The Grass Is Always Greener

Chapter 9

“You know the one amenity that Hogwarts really lacks?” Lily pondered as she and her friends wandered aimlessly through the castle’s twisting corridors. “We need a neutral place for the different Houses mix.”

Em concurred with Lily’s idea; the trio were often stuck for places to hang out as Adrianna could never enter the Gryffindor Common Room and vice versa. The Library didn’t allow for much gossiping and for the majority of the school year, it was far too cold to sit by the Lake.

Emmeline began suggesting where this ‘inter-House Common Room’ could be while Adie just laughed. “That’s because, for the most part, the Houses don’t mix.”

Diana Cress, ambling along with the other girls, raised one eyebrow mischievously.

“Well, you’re mates with us aren’t you?” She grinned at Adie. “Em here’s a Ravenclaw too…”

The lone Slytherin shrugged; she hadn’t really been referring to mingling between three of the Houses and nor had Lily. Both had instead been thinking of the solitary Slytherin House.

Diana continued to grin smugly at her friend. “And of course, now you’re BFFs with the Marauders too!”

The other girls could sense that this was the topic Di had been waiting to hear all about – Adie’s new friends. However, the girl just smiled complacently. In the past few weeks, James, Peter and Adrianna had become quite good friends. She loved being able to hang out with Remus and his friends; Sirius just seemed to be steering clear, not saying anything although the look on his face made his feelings very clear.

The thing was that she’d never really had male friends before. Adie had no problem befriending the girls of Hogwarts but the guys, on the other hand, seemed far less inclined towards House integration and there were certainly no friends to be made in her House.

Adie didn’t much desire any interaction with her fellow Slytherin boys and, fortunately, not much was granted. The House (and elitist pure-blood families in general) still tended to be very gender-split; Adie often felt as though ‘her kind’ were about a century behind the rest of the wizarding world. The boys and girls rarely interacted but to ‘court’ so to speak. It was your parents who had the ultimate say in whether your match was ‘suitable’ or not. Half the time, marriages were arranged. Adrianna thought, with a pang, of Narcissa Black who was doomed to her existence as a MalfoyHou.

As it so happened, James was thinking about his new friend too. He was hanging around in the Gryffindor Common Room, bored pretty much to death; Remus was studying, Sirius had detention and Peter was off flirting with some 4th Year girl.

If only Sirius was here, James thought mournfully, we could have chucked a Quaffle around on the pitch. He stared forlornly out of the window at his favourite place at Hogwarts. However, he knew his best mate would have been more likely to want to smack a Bludger around instead, the bloody Beater.

Suddenly it hit him; Adrianna! She was a Chaser too and they’d never had a chance to play their favourite sport together as opposed to against one another.

So he raced up to his dorm to grab his kit and broom before hurtling through the castle to try and find Adie. He found her perched on a windowsill in the Entrance Hall with Emmeline Vance, Diana Cress and the incredible Evans.

James skidded to a halt in front of the group of girls, grinning at the two blondes before nodding to Lily. “Come on Greengrass, let’s go play some Quidditch!”

Adrianna laughed “I wasn’t aware we’d made any plans for today?”

“But I was bored!” James’s whinge bought a smile to all the girls’ faces although Lily was quick to hide her smirk of amusement.

Adie turned to the other girls, about to ask their permission to leave but Diana, reading her mind and hoping for some gossip later, just said “Off you go then, Adie, see you later!”

The pair headed for the pitch in radiant moods; both were entirely obsessed with Quidditch. Just playing the game, watching a match or simply talking about the sport could completely take their day from bad to good.

James and Adie chatted game-talk mindlessly to each other until they reached the changing rooms; they both slipped into their respective team kits with lightning speed, eager to reach the pitch.

It was utterly incomparable, Adie thought, the feeling of the wind rushing through your hair. It was even better on days like this when the April breeze still had that knife edge of coldness to it. She sighed in pleasure as the air raked her scalp and she wheeled through the sky.

After a few minutes of both teenagers silently swooping round the stadium, they began to chuck the Quaffle to each other. James and Adie exchanged a grin, both knowing that the other was feeling exactly the same. Both of them were relishing the feel of the rough, worn material of the Quaffle in their hands.

The pair began their practise fairly slowly, unfamiliar with the techniques of the other player. However as the day wore on, the throws got faster and harder and the moves altogether more complicated until they were a blur of red and green against the dusky sky.

They worked together so fluently, never needing to communicate but instinctively knowing what the other person was going to do next. James was barely even thinking about what he was doing; he was just switching to autopilot, knowing that Adie would respond. He knew he would sound big-headed and knew the face Lily would pull if he ever spoke the thought out-loud but, it was nice to be playing with someone who was equally as talented as him in Quidditch…

*

Sirius bounded into the Common Room fresh from his gruelling detention expecting to find his best mate waiting for him. He’d picked out his favourite bits of banter that had occurred between him and McGonagall to relay back to James and was severely disappointed only to find Peter waiting for him, looking downhearted and muttering about some girl.

“Hey Pete, just cheer up! There’s plenty more fish in the sea,” Sirius said vaguely, patting his friend condescendingly on the head before asking the question he actually cared about. “Say, you don’t know where Prongs is at, do you?”

Peter perked up, pleased at being able to help his friend out. “Yeah, he mumbled something about the Quidditch pitch before he sped off.”

Sirius grinned; he thought he had heard James mention something about the two of them training together later. They had fortunately managed to catch up on points since the Slytherin vs. Gryffindor fiasco but they’d still have to work hard if they wanted to beat their arch-nemeses in the Cup final.

So Sirius headed out of the castle and down the sloping grounds towards the familiar pitch. However, the friendly greeting Sirius was preparing to call, as he spotted James’s silhouette above the stands, died on his lips.

He paused, watching as another shadowy figure joined the messy-haired outline; this person was far more slender, Sirius could see, despite the bulky Quidditch uniform she sported. Her long hair flew behind her in the breeze. Although the figure was just a silhouette and although he was still many metres away, Sirius knew exactly what colour that hair was and exactly who James had replaced him with.

So as he marched towards the Quidditch pitch in a fit of rage, it was not the colour red that clouded his vision but a golden honey instead.

James and Adrianna both whirled round as they heard the large double doors leading back into the changing rooms slam open. James felt his heart sink like a stone as he saw the look on Sirius’s face. Adie had to strongly resist the urge just to turn her broom around and fly away as quickly as possible.

“Hey, James,” Sirius’s voice bellowed out around the empty stadium, full of forced cheer. “How about that quick game of one-on-one Quidditch you suggested we have after my det? Oh, wait…” The angry teenager pretend that he’d just noticed Adie hovering uncomfortably next to James.

James flew down, swinging off his broom to talk to his friend. “Look, mate, it’s no big deal.” James started. “Everyone was busy so Adie and I decided to chuck the Quaffle around for a bit. There’s no need to get pissy, just leave Adie alone.”

Sirius sighed in frustration, throwing his hands up angrily. He’d tried to just ‘leave her alone’ and if he was being honest, he really didn’t want to fight with her; there was just something about Adrianna Greengrass that made his blood boil and do things he knew he’d regret, stupid things.

“It is a big deal, when my best mate decides to replace me with her.” He spat the word out, not wanting to even say her name. Sirius opened and closed his mouth a few times, trying to articulate his rage while a small part of his brain was telling him how irrational he was being.

James was about to try and reason with Sirius when he noticed that Adie too had joined him on the springy turf of the pitch. She had a steely glint in her pale eyes and her jaw was set firmly.

“Fine, fine – I’ll leave you two to have it out. Just don’t either of you come running to me if you end up in the Hospital Wing.” James murmured before fleeing to the changing rooms, knowing he was powerless to stop the oncoming fight.

Her? I do have a name, you know, Black.” Adrianna spoke in a falsely sweet voice, purposely keeping her tone light and full of suppressed laughter.

Sirius’s thunderously dark tone of voice couldn’t have been more different from hers as he said. “Yeah, you have a name: Greengrass. Your family’s one of the richest and darkest pure-blood families. Merlin! Just accept that that’s who you are and stop pissing around with my friends. You’ll only hurt them.”

“Black, you know nothing about me.” Now there was a biting edge of hardness in Adie’s voice as she snapped at the dark-haired boy in front of her.

He laughed harshly and she felt her fist clench tightly around her wand. “Well, you’re a Black! Richer and darker than my family – how come it’s okay for you to have nice friends and live this completely separate life full of pranks and fun but I’m forced to endure all of that shit?” Adrianna throat hurt from screaming the words at him. “You think I want that? Lucius fucking Malfoy and the rest of those creeps, Bellatrix – oh God! I hate them and I hate it all.”

Sirius was only swayed by this outburst for a sliver of a second. “Oh yeah? You know how I can tell that’s not true, how come you’re different from me?” He paused and grinned triumphantly at his adversary. “You’re a Slytherin. The Sorting Hat, the one that looks deep into your brain to find out who you really are, decided that you were a Slytherin.”

Adrianna’s face paled. There was nothing she could say to him and he knew it. The details of her Sorting were all a blur to her, all she could remember was that rush of joy when she was sent to that Slytherin table. She remembered hearing the Hat yell out ‘Gryffindor!’ for Sirius.

Sirius went to walk past her in a blaze of triumph and glory but paused just for a second as he went, to hiss in her ear “And tell me this, Greengrass, what wouldn’t you do to please your nasty, evil parents? Pathetic.”

Adrianna felt her muscles contract painfully with the effort of not crying there and then. Instead she forced herself to do something she knew she’d regret, but she could not let him have the last word.

She pulled the cool, cruel mask of Slytherin indifference over her face, feeling her eyes go hard with anger.

“You can try to act like it doesn’t hurt Black, but how many nights have you spent crying because you know they all despise you?” Adrianna felt like she was hearing the words from afar, barely believing that she could be saying something so hurtful. “I mean really, Black, tell me because I’d love to know – how does it feel to know that even your own mother hates you?”

She saw the pain flash across Sirius’s face; she had hit a nerve, just like she knew she would. Adrianna felt like being sick but the disgust she felt for herself did not show on her face; the Slytherin mask would not move and she felt a wave of panic that she’d be doomed to an existence of cold neutrality for the rest of her life just like Cissy.

“I told you so, Slytherin through and through.” Sirius whispered before practically sprinting away from Adie.

The second he turned his face from hers, Adrianna felt her composed mask crumble away until she too was standing, desolately in the middle of the pitch fighting off the tears.

*

She had returned from the Quidditch pitch so late that everyone else was already asleep when she finally did arrive back to the Common Room. The next morning she huddled in bed, letting everyone else go to breakfast before getting up.

It was a Sunday and was therefore, lesson free. Adrianna was incredibly grateful for that as Sirius happened to be in a lot of her lessons. With any luck, she would just spend a peaceful day with Narcissa and Regulus and she could forget all about that awful fight.

Unfortunately, Adrianna had forgotten about the incredible speed with which gossip travelled round the school.

“Well, well, well Ms Greengrass,” Lucius said in his familiarly smooth voice as he entered the Common Room with the rest of his followers. “I hear congratulations are in order.”

The blonde looked up in confusion at Malfoy, noticing Regulus shooting her an odd look. She shrugged briefly at her friend before expressing her lack of comprehension to Lucius.

He chuckled. “Perhaps the gossip mill is wrong then, but I had heard that you and Mr Black had another particularly nasty spat last night.”

Adie’s stomach began to twist nervously. This is what she had dreaded most; their pleasure in her cruel words only confirmed to Adrianna further that she was one of those awful Slytherins.

“And I heard you utterly bested him. Rather unusually sharp words for you Adrianna, if what I heard was true of course… Nevertheless, I’m very proud.”

He was proud of her? The thought made Adrianna feel even more nauseous than she had done last night which was what made up mind about what she should do next.

She wavered in her decision for a second; the hatred and casual abuse from her House had increased since becoming friends with Remus, James and Peter. She found herself stumbling downstairs far more often after a crafty Tripping Jinx was sent her way; Bellatrix Lestrange never let a day go past where she didn’t shove or subtly hit Adrianna somehow.

But she’d rather endure ten times that amount of hate than ever accept their pride in her.

Adrianna stood up firmly and looked Lucius in the eye. “You’re right, those words were very harsh and I’ve been feeling awful about the whole incident. So, I’m off to apologise to Bl- to Sirius.”

She grinned at Lucius before flouncing out of the door, ignoring Narcissa warning glare and Reg’s sigh of exasperation.

*

Once she had left the Common Room and ensured that no one had come after her, Adie suddenly realised she had no clue where one could find Sirius Black. Probably in a broom closet somewhere, Adie thought with disdain.

Instead of ransacking the closets of Hogwarts, Adrianna decided to wait by the Fat Lady until one of her friends came out who would be able to point her in Mr Black’s direction. She settled on the banister by the portrait leading to the Gryffindor Common Room preparing for something of a long wait.

It was only half an hour later that the canvas swung off the wall and Adie was horrified, relieved and nervous in equal parts to see the Marauders, all four of them.

Her friends amongst the group all looked terrified to see her; Adrianna could see that James thought she was here for round two and she almost giggled to watch him try to turn Sirius around, hoping he wouldn’t see Adie.

But they’d locked eyes already. It almost pained her that she could not see any evidence of wanting to fight in his eyes, she worried about how much her comments had stung.

“Sirius, before you say anything, I want to make it clear I’m not here for a fight. I want to apologise to you.” Adie wasn’t sure if the looks of pure shock on his face was because she’d referred to him by his first name or because she wanted to say sorry.

“I don’t exactly like you or think that the way you treat me is fair but what I said last night was inexcusable. I should never have said that stuff and, to be honest, I only said it because I knew that was what would hurt me the most.

I know you hate me and think I’m a Slytherin by nature as well as name. I’m not, but there’s no way I’m going to be able to prove that to you if I carry on acting like that. I’m very, very sorry, Sirius.”

He stared at her in complete surprise, gaping at the girl. Eventually James nudged him again and he managed to splutter a response.

“Um, thanks I guess… Adrianna.”

She beamed at him and Sirius blinked again, never having been subjected to Adie’s infamous grin before. Remus resisted the urge to snicker at the look on his friend’s face.

“I’m not saying me and you are going to be buddies from now on,” Sirius recovered from the effects of Adie’s smile enough to make sure she knew her place. “But I will try my hardest not to get into confrontations with you again. You’re not what I- Well, you’re… odd.”

Well, she mused, ‘odd’ was probably better than ‘Slytherin through and through’ and so she regarded this as a compliment and accepted James’s offer to get a late breakfast with them.

Yes it was very odd indeed, both Adie and Sirius thought, to be walking side-by-side with the person they thought they hated more than anyone else. Very odd to realise that you might have been wrong all this time…


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