Chapter 18 : Making Maps and Plotting Plans
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Somewhere off the coast of France
The morning waves crashed noisily against the sand of the beach, rocking back and forth. The moon was lowering in the sky as the sun was rising, the birds out for their morning breakfast, landing with splashes on the water before flying away with their token fish of the day. Having woken up over an hour ago, Cindy sat on the mattress, using the soggy pillow as what she could only describe as a half-assed paddle, getting nowhere, and getting there slow. There was a scene in the far distance, some remote buildings littering the skyline, but nothing extraordinary like in a large city. Eye’s straining, Cindy brought her hand to shield herself from the sun, to look at the beach with longing. Only, she didn’t see the house that she’d been spending a bit of time at during this summer… in fact, she didn’t see any houses that she even begun to remotely recognize, leaving her even more confused than she normally was.
“Someone is going to pay for this… really, how am I meant to get out of here without money. Someone’s going to have to pay for this…” And as though the gods of the water had heard her vow of vengeance against someone else’s wallet, a large wave overtook her mattress, sending her sailing into the depths of the water below, ruining the mattress before sending it sprawling back out into the open sea, and her doing to doggy paddle all the way to the shore that seemed oh so very far away. The distance was only mounted upon by the fact that exercising was clearly the only thing that she never did do, another vow that she would make.
Getting to the shore, and dragging her exhausted body onto the beach, Cindy looked around at the people looking back at her before making a move to speak with one of them. Perhaps, just maybe, they would know where she was, and how best to get back to her previous vacationing spot. Maybe, she’d just drifted a bit, and she was just down the road from the beach house, she could catch a bus, or maybe even a nice train, and make her way back before pawning the charges off on the Parks’ as an expense for continuing to oversee the care of their most precious child, Asher. Sure that it was somehow connected with that demon-child, Cindy continued her trek towards someone who wouldn’t run away at the site of her, as she panted along the beach in her soaked pajamas.
“Excuse me, sir…” Cindy began, looking at a man in a bathing suit she wouldn’t even want to see on someone attractive, but he quickly held up his hand, speaking in a foreign tongue with words that only served to confuse the hell out of the poor, unfortunate caregiver. “I just want to know where I am…” He pointed to the beach, the land behind it, and everything about it in general. “Where. Am. I?” She said slowly, as though that would somehow solve the language barrier, and he looked at her confused before some little boy came over, and laughed at her. The sound thickly infiltrated her head, and his thick accent and smile were nothing short of mocking to the woman. But he gave her the answer that she so desired.
“You,” the boy pointed to her, “are in France.” He pointed to everything else around them, before laughing and pulling at the man’s hand happily, saying something to his father before the pair walked off, laughing about whatever the translated words had meant. Cindy looked around in a dawning comprehension before looking back at the water behind her, the boy had to be joking, he had to be! How could she possibly be in France, and more important than that, how was she meant to get back? What if Asher accidentally choked on her food again, or walked into another door? Or what if she… well, she did all of those things on a regular basis, and there really was no need for her to continue watching her, but she didn’t care so long as she had a nice place to stay and money in her pocket.
“Escargot.” Cindy said, as though the word were a curse and not a food of the snail variety. Before turning on heel, and trying to formulate just how she was going to get back to England without any money, and without anything else that would help her – all while still in her pajamas. It was such a rough life being her.
Back in England
Having been dropped into the sand just inside of the whimsy little piece of shit fort, I looked around as though something was going to fall out of the cracks and break my eye. Or rather, poke me in the eye and break it. Can eyes break? I bet they can, because mine do every time I look at Sirius sodding Black.
“How’d you know we were going to set you to sea.” James looks at me as though this is the Spanish inquisition; I can’t help but want to call him Christopher Columbus again. After all, he did have something to do with Spain, I do believe. I don’t know, and this isn’t a history lesson, so I’m going to pretend that I know what I’m talking about.
“Because you’ve got the subtlety of a moving, red target.” I told him before rolling my eyes.
“Those can too be subtle!” Sirius blurts out, and I look at him as well. He would have accidentally walked into one of those or something equally stupid, I’ve absolutely no doubt. “When they move fast enough, you hardly notice that they’re red, and that by definition of subtlety, is subtle.”
“Do you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and consider yourself brilliant, Sirius?” I asked him, before continuing. “I just want to know if you really do consider half of the rubbish that comes out of your mouth to be worth the waste of air you use saying them.”
He mocked me most of the time before he got a swift smack to the back of the head by Remus, as there was clearly a topic that they were meant to be talking about. “Where are our things, Asher?” Remus asked, but by that point, I’d nearly forgotten that I’d nicked their possessions. The way things work in this odd world, it’s almost amazing sometimes.
“What things, would you be referring to, Remus?” I asked him, wanting him to state that I’d stolen some odd looking pair of matching undergarments from him. More specifically, wanting him to admit it out loud because both him and myself knew, but clearly he didn’t want his friends to know. That, clearly, was not my fault, and I could not be blamed for the fact that he was too much of a girl to come out of the woodwork to say that he’d clearly kept a souvenir from a girl, and had brought it in his trunk.
“You know, stop changing the subject and get us our stuff back!” Sirius and James were back to looking at him before he sheepishly shrugged and looked at the two. “Good cop, bad cop, the routine usually works on real criminals.” James paused a long moment before nodding slowly.
“Riiiight, and uh, have you forgotten that you need a good cop to play that part, otherwise it’s just bad cop? I may not be the smartest of this bunch,” I got a glare from the boy when I snickered over this particular comment. How could I honest resist, he’d set himself up for that one, hook line and sinker! “But even I know that.” Remus shrugged once more, hastily mumbling under his breath about something to do with a pink bunny, and then there was silence in the fort once more. Taking a deep breath, and looking through the crack in what was meant to be the roof and out towards the sky, I wondered whether or not Cindy was looking at the same stars as I was.
“So, how are you lot going to get ungrounded?” I asked, knowing that they had been, as there was nothing better than eavesdropping when you heard yelling. “Going to go and paddle yourself off to France in order to rescue her? Who knows, Sirius, then she might take you on as her next project, and we can be babysat together.” The word came out whimsical, before I batted my eye-lashes and then proceeded to gag. It wasn’t my fault that it was too easy to make him turn around and act rashly over something that was clearly an insane idea to begin with.
“You know, I could-” He began before shaking his head and looking at me again. “Nope, I’m not saving Cindy, because then you might switch beds again and ruin our-crap.” I couldn’t not shake my head as the trio seemed to never realize that they would continue to blunder through their potentially good schemes by giving it all away.
“Right, like I’d believe that you’d try it again. What with your given success of this last try.” Success that was better for me than it had been for them. “I really ought to thank you. That woman’s been an unnecessary thorn in my side for ages.” Just then, the dog came out, and looked into the fort whining. “Oh thank Merlin! Fido, go get mum and have her rescue me!” The dog, whose name I had already forgotten, but was certainly not Fido, looked confused for a moment before peeing on the end of the shack and running back in the direction of the house.
The four of us looked at the corner in disgust for a moment, before Sirius tried to cover it up with sand. What a brilliant move, honest. “No, no, this is good. Now when the tide comes in and ruins the shack you’ve built, it’ll wash off of the urine. Good game plan, guys.” I would have done the slow clap for them at this point, however, with my hands still taped behind my back, and my legs unable to move separately, I figured that there was little hope for the final push in effectiveness of the move.
“Will you four stop mucking around and come inside for dinner? And boys, before you run off, either take Asher with you, or untie her?” Mrs. Potter looked a bit tired from the constant shenanigans that she must have had to put up with, but either way, they obeyed and picked me up, swinging me around as they walked back to the house, singing some variation of a song with words that were incomprehensible. Something that was pretty regular for a bunch like the sodding marauders. And thankfully, on the way inside, they only dropped me once.
“Alright, so we are here.” Sirius pointed a stick he’d found outside at a spot on the map before Remus sighed and shook his head. Adjusting the stick, Sirius grinned before nodding. “We are here.” No one objected this time. “This is the English Channel.” He whacked another spot on the map, before Remus moved again to fix it, only Sirius pulled the stick closer to his body and mock glared at the other boy. “Oi, Moony, whose plan was this?”
“And would you like to go over it?”
“And take credit for your disaster of a plan, no thanks.”
“Good, then stop correcting me when I hit things with my stick!” Remus sighed and shook his head before waving on Sirius as he went to hit the map that was poorly drawn on with crayons, and looking at it. “Here is the English Channel, as I was saying.” Sinking further into my chair as I looked at the boy with rapt attention wondering how many other times England would be China, and the English Channel would be Antartica, or at least… I think that’s what the blob at the bottom of the poorly drawn map was meant to be.
Raising my hand, Sirius grinned and pointed the stick at me. “Yes, Asher?”
“Do I really have to sit here through this?” I asked him, wondering just what else I was meant to listen to for the night. After all, there was only so much stupidity that didn’t make sense outside of the head of a marauder that a person could take before every last one of their brain cells died.
“Yes, after all this is operation ‘Find Out Where Cindy Is, Or Else Stay Grounded Forever’ or as I like to call it FOWCIOESGF.”
“Mum! I think Sirius just cursed at me in troll.” I called into the other room, only to hear snickering coming from the room and Mrs. Potter making a comment on what a shame it had been that she’d never had more than one child, as a darling daughter like me would clearly be the best thing ever. Or something to that effect, I’m sure.
“Shuddup, Asher. Sit there and enjoy the presentation.” He flipped to the next page, where there was a delightful scene of the Eiffel tower, large loaves of bread, and people in french hats, along with Cindy, who much to my pleasure had a question mark and a confused look on her stick-figured face. “This is France. This is France with Cindy.” Sirius continued to beat the crap out of the poor parchment hanging on the board, but described little.
“You forgot something on Cindy’s face.” I commented lightly, pointing to her figure on the board. Quickly, Sirius picked up a crayon and looked at her and then back at me.
“What did I forget?”
“When she makes a frown like that, her upper-lip? The corners of it illuminate the moustache she’s beginning to grow.” There was a collective evil laugh, before Sirius drew it in, adding a bit that ended up being a handle-bar moustache, and looking back at us.
“Right, ok, so here’s Cindy in France. She’s confused, and wet, and… well, Cindy.” He stated and I had to applaud his clearly genius levels of thinking. “And we’ve got to figure out where she went, otherwise we’re going to get scorned by all of the adults…” there was a distinct ‘not all’ said from the kitchen, and I was sure that my mum was still my hero. “Most of the adults.”
“Right, ok, well, what if we don’t care where she is? She could be anywhere.” James pointed out, but then quickly added. “Not that I don’t care.” Before pointing to the kitchen to daftly point out that the adults were listening as though none of us had quite figured that out yet, even though their commentary was heard just as well as Sirius’ plan was. “She could be anywhere along the coasts of all of these countries.”
“Or she could have been eaten by rabid sharks.” I pointed out gleefully, before going over and flipping the map over so that it was the world again, and drawing pictures of sharks, and a mattress on the English Channel before walking back and sitting down, satisfied.
“Why did you just draw sphinxes on the map?” James asked, before I turned to look at him.
“I don’t know, why don’t you riddle that one out, genius.” He looked puzzled for a minute before looking back at me with a bit of surprise in his face.
“You were making fun of me, weren’t you!” He asked, and I could only nod. Yes, yes I was making fun of you.
“Ladies, let us not fight…” Sirius began, clutching a fist to his heart before looking up in the direction of the sky, clearly off on some heroism speech that would likely end with a punch in the face. “For we must stand together, and come together as a united front to search out and rescue the fair maiden called Cindy. We shall not pass any rock without turning it over, no river will be unmonitored, and no mattress will be un-used.” He wriggled his eyebrows at me before I punched him in the stomach and moved into the kitchen where our parents were all sitting round the table playing a game of poker.
“Mum, do you think, if no one goes looking for Cindy, then we can just consider that her being fired?” She looked at me a moment before patting my head like she used to when I was four. I hated it just as much.
“If you wear that pink dress tomorrow, I’ll fire her when she gets back.” I narrowed my eyes a bit at her suspiciously.
“I want that written down on paper, signed, and then sealed with your blood.” I told her, before looking at her, and she laughed.
“With the Potter’s as my witness, you’ll never be patronized by Cindy again. Well, unless you don’t wear that dress tomorrow, I think it’d look rather nice with your hair done and wearing those pearls I got you…” I held up a hand.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, woman. Now you’re pushing it.” Kissing the top of her head before saying the rest of my goodnight's, I skipped happily up the stairs, looking around before going back down them. “Does this mean that we’ve still got to find her though?”
“Of course, Asher, we can’t just leave her in the ocean or something…”
“Damn.” I muttered before skipping back up the stairs and shutting my bedroom door behind me. Taking the night-table that had been next to where Cindy and her mattress should have been, I propped it against the opening of the door, stacking a couple of breakable things on top of it. Just so that I would know if those bothersome boys would try to get into my room, surely that would wake me right up enough to shut the door in their faces and securely go back to sleep, but just in case, I locked the windows, too.
A/N: There we go, much faster this time around. What did you think? I'd love to know in a review. *hints and winks*