Damn You to Liverpool
Authors Note: thank you to everyone who has reviewed. hangs head in shame Sirius Black and the marauders and all things Harry Potter, still aren't mine!
In a cab, driving along St. Vincent save. Somewhere in Liverpool
"I don't wanna go!" Sirius whined in the back of the taxi, his arms folded across his chest petulantly.
"Be that as it may, your father thinks that this will be a good opportunity for you." Nikki told Sirius wryly "be happy, this way you won't end up working in some musty, grubby factory." As soon as she said this Nikki realized she'd said something wrong, Sirius's face had immediately closed up and he wore a dark scowl, which he was sending in her direction.
"What's wrong with working in a factory?" Sirius demanded crossly, leaning forward in his seat a bit.
Thinking quickly, she worded her response carefully "Usually factory work is the end of the line for person, it's not a very… uh… forwarding career." She glanced at him in the rear-view mirror and saw that what she said had not abated his resentment.
"My Dad works in a factory" he said in a low voice and glared at her with an intense dislike.
"Oh…" Nikki said as she mentally kicked herself repeatedly.
But Sirius wasn't finished yet "Two of my uncles work in factories, one of them is the manager of a factory!" there was such a note of pride in his voice that Nikki almost felt bad… almost. "And another one my uncles, uncle Jim used to be a factory worker before he went to jail; he'll be out soon and he'll probably go back to working at the factory, either that or he'll work as a mechanic for my grand-father. Working in a factory is a perfectly respectable occupation." He finished defiantly.
Nikki half turned in her seat to look at him "I'm extremely sorry for insulting your family." She told him seriously, he didn't reply but his glare lessened and he turned and looked out the window at the damp, dreary street that they were driving along.
Neither of them spoke for the continuation of the cab ride, finally the cab came to a stop in front of a small antique book store. Nikki paid the cabi and got out.
"Come on Sirius, this way" Nikki said uncertainly, unsure of how to deal with this child that so obviously resented her. He didn't reply but did as she said and trailed after her, scuffing his sneakers on the damp cement.
As Nikki opened the door to the musty little book store a bell tinkled above them, as she looked at Sirius while holding the door for him, she realized that she was going to have to try and fix the rift that lay between them.
"Sirius," she said gently, he looked up at her "Sirius, hold up a sec. I think we need to have a chat." Sirius just looked at her, his face expressionless. "I realize that we didn't get off to a very good start and so far our impressions of each other have just gotten worse and worse. What say you, to starting over? A clean slate?"
Sirius looked at her for several seconds and then with a dead-pan face said "Hello, my name is Sirius Black, I'm 11 years old." He held out his hand.
Taking his hand, Nikki shook it firmly "It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Black, my name is Nikki Campbell and I'm 27. It is my delight to inform you that you are a wizard." She said with a slight grin.
Sirius grinned back at her "the pleasures all mine, it's so kind of such a young lady to take me to buy my school stuff at that Dragon Alley or whatever it was you said it was called."
Nikki started towards the back of the shop; over her shoulder she continued her conversation with Sirius "if Mr. Black accepts, it would please me greatly to buy him an ice-cream at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor."
Immediately Sirius dropped the act in his enthusiasm for ice-cream "really? You would? That'd be great! Thank you so much!"
Laughing Nikki realized that first impressions could be extremely misleading, that Sirius was actually a very funny and very friendly boy. Nikki nodded at the bent, white-haired, old man who sat at the counter, behind an old fashioned cash register.
"Hullo Sam, may we go on through?" she asked him.
Tearing his gaze from the large tome that he was reading, he marked his place with his finger, he smiled at her "'course Nikki, you don't have to ask no more. I know your no muggle." He spared Sirius a small smile before returning to his reading.
"Thanks Sam, have a good day." Nikki replied already walking past the store-owner and into a small cramped hallway behind him.
She stopped at the end of the hall, in front of the men's washroom. Pushing open the door Nikki ushered Sirius in to the cramped space, he shot her a confused look but otherwise kept his mouth shut. Pulling out her wand Nikki approached a urinal, she looked at it for several seconds before tapping a white, stained tile three to the left of the urinal, muttering under her breath she moved her wand down two rows of tile and tapped another tile and then moved her wand and tapped the tile that sat five tiles up from the top of the urinal. For a second nothing happened and Sirius was just about to voice his doubts about her sanity when the tiles began to shift, crawling across the wall they formed an arch way and the urinal sank into the ground to give them access to what a large street sign proclaimed to be Diagon Alley. Nikki strode through unimpressed, but Sirius just stood there gaping in awe.
Glancing back she remembered that he was muggle-born and so with a smirk she called out to him "you'd better come through quickly, it'll close soon. And close your mouth before something flies in and lays eggs." His head jerked up at the sound of her voice, as if he'd forgotten that she was there, shaking his head and closing his mouth he shot a quick, half-hearted glare at her and then walked quickly through the archway and into Diagon Alley. Immediately he was hit with the wall of noise, the sound of people talking, squawks and squeaks, barking and roaring from the menageries, small explosive noises, bangs and pops as people apparated and disaperated, other explosions and bangs from spells and wands, made a deafening wall of sound.
"Follow me and stay close, it's quite busy here today." Nikki said loudly in Sirius's ear, making him jump. He nodded quickly, not able to say anything, so overwhelmed was he by all of the sights.
Nikki strode off into the crowd and Sirius hurried to follow, they twisted and weaved their way down the street until Sirius heard faint merry tinkling, that he normally associated with an ice cream van but in this case heralded a small ice cream parlor, with a number of quant tables with large, multi-coloured, umbrellas at each.
"What's your favorite flavor?" Nikki asked him bending down a bit.
"Um… chocolate? I don't really have one." He replied while glancing up at the menu which was crowded with flavors.
"Well then I'll choose one for you." Nikki replied cheerily "why don't you go and save us a seat?"
"O.k." Sirius replied and slipped away quietly to find Nikki and him a table.
Several minutes later Nikki appeared pushing through the crowd, with two large ice-creams, one was a mix of dark, royal purple and deep chocolate brown, the other was a mélange of lime green, yellow and indigo. She thrust the purple and brown ice-cream at him and commanded him to enjoy it.
"It's good isn't it!" she said sucking on her eastery one.
"mhmmm" was Sirius's only reply as he set into the darker coloured cone.
They passed the next several minutes in relative silence as they both set about finishing of their ice cream.
"Sooo…." Nikki said trailing off as she wracked her brain for a good topic of conversation "so, from what you said earlier it sounds like you have a lot of uncles… what are they like? Do you have anymore family?"
"Yep, my dad has four brothers and one sister" Sirius replied "I like Uncle Garry the best; he's the one in jail."
"Oh… is he nice?" Nikki asked a little shocked.
"Yep, before he was put in the slammer he used to take me to circus's every now and then and to these really nice places with ladies in bright costumes and feathers! Yep, Uncle Garry was definitely the best…" Sirius trailed off slowly, staring at his ice cream but not really seeing it.
"Well, we really should be moving a long now. We've got lots of places to go and lots of things to pick up, so we'd better get started." Nikki said cheerfully levating her both of their trash into a trash can. "Come on, first stop Gringotts!"
The two of them climbed the steps of Gringotts together, Sirius tripped twice due to the fact that he was staring at the mix of different witches and wizards that swirled around him. Nikki held the door open for him and he walked in, only to stop dead, his eyes following a goblin that was walking by with a plate full of rubies.
"Holy shit, those are the biggest freagin' rubies that I've ever scene! And that wrinkly thing carrying them is pretty cool to." He exclaimed in a voice tinged with awe.
The goblin gave him a nasty glare, full of loathing and muttered something that sounded like "filthy… dirty… stupid… wizard spawn…" Sirius just flipped him off.
Nikki glared at Sirius sternly "Sirius, you shouldn't use that kind of language and Goblins have the same feelings as everybody else. I'm sure you wouldn't appreciate being called a pink-skinned raisin!"
"A pink skinned raisin?" Sirius said skeptically "I like it!"
Shaking her head, Nikki sighed in mock despair "what am I going to do with you?"
They cued up and waited for a counter to open up; as soon as one did Nikki darted forward, dragging Sirius with her, beating a large woman with a sour face by a few seconds. She turned and faced the wizened, sliver haired goblin behind it and smiled politely.
"Good-day, my name is Vicetrap, how may I be-" he was cut off by Sirius snickering loudly.
"Micetrap? That's the queerest name I've ever heard, this world is absolutely loony! Completely bonkers!" he said loudly, Nikki cringed and opened her mouth to apologize.
The old goblin had adopted a long suffering expression on his face and continued on with his speech with a little more force "how may I be of service?"
Before Sirius could come up with a smart response to that, Nikki clapped her hand over his mouth and putting o her best smile said, "I'd like to exchange some muggle money for wizard currency please." She pushed the money that Sirius's father had given her, it wasn't much because he'd just invested in an old car that he was going to use for spare parts. Swiftly counting it up in her head she realized that there was only 47$. Sirius would never be able to afford all of his school supplies.
Vicetrap sorted the bills from smallest to largest and then piled the coins with the bigger ones on the bottom and the smaller on top.
The old goblin then opened a plain wooden box that was imbedded in the counter and counted out the right amount of galleons, sickles and knuts into his hand and then deposited the pile of coins in front of Nikki.
"Would that be all?" he asked in a nasally voice, glancing at Sirius with distain.
"Yes, that all. Thank you" Nikki replied, scraping the coins into a cheap money pouch that she had picked up earlier.
"Have a good day" the goblin replied in voice that said he hoped that they had the worst day possible and that a toilet seat would fall out of the sky and squish Sirius.
As they walked out of Gringotts, Nikki glanced at Sirius out of the corner of her I casually, to make sure he wasn't watching her as she slipped a handful of extra coins into the pouch. Withdrawing her hand quickly she opened the door for the two of them and they walked out into the bright sunlight.
"Don't think I don't know what you're doing." Sirius told her in a heated voice.
"I don't know what you-" he cut her off before she could even get half her sentence out.
"I don't need your charity!" he told her angrily, glaring at her from underneath his bangs.
"It's not… charity." Nikki stuttered, trying to come up with a decent lie. "It… it was a donation from Hogwarts… a bursary." Nikki ventured hoping the foreign word would throw Sirius off.
"I don't know what a bursary is and I don't give a damn! I can tell your lying, take back your money!" he told her stubbornly and then repeated "I don't need your charity!"
Nikki looked at the angry, resentful young boy in front of her and sighed "alright, I'll take it back. I'm sorry, I only wanted to help."
"I don't need your help…" he mumbled, but his voice was softer and he shot her a quick grin to show that he had forgiven her.
Nikki reached back into the bag and removed about a quarter of the money that she had put in. "There we go, its all your own now. In fact why don't you carry it, but don't even think of running off! I've got my eye on you." She said mock threateningly.
"Where do we go from here?" Sirius asked in confusion, looking up and down the street.
"Where ever you want to go Sirius, where ever you want." Nikki told him with a broad grin, gesturing to the street filled with bustling people in front of them "Diagon Alley at your service."