Chapter 2 : Aspen
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Black looked absolutely horrible on me. My black hair, straight as anything and utterly boring, blended into the fabric of my dress, my dark eyes only adding to the dreary appearance. I liked pastels and floral patterns; I didn’t do well with dark fabrics.
Yet I had no choice. I really could not have shown up to a funeral in a summery pink and yellow dress.
On my left, Sarah stood, looking the picture of solemnity. Her eyes were rimmed with dark makeup, her hair, red highlights scattered through it, hanging over her face in a way that irked me.
Sarah and I had never really got on very well. I was quiet, fairly reserved (at least until I met Dom), whilst she went out of her way to draw attention to herself, to rebel. I understood that, I suppose.
Sarah was a Squib.
It had been a big blow to Mum and Dad, though of course they had not said that out loud. I was 13 when Sarah was supposed to receive her letter. The look of disappointment on my parents' faces had quickly been masked, but I had seen it. Sarah had too.
They still loved her, of course, but it just was not the same. She didn’t get to share in the same experiences the rest of us had, and I think part of her resented us for that.
The rest of the funeral party stood solemnly, watching the grave descend into the earth. We’d chosen a Muggle funeral at the request of my grandparents.
There was quite a turnout at the funeral, apparently Cho Chang had made a lot of friends in her lifetime. A few other Hogwarts students that I recognized were there, accompanying their parents, but no one spoke to me. I didn’t like the isolation, the odd feeling of trying to act like everyone expected me to.
People expected me to break down, to cry. When I didn’t, they were shocked.
The service concluded, and Sarah and I each grasped one of father’s arms, escorting him back to the car. We drove home, the long succession of guests accompanying us, in the efforts of distracting and consoling us.
Funerals were never going to be fun -I detested every minute of that day, and everything it represented.
The weeks after the funeral passed in a haze. I spent most of my time at work, and when I wasn’t at work, I buried my nose in books. I cried a lot, and spent a lot of time curled up in my mother’s favourite chair.
She’d never really seen me as an achievement. She’d always wanted a daughter who would play Quidditch and follow in her footsteps. When I wasn’t that daughter, her hopes had moved to Sarah, but it wasn’t her either.
What was bothering me, however, was that I’d never really tried. As a child, I remember shrieking anytime I was higher than a foot off the ground.
I’d never worked to get past my fear. I’d let it stop me from even trying to fly. The flying lessons in first year had seen me blatantly refuse to pick up my broomstick, going so far as to cross my arms over my chest and sit down on the pavement in protest.
I thought back over everything my mother had ever wanted for me.
Now was the time, I decided, to get over my fear. I looked around at my mother’s belongings, my eyes zeroing on the small silver necklace with the golden snitch charm. She’d been given it by a friend, she never said who. I picked it up, watching the metal catch the sunlight.
Without really thinking, I clipped it around my neck, a figurative reminder of the promise I now hoped to keep.
I’d learn to fly. That was my summer project. Mother had always seen my obsession with wands as frivolous, as something that wouldn’t get me anywhere in life, and she was probably right. Quidditch was at least entertainment and exercise.
My resolve firm, I left the room, heading out to the broom shed that had lain untouched since her death. Pushing the creaky door open with one hand, shuddering at the sheer amount of spider webs surrounding me, I stepped inside.
I found Mum’s broom, but before I grabbed it, I quickly cast a ‘scourgify’ over the shed, getting rid of the worst of the dirt. I couldn’t deal with messes.
With that fixed, I grabbed the broom and headed out to the clearing for my first try. Practice makes perfect, after all.
The Burrow was a picture of light, family and happiness. Chatter streamed out the open doors and windows, the light summer breeze bringing the sounds of Roxanne’s birthday party to my ears, as I apparated directly onto the footpath.
I laughed slightly as Dom came careening out of the house, her long hair flying behind her.
“Hey, Dom.” I said, as she grabbed my hand and pulled me inside.
“Kris is here too.” She said with a smile, as we entered her kitchen. I summoned a butterbeer (I’d been around Dom long enough to know the Burrow quite well, let alone Shell Cottage), and turned to smile at Kristina Carpenter, another Hufflepuff from my year.
“Liv, hey.” She said, a sympathetic tone to her voice.
Inwardly, I cringed. She was going to try to be all understanding and console me, ask me how I was doing. Just like every other person did.
“I heard….about, well, you know.” She said, moving forward to hug me.
I stood in her awkward embrace, trying to find anything, anything at all to distract me. My eyes met someone’s over her shoulder, and took in the smirk.
Of course James Potter was watching this. Of course.
“How are you? If you need anything, I’m here, you know that right?” She said, pulling away, her voice slightly higher than usual, using the typical tone people used around those who were grieving.
I smiled in response, not trusting myself to speak. I hated being treated like I was breakable.
“I’m fine, Kris, really.” I said, trying to nod as reassuringly as I could.
I quickly moved away, catching her raised eyebrow out of the corner of my eye, but choosing not to acknowledge it.
Kris followed me out into the main area of the party, and we both watched as Dom flitted around amongst her relatives. As awkward as the previous moment between Kris and I had been, I was glad she was there, simply so I had someone else to talk to.
“So, Olivia Song, I see you decided to show up.” A voice drawled, the breath tickling the back of my neck.
Resisting the urge to shiver, I stepped forward, turning on my heel to come face to face with James Potter.
I swear, I’d seen more of that boy the past day that I’d ever seen in my years at Hogwarts.
“Well spotted, Potter.” I said, sarcasm dripping from my voice. Beside me, Kris sniggered.
“Had a fun day at work, I assume?” He said, leaning casually against the wall beside me, giving me the distinct impression that he wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon.
“It got a lot better after you left, funnily enough.”
That earned me a wry grin.
“Ah, Miss Song, you always manage to entertain me.” Potter said, looking me up and down.
“How on earth do I manage to do that? Before today, we’d barely had a decent conversation!”
Kris beside me snorted slightly at that, but we both ignored her.
“Let’s just say, Olivia, that I’m rather intrigued by you. You’ve changed this summer, and I don’t see any harm in getting to know my cousin’s friends a little better.”
With that, he tipped his head to me, winked at Kris, and made to saunter across the room.
Unfortunately, he crashed directly into his Aunt Angelina carrying a plate full of pumpkin pasties, which promptly flew up into the air, some sticking themselves to the ceiling, others landing on the floor, creating quite a mess.
I burst out laughing, as did several other people. James was rather well known for being a klutz.
The boy in question blushed a magnificent shade of Gryffindor red, glaring at his brother as Albus pointed and laughed from his position beside Scorpius Malfoy. Angelina simply glared, and James visibly cowered under her wrath. He quickly set about cleaning up the mess the pasties had caused, whilst the rest of us looked on in interested.
I saw Roxanne on the other side of the room, and decided to pay her my wishes – it was her birthday, after all, and it was only polite to with her a happy one.
An hour or so passed with no other exciting events, and I eventually resorted to questioning Kris about her summer escapades.
“So, Kris, anything interesting happen to you so far this summer?” I said as we hovered by the refreshment table.
“Caught Davies cheating on Morgana with Charlotte Coops last weekend whilst on a break.” She said casually, and I blanched.
Will Davies and Morgana Hootes had been dating for almost a year now, and, as far as I’d known up until now, they hadn’t had any problems. Davies seemed like a nice and honourable guy, too. I suppose you never knew what people were capable of.
“Wow.” Was the only response I could manage, and we both stood in stunned silence for a few moments until Dom joined us.
“Ugh, sorry, Fred wanted my opinion on his new version of Fainting Fancies.” She said with a wave of her hand, as if she was trying to brush it off as nothing.
“I saw James hanging around, he’s taken a liking to you, Liv.” She said, whilst grabbing a cauldron cake (and then proceeding to stuff her mouth full of it).
Dominique was definitely not the most graceful of the Weasleys. Victoire probably claimed that prize, as Rose liked to sulk in corners and glare angrily at people, whilst Lily was prone to random fits of giggles and was rather hyperactive when given sugar.
“He’s just annoying me, I’m sure he finds it entertaining.” I said mildly, though in truth I was wondering about his actions myself.
Dom raised an eyebrow at that.
“James isn’t like that.” She said shortly. “I think he probably just wants to show you that you have his support, after, well, you know, your mother. He’s not a cruel person, and you might as well give him a chance. Who knows, maybe he can help you with your little project.”
She winked at the last bit, and Kris’s attention was caught.
“What project?” She said eagerly, leaning in.
I groaned. Of course Dom brought it up at the first opportunity she had.
“I’m teaching myself to fly.”
Kris’s mouth fell open, and Dom smiled sneakily behind her. I glared once again.
“It’s not that big of a deal. It’s time I learnt how to do it, it’s in my blood after all.”
I turned away, helping myself to a Chocolate Frog, but I still heard Dom mutter to Kris:
“She’s only doing it because it’s what her mother wanted her to do.”
I forced myself to breathe and ignore them.
Yes, I was doing it for my mother. But it was the right thing to do.
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