I groaned and rolled out of my warm bed. My other dorm-mates were still asleep and Steph was snoring like a monster.
I rushed to the bathroom and brushed my teeth. I didn’t look at myself in the mirror; I was used to not using a mirror to get ready by now. Expertly, I went through the whole morning not looking at myself at all. It was hard sometimes, but at other times I was so used to it, I didn’t even have to think.
By the time the others were starting to wake up, I was just finishing tying my blue and bronze tie up. I asked Steph if it looked okay and she gave me a sleepy nod. I smiled at the rest of them and rushed down the staircase.
I averted my eyes as I passed any mirrors or any surface that could reflect my face. I knew where all of them were, and I even knew where the walls that pretended to be mirrors were. I avoided them at all costs.
By the time I finally reached the Great Hall, only a few junior years were already there, scattered around the room. I walked towards the Ravenclaw table and noticed Al with his face on the table.
“Morning, Al,” I said, slipping in the seat next to him.
He jerked up. “I WANT APPLE PIE!” I laughed and he blinked stupidly. “Wait, what’s going on?”
“You were asleep,” I said, after I’d laughed at him for long enough.
He yawned and I got the delightful view of his tonsils. “Sorry,” he said, trying to hold back another yawn.
“Why were you asleep?” I asked, grabbing two pieces of toast and putting them on my plate, to try and hide my reflection as much as possible.
I’ll be honest, at mealtimes it was the hardest to hide because nearly every surface was reflective. Al yawned again and reached for some eggs. “Max and Flo were doing some interesting things last night and I couldn’t sleep because of the noises they were making. I decided to come down here, and then return later, Max doesn’t really have great stamina. Guess I fell asleep.” He shrugged.
I crinkled my nose. “I really didn’t need to know those details. I didn’t notice Flo was out of her bed this morning.”
Al shrugged and shovelled some food into his mouth. “Guess she returned in the middle of the night or something,” he said.
I sighed and reached for the jam, careful to avoid looking at all surfaces. Al frowned. “Are you okay?”
My knife hovered over the toast it was about to spread jam on. “Yes, why?” I asked cautiously.
He cocked his head to the side and looked deep in thought. “Never mind,” he said, before returning to his food. I breathed a silent sigh of relief. My secret was still safe. “So, Aria, how’s preparing for NEWTs?” Al asked.
I chewed thoughtfully. “Okay, but you know how MacMillan let slip a boggart might be in the Defence exam? Well I’ve never actually tackled a boggart. So that’s really the only thing that might make me fail.”
Al scoffed, “As if you’ll fail! But you never tackled a boggart?”
I shook my head. “Nup, when the rest of the class did it, I was in the hospital wing because I’d gotten food poisoning.”
Al nodded thoughtfully and took a bite of his toast. “I’m pretty sure Peeves would have an idea where a boggart is,” he mused, after finishing the last bit of his toast.
I nodded and started to eat my own food. He asked, “Do you want me to ask him? I could teach you how to do the spell.”
“Sure,” I said, giving him a smile, “that would be great thanks!”
He smiled at me and I returned to my food. I’d always wondered what my boggart would be, and thankfully Peeves liked Al, so we (hopefully) wouldn’t be annoyed by him.
“Aria!” a voice called out. I turned around to see Al, shoving his way through the crowd of people. “Aria!” he said, once he reached me, “Peeves told me where a boggart is! D’you want to go now? You have a free right?”
I nodded. “Sure! Where is it?”
“Follow me,” he said, grabbing me by the hand. A few people gave us strange looks but I ignored them. “It’s in here,” he said happily, pushing me in an empty classroom.
“Why would it be in a classroom?” I asked.
Al shrugged. “I think this is the room where people usually sneak off to; maybe the professors thought it would be better to put the boggart there so they wouldn’t sneak out.”
“Charming,” I muttered, “so what do we do? Do we just wait for it to come out?”
He shook his head. “It’s just in that cupboard. So we open it, and then it walks – or slides, or flies or whatever your boggart does to move – out and we say the charm to get rid of it.”
“Okay,” I said nervously, “what’s the charm?”
“Riddikulus,” he said, grinning at me, “and you need to think of something ridiculous to put your boggart in. Like my boggart is some flame thingy but I just thought of a water balloon dropping on its head.”
“Fire?” I asked, looking at him.
Al shook his head and moved his fringe out of the way. “Nah, my Aunt Luna told us all about these fire things. I can’t remember what they’re called, and then as a kid I was really interested in fire so I put my hand in it.”
I snorted and he said, “Hey! I was eight! I didn’t know any better! I still have a scar, see?” He showed me his hand and sure enough, there was a scar running down the edge of his palm.
“Nice,” I commented. He pretended to tip an imaginary hat and I giggled. “Okay, so are we going to start?”
Al nodded. “Sure, but did you want to try and say the charm first?”
“Yeah, okay,” I said, “Riddikulus? Was that right?”
Al nodded and he said, “Just out of curiosity, what is your boggart? It would probably help if you know so you can make it funnier.”
I thought about it. “I actually have no idea; guess we’ll have to find out.”
He nodded and pointed his wand at the cupboard. “You’ll be okay?” he asked.
I nodded and he flicked his wand. The door started rattling and Al looked at me nervously. The doorknob turned slowly and when the boggart walked out, my stomach dropped.
It was me.
My heart thudded painfully and I felt feverish. No.
I was vaguely aware Al screaming at me, telling me to do the charm but it felt like I was under water and all I could hear were some strange sounds.
He jumped in front of me and it spun into a large flame-person-thing. He muttered, “Riddikulus,” and a water bomb landed on it. As soon as it had disappeared, he turned to me.
“Aria? Are you okay?” I shook my head and he made me sit on the table. He then crouched down to my eye-level and asked, “Why is your boggart you, Aria?”
I buried my head in my hands. “I don’t want to say.”
“Aria,” Al said, tugging my hands away from my face, “come on, tell me. I won’t make fun of you or anything.”
I sighed and removed my hands from my face. “Don’t tell anyone else though. I – I have a phobia. It’s quite unusual.”
Al sat down next to me. “Tell me,” he said simply.
I looked him in his (very green) eyes and said, “Don’t laugh at the name. It’s quite stupid.” I waited for Al to promise not to laugh and then said, “It’s called cacophobia.”
Al looked confused and I clarified, “It’s the fear of ugly people.”
“But you aren’t ugly!” Al protested.
I bit my lip. He wrapped an arm around me and said comfortingly, “It’s okay though, we’ll get you through this. I’ll show you how pretty you really are.” I scrunched up my nose. “You aren’t ugly; it’s just a mind-trick.”
“So you’re saying I’m loopy?” I asked, offended.
Al’s eyes widened. “No! It’s just that your mind is playing tricks on you!”
I stood up and snapped angrily, “This is why I haven’t told anyone about this! People just think I’m insane!”
“Aria! Hold up!” Al got off the desk and beat me to the door. “Anyone who has a phobia has something wrong with their brain –” He broke off when he saw my eyes narrowing. “Not that you have something wrong with you! It’s just like a glitch in the system or something! Aria, come on!” He grabbed my hand and pulled me back into the classroom when I tried to walk out.
I went to say something rude to him but he said fiercely, “Be quiet and listen to me. You aren’t letting me explain myself!” He ran a hand through his hair frustratedly.
“Listen. Every person with a phobia has something different with their brain to an average person. Not that it’s a bad thing! So what if you have a phobia? Everyone has one, but yours is just too negative. You are probably afraid of something, but you’re afraid of yourself and that isn’t right. That’s the only thing that’s wrong with you. But that’s easy to fix. And that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to fix you.” He leant back and watched me warily.
“I am not broken,” I spat, “I don’t need you to fix me, Al. I’ve been living with it my whole life; I can keep dealing with it.” I stalked off and heard Al curse from behind me.
The bell had run signalling for lunch. I stalked off to the kitchens rather than the Great Hall. I didn’t want to see Al and listen to him saying he wanted to ‘fix me’.
I grumbled and tickled the pear. If it wasn’t for Al, I wouldn’t have known where the kitchens were and how to get there. As soon as the doorknob appeared, I walked in to be greeted by a house elf.
“Hello Miss Williams! How may Dipsy help you?”
I smiled down and asked politely for some lunch. They bustled and gave me a plate of pie. I thanked them all and walked back to the Ravenclaw tower.
“What always runs but never walks, often murmurs, never talks, has a bed but never sleeps, has a mouth but never eats?” The doorknocker asked me.
I thought about it and as soon as I worked out the answer, a voice said from behind me, “River.”
“That is correct,” she sung in her melodic voice. At least, I thought it was a she. The door swung open as I turned around to see Al, staring at me with a curious expression.
I narrowed my eyes at him and slammed the door before he could walk in. The knocker let out a disgruntled noise before asking Al another riddle. I took this opportunity to rush to my dorm and eat my lunch.
“Aria?” I heard Al call out. I decided not to waste my time by answering him. “You’re in your dorm, aren’t you?”
The way he said it, as if I was a child, got me so mad, I put down my pie and stormed out.
“What do you want?!” I yelled at him.
“I just want to make you better!” he said, sounding frustrated.
I glared at him and said frostily, “It’s actually none of your business! So stop sticking that nose everywhere!”
I went to go back upstairs and he grabbed my hand. “Aria, come on. What you have, it isn’t normal!”
I wrenched my hand out of his grasp and spat, “I don’t care, it isn’t even that big of a deal! You’re making a mountain out of a molehill!”
“I think that you’re making a molehill out of a mountain,” he said, folding his arms. I glared at him and retreated back to my dorm. I went to finish my pie but it was cold.
Stupid Albus Potter.
I was sitting in Transfiguration listening to Professor Chang when I heard someone whispering, “Psst!” to me.
I ignored them and continued writing notes.
Circe was widely known as the witch who turned sailors into pigs –
That someone then flicked a piece of parchment and made my hand jerk, which caused a big splotch on my own parchment. I cursed under my breath and glared at the thrower.
Al. Of course.
I hissed, “Later! Leave me alone!”
“Miss Williams, did you have anything to say to the class?” Professor Chang asked coldly.
I shook my head and she said, “Then don’t talk in my class, Aria.” I nodded and she returned to teaching us about Circe. I gave Al a glare and returned to writing notes.
Another piece of parchment came flying my way. I grabbed it out of the air and read it.
Sorry for being a jerk.
I grumbled and continued my note-taking.
“Aria!” I heard Al shout out. I grumbled and turned around.
“Al, just leave me alone. I don’t care if you think I’m a freak. I don’t need to be fixed!” I said, scowling up at him.
He rolled his (extremely green) eyes and pulled me in an empty classroom. “Al! I have to go to Arithmancy!”
“Skive,” he suggested, “I am.”
I rolled my eyes and said, “Well I’m not you am I? Thank God.”
He ignored that and said, “Come on, just hear me out –”
“Pretty sure I did that a few days ago. Just leave me alone!”
“Look, I was doing some research on it and there was all this stuff. It’s easy to get over, just like the way some people get over their fear of heights, they keep testing themselves!”
I frowned. “What do you mean?” He pulled out some papers from his bag and showed them to me. “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system,” I read aloud.
He explained, “People with a fear of heights will sometimes purposefully go do stupid things to try and get over it. Like my brother, he was terrified of heights but he loved Quidditch. So he went and jumped off towers –”
“No wonder he’s a Gryffindor,” I said dryly.
Al grinned, acknowledging my wit. “But as I was saying, he isn’t afraid of heights anymore, he was self-helping himself. So he basically put himself in positions that terrified him so he could get over it. And that’s what you have to do.”
There was a pregnant pause and I let the information sink in. “Al, that’s the most stupid plan I have ever heard. How would that even work?!”
He ran a hand through his messy hair. “I don’t know! It just works with so many others! Why wouldn’t it work with you?!”
“Because apparently I have a problem,” I spat.
“Don’t get angry at me Aria!” Al said exasperatedly, “I just want to help you!”
“Well you can stick that help up your –” I was interrupted by the door opening.
“What are you two doing in here?!” Professor Chang said.
“I can’t believe you got me a detention,” I grumbled, cleaning the trophy. I was determinedly not looking at the surface, and Al noticed.
“I said I was sorry! But look Aria, this phobia is affecting your daily life. That’s when a phobia goes too far!” he said, waving his cloth around like a loon.
I huffed and he said softly, “Come on, Aria. Let me help you, I’m your friend.”
I put the trophy down and said quietly, “You don’t understand. I know that I’m ugly, and that terrifies me! I have no idea why, it just does. I mean, people have a fear of weird things all the time, why can’t I have mine?”
“Because Aria, if you’re afraid of yourself and your so-called ‘ugliness’ –” He made quotation marks in the air. “That’s not healthy. Those kinds of things can lead to self-esteem issues and then even worse things. I know you think you won’t end up like that,” he said, cutting me off, “but no one plans to end up like that. It just happens. And I don’t want it to happen to you,” he finished softly.
I blinked. “Okay,” I said faintly, “you can try and help me.”
He smiled gently at me and Chang walked back in. She looked at the trophies and smiled. “Very good, guys. You can go back now, just try not to get in any more trouble, yeah?”
We nodded and she let us leave. “So when do you want to start practicing?” Al asked.
I shrugged and he suggested, “Tomorrow? It’s a Saturday.”
“Sure,” I muttered. I realised how unenthusiastic I sounded so I smiled at him and bade him goodnight. He gave me a hug and I stalked back upstairs.
Bloody Albus Potter.
When I went down to the Great Hall, Al was already sitting there, talking to a bunch of his mates. I sat down next to him and he pushed a plate of food towards me.
“Morning,” he said with a smile, “you ready for today?”
“Al’s teaching me how to tackle a boggart,” I said quietly.
She leant back into Max’s arms. “Oh,” she said, sounding distinctly uninterested.
Al and I ignored her and he said, “You should start eating. It will probably take a while.” I nodded and munched on my toast. When I finished Al led me away from the Great Hall into the same classroom we were in the other day.
He turned to me and I said, “So what are we going to do? Just force me to look at myself?” I tried to hide the shake in my voice because I was terrified. It gave me a sense of unease and my heart was beating irregularly. I kept taking quick breaths and I felt slightly dizzy.
He shook his head and moved his fringe from his (gorgeous green) eyes. “This is going to sound a bit weird, but I’m going to act like a psychologist type of thing. Practice for later,” he said, winking at me. I smiled slightly because from the first day I met Al, he’d always wanted to be a psychologist.
And he’d probably be perfect at that role. He was very good at getting your weakness and then turning it into a strength, or just eradicating it entirely.
I nodded and sat cross-legged on the table. “So, where do we start?”
Al pulled out his glasses (that he rarely wore) and perched them on top of his nose. “First, I must look like a stuck-up square.” He tried flattening his hair (and failed) and tucked the ends of his trousers into his socks.
I laughed and he took them off, mussed his hair up again (not that he needed to) and pulled his trousers out of his socks. “No, we won’t start there. But we will start why you think you’re ugly.”
I grimaced and asked, “Do we have to?” He nodded and I sighed. “Isn’t it obvious? I have uneven eyes, one of which is lazy, an ugly-moss-like eye colour, short eyelashes, not enough eyelids, they’re kind of squinty, they’re too far apart for my face, there’s the purple bags under my eyes which make them look puffy and make them squint even more, they’re just –”
“Woah! Hold up! You put that much effort in thinking about your eyes?” he asked, perplexedly.
“Not everyone has perfect eyes like you, Mr Gorgeous-Emerald-Eyes,” I retorted, lying down on the desk where Al joined me.
He snorted. “Perfect? Okay then. I wear glasses, so that’s one fault there. My eyes are uneven as well – courtesy to Lily for pointing that out – but I don’t let it get to me! I don’t think it makes me ugly! You focus on the negatives of your appearance, focus on the positive parts.”
“But there’s none!” I protested.
Al snorted and made me sit up. “Let me describe a person and I’ll ask if you think that makes them ugly or not.” I nodded and he grinned. “Blonde hair, blue eyes.”
“That’s easy, they’re usually pretty,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Really? Does Siobhan Finnigan make you think of ‘pretty’?” he asked, smiling widely. I frowned and had to agree with him. Siobhan had dirty ratty blonde hair, with blue eyes, but she refused to take care of herself and I think she also refused to take showers. She had pimples, always had a scowl and had unfortunate freckles everywhere.
Al noticed my expression and said, “See? Now… brown hair with brown eyes?”
“Pre –” I started to say but paused, thinking of a Slytherin in the year below us, who had brown hair and brown eyes but was absolutely hideous. I was terrified of him, not because of his ugliness (well, maybe a little bit) but because he knocked out a seventh year when he was in first year with one punch. He definitely was not pretty.
Al grinned and said, “Black hair, green eyes?”
“Pretty,” I responded immediately but then my eyes widened when I realised what I said.
“I know I’m pretty but that isn’t why I’m laughing,” he said, laughing.
I frowned and asked, “Then why are you laughing?”
He picked up a lock of my hair and said, “Look at this colour. Is it black, no?”
My mouth dropped open slightly and he smiled gently. “And your eyes, they’re green as well. So on one level, you think you are pretty.”
My mind was going in circles as I twirled my hair around my finger. Al said, “Let me describe a girl, and see what you think of her.”
“Okay, so she’s got black hair, it’s about to her waist and it’s nice and wavy, she has these pretty green eyes that stand out and everyone notices them, she has this adorable button nose –” At first I thought he was going to describe me, but as soon as he said ‘button nose’ I knew it wasn’t me. I unfortunately got my mums large nose. “She has a gorgeous smile, with very white teeth, a small petite frame with long legs, and there’s other pleasing parts but I’m not going to go into detail.” He winked and I swatted him lightly on his arm. He laughed and I couldn’t help grinning back at him. “So you think this girl is pretty?”
I nodded and he beamed. “I just described you, Ria,” he said, using my old nickname. I scrunched my nose up.
“No it isn’t, I don’t have any of those attributes. Actually, I have black hair but that’s it. My nose is larger than Pinocchio’s!”
“Who?” Al asked confusedly.
“Muggle fairy-tale,” I said, shaking my head, “but I’m not like that. I have frizzy ugly hair, ugly moss eyes, crooked teeth, my top lip is fatter than my bottom, I’m lanky and I definitely do not have long legs.” I shuddered and Al frowned.
“Look I took photos of different body parts – not of you, but I wanted to show you some,” he said, pulling out some sheets from his bag.
I frowned and took the photos from him. They were muggle photos and I stared at them. There was a few noses, ears, arms, feet, legs, stomach, eyes, smiles, the works. Most of them must have been models because even though there were only bits, it was absolutely gorgeous. After I stared at them for a while, Al plucked them out of my hands and threw them on the floor.
“What are you –?”
He held up a hand and then waved his wand over the scraps of paper. The joined together and revealed a rather average looking girl. She was nice looking, but she wouldn’t make you double back to look at her. I bit my lip and Al smiled.
He pulled another bunch of photos for me to look at. As soon as I saw them, I wanted to throw them away. They were ugly and it was terrifying me. My hands started to shake and Al noticed.
“Here, throw them on the ground,” he said, putting a hand over my shaking one.
I closed my eyes and chucked them onto the floor, listening to that rustling noise I loved. Al murmured, “Open your eyes.”
I obeyed and saw that the bunch of photos put together made the girl look like a supermodel. My mouth dropped open and he said softly, “So do you understand that people might have the nicest smile but they might not be considered attractive? And that people might have the ugliest hands in the world, but they look like a supermodel?”
I nodded silently and understood what he was trying to say. You didn’t need to be perfect in every aspect to be considered ‘pretty’.
“Did you want to look in a mirror now?” he asked, interrupting my thoughts.
I blanched and said weakly, “Do I have to?”
He shook his head. “You don’t have to, but maybe if you stare at yourself for long enough, it might go away.”
I grimaced and felt my heart beating irregularly. My face warmed up and my mouth had suddenly gone dry. I licked my chapped lips and Al pulled out a mirror.
Immediately I squeezed my eyes shut and protested, “I can’t Al. It terrifies me.”
“Aria, you read that thing before. You just have to think positively when you look at yourself. Just try it, for me?” he asked, giving me a pleading look.
I closed my eyes again and took a deep breath. Blindly, I reached for the mirror and then I felt Al putting it in my hands. I brought it up to my face and opened my eyes.
My first reaction was to jerk the mirror away but Al held my hands still. I scowled and averted my eyes but he said warningly, “Aria…”
I gave him a glare and looked at my reflection. My face twisted into a grimace and I started feeling dizzy. The person in the mirror terrified me. The uneven eyes, the too big crease between the nose and the pale lips. The person bit their lip and the crooked teeth showed themselves. I felt sick to the stomach.
I closed my eyes but Al said softly, “Pretend that it isn’t you. Pretend you look like…” he trailed off, trying to think of a pretty girl.
“I’ll pretend that I’m Steph,” I said, thinking of her light brown hair with her stormy grey eyes. She was pretty and being her friend really made me feel ugly.
Al scrunched up his nose but shrugged. “Okay then, pretend that you’re Steph. You have brown hair, blue –”
“They’re actually grey,” I interrupted, knowing Steph hated when people said she had blue eyes.
“Grey eyes,” Al said, nodding, “her smile and her freckles.” I smiled, thinking of Steph. She was very pretty in a ‘cute’ type of way. Although when you tried telling her that, she scowled and hexed you.
I nodded and looked back at the mirror, pretending to look from an outsider’s body. My mouth dropped slightly as I realised that the girl in the mirror wasn’t ugly, but quite pretty. She had pretty green eyes, with ebony hair that contrasted her creamy skin.
I blinked and then all of a sudden, the pretty girl in the mirror turned back into the ugly thing I remembered. I dropped the mirror and felt slightly sick.
Al rubbed my back soothingly and said quietly, “You thought she was pretty for a moment, didn’t you?”
I nodded and wiped my damp forehead. He passed a bottle of water to me and I gladly took it. “But then I remembered who I was. It hit me like a tonne of bricks,” I said, grimacing.
Al smiled and said, “See that’s a bit of progress. You just have to train yourself to look at how an outsider would look at you.”
I picked at my nails and Al said, “Can I ask something?”
“Already did,” I quipped, feeling a smile make its way on my face.
He laughed and said, “When did you start getting cacophobia? Did it come randomly or was there a trigger?”
My head pounded as I tried remembering when it first started. “I – I don’t know…” I mumbled.
“Just think hard about it,” Al pushed me.
I bit my lip and closed my eyes. “Go back in years. Like last year did you have it? If it’s yes, you go to the previous year to remember if you had it and so on until you remember a time when you didn’t have it.”
I nodded and thought about it. Sixth year, I had it. Fifth year, it wasn’t as bad as this year but I still suffered from it. I winced, thinking about when I had to go to Mungos to visit someone and saw the mutilated faces. That probably heightened it.
“Well, in fifth year I visited Mungos and saw a bunch of patients with their faces all –” I faltered and Al gently encouraged me to keep talking. “Their faces – it was horrible. Blood everywhere.” I winced and squeezed my eyes even tighter but all I could see was the man with half his face melted off.
I felt like I was choking and Al asked with a calm tone, “Is that when it started?”
I slowly opened my eyes and concentrated on the faded ceiling, taking deep breaths. I shook my head and said, “No but that was when it got really bad. I couldn’t even look at your hair sometimes because it was so messy, and that made me anxious.”
Al frowned and went to pat his hair. “How did you get over that?”
I shrugged. “I told myself I was being stupid. You were my friend and I shouldn’t have been afraid of your hair.”
Al’s eyes (read: emerald coloured gems) lit up ad he grinned. “Excellent!” he said, still grinning like a fool.
“Why are you grinning?” I asked.
“You told yourself to get over it. So you just need to do the same again!” I felt my lips popping open as I thought about his advice.
I nodded and smiled. “Yeah, okay. So how are we going to go about this?” I asked, sitting back up.
Al grinned even wider and waved his wand so all his papers flew back into his satchel. “I know the perfect place! Follow me,” he said, grabbing my hand and taking me to this mysterious place.
After we arrived on the seventh floor corridor, he dropped my hand and paced up and down, muttering slightly to himself.
I refrained from saying anything but nearly died of shock when a door appeared out of nowhere. “Wha – How –?” I stuttered.
Al wrenched the door open and pulled me inside. Inside was a room I’d never seen before and there were curtains surrounding all the walls.
Al had been watching me the whole time I spun slowly in the circle. I looked at him and he answered my unsaid question.
“Welcome to the Room of the Requirement,” he said, smiling at me.
I must have looked confused because he clarified, “It tends to your needs. You have to pace up and down three times thinking about what room you want. Let’s say you wanted to study by yourself but the library or common room was too noisy so you’d come up here and immediately thousands of books would appear, nice comfy chairs, peace…” he trailed off, smiling slightly.
“You sound like you’ve been there before,” I said, grinning at him.
“Of course. Where do you think I do all my studying? My cousins annoy the crap out of me when I’m at the library and when I’m in the common room first years are always squealing.”
“Why didn’t you ever bring me here?” I accused him, laughing.
“Maybe I liked studying without distractions,” he said light-heartedly.
I smiled slightly and he said, “Okay, so if the room worked like I wanted it to, there should be mirrors under the curtains. He took a peek and nodded his affirmative.
“So… am I just going to stand in front of the mirror and yell at myself?”
“If that works.” He shrugged.
I bit my lip and shuffled nervously. My mouth had gotten dry and I felt like I was going to pass out at any second.
“Hey, don’t be scared,” Al said softly, coming up to give me a gentle hug. I didn’t respond but tucked my head into his chest. I tried to ignore the loud thumping of my heart.
We stayed like that for a while but then I finally stepped away from him. “Okay,” I breathed, “let’s do this.”
Al gave me a supporting smile before moving one of the curtains out of the way.
I didn’t see my reflection yet and I waited but then Al said, “Just look at yourself, Ria.”
My legs disobeyed my brain and moved forward to the mirror. I’d always liked mirrors; I just didn’t like the reflection.
After I’d done all the procrastinating I could, I finally looked at that glass. My heart started to pound as I looked at the familiar pale face. I felt like I was going to be sick and I went to avert my eyes before I remembered I was being stupid.
Aria Williams. You are being ridiculous. You are not ugly.
I’m not a beauty queen either.
The other side of my brain (which sounded suspiciously like Al) screamed in frustration. I was actually insane.
You don’t have to be a beauty queen! Just get over this stupid fear!
I grimaced and stared at myself. My eyes were okay-ish. My pale skin wasn’t pasty, but creamy. My nose could do with some work and my lips lacked in colour, but I wasn’t ugly.
I smiled and then winced as I saw that familiar crooked tooth. Then I shook my head to try and get rid of that negative thought. It was still nagging in the back of my mind, but it was a lot quieter than usual.
After I had stared in the mirror long enough, I tore my eyes away from it. “So?” Al asked hesitantly.
“Nearly. It’s going to take a while… but it helped.” I gave him a smile and he swooped down to hug me.
I kept my arms around him once he put me down. “Thank you,” I said quietly.
He smiled that gorgeous smile his and rested his forehead against mine. Normally I would pull away and demand what he was doing, but it just felt natural with him.
I smiled and he started tracing patterns in my back. I knew where it was going and I didn’t want to stop him.
He reached down to kiss me, and I felt like I was in one of those muggle movies where the guy gets the girl and the girl is cleared of her problems and they live happily ever after.
But it wasn’t like the movies. I was still terrified of being ugly, I had yet to tackle a boggart and I was insane, but Al was a constant in my life that I could deal with.
He’s brilliant that Albus Potter.
disclaimer: none of this is mine. everything is j.k rowlings except carlo collidi's pinocchio
so this was probably the hardest challenge i had to write... cacophobia is an actual fear though in case you were all wondering
anyway, tell me your thoughts even if it's 'OMG THIS IS SO BAD STOP WRITING'
well hopefully that isn't the thought you get but...