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Chapter 1 : 1. The special cheer-up drink
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AN: So, about a year ago in October I started an posted my first Fanfic. Now that that is done, here I am with try number two :-)
Please give this story a chance, I am so excited to finally post the first chapter and already worked out a few more, so I can't wait to get a little feedback =)
Also, this story starts out as NextGen, but as the summery suggests it will be mostly set during Hogwarts times. (Changes around chapter 3 for real, so be patient with me.)
Other than that ... leave a review ... enjoy the story ... enjoy life ... read on :-)
I was sitting in front of my desk. The feather was tightly clenched in my fist.
I sighted and threw my hands up in frustration, sending the inkbottle flying all over my living room. Moreover, the new white sofa.
I knew that was a bad idea. I whispered to myself.
“Becky, are you even listening.”
“Yes, Liz. You know my answer, I can’t go out.”
“Look, I know you do nothing else but to fret over that pile of paper. You’re coming with us this time.” her voice rang stern through the mobile phone.
“Uhm ...” I started to mop the ink with the arm of my shirt. “I can’t talk right now. I call you back.”
“Don’t you dare hang up on me I know you won’t!” I pressed the red button and the shrieking on the other end of the line stopped. To me at least. I knew she was fuming and possibly hexing half her furniture right now.
I sighed and got up to get my wand. The whole arm of my favorite red sweater was drenched in ink.
I flicked my wand at it and at the mess at my desk and sofa. I could still see some faint dots on the cushions. I never was one for household charms.
Before I could do anything, I heard a loud crack outside of my flat. Then someone hammered at my door. No need to ask who it was.
I went to open it and Liz stormed in.
“I can’t believe you hung up on me!”
“I told you it was an emergency.” I held my sleeve, now no longer dirty, while Liz eyed me impatiently, tapping her foot.
“You are coming today. Screw the damn book.”
“That book is my career.”
“Well, you can’t write about life if you don’t go out and live!”
“You know I can’t go out. Everyone will be there. Talking about their brilliant careers, Hugh with his damn Quidditch, Miranda with her damn internship at the daily prophet and Miles with his job as junior junior assistant to the minister of magic. Moreover, you, you with your perfect job as St. Mungo's attendee. How can you be so bloody happy and rested while just starting healing school?”
“Well, if you hate it so much crawl back on your knees to Mr. Potter and beg him to let you back on the training program.”
“No.” I shouted at her stubbornly. We had this conversation hundredth of times, always with the same result.
Liz glared at me, her bright green eyes sparkling with anger. “Fine, do what you will. But you ditched us the last four times as well. You can’t hide in here forever.”
“Not forever, just until I finished my book.”
“Forever then.” She hissed.
I couldn’t quite blame her for her. Since we were out of Hogwarts all of my Ravenclaw friends turned to some fancy and prosperous career.
I got myself kicked out of auror training, and now I am failing to be an author.
She was just worried. Even if she had a queer way of showing it.
“I’m coming. I'll meet you at?”
“The eagle’s nest.” she finished.
I sighed. A club beloved by Ex-Ravenclaws. I would bath in humiliation all night. “I’ll come alright. Can you go now?”
“Fine, be there.” She waved her finger at me with a strict look. She almost looked like my mother there with her round small glasses.
I heard my door fall shut and the crack as she disappeared and then it was silent again.
I sat back at my desk and resumed my stare contest with the pile of parchment.
I didn’t even notice time. But I knew it was point ten o’clock when someone knocked at my door ferociously.
This time I went to open it. Liz greeted me with a frown.
“You’re still in your sweats.” she stated unhappily.
“You’re all dolled up.” I returned.
“Very witty, get in the shower.” she ordered.
15 minutes later, I was showered and Liz examined my wardrobe. She clearly was unhappy with what she saw in there as well.
“Do you have anything but sweats and jeans?” She sighed in frustration. “Good thing I am prepared.” She took her clutch and started rummaging. From the sound of it, it clearly was enhanced by some charm.
My suspicions were confirmed as she pulled out three dresses and matching heels.
The first one was a bright red dress, knee-long, but tight fitting and very daring looking in the cleavage department. The second one was a deep emerald green shorter by far than the first one, but with a straight cut and not any less daring. The last one was a short silver dress, but the cut was almost modest compared to the others. It had a high neckline and short sleeves and was neither longer nor shorter than the green one. It also wasn’t as tight fitting as the rest.
“Uhm... I might try this one.” I pointed at the silver dress.
Liz clapped her hands in excitement and smiled.
When I finally wore the glittery rag Liz’s mood lightened up by far. She started working over my makeup and hair.
I wasn’t that happy. Yes, it was obviously the least bad choice of all, but Liz had at least a size less than I did. Thanks to the cut, I didn’t look like a pig, but I didn’t dare to stretch or bend either.
I only realized Liz was finished, when she stuck her head next to mine and snapped a picture of us. I hated pictures and snapshots of me never ended up nice.
As soon as I was done, we headed out and apparated to the club. With Liz at my side it didn’t take us long to get in. She seemed to know the bouncer well enough, a fierce looking bull of a man, but he greeted her nicely as we arrived.
The inside of the Eagle’s nest was mostly decorated with different shades of blue. There were seating corners at one side of the club with huge comfortable armchairs and sofas and other seating, separated from the bar by a huge dance floor. It reminded me a lot of the Ravenclaw common room. Pictures of successful senior members where all over the place and on the stage a band played, called the ravens. What else?
The club was already filled, but it didn’t take us long to spot the others waving at us. They sat on the armchairs and sofa surrounding a small coffee table. Two seats were still vacant, so I plopped down into one.
“Hi, guys.” I waved at them sheepishly. I hadn’t seen most of them since we graduated, when before we almost spent every day together for 7 seven years.
“Gosh, Becky, we haven’t seen you in ages. How have you been? Auror training must be extremely busy, eh?” Miranda babbled on as she saw me. She had always been the quirky type. Hugh was sitting next to her with his arm around her shoulders. That was new, but long expected.
“So you finally teamed up, hm?” Miranda giggled in response.
“Yes, a month ago. It was time, wasn’t it? What about you? Are there any boys in your life or are you too busy catching dark wizards?”
“Are you still in the Auror department? I haven’t seen you in the ministry ever.” Miles put in. He looked at me innocently curious with his big brown eyes. Guess I didn’t get round the topic for long.
“I quit.” I mumbled.
“Oh.” Miranda gasped, Hugh looked impenetrable like always and Miles disappointed, but not surprised.
“Mr. Potter himself kicked her out of the program for her smart-assery.”
“Thanks you, Liz. Actually he told me off, because apparently skill and wit isn’t everything.”
“I’m sure, it’s not so bad.” Miranda put in, obviously uneasy. “What are you doing now?”
“I am an author.”
“So you still do the writing thing?” Hugh asked.
“Obviously. I am actually halfway through my first book.” I watched Liz biting down hard on her lip as if not to start ranting again.
“Wow, that’s great! You can give me the manuscript, my boss Mr. Palmer he’s quite some reputation, he surely could help you get a contract.”
“Thanks, Miranda, but I already got one.”
“Is it still the war story?” Hugh asked.
I blushed. “Uhm, yes, still the same.”
“At least you make use of your History N.E.W.T now. Even Miles didn’t take that one.” Miranda giggled at her own jape. Miles smiled faintly, but he was used to nerd jokes. It took something to stand out as a nerd to a group of Ravenclaws.
“So, I’ve been allowed to accompany the chief healer on the mental ward all week. Usually newcomers are not allowed until their third year, but they made an exception for me.” Liz announced with a beaming smile on her face.
“They probably want to get you checked in.” Miles goofed and Miranda giggled.
“What do you mean you’re half-finished?” Hugh’s question was directed at me. So I wouldn’t get the comfort of a new topic other than my failure in life.
“That I am halfway done.”
“You where halfway done a year ago when you paused to concentrate on NEWTs.” He rarely talked much, but he listened well and like a true Ravenclaw, he never forgot anything. I never thought I could dislike this trait about him.
“I am working on it.” By the looks of them, I was not very convincing. Here they came, the pitiful looks the uncomfortable silence. Usually Miranda always had something to say, sometimes with the sensitivity of a hammer, but now she kept quiet.
“Guys, I was about to tell you about my non plus ultra internship as a healer. But if none of you listens, we might as well dance.”
I didn’t feel like dancing so I remained in my seat while the others got up. Hugh shot me one last long pitiful stare. I felt the blush creeping up my neck once more. Luckily, clubs were dark.
As soon as they were out of sight, I decided that I needed a drink. I fought my way through the overcrowded dance floor. I caught a glimpse of Miranda grinding against a very uncomfortable looking Hugh. He hated dancing just like me, but he always did it for her. Miles was chatting up some girl and Liz did her thing in the middle of the dance floor, being ogled by a few bystanders.
I sat on one of the few remaining bar stools and ordered a fire whiskey. I downed it quickly and let it wash away the taste of humiliation. I ordered another one as well and with another look at my purse, I knew that I would enjoy this one more patiently. If things went on like this, I would need an additional job until I got my book published.
I watched the others on the dance floor some more.
Despite being the possibly nerdiest of us, Miles did have his looks going for him. He was tall and lean, but with broad shoulders and a handsome face that even his big square glasses couldn’t hide. They complimented him even. He had blonde lazy locks that almost fell into his bright blue eyes. He looked like something the Greek might have chiseled out of marble, spare the glasses. Moreover, to top it off he could be as charming as nerdy if he chose to be. But it was hard to get the hots for someone, when you saw them in their lucky-study-pajamas that he always brought to our revision club in fifth year and again in seventh. Or, the person who tried to make your study plan compatible with your menstruation cycle. He was one of my best friends, but even for friends there was a limit to how far I let them penetrate my personal space bubble. Miles had tried to push those lines on more than one occasion.
“You look like you need another drink.”
I stared at my indeed empty glass and then back at the smiling bartender. He was a handsome bloke with short brown hair, deep brown eyes, and a dashing smile.
“No money.” I declared. No doubt, this smile won him a lot of hearts and tips, but I wouldn’t be swayed so easily, neither could I afford it.
“This one's on the house.” He placed a glass in front of me. I smiled politely. “Thanks.”
“John.” He finished for me.
I took a sip of the drink. It was strong and burned down my throat. A mix and fire whiskey and something else.
“By merlin, what’s in this drink?” I exclaimed.
“A dash of fire whiskey, a shot of muggle vodka, a slice of lime and a bit grenadine.” He declared with a smile. “My special cheer-up mix.”
More like dropping-all-clothes-in-the-middle-of-the-dance-floor-drink. The mix of muggle and wizarding alcohol was a though one, but it did taste nice enough after a second sip.
“So whom were you staring at so longingly?”
“Are you seriously trying this bartender cliché on me?”
“I’m actually a psychology student. Call it a hobby to help the damsel in distress.” There it was again, the dashing almost hypnotic smile.
“Psychology student, like at a muggle university?”
He shrugged. “It’s pretty interesting.” How my parents would love for me to presume some muggle career. Mrs. University professor and Mr. extraordinary renowned historian. They had never got the hang of magic. My father was muggleborn and decided for a muggle life as well, my mum was a muggle. Some parts of the muggle lifestyle did come in handy. Mobile phones for example, but I loved magic too much to ever turn my back on it.
“I’ve been staring at no one.” I argued.
“Was it the handsome blonde bloke?” He nodded towards Miles. “You were talking to him before.”
“He’s an old friend.”
“And that other guy, dancing with the cute redhead, is be also just an old friend?” He now pointed at Hugh. I tried my best not to blush.
“So it is him. And who’s the girl dancing with him?” He put special emphasize on the word dance. Truth be told, her style was very extravagant.
“Another friend of mine.”
“Uuuuuh. That’s worth another free drink.” He put a new glass in front of me and I gladly took a sip.
“Are you doing this for every customer?”
“Just for the pretty ones.” He winked at me. I seriously needed to get out of here before those drinks got to my head.
“Thanks, but I’m done.” I got up. He looked seriously disappointed, though, because I was leaving or because his charm didn’t work, I couldn’t say. I waved at him as I moved through the crowd. It didn’t matter if him or Hugh, I didn't have time for either. For now, I was devoted to Aiden.
A book character. It sounded pathetic. But that didn’t make it any less true. Heroic, romantic Aiden. Someone who was truly good at heart so he would fight for what is right. And for love. Too bad such characters only existed in books.
Before long, I was back at my flat sitting over my papers, again. The silver dress still lay were I slipped out of it. The heels in two different corners of the room and I was finally back in my comfy sweats.
I was running. Harder and faster than I had ever ran before. This was a question of life and death and I wasn’t about to let him die. The leaves under my feet crunched with every step, but disguise wouldn’t help me anymore. The evils I was about to face would know I’m there anyway. My lungs were burning, my body aching. I couldn’t let him die. I loved him. My run fell into an awkward stumble as the strength slowly left me. I had no idea how I could help him. All I knew was that I had to get there.
I didn’t care if this was real or a dream, if this was fate or not, my only chance to get back where I belonged or to the person I loved.
I was beyond confused, exhausted and still I went on as I finally heard a familiar shrill laugh. There was nothing happy or cheerful about the laughter in any traditional way.
I saw the hooded figures in the distance. I ran faster once more. I didn’t care for myself anymore. Then a gelding scream racked through the night. A bright green flash of light blinded my eyes and then... darkness.
When I opened my eyes again, I was back in my flat. I felt a deep chill in my bones.
It wasn’t cold, but I was freezing. I got up from my table with a piece of parchment stuck to my cheek. I plucked it off and noticed the blurred lines of my handwriting. Only then, I realized I was crying.
The dream had felt so real. I didn’t know where I had been or whoever he was, but I could still feel the longing to get there, wherever that was, so much it almost hurt. A sob escaped my lips that sounded queer in my silent apartment.
Suddenly I heard a knock on my door. It was well past two o’clock in the morning, but I went to open the door still. I hastily tried to wipe the tears from my face.
“Hi, Liz.” Her angry stare turned into a worried one in an instant.
“Becky. Are you alright?” By then I couldn’t hold back the sobs any longer. It had felt so real. It still did. I could almost taste the cold night air on my lips.
Liz wrapped her arms around me and led me to the sofa.” What happened?”
“I... just ... had a... bad ... dream.” I managed to choke out in between the sobs. Tears still falling uncontrollably.
“Sshhhh. It’s over now.”
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