This question plagued Adie continuously in the week
following Narcissa’s departure; she was subdued, barely eating, not
concentrating in class, and forgetting homework. The teachers were fairly
lenient towards her though, even McGonagall – they all knew what had happened,
and hardly condoned it themselves. Adrianna would pick herself up soon enough,
but having her friend wrenched from her so suddenly had hit her hard. It had
also made her future seem far more like a reality; one day soon, that would be
Adie, dragged off for a lifetime sentence with her allotted husband. But could
it work? Could Adie find some semblance of happiness in that life?
The Marauders didn’t think so. Almost two weeks had passed since Cissy’s departure when Sirius deemed it acceptable to pick up his conversation with Adie. He found her in the Library, hunched over a thick book – Sirius tapped her on the shoulder. Adrianna’s eyes leapt from the page to the boy in front of her; a small smile graced her lips for the first time in a fortnight.
Sirius wasted no time in getting straight to his point.
“It’ll be you next, you know, being taken away from the small, protected life you’ve built for yourself here. There would be no more Remus, Emmeline, James, and certainly no Lily,” Sirius resisted the urge to add his name to that list, to see how the girl would react to the idea of never seeing him again.
Adie frowned, her gaze switching to the window across from her. She wasn’t really in the mood for this conversation; when they’d talked before, everything had seemed much clearer. The way Sirius had spoken had made her begin to believe that she might actually leave her pure-blood life. Now everything was confusion once more.
“Yes, I know it will. And I’m fully aware of what my future will entail. But is it really what anyone wants? It wasn’t what Cissy wanted, I know that, but she’ll be happy enough.”
Sirius sighed, and took a seat next to Adie.
“But you aren’t Narcissa,” he said softly. “She may have had a bit of a panic then, but ninety-nine per cent of the time, she’s fitted in with them. She’s never had the identity crisis that you have – the way you’ve never quite been accepted. It’s not the same situation.”
“I could exist though, it might not be so awful,” Adie’s voice was small, unsure of what she was saying. “I’d mostly be left to my own devices – I can handle cleaning mansions, and playing with kids. I’d probably spend most of my days with Narcissa anyway…”
Sirius’ natural passion began to show through now, as he started to get frustrated with Adie’s thoughts. “That’s not the life you want. You could exist like that, yes – but you wouldn’t live, not properly. A normal, happy life is within your grasp, Adie, all you have to do is take it. Don’t settle for that mundane, sad existence just to try and please your family. They might finally be happy with you, but you’ll never forgive yourself.”
Remus and James followed up on Sirius’ point throughout the week, hissing inspiring words of encouragement to Adie in lessons and talking with her at breaks.
However, Adrianna was also receiving some other input on the situation.
“I think Cissy was right,” Reg remarked, as the pair lounged in the Common Room one evening. “It could be a lot worse. We’re both going to have to do it; it’s not the life I’d choose either, far too constrained. But, it won’t be too bad. You might not get stuck with a terrible, Muggle-hating guy. What if you got put with someone decent – who was kind of like you – you’ll probably just live a fairly normal life, Adrianna.”
Adie just shrugged. She felt a little under attack from the opinions flowing in from all sides about what was, at the end of the day, her life.
“Yeah, that could happen, but it’s not likely – after all, what ‘decent’ guys do we know? I’ll probably end up with Rabastan…” she shuddered thinking of the younger Lestrange brother.
Reg shifted slightly on the sofa, avoiding Adie’s gaze. “Maybe not…”
Adie, however, missed this last remark; she stood and stretched, yawning to herself, and headed to her room. She waved a quick goodnight to Reg as she walked off, still oblivious to his discomfort.
Sirius was utterly perplexed. He could not understand how Adie’s mind had been changed so quickly – during their conversation, that freezing weekend, she’d seemed surer of herself. He’d felt her open up more, and begin to realise that she could say “no” to the life planned out for her. She’d been about to join him, follow him. Or at least, that’s what Sirius had thought. Yet now, she appeared as resigned to her fate as ever.
He just didn’t understand. Until he saw her, one morning, with Regulus; they were sat at the Slytherin table, conversing. Adie had such a concerned look on her face and Reg was talking to her earnestly, with forceful hand gestures. Suddenly it clicked. It was him, persuading her to accept it all.
As the pair walked out of the Great Hall, Sirius stood up, swinging his legs over the bench. He followed them out, on their way to lessons, ignoring James’ queries.
Hearing footsteps behind them, Regulus and Adrianna turned; Adie smiling widely at her friend, Regulus scowling, and shooting his brother a dark look.
“Hey, Sirius,” Adie said, happily. “Where are you off too – don’t you have Muggle Studies?”
Sirius nodded, directing his gaze towards her, instead of his grim-faced brother. “Yeah, I just wanted a word with you, before Transfiguration.”
Regulus huffed, rolling his eyes. Adie didn’t miss this, and elbowed her friend slightly.
“What about, Sirius?” she asked.
“Don’t listen to him, Adie,” Sirius hadn’t meant for his words to sound so pleading, but he couldn’t hide the note of slight desperateness in voice. “He’s too cowardly to ever leave, and he’ll drag you down with him.”
Regulus’ impatience now turned to real irritation, and before Adrianna could say a word, Reg was angrily retorting to his brother’s comments.
“It’s none of your business,” Regulus practically snarled, turning Sirius’ face to thunder.
The older boy squared up to his little brother. “You’re being selfish, and you know it! She could be free and happy, and you’re just trying to hold her back because you know you don’t have the same strength as we do.”
“You don’t even know her! I’ve been there with, for, Adrianna for years. A few months of chumminess, and you’re trying to advise her on life-changing decisions? I don’t think you’re best-equipped for that.”
Sirius was about growl a response, when he was cut off by a furious Adrianna.
“I don’t think it’s up to either of you – it’s my life! I’m sick, and tired of everyone giving me their opinions on what I should, or shouldn’t do; this is my choice to make. Neither of you know what’s best for me, neither of you know me – stop kidding yourselves, and grow-up!”
With that, the angry blonde stalked up the stairs, leaving the Black brothers standing in the Entrance Hall, rather shocked by her outburst. Adie’s infamous temper hadn’t reared its head in quite a while.
Regulus was first to recover, sprinting up the staircase after her.
“Adrianna, please, I’m sorry,” he gasped as he leapt on to the staircase beside her. She paused in her furious striding, not looking at him but clearly listening to what he had to say.
“I know it’s not my place, but… I just want you to know that I think you can be happy. I want you to remember that, whatever happens. There is hope in that life – you might not find it as hopeless as you think -” He stopped suddenly.
Slowly, Adrianna turned to look at him, eye brows raised. There was a sort of knowledge in Reg’s voice, like he was preparing her for something. “… Remember that, whatever happens.” His words echoed in her mind. Little scraps of memory returned to her; Reg looking uncomfortable as she lamented over her future; his sudden attempts to persuade her to accept her fate. He’d never had much of an opinion before; in fact Adie had always thought he was for her “doing a Sirius”, and getting away from her family. She had thought he would quite admire that. Yet since the Christmas holidays, he’d been advising her against it – trying to make her see the positives in following the path her parents had picked out for her.
“Reg, what’s going on? What do you know, what aren’t you telling me?”
He looked away. “I’m sorry, you’ll probably find out soon enough. I am really sorry, I know it’s not what you want but…”
And with that, Regulus paused, carefully stopping himself from saying too much. He walked away, down a corridor to his next lesson, leaving Adie confused, and scared.
She knew what was coming. She should have acted sooner. Her parents had finished finalising the details of her future, hadn’t they? Soon, very soon, she’d have been pushed too far in, to ever get back out again. Her choice was about to be taken away from her.