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Disclaimer: Unfortunately, we do not own anything Harry Potter related. But Claire and Ande are creations of our own, so you can\'t have them! Ha! Chapter 1 The American Invasion The sky was dark and grey, but the stormy weather did not prevent James Potter from spotting the tiny golden snitch, which was hovering in the air close to his chimney. In an instant he was darting forward, his body held flat against his broom. His hand shot outward and he felt his fingers close around the fluttering, wet ball. “Good show, my boy!” his father, William, congratulated. He was older than most of his classmates’ fathers; his black hair was peppered with gray and old age was beginning to creep into his limbs. An impervius charm had been placed on his glasses and behind them James could see his pride. He loved to perform for his father who never missed a practice at home. James looked down to him, where he was watching in a rain coat. His father was helping him train for the upcoming season of Quidditch at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was there that James would be entering his sixth year and would again be playing seeker on the Gryffindor house team. But as much as he loved the feeling of wind in his hair (which he recreated by running his hands through it) he missed his best friend Sirius Black, and his other friends Remus Lupin and Peter Petegrew. He was also quite anxious to see Lily Evans again, a pretty Gryffindor girl he had had his sights on for the past few years. Lost in these thoughts, he didn’t hear his mother as she called him inside for supper. “James! I said come in and clean up for dinner!” his mother called from one of the downstairs windows. “All right, Mum!” James replied. Not wishing to face the wrath of his mother, Valerie, he leaned forward on his broomstick and softly touched down on the damp lawn. His father patted him heartily on the shoulder as they walked together into the kitchen. Mrs. Potter quickly cornered them, brandishing towels to wipe them off. She, too, had raven-black hair, and fierce brown eyes that never missed a trick. James was reminded of a kneazle when she was around; she could sense his schemes before he could ever carry them out. “Now I want you two to hurry up and eat. They’ll be here any minute!” she said. After she waved her wand and levitated the dinner to the table, she sped off into the hallway in a flutter. Father and son looked at one another with confused expressions. “Do you know what that was all about?” James asked. “No idea,” his father shrugged. “You know how your mother is.” The two of them hastily complied to Mrs. Potter’s wishes and rapidly ate their suppers. But no sooner had the last morsel of food been consumed then she darted back into the kitchen and waved the dishes into the sink where they began to wash themselves. Suddenly, there was a sharp knock on the front door. All three Potters jumped nearly a foot into the air. “Oh dear, they’re here and you two still look frightful,” Mrs. Potter yelped. “Who’s here, Val?” questioned Mr. Potter. “It’s your nieces,” Mrs. Potter quickly explained on their way to the door. “I must have told you a million times already. They were coming on the first of August.” “That’s today?! Great scott! James, do something with your hair.” James shrugged and ran his fingers through it once more. His mother gave him a scolding glare and ran off to answer the door. Mr. Potter and James followed after her into the atrium to welcome their guests. James frowned and wondered why his parents had failed to inform him of the arrival of his cousins. He could not recall having ever met them either, and he was not especially looking forward to it, seeing as his mother usually spoke ill of American behavior. True, his aunt was English, but his uncle’s American blood was likely to have poisoned their offspring. Mrs. Potter ran her hands over her baby-blue dress once more and straightened her hair. Then, with a deep breath, she grasp the handle and opened the door. Silhouetted in the door frame were two cloaked figures. A bolt of lightning flashed behind them, followed quickly by a massive downpour of rain. The Potters all moved out of the way to let their guests come in, despite their forboding appearance. “Welcome to England,” Mrs. Potter said sweetly. “Please take off your cloaks and make yourselves at home.” Before James could say anything, his mother tossed their bags at him. Slightly winded by her hard throw, he glared at her sullenly. “What do you expect me to do with these?” he asked. “Put them up in the guest room,” his mother instructed him. “Then hurry back down to meet your cousins. I expect they are excited to meet you.” The cloaked figures made no sign of agreement. As James heaved the luggage up the staircase he heard his father lead the guests into the drawing room. “Can I get you some tea and biscuits? I’m sure the jet-lag must be terrible.” A barn owl hooted at him from its cage atop one of the trunks when James bumped into one of the stairs and then a hiss came from a pet carrier on the other trunk. James ignored the noise and continued to lug them up the staircase. Once he had placed the two trunks roughly into the guest room, James slid down the banister to the bottom of the stairs. Walking into the drawing room, he stopped in the doorway and got his first glance at his cousins. Both had removed their black travel cloaks and were casually sitting on the couch, sipping tea. They appeared both to be about the same age (because they were, in fact, twins, although not identical) and they both had hazel eyes like James. The one sitting closest to the fireplace had fairly long blonde hair which was tied back and damp, while the other’s was a flashing strawberry-blond and fell gracefully about her shoulders. In the calming light cast by the glowing flames he could begin to see the family resemblance, and admitted that they were both attractive, like himself. Perhaps it would not be so terrible to have them around, he thought. Mrs. Potter glanced to the doorway and beckoned her son to join her on the other couch opposite the two girls. The sisters finally seemed to notice him (they had been conversing quietly with Mr. Potter) and gave him a friendly smile. He sat down next to his mother and ran his hand through his hair, out of nervous habit. “Why must you always do that?” Mrs. Potter scolded. “It looks cool, Mum,” James argued. Resigned to her son’s behavior, Mrs. Potter continued on, “James, these are your cousins from America. On the left is Claire and on the right is Andrea.” “You can just call me Ande,” the latter girl with the red hair prompted. James politely nodded to each of them in turn. There was a moment of awkward silence, which was broken by Mr. Potter. “So girls, how was your trip?” he asked. “I hear you rode on one of those Aeroplanes.” Claire giggled. “An airplane,” she corrected. “The trip was sort of slow. We’re used to much faster modes of transportation but Dad insisted that it was the best way to go with all of our luggage,” Ande explained. “Even so,” said Claire, “I think I still would have been able to get here faster with all of our bags on my own broom with all of the delays at the airports.” James had been daydreaming about Lily when the word ‘broom’ brought him back into the conversation. “You have your own broom, Claire?” he asked with interest. She smiled and said, “Of course. After all, you do need a broom to play Quodpot.” “Quodpot? What’s Quodpot?” James asked, his interest peaked. Claire looked as shocked as James, though for a different reason. “Don’t tell me you guys don’t have Quodpot here! It’s the best sport of all time,” she said. Before James could contest this, she continued on to explain what Quodpot entailed. After a brief explanation about the rules, which included an exploding Quaffle called the Quod, Ande spoke up. “Maybe we’ll be able to show you at school. We would show you here, but we don’t have the right ingredients to make a Quaffle explosive.” Mrs. Potter didn’t seem to think James needed to hear about any games where the ball exploded, since she was afraid he might get some bad ideas. She decided to switch the subject to something slightly less volatile. “So, you two, your father was telling me something about you raising Hippogriffs. What’s that like?” Ande set down her tea cup in its saucer. “Our dad owns one thousand acres outside of the city where we breed them for showing and racing. Claire and I spend almost our entire summer there helping take care of the babies and breaking them. It keeps us quite fit for Quodpot.” “Okay, I’ll admit Quodpot sounds cool, but Quidditch is definitely better,” James interrupted. Mr. Potter could tell a fight was threatening to break out so he quickly stepped in. “Well, I’m sure you two will have much more to keep you busy than to argue about games. After all, to learn under Albus Dumbledore is what your father sent you half way around the world for, yes?” Claire’s eyes fell and James couldn’t help but see her hesitation. Ande glanced at her sister nervously and folded her hands gently in her lap. “Our father has thrown himself into his work at the ministry. Being the Minister, he is rarely home anymore. I think he heard about Hogwarts through the Ministry here in London and thought we should experience different cultures. Those were his words, but I think he was afraid the farm reminded us too much of Mom. She loved Hippogriffs.” The room had again entered a awkward silence. Mrs. Potter was looking nervous again and was beginning to ring her hands in her dress. She looked to James expectantly, but he shrugged, unable to bring the silenced party some relief. Mr. Potter decided to save his family. He coughed and everyone turned to him as if he was about to break into rhetoric. His question was far from it. “Perhaps James should show them their room?” “Yeah, we’re really tired after traveling all day,” said Claire. Mrs. Potter looked relieved that her nieces wished to depart. “Hopefully, as family, we can provide some comfort for each over this year. James, of course, will be showing you the hospitality of England during your time with us.” He knew that his mother was going to try to label him baby-sitter, but he was going to have none of it. He hoped to see Sirius soon so that he could get out of the house. Eager to retreat from the watchful glare of his mother, James beckoned Claire and Ande to follow him out of the room. They said goodnight and passed into their own chambers, where their pets awaited them. Ande released her barn owl from its cage and, after giving her an affectionate nip, Orion the owl flew out the window. Claire was having more trouble. Every time her hands reached the door to the cage, her pet cat, Elsa, clawed her. “Elsa! Ow... stop it,” Claire commanded. Elsa seemed to decide it was better to relent and Claire was finally able to open the carrying cage. Out jumped a feline which was half tabby cat and half kneazle (a cat-like creature with magical properties that allow it to detect unsavory or suspicious people). Seeing a large, comfortable bed, Elsa forgot to be mean and instead she curled up immediately and went to sleep. Both of the girls also thought that it would be a good idea to get some rest after their long trip. After showing them to their room, James wandered back downstairs, being far from tired himself, where he discovered his parents talking in hushed voices. When they heard him again enter the room, his mother said, “I want you to be careful what you say around Claire and Ande, James. They are not here to bicker with you over your silly games. Your uncle sent them here because he knew they would be safe and happy in the company of family while he tends to.....business at the Ministry of Magic in America. I want you to behave yourself, understood? Their family has suffered enough.” James understood her completely. Just a few months ago, they had received a letter from his uncle Henry in America telling them about the death of his aunt, Jessie, due to unknown circumstances. He knew that his aunt Jessie had been an Auror at the Ministry, but no one could be certain if her work against criminals had had some part in her sudden demise. It was known, however, that she made many enemies in her line of work. He shuddered to think what it would be like to lose his parents, even one of them, and knew that it must have been hard for his cousins to lose their mother. “Yeah, I understand,” he replied. James was back at Hogwarts on the Quidditch field. He felt the wind howl in his ears and tug at his gold and scarlet robes as he carried the Quod towards the other end of the pitch. The sunlight faded and reappeared behind the hoops and stands as he circled and the crystal-blue sky provided the best flying conditions. He felt at ease here, even in the middle of a game. But it was then that he realized that he was not in the middle of a game, but was in fact nearly alone in the stadium. His two cousins, Ande and Claire, stood below in the short grass at mid-field, watching his every move. “He’s very good, don’t you think? Maybe he should look into becoming a professional Quodpot player,” said Claire. Ande looked sorrowfully at her sister and then looked at the ground. “It’s too bad he won’t live long enough to become one.” It was Claire’s turn to look troubled. “But Quods aren’t dangerous enough to kill a person.” Ande did not answer and again looked to James soaring high above her. Suddenly, James lost interest in his cousins’ conversation as the ball, neatly tucked under his right arm, began to hum. He looked to the Quod and his easy, care-free expression soon turned to confusion as the humming grew louder and it began to vibrate. He didn’t even have time to scream before the ball erupted, hurtling James from his broom. He awoke in a cold sweat, unsure if he was still alive. The explosion of the Quod rang so loudly in his ears, that he felt as if it could have happened in his very bedroom. It was then that he realized that he did actually hear an enormous crash. Grabbing his glasses from the bed-side table and flipping on his lamp, he rose from bed and peered out his window, which looked into the back yard. Rain continued to stream down the panes, but the storm did not hide the dark figure who was stalking quickly across the lawn towards the house. James bolted into the hallway. His parents where already throwing on their robes and had their wands at the ready. They had heard the crash too, along with the loud cursing echoing from the intruder. Claire and Ande were peeping out of their room, looking bleary eyed. “Wus goin’ on?” Claire said thickly. “Everyone stay where you are,” Mr. Potter commanded. “I’m going to investigate.” He marched down the stairs, followed quickly by the rest of the family, in obvious disregard for his wishes. The back door, next to the kitchen was being pounded upon by the intruder. Almost everyone kept a safe distance while Mr. Potter inched toward the door. The pounding stopped as he clutched the doorknob, with a tight grip on his wand. He pulled the door open and, before he saw who was standing there, he shouted, “Stupefy!” A dull thud reached their ears as the mysterious intruder flew into a nearby tree. Everybody went outside, despite the downpour, to see who it was and were surprised to see a young man with black hair, stunned at the base of the trunk. James edged forward and held out his wand. “Lumos,” he said, and held the light up to the young man’s face. “Sirius?!” he shouted. His parents came to his side and were shocked by the sight of their son’s best friend sprawled out on their lawn. “Merlin’s beard!” Mr. Potter said. “If I’d known it was him I wouldn’t have done that. Let’s get him inside.” James and Mr. Potter each put one of Sirius’s arms over their shoulders and heaved him into the house where they laid him on the couch. The two girls looked at him curiously and wondered what kind of boy, who comes crashing into other people’s houses at all hours of the night, was to be readily welcomed. Mr. Potter pointed his wand at Sirius’ chest and said, “Enervate.” His eyes blinked slowly open and he immediately burst into a tirade of yelling, as if nothing had happened. “THIS IS THE WORST NIGHT EVER!!! I AM NEVER SPEAKING TO THEM AGAIN, THE LOUSY BAST-” Sirius stopped suddenly when he realized he was being stared at. He looked from Ande’s face to Claire’s then smiled at both of them. “Hey, how you doin’?” James pushed his cousins aside and pulled Sirius to his feet. “Sirius, what are you doing here? My dad could have incinerated you. Couldn’t you have just come in the morning like a sane person?” “IT’S NOT MY FAULT IF I’M CRAZY!! I COME FROM A FAMILY FULL OF FIRST RATE NUTTERS!!! MY DAD’S A COMPLETE GIT AND MY MOM’S A BIT-” But what his mom was they never heard because it was Mrs. Potter’s turn to start yelling. “Sirius! I know your family can be difficult but that is no reason to come barging into my house in the middle of the night and scare my family and I half to death! Now get out!” Sirius decided to switch tactics and put on the saddest, most pathetic expression he could muster. With big puppy-dog eyes he turned to Mrs. Potter. “But, but..... pleeeeeaaase Mrs. Potter. I’m really sorry. It’s just my parents, you don’t know them like I do. I’ve always thought of you as my real mum. Your just so nice, and pretty, and-” James rolled his eyes and suppressed laughter at his best friend’s obvious butt-kissing. He had seen the same thing used on the teachers at school countless times through the years. “Oh all right, you can stay the night, but just the night. Tomorrow you’re going directly home to straighten things out with your parents. We’ll let things cool down a bit, because I know how much your mother can scream when she gets worked up,” Mrs. Potter conceded. Sirius broke into a huge smile and hugged her tightly around the waste. “Thank you so much. You don’t know what this means to me.” Mrs. Potter pried the teenager off of her wet robe and began to shove her entire family towards the stairs. “I think we have all had enough excitement for one night. Sirius, you sleep in James’ room and I want no talking or fooling around! Girls, you go back to sleep, and I’ll put a charm on your door to keep the boys from slipping dungbombs in your room.” As they walked up the stairs sleepily, the last words were heard from the girls who muttered under their breaths, “Crazy Brits.” Authors notes: Read, enjoy, and Review! Even if you really hate this story, we still want to know! It only takes a second to review! We live for your reviews!

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