Chapter 1 : Dull and Empty
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Chapter One: Dull and Empty
In short, this is how the first five and a half years of my time at Hogwarts passed: I was an outgoing boy with a few close friends and a reputation for mischief that I had only mostly earned. Fame was never something I desired. My parents tried to keep prying eyes away from our lives, and I had picked that up from them.
And now here I am at what feels like something of a precipice in my life, how to proceed with it. It’s February of my sixth year. I’m taking all of these classes – Transfiguration, Charms, Herbology, Muggle Studies, Defense – and I have no idea what I want to do once I’m done with them. It’s like… What, so I’ve spend not quite six years learning how to do magic and now I’m supposed to know what I want to do for the rest of my life? All I know about my magic as of right now is that I’m a beast and a half at non-verbal spells, and that apparently my magic could use a bit of imagination. Which I don’t get. A spell is a spell. You either get it right, or you don’t. Into which part of that am I supposed to inject an extra dose of imagination?
This lack of imagination – spurred by a comment my Defense professor had made at the end of class just a few minutes ago– was what I was pondering as I meandered through the halls, planning on making my way up to the library for some studying before dinner. I never finished that train of thought, though, because a small shriek and the sound of papers flying broke it just as I turned a corner. On the ground right in front of me was a slight young woman with a forest fire of red hair, her belongings strewn around her on the ground.
So, here’s the low-down on Rose Weasley: she’s a complete klutz. Not in a cute, everyone laugh and then pull her back to her feet kind of way. In a don’t sit within a ten foot radius of her in Potions unless you want to end up sterilized or dead kind of way. It’s become something of a running gag around school – if you trip on something, you’ve pulled a Rose. If you drop something. If you find yourself tumbling down half a flight of stairs. If you set a first-year on fire by tripping mid-Lumos. If you fall of the bleachers during a Quidditch match. If you knock over eight of the twelve Christmas trees in the Great Hall in one winter.
Oh wait – those last couple were all her.
This is how I remember things starting: she was an awkward, gangly, tall eleven-year old who couldn’t help but tripping all over her robes as she made her way down the hall of the Hogwarts Express. Her bright blue eyes were too big for her face, her freckles were too numerous for her pale skin, and her flyaway red hair – which she had been tugging at all day, you could tell by looking at it - was too large for her head. Hell, her hair that day was too big for a troll.
“What are you,” a precocious twelve-year old Hufflepuff cried out asRose forward and landed splayed out across the Hufflepuff’s feet, “a witch or a graceless banshee?”
“What are you, a student or a pig-faced bowtruckle?” said a black-haired boy in defense of Rose, anger apparent in his green eyes.
That was the first time I saw Rose Weasley pick herself up, brush herself off, and tug her cousin Albus’s sleeve to lead him away from the altercation. It would be far from the last.
Which brings me back to the now. “Merlin’s beard – can’t you go one day without making a complete fool out of yourself?” I say bitingly to her, glaring down at her prone form. “Why do you even bother with Defense? You’d probably trip and break your wand if you ever actually had to use something from that class.”
Her usual reaction ensues. She pulls herself up onto her knees and begins to gather her belongings, eyes downcast and the slightest of blushes on her cheeks. Merlin. She never has the courage to fight back, to say anything in her own defense. It’s no wonder she’s in Ravenclaw rather than Gryffindor with most of her family. As far as I can tell, she is a complete wuss.
“Why don’t you do us a favor and just throw yourself off the top of these stairs?” I add, cruelly. I’m still ticked off about our class that just ended, and my anger is showing. “It would do us all some good. One less thing to step over in the halls.”
She’s silent again for a few seconds. Her eyes meet mine – which might just possibly be a first. I notice how blue they are, like the color of the sea on a warm summer day. That her face has grown into them, though they still share first place with her hair for most prominent feature. And it’s only because I’m staring directly at her that I hear the quietest of all whispers, “Because it doesn’t work.”
I don’t know if it’s possible for your heart to stop and beat five times as fast as usual at the same time, but I swear that’s what mine is doing right now. Because you call me what you want – and people have, so I know that there’s a pretty good population of people who think I’m a complete ass and spoiled and stoic– but I know that I’m not heartless.
So this how the longest five seconds of my life thus far pass: my mouth drops open a fraction of an inch while she stares an emotionless stare directly into my eyes. And I wonder if the stoicism is her trying not to let me into her emotions more than she already has, or because she’s completely broken inside. But I know it’s not the former.
I’m down on my knees now, so that I’m staring level into her eyes. “I… I didn’t mean that,” is what I come up with as my brilliant response.
She nods, averts her gaze. She places some of her belongings in her bag and reaches for some more. “Yes you did.” How have I never noticed how soft her voice is? Like a kitten floating on a cloud. Slightly musical, like a flute playing a quick tune. And about as threatening or defensive as a cotton ball. She gathers the last of her belongings and carefully places them all in their correct place, as if oblivious to the fact that she’ll undoubtedly send them awry again sometime soon.
I pull myself up so that I’m standing, awkwardly crossing my arms. I’m not entirely sure what one does in a situation like this, right now. Escort her back to her room? Bring her to the infirmary? Report her to her Head of House and put her under suicide patrol?
Lucky for me, I don’t have to decide. Because Rose’s knight in shining armor decides to stroll up at this moment. The thing with me and this dashing knight – better known as Rose’s cousin Albus – is that we aren’t actually sworn enemies, or whatever. There are things about him that irk me, and I guess the fact that I’ve contributed to the teasing of his favorite cousin has tipped the scales away from my favor.
But, come on. Cut me some slack. How am I supposed to take this guy seriously? He walks around looking pretty much exactly like his dad and gets complimented by everyone for his “level-head” and “lack of ego” and “devotion to morality” in spite of the world of golden opportunities offered him or something. Which is pretty much everyone’s way of saying that standing next to his brother – whose life goal seems to be to kiss as many girls and play as many pick-up round of Quidditch as possible – he’s normal.
“I was wondering where you’d gotten off to, Rosie,” he says as he offers her a hand, which she gladly takes to hoist herself up to a shaky standing position. His demeanor changes from friendly to cold when he notices that I am also there. “Malfoy. Don’t you have some concubine or something that needs to be shagged right about now?”
“Nice to see you to, Potter,” I growl at him. I push past them to get to the stairs, but my fingers linger briefly when they brush by Rose’s. Our eyes meet again – mine lacking the malice that I greeted Albus with, hers returning to the dull and empty discs that I had seen moments earlier. But I pull away and continue on my trip to the library.
This girl isn’t my issue. She never has been.
So why do I feel so damn guilty about not doing anything more?
Author's Note: So, that's my first chapter. Let me know if you have a comment of any kind! I love to hear feedback about my writing.