Chapter 1 : The Great Escape
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Being normal is part of being human. I mean, all human are built the same right? Well, except for loonies. We’re a single species, which brings me to the conclusion that, at the end of the day, we all think alike, act alike, are alike. So why people have the urge to go dye their hair an obnoxious color or replace their skin with plastic is beyond me. I mean, look at frogs; they’re perfectly happy in all their frog-y-ness. They don’t try to laser remove their warts.
“This dress makes my butt look fat,” my mum said. I glanced up from my bed at my mum. She was examining her reflection in my floor length mirror, her face scrunched up in distaste. I wasn’t really going to argue. After all the butt enhancement pills she’d popped I’d be surprised if her butt looked any different.
“Katie?” she said, looking at me pointedly through the mirror.
“Mum, you look great,” I said dutifully, returning to my magazine. I was reading an article about goblin rights. Turns out the goblins want their already hefty ‘backward classes’ privileges to be supplemented further. Basically, they’re trying to wriggle their way out of paying taxes again. What is really astonishing to me is that the goblins are always insisting that they want to be treated like the rest of the wizarding community, while, at the same time, they insist on special civil liberties.
“Katie, you’ll wrinkle your dress!” my mum said. The next moment I was being hauled off my bed and my mum was smoothing down the silky skirt of my olive dress. Stacy, my stylist, said it ‘brought out my eyes’. I got my dad’s eyes. There’s really nothing special about them, but today, probably because of the dress, they looked sort of shiny.
“Oh, where’s my wand? I’ll never get these wrinkles out!” my mum complained, scavenging through her purse. Before all the face lifts and the chemical peels my mum was once, in her heyday, the face of the global Gladrags clothing campaign. However, today, about twenty years later, nature had run its course. Or it would have if she hadn’t had so many Botox injections. Instead of keeping her young, all the treatments had made her look like something akin to a fish. Of course, I’d never tell her that.
“There!” my mum said, satisfied. She stood back and observed me.
There was a knock on the door. We both turned to see my dad leaning against the door frame, grinning at us.
“You both look beautiful,” my dad said, winking discretely at my mother.
“Oh, Richard,” she said, waving him away, but I knew better. When I turned to look at her, there was a soft blush on her cheeks and small smile on her lips. It’s at times like this I know that, under all the cosmetic surgery, my mum still exists.
“You two had better hurry up or we’ll be late,” Dad said. I would have snorted in disbelief if my mum wasn’t in the room.
“Dad, the party’s for you. It’ll only start when we get there,” I informed him. My dad just shrugged. To me my dad is just Dad, to the rest of the magical world he’s Richard Haverford, British Minister for Magic. It was slightly unnerving to think of it when Dad first got elected to office just over a year ago. Now I like to tell myself that I’m okay with it. I’ve always had an aversion to large crowds in general. I wasn’t socially retarded or anything, I just didn’t really know what to say or do with myself. I was definitely getting better though. When your life’s motto is, ‘another night, another completely, unnecessarily over-the-top party’ you tend to get used to large gatherings of people. Mostly people who just want to get their picture in The Daily Prophet, but still, people nonetheless.
My mum, of course, was thrilled. From when my dad got nominated, we’d been swarmed by paparazzi. It was her dream come true. That’s really when all the unnecessary ‘beauty’ treatments had started. But when I saw my dad lightly squeeze my mum’s hand as she walked by I knew nothing had really changed; not inside out household, anyway. Dad was the same, sweet softie that he always had been and mum was… well, slightly neurotic. But she was still my mum when it mattered.
“Don’t slouch, Katie!” she said severely, tapping my lower back. Oh well, I guess now it didn’t matter. She walked ahead of Dad and me, making her way down the stairs. Dad looked at me and smiled.
“You look great, Katie,” he said, hugging me lightly. “And, if it holds any good, I think your posture’s fine.”
I laughed. This was typical Dad, always trying to smooth over every bump Mum created.
“Thanks, Dad. Couldn’t say the same for you. Don’t slouch!” I imitated Mum, tapping his back. He chuckled at me and kissed my head. Dad and I had always been close. Needless to say he was my favorite parent. I know I shouldn’t pick favorites, but what do you do? You’d choose him over Mum too if you ever had to live with them.
Dad and I walked down the stairs together and joined Mum at the foyer. She was standing in front of a silver-framed mirror, tapping her foot impatiently.
“Nicole!” she hollered at no one in particular as we approached.
“Jeez, I’m coming, Mum! Don’t have a cow!”
Into the room sauntered my older sister, Nicole. Nikki was my mum, circa early 2000s. While I got my dad’s olive eyes, she got Mum’s piercing, clear aqua blue once. She also got Mum’s supermodel height and she flaunted it. Today, she was dressed in a pretty purple sheath and sky-high heels. The only thing Nikki and I had in common, looks wise, was the blonde hair.
She let out a low whistle when she caught sight of me. Taking my shoulder and holding me at arms’ length, she scrutinized me from head to toe.
“Well, hello gorgeous,” she said, grinning at me. Nikki was probably my best friend in the world. Since I wasn’t very good with new people, she’d sort of taken me under her wing when I’d first started attending Hogwarts. Not that I didn’t have friends of my own, because I did. I just preferred to spend time with Nikki. Being Nikki, she was almost always surrounded by hoards of people, but she’d always found time for me. She’d graduated from Hogwarts last year and was now training to be a Healer. Returning to Hogwarts without her this year was going to be a challenge in itself.
“I thought I told you to wear the silver dress,” Mum said irritably.
“You did, Mum,” Nikki said calmly. Mum stared at Nikki. She could’ve been glaring, but it’s really hard to tell with all the surgery.
“C’mon,” my dad said quickly, trying to stop an oncoming brawl in its tracks. I looked down at the silver-framed mirror. It had begun to glow. As one, we all reached out and touched some part of it. Almost as soon as I grabbed onto the smooth, cold edges, I felt a tugging in my navel. I was used to this by now. Portkey-ing wasn’t conventionally fun; I wouldn’t exactly do it recreationally, but I would choose a portkey over flooing any day.
As quickly as the carpeted ground of our living room had disappeared from under my feet, a floor, of a noticeably different texture, appeared in its place. I grabbed Dad’s hand to steady myself just as Nikki grabbed my shoulder.
“I will never get used to this,” she muttered, trying to blink the dizziness away.
Oh great. That was Mr. Bertrand Tucchi, aptly nicknamed ‘Douchy’. He was, well, a complete douche. He was like my dad’s secretary’s, secretary’s secretary or something. He was an annoying wheezy man who thought he was the shit.
“Mrs. Haverford, Nicole, Katherine! So nice to see you again!” he wheezed, practically drooling at the sight of Nikki. She was staring at him with a priceless look on her face. He grinned, she cringed.
“Mr. Tucchi!” Mum said, shaking his outstretched hand politely. If there’s one thing Mum could do, it was charm people. Even if she now resembled an inflated aquatic life-form.
“Ah, Minister!” Kingsley Shacklebolt called, walking over to us and grinning. Kingsley had been the Minister before Dad and was now an advisor.
“Call me ‘Minister’ once more and I’ll have you working in the Witch Weekly offices,” Dad joked. Kingsley shuddered.
“Might as well hand me over to the Dementors, Rick,” he laughed.
“Minister, the press is waiting,” Dad’s secretary, Hans, said. Hans was an all work no play sort of guy. He was always carrying around a clipboard, with a look on his face that made you think he was passing a kidney stone. The best thing about Hans was his loyalty, though. Being the secretary to the Minister for Magic meant that everywhere you go, the press would be, trying to bribe you to give them something, anything incriminating on said Minister. Hans always told them to piss off. Then he’d have them kicked out by security. The last part was pretty unnecessary, but it was still cool.
“Ready?” Dad asked lightly, turning to us. Mum nodded briskly and walked forwards. At the word ‘press’ my stomach dropped. I felt a reassuring pressure on my hand and I looked down to see Nikki’s hand in mine.
I hated the press. I could deal with the stares and the awkward conversations, but the press made my skin crawl. I wasn’t butt-ugly or anything. I didn’t have some gross face deformation either, but I couldn’t adore the paparazzi like Mum, or pretend they don’t exist like Nikki. She went about her life as if they didn’t exist. She went out and parties and had boyfriends. Whenever she ended up on the cover of the Prophet for being at a party or making out with some dude, she just shrugged and went on with her life. She was Nicole Adriana Haverford, First Daughter.
I was Katie, just Katie. I was completely okay with that, but they clearly weren’t.
I internally groaned as Nikki’s grip on my hand tightened and she pull me towards the swarms of reporters with cameras. The minute we stepped in front of them, they exploded.
“Minister! Minister, here!”
Right, smile. My dad went off to talk to some reporter and my mum went in the opposite direction towards the Witch Weekly correspondent. I glanced around the room. Members of the Potter-Weasley clan were scattered around the room talking to reporters. I also recognized other Ministry officials around the room.
“Will you be ok?” Nikki whispered. I looked up at her in horror. Before I could say anything, she was walking away towards a man with a camera and a notepad, smiling charmingly.
I would’ve been shocked if I wasn’t so horrified. How could she abandon me in a room full of media people who were watching my every move, waiting for me to slip up? Ok, Katie, breathe. Just breathe. You’ll be fine.
“Excuse me, Miss Haverford!”
It took me a moment to realize that the reporter was addressing me. You can do this, I told myself. Just relax; just pretend you’re talking to Nikki or Dad.
“Hi,” I said, smiling. A grin broke out on the reporter’s face. Actually, I think it was a sneer. Well, shit.
“Miss Haverford how was your summer?” the reporter asked politely. Polite people don’t sneer, buddy.
“It was great, thanks,” I replied. See? I got this.
“Really, because we only saw your sister out enjoying herself. Where were you?” he asked, his voice still polite.
I was hiding from people like you, you loser.
“I’ve just um… I’ve been…”
“Yes?” he asked, smirking at me. Merlin, I wanted to punch his stupid face in.
“I was er… busy,” I said brilliantly. Busy. Great. Busy.
“Well, she was mostly hanging out with us,” a voice said from behind me. “She’s loads of fun, this one is.”
The next thing I know there’s a hand around my shoulder. I looked up in severe shock. Standing next to me in all her red-headed glory was the stunning, utterly brilliant, Rose Weasley. What was she doing here? Actually, why was she saving my arse? Ok, this is not the time to be overanalyzing things, Katie.
I turned back to the reporter and grinned broadly. His eyes were narrowed at us.
“Really?” he sneered.
“Yes, really. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have a party to attend,” Rose said with finality, pulling me away. I was still in a state of shock. Once we were away from the reporters, Rose stopped and turned to me. It’s not that Rose and I are like best friends or something, but we don’t hate each other either. I share a dorm with her at Hogwarts but since I spent most of my time with Nikki, I never really got to know her. I mean, it’s not like I ignored her for the past five years or anything. We were on a ‘hi-bye, good night’ basis with each other. That was the same level of friendship I had with my other dorm mates. Yeah, remember when I said I has friends. I mainly meant my homework. And my owl Joey.
“Erm… thanks,” I said awkwardly. Rose nodded.
“Never talk to him. His name’s Eugene Grey. He’s with some tabloid rag. If anyone’s out to get us, it’s him,” she said. I would have done a double-take at the word ‘us’, but this was Rose Weasley. She and her family were stalked as much as I was.
“Thanks,” I said again, not knowing what to do next. Rose saved me.
“Listen, I’ve to go meet some friends. Will you be ok?” Wow, a lot of people seem to be asking me that question today. I nodded mutely and Rose turned on her heel and walked away. I watched her retreating back and I felt my stomach drop slightly.
Why couldn’t I be like that? Cool, calm and confident. Merlin, I’m such a spaz! The room suddenly seemed a bit empty and I didn’t know what to do next.
“Katie! Oh, I’m so sorry I left you there!” Nikki was running up to me with wide eyes. “I shouldn’t have left you all alone with Eugene Grey!” This guy’d clearly made a name for himself.
“Its fine, Nikki. I’ll live,” I joked. Nikki hugged me for a long moment before letting me go and linking her arm through mine.
“I promise not to leave your side,” she said brightly and together we walked into the party.
“Oh, you’re just the best boyfriend a girl could ask for Nic!” I said, feigning hysterical giggling. Nikki laughed at me.
“Miss Haverford!” the short, sweaty Treasurer, Mr. Dunham cried, bustling forwards. I wasn’t sure if he was referring to me or Nikki because his eyes were darting between us with rapid speed.
“What are your views on the new tax regime?” he asked in excitement. Nikki and I exchanged a look.
This was going to be a long night.
A/N: Ok, new stroy. I'm not exactly sure where this is going to go, but I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Leave a review and let me know!
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