It almost seemed too soon that New Year’s Eve came around, and the Potter’s once a year big New year's Eve shindig. We’d dressed to the nines, as the party was always front page news, and Nikita apparated us to Mr and Mrs Potter’s mansion. It didn’t seem right that someone as down to earth as Mr Potter would own a mansion, but he did, and it was better that way; the sheer number of people that showed up every year would be far too much for a normal house. Half of the people were ministry lot, the other half the majority of Hogwarts and teens in the media. The place was just as big as my home, and as we walked up the drive I couldn’t help but feel so very small next to all these important looking people.
“Wow, so glamorous” Nikita muttered, watching ministry officials pass us by dressed in pristine looking suits, arm in arm with their partners. I followed them through the door into the large hallway, where Mrs Potter was greeting the guests. She was a very beautiful woman, was Al’s mum; fiery red hair that fell just above her shoulders, and brown eyes surrounded by freckles. He didn’t really look like her, but the way they acted was similar. She smiled when she saw us.
“Girls! Its great to see you, from what I’ve heard your party was twice as good as this one, my boys were sleeping for days! It was so peaceful! How are you?” She asked. She seemed somewhat relieved to see us, and I knew why; the ministry officials were all so stuck up and posh, where as we were a right laugh. Well I was anyway; my cousins however, weren’t always so fun. If I’d have said that out loud they both would’ve hit me.
“We’re great Mrs Potter. Did you have a nice Christmas?” Nikita asked.
“Oh yes, really nice, but now I’ve got to entertain these lot. Do you know how hard it is to keep a top end ministry bloke happy? They have sticks so far up their arses that they can’t hardly sit down” She grumbled, and I giggled. I liked Al’s mum quite a lot.
“You said it Mrs Potter. I’m guessing our age group are out back?” Emma asked. She nodded with a smile.
“Avoiding all the posh adult talk as usual, smart lot. I might join them if it means I don’t have to be all polite all the time; my kids at least know how to have fun”
“You should join us; you’re a riot Mrs Potter” I told her, and she smiled again, a small blush appearing under her freckles.
“Thanks Vida. Have fun girls, just try not to wreck the garden eh? I may have used magic and done it the easy way, but I’m proud of my flower beds” She said, and we nodded.
“We won’t Mrs Potter, see you later!” Emma called, and we left her in the hall, greeting some large guy and his snooty looking wife, plastering a sweet smile onto her face, pulling a face at me over hs shoulder when he wasn't looking. I giggled and grabbed hold of Emma so I wouldn't get lost.
“Spirits, its packed in here, I hope there’s room to breathe outside” I grumbled, elbowing myself through waves of important looking people, aiming for the back door. I met a few parents on the way, like George, who winked, and Hugo and Rose’s parents, who were bickering over elf rights. I decided to leave them to it, which was wise; Hermione Weasley was a feisty one.
“Wow, Mrs Potter outdid herself” Nikita said, as we stepped outside onto the patio. The Potters didn’t have a wild, big open space like I did as my back garden, but rather a large, fenced square with neat flowerbeds and a manicured green lawn. Even in winter, with snow coating them, the flowerbeds were a riot of colour and I could see that some of the plants were used for potions ingredients. Fairy lights were strung overhead and I could see what looked like actual fairies in the big tree in the corner of the garden. Filling the garden were people our age, and they ranged from family friends to young international Quidditch players who were far too famous to be even stood within three feet of us. I sometimes forgot how famous the Potters were; Al never really talked about it. He could be arrogant, but not ‘look at me my family is famous’ arrogant. Maybe that was why I liked him so much.
“Vida, Emma, Nikita! You made it! And survived inside!” Lily called, rushing up to us and hugging us in turn. She was dressed in dark blue, a colour which didn’t clash with her red hair. She looked much older than fourteen tonight, more like our age and it reminded me of myself; when I was fourteen, people thought I was a seventh year. I’ve balanced out now, thank Aang. It was terrible being mistaken for a responsible student by the first years.
“Hey Lils, is this where all the cool kids are?” Emma asked.
“Well if it is you better go back inside” I joked. She punched my arm. It hurt quite a lot. Were her fists made of stone?! Spirits, I can’t feel my fingers!
“Vida, stop overreacting and join us! I’ve found me a Quidditch player” Lily chimed, and Nikita raised her eyebrows.
“Really? Go on then, how big is the age gap?” She asked. Lily waved her hand as if it didn’t matter.
“Ten years. Eh, he’s still young”
“He’s twenty four” I pointed out.
“Oh wow, Vida can do maths!” Lily replied. Emma snickered. She didn’t even flinch when I punched her arm. Damn avatar.
“Aha, just because I hate it-
“You struggle with the seven times table” Nikita reminded me.
“Its an odd number! I hate odd numbers!” I wailed.
“Shut up, and meet Adrian Wood. Adrian, these are some very good friends of mine and my brother’s” Lily introduced, and a tall, strong looking boy smiled, before heading off to who-knows-where. Lily had a good eye, I’ll give her that, but you could see the age difference just by looking at them.
“Lily, you really should find someone younger. I hear Lysander fancies you” Emma suggested. Lily huffed.
“Stop being killjoys” She said, ignoring the Lysander comment. I rolled my eyes. Lily liked her boys, and I wasn’t judging that; I’ll just have to guide her to more suitable options. I looked around, hoping to just stumble across someone.
“What about him?”
“That’s my cousin!” Lily shrieked, appalled.
“Ah, so it is. Lets be real here, the majority of lads here are your cousins” I said.
“Vida, go and find Al, and leave me to pick my own dates. You’re terrible at it” Lily told me honestly, and I shrugged.
“Okay, I tried. Al, where are you?!” I yelled, and she laughed, before disappearing behind two burly lads who wouldn’t look out of place in earth bending robes.
“Right, I’m getting a drink, and finding James. You two have fun. Stay out of trouble, yeah?” Nikita said. Right, like we would ever get into trouble. We were as innocent as they come, Emma and I. Okay, so I was lying, but to be fair most of the trouble we caused were accidents, mainly caused by me. But Emma helped. Don’t think that Emma was innocent, I swear half the time she trips me or something. She’s evil I tell you!
“Bye ‘Kita!” I called, and turned to Emma.
“I see lots of famous Quidditch players, and random relatives, but no Al, or Hugo for that matter. I bet Rose is probably somewhere quieter, so we won’t find her. Why is this so difficult?” I huffed, wandering aimlessly through crowds of strangers. I stopped at the drinks table and grabbed a soft drink (no more alcohol, never again), and avoided all the flirty Quidditch players that assumed they could pull any girl here. Several stopped us, obviously not caring about the age gap, and Em was very nearly harassed, until she discreetly tapped her foot on the floor and a small amount of patio jumped upward, making the harasser stumble backward and fall in a flower bed. I laughed loudly, pulling her away. She looked very pleased with herself, and we distanced ourselves from the scene, avoiding more people. Everyone was dancing, which sounded fun, until you got some random person elbowing you in the stomach when they got too into the music. Pretty sure it was a journalist that did that, though I didn't get a good look because she squeaked out an apology and ran away. Strange.
“That looks like trouble; why don’t we check there?” Emma suggested. A crowd was forming nearby, cheering at something, and I shrugged; there was a possibility that our friends were there; We weren’t the only ones that seemed to attract trouble. I could see Hugo’s curly hair from here, and his expression was torn between worry and wanting to cheer like everyone else. When I got closer, I sw why, and gave him a look of very deep disapproval.
“Oh spirits- MOVE, COMING THROUGH!” I yelled, barging my way through the crowd once I saw what was going on. I only had to see the familiar messy black hair over everyone’s head to know that Al was having a fight with someone. I cheated and air bended a little, shoving people out of the way to get to Al, much to their annoyance. He had a bloody lip and his glasses were smashed on his nose, and I yelped when I saw that his opponent looked much better.
Two in fact, and I recalled seeing them whenever Al forced me to watch Quidditch with him even though I prefered to just play it now. Irish beaters, known for dirty tactics and foul worthy attacking. They were big, burly, and at the moment, angry.
“OI, STOP IT RIGHT NOW!” I yelled. I stepped forward, grabbing an arm that was flying at Al’s nose. It swung back and hit me instead, and I scowled. My cheek stung, a weird tingling sensation that I didn’t like. The man laughed and the crowd stopped for a moment, probably wondering what a weak looking girl was doing In the fighting area. He seemed too big to be allowed, and I was surprised that a broom could lift him high enough to play big league Quidditch. I may have told him that too. Maybe.
“I’m surprised a broom can lift you high enough to play big league Quidditch”
Yeah, I did tell him. It was a bad idea. The other beater growled angrily, clenching his jaw, whilst the one who just kind of punched me in the face laughed. The laughter that had rippled through the crowd at my insult had died as quickly as it came. I could hear Hugo and Emma hissing at me to get out. I ignored them.
“Ooh Potter, is this your girlfriend fighting your battles for you? Go on then girly, give it a shot” He challenged, and his friend chuckled. I remembered what Al said during our duel; ‘you’re not a Gryffindor. You keep running away’. I clenched my fists. I wasn’t going to run away and let Al get hurt even more. I don’t care who started this fight or what it was about; it was being stopped right now.
“Vida don’t you dare” Emma warned.
“Vida, get away from him, he’ll hurt you!” Al added. I glared at the beater, who was smirking, and I was determined to wipe it off his ugly face.
“I’M NOT WEAK!” I yelled, and swung my fist at his face. Now, thanks to my lovely parents for making me an air bender, I was very much able to put some ‘oomph!’ into my swing, like I did when I was beating in Quidditch. My fist collided with the bridge of his nose, probably splitting my knuckles, and he stumbled backward, cursing furiously. His nose began to bleed heavily, and his mate growled. Kind of like a weird looking bear. I kicked him in the groin for good measure. I was famed for bringing a man to his knees that way, just ask Fred Weasley.
“Vida you- come here!” Emma hissed, grabbing my arm. I grabbed onto Al before I was too far away to reach him, and she pulled us both away from the angry Irish men, to a quieter part of the garden.
“Are you out of your god damn mind?!” She hissed. I shrugged, rubbing my cheek and trying to ignore the stinging in my hand. Punching people hurt. Like seriously, don't do it. For your own sake, just hex them, its easier.
“I little” I admitted “I thought you knew-
“Shut up with your back chat! I practically saw the wind bend around your fist Vida, why would you air bend in front of so many people?” Emma scolded, barely contained anger on her face. I recalled what she said about magic activating her avatar state, and now realising we were in a garden full of wizards. Well, maybe that was why she was so angry, but you know what? I was angry too. This time I wasn't nice, sympathetic cousin Vida; I was Vida who had just punched a beater in the face and saved the guy I fancied from being knocked out. There was no room for sympathy here.
“Oh, says the one who caused a hurricane with all glowy eyes and brought the giant squid to crush us in front of a stadium full of wizards” I replied icily “I was stopping two arrogant Irish men from beating the crap out of Al. What’s your excuse?”
Emma swelled angrily.
“You know what- just don’t talk to me for a while, yeah? I’d rather not go into the avatar state because of your stupid stunts” She snapped, and stalked away, vanishing behind several confused people who’d wondered where we’d gone. I pulled my hand to my chest, feeling shooting pains through my fingers and to my wrists. Either I have a weak hand, or that bloke had a face made of concrete.
“Why did you do that?” Al asked. I turned. He seemed genuinely confused. His eye was bruising already, he looked angry, though I thought he should be relieved.
“I couldn’t let them beat you up, you idiot” I said weakly. To my surprise, he didn’t look relieved. In fact, his expression mirrored Emma’s.
“I was doing fine”
“Your face doesn’t agree” I pointed out. He huffed.
“You embarrassed me” He grumbled. I gaped.
“Excuse me? How does ‘stopping two big Irish blokes beat you into a pulp’ make me embarrassing?” I asked hotly. He gestured wildly to the crowd of people that had been watching him get beat up.
“You, coming in and doing that- everyone is gonna think I’m a wuss, letting a girl fight my battles” He said, and I narrowed my eyes.
“Then everyone is stupid. I didn’t see anyone else stopping them from turning you black and blue”
“Because they knew who’s fight it was!”
“Why’re you being so defensive about this?” I asked.
“Why did you have to humiliate me like that?! I mean I can deal with you being annoying and embarrassing at school, with our friends, but here? That crosses the line” He spat angrily, throwing his words at me like knives. I took a step back, hurt.
Now the pain in my hand and face had no meaning; my heart clenched, the birds in my tummy had transfigured into knives and were scraping against my insides, and my heart now felt like a led balloon, weighing me down.
Every year, at Christmas, the water bender boys used to call me annoying, and embarrassing, and many other horrible and nasty names. Then I’d see Al, and just being with him made me believe that none of it was true and I wasn’t what the bullies had said I was. Now he stood there, and just two stupid adjectives had ruined everything. Damn, I was an idiot; the quiet, cool girl always got the boy, be it as a friend or something more. I didn’t tick the box, and now I was out. It was a horrible feeling.
“Well then, if that’s what you think. Maybe I should just leave” I said quietly. I stepped around him, focusing on the lights above the crowd’s head, strung across the trees, and not my hand or the clenching feeling in my chest.
“Wait Vida, I-“
“You’ve said enough, Al. I’ll see myself out” I told him, and walked back toward the house. Everyone seemed much louder now, much bigger and I was barged into several times as I walked, agitating my hand something fierce. I reached the door without too much collateral damage and made my way back through the house, avoiding those men in power who liked to get the younger generation interested in their department.
“Vida? What’s wrong?” A voice asked. Mr Potter was in the hallway, sat on the stairs.
“Nothing, I was just leaving” I said. He looked alarmed.
“What? Why? You’ll miss the fireworks!” He said.
“Uh, I guess I’m not in the party mood” I shrugged, looking at my shoes.
“I’ve taught you for months now; you’re always in the party mood. Sit down, tell me what’s wrong” He said, and I sat on the stairs next to him.
“Do you sometimes tell yourself that you’re not what someone says you are, something bad, only to have someone you trust tell you that you are?” I asked quietly. I felt myself welling up, tears threatening to throw themselves down my cheeks. Ugh, I hated it. That wasn’t something I did often, cry; air benders never were the crying type.
“Sometimes. Why, what happened? Oh Merlin, were you fighting?” Mr Potter demanded, gently grabbing my chin to inspect the bruise on my cheek, and then tapping his wand to my hand, healing it instantly. I sighed in relief, and he healed my cheek much the same way.
“Yeah, but that’s not important. I want to go home” I said. Yes, home, where there was a warm bed and a butterfly kangaroo waiting for me. I bet Jinjin probably thought I was annoying too. A stupid little sob forced its way out of my mouth. Stupid emotions. Stupid Al. Stupid Irish beaters and water bending boys.
“Of course, you can use the fireplace. Vida, who upset you?” Mr Potter asked, getting up and leading me into an empty lounge where a grand fireplace sat waiting for me.
“Ask your son, who is really an arsehole” I said forcefully, trying not to sound like a blubbering teenage girl who felt like the last six years of her life were somewhat of a lie, even though I was. Mr Potter looked a little annoyed, but not at me. He looked at me with kind eyes.
“I’ll be sure to. Is your house connected to the floo network?” He asked. I nodded. He handed me a pot of floo powder and I took a handful, standing in the fireplace with tear filled eyes.
“Mr Potter, why were you on the stairs?” I asked curiously. He chuckled.
“There’s only so many annoying business men you can take”
“You were hiding then” I corrected. He went a little red. He looked a lot like Al.
“Can you blame me?” He asked.
“No I can’t. Bye Mr Potter”
“Bye Vida. I’ll be talking to Al” He promised, and I muttered the words that would take me home to the safety of my room, where I could cry without judging eyes, because no matter how much of a nomad my family thought I was, having the person I liked and was best friends with for six years call me embarrassing and annoying hurt more than I would like to admit. Enough for me to make a dash for my room the moment I fell out of the fireplace in my living room and lock the door, ignoring my Grandpa knocking and asking me what was wrong. Eventually he stopped. Eventually my tears stopped too.
Happy holidays everyone! Sorry I haven't been here, my computer never gets turned on at christmas because of family time, so here's a late chapter and I hope you like it, leave a review if you wish!