Chapter 1 : Aaliyah: The Meeting
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A/N: First off, this is my first venture into fanfiction after a long time. So hopefully it isn't too bad. :)
Secondly, the idea of this story had come to me one day. It latched on to me and wouldn't let go. After a lot of thought I decided to start typing it up and the story that is now beneath you (well beneath this chunk of text) was born. This story is going to involve friendships, surprises, some (actually a lot) attractive males, betrayals, a couple cliches, and lots of drama.
If you end up taking this journey with me, thank you and be ready for the unexpected.
So prepare to enter the world of Crossing the Borderline, if you dare.
Happy Reading! :D
I walk down the empty hallway, letting my eyes wander across the ancient paintings that decorate each wall. Most of them are empty, hence the silence.
As I make my way further down the corridor, I notice that some of the paintings, indeed, aren’t empty. Some of them are in their own paintings while others are visiting neighbouring ones.
“Did you hear about the hooligan that dung-bombed the classroom on the-”
“Oh boy that doesn’t sound too good! It turns out that old Myrtle is having a visitor. I heard he was just-”
“using her for information about Peeves, I know! But it’s not like she knows anything about catching Peeves …..”
“Have you heard about that painting on the second floor that got vandalised? Turns out a Hufflepuff drew all over it with his wand. The nerve of some people! If that was me, than I would have….”
I roll my eyes at hearing these bits of conversation. Paintings these days sure did gossip a lot.
They also snore a lot, I add as an afterthought as I tip-toe past a snoring one that happens to come from the time they wore powdered wigs.
After a couple minutes, I am at a empty hallway. Seeking my destination, I start counting off the vacant classrooms to the right side of the hallway.
At number seven, I stop. Looking at my feet I can feel the fear bubbling inside me, slowly consuming me. It has been a long time since I've been to any of these interviews and I'm not exactly sure what crisis awaits me on the other side of the door.
I hate this fear that lives inside of me. It’s not like it has any right to be there. It’s better to just push it to the back of my mind. That way I don’t have to think about it. Yet, it comes back on some occasions.
It is still there.
It's laughing at me now. A slow, hollow laugh. It wants to let the moment last more than it should.
It's gone (for now at least).
I adjust the strap of my school bag. My hands are shaking, making me glare at them. ‘You’re going to be fine,’ I reassure myself, trying to be more confident.
Letting out a breath, I turn the doorknob and push open the rusty door. It makes a loud squeak directing all three pairs of eyes on me. Avoiding their piercing gazes, I close the door as gently as possible.
When I turn, my sister’s deep blue eyes await me. She looks relieved. Her face then breaks out into a grin, a full one that reaches her eyes. I nod, acknowledging her presence. I can tell she is surprised. She has never been very good at hiding her emotions. But then, neither have I.
I slip my bag off of my shoulder and place it on an empty table nearby. The room is one that looks like it hasn't been used in a couple of years. A number of spider webs hang in the corners and the windows are tinted with dust. A couple of moments later, I take a seat in front of a certain hazel-eyed, black-haired seventh year.
“I see you made it, Aaliyah! Gabby here was freaking out about when you would get here,” he says, looking at me mock-stern.
“I did not!” protests my sister, causing me to laugh. This lot has always managed to get me to smile. It’s like they spread happiness when they are around you. I have missed them bunches this past year.
When I am done smiling, I look next to me to see a stranger with emerald eyes looking at me curiously. I raise an eyebrow at him. In return, he shrugs before returning to his conversation with my sister. Weird, he usually never pays me any attention.
Technically, of course, he isn't a stranger. The boy with the dark hair and brooding eyes is none other than Albus Potter. Of course I know his name--who doesn't? But I don't know the real him at all. He's as much a stranger to me as any unknown first year. He and his brother look a lot alike with their jet-black, messy hair and tall, broad structure. But the middle Potter is a Slytherin. Yes, I repeat, a Slytherin. His family doesn’t shun him or anything but it was a huge shock to them when they found out.
James is, of course, a Gryffindor by heart. However, the differences between the two don’t end here. James has this care-free nature, a warm smile that makes you want to grin back, and is always up to something while Albus is a bit more conservative and harder to figure out. I've heard that his eyes never reveal a thing. It’s like he blocks out the world in some way. Most people perceive it as emotionless or heartless.
My sister would disagree, though. She once said that he just has some trust issues and thinks of things differently.
I guess that explains how James and I were childhood friends and why I didn’t in any way get to know Albus other than the rumours that go around.
“How’s it going Jamesie? Any new pranks you’re planning?” I ask.
“Sadly no, we’re trying to keep it low for a while,” James says, giving me a half-hearted smile. He looks defeated to say the least.
“You’re staying low for a while?” I ask, not believing a word of it. Ever since James entered Hogwarts he has been wreaking havoc in all ways possible. And I do mean in all ways, whether it is by dying someone's hair, or tap dancing in the Great Hall or even confessing his love for Professor Longbottom (No joke. That did actually happen).
“Well, a couple of weeks ago, Jack got caught when we did the Slytherin prank.” That prank was pure genius. You can’t expect any less from them. Most of the Slytherin guys had pink robes while the girls had deep voices. Every time one of the female snakes tried to flirt with someone, the guy vanished before a minute was over. There went their self-esteem, I guess. “It was pretty obvious that Fred, Aiden, and I were involved in it too, but McGonagall found no proof so we were off the hook. Jack has four months worth of detention though.”
“Well, that’s not that bad.”
Right at that moment Albus tunes into our conversation and thinks it would be nice to use his sarcasm. “Sure, 'cause scrubbing the Great Hall for a month and cleaning out Slughorn's troll wax jars isn't that bad,” he finishes off by drawing the last word out longer than necessary.
“Just trying to be positive,” I mutter under my breath. Sadly, the Potter sitting next to me hears what I say and just smirks at me, knowing he won whatever this is. James just sighs.
“I guess I misjudged McGonagall. Under her strict disposition, I always thought she had more of a Dumbledore personality you know. The ‘I’ll let you off the hook as long as you don’t do anything else that disrupts the students’ thing Dad told us about.” says James, sighing into his hands.
I think about his words for a while. McGonagall is more strict nowadays. In first and second year she was more light-hearted and calm. Maybe her old age is getting to her. “Well I guess we underestimated her. Do you think she still talks to Dumbledore’s painting? The one that is in her office?”
James seems a little hesitant. He finally gives an easy one-word answer, “Probably.”
Soon we wave away the topic and start discussing the subject of importance: Quidditch. Gabby is clearly the only one who isn’t that interested in this particular topic.
A couple of minutes later, James and Albus start arguing about which team is better; the Chudley Cannons or the Harpies. Obviously, the better team is the Chudley Cannons, who are currently kicking arse. Albus is clearly delusional for thinking that the Harpies have a chance against them. I bet that he's biased since his mum used to play on that team.
Our conversation ends suddenly when a noise is heard by all four of us. It's coming from the hallway. We all sit there, not daring to utter a word. It is an all too familiar sound.
Everyone, excluding Albus, freezes, looking at each other frantically. You know when you are expecting someone but are secretly hoping that they won’t show up? I think that is what we all were anticipating and craving for, except for the smug middle Potter, who is currently looking at us calmly, with a side of amusement perhaps?
For some reason he directs this amused look at me. And before I can react, he smirks at me for some unknown reason, as if he knows something I don't. This causes me to fidget in my seat, feeling uncomfortable by the attention. Reaching closer, he takes a strand of my hair, looks at it questioningly, and then lets it go quickly. He gives his attention back to James and Gabby, hands drumming in a calm, bored manner.
At this point, I am annoyed with him. I don’t have a specific reason to be, but I am. He blamelessly has that serene manner that a lot of people can’t pull off. You know those human beings that don’t react to anything? It’s like nothing affects them; they somehow have no breaking point. They never have that moment when they just crack which is then followed by them going completely bizarre.
Albus Potter is definitely one of them. He is one of those people that just doesn't crack.
I call those people The Emotionless Ones. And for some unknown reason I want to make him squirm. I want to make him uncomfortable, to know that he is capable of REAL human emotion so everyone can see that Albus Severus Potter is able to show affection, sorrow, rage, remorse, and all that other shit people want to push away.
I guess the rumours about him are true.
Those thoughts are forgotten when I hear the click-clack of heels louder. She is coming closer. It won't be long before she's outside the door. And in those few minutes the only thing going through my mind is a flashing neon sign that reads, 'ABORT MISSION! ABORT MISSION!'
I am so engaged in rationalising my options (meaning making a run for it before that death trap gets here) that I don’t notice the pair of eyes that are focused on me.
A shudder passes through my body as I slowly realise that someone, in fact, is watching me. That person is watching me very closely, too closely. I carefully swivel my body to the right to see that he is staring right at me again, waiting for my reaction patiently. I bite the inside of my cheek waiting for him to say something, anything really.
A couple of seconds pass, no one blinks. The gases that we call air are getting heavy, really heavy. I feel the competitiveness, the determination of not backing down without a fight. (The fight is a staring contest. Laugh if you want, but it is still a fight through and through.)
Reserved, his face is absolutely reserved. His eyes show depth as if you can search through them forever, yet never ever find the answer you are seeking. It’s hard to explain what they make you feel like, but it is even harder to look away from those green gems.
I see a flicker of emotion pass through them. I can’t put my finger on what it is. Is it sorrow? Is it hurt? No, it is neither, I know that for sure. And then, it clicks. My eyes widen as I recognise what the emotion is: Pity. Quickly, my eyes narrow. Pity, I think with disgust. I wrinkle up my nose in dislike.
His face then loses its collected grip and softens. He isn’t looking at me anymore. He is looking past me. I haltingly circle around to face the direction that captures his attention.
I am met with a person. Not just any person. It is her, the blonde devil. I haven’t had a good talk (more like an argument) with her in months. All she does is stand there, looking at all of us with a sickly-sweet smile plastered over her face.
I’ll be honest; I don’t hate her, not really. I have always believed in the saying “Evil isn’t born. It’s made.” At some point in her life Ronan was good or better than what she is now.
I remember on the first day of being a Hogwarts student, I saw her. Well, I think it was her. Anyway I saw someone my age, just a bit shorter than me. She had chestnut coloured wavy hair and the lightest shade of blue-green eyes. Her hands were shaking like mine and the crowd consumed her. That isn’t why she caught my attention, though.
It was because she was like a light bulb. Her face put on an exhibition of all of her emotions- nervousness, annoyance, excitement, worry, confusion. Any you could imagine was there, painted on her face. It was like a play where her hair was the curtains and her eyes and expressions were the stars of the show.
Moving on from that memory, there is also another curious event in history, (well, not history per se, but it happened a couple of years ago so it counts) when the first Ronan Daily came out. No one can really recall how it occurred or when it occurred. It just happened.
All I recall is that, it was somewhere in the middle of third year. At first it wasn't that interesting. She reported about small stuff like new Weasley Wizard Wheezes products and silly bets that the Gryffindors made. Then fourth year hit and everything went downhill from there. From then Charlotte Ronan was known as ‘The Hurricane’. Yes the ‘the’ is necessary.
If there is a break-up or some sort of gossip that you want to hide, she will find out. It’s rather that or her cronies (first and second year Puffs) will find out. It is way easier to just tell her because if you don’t she’ll smear it across the walls of Hogwarts and not in a good way. She will twist the story, she will make your name look worse than bad, and you will have to shield yourself from the students.
She has the power to destroy your reputation. And she knew that. And because of that she has all the power.
You know how in poker there is always one person who has the upper-hand? The person with the upper-hand is her. Always. She has the ace(s) and even if you have a good card, you don’t have a chance against her because somehow she knows how to use your own cards against you. And that is the worst fate of all: knowing you are your own downfall.
Her teal eyes land on James first; I see specks of red appear. Hunger, that’s what I read from her eyes. She shifts her eyes to my sister for a short second. Her gaze quickly passes over to Potter. First, there is a nod, then a frown, and lastly a blink. Potter just studies her: noticing her every expression, reading her every emotion.
Finally her eyes land on me. She is looking at me, the Ravenclaw who she failed to break down no matter how much she tried.
She is flabbergasted, yup, completely and utterly shocked. We glare at each other, calculating each and every motion, predicting our next moves. ‘Don’t back down now,’ I warn myself.
Charlotte Ronan then flashes me her famous smirk, the devil’s smirk. Flicking her wand, a notepad and quill appear in her hand. She pulls up a wooden chair and takes a seat looking at us expectantly. It's like hell itself sent her here except that it didn't. James and Gabby did.
No one says anything. I suddenly find a fascination in my nails. If you are wondering, they are painted navy blue with sparkly stars. It's okay to be jealous.
“So which one of you is going to speak first?” she inquires plainly, nodding at both James and Gabby. Looking at each other uncertainly, James speaks first.
“Well, um…. what do you want to know?” He's anxious. I can tell by the way he is running his hands through his hair. It's one of his annoying habits, though girls seem to swoon over him more because of it.
“A story. I want a story,” she says as if it is the most obvious thing in the world. Charlotte continues to examine the pair before continuing, “Why don’t you start by stating why you broke up?”
“We broke up because it wasn’t working.” I guess my sister does have a voice. “A relationship is a promise to take a chance to see if it will work out. Once both parties don’t want to continue it, then it’s over.” Her voice has authority. It demands attention. I only saw her use this voice a few times in her life: once when she convinced Mum to let her go to Germany for two weeks with our cousin and another time when she confessed something to a certain someone. That story I’m saving for later though.
“Both parties?” Ronan inquires.
“Yes.” The grip my sister has on her seat tightens while her jaw juts out slightly. Probably runs in the family to get annoyed by reporters.
Suddenly James does something I don’t expect. He touches my sister’s hand gently like when a feather drops slowly to the ground. Her grip on the chair eases and he takes the chance to curl his fingers around her delicate ones.
The two of them were hand-in-hand in front of Ronan, showing her that they could take her on. That they could equally size up any question she threw at them. But it also shows a spark of togetherness that could hint that they still have something going on.
Albus must have seen the whole thing occur since his lips are pressed together in a straight line. It shows that he doesn’t approve.
“So you just decided to end it, right then and there?” Ronan whispers disappointed and unfulfilled at what a lame story this would be. I can’t blame her. It is an uneventful, uninteresting, no drama story. Basically, it's averagely boring.
“Yes, that is what she just said.” My tone comes out a bit condescending and boy, does she notice with the glare she shoots at me. The thing about Ronan is that she likes to think that she is superior when she really isn’t. Describing Ronan is too difficult because there aren’t any positive words that sum her up, only negative words. Hogwarts is a battlefield and she has the nuclear bombs while we only have blankets to hide under.
“This isn’t what I’m looking for. You have to give me something to work with at least.”
“There might not be a story but there is what you call gossip. I’m one of the most wanted guys at Hogwarts and now I’m single. All you need to do is spice it up.” The eldest Potter leans closer to her. He is street smart. Using who he is and his name got him places and right now he is doing just that.
“I see. I’m still not happy about it but,” Charlotte pauses ominously for a second, letting us wait for the last part of her sentence, “it will do, for now.”
When she gets up, her quill and notepad vanish from sight. Giving us one last look-over, Ronan, the devilish journalist, puts us out of our misery by exiting the room.
James leaves first, giving us a thousand-watt grin. After that, Gabby gets up to leave, waving an awkward good-bye, leaving only two in the room. Albus and me. Alone. Well, this isn't going to be good.
I slowly get up out of my seat, feeling Albus’s eyes slice through my back. Walking up to the table I remember leaving my bag on, I see that it isn’t there. Frowning, I start to search for it.
I had been looking under the table when a voice behind startles me. “Looking for this?”
Closing my eyes, I bring myself up off the floor to turn and see him. He has a mischievous smirk drawn on his face, one that I’ve seen James wear a lot. On Albus however, it looks colder and less real. Dangling on his pinky is my worn-out, tan-colored bag. “May I have it back?” I ask, letting annoyance seep into the question.
“Maybe, if you say please.”
“May I have it back please?”
“Why not?” I demand. I can feel myself growing impatient by the second.
“Why? Do you need it?” Puzzlement is etched on his face. It is an imitation and he knows it. This is just a rouse and a pointless one at that.
He expects an answer. However, he doesn’t get one. “Here,” Albus throws the bag carelessly not even aiming it at me. It follows the path of a low arch then lands on the space right beside my foot.
In one swift movement, it is in my hand and looped onto my shoulder. My eyes are on the door that separates freedom from prison. It takes me a couple seconds to reach it; however, I am matched with disappointment when it won’t open.
The worst part is that my wand isn’t in my bag. I couldn’t have dropped it. No one would have been that clumsy and, let me tell you, I am not clumsy.
“Have you lost something?” he inquires with mock-worry. That arse has gone as low as stealing my wand. What a thief! It is obvious that he desires something. It is best to just ask him what he wants and get it over with so I can get out of here.
I round to face him, dropping my bag on the floor and angrily kicking it away. I raise both arms over my head in defeat. “What do you want?” My tone is cold. No more being nice, not that I ever was, but whatever.
He came here for a reason. He has something planned out. Something no one knows about. Something I don’t what to know about, but at this moment I have no choice because Slytherins get dirty if they don't get what they want. Very dirty. No joking around with them.
“I want a lot of things, love. Exactly which one are you talking about?” There is a challenge in his eyes, one that I will not accept under any costs.
“Cut the crap. You know precisely which one I am talking about.” I cross my arms over my chest defiantly. No one plays with me and sure as hell no one calls me ‘love’. Rebellious teenage girl with mood swings, here I come.
“I have a proposition.” Way to be specific, Potter. A proposition can mean anything.
“I’m listening.” The two words come out a bit more cautious than I want them to. They show that I actually care about what he says and what he thinks which I do not.
“James and Gabby broke up.” No shit, Sherlock, I think before I can stop myself. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out. He is listing the obvious, waiting for the right moment to let his real statement out.
“And?” I ask, wanting him to continue.
“That means Ms. Ronan will be looking for more drama and gossip and all that other ugly stuff in between. Without a golden couple, shit is going to break out. Not good shit.” His eyes bug out a tad as the last sentence comes out of his mouth. A flash of uneasiness sweeps across his face soon disguised with seriousness.
“Why should I care?”
“You owe your sister. James and Gabby faked being a couple for half a year to keep Ronan from digging into people’s lives. The Weasleys, Potters, Scamanders, Woods, and all the other groups were protected. They were given more of a chance to live without reserve. That wasn’t the main reason though. It was to shield you and don’t act like you don’t know it because you do.”
His eyes sear into mine, emerald meets ash. This is barely the beginning. He is giving me a reason to be persuaded into saying yes to his proposition even though I don’t know it yet. This is a guilt-trip and I am falling hard into it.
Damn, he's manipulative.
“What do you want?” I repeat through gritted teeth.
“I think you already know.”
“I have no clue about what you’re talking about.”
“Hogwarts new golden couple: you and me.” he says it so simply like he didn’t just drop a bomb into the room.
“What is your benefit?” Curiosity gnaws at me as did suspicion.
“Nothing much. Free snogging with no strings attached.” He claims suggestively, even adds a shrug for good measure. That doesn’t fool me though.
“I’m not an idiot. You can get that by snapping your fingers. Tell me your real motive.”
“And why should I tell you?” he snarls getting defensive.
In a few quick strides I am face-to-face with him. “Because if you don’t there is no way I’m agreeing to this.” I growl. I should have been placed in Slytherin with my threatening abilities. “And honestly, I don’t think you would ask anyone else of this.”
His anger is gone. The mixture of bitterness and annoyance disappear, leaving only reasonability. Leaning back he gives me an amused, smug smile. “Smart girl.”
I ignore the taunting comment. “Spit it out.”
“Same reason as yours. Guilt is a bitch. And I don’t like owing people, especially my brother.”
“Okay then.” Taking a step back, I cool down. Weighing my options, my lips turn down into a frown. Yes or no? Yes or no? Maybe yes, but then maybe no.
“Okay as in you are agreeing?” His voice seeps eagerness. Big mistake.
“Okay as in you have a good reason. The answer itself is no.” It is one of those things you don’t have to think about. The answer just comes out and when it does you have no control over it. And that ‘no’ keeps repeating inside my head. I don’t know whether it is a good answer or not, or if I have just made a mistake or not.
“That’s fine. I had a feeling that you would say no.”
“Then why ask?” I mean if it was me in his place I would not have said anything in the first place. Rejection is too risky in my opinion.
“I know you will change your mind, that’s why.” He says smirking and swaggering out of the room leaving me to deliberate on what he could possibly mean.
beta'd by LilyAndScorpius4eva
a big thank you as well to all who have helped me edit this and gave suggestions!
Disclaimer: all belongs to the wonderful JK Rowling, only OCs and plot are mine.
A/N: I actually don't know how to start this but... here we go. This is me trying to write fanfiction after some time. I don't know if this is any good. However, I thought I would give it a shot and post this chapter. And I would love if you left a review in that little gray box down there. :D
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