‘Petrificus Totalus!’ Eden Fletcher shouts, thrusting her wand forward.
‘Protego!’ I yell, bring my wand up sharply, conjuring a shield. ‘Stupify!’ I continue, stepping forward, through the shield, to assist the spell. Eden flies back and hits the ground.
‘Congratulations Phoebe Carter. You have won.’ Professor Snape's amplified voice rumbles around the hall. I twirl my wand between my fingers and blow on the tip. I bow and walk across the platform. I bend over and hold my hand out to Eden who grips it. I pull her up and we hug.
‘You beat me. That's the first time you've beat me.’ she says.
‘I've been practicing.’
‘Please vacate the platform.’ Snape says. I shrug and hop off the platform. Thalia Whitlock and Elizabeth West walk onto the platform. Oh, this is going to be fantastic. Thalia, Liz and I went to the same muggle primary school together. We got our letters from Hogwarts at the same time. We went to Diagon Alley together. We rode the Hogwarts Express together. We did everything together until the Sorting Ceremony. I was among the first to be called up. I remember feeling so happy when I was sorted into Gryffindor. Ever happier when Liz was too. Right after Liz, Thalia was called up. Liz and I were watching intently when Thalia walked up the steps and sat on the stool. The Sorting Hat was placed on her head and stayed there for an age before finally shouting ‘Slytherin!’
‘What?’ I had whispered, nearly thrown off my feet with shock. ‘That can’t be right. She can’t be in Slytherin, because that would mean she isn’t with us!’ That was a long time ago. Just six years, in fact. But, that was really how Liz and I got to know the Slytherin students. After Liz and I had been ushered up the dozens of staircases to the Gryffindor common room, we instantly decided to learn the Colour Change Charm. We spent hour after hour trying to learn it. And then one day we put our skill to the test and tried it. We turned the hems of our robes green and met up with Thalia outside the Great Hall. She then led us down to the dungeons and snuck us into the Slytherin common room. It was scary at first, but over time it became a bit more comfortable, and it was all great until a few days before the end of first year, when a whole bunch of first year Slytherins came up to us and accused us of being in Gryffindor. Well, we couldn’t really say no, so we told them that yes, we were in Gryffindor. One of them stepped forward and said that under normal circumstances we would be ripped to shreds, but they were impressed by our trickery. But, back to now. Liz and Thalia, dueling.
‘Incendio!’ Thalia casts.
‘Aguamenti!’ Liz repels. The battle continues like this until both Liz and Thalia yell at the same time.
‘Expelliarmus!’ Liz shouts.
‘Reducto!’ Thalia yells. Thalia’s wand then flies out of her hand as Liz is thrown off her feet. They always tie. Every single time they duel, they tie. It’s hilarious. They both trudge off the platform and walk next to me.
They then look at each other and start laughing. A hand rests on my shoulder. I turn and smile.
‘Hello Phoebe, how are you?’
‘Just fantastic, Nathan.’
‘That's good.’ Learning the colour change charm was initially meant to get us into the Slytherin common room so we could hang out with Thalia, but it had other perks. For example, Crabbe and Goyle never beat us up. We always know who is going to get teased when and, even though we would never tell any Slytherins including Thalia, we can tell them to take a different route. It also gave me the opportunity to meet Nathan, which I would never describe as a bad thing. Especially when the Gryffindors realized that I was dating a Slytherin. That day was fun.
‘Are you two quite finished?’ Liz asks. Nathan scowls at her and Thalia steps between them.
‘It is the middle of class. Whatever you want to do, it can wait.’ she points out. I nod and step away from Nathan.
‘I have a free next.’ I say.
‘So do I.’ Nathan smiles.
‘Me too.’ Liz murmurs.
‘Ditto!’ Thalia exclaims. Well, that settles that. Study session in the Slytherin common room. One of these days Liz and I are going to be studying in the Gryffindor common room and people will start wondering why we're never there. Cross that bridge when we come to it. Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter walk onto the platform, glowering at each other. My index fingers immediately press against my temples. Not again. These two have been at each other’s throats since first year. I am getting kind of worried about both of them though. Draco has been looking sickly recently and Harry is being more angst filled as of late. They start dueling and sparks of colour explode from each of their wands. Draco looks fierce, but his eyes are sunken back into his head. As he deflects each spell Harry casts, his wand is being held looser and looser in Draco 's hand.
‘Expelliarmus!’ Harry yells. Draco's wand flies out of his hand.
‘Congratulations Harry Potter. You have won.’ Snape's voice drones. Hate is curled around each syllable. Harry scowls then winces, and walks off the platform. He’s touching his lightening bolt scar. Again. Things are too repetitive with him. I must admit, I’m scared of Voldemort, but the scar thing just bugs me. He’s always moaning about it hurting. Draco walks off the platform, his feet nearly dragging along. Nearly. Thalia steps forward to help him, but Liz grabs her arm.
‘He doesn’t like you.’
‘He has to!’
‘He doesn’t though.’
‘You know it’s true.’
‘Now you’re just being mean!’ The pair bicker about this all the time, it’s so funny. Seeing as we could only duel once this lesson, those who aren’t dueling are either watching or chatting, but Liz and I need to move away from the body of Slytherins or we’ll be noticed by Snape.
‘C’mon Liz, stop tormenting Thalia. We need to go back to our house.’
‘But tormenting her is fun!’
‘Fun that can be had later. Come on.’
‘Fine.’ Liz grumbles. I drag her along to where Gryffindor house is standing. Nothing particularly exciting happens until class finishes, so Liz and I walk down to the dungeons and change our robe colours. Thalia walks up, talking to Nathan, Draco and Eden. Draco walks in front and opens the dungeon. You can practically see Thalia’s pupils turning to little love hearts. Liz goes and pats her on the back.
‘Sorry about before mate.’ Liz says.
‘It’s okay.’ Thalia replies. I join Eden and Nathan’s conversation. Nathan wraps his arm around me as the five of us walk into the Slytherin common room. We sit down on a small collection of couches and make ourselves comfortable. We share Eden, Nathan and Thalia’s copies of Confronting The Faceless between us. I think Draco’s fallen asleep. Eden is lying across an armchair, Liz has her legs on a table and Thalia has her legs on top of Liz’s. Nathan is sitting with one leg on the couch and one off, and I’m on his lap. Each of us has a chapter, and what we do is read it, and if we come across an important piece of information, we ask a question where it’s an answer. After a few minutes Draco stirs. He stands and walks across to where we are. He scowls in my direction.
‘Nathan, I cannot believe you would date a mudblood.’ He mutters. I look up at him and arch an eyebrow.
‘Really? You’re still on this Draco?’ I say.
‘I could get you expelled for being here.’ He growls. I laugh.
‘If you were going to do that, you would’ve done it by now.’ I chuckle. He maintains his scowl for a few seconds and then walks away. I look at Nathan.
‘You don’t mind dating a muggle-born, do you?’ I ask.
‘Not when it’s you.’ He smiles back. I squeeze his hand and we study for the rest of the period and then I check my timetable.
'Jeez, where did the day go?' I mutter. I stand and yawn, blinking as I do so.
'Hey, it's Friday, right?' I ask Liz. She nods.
'Do we have any activities now?'
'Not that I can think of. Want to go flying?' she asks. My eyes widen and I pull her up, sending Thalia to the floor.
'Oi!' Thalia yells and I drag Liz out.
'What was that, bubs?' she asks.
'We gotta run, Liz, it's the Quidditch tryouts!'
We sprint up to the Quidditch pitch, me madly trying to not trip on my robes whilst hyperventilating, and Liz hissing at me to calm down. I grab my broom and my bat out of the equipment shed and Liz and I storm into the Quidditch pitch, obviously meaning business. I swing the bat absentmindedly while I inspect my broom. It's a Comet 290 and it serves me well. I'm really excited about this years Quidditch because the Weasley twins are finally gone, and I may actually get on the team, rather than wind up as reserve.
Liz is beside me, holding her bat and her broom, when Potter storms up.
'What do you two want?' he snaps. I shift my weight back in preparation for him to make another comment like that, so I can tackle him. Liz notices my slight movement and speaks.
'We play. Beaters. You obviously never bothered to check up on the reserve teams, like Wood did.' this comment makes Potter angry, I can tell. His gaze slowly drifts over our shoulders.
'Hey! You lot! Out!' he shouts. I look over my shoulder, and sure enough, Nathan, Eden and Thalia are there. Thalia mock pouts.
'We only want to watch the show. Why would we want to be on the Gryffindor team? It's a real shame that Phoeb's and Liz's talents are being wasted on your shabby team.' the three laugh and Potter scowls.
'Aw, c'mon, we only want to watch. Chill.' Nathan calls. You can almost see Potter's temple throbbing.
'Fine. Watch. I don't care.' he switches his attention back to me and Liz. I blow a kiss to Nathan and then look back at Potter. He frowns at us.
'I really didn't know you played..' he mutters, just loud enough for us to hear. I feel the colour rush to my cheeks, and it's all I can do to stand in the one spot. He shrugs it off.
'Okay, here's the deal. Katie, Ron, Ginny and I will fly up, and the Bludgers will be released. You need to protect Katie and Ginny, and aim for me and Ron. Alright?' he says. We both nod. 'Excellent. Onto your brooms.'
We mount our brooms and fly up. The Bludgers scream into the air, and Liz and I are off. I see a Bludger head for Katie and send it blurring towards Potter. He's gonna pay. He's gonna pay for not knowing me. He's going down. He dodges, right at the last second. Next time. Liz and I fly around and keep Katie and Ginny safe. After about ten minutes, I manage to land a Bludger into Potter. It catches him in the chest, and he descends slowly and dismounts carefully, winded. I silently cheer at his pain and see him approach Thalia. I get distracted by this, and duck right before a Bludger hits me in the back of the head. That really would've hurt... I shake my head and see one of the enchanted balls speed towards Katie. I grip my broom and lean into it, flying like a torpedo to intercept it on its crash course. I get between Katie and the ball with a split second to spare and slam my bat into it with a deafening crack. Ron, the unlucky guy, turns his head at possibly the very worst moment and the ball hits him squarely on his forehead. Potter yells up.
'Thats enough! Out of the sky!' I touch down just after Liz.
'Results will be up by Wednesday.' Potter moans. I nod curtly and walk over to Thalia.
'What was Scarface talking to you for?' I ask softly. She winces.
'You won't like it.'
'I don't care, just tell me.' I say. Nathan eases behind me and holds his arms around my waist. I'm not sure if that's an affectionate or a restricting gesture. Thalia sighs.
'I asked why he made you angry and he said he did it cause you play better when you're angry.' Well, I now know the gesture was restricting. I jerk, trying to escape from Nathan's grip.
'I will kill that boy.' I spit. Nathan holds me tightly and coos in my ear.
'Calm down. He was only trying to see you at your full potential.' I stop jerking for a moment. Eden smiles, taking the opportunity.
'I still have a packet of M&M's, you know.' she says. I stop a look at her.
'M&M's?' I say, my tone completely mild. She nods.
'Can I eat them?'
'Oh. Yay. I'm suddenly craving M&M's... Can we go eat them now?' the others laugh and we all head back up to the castle.
We’re all sitting under a tree, eating M&M’s, when Dan, Liz’s younger brother, walks past, carrying far too many books for a fourth year. Liz scowls and stands, ready to follow him when Josie Kift comes up to him and takes half of the books out of his arms. Oh. That’s bad. They walk across the grounds, down to Hagrid’s hut. Liz ghosts them down the hill, waiting for Josie to be distracted. One of her friends comes up and talks to Josie, and Liz takes the moment to grab Dan by his ear, cover his mouth with her free hand and drag him up the hill. After a few feet you can see her sigh and flip Dan over so she can carry him up the hill on her shoulder. She reaches us and dumps him on the ground.
‘What are you doing with her?’ Liz snarls. Dan rolls over and looks up at her.
‘I was talking to her. Is there a problem with that? Or am I not allowed to talk to people now?’
‘Oh, you’re allowed to talk to people, but not her.’
‘Because she’s a flat out bitch, that’s why.’
‘She’s in Hufflepuff!’ Dan huffs, standing up. He’s half a head shorter than Liz, and his voice has just started to break. He looks a little pathetic against her, but there’s no denying that they’re siblings. Same light brown hair, same startlingly blue eyes. Liz scoffs.
‘That doesn’t mean she’s nice.’
‘Yeah, it kinda does.’
‘No, being in Hufflepuff means she’s loyal. Not nice. Stay away from her.’
‘No.’ Dan says, taking a cautionary step back. Nathan, Eden, Thalia and I had been watching intently, but at this comment jaws are dropped, and there is a distinct sharp intake of breath from Thalia. Liz’s scowl looks like it could crack glass.
‘What?’ she says, her voice even. Dan takes another step back- I don’t think he’s even aware of it- and swallows.
‘I s-said no.’ he stammers. Liz is looming over him, but she folds her arms and straightens her back, and looks down at him, smiling.
‘My sweet little brother, this is for your own good. Tell me, do you like Josie more than you fear me when I’m angry? Because, you know, I’ve never really been angry at you. Not really.’ She closes the distant between them and ruffles his already messy hair. She starts to tie his school tie. ‘I’ve kept you safe. But you have seen me be properly angry.’ She grips his tie and lifts him up to her eye level. ‘Tell me, am I scary when I’m really angry?’
‘Y-yes.’ He says, pulling at his tie to keep his air from being cut off. She puts him down delicately.
‘Then you’d better stay away from Josie, hadn’t you?’ she says sweetly. Dan nods. She laughs and pulls him into a hug. She whispers something in his ear, and I know it has to be along the lines of something like ‘I only want to keep you out of trouble.’ She lets go of him and sits back down with us.
‘Phoebe, if you finished the M&M’s during that, god help you…’
As it got darker, we trooped up to the Great Hall and sat at our respective house tables. Liz and I sit next to each other and I hear a small commotion behind us at the Ravenclaw table.
'Belle! What have you done!?' a girl's voice shrieks. There's a crash muffled by the monotonous chatter of the hall. I twist and look, and see two identical twins, snarling at each other. They're even wearing them same clothes, which really isn't fair. The only difference in their appearance is that the one closest to me is slightly taller, and she has her hair in two low pigtails that come down in front of her shoulders. Her sister has her hair in pigtails that stick out either side of her head. Liz follows my gaze and sees the scene. She then frowns as though watching is causing her physical pain.
'Something wrong?' I ask. She nods, pouting.
'Looking at them hurts my head.' she moans. I laugh and return my attention to the siblings.
'Belle! Don't ignore me!' the taller one yells. She's obviously pounded her fist onto the table. The other one, Belle, is chewing her dinner as though nothing is wrong. What an odd pair. Belle finishes chewing and places her cutlery on her plate carefully.
'Daisy, you're making a scene. Sit down.'
'Belle! This is serious! Take me seriously! Take something seriously! Just this once!' Daisy shouted. Belle twisted in her seat and scowled up at her sister.
'Fire away.' there was a moment of pure silence between them and the people around them. Daisy gathered her thoughts.
‘Give it back.’ She croaked. Belle smiled.
‘Already have. Check you robe pocket.’
‘My…’ Daisy reached into her robe and emitted a sound of perfect balance between a squeal of joy and a grunt of rage. She pulled her wand out and slammed it onto the table.
‘No, Belle. Never. Again.’
‘Stop saying that.’
‘Okay.’ Belle smirks. Daisy growls in exasperation and sits again. I look back at my food.
‘Well. That was odd.’ Liz remarks. I grunt in agreement and we finish our food. We then walk up to the Gryffindor tower together and get ready for bed. I’m just about to start reading my book when I hear her sit up.
‘What is it?’ I ask.
‘Tomorrow’s Saturday.’ She says, simply. I hear her lie down again. I try to focus on my book, but eventually I give in and rest my head on my pillow. Saturday. Weekend. Yes.
I wake up and check the window next to my bed. It’s still dark out. Excellent. I get up and get dressed. I head down to the common room and sit by the fire for a few minutes, and then I head down to the Great Hall quietly. I check the house point’s jars on my way, in passing as usual, when I see a flicker of someone’s shadow exit the school. I frown. Who would be going out this early? I’m not even that mad. I follow quietly, trying to identify the figure. I follow him into the huge green expanse of the school grounds. Well, I think he’s a he. It’s still just a little too dark to tell. Whoever they are, they’re holding something. He sneaks behind a tree- Well, I say he sneaks, but he doesn’t think anyone is following him, so he’s walking normally, but still- and sits. He whispers something.
‘Lumos.’ A small bead of light emits from the tip of his wand. He set his wand on the ground and starts to scribble something into the notebook he was carrying. Peculiar. His spot is genius. I honestly wouldn’t know he was there if I hadn’t seen him sit. There’s a small cluster of trees in front of him. I double back and enter the cluster, trying to avoid losing where he’s sitting in the dark. I weave through the trees and end up almost directly in front of him, behind a tree. He keeps writing, and all that happens for a few minutes is him scribbling and me listening to the sound of his quill scratch against the parchment. Eventually he stops and sighs.
‘I know you’re there.’ He says. I’m sure it’s a he now. His voice is deep. I step out and see him properly.
‘Ah, Phoebe Carter. A pleasure, I’m sure.’ He says. I stand, stunned for a split second, and then I frown.
‘How do you know my name?’
‘We’ve been going to school together for six years.’
‘…No, I don’t remember you.’
‘I’m very forgettable. I’m still not sure if that is a curse, or a gift.’ He’s started writing again. ‘With any luck, you’ll remember me-‘ he says, not lifting his head, ‘or forget me.’ I sits cross-legged in front of him. His hair is long and black, and his skin is deathly pale. His eyes are green, and I’m sure if he had bothered to maintain eye contact with me for more than a second, they’d pierce into my mind.
‘Who are you, then?’
'Sixth.' he replies. There's no emotion. I let that piece of information tick over in my head.
'Why is that?'
'Because, I must've had classes with you.'
'I'm a very forgettable person, Phoebe. And I suggest you do just that,' he looks up from his writing, finally, 'Because there is nothing hidden behind my eyes. Or my non-existent smile, for that matter.' he returns his attention to his work. That's it. Conversation over. I walk back up to the castle. There's more to that boy, I know it.