I was sitting at the Ravenclaw table on a Saturday morning. It was pretty early for the weekend, not quite 9:00, so I sat in solitude, with only a scattered few other people eating in the Great Hall. I reflected on my first week back. After both our little run-ins on the first day, I hadn’t seen James at all. Fred had asked me what our fight had been about, but I just shrugged noncommittally and asked him about Rhiannon. Honestly, that boy was just too cute. He got all shy and embarrassed whenever I brought her up.
I was shaken by my thoughts when Zeke plopped down on the bench opposite me. I looked up at him as he began pulling all the food in reach toward him and piling it up on his plate. Bloody animal. The boy never stopped eating. He began stuffing his mouth full to bursting. I raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t give me that look, Val,” he said, swallowing his half chewed food. Gross. “You eat like a bloke so you can’t make any comments about me.”
I rolled my eyes. “Zeke, I realize I may eat more than the average girl, but you, sir, are a bottomless pit. Your stomach is like a black hole.”
“More than the average girl?” Zeke asked incredulously. “You eat like a bloody monster! I can’t understand how you’re so skinny.”
“High metabolism. Quidditch. I’m muscular, not skinny. And what’s with you comparing me to unflattering things all the time? First, I ‘m a beast, now I’m a monster.”
“Speaking of Quidditch, Miss Captain, when’re you holding tryouts? I need a new partner since your brother left and we also need a new Seeker,” Zeke said, stuffing his face with bacon. Seriously, he just ate 17 pieces of bacon at once. Would it be ironic to call him a pig?
“Next Saturday,” I said, sipping some pumpkin juice. “Let Anna and Justin know if you see them before I do.” Anna Russel and Justin McFlanner were the other two Chasers on the team, both fourth years.
“Someone is going to die,” Lessie growled as she flung herself down on the seat next to me. She grabbed a piece of toast and bit it violently. He left eye was twitching and she glared at a plate of pancakes viciously, as though willing it to burst into flames. Lessie isn’t really a morning person.
“What is this?!” I gasped overdramatically. “Alessia Persephone Karalis, up before noon on a Saturday? Surely this is a sign of the apocalypse! Quick, Zeke! To the secret bunker!” I exclaimed, grabbing Zeke’s arm.
He started choking on his oatmeal and even Lessie, Mistress of Darkness and Hate, had to stop herself from smiling, although she continued to glare murderously at inanimate objects.
“Shut up, Faith Valentina Sullivan,” she grumbled.
I sobered up immediately. “Don’t call me that,” I snapped harshly.
Lessie flinched and looked at me apologetically. She knows I hate my first name, although not the entire reason why.
“Why is your middle name Valentina, anyway? That’s not even remotely Irish,” Zeke asked awkwardly, trying to break the tension. That boy can be a bit daft sometimes. Honestly, when recovering from an uncomfortable moment, it’s best to change the subject completely.
I smirked slightly. “Apparently, my parents were in Spain, celebrating their seventh anniversary, when I was conceived.” Zeke blanched. “My middle name is homage to that.”
“Right,” Zeke muttered, looking embarrassed. “Sorry I asked.”
Lessie looked back and forth between us before bursting out laughing, her previous bad humor apparently forgotten. Merlin, that girl is a rollercoaster.
I was leaving Defense Against the Dark Arts Tuesday afternoon when Professor Lupin called me back into the classroom. I smiled at him curiously as I walked back to his desk. He only started as a teacher last year, but I knew him pretty well as his fiancée, Victoire Weasly, is friends with my sister, Hope.
“Did you need something, Professor?” I asked politely. Outside school, I called him Teddy, but it wasn’t really appropriate at Hogwarts.
“Ah, yes, Miss Sullivan. First off, I wanted to congratulate you on your Defense O.W.L. You got the highest score since my godfather sat his exams.”
I blushed and smiled politely. It’s not every day your compared to the savior of the Wizarding world, even if his son is a git-faced jerk. Although I was good in every subject, I particularly excelled in D.A.D.A.
“As you are, without a doubt, my best student, I was hoping you could do me a favor. I have a fifth year student who is struggling quite a bit. I believe he could benefit greatly from a good tutor…?” he trailed off, looking at me appraisingly.
“I would be glad to be a tutor, Professor.”
Teddy – er, Professor Lupin – smiled at me. “Are you quite certain Miss Sullivan? After all, you must be busy with all your N.E.W.T. classes and prefect duties. Not to mention your new position as Quidditch captain. A well-deserved honor, I must say. I may have been a Gryffindor as a student, but your performance at last year’s Quidditch final was phenomenal. I found myself rooting for you against my former House!” He leaned down conspiratorially. “Don’t tell anyone.” He winked.
“Why, thank you, Professor. But really, it’d be no trouble at all to tutor a fifth year. I’d love to be able to help someone,” I said earnestly.
“Thank you very much. I’ll let him know so he can contact you about scheduling times to study.” Teddy began packing up his things, so, taking that as my dismissal, I turned to leave.
“Oh, and… Val?” he called hesitantly, losing the “Professor” persona he put on to amuse me whenever he talked to me in school. I turned back and saw that his warm brown eyes were looking at me in concern. “Take it easy, yeah?”
I nodded and left. I didn’t like that look he had given me. I couldn’t be sure, but I had my suspicions that he knew about Joy. I knew that Victoire, being friends with Hope, knew. But I also knew that Hope, for my sake, had asked her not to tell anyone. I shrugged it off before heading back to Ravenclaw Tower. It was only as I sat in the common room, working on a Transfiguration essay with Jessamy, that I realized Teddy hadn’t told me who it was I’d be tutoring.
“V-Val Sullivan?” came a tentative voice from behind me. It was later in the evening, and I was eating dinner with the girls and Blake. Zeke was in detention. Professor Longbottom had apparently not been amused when he’d told a couple of first year Slytherins that the Whomping Willow was a great place to study.
I turned around and met the distinctive emerald green eyes of Albus Potter. I smiled at him politely. “Yes?”
“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.”
Al tilted his head to the side. “Okay. How’d you know that?”
I just shrugged. “Observation, I guess. And, not to be rude, but did you need something?”
“Oh, yeah!” he said with a slight start. “Erm, you’re kind of my new tutor.”
“Wha-that’s you? Huh. Didn’t see that one coming,” I said in surprise.
Albus grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, Considering who my dad is, you’d think I’d be great at Defense Against the Dark Arts, but no such luck.”
“Hey,” I looked at him seriously. “You’re not your dad. No one should expect you to be.”
“You mean it? Wow. Thanks! No one’s ever said that to me before,” he said, smiling in earnest now. Okay. This kid is adorable.
“No problem. Does tomorrow in the library at 7:30 sound alright for your first tutoring session?”
Al grinned. “Yeah, thanks! I’ll see you then!” He walked away with a cheerful bounce in his step.
I turned back to my almost finished steak-and-kidney pie to find the girls all staring at me. Blake was too immersed in his food to pay attention to anything else. He and Zeke were cut from the same bale of cloth. At least Blake actually had manners, though.
Lessie was trying to hold back laughter, Jess was smiling, and Rhiannon looked contemplative. I just raised an eyebrow at the three of them and reached for some treacle tart. They continued looking at me until I finally sighed, and set down my cutlery. “What?”
“I think somebody liiiiiiikes you,” Lessie said in a singsong voice. Jessamy smiled even wider.
I rolled my eyes. “Oh, grow up. Tell her she’s crazy Rhiannon.”
She just shrugged. “It did seem like he did, a bit. But that also might be because you were so kind to him about his dad. I’m guessing not many people respond to him the way you did, so your more positive reaction may cause him to think that he likes you, when in fact, he really doesn’t know you and therefore has insufficient information to base his feelings upon.”
Lessie stared at her, mouth agape and even Blake stopped eating long enough to give her a baffled look. I just smiled. “Are you sure you’re not secretly a therapist in disguise? You’re so observant and insightful.”
“Bloody Merlin, Rhiannon,” Blake said. “How is it possible that you and Zeke get along so great. That bloke is incredibly thick.”
“Not really. He’s in Ravenclaw, therefore he has to be intelligent. Not that you should judge a person based upon the stereotypical qualities of their House. Or race, gender, or any other physical characteristic, for that matter.”
“I still say Albus Potter fancies Val,” Lessie piped up.
“Well,” I said, “Freddy’s about to pass by. Maybe I should ask him his thoughts on the matter. Hmm, what about that, Rhiannon?” I asked, shooting her a sly look.
Her cheeks had a faint pink tinge as she shrugged again. “Whatever you think. He’s your friend, after all.”
“And ex,” Blake muttered, shooting a suspicious look at the dark haired boy. He may not have a personal agenda against Fred like Zeke did, but he still didn’t particularly trust him. Wanker.
I swatted him on the arm. “Oh, never mind. I still say you’re crazy Lessie, but I guess I’ll see when I tutor him tomorrow.”
“Ooh, romantic,” Lessie grinned. I hit her as well. Bint.
I sat in a quiet corner in the Defense section of the library at half past 7, waiting for Albus. I had my old D.A.D.A. book from last year and the year before open in front of me. I had spent a free period today reviewing them so I would be prepared for whatever Al needed. He showed up after about a minute, looking apprehensive.
“Hi Al,” I said, smiling at him. “Sit down and let’s get started.”
“Al-alright,” he mumbled, not quite meeting my eyes. Ah. So he was back to the stuttering, was he?
“Hey, look at me,” I said kindly. He glanced up, shifting uncomfortably. “What’s up? There’s no need to be nervous. I don’t bite.”
“Yeah I know. I just… I couldn’t quite believe it when Teddy – er, Professor Lupin, that is – told me my tutor was going to be the most intimidating girl in the school,” he said with a slight blush.
I blinked. “Intimidating? I’m not intimidating… am I?”
Albus shrugged. “Well, yeah, kind of. I mean, you’re a genius, a brilliant Chaser, you’re totally gorgeous, and have a million friends. You’re kind of like… I dunno, untouchable, yeah? Like, you’re the Hogwarts Golden Girl. Everyone in this entire school loves you.”
Everyone in the school? Yeah, right. Have you met your brother? I thought wryly. But on the outside, I just laughed. “Al, please. I’m not scary. Seriously, the way people perceive me is utterly ridiculous. Honestly, if they all knew…” I trailed off uncertainly. What was I doing? Was I really going to tell Albus Potter my secret. Sure he seems like a nice kid, but so did James. See how that turned out.
Al smiled tentatively. “So, umm, Defense Against the Dark Arts, yeah? I’m really kind of hopeless at it, to be honest. I just, I dunno, can’t get the hang of it.”
“Not to worry, kiddo,” I said with a conspiratorial wink. “By the time I’m through with you, you’ll be a pro.”
“Woah, woah, woah,” I whipped around to find Fred grinning at me. “Are you trying to corrupt my baby cousin, Val? Tsk tsk, taking advantage of a fifth year. Some people just have no standards.”
“That’s true, I really don’t have standards. I mean, I dated you , didn’t I?” I smirked mischievously. “I don’t think I could stoop any lower.”
Fred grabbed his heart dramatically. “Oh, you wound me! And here I was, hoping you’d be willing to rekindle the flames of our love.”
“Oh, should I tell Rhiannon that?”
“Yeah, well… you just… shut up, Sullivan,” Fred grumbled, the predictable blush spreading across his cheeks.
I laughed as Albus looked on in confusion. “Fred? What’re you doing here?” he asked.
“I was actually hoping that I might be able to catch Val in a more agreeable mood so that I could interrogate her about that dear brother of yours Alby.”
“Alby?” I asked as Al blushed. “And you say my pet names are vomit-inducing.”
“See, Al? Every time I try to bring it up to her, she always changes the subject or glares at me as though she’s killing me in her mind.” I raised an eyebrow. “Guess I got lucky this time,” he continued in a stage whisper.
I looked at Fred, amused. “It’s like you want me to punch you.”
“Avoidance!” Fred sang. What is it with people and doing that today?
“Okay,” Albus said in frustration, “what am I missing?”
“Well, young Albert, your lovely tutor here is apparently in a bit of snit with your delightful brother, James. And frankly, I haven’t got a clue what it’s about. However, some very nasty, sometimes ambiguous, words were exchanged between the two. Quite mysterious, really. Val here absolutely refuses to mention it, and Jimmy Jams hasn’t really spoken to anyone, let alone me. In fact, I rather think he’s avoiding me. Most likely due to the fascinating discussion I witnessed between the two.”
“Ambiguous?” I asked, impressed. “What do you know? Freddy-Weddy really does have a brain.”
“You see! You see!” he shouted. “Why won’t you tell me?”
I was suddenly irritated. “Maybe I’m not telling you because it’s none of your business,” I growled softly, fixing Fred with a fierce glare. This, finally, seemed to pierce the jovial air he had about him. Fred gulped at the look I was giving him and Albus looked nervous once more.
I cleared my throat. “Now, if you don’t mind, Freddy, I’m supposed to be tutoring your cousin, so…” I flicked my hand at him, shooing him away. Fred just nodded, silent for once, and turned and left.
Taking a deep breath and rearranging my face into a more pleasant expression, I turned back to Albus. “Alright then. Defense.”
I arranged to begin meeting with Al for tutoring on Tuesday and Thursday nights. He was a bright kid, but something about D.A.D.A. just didn’t click in his mind. I was fairly certain, however, that after a couple weeks, he’d be fully capable. Al had reverted, yet again, to his stuttering after Fred left, probably because I’d intimidated him, despite my previous assurances. After a few minutes he managed to loosen up. I then found him to be a genuine, funny person. If I didn’t already know he and James were brothers, I never would have guessed, based on my experiences with the two. But I guess our respective first meetings were rather different.
It was odd. Despite being amicable with quite a few of the Weasleys, I’d never really talked to any of the Potters before now. James had always been a bit aloof and Al, it seemed, was rather shy until you got to know him. Lily, however, I did try to avoid. It was nothing personal, though. Lily Potter was bubbly, vivacious girl with a bit of fire to her personality. Frankly, she reminded me of myself – or rather, how I used to be. And that was exactly why I avoided her in the first place.
I had stayed in the library after Albus left, taking the opportunity to do some of my own Defense work. I was reading ahead in the textbook, researching dementors, when someone dropped down into the chair across from me. I glanced up at them idly and at first, I thought Albus had returned. But then I did a double take and saw that the face in front of me was sharper, more defined. The jaw was stronger and the eyes, not covered by glasses, were a golden hazel, not green. James.
“What do you want,” I all but snarled, my eyes narrowed with hostility. James, however, displayed none of the anger and dislike he’d had around me for the past week and a half. Instead, he wore the same guarded, unfathomable expression he’d given me at Platform 9 ¾.
“I think that’s a question you need to ask yourself,” James said, staring at me intently.
My breath caught in surprise. “What? What are you talking about?”
“You’re empty,” he spat, the anger suddenly returning. “You use people to try and make yourself feel whole again, but you never give anything back. You’re like a dementor,” he continued, gesturing at my open book. “You’re unable to sustain yourself, so you feed off of others. Sure, you’re not as harmful, but you think you won’t do damage? That Alessia and Boot and even Fred won’t be hurt when they find out?”
I started choking. I inhaled, but no air reached my lungs. My hands quivered and I stared at James, eyes wide. “No, that’s – you’ve got it wrong. That’s not – I don’t – it’s not for my benefit. I pretend for them, not in spite of them. It’s for them all. My parents, my siblings, everyone. I hide it all.”
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t,” James said, eyes blazing. “Stop being selfish. You think you’re doing it all for them, but you’re not. You just want to save yourself from more pain. Stop suppressing the memories. Do you think Joy would want you to forget all the good memories, just because she died?” He shook his head. “You’re pathetic.”
As he walked away, I just sat, transfixed to my spot. I could feel ice spreading through my veins and my bottom lip began to tremble. Suddenly, I bolted from the library, leaving behind all my books. I just ran and ran, blindly searching for somewhere, anywhere, that I could hide.
Eventually, I made it into a room. I had no idea what it was or where it was, but I didn’t care. I collapsed into a corner and huddled up into a ball. I gasped for breath and my entire body was shaking as I tried to restrain all the memories. But eventually, I knew that I was too weak and I succumbed. My surroundings seemed to blur and fade as the memories washed over me and took me away.
Okay, so yeah. How about that, over 3,000 words? I don’t really know where all that came from, but I’m pretty happy with it. I also ended up writing the very ending to the story today as well. Don’t worry, that won’t be any time soon, but I’m really glad I know exactly where everything is leading now.
So… what did you think? Al? Rhiannon and Fred? Lessie? And JAMES? Wow. I kind of surprised myself with that little bit at the end. So, do you think he was right? Or is he being too harsh?
Next chapter will have a flashback of everything that happened between Val and James in their fifth year. In fact, the whole chapter will be a sequence of flashbacks. This way, you’ll really get an idea of the relationship Val and Joy had.
Anyway, let me know what you think in a review! What you like, what could be improved, things that confuse you, things you think aren’t realistic, I want to know it all! Please? :)
I pressed my head closer to the door, desperate to hear more.
“Joy is nine years old. By then, Hope and Dave had already shown signs of magic. And Faith has shown so much, it’s rather shocking,” I heard my mum say in a concerned tone. “Joy, though… well, I guess we’ll have to accept that Faith is going to Hogwarts without her.”
I pulled away, stunned. Leave my Joy? Go away to school without my best friend? I’d just as soon cut myself down the middle and leave half of myself at home. Because that’s what Joy is. Half of who I am. Without her, I’d be nothing.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is a product of the brilliant mind of J.K Rowling. Finding Faith is a product of my mind. Whether you find it brilliant or not.