My skin has bruised from the impact on the ground two days ago. First it flushed an ugly black, but now it fades to greens and yellows and purples, a swirl of colours that an artist would be impressed with. I have to lie on my side, curled in a ball to stop them throbbing. Idly I trace the scars that litter my body, jagged edges on my wrists, the ridge on my face. There was a fresh wound, curving from the line of my eyebrow, stopping just short of the bottom of my cheekbone. Thinner than the other one. A prettier scar.
Slowly, easing the aches from my body, I stretch, then peel back the covers. I scoop up the pile of clothes off the end of the bed and trace the way to the bathroom, one hand outstretched to avoid colliding with anything in the dark dormitory. The bathroom door creaks a little as I push it shut, the latch clicking into place. I slide the bolt across, then turn.
The room was lighter than the dorm, early morning sun streaming through the thick windows. There was a line of sinks against one wall, and above them a long, toothpaste and water splashed mirror. It was edged with what looked like ivory, intricately carved and shaped in what once could have been some beauty. Many years of use, of tracing fingers, had worn the sharp edges away.
Methodically I change. Pulling off pyjamas, and even though I try not to, catching glimpses of myself in the mirror. Riddled with scars and bruises and fresh scratches; the non-damaged skin a pure, milky white. Eyes tired, mouth pressed into a thin line. My hair, which had once been a mass of bouncing, straw coloured curls, was growing limp, lighter. Nearer white than blonde.
Once dressed in my uniform, I brush my teeth, and then my hair, moving my arm carefully so as not to twinge the bruises on my back, or re-open the wound on my arm. I study my reflection as I did so, knocking my knuckles against the glass. Living ghost girl.
Then begins cover-up. Products to blend in my black eyes, to lessen the scar. Gloopy potions I'm supposed to rub into the wounds to aid their healing. I have to bite my lip to stop myself gasping as I apply the cool potion to the fresh wounds. It warms rapidly, the knife-sharp pain fading to a dull ache at the salves. I watch carefully as the wound on my face, from my eyebrow and slicing through my cheekbone, fades, red skin soothed to fade into the pale white. The only hint of the previous harm is a white, raised and puckered line.
Smoothing down my skirt (knee length, acceptable) I unlatch the door, stepping back into the dormitory. The rest of the girls are already stirring, with bed-mussed hair and sleep glued eyes. Vaguely they acknowledge me, with a smile or a nod. There's a loud, ear-splitting shriek as Emily leaps onto her best friend Lola, bouncing on her bed with an enthusiasm that only the small blonde could muster at such an hour.
“Darling, must you?” Georgina croaks from under her duvet, sticking her head out to glance pleadingly at the blonde. Emily grins, deftly leaping from Lola's bed to Georgina's, grabbing her duvet and ripping it off the bed. “Emily!” Georgina sat up quickly, grabbing in vain at the duvet as it disappeared off to Emily's bed as she bounces off.
“Bitch,” Lola grumbled from her bed, rolling herself in her duvet to prevent any unwanted theft.
“Bagsy bathroom!” Emily, dropping the duvet, attempts to bolt for the bathroom. The threat jolting her into action, Persephone intercepting neatly, the door slamming in Emily's face. “Percy!” she squeals in horror, hammering her fists on the wooden door.
“Shut up,” complains Harriet, a pair of owlish eyes appearing over the top of her trunk from where she was collecting her books. Emily rolls her eyes, theatrically stamping her foot.
“See you later,” I raise my voice over the grumpy morning bickering that was taking place, Georgina throwing in a few 'darlings!' for good measure as she attempted to hold the middle ground. A few byes were thrown my way, idly, barely noticed as I slip from the room, all my books and parchment in the leather satchel on my shoulder, thick robe folded over one arm.
Breakfast is quiet, everyone still preparing for the day ahead in their dorms. Dropping my bag under the table, I reach for some butter for the toast and have to suppress a gasp as the table dis into my tender ribs. Fine, no butter. It's not like I need it anyway. Resigned to eating the toast dry, my head shoots up as someone slid onto the bench across from me and pushes the butter dish within easy reach.
“Thanks,” my eyes met the green of my cousins'; eyes that made girls swoon, chatter about him behind his back. Albus was frowning, concern filling his eyes as he studies my face in the brazen, intense way he had. No doubt taking in the fresh scar. I feel self conscious as he does so, and set about vigorously applying butter to my toast and taking over exaggerated bites, chewing ferociously.
“You know,” I say conversationally, swallowing the toast. “I'm thinking about you know, slashing the other way next time. Make a little noughts and crosses board on my face.” I chatter inanely to fill the silence, picking the crusts off the toast. There was a gaping rift between Albus and I, one that just kept on growing.
“Dom...” his eyes move from the freshest scar to my eyes. His face twists with sympathy and that's what really gets me. He couldn't even find words, didn't know how to respond. He looked near horrified at my outburst. As if it was all my fault, that I'd wished this upon myself. Dropping the crusts on the plate, I grab my bag and hitch it onto my shoulder as I swing off the bench, marching away from Al and his sympathy and misplaced empathy.
I had an hour before my first class, Transfiguration. One of the best. There was nothing more satisfying than watching something transform, especially into something more beautiful than the original. Sometimes I wish it would work on myself, some spell that would make me better. Prettier, like Victoire. More confident, like Louis. More intelligent, like Rose. Healthier, like them all.
The grounds are deserted, a rare Autumn sun glow cast over them. I drop my bag from my shoulder, dragging it behind me. The lightening charm Rose had cast was beginning to wear off, and everything was so much effort. I was so tired, every limb aching. I'd barely eaten anything, but it would take hours before I even registered the dull thrum of hunger above every other pain.
The grass is warm when I sit on it, the gnarled bark of the tree scratching my back. The bruises flare for a moment before fading. Tilting my head to the sun, I close my eyes, wishing I could fade into the ground, the tree.
“Dom,” the ground is shaking. I'm trembling.
“Earthquake!” I squeak in surprise, fingers clenching at the ground – at grass?
“Dom!” it takes me a moment to place the Earthquake as a human shaking me by the shoulders.
“Shake me too hard,” I open my eyes slowly, then slammed them shut at the sun. “And I break. I'm fragile, remember?”
Rose sighs in exasperation. “Bullshit. You're being a tad overdramatic, don't you think? And a bitch to Al, it's not his fault.”
“Be nice,” I pout insincerely, grumpy at being woken up, annoyed at Rose's perception. “You have to be nice to me, I'm dy-”
“Bullshit, Dom. Now come on, Miss Sunshine.” Rose grabs my upper arm and hauls me to my feet, forcing me to open my eyes to the days glare so I don't fall on my face.
“Oh, hey, you brought a crowd.” I'm embarrassed, shooting Rose a look as I take in the crowd a few feet away. A Slytherin, two Gryffindors and two Hufflepuffs, and then, presumably Rose, the Ravenclaw. House unity at its best.
Rose lets me go once I was standing. She's all into tough love. Always the one to call up on bullshit or liars, never afraid of confrontation. But she's worried about her friends reactions, their opinions of me. Keeps shooting them little glances, half-smiles as if to say, I know, crazy right? But family calls. I recognise the boy who'd helped me up from the lake, and the blonde girl he'd been playing fanged frisbee with. She seems to catch me looking at him and moves closer.
Don't worry, sweetie. Guys tend to like girls who, I don't know, can possibly get through a few hours without falling asleep.
“What time is it?” I ask Rose.
“Twenty past ten.”
I swear vigorously, pressing the heel of my hand to my forehead. So, I'd missed Transfiguration. And would now have to run to get to Charms on time. Probably get a detention of Professor Valentine, who was new to the post and hadn't yet lost her enthusiasm. “Charms,” I explain to Rose's confusion, and she nods knowingly.
“I've got a free. I can walk you, if you want? Val loves me,” the boy offered suddenly. I shot a look to Rose and was about to accept his offer when the blonde girl jumps in.
“I'll come too, Finn” she enthuses, clapping her hands. “I've got Transfiguration right near there.”
“Okay,” Finn's looking at me like I should say something so I do.
Finn was right. Professor Valentine does love him. She simpered and barely noticed as I slipped in, half an hour late, to the back off her class. Just waved off his over-lavish apology, clasping her hands as he left.
“That boy,” she announces in a rare bout of emotion. “Is absolutely brilliant at Charms. You all,” here everybody got the beady eyed stare. “Could learn a thing or two.” Then, thankfully (I don't think our egos could take another battering) she turns back to the board, returning to explaining the dynamics of a Confundus Charm as I hasten to scribble everything I could down.