The Hogwarts Express was buzzing with life and laughter; the sound of excited voices and gleeful shouts filled the corridors and compartments. People hung out of the windows waving to their families as the train left the station, and then they returned to their compartments happily, ready to jump into detailed stories of eventful summers. They fought jokingly, hugged and high-fifed each other, talked loudly and laughed constantly. General excitement was bubbling everywhere, everyone obviously enjoying being with their friends again.
Only in one compartment, at the end of the train, someone sat alone. It was a girl, about fifteen, with straight brown hair and freckles. She was small and a little frail. Her hands were holding a book which she was reading eagerly, although her strikingly blue eyes would look up nervously every other second, as if expecting intrusion upon her loneliness constantly, and dreading it.
Although she seemed so tense, she was caught of guard as the door to her compartment was thrown open with a bang. She dropped her book, scrambled to retrieve it, and raised her head quickly. Her entire face blushed scarlet as she saw who had entered.
A hazel pair of eyes scanned the compartment quickly, and as always, somehow slid past her, as if not truly realizing she was even there. Her breath seemed caught in the girl’s throat as she stared at the messy-haired teen standing in the doorway, but he didn’t take any notice of her. Shrugging resignedly, he left, closing the door to the compartment behind him, not once having really looked at her.
She stood rooted in the same spot for several seconds, staring at the closed door, her face still a furious red. Finally she stumbled back to her seat and sank down on it, burying her head in her hands.
What must he be thinking of her now? Rather, what wasn’t he thinking of her now? Because he didn’t really seem to have registered she was there; she had gone unnoticed, as she always did.
Ava Christensen was the kind of girl that no one ever saw. She was smart and actually quite witty, but her absolute terror of being noticed and laughed at kept her from showing this in class or anywhere else. She could have been pretty if she’d had more confidence, but nothing was as lacking in Ava’s personality. She kept to herself always, was quiet, shy, and reserved, and she wasn’t at all certain if anyone of her dorm mates even knew her name. She managed to stay unseen und go unnoticed with astounding efficiency.
Had she been the centre of attention, she would have hated it. Often, she enjoyed knowing that no one saw her, no one judged her. But she would have been inhuman had she not found herself wishing for some sort of assurance from other people, some sort of acknowledgement of her presence. No one knowing her led to being friendless, and she would have liked a friend very much. She would have liked to have people greet her in the hallways like other students did. But most of all, she wished for one thing, one person’s attention she really, really wanted, one person’s opinion she really cared about and the person whose obvious disinterest and ignorance of her presence hurt her more than that of all the other students put together.
James Potter was confident and easy-going, handsome and the best Quidditch player Hogwarts had ever known. These qualities were bound to make him popular and well-liked, and he and his arrogant friend Sirius Black were the trouble-makers of the school, ensuring that everyone loved and admired them. Most of the girls at Hogwarts were madly in love with tall, dark, haughty-looking Sirius Black, but for more than a year Ava’s entire being had been focused on James, and James only.
But she had always known and would always know that there were worlds between them, and that since he didn’t even seem to be aware of her existence even though they’d been in the same classes for four years now, made the odds of her dreams ever coming true appear minuscule. And as she leaned back in her seat now, her heart still beating rapidly, her wide, innocent-looking eyes continually fixed on the spot where James had stood, this painful truth stabbed at her.
No one entered her compartment again for the rest of the train ride, and Ava was left to dream about the few seconds that he’d been in the same room as her, scanning the compartment, obviously searching for one of his friends, and she tortured herself by reliving the way his eyes had slid past her without taking notice again and again. She would never be able to only gather the courage to talk to him, and she knew that she was too tiny, too insignificant to even have the right to be dreaming about him the way she always did, but she couldn’t help herself. Her obsession with James Potter had started way back in her fourth year, and now, entering her fifth, was stronger than ever.
The first day of classes started off like any other. Ava was actually glad when she was able to get up from breakfast table and walk towards her first class – Potions – because it gave her something to do and made the fact that she was by herself less noticeable. Breaks are torture when you’re always alone.
Entering the fifth-year classroom down in the dungeons, Ava found that Slughorn had redecorated. Instead of the usual seating order that saw every students working at a single desk by themselves, the desks were now arranged to have two people sit beside each other. Ava immediately felt worried – this could only mean they were going to have to work in pairs, and that inevitably would lead to her being the only person left without a partner.
Once the dungeon was full, Slughorn arrived, his face red with sunburn from summer, and wearing his usual beam. “Morning class!” he greeted them in his booming voice, as if no one could imagine something more pleasurable than to sit in the dungeons during the last warm days of the year. “Welcome, welcome to another year of Potions! As you might have noticed, the seating order changes as you enter fifth year! Due to the more advanced ways of your potion-making as we start on O.W.L.-Level potions, it’ll be required for you to work in pairs, and partners should be about equally skilled. I will assign your Potions partner, and you will stay with that person for the rest of the year. Yes -” he raised his voice even more as protesting and annoyed murmurs rose from the class, “your partner will be assigned to you, and you have no say in the matter. Find your partner on the list on the board -” he waved his wand, and names appeared, “and proceed to sit at one of the tables.”
Ava, relieved when she heard that they were going to be assigned their partner, which ruled out the possibility of her being embarrassingly left to herself, turned her head towards the black board and searched for her name.
She did a double take, narrowed her eyes, closed and opened them again, and stared at the black board. Her heart raced.
No way … this had to be too good to be true, or maybe too horrifying to be.
She turned her head to stare at James, who was standing a few feet away from her with his friends. His eyes were scanning the classroom, and a confused frown was on his face.
She turned her head back to the blackboard to assure herself that she had indeed not dreamed. She hadn’t. James Potter was her Potions partner for the rest of the year.
And he had no idea who she was. She stood rigid, watching as the students surrounding her found their partners and sat down at the tables, wishing she could just summon the courage to go up to him and tell him that she was Ava Christensen, the name he was unable to put a face to, and that she would be his partner – but of course, she couldn’t. She just stood there with widened eyes and a shocked expression, until everybody else had sat down with their partners, and she and James were the only ones to remain standing by themselves.
And then he finally noticed her, and for the first time ever, his warm hazel eyes actually saw her. She felt her face burn as he scrutinized her, and she remained frozen while he walked over to her, an indifferent smile on his handsome face.
“Hello,” he said when he reached her. “I’m guessing that since you’re the only one left, your name is Ava Christensen?”
James Potter was talking to her. Actually talking to her. Her throat was suddenly dry and her knowledge of the English language abruptly vanished from her mind.
He stood there, patiently waiting for a response, unwaveringly scrutinizing her. His steady gaze did nothing to ease her nervousness.
When she still didn’t respond, he stretched out a hand and said briskly, “James Potter.”
She opened and closed her mouth, and finally managed to stutter, “h-hi. I’m Ava.” She took his hand, her heart racing.
He smiled at her and walked over to the last free table in the back of the room. She followed, trembling ever so slightly.
They sat down at their table, and Ava still couldn’t believe she was sitting beside James Potter, James Potter, the singularly most wonderful guy ever. Of course, they had been assigned to sit by each other, so it hadn’t been his choice, but still … she didn’t know whether to be terrified or overjoyed, frightened or excited, nervous or embarrassed – she probably felt a mixture of everything, and she didn’t hear a word Slughorn said the entire lesson, concentrating only on the fact that James’ elbow was no more than a few inches away from hers.
When the lesson ended, she was shocked to realize she hadn’t taken a single note, something that had never happened to her before. James raised, stuffed his books into his bag, and took the time to smile at her before he left to catch up with his friends. Ava sat dumbfounded in her chair, feeling like she was about to fly with happiness.
“Well, Miss Daniels, I do believe you have to get to your next class,” Slughorn said amusedly, and she was pulled out of her trance and realized she was the only one left in the classroom. She nodded slowly, a dreamy smile on her face, didn’t bother to correct him about her name, and floated out of the classroom.
A/N: My next story's up, yay, I'm so excited!!! I like quite like this story ... I'm so anxious to see what everyone will think! Please review, and (even though it's a little late): Merry Christmas!