"And then I was fighting off about seven of those mer-idiots, without my wand mind you. All of them were carrying these great long spears, must've been at least fourteen inches–"
"Come off it, Ron," Fred snorted at his younger brother, a disbelieving look upon his face, "Hermione's already told us that Dumbledore had put you into a bewitched sleep in McGonagall's office."
Ron shot an angry glare at Hermione, who looked rather pleased with herself before burying her nose deeper into the book she had been reading. Fred and George were sitting by the fire, listening to Ron's account (or rather his made-up version of events) on what had happened during the Second Task while Phoenix was reading over Fred's Transfiguration essay.
"Let Ron have his moment," Phoenix said to Fred as Harry, Hermione, and Ron – who was muttering darkly under his breath – left the sixth years to their work.
Fred scowled slightly at her before kicking his feet up and onto the table in front of them.
"Still can't believe that Hermione is the thing that Viktor Krum would miss the most," Phoenix said with a small smile. "But she doesn't seem to be too interested with Viktor…"
"That's because she and Ron secretly like one another," George said with a laugh, "It's that secret that they don't even know about it."
It was Friday, the day before the meeting with Phoenix's father was due to take place. Fred and Phoenix were preparing for their Transfiguration lesson that next period while George was smugly levitating crumpled up paper balls to land on Fred's head. Phoenix's eyes may have been racing across Fred's essay, but her mind was elsewhere. Dumbledore had informed her that he had planned for her to come straight to his office straight after her Apparition lesson the next day so that they could take an authorised Portkey to Lavender Cottage.
"This essay is definitely better than the last," Phoenix told Fred with a smile as she handed him back his essay. "You used a pretty job example too… I didn't even think about the 1473 Quidditch World Cup incident with the polecat."
Fred smiled happily and stuffed his essay unceremoniously into his bag before thumping George on the arm, so to stop him from levitating another paper ball at him, "I am not looking forward to our last year… just imagine the homework we'll get," he said with a contorted expression on his face.
"Imagine the exams," George groaned, rubbing his hands over his face and looking rather put-out.
"Like you both care for exams," Phoenix exclaimed with a snort of laughter.
"You're completely right," Fred smiled, his tone becoming light and cheery almost immediately. "But McGonagall would have our heads if we didn't do our homework."
Before their Apparition lesson that Saturday, Phoenix decided that she would take the skateboard that Fred and George had made her for Christmas across the lawns. She was excited, to say the least, as she ran down the marble staircase and across the Entrance Hall, then through the oak front doors.
Smiling in a dreamy sort of way, Phoenix placed the skateboard down in front of her. George's hand drawn portrait of her smiled dolefully back at her, the hair turning a bright blue, as she put on foot upon the board, the other firmly on the ground. The one foot that was placed upon the ground pushed against the gravel and, immediately, Phoenix could feel the magical enchantments that the twins had placed upon the board. The ride was luxuriously smooth, even over the gravel path. It felt as though she was rather gliding upon the board, she felt feather light as she wove in and out of several rocks.
She really needed this ride, especially today. She needed to clear her head before the meeting that afternoon. She needed time to think and simply be alone, be with her own thoughts.
Skating over the lawns of Hogwarts School gave Phoenix time to relax, any thoughts of the impending meeting with her father were wiped out as she made an impressive turn, so to avoid riding straight into one of Greenhouses. The only thing that was on Phoenix's mind was the feeling she had the last time when she had been on a skateboard – the way George's arms had been wrapped around her waist.
"Having fun there Phoenix?"
Her foot skidded against the grass. She was sure, that if she had been riding on her old board she would have fell, head first, into a nearby tree. Waving joyfully at her from across the lawns, was Cedric.
"What are you doing wandering the grounds so early Diggory?" She asked with a smile as Cedric approached her.
"Sometimes you just need some time on your own," Cedric grinned, watching Phoenix as she jumped off her skateboard, "Sure you understand."
"Yeah," she smiled as she reached down to pick up the board, "I get what you mean. Trying not to think about the next task, eh?"
Cedric's grin turned into more of a grimace, "I just want it to be all over y'know? I sort of expected it to be difficult, but not this difficult,"
She gave the handsome Hufflepuff a pat on the back, "You'll be fine Cedric, you know I'm here to help if ever you need it. Now come on, we better get some breakfast before we have to face those bloody hoops again."
Apparition lessons that day went as well as they could have – apart from the third splinching that had taken place over the course of their lessons (though thankfully this time it was not Alicia). Phoenix had managed to Apparate into her hoop successfully several times, though every time she did so she promptly fell over.
"At least you can Apparate," said George as he and Fred walked her to Dumbledore's office for the dreaded meeting. "I would say that I'm beginning to get the hang of it. I mean, I understand what the three D's are and such but it's that bloody hoop!"
Phoenix was trying her very best to hide her anxiety. She was unconsciously fiddling with her fingers and twirling her hair to keep her hands occupied while her steps went as slow as they could to prolong the visit to Lavender Cottage.
"The hoop is rather aggravating," she agreed with a quick nod in George's direction.
"Don't worry about the meeting with Dumbledore, Nix," Fred told her, bumping her shoulder lightly with his own and grinning.
"It's not Dumbledore that I'm worried about," she muttered as they stopped, quite suddenly, in front of the large and ugly stone gargoyle that guarded the headmaster's office. She hadn't really registered how close they had been getting to their destination.
"Well," said Fred, with a cheerful smile, pushing Phoenix towards the gargoyle. "It's been a pleasure as always Miss Lancaster but we have places to go and people to see."
She glared harshly at Fred before her eyes slowly drifted towards George. He gave her an encouraging smile before she took a deep breath, then turned to face the ugly gargoyle and the forthcoming meeting with her father.
Dumbledore had arranged for a Portkey to arrive just on the outskirts of the village of Little Hartburgh so there was a rather lengthy walk before they would actually reach the cottage. The wind blew through the blooming blossoms and the air was warm, making Phoenix feel rather hot in her jeans and checkered shirt. Dumbledore, though being rather old, seemed to have the body of a young man. He strode ahead, asking with interest about the various shops in the area and about Phoenix's childhood in the village.
"Seems like a very friendly place to have grown up," said Dumbledore brightly as they walked briskly down the lane towards the cottage.
"Yes," Phoenix agreed with a small smile. "It is a very friendly town."
When they reached the gate to Lavender Cottage, Dumbledore waved his wand and it opened softly. Phoenix's eyes flickered across the front garden, where the old twelve foot trampoline stood, pieces of a rusty swing set and the slide that Will had broken were all cluttered around. It was so quiet. The silence made Phoenix's stomach turn nervously, her legs feeling as though they were made of lead as she crossed the garden path. Cecilia had appeared to have taken a more active role in her gardening, the rose bushes were looking much better than they had last year and several tulips were spurting out of the ground, as yellow as saffron.
Dumbledore knocked smartly upon the door while Phoenix's eyes were fixed determinedly at the laces of her shoes.
Tonk's voice made Phoenix's head look up so suddenly that her neck stung with pain. She winced as she stared at her step-cousin. Holy shite, was all that she could think as Phoenix followed her step-cousin and her headmaster into the cramped hallway.
"Albus," Tonks nodded to her old headmaster, opening the door to welcome them both in, "Phoenix."
Phoenix only just caught the wink that vibrant pink haired witch sent her.
Dumbledore was peering around at all the old photographs that hung on the walls, some whose occupants were moving in their frames and others whose residents remained stationary.
Lavender Cottage was buzzing slightly. Behind the door which led to the kitchen was the sound of what sounded like a large number of people talking. Phoenix felt her insides coil uncomfortably.
"Don't be nervous," Tonks muttered in Phoenix's ear.
"Is he mad?"
Tonks didn't answer. Instead the older Metamorphmagus pushed open the kitchen door and, Phoenix couldn't help but gasp, as Phoenix was met with the entirety of her family. Not only was her father seated at the table, but also Cecilia, Will, Ed, Phoenix's step-aunt and uncle, Ted and Andromeda, Anastasia and her fiancé, Felipe.
Silence fell as all eyes fell on Phoenix. The only pair of eyes that did not even flick towards her, were of course, her father's.
"Afternoon to you all," said Professor Dumbledore, indifferent to the uncomfortable silence that he and Phoenix had just entered.
"Afternoon Professor," Will and Ed greeted their old headmaster warmly, as did Anastasia, Cecilia, Andromeda and Ted, even Felipe greeted the elderly wizard (despite him attending the Italian School of Witchcraft and Wizardry instead of Hogwarts). The only person whom had not returned Dumbledore's greeting, was Phoenix's father. In fact, Phoenix suspected that he didn't even register them entering the room.
She took a vacant seat beside Will, who flashed her a brief smile as Dumbledore sat down graciously on her other side, looking around the kitchen with interest.
"I had the impression that it was going to just be me and my father in the meeting," she said to Dumbledore, feeling as rather uncomfortable at the thought of talking about something so personal in front of her entire family.
"As did I," Dumbledore admitted, "But I know that a lot of your family do have a lot to say in the matter of your mother."
"You must have had a long walk down Albus," Cecilia said, she was quick to her feet to bustle around the kitchen which reminded Phoenix warmly of Mrs. Weasley, "Would you like a cup of tea?"
"That would be lovely Cecilia," Dumbledore said kindly, "And I'm sure that Phoenix would like one also."
But Phoenix was hardly listening. Her eyes were glaring into the back of her father's head, as though hoping the intensity of her gaze would burn through it. He appeared to be completely oblivious to her presence but Phoenix was sure this was to avoid looking into her eyes – Jane's eyes.
"Thank you Cecilia. I do love floral patterns… Phoenix…"
Her eyes slowly, but finally, moved from her father's head, to see her headmaster smiling generically, a pale blue mug clutched in his hand.
"Thank you," she said, her voice suddenly dry from the lack of use. She was thankful that the cup of tea was warm and that she could hold something in her hands to prevent them from shaking.
"So now…" Dumbledore said brightly, ringing his hands together, his eyes flicking towards Phoenix's father, who was still determinedly looking anywhere else but at his daughter, "Andrei…" At the sound of his name, Andrei's head moved slowly to stare at Dumbledore.
Phoenix gritted her teeth, her hair quickly turning from mousy brown to a fiery red. He was still not looking at her. Why was he angry? What gave him the right to be angry?
"This meeting was called so that we all could discuss what we will do next, in regards to Phoenix," said Dumbledore, his persona completely changing from calm and relax, to quite suddenly serious and stern. "Though I feel as though this meeting should have happened a long time ago–"
"Quite right," Andromeda gave a snort of derision.
Phoenix's eyes widened at the outburst from her step-aunt. Andromeda was usually calm and collected and from Phoenix's knowledge, she and her father got on very well.
"Andromeda…" Cecilia muttered, sending her sister a dark look that made her resemblance to Narcissa Malfoy very evident to Phoenix.
"No Cecilia," Andromeda said firmly. Her eyes, that were so like Bellatrix Lestrange's but much warmer and bright, darkened angrily. "I never for a second agreed with the way that you," she jabbed an accusing finger towards Phoenix's father, "dealt with what happened to Phoenix."
"I did what was best for her," Andrei sighed. He sounded as though he had aged greatly in the time that Phoenix had last saw him – as though he had not slept in many weeks (neither had Phoenix in all honesty).
"Best for her?" Andromeda laughed derisively, "You thought taking away her memory was 'best for her'?"
Silence fell as Andrei and Andromeda glared at one another from across the table.
"She might have died if I hadn't," Andrei said finally, his teeth were bared in anger and the look upon his face was almost murderous. "You… you didn't hear her screaming at night. You remember the pictures she drew don't you?"
Andromeda leaned back into her seat, her eyes still never leaving her brother-in-law's.
"This meeting isn't about shouting our opinions at one another," Dumbledore said firmly, "it's about Phoenix, who is yet to speak, despite her hair turning the most impressive shade of red I have seen."
All eyes landed upon Phoenix. Even her father's. She met his eyes and was glad to see that he looked almost… nervous.
"First thing I have to say," Phoenix began, steading herself before, she was sure all hell broke loose. "Why in the name of Merlin's pants didn't you tell me about what happened to my mother? Why did it take for me to have almost a breakdown for me to find out the truth? You've kept this from me my entire life and I had the right to know years ago. Don't tell me that it's because you wanted to 'protect' me or whatever bullshit excuse you have that I don't want to hear. So be straight with for once please, Dad, why the hell didn't you tell me?"
Phoenix's father looked back at her, looking as though he had already been defeated. Phoenix saw, out of the corner of her eye, Andromeda and Tonks smile at one another.
"Phoenix what you went through… it didn't just affect you but it affected me too. I lost the women that I loved more than anything in the most horrific way. To say that it was hard on me is an understatement. I was close to losing you too. When you were diagnosed it was even harder. Instead of drawing dragons and tigers, you were drawing people with no faces. Every night you were crying and screaming in your sleep, you were so ill that I could barely recognise you," her father's eyes never left hers as he speak. Phoenix could hear the strain in his voice as she felt a lump rise in her throat, "You were so young… too young to deal with it. I didn't have a choice Phoenix, Healer Chorster assured me that modifying your memory would ensure that, in the long term it wouldn't affect you."
"I understand that Dad," Phoenix said, sounding quite breathless as she was trying her best to keep her voice from breaking. "But what I'm saying is… why did it take you thirteen years to tell me this? Why didn't you tell me instead of keeping it from me?"
"I…I…" her father looked at Cecilia, as though searching for help. This made Phoenix's insides boil in anger ever so slightly, why wasn't he giving her answers?
"Well isn't it obvious Phoenix?" Andromeda sent her step-niece a warm and loving look, very different from the glares she had been sending to Andrei only moments before. "He was scared to tell you the truth."
"Scared?" Phoenix laughed incredulously. "You were scared?"
"Of course I was scared!" Her father sounded as though he was trying with all of his might to hold his temper. "I was scared that you would be angry with me–"
"Well you've got one thing right there," Phoenix muttered, crossing her arms over her chest, her hair emotions once again getting the best of her, as her hair turned a dark, midnight black. "Didn't you think, for one second, how I felt? Do you have any idea what it feels like to not even remember you own mother? You have years of memories with her and the only memory that I have with her is when she was murdered! Why didn't you think about how I felt?"
"I… I admit I made a mistake in not telling you sooner, I was selfish," Her father said, rubbing his fingers across his temples. "I knew you would be angry–"
"Everyone knew… Everybody knew! I had the right to know Dad–"
"I know that Phoenix! I did it because I didn't want you to remember!" Her father's yell made Phoenix stop, and both Andromeda and Cecilia glanced in his direction, looking exasperated.
"Andrei there is no need to shout at her," Cecilia said sternly, placing her hand on his shoulder. "What we need to discuss is what we do now…"
"You're not going to–"
"He's not going to take your memories away Nix," said Will definitely, "We're not going to let him do that."
"That wasn't an option anyway William and you know it," Phoenix's father replied, his head now buried in his hands.
"Well what options are there?" Phoenix asked, rather confused.
"Andrei thought that he could take you out of school for a few days," said Ted, looking as though he had never heard something so ridiculous.
"What?" She exclaimed, turning to her father. "Are you mad? I'm in my NEWT year!"
"It would give Healer Chorster and Healer Loyalar to observe you properly–"
"I'm perfectly fine Dad," Phoenix spat, her hair turning back to a fiery red so that she greatly resembled Ginny (though the look of anger upon her face looked much more like Mrs. Weasley), "Healer Chorster and Healer Loyalar have even said that. I've already had a meeting with them and they didn't find it prudent that I should take any time off."
"Andrei, mate, you can't force her out of school," Ted declared, his eyes flicking from the young witch to her father as though watching a tennis match, "if Healer Chorster and Healer Loyalar believe that she is well and coping, then she has no need to have time from education."
"Madam Pomfrey would be more than happy to observe her once every week," said Dumbledore, his eyes peering at Phoenix's father over the tips of his fingers.
Phoenix's father nodded once, before taking a deep sigh and turning in his seat slightly to look at his daughter. "Can… may I speak with you alone Phoenix… and of course, to you too Albus."
Feeling as though she would have rather faced Hagrid's Skrewts (which were, by now, at least six feet long) than her father, but she accepted her father's request and watched as her family left the kitchen. Both Tonks and Andromeda sent Phoenix a wink and Anastasia (her belly looking distinctly more rounded) gave her a reassuring smile, before waddling out of the room behind Ed, the door closing softly behind her.
"I'm sorry about them all being here," Her father said to Phoenix and Dumbledore almost immediately, his hands running through his hair quickly. "As you could probably tell, a lot of them have had a lot to say in the matter. Especially Andromeda, she believed that I should have told you five years ago."
"She's not wrong," Phoenix found herself saying before she could really stop herself.
Her father's gaze upon her reminded for what felt like a lifetime, though Phoenix refused to meet his gaze as she felt her eyes beginning to burn, "I know Phoenix, believe me I know."
"What done is done Andrei," Dumbledore spoke gravely. "Now, is there anything that you wish to ask your daughter…"
Phoenix arched an eyebrow as she noticed the look upon her old headmasters face – it was the same look he had when surveying a guilty student.
"Yes. Yes there is," her father replied almost too quickly. He took another deep breath before his eyes meet his daughters and Phoenix very nearly shuddered at how intense the look in his eyes were – he had never looked at her like that. "Phoenix, I want you to tell me exactly what happened in your dream."
Phoenix suddenly felt cold all over. She felt as though her stomach had fallen straight through the floor and as though her heart had been plunged into ice cold water. She had already retold the story of her dream to Dumbledore and she wasn't too keen on repeating it again. But then, she saw the pleading look on her father's face and felt the coldness in her heart subside – she had not been the only one to lose Jane thirteen years ago.
"You mean, you want me to tell you how mum was… was killed," she asked her father in her most quiet voice.
"Yeah," he replied thickly, his hands reaching across the table to grasp his daughters, "Please Phoenix."
Telling her father about the memory was much more agonising than telling Dumbledore. The man whom Phoenix had barely seen shed a tear, was now reduced to sobs as he heard about how his wife had been murdered and how his daughter had been so brutally tortured. Dumbledore stood beside him, a hand rested upon his shoulder as Andrei Lancaster dabbed at his eyes with a tea towel Cecilia had left upon the kitchen table. Phoenix fidgeted with her hands as her father cried, she was using all the strength she had not to burst into tears at the sight – she wanted to remain strong and together in front of him, she didn't want to fall apart now.
"And then Bellatrix… she… she killed her… with the Avada Kedavra Curse…" Phoenix finished, her eyes a dull blue and her hair the palest blonde.
"Bellatrix…" Her father whispered, his hand rubbing harshly at his bloodshot brown eyes, "that's… that's…"
"Cecilia's sister, yeah," Phoenix said in a small voice. "Bellatrix is mad. From what I've learned about her she's driven by her loyalty to You-Know-Who. Completely deranged."
"You must think I'm crazy for marrying a woman whose sister killed my wife," her father spoke with a pained sort of smile.
"I don't think you're crazy," Phoenix said with the smallest of smiles. "Cecilia may be related to a mad Death Eater but that doesn't mean she is one."
"When you told me about your dream Phoenix," Dumbledore began, taking his place beside Phoenix once again, "you mentioned the names several of the other Death Eaters who were present,"
"Oh, uhm, yeah," She scrunched up her face in concentration, pinching the bridge of her nose, raking her brain for the memory, the names the Death Eaters who had shouted at one another. "There was… Rodolphus. I'm sure that is Bellatrix's husband… Rodolphus Lestrange."
"I find it hard to believe a woman such as Bellatrix would find a husband," said Andrei with an icy expression upon his face.
"It is believed that they only married so Bellatrix could uphold her family's tradition of marrying respectable pure-bloods," said Dumbledore.
"There was also Rabastan… Bellatrix had said his name–"
"Rabastan is Rodolphus' brother," Dumbledore informed both Phoenix and her father. "All of the Lestrangers were Voldemort's–" Phoenix gave a slight jump at the sound of You-Know-Who's name, even her father (who had heard plenty about the Dark Lord from Cecilia) gave a small sound of surprise, "–most loyal and trusted servants during the First Wizarding War, it is no surprise that they choose to act together."
Phoenix's stomach coiled slightly as she remembered another time that the Lestrange's had acted together – when they had tortured Neville's parents into insanity.
"There was Travers…" she looked up at Dumbledore as she said this, "He… he murdered the McKinnon's, didn't he?"
"Yes…" Dumbledore confirmed in a pained voice. "Who else was there Phoenix?"
"Somebody was addressed as Crouch," Phoenix said, her brows furrowed, remembering the article that George had found in the library. "That was Barty Crouch's son, wasn't it?"
Dumbledore nodded, his long fingers reaching up to push his half-moon spectacles, further up the bridge of his broken nose, "Anybody else?"
"No other names were mentioned from what I can recall," Phoenix was now trying desperately to push into the very depths of her mind, the names of any more Death Eaters, "But I swear on my life there were at least six Death Eaters… I just didn't hear their names…"
"That is quite alright Phoenix," her father, giving her an encouraging smile, his hand enclosing her own. "Thank you for telling me. I-I… I needed to hear that."
Lavender Cottage was very crowded that evening (despite Felipe and Anastasia departing shortly after the meeting for Anastasia's maternity meditation class). Phoenix and Dumbledore were asked to stay for dinner, which they obliged. The smell of Cecilia's best cooked ham pie wafted through the air, making mouths water and stomachs rumble. Phoenix sat between Tonks and Will, feeling happier than she had felt in a long time.
After dinner, Phoenix and Dumbledore said their goodbyes. The embrace that Phoenix shared with her father was heartfelt. It had been the first time that he had spoken openly to her about her mother – he had told her during dinner all about Jane Lancaster. She had been a waitress at a small café, she had been especially gifted at playing the grand piano and she made the most delicious homemade brownies. Phoenix almost felt as though a great weight had been lifted between them and she knew that from now on, she and her father would be more open to one another. After all, know they both knew the truth.
"Evening Miss Lancaster," Professor McGonagall greeted the blue haired Gryffindor, who was coughing and spluttering as she stepped out of her Head of House's fireplace, "I didn't realise yourself and Albus would be back so late."
"Neither did I Professor," Phoenix replied, now brushing soot from her jeans, "But my father and Cecilia insisted that we stay for dinner."
"I see," McGonagall said, just as the fireplace burst into emerald green flames and Professor Dumbledore stepped out, far more graciously than Phoenix had done seconds before. "Evening Albus,"
"Evening Minerva," Dumbledore replied with a short cough. "I apologise if my lateness distressed you in any way."
"Not to worry Albus," McGonagall said, the corners of her mouth twitched slightly, her eyes briefly meeting Phoenix's, "Fred and George Weasley were rather reckless this afternoon but nothing that myself and Severus couldn't deal with."
Phoenix had to refrain from rolling her eyes – of course the twins would choose the day that she was away for a few hours to cause as much mischief and chaos as they could. "I should be going to Gryffindor tower… Perhaps give those two idiots a good clip around the ears."
When Phoenix entered Gryffindor tower only a few minutes later, it was rather empty, seeing as though most of the castle's occupants were enjoying their dinner. Feeling quite pleased by this, Phoenix relaxed back into one of the seats in front of the fire, starching behind the back of Crookshanks (Hermione's half-Kneazle pet cat) ears as he purred, wounding around Phoenix's legs before jumping up onto her lap.
The warmth that was emitting from fire was quickly sending Phoenix into a drowsy sleep, Crookshanks' soft purrs and breathing making her feel so relaxed that her eyes closed, head falling back against the back of the chair.
"How can she sleep in that position?" Came a voice, lifting Phoenix from the sleep she had been pulled into, though her eyes remained closed. "Looks bloody uncomfortable."
"Well try and wake her up then, Lee," came Angelina's voice that was dripping with sarcasm.
"I'd rather not," Lee replied, sounding quite affronted. "I don't want her to rip my head off, thank you very much Ange."
"I wouldn't rip your head off Lee," Phoenix muttered, a smile curling her lips as she opened her eyes to meet Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson sitting in the chairs either side of her. "Probably curse you, but that's as far as I will go."
"Did your meeting go okay?" Angelina asked, watching as Phoenix stretched in her seat, brushing the cat hairs that Crookshanks had left on her jeans. "We thought you weren't going to come back when we saw you weren't at dinner."
"It went alright," she replied, shrugging her shoulders nonchalantly, though her stomach felt oddly warm inside. "We came back so late because Cecilia wanted for us to try her homemade ham pie,"
"I would like to say that you didn't miss much," Lee smirked, "But Fred and George decided to pull a rather impressive prank this afternoon."
"I know," Phoenix frowned slightly. "McGonagall told myself and Dumbledore… said they were rather reckless. So what did they do exactly?"
"Somehow," began Angelina, sounding as though she was using all her willpower not to crack a smile, "they managed to transfigure the floors in several corridors into quicksand."
"Caused quite the ruckus," Lee snorted, "Alicia and that Durmstrang she's seeing managed to get caught in it."
"They're not still there are they?" Phoenix asked in disbelief, noticing the absence of the blonde Gryffindor Chaser.
"Nah," Lee dismissed with a wave of his hand, "she got out of the quicksand hours ago, she and that Durmstrang bloke–"
Angelina cut him off with a roll of her eyes, "–His name is Jason, Lee."
Lee mirrored the dark skinned girl, rolling his eyes and looking rather amused, "Whatever. Anyway, Alicia and Jason–" Lee sent Angelina a significant look and she replied with a wry smile, "–are probably snogging somewhere near the Durmstrang ship."
"Lovely," Phoenix commented, her eyebrow arching as the corner of her lips turned upwards in a slight smile. "I take it that Fred and George are serving their well-deserved detention."
"Right you are," Angelina said with a nod of her head, "they've been scrubbing cauldrons since two o'clock."
"Poor lads," though Lee sounded sympathetic, he was grinning widely. "Brilliant prank though,"
"Not that brilliant if they didn't get away with it," Phoenix added, "They're going to come back smelling like a sewer."
But surprisingly, the two prankster came back, smelling as they always did – not even a trance of fool smelling potion ingredients in the air around them. When they climbed through the portrait and noticed Phoenix sitting in the chair beside Lee (Angelina had gone to the dormitories for a shower) they had let out yells of surprise and very nearly squashed her into two bone crushing hugs.
"You're okay," George murmured into her hair, his hands squeezing her hips tightly, "you're okay."
"Of course I'm okay," Phoenix said in an undertone, her cheeks now a burning red to match her hair, "Now what is this I hear about yours and Fred's prank?"
"You can't possibly deny the genius behind it Miss Lancaster," Fred beamed as she sat down beside Lee on the loveseat, "I mean, transfiguring floors into quicksand is something that McGonagall should be proud of."
"The only downfall is," Phoenix said, crossing her arms over her chest and sending the twins an amused smirk, "you got caught."
"We didn't necessarily get caught," scoffed George.
"Teachers just assume that genius pranks are all ours," chuckled Fred. "Not our fault."
Phoenix rolled her eyes at her best friends. Though she was thankful that, for once, everything seemed to be normal for the first time in her life. She just hoped that it remained that way.