“Katie, have you seen your sister?” Mum asked, walking into the cavernous kitchen in her silky robe.
“No,” I mumbled into my cereal. Mum shut a cupboard door and turned to me.
“She was with you all evening yesterday,” Mum said suspiciously.
That was true, more or less. Nikki hadn’t left my side all night as Ministry officials pretended to care what two teenage girls thought about their policies. We had just about called it a night when she had spotted Trent Logan, son of the head of our father’s PR group. Nikki had a thing for Trent. Everyone
had a thing for Trent. He was one of those guys who was blissfully obvious to all the female attention he received, the guy who was always surrounded by his male friends, the ‘relationship’ sort of guy.
Unfortunately, Nikki wasn’t the relationship sort of girl. He’d actually asked her out once, but she’d turned him down. Nikki didn’t date. She was young and she wanted to have fun; her words, not mine. It had become her ultimate goal in life to sleep with him. Trent, of course, would hear none of that. Judging by the fact that she wasn’t home yet probably meant that she had succeeded.
“She’s probably sleeping in, Mum. Relax,” I said, taking a bite of my cereal. I glanced at my to-do list to check what was on my agenda today. It’s really weird having your day mapped out for you. Actually having a person specially appointed to do it was even weirder.
Anyway, today was a pretty basic day. I think they were trying to tone it down because Hogwarts would be starting soon. I had to be at an art opening in London because the daughter of the Bulgarian Minister for Magic had decided to be an artist since fashion designer, party planner and personal shopper hadn’t worked out for her. For which I had to be in hair and make-up in fifteen minutes.
I was in my room for the next couple of hours having clothes thrown at me from all directions. Mum kept walking in every five minutes to check if Nikki was home yet. I was having bigger problems. Trust me when I say it isn’t fun to have to keep changing clothes until your neurotic stylist is satisfied.
“And… viola!” Stacy finally said, spinning me so I could look in the mirror. She had dressed me in light blue jeans and a white tank top with cute little black swirls on it.
“You took an hour and a half for this?” I asked flatly, staring at my reflection. What I saw was, as always, average. Just average.
“Simplicity is chief,” Stacy said knowledgeably. I stared at her in disbelief through the mirror. I didn’t have time for this.
“Ok, whatever you say,” I said, grabbing the black cashmere wrap and the bag Stacy had left on my bed. I also picked my ankle boots up in my hand, knowing that I didn’t have time to wear them, and sprinted out the door. Mum was going to kill me. Then, when Nikki finally showed, she was going to kill her too.
“Katie! Have you seen her?” Mum asked as I bolted down the stairs.
“If I had, Mum, she’d be with me,” I panted.
“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” Mum whispered. “You can’t arrive without her!”
I gave Mum the once over. She was dressed for brunch with Dad and some bland, snooty Ministry officials. Nikki and I were supposed to be doing this on our own. Apparently we were there just to show that we were ‘involved’ or something. I wasn’t really sure. I’d tuned out when Mum gave us that lecture. Because, really, we were there to schmooze the Bulgarian Minister’s daughter and hope that he’d appreciate it and help Dad out if he ever needed it.
“Mum, the opening isn’t for another half hour,” I said, trying to calm her. “I’ll just… I’ll go and you can find her and send her right over, ok?”
“Okay. Oh, your portkey’s here. Go!” Mum cried. I spun around to see a vase that had been kept on the dining table begin to light up. I lunged at it and caught the rim just in time.
Unlike the previous night, I didn’t feel the ground beneath my feet. Instead, I fell flat on my back on cold, hard floor. This day just couldn’t get worse, could it? Mum was a wreck, which meant that the brunch wouldn’t go well, Nikki was missing, I had to stare at blotches of paint for the rest of the day and now I had a bruised tailbone. I kept my eyes shut and groaned.
“Bad morning?” someone asked. My eyes snapped open and I was staring at… green
. Clear, untainted emerald green.
“Your eyes are pretty,” I said stupidly. I must have hit my head really hard because I didn’t immediately shut my mouth and turn hopelessly red. Instead, I grinned like a loony at Albus Severus Potter.
And the surprising thing?
He didn’t run away screaming, “Get away from me, you bloody creeper!”
No, he chuckled.
I stared at him from the floor, blinking at him in confusion as I tried to figure out why he wasn’t freaked out. I decided that the next step would be to try and sit up. Turns out that was a really bad idea. It felt like someone had dropped a brick on my head the moment I sat up.
“Ow,” I said, clutching my head.
“Let me help you,” Albus said. I hadn’t fully had time to register what he’d said before he grabbed my waist and pulled me backwards. I felt a wall behind my back and I leaned gratefully onto it.
“I’ll go get some ice,” I heard him say from somewhere far off. I don’t know if he left after that. I guess he did to go get ice. I took the time to vaguely register my surroundings. I was in a small square, rather hostile looking room. The walls were all white and the sofas looked hard and uncomfortable.
My portkey was lying in the centre, in front of a pile of other seemingly ordinary objects. I guess this was where the guests arrived.
I almost screamed when an icepack appeared in front of my face. Nonetheless, I took it gladly and gingerly put it on the steadily enlarging bump on my head. As the ice cooled my pounding head, the pain in my back worsened and I started to feel normal again.
“Thanks,” I said, looking at Albus. He’d decided that it wasn’t safe to leave me alone, so he was sitting beside me against the wall.
“It’s like my thing, saving damsels in distress,” he said, grinning cockily at me.
“I’m not in distress,” I informed him.
“I don’t know if you noticed, but you, my friend, are concussed,” he told me.
“Still doesn’t mean I’m in distress.”
“I think it does,” he laughed.
“Well, you’re mistaken,” I huffed, turning away. Here I was, trying to ignore the dreary day ahead and all Albus Potter can do is argue with me. Speaking of…
“Have you, by any chance, seen my sister?” I asked. Albus shrugged.
“I got here just before you,” he said. I frowned.
“What’re you even doing here?” I asked.
“Well, I was invited,” he shrugged.
“Yeah, but why did you come?” I asked, still bewildered.
“Um… because it’s polite,” he said slowly. I think he was wondering if I was completely sane or not. If I were in his position, that’s definitely what I would be doing.
“Right,” I mumbled.
“I’m guessing you’re not a big fan of social gatherings,” he chuckled.
“Yup,” I sighed. “Oh, but tell the press that and I’ll deny it. Vehemently.”
I tried to sound threatening, but Albus laughed at me.
“Don’t worry, I think they already know that,” he assured me.
“I’d better go check if my sister’s here,” I said, pushing myself to my feet. The moment I didn’t, the room began to spin. I reached out, expecting to find the wall for support. Instead, Albus grabbed my shoulders and steadied me.
“Hey, easy,” he said in a calm voice. I shut my eyes to stop the spinning and when I opened them the walls, thankfully, stayed where they should. I stepped away from him and turned around to leave.
“Hey! Don’t I get a thank you kiss or something?” Albus joked. I felt my cheeks heat up. Yup, I was definitely back to normal.
“Um… no,” I said, without turning around. Then I all but ran to the door as he chuckled behind me. I burst through the door and directly into the party. People closest to the door turned to see who’d arrived. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it if they hadn’t kept staring.
“Katie!” Albus called from behind me. More people were staring now. I absolutely suck
at situations like this. Ok, Katie, walk away. Just walk away.
I smiled politely at the guests and began walking forward. Some of them smiled at me, the others just looked. Ok, what was going on?!
“Katie, your shoes!” Albus screamed this time. Very loudly. I felt my eyes widen and I slowly looked down at my bare feet, then behind me at Albus. He was holding my bag, my wrap and my ankle boots with the most amused expression on his face.
Next time, please remind me to get fully dressed before leaving home. No matter how late I am.
“Kate’s Foot Fetish,” Witch Weekly
And the headlines of every major tabloid read something along the same lines.
Really? I mean, come on, really
“THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, NICOLE!”
Oh, dead Merlin, not this again.
“Mum! It’s been two days! Get over it!” Nikki screamed back. Well, isn’t this just the best family breakfast ever? I glanced up from my pancakes at Dad. He was reading The Daily Prophet
with a rather pained expression on his face.
Let me fill you in; Nikki never made it to the art opening. No one even noticed but Mum seemed to think it was okay to give her endless hell over it.
“That is not the point, Nicole!”
“Then what is
the point, Mother?” Nikki snapped back.
“You can’t just waltz back home in the same clothing you were wearing the previous evening. It’s unacceptable! The stories they could’ve printed!”
“What? ‘First Daughter Has Sex’?” Nikki asked. Dad choked on his coffee.
“Nikki-“ he began.
“Let them, Mum. I don’t care! Trent is absolutely wonderful and I like him. I don’t care who knows!” she cried. Pssh… and she says she isn’t the ‘dating type’.
“Your disregard for the reputation of-“
“Nikki, I forbid you-“
“I don’t care
about what they say-“
“-the importance of your father’s-“
“What d’you mean sex
“-they don’t have lives of their own, Mum. That’s why-“
“-my little girl-“
It was at this point that I decided to walk out, taking my pancakes with me. Why can’t my family be normal? Most families would just be like, “Oh, hey! Good morning! Sleep well?”
My family? Oh no, that was way too normal for them. They just had to discuss Nikki’s sex life at the breakfast table.
I nibbled at my pancake as I climbed up the stairs. There wasn’t anything for me to do. I’d done most of my packing for school. It was pretty basic when you had people to do your shopping for you. I guess it was a good thing. Either way, double checking wouldn’t hurt anyone.
So that’s what I did; I double checked my packing and re-packed everything. Shutting the lid of my trunk, I sat heavily on my bed and caught my reflection in the mirror. And I think that’s when I first realized it. I realized what my life was. It was nothing. I had no life. I was sixteen, the only time I got out of the house was to rub shoulders with some of the dreariest people in the world, I didn’t have any friends except for my sister, I’d alienated everyone my age, the only parties I’d ever been to were Gryffindor Quidditch victory parties and here I was, on one if the last days of the summer holidays, packing.
I was a sorry excuse for a teenager.
I narrowed my eyes at my reflection. This would be about the time where I’m supposed to decide to chuck my old way of life out the window and become like Courtney Love or something. I would’ve done that too if I wasn’t such a coward. But a little coffee would do me some good.
With new resolve, I got up and changed out of my sweats into jeans and a plaid shirt. I got my sneakers out of my closet, deciding to actually wear shoes this time. Then I grabbed my bag off my bed and walked out my room door, running straight into my parents.
“Hey, honey, where’re you going?” Mum asked, spotting my bag.
“Out,” I said, trying to sound out mysterious and teenager-y.
“But Nikki’s in her room,” Dad said, confused. Great, even Dad knows I’m absolutely no fun. I think my mum caught the look on my face because she elbowed Dad in the ribs.
“That’s nice, love. Be back in time for the Middlehouses’ party. Actually, be back by noon. If we arrive early we can skip out and go to that dress fitting in Diagon Alley,” Mum said, more to herself than to me. I nodded and skipped down the stairs.
I grabbed the pot by the fireplace and flooed to the Leaky Cauldron. The minute I stepped out of the fireplace at the pub, the stares began. At first it’s just double takes, but then people realize that yes, I am actually the
Katherine Haverford, so they proceed to whisper excitedly to their friends and family. People rarely come up and talk to me. That usually happens only to Nikki. She was just more approachable.
I was about to head to the backroom, but then I stopped. What would await me in Diagon Alley? First it would be just stares, same as in the Leaky Cauldron, but then someone would eventually tip off the press and havoc would ensue.
So, instead of the backroom, I turned right around and headed out of the pub, walking right into Muggle London. It was refreshing to be able to walk down the street without being stared at. I all but skipped down the pavement, earning disgruntled mumbles from the morning office-goers who, clearly, had nothing to be happy about.
I spotted a small coffee shop and walked in, confident of myself for probably the first time in my life. There was no press, no cameras, and no snide comments about my father’s latest campaign. I don’t know why I’d never been to Muggle London before. It was awesome.
I sat down at a table nearest to the side window and a perky waitress immediately bounced up to me. I guess working at a coffee shop has its downsides. Ordering a coffee, I pulled out my book from my bag and opened it to the marked page. Ok, so maybe this wasn’t a completely
different side of me, but it was definitely new. I think every side that I had would love books. I mean, books are wonderful. All you had to do was open a book and the world as you know it just disintegrates and this new, exciting place with promise and mystery opens. A place where anything can happen.
I was so wrapped up, sitting there and reading my book while sipping my coffee that I actually screamed when someone said, no, yelled my name.
“KATIE! What’re you doing here?”
I looked up in alarm. I hadn’t heard the bell on the door jingle as it opened, but indeed it had. Standing on the opposite side of the café were Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy in all they splendor.
Rose Weasley, who looked, if I wasn’t mistaken, even more glorious than she did the other day at the party. Her long red hair was pulled back in a braid and she was dressed in a pretty white summer dress. By her side was Scorpius Malfoy with his blonde hair, grey eyes and the works. I don’t know how but he was even taller than Rose, who was probably bordering on 5’11’’.
She whispered a few words to him and he trotted off to the counter to order food. Rose hurried towards me, a large smile on her face.
“Katie, mind if we join you?” she asked, pulling up a chair in the process. My answer was clearly irrelevant.
“The others will be joining us soon,” she informed me happily. By ‘others’ I assumed she meant the rest of my fellow Gryffindor Sixth Years. I’ll admit I felt a little insulted. All of them had decided to come here and I had absolutely no idea. I mean, I’d lived with these people for the past five years.
The moment that thought passed through my head, I mentally kicked myself. Why would
they invite me? For as long as I’ve known them, all I’ve ever done was do my best to avoid them.
“Hey,” Scorpius said casually to me, sitting down next to Rose and wrapping his arm around her waist. Yeah, they’d been an item for about two years now. What was even more interesting to me though was the fact that the last time Scorpius and I had actually had a conversation was when I spilt frog spawn all over him in fifth year Potions.
“Hi,” I said, looking away in shame. They probably thought that I thought I was too good for them or something. My behavior had always been driven by my painful shyness, but now, looking at it from their point of view, I’d probably come off as a snob; always refusing offers to hang out with them, preferring to spend time with my older, cooler sister.
The tinkling bell over the door went off again and in walked my other roommate, Pippa Finnegan. She was closely followed by Alec Wood, the Keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
They both sat down, Pippa on my other side and Alec next to Scorpius. They didn’t look surprised to see me at all.
“Hey, Katie,” Pippa greeted me brightly. Pippa was one of those perennially happy people. I’d never seen her sad. Not once. She had the look for it too; she was short with a cute little black bob and bright brown eyes. I think Pippa had tried to initiate me into the group when all the others had given up. She’s tried, all the way into third year, to persuade me to some to a party, or stay awake for a sleepover. And she always left with that adorable, defeated look on her face. I could almost feel my heart go heavy at the thought.
I looked up, half surprise and half alarmed. Surprised because I hadn’t even noticed Albus come in and alarmed because I was being referred to as ‘Katie-cat’.
“Katie-cat?” Rose asked, raising an eyebrow. “Really? Katie-cat
Albus looked at me for a moment, thinking seriously.
“Yes,” he said finally. “Katie-cat.”
“I think that’s the most innovative thing you’ve ever come up with, mate. Congrats,” Scorpius said.
“Do I have any say in this?” I asked, surprising even myself.
“Nope,” Alec said good-naturedly. “When Al over here decides to stick you with a stupid nickname, you’re stuck with it for life. Sorry.”
“Unless…” Pippa said in a singsong voice, shooting Albus a would-be sweet smile. I think he actually shuddered.
“What you did was completely
unnecessary,” Albus protested.
“Pippin is a guy’s name, Al,” Pippa said tiredly. I have a feeling they’ve been over this conversation more than once.
“What did you do?” I asked curiously. This caused Scorpius and Alec to burst out laughing while Albus turned an interesting shade of red.
“Let’s just say there was Spell-O-tape, a clown costume and whole lot of yogurt,” Rose said, smiling fondly at the memory. I couldn’t help myself. I smiled too.
“So,” Rose said seriously, turning to me. “I heard about Trent and Nikki.”
I stared at her in astonishment and was about to ask how she knew about that, but I caught myself. These people knew everyone; and I mean everyone.
For all I knew they probably heard it from either Trent or Nikki themselves.
“Yeah, I think she might actually settle down this time,” I said. I’ll admit, I was nervous. This was probably one of the few actually conversations I’d had with some who’s not a part of my family and/or a Ministry official.
“That’s so great!” Pippa said. “I always said they’d get together, didn’t I Rosie?”
The boys had started their own little conversation about Merlin knows what on the other side of the table.
“That you did,” Rose chuckled.
“Speaking of, have you seen Trent’s brother? Travis Logan got hot
over the summer,” Pippa said, leaning closer. “He is so going on my list.”
“Your list?” I asked.
“Her list of guys who could potentially be boyfriend material,” Rose explained. “You found her list back in third year, remember?”
what that was? I thought it was some kind of hit-list,” I said in wonder, vaguely remembering the incident Rose was talking about. Pippa chuckled.
“Well, we can’t all be as lucky as Rosie is with Scorpius, can we?” she said. “Or unlucky. Think about everything you’re missing.”
Rose simply rolled her eyes at Pippa. I found myself relaxing a bit as time went by. I actually felt my heart drop a bit when Alec glanced at his watch and got up.
“Sorry guys, gotta go. It’s almost one,” he said.
“One?!” I cried, jumping up.
“Yeah, do you have to be somewhere?” Rose asked.
“Some stupid state lunch thing. Merlin, my mum’s going to kill me,” I groaned, pushing my chair back ready to sprint all the way to the Leaky Cauldron.
“I forgot you’re all important and shit,” Scorpius said, teasing me.
“I’m not,” I assured him. “My father is.”
“Hey, see you on the train, yeah?” Pippa called. I didn’t know what to say at first, but then an awkward smile found its way onto my face of it own accord.
“Yeah, sure,” I said, fidgeting with my bag. “Bye!”
I ran out of the café, panic rising in my chest.
Mum was going to have my head on a platter.
And then she'd eat it like Hannibal Lecter.
Albus was behind me, catching up with his quick strides.
“Need company?” he asked, smiling.
“If you’re prepared to run,” I told him, taking off at top speed. “I’m so late!”
“Hey, relax. What’s the worst that could happen?” he reasoned, catching up with me again easily.
“You clearly don’t know my mother.”
There wasn’t any time to say anything else, because we’d reached the Leaky Cauldron. I was panting from running, but he wasn’t which, if you ask me, isn’t completely fair.
I ran over to the fireplace and was about to grab a fistful of floo powder.
“Listen, I know they’re a lot to take in at first, but they’re really great,” Albus said. I turned, frowning. It took me a moment to realize that he was talking about his friends.
I shared a dorm with Rose and Pippa, I was used to them. Scorpius and I were frequently paired together in Potions last year; hence the about mentioned frog spawn incident. Alec was an early riser, which meant he was the first (and most often the only) person I said ‘good morning’ to at breakfast.
In all truth, Albus was the most to take in and the weird part was that I didn’t know why.
“I’ve lived with them for the past five years of my life, Albus. I think I know exactly how much they are to take in,” I said carefully.
“Actually, Katie-cat, I don’t think you do.”He said it simply, to the point, no assumptions attached.
“What’re you saying?” I asked.
“Just… don’t run screaming. Because I know I wanted to when I first met them.”
“I don’t run,” I said defensively. Now, folks, that there was a blatant, shameless lie. He must have heard the guard in my voice, because he held up his hands and smiled.
“I’m just telling you… I mean, if you fell like walking away from all their… bizarreness, don’t.”
“Ok. I won’t.”
“Good,” he said smiling.
“Yeah… ok, I’ll see you at Hogwarts then,” I said, turning towards the fireplace.
“Bye, Katie-cat,” was the last thing I heard before I was enveloped by the green flames.