“Got everything, love?”
I glanced at the cart I was lugging around. My eyes scanned over an owl cage that perched upon various suitcases, filled to bursting with clothes and spell books. I slipped a hand into my jean pocket, making sure that my wand was there, even though I could already feel it lying against my knee. I supposed that the longer I took double checking my items, the less time I would have to sit on that blasted train. I swear, if another person was going to ask me if I was alright, I am going to curse them into oblivion. It’s been two years. I think I can handle myself.
The voice sounded worried. I haven’t been much of a talker lately, which was odd for me because I always had something to say. “Yeah, Dad. I have everything.”
I looked up at my father and faked a smile. He smiled back, and I couldn’t help but wonder how he could possibly still look the same as he did in his wedding photos. I mean, even Mum at least looked like she had aged. And Mum was always the better looking one. I reckon wizards and witches don’t age as quickly as Muggles.
You see, my mother was a Muggle. Well, she still is, but that isn’t the point. Anyway, my father, Seamus Finnigan, met her while he was on a job for the Ministry at a Muggle supermarket in Bristol. Why the Ministry needed an Auror to be stationed in a Muggle supermarket is still a mystery to me, but nevertheless, he was there.
He met my mother in the fruit isle. Knowing my father, he was probably trying to woo her by doing suggestive things with cantaloupes. Quite frankly, I can see him now, holding two up to his chest and winking at her. But I digress…
My father gathered up the courage to ask her out on a date. Melinda Montgomery said no, and she explained that she was seeing somebody. Apparently the relationship was not very serious – or she was lying – because when my father asked her out a second time, she said yes.
Really romantic, I know. But there is no denying that they love each other. In fact, Rose and Scorpius are – were – the same way as my parents. The way Scorpius looked at Rose was the way Dad looks at Mum. There was no denying, even in fourth year, that Rose and Scorpius were destined to be together. They were just so perfect. They were like a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich with the crusts taken off. Don’t look at me like that; peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches are delicious.
In fact, Rose introduced me to them. The summer before our second year, the first time I stayed over her house, she placed a plate with four perfectly cut triangles in front of me. I remember staring at the white, gooey substance that was oozing out of the sides with a mixture of horror and disgust. I only ate it because she promised me that if I tried it, she would convince James to let me have a go at his Marauder’s Map.
Needless to say, James nearly had heart failure when Rose asked him, and I found a new love for peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches.
“Sweetheart, is something wrong?” My mother’s voice rang into my ear. Immediately, I wiped the tears out of my eyes with the back of my hand and mumbled something about allergies.
Stop thinking about her, Keira.
“No, Mum, everything’s fine.”
“Have a good year, alright?” my mother said, her tone tinged with slight worry. She wrapped her arms around me in a bone crushing hug. “Promise me that you’ll write.”
“Yeah, Mum, every week,” I grumbled into her chest. I was sure that she was cutting off the oxygen flow to various parts of my body.
“Mel, let’s not suffocate our only daughter,” my father joked. I was thankful when she let go. She caught Bradan off guard and started to hug and kiss him, despite his groans of disapproval.
Dad snickered before he hugged me tightly and kissed the top of my head. “Your mother and I love you very much. We’re proud of you.”
They always said that they were proud of me, and it always made me wonder what it was exactly that they were proud of. The way my grades were totally average? The fact that I wasn’t made a prefect last year? Whatever the bizarre reason, they always said they were proud of me. What was even more bizarre was that they sounded like they actually meant it.
I guess it was something they learned in Mum’s crazy parenting manual that she still
reads. Being a psychologist caused Mum to become almost as loony as her patients; one of which is in love with his cat (“She has my ex-girlfriend’s eyes”
With one last look at our parents, and with one final sniffle from Mum, Bradan and I walked onto the train. Bradan hurried off to the compartment where his fellow seventh year Gryffindors – including his boy toy Christian – were waiting. I refuse to call Christian his boyfriend. He should be mine, damnit. Alright, so maybe I’m a tad possessive. But it isn’t my fault that the world hates me.
I waved a final goodbye to Mum and Dad before starting off into the corridor in search of an empty compartment. I noticed all of the faces looking at me; feeling sorry
for me. It took a lot for me not to put the Bat Bogey hex on all of them.
I let out an angry sigh and pushed open the second to last compartment door.
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?
“What do you think, Keira?”
I looked up from my copy of Witch Weekly, oblivious to my surroundings. To my chagrin, Neve Quinlan was staring at me expectantly.
I didn’t even know what the hell she was talking about. Well, that wasn’t entirely the truth. I was torn between two guesses; she was either gushing about Graydon Zabini, or gushing about herself. I took my best shot at guessing which one she was talking about.
“Of course Graydon is interested in you, Neve.” My voice sounded more monotone than the automated voice on our answering machine back at home.
Neve giggled. “I suppose you’re right.” She looked satisfied enough with my answer and went back to staring at herself in a pocket mirror.
I shot a sideways glance at Piper Ingram, who pulled multiple faces at Neve. I stifled a giggle.
“Doesn’t Graydon have a girlfriend, Neve?” Dom asked casually. I almost laughed out loud when I saw Neve’s face. Her mouth was shaped into a perfectly round O. She looked like a dead fish. Merlin bless Dominique Weasley.
“What little whore is he dating this time?”
“That little whore
is me, Neve.”
And here’s where it gets uncomfortable.
“Piper, you’re dating Graydon?” Neve asked, more surprised than angry.
Piper snorted. “Yes, Neve. He asked me out at the end of fifth year, right before the summer started.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Neve asked.
Piper glared at Neve before letting out an exasperated sigh. “I told you three about it on the train ride home. It was in bloody June, how could you possibly forget?”
“I reckon all that air comes out of her ears over the holiday.”
Piper and Dom high-fived each other. I let out a groan.
It was times like these that I needed Rose most. Rose and I just weren’t the type to make fun of our fellow classmates to their faces. We both had the decency to talk about how stupid Neve was when she wasn’t around. To be honest, the two of us were terrified of Neve. That girl is 115 pounds of pure evil. And diet shakes.
And, in all sincerity, Rose was my only true best mate. If Dom, Piper, and Neve did not share a dormitory with me, I probably would not have shared two words with any of them. Alright, I might have chatted once of twice with Dom, considering she is
Rose’s cousin. And I may have even talked to Piper because, well, I tend to get along with the sarcastic ones. I might have also spoken with Neve – but it would only go as far as the two of us sharing quick-witted retorts. Who am I kidding? Neve doesn’t know any quick-witted retorts.
“Oh, yeah? Well… you’re hair looks horrible today.”
See what I mean?
“Ouch, Neve,” Dom said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “That really hurts.”
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is –
“Yeah,” Piper giggled. “Neve really got the best of you, Dom. Now it’s your turn to bruise her ego.”
—that I can never be close with Dom, Piper, or Neve –
“Oh, please, Piper. You can’t bruise her giant ego even if we got a hold of it and stomped it to death.”
—like I was with Rose because –
“That would be so funny,” Neve started, crossing her arms, “if that made any sense.”
—those three can never –
“It makes perfect sense, you dolt,” Piper retorted.
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
Did I just say that out loud?
“Excuse me?” the three of them asked in unison.
“Just…” I bolted up from my seat, not entirely sure what I was going to say or what I was going to do. “I’m going to the bathroom.” I slid open the compartment door. “Try not to kill each other while I’m gone, yeah?”
“So if Neve were to mysteriously vanish…”
“Piper, don’t start,” I said venomously, slamming the compartment door shut.
“Hmph!” I could hear Neve through the closed door. “Keira obviously likes me more than you two. I always knew that girl had sense.”
I groaned before starting my way aimlessly down the corridor. I lasted a whole three compartment doors down before I trampled into somebody. “Oy, watch it,” a disgruntled voice muttered. Before I could say my apologies, the boy grabbed hold of my shoulder. “Oh, Keira, it’s you. I’m sorry. I’m just not in the best of spirits at the moment.”
I looked up, only to stare into the apologetic face of Christian Banks. I nearly melted into a puddle. I wasn’t sure what was gleaming more, his Head Boy badge or his beautiful eyes.
“Don’t worry about it,” I replied, doing my best to keep both my tone and composure calm. “It was my fault anyway.”
“No, it wasn’t.” His hand was still pressed firmly on my shoulder. “Listen…”
Shit. Here we go.
“You look a little… bent out of shape. Er, how are you… you know… holding up?”
“I’m holding up just fine, thanks,” I said, my tone coming off much edgier than I had intended. Christian blushed, and I mentally slapped myself on the head. I’m such a joy to talk to these days.
“You’re probably sick of constantly being asked that question two years later, huh?” he asked, scratching his head.
I nodded. “Yeah. It does get a little…”
“Annoying?” he offered.
annoying.” Christian laughed.
“I’ll bet,” he said, shuffling his feet. “But you know we ask you that with the best intentions.”
“Oh, come off it,” Christian said, suddenly frustrated. He let go of my shoulder and inhaled deeply. ”Everyone is worried about you, Keira.”
I was taken aback by his statement. “Worried about me
? There are other people that Rose’s death – that Rose’s murder
– has affected. People should be worried about James… Al… Hugo… Scorpius… her parents
, for Merlin’s sake! Not about me! Don’t people care about them
Christian nodded his head furiously, as if the harder he flailed his head, the more I would understand. “Of course people are worried about them, Keira. It’s just that…” he faltered, not wanting to continue.
“It’s just that what
, Christian?” I pressed on.
He bent his head so far down that his nose was a mere inch away from my face. Then he said in a voice that was just above a whisper, “They weren’t the ones that saw her body like that.”
I didn’t have to ask, but something overtook me. “Like what?”
“All… bloody and… and… and helpless.” The words came out strained.
I let out a sigh before nodding. “Yeah, I understand. You don’t have to say anymore. I just… I just need to go.”
Before Christian could say another word, I turned around and walked back to my compartment.
The feast went by without a hitch. After the first years were sorted – I swear, they get smaller every year – I ate my weight in steak and kidney pie before shuffling out of the Great Hall. I made my way up to the sixth year girls’ dormitory in the Gryffindor common room and collapsed on my four-poster bed. Staring at the ceiling, curtains closed, I could hear the distant sound of Dom and Piper talking.
“Why did I eat so much?”
I smirked. Dom never knew when to stop eating. I guess being a Weasley does that to a person.
“Did Mummy not serve you a big enough going away breakfast this morning?” Piper teased.
Dom made a fake retching noise. “My mother can’t cook for her life depended on it. She can’t even make crepes, and she’s French! It’s no surprise that Nana Molly hates her.”
Piper laughed. “Isn’t hate a strong word? I’ve met your grandmother, and I don’t think she can hate anyone.”
It was odd to hear Piper say something that wasn’t sardonic and rude.
“I mean, she puts up with your constant whining.”
Ah, there it was.
Dom threw what I assumed to be a pillow in Piper’s direction. Well, whatever it was, I could hear Piper throwing it right back. A “pillow” fight between Dom and Piper ensued, and I could only roll over on my bed and attempt to get some rest.
I was nearing the point of falling asleep when the sound of running water reached my ear. Almost immediately, I could hear the muffled sound of the toilet being flushed. The water ran from the sink for a few more seconds before being turned off. The door unlocked the same time I drew my curtain open. Standing by the doorframe was Neve, wearing pajamas and an angry look on her face.
“What were you doing in there for so long?” I dared to ask. Like I said, the girl scared me.
“None of your business,” she snapped.
Good enough for me. I shrugged and closed my curtain. I just about closed my eyes when —
“Ahhhhh!” Neve tripped over something and fell down. “Why are there books
all over the floor!?”
I let out a laugh before closing my eyes and drifting off to sleep…
“Keira, get up.”
Really, Dom, this so isn’t the time and place for you to ask me to go jogging.
I rolled over and covered my face with my pillow. Immediately, the pillow was snatched away. How bloody rude. I let out a moan and attempted to push Dom off the bed with my foot, but all I seemed to be kicking was air.
“Oh, honestly, Keira,” Dom demanded. “Wake up!”
I shot up from my mattress before Dom would get any ideas about using the Aguamenti spell on me.
“Really, Dom, what the hell is your—” I stopped abruptly and stared into the startlingly blue eyes that were certainly not Dom’s icy grey ones.
Author’s Note: Well, what do you guys think? Love it? Hate it? Please, leave a review! Oh, and thank you to everyone who took the time to review the prologue. It truly made my day reading them all.