I was woken by my phone ringing, about a month into the summer holidays. Groggily, I reached out of my duvet and grabbed the ringing device, flipping it open and pressing it to my ear. "Hello?"
With a scream, I shot up and fell out of bed, landing on my backside. I should've known. Who else would ring me at this time?
"Raimundo, do you have any idea what time this is?" I demanded, climbing gingerly back into bed.
"Yeah. It's 3pm." He called back cheekily. I groaned. Of course.
"Maybe there, but here it's 3am! And you don't have to shout, you know."
"Oh, right, sorry." He answered sheepishly, his voice now a normal conversation level. "So…we just woke you up?"
"Yes. I just woke up to you screaming in my ear, and then I fell out of bed!" I hissed. I could hear sniggering coming from the other end of the line. "It's not funny! Is that you, Maria?"
"Yeah, I figured out the speakerphone – just like you said."
"Well, now that I'm up…" I grumbled and heard giggling on the other end. "Who's that?"
"That's Alejandro. He won't speak right now, but he wanted to say hello. It was all three of us screaming it that woke you up."
"Oh, that explains the volume. Hi Alejandro!"
"And now he's run off again." Raimundo commentated.
I giggled. "So how's your summer been so far?"
"Alright. Mostly been dodging pranks. The twins and this idiot here seem to have teamed up to expel their boredom and I'm there favourite victim."
"Aw, that's only 'cause you react so much." I quirked a smile. I hadn't realised just how much I missed this – the friendly banter.
"Well, if you- Oh, mum's calling, I gotta go. See you later, Kimiko!"
"Oi, Maria, how do you turn off this speaky-phone thing?"
"Speakerphone." We corrected in unison and I could hear a button being pressed.
"There. Now everything you say won't be broadcasted all over my house." He announced proudly.
I grinned. I had missed my friends dearly, though just how much I hadn't realised until that moment. I had gone from a place where I was surrounded by people my age who were friends – real genuine friends – and where I could freely use my powers, to a place where I had only papa for company, and most of the time he was too busy, and was also banned from using my magic for two months. I could use my element and martial arts but it just wasn't the same as sparring. I incorporated it into my dance workouts but the thrill of the challenge was missing.
"Honestly, Raimundo. What are you expecting me to say that I wouldn't want your family to hear? I've met all but two of your siblings and your parents, but from what they've told me about them, they sound really nice."
"So, would you like to meet them?"
"I…what I'm trying to say is; would you like to come and visit? You can meet my parents, though Juan and Carlos are still abroad."
"I'd love to!"
"Great! We'll take the soonest flight we can to pick you up. Dad's crazy about muggle things."
"Why don't I send over my jet? It could pick you up at the airport."
"You have your own private plane?"
"Yeah," I mumbled, uncomfortable with talking openly about the amount of money I had. "So, what do you say? I can send it over today."
"Sure, we'll be waiting."
We chatted for hours after that before finally hanging up around five and I figured, I might as well get up now that I was fully awake. I told papa, the pilot and then, while the pilot flew to Brazil, I packed.
I left my Hogwarts trunk packed with the freshly washed robes folded neatly amongst the schoolbooks. I wasn't sure how long I would be staying.
A grin slid its way onto my face as I felt the familiar presence coming through my doorway. I turned to see Maria gaping at my bedroom, a look of longing in her eyes. Raimundo let out a low whistle. "This…is your bedroom?" Maria chocked out.
"Yeah." I glanced round the large room, seeing it in a much different way than what Maria was at that moment. "Trust me, it's not as great as it seems." I shrugged in response to Maria's raised eyebrow. "It gets lonely. The house is pretty lonely, too. Such a huge home for just me and papa, and papa's at work most of the time so it's just me."
"Our house isn't a bit like that."
"Of course not, it's not anywhere near as big as this and there's ten of us!"
I grinned at the siblings' antics and moved to pick up my bag. "As bad as it sounds, it'll be good to get away from here. I know papa means well but he is so overprotective that I'm not allowed to leave the house – not that I always obey that particular rule – and then it's just me for the majority of the time. It'll be good to have a little freedom." They smiled sympathetically. Maria was a free spirit and Raimundo knew as well as I did that you just can't keep a Xiaolin Dragon locked up inside. We lived for adventure. "And guess what? He's got the most security on my room; not his work, his games, but me. He should know by now that I can take care of myself, but video games can't!"
I went to leave the room, bag slung over my shoulder, when Raimundo's voice called me back. "Um…aren't you forgetting something?" I turned to see him and Maria eyeing my Hogwarts trunk.
"I wasn't sure how long I would be staying, and I didn't want to be presumptuous." I replied sheepishly and headed to pick it up but Raimundo beat me to it, Maria lifting Sakura's cage.
I lifted the wicker basket by my bed and headed for the far corner. "Hanabi? Come on, girl." The little black cat with tabby paws and patches round her eyes leapt into my arms and I placed her in her basket. "It was a Christmas present from papa." I explained, noticing the Pedrosa siblings' faces. "He wasn't sure how to send her to Hogwarts, so he kept her to give to me over the summer."
"And you named her after the Star Hanabi?" Raimundo smirked.
"It's Japanese for firework." Maria giggled.
Upon arrival in Brazil, we took a taxi to within a short walking distance of the Pedrosa family house, the Burrow. When it first came into view over the hill, I stopped and stared. Sort of like Maria did when she saw my house. It was fairly large, not overly so like mine, but large enough to be a cosy home for a family of ten with occasional guests. "Wow." I breathed, almost as awe struck as when I had first seen Hogwarts. One thing I noticed that made me laugh, was that it seemed as though rooms were added as each new family member came along, each on top of the last until it looked similar to the leaning tower of Pisa, but as a house. It was as if it was being held up by magic; which, I reminded myself, it probably was.
"You like it?" Maria asked, and I could only nod mutely.
"Come on," Raimundo grinned excitedly, him and Maria taking a hand each and dragging me towards the house. "Mum and dad have been dying to meet you."
The interior was even more spectacular. All of the mundane household chores – knitting, washing the dishes, tidying up, were being done by themselves. Also, there was a large clock above the fireplace with ten hands, each one marked with the name and picture of one of the family members and the labels had various names, work, home, travelling and even mortal peril. The hands of Raimundo and Maria swung from 'travelling' to 'home', where all but three hands was resting, those of Antonio, who I assumed to be Raimundo's father, Carlos and Juan, which all pointed to 'work'.
"It's charmed." Raimundo spoke up, approaching me from behind. "Everytime someone new is added to the family, a new hand appears, and if a new label is needed, it appears." Okay, now that was pretty awesome. "Come on, mum's in here."
He led me into the kitchen where a tall, rather plump woman was standing over the oven, wearing a floral print apron. Her hair was just like Maria's; long, brunette and straight, and her eyes were hazel. The siblings obviously got their identical lime green eyes from their father.
She turned and saw the two of us standing there and her face lit up. "Oh! You must be Kimiko! I've heard a lot about you from Raimundo." She pulled me into a warm hug, and it felt strange. In as long as I could remember, I had never been hugged by a woman. Her eyes flickered over to Raimundo, glinting with amusement before she spoke again. "And Maria, of course. From everyone, now that I think about it. You've made quite the impression on this family!" I blushed deeper with each compliment. "Pedro tells me you have an admirable work ethic; the twins tell me that you have a sharp sense of humour to rival theirs; Raimundo tells me of your skills as a Xiaolin Dragon; Maria tells me of how good of a friend you are; and there's Al – he doesn't stop talking about you!"
"Looks like you've got competition, Raimundo!"
"Shut up." The twins had appeared in the kitchen and were smiling innocently at a now quite red Raimundo.
"Now, now, boys!" Mrs Pedrosa chided, but her eyes gave away her amusement. "Why don't you go and play quidditch in the clearing?" She had apparently said the magic words, for all three's faces lit up immediately. "Oh, but I need you to de-gnome the garden first." This had the opposite effect.
"Do we have to?" The twins whined in unison.
"Yes." Mrs Pedrosa said firmly and the boys trooped out the door. I made to follow them, but Mrs Pedrosa cut me off. "Oh, you needn't go dear."
"That's alright, Mrs Pedrosa, I'd like to. I've never seen a de-gnoming before."
"Call me Carla, dear."
I smiled, calling over my shoulder as I left, "Besides, it sounds like fun!" I chuckled as I heard her bewildered thoughts. No one would expect a girl like me to be excited for a chore such as de-gnoming.
It was just as much fun as I thought it would be. It involved picking up the little creatures, swinging them round so they got dizzy and throwing them as far as you can. It turned into a competition to see who could throw the furthest but the twins quickly gave up and began throwing them at each other instead, as with our heightened strength and our abilities, which we used to propel the gnomes further, gave us an obvious edge. It ended up in a tie as we each got an even amount further than the other and we ran out of gnomes.
We trooped back in to get our brooms and Mrs- Clara seemed quite shocked at how much I seemed to enjoy it and had somehow managed to make Raimundo enjoy it too. The game was two-on-two and ended up with me playing chaser with Ricardo as beater against Raimundo and Fernando, each in their house team positions. I was nervous since Raimundo had the obvious advantage, having played this position before, but I was fairly certain I could do it.
It turns out I was right. The 'art of deception' as Omi put it was not to be underestimated and won the game for my team. Halfway through, Maria and Alejandro came out to watch and ended up cheering for my team. "Betrayed by my own family!" Raimundo would exclaim dramatically, pretending to swoon, so I pushed him from his broomstick and, but he caught himself – or, rather, he made the wind catch him, just in time. I smirked at the playful glare he sent my way and the twins high-fived me.
After the match, the six of us returned to the house for dinner. As I sat at the table, I spotted the twins whispering to each other, glancing often at me and I began to feel nervous. Were they planning a prank on me? I noticed that Mr Pedrosa's hand had moved to the 'travelling' label and soon flickered to 'home'. At that moment a tall man entered the house and my hunch was correct, he did have the same lime green eyes as his children. He too was brunette and his hair was just like Raimundo's.
After getting his food from Carla, he sat down beside me, seemingly not noticing until a minute later, he turned to me with a confused expression on his face. "Who are you?"
The twins sniggered at his abrupt manner and Maria and Raimundo looked as if they were stuffing their mouths in order to stifle laughter. Alejandro looked confused, Pedro looked…well, like he normally does, and Carla looked as if she wanted to smack her husband upside the head.
"Oh, I'm Kimiko, sir. Kimiko Tohomiko." I offered him my hand to shake and he did, a gleeful look lighting his face.
"Oh, call me Antonio." He waved off before he seemed to fully process what I had said. "Good Lord, are you really?" I quirked a smile; it reminded me of when the twins found out. "You must know all about muggles," began excitedly, I could hear Raimundo openly laughing inside of his head. "Tell me, what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?" He took a bite of whatever was on his fork and continued to stare intently at me, awaiting an answer.
"Oh…um…" I fished for an answer. Rubber ducks didn't exactly have a purpose, did they? They were sort of just…there… "Er… they…uh….well, they sort of…"
And so began my month at the burrow.
The rest of the summer passed in pretty much the same manner: an odd mix of chores and amusement.
I was right in a sense when I thought the twins were planning a prank on me – they were planning something, just not a prank.
The next morning, after breakfast, they pulled me aside and stood before the armchair that they had sat me in, the three of us alone in the empty living room, with rather ominous looks on their faces. "What's all this?" I asked guardedly, remembering the furtive glances and whispers of the night before.
"'What's all this' she says!" Ricardo grinned while Fernando produced a large piece of worn old parchment, folded, from his pocket and placed it in my hands.
I continued to stare at them so he spoke up. "This is the 'Marauder's Map'."
"Nicked it from Filch's office, first year, when we were so young…so innocent…" I snorted. It was hard to imagine them as ever being innocent. He grinned. "Yeah, I don't suppose we ever were… It's a wrench giving it away. It helped with so many pranks…" Ricardo trailed off dreamily and Fernando picked up where he left off.
"But we know all of the passageways by heart, so we decided that it was time to pass it down to someone worthy."
"And you chose me?"
"Of course." They smiled brightly. "You have the makings of a brilliant prankster. You can counter all of our remarks and usually beat us at witty banter. You're devious, smart, you've proved yourself capable of handling anything…"
"Plus there's that little stunt you pulled yesterday during the match."
I grinned. "You said it was a map," I turned the parchment over in my hands, but the entirety was blank. "So how does it work?"
"Can't show you now, I'm afraid."
"It's the law, you know."
"But you pull out your wand, place the tip on it and say 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good'."
Their eyes twinkled with glee: a promise they could keep.
"Once you've done, do the same but say 'mischief managed'."
"Otherwise anyone could read it."
"Those gits!" Raimundo exclaimed when I told him later that afternoon. "They never told me about it!"
"I guess I'm just special." I teased and he looked at me oddly for a moment before an excited grin spread across his face.
"Let's see it then!"
"I can't. It needs magic."
"Oh. On the train, then." And we went back to the training regime we had created…mostly sparring. It was good to have the chance for a good fight – using my element too! – after the confined first month of the summer.
Alejandro proved to be an adorably excitable little boy. He would talk animatedly at dinner, telling everyone about his day and telling me about pretty much everything.
It was a few days later when he asked me to tell him a bedtime story. I was shocked but no one else seemed to be. Once he was tucked in, he asked me for the story of last year and I was apprehensive at first. Telling an almost-six-year-old boy of the things I had faced last year? However, he finally broke me down with the puppy-eyes and a pout, so I went to fetch Raimundo so he could tell the second half of the years' events.
I had the full attention of both boys from the first word. Alejandro lay there in awed silence, eyes wide, and Raimundo watched me intently. I didn't quite understand why until he began to tell the rest of the story. It was fascinating to hear the story told as a fairytale, an epic adventure, rather than the way we recalled it to Master Fung afterwards. It was also heart-warming to watch the interaction between the two brothers.
"He's definitely much more comfortable around you than on the first day." Raimundo remarked as we closed the door on the sleeping Alejandro and headed down the hallway. "He must've been too shell shocked from being in your presence." He quickly ducked to avoid a fireball. "Seriously though; he adores you. He wouldn't have sent you that Christmas card if he didn't. Plus, when you're not in the room, all he talks about is you."
"Well, I am pretty adorable!" I teased. "Seriously though; I really like him – he's like the little sibling I never had."
A week before the end of summer, we were eating breakfast when an owl could be seen approaching the window. "Ah, Errol's here with the post." Carla remarked as she continued serving breakfast.
All eyes turned towards the owl as it steadily approached and we all winced as it collided with the window.
Pedro got up from his seat to get Errol, drawing attention to himself and, once again, Maria and I pointedly looked away from each other to avoid laughing at his hair, which he obviously hadn't brushed that morning. "Oh, it's our Hogwarts letters. Yours is here too Kimiko, Master Fung must know you're here."
"Of course he knows!" Raimundo scoffed. "He knows everything!" I nodded emphatically.
"He can't possibly know everything, Raimundo." Pedro rolled his eyes, shaking his head 'superiorly'.
"Oh no? You're planning a prank or taking a break from work or chores and you say 'what Master Fung doesn't know won't hurt him'." I picked up on the story next.
"Next thing you know, he's right behind you, saying 'what is it I don't know, young warriors?'"
"You, of course, say 'nothing' and flash a winning smile." Raimundo demonstrated this and, rolling my eyes, I took the chance to finish.
"Then he gives you his 'x-ray glare'." I gave my best impression of said glare to Pedro, who quailed almost immediately.
Maria sniggered; Alejandro giggled merrily; Carla and Antonio were fighting to – and losing – hide their smiles; the twins were rolling on the floor, laughing, and Raimundo and I sat back, satisfied, arms crossed and identical smirks on our faces. "We rest our case."
After breakfast we headed upstairs to change and gathered around the fireplace to go to Diagon Alley to get our school supplies. Though why we were before a fireplace I had no clue. Carla offered me a flower pot filled with some sort of powder. "Um…"
"Oh, Kimiko's never travelled by Floo Powder before, mum."
"Oh, then you go first, Raimundo, and show her how it's done."
He grabbed a fistful of the powder and stepped into the grate. "Diagon Alley." Green flames shot up around him and he vanished.
I flinched. Something about green flames unnerved me. Perhaps it was that they were unnatural, but I couldn't help feeling that I'd seen them used before, but in a much sinister manner…
"It's really quite simple, dear. Why don't you go next?" No one seemed to notice my discomfort.
"Uh… Would you mind if I tried something?" I asked hesitantly. I really didn't want to go into the green flames.
"Oh, don't worry. I know what I'm doing." I closed my eyes and started small flames from my fingertips, allowing them to consume my whole body, focusing on Diagon Alley.
The wooden floor of the Pedrosas' living room was replaced by flagstone and I let the flames drop.
I opened my eyes to see Raimundo with a flabbergasted look on his face. "How…"
I smiled. "Something Master Fung had started working on with me near the end of last year."
The rest of the Pedrosa siblings appeared, one by one, with Carla bringing up the rear with Alejandro clinging tightly to her hand. She looked extremely relieved when she saw me and I scuffed the toe of my shoe on the ground, sheepishly. "Sorry. I just couldn't go into the green flames."
Her face softened. "Of course. Green glowing flames was Wuya's signature." Now it made sense…
Se sent a smile my way before heading out of the Leaky Cauldron, Alejandro in tow and Pedro following dutifully behind her. Maria grinned and sent me a thumbs up before sprinting after them.
"That was amazing!" Fernando exclaimed as the four of us set off.
"Truly spectacular!" Ricardo agreed. "With that kind of power, imagine the pranking capabilities!"
"Oh, look – Gambol & Japes! Let's go ask mum if we can go!" The twins sprinted to catch up with the others.
"That was pretty cool – you just materialised out of the flames! D'you reckon all of us can do it or is it just fire?"
"I suppose you could, there's no reason why not. I'll help you if you want."
We continued walking some distance behind the others, chatting about anything and everything, completely draining thoughts of Wuya and the green flames from my mind.
After we bought our books and potions ingredients we headed to the Magical Menagerie to buy some food and treats for the owls and more of Errol's various medicines and bandages for his many injuries.
Inside we saw Clay purchasing something at the counter. "Clay! It's so good to see you!" Wait a minute… What was Clay doing in a pet shop? "What are you doing here?"
"I'm buying Rat Tonic for Scabbers. He hasn't been looking so good lately."
"My rat." Clay elaborated. "He usually stays at home – Jesse looks after him for me. But I think I'll bring him this year to keep a closer eye on him."
We said our goodbyes when Carla came to find us with a reminder that it was lunch time, at which the boys' stomachs began growling.
That last week passed in a blur of last minute preparations and soon enough, we were on out way to King's Cross Station in London. We arrived just in time and found Clay and Omi waiting for us.
Once we were on the train, we split up: Pedro to the Prefect Carriage, the twins to find Lee, Maria to find some of the girls from her year, and Clay, Omi, Raimundo and I were wandering the corridor, trying to find an empty compartment. "Why didn't you two get a compartment and wait there?" Raimundo grumbled as we passed yet another full compartment. Clay and Omi looked sheepish; clearly they hadn't thought of it.
We came to a compartment which was empty but for a man, curled up, seemingly asleep, by the window. "Come on," I muttered, opening the door. "Everywhere else is full."
"Who do you suppose that is?" Raimundo mused; glancing across at the sleeping figure slumped against the window.
"Professor R. J. Lupin."
He turned to face me, an astonished look on his face. "You know everything…" he murmured, then turned to Clay and Omi. "How is it that she knows everything?" They shrugged.
I raised an eyebrow, amused. "It's on his suitcase, Raimundo." I stated with a wry smile, pointing out the suitcase in question which was on the overhead rack, 'Prof. R. J. Lupin' printed on the side in block capitals.
"Oh." I giggled at his expression while Clay and Omi grinned.
The train had started to pick up speed, so I decided to let Sakura and Hanabi out – Sakura settled on the overhead luggage rack and Hanabi on my lap – and Clay too decided to let Scabbers from his pocket. With a hiss, Hanabi leapt from my lap and towards Clay, who grabbed Scabbers and held him to his chest protectively with a strangled yell. I grabbed Hanabi and she settled herself on my lap once again, Raimundo staring at her in disbelief – she had behaved like an angel all summer.
"Oh, show us the map, Kimiko!" We were all grateful for a change in subject and I climbed upon my seat, trying to reach my trunk.
"My two git brothers gave her their equivalent of the Bible." Raimundo grumbled. I smirked and was about to retort when the train screeched to a halt, tossing me back into my seat and the lights flickered off.
Omi peered out the window. "I think someone is coming aboard."
The air around us seemed to freeze and drain of happiness. A skeletal hand appeared from the corridor, pulling the door open to reveal a cloaked figure who glided into the compartment. The three gasps informed me that this creature was well known, and obviously not for a good thing…
It turned its head towards me and I felt… well, there isn't a word to describe it. I collapsed to my knees, clutching my head in my hands, shutting my eyes tight and shaking my head in an effort to dispel the sounds and sensations.
I sensed the man standing up and saying something, but I couldn't hear it over the screaming in my head. I knew it was in my head since it was female and screaming my name.
The feeling lifted and after a moment, I opened my eyes tentatively to see the worried faces of Raimundo, Clay and Omi before me. They helped me up and back into my seat as the man who had been sleeping handed me a slab of chocolate. "Here, eat this, it'll help. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must have a word with the driver." He left the compartment and a moment later the train began to move again.
The boys were still eyeing me worriedly as I nibbled on the chocolate. "What was that?"
"A Dementor." Clay spoke up. "They guard the wizard prison – Azkaban."
What on Earth were they doing here, then?
"Did any of you…I mean…were you…as…affected…"
"No," Omi answered simply. I wondered why he wasn't making a comment about how that was because I'm a girl and as such, weaker than them. "But Raimundo did go rigid and start twitching." Ah, that's why.
"That's when Lupin stood up, said 'you're supposed to be protecting them', whatever that means, and shot something silver at it."
"Dementors feed on fear and despair – they suck the happiness from you. Perhaps you and Raimundo are more affected 'cause you've faced more horrific things than Omi or I have, you especially, Kimiko." Clay supplied. I nodded grimly and stared out the window, mindlessly stroking Hanabi who was curled protectively on my lap and Sakura had perched on my shoulder. I soon saw the familiar castle and smiled.
"Miss Tohomiko, a word if you please." Professor McGonagall called me into her office just before the feast. I couldn't be in trouble already!
"What was that all about?" Raimundo asked as I sat beside him at the Gryffindor table.
"Oh. Uh, just to make sure I was alright after the thing with the Dementor." It was partially true, Madame Pomfrey had made a fuss but that hadn't been the main focus of the visit…
The Great Hall fell silent as Professor McGonagall entered with the first-years for the sorting ceremony. After that, Master Fung stood up to speak. He made the usual announcements – the forest and such – but there was no banned third floor corridor this year.
There was, however, an explanation for the Dementors' presence on the train. "The Ministry has decided, due to the amount of danger some of our students faced last year," All eyes turned towards the four of us. Our adventures last year were Hogwarts secrets so, naturally, the whole school knew and we soon found ourselves with many admirers. "that we need extra protection and so, until further notice, Hogwarts will play host to the Dementors of Azkaban." Murmurs rippled throughout the hall and I bit my lip worriedly. Those Dementors were to guard Hogwarts?
"So that's what Lupin meant." Raimundo mumbled. I sent him a quizzical look. "He said 'you're supposed to be protecting them'." I nodded in understanding.
Master Fung finished his speech by welcoming the two new additions to the staff: Professor Lupin as the new Defence teacher and Hagrid – well, Professor Hagrid, now – as the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher.
The feast was delicious, as usual, and soon the four of us were lounging in armchairs around the fire in the Gryffindor Common Room. "It feels good to be back here." I sighed happily, curled up in my favourite armchair.
"Yeah, it does." Raimundo agreed, slouched in his usual armchair too.
"How about showing us that map now?" Raimundo and I shot up at Clay's remark and I sprinted to my dormitory and back at full Xiaolin Dragon speed.
Settling, cross-legged, into my armchair once again, with Clay and Omi leaning over the arms and Raimundo the back, to see the parchment in my lap, I placed my wand tip on it. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." Raimundo grinned and then we all stared at the parchment as writing appeared on the front. "'Messrs Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs,'" I read, "'Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers, are proud to present the Marauder's Map'." There was a drawing of the castle beneath the writing and I opened the parchment to see the many halls of Hogwarts detailed.
"And there's us!" I looked to where Raimundo was pointing and sure enough, in the area marked 'Gryffindor Common Room' there were four dots, one marked 'Kimiko Tohomiko', surrounded by three marked 'Raimundo Pedrosa', 'Clay Bailey' and 'Omi Greensburg'.
"The pranksters' Holy Grail." I breathed before a grin broke out on my face and I glanced at Raimundo to see him doing the same.
Oh, the fun we could have with this…
I settled back into life at Hogwarts fairly quickly, though this year there were a few changes. We had taken on extra subjects and the first class of the day was Divination. I immediately began to regret taking it.
It wasn't just because I could hear Professor Trelawney desperately trying to think up lies to make it seem like she made more predictions than she really did. No, the subject itself is a whole lot of guesswork.
Professor Trelawney started by saying to Aidan, "Is your mother quite well?"
"I think so."
She 'hmm'ed patronisingly, "I wouldn't be so sure," and Aidan looked stricken.
She then turned to Sishi. "How about yours?"
"We're twins, Professor." Sishi replied, eyebrows raised and, flustered, Professor Trelawney turned to the next table, drawing her shawl about her.
Starting violently when she reached our table, she started stammering. "My dear girl…I have foreseen…you poor child…you are surrounded by the aura of death!"
Several students glanced fearfully at me but the four of us merely raised a brow. Later, she predicted that 'around Halloween we will lose one of our number forever' and the class looked sympathetically at our table. Clay and Omi looked unsure of what to believe but Raimundo and I could barely control our laughter.
The rest of the class was rather subdued when we trooped into Transfiguration but Raimundo and I were laughing hysterically and had been since we left Trelawney's classroom. I think the rest of the class thought we were in shock.
After ten minutes of a distracted class and Raimundo sporadically breaking out into chuckles and I giggles, Professor McGonagall stood before the class, hands twitching as if she longed to place them on her hips. "What on Earth has gotten into my third-years today?"
Sarah tentatively raised her hand. "Please Professor, we've just had our first Divination lesson and-"
Professor McGonagall rolled her eyes. "Of course. So, which one of will be dying this year?"
The class looked astonished but it set Raimundo and I off again. "Me, Professor." I managed, my stomach beginning to hurt.
"It is Professor Trelawney's way of welcoming a new class – predicting someone's death." The bell rang for lunch and Professor McGonagall called out over the shuffling of bags and scraping of chairs, "Ten inches on the spell and its effects and uses. Oh, and Miss Tohomiko, dying will not excuse you." I grinned as I left.
After lunch, we headed down to Hagrid's Hut for Care of Magical Creatures. "I'm just saying, maybe you should be a little more careful this year."
"Come on, Clay, you heard her thoughts – she was making it up!" Raimundo scoffed.
"Yeah, but some were real." Clay argued back.
"If you ask me, Divination is a rather woolly discipline – a whole lot of guesswork. Now, Ancient Runes – that's a fascinating subject."
"Hang on. Ancient Runes is on at the same time as Divination – you'd have to be in two places at once!"
"Don't be silly, Raimundo." I scoffed. "How could anyone be in two places at once?" I was worried that he would figure it out but he seemed to accept it. Phew.
Beside Hagrid's Hut he was waiting to take us into the forest for a 'really interesting lesson'. Stopping at a small clearing, he made some sort of call and a Hippogriff flew down and landed beside him. "Say hello to Buckbeak. Isn't he beautiful?" Hagrid announced proudly and I agreed. I had never seen a Hippogriff outside of books before.
"Uh, Hagrid, what exactly is that?"
"That, Clay, is a Hippogriff. Very intelligent creatures, and very proud too. You do not want to insult a Hippogriff." Hagrid warned. "Who wants to come and pet him?"
Everyone but the four of us took a large step back. I stepped forward, eager to see one up close. "Ah, Kimiko. Alright, come a little closer – stop there. Now, bow slowly, keeping eye contact." I followed Hagrid's instructions and soon Buckbeak bowed back and allowed me to stroke his beak. "Well done! I reckon he'll let you ride him now."
"What?" I asked flatly and turned to protest, only to find myself several feet from the ground. "Hey! Hagrid!" I could hear Raimundo's sniggering as I continued to yell, feet flailing, and I shot him a glare as Hagrid placed me on Buckbeak's back with a warning not to pull out any of his feathers and slapped his flank. Buckbeak charged forward and into the sky and, as soon as I was in the air, I relaxed. It had always had that effect on me.
When Buckbeak landed back in the clearing I slid off to applause from my fellow Gryffindors. "Well done! How am I doing on my first day?" Hagrid asked in an undertone.
"Brilliant, Professor!" He grinned widely, blushing.
Several students emitted squeaks of protest and I turned to see Jack Spicer pushing his way through the crowd of students, scowling. …Or at least, attempting to… "You're not dangerous at all, are you? You great ugly brute!" He sneered.
"No!" Hagrid and I shouted.
Buckbeak reared and swiped at Jack with his front claws, who dropped to the ground, whimpering, "It's killed me!"
"Calm down, it's just a scratch." Raimundo rolled his eyes.
Hagrid lifted Jack and ran off towards the castle.
"Idiot." I muttered darkly, collecting my bag, books and robes with jerky movements to vent my frustration. "Hagrid warned us that they're proud creatures and not to insult them." The Gryffindors murmured their agreement as I stormed out of the forest, the boys exchanging glances before hurrying to catch up with me.
Our first Defence lesson with Professor Lupin a few days later went much better.
Spicer had his arm in a sling and was constantly complaining of the pain – the idiot doesn't feel anything! It's completely healed – I checked! – and muttering darkly about how his father was going to make 'the oaf and his bloody chicken' pay.
Professor Lupin led us to the Staff Room where there was a boggart – the creature we were studying – in the wardrobe. Professor Snape was in there and he left reluctantly, making a snide remark about Aidan's abilities as he went.
"Right, so who can tell me what a boggart is? Miss Tohomiko?"
I lowered my hand as I answered. "Boggarts are shape shifters – they change into whatever a person fears most."
"Yes, that's what makes them so terrifying." Not to mention difficult to beat. "The incantation is 'riddikulus'." We recited it until all could pronounce it properly. "Alright, you first, Aidan. What is it you fear most?"
"Professor Snape." He mumbled.
Professor Lupin chuckled. "He frightens all." The rest of the class chuckled at that. "Now, when that boggart comes out, here is what I want you to do." He leant in and whispered so quietly that even the four of us couldn't hear it.
"Ready?" Aidan nodded and Professor Lupin opened the wardrobe.
Professor Snape stalked out and fixed his trademark glare on Aidan. "R-riddikulus!"
Snape stumbled backwards as a floral print dress appeared on him, a sunhat on his head and a bag over his shoulder. The class roared with laughter.
"Oh!" Sishi gasped, her jaw dropping open in recognition.
"What is it?" I whispered.
"It's our mother's clothes!" She whispered back and we both dissolved into giggles.
Professor Lupin had told Aidan to imagine Professor Snape in his mother's clothes! I think Fernando and Ricardo are going to have a new favourite teacher by the end of the year!
One by one the class faced the boggart as it transformed itself into their worst fears: for Omi – a squirrel, for Raimundo – a jellyfish, for Clay – his grandmother trying to kiss him. She had chased him around the classroom for a good minute before Clay pulled himself together, stopped yelling and cast the spell. Raimundo and I were on the floor in stitches.
Thank God we don't have Defence with the Slytherins!
When it was my turn, Professor Lupin called the boggart to himself with a panicked look on his face. It turned into what looked like the moon…a full moon… After he cast the spell, he called out, "You finish it, Aidan."
Aidan stepped forward and raised his wand. "Riddikulus." As the class exploded into laughter once again, the boggart disappeared in a puff of smoke.
We finished the class then and went down to dinner but I was a little disappointed that Professor Lupin hadn't let me have a go at the boggart. Did he think I couldn't handle it?
That weekend was my first Hogsmeade weekend. Third-years and above were permitted to visit the neighbouring village of Hogsmeade – the only completely wizarding settlement in Britain – as long as you had your permission slip signed, which papa had, the first day of summer.
There was Honeydukes – the best sweetshop I had ever seen, The Three Broomsticks – where they sold butterbeer, Zonko's – the joke shop and the Shrieking Shack – supposedly the most haunted building in Britain.
The only downside; in order to get there you had to pass the Dementors and they made me shiver every time.
Days passed and before I knew it, it was Halloween again. In Divination we had moved on from tea leaves to crystal balls. Not that either was exactly accurate. Professor Trelawney continued to predict my death at least three times a week but Raimundo and I no longer found it amusing. Now it was getting tiresome.
She approached and I kicked Raimundo underneath the table. We had formed a habit of catching up on our sleep in Divination as we were pretty tired with extra subjects, Xiaolin training three nights a week and Quidditch practice. We only had the weekends off which we used for homework and since we were approaching our first match, we were training harder and longer.
"Can I try?" She seemed to buy my faked enthusiasm despite Raimundo's snigger. "The grim. Possibly." I rolled my eyes, my voice dripping with sarcasm and this time, she caught on.
"My dear girl, from the moment you walked into my classroom, I could tell that you do not possess the sight." This only earned her eight raised eyebrows. That old bat! How dare she? She knew nothing about me!
I stood up, expression calm but my eyes blazing and I inwardly cracked a smile when her eyes widened. Then I stormed out of that classroom and never looked back. Well, that must make her happy, one of her 'predictions' came true.
"This year we're going to win – I know it. We have the best team! We should've won last year but due to circumstances beyond our control…" Wood trailed off in his pre-match pep-talk and I squirmed in my seat in the changing rooms. It was my fault we hadn't won last year. I had let myself get kidnapped and then the match got cancelled…
"Nobody blames you, Kimiko." Raimundo reassured, flashing me a quick smile.
"Of course not, it wasn't your fault!" The team nodded in agreement and I grinned.
We were playing Hufflepuff and I was up against sixth-year Cedric Diggory. Although he was older and therefore had more experience, I had the advantage since I was smaller, lighter and speedier. Plus, I could still see relatively well despite the storm, due to my heightened senses and the shield I set up around my face to evaporate any rain that got within three inches.
Once the game started, I relied on my mind link and sense of hearing to tell me what was going on in the rest of the game, as I focused on scanning for the snitch. We were 140 points to 0 when it happened.
The icy feeling pervaded the air and I felt myself fill with dread. No, no, no! The Dementors couldn't be here, not now!
I continued to chase after the snitch, Cedric close behind me, but I heard voices in my head again. "Rosemary! It's her! Take Kimiko and run!" a male voice cried out before I heard a familiar high, cold laugh. Wuya.
I could see them now. See the large black shapes gliding onto the pitch. Wuya's voice spoke again in my head. "Stand aside, you foolish woman!"
"No! Not Kimiko! Please not Kimiko!" The voice I had heard screaming on the train pleaded. It couldn't be…
I heard the same scream as on the train before everything went black.
I woke up in the Hospital Wing, surrounded by the bedraggled and soaking wet forms of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, Clay, Omi and the girls. "What happened at the match?"
"Hufflepuff won. Diggory caught the snitch and then turned to see you falling. Tried to call a rematch but he won fair and square." Wood replied gloomily.
"We only lost by ten points, so we're still in the running."
"Uh, after you fell," Raimundo began, rubbing the back of his neck, "your broom…it sort of – er – flew into the Whomping Willow. And, well, you know how it doesn't like to be hit…"
The Whomping Willow was a tree on the school grounds that we often used to train our reflexes by dodging its flailing limbs.
I turned fearfully to where Raimundo was indicating to see a pile of twigs wrapped up in a Gryffindor flag – my precious broomstick.
"The Dementors were forbidden from entering the school grounds – Master Fung was furious!"
"I suppose they couldn't resist with all the emotions running high."
After a while everyone left, apart from Raimundo, who stayed to help me back to the tower. "What is it? I know there's something, so don't deny it." He confronted me once we were alone.
"I-I heard my grandparents." I whispered.
"Whenever Dementors are around, I hear Wuya murdering my grandparents." I started to shake, tears streaming down my face. "Grandpapa died first – he tried to fight her off. Then she came after me and Grandmamma. Grandmamma tried to plead for my life. She needn't have died! She…she…"
Raimundo opened his arms and I fell into them, sobbing, while he rubbed my back comfortingly. "I think we should talk to Lupin about teaching you that spell he used on the train."
We stopped by Professor Lupin's office on the way back to Gryffindor tower to see him struggling to lift a tank filled with water and some sort of creature. "Need any help?" At the sound of Raimundo's voice he looked up.
"Oh, hello! Yes, perhaps I could use some of your strength."
"Is that a Grindylow?" I asked once we had it settled in the corner.
At Lupin's surprised nod, Raimundo rolled his eyes playfully. "Have you been reading your textbooks again?" To which I replied by sticking out my tongue at him.
Lupin chuckled at our antics with what looked like a knowing smile. "I suppose you were wondering why I wouldn't let you face the boggart?"
"I assumed it would take the form of Wuya and I didn't even want to imagine the kind of reaction that would cause."
"You know, I didn't even think of her." I mused thoughtfully. Lupin's eyebrows rose but Raimundo didn't look as if it surprised him.
"At first I thought of this creepy doll I once saw at a jumble sale, but then I remembered the Dementors on the train…"
"That is very wise – what you fear most is fear itself."
"But that isn't actually why we're here."
Professor Lupin raised an eyebrow at Raimundo's statement. "Then why?"
"We were wondering if you would teach me that spell from the train."
He studied us for a moment. "I don't know… I mean, they do seem to have taken a particular liking to you, but…"
"You were at the match, I presume?" Raimundo cut across Lupin, continuing when he nodded. "Do you know what she heard? What she hears every time Dementors come near her? Wuya murdering her grandparents."
"You heard James and Rosemary?"
"Yes. Did you know them?"
"Your mother was one of my best friends – we met on the Hogwarts Express. She was an extremely talented witch – both in her studies and she also had a certain talent for getting into trouble. Talents which, rumour has it, she passed on to you." I cracked a smile. I hadn't really heard much about mama – papa was always too upset to talk about her. "You're more like her than you know. You even look just like her, but smaller. Your eyes are the same shape but a different colour, and you have your father's hair colouring but James' curls. James and Rosemary were two of the kindest people I had ever met. They treated all of Lily's friends as if they were their children."
For a moment, no one spoke.
"So will you teach me?"
"Yes, but it will have to wait until next term. I'm a bit under the weather at the moment."
"Thank you." I smiled as Raimundo and I stood up to leave.
"I'm sorry about your broomstick, is there no chance of fixing it?" Lupin added and I shook my head sadly. "It's funny that you're such a good flier. Your mother was hopeless, though she did enjoy Quidditch. She would be very proud of you; all three of them would."
Christmas came and went in a similar fashion to last year – only a handful of Gryffindors left but Clay, Omi and Maria stayed this year. We opened our presents in the morning – I got another jumper from Carla, a card from Alejandro, clothes from papa and various sweets, joke shop items and books from my friends – and played in the snow for most of the day, during which I won another snowball fight.
When school started back up, homework started to become more frequent and the subjects more demanding. Even Quidditch practice wasn't as enjoyable any more due to the fact that I had to ride on of the run down school brooms in place of my ruined Nimbus.
Hanabi seemed to have a serious problem with Scabbers, constantly behaving like she had on the train around him. Raimundo thought that she had been acting all summer and was now showing her 'true colours', but she behaved when Scabbers wasn't around. It had to be something to do with Scabbers…
Buckbeak was set to have a hearing before the wizard court – the Wizengamot – soon after our exams. It seemed that Spicer hadn't been bluffing when he boasted of how his father would make Hagrid and Buckbeak pay. I spent most of my free time – not that I had much – with Hagrid, trying to help with research and Buckbeak's defence. I wasn't about to let Spicer get away with punishing Buckbeak for his own stupidity.
Soon it was my birthday and on top of the presents from the usual suspects, I received an oddly shaped parcel. When opened, almost everyone in the room stared. It was a Firebolt; the most recent broomstick and the fastest in the world. It had no note so I had no idea who had sent it. Wide grins spread across the Gryffindor Quidditch team's faces. "If we weren't set to win before, we sure are now!" Wood exclaimed excitedly.
Quidditch practice was amazing after that and after everyone had a go on the Firebolt, we practically skipped back to Gryffindor tower, grinning widely all the way.
We steamrollered Slytherin in our next match. We would have even if I didn't have a Firebolt, but it helped.
Gryffindor was back in the lead for the Quidditch Cup and the celebration lasted all night. Well, almost. It would have if Professor McGonagall hadn't shepherded us to bed at about eleven.
About a week later, Lupin called me back after class and told me he would teach me to repel Dementors that Friday. Despite the fact that I may never be near them again, it comforted me to know that I would know how to repel them.
Raimundo came with me to Lupin's office that Friday. "You want to learn the spell too?"
"Nah, I'm just here for moral support."
Lupin had cleared the floor so that there was a large space facing a trunk. "The spell I used is highly advanced magic – well beyond Ordinary Wizarding Level. Are you sure?" I nodded. OWLs were fifth-year magic but I had to try. "I will try to teach you the Patronus Charm. It produces a sort of shield between you and the Dementor. You must concentrate on a happy memory and say 'Expecto Patronum'." He moved towards the trunk. "Ready?" I nodded and he opened it with a flick of his wand.
The Dementor rose out of the trunk and I tried my best but could only produce silver vapour before my knees buckled. Raimundo caught me and helped me up while Professor Lupin sent what I assumed was a boggart back to the trunk. "I didn't expect you to get it on the first try. Out of curiosity, what were you thinking of?"
"The first time I fought with my Xiaolin abilities." I could see Raimundo smirking out of my peripheral vision. That was the time that I had managed to hold my own against him despite having no training while he had a year's worth.
"Not strong enough." Lupin replied, shaking his head. "Not nearly strong enough. Think of another."
I searched for a memory for a while. "Got it." Lupin nodded and opened the trunk again. This time I managed to raise a shield, but the Boggart-Dementor tried to push through it and it flickered and died.
"Better." Lupin commented once he had the Boggart-Dementor back inside the trunk. "It needs work but it is better. What was this memory?"
"When I saw papa again after I was kidnapped when I was five."
"I still don't think that's strong enough."
"There is another." I spoke slowly, unsure. "But I'm not entirely sure it's real."
"Is it strong?" I nodded. "Then we'll give it a try."
I raised my wand once more and took a deep breath. This time my shield didn't flicker and I managed to force the Boggart-Dementor back into the trunk.
"Well done! I think that's enough; you should be able to repel them long enough to get away." He handed me a bar of Honeydukes' chocolate which Raimundo and I ate on the way back to Gryffindor tower.
"What was the memory?" Raimundo asked softly.
"I'm not entirely sure it's real." I repeated. Can you remember things from inside the uterus? "It must've been a few months before I was born. Mama and papa were sitting together on the sofa at home and grandmamma and grandpapa were beside them. They were all just…talking to me." I trailed off, smiling wistfully. Raimundo smiled at me as we clambered back through the portrait hole and headed to our respective dormitories.
The exams were fast approaching and the teachers began to pile on the work, and with extra subjects, my worry over the exams since, despite being third-year exams, they would be my first full set to take at Hogwarts, and the loss of my sleeping periods from during Divination, I was constantly exhausted.
Raimundo was baffled at how I always had more homework than him even though I had dropped Divination and I was afraid that he would figure it out, but he shrugged it off and went back to fabricating the disastrous messages encoded in his dreams for his Divination homework. Not that it would be so terrible if he found out, but I felt rather guilty for hiding it and was worried he would be mad at me for doing so. For some reason, I was more worried about Raimundo being upset with me than anyone else, even papa…
Near the end of spring the library was filled with students: frazzled seventh-years, snapping at anyone who disturbed them in their frantic studying for the NEWTs – Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests; sixth-years struggling to cope with their NEWT classes; fifth-years searching for definitions and spells for their OWLs; and all of the other students, worrying about their end-of-year exams, the first years desperately searching the books so they could get the grades to come back next year.
Even Raimundo, who had been so laid back about last year's exams, was looking a little stressed.
It was getting increasingly difficult to sleep for worrying about the exams and the rustling of books and parchment as people checked their notes at the last minute; especially for the four of us, who could hear from every dormitory.
About a week before the exams started, Gryffindor tower was woken around midnight by a horrified scream. I shot upright and was sprinting out the door, pulling my slippers and dressing gown on as I went, as the rest of the third-year girls were sitting up, blearily blinking back sleep. That was Clay's scream.
I burst through the already open door of the third-year boys' dormitory where Omi was standing, gingerly rubbing his head; Raimundo was disentangling himself from the curtains of his four poster bed and Clay was sitting, wide-eyed, in the middle of his bed, Scabbers cowering in his hands, with the curtains of his bed slashed around him. Aidan and the other boys were behaving in much the same manner as the girls in my dormitory.
"What is it, Clay?"
"I saw…he was…with a knife!…slashed the curtains…woke me up…I screamed…he ran…" Clay rambled in a shaky voice.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Raimundo cut across Clay's rambling, coming to stand beside me after extricating himself from the hangings. "Who woke you up by slashing your curtains with a knife?"
The boys all gasped and I looked from Clay's shocked and terrified face to the faces of the others in the room, all wearing a similar expression. Only my face remained unchanged. Who is this Sirius Black?
"Aidan, go and get Professor McGonagall." Raimundo uttered in a tight, controlled voice and Aidan scrambled out of the dormitory. Raimundo turned to follow him and we all followed too, stopping and sitting in our usual seats by the fire. The entirety of Gryffindor House had gathered in the Common Room to try to figure out what had happened.
A few minutes later Aidan returned with Professor McGonagall. "What is the meaning of all this?" She demanded, looking round at her pyjama clad house.
"Sirius Black was in our dormitory, Professor." Professor McGonagall's face whitened and a gasp rippled throughout the students. The room was deathly still. Seriously, who is this Sirius Black?
"Explain." Professor McGonagall's voice was weak, and it seemed that she had only just managed to force out that one word.
"Well, I was woken up by the sound of something slashing my bed curtains," Clay began. So that was the noise that woke me up. I had almost been asleep again when Clay screamed. "Then I looked up and Sirius Black was standing over me with a knife."
She turned to the Fat Lady. "Did you let Sirius Black into this tower tonight?"
"I most certainly did not!" The Fat Lady cried indignantly.
Professor McGonagall looked torn. The Fat Lady denied admitting Sirius Black into the tower, but Clay was known for telling the truth. "I shall go and speak to the headmaster. I strongly advise that you return to bed."
Those with their important exams coming up left, as well as those who were taking the exams very seriously, but the four of us remained in silence by the fire. The three boys seemed to be considering the implications or merely musing over tonight's events but I soon grew impatient. "Who is Sirius Black?" They turned to stare incredulously at me. "I grew up with muggles, remember?" I shot back defensively, crossing my arms.
"He's a murderer."
"Shouldn't he be in Azkaban, then?"
"He was never caught. Eleven years ago he blew up a street – killed twelve muggles and completely obliterated a wizard named Peter Pettigrew. The only thing they could find of him was his finger."
"And he's in Hogwarts? But why?" They shook their heads with a shrug and I went back to staring into the fire.
The night before the exams started, I was so nervous I couldn't sleep, so I sat up in bed, looking over the Marauder's Map. I froze as I reached the third floor. There, scuttling around, was a name I never expected to see on the map: Peter Pettigrew. But that was impossible…right? Raimundo had told me, just a few nights ago, that the only thing left of him was a finger, and either that was the finger on the third floor…or…
I decided to go and have a look and, following the map, I soon found myself at the end of the corridor where Pettigrew's name appeared on the map. I began to walk towards it and it began to walk towards me. As we neared each other, my heart began to beat hard in my chest. The map showed Pettigrew passing me and I looked all around, lighting my fists to see, but there was no one there.
Glancing back at the map in confusion, I saw 'Severus Snape' approaching from around the corner. "Mischief Managed." I whispered frantically and put out the flames, shoving the map in the pocket of the hoodie I was wearing; an old one of Raimundo's that he had leant me over the summer and I had forgotten to give back.
Snape rounded the corner and stopped when he saw me, a smirk spreading across his face. "Well, well, well. Out of bed?" his eyes fell upon my bulging pocket. "Turn out your pockets." I pulled out my wand and the now blank map. "What is that?"
I shrugged. "A spare bit of parchment."
He raised an eyebrow. "A spare bit of parchment?"
"I carry one around when it comes to exams, you know, just in case I hear or see something that might be useful.
He simply stared. "Open it." I did so and he put his wand to it. 'He doesn't know the spell, does he?' I thought frantically. "Reveal your secrets. Professor Snape, potions master of Hogwarts demands that you yield the information you conceal." Writing scrawled across it and for a moment I thought Snape's spell had worked. Surely the marauders were smarter than that! "Read it."
I glanced at him before doing so, fighting giggles as I read. "Messr Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business. Messr Prongs agrees with Messr Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git. Messr Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a Professor. Messr Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball."
Snape looked livid. "Why, you-"
"Hello, Professor." Professor Lupin called amicably as he emerged from around the corner. "Oh, hello, Kimiko. Out for a stroll to clear your head before the exams?"
"I have just confiscated this from Miss Tohomiko, and it is clearly full of Dark Magic – your area if expertise, I believe."
As Lupin took it, I noticed a flash of recognition in his eyes but it was so fleeting that I'm not sure Snape did. "It looks like a parchment designed to insult anyone who tries to read it. A Zonko's product, I presume? Come along, Kimiko. I must have a word with you about your homework."
In Lupin's office he turned to me. "May I ask how you came into possession of this map?"
I stared. He knew what it was? "A friend gave it to me."
"And what were you really doing out of bed?"
"Like you said, I needed to clear my head before the exams. So I was looking over the map and came across a name I thought was dead, so I followed it."
He watched me for a moment, probably to gauge my honesty. "I'm going to hold onto this for a while. You should probably get to bed now. And no side trips – I'll know." He added, tapping the map.
Clay came running down into the Common Room the following evening, having gone to fetch his study notes. "Scabbers is gone!"
"What do you mean 'gone'?"
"I mean he's not there! And do you know what was on my sheets? Blood! Your demon cat has got him!"
I jumped out of my seat. "You leave Hanabi out of this! She was in my room all day!"
"You don't know that! She could've left while we were in our Charms exam!"
Omi stood slowly, holding his arms out to separate us and speaking in a lofty voice. "Now, now; I would not count your ducks before they emerge from their shells."
We all stared at him. Eventually, Raimundo spoke, "…that one wasn't even close." He sighed.
Although, Omi's messed up slang did calm us down, but not Clay, who stormed back to his room. I sat down dejectedly. Clay had never been angry at me before. I considered him as my older brother.
"Why don't you look for Scabbers on the map?" Raimundo suggested.
"I can't. Lupin has it."
"He confiscated it when he caught me out of bed last night. I couldn't just say no!" I retorted grumpily. "Besides, I don't think it always works. Last night it showed Peter Pettigrew."
"That's impossible." He murmured, wide-eyed.
I shrugged. "I know, but it's what I saw."
The exams were much easier than I expected and I came out of them with full marks, to no one's surprise but my own.
That Saturday was the Quidditch Cup Final – Gryffindor v Ravenclaw – and Gryffindor House was buzzing. Despite my nerves I was literally bouncing in my seat at breakfast. The rest of the team were looking pretty excited too. The twins were grinning in their usual mischievous way and pulling small pranks on everyone around them; Wood was eating with a determined look in his eye, as if he was recalling all the different plays he taught us; Angelina and Alicia were chatting as usual, but their eyes had an excited glint; and Raimundo was grinning broadly like I was. Just without the hyper bouncing.
In the changing rooms there was an air of anticipation, an electrifying excitement and even Wood's pre-match pep-talk was short, a fact which Fernando and Ricardo didn't fail to point out. Well, something had to be normal.
Ravenclaw's Quidditch team were good. Very good. Miles better than Slytherin and more organised, more tactical than Hufflepuff, but Gryffindor had just as good players who were brave enough to take risks. I suppose that comes with the territory. Ravenclaw being the house for the smart and wise and Gryffindor for the brave.
Once again I was facing a sixth-year, but this time it was Cho Chang. She was at least head and shoulders taller than me with long black hair, not quite as long as mine though, pulled back into a ponytail while mine was in the two messy pigtails that I normally used for training. Trust me, you don't want to be fighting or flying with thick curly hair flying into your face every time you move.
Wood shook hands with the captain, Roger Davies, as usual and we mounted our brooms, awaiting Madame Hooch releasing the balls. The atmosphere was amazing as both teams had a real chance at winning and the crowd was pretty much equally divided – Gryffindors cheering for us, Ravenclaws cheering for their team, Hufflepuffs were fairly neutral, cheering for both, and Slytherins were simply booing everyone.
The match kicked off and I was right, we were fairly well matched, the chasers sped after each other, blocking and twisting to get the Quaffle, but no one could catch Raimundo. Wood was clearly the better keeper for within the first five minutes, he had saved two goals while Raimundo shot three.
The Ravenclaw beaters focused on me, since I had a better broom than their seeker so they couldn't take any chances. My Xiaolin instincts came in handy as it allowed me to anticipate where the Bludger would go milliseconds before it did and so I wasn't hit once. They seemed to be growing frustrated with this and so they sped towards me, one from either side, clubs raised and at the last minute, I pulled up and the two crashed. I could hear the cheering from the Gryffindor side and Lee Jordan's delighted commentary about my new broomstick.
The game continued at this fast pace and I kept out of the way, circling high above the pitch, Cho tailing me as much as she could. With my enhanced vision, I saw the snitch seconds before she did and we both tore after it, drawing closer and closer to the ground. "Oh!" Cho gasped and I glanced behind me to see two Dementors looking up at me.
I was too focused on catching the snitch to think about anything else, so I turned back to it, putting on a burst of speed as I pulled my wand out from my robes and pointed it behind me. "Expecto Patronum!" Out of my peripheral vision, I saw something silvery white and very large erupt out of the end of my wand and charge at the Dementors but I had no time to dwell on it. I leant forward, half hanging off my broom and grabbed the snitch, swinging back onto my broom as the rest of the team crashed into me. Wood flung his arms around my neck, sobbing. I had forgotten how much this meant to him – it was his last year at Hogwarts and he had finally won the Quidditch Cup.
We sank to the ground in a many armed hug, cheering, "We've won the Cup! We've won the Cup!" A sobbing Wood raised the Cup over his head to thunderous noise from the stands; mostly the Gryffindors but the Ravenclaws were good sports and cheered us on too, along with the Hufflepuffs while Slytherin scowled, booing and hissing. I felt myself lifted into the air, but no one was lifting me. "Raimundo!" I shrieked as I turned over in the air. "Put me down! Right now!" He just stood there smirking so I threw a fireball at him and he reluctantly put me down. There was no way this day could get any better.
I felt someone approach me and I turned to see Lupin. "That was some Patronus."
I smiled wryly, remembering the lack of effect the Dementors had on me. "They weren't Dementors, were they?"
Lupin laughed. "Er, no. Come and see." I followed him out of the crowd so I could see the edge of the pitch. "You gave Mr Spicer quite a fright." He remarked as I felt Raimundo come up behind me.
We both burst out laughing. Lying in a crumpled heap on the ground were Spicer and Ashley, struggling to remove themselves from long, black, hooded robes, and a fuming Professor McGonagall stood over them, yelling. "An unworthy trick! A low and cowardly attempt to sabotage the Gryffindor Seeker! Detention for all of you, and fifty points from Slytherin! Each! I shall be speaking to Master Fung about this, make no mistake!"
Okay, so maybe the day could get better.
At around midday we managed to escape from the party for a while to visit Hagrid. We knew Buckbeak's hearing was today and we were all anxious to know the result. We found Hagrid at the small lake at the edge of the forest, near his house, skipping stones. "How'd it go?"
"I got all tongue tied." Hagrid spoke miserably, skipping the stones dejectedly. "They were all sitting there in black robes and I kept dropping my notes and forgetting everything you looked up for me. And then Marcus Spicer got up and you can imagine what he said. He said 'Buckbeak was a dangerous creature who would kill you as soon as he laid eyes on you'."
"Then what happened?" I prompted. "Hagrid?"
Hagrid was shaking and he threw a particularly large stone in the lake, where it landed with a 'plunk'. "Buckbeak's been sentenced to death!"
"Oh, Hagrid!" We all rushed to comfort him but it was no use. He was inconsolable. We gave up when it got too dark and returned to Gryffindor tower where the party was still in full swing. "Hey, where are you going?" Fernando called out as we headed for the dormitories.
"We can't have our star players leaving the party this early!"
"We don't feel much like partying any more." Raimundo said as he headed up the stairs, Clay and Omi following.
"Buckbeak's been sentenced to death." I answered the twins' unanswered question before heading to bed myself.
I had the afternoon free since it was the Divination exam, so I went to wait for the boys when I assumed the exam would be over. The corridor was deserted so I slowly climbed the rope ladder into Trelawney's classroom. This was deserted too. The exam must've ended earlier than I thought. It was sort of creepy in that small room alone. A voice hissed from behind me. "He will return tonight." I whirled to see Professor Trelawney, but she wasn't quite herself. She was bent over, clinging to the back of an armchair for support, her voice raspy and her eyes unfocused. "Tonight, he who betrayed his friends at Hogwarts with murder shall break free. Innocent blood shall be spilt and servant and master will be reunited once more…" My eyes widened with each word she spoke. This wasn't her usual 'predictions' when she put on that 'ethereal' tone for effect. This was real.
She straightened and started when she saw me. "Oh, was there something you wanted, dear?" Her voice was back to normal, as were here eyes.
"Uh…no. I was just…looking for my friends…"
"Oh, the exam finished half an hour ago."
"Okay…uh, thanks." And I scurried out of that classroom.
I ran into the boys in the Common Room in their usual seats. "Hey, Kimiko. Where've you…" He trailed off, noticing my wide eyes and face drained of all colour. Or so I assumed that was how I looked. "What's up?"
"Trelawney just made a real prediction."
"What?" They looked at me sceptically.
"She did. She was in a trance and I searched her mind, and it was blank. This was a real prediction." They blinked at me and I explained what she had said.
"What do you reckon it means?"
"I dunno. But it doesn't sound good."
It was still light when we headed down to Hagrid's on the evening of Buckbeak's execution. We had seen the executioner at lunch and we wanted to make sure Hagrid was alright.
As we crossed the grounds, we saw Jack and Ashley standing atop the hill that gave you the view around all of the grounds, but had rocks so you couldn't be seen, with a pair of binoculars. I felt my blood boil and apparently I wasn't the only one. "The jig is down; you are at the top of your rope, spoon over those binoculars!" Omi shouted, pointing at the two Slytherins.
We all just looked at each other. What on Earth was Omi trying to say?
"Oh, oh! I got it! The jig is up; you are at the end of your rope, fork over the binoculars!" Jack announced proudly.
Ashley rolled her eyes at him. "Yeah, not gonna happen, baldie."
I could almost see the smoke pouring out of Omi's ears. Oh, she did not just go there.
Jack seemed to remember what he was doing and put on his 'evil' smirk. "So, I see you've come to join the show! Hey Kimiko, care to join me baby?" I inwardly shuddered. Ew!
I saw Raimundo clench his fists and I leapt at Jack, grabbing him by the collar of the jacket he was wearing since it was the weekend and we didn't have to wear our robes, and pinned him to the rock. "You are a foul, loathsome little cockroach!" I hissed at him furiously, drawing my wand and I heard him whimper.
"Come on, Kimiko, he's not worth it." Clay tried to calm me down but I wasn't listening.
Clay seemed to be the only one who was calm. Omi was still seething over the 'baldie' comment, I was furious for just about every reason, and Raimundo? 'If you don't smash his face in, I will!' I heard him mutter in my head. I'm not quite sure why he's angry.
I put my wand away and stepped back slightly. Jack smirked and looked as if he was going to make some sort of stupid comment, so I snapped. I swung my fist at his face, hitting him square on the nose, and immediately kicked his legs from under him. He collapsed to the ground, whimpering and clutching his nose. I squatted down in front of him, grabbing the collar of his jacket again. "Oh, and don't call me baby."
I dropped him again and stood up, backing away to stand with the others. Jack leapt to his feet and ran, screaming, back to the castle, Ashley not far behind him. "That felt good." I muttered, and was met with grins.
"You shouldn't have come." Hagrid muttered when he opened his door to see the four of us, but he seemed to be smiling slightly and he let us in all the same. I think he was glad.
"I took him outside. He's tethered in the pumpkin patch. I thought he should see the trees and smell the fresh air before…" Hagrid trailed off, trembling and we glanced at each other. I felt so helpless. It was horrible. "Oh, before I forget…" Hagrid turned to some sort of pot, lifted the lid and pulled a rat out.
"Scabbers! You're alive!" Clay exclaimed, taking him from Hagrid. He looked awful – even worse than before: thin, grey and balding. He was squirming in Clay's hands but Clay was stronger.
"I think you owe someone an apology." Raimundo spoke up from his seat, looking sternly at Clay. I was quite surprised. I had never seen them be even the slightest bit hostile towards each other.
"Yeah, the next time I see Hanabi, I'll let her know." I smiled. At least he seemed to be lightening up about Hanabi.
But Raimundo's gaze began to turn into a glare. "I meant Kimiko."
"They're coming." Omi spoke from the window and we all looked up to see Master Fung, the executioner, and another man walking down the path.
"Go!" Hagrid hissed and we ran out the back door, hiding behind the pumpkins in the pumpkin patch until the men went inside.
"That other man, was that the Minister for Magic?"
"Yep, Cornelius Fudge." I 'hmm'ed. He seemed like an idiot to me, judging by his thoughts.
"Scabbers! Stay still! It's me, you idiot! It's Clay!" Clay seemed to be getting really frustrated now as Scabbers increased his struggles with every step we took. Then Clay cried out in shock and dropped Scabbers, clutching his finger. "He bit me!" He spoke disbelievingly as he healed his finger and wiped away the blood.
"Do not worry, Clay! I will fetch him!" Omi exclaimed before sprinting after Scabbers, us not far behind him.
Omi dived and caught Scabbers between his hands and Clay sprinted to catch up with him. Raimundo and I stopped. "You do realise what tree this is?"
They were under the Whomping Willow. "That's not good."
We were about to call out to Clay and Omi when there was a bark from behind and a large black dog jumped over us and sank its teeth into Omi's leg. "Omi!" The dog dragged Omi, still holding Scabbers, into a small hole at the base of the Whomping Willow. Hang on…was that the dog I saw Hanabi walking with in the forest the other day?
Clay stood up and Raimundo and I started forwards, panicked, but we were too late and one of the branches struck Clay, hard. He was flung off his feet and landed a few feet away. We rushed to him and found him unconscious. "What do we do?"
"We can't leave him?"
"But we don't have time to go to the Hospital Wing and come back to rescue Omi!"
We eventually decided to prop Clay against the side of a rock a short distance away, where the tree couldn't reach him, and placed a spell on him so that no one could hurt him. He would be safe until we got back.
Dodging the flailing branches, Raimundo and I dived into the hole the dog and Omi disappeared into. It opened into some sort of tunnel and with a glance at each other, Raimundo and I followed it. "Where d'you suppose this goes?"
"It's marked on the Marauders Map. It goes off the edge, but I think it ends up somewhere in Hogsmeade."
The tunnel ended and we found ourselves in a creaky old house. "You know, I think we're in the Shrieking Shack." Raimundo muttered.
I nodded, swallowing in fear when I noticed large scratches in the wall and lots of ruined furniture. "Yeah, but ghosts didn't do that."
Gathering up our courage, we ascended the stairs and saw an open door at the end of the corridor with Omi lying on a bed inside. "Omi!" We ran to him and I dropped to my knees before him. His leg was stuck out at a strange angle and blood was pouring from the wound. It was too bad for us to fix. He needed Madame Pomfrey. Fast.
Raimundo glanced around. "Where's the dog?"
"Not a dog." Omi gritted his teeth in pain. "It's a trap…"
"He's the dog…he's an animagus!"
Omi was staring over our shoulders and we turned, hearing the door we had come through close. Standing where the door would've covered him, was a man, tall and thin, with black hair, eyes glittering dangerously and a manic grin spread across his face.
I didn't recognise him, but by the sudden intake of breath beside me, Raimundo did. I searched his thoughts. 'Sirius Black!'
I gulped. Uh oh…
So, we were in an abandoned old house at the end of a deserted street in Hogsmeade that everyone's too scared to go into anyway, with a mass murderer. Right. Omi tried to stand up, hobbling over to stand with the two of us, still clutching Scabbers in his hand. "You will not kill us. We are the Xiaolin Dragons." He seemed to notice Clay's absence. "Uh…well, three of the Xiaolin Dragons."
A flicker of concern crossed Sirius Black's eyes. "Lie down, or you'll damage that leg even more." That seems like an odd thing for a mass murderer to say…
Omi seemed to think so too, for his voice lost its usual confidence. "Did you hear me? You cannot kill us."
"I'm not going to. Only one will die tonight."
"You didn't seem to have that point of view eleven years ago."
Okay, so perhaps taunting a mass murderer isn't the best of things to be doing when in this situation, but hey, we're the Xiaolin Dragons – impulsive and ready to rush into things without thinking about it. Then we realise as an afterthought that it wasn't the best idea…
He didn't say anything and we stared each other down. There were creaking sounds from downstairs and Professor Lupin entered the room. Sirius's eyes lit up excitedly. "Is it really him?"
Lupin nodded eagerly. "He's here!"
"At last! Let's kill him!" The two men behaved like brothers and Lupin didn't seem to object with the plan of murder.
"I don't believe it." Raimundo gasped; him and Omi gaping like fish. "You…you…"
"Now, I can explain-"
I shook my head in disbelief. "I trusted you, and all this time you've been his friend. He's a werewolf!" Raimundo's gaze flickered between my accusing glare and Lupin's calm face. Omi sunk back down to the bed.
"How long have you known?"
"I've had my suspicions since the boggart. Then when you started missing class once a month…"
He shook his head, a small smile forming on his face. "Kimiko, you really are the brightest witch of your age."
"No. If I was smart I wouldn't have trusted you." Lupin looked slightly upset at this.
"How did you know we were here?" Raimundo cut in.
"The Marauder's Map. I was in my office examining it-"
"You know how to work it?" Raimundo asked; partly suspicious, partly astonished. Whoops. Did I not tell him that? Oh, well…
"Of course I know how to work it, I helped write it. I'm Moony – that was my friends' nickname for me at school." He answered impatiently.
Raimundo gaped. "You wrote-"
"The important thing is, I was watching it carefully this evening, because I thought you would try to go to Hagrid's to comfort him before his Hippogriff was executed. I thought you might be wearing your mother's cloak-"
"How d'you know about the cloak?"
Lupin waved off our interruptions impatiently. "The number of times I saw Lily disappearing under it… The point is, even if you're wearing it, you still show up on the map. Not that that mattered since you didn't use it. I watched you visit Hagrid but as you left, you were accompanied by someone else."
"What? No we weren't!" Raimundo exclaimed but I quickly shushed him. I wanted to hear the story.
"Then there was another dot, labelled 'Sirius Black', moving fast towards you. It collided with you and dragged two of you into the Whomping Willow-"
"One of us!" Omi exclaimed, looking utterly lost.
"No, Omi. Two of you." He stepped closer to Omi. "Do you think I could have a look at that rat?"
"What has Scabbers got to do with this?" Omi demanded suspiciously. We knew that Clay was protective of Scabbers and none of us wanted to let him down.
"Everything. Can I see him please?"
Omi reluctantly held him out, and as soon as Lupin approached, he began to struggle with renewed vigour. "What has Clay's rat got to do with anything?" Omi demanded as Lupin looked intently at Scabbers.
"That's no rat." Sirius Black spoke up from behind Lupin, a glint emerging in his eyes.
"What? Of course he's a rat!"
"No." Lupin said quietly. "He's a wizard."
"An Animagus," Sirius Black added, "named Peter Pettigrew."
The room was silent. "You're mental." Raimundo muttered, shaking his head. "Pettigrew's dead. You killed him eleven years ago."
"I meant to." Sirius muttered darkly. "But little Peter got the better of me…not this time, though!"
He made as if to lunge at Omi and Scabbers but Lupin held him back. "No, Sirius! We have to explain!"
"We can explain later!" He snarled, still trying to reach the rat and Raimundo and I moved protectively in front of Omi.
"They have a right to know everything. They need to tell Clay later and he's kept him as a pet! And Kimiko, we owe Kimiko the truth."
Sirius sagged and Lupin let him go. "There were witnesses who saw Pettigrew die." Raimundo cut in. "A whole street full of them…"
"They didn't see what they thought they saw."
"You saw Peter yourself on the map, Kimiko."
"The map must've been lying, then." Raimundo continued to protest.
A strange gleam seemed to come into their eyes. "The map never lies." Sirius spoke seriously.
"But…people would know if he was an Animagus… I mean, we mentioned Animagi in class with Professor McGonagall, so I looked them up. The Ministry keeps tabs and you have to register…"
"Yes, but the Ministry never knew that there used to be three unregistered Animagi running around Hogwarts." Lupin chuckled.
"If you're going to tell the story, Remus, be quick." Sirius added; his eyes fixed on Scabbers. "I've waited eleven years; I don't want to wait much longer."
Lupin went to begin his story but a creak was heard from below. "This place is haunted!" Omi whimpered.
"No, it isn't." Lupin interjected. "The Shrieking Shack has never been haunted. The screams and howls the villagers used to hear were made by me. When Master Fung became headmaster of Hogwarts, he allowed me to come, as long as there were precautions. This house and the tunnel that leads to it were built for my use and the Whomping Willow planted over it. When I transformed, I was smuggled out here so I couldn't hurt anyone."
I had no idea where Lupin was going, but it was a very interesting story, none the less. The only interruptions were from Scabbers, still trying to escape.
"I was happier than I had ever been, at Hogwarts. I had friends – three great friends – Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and, of course, your mother, Kimiko – Liliana Brava. I didn't tell them. I knew they noticed, but I couldn't. I was afraid they would desert me if they did. Your mother figured it out, just as you did, Kimiko, but they didn't desert me. Instead, they became Animagi."
"Yes. It took them years to do it, but by fifth year they did it. Though Peter needed help from Lily and Sirius, who were the smartest students in the school."
"But how would that help you?" Raimundo cut in.
"They could accompany me. A werewolf is only dangerous to humans. They would transform when I did and keep me company. I was less wolfish under their influence; my mind came back to me. So, we began to explore the castle. I doubt whether any Hogwarts student ever found out more about the castle and its grounds than we did. So we wrote the Marauder's Map and signed it with our nicknames. Sirius is Padfoot. Peter is Wormtail. Lily was Prongs."
"What a touching story." A greasy voice drawled form the doorway and we turned to see Snape standing there, a triumphant smirk on his face. "Wondering how I'm here? I dropped by your office to give you your potion tonight and what did I see? You, scurrying along this passageway, on that old map of yours."
"Severus, you're making a mistake-"
"I told the Headmaster again and again that you were helping your old friend into the castle – and here we are! Two for Azkaban, tonight!"
"Don't be a fool! Is a schoolboy grudge worth putting innocent men in Azkaban?"
With a bang, cords flew out of the end of Snape's wand and tied Lupin up. Sirius lunged forward to help him but Snape held his wand right in his face. "Give me a reason to do it and I swear I will." He hissed. Sirius froze and Snape went to bring him out the door, but Raimundo and I stood before it. "Move out of the way, you're already in enough trouble."
"Professor Lupin could've killed me about a hundred times this year. That time with the defence lessons against Dementors. If he was a murderer and wanted to kill us, why didn't he do it then?"
"Don't ask me to fathom the way a werewolf's mind works." Snape hissed.
In a split second decision, I raised my wand. "Expelliarmus!" Snape flew into the wall and sunk to the floor, unconscious. Raimundo and Omi had cast the spell with me. I walked to Lupin and helped him from his bonds. It reminded me of last year when Quirrel had Raimundo tied up.
"Thank you, Kimiko."
"This doesn't mean I believe you." I shot back, still unsure. I suppose you could say I had trust issues after the various kidnapping attempts of my childhood.
"Then it's time we offered you some proof. Omi, give me Peter. Now."
"Come off it! How would you even know which rat was Pettigrew?" Raimundo scoffed.
"His front paw."
"What about it?"
"He's got a toe missing."
"All they could find of Pettigrew was his…" Raimundo trailed off and I finished. It was starting to make sense.
"He cut it off just before he transformed. When I cornered him, he yelled for the whole street to hear that I'd betrayed James and Rosemary. Then before I could curse him, he blew apart the street with the wand behind his back, killed everyone within twenty feet of himself – and sped down into the sewer with the other rats…"
"Scabbers probably got into a fight with another rat." Omi argued, still not understanding. "Clay has had Scabbers for-"
"Twelve years. Curiously long life for a common garden rat."
"They took good care of him…" but even Omi could tell that his argument was useless.
"Why were you trying to kill him, anyway?" Sirius and Lupin's faces fell.
"When James and Rosemary were taking you into hiding, they made me their Secret Keeper." Sirius started. "I wanted to do as much as I could for them since I ran away from home and lived with them when I was sixteen. But I thought that Wuya would expect it to be me, so I persuaded them to change to Peter. On the night they died, I'd arranged to check up on Peter, to make sure he was alright. But he was gone…no sign of struggle. So, I went to your grandparents' house, straight away. And when I saw the house destroyed…and their bodies…I realised what Peter had done…what I had done…" his voice broke.
"There's only one way to prove it. Omi, give me that rat. If he really is a rat, it won't hurt him." At this assurance Omi handed him over.
The two men raised their wands and shot some sort of blue light at the rat. But it wasn't a rat anymore, but a short man, slightly plump but it looked as if he had lost a lot of weight recently, with small, watery eyes and a pointed nose.
"Well, hello, Peter."
Peter glanced fearfully about him, before deciding to play the ignorant card. "R-Remus…S-Sirius…my old friends…"
Lupin shot Sirius a warning look as his wand arm twitched. "We've been having a little chat, Peter, about what happened the night James and Rosemary died. You might have missed the finer points while you were squeaking around down there on the bed-"
Pettigrew began to sweat. "You don't…you don't believe him, do you? He tried to kill me…"
"So we've heard." Lupin commented dryly. "I'd like to clear up one or two little matters with you, Peter, so if you'd be so-"
"He's come to try to kill me again!" Pettigrew shrieked. "He killed Rosemary and James and now he's going to kill me too…"
Sirius' face darkened, but before he could speak, Lupin cut across Pettigrew's whimpering. "No one's going to try to kill you until we've sorted a few things out."
"Sort things out?" Pettigrew squeaked, glancing about him for some sort of escape route, but the windows were boarded up and I went back to blocking the doorway. "He's got you bewitched, Remus. She Who Must Not Be Named taught him a few tricks and-"
"Wuya, teach me tricks?" Sirius bellowed, his eyes narrowing Pettigrew, who flinched. "What, scared to hear your old master's name?"
"Don't know – what you mean, Sirius –" Pettigrew muttered, sweating more profusely by the minute.
"You've been hiding from her old supporters for eleven years." Lupin cut in this time, his voice colder than I had ever heard it before. It was pretty scary. "I've heard things…sounds like they think the double-crosser double-crossed them. Wuya went to the Bravas' on your information…and met her downfall there."
"And not all Wuya's supporters are in Azkaban, are they? There are plenty out there, biding their time, pretending they've seen the error of their ways… If they ever got wind that you were alive, Peter-"
"You believe this…this madness?"
"I must admit, Peter, I have difficulty in understanding why an innocent man would want to spend eleven years as a rat." Lupin's tone remained even, but he continued to glare at Pettigrew, who looked about ready to wet himself.
"Rosemary and James made you Secret Keeper because I suggested it." Sirius hissed venomously, Pettigrew stepping backwards, terrified, at each sentence. "I thought it was the perfect plan…a bluff…Wuya would be so sure to come after me…" He shook his head, laughing derisively. He turned to me. "Remus snuck me onto the pitch to watch you play Quidditch…I would've died before I betrayed your grandparents…especially after all they did for me…do…do you believe me?"
I nodded and Pettigrew dropped to his knees with a cry, as if wounded. "Sirius – it's me…it's Peter…your friend…you wouldn't…" Sirius' face remained impassive so he turned to Lupin.
"Remus…you don't believe this… Wouldn't Sirius have told you if they'd changed the plan?"
"Not if he thought I was the spy. I assume that's why you didn't, Sirius?"
"Forgive me, Remus."
"Not at all, Padfoot, old friend. And you will, in turn, forgive me for believing you were the spy?"
"Of course." They spoke casually, as if they weren't rolling up their sleeves and drawing their wands to kill one of their childhood friends to avenge the parents of another; parents who had treated them as if they were their parents too. "Shall we kill him together?"
"Yes, I think so." Lupin spoke grimly and they turned to a trembling Pettigrew.
"You wouldn't…you won't…" He looked around desperately and turned to me. "Sweet girl…clever girl…you look just like your mother…she wouldn't have wanted me killed…she would have understood…she would have shown me mercy…"
Sirius and Lupin dragged Pettigrew away from me and dumped him on the floor in the middle of the room, where he sat, twitching in terror. "You sold James and Rosemary to Wuya – do you deny it?" demanded Sirius, who was also shaking, but with rage rather than terror.
"Sirius, what could I have done?" Pettigrew wailed. "The Dark Lady…you have no idea…she has weapons you can't imagine…I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and Liliana. I never meant it to happen…She Who Must Not Be Named forced me-"
"Don't lie!" Seethed Sirius as he and Lupin jabbed their wands at Pettigrew. "You'd been passing information to her for a year before the Bravas died! You were her spy!"
"She – she was taking over everywhere!" Pettigrew cried. "Wh-what was there to be gained by refusing her?"
"What was there to be gained by fighting the most evil witch who has ever existed?" I demanded, speaking for the first time. My voice wasn't as loud as Sirius' had been, but it held a sort of cold fury that had been building up inside me throughout the conversation. I could see Omi attempting to put some distance between himself and me, preparing for an explosion.
"Only innocent lives, you little rat!" Raimundo spat at him.
"You don't understand!" Pettigrew whined at us.
"Oh, I think we understand more than you do." I hissed at him, utterly revolted by this man. If you could even call him that…
"She would've killed me!" So?
"Then you should have died!" Sirius thundered. "Died rather than betray your friends, as we would have done for you!"
The two friends stood shoulder to shoulder, wands raised. "You should have realised," Lupin spoke in a quiet voice full of suppressed rage. "If Wuya didn't kill you, we would. Goodbye, Peter."
"No." I moved at my Xiaolin Dragon speed to stand between Pettigrew and Sirius and Lupin, preventing them from casting any spell. The two of them stared at me, and I could feel Raimundo and Omi's disbelieving gaze.
"Kimiko, this piece of vermin is the reason you have no grandparents," Sirius snarled. "This cringing piece of filth would have seen you die, too, without turning a hair. You heard him. His own stinking skin meant more to him than two people who treated him like family."
"I know. We can take him up to the castle."
Pettigrew fell at my feet and flung his arms around my knees. "Thank you…bless you…"
"Get off!" I exclaimed in disgust. "I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing this because I don't reckon mama would want her two best friends to become killers – just for something as worthless as you." He shrank back a little, but not too far, so that he could hide behind me if Sirius or Lupin lunged. "Besides, I said we'll take you up to the castle. After that the Dementors can have you."
Sirius and Lupin lowered their wands when they realised that I wasn't completely sparing him; just sparing them. I stepped out of the way so that they could tie him up. But if you transform, we will kill you. You agree, Kimiko?" I nodded.
Raimundo and I half-carried Omi back through the tunnel, Lupin dragged Pettigrew and Sirius levitated Snape, though Snape's head kept bumping off the roof of the cave-like tunnel, and I don't think it was accidental. "You know what this means? Turning Pettigrew in?" Sirius asked to the group at large, an almost longing tone in his voice.
"You're free." I grinned.
"I don't know if anyone's ever told you," Lupin came over to join the conversation once we were out of the tunnel. "But we're your godparents." I grinned. I had wondered why I had never had godparents and I suppose papa never told me because it would've meant mentioning magic and he would've had to tell me the whole story; no doubt leading to another incident like when I was nine. Though the traditional pair of godparents was a godmother and godfather, I was glad mine were unusual – unusual godparents for a pretty unusual girl.
Suddenly the clouds shifted and our little group was bathed in moonlight as we reached where Raimundo and I had left Clay. Lupin was rigid. "Oh no. He didn't take his potion…"
"He's not safe!"
Raimundo and I put Omi down next to Clay and stood rooted to the spot in horror. We watched as Lupin became less and less human and more and more wolfish until a werewolf stood before us. Sirius bent down and transformed into the large black dog we had seen earlier and I saw Pettigrew do the same, and transform into a rat, scurrying away, across the grounds.
Sirius leapt at Lupin and the two began to fight, Sirius blocking Lupin from coming anywhere near us. They ran off and I took off after them, Raimundo close behind me while Omi yelled after us. I had to make sure my two godfathers were alright.
Lupin was advancing upon Sirius, who looked like he was losing and I looked about for anything to distract Lupin. I picked up a stone from the ground and threw it. It hit my target, Lupin's shoulder, and Lupin turned his attention to us. Okay…how to fight a werewolf…
There was a howling from somewhere in the forest and Lupin ran off to answer it. "Sirius…" I muttered, running in the direction I had seen him stumbling in.
I found him lying at the side of a lake, what I assumed were all of the Dementors guarding the school converging on him. "No! Expecto Patronum!" I tried to focus on the spell but there were too many Dementors and I couldn't focus on happy memories when Sirius was lying like that, looking so lifeless…
A Dementor approached me and pulled down its hood. Where there should've been a face was a huge gaping hole. I was filled with a paralysing fear and I looked to see Raimundo unconscious on the ground. Not him too…
The Dementor wrapped its clammy hands around my neck and I struggled against him, but it was no use. I was exhausted from the night's events and feeling drained from attempting to create a Patronus around so many Dementors. It forced my face upwards and I could feel its rotten breath on my face… No, not the Dementor's Kiss! I like my soul inside my body, thank you very much!
Then there was a sort of silvery light, growing brighter and the Dementor dropped me to the ground where I lay on my side, my vision blurring, but before it did, I saw a creature as bright as a unicorn cantering to the opposite shore, and someone welcoming it back, raising a hand as if to pet it, with a taller someone standing behind them, but my vision was too blurry to make out anything about the figures. Then my vision went black.
I opened my eyes to see the Hospital Wing with Clay, still unconscious, in a bed; Omi lying awake with his foot in a cast, probably since the leg wound was so bad; and Raimundo sitting up in bed and arguing with Madame Pomfrey. "Look, I'm perfectly fine! Just let me up! I have to-" He noticed me sitting up too and his face filled with relief.
Madame Pomfrey followed his line of sight and allowed herself a small smile, a knowing smile, if you ask me. Why is it that everyone does that around us? "Alright, as long as you eat that." She pointed to a chocolate bar on the bedside table and walked back to her room. Raimundo picked up his chocolate, I picked up a slab that I found on my bedside table and we headed over to Omi's bed since Clay was still asleep. "What happened after you chased after the dog and the werewolf?"
"Well, Sirius was injured and Lupin chased after some wolf call in the forest. Then, we followed Sirius and were swamped by Dementors."
Just then, Master Fung walked into the Hospital Wing. "Master Fung, you've got to stop them! They've got the wrong man!" I exclaimed. I could only assume that if we were found and brought here, Sirius was too, and what they would do to him, would not be pretty.
"Sirius is innocent!" Raimundo backed me up.
"It was Scabbers that did it." Omi spoke up.
"Scabbers…?" Master Fung raised an eyebrow in the way that meant he had no clue what we were on about.
"Clay's rat, Master Fung. Only, he's not really a rat. Well, he was a rat, he was Clay's rat and-"
"The point is; we know the truth."
"Please, Master Fung, you must believe us."
"I do believe you, Miss Tohomiko, but I'm sorry to say that the word of two thirteen-year-old wizards and a twelve-year-old witch will convince few others." Damn it! There had to be something we could do!
Just then the clock struck midnight. Wait… "Mysterious thing, time." Master Fung stated in his usual airy tone. "Powerful. And when meddled with, dangerous." He lowered voice. "Now, pay attention. Sirius is locked in Professor Flitwick's office on the seventh floor – thirteenth window from the right of the West Tower. If you succeed, more than one innocent life may be spared. Miss Tohomiko, you know the law – you know what is at stake… you – must – not – be – seen." He walked back towards the door. "I'm going to lock you in. You would do well to return before the last chime. Oh, three turns should do the trick." And with a wink he was gone. Of course…
"What the bloody hell was that all about?" Raimundo stood there with his head cocked to the side.
I pulled the necklace from the front of my t-shirt and looped the chain around Raimundo's neck as well. "Sorry Omi, but seeing as you can't walk…" I twisted it three times, raising my free hand to slap Raimundo's away as he tried to poke it. I felt the familiar sensation and soon we were standing in an empty Hospital Wing. "What happened? Where's Omi? And Clay?"
I ignored him and glanced at the clock. "Seven thirty." I muttered to myself, wracking my memory. "Where were we at seven thirty?"
"Dunno…going to Hagrid's?" Raimundo answered, his face twisted in confusion.
I grabbed his arm and dragged him behind me. "Come on, and we can't be seen!"
I pulled him to a stop as we came to the small clearing where we confronted Jack and Ashley earlier, and grinned as I heard myself threatening Spicer. "But that…that's us…" Raimundo's eyes were wide. "This is not normal…" Of course not, when had anything been normal in our life?
I pulled the necklace from my t-shirt again. It was a simple, long chain with a mini hourglass set in a circle with a knob so I could twist it. "See this? This is a Time Turner. Well, sort of. It's actually the Sands of Time on a chain, modelled after a Time Turner, but that's not the point. Professor McGonagall gave it to me first term – it's how I've been getting to my classes all year."
"You mean…we've gone back in time?" I rolled my eyes in a sort of 'duh' gesture. "But why to here if we're supposed to save Sirius?"
"Master Fung said that 'more than one innocent life could be spared'…" I trailed off and I glanced at him and knew he was thinking the exact same thing.
"We'll fly him to the window to save Sirius – they can fly away together!"
"If we manage that without being seen it will be a miracle!" I shook my head, grinning. "But, we've got to try. Come on."
It felt weird this time. I had gone back in time before – every day, but that had been to go to different classes, there was no way I could run into myself. Now, however… But that just made it all the more exciting.
We hid in the pumpkin patch while the four of us in real time were in Hagrid's Hut. "Why can't we just get Buckbeak now?" Raimundo whined as we crouched behind the pumpkin.
"We have to let Fudge and the executioner see him. Otherwise they'll think Hagrid set him free!"
He groaned. "You do realise that that'll give us about a minute, right?"
I nodded brightly. What's life without a little challenge?
We hid in the trees at the edge of the forest as we came out of Hagrid's hut and ran back up to the castle with Pettigrew. As soon as Fudge, the executioner and Master Fung were inside Hagrid's Hut, we dashed out and bowed to Buckbeak, attempting to get him up and out of sight before the minister saw us. Boy, would we be in trouble then! It seemed that Master Fung had an inkling that he would send us to do this, as he kept stalling, insisting that he would sign his name on the official papers, "It's such a very long name." he had sighed. Also, he ensured that they had their backs turned for another few moments, pointing out a field of blackberries, apparently planted when Armando Dippet was headmaster, and giving us just enough time to escape with Buckbeak.
We ran with Buckbeak through the forest until we sat on the edge, the Whomping Willow within our line of sight. We saw ourselves go in, then Lupin and finally Snape. "And now, we wait." I muttered.
"Kimiko? What happened at the lake? You know, after I – uh – passed out."
"I don't really know." I admitted, straining to remember. "The Dementor tried to give me The Kiss-"
"It WHAT!" Raimundo exclaimed.
"It's no big deal, Rai, it didn't do it."
"Rai?" He cocked his head to the side, an eyebrow raised.
I froze. "I…uh…I'm sorry…I didn't mean…"
"I like it." I returned his shy smile. "But it is a big deal." He insisted and I rolled my eyes.
"Okay. Then there was this really bright silvery light and some sort of creature, and it drove the Dementors away. Then I fainted too."
"I heard Snape and some others talking. The only thing that could've done that was a Patronus; and a really powerful one too. Only a really powerful witch or wizard could've conjured one."
"I couldn't see them. My vision was too blurry. Well, we can go back and see who it was." We lapsed into a comfortable silence then we saw ourselves emerging again. We watched Lupin transform and ran along the edges of the forest to keep ourselves in sight as we chased after Lupin and Sirius.
I saw myself throw the stone at Lupin and remembered something I had read in a book. Werewolves respond to the call of their own kind… I cupped my hands around my mouth and made my best attempt. Oh, how I wish I had the Tongue of Saiping right now! Raimundo grabbed my hands and tried to pull them away from my mouth. "What are you doing?" He hissed.
I shoved him off. "Saving our lives." I hissed back before calling once again.
"Oh. Thanks, I guess."
"Now, come on!" I grabbed his hand again but he planted his feet.
"Why?" I raised an eyebrow and pointed over his shoulder to where Lupin was now charging straight towards us. His eyes widened comically and he tightened his grip on my hand as we sprinted away from that spot, Buckbeak following us.
I noticed the Dementors gliding overhead and headed for the lake. It was horrible. Sirius and Raimundo were lying motionless on the ground and a Dementor was lowering its hood and wrapping its clammy hands around my neck to try and force my face up. I shuddered at the memory of the feel of those hands and- Did Raimundo just…growl…?
I looked to where I had seen the blurry figures, but there was no one there. The Dementor was getting closer and closer to the other me and then it hit me. I ran to the edge of the lake, the opposite edge from where the other me was, pulling out my wand. "What are you doing?" Raimundo hissed, running after me.
"Expecto Patronum!" I cried out and my eyes widened as a silver stag erupted from the end of my wand. It galloped towards the Dementors and chased them all away, and as it returned to me, I saw the other me sink to the ground.
"You…you just…" Raimundo stuttered, amazed. I grinned widely.
"I guess I'm the 'really powerful witch', huh?" he continued to gape. "I knew I could do it because…well, I'd already done it! Does that make sense?"
A wide grin spread across his face. "No, but-" he stopped abruptly and pulled me behind a tree. I blinked owlishly at him. "Sorry," he whispered, rubbing the back of his neck, a pink tinge spreading across his face. "But Snape's there now. Couldn't have him seeing us." I peered around the tree and saw Snape magically lifting us onto stretchers.
We hurried back to fetch Buckbeak and returned to the edge of the forest, keeping an eye out for Lupin. "D'you reckon he's up there yet?"
"There's Macnair gone to fetch the Dementors! This is it – let's go!"
We climbed on Buckbeak's back and since I was tiny and Raimundo was still thirteen, there was enough room for both of us on Buckbeak's small back. When we reached Sirius' window, I jumped off of Buckbeak, conjuring fire to hold me in the air, and cast Alohamora at it. It swung open and Raimundo jumped off too, allowing Sirius to climb on, since he was a full grown man. I closed the window again, to avoid suspicion, and Sirius nudged Buckbeak on, Raimundo bent the wind to carry him through the air and I propelled myself with the flames like a rocket. "Goodbye, Sirius! And good luck!" we called as the two figures disappeared in the distance, my enhanced hearing allowing me to hear his final, "You're truly your mother's daughter, Kimiko!" as he vanished.
We flew in through the window nearest the Hospital Wing and saw Master Fung about to lock the doors. "Well?"
"We did it, Master Fung, they're both safe."
He beamed at us. "Well done. I think," he paused to listen at the door. "Yes, I think you've gone too. Go, I'll lock you in."
We hurried inside and saw ourselves leaving. Omi turned to face us with wide eyes. "How did you get there? I was just talking to you there – and now you're there!"
"What's he talking about, Rai?"
He shrugged. "Dunno. Honestly Omi, how can anyone be in two places at once?" We cracked up laughing and climbed back into bed, sending Omi the memories to sift through.
We heard voices, raised voices, coming along the hallway towards the Hospital Wing. "He must've disapparated, Severus. We should've left someone in the room with him-" That was Fudge.
"YOU CAN'T APPARATE OR DISAPPARATE INSIDE THIS CASTLE! THIS – HAS – SOMETHING – TO – DO – WITH – TOHOMIKO – AND PEDROSA!" And that was Snape.
"Severus – be reasonable – they've been locked up-"
An amused, Master Fung, an angry Fudge and an absolutely furious Snape entered the Hospital Wing then and Snape strode towards us and stood between mine and Raimundo's beds which were facing each other, looking from one to the other, quite purple in the face from all the yelling. "OUT WITH IT TOHOMIKO, PEDROSA! WHAT DID YOU DO?"
"Professor Snape!" shrieked a horrified Madame Pomfrey. "Control yourself!"
"See here, Snape, be reasonable," Fudge implored him. "This door's been locked, we just saw-"
"THEY HELPED HIM ESCAPE, I KNOW IT!"
"Calm down, man! You're talking nonsense!"
"YOU DON'T KNOW THOSE TWO! THEY DID IS, I KNOW THEY DID IT-"
"That will do, Severus," Master Fung spoke for the first time. "Think about what you are saying. This door has been locked since I left the ward minutes ago. Madame Pomfrey, have these two left their beds?"
"Of course not!"
"Well, there you have it Severus. Unless Kimiko and Raimundo are able to be in two places at once, I'm afraid I see no point in troubling them further."
Snape stormed out and it was all I could do to control my laughter. "Fellow seems quite unbalanced." Fudge stared after Snape warily. "I'd watch out for him, if I were you, Master Fung."
"Oh, he's not unbalanced. He's just suffered a severe disappointment."
"Yes, well… I'd better go inform the ministry…"
"And the Dementors? I trust they'll be removed from the school?"
"Oh, yes, of course, they'll have to go. Never dreamed they'd try to administer The Kiss on an innocent girl…" Fudge and Master Fung left, Fudge still rambling and as he left, Master Fung winked, and the three of us that were awake burst out laughing.
Lupin resigned when Snape, in his anger over Sirius, let it 'slip' at breakfast that Lupin was a werewolf. I went to his office before he went and we had a chat about mama and my grandparents before he gave me back the map.
Telling Clay about Scabbers wasn't an easy task – he'd had him since he was four years old. But we told him, and eventually we found ourselves on the train back to King's Cross station, Clay, Omi, Raimundo and I in a compartment. About halfway along the journey, a tiny excitable owl appeared by the window, which we opened and he plopped down in my lap with a letter. It was from Sirius and he told me that he and Buckbeak were in hiding until it was safe for them to return to Lupin's house, where he had been staying. It also told me that he and Lupin had bought me the Firebolt, 'as a joint twelve years worth of birthday presents from my godparents.' Well, technically, eleven years, since they did buy me a first birthday present…
It also contained a post script, "PS: I thought your friend Clay might like to keep this owl, since it's my fault he no longer has a rat."
"Keep him?" Clay muttered.
Raimundo eyed the little owl and then scooped him up from my lap and held him out for Hanabi to sniff. "What d'you reckon? Definitely an owl?" Hanabi purred.
"That's good enough for me!" Clay grinned, lifting the owl from Raimundo's hands and we all burst out laughing.
"What's so funny in here?" Ricardo stuck his head into our compartment, Fernando following him with a pile of books.
"Oh, you know your idols the Marauders?" Raimundo asked them, a mischievous glint in his eye.
"What about them?" Ricardo asked, sitting down on the seat.
"We know who they are?"
"Really?" The twins exchanged eager glances. "Who are they?"
"Well, you know Moony." I began, watching as Fernando hurried to put the books on the overhead rack so he could sit next to Ricardo to hear.
"Oh yeah," Raimundo nodded nonchalantly. "Since you've been taught Defence by him for the last year."
Fernando dropped his books on Ricardo's head, but he didn't seem to notice. "No way… Professor Lupin's Moony?"
"No wonder we couldn't get away with anything in his class!"
"What about Wormtail?" They asked eagerly, not noticing all of us tense at the mention of his name.
"He used to be my rat." Clay cut in. The twins just looked confused.
"An animagus." I explained. "And the one who sold out my grandparents to Wuya." They didn't look quite so happy about this.
"Padfoot is Sirius Black."
Their eyes widened in horror. "We've been looking up to a mass murderer?"
"Well, yes, but Sirius is innocent. It was really Pettigrew – Wormtail."
"And Prongs?" they asked. Raimundo and I exchanged glances. Time for the big finale.
"Prongs was my mother."
They stared in shock. "But…why would her nickname be 'Prongs'?"
"Oh, they all became Animagi so they could accompany Moony when he transformed, but when mama was doing the spell, Sirius distracted her and she messed it up – becoming a stag rather than a doe."
"S-so… your mother was a marauder?" I nodded proudly and they dropped to their knees. "We are not worthy!" They chanted. I giggled.
"Plus, the other two true marauders – not that backstabbing little rat – are her godparents." Raimundo added and the twins looked as if they were about to faint.
"We definitely made the right choice in giving you the map." Fernando said weakly.
"Definitely." Ricardo agreed. Then his face lit up. "Hey, can you introduce us?"