Chapter 4 : Hook Noses and Invitations
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I had to move on to my next novel around noon, the romance of the current one sucking the life out of me. I had a vampire novel now instead. It was about a witch who becomes a vampire and she was super bad ass. She still had a romance thing though and one of the reasons I kept reading was because there was non-descriptive smut in it and I was somehow intrigued by how the whole thing was done. Or at least of Lizzy the vampire did it with Eric the hot guy vampire.
When dinner came, I was joined by James and Remus. I looked up from my book of which I was already halfway through.
“Hey guys,” I said.
“Frank told your sister that your interested in Sirius,” Remus said quickly and flinched.
“And now your other sister knows,” James said. “They're looking for you, Girly.”
“Ah, let them look,” I said and looked back to my book.
“They got Sirius and Peter,” Remus said.
Sighing, I shut my book. “Okay, guys. Let's go...” Tucking my book under my arm, I followed them out from the kitchens. Then I had a thought, “Hey, guys? How are we going to find them?”
James sighed and looked at Remus, “Do we have to?”
“Apparently so,” Remus replied.
James brought out a piece of think paper I think was called parchment and held it in front of me. The boys looked around.
“Oh yay... A spare bit of parchment,” I said sarcastically.
James sighed and tapped paper with his wand. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
And lines started appearing on the paper. James handed me the parchment so I could read the front.
“Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs would like to present the Marauder's Map,” I read aloud. I looked at them. “Cool. So it's a map. Does it do anything else.”
“Open it,” Remus instructed.
I did. I gasped when I saw. “Oh my... Wow...”
“There they are,” Remus said, pointing at the moving footsteps that were labled my sisters. They were closely followed by two more footsteps labled Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. “Charms corridor and heading towards the library. We'll head to the Astronomy Tower.”
“What? Why?” James and I asked.
“Becuase you obviously have a love of star gazing,” Remus said. “That's where they'd look next.”
“Wow. Remus, is your real name Sherlock Holmes?” I asked him, looking innocent.
“Um... no?” Remus asked. “Who's Sherlock Holmes.”
My face grew a grin as we started to walk to the Astronomy Tower. “Sherlock Holmes is a world famous fictitious character who solves mysteries. He's a detective inspector, I think. I don't know. I'm reading a modernised version back home.”
“With the carer who does bad things?” James asked.
I froze and they took four more steps before looking back at me. “I told you about Mad Mike?”
“You also told us about times where he has nearly gotten you,” Remus said.
We started walking again.
“Let us help you,” said James. “Let us get you and your sisters out of there.”
“Not my sisters,” I grumbled.
“Why not your sisters?” Remus asked. “Surely you wouldn't leave them to be prey to that evil man?”
“No. See... I only see them in the summer,” I said and looked at the ground ahead of me instead of at either of them. “And only when I bump into them outside.”
“What do you mean?” James asked.
“They got adopted by a witch not long after Lara's third year and Hunter's first year ended,” I said.
“So... Your only family left you behind?”
“Mad Mike wasn't the carer then. We had this nice woman... But she suffered an annuerism or something and died,” I told them. We kept walking. There was a little silence which I had to break. “I want to break free from there... I really do... It's just... Where would I go?”
“Do a Sirius. Come live with me. I know my mother always wanted a daughter but she never had one,” James said.
“Oh, yeah. Just throw the muggle in with the one thing she hates most. Magic,” I scowled. “I'm sure your parents would object.”
“No. They wouldn't. James' parents are very nice, caring and compassionate people,” Remus said as we rounded a corner and bumped into the very people we were looking for.
I didn't waste any time in yanking the wrists of Sirius and Creepy Peter from Lara and Hunter who glared at the Marauders behind me.
“What do you think you're doing?” I asked, my hands on my hips.
“You shouldn't hang around these people, Ash. They're bad influences,” said Lara.
“I would have thought you'd know by now not to mess with people I like, Lara,” I growled at my older sister. I turned to Hunter. “And you. You shouldn't gossip.”
“I wasn't. I was a tattler,” Hunter said before clapping a hand over her mouth.
“You fall for that every time,” I said to her, patting her head. I glared at Lara. “Lara, I'll make my own friends. And I'll make friends with people who don't ditch me to go to lessons that don't occur on weekends.”
“Look, I'm sorry but I had to go meet someone,” Lara said.
“Oh? Well, you won't mind if I meet James and Sirius and Remus later?” I said. “You make a habit of ditching me, don't you, Lara. First you ditch me for a new home. Any other sister would have begged and pleaded and given her right arm to take both of her sisters, magical or not.”
“Look, I'm sor-” said Lara but I cut her off.
“And those plans we made every summer? What happened to them? You stood me up each time, Lara!” I said, growing angry. The boys backed off a bit. “And when I got here to come watch your stupid tournament thing, you ditched me again just so you could go see someone else!”
“Ash, I-” Lara started again.
“No. You're a bad friend, Lara. Not only a bad friend but a bad sister,” I said and turned around. I grabbed Sirius' hand and dragged him off, the other Marauders following.
I don't know where I was going but I needed to be somewhere else. Angrily, I led the Marauder's until I was undoubtedly lost. I sighed and looked at them.
“Are you okay?” Sirius asked.
“I-I'm fine,” I lied. Truthfully, I was amazed with myself. I was never like this. I was a nice person usually. Ish. But I just said those things, in front of Hunter, in front of the Marauders and, worst of all, I said them to Lara. I was glad I had though. I felt a little lighter. A little less like I hated magic.
“Come on,” Sirius said and hugged me. “Let's go find some place.”
“I want her to move in with us,” James said suddenly to Sirius.
“What?” Sirius asked.
“You remember what she said about the carer? Last night?”
“Oh. Yeah. Yeah, I remember,” Sirius said, his hug tightening considerably.
I tapped his shoulder. “Can't... breathe,” I gasped to him.
“Oh. Sorry,” Sirius apologized and let me go.
I took a deep and raw breath before swatting his arm. “What was that about?”
“I just think that man is disgusting,” Sirius said. “No one should have to put up with that or even luckily escape.”
“I know... But about my moving in, I don't think it'll be happening, guys,” I said.
“I just met you people!” I reasoned. “You don't know me very well. You only want to take me in because you feel sorry for me.”
James looked at Sirius and grinned. Sirius narrowed his eyes at his best friend. It was like an unspoken conversation was occurring. The pair ended up grinning.
“I have a solution,” James said. “Stay and let us get to know you.”
“Uhuh,. Stay. Stay where? My stay in the castle is up after Saturday,” I said, crossing my arms and jutting a hip.
“Hogsmeade!” Peter spoke up.
“Where in Hogsmeade? I have no money,” I said. “No money means no food, water, clothes or anything else I might need.”
“We could see if you could get a job waitressing at the Hog's Head?” Peter offered again.
I growled at Peter and he shrunk a little into himself.
“The Three Broomsticks?” James said, giving this stupid idea some serious thought.
“What? I'm sixteen! I'm not going to play barmaid,” I said, looking at the boys. I flicked my blonde hair from my eyes.
“There's that newly opened tea shop,” Sirius put in.
“That would be better for her. It closes at five every day so we could visit often,” Remus said.
“Okay, and even if I get a job there, where am I staying?” I asked.
“Um...” James thought aloud. “Oh! You could stay at the Three Broomsticks. We could convince Rosmerta to let you stay there until the train home from school.”
“That would be two weeks, James,” I pointed out.
“It's perfect!” Sirius said. “We could get to know you better, you can get a decent job, we can pay for your room for two weeks.”
“You're all certifiably insane! Have you all had a lobotomy?” I asked, knitting my eyebrows.
“A what?” they asked.
“It's a surgery where they cut your head open and shop some of your brain off before closing you back up. It makes you brain dead,” I told them.
“We're not brain dead so I'm going to say no we have not,” Remus said and I laughed.
“Nice one, Remus. You aren't? Well, not you, Remmy,” I joked. “But definitely James, Sirry here and Creeper- I mean Peter.”
“Creeper?” Peter asked curiously.
“Um... Yeah,” I said slowly. “Slip of the tongue. Don't think anything of it, Peter. It was only a mistake. Something that I didn't even mean to say or even think.”
“I have to go. Professor Slughorn wants to see you,” James said. “We'll take you.”
“We will?” Sirius asked, surprised.
“Yes. Yes, we will,” James said, raising an eyebrow. “Because she doesn't know where the dungeons are. Nor who Slughorn is.”
“Oh. Right. So we'll take her,” Sirius said.
“Brilliant,” Peter complimented.
“So... Shall we show the princess of the Marauders where to find the dungeons?” Sirius asked, patting my head.
I jerked my head up and went to bite him. I purposefully missed him and he jerked back just in case I'd really sink my teeth in.
“In case you boys haven't noticed, I'm no princess,” I giggled and tapped Sirius' arm playfully. I linked arms with Remus and poked my tongue out to the Marauders. “Come on then. We're off to see the wizard.”
“Uh... Which one?” Remus asked as I started to walk, pulling him.
“It's a muggle thing,” I laughed. I grinned and pulled Sirius to my other arm then barked, “James! Link on!”
“James,” I warned and James rushed to link with Sirius. “Good. Peter?”
Peter nearly fell over himself to link with Remus.
“What now?” James asked.
“Now? Now, we skip!” I said.
“Uh-uh,” Sirius said.
“Hell no!” James input.
Remus looked at Peter with wide eyes and Peter himself squeaked.
Thing is, I started skipping already, leading the four guys with me. They soon got into it when I started to sing a song from the musical The Wizard of Oz. Sure, I got the words wrong but I'm not good with song lyrics. “We're off to see the wizard! The wonderful wizard of Oz! We're off to see him because because becaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaause of the wonderful things he does!”
The boys laughed as I sang and broke away to spin like the lady from the movie A Sound of Music. I stopped and nearly fell but the boys caught me.
“I forgot why I hated you people then,” I said. “Of course, I don't hate you four. You're the exceptions to it all.”
“And why is that?” Remus asked.
“You... You guys,” I said, thinking. “You're all so damn likable! Even Peter!”
“Huh?” Peter asked.
“Nothing,” I said and poked my tongue out.
They showed me down to the dungeons where I was basically shoved into the potions classroom by the guys, Sirius and James with me, Remus and Peter following.
“Professor Slughorn?” James called and a huge walrus of a man basically materialized froma cupboard.
“Ah. Mr Potter, you brought Miss Jones. Thank you,” said the watery eyed professor. “Ah, hello, Remus. And you... Percy.”
“Peter,” Wormtail corrected miserably.
“Righto. Miss Jones, are you aware that I am having a party to celebrate the end of the Triwizard Tournament?” asked the professor. I shook my head and he continued, “Oh ho! Well, I am and you are invited. As are Mr Lupin and Mr Potter here. You may bring a guest.”
“Uh... Sirius?” I asked, looking at him. “May as well be you.”
“Uh, thanks,” Sirius said, shrugging.
“Wonderful!” clapped the professor. “Well, I'll see you four tomorrow night. Goodbye, children.”
We were ushered out and the guys looked at me. Sirius looked plain at ease and James was raising an eyebrow. Remus, as per usual, looked a little worried and Peter looked blank. I blinked back at each face. I had no idea what they were all thinking.
“That's it,” James said after a minute of them all staring. Now every one eyeballed him! What was he up to? “You are staying at my house from now on. No excuses. Nothing.”
“What? No. I'm not going to, James,” I growled.
“Ash. You're a muggle. You have sisters with magic. You're alone in the world and when you're home, you're trapped with a disgusting monster,” Sirius listed. “I agree with James. You are living with us from now on.”
“Why the bloody hell not?” Remus asked, surprising us all. He went a little pink but was otherwise keeping his determined expression.
“Because. I can't... I can't leave the others there!” I said, finally coming up with a good reason why and shadowing anything ugly in my thoughts.
“Of course... There are others...” Sirius said, thinking.
“How many?” James asked.
“I think, unless someone's been transferred in whilst I'm here, that there are... five others,” I said, counting names. “Elora, Keane, Valerie, Jem and Sophia. Note how three of them are girls.”
“Ages?” James asked as if he were plotting something.
“I hope you aren't offering them all into your home, James,” I said. I sighed and listed. “The youngest is seven. The eldest is seventeen. Not that age matters to Mad Mike.”
“No. No, I want to end it,” James said. He looked at Remus and Sirius then Peter. “Sirius? How do you feel about going to stay there for a few days to keep an eye on her as the pair of you gather information and proof?”
Sirius' eyes widened. “Wh-what?”
“What? No. Uh-uh. Not happening,” I said, shaking my head. “No.”
“Ash,” James sighed. “Look. No one deserves to be treated that way.”
“I'm not going to let him do it. I mean, what if he gets caught! And imagine what will happen to me if I got caught,” I pointed out.
“It's a chance we have to take,” Sirius said. “I'll go.”
“You're mad men!” I said dryly. “You're all mad. Mad, mad, mad, mad! Madder than a hatter!”
“Huh?” asked the boys.
I shook my head. “It doesn't matter. Look, James, as noble as this all is, what then? When you and Sirius have school, what am I going to do?”
“I could work but what would muggle money be to you people?” I asked, looking around at each face. “I can't work in the wizard world. That would be absurd. I have no magic.”
“Fine. Fine,” James said. “We're still setting you and the people there free. One way or another, we're going to stop the cruelty.”
“James... Guys...” I sighed. “Fine. Fine. We'll do that.”
I wanted to change the subject but what to? Luckily, I didn't have to.
“Oh look. It's Snivellus,” Sirius said and pointed.
The boys and myself turned to see a greasy haired, hook nosed boy trying to sneak past. He froze.
“Who's this?” I asked.
“None of your business, muggle,” said the boy. When he said the word muggle, I clearly detected the trace of disgust in his voice.
“This is Severus Snape. He's a Slytherin,” said James, sneering at the Slytherin.
“Yeah? Well, he's rude to boot. If I were that ugly, I'd hang myself,” I said, glaring. If it weren't for the Marauders being around, I'd make a comment on how freakish he was for having magic. As it was, the Marauders were laughing at what I said.
“Why would I do that? That's a cowardly muggle thing to do,” Snape snapped.
“Bad comeback,” I grinned. “You're stupid as well as ugly, I see.”
“Shut up,” said Snape, glaring at me. Quicker than my eyes could detect, he had a wand in his hand. But the Marauders were quicker.
“Expelliarmus!” Remus called out and Snape's wand flew from his hand.
I caught a look of pure terror on Snape's face and I stopped my grinning.
“Levicorpus!” James called out and Snape was magically lifted by the ankle.
Snape looked even more scared now.
“No,” I said quietly. Then again, louder this time. “No. James, stop it. Let him down.”
“What? He was going to hex you!” James argued.
“Sirius,” I said, looking at my friend.
Sirius looked me in the eye and sighed. “James? Let him down. Please. For her.”
James sighed and pointed his wand again. “Finite incantatem.”
Severus dropped and looked up. He scowled at us all.
“You're lucky our friend is more compassionate than we are,” Sirius called to him, taking me by the shoulder and leading me away.
“I don't need compassion from a filthy muggle,” he said.
“Dog Star,” I growled.
“Come on, Padfoot,” Remus said, taking his shoulder and turning him around.
“Sirius, come on,” I said and pulled him with me.
I demanded they explain themselves. I wanted to know why Snape feared them. I wanted to know why Snape hated the Marauders. I wanted to know where their reputations had come from. I wanted to know everything. And they explained in detail for me. I made sure they left nothing out by asking Remus.
“So you've always hated him and he's always hated you,” I recounted. “For no real apparent reason?”
“None at all,” James said.
“I don't like him,” I sighed. We'd gone to my room after the show of magic.
“Then why did you make us stop?” Peter asked.
“Because. I saw how terrified he was. I could relate. Mad Mike, remember?” I said.
“Oh,” said the boys quietly.
“I don't like seeing it,” I said. “Just... Try not to do that kind of thing around me? I don't need more nightmares.”
“Nightmares...” Sirius repeated softly.
"Come on,” I said. “I'm already mourning tomorrow. Sirius, what am I supposed to wear to this party thing? Remus, any ideas?”
“It doesn't matter. We can always transfigure your clothes for you anyway,” James said, looking out the window.
“We're meant to wear dress robes,” Remus told me. “That means we wear these special robes and the ladies can wear pretty dresses.”
"Oh great,” I said, frowning. “I hate dresses.”
“You wear skirts, don't you?” Remus asked.
“They're the furthest I go, really,” I said. “I've never really loved skirts and I've always loathed dresses. With a burning passion of a thousand suns.”
“Poetic,” Sirius said.
“I think I just quoted Shakespeare,” I shrugged.
“So you don't own any dresses? At all?” James asked.
“Nope,” I said, shaking my head.
“We can ask Hunter,” Remus said. “We all know she's got some nice dresses. A little transfiguring and it'll fit Ash just fine.”
“Oh sure. Ask my sister,” I said sarcastically. I rolled my eyes. “Remus, they hate you guys, remember?”
“I tutor your sister on occasion. She owes me,” Remus grinned.
“Tutor?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“She sometimes struggles with Defence Against the Dark Arts,” Remus said.
“Ah,” I said, not really understanding. “Will this work?”
“Of course it will,” Sirius beamed.
“No doubt about it,” James input.
Credit to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for Sherlock Holmes.
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