Unofficial Portkey Archive

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban by hermy_madness

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban


The Wonderful World of Wizardry

For the next week Alice and Harry pottered around in Diagon Alley, gradually building up the supplies they would need for Hogwarts, occasionally treating themselves to an ice-cream and spending far too much time in Flourish and Blott's and Quality Quidditch Supplies respectively. The time passed in a haze of sunshine and as neither of them had really spent much time in the wizarding world out with Hogwarts they took the opportunity to sit by the side of the street and just watch the world go by. Almost two weeks after Harry had blown up his uncle it was Alice's birthday.

"Happy birthday Miss Alice," Florean Fortescue smiled at them both as he deposited two large sundaes on the table in front of them. Thanking him they both immediately began attacking the ice-cream.

"So," Harry began breaking the satisfied silence once they had finished, "what else do you want for your birthday?" Earlier that morning owls had arrived from Hermione, Neville and Ron. Hermione had sent her a beautiful wooden box with a magical lock that only she could open, Neville a wizards chess set, and from Ron she had been pleasantly surprised to receive a book on Ancient Egyptian wizards.

"Harry I've told you, you don't need to get me anything."

He rolled his eyes sceptically. "And I told you I'm not arguing about this, it's your birthday, of course I'm going to get you something. Now what do you want?"

Sighing at his obstinacy she considered his question. There wasn't really anything that she needed, then again when did you ever get something you really needed in a gift? Usually it was something completely impractical or sweets in her experience. Looking along the street for inspiration her eyes fell on a wizard walking past carrying an owl in a cage. It was a gorgeous barn owl with inquisitive black eyes shining out of a pale heart shaped face; the plumage on the rest of its body faded from a rich honey brown to the palest cream. She made up her mind in seconds.

"An owl."

"An owl?" Harry sounded surprised, clearly this wasn't what he had had in mind.

"Oh I didn't mean that you should buy me one," Alice rushed to explain herself, "That would be far too much for a gift. I just meant that I wanted to buy one for myself. I think I have enough money with me," she checked her purse.

"Tell you what, why don't we go halves and that can be your present?" When she was about to protest he stood up and pulled her to her feet. "No buts, come on."

Briskly he dragged her along the street, sidestepping a few witches who paused to stare at him as they went, and soon arrived at Eeylops Owl Emporium. As they went in the bell above the shop door gave a cheerful tinkle which caused the rather unnerving spectacle of every owl in the shop turning to look at them. Hundreds of pairs of eyes gazed down on them from the high walls and from the dark heights of the ceiling she could just make out the lights reflecting off many more, making the roof look as though it was peppered with stars. The shop had a slightly unpleasant smell, which she assumed was due to the vast number of birds within it, but this was offset by the surprising cleanliness of the place. The cages that lined the walls contained every imaginable species of owl and Harry and Alice began to slowly make their way around the shop considering them all as they went. There were so many it was difficult to choose.

"What about a snowy owl?" Harry indicated a magnificent example of the species, which puffed itself up proudly as Alice approached.

"Hedwig would get jealous," she giggled.

Harry grinned. "True."

"Are you looking for something in particular?" A stout man, going slightly grey at the temples, heaved himself out from behind the counter and ambled over to them. "We carry stock from across Europe and beyond here at Eeylops. Everything from an Elf Owl to the Eagle over here," he indicated a cage to his left. Considering his customers more carefully he amended, "but that's perhaps a bit out of your price range, kids like you. Now, if it's a serviceable mail owl for school you're after then there's none finer than the Barn Owl. It's quick, reliable, and can carry quite a weight of packages." He stopped and looked expectantly at them.

"Umm," Alice hated being put on the spot. "Well… we just wanted to have a browse really. I'm not sure what we're looking for yet."

"Well," the shopkeeper looked irritated, "I'll be over here when you make your mind up," and he stomped back to his seat.

"Oops," Harry muttered once he had gone.

Grinning Alice went back to looking at the owls. It was difficult to make a choice, but deciding she had to start somewhere she approached the cage of a brown speckled owl of middling size. She wasn't sure what drew her to it, whether it was the unusual fan of soft grey feathers above each eye, the disgruntled and haughty expression it wore or something else entirely.

"It looks bored stiff," Harry commented coming up behind her.

"Poor thing, I'd be bored out of my mind too if I was stuck in a cage like that all day. Hello there," she put her fingers up to the bars as the owl hooted balefully and shuffled round on its perch so that its back was to her. "Come on now, I don't bite."

"Don't!" The sudden cry came from the shopkeeper as he saw what she was doing and bounded towards them. "Get your hand away from -" He stopped short abruptly and looked from the owl to Alice in puzzlement. "Well I never." He whistled. "That tawny has already savaged three of my customers since I got it, tried to take a chunk out of me too," he showed them a wide cut that was scarring over on the side of his hand. "He usually goes straight for any hand that gets near the cage, but you," he nodded towards Alice's hand which was still resting unmolested on the side of the bars. "They're meant to be bad luck too, tawny owls. Always hear about them in bad omens." Looking back at the owl Alice saw that it was regarding her surreptitiously out of the corner of its eye. He really was a beautiful owl, if a bit unusual in temperament.

"I'll take him."

"What?" Harry and the shopkeeper chorused in unison.

"Alice, are you mad?" Harry clearly thought she was. "He just told you the thing was dangerous.

"Possibly," she smiled sweetly at him, "but I've made up my mind. I want this one."

Looking at the stubborn lines of her face he sighed. He had long since learned that it was useless to argue with her. "Fine it's your birthday. Have this one if you want."

"A birthday is it," the man looked at her. "Tell you what since it's your birthday and considering this one's… disposition, what do you say I give him to you for ten galleons? You won't get a much better bargain than that."

Minutes later the two of them emerged from the shop having paid their shares for the owl which Alice now carried in the cage under her arm.

"So what are you going to call him then?" Harry asked with a laugh. "Grumpy? Scratch?"

"Ha ha," she laughed sarcastically. Looking down at her new pet - who immediately glanced away from her and pretended he hadn't been assessing his new owner curiously - she tried to settle on the right name. Eventually she had a brain wave. "How about Archimedes? I saw an owl called that in a film once, he was grumpy and wise too."

"Archimedes?" Harry thought it over. "I like it. Alright Archimedes it is. So," he glanced at his watch, "it's nearly time for dinner, why don't we head back to the Leaky Cauldron, introduce Archimedes to Hedwig and get something to eat?"

Her new pet it seemed had other plans. The minute she opened his cage to feed him Archimedes seized the opportunity to make a bid for freedom. Leaping over her head in a rush of feathers he took up that customary of owl perches on top of the wardrobe and refused to come down. Even when she tried to tempt him with some food he remained stubbornly up there, his head turned away from her like a spoilt child or a disdainful elderly relative. He must have come down at some point though because when Alice returned from her own dinner that night the bag of owl treats she had left on the table had been overturned and devoured. This set the pattern for the next few weeks. Archimedes would refuse to acknowledge her, Alice would leave food out for him and when she had returned from her days exploring with Harry it would be eaten. More than once Harry suggested that she take him back to Eeylops, but the owl's grumpiness was rather endearing in an odd sort of way. At least he tolerated her in a way he didn't seem to extend to everyone else, when she tried to put food in front of him he just ignored it, but on the occasions Harry and even Tom had tried a similar move they had only narrowly avoided having their hands pecked for their troubles.

"I'm not sure which is worse," Harry laughed as they came out of Flourish and Blott's one day after buying their school books, "Archimedes or that stupid book you just had to buy for Care of Magical Creatures, that thing could take your hand off," he glanced sideways at her copy of The Monster Book of Monsters which had been securely tied with a length of rope by the shop assistant.

"Definitely the book," Alice grinned, "at least Archimedes sleeps some of the time."

"I wouldn't count on it."

As there was now less than a week left until term started Diagon Alley was packed with students buying supplies with their parents. Already that week they had bumped into Dean and Seamus, and Alice was convinced that she had spotted Neville from a distance out shopping with a forbidding looking old woman who could only have been his grandmother. They had disappeared into the crowd however before she could be sure. Fighting their way through the throng they eventually reached the Leaky Cauldron to find a very pleasant surprise waiting for them.

"About time! Where have you two been?" Ron bounded up from a table he had been sitting at in the middle of the pub and rushed over to them grinning from ear to ear.

"What are you all doing here?" Alice asked stunned taking in Ginny and Ron's parents sitting at the table too.

"Come to get you of course. You're coming to stay with us for the rest of the week. Dad's sorted it all out at work and Fudge says it's fine."

"Great," Harry beamed at him, truth be told spending everyday in Diagon Alley was beginning to get a bit boring and they had done everything there was to do about four days ago. A change of scenery would be quite refreshing.

"How was Egypt?" Alice asked as they went to sit at the table with the others.

"Really good, we got back yesterday. The best bit was when Fred and George locked…" he tailed off as his mother came within earshot. "Never mind I'll tell you later. Look at this though," he pulled a brand new wand from his pocket. "Got it this morning," he flourished it proudly. "Willow, fourteen inches and a unicorn tail-hair."

"And he had better not go breaking this one," his mother looked at him sternly before turning to Harry and Alice with a welcoming smile. "Harry dear, so good to see you again. How have you been?" Without waiting for a response she hugged him and then continued. "And it's Alice isn't it? Lovely to meet you dear, Ron and the boys have told me so much about you." Technically Alice had already met Ron's parents at the end of the previous term, but as they had been more preoccupied with their daughter's welfare at the time they had never been properly introduced.

"Nice to meet you," she responded shyly.

"Hey it's Potter and the midget!" The twins chorused with mock surprise as they appeared as if from nowhere and took a seat. "Fancy meeting you here of all places."

Alice rolled her eyes with a grin; it was good to know some things never changed.

"Now," Mrs Weasley ignored her sons, "has Ron told you that you are coming to stay with us for the rest of the week?"

The two of them nodded "That's really kind of you, there's really no need. Only if it's alright with you." Aware that in her nervousness she was babbling incoherently Alice shut her mouth with a snap, then glared at the twins who were sniggering behind their hands.

"Nonsense dear," their mother said kindly. "We can't have you two staying here for another week. Not when there is somewhere else you can go. Besides Arthur has it all arranged. Now if you two want to pop and get your things we can be off as soon as you are ready. The boys will help with your trunks."

Speedily the two of them obeyed and dashed up the stairs followed by Ron, Fred and George. It took Alice only a few minutes to throw the few things she had taken out of her trunk back in and check under the bed to make sure she hadn't left anything there.

"What on earth is that?" Ron exclaimed as he came into her room to lift the trunk.

"It's an owl Ronald," George cuffed him playfully on the back of the head. "Really what do they teach youngsters these days?"

"I meant where did it come from?"

"That's Archimedes. I got him for my birthday. Careful though," she warned as he made to approach, "he doesn't like people very much."

"Aaw what did you tell him that for?" Fred complained as Ron quickly backed away.

"That's not a bird," Harry had arrived whilst they had been talking, "it's a pit-bull with wings. Get too close and it'll try to have your hand off."

Alice rolled her eyes. "Don't exaggerate Harry."

"Well if you want to try and coax the demon bird into his cage, or get him to fly to the Burrow, we'll get a move on with this trunk. Come on Fred," George indicated that his twin should take the other end of it.

"Oof," Fred groaned as they lifted it with effort. "What have you got in here Alice, bricks?"

"No," she responded innocently, "just half the Hogwarts library."

It wasn't long before everyone was gathered downstairs. Alice, who had spent longer than she had expected persuading Archimedes to leave his perch, was the last to arrive.

"We've sent your trunks ahead already dear," Mrs Weasley nodded towards the roaring fire which seemed oddly out of place on a hot August day. "So just take a pinch of Floo Powder, that's it - not too much - good girl."

"Have you ever travelled by Floo before?" her husband asked. Alice had to admit that she hadn't. "Don't worry about it, it's not hard. All you have to do is throw the powder into the flames, when they turn green step in and state where you want to go."

"Mind you speak clearly when you do it," Mrs Weasley added.

"Yeah and keep your elbows in or you might lose an arm," Fred added helpfully.

Ginny and Ron went first to show her how it was done and each time the terrific whooshing of the flames and the emerald jets they produced gave her a little thrill of excitement. Travelling by Floo Powder was something she had wanted to do ever since she had first read about it. She knew that once she got used to it the concept would probably seem incredibly mundane, but for the moment it still held the excitement of any new form of magic.

Having thanked Tom for his hospitality one last time and with Harry's good luck ringing in her ears she stepped up to the grate and threw in her fistful of sparkling green dust. Instantly the fire changed colour and roared upwards. Not wanting to waste a moment she quickly stepped in and said in the clearest voice she could muster, "The Burrow, Ottery St. Catchpole." The sensation of travelling by Floo, as Alice reflected later to her friends was rather like being sucked through a drinks straw at very high speed, or fired from a cannon, it was over so fast that she couldn't decide. Landing in the Weasley's kitchen fireplace she fell face down on the flagstone floor in a rather undignified heap.

"Well," Ron and Ginny pulled her to her feet as Harry came crashing through the fireplace behind her, "welcome to The Burrow."

As the rest of their party arrived, rather ruffled and lightly dusted with soot, Alice took the opportunity to look around the room. It was the first wizarding house she had ever been in and she wanted to take in every detail. The first thing that struck her was the size of the room, for such a large family she would have expected their kitchen to be bigger. Pot plants, both magical and muggle, were distributed across the room fighting for space - in one case literally - with pots, pans, piles of books, broomsticks, drawings, tangled balls of wool, cauldrons, beater's bats, packs of luminous balloons and a pile of what looked like souvenirs from Egypt. The whole room was a mass of activity, life and colour. As though it needed any more of the latter a large rag rug of every shade imaginable covered the centre of the floor. The sun streaming into the room caught the edges of the patchwork curtains casting fuzzy coloured shapes on the opposite wall. Pinned to this were several moving photographs of various members of the Weasley family including one of a much younger Ron and the twins pulling ridiculous faces down the camera lense. The radio belting out what she vaguely recognised as the latest Weird Sisters song by the sink was a larger version of the one she had bought Harry for his birthday. Glancing about she spotted the enchanted clock that Harry had told her about which was currently spinning most of its hands to the Home position.

"Now," Mrs Weasley dusted some of the soot from her skirt, "you two just make yourselves at home. Fred, George you can get rid of those trunks, we'll put Alice in Ginny's room - you don't mind sharing do you dear?"

Alice shook her head. "No Mrs Weasley, I share with three other girls at the Home."

"Call me Molly dear please. Right," she clapped her hands together, "I had better see what's to be done about some supper."

After dinner Alice sat contentedly in the living room, her stomach full and the soothing sounds of the wireless drifting through from the kitchen. Outside of Hogwarts she didn't think she had ever had such a wonderful meal. The food had been simple, but Mrs Weasley was an excellent cook and everything had been delicious. If he ate like that all the time she could see why Ron loved his food so much.

"Hey Alice," she turned towards the sound of her name to see the twins peeking their heads around the door to the kitchen, "come here a second will you?"

"What's up?" Ron looked up curiously from where he was playing a game of chess with Harry.

"None of your business nosey."

Ron shrugged and went back to his game; he was used to his brothers' antics.

Once she was in the kitchen however Alice repeated his sentiment. "What's up?" The twins were standing side by side in the middle of the room, their hands behind their backs and looking very pleased with themselves.

Instantly suspicious she changed her question. "What have you done?"

"Why do people always assume that we've done something wrong?" George whined, though she could see he was trying not to grin.

"Because you usually have," she shot back, trying to keep her own smile from her face.

"You see George," his twin sighed dramatically, "we try to do something nice for her and that's the thanks we get." He grinned when he saw her eyes flick curiously between them and then try to see what it was they were hiding. "Got your attention now haven't we?"

"Oh you win, I'm intrigued. What is it then?"

"Well since you recently turned the grand old age of thirteen -"

"- and we were away gallivanting across the globe at the time -"

"- yes we are terribly sorry about that by the way," George nodded straight-faced.

"Wracked with guilt," his twin added.

"We felt it was only right that we presented you with a birthday gift of truly monumental proportions. And so - Fred if you will," he gestured for his brother to take the floor.

"We present you with," he imitated a drum roll, "The Marauders Map." With a flourish he produced a large and fairly tatty piece of blank parchment.

Taking it gingerly from them, you could never tell with Fred and George, she stared at it in silence for a few moments. "Riiight," she managed eventually.

"She seems confused George."

"Just a tad. Should we enlighten her?"

"Let's do," they moved round to either side of her and Fred gestured towards the parchment. "This may seem, oh Alice of the miniature people" - she scowled up at him - "like a perfectly ordinary and mundane piece of parchment. Am I right?"

"You would be," she sighed deciding to play along. They would get to their point eventually.

"Well, as I'm sure you know appearances can be deceptive. This mundane piece of parchment is actually of untold value and is the secret of our success. But perhaps," they were clearly enjoying drawing this out, "we should maybe just show you and let you judge its worth for yourself." Drawing his wand Fred held it poised over the parchment and then with great ceremony he said: "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."

As Alice watched it was almost as though George had dropped a large bead of ink from his wand to the paper. From the point where the two met thin lines of ink began to run in every direction, curling and twisting around each other as they went. Watching in fascination Alice saw large words declaring it to be The Marauder's Map, along with the names of those who had made it, wind their way along the top of what was evidently the floor plan of a building of some sort. Looking closely she saw many corridors and staircases squeezed cheek by jowl onto the parchment next to towers and dungeons and several thin twisting paths that looked like passages ran away from the central mass off to the sides of the sheet. Occasionally some of the ink lines would rearrange themselves shifting a room or staircase slightly, new ones would appear and those that had been there would fade sometimes to reappear again only moments later. Suddenly Alice recognised what she was looking at.

"This is a map of Hogwarts!"

"Of course it is," Fred grinned as though that had been obvious all along, "but look at what else is there." Pointing towards the top most corner of the map he showed her several tiny moving dots. At first she wasn't entirely sure what they were, and she had to really squint to make out the tiny lettering next to each one. With a bit of effort she was eventually able to make out the names of Filch and Mrs Norris. "The map doesn't just show you where the rooms are," Fred continued, "it shows you where all the people are too. Got us out of more than a few scrapes that one has."

"Where on earth did you get this?"

"Swiped it from Filch's office in first year. It was in his filing cabinet with all the other stuff he's confiscated. We've been using it ever since. He doesn't miss it."

"Never even sent it a Christmas card," Fred grinned.

"It even shows you the secret passages out of the school. Look." George pointed towards the squiggly lines leading away from the main building.

"And…" she was aware her mouth was hanging open in shock, "you're giving this to me?"

"That is usually the way birthday presents work. Do you think she's a bit thick George?" He questioningly glanced over the top of her head at his twin.

"Maybe a little; she might have hit her head coming through the Floo."

"But what about Ron or Ginny?" She couldn't believe they were giving something this precious to her.

"Don't you want it?" George demanded pretending to be miffed.

"Well… I… I…" She couldn't think of anything to say.

"Definitely a bit thick." Fred jumped quickly backwards as she went to hit him on the arm. "I don't know, rejecting our gifts and then violence? That's not how we brought you up Evans. Now just take the present and say thank you Fred and George."

"Thank you Fred and George," she repeated obediently and with feeling. No one had ever given her such a brilliant present before.

"It does come with a condition though. Although you probably shouldn't let our Mum know we told you this -"

"- or Hermione for that matter."

"What's the condition then?"

"This map must at all times, or at least as often as possible, be used for the breaking of school rules, merry making, and the causing of general havoc."

Looking from the map to the identical, beaming faces on either side of her Alice grinned wickedly. "Oh I'm sure we can manage that."

"What are you three conspiring about in here?"

At the sound of Mrs Weasley's voice all three of them whipped round and, as the twins had done when Alice first came into the room, put their hands behind their backs and schooled their faces to stillness.

"Nothing Mum."

Mrs Weasley surveyed the three of them critically, clearly not believing a word of it. "Hmph, well whatever you're doing you can do it out of my kitchen. I don't want to have to mend the sink if you two go and blow it up again."

Under her watchful gaze the three of them quickly scurried away, so none of them saw the tiny smirk of amusement that broke out across her face once their backs were turned.

A/N: Who knew Fred and George were so generous? I love them, can you tell? The movie Alice was talking about is The Sword and the Stone, another movie with owls and wizards (I'm seeing a pattern start to develop here!) in which the owl is called Archimedes. If you haven't seen it already you should.