Chapter 1 : A New Home
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The air was escaping from her lungs at a fast speed. Her eyesight became dizzy and blurred, her surroundings switching between focused and unfocused every second. The sounds around her were fading into the distance, as were her brothers ahead of her – they seemed miles away. She wanted to scream out to them, beg them for help, but her throat was closing in on itself, making it impossible to swallow, let alone speak. Her legs had become like jelly, wobbling all over the place, resulting in her being pushed and pulled in all directions as the crowd moved around her.
A boy’s face came into focus beside her, but he quickly disappeared back into the crowd. There was another push forward, and it brought the blackness with it. She tumbled down onto the cobbles. There was yelling around her, but she couldn’t make out any of the words, no matter how hard she tried. By the time her blackness had faded away, the yelling had too. It was then she noticed hands resting on her shoulders, a familiar roughness. She tried to move, tried to see who the hands belonged to, but she found that she couldn’t. Her legs stung, and her eyes focused for long enough for her to notice the blood covering her knees and the hem of her new summer dress. Her mother would surely kill her for this.
“Coralie?” a voice asked, breaking her from her reverie. Her eyes flickered towards the speaker, a dull ache in her head forcing her to groan and shut her eyes again quickly.
“Is she okay?” another voice asked – a sweet, soft one that didn’t sound familiar at all. She wanted to answer that she was fine, although she realised that her response probably wouldn’t be taken as the truth at this point. Most teenage girls didn’t randomly fall over in public places after losing their vision – though they’d only been in England for two weeks, so maybe they did here. “Do you want me to heal her?”
“No,” Coralie whispered, finally finding her voice. She was silent for a moment, unsure as to whether or not the people around her had heard her at all, or whether it was just in her mind. Her vision returned, and Coralie was able to see the crowd that was now surrounding her. On her right, clearly the one who had spoken, was a redhead girl, her bright green eyes gazing worriedly down at Coralie. Beside her was a short girl, her long brown hair tied neatly up in a ponytail, and a selection of bags completely surrounding her. Both girls looked her age, though a few adults had stopped to see what was going on. On her left was Angus, her little brother; his blonde hair was all messed up, probably from pulling at it like he often did when he was nervous about something. Coralie managed to roll her head back, and her older brother, Jacob, sent her a small smile.
“Are you sure? Your knees are pretty banged up,” the girl added, her eyebrows rising slightly. Coralie shook her head, immediately regretted it, and shuffled back slightly so that she was able to sit up.
“We should get home.” Coralie turned her head to face Angus and Jacob, both of whom turned to face one another and shared a look before looking back at her. “Mother will fix my knees. She’ll be wondering where we are, anyway.”
“Fine. Let’s get you up, and we’ll get the Knight Bus home. I don’t think you should be Side-Along Apparating or using Floo Powder quite yet.” Jacob sighed, standing up before grabbing onto Coralie’s arms and pulling her up too. His arms tightened around her waist, Angus doing the same on her opposite side before the three of them headed down the street, Coralie awkwardly hobbling to avoid the shopping bags the boys were holding as they swung into the backs of her legs.
“I told you weren’t ready to go out somewhere so busy, but you never listen to me, do you?”
Coralie winced, jumping back slightly in an attempt to free her leg from her mother’s hold, but her mother didn’t let up. The wet cloth has taken off Coralie’s knees and washed, the blood turning the water a dark red, and then placed back on.
“And you two!” Marcelle Bennett’s vicious blue eyes turned to Angus and Jacob. “Why did you two walk off without her? You knew the state that your sister’s been in for the last couple of weeks – you should have kept a better eye on her. You especially, Jacob! You’re supposed to be looking after Coralie, or did you forget that she’s younger than you again?”
“She only fell over, Mother! You’re making it sound like she was run over by a pack of bulls or mugged by a bunch of hooligans or something!” Angus let out a small snort at this, but he covered it with a cough when their mother’s eyes caught his gaze.
“You know very well that Coralie didn’t just fall over. It was another –“
“Mother,” Coralie interrupted, her eyes flashing dangerously at Marcelle, though the latter took no notice of her daughter.
“You know how bad they have been lately, another –“
“Mother, please don’t bring this up,” Coralie pleaded, moving the cloth off her knees and dropping it back into the bucket; it splashed out, hitting the carpet and Marcelle’s dress, but she still paid no mind to it.
“I just think that maybe we shouldn’t send Coralie away to this school while she’s still having these vicious panic attacks. What happens if she suffers one there? We can’t just turn up there and make sure she’s all right every single time it happens.” Marcelle turned to Coralie now, her eyes softening. “Maybe it would be best if you just stayed here with me, until we can be absolutely sure that you’re feeling better.”
“It’s not just any school, Mother – it’s Hogwarts. She’ll be safe there. Besides, she won’t be completely alone. Angus will be there too, and he knows how to look after Coralie just as well as the rest of us do,” Jacob said. “Besides, you can’t keep her here forever. We don’t know when these attacks will stop, but she has to get into a routine, remember? That’s what Healer Perkins said.”
“Clearly not all of us,” Marcelle muttered under her breath. She used her hands to push herself off the carpet and dusted down her dress. “Let’s not discuss this now, anyway. I’m going to put on the kettle and make us a nice cup of tea – I bought some little cakes for us to have, too. Now, Cora, you go change your dress. Put that one in the wash and I’ll get the blood out later.” She helped Coralie up, set her steady on her feet, and moved towards the kitchen. “Oh, Angus, dear, help Cora up the stairs. Her knees are going to be a bit stiff.”
“What was it this time?” Angus asked after Jacob disappeared upstairs in a huff; he was probably off to play his guitar in his room with his door locked. Despite being twenty-two years old, he still acted like more of a child than Angus did most of the time, and Angus was only fourteen.
“I don’t know,” Coralie answered. “I was fine one minute, and then suddenly I couldn’t breathe or see. I tried to call out to you, but I couldn’t form the words at all.” Angus sighed in response, lifting Coralie’s arm over his shoulder as they moved up the first stair.
“You weren’t thinking about that night, were you?”
When Coralie didn’t respond, Angus sighed, turning his head away from his sister for a moment. “You promised Mum and Jacob that you wouldn’t. You remember that Healer Perkins said that it would only make things worse. If you don’t get better, then Father will get his way, and you’ll get put in hospital until you’re actually better. England was supposed to be the escape.”
“I know,” snapped Coralie. She clenched her fists before letting out a deep breath to calm herself down. “I know,” she whispered softly this time. “I didn’t mean to think about it. There were just so many people around us, and they were getting so close. I thought I could hear music in my head. I kept seeing flashes of gowns around me. I thought I saw him.”
“Cora.” Angus stopped; they had now moved up to the first landing of the stairs. “He wasn’t there. He can’t be. He’s still in France – Monsieur and Madame Melot are sure of it. Emma’s sure that she’s seen him snooping around the gardens. We’re safe here. You’re safe here.”
Coralie let out a sigh, letting her eyes flutter closed for a moment before she reopened them. She tried to smile for him; she was worried that this whole experience had made her baby brother grow up faster than he ever should have. It only felt like hours ago that the two of them has been chasing each other through the gardens of their home – not this unfamiliar one in England, but their childhood home back in France. Their real home.
“I know I shouldn’t worry. I know it’s just making it worse, but there’s this nagging sense in the back of my mind that’s always telling me to look behind me, because he’s there and there’s no possible way I can escape from him.” They finally reached the top of the stairs and continued slowly down the hallway towards Coralie’s new bedroom. Coralie had the last bedroom on the floor, the furthest one away from the stairs, though it had the best view of the house; it was times like this that made it a slight inconvenience.
It was quite a big room, not the same size as her childhood room, but not small by any means. There were huge windows – not quite floor-to-ceiling, but close enough – and they showed off the modest gardens (Marcelle hadn’t had any time to put her magical gardening fingers to the task yet), as well as rows of paddocks as far as the eye could see. The room itself was nothing spectacular, not yet. The boxes from the move still sat packed up in the far corner of the room, and only a few things had been taken out to make the place look like it had been lived in. After Coralie left for school in a week’s time, the room would be properly decorated for her return at Christmas.
Coralie’s new school was called Hogwarts. Compared to her old school, Saint Jeanne, it was a very large school – a castle, in fact. Saint Jeanne’s had been in a converted maison, a little white townhouse, with three levels and big windows in each of the classrooms. It lay on the outskirts of the city of Orléans, southwest of Paris, while Hogwarts was in an Unplottable location somewhere in Scotland. Coralie’s three older siblings – Allisyn, Jacob, and Violet – had all attended Saint Jeanne’s. Before them, their father had also attended the school. Marcelle, however, had attended Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in southern France, though it had been too far away from Orléans for Marcelle’s liking. But now, Hogwarts would be even further away from Buckinghamshire, where they had moved only to two weeks prior.
Coralie had just taken a seat on her bed when her mother appeared carrying a tray that held a teapot, two cups, some milk, and two strawberry tarts, Coralie’s absolute favourite dessert. She placed them on the bed beside Coralie and took a seat on the other side. Angus sent his sister a reassuring smile as he left the room.
“I understand that you’re eager to get back into a routine – or, rather, make a new routine here,” her mother said. “But you have to be careful not to push yourself so far, ma cherie. I think today showed us that maybe you aren’t quite ready yet, that you need to slip back into reality a little slower. Hogwarts is going to be too much for you right now, I think. You could start later, or we can find somewhere smaller. I’m just worried about you, Cora.” She reached over the teapot and placed her hand comfortingly on Coralie’s before drawing back to pour them both a cup of tea.
“Mama,” she whispered softly. “Mama, I need start a new life here in England. That’s why you brought us here, so that we could all start over. You need to let me give this a go. I need to make new friends, and new memories, and I need to be at Hogwarts for that. I’m not going to get any better if you don’t let me try.”
“Coralie, darling – what happens if you have another attack during class? You’ll be surrounded by strangers who don’t know you. Look what happened today – not even your brothers could stop it.” Marcelle took a sip of her tea, and her eyes watched her daughter inquisitively over the brim of the cup.
“Mama, I know that you love me and that’s why you’re worrying so much. But I will try to be better. If I don’t have an attack at all this week, will you still let me go?” Coralie pleaded, stealing a strawberry off the top of her tart and popping it into her mouth. “Please, Mama, I really want to fit in here,” she added when Marcelle did not respond.
“Ma cherie,” Marcelle started with a sigh. “I will let you go, but you must show me that you’ll be all right there by yourself. If you can’t, or if you change your mind, we will find you somewhere else.”
Coralie took in a deep breath. She was unsure whether she'd ever be able to get used to the odd smell that came along with London. It wasn't that it smelt completely terrible or something (though it didn't smell wonderful either) – it just smelt different. She took in the scene around her: King’s Cross Station, Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, September first, 10:47 a.m.
She was more tired than she would have liked to admit, and it was causing her eyes to focus and blur at random intervals. She'd been excited last night, but more than anything, she'd been worried. The last week she'd put on a charade, pretended to be a lot better than she actually felt. She felt so desperate for this day to arrive and then last night, reality had dawned on her. Her mother still believed her to be feeling well, though she had questioned the dark circles Coralie had sported that morning. She seemed to believe the excitement of her youngest daughter to be the reason.
In reality, it was the usual nightmares that had been keeping her awake all night. Flashes of that night – his face was like that one embarrassing moment that your mind just refuses to let you forget. Sometimes the memories were real, and sometimes they’d been distorted by her mind into something even more terrifying than the actual ordeal – she hadn't known that it was possible. Jacob had silenced the room at night, all part of the charade for Marcelle. Sometimes Coralie wondered whether he thought that she was actually getting better, and then she remembered how observant he could be.
It didn't really matter now. Her mother had believed it, and here she was, standing on the platform, her trunk sitting beside her as she and Angus were hugged, kissed, and lectured over and over. Each lecture was slightly different: Marcelle warned them about looking after each other, Allisyn told them not to get into trouble (not that the two of them ever did), and Jacob told them to get into as much trouble as they possibly could. Violet stood to the side and watched them with a bored look in her eyes. If there was anyone in the Bennett family that was unexcited by their spontaneous move to England, it was Violet.
Then again, sometimes Coralie wondered whether there was anything in the world that Violet actually liked other than clothes and make-up.
"Now, you send us a little every Sunday. I want to know what’s happened in the week, how you've been feeling, whether you've have any attacks – even just a glimpse of one. You need to tell me about it. Now quick – onto the train you go!" Marcelle called, kissing Coralie and Angus on both cheeks once more before frantically pushing them towards the train, though it didn't leave for another ten minutes.
"We'll see you all at Christmas," Coralie smiled, hugging Allisyn once more. "And in the letters that we’ll send you every Sunday," Coralie added as Marcelle sent her a sharp look. With these words, it disappeared, and was replaced by a glassy look in her mother's eyes. She pulled out a napkin from her pocket and dabbed at them. Angus sent Coralie a nervous glance, pulling her onto the train before the waterworks began – once Marcelle started, there was no way of telling when she'd stop.
"Let's go find a compartment. This trunk is getting ridiculously hard to pull along," Angus complained, leading the way down the hallway of the train in search of a compartment. They eventually managed to find one, though it had two girls sitting in it, both laughing at something. They looked up when the door opened.
"I'm sorry – do you mind if my brother and I sit here?" Coralie asked. Both girls shrugged, and one of them, a girl with very dark brown hair, patted the spot beside her. Coralie lifted her trunk onto the railing above and took the seat.
"You must be new here. I haven't seen you before."
Coralie nodded. The girl smiled broadly and held out her hand. "I'm Kiki Soho. Welcome to Hogwarts!"
"I'm Coralie Bennett, and that's my little brother, Angus. We just moved to England."
"Oh, how exciting! Where are you from originally?" asked the other girl. She sat forward on her chair as if Coralie was about to tell her some super-classified secret or something. A little bit of her short brown hair fell into her eyesight and she quickly tucked it behind her ear.
"Oh, we're from France."
Both girls’ eyes lit up immediately; they shared a smile between the two of them. "Paris?" Kiki asked, her eyes glistening as she spoke. The smile on her face grew wider.
Kiki's smile dimmed slightly. "That's not that far from Paris, though, is it?" Coralie shook her head, and the other girl smiled.
"Kiki here has this obsession with Paris. It goes with her obsession for boys."
“There’s nothing wrong with liking boys, thank you very much,” Kiki replied in a snappish tone. The smile on her face returned as she turned to Coralie and winked. “Especially French boys, right, Coralie?” Coralie blushed slightly in response.
“I’m so sorry that Kiki here is the first person you’ve had to meet at Hogwarts. I promise we aren’t all as crazy as her. I’m Miranda, by the way. Miranda Perry. Kiki and I are in Gryffindor – I assume you’ve learnt about the houses?” Miranda smiled again.
“Uh, yes. I read Hogwarts, A History before I came here to make sure I knew the basics,” Coralie replied with a slight nod.
“Oh, Merlin. Another bookworm? Lily is just going to love you, dear,” Kiki said, rolling her eyes slightly and leaning back against the chair as if she had lost interest in Coralie.
“She’s referring to our friend Lily Evans,” said Miranda. “She reads a lot. Kiki seems to think that reading is some kind of disease or something, so that’s why she never does it.” Kiki snorted but made no defense against her friend’s comment. “Our other friends should be here soon – there’s Lily, obviously, and Marlene, Mary, Alice, and Shelena. We’re all in Gryffindor sixth-years. What about you two? What year will you be going into?”
“Fourth year for me, sixth for Cora,” Angus said. Miranda sent him a wide smile before turning to Coralie.
“That’s wonderful! Hopefully we’ll get to share some classes. Oh, and Angus – you should look out for Ness Perry in your year. She’s my little cousin. Lovely girl, and she’ll help you if you need anything at all. In fact, she should be in the compartment two doors down, if you want to meet her. I’ll go introduce you, if you’d like?”
Angus nodded, following Miranda out of the compartment, pulling his trunk along behind him again. The two of them had only just left when a redheaded girl entered the compartment, followed by two blondes. It took Coralie a moment, but by the time the three girls had sat down, she realised that this was the same girl who had been in Diagon Alley.
“Oh, hello!” one of the blondes exclaimed; her eyes had widened slightly as she noticed Coralie. “I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Marlene McKinnon. And you are?”
“Oh, Marls, how did you not notice my lovely new friend? Her name is Coralie Bennett,” Kiki cut in before Coralie had the chance to say anything. She leant towards Marlene, and with a smirk, she added, “She’s from France. Just moved here.” Marlene looked her over once before smiling. “Those two are Lily and Mary,” Kiki added, turning to Coralie and motioning towards the other two girls.
“I just saw the blonde hair and thought she was Shelena,” Marlene said. Coralie watched the redhead –Lily – tense a little at the name, though none of her other friends did.
She took the seat next to Coralie. “Speaking of Shelena, has anyone seen her? Or Alice, for that matter?”
“Probably off with their boyfriends or something,” Mary said, rolling her eyes. “You know, because they never saw them during the holidays or anything.”
“Shelena’s not with Black,” Lily stated before turning to Coralie. “What school did you go to before Hogwarts?”
“How do you know that, Lils?” Marlene asked, her eyebrows furrowing.
“Uh, Saint Jeanne’s Academy in Orléans,” Coralie replied uncertainly; Lily had not taken her eyes off her, nor had she acknowledged her friend’s question.
“Jeanne? As in Joan of Arc?” Lily asked. Coralie nodded. “Oh, what sorts of classes did you take there? What classes are you going to take here?”
“Lily, give the girl some time to breathe,” Miranda teased, plopping back into her previous seat.
“She was probably off snogging Potter and happened to notice Black there, all by himself,” she said, answering Marlene’s question. All of sudden, Lily’s faced turned bright red.
“I was not ‘off snogging Potter,’ as you put it,” she exclaimed indignantly before managing to calm herself down. “I was talking to Remus, and he said that Shelena hadn’t turned up to see Black yet. He wouldn’t talk about why when Remus asked.”
“You don’t think they’ve had another fight, do you?” Mary asked worriedly, biting down on her lip. “Did you ask when you visited her over the holidays?”
“I didn’t see her these holidays – you know we had that argument before we got off last year. I figured she was being her usual self and was refusing to apologise, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to.”
“But then nothing. I didn’t even walk past her house at all. Now, can we please move on to a different subject? I’m sure she’ll turn up in the middle of dinner, causing some big scene, like she usually does.”
“How could you not walk past her house at all these holidays? Don’t you have to in order to get, like, anywhere? Did you stay home the entire holiday?” Marlene cut in.
“Honey, that’s actually really sad if you did. You should have come partying with me!” Kiki exclaimed.
“I just didn’t have a reason to go that way anymore, so can we please stop it? And I’ll have you know I didn’t spend my entire time home – I went out with Alice a few times, and my parents took me down to the beach a few times.” Lily paused for a moment, as if thinking something over, and then turned to Coralie with a puzzled expression on her face. “I knew I’d seen you before! You were in Diagon Alley with your brothers last week, weren’t you?”
Coralie’s heart began to race – she’d been hoping that Lily wouldn’t remember her, at least for a little while. How on earth was she supposed to make friends if they all thought she was some freak who fainted all the time?
“How on earth is your memory that good, Lily? I can’t even remember things that happened to me yesterday,” Mary grumbled. Coralie was thankful for the distraction, even if it was only for a moment.
“Coralie and I were talking about, books, you see. She gave me some really good recommendations. That’s why I remember her face.”
Coralie let out her breath and closed her eyes for a split second, calming herself down. Lily wouldn’t be able to ever understand how grateful Coralie was for her lie right at that moment.
“You and your bloody books, Lily. I swear, you should just marry them,” Kiki teased. Lily and Coralie shared a look as the conversation broke away from the subject.
The castle was beautiful. There were absolutely no words in French or in English that Coralie could have used to describe it. In fact, she was betting that there were no words in any language in the world that would do justice to it. It had stopped her right in her tracks; it had rendered her speechless. She’d been feeling slightly guilty over deceiving her mother, but as she gazed upon the sight in front of her, all that guilt had simply disappeared. This was worth everything.
She looked back at Angus, who wore the same look of amazement that she did – or, at least, so she imagined. The small boat they occupied rocked slightly, but neither of them paid any attention to that whatsoever.
The boat ride did not last nearly as long as they thought it would. Before they knew it, they were walking up the brilliant old staircases of the castle to a set of large doors. Her reading of Hogwarts, A History told her that the Great Hall would be behind those doors, and was also where they would be Sorted.
Once again, Coralie’s breath was taken away from her as the doors opened. Like the rest of the first years, her eyes immediately went up to the ceiling. It was dark blue, with a few grey clouds present, but the stars brightened up the whole sky. Coralie had to pinch herself to remember that everything around here was real. Everything was so different from Saint Jeanne’s.
They came to a halt in front of the teachers’ table, and the young students tittered around them. Suddenly, the room became quiet as a man with long white hair and a long white beard, both of equal length, and half-moon spectacles stood up. Coralie figured he was Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster.
"Before we begin our Sorting of first years,” Dumbledore began as silence fell over the students, “we have two new pupils that need to be sorted first. Coralie and Angus Bennett are joining as from Saint Jeanne's Academy of Magic, and will be joining sixth and fourth year, respectively. Miss Coralie Bennett will be sorted first, if you please."
Shakily, Coralie made her way up towards the stool that was waiting for her. With a backward glance at the stern woman, Professor McGonagall, she sat down and waited for the hat to be placed on her head.
"Well, here's something new.”
Coralie jumped as she heard the voice in her head, shooting a worried glance at Angus as the voice chuckled.
“It's just me. The hat, pet,” she heard the voice say. She had known about the Sorting Hat, but it still felt strange to hear it talking to her. “Now,” the hat continued, “where to put you? Hmm… Too much of a troublemaker for Hufflepuff. A will to learn, but a heart that prefers to have fun. Well, then, Ravenclaw's definitely out. It seems to be between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Ahh, yes. I've got it...”
“GRYFFINDOR!" the hat roared out loud, and deafening eruption came from the table Coralie guessed was Gryffindor’s as she took the hat off and gave it back to Professor McGonagall. She slowly made her way towards the table, where the girls were all cheering and waving for her. They each sent her smiles as she slipped into the empty seat next to Lily. She watched as, moments later, Angus joined her at the table, grinning madly at her as she turned her attention back to the rest of the Sorting.
It didn’t take as long as Coralie was expecting. She was fascinated by how the hat managed to pick which students belonged where in a matter of seconds. It seemed no one else in the school shared her fascination; the boys further down the table spent most of the time complaining about their hunger. When it was over (one of the boys had exclaimed in relief), Professor Dumbledore stood up.
“To all the new students, I would like to welcome your new home. Here you will make outstanding memories with lifelong friends, and you will have the chance to become whatever it is that you desire. To all the returning students, I can only promise that I will not make you wait any longer for your food. Dig in!”
The students of Hogwarts needed no further invitation as the food appeared; plates were piled up and up with mountains of food. It wasn’t until she had popped a carrot into her mouth that Coralie realized how hungry she really was, and so, soon enough, her plate was covered with an assortment of food.
“That’s how you do it,” Marlene chuckled, her eyes twinkling over her own pile of food. “It’s like you already belong here.” A smile grew on Coralie’s face, and her heart sped up a little. For a moment, she was a little dizzy. She noted that it wasn’t the same kind of dizziness that she had grown used to. This kind of dizziness was good. It was filled with hope. She kept eating, the smile never leaving her face.
Authors Note: Hello and welcome to ‘Tied Together With a Smile’. This is, in fact, a re-write of a story which I started four years ago and finished early last year. Since then, I started the sequel to this story but hit a bit of a rough patch which led me in deciding to rewrite the whole thing- neither the original version of this story nor the sequel remain on my page anymore.
If you read the original version, you will notice that this is quite different. While the main plot will remain the same, I have decided to change how, when and why (also some small details) and a few of the characters. So, some characters have been cut all together, others will appear in later chapters but may be slightly altered from the original.
If you didn’t read the original, then I hope that you really enjoyed this first chapter and that you will let me know what you think and will continue to read my story.
Thank you so much for reading guys and I will have the next chapter up as soon as possible.