The Scream

They had met in Herbology. She could remember how much Katie hated the subject, tossing her hair and insisting that it was nothing but a waste of time. She personally liked it, to tell the truth, but didn't say anything for fear of upsetting her. She resorted to helping her with homework instead, and soon they were doing their studying together every night, sometimes in her common room, with the lush red carpet and warm fireplace, or in her own, where they could sneak next door to the kitchens and grab a snack if they felt peckish during their study hours. Katie depended on her with Herbology, and in return, she helped her with Potions.

She loved her personality. Katie had always been bubbly and outgoing type, and was never afraid to speak her mind. When Leanne was teased by the Slytherins in fifth year for being a half-blood, Katie was the first person to stand by her side and face them until they backed off. No one dared to hurt her when Katie was nearby.

Katie also trusted her; she had told her about her crush on George Weasley in her third year, and they spent countless nights giggling about it instead of doing their homework, as they made up fantastical stories about their future together. They were inseparable, not only because they had so much in common, but also because they confided in each other so much.

Leanne personally wasn't a big fan of Quidditch, and wasn't very good at it either, but she went to every single Quidditch match just to see her best friend. Every time she saw her shoot up into the sky, brown hair flying madly behind her as the wind blew against it, she always felt paranoid that Katie would fall. Thankfully, she never did. Even if Gryffindor was playing against Hufflepuff, Leanne would be the only one cheering from the Hufflepuff stands when Katie Bell scored a clear goal into the hoops.

She couldn't imagine a day without her Gryffindor friend. It was an idea that seemed alien and incomprehensible, to the point where she couldn't even begin to think about it without feeling very uncomfortable. Before she met Katie, she had survived perfectly well on her own, but after Katie had come into her life, Leanne knew just what she had been missing all this time – a real friend.

It was the winter of their sixth year, and they were in Hogsmeade after an unspoken agreement that they would go together, since none of the boys had asked any of them out. They bought bagfuls of sweets at Honeydukes, deciding to ignore the fact that Katie was trying to watch her weight, and ate as they walked. Leanne watched as Katie toyed with the countless tricks and magical objects at Zonko's, collapsing into fits of laughter when a spring accidentally hit her friend in the eye. After strolling around for a bit more, they decided to get Butterbeers at Rosmerta's.

As Leanne sipped at her drink and savoured the sweet, syrupy flavour, Katie licked the remaining froth off the top of her mug and announced that she was to go to the bathroom. Leanne asked if she could go with her as well. She knew she didn't have to ask; they always went to the bathroom together, out of paranoia that a troll would attack them like one did to Hermione Granger. However, Katie said no. Leanne thought for a moment that this was slightly out of the ordinary, but quickly dismissed it.

She should have known better.

Katie emerged from the bathroom with a small package in her hands, wrapped in brown string. Leanne didn't notice it until they had finished their drinks and walked out of Rosmerta's. The chilly, strong wind whipped at their faces, and threatened to push them back where they came from, but they moved on relentlessly, keeping their heads down to shield their faces from the biting cold. At times like this, they would have agreed to hold hands and face the wind, but not today.

Leanne suddenly noticed that Katie was acting a little strange. She seemed… off, for some reason that only she could tell. Leanne glanced up at her and gasped softly. Katie's wide blue eyes were unfocused and staring straight ahead. Something was definitely not all right. She was gripping the small package tightly, her fingernails digging into the brown paper and leaving indents in it.

"What's that, Katie?" she asked. Katie didn't seem to notice that she was speaking to her for a moment, but quickly snapped out of her trance before Leanne could ask again. She looked at her, glanced down at the package in her hands and mumbled, "Nothing."

Leanne knew better. Katie had always been a horrible liar; the furtive glances gave it all away. "Who's it for?" she asked again, reaching out at an attempt to take the package from her hands.

"No!" Katie suddenly shrieked loudly, wrenching the package from her grasp. Leanne jumped. What was going on with her? She paused hesitantly for a moment, but decided to try once again. "Is it a present?"

"No, it's not! Leave me alone!" Katie replied hotly. Leanne suddenly felt rather concerned – what was in the package that made Katie feel so anxious about it? If it wasn't a present, then what was it? "Come on, you can tell me. I'm your friend, Katie."

"It's nothing to do with you, Leanne!"

Now she knew something was wrong. Katie never acted like this towards her. Acting on a whim, she reached out again and pulled the package from her. The brown string came undone; Katie cried out and yanked it back. The two of them scrabbled and fought over the small brown box in what seemed like a game of tug-of-war, until the package fell out of their hands to the ground. Before it did, however, the brown paper ripped, and Leanne's eyes caught a flash of silver and blue as Katie reached for whatever lay inside.

What followed seemed to be happening in slow motion. At first Katie rose into the air, turning gracefully as if she were dancing a ballet, and Leanne could do nothing but look upwards at her as she did. She was about to ask how Katie had managed to fly without a broom, and was even going to shout for joy, when she noticed something terribly wrong.

Not only was Katie suspended at an awkward angle, but she looked unconscious; no, she was unconscious. Her eyes were closed, her face pale and blank, and her arms were outstretched as the fierce wind continued to blast her dark hair this way and that. Leanne stopped and watched as she rose higher and higher, feeling increasingly helpless. Then, when Katie had reached about six feet, her eyes suddenly shot open and she let out a bloodcurdling scream.

It was a scream like nothing she had heard before. It tore through her and sliced at her ears, the pain and anguish seeping into her very being. The agony was overwhelming. And worst of all, it was happening right in front of her, and she could do nothing to stop it from happening.

So she screamed too. She frantically pulled at Katie's ankles, trying to drag her back down, but Katie did nothing but screech like a banshee. Leanne was close to tears; she felt as if she were on fire, being burnt alive with her best friend. They screamed and screamed and screamed for all the world to hear.

Leanne didn't notice Harry Potter and his friends running towards her, didn't notice how they grappled at Katie's ankles and tried to pull her down, didn't notice when she collapsed in a heap on top of the four of them, still screaming. Harry, Ron and Hermione held her down as she thrashed about and flailed her arms, her eyes cold and unseeing. She turned a deaf ear to Harry's cries for help, "Someone's been cursed!" – she could only hear Katie's voice echoing again and again throughout her mind. The gut-wrenching pain was driving her mad, her throat was hurting, and her legs had gone weak. She was crying, too – the tears spilled out of her and flooded the wells of her eyes, then proceeded to stream down her face without pause…

"It's time to go. You've been here for hours."

The insistent, worrying voice of Madam Pomfrey was right next to her, but Leanne didn't react. She hadn't moved since the moment she sat on the chair next to the bed. She was holding Katie's lifeless hand, willing it to move, or even twitch slightly, to show that she was all right. She wanted someone to comfort her and tell her that everything was going to be fine, but that person who usually was the one to reassure her was deathly pale and lying in a hospital bed.

"I have to transfer her to St. Mungo's in a second. I'm sorry, Leanne, but you must leave now." Now the mediwitch's voice was sounding more urgent and stern than before.

"Can't you just give me two minutes or something?" she asked desperately, not even caring how her voice broke several times in that one simple sentence. Madam Pomfrey stared at her for a long while, but then her expression softened and she nodded. "Very well," she said kindly. "But only two minutes, and you'll have to leave."

Leanne didn't take her eyes off Katie, and heard the indistinct click of the door as it shut. She let out a shaky breath as she stared at her friend. Katie's eyes were now closed, and she was so pale that Leanne would have thought she was dead, if not for the weak pulse that she could feel from holding her hand. Leanne felt hollow inside. Her emotions were in a whirl, her thoughts in a complete jumble as they tumbled about in her mind, and she couldn't think straight as the world around her suddenly started to spin. She felt disoriented and confused, still in shock from what had just happened less than five hours ago.

She couldn't understand why, but she had always felt like she cared about Katie to a depth that her friend could never achieve. She admired her grace and easygoing smile when they spoke to each other, but she never let herself dwell too much on those thoughts. The truth was, Leanne felt as if she had a secret which she herself didn't know. But now that she was staring at her unconscious friend, she could see her beauty up close – that perfect nose and her long, dark hair, and the lithe hand she was holding in her own right this second.

She reached out a hand and touched her hair, caressing it and admiring how it flowed through her hands like a dark silk curtain. "Come back to me, Katie," she whispered softly. "Don't go…"

Author's Note:

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, considering Leanne is such a minor character. Please click the review box below and tell me whether you agree! Thanks, as always :) If you want more Leanne stories, check out Buttercups, a short piece set sometime after this one.