22. Shadows in Paradise
Classes the next day were horrible after staying up so late. We studied the journals and perfected my now separate shopping lists in our free periods and before dinner, but all agreed that we should get some sleep before classes the next day.
We made it through our classes the next day and finished our homework before moving from the library into the Room of Requirement and studied the journals into the night. While the boys were much better read on the subject, I found that I was catching onto the dangers rather quickly and actually enjoying the first-hand accounts of people who had already been through the dangerous path. Most of the diaries were unfinished and just suddenly dropped off, but several of them had been written in by a second person explaining what had gone wrong. Some of them had even been written in by our own Minerva McGonagall.
When Remus returned the next morning we all got back into our usual habits with the other three playing quidditch or whatever and Remus and I sitting together studying or talking. We studied together, helping each other where the others lacked. Despite how mature and serious they were about becoming animagi, the boys hadn't really grown up all that much. They still pulled childish pranks, especially on Severus, though usually they'd make sure I wasn't around when they did.
Severus and Lily weren't doing nearly as well anymore. Instead of being so much of a couple that it made everyone else sick to their stomachs, they spent more and more time away from each other. Severus began hanging out with Bella and her gang and Lily would spend more time alone in the library. While I knew them both well enough to know they still loved each other, I also could see the distance growing between them. I worried for their relationship, and for Severus's sanity while he hung out with the future death eaters.
Every day in the papers we heard more and more about the "Dark Lord" and his Death Eaters. While they had been a mild inconvenience in the years past, it seemed now that their movement was growing more violent. Every few weeks we would hear about muggleborns and half breeds being tortured or even killed. Many of us worried that it would escalate to a full out war soon. We also worried for our friends like Lily who could be in great danger come the end of school for the year. There was even rumours of Dumbledore having banded together his own army called the Order of the Phoenix to fight them.
Severus and I grew further apart as he grew closer to the blood purists. I couldn't stand to watch him slide down the path to destruction. Watching how he changed into someone I had never met made me realize that someday I would indeed help fight in this war. Sev had never been one of the nicest people in the world, but he had also never been cruel. I let myself shed a single tear for him when I first heard him call some Hufflepuff a mudblood, but I looked away, promising that I'd give him the benefit of doubt just this once.
I couldn't tell Lily or James what I'd heard, so instead I sought out Remus and talked to him for hours about how Severus was changing. Severus had been my first friend and the best potions partner I'd ever had. I prayed that he would see the error of his ways before he made a huge mistake.
Remus and I sat talking for a few more minutes before Sirius and James burst in trying to keep their laughter quiet so they could reach us before Madame Pince kicked them out. They both leaned onto the table in front of us and grinned.
"Come on, bookworms, you gotta see this." James practically giggled.
"Definitely. love it." Sirius agreed. "Hurry before someone else gets here and tells Pince that we're mistreating books."
I frowned deeply and replaced my textbooks into my bag, not that I'd read a word from them since I'd gotten here. The four of us walked out of the library before James and Sirius each grabbed one of us and dragged us into a run towards the entrance hall. When we got closer we could see that a very extensive collection of books was flying around and trying to attack every Ravenclaw they saw.
"We proudly call it the flying book brigade." James grinned.
"Yep. It should put all those smarter-than-thou Ravenclaws in their place for a few days." Sirius grinned.
"Some of those books have dust falling out as they flap." I commented. "Where'd they come from?"
"Well, you know how you said that the entrance to the Ravenclaw commons were just a riddle?" James grinned. "Well, while everyone was down at the game, we cracked the code and charmed the Ravenclaw personal library. All donated by former Ravenclaws and free to be read by the Ravenclaw public. I mean seriously, who keeps a library in their common room?"
"We have one in ours too. I thought everyone did." I frowned. "I mean ours is… really dark, but we have one. We've got books about blood rites and sacrifices and I think we even have one of horcruxes, but that one's written in a weird language."
"Really? What is the use in having all that stuff?" Sirius made a disgusted face.
"Well, for one thing, Slytherins are a tight-knit force. If a Slytherin actually makes it out there, they will vogue for other Slytherins. We stick together, even after we leave Hogwarts. With that said, we're also more than willing to crush each other if it helps ourselves." I shrugged. "We pass on our advantages to the next generation so that Slytherins can continue to take the lead. And most of us go dark. Chances are that someone who's been in my house since I got here will try to become a dark lord. And even before graduation, several seventh years have probably already joined the current dark lord."
"Bella and Lestrange?" Sirius asked softly.
"I don't know for sure, but I'm certain that Bella will eventually join the Death Eater ranks. Maybe other relatives too. Narcissa was in with a bad crowd. Regalus seems to be inching ever closer to the brink." I shrugged. "Your family has been primarily dark for generations Sirius. This can't be news to you."
"Well, didn't Lucius hang out with the same type of people?" James asked. "You always tell us that he isn't as bad as he seems, but I was always certain he'd go dark."
I stared down at were the whole flock of books seemed to descend on the hiding spot of a first year Ravenclaw and sighed. "Lucius isn't evil. He was raised to believe that there was a hierarchy. Ancient and noble houses like Malfoy and Black at the top, followed by other purebloods like Prewett and Potter. Muggleborns and… half-breeds, no offense, are at the bottom of that hierarchy. Blood traitors like Andromeda Black are even below regular muggles. Lucius just doesn't know that there's any other way."
"Do you think Lucius will join the Dark Lord?" Remus asked softly.
"Of course not. My brother has been the one constantly good thing in my life. Even when everyone thought I was a squib, which is barely better than a muggleborn in his eyes, he loved me unconditionally. He's saved my life a few times despite everything that's happened." I smiled at the thought of my brother. "He might agree with most of the things the Dark Lord says, but he disagrees with what he does."
"And where do you think he draws the line?" Sirius asked. "Lucius may be there for a family member, but what would happen if he came across Moony here during his time of month? Would he just walk away from that?"
"Lucius values human life." I insisted. "He thinks muggleborns and werewolves shouldn't go to school or work with purebloods, but he does think they have the right to live."
"Are you sure?" Sirius asked softly. "I thought Reg would change his mind after he got here and saw that Lily's such a good witch, but instead he just insists that she's a Prewett that got adopted by muggles."
I shrugged. "Honestly, are you sure she's not? I mean have you seen that hair? I don't care if her parents are muggles or if she's the daughter of Dumbledore himself, but you have to give them a little bit of leeway considering how they were raised."
"You were raised the same and look how you turned out." Remus shrugged.
"We weren't though. Abraxas was a completely different man when Lucius was around. He was raised as a noble. I was raised to be the arm candy of a noble." I shrugged making light of my dark memories. "You can imagine how well that turned out."
"Pince just arrived, we should get out of here." Remus shrugged.
"Let's go outside. Sirius needs to get some extra practice in. He's a terrible beater lately." James teased gently.
"Yeah, I'd say it's time to think about replacing him, Jamie. Maybe we could get Pete onto the team now that he's got a sweet new ride." I grinned, going along with James. Remus chuckled and headed outside to our usual spot right next to the lake.
The boys summoned their brooms as Remus and I laid out a huge fluffy blanket and laid down. Remus a yellow paged muggle book that looked heavy enough to knock someone out if dropped on their head and I took out my sketchpad and started to draw.