The Orphan: Book Three
Chapter One: Nightmares at Hestia's House


"Well?" Blaise asked, twirling around in front of the mirror where the two dressing rooms came together. "How do I look?"

Harry looked Blaise over, taking in the black dress that zipped up in the front and ended in a pink and gray plaid skirt about halfway below her thigh. A pair of black and white high-top converse that were currently tapping onto the thin carpet in impatience accented it.

"Well?" Blaise questioned again, hands on her hips in annoyance.

"Um . . ." At Blaise's glare, Harry hurriedly continued. "It—uh—looks good on you."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"And you're not just saying that so you can get out of here?"

Harry's eyes narrowed and he sighed angrily. "No, I'm not. It looks good on you."

"It only looks good on me?"

"The dress looks amazing on you, Blaise."

Blaise immediately perked up and smiled at his reflection in the mirror. "Okay, then."

Blaise disappeared back into the dressing room, leaving Harry standing outside with a dumbfounded look on his face. He desperately looked towards Heaven with a woeful, 'why me?' expression.

"Another dress Blaise was asking your opinion about?" Hestia said as she made her way over to him with a stack of clothes in her hands.

"Yes," the boy muttered glumly.

"Hey, Harry, don't worry about it. This will all be over before you know it. Now go try these on." Hestia shoved the pile into his hands and subsequently shoved him into a dressing room.

Harry groaned.

"Hurry up in there! We don't have all day, you know!

Hestia was rewarded with a series of sharp thumps that sounded like a head banging into a wall repeatedly.

THERE WAS ONLY SO MUCH OF THIS HE COULD STAND!

Harry was sick and tired of spending his days in high-priced clothing stores throughout London.

Though he had to admit that the range of fashions Muggles had was amazing.

But now they were finally through. It was around mid-July and Harry and Blaise had been staying at Hestia's house for only half a month, yet it had seemed like much longer. In this short space of time, they had managed to get acquainted with each other quite well, to the point that they were sharing prank ideas and trying to help Harry's and Blaise's bad fashion sense with some new clothes.

Harry cringed. He really didn't want to think about clothes right now. . . .

"Hurry up, already, you prat!"

oOoOo

Blaise scrutinized the stack of cards in her hands, before looking above the cards at her friend, who had on his best poker face.

Blaise glanced at her cards again. If she had had an ace, or even a jack, she might have had a chance of winning, but no—she was stuck with two fives and an eight of Wands.

Sighing, she laid down the eight of Wands.

—And the stack of cards subsequently blew up in her face.

"Yes! I won!" Harry shouted, doing a strange-looking victory dance that reminded Blaise of an Irish jig.

Hestia walked into the room with a plate of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, shaking her head at the Slytherins' antics.

"Don't tell me you two are playing Exploding Snap again? There are only so many times you can—" Hestia suddenly stopped speaking and erupted into giggles. If only Blaise knew. . . .

Harry saw where Hestia's eyes were looking and followed their gaze—straight to Blaise's eyebrows. He then burst out into laughter, falling out of his seat and onto the off-white shag rug covering the floor.

Blaise's eyes narrowed, and then she ran into the bathroom to look in the mirror. She could see that her entire face was lightly coated with ashes, but where her eyebrows had been . . . there was nothing left.

"YOU SINGED MY EYEBROWS OFF!"

Blaise came charging back into the family room, rage in her eyes and murder on her mind.

Harry ran.

An hour and a half later, Blaise still hadn't found Harry's hiding place.

The next morning, when Hestia walked to Harry and Blaise's room to wake them up for the new day, she found only Blaise in her bed. It was only after waking the girl up that she realized Blaise had never found wherever it was that Harry was hiding, so she set off looking for cubbyholes.

The first place she checked was the bathroom—but she found nothing. The next place she checked was her own room. He wasn't in the living room or the dining room, and the only place left to check was the foyer.

When she finally found the idiotic boy, he was still snoring inside a cupboard underneath the sink in the rarely used powder room by the foyer.

But by this time, she had had time to get an ice-cold bottle of water in hand so she could very easily wake him up. . . .

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! IT BURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNS!"

oOoOo

A half hour later, Hestia was sitting calmly at the dining room table, Blaise still in her pajamas and Harry fresh out of a very warm shower that had probably used up all of her hot water. This might explain why Blaise had decided to wait before she decided to take a shower, actually. . . .

Hestia took a dainty bite of a biscuit.

Blaise shoved a huge bite of scrambled eggs into her mouth.

Harry roughly tore a chunk of bacon with his teeth, chewing and glaring at the world in general.

Blaise giggled.

"Shut—up."

"I didn't say anything."

"Yes, you did. 'Hehehe' is a word."

"No, it's not. It's called laughing, idiot."

"Yes, it—"

"Oh, just shut up! Both of you!" Hestia interrupted, knife tapping her fork in agitation.

"Sorry," the two Slytherin-esque teens chorused.

Hestia whisked the empty breakfast plates away with a flick of her wand, grinning inwardly when Harry and Blaise groaned.

"No, you're done eating. Go get ready to go."

"Where are we going now?"

"Not more shopping! Please, no more shopping!"

"We're going to get your school supplies. If you had been paying any attention, you would have noticed your letters sitting innocently on the table before you."

The Slytherins had disappeared before she finished the sentence.

When they made their reappearance five minutes later, Hestia had received the Daily Prophet from a dangerous-looking horned owl.

"Ooh, anything interesting going on in the wonderful world of wizardry?" Blaise asked brightly, now dressed in decoratively torn jeans and a paint-spattered top.

"Actually, yes," Hestia admitted from where her eyes were practically glued to the front-page headlines:

SIRIUS BLACK ESCAPED FROM AZKABAN!

"Um . . . Tia?" Harry asked hesitantly, as the older witch seemed to be ready to have an aneurism.

"What?" snapped Hestia.

"Who's Sirius Black?"

Hestia's grip tightened on the parchment newsprint, and she looked at him incredulously over the bold headlines. "You mean to tell me that you have absolutely no idea who Sirius Black is?"

"Should I?"

Hestia sighed and set down the paper before rolling it back up. "I'll tell you about it later. For now, we need to get going! I'm assuming you have traveled by Floo before?"

"Who hasn't?" Blaise asked skeptically.

"You'd be surprised."

oOoOo

Diagon Alley was bustling with shoppers in brightly colored robes of all shapes and sizes, but there was something disturbingly different from the previous times they had been. People kept glancing over their shoulders and tugging children closer to their sides; WANTED: SIRIUS BLACK signs hung in shop windows, and everywhere you looked, grotesque images of sunken cheeks and maniacal laughter looked down upon you.

Hestia held onto Blaise with one hand and Harry with the other as they walked to Gringotts, which seemed eerily quiet when compared to the bustling alley.

Hestia requested to have a certain amount of money brought up from their vaults, which happened much more quickly than going down to retrieve it themselves.

"Quick and efficient," Hestia commented when Harry mentioned he didn't know it was possible to have the goblins get money from you own vault in a matter of seconds.

They exited the bank and stood among the crowds for a few moments before Blaise shouted, "Where to now?"

"Robes!" Hestia said so that the Slytherins could hear. "I swear Harry's have shrunk. . . ." she said more quietly.

Madam Malkin had Harry fitted for new robes in seemingly no time at all while Blaise rifled through their selection of fabrics and Hestia tapped her foot impatiently before leaving to get ice cream, with strict orders to Blaise for the teens to meet her at Fortesque's as soon as Harry had purchased his robes and not a second later.

Blaise then dragged Harry to the ice cream parlor, where she was sure a double mint, dark chocolate chip sundae was waiting for her.

Sure enough, Hestia was sitting under one of the brightly colored umbrellas outside of Florean Fortesque's Ice Cream Parlor. In front of one of the empty seats was Blaise's much anticipated and soon-to-be treasured double mint, dark chocolate chip sundae.

Blaise sat down heavily, giving a sigh before digging into her sundae. "I love you, Hestia," she said with a scary amount of reverence.

Harry collapsed beside her and didn't waste any time drooling over his own sundae (dark chocolate fudge with extra pecans and caramel) before steadily beginning to devour it.

Hestia grinned in amusement. "I love you, too, Blaise."

There was no answer as the two Slytherins inhaled ice cream instead.

A few moments later, when Harry and Blaise had realized no one was going to steal their sundaes, Hestia continued, "I think we should get you new trunks, with expanding compartments, before we go to get your books. You're going to need extra space now that you have more classes.

"Sure thing, Tia," Blaise said cheerily after licking her fingers clean.

After a quick goodbye to Mr. Fortesque and a short trip to a store that supplied magically expanding trunks for school students, they were standing among the tall bookcases that made up the décor of Flourish and Blotts, looking for copies of their schoolbooks.

The trio had easily found Intermediate Transfiguration, Standard Book of Spells, Grade 3, Unfogging the Future, and Ancient Runes Made Easy, along with various Egyptian, Roman, and Russian rune dictionaries. Basic Healing and Forgotten Arts: The Ancient Craft were a bit harder to locate, along with the books Harry needed for Arithmancy. Eventually, however, they had to ask the store clerk about the Monster Book of Monsters.

"T-t-two c-copies?" he had stuttered when they asked him about it. At their nods, he simply sighed and put on a pair of ragged dragon-hide gloves.

Blaise paled. "Um, what do you need those for?"

Instead of answering, the clerk went up to a cage at the front of the store that was filled nearly to the brim of vicious looking books, two of which were busily tearing the pages out of a third.

The clerk reached in with a cane, poking the monster books apart and scaring them in the process. He quickly reached in, grabbed two, and closed the cage again. As soon as the little metal door clicked closed, the books started attacking again.

The clerk (who's name was Brian, Blaise noticed after looking at the nametag) strapped a belt around each of the books and added them to their list of charges.

"I'll give you the belts free of charge," the Asian man said with a cheeky grin. "You'll need something to keep them from biting. Have a good day!"

They had barely exited the bookshop when Harry was accosted by a big, black mass of fur.

"Oh, isn't he just the most adorable puppy you've ever seen?" Blaise squealed, reaching down to pet the dog that was joyfully licking Harry's face.

"I wouldn't call him a puppy," Hestia muttered sardonically as Harry freed himself from the huge contraption.

"Tia, can we keep him?" Blaise questioned, pouting. The dog was now licking her own face and, if dogs could grin, smiling happily.

"What?" Hestia asked. That was one of the last things she expected. The poor dog was a stray! It probably had fleas and its fur more than likely infested with barwiggles!

"He can stay outside, and I'll feed him three times a day! I'll even groom him before we go to Hogwarts! Please?"

"I'll help her, Tia!" Harry piped in.

Hestia opened her mouth to refuse, but then she thought about it. The dog would be Blaise and Harry's responsibility, and she wouldn't have to fool with it. The thing might be fun to have around, too, after they gave him flea and barwiggle potion.

Hestia sighed. "Okay."

"Yay! He'll be good, I swear! And I'll name him Grim, which is a complete misnomer, but I've always wanted to name something a misnomer, and—"

"Alright, Blaise, I get the idea. But first, we have to make a trip to the apothecary for your potions ingredients and make a quick stop at the magical menagerie. Then we'll eat dinner at the Leaky Cauldron, okay?"

"Okay!"

oOoOo

Later that day, after eating the promised dinner at the Leaky, Harry was poking around with the bound Monster Book of Monsters, trying to find a way to make it calm down, and Blaise was leafing through their Forgotten Arts textbook.

"Why did I ever agree to take Forgotten Arts? This stuff is so difficult!" growled Blaise, flipping toward a section near the end of the book.

"That may be because you skipped the beginning, and that's what you'll be starting with," Hestia pitched in.

"Oh. . . ."

"Aha! I think I found it!"

Hestia and Blaise turned to Harry, who was proudly holding up a non-struggling, unbound copy of the Monster Book of Monsters.

"Now I can finally—" Harry was cutoff mid-sentence when the book clamped its jaws around his hand, forcing out a scream.

Hestia and Blaise giggled while trying to force it off.

oOoOo

Harry and Blaise were shaken awake the next morning by Hestia at the very early time of six o'clock. For the first time in their entire stay at her house, Hestia was completely serious.

When the Slytherins entered the kitchen half an hour later, Hestia was sitting at the table drinking a steaming mug of coffee.

"There's something I have to tell you, and I think both of you deserve to know," Hestia began. "Please don't rush me and please don't interrupt; this story is rather personal.

"When I was at Hogwarts, Lily Evans was my best friend. Yes, that was your mother, Harry," she added at the questioning look on Harry's face. "That was the reason why Dumbledore asked me to take you in for the summer.

"We were part of the reason why some of the Marauder's pranks were never carried out, and before you ask, the Marauders were the four Gryffindor boys in our year. James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. James was, of course, Harry's father.

"James and Sirius were best friends, and eventually they formed a common bond with Remus and Peter. You see, Remus had a secret. He was a werewolf.

"Now, Remus wasn't your ordinary werewolf; he was kind, sincere, and a very loyal friend. Luckily, James, Sirius, and Peter were, too. They became Animagi, which means they learned how to transform their physical body into that of an animal. I never learned their forms, but they had nicknames—James was Prongs, Sirius was Padfoot, Remus was Moony, and Peter was Wormtail.

"When we were fifth years, James developed a crush on Lily. She hated him because he had a big head, but he eventually evened out his ego and she agreed to go out with him. They got married practically straight out of seventh year; Lily became pregnant soon after and James named Sirius your godfather. That was when Dumbledore gravely informed them that they had to go into hiding.

"I told Lily before they went under the Fidelius Charm—a way of keeping their presence in a certain place a secret that's revealed only to the Secret-Keeper—that they should not make Sirius their Secret-Keeper. I told her it should have been Remus, but they believed Remus to be the traitor that informed You-Know-Who of Lily's pregnancy. Poor Remus was left just as friendless as he had been before he started at Hogwarts, and he left for the Americas soon after.

"After You-Know-Who's attack on your house at Godric's Hollow, Peter went to Sirius's flat to find him gone. He eventually cornered him and Sirius was angered. He killed Pettigrew and thirteen Muggles with one curse. All that was left of Peter was a finger.

"And that, Harry, is why you were orphaned that night and left with that scar on your forehead. Sirius Black was the one who betrayed your parents to the Dark Lord. He is the reason they are dead."

oOoOo

Zabini Manor was not very large, but it wasn't overly small either. The room she was in was decorated in whites and silvers—neutral colors. The bed was done in holly, with black velvet hangings. The windows had black velvet hangings as well, but they were open, letting sunlight pour into the room.

A woman was there, with flowing auburn hair and a pale face. Her lips were full; her nose slightly too long. Her eyebrows were dark on her fair skin, arching high on her forehead. But what caught her attention the most was a bassinet draped in white silk.

Inside was a baby, barely two years old, with curly auburn hair and big, bright, blue eyes. She was sound asleep, but the woman—her mother—was crying silently as she sang:

"Hush, little baby, don't shed a tear
Mother is here, now there's nothing to fear."

The fireplace on the other side of the bed glowed green for a moment before a woman with white-blonde hair that fell down to her waist stepped out, obviously trying not to interrupt the moment between mother and daughter.

"Narcissa," the woman with auburn hair whispered, not turning away from her child.

"Celaeno," the other woman whispered back.

Celaeno turned away from the bassinet, piercing hazel eyes gazing at her sister as Narcissa's own blue ones stared back. Blue eyes that little Blaise had somehow gotten. . . .

"I'm scared, Cissa," Celaeno said quietly, tears now falling heavily.

"I know, Aen."

"You will watch her for me? I know you have Draco, but I wouldn't trust her with anyone else—let alone Bella—and I can't find 'Dromeda—" Celaeno asked desperately.

"Of course I will."

"You know of my visions, Cissa, I know you do. Today is the day. I have written a letter—Blaise will grow up away from the wizarding world, from her home—I won't have her being a prejudice pureblood like us."

Narcissa nodded, taking the letter her sister handed her.

"Take care of her for me, Cissa," Celaeno whispered to her sister, taking the baby from the bassinet and handing her to Narcissa. Blaise was still sound asleep.

"I give you my word, Aen."

The scene was drifting out of focus, the room blurring as the flames turned green again and Celaeno went back to staring into the bassinet, now empty.

"I'll miss you, Blaise."