The entire Weasley family was smiling back at me from the newspaper clipping I held in my hand. "Remus look! Ron's dad won some kind of contest at the Ministry and they used the money to go to Egypt!" I said after I finished scanning the article. I handed him the photograph and watched his smile fade.
"Allison how long has Ron had his rat?" I peeked over his shoulder noticing Scabbers in the photo.
"Well I think Ron told us that his rat's been in his family for almost twelve years. He got it his first year at Hogwarts, from his brother Percy." I explained confused.
"I need to owl Sirius. May I borrow Apollo?" He asked speaking about my friendly barn owl.
"Sure." I answered as he turned away. "Remus! I'm going home it's almost dinner, Sev will be expecting me."
"See you tomorrow." He called absentmindedly over his shoulder. That was not Remus' usual demeanor. Whatever it was about Ron's rat that was troubling him must be a big deal. Remus and Sirius were my dad's best friends. My mother's best friend was a man by the name of Severus Snape. Together Severus and Remus raised me. Sirius raised my twin brother Harry. Our parents died when we were just babies, the night they died Harry and I somehow defeated one of the darkest wizards of all time. We were then separated for our own safety, and met again on our eleventh birthday. Since then we have taken on the form of Voldemort twice more. It was bordering on traditional. After leaving Remus' house I headed home. Not before talking out my enchanted parchment, magically communicating with Severus.
Sev, Do you know why Remus would be interested in Ron's Rat?
Is his rat by any chance missing a toe? I thought back to the last time I had seen Scabbers.
Yeah, I think so.
Could you do me a favor and invite your Uncle over for dinner? It seems I have made too much food for just the two of us, and I'd hate to waste it. Something was definitely going on with this rat.
Sure no problem. I turned around practically running back, my inner gossip getting the better of me. I bounded up Remus' front steps, knocked gently on the door, and swung it open before he could answer.
"Reemus!" I called through the house, "Sev wants me to invite you over for dinner. Said he made too much food." At first Remus looked at me confused. I waved the enchanted parchment in my hand to answer his unspoken question. He shut the door behind him and we headed back to my house. Growing up Remus would always visit our house, but the deeper Severus got into the Death eaters, the less practical his visits became. I started spending more and more time at Remus' house and I lived there during the school years before I was accepted to Hogwarts. Remus nor Severus ever locked their door the reason seemed obvious to me. The kind of people they feared would break into their houses would not be stopped by a simple lock. I pushed open the door to the house and the warm smell of beef and potatoes wafted towards my nose.
"We're home!" I smiled as we stepped into the kitchen.
The Plates were all cleared away and I was about to wash them when Severus took the stack of plates out of my hands.
"Leave those for now Alice." He smiled uneasily. "Why don't you go downstairs and work on some homework?" I knew what that meant, Alice the adults need to talk go downstairs so you can't hear us. I rolled my eyes.
"I'm almost thirteen years old! That makes me practically an adult!"
"Hardly. Alice please go down stairs. I don't have time for this. I have a meeting I have to go to early in the morning and I need to talk to your uncle. So pleased for the love of Merlin go." He answered as he pointed to the basement. I gauged the subtle tone of his voice with the weariness in his eye and decided it was best to comply to his demands.
"Fine." I stomped off grabbing a random book from the bookshelf in the sitting room, and trudged downstairs. There was no way I was going to do homework. I still had a month to complete it. I looked around Severus' lab. I technically was allowed to be in there but what's the harm? It's not like he would know. My hand hovered above the doorknob, and I practically jumped out of my skin when Severus called down the stairs.
"Allison stay out of my lab." Of course. I should have known he'd charm the door for intrusions. I signed and resolved to reading the book in my hand. I scoffed at the title, "Death Eaters, Are They Among Us?" By Rita Skeeter. The back cover told me it was a book designed to teach the average wizard how to identify a death eater. I sat on the floor and opened the book to Chapter One "The Dark Mark." Before I knew it, I was completely absorbed in the book. It could have been hours, or only minutes before Severus came downstairs. He stood at the top of the stairs, a low growl came from deep in his throat, I think he was trying to chuckle.
"Must you sit on the floor?" He asked. I lifted myself up from the floor, brushing off as a stood.
"Well I prefer to read on my bed, but I wasn't allowed upstairs." I pointed out.
"What were you reading?" He asked trying to read the title through my hands. It hadn't occurred to me that he might not want me be reading this book. I was supposed to be doing homework after all.
"Oh nothing really interesting." I said offhandedly trying to climb the stairs past him, but with a flick of his want the book was out of my hand and into his own. Another chuckle escaped his mouth.
"Surly you know there isn't much fact in this book!"
"I, I know. I'm just curious what other people think about death eaters. This Skeeter lady thinks she has it all figured out. You don't fit her profile at all."
"And how exactly does Reeta Skeeter classify death eaters?"
"Well you know, lonely, heartless…much more like Mr. Malfoy."
"I see. Would you like to come upstairs?"
"Yes sir!" I said with a huge smile on my face. I raced up the stairs and practically tripped on my Hogwarts trunk. "What is this?" I asked over my shoulder, stopping short.
"we're going to take that trip to Irland that you missed out on last summer." Clever Plan Severus, taking me to Irland is exactly the kind of thing that would distract me. I considered my options for a moment. I could insist he tell me everything he and Remus had just discussed, or I could just play along and ignore the whole thing. I decided on a plan somewhere in between.
"Sev, I'll go with you on one condition."
"Allison, I don't have time to play these games. What do you want."
"I'll go on the trip and I won't cause any problems, I won't give you a hard time at all, if you promise that when we get there you will fill me in on everything you know about Ron's rat."
"Alice…" He began.
"If you don't I'll just have to stay here." I assured.
"No absolutely not. I'll tell you everything, but if you set a toe out of line at any time during this school year, you'll be spending your next summer brewing potions. Is that clear young lady?"
"Yes sir!" I said cheerily picking up my trunk.