AUTHOR NOTE: I KNOW IT'S NOT AS LONG AS I SAID IT WOULD BE, BUT HERE IT IS- ENJOY!
"The little things? The little moments? They aren't little." John Jabat-Zinn
Sometimes, Goodbye is a Second Chance
Waking up not from pain or hunger anywhere other than Howgarts was a somewhat new experience. Callie wasn't sure if she was still dreaming until she felt several different feet coming closer through the vibrations in the stone around her, which is when she realized she was breathing underwater and remembered the day before. Now fully awake she tried sitting upright only for her head to connect with the ceiling rather painfully. Well, there went her pain-free morning!
Rubbing the budding lump on her head, she slowly eased herself out of her little cave to peer up at her visitors. It was Bill and several other familiar faces. Her heart jumped for joy before she remembered where a good portion of her money had gone to. She would have gladly helped the Weasley's out if they had only accepted her offers of financial assistants, but they always refused. So why would they go behind her back? It made no sense at all.
She could see them looking around pool for her, but she waited a few more moments to get her nervousness under control. Once her heart rate went down a few notches she did her best to make her face cheerful. Surfacing several feet in front of Bill, she called out "Good morning Bill! Are we going to have that meeting before breakfast?" The group consisted of the Ron, Hermione, Neville, the twins, Remus, Sirius, and… Severus Snape.
"Callie it's already 9 o'clock!" she could tell he was trying not to laugh.
"Is it really?" she was surprised. "I don't think I've slept that long… ever!"
"Well, as you did have a rather trying day it is understandable. Anyways, you can eat while I explain the situation to everyone and you can chip in when necessary, alright?"
"Uh, I'm confused. We're supposed to be seeing Harry, so… why are we here talking to a mermaid?" Ron said uncertainly.
"Because of my creature inheritance." Callie laughed nervously. She prayed that her friends wouldn't lose it completely.
"But what does that have to do with Harry?!" he was starting to get annoyed, he wanted to see his best friend, and his own brother was starting to act Dumbledorish. No straight answers!
"I am Harry or at least I used to be. It's all very complicated and will take a while to be explained so I suggest you sit down." From the looks she was getting they obviously thought she was off her rocker, not that she could blame them.
It took two hours to explain fully and it was almost entertaining to watch their reactions. Almost. If it wasn't for the deep sense of betrayal and loss she would have laughed. As it was, she settled for observing their faces.
Ron went from confused, to horrified, back to confused, to embarrassed, to inventing a new shade of red from being so angry. Hermione, she could tell almost right away was going to go straight into research mode the moment she could. She was confused how such an important authority figure could do such an abominable thing, and incensed that he seemed to do so with what seemed little to no remorse. The twins were looking mischievous and vengeful. Sirius and Remus were past enrage right on into murderous and seemed to be having a hard time thinking clearly. Neville was the calm in the storm which confused her. Why would he be so calm?
Snape was another matter altogether. His were eyes ice cold, face was granite, his body stiff and immobile. If it weren't for the facts that she could see his chest moving and feel the fury rolling off him. He confused her even more than Neville's calmness, it made her nervous. Was he angry at her? Did he think she was lying?
When the explanations were done they were all quiet apart from the growls coming from Sirius and Remus. She waited anxiously for one of the to say something. More minutes went by. Finally she could handle the silence. "Any questions or comments?" She said as cheerfully as she could. She didn't think she managed to really pull it off from the look Bill sent her.
"Do you know what ritual was used? Are there any lasting or possibly future dangers to your health? Can it be proved so that we can see the Headmaster arrested?" Of course it was Hermione who recovered first.
"No, there isn't a way to tell which specific ritual was used. No there aren't any lasting or possible health risks. Yes we have proof, that doesn't require Callie to be present, and we will be using it along with other evidences to ensure Dumbledore is held accountable." Bill answered smoothly.
"But how will Har-C-Callie go to Hogwarts with a fish tail? In a tank?" This time it was Ron.
"Callie will not be going this year- possibly not even next year. Eventually she might be able to learn to temporarily gain legs, but that will take a lot of effort and finding the right teacher."
"Where will she go until then." Asked the twins.
"We've sent for an ambassador for Atlantis who will take her back with them so that she can learn to survive in her new life."
"Do you know when they will get here?" Callie pulled herself onto the stone floor with minimal splashing.
"Tomorrow sometime." Bill sounded unsure and a bit sad for some reason she couldn't pinpoint causing her to tilt her head a little as she stared at him in open curiosity.
Either he didn't notice or he was ignoring her, he turned to Snape. "No comments Professor?" They all followed suit and turned to the now scowling man.
"I need a moment to talk to Miss Potter in private."
"Uh… Why?" Callie's brows furrowed in confusion. At school the snarky professor had always gone out of his way to avoid Harry Potter as if he'd catch some kind of disease if he got to close.
"There is something she must know before she goes and it is no business of the peanut galleries." He sneered.
In the corner he knelt down so that he could speak quietly and still be heard. "Miss Potter, it wasn't your parents you changed you, Dumbledore didn't give them a choice. Lily raged about it for weeks." When she just gazed at the wall thoughtfully he continued. "They would have left with you, gone to another country but new laws had recently been made to prevent migration and Dumbledore coerced unbreakable vows from the Order saying that they would remain loyal and keep fighting until the Dark Lord was defeated. They tried sending you away with the mutt, he found you and threatened to take you himself if they tried again. A few weeks before that Halloween they realized what was coming and began to prepare."
"How did you know them?" she queried.
"I was one of your mothers friends at Hogwarts and everyone knew your father." Glancing at the waiting crowd .
"What were they like? I know a few things about James but no one really talks about Lily apart from comparing our eyes."
He thought for a moment and decided on an objective point of view would be best. "They were both brilliant and determined in their own ways. Lily was going to prove everyone wrong about muggleborn's being worthless. Her favorite subjects were Charms and Potions, while she struggled at Transfiguration. James was popular and believed he was the best thing to come to Hogwarts, he fell for your mother because she was one of the few to say otherwise. His best subjects were Transfiguration, Defense, and Quidditch of course. They started dating in their sixth year and married when they were 18. He was one of the best Aurors that we had, and she was working towards a Charms Mastery." Wide killer green eyes begged him not to stop talking.
Too bad if they kept on for much longer nosy Gryffindors crowd wouldn't hold onto their patience for much longer. Time to tell her the main reason he wanted to speak privately.
"Before you were born there was a prophesy made about the Dark Lord and the one who could stop him. It was overheard which lead him to targeting two potential families-"
"What did it say?" she inquired.
"One with the power to vanquish Voldemort. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives." He expected her to ask who was the one to tell the Dark Lord- but she didn't. "Dumbledore is still convinced he will come back and when he does you will have to stop him." The last part he practically growled. Forcing a child to fight a war she had no place in was enough to make his blood boil.
"Well… if you really think about it, one could consider the prophesy fulfilled."
"How so?" he queried.
"I was born to parents who thrice defied him minutes before the new month. The Dark Idiot marked me as his equal when he didn't even try to figure out my mysterious power and he did technically die when his spirit left his body behind due to the backfired killing curse. Prophesy complete and I'm in the clear!"
"And if it isn't complete?" A raised eyebrow revealed more of his internal anxiety than knew.
"Then we'll prepare, fight, and survive like always." She put a finger to one of her own to mock him for not realizing the obvious. "In the mean time I have vaults to investigate before the mer ambassador comes. Would you like to help?" When he began to decline she interrupted, "You might find potions books or something, after all one of them did belong to Salazar Slytherin and wasn't he a potions master too?" Callie peered at him coyly from beneath lowered lashes.
He froze in shock then huffed in annoyance. "You're not serious." He replied blandly.
"No," she pointed to her Dogfather, "he's Sirius. I'm Callie. Haven't we already been through this?" She could actually see the vein in his forehead pulse as he struggled to control his temper. Taking pity on the Professor she confirmed that the Slytherin vault did belong to her along with several others.
He wasn't sure what to say so he just nodded in agreement.
"Cool!" Back under the water she went and seconds later popped back up in front of her friends. Snape shook his head in resigned amusement as he walked back over at a sedately pace. Bill Weasley was levitating her into an enchanted water tank when he reached them.
"So while Siri gets healed we go vault scavenging!" They split up once outside the pool chamber, one group going left and one straight ahead.
They had already been through the rest of the Potter vaults, and were just about finished with what was left of the Gaunt vaults when Sirius showed up looking far healthier and much less manic. He immediately jumped in to help. Hermione was asking, "Do you think we should sort the magical jewelry from the regular stuff?"
"Sounds good!" the twins grinned widely.
Snape swept over to Callie in his usual billowy manner with a request on a book he had found. "How do you do that?" Callie interrupted before he could ask his question. She floated upside down to the bottom of the tank so that she could lay on her stomach with her chin on her folded hands.
He paused and looked at her with his usual sneer though it didn't bother her in the least anymore. How could she possibly find him scary after today? "Do what?"
"Make your robes billow around you like that? It looks very impressive. Is it some kind of spell? Can you teach me?" Several snickers could be heard from the crowd. He frowned in genuine confusion and shook his head. "I know I don't wear robes anymore but maybe I could apply it to my hair?"
"Never mind that!" growled the potions master in a poor attempt to hide his amusement. "I found a possible potion book but it's not in any language I know. I think it might be Parsel."
Instead of flipping over, she wriggled on her back so that just her head and arms were out of the water. Waving her hands around about to dry them and not risk damaging the book then plucked it from his hands. Seconds later she confirmed it with a grunt and disgusted groan. "This is horrible! The first one is a potion that if ingested will liquify your organs or if it touches skin it'll cause boils ALL over the body that explode after account of one hundred. If the pus falls on someone else causes the same thing and all involved died within minutes. Why would anyone do this to someone!?"
Quickly skimming through the rest of the book she determined it wasn't any use unless you wanted to off someone or commit suicide in a way that would look like you were trying to off someone. Those potions were highly dangerous to the potioneer as well as everyone else. "Burn it! It's basically a how-to-book on killing people in the most painful and gruesome ways possible through potions."
"What if I was able to find a way to counter these potions or neutralize them before they can take affect? It could be useful!" Snape argued.
She thought it over for a long moment then conceded on the condition that wards were put into place that no one but him could read or touch it, and no one was to find out about it or it's contents in any way, shape or form. He agreed readily.
Potions ingredients, a few antique but still usable tools, and the awful potions book was all that was salvageable. The rest was broken furniture, ancient moth-eaten clothes, ruined books all set to be burned by the goblins. Then the vault would be assigned a new family.
They moved on to the Gryffindor vaults next. The first was piled high with gold and silver coin, while the walls were lined with chests bursting with uncut precious and semi-precious stones.
"Um… wouldn't it be a good idea to take a few presents with me when I go," they looked at her in confusion "for any nobility I might meet, I mean?" Bill understood right away and went to the closets chest and began digging. A few minutes later he came up with a diamond the size of his own large fist, a deep blood red ruby about 3 inches in diameter, and a clear yellow rock that he said was a citrine. He explained that he chose those because the would be easily be visible in the deep ocean.
It was arranged that all the gold in any of the vaults would be merged into this vault while the jewels, both cut and uncut would be stored in another vault once emptied so that there wouldn't be as much vault hopping in the future.
The second Gryffindor vault mostly held furniture and clothes stored in both chests and several wardrobes. Even though she doubted there would be anything useful for her she had them look through it just in case they found something they liked. And, indeed they all did. Ginny and Hermione found a few vintage gowns that they didn't think they'd ever get to wear but Callie insisted they have anyhow. Ron and Remus got whole new wardrobes under threat of never being spoken to again if he didn't accept. Sirius found some clothes that he called steampunk (whatever that was). Severus found a pile of dark robes he would be using for teaching in.
The third vault was chaos. No organization whatsoever. Furniture stacked ceiling high with clothes, jewelry, and junk chests packed into any available space. They couldn't even tell how far back it went.
They were only about ten feet into the vault when Bill came out of a chest he had been in danger of falling into. "It's a bracelet that can protect you from dragon-fire!" he cried.
As she really doubted she would ever come across a dragon in the ocean she said as much and requested him to send it to his brother Charlie in Romania. "Are you positive?" to which she replied "Yup!" He looked so grateful that she blushed and turned back to see how the others were doing.
She turned Sirius when he gasped. He was staring at blue glass sphere, half the size of her head, in awe. "What is it?"
"It's a AquaPortal. Their so rare I only actually know about them from the odd recorded use of one. So long as it's completely submerged in water it can be a portal to any other source of water anywhere in the world no matter what kind of water. The only thing is, is that like with apparition you have to know exactly where you want to go."
"Oooh! That will be useful!" he nodded in agreement and stashed in her treasure satchel carefully.
Apart from a small wooden box that only a Potter could remove things from and a small bag of gold and silver jewelry Bill insisted she take just in case, nothing else useful was to be found in the third Gryffindor vault.
The last vault was full of magical artifacts of all kinds- several of which hadn't been seen in centuries. On the left wall was armor, the right weapons, the back had random odds and ends, while in the middle was two long racks full of chests and trunks of various sizes.
They just stared for a moment before Ron let out a loud WOOP! and dashed between the armor and chest rack.
"Be careful, you don't know what this stuff is capable of!" yelled Hermione. A second later the rest followed at a more sedate pace leaving Callie at the door as there wasn't enough room.
In the end they came out with a set of armor conveniently for a mermaid, several different weapons, two magic mirrors, some enchanted jewelry, and a set of runic stones.
The rest of the vaults didn't really hold anything really useful to her situation; though Snape found a few potions books, Hermione some history books, and the rest gained some decent clothes that could pass as modern or something the girls called 'retro'. All in all a good hall.
Back in miniature underground lake Callie and her crowd gathered around the edge of the platform to go through their spoils. Hermione and Ginny both had a trunk of clothes they were going to ask Mrs. Weasley to resize for them, and Hermione found seven tomes of history on Callie's various family names. Ron found some dress robes that Hermione insisted he would need this year, but he only agreed to wearing them if she helped make them less… ancient looking. He could understand that 'retro' was 'in'. Callie didn't really understand that either, but figured it was a girl thing- which she was new to.
Bill kept a pair of Seven-League Boots which would make it easier to visit when sent on long excursions.
The twins tossed prank ideas over a large trunk worth of potions ingredients which caused Professor Snape to look like he wanted to retire right there. Then he realized that since the reason for him being a teacher was no longer going to be attending the school, he could. At which point he sagged in relief. Snape himself got another large trunk of potions ingredients and several potions books upon promising not to let any harmful recipes be seen by anyone-ever.
Neville got a large trunk of his own which had six different compartments, four with dormant plant seeds and two with an aquarium with various water plants that were supposed to be extinct. They all figured if anyone would be able to ensure their survival it was Neville.
Remus tried several times to refuse to take anything, but between Callie's doe eyes and Sirius's annoyed growling ended up with an entire wardrobe's worth of clothes. Sirius took a few wizards robes and a mask that when put on made you look like whoever you wanted so long as they were human.
Callie gained a multitude of a books, jewelry, currency from all over the world, and magical artifacts. Her favorites were her mum's journals and the aqua-portal so that she could visit as often as she wanted. All of it was stored in a goblin made Basilisk skin satchel enchanted to repel water, whether open or closed, and the only one who could open it was her.
After they had spent the last of their energy crooning over their spoils they sat in a half circle around her to decide whether or not they should check out the Black vaults. Sirius was of a half a mind that they should as they could find something that might save his Goddaughters life. On the other hand there were sure to be many dangerous things in his vaults. It would be better to have a team of curse-breakers go through them to deal with the more life-threatening stuff first.
A half hour arguing they agreed to postpone.
All that was left was to rest until the ambassador arrived. The goblins assured the group that they wouldn't have to wait much longer.
So they lounged. And swam. The twins even stripped to their knickers- which were immediately transfigured into more appropriate swim trunks by Remus as there were ladies present. The twins had the propriety to appear bashful for a moment before doing synchronized canon-balls causing large waves to completely soak everyone else.
A red-faced Ginny swore she was telling mom which made the twins pale for a split second. Then devilish grins appeared promising certain mischief to all present if not stopped.
"but dearest sister,"
"how will you explain"
"how exactly you got soaked?"
"No one is supposed"
"to know we're here."
"Mum thinks we're at various friend's houses."
This caused her to turn increasingly astonishing hues of red in frustration.
An solution came in the form of a seething Snape, who though looking like a drowned rat still manage to pull off the deadly professor image perfectly. "Well then, I think two weeks detention scrubbing dungeon walls in the coming year will have to serve as punishment, don't you think?"
The twins sullenly sunk lower into the water. They really should have kept their mouths shut.
Callie could tell Ron wanted to join to but was still having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that his best mate was a girl. A girl he had told confidential guy stuff to. Stuff girls weren't supposed to hear from guys. Embarrassing puberty things. Sex stuff!
The girls and Neville joined after asking Remus to conjure swimsuits for them, leaving Ron sitting awkwardly with three adults.
Ten minutes of sitting stiffly Sirius transfigured his jeans into trunks then vanished the rest of his clothes and shoved Ron in the pool startling a very manly shriek out of him. When he came back up he was sputtering and red-faced.
Callie snuck up on him from underneath and tickled his feet making him shriek even more earning laughs all around. The twins teased him relentlessly, Hermione and Ginny floated aimlessly, and Neville played tag with Callie.
After a half hour they started a game invented on the fly: Instead of how high the decided to test how far she could leap out of the water and how small of a splash she could make from a jump. They just figured out the farthest she could jump was fifty feet and her smallest splash barely caused ripples. She was underwater from her latest jump when she noticed there was a tailed figure at the bottom of the lake.
She went down to greet the stranger, got distracted by the light reflecting in the water and ended up floating upside down a few feet from the stranger. The stranger was a he, a merman. He had pale blue eyes, pale skin, and dark brown hair pulled back in a tight braid. Handsome. Beautiful, really. Abruptly, remembering why she had left the game, she stuck her hand out "Hello, I'm Calla Lily!"
He jerked back at the very sudden and enthusiastic introduction. Hesitating for a long moment before placing his left hand over his heart with all the pomp and ceremony he could muster, 'The day dawned bright when word reach our people of your transformation. I am the ambassador sent to guide you to the capital. My name is Kai."
She thought he was to serious(no pun intended) and absently wondered what he would look like smiling. A smile could make the ugliest face beautiful beyond reckoning. Kia. She like it.