Chapter 1 : Running From Them
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They were arguing again. I heard the harsh words, the accusations, the insults, the swears. I flinched every time another verbal blow found its mark. I pressed the heels of my hands harder into my eyes and curled myself into an even tighter ball, striving to find the numbness that had been my constant companion and only true friend for as long as I could remember. I wanted to feel nothing, to be nothing, to not even exist in my little bit of nothingness and precious, precious, numbness.
Because reality was too painful. I had tried, I really had. I had been trying for as long as I’d been hurting like this. Most people think that physical pain, or death, is the worst thing that can happen to you. But it really isn’t. My parents had never once hurt me intentionally. They might not be the most loving or caring of people, but they’ve never laid a hand on me.
They didn’t have to. Their words were enough. Those painful, agonizing words that they directed at each other, and sometimes me. I might not have a scratch on my skin, but the true wounds, the worst pain, is hidden beneath the surface.
I’m broken inside. I have no home, and no love. Nothing to live for. Nothing to live for except life itself. And, somehow, that’s enough.
It’s been enough through these long years and haze of nothingness and numbness and pain. It’s been enough until now, the idea, the simple idea, that I have potential. That my life will not always be like this. But now an idea is not enough. A notion just beyond my reach will not suffice. And so I must make it into a new reality, one that doesn’t hurt every time I take a step.
I slowly uncurled myself from the ball I was in, getting up from the corner that I had been lying in. I took one shaky, uncertain step. I was worried, too be honest, I was worried that someone would come barreling in, yelling at me to lie back down, to submit again, to obey them, to let them control me and keep me prisoner to their whims.
Because, in a way, that was what my parents were doing. Not intentionally, though. I was a slave to their wishes. If they wanted me to do better in school (though that was rare, considering the fact that they could care less about my education), I did. If they wanted the house clean, I cleaned it. If they wanted dinner or lunch or breakfast cooked, I cooked it. What they wanted, I did. I wanted to keep them happy, wanted to stop the horrible fighting, wanted to have a family.
But it never lasted. It was a temporary, shallow happiness that evaporated like dew in the sun’s hot rays. It would disappear to be replaced with more hatred and bitterness and misery and regret, more ugly emotions that sent me to my corner, cowering with fear and pain, hungering for the numbness.
I was sick of it. I was sick of the old routine, the never-ending circle that always ended up with me in pain, again and again and again. I was sick of it, and I wanted a change.
Hell, I had always wanted a change, that much was obvious. But I was finally going to do something about. I was finally ready to act, and stop being a coward.
My steps became quicker, steadier, more sure. Before I knew it, I was standing in the room with my parents, the two of them facing off like always, arguing with as much ferocity as caged tigers, like always. They were so absorbed with their argument that they didn’t even notice my presence. That was normal. They didn’t acknowledge me unless they wanted something done.
I watched them, the people I had once thought I loved, the people I had strained to please and make happy since Day 1, the people who had never once thanked me or told me that they even liked me. As far as I knew, they merely tolerated my presence and saw me as a useful person to have around the house. Just a maid they didn’t have to pay for.
“STOP!” I finally screamed, unable to take it anymore, finally allowing myself to release seventeen years worth of bent-up aggression and suppressed hatred.
They turned to me in shock, eyes bugging out, seemingly unable to comprehend the fact that I was taking a stand, intervening in their arguments, for once.
“I can’t stand this anymore!” I shouted, anger coursing through me and fueling my rage. “I’ve put up with it my whole life, and now I’m finally, finally, going to do something about you people. You don’t love me.” It was a statement, not a question or a sentence full of false and naïve hope.
They didn’t even bother to deny it. They just stood there, faces still frozen with shock.
“I’m your fucking daughter and you don’t even bother to think about me. You couldn’t care less what I do, and you never will. You barely even know I exist. You just wait until something needs doing, and then you come crawling to me, knowing that I’ll do anything for you. And you know why, don’t you? You know that all I want is a family, a little love, maybe, but that just too much to ask, isn’t it? No, you just have to be so wrapped up in your own lives, so god damn self-centered you wouldn’t save me if I was dying.” I paused for breath, taking in their shell-shocked faces with a large amount of satisfaction. “But I am so sick of it! You’re tearing me apart with all your arguing, leaving me with nothing and taking everything I’ve got, but you don’t even care. You didn’t even notice! And I’ve had it. I’m leaving, okay? I don’t know where I’m going, but you don’t care anyways, so I’ll just leave. I’m taking my stuff, and I’m not coming back. Not in a thousand years. So have a nice life, you assholes, and I hope nobody else has the misfortune of getting involved in it!”
I took a huge breath, glared with incredible loathing at their faces, turned on my heel, and left. I practically ran to my room, where I grabbed several bags and started packing. I took only the clothes I knew I’d need, all the money and ID (i.e., my passport, driver’s license, etc.) I had, the essential toiletries and other such things, shoes and socks, my favorite book, my notebook and pen, and a few of my special belongings.
I pulled my backpack on my shoulders, slung my gym bag over one shoulder, my messenger bag over the other, and I walked out of the house that was not my home.
And just like that, I was free. I was free to do what I liked, when I liked. I was free from responsibility and pain and nothingness. I was going to be something. And, for once in my pathetic life, I was sure of it.
Well, as nice as those dreams sounded, it was going to take nothing short of a miracle for me to be able to achieve those aspirations. You see, I tend to be impulsive when I’m angry. And I’ve never been as angry as I was the night I ran away. So, I didn’t really think my decision through. Therefore, I am now in a small town called Godric’s Hollow with a little over five hundred dollars to my name, the processions I took with me when I left, no place to sleep other than the park bench (or whatever else I can find), and no job.
I’ve got two things I didn’t have when I left. One is relative freedom, and the other is a crapload of strange looks from the townsfolk.
But it’s so worth it. I don’t regret my decision for an instant. I couldn’t have lasted much longer in the hellhole, and I was good that I got out then. I just kind of wish I had made my “parents” give enough money to get a motel room and find a job. Or something like that. I was just lucky that I had run away in July and it hadn’t rained. Yet. Because I really don’t like the looks of those clouds.
I looked back up at the dark, broiling clouds. They were a shade lighter than the black of night and were moving at a scary fast pace across the sky, growing and shrinking and contorting the whole time. They screamed “thunder storm”.
I bit my lip nervously, not really looking forward to getting soaking wet. And it wouldn’t help my situation any if I got my belongings wet, too.
I was standing in the middle of the small park at the center of Godric’s Hollow, next to the statue of war veterans, frowning up at the foreboding sky. There were a few benches around the statue, which had proven to be fine for sleeping on, if a bit on the hard side. There were also several trees around the border of the park, which I had contemplated using for making a lean-to with the blanket I had with me. I decided it wasn’t worth it after I tried it once. The lean-to was much too small, and the ground was too rocky for my taste.
I sighed and stowed my bags underneath the bench that was closest to me. I covered them with my blanket, bemoaning the sad fact that I hadn’t bothered to bring a raincoat or windbreaker or something of that sort with me. I then proceeded to sit down above my blanket-covered bags, glaring up at the clouds again.
I sat there, studying the town around me, waiting for the rain to come. It was a quaint, cute town with a few stores (one hardware, two food, one general, and one thrift). There were businesses lining the streets at the center of town, too. A Laundromat (which had been my saving grace), a few restaurants, a café, a pub, a barber shop, and the like. I had got here by train, getting off at the friendliest looking stop I came to, which just so happened to be here. The train station was down one of the side streets, towards the edge of town.
I was just glad that nobody had been rude to me or kicked me out of their place of business or done something else that would have pissed me off. Because the last time I got pissed off I ran away from home, so God knows what I’ll do this time.
As I watched, I fat drop of rain hit the ground in front of me. Another soon followed. And then, before I had time to sigh again or complain about the weather, it was pouring. I was soaked through in around a minute, and really beginning to regret not having bought a tent before I left the large-ish suburb I used to live in.
And then I was done worrying about the lack of a tent and moving on to worrying about the white shirt I was stupidly wearing. I heaved another sigh and crossed my arms over my chest, frowning. My mind, having nothing else to do, returned to the night I left, and began reliving my memories from that day and the months and years before it.
Before long I wasn’t so sure it was just raindrops streaming down my face. My life had been a train wreck, with one mistake after another, all in quick succession. I had given myself no time to recover, no time to think, no time to focus on anything other than what was right in front of me. I had not ability to think about the future, or the past, or learn from my mistakes.
Example A: running away from home after giving it maybe two minutes of thought.
Example B: becoming an amateur graffiti artist after hanging out with the wrong people and then getting arrested for vandalism.
Example C: allowing myself to get talked into jumping off of a three-story roof. I was in the hospital for months after.
And that was only the beginning. There was so much else, so many stupid and foolish things I had done over the years, that I didn’t even know what would come after that supreme act of stupidity and foolishness, which will henceforth be known as “The Stupidest Thing I've Ever Done”.
“Er, excuse me, are you all right?” I looked up and saw a woman with long red hair and warm brown eyes standing in front of me. She had a ring on her finger and was holding an umbrella over her head. She looked genuinely concerned for me, which was honestly a first.
“No. No, I’m definitely not all right. Look at me. I’m sitting in the rain with no home to go back to, soaked to the skin, with all of my worldly goods underneath the bench I’m sitting on. I’ve run away from home and I’m much too proud to go back. I’ve got no money other than what I brought with me, and no real way of getting more without turning to crime. I’ve been sleeping on a bench for the past four nights and I have honestly no idea where my life is going and what the hell I’m doing. So, I’d say I’m the opposite of ‘all right’.” I couldn’t hold back I hint of hysteria and bitterness in my voice as I looked up at the woman in front of me, pouring out my heart (or maybe half of my heart) to a complete stranger, and only because she looked like she actually cared.
She frowned down at me, looking even more concerned than before. “Well, then. I’m Ginny, Ginny Potter. And you’re going to come with me. I will not have a young girl sitting out here with no home and only a few bags of things to her name. Come on, now.” She said briskly, holding out a hand to help me up. Her grip was warm and firm, which probably had something to do with the reason why I didn’t run away screaming “kidnap!” and I just grabbed my things and followed Ginny Potter down one of the streets to her home.
I guess I just have feeling about this. I know it's right. I know I’ll be fine, and I know I should go with Ginny Potter.
After walking for a few minutes, during which Ginny told me to call her Ginny, decided she was going to hold two of my bags for me, and asked me what my name was, we arrived at her house. I stared in shock, my jaw hanging somewhere around my knees.
Her house was gorgeous. It was this big brownstone, three floors, with bay windows and soft light glowing from indoors. The garden was beautiful and incredibly well tended, with lovely flowers and bushes and shrubs and trees and other such things. There were fountains and small stature and birdbaths, and the whole place was surrounded by a wrought iron fence, complete with a gate. It was like something out of Jane Austen, except a thousand times better.
Ginny chuckled at my flabbergasted expression. “C’mon, let’s get inside. Now, I have to warn you, I have an irksome husband, two annoying sons, and one obnoxious daughter.”
Oh my God. This is like my dream come true. A beautiful house, complete with a family? Maybe I don’t have that much bad luck/karma, after all.
I numbly followed Ginny, my brain set on autopilot while still trying to work through the fact that Ginny was letting me stay here. With her family. I honestly feel the happiest I think I’ve ever felt. I was practically glowing by the time we got to the door, and I had completely expelled the former feeling of hysteria and bitterness.
Ginny opened the door and walked in, closing it after me. I was standing in a big entrance-hall-type-place. It was spacious and airy, giving it a cozy feel, despite the fact that I was standing in the middle of a hall with a eight-foot ceiling and very expensive-looking décor that probably put the Buckingham Palace to shame.
I stood on the long, elegant (probably Persian) carpet in front of the double doors with my eyes bugging out and my mouth hanging open dripping water onto Ginny Potter's expensive floor.
Holy crap. This is so fucking awesome.
“Alright, follow me. Let's get you to the kitchen. You look half-dead.” Ginny said, very matter-of-factly. I numbly followed her, shocked into complete silence for the third time that night.
We walked down a few hallways, passing several closed doors and more fancy/expensive looking décor. When we reached the (huge, excellently furnished) kitchen, I had regained the ability to form coherent thought/sentences. But I still blinked several times at the sight of the kitchen and quickly sat down in one of the stools at a bar made of wood with a polished granite top.
I smoothed my hand over the surface and dropped my backpack onto the floor by my stool. Ginny had my bags down there and was now bustling around the kitchen with a supremely motherly air.
“Would you like anything to eat, dear? What about tea?” she asked, smiling at me as warmly as she would smile at one of her own children. A warm, welcome, and yet completely alien feeling spread over me.
“Uh, no, I'm not hungry. I will take some black tea, though.” I answered, starting to smile for the first time in what felt like forever.
Ginny filled a kettle with water and then put it on the stove. She got a large mug and put a tea bag in it, and then asked me what I wanted in the tea.
“Milk, sugar, cream? Whatever you'd like, dear.”
You know, I really like it when she calls me dear. It makes me feel like I have a family. (Yes, I realize that last sentence made me sound like some poor bloke who got orphaned as a baby because some evil guy killed his parents and then proceeded to spend his life fighting said evil guy, eventually killing him in a huge battle, but still yearning for a real family, which he ends up finding in his wife's own family. But that's never going to happen, is it?)
“I'll just have some milk in it, thanks.”
Ginny nodded at smiled at me (again) and then said, “I'm going to go and get the rest of my family. You wait here, and please don't judge them too harshly. My sons are quite annoying.”
I could tell that Ginny didn't really mean what she said about them being annoying. She finished off her explanation with a large and very loving smile.
She turned and made her way out of the kitchen. I could hear her footsteps in the hallways outside of the kitchen, and then going up what I assumed to be stairs. After that I couldn't hear her anymore, so I turned my attention to my situation, which had improved considerably. Just a little twist of fate. I mean, I just happened to be in the same town as Ginny Potter, who evidently had a good deal more compassion than most of the other people here.
As I thought about this, I started thinking about fate and destiny and time and choices and consequences and karma and luck and the ripple effect. And pretty soon I was completely enveloped in my own thought and my head. I was barely paying any attention to the outside world and was instead considering various situations both involving me and a collection of battles that could have all turned out differently. I mean, what would have happened if Napoleon had won at Waterloo?
Because of this internal monologue that would have put most people to sleep in five second flat, I didn't even notice Ginny's return with her family. Well, I didn't notice it until someone happened to trip over my bags and fall headfirst onto the floor by the bar I was seated at.
I started, blinking my eyes rapidly and coming back to earth from envisioning the Nazis winning at Stalingrad. (It had been horrible, in case you're wondering.)
Ginny smiled at me – which she seemed to be doing a lot of – and then turned to her family.
“Guys, this is Bellalyse Owen, and she's going to be staying with us for a bit.” She said to the four other people standing in the kitchen.
The person who had tripped over my bags was now standing on the other side of the bar. She was a girl who looked like she was few years younger than me, and she was the spitting image of Ginny. Long, straight, dark red hair and warm brown eyes. I deduced that she must be Ginny's obnoxious daughter.
I turned and looked at the rest of her family, all of whom were standing next to her on the other side of the kitchen. There were two boys (one about my age, the other a year or so younger than me) and a man. The man (who must have been the irksome husband) had messy black hair and brilliant green eyes behind glasses. The boy who looked younger than me was the spitting image of the irksome husband, and was definitely one of the annoying sons. The boy who looked my age had messy black hair and hazel eyes. Both of the sons were quite good looking. Objectively speaking, of course.
“Bellalyse, this is Lily, my daughter, Harry, my husband, James, my son, and Albus, my other son.” Ginny said, pointing to the obnoxious daughter, the irksome husband, the older annoying son, and the younger annoying son, respectively.
I smiled at them, and they smiled back at me. Well, James had more of a smirk, but it was the general idea of a smile, which was the most important part. I mean, it wasn't like they were openly picking me up by the scruff of my neck and throwing me (forcibly) back out onto the street.
“Welcome to the Potter home, Bellalyse.” Harry Potter said, smiling at me with as much warmth as his wife.
And in that one second, I was home. I was with the family I had never had, and I was happier that I had ever been before.
right, so that was just a little plot bunny of mine that was originally going to be a one-shot, but then morphed into a short story, and has now changed into the beginning of a novella. I really like the idea, because i've never written from the view of a Muggle who ends up living with wizards, even though she's clueless as to their existence. But we'll just have to see how long that lasts, right? Anyways, please review and tell me what you think. I don't know myself, because the beginning was all solemn and depressing, and then it got more up-beat and happier towards the end. GAH! I have no idea what to think about this, so PLEASE tell me what you think. Just one sentence, that's all I ask.
...right, i'm getting pathetically desperate, so i'm just gonna wrap this up and actually post it.