So morning come and I'm nervously clad
In these sheets not my own and these hands where they don't belong
And I'm all but a victim in my prison head
-Anna Nalick, More Than Melody
“Misery is almost always the result of thinking.” – Joseph Joubert
That's it, babe. Plaster on a smile and hug your parents, high five your baby brother, throw your little sister a thumbs up. Grin a little bit before turning around. Don't turn back. Don't turn back. Don't turn back. Come on, come on, eyes open. You can do this. Not here, not now. Later. When you're alone. You can't fall apart until you're by yourself. Head up, girl, you're the queen of confidence. You're fine, you're just fine, a little bit more. Don't give up now, you're doing great! Don't slip up, make them believe you're great. Maybe if they believe it then so will you. Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think.
I am knocked out of my thoughts by the feeling of rough wool on my bare skin. I whip around in surprise, eyes wide, hands balled into little fists as my sides. “Sorry,” I mutter at realizing that it is only a boy – just about my age. I turn around quickly, not wanting to attract any attention, but a calloused hand comes to rest on my shoulder and I fight the instincts to shrink back, scream, run as fast as I can away. I turn around with one eyebrow raised, as if to ask what he wanted.
“S'fine,” he says in a husky voice. He has raven hair, wavy and sort of long, complete with stubble and bushy eyebrows. My measly five foot four inches is miniscule next to his six feet – at least. He smiles at me and winks, not removing his hand from my shoulder. I squirm uncomfortably, because his hand feels like His Hands
and it hurts to breathe all of a sudden. He is too close, too close, close enough to kiss, and Last Year Tristan would have relished this situation but this is After That Night Tristan and she is panicking to find a way out but she's rooted to the spot.
I am saved by a boy slightly less tall than the one who has his hand on my shoulder. He rolls his eyes. “Sirius, you idiot, you're going to scare her off. Besides – she doesn't look your type. Her eyes are green, not blue, and you've always said that black hair reminds you of Bella.” Somehow, I don't mind that he's talking about me as if I'm not standing there.
Sirius heaves a dramatic sigh and removes his hand and I sag visibly with relief, my entire relaxing from the tense state it had been from the hand on my shoulder. I knew my actions may seem out of the ordinary, but they shouldn't draw much suspicion; most people would tense if a stranger touched them. The other boy turns to me.
“I'm sorry about Sirius; he doesn't mean any harm. Honestly, he's a good guy, he's just...anyway, I'm Remus.” He laughs a bit at his random change of subject, and I force a smile onto my face, pretending to relate to his humor.
“Nice to meet you, Remus,” I say quietly. My nod is almost imperceptible. “Tristan.”
“Interesting name,” Remus chuckles lowly, his voice husky as if he has been ill. I can tell he thinks it's odd; I don't mind. It is rather odd.
“Says the boy named after the myth,” I retort, cracking a smile that's almost real. I hate this, though – a year ago, if someone had suggested it would hurt to breathe, suggested a smile would exhaust me, I would have told them to go to hell. (Now, when someone says go to hell to me, it's all I can do not to say “gladly.”)
Remus raises an eyebrow. “You know of the story of Remus and Romulus?” He asks, a strange glint in his eye. I can tell that he must either be Muggle born or half blood, because my mother has told me that there is no such myth in Wizarding culture.
“What can I say?” I ask dryly, furrowing my eyebrows. “My dad's a Muggle historian.” Under my breath, I add, “and more into the Wizarding world than my mother.” I've actually always loved that myth, how they were literally raised by a wolf.
“I've always wondered why my mother named me after the brother who got killed. Tells you something, yeah?” He jokes dryly, and I can tell that he is glad to have met someone who knows of the story.
“If it's any consolation, I was always rooting for Remus. Threw a fit when my dad told me that he lost the battle. I swear, he ruined Rome for me. All that traveling, I'd always wanted to visit Rome, and I can't enjoy it all because the wrong person won a battle.” That's the longest sentence I've uttered since the Night. It almost feels nice, to have a real conversation.
“You've been to Rome? I've always wanted to go there. Italy is my favorite country.” He remarks, and I notice that we've started walking.
I nod. “My dad may have ruined my childhood in the sense that Rome wasn't nearly as amazing as it should have been, but I can't deny...I'll never get over the Trevi Fountain, or all that stained glass in Vatican City.” I pause, closing my eyes and remembering. “My favorite, though, was Venice.” The people, the canals, the food...the architecture. My dad was in love; he asked my mother if we could move there. She said no, of course; she loves Ireland, for one, and my dad would regret leaving because he's so in love with our little cottage out in the middle of nowhere. “There was this little restaurant, and the food was so amazing. It'd been owned by the same family for decades. And there was this old man who was always there when I stopped in for lunch while my parents were out sightseeing and everyday, he would buy me lunch, even though he didn't have enough money for himself. I kept saying no, I could pay for myself, but he was insisting that “he wasn't gonna let a lady pay for her own food if he could help it.” He was a really sweet guy.”
I haven't rambled on like that since before...
“That sounds amazing. You're really lucky; our family can't afford to travel. Hogwarts is my vacation.” Oh, my boy, if only you knew. But I do feel bad for him; we're lucky that my mom works a job that pays such good money. My dad writes for the newspaper, and even though he loves it and I adore reading his articles, it can't pay the bills.
“Don't be so sure; sometimes living the cushy life makes me wish that I at least knew what it was like for the people who don't have what we have. Makes me feel guilty – especially when we're traveling, and I'm walking down the street by myself, about to go spend some money on some stupid thing, and I see someone who really needs money. Needless to say, I rarely am able to spend anything after that.” And I'm too much of a coward to actually give the money away so it just goes to waste.
“I doubt I’d be able to either; and I think that it’s great that you appreciate what you have. Merlin knows how many people take what they’ve got for granted.” He seems like he knows what he’s talking about. I smile, for real this time.
“Thank you, Remus.”
“Want to sit in our compartment?” Remus asks suddenly, because it’s 10:59 and if we don’t hurry we’re going to be stranded here. I nod reluctantly, skeptical, but I’d rather be around Remus, nice, sweet, kind Remus, than alone. When I’m alone I think. Don’t think.
My big brother doesn’t know. I don’t want him too. I don’t like to think about what he’d do if he knew who it was.
“Remus, you dog, have you been flirting with the ladies?” James Potter. If he weren’t such a good guy deep down, I would hate him. But he’s a genuinely good guy, and he knows. He saved me, after all. I would be dead right now, probably.
He looks at me, and freezes, his eyes getting wide. “Merlin, Tristan…” He trails off, and I look pointedly at the compartment full of people and he understands. I hope. “We’ll talk later,”
he mutters, and he means it. Sirius and Remus look between us, brows furrowed, while a boy whose name I think
may be Paul just continues eating chocolate, oblivious.
I know that James and I will be talking whether or not I like it. But I trust James. “Well, you seem to know everybody but Pete.”
“Hello,” Pete mumbles through a full mouth, and I wave half-heartedly, sitting down and pulling my book of Edgar Allen Poe out.
You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded – with what caution – with what foresight – with what dissimulation I went to work.
I must have fallen asleep because when I opened my eyes, Sirius was standing above me with a smirk. My eyes widen and I clench my teeth, trying to fight the overwhelming instinct to scream, kick, bite, fight, run.
Sirius is a lot of things, but he is not a monster. “Sleeping beauty, we’re at the station.”
Must have been tired.
I slowly stand and stretch, glad I already changed into my robes, and grabbed my trunk, then proceeded to the castle.
“Welcome, welcome!” McGonagall explained the Sorting Ceremony to the first years, all of whom looked to be quite terrified. I remember, I was sort of scared my first time at Hogwarts. The Sorting Hat began to sing.
“Oh, I’m just an old hat,
And hats don’t have brains,
But you’re wrong about that.
You see, I’m more than an old cap,
I can look inside your mind,
And I’ll tell you where you belong on the Hogwarts map.
You might be good for Slytherin,
Those sneaky, cunning snakes,
Are ready to get what they want,
They don’t mind the stakes!
Of course, it might be Gryffindor,
Where lions always roar,
They’re brave and good and daring,
And never bow to horror!
Then, there is Ravenclaw,
With the brighter minds,
They’ll solve any puzzle
Yes, you might of their kind!
Last but not least Hufflepuff,
True to their every word
Loyalty is paramount
And they never ever hurt!
That’s all I have to say,
So please don’t frown,
Don’t be shy, not today,
For I’m your sorting crown!
Cheesy, I reflected upon the song. Perhaps she’s running out of ideas.
And they never ever hurt.
Incorrect. They do hurt. They do hurt.
“What’s wrong, Tristan?” Remus asks, and I shake my head. He doesn’t need to know. He needs to forget.
He needs to forget about me. I never had many friends at Hogwarts, besides Holly McCormack, a fellow sixth year, who was in Ravenclaw. She was my best friend. She was never on the train because her mother was a professor here; Mrs. McCormack taught Ancient Runes; but we’d met the first night and I had Owled her almost immediately after That Night. Neither of us really ever got noticed by anyone, as we were both average to most of the Hogwarts population. Few people knew that either of us existed. She was the only one besides James, me, and my rapist who knew what happened to me. She had come over my house as soon as she got the letter, armed with a stolen pregnancy test, two tubs of peanut butter ice cream, and tissues.
I loved her like she was my own blood. She practically was.
My only other friend was Damien, a gay Hufflepuff who had been nicknamed Hufflepoof
by a couple of people. He didn’t know, but I did plan on telling him this year. We were fairly close, and he had beaten up a guy who had blown me off on a Hogsmeade date.
I didn’t eat anything at dinner. I sat alone, spoke to nobody, and didn’t eat.
As the entirety of the Hogwarts population attempted to make its way out of the Great Hall, if felt a hand on my arm.
“Tristan,” James Potter said quietly, “we need to talk.”
A/N: So, there’s the first chapter for you. Tell me how you like it! I’d love to hear your thoughts; constructive criticism is welcome as well. Also, who do you think should’ve done it? Amos Diggory? Perhaps an oc? Definitely a Hufflepuff. (Not Damien. He’s gay and besides, he’s amazing.) How should Lily Evans work into the story? Maybe she finds out? Or does she hear Tristan having a nightmare? Perhaps they should become friends? Who knows…
NEXT ON The Difference Between Surviving and Living:
James and Tristan talk, find out what happened!
Tristan has a nightmare. Lily wakes her up, and demands to know why she was screaming “Please, no, please, stop, stop!”
Severus and Tristan, partners in potions…they become acquaintances.