‘So... What did you tell them?’ Ginny asked, curiously.
‘Is that true? You can move objects and make spells without a wand?’ Ron asked. Ariel smiled.
‘Well, first,’ she began, ‘I told them what I had told McGonagall and that I hadn’t gotten detention, and...Yes, I can, Ron,’ she added, looking at Ron, ‘I don’t know when it started, but I remember being able to do it since I was very little.’
‘Brilliant!’ Ron said very enthusiastically. ‘Can you do it right now?’
Ariel looked at Sirius and they both laughed.
‘Don’t leave him hanging,’ Sirius said.
‘No, I won’t,’ she said, smiling. She looked at Harry, then at Ron and blinked. Automatically, Harry’s glasses appeared on Ron’s face. Harry blinked as his vision blurred and he touched his face, not finding his glasses; Ron, on the other hand, felt his vision blurring because of Harry’s prescription glasses and took them off, looking at them in astonishment.
‘Wow...Wicked!’ he said and handed his glasses to Harry, then looked at Ariel with a smile. ‘This is brilliant!’
They laughed. ‘Thank you,’ she said.
‘Do something else,’ Ginny asked, her brown eyes shining.
‘Ok... Err... Are you hungry?’ Ariel said and pressed her hands together, then separated them and a box of Bertie Bott’s appeared out of nowhere. She threw it at Ron, who grabbed it. They laughed again. ‘Or... Hermione, have you ever thought about having blond and straight hair?’ she asked Hermione, whose brown and bushy hair turned blond, long and straight. They gasped in awe, but soon burst into laughter and Hermione smoothed her new locks. Ron stared at her for a few moments, taking in her new looks, then looked at Ariel.
‘Huh... Can you change it back?’ he asked.
‘Sure’, Ariel said with a grin and waved her hand, turning Hermione’s hair back to normal. ‘Better?’
‘Oh, yeah,’ he said, relieved.
‘I liked it,’ Hermione said, ‘not blond, though. Can you teach me how to make it straight?’
Ron looked at her. ‘Now, why would you do something like that?’ he asked.
‘Why not, Ronald?’ Hermione asked, intrigued.
‘Because you’re beau... Err... We like you the way you are, right, Harry?’ he quickly said, pleading for Harry’s help.
‘Err... Yes, but she is beautiful anyways,’ Harry said with a grin. Hermione’s cheeks turned pink instantaneously.
‘Err... Yeah... Well... Yeah!’ Ron said, stuttering. Ginny giggled on Harry’s shoulder. Hermione looked at Ariel, ignoring Ron and Harry.
‘So, Ariel,’ she began, ‘after your little adventure together, you and Harry’s mum became good friends?’ she asked.
‘Yes, very good friends,’ Ariel agreed. ‘Inseparable, to tell you the truth.’
‘Lily taught her how to giggle and whisper,’ Sirius said and they laughed.
‘Yeah, she did! But even when she and Prongs started bickering and she started “hating” him,’ she said, moving her fingers in the air to symbolize the quotes in the word hate, ‘she never told me not to be with them. And I liked being with her, but sometimes I liked being around them, like in the night they decided to draw a map of Hogwarts, in our 5th year... They were already Animagi and that was the night I met Prongs, Padfoot, Moony and Wormtail!’
GRYFFINDOR TOWER, COMMON ROOM — FEBRUARY 25, 1976
The portrait hole was opened and Ariel, Lily, Elena and Kara got into the room talking and laughing. Elena looked at Lily.
‘I don’t know why you don’t just go out with him, Lily! He’s gorgeous and fun and...’ Elena trailed.
‘Conceited, a prat... Annoying... Should I list more?’ Lily continued.
At that moment, a head with untidy, jet black hair emerged from behind the couch across the fireplace.
‘Ouch, Evans... It hurts!’ he said.
Ariel grinned and the other girls giggled. Lily shook her head.
‘Yes, Potter, the truth always hurts,’ she said and climbed the stairs to the girls’ dormitory.
‘Ouch!’ Sirius said and slapped James’s shoulder. ‘Come on, mate, we have loads to do.’
Elena and Kara climbed the stairs to the girls’ dormitory, following Lily. Elena looked back at Ariel.
‘Are you coming?’ she asked. Sirius looked at the girls.
‘No, she’s staying,’ he said, ‘we need to talk to her.’
Ariel looked at him, meeting his grey eyes, but he turned his head back to the boys.
‘Fine,’ Elena said and went upstairs. Ariel went to the boys, looking at the four of them.
‘What?’ she asked as she approached.
‘We need your help with something,’ Sirius said without looking at her.
‘What something? I won’t break any rules, I promised my Grandfather after spending three weeks in detention because of you!’ she warned them.
‘Not because of us... With us,’ Sirius said grinning. James, Remus and Peter help their laughter. She looked at them and turned around to leave, but Sirius grabbed her arm. She looked at him, then at her arm, a chill ran up her spine and it felt like lots of snitches were flying around in her stomach. Sirius looked at her and let go of her arm as if it were burning. ‘Please?’ he pleaded.
‘It’s important and only you can help us’, James said.
‘Why? Because I know all the Marauders’ secrets?’
‘Because you know all the Marauders’ secrets!’ Sirius said.
She looked at them for a moment. ‘Alright then. What do you need me for?’ she asked, sitting on the carpet.
‘What do you know about us, Ariel?’ Remus asked, suddenly. ‘Tell us everything.’
She looked at him and smiled, touching his hand.
‘That’s OK, Remus... Your secret is safe with me and... Yours, too,’ she said, looking at the other three. The four boys looked at one another and she smiled.
‘You know about Moony, Padfoot, Prongs and Wormtail?’ James asked.
‘Yes, and besides... It’s not like you hide your nicknames from the school, but I...’ she said, hesitating a little, ‘I know why the Whomping Willow was planted there.’
‘What do you mean?’ Remus asked with some trepidation in his voice.
‘I heard Grandfather Albus saying a boy who had been bitten by a werewolf was coming to Hogwarts the year we all met, so... And when I became friends with you, it was easy to find out who the boy was. Lily and I saw you getting in the Whomping Willow with Grandpa and Madam Pomfrey one night and then the boys went after you and... Later, a rat, a huge black dog, a stag and a werewolf got out to the Forbidden Forest.’
The four boys looked at her completely astonished. She was too calm to be bluffing! Remus leaned forward, looking at her with concern.
‘How long have you known that?’ he asked, mirroring the others’ concern.
‘For some time, now, I mean... About your condition! About you lot being Animagi... Not much,’ she replied.
‘We haven’t been Animagi for long,’ James explained.
‘Oh, well... It was nice of you to become ones though, so you can be together in the tough hours,’ she said, smiling. ‘How did you manage that?’
‘Oh, it wasn’t easy,’ James said. Sirius looked at Ariel with a mischievous grin.
‘Well, well, well... Isn’t it just convenient?’ Sirius said and they looked at him. ‘If you help us with this, we’ll help you become an Animagus.’
Ariel stared at Sirius with a mix of anticipation and doubt. Was he speaking the truth?
‘Uh... What is it that you want me to help you with?’ she asked, curiosity winning over any doubt. Remus shook his head vehemently.
‘No, absolutely not! Sirius, this is out of question!’ he said, indignantly.
‘C’mon, Moony... We can give her what she wants and she can give us what we want!’ Sirius justified.
‘Yes, it’s perfect,’ Peter said.
‘If we can, she can too,’ James said, smiling.
‘Can’t you see this is completely wrong? It’s bad enough that the three of you went against the rules and now you want her to do the same? She’s Dumbledore’s granddaughter!’ Remus admonished.
‘So, what? She doesn’t need to tell him everything she does,’ Sirius said.
‘Can’t you see how serious it is? You can’t ask her to break the rules!’ Remus exclaimed.
‘Hey, stop talking as if I weren’t here!’ Ariel said, calling their attention. ‘Thank you for your concern, Remus... But I can decide it for myself and my answer is yes! I’ve broke enough rules already and most of them were with you lot,’ she said angrily. ‘So, what do you want my help for?’
Remus shook his head and threw his arms up in defeat. The other three boys smiled.
‘We need a map of Hogwarts. Wormtail here found out loads of nice places, but you know all the secret passages, so... Can you lot work together to draw a map?’ Sirius explained.
‘Of course! I just don’t know much about the Whomping Willow and the Forbidden Forest, but you know enough about it, don’t you?’ Ariel asked, smiling.
‘Oh, yeah,’ James said, smiling.
‘Great! When do we start working?’ she asked with a grin.
In the following weeks, the five of them worked together on the map, while James and Sirius taught Ariel how to become an Animagus; in the end of 4 weeks, she finally managed to morph into a beautiful white owl.
It was a night in March and the five of them were all in an empty classroom on the third floor. Remus was by the door, watching it, while Peter was in his rat form, watching the corridor and James and Sirius were with Ariel in the middle of the room.
‘Concentrate, Ariel! I know it’s hard, it took us three years, you just started four weeks ago,’ James said.
‘I know, but it’s frustrating!’ she whined, making a gesture with her hand and some butterflies appeared and started flying around the room. The boys smiled and Remus shook his head. ‘Give me the graphics again, I’ll do it tonight or my name is not Ariel Loiseau!’
James grabbed the graphics, which escaped from his hands and landed on hers as if she had accioed them. ‘Thanks,’ she said.
‘I’ll never understand how you do that!’ James exclaimed and she shrugged, examining the parchments.
‘Neither will I,’ she agreed. ‘I must be doing something really wrong. I never took so long to learn a spell or charm or transfigure something,’ she said and looked at her watch. ‘Merlin, it’s midnight already!’
‘We should go back to the Gryffindor tower,’ said Remus, a little apprehensive.
‘No, you are not going to stay here alone,’ Sirius said. ‘I promise you, tomorrow we’ll spend all our free time working on it.’
They looked at each other for a moment and she smiled.
‘Alright, then,’ she agreed.
‘Good! Let’s get going, then,’ James said and they waited for Peter, and then went back to the Gryffindor tower.
The Common Room was already deserted as they entered it. ‘Well, I’m going to bed,’ Ariel said, looking at them. ‘Oh, I will finish the map tomorrow. I put all the secret passageways in it, including the one on the fifth floor that takes straight here. Soon it will be Peter’s turn to work on the map.’
‘Don’t worry, I’m ready,’ Peter said.
‘Great. Good night and thank you’, she said as she climbed the stairs to the girls’ dormitory.
Ariel closed the curtains of her four-poster bed and laid down, looking at the ceiling, but after forty minutes of not being able to fall asleep, she decided to practice her transfiguration a little bit more. After almost one hour and a half, when she was about to give up, she felt her arms curve and a layer of white feather cover her arms and upper body. She opened her eyes wide and looked down at herself, but she turned back into her human form. She jumped out of her bed and ran out of the dormitory, going to the boys’. Ariel knocked on the door and opened it.
‘Guys... Guys, wake up!’ she hissed, running to the first bed and opening its curtains. ‘James, wake up!’
James sat up in a bolt and looked at her. The other three curtains were open suddenly and three sleepy faces looked at her.
‘What the bloody hell happened?’ Sirius asked, half-asleep, half-annoyed. James reached out to the bedside table and got his glasses, shoving them on his face.
‘Ariel, what time is it?’ he asked.
‘I have no idea! The point is,’ she said as she climbed onto James’ bed, ‘I managed something!’
Sirius sighed. ‘Couldn’t you wait until tomorrow morning to show it to us?’ he asked, impatiently.
‘No!’ she said, shaking her head. ‘Look...’ she concentrated, and this time, not only her arms shrank and her upper body covered with white feathers, but her whole body changed as well, turning into a one-feet-tall owl, snow white, with large amber eyes, a beak and claws. The boys watched the transfiguration in amazement. She had mastered in a month what had taken them practically three years to achieve! The little owl flapped her wings and managed to flutter above James’ bed for a few seconds, but the effort was too much and it transfigured back into Ariel’s very human form, who lay back on James’ bed, panting and smiling.
Sirius jumped from his bed to James’, almost climbing on Ariel, a huge smile on his face, and held her shoulders.
‘YOU... DID... IT!’ he screamed, beaming.
‘I did it! I cannot believe I did it!’ she said, smiling.
‘Alright, now we have to work on the transfiguration itself, because it didn’t last long,’ James stated, also smiling.
‘I know! I will manage that! I will practice and...’ she covered her face with her hands, then she laughed and looked at them. ‘I will be able to fly without a broom!’
She got up, standing on James’ bed and twirling around with her arms open and her long black hair dancing in the air. They laughed.
‘Learning how to fly first won’t be a bad thing,’ Sirius said, teasing her. She fell back on the bed and slapped his shoulder.
‘I bet you had to learn how to wag your tail, Black,’ she said, laughing.
‘Oh, no, he was a natural at that,’ Remus said matter-of-factly. They burst into laughter and Sirius threw a pillow at him. Ariel sighed and got up.
‘Thanks, you lot,’ she said and smiled. ‘I have to go back to my dormitory.’
‘Well done, Loiseau,’ Peter said with a wink.
‘Thanks, Pettigrew,’ she thanked politely and left the room, going back to her dormitory, humming and twirling like a ballerina.
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