Chapter 1 : Oh, Hogwarts
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A small girl walked alone through King’s Cross Station, pushing a trolley twice her size. She walked with purpose, looking completely at ease even though she was also completely alone. Her mom had told her to run straight through the wall between Platforms 9 and 10 to get to where she was supposed to be, Platform 9 ¾. While this sounded kind of wonky to her, she decided she didn’t really have a choice as her mom was long gone; sped down the street as soon as she was out of the car, in fact. Shrugging and bracing herself for impact, she set off at a brisk trot toward the brick wall. The girl was pleasantly surprised when she didn’t go crashing into the barrier, instead gliding effortlessly through and onto Platform 9 ¾. Huh. Her mother had been right for once.
The same girl, now much more grown up, strode through King’s Cross exactly 5 years later. The scene was eerily similar, she was alone and pushing a giant trolley. However, this time, she didn’t pause before rushing through the barrier, smiling contentedly for the first time that summer. She took in the scene as she stepped out onto the platform, appreciatively eyeing the scarlet steam engine and milling crowd. Aurora DiAngelo was almost home.
I stepped out onto Platform 9 ¾, taking in the noise and bustle that had been conspicuously absent from my summer. I only had about a minute to enjoy it before being swarmed by my friends, hugged and patted and assaulted by hellos.
“Aurora! I’ve missed you!’ my best friend Roxy cried, tightening her death grip around my waist. Meanwhile, our other best friend Rose squealed in my ear and wrapped her arms around my neck, efficiently cutting off my air supply. I laughed, squeezing both of them back.
“Slowly losing air, guys! You’re killing me!” I joked, prying myself lose only to be engulfed in a giant bear hug from Freddie Weasley, Roxy’s older brother.
“Baby Rory!” I swatted him playfully on the arm, wriggling out from his hug. He fake pouted and I grinned cheekily up at him, Freddie stood at least a head taller than me.
“I’ve missed you guys so much! How was your summer?!” I asked, linking arms with Rox and Rose and worming through the crowd, leaving Fred to deal with my trunk.
“Great!” Rox giggled, “I mentioned Marcus in my letters, didn’t I?”
I rolled my eyes, every single one of her letters had gushed over the boy she met while on vacation with her family in Italy. Roxy was such a flighty thing, apparently the boys couldn’t resist the charm of a 5’9” freaking super model.
No, really, Roxy was a babe. With her smooth skin the color of honey, chestnut brown hair, and caramel colored eyes, Rox had dated more guys in the past 6 months than most of the other 6th year girls had in their entire life. She definitely wasn’t one of ‘those girls,’ considering she had never actually…done the deed, but she had a tendency to flirt and moved from guy to guy quite quickly.
Rose, on the other hand was almost opposite. She had inherited the red Weasley hair, although it was a more muted shade than, say, her younger brother Hugo’s flaming curls. Instead, her hair was more auburn and she hid sparkling blue eyes behind chunky thick-framed glasses. Rose had spunk, there was no other word for it. She was quick-witted and had a bit more affinity for the rules, but she could also be a hell of a good time. They were my best friends; together we were unstoppable, unflappable, and I’m told, quite intimidating.
We boarded the train and managed to snag a good compartment, sprawling all over the place in order to save seats for our friends, and most of Rox and Rose’s family, actually. Roxy and Rose were cousins, and their family was huge. Oh, and famous, because their uncle was Harry Potter, Savior of the Wizarding World. I made him a button that said that one year for his birthday. He declared me his favorite niece, even though we’re not related and he has about half a dozen other nieces to choose from. Yeah, I like ‘Uncle’ Harry.
Weasleys and Potters slowly began to trickle in, starting with the offspring of the Savior of the Wizarding World himself. James Potter, Hogwarts resident Heartthrob, made a brief appearance for a kiss on the cheek before disappearing to find Fred and help him with all the trunks. James was like an older brother to me along with Freddie; I had more ‘siblings’ than someone who grew up an only child could ever hope for. Lily was a sweet girl a couple years younger than me, absolutely gorgeous and just the right amount of feisty. Albus, or Al, I didn’t actually know very well. He was fairly close to Rose and Roxy, and we were both in Gryffindor, so it was actually quite pathetic I had never taken the time to get to know him.
The rest of the Weasley clan dropped by eventually, greeting each other and exchanging pleasantries. In the end, Roxy, Rose, Fred, James, Albus and Dominique settled down in our compartment. Dom was in the year above me, same as Freddie and James. She was stunning, part veela and Ravenclaw. Although she could be a bit snotty to other people, I had never had a problem with her, something I was glad for since she was Head Girl. It always helps to have some authority on your side when you’re trying to get out of trouble, after all.
The train lurched forward and general chatter filled the small space. Roxy was still describing Marcus’s “sexily tousled hair,” to Rose who was good-naturedly ignoring her, so I struck up a conversation with Al.
“So,” I began. “you’re a Keeper, yeah?” I asked, knowing a good conversation about Quidditch would engage any normal boy. He grinned and ran a hand through his hair, leaning back against his seat.
“Sure am. Should be a great season if I can keep James from being a Quidditch Nazi. He made captain.” Al spoke with easy confidence, jerking a thumb toward his brother who was currently engaged in some sort of arm wrestling match with Freddie.
“Aw, and I was just thinking of finally trying out this year! Not with him as a captain!” I teased. If I knew James he would make one terrifying captain.
“Oh, really, what do you play?” he asked interestedly, an eyebrow rising slightly in surprise. I had never tried out for the Quidditch team before, simply because I hated the previous captain Lonny Wood. Or maybe it was her who hated me…either way, my waffle ended up sliding down her face during breakfast one day in 2nd year and the rest was history.
“I’m a Seeker, but I’m not sure if I’d actually make the team.” I admitted, I was slightly out of practice. Roxy finally surfaced from her Italian fantasy, and decided to intervene.
“You definitely would, Aurora. You’re an amazing Seeker.”
This, of course caught Mr. Captain’s attention, launching a discussion about the merits of a good Seeker and Gryffindor’s team chances this year. I didn’t mind that the conversation was taken out of my hands; it gave me the welcome chance to subtly stare at Al. Not that I’m creepy or anything, but he had definitely gotten more attractive over the summer. He had grown a few inches since I remembered; I’d guess he stood about 6 feet tall. His hair was a messy mop of raven, and he’d cut it shorter so it looked less like he’d stuck his finger in an electrical socket and more like he’d just rolled out of bed. Al had his father’s eyes, emerald green orbs that seemed to sparkle and reminded me of a rainforest or something equally cheesy. As I observed (read: stared creepily) he broke out into a laugh, and I noticed a single dimple poking out from one cheek. Oh, lord. Dimples. One bloke shouldn’t be allowed to have those eyes plus dimples. Yes, there was no denying it, Albus Potter was a huge hunk of man candy.
(Please forget I ever said that. Seriously.)
I was pulled from my thoughts by James, who turned to me and began outlining a training schedule for me before try-outs, so I would be “sure to make the team.” This kid wanted me to wake up 2 hours early before classes to run around the Black Lake and do crunches. There’s a reason we call him a Quidditch Nazi, you know.
“…and so I was thinking we could all have tri-weekly work outs! I’m planning on holding try-outs the second week of term so that would be six…probably enough, but if you want, Rory I can do some special daily stuff with you, too? I mean, it wouldn’t be too much, only a couple hours in the morning...” James rambled, too engrossed to notice the ‘are you crazy?’ look I was currently shooting his way. Al rolled his eyes at his older brother and grinned.
“Mate, we’ll do the tri-weekly thing--who even says tri-weekly anyway?—but you’d have to be crazy to wake up at 5.” He pointed out reasonably. I nodded my agreement, propping my legs up on James lap, who was sitting across from me.
“Agreed. You nut.”
James opened his mouth in apparent protest, but was interrupted by a high pitched squealing as the compartment door slammed open.
“Allieeeee!” The rather shrill voice of Naomi Ryan rang around the room and seemed to pierce my eardrums. Naomi flounced into the cramped space, flinging herself all over the lap of Albus Potter. Al, I noted, looked rather uncomfortable with the situation. He and Naomi had dated last year, but I heard they broke up about a week into the holidays.
“Er...hi, Naomi.” he politely tried to shove her off his lap while being subtle about it. It wasn’t really working; she had latched her arms around his neck and was behaving much like a barnacle.
“I’ve missed you sooooo much!” she giggled, though I’m not sure exactly what she found funny about the situation. The rest of us, who had been sitting in shocked silence since she arrived, cringed at her sickeningly sweet sounding giggle. Freddie was the first to come to his senses, attempting to pry her arms from poor Al.
“Didn’t you guys break up? Like, 2 months ago?” Roxy pointed out, looking faintly revolted. It looked like Al wanted to answer her, but he was currently being smothered by Naomi’s chest area. The she-devil in question giggled again, flipping her hair in a stereotypical blond way.
“No, silly! We just needed a rest!” Fred was finally successful in getting her off of Al, and she slipped onto the seat, squishing everyone else on that side of the compartment.
“Actually,” Al massaged his neck and moved as far away from her as possible on the bench seat, “I said if I could, I would arrest you for being so bloody annoying.”
Rose, Roxy and I snorted simultaneously, each of us in various degrees of concealed laughter. Roxy had stuffed her sleeve in her mouth, I had covered my mouth with a casual hand, and Rose was disguising hers (very poorly) as a coughing fit. Naomi swiveled her bottle-blond head in our direction and narrowed her overly made-up eyes before turning back to Al.
“Oh, you’re so funny!” she simpered, placing a hand on his leg.
“I don’t think he was joking.” James pointed out seriously, warily eyeing her razor sharp nails.
“Haha, very funny Jamie!” This girl apparently had a problem with saying people’s full names. “We love each other, don’t we Allie?!”
At this, Rose laughed openly, doubling over and slumping against Roxy next to her. Naomi glared at her and snapped,
“What’s your problem, Red?”
Tsk tsk. Rose hates being called Red, and it’s really not a great idea to make fun of red hair in a room full of Weasley’s. Just sayin’. Rose straightened up and wiped tears of mirth from her eyes.
“Oh, it’s just I think you dropped something, Naomi dear. It’s your dignity and can probably be found somewhere in the hall.” Rose smiled brightly and cocked her head in an endearing way, totally contradicting her snarky remark. Laughter bubbled from my lips and I quickly covered my mouth as Naomi’s head snapped to me.
“I don’t see what you find so funny.”
I scoffed, flicking my eyes from Naomi’s perfectly pedicured toes to her stiff, hair-sprayed hair.
“I find it funny how you think stuffing your bra and hiking up your skirt will make you pretty.” I drawled, adding a sweet smile just like Rose’s. Naomi’s mouth dropped open for a second, and she stood up wobbling on her 5 inch heels.
“I do not stuff—“ she began hotly, but Dom interrupted.
“10 points from…what House is she in, Al?”
“Hufflepuff.” Al’s nose wrinkled as he delivered the information.
“Hufflepuff, then. 10 points from Hufflepuff.” Dom finished coolly, drawing an emery board from her bag and filing a nail.
Naomi shrieked indignantly, flapping her hands about ridiculously and even stomping a foot. “Why?!?”
“You’re obnoxious. And pathetic.” Dom’s eyes never left her nails.
“You can’t take points for that, bitch!” The ‘naughty’ word sounded wrong dropping from Naomi’s sickly sweet lips. Dom looked up, for the first time meeting Naomi’s eye with a chilling, ice blue stare. She calmly raised one eyebrow, and Naomi literally shivered and toddled from the room, tossing her hair over her shoulder as she went. The door closed and all eyes turned to Al.
“Why did you ever date her anyway?” Roxy asked the question we were all wondering.
“She’s hot.” He stated simply, shrugging. Freddie and James nodded understandingly, and I rolled my eyes.
“She kind of makes me ashamed to be a blond.” I noted, fingering my golden locks.
“You know,” James got that look on his face like he was about to say something I wouldn’t like, “she kind of looks like you.”
And there it was. I shuddered and scrunched up my nose in disgust.
“Ew, please tell me you’re kidding.”
“Well, if you scrubbed off all her make-up and lost the stilettos, I can actually kind of see it.” Roxy remarked, looking thoughtful.
“Yeah...you’ve got the blond hair, but yours is natural of course. You’re like, 5’7” right? That’s probably how tall she is in those ridiculous heels. Blue eyes, but yours are prettier—more sparkly and brighter—yeah, there’s a resemblance.” Rose smirked.
“That’s the price of being beautiful, love. You look sort of like Naomi Ryan.” Roxy patted me on the head in fake sympathy.
I shook my head, refusing to accept the blasphemy, and Freddie was opening his mouth to presumably stick in his two-cents, but we were saved from any further arguing by the candy trolley lady poking her head through the door.
“Anything from the trolley, dears?” She asked kindly, gesturing to the array of sweets. All the boys jumped up from their seats, clambering over each other to get their sugar fix first. Ah, Hogwarts. It was good to be going back.
I groaned and flopped back on the comfortable bed, rubbing my stomach in an exaggerated way. Hogwarts feasts never failed to make me feel like I had just eaten three tons of concrete. Rose was going through similar ‘I feel so full I’m gonna burst’ rituals on her bed, and Roxy was the only one who wasn’t lounging on her bed like an overgrown hippo.
“Guys, I wanna go on an adventure.” She bounced up and down and waggled her eyebrows at us suggestively. My eyebrows shot up in alarm, Roxy wasn’t exactly known for her brilliant adventure ideas. They usually ended in detention, loss of House points, or public embarrassment. Or all three. (Truth or Dare the Drinking Game! A bunch of half-drunk 15 year olds stumbling through the castle after midnight…James tried to chat McGonagall up when we got caught last year.)
“Rox. It’s a Thursday. We have class tomorrow. 8 am.” Rose complained, knowing it was useless. We always ended up going along with Roxy’s stupid plans anyway.
“I think we should go swimming!” Roxy happily ignored Rose, clapping her hands together in excitement. “Yeah, swimming! In the Black Lake! It’s perfect!”
I rolled over and buried my face in a pillow. “The Black Lake is bloody freezing, Rox. And I think I forgot my swim suit.”
“You can borrow one of mine…and we have magic for a reason, Aurora. Heating Charm?” she twirled her wand in the air in a very ‘duh’ sort of way. I stayed silent, reveling the last seconds of comfort on my bed before I knew Roxy would pull me off. Sure enough, it seemed she had taken our silence as a yes and I was dragged off the bed about thirty seconds later.
Roxy unlocked her trunk with a flourish and it opened impressively, slowly raising 3 drawers of clothes. “Pick a suit.”
I thumbed through her many, many bikinis, and Rose joined me. It seemed as though only Roxy is crazy enough to bring her entire swimsuit collection with her to Hogwarts. Rose gingerly held up one of our options.
“Rox, why do you even have a gold bikini?” She crinkled her nose at the very thought. Roxy bobbed her shoulders up and down.
“Something I got for free, I think. Mum gets all sorts of stuff for advertising even though she’s retired.” Roxy’s mum used to be a pro Quidditch player, and she had a billion different advertising contracts. I grabbed a bright red bikini kind of like the one I had left at home and quickly changed into it, preforming a Heating Charm on myself and pulling on shorts and a t-shirt over. Rose decided on black with silver embellishments, and Roxy giggled as she tried on the gold suit.
“I’m wearing it. Do you think my brother will flip shit?”
“We’re inviting the boys?” Rose threw over her shoulder as she pulled her hair into a quick braid. I can’t braid to save my life, so I asked her to braid mine after hers, too.
“Yup. Might as well. I’d invite the other girls, too…but do you know where they went?”
She was referring to our roommates, brown haired twins, kind of quiet.
“I think they cleared out already.” I mused. “Personal record.” Molly and Minnie usually ended up living somewhere else during the school year; I think they stayed with the Ravenclaw girls in our year. For some unidentifiable reason, they were terrified of us. I swear we’ve never even done anything to them. They’re shameful Gryffindors.
“Hmm. Shameful Gryffindors.” Rose hummed as she finished off my braid. We’re so in sync, it’s almost scary. “Let’s go.” I hopped off the bed and exited the dorm after Roxy, who had presumably gone to get the guys. We’re going to get in so much trouble.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take much to get the boys to agree to come swimming with us. James and Freddie were in right away, along with their friend Shawn Jordan. Shawn was a tall, burly guy with curly hair and soft brown eyes. He was the sweetest boy until you got him on the Quidditch field, there he was a monster. Al came too, bringing his friend Luke Gold, a blond with blue eyes and one of the most sought-after 6th years at Hogwarts. So basically, it was 3 girls and 5 fan-freakin’-tastic looking guys, most of whom played Quidditch. I wasn’t complaining, especially because I wasn’t related to any of them and was therefore free to ab-ogle.
It was easy to get out of the castle; there was still 15 minutes until curfew started. It would be more difficult to get back in later, but that wasn’t really a concern right now. We trooped across the grounds, cool grass underfoot and twinkling stars overhead. I had to hand it to Roxy, this was actually kind of cool. I’m sure I would be cursing her tomorrow during class, but for now it was awesome. On the banks of the lake, we dropped our stuff, and the girls and I stripped off our outer layers of clothing. It was kind of unreal to be standing in a bikini and still feel warm, so I stood there for a second just marveling in magic. That is, until I realized fit boys had started to take off their shirts and there was something else to marvel at. I was a bit caught up in admiring Al’s abs (is it even possible for a 16 year old boy to be so…sculpted? Is that normal?!) when I felt myself being lifted off the ground by a strong set of arms. I shrieked a little and turned to find Freddie, grinning cheesily, and walking with me towards the lake.
“No. Ohh, no Freddie Weasley. Put me down. This second.” I warned carefully, noting that Rose and Roxy were receiving similar treatment from the other 7th years. Fred started laughing, his familiar booming laugh, and ruffled my hair a little.
“Oh, no Baby Rory. You’re goin’ in!” At the same time, James Shawn and Freddie tossed Roxy Rose and I into the lake, almost casually. There was a triple scream and then a huge splash as we all hit the water, bubbling and spluttering for air. I stood up in the chest deep water, wading toward the area where it only came up to my waist.
“Freddie! What the hell?!” my voice came out a lot more amused and a lot less angry as I wiped water from my eyes. He was still laughing, and took a running start before cannon-balling into the water. James, Shawn, Al and Luke followed suit, shouting “COWABUNGA!” before they hit the water. Freddie surfaced and shook water out of his hair, splattering me from where I stood 10 feet away.
“Well, what the hell are you wearing?” He asked cheekily. I laughed, answering,
“A swim suit, dumbarse! You should see your sister!” At this he spun around to face Roxy, who waved innocently, wringing out her soggy braid. We all watched interestedly as Fred’s face turned unnatural colors and his lips pressed themselves together in one very thin, very flat line.
“Roxy?” He began, his voice sounding very strained. “What. The. Hell?”
I giggled, watching Fred be overprotective was always so much fun. Roxy rolled her eyes and splashed her hands around a bit, while Rose sneakily swam up behind Shawn, presumably to get him back. I grinned at Rose and began to slowly move behind Fred, who was quite distracted arguing with Rox about her clothing choices. (Or lack of clothing…) He was just spluttering about how she was “a walking invitation to contract herpes” and I was inches form jumping on his back to force him under, when strong, warm arms wrapped around my waist, pulling me backwards.
“I don’t think so.”A playful voice growled into my ear.
I turned my head slightly to discern the dripping raven locks of none other than Al Potter, and couldn’t help but laugh. The attacker had become the attacked. He continued to pull me backward, eventually dunking me just like I had planned for Freddie. I rose above the surface of the water, pushing hair that had fallen out of my braid back form my eyes to see a war had broken out. Everyone was splashing about and jumping on each other and otherwise being generally childish.
“Chicken wars!!!” Freddie called out, stopping right in the middle of artistically decorating Luke’s air with lake guck. “I call Roxy!”
An arm shot out of nowhere, pulling me away. “I get Rora!” James bellowed, dragging me through the water. Shawn looked around, looking a little lost for a minute.
“Oh...I guess I get…Rose.” Shawn didn’t look too excited about this particular development.
“Hey!” she protested, “I’m good at this!”
All of us kind of looked around at each other before bursting out laughing.
“Rose, dear, you’re not aggressive enough for this.” I wisely pointed out, clambering on to James shoulders. She grumpily settled onto Shawn’s herself, mumbling something about ‘new friends.’
“I guess we judge then…” Luke started “Ready, set, GO!”
And then there were just 8 teenagers wrestling in the lake, illuminated by moonlight.
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