Absolutely beautiful chapter image by Beeezie @ tda!
I don’t like mirrors. I don’t like reflective surfaces of any kind. I don’t like getting my picture taken. Anything that somehow captures my image is deplorable. I don’t even like to make eye contact with people. It may seem illogical, but if I don’t look into another person’s eyes, then I can pretend like they aren’t actually looking at me. I’m like a child that covers their eyes when they want to hide, believing that what they can’t see can’t see them either.
People really don’t get my aversion to seeing my own image. They think I’m just shy. They think I’m reserved, introspective. And I suppose those things may be true at times, but that’s really not why I try to hide myself.
My mum thinks I’m just overly sensitive. She says that all teenage girls feel uncomfortable and self-conscience about their appearance. She says that it takes time to grow into yourself. Yeah, well it’s easy for her to say. Once she’d passed through her awkward stages and learn to de-puff her hair, she’d turned out to be rather beautiful. Boys at school like to make crude jokes about her. They aren’t as bad as the ones about Aunt Ginny or Aunt Fleur, but they’re irritating nonetheless. Drawbacks of having a famous family, I suppose. Everyone knows who you are.
Speaking of my mum, she glanced back at me from the front seat of the car. “Are you all right, Rosie? You’re awfully quiet.”
When I glanced up, I fixed my gaze at a spot just over her shoulder. I didn’t want to look into those brown eyes, the ones I’d inherited. “I’m fine, Mum. Just a little tired is all.”
“I thought you’d be excited,” she said. “You’re about to start your sixth year. Aren’t you happy to go see all your friends again?”
“Sure,” I replied, holding back a sarcastic comment. I don’t really have many friends, not if you don’t count my family. The Weasleys breed like rabbits and at this point, I think I may be related to half the school. But if you discount my numerous cousins, there really aren’t all that many people I willingly spend my time with. Or I suppose a better way to rephrase that would be there aren’t that many people who willing spend their time with me.
Now don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not trying to say I’m that stereotypical girl. You know, the one who thinks she’s just this giant loser but someone ends up being the most loved person in the world once she goes out and gets a makeover, finds some confidence, and dates some gorgeous guy who is clearly just as perfect as she’s suddenly become. Even if those stories actually existed in real life, they were still stupid. If nothing else, they displayed just how shallow the world really is.
I suppose I was playing up the apathy a bit. I’m really not an unfeeling, uncaring blob of nothingness. But at this moment, I just can’t be arsed to care about going back to Hogwarts. It just means going back to endless food, endless work, and endless irritation. Really, that place isn’t as wonderful as people make it out to be. Boarding school is stupid. Who in their right mind wants to get a bunch of teenagers and force them to live with each other? That’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
My brother, Hugo, was staring at me. He’s a bit of an odd kid. I know most people say that about their siblings - we’re genetically programed to only see the worst in each other – but in this case it really is true. He’s a bit socially awkward. Although, the same can be said about me and half of my cousins. Growing up with parents who try to isolate us from society because of our unwarranted fame can have some detrimental effects. It was a good idea, in theory, but it probably could have been better executed. Too little too late, I suppose.
“What do you want?” I asked him sullenly. Oh yeah. I am just a font of teenage angst today. No one understands my inner pain and all that rubbish. Perhaps I should go out and get some ill-advised tattoos and piercings. I could even dye my hair black. Because I’m a rebel.
“You could put a basilisk to shame,” Hugo muttered back to me. Hey look. He actually learned a clever joke. My little boy’s growing up.
All sarcasm aside, I promise I'm not like this all the time. Yes, I’m really not one to skip around and sing songs from musicals all day long, but I do, you know, smile and stuff. I have a good life, I really do. I have a very large and loving, if eccentric, family and a lot of great opportunities. I don’t deserve it.
“Ron! Watch the road!” Mum yelped as the car swerved suddenly. Hugo was thrown against me for a brief moment before I shoved him off. He doesn’t wash his hands. I do not want that touching me.
“Sorry, sorry!” Dad said, his ears starting to turn red. “That dog came out of nowhere, I swear!”
“You just weren’t paying attention,” Mum said testily. Here we go. It’s time for their first bicker of the day. The first of many. If I didn’t know that my parents were happiest when they were arguing, I’d wonder how they managed to be married this long.
“Can’t you just leave it be?” I asked irritably. “You two don’t need to get so touchy about little issues. It drives me mad.”
The car fell silent. I could see the worried looks both my parents wore in the rearview mirror. They didn’t say anything, though. By now, they knew there was no point. Mum still tries to fight against it sometimes, insisting that I’m just a moody teenager, but she really can’t argue with the tests.
“What’s the problem this time, Rosie?” Dad asked me, following a period of silence.
I just looked away, not wanting to them the truth. What was I supposed to say, that I didn’t like the fact that they’d taken a picture of Hugo and I before we left? They worry enough about me as it is, and though they never say it, I know they lament the fact that they can’t have a normal family. I’m not going to take pictures away from them, too.
Although, it is a bit baffling that they haven’t put that one together yet. They know I don’t like reflections or eye contact. Shouldn’t the next logical step lead to pictures? But then again, when people don’t want to see something, they can be astonishingly stupid. I’m just glad my parents haven’t quite reached that level.
“I’m going to get a girlfriend this year,” Hugo suddenly piped up, breaking the tension and shifting the attention away from me.
“Oh, my little boy’s growing up,” Mum cooed. What d'you know. I guess she and I really are alike after all. I did think it with a lot more sarcasm than she said it, though. Baby steps.
“Any girls in mind?” Dad asked, smiling and making a turn onto a different road. We were close to the train station.
“Eva Longwell,” Hugo said proudly.
I snorted. “Isn’t that the girl whose socks you stole last year? I thought she told you to stay away from her.”
“Shut up,” Hugo said, glaring at me. “That was a misunderstanding.”
“Is that so? Because I understood her threats for a restraining order quite clearly.” My brother, bless him, is terribly unfortunate when it comes to the opposite gender. I mean, he’s never been exactly normal, but when girls are involved, he becomes extra creepy. Poor child.
“I said, shut up!” he snapped.
“Rose, leave your brother alone,” Mum reprimanded. I could tell Dad was trying not to laugh, though. Win for me.
I grinned at Hugo. Baiting him never failed to put me in a good mood. “Maybe you could ask James for advice. He turned his borderline obsessive crush into a full-blown relationship. I’m sure he could give you some tips.”
I could tell Hugo was struggling to find something to be offended about in that statement, but was finding nothing. There’s no way he could deny being obsessive about this Eva girl. I mean, c’mon. He stole the girl’s socks.
“We’re here,” Dad announced and I found myself grinning, suddenly excited. This was going to be a good year.
“Let’s go!” I said excitedly.
Upon arriving on Platform 9 ¾ we immediately sought out Uncle Harry and his family, like we’d done every year. Even after all these years, my parents and Uncle Harry were still as close as ever. I suppose you can’t collectively work to defeat the most evil wizard of all time without forming a strong friendship. But still, you think they might be just a little sick of one another after living together in a tent for months on end.
The Potters were rather easy to spot, their bright red or messy black hair being rather recognizable. Plus, whenever they were out in public places, there always seemed to be a sort of bubble of space around them. People liked to crowd around them, but they always gave them a radius of space. It was like they were simultaneously giving them privacy and intruding on said privacy.
As we approached, James was the first one that caught my eye. He was craning his neck, searching the platform for something – or rather, someone. He glanced at Al quickly before continuing to flick his gaze over all the people waiting in front of the Hogwarts Express.
“Have you seen her yet?” I heard him ask Al as I walked up to them, Hugo close behind me.
“Who, me?” I asked, holding back a smirk. “You’re looking for me, aren’t you James? Surely there isn’t any other person you’d be looking for right now.”
James and Al both turned, grinning. “Of course it was you,” James joked. “You’re right, who else would I be looking for?”
I shook my head at him and winked quickly before he pulled me in for a hug. “Good to see you, Rosie.”
“Yeah, because it’s been so long,” I laughed. “A whole week apart, the horror!”
James laughed as well and Al smiled. James had once been very reserved and withdrawn, keeping aloof from people. Mum says he never reacted well to the unwarranted fame that he’s received for being the firstborn son of “The Chosen One,” something Uncle Harry has always felt guilty for. He even began to shut out family, which is a bit ridiculous, considering that we’re all in very similar boats, metaphorically speaking.
Last year, however, James started to open up a bit more. He began to take time to get to know us all, spend time with us. And then a few months ago, he became pretty much the most outgoing person I’d ever met. The change was startling, unexpected, but really one of the best things to happen to him. And the cause for that change, and the person James was actually looking for, arrived in the group next.
Faith Sullivan started dating James at Teddy and Victoire’s wedding last February, following a very complicated couple months. Faith was a complex person who had struggled with accepting the childhood trauma of the death of her twin sister. James was the one who helped her get over it. Now they were the world’s most adorable couple and were almost sickeningly perfect for each other.
Faith arrived with her parents, who were immediately drawn into conversation with my parents, Uncle Harry, and Aunt Ginny. Faith threw herself into James’s arms, nearly knocking him over as she hugged him. James laughed, righting himself and setting her back down.
“Hey, Faith,” he said, trying to act cool. I snorted and he shot me a look, but I saw Al smirk as well.
It looked to me like Faith was suppressing a snort as well. Nobody knew better than her that James wasn’t cool. “Do I even need to say it?” she asked.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. ‘James, you’re not smooth,’ I got it,” he sighed.
Faith patted his cheeks in mock consolation, smiling. “You’ve learned your lesson well, young Padawan.”
Al and I exchanged looks and rolled our eyes. They were always going on about this Muggle thing called Star Wars. Al threw his arm around me, and gave me one of his looks. Al was probably my best friend. I certainly spent more time with him than anyone else and he understands the best. He’s always the most patient, the most helpful.
“How are you feeling, Rosie?” he asked me, guarded concern in his eyes.
I shrugged. “All right, at the moment. If you’d asked me about ten minutes ago, the answer would have been different, but that’s the nature of the beast, isn’t it?”
The corner of his mouth twitched slightly, but he still looked rather sad. “You’ve got that right.”
I noticed Faith looking at us in confusion. Even though I’d known her for a while – before she and James even became friends, let alone started dating – she had no idea about… it. I wasn’t keeping it a secret, per say, it just never came up. It’s not exactly a conventional topic of conversation.
“Everything okay, Rose?” Faith asked worriedly. James, Al, and I all exchanged quick looks. Now was not the time. So I shrugged again and brushed off her question. We’d tell her eventually.
James caught Faith’s attention again and Al and I started greeting our other family members that were showing up. Hugo and Lily were talking with Louis, and Molly and Lucy had just arrived. It felt odd to be going to school without Fred or Roxy, but they had both finished at Hogwarts last year.
Faith had just asked Al and me about what classes we wanted to take this year when the last person of the group arrived. Brendan Waters is my closest friend, other than Al. He's a sixth year Gryffindor, like us, and has the patience of a saint. He and Al were my perfect foils, being completely tolerant and kind. They've never gotten irritated with me for being… well, me.
“Hey Brendan,” Al and I said at the same time. We shot each other a look before we busted out laughing.
Brendan shook his head. “I swear, you two seem more like twins than cousins sometimes.”
I grinned. “Awesomeness is genetic. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Now that’s just offensive, Rose. Are you implying that my parents aren’t cool?” Brendan shook his head. “For shame. They'll be so disappointed to hear that.”
“I’d never say anything bad against them,” I protested.
“Speaking of, where are your parents?” Al asked, looking around. It was only Brendan there, with his owl.
“Very astute, Al, where are your lovely parents, Brendan? And your sister for that matter.” I joined Al in searching the platform.
“My parents both got called into work, so they had to leave,” Brendan said carelessly. “And Emily ran into a group of her friends.”
We chatted idly for a few moments. I think the reason I’m such good friends with Brendan is because he’s so harmless. The bloke is polite, tactful, and unassuming. He’s like the Pope or the Dalai Lama or something. Even my dad, the most overprotective person I know, can’t find fault with him. Mum suspects that we’re going to get married or something, claiming that we’re just like her and Dad. That really couldn’t be further from the truth, as the only similarity is that we’re a boy and a girl who are friends with each other and a Potter. Yet she never believes me when I tell her, quite honestly, that I have absolutely no interest in Brendan nor he in me. Gross.
At the sound of the warning whistle from the Hogwarts Express, we all paused in our conversations to say goodbye to our parents. Hugo gave Mum a perfunctory hug and Dad gave him a gruff handshake – bad move Dad. That was definitely not hygienic. He’ll want to sanitize his hand, and probably entire arm, as soon as possible.
Mum gripped me tightly when it came to be my turn. “Have a good year, Rosie,” she whispered. “We’ll see you in a month for your next appointment. Study hard. We’re very proud of you.”
I nodded, feeling my smile begin to grow a bit forced. I hate it when she tells me she’s proud. It’s not as if I’m under enough pressure as it is. No, she just has to go and add more.
Dad ruffled my hair before hugging me as well. “I love you, Monkey,” he said. I smiled at the endearment he’d given me when I was a kid and liked to climb everything I could.
“Love you too, Dad.”
Backing away, I glanced over at Al and Brendan and jerked my head towards the train. “Let’s go, prats. Hogwarts is a-waiting.”
Welcome to my new story! This is the sort of sequel to Finding Faith. If you haven’t read Finding Faith, don’t worry, you should be perfectly fine reading this one without it. It basically tells the story of Faith (shocker) and James the previous year. But if you want to read it, go ahead!
Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think. If you’re a bit confused, that’s okay – you’re supposed to be. Once again, I’ll be dealing with a bit of a sensitive issue, so feedback is greatly appreciated.
Disclaimer: Not J.K. Rowling. Never have been J.K. Rowling. Never will be J.K. Rowling. Also, Star Wars (otherwise known as the greatest movie(s) in the world) was created by George Lucas.