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Chapter 1 : Looks A Lot Like A Tragedy
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Grace 'Gracie' Cunningham
There is only one problem with being a seventh year; the lines blur between who you are and who you used to be. The only problem with that is that people think they know you, they think that what you did in third year would still be the same thing you did now and judge you on it.
We’re all judged and as open minded as we all think ourselves to be, we still judge each other. Sure, it’s a problem, but at seventeen, we don’t care about other people or what they really feel. We care about our futures, where we will be next year, not who the heck is dating who and what the heck they’re doing. We don’t have time to find out the truth, but chose to believe the easier and, sometimes, harsher things that we hear.
It makes life a little bit more interesting, you know.
Take me for example; people think I’m sweet, kind, innocent, virgin.
They would’ve been right… if I was still a fourth year.
Now, I’ve got the moody-brooding thing down cold and I’ve been called difficult once in a while, but I swear I’m good-hearted.
“Oi, Gracie, you zoned out,” someone poked me in the ribs, hard. Ouch.
I scowled at the boy on my left, “What the hell was that for, Donnelly?”
He looked a little shocked at my foul mood, but he shrugged it off and continued to eat.
Andrew Donnelly was one of my best friends, one of my two favorite males in my life. His girlfriend, Millie, was probably one of my only true females friends and allies in the house of the lion.
“That was rude,” a second voice came, this time from my right. Steven Gallagher, Stevie for short, was the second of my favorite males, my favorite person in my life at the moment. Only because Andrew had the audacity to poke me at breakfast – has no one ever told him not to piss off a sleeping dragon.
Well, that’s not exactly what I’d describe myself as, but when morning was the enemy, it was a pretty good comparison, in a metaphoric sense.
I stuck my tongue out at the blond, gingerly muttering an apology to Andrew.
“When was the last time you sat at the Gryffindor table?” Andrew asked, jokingly, which meant that he’d accepted my apology. He wasn’t the type to take jabs at you if he was mad, but cold-shouldered you. It might sound not so bad but it was brutal and tugged at your heartstrings a little too hard if it lasted for more than a day.
“Uh, I’m guessing last year,” I remarked, smirking at him.
I wasn’t a fan of the Gryffindor table.
I’m sure you’ve heard the clichés, the perfect four girls that rival the Marauders. Yeah, well, that’s basically how it goes down sometimes. There were the four boys, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, James Potter and Peter Pettigrew and the four girls, Millie Blackburn, Eloise Cross, Lily Evans and Violet McKinnon. Millie Blackburn, however, jumps between the Hufflepuffs (and me) and the Gryffindors because she’s dating Andrew.
Then there was me. The fifth Gryffindor girl… who was the odd one out.
I’m not odd, though, just the odd one out.
Gryffindor wasn’t really where I thought I belonged but hey, the sorting hat is supposed to ‘know’. I wasn’t a fan of Gryffindor.
Eloise Cross, Ellie for short, was the worst of the lot. To be frank, I wasn’t a fan of her.
There was a lot about Gryffindor I didn’t like. Everybody in there thinks that they’re holier than the world because they are supposed to be “brave, chivalrous and daring” but I found half of them rude, conceited and plain arrogant.
Like Eloise Cross. She was the embodiment of what I hated about Gryffindor.
Let me guess this straight, before I start to confuse; I don’t have a problem with Gryffindor itself, in fact I like one or two people there, it’s just the other people I can’t stand.
“Don’t worry, love, Hufflepuff is better,” Andrew smiled at me. “We don’t really blame you.”
“Wanna know what would make it even better?”
“If you had me full-time,” I grinned at him, cheekily.
“I don’t think I could put up with you anymore than I have to,” he grinned.
“Arse,” I growled, before turning my back to him and launching into a conversation with Stevie. Andrew just laughed, resorting to poking me until he got my attention.
“I’m sure that’s not very comfortable for Gracie, Andrew,” a soft, windy voice chimed in. I turned, seeing the little Asian girl who I considered to be my favorite Gryffindor of all time.
“Millie!” I beamed, scooching over to make room for the Asian girl.
Yeah, even though her name was Millie Blackburn, she was a petite Asian from Taiwan. Her muggle parents adopted her when she was like six months old, unaware of the fact that she was actually a witch.
It must’ve been a shock, I’m sure.
It was kind of funny when people called her a “mudblood” because she would just smile a little smile which plastered the words “I know something you don’t know” all over her face.
It left people a little confused, to say the least.
Millie had absolutely no idea if her parents were magical or not so she didn’t really let “mudblood” insults get to her.
“Hello Grace,” she smiled, “I’m sorry that Andrew has been poking you for the last,” she looked at her watch, quickly, “seven and a half minutes.”
Andrew just stuck his tongue out at her, causing her to let out a girly giggle.
They were amazing together; it would be tragic if they ever broke up though I don’t really see Andrew being the marriage sort.
“Wanna head off to class, Grace?” Stevie asked me kindly.
I nodded, grabbing one last piece of buttered toast before heading out of the Great Hall, bag over my shoulder.
It wasn’t until we were half way up to charms that I noticed that Stevie was unceremoniously quiet. “What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned.
“Uh, nothing,” he replied.
“It’s a shame that you’re such a terrible liar,” I grinned, “Seriously, tell me.”
I might have been a bitch sometimes, I admit it, but I wasn’t always mean. I was kind to those I did not know, which I guess is where I got the whole ‘innocent’ reputation from, but I had a little more bite around my friends.
“I, uh, I feel really weird talking to you about this,” he mumbled, softly.
“Why? You’ve been acting a little weird since like the middle of August. Come to think of it, right after that party,” I mused. It was September third today, the first school day of the year and everyone looked a little more groggy than normal.
“Yeah, well,” he mumbled.
I could tell that he was being awkward. “Stevie, please don’t tell me you think of me differently after… you know,” I murmured, looking around.
A small blush crept onto his pale face, telling me that he did, in fact, feel awkward about what had happened.
Stevie Gallagher was the nice guy, good-looking too, but he never seemed to be able to get past the one month stage in a relationship. The girls he went after were always the good-for-nothing evil bitches who played him, normally leaving him a little more hurt that I liked to see. He had a type; one that needed to be changed.
“Come on, we had fun, didn’t we?” I smiled.
He nodded, shooting me a funny look from under his lashes.
I felt my neck getting hot, my mind filling with insecure thoughts. “Was I really that bad?”
“What?” he inhaled sharply, “Oh God no, that’s not it.”
Stevie was seventeen on August 11th. When turned fifteen and figured out what sex actually was, he decided that he wanted to pop his cherry before he turned seventeen. He never did, so at his birthday party, about a week later, I kind of helped him out. In a totally non-slutty way. He wasn’t my first, and it wasn’t a pity thing either.
I don’t know; at the time, it felt right. We were drinking, we started flirting, it just happened.
I’d like to say it wasn’t a big deal and that I did it all the time but I didn’t. It wasn’t a big deal but I didn’t go around having sex with people just because.
It just… happened.
There is no way to say it nicely or to try to act like it didn’t happen.
I would always be the girl that Stevie lost his virginity to.
You remember your first, maybe you remember the heartbreak that occurred when you broke up, or how it really wasn’t that special and you wish you hadn’t done what you’d done, but you always remembered.
The first boy I had sex with was unimportant and I regretted it wholeheartedly. I thought I was in love with him; turns out he wasn’t in love with me.
Shit happens, you know.
It might’ve stung a little less if he hadn’t been my brother’s best friend, who I’d had a crush on since I was like 10. It might’ve stung a little less if he hadn’t left me for a bustier, prettier, successful Ministry representative.
Some people thought it was messed up that I was dating someone five years my senior when I was sixteen, but it just worked. Until it didn’t.
“So I wasn’t really bad?” I asked, confused. “Then what is it?”
“Well, I liked it,” he murmured.
“I’m ninety-five percent sure that’s why most people have sex, Stevie. They have sex because they like it,” I laughed, nonchalant.
“I know but I feel guilty. Like I took advantage of you.”
“Stevie, it takes two to tango. I’ll let you in on a little secret; I liked it too.”
This seemed to make him a little happier, a little grin forming on his lips. “Yeah?”
“Yes,” I smiled, reassuring him. “Now come on, we’re going to be late,” I grinned, linking my arm through his and quickening my pace.
See what I mean when I say that Stevie is nice? He is like the optimum of what a Hufflepuff should be. Loyal, kind, sweet, nice, blah, blah. That boy needs a backbone, I swear.
There was only one person I’d ever seen him stand up to.
Of all the people you want to stand up to in the world, I personally don’t recommend Sirius Black. However, Sirius had stolen Stevie’s last girlfriend, given him a ton of shit, pissed him off about every little thing that he could. One of those things was me. Sirius hated me. It wasn’t a well-kept secret, let’s just put it that way, and Stevie hated when Sirius would rip on me. I could handle my own but Stevie had the chivalry down to a tee.
I sometimes felt like I’d added fire to the flame when it came to their little disagreements but Sirius Black was one of the many things that pissed me off about Gryffindor.
That and he’d stolen my best friend from me. Hippogriff dung, that Sirius Black.
“Welcome to NEWT year, seventh years. For the select few that have chosen to take Charms, I would like to warn you that this is going to be an insanely hard year. It is your last here at Hogwarts, before you enter into the workforce. It may even be one of the hardest years of your life, especially if you are trying to juggle prefect duties, Quidditch duties, boyfriends, girlfriends, among other things,” Professor Flitwick, the squeaky little Charms teacher, was not holding back on his speech, “Now, I am not trying to scare you but there are some things in this course that are going to be difficult, extremely difficult. Final year means some intense magic; you may not get it the first, second, third, fourth, twenty-fifth time that you try. It will take practice, determination and hard work. Now, I suggest that if you are not up to that, you speak to your Head of House after class to potentially modify your schedule. Without further ado, our first lesson is going to be a continuation of one from last year. The Patronus charm. Whilst many of you were able to only conjure vapors, it is now time for you to master a corporeal Patronus.”
The class dragged on, an hour of students trying to cast a fully-formed Patronus got boring seriously fast.
The Patronus charm was advanced magic; it was a pain in the butt to be frank. I had managed to conjure one in the early weeks of the summer. I turned seventeen in March but hadn’t gone home for Easter so summer had been the first time I’d been able to use magic at home. For some reason, it was taking a little more effort today that I had expected.
I had guilted my eldest brother, Shane, into teaching me how to. It took about three hundred and eighty tries, about fifteen different variations of memories, to finally be able to cast a full Patronus charm.
“Well done, Miss Cunningham, ten points to Gryffindor,” Flitwick announced as I finally managed to conjure my Patronus. Although it took most of the class, I was one of the first to do so, other than Sirius, James and Remus. I don’t know how those three were so good at magic – alright, I knew why Remus was… we studied together frequently. He was one of the smartest wizards I had ever encountered, but James and Sirius? I’d never even seen them open a textbook.
“Your Patronus is a lot different than that of Mr. Potter, Mr. Black and Mr. Lupin. I rarely see a Patronus in the form of a magical creature. Mr. Potter’s takes the form of a stag, Mr. Black’s of a dog and Mr. Lupin’s of a badger. Your hippogriff Patronus is rare, indeed. Our headmaster, Professor Dumbledore’s, Patronus takes the form of a magical creature, also, but you two are the only people I know whose form takes that of a magical animal. Well done, and very intriguing.”
I smiled a little, unsure of what the whole point to that speech was. I didn’t, honestly, care what my Patronus meant, just that I wouldn’t have my soul eaten by a Dementor if I ever encountered one.
I didn’t perform a Patronus for the art form of it, just for the need of it.
“Well done, Grace,” Remus smiled, coming over to sit next to me.
“Thank you,” I smiled, “You too.”
Remus was a friend. Sometimes I wished that we were closer but the man had walls built up around him so strong and tall, that it was impossible to break them down. Of course, I knew why, but I didn’t take it personally.
If Remus wanted to tell me he was a werewolf, he could.
Most people didn’t notice how Remus would be gone the afternoon of a full moon and the following day, but Remus was one of the few people in the school that I could say I studied with on a regular basis. It became obvious during exam time when he would miss a study session, and after a while, it kind of pieced together. It also helped that Lily Evans, a second study partner of mine, also knew but tried her hardest to cover it. It was sort of terrible, how bad she was at hiding things.
There was one thing she played very close to heart, though – her family. No one bothered to ask anything about her family as it was rare to get a straight answer, if you got one at all.
“Have you even been in the Common Room, yet?” he teaser, knowing of my adversity toward the Gryffindor Common Room.
“Briefly,” I smiled, “Last night before I headed to the dormitory, I passed through.”
“It’s not that bad, you know. Some people are actually quite nice when you get to know them.”
“I don’t doubt it – I love my boys, though, and as much as I regret not befriending certain people, I doubt I will ever get along with some Gryffindors.”
“Sirius and Eloise are not bad people,” he smiled.
“I know, I know, but even you, the most considerate and patient person I know, aren’t fond of Cross,” I reminded.
He smiled, “I miss having you around, is all.”
“What do you mean?” I grinned, “As soon as we get homework, I expect you back in my life, Lupin. You aren’t getting rid of me that easy.”
“I’ll try and pretend that I don’t feel used,” he teased.
“Remus, I doubt I could make it through a year without you. Don’t let it go to your head, but you may be one of the only people that I can tolerate enough to study with for more than ten minutes.”
“Oh, I am pleased you can tolerate me,” he teased.
“That came out wrong,” I frowned, “I enjoy your company. Really, I do.”
“Well, I’m glad,” he smiled.
“Well, alright, there is only about five minutes left of class,” Flitwick called. “I would like an essay, please, about a foot, on why the Patronus charm is a necessary skill to learn and why we focus on it so much in the NEWT year. The next two weeks be dedicated to the conjuring of the charm, and it is likely that the examiners will ask you to do so on your final exams.”
“Alright,” Remus smiled, getting up from his chair, “Seeing as we have homework now, would you like to join me tonight in the library around seven?”
“Yeah, sure, Remus,” I smiled.
“Hello Grace,” another boy smiled, James Potter.
“Hello James,” I smiled back at him, noticing that he’d brought the whole clan. Sirius Black was to his left, Peter on his right.
“Hey Grace,” the former squeaked, as a flashed a grin at him.
“Cunningham,” Black nodded.
I felt Stevie’s presence before I heard him.
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist, Gallagher,” Black commented, “We’re leaving.”
The bell rang, shrilly, just as Black had spoken.
“Bye Grace, I’ll see you later,” Remus smiled, leading his friends from the room, sending a warning glance at Black.
“I hate that kid,” Stevie groaned, before throwing his stuff in his bag.
I just laughed, poking him, “Lighten up. You don’t have the share a common space with the man.”
“I pity you.”
“I know, my life is really dismal sometimes,” I commented, leaving the classroom. I had History of Magic next, with Millie. She wanted to be a historian, whilst I was leaving my options open. I didn’t do Quidditch or prefect duties so it wasn’t really a problem when I took on a heavy course load. I worked hard. I had Potions, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Herbology with everybody (Andrew, Stevie, Millie, Lily, Remus, etc), Charms with Stevie and three of the Maruaders, History of Magic with Millie and lastly, Arithmacy with Lily Evans and Violet McKinnon. Normally most people only took four or five NEWTs, not the seven that I’d decided to take. Oh well.
“I still hate him.”
“Love you too,” I grinned, departing for my next class while he went the common room for a spare.
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