Chapter 1 : Love's Labours Lost
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“Why don’t we take your things to Lily’s room before we go looking for the rest of the hooligans?” suggested Mr. Potter. Sophia smiled. She liked the Potters, and not just because her mother did. They were nice. Her mother always said that Mr. Potter was a refreshing politician because he always meant what he said and stuck to his morals. And Mrs. Hinds adored Ginny Potter because—and here Sophia was quoting—“She is a ball of steel that can handle any situation.”
Mr. Potter asked what NEWTs she was taking as they walked up the stairs. The conversation was easy, and Mr. Potter was quick with bad dad-jokes, the kind that made Sophie laugh simply because it was funny that he thought they were funny. Lily’s room was at the top of the stairs. One thing that Sophie had always liked about the Potters was that although they were immensely wealthy, they didn’t live in a mansion, just a house big enough for their three children and the occasional guest. Sophie’s family had resided at Hinds’ Manor since the early seventeen hundreds, and although it would always be home to her, there was something lacking about the drafty emptiness of the old mansion that the Potter’s home possessed.
Lily’s room was lavender this year, with enchanted flower patterns that changed magically at random across the wall. Photographs covered the walls--family and friends waved eagerly out of their frames. Mr. Potter set Sophia’s trunk on a spare twin bed, next to a copy of the newest witch weekly open to the page “Train Your Wizard to Charm His Own Socks.”
“You have your own bathroom to share with Lily, Albus, and Scorpius are across the hall, and James’ room is as far away as we could make it,” laughed Mr. Potter. Sophie laughed too. It had been a long time since any coy remarks about her relationship with James Potter had made her blush.
And there were a lot of comments, because Sophia Hinds had been dating James Potter for three years.
“Merlin, Jay, you scared me! Thought you might be my mum!” Sophie laid a hand to her heart, for emphasis. She quickly stashed the book into her beaded purse, a gift from her father that was much bigger on the inside than on the outside.
“Sorry,” James amended, but he wasn’t. He handed her a glass of water, keeping the pumpkin juice for himself. The two had been friends since childhood, so Sophia knew when he was lying. His parents had been wartime heroes. Sophia’s entire family was dedicated to public service and had been in the public eye for generations. Currently, her mother was serving as Minister of Magic. She had worked closely with Harry and the other major players in the last stand against Voldemort, and so it seemed only natural that their children, so close in age, would be close friends. Her older brother, Christopher, was close with Teddy Lupin and her older sister, Madelyn was friends with Victoire Weasley. It was proximity-induced camaraderie.
“What do I think of what?” Sophie asked, finally processing James’ first question. They were looking into the ballroom from the outside of magnificent glass French doors, watching couples glide across the dance floor. It should have been cold, but the elder Hinds had spent the weeks prior to the festivities preparing the temperature for the garden so guests could enjoy a sort of tropical paradise in the middle of a grey, English winter. Sophie’s sister Maddy had created the spell that kept the temperature at the perfect, not-to-hot-not-to-cold setting. Everything was perfect. So when asked what she thought about ‘it,’ Sophie felt she needed more specification.
“The way we live,” Sophie arched an eyebrow, wondering where James was going with this. “The way we are constantly on display,” he explained. Beyond the garden, the pair could just hear the excited clicks and flashes of cameras and the chattering of their owners. The entire compound had long since been spelled against intruders such as the paparazzi, so the photographers couldn’t get in, but they were still camped outside the grounds. They had been for days.
Sophie thought for a moment, and then nodded. She didn’t get as much attention from the media as the Potters, but she still hated what attention she got. But she had been born in the public eye. Her mother had become Minister of Magic soon after her birth, after Kingsley had stepped down. Sophie had been raised to deal with unwanted attention from the media, and when she couldn’t handle it, her mother, her father, and even her two older siblings had stood up for her. She hardly heard the clicks and the flashes anymore, she was so used to it.
“I understand,” James began carefully,” Why they are so fascinated. I can understand that they want to know everything about us that they can. But they obsess. And they make up things and personalities about us that just aren’t true.”
“They can hardly help it,” Sophia ventured slowly. “We can’t know everyone. Its unfortunate, but true.”
James wasn’t looking at Sophia. He had turned towards the gardens and leaned against a marble railing, gazing down at the glass in his hands. For her part, Sophie felt mildly surprised. James was exhibiting a level of emotional depth that she rarely saw, and she thought she knew why. She was flattered that James would want to discuss the topic with her, but she was baffled as well. Although she had little problem with the paparazzi, it wasn’t because she was never in the tabloids or on the front page of the newspaper. It was because she always was.
Hardly a day went by with out she or her brother or sister gracing the pages of the Daily Prophet. The Hinds were taught that the only way to survive was to play the game, give the people the news they want, but only the news you want to give them. So why come to a girl who is used to being under the spotlight in order to complain about the spotlight?
“Soph,” James burst out. “It’s getting out of hand. The wizarding world’s obsession with us.” He meant the Potter-Weasley clan. “Its hurting us, but no matter what we say, we aren’t left alone.”
“Are you going to ask your mum and dad to send you off to another school? Like Katie Wood did, last year?” Asked Sophie. She hoped not. She liked James. Who else would tutor her in charms? Maybe Rosie, but that was beside the point. There is a special bond between the ‘hunted’ celebrities, one that she shared with James and not with her other schoolmates.
“No,” answered James. “No, I…its not about me. I mean to say, I’m not talking about me.”
Sophie nodded, sure now she knew what he was worried about.
“Lily is taking everything really hard. When she came home for Christmas holiday, mum said she didn’t fit into any of her old clothes and she hasn’t been talking. Albus and I thought she might just have been ignoring us, but she hasn’t made many friends and she won’t talk about anything. She hasn’t been the same since she started Hogwarts.”
What James wasn’t mentioning were the numerous cruel articles that had begun to appear regarding Lily. In some ways, it had been easy for James. He was the golden child, first born of Harry Potter, savior of the Wizarding World. Newspapers hadn’t dared write anything bad about the eldest Potter lest the entire wizarding population would rise up against the writer. Albus was so serious that, even if anyone had wanted to write slander about him, no one would have believed it. But Lily…
It had begun with an article comparing her to her mother, Ginny. It was published on the second of September, right after the announcement that Lily had been placed in Gryffindor. In the middle, the writer had spent and unmitigated amount of time comparing the looks of mother and daughter. No one should tell an eleven year old that she is much larger than her mother was in her first year. Even Sophie could tell that Lily wasn’t eating like she should. Or at all.
The Potters had sued, and an apology was printed, but it was all anyone at Hogwarts could talk about.
After that, one snide comment led to another, and Lily-hunting had become a favorite sport of the paparazzi. Someone got a picture of Lily falling off her broom when the first years had their flying lessons—an article reminding the world of Harry Potter’s first flying lesson was published with the picture of her falling next to it, and Lily was so humiliated that she vowed publically never to fly again. In the spring of her first year, she began “dating” some boy, but a tabloid writer produced a piece about how this particular boy didn’t really like Lily, he was dating her because his parents wanted the political influence of Harry Potter behind them. Sophie wasn’t sure if this was true, but Lily broke up with him immediately and had turned down all proposals since. Every trip, bad hair day, and insufficiency was documented and broadcasted. Lily Potter had gotten the short end of the stick.
The Potters were doing everything they could, but the Wizarding world was fixated on Lily. And she was caving under the pressure.
Lily was paranoid. She rarely appeared in public if she didn’t have to—she wasn’t even at the Christmas party that night, even though the Hinds had promised seclusion and privacy. She had very few friends, not because Lily wasn’t a likable person, but because she couldn’t be sure that any friend of hers wouldn’t betray her to the media. The youngest Potter was self-destructing, and the people who loved her didn’t know how to help.
“I hate it,” James spat. Sophie walked to the balcony railing to join James and looked out into the garden. It was easy to feel sorry for Lily—and the rest of the Potters—but the it was hard to do anything about it. Because more than she felt sorry for Lily, she was scared for herself. If Lily wasn’t the focus of the media, they might have time to find a new scapegoat. Like Sophia.
“I hate it,” James said again, but more slowly. “And I want to do something about it.”
“But what? Lily won’t change schools. She thinks it means she’s giving up and doesn’t want to be a disappointment. I was there for that shouting match, remember?” It had been really awkward playing exploding snap in Albus’ room pretending they couldn’t hear the Potter’s screaming match with Lily. They had only been trying to help. “We are fourteen years old—“
“I’m fifteen—“James cried, indignant.
“We are kids!” Sophie insisted. “Your parents, who defeated the most powerful dark wizard of all time by the way, could not stop the paparazzi from bullying Lily. What in the name of Merlin’s beard do you think we could possibly do?”
“We need to be a distraction,” James looked over a Sophie, more serious than she had ever seen him. “If they have something better, maybe they won’t bother Lily so much.”
“What do you mean…” Sophie inquired, warily. She wasn’t sure she liked where James was going with this.
“Soph, I need your help.”
“Just hear me out!” James sounded desperate. “She’s my little sister, Sophie! Do you have any idea how awful it is to watch this happening to someone you feel responsible for? I can’t help her, Soph! And it’s killing me!”
James looked frantic and Sophie felt like crying. There was no way she could say no to him, but she was terrified of saying yes. She didn’t know what James wanted her to do, but she was scared.
“Sophie, will you go out with me?”
And it was the beginning of the biggest mess of Sophie’s life.
Author's Note: I hope you liked this first chapter. It's going to be slightly drama-filled, but I hope that once I get the story going I can add a bit more humor and school pranks etc...Anyway, please review!
Title and summary quote complements of William Shakespeare.