My name seems to be one of life’s cruelest forms of irony. In truth, there really wasn’t anything wrong with my name – it wasn’t anything wonky or overly embarrassing, although I’d never really liked it – but when you paired the name to me, it became a complete oxymoron. My name is Faith and I have none.
That is to say, I don’t have any faith. Not anymore, at least. My faith died at about the same time my Joy did. Joy was the name of my twin sister. How cliché, huh? I have an older sister, Hope, and an older brother, David.
Now, before you complain about David’s name, my psychotic parents named him David because they couldn’t think of an awful name for him, something that would match Hope, the oldest of us four, like Joy and Faith did. So they called him David for the express purpose of giving him the nickname Dave. Why? Because it rhymes with brave. Gag me.
My mom’s a Muggle, but dad is a Squib. Hope, David, and I all received magical ability. Joy didn’t. Maybe that’s why she got leukemia.
It probably seems odd, Joy and I being twins, but only me being a witch. Well, we’re fraternal. We look absolutely nothing alike. Joy got the same lightly tanned skin, glossy dark hair, and rich brown eyes as the rest of our family. I was the weirdo with the blond hair, blue eyes, and skin so white I made snow look grey.
Looks were pretty much the only difference between Joy and I. We both had the same bubbly outlook on life, propensity for sarcasm, and charming wit. We did everything together and everyone who met us loved us instantly. We were best friends.
Then Joy died.
It was very sudden. Joy and I were celebrating our tenth birthday with our family. We had all just finished eating our birthday cake and Joy and I had begun opening presents. We started off by exchanging the gifts we had gotten each other. I clearly remember Joy giggling as she handed me my present.
“This one is special, made just for you, Tina.”
Tina. That was the special nickname Joy had for me. I’d always hated my name, even before it had the connotations it now has, so Joy began calling me Tina, derived from my middle name, Valentina. Slowly, the rest of my family began calling me Tina as well, but it always meant more coming from Joy. My Joy.
I had taken the gift from her and had just begun to tear the paper when it happened. Joy collapsed onto all fours, vomiting blood, before falling unconscious. My parents rushed us all to the hospital, Hope and David trying to calm me down as I screamed and cried hysterically, clutching Joy’s hand desperately. I let go frantically when I saw the bruises blossoming from under my vice like grip.
The doctors told us that Joy had developed leukemia, cancer of the blood. Apparently, in chronic cases, warning signs and symptoms won’t always appear. It was an extremely severe case. Joy died two weeks later.
I spent those 14 days in the hospital, never leaving Joy’s side. I can remember praying and praying, promising to do anything, give anything, as long as my sister would be healthy again. As Joy’s condition grew worse, my praying intensified, but my faith wavered. On the last day, Joy took my hand, pain clouding her eyes, and said, “I love you, Tina.”
Tears streamed relentlessly from my eyes as I stared into hers, silently begging her not to leave me. Slowly, the light began to leave Joy’s eyes and her fingers slackened around mine. Her harsh, labored breathing slowly stilled and all forms of life deserted her. Joy died and I felt myself die alongside her.
Ever since that day, I’ve gone by Val, and I swore I would never again put my faith in anyone or anything.
I started Hogwarts the next year as a changed girl. By no means was I a bitter harpy. I was still mostly myself, nothing drastic enough to make my parents overly worried. I just smiled less, laughed rarely, and my sarcasm had more bite. I still charmed those around me, but I had grown more reserved, never really opening up and sharing myself with those around me. If anything, my aloofness drew others to me even more. Everyone in the school loved the mysterious, delightful little girl with the grace and presence of a woodland fairy.
I did eventually allow people to get close to me. I acted like I used to be, cheerful and outgoing. No one knew that it was just a cover. That's the way I wanted it to be. I told Hope and David not to spread word about the loss. Their friends knew, of course, but I wanted it kept from the whole school. I didn't need the pity.
I joined my brother and sister in Ravenclaw. I excelled in my classes, quickly becoming the top student in my year. In my second year, I joined the Quidditch team as a Chaser, became the highest scorer in third year, and helped Ravenclaw win the Quidditch Cup my fourth and fifth year.
I had a large group of friends, but I didn't actually feel close to any of them. I dated a little, but never had any serious boyfriends. On the outside, I seemed a popular, brilliant, athletic girl, full of life and loved by all. But in reality, I just existed, my soul twisted and dark, withering away in the absence of my Joy. My true self was long gone, I was merely a shell of who I used to be, a mockery of the personality that Joy and I once shared. No one really knew me, not the real me.
After Joy died, I built up walls around myself, protecting myself. Every time I closed my eyes, I'd see Joy’s beautiful face, wasting away as she died, wracked with pain as her body destroyed itself. I kept myself contained so I would never love someone like I loved her ever again. If I didn’t love anyone, I wouldn’t have to have faith. My faith was gone and I planned on keeping it that way. No one could break down my walls.
That is, until James Sirius Potter came crashing into them like a wrecking ball.