Chapter 1 : Cleaning Windows
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I sighed, tapping my fingers gently against the polished surface of the wooden table. The sound of my fingers hitting the table echoed throughout the empty room, bouncing off the stone walls and tiled floor. I shivered. The room was cold.
I pushed my chair back, wincing as it scraped loudly across the floor, and stood up. Brushing my hair from my face, I began walking across the room. I opened the door at the far end and called out.
No answer. I walked through the door and jogged up the steps across the hall, my hand sliding across the banister as I ran. Once I reached the top I stopped, panting and out of breath. I could hear low voices from a room nearby. I tiptoed across the landing, my socks touching the soft green material of the carpet, and stopped outside my brother’s bedroom door.
“It’s illegal – we can’t!” A small, squeaky voice was saying.
“Oh, shut up, Pete. It’s for Moony’s sake. Do it for Moony.” Another voice grumbled.
“Guys, you don’t have to do this,” I heard my brother mutter, “Peter’s right – it’s illegal, what if you got caught?”
“We won’t,” A new voice assured him, “James and I have got it all planned out.”
“Sirius, if you get in trouble for this I’ll never forgive myself –”
“For God’s sake, Remus! We aren’t going to get caught!”
There was a moment’s silence. I took my chance. Lifting my hand up, I knocked on the door three times.
“Who’s that? I thought you said we were alone, Remus?”
“Shh!” My brother’s voice hushed, “Come in.”
I opened the door and walked in, shyly. My brother jumped up as soon as he saw me.
“Um, hi Remus.” I mumbled. Three other boys were sat around the room with my brother.
Sat on a small chair was a chubby boy with wavy brown hair and small, watery blue eyes. Next to him, perched on the dresser, was a tall boy with black, messy hair and hazel eyes. He smiled at me as I glanced at him. I looked away, towards the windowsill, where another black haired boy sat, watching me. A small smile played around his lips as his electric blue eyes bore into my green ones. He was quite thin and wore a plain black top and ripped blue jeans. His eyes twinkled as his grin widened. I tore my eyes from him and turned back to my brother, who was watching me, expectantly.
“Where have John and Marie gone?” I asked, referring to his parents. He frowned. I had been adopted into their family when I was three months old – my real parents had left me alone in a park. I had been taken into an orphanage until the Lupins decided to take me in. Remus always urged me to call them my mother and father, but I refused.
“They went out,” He replied, “They said they were going to pick some things up from Diagon Alley.”
“I’ll be in my bedroom if you need me,” I muttered, turning to go.
“No – wait!” Remus said. I looked back and raised an eyebrow. He continued, “you can stay with us if you want.”
I blinked, as I looked around at his friends, who all looked confused. They probably wondered who I was.
“No thanks,” I said, “I have things to do before your parents come home.”
I began to walk out of the room. As I reached the door, I heard the boy on the dresser speak.
“Are you Remus’ maid?”
I stopped and turned around slowly, my body rigid.
“No.” I spoke angrily.
I turned and quickly walked out, slamming the door.
I dipped the sponge into the bucket, making it wet with water. As I brought it out, I heard a voice from the doorway.
“You’re his sister, aren’t you?”
My body stiffened. I turned and looked at the person in the doorway, opening my mouth angrily. It was the boy from the windowsill. My words caught in my throat as I stared at him. His hair was dangling around his eyes; his lips were wet and smiling.
“You are!” He grinned, when I didn’t respond, “You’re Remus’ sister!”
“No!” Well, it was half true. Even though I considered him my brother, he wasn’t actually related to me, therefore, I was not his sister.
“If you’re not his sister, and you don’t work for the family – who are you?”
“I’m... I’m his cousin.” I lied.
The boy’s forehead creased.
“Remus doesn’t have any cousins…”
“Neither does he have sisters.”
“I’m Sirius.” The boy said, extending his hand.
“Anastasia.” I replied stonily.
“That’s a lovely name.”
“Thanks.” I replied.
“What are you doing?” He asked, as I turned back to the window.
“Cleaning the windows.” I replied.
“Why?” He asked, watching as I wiped the sponge across the window panes.
“They were dirty.” I replied. Why else would I be cleaning the windows?
“I still think you’re Remus’ sister.” He said. I could almost see the grin that was surely plastered across his face. I turned around to respond, but he was already walking out of the room. I sighed.
Thinking back to the conversation I had overheard earlier, I wondered what they were up to. It was obviously illegal, probably dangerous and most likely to have something to do with magic.
Magic. That was one thing that separated me from Remus’ family. Remus and his parents were magic. They possessed wands and several magical items were dotted around the house – moving paintings, broomsticks, floo powder and more. Remus went to a school that only taught witches and wizards. The school was called Hogwarts, and that was where he must have met Sirius and the other two boys.
I wasn’t magic. I had not one drop of magic running through my veins. I was what wizards called ‘muggles’ – a non-magical person. I often felt left out and different compared to my ‘family’. Them being magic just reminded me that I was not a part of their family. I was intruding upon their life.
I attended a boarding school in the northwest of England. It was called Oakland. It was a huge brick building with large iron gates and stained glass windows. It was a religious school, although I didn’t believe in any religion. Every Sunday, the students had to go to the Church down the road, and worship God.
I only had one friend at Oakland – I didn’t really fit in there. My friend was called Michael, and he had been my friend since our first year – three years ago.
Michael lived at the other side of the country, so I didn’t get to see him at all during the holidays. I really missed him. It was my first Christmas away from school, as I usually choose to spend Christmas at school.
I finished the window I was cleaning and threw the sponge back into the soapy bucket. Then I slowly carried the bucket into the kitchen and emptied the dirty water in the big sink in the corner. I was just drying my hands when I heard two loud noises behind me.
I jumped and dropped the tea towel I was using on the floor. I picked it up quickly and smiled at the new arrivals.
“Good afternoon, John,” I smiled at my ‘father’, “Good afternoon Marie.”
I quickly exited the room.
“Oh – Anastasia!”
I looked up. Remus was midway down the stairs.
“Hello Remus,” I grinned, “John and Marie just got home.”
“I know,” He nodded, “I heard them.”
He shuffled his feet.
“Why did you tell Sirius you’re my cousin? I was going to tell them the truth…”
“Tell them the truth?” I asked, alarmed, “I thought you’d have told them that you had a younger sister – oh, I’m sorry, I forgot - I’m not even your sister, am I? Don’t worry, my mistake.”
I began to walk away, but he ran down the stairs and grabbed my wrist.
“No, you’re not my real sister,” He hissed, “You’re a horrible, sarcastic little girl who isn’t even grateful to the people who have been kindest to you throughout your whole life. You can’t even accept the people who took you in when your real parents didn’t want you!”
I stared at him, shocked. He had never said anything so mean to me before.
“Yeah, that’s right,” He hissed, “Your parents didn’t want you. And now I can see why. Who would want you? You’re just a pathetic, lying, ungrateful little girl. You’re not even fit to wipe mud from my mothers boots.”
My eyes clouded over with tears, but I quickly blinked them away. I didn’t want him to know that what he’d said had really gotten to me. I pushed past him and ran up the stairs to my bedroom.
“Anastasia!” He called after me, but I ignored him – I wasn’t going to submit myself to more insults and hurtful words.
I pushed open my bedroom door and collapsed on my bed, floods of tears spilling from my eyes, my breath clogging up in my throat, choking me. I couldn’t breathe. How could Remus say such hurtful things to me? I tried my hardest to make them see how grateful I was – I helped out around the house, I cooked tea and I ran errands for them. I even offered to take the family dog, Ben, for a walk every day. I tried my best to make them proud of me, to fit into their family, but no matter how hard I tried, it would never be enough.
I scrambled off my bed and closed the door, tears still trickling down my cheeks. I walked towards the dresser and opened a drawer, taking out a battered, old photo album.
It was the photo album my real parents had left tucked under my blanket when they abandoned me in the park. I opened it and looked at the first photograph. I hadn’t looked at the photographs for years.
The first photograph showed a pretty, dark haired woman holding hands with a man, who also had dark hair. The woman had a slight bump in her stomach. They were on the beach and looked happy to be there together.
The next few pictures were similar, but in different places – like at the movies, or at the bar, or in the park. The seventh picture was different, however. The woman now had a definite bump – she was pregnant, and the man looked a lot slimmer. They still looked happy together, and had a couple of friends around them.
A few photographs after that showed the same woman. Her hair had been cut, and her bump was twice the size as it was in the last photograph. On the back, in small writing, was a little message:
One week before baby due.
The next photo was of the woman, the man, and their newborn baby. They were in hospital and looked ecstatic. The baby was me. I was the baby that they were so delighted to have. So why did they leave me?
The next few photos were of me as a very young baby. In one of them, I wore a lovely knitted blue and yellow hat, and I was in an old lady’s arms. She was my grandmother. I just knew it. We had the same big green eyes.
There were a couple more photographs, most of them including me. There were a couple of my parents in the park, with me in a little pram. My mother looked exhausted and my father looked unhappy. I wondered if it was because of me?
In the last picture, I was asleep in my father’s arms. He looked extremely unhappy. He was crying. I obviously had no idea what was going on – they were going to give me up.
On the back of the photograph it said:
I’ll come back for you, my baby.
..but he never did.
I closed the album and put it back in the drawer. My tears had dried and my face was sticky. I moved across to the door and walked out onto the landing. Keeping my head down, I quickly made my way to the bathroom.
Locking the door behind me, I rushed over to the sink and splashed water over my face. I dried my face and brushed my long, black hair. Then I slowly placed my hand over the doorknob and turned.
I opened the door to be greeted by Sirius. I frowned.
“Hey.” He spoke. I smiled sadly and moved away from the bathroom.
“Have you been crying?” Sirius asked, studying my face.
“No!” I cried out. I moved away from him and hurried down the stairs.