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(Originally, I planned to give you a much longer chapter- but the OCD part of me could not have it on an odd number for long! lol. This chapter is dedicated to the lovely plainInsane18 who has been graciously editing my French mistakes. Thanks Grace!  So anyway, this is really a filler chapter, but it's nessecary. The next chapter will be ALOT longer and I will try to post that one soon- for now, ENJOY! Oh and don't forget to review! 

xoxo RED )


Chapter 12 ~ Exams

Alice: "No one will dare to call you plain when I'm through with you."
Bella: "Only because they're afraid you'll suck their blood." 

~Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer 

~


The rest of Madame Olympe's wedding was fairly uneventful.

My friends insisted on having a round of butterbeers and chocolate in the kitchen, to celebrate my liberation. They were thrilled that they'd gotten to watch- up close- as I finally told James Potter off once and for all. I blushed at these congratulations and told them to keep our little interlude to themselves. The last thing I needed was for everyone to find out I'd ripped into the First Born after eavesdropping on him and my sister.

When we returned to the tent, Potter and my sister were sitting among a group of Hogwarts people. A pang of revulsion surged through me when I spotted her hand on his knee. He said something and they threw their heads back in laughter but his answering smile didn't quite reach his eyes.

Perhaps I had managed to knock his ego down a notch or two. Take that insufferably big head that was so used to being fawned over by pretty girls and pop it like a balloon- or at least let some of theair out of it. I'd definitely hit a nerve, it was obvious.

Had I been too harsh? After all this time, had my grudge ceased to be relevant? Was I dwelling in the past too much? Maybe I was a tad hasty when I lit into him like that. After all, it was three years ago. Alot could happen in three years (I was living proof of that fact) and Alice said he'd changed. I started to feel slightly uneasy. Maybe I'd made too big a deal about the whole thing.

"Don't worry," Jocelyn whispered, when she saw the direction of my worried gaze, "He wouldn't dare call you a crow again. Not after what you said to him up there and how you shine now, Ange." Her voice was smug and her grin was gleeful.

I rolled my eyes. "Only because he's probably terrified, now, that you'll break his bloody knee caps." I laughed dryly. I didn't want to think about James Potter anymore. I wanted to move on.

So that's what I decided to do. I was going to let my past be in the past and focus on my present. I would forget about my dark ages, leave them behind me. I'd leave them with James Potter and hope to never see him again (pray he and Saundra did last long enough to do the whole meet-the-family thing).

From that point of the evening on, I kept my distance. Ignored him entirely. Even when I felt him watching me- those smoldering eyes burning into the back of my head- I didn't look. I didn't want to.

Instead; I mingled, I laughed, I let myself relax into the normally happy-go-lucky girl I always was. I greeted family members ethusiastically and friends that had already graduated from school. I marveled at their engagement rings and cooed over their new babies telling them they looked even more adorable than in the pictures they'd sent to us. I played the part of the beloved well and took a comfort in the fact that Brigitte and Jocelyn were right there with me (Leah had gone off somewhere with Michael -I didn't dwell on what they might or might not be doing where ever they were).

Finally, I stood against an elaborately decorated table chatting with friends and gently rocking baby Elise into a contented slumber on my shoulder. I liked feeling the little breath on my collarbone and the tiny heart beating with mine. It was just as soothing to me as the silky tones and gentle swaying was to her appearantly.

Even the curious eyes of the First Born (as I kissed my sweet cousin's head tenderly) couldn't make my heart quicken while I cradled the tiny baby girl in my arms. He was like the sun, I'd decided, if you didn't look at him he couldn't make you blind. And, even if I'd wanted to look, I wasn't about to move my head from where it was.

Elise's tiny forehead rested against my chin and I was worried that one movement would send her wailing. I wasn't about to have her cry on me because there was no way I was giving her back to her mother while she sat over at the table my sister sat at. Granted, Saundra's chair was turned around and it looked like she was too absorbed in whatever Patrick Finnigan was saying to notice much else. But it was very likely that if she heard a baby wailing she'd at least glance to see and I wasn't taking my chances.

I was avoiding Saundra too.

I was feeling a ridiculous amount of guilt in regards to that particular Hogwarts's princess. Her words echoed annoyingly in my head, knawing at my insides and pulling relentlessly at my heart strings.

But at the same time, another part of me- the less compassionate part, I suppose- was outraged. It longed to light into Saundra the way I'd lit into Potter. I wanted to set the record straight and abolish her 'woe is me' act once and for all. I had not abandoned her.

She was the one who avoided me those first several holidays. She was the one who wrote vague, distant letters in response to my enthusiastic, vivid discriptions about the happiness I'd found and how I wished she could share it with me. She was the one too busy and caught up in her perfect existance to care about her sister, not me.

And why shouldn't I be happy? Why shouldn't I have gotten everything she and Michael found at Hogwarts? Why was it so wrong that I was laughing and grinning all the time now? Shouldn't I be allowed friends and admirers too? She and Michael had plenty at Hogwarts, why couldn't I have them at Beauxbatons?

I'd been so depressed before I came to France. Wasn't it better that I was back to being the happy-go-lucky, songbird older sister that she'd known before I went off to school? Appearantly not.

But I refused to be sorry for that decision I'd made three years ago. It was the best choice I'd ever made and I wouldn't repent for it. And I refused to back away from the spotlight I'd been bathing in for three years. I would not give in just because my little sister wanted me to, this was not like all those times she'd gotten me to write her essays against my better judgement.

She wasn't asking me to sacrifice my principles, she was asking me to sacrifice myself. And that was just something I couldn't do. I was not giving my new life up. I was not giving up my happiness. She'd have to pry it out of my cold dead tenacious fingers before I gave it all up willingly.

It was good for Saundra, I'd decided.

Everything about her world was so perfect. She had all of Hogwarts wrapped around her finger, our parents and family adored her (especially dad) and boys threw themselves at her feet constantly.

She needed to know that she couldn't get everything she wanted. That the whole entire world did not revolve around Saundra Swan and her posse. She needed to learn that she would be sharing the spotlight with me every holiday from now on and she might as well get used to it, those were the breaks. She'd just have to come to terms with it all somehow. I was her sister and I wasn't going away.

And so, I was back to my prior conclusion. If this was the only heart ache my little sister suffered, she'd survive indefinitely.

***

The rest of the holiday followed as they normally did.

We spent days in the city; shopping, people watching and meeting up with friends who lived nearby for lunch or dinner. Paris buzzed vibrantly during the day and took my breath away at night. I almost wished I still had a boyfriend to share the intoxicating romance of it all with. But a boyfriend would've thrown of the blissful flow that my friends and I had found during this particular holiday. And so I was happy that there were no boyfriends around to divert attetion. It was just us girls.

I felt exilarated. My dark ages would soon be forgotten because I left them with James Potter and he'd taken them back to England with him.

I had a plan, I would not go back to England if I could possibly help it. Just in case my old memories found me there. 

Instead, I would weasel my way into staying the entire summer with Grandmere. Or maybe even say that Nanette needed me to help with Elise and I had to stay with her. Nan would understand. She'd seen what Hogwarts had done to me. And her attitude towards the individuals who'd done the damage was much similar to Jocelyn's. She would be more than willing to be my alibi for a while.

And then, when summer ended, I'd go to Beauxbatons for seventh year. We'd spend our very last year bathing in the sun and laughing over the whole Angels thing as we always did. And it would be time to pass the torch and start a whole new life as adults. I already knew I'd be staying in France.

I figured that, I'd started a new life before, how hard could it be the second time around? I would be what I'd wanted to be since fourth year (ever since Edourd talked my ear off about it one holiday at Lynnie's), an Auror. I'd have a little cottage on the beach and a peacful, happy life- surrounded by those I loved.

All I had to do before I could live out this little fantasy was finish sixth year.

Turns out, for a Beauxbatons girl, that is far easier said than done.

***

"What is the key ingredient in-?"

"No moooore. Brain overload." Lynnie groaned.

"I feel like I've gained ten pounds in my head. Just my head." Leah told us, "My head feels heavier. Does your head feel heavier?"

"Yes." Bee told her disgruntally, "And I think I've permanently lost all feeling in three fingers of my right hand"

"Allie, can we please take a break?" Leah moaned wistfully, giving me the puppy-dog eyes.

"Les examens sont la semaine prochaine!" I informed them pointlessly for the millionth time.

They were fully aware of this fact. It was the reason every sixth year could be found either in the library of the Dorms Wing, studying rather than on the beach at the bonfires and in the Salle à Manger. It happened every exams year and we'd always watched with immense sympathy and a dash of smugness (due to the fact that it wasn't us having panic attacks and mental breakdowns) before. Now it was us and I was in full panic mode. They knew this too.

I was the bookworm after all. And these were my big exams. This was the year that would dictate the rest of my life.

I'd tried to study in October but Lynnie kept poking me or hitting my head with a pillow until I gave up the attempts. She told me she wasn't letting me become a hermit all year. But now I was panicked. I felt unprepared and unqualified for the task that faced me and it scared me to death.

They gave me disparaging looks.

I sighed, "Fine. You can go ahead, I've still got to work on Defense."

Brigitte's eyes widened, "You can already produce a bloody Patronus! What more could you possibly need to pass?"

"Loads!" I defended myself. "Lynnie, you wanna be an Auror too! Tell them it's bloody hard!" I looked at my friend who was faced down with her arms on the table and her head resting in them.

"Can't" Her muffled voice told me. "My brain's too full. Vous avez poussé trop dans là, Ange. "
I huffed and stuck my chin out defiantly, "You all go on to the bonfire, I have to keep studying. Je refuse de rater ces examens. Ils comptent trop."

"Ugh," Leah moaned but I heard the faint trace of humor. "Why must you embrace your inner geek? Why can't you smother it and conform like all the rest of us?" She teased.

"C'mon, Ange." Brigitte stood. "Nous tous descendons au feu de jardin pour une pause d'étude. Vous pouvez réorganiser votre notecards demain. " "Yeah, you're coming, Al." Leah demanded, "Les Anges n'abandonnez pas l'un l'autre dans leur temps de besoin. "
"And face it, honey." Lynnie's voice was back to normal, "Vous êtes dans le besoin désespéré. You've filled enough brain cells for tonight, time to give it up."

And then, before I knew quite what was happening they were pulling me from the library kicking and screaming. Literally.

"Let go of me, you bloody lunatics!" I ordered futily as I wriggled beneath their grasps. "I need to study! Let go of me, you lazy arse slackers! Let go now, bloody wankers- Ow! That hurts! Quit digging your claws into me, Leah! Oh, in the name of Merlin's saggy left testicle let -me -go!" I followed this with a string of profanities in French.

And they dragged me like that all the way down to the beach.

***

I'd had to put myself under a sleeping charm the night before exams because I couldn't drift into careless slumber by myself. My back was a wreck from all the stress and my neck was full of knots, as Tre felt obligated to point out that morning as he massaged it. They all could tell that I was by far the most stressed, they just couldn't understand why.

My classmates and friends were just as nervous as I was but they couldn't understand why I, Beauxbatons resident bookworm, was freaking out so much. They thought this would be a piece of cake for me. I, however, thought it was going to be the hardest test of my life.

"I think I'd give just about anything to not have to take this test right now. I'd run through the halls in my knickers if it meant I got to skip them."

"Je pourrais me mettre derrière cette idée." (I could get behind that idea. ) Adam grinned suggestively.

Lynnie punched him for me.

"Ouch." He glowered at her.

"Serves you right, perv." Lynnie smirked.

"So you're saying you'd go through torture rather than pass this exam with flying colors like we all know you will?" Henri asked with humor in his eyes.

I glared but answered just the same. "Oui."

"Even another year at Hogwarts?"

Three hands smacked Andre over the head. And I smirked as he yelped. Leave it to Lynnie, Leah and Bee to get violent. The mention of Hogwarts didn't even bug me like it normally would've. No dark shadow crossed my face, my eyes lost none of their shine.

I was perfectly unphased and able to grin at him amusedly. "Bien, je devrais penser à celui-là. But given my recent experiance, I think I could handle it." I winked at Lynnie, Leah and Bee.

The boys gave us confused looks but they'd learned that it was just safer not to even ask anymore. They'd had way too many 'it's a girl thing' diabolicals to step into that mine field again.

Adam sighed, "C'mon, Ange's got some exams to fail."

"ADAM!"
The same three hands smacked him.

The rest of us collapsed into giggles but Henri managed to choak out. "Three times in ten minutes! That's a record, mates!"

***

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