"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.


6. Mark in the Sky

"WE WON!" Bellowed Fred, punching the air triumphantly as he walked alongside George, who was carrying Phoenix on his back, her eyes back to their natural ocean blue and although her hair was still a great green in triumphant of Irish's winning.

"I can't believe you actually won that bet," said Phoenix in disbelief. "I mean it was so accurate how on earth did you see that?"

The outcome of the match was what nobody expected, Ludo even said it himself after he had given Fred and George their gold, which was now jingling in their pockets.

"Don't you dare tell your mother you two have been gambling," Mr. Weasley instructed Fred and George as they walked along the lantern light path leading back to the campsite.

"Don't worry, Dad," said Fred airily, waving his father's words away with his hands.

"Yeah, Dad, we have plans for this money. We don't want it to be confiscated."

Phoenix frowned at George's words, slightly confused. But she decided that she would ask them when they weren't so hyped up on the match.

When they finally reached their tents only ten minutes later, Phoenix still on George's back, nobody felt like sleeping, and the noise of the Irish singing their national anthem in victory was not going to help at all. Mr. Weasley decided that they all could have a cup of smoking hot chocolate before going to bed.

"Did you see Krum's flying? It was superb!" Ron exclaimed for about the millionth time.

Phoenix rolled her eyes, "yes Ron, for the millionth time, Krum's flying was out of this world. Now will you please shut up about Krum?"

Fred and Ron were soon arguing about the match, Mr. Weasley and Charlie were disagreeing about cobbing and the rest were talking happily about the match.

"My favourite bit was when the referrer was trying to impress the veela," said Hermione, grinning widely.

"That was so funny," agreed Phoenix, curling her hands around her steaming mug, "did you see Harry doing his pirouettes when the veela were dancing?"

Harry looked slightly flustered but he joined in the laughter all the same.

Ginny soon fell asleep table beside the small table, spilling her hot chocolate all over the floor, so Mr. Weasley told Bill to take Ginny to bed and insist everyone to turn in.

Hermione and Phoenix didn't change into their pajamas and they both collapsed on their beds either side of Ginny and fell asleep to the sound of drunken singing and the odd bangs.

"Phoenix, we have to get up," a hurried voice whispered in her ear, shaking her awake.

"Huh?" Phoenix mumbled, rubbing her eyes and rolling over to see Mr. Weasley, now waking up Hermione and Ginny.

"Something's wrong," and at once, Phoenix could tell that something was indeed wrong. There was no longer any singing; instead she could hear screams of terror and people running past the tent. Her eyes widen and she clambered out of bed, grabbing her wand that was on the floor beside her, "Ginny!"

Ginny slowly woke up, confused, but realised quickly too that something was wrong and grabbed her wand before they rushed out of the tent to join Harry, Ron, Fred and George and they could now see the scene that played in front of them. People were running away into the woods, rushing away from something that was moving towards them, something that was producing very odd flashes of light and bangs that sounded of laughter. Drunken yells, jeering and roars of laughter ripped through the screams, and then came a flash of light brought the something into view.

It was a crowd of wizards that made the hairs stand on the back of Phoenix's neck, their wands directed upwards into the sky, seemingly marching across the field. Phoenix saw, with a jolt, that their heads heavily hooded and their faces were masked. Phoenix stared, in horror, as she saw that their wands were in fact directed at four figures high in the air that were being contorted into shapes that were not possible if they were not being controlled by the hooded figures. Two of the figures, Phoenix realised, were very small.

"Oh my-" said Phoenix, stepping backwards in utter fear.

"We're going to help the Ministry!" Mr. Weasley bellowed at them, rolling up his sleeves. "You lot—get into the woods, and stick together. I'll come and get you when this has been sorted out!"

"Phoenix, C'mon! "George grabbed Phoenix's hand and pulled her towards the woods, following the others. As they reached the trees, she looked back at the scene. The crowd was larger; Ministry wizards were desperately trying to reach the hooded figures.

The paths that had been lighted earlier was now gone. Phoenix gripped onto George's large hand tigther with her smaller ones as she heard children crying, anxious yells that made her heart feel as though it was going to explode. She was being pushed by dark figures as they too tried to escape the scene.

"Where do we go?" voiced Phoenix, noticing that her voice was breaking in fear.

"No idea," said Fred, "just stay close."

"But where's Harry, Ron and Hermione?" Ginny asked, looking back. Phoenix mimicked her and realised that they were nowhere to be seen through the sea of people. Fred swore loudly.

"Fred, just keep going, they'll be fine as long as they stick together," George confided, "we have to keep moving." Phoenix noticed that George glanced at her when he said this.

So they did. They moved through the throng of people towards, who knows where. More and more people were pushing them in panic, causing Ginny and Phoenix to topple over one or more times due to their small sizes.

"You two, stop!" Fred yelled over yells from the people surrounding them. Phoenix and George obliged and together, with Fred and Ginny, they cut into the trees, away from the crowd.

"What on earth is going on out there?" said George as they all sat against tree trunks, Phoenix in her usual position with her head against George's shoulder and his arm around her.

"I have no idea," said Fred, handing Ginny his jacket as she shivered, "but- did you see who was in the air?"

"No? Who?" Ginny asked.

"It was Mr. Robert's family," said George, "it must be their idea of fun. You know-," George cast a weary look at Phoenix, "-taking the mick out of Muggles,"

"That's sick," Phoenix said in a small voice, "I bet you anything that Lucius was in there. Is that why you were so keen to keep us going because you were worried that they would get me?"

"Well-" began George.

"Nix, you know what they're like," said Fred, looking weary, "anyone who even has a trace of Muggle blood in their family, they see them as well-"

"Yeah, yeah I know," snapped Phoenix, "but whatever. I'm a better witch than most purebloods so they can kiss my-"

"You know," sneered a voice somewhere behind them, "saying things like that won't change that you are a Mudblood."

Fred and George immediately got to their feet, their wands directed straight at Draco's smug looking face.

"Shove off Malfoy," snarled Fred.

"Careful Weasley, you don't want to attract attention. They're after Muggles."

"I'm a witch Malfoy," snapped Phoenix, who was now on her feet, "unless you would like me to demonstrate my Mutatio Skullus hex on you."

Draco's eyes narrowed slightly, "have it your way then, if you think that they can't spot a Mudblood, then just stay here."

Fred and George both moved as though they were about to pounce on Draco, but both Ginny and Phoenix grabbed their arms, "shouldn't you be with your dear family?" snapped Phoenix as she pushed George backwards to stand in front of him and held his arms behind her back.

"Where's your family?" drawled Draco, completely ignoring Phoenix's questions, "I bet your father, Weasleys, is helping the Muggles down,"

"Yeah, unlike your father who is probably out there wearing a mask," retorted Phoenix.

Draco smirked, "well, I suppose I will see you out there with the other Muggles then." He snarled.

"Yeah," said Phoenix, her voice dripping with sarcasm, "see you git," she muttered as Draco strutted away from them. Fred, George and Ginny glared after him. Phoenix knew what they were thinking. They were angry that Draco even had the nerve to call Phoenix a Mudblood. It was an extremely offensive term for a person who is Muggle born.

"He acts like he's royalty," said Fred darkly.

"That's only because in his eyes he is," said Phoenix, "we better go and find-"

But at that precise moment something ignited high in the sky, illuminating the clearing in which they were situated. It was a gigantic emerald skull, looking as though it was made of stars, a serpent extending out of its mouth. It was rising higher and higher, green smoke misting it, edged into the black sky. Screams pierced the night and Phoenix clasped her hand to her mouth as she realised what it was.

"That's not-" began Fred.

"-The Dark Mark," finished Phoenix, her shaking hand grasping Ginny's.

"You don't think that somebody-" George gulped as he and Fred followed Phoenix and Ginny hurrying through the trees towards the now clear path.

"No they can't have-" said Ginny in a small voice.

"Thank god I found you guys!"

"Charlie!" Ginny ran towards the second eldest Weasley son and he engulfed her into a brotherly hug.

Beside Charlie, stood Edmund, Phoenix ran to him and he instantly pulled her into a big hug.

"Is everyone alright?" George asked immediately.

"Yeah," Charlie said and Phoenix sighed in relief, "Bill and Percy are back at the tent and Will and Dad's still with some more people from the Ministry to the scene where the Dark Mark was conjured, but everyone's okay. Percy's got a bloody nose, Charlie's arm is bleeding quite badly and I ripped my shirt, but that's it really."

"Oh thank Merlin," said Fred.

"Where's Ron, Harry, and Hermione?" asked Ed, a look mixed with worry and confusion on his face.

"We got split up," said Fred, "people were pushing and pushing, we couldn't stop to look for them,"

"Don't worry, Dad will find them," said Charlie, "lets just get you lot back to the tent."

Phoenix stared back up at the mark that was edged into the sky and as if he could read her mind, George put an assuring arm around her waist, "hey Charlie you think that we can get out of here?"

"Yeah, lets go."

Charlie and Ed led the way, his and the others wands were ignited as they walked through the trees, twigs breaking underneath their feet. As they walked Phoenix felt on edge, like the twigs that were breaking were not caused by them and she frequently looked back into the trees.

"Why do you keep looking back?" Fred asked when he and George noticed that Phoenix was doing so.


"You kept looking back," said George.

"I just feel like someone's watching us," said Phoenix, "but I'm just paranoid."

Fred and George looked at her inquisitively, then at each other. George shrugged at his brother and looked back into the dark trees as Phoenix had done.

Fred looked back up at The Dark Mark, his face looking slightly pale, "Charlie? You don't think that someone was-," Fred gulped, not wanting to finish the sentence.

Charlie shared a look with Ed before he looked across at Fred, "It's likely that the person who conjured it is a Death Eater or was, because only Death Eaters knew exactly how to conjure it-"

"But weren't the Death Eaters the ones who were causing all the chaos," said Phoenix, "they didn't-"

"No they didn't" said Charlie, "they all Disapparated as soon as they saw it. The ones you saw tonight were the last of them and after how much a lot of the wizards had to drink; they took the opportunity to evoke fear."

Ginny frowned, confused "Why did they Disapparate?"

"Because seeing the mark most likely scared them," Ed informed her carefully, "most of the remaining Death Eaters fled when You-Know-Who fell all those years ago. They denied that they ever were Death Eaters and most of them said they were under the Imperious Curse and went back to their normal, everyday lives. They would be more terrified than any of us if he returned, I mean, You-Know-Who wouldn't exactly be pleased with them."

They reminded in silence after that, trudging over the now very muddy path towards the calamity of the campsite. Luckily the two tents that they were staying in were in tack, the girl's tent did have a slightly singed cover, but overwise it was in perfect condition.

"You found them!" A pompous, slightly muffled voice sounded as soon as they entered the tent. Percy was holding a stained towel to his nose which was bleeding and Bill was nursing a badly cut arm with a spare bedsheet.

"They were split up from Ron and that, but they'll turn up eventually," said Charlie as he and Ed sat down beside Bill at the kitchen table.

It was barely five minutes later that Harry, Ron and Hermione appeared alongside Mr. Weasley and Will, who once he saw his step-sister was okay, hugged her as Ed had done and joined his brother and the Weasley's at the table.

"Did you manage to get them, Dad?" Bill asked as soon as Mr. Weasley came in, "the person who conjured the Mark?"

"No," Mr. Weasley said flatly, "We found Mr. Crouch's elf holding Harry's wand, but as to who conjured it, we are none the wiser."

"What?" Bill, Charlie, Percy and Ed all said together, their eyes wide in surprise.

Phoenix shared a bewildered look with Fred and George.

"Harry's wand?" said Fred, in disbelief.

"Mr. Crouch's elf?" babbled Percy, his mouth moving soundlessly but no words came out, apparently too lost for words.

But Phoenix wasn't listening to their conversation anymore. She shuddered, only now fully coming to terms with the series of events that had occurred in the hours previous. It felt like a lifetime ago that she and the Weasley party where cheering Ireland at the Quidditch World Cup Final. She couldn't help but feel slightly unhinged by what had happened. It wasn't every day that The Dark Mark appeared in the sky. It had to be over thirteen years ago that it had last appeared. And at an event like this with so many witches and wizards, there couldn't be a more perfect opportunity to evoke such fear in the wizarding world. What if, she thought, Lord Voldemort was returning to power?

"Phoenix, are you okay?" George's voice startled Phoenix so much that she jumped and almost toppled over the small coffee table.

"Y-yeah," Phoenix stuttered quickly, feeling like one of their previous Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirrell, who, quite ironically, turned out to have Lord Voldemort sticking out the back of his head. She shuffled over to the sofa and sat down, running her fingers through her now indigo coloured hair.

George mimicked her actions, sitting himself down beside her, "come on Pixy, it's fine."

"Is it?" Phoenix said in a hushed voice, not wanting to be overheard, "When was the last time you saw The Dark Mark in the sky? It was when he was in power. Doesn't that," Phoenix paused for a moment before saying, "scare you?"

George looked at her seriously, a look that was rare in the case of both of the Weasley twins, "Of course it does," he admitted, "but you're not going to worry about it because we're going to be back in Hogwarts soon."

"And how does that help the situation?" Phoenix frowned.

"Honestly," George heaved a deep sigh, "who is the man that You-Know-Who fears the most?" George paused for a moment, before saying, "Dumbledore! Hogwarts is the safest place in the wizarding world when we have Dumbledore."

"I guess you're right," said Phoenix quietly.

"I always am," George said cheerfully, putting an arm around Phoenix's shoulder and squeezing her into his chest, "and I always will be Pixy."

"Look, can someone just explain what that skull thing was?" Ron suddenly said loudly, taking Phoenix and George's attention to the other conversation around the kitchen table. "It wasn't hurting anyone… Why's it such a big deal?"

"I told you, Ron, it's You-Know-Who's symbol," said Hermione, very impatiently in her recognisable a matter of fact tone, "I read about it in The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts."

"And it hasn't been seen for thirteen years," said Mr. Weasley quietly, looking at each of his children and then at Phoenix and Harry, "People panicked as soon as they saw it… it just reminded people of when saw it Ron, it was almost like You-Know-Who was back again."

Phoenix shuffled slightly uncomfortably in her seat on the sofa and began to play with her fingers, still listening intently as Fred too sat down beside them.

"I don't get it," said Ron, a frown evident upon his face, "I mean… it's still only a shape in the sky if you think about it…"

"Ron," Mr. Weasley said softly, "You-Know-Who and his followers sent the Dark Mark into the air whenever they killed," said Mr. Weasley, casting a weary look over at Phoenix that she did not see. "The terror it inspired… you couldn't even imagine. Just picture coming home and finding the Dark Mark hovering over your house, and knowing what you're about to find inside…" Mr. Weasley shuddered slightly, "Everyone's worst fear… the very worst…"

A loud silence followed this. It was broken when Bill removed the bedsheet to check on his cut, which had now stopped bleeding, "Well, whoever conjured it didn't help us at all. It scared the Death Eaters right away the moment that they saw it. They all Disapparated before we had even got near enough to unmask any of them. We managed to get to Mr. Robert's family before they hit the ground, on the bright side. They're having their memories modified right now for good measure."

"Death Eaters?" said Harry, "What are Death Eaters?" Phoenix was always surprised how little Harry knew about Voldemort's rise to power all those years ago.

"It's what You-Know-Who's followers or so-called supporters called themselves," said Ed, "I think we saw what's left of them tonight—the ones who managed to keep themselves out of Azkaban, anyhow."

"We can't prove it was them, Edmund," said Mr. Weasley. "Though it probably was," he added considerately.

"Yeah, I bet you anything it was!" added Ron, his face shining, "Dad cause what, we ran into Draco Malfoy in the woods, and he as good as told us his dad was one of those nutters in masks! And we all know the Malfoys were right in with You-Know-Who!"

"We saw him too," Phoenix said suddenly.

"Yeah!" added Fred. "He did get really defensive when Phoenix asked where his family were-"

"But what were Voldemort's supporters—" Harry began. Everybody flinched; Phoenix included—like the majority of the wizarding world feared Voldemort so much that they even feared saying his name. "Sorry," said Harry quickly. "What were You-Know-Who's supporters up to, levitating Muggles? I mean, what was the point in it?"

"The point?" said Mr. Weasley with a slight laugh, "Harry, that's their idea of fun. It's sick and very twisted, I know. But half the Muggle killings back while You-Know-Who was in power were done for pure fun." Mr. Weasley paused for a moment, looking weary once again, before continuing, "I suppose they had a few drinks tonight and couldn't resist reminding us all that lots of them are still at large. A nice little reunion for them," he finished.

"But if they were the Death Eaters, why did they Disapparate when they saw the Dark Mark?" Ron asked, looking more and more confused. "They'd have been pleased to see it, wouldn't they?"

"Think about it, Ron," said Bill, "If they really were Death Eaters, they worked very hard to keep out of Azkaban when You-Know-Who lost power all those years ago. They all told all sorts of lies about him forcing them to kill and torture people. They would be terrified if he regained power. They denied they'd ever been involved with him when he lost his powers, and went back to their daily lives… I don't reckon he'd be over pleased with them, do you?"

Hermione nodded, taking in all the information and progressing it. Phoenix could almost hear her brain working furiously, "So… whoever conjured the Dark Mark…" said Hermione slowly. "were they doing it to show support for the Death Eaters, or to scare them away?"

"It had to be a Death Eater," said Phoenix suddenly. "They were the only ones who knew how to conjure it."

"Yes," Mr. Weasley said thoughtfully. "I would be very surprised if the person who did conjure hadn't been a Death Eater even if they're not now…"

Will looked at his wristwatch and then back up at Phoenix, "we best be off. Tomorrow will be a long day at work for the both of us," he said, casting a look over at his brother.

"Yes," said Mr. Weasley, "you lot should be getting to bed too. It's extremely late and if your mother hears about what has happened she'll be worried sick."

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