Chapter 17 : Door Number Three
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Sitting on the lush green ground staring at the damaged bridge and the red steam engine that had just been removed from its precarious position above the deep English country valley, Ryu was beginning to feel her strength return. She still had no idea what had happened back there, or exactly why watching life wane from Rachele’s body had caused her to lose cognitive control over her abilities triggering her to absorb so much magic that it practically burnt her inside out. Nevertheless, that frankly wasn’t even on her mind right now.
While conversing with and observing the deplorable physical condition of her friends sprawled out on the grass around her, her concentration was only half there. Off in the distance she could see where the Aurors had herded the captured Death Eaters, and looking back and forth between them and her injured friends, and thinking about all the new questions and dangers that she now had to consider, rage began to build up.
She could hear herself talking, giving an explanation of her feelings to her friends regarding recent event, but nothing was really registering until she felt herself standing up saying, “but there is something I have to do first…”
She could hear her friends echoing questions after her as she walked away from them, but her gaze was fixed and everything else was just white noise around her. She was going to get answers.
As she drew closer and closer to her destination, she saw the Aurors begin to notice her, first with whispers accompanied with pointing in her direction, then by approaching her.
“I’m sorry Ms. East but we can’t let you go any closer.” Said a young looking African man who had a dangerous look about him. He blocked her path.
She met his gaze levelly, “I really have no interest in causing you difficulties, but I need to know the faces of these people. I need to know who I should be wary of.”
The man studied her for a moment then began shaking his head, “I’m sorry but it isn’t safe, I just can’t—“
A man with the look of authority about him cut him off, “Kingsley, let the lass have her look.”, he was sporting what looked to be an enlarged glass eye, a peg leg, and a cane.
The man named Kingsley stepped aside, and Ryu made her way to the line of prisoners and down the line, making sure to make eye contact with each individual man or woman. Most shied away from her gaze, but one familiar set of intelligent green eyes met her own and made her pause. She felt her pupils dilate as her eyelids narrowed and her nostrils flared. “This is the man who tried to kill me on the bridge.” She said barely containing her anger and turning herself towards the man with the cane only to whip back around at the sound of the captives laughter.
The man had a guileful knowing glint in his own eyes, present within a pleased expression. He stared her in the face refusing to lose eye contact. “If that’s what you want to believe, then by all means…” he said nonchalantly.
Confusions swept over her momentarily. Was the man implying he hadn’t tried to kill her? She was more than sure that the eyes behind the mask on the bridge were his, and she thought she could recall reading the killing curse on his lips, but could she have been mistaken?
She was brought back from her thoughts as the captive received a kicked to the gut from a wooden leg “Keep your mouth shut Rosier, consider it practice for Azkaban.”
The prisoner only laughed again after his breath came back to him. Then he turned his gaze back to Ryu and his expression transformed into a wickedly pleased smirk. “We won’t be making it Azkaban, there’s no need for practice.”
She could feel herself snarling, and sizing him up. He was a burly man with the look of strength about him and a dark attractive coloring that was only interrupted by his bright green eyes. He couldn’t be more than a handful of years older than herself. She took a step towards him her intentions deadly but was met with the end of Moody’s cane, and a happy chuckle from the man in chains.
“Please do me your worst,” he said in an audaciously scathing smooth deep voice. “Hell, if you could manage to torture one of us it might just be enough for the Wizengamot to exile you from the Wizarding community, it would be a great help!” His smirk was infuriating but disappeared almost instantly only to be replaced by contempt as he continued to speak, this time repugnance thick in his voice. “Do you really think that your petty little threats compare with what we face once the Dark Lord hears of our failure?!”
She did her best to restrain herself from describing exactly what she wanted to do to each and every one of them, and how anything Voldemort could imagine would pale in comparison, but instead she took a calculated step backwards not wanting to let him get the best for her. She turned and walked away making herself be done wit the situation. She got what she came for and wouldn’t give him what he wanted
Looking around the English countryside she could no longer see her friends sitting beneath the large oak that was just off of the bridge. Instead, just atop the next hill, she could see steam emitting from the spout of the red train where students were beginning to pile back on. She paused momentarily dreading boarding once again but noticed Sirius sidle up next to her.
Sirius had to give her a little nudge in the right direction. “I told everyone else to go get us our cabin. We should be going to meet them.”
Ryu nodded still reluctant to go, but acquiesced on account of the presence of her friends.
“You ran off just as boarding started. Everyone wanted to come after to stop you, but Lily Dina and Rebecca thought for some reason I’d be the best candidate…” he laughed as if it were absurd. Ryu on the otherhand cringed a bit inside “Anyways, did you get what you needed out of that?”
Ryu shrugged, “I guess,” she let out a deep breath, “But I always come out with more questions. Do you know anything about someone called Rosier?”
Sirius visibly tensed. “Thankfully no, my parents know him much more personally than I’d like to admit however. But I could find out some information if you’d like”
She could feel her dark mood diffusing into him and tried to shake herself out of her funk as best she could. For what seemed the first time in hours, some semblance of a genuine smile crossed Ryu’s face and she threw his arm over her shoulders leaning into him. The presence of a friend in a harry situation was always comforting, and upon hearing his words and promise to be there for her to help, a new love for him flooded through her. Finally, she let go of her concerns and surrendered to the feelings that she experienced every time he touched her. She didn’t pay attention to her weak knees and the fact that her whole body felt like jelly. She let her heart race and her tingling skin grow warm as her breath began coming out in heavy exhales. She reveled in the feeling and let it bring her consolation rather than the perplexing fear of the unfamiliar. For the first time she felt like she knew her place in the world, and for the first time she felt as if she knew what it was like to be home.
Sirius was ecstatic to feel her body finally relax, and it brought him joy to know he could provide that for her. However, it didn’t go unnoticed that the minute she had let the tension fade from her body, he began to feel himself flooded by an indescribable internal warmth that was both intoxicating and addicting. It didn’t help that he felt invincible, like he had some newfound strength, or that he seemed somehow more aware of everything. He had never felt so capable or in control in his entire life and it brought with it a sense of uneasiness. Even so, the strange sensation was welcome and was accompanied by the usual heat and same thrilling stimulation of the skin that made him yearn to touch Ryu ever since he discovered it. He didn’t know what or why these feelings were happening, but he had never experienced anything like it and he never wanted it to go away. It filled him with a sense of purpose and life that he thought he would forever lack due to the void in his life with respect to family. He too felt like he was home.
For the entirety of the three hundred meters they had to walk to get to the train, they both marveled at the feelings they were experiencing, and when it was time to board the train, they paused reluctant to let go before finally doing so and coming back down to reality.
As all of the emotions and worries that had been plaguing her jolted her back to the reality outside of Sirius’s bewildering touch, she sighed and grasped the railing of the newly repaired caboose walkway and climbed aboard, Sirius behind her.
Grasping the handle ready to enter the train corridor, she paused trying to collect herself. She felt as if she were unable to step foot inside, tears were threatening to fall and the memory of it all was so fresh in her mind. Hours before she had been standing on the other side of this door, Rachele next to her, looking out at a crowd of bloodthirsty Death Eaters and trying to figure out a way to come out of it all alive. Now she was constantly in threat of a mental break down and seemed incapable of even grasping the handle. Luckily Sirius was there to put his hand over her own and bring back the awareness that she wasn’t alone. He assisted her with what, before today, was normally an action that required no thinking. Together they opened the door and stepped into the corridor.
The hallway was empty except for teachers who seemed to be herding students into cabins. McGonagall was there as they entered and she walked up to greet them. “I do believe you are the last two Mr. Black and Ms. East. Once you find your cabin we should be on our way.” Sirius nodded and, grabbing Ryu’s hand seeing the desperately blank look in her eyes, tried to step around their Head of House. She stopped them placing a hand on Ryu’s shoulder seeming slightly uncertain, but looking as if she had to say something. “It is my understanding that because of your group of friends many lives were saved today.” She paused trying to gauge the startled but tired looks on their faces, she looked a bit uncomfortable but continued. “While I am deeply saddened that you were forced into the position that you were, I couldn’t be more proud of the way you conducted yourself and how you refused to let the situation overwhelm you. I think you’ll find that the rest of the school is in consensus.” She paused to let her words sink in but she seemed choked up as she went on. “Never have I been privileged with students so befitting of the House Gryffindor. You have done the school and the Wizarding Community a great service and you have our gratitude.” The graying teacher nodded to herself as if she was happy to have voiced her opinion and get it off her chest, but just as quickly she gathered herself and was back to her normally strict and prickly disposition. “Now off with you. The sooner you find your compartment the sooner we will get to Kings Cross.”
Sirius and Ryu didn’t hesitate for the chance to leave. Having McGonagall thank them was awkward at the very least, especially for Sirius who was used to the woman grabbing him by the ear and dragging him to her office for harsh lectures about conduct.
The whole day had been rather awkward and horrifying, and they really just wanted to put it behind them. They walked at a hasty speed past all the other professors, many of whom felt the need to incline their heads to them ever so slightly in respect, looking into various cabins for the presence of their friends.
They found everyone towards the middle of the train. The compartment was crowded beyond belief with limbs and bodies overlapping on either seat and Leeham seated on the floor. To the left Amos was practically using Dina as a blanket while Jason found Sonny’s breasts a comfortable pillow; apparently she was too exhausted to care. To the right Remus was seated next to the window with Peter next to him and Rebecca stretched out over both of them. James was alongside Peter, and had the privilege of having Rebecca’s feet in his lap while Lily was squeezed in beside him, her head resting against the corridor window and her legs crossed to take up less room.
They all looked brow beaten, and the lot of them had bandages and poultices about various parts of their bodies. Yet, although no words were being spoken and they were a bit worse for the wear and lacking energy, there was a spirit of camaraderie that could be felt within the cabin, and just looking around you could tell that friendship ran deep; these people loved each other.
Before Ryu took a seat on the ground with her back to the door next to Sirius, she went around to each of her friends removing their bandages without a word, although with some protest and painful hissing, and probed them, like she had done Sirius, repairing cells and healing injuries. No one really said anything except to mumble brief and surprised thanks, everyone was pretty stunned and needed time to process. Ryu was grateful for the time to think, but it was interrupted just as the train began to move when she felt the door sliding open on her back.
Dreading seeing who it was, and hoping beyond all hope that she could avoid Dumbledore for the entirety of the ride, she, along with Sirius, craned their necks to look behind them only to see Alton peeking through partially open door. Before the little boy knew what was going on Sirius had hooked an arm about his waist and was pulling him playfully into the cabin and into his arms. “Glad to see you’re alright.” He said embracing the boy before setting him on his feet and pushing him towards Ryu’s open arms.
The boy fell right into her arms for a big hug and she could feel him intake a large breath preparing to ask a million questions. Knowing what was coming, she beat him to the punch softly saying, “I’ll tell you everything Alton, just not right now. Once we get to the house, okay? I need some time to think and rest.” The boy nodded and crawled out of her arms to take up residence next to the now snoring Leeham. After that it was as if someone had pumped sleeping gas into the chamber. Everyone was out like a light and in good company for the duration of the ride to King’s Cross.
Waking up Ryu was hoping to feel refreshed, but all she could feel was numb. Sure, somewhere under the surface was rage, and pain, and torment, and more than anything frustration, but she was far too tired to acknowledge any of that at the moment. Sleep was supposed to bring her calm and acceptance, she was among friends and it was the beginning of summer, but it didn’t. She should’ve been beyond happy, but that was just unrealistic at this point. If anything, sleep had made her wearier. She wasn’t going to shake these feelings any time soon and she wasn’t going to forget what happened.
Even so, exiting the train felt therapeutic. They had made it with no further hiccups and it was no longer her responsibility to protect everyone, although if anything further happened she would. She was just pleased to be away from a situation where people could get hurt because of the madmen after her. She really couldn’t get off of the train fast enough. Nevertheless, sitting at Kings Cross Station watching shaken students embracing frightened and disturbed parents as they hurriedly gathered belongings and rushed away from the platform in a whirlwind of panicked chaos, didn’t really help to breed calm within her. All she wanted to do was get in a room by herself and vent; to get rid of these feelings as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t in the cards.
Sirius, Sid, and herself were surrounded by a group of wary apprehensive Aurors, and rightfully so considering what she had happened hours early, who were instructed to protect them at all costs and not to let them leave until Dumbledore returned from talking with Rachele’s Parents. Her other friends had left one by one, Alton to a Ministry safe house, with promises to visit as soon as the next day. And everyone’s worried parents had insisted on getting as far away from Kings Cross and the threat of any more possible attacks immediately, and Ryu could understand that. She herself had contemplated petrifying her Ministry guards in order to escape the questions that surely were to come, not to mention the suffocating atmosphere they brought with them which radiated eminent danger even in the calmest of situation. However remembering what had happened earlier she thought better of it on account of her upcoming and already dubious visit with the Wizengamot.
Before long platform Nine and three quarters was eerily barren, and Ryu had a clear view of where Dumbledore stood facing two figures whose bodies were wracked with the unmistakable shake of sobs. Their heads were hung low while embracing one another listening to the words of the man in front of them. Ryu looked away in pain feeling as if she were intruding as soon as she glanced at Rachele’s Parents. She desperately felt like she owed them an explanation of her own, but knew she might loose it if she approached them. Instead she waited as patiently as she could. It wasn’t long before she felt both Sirius and Sid stand up next to her. When she glanced up, she had mixed feelings upon seeing Dumbledore approaching.
As he drew nearer he began to speak, obviously worn out and with the usual sparkle vacant from his normally smiling blue eyes. “I apologize for delaying the departure to your new home, but some matters must be dealt with immediately because they cannot afford to be brushed aside. Regrettably, this was one of those sensitive instances.” He took a deep breath scanning everyone in the vicinity in case they had something they wanted to say. Nothing came up so he began again. “I believe discussion of the happenings of this day won’t be of any use until we have all had time to digest it properly, and as such I see no further reason to postpone the trip to your new dwellings. I had originally arranged for passage by way of Muggle automobiles, considering Ryu’s history with Wizarding forms of transportation, but in lieu of the events of today I think it might be best to forgo my preparations and Apparate so as to avoid further mishaps. Of course I recognize what this means to you Ryu but—“
Ryu held up a hand interrupting him in agreement with where his thoughts were headed, “Whatever Professor, just get me home.”
“Right,” said Dumbledore turning to Moody. “Is everything at our destination in order and prepared for our arrival Alastor? It is imperative that we avoid any further misfortune.” Dumbledore told the fellow.
The rugged man harrumphed before answering in a low gruff tone, “Why don’t you tell me if everything is in order Albus? Or do you take me for the type of fool who believes you didn’t take precautions yourself before asking me to take my own?”
A glimmer of the usual sparkle returned to Dumbledore’s eyes. “Of course.” He nodded to the man. “Take your Aurors ahead and do a sweep of the house. We will follow shortly and Apparate onto the pitch to wait for you there.” The man called Alastor nodded and was gone with a pop that was followed by several more as all of the Aurors followed suite. Once all of their guards were gone Dumbledore turned to Sid. “Ryu and Sirius can both sidelong with me, I believe you know the way yourself Sid?”
The real estate agent nodded his head “Yes I sure do.” With another pop he too disappeared.
With all the Appartation going on around her, Ryu couldn’t help but feel a lump developing in her throat. Nevertheless, she drew closer to both Sirius and Dumbledore in order to leave Kings Cross, and hopefully recent events, behind. Before she knew it she felt a sickening pull at the base of her stomach followed immediately by loss of consciousness.
Waking up delirious, the first thing that registered was the crisp earthy smell of grass and the wretched sharp smell of vomit. “Great” she grumbled as she felt someone helping her up “I puked again”. She was agitated before even opening her sensitive eyes to the sun, but once she finally did she felt herself losing her stomach again, only this time it was mostly blood.
“Merlin!” said the familiar voice of Sid from behind her as he assisted in keeping her standing. “Are you alright?” he asked concerned.
“Bloody spiffing.” She replied bitterly as she wiped her mouth clean of the sick. It didn’t help her mood at all that the Aurors were standing in the background looking rather smug. She was about to give them a piece of her mind when she choked on her words finally taking in her surroundings, mouth agape.
She was standing in the middle of a well manicured Quidditch pitch , three glimmering golden hoops of differing height at either end accompanied by flags indicating which way the wind was blowing. Off to her right were softly undulating perfectly green grass hills leading to where she could see three good sized ranch style houses nestled into a charming little clearing in the distance and surrounded by woods beyond that. Looking to her left her eyes met slightly pinkish granite stone cliffs which towered hundreds of meters over the pitch, and as her eyes climbed upward, she was surprised to distinguish windows within the rock along with carved out stands near the top.
While the stands might have been a surprise, the monstrosity of a house looming over them was almost too much to handle. Craning her neck to gaze up at her new domain she found herself taking steps back trying to take it all in. She knew she must look like a gaped mouth fool but she really didn’t care at that moment.
“Good bloody gracious Merlin.” She found herself whispering to no one in particular. This was the house?!? It was two-thirds the size of Hogwarts! It definitely wasn’t this big in the pictures! Or at least she didn’t remember thinking so. “Who needs this much room?” she said almost revolted with her purchase. “It’s a bit bloody overkill! Honestly! How am I supposed to keep this place clean?” Of course she should have been excited, what teenage girl wouldn’t be ecstatic to find themselves richer than the Queen of Sheba with the most gargantuan house they could find? But all the responsibility of trying to maintain the condition of the house was the only thing she could dwell on. This was going to be a nightmare! Suddenly she was dreading to see the inside, and you could visibly tell as her shoulders slumped and her expression turned from stunned, to sullen and pouty in a matter of seconds. “Alright lets get this over with,” she said more to herself than anyone else. She turned to Sid, “Let’s see how much work I just bought for myself.”
Sid smirked at her choice of words and chided her. “Quite a lot of work actually,” he opted to offer no comfort, “If you’d just follow me we’ll make our way up to the main house, unless you’d like to take a look at the training facilities and locker rooms first.”
There was a slight whimpering that could be heard off to the side when Sid mentioned the Quidditch extras, and when Ryu turned, she saw Sirius just behind her eyes wide, pupils huge, and practically drooling from how astounded he was at what he was hearing and seeing. It was as if he had just seen Melinda Tarehare naked in Playwitch for the first time, and it made her roll her eyes in disgust. Wasn’t this just all a bit over done? Apparently Sirius didn’t think so. “You can give Sirius a private tour of all that rubbish later so I don’t have to witness him pee his pants in excitement.” She was happy to see her snide comment had brought him to his senses seeing as he was now glaring at her, albeit childishly. She smiled smugly seeing Sid, as well as a few Aurors, having to hide chuckles behind their hands to remain professional and composed. “Let’s just start off simple and do an inventory of exactly how many rooms I won’t be using first… Shall we?” she said once again addressing Sid directly and motioning with her hands for the Real Estate agent to lead the way. He happily obliged.
Sid guided the group towards the granite bluff in front of them, and as they drew closer, Ryu began to notice what looked to be a cave. Right before she was about to ask exactly where they were headed Sid began to explain. “The tunnel we are headed for goes deep into the rock and under the house. The previous owners meant it to be the players entrance to the stadium but it serves as our entrance into the house via lift as well. The lift itself, as you will see, bottoms out here at the Quidditch Pitch, but it also stops at the locker room levels within the rock, the garden and stands levels just above that, as well as all floors of the main house including the attic. You will find that the cave itself may seem a bit dreary and undecorated but it was designed to mimic the players entrances of professional Quidditch league stadiums, plus it is self-cleaning which I am sure you will find useful once your friends start taking advantage of the pitch.” Ryu must have had a weird look on her face after hearing that the tunnel was self-cleaning because Sid jumped back away from her as if he thought she was going to be sick again. He actually offered to postpone the tour until she was feeing okay.
She was in fact feeling fine, she just never thought she’d hear of such ridiculous frivolousness. Really, a self-cleaning tunnel?! Who comes up with this shite? “I’m fine, just a bit grossed out by how this place has been designed to make people lazy, please continue on with the tour.” She said sarcastically.
It was Sids turn to roll his eyes, “Well then I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that the lift has been designed with ease in mind as well. No waiting is necessary, a platform will appear as soon as a person steps into the column.” Ryu wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, but as they approached a spot in the tunnel where she could begin to see the ceiling opening up, a platform, which looked like an oversized gigantic gleaming baroque breakfast tray, appeared out of thin air. It was decorated in gold gilded intricate and gaudy metal scroll work and inlaid with green onyx tile. Hovering there in the middle of the tunnel, a small golden stairway unfolded for ease of entrance, it appeared odd and was in stark contrast to the gloominess of the space it occupied. Everyone but Sirius and herself stepped onto it in stride, they were both to busy gaping at the gaudy thing that had materialized in front of them. Even so, Sirius was the first to collect himself, although he did so with a giddy squeal and bit of skip as he hopped onto the deck to join the others. Ryu followed suite, only she was looking at Sirius now as if he had grown horns.
Once Ryu had joined the others on the lift, it began to accelerate upwards immediately, and Sid once again began explanation. “You need only to think about your destination and the platform will know when to go and when to stop. I am taking us to the attic, which is the seventh floor, so we can work our way down rather than walking up multiple flights of stairs. Unlike the Victorian nature of the rest of the house, the attic is mainly for storage but it also houses quarters for House Elves should you wish to acquire some.”
Sirius couldn’t contain himself, “Hmpft—“ he burst out just managing to swallow his chuckle thinking of the kitchens incidenr, “That’s rich, Ryu is not a fan of House Elves.”
Sid looked to Ryu curiously, trying to see if what Sirius had said had any validity. She shook her head at him indicating she wasn’t willing to speak about it and elbowed Sirius in the ribs hard. “Don’t ask.” She told Sid after she heard Sirius double over clutching his side.
Sid just shrugged and stepped off the platform into the attic, and into what almost looked like an abandon orphanage. The attic was long and wide with different hallways intersecting at odd angles. It was a large but unfinished looking space with slat lath walls, little insulation, and just old and unsealed wood planks for floors. What with all the dirty, under sized, rod iron beds lining the walls, equipped with miniature bed side washing basins between every other one, Ryu almost thought she was ten years old and back in London. Needless to say she was dying to get out of there and was all too happy when Sid, saying there wasn’t really much else to see, guided them towards a very rickety looking set of descending stairs. One by one they filed down, Sid leading the way.
Stepping out into the sixth floor hallway, Ryu’s eyes were once again bulging out of her head. She was trying to take everything in while still listening to Sid. It was more of a challenge than she ever thought possible, there were things to see absolutely everywhere.
“As you can see the hallway ceilings are enchanted to mimic the sky as it can be seen without a roof overhead, much like the Great Hall at Hogwarts. In fact, and correct me if I’m wrong Albus, it is the same enchantment as that used in the Great Hall.” Once Dumbledore corroborated his words with a nod, Sid kept going validated “The chandeliers that you see hanging every three meters, and their staggered sconce counter parts between them on the walls, are fourteenth century Murano Glass creations. There are over three hundred total through out the house, and each floor sports a different color and style, this one being violet and relatively utilitarian. You may also notice the detailed yet restrained natural lacquered wood paneling lining the lower half of the walls, as well as the slightly golden hued metallic plaster above. On this floor the walls remain unpainted and without wallpaper as a means to let the art decorating the floor take center stage. On other floors you will see otherwise. The huge eccentric night themed paintings taking center stage themselves are a collection of eighteen stylized Minthoreau’s depicting the death of Morgane. Luckily they are highly sought after by Wizarding museums and collectors all over the world in case they are not your cup of tea.” He paused for a moment then began walking down the hallway ushering the others to follow.
“Moving along, the console tables that you see placed sporadically along this hallway, and the hallways throughout the house, are antiques and so are the various knick knacks and lamps that that decorate their tops. I’m sure you noticed the carpets as they are magnificent. They are actually made of spun unicorn hair, which gives it the sheen and iridescence you might be noticing, as well as that of fur from the Asenian wolf warriors of Turkey, which contributes to its great durability. The violet and gold scroll design, although intricate, is quite a bit less elaborate than the carpeting on other floors, this is again because the owners intention was to give this hallway more of a gallery type of feel and highlight the collection of paintings. Also on this floor are four of the seventeen bedrooms, each with their own bathrooms, the observatory and planetarium, as well as a unique Morrocan inspired sunken living room configuration, which is really more of a big luxurious bed, that is situated where the two hallways intersect near the grand staircase. The bedrooms and bathrooms are all uniquely spectacular, but to save time, I’ll let you explore them on your own. We are approaching the end of this wing and the main staircase now. Peak down the other hallway if you’d like, its identical, only perpendicular to this one” Sid stopped his explanation and stepped off to the side as the hallway ended, opening up into a gargantuan domed octagon from which the other corridor sprouted.
The dome itself, rather than sporting the same enchantment as the hallways, was plastered with the same metallic gold as the corridor walls. It was stunning in concert with the hundreds of enchanted floating Moroccan lanterns, that cast moving geometric shadows onto the gold dome centered above the seating area.
What Sid had described as a sunken living room looked more like a cushy, bi-level bouncy pit to Ryu. The semi-circular seating arrangement facing the magnificent banister to look down upon the descending grand spiral staircase, consisted of deep purple tufted silk back and bottom cushions, as well as a cushion of the same material covering the only slightly lower floor. What seemed to be thousands of different but brightly colored, and geometrically patterned pillows were piled around the seats just begging for someone to jump in and throw them about. The whole thing screamed lap of luxury, but then again so did the rest of the house.
To the left of the seating area, at the mouth of the hallway they had just come from, the ornate lift hovered in mid-air waiting for them and now actually looking as if it fit in. Next to the lift, and opposite the grand staircase, were two stairs leading up to a set of huge Gold doors, which Ryu was told were modeled after the Muggle Ghiberti’s Doors but with scenes from Wizarding lore rather than Muggle religion. The doors were said to lead into the planetarium, which doubled as an observatory. Ryu was just happy to hear the owners had decided to be infinitesimally frugal by giving something a dual purpose, even if it was a no brainer.
The grand staircase was something in and of itself. The banister was at least a foot and a half wide and seemed to meld seamlessly into the thick spindles almost looking as if it were one continuous piece of dark wood. Just looking at its haphazard and elegant design, it seemed alive and a creature of the house. It was so beautiful Ryu was afraid to touch it, and instead she just stared mesmerized.
Before she realized Sid had been talking, she saw everyone heading down stairs to the fifth floor and joined them. Coming around the easy bend in the large spiral staircase, Ryu watched the gold plaster on the walls transition into sky blue until at the very bottom her breathe caught in her throat and she nearly fell down the stairs.
Not only was the ceiling enchanted to look like the outdoors, so were all the walls and paneling. The chandeliers here were all white and crystal and lent a sun-like light to the lively country meadow scene stretching across the walls. All the antique furniture and paintings seemed to fit the scene in that they were constructed to look natural or depicted a similar scene themselves.
Ryu had to shake herself from her thoughts in order to realize she was being talked to. “Wha?” she said only half forming the word. Her eyes were still trying to grasp that she wasn’t actually outside.
Sid chuckled, “Pardon to interrupt your thoughts, I was just saying that this floor has ten bedrooms and one bathroom. It was originally designed with the previous owners young daughter in mind, but that is pretty much it. I was planning on continuing on, there is a lot more to see, unless of course you want to explore further.”
“No no, if its all just bedrooms, I’ll look around later after a nap,” She insisted. “Please, keep leading the way.”
Sid happily nodded and grabbed the banister to lead the group down one more flight of stairs. “Now, the fourth floor is where the master suite is located, but the unique thing about it is there are really three master suites. There are three rooms on this floor, all similar in size and each with their very own Turkish style bath. We’ll take a look at the one I believe is intended to be the Owners because of its remarkable view over the cliffs and garden, but first we’ll see the antechamber to the rooms.”
Coming down the spiral staircase Ryu watched as the walls faded once again, but this time into a rich orange amber color that was warmed up and complimented even more by brown glass sconces, and a dramatic and elegant hanging glass sculptural chandelier consisting of bits of mirror and crystal cascading from the ceiling in an intersecting spiral pattern. The floors were glossy varnished walnut hardwood, but the seating arrangement occupying the space contained a snow white shag carpet, a champagne colored, tufted silk upholstered, antique sofa with bright yellow patterned throw pillows and spindly dark wood legs matching that of those on the two coral colored leather wingback chairs and tray mirror side tables. Three floor to ceiling mirrors, which were actually doors leading to the suites, helped to reflect what little light there was in the cozy sleek room and create an elegant atmosphere. Seeing the antechamber, Ryu could now feel herself anticipating what was behind those doors.
When she set foot in the room she wasn’t disappointed. Sid picked right back up explaining everything as she took it in. “Now, the rooms do have the same dark hardwood that you saw out in the antechamber, but the fur rug your seeing is actually the same unicorn hair and Asenian wolf fur carpet from before only this time it is designed to look like one large pelt. You will also be glad to hear that it has been charmed not to lose its fluff and to sense and prevent dirt and spills from ruining its white color. The room is pretty plain in term of its palette, however the owners did chose to add pops of color here and there. While the walls are white and the paneling is black lacquer, the chandeliers are chartreuse as is the border stripe on the black velvet drapery edging the six massive windows, as well as the damask throw pillows on the bed. This colossal king size four poster ebony bed, is covered in a bright white linen duvet and a warm brown fur blanket across the base near the foot where a black leather autumn serves as a place to put on shoes or what not in the morning. You of course have an armoire, as well as a chest of drawers in the same style as the bed, but what I really think you’ll be excited about is this way.” He said as he walked towards a white lacquered door. Ryu followed eager to see what she was supposed to be especially anxious about considering the whole house was astounding.
When she walked into the bathroom she nearly dropped to her knees. She felt like she had the wind knocked out of her. In front of her was a stark Carrera marble white arched column room in the center of which was a deep crystal blue bathing pool with a faucet that dripped three steady streams of water from the ceiling. The ceiling itself even radiated light like a faux skylight. Feeling giddy she practically skipped to the back where she thought she saw the shower.
The shower was huge and fully inlaid with marble. The ceiling had little holes all over half of it in order to imitate rain, and its glass door was air tight so the room could double as a steam room. She literally thought she could probably fit six people in there comfortably.
Coming back out of the shower, she decided to venture off to left side of the columns and bathing pool, where she found an entrance into a gargantuan three-room mahogany closet. After getting lost in all the shoe possibilities, and deciding she needed more clothes, she finally found her way out only to visit the twelve foot long white marble vanity and sink area on the other side of the pool and columns, before exiting the room behind Sid and following him down the next flight of stairs and to the next floor. Her excitement about seeing the rest of the house was the only thing that prevented her from kicking everyone out right then and there to relax in her new spa for the rest of the night.
With a nice long bath in the back of her mind, Ryu was only half listening to what Sid was saying about the third floor. “I imagine this is probably the floor you’ll be spending most of your time in. It has a rather open layout on the cliff facing wing which houses a gentlemen’s club style living area complete with thirty seat wet bar and billiard area, while the pool facing wing houses a praiseworthy library, as well as a study, and a smoking room. Like I said, I think this will be the floor you spend most of your time on considering it is probably one of the more comfortable and less formal areas, so take a quick look peek around and I’ll quickly show you the last two floors and patio areas before you retire.”
Sleep was sounding more and more like a fabulous idea. How long had they been on this tour anyways?
“The second floor is luckily just one gigantic open ballroom and most of it can be seen from the stairs. Of course there are the two wings, but they are again identical in design with large two flooing fireplaces at either end, made of rare stacked Mammoth Oyster mother of pearl slabs. The walls here are decorated with an almost translucent shimmery blue and white geometric patterned wallpaper and the chandeliers are massive and tinged the color of an aquamarine sky. The curtains are snow white and extend beyond the height of the enormous windows only to billow to the ground pooling at the bottom on the floor, and speaking of the floor, it is was actually magically cut and transported as one continuous slab of Carrera marble for this exact space. It is continuous even into the two large ballroom style bathrooms as well as the patio. The patio is truly quite a sight to see, and it has its own entrance and unique view of the English style gardens, but seeing as its getting dark, I’ll show you the last floor and be done with tour. I think the kitchen is vastly more important to teenagers than the ballroom balcony.” Ryu’s stomach chose that exact moment to rumble embarrassingly, but Sid just laughed at her slightly bashful look and, instead of taking the stairs, stepped up to the lift ushering everyone to follow. “C’mon, this will take us to the ground floor and end of our tour.
Stepping off of the gaudy platform, Sid immediately picked up where he left off. “All of the flooring on this level is classic black and white marble, but in nineteen inch tiles rather than the regular twelve. If you’ll follow me into the kitchen you’ll find it commercially equipped with both Muggle and Wizarding appliances, as well as plenty of storage in the four walls of cherry cabinets. The black quartz counter tops found throughout are echoed here on the thirteen-foot island, which is equipped with its own sink as well as two induction burners. The gas stove next to the double fridge has eight burners, as well as a flat top griddle, and the double ovens on the other side of the fridge are separated by a warming drawer. The main sink here is a simple copper basin, and the dishwasher next to that has actually never been used. Continuing on into the dining room you’ll notice this gigantic black aged table which amazingly seats 40 and is made out of an old Viking boat from the early first century. On the other side of the Dining room is the formal living room, which has an amazing carved stone fireplace, as well as a small receiving parlor I think the old owners used as a place to host tea. Neither are quite that stunning however the entry way is, follow me.”
Sid didn’t say anything as he brought them into the foyer, instead letting them really get a feel for the room. The floor, like the rest of the level, was black and white tile on a forty-five degree angle, but the enormous grand stair, which split into two identical descending paths at the second floor near the entry to the ballroom, came away from the completely covered lacquered paneled walls to curve inward toward each other almost meeting in the middle. Where the stairs stopped, the red runner lining them continued onto the floor, underneath a bronze glass table topped with a huge ornate arrangement of flowers, and then towards the enormous, medieval, and almost ominous looking, two story gilded wood front doors.
The whole effect of the huge carved wood doors, the harlequin patterned tile, red carpet runners, and the judges paneling ascending up to the second floor, made Ryu feel as if she were entering a newly refurbished gothic castle. She found herself spinning about in awe just to try and take it all in, but once she had come full circle to face Sid, Dumbledore, Sirius, and the Aurors she tried to contain her amazement as best she could by removing her jaw from the floor. “Right…” she said visibly gathering herself as she tried to return to her normally tetchy demeanor. “Well, glad that’s over, I’m dying for some sleep. Can we sort out the finalities of the money and contracts tomorrow Sid?”
Sid nodded “Of course! And in actuality we really have no choice considering Gringott’s is closed for the evening.” His face turned slightly puzzled, “I tried to make arrangements for monetary transfer from your vault with authorization via signature in order to make this process a bit less of a hassle, but the Goblins weren’t the most helpful and kept insisting that they were incapable of opening you vault, which I have never heard of before.”
“Hmpf, I wish they had tried to open my vault…stupid little monsters would have deserved that.” She muttered the last part under her breathe, “Frankly I don’t even want to open my vault again knowing what happened the first time.” Everyone in the group except for Sirius and Dumbledore looked curious but had the good sense not to ask. “Regardless I have to do what’s got to be done….We’ll go first thing in the morning. Besides it will give me the chance to really look at the enchantments on Gringotts before I put up a secure perimeter around this place. Speaking of which….” She paused mid sentence as everyone watched her eyes become focused on something they could not see. She used magic to swath everything in a gold blanket in order to map out her surroundings and use her mind to travel through it.
She opened up her senses to movement seeking the presence of any creature within the walls of the compound, and was satisfied when she found only animals and the group next to her. Concentrating very hard, she slowly began to weave a dome over all the land she now owned, placing each particle of magic just so in order to create a barrier that could neither be seen, felt, or probed by magic other than her own without notifying all who were within with a flash of light. Just beyond the first dome, she put up a barrier identical to, but much larger than, the one she had used earlier that day on the train. It took her only an instant to do so, and she knew it was destructible but it would have to do for now. Tomorrow she and Dumbledore would really get down to business.
She let herself slowly come back down to reality watching the gold fade away. As her eyes came back into focus, she looked to Dumbleore. “I erected some precautionary barriers just in case something happens before we construct permanent ones tomorrow. It will tell everyone if someone has entered the compound by flashing a beam of light within the vicinity, however I didn’t factor a way to prevent incoming Apparation other than to sense and warn against entry of foreign magic. I still have no understanding of how Appartation takes place, and I can’t protect against it due to this….” Looking somewhat bashful but obviously annoyed that she had to ask for help she begrudgingly asked Dumbledore, “So, Headmaster, would you mind doing me the honors of putting up an Appartition Barrier?”
Dumbledore acquiesced with a nod and, looking almost too nonchalant, flicked his wand to the right before shooting his arm straight into the air sharply and whispering the incantation.
Ryu tried to watch as the magic funneled through Dumbledore and out his wand only to settle in between her own newly created barriers. However, there was a distortion to the magic that made it hard for her to even look at. It was almost as if the magic itself was repelling her and causing her her vision to slide away and prevent perception. She desperately wanted to understand but she was too tired to even care at that moment, she would have to figure it out some other time.
Once the headmaster was done, he looked to Ryu and came to stand in front of her looking down his hand behind his back. “I’m afraid that, although these precautionary protective enchantments do offer some measure of fortification, there is still much to be desired for ensured safety.” Ryu didn’t like where this was going, and she sure as hell didn’t like the stern and resolute expression that was developing on the Wizards face. “As such, I must insist that the Ministry Aurors remain until you and I together have done as much as we can to shelter this place from those who might try to harm you.”
Ryu was quivering with rage but was just managing to restrain it. When she spoke it was with clenched teeth and a hard tone, “May I remind you that I was capable of protecting myself from dozens of Death Eaters when not a single Ministry official was there to help me?”
“Yes you may,” Dumbledore agreed before adding “However I must remind you that, as one of my students, it is my duty to ensure you are afforded all the protection I can offer, and I intend to do so. The Aurors will remain until I deem it is not necessary.”
Ryu was red with anger. “Fine,” she spat, “Make yourselves right at bloody home for the night, but tomorrow you are gone! Understand?” she eyed all of the Aurors who, despite better judgment, looked pleased to have caused her some measure of annoyance. She glared at them intensely before turning about and marching up the staircase, “See you in the morning, and it better not be before then. If any one of you interrupts my bath I’ll find a Gumiho and order it to stun you for eternity!” She got no response and didn’t turn around to see if they had anything to say. Instead, she just chose to continue up the stairs leaving them to mill about in the foyer.
It was near the top of the first flight of stairs that Sirius went sprinting past her a kid like grin on his face as he rounded the staircase to begin his ascent up to the third floor two stairs at a time. “First one there gets first pick on rooms!” he yelled after her.
Ryu stood still, momentarily stunned, before tearing off after her friend, “SIRIUS, DON’T YOU DARE YOU STUPID GIT! THIS IS MY HOUSE!” She took off as fast as her legs would take her but was annoyed to see Sirius on the other side of the spiraling staircase halfway up the long flight of stairs to the third floor, a wicked grin plastered all over his face. She was catching up quickly taking four stairs at a time, but before she knew it she was stepping out onto the third floor landing and antechamber to see Sirius standing there rolling back and forth on the balls of his feet looking smug. She was tempted to see how smug he would look after she punched him in the stomach but refrained.
“I win.” He said entirely too happy with himself.
She crossed her arms and looked at him levelly. “No, you cheated.”
“Semantics my dear, I was only giving myself a fair advantage considering your freakish speed.” He turned just in time to avoid the fiery glare she aimed at his back, and began rubbing his hands together looking at the doors in front of him. “Door Number One, Door number Two, or Door Number three? Such a hard decision...”He finished looking over his shoulder seeing if he was torturing her properly. The sullen angry look on her face indicated that he was doing his job, and he busted out laughing unable to go on with the Charade. “I can’t believe you were actually going to let me have first pick! Unbelievable!” he said between laughs, “Honestly Ryu its your bloody house! I thought for sure you’d run me over to get into the room we saw earlier.” Ryu felt more and more the fool for falling for his gag and was just about to go over the edge when he continued to jibe her saying, “Are you going soft on me? I mean, bloody hell! First I manage to blackmail you into buying this house, and now I get first pick of rooms! What has gotten into you! If I didn’t know better I’d say you might be falling fo-“.
Ryu didn’t give him the chance to finish any more of his idiotic thoughts. She took one stride towards his hunched over cackling frame and, placing hands on either of his shoulders and just managing to ignore the delightful burning sensation making her knees weak, forced his torso into the knee that she brought up to slam into his chest.
Sirius was shocked at the unexpected feeling of her knee in his abdomen and the air escaping his lungs. He was clutching his stomach in pain, the wind completely knocked out of him and his knees threatening to fail and leave him on the ground staring at Ryu’s smirking face reproachfully. Even so he couldn’t help but notice the strange feeling of being deprived of her touch, even if it had been to hurt him. He wanted to laugh at how sadistic it was to be happy that she kneed him in the stomach, and quite forcefully if he did say so himself.
Ryu was happy to see him try and regain composure by rolling onto his back to take deep breaths. She took the opportunity to hover over him and smile at her handy work, “Really Sirius, have you gone nutters? Did you really think goading me was going to end well?” Sirius had enough sense to shake his head vigorously from his position on the ground. “Its okay, I forgive you.” She flashed him a phony sarcastic smile before continuing on in a silky smooth voice. “You were however right about one thing though,” The fake nice look she was wearing indicated that he should be scared and his eyes reflected the knowledge that he was anticipating something bad. “You did get trampled.” With those final words Ryu placed a foot on his stomach stepping on him as she opened the door to her room only to slam it closed behind her loudly.
Sirius was left on the ground staring at the door she had just passed through just wishing he could feel her foot compress his stomach one more time. “Sirius mate,” he said to himself humorously as he laboriously gathered himself enough to sit upright, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Dwelling on his thought only momentarily he stood up and looked back at the door to Ryu’s room. He shook his head to himself chuckling slightly, “Door Number Three it is then.”
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