Chapter 1 : Make or Break?
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Here I am leaning against the cold stone exterior of Hogwarts, realising just how tiny and insignificant I am in the world, waiting for my date. I know. My date. Leah and date, have never been in a sentence before and I can’t work out how I feel about it. I mean it just feels odd to say it; it doesn’t seem right at all.
I shift my position, trying to get more comfortable as a sharp piece of stone presses the base of my spine, trying to look casual at the same time. And pretty. Reaching up somewhat awkwardly, I attempt to brush a piece of dark hair out of my eyes elegantly. Yeah, I’m kind of out of my date’s league here. I don’t think my effort to look graceful worked, judging by the outburst of giggles from a passing group of sixth years.
I scowl at them, adjusting my Hufflepuff scarf so it covers more than half my face, feeling self-conscious, a feeling I am most certainly familiar with. I don’t really know how to talk to people, being an only child seriously messed me up.
I tried to make friends when I came here, but no one really wanted to know me. It doesn’t help that I’m in Hufflepuff, or that my looks are below average, with boring black hair and pools of dirty mud for eyes. Or that in the first hour that I arrived at Hogwarts, I tripped on the Sorting Hat’s stool.
In front of everyone.
It was probably the most embarrassing thing ever, especially as nearly every freakin’ kid there laughed at me, their fists banging on the tables, and subsequently cheered when I was placed in Hufflepuff. Seriously, a Syltherin fell off their bench laughing so hard, and I even saw Snape smile. If that man smiles again, I’ll eat troll balls.
There was a rumour that Ronald Weasley’s brothers, Fred and George, had made some sort of bet that I would be sorted into Hufflepuff. I vividly remember Fred – or George, I can’t tell them apart – coming up to me the next day, with a gigantic grin plastered on his face, waving a dirty gold galleon at me. He nearly took my nose off with it. I’m lucky I didn’t have to visit St Mungo’s – again.
Okay, I guess the real reason I haven’t got friends is because of my stutter. In fact, I know it’s because of my stutter. Many, many, many people have quite nastily told me that I have a stutter, to the point where I don’t even talk anymore.
As if I didn’t know already.
If someone attempts to talk to me, I just nod or smile and basically look extremely odd as always. I’m going to have to check that my voice still works soon. Whenever someone tells me I have a stutter, I always think, I know that already you muppet. I don’t say that to them though, because, to be honest it would probably take a while.
I shudder and make a face – the same face I always make when that particular thought comes in mind. Which is very often. I can’t help having a stutter; and it’s not my Mum’s fault either. I smile sadly, remembering my early youth. Merlin, those were dark days. I was dragged around to every single Healer at St Mungo’s, while my Mum tried to find out how to fix it. In the end they couldn’t really help me, but I did get tons of Chocolate Frogs. I managed to collect every single card. I have about twenty Newt Scamanders, and fifteen Dumbledores. Looking back, I guess I also got a lot of sympathetic looks from people, and impatient stares. Healers apparently couldn’t control me; I wasn’t cooperative at that age apparently.
I shiver at the thought, rubbing my gloved hands together impatiently, trying to reduce the numbing, wondering when the hell my date was going to turn up. My, simple-gorgeous-totally-out-of-my-league date.
Moving my jacket sleeve up I glance at my watch and see that there’s still an agonizing ten minutes until we agreed to meet to walk to Hogsmeade together. A single snowflake falls from the miserable grey sky and hits my bare skin. I watch as it melts in to water and trickle down my arm. Crap, I should have shaved!
I’m standing like a statue, with icicles practically forming from my eyebrows, pondering why he isn’t here yet. I come to the conclusion that Seamus should totally know that it’s good manners to come early, just in case his date is a completely, pathetic, always-early-because-I’m-so-nervous type of girl.
It should be quite a romantic stroll down to Hogsmeade, hand in hand with Seamus, admiring the white sheets of snow that cover the fields. With Seamus doing most of the talking, of course. I prefer that other people to do most of the talking; I don’t really speak unless I have to. Most people don’t bother attempting to talk to me anymore. I’m sort of invisible to most people now.
You exist to Seamus though, said a surprisingly daring voice in my head. I smile genuinely, glad that my scarf is covering my mouth.
I like thinking, having conversations and debates with myself in my head. I’m pretty sure that this is considered weird in normal society, but I also know that talking in my head is a whole lot better because I don’t stutter in there.
I let out a loud giggle at this thought and immediately regret it when I get a, why-the-hell-are-you-laughing-at-yourself look from a couple of twitchy first years. Just great. I’m in fifth year for crying out loud, why I am allowing myself to be pushed over by first years? I subconsciously reach for my wand, from my jacket, and point it in the direction of the first years. I suddenly realise what I’m doing and stuff it back in my pocket nervously.
The last time I hexed a couple of first years – which was quite recently – I got detention for a month. With Umbridge. The back of my hand will never be the same again. I take my glove off, and trace the letters forever etched there. ‘I must not hex anyone.’
They were asking for it though. They told me that I was a pathetic looser who should kill herself because she can’t talk properly. Okay, so maybe they didn’t say that, but what they did say was rather rude.
They didn’t make it back to their friends though.
I try and fail to suppress a burst of laughter at this thought, which rose up my throat and burst out loud, shattering the silence. While listening to my absurdly unattractive and echoing cackle, I try and regain full control of myself and continue looking around for Seamus. And surprise surprise, he’s nowhere to be seen.
Maybe he asked me out as a dare, I think gasping, stuffing my fist into my open mouth. Merlin, if Seamus could see me now. I blush.
I was glad Seamus didn’t see me with my wand out about to hex the first years either, otherwise he would of probably ran away.
I seem to have that effect on some people; I have a bit of a reputation. I don’t know why. I can’t work it out to be quite honest. I mean, there was that one time in my second year where I accidently made my cauldron explode, the boiling potion splattering onto every single person in the dungeon, causing random boils to form on their skin like burnt mushrooms. If I wasn’t going to be in so much trouble, I would have died laughing.
When I think about it though, I really don’t know why he asked me out in the first place. It’s been troubling me non-stop for the last two weeks. I haven’t got a proper night’s sleep. All that my mind does is race around in circles, like a desperate dog chasing its own tail, each thought getting wilder and wilder, more unlikely than the last. I stamp my foot in frustration and look at my watch again. I wipe snowflakes of the glass to see the time; the snow falling heavier and heavier.
My feet are going numb, and my fingers are about to fall off. Bad decision to wear the floral print dress then, I think to myself. That voice pipes up again at the back of my head saying, Who the hell wears a floral summer dress in the middle of winter? I’m really starting to hate that voice, but only because it’s always right. Most of the time anyway...
Six minutes and fifty two seconds until my first date. I know, I know, I’m fifteen and have never been on a date. How pathetic is that? Curse Seamus and his beautiful sandy hair, his wonderful Irish accent that makes me go weak at the knees, and his deep aquatic blue eyes which I just drown in. If I wasn’t speechless already, he would make me speechless. When he looks at me, I just forget everything. To be honest I can’t really hear what he is saying. It’s as if time slows down when he talks to me. Cute Irish boys plus my brain don’t really mix – I figured that out the first time he talked to me.
When he asked me out, after Charms a couple of weeks ago, all I could see were his utterly mesmerizing lips moving. They were all I could focus on, they were perfectly shaped a deep shade of red and definitely kissable. I know right, the “K” word. It took moments after to notice that his lips had stopped moving, and that he was looking down at me expectantly, that I realised I hadn’t heard what he had said. He clicked his slender fingers in my face impatiently, looking slightly concerned. Romantic I know, and asked if I had been listening. Not wanting to seem rude, I slowly nodded my head. I must of looked like an absolute psychopath though, because when I was nodding, I was also jerking my head slightly in the hope that he would repeat whatever he had been saying.
He didn’t repeat it though. All he did was put one hand on the wall, really close to my head and leaned in. I remember almost losing it at this point, he was much too close. He said in his very cute Irish accent
‘’Great, I can’t wait! How about, say, eleven?’’
I nodded slowly again. He must like weird girls, I thought, not really understanding what I was agreeing to. He wasn’t put out in the slightest though.
‘’Grand! I’m looking forward to it.’’ He smirked and I noticed that he was looking way too pleased with himself.
He took his hand away from the wall, and gave me a wink, before walking off to his friends who engulfed him with hugs, slaps on the backs and loud exclaims of words which I couldn’t quite catch. Boy, when he winked at me I completely melted, my hands shaking. I remember turning to a girl standing near me, and asking what just happened. She looked genuinely surprised and happy for me, as she told me that I had just agreed to go on a date to Hogsmeade with Seamus. I let out a little gasp and then promptly dropped the books I had been holding in my arms.
And so that’s why I’m standing here in a cold, empty courtyard, with only three minutes until Seamus graces me with his presence. Until he asked me out, I had resigned myself to a life with no friends, no boyfriend, and lots of cats. My future was so comforting before, so safe. Now it’s all in the unknown, full-of-awkward moments, potential kissing and, argghh! Don’t mention the ‘K’ word again Leah! I scold myself. I mean he wouldn’t want to kiss me, would he? I’ve tried to make an effort for him though. I was up at five, trying to get ready for this date. The dorm I share is in a disastrous state. My clothes are strewn across it, on beds, owl cages and even on the landing outside. Don’t ask. Dozens of empty potion vials litter the bathroom floor, as I made an attempt to straighten my hair, and more makeup ended up on the floor then my face. Yet, when I took a last look in the mirror and did a last twirl for myself, I was left feeling distinctly disappointed.
I’m distracted from my thoughts by a shout from across the courtyard.
‘Leah!’ the voice called, cutting through the silence like a whip.
Shit. I know that voice. My most evil enemy, my worst tormentor, my rival. I hate that bitch. Hannah freaking Abbot. At first glance people could assume that we would be great friends. Best friends even. We both love collecting Chocolate Frogs. She’s in Hufflepuff, I’m in Hufflepuff. We share a dorm and we’re in practically every class together.
But she’s an idiot and I’ve made a point to tell her that countless times.
Like, back in our second year, she thought that the Harry Potter, was the Heir of Slytherin. I have never openly laughed in someone’s face before. She of course got mortally offended by my cackle and started on me about my unfortunate stutter. That absolute hag. Then in third year, she went around telling anyone that would listen to her, that Sirius Black could turn himself in to a flowering shrub. I told her that if anyone was in any doubt as to why she had been placed in Hufflepuff, they weren’t now. She took offence to this to as well and told me to watch out when I slept. She looked particularly vicious when she said this. I laughed it off, trying to nod sarcastically, but actually, for the next couple of nights I stayed up with my wand pointing over at her bed waiting for a surprise attack. I was fortunate that no such incident occurred. Thank Merlin.
“Leah,” the voice came again, more impatiently this time. “I know you can hear me, you may have a stutter but your ears work fine!”
My hands slowly turn into fists, realising that I couldn’t ignore her anymore. I turn around, my scarf slipping from my face. I make no attempts to hide the scowl that just appeared. I try my best to smile at her though, just in case Seamus happens to see me with a hideous glower and has second thoughts, but it came across as more of a pained look. Abbot looks suspiciously happy about something. My eyes narrow, knowing that this can’t be good news.
“W..w..what do you w..w..w..want?” I ask, trying to control my stutter, my cheeks flushing. I see a malevolent grin playing on her lips. I give her what I hope is an intimidating glare, my right hand wandering somewhat casually downwards, trying to find the pocket in which my wand is.
She eyes me with an air of superiority. Glancing from my head to my shoes, which are now soaked from the snow. I try to not react. It is after all, what she wants.
“You actually got up and spent the last four and a half hours getting ready, and you look like that?” She enquires, her hand moving up and down gesturing towards my outfit and hair. “I wouldn’t have even bothered.”
My jaw clenches tightly, my hand now firmly grasping my wand. I swear, if this bitch says one more word.
“There are so many potion vials all over the bathroom floor, I nearly tripped on one,” she drawled.
Good, I think. I wish you had broken your neck, that way you wouldn’t be able to talk.
“They obviously didn’t work,” She sneers, disgusted. “And if you had asked nicely, I’m sure one of the house elves would of offered you one of their filthy garments. It would be a great improvement on that.” She points to my dress in utter revulsion. She wants to play, doesn’t she? Well she won’t now.
I whip my wand out of my pocket, and point it at various parts of her body, deciding which would hurt the most.
“I’m war..war…warning..yo..you!” I exclaim, trying to hide the emotion from my voice. She cut real deep this time, crossing all lines. I actively made an effort today and I thought I looked presentable, but obviously not. She made me feel unimportant again, on one of the most important days of my life. “Not one m..m..m..more word!”
I have let my wand rest pointing at her neck, secretly glad and surprised that my arm isn’t shaking and that my aim is true.
“Woah, I’m so scared!” she laughs, raising her hands in mock surrender. “Easy there, Leah.’
“Don’t play with me Hannah – you know I would hex you in a heartbeat. You know what I did to those first years that were making fun of me,” I warn, twisting my wrist and giving her a glance at the back of my right hand.
Her smirk falters when her eyes come to a stop at the letters. I see her struggle, wondering if she’d finally gone too far. Her mouth is slightly open, and her arms hang rather limply, her thumbs tracing nervous patterns into the palm of her hands. She opens and closes her mouth a couple of times, and for a minute I think she’s forgot how to speak. It feels awesome.
“You shouldn’t have done that to them, they were frightened,” she whispered, finally managing to speak. “One of them was only up to your waist for Merlin’s sake!”
“C..c..come on, they deserved it an…and you kn..kn..know it!” I say defensively. “It’s not like I k…k..illed them, I just stunned t…t..hem.” I shrug, genuinely confused as to why it was such a big deal.
My cheeks redden at the thought of it. I shouldn’t have lost it, but I couldn’t handle a couple of first years taking the mick out of me at dinner, while everyone was listening in. Then I jumped from the table and sent the two stunning spells, the hall going silent. And of course, I then screamed, “An…anyone want a pi..pi..ece of me?” It didn’t go down to well. I was forcefully restrained, to be honest.
Hannah looked at me with a look in her face that was scaring me. It looked like pity. I hoped it wasn’t pity, that’s the last thing I needed. After all her bravado at the start, she seems a bit scared. Am I that bad? I lower my wand somewhat, so that it isn’t pointing at her really anymore, more towards the snow at her feet. Entwining her hands together, she started twisting her fingers at weird angles, looking very nervous. “Look Leah, don’t lose it, okay? I have something to tell you.”
I don’t respond, just wait for her to continue.
“Er – I’m not really sure, how to tell you this. But, er....” She seemed to be searching for words, not taking her eyes off of my wand. “So, I guess I’ll just say it.
I wait for the words I know are coming. I start shivering, and my shoulders drop, my eyes starting to water. And she continues, “Seamus isn’t coming. He only asked you out as a dare.” Hannah’s body tensed as she took a hurried step back, nearly tripping over on the uneven cobble. She steadied herself before saying apologetically, “I’m sorry…”
And so it was like that, the final blow was delivered to me. All hope and joy, seeped out of me like blood from a fatal wound. I felt like a part of my soul was leaving with it.
Never to return.
I was only asked out for a dare. I’m standing here, all dressed up for someone who had no intention of ever turning up. I’ve been up since five in the morning, putting effort into my appearance for nothing. Because, that is after all, what I am. Nothing. Worthless.
I sink to my knees, welcoming the pain, which the cold frosty ground brings. I smash my fists against the ground in a horrible rage, causing sickening echoes around the courtyard, barely hearing Hannah trying to comfort me nervously from afar. If Hannah is trying to help me, it must be really bad. I feel like a fool. I got excited.
I actually believed that somebody might be interested in me, might care for me.
That they won’t mind my stupid stutter. And so I start to sob, my chest heaving. My chilled neck tightens, I’m struggling to breathe. I can’t see, my eyes are streaming with hot tears.
I hear someone enter the courtyard and mutter something urgently to Hannah, but I don’t care anymore. I start screaming in anger, and embarrassment, continuing to pummel the ground, with knuckles that are beginning to crack. I realise that the voice belongs to Neville, asking what the hell she did to me. They seemed to be having an argument. I don’t care though. I just want to cause myself as much pain as possible. It can’t be worse than this, can it?
Grabbing my wand, I point it at my arm muttering a spell between chest heaving sobs, which causes a deep wound to appear across my wrist. Blood pours out.
I greet the pain.
The snow underneath me starts turning red, blood seeping in to, and causing little streams to trickle away in different directions. My whole arm is soaked in my blood. I mutter the spell again, this time pointing my wand at my left leg. Making it even deeper this time, it doesn’t hurt as much as I hoped. I can hear myself gasping for breath, spluttering and still sobbing. I hear Neville groan and yell something at Hannah.
It sounds like she’s crying now too. She begs me to stop. For a moment I stop punching the ground, the feel of her warm hand on my shoulder is comforting. Makes me feel human again, and cared for. I listen: I’m not screaming anymore, and Neville’s muttering away to himself, unsure of what to do.
I take a loud gulp and try to clear my vision with my sleeve. It smears blood all over my face, obstructing my view even more. I’m trying to steady my breathing, trying to regain control of myself. I think I’m okay now, and so is Hannah, but she’s now whispering in my ear.
“Everything will be okay, it’ll be alright, don’t worry. We’re going to get help, alright?”
At that moment I’m overcome by my grief, her words strike home. It’s not going to be ok, it won’t be all right. No one will ever love me.
I see that Hannah and I are kneeling in a sea of red snow. Both my legs look like they are painted red.
I totally lose it. I don’t care anymore. Shrugging Hannah’s hand off forcefully, I jump up screaming hysterically in a fit of rage and despair. “REDUCTO!” I shout waving my wand madly, shards of wood flying everywhere as a bench explodes behind Neville.
“Hell...” is all I hear him mutter in fear as he scurried backwards towards safety.
“REDUCTO!” This time, I point my faithful wand at a statue of a gargoyle, and stone flies everywhere. I feel some striking me, cutting in to my cheek. I salute the pain, like an old friend.
“STOP IT!” I hear Hannah shout from somewhere behind me. I whip round and send a stunning spell at her head; she ducks, but falls into a patch of my blood. I twist around, blood still gushing from my arm, forgetting about her and continue sending spell after spell at anything and everything. Neville and Hannah are running hand in hand, away from me. I shoot a spell above their heads, just for the fun of it, and a large piece of rubble falls with a heavy thud on Hannah’s shoulder, and she withers in pain.
This makes me sadistically happy, as I observe them running in blind panic from me. I watch until they are no longer in my sight before going back to obliterating things.
I feel powerful, in control. I laugh manically, trying to mask the pain that’s inside of me. I don’t understand why I’ve lost it this badly, it shouldn’t be this bad.
I’m scaring myself.
Worn out, I sink to my knees once again, turning my heard to see the destruction I’ve caused in the courtyard. Rubble is all over the place, bits of gargoyle scatter the ground, and pieces of wood are everywhere. Overcome with emotion once again, I fall gracefully into the snow. I welcome the cold and it takes me in. I relax myself, close my eyes rest my body. Slowly, my breathing returns to normal, my mind clears slightly. I no longer feel that possessed rage; I just feel embarrassed and lonely. The tears overcome me once more; I taste salt, as they stream onto my cracked lips. Maybe this will be the last time I fall asleep, I think hopefully as I feel my eyelids shutting.
I don’t know if I’ve just lost my mind or my heart, but I don’t care.
To me it’s the same thing.
Thanks to everyone who reviewed my previous one shot!
I really enjoyed writing this, Leah is quite something.
I would love it if you could leave a review, it would mean a lot!
Thanks to MissesWeasley123 for the wonderful beta.
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