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Scorpius’s POV

“The murder,” Rose said quietly, her beautiful blue eyes serious, toning her voice down. She leaned close to me, and my heart raced like a freight train about to crash – painful, sudden, and exhilarating – at how near she was to me. “I really shouldn’t be telling anyone this, but you’re bound to get it from your dad sooner or later.”

“Why? What does my dad have to do with this?”

“Well, it’s a little personal for him,” she began slowly. “That part he can tell you...and it’s confidential information, so don’t go chatting up whoever with this.”

I rolled my eyes. “Really, Weasley, a little trust would be nice,” I said coolly. “Of course I won’t tell a soul.”

Rose looked around nervously, then started to whisper. “A woman’s body was discovered about a week ago in Albania, and that rings a bell for Uncle Harry for some reason. What’s more, the woman used to go to Hogwarts. Same year as your dad and mine. She disappeared almost twenty years back.”

“And the major significance of this is?” I asked, knowing she was holding something back, and Rose paled.

“She was killed by Dark magic, apparently. Mum and Dad and Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny all won’t talk about it, though. They only told us that much because they wanted to prepare us for the news articles that are definitely going to be written.”

“Not to be flippant about matters of life and death or anything, but this doesn’t sound that unusual,” I pointed out reasonably. “There is still the odd act of Dark magic every now and then. Sometimes, people die – “

“When Uncle Harry’s worried, something’s wrong,” Rose interrupted flatly. There really wasn’t anything I could say to that, because Rose was right. Mr. Potter was a hard man to shake. Hell, if I’d been constantly under attack and my life forever at risk since I was eleven, I would’ve been pretty damn imperturbable as well. This was Harry Potter. Something was wrong.

“Are you worried?” I asked her, changing tack. I’d never seen her afraid before in my life. She was an anchor in my life. Always strong, fiery, determined.

She didn’t say anything. Her gaze was downcast; her rippling folds of red hair fell to hide her face, and I couldn’t help it. No one was here to see us, and the intimacy we shared at the moment, being utterly on the same wavelength, had a pull I couldn’t resist. I reached up and gently brushed her curls out of her face. The tip of my finger grazed her skin, and we both jumped in shock.

“Sorry,” I apologized quickly, bright red. We matched. Rose was like a tomato: red and red and every color in between.

“’S fine,” she mumbled, her hand straying to the spot I touched and rubbing it softly. I stared at this gesture of sentimentality. She, sensing my sensitivity with an acuteness no other girl possessed, immediately stopped.

“Um, hey,” I said awkwardly, “wanna go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend, after the whole champions thing’s announced? Three Broomsticks, my treat.”

Rose blushed even more vividly, if that was possible. Had I ever mentioned she was cute when she was embarrassed?

“Yeah,” she said in a tiny voice. I grinned at her, elation ripping through my body. It was all I could do not to jump up and exclaim, Yes! I was almost at first base!

 

 


Alyssa’s POV

“Get dressed for the feast already,” Jen snapped at me, her golden locks making a halo of light around her face. “I’m glad to see you stop moping, btw.”

I couldn’t blame her for being mad at me, so I slipped on my indigo colored dress. It was a short, strapless number that Delilah reassured me would make Alex Kimball jealous. Ha. As if I cared about Kimball. No, the person I really wanted to make sorry was Potter. I’d show him that I wasn’t affected by his hurtful words in the least. So I primped my hair and curled my eyelashes with a furious kind of energy that sent everyone about ten feet away.

Taylor, on the other hand, was careful to remain about fifty feet away. I had no patience whatsoever for her anymore, and she’d felt it when I’d actually hexed her with a super-powerful Jelly Legs Jinx that made her wobble for three days.

I jammed my wide duck feet into a pair of black velvety ballet flats. As insanely mad as I was, I did have some sense of self-preservation, staying away from stilettos being one of those impulses. Live life as she would have wanted you to live it.

“Um, Lizzi, are you okay?” asked Delilah hesitantly.

“Yeah, peachy,” I replied in a falsely happy voice. I nearly ripped my translucent, gauzy shawl as I wrapped it around my bare shoulders.

“Your flats are on the wrong feet,” she pointed out. I swore and rearranged them accordingly. Getting up, I tripped over a spare trunk and went tumbling to the floor. Jen raised her eyebrows but kept silent.

“Stupid, damn shoes,” I nearly yelled, holding my throbbing foot and hopping around comically. The entire room erupted into laughter at my one-scene comedy act. See what I can do without high heels? Now imagine me in them. I figured that the castle would be burning down.

Sabrina Taylor sniffed in a far corner of the room. I ignored her, limping towards my dresser to grab my patent leather clutch. “Wanna leave now?”

“I guess,” said Jen, inserting her chandelier earrings. “You don’t have a date, though, Lizzi.”

I stopped in my tracks. She was right. I didn’t, and both of my friends did. That meant I’d been tagging along as the third – or seventh, since Yelena was celebrating her 20th anniversary of being married to food – wheel.

“I’ll figure that out when we get there,” I said quickly, refusing to think about it and moving towards the door.

 


“Lance!” Delilah said, tremendous delight imbuing that one syllable word.

“Hey, Delilah,” he greeted her. “You look amazing.” Delilah blushed; she really had it for this guy.

“Thanks.”

Only two or three feet away, Jen sighed contentedly, her head resting on Michael’s broad shoulders. I looked at Mike critically. He was tall and handsome, but his face was too short, his nose too big, his stance not wide enough, his hair too neat, his eyes not green –

Did I just think that? Temporary insanity, I assure you. Because I am not that shallow.

My friends were both happily caught in lip-locks with their dates, and I was feeling more than slightly out of place. Casting my gaze around, I sought my escape and found it in the form of a flaming crop of red hair.

I rushed towards my potential savior before I lost my nerve.

“Hey, Kent, youwanttobemydateforthedance?” I said really fast. He stared at me.

“What?”

“Youwanttobemydateforthedance?” I repeated. Why did I say that? He was going to think I was a lunatic. His jaw dropped.

“Did I hear you, the reclusive Lizzi Leilani, ask me to the Interhouse event?”

“Yes,” I stammered softly, my moment of craziness past. He looked at me inquisitively for a few more awkward seconds that seemed to last an eternity, then broke into a smile that lit up his entire face. A mischievous glint shone in his clear blue eyes.

“Of course I’ll be your date. I can’t pass up the chance to spend a night with a beautiful girl, can I?” he said smoothly. I don’t know where I got the courage from, but I managed to laugh at his outrageous attempt to sweet talk me.

“Shut up, you prat,” I said, rolling my eyes. “But before you go any further with your plan of somehow Imperiusing me into getting in a broom closet with you, I just want to say that I’m only looking for a one night fling. One time, no commitments. Is that okay with you?”

He smiled amusedly at my bluntness. “That’s usually my line, you know,” he informed me. “But it sounds perfect. I don’t mean to be offensive or anything – “

“I provided a perfect escape for you, didn’t I?” I said knowingly, watching Malfoy make out with some curvy brunette, Albus with Sabrina Taylor (that skank...she wasn’t wearing a dress so much as wearing a few scraps of cloth tied together in a knot at her back that looked like it would come undone any second), and Hugo Weasley hold hands with a tiny girl that looked and dressed like Tinker Bell. “Trust me, I know.” I looked pointedly at Delilah and Jen. Yelena had flat out refused to come until it was dinner.

“Yeah,” he said, sounding relieved that we’d come to a mutual understanding. I grinned up at him. This would work better than I’d imagined: Kent Weasley was courteous, charming, and handsome. I could do worse.

And he would make a certain boy jealous.

I shook my head and tossed that thought out of the window. Where had that come from? I wasn’t trying to make anyone jealous.

“Want to come sit with me at the Gryffindor table?” asked Kent, interrupting my reverie. I stared at him, taken aback by his offer. Was that even allowed? But my main deterrent was the fact that Potter was sitting there, and I couldn’t trust myself not to use an Unforgivable at the moment.

“No, sorry, but feel free to come sit with me at the Ravenclaw table,” I replied cheekily. Kent laughed. I was surprised; I was actually enjoying myself, not feeling any of that disloyalty to my mum whenever I’d tried to be happy the last week.

“Sure,” he agreed, amiable as always. Thank God he wasn’t moody. I felt a sharp tug on my arm.

“’Scuse me for a second,” I said, silently fuming at Delilah.

“Alright.”

“What?” I snapped at Delilah the moment we were out of earshot. She gawked at me.

“What? You’re with Kent Weasley!”

“So?”

“You didn’t tell me you knew him! I’m starting to suspect that you’re a long-lost member of the Potter-Weasley family by now, you know.”

“I would hope not, because I’m dating a member of the Potter-Weasleys, and it would be sorta awkward if we were brother and sister or something,” I said very reasonably. “And I don’t know him. We talked, like, once during some class and he seemed interested, so I asked him to go to the dance with me.”

“You asked him?”

“Yeah.”

“And he agreed?”

“Yeah,” I said again. “What’s so odd about that?”

“Well, usually the Potter-Weasley guys have this whole male pride thing where they have to ask,” Delilah said, sounding surprised. I sighed.

“I’ll go ask him about his chauvinistic impulses if you want me to,” I promised. It was the least I could do after her putting up with my semi-depression for so long. Delilah snickered.

“That’ll work great for your relationship,” she said.

“Yep. After I insult him about being a chauvinist, I will then tell him he’s completely nutters and hex him,” I explained. “That’s going to make him want to marry me, and then we can have little Kennettes and Lizettes running around!”

Delilah was having a laughing fit. “That’s a little creepy when you think of it,” she choked out. “Imagine having Potter as your cousin-in-law and keeping your hands off him...”

The mere mention of Potter’s name killed the mood.

“Oh, God,” I muttered before trudging back to Kent who was waiting for me, very patiently I might add.

“Any chance of you telling me what was so hysterically funny?” he asked me, hands crossed over his chest.

“Nope,” I said calmly. He raised an eyebrow.

“Was it about me?”

“Well...”

“Bloody hell,” he muttered, swaying to one side and feigning faintness. “I feel so weak...”

“Snap out of it,” I said, but I couldn’t help a silly grin spreading across my face. “You make me feel weak...as in the I’m going to collapse due to your atrocious acting skills kind of weak.”

Kent stopped tilting and frowned at me. “That bad?”

“Nah, just kidding,” I reassured him. “C’mon, sit.” Obediently, he sank into a chair. For the first time, I let myself admire him.

He had that signature Weasley hair in a rusty shade, and it was cropped close to his head in a neat crew cut. Freckles dotted his face if one looked closely, though it was hard to tell with his tan, and his face wasn’t anything to be turned off by. Far from it. Plus, he had one hot body.

So why didn’t I feel anything? Why wasn’t there any racing of the heart, any nervousness, and tingling? In place of these usual signs that told one that they cared, there was...nothing. And I understood then at that moment that I was broken; my world hit too hard for me to care about such frivolities anymore.

Perhaps you might wonder at the loss I undertook having such an impact. Perhaps you might go as far as to say I was overreacting.

It was funny, to think about it objectively, yet that was what I managed to do, to look at the matter as if it was someone else’s life. A stranger’s life: to examine it closely, clinically, methodically, to understand why.

I had never known my father. My only memories were of my mother and I playing at the beach when I was three, going to primary school holding her hand, playing Chutes and Ladders with her, and then, as I grew up, shopping and talking, moaning about the faults of the opposite sex. We were close as sisters despite the age difference. Yet we were not so sisterly that I’d lost my respect for her as the mother, not so sisterly that she wasn’t my compass, my map, my guide. When I’d lost her, the ground had been ripped out from my feet. It’d shown me a harsher world, in which I was now floating, discombobulated and alone.

Single and solitary, disillusioned and cold. To think that anyone could have killed my mother. A fiery pit formed at the bottom of my stomach, and rage flooded through me. Why her?

I would get my revenge on her killer. And thus, cheesy as it sounds but nevertheless true, in my mind my grief slowly transformed into the hot passion of anger, the cold vengeance I’d sworn. I wasn’t healed, but I’d glued myself together, and that was what counted. The door to my heart clicked shut and I hurled the key far, far away.

 

 

My cheerfully morbid thoughts were, thankfully, chased away when Kent placed his hand over mine. I jumped at the contact, my hand automatically slipping to my wand. It didn’t feel right. His palms were too smooth, and didn’t show any signs of wear.

“Earth to Lizzi,” he joked, his blue eyes looking at me. They were shallower than I was accustomed to. Simple is best, I told myself.

“Sorry.”

“Alyssa? Alyssa Leilani?” interrupted a tiny, nervous looking third year. I smiled at her.

“That’s me,” I said lightly, noting the parchment she was holding. She looked at me and Kent tentatively, blushing.

“Alex Kimball says to give this to you,” she said, and I stiffened. Alex. Well, I didn’t have time to worry about him or his type.

“Thank you,” I said calmly as I could manage, plucking the paper from her head.

“No problem,” she mumbled before backing away. I turned to Kent and waited until she was out of earshot.

“Am I really that intimidating?” I asked very seriously, making Kent chuckle.

“You are,” he said playfully. “Star student, prettiest girl in Ravenclaw house, and did I mention that you are Kent Weasley’s date?”

I snorted, inhaling half my butterbeer, then smacked him on the arm.

“Shut up,” I coughed as he whacked my back and I erupted into giggles. The minute I calmed down, I unfolded the note. I wasn’t interested in the least in what Kimball had to say, so I knew that if I didn’t bother to do it now, I never would.

Alyssa,
I regret to inform you that you have not made the House Quidditch team.

Ravenclaw Captain,
Alex Kimball

“What a load of baloney,” I commented, rolling my eyes. It wasn’t as if I actually cared anymore.

Kent sputtered at the words.

“He’s just mad that you wouldn’t dance with him!” Kent exclaimed. I raised an eyebrow.

“How would you know that? I mean, I could be terrible at Quidditch...”

“Heard Taylor was the only opposition for Seeker, and you can’t do worse then her,” smirked Kent. “Here’s to Gryffindor having an easy championship this year.”

Perhaps it was petty of me, but I raised my glass to his.

“May the better team win,” I said as we toasted each other with a clinking noise. I would root for the Gryffs if Delilah and Jen weren’t on the Ravenclaw team, with no disrespect to Ravenclaw, of course. It was more my contempt of Alex Kimball and Sabrina Taylor speaking; they should have been Slytherins, not Ravenclaws, I thought coolly. They had no drive to learn, only ambition and cunning...or that was true in Taylor’s case, at least. Kimball had no brains, no cunning, and no ambition, nothing except attitude. He should have been a Squib.

Not, of course, that I have anything against Squibs in general. Apart from the fact that Filch is one, that is. Speaking of which...I need to do some research. My sources say that Filch has been around since the time of dinosaurs. Do Squibs live longer?

“So,” said Kent, “how’s school?”

“It’s alright. I’m a little behind in my classes.” I neglected to mention why.

“Wait, you? No way!” exclaimed Kent. I sighed.

“Way.”

“Are the teachers insane? Because – “

Kent’s very flattering diatribe was cut up as McGonagall stepped up to the podium and cleared her throat. It was quite dim in the Great Hall, so the streaks of fiery light arcing from her left hand immediately caught your eye. I gasped almost against my will. I couldn’t help it; it’d finally dawned on me that this was the cup and the tournament. Sure, cynics like me could say it was just a media fest, but when you actually saw the thing, you could feel it, feel the centuries of mystique and legend surrounding the ritualistic competition, taste the magic in the air, and be enveloped and swept away by the misty excitement it held.

A rush of excitement coursed through me, filling every niche and particle in my body, and I laughed for no apparent reason, caught in the moment.

“You okay?” asked Kent quietly, seeming a little concerned at my temporary insanity.

My momentary giddiness had evaporated into tiny little dust balls drifting in the atmosphere.

“Yeah,” I whispered, as calmly as I could manage. “Of course I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be? Just a little...hyper, that’s all.”

Kent choked on his pumpkin juice.

“You. Hyper. Those words don’t belong in the same sentence,” he finally wheezed out after a few moments, shaking his head. I frowned at him.

“Why?”

“Because you’re...you. You’re Lizzi Leilani, the mystery girl. The paradox, the enigma, the genius– “

I rolled my eyes and held up a hand.

“Well, some of that enigma has just been unraveled,” I told him sharply. He laughed, cleaning the table with his wand.

“I suppose, eh?”

“Someone very wise once told me,” I said in perfect seriousness, “that there is only one ‘i’ in ‘platitude.’”

Kent, being the height of brilliance, started counting the letters on his fingers.

“That person also told me that there are four ‘i’s in ‘platitude quoting idiot.’”

Today’s experiment has definitely proved something: that brains do not always come with looks, because it took Kent a few more fingers to realize what I meant and throw a miniature pumpkin at me. I caught it, to my surprise.

“Quiet!” yelled Professor McGonagall, and I flushed as everyone turned to stare at me and Kent. Kent, however, was utterly unperturbed.

“You may continue, my dear professor,” he said dismissively, waving a hand, and the students snickered softly in their seats. McGonagall was not amused.

“That’s thirty points from Gryffindor,” she said, ignoring Kent’s horrified yelp. “Now, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted – “ I blushed even harder at this – “I was about to introduce the other students. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, may I call upon...Beauxbatons!”

Sure enough, the lights faltered and a spotlight shone to review a parade of fifty some pretty girls with shiny hair followed by a few adoring guys. Kent, I noticed, was completely focused on their boobs. I sighed. What a shallow airhead. It was quite unfortunate; he would have been great as an occasional date when I needed one.

Suddenly, the girl in the lead turned her head, and we locked eyes.

She was a statuesque brunette, tall and large eyed and with flawless tanned skin and a figure that would have very well suited a model, but I could see some tiny hints of red in her waist length hair. She was beautiful, certainly, yet that wasn’t what caught my attention. What did were her eyes. They were a pale, glittering blue, not warm, not icy, and filled with shock.

She broke the eye contact first, looking away to continue her strut. I couldn’t help feeling very weirded out. Why did she act like she knew me? And worse, why did I feel like I knew her?

Okay. I should really get myself expelled from Hogwarts A.S.A.P. and move to Antarctica to go belly flopping with the penguins, because this place was starting to freak me out.

The girls struck a ballet pose then filed off to one side. A rather big-boned, to say the least, woman joined them; she looked a bit gray. Hagrid waved at her, and she blushed slightly. I snickered. Hagrid and the Beauxbatons chaperone?

“And Durmstrang!” called Professor McGonagall, and the spotlight shone again. Neat rows of boys and girls dressed in dark red as opposed to the Beauxbatons periwinkle blue walked through, doing karate moves. I felt a small hand on my shoulder and jumped.

“You scared the hell outta me, Yelena!” I snapped at my friend. She shrugged, unrepentant.

“Whatever. Look at the Kung-fu Panda!” She pointed towards a round middle-aged man with a bristly black goatee. He was making rapid gestures with his pudgy, many ringed hands, and they were so choppy that he did remind me of Kung-fu Panda. I burst into laughter and was immediately shushed by an irate Delilah, who was really sucking all of this up. I clapped a hand over my mouth as I continued to giggle.

The candles above us flickered back on, and McGonagall took the stage again.

“We welcome you to Hogwarts!” she addressed the new arrivals. “Madame Maxine, Headmaster Igrotu, please stand!”

The pompous man in maroon stood self-importantly to unenthusiastic clapping from everyone except his students, who clapped so vigorously I got the sense that they would be doing extra homework, or maybe even detentions, if they didn’t. Madame Maxine, on the other hand, received a quite few catcalls and cheers; her own delegation genuinely respectful of her. McGonagall politely waited for the peanut gallery to shut up.

I shot daggers at Sabrina Taylor, who was busy making out with Albus again, out of the corner of my eye, but I’m pretty sure I missed. Hopefully the daggers sat least hit Albus.

I wasn’t jealous of her. It was just that they didn’t have to show their affection in front of the entire school. I felt my gag reflex starting to work it –

Oh, shit.

Sometimes, I’m too literal for my own good.
 

 

 

Author's Note:

Okay, I know the last chapter took forever to get up. Sorry about that. :(

And also, emo-Lizzi will be done with soon, thank God. I found this chapter and the ones around it ridiculously hard to write. :)

Something I'd like to make clear is why Alyssa doesn't just ask Al when they used to know each other. Or at least why Al thinks he knows her. The answer is: magic.

Thanks to all my readers!

-SG

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