Author's Note: sorry for the long absence...midterms were a bust and stressful, and I got lazy and tad whiny...but I've gathered my dignity and wrote another chapter. Please, please review. I love and appreciate greatly people like evil_little_devil, Melissa, and others who consistently review but I'd like more variety, I guess. So please, take a minute.
Chapter Eight: Runaway Summer
It was weeks after the second incident at the lake when the Marauders, Lily, and Phoenix were heading back to King’s Cross Station for another long, tedious summer. There was still tension between the two groups, of course; Lily was still dejected since her friendship with Severus disintegrated, she began talking to Nadia Dolohov more, and Phoenix had been iffy about forgiving the Marauders so quickly with all of the mishaps. However, duty called when Sirius hatched a run-away plan and his now twenty-five year old cousin, Andromeda, had reapplied to Hogwarts while her ten-year-old daughter, Nymphadora Tonks, was sent to live with her paternal grandparents.
“Get a move on, turd face!” Phoenix shouted as they loaded their trunks onto the Hogwarts Express.
“I’m trying, I’m trying!”
Phoenix snickered. “You just responded to turd face! You’re such an idiot, Siri, did I ever tell you that?” Grunting, Sirius stepped into the saved compartment where Peter and James were swinging the trunks on the overhead racks.
“Bloody hell, Phe! What do you keep in that trunk of yours?” moaned James. She grinned quirkily and patted his head.
“Oh, you know, the usual random body I find in the Forbidden Forest.”
“Merlin, Phe, if you’re going to talk about random bodies you find in the forest the whole trip back, I’m sitting somewhere else!” snapped Lily as she came in. James immediately looked out the window and shut up, as always.
“Who else is cool enough to sit with, Lillikins?” Phoenix asked, feigning mortification.
“Nadia, of course,” she replied, gesturing to the timid, mousy girl standing behind her. She waved slightly, giving a small smile. “She can carry an intelligent conversation.”
“Oh, ‘cos a conversation about nargles isn’t intelligent! Those things are trying to take over the world!”
“I’d rather have nonexistent things take over the world than this freak,” muttered Remus, his face buried in the morning Daily Prophet. “That overlord guy, he’s even got himself a name! I can’t really pronounce it though…looks like-“
“Voldemort,” added Phoenix. Remus looked up, his eyebrows raised. He could have sworn he heard a waver of fear in her always-chipper voice.
“Yeah…how’d you know? I thought you hated the Prophet.”
“There’s more than one resource in our world, Rum. And it’s called the Quibbler.”
Lily rolled her eyes and groaned loudly. “Not this again-“
“Oh c’mon! That magazine is legit! You guys are all wonkers…”
“Well, Nadia and I will be wonkers elsewhere. Let’s go, Nadia,” Lily said. Phoenix sprang up and grabbed Lily just as the train jerked forward and began it’s journey.
“No! Don’t leave me with them! They attract nargles!” she pleaded. Lily’s almond shaped eyes narrowed to slits.
“No talk about nargles, random bodies, dark overlords, or the Quibbler.”
“Deal. Now sit and we’ll talk about Crumple-Horned Snorkack!”
“Alright, alright. Nadia can start the conversation then,” she replied hastily. “Nadia? Anything you want to say, just say it. If you want to call Siri a girl, let it out. I know you’re dying to.” Nadia giggled lightly, not like those ditzy girls who followed Sirius and James everywhere, mind you. It was a tiny, if not cute chuckle that had Remus’ heart swooping.
“Hey! Don’t brainwash innocent people!” he bellowed teasingly.
“Stop plucking your eyebrows and maybe they won’t have to hold anything back!”
“Excuse me, but I do not pluck, I wa- oh, sh-“
“AH HA! YOU JUST ADMITTED IT! YOU LITTLE PANSY! YOU WAX YOUR EYEBROWS! SIRI WAXES HIS EYEBROWS! SIRI WAXES HIS EYE-oomph!” Phoenix fell backwards and into Sirius’ lap, his hands automatically wrapped across her exposed firm stomach and he held tight onto her smooth waist. “Merlin, I think I just hit a bloody mountain- oh, it’s just Montana. No real difference anyway…”
“Laugh it up, Riddle,” snapped Montana Aurelio as she flicked her golden hair back swiftly. She batted her fake eyelashes constantly and her blush and orange foundation was smeared on the collar of her bejeweled polo.
“Who is she talking to, Siri? I don’t see any Riddles around here!” Phoenix shouted obnoxiously. Sirius smirked and played along.
“Maybe she’s got imaginary friends, Phe. Hey, I have an idea! Why don’t you and Aurelio get your imaginary friends and setup a play date?” he asked in a babying voice.
“Mate, I want my imaginary friends to stay around, not run away! They’re the only people who keep me sane!”
Montana sneered and looked about the compartment for a lack of something smart to say. Her blue eyes rested on Nadia and her lips curved into a malicious smirk.
“Well, well, well,” she said slowly. “Reject Nadia Dolohov with the Marauders? How peculiar…are you on your little mission? Because I just don’t see any other possible way for you to be with people as,” she paused, glanced at Sirius, and licked her lips, “desirable as them.” Nadia blushed and shrunk, her hands digging into her pockets and forming small fists around a bulky item.
“As a matter of fact, Nadia is a good friend of ours,” James stood up boldly, looking at Nadia kindly. Lily’s eyes furrowed yet her heart fluttered; after all, he was the one who always brought up her parentage. Where was this act of…dare she think it, kindness and maturity coming from? “And if you can’t respect that, Phe will have to do that Muggle thing and kick you out.”
“Muggle thing? What Muggle thing?” she asked, still leaning on Sirius and his hands still wrapped around her protectively.
“Just go along with it!” he hissed, kicking her shin lightly.
“Oh right,” she muttered, turning to Montana. “Yeah, I’ll have to…to…satellite dish you! What do you have to say about that, Aurelio?” Rolling her eyes distastefully, Montana turned out of the compartment. Not even five seconds later, she came back, her face looking almost sincere.
“I warned you about her. Don’t forget.” she said, creating an air of mystique. She stood for a moment, staring into Phoenix’s glazed eyes before she left. The Marauders stared at the place she had just occupied.
“So, Nadia, welcome to the wonderful world of the Marauders and Those Who Try To Stop Them From Doing Stupid Things Because They’re Rabid Turds,” chimed Phoenix, drawing attention away from Montana’s dramatic exit. Yet there was a new edge to her voice Lily could not quite name. Nadia giggled again and Remus buried his head further into the Daily Prophet, trying to ignore his insides. “We really need to think of a new name…”
“We? Who’s we?” Lily demanded, her thoughts disturbed. Phoenix shook her head and clicked her tongue.
“We, as in you, me, Nadia, and soon to be here Andromeda when she arrives next year,” she replied. “You know, I think the ‘Marauderettes’ sounds good. Snotter? Your opinion?”
“Meh, it’s alright,” he yawned. “But you’ll need a fourth member.” Phoenix grinned impishly.
“I’m sure we’ll come up with something. That’s just how we do things,” she replied casually, her eyes glancing over to Remus. He looked up and stared at her as she got off Sirius and sat between Nadia and Lily.
There was something about Phoenix…and Remus was going to spend every minute he could next year trying to figure her out.
It was almost the end of July and Sirius was still locked away in his room, Permanently Sticking Muggle pictures cut out of a Muggle magazine, Playboy or some oddity along those lines, James had sent him from America. His Gryffindor banners were already up and polished and he charmed his door so that it couldn’t be Permanently Locked, thanks to the researching ability of Remus.
This was it, his plan. He would leave permanent traces of himself in his parents’ house so even after he was gone, his always-ostracized memory would linger and haunt his Hell-bound family.
“You’re really leaving, aren’t you?” a small voice commented from the doorway. Sirius didn’t turn around to face Regulus nor did he show any sentimental feeling. They both knew it would be too much for either of them to handle.
“Yeah, I am,” replied Sirius nonchalantly. Regulus shifted and stepped into Sirius’ room, looking around at the new decorations. He gave a small chuckle.
“Mum will go off her rocker for this.”
“That was my initial goal, yes.”
“Things will be really quiet without you…”
Sirius sighed and stopping Sticking pictures on the walls. He didn’t turn around. “I suppose so.”
“Are you leaving tonight?”
Sirius’ throat seemed to have collapsed and he glanced under his bed where his packed trunk and broomstick awaited him. The silence answered Regulus’ rhetorical question.
“Where are you going to go?”
Again, Sirius sighed and his throat opened. He hadn’t really thought seriously about whom he was turning to for a new home. “I guess I’m going to find Phoenix.” Regulus stiffed and walked toward Sirius briskly.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he rushed, his voice quivering with slight anxiety. “You don’t know where she’d be.”
“Yeah, well, I always find Phoenix. I’m the only one who can,” Sirius said, finally turning around to eye his brother suspiciously. “Why do you care so much about Phoenix, anyway? What is it you know?”
Regulus awkwardly shook his head and looked down. The way his mouth closed and his body stood rigid, Sirius knew there was something. Something important.
“I can’t say!” he squeaked. “I don’t have that power-“ he stopped and quickly walked towards the door. Before he left, he turned around and looked at his brother one last time.
“Thanks for being a big brother to me. I don’t know where I’d be without you and…and I’m…sorry if I ever disappoint you. Good luck in your new life.”
It was the last night Sirius looked at Regulus with respect.
“It’s two in the morn-“
“ALRIGHT! WE’RE COMING!”
The three Potters strolled from their bedrooms down to the foyer and front door. They all had their wands out and ready to non-verbally shoot hexes. Hesitantly, James’ father opened the door and ruthlessly jabbed his wand into Sirius Black’s neck.
“Ow! What the blo- oh, Willy! Sorry about the late arrival,” he saved himself quickly. James’ mother let out a long breath and smiled lovingly at Sirius.
“Sirius! We thought…oh, forget what we thought! Come in, come in!” she said quickly. James patted his best mate’s back and helped him roll in his trunk.
“Finally decided to ditch the ‘rents, eh?” James asked ostentatiously. Mr. Potter chuckled while Mrs. Potter rolled her eyes.
“Please, James, not now. The boy obviously needs something to eat. I’ll go warm up some food,” she said, dragging away her husband, both of them smiling and laughing. Sirius stared back and forth between them and James. He seemed to comprehend him question.
“Family therapy. Who knew it worked?”
The boys laughed good-heartedly as they entered the kitchen and their new lives.
“-and then the judge said-”
Whatever the ruthless, unyielding judge had ordered, Peter would never know. As he and his family sat in the house parlor listening to her father and brother’s latest judicial obscenity, Peter was reviewing page 317 of his new Defense Against the Dark Arts book in his head.
Magus Antiquus is the most effective way to deflect Dark Arts and resist Temptation-
“Peter? PETER?!” his father bellowed.
Peter winced; he just trapped himself in the daily lecture about how he was a disgrace to the Pettigrew family. His mother looked at him sympathetically; she had always been the gentle one of the family who tended to every scrap and bruise.
“-and your head is always in that damn dictionary! You will never amount to a real man!”
Peter snapped his head up and jumped to his feet. If there was one thing he would not tolerate, it was someone questioning his ‘manliness’.
“I have friends who accept me for me, despite my love for literature and grammar! That’s all I need for me to be a real man!” he squeaked determinedly.
With that, he bounded up the stairs to his room and with a wave of his wand, all of his necessities were packed and ready for his first flight as a man.
Barely an hour later, Peter stepped off the Knight Bus and onto a back street of Little Surrey. Anxious in to ominous darkness, he scurried up the avenue and turned around the bend until he stood in front of the only apartment complex in the precinct. Peter ambled up the winding stairs until he reached apartment 7C. Excited to have finally found a friend, he knocked twice before a pleasantly plump Oriental woman opened the door. A spicy, warm scent tickled Peter’s senses, yet he frowned.
“I’m s-sorry, m’am,” he stammered nervously. “I m-must’ve g-gotten the w-wrong address-“
“Oh, nonsense! Peter, isn’t it? Come right in!” the woman graciously ushered him inside and into the kitchen where Remus Lupin sat with a tall, blonde man of about fifty or sixty years. When Peter’s presence was acknowledged, Remus’ fork clattered to the floor.
“W-wormtail?” he choked. Peter gave a small wave. The tall man sitting with Remus stood and embraced Peter warmly.
“Wormtail! Peter!” he exclaimed, his American accent apparent. “Remy has told us so much about you and the Marauders! He never said you were visiting but the more the merrier-“
“Dad…” moaned Remus quietly.
“Michael, let the two boys talk,” the woman cut in. The man, Michael, nodded and sat back down as Remus wordlessly dragged Peter down a narrow hallway where hundreds of Muggle and Wizarding pictures of the Marauders, Phoenix, and Lily covered the lilac wallpaper.
Finally, the two entered a small bedroom exploding with books, parchment, and quills. Peter couldn’t help but notice the room had no windows. Remus sat on the bed pushed against one wall and sighed into his hands.
“I was adopted by Muggles,” he sad point-blankly. “Rosanne and Michael aren’t my biological parents.” He continued explaining how his real parents abandoned him after he was bitten by Fenrir Greyback. They couldn’t handle the stress of having a werewolf for a son, he had said bitterly.
When Remus finished, Peter sat down next to him and in a somewhat offended tone, asked, “Why didn’t you tell us?” Remus gave him an apologetic look and looked away.
“What brings you here?” he asked, steering away from more question about his heritage.
“My dad,” sighed Peter. Remus nodded; he had heard all about Peter’s father through letters and at school, there was no need to talk about it just yet.
“Well, you have a home here. And we’ll be going to Hogwarts soon.” reminded Remus. Peter smiled appreciatively and looked out towards the hallway.
“So…I never knew you were serious about photography…”
Blushing, Remus stood up and walked Peter slowly down the hallway, talking about each one and reliving the memories of sitting in the willow tree or Phoenix falling off the Astronomy Tower, only to be caught by Sirius on James' broom.
Sometimes being a man was making it out on your own accord.
“No! Go to Hell!”
The estranged red haired beauty stormed down Spinner’s End, trying to avoid Severus Snape’s attempts to have an audience with her. Such activities consumed Lily’s summer, in addition to Petunia and her whale of a boyfriend constantly tormenting and ridiculing her when her parents were out of hearing range.
“But Lily! I want-“
“I DON’T CARE, YOU SICK LITTLE MOTHER FU-oomph!” Lily collided with a small, dark figure and stumbled backwards, nearly hitting Snape’s left forearm. “What the he-NADIA?!”
Indeed, Nadia Dolohov had been blindly running downing Lily’s path of travel.
“Dolohov?” inquired Snape, his voice tight and livid. Nadia timidly looked away from both classmates. Ignoring Snape’s peculiar tone, Lily gently held Nadia’s shoulders and made her honey eyes meet her emerald ones.
“Nadia? What are you doing here? Do you even live close by?” she asked concernedly.
“Yes, Dolohov, what are you doing here so far away from where you should be?” spat Snape venomously. Lily turned and glared at him.
“Shut up, Snivellus! No one wants you here!” she barked before turning back to Nadia and directing her towards her own home. She didn’t notice Nadia looking back at Snape who was tapping an invisible watch on his wrist and making threatening gestures with his hand and throat.
“Oh, Lily! I can’t come to your home! I…I don’t want to be a burden to you!” wailed Nadia. Her voice seemed theatrical and animated to Lily but she pushed that to the back of her mind and helped Nadia cross the street.
“Nonsense! You’re my friend and if you need a place to stay, you’ve got one! We can study, stay up talking-“
As she ranted on the possible activities they could do, Nadia’s lips curved into a sincere smile before her face and eyes clouded with guilt.
“Lily, I want to confess something-“
“-and maybe we can try finding Phoenix! I swear, that girl disappears over the summer! I sent her an owl but it came back, the letter untouched-“
“Maybe you shouldn’t worry about it. I mean, her dad doesn’t like…outsiders…” Nadia interrupted hurriedly. Lily eyed her suspiciously and came to a halt.
“What does that mean? How do you know?”
Nadia’s face flushed and her eyes looked down at the ground. “M-my parents k-k-know her f-father, t-that’s all,” she stammered, her voice strained and quite desperate. Of course, a master of picking out lies, Lily’s almond shaped eyes narrowed to slits.
Nadia’s parents knew Phoenix’s father? That was a rather worrisome piece of information. Wasn’t the Dolohov family infamous for their connection to the Dark Arts? Where would that leave Phoenix and her father? Was Nadia trying to cover up for Phoenix and her father?
Shaking her head, Lily pushed the thought out of her mind. How could Phoenix be connected to the Dark Arts? She could scare it away with her rants about nargles and Santa’s secret identity. And how could someone as timid and sweet as Nadia comply to the Dark Arts?
Yet something nagged her…something Montana had said on the train back-
“Oi! Freak! Get inside before dad send the Royal Army out to find you!” shouted Petunia from the front door of the Evans’ suburban home. New found anger rising in Lily’s cheeks, she dragged Nadia into the house and introduced her to her family.
Nothing was wrong. Nothing was wrong.
Lily kept chanting the same mantra in her head. She would not let anything else in her life be wrong.
It was now a week before Hogwarts reopened for another term when groups of adolescents and their pureblood families arrived at the Riddle Mansion in Little Hangleton.
“Welcome, all,” the host, a tall man with red irises and ark hair that grotesquely contrasted his sickly plastic-like skin, drawled. The guests, all formally dressed in black, bowed their head deep with respect. “As you know, I have arranged for your children to prove their individual loyalty and strength by organizing a group within Hogwarts. My daughter, the Filia, will be leading the group on missions only my most faithful Death Eaters attend. Think of this as…training for the War that lies ahead. Speaking of the War, I don’t see any reason for my future Followers to stay in Hogwarts under that crackpot old fool’s rule for too long. What’s a Hogwarts graduation going to buy them after we win?”
The crowd of people cheered and bowed deeper and deeper with more power-hunger looks each time as if emphasizing and competing amongst themselves. Only a few didn’t, such as Bellatrix Black, Regulus Black, and a petite dark figure in a corner. Once the crowd simmered down, the host pointed to said corner and beckoned the figure over. Hesitantly, the figure seemed to glide over to the podium like object the red-eyed host claimed. When she came into the light, the people bowed again as her tumbling midnight waves caressed the small of her back and her red irises darkened. They were identical to those of her father’s but on a better day, there was a whiter-hew to them, making them more jovial and innocent. Bellatrix and Regulus Black and Nadia Dolohov looked at her with admiration, hope, and respect nearly flowing out of their eyes but she didn’t return the glances.
She couldn’t face the fact that she was going to let them down and they would turn out to be exactly what they were hoping she’d save them from being. Death Eaters.