The sight before him left an unusual sensation in his chest. He couldn’t figure out what it was, but there was this ghostly tightness there and he didn’t like it one bit. He had followed her in case she got hurt, Fred knew that even though they had been joking and laughing a mere hour ago jokes don’t cure sadness. Deep down he wished they did, but that was hopeful thinking. She hadn’t opened up to him about what was making her feel sad but Fred had a feeling it wasn’t something small.
Watching his newly formed acquaintance snog his friend left him with flushing cheeks redder than his hair. He heard little of their conversation but saw enough from their interactions that they had some form of history. From a friend’s point of view, he worried about her but he did not want to interfere with her personal matters. He turned on his heels, bent his head down, and walked back into the Great Hall where he was met with curious faces and questioning eyes.
The ache in his chest still there.
“Bloody hell, what was that about?” asked Ron as Fred sat down.
“Ron, it is none of your business,” Hermione stated, but she couldn’t hide her curiosity.
“Saw her snogging that block on the stairs.” Fred shrugged, not looking up. He merely pushed the potatoes around his plate. He had lost his appetite.
“WHAT?” Harry’s head shot up. His eyes a little wide and cheeks a little red.
“Shhh, Harry! You sound like a shrieking banshee.” George nudged the young wizard.
“Harry, I mean think about it, she went to Ilvermorny before coming to Hogwarts. She knows all of them.” Hermione looked around her, the Ilvermorny kids sat near them.
“I-I mean, I know that, Hermione. But to snog on the stairs? Of all places?”
George chuckled, “It’s better than some places people have been caught. I heard Percy and Penelope Clearwater got caught by the Slytherin Prefect behind the statues near the Transfiguration classroom.”
“Oh sod off! No bloody way! Percy? Our brother?” Ron snorted. Fred found himself laughing too.
“Knock it off, Georgie. Percy wouldn’t stoop that low. He is the perfect Prefect. Not a wand out of place.” Fred laughed harder at the idea. “He left all the trouble for us.” Everyone laughed in agreement.
Of course, anytime Fred and George appeared, trouble and chaos followed closely behind them. Not that it bothered anyone their chaos wasn’t directed at.
Seeing Charles again awakened something deep within her heart. Its enveloping warmth spread through her veins at lightning speed. Her fingertips trembled and her knees warned of buckling. It was intoxicating being encircled in his scent, held by his touched and cherished by his love.
The bow of his lower lip pressed tenderly against hers, nipping at her lips, teasing with a Cheshire grin. His hands held her cheeks in place. Oceanic eyes stared deeply into hers. She was drowning in them. She wanted him. There was no denying it, not now. His arms pulled her further away from the Great Hall. Caught in lustful gazes and red gazes, the two found themselves in the Ravenclaw’s room, alone for the first time in months. The door behind them locked.
The moment was short-lived as the doorknob rattled in its socket. With a swift peck on the cheek, Charles Tanner withdrew from the bed, gracefully placing himself strategically in a chair while Chelsea poorly regained composure before unlocking the dormitory door where Elisabeth stood with her arms crossed, giving a sad but knowing look. Juno and Lesedi standing behind her, each with the same look upon their faces.
“Well hello there, I don’t think we’ve formally met. I’m Chelsea’s roommate, Elisabeth Prewett.” Elisabeth held out a manicured hand, for formality but disdain could be seen in the depths of her brown irises. Charles automatically stood, strong hand encircling Elisabeth’s dainty hand. He flashed her the award-winning Charles Tanner smile.
Juno ignored him. Lesedi acknowledged and introduced herself quickly.
“The pleasure is mine, Charles Tanner. I am an old friend,” The word rolled off his tongue telling that it was not just that, “we were just catching up.” A cheeky smile followed.
Elisabeth frowned before relaying what Dumbledore mentioned through the rest of the banquet, mentioning an Auror by the name of Mad-Eye Moody arriving and the reveal of the Goblet. Everyone must be above the age of seventeen and they will have a week to place their name in the goblet. Four champions would be chosen from each of the schools as representatives. Her conversation became garrulous, Charles paid her enough attention to be polite before standing up.
“Well, the sun has set and it time for me to find where I sleep tonight. It’s been a long day and jet lag will not be fun tomorrow ” He announced before shaking Elizabeth’s hand once more and hugging Chelsea close. Her cheeks flushed red and he smiled once more before seeing himself out. As soon as the door closed behind Elisabeth revealed the most disappointed look, her eyes the saddest part of the expression.
“You run off, terrifyin’ most of us, and I find you in our room nearly shaggin’ an American bloke. You wouldn’t believe the whispers and when asked about you, all the Ilvermorny kids wouldn’t say a thin’. Fred came back lookin’ like someone smashed his chest with a bludger and here you are!” Her roommate threw her hands up in frustration, the disappointment still there but the sadness turned to fire.
“Plus, while beds are a good place to shag, we would like a little more notice,” June interjected. “I am down for a good shag but warnings are nice.” Her shoulders shrugged.
“I mean, I think warnings are good. However, running away like that... I don’t know Chelsea, may have not been the greatest move.” Lesedi spoke calmly, thoughts swirling behind her eyes. “We have only been roommates for a month now, but I know I consider you a friend. We don’t know much about your history with Charles but we’d love to learn because we got worried before.” She placed her hand on Chelsea’s arm and gave a soft smile.
Chelsea sat in silence, staring at her hands. She wrung her fingers together, contemplating what had occurred. She couldn’t believe how silly she had been. And poor Fred. Her heart clenched at the thought of hurting her first friend.
“Oh Merlin, what have I done... I am sorry. Please understand, it wasn’t something I was expecting. I-I never thought I’d see him again. I swear!”
“You know, as your roommate and friend, I would rather not have a heart attack when I am trying to look at Victor Krum but you know we can’t have pleasant things, sometimes.” Elisabeth paced the length of the room, Lesedi moved to sit closer to Chelsea and Juno sat on the floor by her bed. “Why did you think you’d never see him again? What happened? I think, deep down, you want to talk about it but don’t know-how. We are here with open ears and arms when you do. It may be hard but bloody hell, secrets don’t make friendships and you will feel better once you’ve opened up about it.”
Silence filled the room, seeming to last for a millennium. Chelsea moved from the bed to the window, arms crossed, holding herself together. In the moonlight, she shuddered and her eyes watered; warning that tears would fall. The floor creaked under Elisabeth’s feet and the bed groaned softly as it dipped under her weight.
“I can’t,” Chelsea said gasping. Her throat felt tight, suffocating her. “I am not ready.” The horrid memories filled her head. Everything spun around her. Tears cascaded down her cheeks.
Elisabeth had not moved and could not get herself to. “Try. It is never easy to open up about tough things.”
Chelsea collapsed to her knees, her chest quaking. It hurt. Thinking. Feeling. It all hurt. “I-I can’t.... y-you don’t understand...” Chelsea sobbed. “I-it came out of nowhere. I-it killed my b-best friend... We didn’t even see it... There was so much blood...” Chelsea’s entire body shook in its curled position. “It hurts to talk a-about.” Her voice shook, body rattling from head to toe.
“It?” Elisabeth had finally moved. In her hand, a knitted blanket that smelt of lavender. She gently laid it upon her friend’s frail, rattling shoulders; trying hard to understand her friend. Juno and Lesedi sat beside her and held her, their arms encircling her.
“A Hidebehind. The horrid offspring between a Demiguise and a Ghoul...” Chelsea’s eyes had gone vacant. Her emotions were completely numb. She wrapped the blanket closely around her shoulders before sitting straighter, staring into the eyes of her friends. “A nocturnal beast, adept at both disguise and disemboweling. It preys on human-like creatures. We had been unlucky that night. Charles, our friends Richie and April and I. At fifteen we can leave Ilvermorny and explore the surrounding mountains. We had hiked to what others had called ‘Lovers’ Peak’ because it was where all the couples went to hook up, or snog as you put it. Charles and I had been dating two years when this happened last Spring. April and Richie even longer, they were hometown sweethearts. We had stayed half an hour past the time we had agreed to leave because we wanted to watch the sunset a little longer. Plus, we had the boys with us if we needed protection. Richie and Charlie were the smartest in the boys’ class. The sun had set when we began walking back. None of us saw the Hidebehind... It is a specter-like beast that can shift its shape, allowing it to hide behind nearly any object. The beast confused us for another creature and attacked the closest thing to it. Unfortunately, that was April.” Chelsea breathed. Tears steadily streamed down her face.
“April never saw it coming, none of us did. I can still hear Richie’s screams as the beast tore April in half, I can still feel the hot, stickiness of her blood all over me and I can still smell the Iron. Charles saved me and Richie. For days after the attack, I couldn’t function... I couldn’t go back to my room, all of April’s stuff was still there. I couldn’t eat because everything tasted like blood. I couldn’t look at Richie or Charlie... All I saw was April’s detached head.” Chelsea wiped the tears. “I took a leave of absence after that, Dr. Mankiller understood and passed me in all my class because she knew my work effort. I went to live with my mother for the rest of the school year in Salem. This summer, she and I decided to move back in with my b-brother and father, after being abroad for so long as my mom’s work in America was over. I never said goodbye to them. Charles wrote every day even though I never replied. I had shut down completely and wasn’t emotionally available. But I had done a horrible thing, leaving him alone in emotional turmoil. Unfortunately, the chemistry between us had not disappeared in our time apart and I am still drawn to him but I can’t be with him. The memories are too hard. What’s worse is that after April’s funeral, Richie couldn’t handle the pain and he killed himself. Some said he died when she did. It has been hard on both of us, losing two of our closest friends so seeing him again has thrown me through an emotional blender. We both have suffered these last few months.”
Elisabeth sat back on her heels staring at her tear-stained friend. She wrapped her in a hug and offered comforting words that did not do much. She never knew the burden her friend carried. Lesedi and Juno joined in, all three girls encircling her.
Chelsea hugged them back before slipping out of the common room, feeling stifled.
Fred did not talk to anyone that evening after the meal was dismissed. He found himself not in the mood to talk with anyone. His chest still had that uncomfortable ache, he found himself rubbing at it unconsciously.
Gryffindor common room was suffocating, people surrounding him; all vivacious and gay. Fred ducked out and escaped to his hideaway and went to work; planning a thousand and one pranks to humiliate Charles Tanner. Firstly, for making him confused about how he felt. Secondly, he feared he would lose his new friend. He found himself close to Chelsea Wood and feared losing that closeness he had become so fond of.
George watched in wonder of his twin, not knowing enough about what had happened outside the Great Hall besides what had already been said. He had a feeling about what happened, it was whispered all over the Great Hall even though no one heard Ilvermorny talk, just saw all the sad looks on their faces. But George knew once Fred had fond a target, there would be no break until either of them were satisfied with the reaction.
“Fred, mate. Why are you so set on bothering the American bloke? He didn’t seem half bad. All the other Americans seemed pretty nice. Plus, I don’t think he’d react like Filch.”
“Come off it, George. We need to figure out to age ourselves first, to pass that impartial judge.” Fred had borrowed Harry’s invisibility cloak before sneaking into the library and taking every potion book he could grab. A fire burned within him and he wanted to prove something, but to who, he had no idea.
Behind him, the door closed and George was gone. George knew Fred needed space, that was clear enough. The walk back to Gryffindor common was lonely and uncomfortable without his twin. George didn’t like being without Fred. It was rare and he never wanted to know what life would be like without his brother in it.
“Bloody fucking hell.” Fred threw a punch at the wall before cursing once more. There was a loud crunch at the knuckles and the skin tore in several places. Fred groaned in anger. Blood dripped onto the work table and floor around him. His knuckled looked angry, bruises already forming.
“Nothing is bloody working...” He seethed in anger. Since dinner, the scene of Charles Tanner and Chelsea played on repeat behind his eyes. “Charles Tanner... It’s on, mate,” Fred stomped his way back to Gryffindor tower. Upon his arrival, he wrote a swift letter to his brother Charlie asking for the strongest Fire Whiskey he could find in Romania, leaving no room for explanation.
The fiery redhead curled up under his rough polyester covers, pulling them high over his head so no one would bother him. In his dreams, Chelsea lay in his arms, her hazel eyes shining brightly; her hand resting on his arm. But when she whispered Charles’ name in his ear. Fred tossed and turned most of the night.
While she could not leave the castle completely, the Astronomy Tower was the next best thing. Below and around her, the world slumbered under a navy blanket. The lake untouched, the moon’s silvery glow reflected softly. The night cast shadows on both Drumstrang’s and Ilvermorny’s ship, each anchored on opposite sides of the lake. The Ilvermorny boat stood with the sails tied, and all but one light off. Dr. Mankiller’s chambers were lit, projecting glittering gold on to the lake’s surface. Chelsea watched the shadows of professors on patrol shuffle through the lower courtyard; seeking out defiant students.
From above, the sky was cloudless and still. The air bit at her bare skin causing her skin to prickle, turning blue. Constellations twinkled with stories to tell.
The conversation with her roommates had taken a toll on her mind. The scent of blood and vomit familiar under her nose even though there was none in sight. Her hands gripping her arms tightly for what little warmth she could get. Chelsea heard a squawk from above her head; from the depths of the navy, sky flew a black owl with one golden eye. At Chelsea’s feet, it dropped a letter before launching into the sky. It had not waited for a reply.
The envelope was black with an elegant silver script. It was sealed with silver wax, an ornate R crested the seal.
“We know who you are, Wood.” A sneer came from the shadows. The moonlight glittered on the white-blonde hair of Draco Malfoy as he leaned against a pillar. “Your friend sends his regards and wanted to make sure you got that.” Draco sneered before disappearing into the shadows. Chelsea sat in silence, shaking at the letter in her hand. What did Malfoy want? She knew he was unliked by her friends but she had never encountered him before.
The seal broke with a soft pop. In the most gorgeous script Chelsea had ever seen, her heart stopped beating and bile rose to her throat. The letter smelt of blood and sweat.
Welcome home baby girl,
Your father has missed you dearly. I am eager to meet you.
was all that was written. Chelsea tried burning the paper, it wouldn’t burn. She tried tearing it, it wouldn’t tear. That was not her Father’s handwriting.Was it?She shivered, but not from the wind.