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Chapter 1 : Hogwarts
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The train ride back to Hogwarts is always something I look forward to. It gets me excited, knowing that in a matter of weeks, I'd be back at Hogwarts. Most girls my age, are actually excited about the summer holidays – being away from teachers and not having to listen to Professor Slughorn go on and on about the important of Potions and the benefits of knowing how to make one without reading the instructions.
I, on the other hand, literally count the days down until we would be back. I mean, don't get me wrong, It's not that I don't enjoy being back at home and getting to see my family, I do. It's just that when your holiday consists of you sleeping with one eye open because you worry about something happening to your brother and grandparents while you're asleep, you kind of just start to hate it.
With being away for like three months at a time, everything stops being a bother. All of a sudden, you no longer plan the holidays like you would have when you were younger, you no longer spend a week of summer at the beach, building sand castles, swimming in the salt scented sea, playing happy families. After five years, you just kind of stop caring.
Yeah, puberty's a bitch.
I pulled out a small compact mirror from a small purse I had bought over the holidays, that was tucked neatly under the pile of books I had beside me, and stared at my reflection. I groaned and flattened down the strand of hair that stood up in the middle of my hair. I'm now beginning to think that the drastic change of hairstyle was something I did not think through.
"If you don't like it, then why'd you get it?"
I lifted my head and turned my attention to where the voice came from and shrugged. "I don't know. Heat of the moment?"
Dylan, my fourteen year old brother, chuckled. "If it helps, I like your new hairstyle."
I sighed frustratingly. "You're meant to like it. You're my brother." I pointed out, literally slapping my head now in order to keep it in place.
"Not just that," Dylan explained, and I relaxed a bit more as my hair decided to cut me some slack and stayed flat. "It means you can now enter the boy's dorm without a disguise."
"Oh haha." I laughed bitterly. "That's funny. You should become a comedian."
"I have thought about that as a possible career move." he said, but I wasn't sure if he was joking or not.
"Glad to see that you can find something funny out of my misery." I replied coldly.
"Oh cheer up Lizzie." Dylan said, standing up to reveal his very tall lanky form as he moved to sit beside me. "You always say to look at the positive things in every bad situation. And the bad situation here is that you now look like a boy, but the positive thing is that you can now apply to become a male model."
I slapped him lightly on the arm and pushed him away. "Thanks for that."
"Anytime sis." he winked, before moving back to his seat in front of me.
I stared as he took off his jacket and placed it on the end of the seat, using it as a pillow, before putting his feet up and lying down. Dylan looked at me, mumbled something incoherent and I shook my head to show that I couldn't understand him. It didn't matter though, because the boy was snoring – whether real or fake, I couldn't tell – within minutes.
Scanning the compartment, I refused to believe our luck this time. Usually, the Hogwarts Express was full by the time we got on the train. It'd be a race against time as we tried to find a compartment before the train started to move. In the end, we'd have to sit with a group of Hufflepuff girls in my year. They'd giggle and whisper snide comments to each other about us, as if we couldn't hear them.
This morning when granddad's car refused to start, we had to call a taxi, which took twenty minutes to arrive. Afraid of being late, we ran down through the wall of platform nine and three quarters, with me throwing more than enough money to over tip the taxi driver and Dylan pushing the trolley and running as fast as he could, as he pushed through the crowd of families. Somehow we got in just in time. We started to search for an empty compartment, but like always, every one of them was full.
In the end, Dylan suggested that we go to the end of the train and search for a compartment there. I didn't think it was a good idea, because I knew the kind of people who were there and exactly why it was called the 'forbidden section'. But I followed nonetheless. And luckily, the first compartment we opened to was empty.
I’d released a sigh of relief and sank down on a seat. Thank Merlin.
However, I was still very cautious and couldn't help it as my eyes kept darting to the door every second, afraid that Veronica Mitchell, the queen bee, would storm in any second and demand her compartment back.
When this did not happen, I pulled out a book and began reading. For the next half an hour, I was able to relax as Dylan slept. I decided not to leave the compartment and go and explore this end of the train, just in case something happened to him while I was gone. As his big sister, it was my job to look after him. Something I had been doing ever since he was three.
I stopped reading when I heard a click and as if on impulse, quickly pushed the owl cage and belongings away, with my feet, to the other side. If it was Veronica Mitchell, I was dead.
I noticed the back of the head first before I noticed the other. It was two people, snogging furiously.
"Ohh…" The girl, who sounded a lot like Rachel Hollis, moaned.
"Shh Rachel." The male said, his mouth fully engrossed in hers.
I couldn't believe my eyes. Rachel Hollis, my roommate and my first potential murder victim, was snogging her best friend's boyfriend. I watched as Rachel jumped up on to the boy and wrapped her legs around his waist. They continued on like this for a few seconds before the boy began to trail a hand down her back, and pushed her top up to reveal her pink lacy bra.
"Oh James..." Rachel murmured now.
James decided that he was getting tired of holding her, and started to move to the side of the seats where Dylan was asleep. If they move any more, then they'll notice Dylan and then me. We'll get in trouble for trespassing, and Rachel will murder me. Dylan will hate me for not have woken him up sooner, and I'll hate myself for allowing myself to listen to him and take up his suggestion.
Now, there were two options: I could either pretend as though I was asleep and didn't hear or see anything, or I could wake Dylan and sneak out before they even notice we were here in the first place.
James leaned and pushed himself down, with Rachel's back pressed firmly on the seat. If they lean any further, Dylan’s feet will be in a very good position to rip off Rachel's bra.
Option two it is.
"Mmm... James... stop... there's something poking at my back." Rachel murmured as she finally pulled away from the boy.
I guess now, option one would be more believable.
I had to cover my eyes. This was not something I wanted to see. Shutting my eyes, I positioned myself in the sleeping position. I cringed as Rachel gave James one quick snog before turning around slowly to see what was poking her in the back. I couldn't help but smirk as the horror crept on her face once she noticed that what was poking her in the back, was indeed none other than my brother, Dylan. Dylan, who was sound asleep.
This bitch is going to wake him up now, isn't she?
Rachel screeched in horror.
"SHH!" I hissed noisily.
"Clark?" she asked, her perfect eyebrows knitted up in confusion.
Once I realised what I had just done, I giggled nervously. I've made myself seen.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" she barked, cocking her hips to one side.
Times like these, I wish I hadn't cut my hair and could still blend in with the walls.
"I'm waiting for the train to reach Hogwarts..." I said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to see me and my sleeping brother in the forbidden area of the train.
"People like you aren't allowed here." she pointed out, her voice snarky and cold.
Was this girl honestly for real?
"Really? That's what you're worried about?" I bit back. "I just saw you snogging your best friend's supposedly boyfriend as if it was all you could do, and you're here being your usual bitchy self."
"Oh right," Rachel sneered. "I forgot that you had to know everything about my life."
For the first time that night, I allowed myself to look at the boy behind her, properly. James Sirius Potter stood in all his tall and handsomeness with a guilty expression across his face. He looked annoyed that he had been caught. His dark brownish hair was messy and tousled slightly; probably from Rachel running her hands through his hair as she snogged the life out of him.
His frame was muscular but still lean, his eyes a darker shade of brown, like coffee. He was doing everything to avoid looking at me. It's not like he knew who I was anyway.
"What makes you think that I won't tell Ronnie?" I asked, mentally cringing at the horrible nickname everyone'd given Veronica. Rachel squirmed and looked uncomfortable. I was suddenly pleased with myself. I’d never had the upper-hand before, so I was pretty darn proud of myself.
Rachel grumbled. "You told me this room was empty, you douche!" she began to yell at James.
I looked at Dylan. He was still asleep. How somebody can sleep through the yelling of Rachel Hollis was beyond me.
"That what Fred told me!" Potter argued (or tried to).
"You idiot!" she accused loudly. "Who the hell listens to that idiot you call your cousin anyway?"
"I do!" he responded back with, flapping his arms out and about.
If I was old enough to do magic outside of Hogwarts, then I would definitely, without a doubt, conjure up a bucket of popcorn now. This is the kind of entertaining moment that you hear about but you never get to see for yourself.
"Just deal with that." Rachel said, gazing sharply as me as she spat the last word, before opening the door and storming out.
Personally, I was relieved.
James Potter exhaled sharply and ran his hands through his hair, swearing under his breath. I slowly backed away, trying not to make any sound and secretly hoping that he wouldn’t notice me. He’s been not noticing me for six years, I’m sure he can continue that record for another year until he leaves.
“Can you not mention this to Ronnie, please?” he said quietly after what seemed like hours. He wasn’t looking at me, but I don’t blame him. If some random girl I’d never seen before caught me cheating on my girlfriend with her best friend, I certainly wouldn’t want the random girl telling my girlfriend, even if I didn’t know who she was.
“What?” I croaked, and was surprised at how hoarse my voice sounded. I cleared my throat, and still my chest felt a little scratchy. I cleared my throat again, and again, and then coughed, which led into a coughing fit. Why do I suddenly have to feel like throwing up when a hot guy is talking to me?
“Are you okay?” Potter asked, looking concerned and worried as his gaze met my eyes.
“Don’t worry; I’ll try not to puke on you.” I voiced my thoughts before I could stop myself.
“What?” he said, but even I could see the smile tugging at the corner of his lips. “Do you need a drink or something?” he suggested, striding towards the compartment door.
“No, no.” I stopped him. “I just–” Cough. “Sometimes I start to cough all randomly for no reason."
“Is that a medical condition?” he asked, his eyes gleaming with amusement.
“I don’t believe so.” I shook my head. Cough.
“Maybe I should get you a bottle of water. Just in case.” He quickly added so I wouldn’t be offended.
“Please, don’t.” I repeated. “My pride is already gone as it is. It wouldn’t exactly help if James Sirius Potter had to get me a bottle of water just because he was afraid I would start coughing up blood any minute.”
I quickly covered my mouth. Once again, I have voiced my thoughts. There simply is not enough heads for me to hang in shame.
“No need to address me with my full name, you know.” he smirked. “I’m not royalty.”
“You might as well be. With the way everyone talks about you, you’d think you were the bloody king of England.” I said, not even trying to sound casual or hide my irritation.
“Haha, you’re funny, Campbell.” James chuckled. Not sure if he was joking or not, I smiled, choosing not to correct him on the last part.
“So I’ve been told.” I joked.
Potter didn’t seem to get the irony of what I said, and instead sent me a grin.
Here’s a fun fact – James Sirius Potter has fabulous straight pearly whites. And I just managed to have a conversation with him. I hope he noticed that towards the end, I stopped coughing. And somehow, Dylan slept through it all.
I collapsed with a thump on the large king size bed and landed with a loud thud. Releasing an exasperated sigh of relief, I foolishly rolled around, giggling madly and hugging the duvet. There's nothing more about Hogwarts that I love more than the Hogwarts king size poster beds. It's the perfect combination of relaxation and protectiveness. Whoever manufactured the beautiful thing, you are a God and I thank you.
I contemplated whether getting up or lying down some more, and if I was given a chance, the latter would have obviously won. But since it was the first day of a new year, I had to go and find my new roommates. Hopefully, if life continues going as great as it has so far, then I won't be roomed with Veronica Mitchell and Rachel Hollis again. But considering my luck, I'll probably be roomed with them anyway.
After arguing with myself for a while about the choices I had, I pulled myself out of my bed and went over to unpack my trunk. As usual, I only bought a few clothes from home and five pairs of shoes. It didn't take long to unpack them and put my hairspray and shampoo bottles in the bathroom. By then, it was half past nine and my roommates still hadn't presented themselves.
Knowing Veronica Mitchell and Rachel Hollis, they're probably still reacquainting themselves with their friends. I'm not sure how long it takes to catch up with girls you've owled every day during the summer holidays, but it must take longer than I thought. It’s not like I’d know anyways, considering the only friend I ever had, left me to move to another country when I was eleven. But that’s a story for another day.
I ran a hand through my hair, which made little strands stand up at the back. Slapping the back of my head with my palm, I searched for a mirror from the mess on my bed. I’m starting to regret this drastic haircut more and more every minute. And to be fair, it’s not like I wanted this haircut in the first place. You have to hear me out first. It was towards the end of summer and I was going to get my haircut. The hairdresser huffed when she saw me and with a roll of her eyes, she said, “The usual trim?”
Now you’re probably wondering why this bothers me so much. But the spitefulness in her voice was so rude and bitchy that I wanted to slap the bubblegum right out of her big mouth. So instead of nodding my head, giving her access to my hair and watch her blow a bubble as she cut vigorously near my neck, I grew a backbone.
Seriously, the queen of divas would’ve been proud. Cocking my hips sardonically, I’d said, “No actually, just cut it all off. I’ll go for the pixie cut.” She had raised a surprised brow and smirked at me. I was literally shitting myself as big chunks of my long blonde locks fell to the floor beside me. By the time I regained my senses, it was too late. So when the hairdresser had asked if I liked it, I put on a weak smile and said, “Oh wow. I look so... er–so different.”
Dylan had laughed when he first saw me, granddad had complimented it and Nan had said I reminded her of a young Audrey Hepburn, though I’m not so sure she even knew who I was. You see, Nan has dementia. So she has difficulties remembering who we are sometimes. It’s hard for granddad, but he stays strong for us. Being the breadwinner, he has a lot on his plate, but anyone can see that it’s slowly killing him.
But once, my family was normal. Back when granddad didn’t have to rely on luck if he was able to pay the bills, when Nan knew who we were, when my parents were still here…
My parents were the nicest people that I knew. They were absolutely brilliant. My mother was a witch. She attended Hogwarts and when she graduated, she returned home to join her parents. There, she met my dad who was working at the boatyard. They instantly fell in love, but it took dad a while to convince mum to date her. Eventually they got married a few months later. They lived with the mum’s parents (since dad was an orphan) whilst they found a place of themselves to settle down.
When mum got pregnant with me, they moved to a flat in the city. Mum got a job at a nursery nearby after I was born, and then she got pregnant with Dylan and had to quit so she could be with the both of us at home. Dad became the sole provider for the family which meant he was hardly ever home. So he’d find times in the month to take mum out to dinner and our grandparents would babysit us.
Dad got off work early one day and decided to surprise us with a trip to the fair. It was a popular fair and was only in town for one night, so everyone wanted to be there. The roads were frozen and busy. It’s quite unusual to hear about snow in March, especially in a country where the weather has mood swings all the time. But the day before, it had snowed.
The headlights were speeding towards us and before there was any time to react, I felt the colossal impact. Tire screeches and a blaring horn screamed in my ears. I felt my body slammed against the seatbelt and the shattering glass slice my face and arms… before everything went dark.
We survived with only a few scratches, but eight hours in accidents and emergency couldn’t save my parents. They had the most impact.
The funeral was held on the 7th of March 2007, two days after the accident. I was five at the time and Dylan was four.
That might explain why I’m extremely protective over Dylan. I’ve basically had to be everything for him. He was young, but he understood that mummy and daddy weren’t coming back. At nights, he’d cry and scream for mummy and I’d be there to comfort him and soothe him until he falls asleep. And after Nan got ill, I had to look after the both of them until granddad got home. Sometimes I’d even miss school.
When I first got my Hogwarts letter, I hid it from granddad. I knew that if he found out, he’d make sure I went. The possibility of me being a squib was likely (since my father was a muggle) and when I never presented a letter from Hogwarts, he never really questioned me about it. But it didn’t stop there. I kept getting letters every day, it got to the stage when I’d run downstairs before the crack of dawn just to make sure I got the letter before anyone else.
Like a week before the holidays ended, Nan found the letters in my bedroom when she had gone off exploring the house again and gave it to granddad. Despite my many complaints, he took me to Diagon Alley and we bought the school necessities.
I didn’t want to leave them because I was worried. I was scared that while I was away, something would happen. But granddad assured me that nothing would happen and that they’d still be there when I return for the holidays.
The first year was when I met Edward Darby. He was in second year and his mum had been a friend of mines. We’d gotten on well; he’d looked after me and helped me get over all my fears of everyone back home. He’d been my first kiss and my first ever best friend. But like all childhood crushes, he left. At the beginning of the second year, Edward’s mum had gotten re-married to some American dude. So they moved away.
I didn’t worry then. By that time, Dylan had joined me at school, and I didn’t care about making friends with anyone else. Making enemies with Veronica Mitchell and Rachel Hollis was my main priority. I’m proud to say that that went well.
There’s this whole king-of-the-jungle thing going on at school, at this school anyway. The lions are in charge – they’re at the top of the heap. They just have to roar and everyone jumps to attention. That’s what Veronica and James are. Then you get the elephants and antelope and herds of wildebeest and stuff, who are all a bit scared of the lions. In this jungle, I am the zebra, the cool, interesting one. To them, the likes of me are ants, frogs and minnows. And we don’t mix. Mess with the lions and they’ll eat you up.
In technical terms?
I’m the wallflower.
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