By Monday, Chelsea found things beginning to settle in her life. The final task was months away, and all that mattered were the upcoming O.W.L exams. At breakfast, when the post owls arrived, she watched Hermione look up eagerly; she seemed to be expecting something. A gray owl was soaring down toward Hermione. But to her bewilderment, the gray owl landed in front of her plate, closely followed by four barn owls, a brown owl, and a tawny. Harry and Ron were also bewildered, clearly not expecting this either.
“Oh really!” she sputtered, going rather red in the face. Anger flashing in her eyes.
“What’s up?” said Ron.
“It’s — oh how ridiculous —” She thrust the letter at Harry, who saw that it was not handwritten but composed from pasted letters that seemed to have been cut out of the Daily Prophet. Fred, Elisabeth, George, and Chelsea all gasped at the sight of the letter, having gone to check on the angered girl.
YOu aRe a WickEd giRL. HarRy PotTER desErves BeTteR. GO BaCk wherE you cAMe fRoM mUGgle.
“They’re all like it!” said Hermione desperately, opening one letter after another. ” ’Harry Potter can do much better than the likes of you... ″You deserve to be boiled in frog spawn...’Ouch!”
She had opened the last envelope, and yellowish-green liquid smelling strongly of petrol gushed over her hands, which began to erupt in large yellow boils.
“Undiluted bubotuber pus!” said Ron, picking up the envelope gingerly and sniffing it.
“Ow!” said Hermione, tears starting in her eyes as she tried to rub the pus off her hands with a napkin, but her fingers were now so thickly covered in painful sores that it looked as though she were wearing a pair of thick, knobbly gloves. Elisabeth escorted the hurt fourth year, comforting her as they left the Great Hall.
“You’d better get up to the hospital wing,” said Harry as the owls around Hermione took flight. “We’ll tell Professor Sprout where you’ve gone...”
Chelsea’s heart ached to watch her friend get her. Chelsea looked around to see if she could find the culprits. But her search was useless.
Transfigurations passed without incident, leaving Chelsea smiling as if it were Christmas morning. During her study, she found herself sitting next to Fred, alone for the first time in months. Charles and the other Ilvermorny kids were still in classes, George had gone to study with Angelina Johnson. Those two were growing closer by the day, Elisabeth claiming to have seen the ogling one another during potions once. Elisabeth had gone to rest, fatigued by a headache that relentlessly tormented her since the early hours of the morning.
“I think McGonagall made a mistake in teaching us the Gemini spell.” Fred laughed as he read further on in the scrolls before him. “George and I could seriously cause some damage with this spell. Can you imagine adding this to the various products we have in mind?”
“You know if you read further, the duplicated items tend to rot or tarnish more quickly than the original. ” Chelsea squeaked, dodging the thrown quill.
“Oh Chelsea, you’ve killed my dreams of easy production. It pains me so,” Fred mocked pain, placing his hands over his heart. “I dunno how I am going to keep on living.”
Chelsea just chuckled, ducking her face behind her hair. Her heart thumped loudly against her chest. She knew she cared for Fred, he always knew how to make her smile. She knew since day one. She felt her face flush.
“Where’s the fun without a bit of risk, Wood?” He jokingly laughed. He couldn’t stop looking at her. It took everything in him not to tuck the wayward locks of brown hair behind her ear and stare into her eyes. He fancied her, so badly. So badly to the point George and Lee made teased him to no end. And there was absolutely nothing he could bloody do. He tried to bury his feelings for this kind, quiet, brilliant witch but they kept popping up like weeds.
“I don’t know Weasley, I quite enjoy the safety of my life. And my life is very fun!” She laughed. She finished her transfiguration essay with ease.
“Oh? You call studying fun? Live a little! Enjoy the small things!”
“We have O.W.Ls soon,” She gasped, eyes widening. “But speaking of small things, let’s go get lunch before your twin, little brother and Potter eat it all.”
“Lead the way, my lady!” He exaggerated a bow before following behind her.
Fred watched from the corner of his eye at the girl he cared for. He would always respect her boundaries and was just glad she was happy. Not long after his apology, she opened up about her past and all the terrible things she had experienced in the last year. It hurt him he couldn’t comfort her the way he wished, but a friendly hug sufficed. He swore he’d watch out for her, for the rest of his life; her happiness was the only thing that made him happy, even if he wasn’t the one making her happy.
For the rest of the week and the following hate mail continued to arrive for Hermione, and although she stopped opening them, several of her ill-wishers sent Howlers, which exploded at the Gryffindor table and shrieked insults at her for the whole Hall to hear. Even those people who didn’t read Witch Weekly knew all about the supposed Harry-Krum-Hermione triangle now. Harry was getting sick of telling people that Hermione wasn’t his girlfriend. All of their friends were sympathetic towards the two, dispelling rumors whenever they could.
“It’ll die down, though,” Fred told Hermione, “if we just ignore it. People got bored with that stuff she wrote about Harry last time —”
“I want to know how she’s listening into private conversations when she’s supposed to be banned from the grounds!” Hermione huffed angrily.
Hermione was hung up on seeking revenge on Skeeter.
“Hermione, is there any point in telling you to drop this?” said Ron.
“No!” She stated stubbornly. “I want to know how she heard me talking to Viktor! And how she found out about Hagrid’s mum!”
“Maybe she had you bugged,” said Harry.
“Bugged?” said Ron blankly. “What ...put fleas on her or something?” Harry started explaining about hidden microphones and recording equipment. Ron and the other Weasley brothers were fascinated, but Hermione interrupted them.
“Aren’t you two ever going to read Hogwarts, A History?”
“What’s the point?” said Ron. “You know it by heart, we can just ask you.”
“All those substitutes for magic Muggles use — electricity, computers, and radar, and all those things — they all go haywire around Hogwarts, there’s too much magic in the air. No, Rita’s using magic to eavesdrop, she must be... If I could just find out what it is ... oh, if it’s illegal, I’ll have her...”
“Haven’t we got enough to worry about?” Ron asked her. “Do we have to start a vendetta against Rita Skeeter as well?”
“I’m not asking you to help!” Hermione snapped. “I’ll do it on my own!” She marched back up the marble staircase without a backward glance. Chelsea was quite sure she was going to the library.
“What’s the betting she comes back with a box of I Hate Rita Skeeter badges?” said Ron.
“Ron!” Chelsea exclaimed as Fred chuffed him upside the head. “Be nice, this woman is tormenting poor Hermione. I would be upset too!” Elisabeth voiced agreement.
Ron only shrugged before turning to talk to Neville Longbottom, a sweet boy from what Chelsea could tell. Forgetful but sweet. She had caught him doting on young Ginny a few times.
Chelsea was worried about Hermione, but she also marveled at the young witch’s determination to study every method of magical eavesdropping whilst balancing the growing workload. Easter holidays were approaching and everyone was barely getting through all their homework.
During the span of the Easter Holiday, Chelsea found herself staying at Hogwarts, not ready to see her family quite yet. She spent the sun Sunday with Charles wandering the grounds in silence. She held to his arm, thinking if she should tell him.
“Charles,” She broke the silence, peering up into his eyes. “I think you and I need to talk about something that I haven’t been forthcoming back.”
“Okay, what haven’t you told me.”
Chelsea dove into the tale of receiving letters from a mysterious AR, skipping over the last one, and how she found out back her past.
“Well, Chelsea- that is if you still want to be called that, I am glad you told me. I promise nothing bad will happen. I bet that Headmaster of yours has been informed and will let nothing happen.” He held her close, she felt his heartbeat. The rhythmic beat of his heart calmed her.
“My name is Chelsea Wood, thank you. I just felt wrong for not telling you. That’s why I was so distant before the second task. I was grappling with all this information. I-I felt as if I was getting pummeled by a large wave.”
" I love you, I will protect you.” He kissed her forehead before they both made their way back to the castle.
The rest of the Sunday passed quietly. Filled with owl brought Easter parcels. Large eggs filled with homemade toffee and sweets from Mrs. Weasley, her Mom, and Charles’ family.
The start of the summer term meant that Chelsea would be preparing for her exams. This year, however, the third and final task in the TriwizardTournament distracted her from her studies, leaving her to help both Charles and Harry prepare, but neither had any idea what they would be doing. Finally, in the last week of May, Dr. Mankiller pulled Charles aside after the lunchtime meal.
So after dinner, Charles descended to the Quidditch pitch with Harry. Charles left Chelsea in Ravenclaw tower with Elisabeth. Both fell asleep soundly in their beds, dreaming of the end of Summer term, the end of exams. Both blissfully unaware of what occurred at the Pitch and what the next few months had in store for Chelsea, Harry, and Charles.