Chapter 1


September 13th


My mum gave me a good bit of advice once.

She told me that in order to find the perfect shoes, sometimes you have to deal with a few blisters. She wasn't speaking literally, of course, because, honestly, she really doesn't give two shits about shoes or finding the so-called perfect ones. The shoes are just a metaphor for life, even though I doubt there's any such thing as a perfect life. But whatever. She wasn't being literal. She was just saying that in order to get something good out of life, sometimes you have to deal with the bad. The blisters.

And god, have I got a shit ton of blisters at the moment.

A year out of school, and I should be well on my way to being independently wealthy, right? Wrong. I haven't even got a job, much less independent wealth. All I've accomplished since leaving Hogwarts was going to a different type of school. And yes, I realize that in order to be a Healer, I have to spend three years in the academy studying, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. And I don't like it, by the way. I think it's a load of crap really because all of the people here are stuck up, and they all think they're absolutely brilliant. They aren't, of course. In fact, they're really not all that intelligent at all, which is scary when you think about it because these are the people who are going to be responsible for saving lives in the near future. I don't suppose they're stupid really, but they're definitely not as bright as they'd all like to imagine. I mean, yeah, I realize that to get in here, you've got to have at least six NEWTs, but so what? I've got eight. But I don't go 'round bragging about it like most people here would.

And wow, do they really dislike me…

Not all of them. I've got a few friends, but it's definitely not like when I was in school. When I was in school, I had loads of friends, but now I'm surrounded by people who are far too self-aware and who, for some reason, seem to think that being nice to the Minister of Magic's daughter makes them unprogressive or some load of bollocks. I don't know, I don't pretend to understand their logic. It's ridiculous anyway if you ask me. It's not as if they dislike my mother because nearly everyone loves my mother. But apparently I'm a spoiled rich brat who doesn't know anything about living in the real world. And apparently, I got into the Healing Academy based off of my name and my mother's connections. Or at least that's the story you're likely to hear if you ask people around here. It's stupid, of course, because I more than earned my way in here. In fact, I'm probably the most qualified person out of my entire class. But they don't care about that; they'd rather make up lies and spew bullshit about the reasons behind my place here.

And pulling the whole spoiled rich brat card is so cliché that it's almost sad.

Yes, my parents have money. Yes, they are famous. Yes, my mother is the bloody Minister. So what? None of those people have got any clue about anything that goes on in my house or about the way I was raised. I wasn't overly-indulged (maybe a bit, but who's keeping score?), and I certainly wasn't waited on hand and foot. I know how to do laundry, I know how to cook, I know how to iron, and I know how to clean a toilet. On top of that, I know how to do all of it the Muggle way as well, which is a lot more than can be said for a lot of the idiots here. It's stupid that they would even use that argument when the great lot of them all come from wealthy backgrounds themselves. But I guess just because their parents aren't as in the public eye as mine that it's alright to use that excuse when hating me.

Whatever. I don't care.

I'm just here to do my work, finish my training, and hopefully get a good job at a hospital. It just sucks thinking that I've got to stay here for two more years, but that's life, I suppose. I do wish I was making money, though. I don't like listening to all my friends talk about their salaries. They're all already working in real jobs, and I'll admit, I am a bit jealous. Mum says not to worry about it because when I finish school, I'll be making more money than most of them and I won't feel quite as jealous. I hope she's right. Of course, she also says I shouldn't be so concerned about money because there is more to life than numbers and salaries, but that's easy for her to say when she's pulling in hundreds of thousands a year, now isn't it? I don't know, maybe I shouldn't be so concerned about it. After all, money can't buy happiness, can it? Some of the richest people I know are the unhappiest, so I guess there's some merit to it.

But I haven't really got anything else here to make me happy, either. Like I said, I've got a few friends, but I wouldn't call them extremely close or anything. All of my best friends are at real jobs now, and I actually miss them terribly. It's getting a little easier (just because it's more common), but it was extremely weird when I first started here. Being away from all my friends was awful, and I spent more time being homesick in the first month here than I did in all seven years at Hogwarts.

And I've got a boyfriend, which makes it even worse.

I miss him the most out of everyone, even though we're always sort of on again/off again. At the moment we're on again, which is good, but I'm sure we'll be off again before too much longer. It's never serious when we break up. I don't even know why we do it half the time, probably we're just bored or something. It keeps things interesting, though, because making up is loads of fun. And in order to make up, you've got to break up, haven't you? We don't ever see other people when we break up, mostly because we always know we'll be over it in a few days. I did go out with one other guy once, and I even kissed him. That was the longest we ever stayed broken up because Scorpius got really mad at me over it. So I didn't kiss anyone else.

Scorpius Malfoy. That's my boyfriend. We've been dating for a really long time now; well, a few years anyway. I was fifteen when we started going out, and now I'm nineteen. So that's a long time when you're a teenager, or at least I think it is. None of my friends have ever dated anyone that long. Some people say it doesn't count because we've "broken up" so many times, but whatever, it counts. We don't seriously break up. If we were to seriously break up, I would know. It hasn't happened yet. The people who say that are just jealous.

He's really nice, Scorpius. And very, very, very cute. He plays Quidditch professionally, which is cool, even though I hardly ever get to see him play. He plays for Tutshill, and I'm all the way in Northern Ireland. That's a really long distance when you miss someone. It's not as if we're entirely cut off from each other, though, seeing as how we're both able to Apparate and all that sort of thing, but it's still really difficult. Just finding time that works for both of us is hard, not even throwing in all the international traveling logistics that really makes it a pain. But we deal with it. He gets a nice hiatus in the spring, right around my final exams, of course, but it's still nice. He loves what he does, so that's what really matters. He's only been playing a year, so he isn't a big star or anything like that yet, but that's probably better anyway. My cousin is a Quiddtch star, so I've seen what it does to people, and I'm sort of happy that Scorpius hasn't got to that point yet. Of course, some people have unfavorable things to say about his chosen profession- my dad mainly, which is no surprise because he sort of has something unfavorable to say about everything that Scorpius does. It's stupid, though, considering how much he loves Quidditch and how hard he's tried to drill that same love into my brothers and me all our lives. But when Scorpius got an offer, Dad just made a face and then grumbled something stupid about how people shouldn't date professional Quidditch players because they're all "stupid, ruddy bastards, the whole lot of them." And Mum just rolled her eyes and let out a very loud, exasperated sort of sigh. I didn't ask, I don't want to know.

Scorpius is nice and normal and very sweet to me. And he tells me he loves it and means it, which is really wonderful. And I trust him completely and know he never lies to me. And he's my best friend. So it's great really. I just wish he were a little bit closer… That way I could see him all the time and not just for random quick weekend visits that don't happen too often in the first place.

So that's my life at the moment- full of lovely blisters.

Another shit part of my life is that the day begins at seven fucking thirty. Now, I'm not exactly a night owl, but I don't particularly enjoy waking up at the arse-crack of dawn, either. Seriously, I don't understand the point of 7:30 AM classes. How do they expect anyone to be able to retain knowledge that early in the morning? And since I have to be in class at that time, I've got to be out of bed no later than six if I want to have a shower and breakfast. I thought I was running late this morning and nearly had a panic, but I'm actually one of the first people here. And this is how I like it.

Honestly, I really am interested in my studies. I genuinely like learning, and the coursework is actually really interesting. I can't wait until I actually get into the field and start doing hands-on work (we're supposed to start that later this term, and I'm very happy about that). The only thing I really dislike about this academy is the make-up of the student body. So when I'm alone in a classroom and have time all to myself to read and absorb some of the information, I really find it quite enjoyable.

It doesn't last, of course, because I'm not that early. Before long, the classroom is starting to fill up, and people are off in their own separate cliques. It's so much like Hogwarts that it almost doesn't seem as if I've left. The only difference, of course, is that instead of being in one of the cliques, I'm one of the people sitting alone at a table hunched over a book and pretending not to notice anyone else. Of course, that's a lie because I'm actually hyper-aware of everyone, but the trick is acting as if I'm not. And I've gotten quite good at it if I do say so myself.

Finally, at 7:28, one of my friends shows up. Maribel slides into the empty chair beside me, messy and out of breath as usual. She has a habit of showing up everywhere just in the nick of time, and she also has a habit of rolling out of bed without so much as combing her hair. It's okay, though, because she still manages to look amazing anyway. I sort of hate her for that, but she's one of the very few people here who I can stand so I tolerate it.

"I overslept," she whispers, pulling out her books just as Professor Langley enters the classroom.

"No shit," I whisper back. "I never would have guessed."

Maribel is pretty much the opposite of me. She is habitually late or nearly late. She is unorganized and messy. She's smart, but she doesn't care for studying too much. And perhaps most irritating, she's effortlessly attractive. She's completely unaware of her looks, too, which is also maddening. She could be the center of attention and extremely popular if she wanted to be, but it's almost as if she doesn't even notice that we don't have any friends. She certainly doesn't care.

A lot of the students here were with me at Hogwarts, though only a few of them were actually in my year. Most people don't make it in here on their first try, so there are several older people that are in my year here. Maribel is one of the people who didn't attend Hogwarts, though. She's Spanish actually, and she went to school at Beauxbatons. And yes, she's trilingual, which also makes me a bit jealous because I can't speak anything other than English and a bit of butchered French that my cousin tried to teach me when I was eight. The problem, though, is that even though my cousin's half-French, she's crap at the language. So I barely speak any, and what I do know is riddled with inconsistencies and incorrect phrasing.

Professor Langley shoots us a look that clearly says shut up, so we do. Shut up, I mean. We're studying potentially fatal hexes at the moment, which is great if you know anyone who you might want to seriously injure or kill. I suppose that's not what we're supposed to be taking from the lesson, but it's a bit more interesting than taking notes on how to treat the injuries. I do take notes, though, because even though I might not find it particularly interesting, chances are that it's going to show up on an exam. And I'm determined to stay at the top of my class, if for no other reason than to drive certain people here insane.

Certain people like Laura Ellis.

Laura's one of the few people here who graduated with me at Hogwarts. She was Head Girl and all that rubbish, and I don't think she's ever got past it because she still walks around acting as though she's in charge of the world. She's hated me since we were about eleven years old, and sadly, I'm not even exaggerating. She has always had it out for me, but it wasn't until we got here that she ever had the balls to start saying shit straight to my face. At Hogwarts, she used to just make rude faces and roll her eyes and huff and puff at me, but since we've been here, she's turned into a complete and total raging bitch who makes it her life mission to make my own life miserable.

And sadly, she does a pretty good job of it.

So you can imagine how positively thrilled I am when Professor Langley decides to break us up into groups and assigns Maribel and I to the table where Laura is already sitting with her friends. I try not to roll my eyes because lately I've been making a conscious effort to be a more positive person and to stop being so sardonic all the time. I think I'm doing alright, though I definitely have moments where I slip. I'm sort of sarcastic by nature, kind of bitchy even when I don't mean to be. I'm working on it.

"Oh, how lovely of you to join us," Laura says with disgustingly fake sweetness.

I don't reply. Of course, I have to forcibly bite my tongue to keep from making some rude remark back, but I do it. Because I'm more mature than that. And also because Professor Langley is quite within hearing distance.

"You've probably already done this assignment, haven't you?" Laura presses on. "I know how you love to be top of the game and all."

I don't even look up. I just start spreading my things out in front of me. And yes, I have done the assignment- I did it last week as a matter of fact, but just for practice. So screw her.

We get to work on the project (it's very boring, especially the second time around), and I find myself distracted and daydreaming. I do that a lot lately, and I'm not sure why. It isn't like me to be so easily distracted, but lately I find myself dazing and becoming preoccupied with stupid girlish thoughts. It's definitely the lack of attention in my life, I'm quite sure. I'm getting more and more homesick all the time, and daydreams somehow keep my mind tricked into thinking that I'm not as lonely and as miserable as I really am. It's ridiculous, of course, because it's not as if I have no one to talk to, but I don't have the people I want most, and that's what makes it bad, I suppose.

"Is that alright with you, Princess?"

I look up, snapped out of my daydream by the familiar nickname. Several people have taken to calling me Princess in a really sneering sort of manner. It's because of Mum, of course- just one more thing for them to hate me for. It's really annoying, especially since it's caught on so quickly. It wouldn't be so bad if people weren't so malicious about it. It's ridiculous really because it isn't as if me being the daughter of the Minister is a new thing. It's been that way for over three years now, but like I said, things are much different here than they were at Hogwarts. For example, at Hogwarts, I didn't constantly want to stab my own eyes out. Here, I think about doing such at least six times a day.

"Sorry?" I ask back, not caring that my voice sounds as bitchy as I feel. "I didn't quite catch the mindless chatter, so I'm not sure what you're referring to."

Laura sneers at me and tosses her hair. Julia Tantem gives me an equally unflattering look and replies. "We're going to split the treatment effects up between us, ranging from least effective to most. If that's alright with you, of course." Her tone of voice very nearly matches my own.

"That's fine," I shrug, disinterested. "I've already done them all anyway, so my part is finished."

"Oh, of course," Julia replies. "And I'm sure you'll be thrilled to look over ours as well, won't you?"

"Well, I'll have to," I say back, keeping as straight of a face as possible. "After all, I don't want to fail the assignment now, do I?"

Maribel snickers, but she shuts up when Laura, Julia, and their friend Eric all shoot her dirty looks. I feel a bit bad for Maribel because people wouldn't hate her nearly as much if she weren't friends with me. On the other hand, she happens to be one of very few people I can stand around here, so I'll selfishly keep her- even if it is detrimental to her own social life.

By the time class ends, I'm more than exhausted of patience for the rotten bitches and bastards I'm surrounded with. It took every bit of my self-control not to start using the hexes in the lesson on the people around me. I had to sit on my hand so that it didn't grab my wand and start firing off hexes under the table. One of these days I'm not going to have quite so much self-control.

And it'll be a great day.

My flat is warm when I get home, a nice change from the chilly September air outside. It's too quiet, though, which bothers me just a bit because I've gotten to the point where I rather hate quiet. My roommate, Lola, must be out because she definitely isn't anywhere in sight. Lola is alright. We actually get along fine, but she's very, very different than me. We were assigned as flatmates last year, and since we didn't have any major arguments or blow ups, we opted to stay together this year as well. It's fine really; it's just that Lola is extremely… boisterous. And she has lots of boyfriends- none of whom are actually her boyfriend. That can get annoying, having different men trounce through here all the time at all hours of the day, but it could be a lot worse, I suppose. She could be a stuck-up bitch who hates me or something, so at least she's not that.

It is annoying, though. Lola with her countless boys and me with none to be seen. Sometimes it almost makes me wish that I had that sort of freedom, too- the freedom to just go out with whomever I want whenever I want. Sometimes I think it has to be better than waiting around on a boy I sometimes don't even see once a month. But then I remember why I do it, and that always gives me the patience to deal with it all. And it'll all be worth it, I know it will. Things will change eventually; we just have to deal with the situation now and look forward to the future. Because that's when things will get better. And I'm sure we'll break up and get back on about fifty times before then, but hey, at least it keeps things interesting, right?

And I love him. A lot. And yeah, maybe I'm nineteen, but so what? If you knew half the shit we've been through and had to put up with, you'd know why young age is the least of our problems. I can't even go to his house and have dinner, and if he happens by my house, dinner turns into a half hour of uncomfortable silence. It's stupid, and it's entirely annoying and ridiculous. However, it's obviously not something that's going to change any time soon. Our families have had plenty of time to come to terms with things, and they all still continue to act like children. So that's fine. It doesn't do anything but really help to cement our feelings because at least we know we've got to be serious about things if we're willing to put up with all of that shit.

I go through the flat to my bedroom at the back, and I'm not at all surprised to open the door and spot two owls waiting impatiently on my windowsill. I drop my bag onto the bed and hurry over to let them in. The first nearly pecks my hand off as I take the letter from her beak- apparently I don't offer the owl treats quickly enough… I recognize Mum's handwriting on that one, so I drop it onto the desk for later and reach for the second one. I'm more cautious this time, and I toss a couple of treats in front of the owl before I take the letter. Damn. That one's from Al. Nothing from Scorpius. He hasn't written me in three days. The only reason I even know he's alive is an article published in The Daily Prophet yesterday about the fall training season; there was a quick quote from him about the way the ugly weather is affecting their training schedule. I know I shouldn't be like that because it's stupid and petty and I don't want to be that girl. But it's hard for me because I miss him so much, and I just want to know what's going on in his life since I rarely ever get to see for myself.

I'm not in the mood to read either Mum's or Al's letters because they're both probably infinitely happier than I am at the moment, so I leave them both on the desk and reach instead for that morning's copy of the Prophet. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, and really I couldn't care less, but I'm somehow so extremely bored at the moment that I'm willing to read. For once, there's nothing about any of my family members on the front page. That's an extreme rarity all in itself because there's always something about my family on the front page. Not today, though; instead, there's a huge article about the upcoming start of the Quidditch season. Of course. Everything in the bloody world seems to revolve around Quidditch. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I wish it had never been invented.

But sometimes I'm selfish.

If you had asked me two years ago how you thought my future would be going, I probably would have told you that I'd be happy with lots of friends and a jumpstart on what would eventually turn into an amazing career. And I probably would have told you that my boyfriend would be around a lot more than he actually is and that, while maybe the distance caused a bit of trouble, it wasn't enough to actually matter or mean anything. I'm sure I wouldn't have guessed that I'd be hated and ostracized and that Scorpius would be too busy playing some stupid sport and talking to newspapers to even write to me.

My life is shit.

I try really hard to be positive and to focus on the reason I'm here, but sometimes it's too hard. And sometimes all I want to do is go home and curl up with someone who loves me, but he's not here. And sometimes I wonder if it's even worth it. This isn't the way I imagined it, and I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to put up with this. I need someone here, just one person would do. But everyone I care about is miles and miles away. And the one person I care about the most is too busy to even answer letters. But it is worth it, though- I know it is. He's worth it, and I just have to be patient and make it through this part of my life. After this, things have to get easier. They just have to. After all, I'm pretty sure they couldn't get much worse.

I just have to deal with the blisters.

So I won't get angry, and I won't get upset, I won't allow myself to. I'll just keep that in mind and carry on being the supportive girlfriend because that's who I need to be right now. I've got pretty good at hiding things, and this is one thing that I'll keep tucked away for the time being. Things'll get better in the future; I've just got to deal with the now. So with that in mind, I sit up and grab parchment and a quill from my bedside table and decide to write my own letter.

After all, at least one of us should be making an effort to keep in touch…


A/N: So I promised a sequel, and here's the start. It isn't a really explosive beginning or anything, so I hope too many people aren't disappointed. It'll get better, though, as more people start showing up and the plot begins developing. I decided to go ahead and follow the same sort of format as before because I think it helps me develop the characters more.

As always, thanks for reading, and I'd love it if you'd review!