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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11. Unpredictable

The next few weeks past in a haze and October brought rain and harsh winds. Phoenix and the other sixth years found that they all had a mountain of homework, every week they had a minimum one or two pieces of extra work for each and every single one of their subjects. Not only was it their extensive amount of homework but their classes had proven to be challenging. They were now expected to be using nonverbal spells in all of their lessons and most still mumbled incantations under their breath.

Fred and George had managed to create even more mayhem around the school; they had managed to flood the Slytherin common room, transfigure twenty seven chairs into sheep and let them loose in the Great Hall at breakfast and fill several of Filch's folders with Stinksap in their free periods.

As the weekend of Angelina's birthday arrived, Phoenix, Fred, and George were found in the Library. Phoenix, finishing her Transfiguration essay and Fred and George, making paper airplanes fly around the room.

"Why did you come to the Library with me if all you are doing is making airplanes," said Phoenix, looking up from her essay to the airplane that had just hit Cedric Diggory on the head.

"Well we didn't want to stay in the common room," said Fred.

"Because Hermione will be begging us to join S.P.E.W." said George, looking at the S.P.E.W. badge that Phoenix had on her bag for the reason that she only took because she wanted Hermione to stop pestering her about house elves.

"And Lee is in detention," said Fred.

"Wait," sat Phoenix. "Lee has a detention and you don't? It seems you two have certainly changed your tune."

"My dearest Phoenix," said Fred casually, flicking his wand so that another paper airplane flew high in the air, "Our tune will always be as it always has been."

"Lee got a detention in Muggle Studies and we're not in that lesson," said George.

"What did he do?" said Phoenix.

"He asked if Muggles had bigger breasts or not," said George, the corners of his mouth twitching. Phoenix laughed and Madam Pince shot her a disgusted look.

"As always, Lee's never ending charm," she said. "Why don't you annoy Angelina and Alicia then?"

"We just wanted to spend time with our best friend. Is that such a crime?" said Fred, looking at her incredulously.

She smiled at this and shook her head. "Of course not."

"Are you looking forward to tonight then?" said Fred, finally putting down his wand and looking down at Phoenix's essay.

"Keep your voice down," whispered Phoenix, looking around at the other students and Madam Pince, who was looking over Ginny's shoulder as she studied. "We don't want loads of people to find out."

"Sorry," whispered George.

"But yes I am looking forward to it," she said quietly. "We're going to do it in your dormitory if you don't mind."

"Why?" inquired Fred.

"Because," whispered Phoenix. "We can't do it in our dormitory because boys can't come up there."

"Come on Pixy," said George airily. "You know we don't care if we break a few rules and you have been in our dormitory loads of time."

"But you literally can't go up to the girls' dormitories," Phoenix said. "The founders considered boys to less trustworthy than girls so they put a charm on the staircases to prevent them from entering."

"Boys can be trustworthy," said George defensively and Phoenix laughed, quieter this time as Madam Pince prowled closer to them.

"Really? How long have you known Lee?" Phoenix whispered, her voice shaking with quite laughter before returning to her essay. "Merlin knows what he would do if he ever saw one of our bras on the floor."

"He would probably get a frame for it," grinned George.

"Wouldn't blame him," smirked Fred and George laughed as Phoenix kicked his leg hard under the table.

By the 7 o'clock in the evening, Fred and Lee had managed to convince Kenneth Towler and Tony Alin to spend the night in the Ravenclaw common room with their friends, Alicia and Angelina had managed to smuggle the bottles of Butterbeer and Firewhiskey up into the boys dormitories and Phoenix and George had ventured down to the kitchens to get food from the house elves.

They walked back from the kitchens, George's bag bulging with cakes, chocolates, biscuits and empty goblets.

"Bagman replied to our letter," said George and Phoenix stopped in her tracks, looking up at George expectantly.

"And has he–"

"No," George shook his head as they continued to walk along an empty passage. "He said that we're too young to be gambling and to stop playing childish games."

"What are you going to do?" said Phoenix, her eyes wide as she stared up at him.

"No idea," he shrugged, scowling as they walked up a narrow staircase. "But you were right Pixy; it seems he did do it on purpose."

"George," Phoenix said softly, grabbing a hold of his arm so that they stood in front of each other, Phoenix standing on one step higher than George so that she could look straight into his face. "Don't do anything too courageous to get the money back."

"We won't" said George quickly.

"I know you George Fabian Weasley."

"I hate when you use my full name," said George as he fought back a smile, "Phoenix Augusta Lancaster."

"Shut up," said Phoenix with a slight laugh. "You love it when I call you George Fabian Weasley," she teased, looping her arms around his shoulders as they began to walk back up the staircase.

"No I don't," George laughed, encircling one of his arms around her waist. "You sound like my Mum."

"Sorry Georgie," she laughed as they stood in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady. George gave her the password and one after the other; they climbed through the portrait hole.

"Finally!" shouted Lee as they entered the boys' dormitory and emptied the contents of George's bag on Fred's bed.

"Sorry," said George as he and Phoenix sat down in the circle that the others were sat in.

"Well let's get the party started then," said Lee, rubbing his hands together and smiling around at them all.

"Wait," said Alicia, "it's only 8 o'clock and we want this to last most of the night,"

"Good point," said Angelina, "and it seems to have gone right over your head Lee as to why we are doing this."

"What?" Lee said distractedly.

"It's Angelina's birthday you dreadful pillock!" said George, smiling and Phoenix burst with laughter, putting her hand up so that George could high five her.

"I don't get it?" said Alicia, looking between George and Phoenix and then at the others, "did we miss something?"

"No," said Phoenix, shaking her head, "It was a bad joke. 'Dreadful', Lee has dreadlocks, get it? Good one George."

Fred looked at his twin painfully, shaking his head, "Terrible. You two have the worst sense of humour. I am appauled."

"But anyway," said Angelina, who couldn't hide her smile. "It's my birthday and I am now of age–"

Phoenix and Alicia gave an appreciative 'woop'.

"I think we should sing Happy Birthday to Angelina!" said Fred and there was a cheer and Angelina looked slightly flustered.

"Wait," said Phoenix, pulling out her wand, pointing at the door, in her mind thought. 'Tacitus!'.

"We should lock the door for good measure," suggested Lee, pointing his wand too at the door to the dormitory and saying. "Colloportus."

"Great now we are locked in the boys' dormitory with Lee."

"They say that dreams do come true Phoenix."

After a loud chorus of Happy Birthday, in which Fred and George sang through mouthfuls of Cauldron Cakes, they began to drink. The Firewhiskey burned the back of Phoenix's throat but the aftereffect had created a warm feeling in her stomach, making her feel content, happy, and confident.

"We should do this every weekend," said Alicia, lying back on the dormitory floor, clutching her empty bottle of Butterbeer to her chest.

"We couldn't do this every weekend," said Phoenix from her seat on Fred's bed.

"Yeah Alicia," said Fred, the corners of whose mouth were twitching, "We have to put our school work first don't we?"

Phoenix's hair turned a bright scarlet as she flushed and pushed Fred and, cut by complete surprise, he fell from the bed, hitting the floor with a groan. Everyone laughed, even Fred, who got to his feet slowly and ruffled her hair so that she scowled at him. She smirked and took a long swig from her bottle of Firewhiskey.

"We should play a game!" Piped up Alicia, placing her bottle on the floor beside her and sitting up to look around at everyone.

"What kind of game?" quizzed Lee, "I hope it's strip poker."

"For the love Merlin," Phoenix mumbled to herself.

"No," Alicia said sharply to Lee, "We could play truth or dare, they always play that at Muggle parties."

"Truth or dare in one dormitory wouldn't be really fun though," said Fred, "and I don't really fancy Lee's dares."

"We could just drink and talk," suggested Phoenix, lying down and resting her head in George's lap. "I don't really want to do any cartwheels while singing Celestina Warbeck again."

"Which I must say, was very impressive," said George appreciatively.

"When on earth did you do that?" Angelina questioned.

"It was the summer in our fourth year," said Fred. "We were playing truth or dare with Phoenix, Charlie, and Ginny and Charlie dared her to do cartwheels and sing A Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love. It was rather beautiful actually."

"Yeah, especially when I almost cracked my head open."

"What should we talk about then?" asked Alicia, taking a swig from her goblet of Firewhiskey.

"Let's talk about the nice lacy pair of knickers that Phoenix has got," said Lee and everyone laughed, excluding Phoenix.

"One day…" she whispered.

"One day what?" said Lee, grinning sheepishly at her.

"One day I will curse you until I swear that you will just be a pair of eyeballs," she said simply before taking a long gulp of Firewhiskey, her throat did not burn this time but her stomach filled with warmth.

"Can she do that?" Lee whispered audibly, narrowing his eyes from Phoenix to George.

"I wouldn't put it past her," said George.

They finished two and a half bottles of Firewhiskey and four bottles of Butterbeer between the six of them. By now, Lee was becoming rowdy and making flirty comments every second, Alicia was singing to herself, Angelina and Fred were discussing Quidditch very drunkenly and Phoenix and George were lying in his bed, staring up at the ceiling where some butterflies that Phoenix had conjured were fluttering around his four poster bed.

"You know," Phoenix slurred thoughtfully as she stared at the butterfly and jabbed a finger at George's chest. "I quite miss having you and Fred in Potions."

"Why?" said George, looking at her with difficulty as his eyes were drooping tiredly.

"Because," she said, rolling onto her stomach and looking down at him, her head spinning and the back of her throat burning, "it's just not the same. I don't really laugh as much. Lee actually tries at Potions, unlike when you two were there;" she smiled reminiscently, "There is no more fireworks exploding around the room."

"It's a real compliment to say that you miss us," George said thickly as he tried to suppress a belch.

"You don't miss me while you're having all those free periods?" Phoenix inquired, his bottom lip stuck out in a slight childish pout.

"Of course I miss you," George slurred, pinching her cheek softly.

"Good." Phoenix smiled lazily, resting her head blearily against his chest as she did so.

"Y-You're really good at making those butterflies," George slurred as he placed an arm tentatively around her shoulder and the other hand on the curve of her waist.

"It's something I learnt to do in Transfiguration," Phoenix mumbled, "a conjuring spell."

"I guessed that much," said George, his fingers twirling a lock of Phoenix's bright blue coloured hair absentmindedly. She smiled, she always found that when people played with her hair, her mind was always put at ease, in her drunken state her mind was already eased, but maybe it was the presence and comfort of George that was making her feel so… at home, she could hear his heartbeat through his shirt and her heart rate seemed to increase at how he was making her feel embarrassed and yet so comfortable and she wondered if George could hear her heart thumping in her chest like she could so clearly hear his. She was used to giving both Fred and George hugs, leaping on their backs for piggybacks, leaning on their shoulders and even having their arms around her waist but she had never cuddled with one of them and she liked it. Maybe it was how George's much longer arms seemed to fit around her waist so perfectly or how she was the right height to be able to hear his heartbeat. Whatever it was, it was the most comfy position she had even been in.

"I've been meaning to ask you," began George and Phoenix gave a soft hum in reply, "about your skate boarding."

"What about it?"

"I just wondered if you could show me how good you are," said George.

"Yeah," Phoenix said as she smiled softly, twirling a loose piece of cotton from George's blanket, "I can show you tomorrow in the Grounds, if we're not too hungover."

"Yeah," said George, yawning as Phoenix closed her eyes and her hair turned to her favourite shade of lilac, "why do you always do that?"

"Do what?" Phoenix asked, resting her chin his chest and looking up at him.

"Turn your hair to these eccentric colours," George said, using his finger to brush her hair softly, "you change your hair like crazy."

"Do you not like it?" she asked.

"No – I love it!" George said quickly, "I mean you stand out in the crowd at any rate."

"That was the look I'm going for," she said, smiling. "There's no point in being positively boring, I know that I have quite a boring personality but changing my hair makes me feel more interesting."

"Well you are extraordinary no matter what colour your hair is," George said, giving her arm a squeeze. "And you know you're not too bad being drunk."

"What do you mean?"

"Well Lee over there is being well… more Lee-ish than usual," said George and Phoenix laughed as they watched Lee try to put his arm round Alicia, who elbowed him in retaliation making him fall straight on his back, "And Fred and Angelina are being loud and obnoxious," he said just as Fred and Angelina began a loud chorus of You've Put a Spell On Me by some wizard that Phoenix had never heard of, Michelangelo Wolf, that was playing on the wizards wireless that Lee had foraged from his trunk. "And you're just quiet and calm. It's pleasant."

"I'm honestly not drunk enough to be weird but thank you George," Phoenix said softly, ruffling his hair, "That's the closet to a compliment I've even gotten from you," she smiled, before adding quickly, "I'm not boring you I am? I mean, me being this quiet."

"No, you're not I like–" began George but suddenly a new song blasted through the speakers of the wireless and Phoenix looked up at George, her eyes ablaze with sudden excitement.

"I love this song! It's the Weird Sister's new one, let's dance!" she said as she jumped to her feet and almost fell over in the process. She grabbed George's wrists before he could protest and dragged him to his feet, "Come on George don't be shy, you're drunk–"

"You're unpredictable," he said. "and I'm not shy," he added defensively as Phoenix rolled her eyes and began to dance a bit pathetically, moving her hands around in small circle movements, her small hands still enclosed around George's wrists so that his arms followed hers, he chuckled and he shook his head. "That is not how you dance Phoenix,"

"Well I don't see you doing much," she laughed. "Put some effort in!" she said exasperatedly.

George grumbled in reply and tore her hands away from his wrists, instead grabbing her hands and enclosing his around hers and then he began to guide her arms and move his legs in what looked like some sort of salsa dancing.

"What on earth are you doing?" she giggled, watching his legs move and trying to follow his movements.

"I'm dancing," he said, rolling his eyes, "and quite well considering I'm drunk and my head is spinning,"

"This song isn't exactly fit for this dancing though" Phoenix said, her eyes still focused on her and George's legs.

"You have to look up," George instructed, releasing one of his hands to move her chin upwards to look at him and then grabbing her hand again, "Just put one foot forward first and then the other foot after and sort of shake your hips a bit."

"Am I just shaking my hips because Lee is watching?" she asked in a whisper as she began to do as George instructed, her eyes focusing on his.

"No," said George, "it's just part of the dance silly."

"Who taught you to this dance George," she asked, "your Mother?"

George narrowed his eyes, "For once I am doing what you ask of me and you still find it prudent to make fun of me?"

"You do it!" she exclaimed, wishing that she had a hand free so she could flick him on the ear. George smiled; he seemed to know exactly what she was thinking.

"OH! Look at Phoenix shaking it!" exclaimed an overexcited and a considerably drunk Lee Jordan. Phoenix flushed, her hair turned a pale pink and she freed her hands from George's to turn to Lee, who was smiling dazedly at her.

"Lee," she said, her voice shaking with suppressed laughter, "You never fail to charm my heart sweetie pie." She stumbled over to him and sat on the floor beside him, George trailing after her.

"I have a knack for doing that," said Lee in a smug voice. "You know, charming the hearts of young woman across the world."

"You know," said Phoenix in a considering voice as George slid down onto the floor beside her. "If I wasn't a bit tipsy right now I would probably say something to defend the female population against that remark."

"George did you hear that?" Lee looked at him with glee upon his face. "She's warming up to me–"

"I consider you, Lee Jordan, to be one of my best friends; of course I already have warmed up to you."

Lee puckered his lips at her and leaned towards her, but Phoenix put her hand over his lips. "Easy champ."

By 3 o'clock in the morning, Lee had fallen asleep, his head lolling precariously onto Fred's shoulder, who was talking in hushed whispered to George. Alicia was hiccupping and laughing to herself as she levitated the last bottle of Butterbeer around the room. Phoenix and Angelina were sat on Fred's bed, talking, considerably more drunk than before.

"When I finish my drink," Angelina slurred, sloshing Butterbeer down herself. "I think I'll jump off the roof into the Black Lake."

"Don't do it!" Phoenix shrieked. "You're-you're a terrible drunk Angewina."

"I'm not drunk how dare you I'm the soberest person in this room!" she said, waving her arms over her head. "So…" Angelina slurred, flinging an arm around Phoenix's shoulder and prodding her cheek, "…you and George dancing eh?"

"What are you on about Angie?" Phoenix asked trying to keep her focus on Angelina.

"Don't call me that!" said Angelina, gasping as though Phoenix had done something to morally offend her, "I hate the nickname Angie, call me Angel… that was Fred calls me!"

"Angel?" Phoenix giggled.

"Shu'up," Angelina slurred, hitting Phoenix, much more harder than she usually would. "You are George were getting pretty into your dancing… do you… like him?" Angelina asked, her eyes widening.

"No," Phoenix shook her head, so fast that the room began to spin and she felt sick. "He's one of my best friends and we were just dancing."

"And you were cuddling!" Angelina whispered before she let out a belch. "Did he…smell nice?"

Phoenix nodded smiling at the red and gold hangings around Fred's bed. "He smelt like cinnamon, really nice aftershave, Firewhiskey and really musky…" she slurred, looking over at George who was laughing with his Fred as it seemed that Lee had begun to drool all over Fred's shoulder.

"Fred smells nice too…" Angelina said distractedly, also looking over at Fred, George, and Lee, "but he smells like – I don't know – like apples. I like apples."

"D-Does Fred know you like him?" Phoenix asked, looking now back at Angelina, who was smiling drunkenly.

Angelina grabbed Phoenix's ear harshly and yanked Phoenix towards her and then she whispered, "Fred's a good kisser."

"You two didn't kiss – did you?" Phoenix questioned her, wide eyed.

Angelina giggled, nodding her head and closing her eyes, "Wesnoggedrightonthisbed." She said, the words tumbled from her mouth in a whirlpool of barely distinguishable syllables.

And with that, Angelina fell asleep, her head collapsing onto Phoenix's lap.

"Great," Phoenix sighed, "Fred!" she moaned, waving her arms over her head.

"What?" came Fred's slurred reply.

"Help me!" Phoenix called, gesturing to Angelina.

"Oh right," said Fred and shot to his feet, rather quickly so that Lee's head came crashing down and smacked into George's knee caps. George swore, Lee groaned and gave a loud snore. Phoenix got to her feet more gracefully, lying Angelina down so that she didn't smack onto Fred's bed.

As Fred approached, Phoenix stood up on her tip toes and whispered in his ear, "Angelina told me you call her Angel and that you two snogged… shhh…" she giggled before stumbling over to George, who had now placed Lee beside a sleeping Alicia.

"Steady Pixy," George said as Phoenix collapsed onto the floor beside him.

"George!" she exclaimed in a whisper. "Guess what?"

"What?" George said, laughing.

Phoenix hushed him, casting a look over at Fred and Angelina, who were talking in whispers to one another. Phoenix looked back at George, her eyes wide in drunken exasperation and shook her head; she climbed onto George's lap, placing his knees on either side of his legs and holding his shoulders for support.

"What in the name of Merlin are you doing?" George asked, his cheeks turning to almost the same colour as his hair.

"George…" Phoenix whispered, leaning forwards to whisper in his ear, "…Fred calls Angelina… Angel…" she giggled, swaying dangerously and George held her waist with her hands so that she didn't topple over, "…isn't that funny?" She hiccupped.

"Y-Yeah," said George. "Hilarious."

"And…" She began, leaning back from George's ear and grabbing his shoulders firmly so that his face swam clearly into view, "…they snogged… on Fred's bed…" she whispered.

"What?" George asked and Phoenix nodded quickly and gripped his shoulders tighter as her head began to swim again. "When?"

"I don't know," Phoenix gasped, titling her head from side to side. "Probably when we were cuddling on your bed."

George's face flushed again and he coughed, "Cuddling? What?"

"Yeah…" Phoenix said slowly, "we were cuddling right? Angelina said we were… Why are you blushing?" She asked, smiling and prodding George's cheek, "Are you embarrassed Georgie?" she asked, "wait… do I make you embarrassed Georgie? You smell nice…" her eyes began to droop and she leaned into George's shoulder as she fell asleep almost immediately.

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