Looking Beyond: Chapter Forty-Four: Falling From Great Heights
November continued, with the days growing colder and colder, but despite that, Hope found herself leaning against a stone rail of the viaduct. She always found that it was best to think in the open air, but maybe that wasn't always the best thing, especially in this kind of weather. She looked down, but the height didn't scare her (if it had, she would have been a fail as a Seeker).
She would have been sleeping, in fact, she should have been, but she couldn't. Her friends had been practically smothering her since the Halloween incident, and she could only handle so much. All she needed was to get away for awhile.
"Ah, I see you've found my old haunt."
Hope lifted her gaze from the frigid horizon to meet Remus Lupin's pale green eyes. "Hm?" she asked in confusion.
"My old haunt," Professor Lupin repeated, "whenever I needed to get some space, I'd come here." He smoothed a hand fondly over the stone.
Her lips twitched slightly. "From Dad?"
"Sometimes," Professor Lupin admitted. "My friends were a bit..." He struggled for the perfect word to describe them before giving up.
"Can't have gotten up to anything worse than the trouble Ron, Hermione, and I get into?" Hope asked in amusement.
Professor Lupin gave a slight wince. Tales of her adventures had reached his ears. Defeating Voldemort a second time and a third time, fighting a basilisk…yes, she had definitely surpassed James. "Well…maybe not as much trouble—"
She gave a short laugh as he said 'trouble'. "Sorry," she apologized with a grin, "it's just that Trouble is what we call George." A pale pink flush adorned her cheeks at the mention of her boyfriend (should she really call him that? They did kiss a couple of times, but they'd never actually talked about being girlfriend/boyfriend…). "My friends say I attract 'Trouble'."
"How clever of them."
"They seem to think so," she said with a shrug. She eyed his appearance; his robes were hanging loosely on his thin and wiry frame and he was leaning more on his cane and his scars were more prominent.
"Your time of the month is coming up, right?" she asked innocently.
"So eloquent with words," Professor Lupin said, skating over her question, because they both knew the answer to it, "you're very much like your mother in that aspect."
Hope sighed lightly. She had always hated being compared to her dead parents, that was all anyone saw…well, maybe not anyone. Now, she kind of got it. It was better to be James and Lily Potter's daughter than to be the Girl-Who-Lived any day. "Thank you," she said finally, "she must have been a sweet-talker."
Professor Lupin gave a light chuckle. "She could be," he admitted, "she was very good at lying."
Hope lifted her head sharply, an expression of complete and utter surprise splashed across her face. "Really?" she asked in a little bit of awe. "But I thought she was Head Girl."
"Oh, she was," Professor Lupin assured her, "but that didn't really stop her…she was much better at it than James was. That was something that always irritated him. He got into trouble a lot, and he could never really talk his way out of it."
"Sucks for him," Hope sang.
"Did you know that your father fell in love with your mother in first year and proceeded to chase her until seventh year?" Professor Lupin asked her.
"Really?" she said in surprise, her eyebrows drawing upwards. "I didn't know that."
"Lily thought that James was a bit of a toe-rag, too arrogant for her taste," Professor Lupin said, stroking his chin thoughtfully, "but he grew out of that arrogance, and she gave him a chance."
"I've never heard that one before," she said, leaning against the stone to look at him, canting her head slightly, her eyes glimmering a paler green (the colour of his eyes, he noticed) for a second.
"Here's something I want to know," she said in a faux-light voice that was always a bad sign, Professor Lupin winced slightly, "if you were really such good mates with my dad, then why didn't you ever come see me?" Her eyes were now frigid sapphires.
"Ah," Professor Lupin shifted uncomfortably, there was her infamous and sudden temper rearing its ugly head, "well—"
Hope crossed her arms, an unimpressed look on her face.
"I was told that it would be best if I didn't," Professor Lupin admitted.
"Told…right…" Hope turned her furious eyes away from him, her fingers curling into tight white fists. "And who said that?"
"Even better!" Hope snarled.
"I know you're mad at me, and you have every right to be," Professor Lupin said quickly, "but whatever distance I've kept from you was for your own safety."
"Safety? Are you kidding me?" she snapped. "I was ten when I was 'accidentally' pushed in front of a car! My family can't stand the very idea of me! Those so called blood wards are failing! I would be far better protected if I started carrying a Blood Stone around in my pocket!"
The bit about the Blood Stone caught his attention more than it should have. Blood Stones were incredibly rare and incredibly valuable in rune research. They were from a more obscure branch of magic that had come from Druidism. Now he saw what Filius had meant about her being more interested in old magicks.
"You wanted to live with someone else," Professor Lupin said quietly.
"Preferably someone who isn't anti-magic," Hope snipped, rolling her eyes slightly.
"I wouldn't have been able to take you in anyways," he said, trying to keep her as calm as it was possible to be, "I'm sure you're aware of the attitude the ministry has towards werewolves, they have laws that forbids them from caring for magical or muggle children."
"How kind of them," Hope grumbled, "I wouldn't have minded."
"Wouldn't have minded?" Professor Lupin asked a bit flummoxed. What, being a werewolf? Or living with one?
"I wouldn't have minded being raised by one."
Professor Lupin couldn't but feel a little lost…hadn't she just been mad at him? All he could do was shake his head.
It was late and the sky was unbelievably black with tiny pin-pricks of silver against the darkness. If Hope had had it her way, she would be out star-gazing, maybe even with George, but maybe she had bitten off more than she could chew with taking three electives.
She raked a hand through her loosely braided hair, exhaling a slow sigh and almost dislodging her wand from where it was tucked behind her ear, its tip being used to illuminate the parchment and the book she had lying open before her.
The Ankh was a symbol used commonly throughout Egypt, and it is a symbol well known in both the muggle and Wizarding worlds. It symbolizes life, but it is also associated with the Egyptian glyph for magical protection, sa. It is also said that the symbol is one of the sunrise-
Hope stilled her quill at the sound of something she couldn't decipher. She listened intently for a moment longer, and heard it again, the sound of something not unlike a pebble hitting glass. She replaced her quill and ink on the bedside table as she threw open the curtains that hid her bed from view, grinning and flushing with delight as she padded over to the window, opening in slightly.
George Weasley was hovering on his broomstick outside her dorm.
"What on earth are you doing?" she asked in awe, earning her a grin in return.
"You do understand the idea of kidnapping, don't you?" she asked in a dry voice. "You don't really tell the person you're kidnapping that you're kidnapping them."
"If I did that, you'd freeze to death," George said conversationally, before changing it to coaxing, "come on, Hope…stargazing…"
Her eyes lit with that manic light at the mention of one of her most favourite pastimes.
"I love you so much right now!" she whispered fervently so as not to wake up her dorm mates, leaning through the open window to give him a quick, firm kiss. "I'm going to get dressed, wait there."
George could only mouth wordlessly at the girl as she grabbed her clothes and disappeared into the bathroom to change out of her pyjamas. His brain was still trying to process that she had said "I love you" to him. Those were three words that the pair had never uttered, but that was a little understandable, they'd only just kissed on the last day of August, and their first date had technically been Halloween, and it was only November.
"Budge over, handsome."
George obediently slid back to accommodate her as she hoisted herself side-saddle onto the broomstick, wrapping an arm around his neck as they shot forward and into the night.
"You know, star-gazing always works better when it's not quite so cold," Hope mentioned in a light voice.
"Ah but I have an ulterior motive," George said, wrapping an arm gently but securely around her waist, pulling her closer to him and enjoying the flush that adorned her face.
"Oh?" she all but whispered.
"If you get cold you have me."
She laughed outright. "Oh my gods, you are completely terrible!"
"I get the feeling you've called me that before," he said in a musing voice.
"It's entirely possible," Hope agreed as he ducked his head to feather a kiss to her lips. Her fingers curled into the collar of his jacket as he took her breath away, only allowing her to breathe after a number of seconds had passed. "Maybe not the best thing to do on a broom, Georgie," she said lightly, her cheeks a dark red (oh, she hoped that he couldn't see it, but then, they were illuminated by moonlight and starlight).
"And why would that be?" His eyes were like two sapphires that had been planted in darkness as he swayed the broom slightly.
"Because I'll kill you," Hope threatened lightly as her grip on him tightened. "If you make me fall, I'll kill you."
George tilted his head back to laugh at her words. "Already forgotten what you said to me first year?"
Hope screwed up her face in thought as she tried to recall exactly what she had said to him, and then she remembered.
"George?" she whispered.
"Don't let me fall."
He chuckled ahead of her, one hand squeezing hers where they were still locked around him. "Never."
"Oh shut up!" she muttered, "that was a completely different situation, and you know it!"
"Maybe," George sang in an off key voice, before changing the subject a bit abruptly, "There was something that I wanted to ask you."
Hope leaned backwards slightly to look at him in the eye. He looked distinctly uncomfortable and embarrassed, not always a good combination. "What is it?" she asked, both curious and cautious.
She could feel him twisting his fingers.
"Will you be my girlfriend?"
Hope almost laughed, but that would have been mean. She had been expecting it to be something far more serious than asking her that.
"Oh, I don't know," Hope said with a wink, "I've met this really amazing guy."
"Amazing guy?" George repeated with a quirked eyebrow and a grin. "Anyone I know?"
"You might," Hope acquiesced, "see, he's got this pranking thing and he's much cleverer than he seems, sound like anyone you know?"
"Possibly," George said, "and what would you say to this amazing guy if he asked you to be his girlfriend?"
"Hm," Hope pondered lightly, "well, I would say that there would only be one man for the job."
It was only much later that Hope realized that they didn't get much around to star-gazing, but she wasn't too upset in the light of George's question.
The day officially sucked, that was Hope Potter's not so modest opinion. It was five in the bloody morning when she had awoken, the last thing she had wanted to do was be kept awake well into the morning when she could be sleeping, especially since today was the day of the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff match. Her temper was bad enough that it could probably boil over a kettle of tea.
First Malfoy claimed that his arm was still causing him trouble, when the truth was he didn't want to play in the weather that was raging outside…wimp (Madam Pomfrey, bless her soul, was threatening to file an inquiry with St. Mungo's if his pain progressed further than the next week; busted). Secondly, there was the whole waking up earlier than she should have (thus giving her time to complete all of the rest of her homework, but that didn't make Hope feel any better). And thirdly, there was the completely horrible weather outside, she hadn't even wanted to leave the comforts of her bed, but oh well.
Parvati had tied her dark crimson hair into a tightly braided bun so that the wind wouldn't whip it across her face too much, so that was one thing she wouldn't have to worry about, she thought to herself as she sat huddled with her Quidditch teammates. They were all so thickly padded down with clothes and the minimum protective gear allowed during games, that all of them could probably fall about fifty feet and still bounce back.
Oliver was the only one who seemed both very concerned, and very cheerful. Hope had to be commended for only threatening to kill him twice (she didn't want to tally up the threats to Hermione, Ron, Fred, or George, though George was probably holding the record).
"If he gives me any more hints I swear I'm going to take my wand-" Hope muttered under her breath to Angelina who burst into silent giggles as Katie made her lower her wand, for fear of her actually taking up her threat to her boyfriend.
"Calm, Hope, remember?" she asked mildly. "Weren't you practicing meditation, or something to help?"
"I was," Hope admitted, a bit as an afterthought. "I'm not very good at it."
"That's because you have to practice," Katie said bracingly, "deep breaths, alright? Keep the death threats to a minimum, yeah?"
Hope gave her an unlady-like grunt that wouldn't have been amiss with a couple of trolls. "I've only done two today!" she complained.
"And it's a great start," Alicia said, reaching over to pat Hope on the head like she was a child that had finally done something right. Hope whacked her hand away with a sneer.
"Oh, shut up," she snarled as the girls laughed at her. "You all think you're so clever."
"Very clever, yes," Angelina agreed.
Hope hefted a blunt butter knife at the dark-skinned girl. "I'm not afraid to use this on you, Johnson. I've got skills."
"With lock picks," Angelina jibed back, "don't worry, I think I'm safe."
Hope shook her head and mouthed wordlessly at her, completely dumbfounded.
"Wow," Ron said impressed, "I think that's the first time I've seen her at a loss for words."
"I must be imitating you, then," Hope said in irritation, regaining a bit of her inner (and outer) fire.
"Ra-ar!" Fred said, doing a bad imitation himself of a cat. "Wow! I didn't know you could be this…snappish."
"Snappish?" Hope said with a canted eyebrow. "My friend, it seems you are very confused, because this is the wonderful sarcasm that I enjoy employing on a daily basis."
"Do you really?" Fred asked in mock fascination. "I had no idea!"
"That could possibly stem from some serious memory loss that you should talk to Madam Pomfrey about," Hope said in a thoughtful voice, "or maybe if you pulled your lips off of Angie's for five seconds, you would know all this."
There was a collective "Oooh!" from those nearest as Fred's whole face burned brighter than his hair.
"Booyah," Hope said, pointing the butter knife at him know, "you cannot outsmart the master."
"I concede to one greater than I," Fred said solemnly as his twin –who had been surprisingly quiet throughout this whole exchange– sniggered beside Hope, an arm wrapped loosely around her waist. He had known something was different about them, but he didn't mention it. They were much more casual together than they had been before, and that was good. It was hard to imagine one without the other now, even more so than it had when they had first been considered 'a thing'.
It seemed a bit like a fairy-tale to Fred, the pauper getting the princess, but George didn't like her because she was rich, he liked her because she didn't try to change him or censor who he was, like their mother often did, often not knowing how much it hurt them.
"Hey, Pretty-boy," Hope laughed, drawing his attention away from his thoughts and to the black-and-yellow clothed Hufflepuff Seeker and Captain, Cedric Diggory, "ready to lose today?"
"Only if you are," the older boy said in a good naturedly way. "May the best man or woman win."
He held out his hand to her, which Oliver eyed suspiciously, but Hope didn't have the same reservations, grinning as she took it, shaking it once before bumping fists and wiggling her fingers.
"Wait a second," George said, a bit dumbfounded, "you have a handshake?"
"The Seekers do," Hope said with a shrug, "not including Malfoy of course. What? Doesn't anyone else have a handshake?"
"No," they all said.
"Hey, hey, Cho!" Hope yelled over to the Ravenclaw table, making the Chinese girl whom she had bested already on several occasions look up from her seat.
"Do the Seekers have a handshake?"
"Definitely," she said with a laugh.
Hope smirked at her boyfriend. "I guess you're not as cool as us, hot-stuff."
She was born ready for this match, and she knew she would have nailed it completely if Malfoy was playing, because she never lost to Malfoy, he was fair game, but Cedric on the other hand, he was going to require a bit more effort, but that didn't scare Hope.
She was used to giving her all during Quidditch matches, and she was going to show Professor McGonagall that she didn't need anybody to watch her be as good as she could be (because the woman had been downright scary, not wanting her to practice with the team if it limited Sirius Black's efforts to attack her; but Hope didn't care if he did attack her, because there was no way she was losing a Quidditch match).
She thought she would've enjoyed trouncing the opposing team more if it was Slytherin, as she was feeling particularly angry towards Snape who had subbed for Professor Lupin recently while the poor man was recovering from his night howling at the moon (speaking figuratively). Snape, being the oh so clever bastard that he thought he was, had assigned an essay on werewolves (she had turned white in anger at how he was trying to get the werewolf to lose his job). It was times like these that Hope really, really hated him.
But she didn't have time to think about that as the whistle blew, barely heard over the raging storm around, and the fourteen players lifted off.
Even with the goggles that repelled the water, Hope was having trouble seeing that glimmer of gold in the ungodly heavenly downpour. It was as if the sky was deciding that it really didn't want Hufflepuff and Gryffindor to play against each other today, and Hope was all for that.
She clenched her hands tightly around the shaft of her broom, attempting to increase her control of it, but even that was difficult.
"Come on!" she scolded herself as she finally caught sight of the tiny ball she had been searching for for almost the whole game (the rest of the game she'd been trying to avoid being hit by Bludgers). She looked up from her goal –something one should never do, especially not against Cedric Diggory– and that was when she saw him. The great black dog from Surrey. The Grim.
"I don't have time for you!" she yelled at him, turning back towards the Snitch, but the overwhelming sense of dread had returned completely from the time on the train and she had to resist the urge to scream at the sight of the amassed dementors under her.
She felt so cold, so very cold, like her insides were being ripped apart by it, and the screaming, the screaming was coming back in full once more.
"Not Hope, not Hope, please not Hope!"
"Stand aside, you silly girl…stand aside, now…"
"Not Hope, please no, take me, kill me instead—"
"Not Hope! Please…have mercy…have mercy…"
She couldn't breathe…
Cedric was inches away from the Snitch when he looked back, something one should never do, especially not against Hope Potter, and what he saw drew him up short and scared the living shite out of him at the same time.
Hope would have caught the Snitch if not for those dementors that were close enough to form a tight ring around her, and then they drew closer and she slipped off the broom, falling towards the earth with no indication of slowing down.
Without giving the Snitch a second thought, Cedric dived after her, a hand outstretched for hers, but it was soaking and the clothes were slippery, it was like trying to grab a hold of an eel.
The ground was getting closer and closer, and Cedric was growing more desperate. A fall from that height could kill someone (ignoring the fact that Hope wasn't exactly ordinary), and if it didn't kill her, it would certainly incapacitate her for awhile.
At the last possible second, he snagged her wrist, barely managing to pull her up a little before they both tumbled to the ground. Cedric's injuries were nothing compared to Hope's though, something he had to repeat to Madam Pomfrey when she tried to look him over as Professor Dumbledore removed the Gryffindor Seeker on a stretcher, and from the distance, he couldn't for the life of him tell if she was dead or alive.