Chapter 1 : The Home Front
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Also, just to kick things off, I always thank certain reviewers throughout my story when I feel it comes to it. This is my shout out to Spicky who wrote some of the most AMAZING reviews - practically made me cry! Hope I’ll be hearing more from you soon, Spicky.
If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
- George Bernard Shaw
I was running, though I wasn’t too sure where. My skin felt ice-cold and wet, and my hair was tangled all over the place, but there was a crash and it suddenly felt silky smooth. I was screaming at the top of my lungs. But what was I saying? I couldn’t hear my own voice, just the water rushing into my ears.
How many people had died while I was struggling for my own? How many had suffered? My cheeks were also wet, though as of now that wasn’t saying much, and salty because of the tears…
“Anne, wake up! Anne!”
My mother was hovering over me as I woke up. I was sweating all over and I immediately began crying when I became fully conscious. Mum cradled me in her arms until I finally got to grips with myself.
“Sorry, mum.” I wiped my face. “Just another bad dream.”
“These have been happening too many times for my liking. Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
No. I never wanted to talk about it. Especially because it wasn’t the same dream. OK - it was various dreams, but each involved me running to trying to save a life in some way. And I failed every time. What’s worse is that I could feel the sting of that failure burning into my chest, even now.
“We need you doing something,” said my mother, though I feel it was more to herself than to me. “How about a language? You always said that you wanted to learn Mermish!”
I looked at her, slightly bewildered. “You’re kidding? Mum, I said I wanted to learn it when I was six!”
“But still! We could all do it. Yes, I’ll see if Leslie wants –”
Glaring at the ceiling, I growled, “I am not doing anything with her.” Like I wanted to honestly be around the bitch that completely ruined my family. Isn’t it enough that we’re actually in the same building? That I know that she sleeps with my mother in her room?
Folding her arms over each other – a little dramatic, aren’t we? – she said, “Leslie is part of this family, and I would appreciate a little more co-operation, Anne.”
Yes, let’s accept the fact that my mother happens to have a ‘life partner’ who caused so much hate. Sounds perfectly spiffing. OK, that has to be at least the second time I’ve used that word in less than a year, so I think we’ll just leave it for a moment before I am actually declared insane.
“Besides,” continued mum as she stroked my hair to one side, “she does care about you. You should really try to make more of an effort.”
“Look, I’m still here, aren’t I? That’s more than can be said for others like –”
“Don’t mention her in front of me, Anne.”
When she said, her, she meant Verity. Verity was my older sister, until she decided to go and was unofficially disowned. When she found out about mum’s relationship last year, she walked out. No kidding, she actually walked out and said that she clearly didn’t have any parents anymore. She’s now accepted the fact that she has a sister, but she only wrote to me on my birthday last week. It wasn’t a card or anything, but just a small note mentioning happy birthday and that she was happily living in London.
I laughed bitterly. “So now you only have one daughter?”
“I have one accepting daughter. Don’t I?”
Didn’t she get it? It wasn’t the gay thing. I sort of saw that coming for a while. It was more of the Leslie thing. Leslie was an eighth Veela and could be a real cow at times. I didn’t like her before they started this relationship of theirs, and I didn’t like her after.
I shook my head. “I do accept you, mum.”
Sighing, my mum then asked, “Then why don’t you accept Leslie.”
Because she’s a cow. Does nobody listen to me? “Because she’s not my mother. I’ll always accept her as the family friend who works for you at the store, but she is not a member of my family. She’s a member of your family. You should be grateful that I’m allowing myself to be in the same house as her.”
“Only for a couple of weeks. You’re off to Bella’s soon…”
And I couldn’t wait. Bella’s house had to be one of best places to live. Her parents were both kind and insisted on treating you like one of their own. I mean, there already had three children, and they were eager to take care of more. It meant that they weren’t overly polite, like most parents were, to other people’s children – but blunt and honest.
I could see the annoyance in my mother’s eyes. I understood that she was upset that I was going. I guess it was a while since I was last here. Usually I stay over for Christmas but it was the Yule Ball last year. I tried to tell her that I didn’t have much fun, if it helped, but she didn’t believe me. I tried to make her, but I didn’t want to mention the fact that Pucey slipped me a potion. He was already stalking me with owls. If she knew what he was really like, I was sure that she would lock me in my room for eternity.
I mean, she was only getting the hang of me having a boyfriend. When she found out about George Weasley, she almost hit the roof. Of course, she loved him after a while. She read some of my owls. Without my permission, I might add...
His business is going better than ever, you know? Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. What he was making was actually pretty impressive. You know, my boyfriend, George Weasley? Merlin, that sounds great to say!
OK, I’ve gotten over any past reasons to not date him. Like the fact that the only reason I said yes was because I was too distracted by another guy. Now, my mind was mainly focused on the loveable Weasley. Because he’s my boyfriend.
I mean, he knows what he’s doing with his life. And hopefully he’ll just stay here, so they’ll be no ‘I think I should leave you because it’s for the best’ epiphanies. To be honest, it’s slightly blissful – if you could use the world blissful in this sentence. Sadly, we’ve only actually met once over the summer. He had to go somewhere. To be honest, he was a bit secretive about it, but I plan to be a little suave minx and seduce the information out of him. I’m not very minx like, though - and I think we all know this. You never know, super and more mature me may actually become one over time.
Yes, looking back, Pucey may have rubbed off a bit off me. I had become a bit of a snogging addict. However, I have a boyfriend for that. A boyfriend that actually doesn’t make me physically ill. Well, I don't know since we haven't gotten a chance to snog yet, per say...
My boyfriend, George Weasley. I’d write to him, but I don’t actually know where he is. That has been kind of pissing me off over the past few weeks. I mean, the fact that I don’t actually know what my own boyfriend was up to. I know more about what Seamus, for goodness sake!
While I was ranting in my mind about how I deserve to know my boyfriend’s location – my boyfriend George Weasley – she entered through the door, grinning like an idiot.
Leslie Desmond – or officially Leslie Walters, but I’ll be damned if I call her that – stood in the doorway, her blonde hair shimmering down to just below her chest. Her tall frame intimidated me. OK, this was her trying not to make me angry. You can’t blame me for feeling like my mother has a show-girlfriend.
I tried to sit up as tall as I could. I had actually grown a little bit. In fact, I was appreciating my body a bit more. I had become curvier and my hair looked a little fuller. But that doesn’t really matter right now.
“Leslie,” I retorted coldly. She frowned but I didn’t see why. After all, I used to call her ‘Desmond’, so she should be happy.
“Is it OK if we have a chat?”
A chat? Seriously? Since when was it OK for us to have chats? “Sure…” Let’s have a good old chin-wag, while we’re at it.
Leslie sat down at the side of my bed. I actually meant on the chair in the corner of the room but OK…She looked at me with that stupid I’m-part-Veela smile and said, “I’ve just been talking with your mother, and I think we’re both worried that we’re not… connecting.”
OK…is she kidding me? “Leslie, when have we connected?”
“I know, and that was fine while I was your mother’s assistant –”
“You’re still mum’s assistant –”
“- but now I am her wife –”
“You’re her life partner –”
“- and I feel that now since you are technically my daughter –”
“I am not your daughter.”
“Will you let me finish?”
Staring at her, I snarled, “Do you want the honest answer?”
Her lips pursed together and I knew she was fighting the urge to shout at me. I loved pushing her to the limit, even back when she first started working for my mother. “Anne, I’m just trying to make this work. I want us to be friends.”
If you wanted that, you wouldn’t have taken my mother. “You don’t have to be my friend. All you have to be is my mother’s life partner.” Honestly, she didn’t have to be that either, if it was getting too rough for her. Us Walters are strong, witty, and passionate people. If she can’t take it, then she can go back to wherever she came from.
“That’s it! I am going to be your friend even if it kills me!” Now there was tone she never used on me before. “I have two tickets to a Quidditch match –”
“I don’t like Quidditch.”
“Don’t lie to me,” growled Leslie. “I’ve known you for a while. You were always so excited about matches and –”
“That was the pre-Oliver Wood me.”
Oh dear Lord, did I just say that aloud? I clearly had because she was looking at me, cocking her eyebrow.
After this argument, she is so banned my room. “Yes, he used to go to our school. Overly obsessed with Quidditch.”
“Oliver Wood, the Puddlemere United reserve?”
“Yes – what?” No. Way. - dear me, American moment? I am not prepared to believe that Oliver Wood actually became successful.
Looking at the proud grin on her face, I became more composed and casually said, “Yes, he is. He was a friend.”
There was no reply. Instead, she just smirked and nodded. “This doesn’t happen to be the one who sent the owl that you said that we should burn?”
Ah, shit. I knew that would come back to haunt me. Oliver sent me an owl around the beginning, and it looked like a thick one at that. I had strictly said that they should burn it, but I know that they didn’t. They obviously think that I’ll change my mind.
“Must have gotten you pretty angry?”
“Well, sort of. He thought that – oh no you don’t.”
Looking taken aback, but it such an exaggerated expression that it can’t have been in earnest, she said, “Don’t what?”
“We are not doing this!”
“We are not… bonding. Especially over men. I don’t even do that with my mum. I got the talk from Verity and it ended there. And you don’t even swing that way! So no, no, no, no. We are not going to talk about Oliver sodding Wood.”
Standing up, she nodded. “Fair enough. It’s probably best that we don’t talk about men. I mean, I wouldn’t know anything about them, being part Veela.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You’re gay.”
“I’m bi, darling. I can still appreciate a game with a bunch of men in tight uniforms getting sweaty.” She held up the Quidditch tickets suggestively. OK, she can’t talk like that, can she?
“As my mother’s life partner, I refuse to let you talk about Quidditch team members in that way,” I snapped, grinning slightly.
Oh my Godric, I’m grinning. Oh, she’s good.
Laughing, she left me behind in my room. I tried my best to seem as pissed off as possible.
“She’s such a slut.”
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