You know your life ain’t normal when you can see dead people.
No, I’m not kidding.
Yes, I am sane.
For the most part.
I think it all started back when I was five.
My fifth birthday to be exact.
I was in our back garden, lying in the grass, looking up at the endless blue sky and thinking about five-year-old things, when a shadow crossed my face. I looked up to see an old lady smiling down at me.
And somehow, even then, I knew
she was dead.
I also knew that I was the only one who could see her, because a split second later, my twin brother had come sprinting through the back door, grabbed my hand, and dragged me inside, without even sparing a glance in the direction of the old lady.
“Come on, Ellie!” Chris had said. “Mum and Dad are waiting inside!”
I’d looked back at the old woman, who was still standing there, smiling serenely at me.
“But –” I’d tried to stop, or at least, slow down.
! The candles will have melted all over
the cake by now!” Thank God Chris has grown out of the melodrama.
“But can’t you –?” I turned around again to look at the lady. She placed a finger to her lips and smiled.
I didn’t see the old lady again until that night, when she appeared out of nowhere at the foot of my bed, just after I’d been tucked in for bedtime.
“Hello, Isabella,” she’d said, smiling.
“It’s Ellie, actually,” I’d informed her, with about as much haughtiness a five-year-old in her nightie could muster.
Her smile had widened. “Well, then, Ellie
. Do you know who I am?”
I’d shaken my head no.
“I’m your great-grandmother.”
I’d blinked at her in surprise. “What are you doing in my bedroom, great-gran?”
“I’ve come to have a talk with you.”
“Really?” I could barely contain the excitement. I bounced a little in the bed. “About what?”
“What gift? I got a few today, but –”
“Not those gifts!” She’d said, laughing. She’d had a nice laugh, my great-gran.
I’d cocked my head to the side, my two plaits swinging. “Then what gift?”
“The same gift as mine. You, Ellie darling, can see ghosts.”
I’d laughed then. “Everyone can see ghosts, though! Mum said so! She said that Hogwarts was full of ghosts!”
“Not those kinds of ghosts.”
I waited for her to continue. This was turning out to be even better than Dad’s stories!
“After death, one must make a choice. To either stay amongst the living, spending the rest of eternity as a silver spectre of your former self, or to go on. But there are those who cannot make the choice.”
“Why can’t they?” I’d whispered.
“Because they’re stuck. For some reason or another, the poor souls can’t move on. Something’s keeping them tied to Life.” Something about the way she’d said the word, made me think that she meant it with a capital letter. “Some unfinished business, some unknown fear.” She stopped and looked at me. “Do you understand?”
I looked back at my great-grandmother, sitting at the foot of my bed in what appeared to be her nightgown, and I did what only a child could do after such a revelation.
She smiled at me. “And these people, these who can’t move on, are invisible, which makes it all the worse for them. But people like you can see them, Ellie.”
I stared at her for a long moment. “But… other people can’t?”
She shook her head.
“Not even… Chris?” For the first time in my very short life, I realised that there might be something that my twin brother and I didn’t share. Couldn’t share.
And that scared me.
She shook her head sadly, seeing my fear.
I wasn’t bouncing with excitement anymore.
That was twelve years ago.
And life had changed, as one would expect.
It was no longer my fifth, but my seventeenth birthday.
And Chris and I were visiting Mum’s grave, like we did every year on our birthday.
We stood side by side, looking down at the gravestone, where a fresh wreath of white roses had been placed.
“I miss her,” Chris murmured.
I twined my fingers in his and gave them a little squeeze. “So do I,” I murmured back.
Eight years ago, a year before we began at Hogwarts, the Great Magical Flu Epidemic happened. Unimaginative names aside, the little virus was damn deadly, mutating within hours of infecting a person, so that the Healers had barely designed a cure for one strain that another popped up. Mum worked at St Mungo’s, and like every Healer at the time, she was quarantined inside the building until the Ministry declared it safe.
Many people died of the Flu, and unfortunately, my mother was one of them.
We didn’t even get to see her until her final hours.
Dad was a wreck for a while after that. He tried not to let it show, but it was hard.
My only consolation was that I didn’t see her after she died. It meant that she’d left at peace with the world.
“We should probably head back,” Chris said after a while.
“Yeah. Wouldn’t want to miss our own cake!” I answered cheerily.
We grinned at each other and headed off.
I lived in Oxford with my Dad and twin brother, Christian. Dad was a Muggle – a Professor at the University, but he mostly worked from home, on some new ancient text or another.
“We’re home!” I called as we walked through the front door.
Dad poked his head out from the study and smiled absently at us. “Did you two leave?” he asked.
I rolled my eyes and headed for the kitchen. Dad was one of those people who lived with his head constantly in the clouds.
“Did you remember the cake?” Chris asked.
“What for?” he said, coming into the kitchen.
“Are you kidding me?” Chris asked as he opened the fridge and grabbed the carton of orange juice. He unscrewed the lid and drank straight from the bottle.
I scrunched my nose in disgust. “You know, they invented glasses a while back.”
The little git smirked at me. He may be only eighty-seven seconds younger than me, but sometimes, he tended to act like it was eighty-seven months. Or maybe he was just being seventeen.
“Yes, I was kidding. Of course I remembered the cake! When have I ever forgotten?”
Chris and I exchanged a glance, not wanting to mention the three other times when he had
forgotten. Like I said, head in the clouds.
“Hey, Chris! You up for a quick game of Quidditch? Scorpius just came over, so we’ll have even teams!” Albus Potter said as he sauntered into our kitchen.
“Potter! You can’t just barge into people’s homes like this!” I cried.
“And like you’re going to stop me, Anderson?” he smirked.
“I bloody well will –”
“Like you have for the past seventeen years.”
Did I mention that we were next door neighbours to the Potters?
And yes, that would be the famous ones.
And yes, Albus was my brother’s best friend.
And yes, we didn’t like each other.
I narrowed my eyes at him.
He ignored me, his stupid green eyes twinkling with triumph as he turned back to Chris. “So. Whaddaya say?”
Chris shrugged. “Let me get my broom.”
“I’ve got to get back to work, sweetheart,” Dad said, dropping a kiss on my forehead. “I’ll see you at lunch.”
So that left Potter and me in the kitchen.
He sauntered over to the fridge and pulled out the orange juice carton and chugged some of it down, once again, straight from the bottle.
“Are males physically incapable of getting a bloody glass?” I muttered in disgust.
“You said something, love?” Potter asked innocently.
I glared at him. “Are you in the habit of drinking juice straight from the carton from other people’s fridges?”
He grinned. “Only yours. For some reason, it tastes better.” He winked at me.
I glared at him some more.
He had the nerve to lean on the bench and grin at me.
Albus Potter looked a lot like his father. They shared the same emerald green eyes, and the same black hair, although, Albus’ was a lot more tame, obeying the laws of gravity and growing down, instead of up. He had a tall, lanky build, but his muscles were toned to the kind of level which made the entire female population of Hogwarts (minus myself) drool with longing whenever he took off his shirt at Quidditch practices, which from what I’d heard, was quite often. Now that his elder brother, James, had graduated, the great Quidditch legacy, complete with the Captaincy of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, had passed on to Albus.
“Liking what you see, love?” he drawled.
“You wish,” I said with an eye roll.
“You keep doing that and one day, they’ll get stuck.”
I rolled my eyes again, just to piss him off.
“So… any plans for the day?” he asked casually.
“What do you care?” I snapped.
“Just trying to be friendly.”
“Don’t. At least, not with me.”
“Now, now, Anderson. Don’t you think it was time we moved past our differences?”
“Why not? Scared you’ll fall for me?”
“In your dreams, if you’re lucky.”
“Then why?” I was surprised to hear a note of genuine curiosity hidden behind all the banter.
“Because I don’t like you. And you don’t like me.”
He was about to say something, but at that moment, Chris came into the kitchen, his broom slung over one shoulder. “Let’s go!”
Potter straightened and headed over to the kitchen door, which led out into our garden and a cleverly hidden Quidditch field beyond. “See you later, Anderson.”
“I’d rather not,” I replied.
Chris rolled his eyes at our familiar exchange. “Wanna come, Ellie?”
I shook my head. “You know I don’t do Quidditch.”
He shrugged. “Suit yourself. If you’ve got time, could you have a look at my new piece, then? It’s lying on top of the piano.”
I nodded and headed for our music room.
The music room was supposed to be the formal lounge, I think, but various instruments had commandeered the space over the years.
Whilst I had a gift for seeing dead people, Christian had the gift of music.
Guess which one of us got the better end of the stick?
But I didn’t hate him for it. He loved music and he was damn good at it, having worked long and hard to be where he was now.
All I did was occasionally counsel a few lost souls in the right direction. No skill or talent needed for that.
I plonked down onto the piano stool and had only managed to play the first few bars of Chris’ new piece, before a voice spoke up, “What the hell are you doing in here on such a beautiful day like this?”
“Why does everyone keep on barging into my house like its there’s?” I asked, as I turned to face my best friend, Rose Weasley.
She grinned at me from the doorway, her angelic face framed by thick waves of red hair. “It’s because you always leave the back door open.”
“Ah. That explains it.” I grinned back. “When did you get here?”
“About half an hour ago. I was just talking to Aunt Ginny, before I remembered that there was a sale on at the mall today and –”
“Are you seriously dragging me to the mall on my birthday
“There’s thirty per cent off all stores, including the bookstore.”
“Let me grab my keys.”
Ten minutes later, we sauntered into our local mall, heading straight for the bookstore. The first thing Rose and I had bonded over was our mutual love for books.
“Oh my Merlin! His new book’s out!” She picked up a book from the New Releases stand and waved it under my nose.
“How the hell can you stomach all that doom and gloom?” I asked, pulling my head back before I sustained a deadly paper cut.
“The same way you stomach all those corny historical romances.”
“That’s completely different.”
“No, it isn’t. Anyways, I heard that there was a new store.”
“If it doesn’t have to do with books, movies, TV shows or video games, I don’t want to hear about it,” I said, turning my attention to the Best Selling shelf. It was completely full of teenage vampire romances. Must be the new book fad.
“It’s a mystic shop,” Rose continued, completely ignoring my previous statement about not wanting to hear about it. “And shop’s spelt with two P’s and an E.”
nice. It’s said that Madame Cassandra can see all!”
“The poor thing.”
“I’m being serious! We should go check her out! She can tell you your future!”
“I don’t want to know it. I’ll find out soon enough.”
“But it’ll be fun!”
“No, it won’t. Rose, you know she’s a fraud!”
“I know no such thing!”
“She’s set up shop in a mall
. Doesn’t that tell you something?”
“Even those with the Sight have to make a living!”
“That’s true, but they don’t have to make it off gullible people.”
“I’m not gullible!”
“I didn’t say you were.”
“But you implied
“I did not!”
“If you didn’t mean that, come with me to the shop, then.” Never argue with a Ravenclaw. You tend to lose.
I sighed. “Fine. Whatever. But only for five minutes.”
Rose’s anger evaporated instantaneously as she grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the store.
“I’ll never understand your belief in all of this, Rose. I mean, you’re one of the smartest people I know, but how can you buy into all of this Divination crap?” I asked as scrutinised the spines of a shelf of books.
“You sound just like Mum, when you talk like that, you know,” Rose answered.
“Well, your mother is right about something, sometimes, Rose. She isn’t the brightest witch of her age for nothing.”
Rose glared at me and opened her mouth to retort, but before she could get a word out, a voice came out from the dark, “You do not believe, child?”
Rose turned with a little yelp! “I believe!” she squeaked.
“Not you dear.” A middle-aged lady stepped out of the shadows and into the dusty lighting of the lamps. She probably made them flicker on purpose to create the mood or something. The woman was short, with her painfully thin body swathed in shawls of differing shades of green. She wore big dangly earrings and bangles almost up to her elbows. But for some reason, she didn’t make a sound as she moved towards us. “I meant the other one.” She looked right at me.
“Um…” How did you tell someone politely that you thought that they and their entire profession were complete and utter bogus?
“That is alright dear. I have met many like you. Those who do not believe in what they cannot see.”
I huffed in indignation. I believed in loads of things I couldn’t see. Hell, I dealt with things that most people couldn’t see on a daily basis!
And then there was my Cake Sense.
“But there is something about you… something…” She took hold of my hand and closed her eyes.
I rolled my eyes in exasperation. If she was going to make a prediction about my impending death, I was going to scream. I didn’t have to come to a mall to be told that. I just visited Professor Trelawney in the North Tower for that.
“You are… different from the rest,” she murmured. Well duh. I could make things go bang by waving around a wooden stick, of course I was different.
“Different from even your own kind.” Not that was just plain mean. She made the Wizarding race sound like another species!
“You see things that others cannot see.” That was creepy. She couldn’t know about the whole dead people thing. I’d never told anyone. Not even Chris.
“I’m more perceptive than most,” I said dryly, as I tried to surreptitiously pull my hand from her grasp. But for a small woman, she had a strong hold.
And I was legit not kidding here. I always knew when there was a cake in the room, even when I couldn’t see it. I could even tell when someone was about to bake a cake, right down to what type. The skill extended to a certain degree to cupcakes and muffins as well. On a good day, I could even sense tarts.
“There is an aura of destiny around you.” Probably just dust motes, actually.
“Your future is… confusing…”
“There’s a surprise.” I looked significantly over at Rose, but she was completely engrossed in what the crazy woman who had hold of my hand was saying.
“I see… trials…” No surprises there: it was NEWTs year.
“Danger…” Life was pretty dangerous in that castle on top of the cliff in the middle of nowhere. It was part and parcel of the Hogwarts Experience.
“Suffering…” With Albus Severus Potter in my life, of course there would be suffering.
“And love…” Now, that was stretching things a little too far.
“Love?” Rose breathed excitedly. She might have been a nerdy little Ravenclaw, but she was a teenage girl, first and foremost.
“Oh for the love of God,” I sighed exasperatedly.
“Yes.” Madame Cassandra opened her eyes and finally
let go of my hand. “And they’ve already met. Two souls who have known
each other for a very long time.”
Rose was practically bursting from her skin.
I rubbed my wrist and rolled my eyes again for good measure. You could never roll your eyes too much.
“That all sounds wonderful, but we really must be going now,” I said trying to keep a handle on the sarcasm.
Madame Cassandra smiled knowingly at me. “Yes.”
I frowned at her in bemusement, before turning away and heading towards the door, Rose in tow.
“Oh and happy birthday to you and your brother,” she called.
My eyes widened in surprise and I abruptly turned back around. “How did you –?”
She smiled mysteriously. “It’s a gift. Just like yours.”
I turned around just as abruptly and hurried away from the store.
AN: Hello everyone to the first chapter of a brand new story! I’ve had the idea for Ellie’s character for quite some time now, but I haven’t managed to find the right story for her – until now…
Anyways, it would be lovely to hear what you think, because this is something different to what I’m used to writing (ie: something with an actual plot), so feedback would be wonderful!
And as always, adios amigos! And keep smiling! :D
The story’ supposed to be a bit of an adventure, with a good measure of humour and romance thrown into the mix, so let’s see how we go! It’s early days yet, but I DO have a plan of sorts for this little number, which is quite strange for me, so just be patient with this, yeah?