Early morning rain slashed against the window panes, pinning leaves and flower petals to the glass. I was jolted awake by a bright succession of flashes and a loud crack of thunder that seemed to have split right outside my window. I sat bolt upright in my bed, the sheets slipping from my shoulders and pooling around my waist. My pulse was racing and I could feel my heart pounding against my chest.

The storm that raged outside reflected what was going on inside my head. I had been having a nightmare again. The nightmare. One of those that reoccur time and time again for the sole purpose of tormenting you to within an inch of your waking sanity.

My breathing slowed and I lay back down on my bed, snuggling the covers around me. It was still early and I didn’t have the energy to get up yet, but I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I didn’t want to; there was a possibility that the nightmare would come back. Instead I watched the droplets of rain snake down the window and the branches bow down to the wind.

The walls were groaning from the gusts pushing upon them, and I groaned along with them as I remembered what today was. The first of September - back to Hogwarts. I despised the frigid corridors, the damp dungeons, the uncomfortable four-poster beds. I hated everything about Hogwarts, and yet it was better than this place. My house was not a home, but a prison. I was glad to be leaving here.

The rain began to die down and I glanced at the time. Seven o’clock. I still had another four hours until I needed to be on the train. I decided to just get up instead of laying in bed for another few hours.

I crossed my bedroom and entered the attached bathroom. My stomach churned when I looked at my reflection in the large mirror. I watched myself as I gently ran my fingers across the red and purple discolorations that spotted my arms. Underneath my shirt it was the same picture, the same disgusting bruises. My body ached with every movement of my muscles. The pain of it was enough to bring me to the point of tears, but I forced them back. Crying would do no good. It never did.

I turned the shower on and twisted the knobs until the water was at its hottest. By the time that I was finished undressing, my reflection in the mirror was blurred by the steam. I breathed in deeply, letting the moisture coat my throat. The heat was soothing to me.

A hiss escaped my mouth as I stepped into the scalding shower. The heat was searing into my skin, but I welcomed it. My friends at school had asked me why I liked it this way, but I was unable to give them what they would consider a legitimate answer. There was just something about the added cleansing feeling that the hot water provided.

“Romilda?” a voice called from the other side of the door. “Romilda, sweetheart, I have to leave for work.”

I didn’t answer. My mother rarely made an effort to talk to me, so why should I treat her any differently than she treated me? I rolled my eyes as she knocked lightly on the door and I could hear her rattling the doorknob to seek entrance.

She gave up after a few moments and called out to me again. “Okay, well I’ll just leave a note for you on your bed. Goodbye, honey.”

I waited a few minutes, long enough to know that my mother would be done writing her little note that I was certain would only be a few lines long. I shut the water off and examined my overheated body. My normally pale skin was now an angry red and almost blended with my bruises.

With my towel wrapped securely around my body I opened the door and peeked into my bedroom. Good, mum was gone. I walked to my armoire and pulled out my outfit for the day. Most of my clothing was packed in my trunk already, but I found a cute long-sleeved T-shirt and jeans that would suffice. I would be changing into my school robes soon after I boarded the train anyway.

I was finished getting ready before my eyes caught sight of the paper on my bed. I had been right - the note consisted of a few short lines.

Hi honey --

I’m sorry I couldn’t see you at all either last night or this morning. Work’s been crazy. Your father will be taking you to the station. I hope you have a good time at school.

And that was it. That was the relationship that my mother and I had. She worked as a Healer at St. Mungo’s and that place consumed just about all of her time. I knew that she worked tirelessly to make sure that I had a good life, which I found ironic. My life was hell and it was because of her constant absence. My father wouldn’t dare treat me the way he did if my mother was around. And he wouldn’t drink so much either if she was around.

Your father will be taking you to the station. I shuddered at the thought. Even if it was only a ten minute drive, I didn’t want to be anywhere near my father. The aching in my muscles that had marginally disappeared in the shower was now returning at the idea of close proximity with that man.

I finished packing the rest of my items that I would need for the upcoming term and hauled my trunk down the stairs. Leaving it near the door, I stepped into the kitchen and stopped short. My father was sitting at the table, eyes sunken, clutching a cup of coffee.

I knew that in all likelihood he didn’t remember what had happened last night, given the empty bottle of firewhiskey that was lying on its side on the countertop. But I remembered. When I dressed this morning I had made sure to wear long sleeves to cover up my bruises, but I could still feel them. And I could envision my father standing over me, that maniac glint in his eyes as he struck me.

“Romilda,” he said gruffly as I turned on my heel to walk back to my room, hoping that I had gone unnoticed. I half-turned back towards him, refusing to look him in the eye.

“Yes?” I replied curtly.

“I want to leave here at nine thirty. No earlier, no later.”

That was just fine with me. I cleared my throat in response and left the room. There was about a half hour to kill before we would leave, so I decided to return to my bedroom.

I spent the next twenty minutes lying on my bed, dreading the next few hours. My father, the classmates that I hated, that damned Weasley girl.

When it came time to leave I slowly lifted myself off of my bed and trudged down the steps. My father was making his way out the door, not even bothering to acknowledge my entrance. I rolled my eyes and grabbed the handle of my trunk, dragging it noisily out to the car.

The ride to King’s Cross Station was silent and uneventful, thank Merlin for that. My father didn’t say a single word to me, making me wonder if maybe he did remember last night. Not that he would have started apologizing, of course not, but maybe would’ve said something. But that too was ridiculous; he probably didn’t even remember and wouldn’t have talked anyway.

After a brutal ten minutes where I stared out the window, we finally arrived at the station. I opened my car door and walked to the back of the car. My father had gotten out on his side as well and had opened up the trunk of the car, not bothering to unload my belongings for me. That would be far too nice.

I hoisted my trunk up and out and walked away without looking back. I hoped I had offended my father. I was not the least bit upset that I wouldn’t be seeing him until next summer. I never returned home for Christmas or Easter break.

I quickly made my way past the unfamiliar faces of the many muggles swarming the station and reached the wall between platforms 9 and 10. Discreetly I walked toward the wall, checking the time as I went. When I looked up from my watch-less wrist, I was greeted by the sight of the giant scarlet engine.

I sighed. My transport from one hell to the other.

Looking down the way, I didn’t see many families. I had gotten to the platform rather early, so I only had to walk to a short way to find an empty compartment. After hauling my possessions aboard, I took a seat by the window and watched as families continued to pour into Platform 9 and 3/4. I rolled my eyes as tearful parents kissed and hugged their children goodbye. Happy families made me sick.

Time passed and I saw many of my friends board the train and walk past my compartment. I could’ve called out to them, asked them to join me, but I was not in the mood. Among my friends I was happy, scheming, vivacious Romilda, and at that moment I wasn’t feeling up to playing that role.

With about five minutes left until the train’s departure, the door to my compartment slid open. I was startled to see the bright green eyes of Harry Potter looking back at me.

“Oh, Harry, hi!” I said, instantly falling into my public self. “Care to join me?”

I batted my eyelashes foolishly, as I had done countless times last year.

“Uh, hello Romilda,” Harry muttered, looking a bit confused.

I opened my mouth to speak, to possibly say something witty and brilliant, something to make Harry finally realize that he was in love with me, as I loved him. Before I could respond however, the annoying redhead Ginny Weasley walked up behind Harry and hugged him around the waist.

“Romilda,” she nodded toward me. She kissed Harry on the neck and giggled, ignoring my presence. “Come on, Harry, let’s go find an empty compartment.”

Harry cast me a strange sort of smile and walked off, grasping hands with Ginny. I stood and walked to the door, ready to slam it shut. Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley passed my compartment as well, following shortly after Harry and that fire-headed twit. They didn’t even throw a glance my way, but walked right on past me.

One lonely tear threatened to fall, but I bit my lip and held it back. I was not going to let anyone hurt me.

A/N: Thank you for reading! I'd appreciate a review, please. I'd like to know if the interest is there for me to continue on with the story.

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