CHAPTER 17

That night led to one of the best weeks I had ever had. It was a shame that the vacation was over. Saxton and the rest of the school would be returning in a few hours. I still hadn't talked to Saxton; I wanted him to believe I had died. I wanted to have the satisfaction of putting him in the hospital wing myself, although Sirius continued to believe that he was going to do it.

It was even better than I could have imagined. Not only did he think I was dead, but the look of shock was sketched all over his face. Priceless. Same with the little blonde girl he had his arm around. She was a year below us; her name was Ashley Parkinson, and sadly the gods weren't on her side when she received her looks. You have to love it when the ex down-grades to the lesser model.

Of course, after that nice little fiasco, Professor Slughorn immediately brought me aside and into his office for a "talk".

I shrugged and followed him into his office, closing the door quietly behind me. It really didn't bother me what kind of punishment I would receive, it was all well worth it.

I sat down in the large poofed up chairs that he had and declined his offer for tea. Being American raised, I absolutely hated tea.

"Miss Zilini, that was quite a stunt you pulled out in the Great Hall."

I only shrugged again.

"You used the Cunjuctivitis Curse to blind him, Revulsion Jinx to knock him into a wall, and then you proceeded to use the Jelly-Brain jinx to stop him from lashing back... and that's not even half of what you did before it took a professor to get to you both!"

I shrugged again. He was only saying things I already knew.

"My dear, don't you realize how incredible that is? It only took us a few moments to reach you both and already you had him down! Wilkes is an incredibly gifted lad and he had nothing on you! My dear, why have you been hiding this power?"

"I haven't been hiding it, sir. I just know when is an appropriate time to use it."

"Appropriate time?"

"Yes. Wilkes had tried to poison me over the Christmas break and it resulted myself being in the hospital wing for over a week and a half. Because he thought I was dead, he felt it necessary to sleep with another girl." My voice was matter-of-fact. I could see the unease that it cause Slughorn, but I didn't care. Saxton deserved everything he got. Unfortunately I felt no need for Parkinson to get involved in the curses too, for how was she to know what had happened? Although I do believe she might have been the one to call the teachers over by her obnoxious screaming. There is nothing wrong with seeing a boy try and claw at his eyes because he can't see. I was very upset with Saxton. He should have been better prepared. Everything he did was sloppily done. Training should have taught him more and better.

"M-my those are some allegations, Miss Zilini. Are you sure about that? Maybe you just came down with a s-sickness?" he was panicked. I guess the allegations were pretty fierce.

"No sir. I'm very positive it's what happened. He used hellebore, and everyone knows how poisonous that is. It's not like I just randomly started eating plants out of the greenhouses or anything." Slughorn was nodding in agreement.

"But you can't prove it was him..?"

"I don't have that many enemies here at school. None that would threaten me in such a way that he did. I may have people that dislike me, sir, but all know better than to fool with me."

"You seem very confident in your abilities, Miss."

"Yes sir. I know very well what I can and can't do. Dueling is something I can do very, very well."

It was just like that, that Slughorn had let me out of his office, even inviting me to join his Slug Club. He wanted me to be one of his collectibles is what he told me, perhaps in not that type of wording, but the point was made.

I found Sirius waiting outside of the Professor's office when I left. His grin was wide and he was bouncing all around me in happiness.

"What's got you all jumpy?"

"That was bloody fantastic!" he laughed, "Remind me never to do anything stupid around you for you to jinx me! I didn't know you had mastered the wordless spells."

"Well yeah. I had to. Can't really go around yelling curses in the middle of the street. It'd get too much attention, silly." I playfully pushed him. Together we left the dungeons and headed back up to the Great Hall. Dinner was being served and already I could hear rumors beginning about what had happened. I didn't necessarily make it the most quiet of all attacks.

"Did Sluggy say anything about your use of black magic?"

"It wasn't black magic. It was just curses and jinxes, really. And not necessarily. He was surprised that I knew them, but he was more amazed that I could pull it off so quickly before the teachers got there."

"Detention or anything?"

"Nope. Just an invitation to the Slug Club."

"Really? Jamie, Remus and I got invitations but we turned them down. Didn't feel the need to show off what we already knew." he winked. "That and I didn't want to be a collectors item for him. He already has my brother, he's not getting me too. James just goes to make Lily happy since she's in it too, but he usually leaves after a few minutes. Usually just long enough to get dessert." I shook my head, laughing. The Hall had become mostly quiet, watching me as we walked over to the Gryffindor table and sat down. People around us gave us more room than normal, as if they were afraid I was going to curse them or something. I sighed. This was going to be annoying.

"Way to go, Rina," piped little Peter. He eyed me a weird look, however. I had an inkling of what he was thinking though. I wasn't going to get hell from anyone else about it because they couldn't do anything about it. But I could get hell from a certain few that had already graduated... who only had to wait till I left the comfort of Dumbledore's reach to attack. I couldn't help but sit up straight and think about this realization. I had easily attacked one of the Death Eater's main supportive family. Saxton was used frequently, even during school periods (he used to claim he was sick and leave for a week at a time to commit the foul deeds that we had to do). His parents were high up and in the Dark Lords favor. And I had just sent their son to the hospital wings with scratches up and down his face, boils all over his body, and a severely broken leg and foot. That boy would be recuperating for weeks, even under Madam Promfrey's care.

"Yeah, thanks." I replied. My throat was dry and no amount of water or pumpkin juice was going to fix it. I was in deep shit. I knew it. Suddenly the food in front of us no longer looked appetizing. Conversations were going on around me, James and Lily talking fondly together over classes and homework, Sallie and Remus discussing something about Charms (it was easy to tell the subject; Sallie hated using her wand for anything other than Potions and always had extreme difficulty even doing the simplest task), and Peter was just giving me this oddly dark and sadistic smile that no one else seemed to notice around me. Sirius next to me was stuffing his face full of food, acting as if he hadn't eaten all day. The thought of eating made me want to gag. I couldn't take it. I stood up and left for the Slytherin dungeons before I would throw up. I was rattled. I was going to have to watch myself very closely...

Before I could even blink, I was thrown against the wall in the dungeon hallway. I could feel the cold wood of a wand against my throat and an arm on my collar bone, pinning me in place.

"One slight twitch of your arm and you're dead, Zilini." The deathly quiet voice said to me. Once the stars faded from my vision, I could see the dark outline of Severus Snape. Of course he would be the first one to come at me.

"What do you want, Snape?" I asked. I could barely breath because of the force that he was using. I was scared, and I knew he could tell. That seemed to bother me more than the current threat that I was facing however.

"Why did you attack Wilkes? He was needed tonight!" His voice was just above a whisper but it was dripping with venom. He was more poisonous right now than I was at any other time. The candles that lit the area didn't help any, they only seemed to make him that more menacing.

"He had it coming!" I whispered back. "He tried to poison me! Take me out!"

"He's too stupid for such a thing. Like the idiot knew what the hell it would take to poison anyone."

I eyed him warily. "What are you talking about? Of course he did it. He had his arm around Parkinson when he came back from the village. He tried taking me out so he could date whoever the hell he wanted."

"He would have dated whoever the hell he wanted anyways, with or without you out of the picture you conceited brat. He didn't give a shit whether you thought you were dating or a booty call. You stupid little girl. You've ruined everything!"

I didn't say anything. It was getting harder to breath and I could sense that he had no intention of letting me go anytime soon.

"He was supposed to go on a mission tonight specifically for the Dark Lord and you've completely ruined it. The Dark Lord is going to be furious when he finds out that you've put that idiot in the hospital wing."

"I don't want to hear about it, Snape. I don't care. He's disposable. He can find someone else to do Saxton's missions."

My mind was racing. Who was going to be the next person to take on this mission? And what was it anyways. What was so important that Saxton had to do it himself? And if he didn't poison me, then who the hell was trying to?

"You need to do it. You need to prove to the Dark Lord that you are worth keeping around because frankly he doesn't think so. He thinks you've gone off and joined the blood traitors that you hang out with so often. He knows what you've been doing here. He's not stupid. The Dark Lord knows how to keep tabs on those he doesn't trust."

"The Dark Lord doesn't trust anyone."

"Exactly." I could see the cogs behind Snapes eyes moving rapidly in thought. "You need to do it." he repeated.

"What do I have to do?" It came out in gasps. He had been pushing harder and harder on my collar bone, closing in on my windpipe. He didn't say anything but he let go of the pressure and lowered his wand. I had been loosing so much oxygen that I fell to the floor, gasping for air.

"You need to do it." He said once more. With a swish of his robes he left the dungeons, leaving me with the stars dancing in front of my eyes.

"Shit." was all I managed to mutter.

A/N: I know it's a little shorter than normal, but I've been having horrible writer's block! Hopefully another chapter in the morning, but please let me know what you think so far! :-D