Chapter 1 : A Beginning
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Lily Potter and Ruby Carmichael
“Ruby, are you sure that you have everything?” my grandmother asked me for what felt like the hundredth time. It was the first time ever that I was going over to a friend’s house, which meant that Grandma Kate was beginning to panic. She had always been a worrier, especially since she was alone most of the time. It wasn’t my fault that I had to go off to Hogwarts for school, and she was a quiet Muggle who had no choice but to take care of her orphan granddaughter.
I looked up from my trunk, stuffed with practically all of my clothes and belongings (which wasn’t much), and found my grandmother’s warm eyes trained on me, causing all of the annoyance, frustration, and raw nerves to wash away. I smiled lightly up at her, and replied, “Don’t worry, Grandma. I’m sure.” I slammed the cover of my trunk closes, which forced the thin walls of house to shake. I beamed up at her, a strand of my unmanageable brown hair falling into my face. I tucked it away automatically, knowing Grandma Kate would always get annoyed with how messy I always looked. “Everything will be fine.”
Grandma Kate raised her eyebrows, before gently smoothing a hand over the top of my head. I winced as her long nails caught a few stray hairs. “Can you promise me that you will stay out of trouble? I don’t know this Lily girl all that well, and you’ve never told me much about her family. The Porters, right?” she asked slowly, obviously very confused. I couldn’t help but grin up at her; anyone in the Wizarding World who would forget the last name of the Potter family would be sent to St. Mungos in a flash.
“The Potters,” I corrected, still smiling up at her. “You’ve met Lily before, though; she’s always with me at the platform. Don’t you remember her? She has red hair—“
“Wait, don’t tell me it’s the girl who was snogging that boy in your fifth year,” said Grandma Kate, looking appalled, and I felt a brief sting of annoyance at my best friend. Of course she had to be all over Paul, her latest “friend”, when my grandmother happened to come across us. Unfortunately, it was not all that surprising; Lily was never one for commitment, and long-term relationships never mixed well with her. That’s why I felt so much pity for my other best friend, Lysander Scamander, for being so hopelessly in love with her.
“She’s changed a lot, Grandma Kate,” I said lamely, and I could tell that it wasn’t very convincing. Damn her for being so perceptive. “Don’t worry; her parents will be there too, and they’re really good people. And so will her brothers; they don’t….”
I couldn’t even lie about that. Lily’s older brother, James, had been a trouble-maker during his time at Hogwarts, and even I, being four years younger than him and in a different house, had known that. I had seen many older girls rush into the Hufflepuff Common Room, shrieking about how they hated James Potter, and Lily and I would just exchange glances, knowing her eldest brother had just broken another heart. I didn’t know James all that well, but I knew enough to know that he was a pig.
Lily’s other brother, Albus, was someone that I didn’t know much about. He was a year older than Lily and I, but they didn’t talk much, unless it involved Al bickering with her about her latest boyfriend, or about how she needed to stop making a reputation for herself. I think he’s talked to me once, and that was asking where Lily was. Yes, very romantic, yeah? I didn’t care, though; I liked to avoid people like Albus Potter and his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy. They were always so intimidating, especially Albus, with his piercing green gaze and ability to see right through me. Or, at least, that’s what I felt.
“Ruby?” asked Grandma Kate, breaking me out of my thoughts, and I looked up at her, a blush forming on my cheeks. I always did that, staring off into space and losing myself in my own world. “Dear, are you sure you’re alright? You look a little pale.” She pressed a cool, rough hand to my forehead, and I smiled gently up at her. That was my grandmother; always caring for me, always there when I needed her most. I would do anything for her.
“I’m fine,” I said softly, my eyes now turning down to my feet. Lily would be arriving soon, I realized, and I quickly looked back up into Grandma Kate’s eyes. “I should bring my trunk downstairs; Lily’s probably going to be here any minute.” Grandma Kate nodded, gave me a smile, and then left the room silently. She had always had a hard time saying good-bye, especially after what happened to Mum and Dad.
I grabbed the handle of my trunk and pulled it off my bed and letting it thump onto the floor. As I struggled down the staircase with my trunk, my feet barely avoiding tripping over themselves, I didn’t notice the slim, pretty red-headed girl sitting on my couch, her legs crossed lazily and watching me with an amused smirk on her face. I was starting to sweat now, my hair frizzy and sticking to the back of my neck, as I arrived at the last step and dropped the bloody trunk onto the floor.
“Don’t you wish you were seventeen?” came a sing-song voice, and I jumped nearly ten feet up in the air. Okay, so maybe I over-exaggerated a bit.
I spun on my heel and, in an instant, pulled out my wand and pointed it at the person sitting in my living room. Or, at least, I tried to; it spilled from my fingers and fell to the floor, making me blush, especially when the person laughed loudly at me. “Bloody hell,” I mumbled to myself, cheeks still flaming, as I stooped down and picked up my wand, shoving it back into my pocket. I allowed myself to look up at the red-headed girl, and couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across from my face.
Her thick, vivid red hair was pulled back into a high, tight pony-tail, with a few stray strands falling gracefully into her eyes, which were a dark, chocolate brown. She was wearing Muggle clothing, thank goodness; it was still taking Grandma Kate a while to get used to the Wizarding World, including the different clothes. Lily Potter was sitting in my room, looking as confident as ever. “Is that how you greet your best friend that you haven’t seen in ages—“
“It’s been one day, Lily,” I said bluntly, and she gave me a look, silently scolding me for interrupting her. I held in the urge to roll my eyes. “It’s absolutely lovely to see you,” I added sarcastically, and she beamed at me, despite my tone.
“That’s better,” she said happily, and threw her arms around me in a warm embrace. I laughed at her, and returned the hug. She pulled away, and leaned back against the small table that held Grandma Kate’s most-prized possession: a vase from my grandfather that was given to her just before his death. “Are you ready to come to the spectacular Potter home? I’ve got to warn you, Scorpius Malfoy is there, and he and Al have been completely insufferable since he got there. The little buggers thought it would be funny to wake me up at four in the—“
Lily was caught off by a loud crashing sound that seemed to resound through the entire house; I froze as I saw the vase—the beautiful vase that Grandma Kate would gaze at whenever she lost herself—shattered on the wooden floors, the broken pieces spewed all over. Lily was gawking at it in horror, and I felt like I was going to be sick, especially as my grandmother hurriedly ran down the stairs. I think she asked what happened, but I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t even bare to look at my grandmother, frightened of what her face could look like.
“I’m so sorry,” whispered Lily, breaking the tense silence, and I wasn’t sure if my grandmother could even respond but she didn’t have to worry about that for too long. Green flames lit up our fireplace, and a pretty, older red-headed woman that looked remarkably similar to my gaping best friend strolled into the living room casually.
“I’m sorry I’m late—I’m afraid I had an emergency at the office,” apologized Ginny Potter, her dark eyes shining warmly at us all. She looked a bit taken aback at the tension in the room, and her eyes soon found the broken vase on the floor. “Oh, this can be fixed easily,” she said kindly, and her wand was in her hand quickly. Mrs. Potter waved her wand at the shards, and they came together quickly, reforming the beautiful vase once more. “There we go; good as new.”
The movement seemed to wake us all up, as I hastily bent down and picked up the vase gently, placing it on the table as soon as I can. Grandma Kate watched at Mrs. Potter with slight apprehension, as if she wasn’t quite sure what to think of her. Lily relaxed, and threw another apologetic glance in my direction, and I returned it with a light smile. “I’m Ginny Potter,” said Mrs. Potter in a casual voice, sticking her hand out in front of Grandma Kate, and she shook her hand with a nervous look still on her face.
“Kate Carmichael,” said my grandmother weakly; any sort of magic seemed to always make her anxious. “It’s nice to meet you, dear.”
“Likewise,” said Mrs. Potter with a bright smile, one that she seemed to have perfected. I wasn’t that surprised; being the wife of the most famous wizard of my time, I was sure that she had no choice but to be likable. “And you must be Ruby; I’ve heard so much about you.”
“All good things, I hope,” I said, giving Lily a look, which she returned with a mature sticking-out-her-tongue.
“Of course,” grinned Mrs. Potter, and I found myself already beginning to like her. I had never really gotten to know her, since Lily would always try to keep me away from her family. According to her, they were all nutters, and she didn’t want me to get a bad impression of her from them. In case you haven’t noticed, Lily is a bit of a drama queen; I still love her, though.
As Mrs. Potter and Grandma Kate began to talk about when I would be coming back, Lily pulled me away from them a little, and whispered into my ear, “I really am sorry. I wasn’t looking, and—“
“Don’t worry about it, Lils,” I said, smiling gently up at her. “It’s all okay now.” The red-head looked a bit more relieved, and I asked her, “I hope Al isn’t still bothering you about being caught in the broom closet with Caleb Lane,” hoping to steer the conversation to a different topic. Albus had been driving Lily absolutely bonkers since he had been opening the door to the broom closet and found his sister snogging her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.
Lily rolled her eyes irritably, and shook her head. “Stupid brothers. I guess he told Dad about it, so now they’re both driving me insane about the whole thing. Talking about how I should stop running around with different guys and actually having fun; I’m sorry I’m not a prude like Al.”
I grinned secretly at Lily, and she didn’t seem to notice it; only my best friend would think that having a different boyfriend every week would be fun. Before I could make any sort of comment, though, Mrs. Potter’s voice trailed towards us, “Well, we must be going, I’m afraid.”
“Oh, alright,” said Grandma Kate, her voice becoming a touch softer, and I understood now that she didn’t want to say goodbye. She turned to me, and with a few steps, enveloped me in a tight embrace, even with both the red-headed women watching us. “Take care of yourself, love,” she whispered into my ear, and I felt something wet fall onto the top of my head. She let me go and stood stiffly in front of me. “You know you can come back here anytime, okay? Even if you want to give me a visit?”
“I know, Grandma Kate,” I smiled sadly up at her, and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “I’ll try to come over on Christmas Day. I don’t want you to be alone.” I glanced quickly at Mrs. Potter, and she nodded encouragingly at me. I walked over to my trunk and grabbed it, and pulled it into the fireplace. “I’ll see you guys in a couple seconds, yeah?” I said tightly, trying my best not to get overemotional. I was being ridiculous, getting choked up just because I was saying goodbye to my grandmother. After throwing in some Floo powder from the flower pot sitting on the mantle, and yelled clearly, “The Potter Estate!”
A whirlwind of colors and lights swirled around me, and I closed my eyes tightly, not wanting to see anymore and get nauseous. Cold air rushed into my nostrils, and I shuddered at the uncomfortable sensations running throughout me. But, then, as suddenly as it began, it stopped, and warmth rushed through me. My trunk barreled away from me and I stumbled over the bloody thing; but, unlike most of the times I had fallen over something as silly as my trunk, I didn’t hit the hard floor. I fell onto something warm and much softer than the floor; it was most definitely alive, since it made a quiet grunting noise as soon as I fell onto it.
Or, should I say him, I realized as I reluctantly opened my eyes and found them staring into the emerald green orbs of Albus Potter, who was frowning up at me.
And it was then that I realized I was straddling Albus, my hands, sweaty and cold, on either side of his head, and my face inches from his.