Of Pimples and Peter
Trying to obtain clear skin is very much like fighting a war. The pimples are an invasion; they are taking over the territory of… my face. Pimples are smarter than I thought. Every time I truly believe that I have zapped them to oblivion for good, they reappear in greater numbers.
Sometimes they appear in great armies, other times just as lone soldiers. They can be large, powerful and red, or small and subtle. Sometimes they can be painful or even bleed. They can attack just one part of the face at once, like the forehead for instance, or they can seem to be everywhere at once. There is, however, one part of the face that is the ultimate goal for conquering pimples, and that is the tip of the nose.
I stared in the mirror, my eyes wide with disbelief. The king of all pimples had set up his fortress right at the end of my nose. It was impossible to miss with it’s striking red color. I rubbed at it, hoping that it would magically retreat, but it simply darkened in color. Whimpering in spite of myself, I began to rummage through my bathroom drawer for my makeup.
I began to slather my pale foundation onto my nose, hoping to disguise his majesty so I could enjoy my ride on the Hogwarts Express without everyone staring at me with sickening shock. The pimple, while less red, now looked like a clump of glop on my nose; also impossible to miss. Why does this kind of thing always happen to me? I applied the rest of my makeup with a shaky hand. Makeup had never been my strong suit. I always truly believed in my heart that people would love me for my spirit instead of my face…Ha! The world is not as it should be.
I put my wild hair into a high ponytail, where it actually curled under nicely and looked presentable. I twisted my lips at my reflection. Wasn’t I supposed to grow out of the awkward teenage phase like a million years ago?
I walked back into my room to get dressed. I pulled on a pair of jeans with a slightly higher waist (I preferred not to have things hanging out when I bend over.) I completed the outfit with my favorite pink t-shirt.
“KATIE!” My mum’s voice shattered the quiet. “James and I are ready! Move it!” I swore quietly to myself and began chucking things into my trunk. I threw in my brush, the makeup I had been using, and a few extra hair ties.
“We’re leaving without you!” That was James. He would leave without me.
“SHUT UP!” I shrieked back. “I’M COMING!” I gave my bedroom a nod of farewell before I grabbed my trunk and pounded down the stairs.
There it was. The Hogwarts Express. I had walked up to this train seven times now; and this would be the last. I truly couldn’t believe it. Where had the years gone? After this year I would have to decide what I wanted to do with my life. What was I actually good at?
I didn’t have time to ponder that idea, as the train gave off a shrill whistle, indicating that it was ready to go. Mum turned to face James and me; tears glistening in her eyes and clinging to her lashes. Mum always got emotional before we got on the train, but being our last years, she was in near-bawl mode. She pulled James into a hug first and kissed both of his cheeks.
“Be a good boy,” she said, stroking his hair.
“Of course,” James answered, in that voice he uses which makes him seem like he isn’t up to anything when he really is. He kissed Mum and disappeared into the crowd that hurrying to get on the train. Mum turned to me next and wrapped me up in a hug. She then held me at arm’s length and I could feel her critical eyes scanning me.
“What’s on your nose?” she asked, leaning in closer to my face.
“Nothing,” I muttered hurriedly, throwing my hand up in front of the Pimple King. I kissed her swiftly on the cheek and escaped through the crowd. I snorted in anger. She always sees the things wrong with me doesn’t she? I was still muttering curses under my breath as I climbed into the train and started to hunt for my friends and a compartment.
As I headed down the thin hallway with my bulky trunk, I nearly clunked heads with a young man with thin, sandy blonde hair, heading in the opposite direction. I was about to offer a quick apology but then I realized I knew the person in my path.
“Remus!” I exclaimed happily. His eyes met mine and my smile dissolved.
He didn’t look himself. In fact, he looked downright ill. He was pale, and his eyes seemed almost empty of all emotion.
“You look sick,’” I said, and then clapped a hand over my mouth.
“I’m sorry,” I gasped. “I didn’t really mean…” He held up his hand to stop my blabbering.
“It’s okay,” he said gently. “I am sick.” Concern instantly flooded my face. Remus Lupin and I always got along; he was a good person and a nice friend. Lupin never seemed to let the world bother him; he was normally just happy to be alive. This pale boy in front of me was not the Remus Lupin I usually encountered. He forced a brief and weak smile before slipping by me and heading off in the other direction.
“Get better!” I called after him.
“I can’t,” he yelled back. I puzzled over this as I watched Lupin’s retreating figure. When he was a good distance down the hall, he suddenly turned and said loudly,
“Lily and some of the others are in the compartment two from the back!” I waved at him in thanks and continued on my way, still pondering what Remus had said. Sick? Can’t get better? Poor guy.
These thoughts kept circling around in my head as I neared the compartment that Lupin has specified.
The compartment was packed to a near-breaking point. Lily, Sirius, James, a blonde named Claire, Vicky, and five other girls unknown to me, were packed tightly into the tiny space. My eyes grew wide. This was ridiculous.
As my eyes scanned the people, who were now all staring at me, my heart sank. Sirius was sitting next to Claire, holding her hand. What!? They were together now? Lily gave me a small wave.
“You can put you trunk under where Claire is sitting, I think there’s room,” she said, smiling sweetly. I made my way though the tangle of legs and managed to squeeze the trunk under the seat. On the way, I accidentally crushed Claire’s little toe.
“Ow!” she squealed. I stood up as fast as I could.
I’m sorry!” I gasped. “I didn’t mean to!”
“It’s fine,” Claire said, in a voice that means its not really fine. James grinned at me and gave me a mocking thumbs up. Claire grabbed her foot and propped it on her lap so she could examine her red toe. At that moment, Sirius leaned forward and planted a kiss right on her toe. I shuddered and my heart started to twinge.
“I gotta get out of here,” I said softly. They were all giving me slightly disgusted looks anyway, well, except Lily.
“I’ll see you all later.” I slipped out of the compartment and took a deep breath. It felt nice to breathe again.
I was still twitching with discomfort as I left the crowded compartment. Without thinking about where I was going, I simply moved to the next compartment down the line, threw the door open, and plopped down next to the window.
The compartment was empty except for a slightly chubby boy with dark, curly hair. I recognized him immediately as Peter Pettigrew, the fourth Marauder. Why wasn’t he with the others? Perhaps he was and exiled stooge like me. I had never really spoken to him other than, “Excuse me,” and “I am so sorry!” but all of a sudden I found myself speaking openly.
“You know what really bugs me?” I said loudly. Peter looked up, startled. “The way all my friends have distinctive qualities! Claire is gorgeous, Vicky is brilliant, and Lily is a perfect combination of both! I have no distinctive quality!” I hit my fist against the window glass gently. “I really, really love my friends,” I continued, still unaware if I was speaking to Peter or space.
“But sometimes I feel…” I didn’t know how to word this. “I know they like me…It’s just that…” Peter finished for me.
“It’s that they like you the least.” My eyes widened and I let out a sharp gasp of air.
“That’s it!” I breathed. “They like me the least!” Peter gave me a smile and said softly,
“You know that if you and all your friends were stranded on a desert island, you would be the one they would agree to boil up and eat.” I laughed out loud and moved to the other side of the compartment, so I was sitting next to Peter.
“Hopefully we would find some other way to obtain food!” Peter laughed this time and I smiled.
I can’t say exactly how long we talked. Hours maybe. Years perhaps. We talked about nothing for ages it seemed. Still, all this nothing we were speaking of meant so much something to me.
We now had a sea of goodies surrounding us; treats we bought from the cart as it came by our compartment. I was sinking into a licorice wand as Peter talked,
“Do you ever feel that you are exactly in the middle of everything?” he asked, rummaging through the candy mountain. I cocked my head, not understanding.
“I mean, for example, I’m not hideous looking, yet I’m not handsome. I’m not brilliant but I’m also not stupid. I’m not fat, but I’m also not in good shape. It’s like I’m a person full of things that I’m not instead of things that I am.” I stopped mid-licorice wand and swallowed.
“That’s deep,” I murmured. “Tragic yet beautiful.”
“Story of my life,” he answered finding a chocolate frog. “So, what’s your life like? What is it like being the sister of James Potter?” I shrugged and took off another chunk of my candy wand.
“Technically we are only half-siblings,” I said. Peter raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“I didn’t know that,” he answered. “I thought you guys were twins.”
“We have different moms,” I replied. “James’ mother was a witch, my mum is a muggle. James’ mom died when he was really young, a baby even, and his dad married my mum. We’ve been a family ever since.”
“What are your parents like?”
I shrugged. “Dad works all the time, I barely see him. Mum is always there, but she totally favors James.” Peter nodded.
“I can relate. My dad adores my brother Aaron. Compared to me, I can see why. Aaron is a muggle, but he’s handsome, captain of his football team, and a straight A student.” Peter’s eyes locked with mine. “I’ve got nothing that impresses my dad.”
“My mum always seems to able to see the worst things in me,” I said.
“I can’t believe we’ve never spoken before,” Peter said suddenly. “This is nice.”
“I agree,” I replied happily. “Even though I am in Hufflepuff, I better see a lot of you this year Peter Pettigrew.”
Peter nodded, grinning. He stood up and stuck out his hand. “Friends?”
I took it and gave his hand a firm shake.
“Friends!” I answered. “Now I better get my trunk so I can change. That is, if I can pry Sirius and Claire apart long enough to grab it.” Peter chuckled.
“Good luck.” He opened the door for me and I looked at his face as I passed. He had a large red pimple on the side of his left cheek.
I stared at it for a second, looked away, and smiled.
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