Chapter 17 - Noisy Morning
Regulus stood there silently, waiting like he was told to. He glanced at his wrist watch to see that approximately an hour had passed since he was left stranded with that single instruction.
He had been mad at Réatra for sometime since the Yule Ball incident, but a thorough explanation from her dark skinned friend had made him sensible somewhat to how she really felt about the whole matter. The issue had cleared up a bit but he was still rather angry that she had someone else explain it instead of doing it herself.
It was while reflecting back on these things that he heard the sound of footsteps and rolling wheels echo through the silent hallway. He had been informed sometime ago that the estate would be expecting visitors that day, but he didn't foresee meeting them at all.
"Sirius!" he exclaimed in astonishment upon finding the boy and his friends walking with trunks in tow. "What are you doing here so early?"
"I could ask you the same question," returned his brother before he added, "Wait. You said 'early'. You knew we were coming?"
Before Regulus had any chance to answer that question, the door to his right opened and out stepped Réatra Kandraka herself, dressed in what could only be described as an outfit completely out of this world. She looked gorgeous as always, though.
"Oh!" she said, looking mildly surprised at the array of people waiting outside the door. "I wasn't told you all would be coming earlier." And before everyone's eyes, the girl started stripping her attire, piece by piece. The headdress came off first and then the intricate jewelleries. Next were the odd cape and various sections of her dress.
"Mrs. Potter called. She couldn't pick them up and drop them off," explained Bast, taking the headdress from the girl and placing it on her head for fitting before handing it back to the her. Neither she, nor Airae, who were both guiding the group of people through the mansion, were even fazed that Réatra was undressing in front of everyone.
"Uh... Rhea?" James began unsurely. She didn't answer or even looked up from the gold belt she was trying to unlatch. "Why are you taking your clothes off here?"
But then, right before their eyes, the girl's hair grew longer and curled up on its own. Her body morphed taller and larger, while her soft facial features became more masculine. Within seconds, what was once Réatra Kandraka, was now a tall and handsome man with sharp, emerald eyes and skin almost as dark as the night.
"What in bloody hell?" was all that came out of Sirius's mouth.
The man looked at him with a raised eyebrow and discarded the top that no longer fit his well-built torso. He wore nothing but a pair of tight shorts, making Dorcas and Lily blush at the sight. The dark man grinned at the blushes, reveal a set of perfect, white teeth. Bast rolled her eyes and snatched the long bath robe that was in Regulus's hands to toss right at his grinning face. He pulled the robe off but they saw that a smile was still there, now directed at the short woman. He looked like he wanted to laugh but kept his lips sealed tight. Deftly, he wrapped himself with the cotton robe.
"I do apologise for my indecency. But as you have noticed, if I stayed any longer in them, I would have ripped those lovely clothes. Besides, I do feel rather uncomfortable in women's clothing... especially Réatra dearest's. They're too... formal," his words seeped with charisma. "Please allow me to introduce myself to all who has yet to meet me. My name is Toma, and I am but a humble servant of the lady of this house." He bowed lavishly.
Both Bast and Sirius rolled their eyes in annoyance. Polyjuice Potion was the first explanation most of them came up with to reason the shocking transformation.
"Very flowery of you, but what were you doing dressed up as Réatra?" Bast asked him.
"Oh, my beloved Bastet! When you so secretly left with dear Airae on this little trip, without even so much as informing poor little ol' me about it, our little princess received a summon from the elders. So, bored as I was, as I was so cruelly abandoned to roam this massive castle alone, I decided I'd play dress-up and see what they wanted," he told her dramatically, a hand on his chest as if in obvious pain, and Lily was instantly reminded of how Réatra would act out her explanations with equal drama just to get everyone smiling. She could now see where Miu had learned this from. "Oh, and Reg came by just before this little charade, so I told him to wait out here for me," he added as-a-matter-of-factly.
"You know, sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to keep my sanity intact after prolonged exposure to this," Airae told the teenagers with a sigh and shake of his head.
"Why, Airae dearest! What ever do you mean?" Toma asked in faux perplex and then looking as if he had just remembered something, added, "Oh, I almost forgot! Since today is a Sunday, I believe it is your turn to cook. But since you were out, Tysra has taken the liberty of relieving you of that duty. She's in the kitchen right now."
Airae exclaimed something in a foreign language, sounding, to the group, most like a swear. Without much delay, he released the trunk he was holding onto and sprinted down the hall to disappear around the corner.
When the teenagers looked at Toma with questioning looks, he told them cheerily, "Tysra, his sister, has been officially banned from the kitchen, but she sneaks back in occasionally to try to improve her cooking skills. Let's just hope he manages to stop her before she blows up the kitchen again." Turning to Regulus, "Now, you said you wanted to see me about something? Let's go discuss in my room while I find something to wear." With that, he took the boy away.
"How did she blow up the kitchen?" James finally asked.
Bast turned to him with an amused look on her face. "You don't wan'na know." When no one responded to this, she took the trunk Airae had discarded without any difficulty. "Let's go. I need to stop by the sleeping chambers for a bit before I show you to your rooms. I have to wake everyone up."
"You knew they were coming early, didn't you?" Regulus asked the tall, dark man walking beside him
Toma looked down at the sixteen-year-old with a mysterious smile. "What do you think?" he asked cryptically.
"I think you're up to something. They don't even know about Sora and me, and you let them see me back there. You didn't even explain to them how I know you."
"It could be pure coincidence, you know. I don't always know what's going on," Toma replied with a shrug.
Regulus eyed him suspiciously, but said not a word more. Seeing his young friend so, Toma laughed, ruffling the boy's hair with a large hand in a brotherly manner.
"Oh, don't give me that look!"
It took a while for the group, trailing the winding twists and turns of the pathway, to reach their first destination. They arrived at a pair of huge, oak doors that spanned three arm-lengths wide and almost reached the ceiling high above their heads. There were strange inscriptions carved into the edge of each door and intricate designs of vines twisted and curled about the broad space in between. At the centre, where both doors met when remained closed, was a large circle with a Ying-Yang symbol surrounded by the four elements they had found in the stone room that they came through to get to the large estate.
The short woman parked the two trunks she had been dragging to one side, making sure they were not possible obstructions to anyone entering or exiting the room. She then, proceeded to push the doors with both hands, using rather minimal strength, as they seemed to give way all but instantly, without even a sound.
Their sights were bombarded by warm hues of red, orange, and browns in form of plush seats, comfortable-looking beddings, long drapes that cascaded down from the high ceiling, and various tables and bookshelves made of dark wood. Huge bouquets of flowers scattered the large room, filling it with a soothing, floral scent. There was a large harp-like instrument among all the items in the room and many old, leather-bound books filled the shelves.
On one of those large, comfy sofas sat a man with curly, black hair that had a single pastel green streak in it and dark grey eyes that were skimming through a book in his hand. They could tell he was rather on the skinny side by the way his loose robes hung about his large frame. He had a dark, olive complexion.
"I see you're already awake," Bast spoke.
The man looked up from his reading and smiled when he saw the woman and her company. From the distance that separated them, they could see a small tattoo on his left cheekbone, though they couldn't tell of what the tattoo was, for it was nearly the colour of his skin.
"For a while now," he said with a thick, unrecognizable accent, "Is it time to wake them up?" He was looking down at something in his lap as he asked this. There was a lump lying beside him and spreading onto his lap. It moved slightly.
"Alright, then! Just wait for a bit while I finish this," a girlish voice turned the group's attention to the right side of the room. They hadn't noticed it before because it fell out of their line of sight when entering the room, but now that they all turned their heads to face it they saw two teenage girls hovering over a boy of the same age.
The boy, with wavy hair as golden as the sun, was sprawled across the large, round mattress, sheets tangled with his limbs. Snoring lightly, he was fast asleep. He was wearing only a pair of boxers, showing off his well-built, sun-kissed body. The way he was sleeping was rather comical, as his head was hanging off the edge of the round bed, with his mouth ajar, while the rest of him was on it. This, however, allowed the visiting party to see his young, handsome face which bore high cheekbones and a defined jaw line. His ears were slightly pointed, sticking out of his golden locks with silver earrings adorning the one on the left. Like the other man in the room, this blonde had a small tattoo just under his right eye. Since he was closer to them, they could see it was a depiction of an orangey brown sun. On both cheeks were drawing of dark whiskers which were currently being applied by one of the girls, and a dark circle was being painted by the other upon his right eye.
The one painting the circle was tall and willowy. Her hair was long and flowing in a colour that was so pale, it looked silver. She was a pallid creature but with soft features upon her visage. Her ears were slightly pointed and golden rings lined along the right one. Her eyes were a serene, greyish blue and under the left one was a small cerulean tattoo of the crescent moon. She looked very much like a Fae.
The one drawing the whiskers was a petite girl with long wavy hair that was a shocking pink. Her skin was fair but not as much as the first girl's, and her eyes were a vibrant violet. Upon her forehead was a mark of a star in lavender. She was just as beautiful as the other, but her face wore a more impish bearing that seemed to be perpetually joyful. Her ears, too, were slightly pointy, their pointed ends peaking from beneath the pink tresses, free of any piercings unlike the other two's.
"He's not going to be happy when he wakes up," the skinny man told them plainly from across the room.
"We know. That's why we're doing it," replied the taller of the two in a soft-spoken voice.
Bast frowned for a moment before making her way towards the trio. Plucking the brush from the petite girl, she dipped it into a bottle of red ink nearby and made a big blot of red on the sleeping boy's nose. He snorted a bit, as the brush tickled his nose. "There!" she proclaimed triumphantly. "Now, let's wake him up first!"
With that, she bent down close to his face and whispered something in his ear. His snoring stopped abruptly with a loud snort, and his eyes opened drearily to reveal daisy-yellow orbs around black pupils. His eyes scanned the room lazily before he sprang up like a spring into a sitting position when they settled on Bast who was grinning evilly at him.
"B-Bast! Whe-Wha?" he stammered, his voice sounded husky, yet a little high from the surprise.
Upon seeing the other two girls smiling playful at him he cocked his head to one side quizzically. He turned around to look at the brunette man when he heard a stifled chuckle from him. After a brief look at the girls who were trying hard not to laugh, he suddenly bolted from the bed and made for a mirror that was hidden behind some drapes near where the other man was sitting and watching the scene with amusement.
"FARA! KAMA! BAST!" he hollered and turned to face them, gnashing his teeth. A finger jabbed at his face. "What. Makes. You. Think. This. Is funny??" he asked them heatedly, jabbing a finger at his own face.
"How you look a bit like a clown," answered the tall girl.
"How funny you were when you practically jumped for a mirror," replied the pink haired one.
"How riled up you can get by something like this," Bast joined in. "Ahh," she sighed pleasantly, "The joys of morning wake-up calls."
The blonde yelled something in another language and charged for the girls, who squealed loudly as they scattered. He was fast despite his physique, but they were somehow even faster. Bast darted from place to place, laughing aloud every time he nearly caught her. The pink haired one swerved left and right to put large objects between them, making teasing sounds as he failed to get close enough. The silver haired girl jumped around the objects with the ease of a dancer. Her laughter was more subdued than Bast but still shrill enough to echo across the whole room.
"Why are you always so loud when you wake up?" a grumble ensued from the direction of the other man in the room. They all turned to see the lump beside him rising and the comforter slipping to reveal a plain woman in her mid-twenties. She was rubbing her eyes sleepily with one hand before the man, upon whose lap she had been slumbering on, pulled it away.
"Stop that, you'll hurt your eyes," he cautioned and she replied with an irritated huff.
She proceeded to ruffle her short black hair with the other hand, making it messier than it already was. Though partially buried in the mess of dark tresses, a streak of electric blue was still somewhat visible. The woman pushed the blanket away and got up into a stand, stretching her arms behind her. They could see that she was just as short as Bast was and, like the man beside her, had bronzed coloured skin. There was some resemblance between the two, suggesting they were, in some way, blood-related.
"Oh, well. Rude awakenings can't be helped when you live with a bunch of crazy people," she yawned, the accent the same as the skinny man next to her. She watched with amusement the blonde's futile attempt to catch and punish the three girls.
"So does that mean I'm crazy, too?" a deep male voice sounded from under a bundle of sheets in another corner, making the visitors wonder exactly how many more were hidden beneath the masses of beddings. He, too, had a foreign accent, but it was light and different from the others'.
She laughed, sounding like the squawk of a bird. "Well, I guess we're all a bit loony. Some just more than others," she mumbled aloud, letting another yawn escape her mouth. "I see Little Sunshine's howling has awoken you too."
The sheets fell away, as the man underneath them rose into a sitting position, a mass of wavy, brown hair crowning his head in a bed-head manner. His eyes, half-drooped, was a warm chocolate brown like Remus's, and his skin had a light tan. His face was handsome but with no extraordinary features to boast about, while his physique was tall and lean.
"Yes, though I'm not quite sure I'm used to it yet, even after all these years." After a yawn, which he covered with hand, he turned to realize that a band of strangers were standing by the entrance with mixed expressions upon their faces, ranging from amusement to confusion. "Oh, Réatra's friends are here?" he asked rhetorically, seizing the attentions of the blond man and the freshly awakened woman.
"Cyrus," the petite, pink haired girl said in faux amazement as she ducked behind a table, "You just made a fool of yourself in front of all her friends."
Cyrus stopped dead in his tracks and turned to look at the visitors, finally realizing their presence. The three mischievous girls broke into feats of laughter, and blonde's cheeks turned a deep shade of red. "Not my fault," he grumbled in a low voice before grabbing one of the many abundant sheets to try and wipe off the paint. Then he stalked off to a door behind one of the drapes that the group had not noticed before. Cyrus exited, slamming the abused wood.
The two elfish girls laughed and followed him out. The pink-haired one winked as she shut the door, leaving the gang with a, "Don't worry; we'll make sure he calms down after a bath."
"Speaking of which," the brunette voiced, turning everyone's attention to him, "where is the little princess and her bodyguard?"
Everyone was looking about to attempt and find the two mentioned when Bast spotted a rather large bulge upon an even larger bed and, with an audible sigh, walked soundlessly towards it. She grabbed hold of the end of the sheets and pulled it away roughly.
The five Hogwarts students gawked at the sight, their eyes wide as saucers. Two women were sleeping snugly where the sheets once were—one red-head, with shiny but bushy hair even more fiery than Lily Evan's and luscious curves that were hugged tightly by what looked like a black, silk bathrobe, which ended at about mid-thigh. The tips of her hair, however, were as black as night. Her lips were wine red against the smooth, snow white skin. One of her arms lay lifelessly against the mattress while the other was buried in the short, dark tresses of the other girl's hair.
With a cheek resting upon the red-head's chest, was Réatra Kandraka. She was lying partially on top of the other girl, their legs tangled together and with the velvet sheets. A hand was tucked under the red-head's waist and the other clutching onto her robe. Rhea was wearing no more than a black, silk, button-downed shirt with long sleeves that contrasted beautifully with her fair skin. Though they couldn't tell, Lily was sure she was wearing one of her lacey lingerie underneath the thin blouse. Her face was blotched with what looked like white powder. Her eyes were closed in peaceful slumber and her breath, soft and silent.
Bast held a fist under her lips in thought while looking at the pair. All the newly awakened ones approached the large bed and looked at the two sleeping upon with contemplation.
"So how are we going to do this?" the brunette asked, breaking the silence.
"I wouldn't recommend giving them any surprises," spoke the short, dark haired woman as she pulled the loose robe tight around herself. "I don't want to die young."
"I agree. Cyrus," said he, with a glance at the door the blonde exited through, "got severely clobbered the last time he tried that. I wouldn't try our emergency wake up call either."
"So," a deep voice had every waking person in the room started. They all turned around to find Toma, fully clothed, standing behind the visiting Hogwarts students with his hands in the pocket of his pants. "What are we doing?"
When he saw that the estate's residents were gathered around the sleeping pair, he heaved a defeated sigh and walked to join the group. "Safer to wake Aka first," he mumbled. Bending down, he spoke softly into the sleeping red-head's ear resulting in a hard smack from her free hand. Toma stood straight and rubbed his cheek. As he did so, her eyes fluttered open, and their emerald orbs scanned crowd looming over her.
"Morning," Toma greeted cheerfully, still rubbing his sore cheek. "That was twice as hard as usual."
She used that same hand to cover her eyes briefly. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"It's alright. I'm used to it. Now. Can you wake her up?" he nodded towards the only remaining sleeper. "Only you can do that without getting killed."
The red-head nodded and turned towards the girl hugging her. She felt as light as a feather, though she was taller than the red-head. She smiled a bit at the sight of the girl, peacefully asleep. Stroking the dark silky hair, she whispered softly, "Réatra, dekqoire meran," rolling her R's as she spoke it.
The dark haired girl grumbled softly and moved to bury her head in the nook of the red-head's neck, smearing the white powder over the black silk of her friend's robes. She mumbled something incoherent, clutching the black robe even tighter.
"Sherlyr, dekqoire dimpra tairan," the red-head added.
Only then did Réatra release her hold and shifted onto her back upon the mattress, her eyes only half open. The red-head propped herself up on her elbows and leaned in a bit to pecked her lips, murmuring softly "Ohaiyo."
If the five Hogwarts students hadn't been gawking before, their jaws dropped now. The rest, however, were unfazed by the feat and only continued to watch in amusement. Réatra blinked twice as if in confusion before a soft smile graced her pink lips.
"Ohaiyo... Ankeh..." she whispered back in a daze.
The shorter woman rose, untangling herself from the other and held out a hand. "Fyaruri qoirek, Sherlyr brurakwi," she told the sleepy girl.
"What is she saying?" James whispered to Toma who was standing right beside him.
The dark man leaned back and answered, "She's just goading her to get up so they can wash up."
As he explained to the younger man, the dark haired girl took the red-head's hand and was pulled up into a sitting position. She was about to pull her completely out of bed when the handsome brunette intervened.
"Here. Let me." Moving between the two he scooped the dazed girl up in his arms with little effort.
Toma and the red-head gazed at the man with unreadable eyes and then at each other, but said nothing. Réatra didn't make any arguments. She simply leaned against his chest while trying to resist sleep.
It was the first time ever that her Hogwarts friends saw her in such an innocent and unguarded state. Like everything else they had encountered since stepping into the abandoned cottage out in the middle of vast fields of grass, this scene only served to confuse them further with everything about Réatra and her life.
"Now," prompted Bast, snatching their attention away from the rest who were making a beeline for the same door. "Let me take you to where your rooms are, so you can settle down for a bit, and then I'll come get you to lunch," she briefed, already heading out the same way they came in.
The teenagers had no choice but to trail along behind her as she rambled on about random things. "I do hope Airae has managed to salvage lunch though," she ended as they reached another pair of oak doors, this time carved with many depictions of animals.
Toma, who had tagged along, released Dorcas's trunk and proceeded to push the twin doors for her. Bowing low with a mirthful glint in his eye, he told her, "Ladies first."
Bast merely rolled her eyes, shook her head, and went in. The rest followed to find themselves in a small hall with five more identical doors, evenly distributed along the wall. Letting go of Lily's trunk, she turned to the five visitors, "So I'll leave you to choose your own rooms. I'll be back in a bit to take you to the dining room, where you we can properly introduce ourselves without all that ruckus just now. Plus, they'll all be wide awake by then." She offered them a merry smile and left.
Toma stayed to help them with their luggage and chatter with them as they waited. Sirius was the only one quiet the whole time, seemingly contemplating on the morning's series of events.