Chapter 7 : Summer Break
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I was sitting in my Common Room, excited for the next day. The train home for summer break was tomorrow, and I had never looked forward to it more. The train ride meant an entire day with only my two best friends, and no classes to distract us from ourselves.
I had packed my trunk three times already because I had nothing else to do after curfew, and even though I tried to get some sleep so I'd be able to stay awake during the train ride, I couldn't. So I read a book Professor Binns suggested on the suits of armor in Hogwarts instead. I suppose I could have stayed in bed to read, but if one of my dorm mates woke up from the light, I would have spent the rest of the night facing their harassment; something I had been doing a lot of recently.
Ever since the majority of the school found out that a Slytherin and two Gryffindors were good friends, my house became even more unbearable. I had ended up in the hospital wing once, and it wasn't an experience I was keen on repeating. Nothing happened to those responsible, because I had refused to name them, claiming it was a trick stair instead. That had never happened before, though; usually, fear of my sister kept most of those who wished to do me harm (for whatever reason relating to how I don't belong in Slytherin) at bay, even though I never went to her with any of my problems. Of course, there were downsides to having Bellatrix Black for a sister (besides the obvious, which was the fact that Bellatrix Black is my sister); some people, like Greenth, knew I wouldn't go to Bella, and took out their anger at her on me because I was her closest relative they could get ahold of.
However, although I was grateful, I hadn't been confronted by Bella about my best friends being Gryffindors, and that shocked me. Of course though, that thought would jinx me, for the next moment my sister was sitting beside me. I tried to ignore her; I didn't want to face her. Ted and Shrouder were inferior and not good enough to deserve the friendship of a Black, according to Bellatrix. But in all truth, I felt it was I who was unworthy of their friendship.
"Andromeda," she said, and - this not being the first time she called my name that night - her voice demanded I answer.
So finally, I did. Without looking up from my book, I timidly asked, "What?"
"What, dear sister, are you doing with two Gryffindors, one of which is a filthy Mudblood?"
I kept my emotions in line. A part of me wanted to hex Bella into oblivion for that statement, but another part wanted to break down under her disapproval. "They're my friends," I answered quietly.
Bella voiced her resentment of my answer. " 'Friends'? How can you call those unworthy half-humans friends?!"
I jumped up, my book falling to the floor with a dull thud, but I didn't care. Everything that I was feeling at that moment. . . it was too much to control. "They're better people than you'll ever be! Just shut UP!" I screamed at her, tears building in my eyes.
My sister look impressed. She got up and stood behind me. I didn't move. She put her hands on my shoulders. "Make sure they don't rise any higher in your eyes."
Bella went back to her room before I could ask her what she meant by that, but I didn't care. Although, it took me a while to realize this, that had been the first time I could remember where I actually stood up to her in any way. Maybe that had had something to do with her response. But it didn't matter; for the moment, she was gone, and that in itself made the day a little brighter. Well, night.
"Have trouble sleeping last night, Anda dearest?" Shrouder asked jokingly as I yawned miserably.
I heaved my truck on the rack next to his. "You could say that."
Ted turned from his own trunk and gave me a look of concern. "Why? No one--"
"No, nothing happened." At least nothing like what he was talking about. I don't think anyone believed my story about a trick stair. But those I was with believed me now; of course, now I was telling the truth.
Shrouder spread out on the floor of our compartment, and Ted and I sat across from each other. We were lucky to get on early enough to be able to claim a compartment for ourselves. I kicked off my shoes and placed my feet on top of Shrouder's chest like he was a footrest. I was amazed at how loose and open I had become around the two of them in such a short amount of time, and I think they were too.
Once we decided we'd better get changed soon, I offered to go to the bathroom again, but Ted and Shrouder shared a look and said they'd wait outside the compartment while I changed if I'd reciprocate for them. I think they were still more concerned about the hospital wing issue than they let on; and since I was a bit concerned about that, among other things, I agreed; though Shrouder did suggestively suggest that we all stay in the compartment at all times. I lightly smacked his arm, and Ted rolled his eyes before shoving him outside the compartment door.
That train ride was the best I'd ever had, and I sighed when it ended all too soon. Ted and Shrouder promised to keep in touch for the next two months, but I regrettably told them it might prove difficult for me to do the same. But at least I had their letters to look forward to.
When we got off the train, Shrouder turned to me and sadly said, "Now, alas, my lovely, we must part." He pulled me into a bone crushing hug and kissed me right on the lips. Once he broke away from me, he announced, "Come, Teddy-Bear, our chariot awaits!" and pretended to gallop with his trunk through the barrier of Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. I was laughing. Once I came to expect Shrouder to do the unexpected no matter the circumstance, I didn't find his actions quite so shocking; like the Kelpie incident, which Shrouder would still remind us of by bursting into tears at random moments.
I looked over at Ted as he shook his head in the direction his best mate had galloped off in. "Unbelievable," he said. He turned to face me, and I felt my breath catch in my throat. How I adored his deep, blue eyes. "You may think he's funny now, but that's only because he didn't gallop off to start planning how he'd make sure you hear him every minute for the next two months."
I laughed again, wondering if too much time with Shrouder really could make a person go insane, as Ted had once told me.
"Well, I'll, uh, see you soon," Ted said as we crossed through the barrier.
"Yeah." I nodded, wishing summer didn't last two entire months.
"So, um." Ted glanced somewhere - probably to where his family was waiting for him.
I looked away, for a moment.
He pulled my into a quick, tight hug. I barely had time to lightly place my hand on his back before he let go, but I cherished the feel of that hug all the same.
"I'll keep in touch, Dromeda," he said.
I smiled. I had no memory of ever being called "Dromeda" before, and I liked it. "Andromeda" is a long name anyways.
He smiled and nodded.
We headed in separate directions, going home for the summer break. Even though the closest thing to a real home I had ever had was the place I had just left.