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It was time to tell Harry and his friends a little bit about herself, so, as she had promised them, Ariel invited them to go with her to the lake.


They sat by a tree next to it; the very same tree Harry saw his father and Sirius harassing Snape in the Pensieve. Harry smiled at the thought and how he had been disappointed to see his father and his mother arguing with each other, and then Sirius and Lupin telling him they were all idiots back then when he expressed his concern to them using Umbridge’s fireplace in his fifth year.


He was woken from his reverie when he felt Ginny’s hand holding his. Harry looked at her and they smiled.


‘Ready for the party tonight?’ Ariel asked.


‘Is it going to be a celebration party for the family of the students only?’ Hermione asked.



‘Well... I suppose, I mean...’ Ariel said and looked at them, smiling, ‘there will be a little ceremony to pay homage to you, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, but it will be very short! Professor Dumbledore thinks the Ministry wants some credit for doing nothing... much, let’s say!’



They all laughed.



‘Ariel, is it for real? I mean... Are you and Sirius really going to get married?’ Harry asked. Ariel smiled.



‘I would like to elope, but I doubt my Grandfather would like this idea! I’m too old, but at the same time, he still thinks I’m 6 years old,’ she said and they smiled. ‘There will probably be a huge party here in the castle.’



‘That is amazing!’ Ginny said.



‘Yeah...getting married here, at Hogwarts.’ Hermione said with a dreamy smile.



‘Especially because Hogwarts is my home! Having been raised by Dumbledore...’ Ariel said and they looked at her with an intrigued look.



‘What do you mean, ‘being raised by Professor Dumbledore’?’ Ron asked curiously. Hermione snapped at him, nudging his rib. He looked at her, ‘What was that for?’ he asked, confused.



Ariel smiled and crossed her legs. ‘Well...’ she started, ‘my family was murdered. The Ministry never discovered who killed them, but Grandfather thinks that it is something to do with Voldemort, and his followers at that time. Unfortunately, I never remember if I saw something that night! I was 6 years old... My mother worked at the Ministry as an Unspeakable and my father was an Auror. The murderers entered our house and killed them, I wasn’t killed only because my mother told me to run and never stop until I found some place safe... And so did I, I ran into the woods and hid in a hollow tree, until my Grandfather found me, five hours later, when they couldn’t find my body in the house. Grandfather has his theories and in one of them, he really thinks it was Voldemort and his Death Eaters... revenge because Grandfather is always in his way! Maybe...’ she added.



‘I’m so sorry to hear that’, Hermione said. Ginny nodded in agreement and Ron looked down at the grass. Harry kept staring at the lake, not knowing exactly what to say. Their stories were very similar: both had their families destroyed supposedly by the same person, but she had been lucky to have Dumbledore, not the Dursleys as relatives.



‘That’s fine... I had a happy childhood,’ Ariel continued. ‘Grandfather thought it was the best for me to be with him, not with any other member of the Black family or the Loiseaux. The only Black family member I could count on was cousin Andromeda, but she is Narcissa and Bellatrix’s sister and besides, she had just gotten married to Ted Tonks. As for the Loiseaux, my grandparents were dead and my Uncle Albus was in Egypt, so I came to live here at Hogwarts with Grandfather Dumbledore. He was already the Headmaster and none of the other teachers objected. He made a very nice room for me, next to his own.’



‘Here?’ Ginny asked, surprised.



‘Yes, I will show it to you sometime. It’s not in his study, but it’s next to it,’ Ariel said with a smile. ‘I was happy living here. I didn’t have a regular childhood, but it was good enough.’



‘You must know the castle very well,’ Ron said with an excited look.



‘Yes, I do,’ she agreed with a smile.



‘She was very useful when we decided to make the Marauders’ Map, although she didn’t let us put her room in it, if that’s what you’re thinking, Harry,’ a voice said from behind them and they looked at the tall man with long black hair standing there. Harry and the others laughed. Ariel and Sirius smiled at each other, as he sat next to her.



‘Did you really help them?’ Harry asked.



‘Yes, she knows every passage in this castle,’ Sirius said proudly and held Ariel’s hand.


‘Well, I was only six when I came to live here,’ she repeated. ‘Grandfather reckoned it was good for me to have private classes with him during the day and then, I used to sneak around the castle to play with my dolls and toys the rest of the time!’ she said and they laughed. ‘I, sometimes, liked to be around the students, but they didn’t like my presence very much. When I turned eleven, I remember Grandfather telling me it was time to become a Hogwarts student, so he went with me to Diagon Alley and we had so much fun together. We bought my robes, my books... Everything I would need and then, we went to Florean Fortescue’s to have ice cream together. It was a perfect day!’ she said with a dreamy look in her eyes. ‘And I remember on September 1st, he took me to Kings Cross Station to put me on the Hogwarts Express, to arrive here like all the other students.’



‘And it was there that we... I can say... met one another,’ Sirius added and Ariel nodded.



‘How exactly did you meet?’ Harry and Ron asked curiously at the same time and they smiled.




KINGS CROSS STATION, PLATFORM 9¾, SEPTEMBER 5, 1971




The station was filled with students and parents saying goodbye to their children. The Hogwarts Express had its doors open, waiting for the kids to board it. Sirius Black, already inside the train, waved to his younger brother, Regulus and his parents, and went to find an empty compartment. He knew his cousins Narcissa and his favorite one, Andromeda, who was in the seventh year now, should be around, but he wanted to find a compartment to himself and maybe make some friends. He searched around the train, finding a compartment with a boy who had dirty blond hair and a tired and scared face, just as a boy with untidy jet-black hair and glasses stopped next to him. The three boys looked at one another for a moment.



‘Sorry, I reckoned it was empty,’ Sirius said.



‘There’s only me in here,’ said the boy in the compartment. ‘You can stay.’



‘Oh, thank you very much,’ the boy wearing glasses said and showed the door to Sirius. ‘You first, mate.’



Sirius smiled and they entered, accomodating their trunks and sitting. Sirius smiled to the boys.



‘I’m Sirius, by the way. Sirius Black,’ he said, introducing himself.



‘James Potter,’ the boy with untidy hair and glasses said, pushing the glasses up on the bridge of his nose. He and Sirius looked at the other boy for a moment.



‘I’m Remus Lupin,’ he finally said.



‘Hello,’ James greeted him. ‘So... it’s your first year at Hogwarts?’



The two boys nodded, Sirius with a huge smile on his face.



‘Is it yours as well?’ he asked.



‘Yeah... I was counting the days to come!’ James said excitedly. ‘When I got my letter, I made mum and dad go to Diagon Alley straight away to buy my supplies!’



They laughed. The boy called Remus looked out of the window when the train crossed a vast green field. James and Sirius looked at each other, and James shrugged.



‘So... what house do you lot want to be placed in?’ James asked.



‘I will probably be in Slytherin, like all my family,’ Sirius answered with a resigned face.



‘It’s a good house,’ James said, biting his lower lip, ‘I hope to be in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. And you?’ he asked Remus, who looked at them and shrugged.



‘I don’t know... any house,’ he answered vaguely.



‘Any house?’ James asked again, disappointed.



‘Yeah,’ Remus answered, then sighed, ‘maybe Hufflepuff... I really don’t know.’



‘Hufflepuff is a good house, too,’ James said reassuringly. Sirius nodded and Remus gave a weak smile.



‘But it would be really brilliant if we could all be in the same house,’ Sirius said with a smile and the other two boys smiled as well.



Just then, the compartment door was open and a fat, blond boy entered it and closed the door behind him. His clothes and face were covered with something similar to a troll’s bogey.



‘Sorry! Can I stay here for a while?’ the fat boy asked. The three boys looked at one another and nodded.



‘Sure, what happened?’ Sirius asked.



‘Some boys are chasing me just because I asked if I could sit with them,’ the boy said, looking at the other boys with suspicion. James shook his head quickly.



‘Don’t worry, we won’t do anything,’ he said.



‘You are safe here,’ Sirius said and stretched his hand. ‘I am Sirius Black.’



‘Pe... Peter Pettigrew,’ the fat blond boy said, taking Sirius’s hand and shaking it. James smiled and stretched his hand.



‘James Potter,’ he introduced himself and they shook hands, then Peter looked at Remus, who finally stretched his hand.



‘Remus Lupin! Nice to meet you,’ Remus said.



‘Same here,’ Peter said.



‘So, Peter, take a seat,’ Sirius said with a grin and took his wand, ‘let me help you with this.’



‘But we are not supposed to use magic...’ Remus started saying.



‘Don’t worry, mate,’ Sirius said and pointed at Peter. ‘Scourgify!’



Peter looked at his clothes and smiled. ‘Thanks!’



‘No problem,’ Sirius said.



‘Brilliant, mate,’ James said, impressed.



‘Thanks,’ Sirius said with a smile, ‘my favourite cousin Andromeda taught me this.’



‘Cool!’ James and Peter said together, impressed.



‘My father taught me some magic, but he asked me not to use it at home, only at school,’ James said matter-of-factly.



‘Yeah... err... my parents... they really don’t care about... you know... rules,’ Sirius said, ‘but I try to use it only when it is necessary.’



The boys nodded. Soon the conversation was about their favorite foods, pets they were bringing to Hogwarts, what they knew about the castle and so on. Around lunchtime, the witch with the snack trolley knocked on their door and the boys bought as many candies as they could carry, and they had fun sharing what they bought, laughing and chatting; even Remus joined the other three and was now more relaxed.



‘Is that true that you can only join the Quidditch team in the second year?’ Peter asked.



‘Yeah, I’ll try next year though,’ James said.



‘Me too!’ Sirius said enthusiastically. ‘When I play, I play as a Keeper, but I’m better at the Chaser position.’



‘My dad says I have good responses and can see from afar,’ James said, proudly, and then looked at Peter and Remus. ‘Don’t you lot play?’



‘No... My mum doesn’t let me,’ Peter said a little ashamed, ‘she thinks it’s too dangerous.’



‘No, I don’t like it very much... to play,’ Remus quickly added, ‘but I love to watch it.’



‘Quidditch? I love to play it!’ a girlish voice came from the door and the four heads inside the compartment snapped to look at it. A girl with long and straight black hair was standing in the doorway with a smile. ‘Hi! Can I stay here? I hate talking to the girls, they have been giggling and screaming since we got onto the train! I’m Ariel Loiseau, and you, boys?’ she closed the door and sat between Sirius and Remus. The boys looked at one another with an amused and perplexed face.



‘James Potter’, he said as he stretched his hand for her to shake.



‘Hi, James,’ she said, shaking it, then looked at the other boys.



‘Peter Pettigrew.’



‘Remus Lupin.’



‘Sirius Black,’ Sirius said, looking at her by his side.



She gasped. ‘Black!’ she said, widening her eyes. ‘Are you sure?’



The boys snorted.



‘Uh... if my parents didn’t deceive me...’ he said with a mocking face.



‘Maybe we are related... I’m a Black too! My mum was a Black, but she was cut off the family tree when she married my dad,’ she said with a shrug.



‘Oh, sorry,’ Sirius said.



‘That’s OK, they are dead now and I've lived with my Grandfather Albus in Hogwarts since I was six,’ she stated.



‘Really?’ James asked enthusiastically.



‘She’s joking,’ Sirius said.



‘I am not joking! It’s true!’ she said, looking at him. ‘But I asked him to come to London and go back to school along with the other students!’



‘Then tell us about the school,’ Sirius defied her.



Ariel gave a huge smile.



‘What do you want to know about the school?’ she asked.



The boys exchanged mischievous smiles.



‘Well... anything,’ James said.



‘OK... There are loads of secret passages in the castle,’ she started.



‘Oh, really? Now tell me something nobody knows,’ Sirius said impatiently.



‘Don’t be rude, Sirius,’ she said, slapping his hand. He looked at her in disbelief and the other boys tried to hide their laughter. Remus even looked at the landscape through the window.



‘Hey!’ Sirius said, looking at her.



‘I can make a map of the school and all the secret passages if you want,’ she said, matter-of-factly. ‘But I won’t! You really don’t deserve to know about it, Black!’



‘Forget about him, tell us!’ James said. Ariel smiled.



‘OK... Let me see...’ she made a thoughtful face, and then gave a huge and bright smile. ‘Well, in one of the rooms of the castle, there is a stone statue of a one-eyed witch... You must have a wand to open the passageway and touch it, saying Dissendium! The one-eyed witch will open the passage and you will find a corridor that takes you to the cellar of Honeydukes in Hogsmeade,’ she said and the boys widened their eyes.



‘Codswallop’, Sirius snorted.



‘It’s not and I can prove it,’ she replied.



‘That’s a challenge!’ Sirius provoked.



‘OK!’ she said defiantly and stretched her hand. ‘Next Saturday, first thing in the morning!’



‘Wait a minute,’ Peter said, ‘how do you know? Did you ever have a wand before?’



‘As a matter of fact, yes, I mean... no, but there’s a room where you can find loads of lost objects, you just need to need them!’ she tried to explain. ‘Well, I have to find this room again, I really can’t remember where it is.’



‘I don’t buy it’, Sirius said, still skeptical.



‘All right,’ she settled, ‘I will prove it to you lot! There are six passages and I will show you all of them!’ she sighed. ‘Or maybe not, you lot think I’m lying... Bad for you!’



‘No, no, no, we don’t think you’re lying,’ Peter said and looked at the others for support.



‘Yes,’ James said, ‘actually, Loiseau... I really like you! It’s not every girl that likes Quidditch and adventure!’



‘Thanks’, she said with a smile.



During the rest of the trip to Hogwarts, the five kids chatted and had fun together, laughing and telling stories; even Sirius seemed to forget teasing Ariel. Remus looked through the window, then at the others.



‘We must be close by now,’ he said.



‘I hope so,’ Sirius said. ‘I’m getting bored spending the whole day on this train.’



James nodded. ‘I can’t wait to see the castle’, he said. ‘My dad said it’s amazing.’



‘So did my mother’, Peter said, and then looked nervously at Ariel. ‘Do you mind my asking you how the new students are sorted in their houses?’



‘Oh, with a hat made by the four founders,’ she answered. ‘But I’ve never been in the ceremony, sorry.’



‘A hat?’ James asked, excited.



‘Yeah, the Sorting Hat. It stays in Grandfather Albus’ office,’ she added.



‘And I suppose you never tried it on?’ Sirius asked.



‘You are right, I never tried it,’ she said. ‘What for? And I believe that, if I had tried it, it wouldn’t have said anything to me.’



‘Say?’ Remus asked, curiously.



‘Yes, it’s an enchanted hat. All I know is that it sings and sorts you into your house,’ she answered with a smile. ‘But don’t you think I’m not nervous or excited, because I am! I... I don’t want to be in Slytherin, but my mum was from there, so...’ she mumbled and then looked at the boys. ‘I think we should get changed.’



‘Yeah, we should’, James repeated and winked at Ariel, who smiled and opened the compartment door. At the same moment a voice echoed through the train, telling the students they were arriving and asking them to change and leave their luggage in place.



Soon the train stopped at the Hogsmeade station and Hagrid took the first years to the boats. The four boys sat on a boat while Ariel took another with a red-head girl with bright emerald eyes, a blond girl with blue eyes and a boy with brown hair and eyes. When in the castle, Professor McGonagall appeared to explain the first rules to them and talk about the four houses. A few minutes later, the sorting ceremony started. The hat sang its song and Professor McGonagall started calling the names of the students. The first student, Neil Abrahms, was sorted in Ravenclaw and the boy ran to the table, where he was very welcomed by the Ravenclaw students. The second student, Angelica Arch, was sorted in Slytherin. The professor kept calling the students, and then it was Sirius Black’s turn. The boy looked at his new friends and went to the stool, taking the hat and putting it on his head. The hat shouted GRYFFINDOR almost immediately, to the surprise of all the teachers and some students in the Great Hall and to Sirius’s relief. He gave a huge and bright smile and went to the Gryffindor table, ignoring the murmuring ‘a Black in Gryffindor?’ or ‘Gryffindor, how is that possible?’ to his back. The redhead girl who came on the boat with Ariel, Lily Evans, was sorted in Gryffindor too and soon it was Ariel’s turn, who was sorted in Gryffindor as well. She smiled and looked at the Headmaster, who smiled and winked at her with his thumb up. The other boys Ariel met on the train, Remus Lupin, James Potter and Peter Pettigrew, were all sorted in the same house as her.



After having dinner and eating as much dessert as possible, the tables were instantly cleaned and the Headmaster got up to make the final announcements about the classes, the Forbidden Forest and the caretaker, Mr. Filch. As soon as he finished speaking, Ariel looked at him, who smiled and nodded slightly. She then waited for the students to start leaving the Great Hall and then got up, running to the staff table and hugging Dumbledore, kissing his cheek.



‘Thank you, Grandfather!’ she said with a smile.



‘You are welcome, my angel,’ he said, caressing her cheek. ‘And I will wait for your good night kiss every night, as we have always done in the past five years.’



She nodded and hugged him again.



‘Good night and I love you,’ she said and left the Great Hall with the other Gryffindors, led by the Prefects.



‘You know, when I’m wrong, I recognize it,’ a boy said in her ear. Ariel turned around and smiled when she saw the young Sirius Black boy by her side. ‘So... everything’s true.’



‘Yes, I told you,’ she said.



‘Friends?’ he asked, stretching his hand. She shook it.



‘Friends!’



They smiled and joined James, Remus and Peter.

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