Chapter 1 : Troublemaker
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There was a clatter as a huge tawny owl landed beside my cereal bowl, making the spoon jump loudly. I sighed as everyone within the vicinity stopped to stare excitedly at the smoking red letter tucked in its beak. The owl dropped the letter before me and took off into the sky; I knew it was going back to my Aunt Mina's tiny cottage where we lived alone during the summers.
I looped a purple coil of hair around my finger and pulled, watching uninterested as it sprung back into place the moment it was free. Lily Evans and Willow Addams sat on either side of me, watching warily; they knew my game well. When I'd first gotten a howler, back in first year, I had torn it open right away. But over the years I'd learned to control myself, timing how long it would take before the envelope burst into flames and Aunt Mina's voice would fill the hall.
60 seconds, I counted silently. It was customary that I would get a howler at the beginning of the year, due to my, ah, usual antics. But I knew no one suspected I would get one the first day back to classes. Most of them were probably wondering, what has she done this time? Lily and Lo knew well enough. This would be about the train ride, of course.
80 seconds. I smirked slightly; everyone had now stopped to stare at either me or the howler and the first years were looking around wildly, obviously wondering what was going on. Well, they'd learn about my reputation soon enough.
120 seconds. Wow, it lasted a while this time. It had started smoking and was becoming painfully hot. Normally it would have already –
"VIOLETTA ISABELLE MCKINNON!" Exploded. "CAN'T YOU HAVE WAITED AT LEAST A WEEK BEFORE YOU STARTED THIS RUBBISH? YOU WERE GONE THREE HOURS AND I ALREADY GOT AN OWL SAYING YOU'VE STARTED MUGGLE DUELING ON THE TRAIN!" I pointedly looked over at Sirius Black, who was sporting a fat lip, and waved cheerily. "WHAT WOULD YOUR MOTHER THINK?"
The smile slid right off my face like Stink-Sap and I willed my hair to stay its regular shade, including the bright purple highlights. So it was going to be like that, was it?
See, I was a Metamorphmagus; I could change my appearance at will whenever I wanted to. I usually wore my hair in bright colors every day. Sometimes I kept my hair its usual chocolate brown and just added different colored highlights, like today. But when I got angry, which was about ninety percent of the time, my hair would turn bright red and my normally golden eyes would turn flat black. It was quite a scary sight. And right now? I was bloody furious.
I had been very close with my father before the incident, mostly because we'd been so much alike. I couldn't really say the same thing about my mother. My dad was a funny guy, always tinkering around with muggle things and putting them around the house. Dad had always encouraged me to just be myself and never let anyone get in the way of who I wanted to be. My mother, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. Everything had to be in its proper place and I always had to practice good manners. My mother liked to have neatness and order at all times. She could never just accept me; she was always forcing me to wear the pretty dresses she bought me and put my hair its "correct color."
Then one night, Death Eaters had come looking for my father. He'd worked at the ministry as an Unspeakable, so whatever information he knew was pretty important. My mum and I hadn't been home at the time, so they settled for just murdering him.
Stop, I told myself firmly. You can't think about this now. I tried to ignore what Aunt Mina had said, but it was hard not to think about the fight. I can't even remember what it was about; I just knew that I was fed up with my mother always telling me that I wasn't good enough, that I wasn't perfect enough to be her daughter. We were fighting and screaming and – no. I won't go there. Not now. I had to keep my composure. People were watching; time to put on a show.
I suddenly realized that Aunt Mina's voice had finally shut up. Glancing down at the table, I saw that the envelope had smoldered into ashes. Suddenly, there was noise. James Potter had stood up and started clapping, probably hoping to embarrass me on his best mates behalf. But he already knew that Letta Mckinnon doesn't get embarrassed. I heard Lily start to giggle, but she caught herself just in time. Of course, she wouldn't want to be seen laughing at something that Potter had done. She was ridiculous. One of my best friends, but still ridiculous.
The whole Gryffindor table started to applaud now and finally the whole hall broke into laughter, minus the Slytherins.
"Way to go, Letta!" called one boy at the Hufflepuff table.
"That's a new record!" said a second year girl from Ravenclaw.
I stood up grinning and bowed at each of the four tables. My newly altered skirt rose a bit as I twirled around and sauntered out of the Great Hall, my dozens of necklaces, rings and bracelets jingling.
I heard Remus speak to Sirius in a loud voice over the noise of the Great Hall. "You've got to admit...the girl's got style." I just smirked some more, waving at Sirius's sulking face on my way out the door.
"Letta!" Willow and Lily followed me into the entrance hall, both laughing hysterically. "You're going to be in so much trouble with your aunt." Lo wiped her eyes, still giggling.
"I know," I said with a smile. It wasn't like I cared.
"Oi, Evans!" A voice cried from the double doors that led into the Great Hall.
"Oh, Merlin," Lily groaned, covering her face with her hands. "Doesn't that boy ever quit?" James Potter strode up to us with his best mates right behind him. The Marauders, they called themselves. They were the most popular blokes in school; James Potter, who was captain of the Quidditch team and actually quite funny; Peter Pettigrew, who was a tag-along and looked like a rat; Remus Lupin who was the nicest of the lot and really smart; and then the devil himself, Sirius Black. Merlin, I hated that boy.
Sirius and I had hated each other since first year. We'd met on the train and instantly disliked each other. It wasn't the deep rooted hate we both felt now – that hadn't started until third year – but we were definitely not friends. He'd turned my hair into stretchy goo, so it was only fair that I made his hair pink. And put him in a dress. And took pictures. But that's beside the point. We really started getting into fights when my dad died. I became closed off to everyone but Lily and Lo because of what was happening with my mother. Honestly, I became quite a bitch. I was always kind of mean, but this really took the cake. I calmed down a bit over the years, but my reputation as a troublemaking ice bitch got around school.
I met Lily and Lo the same way, minus the fighting and hexes. We were on the train in first year and some sixth years had been bullying Lo. I kicked the three boys who were being obnoxious, since they were so much taller than me and I couldn't punch them in the face. Lo and I looked for a compartment together and that's where we found Lily, the only girl in a compartment full of the Marauders and Severus Snape. When me and Lo walked in, Snape stormed out and left Lily alone, obviously furious with the other boys. Together, Lily, Lo and I stood against the Marauders the entire train ride to Hogwarts and became best friends.
Lily Evans was gorgeous, and I think every girl in the school was jealous of her at one point or another. With shoulder length, dark red hair, emerald green eyes and the perfect body, every boy in the school drooled after her; although, no one drooled more than James Potter. Lily was always the model student; she never broke the rules and did everything the teachers told us to do, not to mention she was bloody brilliant. It was no wonder she became Head Girl. Unfortunately, her stalker was Head Boy. She wasn't happy about spending time alone with James Potter during patrols.
Willow Addams was always the peacemaker. She never spoke bad about anyone and always gave people a fair chance. Not only did she act sweet, but Lo looked like a perfect angel. She had always been very small and petite, barely five foot two. She had long, wavy hair that was a bright golden color. Her eyes were like sapphires and she had beautiful porcelain skin. If it weren't for the fact that she was so nice, everyone would hate her because of her good looks.
I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't met Lily and Lo on my first train ride to Hogwarts. They were my absolute best friends, and pretty much the only family I had left. Our friendship started at the same time my hatred of Black began.
Black thought he was so great, strutting round the castle with his friends as if they owned the place. He was the most popular boy in Hogwarts dating-wise. Almost every girl wanted him, and he wanted every girl. They all thought he was so charming and good-looking. That didn't make him any less of a prat, though.
Him and his friends were the most popular boys in the school. Everyone loved them because they were so smart and talented - even I had to admit, they were damn good at everything, including getting in trouble. James Potter was like Black's brother, even though they weren't technically related. It was rumored that Black ran away from home and was now living at the Potter's. James was always bugging Black about hanging out with us because he wanted to be closer to Lily. She liked him – she just didn't know it yet.
James came hurrying after Lily, the object of his desire since second year, ruffling his hair and making it more untidy than it already was.
"What classes do you have?" he asked excitedly when he reached her. Lily grudgingly held out her schedule, which was identical to Lo's and mine. "Excellent," he grinned, "you have all the same classes as us."
"Us?" I repeated, scrunching up my face in disgust when I looked at Black.
"Don't lie, McKinnon, you're excited to see me everyday," he said. "And I wouldn't make that face if I were you. It makes you look like a hag taking the mickey."
"At least my normal face doesn't look like a rat's arse," I said coolly. "But I'm sure Rachel doesn't mind, the only thing she's interested in is your – "
"That's enough, Letta," sighed Lily. Rachel Bruin was the biggest hoe bag I'd ever met, and unfortunately she lived in our dorm. None of the girls liked her, especially me. The fact that she was Black's "fun buddy" made it even worse.
"Jealous, Mckinnon?" Black grinned. "I knew it. You want me."
"Despite what you may think, Black," I said through gritted teeth, "not every girl wants you. Not respectable girls, anyway."
He laughed. "You think you're respectable? The only respectable thing about you are your friends. Honestly, I don't know how you two put up with this – "
"Shut your mouth, Black," I hissed. "Actually, no. I'll shut it for you. Tongtortus!" I shouted, aiming my wand at Black's mouth. His tongue suddenly swelled until it was three times its normal size. It hung out of his mouth like a huge, slimy worm.
"Waddiwasi!" Black shouted, except it came out sounding muffled and distorted. The spell still worked, but it wasn't as effective. I was supposed to be thrown into the air, but instead I was lifted up a few feet and dropped on my arse.
"Ow!" I screeched, pointing my wand at his, ah, man parts. "Reducio!" That would have been a laugh if Remus hadn't cast a shield charm just in the nick of time.
"Lets not go there, Letta," he said, trying to hide a smile.
"What is going on here?" Damn. Professor McGonagall marched her way over to us, scowling. "Miss Mckinnon, what on earth have you done to Mr. Black?"
"Gave him what he deserved," I said easily. "He hexed me, too."
"Adder oo urd me!" Somehow, the Professor understood what he was saying.
"After you cursed him? I have had enough of this! You two are seventh years now, I will not have you sending each other to the hospital wing all term!" Professor McGonagall pointed her wand at Black and muttered the countercurse for his tongue. "You are supposed to be setting an example for the younger students. Ten points from Gryffindor each. And both of you will receive three Saturday detentions, starting this week. We'll see if you can't sort out your issues by scrubbing the trophy room!" Then she stormed off towards her office.
"Saturday detentions?" I could practically feel my hair turning red. "On the first day?"
"You started it," whined Black like a five year old.
I was about to answer when Lily pulled on my arm hard. "Let's get to class, Letta. You're in enough trouble already."
"When is she not in trouble?" I heard Lo mutter. Then she spoke up, talking mainly to Remus. "We'll see you later, guys."
"Bye, Lo," Remus grinned. Both of them were a bit red in the face when we walked off towards Charms.
"Is something going on there?" I asked, nudging her with my elbow.
"No," said Lo, blushing again. "We're just...friends."
"Friends, huh?" Lily giggled. "Is that all?"
"Shut up." Willow sighed and lead us into the classroom where Professor Flitwick was writing on the board with his wand. We sat at our desks in the middle of the room with these two obnoxious girls in front of us. One of them was Rachel Bruin and of course she was talking about Black.
"Sirius is so hot," she giggled to her best and equally slutty friend, Tara Marshall. Tara had the potential to be pretty if she didn't cake on so much makeup. Rachel, on the other hand, was gross. She always looked like she was asking for it, which she probably was. "He's in love with me, you know," Rachel continued talking. "I can feel it. And I love him, too."
I know I probably shouldn't have gotten involved, but when have I ever kept my opinion to myself? Never. "Black?" I snorted. "You think Black, of all people, loves you? Damn, Rachel, you're even thicker than I thought. That, or completely psycho."
"Who asked you, slag?" sneered Rachel, turning around in her seat to face me. Tara looked a bit frightened. Good; fear is a powerful emotion. "Look at your hair. It's a disgrace to girls everywhere. Besides, you're just jealous that Sirius spends all his time with me."
"Jealous? What a joke," I laughed. "At least I don't go around claiming to love the Devil himself. We all know Black is incapable of loving any of the girls he fools around with. It's programmed in his tiny brain to touch 'em, then toss 'em."
"You're one to talk, Ice Bitch!" Rachel's voice went up an octave.
I stood up, my now red hair falling into my face. "You are the shallowest person I've ever met," I hissed menacingly. "If you actually think Black loves you, then by all means, keep hanging round with him in broom closets. I don't care one bit about you or your feelings. But when he gets tired of you, don't cry in the dormitory like nobody warned you. And trust me, you will cry, because there is absolutely nothing special about you to keep him around, Bruin." I sat back down in a huff, with the whole classroom now staring at me.
"You bi – " Rachel started to say, but I cut her off with a snarl. Yes, a snarl.
"Say another word and I'll hack your pretty nose to bits," I threatened, pulling out my wand.
"Miss McKinnon!" Professor Flitwick squeaked, hurrying over to where I sat. "That is not how we behave in a classroom, and we certainly do not threaten other students with violence! That will be ten points from Gryffindor."
"Letta," scolded Lily after Flitwick had gone back to his desk, "knock it off! It's only the first day back. You have the whole year to annoy Rachel, would you give it a rest?"
"Sorry," I mumbled, changing my hair back to its normal brown with purple streaks. "It's all Black's fault. If he hadn't started with me this morning, I wouldn't be in such a foul mood." I scowled at my friends, who just shook their heads at me. I actually get that a lot.