Actions

Work Header

Fate's Chosen

Chapter Text

2018 | Manhattan, New York City

It was a typical Monday afternoon in the city. The sun had just begun to set, barely touching the horizon as it slowly sank down, giving the overview of the city an orange tint. The busy streets were filled with people rushing home from work, not bothering to apologize as they bumped into one another in their haste. Frustrated car honks filled the air as the heavy traffic got worse. A tall white building stood amidst this chaos. It was an apartment complex, home to three soon-to-be very important girls whose only wishes were a change from their ever-monotonous lives. These girls were Ashley Theroux, Alyssa Knight, and Mitchelle Saber. They had no idea but Fate had something special planned for them that day. And it all had something to with the newly-opened shop built right across their building.

It was a quaint little shop; the outside walls were painted like the dark night sky. A giant sign hung above it, the words 'Sticks & Stones' etched into it. There were barely any customers, no matter what time of the day, which was quite unusual. It was a bit Harry Potter-themed, from what the girls could tell, so they thought that the shop would get a lot more attention than it was currently receiving. The Harry Potter fandom was quite big. Apparently though, the majority of the people in the city weren't attracted to it. The girls, however, were. This is what led to Ashley, Alyssa, and Mitchelle pushing through the crowded street as they headed towards the aforementioned shop.

"Excuse me-ow! Sorry, sorry, excuse me..."

The girls finally reached their destination, thankfully without much injury. Linking their arms together, they grinned and entered through the double glass doors. Immediately, the whole atmosphere changed. The interior of the shop gave off this strange but homey feeling and the girls felt it surround them comfortably. The noises coming from the streets were blocked out the moment the doors shut. It was such a peaceful setting that it made the girls never want to leave.

The trio glanced around, taking in the decor. Black robes with different colored linings were hung up on one of the ombre blue walls, specifically the one across the entrance. The wall to the right was lined with banners and below them were brooms, all of which were in various designs. One corner of the room had stacks of small cauldrons stacked in pyramids. There were four aisles of wooden shelves, each one filled with 'magical' knickknacks, 'spell books', and other items that really did belong in the Harry Potter universe. The girls were so absorbed in taking a look around that they didn't notice the two figures watching them with mischief shining bright within their blue eyes.

"Good afternoon."

The girls' attention snapped towards the sources of the deeply-voiced greeting. Standing behind the wooden counter connected to the far wall on the left were two strapping young men grinning right at them. Twins, the girls realized. Aside from their identical physical features, the twins also wore identical all-black suits. The dark hue of their clothing contrasted with their pale and freckled complexion. It was odd how familiar they seemed but the girls were fairly sure that they hadn't met before. They couldn't have. This was their first time visiting the store after all, and they didn't exactly spend much time outside their apartment.

"Good afternoon." Ashley greeted politely.

Her two companions voiced their own replies before they headed for the items on display. Mitchelle approached the rows of spell books while Alyssa drifted towards the robes. The twins shared an amused look as Ashley pouted at suddenly being left all alone. She blinked, confused, when the two men signaled her to come over. Glancing at her distracted friends, she shrugged before complying. She walked up to the counter and smiled at the twins.

"Hello. Assuming you're the owners, you have a very lovely shop." She commented.

"Thank you, but definitely not as lovely as you." The twins flirted simultaneously, one daring to send a wink.

Shocked by the statement, Ashley blushed and giggled sheepishly. The twins sent her identical smirks that only served to fluster her even more. Regaining her composure after a second, she politely introduced herself. The slightly shorter of the two copied her actions, introducing themselves as Felix and Gareth. There really was something familiar about them; Ashley just couldn't point out what. Maybe she had seen them before...

"You know that all these things aren't real, right?" Felix leaned in to whisper.

Sighing, Ashley nodded.

"Yes, I do, but that doesn't mean I find these things any less interesting." She said.

"Interesting, you say?" Gareth leaned in as well, bracing his hands on top of the counter.

"It's magic, of course it's interesting! Life would be great if magic existed." Ashley shrugged; her mind running with ideas of what life would be like if she was a witch herself.

The twins then shared a look she didn't quite understand.

"Oh, but it does!" They exclaimed, turning their attention back to her.

"You literally just said that the stuff here are all fakes..." Ashley's eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

"That's right,-" Felix piped up.

"-the items we sell in this shop are fakes-" Gareth continued.

"-but magic, on the other hand,-"

"-is very real-"

"-and we have proof!" The twins finished together.

The way they talked, how they continued each other's sentences perfectly without fault... It reminded Ashley of two people who acted the exact same way, but whom? Why couldn't she think of whom? It was all there, the clues were practically hitting her in the face, but she just couldn't figure it out for the life of her! Shaking her head, she chose to ignore the familiarity and, instead, focused on replying to the twins.

"Really? What?" She asked curiously.

She watched as they ducked behind the counter, seemingly searching for something. As she waited for them to resurface, she took a glance at her friends over her shoulder. They were still busy although, now they had switched places. Alyssa was reading through a thick book with a purple cover while Mitchelle was trying out a black robe. Hearing a triumphant yell, Ashley turned back just in time to see the twins stand back to their full height. Held firmly in Gareth's hands was a small wooden chest. Multiple runic symbols were carved on the sides of the chest and some on top of the lid.

"We present to you..." The twins trailed off as Felix grabbed hold of the lid.

"...the Wishing Stone!"

Inside the chest was a beautiful black obsidian stone. It sat on top of a vibrant red cushion, practically thrumming with energy. Magic, Ashley hoped to believe. It was alluring, to say the least. Ashley felt the strange need to reach out for it, and reach out for it she did. The moment her fingertips grazed the polished surface of the stone, a shock ran up her arm. She jumped back, hugging her arm close to her chest.

"Wow..." She muttered, her startled state of mind not allowing her to say anything else.

"Wow, indeed!" Gareth grinned.

"Huh... I'm guessing it grants wishes then?" Ashley mused, her supposed question coming across as more of a statement.

"Look at how smart our little raven is, Gareth!" Fred said, nudging his twin brother.

"I didn't doubt it for a second, Felix!" Gareth replied enthusiastically.

Little raven? Ashley thought quizzically, why would they call me that?

"This little stone right here does grant wishes."

"Unfortunately, it's been used one too many times already."

"So now, there's only one wish left!"

"And we've decided to give this wish to you, little raven."

"We know you'll use it wisely."

"Yes, we have much faith in you. Don't we, brother-dear?"

"Why yes, we do, brother-mine."

Ashley just stared at the twins all throughout that little exchange. Her mind was processing things a little too slowly in that moment. She didn't really know whether the twins were joking with her or not. The shock the stone gave her was definitely real, she could still feel it in her arm, but it could have been rigged as a prank.

"I... Thank you...?"

Nevertheless, she still accepted the stone being offered to her. She didn't dare touch it though. She took the chest and closed it, cradling it in her arms like a mother would a baby. Realizing something, she quickly spoke up.

"Wait, how much is this?" She asked, already reaching for her wallet.

"Being the generous souls that we are,-" Felix began.

"-we've decided to give it to you for free!" Gareth finished.

Ashley didn't miss the subtle grin they shared with each other. They had something planned and she was fairly sure that it had something to do with the stone now in her possession. They definitely knew something that she didn't. Maybe all of this was just some elaborate prank. Well, either way, Ashley was still going to take the stone. Why not, right?

Ashley turned around when she felt a tap on her shoulder. There were Mitchelle and Alyssa, both carrying stacks of books of varying sizes. The taller of the two, Mitchelle, wore a robe with yellow lining while the other wore a robe with green lining. With one hand balancing her own items to buy, Alyssa held out a robe Ashley guessed was meant for her, a robe with red lining. Of course they chose those colors. Each person was a member of Hufflepuff, Slytherin and Gryffindor respectively.

Ashley grabbed her robe and slid it on before turning back to the counter, now with Alyssa flanking her left and Mitch on her right. They paid for their items and took one last look around, somehow sensing that they would never be able to come back even if they wanted to. They thanked the twins with a smile before leaving the way they came. However, a hand around her wrist stopped Ashley from following her friends.

"Be careful, little raven." Gareth said, letting go of her wrist.

"And good luck. We'll be there whenever you need us." Felix reached out and patted her head gently.

Now, Ashley hated it when people patted her head. It usually meant that they were mocking her anger or worse, her height. She had accepted that she was short, very short since she was only 5"1, but she didn't necessarily appreciate it when people mentioned it, repeatedly, unless they were very close. These twins though, they weren't mocking her, not even the slightest. The smiles they sent her were comforting and the emotion in their eyes held something soft. What? Ashley didn't know. Nevertheless, she nodded along and went on her way. With her back to the store as she crossed to her building, she was oblivious to the way the twins disappeared with a quiet crack.

Later that day, when the sun had completely gone down and the stars lit up the sky alongside the full moon, the girls thought of an idea to further enjoy their new outfits and books. They were going to re-watch all the Harry Potter movies. They rearranged their small living room, moving the couch and the coffee table to leave space in front of the TV. Together, they built a pillow fort and bundled up with their snacks and blankets. And so, the movie marathon began.

They were thoroughly enjoying themselves but then, halfway through Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the over thinking began. High on a sugar rush with ideas running wild, the girls began discussing each of the movies. What they would have changed, how they would have acted and reacted to certain events and such, they talked about all of it. They especially complained about all the deaths that could have been prevented, namely Sirius (Ashley was still very bitter about that, the MIRROR, HARRY, THE MIRROR!). They felt that a lot of things would have been exponentially different if they were in place of the Golden Trio. Then, Ashley remembered a certain little stone given to her.

"Wait, I got it! I'll be right back!"

Alyssa and Mitchelle shared a confused look as she ran to her bedroom. She spotted the wooden chest resting on her bedside table where she had placed it earlier. Grabbing it, she rushed back to the living room and plopped down on the floor. The other girls looked on curiously as she quickly explained the item she held while opening the small chest. Hesitating only for a second, she breathed out a sigh of relief as the stone didn't shock her this time.

"So, how does it work?" Mitchelle asked, taking the stone and observing it for herself.

Ashley froze and chewed on her bottom lip. She realized that the twins never told her how it worked. She didn't know if it really did work. She was going to try either way. It wasn't like the three of them had anything better to do. They were still on break from their university. They had time to spare and absolutely nothing to lose if they made a wish on the stone.

"Well... I don't actually know but I'm sure we can figure it out!" She reassured, taking the stone from Mitchelle's hand and placing it in the middle of their triangle.

"Okay... First, what are we gonna wish for?" Alyssa asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

"We are gonna wish to be the Golden Trio! Unless you don't want to...?" Ashley hesitated, looking in between her friends.

"Of course we want to! We'd get to have magic!" Mitchelle exclaimed.

"I'd be happy to have magic too, but honestly, I just want to see Draco." Alyssa giggled.

"Same! Not with Draco, though. I'd love to see Sirius and Remus." Ashley swooned, getting that distant look in her eyes whenever she started daydreaming.

"Okay then, we're gonna do this."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"...How do we do this?"

"We just make the wish, I guess? Oh, oh, get the disk!"

"What disk?"

"The first movie, we have to start with that one!"

Clueless, Mitchelle reached for the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone disk resting near the TV. She gave it to an excited Ashley who laid it on the floor before placing the Wishing Stone over it. Ashley stretched her hands towards each girl, staring at them expectantly. The girls shrugged and grabbed her hands before interlocking theirs as well, figuring that she wanted them to hold hands as if they were about to participate in some kind of ritual. Technically, what they were doing could have been seen as a ritual, especially since it involved a magical Wishing Stone.

"Well, now what?" Mitchelle deadpanned.

"Close our eyes, maybe? Then, we could chant something?" Alyssa suggested.

It felt like they were about to hold a ritual which...wasn't that far off. They could have just stated their wish already but instead, they chose to chant around the magic stone.

"Okay, um... Chant 'we wish to be the Golden Trio'." Ashley said.

"How many times do we say it?"

"I don't know... Does it matter?"

"We'll chant it three times, how 'bout that?"

The girls agreed and so, they closed their eyes and began chanting. During the first chant, nothing happened. Then, the magic came alive. The stone gained a bright white glow, wisps of magic appearing and swirling around the joined hands. Feeling the sudden change in the room, the girls opened their eyes and were greeted with the sight of the glowing stone. They broke their little triangle in shock. Now, each of them was chanting 'oh my Godric' while leaning away.

"What's happening, what's happening?!" Mitchelle panicked.

"I don't know! I didn't think it would work!" Ashley panicked back.

"Guys, look!" Alyssa pointed at the stone.

While they were talking, the Wishing Stone's glow had begun to dim to the point of losing it completely. The room was silent for a moment as the girls stared wide-eyed at the stone. One of them let out a squeak as red letters formed on the stone's surface. They watched as the letters spelled out Ashley's full name, which then promptly changed to 'Elizabeth Ashley Potter'. A second later, it was replaced by yellow letters spelling out Mitchelle's name, which then transformed to 'Amity Mitchelle Granger'. This process repeated with Alyssa. This time with green letters, and her name had transformed to 'Alyssa Ivy Weasley'.

"What...? Ow, fuck!" Ashley cursed.

Her whole body suddenly felt heavy. There was a painful pounding in her head, causing her eyes to tear up. When she raised her hands to hold her head, all who were present gasped at what they saw. Ashley's hands were being sucked into the stone, inch by inch, slowly at first. Her fingers were already gone and she was currently losing her palms. In the back of her mind, she was laughing as she remembered similar scenes in the movie Jumanji.

The two girls could only stare in horror as they watched their best friend disappear completely into the stone. Before either of them could properly assess the situation, they felt the same pounding in their heads. Alyssa winced in pain but was distracted by Mitchelle's terrified scream. She, too, was being sucked into the stone. When Alyssa looked down at her hands, well, they were no longer there. The last thought she had was what the fuck did we just do?

Chapter Text

1991 | 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey

It was dark when Ashley regained consciousness. The pain in her head was thankfully gone but now, she was somewhere she didn't recognize... Not yet, at least. She was lying on an uncomfortable bed and from what she could see; she was inside a small room a very small room. It was suffocating. She wasn't exactly claustrophobic but that didn't mean that she appreciated being inside of small enclosed spaces. She attempted to look around a bit more but her eyesight was blurred. Where were her glasses? She blindly searched, patting around the cot as she sat up. When she found them, she immediately noticed the difference. The frame was too thin... And why was it broken? The bridge was barely being held together by tape. Nevertheless, she put it on.

Where am I? What did that stone do?

She slipped the blanket off and combed a hand through her hair. She looked down at herself and noticed her odd clothing. She was wearing a grey shirt with striped pajama pants, both garments two sizes too big for her. Frowning, she turned the light on and took a proper look around the room. The shelves by the head of the bed, the slanted ceiling of the room, the minuscule open vent on the door... It was all so familiar to her, and she was slowly starting to realize why. Before she could ponder more, the light outside the door turned on as a voice rang out.

"Up. Get up, now!"

Oh. Oh.

There were several knocks against the door and then, a loud smack. That voice... Ashley recognized that voice. Who wouldn't? It was Petunia Dursley, the infamous aunt of Harry Potter. That confirmed it. The wish had worked! Ashley was now in the place of Harry Potter, now named Elizabeth Ashley Potter, during the first film. Her thoughts drifted to her friends. What had happened to them? Well, if the wish really did work, then they were in their respective places as the replacements of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. I'll see them again eventually, Ashley assured herself. There was nothing to worry about aside from her wicked new family. Snatching her away from her thoughts were the sounds of heavy footsteps coming from above.

"Wake up, cousin! We're going to the zoo!"

Dudley Dursley, Ashley thought bitterly as the boy jumped on top of the steps, causing dust to fall down on her. She turned her glare upwards as she heard her pig of a cousin laugh. She listened intently for telltale sound of the kitchen door closing as Dudley entered, knowing that she would be pushed back inside the cupboard if she left too early.

"Oh, here he comes, the birthday boy!"

And that was her muffled cue. She went through her room's open door and closed it behind her, heading into the kitchen. She made it just in time to hear her uncle's greeting. To Dudley of course, he never would have greeted her if it was her birthday. She ignored the 'happy' family and instantly began cooking the bacon, not bothering to wait for her aunt's order. It was a good thing she already knew how to cook. She probably would have received a beating if she messed up their breakfast.

"I want everything to be perfect for my Dudley's special day." Petunia cooed.

Ashley mentally gagged, mouthing the words mockingly as the vile woman said them. She made sure not to get caught. That also would have earned her a beating or two. She grabbed the plates and carefully placed the cooked bacon on each one, half tempted to secretly spit in them. The Dursleys would have had it coming... She had to wait though. She didn't have her magic just yet. Well, not really, she just hadn't had the time to practice her magic.

"Hurry up! Bring my coffee, girl!" Vernon ordered.

"Yes, Uncle Vernon." Ashley answered, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.

She brought the plates over to the table where the whale sat before grabbing a mug and the coffee pot. She watched Petunia lead Dudley into the living room in the corner of her eye, preparing herself for the spoiled boy's outburst.

"Aren't they wonderful, darling?" Petunia smiled and stood behind her son.

"How many are there?" Dudley asked, looking towards his father.

"Thirty six, counted 'em myself." Vernon seemed far too proud for counting thirty six presents, was that such a hard thing to do?

"Thirty six?!" Dudley exclaimed.

Here we go, Ashley thought, placing the coffee pot down and wringing her hands in front of her.

"But, last year, last year I had thirty seven!" Dudley complained.

Ashley let out a quiet irritated sigh, ducking her head and letting her hair curtain her face. That was when she noticed its much darker hue. Instead of the cool dark brown she was used to, her hair was now jet black. That wasn't the only noticeable difference. It was cut shorter, only reaching around mid-back instead of her hips, and it cascaded down her back elegantly, unlike the messy Potter hair she was expecting, especially in her state of having just woken up.

"Move, freak, you're in my way!"

And suddenly, she was being pushed to the floor by a snickering Dudley as he sat in his seat at the table. She made no move to stand back up, stuck in her thoughts as she wondered if cursing him would be worth the wasted energy. She didn't know if she could even achieve a simple hex but she could definitely try. In the end, she decided against it and brushed off any dirt on her clothes as she got to her feet. Her family would get what they deserved eventually; she was going to make sure of it. They would suffer, immensely, at her hands. Yes, that could be considered cruel and a tad bit merciless but she had never been the nicest person out there.

Her aunt and uncle ignored her and so, she knew she wasn't going to be eating that morning. She stood off to the side like a maid waiting for her masters' next orders. It was degrading, she hated it. She wondered how Harry survived living with that kind of people for so long. She could barely stand them and she hadn't even been there for an hour yet.

Thankfully, they were nice enough to let her use the bathroom before they left for the zoo. She knew they weren't thinking of her when they allowed this. They were just worried about what people would say about her and, additionally and most importantly, about them. This theory was proved further when her aunt threw a pair of Dudley's old pants and a belt right in her face. Dudley decided to get in on it too and placed an oversized flannel on her head. They really were testing her patience, weren't they?

When she was fully dressed and as presentable as possible given the loose clothing, she followed the family outside. She blocked out Petunia's constant yapping and continued to walk with her head hung low, attempting to avoid trouble. Unfortunately, before she could get in the car with her aunt and cousin, she was stopped by the whale she called her uncle.

"I'm warning you now, girl. Any funny business, any at all, and you won't have any meals for a week. Get in." Vernon maliciously pointed his keys at her.

She watched the tip of the keys move around, blatantly ignoring her uncle's threat. She supposed she should have been subtle because he noticed and grabbed her upper arm roughly. He slammed her against the car door before sliding in the driver's seat. Ashley sighed and got in, sitting as far as she could from Dudley. She did take her uncle's threat about starving her seriously, but what could she do? Even if she behaved properly during the short trip, those monsters would eventually come up with something that would guarantee her no meals. She was left at their mercy, but hopefully not for long if her plans worked out all right.

The drive to the zoo was awfully uneventful except for the jabs thrown her way by Dudley. Thankful to be out of the stuffy car, she smiled up at the sign that said 'London Zoo'. She tried to wander around aimlessly, wanting to see all the animals by herself without being in the presence of worse animals. The Dursleys let her, probably hoping for them to get lucky somehow and for her to get lost through the crowd (she didn't). She trailed behind them after Dudley deliberately attempted to push her in the lion enclosure. Yes, she was a Gryffindor, but facing a lion as a ten year old was a different kind of idiotic and reckless courage.

They finally arrived at the reptile house where Ashley immediately headed for the large boa constrictor. She watched in fascination as he, she was fairly sure the snake was male, slithered around the glass enclosure. He raised his head and met her gaze, staring at her intently before curling up and closing his eyes. Before she could utter a simple greeting, the Dursleys were surrounding her once more.

"Make it move." Dudley said (demanded, really).

Vernon complied, tapping on the glass and ordering the snake to move. The boa ignored him, refusing to open his eyes and end his peaceful nap. Ashley shot a glare at her cousin as he tapped harder on the glass, but she continued to stay silent. She knew she would end up being shoved to the ground again if she spoke up. Better to stay quiet for the time being. With Dudley bored, the Dursleys moved away to find something else to entertain their boy. Ashley stayed by the boa, wondering how she was supposed to access Parseltongue. Figuring it came naturally, she opened her mouth to speak.

"Hello there." She greeted.

She didn't know if it had worked or not. Parseltongue sounded exactly like English to her ears; she didn't even hear herself hiss. Apparently, it did though. The boa had raised his head and leaned closer to the glass barrier.

"You speak my language... How is this possible?" The snake asked, tilting its diamond-shaped head to the right.

"It's a long story. My name is Ashley. May I ask for yours?" Ashley smiled, placing a hand on the glass.

"My name is Moko, little one." Moko replied.

Ashley glanced around and saw that the Dursleys were busy with bothering another snake. Turning her attention back to the large snake in front of her, she leaned in closer to whisper.

"It is very nice to meet you, Moko. Would you like to get out of here?" Ashley giggled as the snake quickly nodded.

"Will you be able to help me?" Moko asked.

"Yes. See, I'm a witch. I can make this glass disappear if I'd like to. But, you have to promise not to hurt anyone here in this zoo when you escape. Is that okay?" Ashley bargained.

With Moko's hiss of agreement, she stepped back and focused on the glass, mentally willing it to vanish. And vanish it did. Just in time as well. Ashley dodged the incoming mass of force named Dudley who had seen the now-awake snake.

"Mummy, dad, come here!" He exclaimed excitedly.

Not expecting the lack of a glass wall, he lurched forward and fell into the open enclosure, landing in a pool of water. Ashley happily watched as he sputtered at being so close to a snake that size. Moko slithered pass him but not before baring his fangs and hissing threateningly. Dudley's scream was pure music to Ashley's ears. Moko successfully got out of the enclosure and stopped in front of Ashley, raising his head to nudge the palm of her right hand. She briefly wondered about the warmth in her chest as he did that.

"Thank you, little one." He hissed gratefully.

Ashley giggled at the high-pitched shrieks of the people present as the snake slithered by them towards the exit. She glanced back at Dudley and smirked, willing the glass to reappear. When he moved to get out, his hands were stopped by the see-through barrier. Ashley enjoyed seeing the terrified wide-eyed gaze he held as he pounded on the glass, calling out for his beloved mummy.

"AHHH!" Petunia came rushing by with a confused Vernon in tow.

"Mum, help! Help me!" Dudley looked this close to crying.

"My darling boy, how did you get in there?!"

Petunia and Dudley continued to panic. The whole situation was simply humorous to Ashley who was trying her best to hold in her laughter. It became easier when Vernon looked back at her. She instantly put on a shocked look, copying Petunia's wide-eyed expression. Her uncle glared at her suspiciously before calling out for help. Dudley was cold and shivering by the time the zoo keepers got him out of the enclosure.

When they got back to the house (never a home), Petunia wrapped Dudley in multiple layers of blankets and ushered him inside. Ashley quietly followed after them with Vernon pushing her to move faster. He slammed the door behind them and dragged her by the arm, shoving her into her cupboard and locking the door.

"I don't know what you did, you freakish girl, but I told you no funny business! No meals for a week!" Vernon raged, sending a heavy kick to the door before closing the vent.

Ashley rubbed the back of her head where she had hit it against the wall behind her. She leveled a fierce glare and felt her inner core flare, her magic acting up due to her anger. She jumped as she heard the Dursleys' scream along with the sound of glass shattering. A window, she guessed. She beamed as she realized that she had done that, albeit unconsciously. She decided then that she would learn how to properly channel her magic, wanting to be in full control to successfully execute her plans for the future.

She waited until she heard the whole family retreat upstairs to their respective bedrooms before turning the light on in her room. She was gonna do it. She was gonna attempt to do wandless magic. She didn't know if it would work, wandless magic was very advanced. It didn't help that she was still so young, mentally eighteen, yes, but she was physically still ten. Even full grown wizards had trouble executing wandless spells. Nevertheless, if there was one thing she had learned through her recent experiences, it was that she would never know until she tried. After all, she wouldn't be where she was in that moment if she and her friends hadn't made a wish to the Wishing Stone, not knowing if it would grant it or not. She just had to believe, this time in herself.

She focused on the door and visualized the lock on the other side. She took a deep breath and reached deep within her, urging her magic to come forth. When she felt the connection, the instant change in the atmosphere around her, she whispered a firm Alohomora. Hearing the click of the lock, she cheered as silent as she could. She did it, she actually did it! She didn't she think she could, but she did!

Pushing the door ajar, she peaked through the crack and observed the darkened hallway. A hundred percent sure that no one else was around, she slipped out and tiptoed her way over to a mirror. Thankfully, she was still able to see her reflection even with the lack of proper lighting. The changes in her appearance weren't much of a surprise but they were a bit different than what she had originally expected. There was her hair but she already had time to accept that. She didn't have bangs like Harry did so the scar on her forehead was unfortunately bare for everyone to see. Her facial features had similarities to how she looked from before and she held a resemblance to Lily instead of James. She was paler and thinner though. Most likely from her mistreatment, damn the Dursleys. No matter, she'd be healthy again once she left their care. What stood out the most though were her eyes, those Killing Curse green eyes. They were sharp, bright against her pale complexion. It was actually quite intimidating but they worked well with her soft, feminine features. She might have actually called herself beautiful for once.

This was it, that person in the mirror was her now. She was Elizabeth Ashley Potter, the Girl-Who-Lived, the Chosen One, and the Savior of the Wizarding World. She was going to change things, she decided. She was going to change a lot of things. She was going to live how she wanted, to play by her own rules. She wasn't going to listen to a word Dumbledore said. If he wanted to manipulate her or anyone else, she was going to turn the tables back to him. She had plans and she was ready to begin. First and foremost, she was gonna train her magic.

Chapter Text

Ashley spent the majority of the night learning how to control and channel her magic and practicing wandless spells. She began with trying out simple first year spells such as Wingardium Leviosa and Reparo. She used the latter to successfully fix her glasses when the tape around the bridge got too uncomfortable. She had camped out in the living room, making lamps and books levitate. She also snuck some food from the fridge. Her new body may have been used to starving but she needed the proper energy as to not pass out from exhaustion. Magic, although natural for her, was not as easy as it seemed, especially when it came to wandless magic. She retired to her cupboard after two straight hours of continuous practicing, making sure to lock the door with a sleepy Colloportus.

She didn't worry about the Ministry and what they would do if they found out about her using magic. The Trace had been explained to be placed on wands and since she didn't have a wand yet, she was safe to use her magic. Either way, she was pretty sure the Trace was just location-based. It made sense, really. Hermione had gotten away with practicing her magic before going to Hogwarts. It must have been written off as accidental magic. Hopefully, that was the case since Ashley really didn't want to be expelled or worse before she could actually go to school.

Her magic wasn't the only thing that grew that night, so did her hate for the Dursleys. With her new life came new, in this case old, memories. Some were good; she remembered the short but happy time she spent with her real family consisting of Lily, James, Sirius, and Remus. Most were bad; she remembered how the Dursleys had been treating her for the past ten years she'd spent with them. The horrid beatings, both verbal and physical, being left for dead in that cupboard, being starved for weeks on end before being given only a stale piece of bread and a tiny glass of water... She had to live through those memories and experience the pain of it all over and over again.

The Dursleys truly were monsters. If it wasn't for her magic, Ashley surely would have already died. No more, they were no longer allowed to treat her as anything less than what she was. She was not a freak and her magic was a gift. Her father was a great wizard and her mother an even better witch. They were not the lazy drunk and common whore Vernon described them to be. The Dursleys had hell to pay for all the torture she had been through. Alas, she had to maintain her helpless and vulnerable state until she was given the chance to finally get away.

She only had about five hours of sleep before her aunt was loudly knocking on the door, telling her to get up and start on breakfast. Sighing, Ashley put her glasses on and trudged to the kitchen. When she took a glance in the living room and saw Dudley in his school uniform, she belatedly remembered that today was the day that her first Hogwarts letter would arrive. She bit back an excited smile and focused on cooking, ignoring the sounds of Dudley being fussed over. However, she looked up when her aunt called her.

"You, girl, be useful and go get the post." Petunia said, pushing her away and taking her place in fixing breakfast.

Ashley didn't let the horse ruin her good mood. She walked into the hallway and gathered the letters from the letterbox. She stood there for a second, sorting through them until she found the letter with her name on it. She glared at it for a second, seeing that it was addressed to her cupboard and realizing something about Dumbledore. He had known all along about how the Dursleys treated her, he must have. And yet, he had done nothing about it. He made Harry go back to this hell every summer, claiming that it was safer for him here. Why? Was it to morph Harry into this malleable person Dumbledore could order around? How had Harry never questioned him? Ashley was well aware of the blood protection that linked Harry, and now her, to Petunia but that protection had certain requirements that would never be met. Thus, being with the Dursleys was absolutely pointless.

Shaking her head, Ashley stored those thoughts away for a better time. Currently, she had to worry about the letter. She slowly made her way back to the kitchen, keeping her gaze on the unopened letter. She didn't exactly need to read it; she had already memorized the contents of the letter. How was she to respond? It said that it awaited her owl but she didn't have Hedwig yet. Sighing, she realized that she had to wait for the same events to take place so that Hagrid would have to visit her. Entering the kitchen, she gave all the letters, with hers placed in the middle, to her uncle. Petunia suddenly hit her on the arm with a spatula, the heat of the used metal burning her skin and making her flinch away. Ashley was then told to set the table just as Dudley peaked at the letters and noticed the one addressed to her.

"Mum, come here! Ashley's got a letter!" He exclaimed.

"Who'd be writing to her?" Petunia asked, moving to stand behind her husband.

Ashley stood back and watched as they looked at the letter, a trembling hand hovering over the reddened skin of her forearm. Looking down, she winced as she saw blisters forming. It was a good thing her magic was already in the process of healing it. Glancing back up at the Dursleys, she observed that Dudley was confused, while Vernon and Petunia looked absolutely furious. Vernon ripped the letter in pieces before standing up and grabbing Ashley by her hair. Wincing, she was dragged back to her cupboard and thrown in. She sighed as her uncle locked the door as expected, thankful that she at least had stashed food under the blanket from the night before. She wanted revenge, oh how she wanted it, but now wasn't the time for that. Not yet... Besides, the incoming onslaught of owls and letters were sure to drive the Dursleys crazy for a while.

Speaking of going crazy, Ashley thought much later on. She was still trapped in her cupboard when she heard the sound of papers ripping. It was most probably Vernon who had seen more of the letters addressed to her. Then, there was the sound of a whirring noise of Vernon blocking the letterbox before his muffled proud voice rang out.

"No more mail through this letterbox."

Ashley rolled her eyes and went on practicing wandless spells after properly healing her arm. She wasn't given lunch or dinner and was only let out once to use the bathroom. Alone with only her thoughts and her magic, she contemplated whether she was going to try wandless and wordless spells. Technically, she had already done it once, with the glass wall at the zoo. She didn't even think about that! It wouldn't hurt her to try again, right? And so, she spent the rest of the day practicing, her confidence growing with each successful spell. She once again snuck food in the middle of the night back into her cupboard. She was not about to let herself starve.

The next few days were quite entertaining. At least, it was for Ashley. The Dursleys were obviously getting crazier by the day. The amount of letters exponentially increased along with the owls that delivered them. Remembering the incident with the eggs, Ashley had to hold her laughter back. It had been a normal day so far. Ashley was in the kitchen washing the dishes when her aunt walked in and decided to bake dessert for dinner later that day. She had to stop and stare as her aunt cracked the eggs over a bowl, but instead of yolk, letters filled the bowl. She couldn't help it; she let out a giggle as Petunia saw the owls waiting outside the window and ran out of the kitchen screaming her head off. It was so much better seeing the scene in real life rather than watching it on a small screen. That night, Vernon began burning the letters in the fireplace. Ashley had only watched in amusement, knowing that nothing was going to stop the more letters from arriving. Then, Sunday came.

The Dursleys were lounging around the living room with Ashley acting like the maid they had always considered her to be. She was serving a plate of cookies she desperately wanted all for herself. Unfortunately, she wasn't allowed to have one but that didn't mean she wasn't going to eat one or four when no one was looking.

"Fine day, Sunday... In my opinion, best day of the week; why is that, Dudley?" Vernon asked, taking a cookie from the plate.

"There's no post on Sunday." Ashley deadpanned, grimacing as Dudley snatched a handful of cookies.

"Ah, right you are, girl. No post on Sunday. Ha! No blasted letters today. No, sir, not one single bloody letter, not one-"

Ashley placed the now-empty plate on the coffee table. She mourned for the loss of perfectly good cookies to people like Dudley. She was then forced to sit down on the floor, her cousin and aunt, mostly her cousin, taking up all the space on the couch. She took a glance out the window and saw a shadow fly by, an owl. She smirked and waited, crossing her arms over her chest. Vernon continued to ramble on until a letter shot out of the fireplace and zipped across his face. Hearing the rumbling sound, Ashley stood up and laughed as millions of letters shot out. The Dursleys panicked and screamed, Dudley going as far as to jump in his mother's lap.

Pathetic, honestly, Ashley thought, shaking her head.

The floor was flooded with letters. Why didn't Harry pick one up from the floor instead of trying to catch one? For a smart guy, he seemed to lack common sense a lot of times. Ashley didn't bother with attempting to take one and instead, headed for the kitchen to make the most out of the Dursleys' distraction. Vernon, unfortunately, thought she was escaping off with a letter.

"Where do you think you're going, girl?!" Vernon shouted, latching on to the back of her shirt.

"Hey! Get off!" Instinctively, Ashley stomped on his foot.

Vernon let go of her shirt in favor of jumping on one foot, his expression one of pain. Tumbling forward, she tripped and hit her head on the wall. She winced and raised her hand to rub her head, glaring at her hopping uncle. Her magic flared up, causing the light bulb illuminating the room to instantaneously shatter. Petunia shrieked and embraced Dudley tighter as they were all enveloped in darkness. Vernon, with a slight crazed look in his eyes, turned back to his wife and son.

"That's it! We're going away, far away, where they can't find us!" He exploded, flailing about.

"Daddy's gone mad, hasn't he?!" Dudley asked, turning to his horrified mother.

Petunia never answered. When the letters stopped infiltrating the house, Vernon immediately ordered everyone to pack. They were leaving. They were going to the house on the rock island where Hagrid was going to visit and take Ashley away from her abusive relatives. That thought made her unbelievably happy. She was going to do everything in her power to not come back, not until her plan to get back at them was in motion. If everything worked out in her favor, she would already be living with Sirius and Remus the before school term ended.

Packing didn't take too long on her account. It barely even took her five minutes. She didn't have much stuff to begin with. Her clothes were all hand-me-downs from Dudley. He had a lot of those; he outgrew his clothes quite quickly but then there the problem laid. Ashley was too small for most of them. Hence why she only held one small bag compared to the large suitcases her relatives were bringing along. They dragged their belongings outside to the car and they all piled in, almost leaving her behind in the process. She wasn't sure if it was on purpose or not but she supposed it was the former. She wouldn't be surprised if it was.

They drove all the way to the docks and Vernon rented a medium-sized boat to take them to the house on the rock island they apparently owned. This new information led Ashley to zoning out while boarding the boat. Never mind that this almost led her to falling in the water. She didn't really notice. She also didn't notice the uninvited-but-not-necessarily-unwelcome guest that slithered up the plank that connected the dock and the boat.

The Dursleys owned a house on rock island. Scratch that, they owned a rock island. How could they? Yes, they were financially stable, but they weren't exactly rich. Ashley was pretty sure Vernon's job didn't pay that well. So, how come they had afforded to buy an island? Something just wasn't adding up. Before she could ponder more over the subject, Ashley felt something bump into her foot from where she was leaning against the boat railing. Looking down, she gasped as she saw the boa constrictor she had helped escape from the zoo.

"Moko?! What are you doing here?!" She hissed in surprise.

She kneeled to the ground in front of the reptile, thankful that she had chosen to stay on the other end of the boat, far away from her relatives. They would have hurt Moko the moment they saw him. The aforementioned snake made his way up her lap and gently curled around her waist before raising his head to answer.

"I felt drawn towards the docks for some reason. When I saw you, it just felt right to follow. Aren't you happy to see me, little one?" He asked.

Ashley had a feeling that he was pouting in his own snake-y way.

"I am! But I can't take you with me, the Dursleys will hurt you!" She furrowed her eyebrows, petting the top of his head.

"...It's a little too late to go back, don't you think?" He joked, leaning into her touch.

"Damn it. I might have an idea then... Do you trust me?" She asked.

"Of course I do, little one. You freed me from my prison; I owe my life to you. Do what you must." Moko hissed back.

Ashley gestured for him to unwrap himself from her. When he did, she closed her eyes and focused on channeling her magic. She took a deep breath, opened her eyes and cast a Reducio. She watched in fascination as the large boa shrank in front of her, down to the size of a corn snake. He looked up at her, then down at himself, then back at her again.

"Well... This isn't what I was expecting, but I guess it's not so bad." He said.

Ashley giggled and lowered a hand to hover in front of him. He happily slid up her arm, resting his head on her shoulder while the rest of his body wrapped around her arm with his tail ending up on her wrist. They chatted through the rest of the boat ride, getting to know each other. Mostly it was just Ashley talking about where she really came from and what her plans were with Moko adding a comment here and there. He seemed to feel the exact same way she did about everything. He also seemed especially excited to meet her two best friends currently missing in action and her most favorite characters, Sirius and Remus.

They went through conversation after conversation until the boat arrived at the island. When her aunt called out for her, Ashley told Moko to hide himself somewhere. He complied but she didn't expect him to worm his way under her shirt and wrap himself around her stomach. He placed his head in between her shoulder blades, close enough to her head so that she would have been able to hear him if he chose to speak.

"May I eat him?" He spoke up later on, referring to her cousin.

She and the Dursleys had just entered the house and Vernon had told her that she was supposed to sleep on the couch. There was only one bed but fortunately, it was big enough to handle the whole family. Ashley couldn't help but wonder briefly about how big the bed really was to be able to carry a whale, a pig and a horse. The said pig, however, complained just to spite her. He claimed that he was too old now to be sharing a bed with his parents and so, that presented the current situation. Dudley took over the couch while Ashley was forced to sleep on the floor. No blankets, no pillows, just the cold, hard, wooden floor. Moko didn't like that one bit.

"Hm... One day I'll let you. We have to keep all of them alive for the time being." Ashley muttered under her breath.

She was lying on her stomach with her head rested sideways on her crossed arms. She faced Moko who was curled up beside her arms. They were on the floor in front of the couch where Dudley was snoring.

"Why?" He, no matter what he said implying otherwise, whined.

"If they die, Dumbledore will get suspicious. We can't let him get even the smallest hint that I know about his plans and without adult supervision, he'll either send me somewhere worse than the Dursleys or, heaven forbid it, he takes me under his wing." Ashley shuddered at the thought of having to live with the senile old man.

"I have plans for them; they'll get what they deserve. You may eat one of them then but we can't touch them until I'm living with Sirius and Remus. That way, their deaths won't cause any problems for us." She continued.

"Very well... I will not consume the pig, or the whale, or the horse, if doing so will endanger you. I will wait." Moko slipped under her crossed arms so that he was hidden from view and settled down.

"Thank you. Now, let's get some sleep." She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Groaning in pain, she was rudely awakened by a heavy weight setting on her spine. It turned out to be Dudley's foot. The boy, having just woken up, was headed to the kitchen area. He didn't bother to apologize for 'accidentally' stepping on Ashley. Moko slipped back under her shirt as she sat up and wrapped himself around her, regaining his position from the night before. She felt the anger rolling off him in waves as she heard the death threats meant for her relatives. She sighed and shushed him, telling him to calm down. He wasn't happy but he agreed to keep quiet when she reminded him that Hagrid would be coming for them later that night.

Ashley got up from the floor and stifled a yawn, walking to the kitchen. She froze in her tracks as she was met with the fierce glare of her uncle. Before he could start screaming at her, she hurried to get the plates to set the table. This appeared to be a bad idea since in her haste; she didn't see Dudley sticking his foot in front of her as she passed by his seat. She stumbled and bumped into her aunt, dropping the plate of eggs she was holding. Closing her eyes in grief, Ashley wasn't surprised to feel her hair be violently pulled back.

"Look what you did, you useless girl! You wasted our food! You've caused enough trouble, out with you!" Vernon yelled, his face turning red, almost purple, with anger.

Ashley grabbed onto his wrist, wincing as this caused him to pull even harder. He dragged her to the door and threw her out. She crashed to the ground, earning her cuts and scratches all over her face, arms, and feet from the rough terrain. She helped herself up to a sitting position while a furious Moko slithered out from under her shirt. He raised his head and looked her over, hissing viciously at every injury his eyes landed on.

"You're hurt!" His fangs were bared threateningly.

Ashley had to stop him from going back inside the house to attack her relatives. He didn't stand a chance against Vernon with his current size, especially since her uncle had an easy-to-access gun hidden somewhere in the house. Moko begrudgingly agreed. He hated feeling helpless. So did Ashley, but she wasn't strong enough to fight back. She still had much to learn. Even if she was, she couldn't hurt them. Not yet...

"I know, but I'll heal... One day, when I'm through with them, I'll make sure they won't." Ashley swore as she touched a nasty cut on her cheek.

Just you wait... I'll see to it that you'll all get yours.

She channeled her magic and willed her injuries to heal faster as she brushed the dirt off her arms. Her continuous practicing of magic had its benefits. She no longer needed spells for small injuries such as the ones that had just stitched themselves together, leaving no trace of any scars.

"I'll be right by your side when that happens, little one. I will enjoy seeing them suffer." Moko rested his head on her lap comfortingly.

"Not as much as I will. Just a few more hours, Moko, just a few more..." Ashley murmured, petting the top of his head.

No one uttered a word after that. They didn't dare disrupt the peaceful atmosphere that enveloped them. The only sounds were the water crashing against the rocks and the occasional seagull or two flying by. No yelling, no insults, no violence... Ashley preferred it that way. She gazed longingly at the distance, wanting to be as far away from that place as possible but she couldn't deny that the view was quite serene. Clouds littered the grey sky, waves rolled through the clear blue sea. Ashley let a small smile show, closing her eyes to enjoy the cool breeze.

She sat outside for quite some time. Moko stayed curled in her lap, having had fallen asleep earlier on. She hadn't felt that relaxed in a long while. The past few days were unbelievably stressful. Her only escape had been her cupboard where her magic kept her company but even then she wasn't as comfortable as she was now. She breathed in a lungful of fresh sea air, fully savoring the moment. She knew this moment was all the peace she was going to get in a while. With all the plans she had mapped out in her mind, she certainly had her work cut out for her.

Hours after the sun went down; Vernon called her back inside the house to wash their dishes. She waited for him to turn away before carrying and cradling Moko in her arms. He was still asleep when they got inside. Thankfully, the Dursleys were all asleep by then. At least, Dudley and Petunia were. Vernon was just heading up the stairs to his and his wife's room. Ashley watched him go before sighing and placing the sleeping boa on the kitchen table. While doing her chore, she hummed the melody of the lullaby she remembered was sung to her as a baby a few times. Behind her, Moko had woken up and began swaying along to the pace of her humming.

Setting the last washed plate down, she wiped her hands on a rag and glanced at the clock hanging on the wall. Two minutes until August 30th, her long-awaited eleventh birthday. She would say that it was supposed to be her nineteenth birthday but back then, she had been born in November so technically, she was still mentally eighteen. She grinned and turned to Moko who tilted his head at her.

"This is it, Moko... It's almost time to leave, come on." Ashley picked him up and let him settle around her neck.

She rushed to the living room area and sat down on the floor in front of the couch where a sleeping Dudley laid. She wrung her hands together to keep herself from fidgeting nervously while repeatedly glancing at her cousin's watch. It read 11:59. Ashley stared at it intently, counting down the seconds in her head. She beamed as it beeped, showing off a blinking 12:00. She turned her attention to the door, rubbing Moko's scales with her pointer finger as they both waited for the half-giant to arrive.

"Happy birthday to me..." She sung softly.

Right after she uttered that single sentence, the door thumped. It happened again, this time much louder, waking up the sleeping pig behind her in the process. She had to bite her lip to keep from letting out an excited squeal. Shooting a glance over her shoulder, she snickered when she saw Dudley trembling on a windowsill, looking like he might piss himself. For a bully, he sure was a coward. It reminded Ashley of Draco in a way but at least the blond was an intelligent wizard with more than a few redeemable qualities once you got past his inherited conceited, egotistical, typical pure-blood attitude.

Petunia and Vernon rushed down the stairs to her left, her uncle holding his precious gun. It was a happy thought knowing that the gun was useless in the hands of someone like him against someone like Hagrid. Vernon didn't have the guts to shoot. He loved showing off power, usually through ever so violent beatings, but he, in all honesty, was weak. And luckily, he was about to be put in his place. Partially, Ashley thought. Her plans of teaching him and his family a lesson were to truly achieve that.

"Who's there?" Vernon's terrified voice rang out.

He screamed as the door thumped one last time before falling open, revealing a large shadow, tall enough to reach the top of the doorway. The dark figure then stepped into the light. As expected, it was Hagrid. Ashley grinned at the half-giant, feeling Moko rub against her neck happily. Things were about to change for the better. Ashley couldn't wait; her adventure was just about to begin.

Chapter Text

Ashley stayed rooted in her spot as Hagrid picked the door up from where it fell to the ground while casually apologizing. Once it was fixed, he turned back around and grinned once he caught sight of the raven-haired girl he hadn't seen in ten years. Vernon just had to ruin the lovely moment in the way he ruined everything else for the aforementioned girl.

"I demand that you leave at once, sir! You are breaking and entering!" He yelled, aiming his gun at the unamused half-giant.

"Dry up, Dursley, you great prune." Hagrid said.

Petunia cowered behind her shaking husband as Hagrid approached them. She gasped in fear as Vernon's gun, their only line of defense although quite feeble, was then bent upwards with little to no effort and a casually added insult. His finger on the trigger twitched, causing the gun to shoot, sequentially leaving a gaping hole in the roof. Moko hissed approvingly as the married couple simultaneously shrieked in fear. Hagrid, looking immensely pleased with his handiwork, walked away from the terrified couple and towards where Ashley now stood.

"Look at you! I haven't seen you since you was a baby, Elizabeth!" Hagrid expressed fondly, "You're looking more and more like your mother and-is that a snake?"

He seemed curious for the most part, albeit a little cautious. Of course he was, he was Hagrid! Standing to her feet, Ashley nodded her head enthusiastically and gently unwrapped Moko from around her neck. She rested him on her open palms and held him out for Hagrid to see, ignoring the embarrassing squawk that escaped her cousin. Moko coiled in her hands, raising his head to scent Hagrid's hand when he reached out to pet him. She giggled at the soft look that overtook the large man's face, knowing that he had a soft spot for all kinds of animals, especially the more dangerous ones.

"His name's Moko. He's sweet, isn't he?" She cooed as the snake slithered up her arm to resume his position around her neck.

"Looks like you got yourself a familiar." Hagrid commented, recognizing the close bond the two had.

"A familiar...? What's that?" Ashley asked innocently, furrowing her eyebrows.

She wasn't stupid; she knew what familiars were, and how important they were to witches and wizards alike. They were guardian animals of sorts, platonic life companions in a way. She knew enough about that particular subject but she had to act clueless. Not completely, but just enough to keep people, namely Dumbledore, from becoming suspicious. She was originally supposed to be as dumb as a rock when it came to the Wizarding World and although she didn't want to be, she had to act the part. However, that didn't mean that she couldn't change a few things. She was going to have fun with all her new memories.

She nodded along understandingly to Hagrid's short explanation of what a familiar was. While he talked, Moko made sure to keep the Dursleys in check, to ensure that they didn't interrupt the conversation by glaring heatedly at them. The serpent went a step further and bared his fangs at them whenever they tried to move closer. He wondered sadistically how better it would have been if he was his normal size. There would definitely be more fear, but maybe in his smaller size, he could bite on of them without Ashley noticing. Fortunately for them (unfortunately for him), she sensed his scheme and placed a hand on his body near his tail to keep him from moving. Well, it was worth a try.

"Huh... That explains why he wanted to follow me here. Thank you for telling me." Ashley said gratefully.

"You're very welcome, Elizabeth." Hagrid beamed.

"Oh um... I don't want to be rude but, if you don't mind, I actually prefer to be called Ashley..." Ashley looked down sheepishly.

"Oh, well, of course I don't mind! I'll be sure to remember that next time I get you something." Hagrid reached behind him and pulled out a box, "Here we go... 'Fraid I might have sat on it at some point! I imagine that it'll taste fine just the same. Ah, baked it myself, words and all."

Ashley gleefully accepted the box and opened it, revealing the cake she had been expecting to get. Written in green frosting was 'Happee Birdae Elizabeth'. She smiled and dipped her finger in the icing and popped it in her mouth to taste it. Oh wow, she thought, stunned. It was good, it was really good! Ashley actually felt bad for Harry; he never got to eat his cake because Dudley had eaten it himself. The cake was better than the small portions of food she'd been eating for a while. Remembering that Hagrid was here for another reason, she closed the box and placed it down on the table beside the couch. She let her beloved boa rest on top of it just in case Dudley got any ideas. It was her cake, not his.

"Thank you so much for this!"

"It's not every day that a young lady turns eleven, now is it?"

Hagrid plopped down on the sofa and aimed his magical umbrella at the dark fireplace. With sparks erupting from the tip of the umbrella, the fire was successfully lit. Ashley ignored the gasps of her relatives and sat down sideways beside Hagrid, facing him with her legs folded underneath her. She bit her lip, second-guessing her next action. She had planned to tell Hagrid that she knew him, that she remembered him from all those years ago on the day her parents died. She just thought that it would be a fun way to change things but there were possible repercussions. For example, Dumbledore could find out, and she couldn't have that. She had a feeling that that would end up being a catastrophe, especially since that meant she remembered that Sirius wasn't the person who betrayed her parents. Speaking of that topic, it got her thinking for a second. Hagrid was obviously there that night; he had been the one to take him from her godfather. He knew Sirius was innocent, so why hadn't he said anything? Could Hagrid really be that loyal to Dumbledore that he was willing to let an innocent man be locked up in Azkaban? How was she to know? Well, she had an idea, but was she willing to risk it? Yes, she was. She had to find out so she knew who to trust but she had to be careful with her choice of words. Saying the wrong thing could potentially have disastrous consequences.

"You're Hagrid...right?" She made sure to sound hesitant, unsure about her words.

"You already know me?" Hagrid raised his eyebrows in surprise.

"Yes, I do. November 1st, I remember..." Ashley trailed off, softening the expression on her face.

She wasn't lying, not about remembering that fateful night. It had been heartbreaking to see the sheer panic in James' eyes when he told Lily to run and leave him behind, to see her beg Voldemort to take her life instead of her only daughter's, then to see her fall to the ground, dead, after hearing the merciless incantation of the Killing Curse. It had hurt even more when Snape arrived, and then Sirius. Sirius looked positively devastated when he saw the wrecked room but when he heard the crying baby in the crib, his eyes lit up with so much hope that quickly diminished into defeat and anger as Hagrid took his beloved pup from him under Dumbledore's orders. Yes, Ashley remembered that night very vividly and Hagrid looked horrified at her confession.

"How much do you...?" His voice held sadness and pity.

Ashley subtly searched his eyes and observed his body language for anything suspicious but found nothing that alerted her. He wasn't nervous, he didn't fidget, and he didn't look away. He genuinely felt bad for her. That right there meant that he had nothing to hide. Well, Ashley wasn't done yet. She still had more than a few unanswered questions.

"All of it... You know, I remember Sirius. He was my godfather, wasn't he? I want to know how he's doing, where he is and if he's safe." She kept his voice soft but firm, letting Hagrid know that she was serious regarding that matter.

Suddenly, he was towering over her with a furious expression. She leaned back and felt her magic come to life, ready to lash out if needed. Hearing the telltale signs of an angry Moko, she raised a hand towards his direction and gestured for him to stay where he was, not once breaking eye contact with Hagrid for even a second.

"Sirius Black is a bloody criminal! He was the reason for your parents' murder! He's rotting in Azkaban where he belongs!" The half-giant yelled.

The volume of his voice and the rage it contained managed to scare the Dursleys who were all huddled up by the stairs. Dudley whimpered and shut his eyes, causing Petunia and Vernon to tighten their hold on him. They were smart for once and had decided to keep quiet, afraid of either the half-giant or the snake coming to attack them. Ashley, on the other hand, wasn't the least bit scared. She knew Hagrid would never hurt her but the way he was acting... It was so unlike him.

"What are you talking about? Hagrid, you were there that night, don't you remember? Peter Pettigrew was the man who betrayed my parents, not Sirius! He would never!"

"No, no... Dumbledore said... Sirius' fault..."

Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. Hagrid looked troubled, confused even. He continued to mutter under his breath as he sank back down on the couch. It was like he didn't know what to think, like he was fighting some kind of inner battle with his own thoughts...or were they his own thoughts? What was happening to him? Did Dumbledore do something to him? What had he done? Could it be...? Did Dumbledore...? Ashley frowned, not liking her ideas flitting about in her mind but she wasn't getting anywhere. She wasn't receiving answers, only more questions, but she knew she had to drop it. For now, at least...

"It's alright, Hagrid, forget I asked... Um, you know, I know your name but I don't actually know who you are." Ashley said with a light tone, trying to distract Hagrid from the haze he was in.

He blinked at her a few times, confusion still evident in his eyes. He seemed hesitant then to reply, but after a second, he was back to himself. He was smiling again, as if he wasn't acting like he had lost his mind mere moments ago. It was quite a disconcerting mood swing, if Ashley were to be honest.

"Right, well then... Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. Course, you'll know all about Hogwarts."

"It's wonderful to officially meet you, and no, sorry."

"No? Blimey, Ashley, didn't you ever wonder where your mum and dad learned it all?"

"You mean magic? Is Hogwarts a school for magic?" Ashley stared up at Hagrid with a wide-eyed look of wonder.

"Right you are! You're a witch, Ashley."

There it was; the fateful line that had changed Harry's life once upon a timeline ago. Now, it was changing Ashley's life, and she was ecstatic. Although, she had to tone it down a bit. She still had to act like she was new to all this, which wasn't exactly false. She had technically only experienced it all in third person.

"A witch, wow... It makes sense why I can do magic then!"

She heard Dudley whimper; most likely remember the incident at the zoo. She couldn't help herself. She had to show off a little bit, maybe just a simple levitation spell; wordlessly, of course. Yes she wanted to impress Hagrid, but she couldn't let him know that she already knew the incantations for spells she hadn't been taught yet. It also made for a better show of her control over her magic.

"Really? Well, let's see it then!"

Hagrid leaned back and watched on expectantly. Ashley felt for her connection with her core, standing up in the process, and focused on the fire poker leaning against the fireplace. Slowly, it rose from its position and floated towards the awed half-giant. He caught the poker mid-air and laid it on the ground. He grinned proudly at Ashley who shyly glanced down at her bare feet.

"Wandless and wordless magic... You're already a thumping good witch! Lily and James would have been so proud of you!"

Hagrid looked like he was on the verge of crying but he held it in. Ashley, on the other hand, felt her heart clench at the short mention of her deceased parents. Hagrid conjured a letter, the same letter that caused the Dursleys' sudden move of residence, and handed it to her as he stood to his feet. She accepted it but something in the back of her head was telling her not to open and read it. Her magic then acted up, wrapping around the innocent-looking letter. She narrowed her eyes when she finally sensed the strange magic at work. There were unknown spells and charms on the letter, obviously meant for her. Her magic seemed to recognize it and lashed out, cleansing the letter completely. Deeming it safe, she ripped it open and skimmed through its contents.

"I get to go to Hogwarts!" She gasped out.

"You'll not be going, girl! We swore when we took you in, that we'd put a stop to this rubbish!" Vernon butted in.

"You can't stop me from going; you have no control over me!" Ashley glared, her patience running thin.

"We can, and we will!" Petunia shouted, "Oh, my mother and father were so proud when they found out my perfect sister was a witch, but I saw what she really was! A freak, just like that Potter she married, and just like you! You're all abnormal! Lily just had to get herself blown up! If she hadn't been so careless, we wouldn't have gotten stuck with raising you!"

Ashley bristled at the insults directed at her family. She had learned to deal with the insults meant for her, much as she disliked them, but she was not letting that vile woman she called her aunt disrespect her parents any longer. It was about time she talked back.

"You have no right to talk about my parents that way! They were wonderful people and I am sick of all the lies you've fed me! You told me my parents died in a car crash!" She exploded.

She, herself, was entirely oblivious to the way her eyes briefly glowed as her emotions affected her magic. So was Hagrid as he was standing behind her. The Dursleys, however, had taken notice and their fear multiplied tenfold.

"A car crash kill James and Lily Potter?! What an outrage!" Hagrid said incredulously.

Ashley huffed as he and Vernon argued. She blocked them out and turned to Moko who was now curled up on the lid of the box, observing the exchange in barely concealed boredom. She smiled at him and extended a hand, letting him wrap around her arm. Sighing, she tuned back into the conversation just in time to hear Hagrid's last sentence.

"...And she'll be under the finest headmaster that Hogwarts has ever seen: Albus Dumbledore."

She rolled her eyes at the mention of the Dumbledore's name. He's nothing to be proud of, that manipulative goat, Ashley thought bitterly, he's far from being the best.

"I will not pay for some crackpot old fool to teach her magic tricks!"

She had to bit her lip to stop herself from laughing at the brash term referring to the Hogwarts headmaster. She couldn't help but agree with her uncle. Dumbledore was a fool, for so many reasons. Besides, it wasn't like Ashley needed him to teach her magic. She had already done that by herself, thank you very much. She was sure Mitchelle and Alyssa had already done the same thing as her, especially Mitchelle. The Hufflepuff had always wanted to be a witch, even before the three of them got addicted to Harry Potter. Leaving her mind space, Ashley watched as Hagrid whipped his magical umbrella out and pointed it at the Dursleys.

"Never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of me."

A spark raced out of the umbrella and hit Dudley who jumped high in fright. Vernon and Petunia released their hold on him and watched, horrified, as their beloved Ickle Dudleykins changed abnormally. His nose extended, along with his ears, morphing into those of a pig's. Ashley snickered out loud as he turned and ran out of sight, but not before she saw the twisted pink tail peeking out from the hem of his pants. Her aunt and uncle weren't that far behind him. Hagrid laughed and turned back to her, lowering his umbrella.

"Oh, um, I'd appreciate if you didn't tell anyone at Hogwarts about that. Strictly speaking, I'm not allowed to do magic." He explained nervously.

"You're secret's safe with me." Ashley promised.

"Ooh, we're a bit behind schedule. Best be off." Hagrid said after he checked his pocket-watch.

He headed for the door and pulled it back down before stepping out. Ashley caught a quick glimpse outside and saw Hagrid's borrowed motorcycle with the additional sidecar, the motorcycle she knew had belonged to her godfather. She couldn't wait to ride it again, with Hagrid, obviously. Hopefully in the future, she'd get to ride it with Sirius again, just like old times. The side car had originally been for her. Sirius would take her out for a spin and when they came back, Lily would be furious with him, and Remus, fondly exasperated. Lily would scold him and then somehow, Remus would get dragged in. He and Remus were always left pouting when Lily would take their Bambi back inside the house. Their Bambi... Oh, Ashley really couldn't wait to see them again. While she was stuck in her thoughts, Hagrid had noticed that she was still standing inside the house.

"Well, let's go then, unless you'd rather stay?" Hagrid hummed and walked away.

Ashley scoffed at the thought of staying in that house, and consequently, with the Dursleys. She Accio'd the bag that held her things and picked up the box with her cake inside. She took one last glance at the direction the Dursleys disappeared off to and left through the open door.

"This is it, Moko. We're leaving." She whispered, careful not to let Hagrid hear as she approached the motorcycle.

"Finally, they won't be able to hurt you any longer." Moko hissed contentedly, "Although, I am disappointed I didn't get to eat or bite any of them."

Ashley giggled and hopped in the sidecar. She placed her bag on the ground and the cake box on the seat beside her. She gently untangled Moko from her arm, the snake happily letting her, and placing him on her lap. He curled up comfortably and closed his eyes for a nap. Ashley laid a hand over him as Hagrid put his helmet on and ignited the engine.

"You ready, Ashley?"

"Ready as I'll ever be."

Ashley breathed in deeply, relishing the feeling of her sweet, sweet escape, and prepared herself for the ride with an excited smile. With the loud roar of the engine, they were flying off into the night, heading for Charing Cross Road.

Chapter Text

Charing Cross Road, London, England

Hagrid had to bring the motorcycle down when the sun started rising to avoid catching the attention of any Muggles that just happened to look up. Nobody really needed to see a flying motorcycle in broad daylight. Hagrid continued on driving down the road while Ashley skimmed through her school requirements list.

“Hagrid, may I ask something?” She called out, pursing her lips at the letter.

“Go on, Ashley.” Hagrid replied, still keeping his eyes focused straight ahead.

“It says here that students can bring an owl, a cat, or a toad… Will I be allowed to bring Moko with me?” She questioned, worried for her snake friend.

She didn’t want to be forcefully separated from him. She had grown quite used to his presence; it was comforting for her, just as a familiar’s should be. Moko perked up from his place on her lap, gazing up at Hagrid with the same silent question in his eyes. If he says no, I’ll just have to sneak Moko in then, Ashley planned. There was absolutely no way she was going to Hogwarts without her beloved familiar.

“Hm, well, snakes aren’t the usual companions students choose to bring but with him being your familiar, it’d be wrong to separate you two…” Hagrid answered with a thoughtful expression, “I’m sure Dumbledore won’t mind.”

Ashley cringed, knowing full well that Dumbledore would mind. Snakes were practically the insignia of evil in the old man’s eyes. They represented the dark arts seeing as they were the symbol of Slytherin, the house he held prejudice against. He’d never let Ashley live in peace if he knew that she had a snake, more so if he knew she spoke Parseltongue so early in the timeline. That would be a certified nightmare to deal with. For the safety of her snake (and her peace of mind), Ashley had no other choice but to hide Moko from the irritatingly twinkling eyes of the old coot she would soon call her headmaster.

She looked up from her reading when she noticed that the motorcycle had stopped moving. Moko noticed this fact as well and slid up her shirt to hide from plain sight. She looked around and recognized the familiar environment, especially the corner store they had just parked in front of. Ashley gazed at the sign above the store, ‘The Leaky Cauldron’ magically appearing on it not a moment too soon. Hagrid chuckled at the delighted look on her face and helped her out of the sidecar. He went to carry her things for her but stopped when she shook her head. Right in front of him, she cast a wordless shrinking charm on both her bag and cake box, shrinking them down enough to be able to fit in her flannel’s chest pocket. Hagrid grinned, impressed, and proceeded to enter the Leaky Cauldron with her.

They were met with the sound of mellow music playing. Patrons were all around, some seated on tables, some standing on their feet. All were chattering merrily with each other while they ate and drank. Ashley glanced around the crowded room as Hagrid ushered her forward. They weaved through familiar faces, most, if not all, unnamed, until they neared the counter where the pub barman immediately caught sight of them.

“Ah Hagrid! The usual, I presume?” Tom said.

As Hagrid replied to the man, Ashley spotted the lone individual wearing dark robes accessorized with a purple turban standing off to the right side of the counter. Professor Quirinus Quirrell/Voldemort, she recognized. His eyes, full of what she guessed as fear and anger, were trained on the scar on her forehead. She didn’t know what to do with him yet. She wasn’t entirely sure her plans involved destroying him; she actually wanted to maybe try and help him fix himself. Maybe there was a way to mend his soul back together, but then that required her dying for a short while. She wasn’t too entirely fond of that idea, so yes, she was clueless as to what her next moves regarding the insane Dark Lord would be. Right in that moment, however, there was no harm in being polite.

“Bless my soul. It’s Elizabeth Potter.”

Ashley tensed as a wave of silence flooded the pub. Every single person was staring at her, shocked to the core but seemingly pleased. It honestly made her quite uncomfortable. Like Harry, she had never been fond of attention. Now, she had no choice but to deal with it. She was obviously going to receive much more stares throughout the entirety of her life, especially if her plans worked as well as she hoped they would. And so, she smiled and waved shyly at the stunned crowd.

“Welcome back, Ms. Potter, welcome back.” A man came up to her and gently shook her hand.

“Doris Crockford, Ms. Potter. I can’t believe I’m meeting you at last.” A woman said, taking the place of the earlier man in shaking Ashley’s hand.

Then, it was the possessed professor’s turn.

“Elizabeth P-Potter, c-can’t tell you how pleased I am to meet you.” He stammered, his voice coming out as slightly strained.

“Hello, Professor. I didn’t see you there. Ashley, this is Professor Quirrell. He’ll be your Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.” Hagrid introduced, gesturing at the fidgeting man.

“Hello, Professor. It’s very nice to meet you.” Ashley greeted.

She smiled and held out a hand for the DADA professor, an expectant look evident in her eyes. Quirrell instinctively went to shake her outstretched hand but hesitated as his eyes traveled up to her forehead. She internally rolled her eyes and grabbed his hand despite his obvious caution. His eyes momentarily widened at the touch but he shook her hand once before pulling away. She had no intention of hurting him at present but she was admittedly confused that the protective magic her mother left for her didn’t burn the man. She shrugged it off, concluding that maybe the magic only worked if she was in a dangerously desperate situation, like Harry was when he was fighting against the professor who was, at the time, attempting to kill him.

“F-Fearfully fascinating subject... N-not that you need it, e-eh, Ms. Potter?” Quirrell chuckled nervously.

Of course you don’t… You have me to protect you.” Moko hissed with his head on Ashley’s back placed right below her shirt collar.

This caused the green-eyed girl to giggle at his smug tone. Quirrell didn’t seem to hear the hissing so he must have thought the giggle was directed towards him. He answered with a small smile of his own which honestly resembled a grimace more than what he was attempting to accomplish since his eyebrows were furrowed. It was enough for Ashley. Quirrell tired, that was the important part.

“Yes, well… We must be going now, lots to buy.” Hagrid piped up.

Ashley bid farewell to the confused professor and followed Hagrid to the back room winery. In front of them was a brick wall, the magical barrier between the pub and their real destination, Diagon Alley. Ashley couldn’t wait to see all the shops.

“See, Ashley, you’re famous!”

“For what happened that night.”

“Right you are.”

It wasn’t as if Ashley didn’t already know that. She just felt like she needed some kind of confirmation. She also still had to act a bit clueless to play her part right. Questions were natural and to be expected from someone newly introduced to the Wizarding World. In her current case, she was someone who was newly re-introduced to the Wizarding World. Hagrid left her side and approached the barrier. He raised his umbrella and tapped the brick wall three times. Ashley watched the brick blocks shift away from each other, causing the wall to split and revealing the busy street that was Diagon Alley.

“Welcome to Diagon Alley, Ashley.” Hagrid grinned.

Ashley ogled at each passing store as she and Hagrid walked down the cobblestone walkway. Moko was peeking out from behind her, his little head hidden from view through her dark hair. She ignored the handful of people who stopped and stared at them, whispering amongst themselves, as Hagrid showed her around. Not that she needed it; she had the whole street memorized. It wasn’t actually that hard, with Diagon Alley being one straight street with the shops lined up. She also knew her way around Knockturn Alley but Hagrid didn’t have to know any of that.

“Here’s where you’ll get your quills and ink, and over there all your bits and bobs for doing your wizardry.” Hagrid said, pointing at different shops.

Ashley pretended to listen and nodded along, too distracted by her own amazement. She couldn’t believe she was actually in Diagon Alley. She couldn’t ever regret her wish, she was living a dream come true. She was so thankful that she and her friends had been given the chance to use the Wishing Stone. Speaking of her friends, she briefly wondered what they were doing in that moment. Oh, maybe I’ll see one of them here, Ashley smiled. She hoped she would, she dearly missed Alyssa and Mitchelle. She had been so used to seeing them every day since they shared an apartment together. Though, they had probably gone shopping already so the chances of her bumping into them were slim. Leaving her thoughts, her attention was drawn towards Quality Quidditch Supplies where a crowd of boys were gathered.

“It’s a world class racing broom. Look at it; it’s the new Nimbus 2000! It’s the fastest model yet.”

She grinned as she got a glimpse of the shiny broom they were crowding around. The Nimbus 2000, Harry’s first ever broom, and hopefully, her first broom. She had always wanted to play Quidditch back in her world but obviously, she couldn’t. Now, she had the chance to, but would she be good? She believed so since apparently, with her father being a most talented Chaser, Quidditch was in her blood. She truly hoped she would be as good as Harry and her father were, maybe even better. She sighed and turned away from the store to face Hagrid, remembering where they had to go.

“Hagrid, how am I supposed to pay for everything? I…didn’t exactly bring any money.”

“Well, there’s your money, Ashley.” Hagrid pointed at the tall, white, marble building several feet away from them.

“Gringotts, the Wizard Bank. There ain’t no place safer, ‘cept perhaps Hogwarts.”

At that, Ashley had to roll her eyes. Safest place, ha! She snickered; it would be if Dumbledore wasn’t the headmaster. Dumbledore was a certified mad man. He was willing to risk the lives of everyone around him for the greater good. His decisions and manipulations had caused a great deal of accidents to happen at the school he was supposed to protect. A lot more would have died if it wasn’t for the school’s very own magic, which Ashley and her friends had once theorized to be sentient.

She and Hagrid headed for the bank, the large open entrance guarded by two goblins dressed in battle armor holding sharp spears. The goblins bowed in greeting and Ashley mirrored their movements to be polite. She didn’t get to see their shocked reactions or their confusion at the strange magic they sensed was surrounding her as she had to rush after Hagrid. She walked down the aisle beside the half-giant, waving shyly at the goblins working at their desks. More often than not, they waved back, albeit a little stunned at her actions. They also noticed the strange magic but had to get back to work. They were sure the Head Goblin was going to take care of it; he would be able to sense the magic as well.

“They’re goblins, aren’t they, Hagrid?”

“Yes, they are. How did you know?”

“I like to read a lot. I borrowed a book at the library about mythical creatures once. It was a very fascinating read.”

“Ah, well, clever as they come, goblins aren’t the friendliest of beasts. Best stick close to me.”

Hagrid led Ashley to a spectacles-wearing goblin standing inside a counter. He cleared his throat to get the creature’s attention. He succeeded, but only for a short moment. Eventually, the goblin’s eyes drifted towards Ashley who smiled nervously in return. He couldn’t pinpoint the cause of the strange magic surrounding her; it was entirely unfamiliar which was quite worrying. Goblins were knowledgeable with all kinds of magic, especially ancient magic, but this… This, he couldn’t figure out, but the Head Goblin surely could.

“Ms. Ashley Potter wishes to make a withdrawal.” Hagrid spoke up, drawing the goblin’s attention to him.

“And does Ms. Ashley Potter have her key?” The goblin asked.

“Oh, wait a minute, got it here somewhere… Ha, there’s the little devil.” Hagrid said, pulling out a golden key and handing it over.

“Oh, and there’s something else as well. Professor Dumbledore gave me this. It’s about you-know-what in vault you-know-which.” He whispered, passing the letter from Dumbledore.

“Very well,” The goblin spoke, “but I would like to request that Ms. Potter come with me to the Head Goblin’s office to discuss an urgent matter.”

Ashley felt the anxiety well up in her chest. Does he know? She panicked internally. Moko, who had slunk back into her shirt when they entered the bank, tightened his hold around her body as an effort to calm her down. Taking a deep breath, she chastised herself for thinking so negatively. The goblin didn’t know, it was obvious with the confusion in his eyes, but he was curious. He must have sensed something from her. Goblins were, after all, very sensitive to magic. She had to go with him.

“Oh, well, alright then. Will you be alright, Ashley?”

She appreciated the worry the half-giant had for her, but she could handle herself. She nodded and smiled reassuringly. The goblin they were just talking to gestured for another to come forth.

“Filgor will assist you with the vaults. Follow me, Ms. Potter.”

The spectacles-wearing goblin made his way out of the counter and began moving to the right. Ashley trailed after him, glancing back just in time to see Hagrid being escorted to the cart that would take him to the vaults. It was quiet as she and the goblin, whose name she still didn’t know, walked down a long hallway towards a pair of closed doors.

“Excuse me?” There came her timid voice.

“Yes, Ms. Potter?” The goblin turned to face her.

“Um… May I ask for your name?”

She didn’t know what to make of the complete shock that overtook the goblin’s features. Was it the wrong thing to do? Was it not allowed? Or…was having manners such a rare occurrence to come across when pertaining to creatures? The goblin replied before Ashley could take her words back.

“Bragkar, Ms Potter.”

Is he…smiling?

“It’s nice to meet you, Bragkar.”

“Likewise, Ms Potter. Here we are.”

Bragkar stopped her from moving any further as they reached a pair of tall oak doors. He knocked lightly on one of them and pushed it open, gesturing for her to step inside, which she did. Her gaze traveled all over the room she presumed was the Head Goblin’s office, taking note of the several wooden filing cabinets and the shelves filled to the brim with books. In the center of the room was a goblin, Griphook, seated behind an organized desk. His face held a curious expression the moment his eyes landed on Ashley. She bowed respectfully, remembering the guards’ greetings. Griphook, to her utter surprise, smiled and quickly dismissed Bragkar. The other Goblin left, leaving her to take the seat parallel to the desk.

“I am Griphook, the Head Goblin of Gringotts, and I have reason to believe that you’re not from this world.”

She tensed up, blinking at his bluntness. In her state of shock, she only managed to nod before she realized that she had to answer.

“You’re right, I’m not,” She confirmed, “but I mean no harm to this world, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“May I know how you got here?” Griphook asked, leaning forward on the desk.

“I’m not sure myself how it happened, but it involved a Wishing Stone.” She mused, thinking back to the night of her wish.

She still hadn’t quite figured out what happened, only that the stone had to be extremely powerful to grant a wish as bizarre as hers and her friends’. She seemed to have guessed right based on the way Griphook’s eyes widened.

“A Wishing Stone is a powerful ancient artifact rumored to have been made by Merlin himself. You must be special to have been given the chance to use it.”

It was made by Merlin?! I didn’t think it was that powerful!

Ashley was speechless, both by the revelation of the stone’s maker and by being called special. Moko, ever the curious snake, decided then that it was a good time to pop out from his hiding place.

“Hm, quite special indeed...” Griphook smiled, his eyes drifting towards the peeking snake, “Now, I assume you have plans?”

“I have a few. I plan on changing the world for the better. It’s a long story, one we don’t nearly have enough time for, but I’ve seen how events play out and… I’m certain I can prevent this world from crumbling under the hands of a man whose web of lies has spread for far too long.”

“And that man is…?”

“You may not believe me.”

The goblin raised an eyebrow in question, an obvious challenge.

“Albus Dumbledore.”

“Dumbledore, you say?”

“Yes, I’ll swear on my magic if you have doubts, but please believe me. He isn’t who he says he is. I know for a fact that he’s been manipulating the Wizarding World far longer than Voldemort’s been alive.”

“Well, if you’re certain, then I believe it is within both of our best interests to perform a blood inheritance test to validate your new persona. You might even learn more about yourself.”

With that, Griphook reached into the desk drawer and pulled out sheets of parchment paper. He told her that they were enchanted and carefully explained the instructions. With the ritual blade he conjured, she cut the tip of her finger and dripped exactly three drops of blood on the parchment. The cut healed with the help of her magic and after a few seconds of waiting, Griphook read the text that appeared on the parchment. The anger evident in his eyes intimidated Ashley. When he handed the parchment over for her turn to read, she completely understood why he had been mad. Moko, himself, was ready to attack as he read over her shoulder.


BLOOD INHERITANCE TEST

Elizabeth Ashley Potter

(Formerly Ashley Theroux)

Born: August 30th, 1980 – Godric’s Hollow, England

Father: James Fleamont Potter (Deceased)

Mother: Lily Potter nee Evans (Deceased)

Godfather: Sirius Orion Black (Incarcerated)

Bonds: Sirius Orion Black (Soul-bonded; Block placed by Albus Dumbledore on November 1st, 1981)

Remus John Lupin (Soul-bonded; Block placed by Albus Dumbledore on November 1st, 1981)

Moko the Boa Constrictor (Familiar)

Titles: Heiress of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter

Heiress of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Peverell

Heiress of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Gryffindor

Vaults: 687, Potter Trust Vault – 10,926,178 Galleons

485, Potter Family Vault – 4,351,273,178 Galleons

323, Peverell Family Vault – 5,485,828,326 Galleons

172, Gryffindor Family Vault – 6,428,183,362 Galleons

Magical Abilities: Core Magic – Dark (Block placed by Albus Dumbledore on November 1st, 1981; Block Broken)

Parseltongue (Failed block placed by Albus Dumbledore on November 1st, 1981)

Magic Sensitivity (Block placed by Albus Dumbledore on November 1st, 1981; Block Broken)

Eidetic Memory (Block placed by Albus Dumbledore on November 1st, 1981; Block Broken)

Mental Shield

Creature Inheritance: Night Fury (Peverell Bloodline)

Compulsions: Blood Glamour (Cast by Albus Dumbledore on November 1st, 1981; Nullified)

Loyalty keyed to Albus Dumbledore (Cast by Albus Dumbledore on November 1st, 1981; Nullified)

Legal Guardians: Petunia Dursley (Maternal Aunt)

Vernon Dursley (Maternal Uncle)

Magical Guardian: Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (Self-assigned) 


Ashley temporarily lost control over her powers. Her Killing Curse green eyes glowed bright and her hands visibly trembled. Griphook cautiously leaned back, feeling the unstable energy overflowing in the room. Suddenly, a strong wave of magic blasted outwards from Ashley. It rattled the contents of the room. The room itself shook with a tremor. Griphook had to gasp as the magic passed through him. Moko, although still fuming, was proud of the power his little one had. Ashley eventually got a hold over herself before she proceeded to skim over the contents of the inheritance test results once more.

She couldn’t believe it! She couldn’t believe what Dumbledore had done to her, what he had done to Harry. He blocked her magic; he placed compulsion spells on her. It all made sense now. Why Harry never questioned Dumbledore, why he was always willing to follow his orders, why he had never seemed to quite reach the full extent of his powers even when he succeeded in defeating the Dark Lord. Dumbledore had him under his control, and he would have had Ashley under his control as well. Most of her questions now had answers, but new ones arose. She was apparently soul-bonded to Remus and Sirius, what exactly did that mean? She was sure Harry didn’t have those bonds; he also didn’t have the mental shield. Was that what broke the blocks and compulsion spells that were cast on her? The creature inheritance was new as well; she had to ask about that. Finally, what was she to do as the Heiress of three different Houses?

“I didn’t expect this... I… This is a lot to take in.”

“That is understandable, Ms. Potter. I am disgusted by the old man’s actions. Would you like me to explain a few things?”

“Yes please... The mental shield, what is that, aside from the obvious?”

“Having a mental shield is a skill significantly rarer than being able to speak Parseltongue. It gives you the ability to repel spells and blocks affecting your mind, this includes Legilimency. If the core is strong enough, this mental shield could be gifted to others for protection though I suppose it would be weaker in kind.”

A defense against Legilimency… How useful, Dumbledore wouldn’t be able to breach my mind. Now, I just need to figure out how to give it to other people. Alyssa and Mitch would need a mental shield too, even if theirs would be weaker.

“Mind spells? Would that mean that, theoretically, I am immune to two of the Unforgivables?”

“Well, I can’t say for sure. In all my life, I’ve never met someone with a shield.”

“Alright, what about my…titles? Would I need to do anything to accept them or is it automatic?”

“Yes, you do need to accept the titles, if that is what you wish. You need to wear each of the House rings and to swear an oath verbally.”

Ashley nodded in confirmation, sure that she wanted to accept her inheritances. Griphook nodded in return and snapped his fingers. Three golden jewelry boxes appeared on top of his desk, each with individual designs and carvings of the respective family names. Ashley opened all of them, revealing three different rings. The Potter ring was a thick gold band with a rectangular-cut emerald as green as her eyes framed right in the middle. The Peverell ring was the simplest of the three, a thin silver band with the symbol of the Deathly Hallows etched onto it. The Gryffindor ring, bold and brave, was similar to the Potter ring, except elegant carvings covered the surface of it with a tall silhouette of a lion with a red ruby eye.

Ashley grasped each of the rings and laid it out on her open palm. She then looked at Griphook for guidance. The goblin informed her that she could either wear the rings individually on different fingers or she could allow them to merge into a singular accessory for her convenience after she accepted her titles. She chose the latter and slipped the rings onto her left middle finger. She followed after Griphook as she accepted her titles.

I, Elizabeth Ashley Potter, in sound mind, magic, and body, hereby accept my titles as Heiress of the most noble and ancient Houses of Potter, Peverell, and Gryffindor. So mote it be.

Moko, from his place on Ashley’s shoulder, watched on in fascination as the rings were enveloped with a white glow as they merged into one and resized to fit Ashley’s small finger. She now wore a single gold ring with the swirled carvings and the now-circular-cut emerald. Within the gem displayed the golden outline of the Gryffindor lion standing in front of the Deathly Hallows symbol. It was utterly majestic and it fit snugly around her finger. She felt the rush of power the ring gave her and she’d be lying if she said she didn’t like it. The more powerful she got, the better it would be when she finally faced against Dumbledore (which wouldn’t be for a long time).

“Now that you’ve accepted your titles, how would you like to be addressed, Heiress Potter-Peverell-Gryffindor?” Griphook asked.

“Oh, well… If you would, I’d prefer if you called me Ashley since I now consider you as a friend,” Ashley replied sheepishly, “but if formalities are needed, then I’d prefer Heiress Potter or just Ms. Potter for now. The world doesn’t need to know I’m the Heiress of two other Houses yet.”

Griphook sent her a small smile at that, one she returned. She was an intelligent young girl and so very observant, but she was still fairly new to the magical world. She didn’t know about the implications of befriending the Head Goblin. With Griphook on her side, that meant that the rest of the goblin race would soon follow. She had already befriended Bragkar who was never entirely fond of wizards and witches alike, as civil as he was. She was unaware of how far her kindness would get her.

“Very well, Ashley. I assume you have more questions?”

“Yes, I do. I want to learn more about the creature inheritance, as well as the…soul bonds I have with Remus and Sirius.”

“Ah, now those topics are quite interesting-“

Knock. Knock. Knock. Moko slithered back into his hiding place, not wanting to be seen by unwanted guests.

“Head Goblin, Mr. Hagrid is finished with his business. He is waiting for Ms. Potter at the counter.” Bragkar informed, peeking his head through the gap between the doors.

Griphook frowned at being interrupted mid-sentence but nodded his head in acknowledgement. Ashley, on the other hand, sighed in defeat. Her questions were to be left unanswered once more until her next possible Gringotts visit, which she knew wouldn’t be for a while.

“I’m afraid we have to postpone this discussion for another time. Let Bragkar escort you back to the counter. It has been a pleasure meeting you, Ms. Potter.”

“It has been a pleasure meeting you as well. I’ll come back as soon as I am able to.”

“I’ll expect your next visit, and with the recent…revelations we’ve uncovered, I will personally oversee your accounts. Should I find tampering, I shall send a letter to inform you.”

“Thank you. May your gold overflow, Griphook.”

Ashley’s last sentence shocked the Head Goblin. He didn’t expect her to know the traditional goblin farewell greeting, or for her to use it should she have known, but it was certainly much appreciated.

“And may your enemies tremble before you, Ms. Potter.”

With that, Ashley walked out into the hallway and followed Bragkar back to the counter. Hagrid was standing there casually looking at his pocket watch until he caught sight of Ashley. With the package containing the Philosopher’s Stone nowhere to be seen, she assumed it was already hidden within his pocket. He beamed and put his watch away; speaking almost instantly the moment she reached him.

“What did the Head Goblin want with ya?” She could tell he was curious.

“Oh, it was nothing. He just wanted to formally welcome me back to the Wizarding World.” Ashley shrugged nonchalantly, hiding her ring.

That seemed to convince him enough to leave the subject alone. He, instead, pulled out a bag full of coins while explaining to her that it had come from the vault her parents had left her. One of the vaults they left me, she smirked slyly. She managed to bid Bragkar farewell before Hagrid began to lead her to the exit, reminding her that they had to buy her school essentials. Bowing once again to the guards, she and her half-giant companion for the day left for the shops.

Chapter Text

Ashley kept her head down as she walked, trying her best to hide her scar from the ever watchful eyes of the wizards and witches around her. She was by her herself now, Hagrid nowhere to be seen as she headed for Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. Her lone journeying was due to the fact that right after their trip to Gringotts, she decided that she wanted to explore by herself for a bit. Hagrid had been understandably hesitant but after a little convincing, which included her reminding him about her magical capabilities, he eventually gave in. She was given enough money for her robes and wand, seeing as her attendance was essential for their purchase, before she was sent on her way while the half-giant shopped for her other things.

"Ms. Potter, how very nice it is to see you!"

Entering the purple shop, she was immediately ushered by Madam Malkin herself to stand on top of a stool. Ashley was facing a floor-length mirror, turned away from who she assumed was another first year Hogwarts student trying on a robe. At the sound of her name, she felt the student's stare directed at her. She pointedly ignored it until she heard the witch quietly call out.

"Ashley!"

The familiar voice caused Ashley's head snap towards the speaker.

"Mitch?"

There stood Mitchelle in the same predicament as her, wearing a robe two sizes too big and surrounded by floating scissors and a measuring tape. A smile broke out on each of the girls' faces, depicting how ecstatic they were to see one another again. Sadly, they couldn't embrace like they so wanted to. Ashley was now wearing the robe Madam Malkin gave her, a robe too large for her small frame, like Mitchelle was, and was being measured. And so, they simply decided to reach out and happily interlock their hands.

"I can't believe you're here! I can't believe we're here!"

Ashley knew Mitchelle was referring to the fact that they were in the magical world of Harry Potter, Ashley Potter now in their case. Ashley found it hard to believe either. She sometimes thought it all to be just a dream. She'd wake up one morning, expecting to see the walls of her room in the apartment she'd been living in for months but that (thankfully) never happened. She always woke up in the cupboard; hungry, tired, thirsty, but not at all miserable. After all, she knew her life would drastically improve, and how it did.

"I can't believe it either! Our wish actually came true!"

"I know! I have so much to tell you!"

"I do too but I don't think we have much time. I still have to go to Ollivanders after this. You're here with your parents, right?"

"Damn it, I got my wand first thing, and yeah, they're over there."

Mitchelle nodded her head towards a corner of the shop where a nervous and awed couple stood, holding a bunch of packages. The light-haired man, her father, had an arm around the brunette woman, her mother. Their nerves were understandable. They were Muggles, who had no previous knowledge about the existence of magic and had just found out that their daughter was a witch. They were proud, that was for sure, but they surely needed time to adjust. Now that Ashley had a good look at them, she finally noticed the changes brought upon her friend, just as Mitchelle noticed her changes.

Mitchelle had lost the dark color of her black hair, replaced by the same light shade of brown her father had. It also gained much volume, her hair now a mass of curled locks like Hermione's was. Her skin was a healthy pale, unlike Ashley's, seeing as she hadn't been starved like the Potter Heiress was, and her eyes a deep caramel brown. Mitchelle's facial features had changed to resemble those of her parents but not enough to look like a completely different person. And even in this life, she had still managed to be taller than Ashley.

"Ms. Granger, don't you look stunning?" Ashley teased lightly.

"Why, thank you, Ms. Potter! You look gorgeous, as well." Mitchelle snickered.

The girls laughed good-naturedly as they continued to tease each other while their robes were adjusted to their size. Then, when Ashley was requested to raise her arms to level with her shoulders so that Madam Malkin could adjust the length of the sleeves, Moko decided it was the right time to introduce himself to Mitchelle. His diamond-shaped head popped out of the newly-cut sleeve of Ashley's robe, thoroughly surprising both Mitchelle and Madam Malkin.

"This is Mitch? She's quite jumpy, isn't she?" He mused, commenting on the way Mitchelle almost fell off the stool at seeing him.

"Well, you can't exactly blame her. She didn't expect me to have a snake." Ashley said, helping her friend regain her balance through their connected hands before letting go completely.

Mitchelle wasn't as surprised with her Parseltongue reply, she had expected Ashley to be a Parselmouth since she was replacing Harry Potter. However, Madam Malkin did not. Thankfully, aside from a wide-eyed look, the woman didn't react much and continued on with her work. What a kind woman, she was. Ashley deeply appreciated her silence. After all, not everyone was accepting when it came to Parseltongue.

"Hm, tell her I apologize then. Though, it is nice to know that I'm still intimidating even at this size." Moko mused, sounding a bit smug.

"Don't let it go to your head. Moko says he's sorry for scaring you." Ashley giggled, sending Mitchelle an apologetic smile.

"Uh, it's fine... Moko's his name? He looks like the snake from the zoo...but smaller." Mitchelle replied, curiously eyeing the small serpent.

"That's because he is. The snake from the zoo, I mean. Had to bring him along, he's my familiar." Ashley smiled fondly at her snake as he licked her hand.

"Oh, okay, cool. He seems sweet. I wish I had a familiar."

"I'm sure you'll get one."

"I hope so. Whoa, where'd you get that ring?"

Mitchelle stared at the ring Ashley wore, noticing the golden outlines within the emerald. She recognized them for what they were, the Gryffindor crest and the Deathly Hallows symbol. Before Ashley could explain, Madam Malkin claimed hers and Mitchelle's robes to be done. The woman took their robes to pack in separate packages, leaving the two to step off the stools. They both frowned, knowing that their time together had just been cut short but they didn't feel that bad. They were only going to be separated until the train ride to Hogwarts which was approximately only two hours away. They could handle that, they'd been away for much longer.

"I'll tell you at the train ride later, that way Alyssa will be with us."

"Aw, okay, come say 'hi' to my parents before we leave."

Ashley agreed enthusiastically and accepted her packaged robes from Madam Malkin just as Mitchelle did, each paying for their belongings. Ashley asked Moko to hide back under her clothes in order not to freak out the already nervous couple. He complied and she let herself be led over by Mitchelle to her parents.

"Mum, dad, this is Ashley Potter. It's her first year at Hogwarts too. Ashley, these are my parents, Jean and Ivan Granger." Mitchelle smiled, lightly pushing Ashley forward.

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Granger." Ashley offered her best smile, wanting to leave a good first impression.

"It's nice to meet you too, Ashley, and there's no need for formalities. You can call us Jean and Ivan." Jean kindly said.

"Yes, we're glad Mitch here has already found a friend. Are you here alone?" Ivan asked curiously.

"Um, no. I'm here with a friend of my parents."

"Well, where are you headed? We can walk you there so you and Mitch can have more time to talk."

"Oh, thank you. I need to go to Ollivanders to get my wand."

Jean nodded and smiled, ushering the two girls out of the shop with Ivan following close behind. They chatted amongst themselves with Ashley and Mitchelle pretending to get to know each other. They hugged before Mitchelle left with her parents, leaving Ashley in front of the wand shop. She turned and glanced up at the 'Ollivanders' sign on top of the store, smiling before entering.

"Hello?" She called out; placing the package she was holding on a low shelf.

She walked up to the counter and waited for the telltale sound of life within the shop. She glanced at the back just as a ladder, carrying Ollivander, slid into view. The man looked at her and smiled as he slowly climbed down.

"I wondered when I'd be seeing you, Ms. Potter. It seems only yesterday your mother and father were in here buying their first wands." He reminisced as he began to shuffle through the boxes of wands.

After picking one out, he handed it over to Ashley and instructed her to wave it around, which she did. As expected, the wand was not the right one for her since it caused boxes to crash to the ground the moment she attempted to use it. This process repeated for about three more times, resulting in multiple broken items. Ashley felt bad all throughout the testing since she thought it all to be unnecessary. She already knew the qualities of her wand but she couldn't tell Ollivander that so she kept quiet. She also wasn't sure if she would be receiving the wand she was expecting. Moko, however, was laughing his tail off at the destruction.

"Hm... I wonder."

Ollivander gained a thoughtful look as he returned to the back of the store to search for a wand, Ashley's rightful wand hopefully. He came back carrying a wooden rectangular box, suspiciously similar to the box that once carried the Wishing Stone. That can't be just a coincidence, Ashley thought in disbelief. Ollivander took the lid off, revealing a slick reddish-brown wand with intricate silver swirls covering the entirety of it. What nearly made Ashley gasp was the shard of black obsidian encrusted at the bottom. Ollivander handed it to her and she hesitantly took it. She felt it the moment her magic connected with the wand. Somehow, somewhere, a light shone on her and a strong breeze blew her hair backwards. Her eyes glowed brightly, similar to the way the silver designs on her new wand did.

"Curious, very curious... Hazel wood with a phoenix feather core, ten inches in length with unyielding flexibility; such a wand is capable of outstanding magic."

"This is a special wand then."

"Right you are, young lady. It's not only that. See, I remember every wand I've ever sold, Ms. Potter. It just so happens that the phoenix, whose tail feather resides in your wand, gave one other feather, just one. It is curious that you should be destined for this wand when its brother gave you that scar."

"Do you mean that the wand was owned by the man that killed my parents?"

"You know?"

"I remember."

"Ah... The wand chooses the wizard, Ms. Potter. It's not always clear why, but I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you, very great things."

"I aim to do great things."

Knock. Knock.

"Ashley, Ashley, happy birthday!"

The exclamation made Ashley's head turn towards the window where Hagrid was standing, carrying an armful of packages and a silver cage. Inside the cage was a snowy owl, Hedwig, Harry's eleventh birthday present and messenger owl. Ashley was delighted to see her. Apparently, Moko, who had slipped out from under her shirt, was also quite happy to see the owl. Ashley chastised him silently, saying that he wasn't allowed to eat her owl, before turning back to Ollivander to pay for her wand. She excitedly ran out of the store right after picking up the package on the shelf, greeting Hagrid with a massive hug. Though, she was wary of her chest pocket. She didn't want her cake crushed before she could properly eat a slice.

"Thank you, thank you so much!" She squealed.

"You're welcome, Ashley, knew you'd like her. Her name's Hedwig." Hagrid chuckled.

"She's beautiful, Hagrid!"

"Yes... She looks very delicious-I mean, pretty... Quite pleasing..."

"Moko, no..." Ashley scolded quietly, "Thank you, Hagrid; this is my best birthday yet."

Granted, her past birthdays had been horrible, having spent them starving, dehydrated, and locked inside a cupboard, but still. Although, her first birthday had been a blast from what she remembered. She had spent it with the members of the Order of the Phoenix (unfortunately including Dumbledore). Both Sirius and Remus had spoiled her that day, though Remus' presents had been a more reasonable amount. There had been just a mountain of presents from her godfather. Lily and James had no idea what to do with it all at the time. Ashley frowned as she thought of a particular shared gift from Sirius and Remus. It was a silver chain bracelet with customized charms. It had a full moon with the name 'Moony' etched into it, seven stars spelling out 'Padfoot' and finally, a doe with the name 'Bambi'. The last time Ashley saw it was the night of her parents' death. It must have fallen off, what a shame, she thought sadly. She was genuinely fond of the bracelet, especially since it was from her two most favorite people.

"You're very welcome, Ashley." Hagrid said, interrupting her train of thought, "Now, why don't we head back to the Leaky? You need to eat before the going to Hogwarts. All they sell in the train are sweets."

Ashley agreed with him, feeling famished from the events of that day, and offered to carry some of the packages he was holding on to. He willingly handed over a few and they left the way they came, going through the brick wall entrance at the back of the enchanted pub. Ashley sat near the end of one of the long tables, the packages and the owl cage placed beside her with her wand tucked in her pocket, as Hagrid headed for the counter. She was secretly thankful when she noticed that there were less people around than there were earlier that morning. With her privacy secured for the time being, she let her familiar slither out of her sleeve.

"Moko, you must be hungry as well. Why don't you go ahead and find yourself a little treat? Don't stray too far away though. We have to leave in a while." She kissed the top of Moko's head before lowering him to the floor.

"I'll make sure to stay close, little one." The snake hissed before moving away.

Ashley turned back to the table just as Hagrid arrived and plopped down across from her, bringing with him bowls of soup and a plate of bread. She broke off a small piece of bread and fed it to her new owl before she and Hagrid ate their soup in silence. Her thoughts drifted back to the blood inheritance test from Gringotts. It made her rethink her opinions on many things. She used to have compulsion spells on her, keying her loyalty to Dumbledore. She had sensed unknown spells on her Hogwarts letter, had they been more compulsions? What if others had those spells placed on them as well? What if Hagrid had compulsion spells? It seemed entirely plausible. The way Hagrid acted back at the rock island, it made sense that, even though he believed otherwise, the spells were making him think that Sirius was as guilty as everyone deemed him to be. It also explained his never-ending loyalty to the headmaster. Ashley felt sick thinking about it; the kind man didn't deserve that. Merlin, she hadn't expected Dumbledore to be that cruel but maybe she should have. She would no longer be surprised if he had somehow influenced Tom Riddle to make horcruxes and become Voldemort due to his fear of being overpowered. She froze at that thought, what if that was what happened?

"You all right, Ashley? You seem very quiet." Hagrid asked, concerned.

"Yeah, just thinking..."

"Your parents?"

I don't want to lie to him, but I can't tell him the truth either...

"No, um, I was thinking about...Voldemort." Ashley leaned in to whisper the last word.

Eh, good enough. I'm not exactly lying.

She pursed her lips as Hagrid tensed up, expecting him to burst out in anger. Thankfully, he stayed seated. He did, however, avoid eye contact with her and focused on his soup.

"He killed my parents because he wanted to kill me... Why?" She asked, despite already knowing the answer.

"Not all wizards are good, Ashley. Some of them go bad. A few years ago, there was one wizard who went as bad as you can go. It was dark times. Voldemort started to gather some followers, brought 'em over to the dark side. Anyone that stood up to him ended up dead. Your parents fought against him, but nobody lived once he decided to kill 'em. Nobody, not one, except you."

"My scar..."

"That ain't no ordinary cut on your forehead, Ashley. A mark like that only comes from being touched by a curse, an evil curse, I'm sure you know."

"He disappeared after he gave me my scar... Is he...?"

"Well, some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Nope, I reckon he's out there still, too tired to go on, but one thing's absolutely certain. Something about you stumped him that night. That's why you're famous. That's why everybody knows your name. You're the Girl-Who-Lived."

Ashley chose not to reply after that, finishing her bowl of soup just as Hagrid had. A hiss below the table caught her attention. She ducked down and smiled at the sight of a sated Moko who had just clearly eaten judging by the new mouse-sized bump along his body. She gently picked him up and let him lay on her shoulders. Hagrid helped her gather all of her things and led her out of the pub, heading back to the motorcycle. She jumped back into the sidecar, stacking her packages by her feet. She carefully moved her sleeping snake into her arms while Hagrid started the vehicle. She couldn't help the smile that spread on her face as the ride to the train station began, knowing that in less than half an hour; she would be seeing her best friends again.

Chapter Text

King’s Cross Station, London, England

Ashley walked alongside Hagrid up on a crossing bridge leading to the train platforms, pushing the cart that held all her belongings and school equipment, including her now-enlarged cake box and Hedwig. It felt great to use her new wand and apparently, the silver swirls always glowed whenever she used it. She couldn’t keep the grin off her face no matter how idiotic she knew she looked. She was so close to seeing both her friends again. And how could she forget? She was meeting six out of the nine Weasleys for the first time! Well, technically she was re-meeting them. A memory of her first birthday reminded her that they had already been introduced to one another. Although she doubted they’d remember.

She was especially excited to see the famous trouble-making twins. But she couldn’t help but feel like there was something about them that she was forgetting. Something really important but the thought just wouldn’t process. Pushing that thought to the back of her head, Ashley watched in amusement as Hagrid snapped at a couple who was sending them odd looks. She stopped the cart as he checked the time and cursed.

“Blimey, is that the time? Sorry, Ashley, I’m gonna have to leave you. Dumbledore will be wanting his-well; he’ll be wanting to see me. Now, uh, your train leaves in ten minutes. Here’s your ticket. Stick to it, Ashley, that’s very important. Stick to your ticket.” He said, handing her train ticket.

“Hagrid, wait!” She called out, just as he turned to walk away.

“Yes?” He whirled around, only to stumble back.

Ashley had propelled herself forward and wrapped her arms around him tightly. As he reciprocated the hug, both were completely unaware of the way her palms glowed a subtle bright green before dimming into nothing. None of them knew it at the time but it had been the sign of Ashley’s magic at work, and Hagrid’s mind was getting clearer by the second. The works of mind charms were slowly being washed away, though he had yet to feel any of it.

“Thank you… And be careful.” Ashley murmured.

“Be careful of what?” Hagrid asked, looking down at her with a curious gaze.

“Everything…” Ashley shrugged and smiled innocently.

Dumbledore, Hagrid…. He isn’t who he says he is, and you can’t trust him.

“Alright,” Hagrid chuckled, “you be careful too. I’ll see you at Hogwarts.”

“Okay. Bye, Hagrid!”

Ashley waved at him as he finally left, disappearing off the bridge. Moko popped out, hidden from view behind a curtain of her hair, and nudged the side of her neck. She giggled at him and pushed her cart towards the platforms. She glanced around as she walked down the lane, moving just in time to prevent from colliding into a rushing man. She decided then to stand near the guard Harry had talked to and patiently waited for the familiar faces of the Weasleys, now including one of her best friends. The guard approached her, noticing the way she seemed to be looking for someone.

“Excuse me, young lady. Are you lost? Do you need any help?” He asked.

“No, no, I’m alright, sir. I’m waiting for a friend, thank you.” Ashley replied, dismissing the guard with a polite smile.

Just as he walked away, she turned her head just in time to spot the red-headed mass of six people, four of them pushing individual carts. Her hands clenched in anticipation around the handle of her own cart as the Weasley matriarch passed by her, leading the group with Ginny tucked under one arm. No matter how much she wanted to meet them, Ashley ignored Percy and the twins as they moved past her next. Her eyes were focused at the back of the group where a short ginger was trailing behind. Obviously, the Potter Heiress immediately recognized who the new family member was.

Replacing the girl’s once dark hair was a merry red flowing elegantly down her back, almost similar in length with Ashley’s. Her skin was pale and lightly freckled, her eyes a pair of ocean blue orbs full of mischief, paired with a small smirk. It was Alyssa of course. She would have been intimidating if Ashley hadn’t known her for most of their lives. Grinning, Ashley pushed her cart and slid alongside Alyssa whose smirk immediately turned into a wide smile. However, they knew that they couldn’t exactly speak to each other just yet. They were supposed to be complete strangers to one another. Instead, they briefly held hands as a quiet greeting. Unfortunately, this did not escape the curious and watchful gazes of Fred and George who had coincidentally looked back just in the nick of time. Alyssa raised an eyebrow at them, silently challenging them to say something. Ashley, on the other hand, beamed and waved happily. Smirking, the twins shared a look the girls couldn’t decipher before facing forward once more. Something about those two was nagging at the back of Ashley’s mind but she really couldn’t think of what. All she knew was that it wasn’t anything bad.

“Come on, Platform 9¾ this way! Alright, Percy, you first!” Molly called out.

Ashley and Alyssa halted in their steps behind the twins and watched as the third eldest Weasley child ran towards and through the brick wall leading to their designated platform. The girls grinned at one another as reality slowly began to set in for them. Having spent their days with their respective families, the quick events never really gave them time to breath. That short moment, where they were waiting for their turn to go, the realization of where they really were was a tad bit overwhelming yet undeniably exhilarating. They were mere moments away from the beginning of the new chapter in their lives.

“Fred, you next.”

“He’s not Fred, I am!”

“Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, George.”

“I’m only joking. I am Fred.”

With that, Fred ran through the wall, followed closely by George. Alyssa rolled her eyes fondly, used to the twins’ antics by now. Ashley had to laugh though. She simply adored the twins. They were a close second to Remus and Sirius at being her favorite characters. It had always been amusing to watch how everyone, along with their own mother, got the two twins confused. It was understandable really. They were identical, for Merlin’s sake! But Ashley had long since figured out how to differentiate them properly. She only had to pay close attention to them. That and she had lots of practice from her and her friends’ many Harry Potter movie marathons.

“Alright, Alyssa, you’re next then.”

Shaking her head exasperatedly, Molly turned around to face her eldest daughter but promptly froze when she saw Ashley. Specifically, when Molly saw and recognized Ashley’s scar. Molly’s eyes nearly watered as familiar green orbs stared at her. She was immediately reminded of Lily (along with James due to the dark hair) but Ashley’s eyes were somehow brighter and much more intense. Despite her young age and the innocence portrayed by her soft, angelic features, a fierce fire burned within her eyes. Leaving the side of an awestruck Ginny, Molly approached and carefully cupped the face of the girl she hadn’t seen in ten years.

“Elizabeth, dear, is that really you?” Molly asked in disbelief.

“It is, though I do prefer to be called Ashley. Hello, Aunt Molly.” Ashley beamed.

“Oh, look at you, you’re beautiful…” Molly breathed out.

She hugged Ashley close to her chest, the younger of the two eagerly reciprocating. The warmth of the embrace comforted Ashley just like a mother’s hug would. Given the way the Dursleys had treated her, she hadn’t had the chance to experience a mother’s love since she was a year old. She quite honestly missed it. Thankfully though, Molly hadn’t felt Moko who was still peeking out from Ashley’s shirt. That would have taken time to explain, time they didn’t have in that particular moment.

“Oh, you’re too thin… Has your family been feeding you properly? How do you remember me?” Molly questioned, pulling away and holding Ashley at arm’s length.

“I have such an amazing memory, you wouldn’t believe it.” The raven-haired girl joked, purposely leaving the first question unanswered.

“I’m sure I would.” Molly answered fondly, “Alright, well, as much as I’d like to keep you here, the train will be leaving soon. Don’t want to get left behind now.”

Nodding, Ashley pushed her cart towards the wall separating Platforms 9 and 10. Alyssa trailed closely behind, following her as she disappeared through the wall. Both girls emerged on the other side, the magical platform bustling with parents and their children. The two looked around in wonder, taking in the sight of the people around them. Molly and Ginny then came through the wall and ushered them towards the red train, the Hogwarts Express, just as a whistle blew, signaling the nearing time of departure.

With a quick goodbye to Molly and Ginny, the girls boarded the train and easily found an empty compartment. Ashley carried her cake box and Moko, of course, while Alyssa brought along with her a small box with holes, looking oddly like a present, what with the green ribbon wrapped neatly around it. Their trunks, bags, and owl cages (Alyssa had an owl, unlike Ron in his first year) were left in the baggage car. Placing her cake box down beside her, Ashley expressed her curiosity as she sat down across from Alyssa. The ginger grinned wickedly, a gesture Ashley knew she’d be seeing a lot, and shook the box quite violently. Ashley understood immediately why Alyssa was grinning when she heard the terrified squeak that came from within the box.

“Scabbers?”

“Scabbers.”

“You charmed the box?”

“No, the twins did. This rat has no chance of escaping without outside help, which it won’t receive.”

“They know about our situation? How much have you told them?”

“I haven’t told them anything. They were just happy to mess with the rat.”

Ashley nodded and smirked. She was already lost in her thoughts, sadistically thinking about the ways she could make the traitorous rat suffer before she gave him off to the Ministry. She was sure Alyssa was most likely thinking of the same thing. Oh, they were going to have fun with Scabbers, in ways he definitely was not going to like. And what better way to start than to scare the living daylights out of him with the threat of being fed to a snake? It was a good way to introduce Moko to Alyssa.

You can come out now, Moko. And if you don’t mind, hiss very loudly.

A strange request, but sure.

Moko slithered out into plain view and settled down in Ashley’s lap, curling around himself comfortably. He hissed loudly like she had requested before scenting the air, his head perking up at the smell of the easy-to-access prey. After he positioned himself to lunge at the box in Alyssa’s hands, Ashley petted his head and explained exactly who was in the box and why they needed the dirty animal alive despite wanting to kill him. Moko begrudgingly settled down and Ashley just knew he was pouting. Alyssa, who had been watching the whole scene unfold, was more than amused. Moko tilted his head at her, silently assessing his little one’s new companion, before nodding and dozing off to sleep.

“Alyssa, meet my familiar, Moko. He’s the snake from the zoo, I’m sure you remember. He followed me to the rock island.”

“Wicked! I thought he was much bigger though.”

“He is, but I can’t exactly carry a snake far bigger than I am, so I charmed him. The Dursleys would have hurt him. I also can’t let Dumbledore know that I have a snake, I don’t need more of the attention he’s bound to give me…”

A woman pushing a trolley stopped by the open door of the compartment, interrupting the girls’ conversation. However, both were not so upset when they realized that the woman was selling sweets. Ashley was quick to pull out her pouch of coins from her pocket to buy as much as would satisfy her sweet tooth. Alyssa was very thankful to be her friend in that moment, but then she noticed Ashley’s baggy clothes. She scrunched up her nose in distaste at the obvious insult to fashion. She couldn’t help but voice out her opinion.

“Ash, you need a new wardrobe.”

“Believe me, I know. I’m transfiguring every piece of clothing I own, which isn’t much to be honest, as soon as I am able to.”

“Haven’t you been practicing magic? I know I’ve been, and Mitch surely has. Why didn’t you do this before?”

“The Dursleys would have been suspicious; you know how they are... Plus, transfiguration is dangerous magic. I didn’t want to risk it. I’ll wait until Professor McGonagall’s class.”

“Alright, you have a point there.”

“Now, speaking of Dumbledore, that manipulative old goat, he’s got a lot more secrets than we originally thought.”

“Ohhh, do tell.”

“I will, as soon as Mitch finds us.”

“Where is she?”

Ashley shrugged and gave Alyssa her small share of sweets since Alyssa already had the sandwiches Molly had packed her. They played a short game with Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans which Alyssa had won but she hadn’t really celebrated seeing as she ended up eating the earwax-flavored bean. Ashley grabbed the blue and gold package containing the chocolate frog and opened it, catching the charmed chocolate before it could jump out the window. She left the card inside the package, not really wanting to see Dumbledore at the moment (or at all, really). She finished consuming the chocolate just as a figure stepped into the compartment.

“Finally, I’ve been looking everywhere for you two!” Mitchelle exclaimed, shutting the compartment door behind her.

“Mitch!” Alyssa and Ashley cheered simultaneously.

Ashley carefully moved her sleeping familiar off her lap and on top of the box imprisoning Peter Pettigrew that was placed on the floor. She was relieved when the snake only stirred just a tiny bit before going still again. The three reunited friends then shared a tight hug, individually whispering how much they missed each other. Mitch and Alyssa additionally greeted Ashley, remembering that it was her birthday. They stayed in their embrace for a few more seconds before going back to their seats. Mitchelle chose to sit beside Ashley who scooted closer to the window, the cake box and the stacks of sweets acting as a barrier between them. Alyssa sat sideways and propped her legs up; basking in the large space she had with only her on the cushioned bench.

“Alright, now that we’re all here… It’s story time.” Ashley grinned, clapping her hands together.

Before one of her friends could start talking, she whipped out her wand and cast a muffling charm around the compartment. They couldn’t risk someone overhearing their stories. Alyssa and Mitchelle, after commenting on the coincidence of the black obsidian, complimented her wand and showcased theirs. Alyssa’s wand, nine inches in length, was made from cedar wood with a dragon heartstring core. Her wand was a dark grey color, branch-like in appearance. A small cluster of red crystals was framed by the crescent-shaped bottom while two silver snakes wrapped around more than half of the wand. Mitchelle’s wand looked like a miniature light brown staff, made from rowan wood with a unicorn hair core, fourteen and a half inches in length. A clear crystal ball was encrusted at the bottom of her wand while a bronze vine looped around the handle. To summarize, the girls’ respective wands depicted how dark and/or light their magic was. Their wands also had similar curious little kinks, like how Alyssa’s crystals, Mitchelle’s miniature crystal ball, and Ashley’s silver patterns all glowed when their magic was active.

After tucking away their wands, the girls shared the cake together as Mitchelle began retelling her memories of the past days in the magical world. Her story and Alyssa’s were quite similar in the way that they both had spent most of their time practicing simple magic and getting to know their new families. Ashley realized that their childhood memories hadn’t been ingrained into their minds just as hers was. Thinking back to the blood inheritance test, she was grateful for the skill she had been given. She cherished all of the memories she had with her family, no matter how brief they were.

When it was her turn, she immediately described how the movies had downplayed how the Dursleys treated Harry. They were much, much worse. Although it was expected, Alyssa and Mitchelle were still significantly horrified. How could any sane person do that? Let alone, to a child who was also their niece? Ashley didn’t dwell on the subject. She moved on to telling her company how she achieved casting several wandless and wordless spells. She was quite proud of that. Mitchelle related to the wandless spells, having just gotten her wand, unlike Alyssa who acquired her wand a day after she woke in the world.

Then, the dreaded topic came. Ashley explained the event of the blood inheritance test. She explained each revelation and each theory she had regarding all the manipulations of one Albus Dumbledore.

“Compulsion charms, magic blocks? Merlin, it all makes so much sense now.” Mitch muttered, leaning back with a disturbed expression.

“What do we do with him?” Alyssa piped up, her calm tone a huge contrast against her deadly glare.

Instead of answering, Ashley took the Dumbledore card out of the Chocolate Frog package. She whipped out her wand once again and levitated the card face-down. With a swish of her wrist, the card was torn to pieces and burned to ashes which were then thrown outside the window. If only the wizard within the card had screamed, that would have made it better.

“So, we kill him.” Mitchelle stated bluntly, looking like she wasn’t as opposed to the idea as she probably should have been.

“Kill him? That’d be giving him mercy. No, he deserves far worse. We are going to destroy him, starting with his beloved reputation. We don’t have to hurt him to make him suffer, if you know what I mean.” Ashley giggled, sounding just as mentally unstable as she really was.

“You have plans.” Alyssa deduced.

“I do.” There came Ashley’s vague answer.

“Fine, be mysterious if you want. You better answer our questions though. I have a lot and I’m sure Alyssa does too.” Mitchelle remarked.

“Ask away.” Ashley smiled, crossing her arms over her chest as she leaned back into her seat.

Ask away, they did. Alyssa and Mitchelle’s questions were mainly about the contents of the blood inheritance test. They asked about her ring, why there was only one when she was the Heiress of three Houses. She explained to them how the merging of the rings worked. They asked about the blood glamour, why there was one placed on her. She told them her theory that the blood glamour was there to make Snape detest her like he did with her father. It added up, what with Dumbledore having told the Potions Master that she had been raised as a spoiled child. The headmaster must have wanted one less person on her side, especially one as loyal to her mother as Snape once was.

She answered her friends’ questions to the best of her ability. She, unfortunately, couldn’t tell them anything when they had wondered about her creature inheritance and her blocked bonds with Sirius and Remus. However, she did say that those bonds may have been connected to soulmates and such. She then joked that she had always known that they really were meant to be. They had all laughed it off but as she looked out the window, she hoped it was true. A girl could dream, right? After all, one wish had already come true.

What was another compared to that?

Chapter Text

Hogsmeade Station, Scottish Highlands

Alyssa, Ashley, and Mitchelle grinned at each other the moment they felt the train stop. Alyssa unceremoniously grabbed the box holding Scabbers and shrunk it to fit in her pocket, making sure to shake it up a bit. Mitchelle pocketed the leftover sweets, while Ashley retrieved her familiar. Moko wrapped himself around the Potter Heiress’ right arm, concealing himself underneath the sleeve of her robe. Together, the three girls waltzed out of the train alongside the other students, all bustling with excitement. Ashley tugged on both her friends’ arms when she spotted Hagrid’s large frame holding a lantern, making him visible within the darkness of the station.

“Right then, first years! This way please! Come on now, don’t be shy! Hurry up!” He called out, “Oh, hello, Ashley.”

“Hello! Hagrid, these are Mitch and Alyssa. I met them on the train.” Ashley introduced as she approached the half-giant, gesturing to each girl as she mentioned their name.

“Pleasure to meet you two.” Hagrid smiled, “Right then, this way to the boats! Come on, now, follow me.”

He led the three girls off the station platform, followed by the rest of the first year students while the older students headed for the carriages. They reached the shore of the vast body of water known as the Black Lake where rows of boats were waiting for them. With the knowledge of each boat fitting four people at most, Ashley, Alyssa, and Mitchelle all piled into one and looked for a fourth companion. Noticing a girl standing off to the side all on her own, they waved her over to join their little group. One by one, the boats began moving across the lake and towards the massive Hogwarts castle. Smiling, Ashley turned to face the girl she had yet to know the name of.

The stranger’s pale skin glowed dimly underneath the moonlight. Wavy blonde locks with the tips dyed black framed her face, cut short just below her chest. Her eyes, bright and intelligent, were a brilliant shade of stormy grey. She introduced herself as Hikari Ai, a half-Japanese Muggle-born. In her arms was a small American Cocker Spaniel named Chocnut. Named after a type of chocolate, she explained. Ashley guessed he was the blonde’s familiar and wondered if she was aware of that fact.

“My name is Ashley. This is Mitch, and this is Alyssa. It’s nice to meet you, Ai.”

Just as Ashley extended her hand for a handshake, Moko decided that it was a great time to pop out. This action made Ai and Chocnut jump, rocking the boat in the process and drawing the attention of the nearby students. Apologizing, Ashley explained what Moko meant to her. Luckily, Ai understood, revealing that she did know what familiars were and that Chocnut was, indeed, her familiar. Chocnut and Moko seemed to get along after that. The snake hadn’t asked Ashley’s permission to eat the puppy, after all, and the puppy himself just seemed oh so curious. The trio got to know Ai well during the short boat ride and they became fast friends with her. She was a bit timid at first but she was easy to talk to. She was quite adorable, really. She had a habit of turning beet red every time she laughed, and another habit of speaking fast when flustered. She showcased this when she learned that it was actually Ashley’s birthday and greeted her with a bunch of jumbled words.

“It’s beautiful…” Ai suddenly said, gazing up at the castle they were gradually coming closer to.

“It is, isn’t it?” Ashley smiled fondly.

“I’m still in disbelief, you know? I can’t believe that this is all real, that magic is real.” Ai uttered, gesturing wildly with her hands.

Preach, sister. I’m still expecting to wake up from this, most likely, sugar-high-induced dream.

“Merlin, we feel the same way. We only just found out a few days ago.” Mitchelle giggled, shrugging casually.

“Oh, really? That must have been quite a shock for you. At least I had three months to prepare myself.”

“It was. It really was. Though, I have to say, it was a wish come true.”

Ashley waggled her eyebrows, snickering as Mitchelle lightly hit her arm, rolling her eyes in the process. The brunette, however, was obviously trying to fight off a smile. Ai and Alyssa were laughing for different reasons. Ai was ever so amused at Ashley’s antics to provoke Mitchelle while Alyssa had gotten the inside joke the raven-haired girl had sent. They quieted down after a while, just in time for the boats to arrive at the school dock. The girls helped each other off the boat, Moko retreating back under Ashley’s sleeve, and gathered at the front of the clustered first years.

“Just a little further!” Hagrid announced.

He led the group towards the entrance of the castle. Ashley decided to hang back a bit, seeing as it wasn’t that short of a trek, and slowed her steps so that she was behind her friends instead of beside them. She was now walking right beside a nervous-looking boy. Neville Longbottom, she recognized. Judging from the way he kept glancing around, specifically at the ground, she knew he was looking for his missing toad, Trevor. What better way to start making more friends than to help a fellow Gryffindor out? Ashley wanted to try her best befriending all the characters of her new world, except Dumbledore…and Bellatrix…and Peter…and the Dursleys… Okay, so she didn’t want to befriend everyone. She was friendly, but not that friendly.

“Hey.” Ashley greeted, startling poor Neville.

“Oh, um… Hi?” He hesitantly responded.

He was most likely surprised Ashley was talking to him. She briefly remembered how shy he had been during the first few years at Hogwarts. He had been badly bullied by Draco and his posse. They were certified gits; Neville hadn’t deserved that kind of treatment. He was kind, supportive, brave, far from the coward they had claimed he was. A true Gryffindor, that boy was. Ashley was going to make sure he would not be getting the same treatment this time around now that she was here. It helped her determination grow when he only sent a wide-eyed glance at her scar, but otherwise stayed silent.

“I heard back on the train that you were looking for your toad.” She mentioned softly.

“I could help you, if you’d like? I’m Ashley, by the way.”

“Yes, th-that would be nice, thank you. M-my name’s Neville.”

Ashley smiled at the relief that flooded his face. She waited for him to look away before quickly fishing out her wand. She kept her hand at her side to not attract any unnecessary attention and lowered her head, muttering the summoning spell. Half a second later, a brown toad shot into her waiting hand. After making sure that it really was Trevor, she tapped Neville on the shoulder to inform him of her success.

“Look, I found him!” She cheered, Trevor placed on her open palms.

“Trevor! Thank you, Ashley.” Neville said gratefully, gently taking the toad from her hands.

“You’re welcome, Neville. Does this mean we’re friends now?” She half-heartedly joked.

Receiving a shy nod from the boy in return, she grinned and linked their arms together, tugging him forward to slide beside Ai. The girls, after being introduced to one another, were as welcoming as possible to ease the timid boy. He fit in well with the group despite being the only male. They were all laughing about something Mitchelle said when they finally reached the entrance to the school.

“Well, this is where I stop.” Hagrid announced, “Professor McGonagall will be waiting for you up the stairs.”

Animated whispers filled the air as the students piled into the entrance three or four at a time. When it was Ashley and her friends’ turn, she was stopped by Hagrid placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. Assuring them she’d take just a moment, she gestured for the others to keep going without her.

”Visit me when you can, Ashley. My hut’s just near the Forbidden Forest. Best stay clear from that place. The forest, I mean.” Hagrid said once she turned to face him.

“I will, Hagrid. Visit, I mean. I’ll be careful as well.”

Can’t be anything but careful, Hagrid. Not when I’m about to enter Dumbledore’s world. I can’t ever let my guard down around him. I wish you wouldn’t either.

Nodding, Hagrid sent Ashley on her way. She walked through the wide corridor of the castle and easily found her way back to her friends. It was quite odd how at home she felt within the boundaries of the castle. She felt the magic surrounding her, warm and accepting. She figured it was because she was the Heiress of one of its Houses.

The castle must be really sentient then.

She arrived just in time for the beginning of Professor McGonagall’s traditional ‘welcome to Hogwarts’ speech. Ashley didn’t really pay much attention, she didn’t need to. She already knew about the Houses, the points, and the House Cup. So, she studied the faces within the crowd. Most she instantly recognized but there were some unfamiliar ones. Those new students, she theorized, were additional side-effects to the wish. She was perfectly fine with that as long as they weren’t going to be in the way of her plans to take down the headmaster. She really didn’t need more enemies to add to the amount she was bound to have.

“The sorting ceremony will begin momentarily.”

McGonagall turned and headed into the great hall. The calm silence left along with her as the students began discussing which House they would be sorted in. Alyssa, Ashley, and Mitchelle were sure they knew which House they belonged to so, they decided to ask Ai and Neville. Neville seemed to believe he’d be in Hufflepuff while Ai, based on what she read about the House traits, claimed that she’d most likely be in Ravenclaw. However, before they could chat any further, a particular blond flanked by his two minions approached Ashley with a confident smirk on his face.

“It’s true then, what they’re saying on the train. Elizabeth Potter has come to Hogwarts.” Draco commented quite loudly, much to the raven-haired girl’s dismay.

She fought the urge to roll her eyes in irritation as murmurs swept through the crowd of people present. It would have given him ammunition if she showed that she was affected by the attention. Instead, she played it cool and smiled, interlocking her hands at her front after subtly nudging Alyssa’s side.

“This is Crabbe and Goyle. And I’m Malfoy, Draco Malfoy.”

Proud as he was to be a Malfoy, Alyssa ruined his moment by chuckling. The smirk on the blond’s face swiftly turned into a glare that was directed at the ginger. Ashley watched with raised eyebrows as the words Draco was sure to spit out seemingly died on his tongue the second he caught sight of her best friend. Alyssa froze as well; her being the only one who saw the way Draco’s grey eyes flashed purple as they met hers. There was a strange sensation in her chest; she didn’t know how to describe it. What was going on? The two both snapped out of their short reverie but Ashley had already noticed their strange behavior.

What was that about?

“Th-think my name’s funny, do you?!” Draco sneered, glaring fiercely.

“No, not your name, your hair. You look like you used too much gel, mate.” Alyssa responded, successfully hiding her confusion with a sly smirk.

Those who heard her comeback hadn’t bothered to try and hide their snickering; even Neville was fighting back a smile. How amusing it was to see the Malfoy Heir turn red with barely concealed embarrassment and anger. He deserved it, really. It was a sure taste of his own medicine. He needed someone like Alyssa to put him in his place. Don’t get her wrong, Ashley wanted to befriend him. She didn’t doubt that Alyssa wanted that as well, more likely the redhead wanted to be more than friends. They agreed on one thing though. Nothing was going to happen while Draco was still an arrogant prick. He was so busy trying to think of an insult that he didn’t see McGonagall appear behind him.

“We’re ready for you now. Follow me.” She declared after tapping the flushed blond on the shoulder.

He stepped aside with one final glare towards Alyssa who smirked mockingly. She was obviously attempting to provoke him. Her way of dealing with her crush was certainly interesting. The students followed McGonagall through two large doors, leading them into the great hall. They walked down the center aisle, between the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables. Thousands of curious stares were trained at them, especially at Ashley since her scar was ever the attention magnet. She acted oblivious to it all and instead, listened to Ai explain the bewitched ceiling before they were gathered in front of the Sorting Hat. McGonagall introduced Dumbledore who stood up to make announcements pertaining to the Forbidden Forest and the third floor corridor. Once he was seated again, the sorting began as names were called one by one. Ashley’s attention, however, was caught by the feeling of her snake making his way up her arm, popping his head out near her ear. She made sure he was hidden behind her hair as he looked around the large room.

...Would there be any chance I’d be allowed near that cat over there? Perhaps in my original size?” He hissed, zeroing in on the red-eyed cat named Mrs. Norris.

Moko, no…” Ashley chastised in fond exasperation.

I’m only joking, little one…partially.

Ashley muffled her giggle beneath her hand as Moko slithered back into hiding, once again wrapping around her arm. She focused on the Sorting Hat which had been placed on a brown-eyed brunet. After he was sorted into Gryffindor, she glanced to the side and frowned when she noticed that Neville looked anxious.

“You okay, Neville?”

“Just… What if we get sorted into different Houses?”

“There’s no need to worry. Our Houses won’t matter; we’ll still be friends no matter what.”

Smiling comfortingly, Ashley took one of Neville’s hands in both of hers. She watched the small smile that graced his face in return, both blissfully unaware of the green glow her hands had temporarily gained. Unknowingly, her magic had wrapped protectively around him, particularly around his mind. She dropped his hand when they heard Mitchelle’s name.

“Amity Granger!”

“Good luck, Mitch, don’t trip!”

Mitchelle affectionately swatted the hand that Ashley had placed on her arm before walking forward to sit on the stool. Ashley, however, was much too distracted as she looked down at her hands. She had (finally) noticed the glow they emitted and she wondered what it meant. She didn’t feel like her magic was reacting, nor was it out of control. A single thought popped up in her mind. Hadn’t Griphook mentioned that she was able to share her ability of having a mental shield? Was that what had happened? She wondered if she had accidentally shared her ability with anyone else without her knowledge. Shaking her head, she focused back on reality.

“Ah, right then… Hm, easy enough... Hufflepuff!” The Sorting Hat proclaimed.

Ai, Alyssa, Ashley, and Neville did their best to scream their approvals as they merrily clapped their hands. Giggling, Mitchelle stood up from the stool with her head held high and sauntered over to the cheering table of her fellow badgers. The first year Hufflepuffs who had been sorted earlier waved her over. They had already saved a space for her, fortunately, right beside the charming Cedric Diggory. Seeing the blush spreading across Mitchelle’s face as she sat down, Ashley couldn’t help but laugh. However, she stopped and narrowed her eyes in confusion when Cedric and Mitchelle both froze upon making eye contact with each other.

Just like Alyssa and Draco… What’s going on?

“Hikari Ai!”

Ashley saved her thoughts for later that night when she was in her dorm. For now, she had to be in the present to support her friends. She also had to protect them and now, she knew how to. Well, she had a small inkling on how to. She was honestly just going to wing it and rely on her instincts.

Acting fast, she placed her hand over Ai’s, willing her magic to react as it did before as she murmured a ‘good luck’. Luckily, her hand glowed once more, indicating her success. Oblivious to what had happened; Ai smiled and sat on the stool with Chocnut fidgeting in her arms. After a moment’s deliberation, she was sorted into Ravenclaw, just as she had predicted. She beamed at everyone present and feeling the light atmosphere, her familiar yipped happily. Alyssa, Ashley, and Neville all cheered, of course. They even heard Mitchelle’s voice all the way from her table. The fact that she was cheering for a student from another House caused others to give her odd looks which she blatantly ignored. Ashley, from where she was stood, couldn’t disregard the way Cedric gave the brunette all his attention with a smile. Alyssa had Draco, and now, Mitchelle had Cedric… Where was Ashley’s partner (or partners, she wasn’t picky) in all this?

A similar event took place, this time with Ai, as Neville was called and sorted into Gryffindor. Next was Draco Malfoy who was immediately sent to Slytherin. Catching the quick glance he gave Alyssa, Ashley teased her good-naturedly, receiving a firm elbow to the side. Ashley didn’t mind, it hadn’t really hurt. Then, her scar warmed up. Her gaze swept along the head table, meeting the intense stare of one Severus Snape. She didn’t let herself be intimidated by him. Instead, she put on her best smile and waved, enjoying the shock that briefly flickered through the Potions Master’s normally indifferent expression. She also waved at the turban-wearing figure beside him.

“Elizabeth Potter!”

Her attention was torn away from the two professors when her name was called out. Before she went forward, she made sure to touch Alyssa’s hand to share her protective ability one last time that night. Fortunately, no one but Ashley had noticed her hands’ glow. How? Ashley didn’t know. She guessed everyone was too taken by the sorting to care about their surroundings. Taking a deep breath, she sat on the stool, feeling the tension within the room as the Sorting Hat was placed on her head. The entirety of the student body was on the edge of their seats, waiting the Sorting Hat’s announcement with baited breath.

“How interesting, you are aware of things great wizards and witches have completely overlooked… You have been blessed with great skill. Quite the determined soul, you are. With the proper motivation in mind, your plans will be successful.” The Hat hummed, his voice lowered to the point where only Ashley could hear it.

“Well, that’s a relief.”

“Hm… Plenty of courage, but not to the point of recklessness, kind and compassionate, but only to those who deserve it, paired with an intelligent and cunning mind. You are destined for greatness, Ms. Potter. You’re already well on your way.”

“Thank you.”

“Now, where to put you? I’d say Slytherin would be quite a good match.”

“No, Dumbledore is watching… I need to be where he expects me to be.”

“A shame, but alright. It fits either way. Off to your inherited House then… Gryffindor!”

The Gryffindor table erupted into loud cheers. The Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin tables clapped as well, though with much less enthusiasm. However, what made Ashley smile was hearing the voices of her friends above all the noise. They were standing up from their respective tables, aside from Alyssa who was jumping up and down in front of the group of unsorted first years. Ashley wore a bright smile when she approached her House table, being greeted almost immediately by the older students. Hands reached out to shake her hand, each one she reluctantly took.

“We got Potter, we got Potter!” The Weasley twins cheered, “Sit with us, little raven!”

Little raven…? I’ve heard that before... Where have I heard that before?

Stopping herself from over-thinking the new nickname, Ashley shrugged and occupied the space between the twins. The rest of the House kept on congratulating her. Ai waved from the other table while Neville, seated on the other side of Fred, sent a small smile. After responding to both with a wave, Ashley shifted her eyes away from them and back to the head table. Quirrell was steadily avoiding her gaze while Snape once again looked indifferent. Sending him a small smile, she was pleased when the Potions Master nodded stiffly in acknowledgement. It wasn’t much of a response, but it was still a response. Ashley didn’t expect him to react at all. Maybe now that she didn’t resemble James aside from her glasses and hair color, Snape was less inclined to hold a grudge over her. She was still Lily’s child, after all. He’d surely remember that every time he’d look into her eyes. Speaking of eyes, she purposely avoided Dumbledore’s twinkling gaze. It was a good thing she had hidden her ring with a particularly strong concealment charm. There was no doubt in her mind that he would have started a fuss over the very important piece of jewelry.

She startled when an arm draped over her shoulders, another looping around her waist. Eyeing the limbs, she turned to the grinning twins flanking her sides with Fred on her left and George on her right. They leaned in simultaneously and whispered a quick ‘happy birthday’. Their breaths fanned across her face, causing her to giggle at the ticklish sensations. Chuckling, the younger twin nodded towards the front of the hall where there were only two unsorted first years left, one of them being his younger sister.

“Alyssa Weasley!”

Ashley leaned forward in her seat, anticipating the expected reactions of everyone present after Alyssa was sorted into Slytherin. Before the Sorting Hat was placed atop the ginger’s head, Ashley spotted the small smirk playing on her lips.

“Ha! Another Weasley… Well, this is quite interesting. I know just where to put you… Slytherin!”

A shocked silence filled the great hall, even the professors didn’t seem to know how to react. It was quiet, save for the wild cheering of Ai, Mitchelle, Ashley, Neville, and surprisingly enough (not really), the Weasley twins. Fred was whooping loudly while George was proclaiming that they had expected it all along. Eventually, the rest of the students hesitantly began clapping, the loudest being the Slytherins. Alyssa proceeded to her table and, with a proud smirk, plopped down on the empty seat beside Draco, much to his obvious chagrin. Merlin, no matter how hard he tried to hide it, he looked so flustered. Given how prideful he was, Ashley was going to have a hard time playing matchmaker; that was for sure. The last student, Blaise Zabini, was sorted into Slytherin before McGonagall called everyone’s attention towards Dumbledore.

“Let the feast…begin.”

With those magic words, food of different types materialized on the tables of each House. Sounds of awe and chatter filled the air as the students proceeded to dig in. Fred and George pulled their arms away to eat properly but still kept close. Sharing a grin with Neville, Ashley piled food on her plate but with not as much as she would have preferred. Being starved by the Dursleys had caused her appetite to lessen immensely. Consuming too much would cause her to get sick to the stomach and that would have been embarrassing to do in front of her new friends. She was trying, though, to eat as much as she was able to. It would take time, but her body would eventually adjust.

The rest of the feast was quite enjoyable. Fred and George had made it their mission to make Ashley laugh when they had noticed the frown on her face caused by the thought of her maternal relatives, though they obviously didn’t know that. It wasn’t a difficult task but it was an inconvenience that they succeeded while she was drinking water. As embarrassing as that was, she couldn’t get mad, not when she knew that they had the best intentions in mind. Then, the ghosts came floating by. Nearly Headless Nick had scared Neville, especially when he did his head trick. If Ashley hadn’t been expecting it, she would have been just as frightened, maybe even more. She and Neville laughed it off and continued on eating. After the feast, the twins bid them farewell as Percy Weasley gathered the first years and led them outside the hall.

“Gryffindors, follow me please. Keep up, thank you.”

They were led to the grand staircase tower where the Ravenclaws were heading up to their dorm. Ashley and Neville caught sight of Ai who was talking to a blue-eyed blonde before they disappeared from view. The Gryffindors watched in fascination as some of the staircases began changing places.

“This is the most direct path to the dormitories. Oh, and keep an eye on the staircases, they like to change.”

Percy then led them up a set of stairs, telling the students to keep up with him. They passed by multiple portraits that moved at the sight of them, politely greeting each student.

“Ashley, look! That picture’s moving!”

“Oh, wow!”

And no, that wasn’t a sarcastic comment. Ashley really meant it. The moving pictures were pretty amazing. She chatted with Neville until they had reached the seventh floor. They followed Percy through the corridor leading up to the Gryffindor tower. They arrived at the painting of The Fat Lady, a large woman wearing a big pink dress. Percy uttered the current password, Caput Draconis, giving him access to the Gryffindor common room. He, with the first years of course, walked through the narrow entry way and gathered in the middle of the fire-lit room.

“Gather ‘round here. Welcome to the Gryffindor common room. Boy’s dormitories, upstairs and down to your left. Girls, the same on your right. You’ll find that your belongings have already been brought up.” Percy said, dismissing them all.

Neville yawned all of a sudden, betraying the exhaustion he attempted to hide in favor of speaking more with Ashley. She shook her head, giggling, and suggested that he rest. The next day was an important one, their first full day at Hogwarts. She didn’t want him to be tired for it. He gave in to her insistence, agreeing that they’d meet there in the common room before breakfast.

“Oh, before I forget. Happy birthday, Ashley.”

Ashley nodded, smiling gratefully, and watched him walk away before following Percy’s earlier instructions regarding the directions to her dormitory. She went through the first door she saw and fortunately, luck was on her side that night seeing as she had entered the right room.

There were five single beds within the dorm reserved only for the first year girls. Three of the beds sat next to each other while the other two were separately parallel to the spaces between the three beds. Her four dorm mates were Fay Dunbar, Lavender Brown, Parvati Patil, and an unfamiliar face. The three she recognized had claimed the three beds, leaving her to claim the one next to the stranger who had brown hair with drowsy blue eyes and pale skin. Before Ashley could introduce herself and ask for the stranger’s name, the brunette dropped face-down onto her pillow. The girl hadn’t even bothered to change out of her robes into something more comfortable. She was fast asleep, just like that. She was soon followed by her and Ashley’s other dorm mates. Ashley whispered a quiet ‘goodnight’ before the room went dark.

She waited a few moments, just sitting on her bed in silence, taking in the calm atmosphere. Casting Lumos, she removed Moko from around her arm and rested him on her bed. She held her wand as she changed out of her school robes and into her sleeping wear which consisted of faded pajama pants and a big shirt. She really did need new clothes, ones that actually fitted her. She couldn’t wait for Transfiguration. Altering her current collection of clothes was the only option she had at the moment. She couldn’t exactly sneak out of the castle and purchase new clothes for herself. Sighing, she picked her familiar up and retrieved Hedwig from her cage. She sat by the window with her animals near her, looking out into the foggy night.

You seem quiet, little one… Are you not happy?” Moko hissed.

I am,” Ashley assured, “I’m just a bit overwhelmed now that we’re actually here.

There’s no need to fret. I’ll always be here to help you.

Instead of replying verbally, Ashley rubbed the top of his head as a silent ‘thank you’. She knew he was being truthful and she appreciated his promise of being there for her. She also petted her owl before glancing back out the window. Noticing the phase of the moon, she realized that the full moon was drawing near. That realization led her to thinking about her Moony, which led to thinking about her Padfoot. She missed them so, so much. In that moment, she swore upon her magic that she was going to whatever it took to be with them again. The first step to that was to set Sirius free. Planning for that had been the last thing on her mind before she drifted off to sleep in the comfort of her bed.

Chapter Text

The resounding thud of something hitting the floor jostled Ashley out of her slumbering state. She had always been a light sleeper, especially so if she wasn’t that tired to begin with. She drowsily opened her eyes, blinking up at the ceiling, and turned to the direction where she heard the noise, grabbing her glasses from the nightstand in the process. Sitting up, a giggle left her as she took in the sight of her dorm mate, the unnamed brunette, sprawled on the floor in-between their beds, covered with duvet she had dragged down with her. Ashley really should have paid more attention to the sorting. How the hell is she still asleep?, she wondered. It must have hurt, falling off the bed like she did, but the girl was still dozing, quiet snores escaping her still form.

Ashley shook her head, amused, and searched for her wand. She found it under her pillow and retrieved it, careful not to wake her familiar who was resting on top of the pillow. Casting a quick Tempus, she realized that it was quite early to be awake. It was only 6:30 AM, exactly an hour before breakfast at the great hall began. Knowing there was no way she’d be able to go back to sleep, Ashley trudged to the bathroom to shower and change into her school robes. Safe to say, she took her sweet time taking a shower since she hadn’t had that kind of luxury when she was living with the Dursleys. When she was all done and dressed, her dorm mates were all still knocked out but Moko had already woken up.

Good morning, little one.” He greeted with his voice still bleary with sleep.

Good morning, Moko.” Ashley replied, sitting on the edge of the bed.

What’s on the agenda for today?

Hm… Nothing planned, for now. I don’t even have my schedule yet.

What about your godfather? How are you planning on getting him released from Azkaban?

If I have any hope of doing that, I need someone who has connections with the Ministry. Luckily, I do already know someone.

Ashley stood up and approached the trunk at the foot of her bed, kneeling down on the floor. Pushing the lid open, she found her various belongings inside, arranged neatly to appease her. She grabbed the necessary items to construct a letter and shut the trunk, placing parchment paper on top of the lid. Dipping the end of her quill in ink, she proceeded to write. Moko slithered over, still perched on top of the bed as he watched her with curious eyes. Despite her being unused to writing with a quill, she finished the letter within a few minutes. Satisfied with her work, she raised the parchment to let Moko read it.

Head Goblin Griphook,

If it is possible, I must ask for a favor. It pertains to the current incarcerated state of my godfather. I want to reopen his case. He should not have been sent to Azkaban, he wasn’t even given a proper trial. I have physical evidence proving his innocence regarding his supposed betrayal and murders. If there is any way you can help me, please write back immediately.

Ashley Potter

Moko hissed his approval at her idea to write to the Gringotts Head Goblin. If there was anyone that had the power to help his little one with her plans, it would be Griphook. Ashley smiled and folded the parchment into a small square to make it easier for her owl to carry. She then headed over to the owl cage beside her bed and unlatched it. She let her owl out, giving her a treat in the process, and handed the envelope over. The snowy owl, after being informed of whom the letter was meant for, hooted and gracefully flew out the open window. Ashley watched her for a moment before turning towards her familiar. She wasn’t going to wait for her owl to come back. Hedwig would know to go directly to the owlery with the rest of the messenger owls.

Now that that’s done, let’s head off to breakfast.” Moko urged.

Are you sure you want to come with me? Won’t you find it a bit boring to be under my sleeve all day?

I promised I’d always be there for you, didn’t I, little one? It’s certainly better than being cooped up in this room with nothing to do.

Ashley let the snake slither up her arm, resuming his usual curled up position. She fixed her bed before walking out the room. However, halfway through the door, she decided to be a considerate human being and wake up her dorm mates so that they wouldn’t be late for breakfast. One by one, she sent each girl a tickling charm and stuffed her wand in her robe pocket. She announced that breakfast was in a few minutes or so and after hearing four muttered words of gratitude, she finally headed out of the room. Arriving in the common room, she spotted Neville standing in front of the fireplace.

“Good morning, Neville!”

“Oh! Good morning, Ashley.”

I’m here too, good morning.

“Ah!”

Damn it, knew I forgot something…

Ashley had forgotten to introduce Moko, who happened to be a snake, to Neville, who happened to be extremely jittery. Neville stared with frightful eyes at the serpent that had just emerged from her sleeve. In an attempt to calm him down, she hurriedly explained that Moko was her familiar in the same way she had done the last time the snake startled someone. It seemed to be becoming a habit for him. It was quite worrying for Ashley’s side of things. Neville, at least, looked significantly less terrified given the knowledge that Moko wasn’t going to attack him. Raising her arm towards Neville, Ashley encouraged him to pet the passive snake. He did, hesitantly so, and she witnessed the moment he warmed up to Moko. Neville pulled his hand back with a soft smile as Moko slithered back out from view. The shy Gryffindor linked arms with Ashley and left the common room together.

Right before they entered through the large doors of the great hall, Alyssa joined them, looking as smug as could be. Glancing over the ginger’s shoulder, Ashley snickered as she saw the glare of a fuming Draco aimed at the back of her best friend’s head. She raised an inquiring eyebrow at Alyssa who shrugged nonchalantly and turned towards the doors. Ashley rolled her eyes in amusement and trailed after the Slytherin, pulling Neville with her.

The great hall, so unlike the night before, was much less crowded. The students were scattered far in-between their respective tables. Most were probably still stuck in dream land. With last night’s excitement, Ashley wasn’t at all surprised. She dutifully ignored the stares sent her way, especially those she gained when she and her friends approached the Hufflepuff table. As much as she hated it, she was slowly getting used to the attention she naturally attracted. Mitchelle, who was already seated beside Cedric at one end of the table, happily let her and Alyssa sit down despite the wide-eyed gazes of her fellow badgers. With little to no hesitation, Neville chose to go along with it all. He was seated on the other side of Mitchelle with Ashley and Alyssa across from him. What better way to display House unity, right?

Mitchelle introduced the trio to Cedric who flashed a charming smile. Ashley pretended she didn’t notice the little space left between them but she did share a knowing look with Alyssa. The five of them, including Cedric, discussed all things Hogwarts. The older Hufflepuff recounted his memories of his first year and Merlin, Mitchelle was acting like a lovesick puppy. She kept giggling and it wasn’t like Ashley wasn’t happy for her, she was, but it was just so unusual. Nevertheless, the Potter Heiress kept her thoughts to herself. It was a nice change; she’d learn to accept it and just go with the flow.

Upon surveying the other tables, she couldn’t help but smile as she took note of some of the students sitting with others who weren’t in their Houses. They were few but she wasn’t worried, the rest would follow suit eventually. Screw Dumbledore’s hidden agenda against the other Houses. Proper House unity was something to be integrated in all of the students. Ashley and her friends were going to make sure of it. Speaking of friends, just before the feast began, Ai and the fellow blonde she had been conversing with the night before approached them. Ashley and Alyssa moved over, leaving enough space for the two Ravenclaws. Chocnut was missing so Ashley assumed he had been left back at the eagles’ dorm.

The unknown blonde had her hair cropped short with bangs hanging over her eyes. Her hair was similarly styled to how Harry’s was in first year, though it wasn’t at all messy. Her ocean blue eyes were bright with excitement, her full cheeks dusted with light freckles. She had aristocratic features, but not enough to make her seem a pure-blooded witch. A half-blood, Ashley guessed. Ai introduced the girl as Cora Hampton. Cora was nice enough, if not a bit energetic, but that was fine. She fit in quite well with the steadily expanding group.

It was definitely a sight; two Ravenclaws, two Gryffindors, and one Slytherin mingling with the Hufflepuffs. As Ashley had observed before, most of the other students were fine with it despite the initial shock it had caused. The teachers seemed proud even, all the way over at their table. However, there were a select few who were making their disdain obvious to those around them. Ashley would mention the Weasley twins but they weren’t exactly upset with given the situation. If anything, they were pouting about the fact that she wasn’t seated with them. A perfect example would be one Draco Lucius Malfoy. The boy had leveled a scowl on his face as he ranted to his friends, namely Blaise and Pansy. The thing was, his eyes were solely focused on Alyssa. There was something between them, there had to be. Ashley had to know, but before she could ask, breakfast appeared on each table.

Despite how curious she was, she forced herself to keep quiet for the time being and ate as much as her malnourished body was able to digest. She’d just have to ask before the first class of the day, whichever that was. Moko’s hunger wasn’t an issue yet since he had already had his fill before the train ride and being a big species of snake, though it didn’t currently show, he only had to eat once a week unless he felt like snacking. She was halfway through swallowing her third bite of bacon when she saw her Head of House, Professor McGonagall, walking towards her and Neville. Swallowing, she accepted the parchment given to her just as Neville did with his. Realizing that it was her schedule, her eyes quickly skimmed over the contents.


GRYFFINDOR FIRST YEAR SCHEDULE

TIME

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

9:00-10:30

Potions (S)

Charms (R)

Transfiguration (R)

DADA (S)

~

10:30-10:45

BREAK

BREAK

BREAK

BREAK

BREAK

10:45-11:30

Herbology (H)

DADA (S)

History of Magic (H)

Potions (S)

~

11:30-1:00

~

Herbology (H)

~

History of Magic (H)

~

1:00-2:00

LUNCH

LUNCH

LUNCH

LUNCH

LUNCH

2:00-2:45

Charms (R)

~

~

Flying (S)

~

2:45-3:30

Transfig.

(R)

~

~

Flying (S)

~

3:30-4:15

~

Astronomy (H)

~

~

~

4:15-6:15

DINNER

DINNER

DINNER

DINNER

DINNER

7:45-8:30

~

~

~

~

Astronomy (H)


Potions first, huh? This is definitely gonna be interesting…

“Curfew is at 10:00. There will be consequences for those who are caught after curfew.” McGonagall informed, “Please do refrain from being as troublesome as your father once was, Ms. Potter.”

“I’ll try not to, Professor.” Ashley promised, wearing her best ‘I’m an innocent angel, I swear’ look.

She had to fight back a smile when she heard Alyssa mutter under her breath, something about being the least innocent person at the table. Ashley couldn’t help but agree, especially since the plans she had in mind were far from being morally good. She continued on eating and chatting with her friends until breakfast was over. Seeing as they still had to gather the things they needed for the day from their dorms, she and Neville excused themselves from the group. They couldn’t afford to be late to Potions, especially on their first day. Ashley doubted Snape would appreciate that very much.

She and Neville rushed to the Gryffindor tower, alongside the other students. They relayed the password to the lady in the portrait, opening the doorway to the common room, and split up to go to their respective dorms. Ashley retrieved her new satchel from her trunk and quickly packed her necessities. After making sure she had everything she needed, she nodded to herself and walked back out into the common room, meeting up with Neville on the way. They were just a few steps away from the entrance when a voice called out to them.

“Hey, wait!”

They weren’t given the chance to stop and turn around. The girl who had spoken up easily matched their brisk pace of walking. It was her, the only dorm mate Ashley didn’t know, the one who had comically fallen off her bed earlier in the morning. The girl’s shoulder-length dark hair fell into unruly waves, framing her tired blue eyes. She had pale skin paired with a natural pink tint to her cheeks. If Ashley was going to be brutally honest, she’d say that the girl had just woken up. Nevertheless, the stranger was still a beauty.

“Hey, thanks for waking me up earlier. I wouldn’t have gotten up otherwise.”

“No problem.”

“It’s Elizabeth, right? And, you’re Neville?”

“That’s right, but I prefer my middle name, Ashley.”

“Nice to meet you…?”

“Maia, Maia Watson. Hey, do you actually know where we’re going?”

“I don’t. Ashley’s leading the way.”

“How do you know where the Potions classroom is? Were you given a map?”

“No, I have magical intuition.” Ashley joked, “Come on, we can’t be late and lose points on the first day.”

With at least five minutes to spare, they reached the Potions classroom where they found Alyssa standing outside the door. After a quick introduction between her and Maia, the four of them entered the classroom and found their seats right at the front. From right to left sat Maia, Neville, Ashley, and Alyssa. Deny as she might, Ashley knew Alyssa purposely sat beside Draco who turned strawberry red in her presence. The ginger really couldn’t be more obvious with how much she liked provoking Draco, and how much she liked Draco in general. Draco, the proud git, would most likely forever reject the notion that he felt just as attracted to her. Ashley’s teasing comment was cut off by the door slamming open. Snape strode in, addressing the whole class immediately.

“There will be no foolish wand waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don’t expect many of you to enjoy the subtle science and exact art that is potion making. However, for those select few who possess the predisposition, I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the sense. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper to death. Although, I highly doubt most of you will be competent enough for such a task.”

Snape’s cold gaze traveled around the room until it landed on Ashley who knew better than to not pay attention. She did not want to end up as dreadfully embarrassed as Harry was during his first Potions class. She was fully prepared for the professor’s incoming onslaught of questions. She already knew the answers by heart.

“Ms. Potter, our new celebrity. Tell me, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

“Asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion known as the Draught of Living Death, sir.”

Ashley held back her smirk at the shock that momentarily broke through Snape’s admittedly intimidating facade. He had not expected the spawn of James Potter (however begrudgingly knowledgeable he was) to actually be able to answer but he had to remember that she was also Lily’s child. Setting aside the glasses and similar hair color, the girl held little to no resemblance to her father. She was mostly all Lily, and that made it hard for Snape to despise her. Ashley certainly didn’t act like the spoiled brat he presumed she had been raised to be. Based from his observation, she was just as kind as her mother, and now, he knew that she was just as intelligent, too. There was also the curious fact that he wasn’t able to read her. Her mind was closed off, impossible to penetrate, as if there was a shield around it.

“…And where, Ms. Potter, would you look if I asked you to find me a bezoar?”

“In the stomach of a goat, Professor.”

“And what is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?”

“They’re the same plant, which also goes by the name aconite, Professor.”

“Hm… Well? Why aren’t you all copying this down? And Gryffindors; note that five points will be added to your House for each question your classmate had answered correctly.”

The silence that enveloped the classroom was highly amusing. Ashley seldom aimed to impress, but it definitely was a good feeling when she did. She sent a subtle smirk at Draco who looked just about ready to blow a fuse, along with the majority of the Slytherins except for Alyssa and the raven-haired girl sitting directly behind her. Ashley had a great advantage with answering Snape’s questions, that was true, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying the astonished whispers she heard from her House mates. Thanking Neville for his congratulatory compliment, she turned back towards the front of the class just as Snape stood from his desk to start the first lesson. She was going to make sure she’d gain more points from the strict professor for her House. Winning the House Cup wasn’t at the top of her list of priorities, but it certainly didn’t hurt to help her fellow lions win. Although she was pretty sure Dumbledore would let them win either way.

The rest of the class went by smoothly. Ashley didn’t get the chance to earn more points, but that was fine. There were plenty of opportunities for that within the school year. Speaking of opportunities, Ashley believed that it was time to interrogate Alyssa regarding a certain blond pure-blood. She did not miss the tension between the two Slytherins since they had spent most of their time, dare she say, flirting with each other through snide remarks and flimsy insults. Merlin, it was only the first day. How, exactly, was Ashley going to able to endure that kind of torture for the rest of the term?

As soon as they were out the door, she seized Alyssa’s wrist and pulled her towards the end of the corridor, uttering a quick ‘I’ll see you later’ to Neville and Maia in the process. Ashley dragged the stunned Slytherin around the corner, into an empty corridor, and pulled her down onto a bench. Folding her hands in her lap, Ashley raised her eyebrows expectantly while Alyssa furrowed her own. Moko, somehow sensing the upcoming confrontation, slipped out and settled around Ashley’s hands to spectate.

“So?”

“So…?”

“What’s up with you and Draco?”

“…I have no idea.”

“Really?” Ashley scoffed, “You like him; he seems to like you back… What are you so confused about?”

“Well…”

“Well, what? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t really know if there’s something wrong…”

“You’re not making much sense, you know that?”

“What happened before the Sorting Ceremony didn’t make much sense either!”

“What do you mean?”

“Ash... Draco’s eyes, I swear they turned purple for a moment.”

Purple? Ashley thought quizzically as her curiosity caused her to lean forward. She needed a second to process it. That never happened, in both the books and the films. Ashley was pretty sure Draco didn’t have any Metamorphmagus blood in him. Even Moko perked up at the given information. Ashley couldn’t blame him. As far as she knew, purple eyes weren’t a normal thing in any universe.

“His eyes turned purple? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I thought I was seeing things at first but…I feel different. It’s like…I’m almost drawn to him, in a sense. I’m not gonna lie, it’s freaking me out a bit.”

“Huh… Well, I can’t explain what you saw so, I think a visit to the library is in order.”

Agreeing to use their free period before lunch to search for an answer, the two girls went their separate ways to their respective classes. Ashley had to rush outside to the castle grounds where Herbology was to take place in one of the greenhouses. When she arrived, Neville and Maia were waiting for her inside and since they shared the class with the Hufflepuffs, Mitchelle had already claimed two empty tables adjacent to each other. Ashley chose to sit beside her while her two companions occupied the other table. She had just began informing Mitchelle about Alyssa’s predicament when Professor Sprout appeared. And so, they postponed their chat.

This is going to be a long day, but definitely an interesting one.

Chapter Text

The trip to the library turned out to be utterly useless. There wasn’t a single book that mentioned changing eye colors that weren’t about Metamorphmagi. The answers Ashley, Alyssa, and Mitchelle (who had professed that she, too, had seen Cedric’s eyes turn purple) were seeking could have most likely been in the Restricted Section but they couldn’t have just waltzed in there. Not without the invisibility cloak which Ashley was waiting to reclaim. It was a family heirloom that Dumbledore had no right, whatsoever, to hold. She knew she had to think of something to trick the old coot into giving the cloak much earlier. She was not going to wait until Christmas holidays. She had things to accomplish.

Then, there were lunch’s events. The gang, currently consisting of Ashley, Alyssa, Mitchelle, Ai, Neville, Cora, and Maia, had an agreement to sit with the Hufflepuffs until the rest of the students got along with the program. After discretely saving Seamus from the inevitable failure of the spell he was attempting to cast, Ashley received a reply from Griphook as the owls brought in the mail. She was quite ecstatic when she read the contents of the goblin’s letter.

Heiress Potter,

With the limited time we had during your first visit, we barely discussed all we needed to. I suggest that you visit once again. With my recent investigations involving Albus Dumbledore, I would like you to know that I have discovered important information regarding monthly withdrawals with Vault 687. This is not a conversation that should be had over a letter. This also applied with the conversation about your godfather’s case.

I have already brought up his lack of trial with the Ministry and they are willing to cooperate. However, arranging his trial will take some time. I suggest you obtain the evidence you spoke of and bring it in sooner rather than later. It would certainly help with speeding up the process of setting the date for his trial.

Business aside, if you would like, we could also continue our interrupted conversation about the process of soul bonding and what it means to have a soul-bonded mate. The fact that you have two mates is quite interesting. There is also the matter of your creature inheritance and what it would mean for you when you reach the age for it to manifest.

Griphook

Well, that was fast…

Ashley honestly hadn’t expected a reply until further that week, maybe the next day, but she wasn’t complaining, not at all. The faster the trial was set, the faster Sirius would be set free, and the faster she would be reunited with him and Remus. Thankfully, Hedwig was the one to deliver the letter instead of a Gringotts owl. That would have made Dumbledore suspicious. Ashley’s plans were coming together, slowly but surely. Having an infinite amount of patience was a definite key to all this. The Potter Heiress was willing to wait, despite the fact that she had never been the most patient of people.

Included in the delivered mail was a letter from Molly and Arthur Weasley, addressed to none other than Alyssa. Ashley couldn’t remember a time where the ginger had looked as anxious as she did when she opened her letter. One fear Alyssa had mentioned she had was that her parents would be upset and/or disappointed that she was sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor like her other siblings. Her worrying was obviously unnecessary since Molly and Arthur were nothing less than supportive. They even mentioned Ashley, gushing about how proud they were of the two girls. Speaking of being proud, Neville also received a short letter alongside his Remembrall from his grandmother, congratulating him for entering the lion’s den. He was beaming so brightly after that. He was just too precious.

Ashley didn’t bother to read the newspaper, she was perfectly aware of the attempted break in at Gringotts, but there was another thing that happened during lunch. A girl, a first year Slytherin, the same one who Ashley had noticed during Potions, approached the Hufflepuff table, much to the surprise of her fellow snakes. The stranger’s jet black hair, tightly pulled up into a high ponytail, and her piercing grey eyes reminded Ashley of a certain Animagus who bore similar features. The only visible difference between them was the girl’s darker complexion. The girl, after plopping down on the empty seat to Ashley’s left, introduced herself as Thalia Scott. She didn’t have to reveal that she was a pure-blood. It was written all over her face, which made her table-switching all the more shocking. When asked why she decided to sit with the group, she blatantly answered that they seemed to be much better company than her House mates. Draco, who was close enough to eavesdrop with just a little effort, had such an affronted look on his face after hearing that.

Charms and Transfiguration with the Ravenclaws were interesting enough despite the fact that both classes were filled with lectures. After more than a few instances ranging between subtle glances and outright staring, Ashley learned that Ai had developed a bit of a crush on a half-blood Gryffindor boy, one of the first to be sorted, named Dominic David. He was quite tall for his age, standing a good few inches higher than the rest of the first year students who were generally all around the same height. He had naturally-windswept, dark brown hair paired with equally dark brown eyes and sun-kissed skin. What made it all the more interesting was his quiet confession right before dinner. He approached Ashley with the mission of getting to know more about Ai. Apparently, the attraction between him and Ai was very much requited and Ashley had some more matchmaking to do.

After that revelation, Ashley thought it best to give them time to hang out with each other, alone preferably. So, she told them that she needed help researching for a certain topic. She invited Alyssa and Mitchelle along because a conference between her and the two people who had experienced the same strange phenomenon was a definite must. The discussion was held in a secluded area near the back of the library after ditching Ai and Dominic with the given excuse of seeking more books.

The Golden Trio began theorizing, thinking up all of the plausible explanations but they came up short of ideas. The little information they had wasn’t enough. They couldn’t ask any of the professors because that would inevitably lead to a meddling headmaster, which none of them wanted. The Restricted Section would have been such a gift at that time. Ashley decided to take the free time she had to write a reply to Griphook’s earlier letter. Alyssa stayed with her to read ahead on Potions, while Mitchelle disappeared off to Merlin-knows-where (probably to wherever Cedric was).

Head Goblin Griphook,

You are right, we still have much to discuss. I have the strange feeling that I may already have a guess as to what has been happening to my vault. I also think that this may not be the first time he has done this to an unknowing party. I shall explain further when we meet.

Regarding my godfather’s case, the evidence proving his innocence is already in my possession. I can hand it over as soon as you want me to. Perhaps on Friday since my only class for that day won’t be until after dinner. We only need to figure out how I’m supposed to sneak out of the castle. It isn’t likely but if anyone was to ask for me, my friends would no doubt cover for me so that would be one less thing to worry about.

And yes, I would like to continue our conversation about soul-bonding. I’m afraid I only have a vague idea of what it implies, along with my creature inheritance.

I sincerely thank you for your help.

Ashley Potter

Eventually, time drew closer to curfew and the girls had to go back to their respective dormitories to avoid detention. Ashley had to stop at the owlery first to see Hedwig, Eunice (Mitchelle’s barn owl) and Zafira (Alyssa’s screech owl). It was supposed to be a long journey that the Potter Heiress was sure she would manage to make before curfew but then, she didn’t have to. As she rounded a corner, the wall to her left suddenly shifted and on it appeared a simple wooden door. Feeling her pause in her steps, Moko stuck his head out to watch. Cautiously curious, she swung it open and was pleasantly surprised by what it revealed. The door led right inside the owlery. Ashley briefly wondered how that was possible before she sensed the magic that was Hogwarts. She let her own magic loose for a moment as a sign of gratitude towards the sentient castle and entered through the doorway. After sending Hedwig off, she used the same shortcut to travel back to the castle.

Arriving at the mostly deserted Gryffindor common room, she ran into her favorite redhead twins. She didn’t acknowledge the rolled-up piece of parchment George clutched in his hand despite knowing what it was. The Marauder’s Map, an item that was surely supposed to be another family heirloom if it hadn’t been confiscated by Filch in her father’s seventh and last year. However, she didn’t have any use for it at the moment. She’d let the twins have it for now; they’d earned it as the current kings of mischief at Hogwarts. She couldn’t wait for them to meet Remus and Sirius.

“Good evening, little raven. Where have you been?” Fred inquired, casually throwing an arm over her shoulder.

“The library, where are you two off to?” Ashley asked in return.

“The kitchens, whatever you do…” George trailed off.

“Don’t drink the orange juice.” The twins simultaneously warned.

Ashley watched them leave snickering and in a haste, most likely about to execute the first prank of the school year. That was something to look forward to the next day. Ashley headed up to her dorm, the moonlight peeking through the windows illuminating the sleeping figures of her dorm mates. She changed out of her school robes and placed Moko on her pillow before lying down herself, drifting off to sleep within a minute.

During breakfast the next day, she learned exactly what the twins’ first prank was. She finally understood their warning about the orange juice. It had been dosed with something that made each student’s hair turn an obnoxious color after they drank it. It was a good thing that Ashley, being the great friend that she was, had passed the twins’ warning off to her circle of friends, including Cedric. They all deduced that hot pink was not a good color for Draco.

Now that Ashley had her schedule, she didn’t need to run back to her dorm to pack her things. And so, she spent extra time simply hanging out with her friends until it was time for first period with the Ravenclaws. Walking down the corridor as a group with Ai, Cora, Maia, and Neville, Ashley fell quiet as she heard a loud voice speaking from around the corner. She excused herself from the group and took a peek at the source of the noise.

“Ha, pathetic Mudblood!”

There were a still pink-haired Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle, bullying a hunched in girl Ashley recognized as Heaven Harrison from the Sorting. Heaven’s black hair, styled in a pixie cut, couldn’t be used to hide her face and the tears in her hazel eyes like she desperately seemed to want to. Ashley had looked just in time to see Draco slap the books out of the trembling girl’s hands. Narrowing her eyes, the Potter Heiress came up with a plan that Moko was more than happy to help with.

Engorgio.”

She watched her beloved familiar grow right in front of her, back to his original size. Mischief bright within his eyes, he slithered out into the corridor. His purposely loud hissing attracted the attention of the Slytherins. Ashley muffled her laughter as she heard the screams of terror, Draco’s high-pitched screech amusing her to no end. She was never going to let him live that down. Glancing out from behind the wall, she saw him and his goons run away as Heaven backed up against the wall, staring wide-eyed at Moko.

Ashley was quick to walk up to the snake, turning him back to his miniature state, much to his obvious displeasure. He slithered back into her sleeve at her advice to calm a shocked Heaven. Ashley gathered the books on the floor one by one and handed it over to the Ravenclaw who seemed to be slowly assessing the bizarre situation. After all, it wasn’t everyday that you saw a gigantic snake chase away your bullies for you.

“Uh… Thank you, but you didn’t have to do that.”

“I know, but Malfoy has no right to be an outright git to anyone. Being a pure-blood doesn’t justify any of his actions.”

“Thank you, Elizabeth.”

“Call me Ashley, and you’re welcome. Let’s head to Charms.”

Ashley happily introduced her new acquaintance to her friends during the short break before second period, retelling how they met in the process. No one had enjoyed the story as much as Alyssa who had been rolling on the floor laughing. Exactly like the day before, each class had been filled with lectures. Astronomy before dinner would have been fun if Ashley had gotten to actually see the stars and constellations they were learning about in the night sky. Unfortunately, that bit wasn’t until Friday where the class was held an hour and a half after dinner. A highlight of the day for Ashley would have been the first Defense with the Slytherins. She, along with Alyssa, did her best to speak with the possessed professor as much as possible without being suspicious and Quirrell couldn’t have looked anymore uncomfortable, not to mention confused. It was an added bonus that the girls earned House points for themselves.

The rest of the day was uneventful but Ashley did receive a reply from Griphook, informing her that he would send a portkey for her on Friday. That was something to look forward to. The next day, an interesting meeting with an interesting individual took place. It was after their History of Magic class and Ashley, Alyssa, and Mitchelle decided to spend time together with just the three of them. They brought along their Transfiguration books, transfiguring the only kind of magic they weren’t practiced in, and were determined to learn the subject by themselves. They wanted to be outside amongst nature to be able to see the beautiful scenery of the school grounds and so, they chose to stay by the large beech tree on one of the banks of the Black Lake. It wasn’t a famous spot for the other students, but it was for them. It was there that the Marauders, specifically James and Sirius, bullied Snape which caused him to badly damage his friendship with Lily due to his embarrassment. That hadn’t been a good event but it was a memorable one nonetheless.

The girls were sure that they’d be alone but as they approached the tree, they soon realized that they weren’t. A bizarre situation was presented to them when they saw someone actually swimming in the lake. It was a girl with short light brown hair, her bangs sticking to her forehead, and green eyes that were several shades different from Ashley’s. The girl was a Hufflepuff based on the robe discarded on the ground and she wasn’t at all fazed by the merpeople circling her. She seemed fine; she was smiling and conversing with the creatures. Her eyes drifted towards the speechless girls standing underneath the beech tree and waved as if what she was doing was a normal thing. And for her, maybe it was.

Ashley reluctantly waved back and nudged the others to do the same. The unknown Hufflepuff excused herself from the creatures, swimming back to the shallows and out of the lake. She stood in front of the girls, dripping wet and carrying her robe and wand. Ashley pulled out her own wand, offering to dry her off with a spell. The girl agreed and, once she was dry, introduced herself as Alexandra Renane. Ashley then remembered her sitting at the Hufflepuff table, usually at the other end with who she assumed were the girl’s two older brothers.

Before the three girls could ask Alexandra if she wanted to join their little study session, she informed them that she was heading back to the castle to read at the library. The Golden Trio watched her walk away from them and shrugged off the encounter. They sat side by side against the trunk of the tree, finding comfort in the shade it provided. Together, they began reading through the books while Moko relaxed on Ashley’s lap. Within a few minutes, the trio felt confident enough to attempt different spells on the spoons they carried in their pockets. They had to succeed; Ashley still had to transfigure every single piece of clothing she owned. She still didn’t own much but she would manage until Sirius and Remus undoubtedly began spoiling her in their care. Fortunately, the trio did succeed. They turned their spoons into different objects such as goblets and books among other things.

Back at her dormitory, Ashley gathered her clothes from her trunk and threw them all on her bed, removing and placing her glasses on top of the pile. Maia, who was sitting on her own bed, watched her curiously as she brought out her wand. Ashley waved her wand over the pile of clothes, the style she wanted vivid in her mind, and one by one, the clothes began to change. By the end of it, all of her clothes were transfigured into comfortably fashionable items that were actually her size. Maia clapped enthusiastically for her and urged her to play a game of Exploding Snap. Although having never played, Ashley willingly agreed since she knew the rules well enough. She ended up winning but Maia claimed it to be the result of beginner’s luck.

Now, Thursday was a day of excitement. It was the day of the first ever Flying class and the first years were all ecstatic. However, none felt as strongly as Ashley and Alyssa who had dreamt for years to be given the chance to fly on a broom. Mitchelle was left pouting since she wanted to fly as well but the Hufflepuffs’ Flying class wasn’t until the next day. Moko, who preferred to keep his body on the ground, chose to stay back at the dorm. And so, Ashley stood lined up outside alongside her fellow Gryffindors with the Slytherins in front of them. Maia and Neville flanked both her sides with Dominic, who Ashley had officially welcomed into their group, standing beside Neville.

“Good afternoon, class.” Madam Hooch greeted, walking down the line.

“Good afternoon, Madam Hooch.” The whole class instantly replied.

“Welcome to your first flying lesson. Well, what are you waiting for? Everyone step up to the left side of their broomstick. Come on now, hurry up. Stick your right hand over the broom and say up!” Hooch commanded.

There were various exclamations of ‘up’ from all the students. Most had difficulty summoning their broom properly, most especially Neville. Ashley and Alyssa, who already had their brooms in their hands, immediately went to help him. Ashley, in the corner of her eye, saw the dark look Draco sent their way. She wondered briefly that he was irritated about the fact that he wasn’t the only one who had succeeded on the first try but then, she noticed that his glare was trained specifically on Neville and Alyssa. Ashley smirked internally at the blond’s obvious jealousy. Once everyone finally had their brooms, Hooch gave the next instructions.

“Now, once you’ve got hold of your broom, I want you to mount it. And grip it tight, you don’t want to be sliding off the end. When I blow my whistle, I want each of you to kick off from the ground, hard. Keep your broom steady, hover for a moment, and then lean forward slightly and touch back down. On my whistle, three…two…”

Hooch blew the whistle to signal the whole class. Ashley and Alyssa kicked off the ground at the same time, successfully hovering above the ground. Alyssa smirked triumphantly, eyes drifting from a laughing Ashley to a proud Draco. Ashley averted her eyes with a smile and chose not to say anything, instead grabbing onto Neville’s broom to keep it from going higher. Reciprocating his grateful smile, she lowered her broom to the ground and held his hand as he did as well. When everyone was back on the ground, Madam Hooch opened her mouth to presumably congratulate the whole class but a seventh year Ravenclaw cut her off. The Ravenclaw whispered something to her and she nodded, turning back to the class.

“Class, I will be right back. Everyone’s to keep their feet firmly on the ground while I am gone, understood? If I see a single broom in the air, the one riding it will find themselves out of Hogwarts before they can say ‘Quidditch’.” Hooch threatened before following the Ravenclaw back inside the castle.

The moment she was gone, the class erupted into loud chattering. Ashley made her own circle with her friends as they congratulated each other. She paused mid-sentence when she noticed how Neville seemed to be panicking as he checked his pockets. His Remembrall was missing. Ashley reasoned that it must have slipped out while he was flying, knowing the scene that came next and who would find the Remembrall.

“Dropped something, Longbottom?” Draco called out, holding the missing item in his hand.

“Hey, give that back!” Neville immediately exclaimed.

“No.” Draco snickered, throwing the glass ball up in the air and catching it.

“Give it here, Malfoy.” Ashley demanded, stepping forward with Alyssa beside her.

“No, I think I’ll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to retrieve. How ‘bout up on the roof?” Draco mounted his broom, lifting up several feet above the ground.

“What’s the matter, Potter? Bit beyond your reach?” He taunted.

Ashley scoffed and wordlessly mounted her own broom, Alyssa following without being asked to. A worried Neville attempted to stop them but they reassured him that they would be fine. They then leveled themselves with the smirking Draco.

“You’re a bloody git, Malfoy. Give that back before I knock you off your broom.” Ashley threatened.

“Is that so? Have it your way then!”

Draco turned and threw the ball far behind him, hurtling it towards the window of the tower Ashley knew McGonagall was working in. Ashley quickly chased after it, accidentally bumping against Draco in the process. She heard his yell as he fell off his broom but she was focused on the Remembrall. She zoomed towards it, catching it right before it hit the window. She didn’t dare look inside, acting oblivious to the shocked professor staring at her, and flew back the way she came. Before landing, she chuckled when she saw Draco hanging on to Alyssa who obviously caught him as he fell.

Look who’s the damsel in distress, how embarrassing for him.

Ashley and Alyssa landed simultaneously, the cheering class surrounding them as they did so. Draco was quick to jump away and crawl back to his group of friends. He was quite flustered, the redness of his face the subject of joking from Blaise and Pansy. The Gryffindors and, surprisingly, some of the Slytherins congratulated Ashley and Alyssa for a job well done. However, the ruckus died down when a stern voice called out.

“Elizabeth Potter? Follow me.” McGonagall said with her facial expression blank.

“Weasley, come with me.” Snape ordered, standing beside the Transfiguration professor.

Ashley and Alyssa ignored the smug faces Draco and his goons sent them. They had no idea that Ashley was about to be appointed as the Gryffindor Seeker without any prior training on her part, and Alyssa was surely bound to be given the same treatment. However, with the same position? They didn’t know.

Their clueless friends were worried, including the usually nonchalant Thalia. The two girls were quick to reassure the group, especially the guilty-looking Neville, and approached their respective Heads of House. Ashley waved slightly at Alyssa before following McGonagall to the Defense classroom where Quirrell was teaching the fourth year Gryffindors and Slytherins. Ashley was told to wait until the current captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, Oliver Wood, was excused from the class.

“Potter, this is Oliver Wood. Wood, I have found you a Seeker!”

Albeit a little shocked, Oliver trusted McGonagall’s judgment when she retold Ashley’s astonishing catching of Neville’s Remembrall. Ashley was then informed that she would be the youngest Seeker of the century, a title she was quite proud to hold, and that training was during the weekends. After that, since Flying class was already over, she met up with Alyssa who claimed she was given a Chaser position on the Slytherin Quidditch team. Walking through the crowded corridor, they weren’t at all surprised when Fred and George suddenly appeared beside them.

“Hello, little ones. Well done! Wood’s just told us about our new Seeker, and we overheard a few Slytherins talking about their new Chaser!” Fred congratulated, throwing his arm over Ashley’s shoulder.

“As much as we’d like to, we can’t make any promises that you won’t get bloodied up too bad. Rough game, Quidditch.” George mused, wrapping his own arm around Ashley’s waist.

Ashley giggled at the way Alyssa gagged in mock disgust at the display of casual affection from her older brothers towards her best friend.

“Brutal,” Fred agreed, “but we’ll protect you, little raven. Though I doubt you’ll need us that much. You’re quite talented. Right, Georgie?”

“Fred, I have a name, you know.” Ashley half-heartedly reprimanded.

“Right indeed, Freddie. We know you’ll have no problem catching the Golden Snitch.” George said, ignoring her comment.

She outright laughed just then, lightly hitting the twins in their stomachs. They removed their arms as she and Alyssa went to stray away towards the courtyard, Mitchelle joining them somewhere along the way.

“We’ll see you later, little raven!” The twins called out.

Looking over her shoulder, Ashley waved at them before continuing to walk alongside her two best friends. They chatted amongst each other, Mitchelle congratulating Ashley and Alyssa for making the team like they had wanted to. As much as she loved flying, Mitchelle wasn’t one for putting herself in danger like that. She’d much rather stay on the stands and cheer, which she was going to do during the actual games. The trio eventually passed through the corridor with the trophy case and stopped to admire the plaque that listed James Potter as a star Chaser. Ashley hoped internally that, wherever they were, her parents were proud of her and the things she’d achieved recently.

The girls proceeded to the grand staircase tower, all knowing the next event that was fated to happen. They climbed up on the stairs that pulled in, clutching on to the railings and preparing themselves for the inevitable move. Once the staircase stopped, they up and entered the forbidden third floor corridor. Not wanting to chance an encounter with Mrs. Norris, they hurried through the dark corridor, torches lighting up one by one as they passed by, and reached the door containing Fluffy the three-headed dog. Whipping out her wand, Ashley hesitated to open the locked door.

“Ready?” She asked without turning around.

“Ready.” Alyssa and Mitchelle answered, sounding just as nervous as she felt.

“Alright,” Ashley gulped, “Alohomora.”

Oh, Merlin, I hope this works. I am not dying tonight.

The girls rushed inside the unlocked room, silently shutting the door behind them. They held their breaths as they leaned their backs against the door and faced the gigantic sleeping sentinel. They waited for Filch’s voice and Mrs. Norris’ meowing to cease before continuing on with their plan to befriend Fluffy. The moment the three-headed dog began waking up and noticing their presence, Alyssa and Mitchelle nudged Ashley who stood between them, urging her to start singing. Deathly anxious, Ashley let her instincts take over and chose to sing Lily’s lullaby for her. She forced herself to calm down so that her voice held only serenity to soothe Fluffy into a sleepy state. Relief flooded her body, helping her relax further, when Fluffy’s eyes began to droop. She cautiously approached Fluffy, breathing out a sigh when he nudged her outstretched hand with his muzzle. Smiling, she gestured Alyssa and Mitchelle to stand on either side of her. At some point, Ashley had stopped singing but even then, Fluffy refused to show any more signs of hostility towards the three of them.

Mission accomplished, we’re still alive and breathing.

Chapter Text

At last, Friday finally arrived. The trip to Gringotts was eagerly awaited. Questions were to be answered, plans were to unfold. Dressed in school robes since it was still technically a school day, Ashley sat eating breakfast with her not-so-small circle of friends at the Hufflepuff table, as per usual. She was wedged in-between Mitchelle and Alyssa, the two girls both in their own worlds. Mitchelle was currently busy ogling Cedric who, unfortunately for her, sat a few ways down the table while Alyssa was having a glaring contest with one Draco Malfoy. Ashley assumed that was their way of romantically staring into each other’s eyes. They would make an odd yet very interesting couple; that was for sure.

They weren’t the only lovebirds surrounding Ashley. There were Dominic and Ai, seated parallel to Ashley, who would never admit to colluding with the others to make sure the two sat side by side. Having just officially met the day before during dinner, they already seemed like they’d known each other for far longer than they actually had. They were quite a pair. Balanced was the word Ashley would use to describe them. Dominic’s calm and down-to-earth nature evened out Ai’s typical hyperactivity and constant anxiety. Simply speaking, Dominic was yin to her yang. They were good for each other. If Ashley were to be honest, their budding relationship actually reminded her of Remus and Sirius.

Her thoughts suddenly drifted towards the strange happenings of the guys’ eyes flashing purple. Alyssa and Mitchelle professed to having had a weird feeling almost immediately after witnessing the strange phenomenon. Thinking it all over, the compatibility between those who experienced it, the frankly obvious attraction, was it some sort of specific bond? Maybe it was a bond that connected the people through their magic, even perhaps their souls? Like…

A soul bond, that’s it!

Ashley, herself, was soul bonded to Sirius and Remus, it had been written on her blood inheritance test. What exactly did that imply? Why was she bonded to two people? And only the girls seemed to be aware of the bond, so why was that? Ashley couldn’t say, because she didn’t know. Hopefully, Griphook would be able to enlighten her. He had mentioned that he carried information about soul bonds and was willing to share it. That made the trip to Gringotts all the while more worth the risk of getting caught sneaking out. Ashley now just had to wait for the portkey. Suffice to say, she didn’t have to wait for long.

After breakfast, she headed back to her dorm and was pleasantly surprised by a Gringotts owl delivering a weighted envelope. She gave the owl a treat before it left and tore the envelope open, finding a silver key smaller than the size of her palm. Feeling the magic surrounding the tiny object, she was sure that it was the portkey, a literal key in this case, that she had been waiting for. She placed the envelope on the bed and hurriedly changed out of her school robes. Now clad in casual clothing, she coupled it with a black cloak for when she went out to Diagon Alley after the meeting. She put the hood down and let Moko wrap his body around her neck while stuffing her wand in her pocket. Picking up the charmed box imprisoning the traitor of a rat named Pettigrew from her bed, she was ready to go.

She had already informed her friends that she had a little rendezvous scheduled for the day. Surprisingly, none of them were against it and had agreed to cover for her if anyone were to ask where she was. Dumbledore hadn’t bothered her the past few days so she figured that he wouldn’t bother looking for her but if he were to, her friends had been tasked to tell him that her scar was hurting and she decided to stay in bed. That was bound to get him off her back at least. He’d think that she was already on the trail of finding the Philosopher’s Stone, just like he wanted her to be. Maybe that’d even give him enough incentive to hand over the cloak back.

Preparing herself for what was sure to be an uncomfortable ride, Ashley took the key from the envelope. The feeling of using a portkey, of a hook latching on from somewhere behind her navel and abruptly pulling, was most definitely dizzying. She found herself sprawled on the floor of the Head Goblin’s office in Gringotts, head spinning and, thankfully, only slightly nauseated. Griphook stood from where he was seated behind his desk and approached her, extending a helping hand which she gladly took. Brushing down the front of her clothes, she seized the squeaking box from the floor and calmed the grumbling snake around her neck. In her defense, she had warned Moko that their way of traveling wouldn’t be a pleasant experience. He chose to come along with anyway.

“Would you like some tea? It will help with the aftereffects of the portkey.” Griphook offered, making his way back around his desk.

“I’d love some, thank you.” Ashley muttered gratefully, plopping herself down on a chair.

“It’s wonderful to see you again, Ashley.”

“Likewise, Griphook.”

“Well, onto business then. What do you wish to start with?”

“My godfather’s case.” Ashley immediately answered, “All the evidence we need is right here in this box.”

“And that would be?”

“Peter Pettigrew. This box has been charmed to prevent his escape though it is easy to counter.”

Ashley dropped the box on the table, causing the creature inside to let out a terrified squeal. Rolling her eyes, she ignored the Animagus in favor of addressing the confused look on Griphook’s face.

“He’s an unregistered rat Animagus. That’s how he got away the night Sirius went after him for betraying my parents because contrary to popular belief, he was my parents’ Secret Keeper, not Sirius.”

“And proving that he wasn’t killed that night shines doubt upon the rest of Mr. Black’s alleged crimes.”

“That’s right, and I’m sure Sirius wouldn’t mind taking Veritaserum to further determine his innocence.”

“The Ministry will find this very interesting, especially the Head of the DMLE. Ms. Amelia Bones, I’m sure you know of her, is aghast at the thought of a guiltless individual, someone she has worked with, having been forced to spend almost ten years in Azkaban. She has volunteered to personally oversee your godfather’s case.”

“That’s great, she’ll make sure Sirius gains his freedom back. That is, unless Dumbledore gets to her… I’m aware that he’s the Chief Warlock but is there any way he won’t find out about Sirius’ trial until the day of the event?”

“There may be. If there is any chance that he will intervene with the trial, Ms. Bones will surely wait until the last second to inform him.”

“Good.”

Relieved, Ashley leaned back in her chair and took a small sip of her tea. Once Dumbledore’s meddling was prevented, there would be no problems regarding her beloved grandfather’s freedom. Speaking of that particular subject, she needed to get in contact with Remus. She planned on sending him an anonymous letter to let him know about the upcoming trial. Anonymously, of course, since she figured he’d be under compulsion spells that made him loyal to Dumbledore just like, theoretically, the rest of the Order members. She couldn’t risk him tattling about her knowledge to the old coot. Getting that thought out of her head, she was reminded of something she had forgotten to ask during her first visit.

“Oh, Griphook, I have a question.”

“Ask away.”

“Is there something that’s similar to a Muggle credit card? It seems like such a hassle to have to always have to travel here whenever I need money.”

“There is, actually.”

Griphook snapped his fingers and summoned on the desk was a small drawstring pouch. Its fabric was a vibrant maroon with a singular golden Gringotts crest embroidered on it. The string was also a similar golden shade.

“Given your permission, this pouch will be charmed to be linked to the vault of your choice.” Griphook explained, “Think of the amount of money you need when you reach in and it shall appear. Those who will have access to this pouch will only be you and, unfortunately, your current guardian until you can be emancipated.”

That’s fine, I guess. Dumbledore hopefully won’t be my guardian for long. Sirius and Remus are bound to fight him for my custody. But with the compulsion spells on them…

Ashley nodded, choosing the Potter Trust Vault since it was the easiest to access and it contained more than enough Galleons than she would be able to spend for the whole entirety of her life. Griphook placed the necessary charms with a wave of his hand and handed the pouch over to her. She tucked it within her other pocket, the one not containing her wand. She untangled Moko from her neck, placing him on her lap, before she turned back to Griphook who opened his mouth to speak.

“Now that we’re on the topic of your accounts, I have deeply distressing news.”

“Let me guess… He’s stealing from me?”

“You already know.”

“I don’t, actually. I figured that was the worst case scenario… How much has he stolen?”

“He has taken 119,000 Galleons with the monthly withdrawals of a thousand Galleons ever since November of 1981. According to my investigations, they have been sent to your relatives, Petunia and Vernon Dursley. I, however, doubt he’s been doing this for your well-being since you don’t seem to be aware of this fact.”

“I’ve never received anything from my aunt and uncle. With all these revelations, I wouldn’t put it past Dumbledore to have paid them to treat me the way they did… Merlin, I wouldn’t put it past him to be stealing from other accounts! Have you checked other accounts aside from mine for any suspicious withdrawals?”

“No, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll be sure to. Now,-“

Griphook then continued on to entertain the rest of Ashley’s unanswered questions. Firstly, he discussed the easiest yet the most cryptic topic which was her creature inheritance. He explained that a creature inheritance was, indeed, a grand gift to receive, even more so the Night Fury creature inheritance. The Night Fury was an extinct dragon species, the only species that one could turn into, and a species so tremendously evasive that little to no information was gathered about them. This lack of information, unfortunately, also applied to the inheritance itself but Griphook helpfully stated that Ashley was bound to receive the inheritance once her magic matured.

The typical age for magical maturity was seventeen which is why it was deemed the general legal age for wizards and witches alike. However, there have been rare known cases where a wizard or witch reached magical maturity much earlier. Never mind how young they were, the peak of magical maturity would make them legal in the eyes of the Ministry. Thus, if Ashley were to receive her inheritance earlier than the age of seventeen, she was allowed to be emancipated right then and there. She had a likely chance since she was already showing signs of a powerful core and that usually meant that she would mature faster. Once emancipated, she would gain full power over her accounts and she would inherit the properties of her Houses. Apparently, her grandparents (on her father’s side, of course) had owned an island? She took note of that for future use; an island was a great place to lay low for a while.

The conversation then strayed towards the topic of soul bonds. Now, soul bonding was not a typical phenomenon for wizards and witches alike. Griphook compared this to the mating of creatures like werewolves and vampires. Those whose cores were powerful enough to bond with others were the only ones to experience this. A telltale sign of a soul bond was the sudden change in eye color. The eyes were intended to turn purple. This fact confirmed Ashley’s theory that her friends had soul bonds like she did. Her question about the obliviousness of the men was answered when Griphook mentioned that the ones to notice the changing eye color would be the more powerful person in the bond. Ashley’s case was special since she was bonded to two people. This apparently meant that her core was stronger than she realized.

Griphook also mentioned other facts about soul bonds. There were entirely platonic bonds but most ended up romantic since the Ministry counted a bond as a technical marriage. Age differences and the number of people participating in the relationship were not discriminated, especially by pure-blood families. A soul-bonded couple was protected by ancient laws, meaning that it was very much illegal to separate them against their will. This insinuated that Dumbledore had committed a heinous crime in blocking the bond between Ashley, Sirius, and Remus. Not to mention the illegality of his use of compulsion charms and the blocking of an individual’s core magic without the Ministry’s awareness, especially towards a child as young as Ashley was when the block was placed on her. She had to appease Moko’s anger and silence his threats to eat Dumbledore. There was also the old wizard’s complete and utter irresponsibility as her magical guardian. If that bit of information were to get out, that he left the Girl-Who-Lived to be emotionally and physically abused, he could lose all his ‘earned’ titles with just that.

Ashley realized that that was a great opportunity to begin wrecking Dumbledore’s carefully constructed reputation. She wasn’t going to file a case against him, even if she wanted him to lose his current standing in the Wizarding World. That would come later on when a better opportunity arose. He deserved far worse than rotting in Azkaban, worse than receiving the Dementor’s Kiss. Ashley had her own plans to make him suffer. She could only hope they all worked well in her favor. Now, she needed someone to spread all of Dumbledore’s dirty secrets, and she knew just who. Rita Skeeter, not exactly the most trusted, but she was quite popular. Her word would be enough to start the rumors and doubts. Ashley held just enough blackmail over the blonde to make her do whatever Ashley asked her to do.

Griphook ended their meeting with a promise to notify Ashley about the trial’s date once it was set. She thanked him for it, even though she wouldn’t be able to attend since Dumbledore was sure to be there as Chief Warlock. She could use a glamour but a stranger in the courtroom would be more than suspicious. She really couldn’t risk it. She’d have to wait until Sirius’ inevitable St. Mungo’s confinement to heal the damage of Azkaban. Bidding farewell with the traditional goblin greeting, Griphook gave her another portkey, this time a silver coin, which would take her back to her dormitory. Unlike the first one given to her, a specific time was set. She had exactly ten minutes to spare before it would activate. She hurried out of the office; waving and smiling at the goblins she passed by, especially Bragkar whom reciprocated once he recognized her.

Pausing at the entrance, she flicked her hood up and let Moko latch on to her arm, hiding him under her cloak. She didn’t want to attract the least bit of attention so, she cast a glamour over herself to appear taller and more like her original form in the past, concealing her glasses as well. She walked down the steps of the bank and onto the path of Diagon Alley. She briefly wondered what she could do with the spare time she had until she felt compelled to enter the Magical Menagerie.

Inside the shop, she was met with the sight of different kinds of different-sized cages and tanks containing various animals, both rare and common species. However, she was enthralled by two felines near the back of the store. One was a white tiger cub sleeping peacefully within its cage, and the other was a pure black cat who acted indifferent to its surroundings. Ashley found the perfect gifts for her best friends. They did say that they wanted familiars of their own and the Potter Heiress had a good feeling that the felines were going to be just that.

Levitating the cages behind her, she left the store in time for the portkey to activate. She then met the hard surface of her dormitory’s carpeted floor. Thankfully, the dizzy spell wasn’t as bad as the first time so she managed to recover faster. Sitting up, she sighed in relief when she saw the cages safely placed near her feet. The felines were obviously rattled by the travel but otherwise, they were physically fine. She retrieved them from their cages and deposited them on her bed, alongside her familiar. Per Moko’s request, she cast Engorgio on him, bringing him back to his original size. He coiled around the felines, like a mother would while protecting her young, and lulled them, and himself, to sleep. Smiling at the heartwarming sight, Ashley gathered the items she needed in order to write the letters meant for Remus and Rita.

Dear Remus,

You must be wondering who I am, but unfortunately, I cannot reveal that just yet. However, I can tell you why I'm writing to you.

Sirius Black is innocent. He did not betray the Potters. He wasn't the Secret Keeper, Peter Pettigrew was. That traitorous rat is still alive and is now within the custody of the Ministry. His being alive should be enough proof to get Sirius the trial he deserved but never got. He'll be set free, Remus, and he'll need you.

I understand if you don’t believe me. You have many reasons not to and I respect your caution, but know that I am telling you the truth. I apologize for the lack of proof and my request for your blind trust. The next letter I will send you will contain the date and time of the trial so that you may attend if you wish.

Burn this letter immediately after you finish reading. In under no circumstances should you let anyone know you received this. There are eyes and ears everywhere, Remus. Be careful.

A

It was convenient that Ashley’s name began with the letter ‘A’. The recipient, Remus in this case, would have no way of knowing that ‘A’ was for ‘Ashley’ instead of ‘Anonymous’. There was a chance that, with him being a werewolf, he’d be able to recognize her scent but she figured that their years spent apart would prevent that. She’d tell Remus about everything she knew eventually, but it was too dangerous at the moment. She’d have to make sure she granted him and Sirius the mental shield her friends had. Speaking of a mental shield, she was pretty sure that she had unconsciously shared her ability with Hagrid.

I’ll have to visit him after sending Hedwig off with these letters, I promised I would

Rita Skeeter,

Hello, Ms. Skeeter. I’ve heard quite a lot about you. Most of the things I’ve heard aren’t exactly good but I am well aware of your skills in successfully gaining information no other person can. It makes me wonder how you’re so good at your job. Would it possibly be because you have this very useful ability to be able to turn into a beetle?

Now, I’m sure you and I both don’t want the public knowing about this little secret of yours. Being an unregistered Animagus is illegal, after all. Not to worry, I consider myself to be a very good secret keeper. However, I must ask for something in return. I need your help bringing down a certain wizard who’s convinced he’s the best thing since Merlin himself.

He has been manipulating all of us for far too long. I think it’s high time we play the same mind games he does. Your job is to gather every single piece of dirt you can find about Albus Dumbledore, no matter how insignificant it seems. We are going to need all the information we can get if we want to tear down his carefully sculpted reputation. Whatever you find, share it to the world. Let everyone doubt the almighty Dumbledore. After all, you may not be considered the most reliable source, but you are still quite popular. Some of your words hold truth in them, even when you twist them. It will make the community curious enough to the point of wanting more proof which I will happily give in the future.

Burn this letter immediately after you finish reading. We wouldn’t want to risk anyone knowing about this partnership of ours. Don’t let me down, Ms. Skeeter.

Elizabeth Ashley Potter

Heiress of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter

Heiress of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Peverell

Heiress of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Gryffindor

P.S. You might want to start with his involvement with the Sirius Black case. I happen to know for a fact that Sirius Black was never given a trial and Dumbledore is to thank for that. I, however, advise that you release the information you’ve gathered  after Sirius is set free.

Ashley wasn’t bragging about her titles. Really, she wasn’t, but she needed be as intimating as was possible. If the blackmail wasn’t enough, surely her being the Heiress of three noble Houses was. Smirking, she placed the two letters in separate envelopes and whipped out her wand. She charmed the envelopes with a sort of security charm to prevent unwanted folks from reading the contents of the letter. She was thankful to have learned that spell from the time she spent with Alyssa and Mitchelle in the library.

She gathered the letters and packed her new pouch into her trunk, casting several spells to make sure nobody would open it and to alarm her if anyone were to try. Taking one last glance at the sleeping animals on her bed, she changed into her school robes and left the dorm with the letters in hand. She wasn’t worried about how her dorm mates were going to react at seeing the animals. They were already very much aware of Moko and she had mentioned that she was fond of both magical and ordinary creatures alike. She didn’t think they’d be much surprised that she brought home the two felines. Anyway, it wasn’t like she was keeping them.

She accepted the short one-armed hug Fred and George each pulled her in as she passed by them in the common room on her way to the owlery. Once again, she used the shortcut Hogwarts granted her. Arriving at the large room, she sought out Hedwig whom she fed a piece of the bacon the twins had snuck in her hand. The Potter Heiress briefly wondered if they were somehow Seers or not. They always seemed to know what she needed at a certain time. How was that? Ashley didn’t know and right now, she wasn’t going to question it. The twins always had good intentions, except from when they were pranking. Pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind, Ashley instructed Hedwig who each letter was for. The snowy white owl hooted before flying off. The raven-haired girl watched her fade into the distance before heading for Hagrid’s hut.

Having just reached the school grounds, Ashley was suddenly tackled by a redhead. A laugh was shocked out of her as Alyssa repeatedly tickled her sides with Mitchelle keeping her arms secured. Wrenching out of their hold, Ashley playfully glared and cursed at them, telling them that they didn’t deserve to get their gifts now. Mitchelle pouted and linked their arms together, letting Ashley pull them towards her original destination. They found Hagrid tending to his garden with Fang resting on the ground beside him. Noticing his guests, the half-giant happily invited them inside for tea.

The three girls sat around a table as Hagrid served them tea in larger-than-usual teacups. Thanking him, Ashley took a sip of her second cup of tea that day. She’d never had tea before that day but she understood why lots of people had an affinity for it. She smiled when Fang approached her and sniffed her hand before placing his head on her lap. Petting the top of his head, she waited for Hagrid to start a conversation, which he did do once he was seated in his own chair.

“So… How have you girls been?” He asked, seemingly uncomfortable.

“…We’ve been fine. We’ve been learning a lot of things lately.” Alyssa replied, narrowing her eyes in suspicion.

“That’s good, that’s good…” Hagrid averted his eyes, nervously drumming his fingers on the table.

“I… Hagrid, are you okay? Has something happened?” Ashley asked out of pure concern.

“No… Well…” Hagrid hesitated.

“You can tell us anything, Hagrid.” Mitchelle assured.

“…It’s about Dumbledore.”

The girls tensed up and shared a look between the three of them before urging Hagrid to continue talking. Ashley had been right; she had shared her mental ability with Hagrid, presumably during their hug before the train ride. With all of the compulsion spells nullified, the half-giant was now in the right mind to express the troubles he had regarding the headmaster. The girls were quick to fill him in with the situation, explaining all they knew about Dumbledore’s lies and manipulations. The look of betrayal upon Hagrid’s face was heartbreaking, but the truth always hurt. Looking on the brighter side of things, he was aware now, at least. Now, the girls could fully trust him with him vowing to stand beside them. Thus, they began planning.

Another day, another ally … Dumbledore won’t know what’s coming.

Chapter Text

Azkaban, Island in the North Sea

“You don’t have to be so nervous, Padfoot. Here, just hold her like this…”

Pure love…

Limitless adoration…

Bright, ever so enchanting green eyes stared up at Sirius in wonder, drowsy from having just woken up. In that single moment, he knew that he was absolutely done for. He fell head over heels for the baby girl cuddled comfortably against his chest. One smile from her; that was all it took for him to swear upon his magic that he would do anything and everything in his power to keep her safe and happy (preferably with him and Moony in the picture). Though completely unaware of the deeper meaning behind their instant connection, he loved her with everything he had. It wasn’t that hard to figure out that his lover felt the exact same way when he saw Remus seemingly melt as she was transferred in his arms.

Their beautiful little Bambi…

~~~~~~~~

“M… M…”

“Come on, princess. Say ‘mama’.”

“M… M…”

“Go ahead, Bambi, say ‘mama’.”

“M…oon! Moon!”

Sirius laughed out loud at the exasperated looks on Lily and James’ faces as his Bambi uttered her first word. It just further proved that their daughter held a sacred bond with their best friends. Remus, on the other hand, was incredibly shocked, close to tears even. What an honor it was for him to be the light of their lives’ first word. Sirius could admit that he was a little jealous but nevertheless, he felt happy for his lover. Such happiness was rare to find in the time of war. With everything going on, Sirius really couldn’t complain about a petty thing like that. After all, he claimed the spot for his Bambi’s next word, just not in the way he expected. The nights they spent stargazing with Remus actually paid off.

“S…tar! Star, Moon!”

~~~~~~~~

“You can do it, Bambi!”

“One step at a time, cub.”

Sirius outstretched his arms towards the nine-month-old girl who was as unstable in taking her first steps as her cartoon namesake. He and Remus were kneeling side by side, coaxing their Bambi to walk towards them. The pride they felt when she did was overwhelming. They caught her just in time when she stumbled forward, her light giggle resonating through their souls. They were pretty sure that their adoration for the little girl was clear in their expressions. Remus lifted her in his arms, sighing contentedly when she yawned and sleepily tucked her head in the crook of his neck. Sirius watched them with a fond smile, oblivious to the knowing look James and Lily shared behind them.

~~~~~~~~

“…I still don’t know how you do that.”

“Do what?”

“Get her to stop crying like that. Even Lily finds it hard…”

Sirius nonchalantly shrugged, rocking the sleeping baby in his arms as he did so. James put his hands up in mock frustration from where he was seated on the couch, watching as both of his best friends coddled his daughter. A worn out Remus sat beside Sirius with his head resting on the slightly older man’s shoulder. Both James and Sirius had never seen the werewolf so…at peace, especially with the full moon being that near. Sirius assumed James was confused. However, Sirius wasn’t, not completely at least. He knew that the reason for Remus’ serenity was being in the presence of their beloved Bambi, he just wasn’t sure why. Remus had mentioned once that Moony recognized her as part of his pack and considered her as his cub, feeling immensely protective (and possessive) of her. Of course, James knew this as well but this knowledge only cemented the theory he and Lily had, the theory that Sirius and Remus had no clue about.

“You better take care of my daughter…”

“What was that, Prongs?”

Sirius furrowed his eyebrows as James shook his head in response and turned his attention back towards Ashley, ignoring the curious sound Remus made.

~~~~~~~~

“Happy birthday, Bambi!”

Sirius fastened the gift he and Remus bought, a silver charm bracelet, around Ashley’s tiny wrist. He refused to call her Elizabeth since she tended to ignore every single person who even mentioned her first name. She wiggled insistently in Lily’s arms, reaching out for him and Remus. Sirius happily took her, cooing silently as his werewolf partner stood beside him and caressed their Bambi’s cheek.

They spent the whole day with her. Lily, for once, gave them permission to take Bambi out for a little joyride on Sirius’ motorcycle. What a grand way to celebrate a wondrous event. For more than a few moments, it was like there was no war raging outside their door. It felt as if Voldemort wasn’t targeting the Potters and they hadn’t needed to hide away. It was a risk taking Ashley to Grimmauld Place but she deserved a proper celebration. Sirius and Remus had made sure that their home was safe for her; they would never put her in harm’s way. They just didn’t know that the danger was already there in the form of a trusted friend.

~~~~~~~~

“Hush now… Don’t you worry, pup. Moony and I’ll take care of you from now on.”

Sirius picked Ashley up from her crib, forcefully keeping his glossy eyes from straying towards Lily’s still body within the remains of his Bambi’s nursery. He hugged the sniffling child close to his chest, immensely relieved that she had survived Voldemort’s attack. He noticed the bleeding wound on her forehead but before he could fuss over her, a shout from downstairs alerted him of another individual’s presence. Words couldn’t possibly express how he felt when the uninvited guest, Hagrid, demanded that he hand over Bambi per Dumbledore’s orders. Sirius tried to insist otherwise. He was her godfather; he had the right to keep her, but Hagrid wouldn’t take no for answer. In the end, Sirius was forced to comply.

“Please don’t ever forget how much Remus and I love you, Ashley…”

He was hell-bent on somehow getting her back, but left alone with his anger and sorrow, mourning the loss of the Potter family, he did something he wished he hadn’t.

~~~~~~~~

Sirius stared blankly at the wall parallel to where he sat. Ten years, he had been stuck in a bloody cell for almost ten years. The cold and eerie atmosphere around him no longer caused him to shiver. The only things he dreaded were the sounds of the Dementors nearing from outside, slowly eating away at what little joy he had left. He unclenched the fist he held over his heart, revealing the only remaining sliver of light in the darkness that was his life. Ashley’s missing charm bracelet, left behind when Hagrid had taken her away. Sirius deeply treasured it as something to remember her by, knowing that he wasn’t allowed to visit her even before he was imprisoned. And now he really physically couldn’t, not when he was stuck in Azkaban for a crime he would have killed someone for committing.

Betray James and Lily, ha! I’d have rather killed myself!

Growling, he cursed those responsible for his current incarcerated state. There were those who knew of his innocence, yet chose to stay in the shadows. Dumbledore, Hagrid, the rest of the Order members, did they not have pity? How could they have let this happen to Sirius? He had shown unwavering loyalty towards the Potters, especially to James and Ashley. How could anyone ever think that he had the initiative to put them in danger like that? How could Wormtail betray them like that? They, along with Remus, were brothers in all but blood. It was like everything the four of them went through was forgotten just like that. Peter Pettigrew was a bloody coward! Oh, how Sirius wished he actually could have killed that traitorous rat that night.

Sirius sighed and raised the silver bracelet in his hand close to his face, admiring the charms he, himself, had made. The comforting scent of his goddaughter had long since faded from the item but the memories that came with it would always be at the forefront of his mind. No Dementor would be able to take that from him. He had survived this long with his sanity still somewhat present because of those memories. The hope that he would someday see Ashley and Remus again kept him from giving up on life.

There were many things Sirius wished he could change. One of those things was going after Wormtail that fateful night. He had been blinded by his rage and with no Bambi or Moony to reel him in; he had let his emotions act for him. Maybe if he hadn’t done what he did, he’d still be with his mate and their pup. He wouldn’t have missed witnessing Ashley grow into a beautiful child with her parents’ intelligence and kindness. He and Remus would have been the ones to take her to King’s Cross for her first day at Hogwarts, which Sirius knew was a few days ago. He counted every single day that passed, seeing as he had nothing else better to do, to keep himself aware of his mate and pup’s special days.

Running a dirty finger over the engraved ‘Moony’ on one specific charm, Sirius couldn’t help but worry over the werewolf. Was Remus alright? Where was he living now? Was he alone? Sirius wished he wasn’t. After all this time, Sirius still loved him with every fiber of his being. Sirius could never be mad at him, there had to be a reason why he left him to rot away in his cell. Sirius briefly thought that Dumbledore most likely had something to do with it but something was preventing him from delving too much into that thought. It was quite an irritating feeling, it seemed like he didn’t have complete control over his own mind. Azkaban really had damaged him. Still, he had his doubts regarding the man that had once been his headmaster. He was, after all, the reason why Ashley had been separated from him. The Animagus was willing to fight anyone who got in the way of him and his Bambi.

He could only hope that Ashley had been cared for by a loving family. He didn’t know where she was, but he hoped that she was never given to Lily’s dreadful sister and her whale of a husband. Speaking from personal experience, they had never been the best kind of Muggles around. Why would a decent person ever make her sister cry on her wedding day? Petunia was a bitter woman and Vernon was even worse. Sirius didn’t want his little Bambi to have grown up in that kind of environment. But if all had came to worse that night and she had been sent to them, the Dursleys better have raised her like he and Remus would have, treated her like she deserved to be. Anything less than that, the Dursleys were sure to receive a stern talking-to when Sirius got out of Azkaban, if he got out of Azkaban. He, unfortunately, had to be realistic, even if he didn’t want to be. There was little to no chance that-

Sirius was startled by the sound of the cell door being unlocked. Quick to act, he hid the bracelet within the tatters of his clothes. He couldn’t risk it being confiscated by the guards should they see it. What a surprise he got when an elegantly dressed woman walked in. He recognized her as Amelia Bones, a former superior during his time as an Auror.

What is she doing here? Could it be…?

For the first time in years, true hope filled his soul. He was being optimistic, he realized that. For all he knew, she was there to escort him to the Dementors to receive the Kiss. However, there was the small chance that she was there for something else, something regarding the freedom he had been yearning for since the first day he had arrived. A guy could certainly hope, couldn’t he? Amelia, after observing his poor physical state, approached him and kneeled, taking his malnourished face in her hands.

“I am so sorry.” She apologized sincerely.

“What…?” His voice came out hoarse, unused to the feeling of talking.

He’d lost the will to speak a long time ago. It wasn’t like he had anyone to talk to, really. He wasn’t nearly mad enough to attempt a conversation with the Dementors, or with the other Azkaban convicts. As far as he knew, he was the sanest one in the whole building. And maybe he was a bit biased towards himself but his cell was next to his lovely cousin Bellatrix. In the subject of mental stability, he was clearly the better option.

“We’re moving you to the Ministry, Sirius. Your case has been reopened, you’re getting a trial.”

Those words… He had waited years on end to hear those words. He was getting out. He’d be able to reunite with his beloved Moony and their precious Bambi. He hoped against all odds that it wasn’t all some cruel joke. His soul wouldn’t be able to take it if it was.

Finally...

Meanwhile…

Lupin Lodge, Yorkshire, England

Remus sat on the shabby couch of the cottage he could just barely afford with hard-earned Muggle money, tiredly rubbing a hand over his face. Tired, it seemed that was the only thing he felt lately. By lately, he meant for the past few years. The Order had to watch out for the Death Eaters and every other supporter of Voldemort in case they were planning something large to avenge the fallen Dark Lord. Remus was in charge of scouting the werewolves, Fenrir Greyback’s pack to be specific. Now, Remus could never regret being part of the Order, but running Dumbledore’s errands-er, missions for him was honestly getting ridiculous at that point. Remus, however, knew that the missions were immensely important. Everyone’s safety depended on them. Remus especially wanted to ensure Ashley’s safety.

Ashley, his darling Bambi… It had been her eleventh birthday a few days ago, he could never forget. He grieved over every birthday and every holiday they could have spent together. He wanted to visit her. He wanted to be the one who reintroduced her to the Wizarding World, but Dumbledore advised otherwise. Remus couldn’t understand why. Why did Dumbledore keep on insisting that seeing Ashley was forbidden? Was it because Remus was a werewolf? Did Dumbledore think that Moony was a danger to their cub? That simply wasn’t possible. Remus had never fully accepted his ‘furry little problem’ as James unabashedly used to call it, he didn’t know if he ever would. But Remus was quite aware how much Moony loved Ashley.

Dumbledore explained that she was too young to be able even remember her life from before but Remus still wanted to see her. It’d been so long, too long, since he last did. Although it did sadden him that Ashley held no memories of him whatsoever, they could create new ones, happier ones. They had more freedom this time with Voldemort no longer around. Still, Dumbledore urged Remus to stay where he was currently situated and he begrudgingly listened. Moony lamented for what could have been a grand reunion with their cub. That train of thought unfortunately led to remembering certain memories of someone Remus couldn’t even force himself to remotely forget.

Oh Sirius…

Imagine how Remus felt having just gotten home from an Order mission and immediately being greeted by the news of the deaths of three dear friends and then the withdrawal of information regarding his Bambi’s current whereabouts. He was eventually told who had taken her in but was prohibited from checking up on her when he vocalized his blatant dislike for her guardians. Of all the people that Dumbledore could have given her to, why did the bloody hell did he choose the Dursleys? Petunia and Vernon proffered normalcy above all else and shunned anyone who wasn’t ‘normal’ in their eyes, including Lily. How exactly did Dumbledore expect them to care for Ashley properly when they were so clearly against magic? How did she learn about being a witch then? Did the Dursleys treat her well? Remus sure hoped so, for their sake. If they acted otherwise, he wouldn’t be responsible to how Moony reacted. The werewolf would wholeheartedly let the beast within him out if his cub had been hurt in the Dursleys’ care.

However much his cub being taken away hurt, that wasn’t the most heartbreaking thing Remus had learnt. What made matters worse was the fact the all of that trouble, he found out, was caused by one Sirius Orion Black. His mate, the person he trusted the most, the person he loved more than himself, the one who was always there for him during his transformations, the one he could always count on… That same man had betrayed the Potters to Voldemort and was imprisoned in Azkaban. Remus didn’t believe it at first but he soon had to accept the grim truth. The pain of separation was too much to handle, especially during the full moon, but he soldiered through it.

Internally, he did have his doubts about the entire situation. How couldn’t he? He was well aware of the absolute loyalty Sirius possessed towards those he considered family and there were none Sirius cared for more than the Marauders, including Lily, and Ashley of course. Having known the Animagus for many years, no matter how much of a git he could sometimes be, Remus knew that he could never do anything that would put his chosen family in jeopardy. Well, there was that one incident with Severus during their Hogwarts days but that had been long forgiven and forgotten. The point still stood. Sirius was not capable of the crimes he had been accused of. Despite knowing this and despite the fact that his basic instincts told him that something was very wrong, Remus still couldn’t help but think that maybe Sirius was at fault. Remus really couldn’t understand how his mind worked. It was deeply frustrating how his thoughts seemed to wage war against each other.

Jarring him straight out of his thoughts, he heard the distinct sound of wings flapping by the window. He glanced over and furrowed his eyebrows at the sight that met him. There, gracefully perched on the windowsill, was an exquisite snowy white owl carrying an envelope between its beak. As far as he knew, Remus wasn’t expecting any letters from Dumbledore or anyone else in the Order. Nevertheless, he approached the unfamiliar owl and accepted the offered envelope. The owl then flew away with a hoot, leaving him to plop back down on the tattered couch and read through the contents of the letter.

He had to read thoroughly two more times before his scrambled mind finally caught up with the new information the letter revealed. Sirius was innocent, just like Remus had originally believed. Instead, Peter was the culprit, the traitor who had surrendered the Potter family’s location to Voldemort. And for what, Mercy? To save his sorry ass from death? Wormtail had never been the bravest amongst the Marauders, that was true, but never had Remus thought that the timid man would betray them just like that in the face of danger. Remus’ eyes turned amber, conveying the blazing anger both he and Moony felt. They had mourned Peter along with the rest of their deceased pack members, unknowingly grieving over the cause of that night’s events.

How dare he?! Hunt him down and rip him apart! He took our pack away!

Remus breathed in as an attempt to calm down. That wasn’t the only thing he read. Sirius had received no trial; he was given no chance to prove his innocence. Dumbledore had lied. He told Remus that Sirius had lost his hold on reality, laughing like a mad man all throughout his trial. A trial, Remus realized, that had never actually happened. What reason did Dumbledore have to lie about that? Remus knew that he was always such a secretive figure but what good would throwing Sirius in Azkaban do? Remus was confused, to say the least, and also still enraged, very much so. Moony had never been so close to the surface without the influence of the full moon.

And Merlin, who the bloody hell was A? How did he/she know all of this? Was he/she worth trusting? There were eyes and ears everywhere… What did he/she mean by that? Was he/she a wanted figure? Who was watching him/her and, by affiliation, Remus? Moony was stirring restlessly inside him. The wolf recognized the familiar scent of whomever wrote the letter but it was awfully faint so he couldn’t be sure. But it was oh so familiar, and it tugged the strings of his heart in a way that comforted Remus.

So many unanswerable questions filled his mind that it irked him to no end. A strange feeling was nagging at the back of Remus’ mind, egging him to inform Dumbledore about the anonymous letter. The wise wizard could answer the questions he had but… Remus was no longer sure who to trust. So, he forcefully blocked the feeling. He was stronger than some second voice in his mind. He would be, for his mate. The letter had opened his eyes greatly. The best course of action was to follow A’s instructions.

Filled with renewed spirit and determination, Remus burned the now crumpled letter with a flick of his wand. He took a deep breath and dug through his pocket, carefully pulling out an old meaningful item he carried wherever he went. It was a picture, a magical moving one obviously, of him, Sirius, and barely-a-year-old Ashley. James had been the one to capture it. In the picture, Remus and Sirius were reading with their Bambi. The two men kissed each other affectionately, then placed a kiss on both of Ashley’s cheeks as they held her between them. Remus gazed longingly down upon the happy moment. Oh, how he’d missed them. If A was as truthful as he/she claimed to be, he would be given the chance to have many more happy moments such as the one in the photograph. He would be reunited with the last of his pack.

Sirius, I’m so sorry… I’m coming back for you, you and our cub.

It was time he fought for what was his, to regain what he lost.

Chapter Text

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scottish Highlands

A new occurrence, the Golden Trio chose the Gryffindor common room as their new hang-out spot. Ashley lounged on the couch in front of the fireplace, squished in between Alyssa and Mitchelle. They blissfully ignored the odd looks sent their way by the other lions. As Ashley had expected, the white tiger cub and the black cat she had brought home immediately bonded with her friends during their introduction with each other. Now, the girls’ respective familiars were cuddled up against them. Klaus, Alyssa’s tiger, napped in her lap while she carded her fingers through his fur. Serina, Mitchelle’s cat, curled under her hand, appearing elegantly poised and proper. Moko, ever the endearingly clingy one, was wrapped around Ashley’s raised hand, repeatedly nudging her cheek to keep her attention on him.

The girls chatted aimlessly about varying subjects, anything and everything they could think about. They wanted a bit of rest from executing their (Ashley’s, to be honest) plans. They acted as if it was just a normal day back at their lovely apartment. Their conversation, however, was abruptly ceased by two redheads who took it upon themselves to whisk Ashley away, and by extension, Moko as well. Alyssa grumbled indignantly while Mitchelle rapidly blinked, watching their best friend be carried out to the corridor. Ashley pouted but had no choice but to settle in George’s arms as he carried her bridal-style.

“You’re much too light, little raven.” George commented, his humorous tone contrasting against the genuine concern in his eyes.

“You really should eat more.” Fred agreed, reaching out to poke Ashley’s cheek.

“I am trying but my body isn’t used to having access to as much food as we have here.” She mumbled, gently swatting his hand away.

“Well then, from now on,-“

“-we’ll just have to sit with you-“

“-every meal-“

“-of every day-“

“-to make sure you keep healthy.”

“We’ll be your guardians, for the time being.”

“At least, until Sirius and Remus take you back.”

Wait, what? How do they…?

Ashley promptly froze as she heard the twins’ last uttered sentence. Moko, from his new position around her neck, perked up at this. Narrowing her eyes, she glared suspiciously at each of the twins who chose to act like what they said hadn’t been something they weren’t supposed to know yet. She was already contemplating about telling them about everything once she her plans were firmly planted but apparently, she didn’t need to. They already knew, but how? Were they really some sort of Seers?

“Do…you have something you’d like to share with me?” Ashley hesitantly asked.

“Not particularly, no.” The twins quipped.

They were always such a stubborn duo. If they didn’t want to reveal their secret, then nothing would convince them otherwise until they thought the time was right. So, knowing asking further questions would be a futile attempt, Ashley resigned with a small sigh. Fred was quick to change the subject as they ventured outside the castle and towards the training grounds where Oliver Wood was patiently waiting for them. Upon seeing the approaching trio, Oliver raised a questioning eyebrow at the way George was carrying Ashley but dismissed it since she didn’t seem to be that much bothered by the current situation. When they reached Oliver, George made no move to place the Potter Heiress back on her feet until she lightly pinched his arm.

“Hello.” She greeted.

“Hey… Elizabeth, right?” Oliver said, eyeing her familiar in shock.

“Ashley’s fine. Is there any reason why Fred and George here had to kidnap me?” She asked, snickering at the sweet smiles the redheads sent her.

“Professor McGonagall thought it best that I give you an introduction to Quidditch before the actual training starts.” Oliver explained.

Ashley thought it unnecessary, but highly reasonable. She had been raised by Muggles. She wasn’t supposed to know anything about the Wizarding World, much less Quidditch. She nodded along and followed the Gryffindor Quidditch Captain to the middle of the open field with the twins trailing behind them. Along the way, she had to calm a nervous Moko who thought that flying on a broom would be necessary. He really preferred staying close to the ground. In his defense, snakes were never meant to fly. A closed trunk was laid on the ground, Oliver having to kneel down to unlock it, revealing the four balls used to play the famous game.

“Quidditch is easy enough to understand. Each team has seven players. Three Chasers, two Beaters,-“

“That’s us!” The twins interrupted.

“-one Keeper, and one Seeker, that’s you. There are three kinds of balls.”

Ashley listened attentively as Oliver grabbed the Quaffle and explained its purpose. He then went on about the roles of the Chasers and the Keeper, which was him. Right after, he requested Ashley to handle the Beater’s bat as he bent down to unchain one of the squirming Bludgers. The Bludger, paired with an angry growl, flew off into the air and back around. Ashley immediately raised the bat she held and hit the ball with a crack. She watched in pride as the Bludger zoomed through a statue, not damaging it in the slightest.

“Wicked hit, little raven!” Fred hollered.

“Utterly magnificent!” George whooped.

“Absolutely brilliant!” He and Fred cheered, making Ashley roll her eyes fondly.

“You’d make a fair Beater, Ashley. Uh-oh…” Oliver trailed off.

He caught the Bludger as it hurtled towards him and struggled to wrestle it back into the trunk. He bolted the chain to keep it where it was and stood back up, panting. The twins moved to each of Ashley’s sides, laying their arms across her shoulders. Oliver brushed the dirt off his clothes, making Ashley notice that one of his hands was clutching a golden, walnut-sized ball.

“That was a Bludger. Nasty little buggers, but as the Seeker, you only have to worry about this, The Golden Snitch.” He stated, letting her hold the tiny yet very important ball.

“Wow, it’s beautiful…” She muttered out in awe.

“Ah, you like it now. Just wait until you have to catch it. It’s wicked fast and damn near impossible to see. You catch this, Ashley, the game is over and we win.”

The Snitch then sprouted a pair of delicate wings that blurred with how fast they fluttered. The ball darted upwards and circled Ashley’s head, her eyes somehow adjusting to its speed and following its quick movements. Her hand instinctively reached out to trap the ball between her fingers, smiling when Oliver complimented her skill at being able to easily keep up with the Snitch. She had to thank her dad for that, remembering the little fact that James had a Snitch of his own (one he stole but nobody needed to know that). Perhaps Quidditch really was in her blood.

Oliver dismissed Ashley and the twins after that, concluding their Quidditch introduction session. Although, right before he left, he gave her a handbook containing each and every rule of the game he insisted that she learn. She happily accepted it and parted ways with the fourth year, heading back with Fred and George to their common room. Walking through an empty corridor, she tensed when she felt her magic sensitivity spike, recognizing the unwelcome presence of Dumbledore’s magic signature. She hurriedly helped Moko slither under the sleeve of her loose sweater, right in the nick of time as well. The Hogwarts headmaster rounded the corner just as Moko’s tail was out of sight. It was a good thing Ashley had been practicing her magic sensitivity to be able to recognize certain people and certain spells as well. She couldn’t be too careful.

“Ms. Potter, would you mind coming with me to my office?” Dumbledore asked, his voice containing an undertone of fake warmth.

Ashley didn’t like the look in those ridiculous, twinkling eyes of his. Neither did the twins, apparently. Ashley had felt their light auras fall and turn dark at the sight of the old wizard. At this point, she had no doubt that they knew about most, if not all, of Dumbledore’s deceptions. That made things easier on her part. She had less people to inform about her plans. She held the twins’ hands and squeezed subtly, letting go to follow the enemy to his office. She made sure to act exactly as he wanted her, innocent and naive to everything going on around her.

The perfect little pawn, ugh…

They arrived at the entrance to his office after a thankfully short walk. He uttered the current password to the gargoyle, her storing it for definite future use. They entered through and she gazed around the large, library-like room. She stayed rooted to her spot by the door as Dumbledore went to sit behind his desk. Her eyes drifted across the several portraits hung up on the walls. The only portrait awake was the one of former-Headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black. Ashley raised her hand to wave at him before her attention was gathered by the bird stand where Fawkes was. There was magic surrounding the phoenix, not the normal kind either. There was an active concealment charm, she was sure of it, one that was just as strong as the one she placed on her ring. Questions arose; what was Dumbledore concealing and why? What did Fawkes have to do with it?

“Um… Headmaster Dumbledore, am I in trouble? Did I do something wrong?” Ashley worried, standing in front of Dumbledore’s desk.

“No, no, you did nothing wrong.” He assured, wringing his fingers together on the surface of his desk.

“Oh… Then, why am I here?” Ashley pursed her lips.

“I heard that you may have gotten lost on the third floor.”

She wore a look of guilt as she bowed her head in faux shame, aiming her gaze at her feet. She nervously fidgeted in her spot before glancing back up, opening her mouth to apologize for her actions.

“I’m sorry, Headmaster, I-“

“I am in possession of an item that I think would help you greatly with your quest.”

“…What? Really?”

Dumbledore’s response stumped Ashley. She had a feeling that she already knew the item he was talking about but she didn’t expect him to hand it over so early and so willingly. He probably figured that giving her the item would aid his plans in having her find the Philosopher’s Stone much earlier and consequently prevent Voldemort from taking it for himself. What a joke that was. Ashley was actually contemplating giving the stone to Voldemort since he only wanted to use it to gain a body. He had just enough sanity and common sense to understand that depending on the stone for immortality was a horrible idea. Just as horrible as creating six Horcruxes but well, that was a different topic. Ashley tuned back to reality as Dumbledore conjured the famed Cloak of Invisibility.

“A…blanket?” She assumed in a monotone voice.

“It is a cloak, my child. It once belonged to your father. He had entrusted it to me before the night of the attack.”

Ashley resisted the urge to hex the man. Her parents could have escaped their faith that night if he hadn’t taken the cloak to ‘inspect’ it. He wanted them to have no chance of living, didn’t he? Or was he just that greedy for power, wanting two of the fabled Deathly Hallows in his grasp? He wasn’t worthy, he never would be. Even if he did manage to collect all three Deathly Hallows, Death would never accept him as its master.

“It must be important then. What does it do?”

“I suggest you head back to your dormitory and find out.”

“Alright, thank you!”

“Wait a moment now, Ms. Potter. May I ask how you’re settling in? This must be all so confusing for you.”

Ashley held back an aggravated sigh and turned back around, answering the old coot’s questions accordingly. She wanted nothing more than to leave with her new possession. Moko was getting impatient as well. Ashley genuinely admitted, when asked, that her scar did warm up from time to time thought it never caused her pain. She excluded the bit of information that this only happened in the presence of a specific turban-wearing professor. Dumbledore seemed pleased with all of her replies and finally set her free. Ashley waited until she was out of the office to drop her calm pace and rush back to the common room with her cloak tucked safely in her arms.

Arriving at her destination, she was glad to see that Alyssa and Mitchelle were still on the couch. They had stayed despite having no one to talk to but each other. Ashley barely stopped running to pull them up by their arms and drag them to her room. She locked the door and cast Muffliato around the area before turning to face her friends who had positioned themselves to sit on top of her bed. She placed the newly Engorgio’d Moko alongside Klaus and Serina, taking a short moment to ‘aw’ at the scene of her familiar curling around them. She stepped back and wordlessly threw her cloak around her shoulders. She grinned as the realization lit up on both her friends’ faces. Her familiar was in shock at the sight of the majority of her body having disappeared (he would never admit that he panicked a tiny bit).

“Oh my Godric, Dumbledore gave you the invisibility cloak!” Mitchelle clapped her hands enthusiastically.

“Wait, let me try!”

“Me first!”

Ashley watched in amusement as the girls fought over who got to wield the cloak first. An owl, a Gringotts owl to be specific, interrupted their petty argument by swooping in through an open window. Ashley dropped the cloak on her bed and accepted the letter from the owl, giving it a treat before it flew off. She proceeded to plop down on her bed, waiting for her friends to settle down before reading the content of the letter from Griphook. Her eyes skimmed over the words, memorizing the time and date given for Sirius’ trial. Only a few days more and her godfather would be free. However, the good news came with the bad. At the end of the letter, Griphook revealed yet another heinous crime Dumbledore had committed. This time, however, it wasn’t to her.

“Oh for Merlin’s sake… Alyssa, you might want to read this.” Ashley mumbled, passing the piece of parchment.

She bit her lip, waiting for the inevitable explosion of the typically calm and collected Alyssa. Ashley watched each fleeting emotion on the redhead’s face as she read the letter. Alyssa was silent for a few moments until she angrily crumpled up the letter. She launched it across the room and had her wand out in less than a second, hexing the letter mid-air. It instantly burst into flames, leaving only bits of ashes to rain on the carpet. It was honestly convenient for Ashley. It meant that she didn’t have be the one to burn the letter like she did with the past ones.

“That thieving scumbag, I’ll kill him!” Alyssa cursed loudly, beginning to pace around the room.

Her clenched fists shook with barely contained fury. The crystals on her wand glowed brightly, conveying exactly how unstable her magic was steadily becoming. Eyes wild, teeth bared, she seemed ready to storm Dumbledore’s office and attack him on the spot. Ashley felt the intense magic rolling off of her in strong waves that clashed with her own, making it quite difficult for her to subdue the rising feeling of her magic. The animals, especially Klaus, were getting restless, clearly affected as well. Upon hearing her familiar whimper, Alyssa sat back down and gently gathered Klaus in her arms. Mitchelle attempted to ease her by placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“I want to feed him to the Basilisk!” Alyssa said through gritted teeth.

“…Is it bad that I’m kind of agreeing with that plan?” Mitchelle said after a short pause.

“No, not really... He’d deserve it, that’s for sure.” Ashley mused, “We can’t kill him off just yet though.”

She held up her hand before Alyssa could protest.

“We’ll take back everything he stole from you, don’t worry. I’ll ask Griphook to manage your accounts as well. Dumbledore won’t get away with this. We won’t let him.” Ashley affirmed.

“Right, okay… I’m calm.”

Alyssa, with Klaus still in her arms, moved up the bed to lean against the headboard. Mitchelle copied her movements with her own familiar clutched near her chest. Ashley grabbed the cloak, folding it neatly as she approached her trunk at the foot of her bed. She placed the cloak inside and underneath her Gringotts pouch. She checked the security and alert charms necessary to appease her paranoid nature before taking the free spot next to Alyssa.

“We can move a lot more now that we have the cloak…” Ashley said as Moko wrapped around her waist.

“Do we need the Map yet?” Mitchelle inquired.

“Hm… Yes, actually. It would be a good precautionary. We need to visit the Restricted Section.” Ashley announced.

Ohhh, a little sneaking around… How exciting, little one.” Moko hissed happily.

“Well, I’m sure the twins won’t mind lending it. It is yours and they like you, a lot. It’s worrying, actually, how much they do.” Alyssa frowned.

“Why are we going to the Restricted Section?” Mitchelle piped up.

“I want to see if they have anything about soul magic. We’ll need all the help we can get if we want to restore Voldemort’s soul.”

“That’s true; we can’t exactly ask any of the professors.”

“That’s right. We’ll have to rely on the library for now.”

“Speaking of a library, isn’t there one at Grimmauld Place?”

“There is, yeah.”

“The Blacks are a dark family. If there were any people who’d have books about dark magic, they would.”

“Great idea, I’ll check it out once Sirius and Remus get custody over me. Although, we can only hope we’ll still live there and that they won’t throw out any of the dark artifacts.”

“Ash, what about the others? Ai, Neville, Maia, will we ever tell them about any of our plans?”

“Please, you just want to know if you can tell Cedric.”

“H-hey, that’s not-!”

Ashley and Alyssa laughed at the way Mitchelle spluttered and attempted to deny what they knew to be the truth. The tawny-haired witch chose to stop talking altogether and sulked instead. Ashley and Alyssa continued to tease her until the topic strayed towards the redhead.

“Like you can talk, Alyssa! Does the name ‘Draco’ ring a bell for you?” Ashley jeered.

Alyssa pouted at that and went on ranting about the aforementioned Slytherin. Ashley groaned jokingly at having to listen to it all. She was already quite aware of how much the blond pure-blood infuriated the redhead but nevertheless, Alyssa was still head over heels for him.

“You just wait ‘til you see Sirius and Remus again. You’ll act more love-struck than the two of us combined!”

“Believe me when I say that I won’t mind in the slightest.” Ashley giggled.

She lived for the day she would be reunited with her soul-bonded.

Chapter Text

For the entirety of the day, the Golden Trio and their decent-sized group of friends chose to sit with the Gryffindors this time, per Fred and George’s request. Ashley now sat squished between the twins during lunch as they alternated between who distracted her while the other discretely piled food onto her plate. She was aware of what they were doing and she genuinely appreciated the kind gesture. They were only looking out for her well-being, after all. However, her thoughts were elsewhere. She was much too preoccupied with anxiously waiting for the mail to arrive. If everything was according to the set schedule, Sirius’ trial had taken place earlier that morning. Ashley was waiting for the event’s results that she was sure would make the front page of The Daily Prophet. She was also quite positive that Sirius was already enjoying his newfound freedom. However, things could have still gone wrong somehow. Ashley hoped Dumbledore hadn’t meddled with things like he usually did. Until the news arrived assuring Sirius’ trial had been a success, she was going to continue worrying with every fiber of her being.

Her friends sensed her distress and were all attempting to take her mind off of things, which she was thankful for. The ever comforting presence of her familiar wrapped around her arm was also immensely helpful in the deed of calming her down. Getting too worked up wasn’t ideal, especially in a crowded place such as the great hall. Her magic wasn’t the easiest to control when her emotions were out of whack. It was enough that she exceeded expectations in her classes. She didn’t need the majority of people knowing the growing limits of her power. That would have been counterproductive, seeing as she was doing her best to refrain from gaining more of Dumbledore’s unwanted attention.

Speak of the devil, and he shall appear

The old wizard himself finally blessed the school population with his glorious presence. What pleased Ashley, though, was the fact that he looked far from smug. In fact, he seemed quite distressed. The usual merry twinkle in his eyes had disappeared, replaced with a silent kind of anger simmering beneath the surface. It washed away most of Ashley’s worries. An unhappy Dumbledore was always good thing. At least, it was in Ashley’s dictionary. It only could have meant that the trial had not gone his way.

Ashley didn’t have to wait long for the reassurance of what she speculated had happened. A parliament made up of more than a thousand owls came flocking in, each one swooping down to their respective owner. Ashley greeted Hedwig with a doting pet, feeding the owl little bits of her favorite snack. Ashley shut her eyes, taking a deep breath, before she opened them again and glanced at the front page of the newspaper Hedwig had delivered. Her heart warmed, almost bursting with joy, upon reading what was written there.


SIRIUS BLACK: WRONGFULLY ACCUSED!

On the night of the 31st of October 1981, Sirius Black was carted off to Azkaban for supposedly having killed twelve Muggles and Peter Pettigrew, a close friend of his, and for his betrayal of the Potters to You-Know-Who. Now, after almost ten years since his incarceration, we find out that we were all so very wrong! Due to an anonymous source, evidence regarding his case had been brought to light. This evidence had come in the form of Peter Pettigrew himself who had been alive all this time, hiding as an unregistered rat Animagus.

Lord Black’s trial, a right he suspiciously never had the privilege to have, had taken place earlier this morning at precisely 7 AM. With the use of Veritaserum, he was easily declared innocent and a free man. Compensated for the unforgivable mistake, he was then admitted to St. Mungo’s for the proper treatment needed to regain his health back. We can only imagine the unjust suffering he went through while within the walls of Azkaban.

I’m sure we all share the same questions-


Ashley chose to stop reading at that point and set the newspaper down. The rest of what was written wasn’t all that important to her although it did help her secret agenda against Dumbledore. Rita had followed her instructions just as Ashley had expected. The journalist rambled about the incompetence of the Ministry and then went on to target how Dumbledore made no move to help Sirius with the injustice served. In fact, she mentioned that Dumbledore had seemed completely against letting Sirius go. What a great way to ignite the curiosity of the community. Rumors were bound to spread like wildfire. In fact, they already were. Ashley could hear the shock and disbelief within the hushed voices belonging to her fellow students seated around her. Rita had not failed.

She never will if she wants her secret to stay a secret.

Ashley bit her lip to suppress the smile that threatened to break through her face. Sirius was free, and she had no doubt that Remus was with him at the moment. By her mental calculations, Sirius would take at least a month to recover physically and mentally. Surely after he was fully healed, he and Remus would search for her, maybe even visit. She hoped they would. She’d send a letter, she decided; anonymously, of course. After all, she wasn’t supposed to know about her godfather and Remus. She couldn’t let them find out about her knowledge just yet, not until they were free from compulsion spells. It was too risky to get involved with them too early. It was definitely going to be a while but she would wait, as patiently as she needed to.

A spoonful of food suspended in mid-air suddenly interrupted her train of thought. Blinking at the unmoving utensil, she turned to her right to face the sight of a grinning Fred who had his wand out. To her left, George was wearing an identical expression. Of course he was. What they were trying to achieve was obviously unnecessary but if she was being honest, she rather liked the idea of a person (or two, in this case) taking care of her and treating her the way nobody had in years. It was a nice feeling, she could admit to that. So, she willingly opened her mouth and let Fred feed her, dutifully ignoring the smirks playing on his and his twin’s lips. Fred rested his arm around her shoulders while George snaked his arm around her waist. They seemed to like those positions a lot, unlike their sister who was cringing from where she sat right across the three of them.

“Congratulations, little raven. Your plan was a success.” The twins said, low enough for only her and her group to have heard.

It was a good thing Ashley had decided to come clean to her uninformed friends about everything. Well, mostly everything, including the fact that she had originated from a different universe; one she wasn’t sure still existed. She hadn’t been quite ready to face the major existence problems that subject inevitably caused but she managed. She had yet to tell the group about maybe working with Voldemort in the future. That was something she, Mitchelle, and Alyssa all agreed could wait later. It was much too soon, even if they already trusted the group.

It was much easier now that they had acquired more trustworthy individuals that would help them overthrow Dumbledore from the golden throne he built for himself. Cedric hadn’t been included yet, much to the displeasure of Mitchelle, but they were working up to that. Mitchelle had to confess about hers and Cedric’s bond first, that was the deal. After that, then Ashley would gift Cedric with the ability of a mental shield like the rest of their friends.

“Guys, he’s watching us… And I am very creeped out.” Maia announced.

‘He’ referred to Dumbledore who was actively staring at the mismatched group, most especially Ashley, through narrowed eyes. Murmurs of agreements filled the air. It really was unnerving. Annoyingly enough, the old man had no sense of privacy when it came to the Chosen One’s life. What a pity for Ashley, she’d have to deal with it for a long time.

“When isn’t he?” Alyssa rolled her eyes, irritated.

“That’s true. It isn’t hard to notice, not even before we were aware.” Thalia commented.

“I couldn’t care less about him right now. I’m much too happy about Sirius.” Ashley beamed.

“We’re happy for you too.” Heaven smiled softly.

“Now that that’s done, anything important we have to do?” Cora inquired, leaning against the table on her elbows.

“Well, no. Nothing actually… Not until Halloween, at least. We’ll…live in the moment for now, enjoy school and whatnot.” Ashley answered, looking thoughtful.

“Enjoy school, huh? I never thought you’d say that.” Alyssa snickered.

“Same here, but apparently, the impossible is no longer impossible.” Ashley giggled, feeling the twins momentarily tighten their hold on her.

“Cheers to that.” Mitchelle remarked, raising her goblet to her lips.

They continued on with their meal and soon enough, lunch was over. Ashley found herself in a secluded part of the library, fairly near the Restricted Section, with the company of Mitchelle, her familiar, and the object of her affections, Cedric. The two Hufflepuffs were busy studying (each other, honestly) while Ashley focused on writing a letter for Sirius. She ignored the soul-bonded-yet-unofficial couple as to not feel more of a third wheel than she already did.

Dear Sirius,

Words cannot express how happy I am to know that you’ve been freed from that prison. You didn’t deserve to have been put through that kind of torture. You never should have been sent there. Let’s not dwell on that though.

I’m not sure if Remus may have told you about me or not, but in any case, I am the person who handed in the evidence for your release in the form of a worthless little rat. I cannot reveal my identity just yet for reasons I will share with you in due time. Just know that you can trust me.

An enemy is lurking, Sirius. He is quite manipulative and has a lot of sway upon the Wizarding World. Although, clever as he is, I know just how to bring him down. You still need to be careful. Now that you’re free, he will try to influence you. Be wary; do not fall for his tricks. Trust your instincts and nothing else. Your thoughts may not be as yours as you think.

Rest well, Sirius, and stay healthy. Your goddaughter needs you and Remus both; she’s been waiting a long time for you. Visit when you can, why don’t you?

A

Sirius was bound to have questions; most Ashley wouldn’t be able to answer. If Rita was being truthful about Dumbledore standing against Sirius’ freedom, then Sirius wouldn’t turn to the old goat for help. Ashley was confident he wouldn’t. He would consider this as his mystery to solve, his and Moony’s, as was the Marauders’ way. Ashley let her thoughts wander about after placing the letter in an envelope, her hand instinctively seeking out Moko’s warmth.

“Hey, want to see something?” Cedric whispered to Mitchelle.

“Oh, uh, sure.” She stammered, all shy-like and flustered.

Really? You’re gonna do this in front of me? Where’re the twins when you need them?

Curious, Ashley watched as Cedric waves his wand in a circular motion and cast Orchideous. A bouquet of flowers burst from the tip of his wand, making Mitchelle jump back in shock. He extended the bouquet towards her, causing her to turn red. Ashley couldn’t fight back her smile after that trick. As bitterly lonely as she felt, she was happy for Mitchelle. The slightly older witch and Cedric were great together. Although, they’d have to wait a while before they got together. Mitchelle was only eleven, it would be incredibly inappropriate. However, the situation was different. Being soul-bonded was the ultimate connection between two (or three) people but that didn’t mean Ashley had to be there to witness it, not when her own soul-bonded mates were far away.

“Know what? I’ll leave you two alone. I’m gonna go find Alyssa.”

The couple managed to wave at her before they were once again distracted with one another. She gathered her things and packed them in her satchel, slinging its strap on her shoulder. She wondered where the second youngest Weasley could be but before she could wander and search about, a thin hallway appeared on the wall in front of her. Hogwarts made her feel safe; she could always trust the enchanted castle, especially since she was one of its two Heirs (the other being Tom Riddle, obviously). After making sure no one was around to see her, she used the new path which led her to the corridor near the clock tower courtyard. She spotted Alyssa sitting by the old ruined fountain and playing with Klaus. Ashley approached the redhead and wordlessly plopped down next to her.

“Mitch and Cedric too much for you?” Alyssa teased without looking up from her familiar.

“Ugh…” Ashley groaned half-heartedly in response.

“Now you know how I feel when I see you with my brothers.”

“Hey, they’re the ones flirting, not me.”

“Right, so you wouldn’t jump them if you got the chance?”

“Hm… I mean if it was an option…”

Alyssa’s head snapped towards Ashley, letting the raven-haired girl see the affronted look on her face.

“Merlin, you should see your face right now. I’m kidding; I’m already soul-bonded. Five would be a crowd.”

“Really, two is enough for you?”

“Oh, shut up.” Ashley chuckled, “Hey, so later tonight-“

“What are you doing here?”

Draco Malfoy came into view, trailed by his two hesitant henchmen. Crabbe and Goyle had decent reasons to feel as blatantly anxious as they looked. The day before, they had staged a poor attempt at intimidation towards Ashley and Alyssa, of all people. The girls, of course, refused to be pushed around. Safe to say, the boys had been left horribly jinxed. Fred and George, feeling protective over their little raven and dear sister, had enjoyed exacting a little revenge of their own as well but that was better left vague. Nevertheless, Crabbe and Goyle learned their lesson.

“Oh, sorry, didn’t know you owned the courtyard, our bad.” Alyssa quipped, rolling her eyes in the process.

“Don’t you have anything better to do, Malfoy? Do you have to be such a nuisance?” Ashley deadpanned.

“Oh, you’re so confident, just ‘cause the Girl-Who-Lived. You’re just a weak, little orphan who got lucky enough to survive. Your Mudblood mother and blood traitor of a father must regret dying for you.”

Before Ashley could retaliate, Moko stuck his head out and hissed threateningly. Judging by the fear in his eyes, Draco clearly recognized the serpent, albeit a smaller version, that terrified him mere days ago. Pulling her wand out, Ashley used this to her advantage and got to her feet with a glaring Alyssa. Draco backed away, expecting to bump into his friends but they had been wise enough to run. Following Ashley’s whispered command, Moko wrapped around her wand as she pointed the tip at the arrogant Slytherin’s face.

“You know nothing about James and Lily Potter, don’t you dare speak about them that way. You can insult me all you want but my parents are off limits unless you plan on being hexed into oblivion.”

Having courage was one thing, being reckless was another thing altogether. Ashley knew better than to duel with someone in broad daylight where any of the professors could see them. Anyway, she didn’t need to waste more time on Draco, not when she knew she could easily beat him if she wanted to. And so, with another angry threat from Moko only she understood, she stepped away and pocketed her wand, letting her familiar slither back under her sleeve. Alyssa shared the same mentality but that didn’t stop her from reproaching the blond. Draco’s whole face flushed as he sunk into himself. There was definitely some kind of tension between the two Slytherins. Ashley really couldn’t escape couples, they were everywhere she went. She shook her as she walked away from them. Moko slipped back out then and wrapped around her neck.

Love is in the air, little one… I can taste it.” To elevate his point, Moko flicked his tongue out.

Yeah? And how does it taste?” Ashley inquired teasingly.

...Sickeningly sweet.

Ashley had to giggle at how repulsed her familiar sounded.

I figured.

You mentioned something about tonight.

I did. You’re coming with me.

Of course… We’re not flying, are we, little one?

No, we’re not. I wouldn’t do that to you. We’re going back to the library to look for books about soul magic in the Restricted Section. Then, I’m taking you to meet Fluffy.

The three-headed dog guarding the stone?

The one and only.

I am not opposed to the idea, but may I ask why?

I just want to visit him; he must be lonely staying in that room every day. A bit of company-keeping won’t be so bad.

Moko nodded and nuzzled against Ashley’s cheek. She smiled and reached up to pet him, ignoring the stares they amassed from the students they passed while they headed for the owlery. Reaching an empty corridor, she no longer questioned the spontaneous door that appeared and confidently walked through it. She arrived at the owlery and dug through her pockets for the treats she brought for her owl. Hooting, Hedwig flew over to her, perching on her raised arm, and accepted the offered food. Ashley affectionately stroked the owl’s feathers before handing the letter over and sending the owl on her merry way. The Potter Heiress fed the leftover treats to Eunice and Zafira before she left the owlery and traveled back to the castle to spend some quality time with her friends. The uncoupled ones at least, Ai and Dominic were at the study hall, occupying themselves with Herbology homework.

Evening came and Ashley waited hours after dinner to ensure that everyone was sound asleep. She grabbed her cloak and secured it over herself and Moko, snatching along the map the twins had lent her and her satchel. She exited through the common room, passing a pair of scheming red-headed twins sitting in front of the fire. Judging by the short glance they spared, they knew she was there. However, they made no move to acknowledge her so she went on her way and stepped outside the portrait. Her first stop was the library.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

With those uttered words and the touch of a wand, the Marauder’s Map activated and revealed its secret contents. Ashley ignored the clusters of names in the dormitories and instead, focused on locating the patrolling teacher of the night. She found that it was Quirrell and that he was luckily nowhere near where she was. It wasn’t like he would see her but it was best that their paths never crossed that night.

Casting Lumos, she headed for the library, making sure to avoid a certain roaming red-eyed cat. She was as quiet as could be while opening the doors to the library. Once in the Restricted Section, she scanned through the titles of each book placed on the shelves. The search took longer than she expected. She was nearly at the verge of leaving it off for the next night but then she spotted a book at the very end of the aisle. The book was fairly thick with a midnight black, dragon hide cover. A locked latch prevented Ashley from opening it and she sensed that any of the unlocking spells she knew would be able to achieve what she wanted.

“Soul Magicks…” Ashley read on the cover, “This is it, Moko. This is exactly what we need.

Excellent. I can only hope that this book contains enough information for the guaranteed success of your plan.

I have a feeling it does. Still, my plan won’t be an easy feat to accomplish, even with the help of this book.

Indeed, it will take time, but we shall manage.

We shall. Now all we need is to learn how to open the latch.

We can postpone that, can’t we? You said you wanted to acquaint me with Fluffy.

Of course, let’s go.

After sticking the book in her satchel, Ashley threw the invisibility cloak back on and left the library, staying clear of Madam Pince. She reached the forbidden third floor corridor with no obstacles whatsoever, no red-eyed cat, and no stuttering, possessed professor. Unlocking the door, she quietly slipped inside the room and removed the item which hid her from sight. Immediately, the three-headed guard dog rose from where he rested and prowled closer. She let him sniff her to regain familiarity. When he was calm and complacent, she placed Moko on the ground and cast Engorgio. Although cautious at first, Fluffy eventually warmed up to the charming serpent. Ashley was leaning back against Fluffy’s side with Moko curled around her when she heard the sound of light footsteps. She didn’t need to check the map to know who the cause of those footsteps was.

The presence of Quirrell hovered just outside the door. Moving fast, Ashley ran to a corner of the room with a Reducio’d Moko and hid underneath the safety of her cloak. A second or so passed until Quirrell opened the door. He was quick to turn paler than he already was. Fluffy stood to his full height and growled at the intruder. Ashley knew Quirrell couldn’t just attack; the risk of alarming someone was too high. Voldemort wouldn’t jeopardize his disguise like that. Even incomplete and insane, he was still too smart for that. As Fluffy stepped forward, Quirrell hurriedly backed away and closed the door. Ashley waited for the footsteps to retreat until she felt safe enough to go back to the dorm. She couldn’t stay in the room any longer. Bidding farewell to Fluffy, she took her leave. She couldn’t anticipate the breakdown she witnessed upon her departure.

Kneeling ways away from her was Quirrell with his head held tightly between his hands. He was muttering under his breath, quite obviously speaking to the face on the back of his head. Ashley briefly wondered whether to show herself or not, to maybe help the distressed professor, but decided against it. However, things did not go as expected. She had to pass Quirrell to exit the corridor and as she did, she stumbled over her own two feet. Cursing internally, she ignored her laughing familiar and turned to face Quirrell who was back on his feet with his wand at the ready.

“Show yourself!” He hissed.

My cover’s already blown so I might as well…

“Professor? It’s just me.” Ashley responded as she took off the cloak.

“Oh, Ms. Potter, what a surprise to see you here. I’m s-sure you are aware that e-entering this corridor is b-banned?”

From his shock, Quirrell almost forgot to add in his stutter. He lowered his wand to appear non-threatening. Ashley didn’t miss the way his tense form softened. She hoped that was a sign of growing fondness for her. After all, she and her friends had been the only ones who hadn’t made fun of his speech complication.

“I’m sorry, Professor, I know I shouldn’t be here but please don’t tell anyone!”

None of the professors can know about this, I can’t lose my points, nor do I want to get detention.

“W-well… You are a-a promising student, Ms. P-Potter. We wouldn’t want this on your r-record. Perhaps I can l-let this slide.”

Oh, thank Merlin… Even at this point, Voldemort’s more considerate than the old goat.

“C-come along, back to your c-common room you go.”

Ashley nodded and folded the invisibility cloak in her arms, following Quirrell up to the seventh floor and to Gryffindor tower. Arriving in front of The Fat Lady’s portrait, she turned to thank the professor for agreeing to keep her third floor trip a secret between them.

“Thank you, Professor.”

Yes, thank you for sparing my little one from detention.

Ever the jumpy man, Quirrell flinched as Moko revealed himself with a comment. Quirrell’s eyes widened almost comically. Ashley figured that seeing her familiar would pique Voldemort’s interest further and that was a good thing. However, there was an ability that would push that interest to its limit.

“I-is that a s-s-snake?” Quirrell hesitantly stuttered out.

“It is. This is my familiar, Moko. I can understand how he speaks but I can’t other animals... Is that normal?” Ashley asked, blinking innocently.

“…P-perfectly so.”

Ashley smiled and watched Quirrell walk away. Once he was out of sight, she entered the common room and noticed that the twins were still seated on the couch. It seemed that they waited for her return. She greeted them and had a short chat regarding how her short expedition went. As their conversation ended, the twins hugged her and trudged to their dorm with her following in suit (to her own room, of course). She deposited her satchel in her trunk and, after double-checking the charms surrounding it, soldiered through her nightly routine. Dressed in her pajamas, she fell back on her bed and raised the still-active map above her. With a sleepy grin, she uttered her last words for the night.

“Mischief managed.”

Chapter Text

Weeks were spent studying, doing homework, earning House points, training for Quidditch, and actively avoiding Dumbledore. It was surreal how time passed by so quickly, but Ashley chose to look on the brighter side of things. Soon enough, she would be with her soul-bonded. No matter how much she thought of that, the excitement of the idea never faltered. She looked forward to the inevitable moment of reuniting with Sirius and Remus every day but that didn’t exactly mean that was all she focused on. There was the fact that the special day of Halloween had arrived and it was time for a big event to play off. However, that event was scheduled for the evening. Ashley had yet to pass through the classes of the day. In fact, she was only experiencing the first subject.

“One of a wizard’s most rudimentary skills is levitation, the ability to make objects fly.” Professor Flitwick announced.

“Do you all have your feathers?”

To answer Flitwick’s question, the students either nodded or raised their feathers.

“Good. Now, uh, don’t forget the nice wrist movement we’ve been practicing, hmm? The swish and flick, everyone.”

“The swish and flick.” The whole class repeated alongside the Charms professor.

“Good, and enunciate. Wingardium Leviosa, off you go then.”

Wingardium Leviosa.”

Ashley flicked her wand confidently, following the given instructions perfectly. The feather she charmed rose elegantly from the table’s surface and high into the air, immediately gaining Flitwick’s attention.

“Oh, well done! See here, everyone! Ms. Potter’s done it!” Flitwick cheered, causing stares to be directed to the lone feather floating.

“How splendid, Ms. Potter. I believe you’ve earned your House five points.”

Ashley beamed thankfully and lowered the feather back to the table. Moko hissed out his own congratulatory comment to which she silently thanked him for. She surveyed the class, searching for the students who needed her help. Ai and Dominic were working together with Maia a few seats away. Next to Neville, the side Ashley wasn’t occupying, Cora and Heaven were close to getting it right. Their wording was fine; it was their movements that were a little too sharp. Ashley figured they’d succeed on their own eventually. She, instead, worked to prevent Seamus’ explosion, which she did. By the end of the class, more than half of the students performed the levitation charm. This portion included Ashley’s group of friends, much to her pride and joy.

The group met up with the Slytherins (Alyssa and Thalia) and Hufflepuffs (Mitchelle and Alexandra) at the far end of the corridor right outside the Charms classroom. They waited for their missing member, Ai, who had gone back to grab the book she forgot. They didn’t expect her to run past them, sniffling with tears rapidly streaking down her cheeks.

“Ai? Ai, wait up!” Dominic called out, rushing after her alongside Heaven.

“What happened to her?” Neville asked, concerned.

“You mean who. I spy with my little eye, a group of smirking cockroaches.” Maia gestured along the corridor.

Standing several feet away were Malfoy and his goons, including Blaise and Pansy. And Maia was right, they were all smirking. Well, most of them still were. Crabbe and Goyle had taken to shrinking back the moment they caught sight of Ashley and Alyssa’s deathly glares. Apparently, the fear the girls induced wasn’t enough to always keep them in check. What a pity…

I guess they’ve earned themselves the spots for Fred and George’s regular targets.

“Oh, them... Honestly, their prejudice against Muggle-borns and half-bloods is so childish.” Thalia scowled.

“Hold my bag for a minute… Malfoy!” Alyssa fumed, handing her bag to Mitchelle before stomping towards her fellow Slytherins with Cora trailing closely.

“Is it a good idea to let her do that? It’s five against one.” Heaven bit her lip.

“The majority of them wouldn’t dare hurt her. Pansy’s the only one who would attack, given her obvious jealousy with the unacknowledged thing between Alyssa and Draco. With that said, Alyssa isn’t the one we should be worried about.” Ashley explained nonchalantly.

She watched the one-sided screaming fest Alyssa had initiated. It would always be so entertaining how Draco got flustered each and every time the only Slytherin Weasley was nearby. Merlin, he was so red, even Blaise was beginning to notice. Speaking of Blaise, Draco wasn’t the only one displaying weird behavior. While Alyssa was scolding Draco (loudly, very loudly), Cora was giving Blaise her own piece of mind. This seemed to both irritate and amuse the boy. However, there was something in his eyes that looked a lot like…interest. It seemed like there would be another unofficial couple roaming the hallways of Hogwarts.

“Right, better leave her to that then. Merlin knows none of us can pull her away until she’s done embarrassing Draco.” Ashley said, shrugging on Alyssa’s bag.

“Speak for yourself; I’m staying in case they start dueling.” Maia grinned wickedly.

“Know what? I kind of want to wait for that.” Alexandra grinned.

“Good luck with that. I doubt Alyssa would let it get that far.” Neville stated.

Maia and Alexandra, true to their word, indeed stayed behind while the group headed for the courtyard. As much as they wanted to go and comfort Ai, they didn’t want to overwhelm her. Having Dominic and Heaven as company would hopefully be enough to calm her down. This theory was proved wrong when Dominic and Heaven came back without her to finish the remainder of their classes. The Golden Trio was reasonably worried, especially when there was still no sign of her returning during Astronomy when it was almost time for dinner. Ai was hiding out in the girls’ bathroom. She knew better than to stay there. Had she forgotten about the troll?

“Ai is still MIA?”

“We’ll go check on her, save us seats in the hall.”

Luckily, Professor Sinistra was kind enough to release them all from class early. Ashley, Alyssa, and Mitchelle dispersed from their friends and went to locate Ai. However, as they were walking down an empty corridor, they encountered the man to blame for the troll they were sure was already in the castle.

“Good evening, Professor.” The trio greeted politely.

“G-good evening, where are you h-headed to?” Quirrell asked.

“The girls’ bathroom.” Mitchelle and Alyssa piped up.

“We’re looking for Ai; we haven’t seen her since Charms. We’re worried something may have happened to her.” Ashley added.

“Well, fear not, I-I’m sure she’ll be alright. O-off to the great hall then.” Quirrell hastily ushered them away.

Ashley saw the clear concern and panic in his eyes, even if they were there just for a fleeting moment. He must have thought the girls would most likely stumble upon the troll, endangering themselves in the process. Flattering, but they had it under control. They were well prepared for the encounter. For him to express even the slightest bit of concern for their well-being, they knew they had achieved the part of their goal that was to get Voldemort attached to them. It helped that they were already quite skilled witches since Voldemort, in his not-so-sane mind state, drifted towards power above all. They had a long way to go but they would help him be whole again. They had the book from the Restricted Section as a guide to that. They’d figured out how to open it (there was a hidden knob on the lock) but they were still translating it since its contents were unfortunately in Latin. It was slow, yes, but at least there was still progress made.

The three girls slid in the seats their friends had saved them at the Gryffindor table. Ashley was wedged in between the twins as per usual while Alyssa and Mitchelle sat side by side between Neville and Cedric. Ashley wished she had a camera with her; the floating Jack-O-Lanterns were utterly magnificent! She hoped she’d be able to have one soon, maybe she’d buy one herself. She would be able to sneak out of the castle just fine, but then how would she be able to go to a Muggle store to buy one? Unimportant for the time being, she shook her head to clear her thoughts. She had other things to worry about. Speaking of those other things…

“Troll! In the dungeon! T-troll in the dungeon!” Quirrell cried as he burst through the doors, ”Thought you ought to know…”

The room was silent as he then passed out. Then, the panic began. The students screamed and scrambled off their seats, speeding towards the doors. Ashley was swept along the frantic crowd but she made sure to stick close to Mitchelle and Alyssa, keeping a hand on one of their arms.

“Silence!” Dumbledore bellowed, effectively putting an end to all the rushing.

“Everyone will please not panic. Now, Prefects will lead their Houses back to the dormitories. Teachers will follow me to the dungeons.”

Like the headmaster ordered, the Houses each lined up and followed their respective Prefects towards the dormitories. Outside the great hall, Ashley trailed behind the Gryffindors, making it easier for her to stray away though the twins made sure to cover her escape. She met up with Mitchelle and Alyssa in an empty corridor near the girls’ bathroom. They crouched behind a corner as they saw the gigantic shadow of the troll.

“You remember the plan, right?”

“Knock it out, simple as that.”

“How?”

“Get its attention, cast the Conjunctivitis Curse, and then hit it with its club.”

“Alright, good.”

Be careful, little one.

I will, I will… Don’t worry, Moko.

Ashley glanced around the corner just in time to see the troll enter the girls’ bathroom. Hearing a loud crash of destruction and a shrill scream of terror, Ashley knew it was time to act. The Golden Trio hurried over to the bathroom, one of them almost tripping in their haste. They burst in and spotted Ai trembling under the sinks while the troll raised its club to attack. Immediately, the girls sent stinging hexes to draw its attention to them, knowing that it wouldn’t affect the creature. As the troll turned towards them, Mitchelle cast the Conjunctivitis Curse, causing its eyes to swell shut. The troll dropped its club as it stumbled back to grab at its eyes. Although never having tried to levitate as heavy an object as the club, Ashley managed it just before it hit the sinks, ultimately saving Ai from being crushed under its weight. However, she had to have two hands on her wand with its swirls glowing brightly with the extra magic she was exerting.

She positioned herself like a batter would in baseball, levitating the club to face the temporarily blinded troll. In one swift motion, Ashley swung her wand, subsequently moving the club to hit the troll directly. The creature fell back, unconscious, taking a wall with it and causing the room to shake for a second or two. Ai, after a moment of shock, crawled from underneath the sinks to huddle with the girls. They hugged each other tightly, comforting the Ravenclaw who was in hysteric tears. Rapid footsteps rang from the corridor, alerting them of the presence of the teachers. McGonagall, Quirrell, and Snape came rushing in, gasping at the sight of the creature and the ruined room.

“Oh my goodness, e-explain yourselves!” McGonagall commanded.

“I, um, we…” The girls, excluding Ai and Ashley, struggled to explain.

Ai was biting her lip, looking guilty, while Ashley eyes were locked on Snape’s injured, bleeding leg. He noticed and covered it with his robe, giving a blank stare instead of a glare. However, his expression couldn’t hide the worry in his eyes. Ashley smiled reassuringly and faced Ai who had just spoken up.

“It’s my fault, Professor.”

“Ms. Hikari?”

“I skipped dinner because I…wasn’t feeling well so I hid in the bathroom. The troll wandered in when I was just about to leave. If the girls hadn’t come and found me…” Ai looked down in shame, her eyes going glossy once more.

“Well… As it was an accident, I will not be taking points from your House.”

Ai sighed in relief and murmured a soft ‘thank you’. Mitchelle placed a comforting hand on her shoulder as Ashley and Alyssa held her hands.

“As for you three ladies, I hope you realize how fortunate you are. Not many students could take on a fully-grown mountain troll and survive. Five points will be awarded to each of you, for your bravery and sheer dumb luck.”

Potter luck, you could say.

The girls could hear the barely concealed pride in McGonagall’s voice despite the strictness she portrayed. She and Snape left the bathroom after that, leaving Quirrell with the quartet of grinning girls.

“P-perhaps you ought to go; i-it isn’t safe here.” Quirrell stuttered.

Agreeing completely, the girls walked out, not missing the angry look the professor shot the troll. The girls stepped into the corridor, pausing to talk to each other.

“Thank you for saving me. I…forgot, that there would be a troll, I’m sorry.”

“Ai, you don’t have to thank us, nor do you have to apologize. What are friends for, right?”

They hugged one last time before heading off to their separate dormitories. Once Ashley was alone, she unexpectedly bumped into the Potions professor who had apparently been waiting for her.

“Ms. Potter.” Snape greeted.

“Professor Snape.” Ashley blinked in surprise.

There was a moment of silence before…

“…Are you hurt?”

“No, Professor, I’m alright.”

“I suggest you visit the hospital wing just in case.”

“Thank you, Professor… I think you should too.”

Instead of replying, Snape nodded and turned away, gliding along the hallway until he could no longer be seen. Smiling, Ashley continued on to her dorm, ready to call it a night after the tiring experience of battling a troll. She would visit the hospital wing in the morning when she was rested.

The Next Day…

St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, London, England

“I’m so sorry for abandoning you, Padfoot.”

“There you go again, Moony. It’s alright. I will tell you time and time again, I forgive you.”

“I don’t know how you can…”

“I love you, Remus. You know that.”

“…I love you too, Sirius.”

Remus leaned in from where he sat on a chair, capturing Sirius’ lips with his. It was a short kiss, one of the many they’d shared ever since their bittersweet reunion. Nevertheless, it was nothing short of passionate and loving. They had a lot of time to make up for. Almost ten years without the other, without their mate. It had been torture, but now they were together again, albeit missing a special someone. Never mind that, they’d see her again, they were sure of that.

“And may I ask what you two are doing?”

They pulled away, Sirius just a tad bit more reluctant, and glanced at the source of the voice. It was Healer Esther Hampton, the Healer that was assigned to Sirius for the duration of his stay. She was a kind woman, jollier than the other Healers with cropped blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Despite the formality the hospital required, she insisted her patients call her by her first name.

“Relaxing.” Sirius quipped, wearing his typical smirk.

“As you should be, Lord Black.” Esther chuckled, “I apologize for my tardiness. I received quite shocking news about Hogwarts from my daughter.”

The two men were instantly alert at that, their minds drifting towards one person only.

“Hogwarts? Did something bad happen?” Remus inquired, his eyebrows furrowing in worry.

“I suppose you should be made aware of this. It seems a troll had managed to sneak inside the castle.” Esther informed, approaching the stunned couple.

“A troll?! Were any of the students hurt?!” Sirius was quick to sit up from his bed.

Oh dear Merlin, please let Bambi be okay… I can’t lose her, I can’t!

“Not that Cora mentioned anyone, no, but she did tell me that Elizabeth Potter, whom she’s friends with, and two other girls saved a student from the troll. What brave souls those girl have.”

Elizabeth Potter… That was her! That was their dearly beloved Bambi, and she had faced a troll…and won! The pride the two men felt was incomparable. Sirius was sure she’d gotten into Gryffindor. What better way to find out than to interrogate Esther? Surely her daughter must have mentioned more about Bambi since they were friends. And Sirius was right; Esther confirmed that Cora wrote about Ashley and their group of friends a lot. The woman retold her daughter’s stories to the two men as she checked over Sirius (who still wasn’t completely sane but being honest, he never really was to begin with, Remus could vouch for that). Ashley had gotten into Gryffindor like they had expected, she apparently had a snake named Moko that she could talk to (their Bambi was a Parselmouth?!), she had gained the title of the youngest Seeker of the century (James would have definitely jumped for joy at that), she was acing all of her classes (how the bloody hell was she Snivellus’ favorite student?!), and she had no House prejudice whatsoever (kind and intelligent, just like her mother). Sirius and Remus were bothered by the fact that they weren’t hearing this from Bambi herself but the indirect information would do until they could.

“Our little Bambi, already such a hero…” Sirius grinned as Esther left.

“I can’t deny how proud I am, but I can’t help but worry. If she’s anything like her father…” Remus trailed off.

“The Potter luck’s made her a danger magnet.” Sirius finished.

“Yes, and imagine that paired with Lily’s temper.”

“That does sound like a destructive combination.”

“Then you understand why I’m worried.”

“Of course I do, but let’s not omit the intelligence she must have inherited from both sides. She’s already proven herself against a troll.”

“Well, I can’t say our Bambi isn’t special.”

“She’s destined for something great, Moony. I just hope we’ll be by her side to witness it.”

Remus chose not to reply but he was definitely confident that they would be. Just a week more and Sirius would be released. Then, they’d be able to visit their Bambi, hopefully before the custody battle they planned for. They’d waited years for her; they could wait a little more.

Chapter Text

Ministry of Magic, Whitehall, London

“What the bloody hell do you mean we’re not allowed to see her?!”

Remus, fighting the urge to let Moony out, had to hold Sirius back from attacking Dumbledore. The same day Sirius was released from St. Mungo’s, he and Remus immediately headed to the Ministry to gain custody for their Bambi. They were asked to wait in the DMLE Head’s office while the Dursleys were summoned. However, the Dursleys, for whatever reason, couldn’t attend the meeting so Dumbledore came to represent them as Ashley’s magical guardian, which was ridiculous all in itself. If the Dursleys really did care for Bambi and wanted to continue caring for her, why couldn’t they be bothered to attend? They had to set their priorities straight. Remus and Sirius had already done that, and their first priority was to bring Ashley back into their lives. How they hated that the wizard they used to look up to stood in the way of that.

Dumbledore had been quick to deny them custody, insisting that she would be happier and, not to mention, safer in the hands of her mother’s relatives. Sirius and Remus were not happy with this, and so they fought for their right over her. Amelia considered this and filed their custody claim but Dumbledore once again acted as an obstacle. During the duration of waiting for the custody to settle, Dumbledore forbade Sirius and Remus from seeing Ashley. Unbeknownst to them, the old bastard had done it in fear of them being able to convince her to come with them, despite the compulsions charms surrounding them, the charms they were seemingly breaking free from or had already broken free from.

“She’s my goddaughter, damn it!” Sirius cursed, glaring fiercely at Dumbledore.

“I understand that you’re upset, Sirius, but please do calm down.” Amelia said in an attempt to appease the raging man.

“Calm down?! You expect me to calm down when we’re being banned from seeing our Bambi?!”

“Sirius, sit down…”

“Sirius, my boy, you have to understand. The child will be safer with the Muggles; the blood wards will protect her from harm. Not only that, but they love her like she’s their own.”

“Do you honestly think we wouldn’t be able to protect her, to give her the love she deserves?!”

“Gentleman, please. We can settle this in a civil way.”

“…I apologize for my behavior but you must know that as Ashley’s godfather, I have the right to take her under my wing. Her parents entrusted Remus and I for that task.”

“I understand that, Sirius, I do, but as Ashley’s current magical guardian and representative for her legal guardians, he has the right to forbid you from seeing her if it truly is for her safety.”

As much as Sirius wanted to protest, he knew Amelia was right. He sighed in defeat and sat back down beside Remus, accepting and holding the hand he offered. They both ignored the almost smug look on Dumbledore’s face. They had to. If not, they wouldn’t have been able to stop themselves from starting a fight that would have surely sent the both of them to Azkaban.

“Now, I will try my best to speed up the process of this custody claim. In the meantime, the three of you will refrain causing any trouble that will affect your chances. Sirius, Remus, I know you disagree with this, but please do your best to try and stay away from Ashley.”

Begrudgingly, Sirius and Remus nodded. With that, they were dismissed. They didn’t spare Dumbledore a single glance as they left and apparated straight to Grimmauld Place. Thankfully, even after years of abandonment, the wards were still keyed to the two of them and the place was spotless. Unfortunately, Kreacher was not happy in the slightest to see them again (more so Sirius than Remus). They paid him and his muttered threats/insults no mind, too caught up in their thoughts regarding their Bambi.

“What do we do now, Moony?” Sirius sulked, plopping down on the couch and pulling his lover down with him.

“What can we do, Padfoot? It’s forbidden to visit her and despite Amelia’s best efforts, I’m sure that the custody claim will take a while to settle…” Remus sighed.

“Damn Dumbledore, damn him!” Sirius yelled, resting his head on Remus’ shoulder.

He was not pouting, he wasn’t! Fine, maybe he was…

“Well, in any case, we should start making this place welcoming.”

“Right, I doubt Bambi would be comfortable living in this hellhole.”

The couple spent days renovating. Rearranging and replacing furniture, getting rid of unwanted objects such as the portrait of Walburga (Kreacher almost had a heart attack, much to Sirius’ morbid amusement); they changed the place to look and feel like the home they wanted their Bambi to have. In less than a week, the dark Grimmauld Place was no longer. In its place was the homely Marauder Mansion. Everything was set for Ashley’s arrival; her bedroom was ready to be used. They were confident enough that they would win the battle against the Dursleys and Dumbledore. They were just mad that they wouldn’t be able to see their Bambi until then.

“Tomorrow’s the first Quidditch match, Bambi’s first Quidditch match. We have to be there, Moony.” Sirius whispered as he cuddled with Remus in their shared bed early in the morning.

“I know, Padfoot. I don’t want to miss more of her life just as much as you, but how are we supposed to attend?” Remus replied groggily.

“We get help.”

Let it be known that Sirius’ smirk was a dangerous thing to see at such a time.

The Next Day…

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scottish Highlands

Anxious and slightly afraid, Ashley couldn’t bring herself to eat, no matter how much her friends and familiar urged she should. The day of her first Quidditch match had finally arrived and she was not at all ready for it. She had trained, yes, very much so, but she still felt unprepared. It was funny, really. She hadn’t felt as nervous when she first met Fluffy, or when she faced the troll. She could have very well died in both situations but in her mindset, Quidditch was more unpredictable. Also, it was a competition. Competitions had always succeeded in making Ashley nervous. She would avoid competing as much as possible back then.

Merlin, I don’t feel well

“Just eat a little bit, Ash.” Ai frowned.

“You need your strength, little raven.” Fred insisted, squeezing her shoulder.

They’re right, little one. Have some toast, I won’t let you starve.” Moko hissed, popping his head out from underneath her sleeve.

I can’t… You guys, I’m really not hungry. I might end up puking if I eat.” Ashley sighed, pushing her plate away.

The twins huffed at that but said nothing more. Ashley may have lied a little, she was indeed hungry, but she was also nauseated. She looked on longingly at Alyssa, who was eating just fine. Ashley sighed and crossed her arms over her rumbling stomach. It wasn’t that bad yet; she could wait to eat until after the game. She was pulled out of her thoughts by Snape approaching the table, demanding immediate attention.

“Good luck, Ms. Potter, Ms. Weasley.” He drawled, “Then again, Quidditch is in your blood so it should be easy for you. Try not to get permanently injured.”

Both girls recognized that as Snape-talk for ‘be careful’. They thanked him and watched him walk away, his limp now barely noticeable. Smiling, Ashley turned to face Alyssa who wore a bright, beaming expression. The redhead was obviously glad that Snape had warmed up to her. It was yet another thing to catch Draco’s interest. Although, Ashley was pretty sure Alyssa already had it. In fact, Draco was currently leering quite obviously. Ashley shook her head at the two, exasperated. A screech suddenly broke through the atmosphere.

“Ash, look!” Cora exclaimed.

She pointed up at Hedwig who was carrying a long package. The snowy white owl glided down elegantly and dropped the package in front of Ashley before flying over to the head table, specifically to McGonagall. There were various exclamations of awe from her friends surrounding her as she unwrapped the parcel and revealed her gift, the Nimbus 2000. A magnificent broom, the newest and fastest model, and it was hers.

“Oh, it’s beautiful…” She breathed out, running a hand along the handle’s polished surface.

“Wait, what’s that?” Neville observed.

He was apparently referring to the rolled up piece of parchment tied neatly to the handle by a red ribbon. Ashley thought it was odd since she supposed that the broom was from McGonagall. What was the note for? With her eyebrows furrowed in confusion, Ashley untied the parchment and was pleasantly surprised by what it contained.

Good luck on your first match, Bambi. You don’t need to worry about winning. You’ve made us both proud either way. Remember to have fun and that we love you very much, and we miss you. We’re sorry we can’t be there for you but we’ll see you soon, we promise.

Your moon & star ♥

“It’s…from Remus and Sirius.” Ashley muttered.

“Really? What’d they say?” Mitchelle asked, leaning forward in her seat.

“I assumed they’d send a longer letter, and much sooner in fact.” Maia commented.

“They said that they love me, and they miss me, but they can’t attend the game…”

Disappointed, Ashley folded the parchment and tucked it into her pocket. She had really looked forward to seeing them, even if just from afar as they sat on the stands. They hadn’t visited like she expected, nor had they written her any type of letter except for the short one she just received. What was keeping them from her? Ashley pouted and leaned against George’s side.

“Cheer up, little raven. They must have a reason for not being able to attend.” He comforted softly.

“And I’m pretty sure that reason is sitting at the head table.” Fred quipped.

Upon seeing the smugness evident in Dumbledore’s eyes, Ashley couldn’t help but agree. It took every bit of her strength to not stand and assault the old man with painful hexes. Moko felt the shift of her emotions and acted accordingly. He hissed angry threats as he slithered out from her sleeve. He raised his head to peek above the table and glared at Dumbledore. Ashley giggled, feeling slightly better, and pushed his head down to avoid drawing attention. The professors were still unaware of her familiar and she intended to keep it that way for the time being.

“Well, whatever that reason is, I think Professor McGonagall helped them, judging from the smile on her face.” Heaven pointed out.

Ashley knew she was right. Who else would have had the power to help Sirius and Remus? Ashley mouthed a small ‘thank you’ to which the Transfiguration professor nodded in acknowledgment. The rest of the meal continued without a hitch. Then, it was finally time to gather at the changing rooms down at the Quidditch pitch. Since Fred and George had gone ahead, Ashley and Alyssa walked together, chatting along the way.

“Good luck, Ash.”

“Good luck, Aly.”

“Slytherin’s gonna win, Potter.”

“In your dreams, Weasley.”

They laughed good-naturedly and hugged before separating to go to their respective changing rooms. After everyone was changed and ready for the game (physically, since Ashley was still in the middle having an internal breakdown), Oliver gathered the team and began giving his pep talk. All the while, Fred and George teased him in low voices, mocking the speech they knew by heart as Ashley attempted to keep her laughing to a minimum. Then they were off, climbing the Quidditch tower to wait by the starting gate.

“Scared, Ashley?” Oliver asked.

“Just a bit, yeah…” Ashley replied, biting her lip.

That’s a lie, I meant a lot…

“That’s alright. I felt the same way before my first game.”

“Did you get hurt?” Ashley asked, even though she already knew the answer.

“Er, I did. I took a Bludger to the head two minutes in, woke up in the hospital a week later.”

That did not make Ashley feel any better. In fact, it made her feel much worse. She didn’t know why the bloody hell she decided to ask. Although the twins were there for her, she missed the presence of her doting familiar. Moko, as mentioned several times before, preferred the ground over the sky so he opted to stay behind with his second favorite person, Neville. The snake did say that he would cheer endlessly. If Ashley heard someone scream ‘snake’, that would apparently be him showing his support on the stands. A fond smile appeared on her face as a picture of him appeared at the front of her mind. What brought her back to reality was the sight of the doors opening. Gulping, she mounted her broom and flew alongside her team mates. Deafening cheers from different Houses greeted them as they zoomed about, the loudest being the ever proud Gryffindors.

Oh no… It’s okay, it’s okay. I can do this. I’m going to make my family proud, even if they’re not here right now. I will win this, or at the very least, survive.

“Hello, and welcome to Hogwarts’ first Quidditch game of the season!” Lee Jordan announced, “Today’s game: Slytherin versus Gryffindor!”

Each player was given the chance to show off for a bit as they were introduced, most especially Ashley and Alyssa since they were the newest, and youngest, additions. Once the introductions were through, they all took their places as they formed a circle mid-air with Ashley hovering the highest. They all looked down at Madam Hooch who would initiate the start of the game.

“Now, I want a nice, clean game from all of you.” She asserted.

Alright, here we go. Let’s hope nobody curses my broom.

Hooch kicked a trunk open, releasing the Bludgers which immediately zoomed out into the air. They were followed closely by the Golden Snitch. The tiny sphere quickly circled each of the Seekers’ head. Ashley had no difficulty keeping up with its pace until it disappeared from her sight. Hooch grabbed the Quaffle from the trunk and…

“The Quaffle is released…and the game begins!”

Angelina was quick to take hold of the Quaffle. From her spot above the rest of the players, Ashley had an amazing view of the game. Despite enjoying watching the dangerous event, she kept a keen eye out for the Snitch and the Bludgers. She couldn’t risk missing the Snitch, nor did she want to get hit by one of the Bludgers. Though, she was sure Fred and George had made it their personal mission to prevent that from happening.

“Angelina Johnson scores! Ten points for Gryffindor!”

Ashley smiled and swiftly avoided the Bludger that came her way.

“Alyssa Weasley takes possession of the Quaffle. Weasley passes to Captain Marcus Flint.”

She watched as Marcus dodged and weaved and shot for the hoops. He practically radiated anger as he glared when Oliver intercepted the ball. Angelina and Katie Bell passed the Quaffle between one another until Angelina eventually scored.

“Another ten points to Gryffindor!”

Ashley straightened at that, knowing that the Slytherins were about to play dirty. Marcus would go after Oliver, she had to prevent that. None of her team mates were getting injured, not if she could do something about it. Spotting the Marcus take a bat from a Beater, she sprang into action. She dashed across and in front of him, nearly knocking him off his broom, stealing his chance to hit the Bludger to Oliver. She smirked at the Slytherin Captain and Chaser as he glared at her. Still, Slytherin managed to score by courtesy of Alyssa.

“Ohhh, a bold save from Potter! And Weasley scores for ten points for Slytherin!”

Ashley narrowed her eyes at Marcus as he motioned for the other Chaser to trap Angelina. She flew over and, wordlessly, Fred followed after, George eyeing them from the sides. It didn’t come as a surprise that he and George already knew what she was planning. With an affirmative nod, she approached the Slytherins. The twins simultaneously hit the two Bludgers towards her. The two iron balls trailed closely behind her as she advanced. She gestured Angelina to fly up before she took a sudden drop, successfully making the Bludgers hit the Slytherins.

“Yet another save from Potter, taking down two Slytherins at once! Looks like Gryffindor got lucky with its member this year!”

The Gryffindor students cheered loudly at Ashley’s move. Sending Alyssa an apologetic smile, she got out of the crossfire of players. She searched the area discretely, not wanting to give away anything to Slytherin Seeker Terrence Higgs. Her eyes caught the glint of gold and she immediately sped after it.

“Seems like Potter has spotted the Snitch, and so has Higgs!”

She was neck-in-neck with Terrence as they pursued the Snitch. She rammed against him and rolled out of the way as he went to reciprocate. She blocked the elbow coming her way and held on tightly to her broom as the Snitch dove. They followed it closely, the risk of danger increasing the closer they got to the ground. Eventually, Terrence backed out but Ashley did not. She took a deep, much-needed breath and pulled on her broom to continue following the Snitch as it took a sharp turn forward.

“Such a risky play from Potter! Might I say, she might be the best Seeker I’ve seen, truly spectacular for someone so young.”

She nearly growled as the Snitch rose higher into the air. Pulling her broom upwards, she reached out for the Snitch, her hand almost closing around it, and then…Bam!

“Ooh! There goes Potter and Weasley!”

The wind whipped past Ashley’s ears as she fell backwards, a scream ripping itself out of her throat. She fished her wand out of her robe’s inner pocket and, without thinking, cast the levitating charm on Alyssa to save her from the fall. Ashley’s back hit the ground with a thud. She struggled to regain the air that was knocked out of her lungs. The ground was soft, why was the ground soft? A question for another time, Ashley decided. She lowered her wand, setting the redhead Chaser down safely. Wheezing, the Potter Heiress then raised the clenched fist she rested over her heart. She opened her palm, revealing the Golden Snitch.

“She’s got the Snitch! Ashley Potter receives a hundred and fifty points for Gryffindor!” Lee rejoiced.

“Gryffindor wins!” Hooch announced, blowing her whistle.

Ashley ignored the crowds in favor of recovering her breath. She had been lucky enough to not have gotten injured severely and to not have died. Sitting up, she accepted the hand Alyssa, who recovered much faster, offered. The two girls hugged while the raven-haired girl still panted heavily.

“Ash, are you okay?” Alyssa pulled back, looking over Ashley in concern.

“..That was terrifyingly exhilarating!” Ashley exclaimed, giggling almost hysterically.

“Ha, congrats! Good game, Ash, and thanks for the save.” Alyssa laughed, hugging her once more.

The other players landed and surrounded them, asking for their well-being and congratulating Ashley along the way. Fred and George rushed to check both girls, worrying exceedingly. From what the twins could see, Ashley only had a few minor scratches and nothing more. Relieved, they picked her up and placed her on their shoulders as the Gryffindors from the stands came down and crowded them.

“You did it, you did it!” The twins praised.

“We always knew you could,-”

“-we couldn’t have won without you,-”

“-our talented little raven!”

Even as she was honored and glorified, Ashley’s heart lacked the full joy of the situation. She wondered what it would have been like if only her family had been there to see her victory, utterly oblivious to the couple sitting next to McGonagall on the stands. Proud grey eyes, along with a pair of warm brown orbs, watched her from afar, wanting nothing more than to be standing right next to her. They had been the ones to cast the cushioning charm that thankfully prevented their beloved Bambi from getting hurt. As painful as it was to be so far away, the smile she had on her face completely brightened their day. It gave them the strength and patience they needed. They’d be together soon enough.

After changing, Ashley found herself in the hospital wing instead of the Gryffindor common room where the House was celebrating the win. She wanted to be there but the twins immediately took her to Madam Pomfrey, declaring that she needed to rest. Ashley protested but was given no other choice. Though, she couldn’t really complain much. The bed was quite comfortable and she had Moko to keep her company. The snake refused to leave her side (he denied it when Neville said that he almost cried upon seeing her fall). Pomfrey was surprised, to say the least, to see him but she calmed down when Ashley explained that he was her familiar.

“Ms. Potter? You have a visitor.” Pomfrey informed Ashley only minutes into her stay.

“Hello, Ms. Potter. I am Madam Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.” Madam Bones seated herself on the chair beside Ashley’s bed.

“Oh,” Ashley blinked, “hello. If you don’t mind, I prefer to be called Ashley.”

“Alright, Ashley then, you may call me Amelia. I arrived in time to watch part of the game. You’re quite skilled.” Amelia smiled.

“Thank you.” Ashley smiled sheepishly.

“Now I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m here. This is about your godfather and his partner-“

“Sirius and Remus? I know them, of course I do.”

“I was informed that the last time you saw them, was when you were only a year old. How in Merlin’s name do you remember them?”

“I have great memory, Madam Bones.”

“Ah, well, that’s fortunate then. You see, they want to gain custody over you. However, the Dursleys and Dumbledore, as your guardians, deny them that. Dumbledore has actually forbade them from seeing you.”

Oh, how dare he?! He does not hold power over me, I won’t let him! I will see Sirius and Remus again whether he wants me to or not.

Anger bubbled up inside Ashley, affecting her powers. It took a great bit of effort to keep her magic in check, along with Moko. The snake was just about ready to hunt Dumbledore down. Thankfully, Amelia paid Moko no mind, letting him curl around Ashley’s neck protectively.

“Wait, don’t I get a say?”

“Of course you do. That is why I’m here. I want your opinion on this, dear. Do you want to stay with the Dursleys?”

“No, I don’t! I want to stay with Sirius and Remus.”

“You seem adamant on that. Is there any particular reason why?”

Oh Dumbledore, I will drag you down inch by inch, starting with this.

“They…hurt me.” Ashley’s voice came out hesitant and fearful.

“Hurt you? What?” Amelia simply looked horrified.

“The Dursleys, t-they hurt me… They starve me, they beat me, t-they insult me and my parents, they even make me live inside a cupboard! I don’t want to go back! Please don’t make me!” Ashley begged, tears in her wide, innocent eyes.

She may have been acting, dramatically with the tears, but she was not lying. She guessed that fact helped with her execution of the whole thing.

“Dumbledore claimed that your relatives took care of you, treated you like their own. How could he have missed this?”

“Missed it? What do you mean?”

“As your magical guardian, it’s his duty to make sure you were safe in the Dursleys’ hands.”

Dumbledore, such irresponsibility! Let’s see how you fare with the doubts of the DMLE’s Head.

“B-but… He never checked up on me… I never saw him until I went here…”

“Is that right?”

“You don’t believe me…” Ashley appeared downcast; as if she took Amelia’s narrowed eyes the wrong way.

“No, no, I do. What you’ve told me is crucial to the custody claim; this information about your relatives can increase Sirius and Remus’ chances. We could also file a case against you relatives for child abuse.”

“How do we do that? I doubt everyone would believe me.”

“You’d be surprised,” Amelia smiled, “but there is a way to present proof. With your consent, I can use a spell to duplicate your memories of the abuse you’ve suffered in your relatives’ hands.”

Ashley was well aware of all that… But would she do it? And with her shield, could she?

“What do you want to do, Ashley?”

What did Ashley want? She knew what she wanted. She wanted Sirius and Remus, she wanted Dumbledore to suffer and die (painfully, if that was an option), and she wanted revenge on those who hurt her. But she already had plans for the Dursleys, albeit illegal ones… Would she compromise her plans to go down the straight and narrow route? Moko would be oh so disappointed. Ashley had promised back then that he’d be able to consume at least one of her relatives. He was so excited too. Well, things didn’t always go as planned. Ashley could begrudgingly adjust. She would just have to make it up to her familiar some other way.

“You can use my memories, to help Sirius and Remus… I just want to be with them again.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do. Hold still now and think of the specific memories.”

Amelia raised her wand and conjured a flask before placing the tip of her wand against Ashley’s temple. Amelia moved the wand away and wisps of silver, Ashley’s memories, connected to it. It was odd; the feeling of someone messing around in her head, but Ashley soldiered through. Luckily for her, nobody was allowed in without her consent. Amelia locked the memories inside the flask and bid the Gryffindor farewell, apologizing for not being able to stay longer. Ashley couldn’t blame her. With a job like Amelia’s, her schedule was obviously going to be full. Before she left though, Ashley extended her magic to protectively encase the DMLE Head’s mind. Now worn out, Ashley fluffed her pillow and relaxed against it.

Rest well, little one. You deserve it.

The Potter Heiress smiled as Moko nuzzled the side of her neck. Closing her eyes, she drifted off to sleep, dreaming of the vivid figures of a black, Grim-like dog running beside a werewolf.

Chapter Text

Marauder Mansion, Borough of Islington, London

“Oh Remus…”

“I’ll be alright, Padfoot. It’s nothing I haven’t gone through before.”

Remus attempted to smile reassuringly but the discomfort of his condition made it look like a grimace instead.

“Well, now that I’m here, you’ll never have to face this alone again.”

That was a promise Sirius intended to keep until he took his very last breath. It was the night of a full moon and it seemed that it was bound to be agonizing for his lover. The effects of Remus’ curse were currently worse than what Sirius had been used to. Turning a sickly pale, Remus looked significantly older than he really was with how weak and exhausted he felt. He had been forced to endure countless miserable nights alone, not one friend there to help ease the pain of his transformation. Sirius figured that was the reason why the man was hurting more. There was also the added stress of the custody claim. It was taking far too long and Dumbledore was nowhere close to backing down.

“Are you sure you want to stay inside? I can accompany Moony, I’ve missed running as Padfoot.” Sirius admitted, brushing back a lock of Remus’ hair from his forehead.

They were seated in front of the warm fire, huddled together on the plush couch. Remus was leaning his whole weight against Sirius, not that the Animagus minded, not at all. Sirius was willing to do anything to make up for the years that they were separated and they benefited from the close contact. They needed the constant reassurance of the other’s presence; both were more than a little touch-starved. Remus now feared abandonment and Sirius may have mostly recovered from the hell-on-earth that was Azkaban but the trauma was ingrained deeply in his mind. They would never have the hollowing, all-consuming feeling of loneliness ever again if they could help it.

“No... You know that despite the Wolfsbane, Moony’s been rather…difficult lately.” Remus said, frustrated.

It was quite strange, actually. Sirius had obviously expected Moony to be more active since the wolf was closer to the surface during the full moon but Moony had been a different type of restless the whole day. Consequentially, Remus had to bear headaches and sudden bursts of anger/mood swings. Sirius was definitely confused; Remus didn’t know what was going on either. As far as they could remember, Moony had never acted that way before. He was usually calm as long as one of his pack mates was around, especially his mate.

“I’d rather stay here, alone with you. At least that way, I won’t be able to hurt anyone in case...” Remus trailed off with a sigh.

Sirius knew that wasn’t exactly the greatest idea since Moony loved being out in the wilderness and having the space to run free. However, Remus could be so stubborn sometimes and Sirius didn’t want to argue with his lover in his weak physical state. Sirius nodded begrudgingly and helped Remus stand and strip, knowing it was almost time for the transformation. Remus backed away and readied himself for the inevitable excruciating pain that was coming. However, he couldn’t anticipate his wolf urging his magic to act out. He wasn’t transforming, not yet, but there was still an odd constricting feeling in his chest. He felt as if his heart and lungs were burning up.

Something’s wrong! Remus panicked internally.

“Remus?! Remus!”

Alarmed, Sirius watched as Remus struggled to stay on his feet, wide-eyed and clutching a clenched fist to his chest. The werewolf’s eyes were flickering between warm brown and blazing amber. What was happening to him? He had taken Wolfsbane, had the potion not been brewed right? Had Kreacher somehow tampered with the potion? If he did, Sirius was going to murder that house-elf, damn the consequences! Remus was currently distressed, nothing else was more important than figuring out why (except Bambi, obviously).

“S-Sirius...”

Groaning, Remus fell forward, prompting Sirius to catch him before he reached the ground. Not knowing what else to do, Remus let his instincts take over his mind, and with it, his magic. He felt the familiar tug of apparating, sending him to the place Moony was calling out for and taking Sirius with him.

Remus wrenched himself away from Sirius and fell to the forest floor, back hunched as he growled. The moonlight weaving through the through the tree leaves illuminated the transition from man to wolf. Sirius waited for Moony to get his bearings together before he dared to take a step towards him. Leaves crunched under Sirius’ shoe, gaining the wolf’s undivided attention.

“Missed me, love?” The Animagus smirked.

Moony whined and nudged his head against Sirius’ stomach but did nothing else. Sirius stared on in confusion as the wolf sniffed the air, searching for a particular scent. Moony howled and laid on the floor, waiting for Merlin knows what. Sirius, although not knowing what was happening, kneeled and comforted the sulking wolf. Minutes later, Moony froze and suddenly took off running west. Sirius immediately shifted into Padfoot and followed after his mate, his focus too to scattered be aware of the familiar grounds they were on.

Hours Earlier…

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scottish Highlands

Ashley strained to keep the sweet smile on her face as she stood near the entrance of her dormitory. She hoped her eye wasn’t twitching. She didn’t want to reveal any of the vexation that had been building up inside of her since after the morning feast. Dumbledore had coincidentally been in the same places as her the whole entirety of the day, subtlety hinting about the Mirror of Erised. She knew why, he was getting impatient. He had received no recent news of her searching for the Philosopher’s Stone like he wanted her to and he wanted to give some sort of incentive. It wasn’t like she was avoiding the third floor. She actually visited Fluffy on occasion but she made sure to leave no evidence of her presence there. She had other priorities to attend to, like the book she was still translating. So far, she hadn’t found any spells or potions that would assist Voldemort’s Horcrux situation. She honestly thought of learning a spell that would translate the book for her. Surely there was such a thing that existed; she just had to find it.

You know, I could make sure he leaves us alone…permanently.” Moko offered nonchalantly as Dumbledore finally left them alone.

Not today, Moko.” Ashley giggled, soothing the irritated snake.

She appreciated his sentiment but if she let him go anywhere near Dumbledore; Moko would be the one hurting. She didn’t want that, no way would she let her familiar suffer in the hands of the old goat. They couldn’t attack Dumbledore directly, not yet. They weren’t strong enough; they had a long way to go. Ashley would wait until her magic matured and she had formidable allies by her side, which would be when she turned the Wizarding World against the Dumbledore. There was progress to that, albeit not much, but every little thing counted.

For the remainder of the afternoon, Ashley pondered over whether she would really do what Dumbledore wanted and look for the mirror. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that there were no disadvantages to the action. In fact, if she complied, Dumbledore would probably, hopefully, stop pestering her. That would a breath of fresh air considering how much she resented him. Being near him was harrowing. So, with her mind made up, she waited until curfew to explore the castle.

Underneath the invisible protection of her cloak, she strolled through silent corridors with the Marauder’s Map in her hands until she reached the one where Snape once cornered Quirrell, or would corner him. Events were happening a little earlier than the original timeline but that was fine, she could adjust. She folded the map and stuffed it into her pajama pants pocket before going through the door. Folding the cloak in her arms, she slowly approached the large mirror in the center of the room, fully aware of the figure hiding beneath the shadows in a way that was definitely not creepy.

I show not your face but your heart’s desire.

She stood in front of the mirror, patiently waiting for whatever would appear. She was quite curious. There were few things she really longed for in life. She wondered which one would be the one she desired the most. However, she couldn’t say that she was surprised when two men, one with midnight black hair and piercing grey eyes, the other with light brown hair and soft brown eyes, faded in from behind her reflection. Both men wore identical fond expressions as they wrapped their arms around her. It was a heart-warming sight to look at, even though it hurt to know that it was only an illusion.

Remus, Sirius, my soul-bonded… Of course, they’re all I could ever really want.

“Do you know what that is, Ashley?”

Ashley didn’t flinch, she didn’t look back either. She barely acknowledged the voice that spoke up. It was about time the creeper did. Ashley kept her eyes on the mirror, focusing on the love evident in Sirius and Remus’ eyes instead of the hate she had reserved for (mostly) Dumbledore. It was a good thing Moko had decided to stay behind to sleep. Ashley doubted her familiar would be able to hold his tongue and prevent himself from commenting about Dumbledore’s stalking.

“No, Headmaster…” She answered, innocent and unsure.

Her magic sensitivity made her aware of the old wizard’s movements nearing towards her. Maybe she should have convinced Moko to come along with her late night adventure. His presence surely would have helped her keep her temper at bay.

“Tell me, my dear, what do you see?”

“M-my parents…but that shouldn’t be possible.”

“In the world of magic, most things are possible.”

That’s one thing he’s right about. Most things are possible, including taking you down.

“You have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised. Let me give you a clue on what it does. The happiest man on earth would look into the mirror and see only himself, exactly as he is.”

“It shows what we want the most?”

“Clever girl... Yes, it shows nothing but the innermost desires of our hearts. You heart yearns to have known your family and so, you see them with you.”

Ashley nodded understandingly and lowered herself to the ground, pulling her knees up to her chest and resting her chin on top of them. Her soul-bonded in the mirror followed after her, sitting close enough for her to feel their phantom touches. She spared Dumbledore no glance when he moved to stand behind her.

“…Can you tell me more about them? My parents, I mean.”

She wanted to know what he would tell her. Would he be genuine? That was doubtful. Would he say that they were close? That was more likely. Or, would he goad her into fighting Voldemort like they did? That was surely what would happen.

“What would you like to know?”

“Anything really… What were they like?”

“Your parents were brilliant students. They were kind and considerate people, and both were very brave. They fought fiercely during the war with Voldemort, who I assume you already know of. Nothing was more important than defeating him in order to give you a safe world to grow up to.”

How predictable, that was nothing less than what Ashley had expected. Mentioning the war was such an obvious plot to trigger a hate for Voldemort. If only her parents had known the truth… That the real enemy was the man they trusted the most, the man who let them die for the apparent greater good. It was a sickening thought to think about. Her parents’ deaths could have been easily prevented if Dumbledore had been careful and chose a private place to host Trelawney’s interview. Honestly, Ashley wouldn’t be surprised if he had done that on purpose. The prophecy was even practically useless at this point since she did not intend to battle Voldemort in any way.

She listened half-heartedly as Dumbledore drilled on more about her parents for a bit before giving a speech about the dangers of the mirror. She knew the magical artifact wouldn’t actually be moved someplace else, at least, someplace outside of the castle. It fed Dumbledore’s ego too much. Eventually, Ashley couldn’t take it anymore and faked a yawn, calling it in for the night. She went back to her dorm and carefully slipped into her bed to not disturb the sleeping snake. She shut her eyes and snuggled into the covers. Just as she was dozing off, a distant howl erupted from afar. Her gaze snapped towards the open window which gave the overview of the Forbidden Forest. A spark, an indescribable warm feeling, ignited within her soul. The sign of the recognition of a missing part, seeking the bond long suppressed…

“Moony…?”

Ashley climbed out of bed and rushed to retrieve her cloak from her trunk. Breathing fast with her heart thumping loudly against her chest, she held little to no concern as to who she woke up in her haste to find her soul-bonded. Moko stirred and raised his head, wondering what had her moving so quickly in the middle of the night.

Little one, what are you doing?” Moko questioned drowsily.

There… There was a howl, Moony’s howl.” Ashley explained, I don’t know how I know that but…I assume it has something to do with the soul bond.

Moony was there, in the Forbidden Forest, and she was sure Padfoot wasn’t far behind. They were looking for her, they had to be. Why else would they be near the school? If Moony had needed to run about, he and Sirius could have gone to the forest near Grimmauld Place. Ashley crouched beside her bed to pick Moko up and lay him around her shoulders. They talked as she bounded out of the dorm.

Are you absolutely positive it’s Moony? I trust you but I won’t let you walk into danger like just like that.

I am, don’t worry. Anyway, I have you to protect me, don’t I?

Yes, of course… But Moony wouldn’t attack us, right?

He won’t, I’m his cub, and you’re my familiar.

Well, I could always go for a late dinner. Shall we?

We shall.

Ashley couldn’t wait any longer. The moment of reuniting with her soul-bonded was nearing; it filled her with joyful anticipation. Slowly but surely, she quickened her pace, up to the point where she was running as fast as her legs could carry her. Her magic unexpectedly flared, blanketing both her and her familiar. They found themselves amidst tall trees and dark shadows. In her shock, Ashley belatedly realized that she had accidentally apparated. Accidental apparition was indeed a rare thing but she could celebrate later. First and foremost, she needed to find her Moony and Padfoot.

Little one? If you don’t mind, would you kindly make me bigger?

Oh, here, I’ll let you down.

Ashley tucked the cloak in her arms and placed Moko on the ground. She reached for her wand, prompting her to remember that she had left her wand behind. She cursed her own stupidity but she refused to turn back. She could cast a few wandless spells to protect herself if the need arose, and she now had a large boa constrictor with her. She wasn’t entirely helpless. So, she soldiered on. Moko slithered next to her feet as they searched. Both were cautious as they wandered, noticing when Ashley sensed the presence of the many creatures of the forest. Luckily for her, none of them seemed keen on attacking. It almost seemed like they were fascinated with her. She pushed the thought to the back of her head and eventually, she and Moko arrived at the border of a small clearing.

Ooh, is that a rat I see?

Ashley giggled as Moko left to chase his meal. She walked to the center of the clearing and sat down, glancing around for any sign of her soul-bonded. They were close, but the forest had a whole magical signature of its own and it confused her senses. She had almost lost hope by the time the sound of rustling bushes rang out. She would have immediately taken a defensive position if not for the way her magic seemed to reach out for the cause of the noise. Standing up, she held her breath as a single figure emerged from the tall shrubbery.

Wild amber eyes met glossy Killing Curse green ones, both flashing purple. Tears streamed down Ashley’s face uncontrollably as she covered her mouth with her hand to muffle a sob, dropping the cloak in the process. The onslaught of intense emotions overwhelmed her greatly. Upon seeing his crying cub, Moony whimpered, thinking that she was afraid of him. He approached slowly and was shocked when she met him halfway. Not that he was complaining. He was very much happy to have his cub back into his arms and clinging to him tightly. Never mind that she was smearing tears into his fur.

A dark canine stepped out from the forest background, halting in his tracks when he saw his mate embracing someone. Once he recognized just who that someone was, he turned human and called out. Ashley opened her eyes, not realizing that she had closed them in the first place, and gasped. Stunned grey eyes flashed purple as another was connection formed. Ashley would have ran to the Animagus if it weren’t for Moony who simply refused to let her go. Sirius acted in her place and hurried over, nearly tripping over his own feet. He dropped to his knees and pulled her close, sobbing in relief. Moony hovered over them, content that his pack was now finally intact.

“Ashley, my darling Bambi…” Sirius whispered vehemently, “I’ve missed you so much…”

Ashley missed him too, him and Remus. Words couldn’t properly express how much. She had never felt so…whole before. The missing pieces to her puzzle, her mates were with her once more. With that said, her magic core was thriving from being around her soul-bonded. She didn’t have to do anything, her magic moved on its own accord. She felt it the moment her skin connected with both Sirius and Moony. Her magic had wrapped around the three of them protectively, combining their magic together and fulfilling the bond. It didn’t matter that they were on the ground, they were reunited and they were right where they belonged. Ashley was home at last, they all were.

“You’re here, you’re actually here!” She cried, still somewhat in disbelief.

She grounded herself with Sirius’ scent as she buried her face in the crook of his neck. Both of them were sobbing quite badly while they were wrapped in each other’s arms but neither one cared. Sirius pulled back just enough to see his Bambi and peppered her face with kisses. She giggled as Moony nudged them, not wanting to be left out.

“…You remember us?” Sirius asked, realizing what she had implied.

“How could I ever forget?” She responded with a tearful smile.

Sirius sniffled at that and hugged her to his chest again, tucking her head underneath his chin. He couldn’t help but take note of the fact that she fit perfectly in his arms. And that was only right, wasn’t it? Ashley was his pup, his Bambi, his and Moony’s. Of course she would fit well with them. It had been the three of them from the start. No length of separation would be able to change that fact.

“Look at you… Oh, look at you, absolutely gorgeous!” Sirius cooed as he leaned back on his heels and held Ashley at arms’ length.

“Like mum, right? Lots of people have told that me that I have her eyes.”

It was a bit surprising when Sirius stayed silent. He studied Ashley carefully, most especially her eyes. It made her nervous but she resisted the urge to squirm under his intense gaze. However, she could not stop the blush that overtook her cheeks. Sirius cupped her face and leaned closely, narrowing his eyes in concentration. Her eyes were green like Lily’s, that was true, but Lily’s had never been as bright, or as expressive. Ashley’s eyes were the same shade as the Unforgivable that killed her parents. And there was this…fire within her eyes, an immeasurable power hidden to those who weren’t looking for it. Sirius knew if he gazed for too long, he’d end up sucked into a whirlpool of her magic.

“You do resemble Lily but… Your eyes are much different.”

Ashley blinked. That was all Sirius said, he didn’t explain further. Ashley shrugged it off and cuddled into her godfather’s chest. She was leaning sideways against him with his arms still wound tightly around her and Moony’s head resting on her lap. Ashley rambled aimlessly, recounting the things she’d done with her friends. Sometime during this, Moko came back and settled nicely in the group (even though at first, Moony almost attacked him and Sirius was shocked hearing Parseltongue). Sirius went next, informing her about the renovations they made on Grimmauld Place (now the Marauder Mansion), their participation during her first Quidditch game (they were very proud of her), and the slow progress of the custody claim.

“I’m sure it won’t be long now!” She assured, “Madam Bones interviewed me after my first Quidditch match. She knows I can’t go back to the Dursleys.”

Can’t go back? What do you mean?”

“Well…”

“Bambi?”

“I don’t think I should tell you. I really don’t want you to go back to Azkaban.”

Frowning, Sirius felt dread settle in his heart. What evil could the Dursleys have done to earn his wrath? The Blacks were well-known for being mad. Deny as he might, Sirius knew that he had never been an exception to that, but he at least had self-control most of the time, which was more than he could say about the majority of his relatives. He wouldn’t risk Azkaban after spending almost ten years there for something he was framed for. Now the question was… What the bloody hell had the Dursleys done to his and Remus’ Bambi?

“Well now you’ve made me nervous.”

He spotted the hesitation in Ashley’s eyes and decided to approach the situation another way.

“Okay, I understand you don’t want to talk about it. But can you answer one question for me? Just one.”

“Sure!”

“…Are they the reason why you don’t look as healthy as you should be? Bambi, you’re so small for an eleven year old.”

Sirius had always been known to be observant. Although, Ashley had hoped he wouldn’t notice the effects on her body her mistreatment had paved the way to. But she had to give him an answer. He’d persist otherwise. Ashley just had to make sure he didn’t know where the Dursleys lived until they were carted off to Azkaban for abuse. Make no mistake, she still held a grudge over them, nothing had been forgiven. She’d exact her revenge during the Azkaban break-out Voldemort would eventually lead.

She was brought out of her thoughts by Sirius pulling her into another hug. She clutched onto the front of his robes, comforting him in an attempt to put a stop to his ‘I’m sorry’ mutterings. They stayed in that position for a while until Moony whined. They turned to face him and found him ambling back towards the forest. Sirius smiled, seemingly knowing where the wolf wanted to go, and held Ashley’s hand as he followed the wolf. She went back for the cloak though, she couldn’t risk leaving it behind for someone else to find (of course, Sirius was surprised to see it).

“You trust Moony, don’t you?”

“Yes… Why?”

Ashley’s question was answered when she was plucked from the ground and placed on Moony’s back. She had just enough time to cling to his neck before he took off. The cool wind whipping past her face was exhilarating, as it always was. It reminded her of whenever she flew on her broom. She couldn’t say the same for Moko who was wrapped around her wrist, back to his smaller form. The snake really did prefer slower movements unless he was striking his meal. A second later, Padfoot was running beside them, his bark coming off as laugh-like. They zoomed through the forest until they stumbled upon a giant obstacle. At least, that’s what Ashley thought it was. They had reached the edge of the forest where a rock wall stood. But there was something there… Ashley felt it.

“Siri?” She frowned, giving the Animagus a confused glance.

Having shifted back, he ushered her to stand in front of the wall. She narrowed her eyes, sensing the spells that had been cast. With encouragement from Sirius, she raised her hand to touch the wall. She was pleasantly surprised when her hand went through the illusionary solid surface. Mindful of her surroundings with her magic on full alert, she advanced and gasped at what she saw on the other side.

It was a cave, a spacious one that looked more like a common room than what it actually was. A kind of primitive Gryffindor common room, courtesy to the Marauders, Ashley supposed. Red and gold banners were hung on the walls presenting the Gryffindor crest, along with a handful of Quidditch and Weird Sisters posters, and torches. A simple queen-sized bed rested against one wall off to the side. In the middle of the area, two couches paralleled to one another enclosed a campfire. The fire and the torches had automatically been lit the moment Ashley stepped inside. She knew, however, that either object was not enough to warm the whole space so she figured there were charms in place for that.

“What is this place?” She wondered out loud.

“A cave we found during our Hogwarts days. This was someplace we could escape the reality of war from.”

Sirius gained this distant look in his eyes, most likely remembering the days of the past because even amidst all the chaos of violence, things were somehow easier. All he had to think off back then were passing his classes and pranking Hogwarts’ inhabitants. The Marauders were one, a unity of four brothers. Now, two were dead; one murdered by a Dark Lord alongside his wife, the other Kissed by a Dementor. They hadn’t deserved such a fate (James and Lily, not Peter). Though, Sirius didn’t have complaints about his current situation. He was a free man, living with his mate and hopefully with his pup as well in the near future. He only wished James and Lily could have survived in order to have seen their daughter grow into the amazingly brilliant girl she was.

Ashley sat on the bed cross-legged, laughing at the sight of Padfoot and Moony play-wrestling on the floor. She fell back on the mattress and stared wistfully as the ceiling; fingering the charm bracelet Sirius returned to her (it was heart-warming to know that he had kept it all along). It was nice getting away from school, however grand the opportunity to study there was. And there was the added bonus of being away from the other students and their barely concealed stares. Ashley hadn’t felt that relaxed in a long while. If only she had the ability to pause time, just for a bit, to stay with her soul-bonded for more than a night because eventually, she needed to return to the castle.

A bitter farewell, she sniffled and refused to let go of Sirius’ robes as they embraced. She didn’t want to leave, though she knew she had to. She didn’t feel that bad about not wanting to though. Sirius himself was quite obviously struggling to keep his tears from falling. Moony was also not very happy. He was clawing at Ashley’s shirt, desperate to get her to stay. She wanted to, oh how she did, but it was well past midnight already. She had to get back to her dorm but she had one last question for Sirius.

“Siri…?”

“Yes, Bambi?”

“I… Why haven’t you sent any letters?”

There was confusion in both Ashley’s and Sirius’ eyes at that point.

“What do you mean? Moony and I have been sending letters every few days, even when I was in St. Mungo’s. We thought you chose not to reply to any of them.” The Animagus frowned, furrowing his eyebrows.

“Someone’s been intercepting them then…” Ashley concluded, her anger beginning to set in.

“And I think I know who the bloody hell is doing it.” Sirius glowered darkly.

Dumbledore just can’t control himself, can he? He just can’t help but meddle into other people’s business.

“Enough about that, I’ll end up cursing someone at this rate… You know, I’m still shocked you remember so much.”

“I have a great memory.” Ashley shrugged, using the same excuse she gave everyone else that asked or commented.

“The best, I’d say.” Sirius teased.

He then sighed and guided Ashley back outside the cave. Moony trailed behind them, silently sulking. Sirius grabbed hold of him and Ashley at the same time before apparating to a spot near Hagrid’s hut but still hidden within the trees. After apologizing to the grumbling wolf (he much preferred running in that state), Sirius placed his hands on Ashley’s shoulders and bent down to place a kiss on her forehead, right on her scar. A soft shudder shot down her spine as the action made her soul and magic sing with joy.

“I’ll miss you…” She murmured, putting as she gazed into Sirius’ enchanting grey eyes.

“I’ll be upset if you won’t.” He smirked, earning a slap on the stomach.

“I’ll miss you as well, Bambi. So will Moony, even though he can’t say it right now.”

“I know.”

With a few last hugs and kisses from her beloved moon and star, Ashley garnered enough strength to step away.

“I love you, Siri. I love you, Moony.”

“We love you too, Bambi. Never forget that, okay?”

“I won’t. We’ll be together again, soon.”

“Soon.”

Throwing her cloak over head, Ashley disappeared from sight, leaving her soul-bonded mates with only each other and the odd sense of incompletion.

Chapter Text

Ministry of Magic, Whitehall, London

"It is settled then. The full custody and guardianship of Elizabeth Ashley Potter goes to Lord Sirius Orion Black and Remus John Lupin."

Relief flooded Sirius and Remus' veins as they sunk into their seats. They'd done it; their Bambi would be coming home with them. They hadn't been sure they would succeed. Halfway through the trial, Dumbledore already had almost the entire Wizengamot firmly on his side, especially so when he revealed that Remus, as a werewolf, was a credible liability to Ashley's safety. Moony nearly came out at that (how dare the old coot say that he would ever hurt his cub?), but Remus held him back. Remus couldn't jeopardize the goal of gaining the Wizengamot's favor even though the odds were dauntingly low for him and Sirius. But then, Amelia requested the use of a Pensieve. Using the magical artifact, she presented the replications of Ashley's memories.

While watching the memories play out, nearly everyone in the room had turned a sickly pale. Some were forced into tears as the horrific truth was laid bare. Right in front of them was solid proof that the Dursleys, and additionally Dumbledore, were not to be trusted with the safety of the Wizarding World's Savior. Outraged, they watched the Chosen One be treated with animalistic cruelty. Beaten, starved, neglected, the girl was left to fend for herself amongst her abusive relatives whom considered her as a slave and not part of their disgusting family. For Merlin's sake, she slept in a cupboard!

The room had fallen into a troubled silence after that. Nobody knew what to say, but they did know what had to be done. The Dursleys looked absolutely terrified, while Dumbledore remained calm on the outside, at least. The anxiety in his eyes betrayed his true emotions. Sirius and Remus were already aware that their Bambi hadn't been cared for like Dumbledore had heavily implied. But that didn't stop the immense hatred and rage they felt when they saw what she had actually been through. They didn't know it had been that bad. How could people do that to a child? Their niece, nonetheless! The revelation of what had happened to Ashley was sure to have made Lily and James rolling in their graves.

With their eyes opened, the Wizengamot changed their minds in a flash. The first to take a stand against Dumbledore was, surprisingly enough, Lucius Malfoy. For that, the two Marauders were thankful. The wizards and witches spoke up and cast their votes, ultimately deciding where Ashley was to be placed. And that was with Sirius and Remus, where she ought to have been in the first place.

The trial was adjourned with Sirius smirking as the Dursleys were dragged away. Petunia and her whale-of-a-husband were destined for Azkaban, while their son was to be Obliviate'd and sent to a Muggle orphanage. It was only fair; the child still had a chance of growing into a better person. After all, it wasn't his fault that his parents were the horrible people they were. It only mattered that Ashley was no longer with them.

Dumbledore had to stay behind to have a little chat with the Minister and Amelia. The Hogwarts Headmaster was thrown dirty looks by the members of the Wizengamot as they disapparated one by one. Sirius and Remus refused to even look at him, let alone talk to him so they left without a single interaction. But before they could apparate away, they were approached by Lucius. Sirius acted properly enough. Remus thought it was a miracle that the two Lords were able to act civil towards each other, considering their less-than-friendly past. Hexes and jinxes usually started flying the moment they were in the same area.

He and Sirius side-apparated back to the mansion. Sirius ordered Kreacher to fetch them a bottle of Firewhisky and two glasses, which the house-elf begrudgingly obeyed. They were getting their Bambi back; it was high time for a small celebration. Getting drunk seemed like a good idea, but as Kreacher came back with the Firewhisky, Sirius thought of an even better one. Remus barely had enough time to register before the Animagus grabbed him by the waist and claimed his lips. They headed for their shared bedroom, leaving their drinks untouched.

Meanwhile...

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scottish Highlands

Ashley sat side by side with Alyssa on the ground near the courtyard fountain. They were attempting to finish their History of Magic essays but Moko and Klaus were very distracting. Klaus had climbed Alyssa's back and perched himself on top of her shoulders, repeatedly patting her cheek with his paw. Moko, on the other hand, kept tail-painting ink on Ashley's hand, resulting in her repeatedly casting a cleaning charm. Fondly exasperated, the girls decided to abandon their homework for later. Just as they went to give their familiars the attention they demanded, they heard a loud screech.

A great grey owl descended from above, carrying a folded piece of parchment. It was Sirius and Remus' owl, Gryphon (proud Gryffindors, those two were); the one they'd been using to send Ashley their letters. They had figured out how to prevent intervention, placing protective charms around Gryphon and sending the letters at irregular times in between classes. To Ashley's knowledge, that parchment was meant to inform her about the result of the custody battle. Unease built up inside of her as she accepted the delivery and stroked the feathers of the docile owl. Hoping for the best, she read the writings on the parchment as quickly as possible. It actually wasn't much; it was more of a note than a letter, really. But it was enough for Ashley.

Good news, Bambi! You're coming home; we'll see you during Christmas break. We love you!

Moony and Padfoot ♥

Nearly bursting with joy, the raven-haired girl squealed and hurriedly showed Alyssa. Then, they squealed together and celebrated with an embrace. The whole situation was definitely a great early Christmas present. The custody battle was one of the many wins that were to come. Moko, ever the smart serpent, had already guessed what all the fuss was about and slithered in to enjoy the hug as well. Packing their disregarded homework into their bags, Ashley and Alyssa cuddled up with their familiars and discussed their holiday.

"Well, I'm definitely not staying here for Christmas then."

"I don't doubt we'll spend the holidays together. Mum would love to see you, Sirius, and Remus again."

"That'd be lovely. Do you think Bill and Charlie will be there? I wanna meet them."

"I sure hope so! If not, I'll be sending the both of them Howlers."

"Would Aunt Molly mind if we invite others over?"

"I'll have to ask her but no, I don't think so... If she allows us to, we can invite those who don't have any plans for the holidays."

"That's a great idea, can't just drag them all."

Ashley cast a quick Tempus and learned that it was almost time for lunch. The girls grabbed their things and, of course, their familiars. Ashley figured Moko was safe to be seen since it was highly unlikely that Dumbledore would be attending lunch. If anything, he was probably throwing a tantrum in his office. The girls entered the great hall and proceeded to the Ravenclaw table where they met up with their friends. There had been a...problem regarding a couple of ignorant Gryffindors and well, the twins advised the group to steer clear of the table to avoid the onslaught of pranks they had planned for the afternoon (glitter rained on them at the start of the meal). Ashley didn't mind, she thought of it as an opportunity to introduce the other tables to House unity. Slytherin would be the last; they were, after all, the House with the most Prejudice against Muggle-borns and half-bloods.

Noticing something, Cora almost choked on her drink and gestured for Ashley to look at the head table. The Potter (and Peverell, and Gryffindor) Heiress complied and was forced to keep her amusement at bay at what she saw. The professors, most especially Snape, were all gawking at Moko. Ashley understood; none of them had seen the snake, nor were they aware she even had one. As far as they knew, only Alyssa had a bizarre choice of pet. McGonagall actually had been the first to meet Klaus. The Transfiguration professor almost had a heart attack upon seeing a student playing with a tiger cub. Alyssa was scolded and had almost lost points but fortunately, she and Ashley had a believable story ready. They found Klaus wandering all alone near the edge of the Forbidden Forest when they went to visit Hagrid one time. Being the kind-hearted students they were, they went to help the poor thing and realized that there was a connection between him and Alyssa. Seeing as Klaus was a familiar, McGonagall had to accept it all.

"Malfoy, Zabini, what do you want?" Alyssa deadpanned.

Ashley straightened in her seat and glanced behind her where she took in the sight of Draco and Blaise standing side by side. Blaise had his hands in his pocket, acting casual despite the apprehension he so obviously felt. Draco clenched his fists tightly in front of him while also avoiding eye contact. No wonder Ashley had sensed an almost nervous prickle of magic in the air. She hadn't even noticed that the hall had gone silent, each student a curious spectator to what was about to happen.

"I-We were wondering if we could..." Draco trailed off hesitantly.

"...If you could what?" Ashley pressed on.

"Sit with you... We would like to sit with you." The blond finished after sharing a look with Blaise.

Ashley raised her eyebrows, stunned at their request. She knew that they would eventually give in and join the group, if only for the sake of their love interests and/or soul-bonded. However, she didn't expect them to do it so early. If she were to be honest, she thought that their pride would ride them out until at least second year. Perhaps she was wrong, or this could be just some elaborate setup. Well, either way, it was worth giving them a chance. Ashley could see Alyssa wanted to and they both relished the jealous rage evident on Pansy's face from the Slytherin table. What a joy it was to provoke her.

"Yeah, sure, go ahead." Ashley shrugged.

"I... Just like that?" Draco blinked, losing the tension coiled in his body.

"Of course, we're a welcoming bunch." Ashley grinned.

"You're not mad at us?" Blaise asked.

"No, but I will say that some of us expect a proper apology from you."

And they did end up apologizing. To Ai, to Heaven, to everyone they'd bullied in the group. It was a good start for them. As expected, Draco and Blaise sat beside Alyssa and Cora respectively. The redhead Slytherin played off how happy she was with the recent development, contrary to Cora who made no attempt to hide how she subtlety leaned closer to Blaise. The picture reminded Ashley of her own soul-bonded mates whom she already missed. Luckily, the twins caught wind of her train of thought (she still didn't know how they did that) and distracted her.

"How kind,-"

"-how forgiving,-"

"-our sweet little raven!" The twins teased, earning each of them an elbow to the ribs.

The meal was a tad bit awkward though. Everyone was just getting used to the two new inclusions within the group. Nevertheless, Ashley considered it to be a success since by the end of the hour, Blaise and Draco had given the first of many genuine smiles to come. Charms and Transfiguration passed by quickly. Being at the top of most, if not all, of her classes, the professors of both subjects suggested that she tutor the other students who were lagging behind with their studies, along with those who just wanted to improve. This she happily accepted. Thinking like a Slytherin, she figured she could use the sessions to assess the students who would be beneficial for her future plans to battle Dumbledore. The wizard was bound to have his loyal followers ready to bend over for him at any moment's notice, so why not build herself her own army?

The tutoring sessions were scheduled after dinner every Monday and Wednesday in the study hall. The first session was immediate, with only a few students who attended. It was a new occurrence so that was reasonable. Ashley was sure there would be more who'd attend and she would willingly help as much as she could. Once everyone had left except for her, she transfigured a lantern and went out to the beech tree by the lake. Fully expecting to be alone, she was surprised to see someone, namely Alyssa, lying on the grass. Klaus was present as well, seemingly comforting the agitated redhead.

"What's got you sulking?" Ashley quizzed.

She plopped down on the ground, leaning against the tree trunk, and placed the lantern beside her. She guided Alyssa's head to her lap while Moko slithered over to interact with Klaus. Ashley poked Alyssa's cheek when she considered her to be too quiet.

"...Pug-face kissed Draco on the cheek." Alyssa scowled.

"Ah... Am I right to assume she's in the hospital wing right now?" Ashley smiled, innocently so as if her question wasn't implying something wicked.

"No..."

"That's shocking. I figured you would have hexed her for that, or at most, asked me to release the Basilisk on her."

"That's...not a bad idea."

Ashley had to laugh at the thoughtful expression on Alyssa's face.

"I'd do it too. Why didn't you do anything?"

"Draco was there and... I didn't want him to know I was, you know."

"Jealous?" Ashley snickered, "You two are so problematic it's actually funny. And you're not even a couple yet!"

Laughing, she raised her arms to defend herself from the slap headed her way. Alyssa sat up and mimicked the Gryffindor's position.

"Ash, what would you feel if someone kissed Remus and/or Sirius?"

"Mad, of course. It wouldn't be long before that someone lands in St. Mungo's."

"That's... Wow."

"I'm not exactly the sanest person, now am I? And you can't judge, you were just thinking about killing Pansy."

"No, definitely not, and you're the one who suggested it."

"Yes, but you actually considered it."

The two girls giggled out loud. Closing her eyes, Alyssa rested her head on Ashley's shoulder. The green-eyed witch retrieved a book about advanced spells from her satchel. She was on a mission to find a translation spell for the soul magic book. If she learned other spells on the way, that was another advantage for her. Thankfully, the writings were still clear and readable even with only the dim lighting the lantern provided.

"Ashley, Alyssa!" Mitchelle appeared running.

"Hey, Mitch." Ashley and Alyssa greeted simultaneously, moving over to make space for the new arrival.

"Why are you pouting? Don't tell me something happened to you and Cedric?"

"No but you two keep sneaking off without me..."

"Aw, well you're here now." Ashley appeased, "Just the three of us, like how it used to be."

It took a little bit of effort on their part but she and Alyssa managed to make Mitchelle smile. The Golden Trio hugged before settling in against the trunk, with Ashley wedged in the middle. They conversed about a lot of different topics, one of which was the situation between Alyssa, Pansy, and Draco (Mitchelle may or may not have agreed about releasing the Basilisk). Eventually, they strayed towards the subject of their plans regarding the Philosopher's Stone.

"When are we getting the stone?" Mitchelle asked.

"Sometime next year, I suppose..." Ashley shrugged.

"Why that delayed?"

"I don't want to rush things; we can't rush things more than we already have. In the meantime, you two keep practicing Wizard's Chess and I'll keep looking for a translating spell."

Ashley flipped through her borrowed book and minded the useful spells she passed, leaving Mitchelle and Alyssa to conjure a chessboard from somewhere to play. They needed to build up a strategy to win McGonagall's trap for when they would nab the stone. None of them were planning on getting unnecessarily injured that day, nor did they want to sacrifice themselves. Minutes before curfew, Ashley finally found the spell she needed. Eager to try it out and also not wanting to get caught by a professor, she suggested that they head back to their dorms. They went their separate ways and just as Ashley reached the corridor leading to the Gryffindor tower, she was passed by a certain turban-wearing man.

"Oh! Good evening, Professor."

"Good evening, Ms. P-Potter."

Stuttering and fidgety as always, Quirrell offered an acknowledging nod before he continued on walking. With a decision made in a split second, Ashley whirled around and spoke her mind.

"Professor? I have an odd question."

"W-what is it?"

"...Do you trust Headmaster Dumbledore?"

The question stunned Quirrell into going silent. His jaw dropped open a little bit but no words came out. Ashley patiently waited for an answer even if she already knew what it was. She ignored the muffled voice her straining ears heard from underneath the man's turban.

"Of course... D-don't you?"

"Well, he acts so suspicious all the time. He doesn't seem all that trustworthy..."

Ashley shifted on her feet and wrung her hands together, reluctantly looking up at the speechless professor. He looked just as uncomfortable as she was acting to be, but there was a spark of curiosity in his eyes.

"W-well, I can't fault you f-for thinking that..."

"I'm sorry for bothering you, Professor. I better get going, goodnight."

Ashley rushed away, keeping her pace until she was in the girls' dormitory. Her dorm mates, who were all in the middle of getting ready for bed, barely gave her a single glance, all except for Maia. Already dressed in her pajamas, Maia raised her hands with her palms facing upwards, a gesture meaning to ask what happened. Ashley shook her head in response and sent the brunette a smirk before joining the other girls in performing their nightly routine. Right after, Ashley laid on her bed for a while, chatting with Moko to pass the time until the other girls were asleep.

"Earlier with Quirrell, what was that about?"

"Thought it best that he know I'm against his Dumbledore. It'll give him more incentive to believe that I want to help him. I'm sure you know the saying, an enemy of my enemy is my friend."

"Smart move, little one."

It took approximately less than an hour before soft and loud snores could be heard. Ashley got up, leaving Moko ion his place on her pillow, and unlocked her trunk. She seized the soul magic book and plopped down on the floor, opening the book to a random page. Placing the tip of her wand against it, she spoke the incantation of the translation spell. The pages of the entire book emitted a soft golden glow as the written words morphed. Ashley made sure that everything was translated before she returned the book in her trunk, ensuring that all of the charms were held in place. She trudged back to her bed and yawned quietly, slowly drifting off to sleep. Her last thoughts revolved around the upcoming holidays where she would once again see her beloved mates.

Chapter Text

Bright and early in the morning, Hogwarts was filled with excited chatter as the students discussed their plans for the holidays. Some of those who planned on going home were running around, busy with their last-minute packing. The castle's sentient magic thrummed with the radiant energy it garnered. In the Gryffindor first year girls' dormitory, Ashley stood in front of an open window and stared outside in awe. Snowflakes sprinkled down elegantly from the sky, the first sign of the winter season. Multiple other students were in the courtyard dressed in thick coats and scarves, enjoying the light flurry and playing around in the snow blanketing the ground down below.

Ashley had always loved winter and everything associated with it. Making snow angels and snowmen, having snowball fights, drinking hot cocoa while snuggling in front of the fire, there was something about the winter holidays that was just so...fun, and warm despite the cold atmosphere the season brought. At least, that's what Ashley thought of it.

Smiling, she extended her hand outwards and giggled when the snowflakes touched her open palm. Moko, from his place curled around her neck and peeking over her scarf, was not a fan of the cold like she was but he could admit that the view was quite beautiful. He understood the appeal of it all. The only problem was that he could very well die in the cold and he definitely didn't want that.

Ashley shook herself out of her dazed state and pulled her hand back to her side. She was already packed, she had been since the night before, but she still had to check her things in case she forgot something. Highly unlikely, but she could never be too sure. Seeing as she was the only person in the room aside from a slumbering Maia, she refrained from using her wand and wordlessly levitated her trunk on her bed. She sorted through it, making sure all of her necessities were packed, along with the book she swiped from the Restricted Section. It was crucial that she not leave that book behind for anyone else to find. She also hadn't found the time to read it yet so she planned on doing so during the break. Hopefully, she would have access to the Black library.

Casting Tempus, she realized that breakfast was nearing. Since Maia had asked her to wake her up for the morning meal, Ashley went over to do her job. The Potter Heiress grabbed a pillow and repeatedly smacked the brunette with it. It was a fact learned long ago that the more tired Maia was, the harder it was to wake her up. She had the ability to sleep through tickling charms and whatnot when she stayed up all night and she knew that. So, she permitted all of her friends to resort to a bit of violence every now and then just to get the job done. Unfortunately, that was after she almost missed Potions one day and lost the House ten points.

"Maia!" Ashley huffed, "Either you wake up, or you get no food before we leave."

That instantly got the drowsy Gryffindor's attention. Ashley had never seen her move that fast before. It was understandable; the food in Hogwarts was simply mouth-watering. Holding Hedwig in her cage, Ashley waited for Maia to finish changing before linking their arms together and carting their trunks to the great hall. They met up with the group there. They wanted to spend more time with each other since every single one of them, excluding Alexandra, was leaving Hogwarts. It would be two weeks before they were reunited. Well, except for Ashley, Alyssa, and Mitchelle. The three were due to spend Christmas at the Burrow with Mitchelle's parents, Sirius, Remus, and the entire Weasley family (Bill and Charlie were coming home, Ashley was very happy about that).

Ashley paid no attention to the pitying and sympathetic looks sent her way. She'd been receiving them since news about her past abusive situation came to light. She didn't mind, it was nothing she hadn't expected. Plus, that wasn't the only thing the Daily Prophet reported. Dumbledore had lost his titles, except for his title as Headmaster of Hogwarts, all because Griphook had shown the Ministry Ashley's blood inheritance test (keeping her soul bonds hidden, of course). Rumors about him spread like dragon pox amongst the community, rumors even the Golden Trio didn't know much about. It was interesting to see how quick people turned against someone they once held on a high and mighty pedestal. It was much easier than expected, distorting Dumbledore's protected image. From what Ashley knew, parents were sending Dumbledore and the Ministry daily Howlers because of how minor the old wizard's punishment was for leaving a child in abusive care, wanting the said child to stay there, and for placing magical blocks on a child. The mass believed anything that merely concerned the Savior of the Wizarding World, the Chosen One who had 'defeated' Voldemort. Absolutely gullible, they all were.

Ashley noticed the lack of...personal space between the two soul-bonded (yet still unofficial) couples and the other two non-soul-bonded. She wistfully ignored them in favor of vying her attention towards an owl; one she recognized was from Gringotts, who came swooping in with a short letter from the Head Goblin. And yet another early Christmas gift was received.

Heiress Potter,

The Potter and Weasley wealth have all been fully regained and Dumbledore is still blissfully unaware. The nation of goblins wishes you happy holidays, Ashley.

Griphook

Smirking, Ashley signaled Alyssa from across the table and passed the parchment over. The redhead's eyes skimmed over it and a victorious smile eventually broke through. Sensing the burning curiosity of the blond beside her, she had no problem letting Draco lean closer and read the contents of the letter. He, along with Blaise, was well-informed regarding the situation with Dumbledore (just that because Draco and Cedric still knew nothing of the soul bonds). They had to be if they were going to be a permanent fix to the group. They accepted it quite easily but that was to be expected. They were, after all, part of dark families, those who had ties with Voldemort himself. It also didn't hurt to impress Draco by letting him know that her family now had just as much wealth as his did.

Ashley didn't bother reclaiming the letter and instead, focused on the Gringotts owl that stayed. Still wearing the school robe over her casual clothing, she dug into her pocket and fished out the small greeting card she had prepared for the goblins (she gave each of the professors, aside from Dumbledore, one as well, including Hagrid). She fed the owl a small amount of her plate before sending him off with the card. She watched him until he was out of sight and turned back to Alyssa, snickering at seeing Draco's chin seemingly resting on her shoulder. The redhead ignored her amused reaction and raised a celebratory goblet to which she reciprocated, the rest of their group following suit.

Many minutes later, the students were assembled at the main courtyard to travel to Hogsmeade Station where the Hogwarts Express would be waiting for them. While they were led over to the carriages, Ashley couldn't help but admire the white wonderland that was becoming of the school grounds. She shivered as a cool breeze swept past her and kept Moko safely tucked within her scarf to keep him warm. Hedwig, on the other hand, enjoyed the snow and so did Klaus and Serina. The owl and the tiger were understandable, but Serina was a surprise. However, Ashley knew that familiars were said to possess unordinary abilities to benefit their partners. Moko and Klaus' abilities hadn't been discovered just yet but Serina's was that she could turn herself into ice. In that form, she retained her feline grace while moving and was nearly indestructible, fire seemingly having no affect on her. It had Ashley and Alyssa pondering about what could be their familiars' abilities.

They approached a carriage with Neville, Draco, Mitchelle, and Cedric trailing slightly behind them. It was a bit disappointing for the Golden Trio to see the white horses instead of the Thestrals, but it was fine. They'd get the opportunity next year, though they were sure only one of them would actually be able to see the creatures.

Carrying their trunks, the six climbed into a random carriage and the horses instantly began trotting along the path. Ashley, Alyssa, and Mitchelle were side by side with the raven-haired girl seated in the middle while the boys sat across from them. It was ultimately a quiet, peaceful ride to the station if you didn't count Ashley and Neville making fun of the soul-bonded couples with hidden gestures and mocking facial expressions.

"Are we staying in the same compartment by the front?" Alyssa whispered, leaning closer to Ashley and pulling Mitchelle's arm to do the same.

"We? Nope, you two are staying with your soul-bonded." Ashley answered firmly.

"What? Why?" Mitchelle quizzed.

"You should tell Draco and Cedric about the soul bonds. Preferably, before we leave the train." Ashley explained.

"Don't you think it's a bit....early?" Mitchelle laughed nervously.

"Early? We've known for months. If anything, it's late."

"I'm not sure now's the best time... For me, that is. I'm not sure Draco would accept it as easily as Cedric would."

"I seriously doubt that but if it'll make you feel better, he'll have enough time to think things through over the break. He'll be fine."

"Alright, if you say so..."

The three waited until they were off the carriages and boarding the train before going their separate ways. Alyssa went with Blaise, Cora, and Draco. Pansy attempted to follow them but was rudely intercepted by Fred and George. After her kissing-Draco-on-the-cheek stunt, they made sure to invoke enough fear in her to leave their sister and her soul-bonded alone. It worked, the pug-faced girl scurried back to her gang of Slytherins. Alyssa was pleased, while Draco had no complaints whatsoever.

Mitchelle went with Cedric to the same compartment as Thalia and her older brother, Thaddeus. Thaddeus was a Slytherin as well and in the same year as Cedric who he had gotten close to in Charms. Meanwhile, Ai and Dominic chose to share with Maia and Heaven. That left just Ashley and Neville. However, they didn't have to wait long for companions. The ever-so-loyal Weasley twins dragged them and their carry-ons to the compartment Lee Jordan was occupying. The introduction between the two first years and Lee was short since he was aware of the mismatched group of friends' reputation, alongside Ashley's famous titles as the Girl-Who-Lived and youngest Gryffindor Seeker.

In their typical manner, she was squished between the twins. She successfully kept her excitement at bay when every student was boarded and the train finally began to move. She watched the outdoor station fade from view, replaced by the wonderful scenery of the snow-covered hills of the highlands. It was simply breathtaking. It managed to retain Ashley's attention for a good while but eventually, she chose to rest. She made no move to protest as the twins manhandled her, placing her head on George's lap with her legs on Fred's. There were many hours left until the train would arrive at King's Cross.

Hushed voices were what woke Ashley from her slumber. Her eyes fluttered open and she yawned, announcing her conscious state to the people present. The twins were apparently the voices she heard and upon realizing this, they argued over whose fault it really was. Giggling, she sat up and yawned, drowsily petting Moko who had winded himself around her forearm sometime earlier. She perked up as the train came to a slow stop and Platform 9¾ appeared through the window, filled to the brim with awaiting families, pure-bloods, half-bloods, and Muggles alike. She couldn't see them yet but she knew from the way that her soul sung with joy and longing that her Sirius and Remus were part of the crowd.

She jumped to her feet and urged Moko back underneath her scarf, casting a warming charm on him. She rushed out the compartment and waited by the doors, eager to get out. The moment they opened, she quickly retrieved her trunk along with Hedwig's cage, placing them on a small cart. Squeezing through the crowd, she followed the way her heart pointed to. She searched and searched but she had the unfortunate disadvantage of being shorter than most of the people surrounding her.

"Excuse me, sorry, excuse me... Where are they?"

"Are you looking for my cousin?"

Pausing in her steps, Ashley turned and bit back a gasp as she saw the owner of the soft voice. It was Narcissa Malfoy, with the beauty and elegance of a proper pure-blood lady, standing tall and proud beside her husband Lucius and son Draco. Despite the strict, almost blank appearance she was most likely raised to wear, she gazed down at Ashley with gentle eyes. Opposing this was her husband, his sneer making his disdain towards the raven-haired girl quite obvious. Ashley didn't mind, she knew his reasons as both a pure-blood and a Death Eater.

"Lord Malfoy, Lady Malfoy, it's a pleasure to meet you." She greeted, bowing her head politely.

Manners were always important. That was something the Dursleys had ingrained into her mind ever since she'd started schooling. However, it was only to boost their reputation amongst the community. Other adults praised them for having raised such a courteous young lady. But there were times where Ashley forgot. She was only a child; she made her fair share of mistakes. However, the Dursleys weren't forgiving, nor were they merciful. Those mistakes cost the comfort of being left alone. Reminders of being well-behaved came with starving for days on end or if Ashley was unlucky enough, beatings. Although, she guessed those years with them had their own uses. Proper attitude towards the right people earned her respect, albeit scant.

"...Likewise, Heiress Potter." Lucius said in a monotone voice, having seen her glamoured ring glinting under the light.

"My cousin and his partner are right over there with the Weasleys." Narcissa explained, glancing towards them.

Ashley followed her gaze and beamed at finally finding her soul-bonded. Sirius and Remus seemed frozen, watching the interaction between her and the Malfoys with caution and worry. The Weasleys, made up of Molly, Ginny, Charlie, and Bill, wore similar expressions. Ashley couldn't blame them, the Malfoys, Lucius mostly, was known for prejudice against Muggles and anyone who had an affinity for them. She was sure they had all been on the receiving end of his hostile remarks and provocative insults one way or another.

"Blood traitors, you mean..." Lucius muttered, at which his wife sharply nudged him for.

Speaking of insults... I'll have to find a way to change that. I wonder how he'll feel when he figures out the Dark Lord is a half-blood.

Ashley chose to ignore the rude comment and smiled, genuinely thanking the couple for their help. She waved goodbye to Draco before pushing her cart over to Sirius and Remus. The two men broke out of their reverie and met her halfway, both kneeling to capture her in a tight embrace. Kisses rained on her face as they made their love and affection known. The people around them had the decency to look away, aware that what they were witnessing was a private moment. Although, some were as shameless as ever, watching the Girl-Who-Lived like preying vultures who had nothing better to do with their lives.

"Bambi, sweetheart, we've missed you!" Sirius cooed, pulling away to look at Ashley.

"I've missed you too, you won't believe how much." She laughed.

She pulled away from the hug and faced Remus alone as Sirius stood back to let them interact for the first time, excluding their contact during last month's full moon. It hadn't really been Remus that time. With trembling hands and eyes glossed over with tears, the werewolf raised his hands to cradle his darling cub's face tenderly.

"Remy..."

"My beautiful little cub..."

Ashley sniffled and launched herself towards him, wrapping her arms around his neck. She burrowed her face in his shoulder, ignoring the way her glasses pushed into her face. She found comfort in his firm hold, his arms a castle of safety and his voice a soothing song. He whispered just how much it meant for him to have her once again, to regain the remaining third of his pack. They savored their moment before separating, remembering that they were in a very public setting. Sirius and Remus took each of Ashley's hands in one of theirs and proceeded to the Weasleys with her cart charmed to shadow them. Percy, Fred, George, and Alyssa arrived in time with them. Molly, although informed of her daughter's familiar, almost choked upon spotting the white tiger cub.

"Ashley, wonderful to see you again." Molly crooned, after welcoming her children with hugs.

"It's nice to see you too, Aunt Molly. Are these Bill and Charlie?" Ashley grinned.

"You've heard of us?" The eldest redheads asked simultaneously, smirking almost identically.

How charming, just like the twins. It's no wonder where they got it from then.

"Alyssa talks about you a lot, the famed Curse-Breaker and Dragon Keeper. Where's Uncle Arthur?" Ashley inquired, already having an idea as to where the Weasley patriarch might have been at the moment.

"He's at Gringotts." Molly answered, "He didn't explain but it seemed urgent, something about a major change in our accounts."

Ashley and Alyssa shared a subtle smug look, something only the twins and the Marauders did not fail to notice. Fred and George paid no mind to it, but Sirius and Remus were very curious. The men could admit that they weren't as updated about their Bambi as much as they would have liked. They only knew the basics and the recent developments in her life told through her weekly letters but they were trying. However, it looked as though she had more than a couple of secrets of her own. Sirius and Remus wouldn't push her to tell them, but that didn't mean that weren't interested in finding out.

"Right, best take this conversation someplace else." Molly insisted.

"To the Leaky then, I'm sure the kids are hungry." Sirius piped up.

As if on cue, Ashley's stomach rumbled, causing Molly to start a rant about how thin and underfed she was. Obviously, the rest of the adults agreed. Together, they side-along apparated to the Leaky Cauldron. Mitchelle and her parents would have been invited as well but they had already left the station. The lot occupied a table where Ashley figured it was warm enough to unveil her familiar. As expected, gasps were heard from four out of the eight Weasleys present as she pulled Moko from her neck and laid him on the ground, giving him verbal permission to track his food for the night. Questions were fired at her, of which she all willingly answered. Then, the topic strayed to her meeting with the Malfoys.

"Draco's a friend." She explained.

"Only a friend?" Fred teased, knowing full well that the blond was his sister's soul-bonded.

"Are you insinuating-?" Sirius gaped, offended.

"Well, Lady Malfoy seemed to like you; she'll maybe accept you as a daughter-in-law." George commented off-handedly.

"My darling Bambi, a Malfoy?! Oh sweet Merlin, that's a horrifying thought!" Sirius gagged.

"Oh, don't be so dramatic, Padfoot." Remus rolled his eyes.

"I'd have to agree with Siri." Ashley mused, "Ashley Malfoy doesn't have the same ring to it as Alyssa Malfoy, don't you think?"

"Ash!" Alyssa exclaimed, a red hue dusting her freckled cheeks.

"What, it's true!"

"I-Shut up!"

"Nothing to be embarrassed about, seeing as you're..."

She cleared her throat mockingly and mimicked the glare Alyssa sent her way, prompting the twins to jump in.

"Don't be like that, little sister."

"Better tell the family before we do."

"Alyssa, dear, what are they talking about?"

"Uh... Well..."

Dropping her amused and taunting guise, Ashley laid a hand on Alyssa's shoulder as a sign of reassurance. The redhead had already talked with Draco and since she wasn't on the verge of tears, it had gone well. All that was left was to inform the entirety of her family. A soul bond was such an amazing occurrence and given the importance and ancient status of it, Draco would have already told his parents about it. The Malfoys were bound to have a little chat with the Weasleys about their children's soul bond. So, it was better the information came from Alyssa first to act as a warning to what was about to come.

"I'm...soul-bonded to Draco Malfoy."

For the Weasleys, shock seemingly was the theme of the day. Alyssa's older brothers, except for Fred and George, looked torn between congratulating her and planning to lock her in a tower to protect her from Draco. They were overprotective gits but she loved them nonetheless.

"Soul-bonded... A-are you sure?" Molly placed a hand over her heart.

"I am." Alyssa nodded confidently.

"That's... That's amazing! It's so rare; you'd have to be..."

'Extremely powerful' was left unsaid. Oh, they knew next to nothing. They could never expect what incredible force the Golden Trio was.

"Mitch is soul-bonded too actually."

That brought on a handful of amazed and thoughtful expressions.

"Bambi, are you...?" Remus hesitantly asked.

How in Merlin's name was Ashley supposed to answer that? She couldn't divulge the fact that she was, in fact, soul-bonded, but to her father's best friends, one of them being her godfather. She understood how inappropriate that was, especially considering how young she still was, physically speaking. She couldn't say anything, not yet, not until they were comfortable with each other. Well, they already were, but it was too soon. Much too soon...

"No, I'm not." She easily lied, shrugging, "Doesn't mean I won't be, though. You never know."

The conversation resumed, drifting to more casual and less intense topics. Once their meal was over and Moko returned from his hunt satisfied, the two families parted with the promise of assembling at the Burrow for Christmas (or Yule, it didn't really matter, it was the same thing). Apparating outside of what was supposed to be Grimmauld Place, Ashley was astonished to see the building that stood in its place. Sirius proudly introduced her to the Marauder Mansion, such an upgrade to the dark building the Blacks had owned. Entering her new-and-improved home, a bright atmosphere greeted her. It also came with a grumpy house-elf but she knew what to do. Seconds later, Kreacher treated her with respect and kindness (as much as he could offer), as if he hadn't called her a 'half-blood waste' earlier on. Sirius was left flabbergasted, and Remus, impressed.

"Do you want to go outside, play in the snow for a bit?" Remus asked, catching Ashley glancing repeatedly at the window.

"I-I mean... If you guys want to, sure..."

"Of course! We'll give you everything we can, we have ten years to make up for."

Ashley didn't miss the short hesitancy Sirius had before responding. She wondered briefly about what it was about. Did he have a problem with snow? Why could that be? Was it the cold that made him hesitant?

Of course! The cold... He's reminded of Azkaban.

"You don't have to, you know. I'm happy just being with you, and away from the Dursleys." Ashley murmured, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.

"Nonsense, Bambi. Let's have fun." Sirius grinned.

And suddenly, Ashley was thrown over his shoulder as he darted outside like an excited little kid. Remus ran after him, reprimanding him to be careful with their Bambi. She was laid on a soft pile of snow, squealing at the sudden chill that touched her skin. It was a good thing that Moko was left resting inside near the fireplace. He surely would have thrown a fit. Taking advantage of a distracted Sirius, Ashley bundled a snowball and aimed for his face. She hit her mark and took off, hiding behind a laughing Remus and using him as a human shield. Thus, war commenced.

The snow reminded Sirius of his cell in Azkaban. It was always freezing cold, and wet, and just plain uncomfortable, especially when the Dementors were near. Sirius had almost forgotten what warmth felt like; turning into Padfoot had only helped so much. However, here there was warmth... Bambi and Moony, they gifted Sirius with an everlasting fire deep within his soul, feeding it with their love. He found himself thinking that the cold no longer bothered him as long as he had them.

Chapter Text

Ashley lounged in her pajamas on one of the armchairs in the Black library, reading through the Soul Magicks book. She was seated sideways, leaning back against one arm while her legs were hanging off the other. Only half of her soul-bonded, Sirius, was with her, also in the midst of reading non-fiction literature on the couch. Remus was in the kitchen preparing the afternoon meal with Kreacher. The werewolf had taken up cooking as a hobby and was genuinely quite good at it. Unlike Sirius who had managed to burn soup. Remus and Ashley didn’t know how but they never bothered to ask, nor did Sirius ever elaborate.

It was either one or the other, sometimes both, who accompanied Ashley around the house. Mansion, if you will. The Potter Heiress was rarely left alone. She was fine with that; she loved their company more than anything. Although with the lack of alone time, she did have to use glamours often with her book to keep it a secret. Sirius and Remus were still oblivious to many things but she knew that they had their suspicions. They just respected her enough to not ask and she greatly appreciated that.

But enough was enough, today was the day she was going to reveal everything she’d hidden from them. Well, mostly everything. She had no intention telling them that she was from a different dimension. It was past and unimportant, there was no use lingering further on the topic. Ashley was a new person now and that was that. She also wouldn’t be able to relate her plans of helping a sane Voldemort rise to power. Sirius and Remus wouldn’t understand her reasoning, no matter how much they tried to, if they did try. They’d feel too betrayed that she was allying herself with her parents’ murderer. She didn’t want them to…reject her because of that. However, they would be made aware of Dumbledore’s years-worth of manipulations and her not-so-innocent actions against him. They’d want to help, and she’d happily let them.

That was why she scheduled a meeting with Griphook after lunch. She simply told Sirius and Remus that the goblin held the answers to most of their questions. She knew her soul-bonded would believe nearly everything she told them but having solid proof of the old man’s meddling was much better. It would also make it easier for her to brief them regarding her other abilities, namely the mental shield and magic sensitivity, and future inheritances.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

She and Sirius both turned to the source of the noise, realizing that it was coming from the other side of the closed double doors. It certainly couldn’t have been Remus. He would have either sent Kreacher or his wolf Patronus. Similar to Sirius, he man loved showing his prowess with charms and such to their cub, knowing the she had been forced away from magic for most of her life. She stood up and dropped the book on the chair, moving to open one of the doors. She was confused to be confronted with an empty hallway, until she heard hooting from down below. Hopping by her feet was Zafira, Alyssa’s owl, carrying what she assumed was a letter. Ashley accepted the offered piece of parchment and guided the owl to the library window to send her off. Ashley shut the window and wandered over to the couch, plopping down beside a curious Sirius.

Ashley,

I’m panicking! I don’t know what to do, what am I supposed to do?! You were right, Draco told his parents the day we came back and now, they’ve invited our WHOLE FAMILY for a Christmas Eve dinner! Give me a little advice here, what would you do?!

Alyssa

Ashley laughed at the clear trepidation exhibited through the usually-pleasant-now-chaotic penmanship. She showed Sirius who was equally as amused with the redhead. He found the irony of the whole situation utterly laughable. A Weasley soul-bonded to a Malfoy, the two couldn’t have been more different considering the families’ argumentative history. Ashley raised her hands, summoning an inked quill and parchment. Sirius was no longer surprised with her bouts of wandless magic around the house; he knew she was exceptionally advanced for her age. She had told him about her apparition the night they reunited. Albeit accidental, it was still very impressive. Ashley attempted to replicate it but she merely ended up splinching herself. Nothing major, just a gash along her left arm that, with a little help from a healing spell, thankfully left no scar.

Alyssa,

First things first, I’d calm down and breathe. Stop worrying, alright? Your soul-bonded will be right there with you, along with your family. Just remember to be polite and as respectful as ever, but also be you. Narcissa will like you, not so sure about Lucius, but that’s fine. As long as two out of the three Malfoys like you, you’ll be fine. ♥

Ashley

P.S. If you don’t like my advice, go ask Mitch. She’s met with Cedric’s parents; she knows more about that kind of situation than I do.

Ashley folded the letter up and stood alongside Sirius, both heading for the kitchen, but not before she charmed her book with an advanced locking spell keyed only to her. She figured that if there was anywhere Hedwig would be, it’d be in the kitchen. The owl had taken a liking to loitering there, especially when people were around to feed her. If not, she’d be in her nest on her favorite tree behind the mansion. But Ashley was right; Hedwig was perched on the counter with a rat’s tail sticking out from between her beak. Ashley patiently waited for the owl to finish swallowing her meal before tasking her with delivering the letter. Hedwig hooted, pecking Ashley’s hand affectionately, before flying to the Burrow. Ashley was then ushered to her seat on the table as Remus set the plates. After a delightful lunch, the three of them were just getting ready to apparate to Gringotts when she noticed the missing presence of a certain snake.

“Wait! Remy, have you seen Moko?”

“Not recently, no.”

“I have to look for him. He wanted to come along.”

“Hurry then, Bambi. We don’t want to be late.”

Ashley nodded and rushed around the house. However, her familiar was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t in her room, in Sirius and Remus’ room (don’t ask why that was an option, Moko could be such a creeper at times), in any of the guest bedrooms, in the bathroom (with how big the mansion was, why the bloody hell was there only one bathroom?), in the organ room (Sirius apparently knew how to play the organ), nor was he in any other place. As a last resort, Ashley went back to her room and searched it once more. How could an animal as big as her familiar have gone missing just like that?

Up here, little one.

Frozen in her tracks, Ashley slowly dragged her gaze upwards and blinked. There he was, her beloved reptilian familiar, stuck to the bloody ceiling. He hissed out a laugh and lowered his head, stopping directly above her face. She smiled and raised her hand to pet him, ignoring the fact that half of his lengthy body was still on the ceiling.

There you are, I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” She cooed.

You don’t seem all that surprised.” Moko mused.

There are worse things to come across. My familiar having learned to be a lizard is a minor thing.

You’re thinking my ability will be useful in future conquests.

Quite right.

“Sweetheart, have you found-“

Remus and Sirius froze in their tracks by the door, staring at the unusual picture in front of them.

“Bambi, why-how is your snake on the ceiling?” Sirius gaped.

Ashley shrugged and explained that certain familiars, if not all, had the possibility to gain a single ability for the future aid of their partner. And she agreed that Moko’s new power (being able to stick to any surface, she assumed) was going to be a huge help to her. She was already imagining all of the ways he could spy for her and attack an enemy from above. That would be wondrous, an easy kill for them… She’d said in the past that she wasn’t entirely sane, hadn’t she? If not, well, right there was evidence of the statement.

“…Alright then, let’s go.”

Ashley cast Reducio and caught her falling familiar, letting him curl around her neck. She clung to Sirius and Remus as they walked into the room fully and apparated together. Materializing right outside Gringotts, the two Marauders were pleasantly surprised when they took notice of the fact that the guarding goblins smiled upon seeing their Bambi. This also applied to the rest of the goblins inside the building, along with the usually-stern Bragkar. The trio was guided to the Head Goblin’s office where they were immediately seated. Straight onto business, Griphook greeted them, Ashley kinder than the others, and pulled parchment from a drawer underneath the table.

“Here is the copy you requested of your blood inheritance test, Ms. Potter.”

Ashley watched calmly as the test was handed over to her soul-bonded who were sitting across from her. Moko raised his head from snuggling her neck, awaiting the, most likely, violent reaction from one or both of the men. Horror and rage struck them as their eyes skimmed the contents of the test. Ashley felt the heavy tension in the air, the wizards’ magic on the verge of erupting. She pitied Griphook; she didn’t want him to have to experience yet another magical outburst, two this time around and probably much more potent. She stood and wandered behind fuming men, placing a hand on one of each of their shoulders. She had figured out that she had a calming effect on them, no matter how awful they felt. It was convenient, especially for Sirius. The Animagus had such a dreadful temper when it came to things, usually people, he weren’t fond of. Dumbledore was definitely at the top of that list.

“Magic blocks, compulsions spells?! That-” Sirius cut himself off with a growl that was all Padfoot (which was better than a full on outburst).

“Merlin… Bambi, are you alright?” Remus asked, concern written all over his face.

He had been struggling to rein Moony in earlier. If Ashley hadn’t been there, the wolf would have taken over but that didn’t mean that Moony was easy to convince. His cub had been spelled unwillingly. That was unforgivable! Dark with amber flecks, Remus’ eyes displayed just how much he disagreed with what Dumbledore had done. The werewolf breathed out and pulled on Ashley’s hand, tugging her into his lap. More contact was necessary to appease his inner beast, preventing a lashing out of sorts.

“We’re so sorry…” He murmured remorsefully.

“You didn’t do anything, Dumbledore did!” Ashley protested, “You have nothing to be sorry for, Remy, Siri.”

Sirius took her hand in his as Remus rested his head on top of hers, using their Bambi to ground themselves. They turned to Griphook and asked the same questions she did when she first received the test. They inquired about the abilities they were unaccustomed to, her creature inheritance, and future ladyships. Griphook patiently explained each one just as he did to Ashley. He then mentioned that she had already accepted her titles as Heiress of the three Houses. This is what led to her removing the glamour concealing her ring. Sirius and Remus studied the ring for a bit until the subject of compulsions was brought up again.

“I had a theory that you had compulsions as well, along with many others.” Ashley confessed.

Seeing the way her soul-bonded’ eyes widened exponentially, she hurriedly realized her mistake and opened her mouth to correct herself.

“But it’s fine now! My mental shield, it’s extended to you two… It’s extended to a lot of people actually. I’m pretty sure yours is weaker than mine but it’ll at least protect you from more compulsions.”

“That’s good… This explains a lot of things, really.” Sirius huffed.

The subject shifted towards the Dumbledore’s other manipulations and wrong-doings. There was his thieving; the goblins were still working on returning everything to the rest of the families he stole from. Remus and Sirius figured this was the reason there was an immeasurable amount of fortune given back to the Weasleys’ accounts. Ashley’s involvement was revealed, this both worried and gratified her soul-bonded. They would talk about all that later, which she knew. Eventually, everything had been thoroughly discussed and clarified. It was time to leave, but Ashley was requested to stay behind for a minute or two while the Marauders were to wait outside the office.

“Ashley, may I ask about one thing?”

“Go ahead, Griphook.”

“Why did you choose to keep your bond hidden from them?”

It was the one thing Ashley instructed from the goblin when she’d said she wanted a copy of her blood inheritance test. Griphook was to omit the information of her soul bond with Sirius and Remus. They hadn’t yet reached the point of them needing to know that little fact.

“I… They can’t know yet, it’s a bit…inappropriate right now. I’ll tell them when I’m of age, otherwise they’ll settle for a platonic bond and…”

“You don’t want that.”

“Yes… Unfortunately, I can’t help how I think of them. I’m obviously not as young as I seem.”

There was a moment of silence to let Ashley’s words sink in.

“Well, after having the kind of information they just learned, I’m sure they’re getting agitated without you.”

“I’ll go ahead then.”

“Of course, and thank you for the card you sent.”

“You’re welcome, may your gold overflow.”

“And may your enemies tremble before you.”

Ashley bowed slightly and left the room, smiling as Sirius and Remus relaxed upon seeing her. They went to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. They settled at a table near a corner, away from the scarce costumers. They ate their ice cream in silence, after which Remus pulled out chocolate from…somewhere. Ashley had found out days ago that not even Sirius knew where Remus would get his chocolate from. It had been a mystery ever since their Hogwarts days. It seemed to just appear from the werewolf’s pocket. It was a bit unnerving but well, Ashley would never not be grateful for the never-ending supply of sweets. She always did have a sweet tooth. Anticipating the beginning of her scolding, she cast a wandless muffling charm just as Remus stated his troubles regarding her actions against her headmaster.

“I’ll be fine, I promise. I’m as careful as can be.” She assured.

“Alright, if you say so…” Remus reluctantly gave in, “But if you need any help whatsoever, we’re here for you.”

“We’ll help take that bastard down whatever it takes.” Sirius agreed, grinning madly.

“Sirius…” Remus reprimanded.

He wasn’t a saint, he cursed as well but not as much as his lover did. Though, he really didn’t want their cub to continue hearing such vulgar words. She’d had enough of that from her relatives. She, on the other hand, didn’t mind the cursing but she appreciated her werewolf’s sentiment. It showed just how much he cared for her well-being. The three of them went home, and that was that. Days later and it was Christmas, the long-awaited holiday of the Potter-Lupin-Black, Weasley, and Granger families.

The Burrow was quite different from what Ashley and Mitchelle had imagined it to be but Alyssa did write to them that there had been simple renovations made. It was wonderful seeing each other again. Even if lengths of distance did no such thing as affect their friendship, they missed each other terribly. They caught each other up with their lives, Ashley briefing them about Moko’s new skill. Her friends were impressed, although Alyssa remarked that her familiar had yet to do something. The redhead then related her story of dinner with the Malfoys. She didn’t say much about it but it had gone really well if the huge smile on her face was something to go by.

The Weasleys accepted their guests as part of their large family. The night was immensely enjoyable. Greetings and gifts were exchanged, there were also lots of hugs and kisses involved. The twins might have announced their closeness with Ashley with an affectionate act. Sirius and Remus had been quick to tear her away from them. It was highly amusing, for Ashley and the twins, at least.

Midnight approached and everyone had to retire to their own homes. The adrenaline of the celebration wore off from Ashley as she Floo’d into the mansion after Sirius with Remus quickly following. She brushed the ashes off her clothes and dropped tiredly on the couch. Closing her eyes was a bad idea, even if it was only for a second. Flashes of memories with her past guardians filled her mind, forcing her eyes to snap open. Her loud, aggravated sigh caught the attention of the two men around her.

“Bambi? Darling, what’s wrong?” Remus sat beside her, pulling her to his chest.

“I-it’s nothing, Remy.” She attempted to shrug it off.

“None of that. You can tell us anything, Bambi. You know that.” Sirius reminded softly, sitting on her other side.

“I…” She hesitated, causing Moko to comfort her.

“It’s okay, go on.” Sirius urged.

“…Every Christmas, the Dursleys would lock me in the cupboard the whole day. No food, no water, nothing… Said they didn’t want the freak to ruin the holidays for them…” Ashley bitterly laughed.

“You’re no freak, Bambi.” Remus immediately said, “We’re so, so sorry you had to go through that.”

“But no more, you’re safe now that you’re with us again. We’ll never hurt you; we’ll never let anyone hurt you ever again.” Sirius assured.

“I know that, I do, but… I was wondering if…” Ashley trailed off.

She couldn’t speak her mind. She wasn’t sure if they’d accept her plea. It was an odd thing; she knew that, but… She was scared. She was scared of sleeping alone that night. Her room was magnificent; her soul-bonded did everything to make sure she was comfortable. However, she couldn’t take being alone on that particular night. Everything would remind her of the cupboard. Dark, suffocating… Ashley didn’t want to be brought back there. Nightmares were bound to plague her, if she even had the strength to fall asleep. She figured that having Sirius and Remus close would be enough to keep her mind in check. Seeing their expectant faces, she forced herself to resume talking.

“I was wondering if…I could sleep in your room tonight…?”

Their shock was evident and she immediately took this the wrong way.

“But it’s fine if you don’t want to! I’m probably too old for that, I shouldn’t have asked-”

“No, no! It’s alright, Bambi. Let’s get ready for bed, yeah?”

Sirius and Remus kissed her forehead lovingly as thankful tears welled in her eyes. They went through their individual nightly routines and walked to the master bedroom together. Sirius and Remus got comfortable on their bed. Meanwhile, Ashley stood by the edge, reluctant to move any further. She felt like she was a hassle to them but they vehemently told her otherwise. Taking a deep breath, she crawled in between them and settled underneath the covers. The darkness of the room hid her blush well as they cuddled close. Two arms were thrown over her, acting as a protective barrier from anything harmful, keeping her safe and sound from the world outside.

“Remus, Sirius? Thank you for this…”

“Of course… We love you.”

“I love you both too.”

There would never be anything she could say that would be as genuine as that one, single phrase.

Chapter Text

“Do you really have to go?” Sirius whined for the umpteenth time that morning.

New Year’s had passed and the time had come when Ashley was meant to return to Hogwarts. Her belongings were packed, her wand was in her pocket, Hedwig was in her cage, and Moko was wrapped around her forearm underneath her sweater. It was still fairly chilly in January so she was wearing her honorary Weasley sweater. The emerald green fabric made her eyes pop with a golden ‘A’ stitched in the middle. The piece of clothing was very dear to her. It was a reminder of the family that accepted her as their own. She was ecstatic to be reunited with her pseudo-siblings but she wasn’t exact that thrilled to leave her home and her soul-bonded. Sirius was also averse to the idea of being separated from his Bambi again. He had been saying so since he woke up and there was no peace during breakfast.

“Padfoot, we can’t take her away from her studies.” Remus rolled his eyes.

“Yes but…Dumbledore!” Sirius protested.

“I’ll be alright, Siri. Stop worrying so much.” Ashley chuckled, hugging his waist from where she sat beside him.

“I’ll never stop worrying over you, Bambi.” He sighed, combing a hand through her hair.

“I know, and I love you for that.” She smiled.

“…You’re tempting me even more to keep you locked in this house.” Sirius pouted.

“Sirius, no.” Remus scolded half-heartedly.

“Sirius, yes.” Sirius countered.

Padfoot.”

Moony.”

It was quite obvious that Remus was attempting not to succumb to the urge to smile at his lover’s antics. The Animagus was certainly dramatic, even back when they first met, but Remus loved him nonetheless. The three of them finished breakfast unfortunately quickly. They double-checked Ashley’s things, even though it was highly unlikely she forgot something, before apparating straight to King’s Cross. They grabbed a cart and piled her luggage on it, heading for the charmed entrance to Platform 9¾. Sirius and Remus wanted the whole experience of guiding her to the platform, a right that was cruelly stripped from them the first time their Bambi had went there.

Ignoring the looks they garnered as they walked by, Remus stood on Ashley’s left with Sirius on her right. The men each placed one hand on the handle of the cart, the other on one of each of the Potter Heiress’ shoulder. Grinning, they ran for the wall and disappeared through it. They stepped onto the designated platform, amidst wizards, witches, and Muggles alike. The crowd was a bit stifling but it was majestic, and it always would be for Ashley. Never mind that she’d be exposed to the sight a lot. Coming from a world where it didn’t exist, magic would never lose its appeal.

“Here, before you go…a late Christmas gift.”

Sirius whipped out his wand and summoned an average-sized box, wrapped in red with a simple red ribbon on top. Moko popped his head out and watched curiously as Ashley accepted the gift. She opened it and gasped happily at what was inside. A black Polaroid camera, exactly what she had been hoping for! She didn’t bother stopping herself from jumping for joy as she grabbed the item.

“A camera!? Oh my Godric, thank you!” She exclaimed.

“It’s charmed so the pictures move like a typical wizard photograph. I bought it as a teenager but it’s still in good shape…just like I am.” Sirius waggled his eyebrows, earning a giggle from her and a look from Remus.

“Not only that.” The werewolf mused.

He took the box from Ashley and pulled out a second object. It was a book, its cover brown, dragon hide leather with intricately-designed gold corners. The phrase ‘Mischief Managed’ was carved upon it in elegant script, right above was a minuscule version of the Gryffindor crest. Flipping to the very first page, the emptiness confused Ashley until her magic reacted to it, slowly revealing the hidden message meant for her eyes only. However, the blowing of a whistle prevented her from reading the long letter.

“Your father wrote that, you know.” Sirius chimed.

“Really?” Ashley asked, tucking her gift under her arm.

“Yes. He wouldn’t let anyone read that, not even Lily.” Sirius reminisced, “That’s a photo album, by the way. It shows the history of the Marauders, up until your first birthday. We found it just yesterday.”

“It’s yours now. Fill it with as much memories as possible.” Remus said.

“Okay… Then let’s start with today, smile!”

Ashley raised the camera with one hand, tugging Remus and Sirius down to her height with the other. They posed as she snapped a picture, surprising her with a kiss on each cheek right before it was taken. She giggled while moving away, waiting for the photograph to develop and sticking it in her pocket once it did. She would paste it in her new-but-technically-old album later during the train ride.

“Bambi, as much as we’d love to keep you here-Sirius, no-you should go. Don’t want to be left behind now.”

Ashley nodded solemnly and welcomed the comfort of her mates’ embrace. She clung to their robes tightly, reluctant to let go, but eventually she had to. She really didn’t want to leave them though.

“Thank you for the gifts.”

“You’re welcome, Bambi.”

“We love you very much, have fun at Hogwarts.”

“I’ll be sure to. And don’t worry; I’ll be home soon enough.”

Even though her heart clenched painfully, Ashley forced herself to turn and push her cart to the train. She left her trunk and Hedwig in the luggage car and searched for the compartment she and her friends had used the first time around. She had everything she needed; her Hogwarts robes and Soul Magicks book were stashed in her charmed satchel, along with her camera and album. Finding the empty compartment, she slid in and settled near the window. Coincidentally, the view the window gave her was one of her moping soul-bonded. She frowned and sagged against the glass, mouthing ‘I’ll miss you’. She received similar responses as Sirius leaned against Remus, the werewolf draping an arm around his waist. Feeling the train begin to move, she waved at them until they faded from view.

Being away from them felt new to her, even if she had only been with them for a few weeks. Her soul and her magic were at home with them and, having spent so much time in their presence, both now felt off. She sighed and leaned back in her seat, her hand unconsciously drifting to her charm bracelet. She shook her head and retrieved her photo album to read her father’s message, needing something to occupy her time while she waited for Mitchelle and Alyssa (and maybe their soul-bonded as well).

My darling daughter,

I never thought I would ever be properly ready to raise a child. I grew up spoiled and incredibly immature. I admit I was also never the nicest person. I was quite the bully, actually. I had my reasons but… None of them are good, I suppose. Falling for your mother made me realize my many wrongs. I thought that I was the happiest wizard alive when she agreed to go out with me, but I was wrong… I was happiest when we had you.

Our little Bambi... You should know, the moment you opened your eyes, I was wrapped around your little finger. So was your mother, but of course, I’m your favorite (NEVER TELL HER THIS). You’re a curious little thing, so quiet too. You don’t cry very much, which I’m thankful for, but when you do, it’s the most heartbreaking thing I could ever hear. I just want to wrap you up and hide you from the harms of the world, which is currently what we’re doing right now…

Bambi, there is absolutely nothing Lily and I wouldn’t do for you. We love you with everything we are, and we’ll protect you with everything we have. The war scares us more than you will ever know. We’re afraid we won’t survive, and that you’ll be left alone with no one to care for you. If that ever happens, may this message I’ve written hopefully remind you how much we care for you. If given the chance, we would never leave you, even when you don’t need us anymore.

I’m holding you right now as I’m writing this. You’re sleeping in my arms and it’s quite nice seeing you look so peaceful. Not as peaceful as you would be in either Sirius or Remus’ arms, or both, but nevertheless peaceful. Your first bout of accidental magic managed to tire you out. Understandable since you summoned your teddy from somewhere in the house right to your hand, an amazing feat for someone who’s barely a year old. Your mother and I are already so proud of you. We know you’ll accomplish great things someday, things nobody could ever expect. But know this, as long as you are happy, then that’s all that matters. That’s all we could ever want from you. We’ll always watch over you, even when we’re no longer beside you.

Your loving parents (mostly me, your father) ♥

Tears gathered in Ashley’s eyes, most escaping and streaming down her face. Merlin, she loved Lily and James too. She did, and she wished she had grown up with them. That they survived that night, and that they had never been taken from her. She even wished that they were her parents back in her world. There was a reason she lived with her best friends instead of her blood family. A sob ripped through her throat, urging Moko to slither up her sleeve and nuzzle her neck to console her. She hissed her gratitude and let out a shaky breath, attempting to pull herself together. She waited until she was just sniffling to go through the album. However, her crying resumed when she encountered the captured memories of her family (minus Peter, that rat). There were pictures dating from all the way back to their first year at Hogwarts, up until the day of her first birthday, just like Sirius had stated beforehand.

Her head snapped up from where she was looking down at her lap as two people entered the compartment. Their aimless chatter was cut short the moment they say her glossy wet eyes and red flushed face. She waved off their concern and explained her state, showing them the album’s contents. Wiping her face, she grabbed her camera and snapped a picture of the three of them. One with just them, another with their familiars, and one last one with just their familiars. Ashley duplicated the pictures per her friends’ requests and settled on the bench in front of them, finding the first blank page of the album. Using the trick Sirius taught her, she dragged the tip of her wand to design the page. She then snapped the album shut, having finished pasting the pictures.

The Golden Trio Era, Marauders-to-be… Fitting.

“So, I found the right spell to use. Well, it’s a ritual, really. Fit to fix those who were stupid enough to make Horcruxes.” She announced, after casting a muffling charm.

“That’s good!” Mitchelle exclaimed.

“…Why don’t you look happy?” Alyssa frowned.

“Well, the ritual requires a certain potion...” Ashley trailed off.

“And that potion is…?” Alyssa pressed.

“It’s called the Elixir of Restoration.” She deadpanned.

“I…have never heard of that.” Mitchelle blinked.

“Yeah, that’s the thing.” Ashley huffed, “If we have a shot of helping Voldemort, we need to know how to make that.”

Frustrated, she puffed her cheeks and crossed her arms. A short moment of silence was held as the trio brainstormed for ideas. They could help Voldemort be Tom Riddle again, they had a chance to win against Dumbledore, but now they were stuck again. What were they to do now? Maybe… Surely there was something in the Restricted Section, a rare tome about unheard-of potions, perhaps? After all, what was another borrowed book to the girls? They would return it eventually, once everything was in order. Ashley quickly voiced her scheme. She already had it planned out.

“I could probably check tonight.”

“Hey… Do you think Snape knows about that potion?”

“Maybe… Should we risk it? We’ll have to tell him about our plans, otherwise he won’t even think about helping.”

“The question is… Would he believe us?”

“Let’s hope so. I don’t think we have any other choice if we don’t find the potion.”

“Right… If anybody would know about that potion, it would be him.”

“It’s not like we know any other Potions Master.”

Another ally wouldn’t hurt, especially someone who was as trusted by both the Dark Lord and Dumbledore as Snape was. He would definitely be beneficial. Also, hadn’t he basically appointed himself as Ashley’s mystery guardian? He would never let anything happen to his deceased best friend’s only daughter, not when he himself had learned to care for her, deny it as he would. Ashley was confident he would side with her, if not only to exact his revenge on the old goat for causing her mother’s death.

Hours later with the moon high in the sky, the Hogwarts Express arrived at Hogsmeade Station. Instead of the boats, the returning students were taken back to the castle by the same white horse-pulled carriages they used to leave. In the great hall, Dumbledore welcomed them with a speech and the typical feast. One day, Ashley would be able to stay during the holidays, when the Yule Ball would be held in her fourth year. Now that she had a camera, she was hell-bent on capturing every aesthetically pleasing view she saw. On her list was the great hall during Halloween and Christmas. She always did love beautiful sceneries, and she loved that she could photograph all of it. Back in her world, she had applied in a photography course in university. She had an affinity for it, and she gladly used it to her advantage. Unfortunately, she had to go through what was basically high school again, and photography was not a particular option in her new world.

Do I even need a job? I could probably just enjoy my life like Sirius is doing… A thought for a different time, I guess. There are more important things to worry about.

She waited until a few minutes after midnight to sneak inside the library’s Restricted Section. She and Moko spent nothing less than an hour scouring through each and shelf there. They came up with nothing. There were multiple books about advanced potions and such but none about the Elixir of Restoration. There were no hints that it even existed. Ashley knew otherwise though. She had to talk to Snape. That was her only option now. However, before she went back to the dorm, she snatched a silver-covered book that her magic seemed to call out for. She had a feeling it would come in handy, whatever it was.

She soon found out that the book imparted the myths and legends of the Wizarding World, including the Deathly Hallows. There were even matching illustrations and descriptions. The only odd thing was, the book had no author. But Ashley sensed a strong magical residue, so she figured it was someone powerful. At least the Soul Magicks book had an author, though it only had his/her initials. S.S. was written on the corner of the very last page. Whoever he/she was, Ashley was thankful he/she had shared his/her knowledge about the subject.

The following morning, she stayed behind in Potions, glad that there was a short break before her next class. Alyssa, Neville, Maia, Dominic, and Thalia all agreed to wait outside the classroom and keep watch for any other professors. Ashley gathered her Gryffindor courage and slung her satchel over her shoulder, approaching the desk where Snape sat.

“What do you need, Ms. Potter?” He sighed, not her a single glance.

Better to get straight to the point, no use in beating around the bush…

“Professor, do you know what the Elixir of Restoration is?”

Snape’s figure visibly tensed. His narrowed gaze flicked towards Ashley, suspicions swimming heavily in his dark eyes. In that moment, she understood why he was Neville’s Boggart. If she hadn’t known that Potions professor wouldn’t hex her into oblivion, she would have been afraid of him too. He had that death glare perfected, it really was intimidating! Ashley was glad she wasn’t usually at the receiving end of it.

“I’m afraid I have no idea what you are talking about.” Snape drawled, downplaying his earlier reaction.

“I don’t mean to disrespect, but I don’t believe you.”

Cue an intense stare-off, one where Ashley did her best not to shrink into herself.

“…How in Merlin’s name do you know that potion?” He inquired.

Ashley spewed her entire story in one single, lasting breath. Honestly, it was just a summary. Ashley left out any unnecessary details; she couldn’t hold her breath for that long. Snape had the typical indifferent look on his face, but she felt that he was hesitant. She understood why, Dumbledore was unfortunately a great actor and he had his lies deeply rooted inside of Snape’s mind. She pitied those who were part of the Order, those who actually believed in Dumbledore’s ‘greater good’ agenda. She was going to help them. At the very least, she would help the ones who weren’t too far in, starting with Snape.

“I could swear on my magic, if you’d like. I wouldn’t mind if that’s what it’ll take for you to believe me.” She offered, raising her wand to do just as she said.

“No, there is no need.” Snape interjected, “I believe you.”

“Oh, alright then… Great!”

Snape sighed, exasperated, but Ashley spotted the quirk of the corner of his lips. He was concealing an amused smile, and that little fact made her feel proud. It wasn’t everyday she got him to smile, even just a little bit.

“The Elixir of Restoration is something I’ve only ever read in passing. I once had a book that contained its recipe, however…”

“Dumbledore took it, didn’t he?”

Ashley cursed internally when the dark-haired man nodded. Dumbledore had such a knack for ruining things. Ashley had to think. She needed to get the book back, but how? That was it; she could sneak into Dumbledore’s office! The book was bound to be there, it had to be. Dumbledore kept most of his belongings there. Though, knowing him, the book was probably guarded by strong charms…

“If I can get your book back, will you help me brew it?”

“Brewing the elixir isn’t particularly difficult; I would have no problems there once you regain the recipe.”

“I sense a ‘but’…”

“Your problem lies within the ingredients, specifically one of them. I may be no help to you in that department.”

“Whatever it is, I’ll find it. I won’t stop until I do.”

Ashley stood tall, her voice hardened with fierce determination. A fire burned within her eyes, glowing like a forceful Killing Curse. It reminded Snape so much of Lily, the redhead had been a vicious one when the need arose. Her daughter, on the other hand, held a similar dangerous aura but the power she radiated… Her magic was stronger than she let on, stronger than what Dumbledore could ever expect. And it hadn’t even matured yet.

“Then I wish you luck in your endeavor. You’ll surely need it when you attempt to sneak inside the headmaster’s office.”

That managed to shock a laugh out of Ashley.

“I’m sure you’re already aware that I once knew your father and his band of misfits. You may not be entirely like him, but you’re still his daughter.” Snape declared.

“I’m a Marauder’s daughter, you mean.” Ashley grinned impishly.

“Yes, that.” Snape hummed, “Run along now.”

Ashley complied and stalked out the classroom, meeting up with her lingering friends. She arranged a meeting for the lot of them sometime during lunch. They had a heist to plan for.

Chapter Text

“There’s looking after your soul-bonded… And then there’s stalking.” Ashley called out, “You’re currently in the latter, Draco.”

She, Mitchelle, and Alyssa were on their way to Hagrid’s hut. Having spent the past few days focusing on their plan to sneak inside Dumbledore’s office, learning useful concealing spells and whatnot, they decided to take a little break. And what a time it was to visit a certain half-giant. The girls timed it on the night they knew for sure that he would have already gained Norbert-well, Norberta’s egg. They were ecstatic to meet an actual dragon. Ashley couldn’t wait to see if Parseltongue really did work with dragons. If it did, Harry should have used that during the tournament, although his way was good too. Any means was as long as survival was ultimately achieved in the end.

The Golden Trio had just stepped outside the castle when Ashley finally chose to acknowledge the person that had been trailing after them in the shadows for quite some time. Magic sensitivity was a great thing to have. It soothed paranoia since it could sense the magical signature of every living creature and non-living artifact. Nobody could surprise Ashley unless she wasn’t particularly paying attention, unlike her current situation. After her statement, a thump resonated from where Draco clumsily fell out of his hiding place.

“I-I’m not stalking!” He objected.

Are those silk pajamas? Damn, and here I am wearing transfigured hand-me-downs…

“Yes, you are.” Ashley countered.

She shoved her map in her pocket beside her shrunken cloak. The coast was clear for the time being. The staff patrolling the castle for the night, including the student prefects, was far from their location. And, of course, it wasn’t like any of the portraits would ever snitch on the darling Hogwarts Heiress (who was coincidentally their most favorite student).

“If you want to come with, you can. You don’t have to sneak around.” Alyssa snickered.

“Er, fine…” Draco muttered.

Red-faced, he quietly fell in step with the girls, standing quite closely to his soul-bonded. Ashley glanced at them in the corner of her eyes, and nudged Mitchelle, silently communicating that they should move away. Seeing this, Alyssa rolled her eyes and glared half-heartedly, downplaying her sudden blush. If Ashley and Mitchelle had noticed Draco reaching out to hold her hand, they thankfully kept it to themselves. They knew when to stop their teasing; they didn’t want Draco to feel any more embarrassed than he already probably did.

The four of them arrived in front of Hagrid’s home. Seeing as the Slytherins were busy with themselves, Ashley took it upon herself to knock on the door. Hagrid opened the door wearing oven mitts and an apron. He raised an eyebrow at Draco but, nevertheless, greeted the lot of them merrily and ushered them all in. They sat around the table as Hagrid turned to tend to the cauldron hung over the fire. Fang padded over and placed his head on Draco’s lap, shocking the blond still. Alyssa scooted her chair closer and petted the docile dog, urging Draco to do the same, which he reluctantly did.

“Not that I don’t appreciate your company, but why are you four here? After curfew at that...” Hagrid questioned.

Draco looked to the girls for answers but they only shrugged and updated the half-giant with the recent developments of their plans. This included Snape switching over to their side. He had also gained the protection of Ashley’s gift. She was aware that he was an accomplished Occlumens, he used the ability frequently to hide his true intentions from Voldemort after all, but it couldn’t hurt to have more security in that regard. Dumbledore receiving any kind of hint of her actions was a risk she was not willing to take.

The chatter was disrupted by the rattling of the cauldron. Hagrid rushed to retrieve what the girls knew to be a hatching dragon egg. Ashley straightened in her seat, eagerly leaning forward as the egg was placed on the table, Hagrid yelping along the way. Blissfully ignoring Draco’s squeak of terror at the sight, she let Moko slither down her arm to settle near the egg. Her familiar had such parental instincts; she would love to see him father his own little ones someday.

The dragon egg trembled and quaked as cracks began to appear on its smooth surface. Anticipating what was coming; Ashley cast wandless shielding charms around the people present. Just as she did that, the top half of the egg erupted, sending pieces of it flying across the room. The bottom half shattered into pieces as well, fully revealing the baby Norwegian Ridgeback. The little hatchling squeaked and almost slipped on her feet if it wasn’t for Moko holding her up. Remembering the aggressiveness the female newborn was bound to display; Ashley dispelled the charms and attempted to appease her before she attempted to burn anyone.

Hello, little hatchling…” Ashley hissed.

Mother…?” The dragon tilted her head curiously.

It works, good to know…

No, no… I’m not your mother, hatchling.” Ashley denied.

Where is mother?

I…don’t know, little hatchling. But that man over there, Hagrid, he’s going to take care of you until we find her, okay?

Oh, okay…

The dragon nodded and approached Hagrid who immediately began to coddle her. Draco watched the admittedly odd exchange with an incredulous look on his face, seemingly not knowing whether to laugh hysterically or back away screaming. Ashley informed the cooing half-giant that the hatchling was a girl, of which he then named her Norberta. Ashley sat back, thinking about how the bloody hell she was supposed to find the mother dragon, when she felt an uninvited presence. Her gaze snapped towards the window, catching the spectator jump and dash away.

Pansy fucking Parkinson, doesn’t she have anything better to do with her life?

“Pansy saw us!”

Retrieving Moko, Ashley tasked Mitchelle and Draco to reassure a panicked Hagrid before taking off with Alyssa in tow. They ran out of the hut and raised their wands towards the direction of the pug-faced girl. She wasn’t a very fast runner, thankfully enough. She hadn’t gotten far but even if she did, the irritated duo was sure their spells would have reached her still. Ashley gave Alyssa the opportunity to get her revenge.

Petrificus Totalus!”

Pansy froze mid-step, face-planting directly into a mud puddle. Alyssa snickered and pocketed her wand. Ashley grinned and followed suit, flicking her wrist to levitate the motionless body closer to their position. She took pity and Scourgify’d the fuming witch. Pansy may have been unable to move her mouth to spew insults but her wild, resentful eyes spoke for her. It was absolutely, utterly hilarious.

“Hello, Parkinson.” Alyssa said, smirking mockingly.

“We’ll let you off… On one condition, you don’t go ratting about to the other professors.” Ashley said nonchalantly.

“But of course, you already know better than that, right?” Alyssa remarked.

“She does, if she knows what’s good for her.” Ashley smiled, her light tone containing an underlying threat.

Finite Incantatem.”

Pansy dropped to the ground, sprawled about as she recovered from the spell. She struggled to stand up but when she did, she was unstable on her own two feet. Fists clenched, she glared heatedly at the pair of amused girls in front of her.

“You’ll regret this.”

“No, you will if you keep standing there.”

To prove her point, Alyssa whipped out her wand and shot red sparks at the ground right in front of Pansy’s feet. Ashley made her power known, eyes glowing as her magic weighed heavily in the air. Moko raised his head and bared his fangs before snapping his jaws shut.

“Don’t start something you can’t finish, pugface. Run along.” Ashley dismissed, waving her hand in a shooing motion.

“And remember, nobody likes a tattletale.” Alyssa said in a sickly, sweet voice.

“Better watch your back, Potter, Weasley!” Pansy spit out.

Ashley rolled her eyes and stepped forward, causing Pansy to squeal and retreat back to the castle. If the Slytherin were to inform any of the professors about tonight, then the Chamber of Secrets would have to be opened earlier than originally intended. Ashley and Alyssa headed back inside the hut and announced that Pansy was no longer a problem. By how disturbed Draco looked, it came across more menacing than it should have been. Ashley let his mate calm him down and instead, went to say goodbye to Hagrid, Norberta, and Fang. The girls, and one boy, had to leave before Filch and Mrs. Norris could spot them.

Rest well, hatchling.” Ashley said softly.

You as well, mother.” Norberta, well, purred.

I… Alright.” Ashley sighed, giving in to the title.

Wait, what does that make me?” Moko asked.

The overprotective uncle.” Ashley joked.

Moko paused and considered the idea for a short moment before agreeing. Ashley laughed and that was that. They left Hagrid’s hut and made their way back to their respective dormitories. The following day, the Golden Trio practiced and prepared for the Hogwarts heist they had planned. It was to be executed during the night’s feast, when Dumbledore would be occupied with eating alongside the Hogwarts staff and entirety of the student body. If anyone (Dumbledore) were to ask where the girls were, the excuse was that they were in the kitchens. The twins had already talked to the house-elves there and the creatures agreed to vouch for them. The only possible witnesses would be the portraits hooked on the walls of the corridors and inside the headmaster’s office, and the roaming ghosts. How fortunate that Ashley managed to befriend all of them. Well, she hadn’t yet befriended the office portraits but she doubted they would report her. She had sent a letter to Sirius and Remus, stating that she needed to get inside Dumbledore’s office without him knowing and to do that, Phineas would have to talk to the other portraits to pledge their silence. She found out, after receiving a thorough scolding and praising, that the past headmasters all knew of Dumbledore’s less-than-innocent dealings and that they were waiting for some to conspire against him. There was also Fawkes but she had a feeling that the phoenix wouldn’t do anything.

It’s time… Merlin, I hope this works.

“Ready?”

“Ready.”

Ashley set a brisk pace of walking towards the entrance to the headmaster’s office, flanked on both sides by Alyssa and Mitchelle. They uttered the latest password and climbed up the stairs, Ashley donning the Cloak of Invisibility around her shoulders in the process. She found out that the cloak, paired with her House rings, hid her magical signature and kept individuals from feeling the true extent of her powers unless she let them. She, of course, had a charm cast on herself to temporarily mask her magical signature just as her friends had but hers was considerably more prominent than theirs. They could jeopardize everything if Dumbledore realized that they had been in that place. So, aside from the concealing charms, they had the Marauder’s Map and Snape’s transfigured copy of the book they were going to steal.

“Merlin, I can’t believe we’re doing this!” Mitchelle whispered/yelled.

“Doing what? Trespassing?” Alyssa quipped.

“Stealing?” Ashley piped in.

“Stealing and trespassing?” She and Alyssa said simultaneously.

“…When you guys say it like that, we sound like criminals.” Mitchelle frowned.

Technically, we are, especially since we’re mentally legal. It’s best not to put much thought into it.” Ashley mused.

“Oh well…” Mitchelle shrugged.

Upon entering the large room, the trio was immediately addressed by the multiple portraits within it. Although not recognizing most of them, the girls greeted them back, if only to be polite. Ashley then faced the deceased great-great-grandfather of one of her soul-bonded.

“Good evening, Heiress Potter.” Phineas Black nodded his head in acknowledgement.

“Good evening, sir.” Ashley smiled.

That’s enough formalities, we need to hurry.

“Alright, we have fifteen minutes. Find the book, fast.” She ordered.

The three girls scattered, each one searching in different places. Alyssa wandered over to one of the many bookcases, Mitchelle approached Dumbledore’s desk, while Ashley sought near Fawkes. The raven-haired girl was focused until the phoenix squawked to gain her attention. She strolled over and frowned when she sensed the unfamiliar charms surrounding the visibly distressed bird. There was a strong concealment charm, she already knew of that, but there was something else… An imprisonment spell, that’s what it was! It was what the twins had used to keep Peter inside the box. The spell supposedly weakened its captive and prevented him/her to use his/her magic without the caster’s permission. It had a physical appearance of a silver, translucent orb, which explained the concealment charm. No wonder Fawkes looked so frail!

“Ash? What are you doing? Have you found the book yet?” Alyssa asked, crossing the room to get to her.

“He’s trapped here…”

“What?”

“Fawkes, there’s this spell that’s keeping him here! He’s trapped, and he doesn’t want to be.”

“Dumbledore, he… His own familiar…?”

Ashley and Alyssa stood there in horrified silence. The only sounds were Mitchelle shuffling about and Fawkes crying harrowingly.

“Ash, we… We can’t help him right now.”

“But he’s…”

Ashley bit her lip, knowing what Alyssa had said was true. The Potter heiress cursed, very loudly. She hated feeling helpless, feeling like she was unable to help those who needed it, but it was inevitable. Not everything would go the way she planned it to. She would be back though. There was no way she was leaving Fawkes in Dumbledore’s cruel, heartless grasp.

“Guys, I think I found it!” Mitchelle exclaimed.

Ashley sent Fawkes an apologetic look before rushing over to the Hufflepuff’s side with Alyssa. In Mitchelle’s hand was a black tome with cryptic outlines on the cover. It was exactly as Snape had described it to be. His transfigured book was an exact copy. The girls didn’t doubt his skills (and trustworthiness) one bit. Ashley placed the duplicate in the drawer where Mitchelle found the original and beat a hasty retreat. It was risky lingering in the room longer than they needed to. Well, they left after making sure they had left no evidence of their presence behind. Ashley had needed to cast a spell, which she achieved wandlessly. Without the use of a wand, she had left little to no magical essence Dumbledore could sense, not without the ability she had been blessed with.

With the inhabitants of the castle still in the great hall, the girls decided to follow through with their excuse and headed to the kitchens. The house-elves happily served them dinner; they adored the twins and whoever those two were close with (it also didn’t hurt that the elves recognized Ashley as one of the House’s Heiress). The girls thanked them and held a picnic on the floor, using Ashley’s cloak as a blanket. Munching on her food, she threw open Snape’s book and rapidly flicked through the pages, her eyes scanning for the correct recipe.

“Here, the Elixir of Restoration!”

“So, the ingredients, what are they?”

“Uh, there’s…a lot but most are standard.”

“What about the other ones? Can we find them?”

“I mean… We probably can…?”

“You don’t sound at all confident.”

“Because… Aside from the standard ingredients, we need a leaf from the Tree of Life, a phoenix teardrop for each Horcrux, and three drops of blood willingly given by the performer of the ritual.”

“Tree of Life…?”

“Yeah, I… I don’t know.”

“Alright… We have Fawkes, that’s one thing solved.”

“Yeah, and either of us are willing for the blood thing.”

“Great… Now what the bloody hell is the Tree of Life?!”

Ashley groaned and dug her palms onto her face (after removing her glasses, of course). Well, it wasn’t like she ever expected to reach her goals that easily. Obstacles like her current complication were bound to appear. Then, she promptly remembered the book she had borrowed (maybe, she was half-tempted to keep it) from the Restricted Section. It contained the wizarding myths and legends, hadn’t it? Surely something that was called the Tree of Life was included there, right? It had to be, it was such a cliché name for a magical tree!

Guess we have more work to do…

Chapter Text

“Looks like it’ll be a short game; Potter has already spotted the Snitch!”

Ashley gripped her broom and leaned forward, zooming past Cedric, her temporary rival, given that he was the current Hufflepuff Seeker. Her eyes focused on the tiny golden ball, blurring everything else in her line of sight. She dodged an incoming Bludger and continued to chase after the Snitch. Noticing that Cedric was gaining after her, she sped up and reached out an open hand. In the corner of her eyes, she saw yet another Bludger heading her way, one which Fred happily intercepted. What frustrated her though was the Snitch suddenly deciding to plummet to the ground. Still, she followed closely with her hand still outstretched.

I can do it, come on! Just a little closer…

She was in a dangerous position; land was getting nearer by the second. She heard nothing but the wind in her ears, reminding her of her fall during the first match. It felt like the crowds had stopped cheering, all waiting for her with bated breath. Straining her arm, her fingers curled around the Snitch just in time to have her pull her broom up just a few feet away from crashing. Tremendously relieved, she sighed and raised the ball high above her head. She hadn’t done much but she was tired. She wanted nothing more than to get her feet back on the ground.

“And she’s got the Snitch, without crashing this time! One hundred and fifty points to Gryffindor!”

Snape blew the whistle and announced Gryffindor as the winner. Unlike what had originally happened, the Potions professor had been unbiased regarding his refereeing. He had been tolerating the Gryffindors much more now that he had a soft spot (no matter how much he denied it) for the Potter Heiress. As the aforementioned girl landed on the field, she was ambushed by her fellow players who congratulated and praised her Seeking skills.

“Good game, Ashley! Congratulations.” Cedric commended, squeezing through the forming barricade of people.

“Thanks, Cedric.” Ashley smiled.

Her smile slowly became pinched. The students enclosing her were suffocating. She didn’t like being surrounded so completely. Thankfully, the twins took note of her discomfort and lifted her up on their shoulders just as they did her first game. Breathing was much easier then. They were proving to be her saviors time and time again. Feeling her magic spike, she snapped her gaze towards the stands where her both Sirius and Remus stood. She waved enthusiastically and beamed when they reciprocated. She was eventually placed back on her feet when the crowds dissipated, most heading to the Gryffindor common room to celebrate. She ran and met her soul-bonded halfway across the field as they descended from the stands.

“We won!” She exclaimed, leaping straight into their open arms.

“You were amazing, darling.” Remus complimented, placing a peck on her cheek.

“Nearly had a heart attack seeing you plummet to the ground, it’s a good thing you didn’t fall like last time.” Sirius teased.

“Hey, that was an accident.” Ashley laughed.

She quieted down; relishing the warmth Sirius and Remus’ embrace provided her. Spending weeks without them was terrible; she had gotten so used to their presence. She pulled away as she felt something slither around her neck. It was Moko, figured he would have found his way to the two men. Sirius was fantastic with animals of all kinds, even with those he used to have prejudice against. Moko hissed ecstatically, applauding (metaphorically, of course) Gryffindor’s win.

“We’re so, so proud of you, Bambi.” Remus cooed.

“And I’m sure Lily and James are too.” Sirius stated softly.

Ashley hoped so, she truly did. She never wanted to be the pathetic disappointment her uncle claimed her to be, especially not to those she cared for more than anything in the world. With these thoughts filling her head, she smiled and hugged her soul-bonded one last time before she heard her name be called out. She glanced at the source and saw Hagrid gesturing them over. Sirius and Remus stood from where they were kneeling and guided her over to him. The half-giant invited them to his hut and they willingly went with. The two Marauders had nothing better to do and they wanted to spend time with their Bambi, and she felt the same way. Also, a raging party was bound to be taking place in the common room and she would rather not.

Mother! Uncle!” Norberta greeted, flapping her wings unsteadily in the air.

Her little wings failed her for the time being, Ashley having caught her just in time to save her from hitting the ground. The raven-haired girl giggled at the dragon nuzzling her and Moko, and at Sirius and Remus’ shocked faces. Eventually, the men wandered off to the table to chat, about Dumbledore maybe, while she, her familiar, and her persistently self-acclaimed hatchling huddled near the fire with Fang.

Mother, you flew so well! And without wings too, it was incredible!

You were there?

Yes! Hagrid hid me under his robes so that I could watch you!

Norberta absolutely refused to call Hagrid her father even though Ashley insisted that she should. He was, after all, the one currently raising the dragon. However, Norberta argued that he was more of a coddling caretaker, and that her father would be her mother’s, Ashley in this case, partner (or partners, she wouldn’t judge, there was nothing wrong with having more than one mate).

Well then, thank you, hatchling. But I bet that you’ll be much better when you’re grown.

Hopefully… I’m not that good at flying yet. Mother, who are they?

When Ashley expressed her confusion, Norberta lifted her tail to point at Sirius and Remus.

Them? Well… They’re my mates, but they don’t know it yet.

Mates?! Oh, they’re my fathers then!

I, well… Sure, yeah, they’re your fathers.

Ashley knew better than to feud with the dragon. Norberta was a stubborn one for sure. She would have still perceived Sirius and Remus as her fathers no matter what, just as she did Ashley as her mother. The dragon requested that she be taken to her fathers, which an amused Ashley obliged with. Sirius almost sprung out of his seat as Norberta was placed on his shoulder and immediately began rubbing against his cheek. She used him as leverage to jump over to Remus who held her with wide eyes.

“Is this a Norwegian Ridgeback? I’ve read about these. But from my knowledge, females are said to be really aggressive.” The werewolf commented.

“I suppose it’s because of Ashley here, pretty sure Norberta sees her as her mother.” Hagrid explained.

The men turned to look at Ashley who merely shrugged. She joined the conversation which led to Sirius mentioning his dearly missed motorcycle. Hagrid then showed them the vehicle behind the hut, Sirius crying out in joy upon spotting it. The Animagus rushed towards it, dragging along Remus and Ashley with him. Sirius spent minutes raving over his motorcycle before urging Remus and Ashley to take a ride with him. The werewolf was reluctant to get in the sidecar but who was he to reject an opportunity to have fun with his cub and mate? The motorcycle held many memories of the Marauders together, and a few of a baby Bambi. It was nice to reminisce.

Eventually, night fell and it was time to go. Sirius and Remus had to head back home since they couldn’t very well stay at Hogwarts. Of course, they couldn’t take their Bambi with them either. She was left longing and incomplete but she soldiered through it. She finally changed out of her Quidditch robes and arrived at the Gryffindor common room. The celebration hadn’t come to an end like she had expected. Actually, it was far from over. Dozens of students filled the enlarged circular room. Most were obviously lions, some were badgers despite their loss, and there were even a few snakes mixed in. There were no eagles, which was understandable since the final exams were coming up. The raucous managed to gain volume as Ashley entered.

Ignoring the headache all of the shouting and loud music gave her, she acknowledged and smiled at those who greeted her. When she’d had enough and was half-tempted to sick Moko on whoever approached her next, her redhead saviors swept in once more. Fred distracted everyone while George snuck her out and to the Room of Requirement. She’d been there a lot the past two weeks. Ever since she’d found the recipe for the Elixir of Restoration, she needed somewhere to brainstorm for where to find the Tree of Life. The twins had originally offered their dorm, willing to charm the room to keep their dorm mates out until they were done for the day, but Ashley chose a more secure location. After all, the Room of Requirement wasn’t easily accessible if you were unaware of its existence and how to summon it. There was also the fact that it was exclusively easy for Ashley as the Gryffindor Heiress, the castle let her inside and granted its protection from any unwanted visitors (namely Dumbledore).

The room was convenient and comfortable, always shifting into the living room of the happiest yet shortest part of her childhood. It looked exactly like a replica of the one within her memories. However, it lacked the loving presence of her family. It was still pleasant though, seeing as it was the first home she’d ever considered her own (as Ashley Potter, Ashley Theroux’s home was the apartment). She also had the company of the twins, who miraculously knew every single one of her plans without her needing to ever tell them. They also seemed to know things that she didn’t. She had to admit, she was a bit creeped out, but at least they were loyal to her. Aside from Mitchelle, Alyssa, and Snape, the twins were the only ones who knew about her wanting to help Voldemort. She had been truthful towards her other friends and her two soul-bonded but she couldn’t tell them everything. There were things that had to be left out of the conversation until the time was right. Voldemort was a hard topic, especially to Neville, Sirius, and Remus. They’d been terrorized by the Dark Lord before, causing them to lose some of the people they’d loved. Ashley couldn’t tell them she was planning on bringing Tom Riddle back, they’d surely feel betrayed and she definitely didn’t want that. There would be a time where she’d be forced to tell them but until then, she was opting to keep her silence. Pushing those dark thoughts to the back of her mind, she focused on the task at hand as she sat on the couch between Fred and George.

Where the hell could the tree be?

According to the book of myths and legends, the story of the Tree of Life dated back to even before the Hogwarts founders’ era. It was said to be where Lady Magic rested. Her power ran through every fiber of the tree, guarding it wholly. The illustration depicted a tall tree with silver leaves that allegedly had such regenerative powers that its healing touched the very soul of any living being. However, there was no proof of its existence. None had been given the chance to find it. At least, none had claimed to have been able to. That was where Ashley’s problem laid. The tree had to be real if it was the source of a potion ingredient, but how would she find it? There was no clue or hint that could pinpoint it. The creator of the elixir must have known but he/she was unknown. It was incredibly frustrating. There was a small consolation, though, with having read through the Wizarding World’s stories.

Written in the book was the legend of Yndris, the Alpha Dragon, and the very last Night Fury to have ever existed. His story as the familiar of Varian Peverell was full of dangerous yet wondrous adventures. It was certainly a tale worth telling and at the end, the reason for the rare creature inheritance was revealed. Varian had been gravely injured by a rogue dragon and Yndris, desperate to keep his greatest friend alive, merged their souls together to form one. Varian had gone through an excruciatingly painful process until his body fully adjusted to the new power he was given. Thus, dragon shifters were born. But the new information about her creature inheritance hadn’t been the main thing on Ashley’s mind.

The bloody Tree of Life was all she thought about until the final exams. That week had been…troublesome. The tests were fine, really. They were substantially easier than the tests back in the real world, probably because it was magic and Ashley was far more invested in the school subjects (and far more capable). Despite how well she did with the exams, she was devastated to lose the dragon hatchling that had clawed her way into her heart. Norberta had grown just enough to begin causing trouble. She had accidentally (or maybe it was on purpose, Ashley wasn’t sure) set Pansy’s robes on fire when the Slytherin attempted to kidnap her to get revenge on the girls. Pansy had since then avoided the group altogether. She was sufficiently traumatized.

Due to that incident, Ashley and Hagrid thought it best that Norberta be transferred somewhere befitting for a growing dragon. Alyssa contacted Charlie who was given permission to visit the school by McGonagall (there was no way they’d have talked to Dumbledore). He took Norberta who had been visibly upset, crying out for her mother. Ashley quite honestly felt her heart break in that moment but she knew it was all for the best. Summer break wasn’t far off; she would visit her hatchling frequently then. And that was what she promised Norberta to appease her enough to leave without burning anyone.

Then, the most-awaited event of the school year came. At least, that’s what it was for the Golden Trio. The upcoming night, Voldemort would finally be pursuing the Philosopher’s Stone and the girls were ready. They had everything planned out with contingencies in place in case Voldemort decided to act out. It wasn’t impossible; Tom Riddle had a temper, significantly reckless for a Slytherin. He should have known better than to make multiple Horcruxes. Honestly, one, maybe two, would have been enough. Fear really did do things to people; even the smartest ones could be corrupted by it.

Mitchelle and Alyssa opted to stay with Ashley in the Gryffindor dormitory to make their escapade easier to execute. Immediately after curfew, under the invisible disguise of the invisibility cloak, the three of them snuck inside the forbidden corridor. They had to wait minutes in the dark until Quirrell arrived, looking as jumpy as ever. They wondered where the harp was when he conjured a miniature version of it. Just as he moved to enlarge it, they dropped the cloak, earning his panicked attention.

“Ms. P-Potter-” He stuttered.

“You can stop talking like that; you’re just making it hard for yourself.” Ashley commented.

“I-I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re t-talking about.” Quirrell laughed nervously.

“We know your secret; we know what’s under your turban.” Alyssa revealed.

And just like that, Quirrell’s attitude shifted. Gone was the stuttering, PTSD-faking, DADA professor, replaced by the power-hungry, loyal servant of the Dark Lord Voldemort. Quirrell snapped his wand at the girls, throwing an offensive spell which was rendered useless by the shield charm Ashley had wordlessly cast.

“Professor, please, you don’t have to attack us.” Mitchelle frowned.

“I will not let you stop-” Quirrell sneered.

“We’re not here to stop you.” Ashley interrupted.

“…You’re lying.” Quirrell denied.

“We’re not.” The three girls chorused.

To prove their point, they raised their wands and swore a magical oath. Nothing constricting, an Unbreakable Vow wasn’t the only way to swear on magic. It was just the most powerful one, seeing as it needed a witness and bound a person to another. There were less risky ways that were typically used for disclosing the truth without Veritaserum. Quirrell, undoubtedly listening to a curious Voldemort’s demands, relaxed his threatening stance. Remembering Moody’s repeated quote of ‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE’, Ashley placed a protective charm on her and her friends before steering Quirrell through all the professors’ trials to get to the stone.

The girls did all the work for him as he followed in a state of confusion, wondering what the bloody hell was going on and what their intentions were. For them, it was an exciting little adventure. The first three trials were simply solved. Fluffy let them pass trouble-free (but not without growling at Quirrell), the Devil’s Snare was defeated by the exact same spell Hermione had used, and the flying key was Accio’d. Now, the Wizard’s Chess took quite a while to get through. Luckily, none were injured or maimed. The group continued on to Snape’s puzzle and finally, to the underground chamber containing the Mirror of Erised.

Ashley approached the magical artifact but paused in her steps once she felt the charms surrounding it. She recognized them as alert spells, similar to the ones she typically used to guard her trunk. She figured that should anyone take the Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore would instantly be notified of its absence. This meant that it would be a few minutes at most before the professors arrived alongside him. Ashley warned her companions of this. Mitchelle and Alyssa consequently agreed that it was time to put their plan into motion.

They had realized earlier on that it wouldn’t do to give Voldemort the stone and just have him disappear. That was too suspicious and they would be questioned. So in order to hide their secret agenda, they constructed the flawless scheme of recreating/faking Quirrell’s death scene. They provided a replica of the stone and a pouch full of ashes that were to act as his fallen body. Ashley pulled out each, explaining their uses and the spell that would make the items temporarily gain the magical signature of what they were copying. Quirrell narrowed his eyes and turned his back to the mirror, all the while unveiling the face on the back of his head. The snake-faced, technically-somewhat-immortal Dark Lord stared at the reflection of who was supposed to be his biggest enemy.

“Voldemort.” Ashley greeted.

“Ashley Potter,” Voldemort hissed, “why are you children so willingly betraying Dumbledore?”

“Because Albus Dumbledore is a meddling, old fool that deserves to perish, preferable painfully and at our hands.” Ashley grinned wickedly.

“This stone is the only thing we can help with right now, if you don’t count ruining his reputation from behind the scenes. We’ve also figured out a way to restore your soul and sanity, we’re currently working on it. Splitting your soul six times was not a good idea.”

“How dare you-…six?”

“Oh, right, you don’t know yet. The night you killed my parents, I’m sure you remember? You made me a Horcrux. Why do you think I’m able to speak Parseltongue?

“How?”

“My mother’s sacrifice, it protected me. It still protects me, actually. And look, I understand that you want to remain immortal so we’ll compromise. I’ll gladly house the small soul fragment I have while you absorb the others. It would have the least affect on you, meaning it won’t stop you from reaching full power.”

Upon processing just how much knowledge over him the girls possessed, Voldemort regained his caution/paranoia-induced anger. Ashley raised her arms slightly from beside her, wordlessly casting another set of protective charms.

“How do you know any of this?”

“…Should we tell him?”

“I don’t know, should we?”

“He won’t really be able to do anything with the explanation. It’ll just make things clearer for him… So I think we should.”

“I’m right here.”

“We know.”

The Golden Trio continued to discuss their plan of action as Voldemort stood there, fuming. Before he could start attacking, the girls summarized their interaction with the Wishing Stone that they had acquired from that odd store. Due to the oath they took a bit earlier, Voldemort had no other choice but to believe them. There was no point in arguing if he would be gaining the aces in winning the war between light and dark.

“You may not have a choice in all this. There is a prophecy regarding my defeat at your hands.”

“Oh, screw the prophecy. I’ve never been much of a follower, especially when I’m lacking supervision. I’ll make my own destiny, thank you very much.”

“You’re really surrendering the stone?”

“Yes, yes we are.”

“We weren’t really defending it from you, so I don’t count it as surrendering. Nevertheless, I’m sure you know that you need to go into hiding after this. Build your strength with your new body.”

“Don’t gather your Death Eaters just yet, by the way. That’ll attract the Order’s attention and we can’t have that. No one can know you’re alive until I’ve turned the Order members against the old goat.”

“Do not give me orders.”

“We’re not; we’re giving you very helpful advice.”

“You also have to know that we won’t take the Dark Mark, we’re not your followers and I’m destined to be your equal. That’s one thing I won’t argue against.”

Ashley met Voldemort’s glare with one of her own, averse to losing her stand. When he backed down, she handed the pouch of ashes over to Alyssa, tasking the redhead to cast the spell to it with Voldemort’s consent. Mitchelle could have helped but the core of her wand wasn’t very stable when performing dark spells and such.

The Trace is pathetic now that I think about it. If it was the least bit worthwhile, our wands should have been confiscated after the first dark spell we tried.

Ashley faced the mirror and thought of only finding the stone and nothing else. Her reflection tilted its head to the side and dug into its pocket, pulling its hand out to display the white-tinted red stone in its open palm. The reflection placed the stone back inside its pocket with a smile. Ashley retrieved the stone and passed it to Mitchelle who duplicated its magical signature off to the fake stone. After the deed was finished, the Philosopher’s Stone was given to Voldemort while Ashley smashed the fake one at her feet. It was better that way. There would be no need for Dumbledore to take it to Nicolas Flamel, who would surely recognize it for what it really was, in order to destroy it.

“Make it look like there was a fight of some kind, we can’t afford any of them doubting that there wasn’t.” Ashley demanded.

Alyssa spread the ashes in an uneven pattern near where the other girls stood. She retreated to her friends’ side and held her wand loosely in her hand.

“We trust you not to kill us.”

“I know that this isn’t the smartest idea. We shouldn’t trust you with our lives, but we do.”

“We’ve agreed to help you, and you know that. But hurt any of us tonight further than necessary? We won’t hesitate defeating you. Trust us when we say we know exactly how.”

“And how will you achieve that when all three of you are no longer living?”

“You have your Death Eaters, we have our friends. And remember, kill me, and you’ll be killing your Horcrux.”

So they were bluffing a bit, that was fine. Voldemort seemed to believe it, it was really all in the confidence of how they spoke.

“Are you threatening me?”

“I guess you could say that.”

“…Very well then.”

Ashley nullified the protective charms she purposely prolonged to tire her core. That would be enough evidence to show whoever checked that her magic was sufficiently used enough to weaken her and knock her out.

Flipendo!”

The strength of the jinx managed to knock the three girls back against the stairs behind them, sending their wands rolling away. Stunning spells were directed towards Alyssa and Mitchelle, successfully knocking them out. Ashley, on the other hand, had hit the back of her head, causing black spots to dance around within her vision. Through half-opened eyes, she saw Quirrell linger over her and her friends’ limp forms before apparating away. That was the last thing she saw before she, too, fell unconscious.

Chapter Text

The first thing Ashley felt when she woke up was pain. Her back side ached distantly, including her head. She heard hushed whispers between two familiar voices from somewhere near, voices she recognized were owned by her two soul-bonded mates. Her instincts quickly kicked in, she wanted to see them. Her eyes fluttered open and she cringed as she adjusted to the bright atmosphere of what she knew to be Hogwarts’ hospital wing. Blinking groggily, she pushed herself in a sitting position and gingerly touched the gauze wrapped around her head. She searched for her glasses and put them on. She glanced around, taking note of the privacy screens, the closed curtains, and the numerous gifts placed either on the floor or the side table where she found her glasses. There were sweets and such, along with a few greeting cards, all from her schoolmates and close friends. She ignored them in favor of acknowledging the curled figure by her blanketed feet. She moved her feet, successfully waking the slumbering snake. Moko raised his head and quickly slithered over to her, immensely happy that she was finally conscious. Petting her hissing familiar, that was when she noticed the vague shadows of a couple behind the curtains in front of her.

“Remy, Siri?” She called out a bit hoarsely.

The two shadows froze upon hearing her and hurriedly broke through the thin barrier of cloth. Moving the gifts away, Sirius rushed to her right side, occupying the seat there with Remus doing the same on her left. As she expected, they mothered her and urged her to lie back down. Even though her heart warmth at their blatant care for her, she refused to give into their wishes. She hadn’t been stabbed or anything, she was fine. And she told the men just that.

“Bambi, darling, you’ve been out for almost two days!” Sirius protested.

She…certainly hadn’t planned that. She thought she would have woken up after a few hours at most. Her head injury must have been quite troubling. No wonder Sirius and Remus were worried sick. Ashley briefly wondered where her friends were but she figured that they had been discharged much earlier, having only been stunned. She was sure they were okay. They were most likely keeping their group and the other students at bay, stopping them from ambushing the hospital wing.

Wait, two days?! That means the last game is tomorrow! I hope they’ll still let me play…

“I thought you said you’d be careful.” Remus frowned, reaching over to grasp Ashley’s hand.

“I’m sorry…” She apologized, staring down at their intertwined hands.

“Do you realize how worried we were when Minerva Floo’d in to tell us that you were hurt because of Voldemort?!” Sirius exclaimed, seemingly close to tears.

Ashley couldn’t understand how bad it all seemed from his and Remus’ perspectives. They thought she was safe, and she’d said she would be. Then all of a sudden, they were heading off to Hogwarts in a panicked rush. It was unbelievably terrifying for them to see her laying limp on a hospital bed, bandaged up and unable to move. She had gotten hurt by the same man that murdered her parents, and they had been far way, thus unable to protect her. It was incredibly frustrating and they were disappointed in themselves, but what could they have done? They knew, however, that that wasn’t the case. They could have advised their Bambi against facing the Dark Lord without any kind of back-up, excluding her best friends who were children just like her. If only she had informed them of her plan… Why hadn’t she?

“Why didn’t you tell us about the Philosopher’s Stone, or that Voldemort was after it? I thought we agreed to no more secrets between us.” Sirius said with knitted eyebrows.

“We could have found a way to help you somehow, Bambi. We told you that…” Remus sighed.

“…Don’t you trust us?” Sirius asked, vividly hurt at the implication.

And there was the question Ashley was afraid to hear. She trusted the two men with all of her heart and soul. The problem was that she didn’t trust them to accept her allegiance with the Dark Lord whom they’d fought a war against. She understood their reasons, and maybe if she’d known her parents for as long as they had, she would have hated Voldemort too. But she hadn’t, and she’d already made her choice. She would help Tom Riddle return, no matter the consequences, and together, they would drag Dumbledore down to the deepest pits of hell where the old man quite frankly belonged. She could only hope that when time came where they found out her dealings with the Dark Lord, they would be able to forgive her.

“I do but…” She hesitated, “I thought the three of us could handle it… A-and we did!”

“But you still got hurt!” Sirius burst out and stood, making his chair skid back.

Ashley attempted not to flinch but she couldn’t help herself. She absolutely despised being yelled at in an angry way. It usually meant that she was about to get hit by something. Partner that with that a much taller and bigger person than her (not difficult considering her smaller-than-normal stature), and she was officially intimidated. She had dealt with years of verbal and physical abuse; her mentality of certain things had learnt to adjust. And well, there was a reason that she had been living somewhere out of her parents’ house at the young age of eighteen. She never liked thinking about it too much but to put it simply, she and her parents had their problems that they just couldn’t solve.

“I’m sorry, Bambi… I didn’t mean to yell, I just…” Sirius cut himself off, plopping down on his chair dejectedly.

“…Are you disappointed in me?” Ashley murmured.

“No… No, we could never be disappointed in you.” Remus assured, shooting Sirius a pointed look.

“But I’m sure you understand why we’re upset with what’s happened.”

Ashley nodded and tugged on Remus’ hand that she had not let go of, silently requesting him to sit on the empty spot beside her. Before Sirius could sulk even further, she extended a hand towards him as well. He accepted it with a guilty look and a whispered apology. He and Remus got comfortable on the bed and gently wrapped their arms around Ashley, basking in the feeling of pure joy within their hearts. The talking could be pushed aside for later when she was declared fully healed. For now, it was best to enjoy each other’s conscious company. A complete pack…

“Good afternoon, Ashley, Sirius, Remus.”

Of course, Dumbledore just had to arrive, thoroughly disturbing the peace that had settled in. Ashley felt the exact moment her soul-bonded tense. Not having seen Dumbledore since the custody trial and with how much they had learned about him after that point in time, she knew that they had a lot of pent up anger towards the man. Her, on the other hand… Well, she had lots of practice in tolerating the wizard.

“Albus…” Remus greeted, his eyes flashing amber momentarily.

“I’ll go call Poppy, tell her you’re awake.” Sirius gritted out.

He slid off the bed, planting a loving kiss on Ashley’s temple and brushing his hand over Remus’, before slinking away to find the school matron. As a pureblood, he had been raised to keep an impassive face but he, admittedly, was known for losing control of his temper. He wanted to let go, to hex Dumbledore with every single dark curse his mother had forcibly taught him (and also used on him), including the Unforgivables, to exhibit just how talented a Black was in terms of torture. However, he knew he couldn’t do any of that. So, even if he was reluctant to leave his mate and pup, he opted to avoid the straining situation of speaking with Albus fucking Dumbledore.

“Good afternoon, Headmaster.” Ashley fought the impulse to scowl.

“How are you, my dear?” Dumbledore inquired.

He stood at the end of the bed, his eyes twinkling in that severely irritating way of his. Ashley cringed internally at that and the insincere endearment both. Remus sensed his cub’s uneasiness and scooted closer to placate his own. He found himself agreeing more and more with his wolf’s violent threats of murder. They could make it out all to be an accident during the next full moon maybe, when he would coincidentally forget to take his Wolfsbane. Nobody even had to find out; Sirius would surely, and very willingly, assist him... That was…dark, Moony had to stop influencing Remus’ thoughts. It really was worrying at times.

“I’m fine.” Ashley replied, mustering the sweetest smile she had.

“That’s great news indeed. You seem to have received multiple tokens from your admirers.”

“Yeah, I figured the story wouldn’t stay a secret. I’m guessing the moment I walk out of here, I’ll be cornered by those admirers.”

“I’m afraid I can’t stop the students from doing that. They view you as their savior, and they’re not wrong, my dear.”

Ashley almost rolled her eyes at that. She could handle being called the savior, she really was aiming to save people, but she was not Dumbledore’s anything. He had to stop referring to her like that. She wasn’t going to become a little puppet like the rest of his blind followers. That was the worst thing that could ever happen to her. Death was nothing compared to that. Sadly, she had to keep her opinions to herself. She doubted she would be prepared to battle him anytime soon. It wouldn’t be until Tom Riddle regained power, supported by his most loyal Death Eaters (which may or may not be including Bellatrix, her survival was still up for debate) and hopefully her own recruits.

Dumbledore continued to converse with the werewolf and his cub, both people wanting to be anywhere else rather than stick to their current predicament. Instead of being forced to endure the aged wizard’s company longer than they wanted to, he fortunately had to leave (later than they wanted, but that was fine). Madam Pomfrey then appeared with Sirius in tow. The Animagus immediately reclaimed his position beside Ashley who latched onto his arm.

“Hello, Madam Pomfrey.” She smiled while Remus offered a similar greeting.

“Hello. How is your head, Ms. Potter?” Pomfrey asked, moving to stand closer.

“It hurts a bit… But it’s fine, I can handle it!” Ashley rushed the second sentence out as soon as she noticed Sirius and Remus’ worried looks.

“I believe you, but if you don’t mind, I still want to scan you and then we’ll remove your bandage.”

Ashley nodded and sat stock still as the Healer pulled out her wand, casting a simple diagnostic spell.

“You’re healing up quite nicely. Your core is already fully rested. You have a bump on the back of your head but the cut is sealed. Now, I must insist you take these.”

Ashley hadn’t known that she had actually been wounded but that did rationalize her bandaged head. She probably should have figured that out earlier on. Focusing back on reality, she made a confused sound as Pomfrey handed her two small bottles of potions she didn’t recognize. Both bottled transparent, Ashley saw that one held bubbly liquid that was a pale shade of green while the other contained a blood-like substance. She made her uncertainty known, prompting the school matron to explain.

“Your first time here, I discovered that you have injuries that never healed right, most likely due to improper treatment or perhaps no treatment at all.”

Pomfrey’s last assumption wasn’t wrong. Ashley had been gifted many beatings all throughout her childhood, none of which were taken care of. The Dursleys had never bothered to bring her to the hospital since she hadn’t been on the brink of dying just yet. That was all they cared about; they just didn’t want her to stain their lovely home with her rotting body. That was why they kept her fed and dehydrated (half of the time). Her magic was all she had but of course, that hadn’t been enough to correct the abuse her body received. It was a complete miracle that she could still function normally. Well, except for the eating issue, but she had improved thanks to the twins’ incessant coddling during every meal they had together.

“I’m concerned that this may be the reason you don’t seem to be growing like a normal eleven year old should. Apparently, Professor Snape shared the same belief. So when I approached him, he agreed to make these for you.”

That was kind of him, Remus thought.

He was aware that his cub was Snape’s alleged favorite student aside from the Malfoy Heir, but the man seemed to actually care for Ashley. That was a wonder in itself since the Marauders never did have great encounters with him. Remus figured he would have held a grudge which would have included James’ own daughter. The werewolf was thankful that that wasn’t at all the case and though he would never admit it, so was Sirius.

Pomfrey instructed that the green potion was for Ashley’s past injuries, to make sure everything was alright, and the red one was for the scars she had. Each was to be taken once a day for the next seven days, starting the next morning. The Potter Heiress was most thankful for the last potion. There were scars on her arms visible for everyone to gawk at, however light they were, but she had larger marks underneath her clothing. It would be nice if she could have spotless skin once more.

“Wait… Since I’m fine now, does that mean I can play for the team tomorrow?” She perked up.

“You mean play Quidditch? Bambi, no, you need to rest!” Sirius reprimanded.

“C’mon, Siri, please! I promise I’m fine, I can do it!” Ashley swore.

“Ashley…” Remus sighed.

Ashley grimaced at hearing her real name. He and Sirius only ever used it in place of their nicknames for her when they were serious about a given subject. But even then, she didn’t hear it very much from them. The last they’d used it was when they’d just found out about Dumbledore’s wicked ways and attempted to sway her from her plans. She wasn’t about to give in though. She knew the future of Gryffindor if she was kept away and she did say that she would change the events she wasn’t satisfied with.

“Madam Pomfrey…” Ashley whined.

She could get away with the childish action. She actually was a child, physically at least, unlike Sirius who was the exact opposite.

“Well, I would suggest that you rest for a bit more but if you’re anything like your father, you’d be just as stubborn.” Pomfrey deadpanned, “You can play with the team with your guardians’ permission.”

“Permission we won’t give.” Sirius asserted.

Ashley pouted but he stayed firm. She looked to Remus for help but he agreed with his lover, shaking his head to make his stand in the matter clear. Her shoulders slumped in defeat but she then got an idea. What better way to gain their favor than to use the love they had for her to her advantage? She might as well have made use of the Slytherin traits she possessed.

“Padfoot, Moony, you know I love you… Please, will you let me?” She pleaded softly, tilting her head downwards and looking through her eyelashes.

She witnessed the moment their walls crumbled to the ground, no match for her bright doe eyes. She mentally celebrated her victory as they melted under her pitiful gaze. They begrudgingly gave in, chuckling when she squealed and pulled them in for a huge hug. She promised to be careful, informing them that Fred and George would look out for her. She giggled when her soul-bonded became slightly aggravated upon mentioning the twins. Her soul-bonded truly had nothing against the redheads; it was her closeness with them that proved to be a bother.

Minutes later, she was free to roam the castle corridors again. Sirius and Remus had vehemently dismissed the idea of leaving her to her own devices. They chose to go on a stroll on school grounds together before they could see Dumbledore again, an occurrence which would then tempt the two men to leave instantly. Once was more than enough, it was already pushing the limit actually. Rounding a corner, Ashley caught sight of someone she owed her gratitude to.

“Professor Snape!”

The Potions professor turned at the call of his name, spotting her speeding towards him. He sighed, exasperated, as she was closely followed by two of his past enemies, one of which he still somewhat held a grudge over. Sirius felt the exact same way, resorting to dragging his feet to slow his steps as Remus tugged him forward. Ashley folded her hands behind her back and grinned at the tall, black-clad wizard.

“Ms. Potter,” He drawled, “how wonderful it is to see you up and about. How are you feeling?”

“I’m alright now. Thank you for the potions.” She said, patting her pocket where she had kept the bottles.

Sirius remembered Snivellus quite well, the greasy git. Never the social butterfly, Snape had stuck close to Lily whom the Marauders knew he was in love with. That was the main reason they (mainly James and Sirius) bullied him, the others being that he was well-versed in dark magic and he was on good terms with the awful likes of Lucius Malfoy and the Lestranges, including Bellatrix. But, Sirius realized that these things did not justify his actions as a teenager. During that certain period in his life, he knew that he himself could be occasionally classified as an outright tosser. As an adult, he had to apologize for his past mistakes. Although, achieving that verbally would be a bit of a complication.

As tense as the air was between Ashley’s soul-bonded and her Potions professor, they managed to be civil towards one another all for her sake. An odd, somewhat strained ‘friendship’ was constructed, the men knowing and accepting that they were fighting on the same side against the school headmaster. Growing bored with listening to the adults chat, Ashley’s gaze aimlessly wandered until she noticed the two individuals waving her over. She announced her leave and slipped away, setting a fast pace of walking and apologetically smiling when her soul-bonded sent her exasperated looks. They would all have time to be with each other eventually. Summer break was swiftly approaching after all.

“Hey, what did you tell the others?”

Ashley got straight to the point upon reaching Alyssa and Mitchelle. There was no point in beating around the bush. The others would surely be searching by now and they needed to discuss a certain subject.

“We told them the same story everybody else got, and well…” Mitchelle trailed off, seeming apprehensive.

“They’re all upset with us.” Alyssa finished.

“Except for the twins, as per usual.” Mitchelle quipped.

“Right, except for those two…” Alyssa rolled her eyes, “They know we’re lying to them, Ash.”

“It’s time to tell them.” Ashley decided, “If there’s one thing I know, it’s that secrets can destroy a group.”

Take the Marauders for examplebut then again, Peter was a bloody coward.

“Do you think that’ll calm them down, or make them even angrier?”

“We’re about to see, they’re coming this way.”

Ashley winced and turned towards the sound of determined footsteps belonging to the people they had been speaking of. She raised her hands defensively, cutting off the onslaught of questions and accusations, and suggested that they talk somewhere else. The answers they sought for were much too valuable to just speak about where anyone could overhear. The Room of Requirement was the perfect place to go to. Everyone gathered in a circle as a stand-off between friends began.

“Okay, I’m sorry.” Ashley began as soon as the doors were shut, flanked by Mitchelle and Alyssa.

“Sorry? That’s all you have to say?” Ai deadpanned.

“Look… I understand that you’re mad at me and I don’t blame you, but-” Ashley attempted to appease.

“Mad? Oh no, we‘re not mad, more so…betrayed.” Maia remarked.

“I thought you trusted us enough to tell us everything… We’re a group, remember?” Neville frowned.

“I know that. We are a group, and I do trust you. However, there are some things that are…” Ashley hesitated, “more than a little difficult to explain.”

“Tell us even then.” Heaven pressed, “We may not understand at first, but we’ll still stand by you, right guys?”

Murmurs of assurance filled the large space. The company stared expectantly at Ashley; they really knew how to pressure her. She took a deep breath and disclosed her official-but-not-really alliance with the Dark Lord. She paid attention to the reactions of her audience. Each varied but she felt almost no negativity except from Alexandra, which she took as mostly a good sign.

“I understand if you don’t want anything to do with us anymore…”

“What? No way, this’ll be fun!”

Ashley’s lips formed a small smile which then only grew when she caught sight of the similar expression Neville wore. He was the one person she had been most worried about. He had personally never met the Dark Lord but his parents had been tortured to insanity by four of the man’s loyal followers. Ashley had been certain he would have qualms with her plans but apparently, she was wrong. She probably should have had more faith in the Gryffindor’s kindness. Mitchelle and Alyssa also shouldn’t have worried. Their soul-bonded were with them for the long haul, although Draco was quite obviously nervous about the whole thing.

“Wait… What are we?” Cora asked out loud.

“What do you mean?” Mitchelle furrowed his eyebrows.

“I mean, what’s our group called? We need a wicked name.” Cora stated.

“I know we’re technically working with…Voldemort but I’m not calling myself a Death Eater.” Thalia announced.

“Yeah, definitely not that…” Alyssa snickered.

Crack.

“I’m sure our little raven here has an idea.”

Almost everyone in the vicinity jumped and/or screamed at the deep voices that spoke. Alyssa merely rolled her eyes, while Ashley giggled at the presence of two of her favorite people looming behind her. Fred and George bent down to her height and placed identical pecks on her cheeks, causing a reddish tint to appear. She ignored the bewildered squawks that questioned how the twins were able to apparate as third years and answered Cora.

“Hm… Well, pranking may not be our focus, except for a few of us, but I’d like to think we’re the new generation of Marauders.” She shrugged.

“Ohhh, I like that!” Heaven cheered.

“What an honor that is, especially coming from the descendant of one.” Fred smirked.

That was that then, they were the brand new generation of Marauders. Everyone was in agreement and to commemorate the occasion, Ashley summoned her camera out of thin air. She filed away in the back of her mind the fact that while the rest piled behind her for the picture, Alexandra kept to herself off to the side. Moving past her suspicion, Ashley levitated the camera and grinned alongside her friends.

We’ll carry on the Marauder name. I hope I’m making you proud, dad.

Chapter Text

"Yet another year has gone, and what a year it has been."

Dumbledore stood with his hands folded together, calmly overlooking the great hall and the students gathered within it. Uttering his speech, he'd gained all the attention except for a few people, one of them being Ashley. She couldn't care less about his supposedly encouraging words; she was much too busy admiring the new decor of the vast room. Green and silver were hung from the ceiling to honor the Slytherins for winning the House Cup. Aside from the competitive folks, none were too upset with the knowledge. The Marauders (Ashley loved using that term, and Sirius and Remus were proud to have her use it) had succeeded in lessening the House rivalry, although there still was a bit of friendly completion in action. It was all in good fun though, and the Slytherins had earned their points fair and square (mostly). This time around, the headmaster could do nothing about it. Giving Ashley extra points would be useless since he'd then need to give points to Alyssa and Mitchelle as well, and that meant their respective Houses would rise with them.

"And now, I believe an awarding is in order. Well, might I say, the points seem to be quite close this year."

Hufflepuff came in fourth place which clearly disheartened the badgers. Maybe that needed to change, the whole House Cup aspect of school. That would certainly remove the rivalry in anything other than Quidditch and scores permanently. They could all focus on studying for their sake instead of worrying over such nonsense. That would be wonderful; nobody would feel the disappointment of not having won the cup at the end of the year. Ashley hated seeing the student body look so crushed.

With those thoughts in her mind, she cast a sympathetic smile towards Mitchelle who had slouched in her seat upon receiving the news. However, the brunette wasn't upset for long. She was immediately comforted by Cedric, causing her to lighten up drastically. Ravenclaw was in third place, next was Gryffindor. Honestly, the eagles surely would have made second if the lions hadn't won the Quidditch Cup.

"In first place with four hundred and sixty five points, we have Slytherin."

Enthusiastic cheers and victorious cries rang from the table off to the far right. Hats were thrown high in the air as the other Houses stood and clapped, happy for their fellow students. From her position, Ashley could see Alyssa jumping along with a few first years but then, she was pulled into a fierce hug by her soul-bonded. The Potter Heiress enjoyed seeing the redhead turn the same color as the signature Weasley hair. Ashley hid her smile behind the back of her hand when she noticed the glare sent her way.

The feast began when the excitement settled down. As per usual, Fred and George made it their mission to make sure Ashley ate the amount she needed and more. How could she complain? The food was always so delicious, and she did want to have the chance to actually grow. Sirius and Remus were quite tall so she had to be at least above five foot five. Malnourishment was not going to get in the way of that.

After breakfast, the students gathered their belongings and changed out of their uniforms. They assembled in the main courtyard, waiting for their turn as batches were transported by carriages off to Hogsmeade Station. It being their last day at Hogwarts, there was this odd melancholy feeling present in everyone's hearts. Ashley felt this twice as much since she was one of the school's Heirs. The sentient magic called out for her stay, and she was tempted to. The castle had accepted her wholeheartedly and it carried this sense of security and comfort. However, her home was with her soul-bonded. They held her heart, her soul yearned for them, and she would happily go wherever they went.

"Ashley."

Ashley turned from her camera to face the unwanted guest inside the small bubble of peace she'd created around herself. Of course, it was Dumbledore. He had cornered Ashley in a way by acting as a barrier between her and her friends. She suddenly regretted standing a few feet away from them but in her defense, she had to move back to capture a picture of the crowds. Unfortunately, she could make no excuse for him to leave and so, she had to tolerate Dumbledore's presence for the time being.

"Hello, Headmaster." She greeted, stuffing her camera in her satchel.

She frowned when she realized that Dumbledore's gaze was trained on the small serpent wrapped around her forearm. It was a beautiful, warm summer day which is why Moko insisted he be somewhere he could bask in the warm sunlight. He and Ashley hadn't anticipated that they would be bothered by anyone, especially not their number one enemy. Nevertheless, they figured they should reveal one of her secrets. Maybe to frustrate him that he was late to the party.

"This is Moko, he's my familiar." Ashley introduced.

"I want to hurt him. May I bite him, little one? Never mind, may I eat him instead?" Moko hissed.

"Not right now, Moko. He said that it's nice to meet you." Ashley translated, biting back a laugh.

"Ah, likewise... You've never mentioned you could speak Parseltongue." Dumbledore mused, narrowing his eyes slightly.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't think it was important. Although, I am aware that it's a rare ability." Ashley smiled innocently as Dumbledore lost a bit of the twinkle in his eyes.

"Well, whenever you have questions about certain things you don't understand, you know where to find me. I'd be happy to answer any of your questions." He said, putting his grandfatherly mask on.

"I'll remember that, thank you." Ashley nodded, rolling her eyes internally.

Those fake acts of kindness would never work on her. She was well aware of the Dumbledore's intentions and they were anything but nice. It was a facade for the world to see so that he could earn the praise and power he so deeply desired. He was a greedy bastard through and through. Ashley dropped her smile the moment he turned and left. She approached her group of friends, the Marauders (she would never tire saying that), where she learned that she didn't need to relate to them the interaction with the old goat since they were all eavesdropping.

Not long after, the empty carriages returned. Ashley chose to ride with the same people she sat with last time, which consisted of Alyssa, Mitchelle, Neville, Cedric, and Draco. That would be the arrangement until they were all too big to fit in one carriage. Even with the lack of snow, the trip, nonetheless, was still quite charming. On her way back from Christmas break, Ashley hadn't appreciated the view enough due to missing Sirius and Remus. Now, however, she was doing to her best to admire the beauty of it all for the few months she would be away from the wondrous place that was Hogwarts. The trees, bushes, and grass constructed evergreen scenery that matched well with the shimmering water of the Black Lake that they were traveling around. Ashley giggled when she saw a purple tentacle belonging to the giant squid rise from the deepest end of the water to wave her goodbye. What could she say? She was a natural with creatures, never mind if they were magical or not.

Arriving at the outdoor station, she handed her trunk and owl cage over to be placed in the baggage car while she talked with Alyssa and Mitchelle. The two girls informed the Potter Heiress that they would be sharing a compartment with Draco and Cedric. Ashley didn't mind, Neville didn't either. He was hell-bent on reading in peace while she was bound to spend the entirety of the train ride sleeping anyway just as she had done before. She had gotten too excited with the idea of going home, so much that she had been unable to sleep the night before. It simply wouldn't do to feel tired when she was reunited with her soul-bonded. Despite the almost daily letters they had continuously exchanged, they still had a lot of catching up to do. They would send her off to bed if she yawned even once so she had to rest while she had time.

Just as she and Neville settled in an empty compartment, Fred and George popped in and shut the door behind them. They revealed their hidden stash of sweets as if sensing that she was about to complain about driving away the lady with the cart. If she were to be honest, she wouldn't be surprised if they did somehow sense it. They had a knack of knowing things without prior discussion. There were many secrets that Ashley hadn't told them yet but somehow, they were already aware of them. It was...frustratingly confusing.

"I... How do you do that?"

It had been a mystery from the very start. Ashley had stopped questioning it a while ago but she couldn't deny that she was still curious. The twins had never given her answer, or even a hint that would help her unravel the whole thing. She trusted them and she was sure that whatever they were keeping from her wasn't something that could hurt her. But she wanted to know oh so much!

"Do what?" The twins chorused.

"Tell me the truth, are you Seers?" Ashley quizzed.

Frowning, she tilted her head when Fred and George traded identical looks of contemplation. They held each other's gaze as if having a mental conversation which, probably, what was really happening. Ashley theorized that they had some sort of telepathic connection as magical twins but she wasn't sure yet. Neville glanced up from his book and blinked at them. He eagerly waited for their answer alongside Ashley. He was curious as well.

"No, we're not." The twins denied.

"Then, what...?" Ashley gaped, raising her hands in frustration.

"Sorry, little raven." Fred apologized.

"She says it's not time for you to know just yet." George explained sympathetically.

"Oh..." Ashley pouted.

"But as soon as she gives the sign,-"

"-we'll be sure to tell you."

"Fine..."

Wait, she? Who the bloody hell was she supposed to be?!

Thoroughly confused, Ashley expected the twins the further clarify the situation. She shook her head in disbelief when they refused to say anything else. They offered her their famous smirks before they began to scheme to themselves. She switched her gaze over to Neville who shrugged helplessly. He was just as clueless as her alongside Moko, if not more. She slouched in defeat and chose to let it go for the time being. Hopefully, she would know soon enough.

"Alright... Well, I'm gonna go check on the others." She announced.

By that, she meant she was going to be handing out her creations from the night before. Her current companions would be the last to receive them when she returned. She stood and slipped through the door, following the nearest Marauders' magical signature. It just happened to be the compartment her best friends occupied with their soul-bonded. She had to do this fast, she could already feel the drowsiness seeping in.

"Ash, hey, what're you doing here?" Alyssa asked upon seeing the Potter Heiress.

Ashley, instead of replying, forced her to scoot over to the left so that she was pressed against Draco's arm. Although it wasn't like they weren't already close when Ashley arrived. She ignored the incredulous stares of those present and fished out items from her satchel. Those items were mirrors, very similar ones. They were oval-shaped with intricate silver frames, sized as small as compact mirrors for easy transportation via pockets and such. The only existing difference between them was that each had a unique gemstone that represented the owner. Ashley had gathered those days ago since she had already planned on making the mirrors. To name some, hers was citrine, Mitchelle's a blue topaz, and Alyssa's an opal. For the three of them, the gemstones held nostalgia as their birthstones of their past lives.

"Mirrors?" Draco raised an eyebrow as he was handed his mirror.

"Enchanted mirrors, for fast communication between us lot. They're all connected so just touch the glass and think of the person you want to contact. Try it out." Ashley encouraged.

Alyssa volunteered and attempted to contact Mitchelle. The redhead lightly rested her fingertips on her mirror's surface and focused on her goal. Surprised, Mitchelle yelped when her mirror began to warm up. Ashley had gotten the idea from the DA coins in Harry's fifth year. She needed a subtle way for the mirror to alert its owner of an incoming call so it making any sort of noise wasn't an option. If separated from their owners, the mirrors would send a kind of wave of magic that would then call out for the owners.

Mitchelle, per Ashley's instructions, tapped her mirror to answer. Her blue topaz gained the dim glow Alyssa' opal possessed as an indication of their connection. Their reflections wavered, rippling like disturbed water, until they disappeared completely and were replaced by an image of the other.

"It's only for emergencies though, and anything else regarding talk of our plans. I figured that letters, without the proper warding and charms, would be too dangerous if anyone were to receive it by accident. Worst-case scenario, someone intercepts the letters on purpose and we're all busted."

"That's smart."

"When did you have time to make all of these?"

"Last night, I couldn't sleep so I thought that I may as well do something productive to pass time."

"What if someone else finds this?"

"First of all, don't lose that. I worked very hard on each one. Second, each mirror is keyed only to us."

Ashley's original idea had been to link the mirror it its owner but then if something to that owner, someone else would need to be able to call for help. There were times where her internal paranoia was useful. It made her think of all the possible consequences of not preparing for the worst. But if she were to properly contemplate the subject, she would realize that there really was no harm in an outsider obtaining the mirror. After all, it held no secrets as it was only a means of communication. However, if their group's intentions were suddenly exposed and one of them was captured, the other Marauders' identities would be at risk. There was also the little feature the original mirror had which could be used to track the other mirrors. It was better to be safe than sorry.

"I had to borrow a book from the library about the necessary spells. I got the hang of it after a little practice."

"You mean stole a book?"

"I returned it!"

"Unlike the other books you got from the Restricted Section?"

"I only have two! Plus, those books have useful knowledge that we may need in the future."

Ashley purposely forgot to mention that she had planned to acquire more books from the library for personal reasons, particularly books about particular spells made only for Parselmouths. After that, she had to leave for the rest of the Marauders. It was a hassle having to go visit a couple more compartments and repeat instructions but she managed. At least she was given a break from the talking when she returned to her own compartment. Fred and George volunteered to be the ones to showcase the mirror to Neville while she leaned against the window to catch up with sleep. Moko settled in as well, he hadn't stayed up with her last night but he did love napping.

When she regained consciousness, the sun had just begun to set. That meant that she had, at the very most, two hours or so before they would arrive at King's Cross. She spent this time playing Exploding Snap with Fred on the floor. She won, though she had a feeling that he'd let her. When she called him out on this, he denied and faked being offended. The mirth in his eyes betrayed him but she let him be. Instead, she urged him to play against George while she and Neville cheered for both sides. The game eventually turned into a playful wrestling match that had the first years (soon-to-be second years) laughing until their sides hurt.

Ashley, rubbing her aching cheeks from smiling too much, glanced outside the window in time to see the train's swiftly approaching destination. Her heart leapt with joy as she waited for the train to come to a full stop. Clutching onto the sling of her satchel, she stepped over the sprawled twins and rushed to the exit. She stepped onto the platform and retrieved her luggage before realizing that she was once again lost within the crowd.

"Here we go again..."

She sighed and craned her neck, attempting to see above the mass of people. She thought that it would be a long search for her soul-bonded but this time, they found her. She jumped as a bark rang from behind her, quickly turning to spot the source of it. A black dog sat at on the floor with its tail wagging happily and its tongue hanging out. Recognizing the canine to be Padfoot, she paced towards him and immediately kneeled to sweep him in her tight embrace.

"Padfoot..." She crooned, giggling when he licked her cheek.

They garnered stares due to the fact that it became well-known news that Padfoot was an Animagus once he'd registered at the Ministry. Though when had he ever cared what strangers thought of him? He blissfully ignored all the unwanted attention, and so did Ashley. She'd only seen him in that form once or twice back at the mansion. The reason for that was because he missed being able to move freely as a human. Ashley didn't mind, she didn't ask for him to turn into Padfoot. What's important was that he was comfortable within the walls of their home.

Watching the loving exchange was Remus, the Potter Heiress' second soul-bonded mate. Upon noticing him, she stood and tackled him into a hug. Chuckling, he easily caught her, picking her up and twirling her around. He placed her back on her feet but kept her close to him. Padfoot pawed at his pants, signaling the werewolf to grab their cub's things and apparate to the mansion. While Padfoot shifted, Ashley rested her chin on Remus' stomach as she looked up at him adoringly, smiling when he bent down to kiss her forehead even though she had to step back a little.

"We missed you so much, Bambi." He muttered softly.

"I missed you too." Ashley beamed.

"What about me?"

"I can only assume what you've just said, but we missed you too, Moko."

"Well, I'm feeling a bit left out."

Ashley sensed the pout Sirius wore before she even turned to look at him. She was right, he was pouting. He was definitely less mature than he really should have been at his age, but she and Remus loved the man nonetheless.

"I want a proper hug." Sirius whined.

"I don't know... I'm kind of comfortable here." Ashley joked.

"Guess she loves me more, Padfoot." Remus smirked.

"Not as much as I love you though, right?" Sirius waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Although Remus attempted to scowl, a smile broke through as Sirius leaned in. Ashley, sandwiched between the two men, giggled when they shared a tender kiss while attempting to cover her eyes. They weren't fans of extreme public displays of affections. There was hugging, the occasional hand-holding, but they mostly just leaned against each other for comforting closeness. They acted the way close friends usually did unless they were alone. They often avoided proclaiming their romantic relationship to the world, even close friends and family, since they appreciated the joys of privacy. Well, unless someone provoked their jealousy. Now that definitely wasn't rare, both men were quite possessive of each other (and of Ashley too, actually). Ashley had learnt that fact when they went to Diagon Alley to buy Christmas presents. A nameless witch, ignorant to their very close proximity, made the mistake of flirting with Remus, and then Sirius when the werewolf dismissed her. Long story short, she was nearly attacked by both Moony and Padfoot. It was incredibly amusing, for Ashley and Moko, at least.

Letting the couple have their moment, she ducked under their arms and wandered over to the kitchen. Kreacher greeted her and offered a plate of newly baked cookies with a caged rat for her familiar as a 'welcome home' gift. She thanked him and asked him to take her trunk and Hedwig upstairs while she and Moko dug into their snacks. She had already finished about a third of the cookies when Remus and Sirius came in to drag her to the couch to chat. It was simply domestic, she liked it. It was a vast change from the excitement of school events. Thinking back to the...talk with Voldemort, she hadn't realized that she had been blankly staring off into space until Remus nudged her.

"Are you alright, Bambi?"

"Yeah, I'm just really glad to be home..."

"So are we. Here, we know you're safe and happy, away from Dumbledore, Voldemort, and anyone else who wants to hurt you."

Of course, Voldemort didn't really want to hurt her because, well, that would be putting his own life in danger. However, she couldn't tell them that so she let them think what they wanted to. Or at least, think what they needed to for the time being.

"Siri, Remy?"

"Yes?"

"I love you, both of you, so much..."

"And you know we love you too."

Ashley hummed and held their hands in hers, savoring the feeling of her soul thrumming with joy. The fact that she had been given a brand new reality where wizards, witches, and all mythical creatures alike existed didn't matter to her. Nothing could ever compare to the feeling of being with the two people she loved the most. They were her mates, her world, her everything. In return, they made her feel like she was everything.

That? That was the real magic.

TO BE CONTINUED...