It's funny—I've got pages and pages detailing scenes, but elaborating on them is so hard, you'd think I hadn't written any notes at all. This chapter was extremely difficult to write, but I hope it doesn't show.
And I changed my pen name, I was getting bored with all the "spice" stuff, so I named both my accounts after His Dark Materials.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
September 1st, 1971
Remus shut his eyes as his parents walked away from him, leaving him alone in the middle of King's Cross, standing beside his loaded luggage cart and struggling to keep his hands steady.
He couldn't erase the image. That black gaze. That suspicion.
It would be a miracle if she let him get away with it—with whatever she'd seen as she'd stared at his family. He wouldn't pretend to fathom the mind of Blair Snape, but he knew he'd been foolish to think he could hide from friends, least of all her.
Blair picked her way across the Common Room alone on the first Tuesday night of the term. Evan had gotten a detention from the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lynch—who had taken over for Professor Marwick, who had retired after only one year of teaching because she apparently hadn't realized that young children could be so energetic—for hexing James Potter in the corridor after dinner the previous evening. She had intended to shut herself up in the dormitory, perhaps chatting with Lily on the Instant Note, enclosing herself in her bed hangings and casting a silencing charm to avoid Alecto Carrow and Adaline Greengrass, who had a habit of gossiping nastily on their own beds, but was stopped halfway to the dormitory doors by a hand on her shoulder.
"Blair," said Lucius Malfoy lazily, immediately steering her away from the doors and to a pair of armchairs set away from the general hubbub of the Common Room, towards the furthest and darkest corner, a place the fire rarely reached, "We haven't talked in a while. Come, let's catch up."
Blair didn't put up much of a fight—it wasn't as if Malfoy had ever actually threatened her—certainly, he'd given her decent advice (keep your head down, little girl), though he had made it clear he wanted her to change her tune on the issue of blood status. And creating a scene would only draw attention to them, to herself, and it was better to have a quiet conversation with Lucius Malfoy than to fight with him under the eyes of every single person in the Common Room.
He pushed her into the left chair and settled himself in the right. Then, with far more flair than was really necessary, he pressed the tops of his fingers together and eyed her over them, that ever-present smirk playing at his mouth.
"Had a good holiday, then?"
She stared blankly at him.
It had been odd, their relationship since her arrival at Hogwarts. At first, he'd been oddly protective and, making good on promises he'd made to her when she had been very young, had seemed keen to take her under his wing. Then, after giving her a Christmas gift and going out of his way to greet her in corridors, he'd fallen silent during her second term—around the time, she realized now, that Bellatrix Black had turned her interests elsewhere.
Blair frowned irritably. What was it with these Slytherin boys and their bizarre desire to keep her safe?
At least Remus knew when to leave well enough alone.
"Lovely," she said flatly and his smirk grew tenfold.
"In a mood, are we?" Lucius leaned back and slid his hands along the leather of his chair, "Really, Blair, the only times I think I've ever seen you happy are the times I've watched you lurking about at the lake with that Gryffindor muggle born—what's her name? Evans? The point is—perhaps you shouldn't be so utterly foul to the members of your own house."
Blair tried to hide the flinch—he knew about her relationship with Lily…of course he knew, she should have realized that, he never seemed to be watching, but he always was—but the triumph in his eyes told her she'd failed miserably.
"What do you want?" she asked neutrally after a moment, "Is this another warning? I'll do what I please, thank you."
Lucius almost snorted—almost, because, Blair thought with no small amount of disgust, a Malfoy would never snort, "No, no, I realized that, which was why I so kindly steered Bellatrix's eyes away from you."
Blair laughed coldly, thinking for a moment that she had the upper hand, "Please. I've Evan to thank for that."
Those gray eyes flashed—for a moment, the smirk faltered, but then Lucius hitched it firmly back into place and leaned forward slightly, "Certainly, your friend played some part. But Bellatrix doesn't place much stock in what little boys tell her about little girls. Especially when the little boy is so obviously fond of the little girl. Don't be stupid, Blair, it doesn't suit you."
Two extremely embarrassing things happened in response to this. The first, Blair felt her face heat up more than it had in years—it was undoubtedly a very obvious blush and it had to happen at the worst possible time. She wasn't sure if it was a reaction to Lucius' suddenly unbearable proximity or to what he'd said about Evan, but she knew she couldn't bear to see the vicious glee in that stupid, pointy, albeit handsome face, and so, without thinking about how pathetic it would make her look, she turned her face away entirely and stared out at the Common Room.
It was quiet for a moment. She was sure Lucius was waiting for a reply and she couldn't bear to see his smug expression as he did so. And, she noticed as her eyes darted everywhere but in his direction, Narcissa Black was glaring daggers at their corner. Blair met her gaze for a fraction of a second, then, feeling worse than before, tilted her chin back and studied the ceiling.
"Why do you even care?" she said aggressively, settling on the one thing she'd been wondering for close to a year and a half now—after all, she was just a little second year and he really should not have been paying any attention to her at all and the way she saw it, she'd already embarrassed herself fully and there was no way it could possibly get any worse. She briefly entertained the idea of looking him in the eye to see his reaction, but decided the grubby ceiling and its cobweb shroud were far more interesting.
There was another lengthy pause. Blair longed to look at him, as surely his mask would be down if he had to think so long, but was quite sure she would not be able to control her own face if she did.
"It's not as easy as it seems," Lucius murmured finally. Blair's chin snapped forward so fast she nearly bruised her collarbone, but his expression was painfully blank, she'd missed her chance, "Being me."
"So…" Blair felt very much like a child in that moment. This was not some lazy complaint from a poor little rich boy who felt a little alone in the world. His eyes said that much, not that she could read much passed the wall he'd thrown up, leaving them so blank, she thought he might have turned to stone. But she simply could not understand what he was trying to tell her, only that it was something and that it was very important. Irritation began to rise in her stomach and when she finally opened her mouth, petulance came out: "So. What? You're lonely?" she snorted even as she spoke the words, "Spare me. You're Lucius sodding Malfoy, you're surrounded by admirers, friends—"
She opened her mouth again, but of course nothing came out and all she could do was gawk at him, meeting his eyes this time. Of all the things she'd expected, this was definitely not it. And still, he didn't sound like a spoiled rich boy—but like something else. Something…worried, maybe? Or perhaps a little bitter?
"You—," her voice was very strained when it finally started to work again and she definitely sounded like a confused child now, but was far beyond caring. This was Lucius Malfoy and she had a feeling he hadn't been this exposed in a very long time, "You've got no friends?"
He didn't reply. He continued to stare.
"And—," her tone turned slightly belligerent now and she plowed forward without really thinking about what she was saying, "what, you want me to be your friend? You think I'm a good choice, out of all your little hangers on? Nott and Mulciber and—"
Lucius gazed at her, sitting very still, his back very straight. "I didn't say that," he breathed.
Blair's temper snapped. "Then what? Don't toy with me, Malfoy, I don't care if you think I'm just some stupid kid, I—"
"What I mean to say is," though he spoke very quietly, he silenced her effectively, "you could be."
Blair, who had jerked forward in her moment of rage, sank back into her armchair and blinked rapidly, "I don't understand," she admitted furiously, "what the hell you're talking about."
"No," Lucius' attention slipped sideways. Blair, following his gaze, once again found Narcissa Black, though she was now talking adamantly to one of her friends, a pinched, frustrated expression marring her pretty face, "No," he repeated, "You're very young. Sometimes I forget."
For a long moment, they both stared at Narcissa, who was so absorbed in her own conversation, she didn't notice.
"You wear your emotions on your sleeve," said Lucius suddenly.
Blair scowled, "No. I get angry sometimes, but I—"
"You are very expressive," he continued, once again as if she hadn't spoken at all, "It's what I like about you. But it must change, Blair," he finally looked back at her, his gray eyes colder than she'd ever seen them. She tried to lean back further without him noticing, "Everything else is. I'm sure you've seen it."
Blair swallowed hard. She had no response. What could she say? The young feeling returned in full force—what did he expect from her? Part of her wondered if she should even try, but she knew she had to speak, he was waiting, she had to say something, she couldn't embarrass herself again—
But then suddenly, Lucius stood up and smiled at her in that same lazy way he had when he'd first dragged her over to this bloody corner to start this bloody conversation. "This was a very nice chat," he said with flourish, "Have a good evening, Blair."
And then, to her absolute disgust and fury and confusion, he left her sitting there, staring and quite unable to think.
Their first Potions lesson of the term inspired several feelings in Lily, though happiness was not one of them.
The first was extreme irritation.
"Welcome back!" Slughorn cried the moment they entered the dungeon, hovering uncertainly, as there was no sign as to where they were meant to sit and they were unsure whether they would be paired up again, "Well, take your usual seats!"
Lily nearly groaned aloud, but chose the nearest seat to the door and sank into it. Alecto Carrow looked as if she'd swallowed something particularly slimy.
Then, of course, Blair and Remus slid into the seats behind her, muttering civil greetings to one another and, she saw when she chanced a glance backwards, smiling, however weakly, as they unpacked their cauldron and ingredients. Alecto stomped over to join Lily then, shooting her a look that suggested she'd be hexed for saying even hello and flinging her bag onto the table, nearly knocking Lily's off the edge.
Then, after several minutes of copying notes on Swelling Solutions, Lily experienced a great deal of impatience.
As they were partners and thus literally forced to work together for the sakes of their grades, she had to wait as Alecto took a deliberately long time to prepare the ingredients. She watched with growing irritation as the other girl skinned, chopped and mashed with exaggerated slowness and smirked all the while.
Behind them, Remus and Blair were well into the brewing phase and he was telling her a story about a mutated chipmunk he'd found eating some of his father's recycled potions in his backyard over the summer in a low voice.
Finally, Alecto tipped the first set of ingredients into their boiling water, turning to the second pile of roots and animal parts and lifting her knife almost lazily.
Blair snorted at something Remus had said, albeit quietly. Lily was sure she was the only one, other than Remus, who'd heard.
"We need to add the next ingredients in seven minutes," she warned Alecto testily. Her partner spared her a careless glance.
"Relax, mudblood," she said, "I'll have them ready."
Lily didn't know what this meant, though something in Alecto's voice told her it was not a compliment. She didn't notice either that the conversation behind them had cut off suddenly, though she was vaguely aware of what she thought was a lull in the talking. She turned back to her potion, frowning deeply and stirring its contents for a moment, when she heard Remus hiss, "Don't."
She glanced backwards.
The look on Blair's face—she was staring at the back of Alecto's head, her lip curling, her eyes flashing, her cheeks losing what little color they usually had—was one of the ugliest Lily had ever seen. Perhaps it was only rivaled to the expression she'd seen over the summer, while confessing Petunia's foul behavior, the hatred, the disgust, the very obvious lack of control—she'd been so miserable herself that she hadn't taken the time to examine it then, but found she couldn't look away from the violence now—Remus was clearly holding Blair by the wrists, twisted very obviously towards her in his stool, keeping her hands down in her lap and out of sight. But Lily did not have to wonder—her friend had clearly gone for her wand—
Remus caught her eye and shook his head, leaning closer to Blair and whispering frantically, "Blair, not here, not here—we're in a classroom, Slughorn!"
"Foul," Blair snarled under her breath, ignoring him, "Can't call people—that word—it's not right—"
"I know," Remus breathed, his words disturbing her hair. Lily stared. "I know. But not here. Calm down."
Blair opened her mouth to reply and Lily could tell, just by the way her jaw set and her struggling became more pronounced, that she was going to start shouting—then their eyes met for a fraction of a second and Lily, even as Remus pushed Blair's hands further into her lap, shook her head as much as she dared as she sat beside Alecto.
Obviously mudblood had been an insult, and a bad one. Blair's vicious expression faltered for a second. Around them, class continued—Lily didn't understand how, but apparently nobody had noticed what had just happened—and she watched her best friend relax in Remus' grip.
"Here," said Alecto, as oblivious as anyone to what had just happened behind her, and tipped the new ingredient into their cauldron, "Satisfied?"
Lily held Blair's stare for one more second before turning to her partner, "Yeah," she muttered and stirred the potion absently.
Remus saw Alecto Carrow in the library later with Adaline Greengrass looking suitably un-hexed, but he figured it was only a matter of time before Blair retaliated. He briefly considered hurrying back to the Common Room and borrowing the Instant Note, perhaps to get a feel for what kind of punishment Blair had in store for Carrow, but then decided against it—she wasn't stupid. She wouldn't do anything to get herself expelled.
Besides, it wasn't as if he thought her entirely out of line.
So instead of rushing off to find Lily or Blair herself, he wandered in the general direction of the Owlery, reaching into his bag to check if he had any spare parchment—perhaps he would write to his mother—
A crack sounded to his right, startlingly loud in the quiet of the corridor and yet muffled by a door set deep into the stone wall—a boy's bathroom. It was followed immediately by shouting, one of the voices vaguely familiar as it echoed through the walls.
Without really thinking about it, Remus immediately swerved to enter the bathroom—there was something like a tunnel leading to the main room, littered with bits of toilet paper and wet with what he hoped was merely condensation—though why, as they were three floors up and nowhere near the lake…
He burst into the larger room to find James and Evan Rosier with their wands trained on each other's faces and their breath coming in violent bursts. Both turned to look at him, James blinked and Remus returned the gesture, but Rosier reacted in seconds, swinging his wand around, his mouth moving—
Remus ducked as a jet of purple light flew in his direction. He heard James yelling, "Oi!" and then there was another sharp crack and both of them began to shout hexes faster than they could cast them.
"Ablattero! Despius! Libaugeo! Appicus! Gelesco! Singulto! "
Remus shielded his eyes against the burst of magic that managed to escape the wands, reaching for his own and—
One of James' spells found its mark. Rosier staggered backwards, his hand flying to his upper arm, where the magic had struck him—
The Slytherin opened his mouth, his expression livid, only to let loose a loud, spectacular hiccup, a hiccup that shook his entire body and could only be described as the most painful sound Remus had ever heard.
There was a very awkward pause.
"P—hic—Potter, you hic—I'll hic—," Furious and apparently unable to finish the sentence without extreme discomfort, Rosier swung his wand back towards James—
The wand flew from Rosier's hand and landed in a sink. All three of them stared after it before Rosier rounded furiously on Remus, "Lupin, hic you prat!" he snarled, or attempted to snarl, "I'm hic in pain, hic I think I have hic a right to—!"
But then he trailed off, his eyes on the entrance to the tunnel Remus had come through moments before. He and James turned to look and both immediately dropped their wand arms to their sides.
A tall boy, Remus recognized him from evenings in the Common Room and thought he might be a fifth year and a prefect, though at the moment he couldn't remember his name, had just entered the bathroom and was looking at the scene with something like mild amusement.
"Hic—Prewett," Rosier started in on him without a moment's hesitation, "Potter hic jinxed me, you're a prefect hic, you've got to hic—"
"Seems you've jinxed him too," Gideon Prewett—one of the twins, Remus realized—said lightly, gesturing at James. Remus only then noticed that he had not spoken since he'd disarmed Rosier and saw that his lips had swollen to the size of bananas. Smirking, Prewett took out his wand—he flicked it in James' general direction, muttering what was obviously the counter jinx, and the lips immediately began to deflate. Then he turned Rosier, waving and muttering, and the other boy's continuous stream of hiccups cut off abruptly. "Right, then," he continued, "Rosier's right, I am a prefect, so I could put you in detention—," both Rosier and James opened their mouths in horror, but Prewett ignored them, "but I'm sure this was just a misunderstanding, so I'm going to let it slide just this once," for a moment, his mild expression flickered to one more serious, "Understand?"
Rosier nodded. James mumbled something that sounded like, "Yeah, whatever."
"Lupin," Prewett turned to him then and he started, "why don't you and Potter leave first, just so they won't be tempted?"
Blinking at this random knowledge of his name and assuming it could only be related to the sprawling and impressive reputations James and Sirius had managed to build for themselves, he nodded and glanced at James. His friend shot one last look of loathing at Rosier before following him out of the bathroom.
When they were a corridor away, Remus decided it was safe to ask, "What happened?"
"He's a prat," James replied stiffly, his expression very sour indeed, "Walking around, acting like he's so talented—"
Remus bit his lip—Rosier was a lot of things, foul to Gryffindors being one of them, but he'd never known the boy to be arrogant. Though, admittedly, James was his potions partner…it was just that he'd always assumed, merely based on the fact that Rosier was Blair's friend…
"So…" he said cautiously, "That's it?"
"Yeah," James snapped, "Why?"
Remus blinked rapidly—for some reason, the idea of voicing his opinion (that is, that attacking a person just because of dislike and without provocation wasn't exactly okay) made him extremely uncomfortable. The words stuck in his throat.
"No reason," he muttered finally.
Later, wrapped in blankets and staring at the ceiling, Remus felt something like shame. After all, James was his friend and surely he would respect Remus' differing opinions. One little disagreement wouldn't ruin their friendship.
But then, there was that little voice in the back of his head, the paranoid one that made him wonder what Blair thought of his family and made him sneak out of the Common Room with increasing stealth each month—
Don't give him any reason to doubt his friendship with you. Because if he finds out, it'll just make it easier for him to walk away—
He rolled over, feeling disgusted with himself.
How are you? How is Tobias? He spent more time around the house this summer—is he still?
Everything's fairly quiet around here—I haven't had much access to the Prophet, so I haven't been able to keep up with everything that's been going on. Evan and I borrow copies we find around the Common Room, but it doesn't happen often and there's rarely any important news. Does this mean that things have quieted down? Do we miss the big articles? Or do you think they're just not reporting any of it? That's Evan's opinion, anyway.
I miss you. I plan to see you in December, unless something comes up?
The pair of them entered the boy's dormitory at close to ten in the evening on a Tuesday. Blair was very tired, Evan could tell, but he didn't comment. She seemed moodier than usual, she'd been avoiding her own dormitory and, he'd noticed, she hadn't once looked at Alecto Carrow since the girl had tripped spectacularly while leaving the Great Hall three days before and come up with a hideously bloody lip. He hadn't asked about that either, but something told him it hadn't been the accident it had appeared to be and that Blair, as irritable as she was, was feeling guilty about it.
Avery was the only other one in the room, but that seemed to be the norm whenever he took Blair to his bed—
To his dormitory lately. Not to his bed.
They were twelve.
He was something of an oddity, Edward Avery, when it came to socializing—to friends. Macnair, Carrow and Dolohov were particular friends and, while Avery often joined them when they lingered around the fire in the Common Room and wandered down by the lake, he also had a tendency to break off and spend hours upon hours in isolation—the library, the dormitory, Evan had even found him shoved into an alcove behind a suit of armor more than once. And on every single one of these occasions, Avery had his nose buried in large, almost ancient looking texts the titles of which Evan did not know the languages of, let alone understand.
Every time they stumbled upon him, Evan always waited for Avery to glance at them, greet them, perhaps aim a snide remark at one or both of them. But as usual, the other boy ignored them as they crossed the room to Evan's four poster, absorbed in his newest antique tome, his dark eyes flying across the page, propped up against his pillows, his legs crossed at the ankles.
Evan and Blair slid onto his bed and opened their bags—he had a Charms essay to finish, she was nose first in a Potions book Slughorn had lent her. They fell into their work without comment, sitting side by side on his pillows and leaning against his headboard.
For close to an hour, there was silence. Then—
"That was a nice little trip Alecto had the other day, wasn't it?"
Perhaps because it was so unusual for Avery to speak during the hours the three of them spent cooped up in the dormitory or maybe because none of them had so much as twitched a page for at least fifteen minutes, but Blair jumped nearly a foot in the air and reached wildly for her wand at his words. Evan closed his eyes and put a hand to his chest. He had managed to stay in one place, but he was still having heart palpitations. Avery snorted.
"On edge, are we?"
Blair shot him one of the ugliest looks Evan had ever seen.
"Piss off you little rodent."
Under normal circumstances, had it been anyone else, Evan would have laughed—the word rodent described Avery better than any other, with his beady little eyes and his short arms and legs. But as it had been Avery that Blair was insulting, this was perhaps going a bit far, because though he didn't know the titles of the books his dorm mate read with such devotion, he had his suspicions about what they held. Dark magic, most likely, and of the violent sort. But before Evan had time to tense or even anticipate retaliation for this comment, Avery began laughing, and far harder than the insult required.
Blair exchanged an uncomfortable glance with him as the boy on the other bed dissolved into mirth so complete, tears began to roll down his face in droves.
"Rodent," Avery gasped, clutching his throat, "Rodent."
"I don't see what's so funny about the word rodent," Evan muttered, more to Blair than to Avery, but the latter's laughter reduced all the same.
"It's not funny. I just always thought Blair would be capable of better," he shot one of his best smirks in her direction and she bristled. "Though, after that little performance in the Great Hall, I guess I shouldn't be surprised."
Blair scowled deeply at him, "What're you on about now?"
But, of course, she knew. Evan knew too. It was clear Avery was accusing her of attacking Alecto, and besides, she wasn't doing a very good job of hiding her feelings—her knuckles were white where she gripped the blankets, after all. He leaned around her to get a better look at Avery's expression, but the other boy was still grinning wickedly at Blair, his eyes shining with a bizarre short of superiority.
"All I'm saying is," he breathed, his voice so quiet it barely carried across the space between the beds, "I would have done it to her face—"
"Shove it," Blair snarled, lurching forward suddenly to block Evan's view of Avery completely, "If I'd wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it, you—"
"Right," Avery cooed, "It's good to know you're a bit of a coward, Blair—"
Evan had been in the process of shoving his books aside to get a better perspective on the situation, but then, at this, Blair moved again, uncovering his line of sight. He would've been pleased, had she not pulled her wand on Avery and pointed it directly at the cover of his book, which rested across his chest and over his heart.
For once, the smirk had vanished off of Avery's smug face.
"Right," Blair hissed, sounding quite out of control. That was the thing about her—one second she was quiet and passive, the next, her wand was out and she was making venomous, violent threats. It was absolutely no good, especially not in Slytherin House—"Right, because I tripped her up a bit and didn't use Dark Magic, is that it, Edward? Perhaps I should've cursed her—maybe forced her blood out through her ears or something? Do you honestly think nobody knows what's in those bloody books you're reading all the time?"
Avery's expression was now so blank, Evan was surprised Blair could stand to look at it. It was a very uncomfortable, his own eyes couldn't stay fixed on it for long. But his friend held her ground so firmly, he couldn't help but be proud, even as he stared at Avery's hands, waiting for them to twitch towards his wand.
"Of course I know that you know what's in my books," Avery murmured, "You stare at them often enough. Envious."
"Suspicious," Blair spat.
And that smirk returned full force.
Evan braced himself, because surely she would curse him for even suggesting—but then Blair spun so quickly, her braid lashed out and caught him on the cheek. He winced as she shoved Slughorn's book back into her bag and dragged it from his bed.
"I'll see you later, Evan," she snarled at him, and promptly stormed out of the dormitory.
Lily snuck up to the Owlery to do it. She was afraid she'd chicken out if she didn't post it immediately.
It took ages to start—she pulled out the parchment and sank against the rough stone wall opposite the door, squinting through the darkness of the tower and listening to the low hooting that rose up all around her. Feathers rustled from somewhere over her head and several owls clacked their beaks. She could feel hundreds of large, round eyes watching her struggle for the words—
She stared at the greeting for a long moment. Even her handwriting looked uncertain.
Dear Petunia, Tuney,
Was that too intimate? They'd been that way once, years ago, but now they were strangers in every sense of the word. Petunia didn't know her anymore. Petunia didn't seem to want to know her either.
I had some spare time, so I thought I'd write to you.
Was that too casual? How long had it been since they'd had a civil conversation?
…none sprung immediately to mind. That spoke volumes.
I don't know what to say to you anymore.
She paused, quill suspended inches from the parchment, staring at the last sentence.
I meant what I said at the cousins. You hate me because you couldn't come too. And I really am sorry about that.
She should stop, probably. Think it through. But words were flowing now, so why bother? She'd talk herself out of it if she stopped anyway.
I miss you. You're still my sister, even if you do think I'm a freak. But I'm not, because there are hundreds and hundreds of other students here, just like me, so I'm really not that unique.
I want to try, Tuney. I don't want you to hate me and I'm scared that I might start hating you. I'm not saying that we have to spend loads of time together or that you have to watch me do magic all the time or anything. Maybe letters, sometimes? Just to talk?
I'm not Blair, you know. I don't blame you for being angry at me.
Lily drew the quill back from the parchment so quickly, ink splattered her cheek. Her heart was suddenly beating very quickly. Part of her wanted to tear the letter to shreds—how could she have written such a thing?
I hope to hear from you soon,
She hadn't written anything that wasn't the truth, after all.
"I saw you talking to Malfoy in the library the other day."
Blair wasn't sure, but she thought that Lily's too casual tone might be hiding an accusation.
"Yeah," she turned around—she'd been in the lead—and frowned, "And?"
She also wasn't sure why she felt so defensive, out of nowhere, though she figured it was probably because the comment had been completely unexpected—the three of them (her, Lily and Remus) had been talking about Dumbledore's recent absence from the staff table, after all, and how that had anything to do with Lucius Malfoy—
"I thought you hated him," Lily said flatly—not a question. Just a statement. Remus glanced between them, his expression inscrutable.
Blair wasn't quite sure what to say to this. She had harbored a great deal of dislike for Malfoy in the beginning and she'd made no secret of it, but now…
It wasn't that the conversation they'd had—the one about friends and whatever other weird subtext had been there—hadn't changed things, exactly. It was that he'd exposed himself and she'd seen something under that stupid, arrogant mask he wore around the school—not something attractive, mind you, or anything that made her want to be his friend or something equally ridiculous. Just something else. Something she didn't hate. Not exactly.
But how could she explain that to Lily, who feared Malfoy almost as much as she didn't trust him? Or to Remus, who was now eyeing her with something like understanding?
Blair turned her frown away from the pair of them, spinning back towards the lake and stalking away from the branches of the Forbidden Forest, under which they had been wandering for the last half hour. It was a Saturday, but it was also quite chilly, so only a few students, most of them older, were walking the grounds as they were. As she surveyed the lake, glittering the weak November sunshine, Blair adjusted her scarf to avoid the necessity of responding to Lily's words.
"He ignored you for most of last year," said Remus quietly after a moment. Blair turned right back around to stare at him. Lily was blinking rapidly at his side.
"Yeah, but—," the redhead began, but Remus continued to speak.
"I think it's Blair's choice who she talks to in the library."
It was Blair's turn to blink, as she'd had a retort ready and waiting on the tip of her tongue for whatever Lily had been about to say, but Remus had more or less voiced it for her. The other girl flushed scarlet.
"I wasn't trying to say—what I meant was—you were the one who said he was dangerous! That first time on the train, remember? And," she rounded on Blair, frowning deeply, "You said that I should stay away from the older Slytherins because they were mad and dangerous and hate muggles and muggle borns! And your mother's married to a muggle and you're spending time with Malfoy like it's—"
"Spending time with Malfoy?" Blair spat, her temper rising to the surface—it had been doing that a lot lately, ever since she'd heard Carrow call Lily a mudblood, though it had aimed itself mostly at Avery—she supposed it was only a matter of time before her anger started to take itself out on people other than that foul little rat—"I'm not spending time with Malfoy. I've talked to him maybe three times this year! What—I can't have a conversation with members of my own house?"
Lily's eyes flashed dangerously, "I'm just going off what you said!"
"It's not as black and white as that!"
"You sure made it sound that way last year!"
Remus stepped between them. "Stop it," he said flatly, so close to Blair that his breath warmed the tip of her nose.
It was only then that she realized she and Lily had been stepping closer and closer to each other, their fists shaking at their sides, their voices rising as the argument escalated. She blinked, and so did Lily, and they both took a step back—she wasn't sure about her friend, but Blair suddenly felt very ashamed and more than a little childish. Remus smiled slightly and stepped sideways, so they stood in a sort of triangle, and placed his hands on both their shoulders.
"This summer, my father didn't tell me much about what's happening outside of Hogwarts," he told them, "Almost nothing, actually. He probably thinks I'm too young—we probably are. But he did say that—," he paused, as if looking for the words, "He said we needed to stay together, you know? That we need to stop fighting with each other here and start—"
Remus stopped. Lily was staring at him, looking slightly pale, her expression one of nervous anticipation. Blair swallowed hard.
"And start fighting them out there?" she finished for him quietly.
Lily frowned, "We're twelve."
Blair knew she would sound a bit arrogant, but she said it anyway.
Remus shook his head and tightened his fingers on her shoulder, "All I'm saying is—we're friends. We need to remember that. And one conversation," he glanced meaningfully at Lily, "doesn't mean anything."
There was a silence. Blair knew, just by looking at her face, that Lily still felt just as stupid as she did about what had just happened. Perhaps it was because of this that she didn't let her friend speak when she opened her mouth, looking apologetic—"No, forget it."—though perhaps, though she squashed the thought as she shrugged Remus' hand off her shoulder and turned back toward the lake shore, it had been because, for the first time in a long time, she hadn't been able to predict what Lily was going to say and for a moment, it had scared her more than she cared to admit.
Things are very quiet here. I saw Mrs. Evans at the market the other day, she said that Lily is doing well. That is very good to hear. Your father has been working more.
As for the Prophet, they aren't reporting many attacks, so I honestly don't know what's happening. I do know that Diagon Alley has been very nervous lately and my customers have been placing orders for more and more antidotes. Based on what I can see, I'd say things are getting worse. Please be careful.
I will see you in December. I love and miss you more than I think you know.
Thanks for reading! :)