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Chapter 1: Brother of Mine
I’ve never seen my brother cry.
When my mum left us screaming about how we would ‘burn in hell’, he just held my hand and led me upstairs. The first time we saw daddy drunk he grabbed my shoulder and squeezed, as if to say ‘it will be ok’. When life turned to pieces, he took care of me.
I’ve never seen my brother cry. But at this moment it looks like he will never stop. He doesn’t grab my hand and tell me ‘Everything will be ok Collette’.
Why doesn’t he hold me? Why doesn’t he make it go away? I love his hugs. I used to hate them, but then I realized every time he hugged me, it meant he would never let anything hurt me. So why doesn’t he hug me now? Though I ask the question, I fear the response. He can’t stop this from hurting me.
How does one even save someone from their own body? It’s kind of funny, if you think about it. He’s spent his whole life protecting me, and now it’s like my body wants to say: "Screw you Andrew!
My throat is raw and I feel as though there is a cheese grader slowly rubbing away my insides from my mouth to my lungs. My head pounds loudly in the back of my skull, and despite my fever my body shivers.
I lick my chapped lips… All I want right now is to stand in the shower with the water so hot it burns my skin. Not in a sick way, just so I can wash everything about today down the drain where it can never return
Andrew can’t even look at me. His hands are shaking convulsively. He just stares, mouth agape at his hands, unable to talk.
I look at his trembling hands and then to mine. They’re shaking worse then his. I try to knot them together to stop the fear that washes over my body. My nail polish is all chipped away, and blood hides in the crevices of my hands.
My poor brother. He’s so ugly when he cries. I’m so use to him being the flawless child, and seeing him now a complete mess I just can’t take my eyes off of him. His dark brown hair is knotted. He has bags under his eyes like he has been crying for five years straight. And that sparkle in his eye, that woos all the girls, is missing.
If this is what he looks like after just an hour of bad news I cannot imagine what tomorrow has in store for him.
My fingertips go to touch my own face. Am I ugly when I cry? Or maybe I look like one of those people in magazines, an elegant crier.
But as my fingers trace my cheekbone, I feel nothing.
For once in my life, I can’t cry.
*Earlier that day*
“Andrew…” I cautiously call. Andrew doesn’t even have the decency to open his eyes.
I fight back the urge to roll my eyes; my brother takes things too seriously. I mean it was only a game; who cared if they lost one when they have won dozens?
“Andrew,” I sing throwing myself onto the bench whilst poking him in the arm. “Oh Andrew…”
My oh-so-lovely brother just grumbles in response as he crosses his arms over his chest. Well now he is just being stubborn.
“Oh come on grumpy! It was just a game.” Andrew’s eyes shoot open at this remark. Why men obsess over sports I have never understood. Yes, I can be competitive too, but I have never sulked in the back of a sweaty changing room acting like the world is over.
“Whatever.” I throw my long chestnut hair over my shoulder with a huff. Andrew is being a prat and I’m not in the mood to give a care.
Andrew sighs, “Collette, wait.” I stop, but don’t turn around. If he has the nerve to glare at me, me his sweet loving sister who was only trying to help, then he can give himself a pep talk.
“Collette… Turn around.” I think not dear brother, better luck next time.
“Collette!” Andrew whines his voice getting to a pitch I don’t think I can even reach. I can’t help the smile that creeps upon my face; I may be stubborn, but I can never stay mad at my brother. It’s that darn puppy dog look; it gets me every time.
I turn slowly trying to put on my best ‘angry’ face, but fail miserably making Andrew smile sheepishly at me.
“Don’t think I’m not mad at you.”
Andrew throws his highly tanned and muscular arm over my shoulder making me crinkle my nose, “Didn’t you take a shower?”
“And shower away the smell of a loser? Never.” my brother replies bitterly. Looks like Andrew’s pity train isn’t over just yet.
“Oh come on Andrew, it was only a game.” I don’t know why I bother saying this; he never does listen.
“You just don’t get it,” Andrew exasperates, “It’s more than a game… I let the whole team down.”
“How did you let the team down? You’re the Beater, not the Seeker...” Maybe I should save the lecture and just give him a good slap in the back of the head and knock some sense into him.
Andrew crinkles his slightly freckled nose. “If my aim had been more precise, she would have been able to get to the snitch with no competition.” He cracks his knuckles, a nasty habit we both have picked up. “I shouldn’t have missed. If I hadn’t been so distracted...” he mutters under his breath.
“Wait a second. Why were you so distracted? And please don’t tell me it was a girl, ‘cause I really don’t want to know about you and the latest bimbo-”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that.” Andrew waves off giving no hints as to what had distracted him enough for Hufflepuff to take the victory.
“Then what is it?” I question raising my left eyebrow.
He shakes his head, “It’s nothing.”
I nearly growl. Yes just like a dog. It just sounds slightly pitiful, but only slightly. “To hell it’s nothing. I think I have the right, as your loving sister, to know what could distract you from something you love more than life itself.”
“It’s nothing rea-“
“To hell it’s nothing!” I cut him off not wanting to hear his excuses. “It is a girl isn’t is??” Andrew tends to have a new girl every week. It’s not that he is a bad guy… He just sleeps around a lot.
“No nothing like that.”
“Then what, are you doing drugs?” I am getting hysterical at the thought of my brother doing drugs. I know he has not had the best life, but would he really stoop to drugs? “Oh my god that’s it, isn’t it?” I cry. “You’re a pot head!”
Andrew shakes his head frantically. “No, no, of course not.”
“Then what is it? Are you part of a gang? Are they threatening you? If they are you should tell somebody! Why haven’t you told anybody?” I tend to babble when I am nervous. I always knew Andrew would crack one day from all the pressure.
Andrew grabs a hold of my shoulders as I ramble on, unable to control myself.
“Oh my god, you got someone pregnant, didn’t you! Who is it?”
“COLLETTE!” My mouth hangs open ready to say my next guess, but I shut up at my brother’s scream.
“It’s nothing like that! If you must know, I got a letter today informing me that our father has been driving drunk and ran into a light post. Dad’s fine,” Andrew says quickly when he sees panic starting to rise on my face, “but the car is wrecked and he got his license taken away from him. He lost his job Col… almost two weeks ago.”
I stay silent for a moment letting it all sink in. Dad lost his job… How was he suppose to support himself not mention us?
“Why didn’t you tell me?” My eyes start to well up as I try to blink away the tears. I tend to cry when I’m overwhelmed; which is usually not the best response.
Andrew sighs, “I didn’t want you to worry.”
I pull at the top of my sweater, suddenly feeling very hot and sweaty from the recent news. “What are we going to do?”
Andrew ruffles his hair. “I have some money saved up for when I graduate, I’ll give that to Dad.”
I gasp, “You’ve been saving that money for the last three years; you can’t do that.” Andrew works every summer at a little restaurant down the street from our home.
“It’s not like I have much choice. It should last him at least a little while. We’ll be there in two weeks for Christmas break and I can try to find a job that will hire an idiot like him then. We just can’t make any huge investments any time soon. We’re going to have to make some budget cuts, but we should be fine.” Yeah we would be fine; of course we would be.
I fan myself with my hand still feeling like the room is on fire. I have nothing to worry about right? I mean we’ve had times like this before when Dad had lost his job, this is no different.
“Collette?” Andrew’s voice sounds fuzzy as though it is off in the distance. “Collette are you ok?”
My body starts to sway. Was I fainting? Was I, honest to God, fainting because I was freaked out? This was a new low, even for me.
“Colle-“ I don't hear the rest of what my brother is going to say because my eyes roll to the back of my head and everything goes black.
The woods were dark and only the faint moonlight guided my path. I knew these woods well; it was where I spent my summer days dreaming up a big happy family. It was where I went when I felt down like when my brother left for Hogwarts and I was left alone with my incapable father.
It was my oasis. My happy place. But now it felt off… it was not the safe place I had grown up with.
A dark feeling hung over my shoulders as I followed the path that led back to my home. The sky was cloudy, and only the brightest stars could be seen peeking out of the rain clouds that promised a thunderstorm. The moon half covered dimmed the light even more making it nearly impossible to see.
That eerie feeling hung over me, like a constant reminder that something was wrong. The house was close now, no more then a few feet away. I peeked around the low branches in order to see better.
The house was illuminated by all these little dots. At first I was confused as to what it was, but as I walked closer I saw that there were dozens, maybe even hundreds, of plain white candles lining up the steps, windows, porches, everything casting a low glow on the vacant house.
It made no sense. Why would someone cover my house in candles? And on top of that, why was this vision so clear? The blurrier the vision the more likely it is to occur; so why is this one so vivid?
I walked closer watching each flicker of the candle. They were beautiful in a strange way, each candle holding its own flame, so precious and fragile, but at the same time so strong and beautiful.
The door didn’t squeak when I opened it, for the first time since I was five. I crinkled my nose slightly, but didn’t give it much thought as I walked into my living room. What I walked into, however, wasn’t my living room. No, for my living room was always a pigsty, beer bottles always littered the ground, but here seemed to be an alcohol free zone. The cabinets and tables were always layered in dust, but in here there was not a speck in sight. Our old moth infested curtains were now replaced with silky burgundy ones. If I didn’t know better I would have guessed I stumbled into the wrong home.
Instead of the stench of beer, and whatever else was in this god-forsaken house, there was the smell of newly baked foods: cookies, lasagna, brownies, pasta, and many others.
Hundreds upon thousands of flowers decorated the house; roses white and red were upon the most common. There were some with messages that were too blurry to read. Was this some type of wedding? A party? Since when did my house look so elegant? I mean lilies tied together with black ribbon? It was so beautiful, so un-Roberts like.
I ascended up the stairs shocked at how many pictures lined our walls. My father had shattered all of our pictures the day our mother left, but now our staircase was aligned with photos of my brother and me. They were cute, the pictures of us as toddlers. Some were slightly embarrassing of my brother and I in the tub, but I shook away the blush and replaced it with a smile at how happy we both looked.
I hadn’t noticed how quiet the house was ‘till now as I stepped on one of the rickety stairs. Finally, something was normal. I gave a thankful sigh that finally something was familiar, but then reality hit that there was no noise in the house other than that squeak.
Father, dearest, wasn’t passed out on the couch with the TV blaring, I wasn’t trying to block out that noise by blasting my music, and my brother wasn’t yelling at us both to turn down the volume. It was unnaturally quiet, and it made goose bumps erupt from my arms.
I looked back to one of the pictures of me on my first day at Hogwarts. I looked so happy, yet worn. I was only eleven, but I had already seen the cold hands of betrayal. Most children go to Hogwarts in hope of adventure. I went there in the hope of my life settling down.
It didn’t look right in this house. My father never put pictures up of us. Pictures were something parents used to show how proud they were of their children. Pictures weren’t meant for parents who believed their children had ruined their lives.
It wasn’t natural in this house. The pictures should have been crooked, at the very least. They should have had dust on them from being there so long, but they didn't. These pictures were just for show, and they meant nothing. I longed to reach out and just move the frame slightly to the left to make give the appearance it had been there for a while, but I couldn’t.
This was a vision and in visions I was unable to change anything. I could neither touch nor talk. I was an invisible phantom watching scenes unravel, with no way to change them.
It was a curse, but a curse I could not change.
I continued up the steps in search of another normal thing. I needed something I could rely on, even if it was the simplest of things.
A place no went in, beside myself and remained untouched whenever I left for Hogwarts. If there were anything that had stayed the same it would be my room.
I blink away the vision, becoming very aware of the throbbing pain in the back of my head. The second thing I notice is that I am staring up at the quidditch locker room’s ceiling with my brother hovering over me anxiously.
I blink again and sit up slowly rubbing the back of my head where it ached. “You ok?” My brother asks nervously, as he flitters around like a bird, trying to help me.
I smile slightly at my brother’s behavior; he has always been like this since before I can remember. Always there to protect me no matter what happened. “I’m fine.”
Andrew holds out his hand for me to take, which I ignore and get up myself brushing off the nonexistent dirt from my clothes.
I wince slightly as I move my head a bit too fast making it start a whole new uproar of pain. My brother of course goes into full freak out mode. “What wrong?” He questions looking me over for any visible injuries.
“Just a headache.” More like little men have invaded my brain and are attempting to create a band. “Probably hit the bench when I fell.”
Andrew lectures the whole way back about how I should go to the Hospital Wing, but I choose to ignore him. He really needs to learn how to keep calm.
As we enter the front doors we are greeted by a squeal. I gag slightly, have people never heard of silencing spells?
My brother and I exchange glances as we look around for the source, and find a familiar mahogany door.
Every one knows what goes on in a broom closet. Bimbos give up their morals the moment one of the many ‘players’ of the school look their way. I am not one of those girls who believes romance is being pushed up against dusty shelf while you get your feet stuck in mucky water buckets with the stench of who-knows-what in the air.
“Bets on who’s in there?” Andrew asks.
“It’s either Fred, James, or Adam.” I list off with my fingers.
Andrew crosses his arms stubbornly. “Why is it all my friends?” In response I give a ‘you’ve-got to-be-kidding-me’ look.
Andrew, Fred, James and Adam love the ladies and the ladies love them. I mean I can understand why, I have been drooling over James since the day I could walk. If Andrew ever found this out though he would cut James into tiny little pieces.
“I’m voting on Potter. He always seems to have a new piece of meat each week.” I say bitterly hoping Andrew doesn’t pick up on my disappointment. I could find closets romantic, just throw in a shirtless James Potter and I won’t even notice where I am.
Eight and a half seconds later: “James!” a high pitch squeal erupts from the cupboard.
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.
Andrew just glares. “Whatever too easy.”
Soon we are approaching the Great Hall and Andrew is still slightly grumpy while the mental images of Potter, and who ever that girl is haunts me.
“Oi, Roberts!” Both Andrew and I both turn simultaneously, revealing a cheeky Fred Weasley.
Fred grins revealing a chipped tooth that he has had for almost a week but is too stubborn to get fixed. I think his words were ‘I have to show people that the other guy got at least one punch, before I landed him a date with Pomfery.’
“Errr... male Roberts.” Fred cocks his head letting the fringe of his dark auburn hair fall into his eyes, my hands twitch to fix it, but I control myself. Honestly I think my brother and all his friends need to learn about hair products, or at the very least a brush.
“What Weasley?” Andrew addresses his best friend.
Fred grins again; even with a chipped tooth he still looks attractive. “Want to go crash the Hufflepuff party?” I chew on my lip knowing this is going to end in a disaster.
Andrew seems to be on the same brain wave as me. “I don’t think so.”
“Oh come on man it will be fun! You know you want to.”
My brother mulls the idea in his mind weighing his options: have fun or sit with sister. Hm, hard choice. “Okay I’m in.”
“Great! You can come along too little Roberts.” Fred says noticing I am still here.
Usually I would say no, but I honestly have nothing better to do.., Rose and Al have locked themselves away to study, and Scorp is in a mood lately. Plus there is always the chance that I will get to stare at James arse.
“I’m in.” Fun never did anyone any harm right?
“Let’s go find Potter, he has the cloak.” James had stolen his dad’s invisibility cloak back in third year and we have all been using it since. I try to hide my grin over the fact that James will be joining us.
“Well then let’s go pry him off of some girl's face and go!” Andrew grins evilly.
“Time to party lads!” I say enthusiastically.
A/N: Thank you all for reading! I really hope you all liked the first chapter and will continue reading. Please leave your comments!