Warning: I will say it again. This story has mentions of abuse. I strongly recommend stopping here if you don't like that sort of thing.
Chapter One: Strands of Sunlight
I first noticed you when Professor Avery called your name and you stumbled to the stool, tripping over your robes. I had to bite the inside of my cheek to stop from laughing, but none of the other students were doing the same. I could see their bodies shaking with laughter. I wasn’t sure if you noticed or not, but I hope you didn’t.
You were sorted into Slytherin. I heard gasps from the group of red-haired students whose table I sat at, and I didn’t know why. Later, I learned it was because your whole family had been in Ravenclaw, even your great-grandparents. You were expected to be the same. I didn’t see why it mattered so much, but I wasn’t a Pureblood like you. Maybe it did matter. I could see it on your face when Professor Avery pulled off the hat that it bothered you a little, but you masked your emotions when you went to sit at the table. I was already sorted into Gryffindor. Dominique Weasley was my roommate for seven years, but she didn’t really speak to me unless it was to remind me not to touch her things. She wasn’t always the nicest person, and she was a bit of a drama queen, but I paid as little attention to her as she did to me.
You kept your head down a lot in first year. You avoided eye contact whenever you did have to look at someone, and you spoke in such a quiet voice it was barely a whisper. I noticed because I sat behind you in Charms that whole first year. I noticed that your eyes were very gray, with hints of blue in them. They reminded me of storm clouds.
In second year you were just as shy, but you were good at spells and potions. Better than me. I seemed to have a habit of blowing every up potion I attempted. You never laughed like the others did, though. I always admired you for that. After Christmas, though, you started talking to the Weasley family. I knew them because everyone talked about them constantly. They were sort of famous at Hogwarts. Famous for their red-hair and family joke shop, famous because Harry Potter had nearly grown up at their family home in the summer. I didn’t know why you were friends with them all of a sudden, but you did. And you seemed to get along with Dominique especially, on levels that no one else ever could, no matter how much they tried. That bothered me.
In third year, you sat at Gryffindor table for almost every year. House Unity was encouraged a lot, but some people still stared—they were the ones that were big on the old ways, the ones that had parents and grandparents who’d gone to Hogwarts and discouraged House Unity. I stared because you were suddenly sitting only a few mere meters away from me. That year, I started being careful about how I ate, and I kept my head down, not daring to look at you in case you caught me. I still snuck looks at you sometimes, though. You were never looking at me.
In fourth year, you were around Dominique a lot. Walking next to her in the corridors, carrying her books, or sitting next to her in class. You were in the common room studying with her almost every night before curfew, and it made me jealous when she got you to smile or laugh. You have such a beautiful laugh. I told myself I was being stupid. I had never even spoken to you, and yet here I was, jealous because Dominique Weasley had the one thing that I didn’t, the one thing I wanted more than anything else. She had you.
Fifth year you started dating. I locked myself in the girl’s lavatories and cried for hours when I heard the news. I didn’t even know why I was upset. You weren’t even my friend. I doubted that you even knew my name. My friends were worried, and I had to tell them my cat had died. I didn’t even have a cat.
You were together all through fifth and sixth year. Near the end of sixth year, Dominique found me in the bathroom and cornered me.
‘How does it feel?’ She whispered, her tone cold. ‘How does it feel to know that I have everything you want, and there’s nothing you can do about it?’
‘W-what are you talking about?’ I asked, my voice shaking.
She grinned at me. ‘Lorcan,’ she said. ‘Oh, come on, Macmillan. Don’t deny it—you’ve been watching him since first year. Why do you think I ever became friends with him? I saw you watching him. You still watch him.’
‘I don’t k-know what you’re talking about,’ I said.
She laughed. ‘Oh, don’t even try. You look so pathetic right now, you know. And I’m not going to hit you, so stop backing away from me,’ she said. ‘You don’t deserve him, Macmillan. You never deserved Lorcan Scamander.’
Suddenly I wasn’t afraid of her. I hated her. Hated her with my whole being, and the rage filled me. ‘Who gave you the right to decide what I deserve?’ I demanded. ‘You don’t even know me.’
‘I’ve shared a dormitory with you for six years, Ellie,’ she said, flinging the nickname at me like it was poison. ‘I knew enough to know that you’ve been pining after him for six years. But I’m telling you this now: Get over him. He’s too good for you. And besides, he doesn’t even know your name.’
I couldn’t help but flinch. It felt as if she’d slapped me. ‘Thanks for the advice,’ I said, bitterly. ‘You won’t have to worry about me anymore. I’ll be going now.’
‘Good,’ she said. ‘Oh, and trust me, this was for your own good.’
I walked out on her then, and later, when I was finally alone, I didn’t even cry. I stopped looking at you after that. And looking back now, I realize that Dominique really did think she was helping me. She wanted to save me the pain of being rejected. I think I’m going to thank her later, if I ever see her again.
The rest of sixth year passed without further incident, and I stopped watching you. I stopped paying attention. I let you slide between my fingers, and the summer before seventh year, I got rid of my black curly hair. I dyed it mahogany, with purple streaks, and got a new wardrobe. My Mum often sighed about how she missed my old hair, but Dad liked it. My friends all got boyfriends, and soon forgot all about me. I didn’t mind. I made new friends, and when seventh year started, I had people turning heads. Soon boys were asking me out, but I loved watching their expressions when I told them who I was. They stopped asking. Even Dominique was shocked when she realized who I was, but she smiled at me, and I had the feeling she was proud of me. Soon I got people calling me Nora, instead of Eleanor, which I’d always hated.
Seventh year was my last year, and I definitely went out with a bang. I even noticed you watching me sometimes, and I would always smile. It was a smile I’d learned from Dominique over the years, a smile that said you didn’t have a chance.
At the end of the year, she dumped you in front of the whole school. Then she showed her bruises, the ones on her neck and arms. I was so shocked when she told everyone what you’d done to her, and at that moment, I was glad you didn’t get to hurt me, too.
It’s been three years since we graduated. And now Dominique is getting married. And I’m a guest at her wedding, and she smiles at me as she’s walking down the aisle. She looks better than she ever has, and her dress is big and sparkly. She is the blushing bride, and Jacob is crying when she finally reaches him. I can’t help but cry a little, too, when they say their vows and exchange rings. And when the minister says ‘You may kiss the bride’, Jacob doesn’t hesitate for a second. Then he lifts her in his arms and carries her down the aisle, and everyone follows, laughing.
It’s a beautiful wedding. Dominique is glowing. She comes over to me during the dancing, which I am not taking part in, and her eyes are shining with life and pure happiness.
‘Thank you,’ I tell her. ‘Thank you.’
She knows what I am thanking her for. She smiles, and hugs me. ‘The image may be perfect, but the inside is not always as it seems,’ she says. ‘I am so glad you listened to me.’
‘Me, too,’ I say. ‘You look beautiful, by the way. I’m so happy for you.’
She grins. ‘Hopefully next time, it will be your turn,’ she says, winking. ‘Keep in touch, OK? I know you live in the U.S now, but try and write letters every once in a while.’
I promise that I will, and she goes to dance with her husband. And the next morning, I am on a plane to the U.S, where I live. Specifically, Florida. I always wanted to live somewhere warm, and Florida is so beautiful. I have made many friends here, and I have a job.
It happens unexpectedly. We meet because my boss is hiring a new person, and I am working in the back, stacking books. I work part-time at the bookstore on weekends. The rest of the week I’m at the magical hospital here in Florida. The magical community here is so unlike the one in England, but I love it. The owner of the bookstore has no idea I’m a witch, and neither does he. But when we meet, I stammer out hello. I am staring at his eyes. They are green. Bright, bright green. And his hair is gold, and where he stands, the sun makes it look like strands of sunlight.
He invites me for coffee to get to know each other that week, and then we go to the movies. For the third date, he takes me to a theme park featuring a mouse, where I have never been, and he kisses me in front of the castle. It is magical.
It has been five years now, five years since we graduated. When I told him about you, he suggested that I write a letter. And here I am, writing this to you. I don’t know if I will send it, but it helps. It helps to write down what I was feeling. I find myself looking at the ring on my finger whenever it gets difficult. Tears stain the pages, but it helps. I don’t know if I will send this letter, or if you will ever read it. I am not asking you for an apology. I do not need one. Dominique might, but please don’t ruin her happiness, if you can help it. You have ruined it enough already.
I did not write this so I could move on. I already did that along time ago. I just wanted you to know how I felt. I wanted you to know that there used to be a girl who watched you every day, and you never even stopped to ask her name. She was invisible to you, and now I am glad for it.
I pity you, but I do not feel sorry for you. I cannot feel sorry for a man who hits a woman to make himself feel better. I hope you like Hell.
Slytherin suited you,