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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16. The Beginning of the Mystery

November seemed to be passing very slowly and tauntingly. It was almost like time knew how agitated Phoenix was to finding out the truth and time was slowly down in spite of her. Throughout November it seemed as though the houses of Hogwarts were more divided than usual and this was all due to the fourth champion, Harry Potter. The Slytherins, which came as no surprise to anyone, were even more horrible and cruel to the Gryffindors than usual. Even the Ravenclaw (with the expectation of Luna) and Hufflepuffs were less friendly to the Gryffindors.

As houses should, the Gryffindors stood by Harry (well most of them). Phoenix had given him some of her old fifth year text books in hopes to help him with the first task which would take place after lunch on November 24th and Fred and George always made sure to bring Harry food from the kitchens when he was in a particularly cranky mood (which was most of the time). The only Gryffindor it seemed that was not supporting Harry was Ron, who had been sitting with Fred and George most of his time, much to their annoyance.

Badges had been seen on a large majority of the students in Hogwarts, when Phoenix had first seen these badges she thought for a wild moment that they were S.P.E.W. badges, but they were in fact Support CEDRIC DIGGORY – the REAL Hogwarts Champion! And that wasn't the last of it. Whenever somebody (which a large majority were Slytherins) supporting these badges saw a Gryffindor, particularly Harry, they pressed their badge into their chest and the message was replaced by POTTER STINKS.

"You know what Malfoy?" Phoenix said loudly as she passed a sniggering Draco Malfoy who had just jabbed his finger into his badge so that it read POTTER STINKS when Harry had walked by him. "It seems as though you have some kind of weird obsession with Harry seemingly as though you were the one to slave over making hundreds of these badges."

Fred, George, Angelina Harry, Hermione, and Lee all roared with laughter at this as Malfoy looked at Phoenix, his pale face set in anger.

"Shut your mouth you filthy little Mudblood!"

Fred and George both lunged for Malfoy but Lee and Harry both grabbed their arms and pulled them back. Crabbe and Goyle, Malfoy's boyfriends as Phoenix liked to call them, cracked their knuckles menacingly.

"Shove off Malfoy," George spat.

"You know Malfoy your insults are getting old," Phoenix said coldly, her hair turning an icy blue as she grabbed George's arm. "And your badge isn't really witty. It's kind of pathetic actually."

"That's rich coming from a –"

"A Mudblood? Wow, I've never been called such a profanity before," she said in a patronizing sort of voice and Fred tried to contain his snort of laughter. "You really can't expect to win all your arguments with the same, tedious insults."

Malfoy scowled at her before he and his bodyguard boyfriends stalked off.

"Thanks," said Harry when they reached the Great Hall for lunch. "Those badges have been getting on my nerves."

"I could have turned him into a ferret if you asked," said Phoenix grinning and Harry laughed.

 

When the morning of the 21st approached, Phoenix could feel a mix of excitement and anxiety. Today, hopefully, was going to be the day that she found out the truth.

Her hair had turned a dark purple. Sometimes, she thought as she dressed in a blouse, jeans and jumper, she believed that her hair was almost like some strange and obscure mood ring. Phoenix knew it was because she hadn't really ever learnt how to balance her emotions and her Metamorphmagi ability. Not wanting to give her nervousness away, she squeezed her eyes shut and her hair turned her favourite shade of pastel lilac.

"You're up later than usual Phoenix," said Angelina as Phoenix plonked down in the seat on the Gryffindor table beside her. "We tried to wake you up but you just kept snoring."

"Well I have to meet Tonks at one," she shrugged. "And I don't snore!"

"You do," George said. "But it's really soft–"

"It's a cute snore," said Fred.

"Thanks for the analysis."

At that Ron came in through the entrance hall, cast a longing look over at Harry and Hermione and came over to sit beside Fred, looking highly put-out. Phoenix could not understand why Ron didn't just apologise to Harry. She understood his reasons for being mad at Harry, well she understood the more in-depth reasons that Hermione had about Ron's hidden insecurities but Phoenix felt as though both Ron and Harry were just too stubborn to make up.

"Ah, are you joining us in Hogsmeade then Ickle Ronniekins?" Fred asked him tauntingly.

"Well yeah. I haven't really got anybody else to go with." Ron added, more to himself than Fred and George as he began piling sausages onto his plate. In the few weeks that Ron had been joining them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Phoenix had learnt quite a few things about Ron; one thing was that without Harry he was quite lost. Secondly he was rather sardonic, wisecracking sense of humour but mostly she learnt that he ate more than Fred and George combined. Even though Phoenix had spent most of her summers with the Weasleys she never really noticed how much the Weasley boys all ate, but she came to realise that Ron had the appetite of blue whale.

"Well then maybe you should go and make up with Harry because we don't want you following us round all the time," said Fred.

"Fred!" said Phoenix sending Fred a look, as if to say shut up. "Ron you are more than welcome to sit with us," she said to Ron and both Fred and George rolled their eyes. "Though–" she added as an afterthought, "It would be nice to stop seeing you moping around without Harry."

The air was bitter, cold and bit at Phoenix's exposed neck as she walked between Fred and George, trudging behind them was a sombre looking Ron and a rather cheerful looking Lee who was talking about the upcoming First Task. They were walking towards the Three Broomsticks. It was midday and Phoenix had an hour before she was due to meet Tonks at the warm and cosy Inn.

"Where should we go?" Phoenix asked. "I have an hour till I have to meet Tonks."

"We should go Madam Puddifoot's!" said George giving her a nudge with his elbow and almost knocking her into an elderly looking witch.

After apologising profusely to the old witch, she smacked George on the arm, who had kindly waited for her by a nearby lamppost.

"You're terrible George Weasley!" she said as they walked behind Fred, Lee, and Ron. "I could have knocked over all her potion ingredients!"

"I think the others have gone to Dervish & Banges," said George. "Want to go somewhere else I don't really need anything from there,"

"Just as long as it's not Madam Puddifoot's," she mumbled and together they made their way down Hogsmeade's snow covered street and into Honeydukes sweetshop, where Phoenix purchased some Sugar Butterfly Wings and brought herself and George some Drooble's Best Blowing Gum and Chocolate Frogs.

They sat on a snow covered bench outside to blow bluebell-coloured bubbles with the blowing gum.

"I would say we could go to Spintwitches and get some Quidditch supplies," said George in a faraway sort of voice. "But one, we don't have Quidditch this year and two, I don't have any money." George kicked the snow under his feet rather aggressively and Phoenix blew another bluebell bubble that floated away down the street and looked across at him sadly. "I hate being poor."

"George," Phoenix said softly, putting a hand on his arm so that he looked up at her. "What Bagman did was illegal and I'm sure that you and Fred weren't the only ones who gambled. I bet you anything that a whole load of people are after him for money. He'll get his comeuppance sure enough."

George smiled at her before he took another piece of blowing gum from the small packet.

"Do you fancy going to the Shrieking Shack?" Phoenix suggested after some time of sitting on the bench, blowing bubbles and riffling through their chocolate frog cards. George agreed and together they trudged through the snow towards the famous, abandoned house.

They reached the fences that surrounded the shack. Phoenix looked up the house's boarded windows and doors, remembering in her third year when she, Fred, and George had walked right up to the house and tried to get inside. Well, Fred and George did most of the work, trying to blast holes in the wood, whereas Phoenix had stood aside and stared up at the shack before a piece of wood that Fred had managed to blast off had whacked her on the head and rendered her unconscious.

"You and Fred are never going to try and break in again are you?" Phoenix asked George, a small smile on her face.

"No…" George replied, leaning against the fence, grinning, "Not with you around anyway,"

"How sweet," Phoenix replied with a roll of her eyes as she too leaned against the fence beside him. The part of fence that she was leaning against however gave way and Phoenix shrieked as she rolled down the small, snow-covered hill.

"Phoenix!"

She reached the bottom of the hill and landed in a rather large pile of snow. Phoenix spat snow out of her mouth, shivering from the absolute cold. George was trying not to burst into laughter as he helped her to her feet.

"Are you okay?" He asked in a voice that was shaking in suppressed laughter.

Phoenix nodded, her teeth chattering as she hugged herself to try and keep warm, "Y-Yeah, I c-can't go anywhere wi-without being a p-prat!"

"You sound like Quirrell," George grinned and Phoenix whacked him.

"I'm s-sorry I'm c-cold!" She proclaimed, "I did just land in a p-pile of bleeding snow!"

George rolled his eyes and wrapped his arms around Phoenix's body, bringing her into his chest. He was very warm. His hand rubbed her arms and her back, trying to warm her up.

"You're so short," he said and Phoenix smacked his chest.

"You're horrible!" Reluctantly, she pulled away from his warmth and bent down, picking up a pile of snow in glove-covered hands.

"Don't even think about!" George said as he back away from her, she followed and George began to run back up the hill.

"Come back here George Weasley!"

"Never!"

Phoenix was catching him up as they reached the very top of the small hill. She was on his heels when she suddenly jumped onto his back. He swore loudly as they both came crashing into the snow.

"Get off me you absolute Muppet!"

But Phoenix wasn't listening as she mushed the pile of snow in her hands into his hair and George swore again at the coldness.

"I will kill you!"

She giggled childishly as she jumped off of George's back and began to run as fast as she could back into the village of Hogsmeade, accidently running into several of the shoppers that crowded the streets.

"Come back here you git!" George bellowed from somewhere behind her.

She turned her head to look back at George, snow covered his head. "Go away you nutter! Oh I'm sorry Hermione!" Phoenix ran right into Hermione.

"What on earth are you doing?" she asked as she brushed off the snow that had caught on her coat.

"I don't know, George is as mad as a bag of ferrets, I was being nice to him and then he just – George put me down!" George had grabbed her waist from behind and was lifting her up in the air. "You're such a bleeding tosser!"

George let out a roar of laughter as Hermione merely laughed and carried on walking down the street. Phoenix kicked her leg and managed to kick George's knee. He swore and dropped her.

"I hate you," Phoenix said, crossing her arms over her chest and pouting childishly.

"Aw Pixy, I love you too," and with that, he smashed a pile of snow into her face.

"Wow, wow, wow what is going on here?"

Fred, Lee, and Ron came striding over, looking from George to Phoenix, both of whom were covered head-to-foot in snow.

"You two look like giant marshmallows," said Lee with a grin.

"She started it!" said George.

"No you started it!" protested Phoenix.

"I'd love to stay and listen to you flirt –" Phoenix scowled at Fred, "–but it's almost one o'clock," said Fred, glancing at his watch. "You better go to the Three Broomsticks to meet Tonks."

"We'll see you later my dear lady!" said Lee, bowing to Phoenix and kissing her hand.

Phoenix scowled at him.

"Don't talk to strangers!" Fred called to her retreating back.

"And don't swap chocolate frog cards with them either!" yelled George.

"Honestly," Phoenix mumbled to herself as she pushed open the door to the Three Broomsticks pub. It was warm and crowded compared to the street outside and Phoenix felt herself become as warm as she had been when George had hugged her. The air was smoky as Phoenix walked over to the bar and ordered two bottles of Butterbeer from the pretty barmaid, Madam Rosmerta. Phoenix stared into the mirror that was behind the bar and noticed that the hair that could be seen under the pile of snow had turned back to deep purple. Scowling, she squeezed her eyes shut and it turned to bluebell blue, reminding her fondly of blowing bubbles with George.

Being a rather popular pub for Hogwarts students and the villagers of Hogsmeade to relax and warm up, it was difficult for Phoenix to find a table. Her eyes scanned the room and she saw a free table beside one of the frosty window. She made a beeline for it and noticed that it was beside Jerome and a couple of Beauxbaton students table, including their champion, Fleur Delacour. She sat down with her back to them; she really didn't want Jerome to kiss her hand, again.

"Wotcher Phoenix."

"Tonks!"

Phoenix shot to her feet to see Tonks beaming at her. Tonks was probably one of Phoenix's favourite non-blood related relatives. She exuded an aura of hipness; her wardrobe choices were so eccentric and clashed so vividly with her vibrant hair (which today was her favourite bubble-gum pink). Her eyes were a dark, warm brown and they twinkled brightly in the light from the gas lamps around the pub; she had a pale heart-shaped face and was carrying a large muggle looking briefcase. She was wearing a black and purple wrap around shirt and a flared black skirt underneath a bright violet traveling cloak. Her black tights that had rips in, she appeared to be wearing purple dragon skin boots and she wore large hoop earrings in her ears.

"It's lovely ter see yahr dear," said Tonks, giving Phoenix a welcoming hug before she sat down onto the seat opposite from her.

"It's great to see you too!" said Phoenix, her feeling of nervous had immediately decreased when she had seen Tonks. Although she had been looking forward to the reason of their meeting, she had also been looking forward to seeing her step-cousin again. "How has the Auror training been coming along?"

"It's been tirin' ter say the least." Tonks said taking a long swig from her bottle of Butterbeer before she continued. "Concealmen' an' Disguise was a breeze but I think I may 'ave just failed Stealth an' Trackin' because I kept on fallin' over."

Phoenix smiled in amusement. Another thing about Nymphadora Tonks was that she was the clumsiest person that Phoenix had ever met. There was clumsy, as Phoenix sometimes was as she had fallen down several staircases in her time, but then there was Tonks. She practically tripped through mid-air.

"Thanks for agreeing to meet me Tonks," Phoenix said, placing her Butterbeer on the table. "I don't know what I would have done if you didn't agree to this."

"It's no problem my dear! Although, I did feel a bit guil'y… I suppose it's all fer a good cause though." Tonks said. She reached down for the briefcase she had been holding and opened it. It was full of old and charred looking pieces of parchment and paper. "I 'aven't been able ter look through the bloomin' Ministry's papers cause I just 'aven't 'ad the time!"

"Did you look through my father's office?" Phoenix asked her. She was beginning to feel rather guilty to ask Tonks to look through her father's private office.

"Yeah!" Tonks said brightly, Phoenix supposed she loved being given a kind of secret mission. "I did find some interestin' files in yahr father's office though…"

Tonks handed Phoenix the pieces of paper and she took them with shaky hands. At first glance, she wondered how on earth she was going to make any sense of them. Most of them looked like doctors reports, old drawings that looked like they were by Phoenix when she was younger, but one that stood out to her most was a copy of a Ministry of Magic report. It was dated thirteen years previous and was signed by…

"Alastor Moody?" Phoenix gasped. Moody? She was confused, firstly why would her father have any kind of communication with the Ministry of Magic before he met Cecilia, when he was a muggle? Secondly, why was Mad-Eye Moody involved? Was that why his normal eye and his magical eye always seemed to looking at her? Because he knew something?

Before Phoenix could even look over the context of the report however, somebody shouted her name.

"Phoenix!"

It was Fred.

Phoenix looked up at Tonks, who was waving cheerily over at Fred.

"Tonks! I haven't told them about this!" Phoenix gasped, shoving the papers back into Tonks' hands.

"Take 'em with you then!" Tonks said taking the papers and putting them back into the briefcase which she handed to Phoenix. "I didn't go through yahr father's private thing for nothin' yew know!"

"Thanks Tonks," Phoenix said, putting the briefcase in her bag from Honeydukes by her feet. "I really appreciate it!"

"It's no problem!" Tonks said as Fred, George, Lee, and Ron came over, Lee and Ron laden with Zonko's shopping bags and all had a bottle of Butterbeer in their hands. "Wotcher," Tonks greeted them.

"Phoenix," Lee said dreamily. "You didn't tell me your step-cousin was so hot–"

"Tonks," Phoenix interrupted Lee, not wanting him to ever hit on her step-cousin. "These are my friends, Fred, George, Lee, and Ron."

"It's lovely ter meet yew all," Tonks said, getting to her feet. "But I really must be off, I'll see yew soon Phoenix!" She winked at Phoenix and left the pub, tripping over her traveling cloak as she went.

"Lee you really need to stop calling every girl you see hot," Phoenix said as she slid along the bench to let George sit beside her. "It scares them all off."

"Come off it," Lee said chuckling. "Girls love the attention."

"Yeah I'm sure they do–"

"What were you and Tonks talking about then?" Fred interrupted Lee.

"Oh," Phoenix said, a little caught off guard. "You know… a bit of this… a bit of that. Girly stuff, you know."

"Girly stuff?" George asked, his voice was curious and Phoenix knew that he didn't believe her.

"Yeah, you know like–"

"Fhoenix?"

Fred, Ron, George, and Lee all sniggered as she turned to see Jerome standing beside their table, looking even more handsome than usual, snow covered his silk robes.

"Hi Jerome," she greeted, glad that George was beside her and blocking her only way of exit. "You look – erm – cold."

"Oui, eet ez very cold," he said throatily and Phoenix was forcing herself not to look at Fred who was shaking with suppressed mirth. "We are – er – only allowed wear des robes at Beauxbatons,"

"But it's the weekend?"

"Eet ez ze wishes of Madam Maxine zhat we must always wear des robes for respect for Beauxbatons," Jerome explained and Phoenix nodded slowly, still completely confused as to why anybody in their right mind would wear robes made from silk on such a snowy day. "Well I just wanted to say bonjour, I will see you later Fhoenix."

"God he's pretentious," said George when Jerome and the rest of the Beauxbaton students left the pub. Ron's eyes trailing after Fleur Delacour.

"He's just being friendly," Phoenix defended. "Although it would have been polite to say hello to the rest of you, not just me,"

"That's probably because he only remembered your name," said Lee and Phoenix face and hair flushed red and she decided to change the subject.

"So Ron, do you like Fleur Delacour?" she asked.

"What?" Ron spluttered, his ears reddening. "No – of course not!"

"It's okay if you do," said Lee. "I fancy her too."

"You fancy every female in the human species," Phoenix whispered so that only George could hear her. "She's actually really nice if you talk to her," she said to Ron who, if it was possible, tuned even redder.

Phoenix had talked to Fleur Delacour in several occasions, mostly when they were both in the library and sometimes in corridors. Fleur was nice when she wasn't making comments about what she considered to be Hogwarts's poor standards.

"Nice?" George looked at Phoenix in disbelief. "Did you hear her the other day when we were coming out of Charms?"

"Ze robes on des students are horable!" Angelina's voice said in a strikingly accurate imitation of Fleur as she and Alicia came towards them, laden with shopping bags.

"Did you two buy the entire shop?" Fred asked, moving up so that Angelina could sit beside him while Alicia pulled up an extra chair from the table that the Beauxbaton students had just left.

"We brought you some shoes Phoenix," Alicia said brightly. "Because we doubted you even own a pair of heels."

"That's only because I can't walk in them!" Phoenix protested and Angelina rolled her eyes as she pulled a pair of simple sparkly sliver heels.

"I bet you can walk in these," said Angelina encouragingly. "They're only about four inches."

"Why do we even have to dress up?" Fred groaned. "Do they expect us to show up to the First Task in our dress robes?"

"Obviously not Fred," Angelina snapped. "There's probably some fancy occasion later on in the year."

Phoenix hated the idea of dressing up in dress robes and heels for two reasons, one she could barely walk in halls and two she was, as Fred and George pointed out so frequently, the last girl to be caught wearing a dress. But knowing that, whatever the occasion may be, she would be wearing her mother's dress and for some reason it gave her a boost of confidence.

 

The rest of their day was devoted to Phoenix completing all of her homework, which included her Potions essay on love potions, Ancient Rune essay along with yet more translations and a nasty essay on defending against Lethifolds and Dementors from Moody. But she was really waiting for the common room to empty so that she could riffle through the reports that Tonks had given her.

By half eleven the common room was almost empty; only Fred, George, Phoenix, and Hermione were still in the common room. Phoenix was helping Fred and George with Moody's essay beside the fire, correcting their mistakes while Hermione was reading a large book on jinxes though her eyes frequently dashed up to look at them.

"Lethifolds attack at night Fred, not in the day," Phoenix said in an impatient voice as she peered down at his essay. "They do it when the person is asleep… though you did get the part about them suffocating and digesting the victim right."

"How could I forget?" Fred grinned. "Moody's details on the matter were so horrifically unforgettable."

She hummed in reply, her eyes flicking over to the small briefcase that sat beside the armchair that Phoenix had been occupying. She was itching to see the report that Moody had signed and to read the other pieces of information that could at least tell her something. She didn't want to read them in her dormitory because Alicia was a rather light sleeper and if Phoenix so much as turned her oil lamp on, Alicia would wake up and be asking questions on what Phoenix was reading.

George yawned widely and she turned to him, thankful that one of them was showing a sign of tiredness. "Are you tired?" she asked quickly. "You should go to bed."

He smiled lazily at her and nodded. "Yeah I'll do that," he stood up and looked over at his brother. "You coming Fred?"

"Yeah," Fred said, grabbing his bag and waving goodbye to Phoenix. "Night, don't let the bed bugs bite."

With that, the twins left.

Immediately, Phoenix grabbed the briefcase and sank in her seat. She cast a quick look at Hermione, who was still reading, before she pulled open the briefcase and riffled through the files. Phoenix could see the old doctor's notes, the drawings, what looked like an old shopping list and finally an official report from the Ministry of Magic.

Dear Andrei Lancaster,
In reply to the several letters you have sent, we can tell you in confidence that your daughter, Phoenix, is making a slow, yet definable recovery at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.

Phoenix's condition and also your situation has included the involvement of Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes at the Ministry and we are requesting for your permission for her to have an interview about what happened at your place of residence on Wednesday 14th October at precisely thirty minutes past six. The interview will be conducted by the head of the department, Clageor Chorster and head of Department of International Magical Cooperation, Bartemius Crouch.

If you wish to give your consent or if you decline then please sent word immediately by return owl as sending letters by the Muggle way may arouse suspicion.

In reply to your last letter about what we can do to help your daughter's current condition and your suggestions, Healer Loyalar and Clageor Chorster have both agreed that having her memory modified would be best to deal with the trauma of what had happened.

I will be awaiting your reply.

Yours sincerely,
Alastor Moody.

Phoenix stared, seemingly horrified by what she had read. Healer Loyalar and Clageor Chorster have both agreed that having her memory modified... memory modified? Had her father really had suggested such a drastic action? Was this why she seemingly had no memory of her mother? Because it had all been wiped away as easily as if it was a speck of dust. Her hands began to shake and once again she could hear, no, she could partially feel her mother's screaming. The bloodcurdling screams seemed to shake Phoenix's very bones. And her eyes closed as once again she envisioned her mother's body falling to the floor in front of her.

"Pixy? Are you okay?"

Her eyes snapped open.

George was standing in front of her, looking at her as though she had just spontaneously combusted.

"Are you okay?" he repeated, moving closer to her now. She nodded quickly and made to grab the briefcase, but George took her wrist in his hands before she could do so. "What's that?" he asked, pointing to the report in her shaking hands.

"It's-It's – erm – homework," Phoenix said in the most unconvincing voice that she had ever heard. It shook too much to pass off as casual. "What are you doing back down here?"

"I forget my bag," said George, pointing to his bag that was still on the floor before he added. "And I'm not an idiot Pixy, what is it?"

"It's none of your business," snapped Phoenix, getting to her feet.

George looked over at Hermione, who was now scribbling over a piece of parchment while Crookshanks sat lazily upon her lap. "It's a report from the Ministry of Magic Phoenix, that's not homework." He whispered so that Hermione would not hear him.

"It does not concern you!" Phoenix hissed and her hair turned a fiery red. Always a warning sign.

"Oh yeah?" said George testily. "If something from the Ministry is making my best friend look as if she's seen a freakin' Basilisk then yeah I think it corners me!"

Phoenix glared at George's face, he looked incredibly ticked off. She had really never argued or gotten angry with Fred nor George, unless you counted her shouting herself hoarse at them for turning Silvano's feather multi-coloured. It was the first time that one of them at been remotely angry at them.

"Can't you just leave me alone?" she spat trying to pull her arm away from George's grip so that she could put away the report. She couldn't really tell who she was angrier at – George or her father.

"What does it say?" George asked, inclining his head towards the report in her hand again.

His free hand reached for the piece of paper and Phoenix knew that she wasn't going to get out of this without either lying to George (which Phoenix doubt he would believe) or having to make him angrier by running from him.

"George don't read it!" she whispered as she noticed Hermione shoot them a questioning look.

"Then what is it?" George asked, his eyes focusing back to hers. "You trust me don't you?"

"Of course I trust you!" Phoenix whispered hotly. "But it's my choice as to whether I tell you or not and I've chosen not to tell you."

"Why?" George asked indignantly. "It's not like I keep anything from you!"

"I don't have to tell you everything George!"

George glared at her and Phoenix crossed her arms over her chest.

"Just tell me what it says Phoenix!" George said through gritted and Phoenix knew that he was controlling his temper. She was determined not to tell him, she couldn't tell him. This was something she had to do alone.

"George, I'm sorry but I can't tell you," Phoenix said, yanking her arm from his grip. "And before you say anything it is not because I don't trust you. It's because I can't tell you! I'm sorry."

He glared at her, not entirely angrier but more suspiciously. "What are you up to?"

"George," she said in a voice that warned George to stop perusing her.

He seemed to take the hint and his gaze dropped down to his feet as he whispered, "It's not dangerous is it?"

"No of course not," she said in a small voice. "I know I possess a rather chivalrous spirit but I would never risk my life for something and not tell you or Fred."

Phoenix knew that he was reluctant and wanted to peruse her, continue to question her but she knew he didn't want to risk her yelling at him and wake up the whole of Gryffindor Tower.

"I'm going to bed," Phoenix said, picking up the briefcase and her bag from the floor.

"Right," said George, he ruffled her hair and grinned at her. "Night!"

As she climbed very quietly into bed, so to not wake up Alicia and lay on her back, staring up at the ceiling of her four-poster bed. Why had her father done that to her? Why had he modified her memory so that she had no memory of her memory? Was it to protect her? But protect her from what? It hadn't made her feel any better – she still felt isolated, even more than usual in fact.

Rolling over and rubbing her eyes harshly, she closed her eyes and fell into distorted dreams of flashes of green light, Alastor Moody and that horrific, bloodcurdling scream.

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