Men kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn't seem to crack. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Laughter warmed the ballroom as people danced round and round the floor. The lavender and vanilla scent of the girl next to him mixed with those of the ladies' perfume and the delicious food on the long lavish tables was intoxicating him. They sat on the stage watch the colorful dresses fly by as couples held each other close. The new Minister of Magic looked endlessly pleased that so many people had come to his celebratory ball.
Sirius rolled his eyes as he watched his mother simper at Cornelius Fudge, no doubt drawing him in like a spider to a fly. He wondered idly if the new Minister would be so keen to befriend the wealthy Black clan if he knew who had their real allegiances.
He saw his aunt in her dark purple gown sweep over to his mother looking as if she smelled something foul. She whispered soemthing to her sister-in-law and Wallburga Black's heavy lidded blue eyes traveled icily towards the door. Sirius looked too and his stomach did a dreadfully conflicted flip.
There at the door stood the Cauldwells, a prominant Hufflepuff family. And standing next to her best friend, Elysa Cauldwell, was none other than his favorite, recently disowned cousin, Andromeda.
Not only was the seventeen year old run away standing with blood traitors but she was also holding the hand of Ted Tonks. Her muggleborn fiance.
Sirius's eyes darted back to his mother and aunt. Surely they would not risk their good reputation by making a scene at the Minister's ball! No, there would be no scene here. The Blacks handled such matters privately.
Sirius wished his stomach would at least act convinced that this was true.
"Sirius are you alright?" the little girl in the blue dress next to him asked in a confused voice. But when Sirius didn't answer her and continued to gape, she followed his gaze. "Oh boy. That's not good.".....
"Pads! Padfoot, wake up!"
Sirius Black was jolted awake by something hard being thrown at his head. Skull throbbing, he poked an eye open to see three other boys grinning in his direction.
"I'm not sure that was the best way to wake him, Prongs," the statuesque blonde one said dryly.
"No, Moony." The one with the bed-head and wire-rimmed glasses rolled his eyes. "It was the only way to wake him."
"Wha'thafuggoin'here?" Sirius slurred sleepily.
"Mum says we've all got to be ready by eleven."
"Diagon Alley," the one called Moony answered.
"Did our letters come?" Sirius asked, sitting up a bit.
"Yep," the chubby boy on the other side of the room said as he rummaged through his trunk.
"Well, where's mine?"
"Here," the boy who threw the book at his head threw him another item. Though this one was considerably smaller and not aimed at his head.
Sirius plucked the envelope out of the air and began to open it. "So I assume Moony got Head Boy?"
The following silence made him look up to see his friends each making a face. Moony's was rather amused while Prongs looked like someone had just pulled his arm out of it's socket. Sirius couldn't see Peter's face but he was sure, by the odd grunts emmitting from his end of the room, that he was making one.
"Well?" Sirius prompted after a moment.
"Actually, James is Head Boy," Moony answered nonchalantly.
Sirius almost choaked on his own spit from laughing so hard. "Prongs!" He giggled weazily. "... Head boy!..." burst of laughter, "... Oh, Moony!..." peels of laughter, "...You don't- you can't- you..." fits of laughter, "... Remmy, you- you don't honestly think I'm that- that-that..." silent laughter, "... Gullible!..." more laughter, "... You can't honestly 'spect me to believe that one!"
"Believe what you will, Padfoot. But James really did get the badge. I'm still a Prefect," Moony replied busily.
Sirius blinked from James to Peter-who'd paused his search to watch the excitement- back to Remus. None of them betrayed any sign that they were joking. Oh, they were good.
"You can't be serious."
"As an Apparition test," Remus answered cooly.
Oh, they were very good. But he'd crack them. Cause there was not a chance in hell the Dumbledore had gone that mental. And he'd have to be mental. Because no one in their right mind would make James, his partner in crime, Head Boy of Hogwarts.
She was back in England for three weeks before her letter came.
In between the letters from Alice, Lily and Mary (all of which were exclaiming how ecstatic they were that Lena was back), was a letter she never thought she'd be getting again.
Dear Ms. Emerson,
We are pleased to inform you the you have been reaccepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment you will need for your seventh year. Term begins September 1. We expect you owl by no later than July 31.
Hoping you are well,
Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress
"Let me see," her mother said fussily.
Lena handed her the supply list with an eye roll that made Ephie giggle acrossed the breakfast table.
"Well, looks like a trip to London is in order." Mrs. Emerson sighed, as if this was an ordeal.
Lena couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. Her mother adored shopping, especially if it was a chance to "bond" with her daughters. No doubt the act was put on for their father's sake, so he wouldn't worry about finances this early in the morning, though his nose was so buried in the morning Prophet that she doubted he even noticed the gesture.
Lena tried not to look at the headlines. If there was one thing she had learned during her three weeks back on this side of the Atlantic it was to block out those big bold letters. Things in England were far worse than they'd thought. Disappearances daily, murders cropping up left and right, and a very dark regine climbing their way up made Lena wish even more to be back in the safety of the States. Far from the day-to-day undertone of terror spreading like wild fire in the United Kingdom.
"Mind if I join you girls?" Aunt Kat asked, entering the kitchen. "I need some new robes and books. And I want to do a little Muggle shopping as well."
Lena had the sneaking suspision that this was less the case and more of a cover for what she was really wanting. To use her skills as an Auror to protect them, should the need arise. It made her stomach turn just knowing that such a precaution was nessecary...
"Don't know why she insists on coming along. It's so unnessecary!" Raina complained in an undertone as they walked through Putnam Plaza, past all the famous magical shops.
"Well, you've got to admitt," Lena whispered back as her friend eyed a pair of twinkling star spangled Quidditch gloves on sale in the window of Quincy Quidditch Outlet. "Your mum letting us go to New York for a day of shopping by ourselves was a long shot."
"Still, you'd think we were five instead of fifteen the way she treats us!"
Lena shrugged, "C'mon, let's go find some really big books at Blair Blackburn's that'll get Henry going on his 'why-do-you-guys-have-to-make-me-feel-stupid-all-the-time rants!"
"I love that one!" .... "Lena!"
"What? Sorry?" she said hazily snapping back into reality to find her whole family staring.
"I said," her mother began again in exasperation, "go take a shower and get dressed. I want both of you girls ready to go by eleven. I mean it, no dawdling."
The girls scarfed down the rest of breakfast like they hadn't eaten in years and raced each other to the shower in the bathroom they were sharing. Shouting various things as "I've got dibs!" and "You're a hot water hog!" and "But you clog up the drain!"
"C'mon guys," Sirus said two hours later. "Joke is over. There is no way Dumbledore would make Prongsy Head Boy. Unless he hit his head on something hard. Something really, really,really, REALLY-"
"Padfoot!" James cut acrossed him sensitively. "We're not joking! Now please focus, will you? We've got to figure out what to we need for our beginning-of-the-year prank."
"Well," Sirius glared. Annoyed that they insisted on keeping up the hoax when he'd already figured them out. They'd even got Mrs. Potter in on it! Fawning all over her wittle Jamesy like he'd actually made Head Boy rather than lecturing them about keeping the pranks to a minimum this year. "We need dungbombs."
"And fireworks," Peter added.
"Good thinking, Wormtail," James encouraged.
Sirius suspected he was just happy to be off of the topic of his really bad attempt at a joke. Head Boy, yeah right. Ha!
"We'll need lots of those."
"I don't know," Remus- the group's conscience- said apprehensively. "Do you really think it's safe? Setting them off in such a confined space."
"Oh, lighten up, Moon," Peter beamed.
"Well someone's got to be realistic," Remus said with a wry smile.
"We're plenty realistic," Prongs said. "Like right now, I'm realistic enough to know that there is no way we can get all the stuff on this list and our school lists and be back at the house by the time mum said she would send out the search party."
"Alright," Sirius said in a businesslike voice. "James and I'll get the pranking stuff, Remus you can go get our books- since we all know you're dying to go to Flourish and Blotts anyway- and Peter, can you handle getting all of our Potions stuff?"
The chubby boy nodded eagerly.
"Okay, we'll all meet at Madame Malkin's."
And with that the boys dispersed.
"Sirius! Sirius, talk to me!" Egraina hollered but her friend kept walking. His back was ridged so she knew he'd heard her, Sirius never stood that straight. "The least you could do is talk to me after the way you treated me!"
He whirled around indignantly. "The way I treated you!" he spat. "The way I treated you? You're leaving! You're choosing to move all the way acrossed the ocean and go to a different school and I'm the one mistreating you!"
"Ha! Got you talking," Grainie grinned.
She didn't know what she had expected. Possibly for him to smile back and give her a hug. Tell it would all be okay, like her girl friends had and promise to write her every day.
She'd done some research and found out the all their owls would have to do was fly to the nation's capital. Every country had a Post Overseas System. The owl flew to the headquarters and wizards would transport the letters over the ocean to the country of your choice where another, unfamiliar owl would finish the journey. She wanted to tell Sirius all about it and how they'd still be able to talk and she'd come back for holidays.
But judging by the stony expression on her friend's face, he wasn't interested. This became even more appearant when he truned his back on her again and walked away.
"Sirius!" she called after him.
But he didn't turn around, and before she could catch up, he was gone...
It turned out that Lena and her sister only needed three things off of their school lists. Everything else they had American versions of that they'd grown unnaturally attached to over the past few years. Like the state-of-the-art, Sagitta X racing brooms they both gotten from their parents last Christmas. All they had to get were Potions ingredients, new school robes and books.
The school robes took longer than expected. Lena was used to a faster pace and learned that she scarcely had the patience anymore for little Madame Malkin. She took her sweet time pinning and mending and altering all of their new robes. Ephie's moutain load and Lena's small pile combined and it was nearly an hour and a half later that they left the shop with bags full of their neatly pressed robes.
"C'mon, we're running short on time now," her aunt said once they were back on the Alley. "We've still got to get your potions things and you books."
"And we need more owl treats," Ephie announced as she gave a furtive come-hither look to a boy coming out of Quality Quidditch Supplies.
Lena rolled her eyes, "Why don't we save time? Mum, you and Ephie can go get the Potions things and Aunt Kat and I will go to Flourish and Blotts."
Mrs. Emerson eyed her daughter reluctantly but- from what Lena could tell- could think of no reason to protest. So she and her aunt went towards the bookstore and her mother and sister headed into the Apothecary.
"Smooth move, Emerson." Kat smirked, "very smooth."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Lena fought the smile trying to push it's way onto her lips.
"Don't you play coy with me, Egraina Kathleen Isabella Elena Marie. I taught you everything you know," she said slyly. "You only wanted to split up so we could have more time in the bookshop."
"Alright, alright! I confess!" Lena said in a melodramatic voice, loud enough for people all around them to stare. She held out her hands for her to put imaginary shackles on, "Take me away!"
She laughed, "C'mon, loon, let's go troll the bookstore."
"Sheesh," she grinned, "Madame Auror, you sure know how to torture a girl."
"Yeah, yeah, " she pretended to grumble and she pull Lena, her very willing prisoner, into Flourish and Blotts.
Twenty minutes later, they were still there.
They'd gotten all of the books Lena and Ephie would need for the approaching year within the first five minutes. Now the two browsed solely for recreational purposes while they waited for Lena's mother and sister to meet them.
Upon seeing her aunt in the Magical Cook Book section, Lena made a mental note to drag Ephie for Muggle take out tonight and the next night. Aunt Kat had tried to cook before and the results were lethal.
"Lena," her aunt's voice rang from the front of the busy store.
She looked up to see her mother- looking quite anxious to leave, her sister- carrying twice as many more bags as she'd been the last time Lena had seen her, and her aunt- who had indeed bought a new cook book. (Merlin save them!) Her mother motioned her to hurry over and she held up a finger in a give-me-a-moment gesture and disappeared down another isle.
She picked up a book with an interesting title and cover- yes, Lena was the type to judge books by their covers, literally- and was reading the summary as she walked towarsds the counter to pay when...
The books flew out of her hands and she hit the floor.
"Oh, sorry!" a deep yet soft voice said.
She looked up to see a very handsome young man with all of her new books already in one hand and the other stratched out to help her up.
"No," she told him in the accent she'd aquired at Salem, taking the hand he offered. If he was surprised to here her Americanized voice he didn't let on. "It was my fault. I shouldn't try to read and walk at the same time."
They chuckled together and she took the moment to appreciate how very good looking he was, despite the nasty scratches on his face and arms. (No doubt from some stupid testosterone fueled sport he played.) His blonde hair fell ever so slightly into his kind green eyes and there was something vaguely familiar about the friendly way he smiled at her as he handed her the pile of books she'd dropped. Lena could place him though so she stopped trying, for fear that she would look like a lunatic just staring for too long.
"Thanks," she smiled, taking her books from him. Then very stupidly she stuck out her hand and said, "I'm Lena."
Instead of looking at her like she was as stupid as she now felt, he took her hand to shake and said, "Nice to meet you, Lena."
"Len, c'mon!" her sister's impatient voice came from somewhere in the front.
Blushing, she made a quick exit before she could make even more of a fool of herself. "Yeah well, I've gotta go."
"See you around I guess," the handsome bloke said as she walked away.
Yeah, she mentally snorted, that'll happen. When hell freezes over. Handsome boys, such as this one rarely fratranized with girls like Lena. They went for bimbo blondes or flirty girls, like Ephie. Not someone with her feet firmly planted on the ground.
But instead of voicing her doubts she merely replied, "Yeah, maybe."
Before going to join her family at the front of the shop.
(I'm so so so sorry for the wait! I hope the chapter was worth it! Review please! <3 RED)
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