"Harley," I said, maybe too excitedly considering the person I was talking to. I gave her a big squeeze, and her hand patted my back a bit stiffly before sneaking out of the hug.
"Nice to see you, Dorcas," she said, smiling widely but insincerely. I sighed heavily, giving her my own weak smile back. I guess Harley hadn't changed. I waved back to Sirius and James again, the Potter's waving back happily as well. I caught Peter's eye and nodded, and then Remus'. Harley grinned tightly at James' parents, and began walking out of the station quickly.
"Let's go," she said abruptly, taking my arm loosely and walking us towards her still dented truck. I smiled in the familiarity of it all, lifting my trunk into the back like I had at the beginning of the year. The beginning of the car ride was dead silent. I felt like she knew I knew everything. It was so tense until I finally tried to break the ice. I'm not saying it worked.
"So, Har," I said, her head tilting towards me, "how is the job going?" Very wrong question indeed.
"It's not going, Dorcas," she said, tiredly and in annoyance. Of course she wasn't working.
"Well, were you planning on working?" I asked again. I must've forgotten how to deal with Harley in her absence.
"No," she said, clearly not keen on speaking. She zipped up her jacket and tightened her grip on the steering wheel, setting her eyes forward on the motorway. I leaned my head against the window frame, and closed my eyes, trying to waste the long and silent car ride we were about to face.
When we finally arrived, it was four in the afternoon, and I wanted to begin making dinner. I haven't been able to cook in four months, and I missed it.
"I'm making Yorkshire and a roast," I called down to the study where Harley was seated, reading my report. Pudding and roast were her favorite, and I really needed to be in her favor tonight.
"I'll be in in a minute, Dorcas," she responded. I basted faster and faster, trying to figure out from her tone if she were mad or not. Why couldn't I have gotten the lying genes like her? She came in from the doorway behind me, holding up my report with a disapproving look on her face.
"Really?" she asked, before coming to sit down at our small wooden table in the center of the kitchen.
"I'm sorry," I said apologetically, placing her food down in front of her, and then taking the seat across from her.
"Well I'll be writing McGonagall every month to make sure your grades are up to par, then," she said with a tone of finality about the subject. I'm sure that would have been a much worse ordeal had the food not caused the small smile that came up on her face.
"You know, just because mum and dad are gone doesn't mean I don't care about you," she said softly. Softer than I'd ever heard her speak before.
"I know," I said, angry at the fact that she used that example once again to excuse her coldness. The scrapings of our forks filled the pregnant silence that followed our small conversation, and Melon whined for her dinner a couple more times.
"I'm going to visit the Potter's house on the last few days of break. Is that alright?" I asked, looking down intently at my food again to avoid her scathing gaze.
"That's fine, I guess. I won't take you, but if you can get there, go ahead." I looked at her in complete shock, even though I shouldn't be surprised. We continued our silence, her constant tapping becoming annoying. Melon whined a few more times and was rubbing up against my leg.
"Will you feed that cat, Dorcas!" she yelled, slamming her hand on the table. I jumped at her sudden outburst, and the whining Melon leaped into my lap, her fur standing up on her back.
"Yes, Harley," I answered obediently. "Are you going to be okay?" I asked quietly, placing my hand gingerly on her shoulder.
"I'm fine," she said harshly, her voice cracking a bit. "I'll be fine," she choked out, getting up swiftly and moving back to the study. Her plate was still full but I knew that she was not going to come back and finish.
"Oh great," I said, talking to Melon who just wanted food, and didn't care about my problems either way.
Expressly and Exclusively Addressed to Miss Harley Ann Meadowes
Department of Mysteries
Dear Miss Meadowes,
We regret to inform you that we will not be able to accept you into our Unspeakables training program. You were an applicant among many that we were forced to turn away. You met all of our requirements, but are not qualified enough in the area of field work to be accepted. The department sends it's best, and has recommended you for a position in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. Thank you again for your application!
Head of Department of Mysteries,
Her scrawny signature had been blocked by my thumb, and was now crumpled away with the rest of the letter. Damn Department of Mysteries. Of course I was recommended to the DMAC, everyone was recommended there because no one actually wanted to work there. Smooth move Forthwit. I threw the letter in the trash can and stared at it for a couple of minutes, my mind completely blank. No shit, I didn't have enough field experience. I can't do magic, you dolts.
That's why I applied to the Department of Mysteries in the first place. I had thought, naively, that since my uncles were both accepted that I would be as well. I had done exceptionally well in Hogwarts, but I still couldn't exhale a simple protego to save my life. Literally. If I did utter that protego, I would die.
I let out a shaky sigh and rubbed my face in exhaustion. How did this happen? I had done everything right in school, but I simply wasn't able to keep a job. Dorcas was dumb, thinking it was because I refused to accept my status as a lower class employee. It was because no one wanted someone who couldn't, well, wouldn't do magic.
But this, this was my last resort. I didn't know where else to turn from here. I couldn't tell Dorcas. She would have enough going on in her life soon enough. Mum had wanted me to tell her when she turned seventeen, but I thought that was a horrible birthday present. I would wait until a month before her birthday, this way she would get the bad news, and then have a small celebration of some sort. I knew she wouldn't think of it like me. She's lucky she's always been an optimist. All I ever saw at my birthdays was a year closer to death. Or, I used to think that at least. I was supposed to die so much earlier, and I had been very lucky. Now it scares me to fall asleep. I can't even close my eyes without the fear of never opening them again.
My chest jumped again as a sob wracked my body. I hadn't cried in so many years, I forgot how sick, weak, it made me feel. How could this be happening to me?
I did hear her crying from out here. At first, I didn't know what was happening, because I've never heard Harley cry before. She was acting very strangely tonight at dinner, maybe afraid, or ashamed.
I chuckled a bit while thinking that. It was truly amazing how much had changed since the beginning of this year. I never used to be so observant or empathetic. As a matter of fact, this time last year I probably wouldn't have even come home for break. The dish I was holding slipped from my hand and fell back into the sink, making a loud clattering noise. She must've heard it, because I heard a sharp intake of breath, and then silence.
I wasn't sure how to deal with this. At all. I mean, when I cried, Harley had never comforted me before. Was I supposed to comfort her? I put the final dish in the cabinet and sat down. I knew this would be an odd break.
It was strange to once again be back here, I thought, as I walked through the fruit market on Cobbler Road. My hair was being especially bothersome today, as the wind whipped it back and forth, even in it's bun. I hooked the rampant curls that had flown loose behind my ear, and continued down the open market to see if there was anything else that caught my eye. Something did catch my eye, although it wasn't fruit. It was Wendy Papicorn. My shoulders sank as I let out a sharp breath. I never imagined I would be standing here, not five meters from my old best friend. I kind of forgot they all existed, truth be told.
"Dorcas," she yelled, waving to me from where she was standing with Callie and Allison. They were turned the other way, but were laughing at something that I supposed was me.
"Hello Wendy," I said, making my way over to the other sixteen year old's. She gave me an awkward hug, her arms not completely fitting around myself and my paper grocery bags.
"How have you been Dorcas! We haven't seen you since, well, last summer I think. Isn't that right girls?" she asked, placing a hand on each of their shoulders and forcing them to turn and face me. Well, at least one of them was making an effort.
"I've been well," I said, shifting my weight to my other hip along with my rather heavy bags.
"How is Scotland?" she asked, just another question to fill the conversation.
"Great! It's really beautiful there." No one said anything for a couple of seconds, but we stood there awkwardly, letting our minds wander back to our days in school together.
"I should go now," I said hastily, pointing back in the direction of my house. "Harley will be waiting." I turned to walk, the girls neither stopping me nor going back to their incessant giggling.
"It's nice to see you Dorcas," Wendy said, before I had actually gone too far. "I mean, we don't really get a lot of new faces here, you know?" I smiled at her, finally remembering why I was friends with Lily. She just reminded me so much of Wendy. She tucked her own hair behind her ear too, and smiled again, smaller this time.
"I should really go," I said. "It's getting late." I felt bad about this, and it almost broke my heart to do to Wendy what she had done to me. But I really shouldn't get attached to anymore people at this point.
"Oh, totally," she said, a little too enthusiastically. "We're not going anywhere, if you want to go out sometime on your break," she offered hopefully.
"I'm actually going to be leaving in a couple days, so I'll get back to you with that," I said, being completely truthful. "Still at 35 Pilgrim?" I asked, assuring her that my words had true intentions of following through.
"Nothing's changed around here too much," she said, laughing at the joke we used to make all the time about our small town.
"Yeah, nothing's changed," I said, my mind now removed from the conversation at hand. I stood there with my bags, creating more awkward silence. The wind filled up our empty space, and allowed for a couple seconds of complete silence. No change in the sound waves, no break in the perfect silence. How I wished that nothing had changed.