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Nature's Bounty by tiberiusirius
Chapter 14 : Summer in Sight
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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Things since the night of the February full moon had really changed things for Ryu. All of her friends began to think something was going on between her and Sirius considering word got out she had slept in his bed that night. She always assured them nothing was different, but her words were lies. Something between her and Sirius had changed. She felt attached to Sirius in a different way than the others. That night when she thought he might die, the reality of how much he truly meant to her really sunk in. The image of him laying so vulnerable and beaten, so close to death, wouldn't leave her mind and she clung to him as a way of convincing herself that he wasn't going anywhere.

 

Things changed between her and Remus as well. He couldn't seem to look her directly in the eye after he learned what had happened that night. He was so ashamed of what he was she couldn't stand it. She continually assured him that her opinion hadn't changed and that knowing what he went through each month only enhanced and validated her thoughts on his strength. She had never realized what the poor boy had to go through, and since that unforgettable full moon, she had accompanied the Marauders to the Shack in hopes of relieving her friends pain.

 

When he transformed, she would lay her hands on him and draw the twisted magic that caused his transformation into her own body. Then she would expel it from herself as rapidly as possible only to disintegrate it with her own magic. It was this procedure that created a mini sonic boom. Sure, it would also cause her to lose the contents of her stomach due to the presence such corrupt evil entering her body, but his grateful smiles always warmed her heart. She could take the vomiting and passing out, but what she couldn't take was Remus feeling indebted towards her. Telling him this never seemed to erase those feelings though, she only hoped in time things would return to how they had been.


Her friendships weren’t the only things that had changed. School was different for her as well. Her sorting had naturally been a catastrophe. It wasn't something she would forget easily. Even now, months later, she could remember it vividly.

 

Everyone in the school who hadn't heard about the little scuffle between Ryu, Dumbledore, the Hufflepuff's, and the Gryffindor's were quite surprised to see the stool and Sorting Hat at breakfast that February morning. Ryu herself had forgotten about it amongst the previous night’s confusion. That is, until she walked into the Great Hall the next morning to find Dumbledore waiting expectantly by the stool.

 

She briefly thought about booking it back up to the Common Room, but she knew that there was no avoiding it.  With slumped shoulders, she had approached the stool and took a seat as Dumbledore explained to the school what was taking place.

 

He effortlessly projected his voice with an inherit authority that quieted everyone. “Ryu East has been accommodated due to her prior circumstances, and the circumstances surrounding her entry into the Wizarding world, to the point that many believe she is receiving preferential treatment. Being sorted into one of the four houses at Hogwarts has been a tradition since the beginnings of this honored institution, and although some things can be worked around, this is a tradition that must be upheld. The sorting should've transpired at the time when she was integrated into lessons, and had acclimated to the standards of attending this school as a sixth year student. However, that did not occur and so must happen today. She, like the rest of you, must be placed where it is found she will excel the most, and for that we turn to the Sorting Hat.”

 
Picturing what happened next in her mind, still made her winced if she thought about it.

 

The hat had been in Dumbledore's hand and, as he reached up to place it on her head, it began protesting wildly. “This cannot happen! You don’t understand!” It pleaded, trying to explain. “Her mind is closed off to me! I mustn't be expected to do this!” The hat was physically struggling to wrestle free of Dumbledore's grip to the point where Dumbledore had to use both hands to attempt to lower the objecting piece of head-wear onto her head. “She is of everything! She will excel wherever you place her! This mustn't happen! She can't be sorted!” It was becoming frantic and its screeching had reached an almost unbearable volume. “She can't be categorized! She is not normal! I am not capable! You can’t make me do this!”

 

How could she ever forget that a hat didn't want to come near her? It was acting as if she had the plague or something!

 

The embarrassment she felt had her slumping her shoulders and holding her red face in her hands. Peeking through her fingers only revealed what she hoped it would not—the gape mouthed looks everyone was directing towards her as they held back laughter. She guessed it really had been quite funny to see Dumbledore quarreling with the normally cooperative hat as he tried to place it on her head, yet at the time it had been mortifying.

 

First animals were out to cause her social destruction, and now she could add bloody talking inanimate objects to the list!

 

Damn hat just had to cause a bloody scene that would haunt her the rest of her life!

 

For real! Everyone knew she wasn't normal, but did the hat really think it necessary to announce said feelings in front of the entire student body? Besides, what the hell had it been talking about with that 'she is of everything' nonsense it had been spewing? Hell if she knew! Bloody hat and its bloody incoherent ramblings!

 

She had been so anxious to get the whole sorting over that she did the only thing she could somewhat justify as appropriate in such a situation. She pulled the struggling hat out of Dumbledore's grip and down around her head roughly. Since it wasn't speaking into her mind like she had been told it would, she spoke to it in a disgruntled whisper. “I get it you, can't sort me, but so help me Merlin if you don't yell Gryffindor and get this over with right now I'll—“

 

“Gryffindor!!!!” She remembered the hat shrieking in absolute terror before she could properly threaten it. Apparently it hadn't been necessary, it was already terrified.

 

When Dumbledore had removed the hat off of her head it had visibly relaxed. Everyone in the hall, even Dumbledore and the other professors, seemed awestruck at what had just unfolded.

 

But from somewhere near the end of the Gryffindor table she could remember hearing her friends whooping and hollering, creating a small applause for her as she made her way over to them. It definitely wasn't the greeting that most first years experienced when they got sorted, but it was all Ryu needed. Besides, nothing since she had arrived at Hogwarts had ever gone as planned for her, but it did always seem to work itself out.

 

The hat was afraid to sort her...so she just 'convinced' it to sort her into Gryffindor. See, everything worked out.

 

Since the sorting and the full moon, there had been considerably less social disaster surrounding Ryu. She chalked it up to the use of preventative measures with her new knowledge of magic, but she didn't pretend that it made her understand and prevent everything. There had of course been a few minor scuffles. One or two with Kettleburn, a couple run-ins with House Elves, not to mention the Cornish Pixies. No one would ever forget the Cornish Pixies.

 James and Sirius, in a lapse of judgment, had decided that charming the Cornish Pixie cages to open during fifth year Slytherin’s Care of Magical Creatures lesson would be funny. They hadn't counted on the entire school being terrorized for the four hours following the prank. What ensued was chaos. No one was ostracized from the torturous creatures...well maybe in an odd way you could argue they left Ryu alone.

The little devils didn't seem to mess with her in the same way they did everyone else. They seemed to exalt her, but that didn’t mean they listened to her pleading commands to be let down from being carried around the school like some sort of Queen. Still, considering what they did to other people (hold them in the air by a pant leg until their pants came off and they fell to the ground in an often bone breaking heap) she guessed she got the better fate.

 

Damn were those things evil. It was as if miniature mischievous blue devil versions of James had bred with a Roadrunner and the atrocious outcome was Cornish Pixies. She didn't think that any kind of magic that she possessed—or that was in existence for that matter—could be used to understand and control Cornish Pixies!

 

Regardless, her newfound abilities pertaining to Magic did help her excel in lessons. She was doing so well in everything that it got to the point professors were looking for ways to prove she was cheating. She wasn't cheating. She had just gained a measurable amount of control and enlightenment about the way she was able to operate magic.

 

Using magic to create a picture and then probing with it to see how things work, how they are intertwined, and how they are created, was a great advantage, and an advantage she had come to realize only on the night she thought Sirius was going to die. Utilizing her method of probing, which she first used on the vault before discovering its usefulness on Sirius, was now being applied in lessons. It left her with a miraculously well rounded understanding of how spells work, how one goes about transfiguring the magic of one object into that of another, and why the ingredients of a potion must be added in just the right order for the magic associated with them to co-mingle correctly and create the desired effect. She even found herself randomly recalling information in History of Magic, from somewhere unknown to her in her mind, about historic events. Hell, Arithmacy and Ancient Ruins were coming naturally to her now! It was as if she discovered a fluent ability to distinguish symbols, numbers, and their significance. The only thing she couldn't wrap her mind around was Divination, and truthfully no one else really could either...except maybe Peter. For some reason it was the boy’s favorite subject, and he was good at it.

 

Regardless, the past three months had been rather pleasing and as normal as they could be. She was no longer worried and stressing about school.

 

Now that it was May, it was fast approaching ending of the school year and her upcoming audience with the Wizengamot. These were her new concerns and the things that were beginning to cause her worry.

 

She knew certain members of the Wizengamot were going to scrutinize everything she had accomplished and try to maintain she was unsuited for Hogwarts. But she knew her abilities would speak for themselves.

 

Dumbledore had taken to teaching her advanced Magic’s and with it she had expanded on his techniques to come up with a few of her own. The lessons had now become a relationship where they taught each other and discussed new possible means of Spell casting while arguing about the effectiveness of one technique versus another. Participating in such practice and discussion increased her understanding of Magic and its manipulation more than any other one thing at Hogwarts. She was on a level with Dumbledore himself and looking to pass him up any day.

 

The Wizengamot didn't stand a chance of banning her. The whole Wizarding world needed her.

 

What was really causing her the most worry was what to do with the time she was going to have to spend away from Hogwarts. Summer vacation was barely three weeks away and she didn't know where she was going to go.

 

Dumbledore had spoken with her about possibly buying property for herself, and she was starting to like that line of thinking. They had discussed a need for security, naturally, and since then had been working on Warding Charms, Surveillance Charms, and Protective Spells, as well as ways they could manipulate such Magic to help with higher level security. Ryu had mentioned her want to look to the ever changing and warped halls of Gringotts as inspiration and guidance on such a project, and Dumbledore sounded his agreement. Now all she needed was to find a house to practice her theoretical Wards on. Dumbledore had made arrangements for her to meet with a Real Estate agent at the next Hogsmeade visit, which was, coincidentally, today.

 

She had spent the majority of the day goofing around with her friends and going around to all the shops, but now they settled themselves at the Three Broomsticks with a couple rounds of Butterbeers to wait for Ryu's Agent.  He showed up shortly after the fifth round and was quite shocked to see his meeting would take place with twelve sixth years, but he acclimated quickly being only a few years older than the group.

 

His name was Sid Fairday, a former Ravenclaw and current member of the Order. He was a charming twenty-one year old average looking fellow. His hair was a dusty blonde mop framing muddy green eyes and a strong face. He was only about an inch taller than Ryu, and he really didn't seem the business type other than his suit and briefcase. Yet once they got down to business, it was obvious he had been a Ravenclaw and knew what he was on about.

 

“So I know we haven't had the pleasure of meeting before, and that not being able to walk through a property that you're potentially going to buy can be off putting, but based on the list of prerequisites Dumbledore gave me I think you're going to be happy with the options I have found...but maybe not about their list price. I was only able to come up with four options that met your expansive criteria and they are all large estates.” He looked at Ryu dubiously

Ryu smiled knowing Sid was wondering how a sixth year had enough money to buy an estate. “I recently received a large inheritance…rest assured money is not an issue.” She explained.

 He looked placated and nodded. “The first is Frick Manor. It has, as you specified, two residential buildings on the property far enough away from each other that they would seem like separate properties.”  He handed her a piece of parchment showing the estate and its specs. “The main house has ten expansive bedrooms, twenty two and a half bathrooms, a large ballroom, a parlor, drawing room, living room, formal and informal dining rooms, authentic Scottish style bar area, a kitchen with all the bells and whistles, and a six car attached garage. The grounds include one hundred and twenty acres an in-ground pool, and the second building is situated just on the edge of a small lake. The building is a cozy five bedroom six bathroom little hideaway. Both houses are in the classic Tudor style and the whole property is selling for seven point two million. What do you think?”

 

Ryu was staring at the specs as the pictures scrolled through a tour of the property. “I think I've never seen a bigger property in my life! Never thought I’d be living in anything other than a crummy little flat! This is a lot of land to upkeep, and I wouldn’t really know how to go about it. What do you guys think?” She asked her friends.

 

“It's stunning.” said Lily “But that's quite a large house for just you Ryu.”

 

“True. But what about you guys? You’re all going to need rooms. There are twelve of us and the house only has ten bedrooms. Besides what the hell am I going to do with a ballroom?” Said Ryu.

 

“It’s not like we can’t share rooms Ryu. We share a dorm and haven’t murdered each other yet…Where is this located?” asked Rebecca holding up the specs sheet and looking to Sid.

 

“Just outside of Brighton.” Sid answered and everyone seemed to collectively nod their heads happily.

 

“At this point just consider it as an option. It’s the first we've seen.” voiced Remus. “You should definitely look at the other options.”

 

Ryu turned to Sid. “I agree with Remus let’s see what else we got.”

 

Sid shuffled through some papers and handed them a second specs sheet while listing off the properties amenities. “The land is a lot smaller on this one but the price isn't that much reduced because it is located just outside of London where property values are higher. It has two buildings on its lot which consists of just under fifty acres. The main building exceeds your bedroom requirement at fourteen, and it has twenty-one and a half bathrooms. It also has an indoor pool which is the only pool on the property, a movie theater, a full size gymnasium, standard kitchen as well as outdoor kitchen area, and a large manicured garden. The secondary house is only three bedrooms and five bathrooms, but it is quite charming and has been newly renovated. The whole property will cost you five point six million and house elves are included in the list price.”

 

“Oooo I like this one way better than the first! Less formal, more us!” said a giddy Dina

 

“I'd have to agree.” Piped up Amos as all of the others nodded their heads as well. “Seems much more suited to the younger crowd than the last one. I really like the stone.”

 

“And it's cheaper” added Jason.

 

“So we can definitely rule out the first one now?” Ryu asked her friends.

 

“Ummm I wouldn't do that just yet.” Started Lily. “The other property has the most potential in regards to resale and return on investment considering it had more than twice the acreage and a little over seventeen hundred more square feet for only one point six million more.”

 

“Lily, if I were trying to save money and were worried about how I was going to invest, I would totally see what you mean. But, that’s just not the case…Not saying the last house wasn’t gorgeous though.” She countered.

 

“So that means this is still our number one and we can disregard the first?” asked Sid.

 

“I think so.” Ryu addressed him with a nod.

 

“This next property I just had to include because it meets all but one of your requirements and is in a very hip building. It is the penthouse at a new Wizarding apartment building that is being built in downtown London. It is a contemporary building in design, and perfect for the younger crowd and in a trendy part of the city. It is the only unit left in the building, and it is the most expensive of the four I'm showing you today with a list price of nine million, but it’s extremely well worth it.” Sid handed Ryu the specs and she heard all her friends 'ooooooo' at the pictures as they crowded around her. “The only criterion that it doesn’t meet is it doesn't have two buildings.”

 

Ryu handed the paper back to Sid before he could continue. “Rule that one out too.”

 

Her friends started an uproar.

 

“That place was bloody fantastic!” Cried Leeham “Did you see the picture of the pool with the window in it? What do you mean rule it out!”

 

“What are you thinking?” James said aghast. “Its the best we've seen so far.”

 

“What the hell do you need two houses for anyways?” Exclaimed Peter.

 

“Can't you imagine how much fun we'll have in downtown London?” Asked Dina seeming affronted.

 

Ryu finally had to hold her hand up to get them all to let her speak. “The only reason I even considered putting up the money for properties like these is so I could find something with two buildings on one lot. I don't need all this space for myself and I'm letting you guys help because I'm hoping you'll visit more often if you have a say. I want two buildings so I can ask Mrs. Meadowes to live in the guest house so Alton can see her more often and they'll both be safe. I'm going to ward the shit out of the place and plan on making the estate more secure than even Hogwarts. She shouldn't have to be on the run from Death Eaters. I intend to give her, and anyone else in the Order, the means to protect themselves if it becomes necessary. Now, does the last option you’ve brought to show me have at least two buildings on the property Mr. Fairday?”

 

Sid looked stunned by her little speech but she gleaned that she earned a measure of respect from him because of it. “The last property is actually its own compound and has four buildings on ninety acres. I saved it for last because I thought it had the younger appeal but still everything you wanted. The list price is just under nine million and it's located here in Scotland.” He handed them the specs sheet. “The main house is secluded from the other three and is on the west side of the property, the others are clustered together on the east side. The main house has seventeen bedrooms, twenty-five bathrooms, formal and informal living rooms, an expansive library, a study, a high quality kitchen, large great room and a wonderful two-story patio which is set into a hill overlooking the properties private Quidditch pitch. The pool is just off to the right of the pitch and has a grotto with a hot tub, as well as dual water slides and a rope swing. The houses on the other side of the property are a bit smaller and were designed as housing for servants and as such are a bit outdated. They are all three-bedroom three bath ranch-style homes. The entire property is gated but you will never see the gate from anywhere. The lawns and landscaping are well designed to prevent it.”

 

“Well you had me sold until you said the three additional houses were outdated. But now that I think about the second house it also has the pool, plus the movie theater, and an indoor gym. This one only has a pool, but it does have water-slides.” Ryu sighed confused as to which of the two she preferred more.

 

“But this last one has a Quidditch Pitch!” Whined Jason and James pretty much in unison.

 

Sid shrugged trying to offer his impartial opinion. “Renovating the secondary buildings on the property is always a possibility.” He interjected sensibly

 

“Yes but what sense is there in paying nine million Galleons if I have to do more work once I purchase it?” Asked Ryu

 

“Nine million is quite a lot of money.” said Lily. “Do you really need all the bells and whistles that come with this price tag?”

 

Sonny pushed Lily out of Ryu's view “Don't listen to Lils, Ryu. This is a compound we're talking about. Think of how safe it will be once you and Dumbledore get a hold of it.”

 

Ryu narrowed her eyes at her friend. “This wouldn't have anything to do with it having a Quidditch pitch does it? ‘Cause I couldn't care less about a ruddy pitch.” She was still salty about all the grief being good flyer had caused her

 

Unsurprisingly, all the members of the Quidditch team looked slighted that she would even think they could be so selfish in a situation such as this, and they voiced their indignation loudly. It was Remus who called them out.

 

He rolled his eyes at them all. “Of course its about the pitch, but this is about what you want, Ryu.” Said Remus above the din of all of his friends. “This is the biggest, most important financial decision you will make your whole life, so really think about it.”

 

Everyone remained silent after Remus finished speaking, but they were all looking at Ryu who seemed to be thinking rather hard about it all. When she finally spoke she was looking to Sid. “Listen it’s getting late and we have to be back at Hogwarts rather soon. I don't think I'm going to be able to make a decision tonight. I'm going to have to think it over and give you my decision later this week by Owl. Is that okay?”

 

Sid smiled “Of course it’s okay. It’s in your best interest to take your time with this decision. Just keep in mind that when you do choose a property we have to go through a lot of contracts. You wanted to move-in in three weeks time but you need to give the seller time to move out too. Still, take your time. I don't want you experiencing any buyer’s remorse. I'll be hoping to hear from you sometime this week.” He politely shook all twelve hands. “It was a pleasure meeting you all, I'm sure I'll see you lot again.”

 

The entire walk back to school was a debate over houses. She thought from the way the meeting went, they were all on a similar page and had narrowed it down to two choices, the second and last options, but her friends were all over the map in opinions.

 

Lily and Remus agreed that the first property had the most bang for buck. Lily was also of the opinion that it held “lovely old English charm” and that its location in Brighton mustn’t be forgotten because it was such a splendid bonus!

 

Rebecca and Peter seemed to like the second house the most stating that it was a fair-priced, cozy, well designed house with great amenities which was in close proximity to London, and she couldn't disagree there.

 

Dina and Leeham, on the other hand, had their heart set on the one place that Ryu knew wasn't an option. All their arguments that, ‘everyone needs to have a pool with a window in it!' and ‘how cool would it be to own a penthouse in London with a waterfall?' and 'Harold Flicky of Flicky and the Red Barons would be your neighbor!' fell on deaf ears.

 

 There was also, of course, all her Quidditch playing friends who could talk about nothing but the Quidditch compound. They had the overwhelming majority opinion because of their numbers and thought that due to this, Ryu would have to go with their decision. Quidditch players! Who else would honestly think like that?

 

Ryu was so tired of the discussion by the time they had reached the Common Room that she went straight to bed to avoid what certainly looked to be a night full of more of it. Everyone else went up to the boy’s dorm to do just that.

 

Jason was pacing in front of the bathroom door. “She has to pick the compound, she just has to. We could have a proper game every day between all of us if we just get Young, Watts, or my brothers to join in, which I'm sure they'll do just to see the property.”

 

“Jason you shouldn't get your hopes up.” Said Lily from where she was sitting on Amos's bed. “She's clearly not going to pick the compound. She hates Quidditch! Why does she need a pitch?”

 

“Nah” Said James in disagreement. “She just needs some convincing.”

 

“Pft!” Sputtered Remus. “You really think you're going to be able to convince her to buy a house with a pitch just for you?” He asked incredulous.

 

“Of course!” Said James. “Think about it, Ryu wanted our input, most of us want the compound, she's bound to pick it! In fact, I'd be willing to bet on it.”




Dina snorted. “James you’re stupider than I thought!”




 Leeham, on the other hand, jumped at the opportunity for a gamble “Agreed Dina. But hey James, if you’re still willing to take the bet I’m soooo in. Betting that Ryu won't buy the compound is a sure thing. What are the stakes?”

 

“Anyone else want in on this before we decide terms?” Asked James looking around at all his friends

 

Everyone wanted a piece of the action except Peter. It was Remus, Leeham, Lily, Dina, and Rebecca vs. most of the Gryffindor Quidditch side; James, Jason, Sirius, Amos, and Sonny. Even teams.

 

“So anyone got any idea about terms?” piped up Dina.

 

James rubbed his hands together. “Well, I know what we want...If we win the bet, and Ryu buys the compound, we get a daily Quidditch game and you all have to play.”

 

“Daily is pushing it Potter!” Cried an outraged Lily. “Bi-weekly and maybe we'll consider it!”

 

“Deal!” said James happy that they even let those terms fly. “But you also have to help us convince Ryu to play in those games...that's part of the bet. Now, what do you guys want?”

 

Lily glowered at the last little conditional clause he added, but she conceded. “Alright, but we want a signed document assuring that if you don't win the Quidditch cup this year, you all have to publically hit on a person of our choosing while completely naked.”




 The whole Quidditch team looked shocked. Nobody knew what to say until James, looking love-struck while staring at Lily, blurted out. “And this is why I’m in love with you! You never cease to surprise me. Hell of a prank idea—didn’t think you had it in you.”




Sonny on the other hand was seething, her eyes were bulging out of her head. “That's just malicious! I mean c'mon! We're just having you guys play Quidditch if we win!”

 
Dina smiled slyly. “It’s a conditional thing Son! I mean, even if you do lose the bet, which I'm assuming you stupidly think isn't going to happen, you have to lose the Quidditch cup as well before you have to get starkers and hit on Davies in public! On the other hand, under your terms we will receive immediate and repeated punishment by being forced to play all summer.”

 

 
Sonny's mouth was agape and she looked about to have an explosion when Sirius stepped forward.






“Alright, we obviously need to negotiate,” He proclaimed with his game face on, “We'll call it a deal and agree to cutting back the number of games to one a week as long as you all play the first game of the summer naked.”

 

“You can't change your terms, you already decided!” Objected Lily fiercely.

 

Her objections seemed less valid as Leeham piped up. “Hell if I care that you changed your terms. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for me. Get to see you guys embarrassed, or get to see my hot friends naked on brooms. Actually…the latter sounds more agreeable. I agree to the new terms.”

 

Lily and Rebecca looked as if they were ready to pummel their red-headed friend as shook hands with the other team to say it was settled.

 

“You can't speak on behalf of the whole team!” Cried an appalled Rebecca.

 

Remus, secretly enjoying the prospect of potentially getting to see Rebecca without any clothes was possessed to say. “Well actually Rebecca, he did shake on it so a deal is struck…I guess those are the terms.”

 

Lily, wide eyed that Remus of all people would agree, immediately stomped out of the room, unhappy with the outcome. Rebecca was quick to follow her. Even so, it did seem as if they had surrendered to the terms rather easily.

 

~~~~~~~~

 

Ryu didn't understand why everyone was being so nice those next three days. It was like she couldn't get away from them. Someone was always around her, and for some reason the subject of conversation would usually wind up being what house she was leaning towards.

 

Everyone was trying to steer normal conversation towards her housing choices. It was amazing the correlations they could come up with.

 

Dina, having a one-track mind only for boys, had taken to describing all the attractive ones by saying things like, “Those really tight pants shows off his arse. Makes him look sleek…kind of like the penthouse Apartment in London, don't you think Ryu?”

 

Jason tried relating food. The would try things like, “Isn't this breakfast so good? Stuffing my face kind of makes me want to go burn up all those calories on my own private Quidditch Pitch.”

 

But her favorite attempt, by far, had to have been Leeham's.

 

Ryu hadn't been paying attention to Leeham as he began throwing things carelessly into their cauldron in Potions. So when the blu-black goop unexpectedly exploded all over the both of them, and he just stood by and said, “Ya know Ryu, if this had happened in that penthouse apartment, we could just step under that waterfall in the foyer and call the clean up done”, Ryu had responded by pushing him backwards so he tripped and got stuck in the empty cauldron. It was rather hilarious watching him wiggle his arse out of the cauldron to get out.

 

Even though she admired her friends’ creativity in drawing correlations, all the diverting of conversation was becoming rather annoying. And by the third day, after James had offered to carry her books for the fifth time, she finally caught on. There was something fishy going on.

 

She was walking with Sirius on the way back from dinner that Wednesday, trying to pry out of him what they were all on about. Of all of them, Sirius had been the one who attempted inserting veiled hints into everyday conversation the least.

 

“Can I ask you something?” She said looking behind her trying to see if any of the group had followed them out of lunch.

 

He looked at her curiously, trying to see what she was looking for behind them. “I think so...” He seemed suspicious of her intent now that he saw she had purposely lured him away, by himself.

 

She smiled at him in what she hoped was a disarming manner. “Do you think I should be buying any of these huge houses? I’m having second thoughts on it all. “

 

Sirius looked momentarily alarmed, then began picking his words rather carefully. “Well, with the intentions you have of housing The Meadowes, it seems like a good idea.” He treaded wisely.

 

Her idea had been to lure him into talking about his opinions. She hadn’t expected him to turn it around like that and answer in such a neutral way. She anticipated him jumping right in and telling her which house she was supposed to buy. To be honest she would’ve preferred him to talk about what he wanted, but instead he had brought up a subject that she was fretting about. How would Alton’s mom take it if she tried to provide a house for her? Would she be too proud to accept? Would it come across as condescending?

 

Her attempt to get information had easily been turned on her. It quickly became a therapy session as she forgot about her previous objective. She began to spew her concerns on a matter that Sirius didn't know about, and one that was weighing on her soul. Her once disarming smile changed to an expression of uncertainty. “Yes but what if they feel like they’re intruding? Or they're too proud to take my offer because they think it’s condescending? If they say no I’m definitely going to rethink all of this. I couldn’t stand being alone in such a big house. Even giving them a guest house so they can have privacy like any other family leaves me alone in a big empty house and makes me a bit uneasy.”

 

“First of all they aren’t going to say no.” Sirius stated so confidently that it seemed like it should’ve been obvious that they would accept her offer. “Second of all, we’re all going to be stopping by constantly.”

 

Ryu half smiled, grateful for the comfort. It didn’t reassure her all that much however, and she expressed her doubt “Maybe that’ll be the case, but your families are going to want to see you guys and it’ll take up all your time. You’ll forget about little old me in my huge lonely house.” She sighed smiling sadly before shaking her head realizing how pathetic she sounded. She couldn’t help it, but she tried to amend it by brushing it off. “I couldn’t be mad at you guys for spending time with them of course. As much as I would love to keep you all to myself, I couldn't ask you to spend time away from your families.”

 

Before he could stop himself, Sirius snorted bitterly. “Well you don’t really have to worry about that with me.” He muttered under his breath so Ryu could barely hear.

 

Ryu stopped walking and turned to him confused. “Why wouldn’t I worry about taking you away from your family Sirius?” She asked him searching his face.

 

Darkness came over Sirius’s features and he turned slightly away from her sharing as little as he could by way of explanation. “You don’t have to worry because my family doesn’t want me. In fact, they’ve disowned me. I’ve been living with James and his parents.”

 

She knew she probably should’ve been consoling him because it was obviously a sore spot, but instead her mouth seemed to be speaking of its own accord. “Why in Merlin's name would they disown you?” She blurted out, noticing afterward the way he winced when she emphasized ‘disown’. She managed to look slightly abashed about her own insensitivity afterwards.

 

He shook his head, as if he didn’t want to speak about it, but he went ahead and did anyway trying to come across as if her hiccup hadn’t bothered him. “I’m a Pureblood Ryu. And if you didn’t gather by just meeting him, my father is a Death Eater. Naturally, I was supposed to be just as morally decrepit as he was and follow in his footsteps. When I made it obvious that wasn’t going to happen, I was disowned and deemed worthless. I’m apparently a plague to my own family.” He scuffed his shoes on the stone floor and shoved his hands deep in his pockets. “As far as I'm concerned, I have no family, except for my brother, and it hurts me more than anything to think that I left him in that light forsaken place.” Sirius looked stricken, hatred and regret smoldering in his eyes. ”Do you remember when you apologized to me after you met my father? You said that after meeting him you could tell I was a good person because even after growing up with a father like him, I had turned out okay.” He looked to Ryu to confirm she remembered and she nodded. He smiled a bit. “That was probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, and it meant even more coming from a person who was so put off by me to begin with. It meant more than you would ever know to feel so validated in my actions against them.” He smiled sadly and looked to the ground a bit bitter.

 

He was acting like he was okay but Ryu could see the sorrow behind his stormy eyes. She turned his face toward her own, letting her hand linger on his cheek. “Sirius I’m so sorry, I didn’t know. I can’t even imagine having a family... and then to lose them...” She couldn’t grasp it and was surprised that her eyes were watering as she said the words.

 

Sirius pulled her into a hug, more so because he didn’t want to see her sympathy and have a break down than just to comfort her. “I’m over it Ryu, don’t let it affect you.” He told her too apathetically for it to be true. “I’m perfectly happy at James’s house.”

 

Ryu pulled back to look at him while managing to hold back the emotions as she considered his words. “You’re staying at the Potters?” She asked him. He nodded yes. “Do you think they’d mind if I stole you for the summer? I would love for a room mate in whatever huge house I buy.”

 

Sirius managed a rueful grin and chortled. “You don’t really want me to live with.”

 

Ryu looked at him as if he were daft. “What do you mean? Of course I do!”

 

He chuckled managing to put the somber subject behind them as he thought about living with her. “I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but Prongs might be. He always plans out our whole summer.” He smirked impishly “You two will have to duke it out over me.”

 

Ryu snorted. “Awwww is your little boyfriend gone be mad that I’m stealing you away?” She patronized him.

 

Sirius laughed, their prior conversation seemingly forgotten.“Pft! Wouldn’t you be mad? I mean, c’mon, it’s me we’re talking about after all! James will be going through withdrawal.”

 

Ryu snickered. “Well I’ll just have to be good in the negotiation process.”

 

The smile that overcame Sirius’s features as he thought about the bet, and the negotiations he just brought about, was overly happy and Ryu looked at him sideways before they made their way up to the Common Room to speak with James.

 

She narrowed her eyes at him. “What is that suspicious looking grin doing on your face?”

 

Sirius smirked. “Oh nothing! This arrangement just might work out in my favor is all!” He looked entirely too pleased with himself.

 

Ryu was wary walking in to meet with James considering the weird way everyone had been acting lately. The negotiations didn’t go anything like she had expected.

 

Sirius and herself waited in the Common Room for James to come meandering in. He wasn’t there right away, but when he did crawl through the Portrait Hole and see her and Sirius, he made his way over.

 

“Jamsey! Mate!” Ryu began. “Take a seat we need to discuss a couple things.”

 

A terrified look overcame James' features briefly, but upon looking at Sirius and seeing his friend smirking happily, his original fear that she knew about the bet and was about to kill him subsided and he took a seat intrigued.  “What can I do for you young lady?” He asked rather formally.

 

Ryu, once again, smiled what she hoped was a disarming smile, aiming to distract. “What you can do for me is give me custody of Sirius for the summer.”

 

James was shocked. He hadn’t been expecting this, why was Sirius smirking about not living with him? “What?” He looked to Sirius. “Is this happening? Do you want to stay with her instead of me?” He looked affronted.

 

Sirius looked panicked because James appeared angry, so Ryu spoke before he had to explain himself. “It’s just, I found out he was rooming at your house, so I asked him to come stay with me. I have no roommates and you have your parents. It’ll be super lonely if I have to stay by myself so I was thinking you could lone me Sirius.”

 

James looked slightly pouty for a moment, but when Sirius mouthed ‘the bet’ and ‘negotiate’ at him from over Ryu's shoulder, a devious look overcame his features. He was struck with the same realization that Sirius had on the way up to meet with him. “Well what do I get if you take custody for the summer?”

 

Ryu looked at him annoyed and she couldn't help the sarcasm. “What? Do you want to go to court or something? You can have him for Christmas but that's it!” She joked lightly.

 

James smirked at her wit. “No Ryu, you can have Christmas too as long as I get what I want.”

 

Ryu rolled her eyes and sighed, afraid of the answer to her next question. “What do you want James?”

 

James rubbed his hands together excitedly. “Welllllllllll since you asked...I want you to buy the compound.”

 

Ryu’s face became dark. “You can’t possibly be serious.”

 

“I am serious, “ He said leaning towards her with a smile on his face. “And if you’re serious about having Sirius, you will have to take my custody agreement seriously” He was much too proud of the way he strung together that sentence. “Buy the compound.” He banged his hand off the coffee table imitating a salesman putting an offer on the table. The desired effect was lessened by the fact that he recoiled from his strike clutching his hand after catching the corner of a marble bookend.

 

Ryu looked at him suspiciously as he clutched his hand looking at the book-end reproachfully. “Why are you so bloody insistent about the damn compound! All you guys have been ridiculously nice these past few days while still subtly hinting towards what house you prefer! I—“ She stopped in mid-sentence as her eyes became wide and she inhaled a large breath. As a realization came upon her, all their strange behavior made sense. “I can’t believe it...” She said sitting back against the couch.

 

James and Sirius looked to each other confused as to why she had stopped talking mid sentence. They shrugged to let each other know they had no clue.

 

Ryu turned so she was facing both boys at once, and poked them both in the chest hard. “You guys made a bet didn’t you? The Quidditch team bet that I would buy the compound, and you all have been stubly, and evilly, trying to influence my decision so you’d win!”

 

James and Sirius didn’t say anything in response for a moment. Seemingly speechless with jaws wide open, they were shocked that she had finally caught on out of nowhere. Their speechlessness was all she needed for to know the answer.

 

James finally, and lamely, decided to break the ice. “Well I did it because I wanted the Quidditch pitch. Lily only got in on it because she doesn't want us to be happy.”

 

Ryu just pretended she didn’t hear his childish statement. “I can’t believe this! I can’t believe I didn’t realize it when Lily started bloody raving that she didn’t care after I only asked her whether or not she thought I should give in and buy the compound! You’ve all been so on edge about my house choice, like your hanging on my every word waiting for my decision.”

 

James and Sirius both looked nervous, they weren’t sure if she was going to be angry at what they had done.

 

She finely looked up at them, the initial shock over. “So what were the stakes...actually, never mind, I don’t want to know the stakes. Lily will kill me if I knew the stakes and still did this!” She said shaking her head talking to herself. She paused to think, then she looked to Sirius, “I would hope you would live with me because you’re my friend and you want to, and not because it will give you leverage in a bet. So thinking along the lines that you want to be my prospective roommate, I’ll take your desires into consideration. I’m buying the compound-“ James had already begun celebrating  “-congratulations on winning the bet...I didn’t know about it, is that clear?”

 


 


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