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Chapter 28 : Nobody's Dirty Business
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Ain't nobody's doggone business
How my baby treats me
Nobody's business but mine
~ Nobody’s Dirty Business ~ Mississippi John Hurt ~
“He won’t talk to me.” Sirius sighed. He’d just left the Hospital Wing after visiting Regulus. “He just said I should keep a tighter leash on my girlfriend.” I hadn’t told Sirius about my conversation with Remus, and I’m guessing the latter didn’t either, because Sirius hadn’t brought it up, though it could be that he was preoccupied with his brother. He was definitely worried about him; the spell that had rebound upon him had been magic of the darkest kind. Regulus had refused to tell the teachers what had happened, and Alice and I weren’t about to admit that we were practically duelling in the corridor, so it all remained a mystery to the authorities.
“I don’t know what to tell you.” I admitted, as we turned away towards the Great Hall for lunch. I didn’t comment on the ‘girlfriend’ part, and neither did Sirius.
“There’s nothing you can say, I suppose. I mean, he’s my brother and I love him, but he’s a fool. I don’t want anything to do with any Death Eaters, unless it involves stamping them out.” He said this with a terrible expression of conviction on his face that made shivers run down my spine. It had been a while since I’d had a kidnapping flashback, but the blue eyes that had haunted me ever since seemed to flash before my own. Regulus seemed different; his eyes contained thoughts, fears and emotions. Not the eyes I would associate with a Death Eater; but then again, he had Sirius’ eyes. Sirius looked at me. “Sorry, Erin. I know you don’t like it when people talk that way.”
“How?” I asked, surprised. I’d never mentioned that to anyone. Alice and Frank spoke in similar ways sometimes, but they had been my friends for years, so they generally avoided it, knowing it upset me. Especially since the kidnapping. Although I was just as strong an advocate of stamping out Death Eaters, the thought of my friends risking themselves to do it was what freaked me out. I knew first had what these people were capable of, in ways Alice, Frank and Sirius were yet to know.
“I can just tell.” He actually gave me a small smile.
“Well… I’ll see you later.” I made my way over to the Ravenclaw table, where Alice and Frank themselves were sitting. Alice looked at me inquiringly but I shook my head at her. “He won’t spill to Sirius either.”
“I would feel bad for him if…” Alice trailed off sadly.
“I know. He’s only sixteen. I doubt he really knows what he’s signing up for.” She nodded furtively in agreement, but Frank shook his head.
“He has the right attitude. I’m sure it doesn’t bother him at all, the expectations they must have of him.”
“Maybe not in theory, but in practise…” I suggested.
“You’re just being optimistic because he’s Sirius’ brother.” Not so long ago, a comment like this would’ve made me angry, but I think I must’ve grown up a little over recent times, because I just shrugged.
“Maybe you’re right, Frank. I don’t want to believe he’s really evil.”
“Is it true?” A voice interrupted us. I turned to find Winnie Corner standing right behind me with her usual snotty expression on her face. My stomach sank- did she know the truth about what had happened in the corridor with Regulus? I glanced over at Alice, but she was looking carefully blank.
“Is what true?” I asked. It was times like these that I missed Perry, because she could always get rid of Winnie.
“You’re going out with Gideon Prewett?” That hadn’t been at all what I was expecting.
“What? He’s going out with Marlene McKinnon!” I exclaimed, shocked.
“Well, that’s what I thought.” Winnie looked very put-out all of a sudden, and she dropped her snobby tone. “But then I heard that he was with you now.”
“Why would anyone say that? Who did say that?” I demanded.
“I’m not telling you.” She snapped, quickly regaining her usual stinking attitude and sweeping away. I looked over at Frank and Alice.
“Where did that come from?” I asked blankly.
“I have no idea.” Alice shrugged.
It seemed dumb, but the Gideon thing was bugging me. I passed by him in a corridor on the way to a Charms lesson a few days later and asked him if he’d heard any rumours about us going around.
“No, I haven’t,” He admitted, frowning, “What have you heard?”
“Apparently people think we’re dating.” I shrugged. Gideon actually laughed.
“Most people don’t even realise we’re friends… I’m guessing it’s probably just some jealous Slytherin.”
“Maybe they don’t realise Alice is your cousin.” I laughed, feeling relieved.
“Actually, while I’ve caught you,” He looked around us briefly, “Nice one on Regulus Black.”
“Alice told you?” I said, surprised.
“Yeah, and I reckon you should tell Dumbledore.” He added.
“What? Why? I’ll get in so much trouble!”
“We’ll all be in a lot more trouble if Dumbledore isn’t aware there’s a Death Eater under his roof.” He had a point. I nodded.
“Fine, I’ll tell Dumbledore.” I agreed on reflection.
“How’s Sirius taking it?” Now I glanced around to make sure we couldn’t be overheard.
“Not too well, though he’s putting on a brave face.”
“Probably the best way. Eyes are already going to be all over Sirius now that Regulus is in trouble. If he looks like he’s too attached…” I felt my eyes widen as Gideon said this.
“Shit! I didn’t think of that!” I cried. Gideon nodded grimly.
“Clue him in fast. I know it’s his brother, and we know Sirius is decent, but a lot of us have just gotten used to him. There was never a Black who didn’t turn out evil in living or dead memory, for that matter.”
I sprinted to Charms after this conversation- firstly because I was already going to be late, and secondly because the full gravity of Sirius’ position had hit me- he might fall under suspicion too, and the thought of anything bad happening to him because of some stupid decisions his little brother had made… it was awful to me.
“Miss McNamara, how nice of you to join us!” The class were already away, practising whatever Charm we were supposed to be learning. There were bangs and smoke filling the room, perfect for the conversation I was about to have.
“Sorry Professor Flitwick!” I ran over to where James and Sirius were sitting.
“Erin!” James greeted me with a grin, apparently proud that he’d finally remembered my name wasn’t Enid for the first time since we’d first met on the Hogwarts Express. I barely noticed this though. I quickly explained to Sirius why he had to distance himself from his brother now, before his suspected Death Eater status got looked into.
“I thought you weren’t going to say anything?” Sirius asked, strangely blank.
“I know, I wasn’t going to… but Gideon just made me realise how much danger we could be in with a Death Eater at Hogwarts!” Sirius didn’t look as if he liked this one bit, but James gave him a look.
“She’s got a point, Padfoot. If he does have the Mark, Voldemort-“ I winced habitually at the name, “-might be using him to spy on Dumbledore. He could be capable of anything.” Sirius frowned.
“Sirius, I’m sorry, I know you don’t want this but…”
“It’s time for me to make a choice.” He finished. He seemed to gather himself together in a single, deep breath, then looked over at me unsmilingly. “I’ll do it. I’ll tell Dumbledore.”
“I wasn’t asking you to-“
“I know, Erin, but I feel responsible. He’s my brother. And like you said, I need to distance myself from him as much as possible if I don’t want them sticking a Secrecy Sensor up my arse. What better way is there to do that than to grass him up myself?”
“Charming way of putting it, mate.” James scoffed at the Secrecy Sensor comment, “But you know it makes sense.” Sirius merely shrugged and picked up his wand, looking away from both of us. I exchanged a look with James before I departed for where Alice and Frank were sitting. On my way I passed Perry, who looked as if she was going to say something then changed her mind as I passed by her.
“This is getting serious, isn’t it?” Alice said as I finished explaining what had just transpired. “Gideon’s right though- safety first now.”
I felt as if all my moaning and whining over boy problems was extra stupid now, in the face of the reality that a Death Eater inside the castle was a real possibility. Of course, Regulus might not be important enough to be used for anything yet… but that was a maybe. Dumbledore was the only wizard You-Know-Who was afraid of. I thought about those weeks in the summer where I had been locked and chained up, tortured daily for information I didn’t have, and I wondered whether Regulus was facing the same consequence, even if he was on the other side of the tracks. It made me feel a bit sorry for him- he couldn’t be more different from his older brother if he tried. And I’m sure he did try.
Sirius wouldn’t talk to me for the rest of the day, much to my dismay. I knew I’d partially upset him because of what I’d told him, but I also realised he understood why he had to do what he had to do. Sirius and I would be fine. It was concern and love that had driven me to want to protect him from scrutiny in the first place.
A/N: Hello, thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed so far and special thanks to HelenaLupin for your lovely review! Please don't hesitate to let me know what you think of everything even if you've only just started reading this, I really appreciate it!
Second A/N: For ages I was like, why is nobody reviewing :( then I looked and saw this chapter was rejected. Guess why? Apparently the original lyrics from the song I used to summarise this chapter were not 12+ for referencing spousal abuse. Now, I kind of feel like I ought to explain that 'Nobody's Dirty Business' is a very old blues song - it was first recorded by Mississippi John Hurt in 1928. I'm pretty sure other people get away with worse stuff around here? But whatever. Yeah. Sorry for the delay, it wasn't my fault! I just wished to express my disguntlement.
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