Being in London was always a busy affair. Phoenix, her hair a cherry red, wiggled her nose as she saw a pigeon narrowly avoid a big red bus. Lucky bastard, she thought as she followed Cecilia and Anastasia into every shop they laid their eyes upon.
“Oh come,” Phoenix groaned impatiently, following her companions into John Lewis, “Let’s go to the Headquarters! Little Marie doesn’t want to go in there, do you Ree Ree?” The infant in her arms gave a little giggle as Phoenix tickled her stomach.
“Just because you’re so anxious to see your boyfriend,” Anastasia smirked. “See it as a punishment for getting outrageously drunk last night Phoenix.”
Phoenix made a face at her sibling, it was very true. Last night she, Angelina, Lee, Alicia and the twins had all spent the night at Lavender Cottage, drinking Firewhiskey until Alicia had thrown up out of Phoenix’s window. It had been an excellent night, despite how rough Phoenix felt this morning, she had put on another Muggle film, which had left Lee in near tears. It had been a night filled with laughter, some tears and many jokes.
“I’m helping you save money! You’ve got all the food, clothes and essentials you wanted, now let’s get going!”
Cecilia rolled her eyes, “For once Phoenix is right–”
“I hope that’s a joke.”
“–I can be as sarcastic as you can be Phoenix,” Cecilia said with a wry smile, leading the way out of the shop and down the street, “It’s only a ten minute walk or so, we’ll be there in no time.”
It was not a ten minute walk. Phoenix was glad that she was only holding baby Marie-Athenè, who was much lighter than all the bags that Cecilia and Anastasia were carrying. It had been an enjoyable day, sometimes it was nice to step away from the magical world and live in the Muggle world, doing mundane things such as shopping and stopping for an hour in a café, Phoenix sometimes wondered what it was like to live completely with no magic, though she wouldn’t like to find out as the magical world was always so interesting to her.
The small infant in Phoenix’s arms was sleeping peacefully, wriggling every now and then. Phoenix had fallen in love with her niece, she was lovely, despite deciding to wee on her when she offered to change her nappy after dinner yesterday. She was of course very loud when she needed to be, but other than, her mother’s beauty was already shining through, her father’s cheekiness seemed to also be seeping in (just yesterday she had thrown her meal at William’s face, which had left Phoenix in tears of laughter).
“Right,” Cecilia finally spoke, setting down her bags beside her, stopping in the middle of a street, “Here we are.”
Phoenix looked around, the street they were standing in was called Grimmauld Place. Though it looked nothing special, the townhouses were all tall, old and dark. They were stood directly in front of numbers eleven and thirteen. Phoenix pursed her lips, looking at Cecilia, then Anastasia, then back at Cecilia.
“Is this a joke?” She finally asked, looking around, expecting to see Will or Ed, jump out and shout “BOO!“.
“Of course not,” Anastasia scoffed, also setting down her bags and taking Marie from Phoenix’s arms, “Mum, show her.”
Cecilia handed Phoenix a piece of parchment, looking around her carefully as she did so.
Phoenix looked at the piece of parchment, in very narrow, sophisticated handwriting, it said:
The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
She reread it several times, then gave an “oh” of understanding. She looked up slowly, only just realising that there was no number twelve. But as soon as she realised this, a beaten door materialised seemingly through thin air between numbers eleven and thirteen. Black, dirty walls appeared, grubby windows appeared, the houses either side of it moved slowly, though the Muggles Phoenix could see through the windows were not perturb in the slightest.
“Fidelius Charm?” Phoenix mused, handing the piece of parchment back to Cecilia, who set it to flames with a flick of her wand.
“Naturally,” Anastasia replied with a nod. “Now, come on, quickly!”
Phoenix didn’t need to be told twice, she followed Cecilia up the stone steps, which were rather worn. It was evident that this particular house was very, very old and ancient. The door they stood in front of was black, its paint was scratched and tattered. Phoenix noticed that the doorknocker was shaped like a twisted serpent, she furrowed her eyebrows at this.
“Now, be very, very quiet,” Cecilia instructed her step daughter, who nodded. The older witch pulled out her wand, tapping it softly on the door once. There were multiple metallic clicks, the ratter of a chain, before the door open slowly.
Cecilia once again, led the way. Phoenix stepped into a dark, damp hallway. It was incredibly dusty and there was a lingering rooting smell that made Phoenix’s nostrils flare. She felt uneasy, this house was anything but inviting. Cecilia waved her wand and old-fashioned gas lamps burst into life along the walls, revealing a gloomy hallway, a chandelier covered in cobwebs, dark emerald green wallpaper that was peeling off the walls and black portraits spattered across the walls.
“This way,” Cecilia walked towards the door at the very far end of the hall. The door opened to reveal a set of narrow stone steps that led down to what Phoenix presumed would be a basement. Instead the steps led to a warm, well-lit kitchen. A large fire was lit at the very end of the kitchen, many heavy iron pots and pans were hanging from the ceiling, chairs surrounded a long wooden table in the very middle of the room. The table was full of Weasley’s and members of the Order. She beamed at Fred and George, whom were sat beside their old (and best) Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lupin.
“Oh how lovely to see you!” Mrs. Weasley was the first off her feet, embracing the three witches each in a warm, welcoming hug, “And who is this beautiful little girl?”
“This is Marie-Athenè,” Anastasia beamed, bouncing her daughter softly, who was still sound asleep in her arms. “Do you want to hold her?”
“I would love to, but you must have some tea first!”
“Don’t be silly Molly,” came a gruff, unfamiliar voice, “I’ll make tea.”
Phoenix looked in the direction of the voice and her eyes widened as she recognised the man to be Sirius Black, the man whom had escaped from Azkaban during her fifth year.
“Uhm,” she began, looking around at Cecilia and Anastasia, “am I missing something?”
“Sirius is my cousin,” Cecilia began, walking towards the ex-prisoner with a wide smile, “Member of the Order of the Phoenix and not, in fact, a murderer. Don’t worry Phoenix.”
“Oh,” Phoenix said, flashing Sirius a small smile, “Sorry.”
He grinned back. Sirius Black was not as Phoenix remembered in the posters that had littered around Hogsmeade. The man that stood before her was tall, fair-skinned, with cool, grey eyes, his hair long and black. In the posters Sirius had look ill, with long, matted hair, a gaunt, sunken face, he had almost looked like a corpse. But Phoenix supposed life in Azkaban had not been easy, and she was happy to see such a change in him.
“It’s quite alright,” Sirius said, “I suppose Celia didn’t deem it necessary to inform you of my innocence sooner,” He cast a smirk at his cousin, whom rolled her eyes. “It’s lovely to meet you Phoenix,” He outstretched his hand to her.
She took it and smiled at him, “Lovely to meet you too.”
“Of course George has already told him everything about you,” Piped up Fred, flashing his twin a wink.
“All bad I presume?” Phoenix said with a wry smile, looking between Sirius and Fred.
“You three seem to be a bigger pair of troublemakers than me and James,” Sirius said reminiscently, when Phoenix cast a confused look at Sirius, he added, “Harry’s father.”
“We could have given you a run for you money,” said George, “that’s for sure.”
Grimmauld Place was by no means welcoming, nor was it even remotely pleasant. Phoenix sometimes wondered during the times she assisted in the frequent cleaning that the Weasley children and Hermione took part in, just how old the house itself was. Sirius had said that the house had been in the Black family for generations, his mother Walburga Black (whose portrait hung in the house, shrieking and screaming her disgust towards the current occupants of the house, especially at Phoenix and Hermione) had lived there previously before her “tragic” (as Sirius sarcastically put it) death.
The house showcased very clearly that is had been owned by very dark wizards. Phoenix did not want to ask Sirius about the Black family and their connection with dark magic, she was still intrigued however.
“All this cleaning is too much for me,” Fred sighed as he lay back on his bed, which gave a loud creek and whine at the sudden weight.
“Merlin help you when you move out,” Phoenix mused with a smirk as she peered around the dark wooded room. Just like the rest of the house it was not at all pleasant, she was no longer jealous that the Weasley children had constant access to the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. She prodded the dark emerald curtains gently and years of dust flew off, her face wrinkled in disgust.
The portraits on the wall were all mostly empty, aside from one, whose occupant was a middle aged woman with thick dark brown hair, her eyes were a dark grey, her face was pale and lined with age, her jawline was sharp however, giving her a stern, almost McGonagall-like look. Phoenix frowned when she noticed what she held in her hand, a beheaded house elf, she hoped Hermione never entered this room, as she would have surely fainted at the sight of the house elf. Phoenix remembered seeing many severed house elf heads as she walked up the stairs to Fred and George’s room. This must be the portrait of Elladora Black, Sirius mentioned that she was the Black whom introduced the policy of cutting off the heads of house-elves once they became old and frail. Phoenix was quite glad that Sirius was not at all welcoming of that policy.
George was watching her closely, as she turned back around to face the twins, he caught her eye and winked. He still managed to make her blush, even now.
“When do you think old Scar Head will make an appearance?” Fred asked airily, taking something flesh coloured out of his pocket and twirling it in his hands. Phoenix frowned at the object.
George gave a hum in reply, mulling the question over, “I’m not too sure, Ron nor Hermione are allowed to send him owls, so it’ll be whenever Dumbledore sees it fit to inform him.”
“Fred, what is that?” Phoenix asked, she had noticed the object in Fred’s hand was a flesh coloured piece of string.
“Oh this?” Fred said with a smirk, holding the piece of string. “Behold your eyes on our new product–”
“– Extendable Ears!” George finished.
“I hate it when you two do that,” Phoenix mused as Fred passed her string. She inspected it, rolling it around in her hand. “What does it do exactly?”
“Allows for any trouble makers to listen to conversations or any noise as clear as if it was a mere foot away,” grinned George.
“That’s what we’re going to market it as anyway.”
“Interesting,” Phoenix nodded, passing the Extendable Ear back to Fred, “I imagine that comes in handy living in Headquarters.”
Fred gave a snort of laughter, “Unfortunately they don’t work if a door has been Imperturbed.”
“At least Molly knows when her sons are up to no good.”
Despite Grimmauld Place being less than pleasant, the kitchen was bubbling with warmth, noise and had a very homely feeling. Mrs. Weasley and Cecilia were cooking a lovely smelling sausage casserole while the Weasley children, Phoenix, Hermione, Sirius, Lupin and Anastasia were crowded around the kitchen table, tucking into the delicious onion soup that Mrs. Weasley had made.
“You know what I’m looking forward to once we’re back at Hogwarts?” Fred called, dipped a piece of heavily buttered bread into his soup.
“Not doing your homework?” Phoenix shot back, “Getting detention? Unleashing hell on the students of Hogwarts?”
“No,” Fred began, his eyes twinkling slightly. “Quidditch!”
“I wonder who the Quidditch captaincy will go to,” Phoenix pondered. “Now that Oliver is gone–”
“–Merlin, how will we cope without the three hour long lectures!”
Phoenix shot her boyfriend a look, which he understood as her telling him to shut up.
“I doubt it’ll be one of us,” Fred mused, his mouth full of bread as he pointed toward himself and George.
“Caused too much trouble,” Phoenix smiled. “You two almost turned Oliver grey with stress.”
“Reckon it’ll be your girlfriend, aye George?” Fred threw his arm around Phoenix’s neck, almost causing her to choke on her bread.
George mulled the thought over for a few moments, “I’m not sure, she could be. But Angelina is quite a bit vocal with her passion for Quidditch.”
“Jealous Nix?” Fred mused with a lazy smirk on his freckled face.
Phoenix gave a snort of laughter, “Of course not! I agree, McGonagall would be stupid to not make Angelina Quidditch Captain. And Minerva McGonagall is not at all stupid.”
Fred was about to reply when emerald green flames erupted in the fireplace at the other end of the kitchen as Arthur Weasley stepped out of the fire.
“We have a problem.”
The mood changed completely in the kitchen, the warmth is possessed a mere few seconds ago had seemed to have evaporated. Green flames erupted once again and Phoenix dropped her spoon as she saw Professor Dumbledore walk out of the fireplace.
“Arthur!” Mrs. Weasley rushed over to her husband, “Arthur! What’s going on?”
“It’s Harry,” Mr. Weasley explained, Sirius, Ron and Hermione instantly stood up from their seats.
“Is he okay?!” Hermione fretted.
“Yes, yes, he is!” Mr. Weasley said quickly. “However, he’s in a fair bit of trouble.”
“What happened Arthur?” Sirius pleaded, waving his wand and conjuring chairs for Mr. Weasley and the Hogwarts’s headmaster.
“Two Dementor’s attacked him and his cousin, Dudley.” Dumbledore explained, everyone around the table gave a gasp of surprise. “Luckily Harry’s superb Patronus charm allowed for him and his cousin to get away, harm free.”
“But… but that means–” Ginny began.
“Yes, he used magic outside of school and in the presence of his Muggle cousin.” Mr. Weasley confirmed, rubbing the temples on his head.
“Bloody hell,” Ron remarked, sitting back down in his seat.
“As of now,” Dumbledore explained with a sombre look upon his face. “He has been expelled.”
The uproar that followed this statement was paramount. Ron and Hermione looked distraught; Sirius angry; Fred and George aghast; Ginny speechless; Molly Weasley was spluttering for words; Phoenix was simply lost for words, Hogwarts… without Harry?
Hermione appeared to be steeling herself, “Y-you said ‘as of now’, does that mean? –”
“I’ve managed to convince Cornelius Fudge for Harry’s wand not to be destroyed,” Dumbledore explained, “And to discuss his expulsion during a Disciplinary hearing at the Ministry, since Harry is a student at my school, I made it clear to Cornelius that the decision to expel him ultimately is mine to make.”
“Bet Fudge wasn’t pleased with that,” snorted Fred.
“I’m going to write Harry a letter,” Sirius spoke through gritted teeth, he stood from his car, looking displeased. He stalked out of the kitchen, summoning quill and parchment as he went.
“I believe it’s time for an emergency Order meeting,” Dumbledore proclaimed, he waved his wand and what looked like a large, beautiful bird erupted from its tip. Phoenix ogled at the patronus, it was a magnificent phoenix. But as soon as Phoenix noticed this, it vanished.
Mrs. Weasley seemed to come to her senses, she waved her wand and all what remained of their dinner disappeared. “Away, all of you!” She pointed towards the twins, Ron, Hermione, and Phoenix.
“Hang on a moment,” said Ron, glaring at his mother and farther, “What about Harry? He can’t stay with the Dursley’s! He’s already furious with us–” he indicated to himself and Hermione, “–for not being able to write to him all summer! He’s just been told that he might be expelled, don’t you think we should go get him or something?”
“He’s right,” Ginny declared, standing next to her brother with a defiant look upon her freckled face. “Harry must be feeling awfully alone right now, and when Harry Potter feels alone… Merlin knows what he might do.”
Mrs. Weasley looked torn, she glanced at her husband and Dumbledore before speaking, “We’ll discuss that in the meeting, now shoo!“.
They all walked, reluctantly, into the drawing room, muttering to one another. They spoke about Harry, wondered how on earth the dementors could have wandered into a Muggle suburb and found Harry, whether he would be expelled or not.
“What if it was,” George stopped himself before he saying, “You-Know-Who?”
“Don’t be thick!” Piped up Ron, “They’re under Ministry control, someone from the Ministry must have done it, to frame him and get him expelled!”
“That’s a ridiculous idea Ron!” Hermione shot back.
“It’s not that far-fetched Hermione,” George mused reasonably, resting against one of the long, dusty windows. “Percy knew that Harry could perform a patronus, he and old Fudge might have cooked up that plan to discredit Harry.”
Phoenix frowned at Percy’s name. George had told her that only a few weeks ago he had distanced himself fully from his family after an explosive argument between Percy and Arthur. It had been the very first week after term had ended, Percy had proudly proclaimed of his promotion of Junior Assistant to the Minister. Percy as first thought his farther would be pleased, proud in fact, but Arthur believed, quite rightly, that this promotion was an excuse to spy on the Weasley family, especially as the Minister Of Ministry knew that Arthur was in close contact to Dumbledore, whose name was now dirt to Cornelius and his Ministry. The argument ended in Percy packing his bags that very night and leaving the Burrow for a fancy apartment in London.
“It’s not like the Daily Prophet has discredited Harry enough,” said Hermione glumly.
“Do you think it’s worth the Extendable Ears?” George asked Fred, digging around in his pockets, “See what they’re talking about?”
“I think it’s worth it!” Fred agreed, grinning at his twin and taking the Extendable Ear from him. “Coming Phoenix?”
“I’ll pass, thanks,” grinned Phoenix, leaning back on the sofa as she scratched behind Crookshanks’ ears.
Phoenix spent the next few days filtering between Lavender Cottage and Grimmauld Place, she spent her days cleaning, discussing joke shop plans with Fred and George, eating sandwiches in their room and, whenever they could, spending alone time with George.
“How’s Angelia?” Phoenix quizzed Fred, whom had just arrived back from visiting his girlfriend after her holiday to Cannes.
Fred gave them a knowing smirk, “She’s great. Very proud of herself actually.”
Phoenix raised an eyebrow, “What do you know?”
“Something you don’t.” Fred sneered, in his most childish voice.
“Oh really?” Phoenix said in her most sarcastic voice, “What a shock.”
“What do you know, Fred?” George asked.
“Something you don’t,” Fred said in a sing-song voice.
George was about to open his mouth to ask again, but Phoenix stopped him, “Fred can’t keep his mouth shut for ten minutes, he’ll crack soon enough.” Phoenix was usually quite nosey when it came to her friends and their lives, but much to her amusement, Angelina had already told Phoenix this ‘secret’ that Fred was apparently determined to keep (but he would no doubt tell them before the next day).
Phoenix was sat on Ginny’s bed later that day, entertaining Crookshanks with an Extendable Ear that he had destroyed earlier that morning. Ginny was watching Crookshanks as though entranced, taking a bite of her sandwich every now and then. Hermione sat on her bed, reading Phoenix’s sixth year Muggle Studies text book, The Philosophy of the Mundane: Why the Muggles Prefer Not to Know by Mordicus Egg.
“Hermione?” Phoenix said, finally putting down the Extendable Ear, allowing Crookshanks to pounce at it happily.
“Why is Hedwig here?” Phoenix asked, noticing that Harry’s beautiful white snowy owl at the top of the wardrobe, Phoenix thought that she looked rather disgruntled.
“Oh,” Hermione placed down her book and she too peered up at the owl. “Harry sent myself and Ron, I also believe Sirius too, on the night the Dementors attacked him, demanding answers from us. I think Harry told her to peck the living daylights out of us–” She showed Phoenix and Ginny her hands, which had very significant beck-like cuts over him, “–Dumbledore told us we couldn’t reply, she’s too distinctive, so until Harry arrives, if he does, we’re having to keep her here. She was originally in Ron’s room but she seems to get quite irritated with Pigwidgeon and his rather hyperactive ways.”
Phoenix called Hedwig, the owl gave a graceful hoot and flew down from her position on top of the wardrobe to rest upon Phoenix’s knee, who stroked the owl softly with her index finger.
“I wish we could at least know when the Order are getting Harry,” sighed Hermione. “It’s doesn’t sit well with me, knowing he’s stuck at the Dursley’s on own, worrying about the hearing. All he had as reassurance were two short letters from Sirius and Mr. Weasley!”
“I agree,” said Ginny.
A loud crack sounded throughout the room, Hedwig took off in fright, Hermione let out a shriek, but Ginny and Phoenix were now very much used to Fred and George Weasley apparating out of nowhere.
“For Merlin’s sake you two!” Hermione scolded, sending the twins a harsh glare.
Fred sat down beside Phoenix and beamed at the bushy haired fifth year, “I apologise Hermione, but we just heard some interesting news.”
“And that would be?” Ginny inquired.
“Well,” began George. “We just saw a few members of the Order leave, talking about some sort of mission. We have reason to believe they are going to fetch Harry.”
Hermione smiled widely, but then stopped herself. “You’re sure?”
“Well, Sirius was kicking up a fuss about not being able to tag along, so I’m absolutely certain!” Fred replied with a gracious smirk.
“And Dad told us,” added George. “Told him that Phoenix would happily answer any questions about Rubber Ducks at dinner.”
“A bribe,” Phoenix said with roll of her eyes. “You two should know better!”
Hermione, along with Hedwig on her shoulder, left a few moments later, no doubt to talk to Ron about Harry’s upcoming arrival.
“Eight galleons say that Harry rips those two apart,” Ginny said, looking between her brothers.
“Like you have eight galleons,” snorted Fred, though he seemed to cower under his little sister’s stern gaze. “Alright, alright, deal it is!”
“George?” Ginny smiled.
“I’m not stupid enough to make a deal with you Ginny,” smiled George. “Fred however is.”
“Suit yourself.” Ginny shrugged, picking Crookshanks up off the floor and walking from her room.
“Jokes on her,” whispered Fred. “We didn’t shake hands.”
“I heard that!”
Around an hour later, after Molly Weasley had supplied them all with delicious sandwiches, Phoenix and the twins were relaxing in the twin’s room (well, Phoenix was trying to read while the twins were coming up with ideas for new products, rather loudly).
Her hair a deep green, Phoenix peered over the top of her copy of Egyptian Origins: Magic of the Ancients by Fauna Smethwyck to see Fred bleeding profusely from his nose.
“What the bloody hell are you two doing?”
“Relax,” George said in what was apparently a soothing voice, “We’re tasting out our Skiving Snackboxes, Fred’s just had a Nosebleed Nougat.”
“I wonder what that does,” Phoenix said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
George rolled his eyes, “Very funny Pixy, very fun–”
“SO YOU HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE MEETINGS, BIG DEAL! YOU’VE STILL BEEN HERE, HAVEN’T YOU? YOU’VE STILL BEEN TOGETHER! ME, I’VE BEEN STUCK AT THE DURSLEYS’ FOR A MONTH–”
“I think Harry is here,” George said with a smile.
“–AND I’VE HANDLED MORE THAN YOU TWO’VE EVER MANAGED AND DUMBLEDORE KNOWS IT – WHO SAVED THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE? WHO GOT RID OF RIDDLE? WHO SAVED BOTH YOUR SKINS FROM THE DEMENTORS?”
“I think I owe Ginny some galleons,” Fred said with a groan, he wiped the blood that had been pouring from his nose with the sleeve of his jumper.
Phoenix laughed, “Ginny doesn’t even have eight galleons, she played you.”
“Of course she did.”
“WHO HAD TO GET PAST DRAGONS AND SPHINXES AND EVERY OTHER FOUL THING LAST YEAR? WHO SAW HIM COME BACK? WHO HAD TO ESCAPE FROM HIM? ME! BUT WHY SHOULD I KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON? WHY SHOULD ANYONE BOTHER TO TELL ME WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING?”
“Do you reckon Harry has woken up Sirius’ dear old mother?” asked Fred, as the sound of Hermione and Ron reasoning with Harry followed his yells. “He certainly can yell.”
“CAN’T’VE WANTED TO THAT MUCH, CAN YOU, OR YOU’D HAVE SENT ME AN OWL, BUT DUMBLEDORE MADE YOU SWEAR”
“I think we might have to go and diffuse the tension,” smiled Fred.
“FOUR WEEKS I’VE BEEN STUCK IN PRIVET DRIVE, NICKING PAPERS OUT OF BINS TO TRY AND FIND OUT WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON–”
“Not yet!” Phoenix said, grabbing the twin’s arms. “Let him deflate a little bit first!”
“I SUPPOSE YOU’VE BEEN HAVING A REAL LAUGH, HAVEN’T YOU, ALL HOLED UP HERE TOGETHER–”
That was the last of Harry’s yells, as far as Phoenix could tell. Fred’s nose was still bleeding, apparently, the Skiving Snackboxes were not at all perfected and it took a fair few minutes and a few tricky spells to stop the bleeding.
“Reckon they’re having a meeting?” Asked Fred, rummaging in his pockets.
“Probably,” Phoenix shrugged. “I’m not going to try and eavesdrop on another meeting when Molly has no doubt made sure you two buggers can’t hear it.”
“Worth a shot.”
The twins walked out of their room, Phoenix, whom didn’t have much to do with her time, followed suite. They reached the railing of the staircase, Phoenix frowned at the house elf heads on the wall as they passed. Fred cast a quick Extension Charm on the Extendable Ear, allowing it to grow to a longer length. He then threw the ear over the railing, in the direction of the door to the kitchen.
“Hear anything?” asked George.
“No,” Fred said, disgruntled, “Even from here, all I can hear is Harry, Ron, and Hermione.”
“Well then,” began George, “I think it’s time to pay those three loud mouths a visit.”
“Well I can already tell that you two are going to Apparate,” said Phoenix, carefully putting a good amount of space between herself and the twins.
“Not so fast Pixy,” smiled George slyly, “Come and give Georgie a hug.”
“No way,” she backed away slowly, reaching for her wand. George had quick reflexes however, he grabbed her arm and pulled her into a warm hug. She had just enough time to register the smell of his aftershave before he turned on the spot, the next thing she knew was that everything was dark, black. She was familiar with the feeling of Apparition but she was by no means used to it, she could hardly breathe as she twisted around in all directions, her ear-drums feeling as though they were moving deeper into her skull. As soon as the feeling started however, it stopped. She stood in Ron’s room in George’s arms.
“Stop doing that!” Hermione said, clutching at her chest as Phoenix shimmied out of George’s arms.
“Hell, Harry,” George greeted, giving him a wide smile. “We thought we heard your dulcet tones.”
“You don’t want to bottle up your anger like that, Harry, let it all out. There might be a couple of people fifty miles away who didn’t hear you.”
Phoenix wanted to scold Fred but she was too preoccupied with trying to stop a giggle coming out of her mouth.
“You two passed your Apparation tests, then?” Harry asked, “Three, sorry,” he added, when he noticed Phoenix’s raised brow.
“Of course!” Phoenix replied.
“It would have taken you about thirty seconds longer to walk down the stairs,” Ron mumbled.
“You try telling them that!” Phoenix said, sitting down on the bed bedsides Ron’s.
“Time is Galleons, little brother,” beamed Fred, “Anyway, Harry, you’re interfering with reception!” He held up the Extendable Ear up for Harry to see “Extendable Ears! Trying to hear what’s going on downstairs.”
“You want to be careful,” warned Ron, “if Mum sees one of them again…”
“It’s worth the risk, that’s a major meeting they’re having,” Fred replied as the bedroom door opened and Ginny stepped into the room.
“Oh, hello, Harry!” She said with a welcoming smile. “I thought I heard your voice.” She turned her attention to the twins and said, “It’s a no-go with the Extendable Ears, she’s gone and put an Imperturbable Charm on the kitchen door.”
“How d’you know?” George groaned, looking dejected.
“Tonks told me how to find out,” Ginny explained, “You just chuck stuff at the door and if it can’t make contact the door’s been Imperturbed. I’ve been flicking Dungbombs at it from the top of the stairs and they just soar away from it, so there’s no way the Extendable Ears will be able to get under the gap.”
Fred let out a deep sigh, taking a seat beside Phoenix.
“Shame. I really fancied finding out what old Snape’s been up to.”
“Snape!” Harry exclaimed, looking shocked. “Is he here?”
“Yep,” replied Phoenix.
George and Ginny sat down opposite Phoenix and Fred “Giving a report. Top secret,” said George.
“Git,” Fred added.
“He’s on our side now,” Hermione said reasonably, though she didn’t appear to look too convinced.
Ron gave a snort of laughter, “Doesn’t stop him being a git. The way he looks at us when he sees us…”
“Bill doesn’t like him, either,” Ginny mused.
“Does anyone?” Phoenix added and Ginny laughed in agreement.
“Is Bill here?” Harry enquired. “I thought he was working in Egypt?”
“He applied for a desk job so he could come home and work for the Order,” Fred explained, smirking as he did, “He says he misses the tombs, but, there are compensations…”
“What do you mean?” asked Harry.
“Remember old Fleur Delacour?” said George. “She’s got a job at Gringotts to eemprove ’er Eeenglish–”
“–and Bill’s been giving her a lot of private lessons,” Fred said with a childish giggle.
“Charlie’s also in the Order,” added Phoenix, “Though he’s still in Romania.”
“Dumbledore wants as many foreign wizards brought in as possible,” said George, “so Charlie’s trying to make contacts on his days off.”
“Couldn’t Percy do that?” Harry asked innocently. Everyone else in the room shared dark, worried looks at one another, Phoenix’s hair turned slightly red in anger.
“Whatever you do, don’t mention Percy in front of Mum and Dad,” Ron said to his best friend in a very serious voice.
Harry looked confused, “Why not?”
“Because every time Percy’s name’s mentioned, Dad breaks whatever he’s holding and Mum starts crying,” Fred explained, his jaw tightening as his did so.
“Stupid git,” added Phoenix.
“What’s happened?” Harry asked, still evidently confused, however he now looked rather concerned.
The Weasley’s then began to explain Percy’s estrangement from the family, Percy’s promotion, how the row had come about, how Arthur said it was to spy on the family and Dumbledore, how Percy had bashed his farther said that Arthur has ‘no ambition’ and was the reason why their family never had a lot of money.
“What?!” Harry had exclaimed in anger.
“I know,” said Ron darkly. “And it got worse. He said Dad was an idiot to run around with Dumbledore, that Dumbledore was heading for big trouble and Dad was going to go down with him, and that he-Percy-knew where his loyalty lay and it was with the Ministry. And if Mum and Dad were going to become traitors to the Ministry he was going to make sure everyone knew he didn’t belong to our family any more. And he packed his bags the same night and left. He’s living here in London now.”
“Mum’s been in a right state,” said Ron gloomily. “You know – crying and stuff,” Phoenix’s heart sank – the mere thought of Molly Weasley being upset made her heart break, “She came up to London to try and talk to Percy but he slammed the door in her face. I dunno what he does if he meets Dad at work – ignores him, I suppose.”
“But Percy must know Voldemort’s back,” Harry added reasonably. “He’s not stupid, he must know your mum and dad wouldn’t risk everything without proof–”
“Yeah, well, your name got dragged into the row,” said Ron, looking carefully at Harry, who didn’t look too impressed, he looked torn between guilt and anger. “Percy said the only evidence was your word and… I dunno… he didn’t think it was good enough.”
“Percy likes to follow the Daily Prophet as though it’s only way of thinking,” Phoenix said with distaste.
“What are you talking about?” Harry asked, he looked utterly confused and Phoenix thought it would have been better if she had kept her mouth shut – he wasn’t going to be pleased when he heard what the Daily Prophet had been printing about him.
“Haven’t – haven’t you been getting the Daily Prophet?” Hermione asked tentatively, apparently bracing herself for another argument.
“Yeah I have!”
“Have you – uhm – been reading it thoroughly?” Hermione added, appearing to be even more nervous.
“Not cover to cover,” Harry shrugged, “If they were going to report anything about Voldemort it would be headline news, wouldn’t it?”
Everybody besides Harry flinched at the sound of You-Know-Who’s name.
“Well, you’d need to read it cover to cover to pick it up, but they – um –,” Hermione looked at Phoenix for help.
“–They, they mention you in their articles every now and then,” Phoenix explained cautiously.
“But I’d have seen–”
“If you’ve only read the front pages, you wouldn’t,” added Phoenix, “It’s not big, headline article. They just… they use you as some sort of standing joke…”
“What do you?–”
“It’s quite nasty, actually,” Hermione murmured with a frown. “They’re just building on Rita’s stuff.”
“But she’s not writing for them anymore, is she?”
“Oh, no, she’s kept her promise – not that she’s got any choice,” Hermione said with a very satisfied look on her face. “But she laid the foundation for what they’re trying to do now.”
“Which is what?” Harry inquired, all patience he had evaporating.
“OK, you know she wrote that you were collapsing all over the place and saying your scar was hurting and all that?”
“Well, they’re writing about you as though you’re this deluded, attention-seeking person who thinks he’s a great tragic hero or something,” Hermione muttered quickly, nervousness radiating off her.
“They slip in snide comments about you whenever they see fit,” added Phoenix, “If some unbelievable story is covered, they something along the lines of…”
“‘A tale worthy of Harry Potter’” Hermione continued, “and if anyone has a funny accident or anything it’s, ‘Let’s hope he hasn’t got a scar on his forehead or we’ll be asked to worship him next’.”
Harry’s jaw locked, his green eyes seemed to darken, “I don’t want anyone to worship–”
“We know that, mate!” said George encouragingly.
“But you see what they’re doing?” Hermione said, shaking her head in disbelief, “They want to turn you into someone nobody will believe. Fudge is behind it, I’ll bet anything. They want wizards on the street to think you’re just some stupid boy who’s a bit of a joke, who tells ridiculous tall stories because he loves being famous and wants to keep it going.”
“I didn’t ask – I didn’t want – Voldemort killed my parents!” Harry choked, Phoenix felt truly sorry for Harry. She had no idea what he must be feeling – misunderstood, betrayed, angry. “I got famous because he murdered my family but couldn’t kill me! Who wants to be famous for that? Don’t they think I’d rather it’d never–”
“We know, Harry,” Ginny called solemnly.
“And of course, they didn’t report a word about the dementors attacking you,” Hermione told him, “Someone’s told them to keep that quiet.”
“Really,” added Fred, “That should have been a massive story, unruly, wild, dementors.”
“Acting out of Ministry control too by the look of it,” disclosed George.
“They haven’t even reported that you broke the International Statute of Secrecy,” interjected Hermione. “We thought they would, it would be in so well with this image of you as some stupid show-off. We think they’re biding their time until you’re expelled, then they’re really going to go to town – I mean,” she blushed slightly “if you’re expelled, obviously. You really shouldn’t be, not if they abide by their own laws, there’s no case against you.′
Harry looked rather uncomfortable, he didn’t appear to want to talk about the subject of his disciplinary hearing, and Phoenix did not blame him for that. He was, however, saved from the subject by the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs.
Fred and George looked at one another.
Fred tugged firmly at the Extendable Ear in his hand; with a loud crack both Fred and George were gone, just as Mrs. Weasley opened the bedroom door.
“The meeting’s over, you can come down and have dinner now. Everyone’s dying to see you, Harry. And who’s left all those Dungbombs outside the kitchen door?”
“Crookshanks,” Ginny said without even cracking the smallest of smile. “He loves playing with them.”
“Oh,” Mrs. Weasley replied, nodding, “I thought it might have been Kreacher, he keeps doing odd things like that. Now don’t forget to keep your voices down in the hall. Ginny, your hands are filthy, what have you been doing? Go and wash them before dinner, please…”
Ginny winked at Phoenix as they both left the room, the youngest Weasley leading the way to dinner.