I spent most of the evening by myself, sitting in the common room reading. I started to read The Encyclopedia of Toadstools just to see if it was really as fascinating as Sirius had made it out to be, and not to my surprise, it was not. I picked up Jiggery Pokery and Hocus Pocus, but could not concentrate. I wanted to know where the boys went, why they had left in such a rush. What was so urgent about tonight? I spent hours trying to put the puzzle pieces together in my head. Something was definitely happening right before my eyes, and I needed to discover what it was.
'Sirius said he, James and Peter were all Animagi,' I thought to myself, biting my bottom lip, 'But Remus is not.' Remus. That name tinkled a bell in the back of my mind, like I had heard it in a dream. Where did I know that name from? 'Remus Lupin.' My third year Professor's name was Remus Lupin. He missed classes every month. My eyes widened and I shot my head around to look out the window. It was a cloudy evening, but a full moon was glowing large in the sky. 'He's not an Animagus because he's a werewolf.'
I decided to keep to myself that I had figured out such an enormous secret. Although it did not bother me in the slightest knowing that Remus was a werewolf, I imagined that for him, it was shameful, and the less people that knew, the better. The next morning when the boys showed up to breakfast, I acted as if nothing extraordinary had happened. I said 'hello' to them and carried on a regular conversation, like any other morning. I was enjoying my breakfast with my friends when I felt a pair of eyes watching me. I looked up towards the doors of the Great Hall when I saw a tall, thin black haired wizard stroll in, glaring at me. I recognized him as the man who would be my father. He did not break the stare until Sirius turned around to see who I was looking at. He grabbed my arm to pull my face away from the Slytherin table.
"He looks just like I remember his picture in the Daily Prophet," I said, clenching my fists underneath the table. Sirius had a concerned look in his eye. "Oh, that's right," I said in a snider tine than I meant to, "I didn't tell you all about what daddy did after he abandoned me." I stabbed my eggs with my forked as Sirius shushed me. I turned around again and saw him sitting beside a petite fair-skinned girl, with hair so blonde it was almost white. She was my mother. He whispered in her ear as they both looked at me with daunting eyes. Sirius grabbed my hand and undid my fists, lacing his fingers with mine.
"Hey, it's alright," he said softly. "Don't pay attention to them." I slammed my fork down onto my plate, and people sitting at the table looked over to see what was the matter. I smiled fakely at them and mouthed 'Sorry' until they all looked away and continued on with their conversations.
I lowered my voice so only Sirius could hear. "How can I not pay attention, knowing what they did." I caught myself. "Or what they're going to do." He squeezed my hand, knowing that the Great Hall was not the best place to carry on such a conversation. I pushed my plate away from me and stood up. "I'll see you in the common room, Sirius," I said giving him a peck on the cheek and exiting the Great Hall. I was half way up the first flight of stairs when I felt a tug on the back of my shirt. I turned around to see no other than Zephyros Horsefeather, towering over me even though I stood a few steps above him. He had thin lips and a pointed nose, and his eyes were completely black, devoid of any readable emotion.
"Hello, cousin," he said mockingly, eyeing me up and down. I did not say anything, for fear that my words would indicate I was indeed trembling. "I have to say that I did not know about you until just recently. Like you popped out of thin air." I made a gesture with his hand like he was conjuring a small object. He looked at me as though he were awaiting a reply.
I hesitated, trying to contain my quivers. "I've been abroad," I said shortly. Zephyros raised his eyebrows in disbelief.
"Abroad? All this time? What were you doing abroad?" He said as if he were trying to poke holes in my alibi. I threw my shoulders back.
"I have been in Romania," I said, looking him straight in the eye, "training dragons." My lie felt like a thin tower of rocks, ready to tumble down any second. He narrowed his glance at me, like he was trying to peer through my deception. I kept my eyes locked on his, not backing down. "Now, if you'll excuse me," I said as I turned around to head back up the staircase. Then a firm grip wrapped around my arm and pulled me backwards.
"You think you're so damn precious, don't you, filthy Gryffindor?" He hissed in my ear as his fingers dug into my skin. My mind was drifted back to the day when Draco shoved me into the broom closet. I tried to jerk my arm away, but his grip tightened. "You will ruin this family, blood traitor."
I begged the composure to return to my face as I looked him in the eye. "I would rather be a blood traitor than ever be like you," I hissed back at him, and I spit in his face. He raised his hand to slap me when I wand dug into the back of his neck.
"That's enough, Zephyros," Sirius warned. "Let her go and slither back into your hole." Zephyros let go of my arm as he turned to face him. I felt my own wand as it rested inside the pocket of my sweatshirt.
"Look who it is," Zephyros said sardonically. "Sirius Black, come to save his damsel in distress. How charming." He began to reach slowly for his wand. "Looks like the wench isn't the only one at this party who has soiled her family's name." My ears turned hot as I watched him and Sirius circle each other. I saw a vein grow larger in Sirius's forehead. "Stupe—"
"Expelliarmus!" I whipped my wand around and hit Zephyros straight in the chest. He flew off the stairs and hit the ground, his wand landing a few feet from him. He scrambled for it as I raised my wand again. I flicked my wrist as I walked down the steps toward him. "Stupefy!" He blocked my red stream of light. "Stupefy, Stupefy, Stupefy!" The last one hit him and he went flying again, landing several feet away on his back. He was on the ground, trying to get up when I stood over him, sticking my wand in his face. I yanked his wand out of his hand and threw it on the ground away from him. He looked like an angry wounded animal. "Don't ever come near me again," I said with a scowl. I turned to walk away.
"Filthy bitch!" he muttered. I turned on a dime.
"Reducto!" Zephyros rolled over quickly, barely dodging what looked like a small wrecking ball had collided with the ground where he lay. He scrambled to his feet, picked up his wand, and stormed off in the opposite direction. Sirius had barely moved an inch. "Thank you for coming," I said, trying to calm myself.
"You obviously did not need my help," Sirius said, wrapping his arm around me as we headed up the stairs. Students were beginning to rush to the scene, hoping to see the tail end of the action, but Sirius and I had already made it up a few staircases, and Zephyros was probably half way to the dungeons with his tail between his legs.
"I would not have been able to get myself out of that without you, though." It felt like electricity was surging through my body. "Damn, that felt good." Sirius laughed. I replayed the last few minutes in my head. My very first encounter I had with my father ended in a duel. I felt proud though. Pride that I had stood up to what I disliked most, not my father, but what he stood for: prejudice, hatred, and power over the weak. I felt my inner animal becoming more defined deep in my chest. I was beginning to find myself, as well as enjoy myself.
The next week came and went, and on Friday afternoon after our last class, I asked Sirius if we could continue with our lessons. He agreed heartily, and we headed to the Room of Requirement before dinner. "Another thing that you need to know about being an Animagus," he began, "is that it is really a soulful experience. You need to be honest with yourself and accept the person you are, or it won't work properly." I nodded my head, thinking about what he had just said. Being honest with myself meant being honest with him. I did not feel free unless Sirius knew my every nook and cranny just as well as he knew Hogwarts. He continues to speak when I interrupted him.
"Sirius," I said quickly, trying to get my thought out before I changed my mind. He looked at me, almost surprised. "I need to tell you something." He took a few steps toward me.
"Whatever it is, I'm sure it won't be as shocking as the last secret you told me," he smiled down at me, taking my hands in his. For some reason, I felt that what I was about to tell him was a bigger deal than me time traveling.
"Well, before I came here, to your time, I mean," I said, trying not to stumble over my words, "I was a Slytherin." Sirius furrowed his eyebrows, not fully understanding. I tried to explain further. "My first year, the Sorting Hat sorted me into Slytherin, not Gryffindor. I've only been in Gryffindor since that day I met you." I turned away and sat down in a chair in front of the fireplace, nervous of what Sirius was going to think. He did not say a word. "I did not tell you before because I know how you feel about people in Slytherin, and I did not want you to think I was like them. Dumbledore even said it too, that I'm a Gryffindor at heart." I dropped my head in my hands, not knowing what else to say explaining myself. I stifled a wet sob as Sirius's hands wrapped around my shoulder, and began to massage me. He leaned down to kiss my neck.
"My dear Marilyn," he said soothingly, "your name is the only thing that Slytherin can claim of you. Everything else, your hair, your eyes, your bravery, belongs to Gryffindor." He picked me out of my chair and pulled me close to him as he pressed his lips against mine, a single tear falling onto my cheek.
"I could belong to you too," I whispered against his lips as he ran his hands down my back slowly, lightly. He pulled me into him even closer, to where I could feel his heart beating against my chest. Or was that my heart? It was as if we were melting together in each other's embrace, and even our heartbeats began to match and meld together. "I could be yours, Sirius," I said again desire peppering my words. He released his lips from mine and looked into my eyes, his eyes glittering with passion and flickering from the light of the fire. He brushed my hair to the side and smile tenderly.
"Be mine, Marilyn," he said sweetly, stroking my face with his fingertips. "I want you beside me always." I rested my head on his shoulder as he took my hand and began to sway side to side. No music played as we danced slowly together, but that particular silence was the sweetest sound I had heard in years