“Rory!” Aurora looked up from her trunk to see Dean Thomas hurtling toward her. She smiled and waved, but didn't have much time to get her bearings. He was grinning as he picked her up by the waist and swung her around. Her face turned slightly pink, but she didn't say anything. When he finally set her on her feet, she was laughing. She'd gotten taller over the summer, but then again, so had he.
“It's good to see you, too!” She stood on her toes and searched the crowd on Platform 9 ¾ for other familiar faces. As always, the gaggle of people saying goodbye was loud and full of life, a daguerreotype panorama of sorts where the people blurred from the volume and motion. Dozens of tiny eleven-year-olds boarded happily, their parents afraid the train would leave without them. Rora could remember being in the same position herself, four years ago. She was smarter now.
“Ron!” Smiling, she pushed through the gaggles of witches and wizards, stopping at a crowd of red-haired people. She hugged her friend tightly and kissed him on the cheek while Ginny waved evilly. “Seen Hermione or Harry yet?” Rora asked him.
“You have to let me come today—” Ginny whispered quickly in Rora's ear. “Luna wants to come, too?”
“You told her?” Rora yelped suddenly as she was tapped on the shoulder, ushering the other girl away.
“I'm here.” Aurora turned around, seeing her dark-haired friend.
“Hey,” she said awkwardly. Harry was suddenly very interested in a candy wrapper lying on the cement, which wasn't all that odd, seeing as the last time she'd seen him, Harry had been snogging Cho Chang goodbye. Rora stuck out her hand; he shook it.
Harry cleared his throat. “So . . . Rora, how was your summer?” She looked at him quizzically. He seemed rather more awkward then she had ever seen him while he'd been with Cho, and that was saying something. She was constantly hanging off his arm, or another part of his body, for example his mouth.
“I've had worse,” she told him, examining his face. “Where's . . .”
She was about to ask after Cho, but the question had become virtually pointless. Because Cho Chang had placed her hands over her boyfriend's eyes and was squealing happily, her dark hair swaying in a high bun on the top of her head. Her face was powdered, and Rora imagined tiny flecks of dust falling into Harry's hair. She sniggered.
Cho was eighteen now, but had decided to work in Hogsmeade for a year, of course to gain future job experience. Yeah, right.
“Whoa, whoa,” Rora said softly, holding up her hands. “Wait till I'm gone, why don't ya?” She watched a browning leaf totter by on the concrete, dancing like a lady performer and twisting like a misshapen doodle on the corner of a notebook.
Harry pushed Cho's hands away. “Don't, Rora.”
But she was already shaking her head. “I have to go. It's fine.” She started to turn away. Why did he want her to stay? He'd better be careful not to upset that rag-doll glue-stick girlfriend of his. She was like a window pane. Throw something at it, and it cracks.
Rora shrugged, wrinkling her nose and imagining Cho Chang the Window Pane shattering. It had happened before. A sigh. A Do-You-Love-Me-I-Once-Did sigh; she didn't know what to think anymore, but she didn't want to keep waiting for a boy who might never come around after all. Maybe Harry liked girls better that way. After all, Rora was the exact opposite, and he'd chosen Cho over her. Nowadays, if you threw something at her all you were likely to get back was a punch in the face.
She'd come a long way since her third year, and even though she was still just as emotional, she had gotten into the habit of yelling or stomping instead of sobbing when she was upset. She'd gone through some though times back there, but she'd rebuilt herself.
Sometimes she wondered whether there hadn't been a brick out of place when she'd done so.
“Aurora! How are you!” Hermione was making her way through the crowd, looking hilariously like a swimmer fighting the river current. Rora turned away from Harry and Cho, smiling instead at her bushy-haired friend.
“Hello dahling,” she said with a laugh. She leaned forward and pulled Hermione out of the way of a large family with trunks, fresh out of the barrier. All of them looked out of breath and stressed, and very much in the mood to bowl someone else over. Rora laughed, then she squeezed Hermione tightly in a hug and whispered over the other girl's shoulder. “We still on for tonight?” She paused. “Ginny wants to come. Luna too,” she added.
“Rora! You didn't say yes?” Hermione pulled back, her forehead wrinkling. “We're probably all going to be suspended as it is, and those two are only—”
“Sixteen. Mione, dearest, let's stop fretting, shall we?” She rolled her eyes and tugged on her friend's arm. Together they walked over to the nearest wall, Hermione still glancing over her shoulder every other second as if she expected a group of Aurors to burst forth from the train and arrest them both. She adjusted her trunk in her hands and checked her watch feverishly, altogether forgetting that it wouldn't work on the platform whether she liked it or not.
“I'm back!” Dean had joined them on the wall, looking rather excited and holding a large tote bag. He was chewing on a toothpick and looking around the slowly emptying platform for the others.
Rora grinned at him and pointed down. “What's in there?” She asked curiously.
“Beer.” Dean shook it around suggestively, raising his eyebrows while Rora laughed.
“You dork.” Parvati had joined them, looking altogether annoyed about something. She crossed her arms and looked around the platform, which was almost empty except for them and a few lingering families of the first years. The train's whistle blew once and it began to move, while Hermione sighed in relief.
“Hey, love. Don't insult the alcohol.” Dean said jokingly.
Parvati wrinkled her nose and shook back her long, dark hair. “Harry and Ron not coming?”
“Girlfriends,” the single Dean said, more put-out. He stopped shaking his bag and stuck his chin out, looking rather like a young child who had been scolded by their mother.
“Don't-Leave-Yet!” Ginny and Luna were sprinting around the corner, and Hermione's face fell.
“You can't come,” She protested, glaring at the retreating train as if it had done her a personal injury. “If you two get caught we'll all be in for it! You can't even apparate yet!”
“You have to take us,” Ginny said somewhat apologetically, jabbing her finger over her shoulder as the Hogwarts Express turned a corner and disappeared from view. Parvati sighed again, Dean smiled at Ginny and shook his bag, and Luna blinked.
“Where are we going?”
Everyone laughed and Rora patted the sixth year on her shoulder. “You'll see.” The four seventh years had been conjuring the plan ever since last year, when they'd had their apparation tests along with superior enlightenment. They were much too old for the shiny red toy train, anyways, and now they had a method of getting around on their own.
Originally Ron and Harry were coming, but that plan been stomped on in the mud, rolled over, and torn to shreds by Lavender and Cho, who had been looking forward to empty-alone-compartment quality time with their guys.
“We going or what?” Dean raised his eyebrows, and Rora glanced around the station, now totally empty. She nodded, watching a candy wrapper doing cartwheels across the cement, dancing in the wind. A few leaves followed it, flying onto the tracks in front of them.
Dean picked up his bag, a and without further ado, spun on the ball of his foot, merrily waving to them. Before he left he had gallantly taken the girl's trunks from their hands, the gentleman that he was. Parvati rolled her eyes at Hermione and Rora before following.
“Ginny?” Rora grinned at Hermione before grabbing Ginny's arm. She'd practiced her side-along apparation a few times before, and was happy to declare her record splinch-free. She closed her eyes and saw the school gate in front of her, already losing feeling in her feet. She could see Dean and Parvati, like a window hole getting bigger, moving towards her. She spun, and everything went fuzzy.
Apparating was like being shoved brutally through a drinking straw; tight and unbearably uncomfortable. Sometimes Rora wondered whether there was enough space in that in-between area, just after you left the ground and seconds before you landed. She couldn't help wondering if, if only a few wizards or witches at a time apparated, there would be more room in there.
When they had both landed, Rora leaned against the wall to wait for Hermione and Luna. The stones beneath her back were damp, and as she glanced up at the cloudy blue-gray sky, she rather hoped it wouldn't rain. A cool breeze blew through the trees over the wall in the Forbidden Forest, making Rora shiver under her gray sweater. She'd always wanted to see the grounds before students poured in, and here they were. Empty and peaceful, with birds twittering and sky darkening, and wind blowing. Birds flying like nothing else mattered, but chased away by the sky's darkening.
When the other two girls finally arrived, bickering about something to do with garden gnomes, Dean pulled out a single bottle of beer.
“All I could nick,” he said sadly, watching as it was passed around.
Parvati stared at him dully. “You're seventeen,” she said, pausing to take a sip. “Aren't you a bit too old to be nicking from your parent's cupboards?” She sat down gingerly on the damp ground, Hermione, Luna, and Dean following.
Rora, however, stared into the distance. A long summer, indeed. So many things changed with the course of time, Rora had gotten used to going along with it. You couldn't predict where the heart would go, just as you couldn't predict the way the wind would blow or whether the sun would decide to shine.
Luna was handing the bottle to her, and Rora looked up from the moss on the wall. “Hate Cho,” Rora muttered mutinously after she'd taken a drink.
“Hate Cho,” Ginny agreed.
“Hate Lavender!” Hermione squeaked despairingly, her head falling forward onto the rim of the bottle Rora had handed her. The blue-and-pink label was peeling, the underside of the glass sticky in Hermione's palm.
“Haters,” Parvati made a face.
“You three must have been bitten by a Boddytwiss,” Luna said, her eyes wide over her reading glasses, which none of them had figured out why she was wearing. “They make people jealous.”
“No such thing,” Rora said grumpily. “I'm not jealous of precious Cho. I just dislike her. Deeply.” She pushed back against the wall and slid to the ground. The grass was cold against her jeans, and Rora turned her attention back to a worm slithering up from the soil. She shredded a few bits of grass murderously before looking up.
Dean laughed loudly while Luna tilted her head. The six friends looked up at the swirling clouds, the pumpkin patch, and a cawing black crow before turning and running for cover in the trees from the sudden rain. It was only a small trees in front of the wall, and they must have looked comical clustered there. The sky had opened and the rain fell like bullets toward the earth and the already damp grass. The amber bottle Dean had dropped so suddenly had now fallen, smashed on the pebbles and it's contents mutated by the falling rain.
The same grass Rora had been attacking moments before now bore the brunt of every landing drop and crystal bullet, grass turning greener and coming alive by the sky's light. Every little leave jumped when hit, every dirt patch sprayed slightly. In a cycle of life, an everyday occurrence, even the tiniest twig is affected by what is so random to humans. You can't tell when it will rain or it will shine, but it will change you more than you may ever know.
A/N: I deleted this story a while back, for personal reasons. But here, it's up again! I had some time today, and I'm in the process of retrieving my old chapters, as well as writing some new ones. I apologize for its suddendisappearance, and I hope you all will be able to forgive me, and possibly re-review?
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