Chapter 12 : Tori
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One year ago
“We just thought it would be best to take some time apart right now, that’s all,” Tori said, her eyes glistening with very fake tears.
“Oh no!” breathed Clementine, eyes wide. “I can’t believe you and James have broken up!”
“We thought you were so perfect!” sighed Lavender sadly, and Clementine nodded in agreement.
It was the night after the Halloween Ball, and Tori was sitting in her dorm with the twins and Rebecca, giving her version of last nights events. It was fairly obvious that James wasn’t speaking to her, but she couldn’t let the others know why.
“I think it’s for the best really,” said Tori, giving a watery smile, and Clementine put her arms around Tori’s shoulders comfortingly. “I mean, James is just so in love with me that we needed some time apart. We were getting much too serious and it…” she took a deep breath, “…it was getting too much for me. He just loves me so much.”
“Do you think you’ll get back together then?” Boring Becky asked, looking confused.
Tori nodded. “Definitely. When I’m ready, I’m sure James will come running back to me. You have no idea how much he loves me.”
Clementine and Lavender both sighed again, and Tori fought the urge to smirk. The twins were the stupidest little girls she had ever met. Which made them the perfect friends. “That is so romantic,” said Clementine. “That he loves you that much.”
“Yes, it’s so romantic,” Lavender agreed.
Rebecca just bit her lip, and picked up the book she was reading. Tori decided it was time to change the subject. “So Becky,” she said, clapping her hands together importantly. “How was your date with baby Potter?”
Albus. He was all she’d been thinking about since yesterday. When she’d crept up to bed late last night, still trembling from the feeling of kissing Albus, she’d tossed and turned for a long time before finally falling asleep. She just kept reliving the way Albus’ hands felt on her bare skin; how they gave her little shivers all up her spine. How his lips were so warm and gentle but were passionate and firm at the same time. He was everything she wanted.
Rebecca shrugged, tinging pink as she always did when she talked about boys. Yawn. She was so dull. No wonder she’d never had any friends until Tori.
“It went okay, I guess. I think he likes me.”
Tori felt a smile creeping up onto her lips as Clementine and Lavender gasped, and began asking Rebecca all about the ball.
Of course he doesn’t like you, you stupid bitch.
Albus was hers. And she was his.
Always, and forever. That was the way it had to be. She knew that now. But she and James…they still had unfinished business.
Tori suddenly stood up, and her pathetic followers all turned to stare at her. She totally had them all in the palm of her hand.
“Where are you going?” Rebecca frowned.
Merlin, she was a nosy bitch. Had the girl never heard of privacy?
“That’s for me to know and you to…not find out,” Tori beamed, fluttering her long lashes. Then, without another word, she stalked out of the room. She wanted to see Albus more than anything, but first…first she had to find James. He couldn’t be that angry with her, could he? She couldn’t let the school know that James Potter had broken up with Tori Heron.
Because that would just be the end of the world.
And she always got what she wanted.
Tori found James sitting in the corner of the Common room with Fred. They were both muttering under their breath secretively, and James’ eyes kept flitting around the room. Tori felt her heart begin to pound. Were they talking about her? Was James telling Fred all about how he’d broken up with her last night, how she’d been flirting with Albus?
Tossing her hair, Tori stalked over to them. “Hello James,” she said, smiling sweetly as both boys turned around. “Freddy.”
Fred’s usual grin instantly faded, and he stood up abruptly. “Er…I have to go,” he said awkwardly, looking down at his feet. “Mickey said…should be around…have to find him.”
Both Tori and James watched as Fred hurried out of the portrait hole and into the dark corridor beyond.
James ran a hand through his messy, dark hair. “What’d you want, Tor?” he asked tiredly.
Tori batted her eyelashes. “If Freddy finds Mickey, he’s in for a big surprise,” she said.
“What’d you mean?”
Tori smiled. “I might’ve set Mickey and Aine up last night. And I haven’t seen Aine for hours…”
James sighed. “It’s all fun and games to you, isn’t it Tor?”
“Maybe that’s what makes us so alike.”
“No, it doesn’t,” James said angrily, and the girls studying at the nearest table turned round to look. Tori fought the urge to snap at them. “We’re nothing alike, Tori! I play pranks on people. You…you go round fucking up other peoples lives!”
Tori stared at him. “Is that seriously what you think about me?” she hissed.
James folded his arms across his chest. “Yes, Tori, it is.”
Tori felt like screaming. This was not going as planned. James was meant to forgive her, the moment she batted her eyelashes at him. He was meant to say he was sorry, that he didn’t mean anything he’d said last night and that he wanted her back.
But he didn’t.
So why was she trying so hard to get him? She wasn’t in love with him, she even found him a bore to be around at times. He said she was the one who was all fun and games, when all he did was play pranks and humiliate every first year at the school. He was such a hypocrite. But she had to have him. She had to show she could get anything. And James Potter was still the most wanted boy in school.
Tori leaned very close to James, so that the nearby girls couldn’t hear her. “I get it, James Potter,” she said in a low voice. “You don’t want me anymore, is that it?”
James stood up. “I’d really rather you just leave me alone, Tori. Go find some other guy to hook up with.”
Tori widened her eyes deliberately. “You think I’m a total slut, don’t you?” she said in a little kid’s voice.
James didn’t say anything. He just gave her a dark look and began to walk away. Tori was glad there weren’t many other students left in the Common room. She wished she and James could talk in private, but there was no chance of that happening.
Feeling desperate, Tori grabbed James’ arm so that he had to face her. “I love you James,” she whispered, staring up into his dark eyes, but thinking about Albus’ green ones.
No. This was not the time to think about the other brother.
“You’re the one boy I’ve ever really loved. I lost my virginity to you!”
James’ eyes widened and Tori let go of his sleeve.
There. She’d said it. Told him.
The very reason she hadn’t told him she was a virgin was for this sort of situation. She knew that if you told a boy he was your first, they couldn’t go breaking up with you. That was the rule.
James looked around the room anxiously, then took Tori’s hand and dragged her to an empty corner of the room where they could talk in semi private.
“You…I’m the first guy you ever slept with?” he whispered, looking at her very seriously.
Tori bit her lip and nodded, trying to look as innocent and awkward as possible. She was a fantastic actress. She was born to be on Broadway.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“How could I? I was embarrassed James. I…I didn’t want you to get any ideas about me.” Tori put her head in her hands, and immediately felt James’ warm hands on her back.
“Hey!” he said, in a soothing sort of voice that Tori never thought she’d hear coming out of James Potter’s mouth. “This is my fault as well as yours,” he said. “If you didn’t feel…comfortable talking to me about this, then clearly I’m not as open as I should be.”
Tori made a sort of choked sound at the back of her throat. “It’s not your fault, James. Everything about you is perfect.”
But you’re not Albus.
James grinned, looking more like himself. “Well, would you look at that? Tori Heron just called me perfect,” he said, and Tori gave a watery grin. “What a lucky boy I am.”
Tori knew he was going to kiss her then. He was so predictable. So…ordinary.
She closed her eyes slightly as he did just that, maybe so that she didn’t have to face up to what she was doing. She knew as he kissed her that they were back together. Which was what she had wanted all along, right?
So why did she feel so bad?
The answer was too obvious.
James went up to bed near midnight, but Tori stayed alone in the Common room, curled up in an armchair in front of the fire, staring into the orange flames.
Everyone else had gone up to bed.
She was alone, fully and utterly alone for the first time in months. The fire crackled and Tori jumped, feeling oddly insecure and nervous. She had everything she wanted, here at Hogwarts: Popularity, which would continue to grow as long as she was the girlfriend of James Potter. Friends who did everything she told them, friends with no minds of their own. And here at Hogwarts…she didn’t have to face her aunt every morning. She didn’t have to be reminded that the whole catastrophe was all her fault, and that God would punish her when she died.
Life should be perfect.
But it wasn’t.
Tori sank down into the sofa, running her fingers across her lips, as though they had been poisoned. Maybe James was right. Maybe she was wrong for Albus-maybe he deserved better than her. She’d done nothing right in her life. She was a failure.
Later-it could’ve been minutes later, it could’ve been hours-Mickey and Aine came through the portrait hole, holding hands. They were both slightly pink and glowing.
They didn’t see Tori as they passed the fire, kissed and then went up to their separate dormitories. For some reason, Tori felt herself smiling slightly. She wasn’t used to being invisible, to being completely ignored, but the sight of Mickey and Aine together made her feel strangely…warm. They were the one good thing she’d done. Because of her, two people were happy.
The fire was hot and soon Tori felt herself closing her eyes.
Everything was going to be alright. She was Victoria Heron…
… “Tori? Tori!”
Tori’s eyes fluttered open.
She was still lying, slightly awkwardly, on the armchair in the Common room. The fire had gone out and her blonde hair was fanned out around her head. There was a blurred shape perched on the arm of the chair, and as Tori sat up sleepily and rubbed her eyes, she saw at once that it was Albus, and he was looking down at her curiously.
“Albus?” she murmured groggily.
His normally perfectly combed hair was ruffled and he had on striped pyjamas. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, so his eyes looked very large and he looked even younger than usual.
“Hey,” Albus whispered, looking nervous.
“What are you doing?” Tori mumbled. “I’m not wearing any make up.”
Albus chuckled. “Tori, I’m not wearing my glasses, I can’t even see you properly. And you look just as beautiful without any make up on.”
Tori pouted. She was still half asleep and couldn’t quite work out what was going on. “Don’t lie. I look ugly without make up, my skin is all pasty.”
Albus clambered onto the armchair next to Tori, and she swung her legs onto his lap. “Why are you out here, Tori?” Albus whispered, running his finger up and down her leg absentmindedly.
Tori shivered, and moved closer to him, until she was resting her head on his warm chest. “I didn’t want to go upstairs.”
Tori looked up at him, her face below his. She wondered how clearly he could see her. “I’m a terrible person, Albus.”
“No you’re not. Don’t ever say that.”
“Yes I am!” said Tori, slightly desperately. There was a huge bubble of emotion in her chest that had been building and building over the last few days…a bubble that was about to spill over. “I fuck up everyone’s lives! I don’t deserve you! I don’t deserve anyone!” Her eyes were tearing up now and her voice was crackling and breaking, but Tori didn’t care.
Unlike when she was with James, this was real emotion.
“You don’t fuck up everyone’s life. Who told you that?”
Tori wiped vigorously at her eyes, because warm tears were spilling onto her face and into her hair. “I’m going to be alone for ever! I’ll end up one of those old ladies who have one hundred cats!” she whispered. “And now you’re laughing at me!” she added hysterically, because Albus was obviously trying not to smile.
She stared up at his sincere face and began to cry, her whole body shaking violently. She couldn’t stop once she’d started. She buried her face in her knees and let all her emotion out-the emotion that she’d kept buried for the last three years-since the last time she’d broken down like this. Her back was sticky with sweat, her nose was running and her whole face was wet with tears. She’d never been such a wreck. Nobody had ever seen her such a wreck. But Albus didn’t seem to care.
He put his arms around her and she laid her head on his lap, still trembling. She knew she was getting snot and tears all over his pyjamas but he didn’t move her away. He just stroked her back gently and ran his soft fingers through her hair.
He didn’t talk.
He didn’t try to kiss her.
He just held her. And that was all she needed.
Over the following months, Tori realised she was sort of sneaking around with two guys-who just so happened to be brothers.
Of course, her relationship with James was very public, but she usually tried to avoid him whenever Albus was around, because this made for some very awkward encounters. She was sure that Albus knew that she was going out with James again, but he never commented on it.
No-one knew about Tori and Albus.
Tori knew that Albus wasn’t completely happy about keeping their relationship a secret, but there was nothing Tori could do about that. Not yet, anyway. Christmas was coming up, and she’d be able to dump James sometime after the Christmas holidays. Four months was enough to show you could hold onto a boy for as long as you wanted.
The strange thing was, Tori hadn’t hooked up with either of them during all the ‘sneaking around’. It was clear James wanted too-obviously, he was James Potter, the ladies man. But Tori kept making excuses. Oh! She had to finish an assignment for Professor Flitwick. Sorry! She’d promised Rebecca to help her with her homework…
She wasn’t sure James believed any of these excuses, as she hardly ever handed in homework on time-over the last few weeks she’d had almost as many detentions as Fred-and it was pretty clear she didn’t give a shit about Rebecca, who was always following her around like a lost puppy whenever she was trying to meet Albus. But ever since she’d dropped the V Bomb, James was treating her much more carefully, like she was a fragile China Doll, rather than the cheap Barbie she’d previously been to him.
Albus was different.
Neither of them felt pressured into doing anything they didn’t want to do. They made out in disused classrooms, abandoned corridors and (not to be cliché) broom cupboards, sure, but there was never any mention of sex. Sometimes, Albus and Tori would just go and sit at the lake late at night and talk. Sometimes they wouldn’t even talk. But Albus had the ability to make Tori laugh-something no-one, no-one but her late father had ever been able to do before.
And, unlike James, Albus was nervous around Tori. He always asked permission before kissing her, always asked if she was alright.
Sometimes, Tori wondered whether they were actually brothers, they were so different in many ways.
Clementine and Lavender, especially, were very happy that James and Tori were back together. In fact, they were so happy, it seemed like they thought they were talking about their own relationship, rather that Tori’s.
“We always knew you two would get back together in the end,” Clementine said one day at breakfast, for what had to be the one hundredth time.
“Well,” said Tori, putting on her big, false smile. “We were made for each other, James and I.”
“So romantic!” Clementine breathed, as Aine, who was sitting a little down the table mouthed Lavender’s next words: “Yes, so romantic!”
Tori had to fight the urge to smile at Aine, who had gone back to talking with Mickey and holding hands under the table. She hadn’t liked Aine at the start of the year, and she was definitely too knowing for her own good but…at least she had a brain that she actually used. And a personality.
Clementine and Lavender were like clones of each other.
And Boring Becky was just dull, dull, dull.
Near the end of term, Tori dragged Rebecca and the twins down to the lake to talk. It was freezing outside, and the ground was completely covered in snow, but Tori was desperate to escape James, who had just completed a detention for Professor Slughorn and was probably looking for a long snog session. He’d been getting suspicious lately, actually, about her behaviour. She knew she’d been avoiding him too much, but she just felt so ashamed every time she saw him.
Yet she couldn’t bring herself to break up with him.
Down by the lake, Rebecca did some clever little spell and made warm blue flames that could be kept in jars. They sat down under a large leafless tree and Tori stared out onto the iced over lake.
There was nobody else outside except a trio of third year boys who were trying to work out how far they could get over the lake without breaking the ice and falling in.
They kind of reminded Tori of James, Fred and Mickey.
“W-Why are we out here, Tori?” Rebecca shivered, and Tori looked at her blankly. Her lips were turning blue and her skin was so pale you could almost see her veins through it.
“The castle feels so claustrophobic sometimes,” Tori said easily. “I needed some fresh air.”
Broing Becky wrinkled up her nose. “In the dead of winter?”
Tori laughed breezily. “Don’t be a wimp, Becky,” she said. “Go inside if you want to, the rest of us don’t care.”
Even though it was cold, Rebecca’s cheeks still managed to go a little pink and she looked down at her feet, embarrassed.
“That’s what I thought,” said Tori in satisfaction.
There was suddenly a loud CRACK in the near distance and the sound of water splashing. One of the boys had fallen into the shallows of the icy lake. Clementine and Lavender gasped and clapped their hands to their mouths, but Tori just watched with dry amusement as the two other boys helped their shivering friend out of the water.
“Do you think we should go and help them?” Rebecca asked quietly.
Tori gave her a look. “Why? We don’t even know them. It was their own faults for going out onto the lake in the middle of winter.”
“But they’ll catch their deaths!”
Tori shrugs. “Who cares? We have more pressing issues.”
“Like what?” Clementine asked curiously. The stupid girl was far more interested in good gossip than she was in a third year boy falling into the lake.
“Boys,” said Tori.
Clementine and Lavender looked at each other in that oh-so-annoying way of theirs. “Boys?”
“Boys,” repeated Tori firmly. “Or lack thereof.”
“What’d you mean?” asked Rebecca, puzzled.
Tori sighed. “Come on ladies! We’re sixteen and none of you have boyfriends! Don’t you think that’s an issue?”
Tori stared at Boring Becky, the stupid twit. “Are you serious, Becky? If you don’t find a nice guy to canoodle with by the end of sixth year, you will no longer be my friend. It’s embarrassing.”
“How many boyfriends have you had, Tori?” Lavender asked excitedly.
“Loads,” said Tori airily. “But I didn’t really love anyone until James. You ladies don’t know how good love makes you feel! When you love someone…you feel like you’re walking on the clouds.”
Clementine sighed. “I’m so jealous of you and James!”
I’m not talking about James, Tori thought. Out loud she said; “I just want you guys to be happy! So we have to find you the perfect guys before Christmas.”
Clementine and Lavender immediately launched into a long and boring explanation of the hot guys in Ravenclaw they fancied. Tori wasn’t listening. She was staring at the expression of Boring Becky’s face. She didn’t need Rebecca to talk to tell her which boy she wanted before Christmas. It was written all over her face.
“What about you, Becky?” she asked, interrupting Clementine mid sentence, who looked at her with a dejected expression on her face. “Not still in to boring old Albus, are you?”
Rebecca bit her lip. “Actually, I…”
“Because Albus has a girlfriend,” said Tori loudly, and she saw Rebecca’s face fall.
Take that, you nasty bitch.
Tori nodded. “James told me. Apparently she’s super pretty. So, no offence, Becky, but you don’t stand a chance. I think it’s time you moved on.”
Rebecca looked like she was about to cry. For a moment, for a tiny moment, Tori felt bad for what she’d said. But then she remembered who she was: the amazing Tori Heron. She didn’t care about anyone.
“I love you.”
James and Tori were in a small, dusty room at the end of the third floor corridor, James leaning into to Tori who was pressed up against a stone wall.
She looked up at him with all the sexy she could conjure. “Do you just?”
James grinned cockily and moved in towards her. “Mmm hmm,” he whispered into her ear. With one hand on her upper thigh, he moved his other hand to her hair. He pulled it slightly, exposing more of her neck. Tori leaned back, closing her eyes. She could feel James’ warm fingers running up and down her spine…
This was wrong. This was wrong.
Opening her eyes, Tori tried to push James away from her. “Stop,” she said quietly.
James frowned at her. “What’s wrong babe?”
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” Tori said, struggling to get away from him. But Quidditch had made him strong.
He pushed her back against the wall. Her head cracked against the stone and she tried not to wince. She wasn’t enjoying this anymore. She wasn’t in control.
James laughed. “No more games, Tor,” he whispered, his hand creeping higher and higher up her back, his lips moving down to her chest.
Tori was breathing very heavily. She wanted him to stop. She didn’t want to do this anymore.
Still smiling cockily, James dropped the straps of her bra off her shoulders.
Tori closed her eyes again and surrendered to his touch…
… “You’re coming to my house for Christmas,” James said, zipping up his trousers.
Tori looked at him blankly as she buttoned up her school blouse with slightly fumbling fingers. She felt disgusted at herself for what she had just done. She didn’t know how much longer she could keep this up.
James grinned at her. “You heard. I’ve told my folks a lot about you, and they want to meet you. They’ve invited you round for Christmas.”
Tori stared at him, still not really registering what he was saying. “Your parents want to meet me? Why?”
James rolled his eyes. “They are far too interested in my personal life, that’s why. I think dad's worried I’m going to knock some girl up, drop out of school and become a baby daddy.”
Tori forced a laugh. The thought of meeting James and Albus’ parents scared her to pieces. Not only did their parents happen to be Harry and Ginny Potter, but what if they realised she was a fake? That she was only dating their oldest son to gain popularity and loyalty at Hogwarts? If she went to the Potter’s house for Christmas…she’d be in the same house as both James and Albus, and that was sure to get awkward. But if she said no to James’ offer, his suspicion levels would become even higher. And she’d have to spend the whole Christmas break with her aunt, which was not a very appealing idea.
“Alright,” she found herself saying. “I’ll come to your house for Christmas.”
“Yes!” said James, pumping his fist in the air. “Babe, we are going to have one hell of a Christmas!” he said, pulling her in for a hug.
Tori smiled dryly over his shoulder. Yes James, she thought, we totally are.
The last day of term came far too quickly for Tori’s liking. She’d sent an owl to her aunt to tell her she wouldn’t be returning home for Christmas, and her aunt had replied, asking whether it was possible for her to stay at Hogwarts for the summer holidays as well. This didn’t bother Tori, particularly, she knew her aunt hated her. Luckily, the feeling was mutual.
Snow was piling up around the Hogwarts castle-the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, Hagrid, could be seen around the grounds with a gigantic shovel, trying to make pathways in the huge mounds of snow. Fred was in a particularly happy mood. He kept popping up all over the place to sing stupid Christmas carols Tori had never heard before. This always irritated Tori to no end, but she tried not to show it. She should be happy. She was going to her perfect boyfriend’s house, for a perfect Christmas.
But, in truth, Christmas brought up a lot of bad memories. And Tori wasn’t really feeling in the Christmas spirit this year.
The snow was too thick for the Hogwarts Express to take students home to their families, so the Floo Network was set up in the Transfiguration Office, much to Tori’s disgust. She’d only ever travelled by Floo Powder once, and it had been a horrific experience. It had taken days to clean the soot out from underneath her nails.
At five o’clock, the sixth year Gryffindor’s were called to the Transfiguration Office to go home. Tori couldn’t remember the last time she had been this nervous. She, Tori Heron, who never got nervous. It was unnatural.
Professor Smith glared at Tori, as he always did, when she walked into his office, holding James’ hand.
“Is there something I can help you with?” she asked sweetly, batting her eyes.
Smith glared at her even harder. It made him look like a wrinkled up grape. “You’re lucky it’s the holidays, Heron,” he said quietly. “You didn’t show up to your detention last night. Forgot, I daresay. How convenient.”
Tori rolled her eyes. “Move aside, Smithy,” she said irritably, and Smith’s face went an ugly shade of purple. “Unlike you, I have somewhere to be these holidays.”
“Tori…” said James warningly, but Tori ignored him. She’d had enough of Smith. Ever since the rat incident at the start of term he’d been on her. Giving her detentions for things like laughing too loudly and wearing her skirt too short. Well, she’d show him he didn’t intimidate her. That she wasn’t scared of anything.
“Come on James,” said Tori loudly, squeezing his hand and pulling him towards the fireplace, which was glowing with magical green flames.
Yuck. Green made Tori’s skin look washed out and sickly.
Ignoring this unsavoury fact, Tori daintily took a handful of Floo powder and stepped into the flames, pulling James in after her. The flames didn’t burn her, of course. Instead she felt a strange sensation, rather like stepping into a swimming pool on a very cold winter’s day. Tori took one last look around the room. She was pleased to see that everyone in the room was staring at her with their mouths open wide.
Now that was how you made an impression.
Tori turned round, smiled cheekily at James then shouted “The Potter House!” before dumping the powder into the flames.
There was a loud whooshing sound in her ears and Tori closed her eyes as she felt herself tumbling through time and space. At that moment, she was glad she had James’ hand to cling on to.
Finally, the whooshing stopped, and Tori felt herself hit solid ground.
Opening her eyes, she clambered to her feet, brushing soot off her expensive lace skirt and smoothing her hair back into place.
“You really shouldn’t be such a bitch to the teachers, Tor,” James said suddenly.
Tori glared at him. “What’s it to you? You and Freddy get detentions all the time.”
James sat up, rubbing his head with a grimace on his face. “Yeah, but sometimes you just take it too far.”
Tori didn’t say anything. Instead she took the opportunity to stare around the room she had found herself in.
“Holy shit,” she breathed, looking around at what appeared to be an expensively furnished drawing room. “You live here?”
James rolled his eyes, getting to his feet and brushing off his jeans. “My dad gets paid a load of galleons each month for his victorious defeat of Voldemort,” he said, rolling his eyes. ‘Even though Voldemorts been gone for over twenty years.”
“Well, that’s good isn’t it?” Tori asked. “Don’t you get everything you want?”
James gave her a look, and shrugged. “I don’t really care about stuff,” he said and began walking out of the room, without even looking behind to see if Tori was following.
Tori stared at him.
What was going on?
Was he…pissed off at her? What had she done this time?
It was getting harder and harder to hold onto him. Every little thing she said…every miniscule thing she did she was judged for. And Tori didn’t like it.
Just a few more weeks, Tori, she told herself. Just a few more weeks and then you can dump him, before he dumps you.
“So Victoria,” said Mrs Potter cheerfully, as Tori helped herself to the least fatty looking thing on the table: green beans. Everything else was smothered in butter and grease. Did the Potter’s want to make her fat? She had to be very careful with her weight-it had taken a lot of effort to squeeze herself into a size four dress. “What brought you to Hogwarts?”
The very first question the Potter’s asked her was the one Tori had hoped to avoid. She could hardly tell them she’d been expelled from Beauxbatons, could she? Even James didn’t know that. The only person she’d told was…
Tori’s eyes slid across the table.
Albus was sitting across from her, looking stiff and awkward. His eyes were down at his plate, refusing to meet hers. Surely he wouldn’t…tell his parents why Tori was at Hogwarts. Or even worse why she got expelled?
He was better than that. Better than Tori ever would be.
Tori smiled pleasantly at Mrs Potter, who was still smiling cheerfully. “Beauxbatons just wasn’t pushing me enough, I guess,” she said, tossing her hair behind her shoulder. “The students there…they just don’t focus on their studies enough for my liking. It’s all parties and social occasions for them.”
James snorted into his potatoes, and Tori shot him a glare. Idiot.
“Aunty Fleur went to Beauxbatons,” James and Albus’ little sister, Lily, piped up from the end of the table. She was thirteen years old and had flaming red hair that made it look like her whole head was on fire.
Mrs Potter made a face. “And what does that tell you about Beauxbatons, Lil? We all know Fleur isn’t the brightest fish in the sea.”
Mr Potter rolled his eyes. “Not this again, Gin. I can’t believe you still have a problem with Fleur, after all these years.”
Mrs Potter glared at him. “Oh, shut up Harry,” she said playfully. “We all know you were…taken by Fleur in your fourth year.”
“I was not!” cried Mr Potter as Albus, James and Lily laughed. “Okay, maybe I was a bit, but I couldn’t help it, she’s part Veela…”
“Aunt Fleur was in the Triwizard Tournament the same year as dad,” James explained to Tori.
“You bet her, didn’t you dad!” said Lily happily, and everyone laughed again.
Tori bit her lip and looked down at her small pile of green beans. What was she doing here? The Potter’s seemed so…happy together. A happiness she couldn’t even remember. Her aunt hated her and the rest of her family was gone. How could she just come in here, toy with the two Potter boys until she got what she wanted? If James ever found out…it would break him.
“So Victoria,” said Mr Potter. “What are your interests? Play Quidditch by any chance?”
“Our family is Quidditch mad!” beamed Lily, smiling at Tori. For some reason, she’d developed an instant liking for Tori, though she could not work out why. “We all play.”
“Tori doesn’t like sport, do you Tor?” said James, giving her a look that Tori couldn’t read. Was his comment meant as an insult?
Tori flashed him a very false smile. “No, I don’t,” she said. “But I do have many other interests.”
James snorted. “Like what?”
Tori stared at him. Was he being serious? Was he trying to get his parents to hate her?
“Tori is amazing at Charms,” said Albus suddenly, and everyone turned to stare at him.
James gave his brother a quizzical look. “How would you know?”
Albus smiled at Tori, who felt her heart pounding. Don’t make it obvious, Albus, she thought desperately, suddenly remembering the first time Albus had seen her do proper Charms work. They’d made out right afterwards. “Professor Flitwick’s always going on about her,” Albus said, and Tori breathed a small sigh of relief as the suspicion vanished from James’ face. Albus put on a high pitched voice as he imitated old Flitwick. “You should all look up to Victoria Heron from the year above. She does the most fantastic Aguamenti Charm!”
Tori wondered whether Flitwick really said those things about her, or whether Albus was making them up. Either way, it was very nice of him to say so.
“Our other teachers don’t like Tori much though, do they?” said James, grinning a strange sort of smile. “Especially Smith.”
Tori frowned. He was totally trying to insult her in front of his parents. Well, that was all very well. But she knew things about him, too…things he probably wouldn’t want his parents to know…
Mr Potter groaned. “I can’t believe that dickhead…”
“HARRY!” shouted Mrs Potter.
“Sorry, Gin. I can’t believe that first rate asshole is actually teaching classes. I think McGonagall’s a bit past it to be honest.”
Tori giggled. “I think you’re right, Mr Potter. She’s always giving James detentions, isn’t she James?”
She saw the muscles in James’ jaw tense up. Serves you right, she thought.
“Detentions?” said Mrs Potter curiously, looking from Tori to James and back again.
“Oh yes,” said Tori, widening her eyes sweetly. “Just last week James got a double detention from McGonagall for failing to complete a month’s work of homework in all his classes.”
Mrs Potter was looking horrified. “A months worth of homework! James, I thought after last year…”
“Leave it, Gin,” said Mr Potter wearily, running a hand through his rumpled hair. As he did so, Tori could just make out his famous lightening bolt scar. “We have a guest. We’ll talk about this later.”
James was staring daggers at Tori, who beamed at him. “You’re awfully quiet, babe.” She turned to smile at the Mr and Mrs Potter. “He’s never this quiet at school. Especially on the weekends.”
Tori’s eyes flicked over to where Albus was sitting, and saw that he was looking at her curiously. As their eyes met, they both swiftly looked away from each other.
“The weekends?” Mrs Potter looked curiously at her son.
“She means when we all hang out and aren’t in class,” said James swiftly, though there was a muscle in jaw working. “We have to be quiet in class. You have no idea how quick Smith gives out detentions to us Gryffindors.”
Mr Potter snorted. “He always did have a grudge against Ron and I…”
Even Mrs Potter seemed to relax a bit, so Tori quickly said; “You know that’s not what I mean, James! You can get pretty rowdy at all our parties.”
“Parties?” asked Mrs Potter.
She could see a stab of panic behind James’ eyes, which made her smirk in satisfaction. It’s not like he ever actually did anything wrong, but Tori knew he’d gotten into trouble in the past, which was why his parents were keeping a more watchful eye on him. They wouldn’t want him mixing with anyone they considered a bad influence. Yes, Tori had come to the Potter’s house for the Christmas holidays with the intention of making their relationship stronger. Showing to his parents what a great, sweet girlfriend she was, so that James would be forced to hold on to her. But suddenly, looking across the table at Albus, who was nervously prodding his potatoes and refusing to look at her, Tori didn’t care anymore. She didn’t love James and she never would. And she would not let him make a fool of her in front of the famous Harry Potter.
“I do not get rowdy,” said James, through gritted teeth.
Tori laughed. “Sure you do! Do you remember that time…”
“Shut up Tor,” said James in a dangerously quiet voice, so that only she could hear.
“Go on,” said Mr Potter, looking surprisingly stern.
“Well, I don’t really know too much, of course,” said Tori. “I don’t drink or do drugs or anything, so I usually leave early.”
“Are you implying James does?” said Mr Potter quietly, looking across the table at his son, who was white faced and steaming.
“Of course not!” said Tori, in a voice as unconvincing as she could make it.
“Dad,” said Albus quietly. “Dad, James never…”
“Shut it, Al,” said James suddenly. “None of us need your opinion.”
The table suddenly went silent as everyone stared at James in shock. Thirteen year old Lily was looking at her parents with wide, scared eyes. Clearly, she’d never seen her parents get angry. What an impact Tori had.
She prodded one of her beans with her fork and stuck it in her mouth. She chewed slowly and deliberately, revelling in the looks she was getting from all the Potter’s around the table. “These beans are great,” she said cheerfully.
James suddenly stood up. His chair scraped loudly against the hard wood floor.
“Oh, are you leaving?” Tori asked, looking up at him.
He looked down at her and his expression sent shivers up Tori’s spine. His brown eyes were even darker than usual and he looked pissed…no, he looked furious.
“Yes,” he said quietly, grabbing Tori’s arm. “And you’re coming with me.”
Mr and Mrs Potter stared at their son with bewildered faces as he dragged Tori out of the room, out into the lavish hallway next door.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he shouted, and Tori looked around nervously, worried his parents would hear. She didn’t particularly fancy getting kicked out of their house. Then where would she go? To her aunts? She didn’t think so.
“Will you keep your voice down?” Tori hissed, folding her arms across her chest stubbornly.
James laughed loudly and stepped back slightly, running both hands through his dark hair. “What’s your problem, Tor? One minute you’re all…all sweet and innocent and the next…”
“You’re not so innocent yourself,” Tori snarled. “Do your parents know how many girls you slept around with last year?”
“Just stop. You’re not freaking me out the way you’re hoping to, Tori. I’m okay with losing you-shit, I couldn’t care less if I never saw you again. But you don’t need to blatantly lie to my parents on the way there.”
Tori smiled slightly. “I’ve been at Hogwarts for one term and I’ve already got everyone under my thumb.”
The question hung in the air. Tori didn’t have an answer-there was no answer, besides I hoped it would make me happy. But it hadn’t, had it? Being the popular girl everyone wanted to be hadn’t made her happy. And Tori was just realising it now.
James smirked. “You can’t answer, can you? You selfish bitch.”
Tori slapped him across his stupid face with all the force and anger she could muster. “You leave me alone, James Potter!” she hissed, before stalking away, up the stairs and into the guest room where she was sleeping. She slammed the door shut behind her, not even caring that this wasn’t her house, that it didn’t belong her.
She lay face up on the bed with the intention of crying, but the tears wouldn’t come, so she just stared at the ceiling. She’d fucked up, royally.
Tori lay on the bed for what must have been hours. By the time she summoned the willpower to get up, the sky which could be seen through the small window in her room was dark and twinkling with little silver stars. Tori stood up and stumbled over to the large mirror, putting her hands on the wooden surface of the dressing table.
She looked like utter crap.
Her skin was pale and her mascara was smudged. Her hair was knotted at the back-no longer silky and smooth but straggly and wavy. Tori put a hand to her stomach.
She felt sick.
She shouldn’t have said all those things to James. Now he’d well and truly hate her. What was she going to do when she got back to Hogwarts? What was she going to do for the rest of Christmas break? Tori exhaled deeply and a sudden wave of nausea hit her. She froze slightly.
Oh god. Oh god.
Tori bolted into the guest bathroom and vomited into the toilet bowl, her stomach churning.
This was the end of the fabulous Tori Heron.
After a long, hot shower, Tori climbed into the lacy white night dress she’d brought especially for James, and put her wet hair up into a messy knot at the top of her head. After dumping her fluffy white towel onto the bed, she silently opened the door of the guest room, and snuck out into the dark hallway beyond, wand in hand There was no sound from downstairs and all the lights had been extinguished. The Potter’s were all asleep.
“Lumos,” Tori whispered, and a small light appeared at the end of her wand.
Creeping down the hallway as quietly as she could, Tori scanned the doors that greeted her. They all had silver plates on them, explaining which room was which. Illuminated by the light of her wand, Tori read ‘Library’, ‘Playroom’ and ‘Trophy Room’.
The Potter’s seriously had a Trophy Room? How modest of them.
Turning a sharp corner, Tori entered a narrower hallway. She passed a room with ‘Lily’ written carefully on the door, and then ‘James’. And then, finally, at very end of the hallway ‘Albus.’ Biting her lip, Tori quietly knocked on the door.
For a moment, for one horrible moment, Tori thought he wouldn’t answer. That she’d have to go back to her bedroom, alone. But then the door swung open, and Albus stood there, dressed only in a pair of pyjama bottoms. “Alright, alright mum!” he shouted loudly. “I’m…oh.”
“Hey,” said Tori, and her voice came out all watery and wavery.
Damn. Just when she was trying to sound sexy and seductive, her emotions got the better of her. And Merlin, Albus looked hot without his shirt…
Albus looked down self consciously. “Tori? What are you doing in here?” he whispered.
Tori shrugged, suddenly feel very uncomfortable, waiting outside in the hallway. “Couldn’t sleep,” she muttered.
“You and James had a fight.” It was a statement, not a question.
Tori shrugged, and to her horror, she felt tears stinging at her eyes. Why did she always end up crying in Albus’ presence? But then Albus was there, his arms around her, as he pulled her into his room and sat her down on the end of his bed. Tori was suddenly all to aware of how close he was…and how much bare skin he was revealing.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Albus whispered, sitting down on the bed as well.
Tori shook her head wordlessly, and looked around the room. It was very messy, as she expected most boys bedrooms were. In all honesty, Albus was the first boy she’d ever been into the bedroom of. His floor was covered in dirty, creased clothing and his walls were hung with posters of his favourite Quidditch team and Wizarding Band. In the corner of the room, his trunk was open and his books, quills and parchment were spilling out of it. On the wall next to the bed were several pictures of Albus with his family on a trip to Switzerland. Tori’s eyes immediately flickered to a picture of Albus with James and Lily. They were all grinning and waving at the camera-James had his arm around Albus’ shoulders.
Albus looked down at his feet when he realised Tori was examining his room. “I’ve never had a girl in here before,” he said, blushing. “If…if I’d realised you were going to be in here, I would’ve cleaned up or something.” He gestured vaguely at the unmade bed and large stack of Martin Miggs comics. Tori didn’t say anything. Just continued staring blankly into space. It was all very distracting, having Albus’ bare chest so close to her. He didn’t have fantastic abs like James, but…
Stop comparing him to James, Tori told herself fiercely, cringing as the memory of James yelling at her came back, you and James are over.
“Talk to me, Tori,” Albus said desperately. “I never know what’s going on in your head anymore!”
Tori looked up at him, into his wide, sincere green eyes. “I don’t want to talk,” she whispered finally, and her voice came out slightly hoarse. She reached up carefully and removed Albus’ glasses. He watched her warily.
“What do you want me to do then?” he whispered, and there was definitely a tremble in his voice this time.
Albus pulled her towards him and kissed her, and for a moment, Tori froze against his warm chest. She could feel every single beat of his heart, feel him breathing shakily beneath her. She was very aware that he was wearing only pyjama bottoms and she only a thin night dress. His lingering kiss was the sort that turned her insides to water-the sort that made her feel as though nothing was wrong…
Because, when she was with him, nothing was wrong.
When she was with Albus, everything felt right it the world.
But the problems were still there, hidden under a jumble of lies, waiting to be re-released.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter! And I just wanted to thank everyone for all the helpful feedback I've been recieving. It means a lot.
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