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Chapter 4 : A Bad Dream
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Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to JKR! I also do not own the rights to the song A Bad Dream by Keane. Enjoy!
I inwardly counted backwards while Ivan attacked my lips outside the Charms classroom. I knew he was doing it simply to spite James, but I barely managed to place my arms on his sides because I was concentrating so hard on not vomiting.
When he reached down and squeezed my arse, I pulled back and gave him a tight smile. “Honey,” I said through gritted teeth, “I thought we weren’t going there in public.”
“Sorry,” he smirked, running his hands up my sides. “You just drive me so mad.”
His eyes made me shiver in fear and I numbly allowed him to put his hand on the small of my back and lead me into the classroom. James didn’t so much as look up from his textbook as we entered, although Fred stared me down, his hazel eyes piercing into the back of my head.
“You got a problem, Weasley?” Ivan abruptly pulled himself away from me. Ross and Kevin stood behind him, cracking their knuckles. I sighed and sat down in my seat, waiting for Professor Peridon to arrive and stop the blatant display of masculinity.
Fred gave a friendly smile and raised his hands in surrender, turning his attention back to the essay he was writing.
“That’s what I thought,” Ivan muttered under his breath, taking his seat next to me. He shot James a smug look before he placed his arm around my shoulder, but once again, he didn’t react.
It had gone on like this for the past few weeks. He wasn’t even showing up at the pitch anymore. I didn’t know if he’d found a different time or not, all I knew was that it was lonely up there in the dark sky by myself.
I’d never missed anything as much as I missed James – not even quidditch over the summers, or my father. There was a constant pang in my chest when I saw him, a gaping hole that got bigger every morning I was out there and he wasn’t.
“You look great this morning beautiful,” Ivan spoke loudly, and I caught Kevin's gaze.
I knew the drill. “Thanks love. And may I say you’re looking particularly handsome today?”
Ivan settled back in his seat contentedly, wrapping his arm around me.
It was so ironic. Most of the school thought I was so lucky, so popular, so perfect. I was a quidditch playing muggle-born and was dating the most popular boy at school. Little did they know the abuse I was suffering in secret.
“You filthy whore,” Maggie spat at me as I walked up to the dormitory with them. She nodded to Tamara and Sierra, and they used their wands to magically bind me and freeze me in place.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d done, so I remained silent.
“You stole Ivan from me! It was supposed to be me and him! I was going to rule the school!” Maggie slapped me and spit in my face.
I could do nothing as the warm saliva dripped down my face, getting tangled in my eyelashes. Then she nodded to Sierra and Tamara again.
Maggie stood back and watched smugly, with an evil glint in her eyes, as I was treated in proper traitor fashion. After about fifteen minutes, they tired, and the girls retreated back downstairs to bid the boys goodnight.
Slowly I healed myself, staggering into the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror and found myself unrecognizable. This was the face of someone who’d lost.
I’d become quite adept at healing charms. I’d also become skilled in acting. But James knew. He knew exactly what I was going through and he refused to give me the time of day. I hated to admit it, but it hurt more than any knife or fist or curse.
After Charms, Ivan walked me to DADA, and as a reward for himself, he crammed his tongue down my throat. The students in my class thought we were sickening lovebirds. I was just plain sick.
Every time I questioned myself and my dignity, I remembered James. I remembered his smile, his laugh, the way he smelled in the crisp morning air and the way he protected his family…and I remembered exactly why I was imprisoning myself.
“Clara! Come sit by me!” Maggie squealed, motioning me over to the center desk, our designated spot. I took my seat and let her smile at me threateningly, a foreshadowing for my nightly beating.
Sure, I could’ve stopped them. I could’ve fought back. But it would only make matters worse for me because it would infuriate them.
I was just biding my time, waiting until they grew tired of hurting me, at least physically. Besides, I always reasoned that I was getting what I deserved, for standing by while they did the same thing to undeserving students for years on end.
Their lack of appreciation for the human life was astounding. It was as though the wars had never been fought. As though tens of thousands of people, Muggle and magical hadn’t died just so that they could sit smugly in their seats, picking out their next victims. It was all a game to them. A sick, twisted game.
All throughout class I listened to Maggie whisper in my ear. “You’re such a little slut,” “If I were as fat and ugly as you, I think I’d off myself,” and my personal favorite, “Just kill yourself. There’s no one on this Earth that even values your existence.”
I’d truly contemplated that statement on multiple occasions. In the end, I decided that doing so would give them too much satisfaction, and that was the one thing that I could still keep for myself. My body, my dignity, my pride, and the only friendship I’d ever valued were given to these vicious leeches. But I refused to give them my life. I wouldn’t put my mother through that again.
I went through the motions each day. Getting up and going out flying. Showering and getting dressed in the locker rooms to avoid a beating from my dorm mates, but meeting Ivan outside the portrait hole so he could assault my mouth and body in front of the entire house. Let him wrap his arm around me while we ate, but listened to him talk of his late-night trysts with various Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs like I wasn’t even there.
I would go to my classes and sit front and center next to Maggie while she tried to poison my thoughts, while acting like we were still the best of friends. Like we were still the envy of the school.
After my classes I’d get pulled into a classroom by Ivan. The terrifying thing was that I never knew what was coming. Would he kiss me, or would I be left to drag myself to the nearest bathroom?
In a matter of three weeks, I’d gone from being on the outskirts, allowed to do what I pleased and freed from the threat of torture or abuse to being the greatest and most mistreated lapdog the world had ever seen. People who had once been my friends treated me like scum, something that didn’t have feelings or thoughts of its own. Something to take frustrations out on.
Despite the constant healing of myself, I felt permanently bruised and broken. I had phantom pain, where I’d remember a particularly grueling beating and feel it on my abdomen or back, regardless of the fact that I’d healed those injuries days ago. This only reinforced my guilt. How many times had I let this happen to others, to children, who didn’t have the ability to fight back like I did?
The only things helping me to keep my composure were my mornings and evenings on the pitch, although now that tryouts had wrapped up, we had started practicing again, and I had fresh, new torture to keep me on my toes.
Our team now stood with Ivan as Captain and Keeper, Ross, Bryant Hayes and I as chasers, Carl and a fifth year named Daniel Leary as beaters, and new-comer Gerald Macauley as our seeker.
During practices, we would be running a drill, and Ross and Bryant would suddenly pull away as two bludgers shot straight for me.
Ivan had the beaters on direct order to bash the bludgers at me at every opportunity, regardless of whether I had the quaffle or not. It was to “improve my game” and “prepare me for anything.”
I really knew it was because to them, I was a blood-traitor. I’d been friends with a Pure, and preferred him to them. I was treasonous.
I let out a groan as a bludger dislocated my shoulder. I’d managed to dodge the first one that time, but had no time to prepare for the second. The only consolation was that I still scored on Ivan. I landed briefly to pop my arm back into place and splint it, and then returned to the air for more.
Being kicked off the team seemed pretty good during practice, I had to admit. But I wanted to play professionally, and that was my one-way ticket out of this hell-hole.
After practice, I went for a run around the pitch to get rid of my frustrations, so I could carry on with the abuse. Though I carried my wand with me and stayed alert the entire time, not even allowing myself to listen to music, the team stayed away. They waited until I was safely tucked into the secrecy of the castle walls to hurt me anymore.
It was funny: during the First and Second Wizarding Wars, Hogwarts had been a safe haven under the rule of Dumbledore. Now, for students like me, it was a real-life nightmare, a constant reminder that we were bottom-feeders, scum, dirt, garbage…and we deserved to be treated as such.
I showered and healed my injuries from practice and headed for Gryffindor Tower. I knew I was too lucky not to run into anyone for almost the entire walk, because as I rounded the corner on the sixth floor, I saw Ross and Carl standing in the hall with their arms crossed.
Sighing, I took a left into the classroom they were guarding, knowing he was waiting for me.
I hated this. I hated myself.
After twenty minutes, Ivan grew bored.
“Put this on,” Ivan said, tossing me his robes. “We’re taking this back to my room so your precious Potter can see.”
Numbly, I did as he said, and I followed Ivan, Ross, and Carl back to the tower. As we entered the portrait hole, Carl and Ross joined Eric and Kevin by the fire, and Ivan put his hand on my arse, shoving me towards the staircase. That was just in case anyone didn’t understand what exactly I would be doing with him upstairs.
“Whore,” Maggie called out, and the common room broke out into laughter. Perhaps the students outside our circle thought she was joking. It didn’t matter, because I knew she wasn’t. She was right.
For the first time in three weeks, I made eye contact with James. He eyed me up and down and scoffed before returning to his homework. Fred simply stared as I walked past.
I followed him up the stairs, and in the darkness of the hallway I allowed my fear to take over as I climbed higher and higher. Wouldn’t my mother be proud.
The next morning it was pouring rain, but as the lightning flashed, I saw a figure already up in the air, waiting for my arrival.
“James?” I called out, flying towards him. “James? Is that you?”
My words got lost in the sudden clap of thunder, but my face dropped when I saw that it was Fred, not James who was floating in the air.
“Fancy a game?” he asked.
Trying to mask my disappointment, I nodded to the quaffle. “You any good?”
He spun the quaffle on his finger and then without looking flung it with all his might towards the end of the pitch. It hit the rim of the middle hoop and fell in.
Fred quirked a brow, as if to say, ‘Do you still doubt me?’
I shrugged. “Your ball.” I trailed him as he shot off for the quaffle, but as I made to steal it from him, he spun his broom around, knocking me off course. He was good, that was for sure. Not as good as James, but I still had my work cut out for me.
I ended up winning. Fred claimed it was because he hadn’t played in months. I told him not to choke on his steaming bowl of bullshit.
When I got out of the shower and changed, I wandered back to the main part of the locker room to find him waiting for me. He was leaning against a locker, deep in thought.
“Waiting for your talent to come back, Weasley?” I teased, bringing him back to the present.
He observed me for a moment. “You were his biggest secret.”
I blinked. “Pardon?”
“James. I never knew, in seven years, that he was meeting anyone else out here. I came this morning to confirm my suspicions. I thought you were like the rest of them. I was wrong. I’m sorry.”
My throat constricted. “I was as bad as them. I never stopped it, I never even tried.”
Fred’s piercing blue eyes pinned me to the wall. “You’re not like them.”
“I never cared about blood status,” I started, choosing my words carefully. “I cared about the game, and eventually, the person I played it with. He was my one true friend, but as soon as I had him, I lost him.” My body felt drained as I spoke.
Fred eyed me carefully. “He’s not lost Sullivan. You are.”
I was puzzled as I thought over his words, but shook my head and trailed him once he started walking back to the castle. Fred was strange. It seemed like he'd been born a few decades too late.
He stayed just ahead of me, a safe enough distance to ensure that we were not together, but close enough so that if anyone tried to grab me, he could protect me. Fred sure wasn’t James, but who was I to turn down a friend at this point?
I continued to meet Fred out on the pitch in the mornings. He’d taken over for James quite effortlessly. I lost more times than I won, but it didn’t matter. He gave me something to work toward, to want, to fight for. That proved to be invaluable.
While I missed James like hell, and I felt like a caged animal being prepared for slaughter, Fred kept me sane. Sanity was not something that came easily to me anymore.
I should have known the privacy we had was too good to be true. Less than a month after I began training with Fred, I found myself pulled into a dark classroom by my hair, with not even time to scream.
I was flung onto the ground, and immediately a foot covered in a steel-toed boot began crushing my ribs.
“So. You’ve found more filth to hang around with. I don’t know if I should be impressed with your determination or your stupidity. But this will teach you to stay with your own kind.”
I got a gasp of air for a glorious second, and then the boot came crashing down on my head.
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