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Missing by Courtney Dark
Chapter 11 : Me
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6


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Another image by heartfelt. @TDA

 
The fact that James and I are now officially a couple has already spread throughout the whole school.

The day after the Halloween Ball, James and I went down to breakfast holding hands (I know! Totally out of character for me, but what the heck) and I swear the whole hall turned around to stare at us. As we approached Aine, Mickey and Fred, Aine squealed in excitement and started clapping her hands together, looking like a lunatic. Fred and Mickey whooped and Fred swept James up in a very girly hug. If I hadn’t seen Fred making out with a tiny brunette in the Charms corridor the other day, I would’ve sworn he was gay. It was all rather embarrassing.

Anyway, now we’ve officially been dating for several weeks, and although we don’t do much other than talk and hang out, I couldn’t be happier.

Actually, that’s a lie.

There are several things that would make me a lot happier. Do you want to hear them?                                   

Don’t you roll your eyes at me! I know you want to hear them:

1. Yet another pimple has sprouted up on my nose. Aine tried to get rid of it with some stupid spell and it turned purple. Purple! I’m considering going to Madam Pomfrey.

2. The pictures of Tori that are still on my wall have suddenly started glaring at me, as if to say; “Back away from my boyfriend, you bitch!” That’s how I imagine Tori to talk, FYI.

3. Whenever I’m in the same room as Rebecca, she glares at me like she thinks she’s Medusa and can turn me to stone. And whenever she sees James, she attempts to attack him.

4. I can’t find Bernard. I think he’s escaped to the kitchens, the greedy bugger.

5. I am now officially failing Divination. I blame it on James.

Anyway, Christmas is coming (yay! Presents!) which means soon I get to go home for the holidays, sleep in my own bed at last and hear mum hollering her pants off every morning. Joy.

“Last day of school today!” Fred says eagerly, as I sit down at the Gryffindor table next to James, who kisses me on the cheek.

He he. I have a boyfriend who kisses me on the cheek!

Shut up. I’m allowed to be excited about having a boyfriend, okay? Or would you rather I be all depressed and mope about in my slippers and dressing gown with a box of cereal?

“Where’s Aine and Mickey?” I ask curiously as I pour milk onto my cornflakes.

When I was little, I always thought cornflakes were made of pencil shavings and refused to eat them. Just a little fun fact for the day I felt the need to share.

“That’s the big question,” says James.

“I reckon they’re off having sex in a bush somewhere,” grins Fred, squirting tomato sauce on his large pile of sausages.

I give him a look. “Keep it PG, Fred,” I tell him. “There are eleven year olds in da house!”

Cringe. I just tried to sound gangster again, after I promised myself I wouldn’t.

“There’s nothing wrong with sex,” Fred says, and I feel my cheeks going red as they do whenever the s word is mentioned. Let’s just say I’m not exactly…experienced in that area. “Sex is a fact of life. As a matter of fact Charlie, you wouldn’t be sitting here telling me to keep it PG if your mummy and daddy hadn’t…”

“Urgh!” I say loudly, throwing my hands over my ears. “Fred! Bad mental images! I’m going to have nightmares for weeks!”

James gently removes my hands from my ears. “Alright, he’s shut up now,” he says, giving Fred a glare. “Haven’t you, ya moron.”

Fred grins and bites into a sausage. Sauce spills all down his chin and stains his white shirt. Gross.

“So, what do we have today?” James asks, helping himself to one of Fred’s sausages. Fred glares at him (“Jamesy! Get your own food!”)

“Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Transfiguration, Herbology,” I say immediately, reciting my own timetable.

James beams at me, but Fred groans. “Care of Magical Creatures? It’s freezing today! The ground’s all iced over!”

“Maybe Hagrid will take the lesson in his hut?” I suggest. This is unlikely. Hagrid’s wooden hut is miniscule-I’m actually surprised he can fit in it, he’s the size of an elephant. A giant elephant.

Aine and Mickey haven’t returned from what Fred proclaims as their ‘little rendezvous’ by the end of breakfast, so James kisses me goodbye, and Fred and I head out of the castle to Care of Magical Creatures.  As we pass the other students still finishing up breakfast, I can’t help but notice how many shiny FIND TORI badges I see. Even though Tori hasn’t been seen since her supposed sighting in London almost two months ago, Rebecca still insists on selling her stupid little badges. Apparently the money raised has gone to Tori’s aunt, who’s attempting to track her down. It seems like everyone but me, Aine, Mickey, Fred and James has a badge, and everyone takes pleasure in flashing them to me-a constant reminder that when Tori comes back, I’ll be gone.

Yes, I know I didn’t want to come to Hogwarts in the first place, but I’ve got friends here now, and the most amazingly good looking boyfriend who sneaks me food from the kitchens. Which isn’t why I like him, of course, though I’m certainly not complaining about free chocolate meringues every evening.  I’d sneak down myself, but the giggling pear gives me the shivers. There’s something really creepy about giggling fruit.

Anyways…

Fred and I head out into the grounds and sure enough, the ground is covered in thick snow that soon makes my feet go numb, even though I’m wearing gumboots. 

“This is torture, this is!” Fred shivers angrily as we march down to the bottom of the grounds where I can already see Hagrid waving at us. He’s so large, it’s impossible to miss him.

Luckily, the Care of Magical Creatures lesson isn’t so bad in the end.  Hagrid decides to take pity on us, and we all sit around two large fires observing the little fire-dwelling Salamanders and drawing sketches in our notebooks, which is highly embarrassing, because I must be the world’s worst artist. My salamander sketch resembles a carrot. A carrot that doesn’t even look like a carrot. Fred, on the other hand has surprising artistic talent-something I wouldn’t have expected from him.

“It’s a skill,” he grins, when I comment on this. “I was born with loads of natural talent,” he adds, giving an unnecessary flourish with his quill.

I have Divination after Care of Magical Creatures, so I say goodbye to Fred, who’s heading off to Charms and begin the long journey to the Divination tower. I’ve just reached the statue of Gunhilda of Gorsemoor (who is not the best looking witch, I’m telling you) when I am suddenly assaulted by an unknown figure and pushed into an empty classroom. I start to scream and flail my arms about wildly as the unknown figure pushes me roughly against a wall. The dangerous criminal puts a hand over my mouth and in my terror, I bite down hard.

Defence against the Dark Arts 101 people.

In my opinion, the Muggle Taekwondo class I took a couple of years ago was much more helpful. I learnt how to break a wooden board in two-I was top of the class! Admittedly, I used a little bit of magic to break the board in half, but whatever. Mum was furious with me. I got an official warning from the Ministry of Magic, warning me not to use underage magic when surrounded by Muggles. It was all rather amusing.

“Bloody hell!” screams an all too familiar voice as I bite down on the figure’s fleshy hand.

I frown. Where do I know that voice from?

The figure steps away and pulls off his mask. It’s James.

Awkward.

“You bit me!” James squeaks, sucking his hand.

I stare at him. “Why on earth were you wearing a mask over your head, you weirdo?”

James grins at me. “I thought it would be fun. You know, spice things up a bit. Besides, your reaction was hilarious!”

I put my hands on my hips and give him the sort of glare I always get from my mother. “You almost scared me to death! I was like a puddle of scared-ness. In fact, I was like a little ant swimming in that puddle of scared-ness-a puddle which is so big, I can never escape and drown in the aforesaid puddle.”

What am I talking about? There is clearly something wrong with my brain.

“What are you talking about?” James asks, eerily echoing my thought.

I sigh. “Don’t worry about it. Ignore me.”

James grins. “Done,” he says, and leans forward to kiss me.

James!” I squeak, ducking away from his oncoming lips.

He has amazing lips. And he’s the best snog I’ve ever had. Which isn’t saying much, considering he’s the only snog I’ve ever had, but you know.

“What?” he asks, looking a bit hurt as I scamper away from him.

“What are you doing? We’re supposed to be going to Divination! I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want detention on the last day of term!”

He groans. “Oh, come on Charlie! Take a risk. I don’t feel like sitting through a whole hour of Divination, and I know you don’t either. It won’t matter if we skip the class-it’s the last day of term! And Professor Moon has the memory of a goldfish!”

I give him a look. “I don’t know about you, but I actually want to pass my NEWTS this year. And I’m already failing Divination, I need all the practise…”

I trail off uncertainly. James is walking towards me again, a cocky smile on his face. “Are you sure about that?” he asks, when he’s standing right in front of me.

“Y-yes?” I say squeakily, looking up at him with wide eyes.

James gently kisses the left side of my face; my forehead, my nose my chin…

My heart is pounding inside my chest like it does every time he kisses me. My palms have gone sweaty, and I seem to have lost all sense of reason…

“James!” I say, trying to sound firm, but it’s really rather hard as he is now giving me light butterfly kisses all down my neck. “We’re already late to Divination. You can’t just go round…go round…”

I let out a tiny sigh as James’ hand starts caressing my back.

Oh dear. I seem to have lost my trail of thought.

“Oh, stuff it,” I say, and allow James to kiss me.

Let’s just hope Professor Flitwick doesn’t walk in on us.

The sight of two teenagers making out might scare him to death.




We catch the Hogwarts Express from the Hogsmeade Station at eleven o’clock the next day. I have to admit, I’m kinda excited to be riding the train-as I used the Floo Network to get to Hogwarts, this will be my first time.

The Hogwarts Express is a big, scarlet steam engine, but while it looks impressive from the outside, it’s pretty shabby and old on the inside. The gang (for those who don’t remember, that’s me, James, Aine, Mickey and Fred) take a compartment to ourselves, and settle down for the ride back to Kings Cross Station.

“It’s kind of weird, isn’t it, the train?” I say aloud, as I snuggle up next to James, who has his arm around me. It’s strange, I’ve gone from this person that despised any and all human contact to a girl who cuddles up to her boyfriend.

“What’s weird about it?” James asks, as though I’ve personally offended him.

“Well, you’d think students would get to Hogwarts in a more magical way,” I say. “You know, by flying carpet or something.”

“Trains are much more comfortable, though,” Aine points out, but no-one gets the chance to respond, because at that moment, Fred spots the lunch lady in the train corridor and goes bolting off to buy food.

Five minutes later, Fred returns with his arms filled with food-it seems like he’s brought the whole bloody lunch trolley! The good thing about Fred is that he is a very sharing person, so he spreads out his purchases (including chocolate frogs, cauldron cakes, pumpkin pasties and liquorice wands) all over the compartment, and we dig in.

I’m just starting to think that this is going to be a very pleasant ride home, when our compartment door slides open, and Albus pokes his head through the door, looking awkward. I’m leaning on James, so I immediately feel him tensing up at the sight of his brother. What did Albus do to make James hate him so much? I still haven’t plucked up the courage to ask yet. Especially because, after what the twins told me, it seems like it has something to do with Tori, and both James and I avoid bringing her up, if we can help it.

“What are you doing here?” James asks brusquely, and I realise he’s gripping his wand sticking out from his pocket very tightly.

Albus adjusts his glasses nervously, and takes a rumpled piece of parchment out of his jeans, and hands it to James, who just stares at it.

“What’s this? A piece of parchment to blow the compartment up?”

“James,” says Aine quietly, and there’s a warning tone to her voice.

“It’s from mum,” Albus says. “It says…well, I guess you can read it for yourself.”

James snatches the letter and Albus hovers in the doorway uncertainly. James glares at him. “You can go now!” he snaps, and Albus hurries out of the compartment, and back down the hall. I watch him go, feeling a bit sorry for him.

We all watch James read the letter from his mum in silence. Albus’ appearance has certainly changed the mood in this compartment. I wonder if anyone else actually knows what’s going on between James and Albus or if they have just decided to take James’ word that Albus is a first class asshat.  I watch James anxiously as he stuffs the piece of parchment into his pocket. “Nothing to worry about,” he says, kissing me on the top of my head. “Mum and Dad are both too busy to come and pick us up, so they’ve sent a driver.”

I feel my mouth drop open. “You have a driver?”

Wow. His family must be rich. Like, rich rich.

Oh, right. His dad’s Harry Potter.

James rolls his eyes at my expression. “Please don’t go on about it,” he says. “I already get enough shit from Fred about it.”

Fred grins. “I just find it amusing that I’ve got a snobby rich younger cousin,” he grins, ruffling up James’ hair.

“I’m only a month younger than you, you moron!” James laughs, batting Fred’s hands away. “And if you think I’m snobby, you are clearly suffering the affects of a disillusionment potion, my friend!”

We all laugh and the tension in the compartment evaporates.

We finish off Fred’s large supply of food and continue the journey to Kings Cross without any more…unpleasant encounters.




Mum comes to pick me up from Kings Cross.

I spot her immediately because she is dressed like a bumble bee.

Merlin, I hope you are looking down on me right now. Because if anyone else sees the woman I’m forced to call family, I’m going to die of humiliation.

“Hey, look at that woman!” Fred grins.

I’m sure you lot are all smart enough to work out who he’s pointing to.

But for the less intelligent specimens, I’ll tell you anyway: he’s pointing straight at my black and yellow striped mother. Oh the shame.

The rest of the gang follow Fred’s gaze and immediately begin to laugh. I feel my cheeks going as red as the delicious tomato soup mum makes.

“What’s wrong, Charlie?” Aine asks suddenly. “Do you know that woman or something?”

“No!” I say, a little too quickly. “No, of course not!”

“CHARLIE!” Mum suddenly calls out very loudly, waving and starting to run over to me.

Cringe.

If there was a shovel around, I would seriously dig myself a hole and never come up.

The rest of the gang all turns to gape at me and I determinedly stare at a brown stain on one of my shoes. I seriously hope that it’s a chocolate stain, not dragon dung.

Mum rushes over to me and throws her arms around my waist, ignoring the fact that several people are staring at the wings she’s wearing on her back. Honestly, she’s as weird looking as Professor Moon. Weirder, in fact. Is she wearing a bumblebee outfit simply to embarrass me? Or is this some sort of new phase in 'Fasion for Middle Aged Witches?'

“Hi mum,” I mumble embarrassedly, trying not to catch the eye of James or one of the others.

Finally, just when I feel like I’m about to suffocate, mum lets go.

“I’ve missed you so much, Charlie!” she gushes, and I hear Fred and Mickey guffawing. Then Mickey yelping as Aine hits him on the arm.

James clears his throat loudly, and both mum and I look at him. My cheeks go bright red again. I bet James’ parents aren’t as embarrassing as this. I know his mum, Ginny Weasley, used to play Quidditch for the Holyhead Harpies. She sounds pretty cool.

“Oh,” I stammer. “Erm…mum, this is James, my…friend.”

James glares at me playfully, but mum has already thrown her arms around him.

Kill. Me. Now.

“Oh, it’s so nice to meet you James!” she says, as Fred and Mickey try-and fail-to hide their sniggers at James’ startled expression. Thanks mum. The only boyfriend I’ve ever had is probably going to break up with me now.

“It’s…it’s nice to meet you too, Mrs Parker,” James stammers, gasping for air as mum is almost strangling him.

“I’m so glad that Charlie’s finally found some friends!” Mum continues, and I groan inwardly. “She’s never really had any friends before, you know. She was always such a quiet child…got bullied when she was younger…”

“OKAY MUM!” I say loudly, grabbing her arm, and dragging her away from my startled (but attractively so) boyfriend. “Time to go!”

“But darling, I haven’t met all your friends yet…”

“Aine, Fred, Mickey…” I say shortly, glaring at the boys because they’re all still laughing. Idiots.

“Now come on, let’s go.”

I drag mum away; my face still flaming red.

“Have a great holiday, Charlie!” Aine calls out, waving cheerfully.

“We love you, darling!” chorus James, Fred and Mickey, mocking my embarrassing mother.

Oh, I can’t wait to see them again next term. What fun we’ll have.

“Your friends seem nice,” mum says.

We’re in her nana car (it’s one of those hideous yellow, squashed up things) on the way home from the station, and mum is insisting on asking me all about life at Hogwarts, even though I’d prefer a nice, peaceful silence.

“Yeah,” I say dully.

“And that James is a real looker…”

Mum!” I squeal, horrified. “Please don’t say things like that! And no-one says ‘looker’ these days, either!”

“Oh? So tell me, darling, what slang to modern day teenagers use then, eh?”

I just roll my eyes and stare out the window. We’re in the Muggle part of London, in a busy street crammed with traffic and bustling shoppers. It feels…weird to be in this environment again. The environment I grew up in. When at Hogwarts, it almost feels like you’ve stepped into the wrong century. There’s no modern technology, no electricity, no TV, phones or computers. Coming back into the real world is surreal.

“I’d have thought you’d have a bit more to say for yourself after four months away from home,” mum sniffs.  I give her a look, making her laugh. “I guess nothing’s changed then, has it darling? So tell me one thing: are you enjoying school? Because if you’re not…you don’t have to go back. Not if you don’t want to.”

My heart begins to pound. This is my opportunity. I could tell her everything. How I’ve taken the place of a girl that went missing at the end of last year. A girl nobody knows is dead or alive. I could tell her how everyone in the school glares at me, how most people still don’t know my name. How everyone still sees me as Tori’s replacement. How the photos of the blonde, beautiful girl glare down at me when I’m lying in bed.

If I told her all these things, she wouldn’t make me go back to school. And isn’t that want I wanted?

But then…then I realise how much I really want to go back to Hogwarts. How much I’m already missing the people who I’ve come to know as friends-the few students who actually know my name. How would I feel if I could never see Mickey or Fred again? Fred, who is constantly eating and smiling and Mickey, who looks tough but is the nicest guy you’ll meet. And what about Aine? The girl who tried to make me feel welcome, the girl who stopped Rebecca from killing me on my very first day? And then of course, there’s James, my gorgeous hunk of a boyfriend. He’s the main reason life at Hogwarts is bearable. Because of him, I can ignore the looks I get from almost every other student in the school. I can cope.

I give mum a big smile. “It’s great!” I say. “I can’t wait to go back!”




The first few days of the holidays fly by. Mum takes me into Diagon Alley on Tuesday to buy some cream for that “horrible purple pimple” as she so kindly puts it. This gives me an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts for all my friends.

I’ve never really had friends before (as mum so nicely told James) so this turns out to be unexpectedly difficult. Well, Fred is easy. I just buy him food, knowing that will make him happy. I go into Quality Quidditch Supplies where I purchase a pair of thick Keeper’s gloves for Mickey and the latest edition of the Quirky Quidditch magazine for James. I find a very large turquoise peacock quill for Aine that I think she will like and a bottle of fluorescent ink. 

I spend most of the rest of my holidays in bed, reading books and eating chocolate. Yes, I realise how anti-social and lazy that sounds. But I’ve been socialising all term! I’ve barely had a moment to myself. I need some much-deserved alone time.

Midway through the holidays, I get a very long letter from Aine, who has gone to the Cook Islands for Christmas. She’s enclosed a picture of her wearing a bikini, multi-coloured sarong and large pink flower in her hair. I’m so jealous. I’d love to go to a tropical island, lying out in the sun all day, reading and getting a tan. My skin is currently a pasty white colour. I look like a parsnip with a cold.

Christmas day soon arrives complete with my mother’s Mrs Claus robes and the rest of my family arriving.

My family members are all completely bonkers. I’m not even kidding, I’m the sanest one of them.

On Christmas morning we all exchange presents (the highlight is when I give dad, who’s mortally afraid of bugs, a bug trap that I found at a little stall in Diagon Alley.) My Uncle Bruce, who is a very fat, bald man, who reminds me of a hard boiled egg roars with laughter and sweeps me into a sweaty hug.

No, you idiot! That wasn’t the highlight! Sure, ever since I got a boyfriend, I’ve relaxed my ‘don’t touch people’ motto slightly, but Uncle Bruce’s hugs are still nothing to get excited about.

Mum plays the radio loudly all day, listening to this ancient singer called Celestina Warbeck and we all eat piles and piles of food. I gorge myself  on potatoes smothered in butter, thick slices of Christmas ham, juciy turkey, roasted chestnuts and bacon wrapped sausages. My trousers begin to feel uncomfortably tight but I go ahead and eat a large serving of Christmas pudding with warm custard anyway.

Heaven.

Oh Merlin, I'm beginning to sound like Fred!

However, the highlight of Christmas comes late that night. I’ve just had a shower, so I'm wearing a pair of cozy pyjamas and a fluffy dressing gown when I hear a tapping noise at the frosted window. Frowning, I turn to see a large, handsome owl hovering outside my bedroom, a scroll of parchment and a small red box tied to its leg. Because I’m all ANIMAL POWER, I hurry over to the owl, detach the scroll and box from its leg, give it a sip of water to replenish the poor creature’s energy and then watch it fly away into the star-spangled sky.

I sit down on my squashy bed and unroll the scroll. I can tell immediately that it’s from James, and my heart begins to pound excitedly and the flush that appears whenever I think of James creeps into my cheeks. His writing is as appalling as ever, and I have to seriously strain my eyes to read what it says. I think he should consider getting one of those quills that just writes whatever you say to it in immaculate hand.

Dearest Charlie, the letter reads.

Aw. I can’t believe he wrote ‘dearest Charlie.’ How gorgeously romantic. I expect most guys would just write ‘Charlie’ or ‘Hi’. I really have the most spectacular boyfriend.

I hope you’re having a good holiday at home with your…mother. When I met her at the train station she seemed very glad to have you home, so I’m sure you’re eating lots of nice food. Neither of my parents can cook at all, and everything they do cook is loaded with butter. Usually they just order takeout from the Muggle pizza shop down the road…

Hmm. So there is something the fantastic Harry Potter can’t do: cook. Shame on you, Harry!

…even so, my holiday has been pretty good so far. My ridiculously large family came around for Christmas dinner today, and Fred is currently making immature kissy noises at me, which is very off putting. Of course, my Christmas would be a lot better if you were here to enjoy it with me. I miss you so much, Charlie…

Eek! He misses me! I could faint with joy! Except I won’t, because I’d probably knock my head on the corner of my bed and get a concussion.

…life just isn’t the same without you in it. I can’t wait to see you when term starts again, though I’m not looking forward to telling Professor Moon my dog ate my homework. Literally. I found it all slobbered up and chomped on in his food bowl. Anyway, I hope you like the gift I sent you, and I hope it arrives in time.

All my love, James.

I grin stupidly at the letter, and then realise there’s a PS, written in a different hand I recognise as Fred’s. Rolling my eyes, I read on.

…’lo Charlster! Just thought I’d apologise for how girly and pathetic Jamesy’s letter sounds. Honestly, he needs someone to teach him how to write a letter that makes girls swoon. He should ask me. I’m the master of the swoon effect.. Anyways, just thought I’d let you know I’ve eaten all the chocolate you sent me. Oh, and your mum is weird, isn’t she?

I’ve got to send this now, before James realises I’ve read it. TTFN! Fredster xx.

I let out a snort of laughter and put the letter aside. Trust Fred to read James’ letter. He’s so nosy, he can’t keep out of anyone’s business.

I turn to the little red box that came with the scroll, and carefully open the lid with slightly shaking fingers. I can’t contain the gasp that leaps out of my mouth as I see what is inside. Underneath a little note is the most gorgeous bracelet I’ve ever seen. I delicately pick it up, examining it. It’s made of little black pearls, except there has been a charm performed on them to make them look like all the colours you can imagine. Small silver charms dangle between each bead and there’s a large shiny ribbon that I use to tie the bracelet to my wrist. One of the charms reads ‘Jarlie’ and I immediately laugh again. ‘Jarlie’ is the name Aine instantly came up with when James and I became a couple.

With the bracelet still around my wrist, I lie back onto my bed and close my eyes. Though I’ve enjoyed being back at home, especially sleeping in my comfortable bed with no pictures of Tori glaring down at me, I’ll be glad to get back to school. It’s only now that I’ve realised how much I’m already missing my newfound friends.




“There she is!” Aine screams loudly, as I dump my heavy suitcase on top of my dorm bed and attempt to flop down on the duvet. However, before I can complete my flop, Aine has pulled my into a tight hug, grinning ear to ear.

“Aine!” I squeak, trying to get away. “You know I don’t like hugs!”

She sighs and pulls away, putting her hands on her hips. “Charlie Parker! Is that really the way you’re going to greet me after a whole Christmas break apart? I’m disappointed in you!”

I grin at her sheepishly, “Sorry,” I say. “You look great, by the way.”

Aine beams. “Charlie, when we leave Hogwarts, we should go on a trip all over the Pacific Islands together!”

I stare at her, feeling a bit flabbergasted as Aine continues chattering about how fantastic Rarotonga was. I feel…honoured, I guess, that she’s come to see me as a good enough friend that she can suggest going on an trip together when we leave school.

At that moment, the door swings open and I tense up, expecting to see Rebecca glaring at me in her usual way. Luckily it’s just Clementine and Lavender, both with a bright pink streak in their dark hair. Hmm. I wonder what McGonagall will have to say about that. She doesn’t seem to like it when students have a sense of fashion. Just because she dresses like a woman from the middle ages.  Actually, I don’t know her age, so for all I know she could come from the middle ages. She could be a vampire.

The twins immediately burst into a long and boring explanation of every detail of their shopping trip in Paris and while I try to act like I’m paying attention, my mind keeps wandering to James and whether he’s back at school yet. I’m still wearing the bracelet he gave me, and I can’t wait to see him again. I really hope he hasn’t lost interest in me. Found some good looking, blonde Muggle girl in that village he lives in who doesn’t have frizzy hair and purple pimple problems. Or even worse, decided he wants to wait for Tori to show up, that I’m not as good as her…

I really need to stop thinking. Otherwise I’m just going to worry myself sick, and I really don’t want to go to the Hospital Wing on the first day of term.

Aine must have seen me staring longingly at the door, because she gives me one of those knowing looks of hers. I still reckon she could be a secret seer.

“Go,” she says in a low voice, as the twins dive into Clementine’s trunk, looking for photos to show off.

I frown at her. “What?”

She smiles. “Come on Charlie, I can tell you want to see James. So go. Find him. I’ll stay with these two, let them talk me to death.”

I smile at her. “Thanks, Aine,” I say, before scampering out the door, playing with my bracelet nervously.

There’s no-one but a couple of giggly first years in the Gryffindor Common Room, so I decide to go and look down in the Entrance Hall, where several people were mingling as I arrived.

The Grand Staircase is rather busy, because there are still many students returning to their dormitories, heavy trunks and suitcases it hand.  I pass several giggling Hufflepuff girls on the way down, and see the bright FIND TORI badges shining away on their chests. I have to admit, my heart sinks a little at the sight of these badges. I though maybe, during the holidays, people would’ve abandoned these badges. I mean…Tori hasn’t been seen for months now. No! I’m not saying she’s dead! I’m just saying…oh, I don’t know. My feelings about Tori Heron are very complicated.

Anyway, I have to doubt whether those Hufflepuff girls were even friends with Tori, whether they ever actually spoke to her. They certainly don’t know who I am, and I’m quite happy to keep it that way.

I reach the bottom of the Entrance Hall, and am dismayed to see that I can’t find James, Fred or Mickey anywhere. I do see Rose Weasley though, talking to Scorpius Malfoy in the corner.

As I move away, I can’t help but smile to myself. What would James and Fred do if they saw their younger cousin talking to the son of Harry Potter’s school enemy?

Bash the living daylights out of him, probably. I have to admit, it is somewhat comforting to know that my boyfriend has the ability to turn grapes into wine, if you get my drift.

Feeling a bit dejected, even though I’ll see James at breakfast tomorrow, I head back up the staircase and decide I might go to the library and check a book out. 

Madam Pince ushers me into the library with a heavy scowl on her face, and I begin to browse the small fiction section. I’ve always preferred books about made up things, but unfortunately the Hogwarts library is made up of mainly factual books. And it’s always hard to find what you’re looking for, because entering the library is like entering a maze.

I’ve never liked mazes. When I was little, I got lost in one and a clown chased me. Long story, can’t really be bothered retelling it right now. Maybe some other time, if you’re lucky. Because, as we all know, Charlie Parker stories are amazing.

I’ve just opened a thin, ratty little book called The Grey Lady when a sudden noise behind me makes me drop the book right on my toe.

“OUCH!” I scream loudly, and then clap my hand to my mouth, hoping Madam Pince doesn’t hear. She has a serious problem with talking. I reckon she thinks it should be made illegal.

I turn around to see Albus Potter standing behind me, smiling apologetically. Crap. What to say to the brother of your boyfriend whom aforementioned boyfriend loathes?

“Hey,” I decide on, bending to pick up the book.

Albus smiles awkwardly. “Have a good holiday?”

“Yip.”

There is a long pause between us.

Awkward.

“Well,” I say quickly, when it appears that Albus isn’t going to say anything. “I should probably go check this book out. Erm…bye,” I say, squeezing past him.

“James didn’t invite you over for Christmas,” Albus says suddenly, taking me by surprise.

I turn slowly to stare at him. “Sorry?”

He bites his lip anxiously. “It’s just…I would’ve thought…I mean he…more than…” he trails off uncertainly, and looks down at his feet.

What the bloody hell was that all about? That boy needs to work out what he wants to say before he says it. Something I have a problem with too, actually, so I can’t really go round criticising people.

“Um…I’ll see you round Albus,” I say, before walking away.

“Yeah…see ya,” I hear him say quietly, when he thinks I’m out of earshot.

As I give The Grey Lady to Madam Pince to issue, who glowers at me and reminds me to be careful with her precious library book, I once again wonder why James hates Albus so much. The twins told me Albus had a crush on Tori, who we all know James was in love with. But it has to be more than that, it just has to be.

I’m determined to put the pieces together.




A/N: Here is chapter eleven! I'd love to know what you all think! Please remember to leave a review-all you have to do is scroll down to that little grey box, write what you think and submit it. Simple, right?

Thank you so much for reading this far everyone! I've already got three more chapters written after this, which will (hopefully) mean faster updates!

Courtney:)


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