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Finding Ava


Chapter One

Ask Ms. Anonymous

*********


Dear Ms. Anonymous,

I have an enormous crush on this guy in my Charms class and I’ve been looking for ways for him to notice me. I have hair that is naturally curly; but it mostly frizzes. Usually I don’t care about it; my hair has never been a big deal to me. One day I tried some Straightening Potion on my hair with miraculous results. It became shiny and glossy, totally different from the norm. The guy I like, who usually doesn’t show that much interest in me saw my new hair style and immediately started talking to and complimenting me. It takes a long time to comb the potion into my hair and I would prefer not to do it again. However, I’m worried that the guy will lose interest. Is that possible? Am I being to0 lazy or should I just use the potion?

Thanks,

Irish Princess

***

Hey Irish,

It sounds to me that this guy you have a crush on (for whatever reason) is not somebody you want to be with. The fact that you don’t mind when your hair is messy tells me that you are a self confident person who doesn’t take what other people think to heart. I like that. In a world where society tells us how to look, feel, and act, this sort of independence makes me smile. If this guy only shows interest when your hair is a certain way, he probably has a lot of issues. You want a guy who finds your personality interesting, not your hair. If you don’t want to use the potion, then don’t use it. Especially don’t use it for somebody else. Only do things like that if they make you happy. I say move on and long live FRIZZY HAIR!

Good luck,

Ms. Anonymous

***

Dear Ms. Anonymous,

I’ve been dating this guy for about four months. Over summer I introduced him to my parents and they HATE him. They wouldn’t give a valid reason but they didn’t have a problem expressing their negative feelings, most of the time right to my boyfriend’s face. I like this guy a lot and normally I would just tell my parents to go to hell, but it’s a little more complicated than that. The last time I brought a boy home my parents expressed their dislike for him in a similar manner. I told them off, but in a few months I realized that the guy was actually a total jerk. Could my parents be right again? Or are they just being overprotective?

Peace,

Parents vs. Boyfriend

***

What’s up PVB?

As a person whom also has violently protective parents I can relate to the situation. It is quite possible that your parents are good at weeding out the bad boyfriends to make way for the good ones. However it is ten times more likely that they are just being overprotective. Don’t let your past experience ruin this one. If you’ve lasted four months I would say things are looking fairly stable. For now I would say trust your own feelings and not your parent’s. Don’t let their attitude effect the relationship.

Ms. Anonymous

********

“What do you mean you can relate to the situation?”

Ava looked moodily over at her best friend Tom, who was clutching an old wrinkled copy of the Hogwarts Howler in his hands.

“Can we please not criticize what I write again?” Ava snapped, snatching the paper away from Tom, hoping his questioning would cease. Tom laughed at her, his bright green eyes dancing, and took another bite of shepherd’s pie.

“It’s not my fault you lie so terribly in your articles,” he said, spewing food out of his mouth.

“And it’s not my fault that you eat like a complete pig,” Ava replied, removing a bit of chewed food from her long, curly hair. “And I don’t lie in my articles. I give my honest, true opinion as my advice.”

“Well most of the people writing in ask questions about relationships don’t they?” Tom asked, reaching for a basket of muffins. “You don’t exactly have a lot of experience in that area. I mean you’ve had…no boyfriends…like ever.”

Ava let out a frustrated sigh, but could see no argument she could make. It was true. She hadn’t had a boyfriend…ever. She had had dates but they were more like disasters. She managed a small, fake smile back in Tom’s direction. She could never actually be mad at him. He was just teasing her, something he loved to do. He enjoyed tweaking her about her writing and the fact that she had very little experience in the situations she somehow gave advice on. Ava stared around the room.

It was particularly bright in the Great Hall that day. Sunlight was streaming in the high, arched windows telling Ava that it was around noon. This September had been particularly warm so far, and she could feel heat radiating from the black robes she wore. Tom noticed that her smile was forced so his tone instantly became sympathetic.

“Come on Ava, you know I’m kidding,” he said, his mouth finally empty. “You’re a great girl, and I would date you myself if I wasn’t…you know…”

“Gay,” Ava finished for him.

“Shhh,” Tom muttered, scanning the Gryffindor table to see if anyone had heard. “If you out me I’m going to have to stop helping you with your Potions homework. And remember the promise you made me when I told you?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Ava responded, dreamily getting lost in a memory. She had been fourteen…

***

Two Years Ago…

Ava had a total crush on Tom Bergson. He was cute, funny, attentive, and they were already fantastic friends. But she was so scared to ask him out. If he said no, things would become terribly awkward and she would lose one of the most important people in her life. But if he said yes…oh how she wanted him to say yes.

Finally the idea of him saying yes got the better of Ava and she found the courage to ask Tom out. He seemed nervous when she had asked him so her heart instantly dropped; thinking that he was going to say no as she had feared.

“I don’t know…Ava…” he answered, uncomfortably. “I mean going out…with you…won’t it be awkward?”

“Oh, yeah,” Ava replied, crestfallen, her big brown eyes dulling.

“I’m kidding,” Tom said quickly, in a way that told Ava he really hadn’t been kidding at all. “Let’s do it. It’ll be fun.”

Ava gave a short, false laugh. Tom certainly didn’t seem like this was something he was looking forward to.

But they had gone on the date anyway; just a brief visit to Hogsmeade. Ava had tried desperately to keep things as normal as possible but that just made everything more awkward. She had tried to keep things simple; she held Tom’s hand once. Tom was being strangely shy so it was Ava who had to muster the courage to grab his hand. To her vast disappointment Tom didn’t seem to have any sort of interest in holding her hand. She would hold his firmly, while he would only clasp hers lightly. They continued to make forced conversation until Ava could stand it no longer.

“Do you like me at all?!” she nearly yelled at Tom, making him jump. “If you don’t why did you agree to go out with me? You could have just said no!”

“I do like you, Ava,” Tom responded, shifting his feet. “It’s just that…”

Without thinking, Ava reached forwards and put her lips to Tom’s. As the few seconds passed, Ava prayed in her head that this kiss would break any of the lasting tension. Unfortunately the kiss had the opposite effect. When Ava would try to deepen the kiss Tom would pull away. Ava soon dropped her hands, sighing.

“You don’t want to kiss me?” she asked, embarrassed and blushing.

“I want to…” Tom muttered. “But…” Ava felt a dawn of realization hit her in a wave.

“Tom, do you like girls at all?” Tom didn’t answer, but his silence was answer enough

“It’s okay,” Ava said gently. “I’ll never tell anybody.”

“Promise?”

“Of course.”

***

“Earth to Ava! Hello?” Tom was waving his hands wildly in front of Ava’s face, breaking her trance.

“Sorry,” she said mildly.

“Since you were too busy daydreaming, I’ll ask again,” he said, grinning. “Why do you have such a lame name? I mean Ms. Anonymous?”

“That lovely thing was a Chelsea creation. I told her it was awful but as you know it’s her way or the highway. And besides I would rather have a lame fake name than have my real one out there.” No one except Tom and the trusted members of the Hogwarts Howler knew of Ava’s identity.

“How come?”

“Do you know the hell I would go through if someone found out my identity?” Ava gasped. “Anyone who didn’t like my advice would be in my face, and anyone affected negatively by my advice wouldn’t leave me alone. If my readers can be anonymous, then I can too. Speaking of my readers, I better start looking through my newest letters before Chelsea kills me.”

Ava rifled through the papers in her backpack as Tom helped himself to more food. Stupid Tom. He could eat anything and stay stick skinny. Finally, she found what she was looking for, the latest letters from readers asking for advice. She plucked the closest one up and began to read it.

“Boring,” she muttered, tossing it to the side and selecting another one from the pile. Ava had to find letters that were interesting and that would apply to other people as well as the person in the situation. Ava hoped that with each letter she would help multiple people, not just the person asking for advice. Ava smoothed the parchment of the next letter and started to scan it. Her interest was instantly sparked.

Dear Ms. Anonymous,

I have a problem with my boyfriend. He is very well liked and extremely attractive. However most of the time I feel like he is being fake with me. For example when we are with a group of people and one person is telling a story, he will tell a more outrageous story, even though it is completely untrue. He also spends a lot of time worrying about his looks; he spends more time on his hair than I do. He has three very close friends that he talks to but when I try to confront him about things like this he never answers me clearly. He normally just says something really sweet to me, yet it has nothing to do with what I just asked him. I really like this guy because of his sweetness but sometimes I wonder how I can be in a relationship with a guy who isn’t being true to himself. And sometimes I feel like his phony personality causes me to be less like myself; even though I can’t explain why. What can I do to make the relationship better? Or is there no relationship to rectify?

Thanks,

Kiss Me Kate

“Now this is a pretty good one,” Ava said brightly, reading it for the second time.

“What’s up?” Tom asked, leaning across the table. Ava handed him the letter, he was going to find out in the next edition of the paper anyway.

“Well clearly this guy just tells her those sweet things to avoid talking about the real issue,” he said, finally done with his lunch.

“Thanks Sherlock,” Ava laughed. “I don’t know what I’m going to say yet but I need to go, staff meeting in five minutes.”

“I thought your meeting was at 12:30?” Tom asked.

“It is,” Ava responded.

“It’s already 12:30,” Tom declared, tapping his watch. “Well more like 12:31.”

Ava glanced down at her slim, silver watch. Everything on the face was still, the second hand was no longer moving. Ava swore loudly and jumped up from the table.

She quickly gathered all her belongings, some going in her pack while others were clutched in her arms. She bid Tom a quick goodbye before rushing towards the large doors of the Great Hall. Near the Hufflepuff table she was joined by Maggie, another writer for the Hogwarts Howler. She had a round form, a bunch of curly blonde hair, and thick, full lips.

“Hey Ava!” she said breathlessly. “I can’t believe I’m late again, Chelsea is going to kill me.”

“You mean kill us,” Ava answered, giving her watch a dirty look.

They were moving rather fast as they turned the corner to exit the Great Hall. However, someone even faster was barreling around the corner at the exact same moment. The figure smashed into Maggie and sent her sprawling to the ground, everything in her arms flying.

“Whoops,” the offender said as he rushed past. “Gotta watch where you’re going.”

Ava gave him a harsh glare, but unfortunately his back was already to her, as he continued on his path into the Great Hall followed by three other boys.

“Sorry,” one of the boys called over his shoulder.

Ava sighed and helped Maggie to her feet, and gathered the mess of supplies and papers into her arms.

“Are you alright?” she asked Maggie, once they were on their way again.

“Am I alright?” Maggie said, grinning dreamily. “Sirius Black just touched me.”

“You mean almost killed you?” Ava muttered, rolling her eyes. “Can he not see that he knocked you down? Can he not help you up or ask if you’re ok?”

“Sirius Black just touched me,” Maggie said again, and Ava realized there was no getting through to her.

********

The headquarters of the Hogwarts Howler was located on the fourth floor in an abandoned Ancient Ruins classroom. It was large in the sense of a classroom but small and cramped in the sense of an office. Fourteen small, classroom desks were set up around the room, one for each of the staff members. By the time Maggie and Ava burst into the room the other members of the staff were already at their desks. Chelsea Merlis, the editor of the paper was standing in the middle of the rows of desk; glaring menacingly, hands clasped behind her back. She had a pale skin, but a surprisingly dark face. Her black hair was pulled back tightly against her head and her eyes glittered darkly.

“Sit,” she snapped angrily, sending Ava and Maggie right to their desks, heads down.

“Before we were so rudely interrupted,” Chelsea said, her swift eyes looking over at Ava and Maggie. “We were beginning to go around, pitching ideas for the next issue, which comes out in…?”

“Two weeks,” the staff coursed in unison. Chelsea always made sure the release date was engrained in everyone’s head.

Ava listened intently as the rest of the staff pitched their ideas about Quidditch coverag, artwork in the castle, and a special piece about “living” as a ghost. Finally it was Ava’s turn. She was always last, because she simply answered letters. But Chelsea was determined to hear from everyone.

“And what’s going on with Ms. Anonymous?” Chelsea asked. Ava took a deep breath.

“Well, I was thinking about maybe branching out from the column a bit,” she said as she watched Chelsea’s eyes darken. You know Maggie said she could use some help on her piece this week so…”

“Ava, Ava,” Chelsea said, cutting her off. “You are the newest member of our fantastic staff. People enjoy your column and until you get more experience you will keep writing where you are. So what letters have you gotten?”

Ava bit her lip, knowing it would be pointless to argue.

It looked as if she would be dealing with Kiss Me Kate after all.

********

Tada!! First chapter is complete!!! I would love to know your thoughts about it. It was mainly just to introduce Ava and some of the other characters. Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated. Thanks for reading!

-Kira

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