(A/N: The memoir portion of this story is MMWP days, the 'real-time' portion is set just before the Potters were killed, when Voldemort is at the height of his power. I am aware that ages may not work out exactly right. I disclaim all HP characters and settings. I only own Adrienne and my pants, which I do not want sued off of me.)
Adrienne Leonardknew she was gifted.
Everybody knew it.
But it didn't matter. A perfect score on the latest exam might bring a few words of praise from a professor, but never could it propel her any further up the social ladder, on which she had always sat squarely on the lowest rungs. Most of the Ravenclaws in her year knew of her, but in that distant way that one knows of some clerk at Madame Malkin's. She was 'that one girl,' and if she wasn't at the top of the class she doubted she'd be known at all. She was like a ghost, drifting from class to class and through people's minds without so much as a residual thought.
She had never cared before then.
She had always been content to be by herself. Her grades were superior, it was true, but that didn't mean schoolwork came easy to her. Her achievements came only with hours of studying, studying she had time to do because she had no other obligations, no dates to keep, no outings with friends, no connection with the outside world. It wasn't that she purposefully snubbed her peers, but her quiet demeanor generally kept the more boisterous ones away. Now, however, there was a new feeling. She got it whenever they came into her double potions class, whenever they made their way past the Ravenclaw table where she sat. They were inseparable, those four. James Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew—they were there own force of nature, really, commanding attention from everyone. Even Adrienne. She had heard some girls giggling about it in the common room. Apparently Sirius was considered quiet the catch, and they were all secretly plotting how to seduce him. It was stupid, and Adrienne knew it, but perhaps only because she this feeling she had was not for Sirius. It was the small one. The pudgy boy with the dirty-blonde hair, the one who trailed along the other three like he had only half-membership in their secret cabal, the one whose pleasant enough face was made homely by the handsome company he kept. The one the giggling hormonal girls didn't give second glance to. The one like her.
Looking back on it, she cursed herself for never speaking to the boy, never so much as acknowledging him—they could have been something, she felt it. But she could never get herself to do it. Whenever she summoned the courage to drop by the Gryffindor table, or lift her eyes from the ground to meet his—she saw Lily. Lily Evans was more like the mommy of the group then the girlfriend, always crossing her eyes at the boyish stunts they pulled, and chiding them for jokes that often went too far. If she was attached romantically to anyone in the group, it was James, albeit in a bickering, old-married couple sort of way. Yet that didn't matter to Adrienne. What mattered was that she was beautiful, with long flowing red hair that framed a creamy complexion and bright green eyes. Adrienne would spend hours in the mirror, examining her own figure. She was thin in a bony rather then slender way. Her hair was an ordinary shade of brown that hung limply to her shoulders, her eyes wide and gray and rimmed with puffy dark circles that betrayed her penchant for nightlong studying. There she would stand, for hours, until one day her own reflection simply gave her a rude hand gesture and walked away.
She never spoke to Peter.
Thirty years later, the pain was still real. Adrienne lived alone in a drafty house on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. At forty four, she retained much of her old looks, only now her boniness was slowly giving way to the slightest of middle-aged bulges. Sometimes she contemplated magically making herself beautiful, mixing up some draught that would make her personality shine. But that would be false, a bastardization of true beauty—she would still be Adrienne, only in a gaudy plastic shell that she would some day be ashamed of. So instead she sat at home, alone, recalling the memories of her school days as if to intentionally torture herself.
But today she was waiting.
Someone with a propensity for spellwork such as Adrienne could often be found in high powered Ministry positions, or even as an Auror. Adrienne wasn't very open about her skills, so it was surprising (to say the least) when the Minister of Magic himself popped his head out of her fireplace to announce they needed her assistance in the war against dark forces. At first she was plagued with visions of herself running after the legions of evil in the dead of night, but he informed her the position was only temporary and could be completed from inside her own home. They needed a list of spells checked and reworked. These were no ordinary spells, she was informed, but the latest in the Auror's offensive against evil. They would send a messenger to deliver the spells, in person, to her home in less that an hour. He disappeared before Adrienne could ask any questions.
And so she was waiting.
She didn't know much about the forces of Voldemort, only that she was loath to come in contact with them. They did things to people. Sirius, the heartthrob of fourth year, had been turned by them, or so it was said. It was he that killed…she grimaced. Once again, if only she had been able to approach them! Maybe...maybe through some convoluted twist of fate and maybes Peter would still be alive. And she would not be alone.
There was a knock at the door. She shuffled over and opened it to receive the messenger.
It was a small man, thin but the sort of thin that came from not eating for a long while. His eyes were small, watery and gray, and all of his facial features seemed to come to points. His hair was strawlike, matted, and thinning. His right hand was missing a single finger.
It had been thirty years, but she knew right away.
He was dead, but no, he was here! Right here, at her own door—she wasn't even aware he had noticed her back in the school days. But he must have! Suddenly she felt more alive than she had in the last thirty years. He must have felt the same bond she felt with him; he must have realized their kinship---
As Peter stepped around the body to await the spell messenger, he noticed something odd. The look of fear and shock that were the hallmark of the killing curse were not present on his victim.
This woman was smiling.