AN: Disregard the last version of this chapter. I've become reinvested in this story and I've decided not to digress from my original plan. So sorry for the wait, all of you who are still interested. Most of it is the same, with a few tweaks here and there, but the ending is entirely different.

The Gravity of a Turning Point

Sylvie found the month very peaceful, aside from her frantic O.W.L. studying. It was nice not to have the burden of her relationship on her back. She felt as though she could finally breathe and sort out her feelings for Sirius, which was a refreshing change.

But she saw very little of him, or anyone, as she immersed herself so that she could study effectively, spurred on to study even harder so as to redeem herself from her detention. When the time for the tests finally came, Sylvie barely spoke to anyone, and was a frazzled mess throughout the entire duration. When they were over, however, she felt as though the weight of the world was off her shoulders, and she felt that she could finally let go of her worries, at least until July or August, when the results would be in.

During this time, Sirius waited, patiently, as it would seem to onlookers, but inside, whenever he was around her, he felt as thought he would spontaneously combust on the spot. It was almost too much to be so close to someone he'd wanted for so damned long. He couldn't help but feel some kind of sick satisfaction and triumph whenever he saw Callahan Knightley walking around the castle looking downtrodden. In a deep part of himself, though, he felt sorry for the other boy, as he himself had gone through the same thing for over a year now. But soon it would be his time, and he would show Sylvie that he truly loved her more than anyone in the world.

But the winds of change were howling outside the castle, as a dark, evil force was beginning to attract a following, and worse, set up targets for revenge and for gain. A turning point was coming, one that would turn children into adults. The times were changing.

One dreadfully overcast morning, when there was little over a week left before everyone would go home for the summer holidays, Sylvie, Remus, Sirius, James, Peter, and Vanessa were on their way to breakfast.

"This weather is just dreadful," Sylvie said dully. She hated the rain, especially in June, when the weather had finally warmed up.

"I know. I checked, it's supposed to rain all week," Vanessa replied. "Thank God Quidditch season is over." The Gryffinfor team, led by Callahan, had won another stunning House Cup victory. "Oh my, I never thought I'd hear myself say that," she mused.

Sylvie looked out the castle's large windows in the corridor, feeling somewhat melancholy, even though she had no reason to be.

Sirius, who was walking beside her, sensed her unease. "All right, Silvery?" he asked quietly, touching her back discreetly.

She sighed and nodded. "I just can't shake this bad feeling I've got," she said, looking up at him. "It's probably nothing, just gloom from the weather. I'm being silly." She shook her head, smiling.

Sirius glanced at her again, then nodded. He knew that sometimes Sylvie would have "feelings" sometimes. She was very intuitive, and the fact that she now had a bad one was troubling to him.

As soon as they turned a corner, they saw their Head of House, Professor McGonagall, walking towards them, looking grim.

"Uh oh, what have we done now, Prongs?" Sirius muttered to his friend, who grinned.

But Sylvie's face drained of color when she saw McGonagall. She knew this could mean nothing good.

"Mr. and Miss Lupin, I need you to come with me to the Headmaster's office," she said, her voice so grave that even Sirius and James dropped their smirks and looked concerned.

"Of course, Professor," Remus said evenly.

He and Sylvie dutifully followed her to the gargoyle that was the entrance to Dumbledore's office. Once they reached the spacious circular room, the atmosphere was very somber. Sylvie barely had the wherewithal to wonder at her surroundings; she'd never been to the Headmaster's office before.

"Mr. Lupin, Miss Lupin," Dumbledore said, nodding to each of them respectively, his voice even grimmer than McGonagall's. "Please be seated."

They took seats in the chairs facing Dumbledore's desk. Remus had now caught onto the somber atmosphere as well. They siblings glanced at each other, their faces apprehensive.

"I'm afraid that I have bad news," Dumbledore said. "I've just spoken with your mother. A few days ago, while working for the Ministry, your father…went missing."

Sylvie blinked. Their father worked for the Magical Law Enforcement Squad. Sylvie immediately thought back to a conversation she'd overheard during the Christmas holidays.

"But John, aren't you the least bit concerned about all this?" her mother said.

"Of course I am, dear, but I can't just abandon my duty to the Ministry, you know this," her father replied.

"But what about Greyback? Look at what he did to Remus as a child, can you imagine what will happen to you? You're an adult, John!"

"I know, I know. I'll do my best to be careful, but there are things out there that are bigger than us, bigger than all of us. The Ministry's been abuzz with it, especially the Aurors. If there's something I can do to help, than I'm not just going to sit here and watch it pass me by…"

Sylvie was brought back to the present by her brother's worried voice.

"But sir, surely…surely they'll find him? Surely they're looking?" Remus said, trying to hide his panic.

Dumbledore bowed his head. "An extensive search of the entire country was performed, and your mother didn't want to worry you," he said somberly. "Children, your father was found dead this morning."

His words hung in the air. Sylvie felt her breathing quicken and her throat swell up. She couldn't bring herself to look at her brother.

"How…how…?" Remus sputtered. "No. I don't believe it," he said, shaking his head.

Dumbledore nodded sadly, pain evident on his face. "I'm sorry. You should know that your father gave his life to fight against dark forces that have been collecting outside these walls for some time. He played a huge and honorable part in stopping those forces."

"Greyback?" Sylvie rasped out, barely able to breath. "I…I heard…them talking…" She felt her surroundings blur and she slumped down in her chair, fainting.

When she came to, Remus and Dumbledore were standing on either side of her. She had been placed back upward in her chair.

"You should go to the hospital wing, Sylvie," Remus said, his voice breaking.

She felt like she was suffocating. She needed to leave. "No," she spat. "No, I can't." With that, before either of them could stop her, she ran out the door, down the stairs, and back to Gryffindor Tower, blind to all of her surroundings, where she collapsed on her bed and cried until her throat was raw.

Sylvie had always been very close with her father, even though his work kept him busy. She was drawn to him most after Remus was bitten. While her mother was constantly distraught about Remus' condition, and constantly under stress, her father had helped her to understand the reasons why they couldn't pay as much attention to her anymore, and why Remus was still a boy, but was now very different. She remembered the last time she'd seen him, waving goodbye to her in January on Platform 9¾ as she and Remus boarded the train to go back to school. Had she said a proper goodbye? She didn't even remember her last words to him. She'd never speak to him again, never see him again…all because of these 'dark forces' that everyone kept talking about.

She only wanted sleep, but it wouldn't come. So she cried alone, huddled under her covers to protect herself from the cruel outside world.

Remus, unlike his sister, couldn't bear to be alone. He'd stayed and spoken to the headmaster for a while longer, whilst he explained that their mother would be at Hogwarts tomorrow to collect them and bring them home with her. He offered again his deepest condolences, and asked Remus if there was anything he needed. Of course, Remus replied that there wasn't anything. He thanked the Headmaster for his concern and walked numbly down the stairs and into the corridor. His friends would surely have finished breakfast by now; he headed for the Gryffindor common room.

There they all were. The room thankfully wasn't overcrowded. They automatically noticed the grave, stony expression on Remus' face. Vanessa stood and went to him.

"Remus, what is it? What's happened? Sylvie's up in the dormitory, she won't talk to me…" she asked.

"Our…our father's been found dead," he said, hating the way the words felt when they rolled off his tongue and sat in the air before him.

Vanessa's mouth dropped open as Remus lowered himself into an empty chair, one hand covering his face. He wasn't crying, wouldn't allow himself to show that much weakness, especially in front of Vanessa.

"He was on a mission of some sort for the Ministry, and they said he went missing…they found him this morning," he said, struggling to keep his voice steady. Vanessa sat next to him with her hand on his arm. "Mum's coming to get us tomorrow."

"Mate," James said, his voice still ringing with shock. "If there's anything we can do, you know you just have to say the word…"

"Prongs is right, mate," Sirius said. "We're always here."

Remus just nodded, still not looking any of them in the eye.

Hours passed, and it was soon time for lunch. The common room gradually emptied out so that it was only the five of them.

At one point, Remus couldn't stand the atmosphere anymore, and went up to the boys' dormitory. Vanessa had followed him apprehensively at first, but he grasped her hand and brought her with him. The others let them go without comment.

The rain continued to fall, the sky a melancholy dark gray. No one had seen Sylvie all day.

Sirius realized this. He wanted to let her have her time alone, but he was worried about her. He hated to think of her dealing with this all by herself.

"I need to get to her," he spoke aloud, coming to a conclusion.

Peter and James were still floored by the news. "She'll come down, Padfoot, give her time," James said heavily.

Sirius shook his head. "No, she won't. She needs me, I know her."

"Well, it's the girl's dormitory, and you're a boy. You can't go up there, the stairs'll turn into a slide," Peter said.

Sirius glared at him, but knew he was right. He'd already worked this out in his head.

"Yes, I'm a boy, but I'm also a dog," he said simply, double checking to make sure they were the only ones left in the common room. "I'm changing, one of you open the door for me when I do."

"No!" James sputtered. "Have you lost your mind? You'll let Sylvie know our secret!" James said, but it fell on deaf ears as Sirius' tall body shrank into that of a shaggy, big black dog. His mind became even more of a blur than it already was.

In this form, he heard James and Peter's protests, but he went to the girls' dormitory door and scratched at it with his paws. Finally, Peter opened it and he rushed up the stairs, which, thankfully, didn't turn into a slide. He realized when he reached a landing that he didn't know exactly which door was Sylvie's. He sat panting for a moment, listening. He heard muffled sounds coming from a room with the door ajar. It had to be her, no one else was around.

He knew this had to be quick. He nudged the door open with his nose and noticed that there was a bed in this room with the curtains drawn, and he heard more of the muffled sniffling he'd heard from the landing.

Sylvie's head shot up. She'd heard the door open, and now there was another presence in the room, she was sure of it. And was that…panting? She slowly and cautiously opened the curtains around her bed and looked out to see a great black dog sitting by the door. She gasped, feeling faint again, clutching her heart with her hand.

When he saw the look on Sylvie's face, he realized that he was still a dog. He hadn't thought this far into his plan. He figured he might as well get the shock out now rather than wait until later. He swiftly changed from his dog form back to himself.

Sylvie blinked once, then whimpered in fright.

"It's me, Silvery," Sirius said softly, stepping towards her tentatively.

She shook her head. "What did I just see?" she asked, her dull voice quivering.

"I'm an Animagus. So are James and Peter, we did it so we could accompany Remus when the full moon comes around. The wolf can't hurt us when we're animals," he explained quickly and gently. "Is that too much for you right now?"

Her eyes filled with tears, thoughts of her father filling her head once again. She nodded, looking down at her lap as the tears fell.

Sirius went to her bed and sat down beside her. He put his arms around her and held her close, feeling her body tremble in his arms.

"Oh, Sirius!" she sobbed, unable to control herself. "He's gone, I can't believe he's gone! I didn't even get to say goodbye!"

Sirius was silent. He held her close, allowing her to get out all of her sobs without interference. He was steadfastly willing to be her rock. Nothing in the world could have made him move from that spot.

After an indiscriminate amount of time, she became silent as well. The only sound in the room was her ragged breathing. Sirius lightly kissed her hair. He hated himself, absolutely hated himself for thinking about it, but this was the closest they'd been in almost six months.

Slowly, she sat up and looked at him. Her face was splotchy, but somehow she was still beautiful. They were sitting very close together, his arm was still around her back.

"Sirius…" she said in the softest voice.

"Yes?" he breathed.

She didn't want to think anymore. Didn't want to feel, didn't want to feel alone anymore. The one she'd always wanted was sitting next to her, on her bed right at this moment. She only wanted him, no one else. And she just couldn't bear the thoughts haunting her at this moment. She knew he could make it all go away, if only for a little while.

"Will you kiss me?" she asked.

It was his turn to be shocked. But the look in her heartbroken, tearstained eyes was too much for him to ignore or refuse. He sensed her need to be taken away; he'd felt it before too, when his parents were at their harshest, and found refuge in many different (female) forms.

Sylvie was so different from them. She was the one he'd always wanted, and now he had her, but not like he wanted. Not like this. He placed his large hand on her face, wicking away a stray tear with his thumb, then combed his fingers back through her fair hair. She closed her eyes and sighed. He noticed goosebumps on her arms and shuddered himself.

"Kiss me…" she whispered, her breath becoming ragged again, her eyes still closed. He'd watched closely as her full lips formed the words. He stroked them lightly with his index finger and she trembled.

He couldn't hold back anymore, despite everything wrong with this situation, despite all his misgivings. This is what he'd been dreaming of for over a year. She was his now.

He clutched the back of her neck and inclined his head to kiss her mouth. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer. She felt as though she'd been set on fire; it was all she could do to keep herself steady. Of course, he helped her with that, wrapping his other strong arm around her waist and pulling her so that her chest was pressed up against his.

Instinctively, he began to gently push her underneath him on the bed. She obliged, and he settled between her legs, never letting go of her, never breaking their kiss.

As was inevitable, he felt a familiar swelling in his pants. He broke the kiss then, but their faces remained close together, their breaths short and uneven.

"Sylvie," he began, panting. "I…"

"It's alright," she whispered. "It's alright."

He couldn't stop himself from leaning down and kissing her again, this time reaching out with a long arm and pulling the remainder of her curtains closed, just in case someone decided to come upstairs.

He moved his head down to kiss her neck and collarbone area as she clumsily unbuttoned his shirt. He slowly moved his hand between them to unbutton her shirt, then ran his hand over her flat stomach.

Sylvie gasped at the feeling of his hand on her bare skin. She stroked his face with her hand and guided him to look into her eyes.

Once he caught a glimpse, he couldn't look away.

"Sirius," she said in the tiniest voice. They stared at each other for a moment, in which there was a perfect, pure, connection between them.

Something inside Sirius exploded. He had to have her. Emitting a growl, he kissed her so deeply that it almost hurt his lips, but he didn't care.

Sylvie's fingers entwined themselves in his hair. She arched her back, pressing her hips against his, feeling his considerable bulge against her thigh. He pulled off the shirt she was wearing while she unbuckled his belt and pushed down his pants, which he quickly kicked off. She wriggled out of her skirt soon after. The silence would have been deafening if not for their ragged breathing and the rustling of the sheets on her bed.

Sirius had to force himself to stop and savor the sight of the girl whom he'd been after for so long, underneath him in only her underwear, completely ready for him. It was almost too much for him when he saw that her eyes mirrored the hungry look of his own. She drew her legs up around his waist and pulled him down to kiss her again.

"I'm not a porcelain doll," she said in the kiss. "You're not going to break me."

He looked at her incredulously, but felt that he would explode with passion and anticipation. His face was set.

If this is what she wants, then fine. I'll give it to her.

He drew a trembling hand down to where her underwear was and tried to pull them off of her, not thinking about her legs wrapped around him. His heartbeat quickened and he felt a violent urge to do away with them, the only obstruction to what he wanted most. He tugged at them with his strong arm and with a ripping sound that filled the air, they were off. Sylvie gasped and looked up at him with a vulnerability in her eyes he'd never seen before. He could hardly see straight for the throbbing between his legs seemed to pulsate throughout his body.

He leaned down and kissed her once more before guiding himself into her and thrusting, perhaps a bit too hard. She gripped his back and broke the kiss to let out a cry and wrapped her legs around his waist, which spurred him on.

He grunted and thrust into her harder and harder, losing himself in her, losing himself in every feeling he'd had for the past year and a half. Every feeling of fear and vulnerability was put into his thrusting. She dug her nails into his back, feeling lightheaded with the pain and pleasure of it all. He was thrusting a bit too hard for her, but she didn't care, she needed this oblivion. She threw one of her hands down on the bed next to her and gripped the sheets in her fist, trying to steady herself against him.

Out of his head at this point, Sirius grabbed this hand and held it above her head as he drove into her. Her arms was so hot that if he were in his right mind, he would have drew back his hand. She didn't gasp this time, only let out a small panting noise.

Sylvie had never felt anything like it before; it was simply inexplicable. He was making her writhe and pant and gasp just from the rhythmic friction of his thrusts. None of it went unnoticed by Sirius, who was getting closer by the minute. One of her legs drifted down his waist; he took hold of the crook in her knee and hitched it further back around him, causing her to call out his name, which only encouraged him.

After a tremendous buildup of anticipation, Sylvie's world exploded. She called out his name again as waves of electricity flowed through her body. It seemed to last forever.

Sirius could no longer control himself any more and with complete abandon, he let himself go as well.

They were both rendered motionless and speechless for a few minutes; Sirius had collapsed on top of her after a few moments of deep breathing to collect himself, he lifted his head and looked at her.

Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were closed. She was trembling slightly.

Slowly, he rolled over next to her and ran his hands through his hair. He couldn't bear to touch her again, not after what he'd done. This is not what he'd envisioned their first time together would be. He hated himself for losing control, he knew he'd been too rough with her. He'd gotten what he'd always wanted, but he hadn't wanted it like this.

Sylvie felt his presence next to her, but was completely lost in her own mind. She shared his thoughts; she hadn't wanted her first time with him to be like this, in this context. She'd gotten the oblivion she craved, but at what cost? He wasn't touching her, but she could feel his bad energy. It filled the air around them and made it thick like water.

She felt the all too familiar sting of tears beneath her eyelids, but still didn't open them.

"Sylvie…" he said, his voice sounding far away. "Sylvie, I'm so sorry." His voice was strained and ragged.

She shook her head, unable to speak, and moved her hands to cover her eyes.

He dared to glance over at her, and saw that she was wracked by uncontrollable sobbing. He had never loathed himself as much as he did in this moment.

He tentatively reached out his arm and touched her. She didn't flinch. He rolled over and collected her into his arms.

They stayed like that until she was done sobbing.

"I didn't want it to be like this, Silvery," he said, his voice still strained and raspy.

She shook her head. "I don't want to talk about it," she said quietly. "But stop apologizing. It was…it was…Let's just…"

But she couldn't find the words and neither could he. She would never have been able to sleep then, so she stayed silent.

The rain battered incessantly against the window next to her bed.

The silence between them was uncomfortable and nearly unbearable. She wanted nothing but to be close to him, but she just couldn't stand the silence anymore.

She wouldn't have noticed that her stomach was rumbling if Sirius hadn't noticed also.

"You haven't eaten anything today," he said grimly. "You must be starving."

She shrugged, her head tucked under his chin.

"Come, let's go down to the kitchens, you need to eat," he said softly.

She nodded. She didn't feel hungry. She didn't feel anything at all, except the desire to remain close to him for as long as she could.

They dressed in silence. When they felt they were presentable, they started towards the door. With a shock, Sylvie remembered Sirius' transformation. She stopped suddenly, and Sirius looked back at her expectantly.

"You'll have to turn into a dog again," she said. "The stairs…"

"Right," he said, kicking himself for not remembering. He regretted revealing the Marauders' secret to Sylvie now, but he couldn't take it back. He knew she would've found out eventually, but he also knew James would be furious with him. "About that…"

Sylvie nodded. "How long has it been going on for?" she asked in her quiet, dead voice.

"Since fall of our fifth year," he said.

She nodded nonchalantly. In other circumstances, she'd have been shocked and offended that she'd not been let in on the secret immediately, but that would have to wait until she felt like her normal self again. She didn't know when, or if, that would happen.

"It was good of you to do it for Remus," she said, thinking sadly of her brother. If she knew him well, he would be off by himself somewhere brooding about the day's events. They were more alike than she had realized. She hoped Vanessa was with him, she was so good to him.

Sirius nodded. He felt apprehensive around her and she sensed this. She didn't want him to feel that way. Despite the unwanted violence of their first time together, she felt closer to him than ever before. She looked up at him and lifted her arm to stroke his face, then gently pulled him down to kiss her softly.

He felt relieved when she did this. When they separated, he breathed, "I love you," resting his forehead against hers.

She nodded. "I love you, too," she said softly.

He sighed. "I'm going to change now, before anyone comes," he said. She nodded.

And again he shrunk into the shaggy black dog. Dusk had begun to fall outside. Sylvie peered out the door into the landing, to find that there was no one around. She beckoned the dog to follow her.

They quickly descended the staircase and told him at the bottom landing that she would check the common room for anyone who was there. She peeked out and noticed that several students had returned, obviously kept inside because of the rain and falling darkness.

"There are people out there," she said, feeling silly talking to a dog. "You'll have to change right here, and be quick about getting out the door."

The dog cocked its head at her.

"Well, what else do you propose we do? You're the one who got up there to begin with."

He looked at her silently once again, then, steeling himself, he changed back into Sirius.

Instantly, the siren rang and the stairs turned into a slide behind them. Sylvie exited first, Sirius right behind her.

The students who'd heard the alarm looked curiously at them, some shocked, some not so shocked. It was, Sirius Black, after all. If anyone were going to try to make it into the girls' dormitory, it would have been him.

Sylvie ignored them and looked up once again at Sirius, gripping his large hand firmly. He leaned down slightly and kissed the side of her head.

He noticed James glaring at him from across the room, Peter sitting dutifully at his side. Remus was thankfully nowhere to be seen. He would have to deal with that later, he knew. He sent an apologetic look back, but James was looking at Sylvie. He must have seen the horrible, dead look on her face, for his own visage crumpled in sadness.

They exited the common room together and Sirius led her silently to the kitchens. She kept herself very close to him; he had a warm and calming presence for her at this moment. She didn't know where they stood as far as their relationship was concerned, but she hardly cared. She just needed him near.

"Things will never be the same now," she said suddenly while they walked.

Sirius was surprised by her voice. "What do you mean, Silvery?" he asked, fondly using her nickname. He still felt uneasy about their act, about the dark side of himself he'd no doubt revealed to her without meaning to. Or did he mean to? Now she knew every part of him, every part of his psyche. And she still stood close to him. He'd be lying if he said he didn't want her again at that very moment. He had more self-control now, but now that he'd had a taste of her, she was like a drug. He didn't know how he'd manage not seeing her for the summer months.

"Everything will be different. My father…" she faltered, losing her breath at the thought of her loss. "Dumbledore told us my father was fighting against dark forces that have been collecting for a long time. And I heard my parents arguing about it before we came back from Christmas holidays."

Sirius stopped, looking at her face searchingly. He'd heard talk of that in his own house, as well, but in a very different capacity, he was sure. He was still bitter at the memory.

"I think you're right," he said slowly.

"What does it all mean?" she asked in a horrified whisper.

"It means that we're all going to have to toughen up and be strong. That's the only way to fight it," he said, thinking of his escape from his family's house and his final break from their dangerous ways.

Sylvie nodded, then walked on in silence, wishing to speak of it no more. There would be time for that later.

It was this day that Sylvie Lupin knew she was no longer a child, and that when the time came, she would do everything she could to help the forces of good, to make damned sure that the wholly good and just man that was her father did not die in vain. She was no longer a child, of this she was completely and utterly sure.

And another undeniable truth that was the warm light at the end of her present dark tunnel, which she allowed herself to believe freely for the first time: she was wholeheartedly, deeply, and irrevocably in love with Sirius Black.

On their way back from the kitchens (Sirius had convinced Sylvie to eat some buttered toast, offered willingly by the house elves), they ran into James, who was clearly still disturbed by Sirius' handling of the secret of the Marauders.

"Padfoot, we need to talk. Now," he said in a low but assertive voice.

Sirius eyed Sylvie pointedly. "Right now, Prongs?"

James looked at Sylvie too, his expression softening for a moment. But he believed that his friend had truly crossed a line in freely revealing their secret and couldn't contain his feelings. The day's shocking events, and the imminent truth that had been revealed to all involved had unhinged more than one person, obviously.

"Yeah, right now," James said.

"I won't tell anyone, James," Sylvie said softly, looking him right in the eye. "You know I won't. Remus is my brother."

James made a frustrated noise. "That's not the point."

Sirius was growing angrier with James by the minute. "You knew she would have found out eventually," he said, fighting to keep his voice level.

"You don't know that. This was our secret!" James said in a strained voice.

Sirius glared at him. "It's high time you grew up, Prongs. I love you like a brother, but you need to face the fact that not everyone is a child and not everyone is inclined to keep childish secrets, especially from the ones they love. I did what I had to, to get to Sylvie," he said as evenly as he could.

James huffed and shook his head, crossing his arms.

But as calm as Sirius tried to remain for Sylvie's sake, he just couldn't reign in his famous temper. "But I guess it's easy for you to focus on trivial things, given that you've had the cushiest life of all," he snapped. "The biggest problem you've had growing up is deciding what kind of broomstick you'd like your mother to buy you."

James opened his mouth then closed it again, and took a threatening step towards Sirius.

"Stop it!" Sylvie shrieked, stepping in front of Sirius and glaring at James with a vicious look in her eye. "The world as we know it could very well be coming to an end if nothing is done to stop it, and you're concerned with your bleeding idea of brotherhood? What is your stupid secret going to be worth if everyone we love is going to be in danger? You've known me since I was eleven years old, long enough to know that I'm trustworthy. Why don't you grow up and worry about your own parents, who I'm sure aren't sitting idly by arguing about Animagi and broomsticks, not at this date and hour." She delivered her tirade with a ferocity that was altogether new to her.

They both looked at her incredulously, then back at each other. They heard more footsteps behind them and turned to see Remus and Vanessa walking towards them, both looking grave.

Vanessa ran to Sylvie and enveloped her in a huge hug. "I'm so sorry, Sylvie," she said, close to tears. "I'm so, so sorry."

"Thanks, Ness," Sylvie said shakily, detaching herself from her friend. She wished James, who was still wearing a stony expression, would go away. Even though she still loved him like a brother, there was only so much she could take on this day.

James still held a stony expression, but he knew better than to keep on Sirius about what he'd done, especially after Sylvie had ripped him apart, and especially in front of Remus.

"We were just on our way back from the kitchens," Sirius said, his hand gripping Sylvie's shoulder steadily. She glanced up at him, thankful for the support.

"We were just on our way there," Vanessa said.

Remus hadn't uttered a word, his face sullen. He looked years older than his age of 17. He wasn't even really listening to the exchange of his friends. He perked up his head at the sound of footsteps coming from the opposite direction.

Into view came Mulciber, Avery, and another Slytherin friend.

"Why so grave, Lupin?" Mulciber sneered at Remus. Sylvie glared at him, knowing then that Mulciber must know about her father's death already.

"Shove off, you bastard," Sirius growled, unconsciously rolling up the sleeve of his shirt.

James, despite his altercation with Sirius, immediately stood next to his friend, drawing himself to his full, tall height, only a few inches shorter than Sirius.

"Or you'll what?" piped up the wiry Avery. "Lupin's daddy certainly won't be able to arrest us anymore."

Remus made a frustrated noise and tried to push through his friends, who did all they could to control him. The werewolf in him sometimes gave him a little extra strength; he wasn't as tall as Sirius and James, but it was all they could do to restrain him.

They didn't notice Sylvie step forward.

Mulciber laughed maliciously. "Yeah, Fenrir Greyback saw to that, our dads told us all about it today in a letter," he said thickly.

Sylvie's breath quickened. She felt herself losing control of her sense of reason, and began to wrack her brain for the most heinous spell she remembered. Her mind traveled back to a snippet of conversation she'd heard between Snape and Mulciber himself, the year before, and Snape had described a new curse he'd developed, a vicious one at that…

She noticed Avery glaring at her. "Dumbstruck, Sylvie?" he sneered. "Missing Daddy?"

She narrowed her eyes and felt her humanity leave her, only for a moment, which was all she needed.

She heard Mulciber speaking, vaguely. "Yeah, I'll bet ickle Sylvie is. I heard he tried to run before Greyback got him…" he coudn't finish the thought before Sirius and James flew at him, but Remus was quicker. He tried to kick and punch every inch he could reach, not satisfied until he drew blood.

But the blood was draining from Avery's face at that moment, for the express reason that it was draining out of the front of him. For Sylvie had screamed "Sectumsempra!" and lashed her wand out as if it were a sword. The spell had sliced Avery's chest, and in the outbreak of scuffle, no one noticed his profuse bleeding until he had sunken to his knees, clutching his wound.

Sirius was the first to glance over at the two of them. Once he saw the blood splashing on the floor, he knew the situation was dire. Then, Vanessa shrieked, causing James to turn and stop dead, and the others to follow suit. Remus was the last to stop and look at her, disbelief dawning on his sunken face.

"Sylvie…" he gasped.

Sylvie made no move to help him, and showed no shock at what she'd done. She lowered her wand hand slowly.

Mulciber was wailing, clearly on the verge of tears and being sick. "They'll expel you, you awful Half-Blood bitch! You've killed him!"

Sylvie's face was hard and set, and she spoke slowly and deliberately. "I'd like to see you prove that. The spell I used was invented by Severus Snape, and I'm assuming only Slytherins have used it." She glanced down at the rapidly fading Avery. "It's not so nice to have your own evilness turned back upon you, is it?" she said defiantly. Then, more softly, "This won't be the end of it."

Her friends watched her in horror. Sirius was the only one who understood. He wasn't the only one with darkness in him. He'd seen it come out in her before, when she broke his nose, when she spurned him once and again, when she slept with Callahan, when she fought with him in the wake of that disastrous Valentine's Day. Almost always in defense of those she loved. He looked at her thoughtfully, unaffected by the gore in front of him; he hadn't realized until this point how alike they were.

None of the others were in line with this thinking, it seemed. Vanessa looked terrified. "Sylvie, we should…"

But Sylvie promptly turned and began to walk briskly away, saying clearly, "You should get your friend to the hospital wing, Mulicber, I think he's bleeding out." She thought briefly of the time the pair of them had cursed her face when she was a first year and felt satisfied.

Everyone followed suit. Remus caught up with her. "Sylvie, they were right, you could be expelled, you could have killed him!"

"They won't expel me, McGonagall loves me, and so does Slughorn, the head of their house. No teacher will believe that I did that to him, not in a million years," she said, not breaking her stride. She knew that she and Remus would be going home that night, they had to be. All she wanted was to be with her mother. She was surprised at her ability to be so cruel, even in the face of the Slytherins' own cruelty, but she didn't have the energy to sort it out.

"I'll tell you one thing," Sirius, who had also caught up to her, murmured. "By the time next term starts, we'll have every Slytherin after our blood."

She glanced up at him. He wanted to kiss her, she could see it in his eyes. Finally, she understood his temper and his violence. One can only stand by and take abuse for so long, and it didn't matter from whom. Sylvie had always been ferociously defensive of those she loved, and she'd always had a reckless streak, even if she never called it that before. She had come to terms with the dark side of her personality that had existed her entire life within the span of a few hours, and she wasn't sure she liked it, but she kept that to herself.

"Let them talk," she said, aware that the others were still awestruck, and that they'd probably never look at her the same way again. She was starting to feel like herself again, panicking slightly, her words wavering, but she spoke with conviction nonetheless. "They'll all be after out blood eventually anyway, with the way things are going. That's more than obvious now. So let them talk, and let them come."