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Chapter 11 : Rows and Rumors
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Chapter 11~ Rows and Rumors
Like it always did, as the Christmas Holidays began to approach, my mood fouled considerably.
I never looked forward to leaving the cozy comforts of the castle in exchange for three weeks of the hell I was supposed to call home. I dreaded each day's end because it brought me closer to boarding the Express back to the purebloods. The dread was even more powerful this year.
What with Rabasatan Lestrange and I offically dating and my mothers vomit-worthy approval (I knew because she sent me a letter -as did my brothers and sister in law- oozing with enthusiasm for the match and gushing about what a cheeky one I was for not telling her right off) on top of all of the other issues, it was also going to be my first Christmas without Sirius.
Nora and Lena tried to cheer me up, raise my spirits with sweets and books and funny stories but none of it worked. I was stuck in a rut until the end of Christmas Holiday. Possibly longer if my life kept on the steady downward spiral it seemed to be traveling since July.
I was confused about so many things that I felt like I was riding one of those spinning things at the playground on a daily basis. Getting dizzier and dizzier with every turn. When I saw Sirius the tension was palpable. When I saw Rabastan (who was now annoyingly being called my boyfriend by everyone but myself) I tried my best to avoid him at all costs- which wasn't working out so well. And, Agrippa forbid, I see Sirius while I was WITH Rabastan!
All in all, I was not a very pleasant person to be around that last week. An agitated, pre-mental-breakdown hag with a constant knot in her stomach and a tightness in her chest that made it hard to breathe.
I was the definition of a wreck.
So, needless to say, when the actual day arrived my friends were more than a bit reluctant to wake me. Rattling the beast's cage was not a mistake most Ravenclaws were willing to make. But I guess they figured letting me over sleep wouldn't be a good idea either because they finally poked me awake at half past eight.
I didn't bother with make-up, I threw my hair into a disheveled bun and slipped into my old sweats and a hooded sweatshirt.
"Nice," Kathlena chuckled.
I very maturely stuck my tongue out at her while trying to shove things into my trunk. I'd been so deeply buried in my hope that today wouldn't come that I hadn't packed last night with the rest of my dormmates. A very unwise choice, I was coming to find.
Breakfast was far too short.
I sat next to my friends in silence listening to them banter about vapid things. To be fair, I probably would have been ranting over the stupid things too had I not had far bigger problems to deal with. Like a boyfriend I was avoiding, a former best friend I couldn't fall out of love with, parents that thought I would follow in their contemptuous footsteps when I graduated and an impending demise I was sure would come soon.
When it was time to go out to the train the ever-sly Nora Wiles tightly linked her arm around mine, practically dragging me with her. The only reason I did not protest was because it served another purpose as well.
Just as she started pulling me into the throngs of people, I spotted Rabastan and he spotted me.
But thanks to my pushy best friends, I was spared the mortification of having to tell my alleged "boyfriend" that I would most certainly NOT be spending the entire train ride with him- in the compartment where my cousin, the disgruntle little brother of the guy I was hopelessly in love with and the rest of the idiots I would be forced to hang out with all holiday (no doubt) would also be. Or have to suffer the agony of telling my best friends I had to blow them off and spend the hideously long journey on the Express with people who generally repulsed me, to save face.
Like always these days, I felt like a complete coward. But, for once, I didn't really care.
I would see enough of Rabastan over the holiday. I wouldn't see my friends until this nightmare was over.
We sniffed out a good compartment andwere joined very shortly by the boys, who had some fresh gossip they were practically bursting to tell. Honestly, whatever nitwit said that girls gossiped and boys didn't obviously wasn't a Hogwarts student. I wasn't interested enough to pay any attention to them.
I buried my nose in my book, the classic method of hiding for Ravenclaws, and attempted to lose my grasp on reality in it's pages for a while. It didn't work, though I don't know why I expected it to. I certainly hadn't been Lady Luck lately.
Because, just as I was about to let go of my cares and sync my mind with that of the heroine, Gabe said, "And the there was the ever-entertaining Black row."
I tensed, muscles coiling defensively at the name. A reflex, at this rate. Kathlena, Lanora and Everett (who had wrapped his arm not-so-subtly around Lena's waist) all looked at me immediately.
Oh, how tactful my dear friends can be. Honestly, sometimes I wonder how the hell the lot of us got into Ravenclaw.
Pride warred with curiousity as I debated inquiring further. I didn't want my friends to know how much of me was invested in Sirius, even still. I was in dire jeopardy of showing I cared and I didn't like that at all. Call it a product of my cold raising, but I didn't want my friends to know it-or he-still interested me. Or at least not the boys.
Nora, however (Agrippa love her), saved me the trouble.
"What Black row?"
"You didn't hear?" Everett blinked, incredulous. "Rumor has it that last night, in the Charms corridor, dear old Siri allegedly snuck up on Reggy to catch him alone..."
I shivered, how well I knew how that felt.
"And they got in this huge shouting match. Regulus kept saying stuff about their mum loving him better and Sirius being jealous. And Sirius laughed and asked him what the hell he was supposed to be jealous of. And then they moved onto the Death Eater issue. Regulus kept shouting about Sirius being a blood traitor and Sirius kept trying to convince him not to join the Dark Lord. They just kept shouting rubbish at each other until Flitwick came out and broke them up."
My stomach churned uneasily. I could tell by the uncomfortable look on his face that there was more and the furtive glance he sent my way told me exactly what it was.
I had been mentioned.
There was no doubt in my mind that that was exactly the thing he didn't want to say. Whether Regulus or his brother had brought me up, I didn't know. And what they said, I wasn't sure wanted to know. But I was sure they had talked about me and it just made my stomach heave even more.
"So what is Missy playing at with that new haircut of hers?" Nora averted quickly. Usually she was an artist at changing subjects but there was really no subtle way to do it in this case. Yet, she managed to do it skillfully. Because it was then that we were able to tease Lena and Everett about Missy's appearant infatuation with the latter and her attempt to catch his eye.
It was so ridiculous that she thought he'd be interested just because she happened to make herself resemble Kathlena. So incredibly absurd that it almost distracted me. Almost.
I didn't talk for the rest of the way. I tried not to listen to my friends banter, in case it approached dangerous ground again. In fact, I was so determined to shut myself off that I finally, after many sleepless nice, drifted off into unconciousness.
When I woke up it was dusk and I was surprised to find my stomach was snarling in outrage at my neglect of it. I hadn't eaten since dinner, three days ago. And even that was forced for my friends' sake.
But I was ready to give in to my body's demands. My first mistake.
"Did the trolley already come?" I inquired sluggishly.
"Is Dumbledore the headmaster?" Gabe retorted.
I registered the sarcasm and the sinking sun outside as my mind shook off the sleepy stupor. My stomach growled disgruntly and I groaned, "I s'pose I should go find it then."
I didn't wait for any of them to reply, I trudged from the compartment, rubbing my eyes and yawning hazily. Dragging my feet, I stumbled down the deserted corridor of the train- ignoring the laughter of people inside the compartment sinking through the walls, barely aware of my surrondings. My second mistake.
"You know, normally, when a girl starts going out with a bloke she actually sits with him on the train."
I was so sleep deprived that my brain seemed to disconnect from my mouth. The words just sort of spilled out without registering in my brain first. "And normally, renunciation means that you leave the people you abandon alone."
"Well normally, when you snog someone you don't go to Hogsmeade with their arch enemies."
I scoffed without thinking, ignoring the tingle that shot down my spine at the mention of our kiss. Appearantly my mental-to-verbal filter wasn't working this morning. "Arch enemies! You've barely ever talked to him! How the hell would you even know?"
"Any Death Eater is my enemy."
"Oh because all of the sudden you're the great warrior who's going to take down the Dark Lord?" I jeered, rising to the bait. He knew exactly how to manipulate my emotions and I loathed him for it.
His chin jutted out in defiance. "Maybe I am!"
It took me a moment to realize the shout of derisive laughter that followed had come from my own mouth. "Oh yes, I forgot, because you're the brave Gryffindor. The boy who wet the bed until he was nine!"
"And you're the wise Ravenclaw who can't even figure out what she wants!"
"I know what I want!" Not a lie.
As much as I hated to admit it in this moment, I knew exactly what-or who- I wanted and I didn't need a pair of earrings to tell me. I was looking at him. Try as I might to escape it, I still wanted this foolish boy in front of me more than anything in the world. I loved him and hated him with every fiber of my being.
"Really? Do you, Mir? Because from where I'm standing it looks like you're pretty damn indecisive."
"Well then maybe you should move," I retorted blazingly.
"Is there a problem here?"
My entire body tensed as I recognized the voice behind me and the arm slipping possessively around my shoulders.
It wasn't until Rabastan spoke that I realized we were in the corridor of the Hogwarts Express having a very public row. Laughter no longer floated faintly from the compartments around us, instead the occupants had poked their heads out to listen to Sirius and I. I groaned internally, the gossip would be explosive- I was almost greatful that we had the entire Christmas Holiday ahead of us so that the interest might fizzle out.
"No, Bas. I'm fine," I tried to sound like a reassuring girlfriend.
In truth, I was actually disappointed that he'd interrupted us. I hated that I felt that way. Why couldn't I be a normal girl? One who loved her boyfriend and hated the bloke who cared nothing for her. Why did I have to crave any interaction I could get (even in the form of an arguement) with this boy who so clearly didn't love me?
"Yes, Bas," Sirius mocked. "We're fine here. So run along and play while mummy and daddy talk about grown-up things."
Rabastan glowered at Sirius and I felt the need to restrain him. I put my hand in his and said, "I was just about to go find the trolley. I missed it. Want to come with me?"
"Yeah, 'course." He agreed, shooting Sirius an intimidating look that seemed to have no effect on the cocky Gryffindor.
And, leaving Sirius behind without a parting word, I towed my boyfriend away from the confrontation from hell before it got any worse. MY heart was pounding so hard that I hardly heard a word of what Rabastan said on the way to the front of the train.
"Two Pasties, please," I said to the old witch when I found her talking to the conductor. "And a box of Bertie's, as well."
She nodded kindly and handed me the cakes and beans as I dug for my pocket money.
"I've got it," Rabastan said, already handing the witch a galleon and snagging a Licorice Wand for himself.
When began walking back the way we'd come and I waited for the inevitable.
"So," he started. I tried not to wince. "Why don't you come back to my compartment? I feel like I haven't gotten to talk to you in ages."
I forced a (hopefully) amused laugh, "We just talked last night."
His eyes glittered mischieviously, "That, my love, whiled very enjoyable, does not count as talking."
"I thought the girl was supposed to be the one pushing the whole let's-share-our-emotions bit," I teased. It came easily enough to make me uncomfortable.
"And I thought the girl was also the one who was supposed to be pushing the whole sit-with-me-on-the-Express bit as well," he retorted.
"Well, I guess you're the girl in this relationship then," I grinned cheekily.
He wrapped his arms around my waist and pouted. "So you won't come back with me?"
"And watch Rosalie and Rosier snog each other senseless? I'll pass on that offer, thank you very much," I hedged.
"Well you won't see them if your busy snogging me," he beamed, resting his forehead on mine.
"Doesn't that defeat the whole 'let's talk' thing? Besides I'll hear it and vomit. And seeing as you'll be snogging me you can see how this could get repugnent for both of us."
A desperate woman, I shut him up with a kiss and held in a shiver when he groaned contentedly. I pulled away quickly and pressed my forehead to his again. "You'll see me during the holiday."
"True. We've got the whole holiday together."
I surpressed a shudder at these words. The. Whole. Bloody. Holiday.
I kissed him once more and then said, "My Ravenclaw friends, however, won't see me at all. Do you really want to deprive them of their last few hours with me?"
He kissed me again."Yes, because I'm selfish."
I clicked my tongue and shook my head at him, "Slytherins."
"It turns you on and you know it," he chuckled wickedly.
I laughed with him nervously before making my escape. "So, I will see you at the station."
I started to walk away but his hand came around my wrist, pulling me back to him.
"What are y-?"
He kissed me more passionately than before. More passionately then he had yet. And I got the sinking feeling it had everything to do with a certain Gryffindor who was now appearantly his arch enemy.
For a moment I kissed him back, partly because it was nice and partly because I was trying to figure out what to do next. How to proceed? How the hell to get away from this boy I enjoyed kissing almost as much as I'd enjoyed kissing Sirius Black? How could I be convincing? I needed to ponder how to fake this one.
Deciding to force a very peculiar giggle, I pulled away. "Okay, I've really got to go now. They'll be sending out a search party for me soon."
"Let them," he said muffled in my neck. His lips brushing against my sensitive skin making me shiver reflexively.
"I'll see you one the platform," I told him, trying to seem amused. I kissed him once more to be safe and slipped from his arms quickly before he could pull me in again, smiling back at him mischieviously before hurrying back to the security of my compartment.
I had barely stepped off of the train before a little girl, with inky black curls and the darkest blue eyes I'd ever looked into, hurled her small form into my arms. Four year old, Emilia Rosalind Echols, the only little kid I'd ever gotten on with- though that might've only been because she was my goddaughter.
"Emi!" I twirled her around giddily. It was the first spew of genuine happiness I'd had in weeks. "What in the name of Merlin's hat are you doing here?"
I looked around for her supervision and quickly found my favorite brother's face in the crowd. Markus towered over everyone else and paired with his wife, Tamora, with her wonderfully strange cerulean eyes and long red hair, they were impossible to miss. It was only slightly surprising that my smile got wider at the sight of them. My eldest brother, his wife and their daughter were the only ones in my family that I could really stand anymore so seeing them waiting for me, rather than my mother was a very advantageous thing. No doubt when I did see her she'd be gushing unbearably.
Not that Markus was much different from the rest of my family. He still thought Muggles to be beneath us and Muggle-borns to be undesirable company. He believed in a class system of wizards. Purebloods at the top, the halfbloods, then the muggleborns. But what made him more likable was that he still had compassion. He didn't believe them to be equals but he at least didn't think we should kill them all. Markus was far more humane than any other relative I had. Which was why, in recent years, he and his girls had become my favorite relatives. With them, I didn't constantly have to hear about Muggle scum and treacherous bloodtraitors.
"Mark!" I hugged my big brother enthusiastically in a way I would have never hugged Milo. My other brother was as warm and fuzzy as a Hungarian Horntail. But Markus was a softy now that he had an adorable baby girl and beautiful wife to mellow him a little.
"Wotcher, Mir," he grinned, catching me as I stumbled, not quite used to the added weight of a four year old on my hip.
"What are you doing here?!"
"Mum sent us to come get you," he answered. "She's busy at home bossing the houselves around."
"Why?" As if my mother needed a reason.
He grimaced. Obviously he'd been hoping I wouldn't ask that particular question. "There's a party at the house tonight."
I glared at him, as if he were the one who came up with the idea. "Does it involve a dress I can barely breathe in and dancing in uncomfortable heels?"
Tamora laughed at the face I pulled, she knew all too well how dreadfully agitating the ensembles we women had to wear to the fancy balls were.
It wasn't until I hugged Tamora that I spotted him again.
Maybe it's a tribute to how pathetic I am that through the crowds of people reuniting I spotted him. Or perhaps it was just because it was due to the fact that he and I were currently in eerily similar positions.
Because, as I embraced my sister-in-law, Sirius was embracing an kindly old readhead woman. And he was also looking directly at me.
My stomach turned with a mixture of disgust and intense jealousy as I realized he was hugging Mrs. Potter. He was going home with the Potters. He'd run to them for refuge without so much as a goodbye.
All the horrible feelings from summer returned in an instant. I arranged my features into a cheerful composition before pulling away though.
"Shall we then?" I asked, now anxious to get out of this sickening establishment and onto the next.
"Yeah, alright," my brother sighed taking my trunk as I picked up my kitten's carrier and handed Emi to her mother.
"Take my arm," Tamora told me.
I groaned, "I hate Apparition."
"Stop whinin'," Mark teased.
"I'm not whinin'!"
"Well that's what it sounds like from here."
"Then maybe you need your ears-" But my retort was cut off by the familiar sucking-you-into-a-black-hole feeling that came with Side-Long Apparition.
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