"I seriously don't understand how your body can tolerate all the alcohol you're consuming."
"It can't. That's why I'm having a hangover. Like right now."
"Well, you had no business being in the Hufflepuf common room past curfew anyway, this is what you get when you decide not to obey the rules."
"Oh Merlin, Rose, please spare me the lecture. One of the perks of going to a boarding school is not having to deal with your parents 24/7, I love you but please -put a sock in it."
Damian groaned as he let his head fall in his hands. It was a regular school day, and Damian was hung over. Nothing new under the sun.
I moved my attention back to the pudding I was having for breakfast and the pointless conversation about flying unicorns I had with Louis before being interrupted by a grunting and slumping Damian, who arrived at our table only a minute ago. I claimed that flying unicorns exist -I swear I read something about it in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them- but Louis argued against it.
"Louis, I'm telling you, they exist."
Louis rolled his eyes for the hundredth time this morning, nibbling on his beloved Nutella sandwich doing so. "They do not. Unicorns exist, flying unicorns however? I don't think so."
"But I-" I was about to inform my stubborn friend that I was sure I read about it, but then got cut off by someone calling my name.
Someone. You guessed it. The devil's spawn.
I was literally seated for only 10 minutes, and my day had already been ruined. Why did the universe hate me?
"Potter. What do you want?"
James stood in front of our table, accompanied by three of his guy friends I never bothered to learn the names of. I mean, if you were voluntarily 'hanging out' with that guy, then you must be at least half as bad as him.
Right? Yeah of course.
"I want you, Aaliya Martins." James answered, a clear hint of humor in his eyes when his 'friends' started snickering behind him.
"I'm afraid that's one thing your parents can't get you Potter."
"Ow, nice one Ali." Nell -to my complete and utter surprise- whispered in my ear from her spot across from me.
I gave her a once-over. I guessed she really was trying to get over him. She normally never said anything when Potter was around. I smiled at her, if she did indeed got over him, that would make life so much easier.
James took a seat right across from mine, which happened to be the one next to Louis, without even asking if it was taken -which it wasn't, but still, asking would've been the polite thing to do. Even though I would've said no.
"No one said you can sit with us." I snarled.
James looked up at me, his hazel eyes meeting mine for the first time today, and for some odd reason, my annoyance at him ebbed down a little.
Just a tiny tiny bit.
"Bloody hell you can be bitchy Ali." James chose a cup of chocolate mousse from the tray with delicious treats in front of us and put a spoon in it.
He didn't even bother to make room for his friends at our table. They were just standing there, shifting in their place awkwardly because they weren't sure what to do.
I was certainty not planning on inviting them to sit with us. I couldn't be bothered. And besides, I liked seeing mini-Jamess being all 'awkward'. The word wasn't even in their Bad-boy-dictionary, it was good to see some change once in a whi-
"Kevin, Cole, Zackery, why don't you sit down?"
Damn you Damian. Weren't you too hung over to pay attention to what was going on around you?
I forced myself to smile at the three boys in front of me when they looked at the rest of us for our approval. At least they were polite enough to not just sit down and start eating our food.
Yes, our food.
I leaned down to Damian, the forced smile still on my face as I watched Nell and Louis move around to make some space for the boys. "You know them?" I asked through gritted teeth.
Damian shrugged. "Yea. I hang with them sometimes." Damian grinned at the memories that suddenly popped into his head. "And when I do, I usually end up having a hangover worse than this one. And that's saying something."
I rolled my eyes at my friend and proceeded eating my pudding, leaving the conversation about unicorns with Louis for what it was.
I still believed they exist, though.
I tried my best to ignore James who was struggling for my attention, and my eyes stayed focused on the pudding in front.
Until he started kicking me in the chins under the table, that's when I had enough.
"What do you want?!" I hissed at him again.
James looked at me, an innocent smile tugging on his lips. "I already told you what I want." He whispered, his voice sounding too husky for my liking.
I snorted, I knew that tone of his voice. It was the one that made all the girls' knees wobble (not including my own of course). The one he used to talk to me almost every day. After hearing it so often, it had zero effect on me. None, nada, nothing. Maybe after all these years he was running out of cheesy lines to use on me.
C'mon Potter, you could do better than that, righ?
"And I already told you, you can't. A million times every day."
Potter looked at me. Licking the substance off his lower lip, he allowed his spoon to clatter to the table as he reached toward his chocolate mousse, dipping his finger into the chocolate. I watched, unable to comprehend what he was doing when he reached up and dabbed his finger onto the tip of my nose. He laughed, swiping his finger across my cheek, streaking the rest as I shrieked and tried to back away.
OH NO HE DID NOT.
Swatting James' hand away, I brought my pointer finger from my free hand into my pudding and poked him on the forehead. And his cheek. And his arm. Basically, I poked him wherever I could while he was dodging me.
That would teach the prat! How dared he touch me with his food?!
“Ali and James,” Rose drawled, “I would refrain from starting a food fight if I were you.”
We both instantly stopped what we were doing and turned to Rose. She was grinning, the amusement bright in her eyes.
"I thought it was cute!” Louis cooed, resting his chin on his hand for a few seconds, before he saw me shooting him my most deadly glare and sat right back up. I was still a little mad at him for not helping me yesterday when James was straddling me against my will. I had to make a complete foul out of myself to get out of there. Which I’d been seeming to do a lot lately. Remembering my stupidity of the last few days, I could feel the red parchment in my back pocket suddenly glow, reminding me that I still had an angry professor Longbottom to deal with tonight. Great.
James grinned, poking me with his still chocolate mousse-covered finger.
"Touch me with your food again,” I seethed, “and I will drag you to my house and feed you to Justin's pet snake."
Yes, my brother had a pet snake. His name was Boa. Justin adored reptiles for some reason… which explained his weird obsession with dragons a bit more I guess.
The whole table burst out laughing. I realized then how awkward that must have sounded. Though, if we were at my house, I seriously would have introduced him to Boa.
"Al the way back to Deal?" James retorted, revealing now my birthplace to everyone who bothered to listen. "Instead of just using a simple jinx on me like a normal witch would do, you choose the much more insufficient Muggle way to annoy me." He shook his head, making one of his friends –Cole, I believed-, snigger under his breath.
"Like how I jinxed you yesterday?"
Oh no. I should not have reminded him of the awkward incident yesterday. Knowing that the only thing he probably remembered from it was the part where I was practically… you know…
"You mean when you were feeling me up?"
I looked away, wiping the chocolate he had so rudely dabbed all over me before. Well, not all over. I had done that job on him. James chuckled from in front of me, but I didn’t look up. Nope, I refused to make eye contact with him. That would only make me more annoyed. And I refused to give him that satisfaction.
"For your information, I was not feeling you up. I was just doing what I had to do to get you to move. You gave me no chose."
James let his head fall back and made a loud, obviously sarcastic sound. Making almost the entire Gryffindor table look our way.
Ugh. Another thing I hated about James Potter; he was LOUD.
James raised one brow at me, tilting his head to the side, his eyes stood observant, scanning every inch of my face when he said; "Admit it, you liked it."
His gaze had a firm grip on me that made me uncomfortable, causing for me to answer him a second too late, which made him grin. Because now he knew he was right.
I mean, now he thought he was right.
I felt my face warm up, which was only worsening the case. "No I did not."
"Sure you did." His foot was teasing mine under the table, softly nudging his against my own.
"So the only thing you remembered from last night was me touching you? And not the jinx afterward?" I rolled my eyes, this was so typical.
"You touching me and telling me that you liked me." James stated, enjoying the fact that all of our friends were paying a little too much attention to our conversation. Couldn’t they mind their own business? Surly Potter and I weren’t that interesting.
I was about to retort something back to Potter to make him officially shut up, but then heard a snarky voice call my name. Surprised, I turned around in my seat and faced Filch, our school’s caretaker. Why Filch was still up and walking and hadn’t retired yet was a big mystery to all of us. The guy was slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter.
“This came through the regular mail for you.” he snarled, pushing a yellow envelope in my face.
“Regular mail?” I asked confused.
Filch waved the envelope around impatiently. “Yes, the regular mail. It happens maybe once a year. When some dimwit Muggle doesn’t know how to use an Owl to get a letter over.”
I took it from him, immediately noticing that there was nothing magical about it. Did my parents send me this? No, they knew how to use an Owl. Or they could’ve just send me an e-mail, they knew we had computers in the Muggle Studies classroom we could use. “Who’s it from?”
Filch groaned, annoyed at the many questions I was throwing at his head. “I couldn’t care less! Your name is on the back.”
I turned the envelope around, and that’s when my heart stopped beating.
This was not real. This could not be real.
Someone was messing with me. This was a prank.
I stood up as fast as my legs could follow me and pushed the letter back in Filch’s direction, who’d already turned around to walk away. “I don’t want this! Take it back!”
My voice was shaking, my whole body was shaking, the room seemed to suddenly spin around me. I grabbed the first thing I could reach –which happened to be Damian’s shoulder- to steady myself.
I was going to be ill.
Filch exhaled deeply, looking at me as if I’d gone completely mental. Which I probably had. “It’s yours. I can’t take it back.” And with that, he turned around and meandered down the Great Hall.
Whoever thought that this was funny was going to have to deal with a big problem later.
I felt Damian’s warm hand on top of mine in a second. “Ali? What’s wrong?”
I stared at the letter in my hand.
What was wrong?
Everything was wrong. My whole life was about to change with just one simple hand-written letter.
“Ali?” all my friends had gotten to their feet, alarmed.
I noticed that I was having trouble breathing, and only had more trouble by noticing. I desperately grasped at my throat, and backed away from my friends, ignoring the concerned look in their eyes. I needed some air –I felt like I was suffocating.
Without so much as uttering a word, I turned around and rushed out of the Great Hall, passing Filch on the way because that’s how slow he was, and ran like my life depended on it.
I didn’t get too far before I heard quick footsteps behind me, running to catch up with me. I turned around and came face to face with literally the only person that could make this situation even worse.
“Leave me alone, Potter!’ I yelled, my voice almost breaking from the tears I was so desperately trying to hold back. I hated to cry when I was in front of somebody, especially if that somebody was Potter. I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry. I never cried.
“What happened?” he asked, his eyes scanning every inch of my face before reaching a hand out to me, and dropping it back at his side when he realized I didn’t want to be touched. Particularly not by him.
I looked at him. And suddenly, a sob broke out between my lips, and to my complete horror, tears started streaming down my face. “I can’t, James!” I cried. “I can’t open this letter... h- he abandoned me… I can’t I just.. I hate him!” I clutched desperately at my hair. “What… how could he do this to me?”
“Ali…” Suddenly, strong, comforting arms were wrapped around me. I had a brief moment where my breathing turned normal again, and just stood there and realized that I did, indeed, feel extremely safe in his arms.
I hated it.
So I pushed away from him, hugging myself around my waist as I walked back and forth.
“Ali?” His voice was surprised, and there was a hint of hurt to it. I couldn’t stand that sound. I suddenly didn’t like that he was feeling hurt.
And I hated it.
So I did the only thing I could think of doing. I moved closer to him and let him hug me as I cried into his broad shoulder.
“Shh.” He rubbed my back. “Ali, shh. I’m here, love. You can talk to me. Tell me what happened.”
“Andrew send me a letter.” I sobbed.
He stayed quiet for a second and just stood there, stroking my hair, and for once, I didn’t try and stop him. “Who’s Andrew?” he whispered, his voice an emotion I didn’t even know he could express.
He was genuinely concerned.
It felt so good, his hand rhythmically moving up and down. He was stroking through my hair, fingers threading through the strands. One finger gently grazed against my forehead, and shimmers flowed from that spot down my body. I shuddered lightly against him, and James, thinking that was another sob, leaned down and planted a light kiss to the top of my head. I squeezed my eyes tighter, not wanting him to stop.
His breathing was soft in my ear, the sound of it calming me down and I just stood there; completely safe for once. He made me feel safe, like nothing could happen to me. Like I wasn’t alone.
Until my body had calmed down completely, and I realized who in fact was holding me. I gasped and stepped away from him.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, not understanding why I pulled back.
‘I just… I- I need to go.” I turned around, ready to run away from him like I always did, but he grabbed my wrist before I could do so much as take one step.
“Are you okay? Is everything alright? Talk to me.”
“I’m fine. Just… forget about it.” I said distantly, pulling my wrist back and walking away from him. He stood beside me right away, peering closely at my face.
“Something’s wrong.” He said abruptly, his gaze searing. “You wouldn’t have ran away like that if it weren’t serious. I know you, Ali. Who’s Andrew?”
“Oh yeah? So you care for me now?” I asked bitterly.
“Ali, look at me.”
I avoided his gaze.
“Look at me.” His hand gripped my upper arm while his other forced my chin up. I found myself lost in his hazel eyes, and gulped and quickly shifted my eyes away.
“Look at me, damnit!” He grabbed my face and sent his piercing gaze right into my eyes, as if he was trying to read my mind with his stare. Moments passed, and I realized that I was holding my breath.
“You’re acting strange. Just tell me what it is so I can help you.”
“I’m not telling you anything! Stop pretending like you care about me so I’ll end up falling for you!” I yelled exasperatedly, having had enough of his ‘I’m-really-concerned-about-you-crap. “You can piss off Potter, just except that I’ll never sleep with you! Now let me go!”
He flinched at my sudden outburst, and his grip loosened. I used that to my advantage, jerking my arm away and walked towards the one place I could be alone in this castle.
You probably never noticed -I mean, how could you- but my brother had a slightly darker skin color than me.
Fun fact: Justin and I did not share the same father.
My 'dad' -or as I called him, Andrew, was the definition of worst dad in the world.
When I was born, 'my father' was already gone. He left my mother because she got pregnant unexpectedly.
Yes. He was that asshole.
I’ve never known him. Never in the 16 years and 8 months I had been alive has he even tried to reach out to me. Or to my mother for that matter. So neither had I. I didn’t want anything to do with a cowered who left a 19 year old girl knocked up on her own.
The only thing remotely good about him, was the story my mom used to tell me of how they met. When I was little, I thought it was super romantic and just perfect. But now that I was a few years older and a few years wiser, I knew that ‘romance’ and ‘being in love’ was just a complete waste of time when you’re still young and could be doing other things instead.
I guess that’s why I never really had a serious relationship before –I didn’t allow myself to fall in love. Yet.
My mom met Andrew in High School (it's a school were teenage Muggles go to learn stuff... about stuff). Andrew sat at the table next to my mother's the night her prom date left her at eight. They were 17. She watched him, he watched her, both trying not to get caught but failing miserably. They danced the whole night together. She told me that he was shy and quiet, and that his smile had the ability to light up an entire room. She sometimes still talked about him as if he was a nice guy who had done nothing wrong. He played baseball and was good in many sports. I guess now we knew where I got that from.
He had dark brown hair and with the combination of my mother's golden locks I had something in between. When I was younger, my mom used to tell me that she couldn’t help but think about my father every time she stared into my eyes. We had the same ocean blue color.
So… long story short, they dated for two years, until they found out that she was pregnant. He left her and dumped her because he got scared.
And this is why I was against premarital sex.
Well... not really but I still think you should think very long and hard before making any rational decisions.
The worst part was that my mother’s parents disowned her. They kicked her out of the house because they thought she was a disgrace to the family. I never met my grandparents either. I hated them, for all they knew their daughter was dead. They never bothered to reach out to her or me to see if she was still alive nor did my father... until now.
My mom stayed at a friend’s house for a few months after her parents threw her out. This friend of hers, Elizabeth, was an angel send from god according to my mother. And I agreed. I was named after her, after all.
Mom owed her life to her and I guessed indirectly so did I. Elizabeth's house was about half the size of Hogwarts (maybe a bit exaggerated but you get what I’m saying) so hiding my mom from both of their parents was not a problem. Not only did Elizabeth help my mother get a roof above her head and some food in her stomach, but she also helped my mom getting a job.
She worked as a chambermaid in one of Elizabeth’s father hotels. And that's where she met the bellboy, David Martins, Justin's father and my real dad, not my biological father. He was working during the holidays to help his parents pay for his last year of University (a school where Muggles went to after high school. To learn stuff... about stuff, again). My dad was born and raised in England but both of his parents were originally from Brazil. That explained Justin's slightly darker skin color... of which I was extremely jealous.
I mean, the boy might still only be 14 but you had no idea how many girls he had running after him. I guessed you could say his golden hair crashed with his sunkissed-skin in a way that made panties drop to the floor quicker than he could say his name.
And before you ask, yes he can speak Portuguese. But so did I! Our father raised us bilingual, but have you seen any boxers drop to the floor because I can speak an exotic language? No. Didn't think so. Then why did this only work for my brother and not me?
Not that I wanted any boxers to be dropping on the floor, to be honest.
I figured you could say my dad fell for my mom because of the same reason why Andrew did; for her charm and beautiful personality.
I loved my mother more than anything in this world.
When I was 11 my family’s life and mine complete changed for good because of one letter. My Hogwarts acceptance letter. We were all of the sudden introduced to a new world, a new way of thinking -a new everything.
Life as we knew it had changed. At first we were all convinced that it had to do with Andrew's family. That that's where I got the 'magic gens' from. But less than two years later my brother got the same letter, confirming that the gene –if there even was a gene- came in fact from our mother's side of the family.
So this was why I was panicking. It was impossible for Andrew to know where I was. He knew nothing about this world. But he sent me a letter here, meaning that he knew what I was.
I stared at the closed envelope in front of me. The same envelope I'd been staring at for the last half hour after I ran to my bedroom from the great hall. I knew I should be in class right now. But right this second, Gibson could stick it.
FROM: ANDREW HOLDEN
TO: AALIYAH MARTINS
This could not be happening... Andrew Holden... It really was him.