I gasped and felt the back of my head. As I held my fingers close to my eyes, I saw wet blood dripping. The leaves from the Whomping Willow flew in as the wind blew in. The wind felt nice, making my hot tears cold. I noticed that the sun was going down. I stumbled through the secret passage way. I lead myself to the Shrieking Shack, making sure no one was following me. The quiet helped but I had the feeling someone was there. I couldn’t have that happen again. I felt as if my paranoia was going to kill me before I would kill myself.
Approaching the Shrieking Shack, I saw how tattered it had gotten over the years. No thanks to me, I guess. My eyes wandered around the large center room. The whole window was missing. I guess that was my fault, too. My fingers ran along the dusty furniture. Dust collected onto my fingertips. I flicked the dust off with a whip of my wrist. I looked out the empty window frame, which looked like a doorway. I saw the altitude between the shack and the ground. I stooped down and sat on the edge.
It felt like hours since I had sat down. Soon the sun was going down and the moon was coming up. Both were full and were closely scrutinized by me. My bones felt stronger as I saw the moon off in the distance. I wasn’t scared anymore—anymore than I thought. That was what I kept telling myself. Every five minutes, I seemed to inhale deeper than before. It was when I heard the floorboards creaking when my heart stopped. I stood and waited for someone to come out of the darkness.
I felt a jolt of pain in my spine. I whimpered as I bent down on my knees. My fists punched through the brittle wood. I closed my eyes, trying to control the pain. As I felt the pain getting smaller, I saw a figure. I started hyperventilating, trying to speak, but nothing was coming out of my mouth. I was frozen.
“Victoria?” a voice rang out.
It hurt my ears. I tried to cover them, but my eyes wandered over to the figure. Oh no. Not again.
“Harry?” I tried to get out, but what I heard belonged to an animal.
“Are you okay?”
I managed to get up before any of the pain came back. I stood steadily, trying not to get too close to him. I could picture what my face looked like. It usually looked as if I was being beaten to death by something so innocent. The ragged tangles of my hair covered my eyes. The curse was coming back. I tried to fix my hair to make me look sane. As he walked closer to me, I backed away. He noticed what I was doing and cocked his head.
“Just go away.”
“Victoria, the problem can’t be that bad.”
“Go away, Harry, before you get hurt.”
Flashes from a year ago came into my mind. The same thing happened with Fred. But that ended with a happy ending. Harry looked past me and at the darkened sky with the moon covered by storm clouds, but that wouldn’t last. I glanced at the sky too, but for a different reason.
“Stay away from me…for your own good. Please,” I begged as I saw the moon peeking out of the clouds from the corner of my eye. They were moving away from the big silver circle that hung in the sky. The end of that sentence ended in a growl, but it wasn’t me. It was the thing inside of me.
The growl grew louder and I could feel the jaundice in my eyes grow larger. I shut my eyes so Harry couldn’t see them. But even the pain couldn’t subside. Bent down on my knees again, I could feel my skin being torn. As if I were awake for a surgery, I could feel a knife running down my back. I could hear my bones forming, cracking loudly. The thing I hated most about my transformations, the sounds of how I was an abomination. I couldn’t keep inside me anymore. I howled like the creature I was. My knees curved into a wolf’s, causing even more pain. Think about if you had ever had your bones break—the pain—multiply that by five.
I could see my skin turn to black fur. I could feel some of my ribs reforming as they always did; my arms were clenched around my stomach, trying to control myself. I couldn’t see Harry at all now. Hopefully he had ran away, but no. He was hiding in the corner of the room, waiting for me to leave. I didn’t want to hurt him; that was the last thing I wanted to do. I felt a loss of breath. My mind wasn’t my own anymore. It was a monster’s. I howled once more, making me feel the shack shake. The doorway that led to the forests of Hogwarts was the only way I could leave the shack without hurting Harry. And that’s what I did—well—that’s what I probably did. Jumping off of what felt like 100 feet felt relaxing. More than I had felt in a long while. Everything else was black.
Waking up was hard to do; it always was. For some reason, I always sleep through the next day. Looking in the mirror the next evening made me feel even more like crap and it didn’t exactly boost my self-esteem. But this time, it hurt to wake up. Literally. It felt like something had been slashed against my eye. The stinging was something I had felt as soon as I regained consciousness. I saw that I was once again in the nursery wing. Poppy was on the far end of the wing whereas I was on the opposite side. I gazed to my side and saw Fred sitting there with his head perched on his shoulder. I felt sorry for him for having a girlfriend who was…well, me.
I saw a mirror with the reflective side down sitting on the nightstand next to my cot. I reached out a hand to the golden handle, engraved patterns circling the edges. There I saw some of the damage of what I had done to myself by just looking at my hands. Multiple stitched up scars traced up my hands, leading to my arms. I could only be horrified by what my face looked like. If my hands looked this bad, oh goodness. I took in a breath and held the handle. Quickly, I spun the mirror around to face me and saw my reflection.
I gasped. It was worse than I thought. Both of my lips were busted, blood coming from the bottom—more swollen—lip. Analyzing my face made me feel awful. The close and tiny details made me feel like a monster. My eyes contained bags, perfectly purple, and scratches that started to bleed every time I moved. I winced looking at myself. Some of those won’t heal, I thought. I placed a hand to the back of my head, seeing if the wound from before had stopped bleeding. I could feel the bump from the wonderful Whomping Willow. I tried to breathe, inhaling and exhaling.
“It’s not that bad, love.”
I jumped and saw that Fred had woken up. I turned my head away, hopefully keeping him from seeing me bleeding down my face. I closed my eyes, trying to leave that world of problems. But, of course, it wasn’t all that easy. Fred put a gentle hand on my arm, pulling me to him. I turned back to him, reluctantly. Tears had come out of my eyes, but I did not recall wanting to cry. I had no emotion inside. I looked into his eyes, making me smile. It hurt, but that was made it even funnier. It hurt to smile.
“He saw me…transform. Harry did; he saw me. And I jumped out of the Shrieking Shack. It was a lot worse this time, Fred. I should’ve never had gotten so close to him. I should’ve just stayed with my brother and left it at that. Then none of this would’ve happened.”
“Victoria,” he started, getting my attention. “I think that you doing this is one of the bravest things you’ve ever done in your life. I’ve known you for seven years, about. I know you, and you doing all of this was inevitable. Harry needs you and you need him. Listen to me.”
“I am, Fred. I am.”
“You have to tell him. You know that? You should do this sooner rather than later, my dear. And then you and I can finish this business. And then we can run away together, like we planned.”
“No, darling. You planned that. Not me.”
He was silent. I had silenced the usually loud Fred Weasley. I just wanted to stay in that moment for the rest of my life. But, of course, it didn’t last long. Loud footsteps were approaching. I could hear them perfectly; my heartbeat became faster with each click. Click. Click. Click. Then, it just stopped. I could tell Fred was watching me carefully. Sweat was dripping down my skin. I closed my eyes, hoping whoever was there would just go away. Nothing—absolutely—nothing happened.
“Uh, love. I think you want to turn around.”
Trusting Fred, I slowly turned around. Hurting my back from the night before. Crap. There stood Hermione, all dressed up for a dinner party that Professor Dumbledore had hosted. She wore a soft turquoise dress. It was sleeveless and it drooped to her knees. Multiple layers of what seemed like tissue paper coated the small dress. Her hair was messy, even though she hated it. She had finally listened to me and let it down. I took a look at her and smiled weakly. Smiling hurt, too. I was a wreck. I closed my eyes, swallowed, and tried to look happy.
“Oh, Victoria. Madam Pomfrey told me what happened. Are you doing okay?” She sat at the end of my bed, trying not to mess up her dress.
“I’m totally fine. But look at you!” I coughed. “You’re very beautiful. So, are you nervous to be having dinner with Dumbledore?”
“Not really. Actually, word is that Professor Slughorn puts on a Christmas party and invites his best students. Maybe you’ll be invited because I do not want to just go by myself. Hey, I know that you are recovering but do you want to come to the Headmaster’s party?”
“Oh, Hermione, I can’t. Just look at me. I’m just waiting to suddenly combust or break apart limb from limb. Besides, I wasn’t invited. I certainly don’t want to crash a party with everyone staring at the girl who looked like she was mauled by a wolf. Oh wait, correction: by a werewolf.”
“Victoria, please. Besides, Harry and Ron are going to be there and I don’t really want to be with them at the moment. I know Dumbledore would love to have you there. You could bring Fred along—Fred, please convince her to come.”
Fred was now standing over me. His hand was on my shoulder with a warm smile on my face. I could only imagine what my face looked like. Imagine a stubborn scarred up girl mixed with a face that said I don’t want to go to this bloody party. But instead of doing anything, he just left. Hermione made a snicker, which didn’t help my nerves. A few moments later, Fred reappeared with a box in his hands. He laid it across my lap and made me open it.
As I opened it, I had to get through a couple of layers of tissue paper. Underneath it all, was a beautiful cerulean dress. Something you definitely didn’t see everyday. A one-shouldered dark sky blue gown with a black beaded strap was placed in the box. It was absolutely lovely and something that anybody would see me wearing. Also inside were black high-heeled shoes. I stared at Fred with eyes wide open. It was like a dream. I just recovered from a night of terror and the next night I get invited to a fancy dinner party.
“You got this for me?”
“Nothing is too much for the girl I love,” he stifled a smile.
I hit him. But he knew I didn’t really mean it. He was never the one for all the lovey-dovey stuff. And to be honest, neither was I. But I thought over my options. One, I could just stay there and sleep in a cot-like bed all night. Or two, I could go to a nice dinner party with my friends, boyfriend, and my biological brother. That was a toughie. But I knew which one Hermione wanted me to choose. And what Hermione wanted, she was going to get it.
“Sure,” I sighed deeply.
She lit up like a Christmas tree. She was ecstatic and bounced with glee. She looked at the both of us and smiled. She had nothing else to say. She got what she wanted.
“So, I’ll be right back and when I get back, you better be dressed. The both of you!” She ran out of the hospital wing. During the time she wasn’t there, I got dressed into the evening gown and helped Fred get his tie situated. Why he had a suit on in the first place, I didn’t know.
“I hope you know that you look gorgeous, Gorgeous.”
I smiled. “I can’t believe you still call me that.”
“I think you look stunning.”
“And I think that you look very handsome. Or should I say drop dead gorgeous?” I teased.
He pulled me toward him and kissed me hard. A smile was impressed on my face, which hurt but felt so good at the same time. A feeling I didn’t want to go away.