"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.


20. The Yule Ball

She barely slept that night; she could hear the patter of the house-elves feet as they came in and out of the dormitory to place the presents at the bottom of their beds. She tossed and turned in her sleep, her dreams were clouded by distorted flashes of green light and distant screams and jeering laughter. Phoenix couldn't get it out of her head; she had had post-traumatic stress disorder when she was only three years old. And she couldn't remember any of it.

The letter that her own father had written was edged into her head, it was the horrible proof that her father really had suggested getting her memory modified – that he had made the decision. She knew it was her father because it was in his familiar handwriting and Phoenix knew for a fact that her father always photocopied his letters. It was solid proof that he was the reason Phoenix could not remember a single memory of her own mother.

To say that she felt betrayed was an understatement. The pain of the betrayal from her father was the worst pain in the world. It went beyond physical pain, even further beyond emotional pain. It was nothing compared to being betrayed by the man she had always looked up to, admired and loved, no matter what.

"It's Christmas!" Alicia sang happily after Phoenix woken up groggily, wishing she could spend the rest of the day in bed. Her curtains were being pulled apart by Alicia, who was now singing 'Joy to the World' in a very loud, very obnoxious voice.

Phoenix had been given a large box of chocolates from Will and Ed; Alicia, a fancy looking makeup set (which Phoenix didn't doubt she would need for the ball tonight); Angelina, a bottle of perfume that smelt of pure vanilla (Phoenix's most favourite smell); Mrs. Weasley, a hand-knitted jumper with a multi-coloured flower on it; Ginny, a handmade friendship bracelet; Tonks, a peculiar looking (though altogether rather beautiful) necklace that glowed different colours; her father and Cecilia, a copy of her father's new book (she scowled at this present and threw it aside) and several homemade treats; and from Anastasia and Felipe she was given a personalised charm bracelet and a reply to Phoenix's letter.

Dear Phoenix,
Merry Christmas! I hope you like our present; we chose all the things we know you like for the charms! My appointment went well. The baby is going to be due around late July, it is too early to tell the sex yet, but Felipe thinks it's a boy – I'm hoping for a girl personally! Mum wasn't happy about it first in all honesty, but I think now she loves the idea of being a grandmother. My job is doing fine; maternity leave begins around March/April time.

Everybody is doing fine – Felipe and I are in Italy to celebrate Christmas with his family.

Christmas wishes!
With love, from Anastasia and bump!

"We should wake up Fred, George, and Lee," Angelina suggested, a wicked grin upon her face before they raced up the stairs to the boy's dormitories, already dressed and carrying the presents they were going to give to the boys once they woke up – or rather woken up.

"I'll wake up Fred," Angelina said in a hushed voice. They were stood in front of the door to the sixth year boy's dormitory.

"I'm not waking up Lee," Phoenix and Alicia both said together.

"I did it last year!" Alicia said, crossing her arms over her chest.

"But… I… alright, okay,"

They silently opened the door to the boy's dormitory. Tony and Kenneth seemed to have already left, their beds were empty. Trying their hardest not to laugh, they all tiptoed round to the three beds where Fred, George, and Lee were all sleeping. Lee was a rather peculiar sleeper. He was spread eagled out on his back, his feet poking out from under his blankets. He was snoring so loudly that Phoenix was surprised that Lee had not woken himself or the twins up.

She decided quickly on waking Lee up the hard way. She climbed onto his bed and stood up; Lee gave another loud snore as she began to jump madly on his bed as though she was on a trampoline.

"Wake up!" She bellowed, still jumping up and down on Lee's bed, grinning from ear to ear. "It's Christmas Lee!"

"The bloody 'ell!" Lee grumbled, grabbing his pillow from underneath his head and covering his face, "Go away Nix,"

"Wake up Lee Lee!" Phoenix sang, just as Fred and George both gave grumbles as they too were woken up by Angelina and Alicia – though not as enthusiastically as Phoenix was waking up Lee.

"You know it is my life's dream for you to be in my bed Phoenix but for the love of Merlin stop jumping on my bed!" Lee suddenly grabbed Phoenix's legs and, completely taken by surprise, she shrieked and fell painfully on to the floor beside his bed.

"You could have just woke him up by tickling him Pixy," said George in a groggily voice, he was leaning over the side of his bed to talk to her.

"But that was a lot more fun," Phoenix grimaced, wincing in the slight discomfort from landing on her backside as she got to her feet and perched herself at the end of George's bed, "Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas to you too!" he beamed, "Now where's my present?"

"You cut right to the chase don't you?" she rolled her eyes and handing George a present that was completely wrapped in tinsel – Phoenix was never gifted at wrapping presents.

George grinned down at the present, "I love how you wrap your presents," he said as he began to tear away the tinsel.

"Where's my present Nix?" Fred called over to her. He was already wearing his brand new Weasley jumper that had a large 'F' on it.

"Mind the tinsel!" She called back, throwing Fred his present – which was a box of Zonko's products and a few Muggle tricks that Fred, was sure to love – and also throwing Lee his present – which was a large box of chocolate products from Honeydukes, from wands to skeletons.

"What are these?" George asked, he was holding up a packet of glow in the dark moon and stars stickers, his box of Zonko's products identical to Fred's was already on his bedside table.

"They're glow in the dark stickers," Phoenix said brightly, "You're supposed to stick them to your walls or the ceiling and they… glow in the dark… it's a Muggle product… do you like it?"

"These are wicked," said George, looking from the packet to Phoenix, "Thank you," he pulled Phoenix into his arms and gave her a warm hug. Her face and hair turned pink when she realised that George was in fact not wearing a pyjama top and her face was pressed against his bare chest.

"George… could you put a shirt on please?"

"Oh right… sorry," he chuckled and released Phoenix from his embrace to search through his presents, picking up the present that was easily recognisable as his Weasley jumper.

"Now where's my present Georgie?"

"Right here," George pulled out from under his bed a weirdly shaped present that was wrapped more nicely than hers was – but Phoenix suspected that they had sent it for their mother to wrap. She thanked him before she began to tear at the wrapping paper. She gasped silently as she pulled out a new skateboard. Its wheels glittering and Phoenix just knew that the wheels were enchanted by how they glowed different colours. The actual board was decorated with what looked like a hand painted portrait of her, Phoenix grinned as her portraits hair turned a bright blue.

"Wow George…"

"It's a present from both of us," George inclined his head over to Fred, who was currently roaring with laughter at Lee, who had seemed to have brought both Angelina and Alicia some wizarding lingerie (Phoenix didn't doubt that her present would be the same), "Since Bagman stole all of our money, we had to make most of our presents, so Fred made the skateboard, with the instructions that Will had sent us, and I decorated it. Put a few complicated charms and spells so that it's easier to stay on the board, also it's bigger so it's easier for more than one person to stay on… we're pretty happy with the finished product."

"This is amazing!" Phoenix tackled George into a hug, shouting her thanks to Fred for his and George's amazing gift.

Breakfast that morning was enjoyable. Lunch was even more enjoyable, no less than a hundred turkeys and Christmas puddings filled each and every students stomachs. Cribbage's Wizarding Crackers had been stacked in large piles and Phoenix had won a pack of non-explodable, luminous balloon and a flowered bonnet that she quickly pulled on Lee's head to a roar of laughter from the surrounding Gryffindors.

After Lunch, Phoenix and the twins, along with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, all ventured out into the grounds for a snowball fight (all apart from Hermione who simply watched from the sidelines).

Phoenix had quickly formed an alliance with Harry and Fred. The three of them were hiding behind a large tree as they all bewitched large snowballs to hit George and Ron repetitively on the head.

"We're going to have to split up," Fred said, in a voice that suggested they were planning an attack on a treacherous fortress rather than having a friendly snowball fight, "Phoenix, you're the smallest, you go first!"

Phoenix obliged, but not before she threw a large pile of snow in his face. She snuck around the tree, peering curiously around at snow-covered grounds, but George and Ron were apparently nowhere to be seen. Feeling that an ambush was on the horizon, Phoenix ran as fast as she could towards another large tree that was only a few feet away…

But suddenly, Ron appeared from behind a bush that was completely obscured with snow, George right behind him, grinning mischievously. Phoenix's eyes widened in fear and she ran even faster.

"Take her down George!"

"NO!" Phoenix shrieked as she heard George's footsteps behind her. Sadly however, George had the advantage of having much longer legs and Phoenix's short ones were no match for them. She squealed as George rugby tackled her into a mountainous pile of snow, "Man down!" she screamed and heard distantly Fred and Harry let out shouts of anguish.

"Phoenix!" Hermione suddenly called and Phoenix struggled underneath George's body as she tried to push his body off of her. "It's five o'clock; we should probably go and get ready!"

"Okay!" Phoenix called back, pushing against George's shoulders but to no dismay, "But first could you hex with prat off of me?"

Before Hermione could so much as raise her wand, George threw himself off of her and without a moment's hesitation, Phoenix got to her feet.

"What, you need three hours?" Ron was staring at her and Hermione incredulously, his momentary loose of concentration resulted in a large snowball to the side of the head, which had been throw by George. "Who are you going with?" The question was for Hermione, but she simply waved to them and together she and Phoenix raced up the stone steps to the castle.

Phoenix never really appreciated having Alicia, who was an expert at doing hair and makeup, in her dormitory. By the time Alicia at finished and Phoenix looked in the mirror that was being shoved in her face, she surprised to see that for once in her life she actually looked like a girl, a young woman even. Phoenix hair, which was its natural mousy brown, fell into loose curls down her back, looking soft and shiny thanks to Alicia's hair potion. Her blue eyes stood out beautifully with glittering slivery blue eye shadow that hid behind long, thick lashes (thanks to Angelina's eyelash thickening charm) and her lips were a pale peachy pink.

"My creation is complete!" Alicia beamed, turning Phoenix around to face the others before she began on her own hair and makeup.

"You actually look like a girl!" Angelina said, beaming at Phoenix, looking as though she was a second away from bursting into tears. Angelina was already dressed and looked gorgeous. Her strapless dress started at a dark, glittery purple at the top and faded into a dark pink towards the hem, giving it a transfixing ombre effect. Her dark hair was pulled into an elegant bun, a butterfly clip holding it together at the back. She also looked a lot taller and Phoenix didn't doubt that she would almost be the same height as Fred.

"Thanks, you look amazing Angelina," Phoenix grinned before she walked over to the wardrobe where they had all hung up their dresses and pulled out her mother's dress.

Her heart seemed to swell as she pulled it on delicately. The dress felt like a warm hug and she felt a lump in her throat when she thought again that her mother had once worn this very dress. Her fingers smoothed out the sequins as she stared into the mirror. The icy, sky blue dress matched her eyes almost exactly; the glittery eye shadow along with the sequins on the dress gave the appearance that her very eyes were sparkling. The bottom of the dress swept the floor, the skirt flared ever so slightly as she twirled; the pleating seemed to glide through the air as easily and beautifully as wind. The ribbon around her waist emphasised her hips and the sky blue sequin embellishment over her chest looked more beautiful than it did when Phoenix had first saw the dress.

It fit her almost perfectly, it was a little tight around the chest but Phoenix knew that Alicia could fix that with a wave of her wand. She had never felt so close to her mother before, wearing her dress gave her an unexplainable feeling that made her stomach feel as though it was fluttering, the same feeling when she drank Firewhiskey, as though she had missed a step when going downstairs.

"You look beautiful Nix," Alicia gushed as she clipped in her sparkly diamanté earrings. Alicia looked very pretty; her hair was pulled into a loose, curly ponytail, her floaty, knee length dress was a pleasant turquoise colour, it was a mesh design and had a cut-out back. She had been twirling around in it ever since Angelina had begun to play some of the Weird Sisters greatest hits from her wireless radio. "Jerome is definitely going to regret not asking you,"

"Are we ready to go?" Angelina asked as Phoenix slipped on the sparkly heels that Angelina and Alicia had brought her. Ava, Lee's date, was applying last minute lip-gloss. Phoenix had to admit that Ava, who had never been seen in anything but a knee-length skirt, looked very different in a short, strapless, sweetheart neckline blush pink dress with crystal embellishment around the bodice. Her hair was curled and pulled in a loose bun that Phoenix didn't doubt would become looser throughout the night, if Lee's plan of having a snog with her in a broom cupboard was going to happen.

"Yeah," Alicia squealed, "I have to go to the Durmstrang ship early; I will see you both later!" She ran as fast as she could out of the dormitory in her heels.

"I'm meeting Fred down in the common room," Angelina told Phoenix as together she, Phoenix, and Ava walked down the staircase that led from their dormitory to the Gryffindor common room.

"He's going to be speechless when he sees you," said Phoenix, smiling. Angelina beamed back at her before the three of them entered the common room. It was full people, all dressed in different colours. It was an overall lovely effect, instead of seeing the usual black robes that the students wore.

Fred, George, and Lee were laughing loudly beside the fire. Lee was wearing black robes, a white shirt and a black bowtie. Even Phoenix had to admit he looked rather dishy. Fred was wearing the deep purple robes that Mrs. Weasley had brought second-hand, but its colour matched Angelina's dress perfectly. George looked extremely handsome; he wore robes that were identical to Fred's, though his were a midnight blue and fit around his Beater's physique perfectly.

As they crossed the common room towards the common room fire, Phoenix caught sight of Ron who looked rather put out, his dress robes looked very traditional, though also, very old-fashioned and the edges of the robes were rather frayed – Phoenix had guessed Ron had used a Severing Charms to cut off the lace that had once been on the ruffs and cuffs.

"I'm going to take a guess that you three are laughing at Ron's attire?" Angelina called as they stood behind one of the armchairs. Fred, George, and Lee all immediately got to their feet and turned to look at the girls. Phoenix tried not to laugh at Fred and Lee's awestruck faces as they stared at their dates. Her eyes then looked over at George, who was looking at Phoenix, his lips slightly parted and his eyes wide. She immediately felt herself blushing and her hair turned pink in embarrassment and quickly made her way over to him, so to avoid Lee and Ava who had just begun to snog feverishly.

"Do you think they're going to snogging all night?" she asked him.

"Erm… yeah probably… I-I mean… its Lee…"

"Is George Weasley lost for words?"

"No of course not!" George's brilliant rouge cheeks suggested otherwise, "But you look so breathtakingly beautiful," It was Phoenix turn to blush brilliantly. "The dress was certainty worth the wait."

"It adds to the element of surprise doesn't it?" They both smiled at each other before quickly turning away as Fred called out that they were making their way to the ball.

The entrance hall was packed. Phoenix, along with Fred, George, Lee, Angelina, and Ava stood as close to the door to the Great Hall as they could. They were waiting for the doors to be opened; Phoenix was peering around at the other students. She could see Fleur Delacour, looking beautiful in a satin sliver-grey dress, her arms linked with Roger Davies.

"Look at how happy Roger is," Angelina giggled and Phoenix too laughed when she saw Roger staring at Fleur as though he had been hypnotised.

Suddenly, the oak front doors opened and immediately all the students in the entrance hall to watch as the Durmstrang students entered. Phoenix and Angelina could spot Alicia with Jason quickly and they wolf-whistled, which made her blush. Krum was leading, arm in arm with a pretty and very familiar girl in floaty, periwinkle-blue robes.

"Who's that with Krum? She's pretty!" said Ava brightly.

Phoenix watched the girl and suddenly she realised who it was.

"It's Hermione!"

It was only because Phoenix had seen Hermione's dress before; she had soon both her and Ginny during the summer. She had not realised it was Hermione immediately because how her hair, which was usually bushy, was sleek and shiny and was twisted into an elegant bun at the back of her head. Phoenix immediately recognised the use of Sleekeazy's Hair Potion – she had been the one to sell it to Hermione in the first place.

"Ron is going to blow a casket!" Fred said gleefully just as the doors to the Great Hall opened.

"We want to get a good table," said Lee, grabbing Ava's hand and practically dragging her inside the hall.

"Looks like we'll both be on the fifth wheel tonight," Phoenix said to George as they followed behind the couples into the Great Hall. Once inside, Phoenix gasped at how beautiful and enchanting it now looked. The walls were covered completely in what looked like sparkling sliver frost, though the temperature was not at all cold. Hundreds of mistletoe and ivy crossed across the starry black enchanted that showed the sky above. The four House tables were replaced by hundred, much smaller, tables that sat about a dozen people, a single lantern sitting on each table which cast a beautiful, icy lighting around the entire hall.

They spotted the others sat on the table that Phoenix noticed was far away from where Warrington was sat; Phoenix took a seat beside George, who had pulled out her chair for her before he too sat down.

The champions and their partners entered in a line, Harry with Parvati Patil, Cedric with Cho Chang, Fleur with Roger and Krum with Hermione. Everyone applauded them as they began to walk towards the largest of the tables at the very top of the hall, where the judges were also sitting. Phoenix's eyes scanned the table and gasped when she saw Ludo Bagman, wearing robes of bright purple bedecked with large yellow stars.

"It's Bagman," she whispered to George, who glared at Bagman along with Fred and then–

"What in the name of Merlin is Percy doing here?"

Confused, Phoenix turned back around to stare at the table and saw that Percy was indeed there. He looked rather smug; wearing what looked like brand-new, navy blue dress robes. "Where's Mr. Crouch?"

"Who knows," George said shrugging; his eyes were still glaring into the back of Bagman's head. "He's probably looking so smug because he's been promoted, he's now I'm now Mr. Crouch's personal assistant. Mum told us."

"How did he get promoted to his personal assistant when Mr. Crouch thinks his name is Weatherby?"

George chuckled before his face suddenly became stiff and his jaw set.


She jumped in her seat and saw Jerome, dressed in deep pink dress robes and looking as handsome as ever.

"You look magnifique," he bent down and kissed her hand tenderly like he had down when they first met, causing Phoenix's hair and face to flush pink.

"T-Thanks," she stuttered as Jerome took the seat on her other side.

"Ez you 'ere with er…" He gestured towards George, who was glaring at Jerome rather harshly.

"It's George," he said, his voice sounding as harsh as his glare.

"No… I came on my own," Phoenix said to Jerome, across the table Angelina was making kissy faces at her over her menu.

"So Pixy," George said much more loudly than it was really necessary, "What are you having to eat?"

"The goulash sounds lovely," she considered, thankful that he had taken her away from her awkward conversation with Jerome, "But how do we get the food? I don't see any of the house elves in suits and bow ties."

George gave a snort of laughter and shook his head, "Fred said you have to say what you want to your plate," George inclined his head over to Fred who was stuffing his face with pork chops, Angelina was looking rather disgustedly at him, though the corners of her mouth were twitching. "Sausage casserole," George said, very clearly to his plate.

And a sausage casserole did in fact appear on his plate.

"They really outdid themselves didn't they?" Phoenix grinned.

Jerome had apparently disappeared to another table; he was replaced by Arista and her date, a seventh year Hufflepuff called Leo Villone, Alicia and Jason and a friend of Jason's, along with his date were also sitting on the table so that it was now completely full.

When all the food had been eaten, Dumbledore stood up gracefully and asked all the students to follow suit, they did, and then he flicked his wand and the tables that they had been sitting on had moved back towards the wall, leaving the floor clear. Phoenix guessed this was the Dancefloor, the floor glistened and gleamed, looking like ice rather than its usual stone flagged floor. Dumbledore then waved his wand again and a stage appeared along the right wall. Instruments were set upon it, including guitars, bagpipes, a cello, a lute and a set of drums.

Alicia let out her most girliest squeal as the Weird Sisters climbed onto the stage. Phoenix thought that they looked like an obscure Muggle punk band; they were all tremendously hairy and dressed in black robes that were ripped and torn in all the right places. As they all picked up their instruments, the absence of the lanterns on the tables had now become more apparent, the only lighting in hall now seemed to be coming from the very floor, it glowed a bright icy blue, making the entire look as though it was made completely of brilliant ice.

The champions, along with their partners, were now walking towards the Dancefloor. Both Phoenix and George sniggered at Harry as Parvati placed his hand on her waist and the other tightly in his hand as the Weird Sisters started a slow song that Phoenix did not recognise.

By nine o'clock Phoenix's feet began to hurt. She had danced with Angelina, Lee (who Phoenix had to force his hands away from venturing too far down to her bottom), Alicia, Ginny and Hermione. She had even managed to have a dance with Cedric while Cho went to the loo with her friends, no doubt to gossip in private. Phoenix sat at a table; her heels were hidden away under her seat as she drank her goblet of Butterbeer that she was sure was spiked with the Firewhiskey Lee had managed to sneak in.

"Fhoenix, may I ezk you to dance?"

"Oh Jerome," she gasped and stood up immediately to face him. She smiled before taking his outstretched hand, where he led her towards the Dancefloor; she caught sight of Fred and Angelina who were dancing so enthusiastically (though Phoenix had no idea why as the song's tempo was so slow) that Fred almost punched George in the nose who was dancing nearby. Phoenix felt incredibly small; since she had left her heels back at her table she was now barefoot (although the length of her dress hid this) and no longer as tall as she had been in her heels.

One of Jerome's hands encircled itself around her waist, resting on her back and the other grasped her hand as she placed the other tentatively on his shoulder.

They said nothing as they danced, Phoenix was beginning to feel incredibly awkward and was glad that she had not come to the ball with Jerome, but dancing with him was rather pleasant. Her attention had wondered over to the people around her, she could see Ginny and Neville looking as though they were having a lot of fun, Neville looked confident for the first time in his life. Phoenix guessed that his grandmother had taught him how to dance properly; he spun Ginny around as she giggled.

"Your noze ez very buttomy…"

"Excuse me?" Phoenix was confused as to why Jerome was telling her that her nose was 'buttony', she knew that already.

"I like nozes zhat 'ave a point!"

Phoenix frowned, her hands dropping slightly, "Why are you telling me this?"

Jerome shrugged before he twirled her outwards and then back in; pulling her even closer to him so they were face-to-face.

"A-Are you having a good night so far?" Phoenix asks as she kept a tighter hold around Jerome's arm.

"My night eet ez charmant," said Jerome in his most husky voice and Phoenix felt herself blushing from the sheer awkwardness of the situation.

"That's good," she gulped before she turned her attention to the people around them. Lee and Ava were dancing merrily nearby, Lee sent Phoenix a wink that she did not return instead she mouthed a plea for help that Lee sadly ignored as Ava had now began to snog him roughly.

"Ez your nose always buttomy?"

"Erm… yes… I mean my nose has always been rather… buttony…" She was puzzled as to why Jerome was focusing so much attention on her nose. After all, it was just a bloody nose.

"You are a Metamorphmagus no?"

"Yeah but I don't see why–" Her eyes widened slowly as she realised what Jerome was doing. She glared at him before pushing him away, her hair now an icy blue. "Go find someone else who's willingly to change for you," she spat, her voice as icy and cold as the walls of the Great Hall.

This chapter was split into two because it was too long so I leave you with a cliffhanger! Don't hate me too much - the next chapter will make up for it! This would have been up much early today but then I downloaded the Harry Potter Lego Years and unlocked Fred and George's characters and free play so I got distracted. 

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