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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8. The Journey There

The atmosphere in the Burrow the next morning was as dull and gloomy as the weather outside. Rain hammered against the window and the wind howled loudly as Phoenix got dressed in jeans and a jumper, they would all change into their school robes on the Hogwarts Express.

As always, Mrs. Weasley made a large and scrumptious full English breakfast, complete with bacon, sausages, eggs, porridge, and toast. Just as Phoenix sat down at the table in her usual seat between Fred and George, Mr. Weasley came rushing in the kitchen, saying rushed good-byes to his children as he dragged a comb through his hair.

"I'd better hurry – you lot have a good term," said Mr. Weasley "and try to keep the twins in line Phoenix,"

"I will try, Mr. Weasley, as I always do," said Phoenix.

"Molly, are you going to be all right taking the kids to King's Cross?" Mr. Weasley asked as he fastened his travelling cloak over his shoulders, preparing to Disapparate.

"Of course I will," she said as Mr. Weasley pecked her cheek. "You just look after Mad-Eye, we'll be fine."

With a loud CRACK, Mr. Weasley Disapparated, just as Bill and Charlie entered the kitchen.

"What was the about Mad-Eye?" Bill asked as Mrs. Weasley handed him a plate.

"He says that someone apparently tried to break into his house last night," said Mrs. Weasley.

"Mad-Eye Moody?" said George, "Isn't he that nutter -"

"Your father happens to think very highly of Mad-Eye Moody," Mrs. Weasley eyed George with a stern look.

"Yeah, well, Dad collects plugs, doesn't he?" said Fred in an undertone as Mrs. Weasley left the room. "Birds of a feather. . ."

"Moody is a good friend of Will's," said Phoenix, "When he was still an Auror of course."

"What's an Auror?" asked Harry. Harry, who had grown up with muggles had very little knowledge about what most witches and wizards knew like the back of their hands.

"A dark wizard catcher," said Hermione informality.

"Moody was a great wizard in his time," said Bill thoughtfully.

"Half the cells in Azkaban are full because of him," said Phoenix, "he made a lot more enemies however, mostly the families of people that he caught. Will says he is really paranoid at his age and doesn't really trust anyone. Says that he sees Dark wizards everywhere."

"He's an old friend of Dumbledore's, isn't he?" said Charlie.

"Dumbledore's not what you'd call normal, though, is he?" said Fred, "I mean, I know he's a genius and everything…" Phoenix had to agree. Dumbledore was definitely a character.

Bill and Charlie decided that they would come along to King's Cross station to see everybody off, but most unfortunately, Percy couldn't as he said that he really needed to get to work.

"Mr. Crouch is really starting to rely on me." He said, causing Fred and George to snigger.

"Yeah, you know what, Percy? I reckon he'll know your name soon."

 

Mrs. Weasley had got Muggle taxis to take them to Kings Cross, Mrs. Weasley seemed to be unaware that Muggle taxi drivers aren't used to transporting owls, especially Ron's overexcited owl, Pigwidgeon. Neither did it help when a number of Fred's Filibuster's Fabulous No-Heat, Wet-Start Fireworks exploded unexpectedly from his trunk and almost set Phoenix's hair on fire.

The journey there was extremely uncomfortable. Phoenix was crammed into the back between the twins and Silvano kept hooting indignitedly at the discomfort. So they were glad when the taxis parked in front of the station.

They got onto platform nine and three-quarters within a matter of minutes, after walking through the sold barrier between platforms nine and ten. Phoenix went through with Fred and George; they talked, seemingly casually, as they slip through the barrier with ease. They all now stood beside the magnificent scarlet steam engine, the Hogwarts Express. Phoenix, Fred and George, put their trunks and Silvano's cage in a free compartment before they returned to the platform to say goodbye to Mrs. Weasley, Bill, and Charlie.

"I may be seeing you all sooner than you think," said Charlie as he hugged Ginny.

"Why?" Fred said curiously.

"You'll see," said Charlie, winking at Fred, "just don't tell Percy I mentioned it… it's 'classified information, until such time as the Ministry sees fit to release it,' after all." Phoenix and Ginny giggled at Charlie's impressive impression of Percy's most pompous voice.

"Yeah, I sort of wish I were back at Hogwarts this year," said Bill airily, grinning as he could tell that he was making the twins impatient.

"Why?" said George, clearly becoming annoyed at his elder brothers.

"You're going to have an interesting year," said Bill, winking once again "I might even get time off to come and watch a bit of it."

"A bit of what?" said Ron, staring from Bill to Charlie and back.

The whistle suddenly sounded and Mrs. Weasley hugged each of her children, the Harry, then Hermione, and then Phoenix before ushering them onto the train.

"Thanks for letting me stay again Mrs. Weasley," said Phoenix, leaning out of the window on-board the train so she could talk.

"Yeah, thanks for everything, Mrs. Weasley," added Harry.

"Oh it was my pleasure, dears," said Mrs. Weasley, smiling widely. "I'd invite you for Christmas, but…with what's on going I suspect that you will be staying…"

"What d'you three know that we don't?" said Ron desperately as he too hung out of the window of the train.

"You'll find out this evening, I expect," said Mrs. Weasley, "it's going to be very exciting - mind you, I'm very glad they've changed the rules -"

"What rules?" said Harry, Ron, Phoenix Fred, and George together. They were all now leaning out of the window, almost crushing Phoenix in the process.

"I'm sure Professor Dumbledore will tell you…Now, behave, won't you? Won't you, Fred? And you, George?"

"I'll make sure of it Mrs. Weasley!" Phoenix said loudly as the train began to move.

The pistons hissed loudly and the train began to move and Phoenix moved out of the way so that she could have some room to move.

"Tell us what's happening at Hogwarts!" Fred bellowed irritably at his mother, "What rules are they changing?" But the train rounded a corner and Fred, George, Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione all moved out of the way of the window.

Phoenix, Fred, and George all said goodbye to the others and moved down the train and sat down in their compartment. Phoenix sat in her usual seat beside the window, beside George and opposite Fred.

"What do you think going on a Hogwarts then?" said George almost immediately.

"I have no idea," said Fred, frowning, "it sounds like some sort of event."

"And it sounds as though it's taking place throughout the year," said Phoenix thoughtfully, "seeing as though Mrs. Weasley said something's happening around Christmas."

"Could be some sort of special Quidditch Cup," said George, "to go along with the year of the World Cup maybe."

"Whatever it is, I hope that it doesn't get in the way of our lessons," said Phoenix as Fred and George rolled their eyes, "What?"

"Honestly Phoenix," said Fred exasperatedly.

"It is the beginning of our N.E.W.T.s, " she said defensively as the door to their compartment slid open to reveal Lee Jordan, one of their closest friends, came in, carrying his trunk. Lee was a dark skinned boy with black hair and dreadlocks and also a self-proclaimed ladies' man. Lee Jordan fancied almost every girl in Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, not really any Slytherins, though he did once say that Laurentia Ackland, a seventh year Slytherin, had a perfect backside, which then proceeded him being in the Hospital Wing for several days due to the fact that he had grown antlers.

He just simply loved woman. All shapes and sizes and that was why Phoenix thought that Lee was simply a delightful character. She recalled on one of their very first visits to the village of Hogsmeade, Lee had shouted loudly about how a witch had her breasts on full display over her corset and rated them in a loud voice out of ten. Lee was a most charming and… plausible person.

"Alright," he greeted the compartment, placing his trunk in the overhead compartment and then sat down beside Fred and put his feet up on Phoenix's lap, who quickly brushed his feet off with a smile. "You were right Fred, she's turned feisty."

Phoenix scoffed, "I'm not feisty." She pouted, looking from George and then at Fred, "when have I ever been feisty?"

"Yeah Fred, Phoenix is like the sweetest person in world," said George.

"Of course George would say that," Fred whispered audibly to Lee. George shot his brother a warning look, which Phoenix missed. "I was joking Nix, you are too sweet for your own good, but I would hate to be on the receiving end of one of your jinxes."

"How were your summers?" Lee asked.

"It was good," said Fred, "played Quidditch mostly, we went to the World Cup. We were in the Top Box and we could see it all up close."

"I was on holiday then, admiring the women, you know," he said dreamily and Phoenix snorted at the glazed expression on his face, "my dad went to the World Cup though," he continued, "he told us what happened, it sounded horrific."

"It was," said Phoenix, "the Death Eaters were just levitating some Muggles in the air for fun. It was disgusting." She shuddered slightly, her hair turning a lilac colour. "But other than that, mine was ok," she continued, "My cousin taught me how to skateboard– " All three of the boys looked at Phoenix confused, so she added, "You like ride on a board, it's a Muggle thing, but anyway my step-cousin Tonks taught me some cool things too."

"Like what?" said Fred.

"Yeah Pixy, you didn't tell us that," said George.

"Well I didn't want to make you too jealous of what I can do," said Phoenix. It was true Phoenix's step-cousin, Nymphadora Tonks who went by the nickname Tonks, had been round Lavender Cottage along with her step-aunt, Andromeda, and step-uncle, Ted. Tonks was a few years older than Phoenix and was more used to her Metamorphmagus gift than Phoenix was.

"What can you do then?" Lee asked.

"It's really embarrassing," said Phoenix, her hair turning a deep red, "but whatever." Phoenix scrunched her face and her eyes, looking immensely concentrated as she shook her head as her nose and mouth resembled a duck's nose and mouth. The twins and Lee immediately burst into laughter and began rolling about in their seats. Phoenix blushed as her nose and mouth returned to its usual shape, she too joined in the laughter.

"That's not embarrassing!" George said through his laughter. "It's hilarious! I would sell my limbs to do that!"

Fred stopped laughing and looked at Phoenix thoughtfully, "That could be useful."

"What do you mean?" Phoenix questioned, confused, still laughing.

Fred looked at Phoenix exasperatedly, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, "When we sneak out at night. You could just make yourself look like Malfoy or something to get him into trouble."

"Yeah," Phoenix laughed, "it will be even funnier when the teachers see Draco Malfoy in girls' clothes."

The rain splattered down on the windows even heavier as the Hogwarts Express moved farther north. The lanterns along the train were lit by midday as the sky outside was so dark and the windows were steamy. Phoenix traced several drawings of flowers and smiley faces on the window before Fred and Lee rubbed them off, crackling madly.

"You guys are so mean!" She exclaimed as they rubbed off her drawing of a tree. She slumped back in her seat and crossed her arms childishly and leaned into George's shoulder, glaring at Fred and Lee. George put his arm around her and both Fred and Lee wiggled their eyebrows at George, who glared at the pair of them.

At lunch time, the lunch trolley came rattling along, and Phoenix bought a packet of Liquorice Wands, Cauldron Cakes, and a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans to share with George as Fred and Lee bought some Pumpkin Pasties to share.

She and George soon began their usual sharing of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. They both had to pick a bean and then eat it, and then they both had to say what flavour they had, it sounded boring but once George had a bogey-flavoured one once so it was hardly boring.

"I got marshmallow flavour," said Phoenix happily.

"I got dirty sock flavour," said George disguisedly.

"You have the worst luck at this," Phoenix laughed as she and George took another bean each, "GO!" At the same time, they both put the beans into their mouths and chewed.

"I got bacon flavour," said George brightly.

"I got vomit flavour," Phoenix said, wrenching as she chewed.

"You got'a sallow it!" Said Lee and Phoenix wrenched again before swallowing the disgusting sweet.

They continued eating until the box was empty. Overall, and as usual, Phoenix had the nicest flavours, from cherry flavour to coconut flavour, but unfortunately George had dog food flavour to rotten egg flavour and he left to go to the bathroom to wash his teeth thoroughly as Lee kept calling him 'dog breath'.

"So my entire family has been dropping hints that something is going on at Hogwarts," said Fred.

"Really?" Lee asked, "What did they say?"

"They said a lot of thing really," said Phoenix, putting her feet up on Fred's lap, who didn't object, but instead grabbed her shoe and pulled it off her feet. "That whatever is going on is going to be really interesting and they have changed the rules to whatever it is."

"Maybe it's a Quidditch tournament with other schools or something," said Lee.

"That's what George said," said Phoenix as she began to wrestle with Fred over her shoe.

"And then Nix here said that whatever it is," said Fred, "doesn't get in the way of our lessons."

Lee snorted with laughter as George walked back into the compartment, looking slightly alarmed at the wrestling match that was taking place between Phoenix and Fred.

"Give it me back!" Phoenix yelled, grabbing hold of one of Fred's arms as he dangled her shoe over her head tauntingly.

"No!" Fred said gleefully, "you know Phoenix, these shoes look tiny. Did you buy these from the kids section?"

"What on earth?" said George, sitting back down in his feet as Fred had managed to grasp both of Phoenix's small wrists with one of his large hands and with the other and began hitting her shoe on top of her head.

"Fred!" She moaned, pulling back her arms from Fred with surprising force, catching Fred by complete surprise as she managed to yank the shoe from his grasp and hit him with it, hard on the top of his head. She stuck her tongue out childishly at him as she returned to her seat and Fred returned a cheery wave and a wink.

"Has your dog breath gone, dog breath?" Lee said and George kicked him in response.

"Yeah it has in fact."

"You know," said Fred thoughtfully, looking over at Phoenix who was tying back up the laces on her shoes, "for such a small girl, you have surprising strength. If you weren't so cute and innocent I would have found you positively terrifying."

She glanced up at Fred and gave him a small smile as she straightened herself up in her seat, "Never underestimate a girl Fred Weasley." She said.

George smiled. "Bless," he said, "Fred, I saw Angelina back there with Alicia and Katie."

Fred looked around at his brother, trying not to look interested. But everyone in the compartment knew about Fred's small crush on her.

"Yeah?" Fred said, casually, "how – er – is she?"

George smirked and shared a knowing look with Phoenix as the Hogwarts Express rattled on as thunder rumbled overhead. Phoenix sat up on her knees in her seat to stare out of the window, rain lashed down and lighting flashed across the sky.

"I'm going to get dressed and say hi to Angelina and the others," said Phoenix as she grabbed her bundle of school robes from her trunk. She pulled opened the compartment door and then turned round to look at Fred, "I'll tell her you said hey." Phoenix ducked just in time to miss the Fred's shoe that he had just aimed at her. She grabbed his shoe too for good measure.

"Phoenix!"

Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet and Katie Bell all were smiling widely at Phoenix as she entered their compartment, dressed in her school robes and holding her clothes in her hands. Angelina and Alicia were Chasers on the Gryffindor Quidditch team along with Phoenix. Angelina was a tall, dark skinned girl with brown eyes and long black hair, Alicia was also tall, with blonde hair that was plaited and green eyes. Katie was a year younger, but she was a reserve Chaser on the Quidditch Team and was a close friend to Angelina, Alicia and Phoenix. Katie was smaller than both Angelina and Alicia and had short brown hair and amber eyes. They too had dressed into their school robes.

"Hey," Phoenix greeted, "George said that he saw you guys."

"Yeah, he said just come back from brushing his teeth," said Alicia who looked confused at this statement.

"He had a dog food flavoured Bertie Bott's," Phoenix said, "Lee kept calling him dog breath."

Angelina laughed and soon Alicia, Katie and Phoenix had joined in. Phoenix loved having Fred and George as her best friends, but she did need some time to spend with her fellow female friends to keep her sane and to leave Fred and George to their own devices, which was often when they were their most reckless.

Phoenix sat down beside Angelina, running her fingers through her hair that had turned candyfloss pink.

"You'll never guess what Katie just told us," said Angelina.

"Oh no please don't embarrass me!" Katie squealed, covering her face with her hands.

"Katie," Angelina said in a mock hurt voice, "we would neverever in our wildest dreams think of embarrassing you," she shook her head dramatically before turning to Phoenix and smiling widely, "but she's been talking to Oliver over the summer and she fancies him."

"Aw! Katie!"

"Shut up Phoenix," Katie said, her cheeks very red. "I wrote to him over the summer saying congratulations on him joining Puddlemere United as a reserve player and we just… kept writing to each other."

"Lucky girl Katie," Alicia said, nudging her, "Oliver is gorgeous."

"Every Quidditch session we had, Alicia, Phoenix, and I would always check him out," said Angelina and Katie snorted.

"Yeah," Phoenix smirked, "he's a keeper."

The entire compartment burst into laughter at Phoenix's remark. Katie blushed once again and buried her face into her hands.

"Fred said hi by the way Angelina," Phoenix said grinning as she handed Angelina Fred's shoe. Unbeknown to Fred, Angelina had a crush on him and unbeknown to her, Fred fancied her back. Being both of their best friends, Phoenix kept this a secret.

"What on earth?" Angelina said, bemused.

"It's Fred's shoe," Phoenix replied innocently, "it's a symbol of your love togeth–" Before she could finish her sentence however, Angelina had whacked her arm, hard, with Fred's shoe.

"Just tell him that I said hi back," Angelina said, trying her very best not to laugh so that the corners of her mouth twitched one or two times as she placed down the shoe.

Phoenix laughed and crossed her arms over her chest. "Honestly, I'm not an owl," she said, "you go and say hi to him and give his shoe back."

"Yeah Angelina," Katie encouraged.

"Go to Fred and say hi," Alicia jeered, poking Angelina's side.

"And then snog his face off." Phoenix said simply and both Alicia and Katie burst into laughter.

"Whose face is being snogged off?"

The girls began to laugh even harder as Fred, George and Lee appeared in the door to the compartment, all dressed in their school robes.

"Yeah Angelina," said Phoenix, nudging her, "whose being snogged?"

Angelina shot daggers at Phoenix. "Nobody," she said, "Phoenix was just being her usual silly self and saying that er–"

"That Katie should send an owl to Oliver and they can meet up in Hogsmeade so she can snog his face off," said Phoenix, very quickly, covering for Angelina, who sent her a look of gratitude.

"Hey!" Katie said, blushing.

"Oh come off it Katie," said Phoenix, "we all know you and Oliver love each other." Phoenix sang happily.

"Really?" said Fred, suddenly interested in this new piece of gossip.

Katie blushed, "Yes," she said quietly, "I told the girls that Oliver and I have kept in contact over and maybe I like talking to him."

Phoenix and Angelina both coughed madly, sounding much more like the words 'Oliver' and 'snogging' than actual coughs.

"There's my shoe!"

The train began to slow down and Phoenix returned to her compartment with Fred, who had his shoe returned to him by Angelina, George, and Lee to put her clothes into her trunk. She also let Silvano out of his cage so that he could stretch his wings and fly to the Owlery at Hogwarts.

The train doors opened and instantly a rumble of thunder could be heard. Phoenix left the train alongside Fred, George, and Lee. The rain was falling harder and harder, they had to bend their heads and narrow their eyes so they could leave the platform and follow the rest of the crowd to where hundreds of seemingly horseless carriages that stood in lines waiting for them outside Hogsmeade station. Phoenix, Fred, George, and Lee all climbed quickly into one of the carriages. The door shut immediately, and moments later the carriage began to move, splashing against the muddy path as they lead the way to Hogwarts Castle.

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