The Grass Is Always Greener

Chapter 26

An hour or so later, Adie walked out of the headmaster’s office with a smile on her face; the arrangements had been somewhat complex as Adie’s situation was completely new and unique. Dumbledore acknowledged the difficulty of the circumstances, especially the fact that the rest of Slytherin house would not be pleased with Adrianna. Both he and Adie anticipated some trouble from her peers and so the professor had arranged for her to reside in an unused teacher’s room instead of the Slytherin dungeons. House Elves would collect her belongings for her. Dumbledore had said to Adie, as she left his office, that she may wear plain robes, if she desired. However, the girl had no plans to change her uniform. Deep down, she still believed herself to be a Slytherin but that didn’t mean she was a bad person. Adie felt much more at peace with herself, having decided for herself which House characterised her best.

The room that Dumbledore had allocated her was in a small, secluded tower between the dungeons and the Charms classroom. Adie read the password aloud from the paper the head teacher had given her, allowing the portrait of a smiling blonde witch to swing forward and reveal the room itself. It was small but cosy and sweet – Adie liked it a lot. The majority of the flagstone floor was covered in a woven blue and yellow rug. A wooden desk sat to one side of the room, and a bed similar to the one Adie had slept in previously was on the other side of the tower. The central space was taken up by a comfy looking cream sofa.

House Elves had obviously already been hard at work and had deposited her trunk, presumably with all her belongings in, at the end of the bed. Adie walked to the sofa and sat down, still trying to absorb the fact that everything was going to be okay at last. She was independent and free – having her own little room symbolised this, made it all feel much more real. Adie let herself grin widely and take a moment to just sit there and relax. She had not realised until then how tensely she had been holding herself.

The next thing Adie knew, it was early morning and the sunlight was beginning to filter through the windows of her room. She had drifted into sleep at some point last night, whilst reflecting on her good fortune. She stirred from her place, still curled up on the sofa; her limbs were stiff from sleeping in such a cramped position. Adie stretched them out as she unpacked her possessions, finally making the room her own.

Once she was done and dressed, the girl made her way to the Great Hall for breakfast. It did not occur to her until she reached the main doors that it would not be wise for her to sit at the Slytherin table although she still wore the House robes. As Adie entered the hall, everyone turned to look at her. Somehow, news of her rebellion had spread round the school. The glares she was receiving from the Slytherin table frighteningly intense. Luckily, Adie spotted Lily and Remus waving her over before she had time to panic and run.

Instead she calmly walked over to the Gryffindor table and took her place between Sirius and Diana. The former turned and grinned at her straight away.

“Wait, what’s with the robes, huh?” Sirius joked, gesturing to her Slytherin crest, but with a smile still in his eyes.

Adie laughed. “Well, the Hat didn’t exactly ‘re-Sort’ me, and I decided that I probably am a Slytherin. However, this time it’s by choice and I think I encompass some of the more positive characteristics of the House, maybe?”

This provoked gales of laughter round the Gryffindor table.

“What positive qualities?” James and Lily smirked in sync, turning to grin at each other in this unexpected show of unity.

Adie put on a look of mock-indignation, “Ambition, determination, and pride aren’t always bad things! I just have these qualities in a more normal fashion than the rest of those psychos.”

Diana slung an arm around her friend, squeezing her shoulder comfortingly, “Well, you’re rid of them all now!”

Sirius caught the Slytherin’s gaze and returned her tentative smile, nudging her softly in a silent show of support. Even this small gesture had her breath catching in her throat. He continued to talk with her, animatedly with the smile never leaving his features. Adie had never seen this side of him before and suddenly it was apparent to her why James and he had initially been attracted to one another. They were such a dynamic and charismatic duo. She’d had first-hand experience of Potter’s full charms, but up until now, Sirius had mostly been a brooding, enigmatic Byronic hero-type to her; Adie could almost her infatuation grow stronger by the second.

When she excused herself from breakfast early, it was almost to escape Sirius. She could barely stand such a barrage of loveliness – Adie was almost irritated by the fact that he was so funny and engaging. She’d managed to fall for him before seeing this side of him, how much would her feelings grow now? Although, she also wanted to get back to her room, spend her free hour there, and just continue to relish the freedom. That room felt like the physical reward of her struggles; now she had been relinquished from her previous life, that little tower room was a Heaven.

Adie spent a happy forty-five minutes lounging on her bed, reading and occasionally putting pen to paper to make revision notes. She also took some time to put up the handful of pictures she had of her with Lily, Em, Diana, and some of the other Gryffindor girls. Adie even found one, tucked in the pages of her Charms textbook, of her, Remus, Peter, and James. That stood propped on her bedside table.

Unfortunately, with half an hour still remaining before her Potions lesson, Adie began to get rather hungry. She hadn’t eaten much that morning, being a little preoccupied with a certain boy sitting next to her. Adie decided that she would start off for Potions now but take the long route, going past the kitchens. With the thought of a stack of hot toast and jam spurring her on, Adie packed her bag and set off from her room. The corridors were, by and large, deserted; most students were in class although a few of her fellow sixth-years and the final year pupils did pass her by. Most of them looked on curiously, checking which House colours she was sporting, evidently having heard the gossip. Adie just flashed them all a beam and carried on walking.

She passed a good fifteen minutes in the company of the Elves, eating her way through a few rounds of toast. However, soon the bell resounded through the castle that alerted her to the fact that she had ten minutes to get herself to Potions. Grabbing the last triangle of toast, Adie waved good bye to her friends and began to cut through the corridors to her next lesson.

The girl was just brushing the last few crumbs of her late breakfast off her hands when she happened upon a group of people she had been desperate to avoid. Adie found herself almost nose to nose with Yaxley. Dolohov’s cruel face twisted into a smirk at the sight of the blonde.

“Well, isn’t this a happy coincidence?” Dolohov’s voice was horrible to listen to, gravelly and rasping. Nott and the Carrows shifted almost hungrily beside the ringleaders. Adie had to resist the urge to take a nervous step away from the group.

“We needed a little chat with you and, it must be fate, this opportunity’s landed right into our laps.”

“It’s a shame Callie’s not here,” Yaxley added. “I know she’s feeling particularly vengeful – she wouldn’t want to miss the show. But we can’t pass up a chance like this…”

Addie’s hand inconspicuously felt for her wand, easily accessed in her robe pocket. She noticed that Nott already had his out and seemed itching to use it. Throwing caution to the wind, Adie grabbed hers too; it seemed likely she was going to need it soon. Sure enough, her action was mirrored by the Slytherins blocking her way to class.

Another bell rang, signalling that they were all now late to class. Somehow, Adie didn’t think this much bothered these guys.

“Did you seriously think you could get away with your ‘fairy-tale’ ending, scot free?” Dolohov snarled, his voice going from neutral to vicious instantly. “Think that you could humiliate us all so publically, make us look like bad guys, and face no repercussions?”

Adie laughed in his face, all her fear gone now. The voice she had once so struggled to find now came to her. “Everyone already knows you lot are psychopathic bastards – they didn’t need my leaving you to tell them that. What’s it to you that I left anyway? I only would have disgraced you all with my lack of proper etiquette and disinclination to torture and other general evils.”

Yaxley shook his head and made a disdainful noise. Alecto stepped forward, her wand pointed at Adie’s chest. “You’d have just been a wife. All you’d gotta do is sit pretty and not say a word.”

“Well, I’m not a fucking coward. It’s just as bad to sit there and say bugger-all, knowing full well about your husband’s murdering antics!” Adie’s voice had risen to almost a shout. She secretly hoped that this might alert a professor to her predicament before she was subjected to the Cruciatus.

“You already have disgraced us! To abandon your family is to show your disapproval of them, to make them seem beneath you and your lofty liberal ways,” Yaxley sneered the word, matching Adie’s loud tone. “We are beneath nobody. You’re a fucking idiot if you don’t believe that. Things are changing, Adrianna, a wave is coming. And when it hits, you’re going to be one of the first to go. We gave you the chance to be on the winning team and you’ve thrown that away. Don’t come running when it all goes wrong for you, and the rest of your blood traitor, Mudblood scum mates.”

Adie was bemused by Yaxley’s talk of waves and change, blaming on his mental instability. Luckily for her, in his vociferous speech he had begun to circle her, leaving Adie a clear escape route. Nott was about to burst in on the verbal attack when Adie dashed past the group.

As she veered round the corner, she heard a Stunner being fired but she was long gone by then. Adie dashed up a staircase, not heading at all in the direction of Potions – all thoughts of lessons were gone from her mind. Yet her frantic running was stopped short by the sight of a familiar figure at the top of the stairs.

Regulus’ tense features relaxed visibly on sight of Adrianna; he had evidently heard the skirmish, too afraid to join it, but still please to see the girl unharmed. She, on the other hand, had no idea what to say or do. Adie simply stood opposite him, mute.

“Sorry they attacked you like that, it was sensible of you to get away.”

“Did you know they were going to try and get me?”

“Yeah, well, I mean that incident wasn’t planned. I was going to try and subtly warn you about it, but they’re watching me pretty closely. Don’t want me to get any funny ideas seeing as both my brother and fiancée have left the toujour purs circle. What is about me,” Reg laughed slightly bitterly. “That makes people to run a mile?”

Adie looked down at her feet, embarrassed suddenly. She’d been dreading this – Regulus feeling rejected and hurt. She had no real word of comfort for him. Her decision had been entirely unrelated to him, other than that their engagement had made taking action more pressing to her. Yet saying that felt as callous as saying he had been a part of her running away. The knife in her stomach was only twisted by her undeniable feelings for his brother, the fact that Regulus was the wrong Black.

“I am so sorry, sorry that I’ve made things worse for you. You know that I didn’t run from you, don’t you? I had to get away from all of them – but you’re not really a part of that. Do it too, it’s not as hard as it seems! And wouldn’t you be so much happier with Sirius and me?”

Reg tore his eyes away from Adie’s sudden glance, staring out the window with indecision written all over his face. In years to come, she would look back on that moment and wonder what he could have been about to say. However, she would never know because before Regulus could respond to Adie’s proposal, the Slytherin mob came pelting up the staircase. Their hunt had paid off.

Yaxley and Dolohov both grabbed Reg at the same time; Yaxley slung his arm around the boy in an attempt to make the gesture friendlier.

“Picking up where we left off, eh, Reg?” Dolohov’s finger clawed in the Regulus’ bony shoulders as he said the word, indicating that there was only one possible answer for him to give.

Adie felt her heart sink as the indecision melted away from Reg’s eyes. It was replaced by a steely glint, a look she knew well as the infamous Slytherin mask. He had made his choice, and it was too late now. Adie realised that he would never leave; he didn’t have the same fire as his brother. He craved that approval even more than Adie – probably because Sirius had denied his the attention in their youth.

He forced a smirk to twist his lips into a foreign mask of cruelty. “I was, in fact, Antonin, just letting the little slut know that she’s welcome to her dirty Mudbloods. She’ll pay for it later, because everything’s changing.”

Adie’s hurt at his harsh words were marred slightly by that phrase cropping up again. Regulus knew something she didn’t; he had been initiated into this ‘change’. The other Slytherins laughed appreciatively at Regulus’ words and threw a few jibes of their own at Adie. She could not concentrate on them though. Her eyes were locked with Reg’s, trying desperately to find some chink in his armour, a sign that he was not beyond saving. She realised now, why Sirius had always been so angry with her – he’d been trying to find that sign in her. But it was hopeless. Reg was completely lost to her all. Adie also realised now, how Sirius had been able to leave his brother. He had recognised this fact a lot quicker than Adie.

She suddenly realised that the Slytherins had stopped hurling abuse at her and were exchanging glances. They pushed past her violently, letting her hit the wall heavily; they had evidently decided that this verbal abuse had sufficed. Maybe they’re misread her sadness at losing Regulus for their attacks hitting a nerve? Either way they were gone and all Adie had to show for it was a bruise, probably beginning to bloom on her arm.

Regulus had not followed the others all the way back to their Common Room, or next lesson, instead he had paused at the end of the corridor.

“Adrianna,” he said, his voice still cold. “Just leave it. They might have you back, if you renounce the things you’ve done. You’d face a bit of shit but we’d be alright.”

Adie shook her head. That life was so far removed from her now; going back was a complete impossibility.

“My brother won’t make you happy. Break off whatever it is you two have going – that should please this lot enough to lessen some of the anger they have towards you. They love to see Sirius upset.”

They thought her and Sirius were together? Adie was dumbfounded and went to correct Reg but he cut her off.

“And they’ll love seeing you upset too, you know that. Just come back, I honestly don’t understand why you’ve done this. If it was for him, he’ll have dumped you within a month.”

It was as if Regulus could not bear to talk about it any longer. Adie knew it was not out of love for her, but jealousy of Sirius and his freedom. Hatred for his brother, who had been the Golden boy as a child and now had his perfect life. Poor Reg, Adie could not help but think.

“I’m not going anywhere, Regulus,” Adie said quietly. “I’m sorry.”

He stared at her, no acknowledgement of her words, but Adie could see the last light in his eyes die. The last scrap of the Reg she had once known was now gone. The mask had become permanent.

He turned on his heel and followed the others, as he always had and always would.

“Bye, Reg.”

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