Thank you to onlyimagine for the outstanding chapter image!
A/N: Wow, I'm finally back. So here's the story: my computer died, then it was fixed, then it died, then we got a new one and my hard drive was eaten, then I recovered it, then I went on a vacation, then I realized that I had a huge novel to write for my friend's birthday, then I finished it, then I started school again, then I stopped getting home befre eight at night (thank you, work and speech team and key club), then I had to edit said friend's book, and then we got to here. Many, many apologies!
“. . . and I was like, ‘Mum, you cannot go out like that. What will people think of me?’ So she’s all, ‘Phoebe, don’t be shallow.’ I’m like, ‘Mum, shallow is me
. It’s my moral fiber. The moral fiber of shallow.’ She got all huffy with me.”
I look at the girl sitting across from me at the table, wondering if I’m supposed to respond or not.
“Oh,” she says suddenly, pushing some thick black ringlets from her pale face, “I’m Phoebe Lark, by the way. Who are you?”
“Heavens, Phoebe, you’ve been raving about your mother for five minutes to the poor girl and don’t even know her name? Where are your manners?” the girl sitting next to her asks, turning to roll her eyes.
“Charlotte Badeau,” I say. “I’m Charlotte Badeau.”
“Ohmigawd, do you speak, like, French?” Phoebe asks, excited.
“Ugh, I’m so jealous.”
The girl sitting next to her looks at me. “Phoebe’s mother made her take Mandarin.”
“Soon Mandarin speakers will dominate the world, Phoebe
,” Phoebe mocks in a high voice.
“I’m Amelia, just so you know,” introduces Phoebe’s friend. “I critique Phoebe about not being polite and then do it myself. So, how did you end up in England?”
“My father decided we needed a change,” I say simply. “He was just tired of France, I guess.”
“Wow, I’d be pissed,” Phoebe declares, shoveling her potatoes into her mouth.
“You’re always pissed,” comments Amelia, shaking back her long blonde hair and sighing. “Chew with your mouth closed, you nasty.”
“Oh, man-candy at ten o’clock,” Phoebe cries, gesturing with her fork behind me.
“Don’t call him that,” Amelia snaps in annoyance.
“Ravenclaw, Lottie? Really?”
I turn to see James, one eyebrow—of course—raised, standing behind me and smirking.
“Brigitte is in Slytherin,” I point out.
“I noticed. Lily’s ‘Oh, my gawd
!’ gave it away.”
, Jamesie,” Phoebe interrupts.
He glances at her. “Hey, Phoebe.” Then his eyes move over a bit to light on Amelia. “Mia? Are you talking to Charlotte?”
It’s quite a good thing I’m not eating or drinking anything right now; otherwise, I’d have just choked on it. That’s
Wow, I’m a moron.
Charlotte?” Mia asks me.
“Wow, I’m a moron,” she laughs. Maybe we do have something in common.
“I’m left out of the loop,” Phoebe interjects. “Why am I left out of the loop? Why am I always
left out of the loop? That’s not fair.”
“You’re annoying,” James tells her. “Hence the being left out of the loop, Phoebe.”
“You, James Potter, are a meanie-bo-beanie, and I think you smell like toe jam and Slughorn’s caboose all mixed into a steaming cauldron of fecal matter. I also think you should be dipped in said concoction while it’s boiling. What do you say to that?”
“Two things, Phoebe,” James answers, holding up a finger. “One: when have you smelled Slughorn’s caboose?” He holds up another finger. “Two: who the hell uses a word like caboose?”
“Yo momma,” she replies primly, chugging her pumpkin juice to add to the effect.
“Why do I talk to you?” Mia asks her.
“You’re full of hope, Mia,” James says, “that somewhere, someday
, she’ll say something passably intelligent, and you want to be there for it. You’re a very optimistic person.”
“Thank you,” she replies, smiling. They way she looks at him, it’s easy to see what keeps him from breaking it off. Her big blue eyes are performing spectacular feats, looking sweet and loving and all other sorts of mushy teenage romantic crap. Ugh.
“So now there’ll be another Ravenclaw girl in our year,” Phoebe says to no one in particular. “That’s cool.”
“How many of you are there?” I ask.
“Well, there were four in first year,” Phoebe answers, “but one got herself knocked up last year and dropped out. Rumor is the baby’s Fred Weasley’s.” She waggles her eyebrows disturbingly at me.
“That’s not true,” another voice says from behind me. I swivel in my seat again to see a stocky boy with caramel skin and tight black curls on the top of his head. “I don’t sleep with virgins; they’re no fun. Everyone knows Jessie Peterson was a virgin before the one time she got pregnant.”
“It’s still under the Phoebe-Scope for investigation, Freddie,” Phoebe tells him.
“Charlotte, this is my cousin, Fred,” James introduces, ignoring Phoebe, which I bet he does a lot. “Be careful around him to avoid the stupid.”
“Are you a virgin?” Fred questions me, giving me the once over. “If not, I’d do you. You’re fit.”
“Oh, my God, you are such a pig,” Mia says to him disgustedly.
“I think you’re a virgin,” Fred decides. “Shame.”
“Because you’re clearly good in the sack,” I retort, feeling my cheeks heat up. “Kellie Sampson told me so after she finished making out with your sister on the train.”
Everyone except Fred laughs. He instead gives me a long, appraising look. “I like you, Charlotte,” he finally says. “You’re good.”
“Thank you,” I reply simply, pushing my hair off my shoulders. “I do try.”
“Who are you?”
I turn in my seat to see a short, round brunette with large brown eyes and full lips. She’s wearing a Ravenclaw tie, so I have a rather good guess as to which house she’s in.
“Charlotte Badeau,” I say. “And you?”
“Erin,” she replies, dropping into the seat next to me. “Are you the new girl?”
“Er, I guess so,” I answer, somewhat uncertain if I should be offended by that or not.
“That’s cool. Why are you here?” She turns to look at James and Fred. “I don’t like either of you.”
“Erin, love, we just can’t stop spending time with you,” Fred says, draping an arm over her shoulders.
She shrugs out from under the weight and frowns. “Don’t touch me, Weasley, or I’ll kick you.”
“We’ve got to work on your threats, dear,” Fred tells her, shaking his head. “Really, really
“I’m going to the dormitories,” Erin declares, standing up and stalking off.
“Oh, me too! I want to sleep!” Phoebe shouts, leaping to her feet. “I’m tired!” She grabs a handful of biscuits from the table and shoves some into her mouth. “You funna come, Farlut?”
“Um, okay,” I say, standing less enthusiastically. “I guess. You’ve got crumbs on your shirt.”
“Fit happens,” she replies unconcernedly, brushing them off and glancing at Mia. “Coming, Mia?”
“Sure, I’ll come. I’m tired too.” Mia rises to her feet and leans across the table to peck James’s cheek. I don’t know why it makes me grit my teeth, but it does. “Goodnight, James.”
“Night, Mia,” he says, reaching over and picking up the uneaten roll from her plate. “See you tomorrow.”
Fred waves at me. “Call me after someone deflowers you, beautiful.”
“Call me after someone screens you for STDs,” I retort, flashing him a smile. As I leave the hall with Phoebe and Mia, they watch me, impressed.
“You handle Fred well,” Mia says. “That’s notable.”
“Thanks,” I say. I glance around the cavernous hall. “So, how do we get to this dormitory?”
“It’s quite simple, really,” Phoebe assures me, motioning with a manicured hand. “You go up these stairs, take two lefts and a right, up two more flights, take a left, then a right, then another flight of stairs, go down this long hallway, and then up some more stairs. Can’t miss it.”
I blink at her uncomprehendingly.
“You have pretty eyes,” she says, pushing back some of my hair. “I like green eyes. And red hair. But that may be because all the redheads I know are pretty. You’ve seen those Weasleys. And Lily Potter. If she were three years older and I were a guy, I’d definitely date her.”
“Phoebe meant all that as a compliment to you, Charlotte,” Mia says as we pass two statues who appear to be sword fighting. “She just lacks people skills.”
“I do not! That’s the Transfiguration room, just so you know,” Phoebe tells me, pointing at a door by the statues. “Ignore them. They’re always doing that. God knows why.”
“Watch out for the trick step,” Mia warns, leaping the first stair at the foot of the case we’ve just reached. “It is no fun to be trapped in it.”
“It’s a blast when a fit boy helps you out,” Phoebe disagrees, grinning. “Albus Potter had to grab me by the waist one time. God, that was a good day.”
Mia rolls her eyes at Phoebe. “You’re disgusting.”
Mia sighs, shaking her head, and then smiles at me. “You have a sister?”
“Yes,” I respond, eyeing a portrait of an opulently dressed squid. “Brigitte. She’s in her fourth year.”
“She’s that beautiful blonde with the big blue eyes?” asks Phoebe. “Skip that step.”
I do, afraid to see what would happen if I decided to put my foot on it. “Yes, that’s her.”
“She looks nothing like you.”
Mia whacks the back of Phoebe’s head while I smile dryly. “Thanks.”
“Oh, no, I didn’t mean it like that! You’re beautiful too! Really!” Phoebe cries, realizing her mistake. I shake my head.
“Dammit, now I feel bad,” Phoebe says. “I hate feeling bad.”
“No, it’s fine, really,” I insist as we come to a door. “I’ve gotten it before.”
“Now I feel worse
!” Phoebe shouts as Mia touches the handle of the door. “Bah, I hate these. You have to answer a riddle to get in.”
The door speaks. I jump slightly.
"The beginning of eternity
The end of time and space
The beginning of every end,
And the end of every place."
“I’m rubbish at these,” Mia says grumpily. “Once I got locked out the whole night because I couldn’t figure one out.”
“Maybe it’s a . . . er . . . puppy,” suggests Phoebe halfheartedly. At our looks, she protests, “It could be!”
“It’s the letter ‘e’,” I say. There’s a click, and Mia opens the door, watching me, awed.
“You never leave the tower without me, okay?” she says. “I mean it. Never.”
I stare at her, confused. “Why not?”
She rolls her eyes. “I can’t ever get these riddles; didn’t I just say that? You clearly have some amazing gift for it.”
“Are you taking any prescription medication?” asks Phoebe, entering the tower.
Instead of answering, I give her a baffled look. “Is that relevant at all?”
“Well,” Phoebe says, shrugging, “I just wanted some of whatever you’ve got, is all.”
“Idiot,” Mia says.
“And then they had to call the nurse, Madam Monistra, to administer this potion to stop the meowing. It was insane. You should have been there.” Phoebe sips her orange juice as a conclusion to her anecdote.
“She kept scratching her neck for weeks afterwards with her foot. I’ve never seen anyone so flexible,” Erin adds, nodding wisely, as if this is some great lesson we must all learn.
I turn to see Brigitte scurrying toward me, leaving behind her a group of Slytherins who seem to be about her age. She drops in between Erin and me, grinning, and says, “Hi.”
I lift a spoonful of porridge from the bowl before dropping it back in. I never could eat on the first day of classes, I’m always too nervous. I twist my bracelet as I say, “Hi. How was your first night?”
,” she emphasizes, taking my spoon and helping herself to my breakfast. “Oh, those girls are great. The beds are great. The common room is great.’
“I’m pleased with your enthusiasm,” I say, taking a sip of my juice. “Anything interesting happen?”
“Well,” she says brightly, scraping the sides of the porridge bowl, “Jacob the Gorgeous seems rather into me, I think.”
“Oh my milkshake,” I sigh, shaking my head so that my ponytail swings back and forth. “Brigitte, your ego is the most impressive one I have seen on anyone on this planet.” I pause briefly. “Except possibly James. No offense, Mia.”
Mia rolls her eyes. “Oh, God. None taken.”
“Right. Whatever. But anyway, he’s so into me.”
I fix Brigitte with an exasperated look worthy of my mother. The message is communicated without words, and she turns a little pink.
I jump slightly when I feel someone swat my ponytail, and I turn around to see James and Albus standing side by side, staring at the spot where it had been before I moved.
“What are you doing?”
“They like ponytails,” Mia explains. “They hit them back and forth.” I note as she says this that her hair is pulled back into one as well.
“It’s just like a pony’s tail,” James murmurs, eyes glazed over.
Albus lets out a soft, mesmerized whinny, and Mia shakes her head. “That’s why they’re called ponytails, you morons.”
“I wish I had a ponytail,” Albus whispers, touching his hair.
“Okay,” Lily’s voice says from behind them. “You are both being too weird to be allowed near people you haven’t known very long. Come on, back to the table with you.” She places one hand on each shoulder, shoving, but they don’t move. Sighing, she turns to Jacob, who’s watching her amusedly. “Make yourself useful, Man Candy.”
“I’m not your man candy,” Jacob argues, helping her push them away from us. Brigitte, eyes fixed on his retreating rear, hops up to follow.
“If he were three years older, I’d date him,” Phoebe announces. “Actually, I might date him anyway.”
“You’re a creep, Phoebe,” Erin says. “What kind of pedophile are you?”
“A straight one.”
“Oh, God,” Mia says, glancing up at the enchanted ceiling and shaking her head. “What did I do to deserve these people?”
“It was probably some cosmic sin in a past life,” I suggest, nibbling on an apple slice. “Most likely you kicked some old lady’s cow or something.”
Mia nods, serious. “Yes, that was it. I remember it now.”
I miss you already. I hope you’ve begun searching for a house; you’re going to drive the Potters crazy. Don’t walk around half-naked, please. They don’t deserve that. They’ve done nothing but show kindness to you.
Anyway, you’re only getting one letter, as usual, and it’s my turn to write it. Brigitte is probably too busy flirting with Lily’s love interest to have time, at any rate. She’s been going after him like mad all day; it’s getting embarrassing. I don’t know how she missed Mère’s lesson on tact, but we’ll have to have another one as soon as the winter holidays roll around.
I trust you’re familiar with the different Hogwarts houses; after all, the Potters did talk about them at dinner one night, if I remember correctly. Brigitte was placed in Slytherin—apparently because she’s got self-preservation, which would definitely not be what I’d say, but supposedly the hat knows best—and I’ve been put in Ravenclaw. In order to get into the Ravenclaw tower, you have to answer a riddle. It’s my favorite part of the day; you know how I love riddles.
I’ve met plenty of new people, obviously, and so far I like most of them. We both know I’m not a big people person, but I think I’m doing quite well. James’s girlfriend, Mia, is in Ravenclaw as well, and so are two other girls, Phoebe and Erin. They showed me where to go all day today, and they’ll do it again tomorrow. I’ve now been warned of seven trick steps, four farting statues, and a haunted lavatory, not to mention the stunts James, Albus, and their cousin Fred like to pull. It’s impossibly different from Beauxbatons.
My classes seem like they’ll be challenging, but the Herbology professor is very nice. He’s a friend of the Potters and definitely understands the importance of his subject, unlike Madame Richelieu. You remember how much I hated her. He’s clearly superior in both knowledge and passion of the subject.
I miss you unbelievably, but nothing all that exciting has happened today, and I’ve already accumulated a rather impressive pile of homework. It’s sitting by my elbow, mocking me, as we speak. I’ll force Brigitte to write soon, and then you’ll hear from me again.
I suppose everything could be worse, but there are two huge issues with my current situation, and I know you’ll understand. You always could; even your bracelet makes me feel better.
First of all, Brigitte is in a completely different house. I know it’ll be ‘good’ for us to be separated or whatever (that therapist they made me see at Beauxbatons told me so, the one who prescribed those anti-depressants), but I miss her. I mean, I see her at least three times a day at meals, but that just feels strange. That therapist, Lucie, said that she thinks I have a visceral connection to her because she looks so much like you and my overprotective instincts didn’t really kick in until last spring, but I think the school paid her by the hour, and she just needed to keep talking.
Secondly, I have this boy issue. James Potter has a girlfriend, but I think I may fancy him. He’s smart, funny, attractive, caring. But he’s really not my type. He likes to get in trouble, disobey authority figures, and obsess over Lily’s love life. I’m not into boys like that. I promised you I wouldn’t be into boys like that. I refuse to break that promise. Besides, he has a girlfriend, and I’m not a man-stealer. You raised me better than that.
I wish you were here to smack some sense into your youngest’s head about boys. And maybe mine, too. Maman, I just wish you were here.