Chapter 4 : Facetia
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I’m not the most sociable person you’ll ever meet. I’ve only ever made one friend, initially. The few others that I stayed close to while I knew them were introduced to me by said friend. Her favorite word to describe me was ‘introverted.’ She was that kind of person; why say ‘shy’ when you could say ‘introverted?’
Her name is – was – Facetia White. I first met her when I couldn’t have been more than four. I was at a party. I’m sure you know the kind; the kind that your parents force you to attend, so they could visit their old friends and not have to leave you home by yourself; the kind where you were made to wear disgusting, pink, frilly dresses with skirts that were wider than you were tall. Oh, and have I mentioned the bow?
Anyway, I was at one of those parties. My dress was, of course, frilly, pink, and disgusting, tailored specifically for me and all, but somehow it still managed to pull and itch in all the wrong places. I’m not exactly sure Mom wanted to be there, either. She certainly didn’t look happy as she smiled at the other guests. Probably because only a few returned the grin. Halfway through the gathering she slumped down in a chair and kicked off her heels, cracking her toes loudly and impressively, muttering, “…Should be working on my lesson plan…” or something of that nature. She stayed in that chair for the remainder of the night. I think she fell asleep.
Dad seemed to be the only one enjoying himself. He had been the one invited, after all; his mixed blood wife and daughter weren’t exactly looked upon with hospitality by the pureblood elect of the area. Nevertheless, we were dragged along, however grudgingly, and so it happened that I was underneath the buffet table, watching feet clip by, pause, tap, and do all sorts of other foot-like things as I attempted to wrest the ridiculous bow from the grasp of my hair.
Thus far I was losing the battle.
“Need help with that?”
I turned toward the source of the noise, and saw, ducking under the cloth at the far end of the table, another girl, about my age, I guessed, that wasn’t wearing a bow. She did have a dress, though, much like mine, but hers was this aquamarine sort of color. Far better than pink.
I nodded, and she stood up, walking the length of the space to where I sat with her head never even brushing the bottom of the table. She was rather short, even for her age.
She knelt behind me and removed the offensive bow before I could even begin to say some word of gratitude.
“Thanks,” I said, rubbing the back of my head where I’d been trying to pull it out, “How’d you do that?”
“There’s a clip thing,” she replied, holding up the bow and demonstrating, “It only opens if you squeeze it the right way.”
I logged that away for further reference. I really didn’t like bows. I looked at the girl properly for the first time. She had a pleasant, heart-shaped face that was slightly tanned, but not a genetic kind of tan, more like the tan you get when you play outside often. Her hair was blonde. I’ve seen plenty of cheesy, supermodel kind of blondes that people dye their hair to get, and you can always tell when they do, but this was a very natural, light blonde. Then there were her eyes; deep, beautiful green, like wet moss on a rock that has the sea embrace it whenever the tide is high. I felt a brief envy – I found my eyes exceptionally boring.
The best part about her, though, was her smile. It wasn’t that it was particularly wide, it wasn’t, but even so it seemed to give her face this wonderful, effulgent glow that spoke of nothing but warm and tender kindness.
I saw that smile many times afterward, and it was always a source of comfort, something that would hold me and rock me and assure me that everything would be okay.
I suppose the smile lied in that regard.
But I won’t go into that yet.
“What’s your name?” she asked suddenly, “My name is Facetia.”
“I’m Arachnae,” I replied, a bit more softly than she. She had a very animated way of talking, like she did it all the time or something.
She wrinkled her nose, “That’s too stuffy. Don’t you have a nickname?”
I shook my head. I might have taken offense to that ‘stuffy’ comment; I liked my name.
“I’m devastated,” she said firmly, crossing her arms.
There was a pause. I scratched the back of my head awkwardly.
A smile made her face blossom again, “I know! How about Rachie?”
I didn’t like it, really, not at first. But how could I disagree? She was just trying to be nice, after all.
“And you can call me Tia, if you want.”
I nodded again. Talking really wasn’t my strong point.
It turned out to be rather convenient that Tia was so eager to be friends. Her father was an old school friend of Dad’s, so it gave them an excuse to visit each other. We had a lot of fun, I guess, as little girls. I didn’t think I’d be friends with her forever, just until school started. But it didn’t even last that long, at first. About a year later she stopped coming over, and vice-versa.
Dad was finding it difficult to answer, “She doesn’t live where she used to.”
“Did she move?”
Another pause as he struggled with how to respond. “Grown-up things,” he finally said, resignedly.
I didn’t find out until later that her parents had gotten a divorce. But being only five at the time, all I could do was speculate as to the manner of the ‘grown-up things’ that had inexplicably snatched my friend away. I seem to recall a theory about a colony of dragons, a few vampires, and a handsome prince that had rescued her from an impossibly tall tower, but I also remember quashing that one with the explanation that it didn’t sound very ‘grown-up.’
And so, for the next few years, Facetia drifted out of my life, and into seeming nonexistence.
Then I started school.
If a wizarding family had decided to send their son to St. Hedwig’s Academy, they would have been laughed at, mocked, and looked down upon by the general populace. This is due largely to the fact that St. Hedwig’s Academy is a school for girls, and it states this in its brochure, so any family attempting to send a boy there wouldn’t exactly be considered the brightest bulb in the box. Also on the brochure is an impressive little box of text that flashes colors as you read it, calling the school the “best magical institute for witches in America.” What the box neglected to inform you of was that St. Hedwig’s was the only magical institute for witches in America. The popular belief among students is that there were no boys around simply so the founder of the school could claim such an impressive title.
So for my first five years of education, I attended the best magical institute for witches in America.
It was Orientation Day, the supposed ‘first’ day of school where no-one actually does anything but get lectured to about the classes they’ll be taking throughout their time there. All the first years were gathered in the Auditorium, which, I learned over the years, was never really used for anything else other than today. Because of that, the entire structure seemed extremely superfluous, seeing as it was built to accommodate the entire school – around 200 or so students – when it only ever seated the first year class, which was closer to 25 girls.
A tall, clean-shaven man, who was obviously trying to hide the fact that he was balding with a stiff, pointed blue hat, moved into view from behind the curtains that hung at either end of the stage, and made his way to a podium that was set in the center, smiling jovially. He didn’t look like the kind of man who normally smiled in any manner, much less a jovial one; he seemed more the type to slap your wrist with a ruler, and do so with an impressive scowl. He introduced himself as Headmaster Bracken. He said a lot of stuff about how we were going to have a great time, how we were like one big family, how the current students and staff members would welcome us with open arms, and that we were always welcome to talk to him if we had any problems.
I learned quickly that anyone complaining to Bracken was anything but welcome. Hell, anyone who even had the nerve to attend his school wasn’t all that welcome. I’m sure he gave the same spiel to every first year class, but he hated everyone. It wasn’t that hard to see, even if he did try to cover it up with his jovial grin and pointy hat.
Anyway, he finished, eventually, to much clapping and cheering and whatnot, and we were dismissed to find our first class. Perhaps it was because I was taller than most of the girls around me, or maybe some mystical force simply drew her to me, but whatever the reason, I found myself being attacked.
A blonde blur had appeared out of nowhere, and with a squeal like that of a mad hyena, it threw its arms around me. After a brief, very fierce hug, the blonde thing pulled away, and I could see her. Not that I needed to look to know who she was; Facetia was the only one who’d ever called me ‘Rachie.’
She didn’t look too different from how I remembered her. She was still shorter than me, she still had the same beautiful eyes, and her hair was the exact pale yellow I recalled. She hadn’t changed in the slightest, and I took comfort in that, much like I took comfort in her reassuring grin.
I smiled, then. I don’t think I could help it.
So I had a friend. A best friend, the most wonderful kind of best friend. The kind of friend who’d embrace you – all of you – as you were, and love you for that, who would follow you to Hell and back, and trust you with her very life. Facetia never made me earn her trust. She always had this unfailing confidence in me, this suspended belief that I could do nothing wrong, that I was, childish as it may seem, perfect. In a way, I suppose I thought the same of her. I’d like to say that I’ve lived up to her expectations, but I couldn’t even live up to my own. I know that wherever she is, if there’s a Heaven or an afterlife or something like that, that she isn’t mad at me, and she wouldn’t want me to stay angry with myself. It’s the way she is, and always has been. But I have to be angry, because some things that she could just forgive and forget, in all her goodness, can’t lie down and die in my overworked conscience.
It’s my fault she’s dead, and I won’t condone that.
A/N: Well, I hope you liked this one. Facetia's finally showed up, so here's where everything connects, I suppose. All reviews will be loved beyond any logical reason, particularly those offering constructive criticism. =)
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