Chapter 1 : The Dodgy Antique Shop
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I live alone in a small, yet cozy apartment above a dodgy antique shop. I work as a waitress over the summer to pay off my rent and school fees, minus the cost of food and amenities, of course. That’s what welfare’s for.
But other than that I am a lonely girl living in a lonely, small, yet cozy apartment above a dodgy antique shop.
Lonely. And tired.
It’s always been like this—ever since they had nowhere to put me or anyone to dump my troublesome teenage angst upon. There was only one solution to such a problem. Let the child fend for herself once she earns decent wages and doesn’t work the streets for a living. She’s nearly of age, anyway. She’ll be alright. She’ll be safe. Set her free to explore the wonders of reality.
FYI, reality sucks. A lot.
I sit alone in my small, yet cozy apartment above a dodgy antique shop on the rickety chair that I found in the back alley. I look around at the plethora of makeshift furniture I just so happened to salvage from dumpsters, alleyways, and scrap wood. A poor excuse of a set of drawers. A crate with a frilly and out-of-date table cloth to cover the labels of what used to be in it. A chandelier I fashioned out of bottle caps, tin cans, and wire. An old wicker birdcage hangs in the back corner, its former occupant dead and long gone from old age. My trunk that contains my school things, gathering dust because I continue to neglect it. A bed, too, of course, but I suppose that doesn’t count because it came with the room.
The walls are covered with everything one can find in a “Free Junk” box on the sidewalk (which, in truth, is pretty much where they all came from). Mirrors to paintings to broken cuckoo clocks to pieces of tattered tapestries to old photos that are so damaged that the images flicker when they move. You name it; I’ve got it—here in my small, yet cozy apartment above a dodgy antique shop.
To sum it all up, I’m a packrat, and a major one, at that. Mr. Finn, the owner of the dodgy antique shop below lets me have anything—and I mean anything—he deems unsellable. Most of those things I keep, by the way.
So where are my parents? My guardians? My distant muggle relatives?
Nobody asks me, which is good. I don’t know how or what to answer.
They didn’t tell me what happened to my parents. I really could care less.
This one and final look at my apartment fills me with relief yet dismay: one, because I won’t have to worry about paying for my rent and food, but two, because I utterly and irrevocably abhor school. Though, I do suppose it’s a good thing that I live in Hogsmeade which is only a few miles away from the school grounds. I could probably walk there if I wish… maybe I could do it this year. I’ve always needed the exercise, anyway.
“Darling, the carriage will be leaving soon!” calls my landlady, Mrs. Woodberry. She’s a spritely old woman, hunched from years of labor and childbirth that has a fancy for wearing anything floral. The late Mr. Woodberry passed away a few years back and Mrs. Woodberry enjoys my company as much as she can. Although Mr. Finn owns the actual shop, she owns the two apartments above it: hers and mine. Originally, Mr. Finn and Mr. Woodberry were business partners, naturally naming the store “Finn & Woodberry”. Though, due to some odd circumstances, the “Woodberry” part of the “Finn & Woodberry” sign above the entrance of the shop chipped away and Mr. Finn continues failing to fix it. Mrs. Woodberry doesn’t mind, though. “A failure of a shop, anyways, darling,” she once said to me. Regularly, she bakes me goodies that often can save me a week’s worth of food. She also signed my Hogsmeade permission slip, even though technically she’s not my legal guardian (pointless, seeing that I live here). Yet, Mrs. Woodberry is another reason why I dread going to school, knowing that I have to leave her alone while she works the dodgy antique shop for the continually ill Mr. Finn and dusts the various knick-knacks that cover my walls. But she’s worried about my education more than my company, and insists on me going. That dear old woman. I think she’s senile, but I love her to death.
I take my suitcases downstairs to the front door of the shop, stuff my second-hand school books that I bought yesterday into my dusty trunk, and then painfully drag the heavy thing down the stairs. I leave all of my belongings beside the door, knowing that somehow they’ll end up in my dormitory. (No one knows how, really, but my guess is that armies of house elves poof them all in.)
“Here, darling. I baked you some goods for the road,” says Mrs. Woodberry with a toothless smile as she leans against the doorframe. She hands me a heavy basket with a piece of floral cloth sticking out of the top. It smells like berries. How fitting.
I sigh. “Oh, Gran,” –a name which she forced me to call her the moment I moved in— “I’ll get fat from all the things you feed me. And the ride’s only fifteen minutes long, I really don’t see why you had to go through all the trouble—.”
“Shush, darling. It was nothing.” She gives me a tight hug, and I pat her back awkwardly.
I was never much of a hugger.
“You sure you’ll be alright?” I ask.
“Oh, yes I’ll be fine, don’t worry. Now go before you miss the carriage.” She gives me a pat on the rump, making me jump slightly into step.
“Bye, Gran. Thanks for everything.”
“Take care of yourself, darling. Don’t forget to write!”
I wave goodbye to her as she blows me kisses until I turn the corner, walking the short distance to Hogsmeade station where the carriages await for the many students from Kings Cross. Not many people my age reside here in Hogsmeade. A good thing, seeing how embarrassingly awkward it is to wait on my peers at the café.
I’ve had several jobs here in Hogsmeade during the past two years I’ve been living here. My first job was at the local candy shop where I swept floors and dusted shelves. It wasn’t too bad, until I had a strange addiction of sneaking a piece of candy every few minutes. Every few minutes grew into every minute and then every minute turned into every time I finished the previous piece of candy. Things happened and eventually I was stripped off two weeks’ worth of pay and I was fired.
But, hey. I was fourteen. I hadn’t gotten through puberty let alone my childhood sweet tooth. Even though I lost precious pay, it was totally worth it. Plus, half of my rent was paid for every month back then.
My job after that was probably the worst one. Two words: Madame Puddifoot’s.
Must I say more?
I’m not going to delve into total detail about what happened, but let’s just say that I hate anything, and I mean anything sappy, over-romantic, or schmaltzy whatsoever. It was weird that I even got that job because my overall interview went exactly like this:
“So, why would you work here at my glorious establishment?”
(This was Madame Puddifoot speaking. All I remember was that she has a huge mole above the corner of her lip and that she wore too much make-up.)
“Er… because I need to pay off my rent?”
“OH, LOVE, YOU ARE HIRED. You start Monday.”
“Er… cool. Thanks.” I tried to crack a smile but it probably came out as a crooked grimace.
And that was that. I ended up being a waitress, throwing confetti, singing songs, selling worthless “good luck charms”, etc. etc….
So how was I fired? I quit. I hate pink.
After that I gave up hope. I had lost two jobs in three months, yet Gran let me work at Finn & Woodberry for the few weeks that remained of my summer. I didn’t do much seeing that Gran hardly even let me do anything. She gave me my pay, but I felt so bad that I stuck most of it into the cash register. Business was bad, anyway.
The next summer I took a job at Zonko’s. It was fun while it lasted, but needless to say, they didn’t pay me that much. I hardly got by. That summer was when I had to pay full rent by myself. This summer, I’ve been working at the Three Broomsticks, which is by far the best job that I’ve had. The tips are good, and although Madame Rosmerta can be a pain sometimes, it’s nothing I can’t bear.
I pass the line of carriages that are waiting for the students to arrive, but I decide to not climb into one. Thestrals give me the shivers even if I can’t see them.
As I arrive onto the platform, there are a few people waiting on a few benches. One girl smiles and gives a small wave, probably recognizing me from the Three Broomsticks. I swear I’ve never seen her before, but before I can respond she turns away to look at her feet.
I look around at the empty station and step up to the edge of the platform. I look both ways where the train tracks never seem to end. Empty. The sound of my feet shuffling on the stone floors echoes awkwardly against the walls.
I’ve always hated this part. The beginning. Everyone’s so happy—so ergh. I try to avoid the crowds as much as possible. There has been only one time where I got a carriage to myself, and I note that that was perhaps my best experience at Hogwarts.
Hogwarts. Just the sound of it makes me cringe.
In the distance I hear a muffled horn.
Oh, fabulous. The train. My heart begins to skip a slight beat, yet accelerating faster and faster as it comes nearer. I shut my eyes and put my fingers on my temples.
It’s okay. It’ll be fine. No need to worry.
Worry? Hah! Who’s worried? I’ve gone through this five times already; I don’t see why I should be worried.
Deep breaths. Just deep breaths.
I quickly open the basket Gran gave me and grab the first thing I touch.
Good. Cookies, and several of them at that. I hastily gulp them down as my heart rate goes down to a steady beat.
I back up into a bench and unconsciously grab another thing—this time, a muffin. The uneasy feeling that began to rise in my stomach went down.
As I go to take another large bite from it I quickly stop myself from doing so.
Oh, God not again.
I sigh in frustration as I slump down the bench.
It’s not that I’m a compulsive eater—which, trust me, I’m not, I barely have any food to eat as it is—it’s just that when I’m worried… and that… there just so happens to be food around… I eat my feelings away.
So I’m not compulsive. I can control myself.
And what am I worried about? It’s only school. What’s a couple of months of my life confined in an old castle?
Nothing. That’s what.
I look down at the half eaten muffin in my hand. It suddenly looks so unappetizing that I nearly gag and I throw it aside for the pigeons.
The train begins to come into the station, its bright red surface glaring in the lamplight making me grimace at the sight of it. Smoke billows and fills up the ground with the high pitch screeching of the breaks echoing in my ears.
Stomaching thestrals over this is ten times easier. Honestly.
I meander back towards the carriages, staring at the large gaps between them half-expecting to see skeletal horses suddenly appear if I look hard enough. I hold my hand up, curious as to what would happen if I touched one.
Your hand will burn off.
I shake my thoughts away realizing the ridiculousness of it all and climb into the carriage.
It’s warm in the carriage. It’s dark and quiet and the seat cushions are comfortable.
I didn’t get much sleep last night—anxiety, of course. And it most definitely wasn’t out of excitement. Why would I be happy for this day to come? Not to mention a throbbing pain is emitting from my stomach.
The complete solitude rushes through me and I begin to realize that I’m more exhausted than I thought. The less-than-necessary amount of sleep I got begins to take its toll on me. My eyelids feel heavy, my body so extremely tired and cold that to move would require all of the energy I have left in me to do so. As I slip in and out of consciousness the sound of footsteps and voices are muffled from the outside of the carriage.
Sleep. A nice thing, really, until you get rudely awakened.
There’s four of them.
That means there are five people in the carriage.
The carriage that’s too small for five people and their belongings.
How they manage to squeeze themselves in I have no idea.
Pushing. Shoving. An utterly uncomfortable feeling throughout once I wake up. Or maybe it’s just my stomach.
I reluctantly open an eye.
And Marauders at that.
As if the beginning of this year could get any worse.
I straighten myself up and avoid eye contact with them as much as possible. Maybe if I don’t move they won’t see me.
“Hello there,” one says awkwardly.
I look away. He wasn’t talking to me. He was talking… to the person next to me. Yeah, that’s it.
There’s an odd silence in the carriage.
“I don’t think she heard you, Moony,” says another.
“Maybe she’s deaf! And mute, too!”
“I highly doubt that.”
“She could just be a bitch,” one says lazily.
“Could she be blind too?”
Somebody waves a hand in front of my face. I try not to blink. So far not moving isn’t working. I guess the myth really isn’t true; they can see me. And so far, they’re entertained—no, intrigued with me.
But now that I think about it, it was dinosaurs, not marauders.
Oh, well. Same difference.
So what am I supposed to do now? They see me. I see them. Well, so far I have two choices.
A) Continue to ignore them and they’ll live the rest of their lives thinking that I’m a deaf-mute-blind freak. Or,
B) Try to play it off as best as I can and hope for the best.
With the foremost being the worst case scenario, I willingly pick choice B.
Oh, I know. I’ll play the sick card. Works every time… I think. Let’s see, how about the usual: headache, dizziness, nausea—the whole nine yards.
Well, here goes.
I blink dramatically a few times and shake my head.
“Oh… my,” I gasp, trying to look as disoriented as possible.
Oh, my? Oh, my? Is this truly the best I can come up with?
“Are you all right?” one asks.
I still haven’t looked at them. But I can’t—if I do I fear I’ll turn into stone.
Or… something like that.
I lean forward and rub my fingertips on my forehead. My stomach throbs painfully but I try to ignore it.
“Did something happen?”
“N-no. I’m fine, thanks for asking,” I stutter (although, it almost sounded like a retort. Almost.)
“Would you like some water? Or—or some chocolate?” one suggests.
The reminder of food suddenly makes me want to gag. What is this sudden feeling? Maybe I’m a better actor than I thought—so much, in fact, that I really do feel sick.
The pain in my stomach slowly makes its way up—my chest, my throat, and then my head. I slap a hand over my mouth and I’m pretty sure by now that I’ve turned a lovely shade of green. How could this have happened? The only thing I’ve eaten all day was Gran’s….
I heave as the carriage bumps over a rock.
“Oh, God she’s going to puke!” wails one of them.
“Stop the carriage. Stop the carriage! For God’s sake, Wormtail, don’t just sit there—do something!”
“DAMMIT, SOMEONE STOP THIS FUCKING CARRIAGE.”
The carriage bounces even more as the four of them fight and scramble as far as they can away from me. Suddenly, someone kicks the door open and the carriage goes to a complete stop, shooting all of us forward into a tangled pile of limbs.
I need to get out. I need to get out.
Dammit, Gran! You and your tainted cookies!
I jump out the door and look both ways, my hand still covering my mouth.
Forest. It’s just endless forest. I dart into the bushes and just in the nick of time.
“HEY, COME BACK. DON’T LEAVE US!”
“STOP, DON’T GO!”
Wait, what? I stumble out of the leaves, holding my now empty stomach to find all four of them standing there with their backs towards me.
“Don’t worry, I’m still here,” I mumble, slightly confused.
They snap around at once, their faces flustered with anger and from… running?
I look around at the empty trail and the vast miles of forest around us.
Emphasis on the empty.
And there’s no carriage in sight.
(A/N): First chapter!! It's a little bit ranty, i know. I try to get all the general background out of the way in the first chapter... It's been so long since I've published fanfics. @_@ It's been what, four years?Yep i think so. Yaaay. I hope I can keep this one going--I think this is the longest I've ever gotten so far.... But keep reading! Leave a review! Make my day, c'il vous plait. ;D