I relaxed into Lily’s hug and she managed to calm me down somehow and guide me over to sit on my bed, “What’re you doing Riley?” I sniffled a little, and kept my eyes on the floor,
“I’m going to France to stay with my sister for a couple of weeks. I was going to leave at the beginning of the week but Joe managed to convince me to stick it out for the quidditch match. He thought it would all be forgotten by now, but that obviously didn’t happen.”
“Are you sure leaving is the best thing for you to do? I mean I know things are bad right now but it could get better, no one knows anything for sure right? So they’re just rumours at right now.” I smiled what must have been the saddest looking smile ever, and shook my head,
“None of us denied it and by not denying it we’ve essentially confirmed the truth of it, there would be no point in even trying to tell people they’re wrong about us now. It’s too late.” Lily looked incredibly sad about that and I hated it.
“There’s something I need to tell you-” but I didn’t get to hear what I assumed would be an apology for her reaction to finding out the article was true because Joe burst through the door and Susie came running after him,
“I tried to tell him you wouldn’t want to speak to him but he didn’t listen and came up here anyways.”
“Miss Evans, Miss Samuels, if you’ll excuse us please. I need to speak to my sister.” Lily and Susie nodded and Lily gave me one last squeeze before following Susie out the door.
He waited until the door snapped shut before he started to speak, “Riley you can’t just run away from this! It’ll still be here when you get back and it’ll be there in France. Tay will be going through the same thing you are over there, the only differences will be the language and the fact that I won’t be there for you!” my eyes narrowed at his words,
“If she is going through the same thing then she’s going through it alone and that isn’t fair! This is all my fault and I want to be there for her. You don’t need me, no one is switching your drinks for blood; you’re a professor and even the people who believe that its true still respect you because you’re good at what you do. Hell, there are even girls who fancy you now because apparently there’s something sexy about a man who drinks blood.” He sent me a disbelieving look, “I don’t understand it either but it seems to be true. But Tay and I are teenagers and it’s a whole different thing for us to have this label.”
“No. I told you last time that you wouldn’t be able to stop me after the quidditch match. That I was definitely leaving if things didn’t get better and they haven’t so I’m going.” With that I threw the last few things into my trunk and slammed it shut before shrinking it and shoving it into my jacket pocket. “I’ll see you at home for Christmas.” I gave him a hug before leaving the dorm.
Joe followed me down into the common room and some third year who didn’t realise Joe was my brother wolf-whistled but stopped when James smacked him up the side of his head. He was finally starting to get back to something resembling normal, shame that it didn’t happen before things got so bad I was leaving.
Dumbledore didn’t look surprised to see me when I turned up at his office door, but then he never seemed to be particularly surprised about anything. He was happy to let me leave, he didn’t even suggest waiting a little bit longer to see if things changed, he actually seemed to think that it was a good idea for me to go away for a couple of weeks. “After the trouble at the quidditch pitch I thought you may want to visit your sister, your brother mentioned it at the beginning of the week. I’ve spoken to Madame Charlot and she has allowed Taylor to have time off lessons for the duration of your stay there. She is, as you are, and exemplary student and can be trusted, as you will be, to get her work done in that time.” I nodded and Dumbledore gestured to the fireplace and continued, “You are looking for Madame Charlot’s study, Beauxbaton’s Academy of Magic.” He offered me a pot of floo powder,
“Thank you professor, I appreciate this. I just can’t deal with all of this here.” He nodded as I was spun out of the room and into the floo network.
Floo powder had never been my favourite way to travel, especially for international travel. It was a lot of spinning and so many flashes of other people’s homes along the way, and you would always end up filthy and, more often than not, choking on ashes. Having said that, it is the quickest way to get anywhere without a licence to apparate.
After about five minutes of constant motion I came to an abrupt stop and fell forwards out of the fireplace in the Headmistress’ Study in France, “As graceful as ever I see.” I looked up from the floor and my face split into the first true, happy smile I’d worn in what felt like weeks. Taylor had evidently been waiting for me to arrive and she stuck a hand out to help me up off the floor. She caught me in a hug, “So how have you been doing Lee?” her playful smirk hadn’t fallen into a much more serious expression, I shrugged not really wanting to discuss it in front of the headmistress,
“How about you?” she replicated my shrug; she clearly wanted to wait until we were alone as well to talk about everything that had been going on.
“Bonjour Ms Hunt. Professor Dumbledore told me zat you ‘ave been ‘aving problems at ‘ogwarts since ze article was published, I told ‘im I would be ‘appy to ‘ave you ‘ere until you feel you are ready to return, zat if you are anyzing like your sister it would be a pleasure to ‘ave you.” I smiled at the professor,
“Thank you Madame Charlot, I really do appreciate it that you would let me stay here. But I do have to admit that Taylor is the smart twin.” Taylor was nodding her agreement beside me and the headmistress laughed,
“We shall see about zat Ms hunt. I’m sure you ‘ave much to speak about, go ahead, I will see you at dinner.” I smiled at the kind dismissal, it was a lot less abrupt an ending to a meeting than one with Dumbledore.
There were a lot of differences between Beauxbaton’s and Hogwarts; the uniforms, the fact that the staircases didn’t move, the lack of portraits on the walls, there were no ghosts floating around the Palace. But the most notable difference, in my opinion was that no one was staring and whispering, some were looking at us with curious looks on their faces but I figured that was possibly because I wasn’t in a uniform and because Tay and I and pretty much identical.
Taylor had told me about the school before, of course, but actually seeing the place was different to how I’d imagined it; I’d been picturing it to be a lot more like the castle I was used to but this place was a lot more majestic than the Hogwarts castle. The difference that Taylor liked to point out the most was that while I had to stay in a dormitory with five other girls for my whole time at Hogwarts, here it was only compulsory to share a room from first to fourth year and then after that they were given the option to either stay in communal dorms or to have a room to themselves, and if they chose to stay with roommates they would be able to choose how many and who they were. Up until this year it had been something I was jealous of, I’d have given almost anything to have Lily, Dorcas and Alice out of our dormitory.
Of course, given the choice most people chose to have their own rooms, Taylor had decided that she missed the privacy she was given back at home. She liked to have her own space to get on with her homework, and she’d always been quite a light sleeper so sharing was hard for her. I wasn’t jealous anymore though, it was a blessing that we would be able to talk about everything without having to shut out her roommates.
The first place she showed me in the school was her bedroom, it wasn’t too dissimilar to the dorms at Hogwarts but it was a lot more personal and feminine than the stone walls I was used to. “Oh good, Madame Charlot had another bed added for you. That’ll beat sleeping on the floor.” She paused and showed me where I could unpack my things, there had been drawers added to her dresser and her wardrobe had been extended to cater for another person, I opened my trunk and started to sort my things out into the drawers, “How have you been Lee? I don’t think I’ve heard from you since before Halloween.” A sudden grin erupted on her face but I turned back to my trunk before she continued; I knew what she was going to ask about, “How’re things with James? Has he finally given up on that Lily girl? Are you two together yet?” I shook my head, and then to my horror burst into tears,
“He hates me Tay. Everyone hates me. It’s been so horrible there. How have things here been?” I didn’t want to start explaining all about what was going on with me before I even knew how she’d been coping with it all, I turned back to her to see her looking at little uncomfortable.
“Actually things haven’t been too bad here, I mean obviously everyone was shocked at first but they’ve all known me for years and they know that I’m not dangerous, everyone seems to understand that. They’re kind of more interested in what effect it does have on us and how come we aren’t ‘real’ vampires.” My mouth dropped open in surprise, that hadn’t been what I was expecting; I’d thought she would be an outcast like me, that people were making mean comments and trying to avoid her, treating her like she was something to be feared. “Are things at Hogwarts really that bad?” I nodded with what must have been a pretty miserable look on my face.
“Everyone stares and whispers about me. My friends aren’t bothered but that’s only four people out of the whole school, not including Joey.” I was starting to feel pretty sorry for myself as I told her about my year at school so far, I left out what happened at the quidditch pitch; she didn’t need to know exactly how bad things had gotten, she got enough of an idea without that.
“At least James was being somewhat normal again before you left thought, and you’ve still got Susie and Gabby. And Remus sounds like a great guy. He did have a point you know; you both understand what the other is going through- kind of.” I didn’t say anything for a while and neither did Taylor. “How can you be trying to get James together with Lily? You’ve been in love with him forever and she sort of hates him…”
“She doesn’t hate him really, she just doesn’t want to believe that she really likes him in case he changes his mind or it turns out to be a prank or that he was just chasing her because he couldn’t have her when he could’ve had any other girl. She was really starting to warm up to him and I ruined all that on Halloween and then with the quidditch thing. James was right.” She stared at me and sighed in an exasperated sounding way,
“The halloween thing was not your fault! You thought he knew it was you. As for the quidditch thing, you know I think you’d be better off staying on the ground anyway but if you must play that’s up to you, but it wasn’t your fault either. That was him being an idiot, not doubt influenced by Black.” I nodded.
“You know what, you’re right, he’s been being an arse all year, and I just need to move on. I’ll get him and Lily together and stop moping about it, me and James were never going to happen and it’s time that I accept that.” I was a lot happier once I’d made this decision. I’d made a similar one after the Halloween debacle but that was when I was trying to make James happy, this time it was for me; this time I was going to make a much bigger effort with it. “James and Lily will be together by graduation!” Tay looked like she wanted to say something but I grinned at her and bounced off the bed we’d been sitting on and over to the desk which looked like it had been added to the room for my use, “I need to write to Gabby and Susie, I didn’t even tell them I was leaving, I just left without saying goodbye or anything.” Tay made a huffing noise and moved over to the other desk to start some homework.
I didn’t understand, was this not what she’d wanted? For me to stop being sad about the James situation? That was what she’d said, basically. That he was acting like a prick and I needed to move on.
I spent the rest of the afternoon writing my letters to Gabby, Susie and Lily. I’d considered writing to Remus as well but after the way he’d been avoiding me I wasn’t really sure what to say to him. At dinner Madame Charlot announced that I would be staying with Taylor for a couple of weeks because of our family circumstances and because we wanted to be together during what had been a hard time for our family, the rest of the students seemed to just accept it. There was no one calling out that it was unfair that I should be allowed to stay during term time when no one else was allowed to have people to stay, no one said that if Taylor was having time out of lessons than others should be allowed the same privilege and no one commented that we were getting preferential treatment because of the article.
I couldn’t get over how different it was from Hogwarts, I’d been expected the people to be just the same; just as immature, close-minded and mean, but most had just nodded in acknowledgement of the headmistress’ words and some had either sent us sympathetic smiles or had waved in a friendly greeting. I mentioned to Taylor how shocked I was by these differences but she just gave me a disbelieving look, “I told you earlier that they’d all been really good about it all.”
“I know, I just didn’t realise how good until I’d seen it for myself..” She smiled and nodded, seeming to understand what I meant.
“The kids here are a lot most open-minded than in Britain, a lot less prejudiced. I think that’s why Voldemort hasn’t made the crossing yet; his ideals wouldn’t take quite as well over here, he’d end up with a lot more opposition than supporters for his trouble.” I nodded, my mouth too full with dinner to respond in any other way.
The first few days of my visit were spent doing the work we’d be missing in classes and catching up with happier goings on in our lives, she was interested to hear how my newly found friendship with Lily was fairing; she didn’t believe that we could all suddenly just become friends again after four years of fighting. She told me about her latest boyfriend; a sweet, extremely handsome French boy by the name of Lucas, she told me all about their first date and the little gifts he’d given her. She was convinced he was ‘the one’, and while I’d heard that from her before this one seemed to be different somehow, but in a way I couldn’t explain from the outside.
I also met a few of her friends, including a girl called Monica who reminded me of a mixture of Lily and Susie; she was studious and extremely stubborn, but then she was also a little bit weird at times. There was another girl called Jennifer who was so much like Taylor that it was a little strange at first, if I hadn’t known any better I would have thought they were sisters.
There was also a lovely boy named Matthew, or Hewie for short, who was pretty much in love with Taylor but she was either oblivious to his interest or was playing dumb because of Lucas. I was inclined to believe the latter because he was being pretty obvious with his flirting, but when I mentioned it to her one night she just shrugged, “He’s like that with everyone, he was just as flirty with you as he was with me.” I grinned but shook my head, she really didn’t see it. But apart from meeting these friends and doing schoolwork we didn’t do much else apart from talk about mindless things, which was good; it was what I’d wanted; to get away from everything.
After three days I still hadn’t gotten replies from Susie or Gabby, I wasn’t sure if it was because they were mad at me or if they just hadn’t gotten my letters yet, I was really hoping it was the second reason. I did get a letter from Lily at breakfast, which was a nice surprise; at least I was hearing something from Hogwarts even if it wasn’t coming from either of my best friends.
Things at Hogwarts haven’t been quite the same since you’ve been gone; it’s far too quiet in the common room and the dorm.
Gabby isn’t too impressed that Remus asked you out before you left but she isn’t blaming you this time, he explained it to her but he wasn’t sure why she was so mad; he’s a little bit clueless when it comes to Gabby. She’s been spending more time Black, which I’m sure will not end well for anyone. Susie and Alice have been fighting again, I don’t see why Alice doesn’t understand that it isn’t okay to be trying to convince someone to breakup with their boyfriend because she likes him, I have tried speaking to her about it but it didn’t work. Dorcas is mad that Black has been spending so much time with Gabby. When are you coming home?! I need some intelligent conversation!
I don’t know what’s been going on but the Marauders are hardly speaking to each other; Remus spends as much time away from the others as he possibly can, Black has calmed down a bit since the quidditch thing but I have heard him telling people that you’re gone because you attacked a Ravenclaw third year- I gave him detention every night this week for that. Potter has been trying to find out who leaked that story to the Prophet; he doesn’t believe that Black would do something like that. I think I’m going to have to tell him what Black said to me the day before the article came out, I was trying to keep out of it; let them sort it out for themselves, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to. Although I don’t know why he would believe me; he knows how much I hate that boy.
I also thought you might want to know that Professor Dumbledore announced your trip to France, he said that you’d gone to stay with family on his advice because of what was revealed in the article. Someone asked why Professor Hunt is still here when the article was about him too, he didn’t answer straight away but he said it was because he’s been here longer and they are sure beyond all doubt that he is not a danger to anyone. Your brother stormed out of the Great Hall in such a rage I was sure he could’ve attacked Dumbledore! I completely understand though, he made out that they aren’t sure whether it’s safe to have you at school, which is absolutely ridiculous!
I hope you’re having a good time in France, tell your sister ‘Hi’ from all of us. And I really do hope you’ll be coming home soon.
Love Lily xxx
I sighed and showed the letter to Tay, she didn’t take the last bit too well either, “I think I need to write to Joey, in case he does something stupid.” Taylor nodded and said something about needing to go and speak to Madame Charlot.
I just got a letter from Lily telling me about what Professor Dumbledore said. Please tell me you haven’t done anything stupid. If you lose this job it isn’t going to be easy for you to get another one now. You probably shouldn’t go storming out of anymore dinners.
Love Riley xxx
That would do, he’d always had a hot temper; we all did, but it was usually easy enough to get him to see rationally. I sent the letter off with a much longer letter back to Lily telling her that I would probably be back at the end of the next week and assuring her that I knew she would be able to handle things for me until then. Taylor still wasn’t back by dinner time so I went down to the dining hall without her; I’d managed to learn my way around the palace pretty quickly so the lack of a guide wasn’t a problem. I’d already finished by the time Taylor pulled me out of my seat, she had a huge grin on her face and when I looked past her I got an identical one, “Mum! Dad! What’re you doing here?”
“Madame Charlot flooed us here to discuss Taylor.” I frowned, not understanding; Taylor was a perfect student, there was no reason for the headmistress to need to speak to our parents. It seemed that Taylor could no longer hold in her excitement and she happily informed me what had gone on during the meeting,
“I’m transferring to Hogwarts, Lee!”
“You’re kidding!” she shook her head still grinning,
“I went to Madame Charlot this morning and asked if I could do it and she flooed Hogwarts to speak to your deputy head, she’s in charge of all that apparently, and she said she thought it would be good for us to all be together and that she completely understood that we didn’t want professor Dumbledore to be informed until it was too late. I don’t think she was impressed by his announcement either. Then once she’d okayed it Madame Charlot flooed mum and dad to see if they were okay with it and since they wanted me to go to Hogwarts all along they were fine with it.” She said all of this in practically one breath and the surrounding students looked completely boggled about what she’d just said but I caught all of it,
“This is amazing! It’ll be so much better not having to write to you about everything that happening! You’ll be there with me! Are you starting after Christmas?”
“Better! We’re going back at the weekend. Professor McGonagall think it’ll be better for me to settle in while teachers are winding down from the holidays, makes sense really.” I nodded, it did made sense but at the same time it meant I would have to go back.
“I can’t wait to see Dumbledore’s face when we get there! He told everyone that he’d sent you away because you aren’t safe and now there’re two of us!” that was a pleasant prospect, definitely something to look forward to. “Oh, and she brought the sorting hat with her; said it would be better to get that out of the way now rather than waiting until the night I move in. I’m in Gryffindor, the hat told me that I was suited to Hufflepuff because of my loyalty to you but that it would be counterproductive to put me in a different house, so I’m a Gryffindor.”
Not too sure how I feel about this chapter either, I found it really difficult to get the France stuff.. couldn’t really think of much they could do, so most of this has ended up being slightly irrelevant, there will be a little bit more at the beginning of the next chapter so maybe I’ll think of something more interesting to put in that.
Sorry for the wait, and thank you to all who have reviewed, I can’t explain how giddy I get when I see a new review. I’m glad that people are reading this and I hope you are all enjoying it. Criticism is always welcomed, since it’s the only way the story will get better J