Author's Note: Yes, I've been gone for a while but I've come to my senses and decided to write. I love this story and I'm sure there's got to be at least one person out there who does too, so I continue writing in the name of all those who do love this story. Even if some of them don't review. ;-) I'm kinda of rusty, so you can expect a not-so-great chapter.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything but the things you don't recognize.
Chapter Nine: Full Circle Waiting to Roll
September first had rolled around quickly and before time could catch up with the seventh year Hogwarts students, they all found themselves exchanging excited ‘how was your summer?’s aboard the Hogwarts Express. And of course, with the labyrinth of a locomotive, came a labyrinth of potential drama- established couples breaking up, love affairs, Quidditch camps and scouts; the usual.
“I WILL TEAR YOUR LIVER OUT AND BURN IT IN A POT ROAST IF YOU TELL HER-“
“OI! I CAN GIVE YOU A DETENTION FOR THREATS, MR.- Remus? Did you just scream?”
Four boys turned around with their usual arrogant, guilty smirks spread across their lips. The Marauders had joined together and the train hadn’t even left Kings Cross Station. The joy was radiating out of Lily’s emerald eyes.
“Why, hello, Lily!” he replied nervously and too happily. “How was your summer? Did you-” He smiled genuinely as he noticed the pin on Lily’s robes with a large H on it. “I knew you would.”
“Thanks, Remus. What about you? I’m sure you’re the He-“ Lily paused and looked at Remus’ robes to only find his Prefect badge. Her eyebrows furrowed and her mouth opened to speak when-
“Evans? You’re Head Girl?” James Potter boomed, his eyes twinkling with an air of ‘I-know-something-you-don’t-know’. Lily didn’t like it at all. She narrowed her almond shaped eyes and glared.
“No Snotter, I’m Head Boy.”
James’ smirk grew and Sirius snickered. “Really? Well, that news puts me in a jiffy since I’m Head Boy.”
Lily’s jaw dropped, her body went numb, and the fact that the train had just lurched forward didn’t help the queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. She tried to look back at Remus for reassurance this was all another practical-if you could call their actions practical- joke. But her emerald gems bore into James’ honey drops and a tingling sensation shot down her spine when she saw something different in the way he looked at her-
“Aw, did you all wait for me? That’s so sweet- HOLY GUACAMOLE! LILLIKINS IS HEAD GIRL! WOO!” whooped a singsong voice.
“Phe!” Sirius exclaimed, completely forgetting the staring contest between James and Lily. Before anyone caught a real glimpse of the girl, he engulfed his best friend into a massive, oxygen-restricting hug. Phoenix’s knees gave way and she tumbled into the Marauders’ saved compartment with Sirius falling on top of her.
“Boy, this reminds of New Years Day when you were piss drunk and I had to help you up to the Boys' Dormitory,” she said, her quirky grin making its way across her tiny, plump lips as Sirius propped himself on his elbows to ease the weight off of Phoenix’s delicate looking petite figure.
Sirius gave a bark-like laugh but didn’t move off; rather, it seemed he had moved closer and inhaled sharply as if memorizing her sweet scent. He looked directly into her eyes and saw the same pink irises he always loved yet something was different in the way she looked-
“Sirius Black? For the love of Merlin, have some decency in public!” a shrill voice chided.
Sirius looked up but in no way moved off or further from Phoenix. He beamed when he saw a tall woman in her early twenties with frizzy brown hair and big brown eyes looking down at him disdainfully.
“Aw, Andy, you know I could do a lot worse than Phe.”
“Oi! You can’t do better than me! Tell him, Andy!” shouted Phoenix defensively. Andromeda Black smiled and pulled Sirius off.
“Yes, yes,” Andromeda replied, nodding to the other Marauders and introducing herself to Lily as Phoenix hugged her remaining comrades.
“Seventh year, eh? Already looking exciting with Lillikins as Head Girl and Rum as Head-“ she stopped and like Lily, saw nothing on Remus’ robes except his Prefect badge. She didn’t bother looking at James or Sirius but turned back to Lily. “Rum? Oh bloody hell, if you’re not Head Boy, who is? And if you say Sean Biggerstaff-“
“Can’t help but talk about me, eh?” cut in a silky, somewhat conceited voice.
“Speak of the devil,” Sirius seethed through gritted teeth. The Ravenclaw Quidditch Captain and Phoenix’s personal fanatic Sean Biggerstaff had made his majestic presence known.
“It’s hard not to after that tumble in the Quidditch Cup Finals, eh?” Phoenix teased, her eyes sparkling with mirth. It had been her handiwork, of course, that her opponent mistook a Bludger for the Snitch, causing Sean to pummel to the ground as Phoenix caught the Snitch.
Sean, such the optimistic and determined man, smirked back suggestively. “I’ll make sure that mistake, and my many other ones, don't happen again. I’ll see you around, Phe.” As he walked away, he politely nodded to the Marauders and smirked victoriously at Sirius.
Since Sean had transferred to Hogwarts, he had been chasing Phoenix like a sick puppy. Many compared him to James, not just in his Quidditch skill and irrefutable charm and exceptional looks, but in how he persisted after one girl despite her many witty put-downs and pranks. The only thing that kept Sirius from beating the living daylights out of Sean Biggerstaff was Phoenix’s own threats; but Sirius inevitably worried Phoenix’s threats were only said because she harbored some sort of feeling for Sean and couldn’t stand to see his body mangled on the Quidditch Pitch.
And it wasn’t just his persistence that annoyed Sirius to all ends. The persistence Sirius could tolerate more than Lily-a midnight owl from Sean to Phoenix during their OWL study time proved that last year. No, it was the two-faced attitude that kicked him in the head every time Sean came around. His innocent, gentleman-like, complex charm could woo the girls and teachers but his cocky, I-know-your-secret-and-since-it-won’t-come-true-I’ll-rub-it-in-your-face side did him in. Sirius and his Marauders did compete mildly with Sean for the limelight and the female population’s desires, it was well known. But Sirius and Sean’s one-on-one competition for a particular limelight was surprisingly even better known than expected.
“I wanna wring my hands around his neck and-“
“Careful, Prongs. You don’t want the new Head Boy or Girl to hear to mouthing off,” Peter teased. Phoenix placed a hand on her hip and pouted as Lily and Andromeda came in, chitchatting.
“Who is the Head Boy, after all?” she demanded. The room went quiet and everyone’s eyes-except Phoenix, of course- were on Lily. James opened his mouth but Phoenix cut him off. “Snotter, if you say Siri, no one will laugh. It’s just not funny. Scary, actually, Siri having so much power…”
“Well, Phe,” James began in a well practiced aristocratic accent, “I am the Head Boy.”
Phoenix’s jaw dropped in the same manner Lily’s had when she found out. “No, really, Snotter. Who’s Head Boy?”
“I am, and as Head Boy, I should be heading to the Prefects meeting with Evans here,” he said half seriously, half Marauderish. He glanced at Lily and offered his arm to her before she rolled her eyes and strode three paces ahead. Phoenix looked at the others, still dumbstruck.
“What’s gotten into him? He sounds like the Head Boy.”
“He is the Head Boy, Phe.”
“But he’s the Quidditch Captain and a Marauder! And he’s James Potter!”
“Sirius Black! Language!” screeched Andromeda, her head popping out from behind her bulky book. Phoenix waved her off and smiled.
“No, there is no human waste or debris here, is there? Thank you for pointing that out, Siri.”
“I didn’t mean-“
“Phoenix?” echoed a soft, timid voice. Automatically, Remus cleared his throat rather violently and shifted nervously in his seat. The half-open compartment slid open carefully as the petite, mousy Nadia Dolohov tip-toed inside.
“Top of the morning, Nadia. Hope your summer was good. Come join our human waste-free compartment.”
Nadia warily glanced at Remus but he had busied himself with finding a specific page in his upside down morning edition of the Daily Prophet. Slightly crestfallen Remus had not given her his usual welcoming smile, she turned back to Phoenix.
“Actually, Phe, I need your help with something,” she paused and shifted her feet nervously. Phoenix stood up without another word or explanation and pulled out her wand.
“Never fear, Nadia dear! Phoenix is here to save the day!”
Sirius snorted. “We’d be doomed to damnation if Phe had to save the day, eh Moony?”
Remus made a whimpering sound and dropped his newspaper as Phoenix punched Sirius in the shoulder, grinning wickedly. “Don’t think I won’t kill you when I come back for that little comment.”
Sirius fell onto his back, his toned torso strewn lazily across the seat Phoenix had just vacated. His lips curved into a smirk and his stormy eyes twinkled brighter than the dim light. His shaggy black hair was pulled back into a ponytail but the front layers carelessly fell into his sculpted, fair face. “I’ll be waiting,” he replied. Huffing, Phoenix followed Nadia out just as Lily and James barged in, Lily fuming.
“-can’t tell the Prefects the secret passageways! They’re secrets for a reason, Snotter!”
“And what reason is that?”
“SO NO ONE WILL FIND THEM!”
“But they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t supposed to be found or used.”
Lily opened her mouth and closed it like a gaping fish. Andromeda, Peter, Remus, and Sirius looked up from what they were doing and waited…
…but Lily’s outburst of ‘That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard’ didn’t come like it usually did when James outsmarted her. Quite the contrary, Lily sat down, looking at James with a peculiar look on her face. It was hatred or murderous, and it wasn’t admiration or respect. It just…looked blank. James looked anxious himself despite his new maturity; he didn’t expect to shut Lily up. He sat down cautiously, keeping his gaze on Lily when-
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Sirius smirked as James’ body molded into his seat. Things were still the same.
In compartment 7C, things were not still the same, however. Four people sat in awkward silence as darkness crept onto the pink sheet of a sky. Three of the teenagers sitting wore green and silver robes whilst the last and tiniest of the lot donned a gold and scarlet robe.
“When should we start?” the only boy asked, his voice determined. The one with the gold and scarlet robes looked up, her pink irises meeting his stormy grey ones. Phoenix couldn’t believe how similar Regulus Black’s features were to those of his brother’s.
“I’ve got all the materials. Lily even helped me over the summer when I stayed with her for that month,” Nadia piped up, gesturing her head to a small trunk above Regulus’ head.
“I haven't started yet,” said Phoenix, ashamed. “But as soon as I do, you all should. If we’re not all starting at the same time, we might not have a chance of escap-“
“Don’t even think that,” said the quietest of the group. Bellatrix Black. Her heavily lidded eyes bore into Phoenix’s clear ones, desperation shining in the form of tears. “I’ve worked too hard to let this go. I’m not going to let you let go.”
Phoenix smiled genuinely, admiration radiating. “Well, thank you Bella. It’s good to know someone will catch me if I fall.”
“You’d do the same for us, I’m sure,” she replied in a bashful, muffled voice. Phoenix nodded and stood.
“I’ll give you the signal when I’m ready. You’ll know when-“
“How are you giving the signal? Are you using the tattoo?” asked Regulus.
Phoenix seemed to ponder for a moment while her fingers grazed over her thickly covered left forearm. “No, it’s too risky. The others might feel it. But I'll make it obvious, don’t worry. And Nadia is sticking with Lily now. If there are any doubts, you two could go to her.” Regulus and Nadia nodded nervously and wordlessly walked out of the compartment. Bellatrix remained seated and stared at Phoenix.
"You heard, didn't you? About Rodolphus?" she asked tersely. Silently meditating, Phoenix walked halfway out of the compartment before inclining her head to the left and glancing sympathetically at her friend.
“You said you’re not letting me go. I say I’m not letting you go.” She left and walked briskly back to her awaiting Gryffindor family with Nadia while Bellatrix twiddled the fourteen-karat diamond ring Permanently Stuck onto the ring finger on her left hand bitterly.
“-do not fear your school rivals; there are growing forces we should worry more about that the Quidditch Cup-“
“What is he talking about? Quidditch is life-“ James whispered hoarsely, trying to lighten the ominous mood Dumbledore was conjuring with his Opening Feast Speech.
“Snotter, shut up,” growled Lily, her eyes intent on Dumbledore.
“What? We all know that Dumbledore can take this Voltage guy-“
“Voldemort, Snotter. For the love of Merlin, read the Prophet for once instead of your stupid comic books!”
People around the pair gasped; though this rising overlord wasn’t immensely powerful in Northern Britain, his doings hadn’t been completely disregarded. His name was becoming more and more feared in terrorized areas and surrounding places and from such places, news and rumors flew about.
“What? What happened?” Phoenix whispered groggily, waking up from the deep sleep-like reverie she and Sirius subjected to during the Feast to avoid the pain of hunger scratching at the sides of her stomach. “Why are we being shushed now, Rum? Did Snotter make his first proposal of the year? Oi, Siri! Wake-y, wake-y, chicken bake-y! The food is here and Snotter proposed! Finally!”
“What? Chicken?” Sirius slurred, his head shooting up and just missing Peter.
“Well, we have some here but Snotter proposed finally!”
“No, I didn’t,” James informed, his sloppy grin curving on his thin lips. “We were just talking about Voldetron or whatever-“
“Voldemort, Snotter!” Lily snapped stubbornly. She turned to the fourth years sitting close by and glared. “And don’t shush me! It’s just a stupid name!”
“Where’s the chicken?” asked Sirius again. Sighing, Phoenix dropped the platter in front of him and put the largest drumstick on his own plate.
“Here, turd. Honestly, what would you do without me?”
“Well, it depends who I’d be with instead of you. If it was Prongs, Wormtail, or Moony I was with without you, we’d probably be trying to find you with the Map. But if I was with another girl without you, we’d probably be in a broom cupboard-“
“Stop! Stop! Don’t go further!” shrieked Andromeda. Man heads turned to the newly inducted Gryffindor, but most likely because of her well-known age difference and story.
Phoenix smirked. “Don't worry, Andy. Siri hasn't had more than three relationships in all his years at Hogwarts. He's afraid of contracting cooties. You know, that practically untreatable Muggle disease?" Andromeda shot Phoenix a confused look but Phoenix ignored it. "All I want you to do is admit you can’t do anything without me.”
“Where’s the gravy?” demanded Sirius, oblivious to their conversation.
Phoenix grabbed the gravy from in front of Nadia and dangled it in front of Sirius’ greedy paws like a fisherman using bait. Sirius pounced for it and missed, knocking Remus’ fork of mashed potatoes into Andromeda’s lap. She looked up at Sirius venomously and grabbed Lily’s goblet of pumpkin juice before throwing it in Sirius’ pretentious face.
“’Dromeda!” Lily gasped. “What’s gotten into you?” Not abandoning the staring contest with Sirius, Andromeda smirked.
“Lils, there's an important lesson your pride has refused to let you learn. If you can’t beat them, join ‘em.”
Phoenix whooped and hugged Andromeda. “Finally! The Marauderettes circle is complete! FOOD FIGHT!”
Every head at the Teachers’ Table shot up upon hearing the words, as well as their wands. Dumbledore waved them down, however, as Peter tossed a handful of carrots at Remus and Phoenix pulled Lily under the table to avoid Sirius’ poor aim.
“No wonder you don’t play Quidditch, Siri! You suck at throwing! You’re like a little g- ARGH! NOT FAIR!” Phoenix screamed as a glob of corn and stew flew into her face.
“Why don’t you shut up and throw something like a girl, Phe?” Sirius said mockingly, raising a challenging eyebrow. He opened his mouth again to taunt her when Phoenix poured murky brown liquid down his throat. Sirius began sputtering and coughing while Phoenix laughed.
“There’s your bloody gravy, Black!”
Five hours later, the Marauders and Marauderettes dragged themselves into the Gryffindor Common room. After Sirius recovered from nearly internally drowning, the whole school- minus Lily, of course and ever the surprise, James- joined in the food fight. The professors, Dumbledore, James, and Lily stood at the Head of the Great Hall, awestruck and unable to register what was happening. Not until a stray platter of bread rolls threw tiny Charms Professor Flitwick off his feet.
Naturally, the professors and the Head Boy and Girl woke from their haze and put an end to the colorful debacle. The students weren’t severely upbraided; just forewarned to never act so primitively and sent to their Common Rooms. On the other hand, the Marauders and newly completed Marauderettes were told to remain behind to clean up their doing. Whilst the Head Boy and Girl needn’t stay, they did in the name of friendship. Hence everyone’s five hour delay in returning to the always warm and welcoming Common Room.
“Bloody Hell, that was amazing. I think we set a new record in losing House Points,” sighed Sirius. Lily glared at him.
“You shouldn’t be proud of yourself, Black,” she hissed. Remus, Nadia, and Peter took a seat on individual chairs, Andromeda and James shared an ottoman, and Sirius hogged up the love seat right next to the fire as Phoenix and Lily remained standing.
“Oh, I’m not, Ms. Evans. I’m proud of Andy here who actually threw something back instead of lecturing me.”
Andromeda blushed when all eyes were on her. “Just being back at Hogwarts makes me feel like a kid again…and I miss 'Dora and Ted...I couldn't help it.”
Lily stared at her for a moment before erupting with pure, clear laughter. Everyone looked at each other in amazement; it wasn’t common to see Lily break down into, well, just a simple girl enjoying the moment.
“This-day-has-been-so-messed-up!” she wheezed. Phoenix chimed in with her own laughter and hugged Lily.
“Welcome to life, mate.” she congratulated before sitting next to Sirius on the love seat closest to the fire. Still laughing, Lily sat down and began chatting with Nadia and Andromeda whilst James did the same with Peter and Remus.
Phoenix gazed up at Sirius sleepily and Sirius did the same in return. She smiled lazily and leaned into his firm body while pulling her legs up on the armrest. Their bodies molded perfectly into one another’s as they had done so many times before sixth year in the Boys’ Dormitory. Sirius mindlessly played with Phoenix’s bubblegum pink locks and she-rather bitterly- traced patterns on his bare left forearm.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you, Phe,” he mumbled. She chortled.
“Well, you obviously wouldn’t find the gravy.”
Sirius smiled into her soft hair, memorizing the scent. “That’s for sure,” he yawned and closed his stormy grey eyes. “I always need you to help me find what I want.”
Now wide-awake, Phoenix turned her body slowly and carefully, trying not to wake Sirius. She gazed up at him once more and traced his face with her thumb.
“I won’t always be there to help you find it, Siri.” she whispered, hoping that Sirius could somehow hear and register what she said in his unconscious state.
But he didn’t. Instead, a very conscious Remus did.