I came to after about three minutes – apparently I hit my head, judging from its throbbing – and there was a surprisingly large crowd gathered worriedly around me. My parents, Lessie, Mike, Jessamy, and Rhiannon were in a tight circle around me, looking anxious. Other friends had gathered about me as well, Priscilla Macmillan, Lorcan and Lysander Scamander, Rachelle Demoux, and various others. Maisie, Roxy, and Fred had rejoined the group. But most surprising was the man currently bending over me, concern showing in his vivid green eyes. Harry Potter.
The electric green sparkled as he looked at me. “That was quite the little tumble you took there. How’re you feeling?”
“Al-alright,” I mumbled, glancing around me. James stood on the outside of the group with the rest of his family. I met his eyes briefly and his gaze was inscrutable. I looked away quickly.
“Any idea what happened?” Mr. Potter asked, still looking a bit fretful.
I swallowed nervously, still fighting back the flashback that had put me in this situation. “Just felt a little faint. The heat, you know?”
“You sure that’s all?”
“I didn’t have much of a breakfast, either,” I said, still not meeting his eyes.
Mr. Potter smiled at me, before looking around at the group of people crowded around me. “Alright people, let’s back it up. Poor girl needs room to breathe.”
I murmured an embarrassed thanks to him as he helped me up. Everyone backed away except my parents, who rushed forward, my mother looking slightly frantic.
“Oh, sweetie, are you okay? Are you sick? If you don’t feel well we can take you to the hospital. I’m sure Headmistress McGonagal would arrange something for you,” my mother fussed, simultaneously trying to take my pulse and assess my temperature by laying her hand on my forehead.
“I’m fine, Mum,” I muttered. “Like I said, it’s just the heat, not enough to eat…” I trailed off as my dad placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Are you sure?” he asked, looking me in the eye seriously. “You know fainting can often be indicative of… other things.”
Joy’s crumpled body, surrounded by her blood on our living room floor on our tenth birthday flashed into my mind. I blanched, feeling the darkness, the… the hopelessness seize a tighter hold around me. I glared at my dad. “I said, I’m fine.”
My dad flinched at the sudden venom in my voice and my mum looked on the verge of tears. I shrugged off my dad’s hand before turning back to Mr. Potter.
“Thank you for your help, Mr. Potter,” I said, heaving a charming smile onto my face with a bit of difficulty. How dared my dad bring up Joy…
“No problem,” he replied, looking slightly confused and more than a little curious. “Just eat some chocolate on the train – it’ll make you feel better. You were lucky you didn’t get a concussion from the hit you took to your head. It’ll just be a little sore for a bit. You should also probably have Madam Pomfrey take a look at you, just in case.”
I nodded as he walked back to his own family. I looked at my parents for a moment before briefly hugging them both. “I’ll write to you, give Hope and David my love, and I’ll see you at Christmas,” I told them shortly. “Bye.”
And before either of them could say a word, I took off to the Hogwarts Express, towing my suitcase and my owl, Mathilda. I know that seems a bit harsh, but my parents should know better. I may have fooled everyone into thinking that I was okay, happy even, but any reference to Joy made me spin. When I’m around, she’s just not mentioned. I can feel her presence – or lack of presence – every second of everyday, tearing at my soul and tormenting me mercilessly. I didn’t need any more reminders.
I felt a pair of eyes burning on the back of my head. I tried to ignore it, but the intensity of the gaze compelled me to turn. I looked back and, for the third time today, I stared into the eyes of James Potter. He still wore an unfathomable expression, his eyes clouded with an unknowable emotion. I swallowed, hard, before deliberately turning away and continuing towards the train.
After attending the Prefect’s meeting, I quickly found Alessia, Jess, and Rhiannon in a compartment with Blake Rainemen and Zeke Boot, two fellow Ravenclaw Sixth years. I put my truck overhead before taking a seat between Zeke and Rhiannon.
And the Goddess has arrived!” cried Blake, causing everyone to roll their eyes. Blake was a notorious flirt, always trying to chat up every moving, breathing female he meets.
“Haven’t I told you to stop calling me that?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“But your beauty surpasses that of any mere mortal,” he protested playfully. “How can I not call you that when light and glory shines from your every orifice?”
I rolled my eyes once more before kicking him in the shin. I said I was charming; I never said I wasn’t violent.
“Bloody hell, woman!” Blake groaned, grabbing his leg. “What do you eat? It’s not natural for a girl to be that strong.”
“Excuse me?” I smirked. “You want to go there? I can make you cry and you know it.”
Zeke scoffed. “A bee sting could make Blake cry. Dude’s a pansy.”
“Please, like Val couldn’t make you cry too,” snorted Blake.
“Of course she couldn’t!” Zeke exclaimed defensively. “I am a manly man. Therefore, girls do not make me cry. No matter how beastly they are.”
“Beastly? Oh, you’re definitely asking for it now,” I mock growled, before launching myself at Zeke. He yelped as I crashed into him, and tried to pull away. I seized his arm and twisted it, holding it at a painful angle behind his back.
“Ow, Merlin!” Bloody hell, woman, let me go!” Zeke shrieked.
“I’m sorry, what was that Mr. Manly Man? I couldn’t hear your girlish cry over the sound of your shattering dignity,” I smirked, tweaking his arm a bit more amidst the giggling of Lessie, Jess, and Rhiannon and the laughter of Blake, which was bordering on hysterical.
Zeke yelped again before capitulating. “Alright, alright. You can beat up any bloke, any day, with both hands tied behind your back. And you’re not beastly. You’re beautiful and delicate like a rose. A rose with thorns. A lot of sharp, vicious thorns.”
I let go of his arm and returned to my place next to him, a smug look lingering on my face.
“You’re my hero, Val,” Jessamy said admiringly.
I rolled my eyes. “You guys over exaggerate my ‘glorious’ qualities, you know that? I’m not really as amazing as everyone makes me out to be.”
“Whatever you say, Val,” Rhiannon said appeasingly. I just shook my head and looked out the window on the door of our compartment.
Conversation swirled around me, mostly Blake flattering Lessie outrageously. Jess had pulled out a book, and Zeke, one of Ravenclaw’s Beaters, was discussing Quidditch with Rhiannon. I continued to stare blankly into the corridor, my mind wandering back to the incident on the platform, ignoring Lessie’s frequent glances in my direction.
James Potter. We really didn’t have much of a past. We were in the same year, but I’d never really talked to him. Sure, I’d dated Fred, his cousin, and was friends with several of his other cousins, but he and I had never really interacted. Until last year, that is. The memory sparked in my brain once more, and I felt it rankle there. I’d managed to push all thoughts of James Potter out of my head over the summer. But now that I was back at Hogwarts, there’d be no avoiding him.
A familiar head of messy black hair passed outside our compartment, and I jumped as James looked in, directly at me. Confrontation seemed evident in his eyes, as though he was just waiting for something to happen between us.
Yeah, this is definitely the end of avoidance.
So ends chapter three. Hmm, what is this mysterious event that took place between Val and James? So, what do you think? What happened? Also, do you like Lessie? How about the others? There isn’t a lot of interaction between them in this chapter or the next one, but they’ll be around more in chapter five. It will also feature the return of Fred.
Anyways, here’s another little preview of the next chapter, chapter four!
“So, do you want to tell me what’s going on between you and James Potter?”
“What? What are you even talking about?” I asked in fake confusion, although on the inside I was panicking. “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him before.” That was a lie, of course, but no one knew about the incident last May. There was no reason for Alessia to be suspicious.
Disclaimer: This is Jo’s world. I just wish I lived in it.