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The Complicated Life of Mirabelle Rose by Ginny_RED_Potter
Chapter 4 : Suffocation and A Very Long Train Ride
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7


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(Okay, so first I want to plead my case because I never meant to neglect all of my amazing readers for such a horrendusly long time. But I was rather busy and then I started school which just made it worse and I had about -2 seconds of free time on my hands. But the writer's block is gone and it's the weekend so I am procrastinating atrociously to update as much as I can! So Enjoy! And don't forget to review!
xoxo RED )


Chapter 4~ Suffocation and A Very Long Train Ride


On the morning of my mother's annual summer dinner party, I recieved my Hogwarts letter. But it was considerably heavier this year.

Almost instantly, I knew why.

It was with mild shock that I slid the shiny silver badge out of the envelope along with my letter- which slid to the floor unnoticed. With all the hectic frenzy this summer had been filled with, I'd forgotten all about my fifth year and what that meant.

Nora and I were both up for the prefect spot (Lena was too violent and the other two Ravenclaw girls in our year definitely didn't have the attention span). I'd fully expected for Nora to get the badge and it was almost a relief because I didn't know exactly how my mother would react to my being a Ravenclaw prefect.

But appearantly Dumbledore thought my life should be even more complicated.

Perfect.


***

"SURPRISE!"

Both Rosalie and I gasped as we walked in the door (with all of our bag from Diagon Alley- because term started in four days) and were bombarded by familiar faces. They crowded around us in a way that would make any claustraphobic nervous and grinned like mad at our surprised faces.

Almost instantly, I knew why they'd all gathered at my house like this. Rose had made Head Girl this year and I was a prefect. We were golden in our family at the moment. But it still surprised me that they were all so happy.

I mean, I may have been a prefect but I was a Ravenclaw prefect. Not their precious Slytherin. For once, though, none of them seemed to care (to my gigantic relief). Someone even wrote shimmering purple letters over the door frame that read- Congratulations Girls!

Girls. As in plural.

I felt a gush of affection for my psychotic family for such a small gesture. (Further proof of how sad they are when it comes to being in touch with emotion. They all need ridiculous doses of therapy in my opinion.)

"We're so proud of you," my aunt beamed.

Before I knew it, I was being hugged and kissed and slipped outrageous amounts of silver and gold. It was such a strange feeling, being passed around this way. Having everyone happy to see me.

I hadn't felt like this since my eleventh birthday (before my sorting). Sad, but true. It was strange to feel genuinely happy with people who had caused so much conflict and misery in my life for the past four years. Strange, but nice. If I was going to pretend to be like them it would be easier if- on occaision- I found some happiness.

But the warm feeling didn't last very long at all before being tainted by a spasm of pointless guilt. Guilt, because I was happy and Sirius wasn't here. Guilt, because I was enjoying being around the kind of people we'd always despised. Guilt, because I was going to continue on this path that was so completely opposite from what I'd always wanted- and I was going to try to forget him in the process.

This caused considerable discomfort and I started to feel suffocated. I didn't tell anyone I was getting claustrophobic, or why. But I made my way through the party and into our kitchen, where my favorite house elf, Winnie, handed my some butterbeer. I took it greatfull and gulped like a castaway in the desert. Very unladylike but no one was there to watch.

Or so I thought.

I choked a little when a soft chuckle came from the door at the same time as I spotted someone from the corner of my eye. I started coughing as the liquid tried to slid down the wrong pipe.

My sputtering just made Rabastan laugh harder. And, in my mortification, I felt the stifling warmth return to my cheeks. I knew they'd be horrendous crimson (damn my stupid blushing!).


"Hiya, Mir," he smirked, once he'd finished chortling at my lack of air.

"No," I choked out, "I'm fine. No help needed here. I'm just choking due to your nonexistant tact. But who needs oxyben anyway?" I ranted, "I've always thought it was rather overrated and now-"

He chuckled at my sarcasm but interrupted me, " 'M sorry for scaring you, Belle. I didn't think you'd start hacking because of it- probably should've waited until you were done chugging that butterbeer, huh?"

I glared, "Ya' think?"

He grinned wickedly, his eyes pirouetting with mischief- reminding me of a person I was desperately trying to forget. I gulped in a mixture of pain and nerves. Because, along with the reminder, came a realization.

I was alone with Rabastan Lestrange for the first time.

The only bloke I'd ever been alone with this way was Sirius. And the sensation was surprisingly similar (though with Sirius it was multiplied by a thousand). My throat was dry and a gigantic knot had formed in it- I probably looked like I'd sprouted an Adam's apple. My pulse thudded embarassingly loud and I found it slightly difficult to breathe.

"So, may I ask why the guest of honor was skipping out on her own party?"

My brows furrowed, "I wasn't." I told him defensively.

But I'd spoken too fast and he could hear the lie, clear as day. It sounded false to my own ears too.

I sighed, "Fine. I just needed some air. I felt a little.... suffocated."

He frowned at my hesitation and gave me an inquisitive look.

I heard the silent question and smiled ruthlessly.

"I'm not used to this kind of attention anymore. Haven't been smothered with adorationlike this since I was eleven." I looked at him disparagingly and comprehension dawned on his face.

"Oh," he responded flatly.

I'd now successfully created an awkward moment.

But then he stepped closer, a rather confusing smirk on his handsome face and kept coming until his breath was on my forehead and I was between him and the counter. I realized that all the bussling house elves had disappeared- to give us privacy, I suppose (I would have to talk to them about that later). My breath hitched in my throat as he leaned down to my ear.

His lips brushed against it -giving me shivers down my spine- as he whispered, "We'll have to change that, now won't we?"


***

"MIRA!"

"Ompf."

My family had left me alone on platform nine and three quarters- as always (thought this time I was kind fo surprised. They'd been watching me so carefully lately. And then the one place they know Sirius will be they leave me without supervision? What is that?). And the place was buzzing with so much activity I don't they would've noticed the attack anyway.

I was blinded by a mess of red curls and my air supply had been abruptly cut off by two arms constricted around my neck. I gasped, though not from surprise, just lack of air.

"I missed you!" Nora squealed in my ear and I thought I heard Kathlena's familiar chuckle somewhere near us. But, being blinded, I couldn't really tell.

I tried to respond but it got caught in my throat, just below where her arms were squeezing me to death. Instead, I managed a strange gurgling sound.

"You do realize she can't breathe right?" Okay that was definitely Lena and she sounded even more amused than before.

"Oh. Right." Nora released me and I immediately began gulping air. "Sorry, Belle" She grinned at me sheepishly, she'd seriously forgotten that oxygen was sort of a must. Wow, and were the Ravenclaws. We're supposed to be the smart ones at school- Merlin help us all.

I shot her a look as I concentrated on refilling my lungs then said, "You know I always knew you wanted to kill me."

They laughed and rolled their eyes at my dramatics. Some small part of me felt revived- not because Nora no longer had me in a strangle hold but because they were both there. Just there.

I realized how truly forlorn I'd been over the holiday. I felt splendidly liberated, like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I could finally stand up straight again. There was still a concentrated burden on my chest but I ignored it and focused on the release. I managed to convene on the reunion at hand and how wonderful it felt to be with my friends again.

"C'mon," Lena chortled, "Let's go find a compartment."



"....All I'm saying is that if the Harpies would trade Meredith Casette for Magenta Harper they'd have a rock solid shot at the Cup this year." Kathlena rambled passionately, as we stuffed our belonging into place and settled into our seats comfortably.

"But Magenta Harper's a Puddlemere," Lanora wrinkled her nose sourly.

"What do you have against Puddlemere?"

Nore scoffed as if this was a stupid question. "Their name for start."

"I think it's funny."

"It sounds like it was thought up by a five year old."

"It really does actually," I agreed with a half-hearted grin. My ultimate happiness had been short lived. It seems that the burden on my chest was harder to ignore than I would've hoped. Not that my hopes had been very high, but still.

Butterflies had been badgering my stomach all morning- I hadn't even bothered with breakfast (a fact that didn't go unnoticed by either one of my big brothers as they ate my share- why the two of themwere even over so early in the mornings all the time was beyond me), my nerves were completely done for. I was on edge, frazzled and hyper-aware of the people laughing and chatting loudly outside of our compartment.

Thankfully, though, I was a good actress. Years of practice. I'd been acting like the perfect pureblood on holidays for so long that masking my true emotions was almost second nature by now. Only three people could ever tell I was faking.

And unfortunately, two of them were in the compartment with me.

Lena grimaced at me. Whether because of my expression or my comment I don't know but sympathy soon clouded her eyes so I'm guessing it was in response to the former.

"What?" I snapped self-consciously. I didn't like it when she looked at me like that. I didn't like anyone penetrating my facade.

"That bad, huh?"

"We never did get the whole story," Nora murmured softly.

All the light joking was gone and the air was thick with some foreboding emotion I couldn't quite identify. I forced down the pain that clawed at my throat and tried to stifle the burning sensation in my stomach. I did not want to even think about this, let alone talk about it.

"We figured it was bad since you didn't write much but you never told us exactly what happened." Lena added, her voice taking on that same odd tentative tone as Nora's had.

It was so unusual. They were never that delicate, never cautious in approaching any topic. Especially not with me! Yet here they both were, not even daring to look me directly in the eyes. Strange.

I gulped but the dry air only made the burn in my throat more pronounced, "Um... I-I..." Stammering was not the norm for me, I never audibly fumbled over what to say. All of this abnormal behavior was getting to me.

Their soft, apprehensive tones did nothing to sooth me, as I knew they were meant to. It made it worse and nearly impossible to choke out even one syllable let alone an entire word. I had to inhale several times before I could manage to put a string of words together that made sense.

"Well there's nothing to tell, really." I lied, drawing on my months of practice with my family. Weeks of pretending I was unphased by the dramatic exit of Sirius Black in my life helped in delivering to this audience too. "Sirius ran away from home and risked my life in the process because everyone knows how close we were." I knew they noticed my use of past-tense. I counted on it in fact. "I'll be watched all term. They're like hawks." The grimace that twisted my face at this was completely authentic.

I was not thrilled with the idea of being spied on and gaurded. Not one bit. It was going to be a very long term. I did not do well with authority and having a bunch of Slytherins pretending to be such was going to be particularly irritating. I knew I would have to work extra hard to keep my temper in check this year.

"So you haven't... I mean, he didn't write you at all?" Lena asked, surprise colored her tone.

I knew why, Lena and Nora were well aware of the relationship Sirius and I had. I told them everything (except the part about my being madly in love with him of course). Like all the purebloods it was hard for them to seperate the two of us in their minds, hard for them to imagine Sirius and I weren't joined at the hip much less on notspeaking terms.

I shrugged, trying to look indifferent. "He did. But I wasn't stupid enough to read them."

They both looked confused, not understanding why I was acting this way. Not understanding my comment about his letters. They knew I was mad about Sirius- even if I didn't willingly admit it to them so my attitude baffled them.

"What do you mean you didn't read them?" Nora asked, "What do you do with letters besides read them?"

"Burn them," my voice was shockingly matter-of-fact. Which satisfied me a little, I was improving.

Perhaps it was trivial- my acting skills (though my life did depend on my ability to be convincing at the moment)- but I had to find something to be, if not happy, then at least proud of. My insides could snarl with seering pain but my exterior would remain calm. Something I took a perverse sort of comfort in.

They both gasped at this answer, blinking rapidly- like I'd doused them with ice cold water or something. Their eyes were wide and their jaws had dropped unconciously.

"YOU BURNED THEM?" They exclaimed together in utter shock.

It was so out of character for me. Which had been the whole point, really. I was walking on egg shells at home so- in order to make sure I didn't get killed- I'd done exactly the opposite of what I desired. And it turned out that-more often than not- I was right to do it. The opposite of what I wanted was always exactly what my parents approved of. Ironic, I know.

I shrugged, "Yep." Then- feeling the seams of my facade begin to rip- I adopted a thoughtful expression and announced, "I think I'm going to go change."

Their eyes widened even more but I didn't wait for a response. A few more minutes and I'd be in tears. I couldn't cry in front of them, in front of anyone. Not about Sirius.

I knew they'd be discussing me while I was away but I didn't care.

I couldn't let them know how much I was hurting. It wasn't safe for them or for me. No one but me could be aware of the struggle I was facing. No one could see my tears- though I probably wouldn't've let anyone see me cry anyway, even if it had nothing to do with the banished Black. I didn't like to show weakness and that's what crying felt like to me.


I took my time changing, letting silent tears slope down my pale cheeks. Nora and Lena would worry but they'd know I was fine- physically. I just needed to be away from people at the moment, I needed to be free of prying eyes- or eyes of any sort, really, I needed to recompose myself. They knew that, which was why they hadn't tried to stop me- why they hadn't come looking for me.

When I finally stopped crying, I muttered a spell that would vanish any signs of tears and fixed my sleek curls into a severe ponytail. I didn't worry about make up because I wore very little to begin with. My skin rarely showed the stress I felt, so I didn't mess with it.

With a sigh, I grudgingly came out from hiding.

It was as I made my way back to the compartment, that I saw him.
Standing nearly twenty meters away, looking gorgeous as ever. The tired circles under his eyes that he'd had when I'd last seen him- that blissful day of shopping- had vanished entirely. He looked genuinely happy and healthy-free of all the stress (how nice that must be). His toned skin seemed to glow as he laughed at something the blonde Gryffindor girl next to him was saying. He crossed his arms over his chest- listening intently to the story the girl (Mary, I think is her name) was animatedly telling- and the thick bands of muscle on them flexed.

I fought back the dizziness and tried not to pay much attention to the awful swooping sensation in my stomach as the butterflies swarmed to my esophogas. I'd promised myself I would not let him get to me and here I was nearly swooning at the mere sight of him.

He smiled the crooked smile I loved. My smile, that smile I thought had belonged to me once upon a time. And those dimples that had always seemed to be meant for me alone appeared.

I'd been very wrong. Nothing about Sirius was mine.

I'd never doubted that I had a permenant claim to him- if not romantically than at least as his best friend, like the only true family he had- and that he was just as irreversably altered as I was. But the wrecking ball hit me as I realized my mistake.

A pang resounded painfully in my empty chest and every organ in my body twisted, every muscle throbbed. I felt like my bones had melted into a milky liquid as I stood there. Any second now and I was going to pass out.

I had to get out of there. I could not lose consciencness with him so close.

If he responded and rushed to me someone was bound to see. Assume that I was still speaking to him-assume that, because of his worry, we were still close- and then what would I do? My life would be hanging by a thread if it got around that I fratrinized with 'the blood traitor.'

But if he didn't react- if he didn't care, that would surely kill me. The final proof that Sirius Black- my whole world- didn't give a damn about me would be the last nail in my coffin.

It would be worse than any of the pain I'd suffered so far. More intense than any of my agony. I would gladly let the Death Eaters finish me off after that.

Yes, passing out was definitely something to avoid.

And then, over everthing else, I heard the laugh that I loved most in the world. The one that had kept my heart beating for so long. That joyful bark of a laugh, deep and husky.

I was definitely going to pass out. Any second and I'd be out, cold on the floor.

Wait for it...

"MIRA!"
My body was already tense and alert, waiting for the inevitable swooning. So when I turned reflexively to the sound of my name, the dizziness just got worse. I had to shake my head to get rid of it before I could see clearly. But once the walls stopped spinning I saw the tall, handsome, golden eyed boy my mother had been dropping hints about all week.

"Rabastan!" I exclaimed in surprise.

But, I guess he interpreted it as enthusiasm because, next thing I knew, he'd swept me off my feet. Literally.

He snatched me up off the ground into his strong arms and spun me around. It was such a joyful hug that I couldn't help but return. He seemed so genuinely happy to see me. I think I even laughed in surprise as he whirled me around in circles.

It was still strange to cause this kind of reaction. I hadn't expected it at all. Who would though? Not many girls can honestly say they expect for one of the hottest blokes at Hogwarts to come up and give them a bear hug. Even when Sirius and I were so unheathily close I wouldn't have said that.

"I missed you, Mir!" He told me once we stopped spinning.

I definitely laughed this time. It wasn't the full, musical laugh of undiluted elation that I used to have on the way to Hogwarts. To be honest, my laugh had sounded off since I found out Sirius had left without at least warning me first. But it was still a laugh so I'd take it.

"Oh, because it's been, what? Four days since you last saw me?" I teased playfully.

The girls in the group behind him (who were not even bothering to viel their eavesdropping) glowered viciously. Sending me eye daggers whether for the comment or the mere fact that I was the one who'd caused such a happy reaction in the object of their stalking I didn't really care. I was used to these kind of reactions from other girls.

It was almost as bad as the ones I got when I was arm in arm with or dancing with or hugging Sirius. But not quite.

These seething eye daggers didn't even chip at the wall of indifference I'd built up over many years of pureblood mania. The girls were Slytherin girls and they didn't scare me nearly as much as the Gryffindor ones did. I knew Slytherins too well to be intimidated, Gryffindors were unfamiliar territory.

"Yes," Rabastan chuckled, reclaiming my attention. Then he adopted an adorable grimace, "Four utterly horrendus days! My memory didn't do you justice," he grinned mischieviously after saying this.

I rolled my eyes and my lips twitched. He wasn't Sirius but I could do worse I suppose. He could be an ugly Death Eater like Goyle (who, I swear to Merlin, mentally undresses me everytime I see him. It's so creepy!).

It was then that I felt (more like became aware) that a pair of dreadfully familiar blue eyes were boring into me. But I didn't dare meet them, especially not while I was still in the arms of Rabastan Lestrange.

"I'm choosing to take that as a compliment."

I forced my twitching lips to smirk amusedly. My stomach had dropped and every muscle in my body was tense again, but Rabastan didn't seem to notice. My pulse crashed in my ears and I felt sick again. At this realization my skin prickled with warmth.

Oh boy. This will not be good. Throwing up on the Slytherin Quidditch Captain would not earn me any brownie points, I was sure.

Not that I really cared about earning points with Slytherins much (they were like bees in my oppinion if they didn't bother me I wouldn't bother them) but - at the moment- I sure didn't want to lose them either.

It was then that I realized that I hadn't eaten yet- having been too nervous to even attempt to choke down anything resembling breakfast this morning. I wondered idly- in some back chamber of my brain- why my stomach hadn't growled and embarassed me yet.

"As you should," Rabastan chuckled and then- to my immense relief- he set me down.

I forced a sparkly grin and then said, "I'd better get back. My friends'll be wondering where I am." Not a lie. I'd left Nora and Lena nearly half an hour ago. It was very likely they'd be sending out a search party for me any moment now.

He sighed, "Alright, if you must." But a wide smile stretched acrossed his lips. "But come see me later okay, Bee?"

I rose an eyebrow at this.

"What?" he laughed at my expression.

"What did you call me?"

His grin widened, "Bee."

"Why?"

"Because I can't make a nickname out of Mira but I can make one out of the Belle part. Plus it's very likely that you could sting. Thus, the Bee was born."

I laughed again, not even upset about the stinging joke. "You realize that you just made a nickname out of a nickname, right?"

He beamed at me proudly. "Yes."

I laughed then shrugged blithely (I hoped), "As long as you're aware." And then I stepped around him and began to walk away, "See ya' later, Bas."

"Bas?"

"Your nickname!" I called over the many voices as I walked backwards, away from his amused face. Then, with one last chuckle, I turned back around and froze when I realized what direction I had to go in to get back to Nora And Kat.

Or rather, who I had to pass.

And then I did what I'd sworn not to do. I locked eyes with him.

Yep, I looked right into thosehazy sapphires.

And what I found there both startled and thrilled me. I was confused and doubtful. I fought the horrendus dizzy spell again.

There wasn't just one emotion in those all-too-familiar eyes, there were several. Some I could identify, some were unfathomable. He looked like he was in... pain.

Yes, pain- as hard as it was to believe- was most certainly their in the eyes of Sirius Black. It was accompanied by anger, resent, loathing (directed at who I'm not exactly sure) and... could that possibly be envy?

No. No, no and no. Sirius was not jealous. Especially not of Rabastan Lestrange. I really was losing my mind if I was having such delusions.

I broke eye contact immediately and tried to get a grip on myself. I ducked my head and plowed forward, not even daring to look at him as I passed- though I could feel his eyes burning into me. I stepped around the blonde (What the hell was her bloody name?!) and cantered as fast as my legs would carry me to my compartment.

It was stupid of me but as I opened the door, I couldn't help but glance back.

Very. Bad. Idea.

Moron, moron, moron.

The eyes I met when I glanced back weren't the only ones on me anymore- his friends had noticed our exchange. But I didn't pay the others any attention because what I saw in his face was enough.

It reminded me that Sirius- no matter how much he ran and fought against it- was raised to be one of us. The icy anger in his blue eyes, the locked jaw muscle, the stony set of the beautiful mouth. Every angle of his glorious face was cold and unfeeling. Blank in the hideously familiar way that mine had been over the past few months.

He'd finally gotten the hint.



"Hey Ms. Prefect," Lena smirked, her eyes glittering wickedly as she stared at the badge, pointedly.

Normally, I'd throw her a mock-glare or cheekily stick my tongue out, possibly even tossing a witty retort into the mix. But this time I said nothing, I just faked a half smile and sat next to Nora.

I picked up my new kitten (the one my mother bought me for making prefect- she reacted quite well actually), Cleo and stroked her silky black fur absently. I sat next to Nora as a few of our friends- including the sixth year Ravenclaw boys (Jeff Corner, Jacob Bellby, Gabriel Dittmer, Everett Gilmore and Leo Silvers)- joined us in the compartment.

"Oh, Mir," Jacob said in the middle of the laughter Lena's latest rant (on why there should be a leach law for Peeves) had generated. "Prefect meeting."

I gasped like he'd doused me with icy water. "Shit!"

They laughed at this and began to tease me. But I ignored them and pulled Jacob out of the compartment with me.

"Whoa! Mira, slow down!" Jake chuckled as I tugged him, practically running through the corridor.

"No time!" was all I replied with.

When we got to the Prefects' compartments I groaned. we were, of course, the last to arrive for the meeting. And as I slid the door open I saw the Heads for this year. Rabastan and Rosalie- no surprise there.

But as I sat between Rose and my fellow Ravenclaw, Arina Lovett, I saw that it wasn't just Prefects in the compartment this year but four additional people had been added to the mix.

The Quidditch Captains, whose status equaled the prefects' in many ways.

Bolloks
James Potter stiffened visibly when he saw me.

Ugh. Of course he did.

Sirius had run away to his bloody house. So there was no doubt in my mind that he was fully aware of my blatant ignorance of Sirius over the past few months- possibly even the encounter I'd had with him half an hour ago as well.

Nevermind that it was none of his sodding business, he would still disregard the invisible line and butt in. He always did.

But I could certainly handle Potter. It wouldn't be the first time he and I butted heads.


... "Oi, Echols!"

I whipped around with a glint of irritation. I knew who that voice belonged to and I also knew why he'd come to annoy the living daylights out of me on this otherwise bright afternoon. Lena and Nora smirked- they knew too.

"What the sodding hell did you do to my Beater's fucking arm?"

"Such colorful language," I sighed, ignoring such a half-witted question.

"You broke Sirius's beating arm, you little twit!" He exclaimed, his face outraged.

"It was an accident, you totalitarian nut case!" I snapped, glowering at the handsome but infuriating boy before me.

This was not a lie. It had been an accident. Sirius and I had been sneaking back into the castle after a day at Hogsmeade and I'd slipped and fallen on top of him.

It was mortifying- to be on top of Sirius due to my clumsiness- but it only got worse when I realized that I'd knocked a rather heavy vase down in my wake. And then terror and horror washed through me as he writhed in pain, cradling his arm. He tried not to show that he was hurting but I could see the grimace he'd attempted to stifle.

I'd gotten him to the hospital wing and Madame Pomfrey told us it would take a few days to feel in top form again- due to the glass shards from the shattered vase that had embedded themselves in his skin. She told him he'd feel a strange tingle and that he should expect it to stiffen occasionally.

But leave it to Potter to act like he was handicapped forever. To blow it wildly out of proportion and act like it was the end of the bloody world.

"I don't believe you. I think you injured him so he wouldn't be able to play in the match on Saturday!" He accused.

"Why would I do that, you paranoid sod?" I scoffed disgustedly, "He never hits Bludgers at me anyway-"

"We'll have to fix that." James muttered darkly.

My eyes flashed with steel and I gritted my teeth. "He wouldn't dare. If he did I'd take his arm all the way
off."

He knew I was right. And he knew Sirius knew what I'd do if he shot one of those heavy death cannons in my direction. Which is why he just narrowed his eyes at me seethingly once more and stalked off to go bug some poor Gryffindor girl in their year whose name escaped me.

My friends chuckled and then Kathlena said, "Well, that went well."....



"Welcome, prefects." Rose said, flashing the compartment a stunning grin. "And of course, our Quidditch captains. Who have all very graciously volenteered to help patrol this year on the train with us." She looked at Rabastan fondly but ignored the other three.

Typical.
"Now, first I want to tell you all..." I tuned my dear cousin out. She'd gushed all summer over what prefects had to do. I didn't need to hear the speech because- by now- I knew it by heart.

I felt eyes on me and I looked around the compartment. The sixth year Gryffindors- I noticed were all pointedly looking away from me. I resisted an eyeroll and contiued until I met the gaze of Regulus Black.

I blinked in surprise. His gaze was so similar to Sirius's it was hard not to get choked up. A gigantic knot formed in my throat and I swallowed, trying to force it back down. I also noticed another similarity which surprised and kind of scared me.

There was cold hard anger in those eyes. A flash of steel.

What? That couldn't be right.

But there it was, plain as day. In the eyes of Sirius's little Slytherin brother. And that is the part that baffeled me most of all. What the hell was his problem?

I broke eye contact, I didn't have enough cranial space to care at the moment. I'd never been particularly close to Reg anyway. What did it matter if he had a problem with me?

But, unfortunately, I looked right into the eyes of the new Head Boy- who'd been staring at me for Merlin knows how long. And to my dismay, he winked at me.

And-if the way his jaw muscle lurched and his eyes flashed- James Potter definitely caught it.

Oh, perfect.

***


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