I peeked my head out the passageway exit and into the hallway slowly, cautiously. As far as I could see, there was no one in sight.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I crept out from the empty space and stepped into the corridor. Turning, I pressed on the corner of the nearest portrait- a man called Hallows, who was usually waltzing around the space of the painting without a partner. He was a bit of an odd bugger.
Upon pressing the right spot on the frame, the wall closed itself over the hole from which I’d emerged, covering up the passageway.
Smiling to myself, I started down the hallway, making my way to the common room.
“How’d you find that?”
I whirled around with a shrill scream.
Albus Potter was staring at me, now clamping his hands over his ears. “Ow, bloody hell Rivers, you want to wake the whole castle?”
“Well don’t startle me then, Potter,” I snapped back. “What the hell are you doing out so late under that stupid cloak?”
His face went white. “I don’t know what you’re on about.”
I rolled my eyes. “Please, Potter, your brother’s let me use it before; I know it exists. And you weren’t anywhere in sight seconds before you spoke.”
“James bloody what now?” Albus demanded. “He’s not supposed to do that, it’s family only.”
“He said I was close enough,” I smirked. “Seeing as I spend more breaks with your family than my own.” Of course, spending them with my family wasn’t an option, but he didn’t need to know that. “Besides, do you expect me to believe you’ve never let Scorpius use it?”
He frowned. “Unbelievable. You haven’t told anyone, have you?”
I crossed my arms. “No, prat, I haven’t. Now I ask again- what are you stalking around at night for, Potter?”
I raised an eyebrow. “So I won’t be stuck listening to Liza Davies raving about shagging you during Potions tomorrow?”
“Jealous?” he taunted with a smirk.
“You wish,” I glared back. Arrogant prick.
“A little,” he shrugged, making me flush slightly. “Anyway, tell me about that passageway! Has that always been there?” He went over to the wall and rested a hand against it curiously.
“I’m not answering your questions,” I snapped.
“Does it have something to do with you living at Hogwarts full time?” he questioned.
I froze. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said automatically, but I was sure my initial facial expression had given me away.
He continued smirking. “Yeah you do. See, everyone else might be keen on buying your little tales about your so-called family and why you never see them for holidays- but I’ve caught on. I’ve never seen you on the train outside of breaks where you come to our place, there are cracks all over your ‘family stories,’ and the day we met, you were at Diagon Alley with Professor Mansir! You don’t have any family, do you?”
I concentrated hard on keeping myself from gaping like a fish. “I- Fine. I have no family. But that doesn’t prove that I live at Hogwarts.”
He merely shrugged. “Maybe not. But I have another very good reason to believe it. In fact, I’m certain of it.”
I shut my eyes tight as it dawned on me. “The map.”
“For fuck’s sake,” I heard him sigh. “Has my family told you every bloody secret of ours?”
“Why would you check the map during school breaks?” I asked, opening my eyes to glare at him again.
“Boredom,” he shrugged again. “I was hardly expecting to see anyone other than teachers show up, I opened it almost out of habit. But then there you were, strolling down the hallway in the middle of Christmas break.”
“When did you see that?” I frowned. “I haven’t stayed here for Christmas in years.”
“Third Year. But I’ve checked during some of the summers since, and you’ve kept appearing.”
“And you haven’t told anyone?” I narrowed my eyes in suspicion.
He smirked. “I was waiting until I could use the information to my advantage.” Figures. “And now a lovely opportunity has presented itself.”
“Because you want to know about the passageways.”
“Brilliant as always, Rivers,” he rolled his eyes. “Obviously. But I also want something else.”
“My living at Hogwarts isn’t a big enough secret to warrant anything more,” I growled.
“Really?” he raised his eyebrows. “Because you’ve been friends with Rose for, what, six years now? And Dom considers you more of a sister than Victoire at this point. And yet you’ve never told either of them, have you?”
I seethed, hating to be in this position, with Albus Potter of all people. Stupid git.
“Why not tell them, anyway?” he asked, surprisingly without his usual mirth. “I hardly think they’d care.”
“Your family has done enough for me, Potter,” I said quietly. “They already take me in for Christmas every year, and parts of summers sometimes too. I don’t need full time pity.”
He rolled his eyes. “They take you in because they like you Rivers, you know that.”
“Fine,” he smirked again. He leaned against the wall, his hands in his pockets. “Then in addition to revealing your secret passages, which I can’t believe aren’t on the map by the way, you have to owe me three favors.”
“What?” I hissed. “That’s insane.”
“Oh come on,” he argued. “You want me to keep your secret? Three favors, that’s my price.”
“Be reasonable,” I demanded.
“I am,” he insisted. “Look, they won’t be anything illegal, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
I looked around desperately for some sort of escape, but we were standing completely alone, in a dark, empty corridor, just outside the entrance to the common room. There was no help for me there- just a cool breeze blowing through the dungeons, shockingly cool for it being September.
“Nothing illegal,” I sighed, knowing I’d been beaten. “And nothing that could hurt someone.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Why would I have you hurt someone?”
“I don’t know,” I snapped. “I’m just drawing out limitations, here. Nothing illegal, nothing that would hurt anyone, and nothing that would completely humiliate me.”
Albus thought about it for a moment. “Alright. I would have quite liked to humiliate you, but I accept.”
He pushed himself away from the wall and held out a hand toward me. I stared at it distastefully for a moment before reaching out my own and clasping his. We shook briefly, him still smirking while I glowered back, before I pulled my hand away and rubbed it against the side of my robes, like I was trying to decontaminate myself.
He shot me a questioning look, to which I quipped, “Wasn’t sure if ‘prat’ was contagious- didn’t want to take any chances.”
He rolled his eyes. “You’re mental, Rivers.”
“Whatever,” I muttered, turning to enter the common room.
“Wait!” He called after me.
I paused before I could reach the door and utter the password. “What?” I demanded, turning back irritatedly.
“Why do you live at Hogwarts?” he asked in an uncharacteristically soft tone.
I frowned, and for one odd moment, actually considered telling him.
Coming to my senses, I decided against it and turned back to the door, quietly murmuring the password before running inside.
Small, eleven-year-old Taralyn could scarcely grasp the events of the day- just that morning, she’d thought she was going to have a perfectly normal day, raiding the kitchens, stopping by the library, maybe chatting with some interesting paintings. Now, she was strolling through Diagon Alley with her arms full of bags and a new wand in her pocket.
When she and Professor Mansir stopped at Gringotts, she hadn’t known what to expect. Her mum had lived in the Room of Requirement- how much money could she have? She was especially surprised, then, to find a pile of gold across her vault.
“Looks like your mum left you with more than enough to get you by,” Mansir had commented.
Taralyn had just stared at it all in confusion. “I don’t… I don’t understand,” she’d said back.
Who was her mother? She’d had more than enough money to provide for her daughter, apparently. So why had they lived in the castle? And why hadn’t she come back yet?
Taralyn shook the questions from her head as they moved on through Diagon Alley, collecting the rest of her school supplies.
Once she’s acquired a wand, a cauldron, a few other supplies and her books, she begged Mansir to let her look through the Quidditch supplies. She’d always found the sport intriguing- she spent countless hours watching Hogwarts students flying around from the castle windows.
The two browsed the store for a bit, Taralyn excitedly looking through the brooms for sale. “I could afford one!” She informed Mansir with a smile.
He rolled his eyes. “Doesn’t mean you should get one, Taralyn. First Years don’t usually make the Quidditch teams anyway- may as well save your money.”
She glared at him, but relented nonetheless, taking her hand off the handle of the broom she’d been admiring. A couple voices, suddenly, caught her attention.
“James, what do you need a broom for?” a young boy was asking. He looked about Taralyn’s age, with dark hair and bright green eyes. “You already have one.”
“For what I make the team, Al,” another boy rolled his eyes. He looked similar to the other one, though he was clearly a little older, and his eyes were darker. “I can hardly use that old thing I’ve been practicing on- I need something new to give me an edge.”
“Yeah, sure you’ll make the team,” the younger one snorted. “I watched you fall off your broom four times this summer.”
“Only because Fred pushed me off!” the other protested.
“If he gets a broom, I ought to too,” the young one looked up at a red-headed woman that Tara assumed to be their mother.
“Oh you ought to?” She raised her eyebrows. “Aren’t you both demanding today?”
“Please, Mum?” the older one pleaded.
“Maybe, James,” she smiled. “If you make the team, your father and I will consider buying you a new broom. Al, same will go for you if you want to try out.”
“Like he’d make it as a First Year,” the older one, James, snorted.
“I could!” the other exclaimed. “Dad did. You’re just annoyed because you didn’t.”
The mother rolled her eyes. “Alright, let’s keep moving, yeah? You still have books to pick up.”
“Hey look!” James pointed toward where Taralyn was standing. “It’s Professor Mansir.”
The two boys and their mother headed toward them. “Hi Dexter,” the woman smiled. “Didn’t see you there.”
“Wotcher, Ginny?” Mansir smiled. “Hi James. This your brother?”
James grinned. “Yeah, this is Albus.”
“Hello,” the younger one smiled politely.
“Is this one yours?” the woman, Ginny, asked, gesturing at Tara, who stood beside Mansir timidly.
He chuckled. “No, this is Taralyn. She’s just a First Year I’m helping since- er- her parents couldn’t make it.”
Ginny smiled, not having caught his stutter. “How nice!” She smiled down at Tara warmly. “Hi Taralyn. I’m Ginny Potter. Nice to meet you.”
“Hello,” Taralyn smiled back softly.
“Why couldn’t your parents take you?” James asked her.
“Don’t be nosy, James,” Ginny snapped. “Ignore him, love. These are my sons, James and Albus.”
Taralyn nodded to them politely.
Albus gave her a small wave, while James regarded her curiously. “Are you Muggleborn?”
Taralyn shook her head. “My mum’s a witch.” She wasn’t actually sure who her father was, but it didn’t matter to the question, so she said nothing more.
“And you don’t already know who we are?” Albus raised his eyebrows.
“Albus,” Ginny scolded.
“Should I?” Taralyn questioned, making Albus frown.
“You must not follow much news,” James said in a matter-of-fact voice. “We’re famous.”
“Bloody hell,” Ginny moaned. “Excuse my rude and oh-so-modest sons,” she sighed. “They take after their uncle.”
“It’s alright,” Taralyn smiled sweetly, before lowering her gaze to meet those of the two boys. “I don’t follow celebrities much. Are you two pageant girls?”
“Taralyn!” Mansir exclaimed.
The boys’ faces slipped into scowls, while their mother burst into laughter. “I like this one,” she grinned at Mansir. “Well, we better be going before anything escalates. It was absolutely lovely to meet you Taralyn.”
“You too,” Taralyn beamed. “Bye ladies,” she waved at James and Albus. The two glared at her as they departed, their mother still chuckling.
“How do you even know what a pageant is?” Mansir glanced down at Taralyn in amusement once the Potters were gone.
She shrugged. “I found it in a Muggle Studies book I stole out of the library once.”
“All your reading and you really didn’t know who that family was?” he asked as the two left the store and walked back out onto the road.
“No,” she shook her head. “I haven’t gotten past the 1980s in my history reading yet. Why? Who are they?”
“No reason,” Mansir smiled. “You’ll find out eventually.”
Professor Mansir had been right, of course. Taralyn met the Potter-Weasleys on her first day at Hogwarts, standing in the entrance hall. She’d recognized Albus and greeted him as “Pageant Boy,” to his irritation. The girl beside him, a redheaded girl with large brown eyes, had giggled at the name before introducing herself to Taralyn as Rose Weasley.
It wasn’t long after this interaction that she met the rest of the family.
It started with Dominique Weasley. Like Albus, Taralyn was sorted into Slytherin. She’d read enough about the houses to know what it said about her character, but she hadn’t known about the stigma of the name.
Little Taralyn was walking down the hall one day in early September when she experienced her first run-in with the prejudice.
She’d been looking at her timetable with a frown, trying to remember the way to Transfiguration without taking any of the hidden passages. There were too many people to risk getting caught, so she wandered down the wide hallway with uncertainty.
She hated the fact that she was running late. The last thing she needed was to find herself on the bad side of the teachers right off the bat. Only the day before, she’d found herself far outside of Slughorn’s good graces when Albus Potter had bumped her elbow as she stirred her potion. And it was obvious from the first second of class that the boy could do no wrong in the potion master's eyes, so the end result for Taralyn had been a failing grade on the potion and an afternoon cleaning up the classroom.
Taralyn huffed at the memory. She continued on down the corridor, studying her class schedule along the way. While staring at the parchment, someone bumped into her shoulder, sending her flying to the floor.
“Watch it, snake,” the boy had hissed, sneering as he turned to keep stalking down the hall.
Taralyn glared at the boy, and drew her wand, but she didn’t yet know any spells to try on him.
“Locomotor Wibbly!” She suddenly heard. The boy’s legs gave out, like jelly, and he fell to the floor with a grunt. “Git.”
Taralyn stared at her defender. The girl was clearly older than her by at least a couple years. Her strawberry blonde hair sat in gentle waves down her robes, her light eyes narrowed into slits. Taralyn couldn’t identify what it was, but the girl was obviously beautiful in a way that seemed unattainable, and the angry look on her face was chilling.
“Have a problem with Slytherins?” The girl asked the bloke on the floor. “Think we’re all evil do you?”
“W-well,” the boy stammered.
“My parents fought in the war against the Death Eaters,” the girl growled. “My uncle is Harry Potter himself- whose son, need I remind you, is a Slytherin.”
The boy nodded. “Y-you’re right. I’m sorry.”
The girl nodded to Taralyn. “Apologize to her too. Or I’ll curse your eyebrows off.”
He looked at her with a panicked expression. “I’m sorry for shoving you.”
The younger girl said nothing- she just nodded, still stunned.
“Come on,” the taller one smiled at her. The green of her tie made her eyes shine. “I’ll walk you to your class. Where are you headed?”
“Transfiguration,” Taralyn replied softly.
“Great! Let’s go!” Taralyn followed quietly, the taller girl leading the way with an almost motherly air about her that Taralyn found herself drawn to. “I’m Dom, by the way, Dominique Weasley.”
“I’m Taralyn,” the younger one said. “Taralyn Rivers.”
“Nice to meet you, Tara,” Dom grinned at her. “Welcome to Hogwarts- and more importantly, welcome to Slytherin.”
“Weasley,” she repeated softly. “You’re related to a girl named Rose, right?”
She snorted. “Rose, and about fifty other cousins. My sister Victoire is a Seventh Year, my cousins James and Molly are all in second, Fred is in third with me, and Rose and Albus are in your year.”
Taralyn frowned. “You’re related to Albus Potter?”
“Yeah,” she shot her a somewhat challenging look. “Why?”
Taralyn shrugged, feeling brave for a moment. “I’m just sorry, is all. I’d hate to sure blood with the prat.”
She braced herself for the older girl’s wrath, which she had already witnessed to be frightening, when Dom suddenly burst out into laughter. “Not a fan, eh?”
“We may have gotten off on the wrong foot,” Taralyn admitted. “I called him a pageant girl and he knocked my potion off my desk.”
“A pageant girl?” Dom snorted. “Taralyn Rivers, we’re going to be excellent friends. Don’t worry about Al- he’s a prat sometimes, but I’m sure you’ll warm to each other eventually.”
I turned over restlessly, pressing my face harder against my pillow. I had a horrible feeling about my run-in with Albus. I wasn’t sure what kind of favors he’d end up demanding of me, but I felt certain that he’d pick ones that would make me thoroughly miserable.
I rolled over again, sighing with frustration. I was exhausted, but sleep seemingly wasn’t going to oblige me.
I glanced over. Through the darkness, I could just make out the outline of Rylie’s figure. “Ry?” I whispered back.
“You’ve been thrashing for like a half hour,” my best friend replied quietly, not wanting to wake our other roommates. Zabini and Pritchard were cows during waking hours- disturbed from sleep they’d be right vicious. “Are you alright?”
I sighed. “Yeah. Don’t worry about it. Just had a weird evening.”
“You got back late,” she noticed. “Boy trouble?”
Even through whispers, I could hear the smirk in her tone. “Sod off,” I muttered. “It was nothing like what you want it to have been.”
“Damn,” she said. A moment later, she pressed, “But it was something to do with a boy?”
“Just a small row with Middle Potter.”
“Again? Blimey, Tara, we’ve only been back at school for a week!”
I sighed. “I know. But you know how it is.”
“Yeah, yeah, ‘he’s a prat,’ ‘he started it,’ ‘I was being perfectly pleasant’ blah blah blah.” I could practically hear her eyes roll.
“Shut up,” I snapped quietly. “It’s true! You’ve seen how he acts.”
“That’s true. The flirting does get a little tiresome to watch.” She snickered softly.
“We don’t flirt,” I growled.
“Not seriously,” I frowned. “He does it to get a rise out of me.”
“Sure, Tara,” she yawned. “Well I’m off to sleep. Don’t let him get to you, alright?”
I listened to her turn away before I let myself roll back onto my back, staring through the dark up at the ceiling, and listening to the lake water slosh against the windows.
Trust Albus Potter to ruin an otherwise good day.
I couldn’t believe he knew. And he found out in such an easy way. That stupid map made it so simple to catch me it made my blood boil. It felt like he’d cheated at a game we weren’t playing.
Why did it have to be him of all bloody people? If it had to be someone with the map, why couldn’t it have been James? Or Lily? Either of them would have been much nicer to me about it.
Stupid Albus Potter.
I thought for a long moment about whether it was even worth the secret- surely by now I could tell my friends the truth about my home life, right? But I’d meant what I told him before. If Rose, Dom, James, Fred, or pretty much anyone else in that family knew that I lived at Hogwarts year-round, and that my father was non-existent as far as I was concerned while my mother had been missing for six years, they’d insist I come home with them for the entirety of all our remaining breaks. They’d worry and feel bad for me.
I didn’t need anyone’s pity. And, truthfully, I couldn’t afford to leave Hogwarts for long. Not yet. Some childlike part of me that still remained deep down was holding out hope that she would come back.
She. She who left me, alone and confused. She who I’d never been able to ask any of the big questions I’d wanted to ask for so, so long.
I couldn’t help but silently seethe as I thought about the night she left.
A little girl sat up in her bed abruptly, her light eyes wide with fright. The dark room was eerily still. The girl had never had a problem with darkness, really, but the sound of thunder and the sharp flashes of lightning had always frightened her.
Her bed was large as it was, but holding someone so small, it could have been built for a giant. The duvet was heavily draped across the top. The girl had gathered it in her fists and pulled it tightly against her as she sat perfectly still, warily waiting for the next lightning to strike.
Crack. She jumped. The roar of the thunder followed the bright flash so quickly that the girl felt certain it was striking the very room she slept in.
She glanced to her left expectantly, as she always did when she was afraid. But unlike every other time, there was no one next to her. She took a shaky breath and looked around, though she couldn’t see much. The storm outside meant there was almost no light to seep through the window.
“Mummy?” She called into the darkness.
No answer came.
The little girl frowned deeply. She thought hard for a moment: I need light.
A moment later, torches lit themselves along the walls. The room brightened, revealing a small bedroom that had little more than the large bed, a wardrobe, and a shelf of books. The little girl’s mother was nowhere to be seen.
Oh look, another Albus/OC story. I'm such a sucker for this pairing and I have NO IDEA WHY. I know I'm not technically officially done with my last one yet since there's still an epilogue to come, but I couldn't help posting the start to this one since I'm very excited about it! So as you've probably noticed, this story is completely unrelated to my other next gen one. It was a random concept that popped into my head and suddenly I had like nine chapters done and figured I may as well start updating.
So, let me know what you think! I'd love to read your reviews :)
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize belongs to me.
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