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Vulnerability

By simplexdreams

Romance / Fantasy

The Beginning of Many Things

A million stars scattered across a dark blanket of sky as night-time crept across the small town of Little Hartburgh. The summer air was colder than usual, the wind blowing several trees that stood beside a large lake that reflected the night sky, making the stars look as though they were alive, dancing in the ripples of water.

The calmness of the water was suddenly disturbed by a small rock skimming across the water, jumping three times before sinking down to the bottom of the lake.

"Oh come on!" A small cry broke the silent night.

The cry came from a girl that stood beside the lake, she had eyes that were a bright blue, and seemed to sparkle in the reflection of the lake. Her hair was a bright lilac hair that seemed to flow down to mid-back, her pale heart-shaped face making the colour of her hair stand out magnificently.

This girl's name was Phoenix Augusta Lancaster. Just like her name, she was quite extraordinary and not because of her hair, but because she was in fact a witch. She was an extremely gifted witch at that. She was a Metamorphmagus, meaning that she had the ability to change her appearance, hence her eccentric choice of hair.

Phoenix bent over, her eyes squinting as she concentrated on the small stone that she held in her hand. She then threw the stone away from her, across the lake and Phoenix watched as it jumped, one, two, three and finally four times. A triumphant smile spread across her face and suddenly her hair changed to her natural colour of mousy brown. "Finally", she whispered, standing up straight and smiling widely, leaning her head back and letting the cold air hit her face, the wind making her hair dance about.

It was so peaceful, Phoenix thought as she walked across the path that ran around the lake. She quickly found the place she was looking for and lay her back down on the grass, her hands resting under her head as she stared up at the sky, a feeling of content filling her stomach.

Phoenix was enjoying her summer so far, her elder step-brother, William, had been teaching her how to skateboard and taking her to concerts, and she and her step-cousin Nymphadora, who was also a Metamorphmagus, had been having a lot of fun with one another, changing their appearances at least five times an hour. But now she was looking forward to returning to her favourite place in the world, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Phoenix was about to embark on her sixth and second to last year of school and she could not wait to return. She had so far been spending her summer with her parents, her father Andrei Lancaster and her step-mother, Cecilia Black-Lancaster. Her biological mother, Jane Lancaster, had died suddenly when Phoenix was only three years old, for reasons that her father and step-mother felt it was unwise to tell her.

Her step-mother and father had married nine years after her mother's death. Phoenix's step-mother was a pure-blood witch, whereas her mother had been a muggle, along with her father. This meant that they did not possess magic ability like Phoenix and her step-mother did and this made Phoenix a muggle born, a muggle born Metamorphmagus. Her father always told her that when she was born, her hair colour had changed so frequently in the hours after her birth that he and her mother had simply thought she was going mad. So on that fateful day when a fully grown witch, who was Phoenix's transfiguration teacher, Professor McGonagall, had turned up on their doorstep and informed Phoenix and her parents that she would be attending Hogwarts School; it had no less surprised her father, who had already been putting Phoenix into contact with the best secondary schools in the area, and delighted her step-mother to the point of tears.

Phoenix loved being a witch, in fact at school she always received top marks in every single one of her lessons and never failed to receive praise from the teachers about how she was one of the brightest students they had the pleasure to teach. This usually caused Phoenix's cheeks to burn a bright red and her two best friends, Fred and George Weasley, to snigger beside her and imitate Phoenix fighting somebody to the death and her winning triumphantly.

Fred and George were just one of the reasons why she loved being a witch so much. They were twins; both had flaming red hair, brown eyes and freckles. They are were pair of notorious troublemakers and pranksters, their frequent escapades and shenanigans got them into plenty of trouble and kept Phoenix's life on a constant move. Fred and George openly gloated about Argus Filch, the school's caretaker, having an entire file drawer devoted to their rule-breaking. They thought of it as a kind of shrine to their wrong-doings. Phoenix and the twins had been best friends since their first journey on the Hogwarts Express. Phoenix had been sitting all by herself in a compartment when the two boys came in; giggling madly about setting dungbombs in their older brother, Percy's compartment and Phoenix had scolded them for being irresponsible before school had even started, but then subsided into fits of laughter when Percy had come storming into the compartment that she and the twins were in, shrieking as loud as a Banshee.

Ever since that day she had been on a constant rollercoaster with the Weasley twins and their shenanigans, trying desperately to make sure they kept in line while trying also to not egg them on to do things like hex any Slytherins who gave them trouble and make Percy run circles around them. She even sometimes went along with some of their rule breaking, including sneaking into the school's kitchens in the dead of night and getting the house elves to make them hot chocolate.

She smiled up at the stars as she thought about the twins; they had invited to come along to the Quidditch World Cup along with the rest of the Weasley family and the twins brother, Ron, friends, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter. Quidditch was, in Phoenix's opinion, the best sport in the world. She was a chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team, along with Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet. Fred and George were also on the team and were beaters, their seeker was Harry and their keeper had been Oliver Wood, until he had left at the end of last year. Phoenix could not wait for the World Cup and she could not wait to spend the remainder of her summer at the Weasley's home, the Burrow.

She loved spending her summers at the Burrow. She had spent at least four weeks of her summer at the Weasley's family home since she had been twelve years old. Cecilia had too always been good friends with the Weasley's since she and Arthur worked in close proximity. Phoenix spent her time at Weasley house helping to de-gnome the garden or playing Quidditch in the small field by the house and having magnificent food cooked by Mrs. Weasley.

Feeling that her arm was about to go dead, Phoenix got to her feet, her hair changing to an aqua colour blue now, and once again, she looked up to the sky to the stars winking down at her.


Sunlight flooded in through the large open window, the cream coloured lace curtains billowed softly in the wind and Phoenix shivered, she was sleeping soundlessly on the king sized bed in the middle of the room, her body half covered in a bright blue blanket, her arms were dangling over the edge of her bed, her mouth lolling open as she mumbled incoherent words.

On top of the bed was a large pile of crumpled up pieces of parchment and newspapers. On one of the newspapers, in large bold letters the worlds, BERTHA JORKINS: MISSING, but the article was obscured by a piece of yellowish parchment, the letter was written in emerald-green ink. A seal was at the top of the letter, bearing the Hogwarts coat of arms, a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake, all of the surrounding a large letter 'H'.

ORDINIARY WIZARDING LEVEL RESULTS

Pass grades:
Outstanding (O)
Exceeds Expectation (E)
Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades:
Poor (P)
Dreadful (D)
Troll (T)

PHOENIX AUGUSTA LANCASTER HAS ACHIEVED:

ANCIENT RUNES: O
ASTRONOMY: O
CARE OF MAGICAL CREATURES: O
CHARMS: O
DEFENCE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS: O
DIVINATION: E
HERBOLOGY: O
HISTORY OF MAGIC: O
MUGGLE STUDIES: O
POTIONS: O
TRANSFIGURATION: O

Phoenix shuddered as a rather cold and strong gust of wind awoke her. But she didn't want to open her eyes and begin her morning routine. She was anything but a morning person. Even with the burning feeling of excitement in the pit of her stomach at the fact that in less than five hours she would be at the Burrow, she could still not bring herself to clamber out of bed and begin packing.

"NIX!" Phoenix's elder step-brother Will yelled from outside her bedroom door, causing her to groan and pull her blanket closer around her. "YOU NEED TO PACK OR ANASTASIA WILL GO TO THE CUP INSTEAD OF YOU!" This certainly woke Phoenix up.

"SHE WILL DO NO SUCH THING" Phoenix bellowed back, jumping from her bed and yanking her bedroom door open to see her oldest brother, smiling widely down at her.

Phoenix had two step-brothers, who had already left Hogwarts, they both worked for the Ministry of Magic along with her mother. Edmund, who was the oldest and six years older than Phoenix, was an 'Unspeakable' and worked in the Magic's Department of Mysteries, he never mentioned what he did but Phoenix knew that he studied in the Death Chamber. Phoenix's step-mother was a member of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, along with Mr Weasley and his assistant, Perkins, which is how she and Mr. Weasley had met and become good friends. Phoenix's other step-brother William, he was five years older than Phoenix, was an Auror, a dark wizard catcher. Her father was a muggle author, he wrote fantasy and crime novels, which were all pretty interesting, Phoenix had to admit. She also had a step-sister, Anastasia who was who two years older than Phoenix and who had just left Hogwarts and was currently in training to be a Healer. Anastasia spent most of her evenings drowning on about the work load was simply boring.

"Well at least you're up Nix," said Will as he smiled broadly down at her, "I seemed to notice that you weren't in your room when I came to check if you were asleep and the window was also open." This made Phoenix curse herself for not being cleverer about sneaking out to take a walk around the lake that was metres away from their tiny family cottage, which was known as Lavender Cottage.

"I was just taking a walk." Phoenix said simply, crossing her arms across her chest and leaning against the door frame.

"You are lucky I wasn't Ed because he would have called a search party out by the Ministry for you," Will grimaced at his youngest sister, before saying darkly, "That would be far more that the Ministry are doing for Bertha Jorkins."

"Still no clue where she is?" Phoenix asked glumly.

"Not the slightest." Will shook his head as he watched his step-sister's hair turn from aqua to her usual mousy brown "Anyway, Mum says that breakfast is ready, so come down stairs."

Instead of venturing downstairs for breakfast, Phoenix began to pack all of her clothes and school things in her large trunk and her most prized possessions. Her broomstick which was a Comet 260, her skateboard that Will had brought her, her many old school spellbooks, her old school robes that still fit her and all of her quills and ink bottles were all squashed into the bottom of her trunk and on top of her school things, she crammed the entire contents of her wardrobe and some muggle books she had been reading over the summer into her trunk before she slammed it shut, a triumphant smile on her face. Just as Phoenix, sat herself down on the trunk, an owl shot in through her open bedroom window and landed on her bed, then keeled over and then lay motionless on her bed.

"Errol," Phoenix sighed, instantly recognising the unconscious owl that belonged to the Weasley family. She immediately stood up and began untying the cords around Errol's leg, took off the piece of parchment and then carried Errol over to Silvano's cage. Silvano was Phoenix's owl, a beautiful and energetic Tawny Owl, who was still currently out hunting. Errol opened his eyes blearily, gave a small hoot of thanks and began to gulp down some water.

Phoenix sat back down on her back and unfolded the piece of parchment in her hands and smoothed it out, smiling when she recognised the familiar handwriting that belonged to George Weasley.

Dear Pixy,

The Quidditch World Cup is almost upon us! I'm beyond excited, Hermione has just arrived and is already boring me and Fred with her summer school work and we really need our best friend to help us! Fred admitted he missed you telling us off when you're studying and we are busying causing chaos. Don't tell him I told you that though, he'd curse me.

Remember to be ready for four o'clock on Saturday (who am I kidding, you're going to still be in bed, you lazy git!). I doubt you will even still be at your house by the time that Errol gets there; he's becoming slower by the minute. We're picking Harry up on Sunday and we have devised a plan that may or may not include his idiot cousin, but I won't give away too much information as you may explode when you hear it.

Fred says hi and we'll see you Saturday – George.

Phoenix smiled at the letter in her hands, before frowning at George's mention of the plan involving Harry's muggle cousin Dudley, but she knew there was no way convincing the twins to not go through with a plan once it was implanted in their heads. She crossed her room and sat down by her desk, putting the letter from George in a pile that was full of letters from the twins and all of her other friends from Hogwarts. She picked up a piece of parchment that lay on her desk, which she always had ready for writing letters, picked up her quill and dipped it her bottle of ink began writing a reply.

Dear George,

I am too very excited for the match and I am of course never going to let Fred live down what he had said, you clearly do not know me at all my freakishly tall friend. But I must admit I do miss you guys and your antics too. I've had to listen to Anastasia's story about being projectile vomited on by a muggle for half an hour about 60 times this summer and I am looking forward to hearing your shenanigans for once in my life. Errol is currently in Silvano's cage having a rest so I suppose by the time you get this letter, we'll have left Hogwarts! I'll wait for Silvano to come back from hunting so he can give you this letter and I hope your plan isn't too adventurous, I don't want to be in the house if Molly is screaming at the pair of you. (Who am I kidding she always is!)

See you guys tonight – Phoenix.

P.S – Hello Fred and I am not a lazy git.

Phoenix folded up her letter, smiling to herself as she maneuvered her way over to her window seat and sat down, looking out through the open window at the vast countryside that surrounded the Lavender Cottage. The branches of trees danced as the wind blew, the summer air wafting in through Phoenix's window and the blazing summer sun felt warm on her face, she closed her eyes and her hair turned suddenly into a vibrant pink. Phoenix opened her eyes and placed two fingers in her mouth and blew, a shrill whistle came from her lips and she waited patiently before whistling again.

Then she saw him, rising from the trees and soring towards the window, Phoenix jumped aside as her large and loyal companion Silvano came shooting through the window, landing very elegantly on her bedside table. Phoenix smiled at the owl whose great emerald green eyes looked inquisitively back at her.

"I need you to take this to Fred and George," She told him and Silvano hooted back, his eyes a blaze with the familiar excitement of going to the Burrow, Mrs. Weasley always gave him treats. Phoenix began to tie a cord around Silvano's leg, attached was the letter for Fred and George. "Take Errol with you as well if you can" Phoenix inclined her head at Errol who was perched in Silvano's cage. Silvano hooted and flew over to Errol to help him.


Four o'clock came quickly and Phoenix and her parents and elder step-brothers found them all seated in their cosy living room, with Phoenix's trunk and Silvano's cage set down beside one of the sofas, all waiting eagerly for the Weasley party to arrive while a movie played on television screen. Since her father was a muggle and her step-mother was a witch, her house was an odd assortment of wizard items and muggle items, the television was just one of the muggle items in their house. Phoenix smiled as she thought about how excited Mr. Weasley would be when he saw all of the muggle things in the house.

"H-how are the Weasley's getting here?" Asked Phoenix's father, shuffling the newspaper in his hands nervously before adjusting the glasses on the bridge of his nose, Phoenix's father was a very anxious man, very nervous when it came to things to do with the wizarding world, even though his wife assured him that it was all fine and he had met the Weasley's countless times.

"Oh Andrei," Cecilia laughed at her husband, twirling her shoulder length blonde hair with her wand, her dark brown eyes looking from the fireplace to the window. "They could arrive by Floo Powder, Broomsticks, Portkey they could even apparate, endless possibilities really darling."

"If I know Arthur Weasley, he would arrive by some form of muggle transport." Chuckled Will, causing Phoenix to roll her eyes, Will was very true. In her fourth year, Arthur Weasley had bewitched a muggle car and his son Ron and Harry had crashed it into the Whomping Willow and almost cost Arthur his job at the Ministry. He was fascinated by all things Muggle. He collected plugs and all sorts of Muggle objects.

Phoenix began to grow agitated, playing with her pink candyfloss coloured hair, she wished that the Weasley's would hurry up so that she could get away from her house. She loved being home but she was itching for a change in scenery, to be at the Burrow, where everyone was constantly on the move and there was always something to do, from de-gnoming to hearing explosions from Fred and George's room, the house was bursting with the unexpected. Whereas at her house, it was usually very quiet and everybody was secretive. Phoenix never knew how her mother had died, but the rest of her family, even the ones who were not blood related, knew the exact circumstances in which she had died. They all thought that she was 'too young to understand'. She hated it and often had to escape from the house, climbing down from her bedroom window with the help of the large apple tree that stood beside it because she needed to have time to think.

"Are you excited for the match then Nix?" Edmund asked Phoenix, flicking his wand through the air lazily and levitating the television remote towards him.

"Ed, don't you dare change the channel, I want to see what the weather will be like tomorrow." Snapped Cecilia, shooting her son a withering look, causing Edmund to groan and drop the remote in mid-air, making it smash on the stone floor, the back of the remote burst and two batteries rolled out of it.

"Well done Ed," Grimaced Phoenix as she watched Cecilia flick her wand with ease and two batteries came soring out of a drawer beside their father. "I'm looking very forward to it; I've never been to a real Quidditch match before. I've been to a football match, but that was just Will's under 15s charity match." Edmund chuckled along with Phoenix and their father.

"Well I suppose we will see you there, me and Will managed to get tickets, not as good as your tickets though, Arthur told us. You're in for a treat Nix." Edmund smiled at her and she smiled back and returned to playing with her hair.

"Quidditch sounds positively dangerous." Phoenix's father began and she rolled her eyes, "make sure that you take care of yourself and be sure to- ARRRRRRGH!"

The fireplace suddenly came alive, green fire began to rise in the air and Andrei jumped about ten feet into the air and swore loudly, and Cecilia yelled at her husband 'ANDREI'.

The reason that Andrei had screamed was standing in front of the fireplace, looking around as though Christmas had come early, Mr. Weasley. He was tall, thin and balding but the hair the little hair that remained was a flaming red, he straightened his glasses and brushed his long green robes before approaching the family.

"Hello," Arthur said brightly, smiling around at everyone "arrived just on time, I see. Fred should be arriving just about now." The fire once again burned a bright green and a grinning Fred Weasley came into view, waving around at everyone.

"Good afternoon," Fred said, smiling lopsidedly at Phoenix and plonked himself down in the seat beside her. He gave her a one armed hug, waved around at her elder step-brothers and focused his attention on the movie that was playing on the television, making Phoenix roll her eyes.

The fire glowed once again and Fred's twin, George appeared, identical to his twin down to the last freckle.

"Sorry to scare you Andrei," Arthur apologised quickly "I wanted to take a Muggle car here but Cecilia informed me that traffic is horrendous."

"Hi Pixy," George smiled down at Phoenix as he sat on the other side of Phoenix. His smile was just as lopsided as his twin. Phoenix scrunched her nose at George's nickname for her, Pixy. He had given it to her because for the fact she was tiny compared to him and Fred, she barely reached their shoulders. "How's your summer been so far?"

"I bet it's been miserable without us," Grimaced Fred, smiling at his twin before looking down at Phoenix.

She did not want to admit that her summer had indeed been miserable without them. She merely didn't want to give them such satisfaction, "It's been alright I suppose," She lied.

Overall, it had been her worst summer yet; she spent most of her nights walking around the lake and most of her days reading muggle novels, unless Will or Ed had a day off work where they could spend the day skateboarding through the small village of Little Hartburgh. Nearly every night, she had desperately been trying to listen into her family's' hushed conversations, but they always immediately ceased when Phoenix came into the room. She hated how secretive everything seemed to be.

George frowned at Phoenix, clearly not believing her and he looked at his twin, who didn't seem to catch on as he was too busy staring at the television screen, "Televisions are weird" Fred said, shaking his head.

"They are ingenious!" Arthur goggled, making the twins roll their eyes and Phoenix laugh, "But we're here to bring Phoenix to the Burrow, not to watch the televivy," Arthur said impatiently and Phoenix couldn't help but grin when Mr. Weasley pronounced television wrong.

The twins and Phoenix got to their feet, as did Phoenix's family so that they could say goodbye to her as Fred grabbed Phoenix's trunk and George took Silvano's cage.

"Well we will see you a Christmas hopefully," Her father beamed down at her, engulfing his daughter into a big hug and planting a kiss on top of her head.

"I doubt she will want to come home for Christmas, what with everything that is going to be happening at Hogwarts." William said, smirking as Phoenix went to hug Cecilia.

"What's happening at Hogwarts?" Phoenix, Fred and George all asked at once. Edmund punched him on the arm and mumbled something about 'top secret information' before he too hugged Phoenix.

"Be careful now Nix," Edmund said as he hugged her tightly, kissing the top of her head like her father had, "Make sure you look after her, won't you boys?"

"We always look after her." Fred said, waving his hand through the air with a not so convincing smirk upon his face.

"Right," Mr Weasley said firmly, clapping his hands together, "All set? Let's go- Oh plugs!"

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