Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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Through a stranger’s eyes, Rochester Drive would appear to be a quiet neighborhood. It seemed that the residents all got along fairly well, and were more than willing to lend out a helping hand to one another. It was only yesterday that the youngest boy in the Harper family had kindly assisted his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Ramsey, in mowing her lawn, free of charge. And how could anyone forget how three different families had been so generous enough to help Mr. and Mrs. Creevey, the newlyweds, move into their brand new home. Yes, Rochester Drive was full of good, caring souls.
Our story begins with the last house on the left on Rochester Drive, the Lynch Estate. From the lush, lavish gardens that were tended to daily to the spacious rooms within the mansion, it was certainly one of the largest and most elegant houses in the entire neighborhood. The land had passed down through the generations of the Lynch family, dating all the way back to the mid-1800s. The last Lynch to inherit the household was Aidan Lynch, who had passed away nearly eight years ago. No one was quite sure exactly how he has died, but it hadn’t come to a surprise to many of the residents of Rochester Drive; Mr. Lynch had been reckless with his habits, which was quite well-documented with his neighbors.
His widow, Isabel, had been blessed with inheriting the Lynch Estate; despite the mysterious secrets surrounding the household, she continued to reside there with her two children. It is this historical mansion that we stumble upon one early, sweltering August afternoon. Nearly everyone was holing up in their homes on Rochester Drive, desperately trying to escape the scorching heat. The only person who was brave enough to venture outside was the youngest of the family, Emma Lynch.
At this moment, in fact, Emma could be found in the deepest part of the gardens, about twenty feet up in the air, lying back on her broomstick and gazing up at the clouds roaming above her. A wooden crate laid open on the grassy floor, filled with the necessary tools for a proper game of Quidditch. Three hoops, made out of black metal and held up by a rope tied to a nearby tree branch, were only a few feet from Emma. Her thick, dark hair fell in messy waves around her shoulders; there were even some leaves that had manage to tangle themselves in her mane. Her pale skin was streaked with dirt and grass stains, along with a sun burn across her small nose and flushed cheeks. Her clear, cerulean blue eyes seemed to reflect the sky ranging just above her effortlessly. She was dressed in black running shorts and a yellow t-shirt, both stained as much as her skin. Her body was petite and slender, her muscles toned from years of athletics.
Emma slowly sat up on her broom, making sure to keep her balance as she lounged so high up in the air. Straddling it once more, she gracefully steered the broom down to the ground, plucking a maroon Quaffle from the crate and zooming right back to eye-level with the three hoops. Tossing the Quaffle from hand to hand, she closed her eyes and took a slow, calm breath, in and out. And then, her eyes opened and narrowed, she shot forward, whipping the Quaffle through the middle hoop. Before the Quaffle could hit the ground, she caught it easily in one hand and returned to the front of the hoops.
For more than an hour, Emma continued to practice throwing the Quaffle into the hoops; she would sometimes switch up her distance from the hoops, testing her arm strength to see how far she could launch the Quaffle. She even dodged some imaginary Chasers and Beaters, testing her ability to adapt to obstacles. Her heart raced from adrenaline, her muscles tingling delightfully from use. Emma was in her element, in the one place that she could truly relax. The wind whipping through her hair, a Quaffle tucked under her arm, straddling her broom—this was how life truly should be.
Emma froze at the sound of the familiar voice shouting for her. She glanced down at the Quaffle in her palm, casually throwing it up in their a couple times before sighing. If only she could just fly away from everyone and enjoy the life that she actually wanted to live—if only life was actually fair.
“Emma, where are you?!”
Sighing once more, Emma slowly floated down to the ground and settled back onto her feet. She tucked the Quaffle into the wooden crate and, after checking to make sure the clasps were all in place, shut and fastened the padlock. Barely a minute later, she snuck back onto the main pathway of the gardens, glancing back one last time to make sure both the crate and the Quidditch hoops were successfully hidden. When nothing suspicious met her eyes, she smiled secretly to herself, held her broom over her shoulder, and turned back around, just to run into her mother.
Although Isabel Lynch was in her early fifties, she still looked incredibly beautiful. Her long, thick dark hair, slightly streaked with silver, was perfectly curled upon her bare shoulders, and her chocolate brown eyes shone against her pale skin. Several age lines surrounded her face, but her impressive features seemed to surpass them. Dressed in a lustrous, inky black dress and low kitten heels, Mrs. Lynch looked ready to take on any twenty-something year old twit.
The corners of Mrs. Lynch’s painted lips instantly turned down at the sight of her only daughter. While she was spotless, Emma was in a disastrous state; she looked as if she had been playing in the grass and dirt all day. “What on earth have you been doing?” demanded Mrs. Lynch.
“Playing Quidditch,” replied Emma casually. “Don’t worry,” she added as soon as her mother opened her mouth, “everything is all hidden away, just as you asked.”
“And your broom?” asked Mrs. Lynch, gesturing to the broomstick held over Emma’s shoulder.
“—will be in my room for the rest of the night,” the brunette answered. She held in the urge to roll her eyes at her mother’s incessant need to hide anything that involved Quidditch from any prying eyes. Honestly, Quidditch was the obsession of three out of the four members—certainly she should have learned to get used to it by now. But Emma knew better than to address her annoyances—she had quite a good theory as to why her mother despised Quidditch so.
“Good,” said Mrs. Lynch curtly. She reached her slender fingers out to pull out the leaves that had trapped themselves in Emma’s hair. Before Emma could thank her, though, she called out, “Della?”
As if appearing out of thin air, a small house-elf with dark, tennis-ball sized eyes and floppy ears stationed herself beside Mrs. Lynch. She was neatly dressed in a long, cream-colored skirt and a pale blue sweater. To someone unfamiliar with the new laws protecting house-elves, this would look particularly odd; Hermione Granger had headed the introduction of laws protecting house-elves rights, which included offering them pay, vacation time, sick leave, and even the ability to wear their own clothes. “Yes, Mrs. Lynch?” asked the house-elf now.
“Della, would you please escort Emma back to the main house and help her get ready for tonight? I’m afraid she might need some assistance to…keep her on track,” finished Mrs. Lynch, eyeing her daughter with narrowed eyes. “Remember to be ready by 6—that’s when the guests are going to start arriving.”
“Of course, Mrs. Lynch,” squeaked Della. “Come with me, Miss Lynch.”
Giving her mother one last frown, Emma followed the house-elf through the gardens, trying her best not to fume at her mother’s words. Finally, she let out a heavy sigh and told Della, “I swear, you’d think I was the worst daughter in the world, the way she acts around me.”
“Mrs. Lynch cares for you very much, Miss Lynch,” chided the house-elf. “She is just…stressed about tonight. I’m sure she will be fine after the party is over.”
“She’s not the only one,” said Emma as they walked up the front steps to the back porch of the estate. “I hate big parties like this. It’s such a waste of time; I could be doing something useful, like…”
“Like practicing in the gardens?” Della suggested, a smile spread across her youthful face.
“That sounds just about right,” she replied, returning her smile with a grin of her own.
As Emma and Della entered the main foyer, the former couldn’t help but notice all of the house-elves rushing around, working to prepare the Lynch Estate for the party that was set to begin in only a few hours. The marble staircase was gleaming in the fading sunlight streaming in through the countless windows, every surface was free of dust and clutter, and the glittering chandelier hanging in the center of the room was blazing away. To anyone, the foyer would appear to be an absolutely perfect venue to welcome incoming party guests. And yet, Emma was sure that her mother would be able to find some sort of fault with it. She always managed to do that flawlessly.
The two companions continued to make their way up the marble staircase and into Emma’s bedroom. With each step that Emma took, she found a house-elf scrubbing away at the floor behind her, desperately trying to erase the dirt that she had, as always, managed to track in. With a sheepish grin, Emma paused to take off her sneakers, hoping to save the house-elves from any extra work.
Finally, they had reached her room; it was spacious and regal, decorated in deep red and jet black. Her bed was neatly made and spotless, besides a notebook filled with various Quidditch plays and Knocking the Keepers—A Study of Offensive Strategies in Quidditch by Kennilworthy Whisp. Several posters of the Holyhead Harpies covered the walls, including a close up of Emma’s favorite player, Ginny Potter. A desk facing the window was the only disastrous part of the entire room; various drawings covered the total wooden surface, opened books, pens, and pencils splayed all over. Della immediately winced at the sight of it.
Sighing as she breathed in the familiar scents of her bedroom, Emma got onto her knees beside her bed and pulled out an oblong, wooden case. After unlocking and pulled open the lid, the young woman gently placed her broomstick into the case and locked it back up. It was her most-prized possession—there was no way she would just prop it up in the corner of her bedroom; no, it stayed locked away until deemed necessary to use.
“Alright,” said Emma finally with a grin, getting back to her feet and turning back to her little friend. “I’ll jump into the shower and be out in a bit. Really, Della, you don’t have to ‘assist me’, as my mother so kindly termed it. I’ll be fine on my own, I promise.”
“That’s quite alright, Miss Lynch,” replied Della, inching towards Emma’s exceptionally messy desk. “I’d like to make sure that you stay on track this time. Do not forget what happened when you were an hour late for your mother’s birthday party?”
Shaking her head with a small smile and laugh, Emma entered her private bathroom and quietly closed the door behind door. She stripped away her clothing and forced her sweaty self under the stream of hot water. Steam billowed up around her face, but Emma didn’t mind; the hot water scalded her sore muscles and washed away the grime from her skin. After washing her hair and body, Emma turned off the water and wrapped her body in a white, fluffy towel. She hastily ran a comb through her wet hair and let it drip onto her back as she exited the steamy bathroom.
“I’m guessing Mum picked out my dress for me?” asked Emma, already guessing the house-elf’s answer.
“It is hanging up in your closet, Miss,” said Della from her newly-neat desk. “She also requested that you wear heels.”
Stifling a groan, Emma grabbed the dress Della spoke of from the closet and brought it back to her bedroom, flinging it onto her bed. She supposed it wasn’t completely hideous; the satiny bust was a bright turquoise, while the narrow skirt was jet-black. She fingered the sparkly clasp that would clutch to her chest and frowned; if only she could just wear her workout clothes—she would certainly be more comfortable and, thus, more open to socializing with people she barely even knew.
Emma briefly stepped into the bathroom to pull on the dress and returned to her bedroom. She charmed her dark hair dry and pulled it into a sleek pony-tail. With one last sigh, she pulled on the heels her mother had instructed her to wear. As always, her toes ached as soon she got back on her feet. Glancing at the little house-elf, she couldn’t help but ask, “How do I look?”
“Lovely, Miss Lynch,” Della beamed up at her. Glancing at the clock by Emma’s bed, she added, “And just in time—you better hurry down there, or else your mother will have both our heads.”
Resisting her urge to grab her broom and go for a late night ride, Emma followed Della out of her room and back down to the foyer. She couldn’t help but think to herself, let the torture begin.
Emma took a small sip of her elfen wine, desperately wishing that it would be replaced with a bottle of butterbeer as she stood alone. Her mother had warned her that true, elegant ladies did not drink out of a bottle or a mug during a lavish party such as this one, but slowly sipped from a wine glass. Not wishing to suffer the wrath of dear Isabel, Emma forced herself to drink the sickly sweet drink as she watched the party continue on. It was a drastic bore, and Emma desired nothing more than to rush out of the ballroom, find her broom, and practice some more Quidditch plays. But, she loved her brother too much to let him down this time, as he had clearly wanted her to suffer through this party with him. It was his engagement party, after all.
About three month ago, Mrs. Lynch had sent out a countless number of letters to various relatives and friends, announcing the engagement of her only son, Jackson Lynch, and his lovely fiancée, Molly Weasley. Two weeks later, she had mailed invitations to those same people for an engagement party, set to be held at the Lynch Estate. And thus Emma’s fate was decided—she was forced to attend this dreadful event, sober and all, for her dear brother.
Thinking of her brother, Emma glanced around the ballroom, hoping to at least catch sight of him. Fortunately, it was not that difficult to find him—Jackson, tall, blonde, and handsome, was speaking with Percy Weasley, his future father-in-law, with ease, a lazy smile spread across his face. Even though Mr. Weasley seemed to be an absolute drag, Jackson managed to act as though he was hanging onto his every word. Smirking slightly to herself, Emma turned away from her brother and continued to search the ballroom for any familiar faces. Before she had a chance to get too far, though, she was interrupted by a kind face.
“Having a good time?” asked Molly Weasley, a sweet smile spread across her round face. Her chin-length red hair was demurely pushed behind her ears, her gray eyes sparkling with happiness. Emma didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth.
“Yes, of course,” replied Emma with a hopefully warm smile. “You? I hope it’s not too much. My mum can go a bit overboard sometimes.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” said Molly, her eyes sweeping over the ballroom, at the smiling and laughing party-goers. Everyone seemed to be thrilled for her and her fiancée; what more could she have asked for? “I’m just relieved your mother could do this. My parents aren’t much for parties; we’re lucky if we can get them to go to my grandmum’s house for Sunday dinner.”
“They seem to be getting on fairly well,” said Emma, finding Molly’s mother in deep conversation with her own mother, no doubt about the wedding. Audrey Weasley had seemed like a gentle woman, a tad bit shy, but a warm, calm person indeed. “You better be careful,” she added, nodding to the two mothers and smirking slightly, “they could be planning out your entire wedding already. You’ll end up with bright orange and lime green flowers, and the biggest, puffiest dress you can imagine.”
Molly laughed good-naturedly. As they sat in companionable silence, Emma noticed her future sister-in-law biting her lip anxiously. At being caught, Molly chuckled nervously and began, “Speaking of the wedding, I was just wondering…well, don’t feel obligated to say yes just yet…it won’t hurt my feelings one bit if you don’t want to do it—“
“Spit it out, Molly,” said Emma, firmly but not unkindly.
Smiling apologetically, she finally asked, “Well, I was wondering if you’d like to be one of my bridesmaids?”
This was the last request Emma had been expecting; she had countless possible questions Molly was going to ask her, but this was not even close to any of them. “Oh!” exclaimed Emma, still caught off guard.
Molly mistook her surprise for denial, as she hastily told the younger woman, “It’s no problem if you don’t want to. I didn’t want to pressure you by asking in front of your mother or brother—“
“No,” said Emma now. “No, I’d love to be one of your bridesmaids, Molly. It would be my pleasure.” She smiled up at the red-head to prove her honesty.
“That’s wonderful,” beamed Molly now. “Well, the wedding won’t be until next July, so don’t worry about buying a dress or anything just yet. I haven’t even picked out my colors just yet, or even a specific date. I know, it’s bad right? I’ll write to you while you’re at Hogwarts about any other plans that come up, okay? Hopefully it won’t interfere with—“
Jackson had managed to break away from Mr. Weasley and had joined his fiancée and little sister. He pressed his lips to Molly’s forehead, his arm casually wrapping around her slight shoulders, and shot a friendly grin to Emma. “Having a good time, Em? I hope Mum hasn’t driven you crazy all day with her plans.”
“Not too crazy,” smirked the brunette. “I managed to sneak away to my Quidditch Pitch, so I missed most of her impersonations of Professor Trelawney.”
Her older brother laughed, jokingly pulling on her pony-tail, much to her annoyance. “Is it alright if I steal my fiancée away? I’m afraid I haven’t seen her all night.”
“Lucky her,” grinned Emma cheekily. “Go ahead, I’m going to get some more wine. I’ll talk to you later, Molly?”
“Of course,” smiled Molly. “If I don’t see you again tonight, I’ll write to you as soon as I get some news.”
Nodding, Emma watched the blissful lovebirds walk away, hands now clasped. Jackson bent down to whisper something in Molly’s ear, which made her cheeks turn pink and silently giggle into his shoulder. Smiling to herself, Emma left her beloved spot by the wall and ventured to find the closest bartender.
After finally spotting one, Emma approached the bar and kindly asked for another glass. As she waited for her drink, she watched as Ron and Hermione Weasley danced with one another, intimately close and seeming to drift away from reality. Her eyes continued to move until they found her mother, now speaking with a woman Emma didn’t recognize. She observed her own mother catch a glance of the Weasley couple dancing as well, and a sudden look of sadness flashed across her lovely face. The sorrowful expression vanished so fast that Emma wasn’t even sure if it had really happened. Regrettably, before she could contemplate what had just possibly happened, she was rudely interrupted.
“Looking good, Lynch.”
An instant sneer came to Emma’s face at the sound of James Potter’s voice. She turned swiftly on her heel to glare up at her unwelcomed companion.
Emma had, unfortunately for her, known James Potter ever since her second year at Hogwarts. She had been sitting by herself in the courtyard after a particularly difficult class of Transfiguration; she had been trying to transform her white rabbit into a pair of slippers when she had, in turn, turned it bright, neon green. Professor Hopper had been so disappointed that he had taken away fifteen house points from Hufflepuff and handed her extra homework for the night. So, suffice it to say, Emma had not been having a good day.
As she sat there, sulking, Emma took notice of a second year James Potter teasing some poor Ravenclaw first year so badly about her acne that it appeared she was about to cry. His nearby group of friends was nearly in hysterics over her tears, while the boy continued relentlessly to bully the girl. Emma, allowing her temper to get the better of her, was instantly on her feet, snarling at the boy to leave her alone. The boy didn’t back down, though, and it eventually resulted in a duel between the two, in which Emma’s ears had been cursed to grow to nearly the same size as a large watermelon, while the boy’s entire face broke out into vicious boils. They were both sentenced to two weeks of detention with Professor Slughorn, and had loathed each other ever since.
It wasn’t just that James Potter was a pig-headed bully who thought everything should be handed to him on a silver platter. He was arrogant and popular, a terrible combination; his immaturity outranked any first year at Hogwarts, and his temper, as Emma had found out, was known to be legendary. And, to make it even worse, he was a damn good Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and had battled Emma’s team for almost five years now. They were at a dead even in record, and Emma was damn sure that she was going to make sure she would be on top by the end of their final year.
Looking up at James now, Emma herself couldn’t deny that he was handsome. He was quite tall, standing a head above her, and broad-chested; she was sure he was fairly muscular, thanks to all of that Quidditch, and had overheard many infuriating girls giggle over how his biceps were rock hard. His jet-black hair was thick and messy, and in desperate need of a haircut; his features were well-defined, and his pearly white teeth even. Dark, chocolate brown eyes gazed down at her now, fringed with long eyelashes and filled with amusement, loathing, and intoxication.
Indeed, the first scent Emma caught was one of alcohol; Firewhiskey, to be more precise. She somehow managed to hold in the urge to roll her eyes at the drunken James Potter and replied coolly, “I wish I could say the same about you, Potter.” She ignored the fact that he actually looked rather sharp in his slate gray, silk dress shirt and black pants.
“Liar,” slurred James, grinning dopily down at her. He slammed his glass down at the bar, probably a little harder than he meant to, as he even jumped at the loud clang. “Another Firewhiskey please!”
“Shouldn’t you cool it with the Firewhiskey, Potter?” asked Emma, raising an eyebrow at his inability to even hold himself up.
“Don’t tell me what to do, Lynch. Just mind your own damn business,” James garbled, stumbling slightly as he moved to walk around her.
That should have been enough for Emma. She had fulfilled her moral standards by asking if he should stop drinking, and he had so kindly refused. But, as painful memories flashed in her mind, Emma sighed and turned to follow James, who was making his way over to his grandparents. Thinking quick, she rushed to walk beside him, linked her arm in his, and ushered him away from the party and out into the gardens. “I don’t think you want to see your grandparents, Potter,” said Emma.
“And why is that?” demanded James.
“Because you’re drunk off your ass,” she shot back at him, already growing impatient. Taking a deep, calming breath, she told him, “Come on, let’s get you some air. Just sit down on this bench and drink some water.”
She gently lowered him onto a nearby bench and emptied out her wine glass. After filling it with water streaming from her wand’s tip, she forced it into James’ large hands. “Drink up,” she ordered, shoved the water up to his lips.
James was silent as he drained the entire glass. She quickly filled it up once more, and he continued to drink away.
Sighing, Emma took a seat beside James, kicking off her uncomfortable heels and digging her cold toes into the soft dirt. She listened to the crickets chirping all around them, and gazed at a cluster of fireflies that lit up against the dark night sky. There wasn’t a single cloud to be found; the stars glowed brightly, floating around the slender crescent moon. It was truly a beautiful night, one that was perfect for a broom ride. Perhaps, after everyone had left, she would sneak up to her room and take her broom out for a quick ride around the neighborhood. It would be the seamless end to an almost miserable night.
“Thanks for the water, Lynch,” said James, startling Emma out of her reverie and bringing her back to reality—right next to the boy she loathed most. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“No, I suppose I didn’t,” replied Emma, frowning to herself slightly. She most definitely wasn’t comfortable with this appreciative James; it was far too unfamiliar. “Why’d you want to get drunk anyways? In case you didn’t notice, most people don’t do that at engagement parties.”
“I was bored,” shrugged James, as if it wasn’t a big deal that he could have possibly ruined his cousin’s party. Emma rolled her eyes; this was the prat that she was used to. “I’m surprised you’re not doing getting drunk with me.”
“And why is that?” asked Emma lightly, but she was beginning to grow tense.
“You didn’t exactly look like you were having a blast standing over there by yourself,” he responded. “What, upset that little Miss Perfect had to socialize with us mere mortals?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” snapped Emma. Her trembling hands were beginning to clench into fists.
“It means that you were too busy turning up your nose at the rest of us to notice that you looked like the arrogant bitch that you truly are,” sneered James in the dark.
Emma was instantly on her feet, snatching her empty wine glass out of his hands and practically seething before him. “Go fuck yourself, Potter,” she snarled, storming away. However, after only taking a couple of steps away from him, she paused and returned to James, sitting where she had left him, scowling. She threw the wine glass onto the ground before his feet, shattering it into pieces. “What was I thinking? I wouldn’t want to contract whatever disease is rotting in your thick head and causing you to become an absolute prick.”
With that last word, Emma turned on her heel and hurried back up to her home, away from that idiot Potter and back to the miserable party.
Wow, that was a pretty long one. Well, what do you all think? I introduced quite a few characters here, so hopefully you all thought them to be fairly interesting. Let me know what you all think by leaving a review! Thanks for reading!