After about 15 minutes of wailing and sobbing, I went off to the nearest bathroom, taking care not to be seen by anyone. After checking that the loo I was in was empty, I looked at myself in the mirror. My tank top was soaked in sweat and my athletic shorts had a grass stain. My long hair was falling out of its ponytail and was a mess from me clutching at it when I was back in the niche. My cheeks were flushed and tearstained and my eyes, normally a bright turquoise, were now a deep, startling blue. They changed colors every time I cry.
Basically, I looked like a mess. I washed my face and fixed my hair, taking deep breaths to calm myself. Afterwards, my face was clean, with a slight, lingering pink tinge. If you overlooked the different colored eyes, I just looked like I’d had a thorough workout. Not like I had just been tortured by the ghost of my dead twin sister by James Potter.
I headed back to my dormitory to take a quick shower before going to the Great Hall. I arrived in time to see Mallory O’Donnell and Evie Stebbins leaving. I smiled at them briefly, keeping my eyes averted, in case they hadn’t returned to their normal hue. While I didn’t spend as much time with Mallory and Evie as I did with Alessia, Jessamy, and Rhiannon, we all got along fairly well. They waved before continuing on their way down the stairs and I entered our room to find my friends putting the finishing touches to their hair and makeup.
“Hey, Val, where have you been?” Jess asked, spotting me in the mirror as she put on her mascara.
Lessie, glancing over her shoulder as she tied a blue ribbon in her mahogany hair, smiled at me. “Went a run around the lake? Isn’t it a little soon to start those?”
I sighed, avoiding eye contact with any of them and nodded. “Yeah. Let me shower quickly before you guys head out. I’ll be ten minutes.”
“Of course you will,” Rhiannon quipped, straightening her skirt. “You spend the least amount of time on your appearance than any of us, but still can’t help but be twice as gorgeous. You can even pull off the sweaty and disgusting look.”
I laughed. “Gee, Rhiannon, that’s so flattering. Glad I can make disgusting look sexy.”
“Well, you can,” grumbled Jess, shooting me a playful glare.
Twenty minutes later, the four of us were eating in the Great Hall, halfway finished with our breakfast. We had been joined by Blake and Zeke, as well as a few of our other friends in seventh and fifth years. I was sitting, lost in my thoughts, as everyone chatted happily around me, when a commotion was caused over at the Gryffindor table. Roxy Weasley had shrieked loudly at something, and several other people were gasping in shock.
We all looked over, and I felt a surge of vindictive pleasure at the sight of James Potter sitting down, wincing in pain as he did so. It was clear he hadn’t been to the hospital wing after our little encounter by the Black Lake. There was dried blood on his face, his nose was crooked and flattened, and both of his eyes were beginning to bloom into what were sure to be fabulous bruises. He ignored all the worried questions and shrugged off offers to be helped to the hospital wing. It was clear by the way he was holding himself carefully that his ribs were in serious pain. I would have felt guilty if the bloody wanker didn’t deserve it so much.
“Merlin,” Zeke muttered, “What the hell happened to Potter?”
Jessamy frowned. “Yeah, seems odd, doesn’t it? Someone obviously doesn’t like his face too much.”
“Or his ribs,” said the ever observant Rhiannon. “Did you see how gingerly he was moving? They must have taken some damage somehow, too.”
Lessie was looking at me strangely. There was an appraising look to her eyes and her lips were pursed in thought. It was as though she was examining me for any unusual behavior. She was probably trying to see if James’ injured state upset me, since she was clearly still hung up on the idea that he and I were up to something together.
“Hmm, wonder how that happened? And why he hasn’t gone to the hospital wing?” I said lightly, glancing back at my half-finished plate of bacon, kippers, and toast.
“Yeah,” agreed Blake. “It’s not like him to draw attention to himself.”
“What do you mean?” asked Jess. I perked my ears in interest, but kept my expression only mildly curious, still aware of Lessie’s gaze.
“He’s right,” Rhiannon agreed. “Haven’t you noticed? James Potter prefers to fly under the radar. Most people would expect him to be conceited or attention-seeking, considering his entire family is famous, but he really seems like he’d rather be on his own or with his family and a select few other friends.”
I blinked, surprised to find that her observations were correct. Thinking back, James Potter had always shrugged of the crowds of girls who vied for his attention, and never hung around with that many other people. He was one of the most popular kids in school, yet he seemed to try and discourage that fact.
I frowned to myself. This image of James Potter that was presented to everyone else didn’t really match up with either of my encounters with him. He had been downright nasty back by the lake, and last year… well, I didn’t really want to think about that right now. And besides, who am I to judge a person for acting differently around other people than how they really might be?
Rhiannon, Jess, and Blake continued to discuss James’ injuries, while Zeke and I finished eating and Lessie just watched me. About 10 minutes later, Professor Morgan, Head of Ravenclaw House, came around with this year’s schedules. As I had gotten an O in all 11 of my O.W.L.s, I had little to worry about. After being cleared for the 7 classes I wished to continue taking, I went off to Ancient Runes with Jessamy and Zeke.
I was leaving my last class of the day, Charms, with the whole group when I heard a voice calling from being me.
“Val, hey! Wait up!”
I turned around, seeing Fred running down the corridor towards me. His dark hair was ruffled around his head and he looked nervous.
I put my hands on my hips. “Frederick Weasley. Shouldn’t you be leaving your own class? Typical Gryffindor, skiving off.”
“Okay, first of all,” Fred said, catching up to me, “my name is not Frederick. Second, I had a free period. You’re such a Ravenclaw.” I stuck my tongue out at him. “And third, I need to talk to you.”
“Oh, of course. Because we’re not talking at all right now,” I smiled.
Fred rolled his eyes. “I meant, talk to you alone, Oh Sarcastic One.”
I glanced back at Lessie, Jessamy, Rhiannon, Blake, and Zeke, who were watching me and Fred. The girls were looking on in interest, the boys with slightly wary expressions. Over-protective gits. I smiled at them and waved them ahead. They left, but Rhiannon had to pull Zeke away. Zeke had never really like Fred, as he was one of his rival Beaters. Stupid Quidditch prejudice.
I turned back to Fred and raised an eyebrow. “What’s up Fred? What do you need to talk about that’s so secretive and important?”
“We’re friend, right?” he asked abruptly. “I mean, like we talk and hang out and there’s nothing awkward between us?”
“Yeah…” I said slowly, narrowing my eyes slightly.
Fred ran a hand through his hair. “So, like, I can ask you an… unusual favor and it won’t be weird?”
I blinked. “What are you getting at, Fred? Am I going to want to punch you?”
“Nothing-nothing like that. It’s just… you’re friend, Moore. She isn’t, I mean like-look is she-“
“Spit it out, boy!”
“She isn’t dating Boot, is she?” he asked, his eyes narrowed in dislike. Yeah, Fred hated Zeke about as much as Zeke hated him. Prats.
I stared at Fred in understanding. “Oh my Merlin… you fancy Rhiannon, don’t you?”
“What? No! No, what gives you that idea? C’mon, Val, don’t be ridiculous,” Fred said, laughing uncomfortably. He kept his eyes averted, a slow flush creeping up his dark skin.
“Aha! You do! You do like her. Aw, Fredward, that is so cute!” I exclaimed, pinching his cheek and grinning at him.
“My name isn’t Fredward, either,” he muttered.
I threw my arm around Fred and began walking down the corridor. “Don’t worry, Fred-O, Rhiannon is currently unattached. In fact,” I continued, more to myself, “she hasn’t really talked about any guys since last March.”
“And she and Boot, I mean they just seem so close. I thought maybe…” Fred trailed off.
“Totally and completely platonic. They’ve been friends since they were eight. They’re more like brother and sister than anything.”
Fred smiled in relief. “Good. I just… I don’t know. Do you think you could help me win her over? I mean, would that be weird?”
“Fred, I think the two of you would be a great couple,” I said honestly. “And no, it wouldn’t be weird. In fact, I think it’s adorable that you’re asking me for help, Freddy-Weddy.”
Fred groaned. “Enough with the pet names, woman. I can tolerate Freddy, but seriously, these other odd names for me have got to stop. You’re always coming up with something weird or cutesy. It’s enough to make a guy want to hurl.”
I smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Alright Freddykins. My little Googlie Bear. Cutie-petutie.”
“Not interrupting something, am I?” came a cool, unemotional voice from behind us.
We both turned around, me removing my arm from Fred’s shoulders, and saw a disinterested-looking James Potter behind us. He still hadn’t been to the hospital wing, although he had cleaned the blood off his face. The promise of black eyes that I had seen earlier had fully appeared. Both of his eyes were a rather spectacular mixture of black, blue, and purple. I clenched my fist slightly, feeling an odd mixture of pride and guilt.
“Nah, man, just catching up with Val,” Fred said, looking uncomfortable. He glanced at me quickly, clearly warning me to say nothing of the subject matter we had previously been discussing.
James sneered, glancing at me as well, although his look was much more derisive. “Really, Fred? Didn’t you finish with that thing two years ago? Surely you can do better than Faith Sullivan.”
I flinched at the use of my first name and glared at him hatefully. “Don’t call me that, Potter, or I’ll break your nose. Oh wait,” I smirked, “looks like that’s already been done for me. So much for Quidditch skills. Aren’t you supposed to have something called reflexes? Oh, never mind. You’d need actual talent for that.”
James glared back at me, a muscle jumping in the corner of his mouth, but otherwise completely ignored my jibes. “What’s wrong with calling you Faith? Too real for a fake like yourself?”
“At least I’m not living off of Daddy’s fame,” I retorted. James’ face went flat and even Fred blanched a bit. It was a low blow. Everyone knew that all of the Potter’s wanted to establish themselves apart from their father’s notoriety. “See you around, Fred,” I said, spinning on my heels to head back to the Ravenclaw Tower.
“Stay joyful,” James called back to me in a sarcastically cheerful voice.
I froze. There it was again. Her name. I whipped back around, my eyes blazing in anger. James had a smug smirk on his face, his eyes glinting malevolently. Fred wore a confused and wary expression, looking back and forth between the two of us. My chest heaved up and down as I felt a familiar pain twist inside of me.
“Go fuck yourself,” I snarled before stalking back down the corridor. Those guilty feelings I’d had? Yeah, those were gone now.
There we go, longest chapter yet! It’s a bit of a filler chapter, but I needed to start working in some of the subplots. I thought about making some a bit more serious, but I figured Val’s past was dark enough. What do you think? And Fred and Rhiannon? Think they’ll work?
Anyways, the Googlie Bear nickname is from Monsters Inc. I don’t own that nor did I make it up.
Here’s the newest preview for chapter six!
“H-hi,” he stammered, looking nervous. “I’m-“
“Albus Potter, I know,” I cut in, still smiling.
He blinked in surprise. “Ho-how’d you know m-my name?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Well, besides the fact that I’m friends with half of your cousins, I’m pretty sure everyone knows who you are because of your dad. No matter how much you might hate it.”
Disclaimer: Anything cannon that you recognize is J.K. Rowling’s. The rest is all a figment of my bizarre mind.