Years from now I'll look back and remember today as the day I met him. I'll look back and remember the exact moment my life began to include him. I will remember it forever.
I wore a green tie-dyed T-shirt and jeans. My best friend, Lavender Brown, arrived in a peasant shirt and a long black skirt down to her violet toenails, and of course she looked beautiful and sophisticated.
"Hey, junior," she greeted me with a hug, even though I'd just seen her the day before.
"See you in AP calc," I told Parvati Patil, and met Lavender halfway down the front steps. "Hey," I said back. "It's hot. It's supposed to be crisp on the first day of school." It wasn't even eight-thirty, but the early September sun was burning whitely, and the air felt muggy and still. Despite the weather I felt excited, expectant: A whole new year was starting, and we were finally upperclassmen.
"Maybe in the Yukon Territory," Lavender suggested. "You look great."
"Thanks," I said, appreciating her diplomacy. "You too."
Lavender looks like a model. She's tall, five-nine, and has a figure most girls would starve themselves for, except Lavender eats everything and thinks dieting is for lemmings. She has minky dark hair that she usually gets styled in Manhattan, so it falls in perfectly tousled waves to the base of her neck. Wherever we go, people turn their heads to look at her.
The thing about Lavender is that she knows she's gorgeous, and she enjoys it. She doesn't shrug off compliments, or complain about her looks, or pretend she doesn't know what people are talking about. But she isn't exactly conceited, either. She just accepts what she looks like and thinks it's cool.
Lavender glanced over my shoulder at Widow's Vale High. Its redbrick walls and tall Palladian windows betrated its former incarnation as our town courthouse. "They didn't paint the woodwork," she said. "Again."
"Nope. Oh my God, look at Raven Meltzer," I said. "She got a tattoo."
Raven's a senior and the wildest girl in our school. She has dyed black hair, seven body piercings (that I can see, anyway), and now a circle of flames tattooed around her belly button. She's amazing to look at, at least for me-Ordinary Girl, with my all-one-length, frizzy brown hair. I have dark eyes and a nose that can kindly be described as "delicate." Last year I grew four inches, so I'm five-six now. I have broad shoulders and no hips and am still waiting of the breast fairy to show up.
Raven headed to the side of the cafeteria building where the stoners hung out.
"Her mom must be so proud," I said cattily, but inside I admired her daring. What would it be like to care so little about what other people thought of you?
"I wonder what happens to her nose stud when she sneezes?" asked Lavender, and I giggled.
Raven nodded to Terry Boot, who already looked wasted at eight-thirty in the morning. Seamus Finnigan, who's absolutely brilliant in math, way better than me, and our school's most reliable dealer, gave Raven a soul handshake. Harry Potter, my best friend after Lavender, looked up and smiled at her.
"God, it's so wierd to see Mary K. here," said Lavender, glancing around and running her fingers through her wind-tossed hair.
"Yeah. She'll fit right in," I said. My younger sister, Mary Kathleen, was headed towards the main building, laughing with a couple of her friends. next to most of the freshmen, Mary K. looked mature and together, with grown-up curves. Stuff just comes easily to Mary K.~her hip but not too hip clothes, her naturally pretty face, her good but not perfect grades, her wide circle of friends. She's a genuinely nice person, and everyone adores her, even me. You can't help it with Mary K.
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