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cris • tee • nuh ([info]cristina_lacosa) wrote,
@ 2012-05-19 22:10:00

Previous Entry  Add to memories!  Tell a Friend!  Next Entry
Entry tags:flavors, nora


nora peakes


She trudged through the swampy ground, muttering about how stupid it was that she, the girl who had scored all Os throughout her five years of taking Care of Magical Creatures, would be sent to collect toads. Toads! Not even fire-breathing shin-biting toads, just regular, boring, ribbiting toads. Who cared if she was the newest and youngest member in the Beast Division? She definitely did not deserve this sort of dirty work. They were wasting her skills! Seniority was such bullshit!

“Oh, are you kidding me?” Nora stood now, like a flamingo, as her boot had been sucked into the mud, her foot pulling straight out of it. She teetered on one foot for a moment, wondering if she could manage to get herself back in order. It shouldn’t be hard, and she stretched out her arms to keep herself balanced as she made the delicate twist to get back in her boot.

“I hope you fall on your flat ass!”

Nora let out a yelp at the shout, the voice in the empty swamp, and completely lost her balance. Her arms flailed in a vain attempt to keep herself upright, but she fell back with a large splash. She completely submerged in the mud and it took a good few seconds before she managed to push herself up and out of the sludge without slipping.

She sat, drenched in the slop, bewildered.

“Who’s out there?” Nora coughed, managing to tug her wand out of her pocket. It gave itself a shiver which sent the mud everywhere, including Nora’s still sludge covered face. Her eyes scanned the area, listening for the sound of the person who was following her. The crack of apparition would have echoed through the swampy forest, and there was no way someone could have managed to creep along behind her without making the atrocious mud sucking sounds that she had been. “Who’s there!”

“Stop shouting, you stupid bint!” the voice shouted, seemingly from above her.

Nora’s head tilted up and she let out a little sound at the sight of what looked like an overgrown ferret, lounging on a low hanging branch above her. It stared at her sharply with its black beady eyes, its tail swishing back and forth.

“A jarvey!” Nora exclaimed, having never seen one of the creatures before. A real life jarvey! She’d read all about them, and it had always amazed her that they could supposedly talk, even if it was only in insults. This was definitely more exciting than collecting some stupid toads. Nora scrambled the best she could to her feet, and approached the animal. “You’re quite rude!”

“No shit!”

His blank expression as he spat at her caused Nora to laugh, which in turn made the jarvey’s fur bristled. He stood and let out something that sounded like a huff and began to quickly walk the length of the branch and away from her. Nora started; she couldn’t let something like this get away so quickly without a bit more investigating!

“Wait!” she called out, clambering onto a fallen log as she followed the rather fast jarvey. He jumped from tree branch to tree branch with ease, and now Nora knew how he’d managed to sneak up on her. “Have you been following me?”

“You’re not very exciting,” the jarvey let out, its tail held high with importance. Nora grinned, but held back actually letting out a laugh. How bloody neat!

“I could show you some exciting stuff! I’ve got a whole campsite set up about a mile back, you could explore that?” Nora stopped abruptly as her log had run out of trunk. She wouldn’t be able to follow the jarvey at the pace he was going if she had to trudge through the mud again. The jarvey trotted a few more feet along his branch before he stopped, and he looked over his shoulder.

“I highly doubt that,” it drawled, but it pulled an acrobatic moved and twisted on the thin branch to come back toward her. Nora watched in awe as the jarvey approached her, not stopping as he passed by her again, “What the hell are you waiting for?”

Nora jumped in surprise and nearly fell back into the marsh earning a muttering of ‘stupid bint,’ from the jarvey before she led him back to the campsite.

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Nora’s lips twisted as she tried to control her tears and she sniffled loudly. Her legs were pulled up to her chest as she stared out the dreary, rainy window and she wondered what she’d done in her former lives to make her love life so bloody terrible. Maybe she’d been such a bad girlfriend at some point in history that fate decided she should just deal with animals and leave the relationship stuff to people who could actually function properly with a human being. Why were boys so mean, anyway? They made it so bloody difficult to have anything nice, and the stupid blokes of Hogwarts were some of the worst.

Charlie Spinnet must fancy her with how rude he was all the time. He was just so embarrasing that he might as well pull her pigtails and----oh wait, he did. It seemed like every time he made fun of her there was an audience, and of course Octavius was in that audience and it just----sucked. Instead of screaming at him for twenty minutes she should have punched him in the face, but Nora had lost her nerve today and disappeared from the courtyard before her tears could fall.


She jumped, wiping away at her face and refusing to look over her shoulder until she was sure that her face was dry. Most likely her eyes were red and swollen, but she couldn’t do much about that now except blame it on allergies. Nora sniffed once more and looked up as the other person approached her. She gulped.

“Hi, Adrian,” she muttered, feeling sheepish for being caught crying by the captain of the quidditch team.

Adrian Mattias was...well, he was beautiful, that was one thing. He was---very good at quidditch and he was Portuguese. Or half. Or something! She didn’t know, but he had an accent and it was dreamy. Nora sat up straighter and wished that she’d had the good sense to bring a hair tie. With a curly mane like hers, it was ridiculous how often she forgot to bring something to keep the unruly springs of hair out of her face. Though, maybe hiding behind her hair was a good thing tonight, because she felt her cheeks heat up as Adrian sat beside her on the window sill.

“Why were you crying?” Adrian asked, looking honestly concerned. “It is not about Spinnet’s little joke, yes?”

Nora pressed her lips together and nodded, knowing that there would be no point in lying about it. She blinked quickly, trying to calm her breaths, but it was hard with her tears and how close Adrian was.

“Charlie’s an idiot,” Nora said, and Adrian nodded in agreement, making her laugh.

“He is...something, yes,” Adrian said, pressing his back against the window pane. Nora’s eyes danced over his broad shoulders and she wondered why he was bothering to talk to her. She was sure they’d never had a conversation before and the only reason he probably knew her name was because Charlie was so often shouting it to startle her in the corridor. No, Nora could not come up with a single reason why Adrian Mattias, the tall, dark, and handsome quidditch player, would be talking to her, but she certainly couldn’t complain.

Even if she did feel like curling up into a ball and rolling away to get out of his sight with how ridiculous she looked in this very moment. Couldn’t he have decided to pay attention to her, oh, who knows, when she had her hair and makeup done, and hadn’t been crying for the past half hour?

“You look very pretty when you are angry,” Adrian commented idly, examining his fingernails. Nora felt her arms get prickly with goosebumps, her shoulders stiffened, her heart skipped about thirty beats. She what? Adrian looked up at her and grinned at her stunned expression and sat forward. He smelled like grass and pumpkin juice. Nora’s eyes fluttered. “Not many people can keep a shouting match going that long.”

“Yeah, but look how I end up,” she said, unable to accept his compliments. Adrian shook his head and reached his hand out. Nora held her breath as he brushed away a tear that had been left on her cheek. His touch was hot and she nearly lurched forward and on top of him. But of course she didn’t.

“You are very pretty,” he reiterated. With a grin Adrian stood and sent her a short, two-finger wave before he pushed off the stone of the wall and crossed the common room. Nora watched him ascend the stairs up to the boys’ dorm and kept her gaze until he was out of sight. She let out a breath, letting her leg drop over the side of the window sill as she suddenly felt like she was going to be stuck there for a while. She was completely immobilized by the quidditch captain’s touch and stare.

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When a handsome curse breaker asked you to go on an adventure with him, you don’t say no.

Nora had not thought for a second that today was a bad idea. Over the past year if their schedules worked out and the other could be of great assistance, Nico requested Nora's company on his venture and Nora extended an invitation to him. When one of her research assignments landed her near some treasure-filled tombs, she always dangled the fun in front of his eyes. It just worked, they worked. Today was no different! Nico had caught wind of a cavern filled with stolen goblin gold that was guarded by trolls and tebos, so of course it made sense to invite his magizoologist girlfriend on the quest. Nora could track trolls in her sleep, and though invisible tebos were a little harder to keep a lookout for, two sets of eyes were better than one.

A cave-in in a cave that hadn’t caved in in over a thousand years, however, they could not have seen coming from a million miles away.

Nora coughed, feeling as if one of the boulders that had thundered to the ground around them was resting on her chest. She pushed herself up by her elbows, blinking to get the dirt out of her eyes and adjust to the sudden darkness. Each breath took a great effort and she winced at the sharp pain that flared up in her wrist the moment she put some pressure on it. It was definitely sprained, but it wasn’t hurting enough to be broken, which was good. From the lurching of her stomach, they had dropped a good fifty feet, which meant that climbing back up to the ground level was going to be interesting. Caverns that housed trolls and other magical creatures were usually prone to reject apparation and other sorts of fleeing magic.

Lumos,” she said, hoping that even though her wand had been flung from her hand it would obey. Thankfully it did, but it illuminated the crater that the cave in had created, and Nora realized how very alone she was. Every bone in her body began to ache as she scrambled forward to pick up her wand. “Nico? Nico!”

Her boyfriend was nowhere in sight. Once her shout stopped echoing off the cave walls, Nora listened for any sort of sound that might give her an idea of where he was, but the silence was as heavy as one of the boulders lying beside her. He had been right beside her! He had been making a crude observation about how they’d never shagged against a stalagmite when the earth had caved in underneath them. Nora’s hand went to her head to try and keep down the pounding headache that was beginning to form at the front of her skull. He had to be around here somewhere!

“This isn’t funny!” she shouted, after what seemed like an hour of frantically rushing around the small area of her landslide, hoping that Nico was playing a trick to put her into a panic. He always said he liked the wild look in her eyes when she didn’t know what the hell she was doing. With how badly her hands were shaking, he was doing a good job of riling her up, “If you’re not dead, I’m going to kill you!”

Nora’s hands clenched as the crack in her voice bounced off the walls. She couldn’t joke away her fear that Nico was crushed under the rubble. It was---the most likely scenario. She should have known better; tebos tunnel and with trolls stomping around it was no wonder that the foundation was weak. Merlin, he could be anywhere, he could be----he really could be----

How could he not be...?

Her hands flew to her mouth as the thought of Nico truly being lost struck her. Nora’s entire body began to shake, her legs losing their ability to hold her up. She dropped down to her knees, her entire being shivering at the possibility of Nico being dead, dead, because of some ruddy boulders, some rocks! He couldn’t be killed by rocks. He was----he was her handsome curse breaker, this couldn’t be it for him. A fiery soul like his deserved to go out in flames, not---not-----she never told him that she---

She let out a terrible sound, lurching forward in agony. This couldn’t be happening, this couldn’t be happening, she couldn’t breathe. Nora painfully took in strained breaths and from her curled up position on the floor, through blurry eyes, she watched a few pebbles drip to the ground. Slowly, at first, but then faster, and more still. Choking on a breath, Nora pushed herself away from the cascading rocks, thinking that now she too was going to be buried under an avalanche of stone. She watched in terror as the rocks not only dropped down to her feet, but were pushed----forward.

Her body reacted before her mind could catch up. Nora jumped forward and on all fours, hands clawing at the rock to move it out of the way. It could have been a tebo burrowing through the rock, but it could be, it could be----

Nico,” she croaked, dropping down to her stomach as the small opening to a tunnel was revealed. Her hands dug furiously, catching sight of her dirtier-than-usual curse breaker and his very weary expression. He looked as if he’d been awoken from a long, tiresome nap and only managed a slight look of recognition when he tilted his head toward her. Nora continued to dig, recognizing the claw marks around the sides of the small tunnel as the tell-tale signs that a tebo had built it. “Are you stuck? Can you feel your legs? What’s your name? Do you know where you are?”

Nora tugged fruitlessly on Nico’s hand, the one that had been pushing the rocks of the blocked entrance away. He was too heavy for her to pull when he was dead weight like this, but she didn’t want to move him too quickly with her wand in case adjusting his position caused him more pain or even worse, created another cave-in around him. Nora stuck her wand into the tunnel, illuminating his face. She put her wand down, a foolish thing to do when the world was literally ready to come down around you.

Nico blinked slowly and Nora kept a shaky smile on her face. He was hurt, he was very hurt, but he was alive. She watched him take in a deep breath, his eyes crinkling with the usual mischief she was used to.

“I love you,” he slurred.

Nora’s eyes widened in great shock, watching his eyes go out of focus once again. What---was he delusional---did he mean that or just----a flood of insanity as he----Nora wasn’t given the time to internally revel in his words; in the next moment there was a low, angry growl that quite certainly sounded from further down the tunnel. Nora yelped as she grabbed onto Nico’s outstretched arm with both of her hands, pulling as hard as she could. But---but he jerked back, and even though her wand was lighting up the small space and revealed nothing behind Nico, she knew that it was an invisible tebo that had latched onto her curse breaker’s leg.

“No----you----don’t!” she shouted, and with her second lucky shot of wandless magic, a great blue bolt of energy shot out from the tip of her wand. It struck the tebo perfectly---the shock wave caused the creature to go in and out of invisibility. With a shriek the tebo dropped Nico’s leg and scurried backwards down the tunnel. Nora used all of her strength to heave him out of the tunnel, and after letting out a few guttural yells as her wrist burnt in pain, she managed to finally pull him out. Nora snatched her wand and closed the entrance of the tunnel with a few swishes and flicks. Nora was on the ground immediately, her landing kicking up a cloud of dirt as she pulled Nico into her lap.

“It’s going to be all right,” she said, running a soothing hand through his hair. Nico coughed, letting out what sounded like a weak attempt at a laugh. “We’re going to get out of here.”

Trolls,” he reminded her. Nora shook her head, her free hand holding her wand up tightly, ready to shoot an attack at anything that might think creeping its way toward them was a good idea. Falling rocks, stomping trolls, or invisible tebos, nothing was going to get near her and the handsome curse breaker that loved her.

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Nora grabbed hold of the paddock's fence and shook it fiercely. When it didn't open she gazed towards the castle in hopes of spotting Professor Kettleburn, but unfortunately he was nowhere in sight. Her Care of Magical Creatures professor had promised that he would let her take care of the hippogriffs tonight, but he was prone to forgetting things. Nora had been excited all day, bouncing and tripping over her own feet as she went class to class, going on about the hippogriffs to whomever would listen. Not many people did, but the few that she managed to wrangle into a conversation were now quite aware of the Gryffindor's adoration for the beast.

The third year’s obsession with hippogriffs had started at a young age. Her father had bought her a stuffed hippogriff from a toy store in Diagon Alley and it immediately became Nora’s favorite, because its wings were so beautiful and it seemed as ferocious as a dragon. The toy came along with a book all about the majestic creatures, and it seemed like every conversation with the little girl led back to hippogriffs; the strength of their beaks, the sharpness of their claws, the fact that you had to earn their respect before daring to approach them. It marveled her, and when her first ever Care of Magical Creatures lesson was based on the hippogriff, Nora swore it was a sign. She was simply meant to take care of this animal.

Which is what she had intended to do, but with the paddock locked and Kettleburn nowhere to be found, it seemed that Nora was going to have to wait another day to play caretaker for the hippogriffs. She stared miserably through the planks of the fence, her heart breaking into pieces at the sight of how wonderful and majestic the hippogriffs were. Even when they were gobbling up buckets of dead rats, there was still something so---fantastic about them. Nora let out a whine, frustrated that she had prepared herself so much for this evening and was now going to have to sulk back to the castle with her head hanging low. She gave the fence one last shake and it rattled loudly in the quiet of the evening. Some of the hippogriffs looked up, most ignored her, but the smallest one, a skittish creature by the name of Wingtip, let out a shriek and shot off into the sky.

Uh oh.

Nora gaped as she watched the hippogriff soar away. Oh no, this was terrible! Kettleburn had said that the hippogriffs were free to fly about, that they wouldn't bother the students unless they bothered first (something that had prompted Professor McGonagall to have a discussion with the Magical Creatures professor) so it wasn't a terrible thing that Wingtip had gone off, it was terrible because the hippogriff had left behind its shiny blue egg which was meant to hatch in the morning! That had been the main reason why Nora had been so excited to help out tonight! She would have played a part in the hatching of a baby hippogriff, and to Nora, baby hippogriffs were just the cutest things in the whole wide world!

Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks!

The other hippogriffs all settled down to sleep and the precious little blue egg was left alone to fend for itself. Nora felt a panic rise up in her, and without much thought---because if she had thought, she would have run off to find Kettleburn and alert him of this travesty---she clambered up the planks of the fence and hopped over it, landing roughly in the hard soil of the paddock. Her appearance caused the other hippogriffs to lift their heads up quickly, and while Nora had bowed and gained the trust of a few of them, it was still quite intimidating to have their large orange eyes boring into her. She pulled at her cloak and bent low in a curtsy, maintaining eye contact, or---as well as she could. They seemed to find her nothing more than a little disruption and went back to preening their own feathers and ducking their heads to sleep. Phew!

Nora rushed over to the egg, which looked to be shivering in the breeze. Hippogriff eggs only incubated for twenty-four hours, and by Kettleburn's calculations by eight o'clock tomorrow morning the little baby hippogriff should hatch. Nora had already set her alarm clock! Without the warmth of its mother, she feared that the egg might not survive it the night. She padded up the nest with straw that was strewn about and wrapped her red and gold scarf snugly around the egg. It looked toasty enough, and Nora propped herself up against a tree stump to await the mother's return. Wingtip would be back any minute, she knew, she was simply taking the proper precautions in case the mama hippogriff got distracted. Nora yawned, the long day of excitement finally catching up to her. Wingtip would be back soon, and surely a hippogriff landing a mere few feet away from her would wake her up from the light slumber she found herself falling into…

"…Nora? Is that you? Nora?" Her eyes snapped open, and Nora found herself startled at how bright it was. And how cold! It was cold, and---She looked around for the voice and spotted Max Fancourt standing on the bottom plank of the fence, staring curiously at her. "What time did you get out here?"

"What time is it?" she responded groggily, pushing herself up. Her hair was a mess, a huge tangle of curls and sticks and grass. Bloody hell, she had fallen asleep! In the hippogriff paddock! All night! She was going to be in so much trouble! Except, it was sort of cool that the hippogriffs hadn't trampled her for invading their territory for so long!

"It's six-thirty," Max said, climbing up the fence and hopping over. He made it three steps before he recalled having to bow, and after that was settled he hurried over to the egg, "Has it moved at all? I think Kettleburn's got the time wrong, I think it'll be before seven. Why's it wearing a Gryffindor scarf? Did you sleep out here?"

Nora turned pink, patting her hair down as best as she could. She was caught, but at least it was by Max whom she had caught sneaking puffskeins from Hogsmeade into school. He wished to start a colony of them in the Hufflepuff dorms; he definitely understood her affection for animals. "I scared away the mum last night, I couldn't leave the egg!"

"Of course you couldn't!" he agreed, lying flat on the ground to get a better look. Nora managed to wrangle a hair tie around her hair and she joined her friend down in the dirt, both pairs of eyes scrutinizing the egg. The egg wiggled and she let out a gasp, catching Max's eye from around the end of the nest. He grinned madly at her. "Good thinking, with the scarf."

The egg began to shake more and more, a loud clicking noise resonated from the egg, which must be that itty bitty beak attempting to crack through the shell. The anticipation, the excitement, the pure adrenaline was the most amazing feeling in the world, and as the tiny beak broke through the shell, Nora was sure that this was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

"Think Kettleburn would let me name it Godric?" Nora whispered, entranced.

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She jumped onto the curb, unwilling to slow her pace because of some old biddies that were taking five minutes per step. Nora's hair bounced on her shoulders, the curls matching her entire demeanor. This was really the best day ever! Her already big grin widened when she finally reached the front steps of the complex, and she bounded up them two at a time, buzzing herself in with great fervor. She couldn't reach him fast enough.

Nora could hear his voice already! 'I told you, Peakes!' she just knew he would say. With the most important roll of parchment she'd ever received tightly gripped in her fist, she banged furiously on the door, unable to keep herself still. He had to be home, he just had to be! Nora was about to knock again, this time much harder, but the door had swung open and Octavius Pepper appeared, his hands up and face bright with excitement.

"You got it?!" Octavius asked, reading her mind before she had the chance to shout that yes, she indeed had gotten the position of Field Research Magizoologist, her dream position and the one she had been desperate to be promoted to for the past three years!

"OCTAVIUS!" she shrieked, finally allowing her pure elation to burst free. Nora catapulted herself at her friend, arms wrapping around him in the biggest of hugs. She was lifted into the air as Octavius swept her around with a holler of excitement, and Nora immediately began to bounce on her toes as soon as they hit the ground.

"What did I tell you?" he said, bouncing a little along with her. They moved in a tight little circle, stepping on each other's feet. "I told you you'd be a shoe-in; you could've been doing this since third year!"

"I couldn't have done it without you!" she exclaimed, eyes shining brightly up at him. "If you hadn't told me to bring Kenneth along to show how he's adapted to domestication, I would've fallen flat on my face during the interview!"

"While getting that jarvey to do anything but spit at you is quite the feat in and of itself," Octavius mused, giving Nora a shake, "I'm still sure you would've gotten the promotion without the little bugger. Congratulations, Nora."

Nora pressed her lips together in a tight smile and she felt proud of herself, especially now with Octavius' once again very vocal support. She pushed forward and hugged him tightly, dropping her chin to his shoulder.

"Thank you so much," she whispered, suddenly overwhelmed. All of her hard work, all of the time she had put into studying, the odd-jobs she had worked to gain experience in the field! Those long, boring days of summarizing adventures other people went on while she was stuck in an office cubicle at the Ministry. Nora had been yearning for the chance to set off into the world, and now she could, she'd have a team to back her; she would be seeing the most exotic and elusive places on the planet because some of the greatest researchers in the world thought she was good enough to join their ranks.

"I guess this means you'll be out of the country lots…" he said, the excitement in his voice having deflated. Nora's eyes welled and thankfully Octavius hadn't loosened his grip around her. He sounded sad, and Nora's heart skipped a beat. "For long…undetermined amounts of time."

Her eyes rolled up to the ceiling to hold back her tears as he brought up the aspect of the job she hadn't fully settled with. Taking this job meant going off on expeditions, something she'd always wanted to do, but Nora had never been so far away from home for such long periods of time. There was Hogwarts, sure, but she was surrounded by friends in the safety of Gryffindor tower. If she needed them, her parents could be there on a floo call's notice. Literally being around the world from everything you knew was the most exciting yet terrifying thing she ever had to face made her shake with trepidation. She pulled back, arms still hanging around Octavius' neck.

"It's scary to think about," she said, sure that she could never tell another soul that she was worried about being homesick. Octavius frowned, his worry evident. Could she really manage being a world away from her family, her friends, Delilah?


"Let's not think about it, then!" Octavius said, his expression changing from concern once again to excitement. He jumped away and Nora jerked forward, her arms not having been ready to let go. She watched him hurry to a nearby counter and unravel a bit of parchment, scribbling madly. "I'm owling the twins, maybe a Pepper or two, and we will be having drinks in your honor."

"I haven't told Delilah yet!" Nora let out, rushing forward to stop his quill. Her best friend would kill her in a strangling hug if she found out through a letter that she had gotten the job. Octavius looked up, eyebrows high, honestly startled by this news.

"Really? Am I the first person you told?"

Nora blushed, but then shoved him in the shoulder. "I had to thank you, so yes…you are."

"Then the first round's on me! Well---maybe your first round is on me…" he said with an innocent grin.

Nora's eyes lit up and as he went back to his letter she realized just how much she was really going to miss Octavius. Even with her underlying romantic feelings for him, it was so easy to have a conversation, to laugh, to be serious with. What was she going to do without him when the world went mad as it was prone to do? She took in a deep breath. She couldn't think like that. She was an adult, she was smart, she was strong; Nora could handle herself. Right now was a time for celebrating, and she moved forward to begin dictating the rest of Octavius' letter. Nora decided that she was going to have to make the best of her time here in England before she set off on her first amazing adventure; who knew when she'd be back?

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best friend

She slipped in the mud and took only a half-second to scrap the bottom of her bare feet on the grass before darting after the rabbit. Nora huffed, wondering how such a tiny creature could run so fast, but there it went, zipping through the grass, hopping this way and that. She tried to mimic the bounces, but it just made her stumble to her knees. The rabbit disappeared under the brush and Nora let out a sigh. Her mother had just mended her pants and if she came back with them ripped and torn from the thorny bushes that created a barrier between the two yards, she'd be detained to the porch for the rest of the summer.

Or worse, she'd have to wear a skirt.

Crinkling her nose at the idea, Nora made sure she was careful with where she crawled. All she wanted to do was find out where the rabbit's burrow was! She was planning to plant a small garden specifically for the rabbit and its family, because she was working very hard on her own and if she could avoid little bunnies nibbling on her cabbages, that would be great!

Nora found a bush that was a bit high off the ground and dropped down to lie on her stomach. She was expecting to see a rabbit, or at least catch sight of it dashing off, but instead was greeted by the bright smile of what appeared to be another girl.


Nora yelped, skittering away from the bush and jolting to her feet. That was most certainly not a rabbit!

"Hey!" the voice called again. The bush shook, knocking some of its leaves to the ground. "Where'd you go?"

"I---" Nora began, feeling wary as she wasn't allowed to talk to strangers. Though, the girl looked to be about her age, and she was on the other side of the bushes, meaning that she had to be her neighbor! Did that count as a stranger? "I'm right here."

"Did you find the bunny? I've been chasing it for hours!" the other voice cried out.

"No, I think we scared it." Nora wrung her hands together, but with only a moment more of hesitation, she dropped to her knees again and caught sight of the girl. "Did you just move into the brick house on Kilkenny?"

"Yes!" the girl squeaked, her blonde hair very much caught up in the thorns. "Me and me mum and me dad and me brother and me other brother! It's so much bigger than our older house and we could only afford it because me dad got a promotion in the mini---at his job! If you've found footballs in your yard, it's because Charlie is bad at kickin' 'em. He's my brother, he's actually my twin brother but I'm the only girl so that makes me special and I'm still better at him at everything---I'm really good at footy, but I'd rather play cricket because at least then you can hit things with a big ol' stick!"

Nora nodded slowly, trying to store all of this new information. This girl was definitely her neighbor, as Nora was constantly finding odd shaped balls in her backyard, unsure of where they came from. She had watched the moving trucks from her bedroom window, but she hadn't caught sight of the family, let alone heard them playing around in the backyard. She'd been too busy with her gardening to notice, she supposed. It didn't matter much, anyway, as Nora knew next to nothing about sports. Her brother was more keen on quidditch than the muggle sports the kids played around the area, so she didn't know much about this 'footy,' and she was a bit startled by this other supposed 'sport' her neighbor played.

"Whacking crickets with big sticks isn't very nice," Nora pouted, glaring at the girl. The blonde blinked a few times, mouth dropped in an 'o' shape, and then let out a loud howl of a laugh. Nora's cheeks burnt red, but she held onto her stern expression.

"I don't kill bugs, ew that's so gross! Cricket is a game that the muggles----"

Both girls' eyes widened at the same time, Nora's in surprise and the other girl's in complete and utter despair.

"Oh, bother!"

The other girl disappeared, and Nora leapt to her feet, following the worried voice on the other side of the brush.

"Oh, I've done it again," the girl whimpered. "Spilled another stupid comment about muggles in front of a muggle and now I'm never gonna go to Hogwarts and Charlie's gonna go and make a bajillion friends and---"

"You're going to Hogwarts too?" Nora called through the bush, having to stop matching the girl's paces because of a tree trunk. She lied against it, her heart beating fast. She'd had no idea that there was another magical family in the neighborhood. She always grew so lonesome in the muggle grade school, knowing that the second she turned eleven she'd receive her Hogwarts letter and her new life was ready to begin. Maybe now she'd have a friend who understood why she just couldn't focus on the boring chalkboard and the unmoving playground.

"You know about Hogwarts?" the voice asked cautiously. "Like…everything?"

Nora leaned forward, finding herself smiling, just a little. She moved as close as she could to the bush without the leaves tickling her lips and whispered, "My brother's a Ravenclaw. I think I'm gonna be a Gryffindor, though."

She most certainly was not expecting the other girl to burst through the bushes, tackling her to the ground. Nora landed in the grass with a loud thump and blinked wearily up at the girl who was straddling her.


"Er---nice to meet you, Delilah," Nora groaned. Delilah either didn't notice she was squishing her or didn't care, asshe stayed happily perched on her stomach. "I'm---Nora."

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