Chapter Two: Getting Closer
It was 10:45 on the first of September, and James Potter was, as usual, waiting in the middle of Platform 9 ¾ for the Hogwarts Express. As usual, he was swarmed by his boisterous family, who were, as usual, saying their customary cheerful and drawn-out goodbyes. But, most unusually, James Potter was not joining in the merriment. No, he was staring across the platform towards a young woman, quite beautiful despite her sad expression, who was standing all alone except for her mother. The only one she had left. James felt guilty to be surrounded by so many loving siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins...
He shook his head, tearing his eyes away from her. No, she was not all alone, he thought as Fabian, her cousin, and Fabian’s parents approached her. James nudged Rose and nodded towards the beautiful girl.
“Olivia!” Rose whispered in a concerned voice, running toward her friend. Olivia needed friends to console her—something James would have very much like to do himself—because she had lost her brother in a car accident at the end of last year.
His only hope of ever winning her over had evaporated then and there. She was in mourning, and didn’t need any attention from him, although James wanted nothing more than to dedicate his entire existence to her. She was his joy, his light, his goddess of love. He was drawn to her like the dark waters of the sea to the radiant moon, like a lowly moth to a... James shook his head again, trying to clear it. For some inexplicable reason, whenever Olivia was nearby he found himself thinking, and sometimes even talking, like some flowery sixteenth-century poet. It was a rather troubling habit.
“James,” Mum called, giving him a knowing look. James once again tore himself away from the adorable blond Olivia. He rolled his eyes at his mum, finally looking away.
Albus and Hugo were already talking about joining the quidditch team. James had been made captain for the second year in a row now, but he wasn’t going to take it easy on them. The Gryffindor team had been undefeated last year, but their three strongest players had just graduated. He needed to make sure they had the best possible team, no matter how many family members tried out.
James started to look back in the direction of Olivia, but stopped himself just in time. Instead, his eyes fell upon a well-built bloke with messy brown hair, standing alone on the platform. He was supposedly reading the Daily Prophet, but he couldn’t stop glancing at James’ father.
The staring didn’t really bother James anymore. The boy was clearly new here—and no one could blame him, if this was the first time he’d seen the Famous Harry Potter in person. He looked up, and James nodded in greeting. The new boy smiled shyly and cast his eyes down. A weird reaction, but James walked toward him anyway, if only to be three steps closer to Olivia.
“Hey, you new here?” James asked plainly. He nodded. “I’m James Potter.”
“Vi—...ce,” he said, looking down at their shaking hands and turning a little red. “Vice...too obviously...staring at people is my...vice.”
James raised his eyebrows at the boy, who screwed up his face, clearly feeling stupid at what he’d just said.
“Sebastian McIlroy,” he said eventually, smiling more confidently now. “I went to Beauxbatons up ‘till now. My family lives in France. That’s why I’m here alone.”
“How come you switched schools? I guess you’ll be in sixth or seventh year?” James asked. Sebastian nodded, seeming more comfortable. James, however, had to concentrate to keep his attention from wandering, because Olivia was standing right behind his new acquaintance.
“Well, my dad is sort of in love with quidditch, but he never truly got to play it, so I guess he’d like to see me pursue it seriously. Hogwarts is known for its numerous scout visits and potential professionals. Especially your generation. I mean, five students who graduated at Hogwarts last year ended up with contracts on great teams, and three of them were in Gryffindor!” Sebastian had recaptured James’ attention. Anyone that passionate about quidditch was good in his books. James liked him.
“You’ve done your homework,” James commented, receiving another weird look as he winked at Sebastian. “I’ll see you around.”
James got back to his family, where everyone had started hugging and kissing already. If only he could hug Olivia, or kiss...
At that moment, Olivia was concerned with much more pressing matters than kissing. Just as she had managed to hoist her trunk onto the edge of the frame above her head, Olivia lost her balance and stumbled back. The trunk fell onto her chest, knocking the wind out of her. Ugh, why did she have to be such a weak and helpless girl these days?
“Oh! Are you alright?” The male voice came from next to her. As he pushed up the trunk, his muscled shoulders and arms were very noticeable through his shirt, and when he looked back down at her, Olivia found herself quite dazzled.
“Are you okay?” he repeated, not noticing her obvious awe at his handsome face. Olivia nodded quickly, swallowing and scrambling to her feet. He helped her up, putting his hand on her arm. It wasn’t necessary, but Olivia definitely didn’t mind. He sat down beside her.
“Thanks,” Olivia said, suddenly wishing he’d go away again. She had just remembered why she was already inside the train, while all her friends were still outside. They were saying goodbye to family, something that she didn’t have anymore. Olivia felt the tears well up in her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’ve been so clumsy lately, I don’t know what to do with myself.”
“Hey, don’t cry,” he said softly, as a tear fell onto Olivia’s lap. She looked up into his eyes through lowered lashes as he wiped the tear off her cheek. He pulled away immediately, looking a bit embarrassed.
“It’s just I feel so useless, so empty,” Olivia tried to explain, wanting the eye contact back. “They made me Head Girl, you know. It’s like everyone is putting labels on me, looking right through me to the person I was before. And now that I’m not that person anymore, I feel like I’m nothing. It’s quite lonely being nothing.”
Olivia chuckled bitterly at her own explanation, but a few new tears ran down her cheeks because it was so true. After her father’s funeral, she had thought she’d never have to feel like that again. But Chris’ car accident was even worse. They had finally gotten past the usual sibling rivalries and jealousy. They had finally become friends, people who relied on each other. And now he was gone, taking the very meaning of life away with him.
“I’m Sebastian, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m kind of completely on my own here too,” said he replied, his voice light. “All they see when they look at me is ‘the new kid,’ and even that label is empty.”
Olivia chuckled again and brushed away her tears. People were starting to board the train.
“Look, when you get thrown into a completely new situation, you never know what to do, so you’re always gonna be clumsy at the beginning. Just remember to accept the hand that’s there to help you back up.” He smiled, squeezing her hand one time, before getting up to leave Olivia to her thoughts. How was it possible? How could he have brought back the emotions that had been frozen inside of her for months after just a few minutes?
Olivia got up and ran to the door after him.
“Sebastian!” He looked around, already heading back to his own compartment. “I’m Olivia.”
“Nice to meet you, Olivia,” he replied sincerely, smiling broadly back at her.
I reached my compartment, nearly colliding with two redheaded kids who were just leaving it. They were definitely Weasleys. The girl smiled sweetly at me, whilst the boy just ignored me, pulling her along after him. I walked in to find the compartment quite crowded.
I noticed James sitting next to the window immediately. He was staring outside, clearly looking for something, or someone. Across from him was a boy with brown hair so dark it was almost black, and smooth, bronzed skin. A huge, mischievous smile was dancing on his lips, the kind that made you want to smile back in response. He was sitting next to Rose Weasley. I recognised her immediately, because she looked a lot like her mother: she had the same bright, intelligent eyes and air of ambition, though with more freckles, and copper-coloured hair. There were three other people in the compartment, but before I could get a good look at them, the compartment door opened again.
“Uh…hello,” Albus Potter said from behind me, clearly wanting to enter. Of course, I recognised him immediately too—he was a perfect copy of Harry Potter. Everyone turned to stare at me, and I smiled shyly.
“Oh, hey!” James said, tearing his eyes away from the window. “Everyone, this is Sebastian.”
I waved sheepishly at everyone, while Albus squeezed himself in between Rose and a lanky strawberry-blond boy, who had a nice tan and a few rare freckles. James started introducing everyone. The smiling boy was Valentine. Then there was Rose, Albus (whose names were already familiar to me), and the blond boy, Cedric, who turned out to be another cousin. The other two occupants of the compartment were both engaged in such enthusiastic tongue wrestling, that I was too embarrassed to get a good look at them. According to James, the snogging couple consisted of Tim and a girl whose name even he didn’t know. He nudged Tim with his foot, which they both ignored except to crawl farther on top of one another, making room for me to sit beside James.
My heart pounded as I took my seat. It felt surreal and yet so familiar, as if I already knew him, and I could feel my stomach—or maybe my heart?— fill itself with small butterflies. Here I was, in the midst of the most famous family in the wizarding world, after reading about them for years in the Prophet, Witch Weekly, and other magazines. Unfortunately, the press had never published any pictures of the children, something Harry had apparently insisted upon.
“So, where’ve you been? You should never leave your compartment unguarded. Before you know it, an entire family might have taken over,” James joked with a wink.
“I was just walking around, and then some girl, Olivia, was having trouble with...”
“You’ve met Olivia?” James interrupted me in an awed voice. “Isn’t she just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever beheld?” Silence, whilst Albus, Valentine and Cedric all rolled their eyes in unison. “I mean, she’s really hot right?”
My heart sank, crushing a few of the butterflies that had already settled there. He was in love with Olivia? But she was so...so…not me?!
“Speaking of Olivia, I think I’m going to go find her. Poor thing, she’ll really need her friends around this year...” Rose murmured, getting up and leaving the compartment. James watched her go as if he’d like to leave with her. He probably did.
“She told me they made her ‘Head Girl’, or something. What does that mean?” I asked James, wishing his attention would turn back to me.
“Oh really? I guess it makes sense, she is the most perfect girl in Hogwarts. I mean, who doesn't like her, right?” James sighed, going all gooey-eyed. Gross.
“Becoming Head Girl has nothing to do with beauty or popularity,” Albus rebuked his older brother sternly, before turning to me. “Every year, the staff appoints two seventh year students to be Head Girl and Boy. They help enforce rules, and they’re in charge of all the prefects—oh yeah, prefects are students too, we get appointed in fifth year.”
He pointed at his chest, where he had pinned his own prefect badge. I nodded, though I didn’t really understand why students had to be prefects. At Beauxbatons we had true prefects, adult wizards, not to mention the elves, who patrolled the hallways all night.
“So you do the patrolling and stuff?” I asked and he nodded. “So... after you’ve all gone to bed, the coast is completely clear?”
“I like the way you think!” James exclaimed, clapping me on the back. I automatically blushed, leaning in toward him, before realising how weird that would be...since I was a BOY!
“No!” Albus interrupted, sounding irritated. He didn’t seem to notice my weird behaviour, but Valentine was frowning at me. Merlin! I had to start being more careful. “There’s still Filch and Peeves.”
“Oh Al, you know they’re practically useless! Filch is retarded, and Peeves likes messing with Filch too much to do the right thing,” James replied dismissively. “Anyway, back to the real topic. How was she?”
“Who?” I asked, hoping he might be asking about me—er, Viola. Absurd, I know.
“Olivia!” he answered, bouncing in his seat. All three boys on the other side of the compartment rolled their eyes again.
“Oh. Um…well, she was crying,” I said. Valentine screwed up his face. Typical boys, so afraid of emotions.
“Oh no, I should cheer her up!” He immediately jumped up, but both Valentine and Cedric pushed him back into his seat.
“She doesn’t want to see you,” Valentine said bluntly. Ouch. “She wasn’t interested in you last year, when she was still happy and nice, and she won’t be interested in you this year, when she’s sad and all screwed-up about losing her brother. Come on mate, you have so many other options!”
“But I don’t want anyone else. She’s the one, whether she’s too hurt right now to see it or not. I want to be there for her,” James finished, blushing. How could he be so hot and so sweet at the same time? Help me! Before I start melting!
“That’s so sweet!” I squealed, and reached out to put my hand on his, before coming to my senses and pulling it back quickly. Be a man, Viola!
“I mean, yeah...” James mumbled awkwardly, manning up as well. “She’s the hottest girl in school. We should be together.”
And with that assuredly masculine statement, the conversation was dropped. I returned to my Daily Prophet. I’d already read it five times, but still.
“I wonder who’ll be Head Boy,” Valentine inquired suddenly, sending James a measured look. James glanced up from his own magazine (about quidditch of course).
“Andrew Knight,” Albus answered casually. “From Hufflepuf.”
“What?” James yelled. “That daft prat? He’s even more stupid than Filch.”
“And he has a crush on Olivia,” Cedric piped up with a sly grin, glancing at me. Ah, that explained James’ reaction.
“Yeah, and so does half the male population of Hogwarts. Deal with it,” Albus snapped at his brother, before getting up and leaving the compartment abruptly.
“He’s going to a prefects’ meeting,” Cedric explained to me quietly, as James continued to bellow insults at this Andrew person.
That was basically how every discussion went for the rest of the ride. Each conversation, no matter what the subject, ended with James preaching on and on about his unsurpassable goddess of perfection, Olivia. I could already feel my butterflies dropping dead one by one as the train started to slow.
Suddenly, the boys got up and reached for their trunks, saying that we should get changed, because we would be arriving any moment. My eyes widened, and I immediately looked to my right, only to find that the face-sucking girl had disappeared, along with Tim. I hadn’t even noticed. And now here I was, the only girl among three of the hottest boys at Hogwarts, about to change!
This should be a dream come true, Viola, just try not to stare at James the entire time.
Oh yes, there he goes! my brain shouted at me, as James took off his shirt, revealing his godlike chest and abs.
“Aren’t you going to change?” Cedric asked me, standing there with his chest bare as well.
“Right...yeah, of course.” I got up and turned away from the boys, taking a moment to clear my head. I opened my trunk and pulled out my robes, suddenly feeling very self-conscious.
This isn’t even your body! I reasoned. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. And Sebastian’s pretty fit...though actually, I hadn’t seen him naked since we were little. How did he look now? Was he well, er…endowed? I wondered, a small smile on my lips as I looked down.
When I turned around, it wasn’t just Sebastian’s stuff making me uncomfortable--Valentine’s junk was just a little too evident inside those boxers! I was barely able to hold back a spontaneous yelp, but just blushed furiously. I didn’t know where to look. I quickly pulled up my t-shirt to hide my scarlet face, but Valentine had already noticed, and was eyeing me questioningly. I changed quickly and clumsily, trying to act familiar with Sebastian’s body. I sat down again as the others did, and began tying my shoelace to avoid looking at them.
Luckily, no one questioned my weird behaviour, and it seemed that only Valentine had noticed. Once the train had stopped, and everyone was leaving the compartment, I hung back to take a deep swig of Polyjuice potion. It was going to be hard to remember to take it every hour. I quickly shoved the potion into my trunk and followed James into a carriage. I doubted it would ever budge, since there was nothing pulling it...but then it did.
A/N: Beta’d by wenderbender, seriously she had to help me a lot with this chapter! :) THANK YOU!