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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
Pairings:

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

Summary:
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 1: Old enemy and a new friend
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A/N: Sorry it is a little slow moving, but all stories have to begin somewhere






Claire Bowen was lying sprawled out on the grass enjoying the last few hours of summer. Tomorrow she was to board the train back to Hogwarts. She was not looking forward to having to go back to school. Sure she loved the academic challenges that it provided but she loved the freedom of summer so much. Plus it wasn’t like she was dying to see her friends again. In reality she didn’t have that many friends. One to be exact and he was lying on the grass next to her.

Claire looked over at Roger and smiled. They had been best friends since their first year of Hogwarts together. Neither one really fit in with the rest of the student population. Claire was an awkward nerd who was one of the best in all of her classes and stood out in a crowd with her hair that went every which way and had a mind of its own. Roger was by no means a nerd, but if he had to fit into a stereotype it would have to be a dork. He loved muggle video games and would play them almost nonstop when at home. He had long blonde hair that came a little above his shoulders. People though the two of them were a bunch of freaks and so they stuck together, finding the safety in numbers, even if that number was only two.

Today was a tradition of theirs; every year since they met they would get together on the last day of summer and do absolutely nothing. This year they chose to do nothing by sitting outside of Claire’s small house under a large shade tree and stare up at the sky. The two hadn’t spoken in over an hour, but they didn’t need to. They could be together in silence and be perfectly at ease, they were that good of friends.

Claire closed her eyes as she lay there, enjoying the peace and quiet. The quiet, however, was soon disturbed by a loud crashing sound coming from the neighbor’s yard. Claire opened her eyes in time to see a boy jump over the fence and into her own yard.

“What did you do now Potter?” Claire asked with disgust as she sat up right and leaned against the tree trunk. Claire looked at the boy in front of her. James Potter, the son of the most famous couple in the wizarding world. Everyone adores this young boy for the simple reason that his parents are famous. Everyone except for Claire. She hated James and his pompous attitude. He thought he could get away with anything because he was James Potter.

James returned the feelings of hatred. He did not like this awkward and freakish girl who happened to live next door to him. It was also one of his favorite past times to annoy Claire as much as possible.

The two young kids had not always hated each other. In fact, when they were younger it was quite the opposite. When they were little the two used to play together all the time. They did not care about fame or looks or what anyone else would think. All they cared about was playing games together. They would always play all day and most likely would have continued to play into the night had their parents not made them go inside and go to bed. They had formed their own way to communicate after they had been sent to bed, however. Their bedroom windows faced each other and they would pull their blinds up and down so many times to say different things.

The summer when both turned eleven was their last summer together. They spent almost the entire summer talking about Hogwarts and how wonderful it would be to finally go there. They were going to “rule the school” as James liked to say. When September first came Claire was standing on the platform looking for James so they could find a compartment on the train together. She saw him a little ways away and waved to him. James smiled and started to make his way over to Claire. He was stopped on the way over by another boy who was their age. Claire recognized him as the son of another famous couple. She had seen him in pictures in Witch Weekly and other such magazines. She knew that the boy, Isaac she thought his name was, had attended some of the same parties that James had.

“James!” Claire called out to her friend as she waved again.

“Do you know that freak?” Claire heard Isaac ask James with disdain in his voice.

Claire watched as James hesitated before answer.

“No.” He said finally before turning and walking away with Isaac.

That was five years ago. Ever since then James though himself too good to associate with the weird girl who lived next door.

“Pleasure to see you too Bowen.” James said as he sauntered over towards the tree she was leaning against. “And what I have been doing really is none of your business.”

“If you have that attitude than why don’t you just hop the fence back into your own yard?” Claire asked him as she glared daggers at him, just being in the presence of James made her in the mood to kill, preferably him.

“Easy Bowen, I just need to sit this one out over here. Mum’s anger will go away eventually.

“Who says that you can just come over here whenever you want?”

“Aw Bowen, you know you want me over here. You don’t need to hide your feelings for me. It’s just us.” James said with a sly smile and a wink.

“And what am I?” Roger asked from where he was still lying on the ground. “Just a patch of grass?”

“I think the correct term would be a spare patch of grass.” James corrected.

“Didn’t your mother ever teach you that if you can’t say anything nice than don’t say anything at all?” Claire asked as she stood up and placed her hands on her hips.

“And didn’t your mother tell you to mind your temper, or was she too busy with her knitting?” James retorted. It was well known that Claire’s parents were older than the other parents of children her age. She often got teased about her ‘granny’ raising her. Claire never let it get to her because she knew once they stooped low enough to play the granny card that they really had nothing else to pick on her for.

“Just leave us be Potter before I hex you into the next century.” Claire said as she pulled out her wand.

“Yeah right Bowen, you know you aren’t allowed to use magic outside of school.” James said in a confidant voice.

“Oh yeah, and who’s going to tell on me, you?”

“You’re too much of a goody goody to go against the rules.”

“Try me.” Claire said as she tightened the grip on her wand and took a step closer to James, narrowing her eyes to mere slits.

James stood there for a moment or two and Claire could see the internal battle raging inside of him. She could tell he was afraid of her but he did not want to lose face by backing down.

“James! Mom says it is time for diner and that if you don’t come inside within ten seconds she is going to rain hell on your hide!” James was spared from having to decide if he was going to back down or not by the arrival of Lily Potter. She poked her head over the fence and smiled at Claire. “Oh hello there Claire. I am glad to see that someone has finally managed to make James nearly wet himself.”

Claire always liked Lily. She was the little sister she had never had when they were younger Claire would let Lilly come over and they would play dolls and dress up together. Even after Claire and James stopped being friends Claire still enjoyed Lily’s company but they rarely saw each other at school because Lily was only in her third year.

“Hi Lils!” Claire said as her expression lightened noticeably. “Go on home to mommy for dinner Potter. No one wants you here.” Claire said as she turned back to James.

James just glared at Claire before running and jumping over the fence that separated the two properties.

Roger finally stood up and stretched. “I should probably get going too.” He said while trying to stifle a yawn. He always let Claire be the one to butt heads with James he preferred to sit in the background and wait for the storm to blow over.

“Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Claire said as they made their way back into her house.

“Oh Roger dear, are you going home already?” Claire’s mom asked as they entered the living room.

“Yeah, my mom said she wanted me back home before it got dark. “

“Would you like some pumpkin bread to take with you?” Mrs. Bowen asked.

“No thanks Mrs. Bowen.” Roger replied politely, every time he came over Mrs. Bowen tried to send him home with food. “My dad will have dinner ready soon.” Mrs. Bowen scowled slightly. Roger’s mom was absolutely terrible at cooking and spent most of her time working. Roger’s dad had been a stay at home dad when Roger was young, he had gone back to work now, but he still continued to do the cooking and cleaning.

“Alright, well if you are sure.”

“I’m sure. Bye Claire, bye Mrs. Bowen.” Roger said as he took a pinch of floo powder and stepped into the fireplace before disappearing in a whirl of green flames.







“Roger, could you help me with this?” Claire asked as she struggled to hoist her trunk up onto the train.

“Sure.” He said as he reached over and pulled her trunk up for her. As he reached over her Claire could smell his sweet sent. She inhaled it and could not help herself from smiling. Claire had had the hugest crush on Roger and it seemed that everyone knew it except for him. She was terrified to let him know it though because she didn’t want to ruin their friendship. He really was her only friend and she did not think that she could survive the next three years without him.

“Now we just need to find a compartment.” Claire said as she began to make her way down the crowded train. It seemed that every single compartment was taken. It was not until they had reached the very last compartment that they found one with only one person in it. Claire slid the door open and poked her head in. The occupant of the compartment was fairly small and had blonde hair that was cut short and spiky at the back of her head.

“Do you mind if we join you?” Claire asked hesitantly. “Everywhere else is full.”

The girl looked up from the latest issue of Witch Weekly and smiled sweetly at them. “No, go right on ahead.”

“Thanks.” Claire said as she walked into the compartment closely followed by Roger. Claire took the seat across from the girl and Roger sat next to her. “I’m Claire, and this is Roger.”

“My name is Traci. I’m a fifth year Ravenclaw. What house are you two in? I don’t think I have seen you around.”

“We’re both sixth years. I’m in Gryffindor” Claire said with a slight hint of a prideful smile. Both of her parents had been in Gryffindor. They said that every member of their family had been in Gryffindor way back since Hogwarts opened. That last statement may have been a bit extreme but Claire liked the idea that she came from a long line of Gryffindors.

“And I’m in Hufflepuff.” Roger added. Claire was glad that the Gryffindors tended to have a lot of classes with the Hufflepuffs because it was hard to keep up a close friendship when both of them were in separate houses. But ever since the end of the Last Battle the relationships between houses were better than ever and it was not all that uncommon to find a Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw, or even a Slytherin in the Gryffindor common room or table and vice versa.

“What are you reading there?” Claire asked as she looked at the magazine Traci was reading, looking for something to talk about with this girl.

“Oh, it is this fascinating story about Lavender Brown.” Traci said as she indicated the cover of the magazine that had a large picture of Lavender Brown blowing kisses and waving. “Have you heard of her?”

Of course Claire had heard of her. Everyone had heard of Lavender Brown. She was one of the most famous witches after Hermione Weasley and Ginny Potter. She had been a model in her younger years and now that she was older she had made a singing career for herself.

“Duh, of course I have. She is so hot.” Roger said as he was staring a little too appreciatively at the picture on the cover.

“Ew, Roger, she is old enough to be your mother!” Claire said a little upset that he never looked at her that way.

“Actually, according to all of her articles she is only in her late twenties.” Traci said matter of factly.

Claire looked at the picture one more time and snorted. “Try late thirties at the youngest.”

Do you really think so?” Traci asked anxiously as she looked at the picture again. “I don’t think she would lie about something as important as that. Do you?”

“Women never tell their real age. Especially not famous ones.” Claire pointed out reasonably. She even had a feeling that her own mother lied about her age.

“Well, I suppose you are right about that, though I don’t think she is that old. Let’s compromise and say early thirties?”

“Sure, works for me.” Claire said, not believing that they had just had a serious debate about the age of some random famous witch.

They passed the rest of the trip talking about their pasts and the most random things they could think of. Apparently Traci was as much of a loner and nobody as Claire and Roger were. She also found out that the article about Lavender was about her having a secret child that no one knew about. Claire seriously doubted this as there were always new scandals regarding Lavender and hardly any of them turned out to be true. Claire also found out that Traci’s favorite color was black and that she thinks the word spaghetti is fun to say. To say the least it was one of the more interesting train rides she had had.



A/N: Sorry it is a little slow moving, but all stories must begin somewhere

Chapter 2: Remembrance Week
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“Stupid little-”

“Here, let me.” Roger said, cutting off Claire before a profanity slipped out of her mouth. They were in the middle of Herbology, Claire’s worst subject. They were trying to extract the juice from a corsero plant before them.

Claire put her finger in her mouth and sucked on it where the plant had stabbed her with its thorn.

“I will never understand why my parents insist that I take this class. Sure it is necessary if you want to be a healer, but I don’t. I don’t want to be anything that has to do with Herbology or plants.” She said as she inspected her finger.

Claire was not the only one sporting a wound. Most of the class had scratches on their faces and hands. The plant was too small to work with if they were wearing their dragon skin gloves so they had to take the pain of it all.

Roger managed to get the juice out of corsero better than anyone else in the class. He seemed to be the only one patient enough to kindly coax the juice out of the plant instead of trying to take it by force. Everyone else just dived right into it and ended up getting hurt somehow. At the end of the class period Claire and Roger had the most corsero juice and were awarded ten points to each of their houses by Professor Longbottom.

“I can’t wait until Remembrance Week.” Claire said as they made their way up towards the castle. “I am going home and am going to celebrate my seventeenth birthday all week long!” Claire was the oldest person in their year and she was looking forward to turning seventeen before anyone else. She was going to take her apparition test as soon as she could.

“Don’t forget what Remembrance Week is supposed to be about.” Roger said to her as they entered the Great Hall for lunch. “We are supposed to spend this time remembering what everyone sacrificed in the first and second wars. It is not just a break for you to go off and party.”

“I know that.” Claire said as they sat down at the Hufflepuff table. Claire hardly ever sat at the Gryffindor one. Everyone there was a part of the James Potter fan club, or so it seemed. “Hey Albus.” She added as she looked across the table and saw the raven haired Hufflepuff sitting there.

Albus was one of the three of the Weasley and Potter clan who was not sorted into Gryffindor. He was almost the complete opposite of his brother James. Albus was very quiet and to himself. His dark hair fell into his emerald green eyes as he sat quietly and observed everyone around him. It was well known that he was the handsomer of the two boys but most people thought him odd and steered clear of him.

Albus greeted the two of them with a simple nod of the head. To outsiders it might seem like he was being cold towards them but that was just about as friendly of a greeting that anyone could hope to get from him.

They ate their food mostly in silence; Roger was always too busy eating to talk at all. Just then Traci sat herself down next to Albus and across from Roger. Even though she was in Ravenclaw and a year younger than Roger and Claire the three of them had begun to spend a lot of time together. It was strange at first, Claire and Roger were used to it being just the two of them, but it did not take long for them to adjust to this bubbly, talkative girl.

“Hey guys! How was Herbology?” She asked them with a brisk smile. “Oh, are these cauldron cakes?” She said before either Roger or Claire could answer. They were used to this by now, Traci was always talking. “I was hoping there would be some at lunch, I have been craving some all morning and now I get to have some at last. Mmmm, these seem to taste better than usual, or maybe it is just because I have been wanting them so badly. Oh, hello there.” Traci had just noticed Albus sitting next to her, looking at her oddly. He probably resented the intrusion into his quiet little world.

“Traci, this is Albus, Albus, this is our friend Traci.” Claire introduced them.

“Oh I know who you are Albus, of course I think everyone knows who you are, but we have had Charms together since we were in first year, though I don’t think we have ever really spoken have we? Well it is nice to finally be introduced to you.” Traci finished with a smile at him.

“Hi.” Albus said with the corners of his mouth turned upward ever so slightly into what one could only hope was his attempt at a smile.

Claire stared at the two of them. Did Albus Potter just willingly speak to someone he had never talked to before and did he just try and smile at her? This was something new indeed. Claire wondered if he was feeling alright or not.













As Friday rolled around Claire was preparing to head home. She was busy packing her trunk when there was a knock on the door to her dormitory. She turned around and saw Traci standing there.

“Hi Traci, what brings you up here?” she asked her friend.

“I know your birthday isn’t until tomorrow but I wanted to give you your present now.” She said as she held out a small brown package.

“Oh, Traci, you didn’t need to get me anything.” Claire knew that Traci’s family didn’t have much money and she didn’t want to take from Traci’s small purse.

Claire slowly opened the package and saw a small silver necklace in the shape of a C.

“It’s nothing much, but I thought you might like it.” Traci said, it was obvious by the expression on her face that she was afraid of Claire not liking it. “I mean, it is okay if you don’t, I just thought-”

“I love it Traci. It is beautiful.” Claire said as she pulled her friend into a tight hug. “Thank you so much.” Claire clasped the necklace around her throat and smiled. She really did love it.

“Are you staying here for the week?” Claire asked. Most people did tend to stay at school for Remembrance Week; Claire was only going home because it was her birthday.

“Yeah, I don’t feel like going home for a few days only to have to come right back here. If it was a longer break I would probably go home.”

“Well it is time I was off. Write to me and tell me all of the exciting things that are happening around the school because I know Roger will forget.” Claire said as she dragged her trunk off her bed and made her way to the door.

“Bye Claire, I’ll see you in a week.” Traci said as they gave each other one more hug.

“Bye Traci, keep Roger company for me.” Claire said with a smile before she made her way to Deputy Headmistress Sinistra’s office where the floo network had been temporarily opened for those few who decided to go home.












Claire had the best Birthday she could have hoped for. Her mother made her a breakfast that was fit for a king. Then she proceeded to go to the Ministry of Magic to get her apparition license. She passed with flying colors and apparated home.

“Mom!” Claire yelled as she entered her house. “Mom! I passed!” She said as she walked into the living room, looking for her mother.

“SURPRISE!”

Claire jumped, she had not been expecting to be greeted by three people yelling surprise at her.

“Roger, Traci! What are you two doing here?” She asked as she rushed forward to hug them both.

“We flooed over as soon as you left to take your test. We wanted to surprise you.” Traci said as she jumped up and down excitedly. “I was so excited when Roger told me the plan. Did I do a good job of fooling you yesterday?” She asked with a big grin.

“It was your mum’s idea.” Roger added.

“You did great. I had no idea that you all were planning this. Thanks mum for coming up with the idea and thanks to you two for coming!” Claire said happily.

The three friends spent the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing, something they tended to do a lot of even when they were at school. When six o’clock rolled around they settled down for dinner, if Claire had thought that her breakfast was fit for a king than dinner was fit for a god. It was the best food she had ever tasted. It was even better than the feasts they had at Hogwarts. And then there was the cake. It was three layers thick and each layer was a different type of chocolate. By the end of the meal everyone was fuller than they could ever remember.

“That meal was awesome Mrs. Bowen.” Roger said sleepily as he patted his stomach fondly.

“Yeah, thanks mum.” Claire added as she stifled a yawn. It was still early in the evening but it had been such a fun day that she was already feeling sleepy.

“Don’t forget about your presents.” Mrs. Bowen said as she flicked her wand and a pile of colorfully wrapped gifts appeared on the table in front of Claire where the food had been seconds before.

Claire’s eyes snapped open at the mention of presents. Claire loved all of her gifts, but her favorite was the one from Roger. It was a small leather bound notebook with her name written on the lower right corner.

“It is so you can organize your thoughts better.” Roger said as he looked slightly awkward, usually he just gave her a packet of chocolate frogs or something like that.

Claire, Traci, and Roger all played a few rounds of exploding snap before heading off to bed. Traci fell asleep right away in the bed next to Claire, but Claire for some reason could not seem to fall asleep. She was tired but unable to cross that final barrier to dreamland.

After what felt like hours of lying in bed staring up at the ceiling Claire decided to go downstairs and get herself a glass of water. Perhaps that would help her to sleep.

Claire started to make her way down the stairs to the kitchen but froze when she heard people arguing.

“You can’t do this. I won’t let you.” Claire heard her mother say.

“Calm down, we had an arrangement.” Claire heard an unfamiliar female’s voice speak up.

“I will not calm down and I don’t care about any bloody arrangement!” Claire knew that it had to be something serious if her mother was swearing.

“Don’t get hysterical mother. You knew this day would come.” Mother? Who was this woman who was calling Claire’s mum mother? Did Claire have a sister? Why had they kept this from her for so long? A million questions raced through Claire’s mind at that moment. She was so busy thinking about all of this that she almost missed what her mother said next.

“Well I won’t let you take her away from me. You can tell her, but you will not take her away from me.” Why was her mother afraid someone would take Claire away from her? No one could take Claire away from her mother. The mere thought was absurd.

“I knew that you would see reason” The sticky sweet voice that Claire was starting to hate more and more answered.

“But you can’t just spring this on her, she is a young girl. You need to be gentle about how you tell her.”

Claire had had enough with playing the guessing game. She wanted to know what they were talking about and she wanted to know now, especially if it had anything to do with her.

“Tell me what?” Claire asked as she entered the kitchen. She stopped short however when she caught sight of the person who owned the unfamiliar voice. She gasped quietly as she recognized the tall brunette instantly. Lavender Brown was standing in her kitchen.

“Claire!” Her mother said, obviously surprised to see her out of bed so late. Her mother stepped in between Claire and Lavender Brown as though that would hide the model slash singer from view. “What are you doing up so late?”

“I was wondering what you two are talking about and I want to know now mum. Don’t beat around the bush; just tell me please, I am an adult now after all.” Claire said as she stood up a little straighter in an attempt to look older and more mature.

“See, the girl has got more sense than you give her credit.” Lavender Brown said as she stepped out from behind Mrs. Bowen.

Mrs. Bowen hung her head in defeat. She knew there was no way of stopping it from happening now.

Lavender Brown took that small gesture as permission to go on. “Claire Bowen, you are more special than you could ever know. In fact, your real name is not Claire Bowen at all, your real name is Clarissa Brown, and you are my daughter.”

Chapter 3: The New You
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This can’t be happening to me. How could my parents do this to me? It can’t be true, can it? No, it’s not true. I’m Claire Bowen damnit!

Claire was lying in bed staring up at the ceiling; she hadn’t slept at all last night. She just kept playing the events from last night over and over again in her mind.

“Claire Bowen, you are more special than you could ever know. In fact, your real name is not Claire Bowen at all, your real name is Clarissa Brown, and you are my daughter.”

Claire stared at Lavender Brown for a moment before throwing her head back and laughing.

“Oh man, you really had me going for a moment there. What is this a birthday prank? Oh it was a good one. I actually believed you for a second there.” Claire said as she continued to laugh.

Lavender Brown turned to Mrs. Bowen with a confused expression on her face. “What did you do, raise her as a lunatic. Look at the child, she is insane.”

“She is not insane!” Mrs. Bowen retorted as she stepped forward and put her arm around Claire. “She is just in shock. I told you not to spring this all on her at once. You need to learn to stop being so impulsive Lavender. Come on Claire, let’s go and sit down. There is a lot of stuff you need to know.”

“Wait, mum, you can’t be serious. This is all a joke, right?” Claire asked as she let her mother lead her to the couch where they both sat down. Lavender sat in the chair next to the fireplace. She flicked her wand and a warm fire began to burn.

“I’m afraid to say that this is no joke sweetie. What Lavender said is the truth.” Mrs. Bowen said as she kept her arms around Claire as a way of trying to comfort her.

“But how can I be her daughter?” Claire asked. “You are my mother.”

“Honey, biologically I am your grandmother.” Mrs. Bowen said. Claire could see the tears threatening to fall from her mother’s eyes. “Lavender is my daughter. She got pregnant with you at a very young age and did not want it to get into the press and ruin her career so your father and I agreed to take you in as our own but we wanted to raise you as our own and so we told Lavender that she was not to try and contact you in any way until you were at least 17.”

Claire was not holding back her tears like her mother was, they were flowing freely down her cheeks. “Please tell me you are joking.” She said in almost a whisper.

“I wish I were honey. I wish I were.” Mrs. Bowen said as she stroked Claire’s hair and gently kissed the side of her head.

“I don’t care what you say.” Claire said as she hugged her mother. “You will always be my mum.”

This whole time Lavender had been sitting by the fire, inspecting her nails, seemingly completely oblivious to what was going on between Claire and her mother.

“So, what happens now?” Claire asked after they had all been sitting in silence for a while.

“We introduce you into society of course.” Lavender said, speaking up for the first time since she accused Claire of being insane.

“Wait, what?” Claire said confused by what Lavender had said.

“Well we need to let the world know who you are of course. Though I do think we will have to fix your appearance first. Your current-er look will not do at all. And of course we will have to change your name back to Clarissa Brown, after all that is the name you were given at birth.” Lavender rambled off.

“Wait, hold on one second.” Claire interrupted. “What are you talking about? Why would you want to introduce me ‘into society’? Why can’t I just keep being me?”

“Well my publicist thinks it would be a good idea for me to announce that I have a child now that I am breaking into the singing business. My listening audience will increase once people know that I am a mother. People will be more sympathetic to me.” Lavender explained.

“So I am nothing more than a marketing tool?” Claire demanded. “Is that the only reason that you even came here tonight? So that you can make more money?”

Lavender seemed to have noticed her mistake as her facial expression changed slightly. “Of course not silly.” She said as she stood up and walked over to the couch where Claire and Mrs. Bowen sat. “I came here because I am your mother and I care about you.” She added as she awkwardly tried to pat Claire on the head.

“Don’t lie to me.” Claire said as she stood up suddenly. “You both have been lying to me for my entire life and I want it to end here and now. You only came here for me so you could further your career. Well I won’t be a pawn in your game of life. I am going to continue going on as Claire Bowen because that is who I am. And I don’t want anyone to know about any of this. And I mean no one. Not even Roger and Traci.” With that Claire practically ran up the stairs and slipped back into her room.

Claire looked over at Traci sleeping in the bed next to her. Claire was jealous of how Traci was able to sleep through the night, unaware that Claire’s life was falling apart around her. Claire wanted nothing more than to trade places with Traci right now. But that was never going to happen. Just like Claire was sure that sleep was never going to happen.

Claire must have managed to fall asleep sometime because when she opened her eyes she noticed that her room was full of sunshine. Claire rolled over and looked at Traci’s empty bed. She knew Traci usually slept in late so Claire knew it must be fairly late in the day. She slowly sat up and climbed out of bed.
As soon as she stood up she had a pounding headache. Claire groaned as she clutched her head and the events of last night came rushing back to her. Lavender Brown was her mother. She was Clarissa Brown. Claire suddenly had a panic attack. If Traci was awake she was probably downstairs, what if she has meet Lavender and the airhead let something slip?

Claire threw her door open and flew down the stairs. She raced into the kitchen where she saw her parents, Traci, and Roger all sitting and eating breakfast.

“Hungry?” Mr. Bowen asked as Claire scanned the room again and saw no sign of Lavender. Her mother seemed to know what Claire was looking for.

“Honey, sit down and have some breakfast.” She said as she stood up and scooted a chair out for Claire.

Claire walked to the chair and sat down slowly. She noticed that Roger and Traci were looking at her oddly. Claire managed to smile at them as she began to put some food on her plate. Claire did not eat much, but she managed to carry on a conversation with Roger and Traci. But all too soon breakfast ended and Roger and Traci had to leave to go back to school. They had only gotten permission to leave for twenty-four hours.

“I am going to miss you both.” Claire said as she gave Traci a hug.

“You should come back with us.” Roger said as he hugged Claire.

“And give up my freedom of being seventeen?” Claire asked as she waved her hand. “Hogwarts is too restricting for me right now. I shall roam free and wild for the next few days and then I will return to the dungeon that we call school.”

“Bye Claire!” Traci said as she stepped into the green flames, closely followed by Roger. Claire sighed when they were both gone. She wished they would never leave her. Their presence meant security; it meant that the topic of Lavender Brown was not going to come up. But now that they were gone Claire was afraid that Lavender was going to pop up around every corner.

Claire slipped outside, hoping that her parents would not notice her and made her way to her favorite tree. It was the same tree that she and Roger were lying under on the last day of summer. Claire wished that she could go back to that day, even if it meant having to put up with Potter. Claire curled up in a small ball between the large roots before they disappeared into the ground.

Claire was perfectly content to stay out there forever, but it was not long before she heard someone approaching her. Claire looked up and saw her father approaching her. He sat down next to her and stared straight ahead of him.

“So I heard about what happened last night.” He said, still not looking at Claire. “How are you taking it all?”

“Honestly? It sucks.” Claire said as she sat up and leaned against the tree, staring straight ahead of her. It seemed easier to talk about if she was not looking at her father.

“I know it must be pretty hard to try and sort out. But your mother and I want to let you know that we will always be here for you.” Mr. Bowen said.

“I know dad.” Claire said as she pulled up some grass and started to tear the blades of grass apart. “It’s just hard to understand. I mean, my biological mother gave me up and then you and mum lied to me for my whole life.”

“Try and look at it from our point of view.” Claire’s father said. “We wanted to help out our daughter and our granddaughter. We wanted to protect Lavender’s reputation and give you the chance to have a normal childhood, something you would never get if Lavender had raised you. Just look at the Potter children.” Mr. Bowen said as he nodded his head in the direction of the fence that separated the two properties. “They have been forced to live in the spotlight and therefore have missed out on a lot of the joys of childhood. Plus your mother and I never expected Lavender to come back for you. We thought that she had left you to be raised by us for good. We never meant to hurt you.”

“I know, but you did.” Claire said a bit bitterly. “And what Lavender did was terrible.” Claire added. “I don’t understand how someone could just give up their child like that.”

“You have to understand where Lavender is coming from.” Her father tried to explain. “She got pregnant with you in the peak of her singing career. She managed to keep in out of the press by claiming that she needed to get away for an extended vacation. She hid out for nine months and at the end of it all she came to us with this baby. She didn’t know what else to do. She was young and single. She was scared of what would happen to her career if anyone found out about you. Plus she was afraid that she would not be able to care for you. We were the best option.”

Claire sat there for a moment, trying to put herself into Lavender’s shoes. It was hard, but she could, kind of sort of maybe see it from her point of view. “I suppose. I mean, I am glad that I have you two as my parents. I just still have a hard time accepting the fact that Lavender just gave me up like that.”

“Do you think you could at least try and give her a second chance?” Her father asked. “She really does want to make it up to you. I know that she may not seem that sincere, but she really does want to try and build some sort of a relationship with you. Just think about it, okay?” Mr. Bowen said before standing up and walking back into the house.

Claire sat outside by herself and thought long and hard about it. Was she going to let the person who gave her up at birth back into her life? The easy thing to do would be to say no and continue on with life the way it was. That was Claire’s original thought. She originally wanted to say goodbye Lavender, hello normal life. But then Claire started to think about how much her father had defended Lavender. If he had cared so much to defend her there must be something good about the woman, right? Claire went back and forth for hours. Finally she stood up and went inside.

Claire found her parents both sitting in the living room. Her mother was reading a book and her father was reading the paper. They both looked up when she entered. Claire stood in the middle of the room and took a deep breath before speaking.

“I have decided to give Lavender a shot.” Claire said. “But you two are still and always will be my parents. I don’t want Lavender to be my mother. I just want to get to know her as a person.”

Both of her parents smiled though Claire noticed that her mother’s smile did not seem as genuine as her fathers.

“That is good to hear kiddo.” Her father said as he set his paper down and stood up to give Claire a hug. “It was a hard decision to make. If you are okay with it, Lavender was hoping to see you later today.”

Claire thought about it for a second before responding. “Okay.”

“Alright then.” Her father said before stepping out of the room, presumably to go let Lavender know that is was okay to come over.

“Are you okay with this mum?” Claire asked her mother.

“Of course I am honey.” Her mother said, but Claire was not sure that she believed her but she let it drop since there was a knock at the door. Claire went to open it.

“Clarissa, darling!” Lavender said when Claire opened the door.

“That was fast.” Claire said as she stepped aside to let Lavender in.

“Of course it was.” Lavender said. “I couldn’t wait to see my daughter.”

“Okay, stop right there.” Claire said. “First off my name is Claire, not Clarissa. And secondly, I am not your daughter. I might be your daughter biologically, but please do not call me your daughter or expect me to call you mum.”

“Of course I would not expect you to call me mum.” Lavender said as she sat down in the same chair she had sat in the night before. It was the chair that was farthest away from the rest of the seats. “It would make me sound too old. No, I think you should call me Lavender, or even Lav, if you like. It makes me seem like a much cooler and more hip mother.”

Claire just raised her eyebrows at Lavender as she sat down next to her father on the couch.

“Now, we have a lot of work to do before the big party on Friday.” Lavender said as she opened up a small book that Claire guessed was her day planner. “Now, that only leaves us three days. It will take a lot of work but I do believe it is doable.”

“Hold on a second there Lav” Claire interrupted. “What are you talking about?”

“It is the annual Remembrance Party.” Lavender said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “It is almost as big as the Potter’s annual Christmas Party. We need to get you ready for your big debut into society.”

“Wait, I just agreed to let you get to know me. I did not sign up for the life of some freak on display.” Claire interrupted again.

Lavender sighed. “Is she always this difficult?” She asked my mother but did not wait for a response. “Look, if you want to get to know me you should get to know what my life is like. And this is what it entails. I promise it will not be all that bad. People will hardly even notice you.” Lavender assured Claire with a wave of her hand.

Claire was not sure if she believed Lavender or not. She wanted to believe her, she did not want anyone noticing her, she wanted to continue to be invisible, she was good at being invisible. “Okay.” Claire said finally. “But even though I agreed to all of this I still do not want people knowing the truth about all of this. When I go out with you I don’t want to go as Claire Bowen. I’ll go by, what did you say my birth name was again? Oh right, Clarissa Brown.”

“That is perfectly fine.” Lavender said. “Now, we have a lot of work to do.”

The next three days went by in a whirlwind. Claire learned the proper way for a young lady of her age to act, or at least the way Lavender told her she should act. Claire also learned a lot about Lavender, Lavender wanted it to seem as if she had always been a part of Claire’s life but had kept Claire a secret for her own protection. It was a lot to take in, but Claire thought she retained most of it.

Finally, Friday morning arrived. Claire woke up dreading the evening. When Claire went downstairs for breakfast she saw Lavender already there. Lavender practically lived here now, she had spent so much time at the house, trying to teach Claire everything she needed to know.

“Oh good you are up. Hurry and eat your breakfast. We still have a lot of work to do before you are ready.” Lavender said as she evaluated Claire’s appearance with her eyes. Claire sighed and sat down to eat some toast all the while Lavender sat across the table, drumming her fingers on the table impatiently.

All too soon Claire finished her toast and Lavender dragged Claire back upstairs. When they were back in Claire’s room Lavender reached into her purse and pulled out several small packages. She pulled out her wand and suddenly the packages grew in size.

“Here, try this one on first.” Lavender said as she handed Chloe a green dress. Claire sighed again and went to go try on the dress.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Claire said as she walked back into the room. The dress was covered in ruffles and frills; it made Claire sick it was so frilly.
“No, I don’t think so.” Lavender said. Try this one on instead. Lavender said as she handed Claire a light blue dress.

Claire liked this dress better but she still was not thrilled about the idea of having to wear a dress at all. She was much more of a jeans and t-shirt type of person. The dress had capped sleeves, a square, neckline and fell just below the knees.

“I am not so sure about this one either.” Lavender said. “Here.” She added as she handed Claire a pink dress. Claire sighed yet again as she went to go try on the dress. “That is perfect.” Lavender said when Claire had reappeared. Claire looked at her reflection in the mirror and scowled.

“It is a far cry from perfect.” She said as she looked at the strapless dress. It came to right above her knees and had so much tulle under it that it flared out almost a foot. “I think I will go with the blue dress.”

“Don’t be ridiculous Claire. This dress looks much better.” Lavender said.

“Are you kidding me? I am not ridiculous, this dress it ridiculous. I mean, just look at it. I wouldn’t dare wear this out in public.” Claire retorted.

“Stop being so difficult and wear the dress.” Lavender snapped.

“No!” Claire said sharply. “I will not make a fool of myself just because you told me to.”

The two of them stood there staring at each other for a moment before they both hollered simultaneously.

“MOTHER!”

They looked at each other with dislike etched in each of their expressions. Claire could not believe that Lavender had the audacity to call her mum mother. She had ignored the Bowens, or rather Browns, for seventeen years. She had no right to still call them Mother and Father. Lavender meanwhile could not believe that her daughter was calling her mum mother. Lavender had tried very hard these past few days to try and reach out to Claire and this was the thanks she got?

Mrs. Bowen walked into the room looking slightly confused. She had heard both of them call out for her, something that had never happened before. When she entered the room she noticed the looks Lavender and Claire were giving each other and knew it was not good.

“What seems to be the problem?” Mrs. Bowen said, trying to ease the tension. This was obviously a mistake as Claire and Lavender both started to talk at the same time.

“She wants me to wear this hideous dress tonight!” Claire exploded.

“I can’t deal with such a stubborn child!” Lavender exclaimed.
“Just look at this dress! I mean Pink? Can you get any more cliché?”

“She promised that she would let me try and she has been fighting me at every step!”

“And look at the ruffles! They are so obnoxious!”

“She wants to wear that plain blue one. This one looks much better!”

“STOP!” Mrs. Bowen suddenly shouted. She had no idea how people could have more than one child. “Claire, honey, do you like the blue one better?”

“Yes, so much better.” Claire said to her mother.

“Lavender, does the blue one not fit?” She asked, “Or is it completely hideous?”

“Well, no, it fits and it looks okay I suppose.” Lavender said a bit dejectedly. “But the pink one is so much better for her big debut.”

“Well, if the blue one fits and looks okay and since Claire seems to like it a lot more than the pink one I think she should wear the blue one.” Mrs. Bowen said.

“Fine.” Lavender said as Claire gave her a triumphant look. “I suppose she can wear the blue.”

Claire smiled happily as she scurried from the room to change back into the blue dress.

“Thank you for being the bigger person Lavender.” Mrs. Bowen said before she turned to leave the room.

“Yeah, whatever.” Lavender said as her mother left the room and Claire reentered. “Here, put this over your dress. We don’t want to mess it up.” Lavender said as she tossed a smock to Claire. Claire obliged and put the smock over the blue dress. Lavender then made her sit down on a chair and began her work.

It felt like a lifetime that Claire sat in the chair, arguing with Lavender about what Lavender was doing to her, but finally, Lavender declared Claire ready. Claire stood up, removed the smock, and looked at herself in the mirror.

“Whoa.” Was all Claire could say. She hardly recognized herself. Her hair was a much darker brown now and it fell in neat curls. For once her hair was not an unmanageable mess atop her head. Lavender had also applied some light makeup. Claire never wore make up.

“Claire, let me introduce you to Clarissa Brown.” Lavender said with a smile.

Chapter 4: Time to Party
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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.

Chapter 5: Deal with the Enemy
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“I can’t believe it!” Traci practically shrieked.

Claire looked across the Ravenclaw table where they were sitting eating breakfast.

“What can’t you believe?” Claire asked her.

“Look at this!” Traci said as she placed down the magazine she had been reading on the table. There looking back up at Claire was a picture of herself. Claire tried her best not to show any emotion but she couldn’t help but let a little gasp escape. Thankfully Traci was too absorbed in reading the article that she didn’t hear Claire.

“Who is she?” Roger asked through a mouthful of food. “She’s cute.” Of course, the one time Roger thinks that Claire is cute she didn’t even look like herself. And now of course Claire looked like her regular, ordinary self. As soon as she had gotten back from the party she had taken off all of the charms Lavender had used to clean up her appearance.

“Lavender Brown’s daughter!” Traci answered. “I told you those rumors about her having a child were true.” This statement made Claire think back to that day on the train when they had met Traci reading a magazine article about Lavender Brown having a daughter. If someone had known back then that she had a daughter would it be possible for someone to know who that daughter really was? Claire started to panic at the thought that she might be discovered.

“Are you okay?” Roger asked Claire.

“What?” Claire asked, forgetting temporarily where she was.

“You look scared.” Roger pointed out.

“Oh, um I forgot about a Ancient Ruins project.” Claire said hastily as she got up from the table and practically ran to the common room.

Okay, you are probably just overreacting. Claire thought to herself. Just because some nosy reporter guessed correctly that Lavender had a child did not mean that anyone knew that Claire Bowen was Clarissa Brown, right? After all, they had taken precautions. Her parents had taken great care to cover the trail that led them back to Lavender and Lavender always apparated right into the house so no one ever saw her coming or going. No, Claire was probably just overreacting, that was all.

Claire looked at her watch and resisted the urge to swear, Lavender had told her that swearing was very unbecoming and that she was never to do it again. Then Claire remembered that before Lavender arrived Claire had a perfectly normal, happy life and she swore aloud before running from the room. Claire practically flew down the multiple flights of stairs as she rushed to Ancient Runes. In her hurry Claire completely forgot about the vanishing stair. Halfway through her decent down the fateful stairwell her leg became stuck in that dreadful step. Claire swore again, now she was never going to get to class on time.

“Wow that was real graceful.” Someone said from behind Claire. She swung her head around and saw James Potter leaning against a wall with an smirk on his face as he looked at Claire.

“Come over here and help me Potter.” Claire said as she struggled to get herself out of the stair. James pretended to think about it for a moment before shaking his head no.

“I don’t think so.” James said.

“The wall can support itself now get over here and help me Potter!” Claire had snapped. Today was not going well and she was still mad at James for what happened at the party. Well, she was actually still mad at him for the incident on the first of September their first year of Hogwarts, but that was a long time ago and she liked to focus on the present.

“Now Bowen, we both know that I can’t help you.” James said as he lazily began to walk a circle around Claire.

“Oh, and why is that?” Claire asked as she raised both of her eyebrows at James.

“Because then it would mean that I was being nice to you.” James explained. “And we both know that we can never be nice to each other because then it would bring chaos to the universe.”

“Stop being so melodramatic.” Claire said as she rolled her eyes at James.

“What’s in it for me if I decide to help you?” James asked. “Because you can’t expect me to help you out of there without something being in it for me.”

Claire glared at James for a while, but then knew that she would never be able to get out of the step without his help. No one else was going to help her out, they were all in class.

“Fine, what do you want?” Claire said through gritted teeth.

James stood back for a moment and pretended to think about it.

“Hmm, this is a rare opportunity.” James said. “I will have to think this over carefully.”

“Hurry up Potter!” Claire snapped. “I haven’t got all day.”

“What?” James asked “Are you going to go and run off somewhere else?” James asked with a laugh and the he caught the murderous look on Claire’s face and cleared his throat. “Right, what I want is simple.” He said. “If I help you will help me with History of Magic.”

“Why on earth would I help you with your class?” Claire demanded.

“Because you are one of the smartest girls our grade and if you don’t agree to help me then you remain stuck here until the next person comes along.” James explained. Claire hated him for forcing her to do this but she had no choice.

“Fine.” Claire said stubbornly. “I will help you. Now get me out of here.” She said as she held out arms towards him.

James took both of Claire’s hands and pulled her out of the step. Claire had been so stuck in the step that it took a lot of force to free her and then once she was free they both went tumbling down the stairs. They rolled down the stairs until they reached the landing and Claire ended up landing on him.

“Sorry” Claire said as she immediately got off of James. “I have about as much grace and poise as a fridge.” As soon as Claire said that last statement James looked at her strangely and then Claire remembered why. She had said almost the exact same thing at the party when they were dancing. She couldn’t behave so much like herself when she was Clarissa, it was too dangerous.

“Have you said that to me before?” James asked Claire suspiciously.

“Oh probably.” Claire said, doing her best to try and act normal. “It is a very common saying, all klutzy people say that.” James looked at her for a moment longer before seeming to accept her excuse. “Aren’t you late for class?” Claire asked James, she knew he was known to skip class but she wasn’t going to let him use her as an excuse.

“Aren’t you?” he retorted and Claire swore again as she looked at her watch. Maybe she should start to listen to Lavender and cut back on her swearing. It actually wasn’t all that often that she swore, it was just today because she was running so late.

James just laughed as Claire swore. “There is no point in you going to class now.” James said. “It is over halfway over already. If you go now you will only get a detention.”

“But if I don’t go won’t I get a detention as well?” Claire asked suspiciously.

“Not if you know how to get around it.” James said mischievously. Claire knew that she shouldn’t ask James how to get around it. She knew she should be rushing to Ancient Runes and apologizing to Professor Bathsheda right now but for some reason she couldn’t get herself to leave.

“What do you mean?” Claire asked against her best judgment.

“Do you trust me?” James asked.

“No.” Claire answered instantly.

“Good answer. Come on.” James said as he began to walk towards a solid brick wall. Claire watched as James placed his hand on one of the bricks and firmly pushed against it. The entire wall jumped back and revealed the grounds. James then walked outside without looking back at Claire. She knew it was a mind game of his, he was so confident that of course Claire would follow the amazing James Potter went. She didn’t want to go with him. She wanted nothing to do with him but she also knew that he was right. If she went to class now she was guaranteed to get detention. James had said that there was a way out of it. Claire couldn’t stand the thought of doing what James Potter wanted, but she couldn’t stand the idea of detention more. So with a sigh Claire went and followed James outside.

“So how do I get out of detention?” Claire asked as she caught up with James.

“Gosh Bowen, don’t you ever relax.” James said as he flopped down in the shade of a nearby tree.

“Around you? No.” Claire said “Now how do I get out of getting in trouble because you refused to help me. That’s it. I’ll go to Professor Bathsheda and explain to her that you kidnapped me and then she will have to let me off the hook. After all you are a raving lunatic.”

“Don’t you ever shut up?” James snapped. “You are more annoying than a bug. And that is saying something since they are called pests for a reason.”

“Well you can’t blame me for being nervous.” Claire said. “You are threatening to ruin my future!”

“Who is being melodramatic now?” James asked with a smirk.

“Just shut up and tell me how to get out of trouble.” Claire demanded for what felt like the hundredth time.

“You do realize that I can’t do both of those at the same time, right?” James asked as he out his hands behind his head and closed his eyes.

“Well right now you aren’t doing either.” Claire pointed out, thoroughly annoyed by his apparent lack of caring about cutting class. Claire had never missed class in all six years of being at Hogwarts, except for that one time that she had slipped and hit her head and had gotten a concussion. And she had only missed class because Madame Patil, the nurse, had forbid her from going to class.

“You don’t get distracted easily, do you?” James asked as he opened one eye to look at Claire as she stood over him.

“That’s why I manage to maintain such good marks in class because I don’t get distracted like some people.” Claire said pointedly. “But it is hard to keep those good marks if I am not even in class.” Why did it have to be Ancient Runes that she ended up missing? Why couldn’t have been Herbology?

“I’ll tell you what.” James said as he sat up slightly. “If you can lay here and relax and not talk about the fact that you are missing class for the thirty minutes then I will tell you how to avoid getting into trouble.”

Claire looked at James for a while not sure if she should trust him to keep his word or not. Ever fiber in her being was screaming for her not to do it but by this point she didn’t have much of a choice.

“Fine.” Claire said as she sat down in the grass next to James. James smiled that annoying smile that meant that he knew that he had won as he laid back down. James closed his eyes only to open them again to look at Claire.

“I believe I said for you to lay down.” James said. “There is no way you are going to fully relax when you sitting so stiff upright like that.”

Claire wanted to protest but she was too far gone so instead she just lied down instead.

“This better?” She demanded.

“Much.” James said casually. The two of them were lying there for a while but Claire couldn’t take the silence anymore. It was unnerving. Whenever she was around James they were always arguing. There was never any silence.

“This is weird.” Claire said breaking the silence.

“What is?” James asked.

“This.” Claire responded. “The two of us lying out here in silence. It is almost like we are being civil to each other.” At this James let out a laugh.

“You don’t actually think I was trying to be your friend this whole time, do you?” He asked her but didn’t wait for her to respond. “I know how much you hate to be so loose and free so this whole charade was just to get under your skin and judging by the look on your face it worked.” James said as he opened his eyes long enough to look at Claire’s furious look on her face.

“You were never going to help me get out of detention, were you?” Claire demanded, James’s laugh was the only response she needed. “I can’t believe you!” Claire exploded as she shot to her feet. “How dare you mess with not only my mind but with my future too? Just because you are James Potter does not mean that you can get away with whatever you want! When are you going to grow up and stop letting your daddy’s legacy give you whatever you want? One day you are going to wake up and realize that you are going to have to work for what you want because the real world will not put up with your attitude like this school does!” And with that Claire turned on her heel and marched back to the castle. She should learn to listen to her instincts more often.

“Where have you been?” Traci asked as Claire sat down at the Ravenclaw table for dinner. “I haven’t seen you since you disappeared after breakfast.”

“It’s just been a rough day.” Claire answered vaguely and Traci seemed to know better than to press the issue. They sat there eating in silence, well Traci ate anyways. Claire was too nervous and Roger wasn’t there and Claire didn’t think to ask about where he was, she was too busy watching the entrance into the Great Hall for someone else. Suddenly Claire saw who she was looking for and shot out of her seat.

“Professor Bathsheda!” Claire said as she reached the Professor. “I wanted to talk to you about class today.”

“Yes, I noticed that you weren’t in class today.” Professor Bathsheda said.

“That’s my fault I’m afraid.” James said, appearing out of nowhere.

“Mr. Potter, whatever are you talking about?” Professor Bathsheda asked as Claire stared at James, terrified that he was about to get her into even bigger trouble.

“I was unfortunate enough to trip and break my ankle. I would have been stranded in the middle of the castle with no one to help me if Claire had not come by at that precise moment. She was in a hurry to get to your class but I begged and pleaded with her to help me. Claire, being the kind person that she is agreed to help me up to the Hospital Wing. By the time that she had gotten poor, limping me, all the way up there your class was already over.” James explained. Claire knew she was doomed. No intelligent person would have bought that.

“Oh well in that case, since you were assisting an injured comrade I suppose I can let you off the hook this one time.” Professor Bathsheda said as Claire stared at her in complete shock. “But don’t miss my class again, I may not be as forgiving the next time.” And with that Professor Bathsheda left and made her way towards the Head Table. Claire turned her attention back to James and glared at him.

“I can’t believe she bought that.” Claire said.

“You had better start believing in the unbelievable.” James said with his annoying smirk.

“Why did you step in for me?” Claire asked.

“I told you I would tell you how to get out of trouble.” James said simply.

“This doesn’t change anything.” Claire said. “I still hate you.”

“That’s fine, so long as you hold up your end of the bargin and help me in History of Magic.” James said.

Claire glared at him, now knowing why he had really come to help her; it was to make sure that she would still help him. Everything was always about what would benefit him the most.

“Yes I will.” Claire said as she turned and went back to meet with Traci who was looking at her peculiarly.

“What was that about?” Traci asked Claire when she sat back down.

“Potter harassed me into helping him with History of Magic.” Claire said bitterly as she piled her plate high with food. Suddenly she was incredibly hungry.

“Potter as in James Potter?” Traci asked. “As in your sworn enemy, never to get along with Potter?”

“That would be the one.” Claire said.

“Oh how dreadful.” Traci gasped.

“Tell me about it.”

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