her in his excitement, leaning toward her. His eyes held a wildness about them and his entire form stilled with the rigid anticipation of her answer.
Cautiously, she shook her head.
Both of his hands latched onto her shoulders in excitement. “That's unbelievable! Grace, come on!” he began to tug at her, attempting to pull her off of the bed. “I can teach you!”
Grace recoiled, shaking her head furiously. “No, no! Fucking let me go James! I'm perfectly fine on the ground, thanks!”
“Aw, it's fun Grace! Just-come-on!”
“James!” Grace kicked at James' legs, pushing them out from underneath him. His resulting crash to the floor had Grace tumbling after him. He had not released the hold on her arms.
Grace's eyes widened, laying next to her brother on the cool floor, as he began to laugh heartily. He set free her limbs and wrapped his own arms around his stomach. Without really knowing why, she felt herself burst out into a bout of laughter. The two fed off of one another's chortles and cackles until they both were beside themselves with gleeful, giddy guffaws.
After a period of time, exactly how long Grace was unsure of, their laughter began to subside. The siblings remained side by side, breathing heavily. As Grace attempted to calm herself, she would only be thrown into another fit of giggles when James would suddenly begin to snigger again.
“St-stop!” Grace managed to say although she was significantly lacking oxygen. She whacked James in the arm but he only laughed louder. “You ha-ave t-to stop!”
She pulled herself to her knees and dragged herself back to James' bed using great effort to ignore her brother.
“I'm okay,” he breathed, using his harms to push himself up so that he was sitting. “Maybe tomorrow, then?”
“You're not getting me on a broom...ever.”
“You have no idea what you're missing out on! It's bloody brilliant is what it is.”
“That's fantastic. I'm not doing it.” She paused and studied James. He eyes were already glassy with thought. He probably had an uncountable number of reasons that he would use to get Grace off of the ground. Grace did not particularly want to argue with him about it, so she decided that a subject change would do them both some good. “And to answer a previous question, Lily and I are acquaintances. Not that I'm going to get involved in you little love quest, anyway,” she said, smiling.
Her distraction had worked. James now appeared to be committed to this new subject. “I don't need your help,” he said smugly. “Evans will come around.”
Grace laughed. “Really now?” She teased as James joined her on the bed. “Because it seems to me that she's not very fond of you.”
The smug expression never left James' face. “Ah, but that's where your wrong. You see, Moony said that Frank said that Alice said that Lily told her that she admired how I stood up for my friends. She thinks I'm...gallant.”
Not being able to help herself, Grace chuckled again. “Doesn't seem that way to me.”
James narrowed his eyes at her, but his smile suggested that it was only in play. “Says the girl who is in denial of having a soft spot for a certain werewolf.”
“I thought you didn't want to talk about Remus and I?” she said firmly, but not before executing another one of her famous fish impressions.
“I thought you said there wasn't a 'Remus and I'?”
“There's not,” she said through her laughter. “Its an empathetical connection I have with him. A fairly strong one. That's it. By the way...its pronounced Servator.”
“Hmm,” James hummed in thought. “It seems to me that you are taking a bit of liking to him.”
“Oh gods, James,” Grace said, rubbing her forehead. “Can't we talk about something else? I've already told you that Remus and I weren't meant to be together.”
“Oh yeah. The true love thing.”
“Do you know who that is?”
Grace nodded solemnly. “Yeah...but you shouldn't have to worry about that much. I'm pretty sure he fucking hates me. I'm not even sure I like him all that much at the moment, myself.”
James' face suddenly changed expression, his eyes wide. “Oh Merlin, don't tell me it's Sirius-”
“Oh gods!” Grace exclaimed, cutting him off. “No, it's not Sirius, fuck, why would you think that...Sirius hates me?”
Looking down quickly, James pressed his lips together. “No, no. He's just not very happy that you're stealing Moony.”
“I'm not stealing anybody!” Grace protested.
James laughed but pressed on. “Well, who is it then?”
She gave him a questioning look. “Do you really want to delve into my love life?”
“Actually...no.” James coughed before picking up her handbook. “So what else is in this thing?”
The muffled sounds of talking could be heard from beyond the door and Grace and James ceased their conversation. With a purposeful force, the door flung upon and Sirius excitedly bounded through the aperture, quickly followed by Peter just as enthusiastically. Remus shuffled in last, an amused smirk on his face and closed the door before his eyes settled on the two still seated on James' bed.
“You missed it Prongsie!” Sirius said, slapping James on the shoulder.
“What did I miss?”
“The first prank of the year!” Peter sang before flopping onto his own bed.
James looked as though somebody had struck him across the face. “You didn't...without me?” he asked incredulously.
“Bad luck, mate,” Sirius said grinning. “You're the one who decided to stay behind for your bird gen.”
James grunted and stood with a frustrated sigh. “You're a right arse, you know that? The whole lot of you,” he added as an afterthought as he made his way across the room to the bathroom door.
Sirius emitted a bark-like laugh. “But it was your bloody idea...it was too brilliant to let sit! Jamsie! Come back!” He banged his hand against the closed door, laughing.
“Bugger off, Padfoot!”
Grace asked curiously, “Prank?”
AN: Made it back to me then? Very good :). Was the conversation too long, perhaps a bit boring? If you're feeling up to it, that review box down there has the tendency to get lonely. It would love for you to visit it!
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