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Chapter 23

The weeks passed in a blur for Alexis as everyone setled into their new regime and schedule. Their classes became heavier, and it wasn’t just Alexis who felt the growing tension and stress. It was all preparation towards their O.W.L. examination next year, and in consequence the career path they wish to follow. It felt daunting to Alexis that the results of the O.W.L. would effect the subjects she chooses.

While studies continued, the weather changed to the crisp, cool autumn with high winds and violent storms. The nights were cold and frosty, but that didn’t keep Alexis Rune away from her early morning runs. It allowed her time to meditation, release pent up emotions and reflect. She would have to enjoy them while she can before the snow arrives and the drifts become too deep to cross.

October was nearing its end, which meant two things to the students of Hogwarts, the first Hogsmead visit and Quidditch match of the season. Alexis was looking forward to seeing the wizarding town, there weren’t any pure wizarding towns left in Japan – unless you count the temples. She wanted to see what it was like, how a magical community operates without fear of a passing muggle.

But first she had to push through the growing school enthusiasm on the upcoming match between Gryffindor and Slytherin. That Saturday morning before Halloween in the Great Hall, all the Gryffindor’s wore their house colours, gold and scarlet. They cheered whenever a team member arrived for breakfast. Looking over at the next table, the Slytherins wore their own clolours and cheered their own teammates. It wasn’t long before jabs were called out across the tables, insults, banter, chants and gloating. It made Alexis smile, until the professors stepped in and ushered the team members down to the pitch.

Quidditch was never a sport Alexis could get in to even though her cousin seemed to live and breath it. She had attended a few games back at Kitsune Academy to support Suki but it was not something she would ever attempt herself. As the players left, Alexis noticed that a few were from her own year, including Lilly and Zack. She had received invitations from the both of them to attend the game, which made it more difficult to choose who to cheer for.

With breakfast finished, crowds of the remaining students headed towards the pitch, forming a mass exodus. Alexis, caught up in the mob, tried to locate the few friends she had made and keep since arriving. Eloise and Victoria from Hufflepuff were just up a head, Alexis increased her steps to catch up to the two and explained her current dilemma.

“I don’t know why you’re even friends with Zack Rowle.” Victoria said with disgusted look, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. “Sure he’s cute, but ugh, he is so annoying! Think’s he’s the be all of Hogwarts.”

“Oh Tory, don’t you see it’s young love.” Eloise replied with a giggle. A number of her golden locks fell from her messy bun and bounced off her sweater as they walked.

“No, it’s not!” Alexis shouted. “It’s just he was the first person I met over the summer. I mean, he helped me out, and I didn’t understand there would be such a divide between houses.”

“I was just teasing.” Eloise said with a sigh and linked arms with the flustered Alexis. “I get your point. Meeting someone outside of school, then finding out what everyone says about them behind their backs. It’s tough. But, really it’s like a miracle that a Gryffindor can be friends with a Slytherin. I’m routing for you two.”

“You route for every underdog love story.” Victoria said with a bored sigh.

“Because they are the most romantic.”

“Zack and I are just friends.” Alexis reiterated.

“Understood. You are just friends… for now.” Eloise trailed off. Alexis gave the girl a soft shove on the arm they found a bench to sit that overlooked the pitch.

“So, is it that relationship you have with Rowle holding you back from bonding with your house?” Victoria asked. The surrounding seats filled up with other Hufflepuffs and a few locals from Hogsmead.

“I think it’s a large part of it, but there’s something else.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. I feel they don’t trust me. Even if I wasn’t friends with Zack, I’m sure that feeling would still be there.”

“So it still has to do with your name.” Eloise stated with a hard tone. Alexis nodded as the two teams flew out onto the pitch with the roar and cheers from the crowds.

“Do any of you know why the Rune name has such a bad reputation?” Alexis asked. She had been wondering if what Amalia had said that night was true, and with Skye’s help search for a possible answer. Maybe if she knew what made the Runes so bad in so the first place she could say she wasn’t part of it. She was tempted more than once to beg Suki and Hichrio to come over to vouch for her. Even her Archery Sensei could put in a good word with her, every listens to Ozaki-Sensei. Those were wild and unattainable thoughts.

“Just the rumours you’ve already heard.” Victoria said. Alexis sighed as the whistle blew and the game started. She payed little attention to the game, her mind still on all the names she heard either behind her back or to her face. She had even written some of them down, to find a clue. They varied from Death Eater, to Muggle Hater, to Secret Spy for the Dark Lord. The common theme she could come up with was that the Runes were cruel to those they deemed under them. It wasn’t much of a clue as that could be said of any Death Eater.

There was a roar in the crowd, Slytherin had scored the first goal. The game kept going on at a rather quick pace and it wasn’t long until Gryffiendor scored three goals to take the lead.

“You’re really taking all of this seriously Alexis.” Eloise said breathless from cheering. Her checks were glowing red from the cold, but it didn’t look like she cared. Eloise had a spirit about her that drew on energy. She jumped and cheered, moaned and shouted at every pass. “Maybe you should just let the past be and just move on with your life. Who cares what other say about you, you know the truth about yourself and they can just accept who you are.”

“Well said Eloise, but when I found out I was staying with my uncle, I wanted to learn everything I could about my father’s side of the family. Like it or not, this is what I wanted to learn.” Alexis said a dark grin on her face. Careful what you wish for, came to her mind. The crowd at the other end of the domed pitch cheered as Slytherine once more tied the game.

“Well, things may get worse before they get better.”

“Yeah, I’m aware of that.” Alexis smiled at the two Hufflepuffs as a fourth goal was scored on Slytherin. “You think Gryffindor will win?”

“They still have James Potter as Seeker, he hasn’t let them down yet.” Eloise said with a rather heartfelt sigh.

Sure enough twenty minutes later James Potter caught the snitchand the game ended with Gryffindor as the winners.

Chapter 22                   INDEX