Nalani snuck into her parent's bedroom while her mother was taking her shower. Her father was in the kitchen, preparing breakfast. She sat at her mother's vanity and pulled the makeup case towards her. She finished putting on makeup just as her mother got out of the bathroom. Nalani turned around and smiled. Huhana tried to cover her smile with her hand, and held in a snicker.
'Oh, my sweet Little Flame,' she said, trying very hard not to laugh.
Nalani looked back in the mirror. She didn't understand what she did wrong. Her face looked slightly awkward, even a little creepy, but she'd seen her mother put on makeup a hundred times.
'I did it just like you always do it!' she exclaimed, clearly discouraged.
'Now you know why I always say you're too young to put on makeup,' her mother replied matter-of-factly. She pulled out a few wet makeup removing wipes from a drawer and cleaned her daughter's face.
'You still have a perfect, smooth skin, my little baby,' she said.
Nalani frowned. She crossed her arms, 'I'm not a baby,' she stated coldly.
Huhana chuckled at this, remembering what her own mother had told her so many times, 'You'll always be my baby, no matter how old you get.'
'Well all the other girls my age wear makeup,' Nalani challenged.
'Fine, but if we're going to do this, let's do it right, okay?' Huhana asked.
Nalani simply nodded, a satisfied smile creeping on her cheeks.
Huhana took out the translucent face powder and applied it all over Nalani's face and neck with the biggest brush available. Nalani looked in the mirror, but couldn't see any difference yet. Her mother gingerly pulled on her chin so she would be facing her again. She took a peach eyeshadow and applied it on Nalani's eyelids. She applied a little bit of burnt sienna coloured blush on the girl's cheeks and finished with an atomic tangerine lipstick. When Nalani looked in the mirror, it was obvious what her mother had done. She had used colours that made barely any difference. Her cheeks looked a little flushed and her lips were brighter, but overall, one could hardly tell she had any makeup on.
'Makeup is meant to enhance your natural beauty, and hide the signs of ageing,' Huhana explained, 'at your age, you still have all of your natural beauty, and no flaws of time yet. Any more makeup than this would make you look like you were wearing a mask, and that's why it looks odd.'
Nalani nodded slowly, a forced pout on her lip. Her mother started applying a few detangling charms to her hair before trying to comb it. She knew the little girl had a very sensitive scalp.
'Don't worry Little Flame, you'll have all the time in the world to play with makeup when you start ageing,' the older woman said, shaking her head slightly. 'And that time will come soon enough.'
When Nalani came into the kitchen, she was wearing a beautiful, traditional three-piece dress from the Fire Nation. Her hair was straightened and styled with golden flowers and other coloured hairpins. Half of it was up, with hair carefully placed over her ears on each side, and a few strands hung loosely at the front to make sure those ears stayed well hidden.
'Happy Birthday, Princess!' her father greeted her.
'Happy Birthday!' her brother cheered excessively, spitting out a few pieces of chewed food.
'Thanks, Father,' she said with a smile, giving him a hug. 'Thanks, Skinny,' she added.
'Your mother did a great job with your hair,' Yue Qi said.
She sat at the table and served herself a cup of Jasmine tea. There was a small pile of unpacked gifts next to her on the floor. She grabbed a small blue necklace that was lying on the table. It had a small symbol on it.
'Luck!' Nalani said, smiling.
'Is that one from Kuzon?' her father asked, an approving smile dancing on his lips. He reached to observe the necklace and helped Nalani put it on.
'Yeah, he says in the letter that he had it made and all,' she answered, blushing.
'Well, I must admit I am quite glad you two are getting along,' he told her.
Kiran gave an evil grin and started shouting loudly: 'Nalani and Kuzon sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!'
Nalani glared at her brother. 'You have three seconds before I roast you, Kiran! One...'
The little boy jumped over the low table and ran into the living room while Nalani shot a flame behind him. Her father was giving her a disapproving glare but said nothing. She smiled innocently at him until her mother entered the kitchen, one eyebrow raised in that terrifying manner that indicated trouble. However, her mother simply sighed and sat at the table while her husband pushed a warm plate of food her way.
'Count yourself lucky it's your birthday,' was the only thing she said before eating.
Nalani sighed and started on her breakfast as well.
The whole family was dressed in traditional clothing that day. They were expecting the Minami family to come over for an early traditional celebration before the neighbours came for the actual party. The Minamis had sent their gifts early by post in case they were unable to attend after all. They were trying to settle in England as well but had encountered various difficulties. They suspected a spy had followed them out of the Elemental Territories, but couldn't be certain. Recently, Manish had decided that any friend of the Onenga family was an enemy of the Fire Nation. Nalani was lost in her thoughts, her eyes suddenly grim.
Her father looked at her with concern, he told her 'I know this is hard for you, but I want you to just live in the moment right now. Don't worry about the future, or the past. That's my job.'
'Yeah… ' she said, not looking up from her meal. 'Dad?' she said quietly. Her father's face grew in concern. The intimate term was usually only used by Nalani when she felt vulnerable and afraid.
'What is it, Sweetie?' Yue Qi said, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
'There's something I've been too scared to tell yo-'
Before she could finish, a whooshing sound came from the living room, interrupting them, followed by Kiran storming in.
'Wow! Father, there's a vampire in the fireplace!' Kiran exclaimed with big round eyes.
His father pushed him aside, rising from the cushion he was sitting on, and walked to the living room. Huhana, who had also heard the sound from upstairs, had just come in the living room too. A tall man in black robes, with dirty, neck length, black hair, was standing in front of the fireplace, brushing off the ashes from his robes.
'Welcome, sir. I suppose you are the staff member sent by Hogwarts?' Yue Qi said to the man, bowing slightly, his hands in front of his chest, left fist against the bottom of his right palm, as was the Fire Nation tradition.
'Yes, indeed. My name is Severus Snape,' the man answered, bowing too, unsure what to do with himself.
'I will be taking you to Diagon Alley. Which one of these children is going to Hogwarts?' he asked, looking down at the siblings, who both looked old enough to go to the Wizarding School. Nalani stepped in front of her father, respectfully bowing to Snape, like her father had done, only slightly lower.
'I am honoured to meet you, Sensei. My name is Nalani Onenga.'
Snape rolled his eyes before stiffly bowing again. Yue Qi then pulled Kiran next to his sister, 'This is my son Kiran. He'll be ten years old, so he'll only be going next year. Assuming we stay that long of course.'
The child bowed in the same way the others had. 'Pleasure to meet you, Sensei.'
Turning to his wife who was approaching, the man finished, 'And this is my wife, Huhana.'
She also bowed, but joined her hands together and kept them on her lap. Snape gave a last short bow before saying, with a note of impatience in his voice, 'Shall we go then? I believe you have school material to buy.'
'Oh, um, right now?' Yue Qi asked as his children protested. Snape stood there, staring incredulously at the head of the family.
'It's my birthday today!' Nalani exclaimed indignantly.
Snape's face hardened, and Yue Qi quickly asked: 'How long would this trip take?'
'Hopefully no more than an hour or two,' Snape said curtly, clearly expressing his distaste at the task he'd obviously been assigned by a higher authority.
Yue Qi turned to Nalani and cupped her head in his hands.
'It's still early, we can go get your school things quickly and be back in time for the main party. We'll leave a note for Kuzon and his parents to make themselves at home.'
Nalani only gave a pout in response. So Yue Qi went on, 'I'd go another day, but I don't think your Sensei here would agree to a raincheck, and we haven't been in the magical community at all since we got in the country.'
Nalani sighed dramatically, rolling her eyes, and shrugged. Snape turned towards the fireplace again.
'I don't suppose you know how to use floo powder?' he said in a dry tone.
'I never got around to use the fireplace for travel,' Yue Qi admitted.
Snape sighed in exasperation.
'Just throw the content in the fireplace and announce clearly your destination. Please do be careful to articulate when saying your destination,' Snape said, before going in the fireplace.
He took a handful of the green powder and said with a strong, clear voice before throwing it: 'Diagon Alley.' He disappeared in a swirl of green flames.
'Well, I'll go next then,' Yue Qi said, taking the little bag and opening it.
He walked in the fireplace and said, 'Diagon Alley' before emptying the bag and disappearing the same way.
Before going after his father, Kiran turned around to face his big sister. 'Did you see his hair? Have they ever heard of hygiene?.'
Nalani burst out laughing. Huhana gave them both a warning look when they started laughing, before shooing the younger child away. Nalani could have sworn she'd seen her mother laugh.
She hopped in the fireplace and swirled for what felt like hours before her feet touched the ground again. Nope, not my favourite way of travelling she thought, waiting for the dizziness to stop. She spotted her father and brother with Snape and joined them, her mother right behind.
'Gringotts is the wizarding bank,' Snape said in a dry tone, pointing at the impressive building. 'We can then go to Ollivander's to get your wand.'
He didn't wait for an answer before leading the way, his robes almost floating around his ankles. Kiran kept making nasty comments about the teacher's appearance, making his sister burst out laughing and earning death glares from his mother.
'He looks like a wolf-bat,' Nalani whispered to Kiran who's attention was now on the Gringotts goblins. They're really nasty looking, Nalani thought with a shiver.
Kiran and Nalani both started laughing until their parents glared at them. While walking towards the shop, Snape was talking to Yue Qi and Huhana in a low voice.
After a short moment, Yue Qi came back with a small pouch, which he gave to Nalani. He told them that their mother and himself had to open a vault and that they would send them to buy the school supplies with professor Snape to make this trip faster.
'Are the two of you comfortable with this? If you're not, we can always come back another day. I won't leave you alone with him if it's too much trouble.'
Kiran and Nalani looked at each other, then back at their father, 'We'll be fine, Daddy,' Kiran said in a small voice, while Nalani confirmed with a firm nod.
'Alright, Your mother needs to go into a muggle bank to get the papers for a transfer while I set things up here. If there's any problem at all, I'm right here.' Yue Qi said.