The Life-Mending Charm

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Chapter 4

Fact and Fiction

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," I whisper, looking down at the dog-eared book in my hands. I bite my lower lip, tears blurring in my eyes as I sit down on the edge of Louisa's bed. This cannot be happening. This cannot be a book about Harry, a 'work of fiction' that is, to me, absolutely true. So some wizard wrote Harry's story into a book and sold it to Muggles? It's absolutely evil, I think.

The first few pages are about Harry's Uncle Vernon; and I know they are true. Whoever wrote this has done their research and got into the mindset of that moronic Muggle perfectly. But what happens next?

I speed-read through the next couple of chapters, my heart pounding. It's everything about Harry's life - all his feelings and emotions, even stuff he's never told me but seems so detailed that it has to be true.

And that is what the rest of the book is like - it's the truth, plain and simple. My truth, Harry's truth, Ron's truth, laid bare in black and white. When I am finished with it, I am crying, my tears splattering off the pages. This is the most surreal feeling in the world, and that's why I can't believe it's real.

Hermione in the books, Louisa and I right now are all one and the same. The three of us have the same brain. Everything that Hermione said or did in the book is what I said or did. The way she's portrayed, well, I have to accept that's how others see me. But which other? Who wrote this? Because I've never met a JK Rowling in my life.

But it must be real right now, and that's what counts. I pick up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and read on.

By the time I've finished it - speed-reading through, and I find it is just as... historically accurate. By now, I'm terrified. This is not the work of a stalker, because nobody could have followed us enough to know of all this, to know Harry's feelings and thoughts. This could not be the work of someone who just knows us well, because none of us would spill all of our secrets like this. Either Harry himself wrote it, which is highly unlikely because he can't even write his own Potions homework, or it's a work of fiction, which it can't be, because I'm real.

I am real, I know it. But this is enough to make me doubt everything else. I stand up, tossing the book aside, and decide that maybe I'll feel better if I stop reading about myself, and start learning about Louisa. If I can keep up this charade for long enough, I can get some answers.

I rifle through her drawers, trying to enjoy nosing around her things. Her clothes are all tight, modern and a little risque, clothes no self-respecting Hogwarts girl would be seen dead in. I decide to try on her least repulsive black skinny jeans, and a grey knitted sweater that's stuffed at the back of the wardrobe like a long-forgotten Christmas present.

Once I've put on the clothes, I hang up the dress in the wardrobe and find ten similarly short, tight dresses. I try not to judge her, but already I don't like Louisa. In fact, I hate her and her stupid life, her stupid Harry Potter books and most of all I hate the fact that the books aren't stupid, they're right.

And if they're right, I'm fictional.

I hear a loud buzzing and for a moment I think it might be my alarm clock in the dorm at Hogwarts, waking me up from this dream. Instead, it's a mobile phone, lying on Louisa's bedside locker. Tentatively, I reach out and pick it up.

It's only a text message, from someone called Shauna. I'm not a phone expert, as I've been removed from ordinary teenage-Muggle type stuff for years. Four years, since I properly started at Hogwarts. But I've never been ordinary.

Heyy Lulu, miss ya, skl's no fun without u bbz!!! wat u bin up 2 2day???

What remarkable punctuation, I think crossly. But I'd better text back, just in case. It takes me a while to type out everything, knowing I'd better mimic Shauna's punctuation so she'll believe I'm Louisa. It's painful for such a Grammar-Warrior like me.

Yeah it sux but i just read hp omg love those books lol xx

I sent it and waited around in the bedroom for Shauna to answer, examining Louisa's photographs. I tried to guess which girl Shauna was - the one with the pink hair or the one with the nose ring. I'm betting on pink hair.

The phone vibrated and lit up, so I went to check the reply.

Ur such a freak with those books lol i love the movies though, the hp7 is the best, we shud totes have a marathon :P xx

Movies? Oh great! Now my life is being broadcast to an even wider audience, and it's a life I'm not even sure of. Seven movies! My mind starts whirring. Seven movies...Which means there are more than just the two books I've read... Which means that even this moment right now might be in a book. And if it's a book per year... then my future's in there too. Louisa knows what happens to me in the future, and so does everyone else. I try to keep breathing even though my vision is blurring and my heart is thumping, and my brain is literally exploding with the madness of it all. Everyone knows who I am and where I'll end up. Everyone knows Hermione Granger - and I'm not her any more. I'm not me, I'm Louisa.

Fact is stranger then fiction, but what happens when you can't tell the difference?

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