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It was as if all the light in the world had been extinguished, even the light from the stars, and she was thrown into a perilous darkness. That was how it felt like when her mother had betrayed her father and married that horrid man.

The man who loved her mother but showed her no compassion or mercy, the man who was full of laughter and love except when she was around.

Yet she was supposed to love him and call him dad? That was a bitter pill to swallow, and it made her life harder than her mother could possibly imagine.

She knew that hearts were broken everyday and lives shattered, and somewhere out there someone had it worse off than her. Yet she couldn’t help but make a martyr of herself — this man that she was supposed to call ‘father’ wasn’t even her own flesh and blood, and he made her very angry. He always knew the right words to say to make her cry, rage, or get her into trouble with her mother. He knew that she couldn’t restrain her sword edged tongue once he had gone to far, he simply didn’t care. She knew that he brought her mother solace and happiness after the death of her beloved ‘daddy’, but that didn’t mean that she would ever accept the replacement shunted in her face. Nothing he could say or do would ever placate her. She detested him, and she thought she always would.        

Her only reprieve had been Hogwarts. It was her sanctuary. A place of living, learning, and bittersweet memories. Even the bitter memories were a considerable step above her times spent at her domicile. Why? Because she felt peace and tranquility when he wasn’t around. She felt like she could be herself and like she didn’t have to keep biting back asinine retorts simply out of fear that she would be grounded from something that she loved. She liked her freedom to do whatever she wanted outside of classes, studying, and homework. Everything from visiting the Black Lake to observing the stars from the Astronomy Tower.

Now, however, she was of age and had graduated Hogwarts. She wasn’t able to go back simply for nostalgia’s sake and certainly not to escape her stepfather. She wished that she could, but she knew that this was impossible. She couldn’t wait to move out yet she wasn’t financially able to afford it yet. She hated being tethered down to this place, her wings bound, as she was forced to do chores to earn her keep in addition to her lackluster job at the Magical Menagerie. Goodness knew that she could do with some more galleons if only to move out and be able to live her own life, she knew that she could do with more adventure than this place would ever afford her.

“Su!” her mother’s voice came, and she cannot help but wonder what she did wrong now. Was her vacuuming too rushed, did she accidentally spill water on the floor whilst doing dishes, or did her mother wonder if she had found a suitable suitor yet? Merlin only knew what the woman wanted now. She loved her mother, but she resented her for marrying such a bullying fool of a man.

Picking herself off of her bed in which she had been lounging after a day’s hard work, she sauntered downstairs to see what her mother wanted. “Yes, mum?” she asked.

“Davis would like you to weed the garden today,” her mother said. She looked at her daughter’s weary face, brushing locks of black hair from her shoulders. “But I can see that you’re exhausted. I’ll do it.”

“No, mum, you shouldn’t have to . . .” she trailed off, averting her eyes as Davis walked out.

“It’s no problem,” her mother persisted, looking to see why Su averted her eyes. “Davis, I’ll take care of the garden. Su’s tired out from work and she shouldn’t have to do everything around here. Go off to bed, dear.”

She hastened to obey her mother’s command. There was no need to stick around if Davis were around. He was insulting and rude, and she didn’t want to have to deal with tolerating his presence. She swiftly flew up the stairs like some sort of eloquent bird, perhaps, a swan — and drifted off to her bedroom. She laid down on her bed, listening to the arguments of her stepfather and mother. He seemed to think that she was simply being lazy while her mother protested that she had to work a double shift only to come home to do chores. Smirking into her pillow, she uttered a small sigh. She didn’t know why her mother couldn’t have married someone a bit nicer and far more understanding. No. Instead she was stuck with Davis who wasn’t any fun to put up with, in the least. She always made fun of his name when he wasn’t around. His name was Davis Todd and she thought it was one of the most ridiculous names in the world. Then again, she had once met a wizard named Walter Walters when she had gone overseas. Still, she thought Davis’ name trumped even that in absurdity.

Her mother was constantly going on about how handsome Davis was, but to her he was simply an ugly older man with black hair that was quickly greying. His thick horn-rimmed glasses made him look like a geeky librarian except she wasn’t all together certain that he weren’t illiterate. She had never seen him read and his spelling skills were atrocious.

He was a hard worker like her mother insisted, but she did not agree that he was a good man. Good men didn’t make their ‘daughters’ feel so demeaned and insignificant. They didn’t make them feel so infinitesimal not only in the eyes of the world but their own household like Davis did.                

Closing her eyes, she fell into an unrestful slumber. She tossed and turned frequently, so much so that she woke herself up at one point. She must have been having fitful dreams as her forehead was beaded with sweat, but she couldn’t remember them. So she closed her eyes once more and fell asleep again after an hour or two.

She woke up the next morning, showering and dressing quickly. She thought she would be helpful that morning, and she went downstairs to make breakfast. She made scrambled eggs, hashed browns, pancakes, and sausages. She had thought she had been doing her mother and Davis a favor in doing so. However, as Davis complained about her shoddy talent at cooking eggs and sausages she felt her blood boil. Nothing she ever did was good enough for him. She could rip out her still beating, bleeding heart for him, and that wouldn’t even be impressive enough of a feat.

“Go to hell, Davis,” she snapped icily. She stormed out of the house before her mother or Davis could call her back. She stormed outside, needing a bout of fresh air. She couldn’t believe the nerve of him. She had tried to be a good daughter and do something good by him but no. Nothing she could ever do would appease him. She was so sick of trying. She was sorely tempted to go take her things and become a hobo for a while or even to go inside and punch Davis in the face. She had a feeling the latter would be more satisfying.

Sure, she had known their relationship was rocky, but she was trying to patch things up. He always accused her of not doing so, but she did. In her humble opinion he was the only one that wasn’t helping matters. Compulsively complaining about her wasn’t about to make her warm up to him.

It was funny that muggle fairytales usually told of wicked stepmothers. In her humble opinion, it were the stepfathers that were far crueller. She had never met anyone who actually liked their stepfather. Surely, that was telling?

She stood outside, basking in the warm sunlight. It was always ironic that when she wanted it to rain, it never would, but when she wanted the sunshine it was then that the rain pelted her window in a despairing melody. Sighing softly, she knew she would pay for that bout of defiance later. However, she couldn’t help but lose her temper. When someone did something nice one was supposed to say ‘thank you’ to that person not insult their cooking or whatever it was that they had done for them. He was ungrateful and cruel yet her mother would end up telling her that she was being selfish. It was unnerving, to say the very least.

To make things go from bad to worse, Roger Davies sauntered down the street of which she lived. He had been trying to get her to go out with him since fifth year, but she had kept turning him down. Especially since he had asked out Cho Chang before her. She was no one’s second choice. If she weren’t that person’s priority, she wasn’t going to be a part of that person’s live. There were no ifs, ands, or buts about that.

“Hey, Su!”

“Hello, Roger,” she threw back, through gritted teeth. Maybe he would take the hint and just leave? Yet that would be too generous a venture for lady fate to give her. As it so transpired, Roger was drawing nearer and nearer to her.

She wondered if her lethal glare simply didn’t strike people dead anymore or if Roger were so blind he couldn’t tell she was glaring at him.

“Are you okay?”

“Not really. I just had an argument with my stepfather. Is there something that I can help you with?” she demanded. She sincerely hoped that he didn’t say yes.

“Well, yes, actually,” he answered. She bit her tongue so that she didn’t curse this day for not going the way she wanted. It didn’t help that he was devilishly handsome and every time she saw him, she felt something stir within her that felt too much like excitement instead of the loathing she wanted him to detect. Yet evidently that idea wasn’t as strongly conveyed as she might have hoped because he kept trying. He was persistent, if nothing else, she would have to give him that. “I was wondering if you would like to go to the Holyhead Harpies game with me.”

She would have loved to have screamed yes, but she had to have some decorum and self-control. So what if they were her favorite team and she fancied him, a bit? That was beside the point.  Her pride answered for her, before she could even really fully consider the concept. It was a clear and resounding, “No.” It poured from her mouth like the stale taste of vinegar, stagnant enough to stop any conversation dead in it’s tracks.

He looked crestfallen, and immediately she felt guilty yet she couldn’t show this. “I’ll see you around then, Su.”

“Hopefully not,” she retorted, looking wistful yet stoic. “I’m nobody’s second choice.”

“What?”

“You’re only asking me because Cho turned you down again, didn’t she?”

He looked hurt and annoyed. “Cho has nothing to do with this.” He turned on his heel and began walking away.

They had been flirting for years because she had been too coy. She realized now that her games and misguided suspicions could cause splintering of her already fractured heart.

She was strong. . . she would be strong. . .

Yet her heart was fractured, and it needed mending. Maybe she could trust Roger with her bleeding heart. After all, every time he was around she did feel butterflies fluttering around her stomach with agitating persistence. “Roger!” she called after the boy she had so quickly dismissed.

“Yes, Su?”

“I’ve changed my mind,” she smiled. “I’ll go with you to the Quidditch game tonight. That is, if you’ll still have me go with you.”

“Of course,” he grinned. “See you at seven.”

She knew that this didn’t solve her problems, but it was enough to make her blissful. She knew that she would come down from cloud nine eventually and the problem of Davis would still be there, but all she knew now was that she was a girl that was fond of a boy and it all seemed too wonderful to be true. For the first time, in what seemed years, she gave an authentic and genuine smile. Not even Davis could puncture a hole in this heavenly euphoria. Not today.

“You’re grounded off that felopone you seem so fond of,” Davis snapped, when she re-entered the house. “For two days.”

“Wonderful,” she chirped, sarcastically. However, she didn’t bat a lash. When she was younger stunts like this used to make her cry. Today, however, she was too full of mirth to care about a grumpy old man who seemed keen on sucking the happiness out of everyone and everything around him . . .much like a dementor. No, she was too focused on Roger. Maybe her shattered heart was on the mend. All she could do was hope.

She walked upstairs, preparing for her date even though it was hours away. This day was going to be splendorous. She was certain of it.

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