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Things Haven’t Changed by MischievousMarauder
Chapter 2 : Rescue Plans, Dark Wizards, and....Chocolate?
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 25


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Disclaimer: Gryffindor’s red, Ravenclaw’s blue, I don’t own this, so please don’t sue.

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Stunning image by krazeea @ TDA!
 
 
 

Rescue Plans, Dark Wizards, and….Chocolate?
 


 

“ROSE, WAKE UP!” It was early morning and something really annoying was shaking the shit out of me. “Get uuuuppp! Or I’ll start playing ‘Bicycle Race! I know you hate that song!”

 


“Go away, Xander.” I sleepily batted her away.

 

“I’ll play it!”

 

“No!” I sat up in bed and yawned. “I'll go mental if I hear Freddie screeching 'Bicycle, bicycle!' in the morning. How come you’re up so early?”

“Zelda sent an owl.” Xander’s freckly face turned uncharacteristically serious. “C’mon, I’ll tell you about it.”

I jumped out of bed and taking the stairs two at a time, rushed down to the first landing. Zelda had sent an owl. This couldn’t be good.

 


Xander had gotten permission from her parents to spend the last two weeks of school vacation at my place. Today was August 28th; five days later would be the first day of school. We were finally going to be sixth years. Al and Jag were over at our house, too. Zelda would have been here with us, but her pure-blood parents (honestly, how can anyone call them parents!) had prohibited her from leaving the house to go anywhere they saw was unfit. And as the whole lot of Potters and Weasleys were considered the largest groups of blood-traitors anywhere, Zelda had been unhappily stuck at her parents’ house for the fifth school vacation in a row.

I entered the kitchen first. Mum was leaning against the counter, sipping coffee from a green ceramic mug. The boys were at the table. Al was indecently jamming down a pound of sausage down his throat with a fork, and Jag was relaxing in a high-backed chair with his eyes shut.

“Mum, did Zelda send an owl?” I demanded.

“After breakfast,” Mum pushed me down into the seat next to Jag, while Xander sat in across from me, next to Al. “It’s nothing serious that can’t be handled.”

“Say a-hooowdy to the beautiful cock-a-doodle-doo, ma cousine penible!"

Mentally, I translated this to be: Good morning, my little, annoying cousin!

"Al," I said. "I don't know who the hell's been teaching you French, but will you quit it with the Texan accent? You're bloody English!"

"Are you insulting my French teaching skills?" Jag opened his piercing, Cornish pixie-blue eyes and glared at us. "It took me five days to teach that dick to say 'cousine' not 'cuisine'."

"He's going crazy trying to make me learn French," Al put in, sounding a bit disgruntled. "He says it'll come in handy when I go to his house."

"What?" Xander snorted. "You two getting married?"

 

I laughed, seeing the looks of horror on her faces. “But, Jag, wasn't the apple of your eye a girl named Zelda?"

Jag flicked a grape peeling at my face. "Zelda?" he replied scoffing. "Is Zelda even a girl?"

"I didn't know you were a boy, either." I shot back, feeling defensive for the behalf of my friend.

"He's not," Al grimaced. "Jag's, like, way too feminine. I've been in the same locker room as him for Quidditch."

Jag responded by squeezing a clementine down Al's shirt.

“Mum!” I called over the two sorry, male creatures. “Can I read Zelda’s letter now?”

Mum looked at me, worry showing clearly in her brown eyes. “Very well, then. Have you finished your toast?” I showed her my butter-residue covered, but clean plate.

Mum sighed and flicked her wand; a sheet of paper came zooming from the other room. I caught it with the lightning-sharp reflexes of a Chaser, and scanned it hastily:

 

 


To Rosie, Xander, and the boys (who I know are complete stalkers and can't live without us),

How are you guys? My parents have banned me from using the family owls to contact you, so I’m stuck here without anyone to talk to. The wall isn't an option, Xander. IT’S SO DAMN FRUSTRATING! I wish could use one of Xander’s penguin ninja moves to bash a hole in the wall right now.

I sneaked a pygmy owl into my room and sent this letter. I know my parents will be making inquires, but it is so WORTH IT! I just need to talk to someone!!! I’m sort of thinking of just packing my school things and flying to your house? Good idea? Maybe not. I’m sure your parents won’t appreciate it, my dear redhead. I wish another year would go ahead and pass, and then I can move out of here when I’m seventeen.

And you know what’s worse??? The Malfoys were here last week.
(>_<) Rose, stop trying to puke in the toilet! And Xander, if you’re worrying, I didn’t let such a beautiful opportunity pass. How could I? Oh no, don’t worry, I put tubeworms into Ferret Jr.'s dinner lasagna. Watch 'em squirm, baby!

BUT believe me, all this may sound fun, BUT I’M BLOODY MISERABLE HERE!

Zelda

p.s. I’m expecting a VERY LONG letter full of sympathy and consolation.




I slowly exhaled. Waving the letter in the middle of the table, I said, “Have all of you guys seen this?”

Al and Jag nodded. “She sounds really lonely,” my cousin concluded.

“Well, of course!” Xander said, rolling her eyes. “We need to do something!”

“Like what?”

“Jag, stop sounding so pessimistic—” I started.

“I’m not,” he replied, “Just bloody frustrated. If I could fly a broom over there—”

"Oh, now you're trying to be her knight in shining armor?" Xander snorted. "What is it with you and your bipolar love-life—"

“I’ve got a plan, but it’s not going to work out if you guys act like three year olds,” I said very quietly, staring pointedly at Al and Jag.

“What is it?”

“Later,” I muttered. My mum was listening in on the conversation like a hawk.

 


There was no more talk on the subject. We cleaned up the table, and the morning faded away, leading into the afternoon. I spent almost half the day trying to get Xander hooked on the same tunes I liked, not necessarily Queen’s songs. The effort didn’t quite well work out; Xander was now convinced that ‘Bohemian Polka’ was the awesomest thing on the planet after Quidditch. By early evening, I managed to hustle everyone into the guest bedroom for a powwow. Xander and I sat cross-legged on the bed while Al somehow managed to sit on the bedside table without it collapsing, and Jag jumped up and perched on the metal headrest of the bed.

“I've decided. We are going kidnap Zelda from that awful house,” I said as a way of starting the conversation.

“Would you mind specifying how?”

“Brooms, dear cousin.” I stated matter-of-factly. Yeah, I know, I'm Einstein reborn.

A wide grin appeared on Xander’s face. “Sweet! I can imagine it now: We sneak out in the middle of the night, then fly to her house, and then fly back here as fast as possible without waking the others.”

“That’s what I was thinking of,” I admitted, “But—”

“That’s too risky!” Al yelled. “What if her parents see you?”

 

“Well, then they can go fuck themselves,” I said.

 

“Good plan, Rose,” Jag laughed.

“Should be a charm, then. We fly to her house, wake her up and fly back here. Done.” Xander said. She was for some odd reason crazily bouncing up and down on the mattress.

Way too risky,” Al muttered.

“I don't care, so shut your effin' piehole!”

Al ignored this. “You know you look like a possessed three-year-old, jumping on the mattress, right?”

Xander stuck out her tongue, “I beg your pardon?” She scoffed haughtily, “I don’t take kindly to being called a three-year-o—” Xander leaped spectacularly into the air and performed a back flip, but unfortunately she seemed to have misjudged how far away the edge of the bed was, because…

THUMP!

“You okay, mate?” Jag called over the edge.

“I’m alright…” the weak reply came.

“Right,” said Jag, while Al extended a hand to help Xander. “So, who’s going and when?”

“Er…best time is tomorrow night,” I replied, thinking that since school was going to start five days later, at least Zelda could spend the last days of vacation at our place. “And I’m definitely doing this, any other volunteers?”

“Me! Me! Me!” Xander screeched, bouncing up and down with her hand in the air.

I ignored her, “Jag, what about you?”

Jag mussed his hair up with one hand, causing his bangs to fall over his eyes. He looked extremely uncomfortable. “Er… yeah, I sort of wanted to, but since Xander already volunteered… you girls should do it.”

I gave Jag a long look. He and Zelda were friends one day, enemies the next. They shared many odd similarities like the love of cats, an affinity to chocolate, aversion to their pure-blood heritage, the same twisted humor, and a certain evil psychology in planning successful pranks. And why was he looking so uncomfortable? “Okay, whatever you want.” I said, feigning indifference. “You and Al can stay behind and make sure that everyone stay’s asleep.”

“Are we going to tell Zelda ‘bout the plan?” Xander asked.

 

“Leave it to me!” I said jumping up on the bed. “Meeting dismissed!”

The room cleared out, with Al and Xander loudly reinstating an old argument about whether or not the Holyhead Harpies were better than the Kenmare Kestrels.

I jumped off the bed, grabbing a quill, ink and some parchment. After some careful consideration, I wrote:

Heya Zelda,

Hope you’re hanging in there! I know this letter isn’t long or full of much consolation….it’s even better. OK, first of all, I’ve got to be pretty vague, so 1. Keep your window open tomorrow night. 2. Pack all of your stuff for a quick getaway. 3. Put a Silencing Charm on your room just in case! Please, please, please follow these directions!

See you REAL soon,
Rosie XXX


p.s. Great job on the Malfoys! I wish I could’ve been there to see it!!!



 

Around 24 hours later…

“Jag, you there?” I hissed quietly, sliding into the small scullery off the main kitchen. Jag was perched on top of the washing machine, which was magically wringing out one of Xander’s odd polka-dotted socks in midair.

“Is this what you wanted?” He passed me a small vial of colorless potion labeled ‘EZzzz’s Snoozes’. “It’s the only one I could find without side-affects.”

I took it and looked the label over, “Yes, this seems alright. Where’d you get it?”

“Al got it off of Dung.”

“I haven’t got any faith in this stuff if he got it from Mundungus!” I frowned at the bottle of potion. Giving my whole family a draft of sleeping potion from who-knows-where didn’t seem right at all.

Jag seemed to understand what I was going through. “Okay how about we only give Aunt Hermione the tiniest drop of this.”—he held up the bottle—“I don’t think your dad needs Sleeping Potion, and we can put a Silencing Charm on Hugo’s and your parents’ bedrooms, just in case."

“Fine!” I relented. “But if anything happens to my mother, Mundungus is getting sent to the seventh circle of hell, courtesy of yours truly!"

Jag smirked. “I’ll pass on the message. But don’t worry, this potion’s safe, unlike that last transaction we had back in 4th year…”

“Don’t remind me!” I shuddered, remembering the growths Al had accidentally gotten on his body.



 

 

 

After dinner, we all gathered in the sitting room, with soft, squashy armchairs in front of the fire. Everyone was feeling relaxed and content from eating the great dinner Mum cooked up. Everyone that is, except for me and Xander: We were both sitting stiffly upright side-by-side on a sofa, looking pale despite the rosy orange glow of the fire.

“Are you two feeling okay?” Mum asked. “You girls were looking sick at dinner. Wasn’t my cooking good?”

Xander managed to crack out a smile, “No, Aunt Hermione, it was awesome! You’re the best cook I’ve met! Rosie’s just getting worked up, because the O.W.L. results haven’t arrived, yet. You know how she gets.”

I glared at Xander through the corner of my eyes. Mum didn’t notice, but she fondly patted my cheek, “I was the same at her age; always jumpy and nervous about exam results.”

As Mum moved away, I muttered under my breath, “I’d bet my life you were, Mummy.”

“Does this mean Rosie won’t prepare our drinks, tonight?” Dad called from in front of the fireplace, where he was whopping Hugo at a game of Wizards’ Chess.

I did some very quick thinking. “Sorry, Daddy! Hey Al, d’you think you could fill in my place today?”

Al, who was slumped in an armchair, looked around drowsily through lopsided glasses, “Wha…? Hmm, who want's to play poker?”

Albus."I grinded out pointedly. "The drinks, please?"

My dim-witted cousin finally seemed to get it. “Sure! Hey, Jag you comin’ to help?”

Jag brushed his bangs out of his face, with the same expression Al had in the beginning, “Huh? I prefer blackjack.”

“Never mind!”

As Al left for the kitchen entrance, Jag called behind, “Hey! Wait up for me! I’m a better chef than you are!”

“Don’t forget the coffee and pumpkin juice!” Mum called to their turned backs. She sighed. “Two rowdy boys preparing drinks in the kitchen; something tells me I’ll have to get my wand out again.”

Sure enough, a few minutes later, the loud, unmistakable sound of breaking glass shattered through the minute squeals of the poor knight that was getting bashed up by Hugo’s queen. “We’ll clean it up!” Al’s voice came hurriedly out of the kitchen.

“You mean, you will!” Jag replied loud enough for us to hear.

A few moments later, Al and Jag came out of the kitchen, bearing a large brightly colored platter on each side. Set on it was two mugs and four glasses.

“Earl Grey?” Al called to the assembled, holding up a navy blue mug.

“Here!” Dad volunteered raising a hand, but not taking his eyes off the board.

“Three chilled pumpkin juices?” Jag asked grabbing the glasses off the platter.

“Mine!” Xander said.

“Ditto!” I said too. Man, chilled pumpkin juice tastes so good in the evening after a long day.

“Hurry it up, man!” Hugo called briskly, “Can’t take a second away from the game!”

Jag grimaced and mimed dumping the contents of the glass over Hugo's curly head.

“Then the coffee would be yours, Auntie.” Al finished by handing the last, bright green mug to my mother.

“Hey! Don’t forget my hot chocolate!” Jag yelled, making a mad dash to the platter before Al could stow it back into the kitchen.

The chess match ended up being a draw, with only their kings left to the respective players. Soon after, Hugo finished his pumpkin juice up and headed up to bed. Dad started nodding off in his armchair, and had to be sent upstairs by Mum. Mum didn’t return downstairs, so it was just the four of us sitting by the fireplace.

“Is it dark enough?” Xander asked cautiously in a whisper.

“Yeah,” I said, “we’ll meet in the boys’ room as planned, and then Al, you need to sneak over and check whether my parents are sill awake; better to be safe than sorry.”

We tiptoed up the stairs as quietly as possible, filing one by one onto the third landing where the boys’ room was. On the way, Al stopped at the second landing and silently stole away to check on my parents. “Breathing neutral and snoring softly,” he reported back.

“Good!” I kneeled on the floor and pulled out two, gleaming, mahogany PheonixFyres and windbreakers from under the bunk bed; I had stashed them there only hours ago. I tossed the shinier looking broomstick to Xander.

“Remind me again why we have to depart from the boys’ room?” Xander asked, with her jacket on and broom at hand ready to go.

“Because,” I said slowly, putting my own coat on, “because they have one of the largest windows in the house.”

“And how exactly are we going to get the glass off it?” Jag asked tapping the window pane.

“Try a Severing Charm,” I suggested, “That’ll probably work.”

“If you say so,” Jag responded, pointing his wand at the window, “Diffindo!

There was a sharp, loud sound like a bullet, as the glass flew clean off the window panes, and then smashed right on with the opposite wall.

“Hellcrap!” Jag said now pointing at the clear, deadly shrapnel on the ground, “Reparo! Holy hell was that loud!”

I stared out the open window. We didn’t have neighbors that lived close by, except for the Potters who were about half-mile’s flight from here in the cozy village of Godric’s Hollow. However, though, in the near pitch black darkness, lights from miles and miles away shone clearly, speckling the night sky. I nodded to Xander, and we both mounted our brooms at the same time, and with a fluid stroke, kicked off the ground and up into the cold night sky. I braked for a moment, a considerable distance above the house, and sharply turned to see Al and Jag still madly waving at us from the open window.

“They act like they’re not going to see us again!” Xander said pausing beside me. “Which direction do we go now?”

“North,” I replied. “She lives in a large manor on a hill surrounded by trees.”

We followed our lighted wand tips through the cool night air. The wind was blowing through our direction so we coasted along. It was admittedly very peaceful; just flying along with the breeze.

“I’m f-f-freezing!” Xander called to me, her teeth chattering uncontrollably. She had forgotten to change out of her pajama bottoms.

“Only five miles or so to go!” I said encouragingly, even though it may have sounded unhelpful.

“Noooooo!” Xander’s voice echoed somewhere behind me. “How are we going to know where the manor is in all this darkness anyway?”

“Well,” I replied, thinking back to a conversation Zelda and I had a few years ago, “She mentioned that her parents live right on the outskirts of a small village smack dab in the middle of nowhere.”

I saw Xander peering into the distance. “Would that be it?”

I followed her gaze; in the distance were a small clump of lights which seemed to brilliantly sparkle in the surrounding darkness. “I guess so. C’mon, race you!” I flattened myself over the broom handle and sped away to the blinking, glittering lights. The cold, icy wind rushing against my face was probably the best feeling in the whole world.

I jerked my broom upward, pulling to a sudden stop over the merrily lighted village. By the light of the lampposts, I could see cobbled alleys and Muggle stores below. Xander and I hovered in the shadows, as not to be seen by any of the village folk.

“I see some evergreens over that way.” Xander squinted, pointing. “I think Zel’s house might be just beyond that!”

“Let’s hurry up then,” I said shivering, “The c-cold’s finally getting to me.”

I followed Xander over the monstrously tall trees. She sometimes dipped low, barely skimming the pine needles, but never disappearing completely from view. Barely a few seconds later, the pines abruptly cleared, and we found ourselves looking up a hill, on which was perched a magnificent white old-Victorian style manor. The roofs were slanted, and there were many gables and little windows surrounded with ornate trimming. The lawns were neatly cut, set with meticulously rectangle-cut hedges. In the very middle was a beautiful matching-white fountain. Clearly made out of marble, it shone brilliantly in the moonlight, water coursing graceful arcs, unperturbed of the wind.

“Wow,” Xander said slowly. “I wonder what it look like in the inside.”

“Well, we’re going to find out, right?”

“Yeah, like a couple of cat burglars!” It suddenly hit me that it was Jag who was best suited for the job like this. Not me, not Xander. Jag. He should've been the one to rescue her.

We hovered in the shadows of the manor. I looked for some sign of an open window. “I sent Zel a letter explaining to keep her window open and unlocked—there!” I pointed quickly and spiraled up to a window that was thrown open, with the soft silk curtains billowing around in the wind. “Up here!”

Xander slowly skimmed past the window frame and into the dark room. I hesitantly followed her. What if it isn’t Zel’s room? What if we got the wrong house? What if—

Suddenly, Xander whipped her wand up and hissed, “Lumos Solem!” The whole room was bathed in bright yellow light. The first thing— no more like the first person I saw was none other than our dark-haired friend Zelda Nyx.

Next moment, Xander had screamed, dropped her broom and raced over to our friend, giving her a hug that probably would’ve knocked the wind out of anyone. “Oh —my —good —Gryffindor! Zelda Nyx, it’s really you! God, we haven’t seen you for months!”

“It’s okay, Xander,” I said grinning, also walking over and hugging her. “Let her breathe for a moment!”

“But…how did you guys get here? I mean—”

“Brooms, of course!” I supplied, brandishing my PheonixFyre at her. “Come on and get your stuff, we’re all flying back to my place tonight!”

“Guys,” Zelda said hesitantly. “There’s a bit of a problem. My parents locked my broom, cauldron and books away up in the attic, to stop me from running away.”

There was a short moment of silence.

“Oh,” Xander said. “That sure complicates matters. Doesn’t Alohomora work on the lock?”


“No, they bewitched it so it wouldn’t open.”

I grinned triumphantly, “Don’t worry; I’ll have your stuff out in a second! Just show me where the attic is.”

“Huh?”

“I”—Reaching down to my broom, I unclasped a small pouch from the handle and opened it to show a variety of useful Muggle objects like a scrunchie, a clothes pin, a piece of metal wire, and—“I have a knife that opens all locks of all shapes and sizes. My Uncle George gave it to me on my fifth birthday!”

 

A brilliant grin appeared on her face. “Right this way.”

We followed her out into a long, dark hallway. We were all wearing socks, so our footsteps hardly made any sound other than a quiet muffled thump on the smooth green carpet. We rounded a corner. I had no clue how Zelda knew which way to go. The hallways were bare of any furniture and all had the same old gray diamond-patterned wallpaper. Every corridor looked exactly the same.


We went on for a moment in silence, and then suddenly Zelda held up a hand to us to stop. In front of us was a gray, rickety-looking staircase with spindly metal handrails. It led to a small landing with one door. “Up there, that’s the door to the attic,” she whispered softly, “Careful, the middle stair creaks!”

We went up one by one, I was following Xander. Al of a sudden, a sharp creaking of wood split the silent air like firecracker. Xander had accidentally stepped on the middle stair.

“Xander!” Zelda hissed, quickly hoisting her up to the next step.

“Sorry!” Xander wailed, not bothering to keep her voice down. “I completely forgot!”

The landing was extremely tiny. Other than the door, it was a complete dead-end. “Well Rosie,” Zel said, turning to me, “There. Do what you have to and bust that lock.”

"Gotcha, mate." I kneeled on one knee on the floor and took the knife out of my pocket. Uncle George had deemed that there was no way that he could let me follow the path of my rule-righteous mother, so he decided to corrupt me by giving me the knife at the very tender age of five. Mum had blown a major artery at Uncle George when she found out what he had done. When my mum went to confiscate the knife, I just Gemino-ed it and gave her the fake. Clever, huh? Now, I carefully slipped the cover off the serrated edge and slipped the tip into the keyhole of the rather old fashioned lock. Very slowly, I turned the handle of the knife and I felt the tip mold into the shape of the key. The lock satisfactorily clicked and the door magically creaked open of its own accord.

Bloody,” Zelda said looking astonished, “I’ve tried to pick the lock to the attic for almost eight years! Nothing’s worked!” She pushed the door open farther, to reveal more impenetrable darkness.

A horrible feeling churned in my stomach. “Er...Zel, you mean you’ve never been in the attic before?”

“Er…not really,” she admitted. “What can be so bad about a dumb old attic?"

“Good Gryffindor, here goes nothing then!” Xander tentatively put one foot out and stepped into the darkness. “It’s okay! I mean a load of dust, but no bottomless abyss or anything.” She raised her want and whispered, “Lumos!

Light burst all the way throughout the room. The first thing that came to my eyes was a human skeleton in the corner, sitting in a chair. It was wearing a royal purple cape and holding a scepter in its white bony hand. It was missing its head.

Xander and I screamed, stumbling back. Zelda gasped sharply, looking horrified. “D-did my parents do that?”

“It’s okay, don’t look at it.” I shuddered and averted my eyes to the floor. “Listen, mate, I think you need to move in with me or Xander.”

Zelda looked at me, and then at Xander, whose face was still deathly white. “I g-guess I’ll have to,” she whispered in a faint voice. “But wait, let me get my things.” She tore her eyes away from the skeleton and then composing herself, pointed her wand generally about the room. “Accio school stuff!

There was a crackle and a cauldron, some books and a shiny black broom with ivory colored twigs came flying toward us from behind an enormous dusty old chest and a couple of jeweled potion flasks. The items landed with a muffled thud at Xander’s feet. She tossed the broom to Zelda and stacked all the books in the cauldron, saying, “Locomoter Cauldron! C’mon you guys, enough of this! Nobody belongs here!”

She started off, the cauldron drifting in front of her, with me and Zelda following behind. All of a sudden, Xander stopped a little ways from the doorway and looked up. Zelda and I slowly followed her gaze. Fixed over the threshold, over the head of the door was a wooden plaque. And nailed to the wooden plaque was a skull still wearing a crown. It seemed like we had found out what’d happened to Old Skele’s head.

Xander made a noise half-way between a scream and a squeal of disgust. I flat-out shrieked and Zelda gasped louder than ever. The skull’s hollow eyes seemed to stare sinisterly down at us. In a quick motion, its bony jaw moved and the skull whispered maliciously, “I see you.”

The fuck?” Zelda screamed and I couldn’t agree more. We bolted through the threshold and out the door. Zelda kept her wand aloft, directing the cauldron full of books after us. We only stopped when we reached her room and slammed the door shut. We collapsed on the bed, panting.

“What the bloody effin' hell was that?” Xander managed to gasp out, her face completely bloodless.

“Your parents are Dark Wizards,” I said quietly to Zelda. “There’s no other explanation!”

“Then I’m leaving!” she burst. “I’ve bloody well had enough of this! I won’t live in a house where there are skeletons in the attic! I won’t live with people who banish me twenty four seven!” Zelda looked at me, breathing hard, “Rosie, can I please—”

“—can you camp out at my place for the holidays and the school vacations?” I finished the sentence. “For as long as you want!”

“Yeah! Same here!” said Xander. “We’re here whenever you need us!

“Thanks guys,” said Zel warmly, smiling.

“Hey, what are friends for?” said Xander. Simultaneously, we hugged.

“Okay,” said Zelda, “I’ve got to pack quickly!”

She waved her wand and all of the posters of kittens and whatnot came soaring off the walls. One by one, Zel tapped them and they rolled into neat little scrolls. She stuffed them into her blue rucksack, which was already almost full with chocolate. “Undetectable Extension Charm,” she said, answering Xander and my confused looks. Then she proceeded to squeeze her cauldron and all the books into her bag too, as well as other personal items from the room. “I’m ready!” she announced, securely slinging the rucksack so it rested at her side. “Get your brooms!”

Without another word, Zelda nimbly leaped on the windowsill, mounted her broom and kicked off through the open window. Within moments we copied her, jumping out the window, with the brooms supporting us. For a moment we were falling as dead weight, but then, the brooms activated and we were soaring with the breeze into the night sky.

Zel was ahead of us, cutting through the night like a bullet. She often looped, making wide arcs in the air, yelling random things like, “I love life!” “I haven’t been on my broom for ages!” and “Chocolate kicks aaasssss!” Xander and I grinned at each other.

The flight back took hardly any time. Soon, when we were getting close to Godric’s Hollow, I took the lead, showing my friends the easiest course to get back to my house. Finally, I braked my broom and hovered forty feet over my house, signaling them to do the same.

Zelda shrugged some of her black hair out of her eyes as she jerked her broom upward in a stop. She took a bird’s eye view of my modern British home. “That’s your house, Rosie? It's lovely!”

“Thanks,” I said smiling. “We have to get in through the large open window in the side— d’you see it, Zel?” She nodded. “Good. The boys will probably be waiting for us there, unless they’re downstairs raiding the kitchen for a midnight snack. And make sure you make absolutely no noise! Jag slipped my mum a Sleeping Potion, but my brother and dad might still hear you.”

One by one we spiraled down and entered through the window head-first on our brooms. I softly touched down on the floor. Xander made a louder entrance, half bumping into the wall, because she couldn’t brake in time. But Zelda zipped in, as silent as an owl and looped once in the air before gracefully touching down on the floor. She really was a natural at flying.

Zelda looked around, “Where’re Jag and Al?”

I pointed at the bunk bed, smirking, “They’ve fallen asleep!”

“God, no!” Xander said, exasperatedly slapping herself on the head. She poked a sleeping Al, who was hardly visible between the blankets in the first bunk. “Al!” Another poke. “ALBUS POTTER! GETTUP! WE’RE BACK!” Al’s form stirred a little but he didn’t show any other signs of life. “It’s useless! Zel, you try with Jag!”

Zelda shrugged, but climbed the ladder up to the second bunk. Staying on the ladder, she poked Jag’s shoulder. “Jag! Get up, you useless lump!” She tried shaking him, but even that didn’t work. Jag just shifted a little so that his long shaggy black hair now covered his whole face.

“Wow,” I commented drily. “They're pathetic."

Suddenly, a mischievous smile began to spread on Zel’s face. She leaned in closer and whispered, “Hey, Jag, I’ve got chocolate—”

Suddenly, he sat up bolt upright and yelled, “Who’s got chocolate? Gimme!” He looked around fervently and immediately saw Zelda grinning at him. "Yeerks! The Shadow Queen's back!"

And he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her.

 

“Awwww,” Xander said dreamily, watching them. Zelda started to redden and began to claw at his arms.

“— ow, leggo, you perv—”

“And permanently, too,” I added, “She’s staying with us!”

“What took you so long?” Jag asked indignantly. “Al and I fell asleep!”

“We noticed,” I said exasperatedly.

Jag swung off the top bunk and to the floor, while Zel leaped off the ladder and landed on the floor with the grace of a cat.

“We men tend to do that often,” said Jag. “Watch this.” He leaned in close to Al and whispered in a perfect falsetto, “'It’s Lynette and I'm here to take you hooome, Ally—'”

“AHHHHHH! JAG, HIDE MEEEEE!” yelled Al. He sat bolt upright and promptly bonked himself on the head with the metal underside of the bunk bed. “Fuck!” That’s when he caught sight of us laughing our heads off. “Guys, you’re back! Zel, you made it here okay!” He looked at Jag. “What in the name of Merlin's sweet 'n dirty boxers was that for?”

Youshould’veseenthelookonyourface! Jag said in between short bursts of chortles.

Al kicked him hard on the butt. “You son of bitch!”

“I'm flattered,” Jag said, half-yawning.

“What we need is some food,” Xander said brightly. “Let’s go downstairs and raid Rosie’s pantry!”

“Hey!” I indignantly protested with my arms crossed.

“Excellent idea!” Al said, bouncing up. “I claim the leftover treacle tart!”

“Guys, no,” I said, rather half-heartedly. “If my dad hears us—”

“Then we’re goners,” Xander said airily waving a hand. “But don’t worry, Uncle Ron’s a deep sleeper, like these two.” She pointed at Al and Jag.

Everyone except me seemed to agree with Xander, so reluctantly I followed after them to the ground floor, tiptoeing carefully the whole way. It’s not that I minded them raiding my pantry; it was the fear of getting caught by my parents. I wouldn't have enough guts to face my mum in the dark.

Zelda was looking around the house with an expression of delight. “It’s all so normal! I mean, it’s clear you guys are a real family,” she said motioning to the scrubbed counter in the kitchen. “Unlike us…”

“Don’t worry.” I went over and slung an arm around her shoulders. “You’re staying with us! You’re a part of all it now, right?”

She nodded, but still looked unsure

It took a while to sort out our ‘snacks’. Al and Jag both seemed to think that they were each having a second dinner, instead of a small midnight bite. Al loaded a whole plate up with chips and an enormous sandwich, stuffed with random bits of food like olives, turkey and salsa. Not to mention, he grabbed the whole dish of treacle tart as dessert. Jag, on the other hand, took the entire leftover fried salmon fillet (with chocolate dip, seriously?) and got himself a triple-decker chock of ice-cream with so much chocolate fondue on top that hardly any of the white of the vanilla or the green mint was visible. They set all this on two small trays and sat on the counter, ready to dig in.

“All this is on Rosie, our savior!” Al preached, looking up to the ceiling.

“Amen!” Jag said mock-solemnly. Then they dug in. In less than a second, food was flying everywhere.

“Bloody hell, are they gluttons or what?” Zelda said, astonished and slightly disgusted as she watched half of the sandwich disappear into Al's mouth with one bite.

“You just noticed that?” I asked grimly.

“I don’t feel like eating anymore!” Xander said groaning.

“Come off it!” I said, “Let’s just get some crackers, go upstairs and leave these two to do their thing!”

I scavenged up some biscuits with peanut butter, and some cold pumpkin juice for me and Xander. Zelda made herself some hot chocolate, while carefully guided by Xander on how to use a Muggle microwave. To the delight of Granddad Weasley, Mum had demanded that there be at least a few Muggle appliances in the kitchen; that’s how I know how to use the stove, oven, and toaster.

“Hey, guys! Let’s go to that room,” I said pointing through an archway to the sitting room, “It’ll be warmer. The fire’s still sort of on!”

Groaning and grumbling, the boys followed us; Al with nothing but his last piece of treacle tart speared with a fork and Jag, who was licking his ice-cream reminiscent of a cat.The sitting room was extremely dark, as the fire was half-dead already, with a few flickering embers that cast nightmarishly distorted shadows across the room.

“That reminds me,” Jag said, turning to Zel and me. “Why were you guys so delayed?”

“Yeah, you took over four hours to get back!” Al added, his eyebrows arched over his glasses.

I half-glanced at Zelda. “We sort of —”

“I see,” a severely voice said from in front of the fireplace. A dark shadow which I hadn’t noticed before, rose suddenly from one of the armchairs. Long strings of profanity ran through my mind. It was Mum.

She glared at me, “Rose Nymphadora Weasley. Where have you been?!"

I gulped. If looks can kill, I'm already pushin' up the daisies.


Didn’t I say coming downstairs had been a bad idea?


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