Running Backwards Chapter Seven (2015-12-27)

I woke up with a jerk, and almost startled sideways off of my bed. The room was still unfamiliar and thus disorienting in the dark.
Despite being underground, the Hufflepuff dorm ceilings were supposed to be lit following the school’s circadian pattern. Meaning that there was no reason for me to be awake.

I wasn’t one to awaken easily in the night, despite being in a new location, and so I sat up to search for the reason.

Our room was fairly large, understandable since it did have to house four adolescent boys and their inevitable mess, but still small enough to feel cozy. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I spotted Farold and Arthur’s prone bodies across the room. Besides Farold’s mild whistling snore, which I had accustomed myself to early on in the night, neither of them were the cause of my conscious state.

In the bed beside mine, a blanket cocoon curled further in on itself, and a muffled cry made its way over to my ears.

Ah. Cedric.

I dithered, unsure whether or not I should go over or leave him alone. I didn’t want to embarrass him by causing a fuss, especially since we didn’t know each other all that well, but he was my friend and I remembered being eleven and being homesick. Even if I had the maturity of a previous life, the first time around I didn’t, and I remembered my own bouts of loneliness. By day, they had seemed silly, but the nights made it hurt more.

Another muffled cry made the decision for me.

I padded over on silent feet to Cedric’s bed and laid a hand on his shoulder, “Cedric?” I murmured.

His shaking form stiffened, even though he shouldn’t have been able to feel my touch through the blanket cocoon. The tawny brown of his hair popped out and his face freed itself soon after, “Sorry, sorry,” he half-sobbed, pressing his damp face into the pillow, still trying to stop the flow of his tears, “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“It’s okay, Cedric,” I assured him and sat down in the empty space left by the curve of his body. Petting his hair would be far too forward, even if it did look remarkably fluffy, so I kept my hand on his shoulder in a hopefully soothing manner, “It’s okay,” I repeated inanely.

“I don’t know why–this is stupid–I’m sorry. I shouldn’t,” he stammered, but his breathing calmed and his tears stopped and he didn’t make any moves to push me away, so I assumed I was doing something correct.

I hesitated to speak, the only thing on my tongue was yet another rendition of ‘it’s okay’–which was practically useless. “It’s okay to miss your parents,” I said, which was at least more substantial than before, “But you don’t have to feel alone,” which was much better.

“I’m here for you and so are Arthur and Farold and Stephanie. And the rest of the Hufflepuffs will be, too,” I continued, voice becoming less certain, before I gathered myself to reaffirm, “You can cry, there’s nothing wrong with that. And if you need me, I’ll be here.”

I gave a wobbly, helpless smile, which Cedric returned.

Several hours later, in the morning proper, Arthur woke up to find the two of us in symmetric blanket cocoons on Cedric’s bed.

~

A/N: … who are you @cheloneuniverse? What is your methodology for going through my posts? Chronological? By fandom? Do you follow the trail of tags into the rabbit hole?

Well, anyway, thanks for reminding me of this series. And I’m glad you enjoy my writing 🙂

Running Backwards Chapter Five (2015-04-04)

Dumbledore’s speech was as nonsensical and boring as it had been in canon. There hadn’t even been a forbidden third floor mentioned to spice things up. So it was unsurprising that eventually all of the Hufflepuffs around us just tuned him out and waited patiently for the food to appear.

I don’t know what the usual size of the student body is meant to be–Harry’s dorm room had five boys, but as far as I can remember Hermione’s only had three girls. On top of that, were certain houses more populated than others? Were certain years? Regardless, including Arthur, Cedric, and myself,  there were a total of four boys. The other boy that would be our roommate for the next seven years was Farold Stebbins. Except for grimacing when we misunderstood and called him Harold, he was congenial enough. A decent bloke to have as a roommate, but I wasn’t getting the same vibes of potential friendship as I had before with Arthur, Cedric, or Stephanie.

There were five Hufflepuff first year girls, though I only caught two of their names–Margaret Presley, who preferred to go by Maggie, and Heather Jarvis, who seemed to be rather timid when introducing herself then boisterous when talking about Charms.

I knew the wizarding world was larger than what Harry had been exposed to in the books, but I had still assumed that it was a fairly small society. Purebloods knowing each other as children, even half-bloods having recognizable surnames and relations to pureblood families; but this was not the case. I was the only muggleborn in my immediate vicinity–sitting between Arthur and Cedric, across from Maggie, Heather, and Farold–and yet it was the first time anyone met each other.

I suppose this wasn’t something that could be chalked up to Harry’s obliviousness or House-blindness so much as his social circle. Despite the conflicts inherent in their ideology, Harry only interacted with the upper echelons of wizarding society. And I don’t just mean Draco Malfoy or Neville Longbottom or Sirius Black. Despite their financial struggles, the Weasleys were well known and well connected, Shacklebolt was head of the aurors and poised to become the new Minister, Dumbledore’s active, personal interest in Harry gave him an enviable social capital which was superfluous considering his celebrity status. He was networking with highly important people without even knowing it, without even trying–no wonder Slughorn wanted him in the Slug Club.

But I digress. There was more to the wizarding world than what Harry had seen, and it was what I would be part of for the next seven years. The background extras, the silent majority, the sheep. Except for Cedric, who was only important as a teenage martyr, no one in my immediate vicinity would ever be on Harry Potter’s radar. For all I know, I’m canon.

It was a disturbing thought which made me lose my appetite, conveniently after I had finished my meal but sadly before I could partake in the custard in front of me.

“No pudding, Rey?” Arthur asked, reaching over to swipe one of the raspberry tarts before Heather, who had already eaten three, could finish them off. Not that that was a problem, considering the House Elves in the kitchens could easily make more.

“No pudding,” I echoed, swirling my spoon through the dregs of sauce that remained on my plate.

“Not hungry?” This time Cedric asked, his own plate holding a slice of chocolate cake.

“Not hungry,” I echoed, again, before realizing how poor of a conversationalist I was being, “I guess I just ate fast. I’m pretty full already. Kind of sleepy…” I trailed off, wincing. That wasn’t a sterling example of conversation either.

But Maggie picked up my tenuous thread, “Oh, me, too. Today was very exciting but very tiring.” A yawn broke across her face, and she abandoned her fork to prop her elbow on the table and lean her face into her hand.

Like a wave, Heather yawned, then Farold, and on both sides of me I heard my friends yawn. Overwhelmed, I did so too. We blinked sleepily at each other before giggling.

“Looks like it’s bed time for the firsties!” One of the older students called out, not unkindly. Whether it was a signal or not, soon enough we were dismissed from the Great Hall. Following after the Hufflepuff prefects, we made our way to the Hufflepuff dorms–my home for the next seven years of my life.

~
A/N: This is both slower going and faster than I expected. I didn’t think it would take me five “chapters” to not even get to the dorm rooms yet, but I’m also surprised I even wrote five chapters… Usually I write an outline only or one or two chapters and then… just stop. Let’s hope I didn’t jinx myself.

Running Backwards Chapter Four (2015-04-02)

Hogwarts castle is like a geode–the outside is tough, but inside is all vivid colors and mesmerizing shapes. Oh, sure, the stonework outside was the same, but inside is where Hogwarts truly came to life. We could see the staircases moving above us, portraits peeking in curiosity at our little herd. And the ceiling of the Great Hall was literally marvelous.

In a way, being an unsorted Hogwarts student would be the last time all of us were equals. Blood purity, magical versus not childhoods, fore-knowledge of spells–none of that mattered when all of us were gaping at Hogwarts in amazement. Even having watched the movies, I was as unprepared as the next child–who in this case was Cedric, a pureblood–and the one after that, who really was a normal muggleborn.

But soon enough, I felt the eyes of the crowd on us. And while I was one amongst many I couldn’t help but hunch my shoulders and duck close to Cedric who had an unenviable four inches of height on me. I knew it was mostly benign attention and nothing personal, probably wondering how many first years would be sorted into their respective houses, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I stood out I would be hunted.

Which is unfortunate, considering the method of Sorting literally has one called out by name and seated at the front of the hall. So while my fellow first years murmured in shock about the sentience of the Sorting Hat, my head was on a swivel–scanning the rest of the hall and all the very many people in it.

My surname started with C, which meant, probably, I would get it over with early without having to be the dreaded first position. Fortunately there was an “Avery, Cornelius” and a “Burke, Octavia,” ahead of me–the former sorted into Ravenclaw, the latter into Slytherin.

“Chason, Reyniero,” Professor McGonagall called, and I tried not to wince when all eyes turned to me, as predicted. I also tried not to trip as I walked to the stool, but I suppose I can be glad that I managed to catch myself before I fell. I sat, trying to keep my gaze on my new friends instead of staring fearfully at everyone else in the room. Thankfully, the Sorting Hat was placed on my head, the width easily causing it to fall down to my eye level.

My mind was open.

Not that much. You’re surprisingly steady beneath the nerves. Unusual for a child… then again you don’t truly consider yourself as one. Do you?

I didn’t want to respond.

Come now, this is one of the most interesting minds I’ve seen in centuries.

So I didn’t.

You wouldn’t deprive an old hat of a little entertainment. The headmaster’s office gets so boring, and Fawkes is a terrible conversationalist.

Really?

Yes. Though according to your memories, none of this is real.

Was he having an existential crisis during my sorting?

I’m a talking hat, I have other reasons to have existential crises over.

I waited for the hat to get back on topic.

Yes, very well. Muggleborn, oughtn’t put you in Slytherin then, not that you have any cunning or ambition to speak of.

I had kept my past life secret so far, lies of omission counted, right?

Hardly the tools of a master manipulator. And to what end? Not that you want to be in Slytherin.

Of course not.

Nor Gryffindor.

That would have been terrible.

A mind in that noggin of yours, doubly so with that condition. Your head start would help you fit in with Ravenclaw quite nicely.

Were those puns?

Ah, but I see the truth. You want to be in–

“HUFFLEPUFF!”

I guess it seemed like an obvious choice, even if it was one I had made subliminally. Talking to the hat, it didn’t feel like my Sorting had taken that long at all. But when it was pulled off my head, I could see everyone looking mildly to majorly irritated. There was clapping, of course, but as I took my seat at the Hufflepuff table I could hear some older Gryffindors behind me grumbling. Merlin’s balls, a Hatstall that long just for a ‘Puff?

Immediately after me was Cedric who was also sorted into Hufflepuff. I was relieved to find I hadn’t done anything to irrevocably change canon in less than a day. And, funnily enough, following him was Arthur who had also been declared Hufflepuff. As they sat down next to me we grinned and nudged at each other playfully.

Stephanie, after Arthur, I wasn’t surprised to see get sorted into Ravenclaw, though I was a little disappointed. We could still be friends, of course, and judging by her teasing pout she would make it so.

The sorting went on, but I didn’t really care all that much. I recognized some of the Gryffindors–the ones that Harry had bothered to notice–like Angelina Johnson, Lee Jordan, Alicia Spinnet, and the Weasley twins. And the name Adrian Pucey–Slytherin–sounded vaguely familiar. But I was mostly just whiling away my time until finally the last of us, “Yaxley, Mitchell,” had been sorted.

Then, once the tired, impatient applause petered out, Dumbledore stood up.

~

A/N: He’s not really going to say anything important. But it seemed like a good spot to stop as any.

Running Backwards Chapter Three (2015-04-01)

I wouldn’t say we became as thick as thieves right then and there. For one thing, I was still myself–as prone to hesitation as ever–for another, I’ve always found that good friendships, the strong ones that can bear through anything, ought to be built with care and time. What I was feeling was the potential for life-long friendships: I could imagine myself spending the next seven years at Arthur’s side even when he waxed poetic about beetles. I could envision myself reluctantly and bemusedly allowing Stephanie to practice minor spells on me. I could so easily see myself disregarding canon and risking everything so that Cedric wouldn’t be just a killed spare.

I wasn’t at that point yet; but the Triwizard Tournament wouldn’t be until our sixth year. To put it bluntly, I didn’t care that much about him yet. And, to put it even more bluntly, he wasn’t real to me yet. It was easy to like Stephanie and Arthur because they were likable people, but in Cedric’s case… he was still partially a fictional character. Oh, the helpful boy with a soft smile and love for dogs and Quidditch was a person, but Cedric Diggory? Hufflepuff Hogwarts champion? First casualty in the second war against Voldemort? Those were just titles, just symbols, they weren’t tangible like an eleven year old child was. Time would help; maybe in time I would prioritize his life alongside mine, but not yet.

When it was time to change into our uniforms, the compartment across from us had mixed genders too, so Stephanie went across to change with the girls while the two second year boys temporarily joined us. Both of them were Ravenclaws, and had distractedly rambled about their hopes to get on the Quidditch team this year. Cedric, as personable as I’d come to expect, continued the conversation by peppering them with questions, while Arthur, uninterested, and I, inexperienced, just tried to tie our un-sorted black ties properly. When Stephanie came back, she rolled her eyes and fixed the mess we’d made of ourselves.

It was dark by the time the train began to decelerate to a stop. Everyone began disembarking, the return students headed in one direction while the first years followed the sound of what had to be Hagrid’s booming call. The four of us stuck together despite the crush of people, Arthur and Stephanie ahead of me and babbling about different Sorting rumors they’d heard from older relatives. I tried not to shake with nerves, but I probably failed, because Cedric bumped shoulders with me in a companionable gesture, smile comforting.

“I’m just… I mean, I didn’t even know magic was real three months ago and suddenly I’m going to Hogwarts, you know?” I tried to defend myself against a criticism that didn’t come.

Cedric just nodded, “I’ve grown up with magic my whole life so I’ve always known I’d go to Hogwarts one day. It must all be such a rush for you, it’s okay to be a little nervous. I’m a little nervous, too.”

He was just a child. I was the one with an additional twenty odd years of life experience, I should be the one comforting him! But I couldn’t help the rush of sheepish gratitude and smiled back at him.

Obviously it would be us four in one boat. We kept up a steady, distracting conversation after spotting Arthur’s anxious grip on his seat, so it wasn’t until we saw his face open with awe that three of us looked up to see the Hogwarts castle. It was beautiful.

It was also… formidable. This was a structure that not only stood the test of magic, but of time. It was a building that had outlasted it’s founders, that could very well outlast every single one of it’s occupants. While the Hogwarts Express had been like something out of a child’s daydream, the castle was unmistakable as a cumulation of the ambition, ingenuity, and hard work of fully grown wizards and witches.

All of our faces were turned upwards as we approached the doors, trying to soak in the sight of our new home. Professor McGonagall waited for us, acknowledging Hagrid briefly before ushering us all inside.

~
A/N: I honestly did want to get to the Sorting… buuut, I wanted to post this already. 😛 NEXT TIME!

Running Backwards Chapter Two (2015-03-31)

I was going to vomit. Okay, no. I wasn’t really going to. But it felt like it. Don’t get me wrong, I was still as happy as ever to be going to Hogwarts. But nerves twisted up inside me, a dark knot in my chest and a sharp tangle in my throat. Hogwarts was magic and magic was amazing; but magic was also dangerous. Magic meant logic didn’t work, meant horrors beyond the laws of physics. Magic meant my two decades of experience in another life wasn’t enough of a safety net, and the fall would be so much worse than not getting perfect marks on a primary school math exam.

But surely it meant something? Maybe… maybe the reason why I remembered my past life is because of magic. Maybe that was my accidental magic–because I don’t remember doing anything else fantastical, but I had been a pretty mellow child. And surely my karma was still decent enough, right?

Second-guessing would get me nowhere. And, at the very least, I had two years before things started getting weird. Moreover, Harry’s first three years had been dangerous for him but for everyone else it had been… well, not safe–considering the troll and the basilisk and the dementors–but survivable. And survivable was good enough for me. As long as I didn’t do anything over wrong, or interfere with canon, I would survive.

It’s these kinds of thoughts that make me nauseated.

My mum was the one to bring me to King’s Cross–it was only fair, since she couldn’t go to the Diagon Alley trip, and my father had to begin preparations for his actual students–and followed after me with a quiet, amused smile. Which quickly slid into shock as I forcefully shoved my luggage cart at what she thought was a normal stone pillar, only for it and me to disappear through to platform 9¾. She composed herself quickly enough, because in the half-minute it took her to join me she was back to her normal calm smile.

The Hogwarts Express really was beautiful–a gleaming red which brought to mind candy apples and Christmas, all childhood nostalgia and warm glows. Families were bustling around saying their goodbyes, some returning students meeting with their friends. There were so many people and so many voices and it was too much. Suddenly, I felt my physical age too keenly–I was an eleven year old leaving home for an extended period of time. My confidence faded and I turned to cling to my mum, face pressed into the soft cotton of her dress.

She threaded her fingers through my hair soothingly. Another woman nearby spotted us and cooed, “First year? Some of them get like that, it’s perfectly normal. Soon enough they’ll be dashing away as quick as they can. My eldest is in her third year already, she’s already gotten on the train. This here is Arthur, it’s his first year too.” The woman gestured to the boy next to her, dark skin lightly flushed with embarrassment. I couldn’t help but match it, since my clinginess was literal and, thus, worse.

“This is Rey. This shyness is a surprise to me, he was practically bouncing off the walls to get here,” My mum responded for me, and immediately my preemptive homesickness was cured. Arthur and I met each other’s eyes and in that moment, powered by shared mortification, we became friends without saying a word to each other.

“Okay, mum! Rey and I are going to go on the train now.” Arthur blurted, beginning to push his cart towards the boarding areas.

“Bye, mum,” I murmured with one last hug before trotting after Arthur, thankful for the escape. When I caught up to him, I couldn’t help but sheepishly introduce myself, “So… I’m Rey Chason. Rey is short for Reyniero. Uh. I was just a little overwhelmed, you know? I’m a muggleborn so it’s my first time seeing everything.”

Arthur snorted good-naturedly, “I’m Arthur Ellis. The platform stops being so exciting when you’re dragged along to drop off your sister. I guess it’s just weird to be boarding the train for once, instead of just watching it leave.”

We helped lift each others’ trunks onto the train, exchanging small talk all the while. He was a halfblood and wanted to know what it was like growing up in the muggle world, and vice versa for me. It was a little difficult since, without knowing what to ask, we were mostly exchanging random tidbits about our lives, but it was nice. Looking for a compartment wasn’t too difficult, though we did avoid the ones that already had groups of older students. We finally happened on one that only had two other kids who were either our age or not much older than us.

The boy was the one to offer us seats when we poked our heads in, even getting up to help us with our trunks, which was awfully nice of him. The girl asked us for our names, a little blunt but not unkind. We answered, repeating the usual light introductions to our fellow passengers.

“And you?” Arthur asked, in turn.

“We’re both first years, though we both grew up in the same village so we already know each other. I’m Stephanie Fawcett,” she said with a sharp grin and a toss of her hair.

The boy’s smile was much softer, but just as bright. With how friendly both of them were, it looked like this would be a pleasant, relaxing trip. That is, until he said, “I’m Cedric Diggory,”

Damn it. So much for not interfering.

~

A/N: I guess I didn’t get to Hogwarts yet. And yes, now OC has a name! Reyniero Chason. Also, Arthur Ellis is based on this random video game character. S. Fawcett is mentioned in the books as also having grown up in Ottery St Catchpole like Cedric. I chose Stephanie because… uh, the theme is royalty. That is, Reyniero means “ruler’s advisor” and Arthur and Cedric are names of historical(/mythical) kings. Stephanie means crown.

Untitled HufflepuffOC brainstorm (2015-03-21)

I want to write a story. And I’m not even sure if it’s a self-insert or not, but I want to write a story about an OC Hufflepuff boy Cedric’s age. And he’s sarcastic and funny and a little crude. “We’re Hufflepuffs, man, loyalty and all that utter shite. You’re stuck with me forever,” and he’s Cedric’s best friend because he’s the only one who won’t put up with his stupid–I’m a nice person and so perfect and my father’s heir–thing. And during the Triwizard tournament (is Cedric sixth year or seventh year then?) he’s pretty much the only Hufflepuff not to think Harry Potter is a glory-seeking hound. I mean, he’s a little annoyed that Gryffindor’s trying to usurp Hufflepuff again, but he doesn’t think it’s Harry’s fault. And plus, he’s just a kid, a kid who has had all sorts of terrible shit happen to him. It’s not his fault.

OC Hufflepuff is probably a muggleborn, or a half-blood, regardless of if he’s a self-insert or not. I use “self-insert” perhaps a little incorrectly, but “someone from our world” is a rather wordy. So he has a lot in common with both of the muggle-raised Hermione and Harry. Which helps when his standing up for Harry temporarily puts him on the outs not only with his best friend but with the rest of Hufflepuff. And at first they’re a little suspicious of him too, but, well. The more the merrier. And he maybe sort of falls for Hermione. Like, when Cedric and he finally reconcile it’s something he bemoans. Which Cedric doesn’t really get, because, “She’s a fourth year, mate. It’s a bit weird.” And he goes, “Bugger off, Diggory, she could probably be the youngest Minister of Magic if she wanted and since I don’t have a certain someone’s pretty boy looks I have to make sure I’m worthy to be her trophy husband in some other way… Maybe I should learn how to bake.”

Except maybe Cedric does get it because, “I can’t like him. He’s a fourth year. And a boy.” Oh, be still my inner CedricxHarry shipper heart. And OC’s just like, “The only thing wrong about it is that I’m pretty sure you’ve only said like… ten words to him. You should probably fix that.”

And if it is a self-insert, well. Muggleborn, that way OC can’t know for sure what’s happening until he turns eleven. And so let’s say Cedric is only two years older, well OC isn’t amazing, doesn’t have any special powers, only has moderate magical abilities and no protagonist luck like the Golden Trio seem to do. He doesn’t want to change the world, really. He just wants to make sure his best friend lives. Because Hufflepuff loyalty and all that shite, his best friend isn’t going to be casualty number one in a war.

I guess it’s just something that struck me as particularly feasible? Because for the first eleven years of OC’s life he probably just thinks he’s been regularly reincarnated… back in time. Because JK Rowling didn’t publish the first book until 1997 which is, you know, basically completely after the events of the books. So OC doesn’t think it’s weird that they don’t exist… uuuntil he gets a certain letter.  And, because of that–because he wasn’t expecting to be in the HP series, he didn’t make plans to change the world. So… I guess as an overarching issue, OC has given up on making the world a better place even before he tries?

If I do actually want to get him involved in the main plot outside of the GoF mess, though, I guess he takes Divination and cheats with his book-knowledge, but then Dumbledore takes notice and is like “Finally, a reliable seer.”

I dunno what else, though.

[EDIT: I’ve written a prequel! Also, this is titled Running Backwards]