Haesel wonders if she ought to be sad that they're not going to Grandma's or exited that they're going to visit the Wizarding Alley so soon. She likes going to Grandma's, even though that's really weird because Grandma is already dead and buried and they just visit her grave, clean it up a little, leave flowers.
She's never known Grandma, either, but she's family and her grave is quite a way so they usually make it into a day trip visiting the place Mum grew up. Those little family things are hugely important to Haesel, because sometimes that's all she has.
Lily has no such things holding her back and is almost vibrating in her seat in sheer excitement. They are at breakfast. It's nine o'clock on the last Saturday of February and if she had lived, Grandma's birthday would've been the next week.
Hence the visit to her grave.
"Ah, Petunia will be so disappointed she's missed it!" Lily exclaims and waves with her fork to add credit to her point. Haesel ducks the bits of egg that fly off and giggles at Ivy's sigh of "Yet another thing to clean up later."
She glances at Dad. He's frowning and it doesn't take a brilliant mind to figure out that Lily's remark is the cause of it.
Haesel glances back to her plate and shoves her toast with egg around with her knife. Petunia has taken the news as well as could be expected, which is not at all. Lily and Haesel had written her a letter immediately after the Professor had left and ran out to meet the mailman before he took the last batch that Saturday.
In their hurry they had put on maybe a little too many stamps and so Petunia had called not two days later demanding what the letter was all about. She'd been hard to convince through the phone and it actually took a weekend trip to her school to show her the letters before she'd grudgingly admitted it wasn't a hoax. She'd still been very wary of it all, though, insisting that the twins tried to get into the boarding school they had been thinking of before just in case.
Ivy pokes her husband in the side. "Stop frowning. You'll scare the girls!"
Robert snorts. Across the table, Haesel and Lily are fighting of smiles. "I could never manage to scare those two little devils!" he says and then winks to soften the barb.
Lily gives him thumbs up and Haesel mouths "Keep trying!" at him. Their grins are infectious and soon they're all laughing.
"Anyway!" He says, aware that they'll never grow serious or will get on with the day if this goes on much longer. Laughing, Lily has once declared, is one of her favourite hobbies and she plans to spend much of her life doing it. Robert heartily approves of this outlook on life – but it isn't a very good thing when you're on a schedule.
"Petunia brought on some valuable concerns. We know almost nothing about this new 'Wizarding World' and it strikes me as not very smart to let you two just get on that train in September entirely unprepared."
Ivy nods. "We planned this outing as a way to get you both acquainted with the customs and practices of this world before letting you go." Her eyes are a little misty and Lily and Haesel share a single glance that just speaks 'Mum!'
"What?!" Ivy says and for a moment the twins think she's talking to them but then they see she's only responding to Robert's eye-rolling. "They're the youngest two, my little babies!"
Lily drops her head on the table with a groan. Haesel stuffs her fist in her mouth to muffle her laughter. Robert looks as if he wants to follow Lily's example, but swallows and bravely changes the subject without looking at his wife.
This makes it even harder for Haesel to stop laughing.
"We're leaving at nine. Dress warmly!" with this said, he gives a nod and quickly leaves the table to flee to the study. Lily lifts her head to see him go and then considers her almost pouting mother, her laughing little sister and lets her head drop on the table again.
"You're all insane!"
"Au contraire, my dear!" Haesel manages a posh French accent through her laughter. "We're all a little mad here!"
"The Cheshire Cat, great." comes the muffled reply. "Let mum be the Mad Hatter, please!"
Ivy starts stacking the empty plates. "In that case, you are the dormouse."
Lily mumbles something intelligibly. Haesel just laughs.
Haesel considers the green dress she's laid on the bed for a moment. She had been planning to put it to visit Grandma, as it is one of her best. It's almost the colour of her eyes, which seem even brighter when she puts it on. She's already wearing black tights and will put on her winter boots when she's downstairs, but she's not sure a visit to the Wizarding Alley, special as it may be, warrants one of her best dresses.
Lily pokes her. "Just put it on, I'm wearing mine as well, see?"
She is, indeed. They like to dress the same. Sometimes the only difference in their wardrobes is in colour. Haesel likes green and a red colour Mum calls scarlet. She's attached to it for reasons she has no idea of.
Lily likes purple – when it doesn't clash with her hair – and blue, but that's as far as it goes. This dress they've both got in green and Lily brushes her hair as Haesel puts it on.
They both bounce down the stairs at exactly nine o'clock. Ivy helps Haesel to button on her white coat properly, even though she's perfectly capable to do it herself. There's a sort of nervous excitement in the air and Ivy tugs at the hats and scarves of the girls until she deems them properly enough.
Eventually, Lily grows tired of the hanging around and decides they need to leave right then and there.
So they do.
The drive to London feels like an eternity and even though breakfast was but three or so hours ago the girls are ready to eat again when Robert parks the car somewhere in the vicinity of where he thinks the pub they need is, based on what the Professor has told them.
"We're looking for a pub called 'the Leaky Cauldron'," he says when the car is locked and they're ready to go.
"A pub, lovely! D'you reckon we'd be able to have some food there?" Lily says. The gleam in her eyes is not only hunger.
"It's a pub, it's bound to have some." Haesel falls in. Their parents share a look before Ivy nods.
"Why not. Maybe they'll have different food or something?" Robert proposes.
Ivy has a look on her face that suggests she's not entirely sure it's a good idea anymore, but she doesn't mention it.
"Hold hands, girls!" she says instead and Haesel and Lily hold up their already clasped hands. "...with us, darlings. Don't want to lose you, now, would we?"
Haesel grabs Robert and Lily takes Ivy's hand and they pull their parents a bit up the street where Lily has noticed a sign with a cauldron on it.
It doesn't look very inviting, and the girls leave it to Robert to open the door and step inside. Ivy claims caution and enters last.
The inside is a pleasant surprise. It's warm and comfortable with worn chairs and wooden tables. A staircase leads up to a walkway with doors. There are many people, some dressed normal but more dressed oddly in robes like Professor McGonagall or some fashion that seems very strange indeed to the eyes of the Evans family. For a moment they don't know what to do. Haesel's eye falls on a man behind the bar cleaning glasses. She doesn't think he's very old, but he's already bald.
She releases her Dad's hand and walks up to the bar, pulling Lily with her. Ivy, still grasping tightly on Lily's hand, files after them. A moment's hesitation sees Robert following.
"Excuse me, sir?" Haesel pipes up. The bald man turns but doesn't see her at first; she's still a little smaller than the counter so he has to set the glass aside to bend down a bit.
"Yes, what can I do for you, little lady?" He cheerfully asks and Haesel can't withhold a blush.
"We're, ehm, new here?" Lily cuts in. Haesel nods empathically.
"They just turned eleven," Robert adds, "And we wanted to come have a look already, make sure they're as prepared as possibly can."
The man nods slowly, comprehension dawning on his expressive face. "Ah, Muggleborn, eh?"
"Yes?" Lily says. She can vaguely remember that word from their birthday.
"That's actually a good idea, comin' in early – most wait for August, you see, and then it's real busy with all the new students and such. My name's Tom; I'm the owner of the Leaky!"
"My name is Robert Evans, this is my wife Ivy and my daughters Lily and Haesel." Robert concludes the introductions and Ivy gives a little wave when her name is mentioned but stays silent, forgoing talking for observing. "It's nice to meet you."
"You as well." Tom says and he smiles down to the girls. "Best to go to the bank first, me thinks. I'll show you the way in!"
He walks from behind the counter and motions them to follow him. They go through the pub to a door in the back, which opens to a little courtyard which seemed to be only used to put the trash out and house some empty barrels. Tom approaches the back wall and then pulls out his wand to tap in a counter clockwise motion across the bricks.
The whole family watches in awe as the wall shifts and moves until it's an archway leading on to a cobble stone street with leaning buildings. It's reasonably busy, with more people in robes travelling between the shops minding their own business.
"There ya go!" Tom says cheerfully, smiling at the looks on their faces. "Just go down the Alley to the white marble building there, that's Gringotts Bank. It's run by Goblins, they can change your money into Galleons and possibly help you along. Depends on their moods, really!" His short laugh isn't very assuring.
"Anyways, you might want to try Flourish and Blotts, the bookshop over there, for more information. They might have some guides or something."
With a smile and a wave he leaves them standing there. Haesel barely manages a thank you before he closes the door to attend to the bar again.
"Well, nothing to it, then." Robert says and steps forward. When they leave the courtyard the walls assembles again behind them and Haesel vaguely wonders how they'll get out again when a woman walks past them. As she nears the wall, the bricks open up once more and the woman passes through them quickly. Haesel is reassured.
Diagon Alley, not the Wizarding Alley as they'd thought, is simply wonderful. Stalls are set out in front of shops selling an assortment of odd things. People weave their way between them, often stopping to talk to others they know or going into shops. Haesel doesn't see many wearing normal clothes. She can't help but think the robes must be enchanted, because they look a bit draughty and cold. She shares this observation with Lily and they giggle quietly.
They let go of each other's hands, overcome with excitement once more. Lily darts forward to reach her father's side and starts pointing out shops she wants to visit. Ivy is quick to try to temper her enthusiasm, though she's obviously interested as well.
Haesel hangs back unconsciously, her feet slowing down as she attempts to take it in all at once.
It doesn't take long before she's separated from her family.
She only notices she's alone when she sees a stall with wee pies on them and she wants to point it out to Lily, hoping to be able to return when they've got Wizarding money to buy some. She freezes.
The panic is instant and overwhelming. For a moment she's not able to think, faintly hearing her Mum say not half an hour before 'wouldn't want to lose you' above the pounding silence in her ears.
Then she darts into motion, trying to get forward as soon as possible because they can't have gotten far, can they? Soon she is at the end of the Alley and before her marble columns and steps rise up, but Lily or Mum or Dad are not on them.
She's a breath away from crying when the boy slams into her.
Haesel can only identify black curls and startling grey – almost silver – eyes before the boy curses, pulls her up and into a little side street between two shops. He shoves her behind him and frantically checks the Alley, wincing when an equally black haired woman in fancy robes storms past. The woman doesn't notice them and continues on, screaming "Wait until I get to you, insolent child!" at the top of her lungs.
Haesel can't help but notice that her robes are pink and she's leaving a trail of bubbles behind her. She snorts.
Hearing the sound, the boy turns again. Haesel wants to pinch herself for noticing the way his eyes light up at seeing her laugh, the way his face has a decidedly noble look to it with sharp but strong features. She just knows this boy will grow to be a rather handsome man, and if she's being entirely honest, he's already fairly handsome.
She backtracks. She did not think that! Mooning over boys was what Petunia did, not Lily or she!
Lily! Abruptly she remembers that she's lost and the panic strikes again. She attempts to pass the boy to run back into the Alley proper, but he holds her back.
"Wait!" he says. The way he speaks sounds rather... cultured, a far corner of her mind notes. It reminds her of the Jane Austin films her Mum likes so much.
She has the idea this boy has never seen Pride and Prejudice, though.
"You can't go just yet, my mother is still raging out there." He stifles a laugh. "I always thought she was a dragon."
Haesel feels a reluctant smile pulling at her lips and she's glad to find she's calming a little. Panicking isn't going to help, she knows that, yet she did anyway! It's careless of her. What if she passed Mum and Dad and Lily in the Alley, maybe when they turned back when they noticed she was missing? She's stupid to react like that!
The boy lets go of her and holds out a hand. "My name is Sirius Black. Sorry for mowing you over. I was not really looking where I was going."
She moves to shake his hand, the smile now fully formed. "Haesel Evans. It's okay, though." She wants to release his hand to brush down her coat, but he holds on. She imagines she can feel the warmth of his hand through her gloves and feels her cheeks warm.
Sirius grins at her. He likes her already. This Haesel is an interesting girl. Most girls aren't, except for Cousin Andy, of course. Bella is vicious and Cissy is too young to appreciate a good prank, ignoring the fact she's only two years younger than him.
But Haesel, with her green eyes and red cheeks – who get more red the longer he holds on to her hand which makes him want to never let it go, just to see how long she's going to let him, of course – looks him in the eye and asks what he's done.
His grin widens. They're definitely going to be friends, they are!
"Stole her wand and then charmed her robes a shade of pink so horrifying even Cissy wouldn't want to be seen in it." he answers proudly.
She raises an eyebrow. It looks really classy, but not really intimidating. Just rather, dare he say it, cute?
Urg. Give him a moment and he will start going on about unicorns and rainbows and other fluffy things. He's got to distract her... distract himself.
Sirius glances around the Alley again. His mother doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight. He hopes this'll be the last drop and she'll never want to take him to the Alley ever again. She'll probably ask Uncle Alphard to take him instead, and Uncle Alphard will take him to Gambol and Japes' for prank items.
"Come." he says and he transfers her hand to his other one to better pull her along. "I'll treat you. What do you like?"
"Ehm, pies?" Haesel says and she seems a little overwhelmed as he drags her to the nearest stall – the one she'd been admiring when she lost her family.
Sirius orders two mince pies and finally lets go of her hand to pay. He hands one to her and Haesel bites into it gratefully. It's warm and filling and tastes great.
"Thanks." she says, swallowing her first bite and going for her second.
"You're welcome." Sirius grins. She wonders if that is his default expression.
"Hey, how old are you?" he suddenly asks and she's a bit startled by the intense look she's suddenly levelled with.
"Eleven." she answers. She can't help but pull her brow in a silent question, even though the move had no effect last time.
Little does she know Sirius can't help the sudden cute that steals across his thoughts before he can stop it. "Me too." he says instead. "Going to Hogwarts in September?"
She nods. "That's why we're here, to get some more information."
Now he finally looks beyond her green eyes and wild black hair to see the quite obvious Muggle clothing she wears.
"You're a Muggleborn?"
It isn't a question as much as a statement but she answers with a 'yes' anyway. "Is that a problem? People keep mentioning it."
He tilts his head a little, a stray black curl falling in front of his eyes. He sweeps it away with a practiced, elegant movement. "Not really. To some it is. Some of the Pureblood families, the oldest ones, think you only matter when your blood is as pure as possible."
"And mine isn't." She gives him a look that dares him to say anything to the contrary. He can't help but grin again. She's amusing. He might say Gryffindor, with fire like that.
"My mother would say so, yes."
"Are you one of them, then? Those Pureblood families?"
He nods solemnly. "The Ancient and Most Noble House of Black, yea."
She can't help a little snort.
"I don't believe in their talk, though. They're all nuts, the lot of them. Except Cousin Andy and Uncle Alphard, but the rest of the family isn't worth meeting." That includes his own wee brother Regulus, he can't help but add bitterly in his own mind.
Haesel gives him a look that says she's sorry for all of it. It shouldn't make him feel a little better, but it does.
"So are you the only witch in the family?" he asks, wanting to change the subject. She allows him to.
"No, my sister Lily is one as well. We're twins." She smiles happily saying that and it's clear she loves her sister very much. "I've got an older sister as well, actually, Lily is older also, I'm the youngest, but she's not a witch."
Her smile is still fond. He thinks of how in his family, squibs are banned. He tries to shrug it off.
"Do you know which House you want yet?"
She shrugs, twisting her hands. "I sort of hope for Gryffindor? Or maybe Ravenclaw. I like knowledge, but I don't know if I'm very brave."
"You're talking to me, a complete stranger, so I'm sure you are." he winks a little. She blushes again. "I'll probably go into Slytherin, like the rest of the family." He doesn't sound excited by the prospect.
"You're talking to me too... isn't that brave as well?" Her smile is impish. He likes the implication of her words.
They stand in silence for a bit, finishing their pies. Then her eyes widen comically and she's off suddenly in the direction of the Leaky Cauldron.
"Bye!" she yells back at him. "Write me!"
He can only stare as she disappears into the throng of shoppers. He's not sure the owl he got for his eleventh birthday can find a probably Muggle home, but he's certainly going to try.
Sirius Black stuff his hands into his pockets and grins.
Haesel suddenly thinks of the next step they were going to take after going to the bank – the book shop they passed earlier, the one Tom had pointed out. She's off before she can think of it and only remembers to wave and yell 'bye' as she goes. She's adding 'Write me!' to it before she knows why and later on face-palms for it because she hasn't given him her address and would he even want to write?
But at that moment she's focused on finding the book shop. She's in sight of it when she hears her name being called and there they are, Mum with worried eyes and Dad who only lets go of Lily's hand when she almost pulls him off his feet running toward Haesel.
Haesel is caught in an impromptu group hug she relishes in. Ivy draws back first.
"Where have you been?! We went into the bank and all of sudden you weren't there anymore!" she scolds.
"I got distracted, I'm sorry!" Haesel says and she doesn't know why she doesn't mention the boy she met because she could've been there sooner, she knows it.
"Well don't do that anymore." her Mum says and she pulls her in for another hug.
They don't stay very much longer after that, just enough to collect a heavy bag with books and some other items that will help them understand this new world. Haesel sticks to Lily like glue. Her sister doesn't mind. She only wonders at the dust on Haesel's coat and it's then that Haesel spills the secret about where she's been the entire time, standing between the bookshelves.
Lily is jealous that she already got to meet someone they'll be going to Hogwarts with and she's doubly intent on finding and meeting the boy in the park back home. They wait for their parents at the shop window, Haesel looking for Sirius and Lily just observing the people walking by.
She doesn't see him anymore, though.
An extra-long chapter! Because Haesel meeting Sirius went on a bit longer than I'd thought it would, hah. I hope you liked it!
Special thanks to Lizzy B, to whom I unfortunately can't reply. It's great to hear from you! So thank you :)
Best wishes for a lovely New Year!