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Chapter 7 : Found Again
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No one paid much attention to me while I was on the stairs. They would go about their business, most talking like a major tragedy hadn’t recently taken place. Others did their best to hold it together. Of course, there were the few that took the time to speak badly of my family.
“Oh they were a rotten bunch, they were,” some bleach blonde girl told her friends. “My daddy told me that they were no better than gypsies. They deserved what they got.” Her friends nodded in complete agreement. “There was something queer about each and every one of them. Did you know that even though they were completely broke Nienna still went to that private school? Sounds fishy to me. They were just…”
“Oh shut it Cathy!” All of the girls, and even myself, were startled by the sudden interruption. I looked up to see Sarah glaring at the group. “You are a horrible wretch, all of you, to be talking badly about the dead. Why I wouldn’t be surprised if you were struck down next for spreading such lies and hate!”
All of the girls stood in shock. From the looks of it some were actually frightened by Sarah’s ‘prophecy.’ Cathy, with a smug yet noticeably shaken look on her ugly face led her gang away. I watched as Sarah shook her head and then looked at me.
“Why did you just let them say that?”
I shrugged. I hadn’t realized that she had noticed me. “I don’t have the energy.”
She came and sat by me, sighing as she did. “I’m really sorry, Nen.”
“It’s not your fault.”
She fiddled with her hands. “I’m not talking about this. I’m talking about everything between us. You were my best friend and I made it seem like I didn’t need you, that you were less than me.” I grimaced remembering our fight in fourth year. “You know, you’re the only friend I’ve ever truly had and I just go and keep screwing everything up.”
I looked over at Sarah, tears forming in her crystal eyes. “What are you trying to say?”
“I lied. I’m…I’m not really pregnant,” her voice dropped when she said the last part. I stared, wide-eyed at her.
“I was so afraid of losing Siri. You know how much I love him, Nen. I couldn’t bear losing that man and I never thought I’d have to, but then he started asking about you all the time. I didn’t let it bother me, but then I noticed him staring at you too. Then I kept finding him with you. I just couldn’t handle it. I knew what was happening and I…I had to do something. That’s when Carrie came up with this plan. She said that if I really wanted him then all I had to do was pretend he had gotten me pregnant.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. It was a lie? A lie that Carrie had talked Sarah into. Of all the things Carrie could have done…
“Do…do you hate me?”
I gently hugged her. “No, I don’t hate you.” It was the truth. I wasn’t even mad at Sarah, I was mad at Carrie. I know Sarah never would have done such a thing on her own. “Have you told him?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know how. He’ll hate me! I can’t stand keeping up with this lie though. It would be okay if he was happy, but he’s not. He’s miserable and I’m making everything worse. He misses you. He doesn’t want to admit it, but he does. I can’t compete.”
I sat there. “You need to tell him. He deserves the truth.”
She nodded. “I know. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to tell him, but I just—.”
“Oh my dear, granddaughter!” Sarah’s words were lost as I glanced up at the shrieking voice. Before me were my grandmother and grandfather. My mum’s parents. With no warning the old woman grabbed me and placed a kiss on each cheek.
“Hi,” I said unexcitedly.
“It’s been so long since we’ve seen you. You’ve grown so much!” My grandpa announced.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Ellie sadly watching me. My heart ached. These two people making a fuss over me were the only other family she had and they couldn’t care less about her existence. I looked away from her. “Could you please excuse me?” I asked politely, making a point to let Sarah know that she needed to follow.
“Of course dear.”
I made my way away from them, Sarah tagged behind. I walked over to my little sister and gave her a hug.
“How are you doing, El?”
She shrugged. “Okay, I guess,” she whispered quietly. Her brown eyes were glossy and her face was tear streaked. I grabbed her hand.
“C’mon. I want you to meet your grandparents.” I started walking back to the stairwell, but a strong hand fell on my shoulder. I looked over my shoulder to see my oldest friend, Jake. It had been years since I had last seen him and I couldn’t help but notice how different he was.
“Oh…umm…hey!” I stammered. “Could you hold on just a moment?” He nodded and I quickly led Ellie to our grandparents.
“Who is that?” she asked.
“Oh, just an old friend,” I answered, not caring to explain. Our grandparents looked strangely at us as I introduced Ellie.
“Hi,” she shyly greeted them. She had never met them. In fact, the last time I even saw them was the summer before I started Hogwarts when I stayed with them.
“Hello, dearie,” our grandmother began. Once again I excused myself and went back to where Jake and Sarah were talking.
He smiled down at me. “I was just meeting your friend Sarah.” I looked over at her. There must have been a worried look on my face because she signaled to me that nothing was going on. In my head I let out a sigh of relief.
“Well, I’m going to go help my sister.” Sarah turned and headed towards the kitchen, leaving me alone with Jake.
He smiled again and I returned it. “How have you been?”
“Well, things could be better.”
Jake nodded and then looked around. “Do you want to go for a walk?”
“I think that would be perfect.”
“I’m really sorry about…well, you know.” We had been walking for several minutes in complete silence and I was beginning to think that a walk wasn’t a great idea.
“It’s fine,” I almost snapped. I was so sick of people telling me how sorry they were. What did they have to be sorry about? Unless they took part in the murders I didn’t want them telling me sorry. Well, come to think of it I wouldn’t want the murderers to tell me sorry either. I’d just want to kill them. I shook my head. That wasn’t what I wanted to think about.
“So…what’s been going on in the last few years? I haven’t seen you since we were twelve.”
I looked at Jake. I could tell that he had sensed my aggravation. I felt bad for snapping at him, but it didn’t matter now. Instead I thought over what I should tell him. I had to be careful about what I said. Jake was a muggle and the last thing I wanted was the Ministry bothering me about revealing the magical world. “Well, I’ve been at school.”
He rolled his eyes. “I knew that, Nienna. What else has happened? You can’t tell me that you’ve been living in a hole for the last five years.”
I paused, not knowing how to take his words. He had always been sarcastic, but he seemed more annoyed than anything. “Well, I made friends and then lost some. I found out I have a knack for Divination and Runes.” My eyes grew wide with what I had just said. I resisted the urge to smack myself. Maybe if I just pretend like I didn’t just screw up he won’t notice. “Then I…”
Jake stopped. “Wait a moment. Divination? Runes? What the bloody hell is that?”
“Oh,” I said innocently. “Did I say Divination and Runes?” He nodded. “I meant division.”
He looked at me skeptically. “And Runes?”
“Runes? Oh, umm…” I hesitated trying to think of an excuse. “Well actually it’s Egyptian History. It’s just we’re studying the runes right now and I’ve found that I’m good at identifying them.”
“Hmm, right, sounds interesting.” I could tell that he was having a hard time believing me. “What else?”
“Well, this year I’ve been paired with Peter Pettigrew in Po…I mean Chemistry. He’s an alright guy, but he’s not the brightest. He’s part of the Marauders, although I’ve never quite known how he made it. Sirius told me in third year that--"
“Sirius? What kind of name is that?” He interrupted.
“Well, he’s named after the Dog Star. His parents really like those kinds of names. His brother is named Regulus.”
“Why would anyone name their child that? Sounds like a complete nutter to me.”
A strange surge of annoyance and protectiveness rose within me. “What’s wrong with that name? I was named Nienna. That’s a strange name. Do you think I’m a complete nutter?” I couldn’t believe the fury in my voice. Why had those simple words incited such a response from me? That wasn’t like me at all.
Jake stared at me. I could tell that he was indeed beginning to think I was mad. “I’m sorry Nen, of course I don’t think that of you. It was just a thoughtless comments. I’m sorry. I didn’t know you and Sirius were…”
“We’re not!” I snapped again. “We aren’t together. We…”
“Okay! I’m sorry. What the fuck is with you?”
I knew I should have just apologized, but I was on a streak and I wasn’t going to be stopped. “What’s with me? Well, let’s think about this! I just lost my whole family, Jake! Everyone, they’re all gone!” Hot tears started to spill from my eyes as I shouted. “They’re dead and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do. Just like always I was helpless. Now I’m stuck with a sister I can’t care for, grandparents who don’t care about anything other than their precious money, and a sister-in-law that is most likely leaving with her family since, oh you know, she still has one!” A horrible sob sounded within me as I fought to breathe. I turned away, trying to hide my anger and shame. What was wrong with me?
“Nen,” he started. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been such a git.” He walked around to face me. He gently embraced me as my sobs began to die down.
“No, I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s come over me. I don’t…”
“Shh,” he soothed. “It’s okay. C’mon, let’s get back to the house.”
I shook my head. “No, I don’t want to go back there, not yet.”
“Alright, why don’t we go back to my house? My mum can fix you up some of those chocolate chip cookies you love. That sound good?”
I nodded and sniffled. “Thank you, Jake. I’m really sorry.”
“It’s okay, Nen. It’s okay.”
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