Characters/Pairings: Sybill Trelawney/Alecto Carrow
Warnings: Brief threat of violence
Word Count: About 3000
Summary/Description: Bad relationships don't necessarily start out that way.
Author's Notes: An unlikely pairing, generated by daily_deviant's 'alternate pairing' challenge. (the mods' wobbly smiley says it all: "o_O") - but the more I thought about these two, the more that a history between them made some sense. I hope you like what I've come up with, here.
Their eyes met as Alecto rounded the edge of the final spiral. She was red, and panting, rather - her stocky frame was clearly not used to stairs, and Sybill's chambers were at the very top.
Startled, Sybill dropped the glass she was holding; sherry pooled unheeded across her desk. She swallowed hard, then managed: "What do you want?"
"Tut, tut, Sybill. Where are your manners, eh? Is that all you've got to say to your old friend?" Alecto smiled, but is conveyed nothing of friendship. "I've been here three weeks, already, and you ain't even come by to say, 'hello'."
"Yes, well..." Sybill's hands started to quake, and she tapped her sleeve to check for her wand.
"'Well', what? Pah! Hiding up here, like you're better than everyone else - that's just like you, ain't it? Miss Mystic, all over." Alecto barked a laugh, obviously pleased with her joke.
Sybill stood at that, mentally reciting some defences and gathering her courage. She never could stand being mocked. "What do you want?"
"Oooh, going all masterful are we? You don't fool me. But, as you ask so nicely, I'm after information." She stomped around on the rug, enjoying the moment. "You were in the old toff's pocket, weren't you? Gave him a couple of prophecies, maybe more. So, what did you tell him? What's gonna happen next?"
All a blank, Sybill shrugged. "I don't know."
"Don't give me that."
"No, really; I don't know." Her hands flew together, and she compulsively picked at her nails.
"Look, we can do this the easy way, or..."
"I genuinely don't know anything-"
"-I said: Don't give me that!" Alecto strode forward, wand outstretched. She stopped just inches from Sybill, backing her against her desk in the corner and snarling like a pit-bull. "You tell me what you know, or you're gonna regret it, Trelawney."
"Honestly!" Sybill was hyperventilating, now. "I barely talked to Albus in the last couple of years, and, and... Seeing - it doesn't work like that. You should know, I've told you often enough! I don't know any more for certain than you do."
The reference to the past seemed to light a dim flicker behind Alecto's eyes, and her anger cooled a tad. "Mmmph. Fat lot of use, you are."
"It's true, I-"
"Well, it better be! In case you ain't noticed, we're the ones in charge around here, now, and you ain't got no stupid old man to cry to when you don't like it. So..." She pressed the tip of her wand in the hollow of Sybill's collarbone, and dragged a slow path downward, between her breasts. "...You better not be lying to me, Sybill...." The wand continued downward, along her belly. Sybill's breathing piqued in panic; she tried vainly to shuffle backwards but was blocked by the desk. Alecto grinned, and her own breathing sped up, too. "...Cause I know how prettily you scream with a fist shoved up your cunt, and I wouldn't be stopping there..."
"Alecto." Sybill paused by the table, taking in the dark hair and set expression.
"Well, don't just stand there like a lemon." She proffered a pint of ale, but when Sybill didn't take it, she hesitated - and then sprang to her feet and caught Sybill in a fierce hug.
"It's been ages." Sybill murmured into the crook of Alecto's neck; she felt the apprehension draining from her, and bent to bury her nose.
"I know, you daft cow. You should've come with me."
Long moments later, they settled back down, and Sybill bade the Leaky's barman bring a gillywater. It was good to be reunited; it felt so right. The disquiet she had been suffering needed a voice, though. "I don't know what you were up to that was so secret? No owls, no floos... I thought..."
"God, Sybs, not at all!"
"But you can see that, can't you? How it felt to me? I thought that you just weren't interested anymore, and that I should just-"
"-Bloody hell, no." A less tough woman might have admitted to a catch in her throat just then, but Alecto would surely have put it down to the third beer. She shook her head and looked Sybill in the eye; the attachment was clear.
Something inside Sybill's heart that had been wound to snapping-point seemed to uncoil. She realised that the past three months seemed quite unimportant to her, now - what mattered was that they were back together, and could go on from there. "Right. Well, I've got some news of my own, actually. While you were away, I was having a good think about how I can apply my talents, and... to cut a long story short, I've been offered a job!"
"Well done, Syb, that's great news." Jobs had not been easy to come by, of late. For school-leavers like them, it really was a coup. Then, Alecto's little eyes opened as wide as they were able, and she flicked into overdrive. "-At the Ministry, yeah? Department of Mysteries? They always need Seers, don't they? God, you know, that could be really useful. We'll make such a good team, you 'n' me. Just wait 'til I tell-"
"-Al, you're getting ahead of yourself!" Sybill laughed; it was nice to see Alecto so animated. "It's not at the Ministry. I'm taking up the Divination chair at Hogwarts."
"Hogwarts?" Her face fell.
"Yes. Professor Dumbledore offered me the position last week, starting in September."
"Dumbledore? Oh God..."
"Of course, 'Dumbledore'! He's the Headmaster, isn't he? -And jolly nice that is, too. You might not have heard while you were away, but they say the trouble's getting worse. Those ghastly people could be anywhere, now, and I, for one, would really appreciate being near a great wizard like that. Someone who protects others, and..." Sybill frowned. "What is it, Al? What's the matter?"
Alecto was no longer looking at her. Her jaw was locked tight, framed by full lips pressed together in the thinnest of scowls. "That's it, then, is it? 'Those ghastly people'?"
"Oh, come on, Al. We've discussed this. You know that I think, Pureblood or not, that-"
"-Well, maybe jobs aren't so easy to come by, for those of us without talents! Oh, I'm sorry," - the sarcasm dripped from her words - "maybe now you're one of Dumbledore's chosen few, you've forgotten what it feels like to be shat on, all the time? Well, I bloody well haven't. And I can tell you, it's nice to be offered some hope for a change!"
"Oh, honestly. You wouldn't-". The words froze in Sybill's mouth as Alecto snatched back her sleeve. Sybill had seen that symbol in The Prophet before - snaking in sickly black and white over the embers of someone's home - but up close, it seemed even more terrifying, pulsing and twisting under the skin, the Dark stain mingling with blood.
The world seemed to slow down absurdly; noises were muffled, her hands felt stiff and throbbing and her voice stuck in her chest.
The moment was broken only by Alecto's plea: so guttural, it could have been mistaken for a cough. "Come with me."
Sybill's eyes were welling; indeed, she vaguely noticed that her cheeks were already wet. She didn't answer, but the revulsion must have been clear on her face.
Alecto stood and strode out of the pub without her pint or a backward glance.
They were nestled beneath Ravenclaw drapes, flushed and panting. Alecto's thick fingers still rested at the top of Sybill's legs, and Sybill's scrawny ones cupped Alecto's breast like treasure.
"So was that...?" The words were gruff and tentative.
"Yes!" Sybill couldn't have pretended otherwise even if she had wanted to, and an unaccustomed expression of pride spread over her girlfriend's face at the words. She'd never actually be pretty, but just then, with black hair tousled all about, generous curves unabashedly on show and a rare open smile, Alecto looked beautiful. "...And for you?"
"Yeah." Her gaze became rather shy. "I never knew that... well, never expected, really. Y'know. That someone would..."
"Of course they would. Of course I would!" Sybill pulled Alecto toward her for another kiss. "Gods, Al. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Alecto looked genuinely surprised, and her eyes focussed somewhere in the middle distance. "Me, too. I mean... about you." They laughed at that, and Alecto rolled over to lie on her front. "So, umm... when do the rest of the brainboxes get back?" She gestured at the room beyond the curtains.
"They'll be in Hogsmeade for the whole afternoon. But you should know by now - not everyone in 'Claw is that bright."
"Easy for you to say." Alecto rolled her eyes; NEWTS were only a few months off, now.
"Not really. I don't expect to get a good grade in anything apart from Divination - and maybe do ok in Charms. Arithmancy and Transfiguration are an absolute washout."
"-Yeah, well, at least you're not gonna get straight T's." She grimaced, ruefully.
"It can't be that bad?" Sybill rested her hand on Alecto's back, in what she hoped was a supportive gesture.
"Oh, believe me, it is. The world doesn't want people like us, Syb. Around here, the teachers've only got room for a handful of top scholars. Everyone else can just fuck off into the gutter, as far as they're concerned." Her eyebrows knitted together, and she looked slightly sick. "I have no bloody idea what I'm gonna do next year. Where to go. Who'll have me.
"We might have the name, but my family's had next-to-no galleons for about two hundred years, and I'm pretty sure there's bugger-all left, now." Alecto sighed. Then, slowly, her expression changed into something a bit more hopeful. "'Ere! You can tell the future, can't you?"
That made Sybill frown. "That's not really how I'd put it. The Sight works in mysterious ways; sometimes it speaks to us, sometimes it does not. Most of the time, we just get clues and have to interpret them. -You remember that from third year, surely?" She tried not to lecture, but Alecto should know by now that it wasn't so simple.
"Yeah, whatever," - she didn't seem to be listening - "but you can do something, right? Tell me where I'm gonna go; what's gonna happen."
Sybill untangled herself from Alecto's embrace to reach some cards. She wasn't sure it was a good idea to acquiesce to such a thing - wasn't Madam Surithiva always saying that one should not read for one's nearest and dearest for fear of the complications? -But Alecto looked immediately cheered as she grabbed a pillow, rested it on her big stomach and sat, cross-legged and expectant. It was difficult to refuse when her girlfriend asked so earnestly.
Sybill tried to clear her mind as she shuffled, hoping that she could bring some peace. She focussed on Alecto and her questions: What would happen to her? What would be her future?. Settling on a simple spread, Sybill dealt five, upside down on the coverlet.
One by one, she turned them over. The Magician. That meant a person with great influence; an inspirer. Death. Ominous, but sometimes misinterpreted? The Page of Swords, reversed. Bad companions. This was getting worse.
Frantically, Sybill grabbed for the last two cards. The Tower. The Devil. ...Oh, God. Her throat constricted so much she couldn't swallow.
"Well?" Alecto smiled across at her. "What did you find out?"
Sybill twitched, eyes still glued to the reading. She tried to pull herself back to the present. "Ah... I don't think it's working for me, today, actually. Can't tell much..."
"What? Nothing at all?" Alecto looked crestfallen.
"No," she lied, "-Like I said, the Inner Eye can't just be summoned like that." She swiped the cards away into her drawer. "But, hey - we've got this room to ourselves for the next few hours, so..." Sybill forced a smile - anything to move the conversation on, and to get that vision out of her head. Surely, she told herself, she must have made a mistake?
Alecto threw the pillow aside and moved on top of Sybill once more. Her warm skin was a good antidote to all such worries. "Alright," she said, with soft sullenness, "Since you mention it..."
With tears streaking down her face, Sybill ran as fast as she could away from the girls' dormitory. She didn't care that it was after curfew; she just had to get away from them.
Why did they have to be so nasty? Hadn't Ilana Crook said, just this morning, that she would be Sybill's friend? -And they'd sat together at break - only to find her just now joining the others, whispering behind their hands and calling out names?
Sybill sniffed deeply and almost tripped over the edge of the carpet as she pelted along the corridor. Her spectacles were so steamed-up, it was almost as bad with them as without them - and without them, the world was so blurry, she was practically blind. When the others stole her glasses from her bedside table, she could barely make it to the loo in the morning - and they'd pretend not to notice, tittering as Sybill groped for the door handle.
That had been the first of a million things, that day. She had gotten really angry and shouted just now, but that just made them laugh even more. Sophia and Ellie had called some others over - some second years, who Sybill didn't really know - and they had joined in, asking her all those nasty questions about why her hair looked like something the cat threw up, and why she couldn't even Transfigure a teacup into a saucer. From there until after lights-out, it had just become worse and worse, until...
-Sybill tore through passageways, up staircases and under archways, not really knowing where she was going. She stopped only when she ran out of breath, scrawny chest heaving and eyes darting around furtively, unsure as to where she was, or why it was so dark.
A polish of her glasses suggested that she was in a classroom, but - given the cobwebs - not one that had been used for some while. Spying a chair against the wall, Sybill collapsed into it and began to weep again, in earnest.
"Oi. Who's there?" The voice came from the shadows across the room. It sounded young, but hard.
"No... no-one..." answered Sybill, then realised how futile that was.
She could see a candle lit, and heard some short strides. The pool of light brought a stocky girl with dark hair and miserable eyes. "Yeah, you're a first year, ain't you? Ravenclaw. I've seen you in hall. What's your name?"
"Right. Why're you here?"
Sybill decided that there was no point in trying to hide it. "I was being bullied in my dorm, so I ran away."
The girl took that in, and seemed to consider. Straight away, Sybill felt sick again with worry. Maybe that admission had been a terrible mistake. She had pretty much suggested that this strange girl start up where the others had left off, hadn't she? Oh, Merlin. If there was one more cruel word that day, Sybill didn't think she could bear it.
Finally, though, the girl sighed. "Me, too." She cast around the shadows for a moment. "I'm Alecto. I'm Slytherin."
"Slytherin?!" The surprise distracted Sybill from her apprehension and tears. "Slytherins don't get bullied."
"Pah!" Alecto looked at her derisively. "What blood are you?"
It seemed a funny question; it seemed nothing to do with what they had been saying. "Um, Pureblood."
"Oh, are you? Can't be so bad, then. But in Slytherin, everyone's Pureblood. But you try being in Slytherin and being poor."
Sybill thought about that. "So are they... are they nasty to you about it?"
"Course they bloody are." Alecto had a harshness beyond her years. "And they say I'm fat, and I'm stupid. The girls've shrunk all my clothes with a charm. I don't know how to reverse it, and they laugh behind my back and say they ain't done nothing and it just must be 'cause I've got fatter. And they steal my homework what got bad grades and pin it up on the common room board with loads of extra jokes writ around the edges." She delivered all that with a set face, as if she was threatening Sybill to laugh.
Sybill did not; indeed, her heart went out to the girl, and she suddenly felt less frightfully alone.
"Anyway," Alecto concluded, "What's up with you? If you're a Pureblood in Ravenclaw, I don't know what they can say against you. You've got to be better than most of 'em, already."
Sybill took that in, still somewhat puzzled. "I guess we don't... think about blood, much. But they say I'm ugly, and useless, and no-one will be my friend - not even the ones who sometimes pretend to be."
Alecto gave a stiff nod, then paused. "You don't look so bad, to me."
"Thanks." Sybill mustered a smile.
"Where are you from?"
"Truro, in Cornwall. And you?"
"London. East End of. The bit that stinks."
"Well, you don't seem too stinky to me." Sybill smiled, then laughed at her own bravery. She was gratified when Alecto started to laugh, too.
It was past four in the morning when the two girls stopped talking and resolved that they had better go back to bed. It had been the nicest three-and-a-half hours that Sybill could remember since she had joined Hogwarts in September.
They had found out that they liked some of the same animals, and even had a few distant relations in common. Best of all, though, was the sense that someone understood how bad it was up there; someone who was going through the same thing, just in a different part of the castle. Sybill thought that Alecto was very nice, even though she did ask some funny questions.
They were just about to go their separate ways in the corridor, when Alecto turned, suddenly looking hesitant. She swallowed hard, and picked at her fingernails. "So... d 'you think we could be friends?"
Sybill's heart did a somersault and she could feel the grin tugging at her ears. "Friends forever?"
Alecto nodded and spat on her palm, holding it out in oath. "Forever."