A/N: This story is the mark of my very first attempt at writing. It began taking shape when I was but twelve years old (I didn't start posting until years after that). Since then, I've written two further stories continuing from this one—and I plan on writing three more. Since writing this first story I have gone through and made drastic changes to it. I am STILL in the process of editing, so you may notice that there are chapters missing at the end, but I assure you I am very nearly finished for good! I had to remove the last three chapters as they needed to be completely re-written in order to make this into the story I meant it to be. Hopefully you'll all read and enjoy it (and review), and try to forgive any weak spots that mark the trials of a first-time writer.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my character and my plotline. Everything you recognize, including characters, plot developments, settings, and certain scenes and lines from the Harry Potter series, belong to JK Rowling.
- CHAPTER ONE-
What's In a Name?
Juliet Annabelle Christie.
It's not a name I would have picked out for myself—that goes without saying. I much prefer something a bit less romantic (because, trust me, I'm anything but). Of course, if you could name yourself, I doubt anyone would pick out the same name their parents chose for them. Alas…
…I suppose it'll do.
I've been told my name even suits me, and I guess I can understand why. English literature—although usually studied more thoroughly by Muggles—sometimes finds its way into the wizarding world. I've never found it to be particularly interesting stuff, although I have perused a few of Shakespeare's plays…one of which caught my attention due to my name being in the title.
I wasn't exactly pleased with my mother's choice to name me after a tragic character she had read about in a lousy Elizabethan play. Everything was death and lies and deceit—all done in the name of romance. I couldn't think of anything more cliché.
For anyone who knows me, they'll know romance has never been on the top of my list. Deceit and lies, on the other hand, have always been amongst my strengths.
Thus, I've come to terms with my name—even found it amusing that I was named for a silly girl who loved too much and thought with her heart instead of her head. Quite ironic that I should be her opposite.
As if my mother hadn't chosen a frilly enough first name for me, she had to tack Annabelle on as a supporter.
Actually, I think it was my dad who chose than one. Annabelle is supposed to stand for beauty and grace.
Ironic, again, that I should be blessed with the grace of giraffe with its neck caught in a tornado. I don't think you'd manage to find a less graceful individual in all of Britain. Mum laughs that I have two left feet. I can scarcely walk in a straight line. On top of that, my closest mates are boys. That certainly hasn't helped me in the grace department.
As for my last name—Christie—it's Scottish, I can tell you that much. Maybe that's why I'm so stubborn. There's never been a more stubborn folk than the Scots. I've lived in England all my life, mind, but I'm strangely proud of my Scottish background. There's something very gallant about the manor in which Scots behave. They're not to be messed with, and that's something I'd like to think I've inherited as well. My mates would disagree, as they mess with me on a frequent basis. They think its good fun. I do not.
And there you have it.
Juliet Annabelle Christie.
Not my first choice—if I had a choice in the matter. But, it has its redeeming qualities.
Apart from my name, there are a few things I reckon are worth mentioning.
I'm fifteen. I've never thought age was anything more than a number—I tend not to act my age—but I think it's important, nonetheless. I'm a Gryffindor, and I'm headed into my fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (I assume everyone knows what that is). I'm an only child, and I live at home in a small town in England with my parents Margaret and Kirk. I'm a witch, and both my parents are magic. Mum's mother was a Muggle, so I've got some Muggle background, although I couldn't tell you the difference between a dishwasher and a tellyvision if my life depended on it.
My best mates are, and always have been, Fred and George Weasley. The two of them, along with Lee Jordan (who comes in at a close third), can all safely be called my greatest friends in the world. Of course, I have my qualms about telling them that. They'd tease me relentlessly if they knew I actually cared that they were my friends. Behaving like a girl when your best mates are boys is a thoroughly foolish endeavour, and would certainly result in flobberworms slipped into your sheets.
Fred, George, Lee, and I have been good mates since our first year at Hogwarts. From the moment we—as first years—climbed into the boats leading up to the castle and George effectively shoved me overboard, I knew we'd never separate. This may have been due to the fact that I fought back and exacted revenge, thus sending the group of us spiralling into a battle of pranks…but it worked out all the same.
Yeah, from day one there was no hope for me.
Five years later, and we were still attached at the hip—drawn together by some inexplicable force. There wasn't anything that would keep the four of us apart.
Fred and George, who were seated in front of me on the Hogwarts Express on the way to Hogsmeade station, had changed a lot since I had first met them. Although neither was particularly tall, they had once been dwarfed by me. Now, having caught up to my height over the summer, they were starting to gain speed. Soon I knew they'd tower over me.
Aside from that, they had bulked up. Quidditch was a passion of all three of ours, and Fred and George definitely had the bodies for it. They were Beaters, which meant they were accustomed to handling a lot of weight on their shoulders and arms. With the muscles they had built up, they would almost be intimidating…if it weren't for the constant grins on their faces and the ever-present glint of mischief in their eyes, of course. Nevertheless, it was impossible to deny that they had done a lot of changing over the past five years.
Lee, although still sporting the same dreadlocks from two years previously, had grown up a lot too. He had taken to letting his facial hair grow out to show off to the rest of the world—although it wasn't much to be proud of. We laughed at him, but he took it all in good humour. Lee had never been one to pick a fight over trivialities.
Of course, they would argue that I had changed the most of the four of us. I guess it was true. As a girl, I was destined to grow up before the rest of them. Puberty had hit me like a train wreck, let me tell you, and at the time I was reeling at my decision to group myself with three boys. They teased me relentlessly—naturally.
Although that awkward phase was short-lived, there was now no denying the fact that I was a girl (Fred had previously taken to suggesting I truly was a boy with unusually girlish features and long hair). If any of them had any sort of tact at all, they would apologize for teasing a young girl during her awkward body-issues phase, but instead the three went straight to commenting on how weird it was that I showed up one year to school with curves. Bloody boys.
I can't say as my looks really set me apart from the other girls at school. I have dark auburn hair—a shade that was inherited neither from my mum nor my dad (who are both brunettes) and brown eyes. I suppose I'm nice looking. I've had my share of attention from guys at school, but as far as dating goes, I haven't really had the desire for it.
Of course, I'm well aware that that's all subject to change.
I gazed at the three boys—all of them seated in the same small compartment as I was, and listened in on their conversation. Fred and George, who had spent the majority of their summer causing massive explosions in their room back at the Burrow, were giddy with excitement over a new Zonko's joke product they had purchased.
I had heard the story countless times. Fred and George had roped me into staying with them for the final week of summer holiday. It had been the most exhausting week of my life, to say the least. It seemed not only were the twins interested in buying joke products, but they had taken to trying to make some as well.
By the time the week was up, I was bloody knackered. And I'll be damned if I ever accept a seemingly innocent-looking sweet from them again.
"Ehem," George cleared his throat loudly. "What do you say we go give these a try on some new students?"
"You mean you've grown tired of using me as a test subject?" I asked, scowling at him. I was still not particularly happy about the fact that I spent my last week of summer holiday with a back covered in yellow feathers—ones that refused to shed by any means.
George chose to ignore my remark and stood up from his seat, gazing round at the rest of us expectantly.
Fred and Lee jumped up eagerly.
"No thank you," I told them with a yawn. "I've had enough madness to last me into next week. You three go on ahead."
The boys eyed me with surprise.
"You never pass up an opportunity to prank the new Slytherins," Fred commented.
"Yeah, what gives?" Lee asked. Although Fred and George clearly were the leaders of our little group, Lee readily agreed to almost everything the twins could come up with.
"It was only a couple of bad batches of Canary Creams," George reasoned, brushing it off as though the matter were trivial.
"We're still working out the bugs," Fred agreed. "Next time the side-effects won't be anywhere near as unfortunate."
I snorted, expressing my sincere doubt of that ever happening.
"Even so, I think I'd rather enjoy a bit of peace before we reach the castle," I told them. "I haven't had a moment alone since I left my house over a week ago."
The three boys shrugged.
"You can stay here then," George told me. "It's better that way anyway. Subtlety is ruined once you start tripping over your own feet."
The three of them—ignoring my rather rude hand-gesture—slid the compartment door open and readied themselves to leave.
"Don't hurry back," I called after them as they exited wearing similar looks of maniacal glee on their faces.
"Remember," Fred said idly as he was leaving, "if the Prefects come calling—"
"I saw nothing, I know nothing," I recited easily.
"Cheers," Fred approved.
I rolled my eyes at the three of them once they had left. Although all four of us had a certain knack for getting ourselves into trouble, the boys—Fred and George in particular—simply fed off of mayhem. Sometimes I wondered whether Molly and Arthur Weasley knew that they had spawned two thoroughly evil children.
I suppose if they did know, there really wasn't much of anything they could do about it now. The twins were an unstoppable force these days.
Slouching down in my seat (and trying to block out the hollers of horror coming from the first of Fred and George's victims outside), I peered out of the compartment window and let my gaze wander over the lush green fields. The sun was just starting to set outside, sending a beautiful array of colours into the sky. It was nice…being alone. Sometimes having no one around was better than being surrounded by your best mates. Tranquility really is a wonderful thing.
Sometimes I wondered if Fred and George even knew what it was to be alone. Surely neither of them had spent a day apart since they were born. I had a feeling the idea of peace and quiet would be a lost cause on them.
Of course, the thing about peace and quiet is that it never lasts. And it always seems to be broken by someone you'd rather not see…
I huffed out an irritated sigh as a tall, thin boy with spectacles and flaming red hair entered my compartment. He was already dressed in his black Hogwarts robes and Gryffindor tie and had a Head Boy badge pinned to his chest.
He is by far my least favourite Weasley. He is Fred and George's older brother, and the third eldest of all the Weasley children (of which there are seven in total).
To put it lightly, Percy is the single most arrogant and pompous prat I've ever had the misfortune of coming into contact with. If it weren't for the fact that I'm rather fond of his mother and father, I would have hexed his head off years ago…surely his siblings would have paid no mind to his demise.
He cleared his throat importantly as if to gather my attention.
"Miss Christie," he said pompously, his nose up high in the air.
"What do you want Perce?" I asked, letting annoyance colour my tone. I was never shy of expressing my distaste for Percy—something that definitely led to his equal dislike for me.
He gave an unimpressed huff and pushed his chest out importantly, as if to emphasize his power.
I snickered. It's a well-known fact that Percy and I do not get along. Being the best friend of his irresponsible, fun-loving, havoc-wreaking younger brothers is a quality he loathes about me. In my opinion, the fact that Percy's an arse-kissing, homework-loving, rule-abiding prick makes him just as bad as any one of the Slytherins. He may as well be one…what with the way he rats out his fellow Gryffindors on a daily basis.
Needless to say, Percy and I don't mesh well.
"Is there something you want, or are you just going to stand there?" I asked wearily.
"I see you've failed to rid yourself of that attitude you've acquired from my brothers," he commented, looking slightly taken aback by my bluntness.
I rolled my eyes up to the ceiling before letting them settle back on him. I waited, an expectant—and impatient—expression on my face.
He looked me over for a minute, realized I wasn't going to reply, and cut to the chase.
"The Prefects have had some complaints about those friends of yours, and I was hoping they'd be in here with you," he said. I didn't miss that he had referred to Fred and George as 'my friends' rather than 'his brothers'.
"Well as you can see, they're not here," I pointed out. "So if you don't mind, I was rather enjoying the quiet.
"Obviously they're not here," he said irritably. "I was hoping you could tell me where they have got to."
"I couldn't tell you Perce."
He exhaled angrily through that stuck-up nose of his.
"You really would be better off ridding yourself of those boys. The attitude certainly does not become you," he said. It sounded like a warning.
I rolled my eyes again. He is such a git.
"Of course I would," I answered unenthusiastically. "Tell you what…when I'm ready to shed myself of my impure and obnoxious friends I'll give you a shout."
His eyes narrowed at my sarcasm. It always amazed me that he was still surprised by my cheek. I had been straight with Percy from the beginning. If he was going to behave like an arse, I was going to treat him like one.
"If you see Fred and George, tell them they'd better keep themselves in check or they'll have me to deal with."
"They'll be shaking in terror, they will," I said.
Percy glared at me, but seemed to decide that an argument wasn't going to get him anywhere. With a final huff of resentment, he turned to leave.
Unfortunately, he didn't get far. Just as he was pushing his way through the compartment door, the twins and Lee were making their way back into the space. There was a collision as Fred, George, and Lee, laughing and imitating first years, ran into the elder Weasley boy.
Percy backed into the compartment as the other three boys piled in. They spotted him and stopped laughing immediately.
"Well, hello there, Perce," Fred said cheerfully. "Fancy a treacle tart?"
George thrust his hand out, holding what was very obviously not a treacle tart. It looked much more like the faulty Canary Creams I had become so accustomed to taste-testing during the last few days. Percy was a twit, that was certain, but he wasn't fool enough to take it from him.
"What are those things?" Percy inquired, staring at it as though it might bite at him. "Are these what you've been feeding the first years?"
"Condescending tone—" Fred said.
"Highly suspicious—" George listed.
"Perce, when are you ever going to learn to trust us?" Fred asked. "We are family, after all."
"Just because we are family, Fred, does not mean you can abuse my power," Percy stated.
Everyone—aside from Percy—snickered.
"Lee's got more power in his wispy whiskers than you do in your whole body," George laughed.
Percy flushed red. He looked as though he was struggling hard to remain composed.
"How dare you talk to me like that?" he exclaimed. "I may be your brother, but at school I am also Head Boy. I would think that you should know not to use that tone of voice around me."
"Ah, Perce," Fred said with a shake of his head. "It doesn't matter what label Hogwarts slaps on your chest. You'll always be Pompous-Prefect-Percy-the-Prat to us."
Lee, Fred, George, and I all roared with laughter at this comment as Percy's face turned a delightful shade of purple.
Our blatant disregard for the fact that he was an authority figure definitely did not sit well with him. But Percy could obviously see that he wasn't going to win this battle, so he threw us all another disgusted look and stormed out of the compartment with as much dignity as he could muster.
With Percy gone, I forgot all about wanting to spend some time in tranquility. Instead, the four of us settled once more into the comfort of our shared compartment and laughed about the twins' idiot brother before we had grown tired of him.
It was then that the conversation shifted to the happenings over the summer; namely—Sirius Black, the escaped murderer from Azkaban.
"What do you reckon he could be after?" Lee was asking.
"Not what, more like, who," I replied.
"I reckon its Harry," Fred answered, his mouth full of chocolate frogs. The trolley witch had come by earlier with sweets. I was careful to make sure anything I put into my mouth was branded by someone other than the Weasley twins. Merlin only knows what other concoctions the two of them have cooked up.
"It's obviously Harry you dolt," George said, his mouth equally as full as his brother's. "He helped murder his parents, so he must be after him."
"I heard Dumbledore is putting up extra security," Lee told us. "Maybe he thinks Black'll come looking at Hogwarts for Harry?"
"He wouldn't," Fred said assuredly. "He'd be barmy."
"Wouldn't get one foot in the door before Dumbledore had him gagged, tied and sent back to Azkaban," George agreed.
"I wouldn't be so sure," I cut in. "He's the only person who has ever escaped from Azkaban."
"So you think he'd manage to stage a break-in to the castle?" Fred asked, quirking his eyebrow in an expression of doubt.
"If you and George can sneak out, then I don't see why he wouldn't be able to find a way in," I answered.
George opened his mouth to say something in retort, but just as I finished speaking, the train started slowing down. George closed his mouth as our heads jerked around to stare out the window. It was now dark outside, and as the lights started to flicker and the train came to a stop, we were plunged into blackness. I could hear luggage falling off of the racks down the corridor with loud thuds.
"What's going on?" I heard Lee ask. I couldn't make out anything in the darkness of the compartment.
"We can't be there yet," George said, pressing his face up against the window. I doubted he could see much of anything. The sky had darkened over as night swiftly approached.
I got out of my seat and looked out of the compartment door. Down the corridor I could see heads poking out of their rooms to stare around in curiosity.
"Do you see anything?" Lee asked.
"No," I answered.
"There's something moving outside," Fred said from my right. There was a slight shake in his voice.
I moved from the door, closing it securely, and tried to make my way to the window to see what it was that the three boys were now staring out at.
I didn't make it very far, as I was stopped in my tracks.
An intense wave of cold swept over the entire compartment, chilling me to the bone. I shuddered.
"What's happening?" I heard Lee croak—he didn't seem to be able to speak properly.
I tried to answer back, but I too could not find my voice.
I sank backwards—falling so that I smacked into one of the boys—but I hardly noticed. I closed my eyes, hoping silently that whatever it was would pass.
I began to feel horrible, as if I would never be happy again. Half of me didn't want to see what it was that was causing such a horrible feeling, but I forced myself to open my eyes and look up at the compartment door. What I saw was horrible.
A dark hooded figure stood in the doorway, lingering there. I didn't see any eyes, but it seemed to be looking at us—staring at our faces through the dark. It stayed only for a few moments, but the feeling had been so intense that it felt like ages before it slunk away down the corridor again.
It drifted away just as eerily as it had come, and as quickly as the cold feeling had appeared, it left. The lights flickered, and then came back on as the train jolted into movement again.
Taking all of the energy I could, I straightened myself up. The person I had smacked into in the darkness had been Fred. I observed him, hoping I wasn't the only one who felt drained and depressed. He was staring idly out of the window with a blank expression on his face. Lee and George were looking at the floor. No one uttered a word.
The compartment door slid open and a wizard with greying hair and shabby clothes entered the small space.
"Is everyone all right in here?" he asked, glancing round at all of us. He was out of breath—as if he had been dropping into each of the compartments to check on the students. I wondered who he was—maybe he worked for the Ministry.
The four of us mumbled incoherently in response. It was the first time we had all been struck silent simultaneously. Percy would have been thrilled.
"Eat some chocolate," the shabby wizard said, pointing at the small pile of chocolate frogs that remained sandwiched between Lee and Fred. I was sure they were melted from rubbing against their clothing for the majority of the ride…although the coldness that had just swept through the train may have effectively frozen them solid.
None of us made a move to reach for a frog.
"Trust me, it'll help," the man said, and then he ducked back out of the compartment to hurry into the next.
It was several moments before any of us made any move to take a bite of the chocolate. The shabby wizard was right, though. As soon as I swallowed I could feel warmth flowing through my body. I quickly started to feel normal again, although my mind was still haunted by the picture of the dark figure in the doorway.
"What the bloody hell was that?" Lee asked, finally breaking the silence.
Neither Fred nor George answered—I wasn't sure if it was because they didn't know or because they were still unable to speak.
"A Dementor," I answered quietly.
"A Dementor?" Lee repeated.
I looked at the puzzled expression on his face.
"They guard Azkaban," George supplied, clearing his throat as he spoke and taking a bite of a chocolate frog.
"What was it doing here?" Lee asked, looking puzzled and horrified.
"Checking for Black?" George suggested with wide eyes.
"I don't know," I answered. I leaned back in my seat and hit my shoulder blade off of Fred's arm.
I turned to look at him. His face was pale and his eyes were still gazing out of the window. He hadn't touched any of the chocolate frogs yet.
"Are you ok?" I asked him.
His eyes flickered from the window to me, and then back again.
"Fred?" I asked.
"He was right," I said, pressing a frog into Fred's hand, "it does work."
"Thanks," he muttered, falling quiet as he munched on the candy.
The four of us sat in silence for several minutes while each of us chewed idly. The eerie feeling seemed to have lingered in the compartment with us, and it wasn't until George interrupted the silence once more that the air managed to clear.
"Who's up for a game of Exploding Snap?"
The Dementor was all but forgotten as the four of us settled once again into our usual selves as we awaited our arrival to Hogwarts.