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Okay, author's note time! Just to let you all know (since my Beta thinks I should explain), this chapter is the same as the previous chapter, but from Stac's perspective. It gives a bit of an insight into what's going on in her head.
Enjoy!


 
 

 

 

 

 









                            
                                          Stunning image by the_tofuubeaver @ TDA
                                          Because we all love a little bit of The Doctor...


 

Best of the Bad Days

Sweet Silver Lining – Kate Voegele

‘Anyone can give up; it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.’
Anonymous


 
 

 

 

 

 






 

In the Head Girl’s bedroom, Christmas morning dawned like any other day. There was no pile of presents waiting for her at the end of her bed, no friendly face to greet her as she woke.

In her heart of hearts, Stac felt like there was probably something right about the situation, almost as if she didn’t deserve to have good friends and presents, even today.

For a long while, she simply lay in bed. No one came to rouse her, no one came to wish her a Merry Christmas. She didn’t wonder where everyone was.

Celeste and Scorpius both had friends outside of the court, not close friends, but friends nonetheless.  Most of the members of her Guard were fairly close, and would no doubt be spending the morning together. Those…other friends, the ones she tried not to think about, would be doing the same.

She wasn’t even sure if she could call them friends anymore. Not after last night…

A painful feeling twisted through Anastacia’s stomach. The emotion was physical, so much so that she gasped and instinctively curled into a ball on her side. Clutching her stomach, she willed the feeling to go away, desperately trying to think of other things.

It was no good. The memories rose up against her will – the look of fury on James’ face when he’d first spoken to her, the touch of his hand against her cheek, the shocked faces of the onlookers.

The pain that she’d caused, plainly written there across his features.

Never before had she hated herself this much.

Never before had she felt so completely and utterly alone.

No wonder no one was coming to wish her a good morning.

When the pain started to subside, Anastacia got up from the bed. With no clear aim or intention in mind, she found herself making her way to the small desk in a corner of the room. She had sat down and taken out a fresh piece of parchment and her quill before her brain even had time to catch up.

Looking at the parchment, she had no idea what her subconscious mind had planned to do. What was she supposed to be writing?

Another image from the night before surfaced in her mind, and she shuddered. Suddenly, the whole writing lark made a bit more sense.

Dipping her quill into the inkpot, she began to write.

  

 

 







 

When Celeste entered the Head Girl’s room an hour later, she was surprised to find Anastacia, fully dressed and dry-eyed, sitting on the window seat, staring outside.

‘Your Grace,’ she greeted quietly, dropping a small curtsey as she drew closer, ‘Merry Christmas.’

‘It’s snowing,’ Anastacia stated calmly, as if she hadn’t heard either the greeting or the good wishes.

Celeste crossed to her side. It was indeed snowing; great, fat flakes spiralling down out of the sky. The ground was already blanketed in thick, white snow, and the new snowflakes were falling soundlessly to join it.

‘How are you feeling, Grace?’ Celeste queried softly. The older girl looked fine, but with her, how could you tell?

‘I’m fine. Did you have a nice morning?’

‘Yes, thank you. I saw Scorpius earlier.’

‘Oh?’

Anastacia’s voice was light, as if the comment was the most inconsequential thing she’d ever heard.

‘He’s outside. He’s been out there for awhile now – he wants to talk to you.’

‘Tell him I’m sleeping.’

‘He’s quite insistent.’

He was, in fact, furious. Anastacia had refused to talk to him the night before, taking refuge in her room, where he couldn’t follow her. Scorpius was highly concerned for her mental wellbeing after the incident in the Entrance Hall, and the fact that she wouldn’t even discuss matters with him had made him even more edgy. He’d practically ordered Celeste to make Anastacia come out and talk to him, if only for a moment.

The girl in question sighed lightly.

‘Did he tell you what happened last night?’

There was no reason she shouldn’t know, so Celeste nodded.

‘He did. I saw him this morning threatening a group of Ravenclaws with the complete dissolution of all their House Points from this year if they breathed a word of it. I pressed, so he told me. Was that alright?’

‘Fine, fine. It hardly matters.’

 Something was most definitely up.

‘If it matters so little, why are you avoiding Scorpius?’

Now Anastacia finally turned away from the window, the first hints of emotion in her eyes.

*

‘I want nothing more to do with his ridiculous plan. All it has done is cause hurt and destruction. I don’t want to do that anymore.’

She sighed.

‘In fact, I don’t want to leave this room ever again.’

There was a long pause, during which Anastacia continued to stare out at the scene below. Eventually, Celeste heaved a sigh and swatted her friend on the arm.

Cretin!

‘What?’ Anastacia gasped, spinning in her seat to face her friend. Celeste had never before laid so much as a finger in her, even in jest. Now, she glared at Anastacia as the latter sat, rubbing her arm.

‘Stop it. Just stop it. I know you are hurting but, really? You are being so selfish. So stop.’

Her English had become strained and fragmented, but she refused to slip into her courtier’s French, keeping the discussion completely separate from the Court.

‘What about Scorpius, who is sick with worry? What about Rose? Last night was so very difficult for her. Or what about me? Me, who knows nothing at all about this, who has had to make all the guesses for myself, and who must still sit and watch you be hurt.’

The truth of her words hit Anastacia like a blow. She sucked in a breath at the unexpected discovery, her gaze falling to the floor.

‘I’m sorry. I hadn’t even thought about it in that sense.’

Celeste’s face softened.

‘I know. I am sorry you are hurting; I am. But you are being a child, when you need to be a woman.’

She paused.

We need you to be a woman. There is so much confusion; here, at Court. You are still our leader here, no matter how much you wish it otherwise.’

Spreading her hands in front of her, she sent her friend a helpless look.

‘We who have been raised apart from this world are not always sure of how to act, even after all this time. We take our cues from you. If you give up, what are we to do?’

‘Yes, I know, but–’

‘And your other friends? Forgetting James; what about Terry, hmm? What of him, a Muggle-born? If you can not keep the Court and their agents satisfied, if they see need to investigate your dealings here, who will protect him?’

The older girl kept her gaze on the floor, shamed by her friend’s words. Celeste saw the capitulation in her posture, but didn’t stop.

‘The school, too. You are in a place of authority, of relative power. The students look to you, so many times, to see an example. If you give in to hurt and melancholy, like a child does, what example is that, hein?’

‘Okay, enough,’ Anastacia agreed with a sound somewhere between a sigh and a laugh, ‘you’ve succeeded in making me ashamed of myself.’

Celeste coloured slightly.

‘That was not my intention, Grace.’

‘Really? Are you sure? In any case, it doesn’t matter – it’s what I needed.’

For a moment, seemingly lost in thought, she held her hand against the cold glass of the window pane.

‘Please tell Scorpius that I shall meet him in the common room shortly.’

‘Grace.’

Celeste bobbed her curtsey and left. Anastacia removed her now chilled hand from the glass and placed it on her forehead, then briefly on each cheek. Then, dragging in a breath, she stood, smoothed her skirt, and exited the room.

 
 

 

 

 





 

‘Nast!’

Scorpius greeted her enthusiastically, if a trifle censurably. Anastacia allowed him to take her hands and help her to a seat while she gathered her thoughts.

‘I’m sorry for…stalking you, I guess, but I was worried. You have to understand that.’

And the worry was indeed plain in his grey eyes. She tried to smile and reassure him, but Scorpius was having none of it.

‘Why did you just run off? The whole thing worked – he’s mad enough that he won’t come close to you. It’s taken the decision out of your hands.’

His voice was laden with confusion.

‘I thought this was what you wanted?’

‘I don’t know what I want anymore!’ Anastacia burst out in desperation. Rubbing her eyes, she tried to clarify.

‘I wanted him to stay away because I thought Creeten was going to hurt him. Then I needed him to stay away because of the betrothal agreement. But now you’re sharing the position with Creeten and the betrothal is off…’

Her voice trailed off, also confused. Scorpius tried to understand, but it wasn’t making any sense.

‘So…how does this change anything? If you thought he was in danger and something this drastic was necessary, then isn’t he still in danger, no matter what else has happened? Nast, none of this is making sense.’

‘I know! I can’t help it! Uh…’

She was still rubbing fiercely at her eyes. Scorpius waited a second, then took her hands again, forcing her to look at him.

‘Alright, so it makes no sense and its stupid and we’re all just a bunch of fools that got caught up in it.’

His smile had a hollow, bitter cast to it that made Anastacia remember Celeste’s words.

What about Rose? Last night was so very difficult for her.

Seemed like Rose hadn’t been the only one who’d found their playacting difficult.

‘Where do we go from here?’

It took a moment to realise the question was directed at her. When she did realise, she shrugged.

‘I don’t know. I guess we just have to make it up as we go along. Although,’ and she smiled, ‘I think it safe to say that our…relationship…has probably reached the end of its usefulness.’

Scorpius laughed softly.

‘You’re probably right. So…what will you do now?’

She stood, finally making a decision.

‘I’ll see you at lunch.’

Scorpius also stood, eyeing her resolved expression warily.

‘You don’t want to walk down with me?’

‘No, you go. Tell the rest of them that it’s…over between us.’

‘What would you suggest? Strong and stoic? Or heaving mess of emotion?’

The cheap joke raised a slight smile, at least.

‘Possibly the former? Just a suggestion, but I have a feeling that my guards aren’t likely to respect their new leader if he turns into a wreck from a simple relationship breakdown.’

Scorpius smiled as he bowed, and left to do as she’d said. For her part, Anastacia waited until she was alone in the room to pull out the thing she’d been hiding in her pocket during the conversation.

Laying the letter on the table, she took out her wand and muttered a charm. The letter disappeared from sight. She had full faith in her abilities, and if everything went to plan, it should now be lying under the Christmas tree she knew full well would be gracing the Gryffindor common room.

She’d done all she could. Now, the rest was up to him.

 

 
 

 

 

 






 

Christmas lunch at Hogwarts wasn’t usually a grand affair, as most students spent those holidays at home. This year, however, with the majority of the students from sixth year upwards remaining at school, the Hogwarts houselves had outdone themselves.

Many of the decorations from the ball were still up, but the four House tables had reappeared and were also festooned with holly, pinecones and other garlands.

All around the Hall, students were in varying stages of consciousness. Many people looked worse for wear from the night before, whether due to fatigue or…other reasons.

Anastacia was one of those who claimed the former as their excuse. The bruise-like dark circles under her eyes were thanks to a lack of sleep rather than an excess of alcohol. She entered the Hall quietly and stood for a moment by the door, considering.

She didn’t have to sit with Scorpius and the others. Apart from the fact that he would have told the rest of the Guard about the end of their fake relationship by now, it was also a holiday, and no one would really be watching her.

But she couldn’t sit with her old friends…could she?

As luck would have it, Margie and Jaya were sitting a little way from the Potters, Weasleys and associates, deep in conversation. Anastacia, her heart lightening just a little, made her way towards them.

They looked up as she drew closer, and for a moment the pale girl felt a flicker of worry. They had every right to turn her away now. Her perceived rejection of James last night hadn’t just been against him – it could be seen as a rejection of their whole circle, these girls included.

But Margie and Jaya simply smiled and made room for her to sit between them. As she sank down gratefully onto the bench, both girls looped their arms around her and held their friend tightly.

‘It’s been too long,’ Jaya said simply.

‘Much too long,’ Margie agreed, ‘we’ve missed you.’

‘I missed you too,’ Anastacia replied quietly, then took a breath and hurried on, before she lost her nerve, ‘look, about last night–’

‘What about it?’ Margie interrupted smoothly.

Anastacia stared at her smiling face, then turned to look at Jaya, who wore an equally bright expression.

‘Th-the fight,’ she continued unsurely, ‘with James…’

‘Hmm, he did get a little out of hand, didn’t he?’ Jaya mused, ‘Bless him, we haven’t had a Quidditch match in ages – I think it’s making him a little mental.’

‘Just like a man,’ Margie agreed, ‘taking out frustration on someone else. We should have given him a punching bag or a cage of Cornish pixies for Christmas.’

When Anastacia gave her a look, she blinked innocently.

‘It would have given him something to do, at least. Speaking of presents, yours is upstairs. I’ll send it over after tea. I wasn’t sure how you’d be feeling this morning.’

‘What’s going on?’Anastacia demanded, at a complete loss, ‘Why are you doing this? It’s bizarre!’

Jaya pressed her hand gently.

‘You’ve had some bad days. We all have. There have been rumours and stories and lots of people have been hurt, all of us included. But we don’t want to lose you.’

‘You’re our friend,’ Margie agreed, ‘and although you can be a right twat,’ and she gave the other girl a playful shove, ‘you’re our twat. If there’s a problem, like there seems to be now, we want to be there for you, no matter what.’

‘And today, our being there for you is forcing you to forget about everything that’s already happened and enjoy the holiday, carbs and all,’ Jaya laughed, piling both their plates high with the food that had just appeared on the table.

Margie held out a Christmas cracker with a cheesy smile, and Anastacia found herself giving in to their injunction, despite herself.

With a laughing sigh, she pulled the cracker.

Jaya and Margie’s ploy of distraction worked well all throughout the meal, and Anastacia was just recovering from a fit of giggles as the room around her began to quiet down. Looking up, she saw the Headmaster standing in his place at the staff table, smiling out across the room.

The noise and chatter throughout the Hall faded to a low hum, then died out altogether. Neville was beaming down on the assorted students, his round face split by a wide smile.

‘Merry Christmas, everyone!’ he called out happily, and was met with a chorus that ranged from murmurs to exuberant cries of reply.

‘I hope you all had a wonderful time last night, those of you who attended, and that everyone was pleasantly surprised when they woke up this morning. I have some very good news for you all, news that I was planning to keep until the beginning of term, when the rest of the school joined us again. However, the rest of the staff and I have decided that it can not wait.’

This was a surprise. Usually, the Headmaster gave her at least passing prior knowledge when he was going to tell the school something. Anastacia looked at the rest of the Professors, and saw mixed expressions. Professor Phariseen’s face in particular was conflicted, as if he wasn’t completely in agreement with what the Headmaster was about to say.

 ‘As you will all know by this time, Miss Anastacia Sangraal has been acting in her capacity as Head Girl alone for some time, now. While everyone can see that she is perfectly capable, the teaching staff have nevertheless been engaged in finding a person to assist her. That person will take up the position of Head Boy.’

Anastacia gave a start upon hearing her name mentioned, then another when she registered the subject matter of the Headmaster’s talk. This wasn’t just important, it was huge! Why hadn’t he told her about this in advance? Surely this was something she should know about!

 ‘I assure you that we have considered the appointment at length,’ Neville was continuing, ‘and we’ve come to a consensus.’

Well, at the end of the day, could anyone really be worse than Marcus? Yes, she hadn’t been told, but the Headmaster had said that he hadn’t meant to tell people today. Maybe he’d been planning to tell her, and had just let his enthusiasm run away with him. Which suggested that the chosen person was considerably better than Marcus, so that was a relief, at least.

‘Without further ado, students, I present to you your new Head Boy, James Potter!’

There was stunned silence throughout the Hall as every face turned towards the Gryffindor table. Then, like a wave, applause and cheering spread through the room.

Anastacia felt like she’d been punched in the stomach, literally. She was distantly aware of the good feeling coursing through the room, could hear people around her cheering and laughing, but she couldn’t seem to connect.

She tried to breathe, but couldn’t. Her lungs were refusing to work, but she stubbornly kept trying, again, again…again…

Finally, she managed to drag in a gasping breath, one that rapidly turned into a cough. In the noise and commotion, she managed to hide it, and dazedly started to clap. Luckily enough, her survival instincts had started to kick in and as a result she didn’t really have to consciously think about acting the same as everyone else.

She looked wildly up the table, searching through the red and blonde heads until she found one with dark hair.

James looked just as shocked as she felt, which made her feel a little better. Obviously, the Headmaster hadn’t thought to discuss this with him, either. He’d probably assumed James would have just accepted happily.

Who wouldn’t? After being offered the most prestigious, privileged position in the school, who would be fool enough to refuse?

James seemed to be searching for something amongst the crowd…or someone… Seeing the direction his gaze was starting to take, Anastacia quickly dropped her own to the table. She may have managed to avoid his eyes, but she could feel his gaze find her, rake her. Consume her.

Whatever blood had been in her face drained completely, and she fought a shiver that leapt up her spine.

A hand on her arm made her jump and recalled her to her surroundings. She turned to see Margie staring at her worriedly.

‘Are you okay?’ she asked in concern, her voice raised to be heard over the continuing noise.

Stac nodded, and took in another steadying breath.

‘I’m fine,’ she added, trying to smile, ‘just fine.’

And she was…outwardly. With her mind letting go, years and years of training were able to take over. Even though she could still feel his eyes on her, she could ignore it somewhat and focus her energy on deciding a course of action.

Which she did, not listening to a word of the Headmaster’s explanation that came next. She felt rather than heard the loud roar of her Head of House as he called for silence and dimly registered that the Headmaster was talking.

Another touch on her arm woke her from her planning, and she looked up to see the students gradually emptying from the Hall. James had already left, as had a good deal of his family, but the students around them were, of course, speaking of nothing else.

Jaya and Margie traded looks, then Margie opened her mouth to enquire of her friend’s well-being, but Anastacia spoke before she could.

‘Really, I’m fine,’ she protested, ‘a little shocked, but fine.’

‘We’re all shocked,’ Jaya agreed, ‘I don’t think anyone saw that coming.’

The pale girl just nodded, and Margie took her hand.

‘Come back to the room with us? You’ve not been up there for ages.’

Anastacia shook her head slowly.

‘Much as I’d like to, I don’t think I’m really welcome there at the moment. Besides…I have something I have to do.’

She smiled at them as best she could.

‘Maybe after? I’ll see.’

With a squeeze of Margie’s hand, she left, joining the lines of students pouring out the doors into the Entrance hall.

Before she’d even reached the stairs up to the first floor, Scorpius was by her side, taking her hand and helping her up the steps. She didn’t try to make him stop, didn’t waste time trying to send him away. If she was going to try and convince the Headmaster to go back on his decision, she couldn’t waste her energy on anything else.

Because he had to go back on the decision, of course. James couldn’t be Head Boy anymore than she could publically be seen as his friend. Sending a letter and attempting to repair bridges in private was one thing, but this was something else completely.

And if she couldn’t make the Headmaster see that, without explaining everything to him, well, then, she’d just have to try something else. Like resigning her own position…although she hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

To Anastacia’s great surprise, Albus met her on her way up to the Headmaster’s office. He nodded briefly to Scorpius, who looked just as shocked as Anastacia.

‘Mind if I borrow Stac for a moment? I promise it won’t take long.’

Scorpius paused, weighing up the options. No one was around, no one would see…

‘Alright, but only shortly. And don’t go too far.’

Albus took Stac’s arm and led her a little further along the corridor, so that they were out of earshot.

‘Before you go haring off to demand James be removed from his post, think about this for a moment.’

‘Albus, what are you talking–’

‘I know about the letter,’ he interrupted. When she looked pained, he hurried to explain.

‘James was reading it when I came into the common room. He gave it to me to look at. Stac, it really cut him up.’

‘He threw it away, didn’t he?’ she whispered, the colour leaching from her face. Well, now, at least she knew. But Albus was shaking his head.

‘No, he didn’t. He was going to, but he didn’t.’

Reaching out, he took one of her hands in both of his.

‘He still cares for you, Stac, even though it’d kill him to show it. But you have to know that. Don’t give up on him just yet. Maybe this is a chance for him to get his head back in the right place.’

He squeezed the pale, cold hands suddenly lifeless in his own.

‘Think of this as…a second chance, for the both of you. I’ve got no idea what’s going on, and truth be told, I don’t really care anymore. All I know is that you’ve both stuffed up along the way. But forget about it. Take this chance. Don’t throw it away.’

Stac stared up at him with an expression of pure shock. Whatever she’d been expecting him to say, it clearly hadn’t been that. Then, Albus compounded her surprise by leaning in and pecking her quickly on the cheek.

‘As far as I’m concerned, you’ve always been one of us,’ he explained affectionately, ‘and you can’t get rid of us that easily.’

Still holding her hand, he towed her back to where Scorpius stood, expressionless, leaning against the wall.

‘That’s it. You can have her back now.’

‘No, you can’t.’

That was Stac. Her expression still abstracted, she waved away Scorpius’ proffered arm.

‘There’s something I have to do. Alone,’ she emphasised when the pale blonde boy straightened, ready to accompany her.

Without waiting for a reply, she continued down the corridor towards the Headmaster’s office.

Both the boys watched her leave. When she’d rounded the corner, Albus turned to Scorpius with a light sigh.

‘Think once this is all sorted, we could be mates again?’

The other boy’s face was anguished.

‘Al…’

‘It’s alright,’ Albus offered placating, ‘I know you’ve had bigger things to worry about lately, but...’

He trailed off, and the unsaid words hung between them, clear as day.

I miss my best mate.

Guys didn’t talk about feelings. They just thought about them very loudly.

Scorpius tried for a smile, failed, and settled for clapping his friend on the shoulder. In unspoken agreement, they headed in companionable silence to the kitchens.

Maybe they could con the houselves out of some of the teacher’s leftover eggnog.

  

 

 

 






Anastacia was nearly running by the time she reached the small corridor outside the Headmaster’s office. She had bolted up the stairs, not even bothering to return the gargoyle’s affectionate greeting, and was now hurrying towards the door as fast as her legs would carry her.

Without pausing to knock, she grasped the handle and turned, fully intending to launch straight into her tirade the moment the door opened.

Only…

She wasn’t expecting James to be there. She’d thought he’d be off celebrating with the rest of the House, or lording it over his relations, or something.

She certainly didn’t expect him to be sitting in a chair in front of the Headmaster’s desk, looking for all the world like a little boy caught doing something wrong.

And even the Headmaster’s usually calm and serene expression was unusually ruffled. What was that about? What had they been discussing?

Stupid question. Of course they’d been talking about her. She wondered what James had told Neville already. He was an old family friend – she expected he’d take James’ side, no matter what story he told.

All these thoughts passed in the time it took to blink her surprise once. Then Anastacia became aware of her position – standing, frozen, in the doorway, her hand still on the doorknob.

‘Ah…H-headmaster…I’m sorry, I’ll wait outside.’

She turned to leave, trying to get away from the many eyes staring at her from all around the room, but Professor Longbottom called her back before she could go.

‘No, no, please, come in. it seems I have to talk to the both of you, anyway.’

He looked at James, then, and there seemed to be something significant about the look, but Anastacia was rather preoccupied, so she didn’t follow it too closely.

She took a seat in front of the desk, which placed her next to James. Luckily, he didn’t try to catch her eye as she sat down. Instead, he stared at Neville, who was regarding them both shrewdly.

Thinking that this was a good idea, Anastacia followed suit and fixed her eyes firmly on the Headmaster’s face.

 ‘Listen to me, you two, because I’m only going to say this once – I don’t care what has happened between the two of you. I don’t care about any petty fight you’ve had, or anything you’ve said. It doesn’t bother me at all. What will bother me is if it affects your ability to work together. Because, like it or not, you are going to be working together. The decision has been made and it is final. So now you both need to step up and be adults.’

He sighed and leaned back in his chair.

‘I’m not asking you to like each other, although it saddens me that two people who used to be such good friends now won’t even look at each other. But you will do your duty by this school and by me.’

There was no reply. Anastacia was speechless. When he put it like that… It made everything she’d done sound so…childish, and inconsequential. He was right, and if there was one thing she knew about, it was duty. But, unlike her home life, this duty hadn’t been thrust upon her. She’d worked for it, sacrificed for it, and gladly accepted it.

Now it was time to show she deserved it.

But she still didn’t know what to say. So she said nothing.

Neville sighed and stood up.

‘Work something out. If you can’t be friendly, at least be civil. But make it work.’

Walking around the desk, he strode out of the room and shut the door behind him, leaving two stunned students sitting silently in his wake.

Anastacia was the first to speak.

‘I…I guess he’s serious, then?’ she tried. Her voice sound strange and forced. How bizarre, she thought, to feel…strange about talking to James.

Still, there was no reply. Why won’t he say something?

‘I guess…we just have to do as he says. You know, make it work. Be civil.’

She held out a slightly shaking hand.

‘Friends?’

James finally turned in his chair. He eyed her outstretched hand dubiously, then raised hazel eyes to her face.

‘Maybe not. Let’s work on…acquaintances first, shall we?’

Her heart sinking, Anastacia tried to smile. Yes, it wasn’t what she wanted, but it was something.

‘Sure. Acquaintances.’

They shook hands lightly, both steeling themselves against the shock that the contact brought, both doing their best not to let on, both dropping hands as soon as possible. As soon as they had, James stood up quickly.

‘I’ve got to…go…somewhere…’ he gestured vaguely out to the corridor and started to leave.

‘I’ll see you at the party, then?’ she called out as he left.

James mumbled some sort of a response and stumbled away. The moment he left the room, Anastacia slumped in her chair, all the tension that had been holding her upright leaking away.

‘What am I going to do?’ she mused quietly, her head dropping onto the back of the chair, her eyes closed.

‘How long until that party?’

Anastacia sat bolt upright. That voice…dry, practical, so very familiar…

Professor McGonagall?’ she whispered wonderingly.

‘I asked you a question, Miss Sangraal,’ the voice continued.

Swivelling in her chair, Anastacia came face to face with her old Headmistress…staring down at her from one of the walls.

‘Professor…I didn’t know you had a portrait here.’

‘A fairly recent addition. How long until this party that you speak of?’

‘Uh…five days? Why do you ask?’

‘Well, that seems to give you plenty of time.’

‘For what?’

 ‘To prepare yourself.’

Anastacia was still at a loss to understand where the conversation was headed.

Pardon, I’m not sure what you mean. What are you suggesting?’

‘My dear, I am suggesting that you use your time wisely, as befits a woman in your current position.’

The portrait gazed benevolently down at her, spectacles winking and features softened into a slight smile.

‘For a start, I suggest that you go and find a simply marvellous dress…’

 

 

 






 

 



Hmm...one to go...

So! Any thoughts on the future? Anyone think they know what my big lead-up is leading-up to? Any theories? Would love to hear them, so let me know!

Have so much coursework to do, but luckily for you, the next chapter is already written! So all you have to wait for is the queue and it shall be out to you promptly, my darlings! Hope you've enjoyed everything so far!

Ta!

  
 
 
 
 
 
 

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