Vulnerability

"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength." Phoenix Lancaster is just as extraordinary as she appears, she is a muggle-born metamorphmagus, and she has never had a quiet life. Thanks to her courageous and troublesome best friends, Fred and George Weasley.

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17. A Fight and A Surprise

Breakfast the following morning was… memorable to say the very least. It all started after Phoenix had simply said that she was bored.

"You're bored?" Fred asked Phoenix and she nodded glumly, she had been late waking up and by the time she had sat down at the Gryffindor table the only food that was left were a couple scraps of fried mushrooms – which she despised.

"That was what I just said didn't I?"

"Well," George's face broke into a wide and mischievous smile as he picked up one of the pieces of bacon from his golden plate – he had an entire mountain of food on his plate compared to Phoenix's very cold pieces of toast that Lee had given her. "If you're bored then maybe we should unbore you."

"Is that even a word?" Phoenix asked and George shrugged. "What exactly are you planning?"

"Nothing!" Lee intervened.

"That is what you always say…" muttered Angelina. "Before all hell breaks loose."

"I think," Fred said, evidently choosing to ignore Angelina's comment. "Phoenix is suggesting that breakfast is rather dull here at Hogwarts."

"Dull? Whatever do you mean Fred?" George feigned misunderstanding while Fred smirked at his twin.

Fred, George, and Lee – who seemed to have caught on much quicker than Phoenix – jumped to their feet.

"Fellow students of Hogwarts," roared Fred and the entirety of the students in the Great Hall had stopped their talking and eating to stare at them. "Phoenix Lancaster–"

"Don't bring me into this!" she hissed, but Fred ignored her.

"–has just brought to our attention –" began Fred.

"That breakfast at Hogwarts –" continued George.

"Is rather a dull engagement." Fred finished with a loud clap of his hands.

"And I for one," said George fondly, "think that she harbours a fair point." He motioned to Phoenix in a rather dramatic manner as though she was the Queen and Phoenix had to refrain from clipping him round the ear for being a prat.

"It's all rather boring business," imputed Lee.

Phoenix looked desperately at the staff table – Professor McGonagall and Snape's eyes were glaring, their eyes practically burning into the back of Lee's head, already plotting their punishments for the mayhem that was evidently about to break out. Dumbledore however was looking at them rather amused, his eyes twinkling.

"Is there any way that we could bring some life into this mundane morning task?" Fred asked the students at large and Phoenix, realising what they were about to do, began to sink very slowly under the table. Around the hall, there were a few boisterous wallops and cheers.

"I have an idea!" George said brightly. He grabbed a pancake from his plate that was dolloped in golden syrup. He grinned across at Phoenix's retreating lilac head before he yelled. "FOOD FIGHT!"

And then, all hell broke loose.

The Great Hall was suddenly full of food, flying about in all directions. In barely half a second the students had gone from conversing in civil conversations to being as rambunctious as a Gryffindor vs Slytherin Quidditch match.

Phoenix's head was almost fully under the Gryffindor when the pancake that George had thrown hit her directly on the head. She squealed, her hair covered in sticky syrup and a pancake stuck to the very top of her head.

"George Weasley!" she bellowed, whacking her head from under the table and swearing loudly as it throbbed.

"You rang?" came George's voice as he too ducked under the table, beaming from ear to ear. Eggs and jelly were in his hair and he had appeared to have raspberry jam smeared upon his face.

"Look at my hair!" Phoenix hissed.

"Oh no," George said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "I've ruined your hair! Send me to Azkaban! Lock me up and throw away the bleeding key."

"Ha ha." She mumbled sarcastically. She could hear Snape and McGonagall yelling over the commotion. "You three are crazy for doing that! Especially in front of the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students!" From the corner of her eye, she could see a piece of toast, covered in jam, was tearing through the air towards them. Phoenix blocked the piece of propelling toast with a Shielding Charm so that it didn't smash George in the back.

"It's funny though," sniggered George just as a piece of bacon flew between them.

"Who in the name of Merlin is throwing bacon!" Phoenix shrieked and George looked at her, amused. "Bacon is too precious to be used in a food fight!"

"We should sneak out," suggested George.

Phoenix lifted her head ever so slightly to look over the table to see the continual damage that they had done. The Great Hall was truly in a great mass. There were mashed foods covering the walls and the four house tables, students all on their feet, flinging food around. She watched in amusement as a waffle soared through the air and smacked right into Snape's head, covering it in melted chocolate, it flowed down his face and only stopped at his nose.

"Yeah let's get out of here," agreed Phoenix. "Snape just got hit by a waffle and I really don't want him to kill you before I do."

George let a loud laugh before they both began to crawl under the length of the Gryffindor table, towards the great double doors. Splotches of red, purple, and yellow covered the floor from various jams and boiled eggs and Phoenix squealed in disgust as her hands touched the tomato sauce and jam. But finally, they reached the very end of the table, the doors to the entrance hall in sight.

"You go first," Phoenix said, patting George on the back. He darted out of the doors, narrowly missing a piece of French toast covered in powdered sugar. Phoenix followed him shortly after but was not as lucky as George and was hit by a dollop of strawberry jam.

"Whoever did that," Phoenix muttered as she and George raced up the marble staircase. "I will curse them."

"Did our plan work?" George asked, pushing aside a tapestry that lead up a flight of stairs. "Not such a boring breakfast was it?"

She almost smiled. "Next time, don't throw a bloody pancake at me."

"So you wish there to be a next time?" George asked as they raced along a corridor and received several strange looks from student – they were still covered in the derby from the food fight.

"No!" Phoenix spluttered and smacked George's arm.

It seemed as though their little squabble last night had been forgotten and Phoenix was thankful that George hadn't brought it up, she didn't ever want to risk losing any friends over what she was planning to do and she didn't plan on telling them until she felt as if she needed to. Some things you just had to find out on your own.

They reached Gryffindor Tower, the Fat Lady gave them a funny look before she swung open and they climbed though the portrait hole.

"Merlin, have mercy on me!" Fred greeted them, scrambled egg and jam covered his jacket and he had sugar in his hair. His appearance was rather comical. "We did it Georgie!"

"This is a day that Hogwarts will remember forever!" George said triumphantly.

"Yeah the day three bleeding prats started a food fight," Phoenix sniggered. "Why don't you turn it into a holiday and be done with it?"

"Where's Lee?" George asked, evidently he chose to ignore Phoenix's sarcastic comments.

Fred chuckled. "Snape caught him," he pulled an egg yolk from his hair with a look of disgust. "Snape was yelling about us getting a detention for the rest of the year."

"Dumbledore will probably talk him out of it," said George, ducking as Fred threw the egg yolk at him. "Dumbledore actually joined in! He threw a sausage at Hagrid." Phoenix highly doubted that Albus Dumbledore would ever partake in a food fight.

"What about Angelina and Alicia? Where are they?" Phoenix asked quickly.

"They're still in the hall most probably, why?" Fred asked.

"Great!" Phoenix said happily. "That means I can shower without having to fight over it. Thank you both for ruining my hair."

"S'okay," Fred called as Phoenix rushed to the door to the girls dormitories, spilling a little on Fred's discarded egg yolk.

Around midday, Professor McGonagall had found the twins when they and Phoenix were in the library, completing their charms homework. She had given them detention every Friday through to Christmas and had screamed herself hoarse about 'letting down Hogwarts' and 'what must the delegations from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons think of us after that disgusting behaviour'.

"You know," said Fred, staring at McGonagall's retreating back. "It's rather rude how nobody has congratulated us or the very least thanked us for making breakfast a more enjoyable affair."

Phoenix snorted with laughter at this. "Oh yeah… because beginning a food fight in the Great Hall isn't at all frowned upon."

"It was all for the greater good," said Fred, placing his feet upon the table and almost knocking a bottle of ink over Phoenix's essay entitled: How can Cleaning Charms benefit witches and wizards at home?

"For the greater good?" Phoenix asked, looking at Fred in a disbelieving sort of way. "When was the last time you did something for the greater good?"

"Last week," George replied.

"Last week? You mean the last week when you turned a first year's toad purple?"

Fred and George both smiled reminiscently.

Shortly after, Fred and George were called by Professor Snape to clean up the Great Hall. They had to leave their wands with Phoenix as Snape had insisted that to 'ensure that their punishment to be most effective' they should clean the hall without the use of magic. They had also managed to land themselves in another detention after Fred and George had whispered, rather audibly to Phoenix, that Snape only had a problem with them because 'he really needed to get laid'.

Phoenix however was grateful for the solitude, the only other students in the library were Harry and Hermione. Phoenix wondered whether or not Hermione had been listening to her and George's disagreement last night and if she had told Harry about it. But just as Phoenix was about to get out of her seat and ask however, somebody sat down opposite her.

"Hi," Cedric smiled at her.

Phoenix returned the smile as she said. "Hello Cedric."

"How you holding up?" He asked, placing down several defensive spellbooks in front of him. "I mean, after the incidence in the Owlery and everything?"

"I'm good," she lied; it was all she had been thinking about, especially after the news she had uncovered last night. She felt betrayed to say the very least and if she didn't have any self-control she should have sent her father a howler. "Are you prepared for the First Task?"

"Not at all," Cedric's face fell slightly and opened a book entitled, Advanced Defensive Spells.

"You might want to try some Offensive spells," Phoenix suggested.

"Thanks," Cedric said, giving her a small smile. "We haven't been given any clues on what we have to do so I'm going through all my notes from O. ,"

"I shouldn't even be helping you," Phoenix smiled slowly. "Tournament rules state that each contestant must 'stand alone' during the Tournament and not receive help from anyone."

"None of the champions are following the rules," Cedric chuckled. "I heard Karkaroff and Madam Maxine giving Fleur and Krum hints and I heard that Karkaroff is giving Krum private lessons… and Harry's been getting help from his friend with the bushy hair–"

"Hermione?"

"Yeah, Hermione. I forgot her name but I hear she's really smart."

"She is," said Phoenix as she turned to look over at Harry and Hermione. "But in Harry's defence he hasn't learnt as much as you, Fleur and Krum,"

"Yeah," said Cedric, frowning at the open page of his book. "He must be feeling worse than I am."

"Believe me he is," Phoenix said sadly, watching as Harry smacked his head against a rather large book in frustration. "One of his best mates, Ron Weasley, fell out with him because – well – I'm not actually sure why but something along the lines of Ron didn't believe that Harry hadn't put his name into the goblet. And those Potter Stinks badges aren't helping him."

"I've asked my friends to stop wearing them," Cedric said. "Can't do much about the Slytherins though,"

"You could curse them," Phoenix murmured and Cedric laughed. "Or take a leaf out of Fred and George's book and cast an invisibility spell on Warrington's clothes so that they are invisible to everybody expect from him." Cedric had to cover his mouth to stop a loud laugh escaping his lips. The corners of Phoenix's mouth twitched.

"That was a memory that I'd much like to forget," Cedric chortled and Phoenix had to agree, though it was a good way to get revenge on Warrington after he had almost broken Alicia's arm and smashed Phoenix into the Gryffindor stands during a Quidditch match.

Phoenix and Cedric remained in the library for over two hours; Phoenix gave suggestions to Cedric on spells and Cedric had helped with her charms homework. Phoenix and Cedric left the library together and headed for dinner.

"I wonder if Fred, George, and Lee managed to clean in the hall in time," Cedric wondered as they walked down a spiral staircase.

"Who knows," said Phoenix. "They weren't allowed to use their wands to clean up the mess."

"It was rather a good way to start the day," Cedric considered. "Though I think Fred did throw a sausage at me…It all started because of you, that is something to be proud of,"

"They've all gotten detentions through to Christmas!" She exclaimed. "Any anyway…" she turned to look at him as they reached the doors to the Great Hall. "…you're a prefect! You're supposed to oppose this foolhardy and irresponsible behaviour!"

He smiled at her. "Doesn't mean I can't find it funny,"

"Whatever Diggory," she waved at him and turned to walk towards the Gryffindor table.

It turned out that Fred, George, and Lee had managed to clean the hall and Phoenix suspected that Lee had ignored the 'no magic' rule. Though, there were still some smears of scrambled egg on the floor.

"What were you and Cedric talking about?" Fred immediately as Phoenix sat down.

"Hello to you too Fred," She greeted, throwing Fred and George's wand at them and they thanked her before she said, "We were just talking, about the First Task and stuff… I see you managed to clean the hall,"

"Yeah Lee managed to bewitch some brooms to do it for us when Snape left," said George. "And we just sat back and had an afternoon of relaxation with a few games of Exploding Snap."

"Though you have Snape's detention tonight," Alicia reminded them and the twins looked solemn. "You can't expect to tell a teacher that he needs to get laid without receiving a detention!"

Lee roared with laughter and even Angelina giggled.

"We didn't tell him that!" George said defensively. "We told Phoenix it and the slimy git overhead us!"

"You were in a library!" Phoenix added. "I would have been surprised if he didn't hear you,"

Fred and George headed to their detention with Snape while Phoenix traced up to Gryffindor Tower with Lee, Angelina and Alicia where she began her monstrous Potions essay on Elixirs. Angelina, who had already completed the essay, was talking animatedly to Alicia about some gossip she had heard about Cormac McLaggen (a fifth year Gryffindor who was the world's biggest git), while Lee, who was also trying to do his essay was singing a loud chorus of a song that he had just made up, called I Hate Snape.

"Snape is a bag of dung," Lee sang loudly and Harry who was sitting nearby sniggered. "He should really be hung– "

"Lee!"

"He needs shower 'cause he smells really bad and he hates Lee Jordan because he's just sad!"

"Lee shut up! I'm trying to do this bleeding essay!" Phoenix snapped at him, almost causing to tip his ink bottle over his piece of parchment.

"So am I!" Lee said defensively. "I'm just trying to make it more fun for the both of us!"

"Well isn't that sweet of you," Phoenix replied sarcastically.

"Phoenix, I consider you to be one of my breast friends–"

"Breast friends?!" Angelina looked as though she was torn between complete rage and amusement.

Lee nodded. "Breast friends… as in… friends with breasts. Good breasts though."

Angelina murmured something that sounded suspiciously like, "why am I friends with that blubbering idiot?" and turned her attention back to talking to Alicia, who was guffawing loudly. Angelina then suddenly turned back to Phoenix and motioned to her.

Confused, Phoenix placed her quill down on the table and walked over to her.

"I've been wondering," Angelina whispered as Phoenix sat down beside her. "Has Fred said anything to you about… our little snog?"

She tried not to smile at Angelina, mainly because the phrase 'little snog' was a bit of an understatement. From what Angelina had told they had snogged for a least five minutes straight before he had almost burped in her mouth. "Well… in a manner of speaking…"

"I'll take that as a yes then… what did he say?"

"Angelina know that I love you but I can't tell Fred's secrets–"

"I will buy you twenty Sugar Quills for Christmas."

"The same as what you have been saying the past few weeks… he thinks you don't remember it." Phoenix said quickly, smiling sweetly at Angelina who rolled eyes at Phoenix's sweet tooth.

"Idiot," Angelina mumbled.

Phoenix and Alicia both rolled their eyes at one another.

"He's just scared you'll regret him Angelina," said Alicia.

"This is Fred Weasley we're talking about right?" Angelina stared at Alicia incredulously and Phoenix could see where she was coming from – Fred Weasley was probably the last person to ever be anything remotely near scared or nervous.

"Yes this is Fred Weasley we're talking about," said Alicia. "Doesn't mean that just because Fred is completely outrageous when it comes to rule breaking doesn't mean that he can't be shy about his feelings,"

"I don't think he's necessarily shy about it," Phoenix said thoughtfully. "I just think he's not really the romantic type so he doesn't really know how to approach the situation and his about his feelings."

Phoenix then returned her homework beside Lee. They worked on their essay a large majority of the night. By the time that they had both reached their conclusion, they were the only two left in the common room and the flames in the fireplace were dying.

Yawning, Phoenix stretched her arms and tried not to fall asleep on her essay. She was beginning to struggle with the amount of homework she had – having at least three pieces of homework a week from her six different N.E.W.T classes. The teachers were acting as though their exams were next week not in nineteen months (Phoenix had a countdown on her calendar).

"I can't believe that Fred and George aren't back yet," Lee yawned. "They only told Snape the truth, don't see why they should be punished,"

Phoenix reframed from correcting Lee that actually Fred and George had told Phoenix that Snape 'needed to get laid' but she simply rolled her eyes and continued with her essay.

Suddenly the portrait hole opened and Fred and George climbed through, smelling strongly of Frog Brains and Stinksap. Phoenix and Lee both coughed and retched loudly as they approached.

"W-Why do you smell so bad?" Phoenix coughed and promptly jumped out of her seat as Fred sat beside her.

"Smell bad?" Fred grinned. "Of course we don't smell bad."

"Yeah and I'm a fairy princess now why do yo–"

Suddenly arms grabbed her from around her waist and spun her around. She briefly saw George's devilish smile before she inhaled the disgusting smell of the Frog's Brains and the Stinksap as he hugged her enthusiastically.

"GEORGE WEASLEY LET ME GO YOU SMELL LIKE A SEWER!"

At this, George simply hugged her tighter.

"I'M GOING TO VOMIT ALL OVER YOU!"

"You know Fred I think Phoenix needs more Weasley love–" George announced and Phoenix's eyes widened as she realise what they were about to do.

"Don't you dare Frederick Gideon Weasley–"

But Fred's body joined the evil-smelling hug that was suffocating Phoenix. She let out a small squeak as Fred's arms wrapped around her and, with George's help, began to squeeze her body between theirs.

"YOU TWO ARE GOING TO KILL ME!"

"We'll consider letting you go–" said George.

"If you say that–"continued Fred.

"We're the best looking–" said George.

"In fact, the sexiest twins ever!" they sang together. Phoenix was sure that her yelling and their singing and Lee's howls of laughter would wake up the entirety of Gryffindor House.

"I WILL NEVER–"

They squeezed her even tighter between them and she could barely breathe as she tried not to breathe in the retched smell that they emanated.

"FRED AND GEORGE WEASLEY ARE THE BEST LOOKING AND SEXIEST TWINS EVER AND I LOVE THEM MORE THAN I LOVE BREATHING, NOW LET ME GO FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD!"

"I don't think she meant it Georgie, do you?" Fred asked in a teasing voice.

"I MEANT IT NOW PLEASE LET ME GO BEFORE I THROW UP!"

"Alright," they said, but not before they both pressed kisses against her cheeks, which made her squeal and wiggle out of their arms. She wiped her cheeks furiously as her hair turned the same bright red as her face. Fred, George, and Lee were all grinning at her broadly. She glared at them.

"You both sicken me," she mused.

"We've been cleaning the most ghastly smelling cauldrons for past how many hours and this is how you repay us after we just greeted you so affectionately?" Fred's voice seeped mock hurt and sarcasm and Phoenix rolled her eyes at him.

"You both smell worse than a couple of Stink Pellets," Phoenix said dismissively.

Fred and George beamed at one another as though Phoenix had just given them a glowing compliment. "At least let me try and make you stop smelling so bad,"

"Good luck with that," Lee coughed.

Phoenix sprayed them both with her perfume, which they first refused because they said that it would take away their 'manly smell' but she then pointed out that Frog Brains and Stinksap were not in any relation to manly smells but in fact something that a troll would most likely smell of. She then used a tricky little charm 'Dulcis Auras' to produce sweet smelling air around them.

"We smell like girls," George complained as he slumped down in his seat next to Phoenix. "I can feel my manliness leaving me."

"Well you are acting like a big girl's blouse," Phoenix interjected.

"You little bugger–"

"Nix, do you realise that an owl has been on the window for the past five minutes staring at you?" Lee said suddenly.

She turned and, sure enough, she saw that there was an owl. It was Kalea, Anastasia's beautiful Barn Owl; perched outside the window opposite the fire, her large, honey coloured eyes stared at Phoenix as she rushed over to the window to open it. She swooped down on the back of George's chair and held out her leg for Phoenix, a rolled up piece of parchment attached to it.

At first, Phoenix was hesitant. Why would Anastasia be writing to her at this late hour? What was the rush? Did she, and presumably the rest of her family, know about what Phoenix was up to? Had Tonks let it slip? Were they furious? Or were they going to tell her the truth? But this thought simply just made Phoenix more angry, remembering that her father had no right to be angry with her when it was he who had been the one to take her memories from her.

"Are you going to take the letter?" George asked suddenly.

Phoenix started and began untying the cords around Kalea's leg. She hooted fondly, nipped Phoenix's finger before she took out of the open window.

"What does it say?" inquired Fred as Phoenix's eyes scanned the letter. Her jaw dropped.

"No!" She gasped.

"What?" Lee, Fred, and George all said together as Phoenix was still staring at the letter, her eyes wide with complete and utter shock.

It can't be true. Phoenix thought as she stared at the words written by Anastasia's handwriting. It couldn't be true.

"She's pregnant…" Phoenix proclaimed.

"What?" The three boys gasped, looking at one another, alarmed.

"Who is?" George inquired.

"Anastasia… she's pregnant with Felipe's baby…" Phoenix's mouth moved soundlessly, her emotions completely mixed upon the situation. A baby would be wonderful, Phoenix always loved children but on the other hand, Anastasia had only just began her career as a Healer and having a baby would put that all on hold, or even to a complete standstill. And not to mention how furious Cecilia would be… "H-How did this happen?"

"Well Phoenix, when two people really love each other – or have simply drunk too much Firewhiskey…" Lee began.

"Lee I know how babies are made; you've told me a million times before," Phoenix cut across him before she looked up to stare around the others assembled around her.

"That's brilliant!" Fred cheered.

"Auntie Phoenix," George marvelled.

"Step-Auntie Phoenix," Lee corrected him but George simply shrugged.

"She's four weeks pregnant… I… I just can't believe it!" Phoenix said, astounded. "I mean… Cecilia is going to be furious… She's only just left school…" But she was more talking to herself than the three boys as they began discussing which of their names would be more suited for the baby.

"Lee is a unisex name though," said Lee.

"I think Fred would be a good name," Fred gloated. "I mean Fred is a very masculine that means 'peaceful ruler' and I for one think it would be most suitable for the little guy!"

"Peaceful ruler?" Phoenix snorted as she turned to look at him. "Molly had clearly incorrectly named you because there is nothing even remotely peaceful about you,"

"Why thank you dear."

"And secondly, this is Anastasia's baby, not yours," Phoenix informed them and they all pretended to look surprised.

"Really?" George asked, pretending to look utterly shocked and confused.

"You always spoil our fun Nix," Fred shook his head in disappoint and Phoenix took the opportunity to clip him round the ear. "What was that for?"

"Now Fred, I've had an extremely long day, first a long and treacherous battle at breakfast, I've just received news that my elder step-sister is with child and this is how you repay after I have just given you a sweet sign of affection."

"Go to bed you complete Muppet."

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