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Chapter 27 : The Twist
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"IRIS!" a voice screamed beside me before someone took my hand, pulling me to a small pokey waiting room, pulling me down against the floor.
I blinked, coming to from my strange revelry.
"What are they doing here?" Hemera cried her voice rank with fear.
"I don't know," I breathed.
She lifted herself off the floor, moving to the windows.
"You need to leave Iris, now," She said.
"I don't..." I began.
"Don't argue with me!" She yelled, a fierceness surfacing I’d rarely seen in her.
"But we can't just..." I started, my voice panicked.
"The Aurors'll be here in a minute," She replied.
I looked at her.
"G..." She began when I heard another scream accompanied by what sounded like a delighted cackle. I froze. I knew that voice.
Bellatrix knew where Cepheus was.
If I could just...I'd wrenched open the door in seconds, my wand clutched in my hand, those same feelings pulsing through me and then suddenly it was like an explosion.
My nerves were on fire, my senses sharpening to a fine point and my vision doubling before focusing.
I felt a spell brush my shoulder and turned to see a stout Deatheater, predictably in black.
It didn't feel like my hand as I retaliated, delivering an underhand blow, levitating the unconscious figure slightly and knocking down two others like bowling pins, flattening them beneath him before stupefying them.
I stepped out of the way of another attack simply because that was what my mind and body told me to do, I shot down two others, feeling someone come to my side, aiding me. I saw Bellatrix distantly further up the platform so I moved closer, sneaking up behind her when I heard something that made my blood run cold.
"JAMES!" the unmistakable voice of Lily screamed. I didn't spend anytime spotting them, James was fighting a tall man whose mask had been pushed off...a familiar one to although I couldn't place him, Lily engaging moments after as James began to buckle.
I don't know why I felt such a strong need to protect them, just them, but I did. For all the people shrieking and battling, despite the fact Sirius and Hemera and Franny and others I loved were still there James and Lily were the only ones that seemed to matter.
I look back now and I wish I'd known, wish I'd known why but I hadn't.
A blinding blue light shot from the tip of my wand, hitting the person squarely in the chest and sending them tumbling backwards, winding up unconscious flat on their back.
Both James and Lily turned to look at me and I gave a smirk, giving them a sarcastic salute before turning and catching another in the back.
The longer it went the more confident I became, the more I began to enjoy myself.
"Iris!" came a sudden gruff voice.
I turned in time to see Moody.
"Get out of here," He growled.
“You took your time,” I grinned.
He failed to look particularly impressed.
“You should have been out of here at the first sign of...” He began, pausing momentarily to hex someone over my shoulder.
“....danger!...Is that...Iris what is that on your neck?!” He demanded.
I paused bringing a hand to my neck.
“Nothing...” I said slowly.
“That’s a lovebite!” He cried.
There were times to have these conversations, like...well...never.
“AND YOU WONDER WHY I WON’T LET YOU GO AND STAY WITH...!” He cried.
I ignored him, sending a spell towards a Deatheater who looked to be attempting to get to Moody, quite literally blasting anyone who got in his way.
He was therefore rather surprised when he was stopped in his tracks by seemingly nothing.
“I could see that you know,” Moody snapped.
I grinned at him.
“Maybe I will go on that Deatheater hunt after all,” I joked.
He narrowed his eyes at me.
“I will be escorting you back,” He said.
“No you won’t,” I said flatly.
“Don’t argue with me!” He snapped.
“That’s ridiculous!” I cried in aggravation, shooting another spell.
“You Iris, have lost my trust!” He informed me, flicking a spell behind him.
I rolled my eyes.
“I’ve lost your trust? Really Moody?” I said.
“Was I told of this boyfriend? No! Was I consulted? I don’t think so! He’s a bad boy!” He said.
“Oh I know,” I said lightly, smirking slightly. Moody stopped dead, turning to glare at me.
“That is not funny!” He snapped.
“I’m...sorry Moody,” I said pausing to duck out of the way as someone came barrelling towards me, their face covered in some kind of thick gloopy substance.
Moody was scowling heavier after that, muttering irritably under his breath, something about teenagers if I’m correct, his spellwork becoming more forceful as he continued. It was rather funny to be honest.
It was then however that the Aurors really began to arrive in force, a fair few Order members among them.
It was only after a bit that I found Sirius and James.
“18!” Sirius cried as he shot down another Deatheater.
“No it wasn’t! That was 15th at most!” James protested.
“18!” Sirius protested.
“19!” James cried suddenly catching another one.
“You cheated! He was in my range!” Sirius complained.
“Too slow mate,” James grinned broadly.
Sirius scowled, muttering something under his breath before his eyes caught on another one.
I rolled my eyes although admittedly rather glad that neither of them were injured or dying and simply enjoying themselves instead.
As the chaos slowly returned to normality it finally came to my notice that perhaps it wasn’t so much fun after all. The platform was littered with people, fallen, injured, stupefied...and in one or two cases even dead.
I just stood there for a moment as I saw a family further down the platform, a wife cradling the lifeless form of her husband, something turning inside me as I knew, deep down, that worse was yet to come...
I arrived back at the orphanage accompanied by two members of The Order, the general consensus being that Moody may be a little bit of a shock to the ordinary civilian.
It was a sunny day and yet in that patch it seemed so unwelcomingly grey, the buildings dirty and streets positively empty.
The light was fading by now, I knew they’d probably have been expecting me back for a certain time but I didn’t care.
I felt sick.
I climbed the steps, hesitating, before letting out a long breath and pressing the doorbell, stepping back and waiting.
My mind was just one confused blur.
What on earth were Deatheaters doing at the station? As usual despite the fact that perhaps I could have been useful to The Order and attempt to come up with a solution I’d been shunted aside and packed off to the god forsaken shit hole.
They shouldn’t have been able to get onto the platform...
I was however ripped out of my revelry as I heard the locks followed by the creaks of the great door.
It was like something out of a horror movie, the appearance of Sister Angela doing nothing to rid my mind of this thought.
Her round face turned towards me before her eyes cooled and narrowed, any pretence of warmth disappearing instantly.
“Elizabeth,” She said curtly.
Oh yeah, that’s another thing.
My full name being Iris Eloise Elizabeth Tear, both Sister Angela and Sister Morgan refused to call me Iris...despite it being my actual name.
There really was no point in protesting.
“Sister Angela,” I breathed, readying myself.
Her eyes grazed down me, lingering on the hemline of my skirt.
You know I’d even lengthened it to my knees, just for the occasion.
She moved back to look to my face, her lip curling ever so slightly before she turned to the two Order members.
“And you are?” She asked.
“...just dropping her off,” The young woman said.
Sister Angela looked at her until the woman began to fidget.
“Well then there isn’t any real reason why you should continue to stand around, is there?” She said coldly, her tone turning somewhat patronising.
“Oh well...I guess not...well...goodbye,” The woman said, exhibiting people’s usual habit and pointedly avoiding those small watery grey eyes.
“Goodbye,” She drawled.
They of course didn’t dawdle.
She watched them go before turning back to me.
“What time do you call this?” She asked.
This was a rhetorical question.
“Or is there some devastatingly valid reason why you turn up looking like some sort of harlot, 2 HOURS AFTER THE AGREED TIME?!” She barked.
I couldn’t help but flinch ever so slightly.
“I apologize,” I said calmly.
Yeah I apologize for some terrorist, facist bastards deciding to ambush the train station!
She looked at me before stepping back, holding open the door.
“You have work to do,” She told me.
“I guess that’s why I’m here,” I said.
She sent me a cold look.
“Did I ask you supply me with an answer?” She asked.
I didn’t say anything, pulling my trunk up instead.
“Tie your hair back,” She ordered as the door swung shut behind me.
I reluctantly pulled my hair back.
“I thought I was supposed to stay at school for Christmas,” I said tersely.
She ignored me, leading me down the dimly lit corridor.
What a lovely Christmas present.
‘Home’ at last.
Pfft, yeah right.
Returning to the orphanage meant several things, one; I’d be looking after snotty nosed little brats, two; I’d be ‘helping’ to peel endless potatoes (I really didn’t understand why they had to serve them with EVERY meal), three; I’d be miserable.
I didn’t have an owl of my own and was pretty sure Sister Angela would have a fit if she found me with an owl in my room.
On the bright side, I hadn’t yet seen Sister Morgan. She was the most senior and made the majority of the decisions whereas Sister Angela dealt with the actual children.
“Iris!” a voice whispered as I moved along the dark corridor a day or two later, towards my own personal hell that was the nursery...where all the real babies were.
There’d been a new arrival at the start of the week, a really new baby, too new really. She was cute but tended to cry...a lot...and seeing as my bedroom was right next door(well it depends if you call a room the size of a closet a bedroom) I could hear everything.
It was late but I’d quite frankly enough of it.
I wasn’t really supposed to handle the kids, feed, clean, bathe and all that crap, sure, ’mollycoddle’, not so much. I looked round, my eyes searching the dark until they fell on a small figure.
“You should be in bed,” I said flatly.
Billy was quite literally the smallest 7 year old I’d ever met, he’d arrived a week into my summer holidays, off the street as far as I remember. He got in trouble a lot but I did secretly quite like him.
“I can’t sleep,” He said.
“Well then go count sheep,” I said.
“I’ve tried that,” He answered.
“If anyone finds you out of your room we’ll both get in trouble,” I pointed out, pushing open the door to the nursery, flicking on the ancient switch, the lights taking a moment, blinking a few times before steadying.
The place could have done with all sorts of new fixtures and fittings but the lights were the ones that irritated me most of all.
“I just want to sit with you,” He said following me in.
I looked down at him before I smiled slightly.
“Fine. Go sit down then,” I breathed nodding to the chair.
“I thought you weren’t coming back until next summer,” He said his feet hanging above the floor as he sat in the worn, but admittedly rather comfortable, armchair.
“That was the plan,” I muttered, walking along the aisles of cots. Not all of them were in use but 15 of the 25 were.
It was just a matter of sorting one out before they all really started.
“Sister Angela said that some people are coming to adopt,” He said.
I sighed, continuing to face away from him.
“You excited?” I said.
“I’m gonna do it this time, I’m gonna get adopted,” He said determinedly.
It was the same, every time.
Christmas was a great time; most people were feeling a little more charitable, what with the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ crap filling their heads. All the kids would get all excited, determined that ‘this would be the year’, ‘this time, this time, it’d happen’ and for a lucky few it did, for a lucky few they went away to a new life...and for the others that remained it was a matter of stifling the disappointment, optimistically looking for the next time because after all, if you didn’t hope then the only thing left was to subject yourself to living out the rest of your childhood in the orphanage, your entire life consisting of lines and order and potatoes (really I’m not kidding about the potatoes, we had them EVERY day) then when you got out, where were you then? Spending your entire life in the same institution left you blind to the outside world. Mostly, when you reached a certain age, they got you an apprenticeship, there were a few factories on the outside of London, if you were lucky something more specific but it took courage to break forward, out of the loop and do something for yourself.
Of course there was the welfare state and the dole, housing as well but it was difficult to actually be your own person.
Being adopted was the way out.
And that was why I valued my freedom.
That was why I valued the fact that I had been given a chance. I may have messed around at school but I never EVER did anything that could really endanger my place there...well ok so perhaps I did but I made sure never to get caught. I wanted to start anew. I wanted to be what I wanted to be. I didn’t want to have to depend on someone else.
“Don’t you want to be adopted?” He asked as I lifted the shrieking baby out of the cot.
I looked round.
“I’m 17,” I said flatly.
“So,” He said.
I smiled slightly.
“I’m pretty much an adult, there wouldn’t be any point in adopting me,” I said.
He thought about this for a moment before he looked back up at me, his face displaying open innocent curiosity.
“You did though, once, right?” He said.
“Of course I did,” I laughed, holding the baby against me, Rose I think her name was.
“What are you going to do then? When school ends?” He asked.
“You shouldn’t be prying. Go back to bed,” I said.
He of course didn’t move and pretty much ignored me.
“Are you going to get married?” He asked.
“No,” I said.
“Why not?” He asked.
“Because then I’d have to find a man who could really handle me,” I smirked.
“I could handle you,” He said boldly.
I couldn’t help but laugh at that.
“How old are you again?” I teased.
“7...and three quarters,” He said angling his chin defiantly.
A smile tugged at my lips as I made gentle shushing noises, moving my finger into those tiny hands, watching her grasp onto them immediately, her crying moving to the odd whimper.
“Oh,” I said.
“So what are you going to be? Will you come back here?” He asked.
I looked at him, taking a breath.
“No. I’ll do something...different,” I said.
“Like what?” He pressed.
“You’re a nosy little bugger,” I said amusedly.
“I’m going to live with a friend and get a job...” I began.
“Which friend? From school?” He asked.
I rolled my eyes.
“Yes,” I said.
“Will she work too?” He asked.
“He most probably will, yes,” I said.
His brow furrowed.
“You can’t live with a man,” He said.
“Yes I can,” I said.
“But...so are you going to marry him?” He asked seemingly rather baffled by this prospect.
“No,” I said.
He didn’t say anything for a moment, his brow furrowing further.
“Does he know you’re not going to marry him?” He asked.
I raised my eyebrows in surprise.
It seemed like such a strange thing to ask.
“Of course,” I said.
“So neither of you want to get married?” He said.
“Well...no,” I said.
He was quiet for a bit after that.
“When I fall in love I’ll ask her to marry me,” He said eventually.
I turned round to look at him from where I remained, leaning against one of the empty cots, gazing down onto the empty street below.
“I don’t love him,” I said.
I couldn’t tell whether that statement were true or not, did I?
I honestly didn’t know.
“And he doesn’t love you either?” He asked.
“...you know for a 7 year old you ask a lot of...” I began.
“Did he say that he didn’t love you?” He said.
For some odd reason my mind zoomed back to the station...and I couldn’t say why.
“...You know you’re awfully young to be so into love. When you get to it though, I suggest you run. Now go to bed, before you get caught,” I said.
He opened his mouth to protest.
“I mean it,” I snapped, suddenly rather irritated.
He got slowly to his feet.
“I don’t want to go to sleep,” He said quietly.
“I said; go to bed,” I growled.
He did eventually of course.
When everything was silent again I went back to bed, closing the door with a relieved sigh, relishing the silence. I pushed off the itchy dressing gown and got into bed, yawning...until I heard more babies crying.
‘Great’ I thought savagely.
I quite literally did not sleep that night and was therefore in a greatly sour mood the next morning.
“Iwis,” some kid said as I walked down the stairs carefully ensuring the washing stayed level...and still attempting to see where I was going.
“What?” I snapped.
“Iwis,” They repeated, right behind me.
“Shouldn’t you be going something useful?!” I snapped.
She didn’t say anything for a moment.
“Sister Morgan told me to tell you that Ethel had been sick and you had to clear it up,” I said.
“I’m busy,” I ground out.
“...oh,” She said.
I scowled into the piles of washing.
“I’ll be there in a minute,” I said.
“Billy said you were going to live with a man,” She said as she followed me.
I rolled my eyes.
“I am,” I said.
“...Sister Morgan said that...” She started.
“I don’t give a crap what Sister Morgan has to say,” I snapped.
She gave an intake of breath.
“You’re not allowed to curse,” She told me.
“Go. Back. Upstairs. NOW!” I snapped.
I’d just successfully managed to manoeuvre my way to the final step when she spoke again.
“You’ll be living in sin,” She informed.
“Good, I’ll say hi to the devil for you when I go to hell,” I said flatly.
“That’s basmy,” She said.
“It’s blasphemy darling,” I told her.
“Basmy,” She argued.
“Ok fine! It’s basmy!” I cried as I finally reached the kitchen, moving round to the large airing cupboard and finally setting all the things down.
“You shouldn’t be in the kitchen,” I told the kid turning to look at her before grimacing.
“You’ve got...oh god, you’ve got snot all...” I said as a bent down, pulling the handkerchief I always kept handy from my pocket.
“You’re hurting my nose,” She complained as I wiped it away.
“I don’t care,” I said.
I swear, I didn’t have half as much mucus as some of these kids did at their age.
“Blow,” I said in a bored voice.
“I can’t,” She said.
“Why not?” I said flatly.
“You’re squishing my nose!” She said indignantly.
“No, I’m not, blow,” I snapped.
She scowled, closing her arms over her chest.
I waited, she waited...nothing happened.
“Oh fine!” I cried withdrawing.
Of course it’s right then that she sneezes...all over my hand.
I looked at it for a moment, my eyes wide in horror.
She wrinkled her nose before innocently padding off and out of the kitchen.
I remained where I was, closing my eyes to stop myself screaming every ‘bad’ word I could think of.
“What are you doing on the ground?” came a voice behind me.
I turned very slowly to see Sister Angela.
I straightened up immediately, wiping my hand with the clean side of the tissue.
“Putting the washing in the airing cupboard,” I said eventually.
She looked at me.
“On the ground?” She said.
“...no...” I said slowly.
“You didn’t put them in here did you?” She asked without turning to look. She knew it was there.
“Yes,” I said through gritted teeth, simply waiting for it.
“I told you to put in the one on the third floor,” She said coldly, talking to me as if I were lacking in intelligence...and basic common sense.
“You told me to put them on the ground floor,” I said calmly.
She looked at me, her small eyes narrowed as she pursed her lips.
“I told you to put them on the third floor,” She said very slowly, allowing her irritation to show through.
“Well maybe you should be more clear with your instructions,” I said sharply.
Her eyebrows raised into a cool look.
“Oh I am so sorry. Well here are some clearer instructions, you go upstairs and you clean up the floor in the second floor, room 10, then you come back down here and you start helping with this evening’s meal. You will then take the children across to their classes and then come here and tidy up. Is that clear enough for you?” She asked.
“Crystal,” I drawled.
She looked at me before taking a step forward.
“Laziness will not be tolerated Elizabeth,” She said.
I rolled my eyes.
“My name is Iris! It says ‘Iris Elizabeth Eloise Tear’ on my birth certificate, that is therefore my name,” I said.
She looked at me, an eyebrow arching.
“You know, if you can spend so much time speaking and thinking up such dreadful retorts perhaps you should start with the evening rounds?” She asked.
I looked at her, looking at he coolly.
“Delightful,” I said before turning and walking out, my anger simmering, so close to spilling over.
By the 5th day I was very close to murdering something and therefore took the initiative to get the hell out of there, just for an hour or two, it wasn’t like I had the option of going elsewhere but for the moment I was in desperate need of a break.
I snuck out the side door when everyone else was busy and away, taking a deep breath of the cold air, glad to feel it nurse my burning cheeks, letting out my hair down as I moved further away from the cul-de-sac.
It was a bitter morning, the sun shining down, glorifying everything and yet the cold still nipped at my cheeks and the tip of my nose. I was in dire need of a break from the bedlam that was the orphanage and quite frankly loathed the idea of returning.
The Market wasn't far away, 10 minutes at most, just a little away from Liverpool street station.
Somehow I could feel my mood lifting already, more because of the promise that I'd be going to one of the places I felt most comfortable, it had been my entire existence for a great part of my life, it'd been my representation of freedom.
I took my time, arriving at Middlesex street and the sprawling market stalls of petticoat lane.
I couldn't help but grin to myself.
I'd come here as often as physically possible growing up, my childhood friends and I always seeing as some huge adventure despite it being so close.
People therefore knew me, after all it was rather difficult NOT to notice four 9 year olds, wondering round, one of whom was beyond friendly and was playfully inquisitive with just about anything.
Needless to say Celeste had made a great many friends, as we'd grown up we'd also become rather good at charming people and therefore had just as high a success rate as we had when we were cute little kids.
"Bloody 'ell IRIS! Where've you been?!" a familiar voice cried to my left.
I turned, a large grin crossing my features as I spotted Frank. He was a skinny man, about average height with a short scraggly beard.
"Locked away in my tower guarded by evil bitched in black habits," I teased moving towards him.
He let out a raspy chuckle (the result of far too many cigarettes).
He was a regular at one of the pubs I'd regularly spent a great deal of time in, mostly because I was good for business, I was rather good at card games i.e. Poker because of my...slight advantage. I'd win then later split half of it with the barman Rover who although a rather bad influence on me was a lot like a mischievous uncle.
It had been Frank's idea of course, he was good with anything even vaguely money orientated and would do a great deal to get his money on it. That said he was a loveable man, a regular which is how I came to know him.
"Bloomin' 'eck, you got taller everytime I see you,” He said.
He said that every time I saw him.
"How's Queenie?" I asked.
Queenie was his wife.
He made a face.
"Still goin' on 'bout that bleedin' cooker. I buy her a nice one, top of the bloody range too, will she have it? No! 'course not, just needs a bit o' tweaking I tell 'er but she won't even use it!"He cried throwing his hands up in the air.
"...What's wrong with it?" I asked.
"Well it leaks a bit see, gas an' all, nothing a bit o' duck tape won't fix,” He said.
Duck tape. Frank's answer to everything.
Queenie had been nagging for a cooker for as far back as I could remember; Frank had been delivering faulty ones just as long.
"So what're you going to do with it then?" I asked slowly.
"Well I'm gonna have to flog it, there's a new Chinese restaurant openin' up, I'm sure they'd wan' it," He said.
"...I thought you said it leaks," I said.
"Well they dunno that do they?” He said rolling his eyes as if it were obvious.
I couldn't help but laugh, laugh because otherwise I'd be rather worried.
"FRANK...oh 'ello Iris, god I ain't seen you in ages! You're looking good!" a voice said, appearing on my other side said.
"...have you been on holiday?" I said in surprise as I looked at the woman before me, wrapped in a large padded jacket.
"Oh how nice of you to notice! I got a lovely tan don't I? Went to Spain for a week,” She said happily.
It took me a while to actually get away; Gloria could talk for the country.
It was mid morning by the time I'd moved on. I'd already bought myself some new mascara (half price) and had stopped several times to chat. As I reached the end though I couldn't help but smirk slightly.
Now here was where my skill came to good use.
I was a regular customer at the material stall, and knew them all extremely well. More specifically I knew the son extremely well.
He was a few years older than me and actually the first bloke I'd ever actually snogged.
He was the same ridiculously handsome type as Ace, tall and muscular and generally extremely pleasing on the eye.
When I was younger, Celeste and I (being the more outgoing of the four of us) had spent a great deal of time hanging round him and even longer talking about it after.
Celeste had insisted that if she was ever to marry anyone it would most definitely be him.
I moved forward, standing behind an older lady as she let off a long list of demands.
"And don't you try and skimp young man! Think I don't know! Oh! And another thing! You stay away from my granddaughter! She's a good girl and the likes of you are not welcome! Make a slut of her you will! I promise you, the next time 'er father sees you with 'er, 'e'll get out his rifle!” She cried.
I had to turn away to stop myself from giggling.
"Alright Mrs Parsons,” He said, handing her the bag.
"I mean it!” She snapped poking a finger at him.
He looked very much as if he were trying to suppress a grin.
"Yes Mrs Parsons,” He said.
"Like I'd have my granddaughter, my granddaughter no less! Fornicating with pagans!” She cried.
"...I'm not quite a pagan love,” He said.
She glared at him before finally hobbling off.
"Deary deary me, Robert have you been a bad boy?" I smirked innocently.
He immediately turned towards me, a huge grin settling on his face.
"I was wonderin' when you were gettin' back,” He grinned leaning against the table as his dad continued to serve the other customers, seemingly having failed to notice.
"Why? Did you miss me?" I grinned.
His grin widened.
"Bloody 'ell yeah, you know what, I get off in five minutes, I'll take you for a drink,” He smirked.
"Oh what an honour," I laughed.
"D'your lucky day darlin',” He said with a wink.
"Hmmm sounds positively enticing but you know I'm going to have to get back at some point, they'll bloody kill me," I said.
"You've done it before,” He grinned.
I gave a laugh.
"Fine, you can buy me chips too while you're at it," I said.
"Pleasu...” He started when I heard a familiar voice...so out of place it was unbelievable.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" an indignant voice said.
I turned my eyes widening as I saw Ace...this was wrong in so many ways!
He was...he was even wearing the money pouch...good god.
"You see Ace mate,that would be why you're such a moody bastard, you can't laid with opening lines like that," Rob said.
Ace turned and glared at him.
"Fuck off,” He snapped. Rob grinned.
"Awww little Acikins, I didn't mean to upset you,” He pouted ruffling his hair. Ace's scowl deepened before he pulled off the money belt.
"Fuck you,” He snapped.
"Gosh aren't we in a good mood?" I said.
They both turned to look at me, Ace's scowl remaining in place.
"You actually know him?" Rob said.
"We go to the same school," ace growled.
Rob raised an eyebrow.
"I thought you went to an all girl’s boarding school in Scotland,” He said.
"...I don't know where you got the first bit from but mostly, yes, I do," I said.
"Oh Ace!" a voice said suddenly.
Ace turned, the plump lady I knew to be his mother emerging.
"I bought you a nice cup of tea...you know you really should wrap up warmer, you'll catch a cold if you're not careful,” She said shaking her head as she placed the small polysterene cup down, pulling him towards her as she did up the zip of his coat.
It took pretty much everything in me not to burst out laughing.
"Mum g...mum geroff!" Ace snapped, pushing her hands away
"Well I dunno Ace, it is pretty cold today," I pouted. His eyes narrowed.
"Shut up,” He said.
"Oh! Oh Ace! Oh that's why you wanted to come down here! Why didn't you invite her for Christmas Ace?” She demanded.
"Do you know Rob here? This is Ace's cousin, that's his uncle..." his mum started.
"I'm sure she gets the picture," Ace breathed.
"Why don't you go get her something nice? Aiden tells me you've been going out for ages, I'm so glad you've found a nice girl,” She babbled.
"Oh fuck it. Come on," Ace snapped, moving round and taking my hand.
"I haven't even..." I started.
"Dunno what you're bloody doing here anyway,” He growled moodily.
I raised an eyebrow.
"Does it matter that I actually came here for a reason? Or am I simply serving as your scapegoat?" I asked.
"Just shut up and get in here,” He snapped pushing open the door to one of the poky cafes.
"Gosh you really know how to make a girl feel all warm and fuzzy inside," I said sarcastically.
He ignored me, collapsing into one of the chairs, still scowling.
"Oh for fucks sake, cheer up! You're not going back to some terrifyingly ancient nuns in a few hours," I said rolling my eyes after he pretty much barked at the waitress.
"You're not going back to house full of little snot nosed kids,” He retorted.
"Err yes I am," I said.
He looked at me for a moment, his brow furrowing.
"You know that place, an 'orphanage' where they shove all the 'orphaned children', yeah that place. The only reason I was dragged back was to 'help' out because there's flu going round...and it's Christmas," I said.
"...what happens at Shristmas?” He asked.
"Well people want to adopt don't they? Good will and all that crap," I said.
"Oh...why? Are you being adopted?” He asked.
"I highly doubt that," I replied.
He looked at me for a minute before moving his hands into his hair, letting out a slow aggravated groan.
"I swear if I go back to that place I'll go mental,” He said.
I cocked my head to side slightly before leaning forward, pulling his hand away.
"Well if it really makes you feel better it's only two weeks 'til we're back at school,” I said.
He gave a grunt.
"If you're going to keep acting like this I'm going to make you buy me dessert too," I said.
He looked up before a flicker of a smile passed his lips.
We actually ended up spending rather a long time in the small smoky cafe and slowly his mood improved.
"So how d'you know my cousin anyway?" Ace said through a mouthful of chips.
“He’s kind of hard to miss,” I said simply.
Ace stopped chewing and looked up.
“What’s ‘at supposed to mean?” He asked slowly.
“What do you think it means. I’ve known him since I was like 8,” I said.
Ace just looked at me before his eyes narrowed into a glare.
“What?” I said.
“That’s my cousin,” He said.
“Yes...? I’ve gathered that much love,” I said.
“He’s a prick,” He said.
“Darling compared to you he looks like Jesus,” I said.
He sat back, looking at me.
“So...?” He said.
“So what?” I asked.
“So...” He said adding extra emphasis.
“So what?!” I cried in aggravation.
“Do you like him then?” He asked.
I paused before a huge smile broke across my face.
“You’re jealous!” I cried.
Ace’s gaze flattened.
“Shut up,” He said.
“You’re jealous!” I said.
“I’m not jealous,” He snapped.
“Yes you are! If you want to know, yes, I did like him,” I said pleasantly.
“Did?” He said.
“Yes, I liked him very much last summer,” I said.
He just looked at me.
“...and what’s that supposed to mean?” He growled, bristling slightly.
“It means...” I began.
“That’s bullshit,” He snapped.
“...I didn’t even have time to answer,” I pointed out.
“You’re winding me up,” He said.
“Well you shouldn’t be so easily wound up then should you,” I said matter of factly, taking a chip. Ace muttered something under his breath.
“So did you ever go out with him?” He asked.
“Yes,” I said.
That obviously was not the answer he wanted to hear.
As a matter of fact he was the first guy I’d come close to actually sleeping with too (by that I mean there was still quite a bit of distance to cover...I hadn’t gone anywhere near as far as I’d been with Ace...then again I had been drunk).
...Not that I’d tell Ace that of course.
It wasn’t that I totally adored him, he was just fun and extremely entertaining, more of a friend with added extras I guess...well was when I was around at least.
Ace didn’t say anything for a moment before he spoke again.
“Did you...” He said.
“No,” I told him flatly.
Ace contemplated this for a moment before he shrugged and resumed eating, seemingly feeling a whole lot better about the whole thing.
I rolled my eyes.
“Do you come here often then?” I asked.
He looked up at me, chewing slowly.
“Sometimes...” He said slowly.
“I’m only asking,” I laughed.
He continued to look at me somewhat suspiciously.
I rolled my eyes yet again.
“Fine, be difficult,” I said.
“What about you?” He said.
“Whenever I can get down here, I’m only a few blocks away,” I said picking apart a chip with long fingers.
“So what do you...do there?” He asked.
“Cook, clean, be sneezed on by disgusting little kids...why are you laughing?” I said flatly.
“Clean? Really Iris?” He snorted.
“Not my choice, I assure you,” I said wryly.
He didn’t say anything for a moment before he spoke.
“You hate it don’t you,” He said.
“Oh gosh no, the cleaning’s the highlight of my day,” I said sarcastically.
“Why don’t you just run away then?” He said simply.
Why did that always seem to be people’s answer to everything?
“We have 2 weeks left...do you really see me living on the streets for that time?” I said flatly.
He rolled his eyes.
“You could stay with me,” He said.
“I can’t randomly say I’m going to turn up at your house,” I said.
“Yeah you can,” He said.
I looked at him, giving a small laugh.
“Moody would kill me...and you...more likely you,” I said.
“...what is up with that guy? Is he your dad or something?” He asked.
“No, he just enjoys being an overprotective pain in the arse, he’s known me since 1st year,” I said.
“Well it doesn’t matter, plus it’s either that or I murder my family and then he’d hunt me down anyway,” He said.
“But my trunks got all my spell books and stuff in it,” I said quietly.
“Then go back and get it,” He said.
“It’s difficult getting out normally, let alone with a big heavy case,” I said.
“You’re 17, you can use magic outside of school,” He pointed out in hushed tones.
“Unless in the presence of muggles,” I reminded him.
“Then you make sure no one’s watching,” He replied simply.
“Fine but if we get caught, it’s your fault,” I said.
So that’s what we did, we stayed in there for the rest of the morning before moving off. I couldn’t tell whether to be excited or not. I had no idea how I was going to manage it and I was trying desperately not to become too optimistic but it was surprisingly difficult.
“Stay here, ok?” I said as we stood round the corner, facing the grim looking building.
“You know it really doesn’t surprise me you grew up in such a miserable looking place,” He muttered.
“Shut up,” I said rolling my eyes before starting off.
“Are you going to go through the front door?” He said sceptically.
“No, my usual route was blocked up at some point, I’m just taking the other side,” I said rolling my eyes.
Which unfortunately did involve sneaking past the front door...
I was therefore rather pleased with myself when I managed to get past the front door, moving carefully round to the side door and quietly pushing open the gate.
That was where my good luck failed me.
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!" a voice suddenly boomed causing me to jump. I turned, my eyes widening as they fell on Sister Maria.
“I..." I began when she grabbed hold of my arm. I only had time to half shoo Ace away before she was pulling me through the side door through the dimly lit corridors and then into a large room.
“Sister, Iris is back," Sister Maria reported as she brought me to a rough halt before Sister Angela...shit.
Irritation sparked in the Sister Angela’s eyes.
“This'll have to wait, take her upstairs,” She hissed.
“Oh darling! Look at that one!" a voice cried. I turned to see a rather odd looking couple. One, a lady with elegant short shiny blonde hair and the other a short skinny man with black hair.
“Fantastic darling, we want that one!" the bloke cried managing to clinch it as the most camp sounding man I'd ever heard. I'm surprised Sister Morgan had let him in. She loathed anything and everything that didn't fit comfortably in her narrow minded view on the world.
"...I'm afraid she's not up for adoption," Sister Angela said in a steely tone.
It was only then that I actually realised they were talking about me.
Nobody EVER wanted to adopt the older kids.
“Well why not?" The woman asked.
“She'll be 18 in February," Sister Angela replied somewhat tersely.
“Well we don't mind do we Francesco? A child’s for life not just for Christmas...even if they are a rather large child," The woman said flashing a perfect smile. Neither of the sisters looked particularly amused.
“The agreement was that you and your...husband would pick..." Sister Angela started slowly, obviously losing her patience.
“Pick a child. You just said that she's not 18," the man interjected seemingly exasperated by the whole process.
I just watched in amazement.
No one ever spoke to either of them like that.
I was therefore entirely blown away as I watched them sign the appropriate papers.
...No one bothered to ask me of course.
I was too shocked to point out that I'd be returning to school very soon.
“Sorry I forgot to ask your name," the woman smiled halfway through signing them, turning to me.
“Iris," Sister Angela answered curtly for me.
“Thank you,” She smiled before scribbling it in.
I looked round at Sister Angela.
“Bu...but I can't be adopted," I managed eventually.
“Why not?" the man asked.
“Because...I...I'd have to give up school..." I started.
"...really? Why's that?" the woman frowned at me.
“Well...I go to boarding school...away from here," I said.
“These things should have been sorted out beforehand, the papers have been signed, now if you don't mind, I wish you to leave," Sister Angela said looking the woman up and down, her lip curling as she took in her heels.
“And give us fair warning next time you wish to visit,” She drawled.
“I don't know how you expect to bring up healthy children in some hell hole like this anyway," the man said shrewdly.
Sister Angela's eyes widened in outrage.
“Well...we'll be going then," the lady said quickly moving her hands onto my shoulders.
I was beyond confused.
“Sh...shouldn't I get my stuff?" I said.
"...oh...we'll buy some new things, ciao darlings," the woman threw over her shoulder. I could practically see Sister Angela seething.
I was still too shocked to remember that my trunk contained a few of my school books.
“Merry Christmas,” She called back as we came to the door, pulling it open.
“I..." I started when we were finally out if the place. I didn’t understand!
“Oh Christ I'm glad to be out of there, stuck up bitches, I thought this god person was supposed to be happy and nice," the woman said pulling out a cigarette out of nowhere and lighting it with a lighter, the thin strip sitting on her rouged lips.
“Children everywhere," the little man said wrinkling his nose as he brushed himself off.
“Darling you can't go to an orphanage and then complain about the presence of children...they were darling though, I feel awful leaving them behind..." the lady said tapping the end of her cigarette as she descended the steps, wrapped in a fur coat...they reeked of money.
I simply stood there, on the top step, staring.
“Oh...darling where did Rose go?" the woman said looking round.
I could only guess she meant me. She turned and looked at me.
“Well are you coming or not?” She asked me. I looked at her before slowly descending the steps.
“It's Iris," I said after a moment.
“Oh...whoops,” She said. I just looked at her.
“Oh dear god how rude of us! Francesco darling! You didn't tell me we hadn't introduced ourselves! Darling I'm Marie this is Francesco,” She smiled broadly.
“We're your new mummy and daddy," the guy said. I just looked at them.
"You know I imagined this rather differently...in my mind’s eye there was a lot more skipping...ah well,” She said absently.
What were...oh god I'd been kidnapped by a pair of weirdos.
“I don't skip darling," Francesco replied.
"...these things aren't important, we're going to be late to see the tailor...you can tell us all about yourself in the process," The woman beamed patting my arm. She barely looked old enough to be my mother; she was at most in her 30's. She was slim and slightly shorter than me with bright lively green eyes, blonde hair and a beauty spot above her lips. Her outfit was so totally inappropriate to be walking the streets of East London it was almost laughable. I was even rather convinced that that was in fact a diamond necklace she was sporting. She had the same air of wealth and incredible glamour as Bridgett.
“Oh darling no! I said I was driving!" Marie cried childishly as Francesco hopped into the car, clad in an extremely loud shirt, a close fitting jacket, tight trousers and long pointed leather shoes.
"You snooze you lose darling," Francesco said.
"No you didn't ask Iris if she would like to drive, she's accustomed to these things after all...would you like too?” She asked.
"...I don't know how," I said slowly.
“Oh...oh well then fine! You can drive!” She shot childishly at Francesco before moving to the back door.
“Fuck...thing won't fucking open," Marie frowned. I looked at her before stepping forward and pulling the handle, the door opening with a click.
“Oh you are a smart one,” She said before getting into the car. I stood there, deliberating whether or not to get in before sighing and clambering inside the low slung sports car, shutting the door behind me. As a child I would have loved them on their possessions alone...now however I was simply anxious.
“I don't like this car darling," Marie complained.
"You only bought it yesterday," Francesco replied.
"Live in the now darling. Now I do not like it," Marie said.
“The interiors awful,” He agreed.
“Do you even know where we're going?" Marie asked.
"...we'll find it...just out of curiosity how do you work this thing?" He asked.
“Oh well...you push the knob?” She offered. I looked at them in horror.
They didn't know how to drive...and they had a car...in the middle of London...and I was in it. Great.
“Oh kinky," Francesco said.
Marie laughed before leaning forward in her seat.
“I know you step down on that thing to stop it, I snapped a heel clean off in the process,” She told him matter of factly.
“Oh fuck this! I don't like driving muggle transport, darling I'm fucking apparat...oh,” He said.
They both turned to look at me. I just looked at them.
“Don't listen to him darling, he says the funniest things...” She started somewhat nervously.
"You're...you're a wizard?!" I cried.
“Pfft of course not! I...wait...how do you know?” He said slowly.
“Don't tell me you're a witch!" Marie cried excitedly.
“I go to Hogwarts," I said.
“Oh thank god,” She breathed relaxing back in her seat.
“I told you it wouldn't work! Darling I told you! What idiot comes up with the idea of adopting a muggle child into the wizarding world? It's psychotic darling!" the man cried throwing up his arms.
“I didn't think it through but...oh thank Merlin,” She breathed.
I couldn't help but relax slightly too.
“So...want to apparate?” She asked.
I nodded, getting out of the car as quickly as possible. A wizard driving a muggle car that they had no idea to work was not a good thing.
“This is fantastic darling!" Marie cried happily as we walked round the corner to an alley. She took my hand and her husband's before apparating.
I do have to say I greatly dislike side along apparition.
We arrived in the most plush, delicately beautiful place with pale rose coloured wall, silk furnishing, soft thick carpet and huge French windows allowing sunlight to pour in. There were changing rooms with heavy velvet curtains and then a myriad of mirror on a slightly raised platform decorated with small Christmas decorations.
“So...if you're both magical...what were you doing in a muggle orphanage?" I asked.
“Who knows darling, who knows," Francesco said shaking his head.
“I thought it may make a nice change,” She told me.
"...Err...is my surname changed or..." I said.
“Oh...well that's up to you, I did give you my surname on the papers but it doesn't have to mean anything,” She said dismissively.
"...So what is it?" I asked.
"Lynnette, Marie Lynnette,” She smiled.
...I knew that name I...oh hell no, this wasn't happening...this couldn't be happening.
“The actress?" I said. She smiled at me.
“As I matter of fact yes, I am,” She smiled at me.
She was the IDOL of every girl at school...
“And...you're not...you're not Francesco Deorte right?" I said.
“That would be I darling,” He beamed at me.
Right so I'd been adopted by the so called designer of the century and one of the most famous celebrity names in the wizarding world...well...this was...unexpected.
“I don't mean to be...I didn't know you were married," I said.
“Oh we're not, he's gay but those bints wouldn't let me adopt otherwise and I so wanted to darling,” She told me.
“I'm your Francy godmother,” He beamed at me. I simply looked at him.
“Why did you adopt me? I'm 17, according to wizarding law I'm an adult," I said.
“Well she wanted one of those drawling monstrosities you see but well...you're far prettier and far less likely to...well do things that babies do...whatever they are,” He told me.
“We wanted to give a new start," Marie said happily.
“And you're perfect," Francesco told me matter of factly.
“Oh," I said.
She beamed at me.
“Marie daaarling," a voice cried. We all turned to see a dark haired woman coming towards us, her arms outstretched.
“Eva, it's been so long," Marie replied meeting her and exchanging a series of air kisses.
“Darling you look fantastic!" Eva said.
“Oh...who's this?” She asked as her gaze fell on me where I sat awkwardly on one of the chairs.
“Oh darling this is Iris, isn't she a gem? I just adopted her," Marie beamed.
“Oh very nice darling!" Eva replied approvingly as if I were simply a new accessory.
“Anyway we need the basics fixed up for her, send it to Hogwarts will you?" Marie said.
“Of course," Eva said.
“Well off you go," Marie said pleasantly.
I moved through it all in a dream. It didn't feel real...at all.
I was measured up over and over again as we moved from place to place and no one ever once mentioned prices or any other such things.
I was bewildered but slowly I began to relax. For all their madness (they truly were mental) and eccentricity they were alright and I even found myself warming to them.
I VERY rarely warmed to anyone at that speed but I did. It was just so bloody difficult NOT too.
“And the grand finale! Your dress!" Francesco cried dramatically as we entered what felt like at least the 27th shop...well 'boutique', just as pretty as the others. I'd never been to this part of London, I could only guess it was part of the wizarding world although it was so far from Diagon alley (which had now begun to pretty much crumble due to the war) it was almost unbelievable; from where I was right then there simply WASN'T a war.
“My dress for what?" I asked.
“Oh I forgot to tell you didn't I? The Christmas party...oh and New Year’s Eve of course,” She told me.
All our shopping had apparently been either sent 'home' or to school.
I had everything from at least 10 pairs of new shoes (for the moment at least) to several night gowns and pyjamas, underwear to dresses, jewellery to jumpers, anything and everything I could have wanted or needed.
It of course still didn't appear real: things didn't happen like that. I woke up that morning in the orphanage, that afternoon I was trying on things in places where I ordinarily wouldn't have been able to set foot in.
Honestly who's adopted by a pair of rich celebrities just by chance?
Well me it would seem.
"Not that one, it's horrible," Francesco ordered as I came out of the changing room in orange floor length ball gown.
“Francesco don't be rude," Marie said nudging him, sending the lady a quick smile.
“Try the other one, the black one," Marie told me.
I moved back into the changing room, slipping off the monstrosity and donning the black fishtail dress. I just stared at myself for a moment.
Now I knew I looked good the majority of the time but...I looked...beautiful...more so than usual. It fit so perfectly it was unbelievable, hugging all the right curves.
In that moment I was even more in love with myself then I'd ever been before.
Sirius didn't know what he was fucking missing.
I grinned as I pushed aside the curtain.
“Thoughts?" I said.
“Good god darling, that's fantastic!" Marie cried jumping to her feet. Francesco moved round, glancing at it from all angles.
“It'll do,” He said.
“Oh Francesco don't be such a fucking spoil sport," Marie said whacking him.
Despite the vulgarity of some of her words somehow she managed to make the filthiest of language sound like the template for the English language, Francesco too.
“We'll take it," Marie beamed.
I ended up getting three, my beloved black dress, a rich purple and a pretty sage one.
“So enjoyed yourself?" Marie said, linking an arm through mine, a new cigarette sitting in her gloved hand. She put Ace to shame, not even he smoked that much. I smiled and nodded.
“Don't know how you didn't bloody wither in that place darling," Francesco said taking my other side.
Although a little catty I did like him, perhaps Marie a little more though. I dunno, I guess her energy was just infectious.
We apparated into a huge glitzy apartment block and I held my breath in anticipation for the sight I knew awaited me.
It didn't fail to disappoint.
It was an old elegant building, the type I loved, with seriously elaborate, incredibly overdone ornate ceilings and parquet flooring throughout. It was also huge, spanning across half of the entire top floor (which was huge!) with several balconies. The place was set over one floor, the entrance decorated with a huge oriental rug across the floor, several bookcases and a few elegant chairs, a large vase of fresh flowers standing proudly in the centre, a full body mirror and a few painting on the walls.
I just stood there as Francesco collapsed into one of the chairs while Marie dumped her bag and coat on the floor, both of which was quickly scooped up by a man in a suit.
There were three large windows against the back wall allowing the last of the daylight to spread through the room and a pair of doors parallel to one another stretching to the high ceilings.
At present there were pretty baubles spread across the main wall, each containing a little Christmasy scene which of course moved.
Suddenly Marie's voice broke through my revelry.
"Iris,” She called again.
I looked round to see a line of people all pressed in suits.
"Well everyone this is Iris, she's the new child," Marie said with a flourish. I wasn't quite sure if I was supposed to say anything.
I was then introduced to each and every one of the house staff. There were over twenty of them, each designated different duties, some live ins and others day staff or part time. There were apparently more than usual (with more expected) to deal with the predicted influx of guests during the party.
Francesco eventually had to leave halfway through my tour of my 'new home'. It felt no more my home than Buckingham palace.
With each room it grew more and more distant.
Nothing this good ever happened without something getting fucked up but apparently, in this case it wasn't true.
Marie showed me to my room last which just about blew me away.
It was unnecessarily huge, a beautiful four poster sitting in the centre, an equally beautiful writing desk and a 'changing area'. as with most of the place there was a book case and she showed me into the walk in wardrobe which already held my new purchases, all neatly pressed and hung. Each bit labelled and sectioned into seasons with a door on the right as you entered for accessories and jewellery alone. I was in heaven.
My ensuite was predictably gorgeous and ultra modern, managing, like the rest of the apartment, to strike the perfect balance between modern contemporary and old elegance.
"...So I think that's about it...oh and your balcony," Marie said moving to French windows and pushing them open, leading me onto the sizeable balcony, the busy London landscape below seeming a distant dream.
"You can do whatever you like with it really, it was guest room but it...oh,” She said in surprise when I did something extremely rare.
I hugged her. I didn't hug people let alone those I'd just met but I decided to make an exception.
"Please tell me this isn't a practical joke," I breathed.
"Of course not,” She laughed.
"This is...unbelievable," I said.
She smiled and hugged me back with a grin.
"We'll have dinner in the parlour, I'll get someone to come and get you, I'm going to go and have a bath, I'm right across the hall. You can have a wander round if you like,” She told me.
I nodded, letting go.
"Thank you," I said quietly after a moment. She looked at me before she smiled.
"Oh this is going to be so much fun! We'll do everything!" Marie cried. I couldn't help but laugh.
"Oh and you will be able to hear the doorbell from your room, you can from all the rooms so don't be alarmed, someone'll answer it,” She told me. I nodded.
"Call me if you need anything, no one bites!" She laughed.
I nodded again.
"See you later,” She said before leaving.
I just stood there for a moment before coming in off the balcony and closing the doors. It was only really then that I saw the lights of muggle London below, the darkness punctuated by the little yellow dots. I watched them for a while before turning and moving across the room to the bed...my bed...whatever, trying to wrap my hand around this whole thing. It was too good to be true. Nothing this amazing happened in real life.
I therefore went about immersing myself in a vision, checking through for any indication of anything to come but although I searched nothing particularly offensive came up. This confused me further still as I relaxed back. I'd been adopted.
Adopted into the bloody fairy princess kind of life I'd yearned for as a child.
Inside I was bubbling with happiness, I wanted to run around the place singing my heart out but...well...I didn't want to get my hopes up I guess. I'd spent so long keeping them low; finding it the best way to defeat disappointment but this...this was beyond that.
It wasn't even the beginning of it though.
Ok so first off I'd like to say that the adoption system probably really does not work like this so I'll just be claiming poetic license :P
I'm not all that happy with this chapter but this random twist is actually important so just bear with it for the moment!
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