The Grass Is Always Greener

Chapter 25

Dave engulfed Adie into a bear-hug, swallowing back the tears that hovered in the corners of his eyes. She returned his embrace equally as fiercely, trying to convey her gratitude to him for everything he had done for her in the past week. Her friend had stayed with her after helping her escape her ivory tower and was finally waving her off, back to school.

“What are you going to do, Dave?” Adie asked, trying to distract herself from the goodbye. “You can’t go back to the Greengrasses.”

He shrugged; he had not thought that far ahead yet. Instead, Dave and Adie had spent every day wandering Diagon Alley in the mild spring weather. It had been a very happy week for the pair – avoiding the troubles that they both knew would soon hit them.

“What about you, princess? Don’t let them push you around or try to change your mind at school.” Dave had been fretting a lot about how Callie and the other pure-bloods would react, especially at school where Adie couldn’t just run away from the anger.

She smiled, “I don’t think that’ll be a problem. You see, at home, I only had you and Gillie whereas at Hogwarts, I have a whole pack of people who I know will defend me.”

The man couldn’t help returning her beam, her complacency warming his heart. He sincerely hoped that this would be enough to get Adie through what was sure to be a very tough time for her at school.

“Promise me you’ll write, Dave. Let me know that you’re doing okay, and you’ve found some new, better work?” Adie’s face had turned to concern now. Dave had never written to her at Hogwarts before, worried Adie would get into trouble for interacting with a servant. Now he could happily assure her that she could expect weekly letters.

The farewell could be delayed no more and Adie finally climbed on to the train, shooting one final grin at her best friend. He waved back, a wide smile on his face, as the steam engine chugged into the distance. She’d be alright, Dave knew that for a fact, the hardest part was over now.

The whole journey back to the castle was spent in nervous anticipation for Adie. Primarily, she was concerning herself with telling Lily and Em, the Marauders as she hadn’t written to them to tell them of her news. She could barely believe it herself, let alone try to convey it to others. Part of the reason for concentrating so hard on this thought was to block out the knowledge that she’d also have to see Callie and the other Slytherins. Not to even mention poor Reg – as free as Adie felt, she’d damaged his chances of happiness entirely.

Yet all thoughts of Callie and so on, were pushed from her mind when Adie thought of Sirius. So far she had not stopped to consider his reaction to it all; the anticipation was making her stomach free fall. A large part of her could not wait to see his face and was so happy with herself for following in his footsteps – the other half cursed the girlish butterflies she was experiencing. The fact that her pointless feelings for Sirius could not now be crushed, was one of the few disadvantages of her decision.

By the time the train pulled in at Hogsmeade, Adie had imagined around thirty different scenarios and conversations with Sirius, telling him of her escape. Most of them seemed to end with a passionate kiss, although somehow Adie doubted that would ever become a reality.

She and the three other students who had visited home that Easter rattled up to the castle in a very silent coach ride. Adie wondered briefly what occupied the minds of the others. An awful mixture of excitement, dread, and nausea flooded her as they reached the gates of the castle and she could see a flame-haired figure and one male waiting by the doors. Some of her tension dissipated when she recognised that it was Remus there to greet her – after all, Adie thought to herself, why would Sirius be there?

Lily skipped up to her best friend as she walked towards the castle, bag in hand. The redhead pulled Adie into a warm hug and dragged her into the Entrance Hall, wittering about how much she’d missed her, and what her and Em had done that week.

“But on a scale of one to ten, how awful were your parents? And how awful is the year with Walburga going to be?” Lily grabbed Adie’s arm in sympathy at this point. Remus pulled a sympathetic face and the trio settled down on a quieter staircase for a catch-up.

Adie smiled to herself before answering. “What year with Walburga? Lils, Remus, I don’t plan on spending any more time with any of them from now on. I did it – I left my family. I couldn’t do it anymore, stand by people like that or become like them. I had no choice.”

Remus’ jaw dropped while Lily could only make a squealing sort of noise. Adie laughed at their reactions before giving them the full story, only leaving out the exact trigger behind her departure. She wasn’t quite sure she wanted to reveal that just yet; Adie was also cautious of provoking her father any further. Her quitting the family would be shameful enough, let alone the revelation of him being a Death-Eater.

“Wait until Sirius hears this!” Remus exclaimed once Adie had finished her tale. “He’s going to… I don’t even know! He’ll be over the moon. I know I am – well done, Adie. You’ve made the right choice; that’s just not who you were.”

Lily nodded, “It must have been hard but, hey, think of it as an investment into your future happiness – because you will be so much better-off in ten years’ time.”

“Screw ten years, I’m so much better-off now,” Adie grinned.

The trio of friends carried on discussing the news, unable to keep the smiles off of their faces when the final three members of the Marauders rounded the corner. At the sight of Adie back home, all the boys grinned and greeted their friend happily. Adie wasn’t sure how to tell the boys; it was obvious there was something to share with them from the looks on Remus and Lily’s faces. James, Peter, and Sirius all seemed to be looking at her expectantly.

“Well, I don’t know about you guys but I’ve had a sort of eventful half-term,” Adie started, taking a gulp of air to calm her nerves. “I’ve ‘done a Sirius’, so to speak. I’m free from them all – I’ve left.”

The three boys reacted very similarly to the other two; shocked expressions all round, swiftly followed by grins and congratulations. James and Peter grabbed Adie into a huge hug that lifted her off her feet.

“You done good, girl!” James yelled, making Adie dissolve into loud laughter.

When he set her down, Adie couldn’t help but to look over to Sirius. She needed to see his reaction to her news, the most important reaction. Relief and soaring joy filled her as she saw the smile on his lips, the happiness in his eyes.

“Adie… I’m so proud of you.”

A smile curved across her lips, and she could meet his eyes no longer. His pride in her meant more than Adie could ever express; her decision felt more right than ever. They exchanged another delighted look before Lily broke the moment, unwittingly.

“C’mon, Adie, we’ve got tell Em before dinner!”

With that, Adie was torn away from Sirius but as she was yanked up the stairs, he waved goodbye with that grin still on his face.

Emmeline was equally as delighted as the others and the trio of friends sat on Lily’s bed, discussing what this change meant for Adie’s future. While her friends were concerned with the reaction of the Greengrasses, Adie was still a little in denial – she did not want to contemplate this. In an attempt to distract herself from this subject, Adie realised that this was the first time she’d set foot in the Gryffindor Tower. Everything had changed so much, so quickly, Adie could not believe how much of an effect her decision had already had on her life. When she’d packed her bags, run out of that door, she hadn’t been aware of just how different everything would be. This freedom was beautiful and Adie refused to let thoughts of the consequences with her family cloud her happiness, no matter how naïve that was.

However, she could not avoid her Slytherin peers forever and dinner that night finally bought them face-to-face. Adie left Lily and Em reluctantly, both girls hugging their friend before she left. She could tell that they, along with the boys, would be watching the Slytherin table carefully to make sure she was alright. As Adie made her way over to the emerald-clad table, their silence and hostile glares were almost enough to make her turn back again. But she didn’t. Instead Adie slipped on to the bench, a little way from the end of the rest of the group. Dolohov and Yaxley, who sat closest to Adie, turned to give her disdainful glares.

The rest of the Great Hall, Adie’s friends aside, seemed completely unaware of the tension. How could any of them have had any idea of the way Adie’s life had been turned upside down?

No one made any move to interact with the outcast throughout the meal and, for her part, Adie kept to herself; she could not even bring herself to seek out Regulus’ eye. She would talk to him that evening, she had decided. She had no idea what he would be feeling right now but Adie hoped he could support her decision as well as Sirius had.

The fall-out of her actions came at the end of dinner. People started to finish up their meal and Adie drained her goblet before getting up to leave the Hall. As she moved, so did a large group of the people at her table. She tried to ignore their sudden movement and the way all their eyes were fixed hungrily on her – they looked like animals stalking their prey – but Adie couldn’t help notice that they were all of Callie’s friends. She quickened her pace slightly, hoping to get out of the Hall and to the safety of the Library before they had a chance to strike. However, the group followed close behind her and as she passed through the double doors they surged around her, surrounding the girl.

Adie’s heart rate shot up as she surveyed the sneering faces in front of her; the Carrows, Yaxley, and the rest of that awful gang were all eyeing her obviously trying to decide how best to start their attack.

Before anyone had a chance to start an assault, verbal or physical, a different voice spoke.

“I’m not sure quite what is going on here, but I require Miss Greengrass for a few moments. I hope that’s of no inconvenience to you all?” Dumbledore’s words were light, yet the stern he surveyed the Slytherins with was steely and unamused.

Adie pushed her way past the people to follow the headmaster swiftly up the staircases to his office. She didn’t look back – the less she saw of them, the better. She stuck close to Dumbledore’s heels instead; she was concerned to note that his displeased expression had not changed. Surely she was not going to get in trouble for leaving her family from him? Adie was sure he’d have supported her decision – anyway, Sirius hadn’t been punished by the school.

The old professor scrutinised Adie as she took a seat opposite his desk. He remained standing and the whole situation was making her feel rather uncomfortable. Finally, Dumbledore sat in the chair facing Adie and began to speak.

“I have just finished speaking with your parents, Adrianna,” he said heavily. She felt her stomach drop slightly, no idea what was about to come next. “They want you to leave Hogwarts and return home.”

Adie shook her head mutely, in denial; she refused to believe this was happening, that her freedom was about to be snatched away from her after such a short time. It had not even occurred to her that her parents would do this and she felt like such an idiot. It happened to Narcissa after all – Adie knew full well that pure-blood parents could do whatever they wanted. This time she was powerless to make a change.

She had to try anyway, even if it meant begging to Dumbledore. “You can’t let them do this, sir. I don’t want that life – I said no!”

The teacher could not meet her eye and his words were laden with regret as he replied, “I am so very sorry, Adrianna. What you did was so brave, but I cannot help you. I am only the messenger – your family will send someone to collect you.”

Adie was embarrassed to realise that tears had begun to fall down her face. Dumbledore was right; she was just going to have to lie down and let her father walk all over as always. She’d stood up to him once and it would never happen again. She was well and truly chained to this life now; all other doors were firmly sealed against her. It was such an oppressive, claustrophobic feeling.

Dumbledore pushed his chair back, sympathy and concern etched into his features. “You may stay here for a moment; I understand that this is a sad moment for you.”

Adie heard the door shut behind him as he left the office, and slowly her tears began to stop. What was the point anymore? Adrianna felt dead to it all already. Her emotions had been tossed from pole to pole; this year had been the most exhausting she’d ever experienced. Adie had had her hopes strung up high, only for them to be dragged down to seemingly impossible lows. And once more, she had to adapt again. Adrianna had thought that this most recent change, finally rebelling against her family, would be the pivotal transformation of her life and that her path would be set in stone now.

That’s what she had prepared herself for; Adie had been ready to fight and turn her back on her family, she hadn’t even thought that her new, free lifestyle would be snatched away from her so soon. Adrianna could see no way out of this predicament but she felt so loathed to resign herself once more to her Slytherin fate.

Her head was beginning to spin, so Adie tried to distract herself by wandering around Dumbledore’s office. She’d never been in the curious circular room before and she was fascinated by all the strange, intricate instruments that adorned the room. It was crammed full of cabinets, each one in turn covered with golden trinkets. Adie kept her hands firmly behind her back, not wanting to disturb any of the delicate and beautiful items.

She was about to dart behind the professor’s desk and inspect the strange spherical seat at the back of the room, but her interest was instead captured by a ragged Hat, perched atop a set of shelves. The Sorting Hat itself, Adie realised with a surge of almost bitterness. That Hat had determined the course of her life in so many ways; this constant, on-going, internal conflict would not exist if the stupid garment had put her in any other House than Slytherin.

Because, Adie realised, that was what it boiled down to. Her eternal indecision, her inability to truly stand up and leave her family behind, was due to the fact that, deep down, Adie worried she was just like them.

Sirius had said it before, Adrianna knew she had the capability to act in the same way they did, perhaps she was nothing special and all the Slytherins had felt this doubt before? Adie glared at the Hat, sitting inanimate on the shelf; it was the Hat’s entire fault that she had this horrible lack of identity and so much self-doubt. How could such a lifeless, stupid object have so much of a say in what defined a person, and how they felt?

Filled with anger, partly directed at herself and partly at the ridiculous customs of the Wizarding world, Adie grabbed the Hat and jammed it on her head. She wanted a few words with the thing and wasn’t exactly sure how else to communicate with it.

Yet as the brim of the hat slipped over her eyes, Adie found herself unable to say the things she wanted. Instead she just stood there while the Hat probed her mind - Sirius’ voice flashed through her head, “The Sorting Hat, the one that looks deep into your brain to find out who you really are”. Adie wished the Hat luck; she could barely work out who she was, let alone this old Hat having any idea.

It felt as though she’d been frozen to the spot for hours, although it can only have been minutes. In fact, the Hat had spent less time picking her brains today than it had at her initial Sorting. Finally, Adie heard it mutter, “Sometimes, I think we Sort too soon”.

Before the girl could react to this ground-breaking revelation from the Hat, she was interrupted by Dumbledore re-entering his office. As Adie pushed the brim of the hat over her eyes, she was amazed to see her head teacher looking at her in surprise – she’d never seen Dumbledore surprised by anything. There was a silence between the two; Adie thought about breaking it with an apology but instead she found herself repeating the once-more-inanimate Hat’s words.

“Sometimes, I think we Sort too soon.” Her voice was full of a quiet determination. “That’s what it said to me.”

Dumbledore no longer looked shocked, instead that characteristic twinkle had returned to his eyes.

“Now, now, Miss Greengrass,” he chuckled, surveying the girl through his glasses. “Did you really need a hat to tell you that?”

Adie joined it with his laughter, removing the garment and placing it carefully back on the shelves. She was about to begin talking and to start trying to persuade the professor into letting her stay at school. Now the prospect of facing the wrath of her family and having to join that life again seemed even worse.

However, Dumbledore began to speak again before she had the chance. “I get the distinct impression that you’re not going to go back to your family – are you, Adrianna?”

She shook her head.

“Well, I must say I think you’ve made the right choice. Although there is a lot for us to discuss and arrange – why don’t you take a seat?”

Adie walked to the chair indicated by Dumbledore, barely able to believe what was happening. The most powerful wizard on the planet was going to help her stay here at Hogwarts. Everything was going to be okay. Finally, everything was good.

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