Chapter 6 : The Tip of the Iceberg
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The Tip of the Iceberg
She wasn’t even supposed to be here. Those were the words that kept repeating in her head the moment she collided with something and fell to the ground. Hard. Ashir’s head started to spin and the past hour replayed like a video in her head. She had been alone all day in her room at the Leaky Cauldron with nothing to do but be consumed in the thoughts of her dead sister, the only person she had in the world. It had been two days since her death, two days since Ashir’s world turned completely upside down. And Diagon Alley was right there. The same Diagon Alley she had always dreamed of going to when it was finally her chance to go to Hogwarts. A dream that never happened. It was something familiar, something she could make a connection to. Benjy had ordered her to stay in the room, warning her that it would be too dangerous for her to even go downstairs. She couldn’t risk being seen by anyone that would alert her family of her whereabouts.
But she took the risk anyway. She just had to get out.
Ashir thought that she had been careful. Trailing behind large groups of people, hopping into the shadows whenever she could, keeping her long her in front of her face and facing away from the crowds. But she let her guard down when she walked into Magical Menagerie. The store was almost completely empty so she let herself walk freely, getting so consumed in all the pets she eventually forgot she was supposed to be hiding. And then in the middle of her browsing, she came face to face with the last person she ever expected to see.
It was him, she knew it immediately. Those familiar grey eyes were focused solely on her, staring at her like she was a ghost. And she knew she was staring at him exactly the same way. Ashir’s entire body felt numb; someone could have set fire to the store and she doubted she would have noticed. A tall, raven haired boy who looked to be about their age walked up next to Sirius. And then Sirius blinked. Fight or flight mode kicking in, Ashir fled. How long had he been standing there? When had he first seen her? Did he follow her in here? Or worse, was he with his parents?
Sirius. Sirius. Sirius.
And now she was trying to focus her vision from her tumble. She absolutely had to get out of this store and back to the safety of her room before Sirius could tell anyone else that he saw her. Ashir glanced up to see what she had run into and immediately jumped to her feet when she saw it was the boy with the glasses that had been with Sirius, but he was quicker than she expected. He jumped up almost in sync with her and now blocked the path to her exit. A hiss came from her right and Ashir saw the boy cast a nervous glance over at the white kitten. Acting on impulse, Ashir lunged for the cat and heard a gasping ‘No!’ before she grabbed the kitten, threw it on the boy, and ran straight for the door.
Ashir made her way through the crowd and gave silent thanks to Merlin that the whole cat thing had actually worked. As she looked for another opening, two people grabbed her and were dragging her off to a side alley that was abandoned. When they turned her around, Ashir saw that it was Sirius and his friend. Panicking, she tried to run from them again but Sirius grabbed her arms and held her in place in front of him. ‘Ashir, stop!’
It was now that she really got a good look at him. He was a couple of inches taller than she was now but his grey eyes were still the same. He was still beautiful. Ashir could see blood trickling from his hand and arms; no doubt from the owl cages she had tried to use to slow him down. She pushed down the guilt she was feeling knowing that wasn’t what she should be focusing on. Looking up at him pleadingly, Ashir tried to squirm out of his grasp. ‘Let me go, Sirius.’
Sirius was still looking at her with confusion written all over his face. ‘No, I–‘
‘Please, Sirius! Don’t take me to them,’ Ashir could feel her voice breaking from the fear and despair that was filling her gut with every passing second. Did he think she wanted to go back? He was there; he should be the one out of everyone to understand why she wouldn’t go back – couldn’t go back. Everything Capella did for her would be lost. ‘They can’t know I’m here. Please let me go. Please just forget you saw me.’
‘What?’ Sirius looked flabbergasted. Was that concern she heard in his voice? And why was he looking at her like that?
‘Ashir!’ Benjy’s rough voice caused the color to drain out of Ashir’s face. Shit. She hadn’t even thought of what his reaction to this whole situation would be. By the tone of his voice, she could tell he was already pretty furious.
‘I need to go. I’m sorry.’ Ashir choked out. If Benjy saw Sirius and his friend cornering her like this, he would start throwing curses at them right here in the middle of the alley. ‘I need to go now.’
‘Who is that?’ Sirius tightened his grip on her arms and his demeanor became darker. He looked like he was mentally preparing himself for a fight.
In one last desperate attempt, Ashir said the only words she knew might strike a nerve. ‘Just let me go, Sirius!’
The last words she had ever said to him.
Sirius’s face immediately became white and his eyes glazed over in a way she couldn’t understand. His jaw clenched as he started to loosen his grip on her arms.
The moment Ashir could get free, she took off running in the direction of the Leaky Cauldron, determined not to look back. She didn’t try hiding her face or sticking to shadows, she just did her best to get back there as fast as she could to what she hoped was the safety Benjy could provide. Hopefully she hadn’t screwed up whatever hope she had for the future she had left.
Ashir could feel her heartbeat pounding in her ears and her lungs were demanding air when she finally made it back to her room. She collapsed against the door, her head in her hands. What did she just do? Stupid. Impulsive. Reckless.
She twitched violently when the door gyrated from someone pounding on the door. Standing up slowly, she took a deep breath and braced herself.
‘Where the hell did you go?’ Benjy barked as he stormed into the room the moment she opened the door. ‘I’ve been looking for you for almost an hour!’
‘I couldn’t stand being in here anymore.’ Ashir explained as she crossed her arms. ‘I wanted to see Diagon Alley.’
Benjy ran a hand over his two-day old scruffy red beard that was starting to grow in mock understanding. ‘Oh, I see. Just thought you take a nice little stroll. See the sights.’
Ashir threw out her hands exhaustively as she sat down on the bed. ‘It wasn’t like that-'
‘I’m sorry,’ he put his hand to his chest, his light brown eyes wide in disbelief, ‘Please tell me what it was really like then. I’m sure its riveting.’
‘Why are you overreacting?’ Ashir interrogated as she narrowed her piercing amber eyes at him. ‘There’s something you haven’t told me. You knew my sister. If you tell me-'
‘Leave your sister out of this.’ Benjy’s face was getting redder as anger and frustration dripped from his voice. ‘If I’m overreacting, I have right to. Dumbledore asked me to protect you until he got here but you are making that extremely difficult. You better thank your lucky stars no one recognized you.’
Ashir’s guilty silence filled the room. ‘Actually…’
‘WHO SAW YOU?’ Benjy exploded.
A beat. ‘Sirius Black.’
Fearful that the vein that was now rapidly pulsing on his forehead might actually explode, Ashir did her best to quickly explain. ‘I don’t think he’ll tell anyone,’ she kept talking over his very audible groan, ‘He’s the one that helped me and Capella escape. He was there.’
Benjy stopped and seemed to consider this. Letting out a long breath, he pinched the bridge of his nose. ‘Dumbledore will be here later tonight. We’ll see what he has to say,’ he told her through gritted teeth. Gathering up his things, he made his way to the door. ‘Stay here.’
‘I’m sorry,’ Ashir told him as he opened the door to leave, her apologetic tone genuine.
Pausing briefly, she could hear him mumble ‘stubborn as hell just like her sister’ before leaving her alone in the room, once more a prisoner to her thoughts.
Ashir was sitting at the small table in her room, wringing her hands in her lap from anxiety as she waited for Dumbledore to arrive. Benjy had already told her a lot about him, how he was one of the greatest wizards to have ever lived and the best headmaster Hogwarts had ever seen, but what was important to Ashir was that he wanted to help her and that he could give her more understanding on what had happened to her sister and why. She knew that had always been more to why her sister had wanted to run away with her, a gut feeling they were going to come for her one day; but her dreams for a normal life always pushed those things from her mind. She was only seventeen years old, she wasn’t supposed to have already seen someone murdered and be on the run for six years. Why did Dumbledore want to help her and how did he even know who she was? And she couldn’t stop thinking about Sirius. Ashir had to know what Dumbledore thought he would do.
A small tapping came from the door and when Ashir opened it she saw an older man that had a long, white beard with a crooked nose and spectacles. His kind blue eyes were twinkling at her. ‘Ah, you must be Ms. Avery.’
‘Yes, sir.’ Ashir nodded politely.
He gave her a gracious smile. ‘My name is Professor Dumbledore. May I come in?’
She opened the door wider and he stepped in, waiting for her to close the door. ‘It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Ms. Avery. I have heard a lot about you from your sister.’
Ashir’s jaw fell open slightly in shock. ‘Capella? How?’
‘Yes.’ Dumbledore raised his hand and indicated to the small table. ‘Please, sit. I have been in contact with your sister since the two of you first decided to disappear, helping her when I could. I was headmaster when she was at Hogwarts; she was a very bright and talented witch.’
‘Yes, she was.’ Ashir agreed quietly as she rolled her lips together, her heart immediately dropping at the thought of her sister. She nodded her head in understanding. ‘That’s how you knew how to find me. But why now? Did you know those two men were coming after us?’
Dumbledore paused and instead of answering her question, he inquired one. ‘Tell me, Ms. Avery, what do you remember overhearing that night you witnessed your mother kill someone?’
Ashir closed her eyes for a moment as she tried to conjure of the memory. It was something she had repressed and tried so hard to forget that the details were hazy. ‘Something about eighteen, someone needing protection, you. I could barely hear what they were saying and what I did hear didn’t make sense to me.’
‘Capella heard more than you that night and from other nights.’ Dumbledore said, his voice calming and level. ‘She believed your father and the others had something planned for you, something they couldn’t do until you turned eighteen, something that involved very dark magic. That is why I sent Mr. Fenwick to retrieve you and your sister at this time.’
‘What do they have planned?’ Ashir asked, her voice hoarse. She could feel her lungs constricting. Her eighteenth birthday was less than a year away… Those two men were after her. Capella was dead because of her…
‘That,’ Dumbledore had a sad smile on his face, ‘I am not entirely sure of yet; and that is why I am inviting you to come to Hogwarts to attend what would be your seventh year. You will be safe at Hogwarts and there we can perhaps figure out what exactly their plan was. When is your birthday?’
Ashir tried to swallow the painful lump that was now forming in her throat. ‘March 7.’
Dumbledore nodded. ‘Until then, you would be very well protected. Hogwarts is surrounded with many powerful enchantments and even though your father or any other member of your family could possibly get in, I believe they are wise enough to not try it directly under my nose and openly expose who they are really working for.’
‘The man Benjy was telling me about.’ Ashir looked up at him in understanding. ‘The two men who killed Capella - Deatheaters, Benjy called them - men like that work for him. He believes that my family has been working for him for a very long time. He called him He Who Must Not Be Named.’
‘Lord Voldemort, is what he likes to call himself.’ Dumbledore lowered his chin and gave her a very pointed look. ‘Fear of a name creates fear of the thing itself. He is just a man, one who has been corrupted by his thirst power.’
Ashir remained quiet for a very long time, trying to absorb and process what all Dumbledore had just told her. ‘What about the others? The others my age that will be at Hogwarts, my brother… what will they do?’
‘It’s hard to say, but you mustn’t automatically lump them in the same category as their parents. Your sister is an example of that. You grew up with them, they were your friends. Do you really believe that they would wish to inflict darkness upon you?’
‘I’ve already seen one of them.’ She told him guiltily, wringing her hands together. ‘I snuck out the room yesterday. Benjy was angry but he wasn’t going to take any action until he knew your opinion. You probably know better than anyone what they might do, being the headmaster. It was Sirius Black and one of his friends. His friend was tall, with dark hair and glasses.’
Dumbledore smiled and the twinkled came back in his eyes. ‘Ah, yes, Mr. Black and Mr. Potter. Two of Hogwarts finest, actually. I can say with great certainty that giving up your location would be the last thing they would do.’
Ashir could feel the relief and hope forming in her chest. Feelings she hadn’t felt in a very long time. ‘Really?’
‘A lot has happened since you’ve been gone, Ms. Avery. Sirius was the only other person to see exactly what you saw that night and witness your departure, am I correct?’
‘Yes,’ Ashir answered hesitantly, wondering where this was going.
‘An event like that has the tendency to effect a person,’ Dumbledore looked straight at her, giving her a playful smile. Ashir nodded, feeling her cheeks get hot from her idiocy. ‘That following week, Mr. Black was sorted into Gryffindor.’ Dumbledore chuckled at the stunned looked on her face. ‘Oh, yes. I was quite shocked too. His entire family was outraged. After some more unfortunate events, wanting nothing left to do with his family, Sirius left for good. He now lives with the Potters.’
Ashir almost couldn’t believe it. Sirius wouldn’t tell anyone he saw her. He was in Gryffindor. He was good. She would have to reevaluate everything that had happened in Diagon Alley. Trying to calm the fluttering that was going on in her stomach, she started asking about the others. ‘What about Archer Greengrass? He was there that night too.’
‘Ah, but he was not looking in the window with you and Mr. Black, was he? He was taking you and Mr. Black’s word for it. And when everyone saying that Sirius was lying, that your mother was never there and that Capella had forced you to go with her, I believe he became unsure of the truth himself. Mr. Greengrass seems to distance himself from the rest of his fellow Slytherins though.’
‘And Castor?’ Ashir asked, her whole body on edge. This was the one person she had been wondering about since she had left.
Dumbledore was silent for a long time. ‘I think it would be wise that you do not try to contact your brother.’
Ashir felt numb. Castor. The brother that she loved more than anything and wanted nothing more than for him to accept her. She had wanted him to come with them. She had. She had begged Capella to wait…
‘Would you be surprised if I told you I already knew about your outing in Diagon Alley?’ Dumbledore mused as he pulled out some envelopes from his cloak, interrupting her thoughts. She looked up at him with surprise written all over her face. ‘A few hours ago, I received a,’ he smiled crookedly, ‘colorful letter from Mr. Black concerning you and your whereabouts; and another one from Mr. Potter, as well. His contained a very detailed story involving a cat.’
She laughed, giving him a guilty smile. ‘How did they know to go to you?’
‘Like I said, I found Mr. Black’s situation very curious when he first arrived at Hogwarts. I invited him to my office one day where he confided in me about what had happened that night. By then, Capella had already started contact with me and to reassure him, I told him that you both were far away and safe. I promised that if anything were to ever change, I would let him know.’
‘What was so colorful about the letter?’ She smirked, curious and moved that Sirius cared that much.
‘He explained what happened and said he understands that it is still probably too dangerous to try see you again so he demanded that I give you this letter under any circumstances.’ Dumbledore held out the letter on top to her. Her heart pounding, she took it and set it in her lap. ‘Since you already know my wishes about you attending Hogwarts, I will contact Mr. Black to let him know you he can come see you here, if you’d like. Perhaps it will even help with your decision.’
Ashir felt fluttering in her stomach. It was odd and she wasn’t sure if she liked it. ‘Yes, tell him I’d like to see him.’ To apologize for acting like a crazy person and thinking he was as bad as his parents.
‘Very well.’ Dumbledore nodded. He gave her one last smile before getting up and making his way to the door.
'Who was the boy that my mother killed?' Ashir asked suddenly. 'I've always wondered.'
'You never asked your sister?'
Letting out a sharp breath, Ashir took a moment to search for her words. 'I was only eleven when it happened. There was still a lot about that night I didn't understand, and when I did... how was I supposed to bring that up to her again?'
'He was a very remarkable wizard.' Dumbledore told her with a sad smile. 'He was muggleborn and I believe your sister loved him very much.'
'Thank you.' Ashir was quiet, looking down at her hands in her lap. 'For telling me.'
‘Thank you for your time Ms. Avery and I will expect to hear from Mr. Fenwick regarding your decision. Keep in mind that it might be impossible to stop whatever is happening on your eighteenth birthday, and ask yourself, what you would like to do with your time until then.’
With that, he was gone. Ashir was left with nothing but her letter and the overwhelming feeling that this was only the beginning of something terrible she wouldn’t ever be able to escape from.
A/N: So... the plot is going to start moving forward from here! And everything will start being from Ashir's POV from now on, until more of the main characters (three more people will have their own introductory chapter) are introduced so you can understand them better or I think its necessary for the story. There is alot going on in this story and there is alot of people involved so to be able to get everything, multiple POVs are needed. Plus, I love when a story will switch POVs every once in awhile.. it's refreshing! lol Plus I loved writing for James and I know I want to do it again. Please leave a review and tell me what you think! I would love to hear what you have to say :)
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