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Chapter 13 : Enemies
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We went back to Hogwarts the next day. Nobody had mentioned it, but it wasn’t safe
anywhere else. Mrs Evergreen had been relocated to a supposedly safe house. We hadn’t been told where.
I wasn’t talking; not to anyone. Especially not to Shane. I spent my free time in the Forbidden Forest, by the stream that entered the lake very far away from the castle.
I was a Puffer, but that didn’t mean I was a complete wimp.
I liked the Forest. It was secluded.
I lay on my stomach, on the bank’s overhang, watching the tiny silver fish flashing in the stream. A stray teardrop fell, causing miniscule ripples to spread in a circle shape.
“Lucy. You’re avoiding me,” came the sullen voice. Weird. I hadn’t even heard him sneaking up on me.
“I’m not, I just... need to be alone.”
I could never escape Shane. I was sorry for him, I really was. Sorry that I was hurting him.
“It’s that Evergreen kid, isn’t it?”
I didn’t answer, another tear brimming over and falling into the stream.
“I knew it,” his voice was pained and disappointed. “You love him or something?”
I didn’t answer again, but stood up angrily, glaring.
“What about me, Lucy? You don’t even care!”
I pushed him in the chest. I was so mad. I’d always been so timid. But now...
“He’s fucking dead, loser.”
“You know what? We’re done. And just so you know, I always lo - loved Nathan. Always.”
Dead and gone.
Dead, and gone, and my fault.
“Willow? Miss Evergreen, are you listening?” Professor Iris was being patient, although I could tell she was irritated – she was considering the facts about me. My status. Whatever. It wasn’t as if I actually cared about Transfiguration.
“No,” I replied, stonily, and walked out.
I started running as soon as I was around the corner. And kept running. I just wanted to get away – to not be part of this anymore.
This stupid fucking mess.
By the time I reached the Black Lake, the front of my robes was soaking wet. Tears were dripping uncontrollably.
I was having flashbacks.
How he was so tall, how he was always smiling, how he should have been in Gryffindor, how he loved me for who I was – as a sister, though I wasn’t – never mind all of the shit that was going on.
I sat on a rock on the shore, burying my face in my hands.
I wasn’t surprised at who it was.
“Lucy,” I sob-chuckled, “what are you doing here?”
“I love – loved – your brother,” she stammered, “and I...”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered.
We sat in companionable silence, only marred by the tears running down our faces.
“Willow, it’s my fault,” she murmured quietly after a long pause.
“It’s not. It’s mine,” I shook my head.
“No, if I hadn’t.... if I’d just gone straight to Mum and Dad, then he might not be...”
“If I didn’t exist, Rose and Nathan wouldn’t have been...affected.”
“Willow, that’s not fair...”
I took a sharp intake of breath and released it shakily.
“It’s true. I’ll never forgive myself. I shouldn’t have let him come, I should have told Ron and Hermione about...” I trailed off, remembering that Lucy didn’t know. Couldn’t know.
It would put her in danger.
She let it slide.
I stayed there, by that lake, freezing my arse off, well after Lucy had gone. I was almost literally frozen, but I didn’t care. Snow was falling, softly at first, but building.
Maybe I was punishing myself. If I stayed out and died of pneumonia, maybe that would make up for it. At the very least, nobody else would die.
“Willow, what are you doing out?”
James sighed, and sat down next to me.
“It’s almost dark. You’ll freeze to death.”
“That’s the point,” I replied coolly.
“Dying isn’t going to fucking bring him back, Willow.”
“He saved me. He took the curse. He didn’t have to die, he could’ve run.” I swallowed.
I was absolutely not going to cry in front of James.
“So you dying is just undermining his sacrifice.”
“Maybe I can make a deal. If I die, he comes back.”
“That’s not the way it works, Willow,” James sighed.
“There’s such thing as magic, isn’t there? Or is this all a dream?”
I was hit with the idea, although I knew it couldn’t be a figment of my imagination. It was too real.
“Magic has rules, too,” he exhaled heavily. He was keeping something from me.
“There’s something else, isn’t there?”
“Yes, but I can’t bring him back, Willow.”
We were in the forest. The Forbidden Forest. At night.
I wasn’t scared of the dark, but the idea of being so vulnerable wasn’t exactly appealing. At all.
“James, just tell me. You didn’t have to come out here...”
James didn’t reply. He was hell-bent on whatever it was he was doing.
“James!” I hissed, exasperatedly.
He stopped, as if suddenly realising I was actually there and talking to him.
“Shhh. Centaurs don’t really like people.”
“Centaurs? As in those mythical half horse, half human things? They’re real?”
“Shut up, Willow. You’ll get us killed by saying stuff like that.”
I shut up.
Death by half horse wasn’t on my agenda.
“Okay,” James whispered, holding up what looked like a shard of rock in the moonlight.
“What the hell, James?”
“Just... hold it. Trust me.”
I held out a flat palm, and he dropped the pebble stone thing onto it.
“What? Who are... they? James?”
I knew who they were. They were three silver figures in the moonlight, weak and indistinct.
They were crowding me, pressing their ghostly fingers against my face, wet with tears.
“James, James, make it stop, please,” I begged.
He unfolded my clenched hand gently, and took the pebble. It had felt rough and jagged.
The figures vanished.
“I’m sorry, Willow. I thought it would help.”
“Well, it didn’t, okay? Stop trying to help! I don’t need your help!”
I walked away from him.
Who was I, really?
It wasn’t hard to find the castle, once I’d found my way out of the Forbidden Forest. By the time I’d done that, I couldn’t cry any more. My sobs were dry, and rasped.
I knocked on the castle doors, slamming my fists against them. Honestly, I didn’t give a fuck about what the teachers were going to do. Didn’t I have allowances?
It turned out that Professor Iris opened the doors, fully decked out in the soft, pink dressing gown, and slippers.
Bitch. She was supposed to be nice to me. She was supposed to act as if I was mentally unstable. Or sensitive. Or whatever.
Yet she made it very clear that she didn’t like me.
“Look. I know you don’t like me. Just let me back in, please, Professor!”
She didn’t answer, and practically dragged me by my ear all the way up to McGonagall’s office.
Okay, not by the ear. But close enough.
And I was pretty sure that in a Muggle situation, that a professor dragging a student by their arm was very illegal.
“What’s your problem?” I hissed, as I rubbed my arm where she’d had it in a vice. She knocked on the door, ignoring me. “What did I do?”
“You. Were. You,” she had clenched fists, and a tense body language, I noticed.
“What, you mean that you just don’t like me? Or did you love the old Willow? And you hate me because I’m not her anymore?”
“You were a bright student, for a Gryffindor. You were brilliant at Transfiguration. You had so much potential...”
“You’re a Ravenclaw, aren’t you?” Obviously.
“You threw it all away,” she said, ignoring my assumption.
“I don’t care about Transfiguration. I don’t care about Potions. I don’t care. I don’t freaking care! You think I threw my life away? You think I wanted this? This... this – whatever it is – is horrible, okay? So shut up. I’m not the same Willow. I’m a different person. I can’t remember her. She’s not me. Don’t act like you know me.”
“SHE’S NOT ME!” I yelled, at a most convenient time, when McGonagall was opening the door.
Yay for my timing.
Yay for sarcastic jazz hands.
“Miss Evergreen! What is the meaning of this? Screaming obscenities at this hour outside my door? What has gotten into you?”
“Do I need to answer that?” I asked, tiredly.
“W – well...” she remembered what I’d gone through in the last forty-eight hours.
“Yeah, I didn’t think so. Can I go now?”
“Why, you little-” Iris fumed. I had a feeling that the word she was looking for was ‘shit’.
“Irene! I’ll thank you to keep your opinions to yourself! Miss Evergreen, I’d advise you to stay within the castle at this time of night. It wouldn’t be recommendable if you were to be out alone and something... happened, would it? Now, trot along to bed. In future, I may not be quite so lenient.”
“Yes, Professor,” I murmured. It had hit me, what she’d said about it being dangerous for me out at night. Maybe Hogwarts wasn’t as secure as everyone seemed to make it out to be.
Maybe its walls could be breached.
Maybe, just maybe, Lucius Malfoy could find me.
I had to learn how to defend myself.
That was my first thought as I opened my eyes in the morning, my hair a tangled mess and my pillows and blankets higgledy-piggledy, from restlessness. I had to learn magic. Otherwise, I was as helpless as a fox against a gun, cowering in a spotlight before its body was blown to smithereens.
Well, that wasn’t a pleasant thought.
I sat up.
It was early, although here in the cooler months it didn’t get light until fairly late in the morning. Apparently.
James. James would teach me how to fight.
“Okay. I’ll try. But, I have one condition,” James sighed.
“Spit it out,” I was curious, actually. As to what his condition would be.
“Well, maybe a few conditions. First off, I coach you in Quidditch, too.”
“No, I don’t -” I protested.
“That’s not negotiable. You could actually have a career in Quidditch. I mean, it’s not like you’re going to pass your exams. You’d have to redo years of schooling to get a job in any other industry.”
That shut me up. I hadn’t thought about it that way. I was also slightly hurt. Obviously, James had given up on my memory returning.
“You have the talent, anyway. It’s a shame to waste it. I decide the training hours, when, how, what. That goes for magical training too. Clear?”
I nodded, my forehead creasing a little. His conditions hadn’t seemed so bad, after all.
“Okay. We begin at five. Tomorrow. Quidditch first.”
I managed through most of the day without incident. Until I came face to face with Bitch Number One, and Bitch Number Two.
Yes, they were back. Straight from whatever slimy bog they’d come from. The way people wore their uniform defined them, I randomly discovered.
They wore theirs without care. Missing ties, Short, short, short skirts. Highly inappropriate shoes. That was a random, but useful way to choose my friends.
“You’re back,” she snarled. Skeeter had such a lovely snarl. It was quite beautifully feral.
“Yeah, you miss me?” I snorted. “Well, your hair’s growing back. Is that... a grey hair I see?”
She screamed/yelped in fury. Obviously she’d been brooding a bit too much over that whole me-going-on-a-rampage-and-bashing-her-up thing.
Zabini was almost smirking. That probably wasn’t a good sign.
“You’re going to pay, Green.”
Well, that definitely wasn’t a good sign.
“You should probably wait until Sophia’s here too, then. Seeing as she’s the one responsible for your hair problem. Or do you only pick on people when you have the advantage?”
“Shut the fuck up,” Skeeter commanded.
“No,” I said, pointedly, “I won’t. You’re a bitch, and everyone knows it. Anyway, you can’t do anything to me that’s worse than I’ve already been through.”
“Want to bet, Green?”
Zabini smiled manically.
Unusually, I didn’t feel the rush of fear. I was too dead beat to feel anything. The whole situation seemed slightly comical, from a warped perspective.
“Yes,” I replied simply. “You couldn’t even imagine what I’ve gone through. No amount of pain could even compare to it.”
It sounded better in my head. Out in real life it just sounded corny; a bad line in TV.
“SHUT UP GREEN!” raged Skeeter.
“Calm your farm.”
I proceeded to walk off, but was hauled in the air rather rudely, hanging by my ankles.
I crossed my arms – not an easy feat when you’re ten foot high upside-down – and glared at Bitch Number One and Two. I still wasn’t feeling anything other than irritation.
“You’re going to pay, Green.”
“Last time I checked, that wasn’t my name,” I chuckled. It wasn’t even close, actually.
Skeeter strode towards me, and I felt myself lowering slightly, so that my head was in line with hers. She breathed in my face, heavily.
“Your breath stinks,” I pointed out. “You could try mints. Or toothpaste, once in a while.”
She stepped back, holding her wand tightly.
This story is getting so depressing. Please, please, be happy, Story! Willow doesn't deserve this! Why? Why would you do this?
For all you Jallow lovers out there, wait until next chapter (winky face). You may be in luck.
Oh, and please, please, please, pretty please with a pink ribbon on top - leave a review?
I love people who leave me reviews to read.
Yah, creepy moment. ( As a disclaimer, that's from The Hobbit. )
Anyway, Cheers, SW.
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