High on a hillside in Dover, England sat a small cottage; cozy in a fenced garden of wildflowers. Smoke rose from the chimney at most hours of the day, and the brown cobblestone walls seemed to glow with warmth. It was the perfect kind of home for a perfect kind of family.
Of course, it was quite the contrary.
Peter Sinclair was a banker. He loved his morning tea and the way the newspaper smelled when he unfolded it. He loved his spectacles (which always sat most precariously upon the bridge of his nose) and the fluffy robe he wore on occasion. He was a simple man and content with being so. He was also quite the chap for Sunday mornings; the one day he could read the paper for hours on end and feel no rush to move at all.
However, as ordinary and average as Peter Sinclair attempted to make his life appear, it was no use. For a man of Peter’s stance did not belong high on a hillside in Dover, England.
Who did belong though? His daughter of sixteen years, who lay absently two stories above him in her small bedroom. It was cramped and cluttered, but had warm walls and bright drapes; photos she had taken covered every inch of the room, plastered to the walls with Spellotape and Binding Charms. She had dedicated her ceiling to pictures of the nighttime at every angle. It was her very favourite thing about her room.
She was a lanky girl with a pair of large, olive eyes and slightly stirred brown hair. Sharp as a whip and with a mind wider than the horizon itself, Anne Sinclair loved everything about where she lived; except perhaps her father, who was disturbed at the very idea of imagination.
Anne was an unusual girl: she loved waking up in the wee hours of the morning to read a good book or simply stare at the moon.
So how were two, such very different people able to coexist?
They hardly did.
In fact, the only thing that kept her father from caving with frustration each day was Hogwarts.
Now, Peter Sinclair was a Muggle. He married a witch called Abigail at a very young age of just eighteen. They then moved to the lovely cottage in Dover, England so she would be able to use magic freely. However, upon giving birth to their one and only child, she died.
That child was Anne.
Cruelly, her father blamed her for the absence of Abigail, and soon became miserably normal to escape the memory of his late wife. The only thing he kept was the flowery cottage of which Abigail had loved.
Anne of course was not normal. She took after her mother in many ways and deeply regretted never meeting her. However, she did not blame herself for Abigail’s death and hated her father very much.
Hogwarts was the only thing that kept them sane: for Anne would only have to endure her father over the summer holidays each year.
It was that, as a matter of fact, that was the reason for both their good moods that morning of September 1st, when Anne would be going back to Hogwarts.
“All right, Luna,” she whispered to her owl, closing her cage, “we’re about to leave, I’ve got to shut you away now.” The owl gave a disappointed hoot. “Hush, else Dad will have a hippogriff.”
She gently lifted the cage onto her trunk and began dragging the great load out of her room. “Good riddance,” she muttered as she shut the door behind her. She was quite glad to be leaving, as usual. Though the house in question suited her well, it was always tainted with the presence of her father.
She clambered down the staircase trying hard to keep her heavy trunk and owl carrier upright.
“We going then?” her father snapped as she finally tumbled down the staircase.
She raised a practiced brow at him. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
He gave her a harsh look. “Don’t use that ungrateful tone with me, Julianne.”
Her face heated substantially. “It won’t happen again,” she said through her teeth. She pushed a stray piece of brown hair from her eyes.
The moment felt thick: Peter Sinclair’s boulder-like stare would’ve broken a stronger man, but Anne did not falter. After a moment of tense silence, he turned on his heel and left the room. Anne’s olive eyes followed him through the house and out the back door. Her clenched fist fell limp as the resounding slam of the door bounced around the cottage. She let her gaze drop to the enormous trunk and owl carrier. Luna stared up at her, wide eyed and tentative.
“You can do this, Anne,” she muttered to herself. “Just a few more hours...”
The deafening blow of a horn caused Anne to jump in her skin. She hoisted the great load upright and pulled it from the house.
* * *
Dover was a beautiful place. The great hills and valleys went on for miles, covered in wildflowers and glittering rivers. Smoke billowed from the cottages that scattered the hillsides and riverbanks, and children played merrily on the bright green fields.
As Anne Sinclair gazed out the window of her father’s car she thought wistfully of what waited for her later that night; an enchanting old castle, a warm bed, a fantastic feast, and so many books. Her breath fogged the glass as she leaned her forehead against it, eyes closed, lips turned up, and mind very far from Dover, England and Peter Sinclair.
What seemed like only moments later, Anne was woken by a sharp prodding from her father. “We’re here,” he said once her eyes had snapped open. “Your trunk’s in the back.”
Her gaze on Peter did not linger; she threw open the car door, climbed out, and slammed it behind her. After wrestling her trunk and owl carrier from the backseat, she narrowed her eyes and watched as her father’s car sped away. She was alone. It was no surprise to her. Ever since the death of her mother her father had wanted nothing to do with magic. Or even Anne.
She grinned as she fought through the crowd of bustling Muggles, the thought of her father already washed away from her mind. She slid through the barrier and onto Platform 9 and 3/4, letting a whoosh of breath out as her eyes fell on the magic folk she had longed to see all summer. It took but a moment for her vision to be obscured by the familiar embrace of a chestnut-haired boy. “Anne!” he called, breaking away from her and grinning with his amber eyes.
She said, “Good to see ya, Rueben,” and fluffed his hair. “Where’s your mum?” She casted around for Lydia Bailey, a wildly free and independent witch who loved Anne dearly.
“Aruba!” he announced happily. “Mum, Dad, and Darcie went. Too bad it cut into my departure...” He frowned. “I had to come with the Butlers....” He gave a shifty look at a very strict looking family by the scarlet engine.
Anne raised a brow at the glaring, mousy haired woman who was watching them with one sharp eye. “She looks a real charm,” she mumbled under her breath, giving a slight grimace.
Rueben laughed and threw a long arm around Anne’s shoulders. “Nice letter, by the way,” he scoffed, feigning mock annoyance.
“Oh please, you know I’m a mess with staying in touch,” she retorted.
As they dragged their things to the train, she noticed three giggling girls watching them and whispering excitedly behind their hands. She threw them a disdainful look and dislodged Rueben's arm from her shoulders. “Hey, careful,” she whispered, her back turned to the girls, “I don’t want to start any rumours...”
He looked at her with a knitted brow but did not respond.
Anne always tried to ignore obvious things. Such as bad marks (which were very, very rare), untidy hair (a common occurrence for a girl of her repertoire), and most commonly, the fact that her best friend, Rueben Bailey, had been in love with her for three years.
As was said before, Anne Sinclair was, by all means, a very unusual girl.
They climbed onto the train and casted around for an empty compartment. The corridor was very full, and the first thing Anne did when she got on the train was tumble right into Chester Longbottom, a third year boy with large teeth and mousy hair. They made their way around the frantically apologizing Chester towards compartment eleven.
Anne tossed her things on the rack above and then proceeded to help a struggling Rueben as well. Once they were settled, Anne threw her legs up on the seat opposite her and pulled a roll of parchment from her bag. Ignoring Rueben’s inquiring looks, with a smile, she began to write.
“Are you…writing?” he asked looking more than a little bit surprised.
“Yes,” she replied.
“I didn’t know you liked to write,” he stated, trying to read over her shoulder.
“I don’t,” she said, shielding the words with her forearm. “I’m sort of rubbish at it.” She crinkled her brow. “But I was reading this book the other day and I thought, well, if this person can write, why can’t I?”
“What was the book?”
She pulled a ruffled copy of the novel out of her bag and held it up. “It’s written entirely in letters, see?” she said, flipping briefly through the pages. “A whole book written through letters…. It moved me so much, yet it seems so easy. I wanted to try.”
Rueben looked puzzled as he attempted to read a passage from the book. “Thou art … dearest Jeremiah … thou hast … lifted thyself …. Seems like a drag to me,” he finished, tossing the book into her lap.
“It isn’t a drag,” she retorted, laughing and tucking the novel away. “It’s poetic.”
“So you want to practice writing through letters, then?” he asked, once again attempting to peek at the words Anne had written.
She shielded them again. “That’s right.”
“Well then, who are you writing to?” he asked quizzically.
She knitted her brow. “I don’t know, actually,” she answered after a moment or so.
“Well it’s a letter, isn’t it?”
“So you have to be writing to someone.”
She pondered this for a moment. “Fine then. I’m writing to anonymous, from anonymous.”
He shook his head. “You’re mad.”
The next hours flew by for the two friends; particularly for Rueben, who found no boredom in watching Anne write her letters to no one. And by the time the sun fell, so had Anne, falling asleep, head leaned against the window.
Rueben Bailey did not sleep though. Instead, he spent his time staring into the darkness and thinking. He loved Anne, it was true. But did he want to express that to her? That was the problem. Anne was impossible to read and Rueben knew that all too well. How could he ever know for sure if she felt the same way about him?
Anne loved her books, the way the ground smelled after it rained, colors that clashed, and corn bread muffins. But these things weren’t a person. Anne had never even fancied a boy before. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to; it was more that for such a free person, she had surprisingly high standards.
She wanted someone who would hold her hand not all the time, but at just the right moment, someone who would make her impossibly angry, yet impossibly happy, someone who would take her to strange places with strange people, someone who would paint her beautiful pictures of the night, and most of all, someone who would be there, no matter what.
And Anne had never for a second thought of Rueben as more than just a friend.
But Rueben most certainly had thought of her that way.
It started for him on a rainy night in the Ravenclaw common room where the two, as third years, were having a long lasting discussion. It was way past midnight, and everyone else had gone to their dorms.
“And then she leaned in and kissed him,” Anne was saying quietly, hugging her book to her chest.
For hours she had been describing one of her favourite books to an unusually attentive Rueben.
“They kissed?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
He looked away for the first time all night.
“What’s wrong?” she said, her olive eyes flashing.
“Well, they were our age, right?” he asked slowly.
“We still haven’t kissed anyone,” he stated.
“Oh,” Anne said uncomfortably. She hadn’t thought of that. “So?”
“So,” he continued, getting up and walking over to the window. The rain pounded down from the black sky. “Every other third year has. Don’t you feel sort of…pressured?”
She rested her chin on her knees, watching her favourite book with sullen eyes. “Well, yeah, I guess,” she said quietly, “but I don’t really mind.”
She hesitated. “I don’t want to be disappointed,” she shrugged. “Why snog someone if you don’t know them. And I mean truly know them. How do you know they won’t hurt you? How do you know it doesn’t mean anything to them?”
“I guess you don’t,” he sighed. “But…but I still want to know what it’s like. At least just to get it over with.”
“Rose told me about it,” she said quietly. “It would be kind of nice to get it out of the way. I mean, I suppose a first kiss doesn’t mean much. It’s who it’s with that matters.”
“Well,” he said, looking at her oddly. “Why don’t we do it?”
Anne’s eyes popped. “Us?”
“Yeah,” he said, pacing around the room. “You’re my best friend, Anne. Neither of us feel that way about each other, so why not? Why not get it over with?”
“I don’t know Rueben… what if it changes things? What if one of us starts to… you know… like the other.”
“Oh come on, Anne! That would never happen, that’s what’s so great about us: we’re best friends. We can do this and nothing will change. Besides, don’t you want to know what it’s like? Don’t you want to get the first time over with?”
She looked down at her book for a moment. “I … okay, I do want to. But no telling anyone, okay? This is strictly for us. Strictly for our own research.”
“Right,” he said.
“Right,” she agreed. She stood up. “So – er – how do you want to do this?”
“Um,” Rueben said uncomfortably, looking around. His heart paced a little faster. “Here.” He took her hand and pulled her down onto the couch next him.
He didn’t know how to do this. He racked his brain for any images of kissing couples. Carefully, he placed his hand on Anne’s cheek.
“None of that,” she whispered, pulling his hand away. “Just kiss me.”
And so, with skipping hearts, Rueben Bailey and Anne Sinclair leaned in for a nothing-but-exploratory kiss.
Their lips touched and their eyes closed. And of course, the change was immediate. The first kiss melted fluently into more. It was fire. Their mouths opened and closed silently. Their minds went blank and all they felt was a burning. Their mouths stayed together until the need to breath was more than necessary.
As they pulled apart, their eyes locked.
“Wow,” Anne breathed.
Rueben stayed silent, his heart pounding. He couldn’t speak. Had she felt the same way? A shiver ran up his spine. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“You were right,” she said. “I’m so glad we did that.”
His eyes widened. Did she feel it too? This newfound flame that sparked inside him the moment their lips touched?
“I don’t feel a thing,” she said finally.
His heart shuddered.
“I mean, I feel amazing. That was amazing. I’m so glad it was with you.” And she smiled at him as a best friend does. “I’m really tired,” she said, glancing at her watch. “I’m going to go to bed.” And she leaned in and kissed him once more. “Wow,” she said. “Well, good night.”
Rueben Bailey did not move as Anne gathered her books and left the common room. He swallowed uneasily. This was a problem.
He had fallen in love with his best friend.
Anne stretched and yawned as the train pulled to a halt at Hogsmeade Station.
“I got your stuff,” Rueben said, holding out her trunk and owl carrier.
“God, how long have I been asleep?” she asked, taking them from him.
“Like six hours,” he laughed.
“I believe you,” she said, looking at her messy reflection in the window.
“Hey, you two,” Ruth Sloper greeted them as they came out of the train. She was another sixth year Ravenclaw whom Anne had despised up until last year, when they became unlikely friends at the library one night. Lou has saved us a carriage.”
They followed the raven haired friend of theirs into the carriage. Lou Weasley kissed his girlfriend as she climbed in followed by Rueben and Anne. The boys greeted cheerfully, as they were longtime friends. Anne watched out the carriage window as they made their way up the dirt path to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ruth chattered dismally about the weather, somehow even connecting it to a study she read on the effects of small pox on werewolves.
Ruth Sloper was perhaps the most giftedly intelligent witch ever sorted into Ravenclaw house. However, she was an idiot savant, meaning she was intelligent in books but idiotic in life. She loved to paint her nails and take romantic walks with her boyfriend, Lou, but could also explain things as complicated as a werewolf transformation like it was a recipe for cookies.
Neither Anne nor Ruth had to work very hard to get high marks, unlike the boys who worked endlessly for average ones. They liked to say that they were put in Ravenclaw for their “obvious” street smarts.
As Quidditch Captain, Lou had a lot on his plate. He had asked Ruth out at the beginning of fourth year and they had been dating ever since. But with Qudditch constantly looming, he was nearly always stressed.
Once the carriages pulled to a stop outside of the school, the four friends exited and trudged over to the castle. When Anne entered the enormous school, she accidentally bumped into a red haired girl.
“Watch it,” the girl said rather snappishly. But when she saw who had bumped her, her expression changed. “Oh, sorry,” she said, “I’m a bit tired…. You’re Rosie’s friend, aren’t you?”
Anne looked uncomfortably at the girl. She did not recognize her by any means. “Erm, yes,” she said, examining the ginger girl further. She did look sort of familiar…
“Well, I’ll see you around,” she said, and she grabbed her friends arm and walked off.
Once she had taken a seat with Rueben at the Ravenclaw table, Anne opened her book.
Rueben was quick to grab it from her. “The Sorting’s about to begin, and after that is the Feast, in which you will tell me about your summer. No time for reading, sorry.”
She scowled at him.
Anne ran her fingers across her bed sheets. “Perfect,” she muttered, smoothing them across the middle just once more. She eyed the flawlessly made bed carefully.
“Not this again,” Ruth sighed from behind her book on magical hair potions.
Anne ignored her. “Ready,” she breathed, “one, two,” she paused.
“Good God,” Ruth groaned.
“THREE!” And Anne pounced into the air, twirled, and landed square on the bed, pillows flying up in every direction. She lay there, smiling and staring up at the ceiling.
“And what was the reason for this again?” Ruth asked, tilting her reading glasses down her nose.
“To kill conformity,” Anne sighed. “I’m free from it all – my dad, mostly – for another school year.”
“What in the name of Merlin!” called out the third of the Ravenclaw sixth year girls, Dezzy Wimble. Her brown eyes flashed as she jumped from her bed in shock. “Ugh, Ruth, I thought we established this last year!” She tossed a pile of lotions and perfumes from underneath her bed at Ruth.
“Ouch! Ow!” Ruth squealed, shielding herself.
“No more storing these under my bed! You know I’m allergic!” She scratched irritably at a red patch on her neck, just under her blonde hair.
“She has a point, Ruth,” Anne shrugged, crawling under her covers. “You’ve used up every spot of available space in this dorm for all your potions.”
Ruth sniffed. “It’s just…they hook you with a coupon and you can’t stop!” she wailed, hugging at her potions.
“Just don’t keep them near me,” Dezzy muttered, scratching once again at the patch on her neck.
Anne laughed into her pillow, pulling out her book of letters. She studied the words on the page, wondering vaguely about the author’s life. Before she knew it, her first night back at Hogwarts had dissolved, and she was asleep.
That night she dreamt of something very strange. She dreamt a colourless dream, where she sat at a desk and stared at the back of a boy’s head for what seemed like forever. She was writing him a letter, and even though he was anonymous, she felt she knew everything about him.
When her eyes opened the next morning, she did not remember the dream. Instead, she felt unsettled. Like what she had dreamt the night before was something very, very important.
But after a while, the feeling washed away.
And the day went on.
Author's Note: Well, hello! My name is Ash. I am currently writing Just Ordinary, a story that is pretty much the polar opposite of this. I love this story because I feel like it has a lot to offer; romance, mystery, friendship, and some humour, too. This character -- Anne -- has a special place in my heart. She is a free spirit, and I find that she'll be a fun character to read and write about.
This story will take place over three years. It's third person omnicient, so you might hear from some other characters as well. Mostly Anne though. But others might include Rueben, Lily Potter II, Ruth, and others.
I genuinly hope hope you love and enjoy this story as much as I do.