Chapter 1 : The Light That Blinds
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When you are invisible, people fail to realize that you really are a person with perfectly good hearing - in most cases, that is - and have a fully functioning mind. Therefore, you can hear everything they are saying and commit it to memory.
Though I may not be one for gossip, I have become incredibly gifted in the art of dropping eaves, seeing as how they never seemed to notice that I’m just a few feet away from them with perfectly functioning ears and a sharp mind to boot. Whether I’m walking behind people in the corridors or I’m studying all by myself in the library or doing something that won’t draw unnecessary attention to myself, I’ve always heard things that I knew I wasn’t supposed to her. Over the past six years, I’ve heard things that little gossip-oholics like Rita Skeeter and Bertha Jorkins would simply die to hear.
But since I’m invisible - in the figurative sense, of course, not literally; a potion wasn’t spilled all over my infant body and my father wasn’t an Invisibility Cloak -, no one has ever approached me, asking if I had heard the latest rumor about so-and-so’s relationship going down the tubes for some unknown reason. It’s not because I don’t have any friends, I have a few, but they’re just not…well, close, I guess. They’re more of friendly acquaintances and most of them are just as quiet, if not more, than me. They are the sort of people who don’t want to draw attention to themselves, much like myself. In short, they’re the kind of people I associate with from time to time.
Anyway, getting back to the point. I never participated in those sort of conversations and I never had the desire to. Though I might not know all the dish on some person or another, I did pick up on some things that would answer everyone’s burning questions as to why Benjy Fenwick broke his girlfriend of two years, Addison McDonald’s, heart on the Sunday before last. Of course, I didn’t intentionally listen in to the conversation, but they had quite the row by the lake, where I was sitting underneath one of the great beech trees, reading a book by one of my favorite Muggle authors, William Faulkner. I’m sure if I was anyone else, they would’ve realized that I was present right away, but since I’m something of a nobody, they ripped each others heads off right in front of me. And I’ll be the first to tell you that she is vicious.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that people fail to acknowledge the fact that I’m an actual human being and, even though I might not invisible in the literal sense, I sure as hell feel like I am. It’s almost as though I’ve walked through life with an Invisibility Cloak thrown over my head and a Silencing Charm cast on me to make sure that, even when I did take the rare opportunity and spoke, no one would hear my voice.
Being invisible didn’t bother me - in fact, it was rather nice. I never got pulled into any unnecessary drama and, since I really didn’t have any best or close friends, aside from my twenty year old half brother, Kevin, I was never ‘known by association’. Instead, I was just an unknown and perfectly happy with it…for a while, anyway. Until I realized that maybe it wasn’t so bad having friends. Maybe it wasn’t so bad sticking out a little bit. And maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t kill me if I actually spoke up every once in a while during my classes. This sort of thinking started toward the end of my sixth year, when my half brother got married to his long-time girlfriend, Gwen. It was then, as I watched him plant a big one on her lips as they were pronounced man and wife, I suddenly wanted someone else other than my family members to give a shit about me, to actually notice me and know me for, well, me.
Surprisingly, I actually got my wish - my desire to finally be noticed. I only wish that it could’ve been a more positive situation instead of the one I was unceremoniously thrust into on the afternoon of October the second.
It was a rainy afternoon. The sky outside was a dark, foreboding gray and every so often, a flicker of lightening would flash across the sky and the window panes would shake as an almighty rumble of thunder followed. As the rain beat loudly against the foggy windowpanes, I sat at my customary table in the dusty, dank library, leaning over a book with a roll of parchment smoothed out in front of me and eagle feather quill at the ready: History of Magic was a dreadful subject.
I had been minding my own business, my eyes squinted as I adjusted the reading glasses perched on the bridge of my nose to see the faded, miniscule text on the yellowing page when a particularly loud clap of thunder cracked through the sky and scared the wits out of me. In my fright, I had knocked over my ink well and it splattered all over my nearly finished essay. I cursed under my breath as I hastily grabbed my wand out of my robe pocket and cleaned up the mess as best as I could.
Once I had finished cleaning up the mess with a simple charm, I reached for my quill, only to realize that it wasn’t on the table top where I thought I had left it. I searched the table to make sure it hadn’t rolled underneath any of my papers and, eventually, got down on my hands and knees in order to find it. It wasn’t under the table I was currently occupying, so I crawled across the floor, hoping to Merlin that no one would trip over me and, after a few seconds of searching, I saw the tip of my quill sticking out from underneath the lip of one of the bookcases.
With a heavy sigh, I crawled over to where my quill was to retrieved it. I would’ve gone back to my desk almost immediately, but I heard low and hushed voices and couldn’t resist the temptation. Really, after several years of picking up on things I wasn’t supposed to hear, it became a habit to stop whatever I was doing and eavesdrop. So, still supported on all fours, I listened to the conversation on the other side of the bookshelf.
“We can’t keep this up,” the first voice - female - said.
“Why not?” the second voice asked. This voice belonged to a male.
“Because, we just can’t, all right?” The female replied, her voice burning with desperation. The girl sighed heavily. “It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s just that…well, he’s becoming suspicious. Incredibly suspicious, actually. Always giving me weird looks when I come traipsing through the portrait hole with my hair askew.”
“Who’s suspicious? Sir-?”
“Shhhh!” The female hissed through clenched teeth. “D’you want the whole world to hear you? Merlin, learn to shut your trap for once in your life.”
“Sorry,” the male muttered.
There was a moment of tense silence before the girl spoke again. “Of course I’m talking about him. He’s not as daft as people make him out to be, Amos.”
“So…what are we going to do?” The boy, Amos, asked.
“We’re not going to do anything,” the girl responded in a defiant tone. “If anyone is going to do something, it’s me. I refuse to drag you into this mess.”
“Can’t you just break up with him, Lucy?” Amos inquired.
“No, I can’t,” the girl, Lucy, snapped angrily. “Not now, anyway. Then he’ll know for sure and tell everyone what a horrible girlfriend I am; I’d be ruined!”
“So that’s it then? We’re just going to continue sneaking around all because you are scared that if something like this got out, it would taint your reputation?”
“Yes! That’s precisely why we have to wait until he slips up, Amos," she growled fiercely. “That way, I’ll have an excuse to break up with him, but we have to wait until that happens. It almost sounds like you don’t think the risk is worth it.”
“It’s not that, Lucy," Amos whispered. “I just don’t want to hide the fact that I love you.”
There was a shuffling sound and the girl, Lucy, sighed softly. If I wasn’t mistaken, it sounded as though he had pulled her into a tight embrace.
“I love you, too, Amos, but it’s too risky for me to break up with him now,” Lucy said. “He already doesn’t like you as it is, I don’t want to make things worse for you. And, if he finds out that we’ve been sneaking around for months now, he’ll have both of our heads on a silver platter. Especially if he alerts Potter of the matter and I need Potter on my side as well.”
“D’you really think he’d do something like that?” Amos asked.
“I don’t know, Amos, but I’d rather play it safe.” Lucy heaved a heavy sigh again. “You don’t mind this…do you?”
“’Course not. As long as I get to have you in the end.”
I resisted the urge to gag as I heard Lucy’s lips pull back into a smile. “You will.” She kissed him soundly on the cheek. “I promise.”
Seeing as how that appeared to be the end their conversation, I quickly scrambled to my feet, all but flying back to my table. In my haste, however, I tripped over my own feet and fell flat on my face. My chin hit the cobblestone and my jaw rattled, nearly knocking out several of my teeth. Groaning as white hot pains shot up my jaw, I moved to push myself off the floor when the pair of them came round the bookcase to see what had caused such a loud ruckus.
Both of them gasped as I hurriedly pushed myself to my feet, one of my trainers getting caught in the hem of my robe. I could feel my cheeks glowing red as I attempted to ignore the pain surging through my jaw and kept my eyes focused on the ground.
Caught. I had been bloody caught in the act of eavesdropping.
“How much of that did you hear?” Lucy questioned, her golden eyes blazing with a mixture of fury and fright.
I licked my lips and glanced at Amos, who had taken his spot next to Lucy. Wringing my hands nervously, I chewed the inside of my cheek before answering quietly, wincing as I spoke. “All of it?”
“All of it?” squeaked Amos as Lucy let out a menacing growl, “Did he send you to spy on me?!”
“I didn’t mean anything by it!” I said quickly, shooting a glance at the librarian’s desk. She didn’t seem to have notice. Hm, not entirely shocking. I opened my mouth to say something else when Lucy’s words hit me like a load of bricks. “Wait…what?”
“Did. He. Send. You. To. Spy. On. Me?” Lucy asked through clenched teeth.
“N-no.” I replied, swallowing and fidgeting worse than ever. She stared at me down her long, aristocratic nose as I shook my head frantically. “Honestly! I was just finishing up my Potions essay and the thunder scared me. I knocked over my ink well and lost my quill, which you’re standing on, by the way.” Both Amos and Lucy glanced down at their feet and, underneath Amos’s black shoes was my brand new eagle quill, crushed and rendered useless; damn, that had cost 16 Sickles and 7 Knuts. He quickly picked up his foot and handed the quill back to me, shrugging his broad shoulders in apology; he really was a handsome boy.
“So he didn’t send you?” Lucy asked again.
“I don’t even know who you’re talking about,” I said truthfully.
“As in Sirius Black?” I questioned dubiously - I had forgotten that she was dating Black.
“Yes! Who else would I be talking about?” She ground out angrily, looking murderous. “Did he send you?” she added shortly.
Again, I shook my head vigorously. “N-no. He didn’t. I don’t even talk to him; in fact, I’ve never talked to him before. I didn’t even know you two were an…had a thing…well, you know.” My shoulders sagged in defeat.
Lucy raked her eyes over me, as though my appearance would let her know if I was lying or not. Unless she was a skilled Legimens, which was highly unlikely, then she wouldn’t know by simply staring at me. I would’ve pointed this out, but I doubted that she would appreciate it.
I shifted uncomfortably under her intense scrutiny as the storm outside raged, the windows rattling into their panes as rain drops splattered loudly against the foggy panes. The silence between the three of us only intensified as Lucy continued to look me over.
“Who are you?” she asked after a few more minutes of incredibly thick silence.
“Who the hell are you?” Lucy questioned irritably. “I’ve been trying to figure out what your name is, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.”
Ouch, that one hurt. I had only been attending this school for the past six years. But I guess it was my own fault that she couldn’t pin point exactly who I was after a few minutes of concentrated staring.
“Eleanor Briggs.” I answered, shaking my brown hair out of my eyes.
Her eyes flashed down to the breast pocket of my robes, where the crest of my house was located. “Of Gryffindor?”
“The very same.”
“Hmm, never heard of you before.” She shrugged her perfectly round shoulders.
“Well, I’m sure you already know who I am.”
I did, in fact, know who she was. She was Lucinda Matthews, only the most beautiful and popular thing to waltz through the doors of Hogwarts and be sorted into Ravenclaw since…well, ever, I suppose. She was known for being undeniably charming, her family was filthy rich, and it was rumored that she was part veela, seeing as how she was incredibly gorgeous, what with her silky mane of silver- hair, piercing, but glacial blue eyes, and meter-long legs. And there was the small factor that everywhere she went, males seemed to fall head over heels in love with her as she walked by them, her head held high and aristocratic nose in the air. Of course, she knew that she was beautiful beyond all words and, because of that, it made her extremely arrogant and proud - but personally, I think her French heritage might’ve contributed to her haughtiness. She wasn’t exactly the friendliest person to ever walk the planet either.
However, unlike little Miss Matthews, Amos didn’t introduce himself, even though he was known for his manners and politeness. In fact, he hadn’t spoken since he asked me how much of the conversation I had heard. But I already knew who he was, so it didn’t seem all too important from him to make himself known, although it would’ve been polite.
“And,” Lucinda said, her sharp voice catching my attention. “I’m sure you know how much I hate snitches, too. That being said, if I ever find out that you breathed a word of this to-.”
“Don’t worry,” I interjected. She shut her mouth tightly, pursing her full lips and stared at me, her eyes blazing. “I won’t tell Sirius. Or anyone, for that matter.” I tacked on, hoping that would make her happy and she’d let me go.
“You swear it?” Lucinda said.
I nodded. “I promise.”
“You really mean it? We don’t have to do anything for you?” Amos questioned, almost as though he didn’t believe what he was hearing. Lucinda elbowed him in the ribs.
“Not a single thing.”
He seemed to mull this over for a few moments. “If you’re sure…”
Lucinda scoffed and folded her arms over her busty chest, apparently not willing to believe me so easily. I had never lied in my life - well, except for when my aunt caught me with my hand in the cookie jar before dinner and I told her our house elf, Gingy, put me under the Imperius Curse and made me get it for her and on other occasions when I tried to get myself out of particularly sticky situations. I had gotten in quite the load of trouble for that little lie, but honestly, I was nine!
“Don’t think I won’t be keeping an eye on you, Bronze.”
“It’s Briggs. Eleanor Briggs.”
“What makes you think I care?” she snapped impatiently, “If I so much as see you talking to Sirius, or any of his other friends for that matter, you’re going to have me to answer to, you got that?”
“Yes,” I muttered.
Lucy flung her platinum locks over her shoulder. “Remember, Brockner-.”
“I don’t care!” she exclaimed, expelling a breath of annoyance. “Just remember that I’m practically royalty in this school and if you so much as think about going against your word, I’ll make you wish that you were never born.”
With that, she turned on her heel and marched out of the library, her long hair billowing behind her gracefully, slamming the door as she exited. I glanced at Amos and he smiled back at me awkwardly. He was a nice guy, Amos Diggory, so how he had managed to get himself involved with someone like Lucinda Matthews was beyond me. I almost felt sorry for him as he gave a small wave and fled the library.
A flash of lightening dashed across the sky, momentarily illuminating the grounds before a deafening clash of thunder followed. I jumped again and quickly returned to my table, gathering up all my belongings. As I rolled up my nearly complete essay and stuffed it into my bag, I marveled at my own intelligence - or lack thereof. Slinging my bag over my shoulders, I made for the exit, sincerely hoping that the old proverb wasn’t true and my curiosity wouldn’t be the end of me, unlike that unfortunate little cat.