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Imperfection by bittersweetsymphony

Format: Novella
Chapters: 19
Word Count: 24,834
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language

Genres: Romance, Humor, General
Characters: Draco, Harry, Dumbledore, Hermione, OC, Oliver Wood, Ron, Snape
Pairings:

First Published: 02/01/2005
Last Chapter: 03/21/2005
Last Updated: 06/25/2005

Summary:


Julie Chance is onto her 7th year at Hogwarts. She's quite a nobody, and feels very insecure about herself. All that changes when she finds a spell entitled 'Perfection' in the Restricted section of the school library. Her life drastically improves, but she finds out the curses of being too perfect.


Chapter 1: Insecurities
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"Jules! Finally you're here!"

Julie smiled back at the grinning redhead who was sitting in the train compartment with her best friends in the entire world, Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.

"I've missed you too, Ronnie!" Julie teased, ruffling Ron Weasley's messy hair.

"Hey! Easy with the 'do," Ron protested, shielding his head with his hands. "I just made it look nice!"

Julie rolled her eyes. "When did it ever look nice, Ron?" she asked, smirking.

"All the time," was Ron's indignant reply. "Did you cut your hair or something? It looks different."

Julie ran her hand through her long, brown hair. It was such an boring color, and she was very self-concious when it came to looks. She disliked the boring, long cut, so she decided to visit the hairdresser's to spice it up a notch. It was now an eye-catching shoulder-length cut with uneven ends, and the hair near the bottom of the skull had been layered until it was thin. She loved using her favorite hairspray to make the short bits of hair at the crown of her head stand.

"Yeah," she said, and knitted her brows. "Does it look horrible?"

"Nah," chirped Hermione helpfully. "You're still the same Julie!"

Darn she thought. I'd hoped she had said that I looked better... Oh well.

"Anyways," Julie said. "Anyone want to run up to the dining compartment to grab some food? I'm a little starved."

"I'll go with you," Ron volunteered immediately, springing up from his seat.

"Bring food back!" Hermione called out from behind.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Ron and Julie walked along in silence, and Julie gazed down at her feet.

Stupid feet, she thought bitterly. Why did they have to grow so big? Oh yeah, they had to be big in order to support this long body of mine!

She gazed at her tall body frame and immediately, resentment flooded her. She hated being so tall. She hated looming over the rest of the students like some tree. What's more, some of the guys she fancied were slightly shorter than her, and she felt almost certain that they would be unlikely to ask her out.

Julie also harboured a secret that she was too ashamed to tell others: she stammered.

She had a speech problem that she had developed since young, where her words would come out in a rush so that they sounded unclear, and sometimes she would stammer and stutter. Because of this problem, she was sometimes too shy to speak to strangers, for fear that they might laugh at her way of speaking.

Why can't I speak like a normal person?! she scolded herself inwardly. It's not so hard!

Lost in her thought, she crashed into another person, who seemed equally dazed when he saw her.

"Chance," came the familar sneer she knew so well for the last 6 years.

"Malfoy," she spat, as though it were some disease.

Draco Malfoy, a tall, good-looking boy, was considered to be one of the popular kids at school. He was in the worst house Julie thought anyone could get into : Slytherin. She disliked Malfoy for his arrogance, snobbishness, and dominating personality. She stuttered many times before him, and Malfoy thought that it was hilarious. He had often called her evil names, and enjoyed taunting her for no apparent reason at all! Julie could only feel loathe for him and his kind.

"I see you've gotten a new haircut," he said, smirking his infamous smirk that made Julie want to punch his face in. "Too bad, it doesn't hide away that awful stammer of yours."

"Hey, get off her case, Malfoy!" Ron said defensively, coming to the rescue. "Nobody's perfect, you know!"

Malfoy laughed. "You're looking at the being of perfection," he jeered. "I'm living proof that perfection does exist in the world."

"What rubbish," Julie muttered under her breath, feeling herself grow hot with anger at Malfoy's stab at her stuttering. "He's just an overblown, conceited dolt."

Malfoy tilted his head toward her.

"What was that, Chance? Don't tell me that you can't speak loudly enough now?" he said, with an evil smirk. "Jeez, and I thought you were loser enough."

Hot tears pricked the ends of Julie's hazel eyes, and she felt herself wanting to cry.

No, she told herself, determined. Not in front of Malfoy.

She willed her face to look normal, cheerful, and 'I-don't-give-a-hoot-what-you-think', and although on the exterior she looked strong, on the inside, she was crumbling.

________________________________________________________________________________

Note : Hey just wanted to start a new story because I have all the details ironned out. (: I didn't really think about the plot for A Life Unforetold, so it's kind of on hiatus for me to think everything out.


This story is actually inspired by my own daily life events, so I can really relate to all that I'm writing. :)


Please read and review! I'd really want to know what you guys think about it. Thanks, and take care!



Chapter 2: Conversation with Chris
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Note: My friend's mother just passed away because of cancer, and she's really going through a bad time. I mean, she's only 16, and her mother's gone! I feel really sad for her, life sometimes is just too unfair. What my friend went through reminded me that we should all treasure what we have before it's gone ...
____________________________________________________________________________________

Later, as Ron and Julie walked back to the compartment where their friends were, each holding a platter of sandwiches, Julie could not help but replay Malfoy's spiteful remarks in her head over and over again.

Jeez, and I thought you were loser enough!

She felt swollen inside her, as though something in her had been deflated.

Am I really such a loser...? she thought miserably, as she walked silently next to a curious Ron.

"Jules, you alright?" Ron asked uncertainly, placing a hand on her shoulder in a reassuring manner.

Julie sighed and stopped walking for a moment. She felt like she needed time to clear her mind. Confusion and despair overwhelmed her, and for a moment, she found herself asking,

What will happen to me in death? Will I still be an outcast?

She shook herself firmly.

Stop it, Julie Chance! You can't be thinking about that! You will fight this fight, and you will overcome this trial! You can't show Malfoy that you're beaten by his stupid remarks!

She smiled to herself, feeling more boosted with confidence, and aware of Ron's growing concern in seeing her grin to herself stupidly.

"Jules? Don't scare me, mate!" he ventured, waving his hand in front of her face cautiously.

Julie smiled. She always wanted to be known as the 'cheery one', and she had been doing quite a good job of it the last few months.

"Don't I look alright, Ron?" she asked, grinning as she danced a little down the corridor. "You know me, I'm always peachy!"

Ron smiled a little in seeing his friend regain her normal composure.

"That's good," he said, catching up with his jumpy friend. "And hey, don't get bugged out by Malfoy's remarks, alright? Just know that we're all here for you, and we don't care how you speak."

Julie smiled. She felt truly touched by Ron's words, and she felt a glimmer of happiness radiate in her.

"Thanks, Ron."
___________________________________________

As the train reached to a stop, the four of you got off, and took a carriage toward the looming castle atop a hill.

"It feels great to be back in this place," Julie muttered half to herself, nibbling her bottom lip thoughtfully as she peered out of the carriage window.

"Yeah," piped up Harry. "I've really missed my bed at Hogwarts."

Hermione chuckled.

"I think the place I've really missed was the library," she added. "And it's not just because of the books!" Hermione defended herself quickly when she saw Ron's mouth starting to open.

"Bugger," mumbled Ron with a grin. "You've read my thoughts."

Hermione smiled smugly, while Harry rolled his eyes.

As the other three launched into an amusing, though nonsensical conversation, Julie brought her own thoughts to herself.

Somehow, if I were a lot different, I'd probably be a happier person ...

____________________________________________________

"New timetables!" announced Professor McGonagall, swooping from student to student passing out sheets of crisp white paper.

Julie smiled gratefully at Professor McGonagall as she received her slip, and she studied it.

Divinations, Defense Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic, Potions.

Okay, a tolerable combination.

Suddenly, Julie saw a head of familar ash-black hair bobbing along the Gryffindor table.

Her heart skipped a beat and she smiled giddily. That was Chris Reynolds, the Gryffindor Quiddith team's Keeper! He was her latest crush, and although she did know Chris personally ( much thanks to Harry! ), she was not very close to him.

Should I say hi? She thought to herself, smiling a little. I'd say yes, definitely!

"Be right back," she told her friends, and walked toward where Chris was. He was slumped by himself, lost in thought at the other end of the table.

Okay, relax Chance, she told herself inwardly. It'll be okay! Chris is a really nice guy! I'm sure he wouldn't laugh at your occasional stammer!

I hope...

"H-hi Chris," Julie said finally, stopping next to his profile. Chris jerked out of his own thoughts and looked at her, a smile appearing on his well-chiseled face.

"Julie! Hello, how have you been?" he asked, making room for her to sit.

"I've been o-okay," she said, trying to pronounce her words clearly. She had to stay away from long sentences as they made her rush everything together, and what the other person would hear was a long line of gibberish. "How has your holidays been?"

"Excellent!" Chris said, his eyes sparkling. "I went to the latest Quidditch match with the Chudley Cannons and West Ham. God it was amazing! But I'm sure you wouldn't want to hear about Quidditch, so what's been up with you lately?"

Julie's mind was a blank. She had no idea what to say.

Oh no, she thought, panicking. Chris is going to think that I'm an idiot if I don't say anything at all!

"Nothing much," she said finally. "Just that Malfoy's been the usual pain."

She tried to smile her most alluring smile, but she could tell that Chris was getting bored with the conversation, although he tried his intense best to look interested.

"I see," he said, peering around distractedly. "Hey, I'll talk to you later, alright? I've got some quidditch matters to discuss with my team mates."

"Oh, a-alright," Julie said faintly. "You go on ahead, I'll just be heading off now."

As Chris slowly disappeared off into the distance, Julie paced her way dejectedly out of the Great Hall and into Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. It had become her solace, and she had gone there whenever she felt depressed to cry all her problems away.

She entered the familar, gloomy atmosphere of the grey bathroom. Myrtle was sitting thoughtfully on the sink, her head perched in her hands.

"Hi Myrtle," she greeted, and went to sit with her, her tears threatenning to spill out at any moment now.

--------------------------------------------- end ----------------------------------------------------

Chapter 3: Moaning Myrtle and Food Fights
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"Hello, Julie," said Myrtle. "Finally you're back! I was getting a little lonely during the holidays when everyone was gone. I've only been talking to Peeves and the Bloody Baron, and they aren't exactly the best people to talk to."

"Yeah," Julie muttered. She felt no need to speak, she did not want to. Speech of course, had been her long-time foe, one she had yet to conquer. Why should she allow speech to happen when it brought her so much misery?

So many problems swirled in her mind. Being unable to speak properly, so much so that Malfoy taunted her and the Keeper of the quidditch team shunned her, being so tall and gawky that she loomed over everyone else, having such plain and boring looks that she had no suitors.

She let out a sigh, and finally, allowed tears to streak down her face.

"Julie! You're crying!" Myrtle declared, surprised. "What's wrong?"

"Oh Myrtle, everything's wrong!" she said, choking. "Sometimes I just wish that I was normal! That I could speak, move, be like everyone else! I hate being so different! I hate stammering all the time, being so nervous and insecure about myself, and I hate looking at my plain old boring face in the mirror every morning!"

All her problems and worries escaped her like tidal wave. Her dam of resentment had been let down, and everything flowed from her, gushing through with such strength and power, finally being able to be let free after having been kept contained for so long.

Myrtle let her cry for a long while, before finally speaking.

"You know, people aren't perfect," she said knowingly. "I for one, am definitely, not perfect. I was a loser back when I was living."

Julie nodded, encouraging her to continue.

"People called me names, taunted me because of my spectacles, teased me for my pudginess and size, jeered at me for always tripping over my two feet," Myrtle continued, her face looking miserable as well as she recollected the memories. "It was horrible. I was like you, always depressed because of what other people thought of me."

"I was trapped in a prison guarded by their opinions."

Myrtle paused, and Julie felt a deep affinity with Myrtle. She knew how much hurt she was feeling. She understood what Julie was going through. She was a lot like Julie, in a way.

"I've still yet to learn how to break free," Myrtle confessed. "But I'm slowly wearing down my four walls."

"And you - you shouldn't feel brought down by them. Who are they to decide who you are? They can't see you on the inside, because, on the inside, truthfully speaking - you're beautiful."

"Beautiful?" Julie laughed. "How can that be ...?"

"I'm being serious here!" Myrtle exclaimed. "I've known you for almost four years. You're the most sensitive, sensible, mature person I've seen! Although you don't speak much, you let people know you care through your little actions. You are good-natured, and you don't exactly speak bad about others no matter how much they've hurt you."

"Take a look at Malfoy. He's annoyed you for about six years already, hasn't he? But what have you done to retaliate? Nothing. You don't provoke him unless you're disturbed by him. You've never taken any revenge, and that's good. This shows your peaceable and gentle nature."

Julie felt bolstered by Myrtle's words. She did make quite some sense. She smiled a little, blinking away her tears.

"Thank you, Myrtle," said Julie gratefully, standing. "I'd give you a hug, but I can't."

Myrtle laughed as she studied her ghostly form.

"But really, thanks. You've really gotten to the heart of my problem, and I feel loads better," Julie said earnestly. "You're a great friend. I'll visit you again really soon - I've got to rush to get to class."

"Anytime, Julie," replied Myrtle, nodding. "See you!"

Julie waved a goodbye to her friend, and she smiled, willing herself to be happy.

I've got to learn to embrace my differences, she told herself. I'll think positive, and not let anything get to me!

___________________________________________________________________

She smiled a little as she hopped her way back to the great hall, a smile plastered on her face.

Life is beautiful, it's beautiful to meeeee... she sang inwardly.

"Hey Jules," Ron greeted his friend, amused by her huge grin. "We were starting to worry where you were. You okay? Your eyes are really swollen..."

Oh shoot, I forgot about that!

"Really?" Julie asked, reaching a hand to her eyes. "Oh, it's nothing. Something just got into my eyes, that's all." She smiled happily, to convince Ron.

Ron raised an eyebrow. "If you're sure..."

Julie took a seat next to Harry, and leaned her back against his shoulder, sighing a little.

"Owch! You're bony, Jules!" he laughed, squirming under her weight. "You need nourishment!"

"Hey!" Julie said, laughing.

She threw a stray pea at his ear, and he looked at her with mock menace.

"You asked for it..." he trailed off, and grabbed a slice of carrot from his plate.

"Ack! Carrots!" Julie squealed. She hated carrots! They were so raw, so disgusting, so ... orange.

Harry laughed evilly and raised the carrot close to her face.

"Muahaha," he said, in a pretend deep voice. "Today I will teach you to love carrots."

"Her-mi-one!" Julie shrieked, running to her best friend for protection. "Threaten him with detention before he disfigures me!"

Hermione rolled her eyes, laughing. "Act your age, you immature people!"

"Hey! You're not helping!" Julie protested, and ducked as Harry threw a carrot slice her way.

"Eeps!"

She used Hermione as a shield, and the carrot flew, bouncing off Hermione's nose.

"AHH!" Hermione screeched, caught off-guard by the flying carrot. "JULIE! HARRY!"

Ron could only laugh at the spectacle in front of him, and he laughed so hard, he tumbled off his chair.

"Can't ... breathe ...." said Ron, between hysterical laughter. "Dang, Hermione, you looked hilarious there, with that carrot jumping off your nose!"

"Shut up," said Hermione, whacking his arm. "Or else you'll have peas stuffed into your nostrils."

"Try me," Ron teased.

"Okay, I'll do just as you say..." said Hermione, arming herself with a load of peas. Her hand was poised, ready-to-strike a laughing Ron, when suddenly ...

"My, what immature behavior! And what's this? Prefects joining in as well?"

The four of them froze as they recognized that cold voice as Malfoy's.

Malfoy surveyed the situation, amused. Just awhile ago, Potty had been pelting carrots at a shrieking Chance, who was dodging them, a few carrot bits stuck in her brown hair. Mudblood was holding a bowl in one hand, another hand full of peas, poised and ready to attack the Weasel with it.

Immature, he thought to himself with a smirk.

"Thirty points from Gryffindor for this outrageous display of behavior," he said, enjoying the look of horror on their faces. "I think that's letting you off really easy, so don't start complaining."

______________________________ end _________________________________________


Chapter 4: Silence is Easy
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Note : Sigh. I’ve been feeling a little brought down by my classmates, and even someone I don’t even know. –frown- I had 3 incidents about people talking bad about me in one week! Jeez! What’s up with that?! And one of them was by someone who was antagonizing me on my blog’s tagboard! Sigh. I don’t even know the girl, is it fair that she judges me just by reading my blog? Rubbish.

Okay, sorry. I don’t mean to sound pissed. Anyway, here’s the next chapter, and thanks to all the lovely people who reviewed! Surprisingly, the reads for this story surpasses my other story, A Life Unforetold. I’m sorry it’s not being updated, I haven’t had much motivation and inspiration to write the next chapter (:
__________________________________________________________________________

“That ruddy piece of filth!” Ron sputtered, as he watched Malfoy’s triumphant figure fade into the other end of the hall. “What right has he to dock our points?”

“Considering the fact that he is a prefect, and that we were acting like lunatics?” Hermione replied, a little glum that she, for once, had lost house points instead of gaining it.

“But…! But…!” Ron tried to reason, exasperated. Suddenly, he caught sight of Harry glancing off at the Ravenclaw table. “Harry? What’s so interesting over there?”

The three of them turned to look at Harry’s direction, and you saw a very pretty girl sitting amidst a group of boys, who were giving her their utmost ardent attention.

Heidi Muller, Julie thought glumly. Only the most popular and prettiest girl in school…

Just looking at the petite, vivacious brunette brought a new wave of resentment on Julie.

Why wasn’t I born like Heidi? Why wasn’t I the one with the dazzling good looks, with that intelligent brain, and with such excellent conversation skills?
Julie found herself thinking bitterly. I’d kill for a chance to have so many guys’ rapt attention on me..

“Heidi sure has a lot of admirers,” observed Harry thoughtfully.

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Why the sudden interest in her, Harry?”

Harry brought his attention back to his friends.

“I’m not showing any interest,” he said, flustered. “It was just an urm… observation.”

“I’m sure,” said Ron skeptically.
_________________________________________________


Later during lunch, Julie isolated herself from her friends.

“I’ll be in the library finishing up that overdue essay for Binns,” she lied, hoping her friends would not be able to tell.

“Homework? Lunch? That’s insanity,” Ron protested.

“Ron, it’s overdue! I have to get it done,” Julie persisted.

Ron made a face. “Oh alright,” he agreed. “Try to get it done quickly so you can at least eat something.”

Julie nodded quickly and headed over to her favorite oak tree which stood prominently in a more secluded area of the castle grounds.

She sighed a little and plopped down onto the cool grass, under the wide shade.

Pulling her knees toward her chin, she glanced upwards at the brilliant blue skies, and a wave of peace swept across her.

God, why did You make me this way? she mused, as she watched the puffy clouds float by gently. Why am I so different from others? Why can’t I be normal? Why can’t I have normal height, normal speech, and better looks?

The clouds rolled by, leaving her questions unanswered.

She perched her head onto her knees, and felt desperation swell in her.

Why is everyone else so much better off than I am? Why is it so hard for me to fit in? Why am I plagued with so many problems?

With a little sigh, she slumped against the rough texture of the oak tree, and out of the corner of her eye, saw Chris appear from the castle.

Oh no…

Julie could not bear to even look at Chris any more. The more she looked, the more she felt embarrassed with the reminder of their last encounter.

She avoided looking at Chris, instead, she busied herself with studying the scurrying ants on the ground.

“Julie!”

Agh… No, please don’t come over here!

But with Chris already pacing toward her, she could do nothing but wait helplessly.

“What are you doing over here?” he asked pleasantly, seating himself down next to her.

“Just … thinking,” Julie said, trying to keep a straight face. “What are you doing over here?”

Chris looked at his feet.

“Urm,” he began, looking flustered. “No particular good reason…”

Julie raised an eyebrow, but did not question further. The two of them just sat in complete silence, staring out at the open skies.

For once, silence felt so right to Julie.
_______________________________________ end _______________________________________



Chapter 5: Just a Toy ...
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“Well, it’s about time we headed back to class,” Chris announced finally, after several minutes flew by, as he stood up.

“Yeah,” murmured Julie. She felt a new wave of exhilaration. She had actually sat together with Chris for a long while, without conversation, and yet, it all felt so right, and so peaceful.

Why is that so? she questioned herself, as Chris reached out his hand for her. She grasped it and pulled herself to her feet.

“Thanks,” she said gratefully, and the two walked in step back into the castle.

More silence.

She had no idea what to say, nor did she feel pressurized to say anything.

As they stopped outside the classroom, Chris nervously ran a hand through his hair, looking almost frightened.

“Chris?” Julie asked curiously. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” he replied quickly. “Urm, just wanted to ask – Would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?”

Julie could hardly believe her ears. Chris Reynolds? Her? Hogsmeade?

Somehow those words don’t go together.

“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” she asked unsteadily. “I mean, no one has ever asked me out before.”

Chris smiled sheepishly.

“Well, guess I’m going to be the first.”

Julie did not know what to think. Was he crushing on her? Or was it some stupid prank?

“S-sure,” she said cautiously. “I’d like that.”

Chris breathed in a sigh of relief and looked happy.

“Great! I was hoping you’d say yes,” he replied with a grin. “I’ll see you on Saturday – which is…” Chris started counting on his fingers. “Two days away.”

“Cool,” said Julie. “See you.” She waved goodbye, her heart ready to burst with happiness.

Chris Reynolds just asked me out!

She practically glided on air into the class, much to the surprise of a frowning Professor Snape, who was alone, laboriously marking a scroll on his table.

It was still a good half an hour before class started, and Snape was wondering what insane Julie Chance was doing, dancing into class so early - too early.

______________________________________________________________


“Jules? Why have you been smiling all through Snape’s class?”

Julie snapped out of her daydream, where she and Chris were happily strolling down Hogsmeade, hand-in-hand.

“What?” she asked, looking dazed at her friend.

“I said – what’s with all the smiling?” Ron repeated himself. “In Snape’s class, nonetheless. I mean, there is totally nothing to smile about with Snape around.”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Julie said in a sing-song voice. Darn, all this happy feelings are making me delirious!

As the foursome strolled back to the Gryffindor common room for a well-deserved rest from the busy school day, Julie felt truly happy.

Chris asked me out! God, I have to record this day down! It has to be the happiest day of my life!


The next morning, Julie was still in her happy mood as she hopped out of bed, and prepared herself for the brand new day.

Dawn was just breaking, and glimmers of early-morning sunshine filtered in through the gauze curtains that lined her window.

Nothing could ruin this day! Julie thought to herself as she glided down the staircase that led from the Girl’s Dormitories.

The first time that someone actually asked her out.

She sang to herself merrily in her mind, and paused at the doorway that led to the common area when she saw her dearest Chris sitting with a group of guys near the fireplace.

What’s Chris doing up so early? she thought. Awww… he looks so adorable in that pullover!

“Man, I’m already leading you by eight, Briggs! You’d better get a move on!” Chris was jeering, laughing at a burly, rather dim-looking boy, who was folding his arms.

“Chance… Hogsmeade…”

Julie pricked her ears at the mention of her name. What was Chris saying about her? She was careful to remain hidden in the shadows as she continued her eavesdrop.

“Yeah, I still can’t believe that you asked Chance out!” Another boy with thick blonde hair added, laughing.

Hey! What’s wrong with asking me out?! Julie thought furiously.

“Well, she’d make a pretty good conquest,” Chris admitted, laughing. “I mean, she might stammer a bit here and there, but she’s actually rather … intriguing.”

Julie felt her heart drop into the pits of her stomach.

Conquest?

“Intriguing eh?” Briggs asked with a laugh. “How so? And what’s more, she’s rather tall and gawky.”

“True, true,” Chris said pompously. “But if you actually take the time to look at her, she’s rather …. I don’t know, alluring? It’s all in her eyes. And yeah, she’s a little tall, a little awkward, but hey! It’s not like I’m going to be with her for that long!” He paused to smirk. “I’ll finish playing with her, and after the Hogsmeade weekend, she’ll be my thirteenth conquest!”

Julie’s legs felt like they were giving way.

Playing? Thirteenth conquest?

Tears pricked her eyes. So, Chris was just fooling around with her. He did not really fancy her. She was just a conquest, a mere trophy by some egoistical guys seeking ways to show their manliness.

I was such an idiot, she told herself, choking back sobs. I actually thought Chris Reynolds liked me. What was I thinking?

Anguish plucked at her, and she quickly ran back into her dormitory, tears falling rapidly …

I was just a toy…
__________________________________end_________________________________________



Chapter 6: I'll Never Be Your Number Thirteen
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Note: Sorry this came out so late. I posted this chapter yesterday, but when I came online today I realized that it had not been approved.

When I checked my mail, they told me that the chapter had been turned down because of some errors in my coding, with regard to an image I placed in the chapter itself. (?!) I didn't put an image in the chapter!

So anyway, I had to retype the story again since I didn't save it - a result of not wanting to take up storage space - so here it is!

So to make it up to you guys - I'm posting two chapters of Imperfection today! And hopefully one chapter of A Life Unforetold.

By the way - CONSTANTINE IS SO AMAZING! If you haven't watched that movie yet - go watch it! (: Keanu Reeves is soooo hot although he's kinda old ;)
___________________________________________________


Julie ran back to her dormitory, blinded by the tears that kept falling. Her heart hurt so much as she recalled Chris' stinging remarks.

Just a conquest.

Was that what she would always be?

Conquest

The word had such a haunting ring to it. It repeated itself over and over again in Julie's mind, each time more painful than the first.

She fell heavily onto her bed, which creaked in protest. As she buried her face into her pillow, she cried until her voice shook, until she was breathless.

As she brought her tear-stained face up from her pillow, she weakly got out of bed.

I have to find Myrtle...

______________________________________________________________________________________

Julie tiptoed toward the common room, and peeked from the corner. She would need to pass through the common room to get to the portrait hole.

Chris was still there.

Oh crap, she thought in her mind. After releasing all her sadness, only anger and loathe filled her when she saw him.

How on earth would she get out of the common room?

He and his friends were still chatting - this time about Quidditch.

How I wish I could just sock his jaw... Julie thought furiously. That overblown, conceited, egoist!

She glanced longingly at the portrait hole. She had to get out, but how would she deal with Chris?

After a moment of pondering, she decided to just face the music.

If Chris saw her, so be it.

She walked toward the portrait hole, her head held high in an attempt to preseve her dwindling dignity. As she neared the portrait hole, she heard a snigger, and someone speaking in a low voice.

"Hey Reynolds, there goes number thirteen."

Julie's face flushed with fury when she heard it.

She heard Chris' familar laugh.

"Julie!"

ARG! And I was just like, five inches from the portrait hole!

Julie spun around slowly, and plastered a sickly sweet smile on her face.

"Hi Chris, what's up?" she found herself saying.

Strange, I'm not having that stupid stammer.

"What are you doing here so early?"he asked, his voice tinged with concern, as he raised his hand to touch her arm lightly.

The very action sent tingles of excitement up her arm, but she pushed those thoughts away.

She pulled her arm away.

"I'm just going to have a little walk around the castle grounds, got a problem with that?" she said shortly.

Chris looked slightly taken aback with her answer.

"Jules, you alright?" he asked, trying to tread on more familar ground. "You seem a little ... snappish today."

Julie just glared at him.

"I'm alright," she said, forcing yet another sweet smile. "I'm just going off now. You have a nice chat with your friends."

Chris looked at her questioningy. "Right..." he began. "Well, I'll see you later."

He moved close to her, and gave her a light peck on the cheek.

Urg! Stop polluting me with your germs! Julie thought irritably.

As Chris pulled away, she forced one last smile for Chris, and stepped out of the portrait hole. Before the portrait swung back to its original place, she called out to Chris, who was walking away.

"By the way, I'll never be your number thirteen!"
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Julie smiled triumphantly to herself as she plotted in her mind how she would get back at Chris. Humiliation in front of his friends did not seem to be enough.

As she slowly stepped into Moaning Myrtle's grey bathroom, she felt a sense of comfort and security overwhelm her. This place was so familar to her, that although it was gloomy, the place held a lot of memories and made her feel at home.

"Myrtle?" she called out tentatively. She wondered if Myrtle would be here so early in the morning.

A translucent head bobbed along the wall of a cubicle, its messy pigtails swaying gently.

"Julie? What are you doing here so early?" she called out in her sing-song voice.

"Just felt like having a chat with a good friend," Julie replied with a smile as she sat herself comfortably on the sink area. "I just met with a jerk."

Myrtle floated toward her gracefully.

"Jerk? Who?" she asked curiously.

Julie began re-telling her story about Chris Reynolds, how he had asked her out, how elated she had been, and how he crushed her feelings.

"That jerk brought up my mood, gave me new meaning and happiness to my life, and then he had to go and let it all go - let it fall and shatter," Julie spat bitterly. "What I wouldn't give to land a blow on his smirking, obnoxious face!"

She sighed, and placed her head in her hands.

"Is that what I will always be, Myrtle?" she asked quietly. "A conquest? A loser? Someone whom no one will ever consider going out with? Will I always have this stammer for the rest of my life?"

It was amazing how she could speak so freely in the presence of Myrtle without that horrible stammer interrupting her every word.

Myrtle looked at her thoughtfully.

"You know, I heard of this nifty spell during my year at Hogwarts when I was still alive," she ventured. "I'm not sure if it exists, but it's called the 'Perfection' spell."

"This spell entitles the brewer to be perfect in every aspect of his/her life. It's very potent, and it's supposedly found in one of the books in the Restricted section."

A glimmer of hope shone through Julie.

"Really?" she asked, almost pleading. "Are you suggesting that I get into the Restricted section, find the spell, and work it on myself?"

Myrtle grinned mischeviously.

"Kinda," she said. "I don't like seeing you always so glum and insecure of yourself. Maybe this spell could change your life..."

Julie smiled, and pondered over what Myrtle had said.

"But how will I break into the Restricted section unnoticied? I mean, it's not like any teacher would sign for me to take out that particular book."

Myrtle looked at Julie, a slight mischevious glint playing in her eyes.

"You've told me that Harry has an invisibility cloak, haven't you?"

___________________________________________________ end ____________________________________________________


Chapter 7: Stealing the Cloak
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Later, Julie strolled leisurely back to the common room after a good talk with Myrtle.

But how can I acquire Harry's cloak? I can't just ask him, can I? He'll want to know why, and I don't think I should tell my friends about what I'm going to do...

Lost in thought, she bumped into someone, and stumbled backwards, falling to the ground.

"Darn - what are you trying to do? Give me concussion?" that someone snapped irritably.

Julie glanced about and saw Malfoy stroking the back of his head, which had hit the wall.

Hatred surged through her as she unsteadily got to her feet.

"Hey! You weren't exactly w-watching where you were going e-either!" she snapped back, feeling herself groan inwardly at the return of her stammering.

Malfoy sneered, and stood up.

Julie was just a centimetre or so shorter than Malfoy, and she cursed her great height. Tall girls always seemed to be so awkward, so ungainly, so ungraceful.

"Don't take that tone with me, Chance," he said dangerously, snorting. "You're dealing with a prefect here."

"I'll take that tone with whosoever I p-please!" she retorted.

Amazing! I never had so much courage to snap back at Malfoy, and at least my words came out fairly clearly.

Malfoy looked at Julie strangely.

"You're one weird person, Chance," he said, with a sneer. "Better watch your steps."

Julie refused to retort, and instead, huffily strode down the hall.

"If I were you, Chance, I'd learn to get rid of that annoying stammer!"

The insult echoed through the halls, and Julie felt more determined than ever to get to that Perfection spell.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Back in the common room, Julie bumped into a flustered looking Hermione, who looked greatly relieved to see her.

"Jules! There you are! I was wondering where you went!" she said breathlessly.

Julie laughed. "Relax, Herms, I'm still in one piece!"

Hermione rolled her eyes and grinned at her.

"Where have you been anyway?" she asked.

"Nowheres. I was just with Moaning Myrtle, having a little chat."

"Right. Okay... Why don't we go to the Great Hall for breakfast? I'm sure you're starved," said Hermione, grabbing her arm. "Practically all the Gryffindors are there already, and we're the last."

Something clicked in Julie's head.

All the Gryffindors...?

"What about Harry and Ron?" she ventured.

"They're down there too. There's no one in this place, so come one!"

Julie smiled deviously.

"Alright, I'll be down in a j-jiff. Let me get something from my dorm and I'll catch up with you later."

Hermione smiled at her.

"Okay, but don't take too long!"

____________________________________________________________________________________________

When Julie was sure that Hermione had already left the common room, she was filled with an exhilaration at the prospect of having the whole common room to herself.

She walked into the Boy's Dormitories, filled with an excitement at having the Invisibility Cloak all to herself, at least until tonight. That's the time when she would strike.

She had come into Harry and Ron's dorm once or twice before with Hermione for their late-night chats, and so she knew the place fairly well. She paced past the well-worn walls and found that familar oak door with some playful engravings.

She traced her fingers over a particular engraving that she and Ron had made together.

Jul and Ron - Friends Forever.

A familiar sense of nostalgia overwhelmed her. Ron had been her first best friend, and it was through him that she knew Harry and Hermione.

Pushing past the door, she was greeted with a messy sight of strewn socks, shirts, and papers.

Boys, she thought to herself, rolling her eyes.

She snaked past the mess, and toward Harry's neat bed, a sharp contrast to Ron's messy and unmade one.

Reaching under the bed, she ran her fingers through the suitcases and books, until she felt her fingers rub against a familiar feel of a rough, wooden trunk.

Jackpot.

Slowly, she pulled out the old trunk, bringing up a cloud of dust bunnies as she did.

The trunk was a deep, rich brown, with silver clasps and a rusting latch, with Harry's name chipped messily onto the side of it.

Cautiously, she lifted the latch and pulled open the trunk. Inside was the fluid-like, silvery-grey cloak, which she had watched Harry disappear under countless times. She had always thought the cloak was beautiful, and simply amazing, although she never really had the chance to touch it nor use it. It was always Ron and Harry who had this chance.

She fingered the material, enjoying the cool sensation that pricked her skin. Finally, she got to her feet, and then something else in the trunk caught her eye.

A picture of the four of them together, smiling and laughing together next to the train last year before they all went home. Harry was laughing, trying to put bunny-ears on Julie's head, while Ron was making a funny face beside her, Hermione grinning at him.

That moment was picture-perfect, and Julie felt guilt tugging at her heart. Should she really take Harry's prized possesion without asking, and should she keep what she was doing a secret from them?

Harry's gaze swept past her, as if beckonning her to make the right decision.

She felt a greater tugging at her heart, but she ignored it.

"I'm sorry, Harry," she whispered and placed the picture gently back into the trunk, closing it with a sickenning thud.

Julie made her escape from the Boy's Dormitories, hiding her possession safely in her suitcase, before running off to the Great Hall.

______________________________________________________________________________________

"There you are," Harry said pleasantly when Julie reached the table. "Quick, I've managed to save you some gelatin before Ron devoured it all."

Harry's niceness made Julie feel uneasy.

"T-thanks," she said weakly as she plopped down next to him. He passed her the green gelatin he had saved just for her - he knew how much she loved the stuff.

She scooped the gelatin guility into her mouth, hoping that Harry would never find out that she had just taken away his father's belonging, and that she was keeping a huge secret that would change her entire life forever from him.

"Jules? What's wrong?" Harry asked her, eyes searching her face for answers.

"What...? Oh, urm, nothing," she said, blushing. "Just thinking about stuff, you know?"

Harry raised a brow skeptically. "Oh, and I heard that my team captain, Chris, asked you out to Hogsmeade tomorrow," he said, with a devilish grin. "How come you never told us?"

"Chris asked you out?" Ron suddenly asked, slightly horrified.

"Y-yeah," Julie replied uncertainly They had to bring up the Chris incident again.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Jules," said Ron, frowning. "Chris isn't exactly Mr. Faithful."

"Yeah, I know," said Julie dully. "I found out his true intentions of asking me out already."

"Really? What?" Hermione asked.

"I overheard him t-telling his buddies that he just wanted me as a conquest, you know. To be played and done with."

"What?" Ron burst out furiously. "How dare he play around with my friend like that! I'm going over straight to that scum and slap him with a hefty detention with Snape!"

"Ron, cool it," said Hermione, rolling her eyes. "You can't threaten detentions to students." She brought her gaze back to Julie. "So did anything happen?"

Julie sighed and ate her gelatin.

"Nope, but I really hoped that he'd like me, and I guess not," she said miserably.

Harry put an arm around her reassuringly.

"Don't worry, girl! You'll meet lots of other better guys worthy enough for you!" he said cheerfully.

Julie smiled faintly.

The question is more ... whether I'll meet any guy that I'll be worthy enough for.

_______________________________________________ end ________________________________________________________


Chapter 8: The Perfection Spell
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I walk a lonely road
the only one that I have ever known ..
Greenday, Boulevard of Broken Dreams

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

That night, as the darkness descended upon Hogwarts, and everyone was safely in bed, Julie quietly got out of bed, knelt on the floor, and reached under the bed for her suitcase.

Pulling out Harry's invisibility cloak, she sneaked past Hermione's sleeping form, careful not to wake her, and laid the cool fabric of the invisibility cloak against her shoulders.

Peering down at her feet, she was taken aback when she saw nothing there, but the hard, cement floor of the dorm. Shocked, she staggered back a little, and then laughed at herself for her foolishness.


Of course, you stupid git, it's not called an invisibility cloak for nothing!

She draped the whole cloak around her, careful to ensure that she was entirely covered.

Thank goodness the cloak is able to fit around this elongated body of mine!

Slowly, she paced her way out of the common room, onto the silent, dark corridors of Hogwarts.

The silence ringed in her ears, and she reached into her back pocket for her wand, the familiar phrase Harry had been told by Moody for putting his wand in his back pocket came back to her, and she giggled.

Don't put your wand there, boy! What if it ignited? Better wizards than you have lost buttocks, you know!

"Lumos," she whispered, as a dull light glowed from her wand, lighting up the corridor dimly.

The light from the wand guided her, and she followed it to the library.
__________________________________________________________________________

She creaked open the library door, and peered in. There was no one in sight, and so, she crept in.

Man, the library sure is spooky at night, she thought with a shiver, feeling her way toward the Restricted section.

Julie soon reached a cordonned off area, where countless volumes of untouched books lay on long rich mahogany shelves. The wide array of books overwhelmed her, and she wondered where to start looking.

This is going to take me a looooong while... she thought, and started scanning book titles.

Three hours later, Julie had gone through almost half of the length of shelves, but still no luck. She had seen enough grotesque pictures and wayward spells to make her nauseous. Stifling a yawn, she was in despair.

Maybe the spell is really a rumor... she mused, sighing, as she slid a mouldy-looking book back into its rightful position. She debated whether she should continue searching, but decided against it.

I suppose it wasn't meant to be... she thought sadly, as she began her slow walk out of the musty-smelling Restricted section. "YIPE!"

With a shriek, she tripped over a volume that she had forgotten to return, knocking her head hard against a shelf, causing various thick books to fall off with loud crashes. She landed ungracefully on her behind, and whimpered a little at the dull ache spreading across her stomach.

She kicked the volume next to her irritably, and got up unsteadily to pick up the mess, reading through the titles as she placed them back.

Most Potente Potions, The Vagabond's Curses, The Dark Craft, All Hell Unleashed... Dang why are all these book titles so creepy? Changing One's Life... Wait!!

Julie glanced at the fairly thin book, and fingered its red leather covering. It had a shiny gold clasp, and the title, "Changing One's Life" was embossed in striking gold letters, beckonning her to open the book and unveil the mysteries it held within.

This book might actually have the spell...

Flipping open the book hastily, she scanned the contents, her fingers tracing the various chapters.

"Vital Statistics... Eye Color... Feet Size..." she mumbled. Finally, she came to the last chapter...

"The Perfection Spell."

Joy and elation flooded her. Finally! After sacrificing more than 3 hours of her time, she had found the one spell which would change her life forever!

She smiled giddily, and slid the book under her cloak. Relieved to actually have the solution to all her problems at last under her cloak, she sped out of the library, exhilaration pounding in her veins.
______________________________________________________________________________________________--

Back in the safety of her dorm, she slid off the cloak, folding it neatly, and pulled out her prize.

This is it, Chance, she thought gleefully. This is the one thing that will solve all my problems.

Under the dim glow of her wand, she read through the chapter.

The Perfection Spell is a combination of all the other spells in this book. It will completely change the person's life, improving all his or her negative aspects, while enhancing the positive ones. In short, it will make the brewer perfect.

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, which is why I fully encourage the brewer to consider it carefully before actually brewing this potion. Of course, there has to be some cons in this spell, which I will touch on further in the chapter.


"So far so good," Julie mumbled to herself, as she read the ingredients list. "This is one complicated potion..."

With another yawn, Julie shut the book sharply and placed it snugly under her pillow.

"Goodnight," she whispered to the red book. "I'll study you more clearly tomorrow after I get some shut-eye..."

With a contented smile on her lips, she slipped into slumberland, the book from the Restricted section under her pillow...
__________________________________________________________________________________________

"Jules! Jules, wake up!"

Julie openned an eye sleepily and saw a blurry image of a bushy-haired creature shaking her vigorously.

"AGH!" she screamed and fell off the bed in fright.

As her vision slowly cleared, she saw Hermione, her hair messed up and tangled, peering at her curiously.

Breathing a sigh of relief, she hastily got to her feet.

"Jeez, Herms! People do die of fright, you know!" Julie protested, brushing herself off. She peered over at her pillow, and was thankful that the book was still safely hidden under it.

"Sorr-ee," said Hermione irritably. "How was I supposed to know that you'd be such a fraidy-cat?"

"Am not!" Julie stuck out her tongue at Hermione. "So what did you wake me up for? It's the weekend, for crying out loud!"

"Precisely," replied Hermione, dragging a comb through her messy, straggly hair. "And it's already almost noon, you pig! We're leaving soon!"

"Noon?" Julie peered over at the bedside clock. "Dang, you're right, Herms! But... should I go today? I mean, I don't know how to face Chris..."

"Ahh who cares about that jerk?" Hermione said, sucessfully pulling her hair back into a bun. "Just go over there, get some fresh air, and have some fun!"

Suddenly, a 6th year girl whom Julie had seen around burst into their room.

"Julie Chance, right?" she asked.

Julie looked puzzled.

"Yeah, I am. What's going on?" she questionned.

"There's a guy called Chris Reynolds asking for you in the common room."
_________________________________________________ end _____________________________________________________


Chapter 9: Down Knockturn Alley
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"Chris?" Julie wrinkled her nose in disgust. "What does he want?"

The girl shrugged.

"Beats me. He just grabbed me and asked me to find Julie Chance. He seemed quite nervous," she said. "And he really is quite the cutie."

Julie grinned when she heard the last part.

"You can have him," she told the girl rather simply. "Although he pretty much is a jerk."

The girl laughed. "It's always like that. The cute ones are usually the stupid ones."

"So true," she replied with a smile. "Can you tell the jerk that I'll be down in a jiff? Let me get dressed first."

"Sure," said the girl, as she strode off, closing the door behind her.

"You seriously aren't going to talk to him, are you?" Hermione asked as Julie put on a bright pink tank and her classic black jeans.

"I've got to," she replied, tying up her laces. "I've got to iron things out with that idiot."

"Suit yourself," Hermione said, returning to brushing her hair. "But you better not do anything stupid. And watch yourself."

"Yes mother," Julie replied innocently. "I'll behave and be a good girl."

With a laugh, Hermione threw a pillow at her as she ran down the stairs.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Julie cautiously peeped her head into the common room, mentally preparing herself for the big showdown.

She saw Chris, looking hotter than ever, in a black pullover and olive slacks, hunching by the wall, his dirty blonde hair tousled.

Here we go, she thought to herself, taking a deep breath as she walked over to him, butterflies swirming in her stomach.

"H-hi Chris," she greeted him shakily. "What's going on?"

"Oh, hey," said Chris uncertainly when he saw her. "I just wanted to urm... apologize about the last incident. I feel like a jerk."

Julie raised an eyebrow warily. Could she trust him this time? Or was he still onto his 'I-wanna-get-close-to-you-to-play-with-you-and-kick-you-aside-like-a-piece-of-trash' kick?

"Right," she said. "No harm done. Can I go now?"

As she spun to leave, Chris grabbed her wrist.

"Let go," she sputtered. "What's up with you?"

"Will you give me another chance?" he said, with so much sincerity that Julie almost believed him. "I know I was an idiot the last time, but this time it's for real, okay? I totally sorted things out."

Should I...? Julie thought.

An image of Ron suddenly flashed in her mind.

"Chris isn't exactly Mr. Faithful..." she heard him telling her off.

Ron's right... she mused. If even he can see it, why should I doubt it? A leopard never changes its spots...

She flung off Chris' grip on her wrist.

"Sorry," she apologized, as she hurried up the stairs to her dorm. "Once bitten, twice shy..."

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Back in her dorm, she was relieved to see Hermione not around to drill her about what had happened. Quickly, she took out the sacred book from under her pillow and flipped through to the last page.

Grabbing a pen and a paper, she quickly jotted down the various ingredients.

Parsley, blood of a Blast-Ended Skrewt, Laceweed, Bohemian flies... The list went on and on. Finally, she rolled up her paper, tucked the book back under the pillow, and went about the common room looking for her friends.

"Harry? Ron? Hermione?"

"We're here!" called out Hermione's chirpy voice. "Waiting for your majesty's arrival."

Julie grinned and ran over to them. "Sorry," she apologized. "I had things to do."

"Yeah, so what did Chris want anyways?" Hermione asked.

Ron looked surprised. "That nit had the nerve to ask for her again? Jeez!"

"Stop interrupting," Hermione scolded and turned her attention back to Julie. "Well?"

"Nah... he just w-wanted me to give him another chance and what-not. Anyway, who cares about that weirdo? Can we like get to Hogsmeade now? I've got things I need to buy," she said.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

As the foursome entered the bustling atmosphere of Hogsmeade, Julie isolated herself from her friends.

"Hey I've got some errands to run," she told them. "I'll meet you all later at the Three Broomsticks, alright?"

"You sure you don't want us to follow you?" Ron asked, and Julie shook her head.

"It's alright," she replied, walking off. Her first stop was a place where she did not want her friends around.

She walked by herself, admiring the surroundings, and innocently rounded off a dark alleyway.

"Knockturn Alley looks so different now..." she mumbled to herself as she saw the mysterious, dark figures looming about the dim alley.

"Chance?"

Her heart froze, and Julie slowly turned around to see who it was.

Malfoy.

"What are you doing here?" he asked suspiciously, circling her. "Shouldn't you be up there with your goody-goody friends?"

Julie glared at him. "None of your business, Malfoy," she snapped, as she tried to pass him.

"Oh no you don't. Tell me what you're doing here and I'll let you pass," he sneered, and put his face closer toward her ear. "Who knows, I might even give you a special tour of Knockturn alley..."

A wave of disgust passed through Julie as she pushed him away, before striding off as fast as she could.

A thought then flashed in her mind, and she stopped dead in her tracks.

"Malfoy!" she hollered across the lane.

A stunned looking Malfoy turned around, his platinum blonde hair glimmering under the faint sunlight.

"What is it, Chance?" he asked sourly.

"Would you by any chance know where to buy Bohemian flies?"

__________________________________________________________________________________________

The next few hours of Julie's time was spent was Malfoy, who strangely enough, was fairly entertaining.

And he knew the various nooks and cranies of Knockturn alley fairly well.

After all the ingredients were safely in Julie's bag, she turned to leave the alley.

"Oy Chance! You still haven't told me what all those ingredients were for!" Malfoy called back after they had said their goodbyes.

Julie smiled. "You'll see," she replied slyly, before adding. "And you know something Malfoy - you aren't so bad after all."

Malfoy smirked. "I was going to say the same thing about you, Julie."

Before Julie could fully contemplate Malfoy's words, Draco disappeared into another part of Knockturn alley.

He called me by my first name! she thought, amused, as she reappeared into the bright glare of the afternoon sun. That has never happened before...

She held her newly-acquired belongings safely, and walked into the Three Broomsticks, where her friends were waiting.

"Finally! We were wondering whether you were going to show up at all!" Harry proclaimed, throwing his hands up into the air in relief when he saw her.

"Apologies," Julie said with a grin as she plopped down onto the empty seat next to Hermione. "It took a little longer than expected..."

_______________________________________________ end _______________________________________________________

Sorry if that was a little boring, but I was in a rush. Tomorrow's a brand new school day and I've got to get offline and study for my tests next week. x_x Anyway, don't forget to review! Next chapter will probably be out on Tuesday.




Chapter 10: Brewing the Potion : Night One
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note This chapter should have been up on urm... Tuesday. Apparently they said I had some problems with images. I didn't even put images!!


Anyway, apologies for the long wait. I have a whole week of tests so I probably won't be online much (: I'm suffering from indigestion :P Gak. Haha okay on with the chapter!
__________________________________________________________________________________________________


Julie smiled contentedly as she dropped onto her bed, her hands holding on tightly to the bag that contained her prized ingredients.

It had been a rather eventful day she had spent with her best friends, and the greatest relief she felt was that she never did see Chris at all at Hogsmeade.

Probably off harrassing some other poor girl, Julie thought with a smile as she chucked her bag under her bed, should Hermione see them.

But as Hermione entered the room, Julie felt the same old guilt wash over her again. She could not leave her best friend in the dark - she just couldn't!

"Herms..." she began uncertainly, watching Hermione plod in in her pink pyjamas.

"Yeah?" Hermione replied absently as she trailed a brush through her hair. "What's up?"

Julie just stared at her friend, and Hermione, sensing something amiss, went over to her bed and sat down next to her, giving her a curious look.

"What?" she persisted. "Come on, Jules. You can tell me."

Hesitantly, Julie met Hermione's gaze. Inside those warm brown orbs, Julie could feel Hermione's concern and care for her. She felt like she could really open up to her best friend, she could tell her everything that was happening in her life.

"Well..." she began reluctantly. "I'm planning on making a p-potion."

"Oh?" Hermione's face creased into a look of relief. "What kind?"

Julie sighed, and delved under her pillow, reaching for the red, leather bound book with a trembling hand, unsure of Hermione's reaction. Carefully, she flipped the wrinkled pages of the old book to the very last chapter.

"The Perfection Spell?" Hermione wrinkled her nose. "I've heard of this spell before, and not very good reviews about it, I'm afraid. You want to try it?"

Julie nodded her head feebly. "You think it's a good idea?"

Hermione studied the chapter, her eyes flicking disapprovingly over the pages.

"Not really," she said finally. "It's really complicated, I think even NEWT students would have a slight difficulty attempting it. I heard of this one girl who tried it, and apparently she did something wrong - an ounce too much of Dragon Powder - and she was found writhing in agony, white foam at her mouth, and well, let's just say she was never the same again. She was no longer as agile and as alive as she used to be. She became like a living corpse - living on the outside, but dead on the inside..."

Hermione's tale sent tingles of fear up Julie's spine. Was she actually doing the right thing? Potions was not even her strong subject, it was quite likely that she would mess up.

But still, the benefits of having a perfect life just egged her on, and she felt an unknown force compel her to open her mouth and speak.

"I don't care, I have to do it." With a pause to absorb what she herself had just spoken, she added,

"Will you help me, Hermione?"

Hermione bit her lip, thinking. Julie could almost see the cogs in her mind working, contemplating the various pros and cons.

Hermione definitely knew it was dangerous, yet Julie was almost certain Hermione was dying to try out the spell for herself as well, to see if this potion could really work wonders.

"Alright, but on one condition," she finally said, closing the book shut gently.

Julie burst into a smile. "Great! What is it?"

"We have to tell Ron and Harry, and see what they think. If they approve then we'll go along to make it."

_________________________________________________________________________

"You what?!" Ron sputtered when Hermione and Julie broke the news the next morning during breakfast.

"Keep it down, Ron! You don't want the professors to know that she broke into the library and stole a book, would you?" Hermione hissed, clamping her hand on Ron's mouth.

"Sorry," said Ron. "But jeez, Jules! What were you thinking? You could have been caught or something!"

"Hey, I'm still here and I'm fine, aren't I?" Julie protested. "Come on Ron, stop sounding like my mother and approve of it!"

"I don't think it's a good idea, Jules," Harry said, studying the book. "I mean, the book is from the Restricted section, and I'm pretty sure it was there for a good reason."

"But Harry!" Julie argued. "It could really change my life. My life is so screwed, so messed up at the moment, I can't really remember a time when I felt truly happy. I'm desperate for a miracle!"

Harry still looked unconvinced, and looked to Ron for support.

"I don't think it's a good idea either," Ron stated firmly. "But... I guess if it's what you really want then... well, full-force ahead? I'll support you no matter what you do, I suppose. But be careful."

Harry looked at both Ron and Hermione, and finally, letting out a sigh, he turned to Julie.

"Alright. It's three against one. What can I say? Go ahead, if you think it's good."

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

That night, the foursome tucked into Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, where Myrtle seemed to go all quiet and giggly once Harry stepped in.

"It says here that the potion must be brewed over a period of 7 days," Hermione said, reading off the book. "It can be stopped at any process of time, but the contents must be discarded properly, otherwise disastrous consequences would follow."

Julie nodded, and slowly unpacked all her ingredients. It was quite a lot of them, and she still had yet to steal one or two herbs from Snape's private stores.

"Alright, now on the first day will be the easiest, because we only have to put in five ingredients. But we have to measure them out quite accurately, for any inaccuracy might lead to something you won't want to happen..." Hermione trailed off, and named out all the ingredients.

"After adding the five ingredients in the correct order, leave the concoction to meld together under moonlight for a day. Oh, Julie, the spell needs you to add your urm... blood to it."

"What?" Julie cried out, surprised. "Blood?!"

"Appears so," Hermione said, fingering the page. "Your characteristics have to be imprinted into the concoction so that the potion can be specially designed to fit you."

Julie felt faint. Blood frightenned her.

"You don't have to continue with this, you know," Harry told her firmly. "This spell seems like some dark magic at work."

"Yeah," piped up Ron, and she tried to clear her mind, tried to decide what to do.

"Oh what the heck," Julie said suddenly, and grabbed a pin from her pocket. With a trembling hand, she thrust the needle into her index finger, and let the blood drip steadily from the wound.

"Owch," said Ron.

"Thanks for the comment," Julie said, grinning, yet wincing at the same time.

They watched as the concoction simmered for a moment, turning various shades of the murky green, and finally, it stopped bubbling and settled for a faint, mysterious grey, tinged with light sky blues.

"Alright! Now we've got the first night down pat. We just leave it in the moonlight, ask Myrtle to watch over it for us, and we shall head back to the dorms before it gets too late and get some sleep," declared Hermione, closing the book and thrusting it back into her robes.

"Right you are, Hermie!" Ron said, yawning loudly. "Too much excitement for one night."

Julie rolled her eyes as she followed her friends out of the bathroom, her eyes watchful of the grey substance that stood prominently in the little cauldron by the window, glinting slightly under the gaze of the soft moonlight...

______________________________________________ end __________________________________________________________


Chapter 11: Detention with Snape
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The second night of the brewing went along fairly well, but Julie soon realized that she needed a herb or two from Snape's private stores for night four.

All through the day, all Julie could think about was how she would steal a handful of lace weeds and mithox grains.

"Miss Chance?"

How would she even get into Snape's office in the first place, when he would always be there? Unless she could sneak in through the window?

"Miss Chance."

Or maybe she could get Harry's invisibility cloak? I wonder if Harry ever found out that I sneaked his cloak out...

"CHANCE."

The raspy, harsh voice snapped Julie out of her daydream, and she almost screamed to see Snape's greasy face hovering above her.

"Oh, Professor Snape! Yes, sir?" she stammered uneasily, as Snape frowned mercilessly at her.

"Daydreaming in class, are we?" he sneered. "This calls for docking of points. Twenty points from Gryffindor, and detention tonight. 8pm."

Julie openned her mouth to protest, but upon seeing Snape's glare, she meekly decided against it.

"Yes sir," she sulked, as the Slytherins sniggered away.

"Old stammer-a-lot has gotten detention!"

"Yeah! Hope Snape has a lot of fun t-talking t-to h-her t-tonight."

The rude comments hurt Julie, but she tried to put on a strong font.

Don't get intimidated by them, Chance! We'll see who will be laughing when the spell is done!

And then a very pleasing thought came to her.

I think my problem has just been solved! Detention with Snape tonight will give me a chance to take the ingredients that I need...

________________________________________________________________



"Detention with Snape? Good luck," Ron commented later at dinner. It was still a good half hour before 8pm.

"No need for that," Julie said with a smile. "It's really a blessing in disguise."

Ron nearly choked on his soup.

"Blessing?! Since when was Snape a blessing?!" he sputtered. "Harry, we've got to get her to the hospital wing, she's cracking up!"

Julie threw a spoon at Ron, which narrowly missed his ear.

"Hey! That was a deliberate attempt on my life!" Ron protested.

"Stop being such a prat," said Julie, sticking out her tongue. "Anyway, like I was going to say before I was so rudely interrupted, detention with Snape could actually enable me to get those two missing ingredients for the spell!"

Harry's face immediately creased into a frown.

"Speaking of the spell, you sure you want to continue on with it?" he asked, lowering his voice. "I mean, the more I think of it, the more I think it's a really bad idea. I don't want anything bad to happen to you."

"Relax, Harry! Nothing will go wrong. My life will be transformed, I'll start loving myself, and everything will just go on peachy," Julie replied, returning her attention to her own soup. "I can't wait, four more days to go!"

With a sigh, Harry returned to his chewing.

"So I'll see you guys in the bathroom again after my detention?" Julie asked, looking at her friends eagerly.

"I suppose," Hermione agreed listlessly.

__________________________________________________________________

The clock seemed to be in fast motion today, 8pm just came too fast.

Julie slowly down the dimly-lit corridor towards Snape's office, filled with anxiety, butterflies flying around in the pits of her stomach.

God, am I really going to break into Snape's private stores? Julie felt herself wondering nervously. After all, she had never caused trouble on purpose, did she really want to risk her clean record?

As she reached the intimidating oak door, Julie raised a hand and knocked with what strength she could muster.

"Enter," came a cold voice on the other side. With a shaking hand, Julie pushed open the door cautiously, peering around Snape's cluttered office. To her shock and utter amazement, Draco Malfoy's bleached hair was visibly seen sitting comfortably on a chair.

"Draco?" Julie felt herself questioning. "Oh, good evening, Professor."

"Evening to you too, Miss Chance. Now, if you would so kindly sit, I'll tell you what you have to do for today's detention," snarled Snape, indicating the chair next to Draco.

"What are you doing here?" Julie hissed to Draco. Snape could not have possibly given his number one favorite student detention! Unless Julie was going blind or something.

"Professor McGonagall said that he was a disruptive influence in her class," sniffed Snape. "I'm quite sure he isn't. McGonagall has always been biased against him. I'm just filling in for her because she's busy today."

Draco had on his smug look as he spoke.

"Quite right, Professor," he said rather importantly.

"Oh right," Julie replied, trying to stop herself from rolling her eyes. Wait, this kinda spoils my plans for tonight! Draco will be able to see what I'm up to when I break into Snape's private stores!

A stone of dread settled in her stomach. She would be serving detention for nothing?

Clenching her fists irritably, she plopped down on the chair heavily, trying to mask her sulk.

"Alright. Malfoy, you will be helping me record the Potion marks of the students after I've finished marking their essays. You can leave in half an hour," he spoke rather nicely to Draco, who smirked, much to Julie's irritation.

He turned to face her, and his face took a 360 degree change. He frowned and looked at her disapprovingly.

"As you for, Chance, you will be dusting and rearranging my private stores. You will leave in an hour," he sneered.

Private stores?

Hallelujah!

Julie could have danced for joy there and then. She could hardly believe her good fortune!

"Yes sir," she said obediently, trying to put on an angelic look that said 'I-won't-be-doing-anything-dishonest'.

Snape hardly batted an eye and led her over to the other side of the room, opening a door, which later revealed a long room filled with transparent glass bottles and queer substances in them.

"How long have y-you not cleared out this place," said Julie unintentionally, as she inhaled the musty smell of sweat and mothballs. Dust bunnies littered the sides of the room, and there barely was a bottle which was not dust-covered.

Snape spun on his heel and glared at her.

"Oops. Sorry Professor," apologized Julie upon realizing her blunder.

"Just for that, you'll be staying for an hour and a half," he snapped. "Now I want you to make sure every potion is properly arrnaged in alphabetical order, and all the dust has to be cleared. There's a tap at the corner -" Snape paused to point towards a rusting, silver tap, with which a dull red bucket sat under it. "-and rags are in the bucket. Should you need anything else, use your immagination."

As Snape disappeared out of the room, Julie stuck out her tongue at Snape.

The nerve of that git! Who does he think he is, anyway? she thought angrily, filling out the bucket with water, preparing herself for a long night. As the sound of the pouring water echoed through the office, Julie took the opportunity to sneak and look for her ingredients.

"L...." she muttered as she strode down the long aisle, finally stopping at a dusty bottle with a peeling label that read 'Lace Weed'. Inside the jar was a large amount of white substance, that looked vaguely like cotton wool. It felt scaly to the touch though, and Julie shivered a little, popping her ingredients into a small, plastic bag which she had brought specially for this task.

Smiling contentedly to herself, Julie went down the aisle a little farther, and came to the beginning of the M's. It was a little hard to find the mithox grains, for the potions in the M section were arranged rather messily. After scanning through peeling labels without much sucess, she sighed and plodded back to the tap, and turned it off.

She soon began a long, long night, wiping away dust and rearranging potions.

After a good hour clearing out the dust, Julie found the jar with the label 'Mitho -- rains' in the 'X' section. The label was faded, with the middle portion of the word being unreadable, but Julie was quite certain that it was what she was looking for.

The substance in the jar was a disgusting black-orange, with grey spots. It had a curious, bumpy shape, and Julie just shook a few of the contents into her bag. No way was she going to touch those things!

"Hey Julie. Having fun?"

Julie saw Draco slumping comfortably next to the door ledge, his arms crossed, a smug smile on his face.

"You're still here?" Julie asked increduously, hoping that he did not just see her smuggle out some of Snape's ingredients.

"Yep," Draco said, running a hand through his hair. "Snape had some business to do, so he asked me to stay here and watch over you until he came back."

"Right," Julie said, trying to ignore him, as she went about with her work.

Draco walked over to her and scanned her handiwork.

"Not bad - you'll make a good housewife."

Julie stopped and for some strange reason, was affected by what he said.

"W-what?" she dared him to say more, as she shot daggers with her eyes.

Draco shrugged. "Just telling it like it is," he said. "You clean up well."

Julie had no idea what he was driving at, but she did not wish to know.

"Whatever. Scoot away will you? You're d-distracting."

________________________________________________________________

An agonising hour and a half later, Julie ran to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, where the threesome was, sitting against the sinks chatting.

"I'm back!"

"What took so long?" Ron demanded. "I thought detentions were usually an hour long? Did Snape inhumanly torture you?"

Julie laughed. "Well, he thinks he did, but I thought otherwise. I managed to sneak out two of the ingredients!"

She raised up her prize triumphantly in front of Ron's freckled face.

"Gross. What's that mouldy looking orange black thing?" Ron asked, wrinkling his nose as he poked the substance.

"Mithox grains," Julie replied casually, looking over at the potion, which had now changed into a charming violet. "You all already done the brewing for night three?"

"Yeah," Hermione told her. "Come on, let's all go back and get some sleep!"

____________________________________ end ___________________________________

Note: Sorry if that was a little draggy/boring. Lol. I'm kinda distracted because I'm trying to study. (: I'll be back online on Thursday!


Chapter 12: Brewing the Potion : Final Night
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Finally, the moment Julie had been waiting for.

She looked expectantly at her friends as they just exchanged worried, yet anticipating glances with each other.

Hermione was snuggly dressed in a cardigan and jeans, sitting cross-legged on the cold tiled floor of Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Ron and Harry, both leaning against each other, sported pullovers and slacks. There was a silence that hung in the air, and Julie could detect the various emotions : tension, wonder, excitement...

Julie herself was feeling overwhelmed, excited and ready to begin her new life as a perfect, more confident being.

She smiled contentedly to herself as she thought of how she could make Draco eat his words when she came up with a smart, witty comback to his teases, how she could smile smugly at Chris Reynolds when all the guys in the school started to fall for her, how she would be able to score O's for every single subject she was taking ...

She was soon lost in her own little world of daydreams when Ron put his hand in front of her face and waved vigorously.

"Jules? You still here on planet earth?"

Julie snapped out of her trance and grinned stupidly at Ron.

"Yup Ronnie," she replied, ruffling his hair affectionately. "I'm all ready and raring to finish up the last part of this spell."

Moaning Myrtle glided by from her stall to witness the final stage of all the 7 nights of hard work. The concoction had by now turned a happy, chirpy orange, and it was bubbling slightly under the gentle tug of the moonlight.

"Alright," said Hermione, taking the red leather-bound book from beside her, flipping over to the last page. "It says here we've got to add the last few ingredients..."

The five - including Myrtle - watched as Hermione began mutely measuring out the various herbs and queer looking substances, double-checking the amount before carefully adding them to the concotion in the cold, metallic cauldron.

Julie sat by her, nervously watching, as she took in deep breaths to steady herself. Every single ingredient seemed to take an eternity to fall into the potion, and her journey to freedom was closer and closer with each passing second.

Finally, Hermione read out the last part of the spell.

"It says here that the potion has to be brought into a room, and the brewer alone will stand with the concotion, and recite the following words. If anyone else is in the room when the spell takes place, disastrous effects would follow..."

"Even ghosts?" Myrtle asked questioningly.

Hermione scanned the text.

"It doesn't say, but I presume so," she replied calmly, before turning to Julie.

"You ready?"

"Definitely."

"Wait," Harry butted in, as all eyes riveted on him. He looked at Julie, his eyes full of concern and sincerity. "Jules, you sure about this?"

Julie looked at Harry. She had probably never seen him so serious before. It almost scared her.

Swallowing a gulp, and ignoring the feeling of anxiety and doubt tugging at her stomach, she nodded her head faintly.

"Alright. If you're sure." He stood up, and Ron, Hermione did as well. They all filed out of the room slowly, Hermione giving her a reassuring hug, while Ron and Harry smiled comfortingly.

"I'll see you outside, Julie," Myrtle told her, smiling as she floated out of the bathroom.

All alone in the cold, abandoned bathroom gave Julie chills. The dim moonlight flickered in from a lone window that oversaw the Forbidden Forest, and the cubicle doors swung gently on their creaking hinges when a gust of wind blew in.

With shaking fingers, Julie flipped over to the page where Hermione had left off.

Here goes nothing... she thought to herself, and placed her fingers below the words of the spell. Before she recited the words, she caught her reflection in the dusty bathroom mirrors.

Sighing, she walked towards the sink, and wiped away the dust, slowly revealing her face. She took in her deep hazel eyes and plain, boring old brown hair. Her little button nose, the smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose.

Goodbye old me... she thought, taking a last glance at herself before pacing back to the concoction in the centre of the bathroom.

"Taka impurites replacio..." she said, her wand raised and poised over the cauldron, just as the book instructed her.

Before she could even think, a bright light shot out from the cauldron, and hit her squarely in the chest, knocking her to her knees against the grey tiles, and an overwhelming pain surged through her body, taking control of every single bit of her. She tried to scream, but her mouth felt paralysed, unable to move, stiff as a board...

Falling hard against the floor, Julie felt her body be taken over by a strange sensation. Her body felt totally numb, paralysed, as though dead, yet still able to feel pain with every fibre of her being. She struggled to clench her fists, to move her feet, anything, in a bid to release some of the pain that she felt, but nothing seemed to obey her. She could feel tears whelling up in her hazel eyes, but she could not cry them out. A wave of desperation overtook her, and she felt like something inside her was being opened, something was being released...

What's happening...? she thought desperately, and soon, she felt like something was coming out of her... With a final burst of excruciating pain, a bright light encompassed her, enveloping her in its brilliant glare.

Panic seized her, and her eyes widenned in absolute shock. If she had her senses, she would have screamed loud enough to shatter the mirrors.

Immediately, her senses were dulled by a pleasurable sensation, as though she were floating on air. She felt like she was slowly being lifted up, being caressed by a cool wind, and finally, was settled down gently on the ground. It was such a beautiful experience, like one she had never known could exist in the world. Like she was being embraced by angels...

When she finally opened her eyes, she screamed with shock.

In front of her was an exact copy of her...

Except well, this exact copy had a headful of lush red hair, absolutely perfect, and sparkling grey eyes. There was a certain charismatic presence to her, that made people want to get close to her and know more about her.

She was a little shorter than Julie herself, with a much curvier figure and more well-toned lips and almond eyes.

She was beautiful.

"W-what are you?" she stammered, as she struggled to get to her feet. Looking down at herself, she could feel no change. She still stammered, she still had the same body, the same thinking, the same everything!

Frustration overwhelmed her, and she just stared at the girl before her, who had a sweet, serene smile.

"I'm Joelle," was her sweet, melodious reply.

____________________________________________________ end ___________________________________________________

Note: Sorry about the long wait! Hope you all enjoyed the chapter! (: I initially had a different plot, but I had this idea instead. It sounded more... exciting, so here it goes!


Chapter 13: Nothingness
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Nothing was registering in Julie’s mind.

Who on earth was she? Why did she have Julie’s face? Why was everything about her identical to Julie?

“Alright, what just happened?” she asked the figure in front of her. “Where on earth did you pop up from?”

There was a devious glint in Joelle’s eyes as she paced in front of Julie, who was too weak to stand. All she could do was sprawl helplessly on the cold tiles, watching herself strut along smugly.

“Let me explain, dear Julie,” she began slowly, the sides of her mouth curling in an evil grin. “I’m well… a part of you. Or I used to be.”

“I don’t understand…”

“Shut up and let me finish,” sneered Joelle rudely, before regaining her normal composure.

She continued walking, staring ahead thoughtfully, as though taking in every single image in its exact detail.

“Yes… I’ve always seen all this from behind my wall, but I never had the chance to feel it for myself,” Joelle murmured thoughtfully as she fingered the cubicle doors, her sneakers making crunching sounds with the gravel under her feet.

Julie remained silent, trying to regain her strength, but it was useless. She felt like limp and lifeless, a rag doll… Confusion kept swimming in her mind, she kept trying to piece the puzzle together, but the pieces all did not fit ..

“Well. I’m a part of you, like I said before. I’m the more… how should I say? Hmmm… the more rebellious side of you, I suppose. I’ve been kept deep within you for the last 16 or so years, never having a chance to reveal who I was…”

Joelle kept talking, as though trying to recall some horrible memory, sneering and snarling every now and then. Her voice grew louder and angrier with each recollection, and all Julie could do was lay down there and listen, drinking in every word that Joelle spat out.

“It was always Miss I-have-zero-confidence-Goody-Two-Shoes who appeared to the world. Where was my chance?” Joelle paused, frowning angrily as she squatted down next to Julie. “Why couldn’t you have more confidence in yourself? Why were you always so concerned with other people’s opinions? Why were you such a loser?!”

Julie glared at Joelle, the anger in her slowly rising. So Joelle was a part of her. Joelle was a part of her that she never dared show people…

Instantly, Joelle’s face started to change from rage to a picture of absolute calm and kindness. She looked into Julie’s eyes, the same hazel eyes boring into her soul.

“But all that is going to change from now on,” Joelle said melodiously, her voice having a seemingly tranquil effect. “From now on, all the people will see Joelle Chance, the new, improved version of Julie Chance.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Julie asked uncertainly, fear starting to worm its way up from the depths of her stomach.

Joelle gave her a sultry stare.

“I’m sure you’re not that stupid, Jules. I’ll take your place in this world. When you concocted that spell you gave me your life essence. You gave me a chance to survive. So now, with your own life essence gone, you’re just a floating figure. Nothing. You’re like a ghost, except that you’re very much alive. For now.”

“What?”

Julie’s voice caught in her throat, and she felt panic start to seize her. She had to do something to stop this madness, but what?

“I’m saying that you’re going to die in well… about a week or so? Your life essence is with me, remember?” Joelle said smugly, disposing of what was left of the potion with a flick of her wand. “You’ll just be waiting for your doom, and nobody can see you. Only me.”

Julie was by now so fearful and tense that she was having difficulty breathing. Every single word she wanted to say seemed contained in her throat, and she felt tears pricking the back of her eyes, desperation overwhelming and consuming her…

“See ya,” Joelle said, smoothing her hair in the cracked mirrors as she spun on her heel to leave. “Have a nice life. Don’t worry, I’ll live out your life well enough, better than you have ever lived it.”

Julie watched, helpless, as Joelle strutted off, her long red hair trailing behind her gracefully.

This cannot be happening to me…

_________________________________________________________


After a few moments, Julie slowly felt herself gain some strength, and she managed to stand up, before falling to her feet again.

As she did, she saw Myrtle glide back in, looking slightly in awe as she placed herself gracefully on the sinks.

Julie was happy to see her friend, and tried to catch Myrtle’s attention.

“Myrtle!” she yelled out, as loud as her lungs would let her. “I’m here! It’s me, Julie!”

She looked at her friend hopefully, but there was no signs of recognition on Myrtle’s gentle and thoughtful face.

“Myrtle? Myrtle!” Julie cried out desperately, flailing her arms about to catch Myrtle’s attention.

She can’t hear me nor see me… she thought, defeated as she dropped her arms to her side. The truth hit her like a great weight, and she staggered slightly. She felt like crying, running into someone’s embrace, to be able to feel like everything was going to be alright…

She just sat on the floor for awhile more, trying to calm herself, to clear her thoughts. When the glimmers of daylight started to shine into the room, Julie found that she had enough strength to stand up and walk.

She had to face reality. Her life was over. And all because she wanted to change the way that she was…

With a defeated sigh, she walked towards the bathroom door, and automatically reached out her hand to open it. To her surprise, she could not feel the door knob! Her hand just swished past it as though it weren’t there.

Of course you ding-dong, you’re a ghostly thing now… she told herself sadly.

Regret filled her, and she felt herself wanting to turn back time, to undo everything that she had ever started. Why hadn’t she listened to Harry’s advice? Why had she gone ahead with her own stupid idea?

It’s too late for anything now… she thought, as she walked through the door, feeling a sense of exhilaration at experiencing what Myrtle probably experienced every day.

She dragged herself to the great hall, to find Joelle, and try to clean up this mess that she had created.

She didn’t want to die. Not yet.

______________________________________________________________


Julie looked at the familiar corridors in a new light. Now that she wasn’t flesh and blood any longer, she felt rather refreshed and happy to be actually walking.

As a ghost, she did not have the pressure of behaving in a certain way, because she knew that no one could see her anyway. She felt relaxed, she felt free.

Free at last. Free from the bondage that she attached herself to in the form of people’s opinions.

As she walked down the corridors, a new realization filled her.

She never had a chance to be herself with people. She couldn’t be the way that she really was, the fun, energetic person. In the world’s eyes, she was a normal, everyday girl, shy, insecure, overly sensitive.

But in truth, she was but an idea of what she thought the world wanted. What people wanted.

She was never herself.

She soon felt herself longing to be herself again, to be able to try to change her way of life, to be able to express herself and find her true self deep within all the copies of people she tried to become.

As she neared the great hall, she felt herself be overwhelmed again with the same old fear she went through everyday of walking into a room with other people staring at her, opinions they would form of her…

But today, it was different. They couldn’t see her.

Upon realizing that, Julie felt like a huge weight was lifted off her chest. She was able to stand up more straight now, and she smiled a little to herself as she walked into the great hall.



Walking over to the Gryffindor’s table, she spotted herself, and her friends at one corner of the table.

She – Joelle – was being surrounded by a huge crowd of people, mainly boys from the other houses.

Joelle was cracking a joke about bananas, which sent the crowd of people into a laughing frenzy.

I never was able to do that no matter how hard I tried… Julie found herself thinking forlornly, as she sat on the table top watching the admiring gazes of the boys nearby.

“Man Julie, I never knew you were so humorous,” chuckled a boy nearby whom Julie didn’t recognize.

Joelle’s eyes flickered over to him, and she gave him a coquettish smile.

“I always have been,” she said with a grin. “Oh, and guys, call me Joelle from now on, alright? I think it suits my character a little more…”

Julie felt like slamming the apple pie next to her into Joelle’s face.

That’s my life, you thief! she wanted to shout. Go get your own!

Suddenly, she felt Joelle’s eyes fall on her, and there was a look of horror and surprise.

Julie felt herself smile smugly.

Joelle quickly gained her normal composure, and shooting Julie a dirty look from the corner of her eyes, she stood up.

“Come on people, that’s enough jokes for today. We’ve got to get to class before McGonagall throws a fit,” she announced pompously.

The crowd promptly dispersed, and Julie heard the guy next to her telling his buddy.

“Man, I don’t know what got into Julie Chance, but I like what’s happened to her!”

--------------------------------------------- end --------------------------------------------------

Note: Sorry about the long delay, but here’s a nice, long chapter for you guys to read over (:


Chapter 14: Spider
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and it's all in how you mix the two
and it starts just where the light exists
it's a feeling that you cannot miss
and it burns a hole through everyone that feels it

The Used | Blue and Yellow
----------------------------------------------------------------------


Over the next few days, Julie could just watch helplessly over her stolen body, feeling twinges of hatred and regret as she watched how alive and happy Joelle was.

I could have had that life too... she thought sadly, as she watched from her perch on the Gryffindor table in the great hall. But I just didn't make full use of it.

As time slowly ticked by, each beginning of a brand new day only brought Julie closer and closer to her impending death. However, as she glided after Joelle during classes, she discovered truths about people, about her friends, and about herself. Truths that she had failed to see, even though it was right before her eyes all this while.

Although Joelle had taken away her life, her everything, Julie still felt vestiges of gratitude toward this other part of her. Tailing Joelle around Hogwarts and watching how she carried herself and spoke to people gave Julie new insight and understanding.

For so long, Julie had placed the blame on other people for her self-consciousness. They were the root of her problems, they made her feel insecure and unsure of herself. But when she saw the situation from this point of view, things looked very much different than what she thought it was.

In fact, it was entirely her fault, her actions, her thinking, that put enclosed her in her own world of despair and reserve. It was as though it were her who locked herself up in a jail cell with her own key in her hand. She had the answer to her problems all along, she had the solution to break out of her shell, but she never knew it. She never thought to do it.

It was potions now, and Julie floated into the damp classroom after Joelle and her friends, watching as they sat down near the back of the classroom, laughing at a joke which Joelle just told. She sat on an abandoned table at the other side of the classroom, and crossed her legs neatly, watching silently from the sidelines.

Joelle had already become accustomed to seeing Julie daily around her, but she made no attempt to acknowledge her presence.

After all, she's about to vanish soon. I should at least grant her some opportunity to see how well I'm running her life!

With a slight sigh and little emotion in her dulled hazel eyes, Julie gazed longingly at Harry, Ron, and Hermione, wishing that she could once again be around them, that she would be able to feel the warmth and security of having such wonderful friends.

I miss you guys, Julie thought feebly, as the threesome talked animatedly amongst themselves, while Joelle was hanging around the more 'popular crowd'. Something about their conversation seemed different, strange even. Feeling tugs of curiosity, Julie arose from her spot and glided over to the group, who was seated at the far left of the room.

It had already been five days since she was separated from her flesh, and Julie had since grown used to her ghostly ways, submitting entirely to her fate. After all, it was all her fault that she had ended up this way.

If I could turn back time, I'd never want to try that spell again, Julie thought fiercely, as she hovered near the group, who was talking in hushed tones, far from the groups of other students. It was evident that they did not want to be heard.

"I tell you, there's something up with Julie," Ron was whispering fervently. "I know the Perfection spell was supposed to change her, but was it supposed to totally transform her? I mean, she's lost all her niceness and cheerfulness. It's as though she - she became somebody else."

"I agree," Harry said, his face contorted with concentration and a sense of seriousness. "Do you think the spell went awry or something? As in, maybe it kinda backfired?"

Hermione looked thoughtful, wrinkling her nose as though this mere action would bring forth the answer.

"Possible," she said slowly. "Julie seems... different. She's no longer who she used to be. And do you remember when she first emerged from the bathroom after working the spell? She already looked and acted different. There was something missing in her eyes..."

"Yeah," said Ron dully. "I kinda miss the old Julie. Insecure and unstable as she was, she really was a great friend. She truly cared about everybody, and she had a kind heart."

Her friends' words brought a sudden sadness to Julie as she observed their faces from nearby. How she longed to embrace her friends once more, to hear Ron assure her that everything would be alright, to have Hermione lecture her again on her unfinished homework, to hear Harry gloat about his latest win at the Quidditch games...

"Agreed," said Harry, propping his head with his arms. "I guess that's what you loved about her, isn't it?"

Julie glanced at Ron, just in time to see his face take on a pinkish glow.

"I suppose," Ron mumbled. "What are you trying to imply, Harry?"

Hermione snorted. "I thought it was rather obvious Ron!" she said rather loudly, before realizing her mistake and returning back to her hushed voice. "You obviously have more than friend-kind of love and care for Julie."

Julie could feel a warm glow spreading across the depths of her stomach. Ron like her? Impossible. How could Ron love someone so imperfect? So insecure? So messed up? So boring?

She longed to hear Ron's reply to Hermione, but before he could, the door to the classroom burst open, and the greasy-haired one entered with long, prominent steps.

Sighing, Julie watched as her friends prepared for lessons, the warm glow still in her stomach as she looked at Ron, smiling slightly.

____________________________________________

All throughout Snape's monotonous lecture, Julie tuned out to think. Leaning comfortably against a cold stone wall, she gazed at the ceiling, counting the cracks as she tried to reflect about everything she had learnt the past few days.

It was me all along... she mused thoughtfully. It was me who caged myself in, letting people's opinions get to me.

A lone spider crept from a crack in the ceiling and gracefully paced toward its web with its thread-like legs.

People aren't so bad, really, she continued, letting out a sigh as she watched the spider's lonely journey toward its destination. I just judged them before I knew them.

As the spider crept on, it stumbled upon a jagged piece of rock that was protruding from the ceiling, and Julie watched, fascinated, as the spider kept on moving, despite the extra hurdle, to get to its glistenning web at the other end of the room.

And who cares if I have an awful stammer? I've got some better attributes that others don't have!

The spider kept on going, and soon, it reached its home within seconds. However, its moment of triumph was shattered when its glorious web, spun so delicately and exquisitely, was torn apart by a mischevious, and evidently bored Slytherin student, whose spell tore a hole clean through the result of the spider's hard work while Snape was not looking.

Julie felt a pang of sadness for this poor creature, who had to spin its web all over again.

However, the spider immediately went to work trying to mend its handiwork. Carefully making its way across the hole in the threads, it slowly set itself to repair what had been broken before.

While watching the spider, Julie suddenly was hit with a new realization. Who knew that a spider was capable of teaching you new things?

She had to be like that spider. She had to keep going on, getting across every obstacle, every obstruction, no matter how hard the circumstances.

However, would she be given the chance to keep fighting on? Could she get her life back?
__________________________________________________

Later as the weary students filed into the great hall for dinner, Julie went to sit by her friends again.

"What a monster truckload of assignments!" Ron was groaning as he helped himself to mashed potato. "I tell you, Snape's mad! He should be sued!"

"Oh forget Snape for a moment, will you?" Hermione snapped. "What are we going to do about Julie?"

Julie gazed about the great hall, trying to catch a glimpse of Joelle. She found her eventually at the center of attention in the middle of the Gryffindor table.

"You're right," Harry said grudgingly. "We've got to reverse the spell. Julie's becoming all snooty and obnoxious. I can't take it! It's like having a resident Malfoy!"

Julie wanted to laugh. Tell me about it!

Hermione nodded. "That's why I tried looking through that spell book yesterday night. Apparently there's a way to reverse this insanity..."

_________________________ end _________________________

Note: Sorry about the long wait again! School's been a mess lately :| Hope you all liked the chapter! It's kind of deep if you actually look at it proper. The week's events kind of made me think a lot.



Chapter 15: Alesti
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Reverse?

Julie's ears plucked up immediately when she heard Hermione's words. Hope rushed through her veins, causing her to feel light-headed as she quickly scooted closer to hear more.

"Reverse?" Harry asked, disbelieved.

Hermione nodded her head. "That's right," she said, scrunching up her face in a bid to remember certain details. "All we've got to do is whip up a potion before the end of a week since her transformation, and somehow or another make her drink it."

"It just might work," said Ron, perking up slightly. He paused for a moment to peer across the table at Joelle, who was looking more ravishing than usual, surrounded as usual by her little peer group, made up of the most popular students at school.

Julie looked in Joelle's direction as well, and surprisingly, did not feel dejected or affected in any way upon seeing herself hang around the 'cool crowd'. It just did not matter anymore.

All throughout the week she had learned how it did not matter who you hung out with. As long as they were true and loyal, they were good friends. Who cares if they were perhaps the outcasts or just nobodys in school? What is the use if you manage to befriend the 'cool' people, but in the end still never experienced the value of true friendship?

Upon realizing the transformation in her feelings toward certain things, Julie managed to smile. A smile that actually truly expressed how she felt inside.

She was finally free from the chains that bound her in the past.

__________________________________________________________

"You won't believe who Julie is going out with!" Ron snorted as he joined Harry and Hermione later in the common room. It was the end of another long day, signalling the coming of the 6th day since Julie tried the spell.

She sat on the floor, leaning against the squashy armchair near the crackling flames of the fireplace. The embers warmed her, although her own skin felt cold to the touch. Julie watched as Hermione taught Harry certain aspects of Charms, feeling pangs of loss. How she missed doing homework with her friends. Friends that really cared for her.

"Who?" Hermione asked interestedly, setting aside her quill as she gazed at Ron's livid face.

"The ferret," was Ron's simple, yet curt reply. "Something's definitely wrong with her!"

"Malfoy?" questioned Harry, pushing his work to one side. "Ugh. What on earth does she see in him?"

"Beats me," Ron replied glumly, plopping himself down next to the invisible Julie. Julie's face glowed with warmth as she recalled what Hermione had said the previous day. Since that moment, she had looked at Ron in a different light.

"Fret not, people," Hermione declared, digging into her robes, before pulling out a sheet of crumpled paper. Smoothing it gently, she placed the wrinkled object on the table, before smiling at her friends' curious faces.

"What is it?" asked Ron, poking it with his index finger.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ron, it's a piece of paper. Why are you jabbing it?"

Ron shrugged.

"So what is it supposed to be?" Harry pressed on, studying the scrawly writing, his face twisted into a look of concentration.

"A potion," Hermione stated matter-of-factly. "To bring Julie back."

Julie listenned intently as Hermione described the whole procedure to her bewildered friends.

"It's quite a simple spell really," said Hermione, pointing to the various ingredients in her list. "It'll take less than an hour to make."

Julie could hardly believe her ears. She could see the door to freedom just in front of her, but something seemed to be hindering the way there... She couldn't reach out to grasp it.

"Hi," came a hushed, soothing voice from behind her.

Instinctively, Julie turned around, although she very well knew that the voice could not possibly be talking to her. She was a vanishing ghostly form, reaching the point where she would be completely gone, and yet nobody would know that she would cease to exist.

To her amazement, and somewhat shock, a beautiful girl with long flowing blonde hair and eyes of honey hovered behind her. She wore a simple white frock, and it was as though her pale, opaque skin was glowing with an angelic tinge.

"A-are you talking to me?" was Julie's bewildered reply.

The girl nodded her head knowingly, and came to a rest beside her.

"How can you see me? I thought nobody could, except Joelle," she asked curiously, a little afraid by this mystical being. She was surprised at her confidence, and felt relieved to hear her stammering disappear.

The girl smiled gently as she touched Julie's brown hair in smooth, caressing strokes. A sudden peace and tranquility filled her, and Julie could not help but smile slightly.

"My name is Alesti," she said, her voice melodious and warm. "In Greek, it means 'truthful'. And that's what I'm going to be with you. I'm going to tell you the truth about everything."

____________________________ end ______________________________


Chapter 16: The Truth Will Set You Free
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"What do you mean?" Julie asked, as the lights in the common room went out, the tired students filing back into their dormitories for their well-deserved rest. Soon, it was just her and the blonde girl sitting next to each other near the dwindling fire.

There was a moment of silence as Alesti stood up, running her fingers over the arm chair before taking in her surroundings.

"It's been so long since I've last been here," she mused thoughtfully. "You're the first person to have tried the perfection spell in the last decade or so."

"How would you know?" Julie could not help but ask.

Alesti smiled.

"I should know," she began, her jovial eyes boring into Julie. "I was the last one to ever try, and apparently I haven't been sucessful. All the potion did for me was to convert me into this ghostly form, and I was doomed to be like this forever."

Forever? Julie felt pangs of sadness for this beautiful girl. A sudden panic gripped her throat. What if this were to happen to her as well?

"You tried the perfection spell?" Julie inquired curiously. "But you seem already so... happy and carefree. Why did you want to work the potion?"

A little of Alesti's cheerfulness seemed to evaporate, but she regained her normal composure and smiled at Julie, sitting down next to her once more.

"Yes, I have come to realize such. When I was still alive, I thought that I was not beautiful enough, not intelligent enough, not perfect enough."

Silence filled the common room, and the only noise came from the crackling of the fire.

Alesti cast her mournful crystal blue eyes on Julie. "It's really true the saying - that you'll never know what you have until it's gone. I finally realized the reality behind that phrase when I lost my body, my life. Once I became this way, I was vexed and miserable. But all this time while I'm this form, I was able to see how beautiful I truly was. I did not have to be perfect. It was impossible to be perfect in such an imperfect world."

"That's what I'm trying to tell you Julie. You aimed to be perfect so much that you completely lost all the elements of being human. Being human, you are liable to be imperfect, yet still possessing of great abilities."

"You wanted to become somebody else to fit in. You set your sights onto being popular so much, that you failed to really enjoy your life."

There was another long silence as Alesti paused to let Julie absorb all she had said. Julie felt a lingering sadness in knowing that what Alesti had said was right. She had pursued things that she should not have put so much emphasis on, and did not really grasp true happiness. She tried to become somebody else.

"People tend to see things from different angles. When you look at yourself, it's quite common that people always want more than what they have been given. However, if you are willing to take a step back and see the big picture, you will truly know how blessed you already are in your own special way."

"People are created different for a reason, Julie. We can't all be exact photocopies of other people. How interesting would that be, having friends who are all the same? Everyone is blessed in their own unique and special way, and no two people are ever alike."

Alesti paused once more, and glanced into the fire, her thin lips curling into a slight smile as she put her head on her arms, as though enjoying the warmth the fire brought.

"Would you like to know why you stammer, Julie?" she asked suddenly, waking Julie from her trance as she pondered over Alesti's words.

Nodding her head slightly, Julie focused on Alesti, and she felt herself being truly enlightenned. She felt free, and finally realized the meaning behind the saying, 'The truth will set you free'. She no longer felt pulled down, burdened, weighed down.

"It's because of your lack of confidence, my friend," was Alesti's sonorous response. "You have no faith in yourself. As a result, you are very self-conscious and start becoming nervous. If you could just be more sure of yourself, you'll be sure to be able to speak fluently."

Confidence... Faith...

The puzzle was starting to piece itself together, and Julie could feel herself agreeing with Alesti. She was right. Confidence was the key that she had been holding all along, the key that unlocked her prison. She had lost that key for years, and never was able to experience freedom, the kind of freedom others had outside their own cells.

"And did you know that the perfection spell almost went right for you, but you added in a wrong ingredient?" Alesti continued, a sudden cool breeze causing her hair to billow gently in its current.

A wrong ingredient? Julie brought her memories back to the brewing of the potion, back to when she had to break into Snape's stores...

"The Mithox grains," she whispered suddenly, as it all came back to her, how the label on the bottle was worn away...

All her hard work came to nought just because of her tardiness.

Julie could feel the onslaught of tears at the back of her eyes. However hard she tried to resist them, they were still threatenning to spill over, showing her weakness, showing her emotions...

All these years I've been so eluded by myself...

A single tear squeezed its way out of her hazel eyes, trickling down her cheek before sliding down her jaw and onto her neck.

All this time I never saw the truth...

Another tear followed the tracks of the first, and it was later joined by another, and another...

Alesti pulled the sobbing Julie into her embrace, and Julie just let the tears go. In her sadness, Julie could hear Alesti singing a song she had heard so very long ago.


That's not the beginning of the end
That's the return to yourself
The return to innocence
Love - Devotion
Feeling - Emotion
Love - Devotion
Feeling - Emotion
Don't be afraid to be weak
Don't be too proud to be strong
Just look into your heart my friend
That will be the return to yourself
The return to innocence
If you want, then start to laugh
If you must, then start to cry
Be yourself don't hide
Just believe in destiny
Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and use the chance
To return to innocence
That's not the beginning of the end
That's the return to yourself
The return to innocence
Don't care what people say
Follow just your own way Follow just your own way
Don't give up, don't give up
To return, to return to innocence.
If you want then laugh
If you must then cry
Be yourself don't hide
Just believe in destiny.




After a long while, Julie finally released herself from Alesti's arms, and smiled gratefully at her.

"Thanks," she said sincerely, drying her eyes against her robes. "It feels great to talk to you."

"It's no problem," Alesti said, smiling as she stood up.

But there was one thing that puzzled Julie. She took the opportunity to ask.

"But Alesti, how could you have known all this about me?"

"I can tell..." she said faintly, slowly walking away. "I know everything about everyone here in Hogwarts."

With a slight wave, Alesti began walking towards the common room portrait hole. The first glimmers of dawn were breaking through the windows of the Gryffindor tower, casting light where shadows once fell.

"Wait! Where are you going?" Julie called after her. Being with Alesti for so long, Julie could really feel like she had created a bond between them, a special kind of unbreakable bond...

All Alesti did was to smile faintly, and Julie could see that she was beginning to fade away.

"Just remember, always be yourself..."

Her haunting voice echoed in Julie's ears as Alesti slowly faded, every part of her blending into the surroundings, and the last thing Julie saw before she was gone, was her jovial, carefree smile.

_______________________end________________________

Note: Hope you all liked it! (: The song lyrics used in this chapter was entitled 'Return to Innocence' by Enigma ft. Enya.
_



Chapter 17: You Can See Me..?
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One more day to go... Julie thought with a faint smile, as she stood by the large window of the Gryffindor tower, watching the deep hues paint the forest and lake with its majestic colors.

I should probably enjoy watching the scenery while I still can.

The early morning's stillness was soon penetrated with the light chirping of sparrows, and the chitter of crickets dimmed away slowly. She sat on the ledge of the window, allowing the cool morning breeze sweep across her face, caressing her complexion, carrying away all her troubles to wherever the wind felt like going.

At this moment of time, the world seemed to piece together just right, everything felt so perfect and harmonious. Julie felt a longing to be able to experience this amazing display of nature at its best more, and deeply regretted not noticing these beautiful blessings while she was still alive.

Her thoughts were interrupted when a sudden movement came from the staircase leading to the boys' dormitories.

Turning her head slowly, Julie was rather surprised to see a neatly-dressed Ron walking down, his face forlorn, hands in his pockets. His eyes were cast downwards, as though not willing to see the world face-to-face.

Suddenly, he stopped and stared in Julie's direction, and Julie raised an eyebrow, gazing around her and wondering what on earth had caught Ron's ardent attention.

"Julie - I mean, Joelle? What on earth are you doing up so early? I thought you always liked to sleep in?" he asked, walking closer in Julie's direction.

Confused, Julie looked around and wondered what Ron was talking about. Joelle was not here at all. There was nobody in the common room except for him.

Cocking his head to one side, Ron stopped right in front of Julie, who by now did not dare to breathe. Ron raised his arm and placed it gently on Julie's shoulder, looking into her eyes intently.

"Julie?"

Julie's eyes widenned in utmost shock when she realized that she could feel Ron, and that Ron could see her.

"You can see me?" she squeaked breathlessly, her voice barely above a whisper.

Ron's face twisted into a look of confusion.

" 'course I can see you," he stated matter-of-factly. "What did you think I was, blind?"

Happiness engulfed Julie like she had never imagined and she felt tears of joy escaping the sides of her eyes. After 6 long days of loneliness of talking to herself, someone could actually see her, and speak with her! She smiled a little at Ron's words, and overwhelmed by the jubilation that she felt, leapt off the stone ledge and right into Ron's arms, surprising him.

"That's great," she mumbled into Ron's robes, her voice lost through the fibres. "I thought I would never be able to see you again, Ronnie."

Ron laughed and Julie felt his arms on the small of her back. "And I never thought I'd hear you call me that." His voice was warm and made Julie feel secure and sure of herself.

As Julie pulled out of Ron's embrace, she hastily wiped off the tears from her face.

"You okay? Why are you crying? And did you do something to yourself? You look... different," Ron observed curiously.

Julie smiled and tried to regain her composure.

"I'm great, now that you can see me again! Ron, that perfection spell almost ruined me! No one could see me, I was just floating around watching this other girl Joelle take over my life! She stole my body and left me as this ghostly-form, and no one could hear me nor see me and - "

"Hold it, hold it!" Ron declared, raising his hands in defence from the overflow of words coming from Julie's lips. "You're starting to ramble. Alright, go slowly this time and tell me what happened alright? You say something happened during the spell?"

Taking a deep breath, Julie explained all that had happened after the spell took place, and that the person whom he always saw every morning the last 6 days had not, in fact, been really her. She watched as Ron's eyes widenned with every word, and he looked very taken aback by all that she said.

After Julie finished her recollections, Ron sat down on the steps leading to the common room, his fiery red hair swept messily across his forehead.

"Dang, I should have realized it sooner," he mumbled. "How stupid was I not to have noticed such a big change in my best friend and not suspect anything..."

"Come on, Ron, you couldn't have known that," Julie said comfortingly, putting an arm around Ron. "But what I'd like to know now is that how come you can see me now?"

Ron grinned. "Maybe it's because Harry, Hermione and I did a reversal potion yesterday?"

"You did?" Julie asked. "But it wouldn't have worked, because I added a wrong ingredient to the spell."

"Really? Well... then you've got me stumped," Ron said, running his hand through his hair. "But it's good that you're back, ole buddy!"

Before Julie could reply, she heard a familiar shriek coming from the staircase to the girls' dormitories.


"Julie?!"

Upon hearing the sudden shriek, Julie and Ron turned around to see a horrified looking Joelle. She was dressed in a pink tank top that she had obviously slept in, as it was wrinkled and strewn off her shoulder in a sluggish way. Her long, navy blue pyjama pants kept her toned legs out of view, and her long red hair was untied, allowed to caress her pale shoulders.

Ron looked very amused to see two girls who looked exactly identical, although Joelle was evidently the prettier of the two, exuding confidence and sporting a headful of lush red hair.

"Alright Joelle, we both know the truth now, so why don't you just save us a hell lot of problems and get back into her body already?" Ron snapped, glaring at the person who had stolen his best friend's life away forcibily from her.

There was a fiery glow in Joelle's sparkly eyes as she glared at Ron and Julie.

"Make me."

Her voice was low and harsh, almost threatening. Her eyes were narrowed into dangerous slits as she pulled out her wand from her back pocket. She resembled an animal, a fierce, protective tigress somehow.

"I'm not going back into you, Julie. You won't give me a chance to shine. And anyway, I love running my own life!" she snarled, as Ron raised out his own wand in retaliation.

"Stupe-"

Before Ron could finish his incantation, Joelle dropped her wand and doubled over, rolling on the cement floor, snarling and shrieking as she went, in obvious pain. Her eyes were shut with a painful intensity, and her flaming red hair was thrown all over her face, matted down with sweat.

"Joelle...?" Julie ventured, going closer to the rolling girl on the carpeted floor uncertainly. Slowly, she raised an arm to help Joelle to her feet. Joelle's terrifying screeches gave Julie goosebumps, and she felt her heart go out to this girl who was in so much pain.

"Jules, don't get too close!" Ron warned, his wand still raised just in case. "She might try something funny!"

Before Julie could digest Ron's words fully, Joelle stopped rolling, pausing to catch her breath and tried to grasp her wrist, gasping, trying to stand.

"Hurts... so much... heart hurts..." Joelle whimpered, clutching her chest with agonized cries.

Julie tried to catch hold of Joelle's flailing arms. "Hush now," she coaxed quietly. "It'll be alright, just take my hand."


Joelle tried to make a grab for Julie's arms, and gasping for breath, she managed to grip Julie's right arm, trembling as she went.

Just as their hands made contact, a strong current flowed through Julie's body, and Joelle screeched even louder, rolling into a ball, as though trying to form a protective shield about her, keeping away all the pain, the hurt.

Julie wanted to yell out, but she could hardly find her voice. All that came out was a croak as she struggled to pull away from Joelle, who was shaking violently, trembling as though her entire life counted on it.

She could see Joelle starting to fade away, just as Alesti did. First her legs blended into the surroundings, dissipating into nothingness, then her lower body, then the upper, and her arms... Joelle grew limp as her eyes closed in a peaceful, though somewhat pained slumber, before finally dissolving away.

"I'm sorry, Julie..."

Joelle's melodious voice rang in Julie's ears as Julie was overcome by a sudden lethargy, and nausea, sinking to her knees in dizzyness, her body making contact with the cold cement floor, submitting to the darkness. All she saw before her vision was totally gone was Ron running over to her, and his worried voice replacing Joelle's.

"Everything's going to be alright, Jules..."

____________________ end ________________________



Chapter 18: Alesti's Letter
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"I can't believe we didn't realise it! I mean, how daft could we have been?"

The shrill tones of a female voice slowly stirred Julie to consciousness.

"Yeah. Good thing we tried out that reversal spell huh?"

Turning her head slightly, Julie opened an eye drowsily, feeling sleep trying to tug her eyelids back down again.

"Jules! She's coming to!"

As color and light slowly filled Julie's once darkenned world, she heard the scuttling of feet as a thermometer was quickly shoved into her mouth, catching her off-guard as she squirmed slightly, the cold metal of the thermometer rubbing against the warmth of her tongue.

"Now now, dear, stop moving about. I've got to get a good reading," said a good-natured voice, her wrinkled fingers resting on Julie's shoulder gently.

Her vision slowly cleared, and the first thing she saw was the smiling faces of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Another familiar face was present as well, and Julie noted the fine etching of wrinkles across his forehead, the long silver beard, and the half-moon spectacles resting snugly on the bridge of a prominent nose.

"Professor Dumbledore, sir," she greeted weakly, the thermometer still in her mouth.

Dumbledore nodded and smiled warmly.

"Don't speak as of yet, Miss Chance. Madam Pomfrey still needs a temperature reading," he said in his jovial tone of voice.

As though on cue, the thermometer was pulled out of Julie's mouth, and Madam Pomfrey gave a small grunt of approval.

"She's alright, sir. No damage done," she told the smiling man who stood behind the students.

Dumbledore smiled and thanked the old woman, and she walked off, closing the door to the hospital beds behind her.

"Do you feel alright, Miss Chance?" he asked gently, seating himself down in the chair next to Julie, who was trying to sit up. Upon seeing her difficulty, Ron reached to help her. Julie flashed him a grateful smile.

"Yes, quite. Thanks for asking, sir," she replied. "But what happened?"

Dumbledore let out a small chuckle and whipped out a book of some sort, with a polished light green cover and bold, gold lettering that read 'Hogwarts Yearbook 1994'. He flicked through the book with his index finger and finally, with a triumphant 'ah', stopped at a particular page.

Julie gave him a quizzical look and wondered what was going on. Dumbledore just smiled and passed the book into her hands, and Julie found herself looking through a long list of names and faces.

"What is this about, sir?" Julie managed to ask uncertainly.

Dumbledore just nodded, gesturing for her to look through every single photograph in the page. Frowning slightly, and feeling very puzzled, Julie just did as she was told.

Dhovar, June... Dirby, Mackenzie... Doherty, Vincent...

Julie mentally scanned through the long list of names, noticing the small, yet dignified print of the Hufflepuff logo at the very top of the page. Suddenly, a familiar name and face caught her eye.

Dunn, Alestine.

Eyes widenning in shock, Julie brought the book closer to her face and observed the smiling face before her.

Alesti.

How could she not recognize the same warm honey eyes, that beautiful smile, the long flowing blonde hair, the smattering of freckles across the bridge of her little button nose?

"I see you've found our delightful Miss Dunn then?" Dumbledore asked pleasantly while Hermione, Ron, and Harry squeezed around Julie to take a look at what was going on.

"Yes, but how did you know, sir...?"

Dumbledore chuckled. "That's for me to know, and you to find out, my dear. But I'd like to tell you someting about Alestine Dunn, would you like to listen?"

Julie nodded her head while her friends exchanged curious glances.

"Just about a decade ago, Alestine Dunn, or more commonly known as Alesti, was a student here at Hogwarts. She was very beautiful, very talented, and certainly very popular. She was a prefect from Hufflepuff house, and she would have been going on to receive her Head Girl title, if she hadn't tried something very silly."

Julie felt a little tugging of guilt at her heart, and she already had vague notions of where this story was headed.

"Alesti already had everything going for her. But then something happened that challenged her to change the way that she was. A boy named Vincent Doherty."

Julie looked back at the yearbook and saw the snobbish-looking boy next to Alesti's picture. He had an upturned nose and untidy black hair.

"Mr. Doherty didn't quite return Miss Dunn's affection, I'm quite afraid. He had his attention focused on this Ravenclaw girl, and Miss Dunn's perception of herself changed. In the mirror, she was ugly instead of pretty, stupid instead of intelligent, and useless instead of talented."

Dumbledore paused and looked at Julie with knowing eyes.

"Sometimes peoples' opinions on us do have strange and curious effects," he said, with a slight smile.

Julie nodded briskly, signalling for him to continue on his story.

"Alesti thus decided to try this spell she had heard about, called the 'Perfection Spell'. She didn't care for the consequences, she just wanted to be better than she already was. In the end, the spell backfired, taking away her mortal body and leaving only her spirit behind. In other words, she was killed."

There was a grim silence as Julie stared back at the picture of the smiling Alesti. Had she known that she would have endured such a fate when the picture was taken?

"Alesti's spirit still roamed Hogwarts although she could not be seen by anyone. Her main purpose in life was to help others, and I believe she acheived that purpose today, Miss Chance," Dumbledore finished, his fingers interlacing each other neatly on his lap as he spoke.

"Sir...?"

Dumbledore's eyes seemed to reach into the depths of her soul.

"There was one thing that still kept Alesti Dunn's spirit in this world," he began quietly, his voice serious now. "That was to help someone greatly."

He stood up slowly, and retrieved the yearbook from Julie's hands. Smiling, he started to walk away from the hospital wing.

"Have a good rest now, Miss Chance. I'm sure you'll find the note in your skirt pocket very handy..."

As Dumbledore made his mysterious exit, Harry and Hermione fought for a chance to interrogate Julie on what had just happened. Sighing, Julie shared a knowing look with Ron, and he winked at her, pulling Harry and Hermione to one side so as to allow her private space to discover what Dumbledore was talking about.

As her friends disappeared to one corner of the room, Julie reached into her skirt pockets and dug about for a note of some sort.

How could have Dumbledore known that I had a note in my pocket anyway? And where did that note come from?

Her fingers made contact with a piece of crumpled paper in her left pocket, and she fished it out, the curiosity almost killing her.



Dearest Julie,

I'm sure you've been wondering about what has been happening lately in your life. Since I'm no longer around, I thought I'd put myself in written form, that you may know what is going on.

First question: What happened to Joelle? Well, let's just say that the reversal potion your friends made did something to your alter-ego. Although evidently the perfection spell had its little errors, the reversal potion still managed to help bring Joelle back into your body. The potion altered Joelle, that if her skin should ever make contact with yours, she would be returned where she belonged.

Second question: Why were you able to be seen by Ron? Do you remember, Julie, when I disappeared? Two things happened then; I transferred what was left of my life essence to you, that you might become whole again, and because I had fulfilled my main purpose in life, that is why I left to go on to the next stage of my existence.

So that's about all I have to say, my dear friend, and just a last word of advice.

Burn the spellbook from which you took the perfection spell from. It causes much more harm than good.

Also, always believe in yourself, and do yourself justice, don't hide the real you.

Love,
Alesti.


__________________ end _____________________


Chapter 19: Epilogue: Happily Ever After
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


Julie smiled a little as she read the note, and quickly put it back into her skirt pocket just as the threesome strolled back casually to her bedside.

“Wow,” began Harry, clearing his throat slightly. “The past week has been very urm… interesting.”

“Yeah,” added in Hermione quickly. “But we won’t even bring up that ever again, alright?”

Julie smiled and nodded her head.

“Oh, by the way, Herms?”

Hermione raised an eyebrow at the nickname she had never heard for a very long time.

“What’s wrong, Julie?” she asked, a hint of concern mixed in her voice as she looked at the figure lying on the bed.

“Nothing,” Julie said, with a grin. “But just wondering, where did you put that spell book that contained the perfection spell?”
_______________________________________

The night sky was painted with the deepest of blacks, with the scattering of tiny silver stars that lit up the night sky with its faint glow. Moaning Myrtle sat by the ledge of the window located in her bathroom, and let out a slight sigh.

Julie had not been visiting her lately, and it was getting lonely. Pushing her large, horn-rimmed spectacles up her nose, she propped her head in her hands and looked at the glowing half-moon that dominated the sky. She remembered countless nights when a depressed Julie would watch the stars with Myrtle, and they even had loads of fun giving the various stars humorous names.

Feeling slightly lonely, Myrtle floated off the ledge and back into her cubicle, placing herself onto the toilet seat. Yet another lonely night was ahead of her.

Suddenly, the door to the bathroom creaked open, and instantly, Myrtle jumped off the seat and peered over the wall to see who it was, who the kind visitor who was paying her a visit might be.

A familiar head of frizzy brown hair, warm, jovial hazel eyes entered the bathroom first, and Myrtle heard the familiar greeting.

“Myrtle? You in here?”

“Jules!” Myrtle squealed, floating toward the cheerful looking girl. “You’re finally here!”

“Aww I’ve missed you too, Myrtle ol’ buddy!” Julie replied happily. “How have you been?”

“Bored,” Myrtle mumbled. “No one came to visit me the last week.”

Soon, Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked into the bathroom as well.

“You had to run here,” complained Hermione. “Did you miss Myrtle that much?”

Julie grinned. “Of course I did! Now come on, let’s quickly get rid of that book,” she gestured toward Hermione.

“Oh, right,” Hermione agreed, and delved into her robes, retrieving that red, leather-bound book.

After a quick spell to create a small bonfire in the toilet, Julie picked the book from Hermione’s fingers, and poised it over the flames.

“Good riddance, you trouble-causing book,” she said firmly, before releasing her grip, allowing the book to fall into the orange-red fire.

The four of them watched as the flames devoured the book, tearing apart the pages from its spine, rolling every single page into a blackened ball of ash, before spitting it back into the surroundings, drifting mounds of black dust, going wherever the wind felt like blowing them.

After the entire book had been consumed, the entire fire was vanished instantly with a flick of Hermione’s wand. Then, she and Harry shared a devious grin.

“Alright, what was that look for?” Julie asked them, an amused smile on her face. She felt like a totally new person, no longer held down by her own insecurities and worries. She was now a free spirit, doing whatever she felt like, but still holding on to her beliefs and values. She still had her occasional stammer, but it did not bother her as much as it used to. She had learnt to accept herself, and love herself for who she really was. All her flaws and character traits were what made her special.

“Nothing,” Harry whistled innocently. “You know something, Hermione? I think we still have a section of Charms that you haven’t fully explained to me yet. Why don’t we just troop over to the library now and get it over and done with?”

“Sure!” said Hermione, winking at Ron. “You and Ron need not follow us, Julie. You’ll be bored to death watching Harry fumble over his charms homework. It’s just a drag.”

“B-but…”

Before Julie could protest, the two had already scuttled away as quickly as they could, leaving a grinning Ron with her.

“Alright, what’s going on?” Julie asked, turning to face Ron’s nervous looking face, his eyes darting around, as though not daring to meet her gaze.

“Erm… nothing? Wanna go take a walk near the lake? I hear it’s beautiful at night,” he said suddenly, surprising Julie a little.

“Well… okay…”

_________________________________________________

Julie and Ron both strolled silently along the lake, and Julie could not help but marvel at the true beauty of it at night. The pale moonlight shone off the surface of the water just right, creating a luminescent and romantic glow. Some acacia trees surrounded the lake, and the uniquely-shaped leaves fell randomly across the area, as though they were trying to impersonate the feeling of snowfall.

“I… I missed you a lot the last week,” said Ron suddenly, as the both of them sat under the shade of the acacia trees, admiring the skies.

“Huh? What do you mean?” Julie’s face was a picture of puzzlement as she looked at Ron’s blushing face. “And why on earth are you turning various shades of red?”

Truthfully, Julie already kind of knew the answer, she knew why Harry and Hermione wanted the two of them to be alone together, but she just wanted to tease Ron a little, to watch him show off his shy and awkward side.

“A-as in, urm… well although you were there physically, but ah… urm…” Ron’s hemming and hawing made Julie laugh. “Oh heck! I’m lousy at this.” Ron grumbled as he looked away.

“What?” Julie pretended to act confused and innocent, but inside she was ready to burst with longing.

Ron looked pained and jittery, and finally, with a huge draw of breath, he turned to face Julie, eye-to-eye, and Julie felt uncomfortable under his gaze.

“WhatIMeanToSayIsThatILoveYou,” he said, his words coming out in a rush that Julie had to take a moment before it finally registered. She felt a warm glow lighting up her face as she looked away for a moment, smiling.

“Ahh you lovable twit. I love you too,” she said, enveloping Ron into a teddy-bear hug.


_____________________________________

Life has not been the same lately. Julie learned to get along with people, to accept peoples' differences and not discriminate. After all, she had been there once, and she knew how it felt to be ostracized.

Chris and her were now good, firm friends. Chris apparently, had been telling the truth when he said that he wanted another chance. But back off, Chris! This girl's already attached.

Although Julie and Malfoy were still not on very good terms, they at least remained on talking terms, and Malfoy is starting to tease her less. Probably because Julie never did take offense anymore, and she was a picture of kindness and love.

So maybe Julie was not a popular member of the crowd, but still, she was at least well-liked. But that did not matter. All she cared about was that she had made good friends, had a life-changing experience, and was well-equipped for the future.

________________________________________



Excerpt from Julie Chance’s diary

Friday, 18th March 2005
9.52pm

Today has been a really wonderful day. I got my life back, my friends, and I gained something else so amazing in my life.

Ron Weasley.

I know, he’s quite dim at times, but he’s very lovable. He managed to see past my mask when nobody else did, and he still loved me for all the flaws that I had.

Sometimes I really wonder what I did to deserve such a nice guy.

I really miss Alesti, and although this horrible experience will always linger in my mind, it taught me many things that changed my life.

1. That being a ghost is definitely not a nice experience.
2. That Harry, Ron, and Hermione are the bestest friends I could ever have.
3. That flaws and imperfections are what makes a person.
4. That life is just simply beautiful if you stop looking at yourself, but look at others, what you can do for them.
5. And… that being yourself is the best thing you could ever do for yourself.

So that’s about it for this week. I’m thankful for such an amazing experience.

Signing off,
Julie Chance.

____________________________________________


Note : Hope you guys liked it! That’s the end of this whole story. :)

Just wanted to say that everything in this story is based on my real-life experience and people. Julie Chance was based on myself and Alesti Dunn was created in the image of my church pastor.

I have experienced all that I wrote in this story before. I stammer, but I don’t try to hide it. If people ask me why I'm talking funny, I'll just tell them, "Hey, that's how God created me!"


I went through a chapter of my life when I suffered from a bout of depression, and I had suicidal tendencies because of my social withdrawal. I remember once when I was really so depressed that I tried burning my room down, and once I was standing at the window wondering what was the best way to jump down.


After I went to church, all that changed. So now, I'm living a happy life, and my stammering doesn't really impact me in a hugely negative way.


Hey, if you've got a similar life story, want to share it with me? :) Email me: imperfection@rock.com


You were made this way for a purpose, and truly, being yourself is the greatest gift you can give others. :)

Cheers! And God bless! :)
Faith




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