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Alyssa Hoofer

A hurtful letter

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Alyssa Hoofer

Alyssa felt devastated as she walked to the lake with a letter in her hand. Ever since she’d started school, she’d been writing home to as many of her friends or family members as she could. She wanted them to know how school was going. They’d all told her told to write to her and tell her how school was going. Clarissa, her best friend, in particular, wanted to know about her schooling the most out of any of them. She’d told Alyssa to write as much as she could so that it would feel like they were together.

 

Clarissa was usually a nice sweet girl, but when she was angry, she spoke her mind. Clearly, she was upset with Alyssa for being at Hogwarts when she wasn’t. Alyssa knew she’d been upset that she couldn’t go as well. Unfortunately, Clarissa’s birthday was in October, so that meant she missed the September first cut-off date. All summer when they hung out, it was all her friend would complain about, but Alyssa didn’t know that Clarissa resented her for being able to go. Sure it wasn’t fair, but how was it fair for the girl to make Alyssa feel guilty?

 

It wasn’t fair. She shouldn’t have to wait a year just because Clarissa had to. Her birthday was in February, so she’d been more than ready to go to school. Why should she miss out on her opportunity just because her friend couldn’t go? Now Clarissa was saying that she should be at home with her. She was saying that Alyssa should write to her parents and have them demand for her to go to school, and if she didn’t, well that meant Alyssa was a horrible friend.

 

She didn’t even know how her parents were supposed to get Clarissa into school anyway. It wasn’t as if the Hoofers were influential or anything. Sure, they had a lot of money but that was it. As Alyssa thought of this, it dawned on her what her best friend wanted. It wasn’t the first time it had come up after all. Clarissa always assumed that since they had money, they should bribe people to get their own way. This had always bothered Alyssa, and it was because of Clarissa that people assumed that she was spoiled. Alyssa had never ever used her parent's money to get her own way. She wasn’t like that and it hurt that her best friend thought that she could use their money that way just because they were her godparents.

 

Clarissa was a great girl for the most part. She was nice to people, but she was also a very demanding girl who hated it when she didn’t get her own way. She did whatever it took to get her own way, and she didn’t care who she hurt. At the moment, she had hurt Alyssa deeply.

 

Alyssa pushed her dark hair from her face and sat down once she was near the lake. It was hard to hold in her sobs. Her friend could be so mean and spiteful sometimes. The letter dropped from her hand as she hugged her knees and then rested her head on her knees where she really let go.

 

To see Clarissa’s letter go here: Letter  second post.

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Zsuzsanna E. Maverick

It was absolutely gorgeous outside, and Zsu hated that she had to spend the large half of her day indoors. She absolutely loved the library, in fact it was probably one of her favorite places, but she had taken to love taking her tomes and books outdoors and spreading herself out on the lawn. It was a privilege and a luxury she’d never really been afforded before, and now that it was within her grasp she indulged every moment that she could. Today, however, she had been caught up with trying to help a Ravenclaw out with an essay that seemed to be looming over his head. Zsu was much younger, but her love for knowledge far succeeded her age.

 

So for three hours she had patiently sat in the library, shoulder pressed gently against the older boy’s arm as they poured through texts and she broke the more intricate things into something much simpler. Their session was only supposed to last for thirty minutes, but there was no way the Hufflepuff could leave having glimpsed the quick flash of panic that that zipped across the boy’s face. She’d never intentionally leave anyone behind, so she had simply smiled and flipped to the next page, politely ignoring the inquiries tossed her way about what exactly she thought she was doing.

 

When the first beams of sunlight touched her skin, she closed her eyes and paused for a moment, basking in the Sun unapologetically. It was always refreshing to her, the fragrance of the air, the weight of it all fading into nothing more than wisps of smoke that eventually were whisked away by the breeze. Zsu loved being outdoors, and she loved it more so here at Hogwarts because everything was simply brimming with magic and had such a gorgeous, lush glow. When her eyes slipped open, she exhaled, making her way from the shade of the school and truly out into the open.

 

A few steps in she noticed someone huddled by the edge of the lake, just a few meters away from her usual spot. Zsu hummed low in her throat as she continued on, realizing it was Alyssa as she got closer. The exuberant smile that she had upon her face died away when the sobs drifted into her ears. Why was her friend crying? What had happened? She briskly covered the rest of the distance, discarding the books in her hands in a heap behind her as she dropped to her knees. “Alyssa?” Her voice was soft as she wrapped her arms around her fellow Hufflepuff, squeezing the girl gently, “What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

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Alyssa Hoofer

Alyssa who was crying hard was surprised to feel arms wrapped around her, and a familiar voice. She didn’t even have to look to see who it was. She felt some comfort knowing that she had a true friend who could seek her out in her time of need. Sniffling, she lifted her head from her knees and then wiped her eyes with her sleeve, and as disgusting as it was, she rubbed her nose on her sleeve as well. She had nothing else, however.

 

“Sorry about that,” Alyssa said as she glanced at her sleeve wishing she knew the cleaning spell.

 

She tried to get a hold of herself so she could tell Zsu what was wrong. She took a few breaths and then waved a hand at the letter that was still on the ground. She didn’t mind if Zsu read it or not. She was her friend after all.

 

“My friend from home, Clarissa,” she finally responded once she could speak again. “She’s just so angry because she couldn’t come to Hogwarts too. Her birthday is in October, so she missed the cut-off date. When things don’t go her way, she is very mean and spiteful. She told me I’m a horrible friend for being here, and that I should get my parents to help get her in,” and then she hesitated.

 

It was weeks into the school year now, and she still hadn’t told Gracie-Mae or Zsu the secret she was keeping from everyone. She’d come close a couple of times, but she always stopped herself. By this point, she trusted them both, but now it was because she worried that they’d judge her for not telling them. She was doing so much to make sure that no one found out.

 

“Okay,” she said as she wiped her eyes again, as tears were still leaking out.

 

She was sure she didn’t look too good. She was one of those people that were ugly criers. She’d been sobbing quite hard. Zsu’s arms were still around her, and it was this that helped her continue. She was sure her friend would understand.

 

“I haven’t told anyone this, and I’d like for it to stay a secret. I’ll tell Gracie-Mae soon too. Only you two can know,” she said. “This is a good time as any to tell you because this letter ties into it, and why Clarissa thinks my parents can get her in,” she said and then sighed. “We’re… well, we are rich. I mean, very, very rich. I dunno even how much but it’s in the high millions. I was so worried that people at Hogwarts would think I was some spoiled rich kid, or they’d just befriend me for my money. So I’ve just been doing what I can to hide it,” and then she waved at her second-hand bag sitting beside her that needed constant mending. “I’ve meant to tell you and Gracie-Mae, but then I worried you two would be upset I kept the secret from you. I mean, you two accepted me the moment we met on the train so I should have told you.”

 

She glanced at Zsu wondering what she was thinking. Were her feelings hurt? She doubted Zsu would be too judgemental as the other girl rarely judged people. She was one of those people who could see the good in anyone. She saw the good in that Ravenclaw boy after all. It was why she liked Zsu so much. She was such a nice girl, and she felt lucky to have her as a friend. Both her and Gracie-Mae were breaths of fresh air compared to Clarissa in fact.

 

“Clarissa lives next door. Her parents make what mum calls a modest income. So they just live in an average house, but she obviously knows we are rich. Anyway, my parents are also her godparents, and she thinks I should convince them to bribe the school to let her in. She’s actually the reason I hide it because she acts like a spoiled brat for me. I’ve never used our money to get my way, but Clarissa tries,” Alyssa explained. “She doesn’t say it in her letter, but I know her well enough that it’s what she is implying. And she has done it in the past,” Alyssa finished. “It’s why I am so upset. We’ve been friends since she was born, and she’s always been a bit demanding but this is the worst thing she’s ever done.”

 

Alyssa sighed. It was hard to explain Clarissa because she could be sweet when she wanted to be, but she could also be really, really mean. The letter proved that. She waited to see what Zsu had to say to her long revelation.

Edited by Alyssa Hoofer

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Zsuzsanna E. Maverick

Zsu squeezed her friend gently when she apologized for trying to get herself together, forgoing speaking for listening. She didn’t like it, seeing her friends upset and crying even though she was sure they probably hated it more than she did. The Hufflepuff encouraged others to show their feelings in the ways most productive to themselves, and while seeing the mournful, hurt tears of others stirred something within her, she’d never voice or discourage it. It wasn’t in her nature, and she never intended for it to be.

 

When Alyssa motioned towards the letter that was on the ground, Zsu’s eyes flashed towards it briefly. She wasn’t curious about its contents, not really, but she supposed she’d need to read it to really grasp the situation to provide the best comfort that she could. Still, it could wait. Listening was her priority, and she remained still save for the small squeezes here and there to encourage her friend to continue on with whatever she wanted to disclose. She settled behind her fellow Hufflepuff, wanting to get as comfortable as she could so that time would not be a factor unless Alyssa wanted it to be.

 

She kept her face calm, resting her chin upon her year mate’s shoulder as the girl detailed what was in the letter and then into something that seemed even more personal. Zsu nodded her head and whispered ‘I promise’ to coax the girl to continue on. The Hufflepuff would never make a promise she was not completely certain that she could keep, and on the rare occasion that she did make one, she’d die before she ever broke it. And that was something she certainly meant.

 

When Alyssa began to disclose her secret, Zsu honestly didn’t have any true thoughts regarding it. She didn’t care about money, she’d never cared about money, but the fact that her friend had thought to keep it to herself seemed justifiable. She’d experienced the influences of money, the power and ideas people channeled into it to warp it into more than what it was meant to be. When Alyssa paused, she took the moment to unravel herself from her friend, neatly moving to sit beside her fellow Hufflepuff before wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close.

 

Patience was something she’d now had plenty of, so she would wait until her friend had finished before giving her own thoughts. Zsu didn’t know Clarissa, and could only go by what Alyssa had given her. Once her friend was finished, she picked up the letter that seemed to have started it all and began to read it. Slowly, thoroughly, and with a completely blank slate to ensure that she could completely get the jest of what the writer was trying to convey. Her initial thought was that it was nasty, and as she reread it twice and then thrice, she could not truly shake the feeling. She hummed low in her throat as she folded the letter and slipped it back into the envelope.

 

“Alyssa,” Her voice was soft, expression neutral, “because I do not know Clarissa as you do, my opinion may seem a bit bias, and for that I apologize. But I cannot apologize for how I feel and for the words that I am about to say because they are true to me.” Zsu looked at her friend, trying to catch her eye, “That letter was intentionally malicious, and it hurt you. I don’t like to waste words, as I feel each one is important even when it seems I’m rambling, and so I do not believe that people mistakenly say things. She is your best friend, so she knew what words to say to get what she intended.”

 

Zsu paused, entwining her hand with her friends and squeezing it, “I don’t care about anything other than who you are and how you feel. And I know that isn’t really how the world and society work, that I’m a bit unrealistic sometimes, but I don’t ever want to change how I feel and what I think because I like me. And I want you to be comfortable in yourself regardless of what others around you think so that you like and love yourself. I..” She drifted off, worrying her bottom lip before exhaling, “am homeless. Or I was, really, and have been all my life. If not for the fact that we were temporarily in a boarding house, I’d never have received my acceptance letter.” She laughed to herself, bumping her shoulder against Alyssa’s.

 

“You’re the only one that I’ve told, although I do plan to tell Gracie-Mae because I don’t want to keep secrets from either of you if it can be helped. I know that Clarissa is your best friend, and I respect that and the fact that I am on the outside looking in, that I don’t honestly know her or her heart. But that doesn’t excuse what she said, or the selfishness that she’s displayed. You’re wonderful Alyssa, so I can understand that she’d want to be with you,” She slanted her eyes and threw her friend a smile, “but that doesn’t excuse her behavior at all. I think you should respond and tell her how you truly feel, how her letter and words affected you, and if you choose to do so –forgive her.”

 

Zsu went quiet then, wanting to give Alyssa time to digest what she’d just said, letting her eyes drift across the lake.

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Alyssa Hoofer

Alyssa felt comforted by Zsu instantly, but she also felt really guilty as well. Her problems seemed so small compared to her friends, and though she and Clarissa would likely make up. She would probably forever feel a bit of a grudge against her friend. Being at Hogwarts and meeting new people, such as Zsu and Gracie-Mae had opened her eyes a bit when it came to her life-long friend. That wasn’t to say that Clarissa couldn’t be a good person, but that part of her had been going away for the last few years. Clarissa had always been demanding, but it was getting unbearable lately.

 

Here Zsu was accepting Alyssa for keeping her wealth a secret, and yet her life was harder than anything Alyssa had been through. She’d been homeless, and Alyssa was hiding from her classmates that her family was very wealthy. At the moment, she wanted to write home to her parents and ask them if her friend could move in with them. In fact, her mother would actually insist on it if she ever found out. Her mother was always such a generous person, but that was because she had grown up very poor.

 

“Thank you for your kind words,” Alyssa finally said to Zsu. “You really are a great friend, and I am so glad I chose that compartment on the train. I wasn’t sure where to sit, and I’m just relieved I picked the right compartment. You’ve been in my life for only a month or so, and yet you’ve shown me more kindness than my lifelong friend has,” and then she sighed. “Clarissa has always been like this. She was never this bad, it’s gotten worse the last few years but she’s always been very demanding and she hates it when things don’t go her own way. I also know it’s not just personal against me. Her mother is my godmother and so we write to each other too. Clarissa has been stressing her out about this so much, and she’s six months pregnant. I’m not sure what has happened with my friend, and if it’s just because she wants to be with me, or if it’s what Cameron tells me and that it’s just envy because she wants my life. Cameron told me she’s angry about our wealth and the fact that I’m at Hogwarts.”

 

Alyssa leaned over to give Zsu a tight hug. Here she was still telling her all her problems and yet she hadn’t addressed Zsu’s yet and she wanted to help her so much.

 

“I hope you don’t take this the wrong way,” Alyssa began. The last thing she wanted was for her friend to think she pitied her. “Because I only mean this out of kindness but if you ever need somewhere to stay, you’re welcome to stay with us. I don’t even have to ask my parents if that would be okay because they would insist if they ever knew. Mum has always been so generous, and we’ve even had a few family friends stay with us when they had to. We’ve got so many rooms we don’t use. My parents actually wanted a big family, but mum couldn't have more kids after Hailey. Something happened, and she can't get pregnant anymore.  My mum grew up very poor. Her mum, my grandmother was a single mum with three kids to raise. Mum always does what she can to help people out for that reason. She’s one of the most generous people I know, but so is dad. They donate money often. So if there is ever a time that you don’t have anywhere to go, I want you to tell me. You won’t be imposing us or anything. Believe me when I say that. I think mum would be disappointed if I didn’t offer you.”

 

And she hated to think that her friend didn’t have a home. It really broke her heart and she wanted to cry again but for another reason. It just didn’t seem right that her sweet friend had spent her childhood without somewhere permanent to stay, and what got to her the most was that Zsu was okay with this, or at least she seemed okay with it.

 

“You have a beautiful soul, you know that?” Alyssa asked her. “You really do. I’m complaining about a mean letter my friend sent me, and I’m hiding my money from everyone and you-” and she choked on a sob. “Well, I have had a lucky life compared to you. I really do hope you take me up on my offer if you have to, and I’ll never tell anyone your secret.”

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Zsuzsanna E. Maverick

Zsu did not press her friend when the silence began to stretch, as she knew that sometimes people needed to take moments to themselves to not only process how they feel, but why they may feel. So she watched as the Sun glittered across the lake, the path seeming to stretch farther than her eyes could see into an eternity, though she knew it was not true. She had only months ago ridden across the lake to get here, so she knew that it had a beginning and an end, or at least she thought she did. She could not say with confidence she knew just how deep the lake went, and when the Sun was lost to the dark abyss beneath, if there were any other passages that led to another source of water. It did house a giant squid after all.

 

When Alyssa did begin to speak, Zsu was transported from her thoughts back to the present. Softening her gaze as she listened to her friend, brushing their shoulders together to allow her fellow Hufflepuff to know she was there. “You are dear to me, and you allow me to be the type of friend that I am.” She was so sorry that her friend had to deal with what Zsu had thought to be an adult problem, but really perhaps it wasn’t. They were eleven, still so young, yet here was this bite of reality craving a taste of childish hopes, dreams, and wishes. “I believe that every single person we encounter is there to help shape us in some way, shape, or form. Regardless of how long they may or may not be present, they influence us and help us make decisions on who we are and who we want to be. Clarissa was put into your life to serve a purpose, and perhaps right now that the purpose is to be revealed –but it is really up to you to make of that purpose what you will.”

 

Zsu did not want to fathom anyone intentionally putting undue stress on their mother, especially one that was expecting. She did not want to connect the dots that perhaps Clarissa had her own issues trying to express herself, and so they translated in a way that made sure she surrounded herself with others that would allow her to trespass upon them. “As your friend, I will say that I think your kind heart has helped Clarissa to cement an idea that you will bend to her will always. That you owe her for having a life and wanting to share it with her, but in this one instance you have chosen for yourself instead. She is spoilt, by the selflessness of those around her, and it has allowed her own selfishness to strengthen and balloon.”

 

When Zsu felt arms envelop her, she leaned into the touch, having always loved contact comfort. At the start of her friend’s statement, the Hufflepuff had thought to interrupt, but instead she remained silent to listen. There was no harm in listening, no foul to be had when you knew the honesty of the words being spoken, and the warmth of the place they were being spoken from. She closed her eyes, leaning her head against Alyssa’s as she thought of what she wanted to say. “There is nothing you could ever say to me that I would take in the wrong way Alyssa.” And she most certainly meant that.

 

She entwined their hands and sat up as she heard the crack in her friend’s voice, her expression becoming sympathetic as she watched the emotions flitter across her fellow Hufflepuff’s face. “No, you have a beautiful soul. You are shedding tears for someone else when your heart has just been dealt a blow. You’re offering someone else a place to lay their head and putting yourself at risk to being taken advantage of despite the fact that you’re currently dealing with someone who has been doing just that.” Forever. Zsu paused, squeezing Alyssa’s hand gently but firmly, wanting to drive her point so that it booked no arguments, “Do not ever discount anything that you feel or has happened to you because they are so very important to you. Our lives have intersected, and for that I’ll always be thankful regardless of it if is so only a semester or for decades to come, but our lives –our experiences and the way that we interpret them? They’ll always be different, even if those differences are subtle.

 

“I appreciate your offer, and you may certainly not take it back now that you’ve said it.” She waggled her brows playfully before once again resting her head against Alyssa’s, this time her voice lowering in octave, “But please do not worry about the past, which none can ever change. I would not be who I am today, would not have likely been the person whose friendship you would have so easily accepted and be sitting here sharing secrets with. It literally is everything that I am, and I am grateful for every awful thing just as much as I am for every beautiful thing. I told you because I trust that no matter what, you’ll know that I care more about you, and our present, and our future than I do anything else. You are my friend, quickly becoming one of my best friends, and our roles could be switched or equal and I would not feel any less than I do at this moment.”

 

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Gracie-Mae Goodwin

As much as Gracie-Mae loved dueling, there was just one tiny problem with it - well, maybe it was more than just a tiny problem. Dueling was purely an indoor sport, at least as far as Gracie-Mae knew. And while she still loved it as a sport nevertheless, she missed spending time outdoors. Before Hogwarts, she'd spent a lot of time outside, and since arriving at the school she'd spent most of her time inside the castle's walls. Even though the views from Gryffindor Tower were fantastic, Gracie-Mae still missed actually being outside. 

 

Though the castle was wonderful and held many opportunities for adventure, Gracie-Mae was beginning to feel restless in it, as if she'd been cooped up inside for too long. She hadn't thought that she'd feel like this about such a magical place, but apparently even magic did not interfere with her yearning to feel the sun on her face and the wind in her hair.

 

She was pleased to be able to find her way out of the castle without event, and happier still to discover that the grounds were a wonderful place to stretch her legs when she didn't have anywhere else to be or anything else to do. She'd frolicked around them for some time, running from here to there to investigate interesting landmarks and bits of nature that she encountered. 

 

It was only once Gracie-Mae begun to tire that she approached the lake. She was tempted to swim in it, but a little apprehensive considering the rumors she'd heard about a giant squid. She figured she'd decide when she got closer. Or maybe someone nearby would know? 

 

She began to look around in search of a knowledgeable person when instead she caught sight of two of her friends. They were a short distance away, so Gracie-Mae yelled happily to them to get their attention. "Alyssa! Zsu!" she called out before running over to them. 

 

It was only once Gracie-Mae skidded to a stop and slid down to sit next to the pair that it occurred to her that she might have interrupted something. Gracie-Mae had accepted that her fellow members of the Terrific Trinity were probably closer to each other than she was to either of them - they lived together, so what else was she to expect? But she just now wondered if she ought not to have approached, if they had perhaps been on their own for a reason.

 

"How are you? What'cha doing? I can go if you're busy with Hufflepuff things, it's okay!"

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Alyssa Hoofer

 

“Like I ever would,” Alyssa said in response to Zsu when she told her she couldn’t take it back.

 

Alyssa had listened to everything said Zsu with a small smile on her face. She loved the fact that Zsu was starting to consider her as a best friend because she felt the same way too about her and Gracie-Mae. A year ago, she would not have guessed she’d meet more best friends, and yet she had. She’d planned to wait a while before finally revealing her secret, but she’d told Zsu, and she was going to tell Gracie-Mae. She’d let Zsu read her mail, and she was usually a private person. In fact, she usually wouldn’t even let Clarissa read certain letters. If it had been Clarissa out here with her instead, she wouldn’t have allowed her to read the contents of the letter because her friend would likely scoff or something.

 

What could this possibly all mean? Clarissa had been in her life since they were babies. They’d become friends by circumstance since their parents were best friends. Sure, they’d had their good times together and Clarissa knew a lot about her, but that came from growing up next door to each other. Would she ever be able to tell her friend about her first crush, or her kiss, or any other serious thing? She didn’t know for sure and yet she knew without a doubt she could Zsu or Gracie-Mae. What would happen to her friendship with Clarissa eventually? She was angry with her at the moment, but she wasn’t ready to end the friendship, even if she was fed up with her. Yet, if the two of them hadn’t met through their parents, they would not be friends.

 

Everything that Zsu said to her sounded like grown-up things. Alyssa assumed that her circumstances likely had matured her quite a bit. She was probably more grown up than Alyssa was, and she was certainly a lot more grown-up than Clarissa.

 

“I’m starting to feel the same about you too,” Alyssa told her. “It’s why I let you read the letter. I don’t trust people easily, and yet I trust both you and Gracie-Mae without question now. It’s why I should have told you both the truth, but now you do know. From now on, I am not keeping secrets from either one of you. I hope both of you are in my future. I hope all three of us are still the Terrific Trinity in seventh year.”

 

And as if her thoughts had summoned Gracie-Mae, she heard her familiar voice. Startled she turned to see her standing there. The moment she asked if she asked if she should go, Alyssa began shaking her head.

 

“No, please don’t go. Sit down with us,” she said. “I was out here because Clarissa sent me this really spiteful letter and it upset me. Zsu found me and she was comforting me,” she explained as Gracie-Mae some things about Clarissa, and she held out the envelope without hesitation to Gracie-Mae. She trusted her. “I’ve-, well I’ve been keeping a secret from both you and Zsu and I just told her. It’s only fair to tell you too. That letter has to do with my secret,” and then she took a deep breath. She would give her a quick summary at the moment, for she felt they had plenty of time to talk, and well, they really did, years in fact. “My family is very wealthy, but I’ve done everything to hide it because I was worried people at Hogwarts would see me as some spoiled rich girl, or they’d befriend me for my money or something. Clarissa basically wants to take advantage of that,” and then she glanced at Zsu and then looked at Gracie-Mae again. “I should have told you sooner though. Both of you know me better than that, and you accepted me right away on the train.”

 

She wiped the remaining tears from her face. She wasn’t going to shed another tear over the letter. That was for sure. At the moment, she felt good because her two Hogwarts friends with her. Gracie-Mae had been there for her after her bad day of school, and now Zsu was. Chances are, both of them would be again in the future as she would be for them.

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Zsuzsanna E. Maverick

It was nice knowing that someone also felt as she did.

 

More than nice, actually, and Zsu hoped with everything that it would remain so, that this friendship would unfurl and blossom into something far more gorgeous than the florae of the Amazon. Before Hogwarts, before the faithful day when she was able to glimpse a bit of magic and was told that she was a witchling, all she had had was her family. There were no scribbled secrets passed between desks, no giggles entangling in the air over lunch, no shared glances that spoke volumes despite the silence. She’d been alone, completely on the outside despite all of the hours she was shrouded with others. She hadn’t been lonely though, and she hadn’t thought much of it really until she’d overheard her parents murmuring about it in the early hours of the morning.

 

So when the Hufflepuff had been invited to Hogwarts, she had decided that she would try her best to build relationships so that her parents wouldn’t worry over her. It had been rather tense when she’d been given her invitation, and although she knew the arguments were always done when she was off attending class, the harshness that was still within the lines of her family’s faces when she saw them did not escape her. They did not mean to be deceptive, with their smiles and their hugs, but she’d always been eerily observant, and she’d yet to meet anyone that could successfully pull the wool over her eyes. She wanted them to be proud, wanted them to be confident in their decision to let her go off and indulge in what she knew they thought was sheer childish whims. The Mavericks did not believe in magic or mythical creatures, but they believed in Zsu and her ideas and dreams and feelings, and they had set her free.

 

The sound of Alyssa’s voice pulled her from her thoughts, and she smiled softly because now was not the time to linger on the past –had she not just told her friend that mere moments ago?

 

“I would like to think we’ll still be Terrific Trinity even after seventh year.” She laughed, eyes nearly disappearing, “Regardless of where we all end up, I think we’ll still be connected someway, somehow.” When she heard Gracie-Mae, she turned and smiled up at the Gryffindor. Alyssa didn’t waste any time assuring their friend that there weren’t any interruptions, and Zsu remained quiet as the words began to waft around the air. There wasn’t any concern that Gracie-Mae would respond negatively, and Zsu wondered if it was fair for her to assume that she knew the other girl well enough to feel confident about that. Their vibe just seemed so natural, and each girl complemented the other in a way that the Hufflepuff couldn’t help but feel made them synched.

 

Well, that didn’t sound nearly as silly as she originally had thought.

 

Her eyes drifted away briefly, wanting to allow her fellow Hufflepuff time to get all of her thoughts and concerns into the open air. Alyssa had already confided in her, and so Zsu wanted to be respectful and allow Gracie-Mae to have the same privilege. She watched as the Sun glinted off the lake, the waters still and calm without a ripple to be seen. She watched as the line of the Forbidden Forest swayed, although she was certain no breeze had passed by them, her curiosity slowly stirring. How long had it been since she’d gone close to it? She wasn’t sure, and really she’d yet to find the lure that most of her classmates had.

 

When her ears no longer registered talking, Zsu returned her attention to either girl. She reached out and gave a gentle squeeze to Alyssa before reaching up with her free hand to take Gracie-Mae’s as well. “Well,” she started, a smile pulling at her lips as her eyes twinkled up at the Gryffindor, “it must once more be fate that you’ve come along Gracie-Mae. Alyssa and I had already confirmed we’d confide in you, and here you are. Although mine pales in comparison, I’m homeless. I’ve always been homeless, though now I’ve found a home here at Hogwarts with you both.”

 

That felt certain, solid even, and the sudden weightlessness she felt did not escape her.

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Gracie-Mae Goodwin

No sooner had Gracie-Mae voiced her worry that she'd intruded, than did Alyssa ask her not to leave. Gracie-Mae smiled - not her usual over-eager smile, but a softer one. Even though she respected her friends, and even though she would've been happy to leave them be if this wasn't a good time for her to drop in on whatever it was they'd been doing, Gracie-Mae was relieved that they hadn't asked her to go. A small part of her had feared that she mightn't have been as important to them anymore, not now that they lived in same dorm without her. It would be only natural if they grew closer and forgot about her, wouldn't it? 

 

But they hadn't and she smiled gratefully at both girls, her heart full of warmth. This lasted but a moment, for soon it turned out that their gathering was not a joyous one. At the mention of Clarissa, Gracie-Mae's smile flipped into a frown. She took the envelope as offered, but didn't immediately open it, instead listening to Alyssa as she continued to talk. 

 

She would never have guessed that Alyssa had kept a secret from her, and at first Gracie-Mae was speechless. Gracie-Mae would never have dreamed of keeping a secret from her friends, but then again she didn't have any secrets like Alyssa's to keep. If the roles had been reversed, Gracie-Mae liked to think she wouldn't have kept secrets - she was determined to be who she was regardless of consequences. She didn't want to hide anything and she didn't think she could've if she tried.

 

For just a moment, she felt a flicker of betrayal that her friend had not been open with her, but then her thoughts caught up with her emotions. Alyssa was one of the nicest people Gracie-Mae had ever met. She wouldn't have kept a secret without a very good reason. Gracie-Mae didn't know what Alyssa's experiences had been like growing up before Hogwarts. She could only imagine what it must've been like, and therefore she couldn't understand it entirely. 

 

"I understand," she replied, because even though she did not understand, she understood that she didn't understand and she trusted in Alyssa. Gracie-Mae fell into a thoughtful silence for a moment as she tried to find the words to express her feelings.

 

But then Zsu was taking her hand and it turned out that she'd kept a secret too. Considering that Gracie-Mae had just undergone the whirlwind of emotions associated with finding out something of this magnitude, she was better prepared this time. But that didn't make Zsu's words any easier to stomach. Although Gracie-Mae's family wasn't particularly well off, they had always had enough. There had never been a question of whether or not they'd have somewhere to live, and Gracie-Mae could only wonder at the hardships that Zsu must have gone through. 

 

"Thank you," she mumbled after a moment. "Thank you both for sharing this with me. I promise I'll never tell a soul." Her friends were important to her, and now that their secrets were her secrets too; she would guard them fiercely. "And it's okay that you kept secrets. We're the Terrific Trinity, yeah? You're my friends no matter what you tell me or don't tell me. And I'm here for both of you if there's anything I can do to help - anything, anything at all."

 

To her own surprise, Gracie-Mae bit back a laugh. "I feel like I should be sharing a secret too? But I haven't been keeping one," she confessed. Her family wasn't rich but they'd always had a home. "If there's ever anything you want to know about me or my family, just ask." Gracie-Mae was happy to keep her friends' secrets, but she didn't like having any of her own.

 

She smiled at both of them and then finally turned her attention to the envelope Alyssa had handed her. She'd been so swept up in all the secrets and the emotions that it was only just now occurring to her that she ought to read it so as to come entirely up to speed with what was happening. "Should I?" she checked, pausing and glancing from the envelope to Alyssa and back.

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Alyssa Hoofer

“No more secrets,” Alyssa told Gracie-Mae.

 

She felt that by allowing her to read the letter, it was showing her that she trusted her, but it was for her to understand as well. She’d never believed that Zsu or Gracie-Mae would take advantage of her the way Clarissa did, and she would explain that but she wanted them to understand why she’d wanted to keep a secret in the first place. She hadn’t expected to meet two great people like Zsu and Gracie-Mae after all. She’d made her decision about keeping the secret before coming to Hogwarts. It was only after meeting them that she realized she should tell them her secret. She’d been trying to think of the best way to tell them both about it, and then the letter from Clarissa had arrived.

 

“I came close to telling you my secret during our duel,” Alyssa admitted to Gracie-Mae. “I’ve felt bad for keeping the secret from you two in the first place. I’d made my decision about hiding my wealth before coming to Hogwarts, and I didn’t expect to meet two great friends. I’ve always assumed it would just be Clarissa and me, even though she won’t be here until next year. Then I met you two on the train, but even back then I didn’t know if we’d stay friends after the train even though we promised we would. Afterwards, it was just hard for me to bring it up to you two. Then this letter came, and her attitude in the letter explains a bit why I kept it a secret in the first place. Not from you two, I know you two aren’t like that, but why I made my decision in the summer. I’ve wanted to tell you two since I started to trust you both because I knew the two of you wouldn’t be like that and I knew neither of you would think of me of as a spoiled brat like my cousins do. It’s just once you keep something a secret, it’s hard to finally admit the truth. No more secrets after today though. I’m going to tell you two everything. If I ever get a crush on a boy or even the boring mundane things. I want you to read it.”

 

She thought about the fact that Gracie-Mae had just admitted that she didn’t have any secrets. Did that make her a better friend? No, because Zsu kept a secret and she’s one of the best people I’ve met. So is Gracie-Mae. Alyssa told herself. She supposed that showed they were good friends if Gracie-Mae felt comfortable enough to always confide in them.

 

“It’s good you have told us everything, and you know that you can always tell us everything,” Alyssa told her. “And I do plan to let my wealth come out eventually, but for now I’d just like to keep it to us. I mean, eventually, I’d like to have pool parties in the summers and you two can help me plan if you’d like because you two are always welcome. I’d like for you two to come over for New Years actually if you’re not doing anything. I know Clarissa is a bit mean in that letter, but I’d still like for you two to meet her too. She might be nicer at Christmas break anyway. I plan to write back and tell her how I feel so maybe it will make her think twice about it. I’d like for her to meet the Terrific Trinity though and I want her to realize that I am allowed to make friends outside her because you two aren’t going anywhere.”

 

She’d told Gracie-Mae a bit about Clarissa and how her other friend didn’t want her to have other friends besides her. She wanted Gracie-Mae and Zsu to know that Clarissa’s wishes didn’t matter anymore that she’d met the two of them. Zsu would also always be welcome to stay no matter what, and that was something Clarissa would have to realize as well.

 

“And you already know my promise to you,” Alyssa added to Zsu before looking at Gracie-Mae. No more secrets after all. “I told her she’s always welcome to stay at my place if she needs to. You are as well, but her need is probably greater. Want to promise that from now on that we won’t keep secrets?” She asked.

 

She figured she should ask instead of just assuming they would keep that promise. She figured they would, but it was politer to ask then to demand. She knew for sure that she would never keep a secret from these two girls again. Not if she could help it anyway.

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Zsuzsanna E. Maverick

The ease in which Gracie-Mae accepted both of their details warmed Zsu, and the gratefulness of having someone so understanding and kind was not something she took lightly. She knew that should anything happen in the future, that she would always be happy that she had known such a soul even if time or something else were to tear them apart.  It made her feel as though there was not an obstacle she could not face and best, knowing that she had her fellow Terrific Trinity members beside her.

 

Her homelessness actually was not a secret, if someone had ever thought to ask her such a question she would’ve easily divulged the information. She wasn’t ashamed of her upbringing, wasn’t shy about the many, many things she did not know. She didn’t intentionally or knowingly try to hide it from anyone as it wasn’t something she actively thought about. It was just simply that since it was a way of life, it didn’t seem as though it deserved a second thought. As the conversation continued, however, she wondered just what the definition of a secret was to them. Was a secret something that was kept confidential, or was it the withholding of information in general? She kept mum about her thoughts, instead choosing to listen as her two friends conversed. There wasn’t any reason to voice the correction.

 

“If there is ever,” Zsu began quietly, her eyes slipping from Gracie-Mae to Alyssa, “anything you ever wish to know, please just ask me. I don’t want either of you to ever question my loyalty or integrity, and I’d rather you ask because you are unsure than to assume.” And she meant that, hoping it conveyed in the dark colouring of her eyes and the weight of her small smile. When the Gryffindor released her hand to take the letter, she simply clasped her fingers together, eyes slipping to her fellow Hufflepuff. Hearing Alyssa made her proud, as it seemed her friend had come to her own conclusions on what she wanted to do and how she wanted to handle everything.

 

Her smile brightened as she brushed their shoulders together, “You sound so mature!” She waggled her brows playfully before letting a few notes of laughter slip out. Straightening and allowing her mirth to soften and dim subtly she really regarded Alyssa. “I’d love to help you plan out parties and spend time with both of you, and Clarissa if she’d allow it. I hope everything works itself out, and even if it does not Alyssa, you have us both and will always have the lovely memories and experiences that you and Clarissa have shared to look back on.”

 

Suddenly she was tickled by something mentioned earlier that she’d allow to escape –crushes. Zsu hummed low, her eyes slanting in mischief as she looked at both of her friends, lips pursed and cheeks blooming with the smile she was trying to contain. “I do expect you both to indulge me in any and all of your crushes, loves, snogs, daydreams –everything! I have high expectations of having future years full of adventures, shenanigans, and missions of love.She raised her chin, eyes nearly disappearing as she burst into laughter and placed her hands up to muffle the sound. The images of them a bit older running amok in her mind.

 

When she settled down, she straightened her posture once more, wanting to keep an element of seriousness about her so that her friends would not doubt the honesty in her words. “You have my word that I will not keep any secrets, unless it is supposed to be a surprise –then I apologize for my trickery in advance.”

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Gracie-Mae Goodwin

Gracie-Mae finally read over the letter, skimming it over hastily in her curiosity to figure out what was going on, and then going back and re-reading it more carefully. She didn't believe for a second that Clarissa didn't care - not when she had been Alyssa's best friend for years, and not when she'd bothered to send Alyssa a letter. If Clarissa really hadn't cared, Alyssa wouldn't have gotten a letter at all. No, Gracie-Mae surmised that Clarissa cared very much. But that didn't make what she'd written okay, not in the least. Nobody should say such things to their friends! Gracie-Mae's teeth gritted as she folded the letter and returned it to its envelope to hand back to Alyssa. 

 

Gracie-Mae was caught up in a whirlwind of emotions: anger at Clarissa for writing such awful things, sadness for Alyssa because Gracie-Mae had been hurt by friends before but never like this so she could only imagine how her friend must be feeling, and frustration at her own powerlessness over the situation because she wanted to be able to fix it all but she knew that it was beyond her control. Once Gracie-Mae fought through the stormy emotions, her words were quiet. "Nobody deserves to receive a letter like this, Alyssa. I'm sorry." She reached out to hug her friend, and held out the envelope for Alyssa to take. 

 

"If there's anything I can do, I'm here for you," she added with a smile. Because what else could she do but offer her support? Clarissa's letter expressed resentment for Alyssa's friends - even if Gracie-Mae tried to reach out to her, she wasn't convinced that it wouldn't just make things worse for Alyssa. "Also, you're a great friend, just so you know," she said, in case confirmation of this would help Alyssa feel better. "Both of you are,"  she added with a glance and a smile in Zsu's direction. "I'm really glad we're all friends!"

 

And as she listened to the others speak, she realized just how true the words she'd spoken were. Alyssa and Zsu were both amazingly kind and each of them was extraordinary in her own way. That Gracie-Mae could consider not one but both of them as her friends was a great honor. She owed it to them to be the very best that she could possibly be, and to do her best as their friend, because they deserved all that she could give and more. 

 

"Oh, I'm always up to help out with planning a party, especially with you two!" Gracie-Mae gushed, grinning from ear to ear. "And I'll have to check with mum and dad about New Years but I would so like to visit and meet Clarissa, it's really nice of you to invite us!" Gracie-Mae still had mixed feelings about meeting Clarissa, but she was beginning to look forward to it if only to get her bearings on the whole situation - Clarissa was currently still something of a mystery to her, a mystery that she needed to unravel. 

 

"But ... I don't want to have crushes," Gracie-Mae couldn't help but mutter sadly. She had for a moment considered keeping this to herself before realizing that this was the absolute worst time to hide anything. "I had one last year at my old school and everyone found out and they all laughed at me and teased me and it was terrible," she explained. Gracie-Mae was the absolute worst at hiding her feelings. Even despite her best efforts, they tended to be written all over her face; right now her expression was one of worry and sadness. Crushes were more trouble than they were worth if you asked her, especially since she didn't think she'd be able to conceal one if she tried. "But I'll support both of you," she said reassuringly, lest the others fear that she might disapprove of their own crushes. 

 

"I promise to never keep a secret from either of you," pledged Gracie-Mae solemnly. She said this almost without thinking - could she have hidden anything from her friends even if she tried? - but she really meant it too. She couldn't think of a reason that she would ever want to keep a secret from the two girls who sat with her; she did not want to imagine a future in which she could not confide everything in them.

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