When Harry did finally come and join us in time for his birthday, we were planning a big birthday party where we invited both the Weasley's and the Lovegood's. Harry helped throughout the week while dad also adamantly tried to convince him to drop out of Hogwarts and be homeschooled instead. However, Harry was finally able to convince dad that Voldemort had it out for him despite where he was, and he wasn't going to let the dark wizard scare him away from the life he loved. Remus also helped to ease my father's nerves while the reserved man uncharacteristically disagreed with my father on the subject. But I also knew how much Hogwarts meant to my uncle.
So, by the end of the week, most of the anxiousness had dissipated and we all waited for the arrival of Harry's guests. I hadn't seen the twins all that much this summer and was eager to hang out with them, much like Harry was to see Ron.
At around noon we heard a knock at the door as Harry and I raced each other down the stairs to answer it. Harry, with his faster pace and reflexes, arrived at the door first and opened it excitedly. Ron was standing next to his mother who both greeted him animatedly as he invited them in, along with the rest of the Weasley's. I smiled as Fred and George walked through the door and immediately came over to see me. As George hugged me though, I couldn't help noticing how Ginny was hiding behind her mother as Mrs. Weasley talked to Harry and handed my father a homemade cake.
"Gin's acting a bit strange," I said as I motioned over to the timid girl who was typically animated in character.
"I'm surprised really," Fred started.
"She hasn't shut up about meeting Harry since we parted ways at King's Cross," George continued while they both shrugged.
Mr. Weasley was the last to enter who was unexpectedly followed by some guests.
"Amos?" my father asked in greeting as he went over to the man who I had most definitely never met before.
"Yes, well Amos here asked me about my plans for the weekend and extended himself an invitation when I told him about Harry's birthday," Mr. Weasley explained while he unsubtly explained to my father as to why there was a party crasher at our front doorstep.
This man however remained oblivious and shook my father's hand before spotting Harry and introducing himself. That was when I noticed the Hufflepuff seeker enter our house.
"Cedric Diggory?" Fred asked in disgust as he saw the boy enter the house.
"How does you dad know this prat?" George asked in a whispered tone beside me.
"No idea," I answered as I saw both Cedric and his father turn their attention to me.
"Ah Joss, this must be your daughter!" the man exclaimed with more excitement than was necessary.
The man then approached me and surveyed me in a way which I felt I was under a microscope.
"She's a real looker, eh Cedric?" the man asked while I gaped in response.
"Dad!" Cedric exclaimed in a rather embarrassed tone.
"She must know how beautiful she is, there's no need to be bashful. Those eyes are just exquisite," he added while Fred put a protective arm over me and my father cleared his throat in discomfort.
"Well Amos, that's a very forward analysis of my daughter. Now why don't we all move to the backyard where we have some tables set up?" dad suggested as the uncomfortable air started to dissipate and everyone jumped on the opportunity to change the subject away from my appearance.
We all then started towards the back door while Fred kept his arm around me and also glared at Cedric who was giving me an apologetic look.
"Who does he think he is?" George asked while we walked together outside away from the crowd.
"Mr. Diggory is rather ghastly," I said with a shiver down my spine.
"No wonder pretty boy is so full of himself," Fred said while staring at Cedric with a withering expression.
"I actually don't think Cedric is all that bad," I said while looking at the boy who was the only one sitting with the adults besides Ginny who was blatantly staring at Harry.
We sat under the tree for a while, with the twins pointedly turning their backs towards Cedric.
"Marnie, why don't you help me collect some plates?" dad asked from the table before I stood up and followed him into the kitchen.
"Why don't you hang out with Cedric? The poor boy is sitting all alone and is actually very nice," dad said once we were inside.
"The twins don't really seem to like him," I answered, although I did feel guilty for leaving Cedric out.
"I can only imagine why," dad said.
"Oh, nothing," dad said dismissively. "Just talk to the boy won't you," dad finished as he carried more plates outside.
So when I came outside I approached Cedric instead of rejoining the twins and asked him to join us.
"I don't think your friends like me much," he said as he directed his gaze to the twins who were looking at us with contempt.
"Well, then I'll stay here with you," I said while I sat down beside him.
"You don't have to be so nice. I know we weren't invited," he said blatantly.
"Yea, I didn't know my dad even knew yours," I answered honestly.
"Well, we do live just over that hill," he said as he pointed in the distance to the east of the property.
"Oh," was all I said as I thought back to before I attended Hogwarts and my father had made that vague comment about knowing local children starting at Hogwarts. I guess he hadn't just meant the twins.
"Don't worry, my dad doesn't typically hold a lot of friends," Cedric added which caused me to stifle a laugh.
"Believe it or not he does mean well," Cedric continued while I tried really hard to believe it.
"I've seen you in school before," Cedric continued as he changed the subject.
"Yea, well I've seen us crush you at quidditch," I countered with a smug grin.
"Ah, that Gryffindor modesty," Cedric retorted which caught me off guard.
"You aren't a bad seeker though. But I just can't change my loyalty from my brother," I said while Cedric looked over at Harry.
"It must be nice to be so close with someone that you automatically consider them to be your family," he said thoughtfully. "I've always wished that I had a sibling," he continued.
"Yea, well I had to wait ten years to see mine again," I said, surprised with the amount of honesty I was relaying.
"Well, he's definitely lucky to have someone like you watching out for him. By the sounds of it, he definitely needs it."
"Oh, you don't know the half of it," I chuckled as dad brought out dinner.
The twins joined the table when the food showed up, with Fred claiming the other seat next to me. It was quite palpable however how much Fred was loathing Cedric's company; but I quite liked him. Even after holding the title of Hogwart's Pretty Boy, he seemed to have a level head and a mild manner. I just knew the boys would never befriend a quidditch rival.
A distraction thankfully came in the arrival of Luna and her father as they circled around from the front yard and joined us at the table where dad and Mrs. Weasley were dishing out the food. Luna went to sit beside Harry, with Ron giving her an uncomfortable look, while Mr. Lovegood sat beside Remus. I glared at Ron for being impolite to Luna, but before I could do anything to chastise him Cedric once again took my attention.
"Isn't it so peaceful living out here?" he asked while I turned back with a smile.
"Yea, it's ruddy fantastic," Fred answered sarcastically before I could say anything.
"Fred, you live in the area too and you love it," I said sternly while I gave him a severe look.
Why was he acting like such an arse?
"Oh yea, my dad told me you live over to the north," Cedric said kindly while Fred just grunted.
"Have you lived here your whole life?" I asked Cedric while trying to ignore Fred's behavior.
It wasn't that much better that I could see George doing nothing to reel in his brother; this always meant that he felt similarly to Fred.
"Pretty much, my father and I moved out here when I was young. Before that we had a flat in the city," Cedric answered while I nodded.
Having my own precarious situation with my mother, I didn't press him about his. So we continued with our idle chatter while the twins remained quiet and brooding beside me. I was however, pleasantly surprised with how personable Cedric was turning out to be, and not at all like how the Gryffindor quidditch team made him out to be. By the end of dessert I felt Cedric and I had at least become fairly good acquaintances and promised to talk once we returned to school. Cedric was the first to leave with his father, followed soon after by the Lovegood's. I had been upset that I hadn't spent much time with Luna but we promised to hang out later in the summer when the gardens were in full harvest. The Weasley's stayed to help clean up and I noticed Mr. and Mrs. Weasley talking with Remus. I realized that this was the first time they were actually seeing him in recent years and was pleased to see a smile on his face as he spoke with them.
The twins however were being stubbornly quiet and mostly ignoring me. So, having none of their juvenile behavior, I went over to join Harry and Ron who were also bashing Cedric and his quidditch skills.
"What is wrong with everyone?" I asked in an exasperated tone as I stood up to leave.
"He's the enemy Marnie, you shouldn't be hanging out with him," Ron warned while I turned to give him a scornful look.
"He's not evil! He's just in Hufflepuff instead of Gryffindor! Why is everyone making a big deal about this?" I shouted as I stormed off.
I then went to sit beside Ginny who was still sitting at the table by herself.
"Why are boys so immature?" I huffed as I sat down.
"Not all of them are bad," Ginny responded while turning her gaze towards Harry again. "I saw you talking with Cedric, he's really quite handsome," Ginny said before I could comment on her staring.
"He's also nice and friendly and charming," I said not wanting to hear about what his fan club usually gushed about at school, his looks.
"You two seemed to be getting along," Ginny continued with a mischievous grin.
"Stand down Gin, I only just properly met the boy," I replied while shaking my head. "Plus your idiot brothers were terribly rude."
"Yea, they get like that. Don't worry, they'll come sulking back to you. You are their queen after all," Ginny explained slyly.
"I am not, I'm their best friend and they shouldn't be faulting me for trying to make friends with someone else," I said indignantly.
"True, but I know they also don't like to share you," she replied while I thought over her response.
It was true that she hardly went anywhere without Fed and George by her side. Only a few times when she was either with Harry or Ange, and even then, they were typically always around.
"I'm still upset with them," I huffed as Ginny chuckled.
"They deserve it," she replied with a smile.
The girls then spent the next while talking of other things than boys until Mrs. Weasley announced they were leaving. Marnie bid all the Weasley's good-bye except for the twins who were still brooding, and then went back into the house. Harry and the others were already sitting on the couch.
"It seems Fred and George didn't take kindly to my request," dad said while I sighed and dropped down into one of the chairs.
"They're being stupid," I commented.
Remus chuckled. "Well fourteen-year-old boys do tend to be like that sometimes."
"Give them time Marnie, they're just used to your undivided attention," dad continued to explain while I sighed again.
"I think I'm going to go up to bed," I announced given that it was pretty late.
I walked over and hugged everyone while wishing Harry a happy birthday for at least the twelfth time. I then climbed the staircase and got ready before flopping down into my bed. My frustration kept my mind running but thoroughly exhausted my body so I finally drifted off to sleep before Harry even came in for bed.
The rest of the summer was a lot more exciting since Harry was around and I had a few chances to go stay with Angelina, Alicia and Katie. But I felt when I was home that the house was much livelier than it had ever been before Harry. I could see both dad and Remus were visibly more upbeat, not that they hadn't been content during my childhood, but I think they had always worried about Harry's well-being. Also, as promised, the four of us did have a sort of harvest party at the end of August with the Lovegood's which gave the opportunity to properly catch up with Luna. In lieu of the celebration, Luna had brought her own blueberry concoction as a gift to try, which Harry and I had had a hard time trying to drink, especially after she told us she had added rutabaga and turnip. But Harry and Luna were becoming fast friends as Harry never seemed to mind how eccentric Luna could be and Luna didn't cloud her judgement on Harry's byproduct fame. Looking at the two of them together, I couldn't believe that her and Harry were going into their second year already which meant, even more dauntingly, that this would be my fourth.
The twins had also started sending me a bombardment of letters the following day after Harry's birthday. They apologized profusely in each one and admitted to be idiotic prats. I had held out for an entire week before my father urged me to respond so he could eat breakfast in peace without a flurry of letters coming through.
A letter I hadn't been expecting though came from Cedric, who also sent me a letter on August first. It was a simple letter, but surprising none the less.
I wanted to thank-you for your hospitality last night, especially since I know we arrived uninvited. I know my father can be too forward sometimes but he does mean well, so I hope he didn't offend you.
Anyways I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your company and was hoping we could stay in touch before school starts.
All the best,
I didn't think my family had found out about the letter yet since it had arrived with the tens of others from the twins. Plus, when we did start writing back and forth it was easy enough to assume I was receiving a letter from the twins or one of my other friends who I also kept in touch with.
Soon enough it was nearing the end of summer which meant we were receiving our Hogwart's supply letters.
"Well, I guess it's as good a time as any to visit Diagon Alley," my father said that morning as Harry and I looked over our lists.
So, after breakfast we all stood in front of our fire place which dad had agreed to leave permanently on the Floo Network. He had decided this so that Harry and I could travel easier without always having to rely on Remus.
"Marnie, why don't you show Harry how it's used and go first?" my dad asked as I took some powder from the pot he was holding and went to stand in the fireplace.
"Now, very clearly," my dad said as he always instructed me to.
"DIAGON ALLEY!" I exclaimed as I threw the powder down and was immediately transported through the network.
Moments later I was standing in the Leaky Cauldron as was the designated point of entry for Diagon Alley. Dad soon arrived with Remus as they had side apparated since dad wasn't able to use the Floo. However, Harry was nowhere to be seen.
"Where's Harry?" I asked as dad and Remus cursed.
"I knew he didn't speak clearly enough!" dad exclaimed.
"Well, he couldn't have gotten too far, let's get searching," Remus said as he went to enter the alley with us following close behind.
We walked up and down the street as my anxiety rose with each passing minute.
"Joss! Remus!" I heard a booming voice call out from behind us which made us all whip around.
As we did turn, all three of us were relieved to see Hagrid walking with Harry at his side.
"We need to work on your enunciation," dad said as he ruffled Harry's hair and brought him into a protective hug.
"Thank-you Hagrid," Remus said as the half-giant smiled and turned away as expressed he had business he needed to attend to.
"Well now that that's all settled I'll meet you three at Fortescue's in an hour," Remus said as he headed away from us down the alley.
I also gave Harry a hug before the three of us turned and headed in the opposite direction of Remus.
"Merlin! Why do you two need so many books for Defense Against the Dark Arts?" my father exclaimed as he was carrying our lists and telling us what we needed from each store.
We entered Flourish and Blotts and were immediately taken aback by the sheer number of people in the store. Thankfully however we soon ran into a familiar red-headed family and went over to greet them.
"Marnie!" the twins exclaimed as they saw me and Harry headed over towards them.
Mrs. Weasley and the others also turned around as they noticed the three of us walking over.
"Oh, I didn't know you were coming out today Joss, I would have suggested you join us," Mrs. Weasley said kindly.
"Well I just thought it best since the kids got their lists today," he answered with a smile.
"What's all the fuss about?" I asked as I saw Mrs. Weasley dawn a blush which made the situation even more confusing.
"Gilderoy Lockhart is signing books," Ron explained in disgust while his mother shot him a look.
"That's the bloke who wrote all these books we have to get!" I exclaimed as I turned to investigate the man responsible for all of this.
It seemed a little narcissistic to require every student to purchase these many books from the same man.
Sure enough I caught sight of a middle-aged man who obviously obsessed about his looks. His hair looked like it was dyed blonde to keep the greys away and gelled back off his face. He also dawned a cheesy smile as he greeted everyone who approached him. Unfortunately we were much too close to the man and he spotted Harry once his gaze turned our way.
"Well, if it's not Harry Potter!" he exclaimed as Harry stopped dead in his tracks.
I could see the discomfort radiate off of him while my father went to put his hand on his shoulders to beckon him away. However, Mrs. Weasley was closer and pushed him towards Lockhart instead. In a few sudden movements Harry was propelled onto the landing where Lockhart was standing and having his picture taken by a reporter. I could feel my face turn red with anger as I knew this glory hog was only exploiting my brother. As Harry tried to make a run for it however, the man gave a pile of books to Harry which were apparently all signed, and all on our school list.
Harry was then finally able to make it away from him and automatically gave Mrs. Weasley the stack of free books. My father nodded in approval as he held up the two bags already containing each of our school books which he had hastily purchased. The three of us then tried to get out of the store before Harry received any more unwanted attention, with my hand protectively on Harry's shoulders.
However, we were stopped short at the sight of Lucius Malfoy having a heated discussion in front of the exit with Mr. Weasley. Harry and I fast approached Ginny who was seemingly standing in the middle before my father could stop us. Mr. Malfoy looked up at us as we approached and then to my father as his expression turned to an air of disgust.
"It looks as if your blood traitorousness has no bounds Arthur, especially with the lowly company you keep," Mr. Malfoy spat as he turned to exit the shop, but not before he returned a book back to Ginny's cauldron.
My face was a red as Ginny's hair as I went to chase the Malfoy's out of the shop. I could feel Harry gearing up to do the same but a hand was grasped over both of our shoulders before we could do anything.
"Stay here you two!" my father ordered as we grudgingly stopped in our place.
"Did you hear what he said about us?" I exclaimed hotly as I spun around to look at my father.
"And it's nothing different than what I have heard before. I am only happy to have Arthur as a friend and not have to deal with the likes of the Malfoy's in our daily lives," my father explained softly as I still clenched my fists.
"I know you two must hear things at school but I am telling you not to waste your time going after those who you feel slighted by. We are no less human and you are no less a witch and wizard by being a part of this family," my father continued while I loudly exhaled.
"Alright," I mumbled as I slowly felt the anger ebb away.
"Yes Joss," Harry echoed as I saw him look proudly at my dad.
"Alright, now let's go meet your uncle. Your family is more than welcome to join us for ice cream," my father added as he turned to Mr. Weasley.
"I think we best be getting back, but we will see you all in a couple days!" Mr. Weasley answered as he shook my father's hand and brought him into an embrace before turning to leave with Ginny and Ron.
Hermione had also joined us during the slight altercation and turned to follow the Weasley's since her parents were over talking with Molly.
We then headed down the street and saw Remus sitting out at one of the tables outside.
"I saw a very irritated looking Malfoy walk through here a few moments ago," Remus said casually as we all headed in to order.
"Yes, well, when is that man ever happy?" dad responded while Remus only nodded.
We ended up being dropped off at the Burrow on the morning of September first since dad had one of his rare meetings in the city with a book editor and it had been a full moon last night. Mr. Weasley had also come to own a muggle car over the summer holidays and had made a few necessary magical changes for all of us to be able to fit into it. It was a lot larger than Remus' who hadn't ever enlarged the inside of his car since we had never needed to. The issue remained however that we were terribly late in leaving as it seemed everyone had forgotten at lease something. So, by the time we arrived at King's Cross we only had five minutes to make the train.
I ran off ahead with the twins who were following Percy. Percy was in quite a mood since he thought it best for a prefect to arrive early and was now profusely late. Their parents were accompanying Ginny as it was her first year at Hogwarts while Ron and Harry were together at the end. I made it onto the train with the twins and immediately set off to find our friends. The train set off only minutes later as we settled in the compartment with Lee and the girls.
About twenty minutes into the ride however, Hermione entered the compartment followed by Neville and Ginny.
"Marnie, have you seen Harry or Ron?" she asked nervously as I gave her a quizzical look.
"Not since we got on the train, but they were right behind us," I answered.
"Well, we haven't seen them since we went through the platform," Ginny added in a nervous voice.
"Gin, this isn't some prank is it?" I asked sternly as I couldn't figure out their angle.
"Marnie, we're serious," Hermione replied with an anxious tone.
"Well, maybe they found another compartment and are waiting for you there," I offered while the three standing in the doorway looked unconvinced.
"Alright, we'll take another look," Hermione said before they turned and went back down the hall.
I was then preoccupied for the entire train ride as I tried to think of the very last moment I had seen the two boys. Unfortunately, I was quite certain that had been while we were walking through the station, before we ran through the wall.
When we arrived at Hogwarts and I searched the crowd for both Harry and Ron and met up with Hermione who looked as anxious as I felt.
"So I take it you never found them?" I asked as I felt the not tighten in my stomach.
She only shook her head as we made our way for the horseless carriages. I sat in with Ginny, Hermione and Neville as we rode in a nervous silence.
"Marnie, I'm sure we'll see them at the feast," George said as we walked from the carriages into the castle.
But he had been wrong. It wasn't until we were sitting in the common room and I was halfway through writing a letter to my father that Ron and Harry walked through the portrait hole. I shot out of my seat at the sight of them and pulled Harry into a crushing hug.
"Where the hell have you been?" I asked sternly as I saw Harry look embarrassed.
We went to sit down where we had been before and Harry and Ron started their story. Apparently the wall had sealed shut when they tried to go through and the next logical answer had been to carjack Mr. Weasley's Ford Anglia and fly all the way to Hogwarts.
"Dad is going to murder you," was all I said while I gave him a smug smile.
Harry sighed and put his head in his hands. The twins on the other hand had been jealous they had taken the train and were subsequently mad at Ron for not telling them. This meant that the twins stood up and went to play exploding snap with Lee and Katie since Ange and Alicia were already upstairs.
"There's something I haven't told you yet," Harry whispered after the twins had left and it was only us with Ron and Hermione. "A house-elf came to our house in the middle of the summer," Harry explained as I just gaped.
"What in the name of Merlin are you talking about?" I asked, not having the slightest clue of what he could be referring to, his story didn't seem very plausible.
"One night when you were over at Angelina's, I was woken up in the middle of the night to a house elf named Dobby sitting at the edge of my bed. He warned me not to come back to Hogwarts," Harry explained while I continued to gape at him.
"I thought you said no more secrets!" I exclaimed.
"I wanted to tell you, but it was the day before we went to Diagon Alley and there wasn't really a good time where Joss or Remus weren't around," he reasoned while I nodded.
"So why do you think this Dobby felt it necessary to warn you against coming back to the school. I mean what could possibly be worse than last year when you met Voldemort?" I asked in a hushed tone while Hermione and Ron shuddered.
"Dunno, but after all the effort I put in trying to convince Joss to let me stay, I didn't really want to bring it up," he said while I nodded again.
"Well, we will just have to keep an eye out for anything suspicious," I said before I heard my name being called.
"Marnie!" Lee whined from across the room. "Fred is cheating!"
"I am not!" Fred answered while I sighed and got up.
"Oh, and I'm glad you didn't get suspended!" I said which made Ron and Harry blush in embarrassment before I turned and walked over to referee between Lee and Fred.
So Cedric finally made his debut and will be sticking around for a while!
Very excited to be starting the next part of the story and as always, very happy to see more favourites, follows and reviews!