Chapter 8 : All in Their Heads
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"Well," the headmistress said, after a very pregnant silence. Her eyes were glassy looking and the tips of her nostrils were pink. If I hadn't known better I would've said she was trying not to cry. She seemed to gather herself together as she crossed the room. "I suppose there is only one more matter to settle while you three are here."
"I assume, you've heard of the sorting ceremony?"
We all nodded vigorously. When I hadn't been allowed to go to Hogwarts myself, I'd become obsessed with it for a time. I'd demanded my brother tell me as much about his school as possible and then bugged Nat and Bee with endless rants on everything I'd learned from books and people who went or had gone there.
"Well, I was thinking we could sort you now. Unless you'd like to be sorted with the first years at the feast-"
"No, no!" I said, much too quickly. The mortification I felt at just the idea of towering over all those first years in the middle of the Great Hall was enough to set my cheeks aflame. "Now is good."
Minerva McGonagall smiled knowingly before saying, "Very well." She took down a hat from one of the shelves and looked at Brigitte. "You first Ms. Dubose."
My stomach churned uneasily. What if Brigitte, Naphtalie and I weren't in the same house? What if we got separated? What would-"
"Gryffindor," the hat told the headmistress interrupting my mental panic attack.
McGonagall nodded, as if she'd expected just that. Then, without a word she moved on to Naphtalie.
The hat sat on her head for half of a minute- while my stomach did flips- then repeated, "Gryffindor."
McGonagall's face was again unsurprised by this result. But she didn't move directly to put the sorting hat on my head. Instead, she said, "Ms. Potter."
I jolted at the name. Not used to being called by my actual surname.
"Um... Yes?" I asked reluctatly.
"I assume that, since your purpose in coming to Hogwarts is to meet your brother, you'd like to be placed in Gryffindor as well?"
I nodded hesitantly.
"Let's just see, though, if that is really where you belong," she suggested. And, without waiting for a reply, she placed the hat on my head.
"Hmmm," I jumped at the unfamiliar voice before realizing that it was the hat shifting through my head. "I was unaware that another Potter existed... Yes, quite frustrating for you I'm sure," he chuckled at my thoughts- which I could only assume he could hear. "Well, your mother's wit, your father's curiousity. A talent for mischief, great intuition..." I wondered if he was going senile. He could not possibly be describing me because, apart from the mischief, I had none of those things. "But certainly you have.... well, I can only see one place you'd accept-" Then he said to the headmistress, "Gryffindor."
I sighed in relief. Still positive that the hat was losing his touch but greatful he respected my wishes.
McGonagall smiled at my expression. "Very well. That settles things then doesn't it? I will see you girls at the start of term."
I was fried. Completely and utterly exhausted when I collapsed in bed that night. My head ached from all of the knowledge those memories had given. I was still reeling from several revelations.
Never in my life had I thought I'd stop completely hating Severus Snape. Never had I yearned for my real mother more. And never had my heart ached so much- and it had plenty of experience in the aching department. My emotions were frayed, my body was numb and my stomach had permenantly relocated to my throat.
All I wanted was sleep, but of course it didn't come easily.
The second I snuggled under the covers in my childhood bedroom I was wide awake. I tossed for hours, letting silent tears slope down my cheeks. They weren't sad nor were they happy tears. I think they were just tears I needed to cry.
Nat, Bee and I hadn't said much on the way home from the castle. We were all lost in the ocean of reflection, me most of all. When we'd reached home, they didn't bug me. I'd gone straight to bed with very little to say. They knew I needed time alone. Time to think. Time to be Elena Potter without Elena Porter getting in the way.
I gave up on sleeping around one in the morning and started fantasizing instead. I dreamed of my life, how it should've been.
I would've grown up with my big brother Harry to protect and exasperate me; the lively, clever, loving mother I should have had to comfort, coddle and advise me; and an equally clever, mischief-making father to hoist me onto his shoulders so I could see things better, teach me all he knew about Hogwarts, Quidditch, Trouble-making and the infamous Invisibility Cloak I'd begged Remus to confiscate from Harry so I could give it a go and walk me down the isle when and if I ever got married.
The little half-demolished cottage in Godric's Hallow would've been my home, cozy and warm. I would've played with the neighboring children- magic and Muggle alike- and run errands for Lily to the little shops in the village. Most likely, I would have spent time following Harry around (as Nat and I'd done with Jake) as he played with whatever mates he should have had.
When Harry was eleven, we'd have seen him off at the train and- in true little sibling tradition- I would have cried to my mother and father about not getting to go with him (like Naphtalie and I had with Jake). I would have waited anxiously fo his letters and cursed him when they came, reminding me I wasn't allowed yet. And when he brought his best mate home for the summer holiday, maybe it would be his mate I'd have fallen for rather than Jake's.
Finally, it would be my turn. I'd go with my parents and Harry to King's Cross, where he'd most likely ditch me to go find his mates. I'd make my own as the scarlet train Jake had always left on raced through the countryside. And then I'd have been sorted into Gryffindor, making my parents, and maybe even Harry himself, proud.
It would have been a calm, happy life in anonimity with a non-famous brother and living, breathing parents to embarass me whenever possible. I wanted that life now more than ever. Every part of me yearned for it, cried for it, ached for it. I'd never been so dissatisfied with my upbringing. I'd never had a problem with being a Porter. I'd felt lucky actually.
But I didn't feel so lucky tonight, I felt cursed.
I'm not sure when fantasies turned into actual dreaming or when my REM cycle kicked in but eventually, unconciousness came and I was more than grateful.
The next few days were filled with long, pregnant silences; heavy sighs and more than one lie-in. When we weren't silent, we were shopping or eating or doing Muggle things that we'd miss once we left for school.
My mother insisted we stay at home for the remainder of the summer rather than the Leaky Cauldron like Nat had originally planned and she coddled me so much that at one point I actually had to sit her down and tell her that she was, under no circumstances, going to lose me. I would always be her adopted daughter if she wanted me to be.
Finally- after a fortnight of being smothered by my worried mother, spoiled by my equally worried father, teased by my brother and his oblivious mate and treated like glass by my sister and best friend- the day I'd been waiting for since I was seven arrived.
As I'd gotten older and started school in France, I had seriously doubted this day would ever come. I figured my years as a student would pass and I'd never attend the school I was meant to as an actual student. Yet, here I was.
And I was absolutely terrified.
Because, eventually, Nat and everyone else who knew would expect me to tell Harry Potter the truth that had been hidden from him for both of our safety. The truth that I'd passionately battled for so many year to be unveiled. The truth I now longed to keep hidden.
What if he didn't like me? What if I didn't like him? What if he prefered the curly haired brunette? What if I prefered Jake and Naphtalie? What if he didn't believe me? What if, even with the memories, he denied me? What if some tabloid got a hold of the story before I could build up the courage to tell him myself? Would I even be able to get near him? Or would his friends and surrogate family be so protective of the Chosen One that I wouldn't even be able to steal a moment long enough to blurt out the truth?
My mother clung to me as the train whistled shrilly.
I suppose this wasn't entirely uncommon. I looked around to see many mothers clinging to their children. Cats slinked between their legs, owls screeched impatiently flapping their wings in the confinement of their cages, younger siblings tugged at their parents' sleeves, begging to be allowed to go with their brother or sister to the school they'd heard about for years, or at least all summer. I imagined, somewhere the redheaded woman was clinging to her own children this way, perhaps even Harry as well. But, I knew, none of the mothers were quite as terrified of losing their children as mine was of losing me.
"I'll be fine, mum," I told her reassuringly. "We'll be fine. Don't worry about us. I'll write you every day if you like."
She pulled back and gave me a watery smile. "Maybe just once a week. I imagine you be busy with... school work and everything."
"Don't worry, mum," Nat said, a tad too chipper to be very comforting. "We'll see you at Christmas."
I nodded in agreement to show her I would be there, too.
She needed to know I'd be apart of her family as long as she liked. Forever, hopefully. Just because Nat, Bee and I were jetting off to get aquainted with and inform my real brother that he was in fact my brother didn't mean I was going to abandon the family that had warmly welcomed me into their home and raised me as their own for seventeen years.
The last whistle blew, our mother kissed each of our cheeks, dad hugged each of us and tucked a suck of gold into our hands and Naphtalie tugged me to the compartment we'd put our stuff in. The train began to move as I looked from the window to wave. To my dismay, I saw that the tears had finally spilled over onto her cheeks while dad wrapped his arm around her.
She thought she was losing me, they both did.
Ridiculous. A voice in my head said as I waved. I agreed. I wasn't going to change from gaining a brother. Hell, I wasn't even sure I was going to gain a brother. It was all in their heads. The worries, the doubts. We would be fine and I would come back the same person I'd always been. Just with a different name.
(Sorry, Sorry, Sorry! It's been a while since I updated, it's short and this is a filler but it's also nessecary! Well, she's finally off to Hogwarts and it only took me eight chapters! lol Better than I'm doing with Coming Back a Swan! lol So what did you think? Review! Please? ;] ~RED)