Beta-ed by the wonderful Anne Walsh (whydoyouneedtoknow) Here is Chapter One Revamped!
Disclaimer: I own nothing. JKR owns most, and Anne Walsh owns anything you don't recognize. This borrows from her Dangerverse but it's written for people who haven't read them as well.
Mate, you missed some freaky stuff today.
Oh, honestly Ronald. That's practically egging him on. It's not his fault he isn't here.
I never said it was his fault. Go write on your own letter, Hermione.
If you're sending this to him, we may as well make it both our letter. But he is right, Harry – you definitely missed some interesting stuff today.
Interesting? INTERESTING? Tickling the tentacles of the Giant Squid is interesting. Watching the twins prank somebody is interesting. When was the last time you saw eight people fall out of the sky Hermione?
This afternoon. Listen, Harry, while he's off being a prat in the corner – oh yes you are, Ron, do be quiet. Instead of staying at Grimmauld Place this year (honestly, I didn't want to go back) and instead of staying at the Burrow (purely off limits due to the wedding), Ron and I are staying at Hogwarts this summer. Well, to be accurate, not just Ron and I. Ginny and Luna and Neville are here as well. As well as Malfoy. Now Harry, I KNOW what you're thinking, and stop thinking it. Voldemort didn't attack.
Well, he didn't attack US. Now, mate, before you panic (and don't try to deny it, Harry, you tend to panic), nothing bad happened. Well…actually…something bad did happen. But…Merlin, how do I explain this!
Try letting someone who has an IQ over 1 give it a shot.
Was that supposed to be funny, Ginny?
I thought it was.
Well, no one asked your opinion, did they, Hermione?
While they bicker, I'll try to get a spare word or two in. Hi, Harry, how's your summer been? Ok, niceties over, we have a problem. What my brother was so unwittingly trying to explain is… we were sitting out by the lake ('we' being Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, and myself) when all of a sudden this freak storm hits. Before you jump to conclusions, Harry, we're not hurt, just shaken up a bit.
But it wasn't a natural storm Harry. It struck the willow near the lake, nearly tore its roots off. Lightning was everywhere, there was this bright blue light, and then…suddenly nothing. Except people hitting the ground at high speeds.
Here's your translation, mate. You remember when the Dementors swarmed the Quidditch pitch and you fell off your broom? Well, imagine what it would feel and look like if Dumbledore hadn't slowed your fall and that's what happened to these people.
We didn't get a good look at them, just enough to know they were rather seriously hurt. Well, Pig is getting pretty anxious, we should probably send him off.
What are you talking about, Ginny? Pig is always that annoying. Anyway, mate, hang in there. We'll see you real soon.
Chin up, Harry, you won't have to endure the relatives much longer.
McGonagall has been dropping hints about picking you up in time for your birthday so be ready. Three more days.
Hoping for peace and quiet around here,
Harry chuckled as he read the letter from his friends, watching Pig twit noisily around his room before Hedwig shut him up with a rather well-placed wing. The letter had just arrived by the tiny Scops owl that morning. His train of thought derailed for a moment as he looked at the calendar. The sun was just peeking over the horizon and the date circled said July 31.
He let a small smile lift the corner of his mouth. He was sixteen today.
Hastily he grabbed his trunk and popped it open. His school robes lay untouched at the bottom. His homework was done out of the sheer necessity for something to do in his torture of boredom with the Dursleys, so all his books lay in a somewhat neat pile near his robes. Grabbing his Firebolt, he laid that in carefully, followed quickly by the broom care kit Hermione had given him for Christmas three years ago. His new Muggle clothes followed – Tonks and (he assumed) an entire group of females (most likely including Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Fleur, and even Mrs. Weasley) had bought them for him, and they included several solid color t-shirts in blues, reds, greens, and blacks as well as pairs of jeans that actually fit him.
There were also some Wizarding World t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts that he knew Ron had a hand in buying. His favorites showed a lion ripping apart a snake, a small figure on a broom flying around a dragon, and a Seeker chasing after a snitch. He even had Gryffindor sweatshirts in several different styles and a bunch of jumpers.
Smiling reminiscently he put all his new clothes in his trunk, then chucked in the bag of the clothes the Dursleys had given him for all those years, which included the run down trainers with holes in them (Ron had mentioned in an earlier letter to bring them, something about a ceremonial burning of the trash). Tonks had been especially sure to hand him the brand-new black Doc Martens right in front of Dudley's greedy face, a sight which Harry had particularly enjoyed. In also went his quills, rolls of parchment, and ink bottles; the Quidditch strategy books Ron had given him; and several pairs of loose socks. Finally, lest he forget them, he wrapped the Marauder's Map in his father's Invisibility Cloak, set them carefully on top, and fastened the trunk shut.
Hedwig was already asleep in her cage so it was no trouble to shut it; she didn't even peek open an amber eye. Just as Harry was putting on a green jumper for the journey, the doorbell rang. He waited with bated breath until…
"BOY!" Uncle Vernon's voice thundered.
Grabbing his trunk and Hedwig's cage, he ran down the stairs. "Wotcher Harry," Tonks said, winking. Her hair was neon green today and spiky. Aunt Petunia looked close to shuddering just from looking at it.
It wasn't until Harry was out and breathing fresh air that he got a good look at Tonks. She looked… uncomfortable wasn't the word. Unsettled? Yes, that was a good one.
"What's up, Tonks?" Harry asked worriedly.
"It's been… an unusual couple of days, Harry." She glanced sideways at him. "But I'm sure you'll find out soon enough. Soon as we get to Hogwarts, I assume."
She threw out her right hand dramatically as she said this. With a loud BANG, a large purple triple-decker bus appeared. The pimply conductor, Stan Shunpike, wrung Harry's hand as if they were long lost friends.
"Hogsmeade Village," Tonks told Stan crisply, and Harry saw a flash of gold that meant a Galleon had exchanged hands. "And step on it, if you will."
The smallest girl lying in the Hogwarts Hospital Wing struggled to the brink of consciousness.
Lethargically she debated whether she wanted to wake up or not. Finally, with an effort, her mind snapped back into her body. And immediately wished it hadn't.
Meghan lay as still as she could, determined not to move. She could tell, just from the effort of concentrating, how sore she was going to be. Voices made themselves heard closer to her bed than she would have liked.
"I think this one's waking up," one voice said loudly.
"Ron, you idiot!" another voice hissed, thankfully softer. "If she wasn't before she is now."
If I ever get the chance I'm going to thank every deity there is for Danger's powers, Meghan thought to herself as she debated her next move. And then again for my powers…
She peeked her eyes open and immediately closed them against the glare of the sun through the window she was facing. And that clears the question of what time it is, for the most part.
Despite her instincts she wriggled a bit to get herself used to moving, then voiced her first thought. "Ow."
"Madam Pomfrey!" the first voice shouted, making Meghan wince. "This one's woken up!"
"You need to learn to shut up," Meghan told the voice without opening her eyes, her words slurring tiredly.
Somewhere nearby someone chuckled and stepped in front of the window, throwing Meghan into shadow. She opened her eyes again warily but closed them against her headache. She had already seen the form of Madam Pomfrey, the nurse, bustling her way next to her bed.
"How do you feel, dear?" the woman asked kindly, moving to help Meghan sit up.
"Like a herd of hippogriffs ran me down," Meghan answered tiredly.
Someone chuckled again and Meghan managed to lift a corner of her mouth in smile.
"Well, you certainly have your sense of humor back, if you had one before," Madame Pomfrey remarked crisply, but a hint of amusement crept into her voice. "Do you know your name?" she asked, holding Meghan's wrist to check her pulse.
"How old are you?" she asked while she lifted the girl's eyelids to shine light into her eyes.
"Thirteen," Meghan answered, wincing against the bright light. She blinked slowly and opened her eyes just as slowly, adjusting to the light of the room around her.
"Birthday?" Madame Pomfrey was checking her reflexes.
"June 1, 1983," Meghan answered promptly.
"Well Meghan Black," Madame Pomfrey pushed herself to stand, "You seem to be in fine health, apart from the fact that you hit the ground fairly hard. Drink this," she shoved a rather disgusting looking brown potion towards the girl. "It'll keep you awake and thinking clearly. Get up and try to walk around as soon as you think you're ready." With that the woman turned on her heels and strode away towards another patient at the end of the ward.
"Hi," said a voice, one Meghan recognized from when she had just been waking up. "I'm Ginny. I think these are yours." Meghan turned. The girl had flaming red hair, brown eyes, and freckles. She also had two items in her hands that Meghan was very much wanting back.
With a squeak she grabbed them, nodding her thanks to Ginny, and turned to set them on the bedspread and check to make sure they were all right.
First she snatched up the shining silver dagger, checking the edge crosswise with her thumb. Good and sharp. Excellent. The yellow jewels on the pommel glittered in the sunlight. With a satisfied nod, she tucked the dagger into the belt around her waist.
Then she bent and picked up her wand. Ebony and unicorn hair, she thought with content, eight and a half inches long. She ran her hand along the wood before tucking it into her pocket.
Pushing the bedspread back in order to sit cross-legged, Meghan observed her observers. Ginny, as she'd already noticed, had red hair and freckles, as did the boy standing next to her, though he had blue eyes and was quickly introduced as Ron.
"I'm hungry," Meghan said feelingly after a moment of awkward silence. "Any way I could get something to eat?"
Ron, who had brightened at the prospect of food, nodded eagerly. Meghan smiled and jumped off the bed. The room seemed to spin for a moment and she fell back to lean against the bed, placing a hand to her temple. Ginny frowned worriedly.
"Are you ok?"
Whoa, Meghan thought, backlash. "Yes," she said aloud, "just stood up too fast. I'm fine now."
And she followed the Weasleys as they led her towards the Great Hall.
Ginny watched their new 'visitor' quietly as the three of them, plus Hermione who'd had to be introduced, ate lunch. Ginny had run a few words through her head for what to call these people, 'intruders' and 'travelers' being among them, before she had settled on 'visitors.' After all, what were you supposed to call people who fell from the sky?
Meghan had said she was thirteen, but she was a petite thirteen, small and graceful. She had dark chocolate brown skin and long eyelashes that rimmed lively gray eyes. Her hair was in tight braids against her head, an indeterminable shade between black and dark brown. If it was unusual for a thirteen year old to keep a dagger in a special belt and to continuously press a reassuring hand to her breastbone every so often, she didn't show that she knew it. She acted quiet and polite, exchanging a few words between bites, but mostly concentrated worriedly on her meal.
Ginny was mulling over these thoughts, slowly chewing on a sandwich, when the doors to the Great Hall opened. She beamed and stood up to greet their newest arrival. Harry looked a little pale, a little tired, but most certainly looked happy to be back. He shook hands warmly with Ron and hugged Hermione and even Ginny herself, causing the redhead to blush slightly. He glanced at the newest arrival and lifted an eyebrow at his friends, a silent question.
"Harry, you remember the letter we sent you?" Hermione asked carefully, shooting a sidelong glance at Meghan.
"Yes…" Harry nodded slowly and Ginny watched as his eyes widened in understanding. "Oh."
"Meghan, this is Harry," Hermione told the younger girl, who shook Harry's hand politely. "Harry, this is Meghan Black."
Harry, to his credit, showed minimal reaction to someone magical having Sirius' last name. Black was, however, uncommon enough among magical people that he had to ask…
"Black, huh? Are you pureblood?" He tried to phrase his words so that he wouldn't offend, but needn't have worried.
Meghan shook her head. "Half-blood. My Dad is pureblood, but my Mum is Muggleborn." Absolute truth, she thought as she turned back to her meal.
They were finishing up when Neville walked in through the open door. "Hey guys," he said breathlessly as he came up to their table. "I'd hoped to find you here." He nodded in welcome to Meghan who smiled back. "I was just up at the Hospital Wing, and Madame Pomfrey sent me to get you," he said to Meghan. "She says some of the others are starting to wake up."
Meghan brightened visibly for the first time. "Let's go," she said, disregarding the rest of her meal. Ron looked miserably at his half-finished meal before allowing himself to be dragged off towards the Hospital Wing with the rest of the group.
Meghan was running ahead of them, but they picked up the pace when they heard her shriek. They discovered the source of the shriek as soon as they got to the door. Seven other people sat on respective beds, all looking tired and sore. Harry and the others went in and shut the door behind them.
Meghan was already in the arms of a woman who could only have been her mother. She had dark skin as well, and the two had the same braided black/brown hair and the same way of holding themselves. A light-skinned, brown-haired man with blue eyes next to them reached over and pulled the laughing teenager into his lap, tickling her even as he kissed her forehead. Finally, Meghan hugged a boy about their age, who visibly winced as his sister embraced him tightly. His dark skin was only a tad bit lighter than hers, he had straight dark brown hair like the man, and he shared Meghan's silver-gray eyes.
A different couple of about Meghan's parents' age sat next to the family, grinning at Meghan and hugging her as well. She seemed positively delighted to see them too.
She turned back to Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Luna (who had met up with them sometime on their way up) and beamed at them. Ginny thought she saw a glint of gold for a moment but it disappeared so quickly she didn't dwell on it.
"Guys, this is my Mum, Aletha Freeman-Black, my Dad, Patrick Black, and my brother, James Black." She indicated the woman, the man, and the boy (in that order). "And my Uncle John Gray and my Aunt Gertrude."
"But everyone calls me Danger," the woman, Gertrude (Danger?), told them with a sigh and a glare at Meghan who just grinned impishly at her.
The man Meghan had indicated as her Uncle John had red-brown hair that fell slightly over one eye and blue eyes swirled with brown. Danger had lots of wavy hair an indeterminable shade between blonde and brown and brown eyes swirled with blue.
Meghan's eyes lit up for a moment, as if she'd just remembered something, and she turned back to her aunt and uncle. "Where's the twins?"
"The twins?" Ginny asked.
"Our kids," Mr. Gray answered for her, "They're your and James' age." He looked around the Wing suspiciously. "Twins?"
"Yes?" two voices called out innocently and simultaneously.
"What are you doing?"
"Then get over here," Danger ordered, though her mouth twitched up.
Two kids came through the curtain. They both had identical auburn hair with glints of gold. One had such light blue eyes that they looked almost gray and the other had sharp blue eyes the same color blue as John's. Both had identical looks of innocence on their face.
"What did you do?" Danger asked suspiciously.
"Nothing," the twins answered again.
"Yeah, and I'd believe you too if I didn't know you so well." Danger put her hands on her hips in a way that demanded an explanation now. Something crashed behind them and all four adults rolled their eyes skyward as if asking for patience.
"Who goes and checks?" Mr. Black asked Mr. Gray wearily. Both men put their fists in the palms and pounded once, twice, three times. Mr. Black threw out a flat hand, Mr. Gray threw out two fingers.
Mr. Black swore under his breath as Mr. Gray punched the air in victory. Mr. Black went warily past the curtains; there was a yelp, another crash, then silence. Ginny snuck a glance at the twins and then did a double-take. She could have sworn that one of the twins had gray eyes and one had blue, but now they had blue-gray eyes, or was it a trick of the light?
As she studied the oddities of their eyes she noticed something else peculiar. Each twin had a vertical scar, about an inch or so long, across their cheekbone under their left eye. Confused, Ginny shook her head and looked to where the curtain was swinging again as Mr. Black came back through.
He was covered in glue and feathers and his eyes were crossed as he looked at the beak where his nose should have been. Ginny and the others erupted in laughter.
The twins, seemingly unable to hold it anymore, collapsed in fits of laughter, joined quickly by James and Meghan who were holding each other for support. Even the adults averted their gazes and visibly tried not to laugh.
"Go ahead," Mr. Black snapped at them grumpily. "Laugh it up."
As ordered, the adults gave in, and eventually even Mr. Black had to laugh.
Mr. Gray recovered first to wave at the twins, who were still rolling on the floor. "The boy is Reynard and the girl is Jane," he told Ginny and the rest.
Mr. Black had molted by then, his nose shrinking back to normal.
"Good thing you changed back, Dad," his son, James, commented. "You looked like…Professor Grumpy like that."
For some reason, this set the room off again. Ginny shrugged.
Hogwarts was quiet that night, its halls disturbingly empty of ghosts and persons alike. Mrs. Norris, Mr. Filch's cat, stood in one of those hallways, listening with sharp ears. All she heard up and down was the soft pad of another animal's paws inside the Hospital Wing, something like her own. A student's pet, then. She continued onward.
A figure whispered something, a sound like grinding stone, and the figure disappeared.
He was already there with his fingers running across the piano keys, not hard enough to make a note.
He didn't even turn around at the sound of cat paws on the floor. "Hello, Neenie," he said aloud.
If anything, the look the cat gave him would have been called a glare, as though its plan had been thwarted. He turned to look at the cat, grinning, and she leapt at him. He caught her, supporting her back paws, and she leapt to his shoulder to rub against his ear.
I hate it when you do that.
He chuckled and went back to looking at the piano; this time his hands sketched out a melody. Softly the chords trailed up, then down again, the last three chords, then repeat.
I know you do, Neenie. That's why I do it.
She hissed softly at him, as though in annoyance, and he felt the weight on his shoulder leave him. The bench creaked softly and he gave a deft wave without looking up. "Made a little noise on the landing. I give it a 8.5."
"Oh do shut up," she told him grumpily.
He turned to look at her, his eyes meeting the calico's eyes in her face. "Something the matter?" he asked in concern.
"Everything!" she snapped.
"Going to have to be a bit more specific, Neenie."
"This whole situation is the matter!" she snapped louder.
"If you want, I could always do the Trouble-Taking Dance," he said dryly.
Her eyes widened and she giggled softly. "Amusing as that would be, no thanks."
"Aw, come on." He jiggled an elbow into her ribs, producing another giggle. "You know you want to see me act like an idiot."
"You do that every day, Fox, why should it be so special now?" But her giggly mood didn't last. Her face fell and she stared at the shelves of books lining the room. Their pages, usually so intriguing, now seemed dull.
"Want to talk?" he asked softly.
"Despite popular belief Neenie, I can't read your mind," he said gently.
"Not over there you can't." She sent a sideways grin at him that he returned.
Neenie's ears practically twitched and the boy saw her head swing around towards where they had come in.
"We should probably get back," she said suddenly and made her way cat-like towards the entrance, he just a step behind her.
Madam Pomfrey, just closing her office door behind her, didn't even notice two tiny creaking sounds from the far end of the Wing where the visitors slept.
In the darkness, ensconced in beds separated only by a nightstand, the two figures ran two fingers down the side of their face, reached across the space between them, and pressed the two fingers to each other's cheek.
The castle fell into complete silence once more.