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Secrets and Lies by Sola Grey

Format: Novel
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 54,831
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Mystery, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Scorpius, Albus, Lily (II), Rose, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Rose/Scorpius, Teddy/Victoire

First Published: 09/12/2010
Last Chapter: 03/09/2011
Last Updated: 03/09/2011

Summary:
Secrets and Lies



My name is Alyssa, Alyssa Leilani to be exact. Only I always hated that name: too strange, too exotic, too plain weird.

But this year at Hogwarts, everything is plain weird, and I just might not be an exception. In fact, I think that not only is everyone else hiding something, but I am too...from myself.

(Albus S. Potter / OC)


Chapter 1: Hogwarts at Last.
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Alyssa's POV
 

 

“I can’t believe I’m going to Hogwarts!” I yelled, grinning up at my mother, who was diligently holding my adorable white barn owl and attracting the stares of more than a few onlookers. She absently tucked a black curl behind her ear.

“Lizzi, hon’, I know – it’s amazing, and it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of,” she said, biting her lip. “Oh, but it’s your sixth year already. I missed everything. My baby’s almost all grown up, now!”

“Mum,” I said, laughing, “I’m only fifteen – I skipped a year, remember? And what are you talking about? I’ve been home every summer.”

The strangest look passed over my mother’s face for a second, but it disappeared instantaneously. I sighed. I was most likely imagining things again.

“You’ll understand when you are a mother,” she said, squeezing my hand. I nodded, not voicing the opinion that I would prefer not to be a mother, at this point, or even get married. Think of the commitment it takes, and it’s not nearly as appealing anymore.

“Alright. So, Platform 9 ¾...where would that be?”

“Right here, sweetie,” my mother said, pointing to a large, brick, and completely ordinary pillar between Stations 9 and 10. “I am a Hogwarts alumnus, after all.”

“I guess,” I said, wrapping my arms around her and hugging her. “Love you, Mum. I’ll see you Christmas, promise!”

“Bye, Lizzi,” she said, tearing up. I watched a silver tear slide down her cheek and held her more tightly. I couldn’t stand to see my mother upset.

“Bye!” I called, letting go and recklessly plunging towards the pillar, taking things at a run. I was at the start of my new life now, going to my new school where I’d be awesome and beautiful and cool...not. It was alright, though. I didn’t care; I was more of a study-a-holic kind.

The strangest feeling accosted me as I rushed through the transcendent pillar with a rush of adrenaline, as if I’d passed a border I was destined to pass. I grinned; this was where I belonged, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and most definitely not Salem High, high school nightmare for any adolescent witch or wizard who:

a) Had anything other than one piece of fruit for lunch
b) Shopped at any place other than Aeromagic, American Owl, Hexerzombie and Witch, or Spellister.
c) Actually studied at school...I mean, who studies at a school? (Yeah, thickheads, that was a little something called sarcasm.)
d) Didn’t have platinum blonde hair that was straight
e) Read more than price tags

And I could go on, and on, and on, and on with the list, but I won’t. Basically, since I fit into every misfit category there was, Salem High was pretty much hell for me. That was one thing I would not be missing about life in the U.S. of the A.

Turning, I saw steam blowing, and only a second later, a huge red and black train pulled into the lot. I stared; it seemed too grand to be real. On the side, the words Hogwarts Express were emblazoned in big letters. Oh my God. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to Hogwarts! The dream of a lifetime was coming true.

I literally ran onto the train, bouncing up the steps one by one and smiling like an idiot all the way. I was possibly the first one on the train, so I picked the compartment with the largest window and stowed my trunk. I was on my way to becoming a great witch! I was drunk on excitement, and I leaned against the window, wishing that the train would just start already.

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but it seemed to be that I’d fallen asleep.

“Oi!” yelled an annoyed voice, stomping towards my compartment. “Every frickin’ one is full!”

“Not this one,” said another, with a heavy sigh. She – I thought it was a female voice – shoved the compartment door open with a bang. I looked up. Standing at the door was a very pretty brown-haired girl that looked extremely surprised to see me.

“Hullo,” I said, waving. I smiled at her invitingly. She looked about my age, and had a pixie-like face: sharp chin, high cheekbones, and cat eyes.

“Hi,” she said, hesitantly. “May we sit here?”

“Sure, no problem,” I said, sliding my purse over to make room on my bench. “I’m Lizzi, Lizzi Leilani.”

“Delilah Patil, and this is my cousin, Thomas Smithers,” she introduced, pointing to a sullen-looking youth of about thirteen or so. “Thomas, say hi to Lizzi.”

“Hi,” he said stiffly, and sat down next to his relative. I gave him a small smile as well.

“So Lizzi, what year are you in? I don’t think I’ve seen you around lately,” said Delilah, twirling a strand of her honey colored hair.

“Oh, I’m new,” I replied with a jolt. “I went to school in the States, Salem High, but I was born here. My mum decided to take me back to complete my education at Hogwarts just like she did.”

“The States? That’s pretty awesome!” Delilah exclaimed. “I have an uncle there. He works for the government there.”

“Not really, it kind of sucked,” I said, shrugging. “But I guess living there makes it much less exciting. What year are you in, then?”

“Sixth year Ravenclaw,” she said, extending a hand. “Hope that’s the house you end up in.”

“I think my mum was in Gryffindor,” I said, nodding and clasping the offered limb. “Ravenclaw sounds awesome, though.”

“It is. Y’know, classes are supposed to be really different this year. We’ve got a new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher.”

“Really? Who?” I asked, having no clue who the previous teacher was.

“I have no idea,” she said, frowning. “It’s a pretty well guarded secret, as far as they go. I think it’s someone important, though.”

I nodded like I knew what she was talking about. “So, who’s your favorite celebrity?”

“Um...” she blushed bright red, and then leaned in as if to whisper a phenomenal secret. “Promise you won’t tell?”

“Promise.”

“Ron Weasley,” she muttered, taking a tentative glance at her younger cousin who was rather determinedly ignoring us. “I love Harry Potter and all, but Ron’s into the Chudley Cannons. That’s, like, fifty bazillion bonus points in my estimates.”

“Falcon pride here, so I have to go with Potter for playing for ‘em,” I contradicted her. “But he’s pretty attractive too.”

Delilah giggled. “It seems like I’m not the only one with a taste for older men,” she said, winking roguishly at me. I snickered, and Thomas passed us a half irritated, half disgusted look.

“Shut up, Del,” he said, chucking a wad of paper at Delilah. She rolled her eyes.

“You shut up, Tom.”

Sticking his nose up in the air in a movement strangely reminiscent of a wet cat, he turned away to watch the trees go by once more.

“Don’t mind him, he’s just a spoilsport,” said Delilah, hefting the crumpled paper and miming a throwing motion when Tom wasn’t look. I giggled. It seemed like I had made a friend on my first day of school.

 

I nervously stepped into one of the carriages that were drawn by horse-like, skeletal creatures. “What are those?” I hissed in Delilah’s ear. She jumped in surprise, her robes billowing around her in the wind.

“Thestrals, but...you can see them?”

“Of course I can,” I snapped testily. “I’m not blind.”

Delilah looked affronted. “Lizzi, you can only see thestrals if you’ve seen someone die,” she explained, giving me an odd look.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

That was strange. I didn’t remember seeing anyone die before, but maybe a great grandmother or something of mine had dropped when I was a baby. I shrugged.

“Can you see them, then?”

Delilah sighed, her face closing off. She tucked her hair behind her ear. “Yeah.”

“Oh.” It was an insensitive question. I was being stupid again. “Sorry.”

We sat in an awkward silence as the carriage rattled forward.

Suddenly, everything in front of me lit up in a blinding glow, and I saw it. The school. It was a huge, huge castle with a thousand glowing spires, mountainous towers, and it was built of grey stone. It was the most beautiful and thrilling sight I’d ever had.

“Wow,” I breathed.

Delilah gave me a small smile. “I think that every time I see it at night, too. It looks like one big star of light, doesn’t it? This is the highlight of my year.”

“It’s – it’s amazing.”

“I know. This is the best place in the world. You won’t be disappointed.” And with that, we slipped out of the carriage and walked towards the place that would be our home soon.

At the door, a rather handsome middle-aged man with dark hair and spectacles greeted us. I recognized him immediately.

“Is that Neville Longbottom?”

“Yeah,” said Delilah. “He’s my favorite teacher. He teaches Herbology, which is a pretty boring subject, but he does it brilliantly.”

“Welcome back! To the Great Hall, please,” he said, gesturing for us to move. For the briefest time, our eyes met, and I could’ve sworn his face was white as a ghost. It was probably the light, I reassured myself. Just a trick of the light.

As I passed him, he tapped me on the shoulder. “I haven’t seen you around before,” he said, smiling kindly.

“I’m new,” I explained. “My mother wanted me to transfer from Salem High to here.”

“Good heavens, is that in the States?”

“Yeah,” I replied, not a little bit sheepish. My new professor laughed.

“Hogwarts hasn’t had a transfer for a very, very long time. If I may, did your mother graduate from Hogwarts?”

“She did,” I said proudly.

“I was a bit shocked to see you,” Professor Longbottom admitted. “You’re the spitting image of her.”

“You knew her?”

“I did. She was in my last year at Hogwarts,” he said, a dreamy look gathering in his eye as he reminisced about times long past. “In fact, we were friends, of a sort. Same house, same year...but I digress. You’ll have to go with the first years to be sorted.” He was all business again. I was stunned and my head was whirling. My mother had been friends with Neville Longbottom? Then she must’ve known Harry Potter...

Why didn’t she ever tell me?

“Thanks, sir,” I said, and moved towards the first years, feeling like a giant in their wake. He winked at me encouragingly, and I nodded. We walked in a single file line, and I could tell I was getting some looks, with my height and all.

As I strode into the Great Hall, head high, chin up, although I was as nervous as I’d been in my life, I noticed that in the center of the room was a dusty stool and an old, patched up hat. I heard some of the first years muttering and whispering next to me.

“My brother said I’d have to fight a troll!” exclaimed a red haired little boy. His blonde friend snorted.

“You listened to him?”

“Well, yeah,” he admitted, chagrined. I allowed a small smile of amusement to show on my face. The stars in the enchanted ceiling – after all, I had read Hogwarts, a History. I’m a bit of a bookworm. It doesn’t show, right? – made possibly the most magnificent sight I’ve ever seen.

Hogwarts was so grand, in comparison to boring old Salem High.

“Welcome, students!” said a tall, wizened old lady, standing up. Her hair was pulled into a tight bun, and her stern demeanor immediately warned me that she was not someone to cross. “Settle right into your seats...and let the Sorting commence!”

Professor Longbottom gave all of us a cheerful grin as he begin reading the list.

“Abbot, Joseph!”

Joseph Abbot, a thin boy with lanky hair, slouched over to the stool. His expression was nothing less than terrified. Slowly, he placed the hat on his head as if he was meeting his doom.

Within half a minute, the hat screamed, “HUFFLEPUFF!”

A relieved grin on his face, he hopped off to join the clapping and cheering Hufflepuff table.

“Adams, Hanna!”

“HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat shouted again.

“Binney, Chase!”

“RAVENCLAW!”

“Botanza, Corey!” A sullen looking youth hopped on the chair.

“SLYTHERIN!”

The table sheathed in green and silver burst into applause as their first new member joined the ranks. A knot was quickly forming in my stomach. What if I was in...Slytherin? I didn’t really mind the other houses, that much. I sort of wanted to be in Gryffindor, like my mother, but I definitely wasn’t brave. Clever, however, I probably could do.

On and on it went. The red-headed boy, Delacour-Weasley, Cahill was made the first Gryffindor, much to his new House’s joy.

Finally, Zabini, Kara, was the last person to be sorted. I felt the butterflies turning into frogs. What about me?

Professor Longbottom nodded towards me. Slowly, I stood up. Confidence, I reminded myself, but it was a failed attempt. My knees were shaking under my robes. Delilah waved at me and gave me a thumbs-up from Ravenclaw table.

“Students, this is Alyssa Leilani. She’s a sixth year student this year. She just transferred from Salem High in Massachusetts.”

The school began to murmur, their voices rising in a hubbub. My eyes darted around nervously to rest, as if magnetized, on a pair of emerald green ones. My voice caught in my throat, and I tore my eyes away. I shouldn’t stare.

Professor Longbottom cleared his throat, instantly silencing the class. “Miss Leilani, is there anything you’d like to add?”

“No, sir,” I stammered, and climbed onto the stool. Closing my eyes, I jammed the head on my head before I threw up.

Oh. A tiny voice in the back of my head was whispering to me now. Clever, this one is. Not without talent, either...a neat ambition there. You have your mother's bravery... Where on Earth am I going to put you?

Not Slytherin, I prayed loudly. I didn’t want to go where all the dark wizards had gone, instinctively. I had hated the house on sight. Gripping the side of the stool tighter, I though again, Not Slytherin.

Not Slytherin, eh? Well, then, better be...

“RAVENCLAW!” the hat bellowed, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Ravenclaw table erupt into cheers. Delilah was standing up and screaming with delight.

At least I wasn’t in Slytherin. I grinned, and walked towards my new house.

The minute I reached the table, my new best friend gave me a tight hug. “I’m so glad you’re in Ravenclaw, Lizzi!” she squealed. “I knew you had it in you.”

A smiling, dark-haired, and pretty darn good-looking boy that looked to be around my own age with a prefect badge held out a hand. “Jason Wells, sixth year, glad to make your acquaintance.” I clasped it. He had a firm, solid grip, I noted, then shook my head. I was so not crushing on him.

“Lizzi Leilani,” I introduced myself. “I know I have a catchy name.”

“You do,” he said, smiling. I felt myself blush. The girl standing next to him a-hemmed.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your love nest here,” she said, making me go even redder. “But I’m Jennifer Wells, his twin sister.”

“Hi,” I said.

Delilah pulled me over to a plump, sandy-haired girl. “Lizzi, this is Yelena,” she said, pointing at the girl. “Yelena, Lizzi.”

“Hi,” she grunted before going back to her food. Delilah gave me an apologetic shrug.

“She’s alright, when she doesn’t have food. There’re about ten people in our house and year right now, including you and me. You’ve met the twins and Yelena already. That’s Pansy Corner and Sam Chase snogging over there, they’ve been together for, like, ages.”

I looked up to see a tall and willowy platinum blonde and two shorter, Barbie-like brunettes.

“That,” Delilah said, noticing where I was looking, “is Sabrina Taylor and her two puppets, Jillian Clymer and Sara Reese. She’s the most popular girl in Ravenclaw house, and also the only one that’s pure evil. You should take my advice and stay out of her way.”

I nodded. I’d had more than enough experience with her kind at Salem High. Then, I watched her walk over to the most gorgeous boy I’d ever laid eyes on. I felt like swooning.

He was tall, and not exactly hunky, but he was still muscular. You could see his well defined chest muscles even through his school uniform. A pair of spectacles rested on his nose, but they didn’t make him look nerdy at all, merely intelligent. His face was so perfect it might as well have been chiseled by a master sculptor, and it fit perfectly with his artfully mussed up black hair.

He was leaning arrogantly against the wall, arms crossed, expression bored, as if he was the most important person in the world. I decided then I didn’t like him. The air between us crackled and fizzed, and I wondered if he felt it too. It was a little weird, and I suddenly felt the urge to grab him and kiss the daylights out of him. I shook my head; I’d never even kissed a guy before!

“Who’s that boy,” or more likely sex god, although I’d rather die than be caught saying that, “she’s talking to?” I wondered. As soon as the words left my mouth, he turned to look at me.

Shit. You could recognize those deep green eyes anywhere. Energy sizzled between us as our eyes met. I tore my eyes away quickly, feeling very hot all of a sudden. Shit. Why the hell did I have to be attracted to him?

Delilah gave him a nervous glance.

“That’s Albus Potter,” she said quietly. “He, Rose Weasley, Lily Potter, and Scorpius Malfoy are the royalty at Hogwarts, and not only because of their parents. They’re all brilliant at magic and amazingly good-looking.” I watched a tall, handsome boy that was almost on par with Albus Potter stride next to him as if he owned the world, assuming the same proud pose.

The two most beautiful girls I’d ever seen followed him. They were both redheads, although the older one, who I presumed was Rose Weasley, had hair in a lighter shade than her cousin, whose own locks were so dark they were almost black.

“They’re the Gryffindor Quartet. Albus, Rose, and Scorpius are all in sixth year, and Lily’s in fourth.” Delilah cast a contemptuous glance at Sabrina Taylor. “She’s been trying to get her hooks into Albus for the last two years. They dated for a month or two, but they broke up really quickly.”

“What was that?” snapped an irate looking Sabrina Taylor in our direction. I averted my eyes. “Did you say my name, Mudblood?”

I saw Delilah’s face whiten. Anger boiled up inside me. My mother had always hated the idea of blood purity, being a halfblood herself. I wasn’t so into it either, and no one, no one, was going to call my friend a Mudblood.

“Shut up,” I snapped back, jumping to my friend’s defense and ignoring Delilah’s stunned look. Sabrina’s grey eyes raked over me in surprise.

“And who would you be?” she asked, venom dripping from her honey smooth voice. Although my heartbeat was racing, I steeled myself reflexively. Wow. I didn’t realize I had this skill.

“Alyssa Leilani,” I said, sweetly. “And I’m just as glad to meet you as you are to meet me.”

Her lips tightened into a thin line, and she had a murderous expression on her face. “Well, well, the Yankee and the Mudblood together. How...wonderful.”

“Actually, I lived here until I was ten,” I said, barely keeping my temper in check. I knew that I had two spots of red blooming on my cheeks, but I didn’t care. “That would make me just as English as you are...if not more so. I’ve always had a gift for languages, and I can hear a bit of Irish in yours.”

She flushed red, and her two clones let out titters of surprise. Ha! I bet she didn’t make that knowledge public.

“Go die in a hole, freaks,” she hissed, her hand reaching for her wand. Just then, a woman with long, silvery blonde hair and large spectacles glided over.

“Everything’s alright here, I hope?” It wasn’t really a question.

“Yes, Professor Scamander,” Sabrina and Delilah said at the same time. I dropped my eyes and mumbled, “Yes, ma’am.”

“Good, good,” she said cheerily, and waltzed away again. Sabrina shot me one more death glare before turning to Albus Potter again.

I’d forgotten about him. He’d been watching the whole time, I realized, and my face flamed red. I’d had a catfight with Sabrina Taylor in front of the entire table, and it was only my first day here!

He was staring at me, looking faintly surprised and very amused. The arrogant bastard was actually enjoying this!

I steadfastly ignored him. “Delilah, could you please pass me the treacle tarts?”

“Sure,” she said. She grinned. “Thanks for standing up for me to that bitch.”

“No problem,” I said, giggling. Whispering, I confided in a mock serious tone, “My old school was practically a kennel. I’ve had plenty of experience.”

She laughed, then turned her gaze to Albus Potter, who was walking away with Sabrina on his heels, very much like a lapdog. We snickered together.

Suddenly, the twins gave a loud whoop together, and the table started clapping again.

“Nice one, Leilani,” said Jason, and even Yelena gave me a wide grin. Pansy Corner, a short, petite girl with a very kind face smiled at me, having broke apart from Sam Chase long enough to watch our exchange. Sam clapped me on the back like an old friend.

“I can’t say I’ve ever been more impressed in my life, Leilani,” he said. I went pink from the roots of my hair to my toes at their praise. I didn’t usually fight with people, but the Mudblood remark had really set me off.

A tall, freckled seventh year came over. I had to stifle a gasp. What was with Hogwarts and its wide assortment of extremely good-looking guys? (And, I supposed, girls, to be fair.) “Alex Kimball,” he said, and I smiled nervously at him. Delilah gave me a knowing look, and I shot her a “be-quiet” stare.

Okay, so maybe, maybe I liked him, a little bit. Whatever. I guessed he was the type of guy I would have dated, if I could ever get a guy to show any interest in me, that was. The cute, steady type.

“Lizzi Leilani,” I replied, wishing my hair wasn’t so frizzy at the moment.

“Pleasure,” he said. “Welcome to Hogwarts, and if you need help with your studies or anything, just let me know, ‘kay?”

“Sure, thanks,” I stuttered, trying to keep my voice even. He wanted to help me with schoolwork!

He nodded at me and disappeared into the crowd. Twenty yards away, I saw Albus Potter’s knuckles turn white. I frowned; did Sabrina say anything to offend him?

Oh, well. None of my business, anyway.

“Alex Kimball talked to you,” snickered Delilah.

“Be quiet.”

“Does she protest too much?” she said to the air. I punched her lightly on the arm.

“None of your business, Patil.”

“Alright, alright,” she said, holding up her hands. “You have good taste in guys, by the way.”

I ignored her. “C’mon, I’m exhausted. Let’s go up to the dorms and sleep.”
 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 2: Nightmares, Duels, and Other Emotionally Damaging Stuff
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Alyssa's POV

 

“Raise and shine, folks!” yelled Delilah, sitting up in the girls’ side of Ravenclaw’s common room. I smiled, stretching.

“Shut up, M – freak,” muttered Sabrina. I couldn’t believe I’d have to live with her for the next year, but there it was, I did.

“Yeah, shut up,” echoed Jillian and Sara. “Shut up, shut up, shut up.”

“Shut up,” Sabrina said to her two cronies, who promptly closed their jaws. Delilah and I snickered, Jennifer moaned, and Yelena muttered something about requesting another dormitory do to health concerns, such as being allergic to a certain blonde.

“So,” I said, sitting up in bed, “what do we have first block?”

“Uh...let me check,” said Delilah, already fully dressed. “Aha! We have double D.A.D.A. with the Gryffindors.” She grinned at me. “Aren’t you excited?”

“You too are freaks of nature,” grumbled Jennifer, finally sitting up. “It’s unnatural to be this cheerful this early in the morning.”

“Good morning to you too,” I said dryly, which earned me a grin from half the girls in the room. I climbed out of my comfortable sheets and slipped into the bathroom to wash up and get dressed.

After taking a shower and putting on my brand new robes, I examined my face in the mirror. My jet black hair was a little frizzy, but not too much. I had a healthy tan from practicing Quidditch all summer, and I’d filled out a bit too, so now I had a few curves here and there, although I was as short as ever. I still hated my strange and almond shaped dark blue eyes, but that was to be expected. As for the rest of my features, I wasn’t exactly pretty, but it wasn’t anything to complain about. All in all, I looked decent enough for my first day of school.

Draping my outer layer over my body, my curves vanished and I looked thinner. Perfect.

Breakfast that morning passed without a hitch. Sabrina kept aiming not-so-subtle insults at me, such as, “I can’t stand hair being frizzy in the mornings,” and, “I think I’ve lost weight over the summer,” but nothing too bad was said. To be honest, I didn’t really mind that much.

Unfortunately, Delilah and I waited forever for Jennifer to change into something clean. Who would have thought Jennifer would be obsessing about her looks?

“What am I supposed to wear?” she wailed from behind the dormitory door. “Mike will be there, and I have to make a good first impression.”

I nodded patiently. “How about those cute, form-fitting black robes I saw you in yesterday?”

“I wore those already! I need something new!”

“These?” asked Delilah, holding up a purple cashmere sweater and a set of sleeveless lavender robes.

“No, those make me look fat,” moaned Jennifer. I sighed heavily as the blonde continued to obsess over outfits.

Twenty different sets of robes, skirts, and sweaters later, Delilah and I had had enough. “Jen, we’re going to be late,” she hissed, sounding enormously annoyed. I agreed wholeheartedly. I would stick up for my friends, but not to this extent.

“Wear the blue robes, already! We’ve already established they bring out your eyes and are totally slimming. What more do you want?” I yelled, slamming said outfit on her bed.

“You really think so? You sure it isn’t depressing – “

“YES!” Delilah and I screamed in unison.

“Okay, okay, guys,” she said, and a good ten minutes later, after she finished doing her hair and makeup and jewelry, we set out from the Ravenclaw common room.

“God,” I groaned, “it’s the first day and I’m already going to be late.”

“Not if we run,” said Delilah, and we sprinted for the stairs to the seventh years’ Defense Against the Dark Arts room. I pumped my legs faster than I had ever before.

We slid into the room just before the magic bell tolled, which locked the classroom doors to all but staff.

Crap. All the threesome tables were taken. I glanced at the board, and read that it was to be boy-girl seating only. Double crap. Sighing, I saw the only seats available were:

One was next to Jason Wells, who was signing something to his twin and making apologetic gestures at Delilah and I. That one was a bust. Moving on to the second: Lance Boot, a Gryffindor I’d spoke a sentence or two last night to, beckoned at Delilah. She blushed bright red and muttered, “Sorry,” to me before hastily joining him. Was there a crush here? Well, I had a bigger problem at the moment. I looked around for the last seat.

The only empty chair left was the one in the front row. Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy were sitting next to each other, joking and laughing. And guess who was next to the empty chair?

Albus frickin’ Potter.

Triple crap. Quadruple crap. Quintuple crap.

His blazing emerald eyes met mine again, and he nodded at me, patting the seat next to him. I flushed. I didn’t even know him, for God’s sake! Why had he saved a seat for me? Behind him, Sabrina Taylor was shooting daggers at me with her eyes.

My stomach was doing loops again. I slowly walked down to the place where he was sitting, putting down my books and supplies.

“Hey,” he said, in a deep, melodious voice. I could feel my heart stop when he spoke to me.

“Hi,” I stammered. “I’m Lizzi Leilani.”

“I know,” he said cryptically. He looked at me as if he knew me, and a not unpleasant shiver ran down my spine.

I frowned. “Have we met?”

He stared at me for a long moment, green meeting blue, and then, finally, shook his head. His voice was expressionless when he spoke again.

“You really don’t remember, do you?”

“No,” I whispered, getting lost in those eyes and their swirling depths. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

A sliver of me screamed in protest. I felt odd, as if I was shattered and then something unexpected had been taped on in place of what I knew was me. What was wrong with me?

He gave a slight nod, then turned away as if he couldn’t stand the sight of me. What had I said?

Where did he remember me from?

And what didn’t I remember?

“Class!” A tall, rust-haired man walked into the room. He looked to be middle aged, but still extraordinarily fit, and not to be the sort for a desk job at all. His light blue eyes peered around the room, and Rose Weasley gave a little gasp of surprise.

I recognized him, then. My head was spinning. Ronald Weasley was going to be our new D.A.D.A. teacher?

Oh. My. God. I hadn’t known I’d be meeting the living legend.

When his eyes met mine, however, he almost jumped, being that startled. I frowned, then realized he probably knew my mother as well. I hoped not all of my classes would be like that.

“Hello, class. I’m Professor Weasley, and I’ll be your Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher this year,” he said with a friendly grin on his face. “A few of you might have heard of me, and a few of you might know me.”

A few? Everyone had heard of him. Delilah tentatively raised a hand.

“Yes, Miss – ?”

“Patil, sir, and, meaning no disrespect, I thought you were an Auror.” An interested murmur went around the room.

“I wasn’t too keen on taking this job, but my wife was desperate to get me off the field, so here I am,” he explained with a grin. “Now back to the subject of Defense Against the Dark Arts.

“I understand you’re all seventh years. That means you’re going to be preparing for your N.E.W.T.S. this year, and you’re going to have to work your bottoms off. I mean it when I say it: there will be no slacking and no loitering. You will work. Is that understood?”

“Yes, sir,” we chorused.

“Good. I believe we will begin with a practical exam on what you know. We will start off the year with a duel. Demonstrate anything you know as you go. Of course, nothing more serious than Stunning. I don’t want to send anyone to the hospital wing on the very first day.

“Pair up with the person next to you, please.” With a flick of his wand and a muttered incantation, all the desks in the room vanished. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Jason, who smiled in a totally cute way, and I waved back at him.

“Sure you want to do this, Leilani?” Albus taunted as he drew his wand. “It might be a little too much for a...Yank.”

I gritted my teeth. He’d been so nice only a moment ago.

“It seems that us Yanks always beat you in war,” I said coolly, drawing my own wand. I was as nervous as hell – I had no idea how to use this thing. Or at least, to duel with it. This wasn’t taught at Salem High.

He glared at me for a minute.

“Begin!” yelled Professor Weasley, and Albus gave me a mock salute, his hand touching his forehead. I scrunched up my face in what I hoped was a menacing look, but I all got was a bark of laughter before Albus Potter’s shot a Stunner at me.

I barely managed to duck.

“What happened, Yank?” he jeered, raising his wand for a second jinx. I wasn’t as lucky with the leg locker. “Too slow on your feet?”

Okay, that was it. Now I was annoyed. This was supposed to be a duel, not a ‘let’s see how much you can insult Alyssa!’ contest. With a strength churned by anger, I broke free of the curse and shot an Impediment Jinx back at him. He moved aside easily.

“That the best you can do? Why, even your mother could do better than that!” he called, and I snarled. No one insulted my mother. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I shot two hexes at him in rapid succession. He avoided them, but not as effortlessly before; surprise showed on his face as began to duel in earnest.

Guided by nothing but instinct, I slipped through his barrage of attacks, all of them ridiculously strong. I knew better than to cast a Shield Charm. For some reason, I understood it what shatter upon impact. The mortar behind me was cracking as I wove and dodged and tumbled with a skill I didn’t know I possessed. I was surrounded in a salvo of light and magic, a net of spells, and still I leapt through the tiny holes.

He had me on the defensive, but I had had enough. With a shout of “Reducto!” I began my offensive.

My body and even part of my mind moved without my knowledge, almost subconsciously, and I could evade every spell he sent and still have time to counter. Don’t get me wrong. Albus was good, amazingly so. He was fast and powerful, but I had speed on my side. We did an elaborate dance, and I almost laughed, it was good and right and natural to, even if I was panting from the effort. Waltzing with him filled me with a sense of elation.

“Impressive,” Albus said, his face flushed. We’d been doing this for such a short time...and also an eternity. The air between us seemed charged with electricity.

Without warning, he sent a barrage of lightning fast spells at me. Time slowed, and I knew this time, I would not be able to escape. Instead, I through every bit of magical energy I possessed into one huge Shield Charm.

“Protego!” I roared, and amazingly, the block of rainbow light bounced off harmlessly. I grinned at him, triumphant, and while he stood there in shock, I flicked a non-verbal Disarming charm at him.

Moving in close to catch his wand, still guided by my subconscious, I whispered a single word to him.

“Checkmate.”

And felt the wand fell into my hand as my fingers closed around it.

“Not quite yet,” he murmured, the corners of his mouth curling up, sending a current and a tingle as his chin grazed my ear, “not quite yet.”

And with that, I was blown across the room and both wands flew out of my hand.

Disoriented as I hit the opposite wall, I had to shake my head to clear it. Professor Weasley began to clap.

“Very well done, Miss Leilani, I don’t know many witches that can stand up to Albus.” I flamed an unflattering shade of bright red as I realized what I had done. It seemed virtually impossible, now that I’d snapped out of the action, and the memory was hazy as if I wasn’t myself. Where had the skill I’d had come from?

Although I certainly wasn’t complaining.

“As for you, Albus,” Professor Weasley said, shooting his nephew a look that said, I’m telling your father about this, Mister, “wandless and non-verbal magic is unappreciated in duels.” A gasp came from the rest of the students.

Dang it. They’d watched the whole thing. I felt myself go even redder than before.

The corner of Potter’s mouth twitched. “She did best me with wands,” he reminded our teacher. “It was a last resort.”

“Mr. Potter, the victory still goes to Miss Leilani, since she Disarmed you...first.”

I snickered at the dumbfounded expression on Potter’s face. “Admit defeat, Potter.”

Surprisingly, he smiled back at me. “I concede, Alyssa,” he said, before walking off just as the bell rang.

 

“You never told me that you were a master duelist!” accused Delilah, accosting me on the way out.

“I didn’t think I was,” I said honestly.

“How can you not? You were totally amazing out there. I’ve never seen Albus Potter have to go full out before on anyone, much less get Disarmed. He’s better than every Auror out there except maybe his father.”

“And you know this how?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. She shrugged.

“My dad’s one. They held an Auror tournament last year. They let the students who wanted to become Aurors enter, figuring they’d get to cream them. Boy, were they surprised when Potter showed up to kick every one of their asses.”

“Oh,” I said, not knowing what to say.

“Seriously, the two of you looked like you were choreographed. I could barely see either of you through all the spells you kept shooting out. It was, like, scary.”

“Thanks,” I said with a wry grin.

Jen appeared on my other side. She punched me lightly on the shoulder, her dirty blonde hair whacking against my cheek.

“That was something, Leilani. I think I’m gonna have to watch my back around you,” she said, grinning at me. “But since Delilah here’s probably already told you how badass you were, I’ll hit you with this one instead: how the hell do you know Albus effing Potter?”

“I don’t. That’s why it’s so effing weird,” I said, imitating her use of the f-word. She grinned at me, then faltered as she began to speak.

“He’s never been interested in any girls before, or at least not interested enough to call them names like you did. And he was soo jealous when you waved at Jen’s brother. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve sworn he was an ex,” explained Delilah.

“No way,” I said. “I have never seen him before in my entire life, with the exception of the feast. And he was not jealous.” My cheeks were burning. Albus Potter, interested in me? No frickin’ way. He was gorgeous, talented, rich, and famous. Plus, his dad was Harry Potter. I was just an average-looking nobody from the States, who he’d never seen before yesterday.

Jen shot me a look. “You should stay away from him,” she said softly.

I frowned. “Why?”

Delilah and Jen exchanged a glance. “He’s hot, but he’s not...nice,” Delilah finally said.

“He’s a bastard,” said Jen angrily, her eyes stormy. She tossed her hair and stomped away.

“What did I say?”

“Nothing,” Delilah said quickly. Her eyes skidded around nervously, and her hands twitched. She leaned in close before she whispered, “Albus Potter’s a bit of a player, and Jen knows that personally. The fact he likes you is...upsetting to her.”

“He doesn’t even like me,” I retorted. “Although you and Lance make an adorable couple.”

“Be quiet,” muttered Delilah, but I knew that she was pleased. I grinned at her happily before skipping down the hall, drunk on the fact that she thought Albus Potter liked me, and also obsessing over why they said he was...not good?

But let me get this clear:

I did not, not, not like Albus Potter.

 


Lessons passed pretty quickly, with Delilah and Jen constantly ribbing me about being the new ‘whiz kid.’ Okay, so I could brew Veritaserum. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard. All you had to do was chuck in three plant leaves and stir counterclockwise, and completely disregard the idiocy of the textbook. I mean, really? Why the hell would you ever chop anything up before tossing it into the cauldron?

But when I told my friends this, they just laughed until snot was streaming out of their eyes.

Charms had been the same way. We were working on Cheering Charms. I was the only one who got mine to work and sent Delilah into fits of giggles, but I had no idea why. All one did was wave their wand randomly and think of a hilarious joke. No incantation needed.

Herbology was a challenge. I’d been mauled by no less than fifteen plants by the time Professor Longbottom finally told me I should probably sit out. I could swear those plants were out to get me.

Transfiguration was easy enough. All we did was discuss theory. Blah, blah, and more blah. Whatever. Flick, wave, pincushion, porcupine! And vice versa, of course, if necessary. Mission accomplished.

Magic was so easy. Unfortunately, most of my classmates didn’t share my view.

“I could hate you right now,” grumbled Delilah. “You ace every single bloody subject and have Albus Potter panting on your heels. You suck.”

“Excuse me? Potter is not panting on my heels,” I refuted quite reasonably. I then pointed to my scrambled assortment of scratches I’d received from greenhouse plants. “And look what I got from Herbology!”

“Stop bringing Potter up!” snapped Jen, looking around as if she was scared of something. Delilah’s eyes widened.

“Oops,” she said before continuing. “Oh, so you can’t do one class – “

“As in, plants wanna murder me,” I moaned. Delilah snickered.

“True. Never mind. You’ve been reaffirmed as not-sucky,” she told me. I high-fived her.

“Yay!” I squealed, jumping up and down like a hyperactive bunny.

Jen shook her head.

“You guys are so weird,” she muttered under her breath. I elbowed her. “Sorry!” she said with a yelp. I shrugged; I did have really sharp elbows.

Okay, yeah, so I’m weird. So what? Big deal. As Alice said in Alice in Wonderland, all the best people are crazy. Me being crazy means that I’m one of the best people. Take that, normal folks.

A nauseating voice rose from the common room.

“Ehmigod!” exclaimed Sabrina Taylor, flipping her oh-so-perfect blonde hair. “Quidditch try-outs are tomorrow!”

“Ehmigod, Quidditch tryouts!” droned her echoes. Jen, Delilah, and I all rolled our eyes. I mean, enough is enough. If I wanted to have so many returning vibrations, I’d lock myself in a valley. Or wherever else you hear echoes. I’m not really good at science, ‘kay?

“Seriously? Quidditch tryouts are tomorrow?” shouted Jen. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“’Cuz you have no friends, loser,” said Sabrina, smiling widely at a chance to insult one of my friends. I cut my eyes at her.

“Leilani, you don’t count as a friend. You’re just a tag-along. And the Mu – “

I was speaking before she could get the loathsome word out.

“I’m a tag-along? Well, then, what do you call your two ‘friends,’ robots?”

She sniffed disdainfully. Briefly, I wondered if her nose would come off if it went any higher, then discarded the thought. Silly me. It was probably super glued on, like her hair. I knew I was being unreasonably petty today, but I couldn’t help it. I had to live with this girl, after all.

“You don’t have any originality, do you, Mudblood lover?” she jeered at me. I snarled and reached for my wand. It was dead silent as I slowly drew it out from my robe pocket, and Sabrina blanched. Good. She remembered what I could do with it from the lesson this morning. Although I wasn’t sure I could repeat the feat, knowing I had kept the reputation was nice.

“You’re just jealous because Albus Potter likes her better than you,” blurted Delilah, blushing red to the roots of her hair. I could tell it was the first time she’d ever stood up to Sabrina by the latter’s shocked expression. I grinned proudly at Delilah, who smiled sheepishly back.

Sabrina stalked away, looking like steam was coming out from her ears. I watched her go without any feelings of regret.

“Albus Potter does not like me, for the last time,” I muttered as Delilah rolled her eyes and Jen looked at me skeptically. I treated them to my very best menacing glare. “And if you mention it again, I’ll hex you two into next week.”

That got the desired effect.

“Yes ma’am,” Jen squeaked, and we all burst into laughter.

 

It was on that particular night when the dreams begun.

----x----

It was pitch black. I couldn’t see a thing beyond the darkness that cloaked my surroundings, as I sat there, huddled and lonely and cold. For some reason, I couldn’t move, and part of my mind was hazy as if I was on alcohol.

The words slipped into my more conscious mind: drugged. Frantically, I tried to get my limbs to agree with me, but they stubbornly refused to respond. I groaned as I lay there shivering.

“Girl, we’re here!” cried a singsong voice. It sounded like bugs and gravel and creepy crawly things. I didn’t know why, but the minute I heard that pitch, I wanted to run and run until I was on the other side of the planet. I bit back a scream, wanting to yell until my lungs burst but too afraid to.

His face appeared before me. I recognized it instantly, even though I’d never seen it before; the tiny part of me that knew I was dreaming had a strange sense of déjà vu. Fear poured into me in great heavy loads as I stared at his leering face. I was terrified like never before...and also, forever before.

“Ready to move, my darlings?” The sunken head with the huge, glassy eyes had no lips, so it was strange how his mouth moved and hissed out noise. “Are you ready?”

I didn’t know why, but the majority of me, which was no casual observer, shook my head. “Never,” I said defiantly in a low voice. “Never.”

“Oh, just the more fun for me,” he crooned. He raised his wand to point it at me, and it lit up with a terrible green light as he whispered, “Crucio.”

Knives pierced against my skin, and fire flowed through my bloodstream. I was burning, burning; I wanted to die. Anything for it to end.

As the clock tolled midnight, four anguished screams rose to join mine.

----x----

I woke up in a cold sweat. My sheets were drenched and I was shivering. Looking outside, I saw that the moon was up; it was still nowhere near dawn.

I sat up and lit a candle next to me. I couldn’t take the dark anymore. It was engulfing me, suffocating me. With growing relief, I watched the flame of light flicker and catch, and my world was illuminated again.

Coherent thought was returning to me. I was deathly afraid at this point. Nothing made any sense. I listed everything strange I could remember that had happened to me since getting to Platform 9 ¾.

First of all, my mother had acted like she’d missed a big part of me growing up. That was strange. I remembered spending tons of time with her every summer, and before I came to school, we were as close as twins. Although it could be that I’d gone to school, I still saw her on weekends since Salem High was a ‘go home on weekends’ school.

Second of all, broaching the subject of my mother. It was strange, how people had known my mother. Why had she failed to inform me that she went to school with my professors?

Next, the thing that puzzled me most. Albus Potter knew me from somewhere. I could see that I’d meant something to him; the hurt in his eyes when he realized he was completely unfamiliar to me was genuine. Impossible to fake. Suddenly, a phrase formed in my mind without any thought before. Faces lie, but eyes tell truth.

Where the hell had I heard that before?

I pushed the thought to the back of my mind. That wasn’t too important.

The duel. I never knew I could fight like that, had never known the elation I would feel at every twirl, swipe, and slash of my wand. Searching my mind, I came up with a blank. I’d never even taken lessons before, never learned to do non-verbal spells.

Then why did I feel like that fight had been a huge part of my life? Why had it felt so right to let my subconscious guide me through the steps?

And last of all, the dream, or the nightmare. It was not a fantasy I felt, but clearly, somehow, I was reliving a lost memory. It was too weird. I would remember if that happened.

So many coincidences, so many unanticipated occurrences. I wanted answers. There were too many for it all to be my mind messing me up. Either something was going on, or I was going insane. It was one or another.

My candle flame flickered, and I almost cried out from shocked surprise. Something was floating downwards. Something feather-light, drifting. I reached out and grabbed it.

It was a tiny piece of paper. What startled me most was the handwriting, the small, neat cursive, the elegant script.

It was my own.

It was a testament to my motor control that I managed to hold the slip up to read it, my hands were shaking so violently. My eyes burned, but I forced myself to comprehend the words.

----x----

August 1st, 2021

Remembrance. Remembrance is like a dream, is it not?

I have the strangest feeling as I forge ahead. The strangest feeling that I won’t make it, whole and alive. Death looms ahead.

I have no choice but to be propelled forward by the waves at my back.

----x----

The rest of the note was singed and burned, and I couldn’t read another word. I shuddered uncontrollably as the words resounded through my head, forever committing them to my memory. It wasn’t right. I didn’t ever remember writing something like that. Was I depressed, and did I forget in the midst of therapy? I didn’t really want to know. The animal in me guided me to put the paper to my candle flame as it turned into ashes. I knew no one should ever read that note except for me.

Hopefully, this would all just go away by the morning. I prayed that it would. But somehow, a sliver of me knew it wouldn’t...a sliver that was repressed because I didn’t want to believe.
 
 

Author's Note:

Tahdah! Chapter 2 is up! Thanks so much to my biffle Candace (I think she's Caelia on the site) for contributing with some of the ideas, hawhaw. I hope you're enjoying the story so far. I would really appreciate some reviews; this is my first story!

~Sola Grey~
 


Chapter 3: Quidditch, Quidditch, and Qui - You get the picture.
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

When I woke up, the sun was barely touching the shining windowpanes, letting some of the light bleed into the dorm. The red curtains of my four poster bed glowed a warm, comfortable orange in stark contrast to the cold shades of the night before. I sniffed my hair and winced as I sat up. I smelled terrible.

Hastily, I stood and hopped in the shower, relishing the feel of cool water running down my body. I was in a bit of a rush, my mind still going over what had happened the night before. I needed to clear my head badly.

Standing in front of the mirror, I pulled my clothes on as fast as I could and twisted my hair into a loose, messy ponytail. I checked to make sure there wasn’t anything on my face or my teeth while I washed up.

My friends were still sleeping. I quietly pushed the door open, wincing as it creaked loudly. Luckily for me, none of my dorm mates twitched, and I managed to slip out of the castle towards the Quidditch field.

It was the brink of dawn, and I’d never seen anything so beautiful as the sight of the glorious, majestic object slipping over the endless green hills, blue and purple clouds lighting the way. I laughed out loud as I hopped on a school broom and rocketed skyward in a jarring ascent, flying laps around the field, feeling the wind brush my hair and blow it dry.

At last half an hour had passed by the time I landed. I groaned, knowing now was when I had to take my quick run. I panted my way around the field once, twice, three times, four times, until I’d done an entire thirty laps, having jogged roughly eight miles. I then set off for my cross country run, forcing my feet to pound in rhythm.

Finally, hot, sweaty, and disheveled, I returned to Ravenclaw tower to take another shower.

“Hola, mi amiga,” Jen greeted me at the door with an outrageously overdone Spanish accent. “Where ‘ave you beeeen?”

I gave a bark of laughter. “I was swimming,” I joked, gesturing to my soaked clothing. She raised her eyebrows.

“Whatever, Leilani. Get in the shower, you stink.”

“’Kay, mum,” I said meekly, hopping into the bathroom. A morning run did make me feel so much better. In fact, I hadn’t thought about the dream at all – whoops. I just did.

Pushing all morbid thoughts out of my head (in fact, it was hard to be morbid when it was so sunny and nice and I was with all of my friends), I randomly pulled on a fresh set of robes and brushed my hair out. Delilah, who had gotten up by now, eyed me with a disapproving gaze.

“You’re wearing that?”

“Yeah, what’s wrong with it?” I asked, looking down at my clothes. They weren’t stained or anything, and were reasonably unwrinkled.

“You’ve been wearing, like, the exact same thing every day. You know that there isn’t really so much of a uniform at this school as a dress code by now? We’re way more advanced than those loons of the 1990s.”

“Yeah,” I grunted, brushing imaginary specks of dust from the folds of the black cloth, “but I don’t dress up for a normal day of school. Those ‘loons’ were sensible people. ‘Sides, I don’t have anything to wear.”

Delilah crossed her arms and pursed her lips, her eyes darting towards her trunk.

“No!”

“Fine, but just you wait,” she grumbled before descending down the stairs with me.

 


“Darn it!” I frowned, glaring at my obstinate flower pot. Apparently, my power boost had been temporary.

“Whiz kid,” snorted Jen just as the bell rang to signal the end of Transfiguration. I slid on my bookbag and rushed out of the room. I had to go all the way up to the seventh floor for Divination...

BAM! I slammed into a tall shape with rock hard abs. A strange feeling shimmied down my spine as I looked up.

Goddamit. My breath caught in my throat.

“Alyssa,” he said in that musical baritone, and I had to shake my head to clear it.

“Potter,” I said coolly as he smirked at me. Behind me, Delilah was giving him the death glare, and Jen’s face had drained of all color.

“Wells, Patil,” he said lazily, and I could practically see anger molecules shooting from Jen’s eyes. If looks could kill, Albus Potter would be lying stone dead in a morgue somewhere right now. I backed away hastily.

“Still shagging random girls in the broom cupboard, Potter?” snarled Jen, looking up and down his unkempt yet amazing appearance. He grinned cockily.

“They were all a hell of a better shag than you,” he said in a light voice, but his eyes were diamond hard and every bit as cold. I shivered, and it takes plenty to scare me. The look on his face did it, alright. What the hell was the history between those two? Unfortunately, Jen didn’t feel the same way; she leapt at him with her claws out and unsheathed. Delilah and I simultaneously grabbed her arms.

“Go fuck yourself, Potter,” I managed to say through gritted teeth as I tried to restrain Jen with all my might. His eyes widened slightly as they settled on me. Green, glorious eyes...

Lizzi!

“Language, Alyssa,” he drawled disapprovingly at last.

“My name’s LIZZI!” I burst out, nearly spitting with gusto, and even Potter backed away in shock at the vehemence of my answer. How dare he? Couldn’t he at least say my name right? And what the FUCK was with this ‘I know you’ Stars Wars drama? I couldn’t deal with this right now. I just couldn’t.

“Woah,” he said, putting his hands up, but I was already pushing past him and making for the nearest empty classroom. I heard something crunch from Jen and Potter’s direction. I grinned. After all, it sounded remarkably like someone’s nose getting broken.

“Hey, Leilani,” called Alex Kimball, and I turned to face him. I was pretty sure I was all blotchy and red-faced at this point, so I don’t really need to mention that I wasn’t too attractive. My hair was so frizzy that when I flattened it, it sprung right back up like a spring.

“Hi Alex,” I said, flustered. I had the worst luck in the world.

“Are you alright? Anything bothering you?”

“No, not really,” I said quickly, touched he was concerned. Impulsively, I leaned in a little and grinned cheekily at him. He seemed to blush a little. I hoped it was a happy blush, not a she’s-such-a-slut blush.

“That’s good to know,” he reassured me. “Wanna walk up to Divination together?”

“Sure.”

 

 

“I hate this,” I moaned to my two partners on a Friday morning. We were sitting in the greenhouse, surrounded by living plants that I would swear were out to do me in. It was a partly cloudy day, meaning it was a little chilly, and the plants were in an especially bad mood.

“Well, you are abysmal at Herbology,” said Jen as she carefully extracted a seed pod from the Vanishing Vines we were working on.

“Thanks.”

“No, really,” said Delilah. “I mean, it wouldn’t exactly be fair if you were THE all star at every subject.”

“I’m only good with theory, and Albus Potter beats me in every class we have with the Gryffindors, and Rose Weasley and I keep tying,” I reminded her. It was 100% true. Since that random and memorable day on which I was totally inspirational in the duel, using spells that I didn’t know existed and doing everything in every other class with a flick of a wand, I’ve been almost catatonic in my studies. It bugs the hell out of my teachers, that I’m back to normal, average, plain-Jane me. They think I’m not trying, even though I swear I am.

“Yeah, but they’re the Potter-Weasleys. They’re amazing at whatever they do.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Well, I think Albus Potter is a J-E-R-K.” I said angrily.

Delilah actually looked dreamy, an expression that one didn’t often see on her face. She smiled at the looming, ugly gray clouds fondly without quite seeing them. “He’s one hot jerk.”

Jen frowned. Satisfied that no one was listening, she leaned in and whispered, “Even though Mikey – “ I wrinkled my nose at the ridiculous nickname – “is the love of my life, and Potter’s the most slimy git ever to walk this earth, he has the appearance of a god.”

“I know!” agreed Delilah, nodding vigorously.

I felt extremely vehement (and not jealous at all) as I said, “Shut up. He’s been insulting me discreetly every single class we’re together in, no matter where I’m sitting. He’s also been acting like I’m an idiot in every class.” Which was totally true. I was, however, omitting the most important thing Potter did to get on my nerves: he was a connection to the dream. The most visible one.

Nothing made sense, but Albus Potter was the only tangible thing. Thank God, my dream hadn’t recurred. However, in the dead of night, I still felt an ominous sense of malignant precognition.

Naturally, I was curious about things. This time I had a deep feeling in my gut to stay far, far away. And I’m not one of those idiot girls who go, “Oh, yay! It’s an old, creepy house with spiders and rotten floorboards and weird noises coming out at night! And by the way, it’s rumored to be haunted...well, guess what? I just had the best idea! I’m gonna walk in all by myself in the middle of the night when it’s all cloudy or when the full moon’s in the sky, without a flashlight, and without telling anyone where I am. Yippee-do!”

I’m not that stupid, jeez. I mean, I am pretty stupid. I know I’m in Ravenclaw, where the wise dwell or something like that, but I’m book smart, and not street smart. I’m like Hermione Granger, only not nearly as pretty or kickass. Unfortunately. She’s a good example, though. I mean, handsome as Ron Weasley is, marrying him after spending over ten years with one another in constant contact is a serious sign she’s not street smart. Stupid in some areas, however, does not equal retarded in all areas.

But I digress.

“So,” I said, not listening in the least as my friends rambled on and on about Albus Potter’s err...assets, or, to be more honest, listening intensely and pretending I wasn’t, “’Sup, folks?”

Jen shook her head at me.

I knew what she was about to say before she said it. Call it Divination, but Delilah and I chimed in right on time as she said:

“You’re so weird.”

“Wells, Patil, and Leilani, are you working hard or hardly working?” asked Professor Longbottom, twirling his mustache. I know the whole twirling of the mustache thing is so outdated, but he’s a pretty cool guy. Apart from the fact he likes these carnivorous plants, that is.

“Sorry, Professor,” we muttered, and promptly began to crush our pods again. Or to be more accurate, Delilah and Jen crushed their pods while I ducked the swipes of a giant Venus flytrap that was snapping at me.

“Leilani!” yelled Professor Longbottom

“Sorry, sir!” I called back, narrowly escaping the monstrous thing’s crushing jaws (I mean, what idiot bred a Venus flytrap with a magical plant?). “I think it might not like me.”

 

 

“Are you sure about this?” I clutched my battered broom, borrowed from the school, so tightly that I was sure I was leaving indents in the chipped wood.

“You’ll be great,” promised Delilah, holding onto her shiny Nimbus 2500.

“You’re not the one that’s riding a branch,” I reminded her nervously. “What if I humiliate myself? What if I fall fifty feet and die?”

“If you do, I’ll cast a Pillow Charm,” sighed an exasperated Jen. I could tell she was fed up with my anxiety already.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

We walked off towards the field, my heart thumping in my chest as I gazed at the crisp green grass and the towering hoops in the sky. I swallowed hard.

“Hey, guys!” yelled Alex Kimball, waving at us from the center of the field through the throng of people. I grinned back at him.

“Hey, Alex!” I called, praying to God to make my voice steady. A happy smile appeared on his handsome face.

“Lizzi! I didn’t know you played Quidditch.”

Jen jabbed me with her elbow. Ouch. She had thin elbows.

“I didn’t, not until now. Decided to have a go.” I held out my broom ruefully. “Although my broom...”

“Isn’t in tip top shape?”

“Yeah,” I said, chuckling. He grinned.

“I’m sure you’ll be great anyways,” he said encouragingly. I gave Jen a pointed stare; this was the kind of thing you were supposed to say to friends when they were nervous. She snorted, then tried to disguise her laughter as a coughing fit.

“I gotta start the tryouts, but good luck, Lizzi!” he said. Aww. How sweet.

“He likes you,” said Delilah, tugging on a strand of my hair. Ow. I winced.

“I would hope so,” I said, frowning. “He’s really cute and nice.”

“And boring,” muttered Jen.

“Is not!”

“Is too.”

Delilah sighed. “You guys have been bickering all morning. What’s up?”

“Nothing,” I grumbled.

“Nothing,” Jen echoed.

“Good,” said Delilah, hands on her hips. I shuddered; she reminded me of my mother. “Keep it that way.”

The sound of the whistle pierced the air, and everyone turned to look at Alex, who was waving a broomstick above his head. He smiled directly at me for a second, and I blushed slightly as Jen chanted behind me, “Alex and Lizzy sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” I looked around to see if there was anyone in particular I recognized, and saw Sam holding hands with Pansy. The two seemed permanently attached at the hip. Jason was hefting a glossy Cleansweep Ten, and, surprise, Sabrina Taylor was holding a shiny new Firebolt. I wanted one so bad right now...

“Look at her broom!” I hissed to Delilah. She looked down at her own Nimbus, then up at the Firebolt wistfully.

“As much as I hate to say this, she’s actually pretty good at Quidditch,” Delilah said in a low whisper. “If she has a broom like that, then she’s in for sure.”

I nodded just as Alex yelled, “CHASERS!”

“Break a wand!” I called to Delilah, who grinned at me and headed off towards Alex with the majority of the crowd.

Delilah flew extremely well. I had no doubt whatsoever she would get on the team; she scored five out of the ten goals all the Chaser wannabes scored altogether. Alex was beaming at her when she landed.

Jen was a pretty good Beater, and she moved brilliantly with her twin, coordinating perfectly.

Sabrina Taylor, a short seventh year, and I were the only ones to go when Alex called, “SEEKERS!”

Alex looked faintly surprised.

“Taylor, don’t you play Chaser?” he asked, his eyebrows flying to hide behind his floppy blonde hair.

“I wanted to do something a little different,” she cooed. I snorted, which earned me a few glares. It was more like she wanted to stalk Albus Potter by going for the same position.

“Alright, then, Seekers, why don’t you start by flying a lap around the pitch?”

Sabrina kicked off first. I couldn’t help but admire her style; she was quick and graceful with her turns. Her superior broom enhanced her ability even more. Looking down at my borrowed one, I was sure I didn’t have a chance.

I straddled my broom and clutched it tightly with both hands, closed my eyes for a moment, then kicked off. I braced myself for the jarring sensation of moving into the air, and...

One word: Wow. I stared at my broomstick as I ascended in the smoothest manner I had ever done. Oh. My. God. From the bleachers, Delilah whistled loudly and mouthed, Go Lizzy! I grinned and jerked my old, battered broom into the sharpest turn upwards I’d ever done before. Dang, but it felt good!

“Alyssa!” yelled Alex, waking me up from my enjoyment, “great kickoff, but start that lap now! I’m timing you!”

I didn’t respond, merely guiding my broom into motion. Never judge a broomstick by its cover: lesson learned. I shot forward like a bullet, the wind whistling through my ears, the trees passing by in a blur of green; I could barely see where the line between the forest and the sky.

It was the most beautiful sight.

You might think, oh, Muggle airplanes can go fast, too. Well, the truth of it is, it’s just not the same. I was right there, on level with the trees, knowing that the slightest brush against one branch could cause a life threatening injury. The risk was thrilling, thrilling as a plunge out of a plane.

It wasn’t even twenty seconds before I pulled in and did an eighty-nine degree nosedive to the ground. Grinning, I shot Alex a look and waggled my eyebrows. Who knew my broom was better than a Firebolt?

He was standing dumbstruck, his jaw gaping like a fish.

I moved closer. “Close your mouth, Kimball.” It snapped shut.

“Wow, Leilani,” he said finally. “Wow.”

The next part passed without a hitch. I caught the Snitch easily, and my slight build and my speed combined with my eagle eye made me, I must say, pretty darn good Seeker material.

“Kimball,” I heard Jen whisper, “if you don’t put Alyssa on the team, I’m going to sue you for premeditated murder.”

He snorted. “Murdering what?”

“The hope of Ravenclaw beating Gryffindor in the Cup!” she exclaimed. “She’s our only hope of beating them. Lily Potter and Rose Weasley are brilliant Chasers, and Cooney’s not half bad, either. Molly and Hugo are unbeatable Beaters, and Cathy saves nine out of any ten shots I hurl.”

“I think,” said Alex, raising an eyebrow, “you forgot their best member.”

Jen smiled crookedly. “I hate that Albus Potter sometimes, hot as he is. Did you hear about that last match against Hufflepuff last year? Caught the Snitch in thirty seconds. That’s a record, even for him.”

Alex’s face fell. “Don’t remind me. Humiliating, our last match against the Gryffindors. 390 – 10 Gryffindors. God, I’m scarred for life from that. And they only took about twenty minutes to pound us into cream!”

“See? This is why we need Lizzy. She’s our best chance.”

I blushed red. They really thought that highly of me? That was so sweet. Aww, thanks, guys.

“Ahem,” Delilah cleared her throat. They jumped guiltily.

“Alright, Ravenclaws!” yelled Alex, puffing into his whistle again. “Thanks for trying out, we’ll let you know the listings tomorrow!”

“You were amazing,” I told Delilah, hugging her as she began hyperventilating. “And you were pretty good too, Jen.”

She smiled at me happily. “Well, I know one name’s on the list, for sure.”

I ignored her as I spotted Alex Kimball coming towards me. He wasn’t exactly killer handsome like a certain guy I knew – didn’t know – used to know? – but he was cute, for sure. He had that surfer-boy blonde hair in a crew cut and lightly tanned skin, with hazel-ish eyes. I could tell he had a little flab around the stomach, but then, who didn’t these days? Wizards didn’t exactly exercise much, if you know what I mean. A spattering of freckles was sprinkled across the bridge of his nose and his thick Beater’s arms.

“Y’know, Leilani, as Captain, I’m supposed to be unbiased until the results come out...but that was some wicked cool flying out there,” he said quietly the moment he was in reach. I smiled widely.

“It’s all cause of this guy. He is so mine,” I said, laughing and palming the broom in my hand. “Think I could convince the school to accept a replacement?”

He eyed the antique without a hint of doubt. “Definitely.”

“Kissing up to the Captain ‘cause you know you didn’t make it, One-Hit-Wonder?” sneered Sabrina, stalking past us. I rolled my eyes; that girl could give a Malfoy a run for his money. Yeah, I’ve seen the pictures.

“Shut up,” Jen, Delilah, and I chorused.

“Awesome job,” said Jason, grinning lopsidedly in an adorable way. “You too, Delilah, Jen.” Jen smacked her brother on the arm.

“I’m last?”

“I meant Jen, Delilah, and Alyssa,” he corrected himself quickly, backing away in fake fear.

Alex sighed humorously and looked at me, his light brown eyes meeting mine. “Hey, Lizzy, wanna talk for a minute...alone?”

My heart was pounding faster than it should be. “Sure.”

“Cool,” he said, leading me to shade underneath a lovely willow tree. I smiled at him, puzzled.

“So?”

“Um,” he said, looking nervous, “well, you might not know this, being a transfer student and all, but Hogwarts decided to do dances every few months to commemorate the Yule Ball they used to hold – I mean, they still hold it, but not for the same reasons – at the Triwizard Tournament. There’s a dance this Saturday, the Opening Gala, and I was wondering if you’d like to go with me – “

“ME go with YOU?”

“Er, yeah.”

“I’d love to!” I squealed. And trust me, I didn’t usually squeal. Not at all.

“Great,” he said, obviously relieved. He grinned at me warmly, and I smiled back. His hand slid into mine. There was no fizz, but c’mon, that doesn’t happen in real life. Only in romance novels. It did, however, feel good. Contentedly, I leaned on his shoulder as we walked hand in hand together back to the group, without a trace of any of the junk that’d been bothering me for the last week.

 

 

“Say what?” shrieked Delilah the minute we were in our dorms. She was practically jumping up and down. “Alex Kimball asked you to the dance?”

“Yeah! I know, I can’t believe it either.”

“That’s great,” said Jen distractedly as she gazed outside the window, scanning for her “Mikey.” She drummed her fingers on the top of her bedside stand. “I wish Michael would ask me already.”

“I’m sure he will,” I reassured her, grinning lightly at her, still euphoric. I was liked. As in, a boy had a crush on me! Sure, he wasn’t exactly super mega awesome hot, but he wasn’t bad material either, and I liked him back. He seemed nice...and this was certainly a step up from Kyle Pien, the Korean nerd who’d been the first (and only) boy to ask me out.

“I don’t know,” Yelena said from her corner in the room by her plain grey spreads. Yeesh, that girl needed to get some color into her very dull life. We all jumped as we realized she was there.

“Whaddya mean?” I asked, recovering from the shock. “He’s pretty great from what I hear. No secret girlfriends, lecherous moments, gayness,” I joked.

“Well, Lizzy,” said Yelena uncertainly, “he just seems like he’ll bore you to death.”

I stared at her for a moment, my jaw twenty feet under the ground.

“No way,” I finally snapped. “I’m not a high-maintenance girl.” And I wasn’t, not really. All I wanted was a cute, steady guy to be my rock in times of trouble and darkness. My mood sobered immediately, although I didn’t know why. Those dreams were a one-time occurrence, and everything else was just luck and coincidence.

Maybe if I said it enough times, I would believe it.
 

 

Author's Note:

Woot! Another chapter up! Hope you enjoyed it and please review.

Love, Sola Grey
 


Chapter 4: Things Freeze to a Standstill
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

POV of Kent Weasley

“Rosie!” I yelled, waving at her and patting the seat next to me. “Over here!”

My cousin Rose grinned at me and tossed her frizzy red-brown hair. “Hey, Kent.”

“Did you see the new orders we’ve had from the kids? Twenty-five different candy boxes, and over thirty orders for my new product!”

Rose rolled her light blue eyes. “Y’know, Kent, Uncle Percy would kill you if he found out you were one of the Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes black market heads.”

I sighed dramatically, but more than a little of it was real. I had a tough time of it, and so did my dad. He was possibly the most uptight guy to have ever walked the planet. Though I did love him, I’d wished more than once he’d loosen up a bit.

“Dad,” I muttered miserably. Rose looked like she was about to nod in agreement, then caught herself.

“Where’s Al?” she asked, noticing the absence of my once-favorite cousin at school – and one of my only male cousins. Only recently, he’d been getting all weird. Like, really weird, since last year. He’d always been a bit moody and brooding, but lately he’d been mysteriously gone just about all the time. And after that – occurrence - last year, we’d been about as far as could be. I frowned.

“Probably still sulking over the new girl, Rosie,” I said lightly. “Don’t snap my head off, now, but I honestly don’t see what he sees in her. Pretty darn average lookin’ if I may say so myself.”

Rose glared at me reproachfully. “Don’t be so sexist, Kent. She’s a brilliant student and an amazing duelist.”

“Discussing the new girl, aren’t we?” came a new voice, and we all turned to look at Scorpius Malfoy, most infamous womanizer (apart from me and Al and James before he graduated, that is) in the history of Hogwarts. “I don’t think she’s bad, not really. Hard to tell with those floppy robes she always has on – “ He shut up under Rose’s look, which strongly resembled Aunt Hermione’s.

“Looks, looks, and looks!” snapped Rose, throwing her arms up in exasperation. “You guys are so shallow.” Whipping one last cutting glance at us, she got up to join her best friend, Casey Gillard.

“What did I say?” asked Scorpius with a look of comical puzzlement on his face. I snorted. Was I the only one who could tell she fancied him?

“I think you made her jealous, Scorp,” I said, elbowing him. He stared at me in bemusement.

“What?”

I did my best not to allow my eyeballs to twitch, but boy, it was hard. “She. Likes. You.”

Scorpius shook his head confusedly. “No f-ing way. She can barely stand the sight of me, Kenny!”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Sorry, Kent,” he said, irritation making it play that he wasn’t sorry at all. “And how did we get to Rose and I from the subject of the Leilani girl again?”

“You remembered her name?” I asked in surprise. She was so average it was painful. Mind you, I was in Hufflepuff, not Gryffindor. Therefore, I didn’t spend much time with my cousins apart from free blocks, like today. We had an unofficial meeting here on the front steps in the open hallway, the Potter-Weasleys, plus the sole Malfoy, every single week.

Only today, Dominique was busy snogging Sterling, Rose was too mad to talk, Freddie was on Prefect duty, Molly was off in the sorority, Hugo was probably in some broom cupboard with Anna Lee, Natasha (Uncle Charlie’s kid with some Russian chick; they live so far away that his wife never comes to visit) was busy in the Gobstones Club, Lily was off lusting after some guy, of which I did not want to know the details, and Albus was off somewhere that I didn’t know, which is what usually happens with him. That left Scorp and I to carry on the mantle of the Potter-Weasley-and-one-Malfoy meeting. And the task of thinking in giant, long, run-on sentences.

“Yeah,” said Scorpius. “She’s got my best mate in pieces. It’s hard to forget her.”

I dropped my pack of Extendable Ears that I had been about to ship in surprise, then bent down and snatched it off the ground, praying no teachers were around.

“What?”

“I know. It’s weird. I think Al knows her from somewhere, but he’s clammed up about it and won’t say a word,” Scorpius said, a little too casually.

“Would never have taken her as a girl Al would fall head over heels for,” I said, trying to remember what she looked like. I came up with thin, delicate features, long black hair, and baggy clothing. Not much to work with, and nothing particularly striking in there.

Scorpius snorted. “Would never have thought Al would have fallen head over heels for any girl,” he snickered. I laughed, ending up with a snotball in my hand.

“Hey, Kent,” said Kristin Crawford, Captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. She was walking up to me, her glossy brown hair falling to her side and her hips swaying. I grinned. Now that girl was h-o-t hot. I wiped the snot on my already stained robes.

“Hey, Kris,” I said, ignoring Scorpius’s amused chuckle behind me. “Wanna go play some Quidditch?”

“Sure,” she said, offering me a hand, and I took hers with my clean one.

 
 

Alyssa’s POV

I filed into the D.A.D.A. room along with the rest of my classmates, and groaned. I would have loved this class had it not been for the fact I had to sit with Albus Potter, mainly because Professor Weasley had made it quite clear that the seats we were sitting in for our first day would be our seats for the rest of the year. Sighing, I stopped to redo my loose ponytail, stalling for time before I had to see Albus again. A tingling feeling, which I dismissed as anticipation – negative, of course – filled the pit of my stomach.

“Shortz,” Potter greeted me as I sat down, a smirk on his handsome face. Yeah, he was hot, but looks weren’t everything.

“Giant,” I retorted. He laughed and I hated him for it.

“Ready to do some serious work today?” he asked me, raising an eyebrow. I rolled my eyes.

“Sure,” I replied nonchalantly, trying to ignore his proximity.

“Class, turn to page 168 of your textbooks, please,” called Professor Weasley, interrupting our little exchange. Thank God. I fumbled for my book, hands groping for the thick volume. As my hands closed around it, my fingers slipped, and the book tumbled to the ground. A crashing noise sent the eyes of the entire class at me.

“Whoops,” I said, face red. To my surprise, it was Potter who reached down and handed me my book. I stared at him in goggle-eyed shock for a second, then shook my head. Manners, Lizzy.

“Thanks.”

“No problem,” he said softly, his expression as unfathomable as always, and I frowned. He wasn’t acting like a jerk for once? Before I had a chance to ask him what he was playing at, Professor Weasley spoke again.

“Does anyone know what significance the charm Expelliarmus has?”

My hand shot up almost of its own volition. Professor Weasley smiled at me.

“Yes, Miss Leilani?”

“Well,” I said, talking fast, “the charm Expelliarmus is more commonly known as the Disarming Charm. It’s most famous for being the charm Harry Potter used to defeat Lord Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts on April 2nd, 1998. However, it also has a number of other illustrious uses, such as by Justin the Judicious in his takeover of the Wizarding State Garnacia. It was a common spell used by Conrad the Conqueror, who defeated the Goblins in their third revolution in 1321. Finally, it is a signature spell of the mysterious Order of the Phoenix, who, after being decimated before emerging triumphant in 1998, became an important branch of the Department of Mysteries.”

Professor Weasley nodded at me approvingly while the rest of the class gave me dirty looks. I shrugged; I couldn’t help knowing all the answers. Rose Weasley looked a bit disgruntled.

“Very good. Ten points to Ravenclaw!” Professor Weasley then slipped his wand out of his plain black robes. He smiled at us secretively.

“I’m assuming my sixth years know how to Disarm already, so I’m going to be putting a spin on this spell,” he said. “One of my very close friends invented it, and I’ve found it extremely useful. Harry’s a genius when it comes to this stuff.”

My jaw dropped along with everyone else in the class, save the Potter-Weasleys. Rose looked vaguely interested, while Potter actually looked...bored.

Lemme explain. Harry Potter is the most famous, most wealthy, and probably most influential as well as powerful, magic wise, wizard in the world. When he was eighteen, he defeated the evilest dark wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort. He’s currently the head of the Auror Department and the Department of Mysteries, and he knows, well, everything, which I’m pretty sure is a new record. So if we learn a spell he invents, it’s a big deal, since they don’t make many of those spells public.

“In this spell,” continued Weasley, ignoring the fact that our teeth were only a centimeter from the ground, “a very precise wand movement is required. Like this.” He swished upwards and flicked sharply. “Some of you may remember that it resembles a Hovering Charm from your first year. Go on, class, try it.”

I took out my old, battered wand. I didn’t know exactly what was in it; all I knew was that it was made of darker wood than any of my classmates and a family heirloom. Closing my eyes, I swished and flicked, the image of Professor Weasley’s movement slowly morphing into my own.

“If any of you were wondering what the spell is for, then I’ll answer your question now. It’s to slow down spells to give you a chance to duck. It’s much faster to cast than a Shield Charm, Miss Weasley,” he directed at his daughter, who had her hand almost touching the ceiling. She blushed to the roots of her hair, making the father – daughter resemblance even more apparent.

“With me: mahetardus!”

“Mahetardus!” we repeated. As I voiced the words, a tingle shivered down my spine and my finger started to glow a bright blue along with my wand. Hastily, I stuffed it under my desk and hid my index finger, which strongly resembled the top of a Christmas tree, with my other hand. I could feel something buzzing and humming underneath the surface of my skin. Most disconcertingly, however, was the fact that Professor Weasley’s eyes were focused on...me. The light vanished.

“Let’s try it. I’m going to aim an Impediment Jinx at Miss Leilani, here, and she’s going to try to stop it.” I gulped.

“Are – are you sure, professor?” I stuttered. I didn’t want to end up Petrified!

“I’m sure,” said Professor Weasley, amusement written all over his expression. Behind me, I heard Sabrina Taylor’s snotty voice whisper, “I bet she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She’s going to need Mandrake Root!”

I blushed crimson, anger turning my vision red. Getting up, I strode to the front of the room and held out my wand. You can do this, I reminded myself.

“Impedimenta!” The red line of light exploded with no warning, and it started arcing towards me. I gritted my teeth and concentrated. If I failed, I would never be able to live this down. My body was tingling and humming again with a strange energy.

“Mahetardus!” I yelled, and my own electric blue shot collided with Professor Weasley’s. A purple knot gathered between the two spells.

At that moment, I couldn’t care less, as I was swamped by a tidal wave of déjà vu.

Professor Weasley’s face was changing, changing into a man with messy brown hair and pale grey eyes. His cruel mouth turned up in a distorted grin as he poured green light at the teal sphere that was radiating. My hand shook, but somehow, I sent my energy towards him to combat his. The part of me that was thinking now had been locked into a cage, and all I could do was scream and rail and fear for my life.

It was just like the nightmare.

 


Sweat poured from my matted hair, dripping into my vision as I pushed, pushed everything I did to stop that light that I understood was the Avada Kedavra from my numerous readings. The man laughed hollowly, jeering.

“You can’t stop me, Alyssa,” he whispered, and I was drawn in like a bug to a net. The brick walls of the alley we were in shook, and mortar crumbled. Fear was blossoming in me, and I heard an inhuman sound while something tore away at my chest and tried to eat out my heart.

“Mahetardus!” I screamed, putting in the last of my magical energy, and the green spell dissolved into nothing, vaporized by the blue. The man stopped mid-word, frozen into position. I slumped back against the brick and felt the familiar feeling of darts pricking my body, my response when I had nothing left. I collapsed inward like a folding chair and sprawled across the floor, unmoving –

 


Cold water splashed onto my face. I blearily opened my eyes and looked into Albus Potter’s eyes and his wand tip. A shadow of what I thought was concern rimmed their green depths, green like the spell that had almost killed me. I shot up straight.

“Get away from me,” I croaked while I backed away, heart racing. He frowned.

“Lizzi.” I barely registered his use of my actual name. “What’s wrong?”

I took a step backwards into the desk behind me, breathing in a deep, shuddering whiff of air. Reality swamped my brain again, and I sighed, feeling normal again.

“Sorry,” I muttered. “I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not fine,” he countered. “You just fainted in the middle of D.A.D.A., for heaven’s sake!”

I noticed that the classroom was empty. “How – how long was I out?”

“’Bout two minutes,” he said grimly. “Not long, but long enough for the news to travel through the gossip grapevine.”

Suddenly, a flaming shape hurled itself at me.

“What – “ it said, between blows at my face, hands, and chest, “did – my – dad – ever – do – to – you – you - BITCH?” The voice of Rose Weasley resounded through my head. I lay there stupefied, not registering her pummeling. Professor Weasley?

Albus grabbed Rose and pulled her off me. She looked hysterical, her eyes red, and I could finally see that Professor Weasley was standing stock still in front of me. He was unmoving and hard as stone.

“What happened to him?” I asked weakly. Albus shot me an odd look from behind Rose’s curtains of red hair.

“You petrified him!” screamed Rose, trashing in her cousin’s arms as he whispered soothing words to her. I cringed as I realized that it might indeed have been me. The vision or hallucination I had had...what was that? Shame and guilt washed over me, staining my deepest feelings. I couldn’t control myself. I was a danger to society.

“What in the name of Merlin is going on here?” Professor McGonagall, the headmistress, burst into classroom backed by Professor Longbottom and Professor Scamander. “I had half a dozen hysterical students screaming at my office entrance that someone attacked their Professor, who can very well take care of himself – “ her gaze settled on the still form of Ronald Weasley. She stopped midsentence, the color draining from her face. Her thin lips formed a small “O.”

Professor Longbottom, however, recovered rather quickly. He swiftly Stunned the struggling Rose, who fell limp in her cousin’s – dare I say it? – strong, muscular arms that showed as the wide sleeves of his robes had been pushed up to his shoulder.

Lizzi! Stop ogling the man!

“Miss Leilani, Mr. Potter?” he said, his voice colder than I’d ever heard it. I swallowed hard and willed my voice to come out. I utterly failed.

Oddly enough, it was Albus who came to my rescue. Darn it. I’ve been consistently thinking about him in first name basis...

“Lizzi tried to use a spell for the first time for a demonstration and she accidentally overcharged it,” said Albus, calmly casting a drying spell with wand.

“Really,” said Professor Longbottom, raising an eyebrow. “And it knocked out the seasoned ex-Deputy Head of the Auror Department?

“Professor Weasley wasn’t prepared for the strength of the spell, sir.”

“I see,” Professor McGonagall cut in. She looked at me sternly, a flicker of doubt in her eyes. “Since it was accidental, and overcharging a spell could happen to the best of students, there will be no punishment. However, Miss Leilani, I would be more careful about knowing my strength if I were you.”

Professor Scamander, a very pretty blonde with wide grey eyes, gave me a secretive smile as she walked out behind the other two.

“Thanks,” I said quietly, watching them walk out. Albus opened his mouth to say something, but I held up a hand. “Look, I don’t get what’s going on, Potter, and I don’t really want to. I really appreciate you bailing me out, but – “

“You don’t want anything to do with me,” he cut in, his voice surprisingly bitter. “I see, then.” His eyes raked over me in disappointment, and for some reason, I felt like a coward. Common sense isn’t cowardice.

“I didn’t mean it that way,” I protested, stepping closer to him. “It’s just that things are so weird. You seem to feel – and I do feel – that we know each other, right? Well, for me, it’s nothing more a feeling. I don’t have any recollection of it. I don’t know you except in my gut.”

He looked at me again in startled surprise. “Lizzy,” he said, his voice soft and knowledgeable, “have you ever thought that sometimes, it’s right to go along with your instincts? Not everything is about brains and calculations. Some things you know.”

“Like what?” I breathed, already knowing the answer.

He moved in, and we were so near each other we were practically touching. “Like I know this is right.”

And quite without warning, without knowing who initiated the contact, I found myself with my arms wrapped around his neck, hands clinging to his hair and pulling him closer in the age old sign of passion. His arm snaked around my waist, and the last thing I saw was the blazing wonder and desperation in his soulful green eyes before our lips fused together.

We fit perfectly, two halves of a whole. My brain felt like it was melting clean through my body, and electricity was running through my veins as every muscle, every cell, every fiber of tissue or organ or hormone rejoiced in harmony. And I knew that this was right too.

Rose Weasley’s POV

Al was kissing her. That was the first thing that ran through my head as I sat up with a groan and a giant headache. He was kissing my father’s attacker.

I ran forward without thinking, a rare occurrence for me, and I pulled back my fist. It collided with the back of the girl’s head, resulting a very satisfying smack.

They broke apart, the girl wincing. For the first time, I noticed that she wasn’t nearly as average as Fred had said. Delicate features, a high forehead, and large navy blue eyes complimented by long black hair and a flawless, milk white complexion that was marred by some up and coming bruises actually made for a stunning close up. As her hands dropped to her side, a bewildered expression formed on her face.

Al was the opposite. Far from passive, he glared at me, anger seeping through his entire frame. I put my hands on my hips and glared right back.

“What the FUCK were you doing kissing her?” I screamed, deciding it was time for some vocal action. I began to voice some very descriptive but most likely anatomically impossible scenarios, gesturing with my hands and fingers. It was a skill I’d learned from Kenny.

“Shut up, Rose, it was an accident,” Al growled, cutting off my stream of curses.

“Accident?” I cried, my voice rising ever higher. I could hear some windows shattering in the distance. “Dad’s frozen!”

“He’ll be unfrozen in minutes. My dad’s got the countercharm,” Albus bit back. I halted mid swear.

“Uncle Harry’s frozen people before?” I managed to ask, my voice a tiny squeak.

“Yeah,” said Albus, the tension leaving his wiry frame. He looked at the girl – what was her name again? Ally? Lily? – in mute apology, which I ignored. She gave me a wary glance.

“I’m sorry,” she said, her lilting voice shaping itself into a strangely becoming half English, half American accent. Funny, I’d never noticed that before about her when she was spitting out answers to questions before I could blink. “I didn’t know what I was doing.”

“You should be,” I retorted, but my voice had lost some of its fervor. Okay, so maybe I overreacted. It had been an accident, and it wasn’t like there was any permanent damage.

Apart from to my cousin’s brain, that was, because if I knew anything about it (and I didn’t just read textbooks), Al had truly gone off the deep end this time...and into this girl’s arms.

Alyssa’s POV

Oh my God. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod. I – I ki – I kissed Albus Potter.

Great. Now is a wonderful time for all the implications of what I did to sink in, after the terrible deed has been done. There are a number of problems, such as:

a) Albus Potter is a jerk who torments me every day.
b) He’s a complete player who shows up with a different girl every week, although I THINK he might have run out of potential girlfriends at Hogwarts and is going on his second round.
c) He’s Jen’s (possible) ex and all my friends hate him to the extreme.
d) All his friends hate me as well, as do his family, if Rose Weasley is anything to go by.
e) I don’t even frickin’ like him!!
f) We’ve been insulting each other since day one.
g) He’s smack in the middle of the freaky stuff that’s been going on since I came to Hogwarts. That just about SCREAMS stay away.
h) This relationship would be really, really bad for me.
i) Because, hello, I ALREADY HAVE A (sorta) BOYFRIEND who I know, like, and could very possibly have a humongous crush on.

And most of all:

j) I’m incredibly, dangerously, and wonderfully attracted to him.

As you can probably tell, I have a problem on my hands.



Rose’s POV

“I’m sorry, Al,” I sighed contritely to my favorite cousin. He shrugged, not looking at me. Wow. He really had it bad for this girl, ‘cause usually, the so-called gentler sex can never get him riled up.

I was sorry, honestly sorry. I might have overreacted a little to the whole thing. I mean, she didn’t seem like the jealous sort that wanted to hex my dad purely for the fun of it. And it was one of Uncle Harry’s spells. As much as I love and admire the man, I don’t like his inventions very much; they usually require an obscene amount of power and skill to be wielded properly.

This was getting ridiculous, though. How many times did I have to tell Al I was sorry?

“I apologized fifty times by now, Al,” I said, exasperation plain in my voice. He ignored me and continued to walk away. I ran after him, pulling on his arm to make him stop. “I said I was sorry.”

He whirled around, and I swore that I’ve never seen him that mad before. It made my blood run cold, the way he was staring at me. He never stared that way at me, not his favorite cousin in the whole wide Weasley – Potter family.

“Rose,” he said, obviously making a great effort to stay calm from the set of his jaw, “I’m not mad at you, okay? I just need some time alone.”

I wasn’t to be deterred, so I held on to his sleeve even tighter.

“Honestly. What’s so special about her that she’s got you in a jam like this? She’s pretty, but you’ve dated prettier before. She’s smart, and she’s a good duelist, true. You don’t even know her, though.”

“Be quiet!” he snapped at me, his eyes glowing. I shrank back slightly. He hadn’t spoken me to this harshly before, not ever.

“Sorry,” he said quickly, a polite and blank look settling on his face like a mask. “I need some time by myself.”

“Ob-vi-ous-ly,” I muttered to myself, watching him go before trotting back to my study session.

 

Alyssa’s POV

“Hey, Lizzi,” Delilah said casually, too casually. I perked up; that tone was dangerous.

“Yeah?”

“Well, tomorrow’s Hogsmeade weekend,” she began, “and I thought we could go shopping...y’know, for some outfits for the Opening Gala that night. It’ll be some great girl time, just Jen, you, and me.”

“Delilah...”

“Pretty please with a cherry on top?” She made her best puppy eyes at me. I groaned. Not the puppy eyes. They worked every single time.

“Fine,” I grumbled, and she shouted with joy and clapped her hands. “But I’m not guaranteeing I’ll get anything.”

“Deal,” Delilah agreed.

That night, the nightmares were back.

---xx---

“Get away from me,” I gasped, although I didn’t have any voice. My throat felt sandpapered by the passage of air. I scrambled backwards, hand turned towards the man holding a reflective sheet of metal in one hand and his wand in another. “Get away from me!”

He grinned, showing his familiar, decaying teeth, his sunken eyes hidden under the shadow of his hood.

“Alyssa,” he whispered, slipping the sheet closer. I didn’t want to find out what it was for. Desperately, I tried to get up, but thorny vines wrapped themselves around my bloody wrists and my bare feet, shackling me to the post behind me. He pointed his wand at me again, and laughed maniacally as he wrapped the foil around me, leaving only my eyes and nose uncovered.

Behind me, a low, keening voice sounded, and I struggled to twist my head to see. I knew that voice. My heart sunk, but my brain didn’t register exactly who it was. Didn’t know.

“Not her, not Alyssa,” it pleaded. It was low and hoarse and male, a scratchy bass. “Use me instead.”

The rat-faced man smiled again, and pointed his wand at the man behind me instead.

“Torturing you won’t get me the information I need,” he whispered, and turned back to me as his wand tip glowed. Slowly, the foil began to glow as well, warming up and heating against my thin cotton nightgown, which was soiled with blood and mud. I flailed desperately, my limbs contorting into a knot as my face twisted in anguish at the overwhelming heat. I was burning. Suffocating in the fire.

-xx-

With a jolt, I woke again. My breath was coming out in ragged gasps and I shuddered with every breath. A strong sense of familiarity enveloped me. Without quite knowing why, I reached out to catch the piece of paper that fluttered down from the ceiling. My heart was racing inside my chest directly in rhythm to the shaking of my fingers.

I struck a match and let the warm glow comfort me.

-xx-

It’s quite strange, imagining how it must feel to walk in a dream, a cage of my own making. If you are reading this, my dear, it’s starting again. I find it odd to think that I would completely forget, and impossible...and I cannot bring myself to write it down.

I had quite a day today. Three assassinations, four kidnappings, that’s enough to task even the most seasoned warrior. It’s past time for me to get some rest.

-xx-

At the part about resting, the handwriting slackened, as if the person writing the note had fallen asleep. I frowned. Assassinations, kidnappings, all that sounded nothing like me. I decided that whoever had written this was my polar opposite and twin.

After a lot of tossing and turning, I finally managed to settle into a dreamless sleep.

 


“You look terrible,” commented Delilah, sitting up in bed. I rubbed my eyes.

“Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep,” I retorted sarcastically. She laughed.

“What, worrying about Alex dumping you?”

“No, of course not!” I sniffed. Jen rolled in her bunk, pulling her blankets over her head. I snickered tiredly.

“You know,” Delilah said conversationally, “there is something called sleep. It exists.”

“You know what? I think I’ll just go back to sleep, then,” I said under my breath, and wriggled back under the covers. I heard Delilah’s snort before she, too, fell back onto her mattress with a thud.

 

Author's Note:

Thanks for reading this chapter, y'all! :) Please drop by with a review, even if it is two words...it shows me that people are somewhat interested in the story.

Love,

Sola Grey


Chapter 5: An Eventful Trip
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“Okay, so how formal is this thing?” I asked my friends as we trudged down the colorful streets of Diagon Alley. Delilah flashed a happy grin at me.

“Semi-formal, I think,” she said, nearly skipping with excitement. “I’m going with Lance!”

“Congrats!”

“That’s awesome!”

“Thanks, guys,” Delilah said, blushing. I laughed. Everyone was so happy today. The dream wasn’t bothering me at all, not when me and my friends had hooked up with our crushes.

“Here we are,” said Jen, pointing to a fancy-smancy looking boutique. I looked up to see a twirling, sequined dress morph into pink curlicue letters in a cloud of white mist. Lavender Brown Apparel, the sign read. Through the window stood various gowns and robes and even a few Muggle sweaters, vests, and jeans, apparently “For your undercover needs.”

“Isn’t she, like, the most famous designer in England?” I asked, recognition dawning upon me – along with the fact that there was no frickin’ way I could afford anything from here.

“Yeah,” Jen said offhandedly, as if this didn’t matter.

“How are you going to pay for her stuff, then?”

Delilah and Jen both looked uncomfortable. “My parents have money,” they finally answered at the same time. My jaw dropped.

“You’re rich and you didn’t tell me?”

“Yeah,” muttered Delilah. “My dad’s an oil tycoon in the Muggle world.”

“My mum’s the Wizengamot Co-chair, with Hermione Granger,” Jen grumbled. I stared at them in shock.

“Are you guys kidding me?”

“We’re still the same people,” Delilah reassured me. “Just with different parents.”

“Well,” I snapped, “maybe you rich folk can buy something from Lavender Brown, but I definitely can’t.”

Delilah and Jen exchanged a glance. “You could borrow money from us.”

“I don’t take charity.”

“Not charity. You’d pay it back with, I don’t know, tutoring and jobs and stuff,” said Jen, looking at me unsurely.

“No thanks. It’s my policy not to spend money I don’t have,” I said coolly. Jen looked away, crestfallen. I sighed; I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings.

“Can we at least take a look?” pleaded Delilah.

“Fine.” Knowing that I would regret it, I walked with them into the shop. As soon as I set feet in the place, I had a strange feeling of being right at home. I frowned. My parents didn’t exactly have money.

“Hello,” said an ultra thin, super skinny woman. God, I hated her on sight. She had the most beautiful gold-red hair, perfect sky blue eyes, and pronounced hourglass shape I’d ever seen. She was so gorgeous it was absurd.

Behind me, Delilah and Jen’s mouths had dropped open.

“You’re Victoire Weasley!” they shrieked in unison. The woman nodded at them while winking at me. I was gaping like a fish. Victoire Weasley was winking at me! She was looking at me!

Victoire Weasley was, like her cousins, both attractive – uber attractive – and smart. The Weasley women were all women of substance. It wasn’t fair, how they were flawless in every way.

Anyhow, she was the living image of what a Weasley did after graduation. At the merry age of twenty-five, she was happily engaged to the handsome Teddy Lupin. Being famous in her own right as the most beautiful witch in the world and related to Harry Potter, she was under a lot of media scrutiny. She had everything: money, looks, and love. Damn her.

I self consciously smoothed my robes and mustered up the courage to give her a small smile.

“I’m Lizzi,” I stammered.

“Victoire Weasley,” she introduced herself, holding out her hand. I shook it. Ohmygod. This was so not real. I was SHAKING VICTOIRE WEASLEY’S HAND! “Call me Victoire, please.”

“I love your photo shoots,” Jen gushed. Victoire smiled politely at her.

“Thank you.”

“I’m Delilah Patil, and this is Jennifer Wells,” Delilah said loudly. I groaned. Rich or not, they had no idea how to act around famous people.

And you do? snickered a particularly cynical piece of me. I ignored it, pushing the snide comment aside.

“Um,” I began, unable to speak. “Um...” Slowly, I focused on breathing.

One...two...three...four...I counted, meditating. Okay, Lizzi. You’re not Lizzi, but Alyssa. You’re beautiful, rich, and fabulous, and you are going to speak to her as an equal.

“Victoire,” I said, taking in the scene again with my best fake-genuine smile and my most impressive snob imitation, “we’re here to shop for the Opening Gala at Hogwarts...”

“Oh! That’s so exciting. Are you all seventh years?” she exclaimed, hand already twitching towards the racks. I grinned.

“Yeah,” Delilah chimed in, more naturally this time. Jen relaxed a bit and smiled too. “We’re all shopping for outfits. This is a big deal, since we’re seventh years, and we get our private dance...”

“You never told me that!” I accused her, whirling around.

“Sorry,” she said offhandedly before turning back to Victoire. She leaned in close and whispered something in Victoire’s ear as if they were best friends. Victoire giggled and snuck a peek at me. Why did I have the feeling I was involved in whatever they were saying?

“Come here,” Victoire said, her long hair swishing as she suddenly stood up, businesslike. We did as we were told. She examined us. “You first,” she said, pointing at me. I gulped and turned red.

“Delilah told me you didn’t like dressing up,” she said by way of explanation. “So I’m going to work with you first. Why don’t we go to the back, and leave your friends there?”

“Uh – “ I managed to get out before I was being bodily dragged into the fitting room. She looked at me with a critical eye.

“Here, put this on,” she said, throwing a simple light colored tee-shirt and leggings at me and exiting the room. “I’ll need to take some measurements, of course.” She was out before I could protest. Not having any other choice, I slid the form-fitting garment on.

She was back in a minute. “Good. Let’s see...petite, you lucky girl. You have great coloring; I know at least a hundred people who could kill for that hair and eyes. Nice features, thin waist and long legs, plenty of curves. You know, Lizzi, I’m starting to feel jealous.”

I gaped at her. Victoire Weasley, jealous of me? No way. She was just saying that to make me feel better. Besides, what she said wasn’t exactly true.

“You can wear pretty much anything, but I recommend showing off that twenty inch waist,” she suggested to me. She was about to hurry off to grab some dresses when I spoke.

“Wait,” I said, steeling myself for her reaction. “Look, Miss Weasley – Victoire – I don’t think I can actually pay for these dresses.”

She stared at me for a moment, and I waited for her to tell me to get out of the shop and stop wasting her valuable time. Instead, she gave me a small smile.

“Thanks for being honest with me, Lizzi. But I think – let me go check something.”

I waited nervously, sitting cross legged on the wooden stool. My hands felt all clammy.

Victoire reentered the room with a cheerful smile on her face. “You’re all set, Lizzi. Your mother deposited five thousand galleons into a charge account for you. I thought you looked familiar...that’s why.”

“Are you sure?” There was no freaking way my mom had five thousand galleons. Victoire frowned at me.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Can I see the charge account?”

“Of course.” She handed me the receipt book.

In thin, curly handwriting were the words:

Deposit: 5,000 galleons

To be used by my daughter, Alyssa Faye Leilani, as she pleases.

~Emily Leilani

My mother’s calligraphic signature was unmistakable. I felt a little dizzy, a bit queer. Why would my mum give me five thousand galleons to be spent on anything I wanted? It was strange – as far as I knew, my single mom who wasn’t even married was not exactly “well-off.” But maybe I was wrong. I couldn’t remember ever discussing money with her.

“Thanks,” I said, giving the pad back to Victoire. She nodded before proceeding to hand me a long, rose colored dress.

“Try this on,” she said. “Now, do you have any gossip about Hogwarts – my cousins, in particular? How’s little Al doing?”

I was sliding into the garment when she called him “little Al.” I smirked; it suited him. Or didn’t suit him so much that I liked it. The guy needed to be taken down a notch.

“Not in particular,” I said casually. “Rose is the golden girl, Malfoy is being...Malfoy, and your sister is snogging Phillip Wood. Oh, and ’Little Al’ is annoying the hell out of everyone, as always.”

Victoire coughed, but it sounded suspiciously like a laugh. She raised an eyebrow at me. “Al’s annoying the hell out of you? I thought he was quite the charmer.”

To my disgust, I blushed furiously. Victoire shot me a knowing look out of those clear blue eyes. I went even redder; I was sure I resembled a tomato.

“He’s a jerk.”

“He can be,” Victoire said thoughtfully. She changed the subject. Well, at least someone had a bit of tact. “Here, this one might be nice.”

I changed into the next gown.

 


Three hours later, I was relieved to have finally been allowed to go. Victoire was great company, but it was more the moral of the story: I was still trying on dresses, for heaven’s sake! I also knew a lot more about the people of Hogwarts. Especially Potter. For some reason, Victoire kept going on about him. Like how his favorite color was green, and how he loved to read when he was a little kid. It was all random, yet touching all the same. I actually almost thought he was a person now.

Never mind. Scratch that. I would never think that, not even if you paid me a million Galleons. Or maybe I would once. But apart from that, nope.

I looked at Victoire’s address, which she’d written on a miniscule scrap of paper and given to me. “Call me sometime, and we can go out for a girls’ night,” she’d said before I left. I’d managed to give her a grateful smile for insisting that the dress was perfect to Jen and Delilah, who weren’t letting up.

“Ohmigod!” Delilah pointed to a small, sensible looking shop in a corner of Diagon Alley. “It’s a Granger!”

“WHAT? Where?” yelled Jen, looking around wildly. I groaned.

“What’s a Granger?” I asked at the risk of seeming like an idiot. However, they were so excited...

“It’s only, like, the rarest dress shop there is. It’s totally classy, and there’s only one in the world at any given time. They keep moving between locations. Everything there is really expensive, but amazing. I can’t believe we saw one!” She began pulling me in the direction of the store.

God, please no. Not more dresses. I forced a smile. “You guys go ahead,” I said, digging in my heels – literally. “I think I’ll take a quick look around for some Quidditch stuff instead.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“Okay, let’s go, then! We’ve gotta get inside before it vanishes!” shrieked Delilah, and they raced off toward the glass door, completely abandoning me. Wow. I love how my friends are always thinking of me. But...this meant I didn’t have to go with them.

Absently, I started walking around and looking for the nearest Quidditch store. I needed to get a replacement for that school broom I’d claimed, and this was certainly an opportune moment to do so. A Cleansweep would do fine; Coach Wood couldn’t complain for sure. What preoccupied me most was what Victoire had told me about Albus. It was funny, but he’d sounded so...utterly, ridiculously vulnerable as a child. So normal.

Like everyone else, he’d had a mother bake him gingerbread cookies, got teased by his older brother, and was stuck with babysitting duty for Lily at least once a month. He’d had a dad who’d hung out and played Quidditch with him, a crazy, wild, and tight-knit assortment of aunts and uncles and cousins. He’d drawn with crayons and had a toy broomstick.

Where had he changed? Why had he turned...well, hard?

Victoire had made him out to be idealistic and naïve. It was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that they were the same person and near impossible to reconcile the two: the playful boy and the cynical, life-can-do-whatever-it-wants teenager he’d become.

I was so absorbed in my thoughts that it was a while before I realized I was still walking. I reassessed my location. I’d gone quite a distance, taking twists and turns, and it was about half an hour later that the creeping tendrils of worry began to find their way into my mind. I was more likely than not lost.

For the first time, I saw that the alley was significantly darker than it had been only a few minutes ago. Grime and dust coated the smooth walls. Shaken, I tapped a witch on the back.

“Excuse me, but where am I?”

She whipped around, her wand flying out the same time as her wispy silver hair escaped from her hood. Bulging eyes and no teeth were her most characteristic features. Her mouth was contorted into a black scowl.

“Knockturn Alley, you mangy cat,” she snapped at me. Under normal circumstances, I would have laughed, but this time I was only frightened. I hesitantly began to back away. I had to get out of here.

As my feet stepped behind me, strong arms suddenly grabbed my biceps. I twisted.

“Well, isn’t this a pretty little thing.” The voice was scratchy, hoarse, mocking. I was one hundred percent sure that it was male.

“Let me go!”

“I don’t think I will.” His free hand began to twitch downwards, moving towards my collarbone.

Okay, that was it. This was assault, for God’s sake. I could feel the grip, and I knew it was going to leave bruises.

“Get the bloody hell away from me!” I spat, trying to yank my arm away. He squeezed tighter. I gasped as I felt my blood circulation cut off.

“Watch it, girl,” he hissed. His other arm, the one that wasn’t holding me captive, began to wrap itself around my waist. I squirmed against his touch. He drew me closer, and his face loomed closer and closer.

Time for some desperate action.

“What do you think you’re doing?” growled a familiar voice that was icy as hell – or actually, icy as a glacier, because hell is not icy. I never thought I’d say this, but, in the middle of kneeing some random pervert’s privates, I was actually glad to hear Albus Potter. Although I’d die before I showed it.

The man’s squeeze on my arm didn’t loosen a notch.

“What’s it to you, rich boy?” he hissed, the stench of his rotten breath wiggling its way into my nostrils and inducing mind-boggling nausea. I was a second away from puking.

“To me, it looks like you’re kidnapping and half throttling some poor girl,” Albus said coolly. I was awestruck by the controlled, calm, and intensely infuriating way he said it. Damn, but that boy was good.

“None of your business, that,” said the freak. His fingers clenched even harder, and I knew my bone was only a second away from snapping.

It was the most stupid, reckless, and totally satisfying thing to possibly do. And it was worth it for the rush of giddy happiness that filled me on completion of my previous maneuver.

I quickly broke free. His fat hands had moved to grasp the area between his legs, giving me ample opportunity to escape. A look of complete shock was frozen on his ugly face.

“Impedimenta!” shouted Albus, and a jet of red light flashed and hit the man with enough force to knock him flat. I looked at him with appreciation on my face.

“Nice one, Potter.”

He was far from amused. His enthralling eyes were murderous, his jaw was stiff and tight, and his hands were shaped into two hard fists.

“What on earth are you doing in Knockturn Alley, Lizzi?” he finally said, breaking the fragile silence between us. My eyes darted around, looking for a way to escape, but there wasn’t one. I sighed.

“I was...looking for herbs.”

“Liar,” he accused, moving in closer.

“Fine,” I snapped, “I got lost.”

“You got lost and then decided to enter some random area full of obviously Dark witches and wizards?” he exploded. I stared at his beautiful face, willing myself to stay calm. It wasn’t working. I was, after, thinking about him when I walked in. It was technically his fault I was lost! But I couldn’t tell him that.

“Why are you here then?” I challenged him, taking a step in to get in front of his face.

“I’m here because I heard you scream from two blocks away!” That was possible...it was a very loud scream.

“And how did you get here so fast, then?”

“I Apparated!” He raked a hand through his messy black hair in adorable exasperation. “Alyssa, if you’d just think before doing, you wouldn’t be in these messes.”

“You think? You think?” I shouted, itching to slap that knowing expression off his face. “I think all the time. I was thinking about you when I was wandering around, you bastard!”

Oh my god. I cannot believe I just said that. And evidently, he couldn’t believe it either.

“You were thinking about me?” His voice had suddenly become very soft, almost tender.

Crap. I could deal with him being angry and mean. I couldn’t deal with him being nice.

“I didn’t say that.”

“Lizzi,” he said, amusement reflected in every line of his face and every vibration of his voice. “You did.”

Slowly, he reached up and touched the side of my cheek, and my heart went bonkers as he did at the simple contact, the joy of touching him. I reached out impulsively and held his other hand, and we glided together, melting and mixing, and solemnly, he kissed me.

Fireworks exploded in my head and I was kissing him back like there was no tomorrow.

 

 

A line of green light missed me by inches, and I broke apart from the kiss. Even befuddled and disoriented, my reflexes could kick in. I let my subconscious take over, and whipped out my wand, because it was very possible there really would be no tomorrow.

Without speaking, we moved in perfect sync. I was strangely whole, not halved. He defended, focusing on Shielding us and dropping the charm at just the right time so that I could attack. I slammed a nonverbal Stunner into the side of a black robed figure and blasted another into the wall so hard that the stone cracked.

I took a rough overview of the situation, knowing exactly what to do. There were about ten figures left, all adults or at least people in their late teens. Strangely, I didn’t find it disconcerting that someone was trying to kill me. It was almost as if I was used to it.

A green jet nearly grazed my side, sliding clean through the Shield. I swore and sent a particularly nasty hex in the vague direction that the Killing Curse had come from. A thud greeted my spell, and I grinned triumphantly. Albus dropped the Shield Charm and we simultaneously began attacking in earnest, rolling and ducking. In what appeared like an eternity but was probably only a minute or two, all of the attackers were down.

I looked at Albus, unruffled by our dueling abilities this time. I didn’t quite feel like me; I was in a dreamlike state, where Potter was Albus and I was a butt-kicking heroine.

“I counted twelve,” I said briskly, my voice all business. Woah, said the disjointed me. I didn’t know you – I – was a professional. “They all look young or in their prime; early twenties to thirties. Roughly reminiscent of what the Death Eaters wore in the 90’s.” I lifted the sleeve of a fallen figure. “No Dark Mark, so probably an independent group; even the wannabes have some kind of insignia.”

Albus stared at me. “Who are you?” he asked quietly, leaning in as if seeing me for the first time. I shrugged, the last bits of the intoxicating blend of unreserved freedom and my subconscious mind still fizzing in my system.

“Problem is, I really don’t know myself.”

 

 

Albus apparently knew a 911-emergency contact number for the Aurors, because within the next five seconds, green-robed men from the Ministry began appearing with a series of pops. A serious looking, bespectacled man walked towards Albus. My adrenaline rush was gone by now, and I was more than content in letting Albus handle the proceedings.

It was a funny thing, but being attacked by pseudo Death Eaters did put a certain perspective on things, like how you and the person saving your life should probably be on first name basis. Especially if you had a snogging session that just about blew your brains out twice already. I don’t think I need to repeat the many things wrong with that bit about me and Albus, though.

“Hello, Mr. Robards,” said Albus, nodding towards the Auror.

“You have an incident to report?” The dark haired man took the scene in stride, not missing a step.

“Twelve wizards. They attacked us...”

“About three minutes ago,” I interjected almost shyly. The man gave me a small smile.

“And you are?”

“Alyssa Leilani, sir.”

“Thank you, Alyssa. Now, the two of you incapacitated all twelve of your attackers?”

A pompous, brown-haired young man stepped out of the neat Auror ranks, his expression condescending. “Sir, this is ridiculous. A pair of teenagers can’t possibly stun twelve adults who attacked them by surprise.”

I bristled, but Al shot me a glance that told me to calm down.

Robards raised his eyebrows.

“Mr. Tenningson, I’m positive that Mr. Potter is capable of such a feat.”

The man’s eyes widened at the use of the absurdly famous surname. Oh, right. It was his boss’s son, too. “Albus P-Potter?” he stammered. I had to hold back a smirk.

“Pleased to meet you too,” said Al, holding out a hand. The man didn’t take it and instead moved back to hide among his colleagues, red-faced. What a wimp.

“Thank you for your report,” said Robards, jotting everything down on a yellow notepad. He nodded to his Aurors, who swiftly grabbed the witches and wizards in unison. With a crack, they Disapparated. For some reason, I thought I saw a purple glow emit from one of the fallen wizards as they vanished. My eyesight was all screwed up, and I shook my head.

“Friends inside the office?” I asked the minute I was sure they were gone. Albus gave me a lopsided smile.

“If you call it that. Walk with me, Leilani?”

A part of me was screaming: you already have a date for the dance tonight! and this is Jen’s ex! However, against my better judgment, I said, “I’m game, Potter.”

We left Knockturn Alley in veritable silence, not sure what to say. It was a little awkward, the situation. My friends pretty much hated Albus Potter, and vice versa. His family pretty much hated me, too.

“Alyssa,” he said, and I couldn’t help loving the way he said my full name, even though it usually drove me bonkers. “Alyssa, you were amazing out there.”

“You were better,” I replied honestly. “I mean, you probably saved my life at least five times.”

“You saved mine at least ten,” he countered. I shook my head.

“No way. You know, Al, the funny thing is, I don’t even remember learning to duel – “

He was looking at me with a combination of surprise and amusement.

“What?”

“You called me Al.”

“Oh,” I said, blushing furiously. “I’m sorry about that whole ‘Potter’ business. I was a little put off with you for a while.”

“I was a right git, wasn’t I?” he asked, shaking his head. “Wait, don’t answer that.”

I laughed. “You were,” I said, giving him a playful push. He rubbed his arm and shoved back. I flinched imperceptibly as the impact hit my fresh bruises.

“Sorry,” he said, seeming rather worried. I guess my twitch wasn’t that imperceptible after all. “May I see it?”

I nodded, pushing the sleeve up. His face whitened slightly. I looked down; a nasty network of hand shaped bruises and lacerations coated my arm.

“Drat,” I muttered. “I won’t be able to wear my dress now.”

Albus gave a short bark of decidedly humorless laughter. “Your arm’s practically black and shredded to pieces, and you’re worried about your dress for the Opening Gala tonight?”

“It’s a really nice dress, and I want to impressive my date,” I bit back defensively.

“You have a date?”

“No need to sound so surprised. You know, I am a girl,” I retorted, gritting my teeth. A fresh wave of pain rocketed through my body.

“Episky.” My flesh tingled as the skin resealed and the bruises vanished, and I nodded appreciatively.

“You know, Leilani, I don’t get you,” Albus said, frowning. He sounded nonchalant, and I would have believed it, if he wasn’t clutching his wand so hard his knuckles were snow white. “First you snog the daylights out of me, then you tell me you have a boyfriend.”

“He’s not a boyfriend.”

“Then what is he?” he challenged. I goggled at him. Was he actually romantically interested in me? No way. He was gorgeous, rich, and brilliant Albus Potter, and I was...well, me.

“He’s – I don’t know. It’s a one time thing. It isn’t like anyone else asked me.”

“So you’re essentially single, then.”

“Yes,” I confirmed, wondering where he was going with this. A bulb seemed to flash in his head as Albus grinned mischievously at me, his handsome face lighting up.

“Good. That means I can ask you out, right?”

“What?”

He rolled his eyes.

“Will. You. Go. Out. With. Me?”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Albus frickin’ Potter was asking me out! I swear I started hyperventilating. My heart was pounding Al-bus, Al-bus, and I was hopelessly dizzy with joy.

Look, it’s all hormones. Hormones. They’re the best possible thing to blame irresponsible actions on. And I’m going to blame my irresponsible, crazy, absolutely insane action on the hormones and Albus Potter’s proximity as well, because my mouth was shaping a word and my throat vibrating before I knew it.

“Yes.” With that, my fate was sealed.

 

Author's Note:

Okay, before you brush this off as some more meaningless junk from me, PLEASE READ.

It wasn't until this morning that, when rereading the stuff I've already written, I realized I made a gaping plot error that I'm not going to specify, probably due to the fact it becomes a spoiler if you notice it too much. So, I'm resubmitting said chaper a.s.a.p. Hope you don't hold it against me.

Whew. That's done...you can read or skip this part, your choice. :D I would like to apologize for the long time in between this chapter and the last, got caught up with tests and projects being due. Thanks for reading!

*Note: To all the people who actually care, a Granger store is a clothing line founded by Hermione's mum, not her. I'm not going write Hermione so out of character as to have her in a fashion competition with Lavender Brown.

Love,

Sola Grey


Chapter 6: Not for the Faint-hearted
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“Wait, hold up. So you’re telling me this: you went dress shopping with Jen and Delilah, met Victoire Weasley, found out you’re filthy rich, and got lost alone in Knockturn Alley of all places. Then, you got almost sexually assaulted, got saved by your knight in shining armor who just happens to be Albus Potter, are attacked by twelve different Dark Wizards, and manage to knock all of them out with only the help of a fellow student?”

Yelena held up a hand to quell my protest. “And I haven’t even mentioned the part about the fact that you’re going to the dance with freakishly boring Alex Kimball and dating hottie ALBUS POTTER at the same time?”

“Yes,” I said meekly.

“Dammit, Lizzi, dump Alex already!” she yelled, jumping up and down on my bed. My jaw dropped all the way to China.

“That’s what you’re concerned about? I was almost raped and murdered by two different sets of people, and what you care about is ME DUMPING ALEX KIMBALL?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” she said offhandedly. I rolled my eyes as I deflated.

“You know, for a sensible person, Yelena, you’re surprisingly boy-oriented.”

“I never said I was sensible.”

“Whatever. I have to get ready for the dance.”

In a huff, I exited the room and made for my newly delivered dress. It was a jet black halter top, almost goth, but perfect for a night spent waltzing in an old castle with a guy in a tux. Most of it was silk and tulle, with some light, soft, and semi-transparent material I didn’t know the name of floating around my shoulders and hips. The skirt was flatteringly cut and poofed outwards to cut off at the knee. I’d paired the dress with the sapphire hair clips I’d received for my fifteenth birthday and a newly bought silver necklace and earrings set I’d found on sale.

I didn’t wear makeup very often, unlike so many of the girls that did every day, but today I wanted to make sure I looked especially good. Dipping my brush into the mascara, I traced a very light line around my eyes and dabbed on a bit of pink lip gloss before pulling my cascading curls up into an elegant French twist. Perfect. I turned to admire my reflection in the mirror, then sat to wait for Jen and Delilah to arrive.

Kent Weasley’s POV

My date, some brainless Barbie doll friend of Sabrina’s, flipped her long brown hair and pulled the corners of her bright red lips into what was meant to be an inviting smile at me. It looked overdone and pure slutty instead.

Well, not all of us can pick and choose from the cream of the crop like Al.

Overhead, streamers twirled and magic fog was pumped from the ceiling. Couples spun across the dance floor, and the grand staircase was lit up with names as each student entered the room. Right now, some chick called Jennifer Wells was climbing down in a dress that was so tight it looked as if it would fall apart any second. She did, however, have nice boobs.

“Come dance, please?” begged whatever her name was. I shrugged.

“Naw,” I said, eyeing the stairs. Where the heck was Al?

 


Alyssa’s POV

I took a deep breath. This was the first time the school was really going to see me, when I walked down that staircase. I had to take a deep breath to calm my quivering knees. Damn it.

Straightening my skirt, I closed my eyes for a moment. It was now or never. I was feeling sick under the bright blue lights and surrounded by the quiet, classical music. Heat was flooding through my body, but I forced myself to step into view of the whole school anyways.

For some weird reason, people were whispering. Then, one by one, heads turned until everyone was staring up at me. I smiled uncertainly as I made my feet move. Was something wrong? Did I have a stain on my dress or a giant zit? Step, step, step.

Alex was there to greet me as I descended. His light brown eyes bulged out in a very flattering way – for me, not for him. “You look great.”

“Thanks,” I said nervously. A wave of guilt assuaged me. I was dating Albus but going to the dance with Alex? I couldn’t do this.

“Wanna dance?”

“Um, Alex,” I said quietly, intending to say that I had another date for the dance.

“Cool,” he interrupted, grabbing my arm and almost dragging me onto the floor. I frowned; I hadn’t even agreed yet!

“Alex, I’d rather not dance,” I whispered as we began to waltz with the other couples. He looked at me with a questioning glance.

“I’m a little tired,” I lied.

“No, you look fine,” he said, ignoring my comment. I stared at him.

“I said I was tired.”

“Just keep up with me. We look good together.”

Excuse me?

“I don’t think I’m up to it. I had a really long day – “

“Dance!” he snapped at me. I felt it physically as he pushed my anger button. Any guilt that I’d had vanished.

“No.” Wow, what a brilliant retort. I took one more look at Alex Kimball: his crew cut, light brown eyes, and deep tan. He was handsome, but he was also a right git.

“Shut up.”

I gaped at him, whatever words of apology I was about to say forgotten. Did he just tell me to shut up? Like, seriously? I didn’t take that from anyone. Not even cute Alex Kimball. I snuck a furtive peek around to see if anyone was watching: no one was. Reassured, I made laser eyes at him.

“No frickin’ way, Kimball. We’re through.”

His hand tightened around my wrist.

“We’re not, Leilani,” he sneered, his face becoming significantly nastier. I bit my lip to stop tears from falling out of my eyes. Of all the boys in the school, the passive-aggressive abuse specialist had to ask me out. Stupid, stupid guys! And...was that alcohol I smelled?

“I want you to remove your hand right now,” I said with all the coldness I could muster. Even I was impressed at the chill that crept out of my mouth. He squeezed again, leaving white marks where his fingers were. For the first time, I realized he had fat fingers with short, stubby fingernails. Eww.

“Don’t cause a scene,” he muttered, drawing me close. I tried to back away, but he was far stronger than me, muscle wise. My left hand crept to my wand and I stroked it to reassure myself that I could always hex him if I couldn’t convince him to get the hell away from me.

“Stop it, please, Alex.”

“You stop being a bitch!” he yelled, causing several heads to turn and stare at the two of us. His face was contorted into a snarl, and he looked rather vicious; I couldn’t blame the witnesses for being intrigued. Unfortunately, I was not so amiable. In fact, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He called me a bitch. He. Called. Me. A. Bitch. In front of the whole, damned school. I hissed, ready for some serious wand action.

“What the fuck is going on here?” called a deep tenor. A tall, attractive redhead walked over, his pale blue eyes moving approvingly over me. I scowled at him.

“Nothing you need to care about.”

He ignored me. “Kimball, I believe the lady asked you to restrain yourself,” he said in a mocking voice, facing off with Alex. The stiff postures of the two implied rivalry or dislike of some sort.

At the moment I was rather inclined to side with the redhead, so I decided to smirk at Kimball instead. Yeah, he’d been demoted from Alex for being a stupid, groping drunkard.

“Shut up, Weasley.”

Woah, a Potter-Weasley? Fighting Alex Kimball over me? This wasn’t good. A guy fighting over me in any shape or form wasn’t good. But yet...it was doing a great job of bolstering my self confidance.

“Thanks, Weasley, but I can handle the juiced one myself,” I said, pseudo calmly. Weasley turned to stare.

“What’s your name again?” The nerve of the arrogant prat! He didn’t even know my bloody name!

“Does it really matter?” I barked angrily. By now, I was positively fuming. I was surprised smoke wasn’t emitting from my ears at the moment. The git(s) were ruining my first night at a real dance! “Kimball, Weasley, if both of you don’t get out of my sight A.S.A.P., I’m going to hex you and your bits to pieces!”

“I’d listen to her,” said a frigid voice, and I smiled, for some unknown reason. I turned to look at the sharp planes of Albus Potter’s face and gestured toward his cousin and my ex-date.

“Thank you,” I said in exasperation as the two of them finally left with identical purple faces. Albus nodded soberly, his eyes giving me a once over.

“Wow, Leilani,” he muttered under his breath before raising his voice. “You are beautiful.”

My knees went weak.

“Only to you,” I beamed. Butterflies began to swarm in my stomach, and I felt a warm rush of pleasure run through me again. “You’re a bit of a sweet talker, did you know that?”

“How sweet?” he murmured, closing in. I inhaled sharply. Calm down, Alyssa.

“Too sweet,” I said hastily, backing away. He looked at me in puzzlement as a discordant blend of thoughts flooded my brain. I didn’t like him in that way yet, but I could fall for him incredibly easily. He was so good at giving compliments and charming enough to prevent my brain from functioning properly. What did he see in me, anyways? The chasm between us was too deep; he’d dump me for some supermodel eventually, or start cheating. From what I’d gathered, he’d cheated on Jen. How long would it be before I got my heart broken?

I couldn’t do this. I didn’t like him that much anyhow. He was arrogant, too sure of himself, and had a history. He wasn’t right for me. I liked the nice, steady types. And...some part of me, some alien part, didn’t want to care for anyone too deeply.

“Alyssa...”

“Look, the whole going out with you thing, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t in my right mind when I agreed to that,” I started slowly. “I don’t even know you.”

“I thought that was the point of dating.” Albus’s face clicked and suddenly became closed off and unfathomable. My heart fell; he didn’t care. This proved it: it was only a matter of time before this happened anyways – we lost our spark and he lost interest.

“I don’t think I’m ready for this. You’re great, and I’ve got to thank you for helping me out so many times,” I said in a quivering voice, “but I just can’t do this right now.”

Biting my lip hard enough to draw blood, I fled for the safety of Ravenclaw Tower as tears blurred my sight.

 


Scorpius Malfoy’s POV

“Man, she really got you, didn’t she?” I said to Al, who was staring at nothing in particular.

“I don’t know who she is anymore,” he said softly. I shrugged. I, personally, couldn’t see the attraction. She’d been good-looking enough last night, but clearly outshined by my Rosie – whoops, did I just think that? No way. Erase that thought. She was frickin’ Rose Weasley, who drove me ‘round the bend. I will never think of this miserable moment again.

Back to Leilani. As pretty as she was, she was still just a girl. I’d never in my entire life seen Al bothered by a girl.

“You knew her before?”

Albus shifted slightly. “Sort of,” he admitted. I nearly punched the air in excitement. This was way more than I’d gotten him to say in the past.

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing,” he said, his eyes looking hard. “She isn’t who I thought she was.”

 

 

Alyssa’s POV

Goddamn it. I sat in bed, having stayed there all day, faking sick. It was a Sunday, and I didn’t have any classes anyways, so I thought why the hell not?

I didn’t feel well. My chest hurt, for some strange reason. I couldn’t face Albus.

Shit. He didn’t even do anything to deserve getting dumped. I felt like vomiting.

“You okay there?” asked Yelena, creeping in closer. She was the only one keeping me company; I’d told Jen and Delilah to go out and hang without me. Sabrina and her cronies weren’t sympathetic in the least. Yelena was the only one who really knew what’d happened anyways.

“No,” I grumbled, flopping back down onto the mattress. “I’m not okay.”

“It’s alright, he’s just a boy,” Yelena said comfortingly. “I’m sure everything’ll be fine.”

I swallowed hard and nodded. Get a grip, Lizzi. Everything will be fine.

 

 


He was coming again, and I let out a high wail of distress as I realized he was holding his wand. He looked unusually sober; anything out of the ordinary boded ill for me. Behind him floated two bound and gagged figures. One was blonde, one was a brunette. As I saw the two, I began thrashing in my bonds.

“Let them go!”

“Never,” he cackled madly. “Sectumspra!” I watched blood squirt out from a number of spreading gashes in the blonde man’s skin, and I screamed as the pain consumed me again – not him, not him –


I woke up shaking, hair matted with sweat, already knowing what was going to happen next. I lit a candle, watching the orange glow comfort me. Right on cue, a note fluttered down.

The Knights asked me to do something today. I’m so afraid, that I may not be able to fool them again this time. Their light haunts me, and I could swear they suspect, that they’ve found out – I have too many enemies in this game of triangles. Too many for me to keep track of, too many for me to count, even though I am one of those at the apex.

The play is becoming deadly.

And once again, I burned it, resolving to solve the mystery this time. I couldn’t handle this anymore. The attack, the purple light I thought I saw corresponded to this somehow. There were so many coincidences that they could no longer possibly be coincidences.

I would find out the author of these notes.

 


“Spiders, get up!” yelled Delilah, looking ridiculously perky and sounding just as ridiculously random. I shrugged, having climbed back into bed after a morning run. “And you, stop moping,” she added, looking me straight in the eye. “I know Alex turned out to be a bust, but he’s not worth it.”

In case you’re wondering, I didn’t tell her about the whole ‘Albus Potter’ thing. You know why. Sighing, I threw on a set of black robes: I couldn’t just hide the whole time since I had class today. How sad.

“Where is everyone?” I asked, looking around the room. Surprisingly, it was just me and Delilah; all the other beds were conspicuously empty and rumpled as if their occupants had left in a hurry. Delilah squirmed under my searching gaze.

“Well,” she began delicately, “there’s supposed to be a really important mystery announcement this morning...”

“And you let me miss it?” I said incredulously, all other thoughts blown out of my mind. I wasn’t that much of a loser, to pine over a boy I didn’t really know for two days straight. I was mainly trying to avoid him...and to try to solve the mystery surrounding me.

“Not exactly, but we’re going to have to hurry. And you are not wearing that, either. You’ve gotta show Alex what you missed out on.”

I rolled my eyes. “We don’t have time for this, Delilah. Let’s go already.” I yanked my hair into some semblance of neatness and raced out the door. “C’mon!”

I ran with Delilah hard on my heels all the way down to the Great Hall. Breathless, I stopped to pant at the doorway before taking a deep breath and stepping in, fervently praying to God that Albus wouldn’t be anywhere where I could see him.

Jen and Yelena were sitting at the furthest edge of the Ravenclaw table, and they beckoned furiously at us. Sabrina Taylor shot me a nasty look; I glared right back. We raced to the two empty chairs and fell into them.

“’Sup?” Delilah whispered.

“Shh,” hissed Jen, gesturing up to the formidable Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall, who was arguing with some guy in black side by side with a very sour faced group of professors. I recognized Professor Scamander, Professor Longbottom, and Professor Weasley right away. None of them looked too happy. Finally, the group separated, the stranger having a very smug look on his face.

A big, resounding smack echoed through the room, silencing the multitudes of students. Every head in the Great Hall turned to gawk.

Professor McGonagall stepped onto the podium, her silver hair tied up in an even more unforgiving bun than usual. “Silence.”

You could hear a pin drop in the room.

“It has been proposed by the school governors that a very special event take place this year. This is the first time it will take place since 1995. Now, as some of you may already have guessed by the date – “ she looked at Rose, who had her hand over her wide open mouth, “you may already know what I’m about to say.

“Before I continue, I must warn my students away from this...event. It’s deadly; there is no doubt about that. At least one participant either dies or is seriously injured each time.” She pursed her lips into a thinner line. “It is with this advice that I present to you the Triwizard Tournament.”

It took a while for it to settle in. McGonagall’s voice was dry and inflectionless as if she was announcing it was a cloudy day, but the entire room gasped as one.

Lemme explain.

The Triwizard Tournament hasn’t happened since 1995, when Harry Potter (it does get a little redundant, how he’s done just about everything) took the cup at the record-breaking age of fourteen. It’s a high-stakes competition that’s traditionally between the three schools of Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons. According to Hogwarts, a History, it’s the most dangerous event in the magical world for underage wizards. That means that yeah, it is a big, fat, Hungarian Horntail sized deal.

“Quiet!” McGonagall clapped again to end the heated murmuring. “The prize is, of course, one thousand galleons...per champion. This year, there will be a twist: each school will have two champions. Together, they will attempt to solve the challenges and represent the school as a team.

“The three schools, and their various champions, will be presented at eight o’clock in the evening at our Inter-House Celebration in a week. Formal dress in dark shades will be required.” She fixed her narrow gaze pointedly on Sabrina Taylor, who actually blushed bright flamingo red – wait, flamingos are pink, aren’t they? Whatever. There had to be a back story there.

McGonagall, still with that expressionless face, waved her hand. A golden, fiery cup appeared in wrinkled hand, each molecule appearing individually. Wow. What a dramatic entrance. I stared at it, immediately recognizing what it was.

“This is the Goblet of Fire. Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students have already entered their names. Of course, only seventh years will be allowed to place their names in the goblet for drawing,” said McGonagall, seemingly deaf to the many groans from the underage students. She set the cup on top of a very ordinary looking table in the center of the room. Suddenly, a bright white wall with a perfect circle as the groundwork flared up. Everyone jumped.

“That is the Age Line. No one not a seventh year will be able to cross it,” our headmistress continued. A small smile graced her thread-wide mouth. “Myself and the other professors who graduated during this time have rather fond memories of those students who did make attempts.” Professor Scamander, Longbottom, and Weasley all grinned reluctantly.

“It is on this note that I end this announcement,” McGonagall concluded. “Breakfast may begin.”

 

 

-----------------

Author's Note:

Dun dun dunnn...pardon me for the terrible spelling. :D

I am aware of several inconsistencies currently in the story that I will fix when I have time, but if you find any more please mention them in a review or private message me. I'm really excited to be almost at 500 reads, and thanks to everyone who reviewed or favorited!

Love,

SG
 


Chapter 7: Grieving
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“Are you entering?” Delilah asked me excitedly.

“Mmph,” I said, my mouth full of food, my eyes nervously twitching and somehow, completely coincidentally of course, landing at the Gryffindor table each time. I was absolutely not looking for a messy crop of black hair, soulful green eyes, well muscled arms and tanned skin –

“Huh? What?” I asked very intelligently as Delilah smacked me on the arm. She frowned at me in annoyance.

“I said, are you entering the Triwizard Tournament?”

I laughed. “No way. I mean, some people might find it fun to have their heads ripped off by dragons, but I’m not one of them.”

“Oh,” said Delilah, almost disappointed. “Well, I’m going to do it.”

I sat straight up in shock. “What?!”

“I’m going to put my name in the Goblet of Fire,” she repeated patiently.

“So am I,” Jen chimed in. Yelena harrumphed as if to say, idiots. I agreed with her one hundred percent, although I preferred to express myself slightly more eloquently.

“What do you have, squids for brains?” I shrieked. Everyone at Ravenclaw table turned to look at me. I squirmed underneath the prying eyes.

“Nothing,” I muttered. Sabrina Taylor stared at me condescendingly.

“Too scared to enter, Leilani?” she said in that supremely irritating snobby voice of hers. I growled in frustration.

“No, only too sensible,” I said, biting back a harsher response with supreme difficulty while picking up my books and leaving the room.

 

 

Scorpius Malfoy’s POV

“Are you insane?”

My friend definitely looked pretty banged up. Not in a bad way, but in the I’ve-just-gone-for-a-goddamned-good-shag way. Which in itself was all well and good, but when you play truant during your dad’s best friend’s class, it’s not so great.

“Yeah, maybe,” Al said, pushing his disheveled hair out of his eyes. He had a slightly dazed look, and his eyes were unfocused as if he was walking in a dream.

“Spill, mate,” I demanded. He shrugged nonchalantly.

“I was in the broom cupboard with Taylor.”

My eyes widened. Damn, but that Leilani girl must have affected his brain. As hot as she was, Taylor was not the type of girl Al skipped his uncle’s class to go rendezvous with. Actually, no girl was.

I whistled. “Woah. On the rebound, Al?”

Al nodded, grim humor apparent in his eyes. “Something like that.”

 

 


Alyssa’s POV

I tiptoed across the marble floor of the Great Hall. It was pitch black; no one else was there. Thank God.

I was scouting the place out for Delilah, who was scheduled to join me as soon as she woke up, which probably wouldn’t be anytime too soon. I wouldn’t dwell on that, though; this was better than being plagued by another dream. Besides, there was something strangely comforting about being here, next to the Goblet and its flickering flames. I rather liked it.

I leaned against a wall and rested, letting my fatigue get the best of me. It was one in the morning, after all. I’d cast a particularly difficult Disillusionment Charm on myself to get this far. It was one of my more admirable feats.

Suddenly, a book dropping startled me from my peace. I jumped, and hastily muttered, “Dedecor,” concentrating on an image of myself disappearing from view. It wasn’t as if anyone could see me in the dark, but just in case –

“Lumos,” said a girl’s high, flirty voice. What would I give to be able to sound like that –

Ehmigod.

The light framed a thin, model like face, sporting familiar and unusually warm grey eyes.

The part I couldn’t believe, you see, was that it was Sabrina Taylor, walking hand in hand with Albus Potter. Who looked even better than usual in his slacks and white t-shirt that left rather little to a girl’s imagination. Holy crap.

My eyes were bugging out and threatening to pop from their sockets. Potter was holding hands with Taylor at one o’clock in the morning. Once that dismal fact sank into my overtaxed brain, it was rather easy to connect the dots based on their appearance alone.

Potter looked pretty normal, nothing to be gawking over (and also, as usual, everything to be gawking over). It was Sabrina who startled me. Her tight, lacy shirt was on backwards, and her blonde hair was in freefall around her face, slightly messy. She wasn’t wearing makeup for once; a wholesome, natural sparkle illuminated her features, making her even more beautiful than before. She looked sweaty, rumpled, and extremely happy.

And I knew what they’d done immediately. And a little voice nagged at me: how can you compete with that?

Really, Potter. He certainly moved around quick. One minute he was trying to get me to go out with him and the next he was shagging Sabrina Taylor at night. And throughout D.A.D.A. The whole affair left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I don’t know why, but disappointment and anger flooded through me, accompanied by a strange tinge of something that was not jealousy. I watched, unmoving, frozen.

“Bye, Al,” I heard Sabrina whisper in his ear. It was easy enough to hear even something supposedly private in the silence occupying the room. He smiled easily at her and murmured something back to her. She giggled and left in the direction of the Ravenclaw common room. I prayed she wouldn’t be allowed in.

I began to tiptoe away, trying to leave before I was discovered. As my foot skimmed over the floor, I managed to trip and fall with a loud, unmistakable thud. Crap.

I barely managed to get up, massaging my newly bruised arm, when I looked into the eyes of a very startled Albus Potter.

“Alyssa?” he said, his mouth forming an “o” shape. I did my best to seem casual.

“Yeah?”

“What are you doing here?” he asked me. I grasped at straws, flustered.

“Oh, the Goblet – “

“You’re not entering the Triwizard Tournament, are you?” he interrupted, intensity creeping into his face and tone. I glowered at him. Why did he care, anyway? Wasn’t he the one who’d just shagged another girl?

“So what if I am?” I snapped back.

“You aren’t entering.” His tone held an infuriating finality to it, and I stared into his calm, stone hard features. Who did he think he was, to have control over my life? I’d show him. I’d prove that I could be irrational and do something spontaneous, that I could not listen to him, that he didn’t have the last word.

“I am,” I said, just to annoy him.

“You aren’t,” he enunciated, emphasizing the “aren’t” as if I was a little girl who had to be patronized. I was seeing vivid hues of red. He had no idea what I’d been through, what I’d suffered. I snarled at him, heating up.

“Watch me,” I said, and Summoned a slip of paper and a pencil. Hastily, I scrawled the black words across the page in the heavy charcoal. Alyssa Leilani. Ignoring my doubts, I began to deliberately and defiantly walk towards the Age Line.

“Don’t!” he exclaimed with vigor, coming closer, and I turned slightly, sending him an evil eye and sliding my hand towards my wand. “You are not going to put your name in that Goblet!”

“Shut up!” I retorted vehemently, anger and resentment pushing me over the edge of the cliff, and I was engaged in a glorious free fall. “You aren’t the boss of me. You don’t have the privilege of controlling my life. SO JUST SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP!”

I stepped over the Age Line, half delirious with rage. Albus Potter had spent the night having sex with another girl, and he thought he could tell me what to do? Who did he think he was, God? I was right to have broken up with him. I’d known this would happen.

“Don’t do this, Alyssa, please.” His soft voice reached out to me from the corner, surprisingly gentle and pleading. His use of my name, in such a voice, like he cared, made me feel warm and fuzzy and commanded me to do what he was asking. Anything not to cause him distress. I hesitated.

Did I really want to do this?

Prompted by an unseen force, I smiled, as a sort of cold and hard shell had formed around me. Yes, I did. If only to get back at Albus Potter, I wanted to do this.

I stuck my name into the Goblet of Fire and watched a flicker of orange, a meager dot, slowly consume the paper and crumple it to a pitiful pile of charred ashes somewhere in the deep bowels of the chalice.

 

 

“Delilah,” Jen whispered urgently, “get up.”

“Yes, ma’am,” she muttered sleepily, making catatonic movements toward the door as she swept off her blankets. Yelena stifled a giggle; Delilah did resemble a zombie or something like that.

“You’d better get moving if you want to get your name in,” Jen warned her, propped up against her pillows and reading a book. “They’re announcing the results tonight, and there’s probably gonna be a line around the thing all day. This is your best chance.”

I rubbed my eyes. I hadn’t slept a wink in fear of another nightmare.

“So...tired...” I moaned, trying to keep my head up. A faint crease appeared between Jen, Delilah, and Yelena’s eyebrows.

“You ought to sleep more,” Jen said disapprovingly, eyeing the dark and puffy circles under my eyes. I’m pretty sure they were at least five ounce bags.

“Still sulking ‘bout Alex?” asked Delilah. I shrugged.

“Naw,” I muttered, propping myself up in a supreme act of will. “I just couldn’t sleep, that’s all.”

“Are you alright?” Yelena looked a little concerned. She brushed her cherry brown hair away from her round, dimpled face. I didn’t envy her her hair. It was short, in a fashionable layered bob, and just at the wrong length: long enough to get in your eyes but too short to tie up.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said shortly. I turned to look at myself in the mirror.

I looked horrible. My eyes sagged, and my skin was pallid. My hair was all frizzy and sticking all over the place.

“Delilah,” I said abruptly, “I need some help.”

“With what?”

“With this,” I said, gesturing to my face. “I don’t know what to do, but if you can fix me up with whatever, I’ll be the most grateful friend alive. I want to make him sorry for what he missed.”

Delilah giggled. “I’m on it,” she said, grinning widely and reaching for her kit. I smirked. Everyone thought I meant Alex, but I knew better. I knew exactly who I meant by ‘him,’ and he would be sorry for last night if I had anything to say about it.

 

 

“Is this too much?” I asked skeptically twenty minutes later, examining my reflection. I’d smoothed my hair with a useful charm and glossed it up to be extra thick and shiny. I didn’t do makeup, but I allowed Delilah to dab on a touch of lip gloss. My long lashes, thankfully, had no need of embellishment by mascara.

My black tresses had been pulled back with two fake sapphire clips. I especially loved Delilah’s costume jewelry collection; they looked absurdly real. I was also wearing a long black and white necklace.

Together, we’d modified my robes. We’d taken a plain black uniform and bleached the color to a grayish navy blue, which Delilah assured me brought out my eyes, and shortened it to mid thigh. I’d worked on tapering the waist in to fully show my so-called “curves.” Even Yelena joined in the effort by lending me a vintage belt. Delilah, on the other hand, had fixed the neckline to plunge in a v-shape that slid all the way to an inch above the tops of my breasts, and convinced me to wear a pair of jean-leggings underneath that showed off my legs to perfection. A pair of velvet black ballet flats made up the final touch.

“Kimball’s going to rue the day he ever offended you,” said Delilah, sounding extraordinarily satisfied as she surveyed my outfit one last time. I grinned.

“Thanks,” I said, making mental notes to go shopping for a ton of clothes next time we had a chance to go to Hogsmeade.

Grabbing my book bag, recently enchanted to vaguely resemble a leather Prada purse, I hurried off to class with my friends.

 

 

Kent Weasley’s POV

“So, anyways, the dragon-fire vials are barmy – Who the hell is that?”

I whipped my head around at Scorpius, who was opening gawking at the door, much to the displeasure of my dear cousin Rose. I tracked his eyes, figuring that whatever it was (or she was), it was going to be good, since he was risking Rosie’s wrath. I wasn’t disappointed.

The girl at the doorway had an incredibly perfect figure, with a full chest and slim hips and a tiny waist. Her legs were long and slender, and every aspect was highlighted by her clothing. Her wavy black hair swayed with each graceful, gliding step she took, and when she turned, her deep, almost haunting blue eyes and striking features immediately caught one’s attention.

I smiled appreciatively at Scorpius. “Definitely a prospective significant other.”

Scorpius raised his eyebrows. “You think?”

Rose stared. “What happened to her?” Her blue eyes were wide open.

“You know her?”

“She’s Alyssa Leilani, you dolts,” Rose snapped, sending Scorpius – who was wearing a what did I do now? expression on his confused face – a death glare.

“That sounds familiar,” I mused. Alyssa Leilani...where had I heard that before?

“No way,” said Scorpius, already shaking his head. “’Cuz if Alyssa Leilani was that hot, I’d have totally understood Al’s obsession.”

Wait. Alyssa. This was the girl that Al was brooding over?

“He has good taste,” I said admiringly, openly tracing my eyes down to the edge of her low neckline. Scorpius nodded with me.

“Scorpius, stop being such a shallow stud,” Rose muttered. I saw her shoulders twitch and knew she was about to kick Scorpius.

“Watch out – “ I began, but Scorpius’s muffled grunt was already out of his mouth. He winced and patted Rose’s hand next to him absently. I snickered as they both jerked at the contact. Well, I wasn’t cracking any jokes, at least...yet. Looking down at the seat next to me, I checked if it was occupied.

“Move,” I hissed to some mousy haired Ravenclaw chick sitting next to me. She glared at me before shuffling off. I then looked up to make eye contact with Alyssa. Normally, us Weasley men don’t compete for girls, but we could make an exception for her.

She caught my eye and gave me an almost amused smile, dipping her head in acknowledgement. I patted the seat next to me, knowing she’d have to take it, it being the only free seat in the room. She hesitated briefly before sliding into the spot.

“I’m Lizzi,” she said, her voice curiously tony, and having a slight lilt to it. It was low for a girl’s, but not too low; just enough to give the impression of sophistication, I realized wryly. She was obviously a practiced flirt. Perfect. I did need someone to take with me to the interschool event thingy.

“Kent Weasley,” I introduced myself. “I think we met at the Opening Gala. Didn’t think too much of the impression I gave, myself.” I gave her my usual infallible smile.

She laughed quietly. “I was a little put out at the time, too. Why don’t we start fresh?”

“Sounds good to me,” I replied, eyeing Professor Scamander, the Charms teacher. She was one of my mum’s best friends, but she was quite nice to everyone. Lenient. More so than Professor Longbottom. However, she couldn’t stand people talking while she was. Uncle George had joked more than once when he thought we weren’t listening that it was a scar from her unhappy youth.

“Class! Open up to page ninety-eight, please. We’ll be practicing Animation Charms today.”

I groaned; Alyssa grinned. “I love Animation Charms.”

 


Alyssa was an accomplished witch; she earned endless praise from Professor Scamander. Of course, I didn’t notice this too much. I was too busy trying to –

“Kent, are you trying to look down my shirt?” she asked, raising an eyebrow at me. I jumped backwards. To be honest, the answer was yes.

“No, I’d never do that,” I quickly backpedaled. Luckily, Alyssa wasn’t too indignant, only shooting me a very amused look. I wasn’t sure if I liked being laughed at discreetly, but she looked extra good with the expression, so I let it slide.

The bell rang, a low ringing noise that skipped off the walls. Lizzi smiled at me. “I have to go since I’m already failing Herbology, but wanna get together after school?”

“No problem,” I said, disappointed that I wouldn’t be spending more time with her. “That’d be great.”

I got up, following her retreating back, not noticing anything until –

“Ow!” I rubbed my shoulder, convinced it was dislocated. “What the fuck – Al?”

He glared at me. He looked positively murderous, his hands clenched into fists, and I took a step back. “Al?”

“Stay the hell away from her, Kent, or I’ll make you,” he growled. I raised my hands into the air.

“You’ve lost it, Potter,” I said, as calmly as I could manage, although I was itching to hit him back. “You’ve really lost it this time.”

His fist collided with my jaw and my head snapped back further than I thought was possible.

“Shut up, Kent,” he said. “You’re taking advantage of her. I thought nothing was worse than what you did before, but now...you bastard – “

“What are you talking about?”

“She was just crying for a day and a half over Alex fucking Kimball,” said Al through gritted teeth. “You’re playing with her feelings, and she doesn’t know anything. I didn’t tell her a single thing. You won’t get what you want from her.”

“Shut up,” I said, against my better judgment. I was furious. Normally, I would have let it go, but not only had he mentioned...that, he’d punched me. Twice. And the two places he hit hurt like hell. “I’m not trying to use her that way. I didn’t even think about that until you mentioned it. And it isn’t me taking advantage every time some girl likes me better than you for once, Al. If you weren’t taking advantage of Sabrina Taylor, what were you doing, huh?”

Al paled, but his eyes grew brighter and flashed. He began a punch again, but this time, I ducked and slammed my knuckles into his stomach.

 

Alyssa’s POV

“What the hell are you saying?” I asked Delilah, wondering if she had a bug in her brain. “Look, if you need a Potion or something for hallucinations, I’ll come with you – “

“It’s not a hallucination! Everyone’s talking about it, how Albus Potter and Kent Weasley got into a huge fistfight over you.”

“That’s not even possible,” I said calmly. “Besides, people make up crazy rumors about Al all the time – “

Oops.

Delilah looked at me suspiciously. “Al? Is there something you’re not telling me here?”

“No. Nope. Definitely not,” I said hurriedly. “Nothing at all.”

She met my eyes briefly, and I waited in tense anticipation. Finally, she said, “Good.”

I smiled brightly at her. “Can we change the subject, now?”

She was about to answer. I saw it, a ‘no’ forming on her lips, when a very pissed off looking Jillian Clymer – wait, an emotion without her Queen Bee? How odd – tapped me on the shoulder.

“Sorry to interrupt,” she said, shooting us a dirty glance, “but McGonagall wants you in her office a.s.a.p. She says the password’s ‘Madeye.’”

I shrugged at Delilah and moved towards the door, my insides churning like squishy mush. What had happened? What if Albus and Kent really did get in a fight? It couldn’t have been over me. It couldn’t. I’d only talked to Kent.

A small voice nagged at me. I had, after all, wanted Albus to be jealous...

I stepped moved past the gargoyle and stepped across the threshold with a decidedly ominous feel.

 


McGonagall greeted me absently as she opened the door to her office, the circular room with the red walls and assortment of strange instruments. Her face was pale and drawn, and she looked almost nervous. She couldn’t be nervous. She was infallible.

“Alyssa,” she said slowly, in a surprisingly gentle tone, “I have some bad news.”

“What?” I asked, my mind whirring and playing scenes of Albus with a black eye, Delilah getting expelled, the black-robed purple glowing figures Apparating into the castle and firing spells.

McGonagall pursed her lips, as if at a loss for words. There was an uncomfortable silence between us, until she finally spoke.

Five words. That was all it took to shatter my world into a million little fragments, pieces all over the place, for me to huddle down broken. Five little words. How could they do so much damage?

Your mother has been murdered.

I curled into a ball onto the floor, not noticing or caring that McGonagall was watching me concernedly. How could she be dead? She wasn’t involved in any shady dealings, any gangs, any crime parties. She was nice to everyone, had always walked the high side of life. She was my mother. My rock, my fortress to hide behind. How could she be gone?

I would never hear her voice another time, never listen to her speak, never argue and have a catfight with her and then cry and make up. I wouldn’t ever again hug her, feel her comforting warmth, see her smile. The twinkle in her eyes would never light, and no one else would be able to see the faint enjoyment of life sparkling from her essence.

It wasn’t fair. The thought shocked me down to my very core.

It wasn’t fair. Just as my dream of going to Hogwarts was being realized, this had to happen. The attacks, the notes, the nightmares. And now...the greatest tragedy of them all.

I hadn’t realized that McGonagall was still speaking. “...Of course, a new guardian has been chosen, according to your mother’s will. I’m not sure exactly what those terms are, but her solicitor will be here to speak to you about what’s going to happen in about an hour.”

She leaned in closer, her voice growing more personal. “I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Leilani,” she said, in a genuinely tender voice. Her wispy white hair, not as immaculate as usual, managed to float into my face. “I knew her too, and everyone who did will be saddened by her passing.”

I stared blankly into the ground, not hearing a thing.


Chapter 8: Getting Up Can HURT.
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It hurt far too much to care. I sat at the round table, my elbows folded neatly on the glass and my back ramrod straight. I looked at the lawyer, barely grasping what he had to say.

“Miss Leilani, you are the sole heir of your mother’s estate. When you turn seventeen, all her earthly possessions will be passed on to you. Now, even though she did not live ostentatiously, Emily Leilani was not a woman who lacked wealth.” His sharp brown eyes roamed down his notes. “You will inherit about fifty thousand galleons, and a large manor house in Cheshire County as well as a smaller dwelling in Salem, Massachusetts. The total sum of these items is estimated to value at one hundred and fifty thousand galleons. While that may not sound flashy, it comes out to a good amount of money, enough for you to live on interest for the time being, although you’d be surprised at how quickly the amount dwindles with your higher schooling costs.”

Normally, my eyes would have widened at the hefty amounts of money before me. Normally, I would have been surprised. Normally, I might even have decided to go on a shopping trip.

But this wasn’t “normally,” so instead I simply stared at him expressionlessly like he’d told me he’d give me a piece of licorice if I was a good little girl.

He wasn’t discomforted by my lack of response in the least and coughed into an embroidered silk handkerchief. “Until you become of age, however, your mother has appointed a guardian for you, who will give you an allowance out of his own savings. You are to visit him this weekend, having been given special allowances by the school in light of the circumstances. Your guardian wishes to know you better, so he requests your presence every non-Hogsmeade weekend from here forth until Christmas. He sends his regards in this letter.”

From the pocket of his neatly tailored, obviously expensive robes, Mr. Whatever-His-Name-Was-Utterly-Stereotypical-Lawyer handed me a heavy envelope made of creamy paper that just about screamed old money. I didn’t even look at it before stuffing it into my fake Prada purse.

The man stared at me.

It was about a minute before I understood he was waiting for me to say something.

“Is there anything else I need to know?” I asked dispassionately. I was inwardly amazed that my voice box still worked.

“No, that’ll be all. Good day, Miss Leilani,” he said formally before getting up and giving me a brief nod as he left, slowly and deliberately left the room. I watched in silence. I had no more tears to cry.


I trudged back to the Great Hall. It was alive and buzzing with excitement, as everyone whooped and yelled and hollered over the whole ‘Champions’ nonsense. Honestly. It wasn’t even until tomorrow. Besides, the whole Tournament was just some stupid gladiator style fighting thing for the students and media to partake in.

“What happened?” Delilah, Jen, and Yelena chorused.

“I – “

“Trouble in paradise, loser?” sneered Sabrina Taylor, tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulder. “Gotten in trouble? Eating a last feast?”

At that, something in me snapped. I’d taken her insults for almost a month, let her belittle me and gossip about me and steal from me. It was enough. I had had enough.

“Fuck off, Taylor,” I snarled, my fingers spreading into claws underneath the table. If she didn’t leave...

She gaped at me for a moment, then evidently decided it wasn’t worth getting into a fight with me at the moment and retreated. Delilah raised her eyebrows at me, looking surprised. I sank down further into my chair.

“That bad?”

I didn’t respond. Yelena looked really concerned, scooting in closer. “What did McGonagall say?”

“My mother was murdered,” I said dully, and my friends were stunned into silence.

 


Delilah’s POV

Damn it, but Lizzi was a mess.

It’d been nearly a week, and she was still either catatonic or nearly catatonic. Her eyes had lost their characteristic luster, she looked pallid and crappy, and her hair was greasy. Her clothes were all rumpled, and she didn’t seem to care about anything anymore. Her spellwork was terrible, and her grades were slipping, but she maintained that it didn’t matter.

Something had to be done, we all agreed, me, Jen, and Yelena. It was understandable, after such a terrible thing, yet she was our friend. We had to help her move on.

It was time for drastic measures.

 


Albus’s POV

The minute I saw Delilah, I knew something was wrong.

First of all, we hadn’t spoken in about six years, since that awful incident at the end of first year. Second of all, we’d had a mutual dislike going on since third year, when I’d...well, I’m not going to go into that. And finally, after Jen and I had our spat, she’d downright hated me. So it wasn’t likely that she was going to talk to me about the weather.

She looked at me hesitantly and tucked her hair behind her ear in a nervous gesture. “Potter...”

“Patil,” I said, careful to be neither cold or friendly. She nodded, reassured by my lack of antagonism.

“Potter, we need your help,” she said, a faint edge of desperation in her voice. “Lizzi’s been practically dead for the last week.”

I frowned, my heart doing a strange dance. Alyssa had been avoiding me ever since that night. She’d barely spoken two words to me.

I shouldn’t have cared, but I did. A strange kind of anger, fueled by something akin to raw despair, rushed through me yet again: How could she forget everything? How could she forget...us?

 

Delilah’s POV

It was amazing, the way his face softened and the way his eyes took on a sort of deep glow the minute he heard Lizzi’s name. The sharp planes of his cheekbones and his strong jaw blurred a little, and he seemed to be all warm and fuzzy tenderness. I stared at him. He was head over heels for her, I realized. That in itself was odd, since they barely knew each other, but this was Albus Potter. Dark, handsome, brooding, mysterious Albus Potter, whom nothing could touch and nothing could wound. I’d learned that lesson the hard way.

“She’s really upset,” I said in a voice soft enough to be a whisper. “Her – well, I wouldn’t tell you this, except I don’t know what to do – mother died. I think someone murdered her.” My voice broke slightly, faltering for my poor friend. “I don’t know what to do.”

And I didn’t. Lizzi was our rock, the one we leaned on, the dependable one who reassured us and stood up for us every time. Jen, Yelena and I had never been so close until she showed up. If she left, our friendship would be torn into pieces.

Albus watched me, looking almost concerned. His aloofness was almost gone. “Why me?”

“Because...” I hesitated, knowing that this part would make him angry. He’d always seen through deception with ease. “Because you’re the only who’s able to get a rise out of her – “

“Or might be willing to?” he bit back, suddenly sarcastic, his face cold again. “You want me to act as her punchbag for a day or two while she vents, and she’ll probably end up hating me, but it doesn’t matter if it saves your relationship. Have I got it right?”

His sharp, acute words ripped through my insides. They passed through my armor because I knew, deep down, that he was right. He was spot on. Like always.

“Somewhat,” I admitted haplessly. He snorted, a sound both derisive and belittling.

“You expect me to agree to that?”

“No,” I said, my heart falling as I prepared to slink away in defeat. “No.”

But just as I was about to turn around, he place a firm, reassuring hand on my shoulder, and I looked up to find a grim and somber and hopeful, all at the same time, expression on his face.

“I’ll do it.”

 

“There she is,” I said, leading him to the girls’ dormitory in Ravenclaw tower. It was in the middle of the day, meaning most people were in their classes. I was skipping Herbology, but it was well worth it to be able to slip a Gryffindor – and not just a Gryffindor, but the Gryffindor – into the common room and beyond.

Alyssa was curled up in bed, reading through some enormous tome that looked it weighed at least twenty pounds and smelled worse than my little brother’s gym socks. Her eyes barely flickered from the book.

“Hey, Delilah,” she said in a flat, tired kind of way, not seeming to notice Potter. “’Sup?”

Potter took a sharp intake of breath behind me, but I didn’t look at him. I shrugged, and said simply, “Someone’s here to see you.”

 

Alyssa’s POV

“Albus?” I asked in horrified surprise, a surprisingly potent electric shock arcing through my body. Magical Maladies dropped onto my lap with a loud thud, hitting my thighs hard enough to make me sore for the next two or three days. “What are you doing here?”

“Thanks for sounding happy to see me,” he said dryly. It was strange. He had to have heard by now, from Delilah or someone, or he wouldn’t be here, but there wasn’t a trace of pity or sympathy in his eyes. He nodded at Delilah, who slightly unwillingly scurried off. I knew that she’d probably be listening anyways.

“I’m sorry about that,” I said, imitating his dry tone. “I just thought that when the most important person in your life dies, you sorta get a little down.”

“Really, now,” he said, taking in my unkempt appearance with calm disapproval. God, he was beginning to annoy me, with his nonchalance. He settled against the wall, seemingly relaxed. I, on the other hand, was sitting straight up for the first time in days.

“What do you want, Potter?”

He lounged backgrounds, unruffled by my demand. “Just wanted to know why you were wasting your life away in bed,” he said, a slight note of contempt dripping into his voice.

“Shut up,” I said quietly. My dead heart began to move a millimeter, and I felt some color flush into my cheeks.

“Why should I? You’re not the boss of me, Leilani.” His preschool level choice of words, ingeniously reiterating what I had said to him only days ago, would have made me laugh if I wasn’t so angry. He was treating me and my mourning as if it was unjustified! A strange feeling grew within me, and cracks formed in the glass wall that was protecting me from the world. I shifted, feeling vulnerable and prone to attack.

“Listen,” I snarled, “you don’t have any idea what I’ve been through – “

He jerked suddenly, and the first trace of true emotion shone through his sea green eyes. He moved abruptly, closing in with predatory grace, and I knew I’d said something wrong.

“Don’t I?” he hissed, only inches away from my face.

“If you did, you would understand!” I screamed, pushing him away from me, beating against his chest. He stumbled backwards only a step before regaining his balance. I wasn’t a weight lifter, but I wasn’t exactly weak either, so a small part of me found time to admire his coordination.

“I understand that your mother wouldn’t want you to waste your entire life like this.”

It was a direct blow, a knife through my heart, and I couldn’t breathe. I gasped for air, floundering, my boundaries ripped away. No, she wouldn’t have wanted this. He was right. And I despised him for it, for forcibly pulling me out of self misery, for making me get up and do something.

“I hate you,” I said softly, cold rage finding its way into my tone. But he wasn’t moved by my harsh words in the least, and that hurt me more.

“Get dressed,” he said emotionlessly, stone hard against my flurry of insults as I yelled at him about what a bastard he was. “The Inter-Gala Event’s in ten minutes, and you should be there.”

“I won’t go,” I said, standing up in childish defiance. I wobbled a little, which ruined the dramatic effect. “I WON’T FUCKING GO!”

He stared at me, and I got the strange idea he was disappointed, and even more oddly, shame gathered at the pit of my stomach. I stomped off to grab another dress I’d bought – I’d bought three at Lavender Brown’s that time.

 


Delilah’s POV

“Wow,” I said softly to Potter, watching Lizzi go into her closet.

He didn’t say anything. When I looked at him, what I saw stopped me in my tracks.

His face was pale, and his eyes were unfathomable. His eyes were tight and his jaw hard, like he was suffering from stress of some sort. Hard and closed off.

And I felt bad. Really, really bad, for using him as a tool, a hammer to get Lizzi to wake up, for making him look like he was burning in hell or something like that. So bad, that, for the first time in six years, I reached out and hugged him in thanks.

He stiffened slightly, and an expression of complete disbelief was etched across his handsome face before he slowly lifted his arms and awkwardly wrapped them around me.

“Thanks,” I whispered in his ear.

And I heard something at the corner of the room drop with a smattering sound, the sound of glass smashing.

 


Alyssa’s POV

What. The. Hell.

Albus and Delilah were wrapped in a tight embrace, her mouth near his ear, whispering a secret. Albus’s mouth was turned up at the corners, a small smile stretching across a strangely peaceful face.

I stared at them, unable to comprehend what I was seeing. They – they –

C’mon, Alyssa, I told myself bitterly, it isn’t as if they were doing anything wrong. I’d never even told Delilah I felt anything at all for Albus. And as for the guy, I’d broken up with him. So technically, they could take their snog fest as far as they wanted.

But I didn’t give a damn about technicalities.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled, and the scene exploded into action. Albus jerked away from Delilah and vice versa, and I just looked accusingly at both of them. Unjustified, of course, but who cared?

“Nothing,” Delilah said hastily, looking at me like she was worried for my sanity or something. Okay, so I might have gone a little bit off the deep end. Not that much. I hope.

“Hold up here,” I shouted, placing my open hand in front of their nearly joined faces. Remember, Alyssa, Delilah doesn’t know about you and that filthy toerag Potter or anything else about this mess. “Aren’t you supposed to hate him – it – or something?”

“Well,” Delilah hedged, “sort of...”

I stuck my hands on my hips, refusing to spare another glance at Albus. Fuck him, as far as I was concerned. He’d goddamned told me my mum’s death didn’t matter! My fingers curled into a fist, and my untrimmed and razor sharp nails dug into my skin. It was all I could do not to shove him out the frickin’ window and/or slash his throat.

“Explain,” I said, quietly, my voice under control now. “And you – “ I couldn’t bring myself to say his name. “You – just go. Get out of my sight.”

“Lizzi – “ Delilah began to protest, but he was already gone.

 


Delilah’s POV

I had no idea Alyssa could be such a bitch before. Not that her bitching was unjustified, of course. Her self control was actually rather admirable: if I were her and some guy that I couldn’t stand had said that to me after my mum died, I would have cast the Avada Kedavra on him right then and there. Well, that after the Cruciatus Curse.

As it was, she was so mad she was literally shaking. And there was that little part that made me nervous...she was glowing.

My friend was lighting up like a blue lava lamp.

 


Scorpius’s POV

“Shut up, Malfoy, it’s not funny,” snaps Rose, falling onto a sofa. “I’ve never seen Uncle Harry so concerned in my life.”

“What are you talking about?”

She threw a pillow at me. Ouch. That girl should’ve been Chaser for the house team, because the feather-light missile was hurled with such force that I felt like I was struck by a load of bricks.
“The murder, you dolt!” she yelled.

I gaped at her, my previous snarks and irritation forgotten.

“What?” I asked intelligently.

 

Alyssa’s POV

“What?” I said, not exactly pleasantly. “Did I just sprout horns or something?”

Delilah’s face strongly resembled a donut, her mouth was that wide. “Uh...uh...”

“And?” I prompted her, annoyance coursing through me. Just say it, already! I was in a pretty nasty mood after seeing her kiss Al – Potter, and she was only adding fuel to the inferno. Not that I could say anything like that to her. And I was not jealous. Duh. I mean, if I was allowed to rip him up into a million tiny pieces, that would be the best present ever. Energy rushed in my bloodstream, and I felt as if I was floating –

“Lizzi!” shouted Delilah, and I suddenly noticed that my feet were no longer on the floor.

“Shit,” I swore angrily as I dropped like a boulder. This didn’t bode well for me, weight-wise.

“You stopped,” she said, studying me with a distant expression. I frowned at her.

“Stopped what?”

“Stopped glowing,” she elaborated.

“Glowing?”

“Yeah.” A deep crease appeared between my friend’s eyebrows. “You mean you didn’t notice?”

“Nope,” I said lightly, even though it was far from what I was feeling. “I felt really, well, energized, though, like way more perky.”

“That’s funny,” said Delilah, but she didn’t say anything more, and neither did I.
 

 

Author's Note:

Haha! :) Finally, a snippet from Al's POV! So, yeah. I've (at last) decided the direction the plot's going to go from here, and it's a little overwhelming...but I'm 90% sure I can pull it off.

I just went back and read through the whole thing and noticed a few minor inconsistensies, so I'll get those fixed ASAP too.

As always, thanks to my wonderful reviewers and favoriters!

Love,

SG


Chapter 9: Arrival
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Scorpius’s POV

“The murder,” Rose said quietly, her beautiful blue eyes serious, toning her voice down. She leaned close to me, and my heart raced like a freight train about to crash – painful, sudden, and exhilarating – at how near she was to me. “I really shouldn’t be telling anyone this, but you’re bound to get it from your dad sooner or later.”

“Why? What does my dad have to do with this?”

“Well, it’s a little personal for him,” she began slowly. “That part he can tell you...and it’s confidential information, so don’t go chatting up whoever with this.”

I rolled my eyes. “Really, Weasley, a little trust would be nice,” I said coolly. “Of course I won’t tell a soul.”

Rose looked around nervously, then started to whisper. “A woman’s body was discovered about a week ago in Albania, and that rings a bell for Uncle Harry for some reason. What’s more, the woman used to go to Hogwarts. Same year as your dad and mine. She disappeared almost twenty years back.”

“And the major significance of this is?” I asked, knowing she was holding something back, and Rose paled.

“She was killed by Dark magic, apparently. Mum and Dad and Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny all won’t talk about it, though. They only told us that much because they wanted to prepare us for the news articles that are definitely going to be written.”

“Not to be flippant about matters of life and death or anything, but this doesn’t sound that unusual,” I pointed out reasonably. “There is still the odd act of Dark magic every now and then. Sometimes, people die – “

“When Uncle Harry’s worried, something’s wrong,” Rose interrupted flatly. There really wasn’t anything I could say to that, because Rose was right. Mr. Potter was a hard man to shake. Hell, if I’d been constantly under attack and my life forever at risk since I was eleven, I would’ve been pretty damn imperturbable as well. This was Harry Potter. Something was wrong.

“Are you worried?” I asked her, changing tack. I’d never seen her afraid before in my life. She was an anchor in my life. Always strong, fiery, determined.

She didn’t say anything. Her gaze was downcast; her rippling folds of red hair fell to hide her face, and I couldn’t help it. No one was here to see us, and the intimacy we shared at the moment, being utterly on the same wavelength, had a pull I couldn’t resist. I reached up and gently brushed her curls out of her face. The tip of my finger grazed her skin, and we both jumped in shock.

“Sorry,” I apologized quickly, bright red. We matched. Rose was like a tomato: red and red and every color in between.

“’S fine,” she mumbled, her hand straying to the spot I touched and rubbing it softly. I stared at this gesture of sentimentality. She, sensing my sensitivity with an acuteness no other girl possessed, immediately stopped.

“Um, hey,” I said awkwardly, “wanna go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend, after the whole champions thing’s announced? Three Broomsticks, my treat.”

Rose blushed even more vividly, if that was possible. Had I ever mentioned she was cute when she was embarrassed?

“Yeah,” she said in a tiny voice. I grinned at her, elation ripping through my body. It was all I could do not to jump up and exclaim, Yes! I was almost at first base!

 

 


Alyssa’s POV

“Get dressed for the feast already,” Jen snapped at me, her golden locks making a halo of light around her face. “I’m glad to see you stop moping, btw.”

I couldn’t blame her for being mad at me, so I slipped on my indigo colored dress. It was a short, strapless number that Delilah reassured me would make Alex Kimball jealous. Ha. As if I cared about Kimball. No, the person I really wanted to make sorry was Potter. I’d show him that I wasn’t affected by his hurtful words in the least. So I primped my hair and curled my eyelashes with a furious kind of energy that sent everyone about ten feet away.

Taylor, on the other hand, was careful to remain about fifty feet away. I had no patience whatsoever for her anymore, and she’d felt it when I’d actually hexed her with a super-powerful Jelly Legs Jinx that made her wobble for three days.

I jammed my wide duck feet into a pair of black velvety ballet flats. As insanely mad as I was, I did have some sense of self-preservation, staying away from stilettos being one of those impulses. Live life as she would have wanted you to live it.

“Um, Lizzi, are you okay?” asked Delilah hesitantly.

“Yeah, peachy,” I replied in a falsely happy voice. I nearly ripped my translucent, gauzy shawl as I wrapped it around my bare shoulders.

“Your flats are on the wrong feet,” she pointed out. I swore and rearranged them accordingly. Getting up, I tripped over a spare trunk and went tumbling to the floor. Jen raised her eyebrows but kept silent.

“Stupid, damn shoes,” I nearly yelled, holding my throbbing foot and hopping around comically. The entire room erupted into laughter at my one-scene comedy act. See what I can do without high heels? Now imagine me in them. I figured that the castle would be burning down.

Sabrina Taylor sniffed in a far corner of the room. I ignored her, limping towards my dresser to grab my patent leather clutch. “Wanna leave now?”

“I guess,” said Jen, inserting her chandelier earrings. “You don’t have a date, though, Lizzi.”

I stopped in my tracks. She was right. I didn’t, and both of my friends did. That meant I’d been tagging along as the third – or seventh, since Yelena was celebrating her 20th anniversary of being married to food – wheel.

“I’ll figure that out when we get there,” I said quickly, refusing to think about it and moving towards the door.

 


“Lance!” Delilah said, tremendous delight imbuing that one syllable word.

“Hey, Delilah,” he greeted her. “You look amazing.” Delilah blushed; she really had it for this guy.

“Thanks.”

Only two or three feet away, Jen sighed contentedly, her head resting on Michael’s broad shoulders. I looked at Mike critically. He was tall and handsome, but his face was too short, his nose too big, his stance not wide enough, his hair too neat, his eyes not green –

Did I just think that? Temporary insanity, I assure you. Because I am not that shallow.

My friends were both happily caught in lip-locks with their dates, and I was feeling more than slightly out of place. Casting my gaze around, I sought my escape and found it in the form of a flaming crop of red hair.

I rushed towards my potential savior before I lost my nerve.

“Hey, Kent, youwanttobemydateforthedance?” I said really fast. He stared at me.

“What?”

“Youwanttobemydateforthedance?” I repeated. Why did I say that? He was going to think I was a lunatic. His jaw dropped.

“Did I hear you, the reclusive Lizzi Leilani, ask me to the Interhouse event?”

“Yes,” I stammered softly, my moment of craziness past. He looked at me inquisitively for a few more awkward seconds that seemed to last an eternity, then broke into a smile that lit up his entire face. A mischievous glint shone in his clear blue eyes.

“Of course I’ll be your date. I can’t pass up the chance to spend a night with a beautiful girl, can I?” he said smoothly. I don’t know where I got the courage from, but I managed to laugh at his outrageous attempt to sweet talk me.

“Shut up, you prat,” I said, rolling my eyes. “But before you go any further with your plan of somehow Imperiusing me into getting in a broom closet with you, I just want to say that I’m only looking for a one night fling. One time, no commitments. Is that okay with you?”

He smiled amusedly at my bluntness. “That’s usually my line, you know,” he informed me. “But it sounds perfect. I don’t mean to be offensive or anything – “

“I provided a perfect escape for you, didn’t I?” I said knowingly, watching Malfoy make out with some curvy brunette, Albus with Sabrina Taylor (that skank...she wasn’t wearing a dress so much as wearing a few scraps of cloth tied together in a knot at her back that looked like it would come undone any second), and Hugo Weasley hold hands with a tiny girl that looked and dressed like Tinker Bell. “Trust me, I know.” I looked pointedly at Delilah and Jen. Yelena had flat out refused to come until it was dinner.

“Yeah,” he said, sounding relieved that we’d come to a mutual understanding. I grinned up at him. This would work better than I’d imagined: Kent Weasley was courteous, charming, and handsome. I could do worse.

And he would make a certain boy jealous.

I shook my head and tossed that thought out of the window. Where had that come from? I wasn’t trying to make anyone jealous.

“Want to come sit with me at the Gryffindor table?” asked Kent, interrupting my reverie. I stared at him, taken aback by his offer. Was that even allowed? But my main deterrent was the fact that Potter was sitting there, and I couldn’t trust myself not to use an Unforgivable at the moment.

“No, sorry, but feel free to come sit with me at the Ravenclaw table,” I replied cheekily. Kent laughed. I was surprised; I was actually enjoying myself, not feeling any of that disloyalty to my mum whenever I’d tried to be happy the last week.

“Sure,” he agreed, amiable as always. Thank God he wasn’t moody. I felt a sharp tug on my arm.

“’Scuse me for a second,” I said, silently fuming at Delilah.

“Alright.”

“What?” I snapped at Delilah the moment we were out of earshot. She gawked at me.

“What? You’re with Kent Weasley!”

“So?”

“You didn’t tell me you knew him! I’m starting to suspect that you’re a long-lost member of the Potter-Weasley family by now, you know.”

“I would hope not, because I’m dating a member of the Potter-Weasleys, and it would be sorta awkward if we were brother and sister or something,” I said very reasonably. “And I don’t know him. We talked, like, once during some class and he seemed interested, so I asked him to go to the dance with me.”

“You asked him?”

“Yeah.”

“And he agreed?”

“Yeah,” I said again. “What’s so odd about that?”

“Well, usually the Potter-Weasley guys have this whole male pride thing where they have to ask,” Delilah said, sounding surprised. I sighed.

“I’ll go ask him about his chauvinistic impulses if you want me to,” I promised. It was the least I could do after her putting up with my semi-depression for so long. Delilah snickered.

“That’ll work great for your relationship,” she said.

“Yep. After I insult him about being a chauvinist, I will then tell him he’s completely nutters and hex him,” I explained. “That’s going to make him want to marry me, and then we can have little Kennettes and Lizettes running around!”

Delilah was having a laughing fit. “That’s a little creepy when you think of it,” she choked out. “Imagine having Potter as your cousin-in-law and keeping your hands off him...”

The mere mention of Potter’s name killed the mood.

“Oh, God,” I muttered before trudging back to Kent who was waiting for me, very patiently I might add.

“Any chance of you telling me what was so hysterically funny?” he asked me, hands crossed over his chest.

“Nope,” I said calmly. He raised an eyebrow.

“Was it about me?”

“Well...”

“Bloody hell,” he muttered, swaying to one side and feigning faintness. “I feel so weak...”

“Snap out of it,” I said, but I couldn’t help a silly grin spreading across my face. “You make me feel weak...as in the I’m going to collapse due to your atrocious acting skills kind of weak.”

Kent stopped tilting and frowned at me. “That bad?”

“Nah, just kidding,” I reassured him. “C’mon, sit.” Obediently, he sank into a chair. For the first time, I let myself admire him.

He had that signature Weasley hair in a rusty shade, and it was cropped close to his head in a neat crew cut. Freckles dotted his face if one looked closely, though it was hard to tell with his tan, and his face wasn’t anything to be turned off by. Far from it. Plus, he had one hot body.

So why didn’t I feel anything? Why wasn’t there any racing of the heart, any nervousness, and tingling? In place of these usual signs that told one that they cared, there was...nothing. And I understood then at that moment that I was broken; my world hit too hard for me to care about such frivolities anymore.

Perhaps you might wonder at the loss I undertook having such an impact. Perhaps you might go as far as to say I was overreacting.

It was funny, to think about it objectively, yet that was what I managed to do, to look at the matter as if it was someone else’s life. A stranger’s life: to examine it closely, clinically, methodically, to understand why.

I had never known my father. My only memories were of my mother and I playing at the beach when I was three, going to primary school holding her hand, playing Chutes and Ladders with her, and then, as I grew up, shopping and talking, moaning about the faults of the opposite sex. We were close as sisters despite the age difference. Yet we were not so sisterly that I’d lost my respect for her as the mother, not so sisterly that she wasn’t my compass, my map, my guide. When I’d lost her, the ground had been ripped out from my feet. It’d shown me a harsher world, in which I was now floating, discombobulated and alone.

Single and solitary, disillusioned and cold. To think that anyone could have killed my mother. A fiery pit formed at the bottom of my stomach, and rage flooded through me. Why her?

I would get my revenge on her killer. And thus, cheesy as it sounds but nevertheless true, in my mind my grief slowly transformed into the hot passion of anger, the cold vengeance I’d sworn. I wasn’t healed, but I’d glued myself together, and that was what counted. The door to my heart clicked shut and I hurled the key far, far away.

 

 

My cheerfully morbid thoughts were, thankfully, chased away when Kent placed his hand over mine. I jumped at the contact, my hand automatically slipping to my wand. It didn’t feel right. His palms were too smooth, and didn’t show any signs of wear.

“Earth to Lizzi,” he joked, his blue eyes looking at me. They were shallower than I was accustomed to. Simple is best, I told myself.

“Sorry.”

“Alyssa? Alyssa Leilani?” interrupted a tiny, nervous looking third year. I smiled at her.

“That’s me,” I said lightly, noting the parchment she was holding. She looked at me and Kent tentatively, blushing.

“Alex Kimball says to give this to you,” she said, and I stiffened. Alex. Well, I didn’t have time to worry about him or his type.

“Thank you,” I said calmly as I could manage, plucking the paper from her head.

“No problem,” she mumbled before backing away. I turned to Kent and waited until she was out of earshot.

“Am I really that intimidating?” I asked very seriously, making Kent chuckle.

“You are,” he said playfully. “Star student, prettiest girl in Ravenclaw house, and did I mention that you are Kent Weasley’s date?”

I snorted, inhaling half my butterbeer, then smacked him on the arm.

“Shut up,” I coughed as he whacked my back and I erupted into giggles. The minute I calmed down, I unfolded the note. I wasn’t interested in the least in what Kimball had to say, so I knew that if I didn’t bother to do it now, I never would.

Alyssa,
I regret to inform you that you have not made the House Quidditch team.

Ravenclaw Captain,
Alex Kimball

“What a load of baloney,” I commented, rolling my eyes. It wasn’t as if I actually cared anymore.

Kent sputtered at the words.

“He’s just mad that you wouldn’t dance with him!” Kent exclaimed. I raised an eyebrow.

“How would you know that? I mean, I could be terrible at Quidditch...”

“Heard Taylor was the only opposition for Seeker, and you can’t do worse then her,” smirked Kent. “Here’s to Gryffindor having an easy championship this year.”

Perhaps it was petty of me, but I raised my glass to his.

“May the better team win,” I said as we toasted each other with a clinking noise. I would root for the Gryffs if Delilah and Jen weren’t on the Ravenclaw team, with no disrespect to Ravenclaw, of course. It was more my contempt of Alex Kimball and Sabrina Taylor speaking; they should have been Slytherins, not Ravenclaws, I thought coolly. They had no drive to learn, only ambition and cunning...or that was true in Taylor’s case, at least. Kimball had no brains, no cunning, and no ambition, nothing except attitude. He should have been a Squib.

Not, of course, that I have anything against Squibs in general. Apart from the fact that Filch is one, that is. Speaking of which...I need to do some research. My sources say that Filch has been around since the time of dinosaurs. Do Squibs live longer?

“So,” said Kent, “how’s school?”

“It’s alright. I’m a little behind in my classes.” I neglected to mention why.

“Wait, you? No way!” exclaimed Kent. I sighed.

“Way.”

“Are the teachers insane? Because – “

Kent’s very flattering diatribe was cut up as McGonagall stepped up to the podium and cleared her throat. It was quite dim in the Great Hall, so the streaks of fiery light arcing from her left hand immediately caught your eye. I gasped almost against my will. I couldn’t help it; it’d finally dawned on me that this was the cup and the tournament. Sure, cynics like me could say it was just a media fest, but when you actually saw the thing, you could feel it, feel the centuries of mystique and legend surrounding the ritualistic competition, taste the magic in the air, and be enveloped and swept away by the misty excitement it held.

A rush of excitement coursed through me, filling every niche and particle in my body, and I laughed for no apparent reason, caught in the moment.

“You okay?” asked Kent quietly, seeming a little concerned at my temporary insanity.

My momentary giddiness had evaporated into tiny little dust balls drifting in the atmosphere.

“Yeah,” I whispered, as calmly as I could manage. “Of course I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be? Just a little...hyper, that’s all.”

Kent choked on his pumpkin juice.

“You. Hyper. Those words don’t belong in the same sentence,” he finally wheezed out after a few moments, shaking his head. I frowned at him.

“Why?”

“Because you’re...you. You’re Lizzi Leilani, the mystery girl. The paradox, the enigma, the genius– “

I rolled my eyes and held up a hand.

“Well, some of that enigma has just been unraveled,” I told him sharply. He laughed, cleaning the table with his wand.

“I suppose, eh?”

“Someone very wise once told me,” I said in perfect seriousness, “that there is only one ‘i’ in ‘platitude.’”

Kent, being the height of brilliance, started counting the letters on his fingers.

“That person also told me that there are four ‘i’s in ‘platitude quoting idiot.’”

Today’s experiment has definitely proved something: that brains do not always come with looks, because it took Kent a few more fingers to realize what I meant and throw a miniature pumpkin at me. I caught it, to my surprise.

“Quiet!” yelled Professor McGonagall, and I flushed as everyone turned to stare at me and Kent. Kent, however, was utterly unperturbed.

“You may continue, my dear professor,” he said dismissively, waving a hand, and the students snickered softly in their seats. McGonagall was not amused.

“That’s thirty points from Gryffindor,” she said, ignoring Kent’s horrified yelp. “Now, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted – “ I blushed even harder at this – “I was about to introduce the other students. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, may I call upon...Beauxbatons!”

Sure enough, the lights faltered and a spotlight shone to review a parade of fifty some pretty girls with shiny hair followed by a few adoring guys. Kent, I noticed, was completely focused on their boobs. I sighed. What a shallow airhead. It was quite unfortunate; he would have been great as an occasional date when I needed one.

Suddenly, the girl in the lead turned her head, and we locked eyes.

She was a statuesque brunette, tall and large eyed and with flawless tanned skin and a figure that would have very well suited a model, but I could see some tiny hints of red in her waist length hair. She was beautiful, certainly, yet that wasn’t what caught my attention. What did were her eyes. They were a pale, glittering blue, not warm, not icy, and filled with shock.

She broke the eye contact first, looking away to continue her strut. I couldn’t help feeling very weirded out. Why did she act like she knew me? And worse, why did I feel like I knew her?

Okay. I should really get myself expelled from Hogwarts A.S.A.P. and move to Antarctica to go belly flopping with the penguins, because this place was starting to freak me out.

The girls struck a ballet pose then filed off to one side. A rather big-boned, to say the least, woman joined them; she looked a bit gray. Hagrid waved at her, and she blushed slightly. I snickered. Hagrid and the Beauxbatons chaperone?

“And Durmstrang!” called Professor McGonagall, and the spotlight shone again. Neat rows of boys and girls dressed in dark red as opposed to the Beauxbatons periwinkle blue walked through, doing karate moves. I felt a small hand on my shoulder and jumped.

“You scared the hell outta me, Yelena!” I snapped at my friend. She shrugged, unrepentant.

“Whatever. Look at the Kung-fu Panda!” She pointed towards a round middle-aged man with a bristly black goatee. He was making rapid gestures with his pudgy, many ringed hands, and they were so choppy that he did remind me of Kung-fu Panda. I burst into laughter and was immediately shushed by an irate Delilah, who was really sucking all of this up. I clapped a hand over my mouth as I continued to giggle.

The candles above us flickered back on, and McGonagall took the stage again.

“We welcome you to Hogwarts!” she addressed the new arrivals. “Madame Maxine, Headmaster Igrotu, please stand!”

The pompous man in maroon stood self-importantly to unenthusiastic clapping from everyone except his students, who clapped so vigorously I got the sense that they would be doing extra homework, or maybe even detentions, if they didn’t. Madame Maxine, on the other hand, received a quite few catcalls and cheers; her own delegation genuinely respectful of her. McGonagall politely waited for the peanut gallery to shut up.

I shot daggers at Sabrina Taylor, who was busy making out with Albus again, out of the corner of my eye, but I’m pretty sure I missed. Hopefully the daggers sat least hit Albus.

I wasn’t jealous of her. It was just that they didn’t have to show their affection in front of the entire school. I felt my gag reflex starting to work it –

Oh, shit.

Sometimes, I’m too literal for my own good.
 

 

 

Author's Note:

Okay, I know the last chapter took forever to get up. Sorry about that. :(

And also, emo-Lizzi will be done with soon, thank God. I found this chapter and the ones around it ridiculously hard to write. :)

Something I'd like to make clear is why Alyssa doesn't just ask Al when they used to know each other. Or at least why Al thinks he knows her. The answer is: magic.

Thanks to all my readers!

-SG


Chapter 10: Champions, Guardians, and Mom's Old Flame
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“W-o-w,” said Jen, coming over to help clean up the mess. “Wow.”

“Shut it,” I muttered miserably as I waved my wand. A flurry of sparks shoved the goop that’d recently inhabited my stomach into the nearby waste basket.

Kent walked up to me, some of his former swagger gone, considering there was still a faint aroma of puke surrounding his gray sweater-vest. I blushed.

“That went well,” he said, a small grin on his face. I gave him a tentative smile back.

“Yeah, it did. Sorry.”

“Miss Leilani, do you need to go to the hospital wing?” snapped Professor McGonagall, who was really getting quite irritated with me and Kent.

“No,” I replied, ducking my head as I went into a bright shade of crimson. I could feel a thousand eyes on my back, and I shrank further into my seat. McGonagall huffed and held the Goblet of Fire up in her palm again.

“I will now announce the champions!” she called in a prim, no nonsense voice that was entirely unbefitting of the occasion. The lights flared and went out, leaving us in the pitch black. I clapped my hands over my mouth to hold back a scream.

It was really, really scary as I felt a tingling up my spine, and I knew what was about to happen before it did.

 

---xx---

I was standing in a doorway of some sort when the candle in my hand flickered and went out, leaving me in the darkness. I, however, had no time to reflect on this new dramatic change, choosing to duck instead as a stream of light shot over my head. I inhaled sharply; the light was green, which didn’t bode well for me. Throwing up a Shield Charm, I dropped to the ground and rolled just in time as twenty spells were fired at once. The maneuver definitely saved my life.

Surveying my surroundings, I guessed from the beams of light flying everywhere that there were at minimum twenty wizards here, possibly on all sides of me. I cursed; my people were good, but not so good that they could take on odds of ten to one.

“Pull out, team!” I yelled, and two figures rose next to me, reassuringly close. I knew without a second thought that I’d be glad to put my life into their capable hands. “Too many!”

“Too late,” whispered a female voice, I turned to see my second in command.

The spectator in me gasped as her eyes shone a bright, unforgettable light blue.


“God, Alyssa, stop spacing already,” snapped Delilah, shaking me. She pointed at McGonagall. “She’s about to announce the champions!”

I swayed a little, disoriented, and McGonagall’s sharp voice floated into my ears.

“...the champions are...”

A slip of paper shot out from the cup, landing in McGonagall’s hand.

“For Beauxbatons, Clark Delauney!” A short, nerdy looking boy stepped out of the wave of blue with a baffled expression on his face, like he couldn’t believe what was happening. “Madeline Louise!”

The elegant brunette trotted up next to the boy on her mile-long legs, shooting him a coy glance, and my body froze. Those eyes. It was the girl that’d stared at me, but what was more, she had the same eyes as the girl from my vision. I blinked, startled, and pinched myself to make sure I was awake.

“For Durmstrang, Igor Ivianski and Chandrelle Black!” A swarthy youth and a preppy brunette walked up to the front of the room.

Professor McGonagall seemed to stand up even straighter, if that was possible. She stared at the cup as if it was transfixed as two tiny slips flew out the rim.

“And for Hogwarts...” her voice rang out, “Albus Potter and Alyssa Leilani!”

 

 

 

I stood, frozen in place. No fricking way. There was no fricking way I, out of all people, got chosen as the Hogwarts champion along with Potter. With the one person I couldn’t stand in one of the many events I couldn’t stand. It was a one in a million chance, and yet, it still happened.

Numbly, I forced myself to stand as every eye was trained on Potter and I, grasping the edge of the table for support. With the unshakable feeling I was walking to my doom, I slowly and lethargically proceeded towards the podium, where McGonagall was beaming at me and the other two teachers were clapping reluctantly and he already stood. I averted my eyes as my fingers dug further into my palm. He, too, was determinedly looking in the other direction.

“Champions, please follow your respective Heads to receive certain information,” said McGonagall in a crisp voice. “Mr. Potter, Miss Leilani, follow me.” She beckoned towards us, and I felt my legs move in a robotic manner as I shuffled after her out of the hallway.

For the second time in a week, I found myself in the Headmistress’s office again. The same circular room spun around me, and I made myself very still on account of the person – thing – next to me.

“Professor,” I inquired the moment she turned to face us, “I want to drop out of the Tournament.”

McGonagall frowned, deeper lines appearing across her aged face.

“I am afraid that is impossible. You’ve entered into a magically binding contract with the Goblet. I know this is a bad time for you,” she added, her voice softening, “but you simply can’t withdraw. No, now you’ll just have to do your best. Besides, I think you and Mr. Potter make a great team for Hogwarts this year.”

I let out an angry breath. McGonagall looked at me. “Is something wrong?”

“No, ma’am,” I muttered. My dislike for Albus was personal, not something I would tell her, not that I didn’t like the Headmistress or anything. She nodded and turned to Potter, concern etched all over her face. I made a discreet retching noise.

I also tried not to listen, but I couldn’t help it.

“Mr. Potter, since you’ve been entered into the tournament, there’s nothing I can do,” she said worriedly. “I don’t know what you were thinking, putting your name in there. The media’s going to go insane. ‘Former Triwizard champion Harry Potter’s son entering the next tournament to carry on the family legacy.’ You have huge expectations to live up to – “

“I can handle it, Professor,” Albus interjected blandly. She looked at him for a moment, surprised at his steadiness.

“Well,” she said finally to both of us, “carry on the Hogwarts pride with your conduct and do try to win.”

I felt a small smile spread on my face.

“I will,” I said at the same time as Potter said, “We will.”

 


Half an hour later, I was nowhere nearly as happy. I stomped down the stairs in silence, anger smoldering inside me. Was she serious? I had to come up with an act to introduce the Hogwarts champions at the first scoring? And I had to do it with him? Plus, our score for the act would impact the difficulty of the next three tasks as well. If we scored high enough, we’d get a better hint for the official first task. I was about to barf.

I was not a good dancer in any way. Nor was I an acrobat, singer, or anything that would be considered a performing act. And, though I don’t want to admit it, my balance goes sort of askew when Potter is around.

“Look, Lizzi,” said Albus quietly, interrupting my internal tirade. “Why don’t we set any...personal differences aside for the Tournament?”

I tripped (proving my previous point, that my clumsiness increases tenfold) and had to grab the banister for support. “What?” I said stupidly. Yeah, my intelligence level kinda takes a hit too.

“I said, why don’t we try to get along during the competition?” repeated Albus, patience transparent in his voice. And grudgingly, I had to admit he was right. I didn’t like him, but petty grievances weren’t worth losing the Cup for. I was being just like Sabrina Taylor when I was doing this kind of thing.

“Fine,” I said shortly, not looking at him.

“Maybe we could meet Saturday morning?” he asked. I hated how calm he could be.

“Sunday’d be better,” I said reluctantly. “I have...plans on Saturday.” More like a stupid meeting with a stupid guardian with stupid money that I was obligated to go to unless I wanted to get cut off completely, which would suck, because I couldn’t pay for school then and would have to go and live as a hobo on the streets of London and beg for food and –

“Sunday then. What time?”

“Eight o’clock in the morning sound good to you?” I asked halfheartedly, hoping he’d have an appointment or a date or needed his beauty rest or something. Instead, I heard a smile in his voice.

“Sounds wonderful,” he said cheerfully.

I wanted to punch him.

 

 

When I got back to the common room, I was met by cheers, whooping, and catcalls. I flopped into a sofa nearby, too tired to take part in the celebration. I was woken from my mini-snooze by a none too gentle punch from Delilah. I took one glance at her face and thought, uh-oh. Crap.

Her eyes were blazing furiously. I’d never seen her that angry before; two spots of red were clearly apparent on her pallid cheeks, and her fingers were curled so tightly they looked about to snap.

“Why,” she screamed, “didn’t you tell me you entered the Triwizard Tournament?”

I froze in the wake of her wrath.

“Um...sorry?” I squeaked. She continued to glare at me, only the anger had given away to something softer: hurt. Immediately, I felt like the world’s biggest jerk.

“I thought we were friends. Friends tell each other things, like when they’re about to enter the most ginormous event in the history of events!” I almost laughed at her use of the word ‘ginormous,’ except I attempted to plead with her instead.

“Delilah – “

“You suck!” And with that, she stormed off in a huff, leaving me to stare after her helplessly.

“Well, honey,” said Yelena, clapping a hand on my shoulder, “you’ve really done it this time.”

 

 

“Aw, are things not working out for poor little Delilah and Lizzi, supposed best friends for life?” taunted Sabrina Taylor as I pored over my Potions essay. Fighting the itch to hex her with a neat little spell that gave one major B.O. for a week that I’d found while doing some light reading, I ignored her. She inched closer, probably miffed she wasn’t visibly getting on my nerves yet.

“What do you want, Taylor?” I finally snapped at her as she loomed so close that tiny hairs on my arms were prickling. I swiveled to face her; she was frowning.

“Leilani...” she said in an oddly non-confrontational voice. I pinched myself. Was I dreaming?

“Ow!” I pinched hard. Evidently not, then.

“What?” she asked, her keen grey eyes pinning me to the wall in a second. There were many things you could say about Sabrina Taylor, but being distracted wasn’t one of them. I shrugged.

“Pinched myself,” I said offhandedly. A corner of her lips seemed to quirk upwards. I blinked a couple times to make sure I wasn’t in some weird hallucination. Nope.

“Clumsy,” she said tartly, plopping down on my bed. I winced; I’d have to use a pretty strong Stench Removing Charm to get her lavender perfume out of the mattress.

“If you want something, just say it,” I said coolly. I hadn’t forgiven her for her last jibe quite yet. And, unfortunately, Delilah hadn’t forgiven me quite yet either.

She faltered, looking...was that uncertainty I saw on her face? A slight crease appeared between her painted eyebrows. Her mouth contorted into a grimace, and she finally spoke to break the uncomfortable silence between us, the words reluctantly dropping from her lips.

“I need your help.”

Forgetting every lesson I’d ever had about manners, I let my jaw hang as I openly gawked. Taylor, however, didn’t look so pleased; instead she gazed about to see if anyone was watching. We were the only ones in the dorm. Everyone else was still down in the common room. Her face relaxed in relief as she saw that, and with a muttered spell, the door swung shut and locked.

“For what?”

“For this,” she said quietly, and pulled up the hem of her robe – for the first time, I realized she wasn’t wearing her usual short skirts – to reveal a recent, nasty looking gash that spread from her ankle to mid calve. I stared at it, horrified. It was an unhealthy looking purple shade, and seemed ridiculously deep. I tried to approach it clinically. And completely failed.

“How did you get this?” I asked, my dislike for her forgotten at the sight of such a wound.

Taylor bit her lip and looked away.

“I can’t tell,” she said quietly. I frowned at her, a million questions going through my head.

“Why did you come to me? Why not just heal it yourself or go to Madame Pomfrey? I’m not a particularly good Healer or anything – “

“It’s a cursed wound,” she interrupted me, her voice unusually serious and not at all mocking. “I can’t go to the teachers. They’d ask questions I wouldn’t be able to answer, and they’d know something was up. I know you can probably help and that you’d keep quiet, no matter what you think of me.”

I frowned.

“Why would I keep quiet? I mean, no offense, but I don’t exactly like you,” I said bluntly. She laughed at my candidness.

“One or two?”

“What?”

“One is the response I like. Two is the response you’d probably like.”

“Two.” Anything that she liked, I hated.

“Because, as much as I hate to say this, you’re capable of empathy,” she choked out next, wheezing as if she had something lodged in her throat. Oh, wait, she did. Idiocy. “If you were in my position – “

I froze, and began thinking. If I were in her position, and I could only see that too well, I would not want to go to the teachers. And it was probably something bad she was involved in, to get a cursed wound. Dark magic, most likely. I didn’t want to get involved, but...that little twinge of conscience plucked at me.

“I don’t know many healing spells.”

“You most likely know more than I do,” she muttered. “Will you help me or not?”

I took a deep breath. Sabrina Taylor or not, that cut looked damn serious.

“I will,” I said evenly, reaching for a Potions book in my bag. “Let’s see...Draught of Health...Antidote for Cursed Wounds...Dark Arts Tonic. That ought to do the trick. You’ll have to take regular doses for a week; I’ll get to the potions as soon as I can without raising suspicion.” I pointed my wand at the massive cut and started murmuring as many incantations for healing as I knew.

The wound sealed alright, and it faded to a normal pink tone that was common for new skin. I smiled in relief as I cast one last spell against infection.

“Thanks,” Sabrina said uncertainly as she put her weight gingerly onto the leg. “I guess I won’t be calling you any names now.”

“You’d better not,” I warned her. “Remember, you have to take the potions regularly if you want to eliminate all risk of something worse happening.”

“Yes, mother,” muttered Taylor as she limped away. I couldn’t help a small grin; new respect was evident in her tone. This week was certainly turning out to be full of surprises.

A thought suddenly occurred to me.

“Wait, Sabrina!”

“Yes?” She didn’t turn around.

“What was response number one?”

“That I’d kill you if you told,” she said without missing a beat, then walked out. I shuddered.

Yeah, two was the one I liked better.

 


Breakfast was a rushed affair Saturday morning, with the fact that I had to go meet my new guardian and all. The current plan was to take a Portkey that’d been mailed to me this morning, courtesy of a huge white falcon that made the entire school turn and stare at me. Oh, and the damn Portkey ended up being a diamond necklace, of all things, with the note attached that I could “keep the necklace after the one-time Portkey is used.” What an obnoxious, rich prat.

What? Okay, maybe I’m being a little judgmental, and maybe it was a decent gesture, but no one in the history of people can take the place of my mother. I peeked around and carefully dabbed my eye with my napkin, satisfied no one was giving me strange looks.

“You and Delilah still upset?” asked Jen, poking me in the arm. I shrugged; Jen’d taken the news I was champion pretty well. Sure, she was a whiff mad. Her moods tended to blow over quickly, though, and I wasn’t too worried. That was an accurate prediction.

“More like she’s upset with me,” I said helplessly, glancing over at Delilah who was determined to carry on a conversation with Yelena, who wasn’t listening in the least. She seemed far more interested in her cranberry muffin than whatever Delilah had to say.

Jen huffed. “Must be, if she’s talking to Yelena during a meal,” she said, rolling her eyes. “By the way, did you hear that Kent Weasley is apparently in love with you now?”

“No, where’d you get that from?” I asked, amused.

“Well, people are saying that he’s pinning sonnets in your name to the common rooms, all four of them,” she said lightly. “There’s supposedly one in ours, too. Wonder how he managed it, but he is the best prankster in the school.”

I groaned loudly. “What do they say?”

“Something along the lines of ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, my darling Alyssa, I love you.’ Corny and cheesy, eh?”

“Like my cheese corn?” I pointed to my plate, and Jen wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“How...appetizing.”

“Kidding! It’s scrambled eggs.”

Jen paused, her spoon halfway in the air. “Can I have some?”

“No! They’re my scrambled eggs!” I yelled at her, hugging my plate possessively to my chest. Jen’s eyes narrowed and she reached out, her arm as quick as a whip, to snatch a piece. I barely managed to pull my precious possession out of the way fast enough to avoid her. Hastily, I stood up, and we ran around the room, Jen chasing me. I’m one hundred and fifty percent sure we looked completely ridiculous. But then, who cares?

 

“No way. You are not wearing that,” said Jen, staring me in horror. I looked down; I was wearing a ratty t-shirt, sweats, and flip flops.

“What?”

“Um, Lizzi, you don’t want your future guardian to think you’re a hobo or something.”

I rolled my eyes. “It’s only a few months before I’m legally independent. ‘Sides, I don’t even know his name, where he lives, etcetera. I just know he’s some rich guy who sent me a Portkey I was supposed to take.”

“Rich guys?” Jen looked concerned. “Okay, definitely not that.”

“It’s fine,” I sighed.

“No, it isn’t. I’m never talking to you again if you wear that to your first meeting with your guardian.” I frowned at her, then decided she was serious from the set expression on her face. “Alright,” I conceded wearily, going over to my dresser. I pulled out a silky white blouse and a pair of skinny jeans. “These good?”

“Yeah, pretty decent,” she replied, flopping down and looking at me over the top of her copy of Witch Weekly. Reassured, I stepped into a pair of black heels and grabbed my purse. Knotting my hair up into a bun and wearing a cute navy blazer, I was now doing my best to seem older and more mature. I was, after all, an all or nothing kind of gal.

“G’look!” Jen called as I drew the cream envelope, tried to calm my racing nerves, and lightly touched the diamond necklace –

The world around me blurred into a confused assortment of colors and shadows, and I knew I was on my way there.

 


I landed with a rather loud thud. It wasn’t my most graceful landing; it was only by my early training as a ballet dancer I managed to stay on my feet. Well, shows that money isn’t everything if that Portkey was so poorly enchanted. Disoriented, I had to rub my eyes to wake myself up.

I was, I noted at once, standing in front of a huge brick manor. Around it were lush green grasses and obviously professionally cared for magical plants, including a tree that seemed to give off mist. My mouth dropped open at the iron and stone gate and I began to stare. Wow. This was even more money than I’d thought.

Hesitantly, I looked down at my enchanted Hello Kitty watch, which I’d refused to part with no matter how professional I was supposed to look. It was exactly time, so I rang on the gate knocker. A wrinkly old house elf, brown and dressed in sharp gray livery popped into attendance with a poof. This wasn’t entirely unexpected, but as we didn’t have elves in the States in great numbers, I was a more than a little startled. The creature stood in silence -

“Oh, hello,” I greeted her cautiously, realizing she was waiting for me to speak. She nodded at me, expressionless.

“Welcome to the manor, miss. Please, follow me,” she said in a sort of croaky way. Completely out of my element, I followed, clutching my purse tightly. I noted that even the rocks on the path were pearly and expensive looking. Why on earth did my mother have to choose the owner of this place as my guardian? God, this was probably some gazillionair...I was really happy at the moment that I’d taken Jen’s advice on what to wear, because if I was wearing that ratty old t-shirt, I would die of embarrassment.

We reached the ginormous mahogany doors, and the elf waved her hand. The doors magically opened, revealing a crystal chandelier and rich Persian rugs set in a one thousand square feet foyer. My eyes were blinded by the dazzle of the rocks, most likely diamonds, hanging from the dome ceiling, so I looked down at my feet.

“Come,” urged the house elf, gesturing at me to follow her past another double door. I entered a room that somewhat resembled a study.

“Good morning,” said a cool voice, and my head whipped around to its source. My jaw dropped open all the way to the ground.

Because the person sitting there? It was Draco Malfoy.

 

 

Malfoy wasn’t half bad looking, to be honest, with his white blonde hair and sharp grey eyes that didn’t miss much. He reminded me of an attorney, a really good attorney, in his elegant black robes; he sat behind a cherry wood desk as if he was a principal of some school and I was a miscreant. I shrank further into my coat.

“Miss Leilani?” he asked smoothly, and gestured to a chair that appeared in front of me. “Please take a seat.”

Numbly, I flopped into the leather office chair.

“Mr. Malfoy. I didn’t know you were going to be my guardian,” I said awkwardly. His thin lips twitched a little, like he was holding back a laugh. I grinned inwardly. I’d almost made Draco Malfoy smile! C’mon, everyone, clap for the Lizzi.

“Apparently so,” he replied rather dryly. “Coffee?”

“Thank you, sir. Is this hazelnut?” I accepted the steaming cup he handed me, appreciating the drink’s rich flavor. “Delicious.”

“Yes, Hazelnut is my favorite.”

Both of us seemed to run out of words after that, something that I sensed was a rare occurrence for Malfoy, and we sat in a silence that was almost tangible and definitely smothering. Gee, this wasn’t weird at all.

He actually looked hesitant as he cleared his throat.

“Did Emily – your mother ever speak of me?” he asked slightly nervously. I shook my head, bewildered.

“No, definitely not,” I admitted. “That’s why it was such a shock.”

“Oh,” he said quietly, almost like he was disappointed. I frowned.

“Did you know her well?”

“I did,” he muttered bleakly after a moment, “but evidently not as well as I thought.” He glanced at me almost accusingly. “After all, you are living proof of that.”

“What do you mean?”

“We were close at a time,” he answered vaguely. For the first time, his eyes seem to hold real concern. “How are you coping with your mother’s untimely demise?”

I blinked, startled by the unexpected question. “Al – Alright,” I said, faltering a little. I’d been so much better the last two days or so, managing to not think about it at all, and with the absence of the nightmares, my life had almost been peaceful. Thanks for mentioning it, Malfoy.

“That’s good to know.”

“It is,” I agreed with a flippantness I didn’t feel.

“So how is my son these days?” he asked abruptly, changing the topic.

“Scorpius?” I asked in surprise. “Well, I don’t really know him too well, but I think he’s living up to your expectations, especially if they include dealing banned products to first years.”

“Really.” He raised one elegantly arched eyebrow. I shrugged.

“At least you can find comfort in the fact that he’s a shrewd businessman, very much like you,” I said lightly.

“Perhaps,” said Draco Malfoy, seeming to have to smother another smile. “Speaking of businesses...allowances...”

“I don’t need anything,” I interrupted quickly. “I’m quite fine with what I have at the moment.”

His lips seemed to vanish. I looked at him straight on, unrepentant. I didn’t like living on charity or being indebted to anyone.

“You will have an allowance. I won’t let anyone say that the Malfoys are stingy.”

“It’s okay – “

“You need not spend it, as long as you dress as well as you did today,” he interrupted me, rubbing his forehead wearily. “But I can’t in good conscience disregard Emily’s daughter, can I?”

“I guess,” I conceded quietly. My brain was already going: if I didn’t have to spend it, I could always tuck it away in a storage vault to donate to charity or give it back...somehow. Although that might be a little difficult. I supposed I could just purchase tons of stuff from WWW illegally for the good of all Ravenclaws. I wasn’t a stickler for rules like Yelena, and the other prefect, Jason, wouldn’t bother me (I hoped). Besides, distribution was best saved until mealtimes, where Yelena’s heart, mind, and soul was sucked into the scrumptious vortex we call food.

“Good,” said Mr. Malfoy. “I’ll mail over a check monthly.”

I didn’t want to sound ungrateful, so I added a quick, “Thank you, sir.”

He bobbed his head. “You’re very welcome, Alyssa. You’ll visit again next week, yes?”

“Of course,” I acquiesced, rising, and wondered silently whether Scorpius knew of this new arrangement. I hoped not; it would be so embarrassing at school if we were...whatever we were. “Bye, Mr. Malfoy.”

“Good-bye,” he said softly, also rising, and clasped my hand one more time, as if for reassurance, and I had to blink back a tear at the hunch that he might have held my mother’s hand the same way some ten or twenty years back.

I followed the elf through the front door and swiftly walked away from the manor, that unfamiliar feeling still emanating from my hand.
 


Chapter 11: The Only Thing We Require
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Rose Weasley’s POV

I tentatively pushed the door to the boys’ dormitory, watching the light spread to hit the bunks.

“Scorpius?”

“Yeah?” he asked, seemingly still half asleep.

“I need to talk to you,” I stammered quietly, blushing at the sight of him in a tight-fitting white tee. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t seen him with his shirt off before, I reminded myself, with him being my cousin’s best friend and all that. But damn that boy had some muscles.

“Sure, Rose.” He sat up, looking alert all of a sudden, and climbed out of his bed. I averted my eyes as he pulled on a pair of slacks, nonplussed that I was seeing him in his boxers. I was certain I was going red all over.

He followed me to a little ways outside the dorm.

“I like getting social visits from you,” he drawled as I stopped to turn and face him. A corner of his mouth was quirking upwards, like he was somewhat amused. I frowned at him, then remembered why I was here again and started blushing.

“Um, Scorpius,” I began, “I might not be able to go to Hogsmeade with you today.”

His expression was unfathomable.

“Might?”

“Won’t,” I admitted. “I forgot I already promised to go shopping with Lily, and she just broke up with Scamander...”

“Oh,” was all he said.

“I’m really sorry,” I rushed to fill the awkward silence between us. “It’s nothing personal.”

“I see. Well, have fun with Lily,” he said calmly. I might have imagined the disappointment lingering in his steps as he walked away, but somehow, I was the one left feeling crushed.

 


Alyssa’s POV

“How was it?”

“Good,” I said distractedly. Honestly, I didn’t really want to tell Jen that Draco Malfoy was my guardian, or at least not yet. I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with her exclamations at the moment.

Jen snorted. “You’ll have to give me more details than that,” she admonished, arms crossed over her chest.

“What details are there to give?” I asked.

“Was he nice? Where did he live? What did he think of you?” Jen prompted. I sighed.

“He was very nice, if a little reserved. He lives in this giant mansion, and I don’t know what he thinks of me. I hope it’s positive, though,” I replied reluctantly. This was good enough for Jen.

“Not bad. C’mon, it could’ve been worse,” she added, catching my expression. “He could have been eighty, fat, and hated you on sight.”

I laughed. “I like to think no one could ever hate me on sight, thanks to my beauty and charm.”

“Don’t forget modesty,” Jen reminded with a straight face, and we erupted into a giggling fit, much to Jason’s annoyance.

“I’m trying to study here!” he bellowed, waving his sixty-foot long essay around the common room. Jason had, according to Jen, recently learned that his prefect status would be in danger if he didn’t up his abysmal performance in Transfiguration. As expected, he was applying himself more than usual...and staying up until two in the morning so all you could hear, every single night, was the scratching of a quill pressed harder than necessary and rather colorful words that definitely weren’t spells whispered vehemently.

“Sorry, Jase, didn’t know you had so many ants in your pants,” we chorused, then swiftly went back to completing our own Transfiguration paper on “In the Abstract: How the Theory of Sianora’s Animal-Plant Transformation Affects Transfiguration Today.”

“Did you get Shannon Eclipse’s failed pig-fern experiment as an example yet?” Jen whispered to me, watching her brother warily. I nodded.

“I’m still missing one,” I muttered.

“Same.”

“D’you have the first wax to crayon transformation as an example of principles of the theory transcending into other categories of transfiguration and allowing for the development of the subject to further expand?”

“Good one,” said Jen, scribbling it down. “What about the successful raid on Trill Village in 1478 as how this theory was applied in history?”

“Nope, thanks!” I exclaimed, jotting down what she’d said. “I’m done, then.”

“Yep. Exploding Snap or Wizards Chess?”

I shrugged and looked across the room to Delilah and Yelena.

“Delilah, Yelena, want to play Exploding Snap or Wizards Chess with us?”

Delilah frowned at me and jerked her head, firmly looking in the other direction, but Yelena looked conflicted. Finally, she appealed to Delilah.

“We could have a Wizard Chess bughouse, you and me against Jen and Alyssa,” she pleaded, trying to make brown puppy eyes and failing drastically. Not that, of course, we would ever tell her that.

Delilah didn’t respond, and Yelena’s broad shoulders sagged a little. “Alright, then,” she said mournfully, this time really looking like she was about to cry. I could see Delilah beginning to cave. Being the most softhearted of our group (or what used to be our group), she couldn’t stand sad faces.

“Fine,” she finally said, not looking at me as she walked over. “But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven Alyssa for being an idiot yet.”

“Yet?” I asked hopefully, my ears perking up. She glared at me, making eye contact. I flinched and could feel the first bubble of anger rising. Sure, she had a right to be a little angry, but I had some tough stuff to deal with lately. If she’d only think a little, she’d get it; besides, I hadn’t even wanted to be picked, just entered to annoy Potter. Not that she knew that, but still.

I slammed the chessboard down on the rug.

“I’m not playing anymore,” I snapped sulkily, like a small child, and stalked up the stairs.

 

 

I didn’t know exactly where I was. All the signs were in French, but it seemed like a station of some sort. A burly blonde young man in a light blue polo strode towards me, and I felt my face, for some reason, break into a huge grin.

“John!” I exclaimed, rushing over to hug him. “How’re you? Where’s Annie?”

He wrapped his arms around my back, and I breathed in the comforting smell of his cologne.

When we finally broke apart, he said, “It’s great to see you too, Alyssa.”

“What about me?” asked a feminine voice, and I turned to see a slender brunette of about twenty. She was very pretty, in a sort of mundane way, and she rather reminded me of Delilah.

“I’d never forget you, Annie,” I reassured her, laughing, grabbing onto both their hands. “So, what have you been up to lately?”

“Art school’s been great. We’re getting a Picasso imported to study Wednesday.”

“Psyched?” I asked.

“Definitely.”

“What about you, John?”

“The States are wonderful,” he replied enthusiastically. “You’re probably sick of listening to me babble about my major...”

“Probably,” I agreed, to which he glared at me briefly.

“Alyssa,” he chastised. I grimaced.

“Sorry.”

The minute the word escaped my lips, a wand was held like a knife at my throat, and a thick arm had wrapped itself from the abdomen.

“Don’t move,” the man holding me said in a deep, scratchy way.

John and Annie looked at him in abject terror as I contemplated what to do next. Only one thought was running through my head: how could I have slipped up so badly?

And with a crash and a burst of red light, everything faded into nothing.

 


“Lizzi, do you ever get enough sleep?” asked Jen, frowning at me. I shrugged, tracing the area underneath my eyes for excessive puffiness.

“I’m fine,” I reassured her, shuddering. “Other than the fact that I have to go and meet with Albus Potter right now. Champion thing. God, the very idea gave me nightmares.”

“It’s alright,” Jen said sympathetically, patting me on the shoulder. “I understand why you can’t sleep now. He’s a jerk, but don’t let him get to you, and you’ll be okay.”

“I hope,” I grumbled, hefting my purse. “I feel like hexing someone right now. How much are you going to bet it’s going to end up being him?”

“A lot.”

I laughed as I headed for the door. “Thanks.”

Walking down the stairs, I felt as if I was going to my doom. Each slow step I took reminded me of the repetitive sound of time ticking in a grandfather clock, and I hastened; I was feeling a little creeped out. I was, after all, all alone with the shadows and webs stretching across the abandoned corridor in which I was wondering. I suddenly realized I hadn’t specified where to meet Albus.

A perfect reason to back out, I mused, preparing to move in the opposite direction. Before I could turn, though, a voice drifted out of a nearby room. I froze.

“Excellent,” it said, and the sound cut me to my core, drawing fear for some unknown reason. Although it was hopelessly distorted, it carried an edge – a nasal edge that made my blood crawl. Slowly, thoughts of Potter forgotten, I began to creep towards the door. I was surprised at the way my feet complied, and I floated on the ground, coordinated and not making a single thud or scrape or swish.

“Please to serve, my lord,” a high, indifferent pitch rang out. I frowned at the sound; it was so insincere that it was almost mocking. “This servant lives to serve.” She laughed, a peal of bell-like tones.

“Spare me.” There was a rustling, as if either the unknown entity or the girl moved. “Thank you, my dear, for taking care of that blonde bitch, by the way. She was beginning to make me nervous.”

“Indeed,” she agreed, “too clever by half, that one.”

A low chuckle rang through the corridor, only there when you listened for it, but impossible to ignore after you did. It wasn’t, however, warm the way chuckles were supposed to be; there was a hard, icy blade to it.

“Anything else I should be informed of?”

“No,” the girl stated flatly, blandly. I could hear the scuttling of feet and the crackling of the fire as the other occupant of the room deliberated whether to trust her answer.

“I will take my leave, if that is all.”

“Good-bye, my lord.” There was nothing except a tiny popping noise to signify the man or woman was gone. I inched towards the door, curious and afraid that the girl might still be there. When there was no sign of movement, I snuck a quick glance at the interior of the room.

Mystified that there was no one there, I stepped in, and the fireplace caught my eye: it glowed the same freakish purple as the people who’d attacked me and Al in Knockturn Alley for the briefest moment before vanishing for good, and I was left there to ponder.

 

 

Scorpius’s POV

I watched Kent stuff a muffin further into his gaping mouth.

“Delicious,” he said, licking crumbs and the odd blueberry off his lips. I winced, while Rose looked positively revolted. Delicately, I began to cut my own pastry with a silver knife.

“Stop being so neat, Malfoy,” said Rose, rolling her eyes and tossing her thick titian hair. I stared at it and the way the light seemed to do cartwheels on it. Flounce, sparkle, glisten...

“Scorp, she just insulted you,” broke in the teasing voice of Lily Weasley, the youngest in our group. “Are you going to take that?”

“Huh? What?” I blinked.

“I said, it’s annoying,” repeated Rose, looking greatly amused.

I shrugged to cover my momentary lapse of good sense. Rose had utterly chickened out on our Hogsmeade date, and there was no way in hell I would ever work up the courage to do that again (without the influence of drugs or alcohol, that is).

“Good manners mean something in my family,” I retorted. I could never resist the jibes at Rose’s very big, very noisy, and very famous assortment of parents and uncles and aunts and cousins and grandparents.

“Pig,” she snorted. Ah, the irony. Although I said nothing: I liked my head where it was, thank you very much.

“Speaking of pigs, where’s Al?” asked Lily, buttering her muffin. “I was trying to find him this morning, but he wasn’t there in the dorm.”

“Don’t know,” Rose said flippantly. “What’d you need him for?”

Lily made a face.

“D.A.D.A. practice,” she explained. “I’m trying to get a head start, and Al knows, like, everything there is in the world on the subject.”

“He’s doing some champion thing.” With the Leilani girl, I silently added, but that was Al’s business and no one else’s. We guys have got to have some secrets, anyway.

“Oh.” Lily sighed woefully. “Guess I’ll have to do without him.”

Lily, surprisingly enough, was the Potter-Weasley child who took after her Uncle Ron. She was a master strategist both on and off the chess board, and she was especially good at getting people to do things her way. Unfortunately, even armed with the advantage of prior knowledge, my shields were splintered on contact when hit with her deadliest weapon: the dreaded puppy dog eyes.

“Alright! I’ll do it with you!” I caved. Kent, unusually silent during our short exchange, snickered loudly, and I shot him a death glare. “If you don’t behave yourself, Hufflepuff, I’m going to hold a vote to get your honorary Gryffindor status repealed.”

“Repealed?”

“Voided. Invalidated. Destroyed,” I threatened, staring him straight in the eye. He blanched pure white and didn’t say another word. Satisfied, I turned back to lil’ Lily. “C’mon.”

 


Alyssa’s POV

I whirled around, reflexes kicking in, and I sank into a fighter’s crouch with my hand gripping my wand underneath my robes –

“Alyssa!” he exclaimed in surprise at the same time as I said, “Potter!”

We lapsed into a preferable silence as I waited for him to speak.

“Funny to find you here,” he commented at last in a flat voice, raking a large hand through his unruly hair. I smiled without much humor.

“I could say the same for you,” I pointed out, my hand reluctantly letting go of my battered, secondhand wand. Champion unity, I chanted to myself. Remember champion unity. A tiny crease formed between his eyebrows.

“I was looking for you.”

“It wasn’t as if I wasn’t!” I protested, flushing angrily. For some reason, the littlest thing he said could set me off like a time bomb.

“You weren’t looking very hard,” he said wryly.

“I was so looking,” I lied through my straight, recently un-braced, and tightly gritted teeth. An amused glint entered his glimmering emerald eyes, and I barely managed not to do something excessively violent.

“Of course,” he conceded without conceding at all.

I snapped at him. “Shut up, Potter.”

“Whatever you’d like,” he drawled in that same infuriating Albus-Potter-esque way. “But if you want to get anything done, you’d better come on. I’ve got something to show you.”

Muttering darkly to myself, I followed him as he walked in the opposite direction. I prayed to God that I wouldn’t actually kill him today. There probably would be severe repercussions for attempting to murder Harry Potter’s son.

We furiously climbed sets of stairs until we reached the seventh floor. I grimaced, panting. I was in good shape, but not that good. Unfortunately I was outdone in that area: Potter wasn’t even breaking a sweat.

“Why are we in front of a blank wall again?” I asked, annoyance clouding my voice. Potter tried to mask irritation on his part, but failed entirely.

“Wait,” he ordered curtly, sounding just as annoyed as me. I kicked him in the shin. And pretty hard too, I must say.

“Ow!”

I plastered my best innocent look on my face and hummed to myself, greatly pleased, since getting the last word didn’t mean much if the last word was “ow.” Alyssa: one, Potter: two million. But we could always work on those statistics.

“Watch,” he demanded this time, hopping and clutching a foot. I burst out laughing at the comical sight; he glared at me.

“I thought we were going to try to get along.”

“We were,” I mumbled guiltily, turning my attention back to the wall. “So, I’m watching now – oh!”

A jolt of shock rushed through me as I stared at the massive stone door that formed before my eyes, with a polished silver handle. On the front, a plaque hung reading: the Room of Requirement in golden block letters.

“Wow,” I said, impressed in spite of myself. For the first time since the attack we’d survived together, Albus grinned at me. Not that fake grin, but something genuine, and I felt something warm course through my body from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Stupid me, I chastised myself, that he could have an effect like that.

“Cool, isn’t it?”

“But how do we get the door to open? It’s rock. And I don’t mean to offend your manly sensibilities, but I don’t think you can move about a ton of granite.”

“Just watch,” he said mysteriously, and the granite turned to wood, particle by particle. I stared at the door, awestruck, touching it to see if it was real.

“Are you serious?” I asked incredulously. “What is this place?”

“I do know a few things about Hogwarts,” Albus said, smiling dazzlingly, and I found myself entirely diverted. “It’s a Potter tradition.” He slowly pushed the door open, and strode in confidently.

“Welcome to the Room of Requirement.”

 


The room wasn’t that impressive to another eye; it was a comfy place with red and gold brocade hangings and a few plushy sofas in a wonderful neutral shade that matched the backdrop perfectly. Flames twisted in an earthy fireplace, and bookcases lined the side of the room in dark wooden shelves and glass cases. A brown rug was laid in place on the floor with a few beanbags scattered around. Off to the side, there was a small desk with papers strewn everywhere. Some people, it might have been considered messy, or even a bit shabby, but to me it was perfect, a safe haven, located in the exact best spot in my comfort zone. I turned to look at Al in amazement that he’d found such a wonderful place. Any prior emotion I’d felt was forgotten in the wake of this new secret.

“What is this place?”

“My hideout,” he said sheepishly. He looked faintly embarrassed, unsure of himself, as if this was unfamiliar territory he was exploring. I screwed up my face in confusion. This couldn’t have been the first time he divulged the information to someone.

Suddenly, a massive golden frame on one side caught my eye. An oil painting of a family hung on the chocolate colored wall. In it, two adults stood, one with messy black hair that looked just like Albus – Harry Potter, I realized. That meant the beautiful woman with bright red hair standing next to him had to be Ginny Potter, who was holding a giggling toddler with a crop of dark red hair. Three boys stood in front of them, occasionally escaping their mother’s eye to engage in a lively game of tag. The twelve or thirteen-year old that possessed the one with light brown locks was definitely Teddy Lupin, currently an Auror under his godfather’s supervision, and the one that looked about six or seven had to be James. But I only had eyes for the youngest boy.

He was adorable, full of a childish naiveté that was entirely lacking now; he often glanced out of the picture and grinned, making dimples appear in his ruddy cheeks which possessed a healthy tan and fairly glowed with happiness.

“Is that you?” I asked abruptly, gesturing at the picture in surprise. Albus shrugged.

“Yeah.”

“With your family, right?”

He rolled his eyes. “Of course not. After all, I am in the habit of sitting for three hour paintings with absolute strangers.”

I acted on my impulse and whacked him, feeling great satisfaction as my open palm collided with his toned abs. “Shut up, Potter.”

He laughed in response. I decided if I was going to resort to violence, I’d do it thoroughly, and lightly kicked him in the shin this time. He laughed harder, so I moved to punch him. I had forgotten about his lightning fast reflexes – quickly, he grasped my hand mid-strike without meaning to, his warm fingers closing over mine, and a small puff of air left my windpipe as I felt the deliriously wonderful feel of his rough skin brushing against my own –

“Sorry,” we said hastily at the same time, both a little breathless, a little unhinged, and both jumping like the other was breathing poisonous fumes. Delicious fumes. I blushed, feeling heat course through me. I tried to pull my hand away, but he didn’t relinquish his hold. I should have been angry, except my anger was gone, repressed until it was carried away by the wind.

“Alyssa...” he said quietly, thumb tracing over my fingers.

“Yes?” I stammered, my heart racing desperately.

“I wanted to say I was sorry,” he said slowly, as if apologizing wasn’t something he did very often. “For...you know.”

My hand slid out of his grasp, while two spots of color bloomed on my cheeks; why on earth did Potter have to be the only one who could make me feel this way?

Now, if I was a Disney princess, I would swoon dramatically, and then forgive him. He would propose on bended knee, pulling out a sparkling diamond ring, we would kiss, and together ride into the sunset on a beautiful white horse. But real life doesn’t work that way. Instead of being swept off my feet, anger and pent up frustration overwhelmed me.

“Sorry doesn’t cut it,” I said shortly, irritation eating at my fuse and creating a spark. The more I thought about it, the more angry I was; inexplicably angry, for all he did was say a single, often polite word, yet nonetheless in a rage. My hair seemed to feel my wrath, as it fizzed out in all directions. Crap. Now I was mad and had frizzy hair. “In fact,” I continued, my voice growing louder with every syllable, “’sorry’ doesn’t do a thing for me!”

I stormed out of the room when I felt my vision blur with a misty film, and in slow motion, it seemed, a single drop splashed onto the beige carpet, making a dark brown crescent mark in the fibers.

 


I barely made it into the Ravenclaw common room before I burst into tears. Half blind, I stumbled up the stairs, stubbing my toe, to collapse into my bed. What was this...the third time now? I needed to get over myself, I told myself quietly. Only whenever I thought of my mother, my eyes started to wet.

Not to mention Potter. The name brought out a discordant melody of emotions, happiness, caring, and gratitude, mixed with more than a substantial amount of the negative. Mostly it was anger. I still hadn’t gotten over everything, or anything, to be honest.

My eyes flickered over to a book resting on the floor only inches from my bed, near Sabrina’s bunk. Hesitantly, I picked it up; a book would do wonders for my taxed brain. I had to calm down enough to think of everything clinically, I reminded myself, to get anything done at all.

Without even bothering to glance at the cover, I flipped to the first page and sank into a world of floating ink and creamy white.

Unlocking the Secrets of Your and Others’ Minds, I read, jumping with a start. Legilimency, I realized at once, and I melted into the fantasy world even more, away from reality and away from my troubles.

If you are reading this, you are one of the millions of individuals who struggle with the art of organizing their minds. Do not fear, because this book will be your guide.

The text you hold is a guide to Legilimency and Occlumency. Knew it, my six-year-old inner monologue gloated.

For the first part of this book, you’ll be learning how to organize your mind, the number one step in Occlumency, the art you’ll learn first. This exercise can also be useful before stressful events, for example, test taking.

Begin by clearing your mind. Sit in a comfortable position, relax, and let all your thoughts, both positive and negative, flow away from you. Focus on your breathing, and close your eyes.

When you reach a state of mental calm, you have completed the first half of entering your “refuge.” The second half is much harder.

Reach inside yourself and search for your inner core. The difficulty of this is not knowing what to expect: the innermost essence of every person is different, as is its location. It is best to enter without any expectations whatsoever to provide optimal chance of finding your core. Be aware, this might take some time before you can accomplish it.

After finding your “core,” you should have found a perfect building ground, a place to create your special place. This place should be a refuge, and can look like anything you’d like. This will become the contents of your mind that must be protected. Building a shield around your place would be the next step. Making a fortress or shield is very popular. Be sure to guard your pool of power very carefully!

 

I closed the book, interested. Following the instructions, I sat amid the soft, fluffy mattress and closed my eyes, letting the black soothe me. Strangely enough, I’d never had an issue with the dark. Even as a child the dark had been something mysterious, something tantalizing and calming, as far from an object of fear as possible. My pulse slowed and I breathed in deeply, allowing the air I inhaled to fill my lungs from the bottom up, then released. Repeating the process, my mind cleared amazingly quickly.

It felt so good, just breathing in and breathing out. An insurmountable amount of time passed, and slowly, I drifted farther and farther away from my dimension. Laughing inside, no thoughts, only emotions, I marveled at the wonder of being free. Free, free, free.
 

A/N:

Just a FYI, the thing that the chapter title refers to is family, if you didn't catch it.

And 2000+ reads! I would really appreciate some more review too. Thanks, everyone!

-Sola Grey :)


Chapter 12: The Weighing of the Champions
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“Alyssa!” a high-pitched voice screamed in my year, “Alyssa!”

“What?” I asked rather rudely shocked out of my zone. I’d been feeling so good...

“Thank God,” said Jen with no small amount of relief, wrapping me in a bear hug. I hugged her back, wondering what this was all about.

When she finally let me up for air, she took one look at my face and stared.

“What?” I repeated.

“You really have no idea, do you?” she asked, appalled.

“Nope.” Yep, you should join the one word reply bandwagon too!

“How could you? You were out for, like, ten minutes before I could get you up!” she snapped.

“No, I wasn’t. I just started meditating – “

“Uh, yeah you did,” she said with an air of finality. “I was worried to death.”

“But – “

“Just shut it. Why am I friends with you again?” she wondered to no one in particular, her button nose sticking straight up in the air. I laughed.

“Because I’m the most amazing, awesome, wonderful, fantastic, terrific, excellent, marvelous, extraordinary – “

“Enough!” She laughed, and I took it that I was forgiven. I grinned widely.

“How was your day, then?” I asked, since she had that happy glow emanating from her, her cheeks flushed and her hair in wild disarray. “Anything – anyone – interesting?”

She blushed bright red and smacked me on the arm. “No!”

I snorted. “Yeah, right. Now, are you going to spill of your own volition or do I have to threaten you with a Babbling Jinx?”

“Oh, no! Not the dreaded Babbling Jinx!” she gasped in mock horror.

I raised my wand threatening, sliding it out of my pocket. “Bibbity bobbity – “

“You win,” she conceded, giggling and starry eyed as she thought of whatever she’d spent her day doing. “I just had the most amazing day with Michael.”

“Woah, why didn’t you tell me right away?” I demanded. “How was it? What did you do?”

“We snuck out of the castle to the Three Broomsticks, courtesy of the secret passageway Del and I found last year – “

“Secret passage?”

“Next to the one-eyed witch. Uh, yeah. We had a couple Butterbeers, a few corncakes, and it was amazing. We talked about, like, everything. Totally connected.” She grinned widely at me, inviting me to share her excitement. “He’s so sensitive and kind.”

“That’s wonderful!” I exclaimed, holding up a hand for a high-five. She blushed again.

“You think?”

“Yeah, you two are really getting somewhere.”

“Thanks, Lizzi,” said Jen, smiling from ear to ear. “You’re a really great friend, you know that?”

This time, it was my turn to turn tomato red. “Thanks,” I said softly after a good moment. “You know, you’re pretty great too.”

 


Okay. This might sound shameful, but I was hiding from Potter – again. I was always avoiding him. Why couldn’t he just quit or something, so I didn’t have to do this anymore? Jeez. It was all his fault. Everything was his fault.

“Are you okay?” asked Jen, interrupting my reverie and nudging me in the middle of Potions. I was slicing my what-ever-it-was-called root with far more force than necessary. I frowned for a second, then realized I was glowering darkly at the somehow offending ingredient.

“Yeah.” Drop in three pieces of hemlock extract, neutralize the poison via the enchanted peppermint, I chanted to myself. Stir, stir, stir...voila!

“Class! Miss Leilani’s done it!” Professor Grundy crowed excitedly, walking over in huge strides. “Look at this! A wonder!” He sniffed my cold, frothing brew, grinning widely. “Perfect, smells just as it should.”

Sabrina Taylor glared at me. Her potion, I was happy to note, was a wonderfully appealing shade of puce. Or puke, to be more accurate.

“Thanks, Professor,” I said demurely, folding my hands on top of one another. Jen snickered in appreciation, while Yelena just rolled her eyes and leaned closer to hiss at me.

“Really, that’s so immature, Lizzi.”

“Sorry,” I said to appease her, but not sorry at all. She harrumphed and turned her attention back to her potion.

“Professor?” said a high, snobby voice. “Professor?”

Molly Weasley stood at the door. Don’t get me wrong, but Molly was one of my least favorite Weasleys, me being the absolutely judgmental person I am; she had all the makings of an up-and-coming Sabrina Taylor, with her designer robes and painted face.

“Mr. Finch-Fletchley says that the six champions should go outside to the Quidditch field,” she said primly, head held high and just screaming, oh, look at me: I’m sooo special. “That’s Alyssa Leilani in this class, sir.”

Professor Grundy’s sharp gaze landed on my face.

“Well,” he said after a second of pause, “Miss Leilani, you are free to go.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said as politely as I could manage with stares openly burning into my skin, and resolved to keep my back ramrod straight while I followed Molly out of the classroom.

We arrived at the Quidditch pitch momentarily. The other champions had been assembled; apparently, I was a latecomer. I didn’t meet Potter’s eyes even as I sought him from the corner of my view, sought that familiar, comforting figure amid all the foreigners.

“Miss Leilani,” I was greeted cordially, if a little coolly, by a tall man smartly dressed in a black pinstripe suit.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. – ?” I stammered out. He nodded at me.

“My name is Justin Finch-Fletchley,” he said in that same smooth voice. “I’m one of the five judges for the tournament, here on behalf of the Department of Magical Sports and Games.”

“Oh,” was the only thing I could think of to say.

He didn’t get a chance to say anything else, as a middle-aged woman appeared with a small pop. She was tiny, at about four feet six inches tall, with long brown hair that fell gracefully to her ankles, and wore a maroon satin gown.

“Meezter Potter!” she exclaimed, jumping up to kiss Al on both cheeks. “’Ow good eet eez to see you again!”

Al smiled at her, nonplussed.

“As charming as ever, Miss Ollivander,” he said, bending into a deep bow. “How is England suiting you so far?”

I stared at him, not bothering to conceal my astonishment. It had, surprisingly enough, never occurred to me that Albus Potter could possess the skills of a...socialite.

“Very vell,” she said, beaming. “England eez seemply vonderful.”

“This is Dr. Alicia Ollivander, returning from France to carry on her retiring father’s business,” said Mr. Finch-Fletchley dryly, eyeing the enthusiastic woman with something akin to bemusement. I barely managed to hold back a snort. She was...rather affectionate for a doctor. “I take it you’ve already been introduced to Mr. Potter?”

“Eendeed I ‘ave!” she said loudly, still cheerful. Her warm brown eyes found mine, and I groaned in apprehension. “And zees young English lady must be hees wife!”

I turned beet red, and it got so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. My eyes traced patterns in the mud.

“Oops, am I meestaken?” she gasped, hand pressed to her collarbone as she looked around at the silent, confused, or, most of all, awkward faces. Al, damn him, had dancing eyes, and although outwardly serene, I knew he was about to burst into laughter any second.

“We’re not married,” I refuted quickly to spare myself further embarrassment. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way I planned it; Potter couldn’t hold back a chuckle this time. I had to resist the urge to cast a Jelly-Legs Jinx. And discreetly place a silencing charm on the woman.

“Oh! Even better, I can come to ze vedding!” said Dr. Ollivander. Potter finally cracked and expressed amusement at my dilemma...great amusement.

“Of course you can!” he said warmly to the good doctor. “It probably won’t be for some five thousand years, at the way things are currently progressing, but that’s quite alright.” He winked at me rather suggestively, causing me to flush a mortified red. “After all, anything can happen.”

“Shut it, Potter. You’re the last person I’d ever marry,” I hissed at him, hand on my wand. I delicately slid it into my sleeve and pointed it at his feet. Jellify, I chanted silently, and was immensely disappointed that Potter didn’t even wobble as he undid the curse nonverbally. Stupid, handsome, capable Potter. Maybe I should try something else...

“Let’s skip the bickering and proceed with the ceremony,” interrupted a slightly irritated Mr. Finch-Fletchley, casting a glare at Potter and – completely unfairly – me. I opened my mouth to protest, then shut it as I began to use my head. Wow, Lizzi. You’re acting like a Kent right now.

“The wedding eez now?” cried Dr. Ollivander, practically jumping up and down. “But I need time to change and get ready!”

“No, there is no wedding,” Mr. Finch-Fletchley snapped, briskly moving towards the tent. “The ceremony I’m talking about is the Weighing of the Wands.” Everyone could hear the “you dolt” he didn’t say but implied.

The bewildered champions of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang followed, and I had to laugh at the way the boy with the glasses had eyes that were bugging out ten feet out of his head when he looked at his partner. I could already tell they were going to get so much done.

We entered the spacious beige tent, and Dr. Ollivander sat down in a plushy chair. I frowned; where was my chair?

“Mr. Delauney,” said Mr. Finch-Fletchley crisply, and also impatiently, like this was taking far longer than he’d planned, “you first.”

“Yes, sir,” Four Eyes said meekly, patting down his dirty blonde hair. He walked slowly towards Dr. Ollivander, sliding his wand towards her.

“Ah,” said Dr. Ollivander, her face lighting up the moment she touched the instrument, “one of Madame Zrina’s, I take eet?”

Delauney nodded mutely, shoulders slumped. Way to take one for the team, Goblet.

“Never approved of ‘er style, I must say. And vat ees zees? A merman scale?”

“Yes, ma’am,” the boy squeaked. God, he was supposed to be seventeen?

“Vell, eet seems to be een working order,” she said, sounding almost disappointed as she waved the wand and a few golden sparks came out. “Next?”

“Miss Louise,” said Mr. Finch-Fletchley.

The brunette walked haughtily, swaying her hips, and my hand smacked Albus without my brain telling it to when I saw him checking out her bottom.

“Focus,” I whispered angrily. He raised an eyebrow.

“Jealous, Leilani?”

“Not at all, just embarrassed that my fellow Hogwarts representative would ever stoop so low,” I said with a sniff. He chuckled. I tried to turn my back, then remembered my back was already turned.

“Miss Louise, your wand, please?”

Reluctantly, it seemed, the girl handed over her wand, which she clutched as tightly as a lifeline.

“Ooh, another one by dear Zrina! More...mundane than the other one, no? Unicorn horn shavings. Unique, I suppose, if not of the best make.” A few sparks once again shot out of the wand tip, and the girl snatched her wand back angrily. I could hear her muttering about crazy English fools that didn’t understand wandlore.

When she looked up, our eyes met again, and she stared at me rather like she’d seen a ghost, her complexion whiter than ever. I’m pretty sure I paled too, and I swayed –

 

It was a windy day, howling gales and stormy breezes all around. I was at the top of a hill, sitting, watching the green scenery and blooming flowers in so many different shades of the rainbow, eyes open yet feeling partially asleep at the same time.

“Alyssa?” a voice interrupted me, pealing like bells, and I turned to look up at her. In the hallucination, no shock registered, while I, I the real me, was screaming in frustration.

“Yes?”

“I found it,” she said triumphantly, showing me a piece of extremely old, fragile parchment in her well tanned hands. The words Cair Peak were scrawled across the top in sloppy, old-fashioned letters next to a strange, and also familiar, depending on which part of me was looking at it, coat of arms and a fierce ecstasy burned in my dream-mind. The map, the map we’d been looking for forever...was in my possession at last.

 

I blinked as the tent was once again around me, and my breath caught in my throat as I felt warm hands holding me upright.

“Albus?” I croaked, as the world spun. He looked at me, evidently concerned. It was so sweet how he always cared about me...

I pinched myself.

“Alyssa, you okay?” he asked huskily, his cool breath sending a tingle down my spine, and I gazed at him, drinking in the sight. I shook my head, snapping out of it.

Evidently I wasn’t alright, if I was thinking absurd things like that.

“I’m fine, Potter,” I snapped, twisting free of his hold. “What happened?”

“You appeared to have lost consciousness for a few seconds, Miss Leilani,” said Mr. Finch-Fletchley, glaring at me like it was my fault I took up his valuable time. “But seeing as no harm was done, let us continue.”

Dr. Ollivander actually sputtered in outrage at his dismissal.

“But Thomas! Zees student may be een danger!”

“No, I’m as healthy as a horse,” I quickly interjected, not wanting to become the object of a fight. “Feeling great, really.”

Potter made an incredulous sound behind me, indicating his disbelief. I ignored him.

“See? The student herself says she is in no need of assistance. Mr. Ivianski!” called Mr. Finch-Fletchley. I was beginning to feel a dislike for the man.

The stocky, black-haired boy swaggered up to Dr. Ollivander, a supremely confident look on his face. He presented his wand with great pride, and set it down with a flourish.

To my surprise, Dr. Ollivander looked at it with far more interest than that of the Beauxbatons pair’s.

“A genuine Gregoroveech?”

“The real thing,” Ivianski bragged. I rolled my eyes.

“Zeese are so rare zeese days,” sighed Dr. Ollivander wistfully. “Not quite as good as my father’s work, but zere seemply aren’t any left. You must have paid an arm and a leg to get your ‘ands on zees, Mr. Ivianski.”

“It was my father’s.”

“Oh,” said Dr. Ollivander, sounding considerably less impressed. “I suppose zat vould be ze logical case. You are aware zat vands vork better eef zey are custom fitted, yes? No? Vell, eet eesn’t broken or anything like zat.” She handed the wand back to him.

Chandrelle Black had yet another Zrina wand, and apparently, Dr. Ollivander couldn’t resist poking at the flaws.

“Too zeeck, no sense of style! Seemply ostentatious, zees one. And what on earth ees zees? Veela ‘air? So outlandeesh!”

Chandrelle, not that I could blame her, ended up stomping away in a huff.

“Albus!” Dr. Ollivander called this time. “Come ‘ere, vell you, dear?”

Mr. Finch-Fletchley gave a long suffering sigh. I wished I could punch him just to shut him up.

“Zees ees one of my father’s, ees eet not?” she said with much more enthusiasm than ever before, which was a heck of a lot of enthusiasm. “Thirteen and a ‘alf inches, blackthorne, phoenix feather. One of Ollivander’s last. Beautiful make, Mr. Potter, ze finest wand I ‘ave ever seen my father make.” She waved it with unnecessary vigor, and a stream of gold light shot out of the wand.

“Miss Leilani...if you will,” began Mr. Finch-Fletchley the minute Potter once again had possession of his wand. I withdrew my wand from my pocket and walked towards the woman, nervously placing it on the desk. It felt wrong without my wand, and I suddenly knew this was how Muggles felt: vulnerable.

It was a long time before Dr. Ollivander spoke, her eyes probing the instrument, poking and prodding it with an air of astonishment.

“I’ve never even seen a wand like zees before, Miss Leilani,” she said, finally looking up. “Ebony ees not frequently used to make wands, but zees ees surprisingly springy, as ebony ees one of ze hardest woods out zere. Twelve inches...vat ees zees core made of? I ‘ave never encountered it...but I’m guessing eet ees something powerful, looking at ze craftsmanship. Gorgeous, tailored balance. A finesse zat only my father possessed, yet so far from hees style zat I cannot believe eet ees hees. Old, too -”

“Perhaps we could get on with it,” interrupted Mr. Finch-Fletchley as I stood in shock at her words.

“Yes, of course,” said Dr. Ollivander, jumping slightly. She waved the wand, and a stream of silver, not gold, but silver emitted from the wand. She frowned, then smiled brightly.

“Eet vorks vonderfully, of course,” she said to me, passing it back. I grabbed it from her hands hungrily, relishing the sense of security having it back gave me. What I’d learned from Dr. Ollivander wasn’t really, now I was over the moment, that surprising. My wand was weird; I’d known that ever since I’d set foot in Hogwarts.

I strolled back to where all the champions were waiting.

“Since that is over with,” Mr. Finch-Fletchley said. “I’d like to remind you that – “

And rather unexpectedly, a woman’s voice could be heard, arguing furiously with a man’s, and into the tent bustled none other than –

Hermione Granger Weasley herself.

“Good heavens!” Mr. Finch-Fletchley exclaimed, his startled gaze going immediately to the pretty, professional looking woman in front of him. She looked about thirty-five, but I knew from History of Magic that she was in her early forties. Her brown hair was pulled back in a neat bun, and a few curls escaped to artfully frame her face. The light amber eyes that looked up to Mr. Adam’s were extremely intelligent; it was immediately apparent where Rose’s smarts came from.

“Justin, it’s wonderful to see you again,” she said calmly, her tongue rolling over the last syllable only a millisecond before a man burst in beside her. He was tall and well-muscled and lean, with a crop of messy black hair and an ageless face upon which existed carefully-shaped and prominent features that gave him a powerful, mysterious countenance. And, a little voice that I steadfastly ignored nagged, he’s a mirror of Al’s good looks.

Only one man possessed that kind of freakishly important aura. And there was only one man whose picture I’d seen that often.

Harry frickin’ Potter was here.

 

 

“Lady Weasley, Lord Potter,” Finch-Fletchley said formally with a small nod towards each of them. Harry Potter grinned at him with laugh lines crinkling up at the corners of his eyes, warming up in a moment, and the effects of his bearing...changed. It was still impressive, but not formidable, and I found an urge to grin madly as well.

“Lord Potter? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that outside of the Wizengamot before, apart from old Langsley,” he said in a deep, sonorous voice that pulled your attention to it like a magnet. To be honest, if there was anyone that was a born leader, it was Harry Potter. And my opinion was only reinforced by history.

“Fine, Harry,” Mr. Finch-Fletchley said, trying for resignation but instead rather sounding like he was enjoying himself, something utterly unfamiliar.

“Hey, Dad,” greeted Albus casually from my side, “Aunt Hermione.”

“How’re you doing, Al?” said Mr. Potter, smiling at his son affectionately, a twinkle in his eyes – which were just like Al’s, I noted. “Got into any scrapes so far this year?”

Al laughed. “Sure. Hexed a few Slytherins, blew up some classrooms, insulted Professor Grundy...”

Mr. Potter moaned in a quite undignified manner and clapped his hand to his forehead. “Not again, Al,” he said with mock severity. He hugged his son, as did Ms. Granger-Weasley. “Now, how are things really?”

“Great. Rose and Hugo say to send their love,” Al said. I envied him his relationship with his dad and aunt, and suddenly, I found myself wiping my eyes. Grief, or sentimentality, popped up at the strangest places.

“At least they have some sense,” Hermione said as a third man entered the now crowded tent.

“Harry, ‘Mione, at least give me five minutes advance warning before showing up,” Professor Weasley grumbled quite unprofessionally. “I had to run like – “

“Not in front of the children, dear,” Hermione said disapprovingly, but Ronald Weasley just laughed and pecked her on the cheek. She blushed, much to my amazement; I’d never thought I’d seen Hermione Weasley, first female Chair of the Wizengamot and Head of the Department of Magical Creatures, blush.

Mr. Finch-Fletchley sighed, looking like he’d seen all of this a million times before. “May I be so rash to ask why this unannounced visit was made?”

Um, yeah, you may be so rash, considering you just asked. Pompous idiot.

“We were just checking in on the tournament on behalf of the Ministry. The fifth judge asks your pardon for having to miss this ceremony.” Mr. Potter’s jaw tightened briefly at the word “tournament,” but he soon winked at Al, and I suddenly comprehended another reason for the impromptu visit. It did make sense for one to want to visit their son when he was placed in a life-threatening game.

Fifth judge?

“Ah,” said Mr. Finch-Fletchley. “I was wondering where he was, but I assumed the Head of Laws and Legislation had far more important things to attend to.”

Wowee, that sounded important.

The Golden Trio exchanged the amused grins of insiders.

“It was good to see you, Justin,” said Mr. Potter, finishing up the short, impromptu meeting with a glance at his battered seeming watch. I chose to guess that it was of sentimental value, because as the wealthiest wizard in the Wizarding World, Harry Potter could more than afford to replace a decrepit timepiece. “Although I would like to meet the champions, I’m late for a meeting. And – is that you, Cassandra?”

“Harry!” cried Dr. Ollivander. “Father sends his greetings.”

“Thank you,” Mr. Finch-Fletchley interrupted with a pointed tap at his wrist, “but we do have things to attend to.”

“Bye, Cassandra, Al,” said Potter, grinning. “Your mum sends her love.”

Professor Weasley laughed and added with a humorous undertone, “Watch out for the rabid reporters waiting outside. Skeeter’s more vicious than ever in her old age,” as they exited the tent via lifting the flap, the trio complete.

I was left with a dumbfounded expression on my face at meeting the three most famous wizards and witch in Europe and possibly the world, as were all the students save Al.

 

 

 

“Mr. Potter! Why did you place your name in the Goblet?”

Good God, the media sharks had arrived at long last.

“Albus! Do you ever feel like you’re living in your father’s shadow?”

“Do you feel that you have to win this tournament to make a name for yourself other than ‘Harry Potter’s son?’”

“How are you coping with the pressure?”

“Albus!”

“Mr. Potter!”

“Albus!”

I couldn’t resist a snide comment.

“They’re really...into you, Al.”

He looked at me, trying to look offended, but an amused quirk of his lips – definitely kissable lips – revealed his true feelings.

“Takes one to know one.”

“Excuse me?” I gasped, affronted. “Of all the things to say – oh.” He was laughing his head off. Here, Al, I’ll help you with getting your head off. Wait, you don’t have a head.

“Shh, listen,” he muttered, grinning and holding a finger to my lips, and my heartbeat escalated once again at his expression, his almost-touch. That man didn’t need a wand to Stun, that’s for sure. “That’s Rita Skeeter and her progeny – I mean, protégée.” I snickered; he was pointing at a portly woman of about sixty with obviously dyed blonde hair, hippie style hoop earrings, and wearing a suit of bright flamingo pink. To her side stood a tall, wispy-thin-like-she-starved-herself lady, having little on other than a scrap of fabric meant to represent a dress and, predominantly, a fake happy expression.

“Albus!” the former called, waving frantically at Al. “Albus, do you feel any deep rooted attraction for your fellow Champion?”

Whatever I had been expecting to say, that was not it. I felt myself going Weasley red in the face, like I’d swallowed a pail of chili peppers. Oh, no. This was bad.

“Or is it vice versa?” Dammit, the woman noticed. It was probably hard not to – I was more likely than not vaguely resembling of someone suffering a stroke. “Is it unrequited love on Ms. – “ she checked her note sheet – “Leilani’s part?”

Thankfully, Al didn’t notice my furious blush. He turned to me, laughing.

“Did you hear that question?”

“Um, no, I didn’t,” I fumbled, desperately wishing I was somewhere else. “What? Eh? Huh?”

He stared at me suspiciously. I did my best fake grin, which definitely at this point looked like a clown grin, and decided that this was a wonderful time to change the subject. Groping for something unrelated yet reasonably related to say, I pointed up at the sky and said, “Oh, look! A cloud bunny!”

Al looked at me oddly, and I realized exactly what had come out of my mouth, while the nearest reporter began scribbling; his eyes lit up at my words. I could imagine the headline already: “SECOND HOGWARTS CHAMPION ABSOLUTELY LOONY!” Um, no, actually, for that I would even stoop to asking Mr. Malfoy to sue for me.

“I meant...the sky looks dark. I think it’s going to rain soon,” I tried again.

He frowned, tilting his chin up. “It is, isn’t it?”

Wow. I’d gotten it right? ‘Cause that had been some insane, random guess...I looked up to check, and sure enough, ominous storm clouds were gathering. Yes!

I’m not depressed or anything (I think), but this was good news. First of all, this made me happy because it proved me uncrazy. Sorta. The second part of my excitement was more malicious, but I didn’t care – those reporters were bugging me and them getting soaked was all just a part of karma. A very, very scrumptious piece of the karma and blueberry pie.

I have a thing for blueberry pie. It’s the best thing in the world – in fact, my earliest memory is of me eating a blueberry pie. I don’t know exactly when it happened. It feels like a few years ago, maybe when I was four or five. It was a purely good memory. Something that was rare, because – I don’t quite know how to explain it, as my life had been so happy, summers spent at a Florida beach, winters wasted away skiing with my mother in Vermont – not many of my memories were so fulfilling, substantial.

Memories.

I squinted suddenly, forced to see through a hazy mist. I didn’t understand its abrupt appearance. Naturally, I did what anyone would do – try to push the mist aside.

It wouldn’t budge.

“Alyssa?” I heard Al’s voice, cutting through the white fog sharply. “Alyssa?”

In the brief moment I heard his resonating words, I managed to speak through the clouds that had descended from the sky to envelop me.

“Al, where did you know me from?”

The words were forced out of my frozen lips, almost like they weren’t mine. Only they were mine, more my own than my usual speech – and at this inopportune moment, a piercing headache struck. I clutched my hair as my head was pummeled from the inside out –

And the pain and the mist disappeared together without warning, leaving me both confused and afraid.

 

 

 

“Alyssa!” yelled Al, shaking me while grasping my shoulders tightly. I grinned from the sheer pleasure gained from his touch, his presence. This was heaven...

“Alyssa!”

“What?” I blinked up at his emerald green eyes. “Oh, yeah. I’m fine, just blanked out for a second...”

He let go, and I had to bite my cheek to prevent the protest from coming out. His arms settled into a crossed position, and his stance became defensive. I winced. Uh-oh.

“That was quite some blank,” he observed casually, too casually. I smiled feebly.

“It was, eh?”

He glared at me, all pretense of nonchalance dropped. “What. Happened. There,” he enunciated heavily and slowly, like I was a dimwit or a Jillian or a Sara. That last statement happened to be a bit redundant, come to think of it.

“I had a headache,” I admitted rather reluctantly, dropping my gaze to the floor. He sighed. When he spoke, he came out as exasperated.

“I guessed that when you scrunched up your face and clapped your hands to your forehead.”

“Well, what do you want me to say?” I snapped back.

“Maybe why you seem to have fits out of nowhere every time I see you might be a good start,” he stated with false amicability.

“Allergies,” I said shortly. “I’m allergic to you.”

His eyebrows rose a notch.

“Really.”

“Yep,” I insisted cheerfully. “I’m severely allergic. In fact, I’m surprised I haven’t gotten hives yet.”

“Of course,” he said coolly. “You have allergies. I’m assuming these allergies developed recently.”

“I only knew about them after I met you, of course, but I have had them since September.”

“So...you didn’t know about them before September?” he bit out, cutting off his words angrily. I gaped at him; I’d never seen him furious with me before. And believe me, I didn’t like it. “Because I can’t seem to remember anything of the sort when we were living together a year ago, Alyssa, to answer that question you had.”

 

 

 

 

The floor lurched out from beneath my feet, and I barely managed to keep myself upright as dizzy stars swam above my head, his words hitting me with a physical impact.

Woah.

Whatever I’d expected to hear, it wasn’t this. Al and I had been living together?

No. No way. Not even possible, because last year I’d been zip-lining in the beautiful scenic forests of Costa Rica, quite illegally I might add.

“You’re crazy,” I managed to stammer out through dry, cracked lips after a few moments. “I wasn’t even in England – or the States – last year.”

“Believe what you’d like, Leilani,” he said curtly, jamming his hands into his trouser pockets and walking off in rapid, angry strides, leaving behind nothing except the faint lines of crushed grass that refused to pop up like normal grass would.

 





“Alyssa.”

It was a new voice that rang with so many nuances I couldn’t pick one to describe it, other than...familiar. I whirled around at the sound of my name spoken.

When I peered into a pair of glacier cold blue eyes, I knew I was right. It was her. Only this time, she seemed much more open, less hostile.

“Alyssa, I need to talk to you,” she whispered urgently, leaning in close so that her chestnut hair blocked my vision.

“Do we know each other?” I asked quietly. “I feel like we do.”

She stared at me, then shook her head angrily. “Lady, this is no time for games! I’ve finally found you – to warn you – that they’re coming soon!”

Lady. The ridiculous words struck a chord, and I felt something rise up inside of me, bubbling outwards. My mouth moved, but the words coming out weren’t mine.

“Who?” I sounded imperious, confident, arrogant, every note the traditional British aristocrat. I frowned; what was this? I should have been an actress in the Muggle world.

“They’re coming! The Knights!”

“The – the Knights?” My normal voice was back again, and I sighed in relief.

She goggled for a moment, then her face darkened, genuinely enraged. I could only just push back the impulse to step away from her as she pierced me with that harsh gaze.

“You really did abandon us,” she murmured, her voice dropping. “This wan’t one of your solo missions at all, was it? You left.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I forced myself to say, even though my mind was screaming in protest. But I don’t, I rationalized.

She spun and stalked away, leaving me to stare at her shrinking back, absolutely confused. Great. This was the second champion I managed to piss off today now.

 

 

 

 





I looked down at my watch. One of its hands pointed towards Charms class. Thanks God it at least wasn’t D.A.D.A. I wasn’t in any mood to face Al.

I hurried back towards the enormous castle, hoping I didn’t miss anything too important. Grades were now essential if I wanted to do something with the rest of my life; the money my mother had left me wouldn’t last forever. A bitter taste was left in my mouth as I contemplated the costs of an apprenticeship. Thanks to the intensive one-on-one training required for most Wizarding jobs, prices had skyrocketed to about five thousand galleons a year.

For the first time, I felt a flickering flame of anger towards my mother, that she’d left such a stupid obligation in her will. I couldn’t sell the damn manor house, and the tiny, four-room apartment we’d owned in Salem as at most worth ten thousand. That left me the grand total of fifteen thousand galleons – enough for just three out of four years of higher schooling, not counting living costs. My mind raced. If I lived frugally enough, I could cut down room, board, food, and transportation to five thousand galleons for the entire four years.

I was still missing ten thousand. And no, I would not ask Mr. Malfoy for help. My mouth set in a grim line; I’d better start inquiring into financial aid.

My brief sojourn in the possible and probable future was cut short as I pushed the door to Charms open. Professor Scamander gave me one of her calm, unreadable, and utterly tranquil looks that only she could manage as I hurried in to take my assigned seat next to Jason Wells, who winked at me roguishly. Or, at least, what he probably thought was roguishly. It looked rather like he had something stuck in his eye.

“Simply charmed you are here, Miss Leilani,” he said in a deep voice. “May I inquire as to – “

I rolled my eyes. “Shut up,” I snapped halfheartedly, secretly amused. “Your jokes are so bad.”

“I’m wounded for life,” he muttered melodramatically, clutching his chest. Professor Scamander stopped in the middle of her lecture and fixed her ethereal eyes on him. Jason smiled cheekily at her. “Professor, you’re as beautiful as ever. Will you - ”

“I believe Miss Leilani doesn’t appreciate your antics nearly as much as I do,” deadpanned the professor, making me frown. Was she implying that Jason’s joke was funny and she liked the flattery, that I had no sense of humor, or that I was even more annoyed that she was? Or something else entirely?

Professor Scamander was far too hard to figure out for a simplistic person like me.

So I shook my head and went back to scribbling on my notebook, diligently taking notes and drawing flowers and bunnies. Yep, that’s me: Alyssa Leilani, artist extraordinaire –

“Are those cows?” Jason whispered in amusement, gesturing at my paper. I looked up and glared at his smiling face.

“No, they’re buttercups,” I corrected him. “But-ter-cups.”

“Shh!” admonished the good professor, and we both returned to scrutinizing our “notes.”

 

“My God, I hate midterms,” said Jen. We were lying in bed in the dorm, her doing homework, me pretending to listen while thinking. “They’re so bloody stupid – “

The Knights. The Knights that the other champion – Madeline Louise – was talking about. That sounded so damn familiar – where was my perfect recall when I actually needed it - ? Knights, Knights, Knights –

Oh God.

It was on the notes.

The frickin’ notes that fell every time a nightmare appeared to torment me.

Now that I remembered where the passage was from, I could easily recite it word for word, but the two things I remembered most were that whoever had written the note was trying to hide something from them.

And that the game he or she played was becoming deadly.

Hell, why couldn’t things be simple for once?

I tossed and turned and shifted beneath the covers, and it was a long time after the candles had flickered out that I fell asleep at last.
 




 

A/N:

Hey guys, sorry about the long wait. I had a brief bout of writer's block, and I was in Costa Rica with no computer. No worries though, that's all over and done with. The next section - just as a warning - may incorporate some cliché elements. May. I'm not quite sure yet.

Anyways, in this chapter, Albus and Alyssa have finally started...talking. I remember someone asking why Alyssa didn't just ask Al. Some light might have been shed onto the matter now...

Thanks for reading and reviewing, everyone. Almost at 3000 hits! Wowee!

<3 Sola Grey


Chapter 13: Shades and Shadows
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Gray fog. Definitely not what I was used to as far as dreams were concerned, I mused. Gray was a neutral color, and neither light or dark, the most in between of them all.

 

I could live with that.

 

I took a smooth, fluid step, which shocked me. Looking down, I saw that not only did I not move like my clumsy self, I was dressed differently as well. My legs were sheathed in a shining silver material that seemed like a second skin, and I was wearing a short – extremely short – deep blue tunic above it. My feet were encased in gladiator sandals, and when I reached up to touch my hair, my fingers hit something hard.

 

Hands trembling, I stroked the surface of whatever was resting at the top of my head, and I was just defining the edges when a mirror in front of me appeared.

 

I didn’t recognize the girl in the reflection at all. She looked just like me and nothing like me at the same time, with dark curls shining with a luster I’d never been able to achieve gracefully pulled back into knot at the nape of her neck and winged, arching brows. Her cherry-red lips smiled beatifically, and her nose was small and shaped like mine, only with elegance near impossible to pinpoint. She wore a silver tiara that glittered dazzlingly with jewels so dark they were almost black – sapphires, I realized.

 

But what I noticed most were her eyes. Instead of being plain weird, they fit well with her cat-shaped face and high cheekbones, and were darkly lidded. Most of all, however, they were resembling Al’s, only in a different shade. Glorious.

 

Ageless.

 

Depthless.

 

And ruthless.

 

Her smile widened as she saw the recognition in my eyes, and it became a malicious, repugnant, evil sneer. I stumbled backwards, falling into the mist, never landing. Just taking an endless dive. I screamed –

 

And from high above, a voice said: Hello, daughter, right before a frightening, desperate shriek rose to join mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I sat up in bed, grabbing my pillow for comfort. What was different this time from every other time I woke up was that everyone else was awake as well and sitting up just like me.

 

My voice was hoarse when I spoke.

 

“I’m sorry if I woke anyone up.”

 

Delilah turned to me, animosity forgotten in this new development. Her doe eyes were wide and frightened, and she seemed to look to me – to me – for support. She had to take a deep breath before she spoke.

 

“It wasn’t you, Lizzi. The scream – it came from the common room.”

 

Call it instinct, but I jumped up immediately, only reaching for a sweater before I started for the door in my warm flannel pajamas.

 

“Lizzi! Where are you going?”

 

“The common room. Have any of you noticed that Sabrina isn’t in her bed?”

 

Five pairs of startled eyes looked at me, a sudden understanding rushing into them, and surprisingly enough it was Delilah who promptly swung the covers aside.

 

“I’m going with you.”

 

“No, you’re not,” I snapped back. “You don’t know what’s there – “

 

“And you do?”

 

“Yes,” I lied through gritted teeth. I didn’t have time for this. That sound corresponded to my dream, and I was going to find out what had caused it, damn it.

 

I burst into the common room, and saw sparks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disoriented, I had to shake myself for a millisecond to recognize that the seemingly infinitely many beams were actually spells being shot at a lightning fast pace, filling the air so fast I could barely see past them. It looked like at least twenty full wizards and witches were dueling in the small enclosed space, and all of them had to be highly trained to be firing at this speed. The spells, however, weren’t what caught my attention. What did was the pair of eyes that peered through the cracks.

 

My heart skipped a beat as I saw those fiery green orbs, and without a second thought, I leapt into the fray.

 

Al.

 

Protego!” I yelled, flicking my wand and forming a bubble around him just in time to deflect a green tinged curse. He faltered for a moment, jerking in surprise as the spell rebounded.

 

His eyes were tense as he looked up; I could barely make out the shape of his face. His jaw was clenched tightly, and he spoke in halting phrases, stopping to fire off spells while I slashed and twirled my wand.

 

“Dammit – Alyssa – get out of here,” he ground out, moving so quickly he was a blur. I laughed, exhilarated, drunk on adrenaline again. It felt so damn good, like this was what I’d been doing all my life. My eyes finally sought out a target. Or targets, in the plural, because I wasn’t far off in my estimation. If I looked closely enough, the air would ripple where spells were spouting from, and occasionally a black-robed sleeve with a purple edge would appear.

 

I hissed, my lips curling into a feral snarl. These were the same idiots who attacked us on that day in Knockturn Alley, and they were going to pay.

 

Lizzi!” Delilah’s voice screamed from the doorway. “C’mon, you’re going to get yourself killed!”

 

“I’ll definitely live long enough to find out what Potter’s doing in our common room,” I said lightly, ducking a Cutting Curse. “My curiosity alone will be enough to keep me breathing.”

 

Cutting Curse. I’d never learned what that looked like, let alone how to cast it. Yet I casually fired a streamlined one right back at the source, followed by two Stunners towards either side of the target, to be met with a satisfying thunk.

 

A dilemma to be considered for a different time.

 

And the black-robes fell.

 

 

 

 

 

Delilah’s POV

 

Fuck.

 

I honest-to-God never swear, but there’s always a first time. Like when your best friend, whom you haven’t spoken to for a week (and I feel terrible about that), ends up dueling about twenty different freakish Dark wizards and has a ninety percent chance of being killed.

 

Lizzi is good, but no one is that good at the age of seventeen. Or sixteen, since she’s the youngest in our year.

 

Maybe I should take that statement back.

 

Because she’s bloody amazing out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alyssa’s POV

 

A flashing rock flew in front of me just in time to block a green jet of light that was unmistakably a Killing Curse. Call it a spur of the moment, trauma induced thing, but I didn’t bat an eyelash or falter in my footwork at all.

 

“Thanks, Al!”

 

He didn’t see fit to acknowledge me with a response. Bugger him.

 

See? I’m learning some British slang now. Sort of. Ish. Perhaps?

 

Abruptly, I froze. Not of my own will, of course; what idiot would stop moving in the middle of a volley and stand stock still? No, my limbs seemed to have turned into lead. The air had become solid, floating shackles, other than the fact I could still breathe.

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that all movement had stopped. In the clearing of the atmosphere caused by the brief halt to the fighting, I could make out the fact that Al was okay, untouched other than being stuck in place just like I was. A puff of air that I hadn’t even known I’d been holding rushed out with relief filling its place.

 

My eye snagged on a piece of fuzzy pink cloth as I tried to figure out what was going on, and a ripple of blonde hair was immediately apparent. I looked back at Al, this time noticing the rumpled shirt and his bare feet. He looked like he’d thrown his clothes on in a hurry, maybe to get here. But then who screamed?

 

My insides clenched tightly as I recognized the scrap of pink fluff.

 

Sabrina Taylor.

 

 

 

 

Don’t jump to conclusions. It was a good reminder, but I was seeing red again. Great, humongous crimson orbs had infiltrated my vision.

 

And why are you so upset? a snide little voice inside my head asked.

 

I didn’t have an answer, so I attributed it to looking at bright objects for too long. I wasn’t upset. I was just trying to find out more information about the very interesting situation I was in.

 

Sabrina might have been out for a drink of water or something, and been spotted in the middle of the crossfire. And screamed. Then Al had rushed in to her rescue – but then, how did he hear her from Gryffindor Tower? Even an optimist had to admit that theory was ridiculous. So that meant he’d been here to begin with.

 

A pool of purple sparks erupted with an unexpected intensity, and I looked back towards the oak-paneled door once more, conscious of a rising black mass appearing.

 

And something in me responded with an acute feeling that prickled, a feeling I hadn’t had in a while. Fear. Angry, gripping, spontaneous fear.

 

Two orbs of violet light appeared in the dark whirlwind, and they were alight with – could it be? – some sort of great intelligence. They flared, and I had the oddest feeling that the vortex of swirling matter was happy. Gleeful. The circles moved and revolved, and they looked straight at Potter.

 

I have you at last, don’t I?”

 

Its voice wasn’t really a voice, not the way I would think. It was more like the absence of a voice, the shadow of one, like the echoes in a valley.

 

Al’s already taut face flared with newly tapped anger. He appeared to struggle against the transparent mold he was encased in, and in one fluid, awe striking movement, he broke free; he moved skillfully into a defensive crouch and gripped his wand.

 

“No, you haven’t really,” he said in his calm way, refusing to get angry. The calm only seemed to enrage the creature. I understood only too well.

 

Foolish boy,” it hissed angrily. The purple lights, which I assumed were eyes, managed to turn ominous without changing at all.

 

“Your followers are pretty incompetent, then, if I can beat them.”

 

Perhaps. But here you are, still at my mercy.

 

Potter had the gall to laugh lightly at that. “Really. You and I both know that one of you can’t enter the castle in your full form. You underestimate me.”

 

I don’t need my full power to kill you.” The creature did something so indescribably creepy that I was shivering at this point: he laughed. A cold, creeping laugh that was all ice and no warmth, high and reedy and false. It then drew a reedy breath –

 

Crucio!

 

And everything stopped, halting and then dragging in slow motion as that single jet of green arced towards Potter, multi-faceted and enormously powerful. My feeling of helplessness intensified as I felt the visions overwhelm me, and my subconscious overtake my mind. He wouldn’t be able to block this, wouldn’t be able to escape.

 

I started to struggle, bile rising up in my throat, not hindered in the least by the splitting headache as I remembered the screams of people I’d cared about –

 

And the mortar that had been holding me captive crumbled as I threw myself in front of Al.

 

 

 

 

 

It hurt. It hurt a God-damned lot. Molten metal fizzed throughout my limbs, and I gasped for breath, my entire brain dissolving as my body worked itself into a frenzy.

 

Only it felt familiar this time, and that little piece of me that wasn’t quite me was still there, still awake, and the pain wasn’t the only thing in my world. From somewhere far away in a distant, wonderful land, I could hear yelling. A regular chorus of “Alyssa!”’s and “Lizzi!”’s. They sounded...worried, concerned. I frowned, my brow furrowing into a deep line, my wand beginning to hum lightly.

 

One voice stuck out from the others, not in volume or in agitation, but in anger, almost, or perhaps even power. But most of it was pure, undiluted concern that wrapped around my burning flesh like a cool, comforting glove. And with it came a face: my mother’s.

 

Every detail was there, floating above me: the clear blue eyes, the gentle dip of the dimples that hadn’t faded with age, laugh lines deeply ingrained, and the elegant features I’d always been secretly jealous of. To surpass everything else, her entire being was illuminated with a soft smile, touched slightly by concern she clearly attempted to keep hidden.

 

“Mom,” I mouthed almost reverently. She didn’t speak, merely continued to look at me; suddenly, I was no longer paralyzed as I felt the full force of her caring. A strange sort of energy shot through me from the tip of my toes to my forehead. As the Curse weakened, she began to fade too, but my new resolve didn’t.

 

The growing particle of consciousness that remained smiled quietly at this new sight and relief, and with that, started to fight back. No enemy was indestructible.

 

The tide turned, and I solidified into a block, stoic and invincible, ready to do battle as the pain of the Cruciatius faded to mere prickles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I jolted back into the room, seeing gaping faces all around me.

 

“I’m fine,” I said as calmly as I could manage. “Fine.

 

No one responded.

 

Other than that hulking mass that was now the size of a tornado. It glared at me, hissing slightly. Oops. How on earth did I manage to forget that thing?

 

Not possible,” it finally proclaimed, it’s eyes growing ever larger.

 

“But it is,” I contradicted cheerily, flashing it a smile. It growled in anger, then screamed the incantation once again. Only this time, I was ready.

 

I stood stock still against the onslaught, minimally affected if at all.

 

Abruptly, a fuzzy tingle very different from the Cruciatius appeared near my ear. I only just managed to hide a loud gasp as Al’s voice surfaced:

 

Buy me time.

 

It was rich, deep, full of power and authority, and...utterly intoxicating.

 

Without knowing why, I smiled grimly and spoke in that high, imperious tone that wasn’t mine.

 

I will.

 

 

 

 

 

Buy time. So easy to say, so hard to do. How the hell was I supposed to keep that thing occupied? Short of attacking him, that is. There was a reason I was placed in Ravenclaw, not bloody Gryffindor, and not being brave to the point of suicidal was one of them. Thanks to my Ravenclaw understanding, I knew it would be really stupid to try to throw my dueling arsenal at that thing, if it could freeze me on moment’s notice.

 

But I had to distract it, so...

 

Reducto!” I yelled, red spouting from the end of my wand.

 

The spell didn’t even make it halfway before it vanished. Clean disappeared.

 

And what was worse, the Fat Mothball was looking amused.

 

Is that the best you can do, changeling?

 

“Nope.” I let him see my pearly whites. Talking would be some delay. “And ‘changeling’? I won’t nag at you for being such a poor name-caller if you explain.”

 

The thing actually seemed to laugh – to laugh. “Humans. Changelings. What’s the different? Other than that one can remember and one cannot...nothing.

 

My grip on my wand tightened, and my smile disappeared. Memories. Remembering. Fuck.

 

A piercing headache struck for a moment before vanishing. I had to shake my head to clear my thoughts before I shouted, “Impedimenta!

 

The jinx sped out of existence as well. Well, that got me somewhere.

 

Damn Al. If he could manage to tell me to keep some super powerful, obviously Dark and evil and whatever creature occupied for a few moments without anyone else hearing, then he could give me some frickin’ pointers too! I wondered if banging my head on the wall would be sufficient distraction.

 

Actually...that might be crazy and surprising enough to work, with a few modifications.

 

I grinned widely at the pseudo shadow, holding out my wand, while inspiration hit me with the force of a train wreck.

 

Accio Wall!

 

And the wall behind the shadow started to shoot towards it. A millisecond before the wall collided, I screamed, “Solidus!” at the wispy figure.

 

My two simple charms resulted in a very large and satisfying crack.

 

I stood up straighter, dusted my hands, and looked up at Al, mirth bubbling in my throat – no doubt the result of insanity.

 

“That good?”

 

Everyone else had been rendered speechless, but Al was ever resourceful when it came to not shutting up. He looked up from his net of glowing runes gimmick and gave me a brittle smile, something that I couldn’t recognize in his eyes.

 

“Pretty good, Leilani.”

 

And he then went back to sketching some light-up smiley faces in the ground with his glowstick.

 

Maybe I was oversimplifying slightly when I called the runes smiley-faces. They were more like hyper-charged scribbles, complete with a hypnotic, buzzing power.

 

And it was a good thing they were so freaky too, because the I’m-So-Great-Blob was starting to get up. Little pieces of black filth swirled around, and the twister was expanding into a cyclone –

 

“Al! Hurry up!

 

His muscles tensed briefly, then relaxed.

 

“All done,” he said nonchalantly, and with a flick of his wand an enormous wave of golden power crashed against the figure. I was blinded by light, but in the midst of all the shrieking done by my House-mates, I could hear a faint, horrible scream.

 

The red spots flickering across my field of view were short-lived, flaring and subsiding in mere milliseconds.

 

As I regained my sight, I could only stare at Al in...

 

I never thought I’d say this, but awe.

 

“I think it’s about time for an explanation, Potter,” came a voice from the doorway, cutting into my reverie. Delilah Patil strode up to Al with a very determined expression on her fairy-like face, a hardness I’d never seen before in her chocolate brown eyes. “After all, it’s been overdue for about five years.”


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