In the Thick of Things
I stumble out of the Portkey stream into a dark nondescript room. Flailing from the momentum, I throw my hands out to prevent my head from hitting the floor and flip myself over on the ground to see Lucius Malfoy toss the tin can over his shoulder and pull out his wand.
Black ropes shoot out of the tip of his wand and before I can even attempt to scramble away, the ropes snake around my torso and bind my arms tight against my sides. Breathing heavily, I struggle to bring myself to my knees and then to my feet, watching Lucius with wary eyes.
So… here I am.
Standing here in this cold, dark room, completely disarmed and wandless. No idea where I am and no idea why I’m here. And, to top it all off, with a wicked Slytherin mad man, who (from the way he incapacitated me, James, and Sirius within seconds) is clearly more dangerous than I gave him credit for. Granted, he did catch us all off guard, but still.
I get the feeling that if he gets even so much as whiff of the fact that I’m not even Sirius Black, he’s going to do a lot worse than Stun me.
I clear my throat and try to channel every bit of Sirius I can even muster.
“What, Lucius?” I demand in what I hope is a intimidating voice. “What did you want to talk to me about? Why even bring me here?”
Lucius smirks and with a flick of his wand, a wooden chair speeds towards us across the floor and knocks against the back of my knees. I fall back on the chair from the impact.
“Have a seat, Black.”
I shake Sirius’ hair out of my eyes and glare up at Lucius. “Thanks,” I retort. “Now answer my question.”
“You don’t know why I brought you here?” Lucius raises an eyebrow. “Haven’t been reading my letters at all, Black? I’m hurt.”
“I…” I start, but immediately snap my mouth shut.
I literally have to suppress the sudden feeling of panic before it can flash across my face. He’s right. I have no idea what happened between Sirius and Lucius. Nothing of his letters, the dilemma with Regulus, or what on earth happened this past summer! But… no, I still got this. Just because I’m not Sirius doesn’t mean I’m completely clueless. C’mon, Cecilia, you know enough to at least bloody fake it!
“Fine,” I decidedly answer. “Then why bring me here? Why make a show of jinxing James and Si—Cecilia? We could have talked just fine in the Forbidden Forest.”
At this, Lucius lets out another humorless laugh. “Where’s the fun in that, Black?” He twirls his wand between his pale fingers. “I can’t say it didn’t positively delight me to jinx Potter and your little girlfriend, but regardless I thought you’d understand. We couldn’t very well speak openly of the Death Eaters so close to Hogwarts Grounds now could we? Dumbledore has ears everywhere.”
My brows furrow at his words.
Death Eaters? The renegade Dark wizards trying to cause havoc against the Ministry? I mean, forget the clear implication that Lucius is even a part of these insurgents, what has Sirius done to get involved with their gang?
“What…” I start slowly, “makes you think I want anything to do with the Death Eaters?”
Lucius eyes me suspiciously. “Playing hard to get are you? Even with Regulus’ insistence to the Dark Lord that you join us, you still have the nerve to play coy?”
Again, I have to resist looking completely bewildered. Wait, now I’m even more confused. Regulus? Joining the Death Eaters? Dark Lord?
I take a deep breath and steel myself. “Oh yeah?” I say, putting on a brave face. “Maybe I don’t think you’re worth talking to. Why don’t you get the Dark Lord to come and speak to me himself?”
Lucius blinks in surprise at first, but then his face morphs into a sneer. “Want to see the Dark Lord, do you?” He reaches down to pull up the sleeve of his robes. “If you want a death wish, Black, then I’ll give you your death wish!”
“You’re getting ahead of yourself, Lucius!”
I turn my head at the sound of the harsh female voice to see a young woman standing at the door. Her hair a mane of pitch black around her head. Her eyes a lined with a thick ring of inky darkness. The look in her eyes crazed and bloodthirsty.
She leans against the doorframe and brushes a long strand of hair away from her face.
“Lucius, Lucius, Lucius,” she says, her voice dark and husky, “you really want to bring the Dark Lord all the way here for something so trivial? And you wonder why you are still just a third-rate.”
Lucius drops his sleeve back down over his half-exposed forearm and turns to face the woman, his eyes narrowed.
I let out another yell through my teeth. I can feel the sound of it ripping my throat raw but it didn’t matter. I need someone to find me. Anybody.
“Who on ea—Cecilia!”
I hear the sound of footsteps rushing to my side and breathe a sigh of relief. At this point, it doesn’t really matter who it is, though some part of me is thankful that it isn’t Sonata’s voice I’m hearing right now.
“You know you don’t have to yell the entire time you’re dead,” Lily calls out as she jogs over to me. “You’re really bad at games aren’t you—what’s wrong?” She takes one look at my stiff body and then pulls out her wand. “Finite incantatem!”
My chest instantly heaves for much needed breath. “Thanks, Lily,” I gasp out. “Get James.”
“Wha—James? Where’s Sirius, Cecilia? I thought he was with you.”
“James now, questions later, Lily! He’s been Stunned. Just go get him!” I wave my arm towards his general direction. “Over there!”
Thankfully, Lily knew better than to ask questions at a time like this. I hear her rush over to him and utter “Rennervate,” followed by a loud groan from James.
I shake out the aching feeling in my arms and legs from trying to physically release myself from the jinx and run over to James and Lily. I screech to a stop before them and drop to my knees. “Prongs, you alright?”
James blinks several times and then rubs his forehead. “If you can call the bloody headache of my life alright,” he groans again. “Who the hell was that? That was some Stunning Spell.”
“Lucius Malfoy,” I reply darkly. “He took Cecilia.”
Lily looks at me, confused. “Cecilia?” she repeats. “What are you on about? You’re Cecilia.”
I shake my head tiredly. “It’s a long story, Lily.”
“What do you mean?” she insists. “What’s going on?”
I let out a short breath of exasperation. “Basically, Cecilia and I switched bodies because of this really old spell James cast on us yesterday and then just now Lucius Malfoy popped out of bloody nowhere, Stunned James, jinxed me, and then literally Portkeyed him and Cecilia, who is in my body, out to only Merlin knows where and because I’m a buggin’ idiot I didn’t tell anyone about how he’s out to get me!” I spit out all in one breath. “Basically, she’s screwed and we need to get her back, alright?”
James and Lily just gape at me, their jaws dropped.
“Wait…” Lily starts, “so why exactly is Lucius Malfoy out to get yo—”
“WE’RE WASTING TIME!” I interrupt loudly.
I feel myself start to hyperventilate from panic and I take a deep breath and swallow before continuing in a frankly sad attempt at a steady voice, “Right, you two, the point is that Cecilia’s in trouble and it’s my fault. I seriously don’t have time to explain everything to you.” I turn to James. “Prongs, do you have any idea how to fix us? This isn’t a joke anymore.”
James furrows his brows, his Stunned head clearly slowing his thinking processes. “What, fix what?”
“Fix me and Cecilia!” I have to take another deep breath to calm my nerves. “Right, I know you only had a day to even try to figure out a possible counter-curse, but right now Cecilia is in trouble and, for all we know, she could be surrounded by—”
I stop myself before I can finish my sentence, suddenly unsure how far I want to drag my best mate into this mess. But isn’t hiding things what got me into this situation in the first place? There’s something going in the Wizarding World that is bigger and more dangerous than any of us can imagine. Death Eaters. The bloody Dark Lord. I think we’re already all a part of this mess whether we want to be or not.
“Dark wizards,” I decidedly finish. “She’s among some very Dark wizards right now and the first priority is to figure out a way to switch back bodies. Do you have a counterjinx or even some amount of progress?”
But instead of giving me another quizzical look, James blinks and answers, “Yeah, I do actually.”
“Wait, you do?”
James pushes himself to his feet and brushes off his shirt. “Yeah, I’ve got a counterjinx,” he replies matter-of-factly. “Last night, I was flipping through the spellbook again and a piece of parchment fell out of the back cover with a list of counter-spells. I mean, it’s probably a load of bull, but it could work.”
“AND YOU DIDN’T THINK TO TELL US THIS LAST NIGHT?!” I exclaim incredulously, clutching my head.
He just shrugs, which actually kind of makes me want to Stun him again. “Well, you and Cecilia seemed to be having a row about Sonata anyway. I thought maybe if you guys spent a few days in each others’ shoes, you could make up! Or even make out—I’m kidding, I’m kidding!” He laughs and ducks from a punch I swing at him. “Anyway, it’s back in the Common Room.”
“Perfect,” I breathe out, a lot more relieved than angry. “No time to lose then. Let’s go, Prongs!”
“Ye-up, on it!”
James and I break out into a run back towards Hogwarts Grounds, but a few steps out, we nearly crash headlong into Remus, Sonata, and Peter.
“Whoa, Moony!” I blurt out when I faceplant right into his chest.
“Ow! Who the—?” Remus grips me by the shoulders to steady me and then peers at my face. “Cecilia? What’s wrong?”
“Moony, it’s me,” I remind him, slightly annoyed.
“Oh, right. Padfoot.” He quickly lets go of my shoulders. “What’s wrong?” he continues, still looking concerned. “Why are you, Prongs, and Lily all grouped together like this? Where’s Cecilia?”
“She’s gone,” I blurt out hastily. “I don’t have time to explain.”
He stares at me in shock. “Wait, Sirius, what do you mean gone?”
“Sirius?” Sonata repeats, pointing at me in confusion.
“And Cecilia?” Peter looks around, equally confused.
BLOODY HELL, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS.
I grab James’ arm and start pushing him back towards the castle again. “Lily, can you explain everything to this lot?” I yell over my shoulder as I sprint after him. “Just give them your inaccurate abridged version, alright, thanks!”
“Sirius, I don’t even know what’s going on!” she shrieks from behind me.