The Awkward Drive
Mrs. & Mr. Dursley with their son, Dudley Dursley, of Number Four Privet Drive were quite proud of their level of normal. They were therefore very ashamed of their very not normal niece, who stayed with them one week over the summer holidays. Siria Potter was about as abnormal as one could be. She was a witch, fresh from her first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and she was even considered abnormal there.
On the pale forehead of Siria Potter, poking out from her mane of uncontrollably messy jet black hair, was a lightning bolt scar. This scar marked her as strange, for it was from doing the impossible. At the age of one, she had survived the killing curse from the most powerful Dark Wizard, Lord Voldemort. Not only had she lived despite the many others that died, but his curse rebound and hit him.
Lord Voldemort was the reason Siria Potter sat, on a large brown trunk, with a snowy owl in a cage beside her, at the edge of the driveway of Number Four Privet Drive on the second Sunday morning of summer. He had murdered her parents, but not her Godfather. Siria believed that, as she had been told in Sirius's last letter, he was on his way to collect her from the Dursleys' at this very moment. She was, however, a little worried.
For at least the twelfth time this morning, Siria looked to her watch. Though there were three hands on this watch, none were for seconds. It had two very plain hands, which told the hours and minutes of the moment. The third hand was what was unmistakably the mirror of a wand with tiny engraved runes. This third hand had sat at 2 o'clock since Siria woke up, at five this morning. She knew this third hand to be her Godfather's location, and knew 2 o'clock to be work.
Just then, a very flash red coloured Austin Healey Sprite pulled onto the street. What Siria knew of cars, she knew only from what she had heard Uncle Vernon talk about or when she happened to be around while the Dursleys watched the television. This car though, this car she would know anywhere. Though the car's paint was perfectly and evenly shiny, it didn't have a single glare from the sun. The Austin Healey Sprite also looked as if it had just been washed and waxed, which Siria would be willing to bet a heap of gallons it had not.
As much as her aunt, uncle, and cousin were perfectly normal, her Godfather, Sirius Black, was not. Sirius, her namesake, was a wizard. Last year, when Siria had gotten her acceptance letter for Hogwarts and the Dursleys finally realized they could not beat the magic out of her, she had been allowed to live with Sirius. It had only been for the last three weeks of summer, but it had been the best summer of her life. This summer was now on track to be even better.
The Austin Healey Sprite pulled up beside Siria and parked. Siria was already moving her trunk toward the boot of the car when driver opened their door. She was in shock, but pleased to know her watch wasn't broken. Though it was Sirius's car, he had not been driving. A woman with blue and black hair in an asymmetrical bob with the shorter side shaved had stepped out of the car. He had sent Chloe—his "not" girlfriend and "co-worker."
"Oh," Chloe tsked, "that's quite a glare. He's got more business at the office." Siria said nothing. She watched the passenger door with her bright green, almond shaped eyes, as if Sirius were going to open the door and take off an Invisibility Cloak. As Siria had one packed in her trunk, she knew this to be entirely possible. It did not open. "He's at the office." Chloe said. She was talking a little slower than before, but, as Chloe talked faster than most people, it was really just a normal pace.
"Siria, it's Chloe. Do you remember me?" Chloe took her sleek sunglasses off. "We met last summer. You don't have to be shy."
"What's the password?" Siria asked in her clearest most controlled tone. She was not about to let anyone know how disappointed she was that it was Chloe and not Sirius. It was a silly thing to be disappointed about, Siria told herself; she would be seeing Sirius soon either way.
"What's the password?" Chloe repeated.
"I can't tell you." Siria told her.
Chloe hung her sunglasses on her shirt and pulled out her phone. It was the newest model—even more thin and sleek than Uncle Vernon's. She tapped her foot impatiently as it rang, and rang, and rang, and went to voicemail. "This is voicemail of Sirius Black. If this is an emergency, please hang up and call Chloe Causer." Chloe went on to leave of voicemail of several swear words, some of which Siria had never heard of, and she doubted they conveyed what Chloe really meant.
"One sec, kiddo." Chloe smiled and called another number. They answered on the second ring, "Moo—" whatever Chloe was about to say, she awkwardly changed into "Moment… A moment later and I would have killed Sirius—not really!" She snapped at the look on Siria's face. "Will you please tell that giant git that his goddaughter would like to know what the password is."
"I know what it is! Sirius said that even if I knew the person, not go with them unless they told me the password!" Siria shouted so loud, even the person on the phone could hear her clearly.
There was a quiet, friendly chuckle on the other side of the phone. "Alright." Chloe crossed one arm and leaned her head on the other, with the phone against her ear. She looked at Siria like the almost twelve year girl was a bomb counting down. "Sorry, what?" Chloe asked the quiet voice on the other end. "Ah-lo-ha-more-a?" Chloe asked. Her brow furrowed so tightly it looked like one line.
"Does that sound right?" Chloe asked Siria.
"Hermione would fight you, but it'll work." Siria shrugged. Chloe wouldn't be opening any doors, but she was a Muggle afterall. One couldn't expect her to get the spell, which probably just sounded like made up rubbish.
"Great!" Chloe smiled and returned her attention to the person on the phone. "Tell your wanker of a boytoy that I will strangle him, so he better be wearing a scarf from an old line." Suddenly, going back to Grimmauld Place with Chloe didn't seem like such a drag. Chloe had given her quite a few questions to ask.
Out of pure amazement, Chloe sore when she opened the car's boot. Apparently she had thought the trunk would be too small for Siria's things and was very pleasantly surprised. They loaded the school trunk into the car, and settled in themselves. Chloe asked if Siria had said goodbye, to cover her laughter, Siria faked a cough. Aunt Petunia had been glaring at them through the curtains the entire time Chloe had been outside, if not before then. Eleven years with the Dursleys had taught her that no words with them were better than any.
As it was sunny and the weather was fair, Chloe opened the top of the convertible. Once Privet Drive was out of sight, both of them attempted to start conversation.
"How was school?" Chloe had asked.
"Are you really not Sirius's girlfriend?" Siria asked at the same time. They froze for a moment. Siria couldn't talk about Hogwarts with Chloe. Muggles aren't supposed to know about Hogwarts. The only reason the Dursleys knew was because that's where Siria went, and where Siria's mother, Aunt Petunia's sister, had gone. Chloe laughed, with shaky confidence.
"I'm not Sirius's girlfriend. We work together." Chloe gave a smile that reminded Siria of a model on a magazine cover, but she wouldn't be distracted by white teeth.
"What do you do?" Siria asked.
"Just boring stuff." Chloe shrugged and pretended to be very interested in driving.
"Yeah. You seem less fun than I remember." Siria sighed. Chloe tsked under her breath. "I mean, your hair last year was way cooler too."
"I dyed the orchid to black to be sleeker!"
"To-may-to, to-mah-to." Siria shook her head.
"Shouldn't you be more interested in bragging about your friends and grades than why I dyed my hair and what boring adult job I do?" Chloe asked. She was no match for Siria.
"Oh, I get to do plenty of that. Sirius even boasts for me." Siria hoped aloud. It was true.
"I have a co-worker that will not shut their face about my hair being too 'loud'. Look, Siria, what Sirius does for work, for whatever reason, he doesn't want to tell you. Just trust him to tell you when he's ready."
"I have two very good friends." Siria told Chloe, very flatly. "Ron was my first friend, and we met on the train. He's pretty good at chess and likes sports" she had to lie a little. Ron was good at wizard chess, and they had met on the train, but, that Siria knew, he only liked one sport— Quidditch.
(Book: B2CH1 The Worst Birthday description of the sport, or any book's description of Quidditch, you've so many options)
Muggles weren't supposed to know about magic, and flying brooms fell into that. Quidditch was a sport, the best sport, and Ron liked it, so Siria would just have to hope it was general enough that Chloe didn't ask or else to move on too quickly for Chloe to ask. There was so much more to Ron, but, aside from telling Chloe he was already about as tall as his thirteen-year-old brothers, probably fourteen-year-old by now, Siria didn't trust herself to say more.
"Hermione and I became friends later. First, I tried to be friends with the other girls in my dorm room. Fay just seemed much more keen to find someone more outdoorsy. Lavender and Parvati really gossip a lot, and they never wanted to go see Hagrid with me. Ron went the very first week of school. Hermione is insanely smart— she's the smartest in our year. She got top marks in everything. Being so smart and so bossy, no one really wanted to be her friend.
"Then, on Halloween, we became friends." Siria knew she couldn't talk about the troll that almost clobbered them. She didn't want to talk about how Hermione had been crying because Ron said she didn't have any friends. That was not magic related, but was very private. "Which is good because Hermione makes us do our homework. Ron is so good at putting things off until the last minute that it had rubbed off on me a bit. Hermione got me back on track to doing my homework once it's assigned."
"Only two friends?" Chloe asked when Siria had fell silent for a moment. "Cute, little thing like you? You've got to have a boy or girl, or two." Chloe winked.
"I'm about to be twelve— people are mean, and this" Siria pointed to the lightning shaped scar on her forehead "is not helping." This scar meant completely different things to Siria and Chloe. Chloe believed it meant people were teasing Siria about her scar. Siria meant it made people outside her year and House point and gawk at her, like she was a tentacle of the giant squid in the lake. They weren't gawking to be mean; they were just trying to get a good look at "The Girl Who Lived."
"Sweetie! That is something I can do!" Chloe said with such pride that Siria could not bring herself to ask what "that" was or what Chloe could do. "Okay, so, no cutie you have your eye on?"
"If I had someone I had my eye on, what would you recommend?" Siria asked. There wasn't anyone, but she'd know for when there was.
"Easy! Go get them!" Chloe took a hand off the steering wheel to catch an invisible something. She sighed and returned her hands to the ten-and-two position on the wheel.
"Siria, if you find someone you feel you like, find out what they like. What sports, hobbies, and classes, and who their friends are. There are times where who a person's friends are will say a lot about them." She paused and glared at the traffic ahead of them. "Though, sometimes, bad people have good friends and sometimes good people have bad friends…"
"Okay, but, why learn that stuff?" Siria asked. It sounded like it didn't matter in the end.
"It's just good to have some common ground to talk about. If you both like football, you can talk about that. If you both like Literature, talk about that. It's really good if you can trade books." Chloe confessed.
They could not have made it to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place any slower. Though Chloe had been eager to hear if Siria fancied someone, she didn't seem to actually want to talk about it. If she did want to talk about it, Chloe had an odd way of showing it. The rest of the drive was rather awkward silence. Siria mostly just looked forward to returning to Grimmauld Place and waiting for Sirius, who remained at 2 o'clock.
Chloe, who had a key, let them in. She banged Siria's school trunk into the entryway and took one look to the stairs before letting go. "Sirius can bring it up, when he gets back." Chloe told Siria. It was all the same. If Sirius had been there, he wouldn't have carried the trunk up; he hadn't taught her "Locomotor" for nothing. "Okay. Let's go." Chloe told her. Siria just looked at her.
"What? Do I need another password to take you?" Chloe asked.
"Unless we're going to your very boring work, yes." Siria told her. Chloe opened her mouth. "You're a terrible liar." said Siria, and sat down on her trunk.
"Suit yourself." Chloe told her. "You're old enough to be alone, right?"
"Great." Chloe looked to her watch. "I'll go help Sirius finish the work, and we can all get dinner."
No sooner had the door locked behind Chloe, Kreacher popped beside Siria. The house elf levitated the trunk up the stairs, and into Siria's room. His croaky voice muttered under his breath. He seemed even more irritated than last time. She had a pretty good feeling why.
"Er… Kreacher," Siria took a deep swelling breath. "Would you like to sit down?" Siria gestured to her orange, cushioned desk chair.
"No" He croaked then muttered "Half-Blood offers Kreacher a seat. Thinks she can full Kreacher."
"Okay… so, last summer, do you remember how I was here?"
"Yes." He croaked, followed by "Half-Blood is thinking Kreacher cannot remember."
"I, that is. I found your… room?" She decided what he called it was not the point, "and there was a locket."
The house elf froze. Kreacher's usual look of being mentally gone had been replaced with wide eyes of interest. He looked at Siria, not at her feet or something behind her. For the first time, Kreacher looked at the girl of almost twelve with unmanageably messy black hair and bright green eyes.
"Right, so. I kind of put the locket on," she paused, expecting to be yelled over, but he was silent. "It's what made me collapse." He did not cut in. "So Sirius took it to someone, who…" there really wasn't any sugar coating it. "The locket is gone. It got magically melted" she thought to add "or something" because she didn't really know what Dumbledore had done to it. All she knew was that the locket was beyond repair, as there was nothing left of it to repair.
"The locket is gone?" Kreacher asked. He didn't sound angry at all. "Mistress and Master have destroyed it?"
"Y— yes. Um, is there— " She was going to ask how she could make it up to him, but he was smiling. It was a rather creepy smile, like if someone who had never smiled in their entire life was told to show their biggest smile and they only understood that meant to show all their teeth. Then Kreacher did something Siria had never expected, he hugged her around the legs. His large nose smeared bogies on her jeans and he wept massive tears onto her.
"Kreacher has tried— Kreacher tried for years! Master Regulus asked Kreacher to destroy the locket, but he could not! If Mistress Siria has fulfilled Master Regulus's order for Kreacher than Kreacher is forever in her debt!" He sobbed. Hesitantly and very lightly, Siria patted Kreacher on the back. She was not sure if he was relieved or furious.
Almost two hours later, Siria and Kreacher sat at the dining table with tea. No matter how many times Kreacher thanked her, Siria assured him that it was Sirius and Dumbledore who had destroyed the locket. No matter how much she protested, Kreacher was sure he was in her debt. This became even more true when she offered to make him tea— he had threatened to throw himself down the stairs and she ordered him to never hurt himself on purpose again. She had to settle for Kreacher making the tea, but it was probably better that way.
Kreacher had just poured her another cup when they heard the lock of the door turn. "Muggle." Kreacher grumbled and popped away. Siria sighed at the sound of heels clicking on the hardwood floor. Then she ran to the door at the sound a soft sole tapping after the heels. "Sirius!" She shouted and ran right into someone else in the entryway.
The stranger had hollowed out face and looked rather ill. He had fine age lines along his smile and crows feet in his eyes, which had deep bags beneath them. His brown hair was salted with white strands. Despite his hair, wrinkles, and various scars, something in his air felt like he had gotten these things rather early in life. Something about the stranger was familiar. It was as if she had seen him in passing in the background of a show and he was suddenly centered on the screen. He patted the top of her head, like Sirius had taken to doing.
"Where is Sirius?" Siria asked the stranger.
"We're bringing you to him." Chloe told her.
"What's the password?" Siria asked them. Chloe and the stranger spoke of each other with "Aloe-he-more-ya" and "Ascendio."
"What?" Chloe snapped.
"He got it." Siria told them. The stranger gave her a soft smile.
"It was very good of you to ask again. Sirius was hoping you would. I'm Remus Lupin." and he held out his hand. "Please, call me Remus." Siria took his hand and shook it.
"Siria Potter." She smiled at Remus.
"Yes. I met you, when you first born. I went to school with James." He told her, subtly confessing he was more than a Muggle with good spell pronunciation. Remus was a wizard.
From Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, the three took a bus to Cheshire Street and to very closed looking boutique. All of its lights were out and there was a sign in the window that read "Closed for Remodel." It's name was carved into a very polished piece of hawthorn wood above the shop; written out in curly, glowing green letters, it read "Moony & Padfoot" and Siria's heart was ready to burst. Remus told her not to worry about the Closed sign because he had a key. Remus, Chloe and Siria entered the boutique and the lights flicked on.
"Surprise!" Called the room.
"Sirius!" Siria shouted and charged into her godfather. She wrapped him into a grapple of a hug. He patted her on her head and placed a warm arm around her.
"I'm sorry I made you wait. I thought you could use some new clothes for summer and school, and thought this would be a good way to surprise you." He confessed. Siria was just so happy to finally be hugging him. She had just seen him when she was in the Hospital Wing, at the start of June, but felt the time apart had lasted too long. Seeing and hugging Sirius took priority. She had just hugged Hermione a week ago. Siria stopped and looked up at him then to her left.
Bushy brown hair framed the face of Siria's classmate, Hermione Granger. Her large front teeth were more pronounced by her ear-to-ear smile. Hermione rocked on the balls of her feet and looked urgently at Siria. She had a rightful look of excitement on her face.
"Alright," Sirius prompted, "I missed you too, but we brought Hermione and her parents all the way here. We really ought to get to business."
"What are we doing here?" Siria finally asked.
"Shopping montage!" Chloe shouted. "We've got the boutique to ourselves— don't worry, I've got an in with the owners" she spared Sirius a wink, "and I've got the latest pop hits." Chloe put her phone into a speaker and pulled up a playlist, which she put on.
Shopping montages were something Siria knew by definition and in passing. Dudley always had control of the remote, even if Uncle Vernon wanted to watch the news. She understood them to be a comedic device in romantic-comedies and chick-flicks, and had a very vague memory of seeing one or two. Though she was excited, she didn't know how to start or express her excitement.
"Thank you." Siria murmured, awkwardly at Chloe, while not moving from Sirius's side.
"Well, go on." Sirius gestured to the rest of the boutique.
"Come on!" Hermione held out her hand and Siria looked at Sirius, who nodded, before she took it. The girls went to the first rack and started rifling through. Sirius smiled to Hermione's parents and offered them a seat on a bench by the dressing rooms. Mrs. Granger thanked Sirius for inviting them and explained that Hermione mentioned it every day since she got the letter from him. He told them it was nothing and he was very happy they made it up.
"Sirius," Siria whispered at his sleeve. He looked down at his goddaughter. She jerked her head for him to come lower. "Can we get Hermione that accessory box?"
"You two can have whatever you want." He told her. She gave him a questioning look. Sirius smiled at Remus before his silver eyes flickered back to Siria. "I'm very good friends with one of the owners and he said you two could have the entire boutique, if you want."
"That doesn't sound like good business." Siria replied. He patted her messy mane of hair.
"There are empty two racks by the dressing rooms, you and Hermione can each claim one. You two can fill them with things you like and settle on as much as you're comfortable having."
"But we have to wear our uniform at school."
"There's still all of summer and there will be breaks and the weekend." He urged.
Part of Siria wanted to fill the rack completely, but a greater part of her felt guilty with each item. All her life, the Dursleys had complained about providing clothes for Siria and those had all been hand-me-downs. Sirius, as the bear of a dog Snuffles, had brought her a dozen or so outfits a year, and she had just received two boxes last year— one on her birthday and another on Christmas. He spoiled her more than Uncle Vernon's sister spoiled Dudley. Siria appreciated it, but didn't need to be given the world.
"Siria, please let us spoil you. Chloe, Remus, and I spent the past week arranging this. It would really mean a lot to us if you went all out. The owners would also appreciate your and Hermione's opinions. They don't know a lot of people your age, but love making clothes for them. We're hoping you could tell us how to make things better and why you like what you do." Sirius insisted.
"So it's okay to fill the racks?" Siria asked.
"We would all be disappointed if you didn't." He assured her. This was finally enough persuasion for her.
After the racks had been filled and the shopping loaded into bags and boxes, the Grangers insisted on taking everyone to dinner. Chloe, however, had slipped the waiter her card early on and told them "The look on the girls faces is more than enough." Siria hugged Hermione after dinner. Today had been almost as good as winning the House Cup, and completely worth the awkward drive.