Chapter 38

The entrance hall contained a few last-minute stragglers, all leaving the Great Hall after lunch and heading through the double oak doors to enjoy the weather outside, as it was quickly warming up. Some watched as Ines and Lily made their way past and inside. The ceiling was reflective of the clear sky outside, and the seats were mostly empty. They had had a late night, staying up to study for their transfiguration exam that they had taken that morning. Having skipped breakfast they were starving and had yet to get their mail.

Sitting on the far end of the Gryffindor table, various parts of their meal appeared before them. Not long after they had sat down had their mail arrived, Ines large gray owl swooping down next to her with Lily's in front. From its leg, Ines pulled the Daily Prophet and a Witch Weekly, nor having received a single letter since she was kicked from her family. Lily pulled a Daily Prophet as well, along with a letter from her mother, and Transfiguration Today.

"I can't believe McGonagall made us so nervous for the exam, and it wasn't even half bad " Ines muttered, a mouthful of roast beef. Ines put down her bread, swallowing so she could talk, "Speak for yourself, I'm still a right mess over it!". Ines giggled, shaking her head, "You did fine, I checked my answers with yours before we turned them in and they all seemed right.". Lily's head snapped to Ines', "You cheated!". "It's not cheating Lily-flower" Using the name she knew she would hate, "I was simply cross-checking our answers, I ended up having to change only a few of mine."

Ines flipped open the Daily Prophet only to find her father's face staring back at her. The Goblin Liason office had been given an award from the minister for its excellence in 'taking incredible care of the magical economy and the relations between goblins and wizards'. Her father had a smile on that she had never seen before, at least never towards her. He was surrounded by the rest of the department, yet standing front and center. Ines' change in demeanor was immediately noticed by Lily who opened her Daily Prophet to find the same. After quickly skimming she flipped hers to the next page and shoved it in front of Ines, "Look, Wales versus Germany." she said. The page had a large photo of the Whales seeker, having caught the Snitch eleven minutes into the game. Ines looked to Lily, silently communicating her thanks before reading the article.

After a half-hour more, students came into the Great Hall, avoiding the rain that now poured outside. They were left alone for the most part, save for a few hellos and short conversations, until a crowd of Slytherins made their way in, lead by Mulciber. They made their way down the length of the great hall, invested in a very interesting conversation. They passed the girls and Ines caught a few words from Mulciber, words that shook her to her core. "Pomfreys a right mess, nasty, Dumbledores probably up there speaking to Oberon and filthy Black now.". Cryptic, but not enough to keep Ines at bay. She immediately sat upright, her eyes wide. She turned to Lily, seeing if she heard the same. The expression on her face illuded that she had and the girls quickly packed up their stuff and sped from the Great Hall.

Pushing against the tide of students the girls made their way to the staircase, waiting until it made its way to the correct landing. The move was slow, only increasing their anxiety. Ines' hands were shaking now, any interaction between Oberon and Sirius was bad enough. But one that has Pomfrey a mess and a conversation with Dumbledore set her almost over the edge. Tears were forming around her eyes now, Lily reached across the stairwell and pulled her into a quick hug and whispered about how it would be ok before the stair reached the correct floor and they set off again. The sprinted through the halls, ignoring the glares and remarks they got from the paintings. They rounded the corner to the hospital wing and was faced with Remus, James, and Peter who were walking out. They opened their mouths to speak to her but she strutted past. Madame Pomfrey was alarmed by the loud footsteps and poked her head out from behind a screen. "Ah! Miss Avery". She looked very frazzled, so much so that she had forgone her usually tight bun.

Ines took a sharp turn towards the bed only to be looking down at Oberon. Ines was taken aback, not expecting to have seen him but rather Sirius. He was asleep with his shirt ripped up, the openings lined with dried blood. Ines didn't speak, both out of shock and lack of reaction. Madame Pomfrey looked up at her confused, expecting a reaction that wasn't the one she was currently giving. The sound of an opening door drew the attention away from them, Sirius, led by Dumbledore an McGonagall, was walking out of Madame Pomfrey's office with solemn faces. Ines stalked away from Oberon's bed and back towards where her friends were standing. Dumbledore and McGonagall bid Sirius goodbye and nodded to them all.

Sirius wasn't nearly as hurt as Oberon but hurt all the same. Small lacerations on his face and arms and bruises all over, but on his feet. They walked out of the hospital wing silently and stepped away into the corridor. Ines stood alone, Lily having been filled into the situation stood with the boys, facing Sirius. "What happened," Ines whispered, unsure if she should be angry or relieved. Sirius took in a breath and placed his arms at his side. "I… did that to him.". "Why!" Ines spat out. He took in another breath, "He laughed about… you, the Prophet it-". Ines cut him off, "In what way did it warrant attacking him?". Sirius was getting frustrated now, "The Prophet it … spoke horribly about you in the article on your father. He … laughed and agreed. So I attacked him! So what!". He was raising his voice now, getting angrier, "Why do you care! He's been horrible to you! Your whole family has been! Suddenly when I fight back you want to defend him! You hate him! You-!"

SMACK! She had slapped Sirius across the face with all the strength she could muster. Sirius staggered. James, Remus, Peter, and Lily stood flabbergasted as Ines raised her hand again. "Don't you dare, you foul — you evil —" She didn't know what to say to him, partially because she wasn't even sure how she felt.. "Ines!" said James weakly, and he tried to grab her hand as she swung it back. "Get off, James!". Ines pulled out her wand. Sirius stepped backward yet again. "C'mon," Sirius muttered, reaching out for Ines' arm which she back away from and stalked off, making her way back down the hall, letting the tears finally pour out.