Happy Sixteenth Birthday! It’s always easy for me to remember your birthday because mine is the day before yours – just like my dad’s birthday is the day before your dad’s birthday. I can’t believe you want potion plants again for your birthday, but if that’s what Sera wants, then that is what Sera gets! I wish I could wrap up DD for you – but I don’t think Trowel could carry him, you know what I mean?
I don’t want to spell out DD’s name in case this owl is intercepted by Monica McClaggen. I swear – I don’t know why she’s so jealous of you. Just because you’re asked out a lot isn’t a reason for her to be so jealous. I mean, it’s not like you actually go out since your heart belongs to DD! Well, except for those three weeks you went out with Leo this spring. When are you going to tell me the whole story, Sera? You know I’d never tell. I’m your best friend!
I really like the hand lotion you sent me for my birthday! I can’t believe you mixed that up yourself – and it smells a lot better than the shampoo you made at Christmas! I swear the warts on my hands are getting better already. Great-gran says that warts used to be a sign of great beauty in her day, but I think she’s confusing warts with moles – what do you think? It’s kind of like when she calls me 'Alice' instead of Alison, you know?
I wish I had a slew of cousins like you, Sera. If Tony comes over to use the Pitch in your back garden, then I reckon he’ll bring Rafe and maybe Rafe will bring DD! Right? Of course, I wouldn’t mind just Tony and Rafe since they’re both cute! I know you don’t think your own cousin is cute, but you have to admit that Rafe is very handsome – really, he’s the best looking boy in seventh year. And Andrea Wallace is the best looking girl. Why don’t you try to get them together, Sera? And I’ll take Tony! Just kidding! (Well, I’m not really kidding – but let’s face it, I don’t play Quidditch and that’s all he cares about.)
Have you got your O.W.L. results yet? I haven’t and I’m glad, since I can’t imagine what sort of mark I’m going to get in Transfiguration after I turned that cup into a turtle and not a tarantula. Still, the notes you gave me for History of Magic helped me so much! Reading about the goblin rebellions from the point of view of the goblin princess was so interesting. Your brother was so nice to give you that quill.
Well, that’s enough for now. I have weeding to do. I don’t like to weed but Dad gave me the choice to do that or dust Gran’s room. I think you know why I chose weeding!
And yes, I’ll shade my face. It’s sweet of you to always remind me that I have a nice complexion. It helps me face that mean mirror in the downstairs bathroom, you know?
Happy Birthday, almost-twin!
July 3, 2028
Dear Alison (almost-twin),
Thank you for the potion plants! Mum helped me plant them. Next year at this time I should have all the ingredients for conditioner at my fingertips. When I told my Aunt Hermione, she was glad, since she’s tired of paying top Galleons for Bobbin’s conditioner. I told her that I knew it was expensive, but she was worth it and she would have no hair left if she kept using that Sleek-Easy stuff.
I have my O.W.L. results! I got an Outstanding in Potions and History of Magic! I only got an E in Muggle Studies, but David thought that was a good mark considering how they’ve changed the exam to include current Muggle technology. Even he is having trouble keeping up with computers and space ships even though he has a Muggle girlfriend.
Shh, don’t tell – but I think she’s the one! Mum thinks so, too, but we’re waiting for David to do something – like tell her he’s a professor at a magical school in Scotland and not a Muggle boarding school. Mum threatened to put a Silencing Charm on me whenever I’m around Caroline if I don’t stop dropping hints about magic. But I really want to go to a Muggle wedding. I think it would be so much fun.
Oh, yes. The rest of my marks were Es except for the Acceptable I got in Care of Magical Creatures. Really, you’d think Uncle Charlie would give a break to his own niece – but there was no way I was going to feed live voles to the Hippogriffs. When is the life of a vole less important than any other life?
When I explained this to Dad, he wanted to know how the steak I was eating was less important than the life of a vole. I wish I could have thought of an answer to that question at the time. Rafe said I should have approached it from the cruelty angle. You know – the vole is eaten alive and the cow never knew what hit him/her. I didn’t realize how clever Rafe is – I think he’s almost as smart as DD.
I forgot to tell you. Tony has been over here almost every day. They’re digging up the Pitch in his family’s back garden because his sister, Amy, is getting married next New Year’s Eve. (Aunt Padma wants an Enchanted Forest theme and the trees have to start growing now.) Tony’s determined to be a professional Beater when he leaves Hogwarts, so he wants to practice all the time. He will even play with me now! Rafe talked him into it by telling him that he (Tony) needs to get used to playing with other players since he (Rafe) is going to join his father’s law office next year and won’t be Tony’s partner on the Pitch anymore.
Of course, they were both shocked at how good I was. Boys are so stupid sometimes. Rafe wanted to know why I never tried out for the team and I told him it was because I wanted to play Beater and no other position. Then he wanted to know why I didn’t compromise and try out for another position. Before I could say anything, Tony spoke up and said I was an “all or nothing” girl about everything. I was so afraid that Tony was referring to my feelings about DD, but he wasn’t. It wouldn’t do for Tony or DD’s own cousin to know my feelings. I would die of embarrassment. Although Rafe is so clever and has gone out with so many witches, he could probably give me some good advice.
Speaking of DD – he’s returning from the American Pensieve conference next week! Maybe he’ll show up here some day! This month’s Cosmowitch says that wizards don’t like it when witches talk too much. I’m going to practice being ‘quiet and mysteriously alluring’ around Rafe and Tony in case DD shows up.
Someday I’ll tell you all about Leo Creevey, Allison. Let’s just say the problem with his hands wasn’t warts. I don’t know what came over me in the first place – forgetting DD like that. I blame the stress of O.W.L.s and the fact that Leo has really nice curly hair. It’s not a time of my life I’m proud of, but I don’t mind telling you that since you’re always so understanding.
Besides having a nice complexion, you have beautiful blonde hair! Why don’t you accidentally-on-purpose break that mirror? Kidding! Although, I could ask Rafe about the legality of accidentally-on-purpose.
I’m off to the Burrow now. Grandmum never has her nails done unless I do them for her. You should see how much better her cuticles look already! I can’t wait to see what she thinks of last night’s Days of Destiny. I knew Clare would finally realize that she was in love with the wrong Lovatt brother!
Try to talk your mum into letting you visit this summer. Tony has been here everyday. Once he gets to know you, he’ll love you!
PS – Warts are not, and have never been, a sign of beauty.
~*~ II. Futures
“You still have that mad idea you want to be a hairdresser, Sera?” Tony asked as he and Rafe walked with her across the Potters’ smooth lawn to the broom shed.
“A hair stylist,” she corrected. “And yes, I do.” She could feel her face turning red and not from the heat of the hot July sun. Mum had often said that Sera should learn to take the teasing from cousins in stride, but Sera could never see the point of letting someone walk all over you just for their own amusement. And this was worse because Rafe was right there. Deciding that silence was the best strategy (and the most mysteriously alluring one), she fished around in her jeans pocket for the key to the shed.
“What’s so mad about Sera being a hairdress– er – I mean, stylist?” Rafe asked Tony.
Her back stiffened. Rafe had better not be aiding and abetting Tony in teasing her. She started to work the key into the rusty lock.
“Because it means owning your own business,” Tony answered. “Which is a rubbish way to make a living, if you ask me.”
Sera stopped fiddling with the key in the lock. This wasn’t about her – it was about Tony.
Rafe seemed to think so, too. “Tough day at the office, dear?”
“Shut it,” Tony told him without heat. “I spent the whole morning at the shop unpacking crates and listening to Dad yelling at suppliers in one fireplace and Uncle Fred trying to explain what ‘limited liability’ means to an irate customer in the other.”
“Mum’s going through the same thing,” Rafe said. “She’s starting to make holiday robes and the silk she ordered in February hasn’t arrived yet and twenty bolts of velvet in the wrong shade of green were delivered yesterday.”
Sera worked the lock open and frowned. How did Rafe know about silks and velvets?
“See, Sera,” Tony said, stepping into the dusty shed and pulling out the equipment trunk, “even stylish Lady DuSult has problems. You don’t want to own your own business.”
“That’s right!” Sera gasped, forgetting to be mysterious. “Your mum is Lady DuSult of Lady DuSult’s Little Black Robes.” She stared at Rafe. Somewhere in the back of her mind she had known that – but now certain details about Rafe clicked together – like how he could look like an advert for “smart casual wizard wear” every time he showed up to play back-garden Quidditch. “She’s brilliant.”
“She is,” he agreed easily. “You should talk to her about starting her own business. It took her a long time, but she managed it.”
“Do you think she would talk to me?” Sera squeaked. “She’s famous.”
Rafe laughed. “Not as famous as your dad – and he talked to me.”
“Oh? What did Dad say to you?” Sera reached for her favorite Beater Bat. It was lightweight, but Mum had modified several Strengthening Charms so that the wood didn’t flex when it came in contact with a Bludger.
“He said to make sure the equipment got back into the shed because it was going to rain.”
Sera giggled. “That’s just Dad. It’s not because he’s famous.”
Tony ignored their conversation and opened the trunk. The Bludgers were straining against their restraints.
“That’s good to know,” Rafe said, kneeling down to help Tony. “I felt like I was one of the little people or something.”
“Dad’s not like that at all,” Sera protested. Somehow it seemed important that Rafe understand this. “He’s just quiet until he gets to know you.”
“Unlike Sera,” Tony said. He loosened one of the restraints so that Rafe could wrestle the Bludger out of the trunk. It almost hit Rafe in the nose, but he managed to hold it away from his face until he released it outside of the shed, where it flew to the Pitch.
“I read an article in Cosmowitch that explained the difference in communication styles between witches and wizards,” Sera began.
“Don’t give me that witches/wizard rubbish,” Tony said, loosening the restraints on the other Bludger. Rafe grabbed it and hurried to the door of the shed to release it. “That blonde friend of yours never says a word – and you’re both witches.”
“Alison?” Sera’s hopes rose. At least Tony had noticed Alison. “She talks. She’s just a little shy.” Then she shook her bat at Tony. “She’s coming for a visit next week, so you’d better be nice to her.”
“I’m nice,” Tony muttered, his ears turning an interesting shade of red.
“Just don’t tease her,” Sera said. She longed to cross-examine Tony about his interest in Alison, but the Bludgers were on the Pitch and Rafe was already on his broom.
“Fine. I’ll tease you then.” Tony pulled one of the pins holding the complicated plait she had twisted around her head. Her hair tumbled around her shoulders in an untidy cloud.
“Tony!” she shrieked.
She heard him laugh as he kicked off from the ground. Sera combed her hair out of her face with her fingers and plucked out the remaining pins. She glared over at Tony who was in the air, hitting Bludgers and completely ignoring her.
Sera jumped. She hadn’t realized the Rafe was right next to her. “You didn’t do anything,” she retorted, wishing she had a comb. “Tony’s been unbearable all summer.”
“He’s just worried about his future.” Rafe watched her as she ruthlessly twisted her hair into a knot and pinned it. “Why don’t you leave it down?”
“It gets in the way when you fly.” She sighed and watched her cousin dodge one Bludger and then hit another. He wasn’t smiling like he usually did when he played Quidditch. “I wish he wasn’t so miserable.”
“Maybe your friend will cheer him up.”
“Really?” Sera squealed. Rafe would know if Tony fancied Alison. She eagerly turned to him. “Does he fancy Alison? That would be brilliant!”
Rafe laughed. “I have no idea. But that would indeed be brilliant – for Tony,” he agreed. “So,” he added, his eyes twinkling, “what would cheer you up?”
It was on the tip of Sera’s tongue to say that his cousin Daniel would cheer her up immensely, but something stopped her. Instead she blushed. “Just to see Tony happy – and Alison, too of course.”
Rafe laughed again. “Don’t forget peace on earth and good will towards all men.”
“Well, that, too,” she said, ducking her head, wondering why she was suddenly shy around him.
~*~ III. Bludgers
“So you have to create a matrix of possibilities and then hold in your mind the outcomes for each choice a player might make,” Daniel Davies explained as he, Rafe, Tony, Sera, and Alison lounged on the grass of the Potters’ Quidditch Pitch. “The real breakthrough the Americans came up with was how to fool the Pensieve into not showing all the possibilities and their outcomes at once.”
“But I thought a Pensieve only recorded information that already happened,” Rafe said. “How do you create a game where it’s all a surprise to the player?”
“It’s all in the past to me if I’ve already thought of it,” Daniel said, smiling so his brown eyes twinkled softly. Sera didn’t understand half of what he was talking about, but she really didn’t care since it was a perfect summer day and she could finally look into those velvety brown eyes. Besides, if she didn’t join in the discussion, she could appear mysteriously alluring.
“But, Danny, that means you have to think of all the outcomes – every permutation,” Rafe continued, staring at his cousin as he were mad. “I’m not that great at Arithmancy – but if you had twelve doors and for each door there were four choices and then more doors....” He frowned. “You must have to think of hundreds of scenarios.”
“Thousands, actually.” Daniel shrugged. “It just takes patience and you have to remember the details, of course.”
Tony snorted. “Watch out if you don’t. Remember that one game they recalled where the dragon guarding the treasure was a troll if you went down one corridor and a mermaid if you entered through the trap door?”
Daniel laughed. “That was the notorious DD – 'Dungeons and Dragons' – but they call it 'Dungeons and Darn If We Know' in the industry now.”
Alison nudged Sera with her elbow at hearing Daniel actually saying DD. Sera tried not to burst into a fit of giggles.
“I don’t know how you have any brain space left for anything important, Danny,” Tony said, shaking his head. “Like Quidditch – or witches – or Quidditch.”
“We’re working on a Quidditch strategy game right now,” Daniel said, ignoring the gibe about witches, which Sera thought was commendable and the sign of a true gentleman. “The Cannons commissioned a no-frills game so their players could try out different strategies.”
“Well, I’m glad this new Pensieve technology is proving to be useful,” Tony said, standing up. “But if I don’t get back up in the air, virtual Quidditch is the only thing I’m going to be playing after Hogwarts.”
“All right.” Daniel hauled himself to his feet. “Don’t expect great competition since I’m a little Portkey-lagged.”
Tony waved that away. “Sera will take care of you, right Sera? She’s going to be your Beater.”
Daniel stared at her. “You play Beater? I didn’t think witches had that killer instinct.”
Sera forgot to be quiet and mysterious around him, since this was a subject near and dear to her heart. “The Beater position is about protection, not killing,” she said with as much dignity as she could whilst squinting against the sun shining in her eyes. “It’s about protecting your teammates so they can do what they need to do. I think that’s a very important role and one few people want to take on, since it’s about support and team work.”
Sera moved back so she wouldn’t have the sun in her eyes and trod on Rafe’s foot in the process. “Sorry,” she said quickly over her shoulder.
Rafe just smiled and steadied her by briefly touching her upper arms. Odd, she had never noticed that his eyes were the same brown as Daniel’s.
“God, Sera,” Tony said disgustedly. “Would you get off your high broom about the philosophical implications of the Beater position? You sound just like Rafe talking about barristers.” He mounted his broom. “You’re supposed to take off a few heads of the opposing team, too, you know.”
“Um,” Alison spoke up timidly. “What am I supposed to do?”
“We’re practicing with Bludgers and the Quaffle,” Tony explained in a much nicer voice than the one he had used with Sera. “Danny will try to get past me, and Rafe will to try to get past Sera. We’re not really keeping score or anything.”
“Oh.” Alison colored prettily because Tony was talking directly to her.
“You can be on my team,” Tony said suddenly. “I think I had better protect you.”
“Okay,” Alison said, her eyes shining worshipfully at Tony.
Tony’s chest swelled as he took a Beater’s bat from Daniel. Sera had to turn around to hide her smile. Rafe caught her eye and she stifled a giggle. Tony had been a different person during Alison’s visit.
Daniel Davies was an incredible flier, Sera realized about ten minutes into their improvised game. He was having no trouble dodging Bludgers on his own, so Sera had barely waved her bat. Rafe was not fairing so well, since he was used to hitting Bludgers, and not dodging them. Tony wasn’t helping Rafe at all, Sera thought indignantly, since he was too busy flying close to Alison and not watching out for his best mate.
“Tony!” Sera yelled. “Would you protect your Chaser, please?”
Tony made a face at her and whacked the Bludger toward Daniel. Sera streaked to Daniel’s side, but he and the Bludger were long gone by the time she got there. She took out her frustrations by blindly hitting the next Bludger that came near her. The small satisfaction she received from the crack of wood hitting iron was driven out by horror when she saw the direction the Bludger was traveling – right to the back of Rafe’s head.
He turned in time to see the Bludger, but not in time to dodge it. It hit his temple with a sickening thud.
Sera saw him sway and then crumple. Without further thought, she pushed her broom into a dive and caught him as he was about to slide off of his broom.
His body was dead weight against her own and her broom was still traveling downward. Sera pulled up with her knees, hoping she could keep her broom level so that Rafe wouldn’t slip off.
“Sera, slow up,” Daniel said, flying next to her. Sera leaned back. It was hard to brake without use of her hands, but she couldn’t let go of Rafe.
“Good,” Daniel said as she slowed. “Just coast. I’ll steer your broom to the ground.”
Sera could feel the sweat trickling down her back as they made their careful descent. Tony and Alison were already on the ground watching them anxiously. “I summoned the Apparition Ambulance,” Tony blurted.
“Good idea,” Daniel said. “He’s still out cold.”
Rafe’s head lolled on Sera’s shoulder. How long had he been out? The longer someone was unconscious, the more serious the injury. Finally they were on the ground. “Sera, he’s too heavy for you,” Tony said. “Let me.”
“No.” Sera collapsed heavily on to the grass and cradled Rafe’s curly head in her lap.
Rafe opened his eyes and stared up at her with unfocused eyes. “Rafe?” she gasped tearfully. “Are you all right?”
“Stay with Sera,” he mumbled. “She smells better than you, Tony.” Then he lapsed back into unconsciousness.
~*~ IV. Letters
August 14, 2028
I’m sooo sorry about hitting that Bludger toward you. I hope you know that I would never purposely try to take your head off since I believe Beaters should protect and not hurt. Still, I’m ashamed to admit that I did swing my bat in anger since I thought Tony was too busy flirting to protect you. (I was right, since you did get hit.)
None of that excuses the fact that it was my fault you had to spend a night at St. Mungo’s for observation. I’m so glad my brother Brian was your Healer. I knew he would take good care of you because I asked him to especially watch out for you. He knew how worried I was because he Apparated to the house in the morning to tell me how you were.
Even though I’m angry with Tony for not protecting you and for continuing to flirt with Alison in the hospital corridor outside of your room, I think he’s finally getting his priorities straight. He’s actually talked more about you and Alison than he has about Quidditch – which is really saying something.
I think a relationship is more important than a career, don’t you?
I hope you’re not still having headaches. You don’t have to write back if you don’t want to. I just wanted to let you know how sorry I am.
August 14, 2028
I wrote to Rafe to apologize. It’s a stupid letter, but I’ve never begged for forgiveness before. I’m enclosing a copy of it so you can tell me what you think.
By the way, I don’t blame you for flirting with Tony since Rafe isn’t your best mate since childhood. But if you were lying in a hospital bed unconscious, I wouldn’t flirt with Daniel, I can tell you that.
In fact, I was so nervous about Rafe, I didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention toward Daniel. Clare on Days of Destiny would have sobbed on his manly chest and he would have confessed to all sorts of tender (but manly) feelings toward his cousin. This would be the audience’s first indication that they would make a brilliant couple since they could support each other in times of strife and sorrow.
I’m starting to think that Daniel and I aren’t going to be a couple. If Days of Destiny has taught me anything, it’s the fact that trouble either makes or breaks a relationship. In this case whatever “relationship” I have with Daniel is just the same. He knows my name and he’s always friendly and nice – but that’s about it.
Don’t mind me.
I didn’t sleep very well last night since I had that dream again about not catching Rafe before he fell. Dad heard me crying and woke me up. He told me it’s common to have dreams like that after an intense rescue – even if it was successful. Poor Dad. I never really realized how stressful his job is.
I can’t believe it’s less than a month until we go back to Hogwarts. At least you’ll get to see Tony every day. And I hope Rafe has forgiven me by then.
August 15, 2028
Please don’t blame yourself for my Bludger injury. I should have known better than to fly under an opposing Beater. That’s one of those elemental rules every team captain yells at the Chasers during the first practice of the season. And don’t blame Tony too much. Pretty girls are a great distraction and will make you forget the elemental rules of Quidditch.
Danny says that if you hadn’t caught me, I would have been badly injured from the fall. I’m amazed and grateful you were able to do that for me.
I still have occasional headaches, but nothing to worry about. I’m staying with my Grandmother Eleanor right now since her groundskeeper is on holiday and she needs help with her Hippogriff herd. (Or is it flock?) And don’t worry – I’m not feeding them live voles. Grandmother prefers to feed her Hippogriffs insects and liver from the market.
I don’t mind staying here except that I can’t help Dad and Uncle Roger in the office each morning like I’ve been doing all summer. I think that was part of the plan, since reading was giving me a headache that first week. But now I’m better, and I’m starting to get bored.
To answer your question: I think a relationship and a career are both very important, but I know my Grandmother Eleanor would agree with you about the supremacy of a relationship.
I’ll see you on the train?
August 16, 2028
I was not flirting with Tony! I can’t believe you were so wrapped up in your own emotions that you didn’t notice how upset he was. I never thought about Clare from Days of Destiny, but I think you are right. We did become a little closer after Rafe’s accident. You know what I mean? I can’t explain it very well, but we were really talking. I don’t know what this means because there hasn’t been any kissing – yet. (Ha!)
I don’t think Rafe minds that Tony was holding hands with me in the corridor, either. He told Tony that he could understand why he was distracted – and that it was a good thing I wasn’t on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. That made me laugh, since all of Gryffindor house would have to be expelled before I could make the team.
I’m glad to hear you’re finally moving on from Daniel, Sera. I know you pride yourself on your loyalty, but I do think he’s a lost cause until he’s at least thirty. He’s a typical flier. And you know what they say about fliers on Days of Destiny – “they have their heads in the clouds and they fly right out of your life.” Maybe he’ll fly back into yours when he’s ready for a real relationship.
Great-gran always has the owls deliver the post to her first, so she saw that I had a letter from Tony. She couldn’t understand why a wizard was writing to me since I was still a little girl. Honestly. I had to remind her again that I was sixteen and not six. Then I felt bad for speaking sharply to her because she looked so confused.
Dad said he wasn’t ready for owls from wizards, either. But he wasn’t surprised since he had such a pretty daughter. My dad is so sweet sometimes. But then he made me weed the vegetable garden.
Oh, and I thought your letter to Rafe was fine, although I think you were too hard on Tony. He is Rafe’s best mate after all.
August 30, 2028
I know it’s silly to write to you when I’ll see you Monday at Hogwarts, but I’m so excited. I talked Mum into letting me buy dress robes at Lady DuSult’s Little Black Robes! At first Mum wouldn’t even consider walking into the shop since she didn’t think Lady DuSult would have anything to suit a young girl going to her cousin’s New Year’s Eve wedding. I told her that Madam Malkin wouldn’t have anything either – unless she thought powder blue polyester robes were appropriate for young girls.
Once we actually entered the LBR shop, Mum came right around. I found the most gorgeous set of robes in this gold-pink shade that was perfect for her. Honestly, if Mum only tried she’d be as beautiful as Aunt Fleur all of the time. Anyway, I ended up with these simple velvet robes in this deep ruby color. On the hanger they don’t look like much, but they made me look older and almost sophisticated! (Now if I can only get rid of these last seven freckles!)
Mum got sentimental for a moment in the dressing room – which was kind of nice since Mum doesn’t get sentimental very often. It was almost like that Days of Destiny scene with Fiona and Clare on Clare’s wedding day. I wonder if Aunt Padma will be sentimental with Amy on her wedding day? Probably not, since she will have the Enchanted Forest and two hundred wedding guests to worry about.
Lady DuSult (Rafe’s mother) talked to us when the shop assistant was adding up our order. She was behind the counter when she heard our names. What’s funny is that she wasn’t interested in Mum; she was interested in me. “You’re Sera!” she said, and then she smiled like she was happy to finally meet me.
I couldn’t believe she knew about me, but then I remembered I had put her only child in the hospital, so I apologized to her, too. She just sort of smiled and said something like “all’s fair in Quidditch.” I couldn’t understand this because the phrase is "all’s fair in love and war,” isn’t it? Although Rafe says she’s originally from Australia so maybe they say something different down there. Then she told me I had excellent taste.
Lady DuSult said I had excellent taste. That’s quite a compliment, Alison.
Yes, I was too hard on Tony in my letter to Rafe. Rafe stuck up for him, which isn’t a surprise, since that’s the way Rafe is.
What do you suppose Rafe meant about seeing me on the train? Do you think he wants to sit with me? Or just wave hello?
Danny (I don’t need to call him DD, anymore) isn’t a flier, Alison. He’s a very intelligent wizard who has a lot of things to do right now. And he was never in my life to fly out of it. So I’m good with that – I think.
I can’t wait to talk to you about this in person! It seems like forever since you visited.
~*~ V. False Hopes
“Is Tony going to ask Alison to Hogsmeade?” Sera hissed across the Gryffindor table one evening at dinner a week into the school year.
“I don’t know,” Rafe hissed back. “This isn’t exactly the place for a private conversation.”
Sera scowled at him. “You’re not exactly easy to find alone since you either have Tony or Andrea Wallace hanging around you.”
“Me?” he said. “I’ve been trying to talk to you alone since the train. But every time I see you, you’re surrounded by Alison or Trevor Whathisname or that Burke fellow or the short bloke from Hufflepuff.”
Sera still felt bad about the train. “I didn’t mean to spend so much time with Jane Stevens on the train – but the poor girl had just been dumped by her boyfriend and she needed an emergency makeover. And then Trevor turned up looking for Alison. And I knew Alison didn’t want to see Trevor when she was trying to flirt with Tony, so I stalled him for awhile.”
Rafe crossed his arms in front of chest and looked down his nose at her. “Alison managed to flirt. I was there the entire time.”
Sera stifled a giggle. “Oh.”
He started to smile. “Is that all you’re going to say? ‘Oh’?”
Now she did giggle. “Uh-huh.”
“I know. Serves me right.” Rafe wasn’t looking so nettled now. “Should’ve thrown a bucket of water on them and then gone looking for you.” He frowned again. “You shouldn’t be giving false hopes to this Trevor Whathisname or Bobby Burke or the short one.”
She bristled at the thought she would give anyone false hopes, since she knew from terrible experience how difficult it was to fancy someone who didn’t know you were alive. “Trevor Whitby, Johnny Burke – and Jeff isn’t that short.” Rafe started to retort, but she held up her hand. “Trevor thinks he likes me, but it’s just transference from his infatuation with Alison. I read about it in Cosmowitch – it’s his way of transitioning away from Alison but still having the familiarity of her best friend. Now, Johnny –”
“Now, Johnny just doesn’t have a lot of confidence. So I think he’s happy to practice talking to me whilst he waits to find a real passion in his life –”
Sera continued on, since Rafe really needed to understand that she would never give anyone false hopes. “I think passion is important in a relationship – don’t you? And I don’t think he feels that way about me at all because he always agrees with everything I say. I mean, I hate to argue – but I do like a discussion – you know, an exchanging of different ideas.”
“I know the definition of discussion.” His eyes flashed in annoyance. “And this isn’t one, since you haven’t let me get a word in edgewise.”
“That’s because I’m trying to make you understand that I’m not giving anyone false hopes!” Sera said. She was leaning so far over the table that the sharp edge was digging into her waist. “And you’re right. Jeff is short – so the number of girls who are shorter than him is limited.”
Rafe ran his hand through his hair in frustration. “Do you ever look in a mirror?”
“Of course I do.” She straightened. “How else do I part my hair? Or find out if I have six freckles instead of seven?”
“Maybe one of your beaus count them for you,” he said sourly. But he was staring at her nose, so maybe he was counting them.
“No one is counting my freckles,” she said crossly and then she rubbed her nose.
“They’re still there,” he pointed out, looking amused now.
She dropped her hand and glared at him. “Now do you believe I’m not giving anyone false hope?”
His eyes locked with hers. Sera felt that familiar flutter of attraction. Rafe had the same velvety brown eyes as Daniel. Eyes. That’s what all those years of fancying Daniel had been about. She truly was the shallowest witch who ever attended Hogwarts.
“I believe now that you don’t intend that result.”
Sera snapped her attention back to Rafe’s words. “Sorry, what result?”
“Giving false hope.”
“Should I be glad about what you now believe – or not?” she asked wearily. Realizing that she was now fancied Rafe on the heels of not fancying Daniel made her want to hide in confusion.
“Sera, what’s wrong? Look, I’m sorry if you think I insinuated anything, but I’ve been trying to talk to you for ages.”
“No, that’s not it.” She searched frantically for any lame excuse. “I just want to have this Hogsmeade thing settled – that’s all.”
He took a deep breath. “Well, why don’t you come with me?”
“I want to have Alison and Tony settled.” She snorted. “And a witch isn’t supposed to go out with a wizard who’s better looking than she is.” Then her eyes grew wide as she realized just what she had said.
Rafe laughed. “Cosmowitch?”
“Sera, will you please look in a mirror when you go back to your dormitory?”
Sera was going to crawl under her covers when she got back to her dormitory.
Thankfully, she was spared answering because Andrea Wallace chose that moment to stop and ask Rafe about an assignment they both had in Charms. Sera studied Andrea while they talked. Andrea had dark hair and striking blue eyes. They really would make a handsome couple except for the tiny problem that Andrea appeared to have no romantic interest in Rafe. No wonder Rafe wanted Sera to go with him. It might make Andrea jealous.
When Rafe turned back to the table, Sera had her answer ready for him. “I’ll go with you to Hogsmeade,” she said. “But I don’t think trying to make Andrea jealous is going to work. I mean, you should just ask her out. The direct approach is usually the best.”
“But I’m asking you out,” he said, cocking his head. “I thought that was fairly direct.”
Sera gave up. There was no use talking to Rafe when he was being clever. She couldn’t keep up with him. “So what’s the intent and what’s the result?” she asked, feeling confused.
Rafe smiled. “The result,” he said with satisfaction, “is that you’re going to Hogsmeade with me.”
VI. All or Nothing
“You’re ready for Hogsmeade,” Sera said as she tweaked a curl around Jane Stevens’s ear. She had already done Alison’s hair and her other roommates’. Jane was the last one.
“Oh, my hair looks good!” Jane said, admiring her reflection. “Thanks, Sera.”
Sera smiled. Making someone feel happy and confident was the best part of being a stylist. “You look good – not just your hair,” Sera replied. “Trevor will wonder what hit him.”
“That was nice of you to set us up, Sera,” Jane said softly, standing up and turning so she could see her entire outfit in the mirror. “I don’t know if I’m over Derek yet, but at least I won’t be sitting in Gryffindor Tower alone today.”
“That’s right,” Sera said, waving her wand to clean up the tiny snippets of hair scattered around. “What’s that saying? There are other fish in the sea?”
Jane giggled. “I reckon it’s time to go fishing then.” She looked at her watch. “You’d better get ready – it’s almost one o’clock.”
Sera thought she was ready. She was wearing jeans and a fine knit, cream-colored jumper. Not exactly smart casual – but appropriate for a trip to Hogsmeade on a warm autumn day. Although now that she looked at herself in the mirror, she wondered if the jumper was a little too clingy.
“Do you think this jumper is too tight?” she asked Jane doubtfully.
Jane smirked. “Not one wizard in this school would think that jumper is too tight.”
Sera blushed. “That’s not an answer!”
“You’re just not used to seeing yourself in anything but school robes and loose sweatshirts,” Jane said, pushing Sera by the shoulders into the chair in front of the mirror. “Now, if you were a client how would you ask Sera Potter to style your hair?”
Sera squinted at the mirror and really looked at her reflection. Her practice of plaiting her hair and pinning it away from her face in hopes of looking sophisticated was really not that becoming.
“You should wear it down,” Jane coaxed. “You have pretty hair.”
“It’s not a pretty color,” Sera mumbled, taking out the pins.
“Your hair matches your eyes,” Jane replied. Then she looked at her watch again. “Oh, Sera, I have to go. It’s almost time.”
Sera hated to be late, but she couldn’t leave the dormitory until she had done something with her hair. She quickly twisted the locks of hair hanging on either side of her face and anchored them on the crown of her head with a clip. Then she took her wand and curled the remaining wispy locks that refused to stay in the clip. The effect was rather flattering.
But now she was late.
Her heart was pounding as she raced down the stairs. The common room was empty, so Rafe must be waiting for her in the Entrance Hall. Or – horrors – maybe he was tired of waiting.
Trying to calm herself with stern lectures about transference and how she really didn’t fancy Rafe, Sera hurried to the Entrance Hall. She was relieved to see that there were a few people left in the queue to be checked out and that Rafe was still there, pacing by stairs.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” Sera said as she practically ran across the Hall. “It took me longer to do everyone’s hair than I thought.”
“You did yours, too,” Rafe said, smiling. “You look nice.”
Sera blushed and started to say, ‘thank you,’ but Rafe held up his hand.
“Don’t you dare say I think you look nice because I’ve had a recent head injury.”
He looked so disgruntled that Sera laughed. “I was going to say, ‘thank you.’”
“Oh.” He took a moment to recover and then gave her a dazzling smile. “Let’s go to Hogsmeade.”
Sera’s breath caught in her throat and then she smiled back. Transference, she admonished herself. This feeling is just transference.
As they walked out into the bright sunshine, Sera tried to decide if ‘quiet and mysterious’ was the best approach for the afternoon until she remembered that there were several things she wanted to tell him.
“You know, Rafe,” she began as they passed the gates of the school, “I was thinking today when I was styling Jane’s hair, that if you ever need to know something about a witness or a suspect or an informant or one of those people – you should talk to their hair stylist.”
“Oh?” He took her hand in his – probably because they were passing Andrea Wallace and her friends.
Not really thinking about the Cosmowitch dos and don’ts, she squeezed his hand affectionately. “Yes – the hair stylist. You wouldn’t believe the things people will tell you when you’re cutting their hair.”
“Like what Derek I’m-a-big-cheat Donovan told Jane when he dumped her!”
“Maybe you shouldn’t be telling me this,” Rafe began.
“It’s not the confessional,” Sera retorted, pulling her hand away. “Or attorney-client privilege.”
“No, I suppose not,” Rafe said in a placating tone. “And your idea is a good one.”
Sera felt mollified that Rafe didn’t think her idea was stupid. But now she had dropped his hand and she didn’t know how to get it back.
“But the next question is,” Rafe continued, “is how do you get the hairstylist to talk to the barrister about what her client said?”
Sera stopped in the middle of the path and stared at him. As always, Rafe was way ahead of her. Then she laughed. “I don’t know! I suppose that’s the problem for you to figure out.”
“I was hoping you could help me with that problem,” Rafe said seriously.
“What problem?” she whispered. He was looking at her so intently with those wonderful eyes that she couldn’t look away.
“How to get the hairdresser to tell me what I need to know.”
“Stylist,” she corrected automatically. Then she swallowed. “What do you need to know?”
“Sera.” He took both of her hands in his. “Do you think you could like me just a little bit?”
Could she like him just a little bit? The question thundered through her mind as the blood pounded through her racing heart. Yes, a little voice whispered, oh yes.
“No,” she said decidedly. “I can’t like you just a little bit.” Rafe started to pull away but she held his hands tightly. “I don’t like people just a little bit.” She held his gaze. “I’m an all or nothing type of a person.”
His eyes darkened so that the velvety brown turned to night. Then he bent to kiss her, still holding her hands. The touch of his lips on hers was all too brief. “This is the ‘all’ of ‘all or nothing’, right?” he asked.
That uncertainty in his voice touched something in her. She stood on her tiptoes to put her arms around his neck and then she kissed him with everything she had. After his initial surprise, Rafe put his arms around her and kissed her back with equal enthusiasm.
“This is all,” she affirmed when they finally broke apart.
He caressed her hair and smiled into her eyes. “I think there’s more,” he said, kissing her again.
Sera melted against him and decided that in this, as in many other things, Rafe was way ahead of her.
~*~ VII. A Letter
January 1, 2029
Happy New Year! I wish you could have attended Amy’s wedding as Tony’s guest, but I can understand why your parents didn’t want you to leave during the holidays.
It was the perfect wedding. Amy wore a white Lady DuSult gown trimmed in white fur. Her hair was loose with flowers instead of a veil. I’m glad she didn’t wear Great-Aunt Muriel’s tiara. I really think there are two groups of brides – those who can wear tiaras and those who can’t. You, Alison, could wear a tiara. I could not. I can’t explain this – but I know it’s true.
Amy’s twin, Annette, also wore a Lady DuSult. (Mid-night blue trimmed in sable) The Enchanted Forest was beautiful by moonlight and the perfect setting for Amy and Jack to exchange their vows.
It was sooo romantic and a wonderful ending to their story. (Mum says that marriage is actually the beginning of the story, but I don’t see how a relationship can be more romantic after marriage – unless you’re Fiona in Days of Destiny and suffer from bouts of amnesia, kidnappings, and assassination attempts.) Anyway, Amy was telling us that she had fancied Jack back at Hogwarts, but since he was five years older than her and in a different house, and she didn’t think he’d ever notice her.
Well, he didn’t notice her at Hogwarts. Poor Amy. I don’t think I could have held out hope as long as she did – although Jack’s dad and Amy’s dad were best mates in school so I think she kept tabs on Jack that way. The breakthrough came last year when Amy was assigned to write profiles for all of the Quidditch announcers in Britain. She had to interview Jack Jordan and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tony couldn’t believe that of all the Quidditch players Amy has interviewed for Quidditch Illustrated, she had to fall for an announcer. I’m glad for Amy since I think Jack is really nice, and a lot of fun and he’s a good dancer.
Before the wedding, all of the Weasley aunts were worried about Annette, since she is currently unattached. However, at the reception Annette danced every dance with a dark-haired, handsome stranger. I’m not kidding about how handsome he was. He looked like he came with the Enchanted Forest or something. Oddly enough, no one knew this man’s name. Uncle George and Aunt Padma didn’t know. Jack’s parents didn’t know. Finally someone had the sense to ask Uncle Ron. It turned out that the handsome stranger was Alberto DaVinci from Florence. He’s in England for six months to do the marble work at the new Ministry for Magic. Uncle Ron thought he might be lonely over the holidays and invited him along.
Anyway, Alberto soon became part of our ‘one big happy Weasley family’ when Uncle George told everyone to open the favors on the tables. Once you opened the bag, a pair of magical arms gripped you in a suffocating hug and then your face was covered in pink lipstick kisses. Uncle George asked me months ago what shade of lipstick was most likely to be worn by annoying great-aunts. (Carnation pink) It was really funny to see everyone struggling to get away from all of that Weasley family love.
Speaking of Weasley love, (ha!) you’ll be happy to know that Tony didn’t dance one dance. Not even with his sister, the bride. He said he doesn’t like to dance – but I think he was missing you.
I danced, though. With Rafe, of course. (Whee!) I also danced with Dad and with Danny. (I can’t think of him as Daniel now, for some reason.) You know, I felt a little guilty when I was dancing with him, since he’s a perfectly nice person and very good-looking. I can’t explain why I thought I liked him for so long and now I feel nothing. I even asked Mum about it. She thought that since Danny was so quiet that perhaps I had been projecting a lot on to him.
What’s funny is that Cosmowitch had an article about the dangers of projecting your desires on another in their December issue. So I think Mum is right.
Rafe says that if my hair salon doesn’t pan out, I should consider writing for Cosmowitch since I’m a true believer. You know, I don’t mind when Rafe teases me. I wonder why? Maybe because of the intent behind the words.
I told Rafe that I wished I had pined for him for years since that would make our relationship more romantic. Rafe said that I had indeed pined for him except I didn’t realize it. He said that Cosmowitch was going to do a special Valentine’s edition on the phenomenon known as Clueless-ness, and to expect an owl asking for an interview. That really made me laugh, since it’s true.
I told Mum what Rafe had said about clueless-ness and she just smiled this little smile and said she thought that I had inherited that trait from the Potter side of the family. Really, Mum has been very understanding about Rafe. Dad has, too, except he keeps asking if I would like to go to Beauxbatons – or New Zealand – for my seventh year.
That’s about all, Alison. I’ll tell you about David and Caroline when we’re back at school. Let’s just say I’m going to get my wish to attend a Muggle wedding! Now if I could just find someone nice for Brian…
A/N: This first appeared on my live journal. Thanks to Sherylyn for the beta!
For those of you who are interested, here’s the “map” to this fluffy universe:
Son: Richard (m. Gabriella DuSult)
Grandson: Raphael (Rafe)
Son: Roger (m. Lisa Turpin)
Bobbin Family – owners of Bobbin’s Apothecary
Mother: Griselda (Sister of Eleanor Davies)
Daughter: Melinda (m. Barry Anderson then Michael DuSult)