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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27. The Second Task

That fact that Fred Weasley knew of Phoenix's crush on his twin brother had unnerved her greatly. Though Fred had reassured her that he was not one to break a pinky promise she could not help but be nervous. After all, Fred and George did talk about everything. Maybe she and Fred should have made the Unbreakable Vow instead!

"I haven't seen Harry yet," Angelina said with a frown as she peered down the excitable Gryffindor table. "He's going to be doing the task with an empty stomach!"

"I was talking to Dean and Seamus this morning and apparently he didn't return to his dormitory last night," Lee said as he tied a Gryffindor scarf around his neck.

Yet again, they were all wearing the Gryffindor colours in support of Harry for the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament. Fred, George, and Lee had decided on not drawing lions on their face like they had for the first task but instead had drawn a scar on their forehead and scribed 'Harry' on one cheek and 'Potter' on the other. Phoenix's hair was of course a ruby-red with several golden highlights faded in and Angelina and Alicia had made a red banner that read: HARRY POTTER, HOGWARTS CHAMPION!

"He'll be fine," said George with a wide smile, "probably snuck into the library for a bit of late night research on turning into a frog."

Both Fred and Phoenix laughed but before the others could question them about why Harry would want to turn into a frog, Professor McGonagall called the Gryffindors forward, to begin to head to the stands.

The grounds were still rather slippery from the rain that had poured over the last few days. Phoenix could make out through the heads of students what looked like the small boats that were used to carry first years across the lake before their sorting. The boats had appeared to be enchanted to fit more than ten people in one boat. Phoenix, along with, Fred, George, Angelina, Alicia, Lee, Ginny, Dean, Seamus, and Neville all climbed into a boat and it set off almost immediately, swaying as the water lapped at the swallows.

"Wow!" Fred exclaimed as he saw, along with everyone else in the boat, the high stands that stood, either built or simply floating on the water's surface, well over thirty feet in the air. "Really outdone themselves haven't they?"

Phoenix felt as sick as she had at the World Cup as they reached the high benches of the stands. She clung to the rails and peered over the edge.

"On second thoughts," she winced as she tore her eyes away to grin at Fred and George. "Perhaps I am scared of heights."

It was lucky perhaps that Lee had brought his father's binoculars or Phoenix would not be able to see what was happening at the golden-draped judges table that stood at the water's edge. She could Cedric, looking cold but staring as determinedly at the water as he had at his dragon. Fleur was looking rather pale and frantic, not much unlike her usual sophisticatedly beautiful self. Krum had his usual gloomy persona, his shoulders slumped and glowering at the waters dancing ripples. But still, there was no sign of Harry.

"Where is he?" Alicia said as she leaned over the side of the stands, as though expecting for Harry to make a grand entrance by jumping out of the water. "It's almost nine!"

Phoenix frowned and handed the binocular's to an eager looking George.

"What happens if he doesn't show up?" she asked Angelina who was biting her lip.

"I imagine they would just start the task without him," Angelina mused as Fred's arm draped over her shoulder. "Karkaroff probably wouldn't mind."

"Karkaroff does look awfully chuffed," George observed, the binoculars pressed over his eyes. "Bagman looks like he's going to cry!" he laughed before adjusting the binoculars once again. "And… It's… Percy! What the bloody hell is Percy doing here?!"

"Isn't Mr. Crouch there?" Phoenix asked, moving closer to George so that she could chance a quick look. "It's a bit odd that Mr. Crouch is barely here for a Tournament he spent so much time in preparing."

"Percy says he's really ill," George informed her, twirling the dial on Lee's binoculars. "It's understandable when you think about the amount of work and pressure the Tournament probably brought upon him – Wait! Harry's here!"

The Gryffindors in the stands all let out loud roars, Angelina and Alicia hoisted their red and gold banner in the air, Fred shot a few brilliant gold sparks into the air to let out his feelings.

"Well, all our champions are ready for the second task, which will start on my whistle. They have precisely an hour to recover what has been taken from them. On the count of three, then. One… two… three!"

Phoenix's hands were sore as she clapped enthusiastically for Harry who had seemed to shove something in his mouth before he waded his way into the water. The other champions had already thrown themselves into the Black Lake, Krum had looked as though he had transfigured his head into something while Harry simply stood there, waist deep in the water and looking as though he was freezing to death.

The Slytherins and a few of the Durmstrang students had begun to laugh at him, which caused Fred, George, and Lee to all make offensive hand gestures at them.

"What is he doing?" Phoenix asked, pressing the Lee's binoculars over her eyes to focus on Harry who was as frozen as a statue.

But quite suddenly, Harry lunged himself into the water to a thunderous applause from the Gryffindors that seemed to shake the very stands. Phoenix had almost dropped the binoculars into the lake below, but thankfully Fred had caught it before it slipped from her hands.

Then, there was silence. It seemed that all at once, all the stands occupants had realised that there was no means of seeing what was happening from the below the water. The loud applause and cheers had stopped and people were peering down at the water, hoping to see a glimpse of what the champions were doing.

"We really have to sit here for an hour?" George look disgruntled while he stretched his legs so that his feet were resting upon the cool railing. "This is going to be fun."

It was not fun in the slightest. Fred and George had managed to devour their way through the box of chocolate frogs that Lee had gotten for his birthday two weeks before. It was starting to get rather chilly so George had given Phoenix his jacket – which made her blush deeply and Fred cast a smirk in their direction. Her hands absently buried themselves in the pockets and felt several sweet wrappers in them. She frowned at George.

"Do you ever clean out your pockets?" she asked him, dumping handfuls of colourful  wrappers into his hands.

"Why should I clean them out?" he smiled widely, stuffing them into his jean pockets instead. "It's not like I have any snotty tissues in there."

Phoenix grimaced and pulled out a crumpled tissue from his pocket and throwing it into his face, "This tissue doesn't really back up your statement."

He winked at her before peering over the edge of the stands to stare down at the dark water. "What do you think they took from the champions?"

"Dunno," Phoenix shrugged, watching George continuing to stare out over the lake, "They may have taken Harry's Firebolt or something." She gave another cold shudder; even with George's jacket hung around her shoulders she could still feel the bitter cold air.

"You're not still cold are you?" George asked her incredulously, noticing the pale coldness of her hair.

"We are a little high up," Phoenix replied, digging her hands into George's jacket pockets to keep them warm. "And it is February. It's always freezing in Februr –"

The sound of cheers and boos silenced her and she gasped as she saw Fleur Delacour, emerging from the water, sobbing uncontrollably as she clutched what looked like her arm, soaked in crimson blood.

"Oh gosh! Is she okay?" Phoenix asked frantically, watching as Madam Maxime and Madam Pomfrey raced towards the distressed French girl.

"Miss Delacour," came Ludo Bagman's magically magnified voice – both Fred and George scowled. "Was forced retire after being attacked by grindylows and she failed to retrieve her hostage. Half an hour is remaining of Krum, Diggory, and Potter!"

"Hostage!" Phoenix shrieked. "B-But that sounds like it's people who are down there!"

"They wouldn't do that," Fred reassured her, though laughing rather uncertainly. "Would they?" he added, looking over at his twin.

"You never know," George mused, wincing slightly as Phoenix gripped his arm tightly. "There are spells that would protect people underwater for long period of time."

Fred and Phoenix both raised their eyebrows, smirks curling their lips.

"Oh hark at you Georgie," Fred laughing, punching his brother's arm as Phoenix punched his other.

Unlike the first task, this task was rather boring. The first task had been action-packed but this task involved a lot of sitting around and waiting. Phoenix supposed that under the water it was a completely different story. She had however spotted the giant squid on several occasions and George swore on his life that he had seen a grindylow poking its head out of the water.

"That was not a grindylow!" Phoenix argued, the binoculars were once again pressed over her eyes as she focused on where George was pointing frantically – the champions hour over was up but Harry, Cedric, and Krum were still yet to return. "George you really need to get your eyes tested because that's not… It's Cedric!"

Cedric Diggory's head broke the surface of the icy water. Cheers, screams and shouts erupted all around them as Cedric swam towards the judges table, coughing and spluttering, and under his arm was…

"Cho?!" Alicia shrieked. "What was she doing in the lake?"

"She was what was taken from Diggory for the task!" Angelina shouted over Bagman's voice, who was telling the crowd all about Cedric's excellent use of the Bubble-Head Charm.

"So they are using people as the thing that was taken from the champions!" Phoenix gasped, looking nervously down the row of the stands. "Oh my bloody –"

Then suddenly, there were more screams as another head broke the surface of the lake. Girls screamed – Phoenix, Angelina, and Alicia included – as the head of a shark came into view.

"Is that a shark?!" Lee yelled, who looked both alarmed and rather fearful.

"It's Krum!" Fred bellowed.

"Who's his hostage?" asked Alicia.

"It's… It's Hermione!"

Phoenix's face paled as she watched Krum, whose face had now transformed back to his normal appearance, carrying a coughing Hermione from the water.

"That lucky girl!" Angelina giggled despite herself.

"Did you hear that Fred?" chuckled Lee. "Your girlfriend is giggling about other boys!"

Fred's face was pale; he looked as alarmed as Lee had when he thought that sharks inhabited the Black Lake.

"I'm sorry Fred," Angelina smiled, wrapping an arm around his hip. "But it is Viktor Krum I'm sure you–"

"I'm not worried about Krum," said Fred, shaking his head frantically. "I'm worried about Ron."

Angelina frowned, "Ron isn't really my type Fred. You don't have to worry about him."

But Phoenix had just realised what Fred was talking about, and seemingly George had too, because they both gave loud gasps of sudden dawning realisation.

"Ron and Hermione are in the lake!" Phoenix shrieked, her hand gripping George's.

"And that's why McGonagall wanted Ron and Hermione last night!" said George, gripping her hand back in return.

"Are you two worried about your ickle brother?" Lee teased, sending both Fred and George a wink.

But Phoenix understood exactly why Fred and George were worried about Ron. In their fourth year, when Muggle-borns were being petrified and there were whispers of the Chamber of Secrets being opened once again, their sister Ginny had been taken into the chamber itself. Phoenix had never seen the twins so upset. She had spent most of her night, not trying to cheer them up, but being there for them as the three of them sat in the longest of silences that they had ever experienced. The morning that followed was a relief as Ginny had been saved by Harry and Ron, though admittedly she was rather shaken, she was still very much alive. The mere thought of losing their little sister, the one they had loved so dearly beneath the constant teasing and pranking, the thought of losing Ginny, destroyed them. Even if they knew that Dumbledore would never even dream of putting one of his students in danger, the memory of very nearly losing one of their siblings hung in the air above them.

"He'll be fine," Phoenix whispered to both Fred and George, giving them a reassuring smile. "Dumbledore wouldn't put him in danger."

"We know," Fred grimaced, "But it's just…"

"I know," she replied, patting Fred's arm and giving George's a squeeze.

The minutes seemed to drag by and yet Harry Potter and Ron Weasley had not reached the surface. Phoenix had heard Fleur crying as hard as she had when coming out of the water. She was screaming in French, her voice full of anguish making Phoenix's stomach give a twinge – she had failed to retrieve her hostage.

Phoenix could practically feel George's nerves that seemed to radiate from him, his legs were constantly moving and Phoenix kept hearing him crack his knuckles, which made her cringe every time he did so.

"George, stop it," she said finally, putting her small hand over his to stop him from doing it again.

"I'm sorry," he grinned, "I know you hate that noise."

"It's okay. Just relax. Ron's going to be perfectly fi–"

For the fifth time that morning screams exploded from all over and around the stands. Fred and George had immediately got to their feet, shouting their support for Harry Potter as he emerged with not only Ron Weasley, but a small slivery haired girl who could only be Fleur Delacour's sister.

"Is that… are those merpeople?!" George asked, pointing towards the edge of the lake. A crowd, half-submerged in the water surrounded the lake's edge. Phoenix realised almost immediately that they were in fact merpeople. Through the binoculars she saw that the merpeople were definitely as 'less beautiful' as Newt Scamander has described. They appeared to be half-human, half-fish hybrids. Their skin was an ugly, sickly grey colour, their hair a dark forest green and their eyes were yellow.

"Not very good-looking are they?" said Lee, squinting his eyes and frowning deeply.

Phoenix could just hear, over the loud talking, the sounds of the merpeople. It was the same horrible shrieking noise the egg Harry had collected from the first task. She focused back to the merpeople to see that one of them was conversing with Dumbledore, who was speaking back to the merperson; she suspected they were talking in Mermish and winced. The sound was horrible.

Seconds later, Dumbledore stood up and the judges immediately went into a huddle, no doubt talking about the points that should be given.

"Harry was well outside the time limit," said Fred, looking rather put-out, "Pretty boy Diggory probably going to take first place."

Phoenix and Angelina both rolled their eyes as Ludo Bagman's voice boomed magically around the stands, making the crowd go suddenly very quiet.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our decision. Merchieftainess Murcus has told us exactly what happened at the bottom of the lake, and we have therefore decided to award marks out of fifty for each of the champions, as follows…

"Fleur Delacour, though she demonstrated excellent use of the Bubble-Head Charm, was attacked by grindylows as she approached her goal, and failed to retrieve her hostage. We award her twenty-five points."

There was an appreciative applause from the stands and several murmurings from the Beauxbatons students.

"Cedric Diggory, who also used the Bubble-Head Charm, was first to return with his hostage, though he returned one minute outside the time limit of an hour." The Hufflepuffs were screaming and cheering as loud as they had during the first task. Phoenix actually had to put her hands over her ears to help block the sound of cheers and screaming. "We therefore award him forty-seven points."

"Viktor Krum used an incomplete form of Transfiguration, which was nevertheless effective, and was second to return with his hostage. We award him forty points."

Phoenix could not see Karkaroff's face but she could just imagine the look of superiority upon it.

"Harry Potter used gillyweed to great effect. He returned last and well outside the time limit of an hour. However, the Merchieftainess informs us that Mr. Potter was first to reach the hostages, and that the delay in his return was due to his determination to return all hostages to safety, not merely his own."

"Harry the bloody superhero," muttered Phoenix, though she was smiling slightly.

"Most of the judges, feel that this shows moral fiber and merits full marks. However… Mr. Potter's score is forty-five points."

"YES!" George roared, his fist punching the air in triumphant.

The Gryffindors were beside themselves. Harry was now tied for first place with Cedric.

"The third and final task will take place at dusk on the twenty-fourth of June. The champions will be notified of what is coming precisely one month beforehand. Thank you all for your support of the champions."

 

"Well done 'moral fibre'," beamed George, slapping Harry on the back as the fourth year entered the common room through the portrait hole alongside Ron and Hermione.

Harry simply beamed. He looked altogether relieved that the task was over and joined in the celebration party that Fred and George had thrown, similar to the one that had been thrown for the first task. Though this time there were no drawings of Cedric with his head on fire.

A goblet full of Butterbeer was clutched in Phoenix's hands as she and Angelina sat on the bottom most step to the girl's dormitories. There were hardly any seats left in the common room due to the mass of people inside though they did not mind being away from the party, after all they were having a rather private discussion.

"I didn't tell Fred anything I swear!" Angelina said indigently. "He simply asked me if you like anyone. I said no but he wouldn't take that for an answer. He kept asking and asking all these different people and then he said George and I just… He just… knows when I'm lying!"

"It's alright I suppose," Phoenix mumbled, stirring her drink with a straw absently. "Not really comfortable with the fact that George's twin brother knows that I fancy him. But at the same time… at least Lee doesn't know."

Angelina laughed; looking rather reassured that Phoenix was not the least bit mad at her. "Seriously though, I never told Fred anything."

"I believe you Ange. It's fine anyhow, Fred made a pinky promise so he'll be taking that secret to the grave."

"What are you two gossiping about?"

"Speaking of the devil," Angelina's face lit up slightly as Fred bent down to kiss her swiftly on the lips.

"I wouldn't sit down if I was you, Fred," Phoenix advised as Fred made to sit beside his girlfriend. "Unless of course you wish for the staircase to turn into a helter-skelter, then be my guest."

Fred frowned, though he didn't make another move to go and sit down. "What's a helter-skelter?"

"Muggle thing," she shook her head and took a swig of her Butterbeer, "Doesn't matter."

"So," Fred began, sitting with his back against the wall and peering between the two friends interestedly, "what were you two gossiping about?"

"Talk a wild guess," Phoenix replied, fixing Fred with a significant look. "I'm sure you'll get it right."

"Does this have anything to do with my twin brother, who is not as good-looking as myself, the one that you have recently taken a fancy to?"

Phoenix blushed, turning her head to look back into the Gryffindor common room where she could see Lee dancing along to the wireless that was blasting music. "You are both identical twins. You're both as good-looking as the other."

"Oh come off it Nix," said Fred with a roll of his eyes, "you obviously think George is better looking than me."

"Well uhm…"

"That's a yes! And by the way thank you for insulting me."

Phoenix smiled and kicked his foot with her own, "anytime Fred."

She left both Fred and Angelina shortly after. Fred had stared at Angelina all throughout their conversation and Phoenix knew that was a sign for her to leave so that they could snog in private (until one of the first years decided to go to bed anyway). She found Lee easily, still dancing in the middle of the room, his hands waving above his head and his dreadlocks flying about madly.

"'Sup Nix!" he shouted, slinging his arm over her shoulder and beaming widely. She wrinkled her nose slightly; Lee was reminding Phoenix horribly of the group of overly happy teenager that hung around the park in Little Hartburgh that sometimes tried to convince her into trying the drugs they smoked. Though Phoenix thought Lee's high was mostly coming from the Cheering Charm that Alicia had blasted him with.

"You need to sit down," Phoenix advised, pushing Lee's waist so that he moved forward towards an empty seat and throwing him on the chair. "Blimey Lee, you really need to calm down."

The reason that Alicia had felt the need to cast a Cheering Charm on Lee was because Ava and him had seemed to broken up or at least stopped snogging. He wasn't too upset about it, though he did look a little put out during the start of the party.

"We're the single ones kid!" Lee grinned, poking Phoenix's shoulder with a wide smile upon his lips. "You, me, George… we could be the three musketeers! Or perhaps the three singleteers!"

"Imaginative," Phoenix smiled slightly, sitting down in the chair beside him. She was rather surprised that Lee even knew who the three musketeers were. Perhaps he listened to her telling them Muggle stories that she grew up with.

"I'll tell George! George! Oh Georgie!"

George turned around a few feet away from them; he had been talking animatedly to Katie and Alicia, no doubt about the Everlasting Eyelashes. He smiled and waved at them before saying a quick goodbye to Alicia and Katie and striding towards where Phoenix and Lee sat.

"Great party isn't it?" George asked. "Didn't manage to get as much food but… oh well."

"I was just saying that you, me, and little Nix here are all single!" Lee explained, using his arm to pull her into a sort of headlock. "We're the three musketeers. Or the three singleteers as I now like to call it."

"The three muskete – what?"

"It's a Muggle novel written by Alexandre Dumas. There are a lot of television shows and films about it." Phoenix informed him.

"You'll have to show me one day," said George with a wiry smile.

"Ooo can I come?" Lee asked excitedly. "After all the three singleteers must stick together! One for all and all for one!" Lee cheered, his goblet rising into the air.

"It's all for one, one for all," Phoenix corrected him in a sing-song voice, brandishing an imaginary sword in the air.

"Muggle films sound fun!" Lee beamed, "why don't wizards make them?"

"Because they would have to use Muggle equipment that Muggles have to go through years of training and praticse to use," Phoenix informed him. "And well… electricity and magic don't really get on, do they?"

But Lee wasn't listening; Ava had just walked past with Arista.

"Poor lad," George said as Lee drifted away in the opposite direction, no longer looking very cheerful. "They say you never forget your first heartbreak."

Phoenix made a face as her eyes followed Lee who was now talking to Katie Bell; though she was now so smitten with Oliver Wood (whom she had written to since the summer) she was now slowly backing away from Lee's attempt to woo her. "He's not exactly heartbroken… just misses being snogged."

"Speaking of snogging," George began, making Phoenix blush and look away. "Myself and Fred finally finished and perfected our first love potion – Kissing Concoction!"

"Oh," Phoenix, now reassured that her face was not bright red, turned to look at George's grinning face. "What does that do?"

"Well it makes the drinker really want to kiss you," George explained.

Phoenix eyed the Butterbeer in her hands that Fred had given her and placed it down on the table.

"Don't worry we didn't test it on you," George's smile did not reassure her so he added; "we tested it on Angelina."

"Did she know?"

"Of course not! She'd kill us."

Phoenix frowned at George, "not really a fair test if you tested it on Fred's girlfriend. Angelina probably wants to kiss Fred all the time, how do you know that it was the potion?"

"So can we test it on you then?"

Once again, she blushed. Not wanting to give her embarrassment away, she stared down at her Butterbeer and chewed the inside of her mouth. She was trying not to think about what kissing George Weasley would feel like because she could almost feel her hair turning magenta. But the scenarios could not stop playing inside her head – his calloused palms cupping her face as his lips moved against hers – she could feel her face burning madly.

"I am not testing your love potions under any circumstances," she told him finally, trying her very best not to smile to show that she was serious – even though she was not.

"Not even if I was on my death-bed and drinking our Kissing Concoction would be the only thing to save me?"

She narrowed her eyes at George, "Are you referring to Sleeping Beauty?"

"I take it that's a Muggle reference?" George smiled, tilting his head to the side and smiling at her.

"Yeah-huh," she replied distractedly. "It's a fairy tale. You know, sort of like the Tales of Beedle the Bard."

"I'm surprised that you know about them."

"Cecilia read them to me. My father read Muggle fairy tales while Cecilia read wizarding ones. I had the best of both worlds really."

"What is Sleeping Beauty about?" George looked eager and rested his chin on the palm of his hand, staring unblinkingly at her.

She couldn't help but smile at his eagerness. "It's a long story George…"

"I got time. But you can tell me in my dormitory! It's getting a bit loud."

In truth, it was indeed getting a little loud and she couldn't deny time for being alone with George. For that was her favourite way to spend her time. Though she still was rather hesitant at the thought of the Kissing Concoction that was undoubtedly residing in Fred and George's dormitory.

George seemed to sense this hesitation because he said, "Don't worry… Fred's kept the Kissing Concoction all locked up, I won't make you take any."

She smiled before standing up and following George up the stairs to the boy's dormitories.

 

"…and then Phillip brandishes the Sword of Truth and slays Maleficent with one swipe. And so evil is finally dead and Phillip goes up to the tower to where Aurora lies on her bed. He slowly walks towards her sleeping figure and gives plants a faint kiss upon to lips. She awakens, sees her prince and smiles."

"What about everyone else in the kingdom? Do they awaken?"

"Of course," Phoenix smiled, leaning back against the head-board of George's bed while he sat opposite her. "They descend from the tower, arm in arm. And they kneel before the throne and Aurora' s mother immediately embraced her. And they all lived happily ever after."

"Sounds sort of sappy to me," George said finally.

"It's supposed to be sappy. It's a fairy tale, George," she nudged his feet gently with her own before staring up at the glow in the dark stars that had been stuck to the ceiling of his four-poster bed. "Especially ones about princesses, they are all about finding Prince Charming."

"Are there any ones that aren't about princesses? Princesses do not fit my manly image," he puffed out his chest impressively as flashing Phoenix a toothy grin that reminded her strongly of Gilderoy Lockhart.

"There are a few. There's Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland…"

He nodded and they sat in silence for a few moments, both of them glancing up at the stars on George's ceiling.

George was the one to break the silence. It appeared he had chewed on his next words because he stared at her, rather uncertainly and asked, "Are you worried about seeing your father on Saturday?"

The impending meeting with her father was something she was not looking forward to. Unlike the meeting with Dumbledore and Healer Loyalar and Healer Chorster, the meeting with her father would be taking place at Lavender Cottage – since the anti-Muggle wards around Hogwarts would prevent her father from even catching a glimpse of the castle.

"Of course I'm worried," she told him. "He's going to blow a casket. At least Dumbledore will be there to talk him down if he…" she paused to look at George who was staring so intently at her she struggled to string together her next works, "…decides on any actions to take –" she suddenly stopped. As she had leaned against his pillow, she had felt something hard against her spine. It seemed to be from the inside of his pillow and dug into her uncomfortably. She shifted and grabbed the pillow and pulling from its case a book.

George's face instantly paled.

"Why do you have a book in your pillowcase?" she asked, turning it over to read its title. George had lunged towards her to grab it from her grasp but it was too late. She burst out laughing.

"Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches?" she giggled, rolling off the bed so George could not reach her as she skimmed through the books pages. "'Always be impressed by her magic. The way to a witches heart is through her magic'… why on earth does George Weasley need a book on how to charm a bird?" Phoenix didn't know whether to find this all hilarious or if she should be jealous.

George made a grab for the book but Phoenix jumped out of the way, making George groan loudly. "Please Phoenix; Fred gave it to me for Christmas. I thought I'd read it…"

"Please don't tell me you have the other book… Ten Fail-Safe Ways to Seduce Witches. because I read Edmund's copy once and it was ridicu– George!"

George had managed to grab the book and tried to prise it from her. Phoenix put up a good fight, using all of her upper body strength to keep the book in her possession but George, being one of best Beaters at Hogwarts, pulled the book forcibly away from her. She almost toppled over but George's arm caught her just in time.

"Fred has that book," George told her, inclining his head towards Fred's empty bed. "And what makes you think it's ridiculous?"

"Come on… you can't think that chocolate covered strawberries is a successful way to seduce a woman," Phoenix smiled, crossing her arms and leaning against a bed post of one of the four-poster beds.

"I think that chocolate covered strawberries would seduce any woman," George smirked, throwing Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches over his shoulder so that it landed on his bed. "Are you saying that about every woman or just you?"

She blushed. She wasn't going to admit to George that chocolate covered strawberries were definitely something she liked and would be an excellent seduction technique.

"Is Fred trying to seduce Angelina?" she enquired as a way to avoid his question. "Is he getting bored with snogging her in broom cupboards?"

"Perhaps," said George.

"Is erm…" Phoenix inclined her head towards the questionable book on George's bed, "is that book helpful?" she asked, rather nervously and anxiously. What if he was 'charming' somebody?

"Yeah," George replied nonchalantly, shrugging his shoulders vaguely. "I mean it has taught me enough if I – erm – ever want to… ask someone out."

"That's good," Phoenix said, meeting George's eyes and shuddering slightly. "But there are things that books can't teach you, George."

"I beg to differ," she raised an eyebrow, telling him to elaborate. "That book is half of the reason Angelina and Fred are together."

"Is that why Fred gave it to you?" she asked George, taking seat on one of the boy's trunks. "Does he think that you're lonely or something and wants you to get a…" her stomach twisted at the thought, "…girlfriend?"

"Probably," George shrugged, looking not too concerned nor all that bothered. "I understand why he'd want me to because we're twins and from his perspective I may look lonely but I'm fine. I mean I have you… and Lee."

She smiled, taking George's hand and tugging it, "Come on lover boy. We still have a party to go to."

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