I sprint up to the dorm room, and sit down on my bed, swinging my legs back and forth.
I doubt they believed I actually had more homework to do, I mean, they're not stupid. But I don't hear anybody, not even Rose, coming for me, so they must have bought my silly lie. Hm, they're still at dinner, maybe I could actually sneak down to the kitchens and get some...
I can't believe I'm hungry. I'm not hungry. I can't be.
Well, you did only eat those crackers, which you got rid of…you could probably just go and have a snack,
competes my mind.
Yeah, I could do that. Just a snack, that's all I need.
I quickly sneak down to the kitchens, absentmindedly tickling the pear.
I could eat a horse.
No I couldn't.
The battle inside my head is stopped shorty by a shrill voice exclaiming, "Miss Willow! How lovely to see you this evening! What shall it be, some fruit, a salad?" The house elf, Mimi, goes on, naming my usual requests. But I'm feeling adventurous today.
"A steak and kidney pie, please," I ask, hoping it brings no questions. House elves are curious, they are.
"How unusual, but of course, right away!" And Mimi's off, and I hear the clank of pots and pans. I sit at the table, and within minutes, my very large pie has appeared.
I could never eat all of this.
But I do. All of it. In five minutes, tops. Blimey.
This was most definitely a bad idea.
When Mimi asks if I am interested in anything else, I quickly shake my head and scurry back to my dorm. How eventful. Rose isn't even back from dinner yet, so I can formulate a more convincing excuse in my head.
Well, she really does never see you do your homework, your excuse will actually work just fine, she knows those essays are rough, even if they only take her ten minutes to do with her special Granger genes.
I'm satisfied with my plan, so I lay back on my bed, ignore the pains that are beginning to form in my stomach, and close my eyes.
There's a voice growing louder and louder in my head, it's quite annoying, really. Until I realize it's not in my head. It's Rose.
"If you think I will buy that- that pathetic
excuse you are oh so wrong Willow! I just can't even believe you couldn't stay for dinner! You didn't even meet all the Wotters, and Scorpius came over a minute after you left, and we were all going to have a nice welcoming dinner, but no
, Willow's too fragile for this, isn't she?" She rambles on and on, as I come to.
The more awake I am, the more I realize my stomach is on fire.
"Rose, I really did have that essay, you know I take a longer time to do them than you," I argue weakly, trying to get to the bathroom.
"Then what are you doing sleeping? You know what, I don't even care. Get up, we're going back to the common room, where you will apologize to the whole family! They don't even know what they did wrong!"
"They did nothing wrong Rose, I like them, but listen..."
"Don't give me that. Come on." She grips my arm and pulls me up. I quickly reach back and grab my wand, shoving it in my back pocket. As I am dragged down the stairs, I can feel the bile rising up in my throat.
"Rose, just-" I can't talk anymore, I will vomit.
Rose drags me into the common room, and standing in a group is the Wotter clan, looking at me, just looking.
I take one look at them, and violently retch every last bit of the steak and kidney pie.
Oh. Oh Merlin. Bloody hell, this is bad. Rose released her death grip on me as soon as it started, and I ended on my knees, the heaving was so intense. I don't want to look up and see their faces. Ever since I was young, and would vomit, my eyes would tear and run endlessly, and it seems the habit has not let up. So, now it looks like I'm crying, I've retched all over the floor, (luckily not on me), and oh right, it happened right in front of the Wotter clan. Great. I wish I didn’t have to get up, I don’t think I can ever face them all again.
"Scourgify," I hear someone mutter, and the steak and kidney pie is gone. Just the reminder of it sends me into a coughing fit, and I have to cover my mouth with my hand.
"Is she okay?" I hear Roxanne, I think, ask. "Maybe we should just let it pass," says a voice similar to hers, but older and male. I don't recall meeting him.
And it does pass. I take my hand of my mouth, and quickly glance at it before hiding it behind my back. It's smeared with blood.
"Willow, was that blood? Are you okay?" I hear Rose's frantic voice coming closer to me. I finally look up at her, and see the concerned furrow between her eyebrows.
I don't know what to say. I swallow quickly as I stand up, trying to get rid of all traces of blood in my mouth. It tastes revolting.
"I'm fine Rosie, the House elves' dinner earlier obviously just went down the wrong way," I say quickly, and give her a close mouthed smile.
She doesn't buy it. "Show me your hand, WIllow," she demands.
I show her my right, the one that's currently not hidden behind my back, covered in blood.
I look down, bite my lip, and slowly withdraw my left hand.
I do. The blood is beginning to dry, turning brownish, it's quite disgusting, really.
"Willow, that's blood, you're obviously not okay. I'm taking you to the hospital wing."
"No Rose, I'm fine, just had a bit of a coughing fit, no worries-"
"It's not fine, there's blood all over your hand!"
I begin, my voice so harsh she actually listens. "You're not taking me anywhere.I don't need your help
. I. Am. Fine." I sound mean, like my mom does sometimes. When she comes home late at night and yells. It's scary.
I seem to have forgotten the others in the common room, for I hear a collective gasp as Rose takes a step back from me. She looks hurt. Actually hurt.
I squeeze my eyes shut, praying for this all to go away.
"Rose, I-" I start my apology, taking a tentative step forward.
"Oh no Willow, you made yourself perfectly clear." Did I mention she's stubborn?
Hugo protectively steps forward, gently grabs her arm, and leads her back to their group.
Me against all of them. It doesn't seem too fair, does it? Well, I guess this will be the second time I'm leaving the Wotter's without true explanation. I walk past them all, out the Fat Lady portrait, and to the Quidditch Pitch
A run, that's what I need. I start off with a steady jog, increasing with speed until I'm at a run. I don't even count how many laps I do, I just go. It takes a while for me to notice to steady sound of footsteps behind me. I cock my head around to see who it is: Albus.
Whatever, it’s a free wizarding country. He can run if he wants, he does play Quidditch,
He’s catching up to me. I subtly increase my speed, but my breaths are becoming ragged. Damn he’s fast.
“Hey.” He says, like we’ve been friends for years, together on a friendly run.
“Hi,” I say, in between breaths.
“How about we take a break, yeah?” I nod and slow down, until we both slowly stop. He sits, and I tentatively sit down in front of him. It seems neither of us are too keen on starting a conversation.
I start slowly. “So, Rose is mad-mad at me, right?” He nods. “I didn’t, I didn’t mean what I said, I just got, angry. I think vomiting does that to you.”
“Spikes your emotions?” He says with a chuckle.
“Well, maybe! I dunno.” I start shaking my head, “I need to go apologize. But she’s so stubborn. Maybe I should wait until tomorrow, but we share dorms! I’ll wait until tonight. In the mean time- Oh! I haven’t written to Arlo in weeks, I need to…” At this point I’m talking to myself. Albus is staring at me with a slight smirk, almost as if he thinks I’m crazy.
People who don’t eat
“Tell me about Arlo. I only heard a little bit at dinner.” I gulp. Dinner was terrible. I quickly nod though.
“He has the same hair as me, reddish and curly. His smile can turn around my day. He loves to draw, especially with his little spurts of magic. Sometimes it makes his little stick figures walk. He loves it. My dad started teaching him basic things, so now we can write letters to each other. He sends me a drawing each time.” Arlo’s the one thing that can make me truly happy, I miss him so much.
“You must miss him.” Albus replies. I draw my knees up to my chest. “I do.”
“I can tell,” Albus starts, “Because you never really seem happy. You always look like you’re missing something. Also, you’re really thin.” I stand up.
“Well, I eat.” I say coolly. No you don’t.
“I’m fine. I’m happy.”
“Willow, I don’t want to push, but Merlin. I can see your bones, you’re so skinny.” I start shaking my head, faster and faster.
“Stop. You don’t even know me at all, I’m fine. I’m happy.” I repeat, hoping that it will actually come true. But a question pops into my head.
Are you happy not eating? Are you happy throwing up everything you eat? Does it make you feel good?
It makes me skinny. But do you really need to barely eat to be skinny? Rose is skinny, but she eats.
Am I really happy doing this to myself? I mean, I hurt, my stomach, my throat, everything.
But I’m skinny.
“Willow,” Albus says softly, breaking me out of my reverie. His hand reaches up and interlocks his fingers with mine, pulling me back to the ground. He doesn’t let go, though. My knees are up to my chest again, and my head is resting on my knee, my face turned towards him. “I didn’t mean to pry,” he says. “I just, I want to help you, you know? I don’t think you’re truly happy. I’ve never seen you eat a meal. Not since fourth year.
“How would you know?” I reply, lifting my head off my knee. “I just met you today.” Albus turns a little red. Huh.
“Well, I mean, I saw you a lot around in the school, so it’s not like I stalked you or anything. I just saw you a lot, so I uh, I watched.
“So, I’ve got my own personal stalker?” I can’t remember how long it’s been since I made a joke. Usually it’s Rose. He chuckles, running his hand through his hair, still a very Weasley red.
“But, I eat. You don’t have to worry. I go to the kitchens.” He nods, but the look on his face tells me he doesn’t believe me.
“Well. Friends?” He asks. I nod, a small smile on my face.
“Uh, Albus? Are the others, are they mad at me? I really did have that essay…”
“Okay, I know you didn’t have an essay. I’m still trying to figure out why you left, but I’m quite good at catching a lie. But yeah, all the others bought it. I think you’re in the clear for that one.” I’m surprised. I always thought myself to be a fantastic liar. I shrug.
“I’m a woman of mystery,” I joke, waggling the fingers of my free hand. I think I’m having a fun conversation with Albus Severus Potter. And holding his hand. Insane.
“That you are. Hey, it’s getting late. Come on back to the castle. It’s also time to apologize to Rose!” I shake my deep auburn curls and force my long legs to straighten and stand. Since our hands were interlocked, I dragged him up too. Oh, I should definitely let go of his hand. We’re just friends. Bloody hell. But I feel like a little kid. Like by just holding this hand, I’ll be protected. Nothing can get to me. So I don’t let go. Not all the way back up to the castle.