Notes: Finally overcame distraction and got back to writing this.
Never been to Kenmore, don't know if there's a used car dealership there. Artistic licence, yadda, blah. And this takes place in 2001, as we're choosing to ignore the whole 'ooh, this date was in '91!' thing, because '95 had awful fashion sense. So there. And--Dudley had a Playstation in the first book that was referred to as being kind of old. They did not have Playstations in '90-'91, let alone kind of old ones. Nyah. Oh, and--there need not be mention of the WTC bombing, though this takes place around that time. No disrespect meant, but it really doesn't fit. P.S. -- we placed Hogwarts to be somewhere in Tayside, Scotland, south of Kenmore. There's a lake and stuff.
Chapter Three - Bewitched, Beetled and Bewildered
"I can't believe this," Sinistra mumbled to herself for the twentieth time in an hour as she stuffed pair upon pair of socks into her trunk. "I'm a professor at one of the most prestigious wizarding schools in the world, at the top of my field...I'm also fifteen years old and am about to embark on a potentially lengthy trip with Severus Snape, Victoria Vector, and Sirius Black...good god, I'm a character in a badly-written wish-fulfilment story." She paused, frowning momentarily before moving on from socks to underthings. "I can't believe this..."
Though Dumbledore's inclusion of her in the newly-assembled Band of Buggered had sobered her faster than a bucket of ice water to the head, she was still in a half-daze. The headmaster planned to announce their going away to the students at breakfast, immediately after which they were to leave for their first destination, Inverurie. He had...neglected to mention their departure to the Ministry for fear they'd attempt to help -- something which rarely ended up as intended. Because they lacked the ability to Apparate, it had been decided that they would take the Muggle route of doing things, and drive.
"Why can't we take broomsticks?" Snape had asked.
"It's not going to be a short trip, Severus," Dumbledore, calm as ever, had explained. "It would be...imprudent to fly, even if you shrank your luggage. Trust me -- I'm saving your rear. Quite literally."
As no one else knew a damn thing about Muggle automobiles, he'd sent Black by Floo Powder to procure one, estimating the opening hour of a dealership to be around eight o'clock, which meant that, barring complications both there and at Gringotts, he should have been arriving back at the castle sometime around nine. The trip was dipping into the school's budget -- the car, petrol for it, lodgings, food -- but it had been agreed that it was worth it.
Sinistra topped her underthings with a spare cloak and checked the clock sitting on her bedside table -- half-past eight. She should probably put in a final appearance at the Great Hall. Who knew when she would see it again.
Before shutting her trunk lid, she glanced around the room to see if she'd forgotten anything, counting down on a mental checklist. Socks, underthings, toiletries, cloak, robes, boots, telescope, books, wand -- always good, that -- Floo Powder, star charts, money, Apparating license that means fuck all now... "Think that covers it," she said aloud, closing the trunk and locking it securely. After muttering a lightening charm, she hefted it onto her back, grimacing when she found that it weighed a great deal more than it normally would after such a charm. Bloody hell, Vic wasn't kidding when she said we weren't at full strength...
Staggering a bit and praying that she wouldn't end up pitching down all eleven flights of stairs from her tower room to the ground floor -- she wasn't the most graceful person to begin with, and the gawkiness of adolescence could do nothing but add to that sad fact -- she began her descent.
By the time she'd reached the seventh floor, her face was flushed and she was breathing hard as a Hippogriff in heat. Perhaps I should have quit smoking... Thinking death imminent, she straightened, allowing the trunk to drop unceremoniously on the steps before following suit, collapsing like a victim of the Jelly-Legs Curse. "Oh, come on," she groused. "If I'm a character in a badly-written novel, where the hell's my knight in shining armour whose supposed to come rescue my delicate ass from such gruelling work?"
As if on cue, two flaming red heads bobbed up the staircase that led from the seventh floor to the sixth, snickering and whispering conspiratorially to each other. Sinistra cocked her head.
"Oh, you've got to be kidding -- what the hell. They'll do. Oi, Weasleys!" she shouted, and the twins snapped to attention, innocent expressions immediately slipping over their features. Then they spotted her, spotted that she looked to be in no position to reprimand them, relaxed a little and made their way over.
"Professor Sinistra," said Fred (or was it George?), "what can we do ya for?"
She glowered at the identical grins on their faces, but was too tired to scold whichever one was the culprit of the lewd remark. "Care to help a damsel in distress carry this dastardly trunk down to the Entrance Hall?"
They exchanged a glance, shrugged, and went around to pick up her trunk on either side before lifting it up on their shoulders with the sort of easy strength that came with being a Beater.
"Good boys," she praised them, slowly getting to her feet. "Ten points to Gryffindor."
"Ta much, Professor S."
"Dumbledore told us you, Snape, Black and Vector were shoving off. Where're you headed?"
"The stone circles at Inverurie, to begin with. After that...I suppose wherever the wind takes us," she replied with a small sigh.
"Yeah, but -- how're you gonna stand being with Snape and Black for days on end, maybe months? I think I'd be a nutter after a few hours with those two. Granted, they're all right apart -- at least, Black is -- but together? Ouch."
"Oh, Professor Snape isn't that bad, once you get to know him," she protested, and was met with matching quizzical looks.
"So that's how she's going to manage it, Fred; she's already a nutter."
"And at such a young age, too." Fred clicked his tongue disapprovingly. "It's tragic, really. Almost heartbreaking."
"You're both horrible. Don't make me regret my earlier generosity."
"Aye aye, Cap'n."
"Our lips are sealed."
They made it down to the Entrance Hall where Vector already was, kicking her trunk almost lazily down the staircase opposite the one Sinistra and the twins were at the base of.
"Hate to leave so abruptly, Professor S.," said George, "but Mr. Weasley and I have an urgent matter that needs tending to. Don't we, Mr. Weasley?"
"Right you are, Mr. Weasley," agreed Fred. They both bowed politely to Sinistra and said in unison, "Good day, miss," before scurrying back up the stairs.
Vector's trunk approached, skidding to a halt near Sinistra's feet, and was soon followed by Vector herself, who arrived just in time to catch the tail-end of their retreat. "Those boys'll be the death of Filch," she snickered.
"Won't they, though?"
They stood dumbly for a few moments, staring blankly at the space where the twins had been.
"So..." Vector mused.
"So..." Sinistra agreed.
"I guess we should go say our good-byes to the students."
"Well then." The blonde stepped aside, motioning toward the doors to the Great Hall. "After you."
Sinistra started for the colossal dining room, and Vector followed a step behind.
Snape half-heartedly picked at his plate of eggs, looking up every so often to glare at a random student. The breakfast hour was winding down -- only five minutes left until they were meant to leave, and Black had yet to return from his jaunt up to Kenmore. Typical, he thought to himself, no small amount of bitterness in his inner monologue. Probably crashed the bloody thing within five minutes of driving it...
The students had cheered after Dumbledore's announcement of their professors' departure, though whether that was due to their commendation of the reluctant gesture of heroism or their happiness at being Potions master-free for possibly months, it had been impossible to tell. Snape's money was on the latter, regardless, and such was marked down in the betting book.
"Three minutes," Vector announced after checking her watch for the dozenth time. She drummed her fingers nervously on the table, and Snape stopped himself when he realised he'd been doing the same thing.
"Any last words?" Dumbledore asked.
"None that I can repeat with the students present," she replied. The headmaster gave her a gentle smile.
"I have a question," Sinistra piped up. "How many of you are virgins again?" She raised her hand.
"Selene!" Flitwick gasped, but chortled nonetheless -- and kept his hand curiously down. As did Snape. As did Hooch, and Vector and -- McGonagall?
"Minerva, you minx!"
"What? I was very mature for my age! I approached the whole thing very scientifically."
"Pfft," hissed Hooch. "Where's the fun in that? I don't buy it."
McGonagall blushed crimson. "Well...perhaps my curiosity wasn't strictly limited to the scientific..."
"Minx," Sinistra reinforced, and the deputy headmistress covered her face with her hands.
"I was an early bloomer," she muttered through a small gap between her palms. "Now let us never speak of it again."
Hagrid chuckled, his own cheeks pink from the conversation topic, and patted her consolingly on the shoulder.
It was then that one of the doors creaked open, and Sirius Black swaggered jovially through them, twirling a set of car keys around his right middle finger. He sent a wave Harry's way and strode up to the High Table, where nearly everyone was looking suddenly anxious.
"I trust everything went well?" asked Dumbledore.
"Splendidly, as a matter of fact."
"What did you get?" enquired Flitwick, all but standing on the table in anticipation.
"You'll see," said Sirius cryptically. Snape rolled his eyes.
"Well, breakfast is over now," said Vector, glancing yet again at her watch. "Let's see it, then."
The whole of the High Table, along with a few students wishing to bid their professors farewell, exited the Great Hall and headed toward the front lawn of the school.
At first sight of the contraption, most went slack-jawed, and Snape was the first one to voice what was most likely the thought running through everyone's minds.
"That. Is not. A car."
Black looked wounded, and rested a protective hand on the vehicle's hood. "Hey! This is a classic, I'll have you know."
"Um...isn't it a bit...small?" Sinistra asked.
"I don't think it's small in the least," said Flitwick, though his opinion counted for naught in that particular department.
"What's holding it together, spellotape or dirt?"
"Mr. Malfoy, do keep your comments to yourself," said Dumbledore.
"I dunno," Vector cocked her head speculatively, "I think it's a rather valid question."
"Oh, nice," Black grumbled. "We'll never get anything done, pessimistic as you people are. Just give her a chance, would you? Throw a couple space-making charms on her interior -- I'm sure between all of us we can manage that much -- she'll be perfect."
'Perfect' to Sirius was, apparently, a vintage Volkswagen Beetle covered in chipping rust-red paint -- or was that actual rust? It was difficult to tell.
"Well, I for one think it's a marvellous contraption," Dumbledore nodded firmly, smiling. "Waste not, want not. It will serve its purpose."
"Thank you." Black turned to the others. "See? Dumbledore's on my team."
There were a few somewhat awkward moments of silence until Vector shrugged and reluctantly took the initiative. "Well, come on, then. Let's slap some charms on her and get on our way."
It only took two of them -- Vector and Flitwick -- to get the enlargement charms situated at the appropriate angles and strengths, first for the inside of the vehicle, and then the bonnet, as the thing's engine appeared to be in the boot. Trunks were loaded, and within no time, the group was saying their good-byes.
"Send Hedwig in a day or so, eh?" Sirius asked Harry after wrapping the boy in a hug.
"Sure thing. Be careful, would you?"
"Always. I'm Mr. Caution Man."
Harry snorted and rolled his eyes in a very Hermione-esque way.
"Good luck, sir," said Draco, holding his hand out to Snape. "There's no doubt you'll need it."
"Indeed, Mr. Malfoy," Snape muttered, casting a glare Black's way as he shook the boy's hand. "Indeed."
"Do hurry back, Professor," Hermione said to Vector, then lowered her voice to a whisper, "I really don't fancy having to take Arithmancy with Madam Pince any longer than I absolutely have to."
"There, there," Vector sighed, patting the girl somewhat awkwardly on the shoulder. "Neither would I. Don't worry, though -- we'll be back 'fore you know it. I hope."
"Any chance of a hug, Professor?" a Slytherin seventh-year asked Sinistra.
"Not for all the Galleons in Gringotts, Montague."
"Damn. A handshake, then?"
"Well...all right. ...Montague...Montague, I'd like my hand back, please...Montague...RUFUS! I'll chew your hand off at the wrist if I have to! Thank you."
Within fifteen minutes, the four unlikely adventurers were piling into the car, which ended up having the same internal amount of space as a nice sedan. Sinistra had been voted to sit next to Sirius in the passenger's seat, with Snape behind her and Vector behind the only one of them who possessed the ability to drive. They were just about to pull out of the drive when two identical bodies hurled themselves on top of the car's bonnet, shouting for them to stop. Sirius drove about ten feet more before complying. The Weasley twins slid to the ground, windows were rolled down, and two mischievous faces poked inside the car on either side.
"You can't go yet," said Fred.
"Right," his twin agreed. "We haven't given you your going-away present yet."
Snape looked dubious. "Dare I ask."
"Here," said George, pulling something large, white and round out from behind his back. "We figured you might need one of these somewhere along the road."
"We even personalised it for you," said Fred. Indeed, painted in still-wet and dripping ink were the words 'To Professors Black, Vector, Sinistra and Snape: May Your Quest Not Go Down the Toilet. Good Luck -- Messrs. Gred & Forge Weasley, September 9th, 2001'.
Black grinned as Sinistra accepted the gift, holding it at arm's length and tossing it into the back seat, where it landed with a short clatter between a scowling Snape and frowning Vector.
"Ne'er has a finer toilet seat been presented," he said. "Our thanks to you, fine gentlemen."
Both boys saluted them before ducking out of the car and standing like Buckingham Palace guards as the Band of Buggered sped off down the drive, leaving their waving friends behind. It took all of two seconds for the bickering to begin.
"Bloody hell!" Sinistra exclaimed, bracing herself with one hand gripping the armrest and both feet against the dashboard as Sirius turned the car sharply around the curves of the drive, narrowly avoiding making it roll over completely. Next to her, Black feigned innocence.
"What?" he asked.
"A first-year could steer this thing better than you," Vector snapped.
"You think you could do better?"
"She probably couldn't reach the pedals," Sinistra smirked. "What with her towering height of, what is it now, five-foot-one?"
"Oh, and the three inches you have on me are simply staggering."
"As much as I hate to take part in this little snipe-session," Severus sighed, glaring at the female contingent of the group, "I have to agree; I, too, have an unwillingness to die in this tin contraption, let alone with you three -- Black, slow the fuck down."
Oddly enough, Sirius did -- to a ridiculous crawl. Out the window, Selene saw that an actual beetle was plodding along past and well ahead of the car.
"Oi!" Victoria exclaimed in protest. "Slow, man, but not slower than snails fuck."
"Bug off, Snape."
"You people are never satisfied, are you?" Sirius grumbled.
"What can we say?" said Vector. "We're insatiable."
Sirius arched an eyebrow and kept his mouth shut, as his brain was now lacked a considerable amount of blood. I'd forgotten this part of adolescence... he mused to himself. ...wait. No I hadn't. Wow. Remus was right -- I never did outgrow this part...that can be taken in so many contexts... He glimpsed the blonde in the rear-view mirror -- she was staring out the window, chin resting on her hand, squinting at the early-morning sunlight. She moved very suddenly, making a little disgusted noise as she rolled her neck and slouched further down in her seat, and Sirius jumped.
Selene frowned at him. "Black?"
"Nothing!" he snapped, then backpedalled. "I mean, yes?"
"...you are so damn strange."
In the backseat, Severus snorted. "Strange is putting it a bit mildly, don't you think?"
Sirius glared at him in the mirror. "Said the dungeon-bat who does nothing but skulk and brew foul-smelling soup."
"Oh, pardon me, Professor Black. How very strange that you hold that title, and yet you've been sent away after scarcely a week of fulfilling its responsibilities."
"Well, I might have started sooner had I not been so inconvenienced by a twelve-year incarceration. Being framed for murder wasn't originally in my life plans."
"You're right -- I apologise. You wanted to be the murdered, didn't you? Pity that didn't work out for you. I'd have supported it whole-heartedly."
"You have no heart, you slimy git."
"And you have no brain."
"And I have no courage, and Selene needs to get back home to Kansas," Victoria interrupted. "Give it a rest already. Hypocrites."
Selene twisted around in her seat to face the other girl. "Kansas?"
"Just click your heels together three times and say 'There's no place like home'."
"...right. I'm surprised you and Sirius don't get along better -- you're both damn strange."
"Bite your tongue, twit."
"Do it for me."
"Pfft. Get Snape t'do it for you."
The Astronomy professor's eyebrows nearly met her hairline. "Excuse me?"
"I second that," Severus snapped, looking appalled. "The only thing I plan on biting on this absurd quest is food, thank you very much."
Sirius' grip on the steering wheel tightened. "Must...not...make...comment..."
"Speak and you will be the murdered." Selene glowered at him dangerously, and there was actual, bullshit-ye-not silence for at least a couple of miles.
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
"Yes. Get out."
"Spoilsport," Vector mumbled, slouching further down in her seat in the still-moving car. "How long've we been driving?"
"Twenty minutes," Snape growled. He'd managed to wedge himself into his corner of the car, as far away from the surrounding people as possible, and had his nose buried in what looked to be an exceedingly boring book, though his eyes didn't appear to be scanning any words, and every so often he'd scratch at the same page he'd been on for the past ten minutes with the tip of the quill he'd been using as a bookmark. Vector sidled closer to him and tried to look over his shoulder, and he promptly hunched up even tighter in the corner and sent an acid glare her way.
"Whatcha writin'?" she asked.
"None of your business," he hissed, holding the book to his chest protectively.
"Is it a mutiny plan? Are you gonna take control of the car from Sirius? Can I help?"
"Possibly, perhaps, and no. When did you get so---"
"'Round the same time you got a broomstick shoved up your bum."
"Forever, then?" Sirius queried.
"Prat," Vector muttered, then turned her attentions to the Astronomy professor, who conspicuously hadn't contributed any cutting remarks to the conversation, and was squirming uncomfortably in her seat every few seconds. "What's up with you?" she asked the other girl. "Severus share a bit of his broomstick? Shut up, Black," she added before Sirius could comment.
"And you call me a spoilsport..." he grumbled.
"It's got nothing to do with Severus' broomstick," Sinistra groused, ignoring the Potions master's eyebrow she just knew was arching behind her and shifting again. "I need a loo."
"Already?" Sirius gaped. "Why didn't you go before we left?"
"I didn't have to then! But then I had tea at breakfast and..."
Vector didn't even try to hide her smirk. "Well, we've got a toilet seat and trees for miles..."
"Bugger that," Black put in. "Just roll down the windows."
"I thought that was your plan of action, not mine."
"I hate you all," Sinistra pouted, folding her arms over her chest and sinking down into her seat.
"Okay, okay, we'll stop," Sirius relented. "But no more tea for you. Ever. From now on it's only beer and coffee."
"Oh, vast improvements, those," Snape glowered, then scribbled something down in his book. Sirius frowned at him through the rear-view mirror.
"What are you writing, anyway?"
"Your obituary," Snape smoothly replied. "I can't be expected to spend this entire trip in reality. My sanity would rebel."
"Well, far be it for me to jeopardise that which you don't have in abundance to begin with."
There was a short spell of silence.
"...are we there yet?"
"Severus?" Selene asked.
"Do Vic's obituary as well?"
End part three. Part four: Inverurie, The Motel, and Muggle Clothing, w/pos. of Meanwhile, Back At Hogwarts... }:)
And...wow, the reviewer number is growing. We're just going to panic and thank all of you: Thank you! and hope you enjoyed this bit as well. Next part will be out sooner, promise.
Oh, and, little note to Silver*Chime, 'bout the booze thing: Again with the using of ourselves as examples. Maybe we're freakish and have unnaturally high alcohol tolerances, but at fifteen we could drink...a lot...and be fine (drunk, yes, but not ill-ew-sick-up-drunk). So we figure if we can do it, they can do it. :)