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Chapter 1: Chapter I.
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“Now can anyone tell me what the first principle of Gamp’s elemental laws of transfiguration is?” Professor Goldstein asked, looking around the class.
I raised my hand tentatively and he gestured for me to answer. “Is it that water can’t be produced out of nothing?”
He shook his head. “No, but that’s very close, anyone else?” I felt myself going red as the class sniggered at my stupidity.
“Sir, it’s food that can’t be produced out of nothing. Why do you think we have aguamenti?” A Ravenclaw answered and she rolled her eyes at me. I felt myself go even redder.
“Now, now, it doesn’t matter that she got it wrong, she was close. But yes, you are correct. The first principle is that you can’t produce food out of nothing. You can use other methods of gaining it, but you can’t produce it out of thin air. Now –” He turned to the blackboard and started writing the rest of the exceptions down. People were still shooting me looks that clearly said I was stupid and I could feel myself welling up.
No. I will not cry.
(Not here at least).
I took a deep breath and copied Goldstein’s notes. My handwriting was messy because I was shaking slightly. The bell rung shorty after and immediately I threw everything in my bag and rushed out. I ran into a few Ravenclaw boys and I silently cursed whoever picked Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs to be in the same Transfig class.
“Oh god, it’s that ugly chick again.” I winced and looked down to the ground, shuffling my feet.
“S-sorry. Could I please get through?” I asked meekly. I didn’t look at them directly, instead looking at the grey brick wall behind them.
The two of them laughed at me and I tried moving past them. They blocked my path and Robbie Smith asked, “Why do you want to go in there?”
“T-to eat lunch?” I stuttered. Someone walked around me, and I silently begged that they realised that I was being picked on and they’d come and save me.
They guffawed and the taller of the two, Henry Tier, asked, “Why do you need to eat? You’re already fat enough as it is.” I winced and tried to hold my tears in.
“P-please just let me go through,” I pleaded.
They smirked and then said, “Fine. But having fun getting fat, you bitch.” My mouth dropped open and they sauntered away, laughing.
Suddenly, my appetite disappeared. I turned on my heel and ran away from the Hall. Tears were flowing freely down my face and my vision was blurry.
School was meant to be one of the best times in my life, but I hated it. I hated that I was always picked on and that no one wanted to be my friend. I don’t even know what I did. I never did anything to them! I just came to Hogwarts, all happy that I was finally there and then, BOOM! Everyone thought it would be hilarious to take the piss out of me.
It was like I had a sign on my forehead that read, ‘I HAVE NO FEELINGS SO MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MAKE ME CRY MYSELF TO SLEEP. SERIOUSLY, HAVE AT IT! MAKE FUN OF ME!’
I was sick of it.
Because my vision was blurry, I couldn’t see where I was going and ran straight into someone. “Sorry,” I muttered pathetically, before trying to get away.
“Wait.” The person grabbed my arm and pulled me back.
“Let go of me, I’m not in the mood for it!” I practically screamed at him (at least I thought it was a guy).
“Clara Wood?” he asked.
I wiped my eyes and noticed it was James Potter. “Y-yes?”
“Are you okay?” he asked, concernedly.
I sniffled. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I said to try and leave. I just wanted to go to my dorm.
He looked towards the Great Hall and then looked back at me. “No you aren’t. Come on, let’s go.”
“W-what?” I stammered, “W-where are we – where are you taking me?”
He smiled at me and said, “We’ll go to the kitchens. It seems like you don’t want to go to the Great Hall.” I stared at him incredulously. “What?” he asked, not looking concerned at all.
“Is this a trick?” I asked, narrowing my eyes, “Is this some sort of prank you want to play on me?”
He shook his head. “No! You’re upset, I just thought I’d hear you out and I have something to say to you as well. I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
“What do you want to say to me?” I asked curiously, wiping the rest of the tears away.
He smiled again and tapped his nose. He was still holding my arm and I pulled it back towards me. “I know where the kitchens are, you don’t need to lead me.”
He glanced at me. “How do you know where they are?”
I smiled wryly. “I’m a Hufflepuff. Our common room is really close to the kitchen. It’s a tradition in first year to visit the house elves.”
James laughed a happy, free sound. I couldn’t help smiling back. When we finally found the portrait, he tickled the pear and the familiar green doorknob popped out. James opened it and let me go through before him.
“Thanks,” I said, smiling at him. He smiled back but before he could say anything a few house-elves rushed towards us.
“Mister Potter! Miss Wood! What can Hooky do for you?” His (or her) ears flapped around as he bounced excitedly.
James grinned at me. “Hey, Hooky. Can you just grab us some sandwiches? Please?” Hooky bowed and they all rushed off to get some sandwiches.
“James,” I whispered, “is Hooky a boy or a girl?”
He laughed. “No idea. Should we sit here?” he asked, gesturing to a table that I swore hadn’t been there before.
Ah well, this was Hogwarts.
I nodded and sat down opposite him. “So, what did you need to ask me?” I pressed, eagerly leaning forward.
He brightened. “Ah! I have it here in my bag! Hold on a sec.” He rummaged through his bag and he then pulled out an old piece of parchment. He scanned down the list and said, “Aha! Found it!”
I leaned forward to see what it was, but he pulled it back. “You’ll see, soon. Clara do you have a middle name?”
I frowned and shook my head. “No, I don’t. Why?” He grinned and tapped his nose again.
Hooky then brought the sandwiches to us. “Here are your sandwiches Mister Potter and Miss Wood. Hooky can bring more!”
“It’s okay, Hooky. Thank you,” I said, smiling kindly at him (or her). Hooky bowed and shuffled off. Eagerly I grabbed a sandwich and started eating it. James grinned and grabbed one as well.
“Okay, so what do you need to tell me?” I asked, after I’d finished the sandwich. I felt a wave of guilt at myself for indulging, but I quickly waved it off as James grabbed another one.
“Alright. Do you remember second year?” he asked me, with his cheeks slightly flushed.
“What about it?” I asked warily. I remembered being picked on (what a surprise!), I remembered failing my first test and I also remembered getting hit by a bludger when I was watching a Quidditch match.
Yeah, second year wasn’t my greatest year.
His cheeks were really red now. He mumbled something incoherent. “Didn’t catch that, sorry.”
He took a deep breath and looked at me right in the eyes. “I called you a few nasty names.”
My smile turned into a scowl. I stood up. “Okay, obviously you just want to pick on me a bit more. Just to rub some salt in the wounds. I’m going to leave now.”
James stood up and quickly blocked my entrance to the door. “No I don’t! That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to apologise.”
I glared at him. “Why has it taken you five years then?” The house elves jumped at my cold tone.
He flushed again. “Well, I was a bit of a dick to my cousin, Dom, and she made me write a list on everyone that I had picked on. Then she made me go apologise to everyone.”
“So you’re doing all this – being nice to me – so you can just get my forgiveness and then do whatever you want?” I spat, waving my hands around.
He shook his head. “No! I really want to apologise to you. I was a complete dick to you!” he said earnestly.
I folded my arms, glared at him for a bit longer and then sighed. “Fine, you can apologise.”
He grinned. “Okay, just sit back down. It’s a long process.” I stared at him for a bit and he gestured for me to sit down.
I sat down hesitantly and grabbed another sandwich, ignoring the sharp feeling of guilt. He cleared his throat and held up his paper.
“Clara Wood, I, James Sirius Potter, wish to apologise for being cruel to you in second year. I also wish to offer you a hand of friendship,” he said, grinning. He then held out a hand for me to shake.
“Do you really want to be my friend?” I asked nervously. I hardly had any friends. The girls in my dorm tolerated me, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say we were friends. In fact, the only true friend I’d ever had was my dad.
James nodded and said, “I really do. Friends?” He held out his hand again.
I could feel tears welling up my eyes and James’ expression changed into an alarmed one. “Oh, no! If you don’t want to be friends, that’s fine! We don’t have to be, if you don’t –”
I cut him off, “No. It’s just that I’ve never really had a friend. Sorry,” I said, wiping the tears away, feeling pathetic.
His hand dropped. “You’ve never had a friend?” he asked incredulously.
“No, not really. Just my dad but that doesn’t really count does it?” I smiled wryly, I picked at my nails, looking at him shyly.
He looked shocked but then he shook his head. “Well, now you have a proper friend. I just need you to shake my hand, and then sign this parchment saying that you accepted my apology.” I laughed slightly and agreed to sign the parchment. It was surprisingly very long.
“Yeah, I had a bit of an ego problem,” he said, mussing up the back of his head awkwardly.
I smiled and found my name – one of the few left that didn’t have a signature – and signed next to it. There was also a box next to it entitled ‘FRIENDS’. I ticked it and noticed that only a few agreed to be his friend.
I shook his hand and he shoved the parchment back in his bag. “Okay, so now that we are officially friends, do you want to tell me why you were crying before?”
My face dropped and muttered, “Same reason you just apologised to me before. I was being made fun of.”
He frowned. “What were they saying?” he asked softly.
I went to grab another sandwich but their words rang in my ears.
You’re already fat enough as it is.
I put the sandwich down and wrapped my arms around me tightly. “They were calling me fat, ugly and they called me a bitch,” I said, my voice wavered and I could feel the tears threatening to leak out.
James came round to sit next to me and asked, “Did you ask them to stop?” I shook my head and he leant back. “That’s why, just ask them to stop and they’ll stop.”
“You don’t get it!” I snapped. “You can’t just tell them to stop! It doesn’t work like that! You’ve never been bullied; you don’t know what it feels like! You feel powerless, worthless; that anything you do they’ll use it against you and make you feel even worse! I can’t ‘just tell them to stop’!”
“Why not?” he asked, staring at me intently.
“BECAUSE YOU FEEL TINY AND USELESS! You don’t know what it’s like being bullied! You feel as insignificant as an ant! It’s like they’re a foot coming down to stomp on you when you’re stuck! You can’t move, you can’t say anything to prevent it from happening! It’s not easy telling them to stop!” I yelled.
James stood up as well – I didn’t even realise that I stood up when I was yelling at him. “Tell a teacher or something then. Tell someone.”
I glared at him. “It isn’t easy going to a teacher! They laugh at you even more because you’re too weak to handle it yourself. You can’t win against them!” I wiped some of the tears away and I felt something poking at my leg.
I looked down and saw another house elf staring up at me. “Excuse me Missus, you are being too loud. Missus must yell outside.”
“Oh I’m sorry. I’ll leave then, I’m sorry for scaring you,” I apologised.
The house elf shook her head. “You weren’t scaring us Missus! Loud voices isn’t allowed in the kitchen, Missus!”
I nodded and left the dark kitchens, with James trailing behind me. “Clara, listen to me. I picked on a lot of people but only until Dom told me to stop it, I stopped it. You just need to tell them.”
I whipped around and said, “It sounds easy, it does! But it isn’t! It isn’t easy at all! It’s like going to the most important person in the world, the queen, king, minister – I don’t know, someone important – and telling them they shouldn’t be doing something! It's hard and I’m not brave like your cousin!”
“Sure you are. You became friends with me even after I was so rude to you. That’s a pretty brave thing to do,” he said, smiling at me.
“That’s different!” I said, throwing my arms up exasperatedly.
“BECAUSE YOU CAME TO ME FIRST!” I yelled frustratedly, “It doesn’t work like that with normal people!” I was so frustrated, I just wanted to punch something and cry and I think James noticed.
“Stop yelling, Clara. You should go up to them and tell them to stop it.”
I grimaced. “There is no way in hell I will willingly go up to them and ask them to stop it! They’ll spit in my face!” James looked horrified. “Not literally!”
“Look, Clara. I think you just need to tell them off. As soon as you do that, they’ll stop. I promise you. Just stick up for yourself.” He looked so earnest that for a second I wanted to believe him.
But then I remembered who we were talking about. These people had bullied me endlessly for seven years. They wouldn’t stop if I asked them.
I sighed, “If only it was that easy, James.”
“Do you want me to talk to them?” he asked, rubbing my arms.
I shook my head. “No they’ll just laugh at me even more. Thanks, though.” He smiled and gave me a hug.
“Alright, I gotta go to Herbology. Where are you going?”
I stared at him. “I’m going to Herbology as well. I’ve been in your class for the past seven years.”
His mouth dropped open. “Wow, I really am an arse. Sorry ‘bout that. Wanna go?” He gestured with his head and I nodded, walking along with him.
At least I had a friend now.