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Life, Love, & Berries by xXMissGrangerXx
Chapter 14 : Jack Flint & Damien Smith: Born Slytherins
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 10


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Chapter 14.

 

The day passed, just full of exhaustion, running away, and tears. Perhaps less tears than yesterday, but tears all the same.

 

Today, I didn’t speak to anyone. I made sure my lips were forever sealed. No matter how much my friends chased, complained and shouted, they never opened.

 

They felt so lifelessly dry on my face compared to the moist patches around my eyes.

 

The next day after a bitter lunch in the great hall, I made my decision. As the Christmas vacation was nearing, I knew all too well that at some point I'd have to enter my dormitory and collect my belongings.

 

 When I saw Luiza and Teri on the Gryffindor table, talking animatedly at the other end from where I was out of view, I made an educated guess that Rose was somewhere in the library and chose this as my moment to escape.

 

I slipped out of the Great Hall, not one head turning to stare into my back. When I reached the fat lady, nerves racking through my body, I forced a reasonably alive looking expression.

 

“Children these days. You'd think they could at least try and look reasonably presentable. You look like you just rolled out of bed!”

 

I chose to ignore her, burying my fist in my mouth so I wouldn’t argue back, forcing my unkind vocabulary out from my brain. She huffed and stared at me expectantly.

 

That’s when it hit me. She was waiting for the password. And I didn’t know it…

   

“Er, I've been away from the school for quite a long time. Well like a couple of days or whatever. So you know…that means I missed the week change…where the password changes. As usual. And like er... obviously, because, from that I er... don't really know the password. Could you please allow me in?” I said weakly, putting on a pleading smile for her , as I fidgeted my hands.

  

“Not a chance! Miss West, I've been here for two-hundred and sixty-two years, and you think I've NEVER seen someone try and pull that one? In all the time I've been here, I stick to the rules, and you think you can just dance through my door without me even blinking? Well your wrong, kids, just who do they think they are? Running round here like they own the place-”

 

I let her continue with her boisterous rant, leaning against the banister to rail, loosing will to stand. I wish she could calm down. As if she never let anyone in without a password. I'd like to see her face if I mentioned the much rumoured time when Sirius Black entered the castle for Pettigrew. She might just have a heart attack and a half.

 

I stood there for probably 10 minutes as she prattled on about her hate for children and what-not, as I drifted off, miserable memories of my mother, creeping into my mind. I sank back against the banister rail in despair, slowly, sinking to the floor.

 

Just when I thought all happiness had drained from body, like some life-sucking-kissing dementor finally arriving to take my precious memories and reasons to live away, and I was even prepared to jump over the banister, something happened.

 

And guess what it was?

 

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

NOTHING came to save me.

NOTHING came to get me into the common room.

 And NOTHING came to SHUT HER ASS FACE.

 

You can tell this wasn’t one of my cheerful days. Those days are a very rare specimen. You should value them.

 

“Felix Felicis.”

 

WHAT THE FU-

 

Ok, sorry, pardon my language, ickle ones.

  I spun round to the source of the voice, a spark of hope glinting in my eyes. I lifted my body from the lifeless ragdoll position and practically jumped back instantly. The flicker was soon burnt out and dead before I could fully comprehend who was staring down at me.

  MEEP!

  WHY ALBUS POTTER OF ALL PEOPLE? WHY ALBUS WHY ALBUS WHY?!

My body shuddered as he stared at me with an intent blank expression, his green eyes scanning my face, as if searching for something. Whatever he was looking for, I could tell he couldn’t find it because he looked away. Well, what could I do? Try and look normal rather than staring at the floor with face flushed and ears burning hot as I peeped through my curtain of hair up at him?

 

NO!

 

We walked into the old common room in silence, a room that would usually brighten up my day just from the scarlet and gold patterns on the walls and the bright furniture. Today was different. I couldn't resist stealing a glance of him before sheepishly glancing away. But when look at him from the drape of hair which divided us, I saw he was always looking at me intently, with an unreadable expression. I trembled with anxiety and anticipation for words that I prayed would leave his mouth.

  He’s got to say something. Of course he will! He wouldn’t just leave me hanging. Of course he’ll say something. Maybe he’ll ask why I won’t tell anyone anything. Maybe he’ll ask why I keep running away. Maybe he’ll beg to know. Maybe, he’ll tell me he loves me- WHAT? Never mind. It doesn’t matter. He’s going to say something. He’s got to.

  When we came to the bottom of the staircases where we were to supposedly part ways after a six metre walk that seemed to take forever, I came to an abrupt stop and turned to him purposefully, impatiently waiting for him to say something.

  Say something Al.

  Say something clever.

  Say I’m an Idiot.

  Say I’m a bitch.

  Say I’m selfish.

  Say that you hate me.

  As tears were about to brim over at the silence, I bowed my head and couldn’t help but look up again. His dead eyes scanned the room, trying to look everywhere but at me, but now it was his turn to give up. His gaze ever so suddenly turned on me, a glint of guilt in his pretty emerald eyes before, to my utmost HORROR, he swept up the staircase, walking away from me.

    THAT WASN'T PART OF THE PLAN.

I didn’t know how to comprehend this. I lost control of any of my muscles as my jaw slackened and I gawked at his disappearing form.

 

Then power hit back with a thundering crack and I shut my mouth so the eavesdropping Gryffindors could never see my pain.

 

But people can’t eavesdrop when no one said anything.

 

My heart sank a little, sad, but was relieved, too. Then, I realised, I was angry. I was so angry I felt my body burning up. I was angry at Al. How dare he just walk away from me. How could he not even care for what was going on in my life? HOW DARE HE JUST- 

“Berry?”

 

Anxiety and hope twisted into a lightning bolt, striking me speechless. I looked back at his hesitant figure on the staircase. At this stage I was too muddled to be sure whether the spark bustling through the tension between us would burn out or burn bright.

  I have to say something. I have to speak.

What do I say?! OH YEAH, SUP ALBUS.

Stop being an idiot and SAY SOMETHING before it's too late!

“Er… no?” I choked up.

  I really am brilliant in my times of need. He just brushed off my abnormal behaviour.

  “I hope you’re... you know, ok.” And he disappeared.

  I didn’t hide my expression this time.

 

The room was waiting for me to say something. And this time I had no difficulty.

 

“What. Was. THAT?!”

 

Mental slap in the face. The room stared at me and I felt all hot again. I sucked in a gasp of air and sprinted up to the dormitory.

 

Six flights of stairs. I mean, you’d think, being the founders of Hogwarts and everything, that Godric Gryffindor would be clever, but no. Instead he thinks, just because we’re sixth years we'll have legs that are SIX TIMES THE SIZE OF LEGS OF FIRSTIES WITH STUPID CHUBY STICK LEGS WITH TOO MUCH FAT SLAPPED ON THEM?!And you think that means we don’t have feelings?  And did he think we like exercise?  

I’m not going to even answer that one Godric. Obviously, you don’t know anything about girls. ANYTHING

I panted heavily, but found the strength to silence my breathing and swallowed hard. I raised my hand, but became hesitant and dropped it.

  What if someone was in there?

  They won’t be you idiot.

  I rolled my eyes at myself and shuddered at the hollow sound as I pounded my fist against the door.

  No answer.

  I took that as my cue and strode in the room, my senses directing me straight to my trunk without having to look. But I froze in my tracks. I had seen a flicker of movement, slow, but steady from the corner of my eyes, almost as slow as breathing. With my body perched in an uncomfortable position half way across the room with one leg in the air, I slowly turned around, the breath leaving my body behind as I felt the icy presence of someone behind me.

 

The hairs on my spine tingled as shivers caressed down my back. My body shuddered violently as I slowly spun round on the balls of my feet.

 

Nothing could stop me from shrieking when I saw it. Even if it was nothing other than a seventeen year old girl giving me a the look you’d give a person when they just coughed up wrackspurts and said a giant tomato threw them out of the sky.

 

Not saying that has happened to me before.

 

After my long painful screech that sort of burned my throat after having said little all day, words left me as I gawked at none other than Emma Thirsk. Her tall frame was leaning against my four poster bed with a wand in her hand. She looked down and twisted it round in her palms, curling her nails around it for a tighter grip. She looked dangerous.

 

I staggered back and opened my mouth wide in horror.

 

She raised her brow.

 

“We need to talk.” She said, folding her arms. It reminded me of when she got angry at Jake when he dumped her.

 

This was not going to be good. Maybe if she just cut to the chase I could get this over with and the conversation that was about to take place would be forgotten. I gulped and felt the little strength left inside me crumble. She paused, waiting to see if I was going to answer. She stepped forward, her icy grey eyes staring bluntly down at me.

 

I remained silent.

 

“So you see, I don’t really know what went on between you and Albus at that ball thing, but it won’t happen again.”

 

The way she said that one word ‘won’t’ made my skin burn at the pure disgust in her tone. I opened my mouth to start spluttering how nothing happened AT all, but no words came out.

 

“-because since you left, things have changed. People find you strange. People have forgotten about you. And Al got a girlfriend-“

 

That last one burned.

 

“What!?” I said, this time with no hesitation before I spat out the word with hatred echoing just like hers had.

 

“Yeah,” She grinned, chewing her gum madly with satisfaction. “That’s right West. Only this morning he asked me out. Hope that crushes your ego.”

 

I felt my skin tremble, my hairs rise and my heart snapped.

 

“So… what do I care?” I finally managed after a long pause, mumbling incoherently as I shuffled my feet and stared at the floor. I held back the sniffles.

 

“Oh please, don’t be petty.” She said. I didn’t look up. All I heard was the loud movements of her mouth against that tortured piece of gum. Then a bubble popping.

 

I fiddled with my blouse.

 

“Well West, keep your hands off my guy, ‘cause I am not taking any nonsense from you.” She said and spat her gum out at my feet. My heart was becoming too heavy to hold, my knees were too weak stand, and my head felt lighter than air.

 

With all the effort, and the strain my body could take, I raised my head once more, tightened my ponytail, and strode over to get my trunk. I could hear her body swivel round to look at me in confusion. I swept my hand across my bedside table and let all my junk fall in to the trunk, not bothered to care anymore. I shut the trunk with a slam, zipped it harshly, and dragged the handle across the room, purposefully rolling the wheel over her foot. A few yards from the door, I stopped and pivoted round to her with my hair bouncing.

 

 “Emma, you remember when... when we became friends in second year? What... what happened?” I stuttered to a whisper. I hoped to see her weaken but she was only stronger.

 

She gave me hard, squint-eyed stare.

 

“You know what, you little bint? What happened, was that I grew up.”

 

Her words were viciously stabbing at my mind. Anger was rippling through my body, boiling in my blood. So many words came to head when she called me that. Tosser, plonker, ho, slut, ass to name but a few but I had to find something better. Something more powerful that would make her hairs rise, and her heart sink in absolute sorrow and emptiness because Berry West always made a dramatic exit. And nothing was going to stop me now.

 

“Hey, Emma?” I said in firm voice, that would, undoubtedly, make Luiza proud. “You know what you are? You’re a bitch. A plain, mean, bitch and nobody likes you or ever will. I hope that damages your ego.”

 

With that I turned back round, pulled the trunk, and slammed the door as I slowly wound down the spiral staircase, broom in hand, sudden tears streaking down my cheeks in ribbons. I didn’t understand what was going on anymore. My brain was just about ready to pass out from pressure.

 

I was meandering my way down through the world, step by weary step after the colossal fall.

 

***

 

I just hid there.

 

No one noticed me. I was tucked under that staircase, hidden; not that anyone would look for me.

 

“People find you strange. People have forgotten about you.”

    

I knew it was just a silly comment - something to wind me up - but that didn’t stop the forming terrors rolling round my head.

 

What if no one likes me? What if they find me annoying?

 

Of course they don’t find you annoying. You’re just unique, and you have lots of friends who care for you.

 

For once that tiny voice in my head was comforting and I wanted to believe it. I wanted to believe that everything was going to be okay.

 

But if they cared for me, where were they now?

 

***

 

Albus POV.

 

When I saw her today, now knowing why she’d been missing, it was impossible to just walk away.

 

She’d kept looking up at me, her eyes practically lifeless with damp red patches, her lips cut and swollen, her hair tangled and drooping, and her cheeks drained of colour, paler than ever.

 

It wasn’t just her features though. It was her whole expression. She looked like she’d seen death.

 

Oh… that was kind of obvious, wasn’t it?

 

At that thought I cringed. Berry was a bit naïve, innocent and dainty in her own way. The thought of her watching her mother pass away… it just made me want to find her and look after her, hold her forever.

 

I tried to comprehend what it would be like for my mum to die. I kept trying to picture it but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t live without my mum. I don’t care if people call me a poof. I couldn’t.

 

I’d met her mum on various occasions. She looked a lot like Berry, actually. They didn’t share the same hair colour, or eye colour, but their features were all the same. Berry inherited her height too. Every time Rose and I went to Ms West’s house, she always prioritised us and made sure we were satisfied. I’d liked Berry’s house a lot. The huge open spaces and the woods were boss.

 

I remember that one summer we went there, at the end of our fourth year. Merlin, it was hectic. Rose and I stayed at our own places for two weeks, as our parents, being parents, wanted to see us for a bit before we left for the whole summer, and the whole year. I remembered those first two weeks as being quite dull. I guess I was just too anticipated for a holiday somewhere other than the Burrow. Victoire escorted us to Berry’s front door using side-along apparation and ditched us rather quickly when she saw all the mud in the field next to us. I couldn’t help but laugh at the memory.

 

When Berry came out, we practically dropped dead. She was wearing normal clothes, a pale pink long sleeved low neck, and a pair of tracksuit bottoms. But she was covered head to toe, with bright, red, blood.

 

Rose had started shrieking

 

“Oh my Merlin! BERRY ARE YOU ALRIGHT?! SHOULD WE CALL ST.MUNGOS? WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DO I DO!? THE RATE YOU’RE LOSING BLOOD! HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY HAVE ANY LEFT? WHERE’S YOUR MUM? WE NEED TO GET YOU AN AMBULANCE!”

 

“My mum’s out Rose…” Berry said like she was bored.

 

Rose wasn’t the only one alarmed. Just when I was about to get my turn at the shrieking fit, Berry rolled her eyes as the stuff dripped from her head. She hoisted up her stained sleeves with finger and thumb, acting as if she didn’t really want to touch the red patches. And Rose started off again.

 

“AMBULANCE! AMBULANCE! WE NEED TO GET AN AMBULANCE! WHERE’S THE PHONE? WHERE’S THE PHONE!”

 

“Rose? Ahem. We’re wizards, remember? We don’t, use ambulances.” I said with a slightly worried gaze at my supposedly smart cousin.

 

“NEVER MIND THEN! I STILL NEED A PHONE-“  

 

“Oh calm down, you drama queen.” Berry finally said as she strode up towards us. I would’ve snorted at her use of the phrase if it weren’t in this situation.

 

“CALM DOWN? YOUR FREAKING DYING! THE BLOOD! THE BLOOD! LOOK AT ALL THE BLOOD-“

 

“IT’S NOT BLOOD!” Berry yelled at her, waving her hands in aggravation. Rose stopped running round in circles and turned to look at her. She stared at the liquid inquisitively and walked closer.

 

“What?” I said absolutely losing touch here.

 

“Oh Berry you haven’t…” Rose said looking at Berry like she was the most stupid, insane person on the face of the earth. She tilted her head, raised her eyes to the sky and moaned in annoyance.

 

I was still very much lost.

 

“Anyone want to kindly inform me of what’s going on?” I asked. Was I the only one who still thought Berry was about to pass out from blood loss?

 

I turned expectantly to Rose. She just rolled her eyes and gestured to Berry. Put out, I turned to Berry, impatiently.

 

“Well?” I demanded.

 

“I was making a cake.”

 

My muscles untensed.

 

“Because now you say that, it explains everything.” I said, my tone dripping with sarcasm. She shook her head at me, biting her lip.

 

“No, you idiot-“

 

How am I the idiot?

 

“-I sort of spilt some red food dye…” She said, holding up and empty bottle.

 

Oh the shame of knowing such a spaztastical person.  

 

I walked up to her, grabbed her wrists, stared into her eyes, and slowly spoke.

 

“You. Are an absolute, idiot.” I said eyes wide. She nodded, her eyes dilated hugely and I started snickering as we led her back into the house and started cleaning up her kitchen.

 

We settled in quickly, set up some beds in her room, and started making the place our own. When Berry’s mum was out she refused to have cereal as, I quote: “You don’t get chances like this often! Pancakes, waffles and other luxuries are compulsory on days like this!” Rose used to study a lot in the big study area that Berry had in her house, and Rose learnt how to use a computer. Berry and I would automatically avoid Rose when she got into that hyperactive mood for studying. We’d go down stairs and make three cups of coffee each (which left Berry, the lightweight, super hyperactive) and had races across the fields. Sometimes we’d all rent some bikes from a store nearby and cycle through the woods.

 

 When Berry and Rose invited me to go horse riding with them, I immediately refused claiming it was too girly for me. So I hung around in her room, and couldn’t help but go through her stuff. I did find some quite amusing things there. But soon enough, I was bored, living with all these girls, I needed some man time. So I might have possibly told Scorpius where we were even when I swore to Berry that the information would never reach him.

 

So of course, for the rest of the summer, people would drop by for a couple of nights, or maybe just for the day. One day it would be Luiza and Teri, the next Scorpius would drop by for a week and as a result, Berry would go absolutely crazy. Then maybe Jake and Will would come over or even Dom, Lily, or Louis. But I think in general Dominique and Berry have never really got on.

 

People were swearing, screaming, cackling, high on coffee or sugar, making sick minded jokes, starting rumours, stupid games, arguments, dares, magic, etc. I’m sure you could imagine a lot more that we did that summer. All I can say is that, it definitely was an eventful summer.

 

I missed that Berry.

 

Berry was one of those people who was a freaky, squealy, hyper psycho. She was meant to be happy. She was meant to be weird. She was meant to be absolutely shitting insane and stupid.

 

But she was not meant to be sad.

 

A frown on her face, tears in her eyes... they didn’t belong on that pretty face.

 

They didn’t belong there at all.

 

***

 

Berry POV.

 

The day after that, Thursday, the day before the term ended, the whole school was alive with Christmas cheer. I, however, couldn't even remember the magical feeling Christmas held for the world.

 

Bonnie had been very difficult this morning, wailing throughout the early hours of the morning. McGonagall was better at calming kids,  using a cheering charm on her. This kind of made me feel sad and selfish. I'd realised recently that I hadn't spared much thought for my siblings. It was just me, me, me. It made me feel mean. So I thought I wanted to stop thinking about it.

 

 Yesterday, apparation class hadn't been so bad. I managed to actually apparate this time, but got my hand splinched. The pain was almost unbearable.

 

Today I talked a bit to Lily. I didn’t tell her anything of course. Neither did she beg to know. We just talked casually about random stuff. She droned on into a long conversation about boys, and within a couple of minutes I felt too awkward to say anything. I just sat awkwardly on the Gryffindor bench, sitting on my hands with my body hesitant against leaning on her, which I so wanted to do. I needed sleep so badly; my eyes were shutting and opening. But instead I sat looking down at her with a dead expression, occasionally nodding and acknowledging what she said with a little ‘mhm’.

 

I went to the library at one point, now that I'd gotten my books back from the dormitory, I needed to catch up on some of the essays. That idea was soon dropped when I saw Emma and Al in the back corner, getting tangled up and I practically sprinted out the library.

 

It was true. They were ‘dating’. I hate that word. It just sounds so lame.

 

I wanted to hit Al. Where was he? Where was he when everyone chased me up to my dormitory till my only escape was to fly away on a broomstick leaving a crying Luiza? The only thing he’s said to me since we all were in the kitchen cupboards was ‘I hope you’re... you know, ok.” Well guess what Albus Potter? NO I’M NOT OK! HOW DARE HE THINK HE CAN JUST BARGE INTO MY LIFE SUDDENLY AFTER NOTHING AND SAY HE HOPES I’M OK? AND HE GOES AND STARTS DATING THE GIRL WHO’S JUST PUT THE CHERRY ON MY DEATH CAKE.

 

When I think back to the incident with Emma, I realised how sort of pathetic she sounded. The whole way she said it. She’s so fake, she’s practically a mannequin.

That thought makes me laugh.

  The pain about my mum still hasn’t settled in. I don’t like to mention it. I scolded myself yesterday for crying. I vowed to myself that I’d stop that. I hated crying. I hated the stupid water in my eyes that made my face swell. I hated other people pitying me. But then again, at the same time, I wanted them to pity me. I wanted them to come and look after me. I wanted them to be shocked. I wanted them to feel bad.

 

What kind of messed up person am I? I’m asking for my friends and when they come I run away. And now I want them to feel bad. I really am awful.

 

I was walking down and down through the castle, till I realised I was lurking round through the dungeons. I swear the very place has an enchanted aura of misery, making anyone drown in their sorrows. I shouldn’t be here. I don’t like Slytherin. Sure I smash ’em and tease them like hell on the Quidditch pitch, but I never liked being alone in front of them, especially the captain of the Slytherin team. I always make sure I’m around someone when I so much as brush past him.

 

I heard a dripping noise, echoing through the dark murky corridors. Then footsteps. My heart sped up instantly, and I heard the blood pulsing round manically through my head.

 

Should I hide?

 

Too late.  A figure had already rounded the corner and their eyes were set straight on me. Ice blue eyes. Staring. The figure walked forward as I just stood there my leg wavering in the air where I’d left it from walking. Eventually I lost my balance and half collapsed to the floor but got up quickly in embarrassment.

 

It’s just a Slytherin. They’re not going to kill you.

 

But when I got up the person was right in front of me. And it wasn’t a Slytherin at all, as they were wearing bright gold and scarlett robes. I breathed in so quickly I might have passed out.

 

“Tom, what are you doing here?” I said, out of breath as If I’d just run a marathon. Like that would happen…

 

“Hey Berry.” My brother said looking at me weirdly. To be honest, he looked a lot better now. He looked older, wiser, like he’d hardened up. I gulped at this.

 

“Hi.” I said lamely.

    

“Tom you shouldn’t be down here.”

 

“I know. I was looking for you.” He said calmly. I looked down with my shoulder sweeping low as usual.

 

“But then how did you find me?” I said with a bit of suspicion.

 

“Al let me borrow his Marauders map.”

 

I jumped up in alarm at that one. My eyes were wide, but I didn’t say anything. He shuffled around a bit and he spoke up again, like he was in a rush. He raked through his messy blonde hair with a hand.

 

“Berry, If you want I’ll go and stay at the… the… house tonight and you can stay at school. You’ve been doing a lot of work with looking after Bonnie and stuff, so I’ll stay there tonight and you can stay here with your friends and-“

 

“No.” I said so suddenly. I couldn’t think properly.

 

“What?” He said annoyed that he’d been interrupted, and shocked too.

 

“I said no.”

 

I didn’t mean to shout so loudly. He staggered back and I immediately regretted it. My hands felt sticky and I rubbed my forehead. I was freaking out.

 

“I’m sorry, Tom. You don’t need to. I’m fine. I don’t want you to go to the house. Stay here. I can’t stay here. No. That’d be wrong. I just can’t…”

 

I was already walking away. He scowled at me before walking back round the corner and out of site. I slid down against the wall of the dungeons and fell to the floor with my face in my hands. I stayed there for a while. Eventually, I took my wand out and performed a spell which rose up words of mist to tell me the time. 18:10. I had to be at the astronomy tower for apparation at half past. Resigned, I allowed myself two more minutes before I’d run out of this place as if there was a dragon on my tail.

 

“Did you see his face? Downright terrified, he was.” I was alarmed at the sudden voices echoing but I didn’t dare lift my head out of my curled up knees.

 

I heard a big clap and to my horror I realised that the two people were giving a high five to each other to whatever they’d done to ‘he’.

 

“I get 10 sickles from Bullstrode now.” One said to the other smugly. I breathed in deeply. The footsteps were coming closer. Hopefully they’d just walk past. And maybe they wouldn’t see me at all. I tried to become smaller, maybe if I was lucky, the wall would swallow me away for no one to see me again.

 

But it didn’t.

 

Damn, just my luck.

 

The boys, I could tell by the deep voices, were talking casually, but that suddenly came to a stop as well as the footsteps, making my hackles rise.

 

I don’t even know what a hackle is. I just knew that they rose.

 

“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” One said dangerously to their opponent.

 

Shit.

 

I gulped, too timid to look up

 

“Is that a Weasley?”

 

I nearly lost control and burst out laughing at that one. I felt cold though. I didn’t have my robes on, only the blouse, a tie, and a skirt. Not even tights. Am I an idiot? It’s winter and I forgot to put on a bloody pair of tights?

 

“Not a Weasley, I don’t think, but definitely a Gryffindor.”

 

I felt infuriated (as I would) that they were talking about me as If I wasn’t even there. So naturally, being the absolute IDIOT that I am, I got up with a glare set into my expression, ready to go absolute ape-shit on them for insulting my Gryffindor race and my Weasley friends. But I nearly lost my balance entirely when I recognised their hard faces.

 

It was none other than Damien Smith and Jack Flint. The two Slytherin beaters. 

 

They were my match. The guys Scorpius and I absolutely smashed on that pitch. Even though we were Sixth years and they were Sevenths. But alone, without Malfoy, without a bat, without the pitch and the adrenaline, I was nothing.

 

No match for them.

 

Damien Smith was a little taller than Jack, even if they were heads taller than me. Damien was more lean and towering. But I think Jack Flint was scarier to look at. With height and huge muscles and what was most definitely fat, he was clearly the more dominant of the pair. He had dark grey eyes that glared into mine, challengingly. Smith snickered as my heart practically failed where as Flint wore a dark smirk. They were worse than any high school bullies you’d meet. I tried to get my breathing steady and tried to stop my body rocking back and forth in fear. I tried to get my head clear.

 

“Berry West; the failed, midget, Gryffindor beater.”

 

 “I’m hardly failed if our team wins and yours doesn’t…” I stuttered, hoping my voice would come out solid and strong, but it just strained to a whisper of denial.

 

“The girl who disappears. The girl with problems.”

 

“Mental and physical.” Damien chuckled.

 

I brushed it off. Everyone said I had mental problems, right? But this time it was in a hateful way.  I swallowed. I was going to get out of here unscarred. I was determined. Nothing would stop me leaving now.

 

I narrowed my eyes and mastered the best glare I could hold, muttering ‘dickheads’ quite clearly as I stormed off down the corridor. I didn’t hear any footsteps follow. Inside, I think I gave a weak smile of pleasure. But that spark died when I felt their presence, right in front of me, and the wind of the movement still flying through my hair. I gasped slightly and looked up with big dilated eyes in terror, mouth hanging open slightly.

 

“That’s right Weasley. Watch that tongue.” Flint remarked.

 

I scowled in annoyance and confusion.

 

“I’m not a Weasley…”

 

“Well you’re practically built as one aren’t you? Pretty much born as one.” Smith sneered. I didn’t glare, I was bursting with pride.

 

“I’m flattered.” I said with an easy fake smile, it was one way to tick him off.

 

Smith glared, angry I’d ruined the joke but before I could even look at Jack’s expression, I felt a massive blow to the head. I automatically crumbled back down to the floor.

 

“You stay there, West. And don’t you dare get up in my face again.” Flint said, flexing his fist that had just pounded my temple. My vision was going blurry.

 

“Keep on the ground, West. It’s where you belong.” The other said. I heard footsteps again. But they were leaving. I felt dizzy. But I got up all the same.

 

I hated Slytherin with a burning, raging, passion.

 

***

 

After many steps and falls I finally reached the astronomy tower, ready to become a real icicle.

 

I burst into the warm heated room where Hermione sat impatiently, clearly annoyed at my bad timing.

 

“Berry, it’s been ten minutes.” She said, put out, but not angry. She pushed a brown curl behind her ear, a small tuft that kept falling out of her tight pony tail.

 

“I’m really sorry!” I choked up. “I got delayed…”

 

“What happened to your head?” She demanded instantly, bounding towards me with a mother’s hand.

 

She held my head and I felt her cool hands touch my hair and my ears.

 

“I  fell over.”

 

It was believable.

 

“You’re a really clumsy one aren’t you?” She said with a tone of complaint but with a motherly caring spot of concern too.

 

I was shocked at all the motherliness.

 

“Sorry.” I said, a bit caught off guard. But she wasn’t listening as she was already chanting a healing spell on my head.

 

“It will be okay now, just a bit of a bruise to come. She said with a half smile. It still hurt a lot.

 

“Thanks, Hermione.” I said greatfully.

 

We got on with the lesson and after a couple more goes, I actually apparated successfully.

 

“Well done Berry!” She exclaimed excitedly. She gave me a rushed squeeze of a hug. I smiled at her. “Try again.” She said.

 

I did it again, concentrating fully on the hoop, and spinning round till I fell into place, the plastic yellow ring circling my feet.

 

“Excellent! Berry, you’re really getting along with this. If you can practice that at home we can organise your exam even earlier!” She said, but the smiles died a way as I thought of home.

 

Home. I had no home.

 

That farm was gone and sold. She walked up to me with concern in her eyes again.

 

We both sat down on the wooden chairs in silence as I sulked. She looked like she wanted to say something, but it wasn’t going to come out.

 

“My home’s gone.” I said, my voice alarming my ears, as I hadn’t planned to say something. Verbal diarrhoea - it’s a case that will never leave me. I do sincerely hope it’s not contagious; Mrs Weasley already rants enough rubbish, too much for her own good. And at least hers actually makes sense.

 

She looked up at me biting her lip. She didn’t know what to say.

 

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sulk. It’s just; you know what’s happened…”

 

She nodded. Rather than shock I felt relief. I finally had confirmation that she understood what was going on. We sat there a long time.

 

“You know Berry. I just...” She stopped, and sighed. “I just worry about you. Honey, you’re...” She kept stopping, unsure of how to say it. “You’re going through a very difficult situation right now. You’re having a really rough time. I just…” Something was bugging her. She wanted to say it.

 

“Please, spit it out.” I couldn’t help myself, I was growing impatient.

 

“Just please confirm with me that your staying somewhere decent this Christmas!” She gasped. I couldn’t help but feel a little tingle of my cheek muscles, wanting to smile with warmth. I spared her a little grin.

 

“Yes, Mrs Weasley. I’m staying in Hogsmeade, a little flat above Scrivenshaft’s. I’m actually starting work there this weekend.”

 

She nodded relieved. Then she looked up, a half smile, set into her features once more.

 

“Scrivenshaft’s?” She asked with delight. Hermione loved the fact that I worked in a book store.

 

“Yeah.” I said lamely.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want to just stay at ours for Christmas? It’s such a sad time of year to be alone, and you’re only sixteen…”

 

“No. Honestly, I come of age on Christmas Eve. Then I can do the apparation exam and then my life will come together a bit. Besides, I haven’t really... talked to Rose yet.” I said sheepishly. “I don’t think I’m quite ready…”

 

“As long as your safe, sweetheart.” She said understandingly. “But I hope you won’t mind me dropping by to give you a little helping hand. You’re a sixteen year old girl alone in a shabby flat with no idea how to live after all.” She said, kissing my cheek, grabbing her clutch bag before apparating off.

 

I love Hermione.

 

She gives me hope.

 

A/N – O MY GAWD I KNOW ITS BEEN SO LONG I’M SO DREADFULLY SORRY! But hopefully, I think this chapter was worth it ;) The 6,000+ thousand words should make up for it :D I’m sorry it’s moving slowly, but next chapter Berry is headed off for a Christmas holiday where all the excitement begins! And hopefully, she’ll gradually kick back into her old life! PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE REVIEW!! :D hehe xxx
 


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