Chapter 13 : Me
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“So how was your holiday, Mickey?” Fred asks, biting into a large piece of toast. It’s so loaded with melted butter that it all oozes around his mouth, however Fred doesn’t seem to care.
The Christmas holidays clearly haven’t changed Fred at all. He’s still the biggest food lover I’ve ever met.
“Pretty good,” says Mickey, but then rolls his eyes. “’Cept my dad was on me the whole time to practise Quidditch. The day before Christmas he woke me at bloody five am to go out to the meadow and play with him. Sometimes I wonder if he’s clinically insane.”
“Good man,” says James approvingly, slapping him on the back. “We’ve got a match against Ravenclaw coming up, and we’ll need to slaughter them if we want to solidify our chances of winning the house cup.”
Aine rolls her eyes. “Oh, not this again!”
It’s our first official day back at Hogwarts, and the Great Hall is especially loud this morning as everyone chatters excitedly about their holidays. Aine and I are both snuggled up to our gorgeous boyfriends, though Fred sits alone with a large plate of food in front of him. This doesn’t seem to concern him, though. Not much seems to concern Fred, actually. He’s a pretty laid back guy.
“There was this hot little minx working at the card shop down the road though,” Mickey continues happily.
Aine glares at him sharply. “Mick! Girlfriend present!”
Mickey grins sheepishly. “Sorry, babe,” he says, ruffling up her curly hair. “But I wasn’t meaning I thought she was hot. I was only…observing her for Fred’s benefit.”
Aine snorts and Fred says; “Hey! I can find girls for myself thank you very much!”
We all look at him.
Fred folds his arms defensively. “What? You guys don’t think I’m capable of finding a hot girl to…”
“Random hook ups do not count, Fred,” Aine says firmly. “Don’t you want to find a girl you can actually talk with?”
Fred scrunches up his nose. “Yuck. No thanks. Girls are all over-emotional and melodramatic.”
“Cheers to that!” says Mickey, raising his glass of pumpkin juice, and Aine gives him yet another glare.
“Well, I’ve got my perfect girl right here,” James declares, putting his arm around me.
I feel myself blushing as both Fred and Mickey groan.
“Jamesy, you’re going all soft on us!” Fred cries
“Just because you have the maturity of a pygmy marmoset,” Aine snorts.
Fred grins at her. “I have no idea what that is, so I’ll take it as a compliment,” he says.
Our first class after breakfast is Transfiguration and Professor Smith, unfortunately, is in a very bad mood.
Aine and I settle ourselves at the front of the class as we always do as he literally storms into the class, his canary yellow robes swinging around him, a heavy scowl on his face. As the whole class waits in silence for Smith to address us, I take a proper look around. James, Fred and Mickey are at the back of the class-quiet, for a change, but James appears to be scrawling a note to Fred on a loose piece of parchment. Sitting in front of them are the group of lofty Hufflepuffs that Smith favours and to the right, a small group of Slytherin boys James and the others like to play pranks on.
Yes, my boyfriend is super smexy but he is also immature as hell. He thinks putting notes that say ‘Hex Me’ on people’s backs is funny and original.
Okay, I have to admit that when one of James’ ‘Curse Me’ signs resulted in Slytherin sixth year, Alec Nott, being sent to the hospital wing with a walrus tail, it was rather funny. He looked pretty hilarious flapping around the potions corridor!
And then, to the left of Aine and I, is my old friend Rebecca Kale, sitting hunched up and alone at her desk, staring fixedly down at her pile of books.
I have to admit she doesn’t look good. There are dark shadows under her eyes and she looks as though she hasn’t eaten in days-her school blouse is hanging off her shoulders like it doesn’t fit her properly anymore. And is it just me, or is her right hand, the one holding the quill, shaking ever so slightly?
“…Miss Parker?” says Professor Smith expectantly and I look up, realising that he’s talking to me.
Smith has this uncanny ability to pick on students who haven’t been listening to a word he says.
“Er…?” I say uncertainly.
Smith narrows his eyes at me impatiently. “Well, well Miss Parker. Not paying attention in the first lesson of term? You do realise NEWTS are coming up, don’t you?”
I bow my head, flushing. Alright, I know this sounds super nerdy, but I absolutely hate getting told off by teachers. Especially in front of the whole class, with a group of Slytherins snickering at me.
Smith sneers unpleasantly. “Maybe you should have stayed in home school Miss Parker,” he says, and I continue to stare down at my heavily doodled on desk. “And ten points from Gry…”
He never gets to finish his sentence, because at the moment there is a loud BANG from the right side of the class and several loud shouts.
I turn around at once, cheeks still stained pink to see that the Slytherin boys have all leaped out of their seats and are covered in green goo. Someone has sent a giant slingshot full of slime in their direction, and I don’t need to look around and see James wink at me to know who’s behind it.
That must have been what he was writing to Fred about, the idiot. Though he really does have spectacular timing, as he just prevented Smith from deducting ten points from Gryffindor-from me! I’ve never lost a single point before!
“SILENCE!” shouts Smith furiously and the Slytherins immediately stop jumping around like headless chooks, seething, and James, Fred and Mickey try to contain their laughter. “YOU THREE!” Smith bellows, pointing in the direction of the three troublemakers. “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE PLAYING AT?”
“Oh, leave them alone will ya, you fat worm,” says Aine boldly, and I look at her with wide eyes.
Seriously, Aine? On the first day back? That girl has guts.
“DETENTION MISS FINNIGAN!” roars Smith, and I see Clementine and Lavender, who are sitting right before him, flinch back in their seats-they both still have pink streaks in their hair-clearly McGonagall hasn’t seen them yet. “AND YOU TOO POTTER, WEASLEY AND WOOD!” he continues, and the boys stop chuckling at once. “I’ve had enough! Your NEWTS are not far away, and none of you are taking these very important examinations seriously!”
“Woah, keep your pants on!” Aine mutters, so that only I can hear. “Seriously… none of us want to see what’s underneath.”
This term looks like it’s going to be a lot more work than the last one. Brilliant. Just what I need, on top of all the Tori drama that’s still circling the school.
It appears its not just Professor Smith who has suddenly gotten serious about our examinations. My next class is Defence Against the Dark Arts, and our middle-aged teacher, Professor Jenkins, spends about half an hour talking about the utter importance of these exams and how for the rest of the term, we’ll be revisiting everything we’ve learnt over the years, that is likely to come up in the exam.
Great. Defence Against the Dark Arts is my worst subject. I wouldn’t have taken it, but mum is still scared there’s going to be another Lord Voldemort and forced me into it.
“Hey, don’t worry!” says James, grinning at my frightened expression as our DADA Professor launches into an explanation of the theory behind performing a non-verbal blasting curse. “I’m amazing at Defence. I can give you some one on one tutoring.” He winks at me seductively, and I can’t help but roll my eyes.
“That’s a bit big headed, don’t you think?” I say, though it’s completely true. James masters every task we get set immediately, which annoys the majority of the class, as James Potter is well known for never studying. I wonder how he’ll cope with the pressure of exams…
Even teachers like Professor Longbottom start putting the pressure on us. In my first Herbology lesson, he announces that not only will be training Transylvanian Flesh-Eaters (yes, even the name sounds dangerous) to not eat humans, we’ll be expected to write three rolls of parchment each week on our progress…if we don’t get eaten before exams, that is.
Divination steps up a notch too, when Professor Moon announces we will be decoding each others dreams and in potions, Slughorn rumbles that we will be starting the difficult and long process of brewing Armortentia, which will take up the rest of the term.
By the end of the day, as Aine and I trudge up the stairs to our dormitory, all I want to do is collapse on my bed, fall asleep and never wake up. In dreams there is no homework and no teachers threatening to deduct points for not listening in class.
Of course collapsing on my bed does no good for my already churning brain, as I am greeting with those awful pictures of Tori, fluttering her eyelashes at me.
How on earth am I going to last the rest of the term without suffering from a severe mental breakdown?
There is of course, only one solution:
Chocolate. My answer to everything.
The next few weeks pass by in a haze-of both good times and bad.
Winter is nowhere near over, and the castle is sometimes so cold and dark that extra torches and lanterns have to be lit in the corridors and the windows shake in the frosty wind.
Though Rebecca appears to have made a vow of silence, I still catch her glaring at me whenever she sees James and I together, even if we’re just sitting next to each other, talking.
If someone so much as smiles in Transfiguration, Smith gives us another long lecture about NEWTS, usually involving the deducting of several Gryffindor points-largely thanks to Fred, who usually finds these lectures extremely amusing.
On the upside, James was serious about his offer to give me one on one tutoring for Defence. However, these one on ones generally turn into long snog sessions, so we don’t get much work done.
You have no idea how amazing it feels to say ‘snog session’ when it involves me and James Potter-together. Even though we’ve been dating for almost three months now, all the time I spend with him still feels surreal, like it could be ripped from me at any moment.
Which it will be, if Tori suddenly turns up again.
Shut up brain.
On another positive note, Gryffindor thrashed Ravenclaw in the last Quidditch match which is very good news, according to James. He is always in good spirits after he wins a Quidditch match which is great, because moody, brooding James is no fun at all to be around. But moody James hardly ever appears these days, which makes me very happy, because it means he’s slowly forgetting Tori Heron, as horrible as that sounds.
January soon dissolves into February and I find myself feeling shocked that so much time has passed without me really noticing. Maybe it’s because us seventh years have a lot on our plates at the moment-the teachers are loading us with the most absurd amount of homework-but I don’t seem to be getting as many glares as I used to. Most people still wear their FIND TORI badges proudly on their chests, sure, but no-one (apart from Rebecca) feels the need to flash these at me with sneers written all over their faces.
In the middle of February, we are all surprised when Professor Jenkins drags us out of our moderately warm Defence Class, down into the very cold Dungeons. Honestly, they should make teaching in dungeons illegal. My whole body turns into an icicle whenever we have Potions, even when I’m standing in front of my warm cauldron.
It’s like child abuse.
Of course, Professor Slughorn probably doesn’t realise how cold it is down there, as he has plenty of blubber to keep him warm.
“Right class,” says Professor Jenkins, clapping his hands together as we form a bunch around him in the cold dungeon.
Merlin, I can feel my feet going numb and they’re inside a pair of furry boots…
“Today we will be revisiting the dark creature that many of you struggled to defend yourselves against in the third year. I have no doubt you will all easily be able to deal with this creature now, but I thought we should probably revisit it, just to make sure.”
“Well hurry up and tell us what it is then!” Fred grumbles, under his breath so that only those around him can hear. “If we don’t get this lesson over and done with soon, I’m going to freeze my little toosh off.”
Aine snorts loudly. “Don’t say little toosh please, Fred,” she says. She’s wearing a fluffy beanie but her lips have still turned blue. “It puts a terrible picture in my head.”
“…can anybody tell me what creature is inside this chest?” Professor Jenkins continues, gesturing to the large wooden case sitting slightly behind him.
To nobody’s surprise, James raises his hand. Defence is the only class where he actually volunteers information. Any other time, he’s usually too busy sword fighting with joke wands at the back of the class to pay attention.
“A boggart,” says James in his cocky I’m-so-clever voice. “They’re known for hiding away in dark places.”
Professor Jenkins smiles. “You’re right, of course,” he says, and the class begins murmuring amongst themselves happily. They all probably think dealing with a boggart is a piece of cake. After all, they did it in their third year. I’ve studied the boggart, sure, but I’ve never actually dealt with a real one before, and that makes me nervous.
“I can’t believe we’re studying boggarts with our NEWTS so close,” Aine murmurs in my ear, confirming my suspicions. “They must be the easiest creatures to deal with in the world.”
I give a laugh that I hope is free from the nerves that are swarming around my body like a hoard of angry wasps.
Hang on…what do you call a group of wasps? Hoard doesn’t sound right…maybe it’s a pack of angry wasps…
Shut up. I make no sense when I’m nervous.
“Yeah. Easy,” I lie.
“Alright, everyone get in a line so we can all practise on the boggart separately,” Professor Jenkins instructs, and there is the great shuffling of feet as everyone hurries into the queue. I see Clementine and Lavender, both wearing large fluffy pairs of earmuffs, hurrying to stand near the Ravenclaw boys they like. I quietly sidle to the back of the line, hoping that there won’t be enough time for me to have a go.
“Everybody ready?” Professor Jenkins calls out loudly, his hands on the clasps of the large chest. “Fred, you’re first!” he says, and opens the chest.
There is a nose like bath water going down the plug. You know, that gurgling, hissing sort of noise that sounds like one of my dad’s farts. Trust me, you do not want to be on the receiving end of one of those. They’re enough to make any person pass out...
I look up to see a huge shape ascending from the chest-pale skin…swirling cloak…sharp fangs.
It’s a vampire.
“Riddikulus!” bellows Fred, pointing his wand straight at the malevolent looking creature. There is a crack, like the sound of a whip, and the vampire-boggart stumbles slightly.
It has turned into a clown with a brightly painted face and multi coloured suit. The class bursts into laughter and Fred turns around, grinning as always, and does a little bow.
Slowly, I get closer and closer to the front of the line as each student takes their turn with the boggart.
CRACK!-the boggart turns into a fanged serpent…CRACK! A feral looking dog…CRACK! A dark robed figure…”Alright Aine, your turn!” Professor Jenkins shouts loudly and Aine, who is standing in front of me, grins and steps forward.
Oh no. Oh no, oh no! It’s my turn next!I’m going to make a fool of myself in front of the whole class…
More of a fool than usual, I mean.
I have no idea what my worst fear is, so how am I supposed to know what to turn it into?
Corpses creep me out, but how do you turn a corpse into something funny?
Aine’s boggart (which is, for some reason, a very large fish) turns into a fish pie. Well, you can’t deny that girl is creative…
“Charlie, you’re up next!” Professor Jenkins says.
I am the only one left in line…
I step forward slowly, holding my wand out in a shaking hand. I must look like such a loser. No other seventh year is afraid of a boggart…
“You can do it, Charlie!” I hear James and Fred whoop encouragingly.
The fish-pie boggart begins to spin as it changes into what I fear most…and then…then Victoria Heron is standing in front of me, tossing her perfect blonde hair and looking down on me with a smirking, twisted expression on her face…
The class has fallen silent. This was not what I was expecting.
I raise my wand to perform the curse, but find that my whole body has gone rigid. I feel as though I’ve been super glued to the spot.
Tori comes closer to me, and she looks so…solid, so real that it’s hard to remember she’s not the real thing…
And then, the Tori-boggart begins to speak.
“You’ll never be good enough, Charlie Parker,” she says, and her voice comes out as a horrible hiss, eerily reminding me of the dream I had earlier in the year, the dream where Tori was standing in the middle of the lake. “You’ll never be as good as me…”
Somewhere in the distance I hear Professor Jenkins say “Perform the curse, Charlie!” but I can’t take my eyes away from the Tori, leering down at me.
“Nobody wants you,” Tori continues to hiss, and I realise that I’m trembling-and not just from the brutal cold of the dungeons. “Everyone wants me. And I’ll be back…I’ll be back…”
James is standing in front of me, his arms outspread, his wand pointing straight at the boggart, which has suddenly turned into a flimsy ragdoll. I can see his chest rising and falling sharply as Professor Jenkins hurries forward and locks the boggart back in the case.
The class is still silent and my heart is pounding…I feel light headed…like I’m about to collapse…
I slowly back away from James, who is staring intently at the case with a strange, blank expression on his face…my hand grasps the edge of a cold table and I lean against it, closing my eyes…
Slowly, a murmur breaks out over the terrified class. Though I feel dizzy, I distinctly hear the voice of Rebecca Kale. “Do you know what this means?” she says loudly, and I know she wants me to hear. “This is a sign Tori is back!”
“Rebecca…” I hear Aine say softly, and then I hear Rebecca laugh-high, cruel and calculating.
I can’t take this anymore…
Snapping my eyes open, I run for the exit-my vision is blurred but I can see people turning around to stare at me, Aine calling out my name, Rebecca laughing even harder…
Once outside the dungeon, I slide down against the cold stone wall of the corridor, breathing heavily. Why did my boggart turn into Tori? How can I be afraid of something…someone I’ve never even met? And is it her I actually fear? Or the threat of being replaced by her?
I feel shaken. When will the Tori drama be over? Will I ever be able to stop living in her shadow?
I look up slowly to see James standing in front of me, looking down in concern. “Are you alright?”
I nod, trying to look convincing, which is pretty hard considering my boggart just turned into Tori, I bolted out of the class and am now sitting alone in a dark corridor.
“No you’re not,” says James, sliding his cloak off and draping it around my shoulders. I shiver slightly as the chilly material engulfs me, but immediately feel a little warmer. James sits down next to me and for a while, we both just sit in silence, mulling over what we just witnessed in our heads.
“You know she wasn’t real, right?” says James finally, looking at me very seriously. “Tori may have been…but she would never have said those things. That was the boggart talking, not Tori.”
“What must you think of me?” I say quietly, looking down at my knees. “I can’t even pull off a simple boggart repelling spell. I’m pathetic.”
James puts his arm around me. “No, you’re not. You’re one of the bravest people I’ve ever met.”
I snort. “You’re just trying to make me feel better,” I say. “I’m not remotely brave. I don't know why the stupid hat put me in Gryffindor.”
I’m not brave. A couple of years ago, mum and dad took me to this haunted house for my birthday. It wasn’t really haunted-just a whole lot of Muggles dressed up as creepy characters. The moment I saw the guy with the chainsaw, I panicked and bolted.
“If it will cheer you up and all, you should know even my grandma struggles with boggarts,” James says. “Last year she got one under her bed and mum had to go around to get it out for her. She said grandma was all hysterical and completely panicked.”
This does make me smile a little. But there’s still something nabbing at the back of my mind.
“Why did my boggart turn into Tori?” I voice aloud, and I see James’ smile fade a little. We never talk about Tori, if we can help it. “I’ve never even met her!”
“She could be a pretty intimidating person,” says James quietly, and I look at him in surprise. His face as taken on that ‘far away’ quality, as though he’s reminiscing about his past, with Tori. Great. That’s all I need right now, for James to go back down Memory Lane. “I think the whole class was…in shock when they saw her. It feels like forever ago she went missing and…and some of us have probably forgotten what she looks like.”
I bite my lip, thinking over what he’s said. I wonder if he remembers what Tori looks like?
Pfft. Stupid, stupid me. Of course he remembers what she looks like. Tori Heron could’ve been a supermodel.
For some reason, I suddenly remember my encounter with Albus Potter, just after the Christmas break. How I told myself I’d find out why the two Potter brothers hate each other so much.
I peer at James, who is staring into space. Should I really bring it up? He’s just seen the face of his old girlfriend for the first time in months, would now really be the best time to talk to him about his brother?
But we’ve grown closer in the last month. I’ve told him all about my eccentric mother and my father who’s afraid of bugs, and he’s told me about his invisible friend, Greg and how he wanted to be a trapeze artists when he was younger. He knows I trust him. So…he should know that he can trust me, too.
“James,” I say quietly, and he shakes his head as though breaking himself out of a reverie. “What happened between you and Albus?”
There’s a long pause and for a moment, I’m scared James isn’t going to reply, or is going to tell me to never ask again. Or even worse, start shouting at me for bringing up his brother. He might even go on a murderous rampage…
I’m only seventeen. I’m too young to die!
But then James begins to speak…slowly at first, but then faster, as though he’s been waiting to get out all his feelings.
“What do you know about Tori and my brother?” he asks me.
I look at him nervously. He gets this strong intensity in his dark eyes whenever he isn’t joking around. “Clementine and Lavender, they told me…that Albus has a crush on Tori,” I say hesitantly, and am surprised when James laughs.
“I guess you could say that,” he says bitterly. “Even when we were together, Tori was always flirting with other boys. I didn’t mind at first, because that was just Tori. But then...then I saw her with him. Albus. She was…batting her eyelashes and tossing her hair. To begin with I thought she was just trying to annoy me-we were beginning to grow apart by that stage but then…” James breaks off, taking a large gulp of air.
I stare at him in awe. The twins told me Albus had a crush on Tori, but from what James is saying…it sounds like Tori liked Albus back.
But how can that possibly be right?
Tori Heron was the most popular girl in school. Albus (though he seems perfectly nice) is a shy bookworm who spends a lot of time in the library.
“…then I caught them together,” James says, and I can hear the barely controlled anger in his voice. There’s another emotion there too, though. Something I can’t quite read…is it regret? Sadness? “They were kissing. And I realised they’d been together all along. Tori didn’t give a flying fuck about me…”
“I’m sure that’s not true,” I find myself saying quietly, because there is pain in James’ eyes, though I don’t really know why I’m comforting him about this. I should be irritated at the fact that James is clearly still upset about Tori not really caring about him. But I’m not. “Everyone’s always saying how much Tori was in love with you.”
James snorts loudly. “Don’t you see, Charlie?” he looks at me desperately. “The only reason Tori ever went out with me in the first place was to gain power at Hogwarts. She used me.”
James looks down at his feet, playing absently with a loose thread on the sleeve of his woollen jersey. I have never seen him look so deflated, except maybe when he beat up Albus at that Quidditch game. And now…now I know why he was so angry that day. I almost wish I hadn’t asked what is going on between him and Albus. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to look Albus straight in the face again. I wonder if Rebecca knows about Tori’s secret…affair. It seems like Tori told her everything.
“What will you do if she comes back?” I ask slowly, voicing the question that’s been on my mind for a long time now. One that I haven’t had the courage to ask until now.
James lets a small smile slide onto his face-the crooked, slightly arrogant one that to me, is his trademark. “I thought about that for ages after she went missing,” he says slowly. “How I’d react. But now I know. I’d just ignore her.”
I stare at him. “What? Why?”
Now he’s definitely grinning. “Because I have you,” he says. Then he places his hand on one side of my face and kisses me gently.
I smile as I kiss him back. Finally. The Tori drama is over. She has not been spotted for months and James…James prefers me over her.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong.
“You really freaked us all out with that Tori boggart,” Aine says casually as we make our way up to the Gryffindor Common Room that night.
I can barely walk, my stomach is so full. There was the most magnificent chocolate tart for dessert and, well, you all know I have a weakness for chocolate. I had to undo the top button of my skirt. Sadly, I’m not joking.
I give Aine a look and she grins sheepishly. “Sorry. You probably don’t want to talk about it.”
I sigh. “When do I ever want to talk about anything, Aine? You know I don’t like socialising.”
She snorts, and links her arm through mine. “Maybe that was true at the start of the year,” she says slyly, giving me a stupid wink. “But you’ve become a lot more open since you started getting it on with James.”
I feel my cheeks tingeing pink. I’m always blushing-I must have bad circulation. Yes, that’s probably it.
“James and I are not getting it on,” I say, making Aine giggle. “We’re just…”
“Friends who like to snog each other an awful lot?” Aine suggests, giving me a nudge. “Oh come on, Charlie. I saw James slobbering all over you out in the dungeon corridor after defence.”
“He was just comforting me,” I protest, and Aine throws her hands up in the air in defeat. “Whatever you say.”
Pfft. It’s not like she can talk. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a couple as revoltingly soppy as she and Mickey. Those two have a serious case of dishwasher syndrome.
Seriously. Whenever they make out in front of me, I can hear saliva churning in their mouths.
Well, I just grossed myself out…
“Jitterbug,” Aine says firmly to the portrait of the fat lady, and we climb into the Common Room, which is covered with a bunch of rowdy little first years who appear to be playing a game of tag.
Aine pushes several of the out of our path and we head up to the girls dormitory where Clementine is curling Lavender’s hair with her wand and Rebecca is sitting on her bed looking grumpy, for a change.
Her presence doesn’t usually bother me anymore, but she gives me a particularly venomous look as I walk in, which probably has something to do with my Tori boggart.
However, I am a mature young women and am able to ignore this, instead going over to my side of the bed and pulling out a quill and pot of ink. Mum wrote to me yesterday all frantic because I hadn’t replied to any of her messages.
She was under the impression I’d been eaten by the giant squid.
Honestly. What a preposterous idea.
I’d never be stupid enough to go near the giant squid.
Tentacles creep me out.
“What are those, Rebecca?” Aine asks suddenly.
You definitely couldn’t call Aine and Rebecca friends, but I often get the impression they used to be. Anyway, Aine is friendly to everyone including Rebecca, even though she hates my guts and spends half her life sulking.
She’s worse than Moaning Myrtle.
“Didn’t you hear?” Rebecca says, and there’s an undercurrent to her voice that I don’t like. I look over at her slowly and immediately realise there is a large pile of parchment sitting on her lap, each with a flashing black and white photo in the middle. The photo is clearly of a person, though I can’t quite see who. And I don’t really fancy asking.
“Hear what?” Clementine asks curiously, looking away from the back of Lavender’s head.
Rebecca smirks. “I just got an owl from Miss Heron. You know,” she says, shooting me a triumphant glare. “Tori’s Aunt. Tori has been spotted in Hogsmeade. McGonagall has given me permission to put up these posters around the school tomorrow.”
The twins both gasp as Rebecca holds up the posters so that I immediately see the photo is of Tori.
My heart sinks. Just when I thought Tori had been forgotten. It has been months since the last time she was spotted. I’d begun to think her sighting was a mistake. But if she’s been spotted in Hogsmeade…
I don’t understand!
How can Tori have been spotted in Hogsmeade? That’s so close to Hogwarts…surely she’d have tried to contact the school? Or Rebecca. And who spotted her anyway?
Aine seems to be thinking the same thing. “Rebecca…” she says quietly. “I’m not sure those posters are a good idea. What if…what if Tori wasn’t really seen in Hogsmeade? What if…she’s not around anymore?”
The triumphant sneer on Rebecca’s face disappears in an instant. “What are you insinuating?” she hisses.
Sympathy is written all over Aine’s face and I know what she’s thinking: she thinks Tori Heron is dead. Is that what I believed as well, until this moment? Is that what I hoped was true?
Even inside my head those words sound horrible. I’m not a bad person, honestly!
“SHE’S BACK!” Rebecca suddenly screams very loudly, and the twins both visibly flinch. “TORI IS BACK! And soon…soon she’ll come back to me! And she’ll…(she points at me with a trembling finger)…she’ll be gone!”
Oh dear god. It’s like the beginning of the school year all over again. Rebecca hasn’t had an outburst in ages. I thought it was all over…
Even Clementine and Lavender look doubtful. “But if Tori was in Hogsmeade…why hasn’t she come to see us?” I hear Lavender whispering to her sister, voicing my very thoughts.
“Don’t you see?” Rebecca spits, glaring straight at me. “You never belonged here, new girl. Not in this dormitory, not in that bed, not in this school. You stole her spot. And before you know it, she’ll be back here. To take her place back.”
“Fine!” I say loudly, throwing my ink pot down onto my bed and standing up. I’ve had enough with dear old Becky. I’ve been here for almost two terms now, I’m not going to get pushed around any longer! “Fine!” I repeat. “But you should know, Becky, that even if Tori comes back, I intend to stay. This is my bed now…” I stand up on to it, and begin ripping the remaining photos of Tori off the wall “…and this is my life. I won’t let you fuck it up any more than you already have!”
“What are you doing?” Rebecca whispers angrily as I rip the last photo off the wall. I now have a large pile of smiling, giggling, perfect Tori’s in my hands.
And all I want to do is get rid of them.
“Here!” I say angrily, thrusting the photos at Rebecca’s face. “You take them if you want them so badly. Hang them on your wall. Tori is a part of your life, not mine.”
Rebecca stares at me for a few long moments, before snatching them out of my hands. “You’re such a bitch,” she hisses, cradling the photos to her chest. I just laugh loudly, storm back to my side of the room and plonk myself down on my bed. Then I pick up my quill and parchment and begin to write my letter, my quill scratching a little harder than it normally would have done.
“Well,” I hear Aine saying as the silence stretches over the room. “On that pleasant note, I think I’ll go and visit Mickey in the Common Room.”
I hear her footsteps as she hurriedly exits the dorm. There’s another short silence, then Lavender’s voice shouting; “Clementine! You’ve burnt my hair, you twit!”
Sigh. I’m starting to think a quiet life at Hogwarts is impossible.
The photos of Tori may finally be off my walls, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stop seeing Tori’s face everywhere I go. Clearly, Aine’s words didn’t sink in to Rebecca’s thick skull, as when I go down to breakfast the next morning, the posters of Tori stare at me wherever I look-they are everywhere: on the bulletin board in the common room, pinned all over the walls of the castle, hanging on every inch of bare wall in the Great Hall.
Each poster reads the same: ‘Tori Heron has been spotted! Contact Rebecca Kale if you see her.’
However, as the next few days turn into weeks, Tori doesn’t show up at Hogwarts, though this doesn’t seem to discourage Rebecca.
“She’s just biding her time, waiting for the right moment to come back,” I hear her telling a group of anxious seventh year Hufflepuffs one lunchtime. “But don’t worry, Tori will come back.”
“When do you think she’ll realise Tori’s not coming back?” Aine murmurs to me.
I give her a startled looked. “You’re not saying that…”
“Tori’s dead?” Aine laughs. “It seems pretty pointless to deny it now, doesn’t it? Why on earth would Tori Heron have done a runner?”
Why indeed? The question continues to bug me. But for some reason, part of me is sure that Tori Heron is not dead, even though Aine seems so certain she is. If she was…I’d feel much different than I do now. I wouldn’t enjoy every single moment I spend with James Potter. I wouldn’t be glad that she’s not around to take him back.
The posters aren’t the only place I see the face of Tori Heron.
Ever since the boggart incident, her face has been appearing more frequently in my dreams. The dreams involving Tori are always the same-just like the dream I had at the start of the year. She’s always wearing a white dress, standing in the middle of the lake. And she always says the same thing: that I’ll never be her. These dreams continue to frighten me, though I’m not entirely sure why.
However, as the end of term grows nearer, I am prevented from dwelling on these dreams with the unfortunate surge in homework.
The amount of homework we have been set is actually quite unnerving. Even James and Fred have been spotted studying, something that is almost unheard of. Though this vast amount of homework helps me forget about my horrible dreams, it also prevents James and I from spending much time together. If we’re not studying, or in class, James most likely has detention for failing to hand homework in once again.
And honestly, if Smith says the words “Study harder, NEWTS are coming up you lazy buggers!” one more time, I’m going to slap him round that arrogant, stuck up face of his. Bad Charlie. Since when do I criticise teachers?
Often, I study alone in the library, finding the peace and quiet relaxing. However, nearly every time I go to the library I see Albus, tucked away in a corner, a pile of books in front of him. The moment I see him, I turn around and head in the opposite direction, remembering what James told me. I still can’t imagine it-Albus and Tori. And I certainly can’t imagine Albus, who always seemed so nice to me, doing something that would hurt his brother so much. But then again, I guess people can surprise you.
They can turn out to be not at all who you think.
A/N: Hello my gorgeous, amazing readers! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I just finished writing Missing-there are four more chapters to go after this one, and I'll be publishing them as soon as possible.
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