Dorcas picks a side
"Another attack?" Lily asked with concern, peeking over Lisa's shoulder to read the Daily Prophet.
The girls were sitting with Mary, Marlene and Alice at the Gryffindor table, when the barn owl carrying the morning paper had arrived.
"Of course there's another one," Lisa sighed heavily. "Four people dead this time. Things are getting worse and worse every day out there," she added darkly. Alice shuddered visibly next to Lily.
"It's alright, love," Lily said, running her hand comfortingly over her back. "We're safe at Hogwarts."
"No one is safe," Lisa muttered through gritted teeth, watching Snape, Mulciber, Wilkes, Rosier and Avery leave the Great Hall. "Alice is a pureblood, at least. I'm more worried about you," she added towards Lily.
"Sev wouldn't hex me," she said, following Lisa's gaze.
"Even with four other future Death Eaters urging him from behind?" Lisa snorted. "I know you used to be friends Lily, but you shouldn't have that much faith in him."
Lily fixed her with an icy glare.
"You have faith in Dorcas Meadowes," she said coldly.
"One has nothing to do with the other!" Lisa snapped. "Cass despises the Dark Arts, while your slimy excuse for an ex-mate can't stop obsessing over them!"
"Um... girls? Let's not fight... we're all on the same side, yeah?" Alice tried to interject, seeing the angry glares they exchanged.
"Yes, we are. He however plays for the opposite team!" Lisa growled, nodding towards Snape. The memory of him pressing Remus against the Library wall came vividly to the forefront of her mind and the paper crumpled in her hands. "I just want to remind some people of that."
"He wouldn't hex me!" Lily hissed angrily.
"I wouldn't put it past him! But I do hope you're right, Lily, for your own sake," Lisa grumbled, getting up and walking away briskly.
She had a free period, so she headed to the Library, hoping to cool off with a good book on alchemy, but just passing by the Invisibility Section made her anger flare up again. She could hardly blame Lily for having a bit of trouble detaching herself from Snape, but she needed to wise up, before her trusting nature got her in trouble.
After about ten minutes of reading so close to the spot of Snape's last transgression, Lisa found herself constantly twitching to curse something. She gave out an exasperated sigh and checked out a couple of books, thinking she'd head to the common room. Walking and fuming, she tried to distract herself with thoughts about the would-be Alchemy class (that never formed, due to low demand), but the anger was still stewing inside her like a hot cauldron.
As she walked along the seventh floor, she glimpsed the Marauders, heading towards their Arithmancy class. Remus saw her first and regarded her with a quick smile, but she was looking beyond him, where Snape and his gang of Slytherins were waiting for class to begin, huddled against the wall. She saw Snape fix James with a cold stare, as his hand slipped into his robes, almost at the same time as Mulciber's.
"Hey, Fawley. Why so serious?" Sirius greeted her as they neared, but her mind was on other things.
"Flipendo!" she yelled without warning, as her wand whipped through the air.
"What in the-" Sirius started to say, but his head snapped around to see Snape fly back through the corridor and slam into the floor.
In a fraction of a second, the Slytherins had their wands out, as did the Marauders. Spells and shouts flew everywhere, and after a couple of very disorienting minutes, it was over. The Slytherins were sprawled on the ground with various injuries (Lisa supposed the elephant trunk on Rosier must've been James' doing), all of them unconscious. Sirius, James and Remus were unharmed, but Peter sported a nasty cut on his leg, and Lisa's left arm was swollen to triple its size and throbbed painfully.
"I can fix that," she said and pointed her want at Peter's leg. "Vulnera Sanentur, Vulnera Sanentur, Vulnera Sanentur," she repeated, as the wound knitted itself.
"You know healing magic?" he squeaked in surprise. Lisa gave him a sour smile.
"I suggest you learn it too. It could be the difference between life and death out there," she said, making the short boy pale.
"What about you? What'd they even hit you with?" James asked, but he never got his answer, as Professor Vector finally opened the door to her classroom to see what all the noise was about.
"Another brawl?" she said, not even sounding surprised. "Do I even have to guess who's involved?" she asked skeptically, moving her eyes from the Slytherins to the Marauders.
"I started it!" Lisa piped up, too annoyed and frustrated to try to hide it. "I saw Snape pull out his wand, so I hexed him!"
Professor Vector's eyes fluttered from the surprised expressions of the Marauders, to Lisa's swollen arm and finally to her face.
"In that case, thirty points from Gryffindor and detention. And get yourself to Madam Pomfrey girl, that arm looks positively ghastly!"
"I'll take her," Remus volunteered, seeing her wince in pain as she tried to bend down to retrieve her school bag.
"Thanks," she muttered when he swung it over his shoulder. He smiled as a response and they started their trek to the Hospital Wing.
"It was probably our fault this whole thing happened," Remus explained as they walked. "James and Sirius thought it'd be hilarious if they bewitched a couple of dusty erasers to follow them around and hit every part of them they could reach. They probably planned to ambush us before Arithmancy."
"Planned? I'd say they almost succeeded," she snapped, irritated.
"... Is something wrong?" he asked, after a small pause.
"Everything's just peachy! People are dying left and right, Lily is a gullible twat and Avery got me with a Stinging jinx! Things couldn't get any better!"
There was a long pause, as Remus stared at her with a stunned face. She felt shame spreading through her body like a hot potion.
"I'm sorry," she sighed heavily. "I didn't mean to blow up in your face like that. It's just... Snape, mainly."
A crease appeared between his eyebrows.
"Did he do something to you?"
"Not directly. He just... gets me all wound up every time he comes up," she admitted, running her fingers through her hair. "I warned him, didn't I? I told him that if he came near you again, I'd hex him without a second thought, and..." She had to stop and take a deep breath, as her rage was raising its head again. "I had a row with Lily this morning, because she's convinced he wouldn't hurt her. I'm worried that'll get her into the Hospital Wing one of these days. Or worse."
"Maybe he really wouldn't," Remus suggested reasonably. "They did use to be close."
"It's... possible, I suppose," she mused, her brows knitting together.
Sinking into unpleasant thoughts about the greasy-haired Slytherin, they walked in silence for a while.
"Why a pumpkin?" Remus asked out of nowhere.
"Why did you send me a pumpkin?" he repeated. "Why not something else?"
"Uh... because it's close to Halloween. I thought it would be... festive," she explained, the knot in her stomach relaxing a little. "Speaking of which," she added quickly before her resolve wavered, "there's a Hogsmeade visit scheduled for Saturday. Are you going?"
She realized that it would probably be better to ask that sort of question when all of her limbs were their proper size, but it was too late to take it back now. Remus only took a couple of seconds to reply, but it seemed to her she'd never waited longer for someone to speak.
"Yes," he answered slowly. "Sirius and James are bent on raiding Zonko's."
He flinched internally at such a bad lie. If his friends wanted anything in particular from Hogsmeade, they could sneak out literally at any time through one of the numerous tunnels. But Lisa didn't know that.
"Great," she beamed. "Maybe I'll see you there?"
"Yeah, maybe..." he drawled hesitantly. " Listen, I wanted to talk to you about what happened last Saturday... it... I mean, I... I shouldn't have done that," he said quickly and risked a swift glance in her direction.
"Oh," she said, her smile fading somewhat. "Yeah, don't sweat it."
"Really?" He couldn't help but turn to look at her. This was not a reaction he had expected.
"Sure. You've been having a hard time lately, we were in the middle of a row... and it just happened. Don't worry, I get it. We're just friends."
His heart sank down, despite logic. He had thought... for a moment, he allowed himself to believe that she meant it when she... He wanted to kick himself for being so naïve. He really should have known better.
"We're just friends?!" Dorcas gasped in horror, as she and Lisa were walking down the winded path to Hogsmeade. "Are you kidding me? What ever happened to 'going and getting' him?!"
"Stop being so dramatic," Lisa said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "What else was I supposed to do? You reckon I should've made a scene, started crying, shouting, demanded he started dating me? What would any of that accomplish?"
"At least it would be something!" Dorcas whined. "I would've kissed him again on the spot, give him the snog of his life. We'll see if he still regrets it afterwards."
"You would," Lisa smirked. "But I'm trying to understand him. He's one big mystery, but pestering him for answers will only make him uncomfortable. Whatever it is that's happening to him, he doesn't want to share. I'm just trying to respect his personal space."
"Space, shmace," Dorcas waved dismissively. "So what if he's uncomfortable for a few minutes, you'll have the answers! If he's gonna kiss and run, the least he could do is tell you why!"
"I promised him I wouldn't ask questions," Lisa explained. "I don't want to press him too hard; it'll only push him away."
"What about him? It doesn't matter who's doing the pushing, if you end up farther apart anyway!" the Slytherin insisted. "You should have pressed him!"
"Cass, don't you know men are like dogs?" Lisa grinned. "You have to let them come to you. The more you squeeze, the harder they'll struggle to get away."
"Since when are you such an expert on guys? Or on dogs, for that matter?"
"My dad used to own a Dalmatian when I was little. I would throw huge temper tantrums when it ran from me and coiled around his legs. In its defense though, I think the stress from my constant stalking drove it to an early death."
Dorcas' laugh rang through the chilly October air, until a choice few of her housemates blocked the girls' path.
"That's as far as you go, Fawley," said Severus Snape maliciously, shadowed by his usual crew. "It seems Potter and that mutt Lupin are rubbing off on you. Don't think that just because the likes of them can get away with everything, the same goes for you."
At the mention of Remus, Lisa's blood boiled instantly and her whole body tensed. Dorcas subtly placed a hand on her back and tugged at her sweater warningly.
"Well, well, if it isn't the Sour Losers Brigade. What, you lose one duel and start stalking girls that beat you? It's a wonder how all of you are still single," Dorcas said sarcastically.
"Shut your traitor mouth, Meadowes!" Avery growled.
"Or what? You'll suffocate me with your bad breath? And I'm not a traitor just because I didn't sign up to be a member of the Junior Death Eaters Club! Slytherin House is not Voldemort's official recruitment field!" Dorcas shot back.
"The offer still sands, Meadowes," called Rosier with his deep voice. "The Dark Lord could use someone of your ability."
Lisa's eyes widened in shock and she started turning to face her friend, but a sharp tug at her sweater made her keep her gaze fixed on the other Slytherins. They would talk about this later.
"I thought I was abundantly clear on that point," Dorcas smiled sourly. "You can't intimidate me, like you did with so many others. And I'm afraid I'm just not a big sympathizer of mass murder. Sorry."
"This is your last chance, Meadowes," Rosier repeated. "You're either with us... or you're with them. There is no middle ground."
Dorcas shrugged in response and drew her wand. The Slytherins followed, and so did Lisa.
"So that's how it is," Rosier said.
"I'm sorry, was I being too subtle?" Dorcas quipped. "Yeah, that's how it is."
Lisa shot her friend a quick glance. She was grateful Dorcas was sticking by her, but she knew this choice would make her life a lot harder.
"Five on two, huh? I guess chivalry truly is dead," Lisa said, moving her eyes from one wand to another.
"Who says? You're just looking for it in the wrong place!" called the voice of James Potter, as he and his friends were already pointing their wands at the Slytherins' backs, having come from the opposite direction.
"Ladies first," Sirius inclined his head with a smirk.
"Well, ladies? Fancy another trip to the Hospital Wing?" Dorcas joked, making the Gryffindors explode with laughter.
Snape looked ready to start spewing curses left and right, but Rosier knew a lost battle when he saw it. He put his wand away and nodded towards the castle. For a moment, some of them looked like they would rather start a fight anyway, but one by one the wands found their way into their respective pockets. With a final murderous glare at Lisa and the Marauders, Snape shoved past the girls and strode back to Hogwarts.
"That was a convenient appearance on your part," Dorcas noted, putting away her own wand.
"Not really," Sirius snorted. "We saw the slimy gits lurk around here, so we got suspicious."
"You took your sweet time getting ambushed, we've been waiting for fifteen minutes!" James whined, stretching out his arms. "Fancy a drink? Our treat."
The girls exchanged glances and nodded.
"Why not," Dorcas shrugged. "I'm already gonna get hell for what just happened, might as well rub some salt in the wound."
Fifteen minutes later, the group made their way to the somewhat crowded Three Broomsticks and miraculously found a booth that could fit all of them. Peter went to get the drinks, as the others sat down.
"I think I feel a draft in here," Dorcas said to Lisa after sliding on the bench next to Remus. "Switch with me?"
Lisa's heart jumped at the proposal, but she rolled her eyes.
"Are you sure you're not imagining it?" Lisa emphasized skeptically.
"I don't feel a draft," Sirius joined in from Remus' other side.
"I am not!" Dorcas insisted. "I almost got into a duel for you today! Now switch with me!"
Lisa sighed and moved to sit next to Remus, both thanking her friend and cursing her for being so obvious.
"So Meadowes, what was that thing you said about getting hell?" James asked, when Peter came back and handed him a butterbeer.
A shadow fell over the Slytherin's eyes, as she gracefully flipped her long black hair behind her shoulder and sighed.
"Things are getting... worse, lately. That lot have been convincing people into joining heir 'cause'."
"Threatening people, you mean," Lisa clarified with disgust.
"So they really are Death Eaters," snarled James.
"I haven't seen the Mark on any of them yet, but that doesn't mean they don't have it," Dorcas agreed darkly.
"How many?" Sirius asked, his shoulders tensing up. Dorcas gave him a pitying look.
"I know what you're really asking. Yes, he's been... enthusiastic about joining. They say he's a bit too young, though, haven't fully accepted him yet," she said, earning a questioning look from Lisa. The Marauders exchanged sad glances.
"Who are you talking about?" Lisa asked.
"My brother" Sirius answered her with a mixture of anger and sadness. "He's always been a fool, that Regulus. Ate my parents' rubbish like cauldron cakes. I always knew he'd get himself mixed up with them at some point." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
"Maybe... maybe it's not too late? We could... convince him," Lisa tried to suggest, placing a hand on his forearm. Remus' eyes lingered on their touch a bit longer than necessary.
"I doubt it," Dorcas shook her head slightly. "If you could see the way he talks about him... about Voldemort... he's too far gone."
"But... there must be something we can do! No one is beyond hope," Lisa insisted.
"This isn't a children's special! There's a real war out there, people are dying!" Dorcas snapped. "You can't save everyone," she added a bit more softly.
Lisa's hands curled into fists in her lap. She knew Dorcas was right, but she wanted to help Sirius somehow. "Does that mean I shouldn't try?"
"Don't be so naïve. Just a few days ago you were preaching the same to Lily," Dorcas reminded her.
James's head perked up at the mention of the redheaded Gryffindor. "Evans? What about her?"
"That was different," Lisa ignored him. "I was warning her about Snape."
"And what makes him beyond help? The fact that you hate him?" Dorcas persisted. "If I told you it was never too late to save Snape, would you be willing to take a shot at it?"
Lisa looked down in shame, realizing how two-faced she was being. No matter how hard she tried, she could never forgive him for what he'd done. The expression he brought to Remus' face and the way he'd so thoroughly enjoyed it all... it made her sick to her stomach. Even if he asked for it, she wasn't sure she'd help him.
"It's not like Snape would jump up at the opportunity to save any of us," Sirius scowled.
"That doesn't mean we should leave him to the wolves!" James retorted unexpectedly and shot Sirius a reprimanding look.
"Whatever," the latter shrugged, but there was a certain edge in his eyes. "Point is, I won't be losing any sleep over the salvation of his soul. Or Regulus'," he added bitterly. "They're not stupid. They've seen what Voldemort is doing and they've chosen their path. You've all read the paper, people who do things like that can't be reasoned back to our side."
A heavy silence fell over the group, as each of them mused over what had just been said.
"But not everybody joins of their own volition," Remus spoke up after a while. "There must be a way to help those that were forced."
"I don't see how," Dorcas said. "I've tried talking to some, but the pressure's too much."
"It's not just in Slytherin either," Peter chimed in. "I've heard rumors the movement is spreading. I overheard a bunch of Ravenclaws talking about it in the loo."
The atmosphere of the table got even gloomier. They had started to branch out.