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The Ugly Truth by sexilongbottom

Format: Short story
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 15,349
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Fluff
Characters: Albus, James (II), Lily (II), OC

First Published: 10/18/2009
Last Chapter: 04/15/2010
Last Updated: 04/15/2010

Claire Bowen was the biggest reject Hogwarts had to offer. She had a total of one friend and was far from being a beauty. When her seventeenth birthday roles around she finds out some shocking news that she is sure will make her into an even bigger outcast, but in a completely different way.

Chapter 4: Time to Party

A/N: I am so sorry that it took so long to post this chapter. I had gotten so completely caught up in midterms and my spring break that I had no time to get on here and post this chapter, but now that is over so hopefully I will be able to update more often now.

“Let me just take one more picture.”

“Mum.” Claire sighed.

“I am sorry honey.” Her mother responded. “It is just I have never seen you look so pretty before. Oh, that’s not what I meant. It’s just that the last time you wore a dress was when you were a little girl and I could still force you into them.”

“All right, well we really need to get going.” Lavender said. Claire looked at Lavender and wished that she could look as calm and confident as Lavender did in her elegant black dress.

“Oh, okay.” Mrs. Bowen said as she snapped one last picture and then put down the camera. “Come here and give me a hug. I’ll try not to mess you up.” She added as she hugged both Claire and Lavender before they walked out the door.

“So, how are we getting to this party anyways?” Claire asked after they had shut the door behind them.

“We apparate of course.” Lavender explained. “Take my arm, I’ll guide you.” Claire was not sure that she trusted someone who seemed to be as much as an airhead as Lavender to guide her when apparating, but she did not have much of a choice. “Hold on tight.” Lavender said as Claire grabbed onto Lavender’s arm and they both spun on the spot and disappeared with a small pop.

Claire looked around and saw only trees and bushes around her and a white canvas wall in front of her.

“Are you ready?” Lavender asked Claire. “On the other side of this drape are reporters and they are going to have a field day with you. Well, let’s go.”

Claire stared at Lavender as she went and opened the flap in the canvas and walked out. As soon as the canvas flap opened Claire could see the flashes of cameras going off and suddenly her legs had turned to jell-o. The flap had closed behind Lavender and Claire knew she needed to move but she could not seem to. She could hear the roar of people shouting questions at Lavender. Claire had no idea how much time had passed since Lavender had left. How could she just leave anyway? Claire wanted to know what kind of a mother or friend or whatever it was Lavender was trying to be would leave Claire helpless and staring at a white canvas. Okay Claire thought to herself. You can do this. No one will recognize you. It doesn’t matter if you make a fool of yourself because you are not you. Well, you are you, but you are a different you. You are Clarissa Brown. You can do this. With one last breath Claire stepped forward and opened the flap.

As soon as the flap was open Claire was nearly blinded by the flashing lights but she hardly noticed them. She kept her eyes trained on Lavender who was only a few steps in front of her. Claire plastered a smile on her face, walked up to Lavender and gave her a hug. More flashes went off and Claire could hear a few reporters shouting at Lavender, wanting to know who Claire was.

“This is my daughter. Clarissa.” Claire said with a smile. More flashes of light. “I thought it best to keep her out of the public eye until she was of age.” Lavender replied simply. Claire remembered Lavender telling her that when talking with the press less was more.

“Clarissa, what is it like to have Lavender Brown as a mother?” Claire heard one of the reporters shout.

“Oh it is wonderful.” Claire said with her smile still in place as she recited the lines she and Lavender had rehearsed, Lavender had also told her to never stop smiling when there was a camera around. “We are just the best of friends.”

Lavender and Claire stood together and posed for a few more seconds before Lavender directed them both towards the building where the party was being held. Once inside Claire blinked several times to try and get the visions of flashing lights out of her eyes.

“You’ll get used to it.” Lavender said as she recognized the look on Claire’s face. “Look sharp.” She added as she saw people approaching them.

Claire looked up and plastered the same smile on her face that she had worn when taking photos outside but it almost faltered when she saw who it was. Mr. and Mrs. Potter were standing in front of her and Lavender.

“Hello” Lavender said with a cheery voice.

“Hello Lavender.” Mrs. Potter said kindly though Claire thought that her smile didn’t seem completely genuine. “And who is this?” Mrs. Potter said as she indicated Claire.

“This is my daughter Clarissa.” Lavender said as she placed a hand delicately on Claire’s shoulder.

“Your daughter?” Mrs. Potter asked as she raised one eyebrow.

“Yes, I wanted to keep her a secret so she could have a normal childhood.” Lavender said simply.

“I am hurt Lavender.” Mrs. Potter said though Claire noticed that she did not look hurt at all. “Here you have been saying that we have been best friends for years and yet you neglect to tell me that you have a child.”

“You can never be too careful.” Lavender said with a smile. That smile never left Lavender’s face when she was out in public.

“You know, I have a son who is about your age.” Mr. Potter said, noticing that Claire was standing awkwardly nearby, not speaking to anyone. “He should be around here somewhere. Ah, there he is. James!” Mr. Potter called out.

I wanted to melt into the walls as I saw James walking up to me. I did not want to put up with his arrogance tonight.

“Yeah Dad?” James said to his father.

“This here is Clarissa Brown. Lavender’s daughter. Would you please show her around a bit?” Mr. Potter asked James. James looked Claire up and down and then smiled.

“With pleasure.”

Claire resisted the urge to vomit.

It was amazing how people could easily be fooled by a little hair and makeup. James seemed to not recognize her at all. Under normal circumstances Claire might have been hurt, but tonight she was only relieved. She did not want anyone recognizing her for who she really was, so even if it meant that she had to be nice to James Potter, her sworn enemy, she was going to get through this evening without being recognized. She could pretend to be nice to James for one night; after all, it was Claire Bowen who had an issue with James. Clarissa Brown had no reason to hate James.

“So Clarissa, how come I have never seen you around these parties before?” James asked Claire after they had gotten out of ear shot of their parents. “I am sure I would remember a pretty face such as yours.”

Claire resisted the urge to laugh out loud. Oh yeah, he was really good at remembering her face.

“Lavender thought it was best if I wasn’t exposed to the press and stardom at too young of an age.” Claire explained as they walked outside and stood under a white tent that had been set up. “Now that I have come of age she feels it is the appropriate time for me to come out into society.”

“Oh, I don’t blame her. Growing up in the lime light can scar a child forever.” James said matter of factly. Claire raised both of her eyebrows at James. She would have raised only one, but that was one thing that she could never do and always wished that she could, so instead she raised both. “Except for me of course.” James quickly corrected as he realized his mistake. “Anyone with a lesser will power would have crumbled years ago, but not me. I was fortunate to be strong enough to survive all of the media and fame.”

“So are you implying that I was not strong enough to make it through fame at a young age without being damaged for life?” Claire asked James.

“Oh no, it was nothing like that, it is just that someone as pretty as you should not have to go through something as traumatizing as being raised with cameras going off all around you.” James corrected.

“So what, I can’t be pretty and strong at the same time?” Claire asked as she raised both of her eyebrows again.

“No, it’s just that…that…argh! Why do you have to be so infuriating?” He demanded. “All I am trying to do is pay you a compliment and you turn it around into an insult!”

“Next time you want to compliment me try and compliment me on something other than my looks. There is more to people than their appearances you know. Or are you so superficial that you never get to know someone beyond their appearance. Let me guess, you are the kind of guy who hooks up with a girl once and never speaks to her again because all that you care about is the outer surface of people.” Claire exploded. She had told herself that she was going to try and be nice to James tonight so as to get through the evening smoothly and return to her normal life but her hatred for James ran too deep to cover up for even one night.

“Why on earth would you accuse me of such a thing?” James demanded, suddenly looking hurt and shocked. Claire knew better than to believe that he was actually hurt, in order to be hurt James first had to have feelings. “You don’t even know me.”

“James, you are in the papers often enough for anyone to know you.” Claire said. She couldn’t tell him that the real reason that she knew this about him was because she had known him for years and saw him with a different girl every week.

“You will learn soon enough not to believe everything you read in the papers.” James said before he turned and walked away back inside. Claire was glad to be rid of him the arrogant little git, but she couldn’t help but feel the teeny, tinniest, bit sorry about how harshly she had treated him, after all, he probably had no idea why Clarissa Brown was being so mean. But Claire reminded herself of all of the terrible things James had said to her over the years and she had never done anything to deserve them.

Claire stayed outside for a while longer, she did not want to risk running into James or any other Potter. She was terrified that someone would recognize her. Her attempts at remaining hidden out back were foiled however when none other than Lily Potter approached her.

“Hi.” Lily said with a sweet smile. This was going to be the hard part, lying about who she was to someone who she hated was easy, but lying about who she was to someone that Claire actually liked was going to be hard. “I’m Lily.”

“Hi Lily.” Claire said as she shook Lily’s outstretched hand. “I’m Clarissa Brown.” Claire felt weird introducing herself to Lily whom she had known since Lily was born.

“I don’t think I have seen you around here before.” Lily observed. Claire was starting to get tired of explaining why no one recognized her. She was beginning to wonder why there were so many parties like this held when they were always the same exact people who came every time.

“Yes, well my mother decided to keep me hidden away from the press and from all of the fame and sparkly lifestyle until I was of age. Something about giving me a normal childhood, but who needs one of those?” Claire joked, she was tired of using the line that Lavender had taught her to use. Every time she said it she felt like a robot, incapable of thinking for herself.

Lily looked at Claire for a moment as if she could not decide how to react, but it did not take her long to let out a laugh.

“You’re funny. I like that.” Lily stated bluntly, she was always so upfront and honest. “Come on, let’s go walk around, it is always so boring out here.”

Claire smiled, so glad that Lily liked Clarissa as well. It made sense that she would since it was still Claire, but all the same, Claire was still afraid that they would not be friends at the famous parties. That was after all what had made James stop being Claire’s friend.

Once they were inside they were assaulted by music. They apparently had entered into the dancing room as there was a dance floor with a fair amount of people dancing on it.

“Come on, let’s dance!” Lily said happily as she dragged Claire out on the dance floor. Once they were in the middle of the dance floor Lily began to dance but Claire stood there a bit awkwardly. “What’s the matter?” Lily asked above the music.

“I don’t know how to dance.” Claire admitted shamefully. She hadn’t known that there would be dancing at this sort of party.

“What do you mean?” Lily asked “everyone knows how to dance!”

“Well, I mean I have danced around my room with friends but we were always just messing around.” Claire said, feeling more and more foolish.

“Well just do that.” Lily said happily as she resumed her dancing. “It is not hard, just move to the rhythm of the music. No one cares how well you dance or not. There are no rules for dancing, just have fun!”

Claire laughed at Lily’s enthusiasm, that was one of the things that Claire always liked about Lily, she was always so happy. Claire began to dance along with Lily; she was awkward at first but soon found rhythm and hoped that she did not look too out of place.

“See, you can dance!” Lily said happily as she spun around. Suddenly the song they were listening to ended and a slower one came on. “Aw dang.” Lily said slightly upset that her happy music had come to an end.

“May I have this dance?” Claire heard a voice speak up from behind her. She turned around to see James Potter standing behind her.

“Sure.” Claire said, not really wanting to but she knew better than to outright say no. There were too many people here watching her and they would all wonder why she had turned down to amazing James Potter for no reason. “I’m not a very good dancer though.” Claire warned him.

“That’s okay, neither am I.” James said with such an innocent smile that it was hard for Claire to believe that this was the same mean spirited boy who lived next door to her.

Claire placed her hand in his and put her other hand on James’s shoulder. She felt his other hand on her waist and felt a shiver run up her spine. It was not that James had that kind of an effect on her but it was rather the fact that a guy had never touched her like this before.

James and Claire swayed back and forth, finding their common rhythm and then James began to take control and slowly began to bring out fancier moves.

“I thought you said that you were no good at dancing.” Claire said as she somehow managed to keep herself from tripping as they danced.

“I just didn’t want to make you feel bad.” James said with a shrug.

“Why would you care? I thought you were mad at me.” Claire wondered why he had decided to suddenly be friendly to her after she had been so mean to him.

“I decided to give you a break; you don’t know what this lifestyle is like yet.” James said with a shrug. “Besides, I find you interesting.”

Claire didn’t believe James for a second. She knew he did not find her interesting, he only liked her now because she was more attractive and was finally high enough on the social status ladder.

“Oh I am sorry.” Claire said as she stepped on James’s foot. “I have the dancing skills, poise, and grace of a fridge.”

“It’s okay.” James said as he laughed slightly at Claire’s last remark.

“Would you mind if I was ugly?” Claire asked suddenly.

“Ye-no!” James corrected after Claire raised her eyebrows at him. She had been doing a lot of that tonight. “Besides, it doesn’t matter because you are the prettiest girl around.”

“What if my beauty is only skin deep? Would you find me interesting then?” Claire inquired even though she already knew what his honest answer would be.

“Why do you always have to try and bit my head off?” James asked. “All I have been trying to do all night is be nice to you and the only find the negative in whatever I say.”

“Have you ever considered that everything that you say is negative?” Claire retorted. “Just because you say it with a smile and put pretty words around it does not make whatever you say into a nice thing. You know there is a person behind the looks. Why don’t you try and get to know someone for who they are for once instead of what they look like or what they will do for your social standing! I am so sick of arrogant little gits like you who think they can say and do whatever they want and get away with it just because they are famous!” With that Claire dropped James’s hand and turned and marched off of the dance floor.

She had not realized how loud she and James had been arguing until she noticed that almost everyone was watching the two of them. Claire didn’t care. She just wanted to get as far away from James Potter as possible. Claire pushed her way through the crowds of people until she found the one place where she could be alone. The broom closet.

Claire stepped into the broom closet and shut the door behind her. She sat down on the floor with her back resting against the door. She hated James Potter. She wished that she could force him to wear meat trousers and then push him into the ocean. But even that seemed like too nice of a punishment. Claire sat there contemplating what mean things she wanted to do to James when she suddenly felt herself falling backwards. Someone had opened the closet door and therefore Claire’s backrest was gone. She was now lying flat on her back half in the closet and half out of the closet.

“I think your mother might be upset if she sees you lying on the floor in that nice dress.” Lily pointed out. Claire quickly stood up and dragged Lily into the closet with her and then sat back down on the floor.

“Shh. I don’t want people knowing where I am.” Claire whispered to Lily.

“Calm down, no one is looking for you.” Lily said and even though it was dark in the closet Claire was pretty sure that she was smiling.

“You know, normally I would feel upset that no one thought to wonder where I had disappeared to, but tonight I couldn’t be happier.” Claire said as she pulled out her wand and cast some light into the dark closet. “So what were you doing looking for me if no one else was?”

“These parties are always so boring. I was glad to have finally found a friend here.” Lily explained. “Besides, anyone who gets on my brother’s nerves is alright by me.” Claire laughed at the last part.

“Anytime you want him annoyed just call on me.” Claire said with a laugh.

“Yes, but it seems that he gets under your skin as well.” Lily pointed out.

“Why would you think that I would let someone like him get to me?” Claire asked.

“Clarissa, we are sitting in a broom closet.” Lily stated.

“Oh, yeah.” Claire said as she looked around as if she had forgotten where they were for a moment. “Well we can’t have that annoying brother of yours thinking he got the best of me.” Claire said as she stood up. “Does my dress look messed up?” Claire asked Lily, she did not want Lavender to start questioning her why her dress looked messy.

“No, you look okay.” Lily said as she too stood up.

“Alright, time to face the music.” Claire said as she opened the closet door and put her wand away. Claire was surprised to see that the crowds had thinned significantly since she disappeared into the closet. Claire and Lily walked back out to the main room and found Lavender standing there chatting with a very awkward looking Ron Weasley and his slightly upset looking wife.

“Clarissa, there you are!” Lavender said as if she had been looking for Claire everywhere. “Where have you been?”

“Lily and I were just getting to know each other” Claire vaguely explained but it seemed to be a good enough explanation for Lavender.

“Well it is time that we get going.” Lavender said before turning back to the Weasleys to say her goodbyes.

“Bye Lily, it was great to meet you.” Claire said as she turned her attention back to Lily who was still standing beside her.

“Are you coming to our Christmas party?” Lily asked.

“Oh, um, I don’t know.” Claire answered honestly. When she had first arrived here she had thought that this was going to be a onetime thing but now she didn’t know. They weren’t that bad of parties so long as she stayed clear of James.

“Well I am inviting you and your mother.” Lily announced. “I do hope you come, otherwise it will be just another one of the boring parties my parents drag me to.”

“We’ll see.” Was Claire’s response before she turned and met up with Lavender.

“Ready to go Darling?” Lavender said. Claire wanted to ask Lavender not to call her ‘Darling’ ever again, but she knew that people could still hear them and she had to continue to put on the act she had promised Lavender she would put on.

“Yeah.” Claire responded simply and the two of them disappeared with two small pops.