Chapter 14 : Broken-Winged Birds...
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"Good morning, Mr. Potter. I trust you slept well?"
James nodded politely and sat down in a chair facing the Headmaster.
"I assume that you are curious to know why you are here. It turns out that your friend Miss McKinnon is in fact a Seer, and-"
"Ash is a Seer?" James interrupted, astonished. *Whoa, did not see that one coming.* "How long have you-"
"Only since around three a.m. this morning," Dumbledore chuckled. "She and Miss Evans paid me a visit quite early this morning, and we confirmed that Miss McKinnon is indeed a Seer."
James gaped at him, mouth open in shock. *Wow. Next thing he'll be telling me is that Lily's a veela. Hell, I could believe she was a veela, with those curves�*
"Er, wow, Sir," he stuttered. "Uh, what does that have to do with me though?"
"She had a vision about you last night, which is the reason that she and Miss Evans came to my office."
"She had a vision about me?" James exclaimed, dumbfounded.
"Miss McKinnon claimed that in her vision she saw you and your father at the edge of a forest at sunset," Dumbledore explained.
By the expression upon James' face, he did not need to explain what Lucan had done in the vision. The boy gripped the arm of his chair so tight that his knuckles became white, and gritted his teeth.
"He beat me, didn't he."
It was not a statement. James could feel Dumbledore's piercing blue eyes on him, so intense that he felt certain that he was reading his thoughts.
"Yes," the headmaster said.
James laughed bitterly.
"It figures. Just when I thought things were beginning to look better. I can't believe I actually hoped he had decided to leave me alone."
"It is never foolish to hope for dreams, James. In the words of a great American poet, Langston Hughes, 'Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken winged bird That cannot fly'," Dumbledore said softly.
"My life has been a broken winged bird since it started, Professor. Dreams are for birds with both wings," James said angrily.
Dumbledore smiled, amused.
"In a way, I disagree with Mr. Hughes. What you stated may very well be true, but you have forgotten that you still have one fully functional wing, have you not?"
James was at a loss for words, and Dumbledore chuckled.
"You see? Your other wing still gives you a chance to fly, even though one is broken. Your life may is not easy, Mr. Potter. Your hardships certainly have given you a broken wing. But, if you will not believe that you have a chance to overcome these setbacks, that there is hope that they can be overcome, then you are wasting your other wing. If you have no hope, you may as well have two broken wings."
James sighed and ran his hair through his messy, raven colored hair.
"I do hope that Lucan will be locked up in Azkaban for the rest of his miserable years, but I just can't see it happening. It would almost be too good to hope for."
" Your obstacles will be overcome, one way or another," said Dumbledore firmly.
James was puzzled by the man's certainty, but said nothing.
"That is all, Mr. Potter, you may go. Oh, and remember that rain always falls, no matter how fearful it is that it will crush a flower with its strength."
Dumbledore beamed at him, and James mouthed like a goldfish out of water for a few moments before giving up on trying to understand his eccentric headmaster and hurried hastily out the door.
Lily and Ashley ran out of the girls' dormitory, clutching their sides with laughter. A few moments after they had burst into the common room, a high-pitched scream rang throughout all of Gryffindor Tower, and Trewyn appeared at the foot of the stairs seconds later. The two mischievous girls had slipped a Boil Brew into the other girl's facial spa cream and muggle electric green hair dye into her shampoo. Now, standing with a towel wrapped around her, neon green hair dripping and face covered with acne, Trewyn Li looked like a muggle fairytale's description of a wicked witch, which Lily and Ashley found to suit her very well.
"YOU! Look what you FREAKS have done!" she roared, which was quite a change from her usual smooth, seductive, snobbish voice.
The two girls collected themselves long enough to respond.
"What's wrong Trewyn?" Ashley asked innocently.
"What do you mean, 'look what you've done'? You look perfectly normal to me!" Lily smirked, and she and her comrade both fell back into loud laughter.
"I swear, if it�s the last thing I do, I'll make your lives living hells!" she snarled, and flounced back into the dormitory.
Lily and Ashley continued to laugh.
"That-that was priceless!" Ashley gasped.
"I wish I had had my camera! Trewyn Li covered in acne and with electrocuted spinach for hair!" said Lily.
Before Ashley could respond, the portrait hole swung open and Aria and Sirius walked in, hand in hand, laughing softly and almost nervously. Lily and Ashley exchanged questioning looks before looking imploringly at Aria. She avoided their eyes, as did Sirius. Lily cleared her throat loudly, and the two-lovestruck teenagers' heads snapped towards her and Ashley. Sirius and Aria blushed. Suddenly, it dawned upon the other two as they realized what had happened to make their friends act in such an odd way.
"Oh my God!" Lily squealed, bouncing up and down.
"Its bloody well about time!" exclaimed Ashley, beaming upon the couple. "If you two hadn't hurried along, we would've locked you in a closet until you did!"
"When? How?" Lily asked.
Aria was about to answer when James, Remus, and Peter came through the portrait whole. The three boys had a look of confusion on their face as they took in their surroundings. A bouncing Lily, who looked as if Christmas had arrived; a beaming Ashley, who looked as if she had just won a hundred galleons; and a smiling, bashful Sirius and Aria, who were holding hands.
"What's going on?" asked Peter, utterly confused.
James and Remus glanced over at the teenage couple and burst out laughing. Peter seemed more confused than ever.
"Why are you two laughing? What's going on?
"Oh for the love of Quidditch, Peter, are you completely blind?" asked James, exasperated.
Peter still looked confused.
"Sirius and Aria are together!" exclaimed Lily.
"I know that, they're standing together right there. Why are you all so happy?" asked Peter, stupidly.
"Good lord, Pete, she means that they're together together! As in dating together! Do you get it now?" asked James.
Realization dawned upon the boy's face.
"Oh!" he exclaimed.
Lily rolled her eyes.
"Yes!" she said, sarcastically. "Took you long enough!"
Peter sneered at her, which no one, not even Lily, saw.
"How did this happen?" Ashley asked.
"And what happened to Diggory?" asked James.
"Aria! I never thought I'd see the day! Did you cheat on Amos for Sirius?" asked Lily, mischievously.
"Amos broke it off with me today in the Great Hall at breakfast," Aria began softly, and Sirius put his arm around her. "I-"
"What an idiot!"
"Stereotypical Hufflepuff, that one is! Gives all the rest of them a bad name!"
"Yea, I know," said Aria, smiling.
She couldn't help but feel touched that her friends were so incredibly angry with the person who had crushed her completely.
"Anyway, I was crying on the Quidditch Pitch and Trewyn and Ebony waltzed by. They weren't exactly, er, helpful or sensitive, and I was about ready to throw myself into the lake when Sirius came along-"
Lily and Ashley sighed softly and girlishly. Sirius turned a particularly comical shade of magenta. James and Remus were laughing at their friend's discomfort.
"That's so sweet! Then what did you do?"
"I asked her what was wrong, and then I told her that Diggory was a moron, and then I told her I loved her, and then I kissed her," said Sirius.
The four friends looked incredulously at him. Lily rolled her eyes.
"All right. Come on, Aria, we're going upstairs."
"Yea, Sirius, you're coming with us," said James, steering his friend towards the boys' staircase.
"What?" asked Aria.
"Why?" Sirius asked, confused.
"Hey, Aria, why are you crying your eyes out? Oh, Amos broke up with you, did he? Its ok, don't feel bad. By the way, I love you. Let's go snog!" said Ashley, sarcastically. "Yea. Right. That's really how it happened. We want details, and you obviously aren't going to give them while you're with each other."
Aria, Lily, and Ashley trekked up to the girl's dormitory, and James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter made their way on up to theirs. Ashley closed the door of their room, and Remus did so for his.
"All right. Spill," said Lily and James.
So Sirius and Aria recounted their recent encounter in the snow.
Over the next weeks, the news that Sirius and Aria where going out spread throughout the school like wildfire. At first, many girls whom she had not even met in her entire five years at Hogwarts had stopped Aria in the halls. They told her that they didn't blame her for succumbing to Sirius' good looks and charms, but tried to prepare her for being tossed aside for a new fling by the next week. As Christmas approached and the two were still happily dating, the shock settled in that Sirius Black, one of Hogwarts' main playboys, was serious about a girl. Aria's popularity amongst the females of the school dropped drastically, as they were all insanely jealous. She didn't mind this at all, seeing as she still had Ashley, Lily, Sirius, Remus, and James, and joked about the issue with her friends, until one particular day. Two seventh year girls actually slipped undiluted bubotuber pus into her dragon hide gloves, so that she had run out of Herbology screaming shrilly. James, Remus, Ashley, Sirius, and Lily had found out who the two criminals were. They then switched their perfumes with Dungbomb gas so that they spent the entire day smelling like a pile of cow manure, and after that, Aria had no trouble at all, save for the nasty glares she received daily.
Christmas soon crept up on the castle, taking it by surprise. Lily could not understand where the time had gone. It seemed as if only yesterday she had stepped into the Entrance Hall for the first time, cold and indifferent to the staff and students. When the time came to sign up to stay at the school over the holidays, she felt torn. Of course, West had invited her to come back to Salem for Christmas and the New Year. For the first time in ages, Lily had a home to come back to, but strangely, she didn't want to go. Something inside of her was begging to stay at Hogwarts, telling her to stay at the castle for as long as she was able to before she would be obligated, no, able, to return back to Salem�her home.
Lily had been sitting on the window seat in the common room during a party in Gryffindor Tower (they had won a spectacular game of Quidditch against the Ravenclaws) the night before the holidays began, contemplating her decision. She had thought out the pros and cons of each, and had wondered what Tigger would do if he had the choice to either stay in the 100 Acre Woods or stay somewhere else, like in King Triton's kingdom. In the end, she had written back to West and told him that she would be staying at Hogwarts for Christmas. She sighed softly and watched the light snowflakes fall upon the ground below. I can't BELIEVE you chose Salem over Hogwarts! Its because Salem is home. It always has been, ever since I got my acceptance owl and I finally got to leave that drunken maniac's foster home. Exactly! Salem is home! So why the hell did you choose Hogwarts? Because now I'm here, and I feel some sort of energy run through me every day when I wake up, like my body's excited about where it is. Well, that's complete shit. How can you feel that? You've only been here four months! You've been at Salem for four YEARS! But- No!
"Oh, go fly into the Whomping Willow," Lily snapped irritably at the annoying voice in her head.
"My goodness, Tigger, aren't we touchy, I only wanted to know why you were sitting here in the corner instead of enjoying the party," said James, amused.
Lily turned her head quickly towards James, and blushed as red as her hair.
"Oh crap, sorry, James, I-I didn't mean for you to fly into the Willow, I was talking to the voice in my head," Lily explained.
Oh good lord! Smooth move, Evans! Now he's going to think that I'm some sort of schizophrenic lunatic! James raised an eyebrow at Lily, who now, if possible, turned an even deeper hue of scarlet.
"Um, just-just ignore I said that. And don't even THINK of using that as blackmail against me," she added hastily, seeing the trademark Marauder grin spread upon James' face.
"Now why would I do such a thing?" he asked, pretending to be deeply hurt.
Lily gave him a 'do-you-really-want-me-to-answer-that' look, and James dropped the subject.
"Anyway, why are you sitting all the way over here?" James said, pulling up a chair next to the window seat.
Lily shook her head to imply that she didn't want to discuss the matter, but seeing that James would not stop pestering her until she told him, she spoke.
"I told West that I'd be staying at Hogwarts over the holidays," she said softly. "Uh, he's the Headmaster at Salem," she added, seeing the confusion on James' face.
"Er, is that a bad thing?" he asked.
"I don't know. I feel like a traitor, for some reason. Like I picked the most popular girl in school over my best friend, or something like that," she said sadly.
James fought the urge to hold her in his arms and tell her that she had nothing to feel bad about. Instead, he smiled.
"Lils, you're looking at it in the wrong way. You only have one year to spend in a foreign country at the best school of magic in the entire U.K., right?"
"So all you're doing is savoring it while it lasts! You're not betraying anyone. In fact, I'm sure that this West chap will completely understand, and think of it this way as well," he said.
"You'll have a blast, Tigger! Hogwarts is fabulous over the holidays! There's great food, and you practically have the entire castle to yourself. Technically, it'll be you, me, and a couple of others, but you get the idea of it."
"Oh joy. I just can't wait," said Lily sarcastically, while inside her heart fluttered about. At least this way you won't be completely bored out of your mind. Oh froogle why do I have to be so sarcastic? "But seriously, thanks, James."
"Anytime. Want to come with Sirius, Remus, Aria, Ashley, and I? We're going to the Ravenclaws' floor to charm their Quidditch team's hair scarlet and gold with 'Go Gryffindor' written on them" said James excitedly.
"I'm figuring that none of you have the slightest idea of how to do this," said Lily, trying hard not to smile.
"Exactly. That's where you come in, oh talented, beautiful, flower goddess," said James.
Lily was at the top of their year in charms, and although the rest were not far behind, she was much quicker and much more efficient. She was startled when he had said 'beautiful', and quickly looked into his eyes, but saw nothing but mischief there. Stupid. Of course he didn't mean it. He just wants me to do something for him.
"Save your breath, Potter, and when are we leaving," she said icily.
James did not seem to take notice of the tone of her voice, and led her out the portrait hole.
The next morning, Lily awoke to the sounds of Ashley and Aria doing last minute packing. The two girls were running around the room frantically, looking for lost articles of clothing, hidden Christmas presents, and spell books.
"Ashley! Where are the hair-clips that you borrowed for Halloween?"
"Umm, check the insides of my jack-o-lantern socks!"
"EW! I give you hair-clips and you put them in your socks? How did they even get in there?"
"Never mind, I don't want to know!"
Lily observed her friends with an amused expression on her face. She then yawned and stretched, lazily getting out of bed. As the chaos ensued around her, Lily brushed her teeth, showered, and dressed in an emerald green turtleneck sweater and jeans. When she emerged from the bathroom, she found Aria sitting upon her trunk and trying to close it, with no success for it was overflowing with stuff.
"God, Aria, are you taking everything with you? Leave some stuff here! That way your trunk will actually shut and when you're packing to come back, you won't have to remember to bring as much stuff," Lily said.
Aria finally managed to do the clasps of her trunk, and flopped onto her bed in exhaustion.
"I am leaving most of my stuff here. I just have a lot of Christmas presents to take back home," she explained.
"Whatever. I'm going down to breakfast; are you coming?" Lily asked.
Aria sat up on her bed and motioned for Lily to sit down next to her.
"You've got it bad for James, that's what. And don't try to deny it, its as clear as the lake and twice as obvious," said Aria seriously.
Lily gaped at her friend. First of all, the lake is about as clear as mud, and�twice as obvious as the lake? What is she talking about? She composed herself and shook her head in disbelief.
"Sure, Aria. Whatever floats your boat on that clear, obvious lake of yours."
"Oh come on, Lily! The only person who has no clue is James! Even Peter knows, for goodness sake!"
"Rat-boy knows?" Lily asked feebly.
Lily sighed and buried her face into a pillow.
"So when are you-" Aria began, but before she could finish, Sirius swept into the room like a hurricane.
"Good morning, fair maidens! It is I, your knight in shining armor! I have come to aid my fair lady Melody in carrying her trunk down the perilous flights of stairs and to escort you into the Great Hall pronto, before all of the delicious foods are devoured by the lowly peasants, ravenous with hunger," he said, going down on one knee.
Aria laughed gave him a quick kiss.
"Shall we be off then, fair maidens?" he asked, sitting down on the bed and Lily's legs.
"Ouch! Sirius get off me before you break my legs!" she screeched. Sirius sprang up faster than a firework.
"Forgive me, milady, but-"
"Sirius, shut up! I'm trying to talk to her about you-know-what," Aria whispered in a low voice.
"Ah! I see! Then this gallant knight shall be off in search of his comrade to speak with him about wooing and such! Away!"
Sirius leapt out of the room. Lily looked up, confused.
"Did he just say he was going to talk to James and Remus about mooing?"
"Er, yes!" said Aria; not wanting Lily to know that Sirius was talking to James about what they were talking about now.
Lily sat up now.
"Since when do James and Remus moo?"
"Forget about mooing! When are you going to tell James?"
"Wha-gi-never! I'm not going to tell him!" Lily exclaimed.
Aria did a double take.
"What? Why not? What do you think you'll accomplish by keeping it to yourself?"
"Aria, you won't understand-"
Lily sighed in exasperation.
"Look, Aria, I'm leaving in June! After that I'm probably never going to see you or James or anyone else at Hogwarts again for as long as I live! If I told James, and if he felt the same way, what do you think would happen? We'd go out for a while and have a jolly good time, and then I'd leave and it would all be over!"
"So you're just going to sit there like a miserable nut until you're back at Salem, and then try to forget about James? That won't work, Lily! Is that what you really want?"
"No. But its going to be hard enough to leave in June," said Lily.
Aria was startled to find her friend's emerald green eyes watering.
"I don't need it to be any harder than it has to be. And if that means that I have to sit here like a miserable nut and watch him be with girl after girl, then that's what I'll do."
"Come on, let's get some breakfast before we go. Oh, and just to verify it, none of this gets back to James, right?" Lily asked.
She had composed herself, and if Aria had not seen the tears with her own eyes, she would have thought that she had imagined them.
"Not a word of it. But it can get back to Ash, right?"
"Of course. Swear upon the ashes of a singing flower?"
This was a sort of acronym for the three friends. Lily was the flower, Aria contributed to the singing component of it, and Ashley was, well, the ashes.
"That and I cross my heart."
Lily nodded, and the two girls left for the Great Hall.
Sirius burst back into his room, which was now too clean for comfort. He and Remus had packed their trunks the night before, and now, to everyone's disappoint, the clothes that had littered the floor were gone.
"It doesn't look very home-ish, does it Moony?" said Sirius, sitting down on his bed. "Think you'll be able to survive while we're gone, Prongs?"
James put on a fake, brave face.
"It'll take all of my willpower to not go mad without you guys. Come on, get off your butts and let's get some breakfast."
"Hold it, Mr. Hungy Hippogriff," said Sirius with a straight face.
James stared at him, but his friend did not seem to notice. Remus used his will to not laugh.
"Um, ok�what do you want?"
"What are you going to do about Lily?" asked Remus, regaining his composure.
"Well I was planning a romantic dinner at the swankiest restaurant in Hogsmeade. Then I was going to serenade her for a while, and then I planned on whispering sweet nothings into her ear and presenting her with a dozen roses as a token of my affection for her," said James, sarcastically.
"Well that's a start, James," said Remus.
"I wasn't serious."
"Of course you weren't. I am."
"Ok, that one got old a looooong time ago."
"Oh, come off it, every moron in this school can tell you're mooning over her," exclaimed Remus, frustrated.
"Except for her, that is," Sirius added.
"Exactly. She doesn't think of me as any more than a friend," said James.
^Prongs, my friend, you are probably the slowest person on the planet. Except for Pete, that is.^
"When has that ever stopped you from going out with someone?" asked Sirius, incredulously.
"Lily's different. She's not like the others."
"No shit, Sherlock. That's why you like her, isn't it?" Remus asked.
"For the love of Quidditch wake up! I don't want to loose her!" James exclaimed angrily.
"How can you loose her when you don't have her?" Sirius exclaimed.
"Through Lucan, that's how! Remember how he killed your father?"
Sirius looked away.
"And how he tried to kill Remus' mum? Look where she is now, in St. Mungo's and not able to move from the waist down!"
Remus opened his mouth to say something, but James continued. "He was hoping you guys would blame me for their deaths and desert me so that I'd have nowhere to turn except to the Dark Side! But his plans keep backfiring because you gits have stuck by me!"
"That's because us gits know that you didn't kill my dad, or hurt Remus' mum! I know you're scared, mate, but if you don't at least talk to her, you're going to wonder what would have happened if you had for the rest of your life!" said Sirius, shaking James slightly.
James pulled away and made his way to the door.
"You may be right, Padfoot. But at least this way, what happened to Wren will never happen to Lily."
The two boys watched their friend leave the room. Sirius removed the photograph of Wren and James from under the pillow. He nudged Remus, and the two smiled sadly at the picture as the eleven-year old Wren waved enthusiastically at them, laughing, while being tickled incessantly by James at the same time. Both boys had shared James' pain when the girl had been murdered, as she had been their honorary little sister as well as James'. Countless times, she had made them laugh when no one else could have, helped them think up pranks, and hung out with them. In return, whenever she was upset, they were always there to cheer her up, and took care of her.
"Wren, sweetheart, you've got one hell of a brother," said Remus softly.
"Amen to that," said Sirius.
Hours later, Sirius, Remus, and Peter burst into the train compartment, laughing. They had just charmed Snape's hair into an afro, and charmed his robes into a frilly, pink, ruffled ballerina tutu. Aria and Ashley glanced up from where they were sitting, and then went back to painting their nails, as they were used to random interruptions such as that. The five had said good-by to Lily and James, and then boarded the Hogwarts Express to journey back home to their families for Christmas. A few moments later, Snape stormed into the compartment, boiling with rage, and still wearing the tutu and afro. The two girls glanced up, horrified.
"Oh. My. God. My virgin eyes!" Ashley screamed when she saw the Sugarplum Snape.
"Well, now I've seen everything! You know, Severus, unless you enjoy looking like a stoned ballerina from the Nutcracker, why don't you change into other robes?" exclaimed Aria.
Sirius, Remus, and Peter were now roaring with laughter, while the two girls blatantly looked away from the spectacle.
"BLACK! LUPIN! PETTIGREW! CHANGE ME BACK!" Snape bellowed.
"Sorry, Sevviekins, no can do. It won't wear off until midnight," wheezed Sirius.
"Oh, you all think you're terribly funny, don't you? Mark my words, one day I'll ensure you'll wish you had never been born!" he screamed, and ran out of the room.
The boys paid no attention to the threat, and were now leaning on the wall for support from laughing.
"That was GROSS! Now, you know I'm all for pranking and whatnot, but-GAH! Jeez louise, you guys!" Ashley moaned.
"Yes, really," said Aria.
"I'm ever so sorry we've violated you, Ash, will you ever forgive us?" asked Remus dramatically.
Ashley gave him an odd look.
~Heeheehee. That sounded wrong. But look how cute he looks when he's pretending to be serious. Or any other time.~
"Anything off the trolley, dears?" asked the plump witch who operated the trolley cart.
There was a mad dash for the food, and the kindly old woman looked alarmed at the rate the five teenagers were grabbing pumpkin pasties, every flavor beans, chocolate frogs, and sugar quills.
"Er-no need to crowd, dears, plenty of treats for everyone," said the overwhelmed lady.
The five paid for the sweets and the woman moved on.
"Ash, want to play chess?" asked Remus.
"Wow, that was like asking me to kick your ass," said Ashley, mischievously.
Remus rolled his eyes.
"Oh yea. That's why I've beaten you the past three times we've played."
"You just got lucky. Prepare to die!"
As the two engaged in battle, Sirius nudged Aria.
"Let's leave them alone."
"But if something happens, I want to see it!"
"That's why we'll charm the glass on the door so that we can see and hear in but they can't see or hear out!"
"What are you standing here for then? Go already!"
Sirius nudged Peter, and the three left the compartment. Ashley and Remus continued to play, oblivious that their friends had just left. They battled in companionable silence for a while, each seeming to be completely concentrated on the game.
"Have you Seen anything lately?" asked Remus calmly after he had taken her rook.
Ashley had been about to eat a Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean just then, but her hand completely passed her mouth when he spoke. She ended up with a bean in her eye. Remus looked at her, amused.
"Do you often attack yourself with sweets, Ashley, or is that one of your newer hobbies?"
"How did you find out about that?" she whispered, wide-eyed.
Remus laughed softly.
"We learned the characteristics of Seers in Divination-"
"You listen to that old bat? You pay attention in class? Why?" asked Ashley, thoroughly confused.
"Just once. Anyway, that old bat, as you've so eloquently distinguished her as, said that Seers begin to See through their dreams at first, and then gradually progress to occurring whenever the Vision deems it fit to arrive. Lily and Aria told me that you screamed in your sleep sometimes, and sort of go into trances and speak in a strange voice, which is also a Seer's trait. They speak without knowing it during a Vision. The Visions also come non-stop, almost, and you told me that night in the common room that something wouldn't stop," Remus summarized.
"I also saw what you had drawn, that night in the common room. It was something about David Bones and how you should've spoken up."
"I couldn't sleep for days. Months, maybe. I didn't get a good night's sleep until I went to Dumbledore about it. He said that if I welcomed the Visions instead of trying to fight them, I wouldn't have insomnia and they'd come less frequently," said Ashley, shuddering.
"Did it work?"
"Checkmate, Miss You-just-asked-me-to-kick-your-ass. Not so tough now, are we?" said Remus, smiling.
Ashley mouthed silently at him like a goldfish. Sirius, Peter, and Aria were doing much of the same thing outside of the door because they had discovered Ashley was a Seer.
"I let you win. I could've easily beaten you," said Ashley weakly.
"Bloody HELL, you're a Seer?" Sirius exclaimed as he, Aria, and Peter re-entered the compartment.
"If you were outside, how did you find out? And what were you guys doing outside anyway, spying on us?" asked Ashley.
One look from her friends answered her question.
"What for? What did you think we'd do?" asked Remus, bewildered.
"Wow, Moony, I'm not even going to answer that. But, seriously, Ash, are you?" asked Sirius, still dazed.
"Yes," said Ashley, looking her friend in the eye. "But-just don't talk about it to other people. I mean, Dumbledore said it was ok if you guys knew, but-"
"Ash, what do you take us for, gossiping old women who play Bingo once a week?" asked Sirius, smiling.
Ashley blushed slightly, and Remus could not help but be amazed at how pretty she looked when she was embarrassed. Or how pretty she looked at any time. Aria gazed at each of her friends. She had been silent for the time, debating over whether or not to reveal that she was an Alcantvus.
*Not here on the train. I'll do it back at Hogwarts. That way I'll only have to explain it once.*
"We always knew you were one in a million, Ash," said Remus, smiling.
Aria exchanged a look that said 'well it�s a bout time they started' with Sirius, Ashley smiled and laughed, and no one saw Peter, who was wearing a twisted grin on his face. Suddenly, he couldn't wait for the journey to end, so that he could tell his Master the exciting news.
The train pulled to a halt at King's Cross Station, and the students slowly filed out of their compartments. Sirius, Remus, Aria, and Ashley cracked up with laughter when Sugarplum Snape passed them huffily, still steaming about his predicament. Peter was nowhere to be found. The four teenagers gathered their trunks and owls from the luggage compartment, and crossed through the barrier of platform 9 and 3/4. At first, they stood still, blinking in the sunlight, and then they heard the calls of their family.
"Aria! La mia figlia cara, qui! Siamo qui!" (Translation: Aria! My darling daughter, over here! We're here!).
"Remus! Welcome, son!"
"Sirius Polaris Black! You just wait until I get my hands on you! What's this I've heard about blowing up a toilet in dungeons?"
"Ashley! Over here, honey!"
The four took a moment to locate where the calls were coming from.
"Madre! Padre!" Aria called. "Sar� l� in un minuto." (Translation: Mother! Father! I'll be there in a minute). "Bye, guys! Have a happy Christmas! I'll see you in two weeks!"
She hugged Remus and Ashley goodbye, smiled teasingly at Sirius and began to walk away, but he grabbed her and kissed her. Laughing, she ran off towards her parents. Sirius also said goodbye to Remus and Ashley.
"Mum! I can honestly say that the toilet incident wasn't my fault! At least, I didn't exactly cast the spell to blow it up!"
"Bye, Ashley, have a happy Christmas!" said Remus as the two hugged goodbye.
"You too. Take care of yourself, all right? I know that the moon is on Christmas day," she said, concerned.
He laughed, a bit self-consciously.
"Don't worry, Ash. I'll be fine."
~Liar. You're going to have a miserable Christmas. Damn it, it's not fair. You deserve better!~ She sighed.
She kissed his cheek and ran off towards her parents before he had time to react.
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