A/N - I've rewritten this chapter recently because I read over the old version while trying to pen the third chapter and decided I didn't like it that much. This is the same generally gist but I've tweaked a few things and generally written it better.
I stood outside the Cabin and took it all in, the surroundings, the building before me and the heat. I'd lived in England all my life and I knew for a fact this was abnormally warm weather even in the summer. The sun was beating down and neither my sunglasses nor the dense conifer branches overhead did much to protect my eyes and body from its blaze.
It was mid day when I had arrived outside, standing before the cabin. It wasn't a huge building considering there would be six of us sharing it, in fact from the outside it looked like it could comfortably accommodate three, if one of us wasn't too crazy about laying down to sleep, I hoped there was an enchantment on the place and it was actually a lot bigger than it seemed. Directly in front of me was a set of steps that led to a decked porch about a foot off the ground, the front door was directly before the stairs. The cabin was built of thick, heavy, dark logs that looked to be rotting slightly in some places. The whole area was surrounded by Conifer's and although I couldn't see a stream I could hear she sound of running water nearby.
A mosquito flew past and I wiped the sweat off the back of my neck, frowning as I watched it fly by. This wasn't any part of England I'd seen before and I found myself wondering where I was and how I got here. Well, ok, I knew the answer to the second question; Dumbledore. He'd come up with a new project, select six random students and stick them in a cabin in the middle of no-where for the summer. I had been given a key to the cabin and been told there would be a list of rules to read upon the arrival, although I wouldn't know who I was going to be sharing the cabin with until I got there. The general idea was that when we went back for 7th year we would have found knew friends...that or we’d kill each other.
In the back of my mind I knew it was preparation, Dumbledore was making one last ditch effort to unite the Hogwarts Houses before the war no one talked about but everyone knew was coming. He'd been making a valiant attempt at this for years and everyone knew it was only Slytherin we had to worry about when the Dark Lord came knocking on Hogwart's door. I didn't mind being a guinea pig for the greater good, I knew better than anyone that there were exceptions to the Slytherins-are-bastards rule.
I came from a long line of Slytherin's and the moment the Sorting Hat was placed on my head I felt a hiss in my ear and one sentence was whispered to me 'Sometimes personality has nothing to do with it. Sometimes it's all about blood'. From that moment on I was in Slytherin and I knew for a fact I didn't belong there. I was probably a perfect candidate for test dummy role, but I couldn't help feeling out of place. Stood outside a rotting log cabin, standing on a bed of dead pine needles and surrounded by wilderness while wearing a white summer dress that floated about around my legs and matched my white sandals, a brown suede belt laying on my hips and a golden locket with the letter 'L' engraved on its front. Well brought up young lady standing in the wilderness. Perfect.
I sighed and walked to the door, the strap of my single bag slung over my shoulder. I had packed light, jeans, t-shirts, underwear, the big t-shirt I liked to sleep in and some summer dresses - I loved wearing dresses. I had nothing fancy with me, I knew this wasn’t' a holiday, even so I was happy for an excuse to get away from my parents for the summer.
Opening the door I was relieved to find my suspicion had been correct, there was an enchantment on the cabin. The front door opened into a large, rectangular, kitchen/living room, a counter being the only thing separating the two. To the right was the kitchen, it's units covering half of the right end wall beside a door, and part of the wall opposite me beside a pair of double glass doors that led onto a back porch and then into a slope of luxurious grass and to a stream I could see far down at the bottom of the garden. The counter joined onto the kitchen units against the back wall creating a separated section of the room. The living room area was to the left, there was book shelves along most of the right wall, all filled to the brim with books. A green three-person-sofa stood beside the book shelves, facing out of the glass doors, a green armchair on both sides, and a coffee table stood on a white rug on top of the wood panelled floor in front of the sofa, between the glass doors and the book shelves was a square box thing that I recognised from Muggle studies to be a television. There was a lot of empty space between the sofas and the kitchen, we could easily all spread out on the floor and still fit quite comfortably. There was another door on the left wall opposite the one on the right. I assumed these led to bedrooms.
I recovered from my initial awe of the room enough to look around properly. I wasn't the first to arrive. Harry Potter immediately caught my attention sitting in one of the armchairs, I often suspected Syltherin's had a built in radar that allowed them to pick Harry out of a crowd from thirty paces away. That way we could scurry off and report to the nearest death Eater. It was a disturbing thought but one I couldn't keep from my mind all the same. Ronald Weasley sat on the sofa and Hermione Granger was investigating the books on the shelf. Draco Malfoy leant against the kitchen counter glaring furiously at the cluster of Gryffindor's. They had all turned to look at me when I came in, Harry offered a small smile that quickly disappeared and the other's stared blank-faced trying to work out which house I was in.
I flicked my gaze between the group, "Random selection my arse," I sighed.
Harry's lips twitched into a smile and Hermione and Ron exchanged a glance that told me they had probably been thinking the same thing. Malfoy snorted and turned his back to me, choosing to stare disgustedly out of the window.
The door to my right opened and a young man emerged. He had shaggy brown hair, faded jeans, plain blue t-shirt, dark brown eyes and a 100 watt smile. He had a charmingly scruffy look about him and the sight of him brought a smile to my face.
"Lexi," He beamed, walking over to me. He kissed me on the forehead and took the bag off my shoulder and slinging it over his own.
Ryan Kedzuri had been my best friend since I was old enough to wander out of the garden. We'd met when I had climbed a tree in the forest near my home and fallen asleep there, I woke up to find Ryan staring intently at me with his big brown eyes. He was bigger than me, he was stronger than me and he was safe so I'd stuck by him and he'd never complained. I gave him a grin, I couldn’t have been happier to see him at that moment; I had not been looking forward to the prospect of spending all summer in a cabin with five people I didn't know, especially since I was pretty shy. I was happy to have Ryan with me, at least one person I could rely on no matter what, and he brought the confidence out in me...sort of. He recognised my relief and ruffled my hair, sending me another of his dazzling grins. He was definitely gorgeous, but as much as I loved Ryan I never managed to fall in love with him. We'd tried it once but it never happened for us, we had quickly settled back into being friends and never mentioned it since. I was pretty sure Ryan was in Slytherin for the same reasons as me; in the eyes of some a vibrant personality was never more important than your blood, and Ryan's family had been Slytherin's longer than mine.
I took another look around the room and the connections between the 'random selection' of students sprang through my mind. Malfoy was Harry's enemy. Harry was Ron's best friend. Hermione was the final member of the golden trio. Hermione and me were good friends. Me and Ryan were best friends. Ryan was one of the few people with any remote influence over Malfoy. Dumbledore had managed to link Harry Potter to Draco Malfoy through four other people. What an opportunity to step in and manipulate said people into an alliance between good and evil? Nice try, but something in my mind told me it wouldn't work out like Dumbledore was probably hoping.
Ryan disappeared off through the door to the left and reappeared without my bag. "You want a drink?"
I shook my head no.
"Liar. You'd be dehydrated and not bother telling anyone," Ryan replied getting a glass out of the cupboard under one of the kitchen units, taking a jug of water out of the refrigerator and pouring me a glass. Sometimes it was worrying how well he knew me.
"You want something to eat?" He asked when I'd finished my drink.
"Fat chance," Ron grunted, "The cupboards are all empty, that water is the only thing in the frig too,"
"It's called a fridge," Hermione said absently as she flicked through a leather bound book, "Short for refrigerator," She paused and then looked up as if she had only just registered Ron's words. "They can't all be empty, what are we supposed to eat?" She strolled into the kitchen area and threw open a few cupboard doors, "This is ridiculous, are we supposed to just starve?"
I glanced at Hermione, she was sounding a little high pitched, "It's ok Hermione, we can go buy food. I think there was a village around here somewhere..."
Ryan shot me a look and I stopped talking, "We can't leave," he said, all traces of his smile gone.
"We can't leave?" I asked, darting a glance to the empty cupboards.
"There's a charm on the door, we can't get out, we've tried," Harry replied walking to the kitchen and pouring a drink of his own, he shot Malfoy a dirty look and my guess was a blazing row shortly after their arrivals and one of them attempting to storm off.
"Do you really I'd still be standing here with you people if we could leave?" Malfoy sneered, I flicked my gaze to him and saying he was unhappy would be an understatement.
"Oh shut it, Malfoy," Hermione snapped, calmer now and leaning against the kitchen cabinets.
"Yeah because we're all bloody chuffed about being here with you to, Malfoy?" Ron said darkly from his armchair, he stood and moved to join the rest of the group, turning his gaze to me as he got a glass of water himself, "We can only get as far as the end of the porch and then it's like...it's like you're frozen in place. You want to walk down the stairs and leave but you're body won't let you,"
Harry suddenly looked up at me, his expression slightly bashful, "You must think we're rude," He said with a slight smile, "I'm Harry,"
He held out his hand and I shook it with a smile, "Lex,"
"Isn't that a boy's name?" Harry frowned.
"Nickname," I replied, "My full name is Alexandre Bion,"
Ron wandered over and offered his hand too, "Ron Weasley," he smiled. I shook his hand and was feeling a tad claustrophobic. I was still stood in front of the door, Ryan at my right, Harry to my left and Ron in front of me.
"How touching," Malfoy sneered, "And in you're giddy expedition to make new friends did you happen to notice you're making a human sandwich? With a Slytherin girl no less! What would old Godric think?"
Both boy stepped away, Harry out of politeness and Ron fixing me with a look of suspicion.
"She doesn't belong in Slytherin," Hermione snapped at Malfoy, "The sorting hat makes mistakes,"
"Her family is one of the older Slytherin families left, she could skip around a field of daisies holding hands with house elves and talking about peace and harmony and she would still be placed in Slytherin. It's in her blood," Malfoy sneered back. Even through his 'We're just better' tone he was giving me a disgusted look. The Bion family dated back just about as long as the Malfoy's for Slytherin's, and then I came along and screwed things up. I was in Slytherin but the fear was there that if I grew up and had children none of them would be in Slytherin; and Slytherin lines suddenly converting to Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw or - heaven forbid - Gryffindor, just isn't heard of.
Ryan had tried don numerous occasions to create some sort of friendship between me and Malfoy, it had failed due to great hostility on Malfoy's part and a lot of 'I will not socialise with that Hufflepuff brained girl whether her father is a Death Eater or not!'
Ryan shot Malfoy a look and then turned to me, his expression softening, "The point is we can't leave,"
"Did you read Dumbledore's note?" I asked.
The boys all stared at me blankly but Hermione perked up, "Oh! Of course! We were told we'd receive a list of rules! An explanation of the charms he'd placed on the cabin, that way we wouldn't accidentally kill ourselves...I assume there is some explanation as to how we can get food,"
Ryan sent me a questioning look, I shrugged. I was the one that suggested it that doesn't mean I knew were it was.
Hermione set about sending people off in search for Dumbledore's note. I wandered off to the door on the right and found myself in a hallway, a window straight across from me giving a view into the pines and conifer's outside. On my left were two doors, I opened the first and found a fairly roomy two-bed bedroom. I opened the next door and it was the same, the set out meant the cabin was a U-shape.
I wandered back into the living room and through the door on the left. The same set-up only through one of the doors was the bathroom. My bag sat on one of the beds in the bedroom by the bathroom and I assumed me and Hermione would be sharing this room. Hermione was stood staring at a door at the far end of our bedroom.
"Where does that go?" I asked.
"I don't know it’s locked. I went out into the garden but u can't even see the door from out there,"
I stared at it, there was something captivating about it but I saw no real purpose for it, "Maybe there used to be another room. How did you see it from outside? I thought we couldn't get off the porch?"
"We can go into the back garden," Hermione said absently, her attention fixed on the door as if she was willing it to open. "We can get as far as the stream at to bottom of the garden,"
I nodded and wandered off to find Ryan. I found him in one of the other bedroom, Ron and Harry were sharing one, and Ryan and Malfoy were sharing the other. This arrangement wouldn't be quick to unite the houses but it would avoid bloodshed.
Ryan grinned at me, Malfoy glared at me, "You hungry yet, sweetheart?" Ryan asked.
I shook my head again.
"Would you tell me if you were?"
I gave him a sly smile and he chuckled in reply. "You're hopeless,"
By midnight we were all irritable and hungry, unable to sleep with our bellies rumbling. Me and Ryan spread out on the space of floor between the kitchen and the living room. I lay stretched out on my stomach with my feet up in the air as Ryan read to me from one of the books from the shelves.
Harry had the 'TV' working and was grumbling that there were only two channels so the choices were Muggle news or cartoons, neither of which particularly interested us. Ron and Hermione were sat on the sofa talking in hushed tones. I watched them for a few minutes and noticed they were sitting very close together and Harry had angled himself so that he was purposefully ignoring them, giving them privacy I assumed. It occurred to me that everyone in this room was deeper than they had appeared when I had first walked in earlier in the day and that thought fascinated me.
Eventually we were all tired, we all shuffled off to our rooms bidding each other goodnight. I slept peacefully; there was the sound of crickets and the rustle of wind through the trees but no glass breaking in the dead of night and no screams to wake me up. The cabin felt safe. A feeling I wasn't used to at my own home, It was nice.
The next day when we got up things were different. No one seemed awkward like we had yesterday, conversation just flowed and there was no strained silences. There was an oddly relaxing feel to the cabin and its company.
By mid morning we were had gotten over our rumbling stomach and were sat n the armchairs swapping stories, getting to know each other a little better. Malfoy didn't join in of course, he sat in his room sulking, wandering out onto the porch for a while and then skulking back inside. He opened the double glass doors and sat just outside them on the back porch staring out at the fields and woodland past the stream with longing clear on his face...or clear to me anyway.
I stood up and walked to the door, Ryan jumped up after me and followed, he didn't like me to wander about on my own. He question what I was doing. I went to the front door and opened it gently, stepped out onto the porch got to the top of the stairs and paused, only for a beat, and then i trotted down the stairs and stood on the soft dirt ground. Ryan stood at the top of the stairs and grinned at me. He followed me down the stairs and stared back up at them in something between awe and confusion. No freezing sensation, no inability to leave the porch.
Harry, Ron and Hermione stood in the doorway staring at us, "How did you...?"
A note dropped from seemingly nowhere and Hermione grabbed it on its route down to the floor. Her eyes lit up and she read aloud:
"Welcome! This house does not have many rules, a few charms have been placed to help you settle and feel at home but very few are in place to control your behaviour. My first and most important rule is that no one may permanently leave the cabin until summer comes to a close. Your belongings will be waiting for you and you will return immediately back to Hogwarts. You will have found this note because someone has managed to leave the grounds even though there are charms in place to keep this from happening. I will explain that you may only leave the grounds of the cabin if you have every intention of returning,"
Ryan gave me a sad look at this. He had managed to leave because he had every intention of following me wherever I went. I was able to leave because not for any money would I leave the cabin and return home at this point.
"Anywhere but home?" Ryan muttered softly.
I nodded confirmation and we both redirected our attention to Hermione.
"My second rule is that no aggressive magic may take place. No duels, no hexes, and no curses that will harm another member of the household. There is no charm to prevent this; it is more a humble request. At the end of the summer upon your return to Hogwarts you will be privately reintroduced to the sorting hat, you will not move houses; it is more for the sake of experimentation. Enjoy your stay and do your best. Sincerely Dumbledore,"
I paused until I was sure Hermione had finished reading the note and then I turned and wandered off in the direction of the road I knew lurked somewhere beyond the trees.
"Where are you going?" Hermione asked.
I turned and stared at her, "To get food,"
Hermione nodded and ushered Harry and Ron back into the cabin. Ryan strode after me until he caught then he turned back. "We'll be back in a little while,"
I turned to see who he was talking and saw Malfoy stood on the porch watching me with an intent look. He nodded and sat on the bench by the front door, waiting. I met his gaze and for a moment we just stared at each other. I have no idea what he was thinking but I was trying to get a message through to him. We are coming back; we won't leave you with them. Then I turned and followed Ryan.
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