A/N: Ok, here's the first instalment of the newly rewritten version of Fire Burns. Quite a lot's been cut and certain plot points have changed, but overall I think it works much better this time around.
If you read the old version, I hope you like the changes, if you're a new reader, then
Finally, many, many thanks go to my beta Have Socks. Will Travel. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Chapter 1 - Going back
“Feels good to be going back doesn’t it, Prongs?” said Sirius with a yawn, stretching lethargically and shifting position to get more comfortable.
“Uh huh,” replied James absently, gazing out of the window, a preoccupied look in his hazel eyes. Sirius rolled his eyes at his friend and exchanged a knowing look with Remus, who had looked up from his Daily Prophet for long enough to catch his friends’ one sided conversation.
“You’re not still thinking about Evans, are you?” he asked, the exasperation in his voice indicating that he already knew the answer. Honestly, how long had it been? Prongs, known to many as James, didn’t answer and it was a few seconds before Sirius, grinding his teeth yelled: “James!”
“What?” asked James. He tore his gaze away from the window and looked to Sirius, a distracted look on his face. Remus grinned as Sirius threw up his arms in despair.
“Leave him alone, Padfoot. He’s in still in shock that Dumbledore chose him for head boy,” said Remus, casting a sly look at his scruffy haired friend. James scowled and threw a book at Remus, who ducked easily out of the way, still grinning at his expense. Sirius, stretched out across three of the seats in their compartment, laughed.
“Back with us, then?” he asked cheerily.
“Never left you,” replied James, sticking his tongue out. A knock on the compartment door made them all look up, but it didn’t open. Instead, there was the sound of hushed voices and a stifled laugh, and then the sound of rapidly departing footsteps.
“Wonder who that was,” frowned James, sitting up in his seat, his smile fading.
“Three guesses,” remarked Sirius sourly, face darkening as he spoke.
“Wormtail’s outside,” commented Remus casually, burying himself behind his copy of the Daily Prophet, which he had picked up again now that James had desisted from throwing things at him. Sirius and James looked at him, equally bemused expressions on their faces, and then Sirius got up and slid the door back. Peter fell into the compartment, both arms bound to his sides by the all too familiar body bind curse.
“That’s original,” said Sirius sarcastically, rolling Wormtail the rest of the way into the compartment.
“Well, that’s Snivellus for you,” said James, muttering the counter curse with a flick of his wand as Sirius bent down to help his friend up.
“Yeah, well, I suppose we’ll have to leave him alone this year won’t we, what with Jamsie being head boy and all,” sighed Sirius in mock sincerity. Peter looked up at him, clearly horrified.
“What? You can’t do that! Not after everything he’s done to you! You can’t! He’ll- he’ll-”
“Wormtail, calm down,” said Sirius, eyebrows raised, “before you hyperventilate.”
“He was only joking, Wormtail,” said James, a slight grin on his face. “There’s no need to get so worked up about it. Sirius would never go that saintly on us.”
Peter looked uncertainly from Sirius to James and back again.
“Really,” assured Sirius, “Come on, this is our last year! Do you really think we’d pass up our last chance to jinx Snivellus without getting arrested?”
“Sirius, I don’t think you get arrested just for jinxing someone,” said Remus, ever the voice of reason. His eyes were still on his paper, but his ears were on his friends’ conversation. It was how it had always been; heavens knew what would happen if he ever left them entirely to their own devices.
“You would the way I’d do it,” said Sirius darkly. “That slimeball has got it coming to him.”
“Do you have to be so violent?” asked Remus, sighing heavily. Sirius looked at him in fake surprise.
“Whatever do you mean?” he asked innocently.
“All I’m saying is that cursing Snape isn’t the only thing to life,” replied Remus, giving his tall, dark friend an appraising look.
“No,” agreed Sirius amicably. “There’s also taunting him and beating him in Quidditch and-”
Remus glowered at him; Sirius tried to look mortally offended at this but failed miserably. He sat down next to James again, who grinned and put his feet up on the opposite row of seats.
“Look Moony, you know he’d only curse us twice as much if we didn’t retaliate and besides, we have very good reasons for jinxing him.” James told Remus, defending his anti-Snape position as usual.
“So you said. It was the fact that he exists, wasn’t it?” asked Remus, treating him to an unimpressed stare. James bit his lip having the decency to look at least a little ashamed of himself; Sirius, however, took up the argument unabashed.
“He deserves what he gets, Remus. He goes round acting like he’s better than everyone else.”
“And, of course, no one else we know does that at all, do they?” asked a sarcastic voice from the doorway. “Nobody in the saintly house of Gryffindor would ever dream of doing such a thing, huh?”
Sirius spun around to face the intruder, glaring, as James leapt to his feet, fumbling for his wand. On the seat nearest the door, Peter cowered back, trying and failing to make himself invisible.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Sirius, indignantly, dark eyes fixed angrily on the girl before him. Remus sighed wearily and pointedly raised the newspaper in front of his face again; he could see where this was going and he was not getting involved.
“I would have thought it was obvious,” the girl retorted, giving him a small, sharp smile and looking absentmindedly at her nails.
“Leave it, Padfoot,” whined Peter quietly, small eyes flickering between his friends and the newcomer.
“Leave what? I’m not arguing,” said Sirius, trying to fight the rising frustration in his voice. “I’m just inquiring as to what was meant by that particular comment.”
Over in the corner, Remus lowered his paper, gave the girl in the doorway a warning look and then turned his attention to Sirius, who was still glowering.
Sirius glanced over at him, a confused expression on his face and would have said something more had it not been for the all too familiar voice at the doorway.
“What’s going on here, then?” Severus Snape surveyed the occupants of the compartment with unrepentant dislike. “Consorting with Gryffindors, Katherine? I thought you had better taste.”
“Oh, they’re not all bad,” said the girl quietly, looking past James to where Remus was eyeing her dubiously. Snape appeared not to hear her.
“Planning on using that, Potter?” he asked, gesturing to the wand James was clutching in one hand. “I don’t think the headmaster would be very impressed, do you?”
“What? Is that your latest plan? Run to the headmaster every time you get into a fight?” asked Sirius disdainfully. “Well, enjoy this year, Snivellus. There’s no one to protect you once you’re out in the big bad world.”
Snape’s expression darkened and Katherine scowled.
“Big bad world? And exactly how much do you know about the real world, Black? That huge family fortune of yours must make things really difficult for you-” she said acidly, blue eyes narrowed with hostility.
“You leave his family out of this,” snapped James, stepping forward slightly so that he was between Sirius, who was standing, wand drawn, and the two Slytherins.
“Why? Touched a nerve?” asked Katherine sourly, gazing mockingly at him.
“I think you’d better go,” said Remus softly, pulling Sirius back with a gentle, but nevertheless firm, hand. He looked at Katherine and their eyes met. “Now.”
Snape frowned slightly and looked at Sirius suspiciously, but Sirius only glared back, hands balled into fists. Katherine arched an eyebrow, but turned towards the doorway all the same, muttering something Remus couldn’t quite catch under her breath.
“You heard him,” said James, hazel eyes hard. “Get lost.” Snape smiled sourly.
“With pleasure. We have better things to do than hanging around here all day with the blood traitors. Come on, Katherine.”
Katherine, however, didn’t hear him; in fact, she wasn’t paying any attention to him at all. The reason for this was that she was in deep conversation with someone standing just outside the door of the compartment, the previous moment’s scuffles forgotten, along with all of the people sitting in the compartment next to her.
“Katherine?” snapped Snape, irritated at being ignored.
“Huh?” asked Katherine turning her head to look at him. “What is it?”
Snape hesitated, shooting a quick look around at the Marauders.
“Let’s go. Rosier will be wondering where we are.”
“Rosier couldn’t care less whether we’re there or not,” she replied smoothly. “He’s probably far too busy with Fiona.”
“Fiona? Why would he be busy with Fiona?” asked Snape, frowning at her in bewilderment. Blue eyes fixed him with a look of deep exasperation; boys could be so slow sometimes.
“Because she’s his girlfriend, Severus,” she said, with exaggerated patience. Someone behind Katherine laughed, a gentle musical laugh. James froze – he knew that sound; he had a finely tuned radar when it came to that sound.
“Rosier’s going out with Parkinson?” The voice outside of the compartment asked.
“Yeah, I know,” said Katherine, glancing round at the pretty red head she’d been talking to before. “I didn’t think it was possible for her to sink any further-”
“Katherine!” A note of urgency was in Snape’s voice now.
“What are you so scared of, Severus?” asked Remus in a low voice. All heads, besides the one being addressed, swivelled to face the boy; it wasn’t often that Remus ever said anything to Snape. Snape himself still stood facing the compartment door. “There aren’t any monsters round here, you know, except-” Remus left the sentence hanging in mid air. Snape’s head whipped around.
“Except what?” he asked icily, not quite hiding the uneasiness in his voice.
Snape narrowed his eyes then glanced at Katherine again. “Coming?”
“No, I’ll catch you up.” She paused, then grinned mischievously and added: “Say hi to Rosier for me - if he can tear himself away from Parkinson.”
Snape smiled sarcastically, then turned to go, but not before he heard Remus say in an off-hand voice:
“Lovely night outside, isn’t it? Beautiful full moon...”
“That was mean, Remus,” chided Katherine, as Snape hurried off down the carriage, but she was grinning despite her words. Sirius stood and slammed the door after him. He had shoved it so hard that it bounced back open. That, however, was the effect that he was looking for and he leaned against the compartment wall, as if awaiting Katherine’s exit so he could do the same thing to her.
Katherine just gave him an amused look, and focused her attention on Remus; it wasn’t exactly news to her that the rest of the Marauders couldn’t stand her and she’d long ago forgotten to care.
“He does it to me,” protested Remus, all innocence. “And it’s hardly my fault if he fails miserably at Astronomy.” Sirius looked at him quickly, dark eyes glinting with interest at news of possible dirt to tease Snivellus with.
“He failed Astronomy?”
“No, he didn’t,” said Katherine firmly. “Remus just meant that it’s a crescent moon tonight and Severus hasn’t noticed. He doesn’t even take Astronomy.”
Sirius scowled at her, but she only smiled and looked at Remus.
“How long is your Ancient Runes essay?”
“What? Oh, about three scrolls. Why?”
“Because I haven’t done it yet and I couldn’t remember how much we were meant to write,” shrugged Katherine, running a hand through her dark hair.
“And what are you going to do if we have it tomorrow?” asked Lily, coming into James’ line of sight at last. He smiled at her, even though she wasn’t paying him any attention, and ruffled his hair nervously.
“I shall stay up till 3am and fall asleep in the middle of one of Yelt’s lectures on mute mining dwarves,” Katherine said promptly, a slight smile on her face. Lily laughed, while Remus frowned disapprovingly.
“Wouldn’t it have been easier to do it over the summer?” he asked, arching an eyebrow. Katherine looked at him for a moment, face blank, then shrugged.
“I was busy.”
“For the whole summer?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes.” There was a pause while they looked at each other, then Katherine smiled brightly. “I’d better go. Rosier will actually go spare if he finds out I’m here.”
“Off you go then, run back to your little friends,” said Sirius, giving her a sarcastic wave. Katherine looked at him for a moment, an arch expression on her face.
“That mouth of yours is going to get you into trouble one of these days,” she said quietly, gazing placidly at him.
“You’ll be in trouble now if you don’t leave,” retorted Sirius, hand moving pointedly towards his wand. Katherine smirked, blue eyes glinting with amusement.
“Oh I think not, Black. How many hexes do you know, I wonder? As many as me?”
“At least none of ours are dark magic,” growled James, surveying her with a look of intense dislike.
“Who said anything about dark magic?” asked Katherine innocently.
“You hang around with Snape,” Sirius pointed out, vehemently. For some inexplicable reason, this made Katherine grin.
“And that means I know dark magic?” She laughed softly, gazing at Sirius in amusement. “I shall have to tell him that. He’ll be delighted, I’m sure.”
“You can tell him he’d better watch his back, too,” threatened Sirius, glaring at her. “Because one of these days-”
“One of these days what, exactly?” asked Katherine, eyebrows raised in a questioning arc. “You’re going to teach him a lesson? Do you really think that’s wise, what with all those dark curses he knows and everything?”
Sirius looked at her steadily. “You don’t think we’re a match for him?”
“Three of you? Oh no, you’re probably more than a match for him, I dare say. Hardly very gentlemanly though, is it? The odds are rather stacked in your favour. Still, if it’s the only way you can win a fight-”
“At least we don’t try and hex people when their backs are turned,” interrupted James, stepping forward angrily.
“No,” said Katherine evenly. “You don’t. I suppose you like to see the expression on their face-”
“Katherine, stop it,” said Remus sharply, pushing his friends back into their seats and glaring at her. “You’re asking for trouble.”
“Maybe that’s what I want,” said Katherine evenly, gazing serenely back at him. “What’s life without a little turmoil, huh?” Something in her expression made Remus hesitate for a second but then she smiled and it was gone. “See you at school. Bye Lily.”
“Bye,” said Lily uncertainly as the black haired girl headed back to her own compartment.
“She’s mental,” muttered Sirius, scowling after her. “What?” he asked at Remus’ odd look.
“Nothing,” said Remus, hoisting an unconvincingly mild expression onto his face.
“James, you do remember we’ve got to supervise the rest of the school when we get to Hogsmeade Station, don’t you?” asked Lily, as Sirius frowned suspiciously at Remus. James ran a nervous hand through his hair again and nodded.
“Yeah, sure, I remember.”
“Right, only you’re not dressed yet and we really ought to check the corridors every half hour or so and we can hardly do that with you looking like that, can we?”
James cast uncomfortable look down at his mismatched muggle clothes, as Sirius exchanged an amused look with Remus and whispered something that James was sure was about him. He shot a suspicious look at his mate who treated him to a supremely innocent look which was a sure sign of trouble, then turned back to Lily.
“Sure thing, Evans. Just give me a minute, right?”
Lily arched an eyebrow, casting an eye over his scuffed trainers and ever messy hair but sighed good-humouredly.
“I’ll give you two,” she said, and slid the compartment door shut.
Feedback thread is here.
Last edited by Purple Banana; November 1st, 2009 at 4:32 pm.
Re: Fire Burns
Chapter 2 – Secrets
“Lovely night outside isn’t it? Beautiful full moon…”
Remus’ words followed Severus down the corridor. Was it full moon already? No, it couldn’t be, could it? The headmaster wouldn’t let a werewolf loose on the train. Dumbledore might seem a few raisins short of a fruitcake, but he wasn’t that crazy.
He reached the end compartment and slid open the door, and sure enough, there were Evan and Fiona, just as Katherine had said, and from what he could see of them, they looked very, well - busy. As did Regulus and Juliet. Severus sighed and slid into the compartment with a disgusted look.
“Hey.” The voice came from the only one of the compartment’s occupants not currently engrossed in someone else, and was presumably, therefore, directed at him. “Good summer?”
“That bad, huh?” asked Robert Avery as Severus turned to face him, raising an eyebrow.
“Not really,” lied Severus, sitting down next to him; there was no way he was going into details about his home life with Robert Avery; not ever in a million years. “Just as thrilled as ever to be coming back to our wonderful school?” he inquired, subtly changing the subject. Robert laughed darkly, brushing blond hair out of his eyes.
“Oh yes, spent the entire holiday wishing I was back here.” He grinned sardonically, brown eyes glimmering with amusement. Severus smiled thinly; he was never too sure of Robert – it was so hard to tell whether he was joking or not. He was one of the smartest people in their year and he tended to keep to himself most of the time.
Severus looked around the apartment and frowned; judging by the small number present, there were people missing.
“Where’s Damon?” He asked Robert after giving the compartment a quick once-over.
“With his sister,” shrugged Robert as he eyed Regulus and Juliet with a disgusted sort of fascination.
“And the girls?”
“Cass and Nicki didn’t get on the train,” said Robert mildly, switching his view to the other couple in the train. He slouched down in his seat and placed his hands behind his head. “I suppose they’ll meet us at Hogwarts or something. Don’t know about Katherine, though. Thought I saw her on the platform.”
“She’s-” began Severus, but was interrupted as the apartment door crashed open, cutting off the rest of his words.
“Erm, sorry about that,” apologised Katherine, cringing as everyone’s eyes turned on her.
“Well that’s one way to make an entrance,” commented Regulus Black, running his hand through his dark hair, haughtily. He smirked at Juliet who grinned back.
“You know who you remind me of?” asked Katherine, closing the door behind her carefully this time and flopping down on the seat next to Juliet. Regulus stared disdainfully at her through dark brown eyes, awaiting the answer. “Your brother. You’re both as arrogant and as thoroughly irritating as each other. And you’ve both successfully worked your way through just about every girl in your respective houses.”
Regulus gazed at her for a moment, as if appraising whether or not her remark was even worth a come-back, then looked away. From his seat near the window, Robert glanced between them, frowning slightly, a calculating expression on his face.
“Where have you been, Katherine?” asked Evan Rosier, detaching himself from Fiona Parkinson and looking suspiciously at her.
“There is such a thing as a toilet you know, Evan,” laughed Juliet, leaning against Regulus, who draped a casual arm around her shoulders.
“Yes, but girls only go to the toilet in groups of two or more,” put in Robert, a quiet smirk playing around his lips.
“Only if we’re talking about boys,” said Katherine calmly, with just a hint of sarcasm. “And I was talking to Lily if you must know. I needed to ask her something about one of my essays.”
“Lily? Lily Evans? Muggle-born prefect Lily Evans?” demanded Evan, dark eyes wide with astonishment.
“Muggle-born head girl Evans you mean,” remarked Severus sourly, slumping in his seat. There was a collective gasp from the compartment.
“She’s head girl?!” Fiona stared at him, tossing thick blonde hair over her shoulder, her brown eyes wide with anger and disbelief.
“Yep. And guess who made head boy,” Severus continued, his face growing darker by the second; so much for his hopes for a good start to the year.
“Perfect Prefect Lupin?” guessed Robert mildly. Severus grinned acidly, but shook his head.
“I wish,” he snorted, leaning backward in his seat, an even sourer expression coating his face. It was a childish pose, but right at that moment it expressed his feelings perfectly.
Evan narrowed his eyes, looking closely at Severus. “From the expression on your face I’m guessing it’s Perfect Bloody Potter.”
Opposite him, Katherine smiled faintly and debated whether or not to tell him that that was exactly what Lily had said.
“Got it in one,” said Severus, scowling. He had now sunk so far down in his seat he was almost sitting on the floor. He leant his head back and gazed at the ceiling, contemplating the immediate future and how terrible it would be with bloody Potter in charge.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, Severus,” said Katherine lightly, grinning at him and waving his concerns aside with one hand. “I can’t wait to see how Potter gets on with Lily. I’d pay good money to see those two being forced to work together.”
“Oh yeah,” said Fiona, sitting up from her position under Evan’s arm, brown eyes glinting rather mischievously. “She hates Potter, doesn’t she?”
“Supposedly,” agreed Katherine. “But Narcissa used to hate Lucius and now look at them.”
“Hang on a minute,” interrupted Evan suspiciously. There was still an unanswered question on his mind. “You still haven’t explained what you were doing with Lily Evans.”
Everyone in the interior of the compartment, aside from Severus, turned their heads to hear her answer. They’d tolerated her friendship with Remus Lupin on the grounds that she’d known him since she was four and he was at least a half blood, but fraternizing with another Gryffindor, and a mudblood at that, was pushing things a bit. Severus was still scowling at the ceiling, lost in his own world. From the look of disgust on his face, it wasn’t a pleasant place to be.
“What do you think we were doing?” asked Katherine, torn between laughter and disgust. Were they really so stuck in their ways that they wouldn’t allow a little social interaction between the houses. “We were talking. Is there a law against that?”
“There should be,” said Severus darkly, sinking down in his seat again, finally coming back to the conversation.
“She’s a mudblood,” said Evan, voice going dangerously low. “A Gryffindor. She’s one of them,” he hissed, leaning forward in his seat and placing his hands on his knees. He gave Katherine a look of contempt and narrowed his dark eyes at her.
Katherine arched her eyebrows. “Evan, calm down before you rupture something. Lily, she’s really not that bad-”
Evan’s face turned a brilliant shade of magenta as he stood, towering over Katherine. “Not that bad?! You do realise she’s not got an ounce of wizarding blood in her, right?”
Katherine frowned slightly, blue eyes hardening. She’d met people far scarier than Evan Rosier, and she wasn’t about to be intimidated by an inflated ego and half decent surname. “You’re not my father, Evan. You don’t get a say in who I can and can’t talk to, so I’d advise you to shut your mouth,” she shot back at him. He remained where he was, not about to give in that easily.
“Somehow I don’t think your father would approve your being friends with a mudblood,” muttered Severus under his breath; Katherine glared at him.
“She’s not my friend, she’s just not that bad,” she snapped, sitting back in her seat with her arms crossed.
“Which means you like her,” Evan cut in. His dark eyes narrowed as he glowered menacingly at Katherine. She glared right back at him, blue eyes dark with fury.
“She’s a nice person,” said Katherine, through gritted teeth. “Nearly everyone likes her. It’s not a big deal.”
“And what would your father say if he knew?” demanded Evan, face an ugly shade of puce. His stature was growing more and more like that of an angered cat; hackles raised and figurative claws outstretched. Robert, ever watchful, looked on with interest, a slight smile below his blond hair.
“Nothing, because he’s not going to find out,” said Katherine, and there was a dangerous edge to her voice now as she sat forward slightly in her seat, intruding on his personal space. Evan held her gaze for a moment, then sank back into his seat, shooting a disgusted look her way which she pointedly ignored.
The compartment was silent for a few minutes as everyone carefully avoided each other’s gazes and the creaking of the train and background noise from the other compartments filled the air. Evan was still fuming - you could practically see the smoke coming out of his ears, Severus was looking sullenly out the window as the train rounded a bend, throwing a particularly stunning view of the countryside into his line of sight. Fiona was pointedly studying her nails, not knowing what else to do in the suddenly tense atmosphere, and Regulus was once more involved with Juliet, much to everyone’s unuttered repulsion. In the corner, Robert stared into space, looking bored, and on the opposite side of the compartment Katherine read the Daily Prophet, her forehead creased in a frown as she read one of the articles.
The silence was threatening to remain for the rest of the journey but, about ten minutes before they arrived at Hogwarts, a fifth year Ravenclaw came in to get Regulus and Juliet for Prefect duty. The atmosphere thawed a little when they left and when Robert made some off-hand remark about how beautiful the moon was, Katherine couldn’t help laughing as she saw Severus’ expression. Evan told Robert to stop being so soft and then everyone laughed at the look of shock on his face when Fiona added that it was quite romantic, actually.
By the time the train stopped, everyone was almost back to themselves. The five of them tumbled out of the carriage, laughing as they saw the first years’ terrified looks at Hagrid and grinning as they recognised old friends – and enemies. Hogwarts, despite the upcoming hard work and exams, was looked forward to with much anticipation by everyone.
Severus looked over the heads of the crowd of students flooding towards the horseless carriages and glimpsed Potter hurrying to keep up with Evans, whom he seemed to have annoyed already judging by the no-nonsense expression on her face. His face darkened as he saw Sirius, Remus and Peter disembarking, joking about something. He met Black’s eyes and held them; then he felt a tug on his robe and heard Katherine whisper: “It’s not worth it. First night back, remember; call a truce?” Severus nodded reluctantly and followed her to the carriages.
Katherine wove her way through the multitude of students towards the carriages, pulled by Thestrals. Two years ago, their uncanny features might have frightened her, or at the very least intimidated her, but not now. She had seen much worse and they really were quite beautiful when you took the time to look at them closely. She saw Remus regarding the creatures with a look of distrust as one turned its proud black head towards him.
“They don’t bite,” she murmured as she walked past, not wanting Severus to hear the remark. They’d already gotten off to a bad start because of her supposed ‘fraternizing with the enemy’.
“I do,” he muttered back, only half joking. She was about to tell him that he should stop trying to carry the world on his shoulders but Severus had caught up with her, and Remus disappeared into a carriage.
“Oi! You! Over here!” yelled a familiar voice, distracting her from her old friend.
Katherine looked ahead to see Nicola Meliflua and Cassandra Rookwood leaning precariously out of the window of one of the front carriages. Nicki’s long brown hair was blowing wildly in the wind and Cassie’s usually neat blonde hair was whipping around her face in the swift breeze. Together they looked like two feral goddesses of the weather overseeing their subjects, and Katherine couldn’t hold back the smile forming as she approached them.
“See you later, Katherine,” said Severus quietly, as he stepped up into the next carriage where Damon Nott, Evan and Robert were waiting for him.
“See you later,” Katherine smiled, and hurried over to her madly waving friends. “Hi. Good summer?” she asked them, as they opened the door to let her in.
“Great,” grinned Nicki; her chocolate brown skin looked darker than ever and Cassie had an even more obvious golden tan.
“Why weren’t you on the train?” Katherine inquired, voicing one of her real worries. The door swung open again; the latch hadn’t caught when Cassie had pulled it shut the first time and the wind was whistling as it sought entrance to the carriage.
“We missed it, so Mother had the car drop us off,” explained Nicki, pulling the door shut again as the carriages lurched off. “Sorry about that. I bet the train ride was terribly boring without us. We only just got back from Spain last night and we over slept.”
“Sunny Spain! How I shall miss it,” said Cassie reminiscently, flopping back in her seat dramatically.
“Gorgeous, hot Spanish guys, how I shall miss you,” added Nicki, hand on heart.
“As dramatic as ever I see,” noted Katherine happily; it was good to be back with her friends - her real friends with whom she could almost be herself.
“You think I’m joking? Kat, you didn’t see them! But don’t worry, we took plenty of pictures,” winked Nicki, a contented smile on her face.
“And addresses,” added Cassie, green eyes sparkling delightedly.
“You’re writing to them?” asked Katherine sceptically; her friends were great mates but their organisational skills left a lot to be desired, to put it mildly. Katherine considered herself very lucky if they even remembered to send her one owl all summer and she was one of their best friends. The poor Spanish boys would be left waiting all year for a single owl.
“They’re writing to us,” corrected Nicki, “All-” she paused, thinking. “How many were there, Cass?”
“Twenty six,” Cassie instantly supplied, looking dreamy at the mere thought.
Katherine leant back in her seat as the carriage began to move out of Hogsmeade and up to the huge castle. The wind picked up as they moved, but the carriage off most of the noise and they only heard the faint howling against the thick fabric top.
“Twenty six gorgeous, hot, Spanish guys,” repeated Katherine absentmindedly. “And yet I’d still rather be here in school. There’s something wrong with that.”
“You’d still rather be in school because that’s where your boyfriend is,” said Nicki yawning. Katherine was on the verge of agreeing with her when she actually took in what Nicki had said.
“What boyfriend?” she asked suddenly.
“No need to look so panicked, Kat, she’s only joking,” said Cassie sleepily, closing her eyes.
“I’m not,” replied Nicki indignantly.
“I haven’t got a boyfriend, unless you count Severus, and I’m not going out with him,” said Katherine slowly; they obviously hadn’t got that much sleep the night before.
“That’s my point-”
“That I should go out with-?”
“Oi, let me finish. My point is that you should have a boyfriend. So I’m going to get you one.”
Katherine shook her head and smiled at Nicki. “What if I don’t want a boyfriend?” she asked, a challenging look in her eyes.
“Why would anyone not want a boyfriend?” responded Nicki, looking genuinely puzzled.
“You’re serious, aren’t you? You honestly can’t see why someone would not want a boyfriend?” asked Katherine, grinning slightly.
“Can you?” challenged Nicki, folding her arms defiantly.
“Over protective parents-” Katherine began, ticking the list off on her hands.
“Doesn’t stop them wanting one,” chipped in Cassie. Katherine gave her a look that said quite plainly ‘you’re-not-helping-so-shut-up’ but Cassie only laughed; they had been friends long enough to know whether or not the other was joking.
“They might be waiting for someone special-” continued Katherine, deciding to ignore her friend’s comment.
“Like that’s gonna happen,” muttered Nicki darkly, shaking her head.
“It might. Let’s see, what else.” Katherine stopped to think as the carriages passed through the gates of the school and made their creaking way up the steep slope to Hogwarts castle.
“Run out of ideas?” Cassie asked, dragging a brush through her hair as the coaches ground to a halt.
“No - they might not want a boyfriend because...either they’re a boy and they want a girlfriend or they’re a girl-” she paused, wondering how to finish the sentence. “And they want a girlfriend?”
Nicki and Cassie laughed at her weak argument as they climbed out of the carriage and looked around. There was still a crowd around the main door, and it would be a few minutes before they would get into the warmth of the building and the Great Hall.
“It’s freezing out here,” shivered Cassie, wrapping her cloak around her for warmth. Nicki made a murmur of agreement but Katherine was looking out over the grounds and didn’t reply. She loved this place; the way the moonlight glinted on the surface on the lake, the silent whispers of the Forbidden Forest and feeling of peacefulness. It was enchanting, better than any man-made magic.
“Hey dreamer,” Nicki called as she walked ahead. The line had moved and she was hurrying toward the door. “Come on, before we freeze to death.” Katherine smiled faintly – it didn’t feel that cold to her, but then she’d been in England for the past two months, not lazing about in the warmth of a Spanish sun; out of the corner of her eye she saw Lily at the front doors of the school, talking to James.
“How long do you give them before they end up kissing?” asked a soft voice from behind her.
“About a week, maybe two,” she answered lightly. Turning around she saw Remus wasn’t shivering either.
“I suppose you’d better go in before your friends freeze,” he said quietly. Katherine heard the humour in his voice but there was an air of sadness in his eyes.
“Cheer up Remus. It’s school, and we love school don’t we,” she said, with just enough sincerity to make Remus wonder whether she was really being sarcastic or not.
He watched her leave sombrely, trying to figure out what was different about her this year. He would have gone on thinking about this but Sirius jumped on top of him at that moment, nearly making him fall over.
“What the hell are you doing?” asked Remus, laughing as he caught Sirius on his back.
“Padfoot wants a piggy back,” he whined in Remus’ ear, sporting the puppy-dog face that he had mastered through years of practice.
“You’re insane,” replied Remus and ran up to the castle with Sirius holding on for dear life.
“Look Lily, I’m sorry for being so immature in our previous years at this school and I’m sorry if I offended you in any way,” said James solemnly and out of the blue. It was the first time in a while that Lily had given him the time of day and this time he was going to make it count. After all, Sirius and the others weren’t here to screw it up this time.
Lily raised her eyebrows, this did not sound like James at all, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that he was probably just working his way up to some punch line. James and serious didn’t belong in the same sentence, unless one was talking about Sirius Black.
“I’ve matured a lot,” James continued. “And so has Sirius-”
As he said this, Remus ran past with Sirius on his back; Sirius was calling Remus things that even James hadn’t heard before and they were getting some rather odd looks from the surrounding students.
“Well,” amended James, shaking his head despairingly and cringing. “I’ve matured a lot.”
Over on the other side of the entrance hall, Remus had put Sirius down and he was collapsed on the floor either laughing or crying, James couldn’t tell which. James smiling a little himself as Lily looked at Remus and Sirius, an assessing look on her face.
“Look, James.” She said as she turned back to him, and he hurriedly resumed an expression of polite interest. “I don’t know about you, but I just want to be able to work without you mucking around and flirting with every girl you see. Can you do that?” asked Lily, running a hand through thick red hair.
“I- Yes, I can do that, but Lily- I can call you Lily, can’t I?”
“I suppose, though I must say my consent hasn’t stopped you before…” She told him; in truth, years of being addressed as ‘Evans’ was getting on her nerves.
“Right, look, I don’t flirt with everyone, it’s Sirius who does that, and, well, I’d like us to be friends?” he ended questioningly. He gave her a half-hearted smile, masking the desperate plea he really felt.
Lily smiled. “Ok, I guess I’ll see you around then, shall I?”
“Great,” replied James, trying not to smile so hard that his face split. When Lily’s flaming red hair had disappeared into the Great Hall, James turned to find Sirius and Remus grinned annoyingly at him.
“What?” he asked sheepishly, still smiling.
“Nothing,” they replied innocently, in perfect unison, smiles widening.
“What did I miss?” asked Peter, hurrying up behind them, beads of sweat on his brow; Remus was a fast runner, even with Sirius weighing him down, and Peter had never been the athletic type.
“Nothing,” said James, Sirius and Remus together; Peter looked at them uncertainly, feeling slightly out of the loop. The three of them smiled down at his short frame, James wearing the remnants of his smile from before and Remus and Sirius still grinning at their secret joke. They let an awkward silence build, causing Wormtail to squirm before Sirius waved a hand.
“Oh come on, guys, I’m starving,” Sirius said, winking at Wormtail good naturedly, and they turned and filed into the Great Hall with the rest of the school.
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Re: Fire Burns
Chapter 3 – Poker face
Katherine, Nicki, Cassie and Juliet were sitting in the common room finishing last minute essays. As Katherine flicked through her Ancient Runes textbook, trying to find the quote she knew was in there somewhere, she listened with half an ear to the story Juliet was telling about her something she’d done over the summer. It wasn’t of particular interest to her, but she listened just enough to nod in all the right places and react appropriately, and Juliet didn’t seem to notice.
At last Katherine found the quote and copied it onto her roll of parchment, casting a glance over at Nicola, who was scratching her chin with her quill, lost in thought. Apparently the gorgeous, hot Spanish boys had taken up far too much of her friends’ time for them to be bothered about doing a trivial thing like school work, for which she was glad – it made them less inclined to ask her why she’d failed to complete any essays.
“I think I’ll go to bed, it’s getting late,” murmured Juliet at last, gazing absently at the fire. “Goodnight.”
“I don’t think she’s quite all there, that one,” said Cassie, sitting up from lounging on the couch and looking at the closed door Juliet had just disappeared behind. She dipped her quill into the ink pot on the floor and scribbled a bit more at the bottom of her paper.
“Yeah well, that’s how Regulus likes them, isn’t it?” shrugged Katherine, staring pensively at her essay. She’d only managed one scroll and knowing her luck, it’d be due in tomorrow. Next to her, Nicki wrote the last line of her Transfiguration essay and threw down her quill with a flourish.
“Finished!” she exclaimed, collapsing in front of the fire dramatically. Cassie laughed and rolled up her own Potions essay carefully, also finished.
“How about you, Kat?”
“Done as much as I’m going to tonight, I suppose,” sighed Katherine, rubbing her eyes tiredly. It had been a long day and she was having trouble concentrating on anything but the soft mattress of the four poster bed she knew was waiting for her in the girls’ dormitory.
A distant thudding of feet coming from the corridor which led to boys’ dormitories hailed the arrival of the other seventh years and a moment later Robert Avery, Damon Nott and Evan Rosier appeared, looking slightly breathless. Even at such a late time at night, the boys seemed to be full of some energy, though Katherine wasn’t sure why.
“Been racing each other, have you? How very childish,” commented Cassie haughtily, but she was grinning all the same. Robert made a face and threw himself down into the nearest chair as Severus entered the common room at a walk; evidently he had declined to join in the game.
“So, how are you lovely ladies, may I ask?” questioned Robert, leaning over the arm of his chair and looking at Cassie. “I didn’t get a chance to talk to you at dinner. Had a good summer in- where was it again? Spain?”
“Yes, a fantastic summer thanks, filled with gorgeous, hot Spanish boys!” pronounced Nicki, propping herself up on one elbow from her place on the floor. She hadn’t stood up from when she had thrown herself on the floor, finding the warmth of the fire oddly comforting.
Something about Katherine miming the last few words from behind her friend’s back, told Robert that they had obviously caught up on this particular fact already; he smirked as Katherine grinned up at him from beneath her dark black hair, that was falling into her eyes.
“So,” said Evan evenly, steering the subject abruptly away from Nicki’s holiday romances. “Who’s up for a game of poker?”
“At this time of night?” asked Nicki, arching finely plucked eyebrows.
“Best time,” winked Robert, settling back in his chair and producing a battered pack of cards from his shirt pocket. “No danger of teachers bursting in and no goody-two-shoes youngsters running to tell on us.”
“This coming from the boy who’s been House Prefect three years running?” questioned Cassie, narrowly stifling a yawn. Robert shrugged, deftly shuffling the cards with quick hands.
“How people are and how they appear to be are two very different things, mon petit chou. You should know that by now,” he added, throwing a significant look at Katherine, who gazed back mildly.
“Did you just call her a cabbage?” asked Damon, tossing another log onto the fire and giving Robert an odd look.
“It’s a term of endearment,” said Robert lightly, placing the cards on the table, and sitting back. “Means something like ‘sweetheart’.”
“It means ‘my little cabbage’,” said Katherine, suppressing a grin as Cassie eyed Robert with a slightly bemused expression on her face, as though she didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted.
“I didn’t know you spoke French,” said Evan gruffly, looking at Katherine in surprise.
“What? You think only spoilt rich boys with tutors can speak another language?” asked Katherine with a mocking grin. “Or just didn’t think the mudblood could?”
From his position behind Katherine’s chair, Severus winced and caught Robert’s eye. The blond boy shrugged, his expression clear: if Katherine wanted to pick a fight, he wasn’t about to stop her. Severus looked heavenwards despairingly as Evan leaned forward in his seat.
“I merely wasn’t aware that you spoke it, although I must say knowing a couple of words hardly constitutes fluency,” he said quietly, with a bland smile. Katherine leaned forward too, so that they were facing each other across the table and smiled sweetly.
“Pourquoi ne pas vous fermer la bouche, connard, ou voulez-vous me la fermer pour vous?” she asked softly, eyes wide with feigned innocence.
“So,” said Severus loudly, walking around Katherine’s chair and placing a hand on her shoulder. “Who’s in?”
“What?” asked Cassie, tearing her worried gaze away from Katherine, who had relaxed a little, though she was still giving Evan a dirty look.
“Poker,” Severus explained, gesturing to the cards that lay untouched on the table.
“Not tonight, I don’t think,” said Nicki carefully, exchanging a look with Cassie. “Probably time for us to turn in.”
“Yeah. Gotta be up bright and early for the first day back, right?” agreed Cassie with forced cheerfulness. “Coming, Katherine?”
Katherine didn’t move for a moment, then sank back into her chair and gazed up at the ceiling. “Sure, why not?”
“’Night, then,” said Severus quietly, and she glanced over at him, a small smile on her lips.
“’Night, Sev.” She pushed herself out of the chair as Nicki and Cassie also struggled to their feet, and paused just before she headed towards the girls’ dormitories, leaning her head towards him conspiratorially. “By the way, Robert fiddles with his ring when he’s bluffing.”
Severus frowned a little, and she winked at him before following her friends.
“Make sure you’re all down here by eight, then we can go to breakfast together,” Evan called after them, as they disappeared. “That’s eight o’clock, girls.”
Robert dipped his head so that Evan wouldn’t see his smirk and reached for the pack of cards. “You guys playing?”
Severus glanced over at him, about to decline, but then the glimmer of gold on Robert’s right hand caught his attention and he stopped. He’d never been that good at card games, but if Katherine’s tip was good…well, he could do with some extra cash.
Robert’s hand hovered over the deck, looking expectantly up at him. “Sev?”
Severus hesitated a second longer, then nodded and took Katherine’s vacated seat. “Deal me in.”
Almost as soon as they’d stepped into the room, Cassie keeled over onto her bed without undressing and shut her eyes. Nicki chuckled softly and stumbled towards the end bed before bending over her trunk, searching for her pyjamas. Katherine walked over to her four poster on the other side of the room and sat down in the middle of it. The hangings were already drawn around the bed opposite Cassie’s and she could hear faint snores emitting from it; Fiona must have come straight up after the feast, not having had much to distract her from homework duties over the summer.
As Nicki jumped onto her bed and drew the hangings around her, Katherine couldn’t help smiling a little when she saw Cassie hadn’t moved an inch. She got off her bed and went to wake her friend up; she’d be awful tomorrow if she didn’t get a proper nights sleep. Reluctantly Cassie changed into the clothes Katherine threw at her and snuggled into her covers cosily. Nicki poked her head out from her hangings.
“You ok, Kat?”
“Fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” answered Katherine, digging through her own trunk to find some nightclothes.
“No reason,” said Nicki, just a little too quickly. “You just seemed a bit…off.” Katherine sighed, closing her trunk with a soft click and turning to face her.
“Evan just rubs me up the wrong way, that’s all,” she said with a small shrug.
“Well if you’re sure that’s all it is…” said Nicki quietly, not sounding entirely convinced.
“That’s all it is,” affirmed Katherine, rolling her eyes. “Night, Nic.”
“Night Kat,” said Nicki, withdrawing her head from the curtains surrounding her bed; Katherine pulled her own drapes closed and climbed in-between the soft sheets. She rolled over into her pillow and buried her head in it, screwing her eyes tight shut and taking a few deep breaths, thinking about the past day.
Just fourteen hours had passed since the train had pulled out of Kings Cross, and she’d already annoyed Remus’ friends, failed to complete even one essay and nearly come to blows with Evan Rosier (twice); what a brilliant start to the term. She turned onto her back and stared blankly up at the darkness above her; with any luck, things could only get better.
James stared out of the window of his dormitory, thinking. Lily had been almost friendly towards him earlier; he hoped that would continue - he couldn’t bear the thought of not talking to her for another year. That would be a fate worse than death. He was still brooding on the subject when Remus stuck his head round the door ten minutes later.
“There you are,” Remus exclaimed, leaning against the door jamb. “We didn’t know where you’d gone.”
“Sorry Moony, I must have lost track of time.” James told the other boy, a faint smile playing on his lips
Remus smiled at him knowingly. “Thinking about anyone in particular?”
“Huh?” He asked absently, then Remus’ words registered and he scowled at him. “Oh shut up.”
There was the sound of footsteps coming up the staircase and Remus turned to see who it was, then he opened the door wider to let Sirius, Peter and Frank Longbottom, the fifth boy in their year, into the dormitory.
“Does anyone else feel like we’ve been here for days already?” asked Sirius, stifling a yawn and stretching luxuriantly.
“Not particularly,” frowned Remus, sitting down on the end of his bed. “Why?”
“Because we’re all totally exhausted and I’m dreading tomorrow.”
“As you always do,” filled in Remus, as his friend launched himself onto a scarlet four poster by the door and drew the hangings. “What homework haven’t you done this time?”
“I’ve done my homework thank you very much!” came Sirius’ indignant voice from behind the velvet curtains. “It’s just I saw McGonagall earlier and she said we’ve got double Potions first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Oh.” Remus intoned, as James scowled.
“Precisely. Why do teachers always do that? When they sit down to figure out the timetables, why give us double potions on a Monday morning?”
“Well we did choose to take the subject, Pads. I think some of the blame has to be laid at our own feet,” Remus said with a small smile, flopping back into the feather comforter of his warm Hogwarts bed.
“Stop being reasonable, Moony,” muttered Sirius. He resurfaced from behind his hangings, now clad only in his boxers. “Still, seeing Snivellus again should be fun.”
“I bet he’s thinking exactly the same thing,” said Remus, suddenly sleepily, eyes drooping closed as he sat up in his bed, and propped himself up against the wall. This didn’t help, as his eyelids continued to lose their battle with sleep regardless.
“I think we’re keeping Remus awake,” grinned Frank, digging a crumpled pair of pyjamas out of his trunk and pulling them on. When there was no response from Remus, James threw his pillow at him.
“Oi, sleepy head!”
Still no answer.
“Are you ignoring us?” asked James, in a mock hurt voice. “Pads, I think he’s ignoring us.”
“It’s impossible to ignore you, Prongs. Lily’s been trying for years,” muttered Remus, opening one eye and grinning at James’ glare as the other three boys laughed.
“That’s low, Moony,” chided Sirius, but he was grinning all the same.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it,” laughed Remus, throwing James’ pillow back to him and rolling over, burying his head in his own soft pillow. “’Night guys.”
There were sleepy murmured responses as everyone clambered into their beds, forgetting to extinguished the lights. The boys had snuggled down into their beds and punched their pillows into a more comfortable shape before any of them had realized their mistake. There was a moment’s pause before James sighed and said: “I suppose it’s up to me then, is it?”
No one answered so he reached across to his bedside cabinet and fumbled around for his wand, knocking a few scrolls of parchment and his glasses to the floor before his fingers finally closed around the smooth stick of wood. “Nox.” The candles flicked out, leaving the room in darkness.
Through the window the stars glittered in the night sky and he could see the blurred constellations twinkling gently against the blackness. Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Ursa Minor...
Five minutes later, everyone was fast asleep.
“They’re late,” said Nicki, with an air of mock indignation.
Katherine looked at her watch, it was eight o’clock - or to be more precise, it was ten seconds past eight. Eleven seconds, twelve seconds...
Cassie mumbled something incoherently from where she was hunched up in an armchair, eyes drooping. The other two had practically had to drag her out of bed and carry her downstairs to get to the common room on time; Evan didn’t like people being late - he considered it a personal insult. Fiona Parkinson, sitting on the arm of a chair a few feet away, just gazed vacantly out of the window and said nothing.
Katherine fought to stop herself smiling as she watched Nicki’s darkening expression and looked instead towards the door to the boys’ dormitories which was still devoid of any approaching footsteps.
“That does it, I’m going up to get them,” Nicki said decidedly and marched off.
Katherine half thought about stopping her friend but, as she heard the echoes of shouting come filtering into the room from along the winding corridor beyond the door, she resolved that perhaps it was better not to get in the way.
Three minutes later they were all on their way to the Great Hall, discussing their horrendous timetable.
“I don’t see why we can’t still have lessons in House groups,” moaned Fiona, linking arms with Evan as they strode in front of the small group. “There’s loads of Gryffindors taking Potions – why can’t they have their own class?”
“Probably trying to get us to make friends,” sighed Katherine, adjusting the satchel on her shoulder. “The founders had a lot in common - weren’t Salazar and Godric supposed to be best friends at one point?”
“You think I listened in History of Magic?” Fiona asked, somewhat dubiously.
“No, but I thought you knew a bit the origins of the school,” replied Katherine, stifling a yawn. She wasn’t a morning person though she was coping better than Cassie, who kept bumping into things as they turned corners, her eyes still half shut.
“Doesn’t matter now anyway,” said Severus. “We’re not taking History of Magic anymore.”
“Thank heavens for small mercies,” said Robert, holding out an arm to steady Cassie as she stumbled over her own feet.
“Yeah, now we’ve just got Potter and his cronies to put up with,” muttered Severus, looking sullen.
“Oh I think we can handle them,” said Katherine, grinning wickedly at him. “‘Specially since Nic’s got some inside info, now.”
“What inside info?” asked Damon, casting a confused look at Nicola who smiled knowingly.
“Oh this and that,” she shrugged airily, shaking her dark head of hair.
“And how did you acquire this information?” asked Severus, one eyebrow slightly raised in query.
“She dated Black last year,” replied Cassie, glancing back at him. “Don’t you remember? Then they broke up ‘cause she-”
“Started flirting with Simon Ashdown,” cut in Katherine, stepping on Cassie’s foot. Cassie frowned for a second, confused, then appeared to realise something and nodded vigorously.
“Yeah, that was it.”
“You sure?” asked Robert, eyeing the girls’ overly innocent expressions with some amusement.
“’Course we’re sure,” said Katherine smoothly. “I distinctly remember that that was the sole reason for their break up.”
Next to her, Cassie sn!ggered, casting some doubt on the veracity of this statement, but the others knew better than to probe further; there were some things you just didn’t want to know.
NB: “Pourquoi ne pas vous fermer la bouche, connard, ou voulez-vous me la fermer pour vous?” means “Why don’t you shut your mouth, idiot, or would you like me to shut it for you?”
Last edited by Purple Banana; November 19th, 2009 at 4:48 am.
Re: Fire Burns
Chapter 4 - Double Potions
Lily Evans ate her breakfast slowly, only half listening to the excited chatter of the girls around her. James Potter was sitting a little way down the table with the rest of his gang, and for some reason she found herself glancing his way repeatedly. Beside Lily, her best friend, Mary McDonald, let out a soft giggle, which was hastily stifled as Lily whipped round to face her, glaring. Mary managed to look apologetic for a full five seconds before dissolving into laughter again, attracting the attention of the Marauders, who looked over curiously.
“Come on, we’ve got double Potions first, we’d better get going,” said Lily quickly, tilting her head so that her flaming red hair covered the brilliant scarlet blush rising in her cheeks.
“It’s only a few corridors away,” objected Mary, determinedly taking another bite of her toast, to prove that she wasn’t going anywhere until she actually had to.
“So? Anyway, I need to get my Defence against the Dark Arts book for later and I’ve left it in our dormitory.”
Mary raised her eyebrows but knew better than to argue; Lily was the most organised person she knew, so she found it very hard to believe that she’d forgotten one of her books. As well as being uncannily organised all the time, her friend could also be exceptionally stubborn; she had, for example, been denying that she fancied Potter ever since their first year at Hogwarts. Sighing heavily, she grabbed her slice of toast and her bag, muttering disconsolately under her breath, and followed Lily out of the Great Hall, straight into the group of seventh year Slytherins coming the other way.
“Well isn’t this a nice surprise?” came the cold, scornful voice of Evan Rosier, a burly, brown haired boy with a reputation for Death Eater aspirations. “Our charming new Head Girl.”
In front of Mary, Lily had frozen, staring at the Slytherin boy, and Mary hurriedly took her place beside her friend, presenting somewhat more of a united front. Evan Rosier stood in the middle of the corridor, blocking their way, with a group of more Slytherins standing directly behind him.
Someone was laughing from the back of the small crowd and someone else called: “Oi Mister ‘Come On We’re Already Late’, what’s the hold up?”
Evan didn’t reply, he simply stared at Lily, eyes narrowed; she looked back steadily, wishing he would move as she didn’t want cause a scene before lessons even started.
Someone stuck their head over Evan’s broad shoulder and looked at Lily too. Bright green eyes met vivid blue ones, and the latter grinned. “Oh, hi Lily.”
Lily watched in amusement as Evan’s face turned purple and he whipped round to look at Katherine, who immediately side stepped round him, grinned at Lily and Mary and ran past them into the Great Hall.
“Hey-” Evan began, but two girls Lily thought she recognised as Cassandra Rookwood and Nicola Meliflua pushed past him at that moment, hot on the heels of their friend. Evan was left spinning round on the spot, trying to figure out what was going on. A blond boy that Lily remembered as Robert Avery put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.
“Evan, don’t do that. You look like an idiot,” he said calmly, flicking his highlighted blond hair out of his eyes casually. Evan looked extremely put out as he marched off after the girls, Fiona hurrying after him haughtily, casting a contemptuous look at the Gryffindors as she did so. That left only Snape and Avery in the corridor with them; Lily looked uncertainly at Avery, but he only glanced at her with haughty brown eyes and then walked past into the Great Hall, Snape following silently.
“Way to start the day,” murmured Mary as they walked quickly along the first floor corridor, past portraits of bored looking witches and wizards and the occasional muttering statue. Lily didn’t say anything; she was thinking about the look Rosier had given her – it had been one of utter loathing, yet she’d never done anything to him. What was it about pure-blood wizards and witches that made them think they were better than everyone else?
Lily was still pondering this concept half an hour later as she entered her Potions classroom and heard her name being called.
She turned round curiously and raised her eyebrows, momentarily startled, then she smiled. “Come on Mary, it looks like someone saved us seats.”
Her friend followed her gaze, and then her eyebrows shot up, almost disappearing into her hairline in disbelief. “You have got to be joking.”
Lily appeared to consider this for moment, then smiled brightly. “No,” she replied and walked over to the desk.
Katherine smiled to herself as she walked into the Great Hall, making her way to the far end of the Slytherin table where there was quite a large space - their space in fact. They were seventh years now and that fact earned them a great deal of respect – that, and the fact that none of them would think twice about cursing anyone who got in their way.
Katherine sat down next to some timid looking first years and reached for the nearest jug of orange juice. Just then the Great Hall’s door swung open again and a burst of hysterical giggles announced the arrival of her friends. Katherine grinned wickedly up at them as they approached.
“You should have seen the look on his face,” laughed Nicki, as she flung herself down opposite Katherine.
“I can guess.”
“I don’t think he’s very happy,” smiled Cassie, helping herself to sausages and eggs as she took her seat.
“He’s never happy. He needs to stop taking things so seriously,” Katherine said lightly, grabbing a couple of slices of toast and buttering them.
She knew better than to ask if Lily and Mary were ok; her two best friends were great, but they were only just getting used to the idea of her being friends with Remus, and if she started inquiring after other Gryffindors they were going to start thinking that she was mental. Not that they didn’t already, of course.
However, as Evan and Fiona stormed in a few moments later, when she was half way through a plate of bacon and eggs, with Robert and Severus following soon after, she needn’t have worried. Despite part of the group’s somewhat late arrival, they all finished their breakfast with ten minutes to spare before their first lesson.
“We don’t have to go right now, do we?” asked Fiona, lazily casting a disapproving look over her new timetable. Hogwarts would have been the perfect place to spend the year, if it weren’t for the lessons.
“We do if we want good seats,” said Evan calmly, getting to his feet; Fiona sighed and stood up too. Katherine stood, slung her bag over her shoulder and waited patiently with Cassie for Nicki to catch up with them.
“Remind me again why I took Potions,” sighed Nicki, rummaging in her bag for her favourite red lipstick as they walked.
“You liked Gareth O’Brian and thought you could persuade him to tutor you,” said Cassie, pushing a lock of blonde hair behind her ear.
“Oh yeah,” said Nicki, pausing in the middle of touching up her make up and smiling wistfully. “Too bad he left last year – now I have all the boredom of Potions and none of the extra curricular fun. ”
“Given your reputation, I very much doubt you’ll have any trouble finding some other poor guy to abuse,” said a male voice behind them.
“Aw, still bitter I moved on, Black?” asked Nicki with mock sympathy, not even bothered to turn and face her erstwhile lover.
“You think I’d want to be with you after what you did?” asked Sirius Black, scowling at her back.
“And what was that exactly?” asked Nicki airily, glancing innocently over her shoulder at him. Next to her, Katherine and Cassie exchanged knowing grins, and concentrated on not laughing.
“You know very well,” said Sirius, brown eyes narrowed in dislike.
“I’m sorry, I’ve got absolutely no idea what you’re referring to,” retorted Nicki, drawing to a stop as they reached the dungeon classroom where Potions was held.
“So Zonko’s Special Delayed Action Itching Powder and the entire contents of my wardrobe brings back no hint of a memory at all, then?” asked Sirius, cocking his head to one side and fixing Nicki with an angry glare. He’d stopped, reaching the door seconds after they did, and Katherine was puzzled to see that, for once, his three other cronies weren’t attached to his hip, hanging on his every word.
“Sorry,” shrugged Nicki, shaking her head. “Nothing’s coming to mind.”
“I really think she’d remember something like that,” said Katherine gravely, and Cassie nodded fervently in agreement.
“Maybe it was one of your friends. They like pranks, don’t they?” Cassie added, clear green eyes open wide in a good imitation of sincerity. “I seem to recall Potter displaying Severus’ underwear to the entire school once; maybe they thought you should do the same.”
“We didn’t take off his pants,” growled Sirius, eyes narrowed dangerously.
“It was only a matter of time,” said Katherine quietly, meeting his gaze calmly. “If McGonagall hadn’t turned up, I’m sure Potter wouldn’t have hesitated in doing so. Besides, you managed to get out of the Great Hall before you stripped completely, to the great disappointment of the girls you haven’t managed to hook up with yet, I’m sure.”
“So that was your idea of payback, was it? Snivellus doesn’t have the guts to stand up for himself, so he gets a bunch of girls to do his dirty work for him?” asked Sirius, glowering now.
“Don’t be stupid,” said Nicki, examining her reflection in a hand held mirror. “Why would we care about your ridiculous feud with Severus?” Apparently satisfied, she snapped the compact closed and looked up at him with a pitying smile. “We just did it for fun.”
Sirius opened his mouth to respond to this, but at that moment the classroom door was pulled open and their new potions teacher, Professor Delphinus, appeared, ushering them inside. He muttered something about getting into groups of five when they arrived in the classroom, and then wandered off to add another instruction to the long list on the blackboard.
Sirius cast one last glare at the girls then moved to the back of the classroom to reserve the table the Gryffindors customarily occupied. Katherine and Cassie grinned at Nicki, who laughed and led the way to a table on the opposite side of the room from Sirius. Evan and Fiona were already seated at the table next to theirs with Damon, and when Robert and Severus entered the classroom a few moments later, Evan gestured for them to join him with an imperious wave of his hand.
“We’re two members short,” pointed out Nicki, tapping her fingers irritably on the desk and eyeing Evan’s table in annoyance.
“You want to ask Fiona to join us?” asked Katherine, nodding towards their room mate, who was examining her freshly manicured nails and listening to something Evan was saying.
“God no,” said Nicki quickly, giving a mock shudder. “Besides, she’s already sitting next to Sir High and Mighty.”
“And to think you two used to be such good friends,” smiled Cassie sweetly, pulling out her text book and opening it to the page noted on the chalkboard.
“Not out of choice,” said Nicki, scowling. “We were thrown together at family parties. Do you know how dull those things are? I had to have someone to talk to.”
“And now you flirt horrendously with any available males instead?” asked Katherine, earning herself a glare from her friend.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Kat,” chided Cassie, perusing the potion ingredients with a critical eye. “They don’t have to be available, they just have to be hot.”
“You know, maybe we should ask Fiona to join us,” said Nicki with a bright smile, which stopped her friends’ sn!ggers abruptly.
“No way,” said Katherine darkly.
“No, really,” said Nicki, warming to her theme. “We don’t involve her enough-”
“Nic, the girl’s a walking blonde joke!” hissed Cassie, her own blonde hair falling over her shoulder as she leant across the table. “I happen to want a good mark in this class and Fiona will drag us kicking and screaming into the deep dark abyss of failure. Not all of us have family fortunes to fall back on.”
“I’d take a father who didn’t sod off and leave when you were a baby, any day,” retorted Nicki, sitting back a little in her seat with a sour expression. “Money isn’t everything.”
“Easy to say when you’ve got it,” shrugged Cassie. “Besides, fathers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.”
“Maybe not,” sighed Nicki, leaning her elbows on the desk. “What’s your father like, Kat? Kat, you ok?”
Cassie followed Nicki’s concerned gaze, argument forgotten as she noticed the blank expression on her face. “Katherine?”
“What?” Katherine asked, looking up suddenly and shaking her head. “Sorry, I was just-”
“Are you ok?” interjected Nicki. “You looked kinda-”
“I’m fine,” said Katherine sharply, turning away and scanning the room. Nicki and Cassie exchanged unconvinced glances but were promptly distracted by Katherine’s next words. “Hey, Lily.”
Nicki whipped round and saw Lily Evans and her friend change direction and start walking towards them.
“You have got to be crazy,” she hissed, but Katherine only smiled oddly at her.
Cassie raised her eyebrows, but shrugged when Nicki turned to her for support. “Well we do need more people.”
“Hi,” said Lily softly, reaching their table.
“Want to join our team? We need to be in groups of five,” explained Katherine, as Cassie grinned at Nicola’s dubious expression. Lily glanced at Mary who was still in apparent shock that her friend was voluntarily accepting an offer from a Slytherin.
“Come on, we want to beat Rosier’s group,” put in Cassie, now smiling amiably at the red head. “They’ve got Severus, which makes it totally unfair, and everyone knows you’re brilliant at Potions - Slughorn always said so.”
“Erm-” murmured Lily, biting her lip, but the decision was made for her.
“Fine,” said Mary stoutly, sitting down and ignoring her friend’s look of surprise. “As long as we don’t get jinxed.”
“Done,” smiled Katherine, nudging Nicki, who rolled her eyes with a sigh.
“Fine, whatever.” She looked over at the new Professor who was sorting through some papers on his desk. “Hope he’s as good at Slughorn was – looks a bit like he’s going to keel over at any moment, doesn’t he? Why’d Sluggie have to go on sabbatical in our last year?”
“Said he wanted to explore the world, didn’t he?” shrugged Cassie, flicking through the glossary section of her potions book. “No time like the present.”
“You’re just mad because you won’t get to go to any more of his parties,” said Katherine dryly, rolling her eyes at Nicki, who still had a dark look on her face.
“Oh, were you in the Slug Club, too?” Lily asked the brown headed girl, in an attempt to make polite conversation.
“Nah,” grinned Cassie, casting an amused glance at her friend. “She just latched onto the boys who were.”
“I’ll have you know Professor Slughorn said I could go far,” said Nicki haughtily, folding her arms indignantly.
“Yeah, he saw the way you attached yourself to the men who actually will,” remarked Katherine, and Cassie laughed as Nicki glared at her. Mary and Lily didn’t say anything; they weren’t sure their mirth would be so easily tolerated, but further conversation was halted as Professor Delphinus stopped sorting through his papers and stood at the front of the class, calling for quiet.
Sirius sat slouched in his seat, watching the three girls unpack their things on the other side of the classroom. No doubt about it: girls were trouble.
“Something wrong?” asked a familiar voice, and Sirius looked up to see James setting his bag down on the table next to him. Sirius shook his head, still frowning.
“Just wondering why I seem to attract trouble.”
“That, Padfoot, is because you actively seek it out,” said Remus, arriving with Peter in tow, and smiling wanly. “What did you do this time?”
Sirius jerked his head towards the three Slytherin girls, just as Katherine turned round, searching the room for something. Remus held up a hand in greeting, but she looked away quickly and called out to someone by the door. Remus frowned, sitting down opposite James and eyeing Katherine with an odd expression.
“Why did I go out with her?” asked Sirius, scowling at Nicki.
“Because she’s pretty?” offered Peter, glancing over at Nicki somewhat fearfully. They hadn’t gotten along very well in the brief time she and Sirius had been an item, and he was normally uncomfortable enough around attractive girls.
“But she’s a Slytherin. I knew it was a bad idea and yet I still did it.”
“Pads, you’d stick your hand in a fire to see it was hot,” said Remus wearily, tearing his gaze away from Katherine and giving his old friend a sober look. “It’s just who you are.”
“Thanks, Moony,” said Sirius sarcastically, arching an eyebrow.
“My pleasure,” said Remus briskly, grinning at him.
“What’s she doing?”
The three boys all looked at James, who was openly gawping at someone near the front of the class. Remus and Peter, who had their backs to the front, turned round to follow his gaze and Sirius gave a low whistle.
“That’s an interesting choice of friends Ms. Evans has got,” Sirius remarked softly, glancing at James, who appeared to be in a mild state of shock.
“She’s sitting with Slytherins!” exclaimed James, more surprised than actually angry.
“Who is?” asked Frank absently, hurrying over to the table as Professor Delphinus closed the door with a flick of his wand. “Apparently we’re working in groups of five. Mind if I join you?”
“Lily,” said James, hazel eyes fixed on the red head. “Why would she sit with them? They’re evil and they hate muggleborns.”
“What he meant to say is ‘sure, have a seat’,” said Remus, giving James an appraising look. “And Katherine is not evil, Prongs.”
“Well she’s not good,” said James quickly. “Didn’t she put some poor guy in the hospital wing last year just for calling her names?”
“I seem to recall you were quite prepared to knock seven bells of out Snape when he called Lily a mudblood,” remarked Remus quietly, tilting his head slightly to one side. “You think Katherine’s evil just because she doesn’t like that name much either? Besides, Madame Pomfrey managed to put everything back in the right place, didn’t she?”
James looked uncomfortable, and just as Sirius was about to argue the point, Professor Delphinus cleared his throat, calling for silence.
If you like, leave feedback.
Last edited by Purple Banana; December 8th, 2009 at 2:30 pm.
Re: Fire Burns
Chapter 5 - Relationships
It was Friday, and in the Slytherin common room Severus Snape sat reading a letter from Lucius Malfoy, former Slytherin head prefect and only son of one of the oldest pureblooded families in the country. Lucius, he knew, had sworn allegiance to the Dark Lord three summers ago, and his old friend kept urging him to do the same, but Severus wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to join him - at least, not yet.
He heard footsteps behind him and turned his head to see Katherine appear from the door that led to the girls’ dormitories. Her long black hair was pinned back today and her arms laden with books and parchment.
“Homework?” Severus asked, carefully folding Lucius’ letter and placing it in his bag.
She nodded grimly, dropping the stack of work onto the table, and pulled the clip out of her hair so that it fell down about her shoulders, gleaming in the firelight. “Yeah, Charms and Defence against the Dark Arts. You don’t have any work to do?”
“No - apart from the Potions essay we were set Wednesday, and that won’t take long,” he answered, a slight frown on his face. It wasn’t like Katherine to have a pile of homework waiting this early in the year, and on the train she’d said she hadn’t done her Ancient Runes essay, either. Why hadn’t she done any work over the summer? He was beginning to wonder.
He shrugged off the half formed suspicion and pulled out Lucius’ letter once more, wondering if he should write a reply, and failing to notice that Katherine was still watching him out of the corner of her eye. He read it, still contemplating, and tapped the table absently in thought.
Even though she couldn’t see the handwriting, Katherine could make a guess at to its contents judging by the pensive expression gracing Severus’ face. The Dark Lord had become the subject of many unspoken conversations recently, with many people denouncing his teachings and methods in public, but praising and delighting in them within the safety of their own homes.
Many of these admirers would never dream of joining his gradually increasing ranks, however, and would be positively horrified at the mere suggestion of such a thing, but, she thought dully, there were a fair few who wouldn’t, and it was only a matter of time before the others were brought around – or disposed of.
She had been working on her charms essay as she thought and now she glanced down absently at the scribbled notes she’d made in class, not really seeing them. ‘Protean charms are useful because…’ She stopped, the quill hovering over the thick parchment dropping a bead of black ink onto a sentence about a recent court case she’d been trying to work in, and blotting out the date.
Severus watched her frowning at the parchment in front of her thoughtfully. He was sure she wasn’t stuck on her essay; she’d been able to do Protean charms since fifth year, so it must be something else.
“Want to go outside?” he asked suddenly.
Katherine looked up, startled, then shook her head slightly to clear it and smiled. “Sure. Just let me get my cloak.”
Five minutes later, they were walking over the damp grass, down towards the glittering surface of the lake, cloaks taking the edge off the chill wind.
“So, how was your summer?” asked Severus, giving her a sideways glance, and she pulled a face.
“Ok, I guess. Met up with an old friend.” She smiled and turned her attention on him, clear blue eyes studying him closely. “How about you?”
Severus paused, looking out over the glistening water as memories from the past two months flashed before him. “It was… the same as usual.”
“That bad, huh?”
Severus looked up sharply, meeting Katherine’s knowing gaze and wondered how much she knew. Was he that obvious? She laughed, linking her arm with his and tugging him towards the lake.
“Oh come, Sev. You never mention anything about home and you stay here for the holidays. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out you don’t like it there much.”
“I suppose not,” he murmured, though he was still a little disconcerted. Katherine had a habit of coming out with unexpected pieces of information – he just hadn’t realised that this well of knowledge extended to him too.
“There you are!”
“Oh no…” Katherine closed her eyes at the shout, as though the darkness she saw would blot out the group of people heading their way. Severus glanced over his shoulder and saw Evan Rosier, Damon Nott and Regulus Black approaching.
“We were wondering where you’d disappeared to. Why didn’t you tell us where you were going?” demanded Evan, as they drew to a halt in front of them.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise we needed your permission to venture further than the common room,” said Severus caustically, narrowing his eyes.
“I wasn’t referring to you,” blustered Evan, scowling at him. “I was more concerned about her.”
“You don’t think I’m safe with Severus?” asked Katherine, arching an eyebrow, an impish grin curling her lips, and behind Evan, Regulus grinned, dark eyes gleaming with amusement.
“That wasn’t what I meant,” said Evan darkly, sighing heavily as Katherine snaked her arms around Severus’ neck and laid her head on his shoulder.
“No? You didn’t think that maybe we wanted some privacy?” she asked, putting a deliberate stress on the last word and feeling Severus’ muscles tense as a look of pure horror crossed Evan’s face.
“I-” began Evan uncertainly as Katherine gazed serenely at him and Regulus’ shoulders shuddered with suppressed laughter. “Look, just…lunch is in half an hour, all right?”
“All right,” agreed Katherine calmly. “We were coming back soon anyway - I’ve still got two essays to finish.”
“Right,” muttered Evan, glancing uncertainly at Severus, and back again. “See you later, then.”
“Bye,” called Katherine after him, as he hurried up the slope, Damon in tow. As soon as they were out of sight, Severus reached up and extricated himself from her arms.
“Why, exactly, do you get a kick out of irritating Evan?” he asked mildly, ignoring Regulus’ smirk.
“Because he is snobbery personified,” answered Katherine promptly, with a careless shrug of her shoulders. “What do you want?” she added, glancing at Regulus, who was still standing beside them.
“Me? I was just enjoying the show. Do you know why he keeps trailing you?”
“No,” answered Katherine, wrinkling her nose in disgust as she glanced at Evan’s retreating back. “Probably decided to make me his new project or something – turn me into a proper, classy Slytherin.”
Regulus laughed, sweeping black hair out of dark brown eyes and grinning. “Like he could.”
“You’re on dangerous ground, there, Black,” said Katherine, narrowing her eyes. “I’d advise you to think very carefully before saying anything else.”
“What?” asked Regulus, all innocence. “You outclass him a hundred times already.”
Katherine rolled her eyes, slinging an arm around the younger boy’s shoulders as the three of them began the walk back to the castle. “Black, if you don’t drop the Mr Smooth act, I’ll tell Juliet that you’ve been seeing Violet Jugson.”
“Go ahead,” said Regulus easily, earning a confused look.
“Yeah, I broke up with Juliet last year.”
“But on the train-” began Katherine, and Regulus grinned, showing straight, white teeth.
“I never said I told her last year.”
“You’re a real *******, you know that?”
Regulus shrugged, flashing her a charming smile and ducking away down a side corridor. Katherine sighed, and exchanged a bemused look with Severus before continuing on to the dungeons and the relative comfort of the Slytherin common room.
“So, why is Evan following you?” asked Severus, as they nudged a couple of second years out of the good seats by the fire, and sat down.
“Not a clue. Probably paying me back for what happened on the train. Knowing him, he’s got it into his head that I have a disorder that drives me to associate with common muggles and traitors and I need therapy. I think all that inbreeding is interfering with his brain.”
Severus smiled faintly, and gazed into the ever constant fire that flickered in the grate. Since the Slytherin common room was situated in the dungeons of Hogwarts, there were no windows to let in natural light, and they had to make do with lighted torches and fires whatever the time of year.
“Sev?” asked Katherine after a while, and he glanced up, catching the slightly nervous note in her voice. “Have you ever heard of Occlumency?”
“That’s blocking out mind readers or something, isn’t it?” he asked, and she nodded, a pensive expression on her face.
“That’s the one. I was thinking…well – maybe you should study it.”
“Me? Why?” He frowned, and Katherine looked up, blue eyes meeting his, and the seriousness in her expression surprised him.
“Because it will come in useful, and you’ll be good at it, trust me. It’s damn hard to tell what you’re thinking half the time as it is.” She smiled at him wryly, and pulled her essay out of the bag she’d left under the chair earlier, just as the portrait door opened and Evan and Damon walked in, casting wary looks in their direction.
Severus frowned, and picked up a copy of the Daily Prophet that someone had left lying on the table. Why was Evan following Katherine around? Maybe it was to keep her out of trouble, as she suspected, but he couldn’t help but feel there was something more to it than that - it wasn’t like she usually got into trouble anymore, anyway. She’d been a practically model student for the best part of last year, and despite the slight lapse in her homework schedule, she wasn’t showing much sign of being any different this year.
Although…something was different this year. Something had happened over the summer that she didn’t want to talk about, but then again she was entitled to her privacy. You didn’t survive six years in Slytherin without learning not to ask questions: chances were, you wouldn’t like what you found out.
“It’s going to be so cool! I can’t wait! Do you think the lavender robes or the blue robes look better? Regulus? Are you even listening to me?” Violet stamped her foot impatiently and glared at Regulus, furious.
“Does it matter?” he asked apathetically, gazing up from the bed, chocolate brown eyes dark under black lashes. He stood up and pulled her easily towards him. “You’d look gorgeous wearing rags.”
Violet blushed and smiled, cupping his face in one soft hand. “Aw Reggie, you’re so sweet.” She kissed him lightly on the lips, then pulled away, business like once more. “Seriously, though – which one?”
Regulus looked from one set of dress robes to the other, trying hard not to show his lack of interest and the fact that he couldn’t see any difference between the two colours; they were close enough to the same colour anyway.
“Um, the blue ones?”
“Right, that’s settled then. The lavender ones it is,” she said, nodding to herself, before turning on her heel and flouncing out into the corridor and back to the common room. Regulus sighed heavily, flopping back onto his bed and staring up at the ceiling; Juliet had never been this much trouble.
A few moments later the door creaked open again and he looked up, half expecting Violet to come charging in again, but it wasn’t her: it was Evan Rosier.
“Hi Evan,” he sighed, letting his head fall back onto the bed and shutting his eyes. First Violet, now Evan: it definitely wasn’t his day. He heard the door click firmly shut and footsteps cross the room, but didn’t look up until he felt the bed springs depress next him.
“Something wrong?” he ventured, opening one eye sourly, as Evan sat on the end of his bed.
“I need you to do something,” said Evan bitterly, cold grey eyes surveying Regulus with the contempt he reserved for just about everyone in the school. Evan Rosier knew his family tree back to front and could recite all the students in Slytherin House by order of prestige in a heartbeat. This meant, of course, that he was well aware that Regulus was only one place below him in the school hierarchy, and therefore practically an equal, but the two year age gap afforded him a superiority that he would not have otherwise indulged.
“And this something would be..?” asked Regulus, who, too, was aware that being seen to play along with a Rosier was the decorous thing to do, and arranged his face in what he hoped was a politely interested expression.
“I want you to find out who Katherine is going to the Halloween ball with.”
“What?” asked Regulus, unable to stop himself raising his eyebrows in surprise. Whatever he’d been expecting, it wasn’t that.
“You heard,” said Evan, scowling at him. “She’s hardly going to tell me, but she talks to you sometimes, doesn’t she?”
“I guess,” shrugged Regulus, scooting back to lean on his bed post and surveying Evan curiously. “Why do you want to know, anyway?”
“That’s not your concern, Black,” said Evan haughtily, standing to leave, but pausing to add: “And you better not muck this up, or there will be serious repercussions.”
“I’m quaking in my boots,” muttered Regulus, as the door swung closed and Evan’s footsteps faded away; as if anything Evan could do would be new to him.
He fell back onto his comfy mattress once more and closed his eyes. Find out who Katherine was going to the Halloween ball with: no problem. He’d just-
“Oi! Black!” Regulus’ eyes flew open as the door exploded open and Lynx Travers burst into the room, eyes blazing. “What did you to my sister?”
Regulus stared at Lynx for a moment, taking in his muscular build and broad shoulders, result of a dedicated Quidditch career and three summers work helping his father shift beer barrels at his pub.
“I can explain,” said Regulus, scrambling to his feet and holding up his hands in a conciliatory gesture, then, as Lynx folded his arms in the manner of one who has already made up his mind, but is prepared to see what line will be spun this time, Regulus ducked past him and bolted out of the door, slamming it behind him.
As he sped through the common room, Lynx hot on his heels, he saw Katherine and Nicki playing chess in the far corner of the room, but stopping to inquire about date arrangements right now would most likely result in his spending the rest of the week in the Hospital Wing. Bearing this in mind, he let it go, forgetting Evan’s strange task for the moment and continuing straight ahead to the welcome rectangle of blank wall that was the back of the portrait hole.
He scrambled through, falling right on top of Cassie, who was going the opposite way.
“Hey, watch it!” she cried as he stumbled upright, acutely aware of Lynx just a few seconds behind him.
“Sorry,” he called over his shoulder, already half way along the corridor.
“Come back here you piece of scum!” yelled Lynx, fuming as he leapt over Cassie’s prone form and started after him once more.
Regulus grimaced and sped up, ducking behind an ancient tapestry and pelting along the slim corridor it concealed, wondering idly if his brother ever had this much trouble…
“Arrogant, rude, boisterous little toe-rags!” fumed Cassie as she sat down.
“Check,” said Nicki absentmindedly, as one of her knights chased Katherine’s rook around the board waving a lance.
“Who?” inquired Katherine inattentively, scrutinising the rather depleted ranks of her remaining pieces.
“Black and Travers.”
“Isn’t that a DIY company?” asked Katherine vaguely, eyes roaming over the game in front of her.
“What’s DIY?” asked Nicki nonplussed, then shook her head. “Forget it – you’re just stalling, aren’t you?” she said, gesturing to the rather black dominated chessboard.
“Uh huh,” agreed Katherine, whispering something to her remaining white rook, and smiling faintly as it advanced on Nicki’s bishop.
“You’re not listening to me, are you?” asked Cassie, scowling as she slumped in her seat.
“Black and Travers are *******s,” said Nicki promptly, frowning as the rook dispatched her bishop and turned on the king.
“Yes they are,” said Cassie hotly. “Honestly, what is the use of boys? They’re the most annoying, irksome, worthless little-”
Cassie looked up, clear green eyes wide as she stared up at the sheepish form of Robert Avery.
“Hi,” she said in a small voice, nervously tucking her loose side fringe behind her ear.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?” He asked, pointing over his shoulder with his thumb.
“Sure,” she said quietly, getting up and following him over to the fireplace, casting a desperate look back at her friends as she did so.
“Looks like someone’s got a date for the ball, then,” said Nicki, grinning as she watched them talk.
“It would appear so,” Katherine laughed, as Cassie squealed and threw her arms around a slightly startled Robert.
“Took them long enough,” commented Nicki dryly, looking back down at the chess board once more and frowning.
“Oh yeah,” said Katherine idly, seeing her expression. “Checkmate.”
James stared longingly at the back of the Fat Lady’s portrait as if he could will Lily to appear there. Sirius and Peter were playing Gobstones and Sirius was failing miserably as usual. As James looked at his watch again, wondering what was taking her so long, Sirius caught his eye, grinning.
“Stop worrying mate, she’ll turn up eventually. It’s not like anything’s going to happen to her inside the grounds - she’s perfectly safe.”
“I know,” he sighed and looked around the common room. “Hey, Sirius, what time are you meant to be meeting Rose?”
“Six thirty, why?”
“It’s six twenty nine.”
“Right,” said Sirius distractedly, staring at the Gobstones in mounting frustration and wondering if there was any chance he might still be able to win.
“Six twenty nine and thirty seconds actually,” said James, patiently waiting for this to sink in.
Sirius picked up a Gobstone then dropped it and stared at James. James tried not to laugh but the expression on Sirius’ face was just too funny. He watched his friend run out of the common room at top speed, knocking a few first years over in his haste.
“Sorry,” he yelled over his shoulder as he leapt out of the portrait hole.
“Utterly irresponsible,” sighed a voice from behind him. James whipped round to see Lily’s emerald green eyes staring amusedly after Sirius.
“Hi Lily.” James said, wide eyed at her sudden appearance.
“Hi,” she said, sitting down next to him. “Mary said you wanted to ask me something?”
“Um, yeah,” he swallowed, throat suddenly inexplicably dry. This was it – the moment of truth; he’d been gradually spending more time with Lily during patrols, trying to prove how much he’d matured over the summer, and studiously not making any moves on her. Now it was time to see if James Potter 2.0 had any more chance of winning her heart than the previous one.
“Well?” asked Lily, large green eyes gazing at him expectantly. “Is it about our Charms homework? I saw you and Sirius Black talking while Professor Flitwick was explaining what to do.”
“No!” said James, trying to look hurt at the accusation, though Lily was in fact completely correct in her assumption that he and Sirius hadn’t heard a word of Flitwick’s instructions. It didn’t matter – they’d just copied Remus’ notes.
“Oh,” said Lily, frowning a little. “What was it then?”
“I was just wondering…” he hesitated again, uncomfortably aware of Peter’s watchful gaze. “Um, Pete, do you mind-?”
“Oh! Right, I um, I’ll go see Remus…” said Peter quickly, catching on and he padded off towards the portrait hole as Lily watched him, bemused.
“So…?” prompted Lily, long loose hair falling over her shoulders as she leant forward. James licked his lips nervously; how on earth was he supposed to do this? He’d been asking her out for years and it had never been this difficult before.
It was different now, though – now they had a kind of tentative friendship, and if she rejected him now, when she’d seen what he was really like, he wasn’t sure he could take it. Being close to her had only made him fall even more in love with her, seeing how smart she was and how fiercely she protected her friends. He ran a self conscious hand through his hair, earning himself an reproachful look from Lily, and took a deep breath.
“Will you go to the ball with me?”
“Sorry?” asked Lily, her eyebrows raised above bottle green eyes.
“Please?” he added, knowing he sounded pathetic but not caring.
“I thought you just wanted to be friends?” said Lily, looking a little awkward.
“I did - I do,” said James, gazing at her, his hazel eyes wide. “It’s been great getting to really know you and I just wanted…” He trailed off, and, seeing the look on Lily’s face, he realised. “You’ve already got a date.” He said flatly, gaze dropping to the floor.
“Sorry,” said Lily quietly, looking morose. “Laurence Smith asked me after lunch yesterday and I said yes.”
“Can’t you tell him you’ve changed your mind?” asked James, without much hope.
“I’m sorry, James,” said Lily, shaking her head.
“It’s all right,” said James bracingly, trying to assume a look of patent indifference. “Doesn’t matter.”
Lily smiled sadly at him and stood up, making her way over to the girls’ staircase. James waited until she’d disappeared out of sight before he buried his head in his hands and prayed for the ground to swallow him up.
Re: Fire Burns
A/N : Firstly, Merry Christmas and an Happy New Year in advance. Apologies for not updating on schedule, but my laptop had a major meltdown, and since the entire story is located on it, I had no access to the chapter. It’s now fixed, or at least reasonably functional again, so fingers crossed it stays that way.
Also, according the JKR, the Slytherin common room is situated under the lake, so I’m presuming their dormitories are also underwater. For this reason, I’m giving their dormitories port holes that look out into the lake, rather than having no windows at all.
Chapter 6 - Dates
“How do you ask them?” asked Damon, looking anxiously around the dormitory at the other boys, who lay sprawled haphazardly over beds and pillows. “I mean, what happens if they say no?”
Evan looked coldly over the top of his newspaper at him. “Why don’t you just try it and see what happens?”
Damon scowled at him, brown eyes scornful. “It’s all right for you - you’ve got Fiona. I haven’t got a girlfriend, have I?”
“I wonder why,” muttered Severus under his breath, he flicking through the pages of his Arithmancy textbook. From his position on his own bed, Robert smirked, stretched lazily across the covers, and looked out of the window.
Over on the other side of the room, Damon was still fretting about dates. “But who should I ask? I mean, they’ve got to be pure blood, of course, but I don’t want to end up with someone like Vanessa Digby – she’s practically disfigured-”
Evan looked up, confused, as Damon’s flow of inane babble was abruptly cut off, and younger boy’s hand flew to his throat, his pale brown eyes wide. Eyes narrowed, Evan looked over at Severus and Robert, not that either of them took much notice. Severus was still poring over his book, and Robert seemed acutely interested in a grindylow that was peering in at them from the port hole window. Damon looked around wildly, still clutching at his throat, then hurried out of the door, presumably heading for the Hospital Wing and Madam Pomfrey’s healing hands. Evan sighed, casting one last suspicious look at his two remaining roommates, and rose to go after him, leaving the Daily Prophet on his bed.
As soon as the door had shut behind them, Robert turned his head to look at Severus, grinning.
“Nice one, Sev.”
Severus dropped his book onto the covers and tucked his wand into his pocket, before lying back, eyes closed. “Peace at last.”
Robert laughed, rolling over on his back and gazing up at the underside of the hangings of his four-poster bed. “Yeah, I thought he’d never shut up. Who are you asking to the ball, anyway?”
Severus shrugged noncommittally; he didn’t have a good track record with dances, and he wasn’t sure if he was going to go at all. He didn’t voice these thoughts, however, and settled for a simple: “No idea. You?”
“Cassie,” answered Robert promptly, a slight smile on his face.
Severus rolled dark eyes and picked his book up off the covers once more, muttering a quiet: “Finally” under his breath. Robert sat up, staring at him in confusion.
“What do you mean, ‘finally’?” He asked, real confusion apparent on his face.
“Well it took you long enough,” said Severus, engrossed in a particularly interesting theory of Henrich Agrippa, and not even bothering to meet his roommate’s gaze. “You’ve been making eyes at her ever since Rosier’s seventeenth last April.”
Robert scowled and, unable to conjure up a fitting retort, threw a pillow at him.
James, Sirius and Remus were playing Wizard snap in front of the fire in the Gryffindor common room when Lily came in. James stopped mid play, and was rewarded with singed fingers as the pile in front of them ignited. Sirius laughed and cuffed him over the head.
The flash of flame caught Lily’s attention and she waved at him, before crossing the room to sit with Mary and Alice at one of the tables by the windows. James stared after her for moment, then turned away, hanging his head despondently.
“Hey cheer up, mate,” said Sirius, clapping a hand on his shoulder as Remus began picking up the charred shards of their game. “It’s only one night. She’ll go to the ball, realise what a moron Smith is, and come running back to you.”
“Yeah,” agreed Remus earnestly, shifting his position on the thick rug they were sitting on to reach a few of the scattered ashes. “I mean, what’s he got that you haven’t?”
“Lily,” said James dejectedly, and Remus winced.
“Well he hasn’t got her exactly…” he tried, looking at Sirius for support.
“That’s right,” Sirius nodded. “And maybe he’ll change his mind about going-”
“He won’t,” said James, sitting back in his chair and avoiding his friend’s sympathetic gazes.
“Maybe we’ll change his mind about going,” amended Sirius, continuing with his speech as though there had been no interruptions. He pulled out another deck of cards and handed them to Remus, their designated card dealer . “Maybe he gets a sudden migraine, or a horrible rash, or…” he hesitated, and Remus quickly filled in:
“Some unfortunately positioned boils?”
“Precisely,” agreed Sirius. “And you leap in like a knight in shining armour, and voila! Evans does get to go to the ball!”
“And we have a wonderful time, and everything’s going great, then Smith turns up and tells her we orchestrated the whole thing and she dumps me,” said James, shaking his head, eyes growing wide from the numerous scenarios filling his head. “Or she insists on staying by his bedside and nursing him till he’s better. Or-”
James turned around to see Ursula Cepheus, one of Lily’s dorm mates standing directly behind him.
“Oh, hi Ursula,” he said cautiously, cringing internally.
Ursula starting twirling a loose strand of her short blonde hair around her fingers distractedly and smiled prettily down at James. “I was just talking to Pettigrew and he says that you don’t have a date for the Halloween ball,” she purred softly, stepping closer to him, “So I was thinking maybe we should go - together,” she raised her eyebrows questioningly. “What do you think?”
“I-” faltered James, trying to edge away from her smouldering gaze.
“After all, what with Lily going with Smith and everything…”
“Look, I-” tried James, at a complete loss for words.
“He’s otherwise engaged, sorry,” said Remus, leaning back against the foot an armchair and throwing a card down to start the next game. Sirius shot him a curious glance, but added his next card to the heap, and nudged James.
“Your turn, mate.”
“What? Oh right,” muttered James, turning away from Ursula and looking questioningly at Remus. Ursula stared suspiciously at them for a few seconds, then said frostily:
“Pettigrew said you didn’t have a date.”
“His name is Peter,” said Remus wearily, looking up at her for the first time.
Ursula glared at him, coyness forgotten, then rounded on James. “Who’re you going with then?” she demanded, dark blue eyes blazing.
James opened his mouth to answer, then shrugged, casting a quick look at Remus. “It’s a surprise?” he ventured uncertainly.
“A surprise?” Ursula repeated, one eyebrow arched in blatant disbelief.
“Hey, he’s James Potter,” put in Sirius, slinging an arm around James’ shoulders. “It’s his final Halloween ball at Hogwarts – he’s got someone really special lined up, hasn’t he, Moony?”
“That’s right,” agreed Remus, fixing Ursula with stony glare. Ursula looked for a moment as though she was going to say something, but then she just made a noise of disgust and turned on her heel, marching away and disappearing up the girls’ staircase.
“Want to tell us what all that was about, mate?” asked Sirius, eyeing Remus curiously. “I know she’s a bit much sometimes, but-”
“Does this have anything to do with that Slytherin mate of yours putting her in the Hospital Wing at the end of last year?” interrupted James quietly. Remus glanced up at him, a flicker of surprise crossing his face, and then he sighed.
“My Slytherin mate does have a name, you know,” he said mildly, placing his next card on the growing pile.
“Yeah, but I make a point of not being on first name terms with Slytherins,” said James haughtily, leaning forward and brushing messy black hair out of his eyes. “And you didn’t answer the question. Does it? Did Ursula insult her, or something?”
“You think I’m offended on Katherine’s behalf?” Remus asked, shaking his head, a humourless smile on his lips. “Believe me, she can look after herself. Most of the time, anyway,” he added, almost as an afterthought, looking up at the ceiling, frowning slightly.
“I doubt she needs to,” remarked Sirius dryly. “Judging by the hex she used on Ursula, I’d say most people positively go out of their way to be nice to her.”
“I am not responsible for what Katherine does or does not do,” said Remus firmly, and sighed heavily. “Look, I just don’t like Ursula. I’ve got my reasons, ok?”
“Ok,” said James slowly, exchanging a helpless look with Sirius. “But what am I going to do about the ball? We’ve said I’ve got a date, so I can’t exactly turn up alone now, can I? But if I turn up with some random girl, Lily’s gonna think I wasn’t serious about really wanting to go with her.”
This time, Remus smiled, leaned forward. “Well, about that, I’ve just had a rather brilliant idea…”
Nicki sat down heavily next to Katherine, dumping her bag on the table and scowling.
“Everything alright?” asked Katherine cautiously, scribbling a few extra lines onto the end of a four scroll essay.
“Yes, everything’s bloody fantastic,” replied Nicki, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Oh good,” said Katherine inattentively. “That’s nice.”
Nicki glowered at her.
“What?” Katherine asked, looking up finally at her friend’s stony silence, a mildly confused expression on her face.
“Quieten down please everyone,” said Professor Litchfield walking into the classroom carrying a thick sheaf of papers, a blonde head bobbing in after him. Cassie slipped in next to Nicki, slightly out of breath.
“Where’ve you been?” asked Nicki curiously.
“Nowhere,” said Cassie evasively.
“You really shouldn’t wear lipstick if you want to do that secretly you know,” said Katherine quietly, eyeing the papers dubiously.
“What?” said Cassie, evidently flustered; Nicki handed her a mirror.
Cassie hurriedly fixed her makeup as Professor Litchfield started calling the register. Katherine glanced around as Robert Avery dashed in, answering to his name just in time. Professor Litchfield looked up, frowning for a moment, then continued down the list of names in front of him.
“Right,” said Litchfield when he’d checked everyone was present. “Today we’ll be studying the effects of the ten dark hexes classified as Grade Three by the Ministry of Magic, and suggesting ways to counteract them. I do not expect you to know the actual counter curses, but by careful study, you should develop an idea of how such spells are formed. You’ll be working together in groups of four, which-” he raised his voice as various students started looking across the room to catch the eye of those they wanted to partner “-I will assign.”
“Fantastic,” muttered Nicki darkly. “How much do you want to bet he’s doing it alphabetically?”
“It’s a tried and tested method,” sighed Cassie, as Litchfield announced:
“Group one – Katherine, Robert, Sirius and Lily.”
“Yep,” groaned Nicki, pulling her books toward her. “Well this is going to be great fun, isn’t it? We’re all stuck with Gryffindors.” She looked sourly towards Litchfield, who was running his finger down the register, and saying:
“Group two - Frank, Remus, Mary and Nicola.”
“At least Remus and Longbottom will be civil, I’ve got Black to deal with,” muttered Katherine, casting a dark look across the room at the back of Sirius’ head.
“Group three - Alice, Damon, Fiona and Rose, Group four - Peter, James, Cassandra and Evan, and Group five – Severus, Samantha, Thierry and Carol.”
“Nope, I win,” declared Cassie as everyone stood up to change seats. “Potter and his lap dog.”
“Good luck,” murmured Nicki as James Potter and Peter Pettigrew approached and Cassie sank miserably back into her seat, eyeing them with distaste. Katherine smiled sympathetically and made her way across the room to where Sirius and Lily were waiting.
Robert reached them at the same time, and the two Slytherins pulled up chairs opposite the Gryffindors, and dropped their books onto the desk with bad grace.
Professor Litchfield arrived at their table a minute later and deposited a worksheet between them. Katherine glanced at it, then looked up at Sirius, who had turned his head to stare across the classroom at another group.
“So, Severus says you haven’t hexed him lately. Are you ill?” she asked lightly, an insincere smile on her face. Sirius scowled at her and snatched up the worksheet, as Robert grinned. “Fine, be like that,” shrugged Katherine, sitting back in her seat and stretching. “I was just trying to make conversation.”
“Maybe we should just concentrate on the work?” suggested Lily, holding out her hand for the work sheet, which Sirius obediently handed over as Katherine and Robert exchanged smirks.
“The Eructonius hex,” Lily read aloud. “First recorded in 1432, causes victim to- oh that’s disgusting.” She threw the sheet down, looking slightly nauseous. “How on earth are you meant to repel that?”
“Non-verbally?” suggested Katherine mildly, picking up the sheet herself. Robert shot her an incredulous look, which she met with a small shrug. “Well you’re not gonna be able to speak very well, are you? Not if you’ve vomited up your-”
“Yeah, we get the picture,” interrupted Sirius, grimacing at the mental images which he was trying very hard to block out.
“Maybe we should start with another one?” Katherine proposed, glancing sideways at Robert. “How about the Obruxics curse?”
“That drowns you or something, doesn’t it,” asked Lily, brushing her long red hair out of her face and trying to focus. “So I’d think you’d need some kind of air based charm, some way to get the victim breathing?”
“Sounds like a good start,” agreed Katherine grudgingly, as Robert handed the work sheet back to Lily to read out the information they’d been given on the Obruxics curse.
Forty minutes later, they had five possible counter curses for various hexes on the list, though the sixth was causing problems.
“If someone’s been sent halfway to hell, I don’t see what spell you could possibly use to bring them back,” said Sirius, pushing a hand through his hair and making it stick up at odd angles.
“They haven’t actually been sent to hell,” said Robert with a withering look. “They just think they have; you can’t send someone to hell. The curse plays on the mind, so the counter attack has to be something that affects you mind too, like Confundus or Obliviate.”
“Oh yeah, that’s really gonna help, isn’t it?” said Sirius archly. “They’re already in mental anguish, and you want to make them forget who they are and confuse them to boot.”
“I wasn’t saying we should use those charms,” retorted Robert, treating him to a disparaging look. “I was just suggesting spells that influence your brain.”
Lily watched them argue absently, twirling her quill idly between her fingers, then shot a quick glance at Katherine who was sat directly opposite her, head resting on her hand. She appeared to be deeply engrossed in the text book lying on the desk in front of her, but Lily had some doubts about that, because she’d been staring at same page for a full five minutes now, and there was no way she was that slow a reader.
Next to Lily, Sirius turned his attention on Katherine too, arms folded defiantly across his chest.
“I suppose you think Obliviate’s the answer, too, do you?” he asked sourly. “Hey, you ignoring me?” Sirius reached across and tugged the book out from under Katherine’s hand. She looked up sharply, blinking and shaking her head a little.
“Necartrius? Counter charm?” prompted Sirius, raising his eyebrows.
“Oh, Epegeiro, isn’t it?” said Katherine vaguely, rubbing her eyes tiredly. “Something like that.”
There was a momentary silence as Sirius and Lily shared a curious look, and Robert’s blond head turned sharply to stare at his friend.
“You know the actual counter curse?” asked Sirius slowly, and Katherine paused in the act of flicking through her textbook, eyes that had seemed slightly preoccupied a few seconds ago suddenly focused as she looked up at him. “How do you know the counter curse for a Grade Three hex?”
Katherine seemed to deliberate for a moment, then shut her book carefully, and shrugged. “I read a lot.”
“You expect me to believe that?” asked Sirius, dark eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“How else would I know it?” inquired Katherine, and though her expression was one of harmless innocence, he heard the steely note in her voice.
Sirius’ half formed answer was drowned out by the bell signifying the end of the lesson, and both Katherine and Robert had scooped up their books and left the classroom before he could say another word.
The Slytherin common room was distinctly empty that evening, Katherine noticed as she rolled up her Transfiguration essay and placed in carefully her bag. Severus was hunched up in a chair, gazing coldly at the fire. She regarded him thoughtfully for a moment, leaning on the arm of the leather bound chair she was sitting in.
“Keep doing that and it’ll go out,” she said after a while, resting her head on her arms and gazing at him. Severus blinked and turned round to look at her.
“What?” he asked, frowning a little.
“Nothing. Are you alright? You seem a bit…distant.”
Severus shrugged; he didn’t think he was being particularly quiet, but maybe two months of living at home had made him revert to his customary reclusive nature.
“I’ve just got a lot on my mind,” he said, dark eyes returning to the fire once more. He thought he heard Katherine murmur something, but when he glanced over at her, she was already levering herself up from her chair and picking up her bag.
“Well, I’m going to bed,” she said, stifling a yawn. “See you at breakfast.”
“Night,” said Severus absently, watching her leave with a dubious expression, then: “Wait, Kat…”
She turned and waited. He shifted position in the chair so that he was facing her and said: “Who are you going to the ball with?”
“No one yet,” replied Katherine, frowning at him. “Why, you offering?”
“No,” said Severus, and Katherine wondered if it was just the firelight making his usually pale cheeks look a little red. “It was Regulus – he asked me earlier, said you wouldn’t tell him.”
“Oh, yeah, he’s been bugging me about for the past week,” sighed Katherine, rolling her eyes. “Heavens knows why.”
“Think he’s up to something?” asked Severus, and she grinned at him, brushing a stray lock of hair back behind her ear.
“It’s Reg, Severus – that boy is never not up to something.”
“But no one’s asked you, then?” inquired Severus, arching one eyebrow curiously.
“Well given the very limited pool of boys available, I was rather considering that a blessing,” admitted Katherine with a wry smile. “Have you seen your fellow Slytherins recently? The inbred look isn’t really my thing.”
Severus laughed. “What about the guys Nicola was going on about at lunch?”
“Harrow’s in Ravenclaw,” explained Katherine with a shrug. “And Kilney…well I think even Nic might have her work cut out for her there.”
“Prising boys away from their girlfriends hasn’t presented much of a problem for her before,” said Severus dryly, but Katherine only laughed.
“That’s not gonna be an issue with Thompson, believe me.” She smiled at his uncomprehending look, and shook her head. “The point is, they’re unavailable. It’s Slytherin or nothing, and since there are very few people in his charming house of ours that I can actually stand, I’m currently opting for the nothing. I think it’s safer.”
“Well when you put it like that…” said Severus, settling back down into his seat. “Although, if you decide you do want a partner, and presuming I am one of the few you can stand, you could always go with me.” He tore his gaze away from the flames dancing over the wooden logs in the fire and glanced over at her. “It might get Regulus off your back.”
“You want me to go with you?” she asked slowly, gazing at him with an inscrutable look in her eyes.
“Well, only if-”
Severus stared at her for a moment, not quite sure what to say, then mentally shook himself and nodded. “Ok. I guess you can finally get Regulus to leave you alone, then.”
Katherine’s odd expression immediately morphed back into a sly grin, and she laughed again. “Why on earth would I want to do that? It’s driving him mad not knowing – he can just wait and see like everyone else. Night Sev.”
And with that she turned on her heel and disappeared into the dark corridor leading to the girls dormitories, leaving a mystified Severus behind her.
Feedback would be lovely.
Re: Fire Burns
Chapter 5 – All Hallows’s Eve
Remus sipped his butterbeer, watching the scene unfolding in the midst of the dancers with amusement.
“Quite some date Potter’s got, huh?” The voice in his ear made him jump, causing him to spill butterbeer over his robes. He cursed under his breath and threw an annoyed look at Katherine, who was biting back a smile. “Sorry.”
“No you’re not,” he muttered, mopping at his robes with the edge of the tablecloth.
Katherine ignored the comment and slipped into the seat next to him. Her dark hair was pinned up and she was wearing a high necked navy blue dress that left her arms and shoulders bare; not quite dress robes, but close enough that it didn’t stand out.
“You look nice,” he said, and she grinned and took a swig from the butterbeer bottle in her own hand.
“You don’t scrub up bad, either. Thanks for the chocolate, by the way,” she said, tucking a loose strand of dark hair back into place. “And the book. But mostly the chocolate.”
“Was that a reminder that it’s your birthday so I can’t be mad at you?” asked Remus, shooting her an amused look in spite of himself. Katherine winked at him, her smile sliding into a mischievous grin.
“So whose idea was it for James to ask a ghost?”
“Mine,” said Remus, noting the change of subject and abandoning the tablecloth in favour of a small heating charm. Katherine wasn’t big on birthdays – something he’d always suspected had something to do with being adopted. Maybe cake and candles weren’t as fun if they reminded you of a mother who’d given you up. “Lily was already going with Piers Airey by the time James had figured out the perfect way to ask her, and then Ursula Long asked me if he had a date and…well, I didn’t want to be rude so I may have said he was already going with someone.”
“Well heaven forbid you be rude to Ursula Long,” said Katherine sardonically. “Why didn’t you just tell her to ask James and let him be rude if you didn’t feel up to it? He’s more than capable of it.” At his slight pause, her blue eyes narrowed and she set her bottle down on the table. “He does know what she said to you, right?”
“And have her end up in the hospital wing again?” asked Remus sourly, something in her manner making him eyeing her drink with not undue suspicion. It wasn’t that he disapproved of alcohol – heavens knew he and his friends had had their fair share of drunken nights over the past few years and today was Katherine’s 18th after all – it was the drinking alone that concerned him.
“James and Sirius wouldn’t put Ursula in the hospital wing,” Katherine was saying now, sipping whatever liquid was in the dark brown bottle without the slightest indication of repentance on her face. “They’ve got a thing about not hexing girls. Why haven’t you told them what she said?”
Remus sighed. Because, he wanted to say, the world is full of small minded, ignorant little people and you can’t fight them all. Because I’m scared of people finding out about my ‘furry little problem’, as James puts it, and losing everything. Because it’s just not worth it. And because six days in the hospital wing covered from head to toe in some of the most painful and frankly disgusting looking blisters I’ve ever seen was probably punishment enough. If you look closely you can still see the scars some of them left.
It had happened last year; the Daily Prophet had published a series of articles on a suspected werewolf gang operating in the midlands and the otherwise perfectly amiable Ursula Long had chosen to voice her opinions on ‘halfbreeds’ to Remus on the way to Ancient Runes.
Remus had heard enough vitriol about werewolves in the last decade to let words wash over him. It wasn’t that they didn’t hurt, but sometimes you just had to let things go, so when the matter came up he just kept his mouth shut and changed the subject as tactfully as possible.
Unfortunately for Ursula, Katherine had been a few steps behind them, and while his oldest friend had many good qualities, the ability to forgive and forget was not one of them. Nor was keeping her temper in check.
Katherine was still watching him, her blue gaze unrelenting, so he shrugged and said:
“You know half the school thinks the same, they’ve just never said it in front of you. You can’t hex everyone, and even if you did,” he added quickly, as Katherine opened her mouth to argue, “it wouldn’t change how they think. And I don’t need you to fight my battles, thank you.”
“Until you actually decide to fight them, I will continue to act as I choose, thank you,” said Katherine, returning her attention to the dancing couples as though the matter was closed.
“Violence doesn’t solve anything,” said Remus, getting a distinct feeling of déjà vu. How many times had he had this conversation? The words changed but the argument was always the same. “You can’t force the world into your way of thinking.”
“That’s one opinion,” Katherine opined, her gaze now following James again, who was currently managing a credible waltz with his ethereal companion. “Who is she?”
“Lady Esmerelda of Dundee,” said Remus. He hesitated for a moment, then, deciding that attempting to correct his friend’s crooked moral compass was probably a waste of this particular evening, continued. “She haunts the North Tower. We did try the Grey Lady first but even Sirius’ charms didn’t get anywhere with her.”
“Not sympathetic to the cause of True Love?”
Katherine shot him a grin, then asked: “Do you think he really loves her?”
Remus laughed and took a swig of his butterbeer. “Do I think James Potter loves Lily Evans? Have you not been paying attention for the past five years?”
“Oh, I’ve seen the grand gestures – last year’s Valentine’s Day was a particular highlight,” said Katherine with dry humour. “It’s obvious he wants her – she’s pretty and clever, and seems like a decent enough person, but he doesn’t really know her, does he?”
“That’s because she refuses to talk to him,” said Remus mildly, seeking out Lily’s crop of flame red hair in the crowded room but failing to find it. “Up until recently, at least.”
“But that’s my point – how can you love someone if you don’t know what makes them who they are? If you don’t know that then you’re not in love with them, you’re in love with a fiction in your head.”
Remus paused in his search for Lily and turned to look at his friend curiously; that last remark had had barbs in it. “Are we still talking about James?”
Katherine hesitated for a second, then shrugged again and looked away. That’s a no, then.
He leant forward to place a gentle hand over hers, which had been meticulously pulling a napkin apart, and stiffened when she almost flinched at the contact. He tightened his hold on her hand and was about to ask her what was wrong when Sirius, with his usual impeccable timing, clapped a hand on each of their shoulders and asked cheerily:
“And how are you two lovebirds?”
Remus sighed inwardly as Katherine pulled her hand away sharply and shot an annoyed look at Sirius, who had just realised his mistake.
“You’re not Jessica.”
Katherine arched an eyebrow, the vulnerable expression of a moment before replaced by the disdainful look she usually wore when interacting with his friends. She gave the hand that Sirius was still resting on her shoulder a pointed look and he removed it hastily.
“Where’s Jessica?” he asked Remus, arms crossed defensively in front of his chest.
“Jessica?” asked Katherine, looking at Remus with suddenly questioning eyes. “Jessica Davies? Sixth year Hufflepuff? You’re here with her?”
“It’s not a date,” said Remus quickly, as an impish grin started to form on Katherine’s lips. “We came as friends - she has a boyfriend back in Cardiff. As to where she is, the last time I saw her she was dancing with some friends. Shouldn’t you be with Rose?”
This last question was directed at Sirius, who shrugged. “One of her friends had a hair emergency.”
“A hair emergency?” asked Remus. As excuses went, it rated somewhere between flimsy and downright pathetic.
“Yeah, I don’t know either,” confessed Sirius, shooting a glance at Katherine. “Care to elucidate?”
“Never had a hair emergency,” said Katherine, now picking idly at the label on her bottle. “But if the friend was Francis Higgins, I’m inclined to think the emergency was less to do with loose braids and more to do with fact that her date has a propensity to stare at other girls’…shall we call them ‘assets’?”
“Including yours?” asked Remus, something about the note of bitterness in her voice making him certain she was speaking from experience. Katherine met his gaze, lips curling into a wicked smirk.
“Speaking of dates, isn’t it about time you were getting back to yours?” broke in Sirius, throwing himself down into the empty seat on Remus’ other side and looking pointedly at Katherine.
“I’m sure he’s more than capable of fending for himself,” she replied. She drained the remains of the bottle and added in answer to Remus’ frown: “Troll attack.”
“Troll attached?” asked Sirius, shooting confused looks between the pair of them.
“Big, hairy guy,” replied Katherine, beginning to idly spin the bottle around on the table. “Struggles with words over three syllables. Has very definite opinions about who’s allowed to cross certain thresholds.”
“And heading this way,” added Remus, catching sight of Evan Rosier over her shoulder. The bottle came to an abrupt halt and Katherine looked up at him sharply.
“Not joking,” said Remus, looking down at his own drink and making every effort to look insignificant as Evan Rosier approached. Evan made Ursula Long seem liberal in her attitude, and Katherine had long ago warned Remus to stay off his radar – a feat that wasn’t actually too hard. There were only a few people Evan thought were worthy of his time, and skinny, pale Gryffindor half bloods like Remus did not make the list.
Sure enough, there was no acknowledgement of either himself or Sirius when Evan stopped at the table, despite Sirius’ low chuckle as he realised who the troll comments had been referring to.
Katherine had given the nickname to her classmate within a month of starting Hogwarts. He still remembered standing with her by the Great Lake under a grey autumn sky, skimming stones across the smooth water while she vented her frustration about her classmates’ general lack of understanding regarding muggles. ‘I bet Evan ‘my-blood-is-purer-than-yours’ Rosier has troll blood in him. Last week he genuinely asked me if I could read…’
As the years passed, the moniker had become increasingly appropriate, both in Evan’s capacity for empathy and understanding, and more recently his stature. Evan had been tall at eleven and the last six years had added nearly a foot and half to his height and broadened already heavy set shoulders. Today he wore high collared dress robes that were fastened at his wrists with silver cufflinks, so Remus couldn't vouch for Katherine's claim that since puberty hit he was 'hairier than you at full moon', but there was certainly a healthy growth of stubble showing on his strong jaw.
“You disappeared on us earlier,” Evan said, the smile on his thick lips not quite reaching his eyes.
“I was thirsty,” said Katherine, sending her empty bottle on the table spinning with unnecessary forcefulness, so that it became a pale brown blur of glass.
“Well now your thirst appears to be quenched, might I have a word?”
“Busy,” said Katherine shortly, leaning back in her chair and watching the bottle turn in slowly decelerating circles.
“You look it,” sneered Evan, casting a perfunctory look over the table, pale eyes skimming over Remus and Sirius with barely a flicker of recognition before settling back on Katherine. “Is spinning bottles a common pastime where you come from?”
“Never played it, Ev?” Katherine’s tone was cool as her dark eyes flicked up to meet his gaze in a way Remus couldn’t help but feel was confrontational.
She seemed to have kept herself out of trouble since term began, but now Remus could sense again what he’d felt on the train when Katherine had tried to pick a fight with James and Sirius. Under the relaxed pose and easy manner was a feeling of restraint reaching its limit, like the teetering of the first domino in a chain.
In front of him Evan’s large palm came down heavily on top of the spinning bottle, the muscles in his jaw tightening at the overfamiliar and unaccustomed nickname.
“A word?” he repeated again and, although his smile was polite, there was an undercurrent of something darker in his tone. Katherine appeared to consider this, frowning down at the bottle on the table.
Remus stared fixedly at his butterbeer; in the mood she was in, he suspected Katherine was quite likely to give Evan a few very specific words, though they were probably not what he had in mind.
He tried to catch her eye, to remind her that she didn’t have to let Evan Rosier get under her skin – that she could rant and laugh about it later like they always did – but she wasn’t looking at him. Instead, her gaze slid across the table towards Sirius and the look she gave him made little coils of unease twist in Remus’ stomach.
“How about you?” she asked Sirius suddenly, her voice laden with the sweetness of honey. Sirius, who had still been grinning to himself about the troll comment, looked at her in blank confusion. “Want to play?” Katherine prompted and, with dawning horror, Remus looked down at the table where the empty butterbeer bottle lay, the tapered neck centered directly on Sirius.
Why, he thought later, did it have to be him? Of all people, why Sirius Black, the boy who had never had a second thought in his life, who was impulsive to the point of recklessness and who never missed an opportunity to rub his pureblood relatives up the wrong way.
Katherine, he had no doubt, would have played her part with whoever had been unfortunate enough to sit at their table, but James would have scowled at her and Peter backed away. Even Frank, he thought, would have made a gracious excuse. None of them would have grinned and asked how to play.
“We should-” he began, but it was too late. Even as he reached out to put a hand on Sirius’ arm, Katherine leaned over and grabbed the front of Sirius’ dress robes, pulling him towards her in one easy movement and pressing her lips against his in a heated kiss.
Remus froze for a moment, then sank slowly back into his chair. In front of him Katherine thrust one hand into Sirius’ mussed dark hair, the other reaching behind his neck and pulling him closer. Remus looked away in disgust and caught a glimpse of the back of Evan’s hulking form disappearing into the dancing crowd of students.
“He’s gone, Katherine,” said Remus loudly, glowering down at his butterbeer so he didn’t have to look at the kissing couple. Katherine immediately released her grip on Sirius and sat back in her seat, smoothing down her dress. She caught his eye and gave a slight shrug, having the decency to look a little abashed at jumping one of his best friends.
Sirius looked frozen in place, his handsome face a picture of stunned confusion; his pale gold cravat was half hanging out of his dress robes and his usually sleek hair was giving James’ a run for its money. Remus almost felt sorry for him.
“What…?” he began, then trailed off, bewildered.
“That’s it,” said Katherine. Her tone was light and entirely free from guilt. “That’s the game.”
“You spin a bottle, then snog someone?”
“Pretty much. You know you’re not a bad kisser. Not quite as good as Nic said, but I guess you guys are family. She probably gave you a few extra points.”
Remus dropped his head into his hand as the Sirius abruptly unfroze, glaring at Katherine in sudden fury.
“What the hell kind of game is that? And for your information Nicola is only a cousin by marriage.”
“Still your cousin,” laughed Katherine, tucking a few strands of dislodged hair back into her neat braid.
“Everyone is related to everyone here,” growled Sirius. “If you’ve got pureblood lineage, as you claim, then you’re probably Rosier’s cousin.”
“Only very distantly,” replied Katherine vaguely, scanning the room until her gaze settled on the enchanted clock face that Professor Flitwich had charmed to float, bobbing gently in the air, over the staff table. A couple of small bats were currently hanging upside down from the hour hand. “For the past few generations, my family have preferred to keep it in the family.”
Sirius’ scowl turned to a look of scorn. “No one does that anymore.”
“With good reason,” agreed Katherine, standing up from her seat. “Now if you’ll excuse me it’s half nine so I have to go find Nic. I imagine she’s thought of an appropriate excuse by now.”
“To get me to the surprise party Cass has been planning for two weeks and thinks I don’t know about.” She grinned down at Sirius and winked lasciviously. “Thanks for the birthday kiss.”
And then she was gone, slipping away into the milling crowd of students. Sirius sat down heavily in his seat, a deep frown furrowing his forehead.
“Why did she do that? Rose is going to kill me.”
“It wasn’t your fault. Katherine is…” Remus hesitated, struggling to find a suitable word and settling for: “…impulsive.”
“Well she’s going to be mad and I’m going to get the brunt of it because she’s not going to dare confront her, is she? Not after Ursula Long. I doubt anyone around here would dare touch a hair on Katherine Archer’s head.”
Remus thought of Rose, with her dark eyes and willowy frame. She was probably a good two inches taller than Katherine and he’d seen her row often enough with Sirius to know she pulled no punches in a fight, but time had not yet dulled the vision of Ursula Long howling with pain as raw red blisters blossomed across her pale skin.
“No,” he said, clapping a sympathetic hand on Sirius’ despondent shoulder. “I doubt they would.”
He was, it turned out, wrong.
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Last edited by Purple Banana; April 12th, 2016 at 10:47 pm.
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