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Missing by Courtney Dark

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Format: Novella
Chapters: 17
Word Count: 90,394
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/OC, OC/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 09/07/2012
Last Chapter: 07/02/2013
Last Updated: 07/02/2013

Summary:




Victoria Heron-that's the girl everyone is talking about. The girl I can't compare to. She went missing at the end of last year, and here I am, taking her spot, replacing her. Me, the girl who prefers books to people.

And maybe, Victoria's still out there, waiting to come back.

This year is going to be hell.

Thanks to moriarty. @ TDA for the perfect banner. Completed/Undergoing minor edits.


Chapter 1: Me
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This beautiful image is by phoenixn @TDA

 

I stare at myself in the mirror.

Ugh. I look a wreck.

My jeans are crumpled and I couldn’t find a clean shirt, so the one I’m wearing has a coffee stain on it.  My hair is one massive birds nest - it’s sticking up all over the place and I can’t even seem to tame it with magic…and I lost my Sleakeazy's Hair Potion last week. There are dark bags under my eyes and my skin is pale and sickly looking.

I also have a giant pimple on my nose. It makes me look like a witch.

Yes, I realise I am a witch, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, I was meaning one of those ugly, green skinned witches you read about in muggle children’s story books. The kind that kidnap children and cook them in their fireplaces with butter.

Honestly. I don’t know where muggles get these ideas from.

“CHARLIE!” the delightful woman I’m forced to call ‘mum’ hollers from downstairs. “WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING UP THERE? YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE FOR SCHOOL!”

I’m already ten days late for school, thanks to her. She insisted on dragging me along to New Zealand for Great Aunt Matilda’s 100th birthday. Not only is New Zealand the most boring place in the world, but I was forced to endure old Matilda showing me the most disgusting photo’s of my parent’s wedding.

Blurgh! Old people in love makes me want to vomit.

Actually, anybody in love makes me want to vomit. I hate it when you see an annoyingly cute couple, snogging each other all over the place. It’s disgusting!

“CHARLIE!” Mum screams, making me wince. Merlin, that woman’s got a pair of lungs on her. She should take up opera singing. Except then I’d have to dig myself a hole to live in, because I couldn’t stand the shame. “GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW, OR I’LL HAVE TO DRAG YOU MYSELF!”

“ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT!” I scream back. “DON’T GET YOUR KNICKERS IN A TWIST!”

Yes, I know. That wasn’t the most creative comeback. It’s waaaay to early in the morning to think. Usually I’d still be in bed, snoring my head off.

Unfortunately, today is my first day at Hogwarts.

I can see your confused expressions from where I’m sitting. Trust me, I’m just as confused as you. And, before you ask, I am not eleven years old, like most kids who are about to go to Hogwarts for the first time.

I’m seventeen.

I’ve been home schooled for all my life. When I was super little, I went to this community preschool where some idiotic kid decided to grab a pair of scissors and chop of all my hair. Honestly, it wasn’t that big of a deal - I hardy had any hair in the first place - but my crazy, overprotective parents had a psycho. It was so embarrassing.

Well, it was probably embarrassing. I was only like two though, so I can’t really remember.

Anyways…

My poor excuse of a mother decided that all children were dangerous and that they were a bad influence on me, which is absolutely ridiculous - how can one two year old be a bad influence on another two year old? From then on, I was practically a prisoner in my own home.

When I was nine, a girl my age moved across the road from us. I tried to make friends with her, but my mum freaked out (typical) and made the other girls family move away. I can’t even remember what her name was. It was something a bit stupid like Sage or something. I mean, really! Why would you name you child after a herb!

Where was I…?

Oh, right. So, when I turned eleven, mum announced she and dad would be home schooling me. I was very upset about this. I kicked and screamed and threw the toaster out the window (which I later regretted because I have a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey everyday for breakfast) and told mum I hated her. However, I soon came round to the idea of being a social outcast (yes, I’m weird. I prefer the company of books to other living beings.) Then, just a couple of weeks ago, mum gave me a surprise announcement for my seventeenth birthday.

I was going to Hogwarts.

Yay.

That was sarcasm by the way.

I pretended to be all super excited, because it had always been my dream to go to a real school and have friends that weren’t books or a certain fat cat called Bernard, but now…now I was quite happy being the anti-social weirdo. But did that matter to my lovely parents? Nooo. They thought they were giving me some huge treat, shipping me off to Hogwarts for my last year! And I didn't want to make a fuss, so...here I am.

I have no people skills, thanks to my parents.

If I’m out shopping and a cute boy so much as looks at me, I faint.

If a stranger tries to talk to me, I run away. (Hello? Stranger danger.)

And if someone annoys me, I hex them. (I can pull of an amazing Bat-Bogey Hex.)

Of course, I couldn’t exactly tell my oblivious parents about my extreme social issues and how I so didn’t want to go to Hogwarts. The only reason I’d even got in to the bloody school is because some girl in my year dropped out or something, and a spot opened up.

Thanks a lot, drop-out girl. You’ve just made the next year of my life a living-hell. No exaggeration.

“CHARLIE PARKER!” Mum screeches, sounding like one of the ugly, big-beaked birds that likes to hang around our backyard. “IF YOU ARE NOT DOWN HERE IN TEN SECONDS…”

“I’M COMING!” I shout.

That woman needs to learn a lesson about patience. Something she has none of. Hmm. That’s obviously where I get that particular trait from.

Because all my school stuff has already been sent to the school, all I grab is a small backpack covered in cute buttons and patches which is stuffed with my emergency supplies (ie: chocolate, paperback books, chocolate, hairbrush, chocolate, wand and-oh! Did I mention chocolate? It’s a wonder I’m not fat.) Then I shove my feet into a pair of cute Hello Kitty vans, which I could just not resist buying, and trudge down the steps, trying to make myself look as gloomy as possible. There’s still the chance mum will decide she can’t live without my cutting humour and general amazing-ness for a whole year, and won’t make me leave.

Yeah, right.

Mum is standing at the bottom of the steps with her hands on her hips and a cross expression on her face. The sight of what she’s wearing makes me glad I’m using the floo-network to get to Hogwarts. Sometimes I wish mum would make an effort to look a little more…normal. She’s wearing flamboyant pink robes and a headdress decorated with swan feathers. Underneath the robes, she’s wearing fluffy slippers.

What is it with old people and refusing to dress like muggles? One of the (only-and no, I’m not a muggle hater) good things about non-magic people is that they know how to dress without looking like they come from the eighteenth century.

When I reach the bottom of the stairs, a moody scowl on my face, mum instantly begins fussing. “Oh Charlie, can’t you look after yourself a little better?” she sighs, combing my knotty brown hair with her fingers, and tut-tutting at the sight of my coffee stained shirt. Coffee. Something I could use right now incidentally. “It’s your first day of school!”

I shrug. “My alarm didn’t go off.”

Ha. Big fat lie number one. I totally disabled my alarm last night; hoping mum would sleep in and forget all about hurrying me off to school.

Mum sighs dramatically. “You’re a beautiful girl Charlie. I wish you’d make a little more effort to make yourself presentable…”

“I do make an effort!”

Lie number two. I found these jeans lying on the floor and just shoved them on. It’s not like anyone is going to notice me, anyway. I’ll be the weird outcast who has no friends. By now, everyone in my year will have formed their little cliques.

Mum kisses me on the forehead. I wrinkle up my nose, trying not to look too disgusted.

“Time to go, darling,” she says, and hands me our little pouch of floo powder, ushering me into the living room. I stare into the big, stone fireplace, which was built big enough for about three large men to stand in at the same time. My dad is this giant guy - he’s six foot five and is all solid muscle. Everyone’s terrified of him, but he’s the biggest softie. He can’t even kill a spider - if he sees one in the house, he’ll scream, stand on a chair and call out for help.

Yep, my family is weird.

“Have fun, won’t you darling,” Mum says as I step slowly into the fire, feeling like I’m about to cry. Urgh. I am not going to cry. I, Charlie Parker, never cry. And I’m not going to start now.

“I will,” I whisper, which is lie number three. No way in hell will I be having any fun. At least Bernard will be there for moral support.

Mum gives me one last sloppy smooch which I try to appreciate, as I won’t be seeing her for ages.

Nope, still can’t appreciate it. Parents kissing you…it’s just too gross.

“We’ll see you at Christmas,” Mum says, and her eyes are all watery. Brilliant. Now she’s really going to make me cry. “I love you.”

I close my eyes so I don’t start bawling my eyes out. “I love you too,” I say, before pulling out a big handful of floo powder, dropping it into the green flames and shouting; “Headmistress McGonagall’s Office!”

Then there’s a huge whooshing sound in my ears, and I’m gone - flying through space and time and dimensions and…whatever. I don’t really know how the floo network works, and I’m not a big fan of it. I learnt how to apparate last year, but there’s some ridiculous rule that you can’t apparate into Hogwarts. Pfft.

I feel the whirling begin to stop (thank god, I was about to puke) and suddenly crash onto a hard stone floor; face slamming into the ground.

I struggle to sit up, coughing up soot and rubbing at my eyes. I think the main reason I hate travelling by floo powder is because I always forget to close my eyes.

Stupid, stupid me.

“Good morning, Miss Parker.”

I stand up and immediately to see a tall, bony woman sitting at a large desk, using a fancy quill to write a letter on parchment.

“Erm…hi?’

She doesn’t reply, but fixes me with a stern look, so I take the opportunity to look around.

I’m standing in one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen. It’s circular, which makes me think I’m at the top of a tower somewhere, and the curved walls are lined with moving portraits, smiling and winking at me as I look at them. One immediately catches my eye: a portrait of a man with a long beard and hair, half moon glasses and twinkling blue eyes - the legendary Albus Dumbledore, the best Headmaster Hogwarts has ever had.

If Albus Dumbledore is hanging on the wall…this must be the Headmaster’s office. Which means the woman I just said ‘hi’ too is Headmistress McGonagall.

Great start, Charlie.

I told you I have no people skills.

I realise I’ve been gazing randomly into space when I see McGonagall staring at me with a slightly impatient look on her face. I feel myself blushing. “Sorry, Headmistress,” I say quickly. “I sort of…zoned out for a while there.”

McGonagall makes a ‘hmphing’ sort of noise. “I can see that, Miss Parker,” she says in chipped tones. Boy. It would not be good to get on this woman’s bad side. “Now, you’re arrival here at Hogwarts has put us in the most awkward situation.”

Jeez, thanks a lot.

“We don’t usually allow seventh years to come here for their final year, unless they have attended Hogwarts for the full seven years. However, the Ministry has…decided that it would be best if we made an exception for you, Miss Parker.”

I can tell by her tone that she doesn’t approve of the Ministry’s decision. I don’t blame her. I don’t approve of it either. Maybe I could get on this woman’s bad side, then get expelled…

Nah. I’m way too much of a coward, and not afraid to say it.

“It also does not help that you are ten days late for the start of term and have missed the sorting.”

I frown at her in confusion. “Sorting?” I ask. That sounds bad. What are they going to do - sort the bad nuts from the good nuts, like on that muggle movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? What happens to the bad nuts - do they get thrown into the metaphorical incinerator?

“Surely your parents have told you about the sorting,” McGonagall says.

I shake my head. “Nope.”

McGonagall sighs in exasperation. “Each year, our new students get sorted into four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.”

Ohhhh. That’s what she meant. I’ve heard quite a bit about the houses, of course. I know that the famous Harry Potter was in Gryffindor, and that the evil dead dude, Lord Voldemort was a Slytherin. My parents never told me what they were in, because they felt the need to exclude me from normal society.

“Each house has their own common room and dormitories,” McGonagall continues. “You eat with your house, take classes with your house and study with your house. The people in whichever house you are selected for become your family.”

“So…which house am I in?” I ask curiously. Knowing my luck I’ll get dumped into Slytherin.

McGonagall stands up and strides over to one of the many shelves the fill the room. She picks up a disgustingly old, frayed hat. I wrinkle up my nose in horror, wondering why the Headmistress has this mouldy old antique in her office, and what it has to do with my sorting. I don’t have to turn it into a gerbil or something, do I? Transfiguration has never been my strong suit…I prefer subjects where you can get your hands dirty, like Care of Magical Creatures and Herbology.

“Put this on,” says McGonagall, dropping the gross hat onto my head. Well, you just did that for me Headmistress…I resist the urge to rip the hat off my head and stomp on it.

I look at McGonagall. “Now what?”

I swear she smiles a little. “Now, you wait,” she says.

So I do. And then suddenly…that bloody hat begins to speak!

“Hmm,” said a small voice in my ear, and I jump about a mile. Bloody hell, I was not expecting that! “Strange…very strange. You love adventure, I see…have an imagination as well…but have never been around others. Odd, very odd…”

Is a hat calling me odd? Well, that’s a bit offensive, don’t you think? I mean…it’s a hat, for god’s sake!

“…kind by nature, but very awkward around strangers…oh my goodness, this is difficult…”

Awkward around strangers! I am not awkward around strangers!

Well...I am, but that's not the point.

“…there’s only one place to put you,” continues the hat. “GRYFFINDOR!”

The hat shouts the last word out loud and this time, I definitely see McGonagall smile as she pulls the now silent hat from my head.

“Well done, Miss Parker,” she says. “You are now a member of Gryffindor - my own house, as a matter of fact.”

Hmmm…I’m not sure that’s a good thing, actually. But at least I’m not in Slytherin.

“So…what now?” I ask finally.

McGonagall goes back to her desk and hands me several pieces of paper. “Here is your timetable and map of the school. You will find the Gryffindor Common room here,” she says, tapping a section of the map with a long, bony finger. “The password, which you will need upon entering, is Billywig. The other students are currently at class, which will give you time to settle in to your dormitory. However, you will be expected to attend all classes tomorrow.”

I nod. “Okey dokey.”

Oh god. Did I seriously just say that?

Yeah. I’m so not a people person.

McGonagall gives me a look. “You’ll find all your belongings have already been brought into your dormitory,” she says. “And Miss Parker?”

“Yes, Headmistress?”

“There’s something else you need to know. The girl whose spot you’re taking, Victoria Heron, well, she is…”

I wait for her to say what this drop-out girl is, but she doesn’t finish.

She suddenly clears her throat. “Victoria Heron was a Gryffindor, too. You’ll be taking her old spot in the dormitory.”

I nod, not yet sensing anything weird about the mysterious drop-out girl, Victoria Heron. “Cool,” I say. “Can I go now, Headmistress?”

McGonagall nods. "There's just one more thing," she says. She looks up at the ceiling, like she's praying to Merlin or something and calls; "Sir Nicholas!" 

Who on earth is Sir Nicholas?

My question is answered almost immediately as a silvery ghost wearing a particularly large ruff materializes out of nowhere. I let out a shriek of horror and stumble backwards into the wall. Another sign of how little I have had to do with the wizarding world - I have never seen a ghost in my life.

"This is the ghost of Gryffindor, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington," says McGonagall, peering at me through her spectacles. "He will be showing you to your common room."

I look at Sir Nicholas, already feeling nervous.

"Pleasure to meet you," he says, bowing low. I just jerk my head awkwardly, as I can't honestly return the compliment.

"Off you go then, Miss Parker," says McGonagall briskly. "And Charlie?"

I look up at her, surprised that she had used my first name. "Yes, Headmistress?"

"Good luck."

Good luck? Why would I need good luck?

I guess I'm about to find out.




 "So, what do you think of Hogwarts so far?" Sir Nicholas asks, drifting eerily along beside me.

I peek up at him nervously. "Um...I don't really know. I haven't exactly been here very long."

Sir Nicholas beams. "You'll come to love it eventually!" he says. "And I hope you'll help Gryffindor win the house cup?"

"Er...yes, of course."

"Excellent, excellent," Sir Nicholas mutters, as we climb what feels like the hundredth flight of stairs. I find myself wishing this castle wasn't so big! I just know I am going to get lost, the first chance I get.

"And this is where I leave you," says Sir Nicholas importantly. "This is the entrance to the Gryffindor common room."

There is a large portrait of a very fat lady blocking the entrance.

I bite my lip nervously and look up at the ghost of Gryffindor. "Thank you very much," I say politely. "You were very helpful, honestly!"

Sir Nicholas smiles. "Glad to be of assistance," he says, taking another bow. I can't help but notice that his head wobbles slightly on his neck. Hmm. Interesting. "If you ever need any guidance, feel free to find me!"

"I will do," I say, nodding. And with that, Sir Nicholas drifts through the wall opposite, and disappears. And I am left alone. I turn to the portrait blocking the entrance. “Erm…excuse me?” I say, feeling a bit ridiculous talking to a painting. Back home, we don’t have any wizarding pictures on our walls. Mum brought this muggle camera and got really into muggle photography, coz she’s weird like that.

The fat lady looks at me irritably. I wonder how long she's been hanging there. “Can I help you?”

“Well, you’re kind of blocking my way,” I tell her, hoping I don’t sound too rude. “It would be really handy if you could, you know, move.”

The lady gives me another appraising look. Then her eyes widen. “Oh!” she says. “You’re the new girl, aren’t you? Did you get sorted into Gryffindor?”

“No,” I says irritably. “I’m just randomly standing at the entrance to the Gryffindor Common room, waiting to get in. Coz I roll like that.”

Note to self: never try to sound gangster again. Especially when talking to magical paintings.

“Well, deary, you need the password to get in,” says the fat lady. “Otherwise you’re going to be standing there for a long time.”

“It’s Billywig,” I say.

“That it is,” replies the fat lady, and swings open, revealing the Gryffindor Common Room. I step through the hole in the wall to find myself in a comfortable looking room with squashy armchairs and a large fireplace. The walls are decorated with many scarlet tapestries, each depicting something different: ferocious looking animals I have never seen in my life, witches and wizards on broomsticks and wizards wearing long robes and hats, their wands outstretched. I can imagine myself curled up in one of those armchairs with a good book, Bernard curled up in my lap.

Bernard! I almost forgot about my gorgeous fat cat! I wonder if he’s waiting for me in my dormitory…

I see two sets of stairs leading up into the tower. I head up the one labelled ‘Girls Dormitories’ and keep going until I reach the room belonging to the seventh year girls. Then I take a deep breath, and push the door open.

I’m standing it yet another circular room with five beds around the walls. Each part of the room is personalised according to the girl that sleeps there. I immediately see my stuff piled on top of the bed directly opposite, including Bernard, who is meowing pathetically inside the cage which he only just fits into.

“Aw, poor baby!” I say, hurrying over and letting him out. “Did mean old McGonagall not let you out of your cage?”

Bernard starts purring loudly and kneading my knees like I’m a mound of bread dough. I stroke his warm fur and he rolls over on the bed, allowing me to rub his white belly. I immediately feel more relaxed and more at home, and am eternally grateful that you are allowed pets at Hogwarts.

I push Bernard away from me and stand up to look at my space. My face instantly falls in irritation. The girl who was here before me, Victoria Heron, didn’t even bother to pack up her stuff before she left, the dumb blonde! Sitting in photo frames on the nightstand and plastered all over the walls above my bed are pictures of an extremely pretty blonde girl, posing for the camera. The blonde girl (who I’m guessing is Victoria) is everywhere. She’s smiling sexily, (you can tell she knows she looks sexy, too) she’s arm in arm with a group of friends, who are all staring at her in admiration, and she’s fluttering her long eyelashes and giggling. But the pictures that catch my eye are the ones of Victoria, and the boy who is clearly her boyfriend, judging from the fact that she tends to be kissing him in most of the pictures.

Victoria’s boyfriend is really handsome.

And I’m not just meaning hot, or sexy, I’m meaning really, super, amazingly good-looking, almost in an old-fashioned sort of way. He has dark brown hair that is very messy and dark eyes to match. In most of the pictures he’s smiling, and his smile lights up his whole face…

And suddenly, I am jealous of the mysterious Victoria Heron, for what she has and what I never will. I look away from the photos, wondering if I should take them down, not that I have any of my own to replace them with. But if Victoria wanted these photos, surely she would have taken them when she left?

I look back at up at the many smiling Victoria’s, and decide I can’t stand her staring down a me. I climb back up onto my bed, and start to take them down. I’ve only removed about a quarter of the pictures when I hear the door opening. I immediately turn around, curious to see if the person coming into the room is one of my new roommates.

Sure enough, a dark haired girl is standing there, staring at me. She is also very pretty, but in a different way to Victoria. She has short, spiky hair, pale skin and is wearing a lot of eyeliner.

“Oh…hey,” I say, immediately feeling awkward. “Erm…I’m your new roommate. My name is…”

But I suddenly trail off, because the look on this girl's face is scary. She opens her mouth to speak, and when she does, her voice comes out as a horrible growl.

Get the hell away from Tori’s stuff, you FUCKING BITCH!” she screams. Then, before I can react, she’s run towards me and pinned me to the bed, fingers around my neck.

Crap.

I knew I wasn’t a people person, but I really didn’t think I was that bad.




A/N: Hey everyone!

So, I was writing my other fan fic when this idea suddenly sprung into my mind, and I just couldn't get rid of it! So...here it is. I really hope you enjoy and please please please remember to review!

Smiles :)

Courtney.


Chapter 2: Me
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Another gorgeous image by phoenixn @TDA

 

My clearly psychopathic roommate’s fingers tighten round my neck.

I have lost the ability to talk, so I clamp my hands around her fingers, trying to pry them away.

It doesn’t work.

Obviously this girl is no stranger to strangling people.

“REBECCA!” someone shouts and, to my relief, my psycho roommate - Rebecca -releases her grip from my neck and backs away.

Still choking slightly, I manage to sit up on the bed. Another girl is now standing in the room. She is very short, with super curly hair, and she looks a lot nicer than Rebecca and Victoria.

Rebecca glares at the curly haired girl. “She was moving Tori’s stuff!”

“This isn’t Tori’s stuff, anymore, Rebecca,” the new girl says patiently. “She doesn’t…she doesn’t go to this school.”

I sit there awkwardly, watching this exchange. I don’t get why Rebecca is so touchy about moving Victoria’s pictures off the walls.

“If you want me too, I could pack all the pictures up, and you could send them to…to Victoria,” I offer, feeling myself blush as I talk to these two girls.

Merlin, I’m so embarrassed of myself. I can’t even talk to people my age without going red! Both Rebecca and the other girl stare at me. Rebecca looks angry, the other girl looks…sympathetic?

“You must be the new girl,” she says, coming towards me. I instinctively flinch away, and I see a look of hurt pass over the girl’s face. “I’m Aine,” she says, holding out a hand, which I hesitantly shake. “Aine Finnigan. And the person who just tried to kill you is Rebecca Kale.”

I open my mouth to introduce myself. “I’m…”

“She’s Tori’s replacement!” interrupts Rebecca angrily. “And when Tori comes back, she’ll be gone!”

Aine bites her lip. “I…I don’t think Tori’s coming back, Rebecca,” she said softly.

“Yes, she is,” says Rebecca stubbornly. She shoots me a look. “Put her pictures back on the wall. They’re Tori’s pictures. That’s Tori’s bed you’re sitting on. Not yours.”

Woah. What is this girl’s problem?

“Look,” I say, starting to feel irritated. “I have no idea who this…this Tori person is, but she’s not here anymore. I am. This is my bed and I’m going to do whatever I like…”

I break off when I see that Rebecca’s eyes have filled with tears. Crap. What have I done now?

Aine instantly rushes over to Rebecca. “Oh, Rebecca honey!” she says, wrapping her arms around her. “She didn’t mean it like that. She just…

But Rebecca just shoves her away. “You have no right to say those things about Tori!” she says to me, wiping away tears. Her mascara is running in black streaks down her face. She looks like a panda. This is why I don’t wear make up. “She was better than you’ll ever be!”

Ouch. That’s a bit harsh, considering the girl doesn’t even know me. I could turn out to be totally awesome.

“You need to calm down, Rebecca,” says Aine soothingly. “Maybe we should get back to class?” Rebecca gives me one last glare, then storms out of the room.

Thank god. That is one nasty bitch.

I mean witch.

I’m nice. I don’t call people bitches.

“I’m sorry about that,” Aine says sympathetically. “Rebecca’s going through some serious…issues at the moment.”

I nod. “I can see that.”

Yeah. I’m not the best conversationalist.

Aine bites her lip. “Look, I need to get back to class now, but there’s going to be a big party down at the Black Lake tonight. All the sixth and seventh years are invited. Would you like to come?”

I open my mouth to say no. I hate parties - not that I’ve ever been to a proper one - but I’ve heard all about them. Teenage girls and boys making out and drinking, dancing and talking…in other words, way too much socialising for me. I’d rather curl up in one of those armchairs with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

But I can’t go round being the girl no-one knows for the whole year.

“Sure,” I say, instantly regretting my decision. “Sounds fun.”

Ha. Yet another classic Charlie Parker lie.

Aine smiles. “Great,” she says. “I’ll see you later, new girl.”

She exits the room, before I can tell her that my name is not new girl, but is, in fact, Charlie Parker.

After she’s left, I stare down at the small pile of photographs sitting on my bed, which I was originally planning on throwing away. I pick the top one off the pile. It’s one of Victoria, making a very ‘on-purpose’ expression. There are three other girls with her, all wearing pyjama’s and I instantly recognise one as Rebecca.

This Rebecca is smiling falsely and waving at the camera. But there’s something about her that is…off. She doesn’t look very confident and almost seems nervous to be in Victoria’s presence. Her hair’s different, too. It’s very long and she has giant bangs that cover her eyes. It’s like she’s trying to hide.

Frowning, I put the photo back down on the pile, and then shove them under the bed (Bernard comes racing out as I do so, a frightened look on his face.) I’m not putting them back on the wall like Rebecca wanted me too, but I’m not keeping them, either. If Rebecca wants them, she can have them.

When most of the photos are gone, I lie back on the bed. It’s quite comfortable actually, and I almost feel like I’m at home when Bernard lies next to me, on my pillow. I grab a chocolate bar from my backpack and Hogwarts: A History from my trunk. Then I do what I do whenever I’m alone, happy, frustrated or scared: I eat chocolate and read. I just hope that this massive, leather-bound book will remind me why I wanted to come to this school at the age of eleven.

I’m beginning to think mum was right about other children and teenagers. People are dangerous. Keeping to yourself and eating chocolate is your safest bet for survival around here.

Wow. I think I just found myself a new motto!




Aine, Rebecca and two other girls return to the dormitory after dinner, something I’d opted out of. I didn’t want a whole lot of strangers staring at me, and I was quite happy sitting up here, reading and finishing my chocolate stash.

I look up as I see them coming in. At the sight of me sitting on Victoria’s - ahem, my bed, Rebecca sulks, and storms over to her corner of the room, where she flops down on her own bed, picks up a magazine and begins to read. The two unknown girls are staring at me with wide eyes, muttering to each other.

“You didn’t come down to dinner,” Aine says. She comes over to my bed, where she plonks herself down, and starts patting Bernard, who begins purring. Idiot cat. He’s such a sucker for attention.

“I wasn’t hungry.”

One of the girls suddenly lets out a giggle.

I stare at them irritably. The two of them are very similar looking - both have dark, long hair, black eyes and olive skin. Indian heritage, maybe? Both look like annoying, giggly airheads. They kind of remind me of baby ducklings.

“Is something bothering you?” I ask rudely.

Me? Rude? Jeez, I’m usually the nice one. What’s happening to me?

“You’re the new girl,” one of the ducklings states. Isn’t that kind of obvious to everyone in the vicinity?

“Not for long,” says Rebecca, from behind the magazine that she is obviously only pretending to read. “Soon Tori will be back, and she’ll be gone.”

The two ducklings look at each other.

“What?” Rebecca barks at them, and they both jump. “You think Tori isn’t going to come back? Well, she is! I know it!”

One of the ducklings nods nervously. “Oh yes,” she says. “Tori is definitely coming back. Yes.”

I now realise that the ducklings were in a lot of Victoria’s photos. Interesting.

Aine clears her throat. “Right,” she says, giving me an embarrassed smile. I decide to go ahead and like Aine. So far, she’s the only person I’ve met that hasn’t mentioned ‘Tori coming back.’ “We have a party to get to.”

“This will be the first one without Tori,” says one of the ducklings sadly. “It feels wrong somehow, going without her.”

Aine sighs, and looks at me. “Meet Clementine and Lavender Patil-McLaggen,” she says, with a small smile.

“We’re twins,” either Clementine or Lavender offers.

Clementine and Lavender. Stupidest names I’ve ever heard. Even worse than Sage.
What is it with middle aged people and stupid names? Do parents want to humiliate their kids?

“Are you coming to the party, Rebecca?” Clementine or Lavender asks.

Hm. It’s going to get tedious, calling them ‘Clementine or Lavender.’ Maybe I’ll just name them Duckling One and Duckling Two.

Rebecca glares at me.

Hold up.

Why’s she glaring at me? I didn’t even say anything!

Unless she can read minds...

“No,” she says. “The party was Tori’s idea. I’m not going without her.”

Aine shrugs. “Suit yourself,” she says. “Clementine, Lavender, new girl - you coming?”

I nod, and jump off my bed, trying to look eager. It’s hard.

“Coming,” I say.

There’s no way I’d stay alone in this room with Rebecca, anyway. She might actually try to rip my throat out.




Merlin, castles are creepy at night.

Aine, the ducklings and I creep down seven flights of stairs, careful not to wake any of the castles other…inhabitants (ie the creepy paintings that watch you.) Once we’re at the bottom of the stairs, we sneak out of the castle through the courtyard and onto the Hogwarts grounds. I immediately wish I’d thought to put on something warmer. The air is chilly, and I’m still wearing my jeans and coffee stained shirt. I’ve got a big fluffy jacket back in my suitcase that I would love to be wearing right now.

I also feel a tad…scruffy compared to Aine and the ducklings. They’ve all changed out of their uniforms. Aine’s wearing cute ankle boots, tights and a brightly coloured skirt, and the ducklings are in matching dresses - one is blue, one is pink.

I shiver, my teeth chattering in the cold wind. This was a bad idea. I hate parties. I hate people in general. It’s not my fault; I’ve just never been around them.

“Are you alright?” Aine looks at me in concern.

I just nod.

“Don’t be nervous,” smiles Aine reassuringly, clearly assuming that my shivering is out of nerves, not cold. “Everyone at Hogwarts is really nice.”

I look at her with raised eyebrows, but she’s already turned away.

Everyone at Hogwarts is really nice? Hello? Has she met our charming roommate, Rebecca? The one who tried to strangle me?

“There’s my girl!” someone shouts loudly, and I realise that we’ve arrived at the scene of the party.

A lot of people are here, around the Black Lake, laughing, talking and dancing to some loud music that seems to be coming from mid-air. I don't know why the teachers cannot hear all this noise - perhaps someone cast a Muffliato charm. Someone has set up a beer pong table which several large guys are already standing around, talking in loud booming voices. Little jars of blue flames are floating in the sky, warming the chilly air.

A hunky looking guy holding a can of beer wraps his arm around Aine and swoops in for a kiss. I stand there, staring in the opposite direction as they snog each others faces off.

God, am I awkward.

Finally, they break away from each other. I see Aine looking at me, like she’s just remembered I’m there.

“Oh!” she says. “Erm…this is my boyfriend, Michael Wood. Mick, this is the new girl in our dorm.”

Michael, who seems friendly enough, grins at me and holds out his hand. “Call me Mickey,” he says, as I shake it. His hands are rough and calloused. Odd.

“Mick’s Keeper on the Gryffindor Quidditch team,” says Aine proudly, which explains his hands. I’ve personally never been a fan of Quidditch. That’s probably because I hate heights. Merlin, I sound like such a wimp.

“Which Quidditch team do you support?” Mickey asks, and I realise he’s talking to me.

“Oh,” I say, feeling my cheeks going red. For goodness sake, Charlie! If you are going to blush whenever a guy talks to you, people are going to start getting the wrong message! “I-I don’t really know any Quidditch teams,” I stammer out, sounding pathetic.

What?” says Mickey in horror. “Where have you been girl?”

I just stare at him.

Aine laughs. “Don’t terrify the poor girl, Mick,” she says.

Great. She thinks I look terrified. I am such a loser. I hate mum for sending me here.

“Me? Terrify her? Don’t be silly!”

Aine rolls her eyes, and links her arm through mine. “Come on, new girl,” she says. “Let’s go meet some people - this is the first party of the year!”

Mickey hooks my other arm through his, and they lead me away. Argh! Too much human contact! Have I mentioned I’m not a people person?

Mickey and Aine began to introduce me to people. I gave everyone a sort of smile, and told them my name, but no-one seemed to care. The moment Aine told them I was ‘the new girl’ they just looked at me funny, and went back to their conversations. The worst part was, the moment they turned their backs on me, I heard them muttering Victoria’s name, talking about her. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I thought I knew anyway.

They were saying how much better the fantastic Tori Heron was than me, how I could never compare to her. Fan-bloody-tastic.

Though Aine was obviously trying to include me, make me feel welcome, I think she got a bit sick of me and my awkward silence. She announced that she and Mickey were going to play beer pong, leaving me standing all alone on the side of the lake.

Okay, yes, she did ask if I wanted to play too, but I declined. I have never played beer pong in my life, and don’t plan on breaking that tradition.

Now, as I stand all alone on the side of the Black Lake with my hands folded tightly across my chest, I survey my surroundings. Aine must have introduced me to over half the people here, but I don’t remember a single one of their names. Which fits, because I bet none of them remember my name either. To them, I am just Tori Heron’s replacement.

I wonder why Tori dropped out of school?  From the photos on her wall - ahem, my wall, it seemed like she was very popular. She was super pretty and had a great boyfriend. I reckon she had everyone twisted around her little finger.

So what made her leave?

“You look lonely.”

I look up to see a boy standing next to me. He’s wearing jeans and a sweater, and holding a cup of firewhiskey in one hand. He is also smiling. He’s nice looking, actually, now that I take a good look at him. Not classically handsome, like the boy in all Tori’s photo’s but kind of…cute.

Urgh. No, cute is not the right word. Cute makes me think of fluffy bunny rabbits and loveseats and rainbows. Yeah, I’m not much of a romantic.

No, this boy looks…friendly.  He has light brown hair and bright green eyes beneath a pair of glasses. Everything about him is natural, which I like in a boy.

Hold up. What the flipping hell did I just say? How do I know what I like in a boy? I think I’ve only talked to two boys in my whole life. Wow, that sounds pathetic.

“Are you alright?” the boy asks, peering down at my face. He’s quite tall, actually.  “You’re eyes are kind of crossing.”

I shake my head, realising that I’ve been staring at him. Awkward.

“I’m fine,” I say stiffly.

Okay, I still sound like a total moron, but at least I’m not blushing! Though that could be due to the fact that I feel like I’m about to freeze to death.

“Drink?” the boy offers, holding out the firewhiskey.

I shake my head.

He shrugs. “Well, if you don’t want it…” He holds the glass to his mouth and chugs most of it down. When he’s finished, he peers down at me again. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around,” he said, scratching his head. “Who are you again?”

“Charlie Parker,” I say, wondering whether there’s actually any chance someone will remember my name. “I’m the new girl.”

As I expected, the boys face falls. To my surprise, he quickly regains his composure. “A seventh year then, eh?” he asks. “I’m in sixth. Gryffindor.”

I nod. “Me too.”

He frowns. “Huh. I would have said you were a Hufflepuff.”

I’ve been told that the Hufflepuff’s are all poufs. Great. Thanks mystery guy, what a compliment.

“If you’re in Gryffindor, that means…that means you’re in the seventh year girls dormitory,” he says slowly.

“Yes,” I reply.  I realise how boring I sound, but I kind of wish this boy would leave me alone. I mean, he seems very nice, and he’s clearly not drunk, but I’d really rather be alone right now.

A strange flicker of emotion crosses the boys face, but I can’t work out what it is. “You really have taken Tori’s place, haven’t you,” he says in a quiet voice, but I hear him.

“Did you…did you know her?” I ask curiously.

The boy looks at me. Then he clears his throat. “I should get back to the party,” he says. “Have a nice night, Charlie.”

So he remembered my name. That’s nice.

Then I realise I don’t know his.

“Wait!” I shout, because he has already turned, and is walking away. “You never told me your name.”

He turns, and I see a shadow of a grin on his face. “It’s Albus,” he says. “Albus Potter.”

After Albus leaves, I just stand there, staring after him. The famous Albus Potter. Harry Potter’s son.

I watch him join a group of other sixth year Gryffindors. A girl whose red hair can be seen a mile away pulls him into a hug. I see him smile and lift her into the air.

I feel a pang of jealousy. I don’t think I’m jealous of Albus’ girlfriend. I think I’m jealous that there’s no-one in this world that cares about me that much. The thought makes me want to cry.

At the beer pong table, I see Aine jumping onto Mickey’s back and smacking him on the back of his head. They’re both laughing as he spins around, playfully trying to get her off. Sitting on the bank of the lake, the ducklings are still arm in arm, both looking a little tipsy.

I am all alone.

How can I ever be anything, compared to the great Tori Heron?




Authors Note: Whoop whoop! Chapter Two is here! I don't think this chapter is really my best work, but I just want to get the introduction of several characters out of the way.

Enjoy and please remember to review!

Smiles:)

Courtney.

PS: The next chapter is from Tori's point of view, so watch out for that.


Chapter 3: Tori
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Another one by phoenixn @TDA

 
One year ago

“I just can’t believe they did this to me!” Tori said, examining her perfect nails. She'd had them done especially - pink with small, perfectly painted roses on them.

She glared at her driver in irritation. “Um, hello? Are you going to answer me? I’m kinda talking to you.”

The grumpy old driver looked at her through his rear view mirror. “I am here on behalf of your aunt, Miss Heron, to drive you to school,” he said. “I am not here to listen to your whining.”

Tori raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know what your name is, mister, but you need to know who you’re talking to. My name is Victoria Heron and I am the daughter of Auberon Heron, former senior assistant to the Minister of Magic.”

“I know who you are,” the driver said shortly.

Tori stared at him in irritation, but he didn’t flinch. She sighed dramatically, and flopped back on the limo’s comfortable seats. Her aunt would have been perfectly happy to send her to school on the train, but Tori had insisted she have a private driver. Her parents would never have allowed her to travel using public transportation.

“We are now approaching the Hogwarts Castle,” the driver said blandly. “We should be there in less than five minutes, Miss Heron.”

“Finally,” said Tori moodily. “I feel like I’ve been squashed into the back of this car forever.”

She wasn’t happy about going to Hogwarts. All her friends at her old school, Beauxbatons had always talked about what a dump it was. Beauxbatons, on the other hand, was a very good school, which Tori would have been perfectly happy to stay at. She’d been popular, had several boyfriends and her parents had been friends with the Headmistress.

Unfortunately, she’d gotten expelled after a little incident involving her arch-enemy, Cassandra (who, incidentally, had stolen one of her boyfriends) and a fire making spell.

“We’re here,” announced the driver, parking the car.

Tori peered out the window to see trees, grass and a big lake.

Yuck.

“Is someone going to be meeting me?” Tori asked. “I need some help with my bags.”

The driver sighed. “Of course, Miss Heron,” he said. “Everything has been organised for you.”




Tori got sorted into Gryffindor.

Because she was the only sixth year getting sorted into a house, it meant she got a lot of attention from the other students.

That was good.

Tori liked attention.

As she strutted over to the Gryffindor table with her head held high, she readjusted her skirt, making it much shorter, so that a lot more leg was visible.

Tori knew she had good legs. And she knew how to make everyone else know she had good legs, too.

She heard students whispering as she sat down at the edge of the table, with her head held high.

Now was not the time for making friends. No, that would come later.

Now was the time to look desirable. To make everyone want to be her friend.

After the sorting was finished, the food appeared. Tori grabbed a roll and buttered it. Then, she looked carefully around the Gryffindor table…and smirked. Almost every guy who had hit puberty was staring at her. They wanted her - and why wouldn’t they? Every other girl around the table was so dull.

Well, Tori thought, it was time to spice things up around here.




Tori followed the crowd of Gryffindor’s up to their common room, still remaining apart from the crowd.

A portrait of a fat lady blocked the entrance, but a spotty prefect said the password, and the portrait swung open. Like everyone else, Tori climbed through it, and entered a charming but lifeless looking room.

There was already a red-haired girl sitting at one of the wooden tables, nose stuck in a book.

Tori strode up to her, and the girl’s eyes widened. “I’m Victoria Heron,” she said. “But you can call me Tori. Can you tell me which way to the girls dormitories?”

The red-haired girl didn’t say anything for a moment, but then quickly cleared her throat and pointed in the direction of a sweeping spiral staircase.

Good, thought Tori, she’s intimidated by me.

She flashed the girl a brief smile. “Thank you,” she said, before heading up the stairs, feeling many sets of eyes drilling into her back.

Tori didn’t consider herself to be a bitch. Maybe she was, but whilst she was here at this dump of a school, she might as well be remembered for something. Better than being remembered as the girl that put someone in St Mungo’s, at any rate.

Tori pushed the door open of the sixth year girl’s dormitory and found herself in a very plain circular room. There were five beds around the walls, and the bed directly opposite the door had her bags piled on top of it.

There was only one other girl in the room. She had long dark hair that covered her face, and even though she looked skinny and sickly, she was very pretty.

Hmm, Tori thought, that could be a problem.

Tori glanced at the girl, who was reading a very thick book. Tori had always been jealous of those who could get lost in books - she’d never really been the reading type. “I’m Victoria,” she said. “Victoria Heron. But because we’re going to be roomies, you can call me Tori.”

The girl didn’t reply, so Tori began unbuttoning her cloak.

“I’m Rebecca Kale,” the girl said finally in a flat voice.

Tori took a second look, and smiled mentally. The girl was pretty, sure, but she had zero personality. That, plus the fact that she was wearing her skirt well below her knees reassured Tori that she wasn’t going to be a threat.

That meant she could be her friend.

At that moment, two more giggling girls appeared in the room.

“Oh!” one of them said, as they saw Tori getting changed out of her uniform.

Tori smiled pleasantly at them. “I’m Tori,” she said. “I just exchanged here from Beauxbatons.”

One of the two girl’s eyes widened. “Oh, wow!” she said. “Beauxbatons! Wow!”

They didn’t seem to be the brightest fish in the sea.

Good. That meant they were followers, rather than leaders.

“I’m Clementine,” said the girl who had just spoken. “And this is my sister, Lavender.”

“So girls,” said Tori, who had suddenly experienced a boost of confidence. This year was going to be a breeze! “What’s on tonight?”

Clementine and Lavender looked at each other.

“What do you mean?” Clementine asked.

Tori laughed. “Like a party or something. I mean, it is the first night back. You guys don’t really want to sit here and be anti-social, do you?”

Clementine and Lavender both giggled. “You mean…a party with boys?” one of them asked.

Rebecca suddenly snapped her book shut. “There are no parties,” she said stiffly. “Classes begin tomorrow, and no-one wants to be tired for their first day back at school…”

“Don’t be boring, Becky,” Tori said. “If there’s no party, then it’s our duty, as the most attractive girls at this school, to organise one.”

“But how?” Clementine asked. “If we throw a party in the castle, one of the ghosts will hear us and alert the teachers.”

Tori wrinkled her nose. Urgh. Ghosts. Her old school would never have allowed ghosts in the castle.

“It’s alright, ladies,” Tori said confidently. “I already have a plan. I’ll round up some bodies and we’ll party down at the lake. I smuggled some firewhiskey into the castle. Come on, it’ll be fun!”

Clementine and Lavender looked at each other, then back at Tori, who fake pouted. “Please come,” she said. “For me?”

The two girls broke into spiels of laughter. “Oh, alright,” said Clementine - or was it Lavender? It really didn’t matter either way. “I suppose it could be fun.”

Tori beamed. “Brilliant!” she said, and began to unzip one of her bags.

“What are you doing?” Rebecca asked suspiciously, and Tori answered her by pulling out several bottles of firewhiskey.

“What’s a party without alcohol?” Tori said, and threw the bottles to Clementine, who caught them with a bewildered expression on her face. “Take these down to the lake,” Tori instructed them. “Get the party going - round up as many people as possible. Oh, and make sure there’s music playing. Loud. Someone should cast a charm to make sure the teachers can't hear. We don't want them gatecrashing now, do we?”

“Where are you going?” Lavender asked, looking puzzled.

Tori’s face broke into a sly grin. “I’m going to round up the male population of this school,” she said. “Oh, and ladies: please take off those dreadful uniforms. Wear something pretty.”
 
Tori confidently strode up to the boys dormitories, revelling in the looks she was getting from those few students still sitting in the Common Room. She knocked loudly on the first door she came to, and waited patiently. Finally, a smouldering hot guy opened the door. He had dark, tanned skin and sparkling eyes. He looked at Tori with amusement.

“Can I help you?”

Tori smiled at him sweetly. “My name is Tori Heron,” she said. “And I just want to let you know that I’m throwing a little party down by the lake tonight.”

The guy grinned at her. “The new girl is breaking rules already,” he said. “I like it. I’m in. I’m Fred, by the way. Fred Weasley.”

“Round up as many people as you can,” Tori told him. “Invite members of other houses, if you want to. This is going to be huge.”

“You got it,” Fred winked, before closing the door.

Tori smiled to herself. Her party was going to be epic. 

She returned to her room to see Rebecca standing in front of a long mirror, wearing a semi-hideous set of dress robes. Tori pursed her lips, but didn’t say anything, as she stripped down into her lacy underwear, and began rummaging about for something decent to wear.

“I see you’ve decided to come to the party, then,” Tori commented.

Boring Becky nodded.

“Good,” said Tori, pulling on a very short, very tight strapless number, which made every part of her body look even better. Then she tied up her hair in a high, bouncy ponytail, which showed off her perfect cheekbones, shoved her feet into a pair of heels and turned to Rebecca. “Ready?”

Rebecca just nodded again. She looked so nervous. Hmm. If she was going to be Tori’s friend, she’d have to gain a bit more confidence. But not enough that she’d want to take Tori’s throne.

The two girls hurried out of the dormitory, Tori taking the lead. The Common Room was cleared out, which was good. It meant everyone had either gone to bed or headed to the party

They hurried down the many flights of stairs, Tori with her hand clamped to Rebecca’s arm, pulling her along.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Rebecca asked, in an annoying, whining sort of voice. “Not many people here know me…”

Tori laughed. “How can not many people know you? You’ve been here for five years, right?”

Rebecca bit her lip and nodded. “I usually…keep to myself,” she admitted.

“Not anymore you don’t,” said Tori. “The friends of Tori Heron don’t get that choice.”




They reached the edge of the lake, which Tori was glad (and, admittedly, a little relieved) to see was filled with people.

Thank god for Clementine and Lavender - they’d managed to sort some music out, and people looked like they were having a good time. They were talking, laughing, dancing and squealing.

Tori grinned at Rebecca impressively. The bore of a girl was tugging on the ends of her dress robes self-consciously, looking as though she’d like to be anywhere else.

Tori grabbed her hand and squeezed it in a comforting manner. “Come on then, Becky,” she said. “It’s time for you to meet your classmates!”

Tori strode into the midst of all the activity, dragging Rebecca along behind her. Heads turned as she passed them, and Tori knew they were looking at her, not Rebecca, who looked like some kind of medieval goth with her long dress and dreary bangs.

She didn’t stop walking until she came to Fred Weasley, and the group of guys he was standing with.  They were all holding cups of firewhiskey and laughing loudly. Fred grinned a dopey grin as Tori arrived, and put his arm around her. He reminded Tori a bit of a puppy.

She hated dogs.

“There’s the party thrower!” Fred said loudly. “We were all wondering where you were, Miss Heron.”

Tori gave him a big fake smile, fluttering her eyelashes. “Well, I’m here now Freddy,” she said, giving a laugh that was even faker than her smile. His arm felt good around her shoulder, but Fred wasn’t the type of guy she’d want as a boyfriend. He was too light hearted, too happy.

“Who’s your friend, Tori?” Fred asked, still grinning.

Tori wondered whether he ever stopped smiling or being happy. It was quite annoying, actually. The worst part was, his happiness wasn’t fake, unlike Tori’s own plastered smile.

Tori smiled at him, and tossed her head. “Oh, come on Freddy!” she said, pulling an awkward looking Rebecca closer to her. “How can you not know Rebecca? She’s been in your classes for five years!”

Fred looked at Rebecca, then his face broke into yet another grin.

Yawn. He was so boring.

“Of course I remember Rebecca!” he said, and Boring Becky’s face went bright pink. “We sat next to each other in potions last year!”

Tori smiled at Rebecca. “See, Becky? People do know who you are!”

“He turned our cauldron into a slug,” Rebecca muttered. “We lost fifty house points for Gryffindor.”

Fred burst into laughter. “I’d almost forgotten about that!” he said, and squeezed Tori closer to him. “Oh, you should have seen old Sluggy’s face!”

Tori tried to remove Fred’s hand from around her waist. “Now you should introduce me to your friend’s, Freddy,” she said, smiling around at the group of boys. They all ogled her with big eyes.

Well, they ogled her boobs, but whatever.

Fred (finally) removed his arm and introduced all his friends who weren’t very memorable in Tori’s opinion.

“OI FRED!”

Tori turned round to see yet another guy bounding towards Fred, loopy smile on his face. Tori felt her mouth widen.

The female population of this school may be dull, but the boys were smoking hot.

This guy was even better looking than Fred.

He was very tall, but not awkwardly so, with a strong jaw, messy dark brown hair and long lashes. Tori usually thought long lashes made a guy look too feminine, but not on this boy.

As he bounded up to Fred and put an arm on his shoulder, Tori noticed that the gaze of every girl within eyeshot was on him.

He was the guy all the girls wanted.

Which meant he was the guy she had to have.

“James, my man,” said Fred, and they gave each other a sort of manly handshake. As they did so Tori noticed that the new guy - James - had amazing arm muscles. “You’ve been missing out on all the fun.”

James snorted. “Fredster, you are the one who has been missing out. I just pushed old Scorpius into the lake. He was trying to chat up Rosie.”

Fred snorted with laughter, and Tori immediately turned in the direction of the lake. Sure enough she saw a boy with pale hair and a pointed face, clambering out of the lake, looking furious.

Tori looked away, and realised that James was grinning at her. “Don’t think I’ve seen you around before,” he said. “Are you new?”

Tori smiled sweetly. “It’s my first day,” she said. “I’m Tori.”

James nodded. “James Potter.”

Oh.

Of course he was James Potter, the famous Harry Potter’s son.

No wonder every girl wanted him. He was super fit and the son of a legend at the same time. Tori knew Harry Potter had another son, but apparently he was quite the bore. He and Boring Becky would get on well.

Tori flashed him another smile. “Well, of course I know who you are,” she said, trying to sound as flattering as possible.

To her annoyance, James turned away from her to look at Rebecca, who Tori had almost forgotten was still sticking right on her, like a wart plaster.

“Hey Becky!” he said, and Rebecca went the colour of tomato. She looked hilarious.

“Hey,” she murmured.

“I haven’t seen you in a while. How was your break?”

“Good.”

Oh god, she was so boring!

Tori suddenly frowned. This was her party, not Rebecca’s. She was the new girl. James should be paying attention to her, not Boring Becky.

She suddenly linked arms with Rebecca, and gave her a big smile. “Come on, Becky,” she said. “We can’t let these boys keep us all to themselves. We have other people to meet.” She smiled sexily at James. “I’m sure I’ll see you later,” she said, before dragging Rebecca away.

They found Clementine and Lavender with another plain looking girl, who was dressed in the most ridiculous outfit Tori had ever seen. She had mousy, slightly wavy hair and was very short. There was a chain of daisies in her hair and she was wearing a dress covered in feathers, felt patches and buttons.

What a freak.

“Tori!” shrieked Clementine, and immediately grabbed Tori by the arm and pulled her in. “You have to meet Aine - she’s our other roommate!”

Tori looked at Aine with her cheeks sucked in. “Nice dress.”

Aine smiled at her. Tori was irritated to see it was a slightly mocking smile, and not full of admiration. “Thanks,” she said. “I made it myself.”

Tori smirked slightly, just enough so that the weirdo could get offended. “I can see that.”

To her annoyance, the freak just continued smiling. “Nice party, by the way, Barbie,” she said. “Though I’m surprised you haven’t caught your death…wearing a dress like that.”

Tori was spared answering thanks to the twins, who both let out identical shrieks of laughter.  Tori looked at them, her eyebrows raised. One of the twins nodded towards the group of guys Tori and Rebecca had just been with, and Tori raised her eyebrows even higher.

“I see,” she said. “Eye stalking the boys over there, are we?”

The twins giggled even harder.

God, they were annoying.

Tori smirked. “If you guys like one of them, why don’t you just go over there and talk to them? Use your feminine power.”

The twins looked at each other. “That sounds difficult,” one of them said.

Tori gave them a look. “Of course it’s not difficult!” she said. “Watch this.”

She broke away from the group, and strode back over to James and the others.

“The new girl is back!” Fred whooped.

“You see those girls over there?” Tori gestured towards her four roommates. “Well, I have a feeling they each might fancy one of you. What would you say about a little game of truth or dare?”

“Hell YES!” said Fred eagerly. “What’d ya reckon, Jamsey?”

James grinned. Tori tried not to swoon. His smile was that classically hot, lopsided grin. “If there’s any chance of a bit of snogging, I’m in!”

“Great!” beamed Tori, and turned round to face the rest of the party. Before she spoke, she took her wand out from her safe keeping place (tucked inside her bra) and performing a quick silencing spell. The music stopped playing at once, and everyone turned to look at her.

“Hello, everyone!” she said. “My name is Tori Heron - you might know me as the new girl!”

A boy wolf-whistled from somewhere, and Tori fought the urge not to grin. “My friends and I are about to play a little game of truth or dare,” she said, and there were several cheers from the crowd. “Anyone who wants to join us, is welcome to play!”

 Ten minutes later and every single student at the party was sitting in a large circle, waiting to begin. Tori was in the very centre, with Fred next to her, his arm around her waist. Tori kept glancing at James to see if this made him jealous, but his expression was neutral.

“Alright,” she said. “As this is my party, I’ll start the game off. Fred: you’re up first. Truth or dare?”

“Truth,” grinned Fred. “The Fred Monster has no secrets.”

“When was the last time you had a one night stand?”

Fred grinned. “The last day of term last year,” he said, and winked at a petite blonde sitting opposite him, who blushed and bowed her head.

James groaned. “So that’s why you didn’t want to apparate to watch the band playing in Diagon Alley with me!”

Fred shrugged. “What can I say? I’m a lady’s man.”

The red haired girl who Tori had talked to in the common room earlier snorted. “Sure you are, Freddy,” she said, and Tori was irritated that she wasn’t the only one that called Fred by a different name.

“Was that sarcasm, my dear cousin?” Fred asked serenely, and the girl rolled her eyes.

“Don’t take it too harsh, Fredster,” James grinned. “Rosie told me I was an arrogant prat with a bad-temper and an unhealthy addiction to making out in closets the other day.”

Hmm. So the red-haired girl was James’ cousin.

Good. That meant she wouldn’t be a threat.

“Alright then, Jamesy,” said Fred. “Your turn: truth or dare?”

James snorted. “I wouldn’t be the gorgeous James Potter if I didn’t say dare now then, would I?”

Several girls around the circle giggled stupidly. Tori glared at all of them. James Potter was hers.

“That you wouldn’t. Alright: I’ve got a good one: strip naked and jump in the Black Lake.”

“Fred, that is disgusting!” said Rose. “I do not want to see my cousins naked parts!”

“You’re in the minority there, I’m afraid, dear Rosie,” said James, and pulled off his jacket, followed by his t-shirt.

Tori’s heart pounded as she stared at the shirtless James Potter.

He had the most fantastic abs she had ever seen - how did he have such amazing abs? He was only sixteen!

“I am closing my eyes,” said Rose firmly, and she did just that.

“Are you taking those off, as well?” Tori purred, pointing at James’ trousers.

He just grinned at her, and unzipped them, pulling them off until he was standing there in his boxers.

Fred snorted. “I can’t believe you’re actually doing what I suggested,” he said. “And I think you can stop there, you twat. No-one needs to be scarred for life.”

James thwacked him on the back of his head with his trousers. “Rude,” he said. “You know what they say about men with big feet, Fredster.”

“Yep,” said Fred. “Unfortunately for you, mate, your feet are tiny.”

“Come on, James,” said Tori, putting her own arm around Fred, who grinned at her with that idiotic grin of his “You don’t want everyone to think you’re a pussy, do you?”

“Me? A pussy? You’re dreaming, new girl,” said James.

Then he sprinted down to the lake (shit, he was hot when he ran) and dived straight in. There was a resounding splash, and all the girls gasped.

Aine shook her head. “That boy is wild!”

Fred grinned broadly. “That’s my Jamesy!”




Tori watched as James climbed out of the lake, his wet hair hanging over his eyes, droplets of water clinging to his firm abs.

Holy. Shit.

He looked so…eatable right then.

He approached the circle, and sat down next to Fred, who clapped him on the back. “Mate, that was impressive,” he said, as James pulled on his trousers. He didn’t bother with his shirt, which Tori was thankful for.

James bowed. “Now it’s my turn,” he said, and turned to Tori. Her heart began to hammer. “Miss Heron,” he said. “Truth or dare?”

Tori thought hard about this decision. If she chose truth, it was all too likely that she’d have to reveal something bad, or embarrassing about herself. And James was much more likely to be impressed if she chose dare.

“Dare,” she said.

This was definitely the right choice, as James beamed at her.

His smile was very different to Fred’s. He didn’t look like a lost puppy, for one thing. “Kiss the person you fancy most in this circle,” he said, and Tori’s heart stopped hammering.

This was a test, she knew it. James wanted to know if she wanted him. She couldn’t let him know that she did.

Tori smiled at James. “You want to know who I, Tori Heron, fancy most?” she asked innocently.

James grinned, and he stretched backwards. “Hell yeah,” he said, and Tori smiled even harder. He so thought he was getting some.

He wasn’t.

She leaned in closer to Fred and pressed her mouth against his.

Then she kissed him.

He kissed her back.

It felt nice having Fred’s warm lips against hers, but Tori knew he was enjoying it more than her. She didn’t feel anything special as he kissed her - no fireworks in her stomach, nothing.

Finally, Tori broke away from him.

She could see people around the circle staring at her. Good. She wanted them to know that she was fearless. That she, Tori Heron, could do anything.

Fred was staring at her. “Wow,” he said, slightly breathless. “That was one hell of a snog.”

Tori suddenly realised that next to Fred, James had gotten to his feet. “I have to go,” he said flatly.

Fred grinned at him. “Giving up already, Jamesy?” he asked, and Tori wondered what he meant by that.

James snorted. “All yours, Fredster” he said, pulling his shirt on.

He was still wet, and his shirt was white, so it went see-through.

Damn.

The game of truth or dare continued as Tori watched James walk back to the castle.

Her plan was working, but she felt oddly deflated. What had he meant when he said ‘all yours’? Did he mean Tori? That he didn’t want her as much as she'd assumed?

“What’s his deal?” Tori asked moodily to Aine, who happened to be sitting next to her.

Aine gave her a strange look. “What do you mean?” she asked flatly.

“Did you see his face after I kissed Fred? Is he, like, not used to kissing or something?”

“What’s it to you?”

Tori glared at her. She was liking this girl less and less. Probably because she seemed more intelligent and more charismatic than the twins or Rebecca. “I’m just curious, that’s all? He’s not gay, is he?”

Aine snorted. “No, definitely not. You heard Rose earlier, didn’t you? He’s always getting caught hooking up with random girls. But he has never had a proper girlfriend.”

“Why?”

“How would I know? You’d have to ask him. I think that’s why all the girls want him so much. Because he doesn’t seem to want anyone back.”

Hmm. Interesting.

“Do you want James Potter?” Tori asked, and the other girl raised her eyebrows.

“Obviously you don’t know me very well,” she said coldly. “I’m not one of the pathetic little fan girls that goes swanning after him. I barely even know James. And I’d be happy to keep it that way.”

Tori frowned, and stared straight ahead of her, while not really looking at anything.

The freaks little…speech had just confirmed to her why she wanted James Potter. He was attractive, popular, the son of Harry Potter and every girl wanted him. That meant that if she, Tori Heron, snatched him up, she’d be untouchable.

The most wanted girl in school.

She turned in the direction of the castle, and realised she could still see James’ retreating figure, heading towards what seemed to be the greenhouses.

Yuck. Tori hated plants.

She suddenly got to feet, and felt everyone staring at her.

“What are you doing?” Fred asked.

Tori simpered at him, and touched his nose. Then she bent down and whispered, “My secret,” in his ear. Fred looked confused, but didn’t say anything, as Tori headed back to the castle.

As she left, she could hear people whispering her name, wondering what she was up to.

She liked being the mystery girl. Everything was working in her favour.





“You left the party early.”

She’d run all the way to the greenhouses, trying to catch up with James. Now Tori leant against one of the glass walls, trying not to look puffed. She hoped her cheeks weren’t red.

James turned around to look at her. “You followed me,” he said. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.

Tori pushed herself off the wall and began to walk slowly towards him. “I was worried about you,” she said.

“I can take care of myself.”

“Are you jealous, James Potter?”

“Why would I be jealous?”

Tori smiled, and continued walking towards him. He wasn’t backing away from her, which was always a good sign. “Of Freddy and I. You thought I was going to kiss you, didn’t you?”

She was very close to him now, so close she could actually tilt her head and kiss him.

But she didn’t.

She’d keep him in suspense.

Just a little longer.

James shrugged. “I don’t care who you kiss. I don't even know you,” he said. Then he turned, and started to walk away.

Tori stood there for a few seconds, glaring at him. How dare he walk away from her! Then she realised what was happening, and grabbed his arm.

“I don’t like Fred,” she whispered.

James turned around. “Then why did you kiss him?”

Tori looked up at him, her eyes wide. She was beginning to feel very nervous, which was weird. She never felt nervous around guys. But looking up into James’s dark, almond shaped eyes, all she wanted him to do was kiss her. “Why do you think?”

He didn’t answer. Just looked at her.

Tori put her hand on his hip. James flinched slightly, but didn’t move away.

Taking charge, Tori slowly moved her hand up to his stomach, which was flat and hard.

She looked up at him again, with big eyes. “Do you want me to stop?” she whispered.

For a long moment, James didn’t speak, and Tori was suddenly worried he was going to reject her.

“No,” he whispered, and kissed her.

Tori went stiff with shock for a moment, but then a moment later they were making out. James’ tongue flicked her teeth, and Tori opened her mouth, letting it in.

His hand was on the back of her head, getting tangled in her long blonde hair, she ran her hands up and down his chest. James pushed her against the wall of the green house, and Tori slid her hands under the edges of his shirt. His skin was warm and hard, and she pressed herself to him, soaking up his energy.

She hesitated for a second.

“Do it,” James murmured, his lips moving against his mouth.

They took each other’s shirts off.

Tori could feel herself trembling, and hoped that James couldn’t feel it, too. She didn’t want him to think she was nervous. He’d probably done this with thousands of girls…

He now had a hand on her inner thigh, and Tori was getting shivers up her spine.

But then she made a decision.

“Do it,” she murmured, echoing what James had just said.

He suddenly broke away from her, and stared down at her with very dark eyes. “You sure?” he asked. His voice was husky and deep.

Tori put her arms around his neck, and pulled him back down to her, his lips meeting hers. “Yes,” she said, because the time seemed right.

Tori realised what she was doing was messed up. She’d never dreamed that the time she lost her virginity would be outside a school greenhouse.

She’d also never thought that she’d lose her virginity to a guy she’d known for less that a day.

But, when life gives you James Potter…

You grab him with both hands.




Authors Note: So...Tori's point of view? What do you think? Like her? Hate her? Love to hate her?

Whatever your opinion is, please review, because I really love to hear from you guys, even if it's just to say 'hi'.

Smiles:)

Courtney.
 
 


Chapter 4: Me
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Another perfect chapter image by phoenixn @TDA

 

In my dream I am standing on a tiny rock, in the middle of the Black Lake.

The icy cold water is spraying up against the rock, slapping against my bare feet. There's a strong breeze in the air, which is scraping against my numb cheek. The sky is dark, and I look around, hoping to see help, but there is no-one else around.

“Hello?” I call out uncertainly into the night. “Can anybody hear me?”

For a moment, there is no answer.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, Rebecca appears, clothed in black. She is standing right in front of me, on the water, without really being there at all.

I open my mouth to speak to her, but no sound comes out. Rebecca starts to laugh - a high-pitched, dangerous, cruel laugh that makes every hair on my body stand on end.

And then suddenly Rebecca vanishes, and in her place stands a tall, beautiful blonde girl, wearing a white dress that is flapping in the wind.

Tori.

She takes a step towards me. “You’re not me, Charlie Parker,” she says, and her voice comes out as a gurgling hiss. “You never will be.”

“I don’t want to be you!” I shout, finding my voice at last, but it is too late. Tori has disappeared, leaving only a lingering, maniacal laugh…

Wake up!” someone is saying in my ear.

I groan, and roll over.

Wake up!” they say again - or should I say spit? Because I can feel droplets of water dripping into my ear.

Gross.

I turn over again, open my eyes and get the shock of my life.

“HOLY ROTTEN TOMATO!” I scream, jolting wide awake and sitting up in bed, as I see Aine’s face peering down at me.

I rub my eyes frantically, and see Aine smirking at me. “Holy rotten tomato? I don’t think I’ve heard that one before.”

“You almost gave me heart failure,” I mutter, still rubbing at my eyes.

“Well, it’s time to get up, new girl,” Aine says cheerfully, and I realise she’s already dressed in her school uniform. The ducklings and the psychopath are nowhere to be seen.

Aine must have seen me looking around the room, because she grins. “Don’t worry, Rebecca’s already gone down to breakfast with Clementine and Lavender. She’s not that bad, you know.”

I give her a look, but she just chuckles. “Come on, lazy. We’ve got an assembly to get to.”

I frown at her as I clamber out of bed with surprising agility.

That’s a lie.

I’m about as agile as a hippopotamus.

In fact, I’m so agile that I literally fall out of bed and land on my arse.

So classy, Charlie.

“We have an assembly?” I ask, as Aine sniggers at me. Humph. And here I was, thinking she was nice.

“Headmistress McGonagall announced it last night at dinner. Of course,” says Aine, smiling at me cheekily. “You weren’t there, so you couldn’t know about it.”

“Right,” I say, grabbing my neatly folded uniform from my suitcase.

“Lucky you’ve got me, isn’t it?” Aine continues in a sing-song voice, perching on the end of her bed. “Now hurry up and get changed. I’ve already had one detention this year, I don’t really want another.”

I hurry into the bathroom, and quickly strip out of my cupcake pyjamas - don’t say a word - in favour of the dull uniform. I button up my blouse, try to tug the skirt down a bit lower (I’m very self-conscious of revealing too much skin) and fasten my robes.

I look at myself in the mirror and immediately wish I hadn’t. My hair is an absolute nightmare. I try, and fail to comb my fingers through it, but quickly give up and rejoin Aine in the dorm.

“Come on then, you,” she says, grabbing my arm. “Let’s see what old McGonagall has to say for herself.”

And so I enter the Great Hall for the first time.

I’ve read about it in Hogwarts: A History, of course. I remember combing through every page of that book when I was eleven, trying to memorise chapters, setting pop quizzes for myself…

Shut up. I was loner, okay? It’s not against the law to give yourself pop quizzes!

I remember reading that sometimes at night; the ceiling is bewitched to look like the night sky.

As Aine and I enter the Great Hall, I look up at the ceiling, but right now it just looks like the aforementioned - a ceiling.  The four house tables are heaving with breakfast foods - piles of buttered toast, vats of porridge, fresh fruit, bacon, sausages, eggs, juice and, for some reason, something that looks suspiciously like haggis.

My mouth is watering.

No, you idiot, not at the haggis. For the record, my mother forced me to eat that foul stuff once. I vomited all over her best china.

“Come and sit down,” says Aine, hooking her fingers through my arm.

She leads me to the table on the far left, which is already crowded with students, cramming food into their mouths. My eyes are immediately drawn to Rebecca, who is sitting sullenly by herself, at the end of the table, nearest the platform where the teachers are all sitting.

Aine smiles at me gently, and leads me away from psychotic bitch from hell.

Yikes. Did I really just say that? Bad Charlie. Now I sound like a dog…

Which is fitting, because a female dog is a bitch, and that’s exactly what I’m being.

Shut up brain.

“AINE!” Mickey shouts loudly, and about half the students in the Great Hall look up to see what the commotion is.

If I was Aine, I would be all blushing and embarrassed, but Aine just grins, and allows Mickey to sweep her up into a hug and smooch her in front of the entire population of Hogwarts.

“You look so hot today,” Mickey states loudly as he puts Aine down.

“You too, babe,” Aine says, equally as loudly, ignoring the looks she’s getting.

Wow. They are one eccentric couple.

Mickey smiles at me. “And there’s the new girl!” he says. “Come and meet my friends.”

I follow Mickey and Aine back to the table where Mickey was sitting. Aine squeezes in next to him, and makes room for me next to her.

“New girl, I would like to introduce you to Fred and James,” says Mickey, gesturing flamboyantly towards the two boys sitting directly opposite. One of them, Fred, grins and waves cheerily at me. James, who for some reason seems vaguely familiar, doesn’t even look up, just keeps staring moodily at his bacon.

Boys.

Who understands them?

Mickey and Aine start being all sickeningly cute - holding hands and whispering stuff in each other’s ears - so I start loading my plate with food, to avoid the awkwardness.

I fail. I still feel awkward. Or maybe that’s just me.

“So,” says Fred suddenly. I look up, and see that he is still grinning. “Where did you move here from?”

“What?” I say stupidly.

Argh! Why am I so embarrassing? I’d bang my head repetitively against the table, but then I’d probably look even stupider.

Fred shoves a ketchup-covered sausage into his mouth. The sauce and grease drips all down his chin, but he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

“Which school did you come from?” he asks. “You’re not foreign are you? Is that why you don’t seem to talk very much?”

Hmm…foreign. Now that would be a good way to avoid socialising too much.

I can pull off a pretty good Italian accent, actually. You just add ‘a’ onto the end of everything. For example, if you’re saying ‘good’, you just say ‘good-a’. Works a treat.

“No, I was home schooled,” I say.

Boring, boring old Charlie. 

I am a disappointment to the human race.

“Cool!” grins Fred, much to my surprise. “Last year there was this new girl in our year, who’d just transferred from Beauxbatons. Her name was…”

He trails off, and I realise he’s staring at the boy - James - who is sitting next to him, and who has suddenly started clenching his knife and fork very tightly.

I hope he hasn’t suddenly decided to go on a murderous rampage and stab the person sitting directly across him in the chest.vBecause that person would be me. And then I’d have a very large hole in my basooma’s.

“I know,” I say quickly. “Tori Heron. She slept in my dorm.”

Fred looks like he’s about to say something, but he is cut off by Headmistress McGonagall suddenly clinking her goblet with her spoon very loudly. The talking, laughter and general noise of the Great Hall dies down at once, and McGonagall gets to her feet.

“Good morning,” she says, in quick, precise tones. “I’m sure you are all wondering why I have called this assembly this morning. We are to discuss a student whom I’m sure many of you have heard of. As you know, Victoria Heron went missing at the end of last year.”

McGonagall continues talking, but I don’t even hear her.

Missing.

That’s what she said.

Tori Heron went missing at the end of last year. She didn’t drop out, didn’t change schools. She went missing.

God, I feel like such an idiot. Even more of one than usual, and that is saying something. No wonder Rebecca was acting all freaky, and spazzing out at me for touching Tori’s stuff. Tori was probably her best friend and now…now she’s gone. Could be anywhere.

I feel ashamed for the way I acted, for the rude thoughts I had about both Rebecca and Tori. I’m a horrible person.

I should be locked up.

Just not in Azkaban coz dementors scare me.

What? I don’t want my first kiss to be from a dementor, thank you very much.

I turn back to McGonagall, who is still speaking. “…would like to welcome Rebecca Kale, a close friend of Victoria’s to talk to you all.”

There is a round of applause, and I watch Rebecca walking up to the raised platform, and standing at the podium. She takes a deep breath, and stares around at us all.

“Hi,” she says, and I am surprised at how calm she sounds. “So…we all know Tori is missing, but that does not mean she is dead. I know Tori is out there somewhere, and it is so important that we don’t give up on her.” She stops talking for a moment, and takes another deep breath. “One moment Tori was here and the next…she wasn’t. I know a lot of you have probably given up hope but I haven’t.” She says this very fiercely, and my hands go unconsciously to my neck, where she tried to strangle me yesterday. "Thank you,” she says abruptly, before stepping away from the podium, and hurrying back to the seats.

All around me, I hear many people whispering to each other in sympathy.

Poor Rebecca, they’re saying, poor Tori.

I realise the only reason a place opened up for me here at Hogwarts, is because Tori went missing.

Why did McGonagall not warn me about this?

A simple, “Oh, by the way, Charlie, the girl whose spot you’re taking went missing last year, and could possibly be dead. Just though I’d let you know’ would have sufficed.

I’m a simple gal. I don’t ask for much.

Thanks, Headmistress.

Aine taps me lightly on the shoulder. She’s looking all sympathetic again. “Time to go to class,” she says. “What do you have first?”

I quickly pull my timetable out of the pocket I shoved it into. It’s already all crumpled and dog eared. I take such good care of my property! I should be given an award. I could hang it on my wall, over all those pictures of Tori. Except I can’t, because she’s missing, and that would be weird.

I shouldn’t be allowed to think.

“I have Care of Magical Creatures,” I say.

“Yay!” says Fred, in very feminine tones, grinning all over his face. “That’s what I have, too!”

He really is the happiest guy I’ve ever met. I like it.




“So what do you think of Hogwarts so far?” Fred asks me, as we head, arm in arm, down to the bottom of the Hogwarts grounds where the gamekeeper, Hagrid, teaches Care of Magical Creatures.

Oh, and by the way, I did not voluntarily link arms with Fred.  My motto is ‘Don’t touch people.’

Wow. That is a sad motto.

I shrug.

Fred looks at me. “That’s your answer? A shrug?”

“I don’t really like talking.”

Fred gasps melodramatically. “Don’t like talking!” he screams in horror. “What kind of sane person could possibly hate talking?”

“Maybe I’m not sane,” I suggest.

Obviously. My motto is ‘don’t touch people.’

“Well, you’re in luck, new girl,” grins Fred. “Because talking happens to be one of my favourite activities.”

Oh boy. Maybe I should mention to him that I don’t really like socialising. But he seems happy chattering away to himself, so what the heck?

We’ve reached the bottom of the Hogwarts grounds now, and join a small cluster of students standing at the edge of a small hut, right on the outskirts of a forest.

The Forbidden Forest. I read about it in Hogwarts: A History.

Don’t judge. It’s actually a really good book.

Anyway, apparently all sorts of dangerous creatures lurk inside it - werewolves and the like.

Suddenly, the largest man I’ve ever seen in my life comes stomping out of the little hut, carrying a large bucket in one hand. I ogle at him with wide eyes. He’s not going to…eat us, is he?

“Don’t worry,” Fred whispers in my ear, and I jump a mile. “Hagrid looks dangerous, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

As if to confirm this, Hagrid’s hairy face suddenly splits into a beam, and he waves cheerily at Fred.

“Hey Hagrid!” Fred calls out.

“How’s yer Uncle Charlie?” Hagrid asks. “Still workin’ with dragons?”

Fred nods. “Yeah. Dad told me he almost got his hand bitten off by a Hungarian Horntail the other day.”

Hagrid chuckles. Personally, I don’t see what’s so funny about almost getting your hand bitten off by a dragon.

“What are we doing today, Hagrid?” Fred asks, pointing at the bucket.

“Oh,” says Hagrid, looking at the bucket as though he’d forgotten about it. “I’ve gotta little treat for yeh all today, ‘cos it’s our firs’ lesson an’ all. Everyone follow me!”

I chew the inside of my cheek nervously, as we all follow Hagrid towards the Forbidden Forest.  We weren’t actually going in there, were we?

“I wonder what Hagrid’s got to show us,” muses Fred, and he suddenly grins at me. “Blimey, maybe he’s got a dragon!”

Is it just me, or does he sound waaay too excited at the prospect of having a dragon on school property? Has he forgotten all about old Uncle Charlie already?

To my relief, we veer away from the Forbidden Forest and end up in a small, shaded meadow around the back of Hagrid’s little house. And standing in the middle of the meadow are three of the weirdest looking things I have ever seen in my life.

And that, my friends, is including the baby photo I saw of myself, where mum decided to dress me in a carrot costume.

The…things…have the head of a giant eagle, the body of a horse and look like they want to eat me. Not a good combination.

“What the shit are those!” I say loudly, surprising myself.

Well done, Charlie. You talked. Unfortunately you managed to swear at the same time, but hey. It’s a start.

Hagrid looks at me, and frowns. “An’ yeh must be the new girl,” he says, nodding his head. “Welcome to the class!”

I duck my head, embarrassed. Everyone has turned round to stare at me. I don’t like being stared at. It makes me feel…exposed.

Have a mentioned I’m not a people-person?

“These, are Hippogriffs,” Hagrid says fondly.

Fondly? How can you possibly be fond of something with claws that sharp?

“Yeh may remember me showin’ yeh some Hippogriffs in yer third year. These ones are a lot bigger, an’ a lot harder to tame. As a matter o’ fact, experts are the on’y ones who are meant’a try it.”

I stare at him in horror. I consider myself a pretty outgoing person. Don’t look at me like that, I am outgoing…just not in the traditional sense. But anyway, if only experts are meant to tame these…these hippogriffs, then why the hell is Hagrid bringing them anywhere near us?

“Now!” says Hagrid, clapping his hands together. “If yeh all split into three groups, then yeh can practise on a sep’rite Hippogriff. Ready? Off yeh go!”

Fred suddenly grabs my hand. “Come on!” he says, his eyes bright with enthusiasm. “Let’s go bow to some hippogriffs.”

Bow? Bow? That does not sound good.

After Care of Magical Creatures is over, I look at my timetable and realise I have Divination.

Divination?

How in the name of Merlin’s most saggy grandpa undies did I get landed with that? I absolutely hate Divination - it was always my worst subject - a load of old tosh if you ask me.

Fred doesn’t take Divination, but he points me in the right direction.

Glad to be alone at last, I go huffing and puffing up waaay to many flights of stairs until I finally come to the Divination tower. An open trapdoor leads to the classroom, so I hesitantly climb up the ladder that leads to it, and find myself in what seems to be an old fashioned tea shop.

It is unlike any other classroom. Instead of hard chairs and desks, the room is crowded with squashy looking armchairs, beanbags and small round tables that each have a crystal ball on them. There is a roaring fire in the corner, which is crackling away, making the room very hot and sticky. I can’t see a teacher, but there are already several other students sitting around the tables, murmuring secretively to each other. None of them look up as I come in, so I sit alone at a little table in the corner.

I don’t mind.  I like my solitude. I’m like a sloth, in that respect.

Hang on a second…did I just call myself a sloth?

I think I have a serious mental problem.

Most people don’t go round insulting themselves.

“Greetings, children,” says a dreamy voice suddenly, and I look up to see a youngish woman standing in front of us, her hands clasped together under her chin.

I fight the urge not to laugh.

It’s hard.

This woman looks like she’s only in her early twenties, but she’s wearing the most ridiculous costume - ahem, clothing I have ever seen. Her long, bushy hair is piled into a knot on top of her head, which is held up with her wand, her clinking bangles go all the way up her arms and her swirling skirts are a very vivid shade of purple.

“For those who do not remember, my name is Professor Moon,” she says, staring up into the heavens. It really seems like she’s talking to herself, rather than anyone else.

“Today we will be continuing our study of the crystal ball,” she continues, closing her eyes slightly. “So if you would please get into pairs, take out your copies of The Inner Eye by Sybill Trelawney and turn to page 54.”

My heart sinks.

Get into pairs.” The very words I was dreading to hear. What idiot would want to pair up with me: the boring, bookish, replacement of Tori Heron?

I look around the classroom. The only people I recognise are Clementine and Lavender, but they of course are already paired up, and are both bent over their crystal ball, giggling excitedly. I’ve decided I can’t stand people who giggle. Even the word is stupid.

Giggle.

What kind if idiot came up with that?

“Can I join you?”

I look up to see Mickey and Fred’s friend hovering over me, looking sullen. What was his name again, I’ve forgotten?

Oh, right. James.

I didn’t even notice he was here, though that seems to be the way he likes it. I get the feeling he doesn’t like people noticing him all that much.

“Of course,” I say.

Go Charlie! I actually sound like a normal person!

James frowns at me. “Sorry?”

I frown right back at him. “What?”

“You just said something.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes you did.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“You just said ‘I actually sound like a normal person.’”

I feel my cheeks going red. Did I seriously just say that aloud?

God, I’m an idiot.

“It must have been your imagination,” I say. “I rarely speak.”

To my surprise, James grins at me. I frown at him. That grin has reminded me of something…where have I seen this boy before? Apart from at breakfast, I mean.

Professor Moon suddenly claps her hands together impatiently. “Come on now, hurry up everyone!” she says. “Books out please!”

James begins rummaging in his bag, and draws out a very battered copy of the book. I suddenly realise I haven’t brought mine. I didn’t bother to unpack any of my schoolbooks. They’re still sitting in my suitcase in the dorm.

“Do you mind if I share your book?” I ask. “I forgot mine.”

James shrugs, and pushes it over to me. “You ever see anything in the crystal ball?” he asks.

I shake my head. “No. I hate Divination.”

James chuckles, and I look at him in surprise.

“Sorry,” he says. “Its just I hate it too.”

“Then why did you take it?”

He shrugs. “I dunno. I didn’t really care about what subjects I got this year.”

Great attitude, my friend. Not that he’s my friend or anything, coz he isn’t.

I start rifling through James’ book, trying to find the right page. He’s already doodled all over the edges of the paper.

“You’re the new girl, aren’t you?” says James suddenly. I look up at him, and see a very strange expression on his face. “You were at breakfast.”

“Wow, I’m impressed,” I say. “You actually remember me!”

To be honest, I’m more impressed with myself that I am with him. I’m actually contributing to this conversation! Go me!

“Why wouldn’t I remember you?” James asks. “You have a face that’s hard to forget.”

And there I go. Blushing again.

Why am I blushing? It’s not like James complimented me or anything. I mean, yes, generally when someone tells you that you have a face that’s hard to forget, it’s meant as a compliment, but James might not be familiar with the rule. He might have meant that I’m so ugly he couldn’t possibly forget me. Or that the gross pimple on my nose is so obvious, he couldn’t get it out of his mind.

“Not many people seem to remember my name,” I say instead.

James smiles lightly. “That’s because you’re…you’re…” he trails off uncertainly, and his dark, almond shaped eyes, which are a nice hazely colour go oddly blank.

I’m what?

James seems to have sort of zoned out, so I take the moment to get a good look at him. I realise he is very good looking. I’m glad I didn’t realise this before. If I had, I’d have been too embarrassed to talk to him.

James suddenly clears his throat loudly. “I suppose we’d better get on with all this rubbish, then,” he says.

I nod. “You’re probably right.”

I stare into the crystal ball, straining my eyes to see…something.

Nope. All I see is grey fog.

“See anything?” James murmurs.

“Nope,” I sigh. “What about you? Any predictions?”

James suddenly puts on a girlish, mystical sort of voice, “I predict that it is going to be foggy tonight, resulting in me being forced to cancel Quidditch tryouts tomorrow,” he says, waving his fingers like he’s about to perform a magic trick.

I let out a snort of laughter. “See all that in the crystal ball, do you?”

James grins at me. “Don’t be jealous. It’s just one of my many natural talents. I was born good.”

He starts to laugh, and I smile at him, but inside I am thinking hard.

This boy is one big mystery. One minute he is all quiet and sullen, the next friendly, then he is distant and now…now he is cracking lame jokes and laughing his head off.

Boys.

“Mr Potter!” says Professor Moon suddenly, and I look around, expecting to see Albus. But then I remember he’s in the year below.

Then I see Professor Moon coming towards James and I, and realise what the mistake was.

“My last name is Parker, actually Professor, not Potter,” I correct her with a smile.

Both Professor Moon and James look at me funny.

“Actually, Miss Parker, I was talking to Mr Potter here,” says Professor Moon, gesturing at James.

“Can I help you, Professor?” James asks, smiling innocently.

James’ last name is Potter? Like Albus Potter? So…he’s the famous Harry Potter’s other son? Weird, I always got the impression he was older, for some reason. I had no idea he was still at school!

Woah. I’ve only been at school for two days, and I’ve already talked to both the Potter boys.

I’m on a role!

Professor Moon moves away, and James raises an eyebrow at me.

“You’re Harry Potter’s son,” I state.

“Really? Am I? I never knew! Thanks for enlightening me!”

I roll my eyes. “You know what I mean.”

James sighs. “Sorry. It’s just…sometimes I hate being associated with the name ‘Potter’. I mean, my dad’s great and all, but I feel like I’ll always be in his shadow. The moment I say my name, people automatically want to be my friend, you know?”

I nod quickly, feeling embarrassed. “I understand. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.”

He shakes his head. “No, it’s okay. You’re new around here; it’s not your fault.”

There’s a short silence between us, and I chew my lip nervously, thinking of something to say.

Hang on…why am I thinking of something to say?

I hate talking!

This boy is having a bad effect on me!

“Albus is your brother, right?” I find myself saying. Merlin, is that really the best I could come up with? “Albus Potter?”

Strangely enough, James has suddenly gone all stiff and rigid. His jaw has tightened, his back is stiff and his hands are clenched tightly together on the table top. “Have you met him?” he asks stiltedly.

I whistle.

No, obviously I don’t really whistle, you numbskull! I was meaning figuratively.

Anyways…

Those brothers must have some serious family issues.

“I talked to him at the party down be the lake last night.”

Now I come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing James there. I wonder what he was doing…

“Listen to me very carefully,” says James, leaning in towards me, and I am surprised at the seriousness of his tone. “You stay away from Albus, do you hear me? Don’t let him put any…any ideas into your head. He’s bad news. Do you understand?”

I nod. “I understand.”

Pfft. I don’t understand at all, but this situation is getting a little too intense for my liking. I wonder why James thinks Albus is bad news. When I talked to him last night, he seemed perfectly nice.

James leans back from the table, looking very relieved. “Good,” he says. “That’s good.”

“Good,” I say.

“Good,” he says.

Umm…

I don’t really know where to go from here to be honest.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m not the best conversationalist.




I’m walking back down the stairs (sigh - but at least I’ll be able to eat heaps of chocolate and not get fat while here) towards the Great Hall for lunch, when the ducklings suddenly come bounding up to me.

“Er…” I say, in typical Charlie Parker fashion, as they link arms with me and continue to walk.

“We saw you talking to James Potter in Divination,” says duckling one in a quiet, mysterious sort of voice.

“Yes, we saw you talking to James Potter in Divination,” duckling two repeats.

There was really no need for that little repeat thing. I know I was talking to James in Divination. I don’t need to be told twice.

“I don’t think you should talk to James Potter,” says duckling one - okay, I really need to stop calling them that - seriously.

“No you shouldn’t,” says duckl…twin two. “He’s off limits.”

Umm…excuse me? I’m at perfect liberty to talk to whoever I like, thank you very much! Or is talking against the law now?

If it was, it probably wouldn’t be too big of a deal.

I’d be a perfectly satisfied mute.

“He’s totally off limits,” agrees twin one.

Okay, I think I’ve got this. I think twin one is Clementine, and twin two is Lavender. But they’re pretty much the same person, so it doesn’t really seem to matter.

“Why is he off limits?” I ask, because they probably won’t stop talking till I say something.

The twins look at each other.

“Because he belongs to her,” says Clementine with big eyes, as though I should understand what the hell she’s talking about.

“Belongs to who?” I ask, blinking stupidly.

Tori,” the twins chorus, as though it should have been obvious.

“Tori and James are totally in love,” Clementine sighs.

Totally,” agrees Lavender.

For some reason, I feel my heart sinking as everything clicks into place. Of course Tori and James were an item - how did I not see it before? And that’s where I recognised James from - the photos on Tori’s - sorry, my wall. How could I have been so stupid?

No wonder he was acting so…weird.

He’s probably still grieving Tori, who’s as good as dead.

“Tori and James are the perfect couple,” Clementine continues, and I really wish she’d just stop. “They look so cute together.”

“Which means you can’t have him,” says Lavender, looking at me. “He’s in love with Tori. Not you. You’re not Tori.”

Jeez, thanks for the reminder.

“I don’t want James,” I say, feeling irritated, though part of me wonders whether what I’m saying is true. Why did I feel so disappointed when I realised James was - is Tori’s boyfriend? “We were just talking.”

Clementine and Lavender look at each other again.

Okay, I’m sorry, but they really need to stop doing that. It’s making me feel nervous.

“You shouldn’t talk to him anymore,” Clementine says sternly. “You should stay away from him. You probably remind him of Tori. You’re the new girl, just like she was. He doesn’t need reminding of that.”

“Look,” I say, feeling very angry now. “I don’t fancy James…”

“Good,” says Clementine. “We’re only looking out for you. We just don’t want you to get hurt.”

Do they seriously expect me to believe that?

“Yes, we don’t want you to get hurt,” echoes Lavender. “And when Tori comes back…”

If Tori comes back,” Clementine corrects, looking down at her feet.

“Yes, if Tori comes back then she and James will be together again. Do you understand?”

Both girls are looking at me so earnestly, it would be hard not to say anything else. They both seem a bit stupid, but I think they have their hearts in the right place.

I nod. “Yes,” I say. “I understand.”




Authors Note: So...Charlies point of view again! And she's finally met James! And found out that Tori's missing...

On that note, what do you think will happen when Charlie and Rebecca 'meet again?' Why did James warn Charlie to stay away from Albus?

The next chapter is from Tori's point of view again, so some more of your questions about her might be answered...

Please keep reading and reviewing!

Smiles

Courtney:)
 


Chapter 5: Tori
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Image by phoenixn @TDA

 

One year ago

“Hey! It’s the new girl! Tori! TORI! Over here!”

The source of the noise was immediately evident. Fred was standing in the crowd of students waiting in front of the transfiguration class. James, and a couple of other boys were with him.

Tori, on seeing James, felt her heart immediately begin to pound.

The other sixth years waiting for the transfiguration teacher to arrive all turned to stare at her, and Tori felt something she had never felt before: exposed.

Could they tell what she and James had done last night? Did they know?

Tori tossed her head, smiled at Fred and walked confidently over to him, pushing her way through the crowd.

She would not let anyone, most especially James, realise how awkward she felt. She was Tori Heron, queen bee, the girl the boys wanted to be with and the girls all wanted to be.

Fred pulled Tori into a hug. “Where did you disappear off to last night, eh?” he asked, still grinning. “The party was no fun without you!”

Tori fluttered her eyelashes at him. “My secret,” she said.

While still smiling at Fred, she turned to look at James. To her annoyance, he was talking to the burly guy next to him, completely ignoring Tori. Tori felt immediately pissed off. How dare he ignore her!

After what they’d done last night.

Nobody, not ever, ignored Tori Heron.

She put her arm around Fred, and nudged her hip against his. Then she smiled in James' direction. “I’m afraid I can’t remember your names,” she said, putting on a sweet, innocent voice.

The voice that got her whatever she wanted.

“It was…Jim, wasn’t it?” she asked, looking at James.

He just grinned at her. “Yep, that’s it,” he said, and Fred chuckled.

Tori felt a flare of rage. Did he think this was some kind of joke? That she was just some random hook up? She was not a pathetic fan girl. She always got what she wanted, and if she wanted James Potter, she would get him.

Tori turned her attention to the boy James had just been talking to you. “You were at the party last night, weren’t you,” she stated, though in all honesty, she couldn’t remember the boy at all. He was reasonably good looking, and very muscular, but nowhere near as fit as James or Fred.

He was a bit dorky looking, too.

“Sure was,” said the boy. He looked at Tori, and then let out a loud laugh, that made everyone in the transfiguration corridor look around. “You have no idea who I am, do you?” he said.

Tori flicked her perfect hair over her shoulders.  She’d done it especially nicely today, so that James would notice. Not that it mattered now.

“Of course I remember you!” she said.

“What’s my name then?”

Tori froze. Shit. He’d got her there. She decided she didn’t like this boy very much. Not if he was going to make a fool out of her.

The boy smiled warmly. “It’s okay, I’m only teasing. I’m Mickey.”

Tori was saved replying, as the door to the transfiguration class swung open at that moment, revealing a tall, skinny man with blonde hair and an upturned nose. He looked around at them all with distaste. “Well, what are you all waiting for?” he asked. “Hurry up and get to your seats.”

The sixth years all entered the transfiguration classroom. The desks were in groups of twos.

Tori grabbed Fred’s arm. “Sit with me,” she said.

Fred grinned at her. “You got it, new girl.”

Fred and Tori sat at the back of the class - James and Mickey were at the desk to the left of them. Tori glance over to see if James was looking at her and Fred, but he was laughing about something Mickey had just said. Her resentment of Mickey grew. How dare he steal James’ attention from her!

“Attention at the front please, class,” said the Transfiguration teacher. He had an arrogant, sneering sort of voice. It sounded like he thought he was better than anyone else.

Tori hated people like that.

“What’s the teacher’s name?” Tori whispered to Fred.

“Professor Smith. Head of Hufflepuff. Everybody hates him, he’s a right git.”

Tori frowned. “I thought Hufflepuffs were meant to be a load of duffers.”

Fred snorted. “So they say. I reckon this guy got sorted into the wrong house.”

“MR WEASLEY!” said Professor Smith loudly, and Fred smiled at Smith politely.

“Can I help you sir?” he asked.

Smith frowned irritably. “Can you explain to the class what we will be doing today, Mr Weasley?”

Fred looked bewildered. “Er…”

Tori saw him glance over at James who seemed to be mouthing ‘turning rats into keys.’

Fred frowned. “Er…”

Smith clapped his hands together impatiently. “Hurry up, Mr Weasley!” he said. “We don’t have all day!”

Fred looked urgently at James again, who was trying to make his mouthed words clearer. “Er…churning vats of cheese?” he said uncertainly, and Tori saw James smack his forehead with his hand, and Mickey sniggering.

Smith glared at him. “No, Mr Weasley. We will not be churning vats of cheese today. We will be turning rats into keys, which you would have known, had you not been yapping to Miss Heron. Five points from Gryffindor.”

James groaned. “Oh, come on, sir!” he said. “You have to give him points for effort! This is Fred we’re talking about - he’s not the brightest boy.”

Both Fred and Smith gave him a look.

“Another five points from Gryffindor,” said Smith, and the Gryffindor’s around the room groaned. “For your cheek, Mr Potter. And don’t think I didn’t see you mouthing the answer to Mr Weasley.”

“He has a serious grudge against me,” Fred muttered in Tori’s ear. “My dad and my uncle gave him a bit of a hard time when they were at school together.”

As he was talking to her, Tori felt her eyes moving towards James. She was delighted to see he was looking at her and Fred with narrowed eyes. She suddenly laughed loudly, and Fred moved away from her, looking startled. She put a hand on his shoulder. “Oh Freddy, you’re so funny!” she trilled, and Fred gave her a dopey sort of grin.

Tori looked back over at James to see that he was talking fiercely to Mickey, and determinedly not looking over at her.nPerfect. Her plan was falling into place.

As the class waited for Professor Smith to come around handing the rats out, Tori looped a finger through Fred’s belt, and leant in close to him, whispering meaningless things in his ear, flirting pointlessly. Fred looped his hand around her waist, and for a moment, Tori felt a bit bad for leading him on. But then she remembered who she was.  Fred was nothing to her. Just a tool to be used, to get what she wanted.

While Fred drew loops and circles on her back, Tori glanced around the rest of the class. She immediately saw Boring Becky and Aine, sitting together up the front. Boring Becky had her rat, and was already practising whatever spell they were meant to be doing. Yawn. She was so dull. Something would have to be done about that.

Aine, meanwhile, had managed to produce a little woollen hat, and had put it on the rats head.

Eww. She was so weird.

Aine the freak suddenly turned round, and looked straight at James and Mickey’s table. They both looked at her, and she blushed, turning back to her hatted-rat.

Tori glared at her. What did she think she was playing at, blushing when her man looked at her? Hadn’t she told her, just last night that she wasn’t into James?

Unless…

Tori looked again at James’ table, but this time she wasn’t looking at James. Mickey was staring at the back of Aine’s head, a dreamy look in his eyes. Tori sniggered. Mickey and Aine. They’d make a good couple, seeing as she disliked both of them. If she set them up…they’d both be in the palm of her hand. Hers to play with.

“…and here’s your rat, Mr Weasley,” Smith drawled, dumping the disgusting vermin on their desk.

“Aw,” grinned Fred, scratching the rat between it’s ears. “He’s cute.”

Tori was repulsed. Had Professor Smith not heard about all the diseases rats carried? Back at Beauxbatons, the teachers would have never dreamed of giving them rats to work with!

Tori backed away from the desk. “I am not switching any rats,” she said forcefully, glaring up at Professor Smith.

He looked down on her in boredom.  Tori hated it when people looked down on her. She wasn’t that short.

“Actually, you will be switching this rat, Miss Heron, as this is my class, and you do what I say.”

He dumped a rat on the table right in front of Tori, who let out a scream, climbed off her chair, and stood as far away from the disgusting rodent as possible. She felt like she was about to be sick. The creature’s horrible little whiskers were twitching and its eyes were all black and beady. Tori didn’t much like animals of any kind, and cats gave her hay fever.

“Take that disgusting thing away from me!” she said, in demanding tones, and heard several members of the class gasp.

Did Professor Smith not remember who her father was? He had been one of the most important members of the wizarding society before the…before the accident.

Smith narrowed his eyes at her. “How dare you talk to me like that!” he said. “Ten points from Gryffindor!”

Tori tossed her hair, and stared the horrible Professor right in the eye. She would not lose this fight. “Do you really think I care about some stupid house points?” she smirked. “I honestly don’t give a shit whether or not Gryffindor wins the house cup. What I do want, is for you to remove that disgusting piece of vermin from my table, and I want you to do it now.”

There was a horrified silence as everyone stared at Tori in shock. She bet that no-one had ever stood up to a Hogwarts Professor before. But she was no coward. She was here to make an impression, and nothing else. And if that impression was a bad one, so be it.

Fred whistled suddenly, and gave her the thumbs up.

“Oh, shut up Weasley, you annoying turd!” shouted Smith, and James and Mickey broke into silent fits of laughter to the left of them.

Tori continued to glare at Smith, with her arms crossed stubbornly. He took a step towards her, but Tori didn’t flinch. She would be bold. She was in Gryffindor, after all.

“You may be new around here, Miss Parker,” he said in a quiet voice. “But that does not excuse this disgusting behaviour! Detention! This evening. Six o’clock, in the library. Madam Pince needs someone to stack the books some buffoon forgot to put away.”

Tori groaned inwardly. She hated libraries. They smelt, and were always so quiet that they made her feel nervous.

Her day was turning out to be quite horrible.




Madam Pince turned out to be a very old librarian who was thin and irritable-looking with a shrivelled face and sunken cheeks. Tori thought she looked like an underfed vulture. 


When she arrived at the library at six o’clock, the old librarian directed her to a very large stack of old, dusty books, and instructed her (in short, waspish tones) to put the books back on the shelves, in alphabetical order, where they belonged. Then she bustled away, only to snap at a terrified looking first year who had dog-eared the pages of a library book. (“What do you think you’re doing? Befouling that poor book!”)

Tori rolled her eyes, and started on the large pile of library books. It was boring, tedious work, and the books were all dusty and dirty. In fact, they were so old and gross, that Tori had to keep getting her hand sanitizer out of her handbag, so that she wouldn’t catch a deadly disease. Who knew how many people had touched these books? They looked like they originated from the middle ages!

As she shoved the books carelessly into the right place, Tori thought about how ridiculous it was that she’d been forced to do this.

She really should go and complain to McGonagall…at her old school, her teachers never dared punish her - until they expelled her, that is, which was completely unnecessary.

Tori had been so deep in her own thoughts that she didn’t even notice the boy standing right in her path. She walked straight into him, and the boy, who was carrying a large pile of books fell to the ground, the books toppling everywhere.

Tori looked down at him in surprise, and hid a smirk.

The unknown boy looked quite idiotic, crawling about on the ground, collecting up all his books, stammering out apologies, even though he was the one on the ground, and Tori was the one who had walked right into him.

Not like she was going to mention that, though.

The boy finally stood up. He was beet red, had light brown hair and was wearing glasses. In other words, a complete nerd.

“Are you alright?” Tori asked, raising an eyebrow at him. She didn’t really care if the boy was alright or not, but there was no harm it making it seem like she was actually concerned for his well-being.

“Fine,” the boy said, still stammering a bit, and adjusting his glasses. “Sorry. I’m super clumsy. I was just putting my books back and…and SLAM! There you were!”

Tori looked at him without interest. “You really should watch where you’re going,” she said. “Next time, you might hurt someone.”

The boy blushed again, and Tori rolled her eyes.

What a weirdo.

“You know you don’t really seem the library type,” the boy continued, and Tori wished he’d go away. He was right in  the way of the spot she needed to put the next book. She was almost done, and she’d really rather be with the other girls in her dormitory than in the smelly library.

“There’s a library type?” Tori asked, not quite sure why she was even responding to the boy at all.

The boy nodded. “Usually the girls who come here are really…you know, ugly ones. With pimples or big noses or glasses or greasy hair. You’re not ugly at all, in fact you’re really quite…”

He trailed off uncertainly when he saw the smirk on Tori’s face. “Not ugly at all, eh?” she said. “I’ll take that as a compliment. And you’re right. I’m not the library type. I’m doing a detention.”

“Oh,” said the boy. “That makes more sense.”

“Now move,” Tori said irritably. “I don’t want old Madam Pince to come over here and tell me off. She gives me the creeps.”

The boy chuckled. “I don’t know how she’s even still alive!” he said. “She was here when my dad went to school.”

Tori rolled her eyes again. “It was nice meeting you,” she said, making it as obvious as possible without being outright rude that she wanted this boy to leave.

He nodded and mumbled ‘you too’, then hurried over to the nearest table, where he sat down and opened a book.

Tori shook her head, as she shoved the very heavy book she was holding into the shelf. She didn’t understand how people could just come and sit in the library, all alone and read. How boring!

She turned to get the next few books off the pile, which was luckily dwindling fast and saw James coming through the library doors.

She suddenly froze, her heart beating awfully fast.

Why did James make her so nervous? She’d never been nervous around guys before. And what was he doing in the library? He really didn’t seem the library type, either.

He didn’t notice her standing there, so she watched him sitting down at the table next to the other boy, his back turned, and getting some bent parchment, a quill and ink out of his bag.

Then suddenly, he turned and saw Tori staring at him.

She felt herself flushing, which was something she didn’t normally do, so she quickly turned and pretended to be busy doing something, while hoping that James would come over and talk to her. If he cared about her at all, if he really liked her, he would come over.

He didn’t.

Tori was really beginning to feel quite mad with him.

What was his problem? Couldn’t he see how fantastic she was? How beautiful and how charming? Why wouldn’t he want to be with her - every other boy she had ever talked with did, so why not him?

Or maybe he was playing hard to get…

Making up her mind, Tori dumped the books down on one of the narrow benches that ran along the bottom of the shelves, quickly applied some lip gloss and strode over to where the boy she’d talked to earlier was sitting. He looked up in surprise when he saw her, and looked even more bewildered when she sat down next to him.

“Er…” he said uncertainly. “Hi?”

Tori smiled at him. “It just occurred to me how rude I was before,” she said. “I didn’t even tell you my name!”

The boy just stared at her.

She laughed loudly. “It’s Tori,” she said, holding out her hand. “Tori Heron. I’m the new girl, you might have heard of me.”

The boy shook her hand, and Tori felt a strange shock of energy go up her arm. It was an oddly…nice feeling, but she shivered and let go quickly. Luckily, the boy didn’t seem to notice.

“I’m Albus,” he said, which Tori thought was a pretty damn stupid name. Who, in their right mind would call their kid Albus? “Albus Potter.”

Ah.

He was Harry Potter’s kid.

Hang on. If he was Harry Potter’s kid, then that meant…that meant he was James’ brother!

Perfect!

What better way to make James jealous, than to flirt with his brother?

“The famous Albus Potter,” Tori purred, leaning in towards him slightly. Albus looked slightly taken aback. “What year are you in, Albus?”

He was looking very awkward now. “Erm…fifth,” he said.

“I’m in sixth,” Tori said, batting her eyelashes.

“Great,” said Albus, and his voice cracked a bit.

Tori didn’t want to completely scare the boy, so she leaned back, and grabbed the book he’d been reading. “Quidditch through the ages,” she said, reading the front cover. She looked at Albus with one eyebrow raised, a skill she was quite proud of. “Do you play Quidditch?”

She couldn’t imagine it personally. He seemed to shy and timid.

Albus grinned and nodded slightly. “Yeah,” he said. “I’m Seeker. My brother James is the captain.”

Tori wondered whether he realised his brother was sitting right behind him.

“Do you play?” Albus asked, looking at Tori with interest.

She shook her head. “No. I hate sport.”

Albus laughed, surprising Tori. He had a really nice laugh. It made him sound friendly and…and someone you wanted to be with. Someone you wanted to make laugh. “No, I have to admit, you don’t look like a very sporty person.”

Tori realised she was smiling. “No? What type of person do I look like then?” she asked.

Albus looked at her with his head cocked slightly to the side. “Hmm,” he said. “Do you like dragons?”

Tori scrunched up her nose. “Ew. Gross.”

“I take that as a no. What about…singing?”

Tori let out a snort of laughter - real laughter, not the horrible fake laugh she’d been using recently. “Me? A singer? Clearly you’ve never heard me sing before.”

“Clearly I haven’t. Maybe you should do a demonstration right now.”

“That’s probably not the best idea. I might give old Pincers a heart attack.”

“Old pincers?”

“Madam Pince. Her hands are so claw-like I wouldn’t be surprised if she was really a hippogriff in disguise.”

And suddenly, both Tori and Albus were laughing together, and for some reason, Tori couldn’t stop. She realised she liked Albus - as a friend, not anything else. James was her ‘anything else’.

Speaking of James…

Tori looked around and realised James had disappeared. Her grin faded, and she stood up.

Albus looked up at her. “What’s wrong?” he asked in concern, and adjusting his glasses again. “Are you okay?”

Tori nodded, and forced herself to smile at him. “Fine,” she said. “I’m fine. I just…uh, I have to go. Bye, Albus.”

“See ya, Tori.”

Tori hurried away from him, feeling oddly sad at leaving him behind. Everyone said James was the funny one, but really, Albus had the nicer sense of humour. It seemed like James could be a bit of a jerk at times. But he was still the most popular boy at Hogwarts, and that was all that mattered.

“MISS HERON!” Madam Pince shouted as Tori hurried out of the library. “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING? YOU STILL HAVE A DETENTION TO FINISH!”




Tori hurried along the deserted third floor corridor. It was almost eight o’clock, so most students were already in their common rooms.

What a boring school this was. Back at Beaxbatons, there were parties almost every night. Students over the age of fourteen weren’t usually in bed till midnight. But here, everyone seemed so focused on their schooling.  Schools were made for socialising, for making friends. What was wrong with these people?

James was nowhere in sight.

Tori tried not to look panicked.

Why had he left? Had he noticed she and Albus laughing, or had he just finished whatever he was there to do? He hadn’t been at the library that long, so Tori guessed the former.

She raced up a sloping staircase towards the seventh floor, guessing that James had headed back to the Common Room. Where else would he have gone? She was already hurrying along the fifth floor when she saw him up ahead, striding along purposefully and staring straight ahead of him, his bag swinging at his hips.

Tori took a deep breath, and slowed her pace to a walk.

There was no-one else around.

“James!” she called out.

James stopped walking. For a moment he just stood there, still looking straight ahead, and Tori was worried he was going to ignore her. But then he turned around and looked at her with a slightly annoyed expression on his face. Good. He was pissed off at her.  That meant he was jealous.

Tori began to walk closer to him.

“What do you want?” he asked, sounding a little tired and running a hand through his already messy hair.

Tori smiled silkily. “What do you think I want?”

She was standing very close to him now, and stroked his cheek gently with her finger. He pushed her away.

He pushed her away.

“What the fuck are you doing Tori?” he whispered.

Tori looked at him with wide eyes. “What do you mean?” she asked, a little too innocently.

James laughed humourlessly. “Don’t think I didn’t see you in the library, Tor,” he said.

Tor. He had a nickname for her. Cute.

“You were fucking FLIRTING WITH MY BROTHER!”

Okay, not so cute anymore.

Tori pouted. “I wasn’t flirting,” she said serenely. “We were just talking. And I didn’t know he was your brother, James.”

“Bullshit,” said James calmly, though Tori could see doubt in his eyes. She took another step towards him, and rose up onto the tips of her feet, so that her lips were by his ear. “I promise,” she whispered, running her hand down his chest. She heard him groan slightly, and smiled to herself.

She was in control.

She took him by the hand, and he followed willingly. She pushed open the door of a small storage room, and led him inside. She put her handbag down on the bench, and pulled her wand out of her pocket. She pointed it at the door. “Colloportus!” she said quietly, and the door instantly locked itself.

“What are you doing?” James murmured, watching her with dark eyes.

Determination filled her body. He had to want her. She couldn’t just be one of his pathetic fan girls, throwing herself at him. And he had to do something to show her that he needed her.

She pulled herself onto the bench and sat there smiling at him, her legs dangling. She smiled at him sexily, daring him to come closer.

“Tori, I don’t even know you,” James said quietly, pulling himself up onto the bench too, so that he was sitting next to her.

“Maybe we should get to know each other then.”

James snorted. “Come here.”

“Why?”

“You know why.”

Still smiling, Tori put her arms around his neck. Then she gently lowered herself onto his lap. Her lips parted slightly, and she let him kiss her. His kiss was restrained at first, like he was holding himself back, but then Tori hooked her hands to his hot skin and pressed her lips firmly on his mouth and the kiss became more urgent.

Her heart beating ten times faster than it normally would have done was not a sign of romance.

It was a sign of victory.

Tori knew she’d done it. She knew she’d won him over.

James pressed her against the bench top and began to unbutton her blouse.

Then they did it again.

By the time they left the storeroom, they were both hot and flushed, and Tori couldn’t stop smiling. She had won.

She was queen.




It was late when Tori got back to the dormitory. As she had expected, the other four girls were already there, in their pyjamas, ready for bed.

Pathetic.

The twins were sitting on the same bed, cross legged, painting each others nails. Aine appeared to be writing a letter. Boring Becky was reading a book.

“I have never seen anything so sad in my life, Tori announced as she entered the room, dumping her very expensive handbag on the bed. She was still feeling a bit flustered from her…encounter with James, but she wasn’t going to let anyone know that.

“Where were you?” Rebecca asked, without looking up from her book. 

Tori scowled, stalked over and snatched it from her hands. She, Tori Heron, deserved more attention than that!

“Hey!” said Rebecca in protest.

“Don’t you want to know what I was doing, Becky?”

She leaned closer to the girl secretively.

“We want to know, too!” perked Clementine from the next bed, and Tori fought the urge to snap at her.

“Yes, we want to know!” Lavender echoed.

Tori laughed, and gestured for them to come closer. They squealed excitedly at each other, and crowded around her.

“You can all know,” said Tori, shooting a glare at Aine, who was still sitting on her bed, looking at them with something close to a smirk on her face.

Tori did not like her at all.

“I was with James Potter.”

The twins both gasped. Boring Becky frowned. “What were you doing with James?” she asked.

“Oh, don’t be dim, Becky,” said Tori, giving the girls a knowing look.

Lavender’s eyes widened. “Were you…you know?” she asked.

Tori gave a very fake giggle. “Of course not!” she said. “I don’t just go around doing…you know with boys!”

“Oh, really?” said Aine from across the room. “I wouldn’t have picked you out as a prude, Victoria.”

Tori wanted to smack her, but she restrained herself. Instead she turned around and smiled sweetly. “Eavesdropping now, are we Aine?” she said in a snide tone. “That’s a bit rude, don’t you think?”

Aine rolled her eyes, and went back to whatever the hell she was writing.

“What were you doing with James if you weren’t doing…that, Tori?” Lavender asked.

She really was the most dim witted person Tori had ever met. Of course, she had been doing ‘that’ with James, but the girls weren’t to know that. She couldn’t be some random hook up. She had to be special.

Tori smiled secretively. “James asked me out,” she said. “He asked me to be his girlfriend.”

The twins gasped very loudly and started to giggle.

“But…he never goes out with anybody,” Boring Becky said, looking confused.

She’d said exactly the right thing.

Tori tossed her head. “I know. I guess I must be…different. Special.”

“That is so romantic!” breathed Clementine.

“Totally romantic,” Lavender agreed.

Tori gave another girlish giggle. “I know!” she said. “He loves me so much - he even told me so. But,” and now she looked around at the girls very sternly. “You can’t tell anyone yet, okay?”

Lavender’s eyes widened. “Why not?”

“James wants to keep it a secret for now,” Tori said seriously. “He made me promise not to tell anyone. But I just couldn’t keep it from my best friends!”

The twins began to giggle again. God, they were irritating.

Tori clapped her hands together. “This is a memory we all have to remember together,” she said, climbing off Rebecca’s bed, and going back to her own. She felt everyone watching her as rummaged through one of her expensive designer suitcases, and brought out a bright pink digital camera. It was of muggle make, but if the photos were dipped in a special magical solution, then they’d move, just like the creepy looking paintings all over the castle’s walls.

Tori tossed the camera to Aine, who caught it, then looked at Tori with a look of disgruntled bewilderment. “What’s this?” she asked.

“It’s a camera, babe,” said Tori. “Don’t tell me you’ve never seen one before.”

Aine rolled her eyes. “I know what it is. Why have you given it to me?”

Tori looked at Boring Becky and the twins, and clicked her fingers. “Come here you girls,” she said, and they scampered towards her like over eager puppies.

“What are we doing?” Boring Becky asked, sounding a bit nervous.

Tori put one arm around Rebecca and the other around Clementine, who was standing next to Lavender. “Smile ladies,” she said. “Aine’s going to capture this memory of us all.”

“Oh, I am, am I?” said Aine.

Tori looked at her. “Yes,” she said. “You are.”

Aine sighed, and clicked on the camera.

“I don’t really like photos,” Boring Becky murmured.

Of course she didn’t.

“Everyone likes photos,” Tori insisted, watching Clementine and Lavender adjusting their hair.

Tori stared straight at the camera, and put on a very false, happy smile, the smile she knew made her look gorgeous. Then the camera flashed, and the memory was made.
A memory to last forever.




A/N: Hey guys! So...I was a little disappointed that I didn't get many reviews for the last chapter, so I'd really, really appreciate it if you'd review this one.

I promise I won't bite!

Anyway...what did you think of this chapter? Any predictions?

Courtney :)
 


Chapter 6: Me
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Super awesome chapter image by phoenixn @TDA

 

I’m curled up in my bed with Bernard snuggled beside me and a large book in my hands, when the dormitory door opens.

I look up immediately, praying that it won’t be Rebecca.

I’ve been avoiding her since her little speech at assembly, and she seems to be avoiding me as well, which works well for both of us.

Thankfully it’s Aine, and she’s alone, looking a little pink in the cheeks. I put my book down and look at her suspiciously.

She notices.

“What?” she asks self-consciously, trying to flatten her tangled hair.

“Where have you been?” I ask.

She flushes bright pink. “Nowhere,” she says. “I was…I…I went for a walk.”

Pfft. Does she really expect me to believe that? I think I have a pretty good idea of where she was, and it involves a certain hunky Quidditch player whose name starts with the letter M.

I’m talking about Mickey, for all those people out there who can’t solve riddles. Incidentally, I am a pro-riddles solver. Mum once brought me this book called ‘100 Fun Riddles for Witches’. Shut up, I was like, thirteen, okay? And I didn’t have a social life.

Aine goes into the bathroom to change into her pyjamas, and I pick up my book again, with no intention of actually reading it. It’s a very good book, but I’ve read it about fifty times - I can actually recite very long passages out of it.

Which isn’t weird at all…

Ever since Rebecca gave her speech at the assembly I’ve been thinking…thinking about what happened to Tori. McGonagall said she went missing, but that’s obviously not the whole story. How can someone just ‘go missing’? Maybe she ran away, or maybe she was kidnapped.

Maybe she decided to join the travelling circus and become a seal trainer or a trapeze artist.

The bathroom door opens, and Aine comes back out, so I quickly pretend to be reading my book.

“Charlie?”

Wow, she said my name. I wasn’t even aware she knew it.

I don’t reply. I’m trying to look like I’m so hooked on this book, I’m not even aware of the world around me.

“Charlie, I know you’re not really reading. Your eyes aren’t moving, they’re fixed on a single spot.”

Damn.

I sigh, and put the book down. Aine’s perched on the edge of her bed, looking at me seriously.

“You want to talk to me about something, don’t you?” she says.

Yes, I do actually.

“No,” I say.

She rolls her eyes. “I can see the question right behind your eyes. There’s something on your mind.”

I shrug. “You know me. I’m perfectly happy not talking.”

But she fixes me with a stern look so I sigh, and sit up in my bed. “I’ve been thinking,” I say slowly. “Thinking about Tori.”

I wait for her expression to harden, or for her eyes to fill with tears, like everyone else’s seems to whenever Tori’s name is mentioned. To my relief, she just smiles at me gently. “I’ve been wondering when you were going to ask about Tori,” she says.

I gape at her. “You have?”

She nods. “I’ve noticed how…how some people have been treating you.”

By this she means Rebecca, our charming roommate.

“I think they all see you as Tori’s replacement, and that’s now how you see yourself. But you have no idea who she is…what she was like.”

Wow. She’s pretty damn insightful.

Ooh! Maybe she’s a seer! Wouldn’t that be awesome if I could say I had a seer for a friend? Actually, it would just be awesome if I could say I had ‘a friend’ but whatever. I’m not picky.

“What was she like?” I ask, and I realise I’m eager to find out more about the mysterious Tori Heron. I mean, half her pictures are still up on her - ahem, my wall. I really need to remember that I sleep in this dormitory now, not Tori.

Aine bites her lip, and leans back on her bed. “I’m sure if you asked someone different, they’d give you a completely different description,” she says. “Tori and I weren’t really close. I got the impression she didn’t like me very much.”

“She and Rebecca were really good friends, weren’t they?”

Aine nods. “I think so. I think Rebecca looked up to her. Tori was…different. Different to any other girl than I’d met before. She was definitely more grown up than all the rest of us. But she also liked to have fun - that’s how the party down by the lake started. It was her idea.”

“She sounds kind of…nice,” I say, surprising myself.

Aine laughs. “She was usually only nice if she wanted something,” she says. “The one thing I remember the most clearly about Tori is that she liked to be the centre of attention.”

I find myself glancing up at all Tori’s photos on the wall. I don’t know why I haven’t taken them down yet.  For some reason, every time I decide to, I find myself putting it off and procrastinating. Yes, Tori certainly seems like she enjoys being the centre of attention. In every single photo, she’s always in the middle of the group, and everyone’s always looking at her in admiration, or laughing at something she’s just said.

I bite my lip. “If you don’t mind me asking…what happened to her?” I ask anxiously. “I mean, I know she went missing, but why?”

Aine sighs. “That’s just the thing. No one really knows. Like Rebecca said in her speech, one minute she was there the next…poof! No one had any idea where she’d disappeared to.”

“Not even Rebecca? Or James?”

Aine gives me a knowing smile. It’s quite disconcerting actually. “So you found out about Tori and James?” she grins. “They were quite the couple.”

What does she mean by that, I wonder?

“But she’s not…dead?”

Aine’s smile fades. Even though it’s clear she and Tori didn’t like each other very much, she still knew her, and would obviously be upset if she was dead.

“I honestly don’t know,” she says quietly. “Rebecca insists that she’s not but…I just don’t know.”

She trails off uncertainly, and I decide I’ve asked enough questions for one night. I don’t want to use up my talking quota all in one go now, do I?




I soon realise life at Hogwarts isn’t as horrible as I thought it was going to be.

Everyday I eat breakfast in the Great Hall with Aine and Mickey, usually joined by James and Fred.

I enjoy every moment I spend with James.

Even though his good moods can disappear as quickly as Fred’s sausages, (seriously, he eats like twenty each morning) he is usually smiling and cheerful, only dropping into a sullen silence when he doesn’t think anyone is watching.

At lunchtimes, the group of us sit out under a shaded tree by the lake. Aine always lies with her head in Mickey’s lap and James and Fred seem to enjoy playing pranks on poor little first years who are passing. I’m usually quite content to sit there and watch them, maybe read a book in the sun, but sometimes James or Fred will pick me up (which is an extremely uncomfortable experience) and threaten to throw me in the lake if I don’t socialise.

I also grow used to my classes, which are all very different, both from each other, and the lessons I took at home.

Potions are almost unbearable. We have this ancient teacher called Professor Slughorn, whom, as Fred tells me, was there when his grandpa went to school. I have no idea how he isn’t dead. He has the most gigantic belly I have ever and often forgets what he’s saying mid-sentence, and then has to repeat himself several times before he remembers. It also doesn’t help that the dungeons are bitterly cold and miserable, and that’s where we take potions.

Almost as bad, if that’s possible, is Transfiguration.

We have a horrible teacher called Professor Smith, who seems to dislike everyone, except the students in his own house, Hufflepuff, and is always unfairly taking points away from Gryffindor. In this class, I sit up the front with Aine, who constantly chatters away, and doesn’t seem to mind when I don’t respond, which is always good.

Herbology soon becomes one of my favourite classes. None of the boys are in this class, so Aine instantly pairs up with me. We’re currently working in Greenhouse Three, which houses some very dangerous plants. I don’t mind. I’ve always liked hands on magic, rather than waving wands and uttering spells I always forget the names of. Our Herbology teacher, Professor Longbottom, is really cool, and also happens to be the head of Gryffindor. He seems to like Aine a lot, and is always awarding her points for answering the simplest of questions. When I ask her why he likes her so much, she tells me her dad was in the same year as him at school. Apparently both Mr Finnigan and Professor Longbottom shared a dorm with Harry Potter, which weirds me out a bit.

I’ve always seen Harry Potter as some sort of super hero who whips around saving the day. It’s strange to think he was once a teenager, just like us.

Even though I love Herbology, my favourite class, strangely enough, is Divination.

Don’t you dare look at me like that!

Obviously I don’t like Divination the subject - or the teacher, Professor Moon, who is beginning to annoy me with her dreamy voice and sudden mood swings.

What I like about Divination, is that it’s the only class I really have to spend alone with James. Ever since my first day, when Professor Moon told us to get into pairs, and James came to sit with me, we’ve been Divination buddies. We sit at the same table, and everyone is always staring at us.

Well, they’re probably staring at James as he was - sorry, is the boyfriend of the missing girl.

But I like to think they’re staring at me as well. It gives me a much needed boost of confidence.

I find out a lot about James in our Divination classes, as neither of us really do much work.

What? I work super hard in my other classes, I deserve I break! It’s not like my future career is going to have anything to do with reading tea leaves and tarot cards, so it doesn’t really matter if I flunk it.

Anyway, James and I generally talk for most of the lesson - I find out all about the many jokes and pranks he, Fred and Mickey have played on the staff and students over the years. Most of these pranks involve dungbombs, the ancient caretaker, Filch, and a broom handle. Don’t ask me what the broom handle is for. Trust me, you don’t want to know.

I also find out what it was like to grow up with a super famous father, I learn all about why James’ favourite Quidditch team (Puddlemere United) should win the league this year and hear about all the spectacular wins James (who is the Quidditch team Captain) has made for Gryffindor.

The one thing he never talks about is Tori. And I’m glad. Because I don’t want to know anything more about her, or hear about what a perfect couple they were.

I don’t get it, personally - Tori and James. They seem…very different to each other.

Then again, opposites attract, so what would I know.

Sometimes, usually when I’m alone, I see Albus around the school. He’s either by himself in the library, which is a place I like to go for a bit of quiet time, or walking along with his cousin, Rose (the red-haired girl I originally thought was his girlfriend) and another girl who I don’t know the name of.  I realise he always looks so miserable, and I can’t help but wonder why this is - has it got something to do with James? Obviously the brothers have had a fight about something. Whatever the ‘something’ is though, I’m too afraid to ask James. Whenever he sees Albus around school, his jaw goes all tight and his eyes harden.

A couple of times (not when I’m with James, obviously) I see Albus wave at me, and come over to talk. Whenever this happens, I remember James’ warning in divination, and quickly walk the opposite way. This doesn’t seem to offend Albus though, or if it does, he doesn’t show it. Every time he sees me, he still says hello, even though I never respond.

Is that rude of me?

Should I respond?

It’s not like he’s ever done anything to offend me. In fact, every time I’ve met him, he’s always been perfectly nice. Even a little shy, which is completely opposite from James.

After I’ve been hanging around with James and the others for a few weeks, people begin to notice that James and I have become quite good friends. And a lot of people don’t like it. Most people still see me as Tori’s replacement, the girl whose name they don’t know (it’s Charlie Parker, thank you very much) and who spends a lot of time with Tori’s boyfriend.

I think James knows that people talk about him a lot behind his back, but he doesn’t seem to care.

Of course, Clementine and Lavender approach me a couple of times, to give me repetitive warnings about James.

“You like him, don’t you?” they say.

I always decline, but they just look at me with these infuriating ‘all-knowing’ expressions on their faces.

“Maybe he likes you too,” they say. “But he loves Tori. He’ll always be in love with Tori. And when she comes back, they’ll go off, get married and start a family together.”

I try not to let their words rattle me. But, for some reason, they do. I can’t help picturing James and the blonde haired girl whose pictures are still on my wall sitting in a big house with a whole lot of mini James’ and Tori’s.

Merlin, they’d have adorable kids.

Though I have always thought I’m not a people-person, I soon realise that was just because I’ve never been around people.

Apart from my parents. And they don’t really count, because they’re probably aliens from a strange planet.

I actually come to realise that I need these people, and that I enjoy having friends. Though Aine and Fred do most of the talking when I’m with them, and all Mickey goes on about is Quidditch, I’ve really come to rely on them. It also starts to become a little depressing that the rest of the school population is ignoring me.

I’m serious.

In Herbology the other day, we were tending to our venomous tentacula plants, and I asked the Ravenclaw guy standing across from me to pass the watering can. I think his name is Robert Davies, and I’ve seen him and Clementine together, holding hands. Anyway, I asked this Robert to pass me the watering can and he completely ignored me - just pretended I wasn’t there!

I was super offended, especially because I heard him mutter ‘her replacement’ to his friend.

Well, I didn’t need a translator to tell me who he had been referring to when he said ‘her replacement.’

Anyway, Aine was quite annoyed that the guy - Robert - had ignored me, so she threw some dragon dung at him and demanded he give me the watering can. She actually looked quite terrifying standing there with her dirt-smeared face and dragon-hide protection gloves, so I wasn’t surprised when Robert started stammering out his apologies and handed the watering can over.

Aine is a good friend.

The one person I’m very glad is ignoring me is Rebecca.

I mean, obviously we see each other occasionally - we have to share the same dormitory, and she’s had a few mini freak outs at me, where her eyes go all crazed and manic, but usually Aine, or someone else who is nearby is able to calm her down. Apart from these pleasant encounters we never speak, and I’m happy to keep it that way. I don’t need constant reminders that Tori will be coming back soon to replace me.

I should have known it was all too good to last.

The bell rings signalling the end of Divination, and I can’t help but sigh in relief.

I look at James and roll my eyes.

His head is slumped on top of his arms, which are crossed on the little table. His eyes are closed and he’s snoring slightly.

I roughly shake him, and he jerks awake, looking around frantically.

“Where’s the knife?” he asks stupidly, then notices me sitting in front of him.

I give him a look.

Since being here at Hogwarts, I’ve actually realised I give very meaningful looks. There’s the ‘don’t lie to me, I know what you’ve been doing with that gorgeous hunk of a boyfriend’ look (this is usually applied to Aine.)

Then there’s the ‘please chew with your mouth closed, I’m going to vomit look’ (Fred.)

There’s also the ‘what the hell are you talking about, you sound like a crazy person look’ which is the one I’m currently giving James.

“Sorry,” he says, rubbing at his eyes. “Once I fell asleep in Charms and Fred prodded me in the back with a knife.”

I stare at him. Yes, Fred is a little…insane, to put it nicely, but I can’t imagine him stabbing someone.

James laughs at the expression on my face. “Don’t worry, it was made of rubber,” he says. “But boy did it give me nightmares.”

I laugh, and we begin packing up our books.

“Remember to complete your homework essays!” Professor Moon calls out happily.

Humph. It’s all very well for her to be happy. She’s not the one that has to do the stupid essay on deciphering the messages in burning logs.

Which, by the way, is the most pointless thing I’ve ever done. The only message I’ve got out of it is not to stare into fires for too long, because your eyes will start to hurt.

James and I climb out of the trapdoor and down the ladder, and begin walking towards the Great Hall, where we are meeting the others for lunch. I hope they’ve got something good. I’m so hungry I could eat a Giant Panda.

Of course, I’d never eat a Giant Panda, because they’re an endangered species, and I don’t want to contribute to their extinction.

ANIMAL POWER!

Shut up. I realise I’m a little strange.

James suddenly groans loudly, and grabs my arm.

Damn him.

He knows I don’t like too much physical contact. Though his arm feels pretty damn good around mine - I can feel his muscles bulging slightly.

Which I should not be thinking about, as James is not my boyfriend.

“Would you care to explain that involuntary groan?” I ask James, trying to keep the squeak out of my voice.

He grins at me. “I’m starving,” he said. “And you’re dawdling along at the speed of a tortoise. I think my grandma Molly actually passed you, on her walker.”

I roll my eyes, and hit him playfully on the shoulder. He laughs loudly at me, and then freezes suddenly, looking straight ahead. I sigh slightly, expecting to see Albus. Instead I see Rebecca, coming late out of her Ancient Runes class, and staring at James and I with an angry expression on her face.

Crap.

Whatever she’s thinking, it can’t be good.

James tightens his grip on my arm slightly. “Hey, Becky,” he says, with a strained grin. I notice several people around us have stopped to watch.  People will do anything for a bit of gossip. And why does James have a nickname for Rebecca? Did they used to be friends or something? I realise this is probably likely, considering James and Tori used to - sorry, go out and Tori and Rebecca are best friends.

What are you doing with her?” Rebecca asks, and I’m surprised to hear that her voice comes out as a whisper.

I look around, wondering who James is with. Then I realise Rebecca’s talking about me.

Oops. I’m so intelligent.

WHY ARE YOU WITH TORI’S REPLACEMENT?” Rebecca suddenly screams, out of nowhere, and I can’t believe the venom in her voice.

James looks momentarily startled. “Rebecca, you need to calm down…”

“CALM DOWN!” she screams, and I realise there are tears in her eyes. The people around us are muttering amongst each other. I can only imagine what they’re saying. That I, the new girl, am taking Tori’s spot. Replacing her.

CALM DOWN? HOW DARE YOU, JAMES POTTER? HOW DARE YOU?”

James lets go of my arm, and takes a slow step towards Rebecca, his arms held out in front of him protectively. Rebecca flinches away. “Rebecca, I…”

“You’re disrespecting Tori!” Rebecca says, wiping tears from her eyes, and her voice has suddenly changed to a sort of gurgling hiss. “How can you do this to her? How can you…how can you cheat on her like that? And with her of all people.”

Woah. She has totally gone too far. It’s not like James and I are even dating!

“James and I are just friends!” I tell her forcefully, and I am horrified to see Rebecca spin towards me, pulling out her wand from inside her robes.

“WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE HER?” she screams at me. “WHY DO YOU WANT TO TAKE HER PLACE?”

I shake my head, my heart pounding like a drum. “Rebecca, that’s not true!” I say. “I don’t want to be Tori…”

But Rebecca has stopped listening. She shakes her head in despair. “YOU’LL NEVER BE AS GOOD AS HER! YOU’RE JUST A FAKE, A COPY. YOU BITCH!”

I am shocked. I never liked Rebecca, but I didn’t realise she was this emotionally unstable. I realise James has also pulled his wand out of his robes.

“Becky,” he says softly, because the crazy girl still looks like she’s about to attack me. “Please calm down. You don’t need to say those things…”

Expelliarmus!” chokes Rebecca, and James’ wand goes flying from his hand.

I am beginning to feel very angry. This girl has serious issues. “Look,” I say. “I don’t see what your problem with me is - there’s nothing wrong with me! I am a perfectly nice person. Just because Tori…”

Don’t you speak her name!” Rebecca growls, and then, before I can react, she’s shot straight at me, and pushed me against the wall, her hand clenching my neck. My head hits the stone with a resounding crack, and I feel my vision beginning to go foggy. Everything is a blur.

I’m starting to lose air in my lungs, and I hear shouting all around me, but it seems like it’s coming from several miles away. I can feel Rebecca’s warm, sticky breath in my ear…

Dark spots are appearing in front of my eyes…

Then suddenly, she’s gone.

I sink to the floor, choking, and massaging my sore neck, blinking as the dots slowly fade. I look up to see Albus Potter holding a struggling and crying Rebecca from behind, a grim look on his face.

James had regained hold of his wand, and is pointing it directly at her - or maybe he’s pointing it at Albus, I can’t tell.

“What is going on here?!”

Though I can’t seem to find the energy to get up off the ground, I look to my left to see McGonagall striding through the small crowd of terrified students with a stern look on her face. Her gaze sweeps across the corridor, lingering on me last of all. There is a sudden babble of voices, and I close my eyes, the noise giving me a headache.

Before I close my eyes, I see James looking over at me in concern.

“One at a time please,” McGonagall snaps irritably. “Potter, what just happened?”

I can’t tell whether she’s looking at James or Albus, but it is James who speaks. “Charlie and I were walking back from Divination Headmistress,” he says slowly, sounding as though he’s struggling to find words. “Rebecca…she got upset when she saw us together. She attacked Charlie.”

Though I still have my eyes closed, and can’t see her, I imagine McGonagall nodding briskly. “Very well,” she says. “Mr Potter, I suggest you take Miss Parker to the hospital wing - she looks in need of a pick-me-up. Miss Kale, you will be coming with me.”

There is a stampede of feet as the lingering students scamper away, and then I feel James’ warm arms scooping me up from the ground. I open my eyes, feeling oddly sleepy, and gaze at him through half-lids. He smiles at me gently. “You okay?”

I nod. “I don’t think Rebecca likes me much.”

I feel him vibrating slightly, and realise he’s laughing, even though I wasn’t trying to be funny. “I can’t imagine how you got that impression,” he says.

Thanks. That makes me feel loads better.

“I’m sorry,” I say suddenly.

He frowns at me. “For what?”

“For making you miss lunch. You were starving, remember?”

He chuckles again. “It’s alright,” he says. “I’d rather spend time with you.”




Madam Pomfrey, the school nurse, spends ages fussing over me, even though I feel better the moment I drink a special Strengthening Solution, the colour of Barney the Purple Dinosaur.

Don’t look at me like that.

Muggle childrens television shows are much more entertaining than the wizarding stories mum used to read me, out of the Tales of Beedle the Bard. What? Those stories always scared me. After I heard ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’ I had nightmares for weeks.

Anyways…

After Madam Pomfrey finally agrees to let me leave the hospital wing, classes are over, so I head back to the Gryffindor Tower. The Common Room is still buzzing with people. I see Aine and Mickey canoodling on the love seat, and I don’t really want to interrupt them, I can’t see James or Fred anywhere and all the squashy armchairs by the fire have been taken, so I decide I’ll just go up to the dorm, maybe make a start on Professor Moon’s ridiculous essay.

Most people complain about the amount of Homework we get set, especially Fred who always seems to have endless amounts of it, and is constantly getting detentions for not completing work to the due date. I, however, find it very easy to keep up, probably because I enjoy writing essays.

I can see that look on your face.

And for the record I don’t actually enjoy the actual writing of the essay. I just like them because I seem to be super good at them. When I was home schooled, I used to write them in my spare time, and then give myself a mark.

Again, I can see that look on your face.

It is completely normal to write essays for fun!

Anyway, I go upstairs to see that the twins are already up there, both sitting on Clementine’s bed, giving each other manicures.  I’ve personally never seen why girls insist on having such perfect nails. It all seems a waste of time to me. My own nails are always bitten and chewed, and usually have compost under them from Herbology. The twins and I aren’t exactly friends, but unlike me and Rebecca, we are on speaking terms, so I say a quick hello before pulling my Divination text book, a quill and some ink out of my bag. Bernard’s nowhere in sight, so I guess he’s snuck down to the kitchens to nick some extra food. Greedy cat, no wonder he’s so fat.

It doesn’t help that he’s taken a liking to Fred, who always feeds him pieces of éclair and lamingtons, which he sneaks from the kitchens. No wonder Bernard and Fred get along so well. They both eat like they’ll never see food again.

I’ve only written a couple of sentences of my essay when I realise I have no idea what I’m writing - there are just too many thoughts crowding my mind. 

Why did Rebecca suddenly spaz out at me today, just because she saw James and I together? I mean, I know James and Tori were in a relationship, but what business is that of Rebecca’s, really?

I glance up at the photos on the wall, as I often find myself doing when I’m trying to put the pieces of Tori’s life together. My gaze goes instantly to the one where James has his arms wrapped around Tori’s waist. She’s looking in the other direction, laughing. Unlike in most of her other photos, where her smile is obviously fake, this one is clearly real. She actually looks a lot prettier for it.

“Why does James hate Albus so much?”

The question comes out of my mouth out of nowhere, and both Clementine and Lavender turn to stare at me. I feel myself blushing. Why did I just say that?

I regret my question even more when I see the twins looking at each other in that secretive way that annoys me so much.

I sigh. “Don’t worry,” I say. “Forget I asked.”

“No, it’s okay.” Clementine says, surprising me. “I would’ve though James had told you by now, what with all the time you two have been spending together.

“There are only two boys in this school who are forbidden,” Lavender says seriously, and I frown, confused. Two boys who are forbidden? I gather than James is one of these boys, but who would the other be?

“James and Albus,” Clementine informs me, and I gape at her.

“Why is Albus forbidden?” I ask her, against my better judgement.

Clementine sighs dreamily. “Because he was in love with Tori too,” she says, and I feel my jaw drop. Albus was in love with Tori? Albus Potter? No. That can’t be right. Albus does not seem the type to fall for a girl like…for a girl like Tori.

“She didn’t love him back, of course,” Clementine continues. “Because she and James were totally in love. They loved each other,” she repeats, making it clear that it’s important for me to know this.

“But Albus had the biggest crush on her,” Lavender says, nodding.

“Is that why James and Albus are fighting?” I ask in a quiet voice, and the twins both nod.  I can’t help but feel a growing resentment towards Tori. Even though she’s not here right now, even though she’s still missing, she’s still on everyone’s mind. James and Albus hate each other, can’t be in the same room together, because of her. She caused a rift between them, and she’s not even here anymore.

I just don’t see what was so fantastic about Tori freaking Heron.

I mean, I think I’m pretty damn good, too.

Not to sound arrogant or anything.

Because non arrogant is my middle name.

Well, middle names really, considering ‘non arrogant’ is two words.

“You won’t tell James we told you this, will you?” Clementine asks anxiously, and I look over at her. “She made us promise not to tell anyone and James would be very upset if he knew.”

I wasn’t planning on telling James anyway, as he would probably just get mad if he found out I was prying into his own personal problems.

“Of course I won’t tell him,” I say, and the twins breathe identical sighs of relief. “Your secret is safe with me.”




A/N: Hi again!

So, what did you think of this chapter?

What made Rebecca get so angry with Charlie? And do you think the twins were telling the truth about Albus?

Please leave a review - I love to hear from you. I'd especially love to hear about your favourite/least favourite characters, etc.

Smiles

Courtney:)

PS: I've just started a new story, Moonlight. Please read and tell me what you think!
 
 
 


Chapter 7: Me
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Another great chapter image by phoenixn @TDA

 

I can hardly believe it when I realise I’ve been at Hogwarts for over a month.

Where has all that time gone?

Lessons start to get even harder, and Fred and James are in detention at least four lunchtimes a week for not handing in homework on time.

As it is our last year of schooling, the teachers are getting very strict on us.

Especially Professor Smith.

Last lesson, he gave us two books to read for homework, plus a two foot essay to complete on the properties of Human Transformation.

He is such a wart!

Whenever the five of us (me, James, Aine, Mickey and Fred) all have a spare lunchtime, which is not very often as we have to juggle school work, Quidditch practise and Fred and James’ detentions, we use it to sit out by the lake, drinking up the last of the warm weather before the winter season begins.

Today is an unusually warm October Sunday, and we’re all lounging under our favourite tree, enjoying a selection of blueberry muffins, chocolate tarts and jam drops that Fred and James stole from the kitchens.

“I’m seriously worried about the upcoming Quidditch match against Slytherin,” James is saying, through a mouthful of muffin. “Malfoy’s put up a very good side this year,” he adds darkly, looking to our right where Scorpius Malfoy, a pale, blonde haired boy is mucking about on the bank of the lake with his friends.

I know James has a grudge against Scorpius-apparently their dads didn’t get on well at school. Personally, I don’t have anything against him.

Admittedly, he is pretty rude, and is an absolute bigot, but he is very good looking, which makes up for these negative traits.

Of course, I haven’t given James this opinion, as he is always complaining about Scorpius, and how he always tries to ‘get it on’ with his cousin, Rose.

“For the love of cheese, will you stop moaning about Quidditch?” Aine sighs. She’s lying on the grass with her head in Mickey’s lap, who is playing with her wavy hair absent-mindedly.

Fred grins at her. “For the love of cheese?”

James, on the other hand, shoots her a glare. “Girls just don’t understand the importance of Quidditch,” he says. “Gryffindor hasn’t lost against Slytherin since my dad was at school. I don’t want to go breaking that winning record.”

“Well, if we lose, we’ll blame it all on you,” grins Fred. “As you’re captain and all.”

James groans. “Don’t remind me.”

“You boys will be fine,” says Aine. “You have the best team I’ve seen since being here.”

It’s true.

I don’t know a lot about Quidditch, nor do I have much interest in it, but as James, Fred and Mickey are all on the team, Aine and I have gone down to watch a few of their training sessions, and boy are they good!

The team is also made up mainly of Potter/Weasley cousins.

James, the captain, plays Chaser, and so does his younger sister, Lily.

I don’t know Lily very well, though I’ve noticed she seems quite feisty, but she can fly very well.

Fred is also on the team, as beater, and his beating partner is his cousin, Louis Weasley, from the year below.

Then of course, there’s Albus, who plays Seeker.

I never imagined him as the sporting type, but he’s pretty good.

Of course, as James and Albus aren’t on speaking terms, this makes for some pretty awkward Quidditch practises.

The only other people who are on the team are Mickey, who plays keeper, and a tiny third year girl, who reminds me of a pixie, but flies very fast.

When I asked James why there are so many of his family members on the team, he told me, and I quote, “We’re just better than everyone else” which is a little bit stuck up if you ask me.

But also very true.

“I just hope Malfoy doesn’t try to bend the rules, like he did last time,” says James sourly. He turns to me. “In a match against them last year, he committed about a hundred fouls, and the ref only pulled him up for one of them.”

I think a hundred is a bit of an exaggeration, but I don’t say anything.

“Do you know what the bad thing about Quidditch is?” says Aine suddenly. “It creates this huge rivalry between the houses.”

The boys all look at her like she’s insane, but I privately agree.

The first Quidditch match of the season is coming up, and the closer it gets, the worse the Slytherins and Gryffindors are treating each other. Yesterday there was a duel in the fifth floor corridor, and two fifth year Slytherins and one Gryffindor ended up in the hospital wing with watermelons growing out their ears.

I don’t quite know how they managed to pull that off, but I’d really like to know how.

Watermelons are totally my favourite fruit.

Fred shakes his head in disgust. “If I didn’t have Quidditch to look forward to, I’d quit school here and now,” he says. “The thought of that bloody pile of homework up in my dorm is dead depressing. I’ve already got a detention for eight o’clock tonight.”

“What are you doing?” I ask him curiously.

He grins at me. “Clearing out the rotten potions ingredients,” he says grimly. “Should be fun.”

“You really should keep on top of your work, Fred,” says Aine, though she can’t really talk. She’s been putting off her Herbology essay for weeks! “How will you ever get anywhere in life if you don’t aim to succeed?”

Fred snorts. “That’s a bit rich, coming from you,” he says, and Aine and Mickey both scowl at him. “Anyway, my dad left school in his seventh year, he told me. He and his brother opened up a joke shop.”

It’s true. James told me Mr Weasley let him come and work there last holidays. It’s the most popular shop in all of Diagon Alley.

Aine sighs. “Well, I’ve got to pass all my NEWTS if I want to get my dream job,” she says.

Aine wants to be a healer, though I can’t imagine why. I can’t see anything worse than treating infections and binding wounds and…and prying watermelons out of peoples ears

Urgh.

“Don’t talk about NEWTS now, babe!” Mickey groans. “The years only just begun. I’m already flunking most of my classes, thanks to these two over here.” He glowers playfully at James and Fred, who grin cheekily back at him.

“It’s your fault, mate,” Fred says. “You chose to sit with us on the Hogwarts express in our first year.”

Mickey rolls his eyes. “Yeah, and I didn’t realise you guys would have such a bad influence on me!”

Aine pats him on the knee. “You have nothing to worry about, Mick,” she says. “There’s practically a spot on the Puddlemere United Reserve team with your name on it.”

Mickey’s dad, Oliver Wood, is the coach of the Puddlemere United Quidditch team. He was also a Keeper in his day.

Like father like son.

“What are you planning on doing when you leave school, Charlie?” James asks me suddenly.

I sigh. In truth, I haven’t thought an awful lot about what I want to do.

I’m one on those people that likes to live in the moment, rather than looking ahead and wishing your life away. You know, live and let live-peace, love and ice cream and all that rubbish.

“I dunno,” I say. “Maybe something to do with animals?”

“You could study dragons, like my Uncle Charlie!” Fred suggests eagerly, and I give him a look. I still remember his story, from our first Care of Magical Creatures lesson, when he insisted his uncle almost got his hand burnt off.

I don’t want to get into any career that involves my possible death or fatal injury, thank you very much. I'm perfectly happy with the placement of my nose as it is.

James and Fred are discussing the possibilities of opening up a shop that sells food which expands in your mouth, when I hear the unmistakeable sound of Slytherin laughter from where Scorpius is sitting.

Trust me, Slytherin laughter is easily identifiable. They always sound like evil geniuses chuckling about their doubly evil plans-in other words, a manic cackle.

“What the hell is going on there?” I ask aloud, and we all turn to watch.

Scorpius has moved away from his group of Slytherin cronies, and is standing, arms folded, in front of Rose Weasley, blocking her way.

“Move out of my way, Scorpius,” she says calmly.

He smirks. “Why should I? Is it against the law to stand on this spot? Because if it is, they really should put a plaque in.”

The Slytherin boys behind him roar with laughter, and I see Rose roll her eyes. “Very mature, Scorpius. Now MOVE.”

She tries to get past him, but Scorpius does a little side step, and blocks her way again.

James and Fred jump to their feet at once.

Great.

The boys are very protective of their female cousins.

“OI MALFOY!” James hollers, and he and Fred strut over to him. And when I say strut, I mean strut. They look like a couple of gay models working the cat walk. James pushes Scorpius out of Rose’s way rather roughly.

“Here we go again,” murmurs Mickey, rolling his eyes, and I gather this has happened before.

Rose goes bright red-which looks hilarious, as it matches the colour of her hair. “James,” she says quietly. “It’s okay…”

“You heard her,” Scorpius smirks, and James and Fred glare at him dangerously. This just makes him smirk even harder.

“Oh, shut up, Scorpius,” says Rose tiredly. “I’ve had it with you. I’d really rather you just leave me alone.”

With one last glare at all three of the boys, Rose sidesteps her way around them and marches off, her satchel swinging at her side, crammed with books.

I don’t know much about Rose, but she is apparently top of her year. Though her mother is Hermione Weasley, which makes sense.

“Oh great,” says Aine. “Here we go.”

I stare at her. “What’d you mean ‘here we go’?”

She smirks slightly. “Watch.”

“Stay away from Rose,” says James, still towering over Scorpius. In that moment, I can’t tell whether James is extraordinarily tall, or whether Scorpius is super short.

“Make me,” Scorpius sneers, and Mickey slaps a hand to him forehead.

“What?” I ask him, but he just shakes his head.

“He really threw himself into the deep end there,” he says, though I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Then suddenly, I see James and Fred exchanging manly sort of nods. Then together, they pick Scorpius up by the ankles and wrists, haul him over to the lake and toss him right in. He lands with a loud SPLASH and Mickey and Aine groan. I guess Mickey was right about him being thrown into the deep end. Har har...I don't think.

“Has that…happened before?” I ask them, and Aine nods.

“He really should know by now not to irritate James and Fred.”

I watch as Scorpius resurfaces, coughing and spluttering and looking absolutely furious.

James and Fred walk back over to us, James with a determined expression on his face. He looks seriously at Mickey and Fred. “Boys,” he says. “If we don’t beat Malfoy’s team in the Quidditch game, we’re toast.”




On the morning of the first Quidditch game of the season, everyone wakes up bright and early and heads down to the Great Hall for breakfast.

I am not a morning person, so this highly inconveniences me.

I also happen to be a very deep sleeper-in fact, I usually only wake up when someone touches me, because of my fear of…well, people touching me.

Anyway, I get such a fright when Aine shakes me awake at some ungodly hour on Saturday morning that I almost have a heart attack.

“Why do we have to get up so early?” I grumble, as I wander around the room looking for a sock. Even though I’ve only been here for just over a month, my stuff is everywhere-I’m serious! It spews out of my suitcase all over the room-it drives Rebecca insane. She’s always yelling at me about how tidy Tori was and how she would never be so filthy and disorganised.

I reminded her politely that I wasn’t perfect Tori, and kindly asked her to stop shouting at me.

That’s a lie.

We sort of stood on either side of the room screaming at each other, resulting in me getting so angry, that I ripped the remaining photos of Tori off my wall, and threw them to Rebecca, telling her to put them on her wall if she wanted them so bad.

She did as I suggested.

So now I still have to stare up at the gorgeous face of Tori Heron, even though she smirks down at me from the other side of the room.

Merlin, I really need to stop going off on random tangents.

I’m sure none of you care about the complexities of being the magnificent Charlie Parker.

Ha.

When I’ve found a pair of matching socks that don’t have mud stains all over them, and have borrowed some of Aine’s Sleakeazy’s Hair Potion to try and tame my hair, we join the rest of the school in the Great Hall.

The Gryffindor Quidditch team are huddled in a tight knit group near the end of the table. James is going over last minute tactics with them and forcing his team members to eat large quantities of eggs and sausages while not touching any of his own food himself.  He looks pale and nervous, and I bet he’s remembering his little run in with Scorpius the other day.

Against my better judgement, I glance over at the Slytherin house table.

Scorpius stands out a mile with his platinum blonde head, and I can see him muttering with two very large blokes on the Slytherin team.

Aine squeezes in next Mickey, who pulls her onto his lap, and begins nuzzling her cheek. I sit next to Fred, who grins his trademark grin and loops his arm around me.

Damn Fred!

He knows too much human contact makes me feel awkward.

He just likes to embarrass me, the asshat.

“…and this is exactly the sort of behaviour that will make us lose the match!” James says furiously, glaring at Mickey and Fred, who have the decency to look embarrassed. “We don’t need distractions!”

Aine rolls her eyes. “Honestly James, don’t get so worked up,” she says. “It’s just a stupid Quidditch match!”

James looks at her in disbelief. “Just a stupid Quidditch match? Just a stupid Quidditch match?”

Mickey rolls his eyes. “Honestly mate, lighten up,” he says, and James turns on him again.

Mickey looks mildly terrified.

I chuckle.

Yes, everyone. I do have a sense of humour, if you were wondering.

“Get that woman off your lap!” he says. “No females allowed!”

Lily, already wearing her red Quidditch robes coughs loudly. “What am I, some kind of alien?”

Aine sighs, climbs off Mickey and grabs my hand. “Don’t get your panties in a pickle,” she says to James, who glares at her. “Charlie and I will eat elsewhere if it’s such a big deal to you.”

“Is he always like this before a Quidditch game?” I ask Aine, as she leads me away.

She rolls her eyes. “He’s never been this bad before-then again, this is his first year as Captain. I just don’t think he could stand the humiliation if Scorpius’ team beat him.”

Great. Gryffindor had better win. If we don’t…well, James is going to be in a foul mood for the rest of the year.

And foul mood James is no fun at all to be around.




The Gryffindor’s in the stands suddenly let off an almighty cheer as something (I’m guessing good) happens.

Aine is dancing on her tiptoes in the stands, peering through the crowd with her binoculars.

“What just happened?” I ask her.

“We just scored!” she says excitedly. “James made a wicked shot, and the Slytherin Keeper is awful…”

“Odd how people say ‘we scored’ isn’t it,” I say thoughtfully. “I mean, it’s not like you scored, now is it? James did. So why would you…sorry,” I say, as Aine fixes me with a look, and presses the binoculars to the bridge of her nose.

I stay silent, and try to follow the game. Even though Quidditch is played high up in the air, and the stands are elevated, it’s still hard to see what’s going on. I wish I’d thought to bring binoculars.

“…and that’s Potter, Lily Potter in possession of the Quaffle,” the commentator, a fifth year from Ravenclaw is saying over a magical speaker phone, his voice ringing all throughout the pitch. “…passes it to Potter-er, James Potter, who narrowly misses a bludger hit by Nott of Slytherin, Potter passes to Potter who…er, passes it back to Potter…they’re approaching the goal hoops now…Slytherin Keeper Zabini prepares to block the throw and…and GRYFFINDOR SCORES! Gryffindor now leads 180 to 20.”

The Gryffindor’s cheer loudly again, and this time I join in.

Even though I’m not familiar with the rules of Quidditch, it is clear to see that James is a fantastic Chaser. In fact, the whole Gryffindor is amazing.

A Slytherin Chaser is now in possession of the Quaffle. Fred hits a bludger straight at him. I hold my breath, waiting for the hard ball to make contact, but the Slytherin narrowly misses it…however in the process he drops the ball.

“Come on James!” Aine mutters anxiously, as James swerves in to grab it.

Unfortunately another Slytherin gets there before him, grabbing the ball with his left hand, and shooting towards the Slytherin goal posts, which Mickey is flying around, waiting.

Aine bites her lip, and I see her crossing her fingers as the Slytherin Chaser prepares to shoot…

“Slytherin Chaser Flint is fast approaching the goal posts…” the Ravenclaw commentator says, as we all lean forward in suspense.

I have to admit, I’m really quite enjoying this!

“…he shoots, he…YES! Gryffindor Keeper Wood makes yet another spectacular save, and throws the Quaffle to chaser Bethany Harevale…”

“I LOVE YA MICK!” Aine screams at the top of her lungs, blowing him a kiss, then throwing her arms around me too, for a victory hug.

Alright, I’m enjoying the Quidditch, but not so much the hugs.

I guess you have to take the good with the bad sometimes.

After prying Aine’s arms off me, I scout the Quidditch pitch, looking for Albus, who has been keeping out of the way, looking for the golden snitch. Apparently the game doesn’t end until the snitch is caught, and the Seeker who catches it wins 150 points for their team.

I finally see Albus, sitting on his broom about halfway between the Slytherin and Gryffindor hoops. Even from where I’m sitting I can see the strange, almost distant expression on his face. He seems distracted, like he’s thinking about something completely non Quidditch related.

But apparently Albus has never failed to win a game for Gryffindor, so I put this troubling thought from my mind.

Aine told me she went to the Quidditch World Cup when she was ten, and the game went on for two whole days! But at Hogwarts, the time limit is two hours, because the teachers don’t want to interfere with our studying.

Which we totally do-study, I mean.

“…AND LILY POTTER SCORES FOR GRYFFINDOR!” the commentator shouts suddenly, and I see little red headed Lily zooming away from the goal posts, with what seems to be a huge grin on her face.

James gives her the thumbs up, and a Slytherin Beater, Zabini, gives a bludger a good whack to let out his irritation.

Scorpius really needs to find a new Keeper. His current one has only managed to save one goal.

I turn back to the game, and my eyes widen.

The first thing I see is the white-blonde head of Scorpius Malfoy, zooming towards the ground towards a tiny fleck of shimmering gold.

I let out a shout of horror and grab Aine’s arm.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

I point towards Scorpius frantically. “The snitch! He’s seen the snitch!”

Aine claps her hand to her mouth. “ALBUS!” she screams at the top of her lungs, though I’m sure Albus can’t hear her. “ALBUS! THE SNITCH!”

Hmm. For someone who seems to think Quidditch is a waste of time, Aine seems very anxious for Gryffindor to win. I’ll be asking her about that.

The other Gryffindor’s seem to have noticed what is going on, as everyone is murmuring anxiously amongst themselves.

I see Rose, Albus and James’ cousin gnawing anxiously on her fingernails.

“I think Malfoy has seen the Snitch!” says the commentator loudly, and to my relief, Albus suddenly shoots down towards the ground, looking frantic.

The rest of the players have stopped mid air, watching the Seekers zooming towards the ground.

James is shouting so loudly, I can hear his voice from here.

“…and Gryffindor’s Seeker, Albus Potter is on Malfoy’s tail…”

Will he catch up?

Scorpius is so far ahead…his arm is stretched out in front of him…reaching for the Snitch…

Everyone in the stands is screaming.

I can see the determined look on Albus’ face…he’s flying faster than Scorpius…I think he’s going to make it but…

“And Malfoy has caught the Snitch!” shouts the commentator, and my heart plummets. I hear Aine groaning beside me, as we both see Scorpius, grinning like a mad-man, the tiny fluttering gold ball inside his hand.

“Scorpius Malfoy of Slytherin catches the golden snitch, and ends the game,” the commentator continues, and I suddenly realise something.

I clutch Aine’s arm. “We’ve won!” I say to her.

She shakes her head. “No, we haven’t Charlie, Malfoy caught the Snitch, you saw him as well as I did!”

I laugh, a stupid grin appearing on my face. “We were more than 150 points up, Aine! We won!”

Her eyes widen as she grasps what I am saying.

“…GRYFFINDOR WINS!” the commentator shouts, as if to confirm my point, and the Gryffindor section of the stands absolutely erupts, as the Slytherins groan and boo loudly.

The players are beginning to descend.

“Come on,” grins Aine, her eyes shining. “Let’s go congratulate them!”

We wind our way through the students and descend the stands, hurrying over to the edge of the pitch which the players are slowly making their way towards.

“Stupid Malfoy!” says Aine, who I’ve never seen look so happy. “Why did he catch the Snitch for? Why did he end the game?”

I shrug. “Maybe he wasn’t keeping track of the score.”

Albus is the first Gryffindor player to reach the edge of the pitch. He’s carrying his top of the range broom, and has an odd look on his face, but looks otherwise happy.

“Congratulations!” I tell him. “Good win!”

He smiles slightly at me, but I still reckon his eyes look a little distant. For some reason, I suddenly remember what Clementine told me about Albus, about why James hates him; “Because he was in love with Tori too” she said.

Is that why Albus looks so distant? Is he thinking about Tori? Was Tori a Quidditch player?

No, I seriously doubt it.

She seems more the cheerleading type.

“Thanks, Charlie,” he says, smiling weakly. “But I didn’t really do anything to help the team out. If I’d…if I’d paid a bit more attention, we could have won by a lot more.”

“It’s not your fault, Albus,” says Aine quietly, but at that moment, the rest of the team comes running over.

Mickey gives Aine a huge and disgustingly sloppy smack on the lips and Fred picks me off the ground in a hug.

But the first thing James does is walk straight over to Albus and punch him in the face.

Oh boy.

“James!” Aine shrieks. “What the hell was that for?”

But James doesn’t listen to her.

Albus’ nose is bleeding, but he doesn’t seem to care about that, either.

He grabs his younger brother by the front of his robes and growls; “You FUCKING MORON! WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T YOU CATCH THE SNITCH YOU PATHETIC TWAT!”

Fred lets go of me. “That’s enough James,” he says seriously.

James doesn’t listen to him either.

Instead he punches Albus again…and then again until Albus is thrown back onto the ground. Aine begins shouting, and I see Lily and Bethany Harevale running over, looking horrified.

I have gone numb with shock.

What the hell does James think he’s doing?

Finally, Albus seems to realise he’s being attacked, and tries to fight back. He grabs James by the arms, and starts kicking out at him with his legs.

James starts screaming at him and then Albus starts screaming back as they roll around in the mud until they aren’t making sense anymore.

Mickey and Fred suddenly seem to realise the two of them are going to kill each other if they don’t jump in. Fred grabs James and Mickey takes Albus by the arms and they manage to wrestle the two boys apart.

Aine has tears in her eyes.

“What the fuck James!” she cries. “We won for gods sake! What are you doing?”

The boys both look terrible. They’re covered in mud and bruises, Albus has blood pouring down his face and James’ eyes is swelling up.

“LET THE FUCK GO OF ME FRED WEASLEY!” James shouts, and I’m scared by the anger in his voice.

I’ve never seen him like this, never. He always seems to hold himself together so well.

Albus just looks numb. “James, I’m sorry,” he says, and somehow I don’t think he’s talking about the Quidditch match anymore. “I’m sorry about what happened between us! But if we could just…”

“FUCK OFF ALBUS!” James shouts, and Fred grits his teeth, obviously having a hard time restraining him. “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY SIGHT! BECAUSE I CAN’T STAND TO LOOK AT YOU!”

Headmistress McGonagall comes running over, with surprising speed for a woman her age. Professor Smith and Professor Longbottom are not far behind her.

“What is going on here?” she barks, and her voice is deadly.

James makes another move as if to launch another attack on Albus, but Fred has too tight a grip on him.

McGonagall’s lips tighten. I wonder if she knows what is going on between the two brothers.

“Mr Potter,” she says, looking at Albus who is quickly losing a lot of blood. “Please go to the hospital wing. Professor Longbottom will escort you.”

Mickey lets go of Albus, who trudges desolately over to the professor, who puts a comforting arm around him.

I remember James telling me that his family and the Longbottom’s are close.

Speaking of James…

I look back at our famous Quidditch Captain to see James still staring at his younger brother with a venomous expression on his face.

McGonagall purses her lips. “As for you, Mr Potter,” she says, and I swear I see something in James’ expression crumble. “You will be coming with me, to my office.”

He nods. “Yes, Headmistress,” he mumbles, now just looking sad.

My heart is breaking for him, when it should be breaking for Albus. Whatever Albus did (because it can’t just have been the fact that he had a crush on his brother’s girlfriend, like Clementine seems to think) it must have been bad, because I have never seen someone looking as…lost as James looks right now.

He looks like he’s been broken, into a million tiny little pieces.

Fred lets go of his best friend, and pats him on the back gently. “You’ll be alright mate,” he mutters as James walks slowly towards McGonagall.

Over all, not the best end to a Quidditch game, I’d imagine.




Albus has been in the hospital wing for about a week, which puzzles both Aine and I.

His injuries didn’t seem that bad-nothing Madam Pomfrey couldn’t fix in a jiffy, anyway.

Aine reckons he’s in there because of ‘emotional scarring’ and I think she must be right.

James, meanwhile, is in disgrace. He has detention everyday for two weeks, and McGonagall wrote home to his parents. He also lost fifty house points for Gryffindor, which I think is what has upset him the most. James has a lot of house pride, and the loss of fifty points has meant that Slytherin has passed us in the running to win the house cup, something they haven’t done for about ten years.

It doesn’t help that Scorpius keeps ‘running into’ James, and thanking him for helping Slytherin to secure the top place. Whenever this happens, I can tell James is fighting the urge to give Scorpius a good punch. But apparently McGonagall warned him that if he got into one more fight, he’d be out of Hogwarts before he could say ‘gummy walnut’. 

Anyway, today is the first Hogsmeade trip of the year.

Aine and I were planning on going with James, Mickey and Fred, but as James has lost his Hogsmeade privileges and isn’t allowed to go, Mickey and Fred are staying behind to keep him company.

I would have happily stayed behind, as I’m not the worlds best shopper, but Aine insisted on dragging me along, so we join the twins in the courtyard where the students going to Hogsmeade are assembled and begin the journey.

The weather is quickly cooling down, and the air today is cold and sharp, making me glad that I’m wearing a thick fleece jacket.

Yes, the jacket is full of moth holes, and yes it actually belongs to my dad, but so what? It keeps me warm and that’s all I care about.

“You’re going to love Hogsmeade,” Aine enthuses as we march down the cold street. “There’s the best sweet shop-Honeydukes and an outlet of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.”

“And Madam Puddifoot’s is the best place for making out in,” Clementine sighs, and Aine and I look at each other. “James and Tori used to go there all the time.”

I sigh.

Great. Clearly Hogsmeade brings up yet more memories of the fantastic Tori.

Just when I thought people were starting to forget about her.

The narrow streets of Hogsmeade are crowded with students eager to get out of the castle, so Aine and the twins lead me into a small beauty shop where I am able to buy some of my own Sleakeazy’s Hair Potion and where Clementine and Lavender spend forever browsing the shelves of make up and beauty potions.

When we’re done in there, we go into Honeydukes, which is the best shop I’ve ever been in.

It’s an understatement to say I have a sweet tooth.

Seriously, I could live on chocolate if I had to.

And I finished off my emergency chocolate stash weeks and weeks ago, so I’m eager to buy more goodies.

I end up spending almost all the money in my purse on a large box of chocolate frogs and a little bag of chocolate coated salted caramels.

Then we head into the Three Broomsticks for lunch, and sit together at a small table in the corner.

The Three Broomsticks is an old pub and is a little stuffy, but it is crowded with chattering students.

As we wait for the waiter to come and take our orders, Clementine lets off a reminiscent sigh.

My immediate reaction is “Oh boy. Here we go.”

“This is the table we used to sit at when we came here with Tori,” she says, and I see Aine glancing at me out of the corner of my eye.

Lavender sighs as well. “We used to come here every Hogsmeade visit, and Tori would tell us all her secrets,” she says.

“Of course, we can’t tell you those secrets,” Clementine says sternly. “Those were reserved for me, Lavender and Rebecca of course.”

 I flare up at once, as I do every time Rebecca’s name is mentioned. “Oh, Rebecca used to come here, did she?” I say moodily.

Rebecca seems to spend most of her time studying quietly in the corner of the Gryffindor Common Room; glaring at any first year that makes too much noise. She opted out of coming to Hogsmeade today, probably because it reminds her too much of Tori.

The waiter comes round, sparing Clementine from answering my bratty question. The twins both order a salad, and Aine gets a shepherds pie, but I’m not very hungry (as I’ve already polished off several chocolate frogs) so I just get a butterbeer, which are apparently delicious.

When the waiter moves away, the twins look at me with these annoyingly knowing expressions on their faces.

“What?” I snap. “Is it against the law to order a butterbeer or something?”

“That’s what Tori always used to get,” Clementine says sadly. “Every time, never anything else.”

Aine stands up for me at once. “Just because Tori used to drink butterbeer, doesn’t meet no-one else can,” she says, flashing me a smile.

Clementine gives a watery smile. “I know,” she says. “It just brings up so many good memories of Tori, that’s all.”

As the twins suddenly launch into a big long story of the time Tori told them about how much James loved her, I find myself zoning out, not really wanting to hear anything more.

I’m beginning to wonder how everyone can have so many good memories of a girl who only went to their school for one year before she went missing.

I mean, I’ve practically been here for two months, and only a handful of students actually know my name. Even the teachers sometimes forget who I am, or compare me to Tori, which I find excruciatingly irritating.

It really makes you wonder what she must have done to become so well known in such a short time period.

The waiter brings our food around, and I begin to sip my large mug of butterbeer, listening to the dull voices of Clementine and Lavender as the continue to reminisce about all the good times the had with Tori and Rebecca, who seems a stick in the mud to me, but that’s just my opinion.

Tori threw parties, Tori made everyone laugh, Tori always looked perfect, Tori kept secrets, Tori was the best friend, Tori, Tori, Tori…

I bang my half drunken beerbutter on the table and the twins look at me in confusion.

It does taste good, that’s for sure, but I’m not in the mood for it.

I’m not in the mood for sitting in the exact spot Tori once sat in and listening to the twins rabbit on about her.

I’m sick of hearing about Tori fucking Heron.

“I’ve had enough,” I say firmly. “I’m going back to the castle. I’ve got…studying to do. I have a Care of Magical Creatures test tomorrow.”

Aine quickly shovels the last of her shepherd’s pie into her mouth. “I’m coming too,” she says, standing up.

Clementine frowns up at us. “But we’ve barely been out two hours.”

I shake my head. “I’m sorry Clementine,” I say. “But I’ll never be her. I’ll never be as good as Tori.”



“That’s not true you know,” says Aine, as we trudge alone together back up to the castle.

“What’s not true?” I ask tonelessly.

The twins have put me in a bad mood, and just after I’d started to get along with them, too.

“That you’ll never be as good as Tori,” Aine says softly. “You’re worth twice of her, Charlie.”

That’s nice of her to say, but I know it’s probably not true.

I’m just so…me.

I’m a lousy conversationalist and have zero personality. I mean…I’m not funny or sporty, I’m not popular or super smart, I’m not a sarcastic, witty or quirky and I’m certainly not romantic.

I’m just boring, bookish me.

I don’t say any of this, of course, because I don’t want to sound like a Moaning Myrtle.

Instead, I grin at her weekly. “You really shouldn’t say things like that about a girl who’s missing,” I say.

I know something is different when we arrive back at the Great Hall.

There is a crowd of students, the ones who didn’t go to Hogsmeade or have come back early, grouped around someone sitting in the middle of the hall.

As the crowd parts to make way for Aine and I, I realise the person they’re all standing around is Rebecca.

She’s sitting at a small table, and there is a large bucket full of shiny badges sitting next to her.

There’s also a badge pinned to her robes, a badge that reads: ‘FIND TORI’.

A tricky little charm has been performed on the badge so that it flashes between the words ‘FIND TORI’ and an image of Tori looking beautiful and staring down at the ground all hipster-ish and so on.

“What’s going on?” Aine asks, and I see that students are handing Rebecca five bronze knuts in an exchange for a badge.

“Tori has been sighted,” says Bethany Harevale, the third year girl from the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and my heart gives a funny sort of flutter. “Someone from the Ministry of Magic thinks they saw her in London.”

“You want a badge?” Rebecca asks suddenly, and I realise she’s talking to me. “You can have one for free if you want.” Her tone is not at all generous. It’s deadly, and she is barely able to hide the smirk on her face.

“No, we don’t want one, thanks,” says Aine, and begins to drag me away.

“Cat got your tongue, new girl?” says Rebecca meanly, and this time, she does not hold back the smirk. “I told you Tori would come back. Your time is almost up, new girl. Tori is back. And soon…soon you’ll be gone.”

I feel as though all the wind has been kicked out of me. Tori has been sighted…what if that means she really is coming back? What will happen to me then? I’ve started to enjoy my life here at Hogwarts. Sure, not all of it is fun, but I’ve developed some really good friends. But if Tori comes back…will they kick me out? Send me packing?” 

Aine and I move away from the crowd, Aine whispering frantically in my ear. “It was probably a false sighing,” she says. “Things like that happen all the time. Tori wasn’t in London, I bet you.”

I try to smile, but inside, I’m trembling. I know it’s incredibly selfish but…I don’t want Tori to come back. I don’t.

My heart stops when I suddenly see James up just ahead.

His eyes meet mine and he smiles at me, but that’s not what makes my heart stop.

It’s the badge he’s holding in his hand, uncertainly, but as though it’s a lifeline.

Great.

Victoria Heron is taking over my life again.

 






 
A/N: I know, I know, there wasn't really any Charlie/James time in this chapter, but I promise there will be plenty in Charlie's next chapter-TRUST ME!!

Anyway, what did you think of this chapter? What were you thinking when James decided to take all his anger out on Albus? Are the twins annoying you to pieces? And do you think Tori really was sighted in London?

Whatever you think, please remember to review and, if you have time, check out my other fanfic, In Shadows We Roam (gotta love self promotion, right?)

Courtney:)
 
 
 


Chapter 8: Tori
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Image by heartfelt. @TDA (previously phoenixn)

 

One year ago

Tori leaned against James, holding her drink in one hand. His arm was around her, tightened a little to keep her from toppling over.

He laughed at something Fred had said and grinned at Tori who smiled absently.

Tori wasn’t really listening.

She was watching Albus out of the corner of her eye. The way he held his drink uncomfortably, like he didn’t know what he was doing with it.

The way he kept shifting nervously, adjusting his glasses and looking around like he’d rather be anywhere else.

The way he laughed when Rose slapped him on the arm and teased him for being a nerd.

He suddenly turned and saw Tori staring at him. He grinned at her, and Tori felt her face flushing, something that never happened to her. She looked away, and pretended to listen to what James was saying.

Why couldn’t she get Albus out of her mind?

Of course, she could always go for him, if she wanted. He was hot, in a strange kind of way. Tori had never found boys like Albus hot before. She could get him, if she wanted to. She always got what she wanted, and Albus would be no different.

But she’d already gotten the ungettable. James-the guy who never dated, only had hook-ups with random girls.

Well, nearly got him, anyway.

Tonight was the night to seal the deal.

It was the whole reason she’d thrown this party down by the lake again.

“…do you think, Tori?” James asked suddenly, smiling down at her.

Tori blinked, realising he’d just asked her a question.

Fuck. She hadn’t been listening at all.

“Sorry, what?” she asked sweetly, shuffling closer to James. She could see Boring Becky and the twins looking at her expectantly.

They thought she and James were already a couple. She couldn’t fail to impress if she wanted to become the queen bee of the school.

“You weren’t listening to a word of what I just said, were you?” James said, and Tori was relieved that he was grinning.

She laughed airily. “Of course I was!” she said. “I’ve just…got other things on my mind.”

James gasped in mock horror. “Better things to do than listening to me? I’m shocked.”

Fred rolled his eyes. “Mate, you need to learn the definition of the word ‘modesty’. Incidentally, something you have none of.”

“Wow, Fred!” said Aine, who was sitting next to Mickey. The two of them kept looking at each other with these sickening little simpers. It made Tori want to puke. Why didn’t the two of them just get together and hook up already? They were her least favourite people at Hogwarts, at that made them perfect for each other. “Incidentally-that’s a big word, well done!”

Fred and James both laughed, and Tori glared at Aine.

She wasn’t funny at all.

She was nothing.

Just like everyone else here-Boring Becky, the twins, even James were nothing.

They were hers, hers for the taking.

Hers to get what she wanted.

Tori smiled at Aine. “You’re hilarious Aine,” she said, with a toss of her perfect blonde hair. “But if you don’t mind, James and I really need to go somewhere private. To talk.”

The twins suddenly giggled loudly, and Rebecca looked at her with big, stupid eyes. Fred wolf-whistled. “Go Jamesy!” he said. “Private time with blondey!”

James hit him. “Shut up, Fred,” he muttered, letting go of Tori’s arm.

She stood up and fluttered her eyelashes at him. “Please come with me, James,” she said, pouting. “It’s really important.”

To her relief, James grudgingly reached up and grabbed her hand.

Fred and Mickey laughed and whooped loudly, with cheers of “get it, Jamesy’ and so on. They were such immature little boys.

As she led James away from the party, Tori glanced back briefly.

Fred and Mickey were still laughing; the twins were giggling.

But Tori’s eyes went straight to Albus.

He was staring after them with a…wounded expression in his eyes.

Tori shook her head, and removed Albus from her thoughts. Then she and James walked in silence to the greenhouses, where they’d done it for the first time.

Once they were there, Tori leaned against one of the walls, as she had done that night, and tried to look worried.

James turned around to face her. He looked a little…irritated. That wasn’t good.

“What do you want, Tori?” he asked, exasperatedly.

Tori gave her signature look, the look that made boys want to kiss her.

It worked. The exasperation slid from James’ face-he carefully laid a hand on her jawbone and pulled her towards him.

He was a good kisser. He was hot, unbelievably hot. She should want this, more than anything.

But she didn’t.

Something kept niggling at the back of her mind, telling her this wasn’t right.

But she was determined to make this work, so she pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and kissed James harder, willing them to go away.

She unbuttoned his top button, and his grip on her waist tightened. She bit his lip and ran her hand up and down the hard muscles of his back.

Then suddenly, James pulled away, and looked down at her.

Tori stared up at him, with eyes as wide and innocent as she could make them.

“Tori…what’s wrong?” James asked, and his voice was husky…sexy.

Tori bit her lip. “I’m fine,” she said, in a voice as unconvincing as she could make it. A voice that was as fake as her long hair extensions.

James put his hands on her shoulders. He was taller than Albus, much taller. Almost too tall. Tori had to go onto tip-toes to kiss him.

Kissing Albus would be so much nicer…

“You’re not fine,” James said, and his voice was as serious as Tori had ever heard it. “So tell me what’s wrong. Please.”

Tori had to try very hard not to smile. Everything was working exactly as she had planned.

She always got her way…

“I just…I just don’t want you to think I’m a slut,” she said, her bottom lip trembling.

“I don’t,” said James, but Tori could tell her was lying. They’d done it on her first night here; of course he was going to think that.

But if this…relationship was going to go further, he had to look past that.

Or else Tori would look like a fool in front of the whole school.

“Yes, you do,” said Tori, trying to look like she was about to cry. Really, she was a sensational actress. Maybe she should think about getting into theatre…

“I know you do…and I…I mean…I’m not even your girlfriend!”

“Tori…”

James reached a hand out to her, but she brushed it away, shaking with fake tears. “I know what you must think of me! That I’m just a…a stupid little girl who likes to get around! But I’m not that girl James, I’m not…”

“Hey…hey,” James put his arms around her and pulled her close. Tori buried her face in his chest, hiccupping. “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think those things about you.”

Tori looked up at him, her face wet with tears. “You don’t?”

He shook his head. “No. And to prove it to you…Tori Heron, would you do me the honour of becoming my girlfriend?”

Tori hid a smirk. It had worked! He’d fallen for her master plot. How could he not know this was what she’d wanted all along?

“Really?” she snuffled.

He grinned, and nodded. “Really,” he said. “I’ve wanted to ask you since that first night. I just…I didn’t know if you felt the same way about me.”

Tori giggled and reached up to kiss him. “I love you, James Potter,” she whispered into his mouth.

“I love you too.”




They went back to the lake together, holding hands.


The party was still in full swing.

Tori immediately spotted Fred, dancing with some poor, frightened Hufflepuff girl-he was swinging her around and lifting her up like she was a rag doll.

Mickey and Aine were also dancing, but much more awkwardly, like they didn’t know how to act around each other.

Pathetic. Aine could use some lessons in love.

Some sixth year Ravenclaw boys had set up a makeshift beer pong table. Clementine and Lavender were playing as a team, and Tori noticed one, dark haired boy glancing at them so often in was embarrassingly obvious he was into them

And then, on the side of the lake was Albus.

With Rebecca.

Tori felt a surge of anger rushing up inside her chest.

What the fuck did Boring Becky think she was doing with Albus?

Tori tightened her grip on James’ hand, and he looked at her in concern. “You alright?”

Tori smiled at him tightly. “Fine,” she said. “I’m really thirsty though.”

James got the hint immediately. “I’ll go grab us some drinks,” he said, heading off and leaving Tori alone.

Thank god. She was over talking to him. All he ever went on about was Quidditch, which had to be the most boring thing on planet earth.

Tori stalked over to where Rebecca and Albus were sitting.

“Becky!” she said loudly, and with a happiness that was so clearly fake she was surprised Rebecca couldn’t see right through her.

But then again she didn’t seem to be the brightest, socially.

She’d probably never had a friend in her life.

Both Rebecca and Albus turned around. Tori blinked. “Oh, hello Albus!” she said, as though she hadn’t seen him there. “Long time, no see.”

Rebecca frowned. “How do you two know each other?”

“We met in the library,” said Albus, smiling at Tori.

She laughed--this time, it wasn’t a fake one. “Don’t you mean, I walked right into you and knocked you to the ground?”

Albus grinned, his bright green eyes shining. “Have you knocked anymore poor, unsuspecting students to the floor recently?” he asked. “Or have you learnt to watch where you’re going?”

“Hey, you can’t blame this all on me!” said Tori. “Someone needs to learn to carry less books around with him.”

Albus snorted. “What are you trying to say there, Barbie?” he asked. “That I’m too nerdy for my own good, perhaps? I get that a lot, you know.”

Tori. “I also happen to get called Barbie a lot,” she said. “Though I can’t imagine why…”

“Maybe it’s something to do with your stunning good looks and general attractiveness?” suggested Albus, flushing slightly.

Tori smiled at him.

He’d pretty much just told her that he found her attractive!

Which wasn’t that weird, really.

Every guy who wasn’t blind or stupid found her attractive. And why wouldn’t they? She had the sex appeal of a super model.

Rebecca on the other hand…

“How do you know Albus, Becky?” she asked, acting as though she’d come over here to talk to Rebecca, not Albus, her boyfriends younger brother.

“Chess club,” said Rebecca, looking embarrassed.

Tori raised her eyebrows. “Seriously? Chess club?”

“Don’t mock,” said Albus seriously, but there was a smile playing at the edge of his lips. “Wizard’s chess is a very manly sport.”

Tori snorted. “I wasn’t mocking,” she said. “I was just…surprised this crappy school even has a chess club.”

“Tori?”

Tori turned, still smiling, to see James coming towards her with two cups of Firewhiskey.

“What are you doing here? I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” His gaze fell on his brother, and his smile fell slightly.

Tori suddenly remembered him accusing her of flirting with Albus, when she’d first met him in the library.

She grabbed a Firewhiskey from James. “I came over to talk to Becky,” she said, smiling at her. “I needed some time with my bestie.”

Rebecca blushed, and hid behind her fringe.

She seriously needed to get rid of that-it made her look like some kind of goth vampire chick.

“Oh,” said James, as Tori took a large sip of her drink. “Right.”

Albus grinned at his brother. “Do we still have Quidditch practise tomorrow morning?” he asked, as James took a large chug of Firewhiskey. “You’re not going to be too hungover?”

“Me? Hungover? Are you calling me a lightweight, Al?”

Al.

The nickname suited Albus, Tori thought. And Albus was a dreadfully old fashioned name.

Albus grinned. “First match of the season is coming up-against Slytherin. Aren’t you worried?”

“Nah. Our team is awesome. Especially you, little brother.” He reached forward to ruffle Albus’ hair, but Albus managed to duck.

Tori laced her fingers through James’ hand.

Albus noticed. His mouth hardened.

He likes me, Tori thought, he likes me.

Not that she cared.

Tonight, she had gotten the boy that every girl wanted, the boy that every girl would kill for.

It didn’t matter that she felt nothing towards him, nothing romantically at least. They had sexual tension, obviously, but he was hot and she was hot, so that was a given.

All that mattered was that tonight, Tori had become the girl everyone wanted to be.




Within the week, everyone knew that Tori Heron and James Potter were the power couple of the school.

Everywhere she went, Tori could feel eyes on her. Girls looked at her with jealous expressions, boys wolf-whistled.

She absolutely loved the feeling.

Whenever she was with Rebecca, she went on and on about how much James loved her, about how they were going to be together forever.

This was a lie of course.

Tori actually avoided spending too much time with James, because when she was with him, he wanted to talk, and Tori could never find the right words to say.

The words that would make him believe she was in love with him, just like he was in love with her.

All they had was sexual chemistry, nothing more.

But James couldn’t know that, or she’d be back to square one.

Back to being the new girl no-one knew and no-one cared about.

Each night in the common room, when everyone was watching, Tori would curl up next to James on one of the armchairs in front of the fire. He’d draw patterns on her back with his finger, and she’d slip her hand inside his shirt.

Sometimes, usually when Rebecca was staring at them like she’d never seen people before, Tori would reach up and kiss James firmly on the lips.

He’d always respond by opening his mouth and letting her in.

And whenever she kissed him, Tori closed her eyes and thought of someone else.

Of Albus.

Of what it would be like to feel his warm arms around her, to feel his mouth on her.

She just couldn’t get him out of her head.

It was driving her insane.

The next Sunday night, when the boys were all down at Quidditch training, and Tori was bored of talking to Rebecca, she decided to go to the library, to finish an essay for Professor Smith.

After her first disastrous Transfiguration lesson, Smith had decided to hold a grudge against her, had deducted at least fifty points and had given her two detentions for arriving in class five minutes late.

The last detention had been spreading manure in Greenhouse One, and had been a disgusting experience. Tori had ended up with dirt and grime underneath her perfect fingernails-she didn’t want to go through that again, so she figured she might as well complete the damn essay, while James wasn’t there to show off with.

Once she’d reached the quiet, muffled atmosphere of the library, Tori sat down at the table she’d first talked with Albus at, and tried not to inhale through her nose to much.

She grabbed a piece of parchment out of her handbag, and began to write in very large loopy handwriting, dotting each of her ‘i’s’ with a little heart.

“Well, this is the weirdest thing I have seen all day.”

Tori looked up to see Albus looking down at her. He was still wearing his Quidditch robes, and his usually flat hair was windswept

It made him look sexy.

She smiled at him. “Is a girl not allowed to do her homework in peace?” she asked. Albus didn’t smile, which confused her.

Usually he smiled at everything she said.

“That’s not the weirdest part,” said Albus. He didn’t sit down, just kept standing there, looking at her with a strange expression in his gorgeous green eyes.

Green eyes were so much more interesting that James’ brown ones.

“I’m surprised to see you here…alone. Usually you’re surrounded by people. You’re hard to talk to.”

“You can come and talk to me whenever you want, Albus. I’ve missed you.”

“Since when have you been dating my brother?”

His question took Tori by surprise. “What?”

“I saw you holding hands at the party last week, Tori,” Albus said stiffly. He wasn’t smiling. “Were either of you ever going to tell me?”

No.

Tori gulped, feeling uncharacteristically nervous. She shouldn’t care that Albus knew she and James were dating…but she did. “I…I didn’t think you’d care,” she said quietly.

Albus shrugged, looking faintly pissed off.

God he looked hot when he was pissed.

“I don’t care.”

Tori smiled, and leaned a little closer to him. “Are you sure about that?” she whispered. “You’re not…jealous?”

“And why the fuck would I be jealous, Tori?” Albus asked.

He was definitely pissed off now. Oh, he was totally not jealous.

“You want me.”

Albus laughed. It was a cold, harsh laugh, not at all his usual warm one that made Tori’s heart flutter like a little girl. “You’re full of shit, Tori,” he said. “You think that…that just because you’re good looking everyone wants to be with you. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. You’re just a slutty bitch who needs a good kick in the fucking stomach.”

Tori stared at him. His words stung, more than they should.

But he was right.

Everything he was saying was right.

“Albus…”

“JUST STOP TALKING!” Albus shouted, completely losing it. “FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE…”

“OUT!” Madam Pince suddenly shouted, hurrying over and brandishing her wand furiously at Albus. “OUT! Look at all that mud, boy! Do you want to befoul the library…”

“I’m going,” said Albus, giving Tori one last, almost searching look. Then he turned around and stalked out, leaving muddy footprints all over the ground.

Tori stared after him,

She could go after him…apologise.

But then what? What would she say? That she didn’t like James, she was just using him to get what she wanted? That she really liked him, but didn’t want to risk her social status?

It would just confirm everything Albus had just said about her. That she was a slutty bitch.

Look at this mud!” hissed Madam Pince furiously, glowering at Tori like it was all her fault. She bustled away, muttering savagely under her breath about disrespectful students.

Tori closed her eyes and shut her books. She couldn’t concentrate anymore. If Albus was back from Quidditch, that meant James was too.

Maybe a good, long snog session would cheer her up, even if it was with the boy she didn’t love at all.




“Are you going to Hogsmeade this weekend?” Tori asked Rebecca, pinning photos from the last party at the lake up onto her walls.

They were sitting alone together in the dormitory-Rebecca was reading, as usual-something thick and boring for History of Magic.

Tori really wasn’t sure how she felt about Rebecca. She pretended to like her, pretended to be her best friend when really she found her rather dull.

Ever since she’d been hanging out with Tori, Rebecca had started to get more attention from the male population at Hogwarts, which really irritated Tori. Rebecca was pretty, she had to give her that, but she wasn’t as pretty as Tori, and she always hid behind those dreadful black bangs.

Anyway, no-one seemed to notice that the only reason Rebecca was getting attention was entirely because of Tori. Lately she’d had more confidence, sure, but she never talked in big groups and blushed and stammered whenever a good looking guy talked to her.

“I don’t know,” Boring Becky said, as Tori stopped to stare at a photo of her and James. James had his arms around her waist. She was looking in the other direction, laughing at something Albus had just said.

She didn’t like it. Her real laugh made her mouth look big and ugly.

She pinned it just above the bed, so that you could barely see it at all.

“You should come,” said Tori, smiling at Rebecca. “I need someone to show me around-I’m new, remember?”

Rebecca laughed. “It’s hard to remember you’ve only been here for a month, sometimes,” she said. “Everyone already knows your name-most people have no idea who I am.”

Tori looked at her sternly. “That’s because you don’t get out enough, Becky,” she said. “But I’m your best friend now. People are going to start noticing you, okay? So: are you coming to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?”

Rebecca smiled. Tori was jealous at how pretty it made her look. “Okay,” she said. “Yes, I’ll come.”




Tori and Rebecca wandered around the streets of Hogsmeade which were, in Tori’s opinion, boring and drab.

“Is there nothing good to see here?” Tori asked, pulling her expensive fur coat closer. It was only October, but it was freezing.

Boring Becky frowned at her. “You don’t like it?”

Tori rolled her eyes. “Are you serious? This is the shittiest place for shopping I’ve ever been to. And I’m about to freeze my ass off.”

Rebecca pointed to a small building on the corner of the block. “We could go into the Three Broomsticks for lunch?” she suggested nervously, as though worried Tori was going to shut down this idea, too.

Tori wrinkled up her nose. “Whatever gets us out of this shitty weather,” she said, grabbing Rebecca’s thin arm and heading towards the little pub.

Inside it was warm, and there were several fires lit in their grates. Tori headed at once to a small table in the corner, where she could eyestalk the cute bartender from. Rebecca sat down beside her and Tori unbuttoned her coat.

An unattractive waiter came round with menus and Tori studied it disapprovingly. “Is there nothing on this menu that isn’t full of carbohydrates and won’t make you fat?” she asked, as Rebecca ordered fish and chips.

The waiter looked at her in disdain. “Are you going to order, ma’am?” he asked lazily.

Tori gave him a look, and flicked open her menu. She ended up ordering a butterbeer, which Rebecca told her were fantastic. She would’ve ordered firewhiskey, but she was underage, and the waiter looked cranky.

Then again, Rebecca was ordering a plate full of fat and grease, so what did she know?”

“Tori!”

Tori looked around, and groaned.

The twins were rushing towards her, both clutching large handbags and wearing matching beanies.

“We wondered if we’d see you here!” said Clementine, sitting down and beaming at her.

Gorgeous coat, by the way,” sighed Lavender, sitting next to her sister.

Tori smiled. “Thank you,” she said with a girlish giggle. “I was just telling Becky here that James and I are madly in love.”

Rebecca frowned. “No you…OW!” she shrieked, as Tori stamped on her foot and shot her a glare.

Clementine sighed, as the waiter brought out Rebecca’s fish and chips and Tori’s butterbeer. “That is so adorable!” she said.

“You two make the perfect couple,” Lavender added, nodding serenely.

Tori giggled again, and took sip of her butterbeer.

Urgh. It was disgusting. All foamy and far to rich. She put it down.

“That’s good that everything is great with you guys,” said Rebecca, popping a chip into her mouth and giving Tori a strange look.

“It is good,” agreed Tori. “We’re getting pretty serious. I’m a little worried he likes me too much.”

Lie.

Tori often did this with Rebecca. She would sit down and brag to her, making her relationship with James sound perfect, and the rest of her life enviable.

She would never dream of telling Rebecca that she had terrible, terrible experiences in her past-mistakes that had ruined her life, mistakes that had brought her here…

At that moment, the door of the Three Broomsticks swung open, and a gust of cold wind blew in.

Tori shivered, and glared at the person who was coming in the door-it was Albus, wearing a furry beanie. He was with his cousin, Rose.

Tori felt her heart thudding in her chest.

She watched as Albus and Rose chose a table on the other side of the room, and began to talk.

Albus didn’t even see her there.

Clementine and Lavender were now gossiping about a Ravenclaw boy Clementine liked, but Tori didn’t really hear them.

She was too busy watching the way Albus’ eyes lit up when he talked.

“Are you alright, Tori?” Rebecca asked, and Tori was forced to look away from Albus’ table. “You look odd.”

“I’m fine,” said Tori, a little more sharply than she had intended.

Rebecca blushed, and went back to cutting up her fish. In turn, Tori went back to watching Albus…

He had gone.

Rose was now sitting alone at the table, looking around absent-mindedly. Tori scanned the pub and immediately saw Albus going up the stairs that led to the boys bathroom.

She stood up immediately, without realising what she was doing.

“Where are you going?” one of the twins asked, as she began to leave.

“Bathroom,” she murmured, and began to follow Albus up the stairs.

Tori hesitated outside of the boy’s bathroom for only a fraction of a second before pushing the door open.

Her heels clicked on the hard floor as she walked in, and Albus turned around immediately.

The moment he saw her, he froze.

Tori smiled at him. “Hey Al,” she said, using James’ nickname for his younger brother, in order to lighten him up.

“What the hell are you doing in here, Tori?”

“Would it be obvious I was lying if I told you I needed to use the bathroom?”

Albus’ eyes twinkled, and Tori could tell her was hiding a smile. “Fairly obvious, yes.”

Tori took a step towards him, and was glad that Albus didn’t move away. “I need to talk to you.”

“Why?”

She took a deep breath. Why did she want to talk to him?

“Because I needed to hear your voice.”

It came out of nowhere. She couldn’t take it back. And she didn’t want to. Albus needed to know.

“Why?” he asked neutrally. His expression didn’t change.

Tori was very close to him now. Her heart was pounding loudly and she hoped Albus couldn’t hear. “I like you,” she whispered.

Albus didn’t say anything. He just looked at her.

Tori took this as a good sign.

Slowly, impossibly slowly, Tori reached up on tip toes and kissed him gently on the mouth, her hands placed softly on his back, as though she was afraid to touch him. She, Tori Heron, who wasn’t afraid of anything.

She liked him too much, that was the problem. So if he…if he didn’t like her back, it would hurt.

It would hurt more than anything Tori had ever experienced.  

She pulled away, and looked up at him, letting out a shaky breath.

She knew immediately he wasn’t going to kiss her back.

Feeling like the worlds biggest idiot, she took a step back.

“Tori, I…”

Tori held up a hand, trying to fight back the tears that were threatening to leak out of her eyes. “It doesn’t matter, Albus,” she said softly. “I get it. I heard what you said in the library the other day.”

She turned and walked towards the door.

I will not cry, she thought, I will not cry in front of Albus Potter.

Albus got to the door before her, blocking her way.

“I wish I hadn’t said those things in the library,” he said quietly, and Tori looked up at him desperately. “I was…angry. Angry about you and James. And maybe a little jealous.”

Tori stared at him. “Jealous?”

His cheeks went red, and he adjusted his glasses, looking down at his feet. “I like you too, Tori,” he mumbled, going even redder.

If anything, this made Tori want to cry even harder-out of desperation or happiness, she couldn’t quite tell.

“Then why…why won’t you…”

Albus let out a choked laugh. “It would be wrong Tori!” he said, staring straight at her with sincere green eyes. “You have a boyfriend-my brother for Christ’s sake! Plus, you’re older and…”

“I don’t care about any of that!” Tori insisted, and she realised she was gripping the front of Albus’ cloak. She quickly let go, embarrassed at how pathetic she must seem. “I just want you.”

“Then why are you with James?”

Tori didn’t answer. Couldn’t. because anything that came out would sound wrong.

He knows, was all she could think, he knows why I’m with him.

Albus shook his head. “If you can’t answer that question, then I can’t…I can’t do this.”

“Al…”

Albus shook his head. “Goodbye, Tori,” he said.

He opened the door and exited the bathroom, walking back down the stairs, towards the pub full of happy, laughing Hogwarts students.

Leaving Tori all alone, in the boy’s bathroom.

She felt numb with shock.

Never, never in her life had she been rejected.

Never had she felt as bad as she did then.

Slowly, she slid against the wall and sat down, her legs pulled up against her chest.

Then, she let the tears fall.




A/N: Greetings! Sorry for the slightly longer wait than usual, I've been busy with exams but it's the holidays now, so I should be able to update more often! I'm not sure how I feel about this chapter. I think it's a little choppy in places, but other than that, I like it. I'd love to know what you think though!

Do you prefer James/Tori or Albus/Tori? What about James/Charlie or James/Tori?

If you have any questions, please feel free to post on my new Meet the Author Page! I'd love to hear from you guys.

Courtney:)


Chapter 9: Me
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Image by heartfelt. @TDA

 
Rebecca’s ‘FIND TORI’ badges are a huge success.

I swear every single person in the school is wearing one-everyone except me and Aine that is.

It’s not that I have a problem with the badges…it’s more the fact that they remind me that as soon as Tori comes back, I’ll be gone, as Rebecca so kindly keeps reminding me.

Rebecca seems to be everywhere at the moment-in the Great Hall selling yet more badges, following me around the grounds to tell me Tori will be back soon and glaring at me from her bed in the common room, like I’ve just opened a can of smelly tuna.

Gross. Fish is disgusting, especially the canned stuff.

Anyway, it’s like having an extremely rude shadow.

I think Aine sense what I feel whenever someone flashes a ‘FIND TORI’ badge in my face.

“No-one saw her, Charlie,” she’s constantly reminding me, with an encouraging smile. “And even if she does come back-which is unlikely-that doesn’t mean you have to go! I’m sure they’ll let you stay here for the rest of the year.”

I snort loudly. “Oh yeah, because that’s going to be fun,” I say sarcastically. “Sharing my dorm with psychotic Rebecca and her perfect best friend…”

Aine gives me a soothing look. “You have nothing to worry about,” she says, before dashing off to Charms class.

I roll my eyes, and look at my watch.

Yes, I have a watch. What’s wrong with watches?

Merlin, everyone is so judgemental!

I swear loudly and a titchy first year who happens to be passing stares at me in fright.

Oops.

I give her a friendly smile, but she just looks at me like I’m the big bad wolf and scampers off like one of the three little piggies.

What? Mum used to read me Muggle fairytales when I was little.

As I’ve mentioned before, Muggle kids stuff is so much better than the wizarding stuff. Have you read Tales of Beedle the Bard? Scary stuff…

Anyway, if I don’t get my A into G, I’m going to be seriously late for Divination, and Professor Moon will have a fit.

For a dreamy woman, she sure knows how to throw a tantrum.

I hurry up several flights of stairs to the Divination tower. The bell rings as I run, red faced and sweaty down a deserted corridor.

Hmm. Red faced and sweaty from a little bit of exercise. Clearly I am very unfit, I should look into that.

Or maybe I should cut back on the chocolate.

Pfft. Who am I kidding? Chocolate is the only thing that gets me going.

The final bell rings just as I skid into class, and hurry over to my seat, trying to act like I don’t notice the many faces glaring at me, the ‘FIND TORI’ badges shining everywhere I look.

I sit down, dump my bags and look at James, who’s grinning at me with raised eyebrows.

“What?” I huff, still exhausted from my run.

If you’re laughing at me right now, you clearly haven’t been to Hogwarts-it’s huge. And when you’re late to class, it’s like running around a Quidditch pitch several times.

Which I wouldn’t know, because I’m never late to class.

And I don’t play Quidditch, so I haven’t had the unfortunate experience of Quidditch training.

James is a mean captain-I always hear Fred and Mickey complaining about it.

Anyways…

“You’re very almost late,” James observes, still grinning.

I scowl at him. “You can’t really talk,” I point out. “As you’re late to almost all of your classes, every single day.”

“True. But it’s much more fun laughing at other people who are late. Especially you.”

I glare at him. “Me? Why me?”

“Because you’re such a perfect student.”

I feel my cheeks going red, and cringe.

Perfect. He just called me perfect!

Alright, he called me a perfect student, but what’s the difference, really?

“Today we will be moving on to the complicated theory of reading minds,” comes Professor Moon’s dreamy voice from the front of the class, and both James and I turn our attention to her.

Today she is dressed in turquoise coloured robes, is wearing an orange and purple head scarf and peacock feather earrings.

I won’t be taking style tips off her any time soon.

Not that I can talk, because I have as much style as a raccoon.

Just to clear up any confusion: raccoons don’t have an ounce of style, so therefore, neither do I.

“…turn to page 264 of your books and read the chapter entitled ‘The Sight’ in silence,” Professor Moon continues, and there is the sound of flicking pages as the class turns to the correct chapter.

I sigh, and open up my own book, staring down at the dull pages.

The author, Sybill Trelawney apparently used to teach at this school. James told me his dad had her as a teacher, and said she was a right loony. Which sounds about right, because her book is an utter load of crap.

Not to be rude or anything.

I realise I’ve been staring at the same word for several minutes, so I attempt to focus and read properly.

Nope, not working. This book is impossible to concentrate on. I slowly feel my attention drifting out the window…

Halloween is coming, and I can see the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, Hagrid, hauling several large pumpkins into the castle.

“Charlie!” James hisses, nudging a piece of paper on our table, which he’s torn from the corner of his book.

Naughty, naughty James. Madam Pince wouldn’t be impressed with you.

I glance down at the note. There is one sentence written on it, in James’ extremely untidy handwriting.

What is it with boys and not being able to write nicely?

I pick up the note and squint at it, trying to make out what it reads.

It’s impossible.

James rolls his eyes, and snatches the note off me. “Are you going to the Halloween ball?” he whispers.

I frown.

Halloween ball?

Halloween is in two days time, and I have not heard a single mention of a ball.

“There’s a Halloween ball?” I ask quietly back.

He grins and nods. “There’s one every year, for fourth years and up. Are you going?”

I shake my head fervently. “No way!” I whisper. “That sounds like my worst nightmare. Far too many people for my liking…”

James rolls his eyes. “You’re not that bad around big groups of people you know.”

I give him a look.

I’m terrible around large groups, and he knows it. The only times I actually talk are when there are four people with me or less. Otherwise I get all red and flustered and never know what to say.

James chuckles, and the girl sitting closest to us gives him a glare.

She’s wearing a big shiny ‘FIND TORI’ badge. I doubt Tori even knew her, she’s not from Gryffindor.

Then again, Tori seemed to be friends with the whole Hogwarts population, so what would I know?

“Come on Charlie!” James whispers. “It will be fun. Everyone dresses up as their favourite Halloween character, and there’s always amazing food…”

I sigh, and cross my arms over my chest. “Balls really aren’t my thing, James,” I say. “Anyway, I’ve got no-one to go with.”

“Go with me,” James says.

I gape at him.

Did he…did he really just suggest that we go to the ball together?

Like…as a couple?

Is he finally over Tori?

“As friends,” James adds, and my heart sinks.

My face must show what I’m thinking, but luckily James takes my expression for reluctance, rather than disappointment. “Please Charlie!” he says, doing these goofy puppy dog eyes, that make him look like an idiot.

A very, very good looking idiot.

“For me? Mickey’s going with Aine and Fred’s invited some Hufflepuff girl. I don’t want to be the only one without a date, I’ll get mocked!”

I sigh. “Fine,” I say, against my better judgement. “But there had better be chocolate there, or I’m not going to be impressed.”

“YES!” says James loudly, forgetting we’re supposed to be whispering.

Every member of the class turns around, including Clementine and Lavender (who still disapprove of me sitting with James. Ooh-what are they going to think about us going to the ball together? As friends, of course.) Professor Moon stalks towards us, looking irritable.

“MR POTTER!” she says loudly.

“Can I help you Professor?”

“I told you to read in silence!” Professor Moon hisses, her eyes wide and scary. I’m impressed when James doesn’t so much as flinch.

“Oops,” says James. “I forgot.”

Professor Moon glares at him, then her eye catches the piece of paper James ripped from his Divination book. Her eyes go as wide as two golden galleons, and she snatches the book off the table. “RUINING SCHOOL PROPERTY!” she hollers, sounding almost as crazy as Madam Pince when I gave her back a book with a chocolate stain on in.

“It isn’t school property,” James says happily. “It’s mine. I brought it at Diagon Alley.”

Professor Moon glares at him, and slams the book back down on his table. “Five points from Gryffindor!” she says, then turns to the rest of the class. “Well? What are you all staring at? Back to work, all of you!”

Sheesh! That woman’s moods change as fast as a goldfish on steroids.




I almost immediately regret my rash decision to accompany James (as friends) to the Halloween Ball.


When I go up to the dormitory that night, Aine and the twins are already there, excitedly discussing their plans for the big night.

“I have the perfect costume!” enthuses Aine, sounding more girly than I’ve ever heard her. “My folks are sending it up tomorrow.”

“James invited me to the Ball today,” I say vaguely, as I flop down onto my bed. Bernard immediately pokes his head out from under the duvet and crawls onto my lap. He’s so fat, he’s like a mini heater.

Aine, Clementine and Lavender all turn round to stare at me with bewildered expressions on their faces.

Clementine and Lavender look at each other.

God, will they ever stop doing that? It’s like they need each others permission to talk!

“James asked you to the ball?” Clementine asks, sounding disbelieving.

Which is quite rude actually. I mean, I’m perfectly okay to ask to a ball! It’s not like I’ve got rabies or anything-and that’s always a bonus, right?

“James asked you?” she continues. “James Potter?”

“Well, I don’t know any other James’,” I say irritably.

Clementine looks at me with big, stupid eyes. “But…James and Tori are in love,” she says, for what must be the millionth time. “You can’t just go stealing Tori’s boyfriend.”

“Tori and James went to the last Halloween Ball together,” agrees Lavender. “And if she was here now, they’d go together again.”

“Yeah well, she’s not here,” I say. “James asked me and I said yes. That’s all there is to it. If Tori wanted to go to the ball with James so badly, she’d be here, wouldn’t she?”

Okay, that was probably a bit mean, considering the girl is missing, but the twins really get on my nerves sometimes, with the stupid things they say.

“But they’re in love,” Lavender says slowly, echoing her equally stupid twin sister.

“Charlie can go to the ball with whoever she wants,” says Aine, coming over to sit on the edge of my bed. Bernard stumbles over to her on bandy legs, and she rubs him between the ears. 

“We’re only going as friends, anyway,” I admit, trying to sound casual. I don’t want anyone, especially the twins, to realise I may have an itsy bitsy little crush on the missing girl’s boyfriend.

Aine gives me a look that is all too knowing

I still reckon there’s a possibility she’s a seer.

Which would be why she doesn’t take Divination, because she doesn’t need to.

Or just because the subject’s rubbish, and is not helpful at all for any future career that’s worth doing. 

That probably seems more likely.

“Robbie asked me a whole week ago,” Clementine sighs dreamily, referring to her Ravenclaw boyfriend. You know, the one that refused to pass me a watering can in Herbology.

He doesn’t seem the brightest grape in the bunch.

“Who are you going with?” I ask Lavender.

“Robbie set her up with one of his Ravenclaw friends,” Clementine replies for her, as she often does. “Robbie and I are colour co-ordinating.”

I suddenly realise I don’t have a single item of clothing to wear to the ball! I’m really not a dressing up type of person-my wardrobe consists of jeans, trackpants, baggy t-shirts and lumpy jumpers.

I point out my conundrum to Aine.

“You could write home and ask your Mum to send you something,” she suggests.

Not a bad idea, except there are only two days till the ball, and that doesn’t give me a lot of time.

“Or…” says Aine, grinning slyly. “I could always make you something.”

Aine loves designing clothes. She’s got a Muggle-made sewing machine in the corner of her room, and knows more fashion spells than anyone I’ve ever met.

However, her homemade outfits always look very…quirky, to put it politely.

“Erm, no thanks, that’s okay,” I say quickly. “I’ll write home tonight.”




The day of Halloween Ball soon arrives, and I still don’t have my costume!

I wrote home, just like Aine suggested, but I haven’t got any response, so I’m not even sure mum got my owl!

Thinking back on it, I probably should have chosen a healthier owl.

The one I tied my short note to was frail and old and looked like it was about to kark it.

Nice going, Charlie.

The delivery to my house will probably kill the poor creature.

I hope it had a nice life, delivering letters.

I wouldn’t like to be an owl, far too much flying around for my liking, and I’m scared of heights.

Anyway, when Aine and I go down to the Great Hall on the morning of Halloween, I can smell the delicious scent of pumpkins roasting.

“There was this amazing pumpkin pie at the Ball last year,” Fred enthuses, as Aine and I sit down with the gang.

FYI, the gang consists of me, Aine, Fred, James and Mickey. I’ve decided to call us ‘the gang’ because all of our names put together are too long.

Fred has a stack of toast the height of the Eiffel Tower on his plate, and as he speaks, flecks of bread fly from his mouth and splatter the poor girl sitting next to him.

She gives him a look of disgust, and shuffles as far away from him as possible.

“Do you care about anything that isn’t food, Fred?” Aine asks, helping herself to a bowl of porridge.

“Of course I do!” says Fred, pretending to look hurt.

Mickey snorts. “Like what? Girls and snogging?”

Fred looks at him very seriously. “Two of the most important things in this universe. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my time. Except maybe drinking Firewhiskey.”

James and Mickey chuckle, and Aine rolls her eyes. “I don’t know how you managed to get a date for the ball, Fred,” she said. “You are the most immature weirdo that I know.”

“Not like me, eh Aine?” says Mickey, planting a kiss on the top of her head.

“I take offence to that!” says Fred, putting a hand over his heart. There is jam smeared all around his mouth. “The girls adore me, Aine! And what’s not to love?”

Aine, Fred and Mickey get into a playful argument about Fred’s ‘amazing’ qualities, and James grins at me.

“Looking forward to the ball?” he asks.

I groan. “I don’t even have a costume yet!”

He shrugs. “I don’t care. You can go in jeans and that big ugly jumper you have if you really want to.”

“Did you just call my jumper ugly?”

He’s talking about the one that belongs to my dad, the one with moth holes in it.

“Charlie, it’s ancient!” James grins. “But if you like it, I’m fine with it.”

I snort. “Because you’re totally the most fashionable guy in Hogwarts.”

Fred laughs, hearing our conversation. “Trust me Charlie, James has no fashion sense whatsoever. His pyjamas have little teddy bears on them.”

James pushes his shoulder. “I do not Fred, you liar!” he says, but his face has gone a bit pink.

I take a bite into my toast, so that I don’t laugh.

Now I’m imagining James covered in little brown bears…an interesting look, I’m telling you.

It’s nice that he said he wouldn’t mind if I turned up to the ball in my daggy jumper and jeans, but I definitely can’t do that.

Now that everyone’s wearing ‘FIND TORI’ badges, people have started noticing me, and not in a good way, either.

Sometimes, when I’m walking down a corridor or out over the Hogwarts grounds to get to class, I’ll hear people looking at me, whispering and pointing.

They all know who I am now.

They don’t know my name, but they know who I am: Tori Heron’s replacement, the girl who everyone wants to come back.

If I wore jeans to the Halloween Ball, I’d just get stared at even more, and I absolutely hate being stared at.

It makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me.

Once, I was in a café with mum, and I went to the bathroom.

When I came out of the bathroom, every single person in the café was staring at me. I got back to my table and mum told me the denim skirt I was wearing was tucked into my underwear.

God, it was so humiliating.

I seriously wanted to dig myself a hole in the ground and pile a mound of dirt over my head so that no-one could ever see me again.

Anyway, that’s probably where my fear of being stared at comes from.

Which is why I have to source a costume for the Halloween Ball tonight…




When I get back to the dormitory after classes that afternoon, I am in despair.

The ball starts in less that four hours and I still don’t have anything to wear.

Merlin, I sound like such a girly girl.

I don’t usually care about clothes-usually I just throw on the first thing that I can find, even if it has a chocolate stain the size of Alaska on it.

I storm right over to my suitcase, and begin pulling items of clothing out at random, not even noticing that Rebecca is sitting on her bed, staring at me with that sullen look of hers.

“You’re going to the ball with James,” she says suddenly, making me jump out of my skin in fright.

“You heard,” I say, not even turning around to look at her.

I don’t want to see that horrible, violent expression in her eyes.

“Everyone has heard,” she says in a flat, dull voice. “James is Tori’s boyfriend. No-one can figure out why he asked you.”

I throw the t-shirt I’m holding back down into the suitcase, and turn around to glare at her. “Oh yeah?” I say, my voice rising an octave. “Maybe if they want to know so much, they should ask him. Anyway, it’s not like we’re dating or whatever. We’re going as friends.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to say this now.

And it’s killing me.

“Oh,” says Rebecca, and she seems surprised.

“Yeah,” I say angrily, turning back to my mish mash of clothes. Maybe I could just ask Clementine or Lavender if I could borrow something…I’m sure they’ve got plenty of dresses…but they’re both a lot smaller than me…

“You need a costume?”

I turn around in surprise. “What?”

Rebecca bites her lip, and puts the book she is holding down. She looks dreadful-mascara and eyeliner smudged all around her eyes, tangled black hair and pale skin. “I might have something you can use,” she says, getting off her bed.

I stare at her, as she opens a box I’ve never seen from under her bed.

I must have heard her wrong. Did she just ask if I, me, Tori’s replacement, needed a costume?

She pulls out a folded dress-it’s bright red.

“What’s that?” I ask stupidly.

She hands it to me, smiling an odd sort of smile. It doesn’t seem to fit her face…or maybe that’s just because I’ve rarely even seen her smiling. She seems to go round in a gloomy sort of grump most of the time.

“It’s a Halloween Ball costume,” Rebecca says, as I warily take the dress from her. Is this some kind of trick? Why is Rebecca, my bitchy roommate being so nice to me all of a sudden? “There are some accessories to go with it,” she continues, digging around in the box and taking out a pitch fork, spiked tail and devils horns.

Rebecca’s got a devil’s costume.

Ha ha. That makes sense, as she’s pretty much a devil incarnate.

“Why are you giving this to me?” I ask dully, as she piles the accessories in my arms. Maybe I had been wrong about Rebecca. Maybe she wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe…maybe she’d just lashed out at me because of her grief, and was now trying to make up for it…

“I’m not going to the Ball this year,” Rebecca says, her face as pale as I’ve ever seen it as she goes back to her bed and sits down. “And I think it will look good on you.”

I can’t stop staring between Rebecca and the costume?

Is this an olive branch she’s extending, or some kind of trap?

Either way, it’s not like I’ve got anything else to wear…

“Thanks,” I say.

She smiles at me. “You’re welcome.”




Aine is rapping impatiently on the bathroom door.

“Hurry up Charlie!” she shouts. “We’re going to be late!”

I stare at myself in the mirror.

I am wearing the devils costume Rebecca gave me earlier, and it is the most revealing thing I’ve ever worn.

It is extremely short, only just brushing my upper thighs and is also extremely low cut, showing off a lot of cleveage.

I definitely can’t imagine Rebecca, who is much skinnier and more flat-chested than me, wearing this. I wonder why she brought it…

I’m also wearing a pair of small heels that Aine leant me-she had to teach me how to walk in them without falling over, because I’ve never really worn anything with a heel before.

I know, I know, that sounds pathetic, but I’ve never been to a ball or party in my life.

The closest thing I’ve come to something like this was my Great Aunt Matilda’s birthday.

“CHARLIE!” hollers Aine, banging loudly on the door with her knuckles. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?”

I quickly put on the devils tail and horns and look at my reflection in the mirror. “I’m coming!” I shout. “Just give me a second!”

At the last minute, I throw my black cloak over the costume. I don’t want people to stare at me, while I’m walking down to the Great Hall.

I’m really hoping this costume doesn’t attract too much attention.  

I open the door, clutching the cloak around me self-consciously. Aine, Clementine and Lavender are all waiting for me.

Aine looks adorable in a pink cat costume complete with a puffball skirt and whiskers. Clementine and Lavender are wearing matching dresses-one is orange and the other is purple. They are both wearing ridiculous floppy bunny ears in their hair.

Aine sighs in relief and takes my arm as we start walking towards the Great Hall. “Why are you wearing that jacket over your costume?” she asks me curiously as we hurry down a flight of stairs.

“I’m cold,” I lie hunching my shoulders.

Aine looks at me suspiciously, but says nothing. We complete the rest of the journey to the Great Hall in silence, something I am grateful for. I am feeling more and more nervous about this ball, and the dress I am wearing.

Maybe I should have just stuck with James’ advice and worn jeans and sneakers.

I would’ve felt a lot more comfortable, that’s for sure.

My feet keep sliding around in these bloody heels-Aine’s feet are a bit bigger than mine.

When we reach the Entrance Hall, which a lot of students are mingling around, waiting for friends and whatnot, Clementine and Lavender say their goodbyes, and hurry over to their dates.

As Clementine told us, she and Robert Davies are colour co-coordinated-he is wearing a bright purple tie to match her dress.

Aine and I meet Fred, James and Mickey who are waiting for us patiently.

Fred, who is dressed as a vampire, complete with a red cape and long fangs, and has a giggling blonde bimbo attached to his arm. I recognise the girl-I think she’s in my Herbology class-but can’t remember her name.

Mickey looks absolutely ridiculous in  brightly coloured dress robes and large pink fairy wings (that boy needs help) and James…James is looking unbelievably hot in a gorgeous black tux.

Though I can quite work out what he’s supposed to be…

Trying to control my heart that is pounding a hundred times faster than it normally does, and wiping my sweaty palms on my coat, I stand awkwardly as Aine leaps onto Mickey and gives him a classically mushy Aine/Mickey kiss.

James smiles at me. “You look great,” he says.

I give him a look. “You haven’t even seen my costume yet. And…what are you supposed to be?”

James looks horrified. “You can’t tell?”

“Er…should I be able to?”

“He’s the Man in Black,” says Fred, rolling his eyes at me.

The bimbo on his arm giggles stupidly, making Fred look a little uncomfortable.

I wonder why he didn’t invite someone he actually likes, he’s got enough girls lining up after him…

I frown. “Who?”

James gasps dramatically. “Have you not watched the magnificent Muggle TV series Lost?” he asks. “I’m the evil guy off that, the one who wants to destroy the island.”

He is making absolutely no sense. “Right,” I say.

James shakes his head, and offers me his arm, which I take nervously. “Where have you been, Charlie?” he asks. “Do you not watch TV?”

“Some of us have better thinks to do than watch the Muggle box, Jamesy,” grins Fred.

“Like what?” James asks indignantly.

Aine, who has finally stopped sucking Mickey’s face off, rolls her eyes. “Come on boys,” she says. “We’ve got better things to do than stand around here all night-let’s party!”

James, Fred and Mickey all whoop loudly, attracting many looks from the girls around us. I pull my cloak even tighter, feeling awkward as we walk into the Great Hall.

The Hall looks amazing.

It has been cleared of all the house tables and benches-there’s now only one table, laden with food, running along the edge of the Hall. It is also darker than I’ve ever seen it, with blue lights darting around the ceiling and walls, and a band playing loud bass-heavy music on a large make-shift stage, filling the air and shaking the stone floors.

In the dim light, it isn’t easy to tell who everyone is, which gives me a little boost of confidence, and I can already see a lot of people dancing in time with the music.

There are a group of boys to my right wearing masks, people with fake blood pouring from drawn on wounds…

“FOOD!” says Fred at once, and drags his date over the table, an overly-excited look on his face.

Mickey grabs Aine’s hand. “Come on, babe,” he says. “Let’s dance!”

Aine giggles girlishly, and James and I watch, both standing a little awkwardly as Mickey drags Aine towards the dance floor, and begins to whirl her around flamboyantly.

I laugh as people quickly moved out of their way, in fear of getting hit.

James grins at me.

Is it just me, or does he look a little nervous?

Of course, that is probably just the dim light, and the strange shadows that dance over his face…

“You wanna dance?” he asks

“I’m…I’m not really I very good dancer…” I protest, but before I can do anything about it, he’s grabbed me by the hand and is pulling me through the crowd.

“Loosen up, new girl,” he says, his eyes twinkling. “Have some fun.”

We begin to dance, and I soon realise it’s a lot easier, and much more fun than I’d expected. The music is loud and pumps in my ears, making my heart pound as James twirls me around, eventually joining up with Mickey and Aine.

“Aren’t you hot wearing that cloak?” Mickey asks me, as the four of us dance in a circle, probably looking like complete idiots.

I can see the people around us giving us funny looks, but for once, I don’t mind. I am with friends. Friends who want to be with me.

“No,” I lie. There are a lot of hot bodies in the Great Hall now, and I am beginning to feel stuffy in the cloak...

I look around. Yes, there are a lot of girls with dresses even shorter than mine.

What was I being so self-conscious for?

James grabs my hands and spins me around, both of us laughing. He pulls me closer to his chest and whispers; “What are you afraid of, new girl?” into my ear.

I pull away from him, grinning.

I have no reason to be nervous.

Still smiling, I slip off the cloak and reveal the dress.

I look up at James, and stop grinning.

His smile has vanished, and his jaw has tightened.

Aine gasps and puts her hands over her mouth. Mickey is also looking at me, with a slightly confused expression on his face. Slowly, his eyes slide over to look at James.

I feel myself going red. “What?” I ask, folding my arms across my chest. I should never have taken the damn cloak off. “I look stupid, don’t I?”

And then suddenly, before I fully realise what is happening, everyone is staring at me.

And I mean everyone.

It seems like everyone has stopped dancing to stare at me and the stupid fucking dress.

And then suddenly, James is gripping my wrist-so hard it hurts.

“Ouch!” I wince, trying to pull away from him. “Ow, James, you’re…”

Why the fuck would you do that?” James hisses, shaking me slightly. “What the hell is wrong with you! TAKE IT OFF! THAT’S NOT YOUR FUCKING DRESS!”

I stare at him, in shock.

I don’t know what to say.

Aine steps forward, and puts a hand on James’s shoulder. “James, I’m sure…”

He shakes her off. “GET OFF ME AINE!” he shouts, before letting go of me and storming out of the room.

Everyone in the room stares after him, deathly quiet. Numb, I stare down at my wrist. I can still James’ red finger marks.

Slowly, the laughter and chatter breaks out over the hall again, and I look at Aine, desperate for an explanation.

She doesn’t say anything, and at that moment, Fred comes rushing over, leaving his blonde date behind. “What the hell is going on?” he asks Mickey. “Where did James just go running off…oh.” His eyes have at last fallen on me, as he takes in everything from the horns, to the dress to the tail.

“What is going on Fred?” I ask, and I’m surprised when my voice comes out as a whisper.

Fred, Aine and Mickey all look at each other.

Then Aine comes closer to me, so that the people listening in on our conversation can’t hear. “That…that was what she was wearing last year,” she whispers.

I don’t need to ask who she means be ‘she’.

She means Tori.

This is Tori’s dress.

Shit.

Shit.

How could I be so stupid? Of course the only reason Rebecca gave me this dress was to humiliate me!

Did I seriously believe she’d turned a new leaf, that she wanted to help me?

God, I’m such an idiot! And now, I’ve probably ruined everything with James.

Aine looks at me with apologetic, sad eyes as a look of comprehension crosses my face. “It’s just that…for a minute…when you took that coat off…it seemed like…like…”

“Like she was here,” says Fred in a croaky voice, and I remember that he must have been quite close with Tori, if his best mate and cousin was her boyfriend.

“Which is ridiculous of course,” says Aine quickly. “You and Tori look nothing alike…”

I suddenly realise how dizzy I feel. I clasp a hand to my forehead and, as if from faraway, I see Aine looking at me in concern.

“Charlie?” she asks. “Charlie, are you okay?”

“I…I just need some air,” I manage to choke out, and get out of there as fast as I can.

I run out into the entrance hall, out of the castle until I’m standing at the edge of the courtyard.

I take several gasps of cold, fresh air and sink down against a stone pillar, breathing heavily, eyes wet with tears.

Why did Rebecca do this to me?

I know she doesn’t like me, but I honestly didn’t believe she hated me this much.

I let out a strangled, dry sob from the back of my throat, and bury my face in my hands.

The air is freezing-I could really do with that cloak now-but I can’t seem to find the energy to move.

Maybe I’ll just freeze to death, it will save me from having to face James tomorrow…

“Charlie?”

Great. Just great.

I look up, furiously rubbing the tears away from my eyes, to see James standing over me, looking at me with an unreadable expression on his face.

“It’s cold out,” he says. “You shouldn’t be out here alone. Come inside?”

I look down at my bare knees and shake my head.

I can’t seem to form words.

James takes off his jacket and drapes it around my shoulders. I shudder involuntarily and he sits down beside me.

We both sit in silence for a while, neither of us looking at each other; neither of us knowing what to say.

“I’m sorry,” James says finally, and I look at him in surprise. He stares back at me with dark eyes, and I’m not even sure he’s seeing me at all. “I’m sorry for what…for what happened in there. I overreacted. It’s just…for a moment.”

“You thought I was Tori,” I whisper, and James has the decency to drop his gaze.

He stares down at a crack in the cobbled ground. “The others told you then?”

“That this was Tori’s dress?” I nod. “Yeah.” I pluck up the courage to look at him, and see that he’s staring straight back at me. I take a deep breath. “But James, you have to know…”

He closes his eyes slightly. “Rebecca gave you the dress, didn’t she?”

I stare at him in surprise. “How did you…?”

He laughs humourlessly. “How did I know? It seems the sort of thing she’d do.”

“I shouldn’t have accepted it when she offered it to me,” I say quickly. “I should’ve realised it was a trick…”

“You weren’t to know,” James says, still looking at me seriously. “You can’t blame yourself. The moment I…the moment I stormed out of there I realised I’d done something stupid. I realised it wasn’t your fault. I went back in there to find you, but you were gone. Aine said you’d just run out.”

“I was upset,” I say, fiddling anxiously with the end of the dress. “I mean…I know I’ll never be as…as good as Tori…”

“Don’t say that,” says James. “Don’t you ever say that. You’re three times as good as Tori ever was.”

I stare at him, my eyes wide.

Did he seriously just say that?

Or is this some kind of fantastical dream?

“But…Tori was…is your girlfriend!”

James takes a deep breath. “Even if Tori comes back, me and her…we’re done,” he says. “She never liked me properly, and I was an idiot for falling for her act. Anyway, I’ve found someone I like a lot more.”

“Who?”

He smiles, slightly cockily, and leans in towards me. He gently places his hand on the back of my neck and kisses me.

I’m not prepared for it.

My eyes widen as I feel his warm lips against mine.

I’ve never kissed anyone before, never been kissed. I don’t know how to act in situations like these!

But I want him to kiss me, I know that. I think I’ve wanted him to kiss me for a while now.

So I close my eyes and melt into the kiss. He presses against my mouth harder when he realises I don’t want him to stop.

My heart is fluttering and my skin is tingling as I wrap my arms around him, tangling one hand in his messy hair.

The kiss seems to go on for hours, and when James finally pulls away, my lips feel chapped and red.

“Wow,” I whisper, and immediately clap my hand to my mouth.

God, I can’t believe I just said that aloud.

I am so embarrassed of myself!

James grins at me. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”

Has he? Well, that’s news to me.

“That was…wow,” I repeat.

Tongue tied. That’s what I am right now.

But James seems to understand.

He holds out a hand and helps me get to my feet. We begin to walk to the castle, his warm hand in my cold one.

“You realise people are going to stare?” I whisper, as we head towards the Entrance Hall.

James smiles. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. “I know,” he says. “And I don’t care.”




A/N: I wasn't actually planning on posting this chapter until after the queue opened back up next year, but I've been getting such lovely feedback that I couldn't resist!

I hope you enjoyed the chapter! And before I forget, I'd like to give a big shout out to peanuts11 for being the first to post on my Meet the Author page-you rock!

Happy holidays!

Courtney:)
 


Chapter 10: Tori
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Image by heartfelt. @TDA

 

One year ago

Tori was trying her hardest to forget about the unpleasant incident with Albus in the bathroom the other day, really she was.

The problem was, Albus seemed to keep popping up all over the school in unexpected places.

Each time she saw him, Tori would feel her cheeks go red and she’d quickly look away, humiliated.

She’d never felt this way about a guy before.

Never.

Before Albus, all the guys she’d gone out with had just been tools for her to use, so that she’d get a higher social standing.

She just couldn’t get Albus out of her head, even when she was making out with James in abandoned classrooms.

Which, incidentally, was what she was doing right now.

She and James were sitting on a small, heavily graffitied desk. Tori was sitting on James’ lap with her long legs wrapped around his waist. He was moaning slightly as she ran her newly painted fingernails (purple, with glitter) up and down his back.

She smiled sexily and bent her head back, allowing James to kiss her, all the way up her neck until his lips met her mouth.

“I love you,” he murmured huskily, running a hand through her silky blonde hair

Tori giggled. “Not as much as I love you,” she whispered, and began to unbutton his school shirt, revealing his firm, tanned chest.

She knew she shouldn’t be doing this.

Not when she was in love with another boy.

But a big part of her still hoped that she could make herself fall in love with James. What wasn’t to love about him? He was handsome, famous, charming…

But he wasn’t Albus.

Tori suddenly pulled away, feeling disgusted at herself.

James didn’t deserve this. He was a good guy. She shouldn’t be leading him on…

But she had to. James was the most desired guy in the school and she had him. She couldn’t let him go, not yet.

Not until everyone saw that she could get whatever she wanted.

“What’s wrong?” James asked her, nipping her earlobe.

Tori forced a smile. “Nothing,” she said.

James pulled her off his lap. “Come on, I can tell something’s wrong.”

Tori bit her lip and looked down at her feet. She was wearing one of her favourite pairs of shoes-eight inch black stilettos with lacy bows. She’d brought them from a little shop on the edge of Diagon Alley. They had a special charm on them which meant it was impossible to fall over while wearing them.

She looked back up at James and brushed a long strand of hair out of her eyes. “You haven’t asked me to the Halloween ball,” she asked in a girly, little kids voice.

A voice which she hated the sound of.

A voice which always got her what she wanted.

This clearly wasn’t what James had expected her to say. “The Halloween ball?” he laughed, running a hand through his already rumpled hair.

It made him look dead sexy.

Why wasn’t she into him?

“I wouldn’t have thought that would be your cup of tea, Tor. It is supervised by teachers, you know, and that means no Firewhiskey or beer pong.”

Tori put her hands on her hips. “You are the worst boyfriend in the world!” she said. “Do you honestly think I have no class?”

James snorted. “Trust me Tor, no-one could possible think that about you.”

“As my boyfriend it is your duty to ask me to the ball,” Tori continued stubbornly. “Anyway, it could be fun.”

James looked at her strangely, and then shrugged. “Alright,” he said.

“Well go on then, ask me.”

“I just did!”

“Ask me properly.”

James rolled his eyes. “Tori, Tori Heron, will you go to the Halloween Ball with me?”

Tori gave him a light kiss on the cheek. “I would love to!”




Tori and Rebecca were sitting on the best sofa in the Gryffindor Common Room. Tori had her fantastically perfect legs spread along the length of it, making boys stare. Rebecca was squashed up at the other end, reading the book they’d been assigned for Charms, about memory charms.

Tori was supposed to be reading it too, but she was too bust staring at Albus.

He was sitting alone in the corner, fiddling with his glasses, head stuck in a thick book with yellowing pages.

Tori wondered what he was reading about.

She wondered if he was thinking about her, too.

Or maybe he already had a girlfriend. Maybe that was why he’d refused her…

“What are you staring at?”

Tori jumped at the sound of Rebecca’s voice, and quickly turned away from eye stalking Albus.

When did she ever eye stalk boys?

She was the type of girl who made out with guys she thought were hot, not the type that daydreamed pathetically about them.

God, she was turning into the type of schoolgirl she had always loathed.

The type of schoolgirl she used to be, before the…accident.

“I’m not looking at anyone,” she said, opening to the first page of the book about memory charms. Luckily it wasn’t too thick.

Tori hated reading.

Although she was naturally gifted at charm work- the Charms Professor had told her so the other day.

Professor Flitwick was the one teacher that seemed to like her.

This wasn’t saying much, as he was an ancient old bat who thought she was someone called ‘Miss Lovegood’.

Odd.

“Yes you are,” insisted Rebecca, leaning over her and peering in the direction Tori had been staring in.

Tori decided it would be a good time to distract her.

It was becoming a little too obvious for her liking that she was into Albus-and no-one could know this, especially not Boring Becky, who would probably go blabbing.

“Were you looking at Albus?”

Tori’s heart froze and for a moment she wasn’t able to answer; she just stared at Rebecca in horror.

Finally, she managed to compose herself.

“Of course not!” she scoffed, making it sound like the idea repulsed her. She smacked Boring Becky lightly on the arm, who winced. “Where the hell would you get an idea like that Becky?”

She bit her lip. “I don’t know, lately you seem…different, that’s all.”

Tori laughed loudly, and several people turned round to stare at her curiously. “I have a boyfriend, Becky! An amazingly hot, perfect boyfriend. Why on earth would I have a crush on nerdy little Albus?”

Rebecca frowned. “I…I never said you had a crush on Albus,” she stammered, looking nervous. “I-I just asked if you were looking at him.”

Fuck.

Things had to change.

Tori had to make it obvious how much she was in love with James, or things would start to get complicated.

“I’m glad you don’t like him though,” continued Rebecca. God, could anyone be so stupid?

“And why is that?” Tori asked, without interest. She didn’t really care about anything Becky had to say. The only reason she allowed the girl to be her friend was so that she had someone to brag to.

Bragging was one of Tori’s favourite activities, and something she was very good at.

It came with practise-a lot of practise.

To Tori’s surprise, Rebecca went a furious shade of red-it made her look like a beetroot sprouting a mane of black hair.

It was hilarious.

“Because…because I like him,” said Rebecca, going, if it was possible, even redder. Tori felt her heart pounding even harder in her chest.

Rebecca liked Albus?

No. No. This could not be possible.

Albus was hers.

Rebecca was an idiot for thinking that he would ever like her.

Rebecca bit her lip and looked up at Tori hopefully. “I really like him, Tori,” she said, and Tori felt the urge to slap her across her stupid, red face. “I’ve liked him for a long time now. I just…I just don’t know how to tell him. I mean…he’s younger, and I’m not even sure if he likes me back.”

“Why don’t you just tell him then?” Tori asked flatly, feeling supremely irritated with Boring Becky.

Of course Albus doesn’t like you, you stupid bitch.

Rebecca’s eyes widened, and she lowered her voice. “I’ve never asked a boy out before, Tori,” she said. “I…I don’t really know how. And what if he rejects me?”

Tori shrugged. “You’ll get over it. There are plenty of other puny nerds to have sex with in this castle, Becky, I’m sure it will be easy to find another one.”

Tori!” Rebecca hissed, sounding horrified, and Tori grinned meanly. “Just because you don’t like him, doesn’t mean…”

Tori zoned out. A thought had just occurred to her.

She needed to prove how much she loved James, how she could get anything she wanted.

This meant she couldn’t be in love with Albus anymore. Or at least…it couldn’t seem like she was…

But she only needed to be with James for a few more months, then the deal would be done-she could dump him, and get together with Albus.

But Albus couldn’t get another girlfriend in the meantime.

Which meant Tori needed someone who could save him for her. Someone who would do whatever she told them…

“Are you going to the Halloween Ball?” Tori asked abruptly cutting off Rebecca mid sentence.

“Balls aren’t really my thing,” Rebecca replied. “And we have a test in Transfiguration coming up…”

“James asked me this afternoon,” Tori said smugly. “I’ve already ordered my costume from Wendall’s Wild Witch Wear.”

“That’s great!”

“Yeah,” beamed Tori, and then widened her eyes as though she had suddenly thought of a great idea. “You should totally ask Albus!” she said, clapping her hands together happily, like the idea of Albus and another girl excited her.

Boring Becky shook her head frantically. “I can’t!” she said. “It would be…embarrassing if he said no.”

Tori rolled her eyes. “Honestly Becky, you’re never going to get anywhere in life if you’re afraid of a little rejection. Do you know, even I’ve been rejected before.”

“Really?”

Yes. Just the other day in the boy’s bathroom, as a matter of fact.

“Yes. And I got over it. You are asking Albus to the Halloween Ball, or I will be renouncing you as my friend. Got it?”

Rebecca nodded unsurely.

“Great,” Tori beamed, and grabbed Rebecca’s wrist. “Let’s go!”

“What, now?”

“Of course! There’s nothing to be afraid of-and I’ll be with you.”

Tori dragged a protesting, embarrassed Rebecca over to Albus’ table.

“Hey Al,” she said throatily, leaning sexily up against his table, Rebecca hovering anxiously behind her like an irritating insect.

Albus looked up in surprise. “Tori? I thought you were avoi…”

“I’ve brought someone with me,” Tori said quickly, pushing Blushing Becky in front of her. She smiled at Rebecca. “Go on. Tell him.”

Albus frowned. “Tell me what?”

Rebecca didn’t say anything, so Tori nudged her viciously in the ribs.

Rebecca took a deep breath. “Do you…do you want to go to the Ball with me?” she asked quickly, and then went beet-red again.

Even the roots of her black hair were red.

Pathetic.

“Oh!” Albus looked surprised, and Tori felt her heart beating very fast. He looked at her quickly, and then back to Rebecca who looked like she was about to pass out.

“I’m going with James,” Tori confirmed, hoping this got a good reaction out of Allbus.

It didn’t.

Albus smiled at Rebecca. “I’d love to go with you,” he said, and a stupid smile appeared on Rebecca’s face. “Thank you so much for asking me!”

Tori felt like she was about to throw up.

She hadn’t admitted it, even to herself, but she had been hoping Albus would say no.

To prove he felt for her what she felt for him.

“You actually said yes!” giggled Rebecca. The redness had faded, but her cheeks were still slightly pink. “I honestly didn’t think you would-I only asked you because Tori insisted!”

Tori glared at Rebecca as Albus looked at her, the confusion etched all over the face. “Really?”

Tori grabbed Rebecca’s arm again. “Well this is very cute and all,” she said in a snappish voice. “But Rebecca and I have work to do. Becky, you were going to teach me the theory behind Obliviate, remember?”

“Oh,” said Rebecca, remembering. “Right.” She smiled at Albus. “I’ll see you at the ball?”

Albus grinned. “Absolutely.”

Tori felt one hundred times worse than ever.

What the hell had just happened?




“You look gorgeous Tori,” Clementine sighed, gazing at Tori with large eyes as Tori used a severing charm to make her red devil’s dress several inches shorter.

“I know,” Tori smiled, finishing with the charm and throwing her wand down on the bed. She picked up the pair of devil’s horns that had come with the dress and carefully placed them on top of her head. They contrasted nicely with her blonde hair, making it look even shinier than it already was.

Neither Clementine nor Lavender had dates to the Halloween ball, so they were going together. They were both dressed as pumpkins and looked absolutely ridiculous.

And they wondered why they hadn’t been able to find boys to go with…

Tori strode over to the bathroom door in her thigh-high black boots and banged loudly on the door. “What the fuck are you doing in there Rebecca?” she asked rudely.

She still hadn’t gotten over the fact that Albus had actually agreed to go on a date with Boring Becky.

Tonight, she was going to do everything possible to make sure the two of them didn’t become anything more than friends.

“I look terrible!” Rebecca whined through the door. “Albus is going to hate me!”

Good, thought Tori, smirking.

“Oh, honestly Becky!” she shouted irritably. “You can’t look that bad! Nothing I can’t fix, anyway. Come out, and I’ll help you!”

There was a small pause and then Rebecca finally opened the door and stepped out.

Tori heard Clementine and Lavender gasp.

Rebecca looked amazing.

She was dressed as a witch-well, a Muggle storybook witch, anyway, complete with a tight fitting black dress, pointy hat and heeled boots. She was wearing long, silver earrings and several shining necklaces around her neck.

Her costume was so much better than Tori’s.

Everyone would notice her first, then look at Tori afterwards.

And that just could not happen. Tori had to be the centre of everyone’s attention-especially Albus’.

“How do I look?” Rebecca asked nervously, tugging on the hem of her dress.

“Beautiful!” the twins chorused dreamily, and Tori shot them a look.

“You look good,” she admitted grudgingly. “But you still need a serious makeover!”

She grabbed her wand from her bed, and instructed Rebecca to take her hat off.

“What are you doing?” Rebecca asked anxiously, as Tori began to circle her, the heels of her boots clicking loudly on the ground.

“You need to stop hiding behind your bangs, Becky,” Tori said confidently. “You have amazing cheek bones-it’s time you start working them.”

And, before Rebecca could do anything about it, Tori was twirling her wand and cutting large amounts of Rebecca’s long black hair off until it was short and choppy, and framed her face.

She didn’t look ugly-in fact, it looked quite cool, but Tori knew from experience that boys noticed girls with long hair first.

“My hair!” Rebecca squeaked, sounding like a frightened mouse as Tori used a vanishing charm to clean up the strands of black hair that had covered the floor.

“You look absolutely gorgeous now, Becky,” Rebecca beamed, as Clementine and Lavender stared. “But there’s just one more thing I have to do…”

Rebecca sat down on her bed, in shock, as Tori began rummaging around in her suitcase, until she found what she was looking for: her make up box.

Tori put it on the bed next to Rebecca, took out her green eye shadow and hesitated. She was torn between making Rebecca look better to show that she, Tori Heron, could turn an ugly duckling into a swan, and making her look worse so that Albus would never go for her.

As she dabbed green eye shadow onto a blush brush, she decided safely on something in between.

As she powdered it onto Rebecca’s face, she eyed her in confusion. “Is that green?”

“You’re a witch, remember?” Tori said, still dabbing. “And Muggle witches are always green. I have no idea where they got that idea from.”

One more thing and Boring Becky would be finished. Tori drew a large spot on her nose and used other colours from her eye kit to make it look as wart-like as possible.

Then she clicked her make-up box shut and admired her work. “Perfect!” she said, and Rebecca stood up, looking sceptical. Tori turned round so that she was facing the twin pumpkins as well. “Ready ladies? Let’s go meet the boys!”

James and Albus were waiting for them in the Gryffindor Common Room, talking and laughing.

Tori observed the two brothers quietly before approaching them.

Clearly, Albus had not said anything to his older brother about him and Tori, because they both appeared to be getting along.

Tori knew James still thought she had been flirting with Albus that day in the library, but he seemed to have gotten past that.

Everything was fine and dandy, except for the fact that Tori was attending the Halloween Ball with the wrong boy.

“There’s my girl!” James said loudly, as Tori approached.

Tori smiled sexily and strutted towards him, seeing Clementine and Lavender struggling to get out of the portrait hole in their pumpkin costumes as she did so.

“Hey babe,” she said, kissing James on the mouth.

As she kissed him, she could see Albus and Rebecca watching them awkwardly as they stood next to each other, not really speaking.

Perfect.

Finally, Tori and James broke apart, and James put his arm around Tori’s waist. “You look hot,” he stated.

“Don’t I!” beamed Tori, tossing her hair. “You look amazing babes!”

He didn’t really. He was wearing a green tunic with a large ‘M’ on it, a cape, and a stupid hat and had a fake sword at his hip.

“Well,” said Tori, flashing Albus and Rebecca a smile, who still looked awkward. “Shall we go down then?”

As they walked down the stairs, Tori pretending to listen to James, she snuck a glance at Albus.

He looked hot.

He was wearing contacts rather than glasses, making his green eyes even brighter. He wasn’t really wearing a costume as such-just slightly scruffy black jeans and a long sleeved, tight black t-shirt with a picture of a skeleton on it.

Tori didn’t know why she found him so attractive.

He definitely had muscle, that was for certain, but didn’t have amazing abs, like James. And he was very nerdy looking, like he was unsure of himself.

Perhaps that was why Tori found him so attractive.

The Great Hall was covered with Halloween decorations like flying bats and ornate pumpkins. There was loud music playing, and Tori scrunched up her nose.

At Beauxbatons, there had been a Winter Ball each year, which was always much classier than this.

James had been right. This wasn’t her cup of tea.

The moment they entered the Great Hall, Albus asked Rebecca if she wanted to dance, and the two of them headed off into the large crowd. Tori tried not to watch them too enviously. She tried to remind herself that putting Albus and Rebecca together was all part of her plan.

Fred and Mickey suddenly bounded up to them, both wearing the same stupid costume as James, except Fred’s was red and Mickey’s was purple.

“Jamesy!” Fred yelled, hugging James like a girl and pounding him on the back.

“Wow Tori, you look great!” Mickey commented, and Tori noticed him staring at her boobs.

She smirked. Pervert.

“Thanks Mickey!” she said, tossing her hair behind her shoulder. She looked at Fred with raised eyebrows. “Freddy, what the fuck have you come as?”

Fred pretending to look insulted. “I take offence to that!”

James grinned at her, and put his arm around her shoulder “I thought you said you liked my costume? Meaning you knew what I was?”

Tori shrugged, trying to fight the urge to detach herself from James’ warm arm. “I lied.”

“We’re the Three Musketeers!” Fred said loudly, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Tori raised her eyebrows. “Am I supposed to know who they are?”

Fred chuckled and ruffled up her hair. “Aw Tori, you know we love you, but you don’t know much do you?”

Tori glared at him, trying to flatten out her hair.

“You wanna dance or something?” James asked.

No.

“Actually, I’m really thirsty,” Tori smiled up at him. “You stay here with the other…Musketeers and I’ll get us some drinks.”

“Just warning you, there’s no alcohol here,” Fred said, still grinning. God, he was dopey. “Trust me, I’ve already checked. But I wouldn’t say no to a cup of pumpkin juice.”

“You got it,” said Tori, snogging James before heading over to the food and drink table.

She wasn’t really thirsty at all, but the table was raised above the rest of the hall, giving her a good vantage point. She was hoping to scope out Albus with Boring Becky.

As she slowly began to pour pumpkin juice into plastic cups, Tori noticed Aine standing alone at the end of the table.

She was wearing an odd dress that looked like it had been handmade and was staring in the direction of James, Fred and Mickey.

Smirking to herself, Tori put the drinks back on the table and stalked over to her. “Hey.”

Aine jumped as Tori spoke. Her eyes immediately went to the large amount of bare leg Tori was showing. Her mouth curled slightly. “Careful, Tori,” she said. “You don’t want people to start thinking you’re desperate now, do you?”

Bitch.

Tori smiled sweetly. “Honey, you need to make it less obvious.”

“Make what less obvious?”

Tori leaned in closer to her, as though she was sharing a very important secret. “That you’re attracted to Mickey.”

Aine flushed furiously. “Why…why do you think that?”

“Hon, it’s obvious to everyone in the vicinity. Why don’t you just do everyone a favour and ask him to dance? He obviously likes you too-he keeps looking at you. It’s sickening.”

Tori saw that Aine was struggling to hide a smile.

She didn’t know exactly why she was trying to set her up with Mickey. Maybe she just wanted someone to be happy.

Which was ridiculous of course, because the only happiness she had ever cared about before was her own.

“Hey, Mickey!” she called out loudly, and gestured for the idiot to come over.

He did immediately, like a puppy dog following his master’s orders.

“What’s up?”

Tori put her hands on her hips. “You and Aine,” she said, pushing them together. “You both like each other so…I dunno, talk or something.”

For a second she enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing the bewildered looks on both their faces, before walking away, completely forgetting about the drinks.

She’d just seen Albus, heading away from the dance crowd.

Alone.

She hurried after him and approached him, just as he disappeared behind a large stone column.

“How’s your date with Becky going?” she purred, leaning very close to him and smiling.

If Albus was surprised be her sudden presence, he didn’t say anything. “Fine,” he said, maybe a little stiffly. “She doesn’t talk much.”

Tori smiled. “Sounds like someone else I know,” she said, looking at him pointedly.

Albus raised his eyebrows. “Me? I talk plenty, thank you very much.”

Tori snorted. “When I first met you, you were this shy little library boy who looked as though he’d never seen a girl in his life.”

“Shy little library boy? Is that really your description of me? I take that as an insult.” But his tone was light, and he was smiling.

“Not anymore it isn’t.”

There was a short pause.

“Why did you persuade Rebecca to come to the ball with me, Tori?” Albus asked.

Why did he have to bring Rebecca up? She was nothing…nothing at all.

Luckily, Tori was spared answering when James and Fred approached them.

“Where have you been, Tor?” James asked. “I thought you were getting drinks!”

He suddenly realised Albus was standing there, and his smile fell slightly.

“What’s wrong, babe?” Tori asked, a little too innocently. “You’re not planning on keeping me all to yourself the whole night, are you?”

James face had gone slightly stony. He grabbed Tori’s hand. “Come with me.”

She stared at him as he practically dragged her out of the room, into the Entrance Hall. She could feel her heart pounding in humiliation-it seemed like there were hundreds of sets of eyes on her. She wondered what they were thinking.

When she and James were away from the crowds of dressed up students, Tori turned to face him, her arms crossed.

“I can’t believe you dragged me away from the party,” she said. “I’m so embarrassed.”

James stared at her. “You’re kidding me right?” he said. “You’re embarrassed?”

“What are people going to think? Everyone was staring at us when you dragged me away like that!”

“You know what you’re doing, Tori.”

She was feeling angry now. She was not in the fucking mood to depict riddles. “No, I don’t know actually James. Would you care to enlighten me?”

He swore under his breath, and ran a hand through his hair. “Fucking hell, Tor! I know…I know you’re flirtatious. That’s just who you are, you flirt with every guy who so much as smiles at you. All I’m asking is that you stay away from my fucking brother!”

Tori stared at him. “What makes you think there’s something going on between me and Albus!”

“That’s not what I’m trying to say, Tori!” James said, and he definitely sounded pissed off now. “Are you trying to make me jealous?”

“Of course not!”

“THEN FUCKING KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!” James hollered, and the couple that was making out on the stairs stopped kissing to stare at them. For the first time in her life, Tori wished they’d look away.

Will you keep your voice down!” Tori hissed. She had no idea where any of this was coming from. Although, it was probably her own fault. But she couldn’t help it that all the boys wanted her…James was lucky to have her.

“Al isn’t good around girls!” James continued. His voice was quieter but he still sounded furious. “He doesn’t know what to do around…around girls like you! Do you want to ruin him?”

Tori shook her head in disgust. He had gone too far-and what did he mean by ‘girls like you’? And how could she ruin Albus? The whole thing was ridiculous!

“You know what you are, James Potter?” Tori hissed, making her words as venomous as possible. “You’re just an insecure little boy! That’s why…”

She trailed off because James’ reaction was not at all what she’d thought it would be. He wasn’t scowling, he wasn’t shouting.

He was laughing at her.

“Something has to change, Tori,” he said. “If it doesn’t….if you can’t find some way to…to control your urges, you and I are done.”

Panic rose quickly in her chest, and she grabbed his arm. “James,” she said in a pleading tone, her eyes widening, but he just shook her off, and stalked away, past the couple that was still passionately making out on the stairs and out of sight.

Tori stared after him for a very long time.

She had just been broken up with. Never, ever had a boy dumped her before. She was the one who did the dumping, not the other way around.

This was bad. Very bad.

People could not know that Tori Heron had not been able to hold onto the golden boy of Hogwarts for even two months.

Tori glanced back towards the Great Hall.

She could hear music and laughter coming out of it, but didn’t want to go back in alone.

She couldn’t face all the questions about where James had gone.

But she couldn’t go back to the Common Room, either. She couldn’t face James. Not yet.

Feeling upset and angry, Tori hurried up several flights of stairs until she reached the empty Charms classroom.

It was locked, but a simple Alohomora Charm unlocked the door, and Tori hurried inside.

Sitting on old Flitwick’s desk was a large cage of chirping yellow birds, when all she wanted was silence.

Closing her eyes slightly, Tori pulled her wand from inside her bra and pointed it at the cage.

“Silencio!” she murmured, and several of the birds fell silent. “Silencio!” she said again, more forcefully. The birds all continued to chirp, but no sound came out of their mouths.

“Impressive.”

Startled, Tori turned round to see him standing at the door, his hands shoved into his pockets.

Albus.

“You followed me,” she said tonelessly.

She wasn’t looking forward to sharing with Albus that his brother had just broken up with her.

“Hope you don’t mind,” said Albus sheepishly. He crossed the classroom and pulled himself up onto the desk next to her. “What happened?”

Tori looked away from him. “Nothing happened. I’m fine.”

“You’re crying.”

Tori stared at him, before putting a hand to her cheeks. Sure enough, they were wet with tears.

Feeling embarrassed, she wiped them away. “I didn’t realise.”

“You look beautiful tonight, Tori,” Albus said quietly, and Tori stared at him, her heart racing.

“Your brother didn’t seem to think so,” she said bitterly. “I think he just broke up with me.”

Albus stared at her, and then shook his head. “He’s crazy. If I…if I had you, I’d never let you go.”

Tori didn’t say anything. Just continued staring at him, her eyes wide.

“I love you, Tori,” Albus said in a shaky voice.

Tori felt another tear spill out from the corner of her eye. “I love you too,” she whispered and Albus leaned in and kissed her.

Tori closed her eyes slightly as he kissed her, as he gently ran his cold hands along her skin, wrapping his touch around her hips and up her back. He sharpened his grip as he moved down to her thigh, with surprising confidence.

Tori heard herself gasp quietly as want filled her chest and made it clench. All the right emotions were filling her stomach, emotions that were making her feel dizzy and light-headed.

Albus was all she wanted. He was all she needed to survive.

Tori felt her muscles tense as he ran his soft fingers farther up her leg. He came even closer and kissed her neck, just as James had done earlier. However, it felt so different from when James had done it. It felt right. It made her want him to come even closer.

And he did.

He moved in and put his lips to her ear, sending a shiver down Tori’s spine.

“Is this what you want?” he whispered, his words coming out very shaky.

“Yes,” Tori said, and kissed him like she’d never see him again.




A/N: Hello, my amazing readers! So this is the first chapter of 2013! What do you think? Any new thoughts about Tori, Rebecca, Albus or James? Any predictions about what is to come?

I want to thank everyone who has left me such positive feedback in their reviews-it really means a lot to me!

Courtney:)

 


Chapter 11: Me
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Another image by heartfelt. @TDA

 
The fact that James and I are now officially a couple has already spread throughout the whole school.

The day after the Halloween Ball, James and I went down to breakfast holding hands (I know! Totally out of character for me, but what the heck) and I swear the whole hall turned around to stare at us. As we approached Aine, Mickey and Fred, Aine squealed in excitement and started clapping her hands together, looking like a lunatic. Fred and Mickey whooped and Fred swept James up in a very girly hug. If I hadn’t seen Fred making out with a tiny brunette in the Charms corridor the other day, I would’ve sworn he was gay. It was all rather embarrassing.

Anyway, now we’ve officially been dating for several weeks, and although we don’t do much other than talk and hang out, I couldn’t be happier.

Actually, that’s a lie.

There are several things that would make me a lot happier. Do you want to hear them?                                   

Don’t you roll your eyes at me! I know you want to hear them:

1. Yet another pimple has sprouted up on my nose. Aine tried to get rid of it with some stupid spell and it turned purple. Purple! I’m considering going to Madam Pomfrey.

2. The pictures of Tori that are still on my wall have suddenly started glaring at me, as if to say; “Back away from my boyfriend, you bitch!” That’s how I imagine Tori to talk, FYI.

3. Whenever I’m in the same room as Rebecca, she glares at me like she thinks she’s Medusa and can turn me to stone. And whenever she sees James, she attempts to attack him.

4. I can’t find Bernard. I think he’s escaped to the kitchens, the greedy bugger.

5. I am now officially failing Divination. I blame it on James.

Anyway, Christmas is coming (yay! Presents!) which means soon I get to go home for the holidays, sleep in my own bed at last and hear mum hollering her pants off every morning. Joy.

“Last day of school today!” Fred says eagerly, as I sit down at the Gryffindor table next to James, who kisses me on the cheek.

He he. I have a boyfriend who kisses me on the cheek!

Shut up. I’m allowed to be excited about having a boyfriend, okay? Or would you rather I be all depressed and mope about in my slippers and dressing gown with a box of cereal?

“Where’s Aine and Mickey?” I ask curiously as I pour milk onto my cornflakes.

When I was little, I always thought cornflakes were made of pencil shavings and refused to eat them. Just a little fun fact for the day I felt the need to share.

“That’s the big question,” says James.

“I reckon they’re off having sex in a bush somewhere,” grins Fred, squirting tomato sauce on his large pile of sausages.

I give him a look. “Keep it PG, Fred,” I tell him. “There are eleven year olds in da house!”

Cringe. I just tried to sound gangster again, after I promised myself I wouldn’t.

“There’s nothing wrong with sex,” Fred says, and I feel my cheeks going red as they do whenever the s word is mentioned. Let’s just say I’m not exactly…experienced in that area. “Sex is a fact of life. As a matter of fact Charlie, you wouldn’t be sitting here telling me to keep it PG if your mummy and daddy hadn’t…”

“Urgh!” I say loudly, throwing my hands over my ears. “Fred! Bad mental images! I’m going to have nightmares for weeks!”

James gently removes my hands from my ears. “Alright, he’s shut up now,” he says, giving Fred a glare. “Haven’t you, ya moron.”

Fred grins and bites into a sausage. Sauce spills all down his chin and stains his white shirt. Gross.

“So, what do we have today?” James asks, helping himself to one of Fred’s sausages. Fred glares at him (“Jamesy! Get your own food!”)

“Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Transfiguration, Herbology,” I say immediately, reciting my own timetable.

James beams at me, but Fred groans. “Care of Magical Creatures? It’s freezing today! The ground’s all iced over!”

“Maybe Hagrid will take the lesson in his hut?” I suggest. This is unlikely. Hagrid’s wooden hut is miniscule-I’m actually surprised he can fit in it, he’s the size of an elephant. A giant elephant.

Aine and Mickey haven’t returned from what Fred proclaims as their ‘little rendezvous’ by the end of breakfast, so James kisses me goodbye, and Fred and I head out of the castle to Care of Magical Creatures.  As we pass the other students still finishing up breakfast, I can’t help but notice how many shiny FIND TORI badges I see. Even though Tori hasn’t been seen since her supposed sighting in London almost two months ago, Rebecca still insists on selling her stupid little badges. Apparently the money raised has gone to Tori’s aunt, who’s attempting to track her down. It seems like everyone but me, Aine, Mickey, Fred and James has a badge, and everyone takes pleasure in flashing them to me-a constant reminder that when Tori comes back, I’ll be gone.

Yes, I know I didn’t want to come to Hogwarts in the first place, but I’ve got friends here now, and the most amazingly good looking boyfriend who sneaks me food from the kitchens. Which isn’t why I like him, of course, though I’m certainly not complaining about free chocolate meringues every evening.  I’d sneak down myself, but the giggling pear gives me the shivers. There’s something really creepy about giggling fruit.

Anyways…

Fred and I head out into the grounds and sure enough, the ground is covered in thick snow that soon makes my feet go numb, even though I’m wearing gumboots. 

“This is torture, this is!” Fred shivers angrily as we march down to the bottom of the grounds where I can already see Hagrid waving at us. He’s so large, it’s impossible to miss him.

Luckily, the Care of Magical Creatures lesson isn’t so bad in the end.  Hagrid decides to take pity on us, and we all sit around two large fires observing the little fire-dwelling Salamanders and drawing sketches in our notebooks, which is highly embarrassing, because I must be the world’s worst artist. My salamander sketch resembles a carrot. A carrot that doesn’t even look like a carrot. Fred, on the other hand has surprising artistic talent-something I wouldn’t have expected from him.

“It’s a skill,” he grins, when I comment on this. “I was born with loads of natural talent,” he adds, giving an unnecessary flourish with his quill.

I have Divination after Care of Magical Creatures, so I say goodbye to Fred, who’s heading off to Charms and begin the long journey to the Divination tower. I’ve just reached the statue of Gunhilda of Gorsemoor (who is not the best looking witch, I’m telling you) when I am suddenly assaulted by an unknown figure and pushed into an empty classroom. I start to scream and flail my arms about wildly as the unknown figure pushes me roughly against a wall. The dangerous criminal puts a hand over my mouth and in my terror, I bite down hard.

Defence against the Dark Arts 101 people.

In my opinion, the Muggle Taekwondo class I took a couple of years ago was much more helpful. I learnt how to break a wooden board in two-I was top of the class! Admittedly, I used a little bit of magic to break the board in half, but whatever. Mum was furious with me. I got an official warning from the Ministry of Magic, warning me not to use underage magic when surrounded by Muggles. It was all rather amusing.

“Bloody hell!” screams an all too familiar voice as I bite down on the figure’s fleshy hand.

I frown. Where do I know that voice from?

The figure steps away and pulls off his mask. It’s James.

Awkward.

“You bit me!” James squeaks, sucking his hand.

I stare at him. “Why on earth were you wearing a mask over your head, you weirdo?”

James grins at me. “I thought it would be fun. You know, spice things up a bit. Besides, your reaction was hilarious!”

I put my hands on my hips and give him the sort of glare I always get from my mother. “You almost scared me to death! I was like a puddle of scared-ness. In fact, I was like a little ant swimming in that puddle of scared-ness-a puddle which is so big, I can never escape and drown in the aforesaid puddle.”

What am I talking about? There is clearly something wrong with my brain.

“What are you talking about?” James asks, eerily echoing my thought.

I sigh. “Don’t worry about it. Ignore me.”

James grins. “Done,” he says, and leans forward to kiss me.

James!” I squeak, ducking away from his oncoming lips.

He has amazing lips. And he’s the best snog I’ve ever had. Which isn’t saying much, considering he’s the only snog I’ve ever had, but you know.

“What?” he asks, looking a bit hurt as I scamper away from him.

“What are you doing? We’re supposed to be going to Divination! I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want detention on the last day of term!”

He groans. “Oh, come on Charlie! Take a risk. I don’t feel like sitting through a whole hour of Divination, and I know you don’t either. It won’t matter if we skip the class-it’s the last day of term! And Professor Moon has the memory of a goldfish!”

I give him a look. “I don’t know about you, but I actually want to pass my NEWTS this year. And I’m already failing Divination, I need all the practise…”

I trail off uncertainly. James is walking towards me again, a cocky smile on his face. “Are you sure about that?” he asks, when he’s standing right in front of me.

“Y-yes?” I say squeakily, looking up at him with wide eyes.

James gently kisses the left side of my face; my forehead, my nose my chin…

My heart is pounding inside my chest like it does every time he kisses me. My palms have gone sweaty, and I seem to have lost all sense of reason…

“James!” I say, trying to sound firm, but it’s really rather hard as he is now giving me light butterfly kisses all down my neck. “We’re already late to Divination. You can’t just go round…go round…”

I let out a tiny sigh as James’ hand starts caressing my back.

Oh dear. I seem to have lost my trail of thought.

“Oh, stuff it,” I say, and allow James to kiss me.

Let’s just hope Professor Flitwick doesn’t walk in on us.

The sight of two teenagers making out might scare him to death.




We catch the Hogwarts Express from the Hogsmeade Station at eleven o’clock the next day. I have to admit, I’m kinda excited to be riding the train-as I used the Floo Network to get to Hogwarts, this will be my first time.

The Hogwarts Express is a big, scarlet steam engine, but while it looks impressive from the outside, it’s pretty shabby and old on the inside. The gang (for those who don’t remember, that’s me, James, Aine, Mickey and Fred) take a compartment to ourselves, and settle down for the ride back to Kings Cross Station.

“It’s kind of weird, isn’t it, the train?” I say aloud, as I snuggle up next to James, who has his arm around me. It’s strange, I’ve gone from this person that despised any and all human contact to a girl who cuddles up to her boyfriend.

“What’s weird about it?” James asks, as though I’ve personally offended him.

“Well, you’d think students would get to Hogwarts in a more magical way,” I say. “You know, by flying carpet or something.”

“Trains are much more comfortable, though,” Aine points out, but no-one gets the chance to respond, because at that moment, Fred spots the lunch lady in the train corridor and goes bolting off to buy food.

Five minutes later, Fred returns with his arms filled with food-it seems like he’s brought the whole bloody lunch trolley! The good thing about Fred is that he is a very sharing person, so he spreads out his purchases (including chocolate frogs, cauldron cakes, pumpkin pasties and liquorice wands) all over the compartment, and we dig in.

I’m just starting to think that this is going to be a very pleasant ride home, when our compartment door slides open, and Albus pokes his head through the door, looking awkward. I’m leaning on James, so I immediately feel him tensing up at the sight of his brother. What did Albus do to make James hate him so much? I still haven’t plucked up the courage to ask yet. Especially because, after what the twins told me, it seems like it has something to do with Tori, and both James and I avoid bringing her up, if we can help it.

“What are you doing here?” James asks brusquely, and I realise he’s gripping his wand sticking out from his pocket very tightly.

Albus adjusts his glasses nervously, and takes a rumpled piece of parchment out of his jeans, and hands it to James, who just stares at it.

“What’s this? A piece of parchment to blow the compartment up?”

“James,” says Aine quietly, and there’s a warning tone to her voice.

“It’s from mum,” Albus says. “It says…well, I guess you can read it for yourself.”

James snatches the letter and Albus hovers in the doorway uncertainly. James glares at him. “You can go now!” he snaps, and Albus hurries out of the compartment, and back down the hall. I watch him go, feeling a bit sorry for him.

We all watch James read the letter from his mum in silence. Albus’ appearance has certainly changed the mood in this compartment. I wonder if anyone else actually knows what’s going on between James and Albus or if they have just decided to take James’ word that Albus is a first class asshat.  I watch James anxiously as he stuffs the piece of parchment into his pocket. “Nothing to worry about,” he says, kissing me on the top of my head. “Mum and Dad are both too busy to come and pick us up, so they’ve sent a driver.”

I feel my mouth drop open. “You have a driver?”

Wow. His family must be rich. Like, rich rich.

Oh, right. His dad’s Harry Potter.

James rolls his eyes at my expression. “Please don’t go on about it,” he says. “I already get enough shit from Fred about it.”

Fred grins. “I just find it amusing that I’ve got a snobby rich younger cousin,” he grins, ruffling up James’ hair.

“I’m only a month younger than you, you moron!” James laughs, batting Fred’s hands away. “And if you think I’m snobby, you are clearly suffering the affects of a disillusionment potion, my friend!”

We all laugh and the tension in the compartment evaporates.

We finish off Fred’s large supply of food and continue the journey to Kings Cross without any more…unpleasant encounters.




Mum comes to pick me up from Kings Cross.

I spot her immediately because she is dressed like a bumble bee.

Merlin, I hope you are looking down on me right now. Because if anyone else sees the woman I’m forced to call family, I’m going to die of humiliation.

“Hey, look at that woman!” Fred grins.

I’m sure you lot are all smart enough to work out who he’s pointing to.

But for the less intelligent specimens, I’ll tell you anyway: he’s pointing straight at my black and yellow striped mother. Oh the shame.

The rest of the gang follow Fred’s gaze and immediately begin to laugh. I feel my cheeks going as red as the delicious tomato soup mum makes.

“What’s wrong, Charlie?” Aine asks suddenly. “Do you know that woman or something?”

“No!” I say, a little too quickly. “No, of course not!”

“CHARLIE!” Mum suddenly calls out very loudly, waving and starting to run over to me.

Cringe.

If there was a shovel around, I would seriously dig myself a hole and never come up.

The rest of the gang all turns to gape at me and I determinedly stare at a brown stain on one of my shoes. I seriously hope that it’s a chocolate stain, not dragon dung.

Mum rushes over to me and throws her arms around my waist, ignoring the fact that several people are staring at the wings she’s wearing on her back. Honestly, she’s as weird looking as Professor Moon. Weirder, in fact. Is she wearing a bumblebee outfit simply to embarrass me? Or is this some sort of new phase in 'Fasion for Middle Aged Witches?'

“Hi mum,” I mumble embarrassedly, trying not to catch the eye of James or one of the others.

Finally, just when I feel like I’m about to suffocate, mum lets go.

“I’ve missed you so much, Charlie!” she gushes, and I hear Fred and Mickey guffawing. Then Mickey yelping as Aine hits him on the arm.

James clears his throat loudly, and both mum and I look at him. My cheeks go bright red again. I bet James’ parents aren’t as embarrassing as this. I know his mum, Ginny Weasley, used to play Quidditch for the Holyhead Harpies. She sounds pretty cool.

“Oh,” I stammer. “Erm…mum, this is James, my…friend.”

James glares at me playfully, but mum has already thrown her arms around him.

Kill. Me. Now.

“Oh, it’s so nice to meet you James!” she says, as Fred and Mickey try-and fail-to hide their sniggers at James’ startled expression. Thanks mum. The only boyfriend I’ve ever had is probably going to break up with me now.

“It’s…it’s nice to meet you too, Mrs Parker,” James stammers, gasping for air as mum is almost strangling him.

“I’m so glad that Charlie’s finally found some friends!” Mum continues, and I groan inwardly. “She’s never really had any friends before, you know. She was always such a quiet child…got bullied when she was younger…”

“OKAY MUM!” I say loudly, grabbing her arm, and dragging her away from my startled (but attractively so) boyfriend. “Time to go!”

“But darling, I haven’t met all your friends yet…”

“Aine, Fred, Mickey…” I say shortly, glaring at the boys because they’re all still laughing. Idiots.

“Now come on, let’s go.”

I drag mum away; my face still flaming red.

“Have a great holiday, Charlie!” Aine calls out, waving cheerfully.

“We love you, darling!” chorus James, Fred and Mickey, mocking my embarrassing mother.

Oh, I can’t wait to see them again next term. What fun we’ll have.

“Your friends seem nice,” mum says.

We’re in her nana car (it’s one of those hideous yellow, squashed up things) on the way home from the station, and mum is insisting on asking me all about life at Hogwarts, even though I’d prefer a nice, peaceful silence.

“Yeah,” I say dully.

“And that James is a real looker…”

Mum!” I squeal, horrified. “Please don’t say things like that! And no-one says ‘looker’ these days, either!”

“Oh? So tell me, darling, what slang to modern day teenagers use then, eh?”

I just roll my eyes and stare out the window. We’re in the Muggle part of London, in a busy street crammed with traffic and bustling shoppers. It feels…weird to be in this environment again. The environment I grew up in. When at Hogwarts, it almost feels like you’ve stepped into the wrong century. There’s no modern technology, no electricity, no TV, phones or computers. Coming back into the real world is surreal.

“I’d have thought you’d have a bit more to say for yourself after four months away from home,” mum sniffs.  I give her a look, making her laugh. “I guess nothing’s changed then, has it darling? So tell me one thing: are you enjoying school? Because if you’re not…you don’t have to go back. Not if you don’t want to.”

My heart begins to pound. This is my opportunity. I could tell her everything. How I’ve taken the place of a girl that went missing at the end of last year. A girl nobody knows is dead or alive. I could tell her how everyone in the school glares at me, how most people still don’t know my name. How everyone still sees me as Tori’s replacement. How the photos of the blonde, beautiful girl glare down at me when I’m lying in bed.

If I told her all these things, she wouldn’t make me go back to school. And isn’t that want I wanted?

But then…then I realise how much I really want to go back to Hogwarts. How much I’m already missing the people who I’ve come to know as friends-the few students who actually know my name. How would I feel if I could never see Mickey or Fred again? Fred, who is constantly eating and smiling and Mickey, who looks tough but is the nicest guy you’ll meet. And what about Aine? The girl who tried to make me feel welcome, the girl who stopped Rebecca from killing me on my very first day? And then of course, there’s James, my gorgeous hunk of a boyfriend. He’s the main reason life at Hogwarts is bearable. Because of him, I can ignore the looks I get from almost every other student in the school. I can cope.

I give mum a big smile. “It’s great!” I say. “I can’t wait to go back!”




The first few days of the holidays fly by. Mum takes me into Diagon Alley on Tuesday to buy some cream for that “horrible purple pimple” as she so kindly puts it. This gives me an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts for all my friends.

I’ve never really had friends before (as mum so nicely told James) so this turns out to be unexpectedly difficult. Well, Fred is easy. I just buy him food, knowing that will make him happy. I go into Quality Quidditch Supplies where I purchase a pair of thick Keeper’s gloves for Mickey and the latest edition of the Quirky Quidditch magazine for James. I find a very large turquoise peacock quill for Aine that I think she will like and a bottle of fluorescent ink. 

I spend most of the rest of my holidays in bed, reading books and eating chocolate. Yes, I realise how anti-social and lazy that sounds. But I’ve been socialising all term! I’ve barely had a moment to myself. I need some much-deserved alone time.

Midway through the holidays, I get a very long letter from Aine, who has gone to the Cook Islands for Christmas. She’s enclosed a picture of her wearing a bikini, multi-coloured sarong and large pink flower in her hair. I’m so jealous. I’d love to go to a tropical island, lying out in the sun all day, reading and getting a tan. My skin is currently a pasty white colour. I look like a parsnip with a cold.

Christmas day soon arrives complete with my mother’s Mrs Claus robes and the rest of my family arriving.

My family members are all completely bonkers. I’m not even kidding, I’m the sanest one of them.

On Christmas morning we all exchange presents (the highlight is when I give dad, who’s mortally afraid of bugs, a bug trap that I found at a little stall in Diagon Alley.) My Uncle Bruce, who is a very fat, bald man, who reminds me of a hard boiled egg roars with laughter and sweeps me into a sweaty hug.

No, you idiot! That wasn’t the highlight! Sure, ever since I got a boyfriend, I’ve relaxed my ‘don’t touch people’ motto slightly, but Uncle Bruce’s hugs are still nothing to get excited about.

Mum plays the radio loudly all day, listening to this ancient singer called Celestina Warbeck and we all eat piles and piles of food. I gorge myself  on potatoes smothered in butter, thick slices of Christmas ham, juciy turkey, roasted chestnuts and bacon wrapped sausages. My trousers begin to feel uncomfortably tight but I go ahead and eat a large serving of Christmas pudding with warm custard anyway.

Heaven.

Oh Merlin, I'm beginning to sound like Fred!

However, the highlight of Christmas comes late that night. I’ve just had a shower, so I'm wearing a pair of cozy pyjamas and a fluffy dressing gown when I hear a tapping noise at the frosted window. Frowning, I turn to see a large, handsome owl hovering outside my bedroom, a scroll of parchment and a small red box tied to its leg. Because I’m all ANIMAL POWER, I hurry over to the owl, detach the scroll and box from its leg, give it a sip of water to replenish the poor creature’s energy and then watch it fly away into the star-spangled sky.

I sit down on my squashy bed and unroll the scroll. I can tell immediately that it’s from James, and my heart begins to pound excitedly and the flush that appears whenever I think of James creeps into my cheeks. His writing is as appalling as ever, and I have to seriously strain my eyes to read what it says. I think he should consider getting one of those quills that just writes whatever you say to it in immaculate hand.

Dearest Charlie, the letter reads.

Aw. I can’t believe he wrote ‘dearest Charlie.’ How gorgeously romantic. I expect most guys would just write ‘Charlie’ or ‘Hi’. I really have the most spectacular boyfriend.

I hope you’re having a good holiday at home with your…mother. When I met her at the train station she seemed very glad to have you home, so I’m sure you’re eating lots of nice food. Neither of my parents can cook at all, and everything they do cook is loaded with butter. Usually they just order takeout from the Muggle pizza shop down the road…

Hmm. So there is something the fantastic Harry Potter can’t do: cook. Shame on you, Harry!

…even so, my holiday has been pretty good so far. My ridiculously large family came around for Christmas dinner today, and Fred is currently making immature kissy noises at me, which is very off putting. Of course, my Christmas would be a lot better if you were here to enjoy it with me. I miss you so much, Charlie…

Eek! He misses me! I could faint with joy! Except I won’t, because I’d probably knock my head on the corner of my bed and get a concussion.

…life just isn’t the same without you in it. I can’t wait to see you when term starts again, though I’m not looking forward to telling Professor Moon my dog ate my homework. Literally. I found it all slobbered up and chomped on in his food bowl. Anyway, I hope you like the gift I sent you, and I hope it arrives in time.

All my love, James.

I grin stupidly at the letter, and then realise there’s a PS, written in a different hand I recognise as Fred’s. Rolling my eyes, I read on.

…’lo Charlster! Just thought I’d apologise for how girly and pathetic Jamesy’s letter sounds. Honestly, he needs someone to teach him how to write a letter that makes girls swoon. He should ask me. I’m the master of the swoon effect.. Anyways, just thought I’d let you know I’ve eaten all the chocolate you sent me. Oh, and your mum is weird, isn’t she?

I’ve got to send this now, before James realises I’ve read it. TTFN! Fredster xx.

I let out a snort of laughter and put the letter aside. Trust Fred to read James’ letter. He’s so nosy, he can’t keep out of anyone’s business.

I turn to the little red box that came with the scroll, and carefully open the lid with slightly shaking fingers. I can’t contain the gasp that leaps out of my mouth as I see what is inside. Underneath a little note is the most gorgeous bracelet I’ve ever seen. I delicately pick it up, examining it. It’s made of little black pearls, except there has been a charm performed on them to make them look like all the colours you can imagine. Small silver charms dangle between each bead and there’s a large shiny ribbon that I use to tie the bracelet to my wrist. One of the charms reads ‘Jarlie’ and I immediately laugh again. ‘Jarlie’ is the name Aine instantly came up with when James and I became a couple.

With the bracelet still around my wrist, I lie back onto my bed and close my eyes. Though I’ve enjoyed being back at home, especially sleeping in my comfortable bed with no pictures of Tori glaring down at me, I’ll be glad to get back to school. It’s only now that I’ve realised how much I’m already missing my newfound friends.




“There she is!” Aine screams loudly, as I dump my heavy suitcase on top of my dorm bed and attempt to flop down on the duvet. However, before I can complete my flop, Aine has pulled my into a tight hug, grinning ear to ear.

“Aine!” I squeak, trying to get away. “You know I don’t like hugs!”

She sighs and pulls away, putting her hands on her hips. “Charlie Parker! Is that really the way you’re going to greet me after a whole Christmas break apart? I’m disappointed in you!”

I grin at her sheepishly, “Sorry,” I say. “You look great, by the way.”

Aine beams. “Charlie, when we leave Hogwarts, we should go on a trip all over the Pacific Islands together!”

I stare at her, feeling a bit flabbergasted as Aine continues chattering about how fantastic Rarotonga was. I feel…honoured, I guess, that she’s come to see me as a good enough friend that she can suggest going on an trip together when we leave school.

At that moment, the door swings open and I tense up, expecting to see Rebecca glaring at me in her usual way. Luckily it’s just Clementine and Lavender, both with a bright pink streak in their dark hair. Hmm. I wonder what McGonagall will have to say about that. She doesn’t seem to like it when students have a sense of fashion. Just because she dresses like a woman from the middle ages.  Actually, I don’t know her age, so for all I know she could come from the middle ages. She could be a vampire.

The twins immediately burst into a long and boring explanation of every detail of their shopping trip in Paris and while I try to act like I’m paying attention, my mind keeps wandering to James and whether he’s back at school yet. I’m still wearing the bracelet he gave me, and I can’t wait to see him again. I really hope he hasn’t lost interest in me. Found some good looking, blonde Muggle girl in that village he lives in who doesn’t have frizzy hair and purple pimple problems. Or even worse, decided he wants to wait for Tori to show up, that I’m not as good as her…

I really need to stop thinking. Otherwise I’m just going to worry myself sick, and I really don’t want to go to the Hospital Wing on the first day of term.

Aine must have seen me staring longingly at the door, because she gives me one of those knowing looks of hers. I still reckon she could be a secret seer.

“Go,” she says in a low voice, as the twins dive into Clementine’s trunk, looking for photos to show off.

I frown at her. “What?”

She smiles. “Come on Charlie, I can tell you want to see James. So go. Find him. I’ll stay with these two, let them talk me to death.”

I smile at her. “Thanks, Aine,” I say, before scampering out the door, playing with my bracelet nervously.

There’s no-one but a couple of giggly first years in the Gryffindor Common Room, so I decide to go and look down in the Entrance Hall, where several people were mingling as I arrived.

The Grand Staircase is rather busy, because there are still many students returning to their dormitories, heavy trunks and suitcases it hand.  I pass several giggling Hufflepuff girls on the way down, and see the bright FIND TORI badges shining away on their chests. I have to admit, my heart sinks a little at the sight of these badges. I though maybe, during the holidays, people would’ve abandoned these badges. I mean…Tori hasn’t been seen for months now. No! I’m not saying she’s dead! I’m just saying…oh, I don’t know. My feelings about Tori Heron are very complicated.

Anyway, I have to doubt whether those Hufflepuff girls were even friends with Tori, whether they ever actually spoke to her. They certainly don’t know who I am, and I’m quite happy to keep it that way.

I reach the bottom of the Entrance Hall, and am dismayed to see that I can’t find James, Fred or Mickey anywhere. I do see Rose Weasley though, talking to Scorpius Malfoy in the corner.

As I move away, I can’t help but smile to myself. What would James and Fred do if they saw their younger cousin talking to the son of Harry Potter’s school enemy?

Bash the living daylights out of him, probably. I have to admit, it is somewhat comforting to know that my boyfriend has the ability to turn grapes into wine, if you get my drift.

Feeling a bit dejected, even though I’ll see James at breakfast tomorrow, I head back up the staircase and decide I might go to the library and check a book out. 

Madam Pince ushers me into the library with a heavy scowl on her face, and I begin to browse the small fiction section. I’ve always preferred books about made up things, but unfortunately the Hogwarts library is made up of mainly factual books. And it’s always hard to find what you’re looking for, because entering the library is like entering a maze.

I’ve never liked mazes. When I was little, I got lost in one and a clown chased me. Long story, can’t really be bothered retelling it right now. Maybe some other time, if you’re lucky. Because, as we all know, Charlie Parker stories are amazing.

I’ve just opened a thin, ratty little book called The Grey Lady when a sudden noise behind me makes me drop the book right on my toe.

“OUCH!” I scream loudly, and then clap my hand to my mouth, hoping Madam Pince doesn’t hear. She has a serious problem with talking. I reckon she thinks it should be made illegal.

I turn around to see Albus Potter standing behind me, smiling apologetically. Crap. What to say to the brother of your boyfriend whom aforementioned boyfriend loathes?

“Hey,” I decide on, bending to pick up the book.

Albus smiles awkwardly. “Have a good holiday?”

“Yip.”

There is a long pause between us.

Awkward.

“Well,” I say quickly, when it appears that Albus isn’t going to say anything. “I should probably go check this book out. Erm…bye,” I say, squeezing past him.

“James didn’t invite you over for Christmas,” Albus says suddenly, taking me by surprise.

I turn slowly to stare at him. “Sorry?”

He bites his lip anxiously. “It’s just…I would’ve thought…I mean he…more than…” he trails off uncertainly, and looks down at his feet.

What the bloody hell was that all about? That boy needs to work out what he wants to say before he says it. Something I have a problem with too, actually, so I can’t really go round criticising people.

“Um…I’ll see you round Albus,” I say, before walking away.

“Yeah…see ya,” I hear him say quietly, when he thinks I’m out of earshot.

As I give The Grey Lady to Madam Pince to issue, who glowers at me and reminds me to be careful with her precious library book, I once again wonder why James hates Albus so much. The twins told me Albus had a crush on Tori, who we all know James was in love with. But it has to be more than that, it just has to be.

I’m determined to put the pieces together.




A/N: Here is chapter eleven! I'd love to know what you all think! Please remember to leave a review-all you have to do is scroll down to that little grey box, write what you think and submit it. Simple, right?

Thank you so much for reading this far everyone! I've already got three more chapters written after this, which will (hopefully) mean faster updates!

Courtney:)


Chapter 12: Tori
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Image by heartfelt. @TDA


One year ago

“We just thought it would be best to take some time apart right now, that’s all,” Tori said, her eyes glistening with very fake tears.

“Oh no!” breathed Clementine, eyes wide. “I can’t believe you and James have broken up!”

“We thought you were so perfect!” sighed Lavender sadly, and Clementine nodded in agreement.

It was the night after the Halloween Ball, and Tori was sitting in her dorm with the twins and Rebecca, giving her version of last nights events. It was fairly obvious that James wasn’t speaking to her, but she couldn’t let the others know why.

“I think it’s for the best really,” said Tori, giving a watery smile, and Clementine put her arms around Tori’s shoulders comfortingly. “I mean, James is just so in love with me that we needed some time apart. We were getting much too serious and it…” she took a deep breath, “…it was getting too much for me. He just loves me so much.”

“Do you think you’ll get back together then?” Boring Becky asked, looking confused.

Tori nodded. “Definitely. When I’m ready, I’m sure James will come running back to me. You have no idea how much he loves me.”

Clementine and Lavender both sighed again, and Tori fought the urge to smirk. The twins were the stupidest little girls she had ever met. Which made them the perfect friends. “That is so romantic,” said Clementine. “That he loves you that much.”

“Yes, it’s so romantic,” Lavender agreed.

Rebecca just bit her lip, and picked up the book she was reading. Tori decided it was time to change the subject. “So Becky,” she said, clapping her hands together importantly. “How was your date with baby Potter?”

Albus. He was all she’d been thinking about since yesterday. When she’d crept up to bed late last night, still trembling from the feeling of kissing Albus, she’d tossed and turned for a long time before finally falling asleep. She just kept reliving the way Albus’ hands felt on her bare skin; how they gave her little shivers all up her spine. How his lips were so warm and gentle but were passionate and firm at the same time. He was everything she wanted.

Rebecca shrugged, tinging pink as she always did when she talked about boys. Yawn. She was so dull. No wonder she’d never had any friends until Tori.

“It went okay, I guess. I think he likes me.”

Tori felt a smile creeping up onto her lips as Clementine and Lavender gasped, and began asking Rebecca all about the ball.

Of course he doesn’t like you, you stupid bitch.

Albus was hers. And she was his.

Always, and forever. That was the way it had to be. She knew that now. But she and James…they still had unfinished business.

Tori suddenly stood up, and her pathetic followers all turned to stare at her. She totally had them all in the palm of her hand.

“Where are you going?” Rebecca frowned.

Merlin, she was a nosy bitch. Had the girl never heard of privacy?

“That’s for me to know and you to…not find out,” Tori beamed, fluttering her long lashes. Then, without another word, she stalked out of the room. She wanted to see Albus more than anything, but first…first she had to find James. He couldn’t be that angry with her, could he? She couldn’t let the school know that James Potter had broken up with Tori Heron.

Because that would just be the end of the world.

And she always got what she wanted.

Tori found James sitting in the corner of the Common room with Fred. They were both muttering under their breath secretively, and James’ eyes kept flitting around the room. Tori felt her heart begin to pound. Were they talking about her? Was James telling Fred all about how he’d broken up with her last night, how she’d been flirting with Albus?

Tossing her hair, Tori stalked over to them. “Hello James,” she said, smiling sweetly as both boys turned around. “Freddy.”

Fred’s usual grin instantly faded, and he stood up abruptly. “Er…I have to go,” he said awkwardly, looking down at his feet. “Mickey said…should be around…have to find him.”

Both Tori and James watched as Fred hurried out of the portrait hole and into the dark corridor beyond.

James ran a hand through his messy, dark hair. “What’d you want, Tor?” he asked tiredly.

Tori batted her eyelashes. “If Freddy finds Mickey, he’s in for a big surprise,” she said.

“What’d you mean?”

Tori smiled. “I might’ve set Mickey and Aine up last night. And I haven’t seen Aine for hours…”

James sighed. “It’s all fun and games to you, isn’t it Tor?”

“Maybe that’s what makes us so alike.”

“No, it doesn’t,” James said angrily, and the girls studying at the nearest table turned round to look. Tori fought the urge to snap at them. “We’re nothing alike, Tori! I play pranks on people. You…you go round fucking up other peoples lives!”

Tori stared at him. “Is that seriously what you think about me?” she hissed.

James folded his arms across his chest. “Yes, Tori, it is.”

Tori felt like screaming. This was not going as planned. James was meant to forgive her, the moment she batted her eyelashes at him. He was meant to say he was sorry, that he didn’t mean anything he’d said last night and that he wanted her back.

But he didn’t.

So why was she trying so hard to get him? She wasn’t in love with him, she even found him a bore to be around at times. He said she was the one who was all fun and games, when all he did was play pranks and humiliate every first year at the school. He was such a hypocrite. But she had to have him. She had to show she could get anything. And James Potter was still the most wanted boy in school.

Tori leaned very close to James, so that the nearby girls couldn’t hear her. “I get it, James Potter,” she said in a low voice. “You don’t want me anymore, is that it?”

James stood up. “I’d really rather you just leave me alone, Tori. Go find some other guy to hook up with.”

Tori widened her eyes deliberately. “You think I’m a total slut, don’t you?” she said in a little kid’s voice.

James didn’t say anything. He just gave her a dark look and began to walk away. Tori was glad there weren’t many other students left in the Common room. She wished she and James could talk in private, but there was no chance of that happening.

Feeling desperate, Tori grabbed James’ arm so that he had to face her. “I love you James,” she whispered, staring up into his dark eyes, but thinking about Albus’ green ones.

No. This was not the time to think about the other brother.

“You’re the one boy I’ve ever really loved. I lost my virginity to you!”

James’ eyes widened and Tori let go of his sleeve.

There. She’d said it. Told him.

The very reason she hadn’t told him she was a virgin was for this sort of situation. She knew that if you told a boy he was your first, they couldn’t go breaking up with you. That was the rule.

James looked around the room anxiously, then took Tori’s hand and dragged her to an empty corner of the room where they could talk in semi private.

“You…I’m the first guy you ever slept with?” he whispered, looking at her very seriously.

Tori bit her lip and nodded, trying to look as innocent and awkward as possible. She was a fantastic actress. She was born to be on Broadway.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“How could I? I was embarrassed James. I…I didn’t want you to get any ideas about me.” Tori put her head in her hands, and immediately felt James’ warm hands on her back.

“Hey!” he said, in a soothing sort of voice that Tori never thought she’d hear coming out of James Potter’s mouth. “This is my fault as well as yours,” he said. “If you didn’t feel…comfortable talking to me about this, then clearly I’m not as open as I should be.”

Tori made a sort of choked sound at the back of her throat. “It’s not your fault, James. Everything about you is perfect.”

But you’re not Albus.

James grinned, looking more like himself. “Well, would you look at that? Tori Heron just called me perfect,” he said, and Tori gave a watery grin. “What a lucky boy I am.”

Tori knew he was going to kiss her then. He was so predictable. So…ordinary.

She closed her eyes slightly as he did just that, maybe so that she didn’t have to face up to what she was doing. She knew as he kissed her that they were back together. Which was what she had wanted all along, right?

So why did she feel so bad?

The answer was too obvious.

James went up to bed near midnight, but Tori stayed alone in the Common room, curled up in an armchair in front of the fire, staring into the orange flames.

Everyone else had gone up to bed.

She was alone, fully and utterly alone for the first time in months. The fire crackled and Tori jumped, feeling oddly insecure and nervous. She had everything she wanted, here at Hogwarts: Popularity, which would continue to grow as long as she was the girlfriend of James Potter. Friends who did everything she told them, friends with no minds of their own. And here at Hogwarts…she didn’t have to face her aunt every morning. She didn’t have to be reminded that the whole catastrophe was all her fault, and that God would punish her when she died.

Life should be perfect.

But it wasn’t.

Tori sank down into the sofa, running her fingers across her lips, as though they had been poisoned. Maybe James was right. Maybe she was wrong for Albus-maybe he deserved better than her. She’d done nothing right in her life. She was a failure.

Later-it could’ve been minutes later, it could’ve been hours-Mickey and Aine came through the portrait hole, holding hands. They were both slightly pink and glowing.

They didn’t see Tori as they passed the fire, kissed and then went up to their separate dormitories. For some reason, Tori felt herself smiling slightly. She wasn’t used to being invisible, to being completely ignored, but the sight of Mickey and Aine together made her feel strangely…warm. They were the one good thing she’d done. Because of her, two people were happy.

The fire was hot and soon Tori felt herself closing her eyes.

Everything was going to be alright. She was Victoria Heron…

… “Tori? Tori!”

Tori’s eyes fluttered open.

She was still lying, slightly awkwardly, on the armchair in the Common room. The fire had gone out and her blonde hair was fanned out around her head. There was a blurred shape perched on the arm of the chair, and as Tori sat up sleepily and rubbed her eyes, she saw at once that it was Albus, and he was looking down at her curiously.

“Albus?” she murmured groggily.

His normally perfectly combed hair was ruffled and he had on striped pyjamas. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, so his eyes looked very large and he looked even younger than usual.

“Hey,” Albus whispered, looking nervous.

“What are you doing?” Tori mumbled. “I’m not wearing any make up.”

Albus chuckled. “Tori, I’m not wearing my glasses, I can’t even see you properly. And you look just as beautiful without any make up on.”

Tori pouted. She was still half asleep and couldn’t quite work out what was going on. “Don’t lie. I look ugly without make up, my skin is all pasty.”

Albus clambered onto the armchair next to Tori, and she swung her legs onto his lap. “Why are you out here, Tori?” Albus whispered, running his finger up and down her leg absentmindedly.

Tori shivered, and moved closer to him, until she was resting her head on his warm chest. “I didn’t want to go upstairs.”

“Why not?”

Tori looked up at him, her face below his. She wondered how clearly he could see her. “I’m a terrible person, Albus.”

“No you’re not. Don’t ever say that.”

“Yes I am!” said Tori, slightly desperately. There was a huge bubble of emotion in her chest that had been building and building over the last few days…a bubble that was about to spill over. “I fuck up everyone’s lives! I don’t deserve you! I don’t deserve anyone!” Her eyes were tearing up now and her voice was crackling and breaking, but Tori didn’t care.

Unlike when she was with James, this was real emotion.

“You don’t fuck up everyone’s life. Who told you that?”

Your brother.

Tori wiped vigorously at her eyes, because warm tears were spilling onto her face and into her hair. “I’m going to be alone for ever! I’ll end up one of those old ladies who have one hundred cats!” she whispered. “And now you’re laughing at me!” she added hysterically, because Albus was obviously trying not to smile.

She stared up at his sincere face and began to cry, her whole body shaking violently. She couldn’t stop once she’d started. She buried her face in her knees and let all her emotion out-the emotion that she’d kept buried for the last three years-since the last time she’d broken down like this. Her back was sticky with sweat, her nose was running and her whole face was wet with tears. She’d never been such a wreck. Nobody had ever seen her such a wreck. But Albus didn’t seem to care.

He put his arms around her and she laid her head on his lap, still trembling. She knew she was getting snot and tears all over his pyjamas but he didn’t move her away. He just stroked her back gently and ran his soft fingers through her hair.

He didn’t talk.

He didn’t try to kiss her.

He just held her. And that was all she needed.

Albus.



Over the following months, Tori realised she was sort of sneaking around with two guys-who just so happened to be brothers.

Of course, her relationship with James was very public, but she usually tried to avoid him whenever Albus was around, because this made for some very awkward encounters. She was sure that Albus knew that she was going out with James again, but he never commented on it.

No-one knew about Tori and Albus.

Tori knew that Albus wasn’t completely happy about keeping their relationship a secret, but there was nothing Tori could do about that. Not yet, anyway. Christmas was coming up, and she’d be able to dump James sometime after the Christmas holidays. Four months was enough to show you could hold onto a boy for as long as you wanted.

The strange thing was, Tori hadn’t hooked up with either of them during all the ‘sneaking around’. It was clear James wanted too-obviously, he was James Potter, the ladies man. But Tori kept making excuses. Oh! She had to finish an assignment for Professor Flitwick. Sorry! She’d promised Rebecca to help her with her homework…

She wasn’t sure James believed any of these excuses, as she hardly ever handed in homework on time-over the last few weeks she’d had almost as many detentions as Fred-and it was pretty clear she didn’t give a shit about Rebecca, who was always following her around like a lost puppy whenever she was trying to meet Albus. But ever since she’d dropped the V Bomb, James was treating her much more carefully, like she was a fragile China Doll, rather than the cheap Barbie she’d previously been to him.

Albus was different.

Neither of them felt pressured into doing anything they didn’t want to do. They made out in disused classrooms, abandoned corridors and (not to be cliché) broom cupboards, sure, but there was never any mention of sex.  Sometimes, Albus and Tori would just go and sit at the lake late at night and talk. Sometimes they wouldn’t even talk. But Albus had the ability to make Tori laugh-something no-one, no-one but her late father had ever been able to do before.

And, unlike James, Albus was nervous around Tori. He always asked permission before kissing her, always asked if she was alright.

Sometimes, Tori wondered whether they were actually brothers, they were so different in many ways.

Clementine and Lavender, especially, were very happy that James and Tori were back together. In fact, they were so happy, it seemed like they thought they were talking about their own relationship, rather that Tori’s.

“We always knew you two would get back together in the end,” Clementine said one day at breakfast, for what had to be the one hundredth time.

“Well,” said Tori, putting on her big, false smile. “We were made for each other, James and I.”

So romantic!” Clementine breathed, as Aine, who was sitting a little down the table mouthed Lavender’s next words: “Yes, so romantic!”

Tori had to fight the urge to smile at Aine, who had gone back to talking with Mickey and holding hands under the table. She hadn’t liked Aine at the start of the year, and she was definitely too knowing for her own good but…at least she had a brain that she actually used. And a personality.

Clementine and Lavender were like clones of each other.

And Boring Becky was just dull, dull, dull.

Near the end of term, Tori dragged Rebecca and the twins down to the lake to talk. It was freezing outside, and the ground was completely covered in snow, but Tori was desperate to escape James, who had just completed a detention for Professor Slughorn and was probably looking for a long snog session. He’d been getting suspicious lately, actually, about her behaviour. She knew she’d been avoiding him too much, but she just felt so ashamed every time she saw him.

Yet she couldn’t bring herself to break up with him.

Down by the lake, Rebecca did some clever little spell and made warm blue flames that could be kept in jars. They sat down under a large leafless tree and Tori stared out onto the iced over lake.

There was nobody else outside except a trio of third year boys who were trying to work out how far they could get over the lake without breaking the ice and falling in.

Idiots.

They kind of reminded Tori of James, Fred and Mickey.

“W-Why are we out here, Tori?” Rebecca shivered, and Tori looked at her blankly. Her lips were turning blue and her skin was so pale you could almost see her veins through it.

“The castle feels so claustrophobic sometimes,” Tori said easily. “I needed some fresh air.”

Broing Becky wrinkled up her nose. “In the dead of winter?”

Tori laughed breezily. “Don’t be a wimp, Becky,” she said. “Go inside if you want to, the rest of us don’t care.”

Even though it was cold, Rebecca’s cheeks still managed to go a little pink and she looked down at her feet, embarrassed.

“That’s what I thought,” said Tori in satisfaction.

There was suddenly a loud CRACK in the near distance and the sound of water splashing. One of the boys had fallen into the shallows of the icy lake. Clementine and Lavender gasped and clapped their hands to their mouths, but Tori just watched with dry amusement as the two other boys helped their shivering friend out of the water.

“Do you think we should go and help them?” Rebecca asked quietly.

Tori gave her a look. “Why? We don’t even know them. It was their own faults for going out onto the lake in the middle of winter.”

“But they’ll catch their deaths!”

Tori shrugs. “Who cares? We have more pressing issues.”

“Like what?” Clementine asked curiously. The stupid girl was far more interested in good gossip than she was in a third year boy falling into the lake.

“Boys,” said Tori.

Clementine and Lavender looked at each other in that oh-so-annoying way of theirs. “Boys?”

“Boys,” repeated Tori firmly. “Or lack thereof.”

“What’d you mean?” asked Rebecca, puzzled.

Tori sighed. “Come on ladies! We’re sixteen and none of you have boyfriends! Don’t you think that’s an issue?”

“Why?”

Tori stared at Boring Becky, the stupid twit. “Are you serious, Becky? If you don’t find a nice guy to canoodle with by the end of sixth year, you will no longer be my friend. It’s embarrassing.”

“How many boyfriends have you had, Tori?” Lavender asked excitedly.

“Loads,” said Tori airily. “But I didn’t really love anyone until James. You ladies don’t know how good love makes you feel! When you love someone…you feel like you’re walking on the clouds.”

Clementine sighed. “I’m so jealous of you and James!”

I’m not talking about James, Tori thought. Out loud she said; “I just want you guys to be happy! So we have to find you the perfect guys before Christmas.”

Clementine and Lavender immediately launched into a long and boring explanation of the hot guys in Ravenclaw they fancied. Tori wasn’t listening. She was staring at the expression of Boring Becky’s face. She didn’t need Rebecca to talk to tell her which boy she wanted before Christmas. It was written all over her face.

“What about you, Becky?” she asked, interrupting Clementine mid sentence, who looked at her with a dejected expression on her face. “Not still in to boring old Albus, are you?”

Rebecca bit her lip. “Actually, I…”

“Because Albus has a girlfriend,” said Tori loudly, and she saw Rebecca’s face fall.

Take that, you nasty bitch.

“He…he does?”

Tori nodded. “James told me. Apparently she’s super pretty. So, no offence, Becky, but you don’t stand a chance. I think it’s time you moved on.”

Rebecca looked like she was about to cry. For a moment, for a tiny moment, Tori felt bad for what she’d said. But then she remembered who she was: the amazing Tori Heron. She didn’t care about anyone.



“I love you.”

James and Tori were in a small, dusty room at the end of the third floor corridor, James leaning into to Tori who was pressed up against a stone wall.

She looked up at him with all the sexy she could conjure. “Do you just?”

James grinned cockily and moved in towards her. “Mmm hmm,” he whispered into her ear. With one hand on her upper thigh, he moved his other hand to her hair. He pulled it slightly, exposing more of her neck. Tori leaned back, closing her eyes. She could feel James’ warm fingers running up and down her spine…

This was wrong. This was wrong.

Opening her eyes, Tori tried to push James away from her. “Stop,” she said quietly.

James frowned at her. “What’s wrong babe?”

“We shouldn’t be doing this,” Tori said, struggling to get away from him. But Quidditch had made him strong.

He pushed her back against the wall. Her head cracked against the stone and she tried not to wince. She wasn’t enjoying this anymore. She wasn’t in control.

James laughed. “No more games, Tor,” he whispered, his hand creeping higher and higher up her back, his lips moving down to her chest.

Tori was breathing very heavily. She wanted him to stop. She didn’t want to do this anymore.

Still smiling cockily, James dropped the straps of her bra off her shoulders.

Tori closed her eyes again and surrendered to his touch…

… “You’re coming to my house for Christmas,” James said, zipping up his trousers.

Tori looked at him blankly as she buttoned up her school blouse with slightly fumbling fingers. She felt disgusted at herself for what she had just done. She didn’t know how much longer she could keep this up.

“What?”

James grinned at her. “You heard. I’ve told my folks a lot about you, and they want to meet you. They’ve invited you round for Christmas.”

Tori stared at him, still not really registering what he was saying. “Your parents want to meet me? Why?”

James rolled his eyes. “They are far too interested in my personal life, that’s why. I think dad's worried I’m going to knock some girl up, drop out of school and become a baby daddy.”

Tori forced a laugh. The thought of meeting James and Albus’ parents scared her to pieces. Not only did their parents happen to be Harry and Ginny Potter, but what if they realised she was a fake? That she was only dating their oldest son to gain popularity and loyalty at Hogwarts? If she went to the Potter’s house for Christmas…she’d be in the same house as both James and Albus, and that was sure to get awkward. But if she said no to James’ offer, his suspicion levels would become even higher. And she’d have to spend the whole Christmas break with her aunt, which was not a very appealing idea.

“Alright,” she found herself saying. “I’ll come to your house for Christmas.”

“Yes!” said James, pumping his fist in the air. “Babe, we are going to have one hell of a Christmas!” he said, pulling her in for a hug.

Tori smiled dryly over his shoulder. Yes James, she thought, we totally are.



The last day of term came far too quickly for Tori’s liking. She’d sent an owl to her aunt to tell her she wouldn’t be returning home for Christmas, and her aunt had replied, asking whether it was possible for her to stay at Hogwarts for the summer holidays as well. This didn’t bother Tori, particularly, she knew her aunt hated her. Luckily, the feeling was mutual.

Snow was piling up around the Hogwarts castle-the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, Hagrid, could be seen around the grounds with a gigantic shovel, trying to make pathways in the huge mounds of snow. Fred was in a particularly happy mood. He kept popping up all over the place to sing stupid Christmas carols Tori had never heard before. This always irritated Tori to no end, but she tried not to show it. She should be happy. She was going to her perfect boyfriend’s house, for a perfect Christmas.

But, in truth, Christmas brought up a lot of bad memories. And Tori wasn’t really feeling in the Christmas spirit this year.

The snow was too thick for the Hogwarts Express to take students home to their families, so the Floo Network was set up in the Transfiguration Office, much to Tori’s disgust. She’d only ever travelled by Floo Powder once, and it had been a horrific experience. It had taken days to clean the soot out from underneath her nails.

At five o’clock, the sixth year Gryffindor’s were called to the Transfiguration Office to go home. Tori couldn’t remember the last time she had been this nervous. She, Tori Heron, who never got nervous. It was unnatural.

Professor Smith glared at Tori, as he always did, when she walked into his office, holding James’ hand.

“Is there something I can help you with?” she asked sweetly, batting her eyes.

Smith glared at her even harder. It made him look like a wrinkled up grape. “You’re lucky it’s the holidays, Heron,” he said quietly. “You didn’t show up to your detention last night. Forgot, I daresay. How convenient.”

Tori rolled her eyes. “Move aside, Smithy,” she said irritably, and Smith’s face went an ugly shade of purple. “Unlike you, I have somewhere to be these holidays.”

“Tori…” said James warningly, but Tori ignored him. She’d had enough of Smith. Ever since the rat incident at the start of term he’d been on her. Giving her detentions for things like laughing too loudly and wearing her skirt too short. Well, she’d show him he didn’t intimidate her. That she wasn’t scared of anything.

“Come on James,” said Tori loudly, squeezing his hand and pulling him towards the fireplace, which was glowing with magical green flames.

Yuck. Green made Tori’s skin look washed out and sickly.

Ignoring this unsavoury fact, Tori daintily took a handful of Floo powder and stepped into the flames, pulling James in after her. The flames didn’t burn her, of course. Instead she felt a strange sensation, rather like stepping into a swimming pool on a very cold winter’s day. Tori took one last look around the room. She was pleased to see that everyone in the room was staring at her with their mouths open wide.

Now that was how you made an impression.

Tori turned round, smiled cheekily at James then shouted “The Potter House!” before dumping the powder into the flames.

There was a loud whooshing sound in her ears and Tori closed her eyes as she felt herself tumbling through time and space. At that moment, she was glad she had James’ hand to cling on to.

Finally, the whooshing stopped, and Tori felt herself hit solid ground.

Opening her eyes, she clambered to her feet, brushing soot off her expensive lace skirt and smoothing her hair back into place.

“You really shouldn’t be such a bitch to the teachers, Tor,” James said suddenly.

Tori glared at him. “What’s it to you? You and Freddy get detentions all the time.”

James sat up, rubbing his head with a grimace on his face. “Yeah, but sometimes you just take it too far.”

Tori didn’t say anything. Instead she took the opportunity to stare around the room she had found herself in.

“Holy shit,” she breathed, looking around at what appeared to be an expensively furnished drawing room. “You live here?”

James rolled his eyes, getting to his feet and brushing off his jeans. “My dad gets paid a load of galleons each month for his victorious defeat of Voldemort,” he said, rolling his eyes. ‘Even though Voldemorts been gone for over twenty years.”

“Well, that’s good isn’t it?” Tori asked. “Don’t you get everything you want?”

James gave her a look, and shrugged. “I don’t really care about stuff,” he said and began walking out of the room, without even looking behind to see if Tori was following.

Tori stared at him.

What was going on?

Was he…pissed off at her? What had she done this time?

It was getting harder and harder to hold onto him. Every little thing she said…every miniscule thing she did she was judged for. And Tori didn’t like it.

Just a few more weeks, Tori, she told herself. Just a few more weeks and then you can dump him, before he dumps you.



“So Victoria,” said Mrs Potter cheerfully, as Tori helped herself to the least fatty looking thing on the table: green beans. Everything else was smothered in butter and grease. Did the Potter’s want to make her fat? She had to be very careful with her weight-it had taken a lot of effort to squeeze herself into a size four dress. “What brought you to Hogwarts?”

Shit.

The very first question the Potter’s asked her was the one Tori had hoped to avoid. She could hardly tell them she’d been expelled from Beauxbatons, could she? Even James didn’t know that. The only person she’d told was…

Tori’s eyes slid across the table.

Albus was sitting across from her, looking stiff and awkward. His eyes were down at his plate, refusing to meet hers. Surely he wouldn’t…tell his parents why Tori was at Hogwarts. Or even worse why she got expelled?

He was better than that. Better than Tori ever would be.

Tori smiled pleasantly at Mrs Potter, who was still smiling cheerfully. “Beauxbatons just wasn’t pushing me enough, I guess,” she said, tossing her hair behind her shoulder. “The students there…they just don’t focus on their studies enough for my liking. It’s all parties and social occasions for them.”

James snorted into his potatoes, and Tori shot him a glare. Idiot.

“Aunty Fleur went to Beauxbatons,” James and Albus’ little sister, Lily, piped up from the end of the table. She was thirteen years old and had flaming red hair that made it look like her whole head was on fire.

Mrs Potter made a face. “And what does that tell you about Beauxbatons, Lil? We all know Fleur isn’t the brightest fish in the sea.”

Mr Potter rolled his eyes. “Not this again, Gin. I can’t believe you still have a problem with Fleur, after all these years.”

Mrs Potter glared at him. “Oh, shut up Harry,” she said playfully. “We all know you were…taken by Fleur in your fourth year.”

“I was not!” cried Mr Potter as Albus, James and Lily laughed. “Okay, maybe I was a bit, but I couldn’t help it, she’s part Veela…”

“Aunt Fleur was in the Triwizard Tournament the same year as dad,” James explained to Tori.

“You bet her, didn’t you dad!” said Lily happily, and everyone laughed again.

Tori bit her lip and looked down at her small pile of green beans. What was she doing here? The Potter’s seemed so…happy together. A happiness she couldn’t even remember. Her aunt hated her and the rest of her family was gone. How could she just come in here, toy with the two Potter boys until she got what she wanted? If James ever found out…it would break him.

“So Victoria,” said Mr Potter. “What are your interests? Play Quidditch by any chance?”

“Our family is Quidditch mad!” beamed Lily, smiling at Tori. For some reason, she’d developed an instant liking for Tori, though she could not work out why. “We all play.”

“Tori doesn’t like sport, do you Tor?” said James, giving her a look that Tori couldn’t read. Was his comment meant as an insult?

Tori flashed him a very false smile. “No, I don’t,” she said. “But I do have many other interests.”

James snorted. “Like what?”

Tori stared at him. Was he being serious? Was he trying to get his parents to hate her?

“Tori is amazing at Charms,” said Albus suddenly, and everyone turned to stare at him.

James gave his brother a quizzical look. “How would you know?”

Albus smiled at Tori, who felt her heart pounding. Don’t make it obvious, Albus, she thought desperately, suddenly remembering the first time Albus had seen her do proper Charms work. They’d made out right afterwards. “Professor Flitwick’s always going on about her,” Albus said, and Tori breathed a small sigh of relief as the suspicion vanished from James’ face. Albus put on a high pitched voice as he imitated old Flitwick. “You should all look up to Victoria Heron from the year above. She does the most fantastic Aguamenti Charm!”

Tori wondered whether Flitwick really said those things about her, or whether Albus was making them up. Either way, it was very nice of him to say so.

“Our other teachers don’t like Tori much though, do they?” said James, grinning a strange sort of smile. “Especially Smith.”

Tori frowned. He was totally trying to insult her in front of his parents. Well, that was all very well. But she knew things about him, too…things he probably wouldn’t want his parents to know…

Mr Potter groaned. “I can’t believe that dickhead…”

“HARRY!” shouted Mrs Potter.

“Sorry, Gin. I can’t believe that first rate asshole is actually teaching classes. I think McGonagall’s a bit past it to be honest.”

Tori giggled. “I think you’re right, Mr Potter. She’s always giving James detentions, isn’t she James?”

She saw the muscles in James’ jaw tense up. Serves you right, she thought.

“Detentions?” said Mrs Potter curiously, looking from Tori to James and back again.

“Oh yes,” said Tori, widening her eyes sweetly. “Just last week James got a double detention from McGonagall for failing to complete a month’s work of homework in all his classes.”

Mrs Potter was looking horrified. “A months worth of homework! James, I thought after last year…”

“Leave it, Gin,” said Mr Potter wearily, running a hand through his rumpled hair. As he did so, Tori could just make out his famous lightening bolt scar. “We have a guest. We’ll talk about this later.”

James was staring daggers at Tori, who beamed at him. “You’re awfully quiet, babe.” She turned to smile at the Mr and Mrs Potter. “He’s never this quiet at school. Especially on the weekends.”

Tori’s eyes flicked over to where Albus was sitting, and saw that he was looking at her curiously. As their eyes met, they both swiftly looked away from each other.

“The weekends?” Mrs Potter looked curiously at her son.

“She means when we all hang out and aren’t in class,” said James swiftly, though there was a muscle in jaw working. “We have to be quiet in class. You have no idea how quick Smith gives out detentions to us Gryffindors.”

Mr Potter snorted. “He always did have a grudge against Ron and I…”

Even Mrs Potter seemed to relax a bit, so Tori quickly said; “You know that’s not what I mean, James! You can get pretty rowdy at all our parties.”

“Parties?” asked Mrs Potter.

She could see a stab of panic behind James’ eyes, which made her smirk in satisfaction. It’s not like he ever actually did anything wrong, but Tori knew he’d gotten into trouble in the past, which was why his parents were keeping a more watchful eye on him. They wouldn’t want him mixing with anyone they considered a bad influence. Yes, Tori had come to the Potter’s house for the Christmas holidays with the intention of making their relationship stronger. Showing to his parents what a great, sweet girlfriend she was, so that James would be forced to hold on to her.  But suddenly, looking across the table at Albus, who was nervously prodding his potatoes and refusing to look at her, Tori didn’t care anymore. She didn’t love James and she never would. And she would not let him make a fool of her in front of the famous Harry Potter.

“I do not get rowdy,” said James, through gritted teeth.

Tori laughed. “Sure you do! Do you remember that time…”

Shut up Tor,” said James in a dangerously quiet voice, so that only she could hear.

“Go on,” said Mr Potter, looking surprisingly stern.

“Well, I don’t really know too much, of course,” said Tori. “I don’t drink or do drugs or anything, so I usually leave early.”

“Are you implying James does?” said Mr Potter quietly, looking across the table at his son, who was white faced and steaming.

“Of course not!” said Tori, in a voice as unconvincing as she could make it.

“Dad,” said Albus quietly. “Dad, James never…”

“Shut it, Al,” said James suddenly. “None of us need your opinion.”

The table suddenly went silent as everyone stared at James in shock. Thirteen year old Lily was looking at her parents with wide, scared eyes. Clearly, she’d never seen her parents get angry. What an impact Tori had.

She prodded one of her beans with her fork and stuck it in her mouth. She chewed slowly and deliberately, revelling in the looks she was getting from all the Potter’s around the table. “These beans are great,” she said cheerfully.

James suddenly stood up. His chair scraped loudly against the hard wood floor.

“Oh, are you leaving?” Tori asked, looking up at him.

He looked down at her and his expression sent shivers up Tori’s spine. His brown eyes were even darker than usual and he looked pissed…no, he looked furious.

“Yes,” he said quietly, grabbing Tori’s arm. “And you’re coming with me.”

Mr and Mrs Potter stared at their son with bewildered faces as he dragged Tori out of the room, out into the lavish hallway next door.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he shouted, and Tori looked around nervously, worried his parents would hear. She didn’t particularly fancy getting kicked out of their house. Then where would she go? To her aunts? She didn’t think so.

“Will you keep your voice down?” Tori hissed, folding her arms across her chest stubbornly.

James laughed loudly and stepped back slightly, running both hands through his dark hair. “What’s your problem, Tor? One minute you’re all…all sweet and innocent and the next…”

“You’re not so innocent yourself,” Tori snarled. “Do your parents know how many girls you slept around with last year?”

“Just stop. You’re not freaking me out the way you’re hoping to, Tori. I’m okay with losing you-shit, I couldn’t care less if I never saw you again. But you don’t need to blatantly lie to my parents on the way there.”

Tori smiled slightly. “I’ve been at Hogwarts for one term and I’ve already got everyone under my thumb.”

“So?”

The question hung in the air. Tori didn’t have an answer-there was no answer, besides I hoped it would make me happy. But it hadn’t, had it? Being the popular girl everyone wanted to be hadn’t made her happy. And Tori was just realising it now.

James smirked. “You can’t answer, can you? You selfish bitch.”

CRACK!

Tori slapped him across his stupid face with all the force and anger she could muster. “You leave me alone, James Potter!” she hissed, before stalking away, up the stairs and into the guest room where she was sleeping. She slammed the door shut behind her, not even caring that this wasn’t her house, that it didn’t belong her.

She lay face up on the bed with the intention of crying, but the tears wouldn’t come, so she just stared at the ceiling. She’d fucked up, royally.

Tori lay on the bed for what must have been hours. By the time she summoned the willpower to get up, the sky which could be seen through the small window in her room was dark and twinkling with little silver stars. Tori stood up and stumbled over to the large mirror, putting her hands on the wooden surface of the dressing table.

She looked like utter crap.

Her skin was pale and her mascara was smudged. Her hair was knotted at the back-no longer silky and smooth but straggly and wavy. Tori put a hand to her stomach.

She felt sick.

She shouldn’t have said all those things to James. Now he’d well and truly hate her. What was she going to do when she got back to Hogwarts? What was she going to do for the rest of Christmas break? Tori exhaled deeply and a sudden wave of nausea hit her. She froze slightly.

Oh god. Oh god.

Tori bolted into the guest bathroom and vomited into the toilet bowl, her stomach churning.

This was the end of the fabulous Tori Heron.



After a long, hot shower, Tori climbed into the lacy white night dress she’d brought especially for James, and put her wet hair up into a messy knot at the top of her head. After dumping her fluffy white towel onto the bed, she silently opened the door of the guest room, and snuck out into the dark hallway beyond, wand in hand There was no sound from downstairs and all the lights had been extinguished. The Potter’s were all asleep.

“Lumos,” Tori whispered, and a small light appeared at the end of her wand.

Creeping down the hallway as quietly as she could, Tori scanned the doors that greeted her. They all had silver plates on them, explaining which room was which. Illuminated by the light of her wand, Tori read ‘Library’, ‘Playroom’ and ‘Trophy Room’.

The Potter’s seriously had a Trophy Room? How modest of them.

Turning a sharp corner, Tori entered a narrower hallway. She passed a room with ‘Lily’ written carefully on the door, and then ‘James’. And then, finally, at very end of the hallway ‘Albus.’ Biting her lip, Tori quietly knocked on the door.

For a moment, for one horrible moment, Tori thought he wouldn’t answer. That she’d have to go back to her bedroom, alone. But then the door swung open, and Albus stood there, dressed only in a pair of pyjama bottoms. “Alright, alright mum!” he shouted loudly. “I’m…oh.”

“Hey,” said Tori, and her voice came out all watery and wavery.

Damn. Just when she was trying to sound sexy and seductive, her emotions got the better of her. And Merlin, Albus looked hot without his shirt…

Albus looked down self consciously. “Tori? What are you doing in here?” he whispered.

Tori shrugged, suddenly feel very uncomfortable, waiting outside in the hallway. “Couldn’t sleep,” she muttered.

“You and James had a fight.” It was a statement, not a question.

Tori shrugged, and to her horror, she felt tears stinging at her eyes. Why did she always end up crying in Albus’ presence? But then Albus was there, his arms around her, as he pulled her into his room and sat her down on the end of his bed. Tori was suddenly all to aware of how close he was…and how much bare skin he was revealing.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Albus whispered, sitting down on the bed as well.

Tori shook her head wordlessly, and looked around the room. It was very messy, as she expected most boys bedrooms were. In all honesty, Albus was the first boy she’d ever been into the bedroom of. His floor was covered in dirty, creased clothing and his walls were hung with posters of his favourite Quidditch team and Wizarding Band. In the corner of the room, his trunk was open and his books, quills and parchment were spilling out of it. On the wall next to the bed were several pictures of Albus with his family on a trip to Switzerland. Tori’s eyes immediately flickered to a picture of Albus with James and Lily. They were all grinning and waving at the camera-James had his arm around Albus’ shoulders.

Albus looked down at his feet when he realised Tori was examining his room. “I’ve never had a girl in here before,” he said, blushing. “If…if I’d realised you were going to be in here, I would’ve cleaned up or something.” He gestured vaguely at the unmade bed and large stack of Martin Miggs comics. Tori didn’t say anything. Just continued staring blankly into space. It was all very distracting, having Albus’ bare chest so close to her. He didn’t have fantastic abs like James, but…

Stop comparing him to James, Tori told herself fiercely, cringing as the memory of James yelling at her came back, you and James are over.

“Talk to me, Tori,” Albus said desperately. “I never know what’s going on in your head anymore!”

Tori looked up at him, into his wide, sincere green eyes. “I don’t want to talk,” she whispered finally, and her voice came out slightly hoarse. She reached up carefully and removed Albus’ glasses. He watched her warily.

“What do you want me to do then?” he whispered, and there was definitely a tremble in his voice this time.

“Kiss me.”

Albus pulled her towards him and kissed her, and for a moment, Tori froze against his warm chest. She could feel every single beat of his heart, feel him breathing shakily beneath her. She was very aware that he was wearing only pyjama bottoms and she only a thin night dress. His lingering kiss was the sort that turned her insides to water-the sort that made her feel as though nothing was wrong…

Because, when she was with him, nothing was wrong.

When she was with Albus, everything felt right it the world.

But the problems were still there, hidden under a jumble of lies, waiting to be re-released.



A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter! And I just wanted to thank everyone for all the helpful feedback I've been recieving. It means a lot.

Courtney:)


Chapter 13: Me
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Image by heartfelt. @TDA

 

 “So how was your holiday, Mickey?” Fred asks, biting into a large piece of toast. It’s so loaded with melted butter that it all oozes around his mouth, however Fred doesn’t seem to care.

The Christmas holidays clearly haven’t changed Fred at all. He’s still the biggest food lover I’ve ever met.

“Pretty good,” says Mickey, but then rolls his eyes. “’Cept my dad was on me the whole time to practise Quidditch. The day before Christmas he woke me at bloody five am to go out to the meadow and play with him. Sometimes I wonder if he’s clinically insane.”

“Good man,” says James approvingly, slapping him on the back. “We’ve got a match against Ravenclaw coming up, and we’ll need to slaughter them if we want to solidify our chances of winning the house cup.”

Aine rolls her eyes. “Oh, not this again!”

It’s our first official day back at Hogwarts, and the Great Hall is especially loud this morning as everyone chatters excitedly about their holidays. Aine and I are both snuggled up to our gorgeous boyfriends, though Fred sits alone with a large plate of food in front of him. This doesn’t seem to concern him, though. Not much seems to concern Fred, actually. He’s a pretty laid back guy.

“There was this hot little minx working at the card shop down the road though,” Mickey continues happily.

Aine glares at him sharply. “Mick! Girlfriend present!”

Mickey grins sheepishly. “Sorry, babe,” he says, ruffling up her curly hair. “But I wasn’t meaning I thought she was hot. I was only…observing her for Fred’s benefit.”

Aine snorts and Fred says; “Hey! I can find girls for myself thank you very much!”

We all look at him.

Fred folds his arms defensively. “What? You guys don’t think I’m capable of finding a hot girl to…”

“Random hook ups do not count, Fred,” Aine says firmly. “Don’t you want to find a girl you can actually talk with?”

Fred scrunches up his nose. “Yuck. No thanks. Girls are all over-emotional and melodramatic.”

“Cheers to that!” says Mickey, raising his glass of pumpkin juice, and Aine gives him yet another glare.

“Well, I’ve got my perfect girl right here,” James declares, putting his arm around me.

I feel myself blushing as both Fred and Mickey groan.

“Jamesy, you’re going all soft on us!” Fred cries

“Just because you have the maturity of a pygmy marmoset,” Aine snorts.

Fred grins at her. “I have no idea what that is, so I’ll take it as a compliment,” he says.

Our first class after breakfast is Transfiguration and Professor Smith, unfortunately, is in a very bad mood.

Aine and I settle ourselves at the front of the class as we always do as he literally storms into the class, his canary yellow robes swinging around him, a heavy scowl on his face. As the whole class waits in silence for Smith to address us, I take a proper look around. James, Fred and Mickey are at the back of the class-quiet, for a change, but James appears to be scrawling a note to Fred on a loose piece of parchment. Sitting in front of them are the group of lofty Hufflepuffs that Smith favours and to the right, a small group of Slytherin boys James and the others like to play pranks on.

Yes, my boyfriend is super smexy but he is also immature as hell. He thinks putting notes that say ‘Hex Me’ on people’s backs is funny and original.

Okay, I have to admit that when one of James’ ‘Curse Me’ signs resulted in Slytherin sixth year, Alec Nott, being sent to the hospital wing with a walrus tail, it was rather funny. He looked pretty hilarious flapping around the potions corridor!

And then, to the left of Aine and I, is my old friend Rebecca Kale, sitting hunched up and alone at her desk, staring fixedly down at her pile of books.

I have to admit she doesn’t look good. There are dark shadows under her eyes and she looks as though she hasn’t eaten in days-her school blouse is hanging off her shoulders like it doesn’t fit her properly anymore. And is it just me, or is her right hand, the one holding the quill, shaking ever so slightly?

“…Miss Parker?” says Professor Smith expectantly and I look up, realising that he’s talking to me.

Crap.

Smith has this uncanny ability to pick on students who haven’t been listening to a word he says.

“Er…?” I say uncertainly.

Smith narrows his eyes at me impatiently. “Well, well Miss Parker. Not paying attention in the first lesson of term? You do realise NEWTS are coming up, don’t you?”

I bow my head, flushing.  Alright, I know this sounds super nerdy, but I absolutely hate getting told off by teachers. Especially in front of the whole class, with a group of Slytherins snickering at me.

Smith sneers unpleasantly. “Maybe you should have stayed in home school Miss Parker,” he says, and I continue to stare down at my heavily doodled on desk. “And ten points from Gry…”

He never gets to finish his sentence, because at the moment there is a loud BANG from the right side of the class and several loud shouts.

I turn around at once, cheeks still stained pink to see that the Slytherin boys have all leaped out of their seats and are covered in green goo. Someone has sent a giant slingshot full of slime in their direction, and I don’t need to look around and see James wink at me to know who’s behind it.

Oh, James.

That must have been what he was writing to Fred about, the idiot. Though he really does have spectacular timing, as he just prevented Smith from deducting ten points from Gryffindor-from me! I’ve never lost a single point before!

“SILENCE!” shouts Smith furiously and the Slytherins immediately stop jumping around like headless chooks, seething, and James, Fred and Mickey try to contain their laughter. “YOU THREE!” Smith bellows, pointing in the direction of the three troublemakers. “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE PLAYING AT?”

“Oh, leave them alone will ya, you fat worm,” says Aine boldly, and I look at her with wide eyes.

Seriously, Aine? On the first day back? That girl has guts.

“DETENTION MISS FINNIGAN!” roars Smith, and I see Clementine and Lavender, who are sitting right before him, flinch back in their seats-they both still have pink streaks in their hair-clearly McGonagall hasn’t seen them yet. “AND YOU TOO POTTER, WEASLEY AND WOOD!” he continues, and the boys stop chuckling at once. “I’ve had enough! Your NEWTS are not far away, and none of you are taking these very important examinations seriously!”

“Woah, keep your pants on!” Aine mutters, so that only I can hear. “Seriously… none of us want to see what’s underneath.”

This term looks like it’s going to be a lot more work than the last one. Brilliant. Just what I need, on top of all the Tori drama that’s still circling the school.

It appears its not just Professor Smith who has suddenly gotten serious about our examinations.  My next class is Defence Against the Dark Arts, and our middle-aged teacher, Professor Jenkins, spends about half an hour talking about the utter importance of these exams and how for the rest of the term, we’ll be revisiting everything we’ve learnt over the years, that is likely to come up in the exam.

Great. Defence Against the Dark Arts is my worst subject. I wouldn’t have taken it, but mum is still scared there’s going to be another Lord Voldemort and forced me into it.

“Hey, don’t worry!” says James, grinning at my frightened expression as our DADA Professor launches into an explanation of the theory behind performing a non-verbal blasting curse. “I’m amazing at Defence. I can give you some one on one tutoring.” He winks at me seductively, and I can’t help but roll my eyes.

“That’s a bit big headed, don’t you think?” I say, though it’s completely true. James masters every task we get set immediately, which annoys the majority of the class, as James Potter is well known for never studying. I wonder how he’ll cope with the pressure of exams…

Even teachers like Professor Longbottom start putting the pressure on us. In my first Herbology lesson, he announces that not only will be training Transylvanian Flesh-Eaters (yes, even the name sounds dangerous) to not eat humans, we’ll be expected to write three rolls of parchment each week on our progress…if we don’t get eaten before exams, that is.

Divination steps up a notch too, when Professor Moon announces we will be decoding each others dreams and in potions, Slughorn rumbles that we will be starting the difficult and long process of brewing Armortentia, which will take up the rest of the term.

By the end of the day, as Aine and I trudge up the stairs to our dormitory, all I want to do is collapse on my bed, fall asleep and never wake up. In dreams there is no homework and no teachers threatening to deduct points for not listening in class.

Of course collapsing on my bed does no good for my already churning brain, as I am greeting with those awful pictures of Tori, fluttering her eyelashes at me.

Urgh.

How on earth am I going to last the rest of the term without suffering from a severe mental breakdown?

There is of course, only one solution:

Chocolate. My answer to everything.




The next few weeks pass by in a haze-of both good times and bad.

Winter is nowhere near over, and the castle is sometimes so cold and dark that extra torches and lanterns have to be lit in the corridors and the windows shake in the frosty wind.

Though Rebecca appears to have made a vow of silence, I still catch her glaring at me whenever she sees James and I together, even if we’re just sitting next to each other, talking.

If someone so much as smiles in Transfiguration, Smith gives us another long lecture about NEWTS, usually involving the deducting of several Gryffindor points-largely thanks to Fred, who usually finds these lectures extremely amusing.

On the upside, James was serious about his offer to give me one on one tutoring for Defence. However, these one on ones generally turn into long snog sessions, so we don’t get much work done.

You have no idea how amazing it feels to say ‘snog session’ when it involves me and James Potter-together. Even though we’ve been dating for almost three months now, all the time I spend with him still feels surreal, like it could be ripped from me at any moment.

Which it will be, if Tori suddenly turns up again.

Shut up brain.

On another positive note, Gryffindor thrashed Ravenclaw in the last Quidditch match which is very good news, according to James. He is always in good spirits after he wins a Quidditch match which is great, because moody, brooding James is no fun at all to be around. But moody James hardly ever appears these days, which makes me very happy, because it means he’s slowly forgetting Tori Heron, as horrible as that sounds.

January soon dissolves into February and I find myself feeling shocked that so much time has passed without me really noticing. Maybe it’s because us seventh years have a lot on our plates at the moment-the teachers are loading us with the most absurd amount of homework-but I don’t seem to be getting as many glares as I used to. Most people still wear their FIND TORI badges proudly on their chests, sure, but no-one (apart from Rebecca) feels the need to flash these at me with sneers written all over their faces.

In the middle of February, we are all surprised when Professor Jenkins drags us out of our moderately warm Defence Class, down into the very cold Dungeons. Honestly, they should make teaching in dungeons illegal. My whole body turns into an icicle whenever we have Potions, even when I’m standing in front of my warm cauldron.

It’s like child abuse.

Of course, Professor Slughorn probably doesn’t realise how cold it is down there, as he has plenty of blubber to keep him warm.

Anyways…

“Right class,” says Professor Jenkins, clapping his hands together as we form a bunch around him in the cold dungeon.

Merlin, I can feel my feet going numb and they’re inside a pair of furry boots…

“Today we will be revisiting the dark creature that many of you struggled to defend yourselves against in the third year. I have no doubt you will all easily be able to deal with this creature now, but I thought we should probably revisit it, just to make sure.”

“Well hurry up and tell us what it is then!” Fred grumbles, under his breath so that only those around him can hear. “If we don’t get this lesson over and done with soon, I’m going to freeze my little toosh off.”

Aine snorts loudly. “Don’t say little toosh please, Fred,” she says. She’s wearing a fluffy beanie but her lips have still turned blue. “It puts a terrible picture in my head.”

“…can anybody tell me what creature is inside this chest?” Professor Jenkins continues, gesturing to the large wooden case sitting slightly behind him.

To nobody’s surprise, James raises his hand. Defence is the only class where he actually volunteers information. Any other time, he’s usually too busy sword fighting with joke wands at the back of the class to pay attention.

“A boggart,” says James in his cocky I’m-so-clever voice. “They’re known for hiding away in dark places.”

Professor Jenkins smiles. “You’re right, of course,” he says, and the class begins murmuring amongst themselves happily. They all probably think dealing with a boggart is a piece of cake. After all, they did it in their third year. I’ve studied the boggart, sure, but I’ve never actually dealt with a real one before, and that makes me nervous.

“I can’t believe we’re studying boggarts with our NEWTS so close,” Aine murmurs in my ear, confirming my suspicions. “They must be the easiest creatures to deal with in the world.”

I give a laugh that I hope is free from the nerves that are swarming around my body like a hoard of angry wasps.

Hang on…what do you call a group of wasps? Hoard doesn’t sound right…maybe it’s a pack of angry wasps…

Shut up. I make no sense when I’m nervous.

 “Yeah. Easy,” I lie.

“Alright, everyone get in a line so we can all practise on the boggart separately,” Professor Jenkins instructs, and there is the great shuffling of feet as everyone hurries into the queue. I see Clementine and Lavender, both wearing large fluffy pairs of earmuffs, hurrying to stand near the Ravenclaw boys they like. I quietly sidle to the back of the line, hoping that there won’t be enough time for me to have a go.

“Everybody ready?” Professor Jenkins calls out loudly, his hands on the clasps of the large chest. “Fred, you’re first!” he says, and opens the chest.

There is a nose like bath water going down the plug. You know, that gurgling, hissing sort of noise that sounds like one of my dad’s farts. Trust me, you do not want to be on the receiving end of one of those. They’re enough to make any person pass out...

I look up to see a huge shape ascending from the chest-pale skin…swirling cloak…sharp fangs.

It’s a vampire.

“Riddikulus!” bellows Fred, pointing his wand straight at the malevolent looking creature. There is a crack, like the sound of a whip, and the vampire-boggart stumbles slightly.

It has turned into a clown with a brightly painted face and multi coloured suit. The class bursts into laughter and Fred turns around, grinning as always, and does a little bow.

Slowly, I get closer and closer to the front of the line as each student takes their turn with the boggart.

CRACK!-the boggart turns into a fanged serpent…CRACK! A feral looking dog…CRACK! A dark robed figure…”Alright Aine, your turn!” Professor Jenkins shouts loudly and Aine, who is standing in front of me, grins and steps forward.

Oh no. Oh no, oh no! It’s my turn next!I’m going to make a fool of myself in front of the whole class…

More of a fool than usual, I mean.

I have no idea what my worst fear is, so how am I supposed to know what to turn it into?

Corpses creep me out, but how do you turn a corpse into something funny?

CRACK!

Aine’s boggart (which is, for some reason, a very large fish) turns into a fish pie. Well, you can’t deny that girl is creative…

“Charlie, you’re up next!” Professor Jenkins says.

I am the only one left in line…

I step forward slowly, holding my wand out in a shaking hand. I must look like such a loser. No other seventh year is afraid of a boggart…

“You can do it, Charlie!” I hear James and Fred whoop encouragingly.

The fish-pie boggart begins to spin as it changes into what I fear most…and then…then Victoria Heron is standing in front of me, tossing her perfect blonde hair and looking down on me with a smirking, twisted expression on her face…

The class has fallen silent. This was not what I was expecting.

I raise my wand to perform the curse, but find that my whole body has gone rigid. I feel as though I’ve been super glued to the spot.

Tori comes closer to me, and she looks so…solid, so real that it’s hard to remember she’s not the real thing…

And then, the Tori-boggart begins to speak.

“You’ll never be good enough, Charlie Parker,” she says, and her voice comes out as a horrible hiss, eerily reminding me of the dream I had earlier in the year, the dream where Tori was standing in the middle of the lake. “You’ll never be as good as me…”

Somewhere in the distance I hear Professor Jenkins say “Perform the curse, Charlie!” but I can’t take my eyes away from the Tori, leering down at me.

“Nobody wants you,” Tori continues to hiss, and I realise that I’m trembling-and not just from the brutal cold of the dungeons. “Everyone wants me. And I’ll be back…I’ll be back…”

“RIDDIKULUS!”

James is standing in front of me, his arms outspread, his wand pointing straight at the boggart, which has suddenly turned into a flimsy ragdoll. I can see his chest rising and falling sharply as Professor Jenkins hurries forward and locks the boggart back in the case.

The class is still silent and my heart is pounding…I feel light headed…like I’m about to collapse…

I slowly back away from James, who is staring intently at the case with a strange, blank expression on his face…my hand grasps the edge of a cold table and I lean against it, closing my eyes…

Slowly, a murmur breaks out over the terrified class. Though I feel dizzy, I distinctly hear the voice of Rebecca Kale. “Do you know what this means?” she says loudly, and I know she wants me to hear. “This is a sign Tori is back!”

“Rebecca…” I hear Aine say softly, and then I hear Rebecca laugh-high, cruel and calculating.

I can’t take this anymore…

Snapping my eyes open, I run for the exit-my vision is blurred but I can see people turning around to stare at me, Aine calling out my name, Rebecca laughing even harder…

Once outside the dungeon, I slide down against the cold stone wall of the corridor, breathing heavily. Why did my boggart turn into Tori? How can I be afraid of something…someone I’ve never even met? And is it her I actually fear? Or the threat of being replaced by her?

I feel shaken. When will the Tori drama be over? Will I ever be able to stop living in her shadow?

“Charlie?”

I look up slowly to see James standing in front of me, looking down in concern. “Are you alright?”

I nod, trying to look convincing, which is pretty hard considering my boggart just turned into Tori, I bolted out of the class and am now sitting alone in a dark corridor.

“No you’re not,” says James, sliding his cloak off and draping it around my shoulders. I shiver slightly as the chilly material engulfs me, but immediately feel a little warmer. James sits down next to me and for a while, we both just sit in silence, mulling over what we just witnessed in our heads.

“You know she wasn’t real, right?” says James finally, looking at me very seriously. “Tori may have been…but she would never have said those things. That was the boggart talking, not Tori.”

“What must you think of me?” I say quietly, looking down at my knees. “I can’t even pull off a simple boggart repelling spell. I’m pathetic.”

James puts his arm around me. “No, you’re not. You’re one of the bravest people I’ve ever met.”

I snort. “You’re just trying to make me feel better,” I say. “I’m not remotely brave. I don't know why the stupid hat put me in Gryffindor.”

I’m not brave. A couple of years ago, mum and dad took me to this haunted house for my birthday. It wasn’t really haunted-just a whole lot of Muggles dressed up as creepy characters. The moment I saw the guy with the chainsaw, I panicked and bolted.

“If it will cheer you up and all, you should know even my grandma struggles with boggarts,” James says. “Last year she got one under her bed and mum had to go around to get it out for her. She said grandma was all hysterical and completely panicked.”

This does make me smile a little. But there’s still something nabbing at the back of my mind.

Why did my boggart turn into Tori?” I voice aloud, and I see James’ smile fade a little. We never talk about Tori, if we can help it. “I’ve never even met her!”

“She could be a pretty intimidating person,” says James quietly, and I look at him in surprise. His face as taken on that ‘far away’ quality, as though he’s reminiscing about his past, with Tori. Great. That’s all I need right now, for James to go back down Memory Lane. “I think the whole class was…in shock when they saw her. It feels like forever ago she went missing and…and some of us have probably forgotten what she looks like.”

I bite my lip, thinking over what he’s said. I wonder if he remembers what Tori looks like?

Pfft. Stupid, stupid me. Of course he remembers what she looks like. Tori Heron could’ve been a supermodel.

For some reason, I suddenly remember my encounter with Albus Potter, just after the Christmas break. How I told myself I’d find out why the two Potter brothers hate each other so much.

I peer at James, who is staring into space. Should I really bring it up? He’s just seen the face of his old girlfriend for the first time in months, would now really be the best time to talk to him about his brother?

But we’ve grown closer in the last month. I’ve told him all about my eccentric mother and my father who’s afraid of bugs, and he’s told me about his invisible friend, Greg and how he wanted to be a trapeze artists when he was younger. He knows I trust him. So…he should know that he can trust me, too.

“James,” I say quietly, and he shakes his head as though breaking himself out of a reverie. “What happened between you and Albus?”

There’s a long pause and for a moment, I’m scared James isn’t going to reply, or is going to tell me to never ask again. Or even worse, start shouting at me for bringing up his brother. He might even go on a murderous rampage…

I’m only seventeen. I’m too young to die!

But then James begins to speak…slowly at first, but then faster, as though he’s been waiting to get out all his feelings.

“What do you know about Tori and my brother?” he asks me.

I look at him nervously. He gets this strong intensity in his dark eyes whenever he isn’t joking around. “Clementine and Lavender, they told me…that Albus has a crush on Tori,” I say hesitantly, and am surprised when James laughs.

“I guess you could say that,” he says bitterly. “Even when we were together, Tori was always flirting with other boys. I didn’t mind at first, because that was just Tori. But then...then I saw her with him. Albus. She was…batting her eyelashes and tossing her hair. To begin with I thought she was just trying to annoy me-we were beginning to grow apart by that stage but then…” James breaks off, taking a large gulp of air.

I stare at him in awe. The twins told me Albus had a crush on Tori, but from what James is saying…it sounds like Tori liked Albus back.

But how can that possibly be right?

Tori Heron was the most popular girl in school. Albus (though he seems perfectly nice) is a shy bookworm who spends a lot of time in the library.

“…then I caught them together,” James says, and I can hear the barely controlled anger in his voice. There’s another emotion there too, though. Something I can’t quite read…is it regret? Sadness? “They were kissing. And I realised they’d been together all along. Tori didn’t give a flying fuck about me…”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” I find myself saying quietly, because there is pain in James’ eyes, though I don’t really know why I’m comforting him about this. I should be irritated at the fact that James is clearly still upset about Tori not really caring about him. But I’m not. “Everyone’s always saying how much Tori was in love with you.”

James snorts loudly. “Don’t you see, Charlie?” he looks at me desperately. “The only reason Tori ever went out with me in the first place was to gain power at Hogwarts. She used me.”

James looks down at his feet, playing absently with a loose thread on the sleeve of his woollen jersey. I have never seen him look so deflated, except maybe when he beat up Albus at that Quidditch game. And now…now I know why he was so angry that day. I almost wish I hadn’t asked what is going on between him and Albus. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to look Albus straight in the face again.  I wonder if Rebecca knows about Tori’s secret…affair. It seems like Tori told her everything.

“What will you do if she comes back?” I ask slowly, voicing the question that’s been on my mind for a long time now. One that I haven’t had the courage to ask until now.

James lets a small smile slide onto his face-the crooked, slightly arrogant one that to me, is his trademark. “I thought about that for ages after she went missing,” he says slowly. “How I’d react. But now I know. I’d just ignore her.”

I stare at him. “What? Why?”

Now he’s definitely grinning. “Because I have you,” he says. Then he places his hand on one side of my face and kisses me gently.

I smile as I kiss him back. Finally. The Tori drama is over. She has not been spotted for months and James…James prefers me over her.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong.




“You really freaked us all out with that Tori boggart,” Aine says casually as we make our way up to the Gryffindor Common Room that night.

I can barely walk, my stomach is so full. There was the most magnificent chocolate tart for dessert and, well, you all know I have a weakness for chocolate. I had to undo the top button of my skirt. Sadly, I’m not joking.

I give Aine a look and she grins sheepishly. “Sorry. You probably don’t want to talk about it.”

I sigh. “When do I ever want to talk about anything, Aine? You know I don’t like socialising.”

She snorts, and links her arm through mine. “Maybe that was true at the start of the year,” she says slyly, giving me a stupid wink. “But you’ve become a lot more open since you started getting it on with James.”

I feel my cheeks tingeing pink. I’m always blushing-I must have bad circulation. Yes, that’s probably it.

“James and I are not getting it on,” I say, making Aine giggle. “We’re just…”

“Friends who like to snog each other an awful lot?” Aine suggests, giving me a nudge. “Oh come on, Charlie. I saw James slobbering all over you out in the dungeon corridor after defence.”

“He was just comforting me,” I protest, and Aine throws her hands up in the air in defeat. “Whatever you say.”

Pfft. It’s not like she can talk. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a couple as revoltingly soppy as she and Mickey. Those two have a serious case of dishwasher syndrome.

Seriously. Whenever they make out in front of me, I can hear saliva churning in their mouths.

Well, I just grossed myself out…

“Jitterbug,” Aine says firmly to the portrait of the fat lady, and we climb into the Common Room, which is covered with a bunch of rowdy little first years who appear to be playing a game of tag.

Aine pushes several of the out of our path and we head up to the girls dormitory where Clementine is curling Lavender’s hair with her wand and Rebecca is sitting on her bed looking grumpy, for a change.

Her presence doesn’t usually bother me anymore, but she gives me a particularly venomous look as I walk in, which probably has something to do with my Tori boggart.

However, I am a mature young women and am able to ignore this, instead going over to my side of the bed and pulling out a quill and pot of ink. Mum wrote to me yesterday all frantic because I hadn’t replied to any of her messages.

She was under the impression I’d been eaten by the giant squid.

Honestly. What a preposterous idea.

I’d never be stupid enough to go near the giant squid.

Tentacles creep me out.

“What are those, Rebecca?” Aine asks suddenly.

You definitely couldn’t call Aine and Rebecca friends, but I often get the impression they used to be. Anyway, Aine is friendly to everyone including Rebecca, even though she hates my guts and spends half her life sulking.

She’s worse than Moaning Myrtle.

“Didn’t you hear?” Rebecca says, and there’s an undercurrent to her voice that I don’t like. I look over at her slowly and immediately realise there is a large pile of parchment sitting on her lap, each with a flashing black and white photo in the middle. The photo is clearly of a person, though I can’t quite see who. And I don’t really fancy asking.

“Hear what?” Clementine asks curiously, looking away from the back of Lavender’s head.

Rebecca smirks. “I just got an owl from Miss Heron. You know,” she says, shooting me a triumphant glare. “Tori’s Aunt. Tori has been spotted in Hogsmeade. McGonagall has given me permission to put up these posters around the school tomorrow.”

The twins both gasp as Rebecca holds up the posters so that I immediately see the photo is of Tori.

My heart sinks. Just when I thought Tori had been forgotten. It has been months since the last time she was spotted. I’d begun to think her sighting was a mistake. But if she’s been spotted in Hogsmeade…

I don’t understand!

How can Tori have been spotted in Hogsmeade? That’s so close to Hogwarts…surely she’d have tried to contact the school? Or Rebecca. And who spotted her anyway?

Aine seems to be thinking the same thing. “Rebecca…” she says quietly. “I’m not sure those posters are a good idea. What if…what if Tori wasn’t really seen in Hogsmeade? What if…she’s not around anymore?”

The triumphant sneer on Rebecca’s face disappears in an instant. “What are you insinuating?” she hisses.

Sympathy is written all over Aine’s face and I know what she’s thinking: she thinks Tori Heron is dead. Is that what I believed as well, until this moment? Is that what I hoped was true?

Even inside my head those words sound horrible. I’m not a bad person, honestly!

“Rebecca, honey…”

“SHE’S BACK!” Rebecca suddenly screams very loudly, and the twins both visibly flinch. “TORI IS BACK! And soon…soon she’ll come back to me! And she’ll…(she points at me with a trembling finger)…she’ll be gone!”

Oh dear god. It’s like the beginning of the school year all over again. Rebecca hasn’t had an outburst in ages. I thought it was all over…

Even Clementine and Lavender look doubtful. “But if Tori was in Hogsmeade…why hasn’t she come to see us?” I hear Lavender whispering to her sister, voicing my very thoughts.

“Don’t you see?” Rebecca spits, glaring straight at me. “You never belonged here, new girl. Not in this dormitory, not in that bed, not in this school. You stole her spot. And before you know it, she’ll be back here. To take her place back.”

“Fine!” I say loudly, throwing my ink pot down onto my bed and standing up. I’ve had enough with dear old Becky. I’ve been here for almost two terms now, I’m not going to get pushed around any longer! “Fine!” I repeat. “But you should know, Becky, that even if Tori comes back, I intend to stay. This is my bed now…” I stand up on to it, and begin ripping the remaining photos of Tori off the wall “…and this is my life. I won’t let you fuck it up any more than you already have!”

“What are you doing?” Rebecca whispers angrily as I rip the last photo off the wall. I now have a large pile of smiling, giggling, perfect Tori’s in my hands.

And all I want to do is get rid of them.

“Here!” I say angrily, thrusting the photos at Rebecca’s face. “You take them if you want them so badly. Hang them on your wall. Tori is a part of your life, not mine.”

Rebecca stares at me for a few long moments, before snatching them out of my hands. “You’re such a bitch,” she hisses, cradling the photos to her chest. I just laugh loudly, storm back to my side of the room and plonk myself down on my bed. Then I pick up my quill and parchment and begin to write my letter, my quill scratching a little harder than it normally would have done.

“Well,” I hear Aine saying as the silence stretches over the room. “On that pleasant note, I think I’ll go and visit Mickey in the Common Room.”

I hear her footsteps as she hurriedly exits the dorm. There’s another short silence, then Lavender’s voice shouting; “Clementine! You’ve burnt my hair, you twit!”

Sigh. I’m starting to think a quiet life at Hogwarts is impossible.




The photos of Tori may finally be off my walls, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stop seeing Tori’s face everywhere I go. Clearly, Aine’s words didn’t sink in to Rebecca’s thick skull, as when I go down to breakfast the next morning, the posters of Tori stare at me wherever I look-they are everywhere: on the bulletin board in the common room, pinned all over the walls of the castle, hanging on every inch of bare wall in the Great Hall.

Each poster reads the same: ‘Tori Heron has been spotted! Contact Rebecca Kale if you see her.’

However, as the next few days turn into weeks, Tori doesn’t show up at Hogwarts, though this doesn’t seem to discourage Rebecca.

“She’s just biding her time, waiting for the right moment to come back,” I hear her telling a group of anxious seventh year Hufflepuffs one lunchtime. “But don’t worry, Tori will come back.”

“When do you think she’ll realise Tori’s not coming back?” Aine murmurs to me.

I give her a startled looked. “You’re not saying that…”

“Tori’s dead?” Aine laughs. “It seems pretty pointless to deny it now, doesn’t it? Why on earth would Tori Heron have done a runner?”

Why indeed? The question continues to bug me. But for some reason, part of me is sure that Tori Heron is not dead, even though Aine seems so certain she is. If she was…I’d feel much different than I do now. I wouldn’t enjoy every single moment I spend with James Potter. I wouldn’t be glad that she’s not around to take him back.

The posters aren’t the only place I see the face of Tori Heron.

Ever since the boggart incident, her face has been appearing more frequently in my dreams.  The dreams involving Tori are always the same-just like the dream I had at the start of the year. She’s always wearing a white dress, standing in the middle of the lake. And she always says the same thing: that I’ll never be her. These dreams continue to frighten me, though I’m not entirely sure why.

However, as the end of term grows nearer, I am prevented from dwelling on these dreams with the unfortunate surge in homework.

The amount of homework we have been set is actually quite unnerving. Even James and Fred have been spotted studying, something that is almost unheard of. Though this vast amount of homework helps me forget about my horrible dreams, it also prevents James and I from spending much time together. If we’re not studying, or in class, James most likely has detention for failing to hand homework in once again.

And honestly, if Smith says the words “Study harder, NEWTS are coming up you lazy buggers!” one more time, I’m going to slap him round that arrogant, stuck up face of his. Bad Charlie. Since when do I criticise teachers?

Often, I study alone in the library, finding the peace and quiet relaxing. However, nearly every time I go to the library I see Albus, tucked away in a corner, a pile of books in front of him. The moment I see him, I turn around and head in the opposite direction, remembering what James told me. I still can’t imagine it-Albus and Tori. And I certainly can’t imagine Albus, who always seemed so nice to me, doing something that would hurt his brother so much. But then again, I guess people can surprise you.

They can turn out to be not at all who you think.




A/N: Hello my gorgeous, amazing readers! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I just finished writing Missing-there are four more chapters to go after this one, and I'll be publishing them as soon as possible.

Please review!

Courtney:)



Chapter 14: Tori
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Image by kjp @TDA

 

 One Year Ago

“Come on Tori, Professor Flitwick missed you in Charms yesterday,” Boring Becky said tentatively, staring down at Tori with eyes filled with concern. Tori had never seen anyone look at her like that before. It was…unnerving.

“No,” Tori said stiffly, closing her eyes and resting her head against the pillow. “Leave me alone, Becky. I’m not coming down with you.”

She fluttered her eyes open slowly to see Boring Becky gnawing on her lip like a timid mouse. She was so pathetic. “Tori, you’ve been lying in bed for two days now,” Rebecca said quietly, and Tori heaved a very loud sigh, turning away from her. “You have to get up at some point.”

“No,” said Tori, very fiercely. “No, I don’t.”

Her Christmas holidays had not been fun.

The Potter’s hadn’t kicked her out of their lavish mansion, sure, but James hadn’t said one word to her after their fight. Tori had spent the time locked up in her room, with the occasional visit from Albus, bringing her toast.

Now she’d been back at Hogwarts for two days…and hadn’t left her dormitory bed except to go to the bathroom. She knew she looked a wreck-her hair was greasy, there were dark shadows under her eyes and she wore no make up to cover all this up. But none of this seemed to matter.

Not when Tori couldn’t ignore the horrible, stabbing feeling inside her head, like someone was piercing her brain with hundreds of needles. Not only did she feel physically sick, but she couldn’t help imagining the rumours that were probably flying about the school as she lay there.

How many people knew James had broken up with her?

How she, Tori Heron, couldn’t hold on to the boy of every girls dreams?

It was embarrassing.

“You wouldn’t believe the gossip I heard in the Great Hall last night,” said Rebecca quietly, sitting down on the end of Tori’s bed, and confirming Tori’s worst fears.

“Never thought you were the gossiping type, Becky,” said Tori bluntly. She wanted to snap at the stupid girl for sitting on her bed, but couldn’t seem to find the energy.

Merlin, it was draining being the girlfriend of James Potter.

She saw Boring Becky’s cheeks go a faint shade of pink. “I only caught snippets from different people,” she said, equally as quietly. “Well-what they’re saying is…you and James had a fight in the holidays. That you’ve…broken up.”

Tori groaned inwardly. Fan-fucking-tastic.

James had told the whole school about their fight, had he?

He was the most arrogant, conceited, stuck-up prat Tori had ever met. She hated that boy with every ounce of her being.

“It’s not true, is it?” Boring Becky continued desperately. “You told us…you told us you and James were going to get married!”

Tori hesitated for a fraction of a second. What harm would it do, to tell her the truth?  That she wasn’t in love with James, and never had been. But then…then she’d have to tell Rebecca about Albus.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Becky!” said Tori, rolling her eyes. “Of course James and I are still together! I don’t know where you’ve heard these rumours from!”

“Oh…” Boring Becky looked down uncertainly, a wisp of her recently cut hair falling into her eyes. Tori really just wished she’d leave her alone. She wasn’t in the mood for talking to anyone.

Not even Albus-not that she’d seen him since term had resumed.

“It’s just…I thought you were in bed because you didn’t want to talk to James,” Rebecca said. “I thought you were avoiding him.”

Tori sat up a little straighter in her bed, glaring at the dark haired girl. She was too nosy for her own good…far too nosy. When would she learn to stay out of other peoples business?

“I’m in bed because I’m sick, Becky,” Tori said irritably, and Rebecca visibly flinched. Tori fought the urge to keep a smirk off her face. God, Rebecca was so pathetic.

“Maybe you should go to the Hospital Wing, then?”

Tori opened her mouth to tell Rebecca that she didn’t need the Hospital Wing and to go down to breakfast and leave her alone. But then she realised going to the Hospital Wing could be the perfect excuse to avoid James and the rest of the school for a longer period of time.

Tori sighed dramatically and nodded. “You’re right, of course,” she said, putting on a very fake ‘sick’ voice. The one she always used when she was younger to manipulate her parents. “But…I’m not sure I can manage going there on my own. Will you help me, Becky?”

Predictably, Boring Becky nodded at once, and hurried to help Tori out of bed. Then together, Tori stumbling and walking very slowly, they made their way down the empty corridors of the castle to the Hospital wing on the first floor. Once they reached the entrance, Rebecca knocked politely on the door and they waited for the elderly matron, Madam Pomfrey to come bustling out, ushering them inside.

“Should have come straight to me!” she declared impatiently, feeling Tori’s forehead with the back of her hand. Tori was beginning to regret this decision.

“I feel fine, really,” she said. “Just a bit…”

“You’re as hot as the evening sun!” Madam Pomfrey cried, ignoring her and hurrying her over to the nearest empty bed and thrusting a pair of white pyjamas at her chest.

Tori stared at them in disgust. “And what the hell are these?” she asked rudely, looking up at the old matron.

Madam Pomfrey tutted impatiently. “Pyjamas. Put them on while I take some tests.”

Tori scrunched up her nose. “No way am I wearing those,” she said firmly, holding them out as far away from her body as possible. “They’d make me look like a mental patient.”

But Madam Pomfrey just ignored her again, and pushed her behind a large white screen. Still grumbling to herself, Tori pulled on the hideous pyjamas, hoping dearly that no-one she knew would come to the Hospital Wing and see her in them. She would probably die of shame.

Once she was in the pyjamas, Madam Pomfrey pushed her into the bed, and handed her a bright purple liquid in a silver goblet.

“What’s this?” she asked sceptically, holding it up to her nose and taking a cautious sniff. A pleasant aroma-like a cross between freshly baked bread and wild strawberries-met her nostrils. Tori felt instantly at ease. All the horrible thoughts that were swirling around her head seemed to evaporate.

Madam Pomfrey smiled approvingly at the expression on Tori’s face. “It is a mixture of a Strengthening Solution and Potion to aid dreamless sleep,” she said. “You look exhausted, my dear, and could clearly use a break.”

Tori completely agreed with her. Though she’d been in bed for the last two days, whenever she tried to sleep, too many horrible questions plagued her mind.

Would James ever talk to her again? What about Albus?

Was the whole school laughing at her? Had James told them how pathetic she was?

Shaking away these thoughts, Tori took a large gulp of the potion. It had a pleasant taste, and she instantly felt her whole body relaxing. Maybe this was a good idea of Boring Becky’s after all. Which was odd…Boring Becky was rather dim, she didn’t usually have any ideas at all…

“When you wake, I should be able to give you the results of your tests,” said Madam Pomfrey calmly, slipping the silver goblet out of Tori’s hand. She felt herself sinking back onto the lumpy white pillow, her eyes sliding closed…

Her bed shook slightly as she felt someone sit down on the end of it. “Are you alright now, Tori?” Rebecca’s quiet voice asked. Tori was surprised to hear it…she’d almost forgotten her roommate was still there.

Tori didn’t often get sick, but the last time she’d been in the hospital was just after the…accident. She’d been immediately admitted to St Mungos, covered in terrible burns. No-one had been there for her then…not like Rebecca was here for her now.

Tori smiled slightly as she realised she’d never had a proper friend until Becky. No-one who had actually felt concern for her, anyway. All the other girls she’d ever known…when they looked at her they only felt fear, or admiration.

And those weren’t proper characteristics for friends to have…




Tori’s eyelids fluttered open, and she looked around, feeling slightly confused.

Then she realised where she was: the Hospital Wing.

It appeared to be early morning-the cool morning sunlight was streaming in through the windows and there was a slight chill in the air that made Tori shiver, and pull the scratchy white blankets up under her chin.

At that moment, Madam Pomfrey hurried out of her office. When she saw that Tori was awake, she smiled cheerfully and came over to sit beside her.

“How long have I been asleep?” Tori asked. Her voice came out thick and groggy. Though her mind was still oddly blank, her throat was burning and her stomach was twisting and churning-it had been days since she’d had a proper meal.

“A day,” Madam Pomfrey smiled kindly. “Today is Wednesday.”

Tori looked down at her bedspread in horror. She’d slept for a whole day!

She wondered if anyone had come up to visit her…or more specifically, Albus. And if he hadn’t…was he worried about her? Had he questioned why she hadn’t come down to breakfast or dinner yet? Had Rebecca told him she was unwell?

“I have your test results here,” said Madam Pomfrey gently, gesturing at the clipboard in her hands. Tori hadn’t noticed it before-she was feeling very weary, even though she’d been asleep for hours.

Tori desperately wanted to tell the old nurse that there was nothing wrong with her-not physically, anyway. All her pain…it was all in her head. But looking up at Madam Pomfrey’s suddenly serious face, the words seemed to evaporate from her lips, which had never happened before.

She always knew the right thing to say. What was happening to her?

She was falling to pieces.

“What is it?” Tori asked hoarsely, because she didn’t feel like waiting in suspense any longer. “What’s wrong with me? Have I turned into a vampire or something?”

Tori had always liked the idea of becoming a vampire. That way she’d be young and beautiful forever.

“Miss Heron, when was the last time you had sexual intercourse?” Madam Pomfrey asked seriously.

Tori stared at her in disbelief, her perfectly shaped eyebrows raised. Seriously? Did the batty old nurse honestly believe Tori was going to discuss sex with her? She was crazy. Crazy.

Tori sniffed. “That’s a bit of a personal question, don’t you think?” she said, trying to look as offended and elegant as possible. It was hard, when she was lying in a hospital bed, wearing a pair of horrible pyjamas.

Madam Pomfrey sighed. “This conversation is entirely confidential, Miss Heron. All I need to know is…”

“YES!” Tori practically screamed, because she did not want to hear the old lady say the words ‘sexual intercourse’ again-the first time had been disturbing enough. “Though it’s really none of your business,” she added rudely. “What I do in my personal time is for me…”

“Miss Heron, you are pregnant,” said Madam Pomfrey shortly, and Tori stopped speaking at once, her heart pounding.

Pregnant?

How was that possible?

No. No…Madam Pomfrey must have made a mistake…

“You’re wrong,” Tori said, and she was horrified when her voice came out as a whisper.

Madam Pomfrey sighed impatiently which, in Tori’s opinion, was totally uncalled for. The woman had just told her she was pregnant, for fucks sake!

“Have you experienced any symptoms of pregnancy?” Madam Pomfrey asked delicately. “For example nausea or fatigue?”

“No!” Tori said defiantly, still glaring at the doddery old bitch. “I haven’t, I…” but then she trailed off uncertainly as she realised that what she was saying wasn’t the truth.

The night she and James had fought…she’d vomited into the toilet afterwards, hadn’t she?

And for the past few days, she’d felt unexplainably weary-she hadn’t even found the energy to get out of bed.

“Oh my god,” Tori whispered, more to herself than anyone else. “I’m pregnant!”

Madam Pomfrey attempted to pat her hand, but Tori swiftly moved it away before she could touch her. “Is there…there someone you’d like me to call?” the nurse asked. “A parent or family member?”

“No!” said Tori quickly, and the nurse looked slightly taken aback. “No, it’s just…I don’t think I’m ready for anyone to know about this. Not yet, anyway.”

Madam Pomfrey nodded. “I quite understand,” she said sympathetically. “And you are welcome to stay in the Hospital Wing until you are ready to leave.”

Tori attempted to smile, but the muscles in her jaw felt oddly slack and useless. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

Well, at least the day had had one merit-she didn’t have to face the world-not yet, anyway.

Pregnant. She was pregnant.




Tori stayed in the Hospital Wing for ten days, during which she had several visitors.

Rebecca visited frequently-each time wearing a motherly look on her face which half annoyed Tori, half satisfied her.

On Saturday afternoon, Clementine and Lavender came by with a large ‘get well’ card they’d made themselves. Tori didn’t think there was any point telling them she wasn’t actually sick-that there was a child growing inside of her.

The biggest surprise was when Aine came by. However, it turned out Professor Flitwick had instructed her to bring Tori her Charms homework. It was a…pleasant surprise, all the same though.

Finally, on the Saturday of the second week back at Hogwarts, Madam Pomfrey told Tori that she’d spent enough time in the Hospital Wing and that she had to stop moping around. After Tori had finally climbed out of the old pyjamas, she ushered her out of the room with a large pink feather duster.

It was the weekend and as there were no classes most students would be in their Common Rooms or studying in the library. As Tori felt no desire to be surrounded by a crowd of other students, asking her where she’d been, she eventually decided to amble up to the owlery, though she had no idea why. She didn’t own an owl and there was nobody she could send letters to.

The air outside was cold and as Tori was only wearing a thin silk blouse, she shivered all the way up the stone steps to the owlery, at the top of which she bumped into a very familiar figure.

“Tori!”

Fred Weasley grinned down at her and then, before Tori could say a word, and swept her into a large bear hug.

“Freddy!” Tori protested into his warm shoulder. “Put me down-you’re squashing me.”

“Sorry,” said Fred, still grinning as he gently lowered Tori to the ground. She brushed off her blouse and combed her fingers through her blonde hair irritably.

“What are you doing up here?” she asked grudgingly, as Fred continued grinning down at her, like an annoyingly cute puppy.

“Sending a letter,” said Fred cheerfully. “What about you? It’s been forever since I’ve seen you! Rebecca said you were in the Hospital Wing! Why…?”

“I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately,” said Tori shortly. She didn’t really feel like discussing her pregnancy with always happy Fred. He was such a bore.

“That sucks,” said Fred, putting his arm around her shoulder as he and Tori began walking back down the stone steps. Tori wondered whether he’d ever heard the expression ‘personal bubble’. All she really wanted was to be alone. And it didn’t help that Fred was James’ cousin and best friend. “You’re been all anyone’s talking about…” His eyes suddenly went wide and he clapped a hand to his mouth. “Shit! I wasn’t supposed to tell you that!”

Tori glared up at him. God, he was annoying. “What weren’t you supposed to tell me?” she asked coldly.

The grin slipped slowly from Fred’s face and he scratched his head awkwardly. “Erm…well it’s all rumours, really. Not many people know what the truth is.”

Tori rolled her eyes. “I know James has told everyone about our fight, Freddy,” she said sourly. “And you are an awful liar.”

Fred grinned apologetically. “He hasn’t told everyone, Tori,” he said earnestly. “Just Mickey and I. The news just somehow…seeped out.”

“Isn’t that always the way, at Hogwarts,” Tori muttered.

“I think he really misses you.”

Tori snorted. There was no way in hell James missed her. They were done for good-that much was obvious. There was no way she was getting back together with a boy who had no respect for her, a boy who’d called her a selfish bitch.

Fred seemed to feel they were heading towards dangerous waters, because he quickly said; “We’re throwing another party tonight. Down by the lake.” He grinned (what a surprise) and nudged Tori in the ribs. “Wanna come?”

“Freddy, it’s the middle of winter. Don’t you think it will be a little cold?”

Fred stared at her, disbelief written all over his face. Finally, he shook his head. “Something’s changed about you, hasn’t it?” he said slowly. “Normally you couldn’t care less about the cold…you’re the least timid person I know!”

Tori looked down. Fred was right. She had changed. She knew it but…there were still two terms left to go at Hpgwarts. She couldn’t let everyone else know she’d changed.

She laughed her completely fake Tori laugh. “I’m just joking Freddy!” she said, whacking him on the arm playfully. Fred grinned and mock winced. “Of course I’ll come to your party! As long as there is plenty of alcohol.”

Fred winked, and tapped his nose secretively. “You’ll be happy to know that, at this very moment, James and Mickey are stealing several bottles of Firewhiskey from our, erm…supplier.”

Tori smiled. Perfect. Alcohol was the one thing that could take her mind off the horrible events of the last few weeks.

When she was plastered, she’d become her self again. The Tori Heron that wasn’t afraid of anything-not the cold, not facing up to James and certainly not the small issue of having a child inside her.




“Hey Mickey!” Tori shouted, over the blast of the music.

The party at the lake had begun. All around her people were laughing, talking and dancing. None of them had a care in the world.

They didn’t realise how lucky they were.

Someone had conjured up a large, magical fire, which Mickey was currently standing next to, pouring himself a glass of Firewhiskey.

Tori, who had already had several drinks herself, stumbled over to them, praying that Mickey wouldn’t realise she was already drunk. “Hit me,” she said, slurring her words slightly as she held out her glass. Mickey hesitated for only a fraction of a section before pouring Firewhiskey into it. Tori, on the other hand, didn’t hesitate at all before pressing her drink to mouth and taking a long sip. A burning sensation instantly filled her mouth and she felt stronger, as she always did when she drank the alcoholic wizarding drink.

“You alright, Tori?” Mickey asked suddenly. “You seem…off.”

Tori put one hand on her hip and pouted at him. “That’s not a very nice thing to say to a girl!” she said. “I hope you’re nicer than that to Aine.” She giggled suddenly, and took another long sip of her drink. It was making her feel better than she had done in weeks. Now all she needed to do was find Albus…

She saw Mickey’s eyes flitting down to the cup in her hand. “I think you’ve had enough to drink, Tori,” he said firmly, and made to grab the cup out of her hand.

But Tori was too fast for him.

She beamed angelically and scampered out of the way-around a group of fit Slytherin boys looking moody and sullen and through a crowd of giggling fifth year girls.

“Love the dress, Tori!” one of them called out, but Tori barely heard them.

She’d spotted Albus, but he wasn’t alone.

He was standing on the very edge of the iced over lake with red-haired Rose Weasley, and another tall girl with dark hair and dark eyes. She was very pretty.

Tori flared up at once. Who was this girl? She’d never seen her before. And what was she doing with Albus?

Throwing her empty Firewhiskey cup carelessly on the ground, Tori stalked over to him, tossing her hair behind her shoulder.

She knew she shouldn’t really be seen talking to Albus in public…not yet, not when everyone knew she’d just broken up with his older brother. But she couldn’t help herself…she had to talk to him. She knew James was at this party somewhere, but she hadn’t seen him-he appeared to be avoiding her, which worked just fine for Tori. She just hoped he didn’t see her talking to Albus…

“I need to talk to you!” she said loudly, pushing in front of Rose and swaying on the spot slightly.

She visibly saw Albus frown. “Tori! I…what…I thought you were still…”

“Aren’t you happy to see me?” Tori simpered, batting her eyelashes and looking up into Albus’ green eyes longingly.

“Who is this again?” Tori heard the dark haired girl whisper in Rose’s ear.

Tori immediately spun around to glare at the unknown girl menacingly. “And who are you?” she asked rudely. How did the stupid girl not know who she was? Everyone at Hogwarts knew her name!

Albus suddenly grabbed her wrist. “Come on,” he muttered, looking faintly embarrassed. Usually this would’ve annoyed Tori, but she was too plastered to care. “Let’s go and talk.”

Tori smirked at the stupid girl who had clearly been flirting with Albus, as the younger Potter brother led her away from the crowd of the party until they reached the Greenhouses where Tori had first snogged James.

As Albus sighed and leaned against the wall of Greenhouse three, Tori beamed up at him. Part of her was aware that she wasn’t acting as she should…that the Firewhiskey was taking over her body. But she felt free at last and that was all that seemed to matter.

“So…” Tori said. “Now you’ve got me here…what’d you want to do with me?”

For some aggravating reason, Albus wasn’t making eye contact with her. He adjusted his glasses nervously and looked around, almost like he was afraid someone was watching.

“What’s wrong?” Tori asked, pouting.

“How much have you had to drink, Tori?” Albus asked finally, and Tori stared at him in disbelief.

“Seriously, Albus?” she said, a slightly angry edge appearing in her voice. “You haven’t seen me in weeks and that’s the first thing you have to say to me?”

“You didn’t need to be rude to my friend back there,” Albus said quietly, looking away.

Tori gave a dismissive snort. “She was flirting with you, Al!” she said, using James’ nickname for his brother. “I don’t want another girl flirting with my boyfriend…”

“She was not flirting with me!” Albus said immediately, looking as though he was having to work very hard to control his temper. “And since when have I been your boyfriend? I thought I was your dirty little secret.”

Tori giggled, and took a step closer to him, running her perfectly manicured nails up his chest. “Haven’t you heard?” she said quietly. “The whole school knows James and I have broken up. And you know what that means? That we can be together at last…”

She looked up at Albus and give him the smile that always made boys melt at her feet. Then she leaned in, and kissed him…

Albus didn’t kiss her back. Instead he stepped back and looked away, like he was deeply interested in the leaves of the venomous tentacula, which were hanging out of a greenhouse window.

“What’s wrong?” Tori whispered again. She couldn’t work out what was going on. Albus had never pulled away from her before.

Albus closed his eyes slightly. He looked like he was battling with two sides of himself. “I don’t like the way you’ve treated my brother,” he said finally and Tori’s heart skipped several beats.

“What?” she whispered.

“You heard. You’ve acted like he’s…he’s some sort of play thing. A plastic toy you can discard when you’re finished with it.”

“I can’t believe you just said that. James and I are over, Albus. I don’t care if people know about us anymore…just…I…I want to be with you! Don’t you want to be with me?”

There was a long silence which Albus didn’t break.

Every part of Tori’s body was tingling. Why didn’t he answer? He had to answer.

But more time passed and he didn’t.

One single, shining tear slid from the corner of Tori’s eye. This was it, then. He didn’t want to be with her anymore. No-one did.

A small sob escaped her mouth as Tori turned and began to run. A fine drizzle had begun, and as she ran out further onto the grounds, she was sharply aware of the pricks of water on her bare skin. All of her emotions were heightened by the fact that she’d just been rejected by the boy she loved. By the boy who she thought loved her back, too.

“Tori, wait!”

Albus put a hand on her shoulder and turned her round so that she couldn’t go any further. “Please stop, Tori. I don’t want to play this game with you.” He paused for only a fraction of a second before saying; “I want to be with you too. I love you, Tori. I don’t know why, but I do. You’re the most unpredictable girl I’ve ever met-and have an attitude the size of Poland. I’ve never fancied a girl like you before, but…”

“Stop,” whispered Tori, putting a finger to his lips. Albus immediately stopped talking and looked down at her, his green eyes shining behind the glasses. Tori went up onto her tiptoes, and kissed him gently on the mouth. His hands wrapped themselves around her back and for a few moments, for a few glorious moments, Tori was back in paradise. But then Albus pulled away. “We can’t!” he said urgently. “Not here. What if…”

“What the fuck?”

They both turned to see James standing not ten paces away from them, a horrible expression on his face. And behind him…peering over his shoulder and looking equally as horrified was Rebecca.

“Tori?” Rebecca whispered. She looked like she was close to tears. Suddenly, all Tori wanted to do was comfort her. To tell her it wasn’t what it looked like. “W-What’s going on?”

“ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!” James said loudly.

Albus was looking very worried. “James,” he said quietly. “James, I can explain…”

But James didn’t want to hear any explanations, clearly. He strode straight up to Tori and shook her shoulders violently. “How long has this been going on for?” he snarled.

“James!” Tori gasped. “James you’re hurting…”

“HOW LONG?”

Tori gulped. “We’re not even together anymore, James!” she said quietly. “You know that as well as I do.”

James let go of her abruptly, staring down at her with a murderous expression on his face. Tori stepped back, frightened. Her mind was beginning to cloud over from all the alcohol she’d consumed.

“James, listen to me,” Albus began. “I…”

But he didn’t get to finish. As he spoke, James ran at his younger brother. He tackled him to the ground and then punched him hard in the face. Albus tried to speak again but James wouldn’t let him. He just cracked him hard again in the jaw. Albus didn’t fight back. He only tried to stand and speak.

Tori screamed at them to stop.

“Shut up!” shouted James furiously. “For once in your life just shut up!”

She nodded wordlessly and tried to keep her mouth shut. Albus was bleeding; she was crying. She was losing her mind. Everything was heavy on her shoulders.

Albus clambered to his feet, wiping at the blood that was running from his nose with the sleeve of his jacket. James gave Tori one last horrible glare before storming away, back to the party down by the lake. To the party where people were still laughing and having a good time. There was suddenly a sob, and Tori turned to see that tears were glistening in Rebecca’s eyes.

Rebecca, who she’d forgotten all about.

“Becky?” Tori whispered, walking towards her and reaching a hand out. “Becky, I’m so, so sorry…”

Don’t touch me!” Rebecca hissed, flinching away from Tori’s touch. “How could you do this to me? To us?”

She was in hysterics. All Tori wanted to do was wrap her arms around the girl, to comfort her…but how could she after what she’d done? And when she needed comforting herself?

“Becky, listen to me!” Tori said desperately, because she realised she didn’t want to lose the only friend she’d ever had.

“NO!” screamed Rebecca. “Stay away from me you bitch! Don’t you ever come near me again!” She turned and ran away, back up to the dark silhouette which was the Hogwarts Castle.

Tori’s heart was thudding in her ears. She looked back at Albus, who was staring at his feet as though he didn’t know what to do with himself. Then she went back to staring at Rebecca’s retreating figure, now a small black shadow underneath the starry sky.

“Why didn’t you fight back?” Tori whispered, not looking at Albus.

Albus let out a harsh laugh, that didn’t sound right, given the current situation. “Fight back? I couldn’t find back, Tori. I’m the one that was having a secret fling with his girlfriend. He has every right to hate me.” Tori snuck a frightened glance at him, and saw that he was shaking his head in despair. “I’ve messed everything up!” he said, wiping blood away from his mouth. “If I’d never met you, none of this would’ve happened! My brother wouldn’t hate me and nothing-nothing would be this fucked up!”

Tori blanched. She didn’t think she’d ever heard Albus speak like that before. “What are you trying to say?” she whispered. God, her mind was so cloudy. All she wanted to do was crawl up into a fetal position, close her eyes and never wake up.

“I just need some time to think,” said Albus quietly. “I’m…I’m not sure I can do this with you anymore.”

But I love you, Tori thought desperately, but for some reason the words wouldn’t come out of her mouth.

Biting her trembling lip to stop herself from bawling, she stared back up at the castle. She could still see Rebecca’s slim figure…there might be time to make sure there was one person in this world who didn’t hate her.

With one last glance back at Albus, who was half in shadow, half in light, Tori began to run up towards the castle, towards the girl she hoped she could still call a friend.

She was going to make everything alright.




A/N: Please review.

The next chapter will be Tori's last POV. After that, there are two Charlie chapters to go. Any predictions on what is going to happen next??

Courtney:) 



Chapter 15: Tori
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A/N: This is Tori's last chapter. Just be warned, it is a lot darker than all previous chapters.






Image by kjp @TDA



A fine rain was still falling as Tori ran, panting, up to the castle after Rebecca.

She shouldn’t have had so much to drink - not because of the baby, as she knew there was no way she could keep it - but because her head was very cloudy, making it hard for her to think straight, and making it even harder for her to process what had just happened.

Until very recently, she hadn’t realised how much Rebecca actually meant to her. She’d just thought of her as the annoying roommate who was always tagging along after her, like a masterless dog. But now she knew that Rebecca had become her friend.

And she didn’t want to lose her first, and probably only, female friend.

Inside the Hogwarts Castle it was dark and silent. Tori felt a strange shiver of foreboding go up her spine as she tiptoed up several staircases, being careful to jump the joke stairs so that she wouldn’t catch the attention of the disgusting old caretaker.

She couldn’t afford to get a detention. Not now. Not when there was so much on the line, so much she could lose.

The portrait of the fat lady swung open when Tori said the password and she climbed into the empty Gryffindor common room, looking around.

It was completely empty as it was well after midnight, and most of the senior students were down at the lake. The fire was still crackling away though and for an instant, all Tori wanted to do was go and kneel beside it - warm her hands near the orange flames and try to clear her foggy head.

But there was a mess to deal with. A mess that desperately needed fixing.

Ignoring the portraits which were staring down at her in disapproval, Tori hurried up the spiral staircase which led to the girls dormitories and swung open the door of her own.

Sure enough, Rebecca was already there, sitting cross legged on her bed and angrily flicking through the pages of a large text book.

She didn’t see Tori come in.

Tori took a deep breath and began to walk forwards slowly. She didn’t know what she was afraid of. It wasn’t like Rebecca was going to attack her. But her brain wasn’t working so well, and her movement was oddly slow.

She was about to say something but at that moment, Rebecca looked up from her book. Her dark eyes were already full of anger, but when she saw Tori standing there…if looks could’ve killed, Tori would be lying dead on the floor.

YOU!” Rebecca hissed, standing up swiftly and dropping the thick book onto her bed. “What are you doing here?”

She was angrier than Tori had ever seen her. To her, Rebecca had always seemed such a peaceful, calm person. She’d never expected her to be the type of girl that got so worked up. “Please listen to me, Becky,” Tori heard herself say, as though from a distance. She unconsciously took several steps towards her friend. “I have to explain to you what’s going on!” Her voice bubbled and cracked in the middle of the sentence. Her head was very heavy now - it almost felt like her neck couldn’t take the weight…all she wanted to do was lie down and never get up.

Nothing had gone right today.

“Get away from me, bitch!” Rebecca shrieked hysterically, backing up against the wall and looking at Tori like she was a fleck of dirt on her shoe.

“Becky, I’m your friend!” said Tori, and she could hear the desperation in her own voice.

Desperate.

Something Tori had never wanted to feel - an emotion she hated. But that was all she was right now. Desperate for some to love her…for someone to care about her. She had truly, honestly thought Albus did. But now…now she wasn’t so sure.

So it all came down to Rebecca.

“I’m not your friend!” Rebecca shouted her eyes flashing wildly about the room. “I’ve never been your friend, don’t even try to deny it!” Tori could tell she was getting upset now. Her cheeks were going red and her eyes were oddly watery. “Ever since the beginning I’ve been nothing to you! Nothing but a…a toy to manipulate! Because that’s what you do, Tori, you manipulate people! I’m nothing to you and you…” Rebecca took a very long gulp of air. “You are nothing to me.”

You are nothing to me.

Tori closed her eyes at the harsh words…words she’d heard before. But Rebecca was right. Everything she was saying was right.

She was a horrible person. She didn’t deserve a friend as good as Rebecca!

“I’m pregnant.”

The words came out of nowhere.

She hadn’t meant to tell anyone, not even Albus. But they’d just slipped of her mouth, without her permission - perhaps out of despair.

And she couldn’t take them back.

There was a long, drawn out silence in which Tori could feel her heart thumping painfully, making it feel like her whole chest was about to explode.

“W-What?” whispered Rebecca, and Tori looked up hopefully at the sound of her voice, hoping to see sympathy in her eyes.

But she saw only anger.

Any resolve she’d had left crumbled at that expression. “I…I had to tell someone,” she said, stumbling over her words as Rebecca said nothing, but continued to stare at her in horror. “I...come on Becky, say something, please!”

Rebecca took a small step forward, her eyes still glowing furiously. “You want me to say something?” she said in a quiet voice, still stepping forward until she was standing close enough to punch Tori in the face. Her face suddenly cracked into an jerky, almost manic smile. “You are the most selfish, bitchy little slut I have ever met. And I hope you go to hell.”

And with that, Rebecca pushed her way past Tori and stormed out of the dormitory slamming the door behind her and leaving Tori all alone.

For a few long moments, Tori simply stood there, staring at the ground.

But then, when she was quite sure Rebecca was out of earshot, she began to scream.

She screamed so loudly she hurt her own ears.

So loudly that her screams could rival the howls of a wolf on the full moon.

So loudly the loudly the small birds perched on the windowsill of the dormitory took off in fright, fluttering away into the night.

And then, when she done screaming, and her throat was hoarse with rage, Tori began to cry.

Tears, warm, hot, sticky tears dribbled down her tears as she paced round and round the room, raking her hands through her damp hair.

Her life had fallen to pieces.

Everyone hated her. Everyone hated her!

Not even bothering to wipe at wet eyes, to clean up her running mascara, Tori swept all the items off her dressing table in one sweep.

She didn’t even care when the picture frame smashed against the cold stone floor, it felt good throwing stuff around, it felt right.

With a dry sob, Tori dug into her suitcase and began ripping, tearing and throwing. Tears were still gushing out of her eyes and her nose had started to run uncontrollably.

Soon the dormitory floor was covered in a mess of ripped parchment and books, torn clothing and smashed ornaments.

She was all out of tears now but the anger, the deep seeded, never-ending anger had not left her body. Trembling slightly, Tori flung herself onto her bed, a torn piece of parchment in her hands. With fumbling fingers, she began to unscrew the lid of an ink bottle, trying not to think.

All of her worst memories were replaying themselves in her mind.

She was a terrible, terrible person…she didn’t deserve to live…

…”I hate you both!” Tori screamed, pushing past her parents, racing up the stairs and throwing herself into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

“Tori!” she heard her mother’s gentle voice calling up the stairs. “Come down, honey! We were just joking!”

Tori ignored her, and glared at herself in the mirror. Died black hair, pale skin and far too many ear piercings. She looked like a ghost of her former self. Which was what her parents had just told her…so why was she so angry with them?

There was suddenly a sharp knocking on her bedroom door, which she’d locked. “Sweetheart,” it was her father now. “Please come out. Your mother and I want to…”

“GO AWAY!” Tori shouted, grabbing her wand from her desk and going back to the mirror. Her parents didn’t like her new style, did they? Well, how would they feel if she chopped all her hair off…

Smirking to herself, she muttered “Diffindo” and pointed the wand at the left side of her head. A huge chunk of died hair fell to the floor. She kept cutting and cutting…until an orange glow at the end of her wand caught her eye.

Her wand was on fire!  Letting out a shriek of horror, Tori threw her wand away onto the bed, and the fire immediately started to grow.

“Tori!” her father shouted frantically. “Tori, what’s going on? Open the door?”

Everything became a blur. Tori hurried into the bathroom to get a bucket of water, when she came back…the room was in flames.

“Dad!” she screamed, cowering in the doorway. “Dad! Fire!”

She could hear her father hammering at the door, trying to get in-shouting at his wife to bring him his wand.

Tori took a lungful of fresh hair, and ran through the flames towards the door. She reached a hand out to touch the handle but it was burning hot and she immediately pulled back.

“Dad!” she screamed again, coughing as the flames burned her lungs. “Dad, I…”

“The window!” he father screamed. “Climb out the window!”

Coughing and spluttering, Tori ran through the hot flames and threw the window open. The flames were so hot…unnaturally hot and spreading faster than any normal flame would.

But magic was unpredictable. You never knew what might happen.

It was a long drop, but Tori closed her eyes and jumped…landing in the rose bush below her window, her ankles burning.

Sweat was dripping down her forehead and her throat was on fire as she stumbled away from the house. There was soot in her eyes and she could barely see. But then, suddenly, there was a loud BOOM from within the house as the flames spread rapidly throughout and the walls began to cave in…these were no ordinary flames.

“MUM!” Tori screamed, trying to run forward, but the pain in her ankles forcing her to collapse. “DAD!”

It was too late. They were gone…

 

…”She’s suffered severe burns,” a gentle voice was saying. “She’ll need a lot of rest and relaxation before she can return to school.”

There was a buzzing noise in Tori’s ears. She couldn’t quite remember where she was.

“And what am I supposed to do with her until then?” a cold voice that Tori vaguely recognised snapped. “Take her home with me?” The cold voice, which belonged to a woman, laughed. “I don’t think so. I don’t owe that brat anything.”

“Please, Miss Heron,” the first voice said. “Your niece has been through a great ordeal. Both her parents are…”

“Dead!” the women who Tori now recognised as the Aunt her parents didn’t like to talk about. “My brother is dead because of that girl! She is no family of mine”…

 

…Tori could feel her whole body trembling as she watched the two black coffins being lowered into the ground. Inside those coffins were her parents. Dead. Because of her. Because she’d had one of her silly little tantrums - a tantrum over nothing. Now the only family member she had left was her Aunt…the Aunt who hated her…

 

…”I’m afraid to tell you that your daughter has been expelled from Beauxbatons, Miss Heron,” the Headmaster said. They were sitting in his office, and Tori was staring stubbornly down at her feet. There was a new, shiny burn on her left arm to rival the ones she had gotten when she’d burnt her house down…and her parents along with it.

“She’s not my daughter,” her Aunt snapped viciously, and Tori felt her cheeks going pink. Why did her horrible Aunt insist on making it common knowledge that she hated her niece with every core of her being?

The Headmaster cleared his throat awkwardly. “Be that as it may, Miss Heron, Victoria has seriously damaged school property, injured several students and endangered the lives of several more. For this reason…”

Her Aunt gave that horrible, cold laugh that Tori hated so much. “This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, Headmaster,” she said glaring at Tori viciously. “This girl destroys everything she touches, my brother included. You are nothing to me, girl.”…

Too many horrible emotions, too many awful memories were pumping in her ears.

Tori couldn’t take it any more, couldn’t handle it. Every inch of her body and mind hurt…

Somehow, she managed to pick up a bent quill between her shaking fingers and write a wobbly note on the torn piece of parchment: I wish I were dead.

Standing up and taking a deep, heaving breath, she threw the note onto her bed and turned on her heel, hurrying out of the room, a very clear idea in her cloudy mind of where she was going next. Where she had to go next.

To end it all.

She turned so quickly that she didn’t see the little note flutter off edge of the bed and tumble underneath, lodging itself in a small crack between the stones where it would be stuck there for another year.




She was standing on the edge of the iced over lake, looking up into the starry sky. There wasn’t a single cloud. It was going to be cold tomorrow morning.

Still staring upwards, she breathed slowly. From this angle all the air above looked like it was coming at her fast.

Nothingness was all she wanted right now.

Taking a slow, deliberate step, Tori began to walk out onto the ice - she could feel it cracking slightly beneath her as she walked. She couldn’t stop clenching and unclenching her fists. Her eyes were foggy and her mouth felt dry. But most of all, she felt hollow.

Everything was dark. Everything was black. Everything was silent. Everything was threatening to engulf her. The rain, which was coming down faster now, impairing her vision, hit her face like tiny wooden bullets.

She continued walking, further and further out onto the lake, until the castle was just a small shadow in the distance. Something was guiding her. Something besides herself. She wasn’t thinking or deciding. It was like she’d made a choice, and now her body was holding her to it.

There was the flash of lightening somewhere in the distance and Tori stumbled on the cold ice slightly. She could hear the water slapping against the ice underneath…how cold must that water be?

And then suddenly…the ice broke.

She didn’t have time to make a sound as she fell into the dark, swirling water beneath the icy surface.

The water was cold…so cold. Her head smacked painfully against the ice, but she was powerless against the strong current that seemed to be pulling her down.

Her lungs were burning with a fire Tori had never known. She opened her mouth to gasp for air, but instead her body began to fill up with the cold, black water.

There was no up, there was no down.

There was a steady, painful life five minutes ago, but nothing five minutes from now.

And then, very suddenly, there was no now.


Chapter 16: Me
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Image by heartfelt. @TDA

 

 I despise mornings.

Seriously, they should be made illegal.

My ideal day would involve me waking up at mid afternoon, leisurely making my way down to breakfast then spending the rest of the afternoon reading. This ideal day would not involve being woken up at the bloody crack of dawn, school work or socialising of any kind.

Although I might make an exception for James. As long as brought me several chocolate éclairs from the school kitchens.

Unfortunately, it is the first day of exam week, which means that none of these things are possible.

I’m still dozing in my nice, soft bed when something very sharp and bony stats prodding me in the back.

“Get off,” I mumble sleepily, trying to bat the infuriating object away with my hand. “I’m sleeping.”

“That’s odd,” says a voice I immediately recognise as Aine’s. “I wasn’t aware that you talk in your sleep, Charlie. Usually you just snore.”

I snap my eyes open immediately so I can glare up at her.

She’s staring down at me, already fully dressed in her crisp uniform.

Urgh. She’s such a morning person.

On the other hand, I need several cups of coffee and a bar of chocolate before I can fully begin the day.

Unfortunately, coffee is one of beverages the house elves do not prepare for us in the mornings.

Ugly little gits.

No! I do not have prejudice against house elves, thank you very much! I even joined this house elf protection society called S.P.E.W when I was nine years old! Admittedly that was only because I wanted to wear the cool, house elf shaped badge, but still…

Anyways…

“I do not snore!” I say grumpily, trying to adjust my eyes to the morning sun that is pouring in through the window near my bed. I can just see the corner of the Black Lake out of it. It is no longer iced over-I can now see its dark waters swirling slightly, and what could possibly be a tentacle of the giant squid.

“Do so,” Aine chuckles, pulling my blankets away from me and dumping them on the ground. “Now get up, lazy bum, today’s our first NEWT.”

I don’t even bother hiding my loud, thoroughly enthusiastic groan.

Look, I may be a little bit of a nerd - okay, a complete nerd, but that does not mean that I enjoy my exams!

I tried to study over the Easter holidays, really I did, but James was very…distracting, to say the least.

And Fred, who has the attention span of a two year old decided it would be a good idea to throw another party down by the lake, right in the middle of the break! I didn’t want to go - I was reading a very interesting book for Herbology, all about exotic plants that could tear people’s arms off, but James threatened to perform a Bat-Bogey Hex on me if I didn’t come.

And James can be very scary when it comes to Defence. He’s the only one that’s mastered non-verbal counter spells. I’m absolutely useless at them. The other day, we were supposed to be wordlessly levitating our partners. Anyway long story short Aine, who was partnering me, ended up hanging upside down from a chandelier and several windows got broken. Oh, and somehow I ended up turning my own hair orange. I’m not precisely sure how I did that, to be honest…

Sorry. I’m crap in the mornings. I always go off on wild tangents.

Aine has disappeared into the bathroom again, so I crawl out of bed (I’m not kidding. I literally crawl. I look like one of the fire crabs we had to observe in Care of Magical Creatures the other day) and unearth my crumpled uniform from underneath a large pile of rubbish. Pulling on my robes, I bitterly wonder how Aine manages to look so…so shiny and new each day, when I look like I’ve climbed out of a rubbish can.

After we’re both dressed and ready to go, we head down (not at a leisurely pace, mind you) to breakfast where I sit down with a ‘humph’ next to James and immediately start loading my plate with the unhealthiest things I can find - blueberry muffins and bacon. Shut up. I know that’s a weird combination. I’m a weird child.

Great. I just called myself weird. I’m sinking to all new kind of lows.

“You really should eat something more healthy for breakfast,” Fred, who is sitting opposite me observes. “It’s a big, big day today Charlie, you need your strength…”

James snorts. “Like you can talk, Fredster. Who is the guy that stayed up past midnight last night trying to finish the human transformation book Smith told us would definitely come up in our exams because he had spent all of that day trying to persuade Isabella Grace to go out on a date with him? Oh, that’s right. You.”

Fred sighs dramatically, spooning porridge into his mouth. “At least I’m having a healthy breakfast that will sustain me throughout the day,” he says, nodding intelligently and spooning more porridge into his mouth. Predictably, it dribbles down his chin.

“You need a bib,” I tell him, and James chuckles beside me.

Meanwhile, Aine is beginning to stress about exams. Usually she’s quite carefree about schoolwork, but I know she really wants to become a Healer, and for that she needs top marks. I honestly don’t understand why she wants to do this profession so much. Moping up moaning children’s runny noses and treating their scabby knees is my idea of a nightmare. But Aine’s mother is a Healer, and she wants to follow in her footsteps. Crazy child. I certainly don’t want to follow in my mother’s footsteps. My crazy mother has been banned from several locations - both Muggle and wizarding - for failing to comply with the proper dress code. You saw her costume - ahem, outfit - at Kings Cross at Christmas, you know what she’s like.

 “I really hope there’s nothing on Memory Charms in our Charms exam,” Aine is saying anxiously to Mickey, not even touching her food as her eyes dance frantically around the hall, as though she’d expected a life-sized piece of homework to appear in front of her and say ‘boo’.

Mind you, if a piece of homework said ‘boo’ to me, I’d be pretty frightened as well.

“I really should have studied them more…I just got so distracted when Fred let off those dungbombs in the corner…”

Fred, hearing Aine’s comment, chuckles to himself. “That was amusing, that was. The looks on those first years faces…gold!”

“I think Filch had a heart attack when he found out,” James grins. “I’m surprised he’s still alive actually…”

“He’s ancient!” agrees Fred eagerly, through a mouthful of porridge. It’s rather disgusting, I can see white mush circling his mouth. “Pretty much a walking corpse. That jacket he always wears is full of mothballs.”

“How’d you know that?” Mickey asks eagerly.

Fred makes a face. “I had to clean out his office during that last detention Smith gave me. There was a whole rack of his coats hanging in his cupboard. And guess what I found?”

“What?” both James and Mickey ask enthusiastically.

“There was this old filing cabinet tucked away in the corner, full of records of the punishments Filch has given up over the years. There was an entire draw devoted to my dad and his brother!”

James laughs. “I’m not surprised. Trouble making clearly runs in the family.”

“Can’t you guys stop talking for just a few minutes?” Aine snaps suddenly. “These are the most important exams of our lives! And you’re acting like we’re about to go to a Weird Sisters concert!”

Mickey pats her gently on the end. “Calm down Aine, you’ll be fine. And there’s no way I’d ever go to a Weird Sisters concert,” he adds, wrinkling up his nose. “They’re old. A pack of has-beens.”

“Besides,” says James cheerfully. “I find it best not to get too nervous before exams. Gives me a clearer head.”

“The only reason you’ve got a clear head is because there’s nothing but fluff in it!” Aine says irritably. I notice she’d pulled several sheets of parchment from her bag and is rifling through them, panicked. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her this anxious before. She’s usually quite laid back.

“Well, that’s a bit rude,” James mutters, but the boys all fall silent and concentrate on their breakfast.

I take a bite of a blueberry muffin. A few moments ago they smelt brilliant, but now they taste like cardboard. A huge mound of nerves have suddenly appeared in my stomach. Without the boys talking, the hall seems unusually quiet, and without anything to distract me, I’ve just remembered how anxious I am.

What will happen if I don’t pass my exams?

I won’t have enough money to move out…I’ll have to live with my parents forever! Even when I’m thirty years old I’ll have to get up to the sound of mum screaming herself hoarse…

The horror.

“Are you alright, Charlie?” James asks me quietly, looping his warm arm around my back. I instantly feel my nervous breathing slowing down a little. “You look like you’ve swallowed something foul-tasting.”

Thanks, James. I really appreciate that.

I nod my head firmly. “I’m fine,” I say, trying to reassure myself more than anyone else.

After breakfast, McGonagall stands up at the staff table to announce that all the other students are to go to their scheduled classes while the first NEWT, Transfiguration, begins in the Great Hall.

There is a great drumming in my ears as everyone around me gets up and starts moving about, most of them talking amongst themselves and laughing. Vaguely, I realise Aine is muttering frantically to herself, Mickey and Fred are laughing loudly and James is talking to me, his arm still wrapped around my nack.

Sigh. What a perfect boyfriend I have.

That’s a lie. James actually has many imperfections. Do you want to hear them? I made a list.

No, Charlie. Now isn’t a good time.

Oh, sod it. Anything to take my mind off the nerves.

Charlie’s List of the imperfections of James Potter:

1.) He can be cocky and arrogant, especially in Defence Against the Dark Arts.

2.) He, Fred and Mickey are always playing pranks on poor, unsuspected first years. Take the other day for example: James offered this blonde little girl what appeared to be a completely normal chocolate chip biscuit. She was so frightened out of her mind that she ate it and suddenly sprouted a beard. James, Fred and Mickey all whooped loudly and James shouted; “Bearding Biscuits everybody, ten sickles a packet! My uncle’s latest invention…”

3.) I swear he gets detention at least three times a week. Usually for not handing homework in on time. That boy never studies and he is still smarter than most people in the class! God it is irritating. I’d be as dumb as a…dumb person if I didn’t read every single book we get assigned.

But, even though James is cocky, immature, lazy, troublemaking, annoyingly smart and in trouble every other day, he is still the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.

Yes, yes, I realise he’s the only boyfriend I’ve ever had! You don’t need to remind me how sad and pathetic my life was before I came to Hogwarts…

“Seventh years!” says McGonagall loudly and slightly irritably, and I realise we have somehow ended up in one of the chambers off the Entrance Hall without me even realising it. It is severely less crowded, as the rest of the school has disappeared off to their classes. “Can you all get into a single file line, please, so we can begin the Transfiguration NEWT?”

There is a great shuffling of feet as everyone silently gets into line. My legs feel like they have turned into lead.

I’m not ready for this! I’m too stupid to take exams! Maybe I should just re-sit seventh year…

“Follow me, please seventh years,” says McGonagall briskly.

“Good luck,” James, who is standing in line behind me, whispers in my ear, and then we all follow McGonagall back into the Great Hall, which as been completely rearranged within about two minutes.

The four house tables are gone. In their place sits about a hundred small desks, all facing a large clock at the front of the hall.

As I take my seat at one of the many desks and pull out my quill and parchment, I glance around surreptitiously. On one side of me, Aine is fiddling anxiously with her quill, on my other, James is lounging casually on his seat, as though he hasn’t a care in the world. Catching my eye, he winks at me and I roll my eyes, looking away.

Behind me, Fred is mouthing words I can’t make out to Mickey. On the other side of the hall, Clementine is braiding her hair and Lavender is staring openly at a dark haired Ravenclaw boy I can’t remember the name of.

I’m not good with names.

When everyone is seated and quiet McGonagall, who is now standing at the front of the hall, behind a table on which there is spare parchment, quills and ink bottles. “You may begin,” McGonagall says loudly. There is the instant fluttering of parchment as everyone turns their test papers over.

I glance quickly to my side and see Aine’s eyes already flickering of the test paper frantically. She looks a bit like an escaped mental patient what with her crazed look and slightly untamed hair.

Pfft. Not like I can talk. My hair is unmanageable.

Merlin, this is not the time to be thinking about hair! I’m in the middle of an exam for heaven’s sake. Heart hammering, I turn my paper over and read the first question: Describe the theory behind cross-species transfiguration:

I try to take a deep, calming breath. I remember learning about this a while ago…I can do this…

I pick up my quill and begin to write.




“You know, I don’t think that went too badly,” says Aine, shovelling a large amount of steak and kidney pie into her mouth. Fred looks on at her in disgust, which I personally think is a bit rich, coming from him - the King of all things Food. Honestly, I swear if that boy didn’t play Quidditch and have an unfairly fast metabolism, he would be roughly the size of a young killer whale. “Especially considering I er…forgot to attend class that day Smith went over cross-species Transfiguration.”

James snorts loudly, accidentally spraying me with pie filling.

Lovely, James. Thanks for that. I’m not going to have enough time for a shower before the practical part of the Transfiguration exam, so I’ll have to walk around for the rest of the day with pie-hair.

I could start a new trend. Post fliers all over the walls advertising ‘Charlie Parkers Fashion Tips: one galleon per tip.’

Ha. Like anyone would pay to get fashion advice from me…

“Something funny, James?” Aine asks, folding her arms stubbornly over her chest.

“You did not forget to go to that class,” James says, sniggering. “We all know you and Mickey were in the Charms corridor, making sweet, sweet…”

“Oh, shut up,” sighs Aine in exasperation, cutting another slice of pie and putting it on her plate.

“What?” James shrugs. “I was going to say sandwiches.”

Overall, I don’t think my Transfiguration exam went too badly. There’s no time to relax however, because we have our practical exam straight after lunch - one on one with some terrifying looking examiners.

Anyway, as most of you probably know by now, I’m not so good around strangers. I mean, I find most of the spells we do in Transfiguration pretty easy - I’m just worried my stomach will all seize up went I’m trying to do a spell and I won’t be able to focus properly-what with a doddery old man breathing down my neck and all.

After lunch, we troop off to a chamber off the Great Hall for our practical exam. McGonagall calls out our names in alphabetical order.

“Good luck!” Mickey whispers, kissing Aine on the cheek as she heads into the examination room with three other students.

As we wait, my palms start to get sweaty and I realise that I’m sweating. I never realised how frightening exams could be! Then again, most other students my age have already done OWLS before. In fifth year, my exam consisted of mum giving me a stupid little pop quiz out of the back of The Standard Book of Spells, Grade Five. I passed with 110% and we went out for ice cream to celebrate.

I got mint flavoured, swirled with chocolate sauce in a honeycomb waffle cone.

Now, is not the time to be thinking about ice cream…

“Parker, Charlie - Patil-McLaggen, Clementine - Patil-McLaggen, Lavender - Potter, James.”

Crap. It’s me…

Fred attempts to give me a high five, but I just give him a death look as I wobble off into the examination room, feeling as though someone has used a well placed jelly-legs curse on me. I wouldn’t put it past Fred, actually…

“Oh come on, Charlie!” I hear Fred bellow. “Don’t leave me hanging!”

“Weasley!” McGonagall barks sharply.

“Sorry Headmistress,” I hear Fred mumble, putting a slight smile on my face. I feel braver.

“Professor Mumble is free, Parker,” snaps Professor Smith, pointing me towards a very short, very old wizard who looks like he’s about to go into cardiac arrest. I’m not sure he’s fit to be out and about, taking examinations, actually.

“Miss Parker? Charlie Parker?” Professor Mumble asks in a hoarse croaky voice, consulting a long roll of parchment. Merlin, he sounds like a frog.

The thought amuses me, for some unknown reason, and I find myself smiling.

“Alright, Miss Parker,” Professor Mumble continues.

His name is quite appropriate actually. It’s really hard to hear what he’s saying.

“Would you kindly turn my hair orange, please.”

I stare at him numbly, before blinking, realising hew just asked me to do something. I look up at his wispy white hair - there’s hardly any of it there! How am I supposed to transfigure something that’s non-existent? I’m about to ask him whether he realises that he doesn’t have much hair left but decide this probably wouldn’t be the wisest idea. I don’t particularly want to offend the wizard who could potentially hold the rest of my life in his hands.

Gulp.




Overall, the rest of my NEWTS go surprisingly smoothly.

On Tuesday we have Charms, and though Fred accidentally sends his examiner flying out of the room and  several fireworks start to go off from within James’ pocket during the theoretical exam the day runs smoothly.

We have our potions exam on Wednesday, which isn’t actually too bad, as all we have to do is finish the final steps of our Armortentia potions, bottle them and hand them into Slughorn for marking. Though my potion doesn’t quite have the mother-of-pearl sheen that the book suggests at least it is transparent, unlike poor Mickey’s whose potion turns a rather violent shade of blue. I suspect he may have added one two many Ashwinder eggs.

My Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures exams are both fine, but my Divination exam the following Wednesday is a complete disaster.

“What do you see in the crystal ball, my dear?” Professor Mumble croaks eagerly as I stare blankly into the large ball sitting on top of the desk.

Is it just me, or is it really creepy when complete strangers call you ‘my dear’? The expression is paedophile-ish. Reminds me of those terrible Muggle horror movies.

“…into the ball,” Professor Mumble is saying, and I blink up at him stupidly.

“Er…?” I say uncertainly.

I blame James for my incompetence. He’s always distracting me in Divination. It’s like having an extremely talkative shadow.

An extremely talkative, very good-looking, very snoggable shadow.

At last, at long last the NEWT’s are over!

I feel like a could do a little dance, climb on top of the Gryffindor table and sing Hallelujah at the top of my lungs.

I don’t of course.

To celebrate, the gang (that’s me, James, Aine, Fred and Mickey for those who don’t remember) go and lounge around outside in our favourite spot near the lake. The weather is quickly warming up again, and I find myself thinking wistfully about the summer holidays.

Of course, the holidays will mean the end of school - forever. The end of Hogwarts. Will I still keep in touch with my friends? With James?

I shake these unsanitary thoughts from my head. I don’t want to think about them. Not now. Not yet.

“You know what this means, right?” sighs Fred happily, leaning back onto the slightly damp grass, smiling up at the sun.

“What?” Aine asks sleepily. She’s lying with her head on Mickey’s lap, who is stroking her back.

I have to admit, even though they are flamboyant and horribly disgusting at times, Mickey and Aine really do make a very cute couple. And they’ve never, not once, had a fight.

“No more work!” Fred sighs. “Not ever. In all the rest of our classes…we can just kick back and do nothing!”

Aine snorts. “Fred, I’m pretty sure that’s what you do all year, anyway.”

Fred grins. “True,” he says, and we all laugh.

James and I are leaning against the thick trunk of the tree we like to sit under. As usual, his arm is around my, drawing small shapes on my back, and giving me the shivers.

We spend the rest of the day, just sitting out there together, talking about things that matter, and things that don’t.

At one point Rose Weasley and a couple of other sixth years come walking past. Albus is with them, but as they pass us, we all instantly begin talking to James so that he doesn’t notice, and Fred starts cartwheeling across the lawn in the other direction, completely diverting James’ attention from his younger brother.

Drama is avoided. Thank god.

I am completely sick of it - drama, that is. I just want this year to end normally. I want to spend the rest of it with my friends, laughing and worrying about nothing more than whether we’ve past our exams.

You’d have thought I’d have learnt by now not to get my hopes up.




After dinner, Aine mutters vaguely about “having somewhere I need to be” which I interpret to mean “I’m going to go and make out with Mickey in a deserted corridor now” so I wander up to our dormitory on my own.

Usually, I’d take the chance to spend more time with James, but as he and Fred are planning to play yet another prank on Scorpius Malfoy, I don’t really fancy getting in their way.

So that’s why, at eight o’clock on a Friday night I find myself alone in the dormitory with none other than…

Can you guess?

Yup, you got it.

Rebecca Kale.

I haven’t seen her around much, actually, but she doesn’t say anything as I walk into the room so I just ignore her, and flop down onto my bed.

This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but I have grown to adore my Hogwarts bed. It is honestly the best place to, well…flop! I’m going to miss it at the end of this year.

“I’m sorry,” says Rebecca suddenly.

Huh?

I look up, glancing around the room. Sure enough, there’s nobody in it but Rebecca and I. Maybe she’s hallucinating…or sleep talking. Or maybe she’s a necromancer, and can see invisible dead people…

That seems quite likely, actually. Could explain why she’s so evil…

But then I look straight and Rebecca and realise she’s staring straight back at me, with an odd expression in her eyes.

Hold up…Was she saying sorry…to me? That can not be right!

“Er…?” I say awkwardly.

Well, what would you do if the girl who apparently hates your guts just apologises out of the blue and then stares at you with her slightly creepy eyes as though waiting for a fully rehearsed response? What is she expecting? That I’ll just suddenly forgive her and we’ll cry and hug each other and eat a lot of ice cream while singing ‘It’s Raining Men’ under the Tuscan sun?

Because sorry, but that is not going to happen.

Rebecca finally has the decency to look away. “I’m really sorry for how I’ve treated you this year, Charlie,” she says quietly. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard her say my name. Usually she just calls me ‘new girl’ or, even better ‘bitch’.

“Er…” I say again. Two gold stars for Charlie!

“I know you probably hate me,” Rebecca continues. I look up again, and am startled to see that her eyes have filled with tears. That girl has serious emotional issues. One moment she’s seemingly normal, the next she’s the psychotic roommate from hell and the next…the next she’s crying and apologetic!

How the heck am I supposed to react to that?

“Why the sudden change in hard, Rebecca?” I hear myself say. My voice sounds cold and harsh - it doesn’t sound like my voice at all.

I’m not a horrible person am I? I mean…I like puppies!

Anyone who likes puppies is a good person…I doubt Voldemort liked puppies, and look how he turned out! Okay, for all I know he could have had a golden Labrador, but the possibility seems unlikely.

“Do you want to know the last thing I said to Tori?” Rebecca says abruptly. “The last thing I said to her before…before she went missing?”

The honest answer is no. I’m sick to death of Tori Heron, to be honest, and I’m not really enjoying this…enthralling conversation with the girl who tried to strangle me on my first day here. However, I don’t say anything. Just continue staring at my scarlet bedspread awkwardly, wondering if its possible to escape out the window.

Of course, if I escaped out the window, I’d probably fall to my very tragic death, as I have the agility of a hippopotamus (remember the falling out of bed incident?)

Unfortunately, Rebecca seems to take my silence as a ‘yes’. I hate it when people do that. My mother does it all the time…

“I was angry with her,” Rebecca says, and her voice is now a whisper. “Beyond angry. I…I ran off and she came after me. I think she might have been crying…I should’ve been more sympathetic. But all I could think about was me. She…she tried to tell me something. Something important, but I didn’t want to listen. Couldn’t listen. I started yelling at her - screaming my head off. I told her that she was a bitchy little slut. That she could go to hell…the next day I woke up in the dormitory and she was gone. Nobody knew where, nobody had seen her go. But…but she didn’t come back. Those words, they just keep replaying in my head. They’re always with me - I can’t ever take them back. And I just keep thinking…what if I never see her again?”

My heart is thudding awfully hard in my chest. I risk a glance at Rebecca. Tears are streaming down her face, and she’s clutching at her blankets as though they’re the only thing keeping her going. And suddenly…out of nowhere…I realise I feel sorry for Rebecca.

“She hasn’t been seen since Hogsmeade,” Rebecca continues speaking. It’s the most I’ve ever heard her speak in one go. “And it got me thinking…about all the horrible things I’ve said to you and I thought…I thought…” she breaks off suddenly, and begins rocking backwards and forwards, tears still pouring silently out of her eyes.

I realise this is probably the time to say something comforting. To tell her I forgive her, that I understand what she has been going through this past year.

I open my mouth but nothing comes out.

I can’t think of a single comforting word for Rebecca Kale. Can’t seem to think of a reason why I should forgive her. She hasn’t said a single nice thing to me this whole year! She’s tried to kill me at least twice for god’s sake!

“I’m…I’m just so sorry,” Rebecca finishes, somewhat lamely. “I don’t blame you if you…if you can’t forgive me. I don’t deserve your forgiveness.”

Something about these words does it for me, makes me realise that I can find it within myself to forgive her - to be the bigger person. After all, I pride myself on being a very kind, respectable young lady.

Don’t say a word.

“I understand,” I say, my voice slightly hoarse from not talking in so long. It’s not quite an apology, but it’s the best I can do for the time being. “You were missing your best friend,” I continue, for some reason feeling the need to explain myself.

Merlin, this is quickly turning into one of those soap operas my mum likes to watch. Trust me, dear old Becky and I aren’t about to start doing the can-can together any time soon.

“You’re not entirely to blame,” I add, though I privately think she completely is. However, this would probably be unwise to say. “I should have been more…sympathetic.” I was perfectly sympathetic! “I should have tried to understand what you were going through.”

God, what a load of word-vomit.

I personally think I sounded rather convincing, though.

GO CHARLIE!

Rebecca gives a watery smile. “You know, you’re almost completely the opposite of Tori,” she says suddenly, and I frown, wondering whether she means this as an insult or a compliment.

Usually I’d go with Option A, but as she seems to be attempting to make amends, I’m going to go with a compliment. Which is weird, coz to me it seems like Rebecca was Tori’s obedient little minion.

I frown suddenly. “That reminds me of something,” I say, climbing off my bed and getting onto my hands and knees.

“What are you doing?”

I retrieve the pile of Tori photos that I shoved under my bed at the start of the year and hand them to Rebecca. “Here,” I say generously. “You should have these.”

Her brow crinkled slightly in confusion, Rebecca takes the pictures. I watch her looking through them, feeling slightly confused with myself.

Why am I trying to be nice to Rebecca Kale? It’s not like I owe her anything.

Looking away from Rebecca, I glance back to my side of the room and realise there is a small scrap of parchment that has come tumbling out from under the bed when I extracted the Tori photos. Wondering what it could be, I wander over and carefully pick it up. Then I sit down on my bed and begin to unfold it - which is actually quite difficult as the parchment is torn and crinkled as though it has been under the bed for quite some time. Rebecca doesn’t seem to notice what I’m doing - she’s too busy pouring through the photos I’ve just given her.

Finally I manage to unfold the note. There are just five words written on it, in very shaky writing. And though the ink is slightly smudged, I can see clearly what all five of those words say: I wish I were dead.

My hands suddenly start to tremble violently, and there is a horrible buzzing sound in my ears.

“R-Rebecca…” I say slowly, hoping she can’t hear the quaver in my voice.

A horrible chill has suddenly come over me and I can’t stop shivering. I have a horrible, horrible feeling about this.

I sense, rather than see her look up. “Yeah?”

“Tori, she…she used to sleep on this bed, right?”

“Yes.” Rebecca’s voice is tense.

I bite my lip, an awful habit I have when I’m nervous. “A-And where were you and Tori when you…when you had your fight? The fight just before Tori went missing?”

I look up and see that Rebecca has pursed her lips. “We were in here,” she says, and her words send another shiver down my spine. “This is the last place I saw Tori before she went missing.”

I take a deep breath, trying to calm myself. “Rebecca,” I say quietly, trying to inject as much sympathy into my voice as possible. “Rebecca…I think you’d better take a look at this.”

My whole body has turned to lead has Rebecca comes over to my bed, takes the piece of parchment from my hand and reads it curiously. Within a second, the curiosity has disappeared from her face to be replaced by…horror.

“Oh my god,” she whispers. “Is this…is this…”

A suicide note.

She stares at me with wide eyes. “It’s in Tori’s handwriting. I’d recognise it anywhere.”

Shit.

Shit.

This can not be happening. But…but I have to keep my head.

For Rebecca’s sake.

“We don’t know for sure, until...” I trail off because Rebecca looks like she’s on the verge of tears again. “McGonagall,” I say quietly, my voice shaking slightly.

“What?”

“We need to take this to McGonagall. As…as proof. We have to figure out what happened to Tori.”




A/N: And we're back to Charlie again! What did you think about this chapter? About Rebecca? Did Charlie act fairly?

There is only one more chapter to go now, so every review that I get means the world to me!

Courtney:)


Chapter 17: Me
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Image by heartfelt. @TDA


Tori Heron’s body was found two days ago, at the bottom of the Black Lake.

It was the mer people who found her.

After Rebecca and I uncovered the scrap of parchment from under my bed, we took it straight to Headmistress McGonagall.

We ran through several corridors towards the stone gargoyles that guard her office. The whole time Rebecca looked like she was about to faint - she was as pale as a ghost but had a determined expression on her face. When we finally got to the bottom of McGonagall’s office, it was only to find that we needed a password to get in. We - or rather I (as Rebecca had collapsed against the wall by this point) tried every password I could think of; Dumbledore, Chocolate Tart, Transfiguration, etc, etc, but to no avail.

Then, just as I was about to give up, McGonagall came hurrying down the corridor wearing a tartan dressing gown and a frazzled expression on her face.

“Now what on earth is all this fuss about?” she had asked irritably, and over in the corner Rebecca gave a horrible shudder.

Wordlessly, I handed McGonagall the note.

For a few moments, she just looked down at it, clearly rereading it several times. Then she looked up at me very seriously, through those square spectacles of hers.

“Where did you find this note, Miss Parker?” she asked, and I was surprised when her voice came out slightly shaky.

“Under my…under Tori’s bed,” I’d answered quietly.

After that, everything happened so fast. McGonagall summoned all the Heads of Houses - Professors Longbottom, Slughorn, Smith and Flitwick and ordered a thorough search of the Hogwarts grounds. Then she insisted that Rebecca and I go up to bed immediately.

That night I lay awake for a long time, staring up at the dark ceiling. I could hear the gentle breathing of Aine and the twins but from across the room, I could hear Rebecca crying quietly.

It was awful.

But nothing was worse than the assembly where we all found out. All the other students knew about this sudden assembly was that it had something to do with Tori’s whereabouts. As we hurried down to the Great Hall early that morning, everyone was chattering excitedly. They thought Tori had been found - alive.

“We should have known she’d wait until the end of the school year! It makes so much sense!” I heard one girl telling her friend as I entered the Great Hall and hurried to sit with the gang.

The noisy laughter and talking ebbed away as Professor McGonagall stood up and stared around at us all very seriously. James, who was sitting next to me, squeezed my hand. He still didn’t know about the suicide note at that stage. I hadn’t had time to tell him.

“Hello everyone,” McGonagall began. “I’m sorry to call you all here when the year is almost done. But…”

McGonagall spoke calmly and gently to us. She told us in the only way she must have known how. She gave us the facts.

An initial din quieted to only a few hushed sobs. Without meaning to, I looked at Rebecca. Tears were pouring silently down her cheeks. Clementine had her arm around her. I was glad. Rebecca needed comfort.

McGonagall explained quickly, without gruesome detail how, after Flitwick had conversed with the mer people, her body had been found in the middle of the Black Lake. It appeared she’d walked out onto the iced over lake and drowned. It wasn’t certain whether this was accidental.

Ignoring the painfully tight grip James had on my hand and Aine, who had her head pressed into Mickey’s chest and was shaking, I thought back to the dream I’d had at the start of the year. The one about Tori.

She’d been in the middle of the lake then, hadn’t she?

Had the universe been trying to send me a sign?

Had I been having a vision, the type Professor Moon talks about, without realising it?

For some reason I found myself searching along the Gryffindor table, looking for a certain green-eyed boy.

I saw him quickly, sitting next to Rose Weasley who was hard to miss, what with her flaming red hair.

Albus looked as though he were etched out of marble he was so still. His eyes were fixed on the top of the table, but I could tell he was not really seeing it at all.

All that happened two days ago.

Hogwarts has been unusually quiet ever since.

I haven’t seem James since the assembly. Fred says he’s barricaded himself in the dormitory and won’t come out. Everyone is on edge, constantly in danger of bursting into tears.

And I…I don’t know where I sit. What should I feel about the girl I never met? Whose body was found two days ago, whose photo’s were on my wall for the majority of the year?

Whose boyfriend I stole.

I feel sick with guilt whenever I think about this.

How could I have been so selfish with James? The world is bigger than just me. Me and my problems. I should have realised that and stayed to myself. I should have stayed the old, bookish Charlie Parker. The one who had no friends and preferred books to people.

Why did I have to meddle in what I didn’t understand?

Today is the last day of term. Tori’s memorial.

I walk down to the Great Hall alone, staring at my feet. I can hear people murmuring at me. The only thought that is going through their minds is that I am the dead girls replacement.

They’re right, of course.

I’ve kept to myself since the assembly. Aine keeps trying to talk to me, but I push her away. I don’t want her sympathy. She knew Tori first.

I’ve been told that the hall is usually decorated with the colours and emblem of the house that won the cup. This year, for the fourth year running, Gryffindor won it. The hall should be hung with red and gold. But instead, as I walk into the hall, I see black drapes hanging from the ceiling. The house tables have been removed, to be replaced by rows and rows of chairs, all facing the front.

At the front row sits a single woman, who I’m guessing is a relative of Tori’s. She is staring straight ahead of her with an unreadable expression. She is not crying but there is a handkerchief clutched in her hand.

I see Aine, Fred and Mickey in the second row. James is with them, staring down at his feet. Aine sees me and waves for me to join them, but I shake my head.

I’m not ready to see James yet. And I don’t want to intrude.

Instead, I go to sit alone at the back of the hall, waiting for the seats to fill up.

Then McGonagall, who is wearing robes of midnight black, steps forward, a sombre expression on her face.

I close my eyes as she begins to speak. Everyone is absolutely wordless and motionless.

I hear McGonagall saying how Tori represented the characteristics of a Gryffindor - how she was brave, determined and loyal. I hear her saying that she will be missed by all. That she will always be remembered.

And then…then the eulogies begin.

Rebecca is first. I watch her stumble up to the platform, and look out at the sea of black. Her eyes are red and her skin is puffy, but she takes a deep breath and begins to speak calmly. “This is my first memorial,” she says uncertainly. “And I don’t really know what to say. I know to be sad and I know to honour Tori. But that’s all I know.” She takes a deep breath. “Up until a few days ago, I believed that Tori was still out there somewhere. I guess I was wrong. I always worried about Tori, even though she always acted like nothing was wrong. She always put on a brave face - she was the most courageous person I know. She never let anything get to her. Though she was only here for a year…I think Tori made a lasting impact. I think people changed because of her. For the better. I know I did. Tori helped me out of my shell, and I want to thank her for that.” Rebecca, who has remained so brave throughout all of this, is finally beginning to crumble. Her eyes and tearing and her lower lip is wobbling. I find myself looking away, because for some reason my own eyes are watering, too. “Remember Tori,” says Rebecca. “Remember Victoria Heron.”

Rebecca lowers her eyes and steps down silently from the stage, taking a seat next to the woman sitting in the front row. Shifting my eyes, I turn to see that James is now standing in front of the hall.

I stare at him in disbelief.

I had no idea he was going to speak today. I’m not sure how it makes me feel, to be honest. Then again, do I have a right to feel anything?

James doesn’t rush into talking. He stands there for a moment, before a line appears between his brow and he looks around at us all.

And then finally, he begins to speak. “This is very difficult for me, of course. Tori was…she was beautiful. And really vibrant.” He shrugs, a small smile playing in his lips. “There was just something about her - she would have loved having you all here. Everyone being here today is the best way to honour her, I think.” He stares into the distance, as though seeing something beyond the stone walls of the Great Hall. “I will never forget Tori, or what she brought to this school. I know that much. I will never, ever forget her.”

I look down at my hands as he steps from the podium and stops in front of the woman who is of some relation to Tori. My heart is pounding painfully inside my chest, so hard that it’s hard to ignore.

Is it true, what James said? That he’ll never forget Tori? Not even when he’s with me?

The woman with the handkerchief is up next. In a cold, emotionless and almost detached voice, she introduces herself as Tori’s aunt. Subconsciously, I wonder why Tori’s parents aren’t here. “I want to thank you all for coming today. It means a great deal,” she says, before going back to her seat.

I stare at her in disbelief. What?

Up the front, I see Aine turn in her seat to give me a puzzled look. I just shake my head, equally as baffled. That was her aunt. Is that all she had to say?

At last, the memorial is over. The Hogwarts Express will arrive at the station in a few hours to take us home.

I’ll never come back to Hogwarts again. The first place I’ve actually had friends.

Everyone seems to be mingling around in the Entrance Hall, talking about Tori. No-one notices me slipping up the grand staircase and into my dormitory.

I want to respect Tori, really I do. But…something about me attending her memorial just felt so wrong. I’ve never met the girl, unless you count the frightening boggart I saw in the dungeons.

There is no-one else in the dormitory, so I take the opportunity to pack up my trunk. I pile my heavy books, spare parchment and quills into my cauldron. I fold all my clothes and robes neatly and tuck them into the trunk. I coax Bernard out from under Aine’s bed with a piece of chocolate and shove him into his carrier.

The bloody menace is about twice as fat as he was at the start of the year. He can’t resist house elf food.

I’ve just finished packing when the door of the dormitory opens and Aine comes in, looking unusually subdued.

“I thought I might find you up here,” she says gently, perching on the end of her bed. “That must have been hard for you.”

I pause. “I…I shouldn’t have come,” I say finally, looking down. “I’m the girl who replaced Tori, I…”

“Tori would’ve been glad that you were there,” Aine says firmly, and I look up at her in surprise. “It’s like James said: she would’ve loved that so many people attended her memorial. She would have loved that people who didn’t even know her were there to say…goodbye.”

“James still misses her, doesn’t he,” I say, looking anywhere but Aine’s eye.

“I think part of him always will. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t moved on,” says Aine wisely. “And right now, he misses being with you Charlie. He loves you.”

I finally look up at her, and see that she’s smiling.

“Promise me we’ll remain friends,” I find myself blurting, out of nowhere. I feel my cheeks going crimson. “I-I mean…I don’t want to lose touch…”

Aine climbs off her bed and pulls me in for a hug. “Of course we won’t lose touch,” she says. “I’d have to be crazy.”

I pat her back awkwardly. Yes, after all this time, I am still not a hugger.

Some things never change.






The train whistle blows and I press my face against the cold windowpane to get my last glimpse of Hogwarts.

I can just make out the castle, high upon the hill, standing as proud and strong as ever. Even though I’ve only been here for one year, there’s a strange ache inside my stomach at the thought of leaving it behind. I realise I’m going to miss all the strange and unusual things I’ve encountered there - the doors that don’t open unless you ask politely; the trick staircases and Peeves the poltergeist, who has made it his mission to annoy the caretaker, Filch, for many a moon now.

The train slowly rolls out of Hogsmeade station, and I force myself to pull my nose away from the glass.

I’m sitting all alone in my compartment. Back to being shy, bookish Charlie Parker from the beginning of the year. The one who’d never had a proper friend in her life. Who blushed whenever someone spoke to her.

The compartment door suddenly slides open, interrupting my thoughts. I look up with raised eyebrows to see James standing there sheepishly, his hands in his pockets.

I look away at once, cheeks burning.

I just can’t get those things James said at the memorial out of my mind. I know it’s selfish but…I don’t like the idea of James never forgetting Tori.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” James says, sitting down opposite me, so that our knees are almost touching.

I play with a curl of my hair so that I’m not forced to look at him.

Yes, I’m a chicken. I know it. But I don’t want to embarrass myself unnecessarily. Which is quite hard for me, you know. I always say the wrong thing.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” I say, maybe a little grumpily.

Merlin, I sound like such a selfish old toad! Maybe I’m not a nice person after all…

James sighs, and I pluck up the courage to look at him. I haven’t actually seen him up close for what feels like weeks. His skin is pale and there are dark shadows under his eyes. I instantly feel bad for acting so childishly. “We’ve both been avoiding each other,” James states and I have to admit, he’s probably right. “And…I miss you Charlie.”

“As much as you miss Tori?”

The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.

Why, oh why do I have such a big, fat mouth? I blame my mother. She has a ginormous mouth, too. That’s probably why she shouts and yells so much…

“Are you really angry about that?” James asks quietly. “About what I said at Tori’s memorial?”

“No…” I say softly, looking up right into James’ eyes. I can’t read his expression at all. “No, I’m not angry. I’m just…confused.”

“Don’t be,” James says and, to my surprise, he leans forwards and takes my hand in his. An instant warmth spreads throughout my body, and I don’t pull away. “I love you Charlie. I know you’re worried about that, and I..”

“James, I…”

“No, just listen,” says James firmly, placing a finger to my mouth. “I have to get this out before I…before I lose courage.” He takes a deep breath and I watch him intently, not sure whether I want to hear what he has to say. “When I found out Tori was dead...it brought back a lot of memories. Most of them bad. Last year, I did a lot of stupid things. And the thing I regret most is that my relationship with Tori meant that me and my brother grew apart. I’m not sure we can ever be the friends we used to be again. I loved Tori - or at least, I thought I did at the time. And even though she could be selfish, rude and downright horrible at times, I still feel like…I’ve got to honour her memory, you know? I owe her that. If it hadn’t been for me, she might not have…” he trails off uncertainly and looks at me with a certain desperation in his eye. And suddenly, I know how he feels.

“It wasn’t your fault, James,” I say firmly, squeezing his hand. “The universe already has our lives set in motion. I believe that. Don’t go blaming yourself.”

James gives a dry chuckle. “I’m forgiven then?” he asks. “You don’t want to throw a bucket of icy water over me for being such a terrible boyfriend?”

I smile, feeling happy for the first time in days. “Trust me,” I say. “If I thought you were a terrible boyfriend, you would have something a lot worse that water thrown over you.”

I hear the compartment door sliding open again, and look up to see the rest of the gang standing there. Fred is beaming (as usual) and Mickey is also smiling but Aine looks thoroughly fed up.

I frown slightly. “Were you guys listening to us?” I ask slowly.

Aine rolls her eyes and gives Mickey a playful shove. “I am so sorry about that,” she says, glaring at her hunky boyfriend. “I tried to stop them but these boys insisted on coming to eavesdrop.”

Fred flops down onto the seat next to me. “We had no choice,” he says seriously, though his lips is twitching. “We had to make sure Jamesy wouldn’t mess up his chances with Charlie. We need the fifth member of the gang.”

I look down at my feet as I feel my face flush. Fred’s words have reminded me of what good friends I’ve made this year. I have friends who actually like me. Friends who don’t want to lose me.

“What do you mean, mess up my chances?” James cries, with a look of mock outrage on his face. “I have a way with words, Fredster. I’m a smooth talking guy.”

Aine snorts, sitting down next to James. Mickey squeezes in beside her. “Have you ever heard of the word modesty James? Because you have none.”

“Ouch!” winces James. “That stings a little!”

Fred suddenly laughs. “Did I tell you about that time last holidays I got stung by those angry honeybees?”

James grins at me. “Here we go,” he mutters, at Fred launches into a long story complete with many flamboyant gestures.

As the train rolls past a field in which several chestnut horses graze, I look around at my friends happily.

Though this year has been tough, though there have been some dark moments and though it ended on a very sad note, I would not change a single part of it. Because then I would not have met these guys. The people who I’ll hopefully know for the rest of my life.

As the conversation moves on to Mickey’s trial for the Puddlemere United Reserve Team, James sits next to me and wraps his arm around my waist. “Mickey’s bound to get in,” he murmurs in my ear. “His dad is the best Keeper Puddlemere United has ever had.”

“What are you going to do?” I ask, voicing a question that’s been on my mind for a long time. “Now that we’ve left school, I mean.”

James hesitates. “I’ve always wanted to be an Auror,” he says slowly. “But my Potions exam was abysmal, I’m not sure I’ll get the required NEWT.”

“Your dad’s got a lot of influence on the Auror Office though, doesn’t he?”

James smiles slightly. “Yeah, he does. But I don’t want my dad’s help with this. I want to get there on my own this time.”

“Well,” says Aine loudly, and we all turn to stare at her. “Even if James is too stupid to become an Auror, there’s something we all have to do first.”

“What’s that?” Mickey asks, looking sceptical. I don’t blame him. Some of Aine’s ideas are…interesting, to say the least.

Aine sighs impatiently. “We’re taking the Grand Tour together, of course!” she says. “I want to go everywhere: Egypt, Greece, Australia…”

“I’ve heard there are giant scorpions in Australia that can kill you with one bite,” says Fred, shuddering. “Not that I’m a wimp or anything…” he quickly adds.

“I’ll come,” says James immediately, squeezing my arm “But only if Charlie does, of course.”

“Only if you want me to.”

“Of course we want you to!” says Aine loudly. “A Grand Tour wouldn’t be Grand without every single person sitting in this compartment.”

I beam at her. “Then of course I’ll come.”

“Promise we’ll all stay in touch,” Aine continues, as James kisses me on the cheek. “Promise you’ll all write to me…”

“Sorry babe, but I am not writing any letters,” says Mickey. “But it doesn’t matter, coz we’ll be seeing each other every day.”

“And me!” adds Fred. “Don’t forget me!”

James chuckles. “No-ones going to forget you, Fredster, it’s impossible while you’re wearing that big dopey grin of yours. And don’t stress Aine, we’ll have parties everyday.”

“With firewhiskey!” Mickey says. “And a lot of it.”

I smile to myself. “This is going to be a great summer, isn’t it?”

James kisses me on the cheek, and I feel my heart flutter like a little girl. “Bestest,” he agrees. “Because I’m going to be spending it with you.”

Right now, I couldn’t be happier.

Alright, I could be a little happier, if I had a nice big chocolate bar in my hand.

“ANYTHING FROM THE TROLLEY!” the lunch lady calls from down the corridor.

Fred springs up from his seat immediately, and I hand him enough money to buy a large box of chocolate frogs.

There. Now I couldn’t be any happier.

THE END




A/N: And there we have it - the very last chapter of Missing. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it answered some of your questions.

I can't believe I've finished writing this story! It seems like a long time ago I posted the first chapter, even though it was just last year. Please let me know what you thought of this chapter, what you thought of the story as a whole. And if you want to read some more of my writing, please feel free to check out my author's page - hopefully you'll find something to your taste there.

Oh, and if you'd like to ask me any questions, my Meet the Author page is waiting for you...

Thank you so much for sticking around this long, and sorry for this awfully rambly author's note!

Courtney:)


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