Chapter 4 : Home Sweet Home
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"How 'bout this?"
Lily scrunched up her nose and crossed her eyes. Mary pinched her cheek.
I peered at Lily over the top of my book. Lily rolled her eyes.
"I'd like to see you do better," said Lily, stuffing her mouth with Chocolate Frog.
Mary leaned back on her seat. "Unfortunately, I can't at the moment."
"Why not?" Fedora asked, not looking away from the latest edition of Witch Weekly.
"Well, I can't act sick around all this." Mary gestured to all the candy and food on the seats.
"Hmm...true." I said said as I took a Sugar Quill from the pile next to me. The trolley lady had passed not so long ago.
"Do you always eat Sugar Quills?" Lily said, watching me.
"I don't eat them; I suck them." I said matter-of-factly.
The door of our compartment opened and closed. I looked over my book again. Elia had come back from the restroom.
"Sorry 'bout the mess." I said, looking at the pile of candy wrappers next to each girl. Elia shrugged and plopped down on the floor.
Lily leaned in to read the title of my book.
"Common Magical Ailments and Afflictions. Hmm...becoming a Healer?" Lily asked.
I nodded behind my book. "Mum wants me to work in the Ministry of Magic. I'd rather not."
Elia sighed. "I wonder what we'd be like when we all grow up."
"Get a job, get married, have kids. Simple." Fedora said.
"I don't know about the 'get kids' part." I said.
"Why not?" Lily asked, taking another bite out of a Chocolate Frog.
"Dunno. What, you want to have kids?" I said, closing my book.
"Maybe. Not a very bad idea." Mary said, shifting in her seat.
"What would you name your kid?" Elia asked, reaching for a Licorice Wand from Fedora's pile as she wasn't looking.
"I don't know," Lily pondered. "Maybe if it was a boy...I dunno...Harry?" Lily took another bite. "Harry Ev- wait, he wouldn't have my last name because I would be married..."
"Well, not unless your husband died, ditched you, is in Azkban, or you're a teenage mom." Fedora said, putting down her Witch Weekly.
"Harry what, then? Harry...Harry..." I said. I pondered. Who would be Lily's husband...who does Lily - Then it clicked.
My mouth turned into a wicked grin.
"How about Harry Potter?" I asked, grinning maniacally. Everyone laughed. Lily look like she was about to punch me.
"Ha! Harry James Potter! Even better!" I exclaimed. Everyone laughed even more. Lily looked murderous.
"Oh, no you didn't!" Lily said shaking her head.
"Joking, joking!" I said, laughing so hard that my ribs hurt.
"Whatever you say, it won't happen. Never ever." Lily crossed her arms over her chest.
The compartment door opened again. I looked up to see who it was. Richard Goldstein was poking his head inside our compartment.
"It's our turn to patrol." Richard said to me. I nodded and joined him out the compartment. Oh, the jobs prefects have to do. We walked dwon the train, peeking in each compartment. Not a very nice job, as easy as it is. In one compartment, I saw a first year picking his nose. Another, two sixth years having a tongue wrestling tournament. Not very good for my stomach, considering that I was sucking a Sugar Quill. After passing a compartment that contained a very fat boy stuffing his mouth with half a dozen Cauldron Cakes, Richard spoke up.
"So what're you doing over the summer?"
I shrugged. "I dunno. I'm staying home, I guess."
Richard nodded. "Yeah, me too. At least you have siblings."
I snorted. "That's what everyone says."
Richard rolled his eyes. "And that's what everyone says back to me."
We passed a compartment with a familiar person sitting in it. Arwel Carmichael smiled at me as I passed. I waved back.
Arwel was a friend, but we weren't very close. He seemed nice enough. And very cute.
We had reached the end of the train. Richard and I walked back up and resumed glancing into compartments. Now the two sixth years that was having a tongue wrestling tournament were pushed against the wall, eating each other's faces off.
I wrinkled my nose in disgust. Sickening.
Richard and I exchanged glances and walked faster. We passed a compartment where I saw Ashleigh and William Davies snogging each other. I almost dropped my Sugar Quill, but looked away and pushed the thought out of my mind. In no time, we were getting in the prefect carriage. Richard opened the door for me with a mocking bow.
"After you, Mademoiselle Merett." he said, forcing back a grin.
"Thank you, Monsieur Goldstein." I said mockingly.
"Eet was no problem." Richard put on a French accent. I laughed.
Richard closed the door behind him and we sat down with the other prefects. I saw Remus and smiled at him. He smile back half-heartly and turned away. I frowned. Did I do something wrong?
The Head Boy and Girl rambled on about something I really didn't care about. I was absentmindedly twirling my Sugar Quill in my fingers, wondering if Honeydukes would invent one that would last for hours.
The Head Boy nodded at us. "You're free to go now."
We nodded back and jumped out of the carriage. We burst out laughing once we closed the door.
"Zat was amusing." I said. We hurried to our compartments with childish grins on our faces after saying good bye.
When I came back to my compartment, Fedora was the only one there. She was nicking some of Mary's candy and her eyes widened when she saw me.
I chuckled. "Caught in the act." I said as I sat down next to her.
"You won't tell?" Fedora looked at me cautiously.
"Maybe, maybe not." I leaned back.
Fedora shrugged. "Okay."
"So whatcha doing for the summer?" I asked. I had finally asked the annoying question that had been pestering everyone. I was sure I could recite my answer.
"Staying at Elia's."
"Because my parents are going to Germany."
I raised my eyebrows. "I bet you that you recited that."
"Yep." Fedora pulled out a mirror from her bag.
"Hey, we're almost there." I said, peering out the window. A faint outline of the familiar corner was visible in the distance. I looked up at my luggage and frowned.
I turned towards Fedora. "Where's Sylvie?"
Sylvie was my spotted brown owl that loved to stay awake all night. Annoying, but it was routine to listen to her hoot every night until I buried my face into my pillow to drown the noise out.
Fedora put her mirror away. "Ashleigh was using her, remember?"
I frowned. "But Sylvie's my owl. And she's been gone for..." I thought for a moment. "A week! How far does Ashleigh need her to travel?"
"Maybe she had several letters to send. But I saw her bring Sylvie to dinner last night." Fedora responded.
"Yeah, but, three or four days should be enough! And what - what are you - d-dinner?? Who would bring a sodding owl to dinner?" I said frantically.
"Ashleigh." Fedora fingered a Chocolate Frog from my pile.
"But she must be mad to do that. Thst's just....stupid!" I said, throwing my hands up.
"Chillax." Fedora said.
"Well, you don't have an animal. You don't know what it feels like." I retorted.
"But I have makeup. I get nervous when someone uses them." Fedora said absentmindedly.
I sighed. Oh, Fedora.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you!" Fedora said suddenly.
"I talked to him!"
"Him? Who -"
"Oh, so -"
"I'm one step ahead!"
I gave Fedora a careless pat on the back.
"Good. Hey!" I looked out the window. The train had slowed down. I glanced out the compartment door. People were already getting their luggage.
Fedora handed me my trunk. She then grabbed hers and Elia's. I frowned.
"Where is everybody?" I asked.
"Elia is with Tristen, I reckon she's coming back. And Mary is wherever Lily is."
I felt the train halt to stop and everybody started pushing to exit the train. I opened the compartment door and squeezed myself between a skinny first year and a fourth year. Somebody stepped on my foot and unnessacary tears filled my eyes. I looked back and tried to find Fedora. She nowhere in sight.
"Damn it," I said as a seventh year jostled his way through, as his size would have scared anybody. I was soon pressed against the wall, unable to move.
Well, I guess I'll have to wait until everyone's gone until I can get out of here. Some Slytherin gave me a shove and anger bubbled inside me. I glared at her until she was out of sight.
A hand grabbed me out of nowhere and I was dragged to safety, inside a compartment. I looked up. A smiling Arwel greeted me.
"Thanks." I said. Arwel loosened his grip.
"People are pretty rough out there." he said, looking at me intensely. Wow, he has cute eyes. Argh! Shut up, Amber.
"Yeah...I guess we wait." I said.
We waited for what seemed like hours until only one person was left. We grabbed our luggage and opened the squeaking compartment door. The person turned around. I raised my eyebrows in surprise. Remus was staring back at us. I opened my mouth to greet him, but Arwel coughed.
Remus took one last look at me before getting off the train. I swore he looked sad. But then again, he seemed pale. Maybe he was ill.
Once I got off the train I searched over heads to find my family. But half of me also wanted to find Remus. But then there were three familiar people waving their arms at me. I grinned. I turned to Arwel.
"See ya in two months?" I asked.
Arwel nodded. "Yeah, see ya."
I hurried towards my family. Once I reached them, I hugged them and gave them a good look. Brent was grinning(as always), Dad's graying hair, and...Ashleigh was standing there with Sylvie in the cage in her hand. I frowned.
"Where's Mum?" I asked.
"Your mother's still at work. Really busy at Magical Law Enforcement. I just managed to get out of the Ministry to pick you up." Dad said, obviously tired.
"Or you could've left them to me, Dad. I'm overage. Remember?." Brent said. He puffed his chest out. Ashleigh and I exchanged glances. Brent had been so proud of himself for being over 17 and training at the Ministry to be an Auror. But it was wearing off now, since it had been two years already.
I waved back to Lily and her family. A blonde girl who looked like Lily's sister looked at me in disgust, as though I had some sort of disease.
Dad glanced at his watch. "Okay, let's go."
Ashleigh handed me Sylvie.
"Why did you keep her for so long?" I asked.
Ashleigh shrugged. I looked at her suspiciously.
We crammed ourselves into our car. Sylvie hooted indignantly when the edge of my trunk hit her cage.
"Sorry." I muttered to Sylvie. She just ruffled her wings.
The heat was intense, even though Dad turned on the air conditioning. Very feeble, if you asked me. We drove until I saw a familiar green hedge blossoming with flowers. Dad parked the car outside the house. Brent, Ashleigh, and I hassled ourselves out the car.
A small garden postioned itself in front of the house. I saw a gnome trodding away across our garden. Our house was white, one side of the wall covered in overgrown vines snaking its way around the house. The peeling paint on the door was noticeable even from where I was standing.
I smiled. I was home.
Home sweet home.
~ ~ ~
Two Weeks Later...
"Give it to me."
"I said give it to me!"
"Hand. It. Over."
"Not if you give me something."
"I don't know...your diary?"
"Remind me never to make bargains with you ever again."
I cornered Brent, who was holding the letter in his hand. Which was high in the air, out of my reach. I jumped, hoping to snatch the letter out of his hand. But Brent just swiftly tucked it safely behind his back, continuously rotating so that I couldn't catch it.
I crossed my arms. "Brentin," I said dangerously.
"Amberlynn." Brent replied. A corner of my mouth twitched.
I sighed. "Fine, then, read it! Read it for the world to hear!" I threw up my arms and sat down on my chair.
Brent furrowed his eyebrows together. "Oh."
"Who cares? It's only from Terence."
"Okay...let's see...ahh..." Brent cleared his throat. "Hey, Amber. Just giving my owl excercise. He looked like he really needed it. Send him back with a response. And see ya around. Tere."
Brent threw the parchment at me and muttered, "Waste of time." He walked out of my room without another word, obviously disappointed. I bet he was expecting a love note.
I rolled my eyes(I do that a lot), scribbled a reply, and tied the letter back on Terence's owl's leg. I watched the owl soar out of the window and take a left to where Terence's house was. The Boot family was our next door neighbor. When we were little, Terence and I made a hole in the hedges to crawl through to get to one another's yard. We were like secret agents and the hole in the hedge was like a secret tunnel. But our parents found out and put some sort of charm on the hedges so we couldn't do it any more.
"Amber, Ashleigh, come down, Granny's here." Mum's voice found its way to my room. I groaned. I was dreading this moment of the summer. I trudged down the stairs as slowly as possible. Ashleigh was right behind me, walking even slower, if possible.
I growled. Because I'm second oldest, I have to take the blame. "We're coming!"
I reached the bottom of the stairs just in time to see the wrinkled face of Granny before I had my cheek pinched. Granny always had no mercy.
"Hey, Granny." I said, hugging her lightly. I thought if I hugged her too tightly, her bones would break. Not that I wanted to.
Ashleigh mumbled a "hi" before hugging Granny with one arm.
"Mmm, good girls." Granny replied. Ashleigh and I exchanged glances. That's what Granny always said after we hugged her.
Granny was sitting in her usual wheelchair. Her knotted hands were placed on her lap, on top of a lacy hankerchief. Granny's gray, but mostly white curly hair bounced she nodded or moved. When I was little, I always had a desire to pull one of them and watch it bounce up and down.
"But back in our day, we had to -" Granny started.
"Uhh, Mum, when do you have to leave?" Mum cut in. Brent gave her a grateful glance.
"In half an hour. I tell you, I'm getting too old to Apparate so I need someone to do it with me." Granny then eyed my Puddlemere United T-shirt and short jeans.
"Do you wear anything else other than those ratty, old Puddlemere United T-shirts? You should wear blouses, Berthie." Granny said disapprovingly.
Berthie. I hated that nickname that Granny gave me. Why did Mum have to give me such a long name?
"Well, I like Puddlemere United...they're really good -"
"Oh, Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch! They're taking over everyone's minds these days! And don't you ever wear a skirt?" Granny threw up her hands.
"Um...on special occasions..." I said meekly. The truth was, I never liked wearing skirts. I prefered shorts or jeans. Knee-length skirts were an OK for me, but I wouldn't wear anything shorter.
"Hmph, special occasions. Don't you have a friend...ahh...what's her face...the - the - Femoria girl!" Granny exclaimed.
"You mean Fedora?" I asked.
"Yes, yes, whatever. She's pretty good. Although she should have picked up my type of fashion...then she would have been chased by many blokes...like me....did I tell you about the time..." Granny rambled on about the time of her life when blokes ran senseless after her. I didn't believe her there for a second.
Granny droned on and on. And on and on. And on and on and on. Brent kept glancing at the clock nervously. Ashleigh perched her chin on the palm of her hands. Mum crossed her arms and only let go when she needed to stretch them.
This is sooo boring, I thought. I drummed my fingers against my thigh. I soon got bored with that so instead, I played with my hair.
"...and I told her, 'Hand me that one'. But guess what? She just swept it off the desk and said that it was already reserved for someone. You know what? I think she wanted that dress for herself. If you ask me, it was not her style. It would only fit my type of figure. Her hips were too wide and her brea-"
"Oh, fuckin' -" Brent exclaimed. Everyone's heads snapped towards to look at Brent. Mum was giving Brent the evil eye. Granny was opening her mouth to say yet another paragraph of her life. Oh bollocks.
"Young man, such language! In my day, we had to put soap into our childrens' mouths to cleanse them of the terrible words that escaped from them. We should really be getting back to the old tradition shouldn't we -"
"Hey, hey, Granny, look at the time! Time to go! Heh heh." Brent interruppted. Now everyone turned to look at the clock. Exactly thirty minutes had passed. I frowned. But Granny had only been here fifteen minutes. Or at least it felt like fifteen minutes.
"Well, my mind must have been going fuzzy because I calculated that I would tell at least 27 stories in thirty minutes! I only told....let me see..." Granny furrowed her eyebrows together and thought for a while. "About 13 or 14 stories! My, when people get to my age, they must be ready to stand the-"
"Mum, let's go! Yes come on...okay....I'll be back, kids-"
Mum's words were cut off by a loud crack!
Mum had grabbed Granny's arm and apparated away. I felt relieved. Ashleigh turned to Brent.
"You did something to the clock, didn't you?" she asked, walking over to the kitchen table and taking an apple out of the fruit bowl.
"That's the handy thing about these things." Brent replied, waving his wand so that purple sparks dangerously erupted out of the end.
"Not so handy when it set your buttocks on fire," I said, eyeing his wand.
"You did that! I was just sitting down when you put my wand in my back pocket!" Brent looked sour.
"Oh, yeah, and some sparks came out of your wand when you sat on it. Then some Slytherin thought it was a joke and started pointing at your butt," Ashleigh said, laughing.
"Then you looked down- and screamed - and screamed like a girl" I was laughing so hard that my ribs started hurting.
"And you ran out of the Great Hall screaming for- for Madam Pomfrey -" Ashleigh had tears in her eyes.
"Now I know why th- they say never put your wand in your back pocket-" I was rolling on the floor now, not able to control my laughter.
Brent's face was bright red. "Hmph, why do you have to be so curious?"
I shrugged. "It just comes at heart, I guess."
"Remember, curiosity killed the cat. I bet you'll die one day." Brent said gravely.
I scoffed. "Everybody has to die."
Then there was a loud crack! that made everyone wince.
"Brentin Joseph Merett, I do not want you doing that in front of your granny again, or else I'll personally do that mouth washing thing with a block of soap-"
"Okay, okay, I won't. Alright? Besides, my teeth are clean enough."
"Well, maybe your tongue isn't-"
"I can always gurgle some water-"
"I swear my eardrums are going to burst-"
"Sorry, sorry! I didn't know-"
"Joseph, apparate outside the door next time okay??"
"I'm going to put enchantments around our house-"
"It's not that big of a deal, Cathy-"
"What if You-Know-Who himself apparated in our house and-"
"That is ridiculous, Cathy, why-"
"It's a possibility-"
Everyone turned to look at me. I reddened.
"What? You guys are the ones who are going to have this house blown up one day! Be quiet."
Everyone shuffled back to whatever they were doing. I walked back up the stairs and into my room. Home sweet home. Yeah, right.
I laid down on my twin bed and closed my eyes. I finally got used to the fact that summer had just begun and that I could sleep however long as I wanted to. Now that school was over, alot of my problems had gone away. The Fedora-Ashleigh-Sirius triangle, Janie Cabell, and Remus...
I frowned. Why had Remus been so distant to me on the train? Did I say something that offended him? I mean friends don't just...
Wait. Friends. When had we ever said we were friends? Prehaps we had never been friends at all? We didn't shake hands or make an agreement or anything. I guess we were just...acquaintances. Never really friends. And I just assumed. Hm, maybe that's why?
There was a knock on my door. Before I could say anything, it opened.
"Hey, Amber," Ashleigh said.
"Hey," I replied.
Ashleigh sat on my bed. I raised my eyebrows.
"Just wanted to talk to you 'bout You-Know-Who..."
I leapt off the bed. "You're not planning on joining him are you??" I asked, horrified.
"No! Not that You-Know-Who! The other one!"
I furrowed my eyebrows together. "There's another one? Who-"
"Uh! It's EFFING SIRIUS BLACK!" Ashleigh shrieked.
"Alright, alright! I get that we have a loud family, thank you very much for explaining that once more!" I said, my hands out protectively in front of me.
Ashleigh yanked my hands down and said, "I'm not going to hurt you.""Okay, fine." I walked over to Sylvie and stroked her feathers between the rusty bars of the cage. As I stroked her, I noticed what a beautiful owl Sylvie was.
"What I'm trying to say is that I really fancy him and that-"
"Ash, a lot of girls fancy the infamous-"
"He's not infamous-"
"Sirius Black. And what happens? He just dumps them like leftovers. He-"
"They weren't his type-"
"Is also too old for you-"
"He's only one year older than me-"
"I got it, okay? It's just that I just can't stop thinking-"
I sighed. "It's like you only have one problem in your life."
"Do not go there. Besides, what do I know about love life, huh? I never even dated one darn bloke in the sixteen years I have walked the face of this planet." I said, as I watched a large, gray owl soar through my window. I untied the letter off its leg and opened it.
Is the introduction too formal? I think it is. I should say 'Hey Amber' or 'Hi Amber' next time. I hope my owl found the right person. Or thing. The first time I tried to send this to you, my owl went into my parents room and stole my mum's amber earrings. Mum wasn't so happy about that. How's your summer going? Mine's okay, I guess. My brother's getting really annoying though. He's starting Hogwarts after this summer and he's been bugging me lately about Hogwarts. You live next to Tere, right? If you do, that'll improve my owl's navigational skills.
P.S. Sorry if my owl keeps pecking at yours. Throw a treat at its head. Don't worry. It won't hate you.
I looked up to see Arwel's owl furiouly pecking Sylvie on the back. Sylvie hooted indignantly and tried to fly out of her cage. I flicked an owl treat at Arwel's owl's head. I winced when it made contact, but the owl just blinked and ceased pecking.
I jumped. I forgot that Ashleigh was right behind me. She was reading the letter over my shoulder the whole time.
"Who said you didn't have a love life?" she asked.
"He's just a friend." I retorted.
"Isn't that what you always say?" Ashleigh said, moving Sylvie's cage.
I sighed. "Have you ever seen me date?"
"You haven't. So I'm still a virgin." I replied, taking out a quill to reply Arwel's letter.
"But you must fancy someone." Ashleigh said innocently.
I felt my cheeks glow pink. I had used to fancy Terence in my first year, but we soon become best friends, so the charm wore off. In third year, I guess I had a teeny weeny crush on Arwel, but I have no idea what happened to it. Now...I don't think of dating blokes that much anymore.
"No. And I'm not letting you date Black."
"Didn't I tell you already?"
"That's not fair."
"Life's not fair."
"But - it's just -"
"What are you going to do about it?"
"I just want to-"
"I don't like to see my sister get hurt-"
"But what about all the others?"
"That's not -"
"I'm not letting you!"
"I - I - don't care! I'm telling Mum!"
Ashleigh stormed out of my room.
"AMBER'S ANNOYING ME!"
I ran out of room to where Ashleigh was on top of the stairs.
"Excuse me? But I believe you were the one bugging me!"
"That's because I wanted to date someone, and you wouldn't let me!"
"Well, that's not my fault because-"
"It's just not right because I can't date who I want!"
"We all want things, Ash, but it doesn't mean we'll get them."
"I just want to date one sodding bloke!" Ashleigh pouted.
"But you always get what you want because you're the youngest!"
We glared at each other and ran down to the kitchen where Mum was.
"AMBER'S NOT LETTING ME DA-ATE!" Amber said in a whiney voice.
Mum put her hands on her hips.
I spoke up. "The infamous Sirius Black."
Mum's eyebrows rose. "Infamous?"
"Amber's exaggerating." Ashleigh crossed her arms.
"No, I'm not."
"AM N -"
Mum looked at me. "Remember? Quiet."
"How is this lad infamous?" Mum asked.
"He's not -"
Mum silenced Ashleigh with a wave of her hand and nodded at me.
"He dates at least one girl a day and dumps them later. Each girl he dumps still cries in the corner of the Divination classroom even though they know it's coming."
And Fedora also wants to date him.
Mum now turned to Ashleigh.
"And why do you want to date him?"
"Because I like him." Ashleigh said sweetly. I rolled my eyes.
And you also have Siriusphobia.
"That's not a very good reason, dear."
I grinned in triumph.
"But - but I never get to date!" Ashleigh's eye's filled with tears.
"Yes, you do. I saw you snogging William Davies today."
Ashleigh turned red. "Oh yeah? Where?"
"In a compartment on the train." I raised my eyebrows at Ashleigh. "Sound familiar?"
"I - I -" Ashleigh spulttered.
Mum put her hands on our shoulders. "I want you both to go up to Amber's room and apologize to eah other, okay?"
We reluctantly nodded and climbed the stairs with Mum at our heels. We opened the door to my room and sat down awkwardly on my bed. Mum closed the door and I heard to doorknob rattling before it became silent.
"Tattletale," I said through my teeth.
"Prat." Ashleigh whispered back.
"GIRLS," said Mum's voice through the door.
We looked at each other and muttered unenthusiasticly, "Sorry."
Ashleigh stood up and walked to the door. She turned the doorknob and pulled, but nothing happened. She tried again. We looked at each other with fearful eyes. If Mum locked us in my room, it would be hours, or maybe days before she would let us out. She would slip food through the cat flap(we used to have a cat, but our dog chased it away). That was the way she solved an arguement after she talked to us.
Why did I even think 'home sweet home'?
A/N: How was this? I hope not too bad. Sorry, sorry, sorry to keep you waiting. I tried to update as soon as possible, but it's almost back to school and I have to get ready and stuff. Argh! Summer's almost over. I hate that. I'm begging you to please review! I thank all of you who reviewed and favorited. Comment, criticize, compliment or whatever you need to say in your reviews! By the way, I need to get a new banner fixed up... I don't know if Brentin is really the full name for Brent, so I just made it up. And if you're confused at the part where there's a loud crack!, that's Amber's dad apparating home. His name's Joseph and Amber's mum is Cathy, if you didn't get it. Amber and Ashleigh acted quite childish in this chapter, don't you think? Especially Ashleigh.
~riddikulus luna =]
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