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Too Little Too Late by StEpH_M
Chapter 3: Train trips, Friends and apparent enemies.
So... Chapter 3 yer, I know it's been like a month but that's how long it will take for all of them pretty much :(
Anyway everything you know and love from the Harry Potter series is JK Rowling's brilliant scheme to make us all book addicts.
Beta'd by Chocolate_Frog
Lovely Chapter Image by Giola@tda
So, let me start off by saying I really hate planes. They’re a stupid way to travel: You could die from one stupid bird finding the turbine and thinking it’s a fun place to fly. I’m just saying; they’re not safe!
Unfortunately, I flew directly from Heathrow to King’s Cross Station, not even having time to refresh. My brunette hair was in a messy ponytail (which is not that different from usual, only with way more knots) and my eyeliner had gone all smoky black. So, all in all, I pretty much looked how I do every day. Don’t know why I was complaining; I guess it was just what I do.
I checked my luggage to make sure the flight attendant that escorted me to the taxi hadn’t nicked anything, carefully inspecting to make sure I still had all my band tees, skinny leg jeans, ACDC jumper, and gazillion pairs of different coloured converse. Yes, they were all there—Thank Merlin.
The whistle of the train brought me out of my thoughts and back to reality. It was almost 11 o’clock, and I only just realized that I had walked through a wall to get onto the platform.
I really should be paying more attention to details…
The train was about to bail on me like all good trains usually do, but at least this time I wouldn’t be a loner. I could see many more teenage kids saying goodbye to loving parents before the long school life until Christmas.
God, I wish I had loving parents.
I grabbed my luggage and slowly made my way to the scarlet train, hoping to find an empty compartment.
It was a quarter to ten and, as usual, Sirius and James were late and Peter was nowhere to be found. This has happened for three years now so I don’t know why I keep expecting things to change. I wished that, just once, we wouldn’t have to run to catch the train before it left us behind.
It’s amazing that it has been three years since I got my letter to Hogwarts; it feels like just yesterday. The only bad thing was that I had to say goodbye to my best friend in the whole world to come to Hogwarts—that was when I met Sirius, James and Peter. We became the inseparable Marauders.
“Hey Remus, what the hell are you daydreaming about?” asked Sirius.
As usual, the annoying 14-year-old boy snapped me out of my thoughts and back into the dull existence I like to call reality. This was all delivered with a very hard, to put it bluntly, slap on the back. Yep, that was going to leave a bruise.
“That first day on the train, when we met. I was sad to be leaving home and you two snapped me out of it.” I said, smiling.
The truth is that I still regretted leaving Australia; I still miss my best friend more than anything. I haven’t talked to her since I left; she probably thought I don’t want to have anything to do with her. Sadly, I think about her almost every day. It would just be weird if my mail to her was sent by owl.
“Dude, you’re doing it again,” stated James. “You didn’t hear anything we were just saying.” He pouted like a little girl who didn’t get a pony for Christmas.
“Sorry James, what were you saying?” I asked, trying to repress a sigh. The best thing I could do right now was try to make it up to him, not make it worse.
“I was saying...” James started as if nothing had happened. All I could think was ‘too easy’. “... that this is going to be the year that Lily will be my girlfriend.” He smiled.
“James, you’re in your fourth year! Having a love interest now is just unhealthy,” remarked Sirius, giving his best friend a pat on the back. Now why can’t he give me pats on the back that don’t leave bruises?
“Well enough of that bromance, we have a train to catch,” I almost yelled at them as the train billowed smoke out its chimney, suggesting that it wanted to leave. We ran to the train and jumped on just as it pulled off from the station, laughing as Sirius tripped up the stairs.
Welcome to another year at Hogwarts.
As the train pulled away from the station, smoke spurting out of its chimney, I stared out the window and mentally said goodbye to civilisation and my dreams of being a pro surfer, and hello to freaking death by sticks.
In the 15 minutes between me finding an empty compartment and the train pulling off, I had set up a few things that would entertain me: Muggle pranks, with just a touch of magic to hide them. For example, there was now a thick piece of invisible string attached just inside the door for all those who dared to enter the compartment.
Conveniently, someone was just about to be enlightened.
Trudging down a moving train looking for an empty (or an almost empty compartment) was hard work, especially when your trunk got caught every few seconds.
“Hey guys, I think this is the best we are going to get. There’s only one girl in here so it should be fine for us to fit.” James turned to us, smiling as he started to open the door.
“Um hi, can we sit...” Suddenly, James, by the looks of it, tripped over nothing and landed with a, if I may say so, spectacular thud, face first on the floor of the compartment.
The familiar, yet way too pale and skinny, brunette girl didn’t even turn around when James fell on the floor of her compartment.
“Sorry about that; he’s a bit of a klutz, this one.” Sirius said, smiling and messing up his hair like he always does when he’s nervous. As he was just about to enter the room the girl finally spoke, and I almost fell over in shock.
“I wouldn’t keep moving forward unless you want to meet the same end as your friend,” she said without turning away from the glass.
Now I knew why she was so familiar. This skinny girl was the one person that filled most of my dreams and everyday thoughts. The one person I had wanted to see more than anything for the last three years. Matilda.
I didn’t even turn my head or smile when the boy fell face-first onto the floor. In my mind, however, I was jumping up and down, shouting, “Yay, there are stupid people here!”
The boy on my floor had shaggy black hair that looked like it stayed messy no matter how hard you tried to make it neat. He was murmuring swear words under his breath as his head lulled to the side. He had glasses and was tall for what looked like a 14-year-old boy. Wait, please don’t tell me I’m in his year…
“Sorry about that; he’s a bit of a klutz, that one,” said that boy standing in the door. From his reflection he looked, well, drop-dead gorgeous. He would so become a player of girls’ hearts when his hormones started to say ‘Hey, I want a say in your life’. His scruffy brown hair hung just above his shoulders and he was messing with it nervously. His eyes were a steely grey and showed little emotion, whereas the boy’s on the floor were deep blue and could be read like a book. The boy at the door went to step into the compartment.
I sighed, finally deciding I had had enough of that certain prank.
“I wouldn’t keep moving forward, unless you want to meet the same end as your friend. Just a bit of good natured advice,” I stated as impassively as I could while trying not to crack up laughing at the boy still rolling around on the floor. My statement stopped the boy in his tracks with a confused look in his face.
“Why?” The boy still standing said, cocking his head to the side like dogs do when they’re trying to understand something or look innocent.
I sighed again. Jeez, the people here really weren’t that smart. I turned my hand towards the door to the compartment and, with the flick of my wrist and a non-verbal spell (thanks for teaching me that one Ben), the invisible string became visible once more.
The boy at the door made an ‘O’ shape with his mouth as if to say ‘I get it now’. I had to restrain myself from rolling my eyes at the dumb boy’s realization.
“Well, that explains why you fell,” ‘Dumb’ boy said to ‘floor’ boy.
Dumb boy stepped over the string after recovering from his lack of intelligence and came to opposite me, as if he wanted to have a chat. Oh boy, how fun. (Sarcasm has always been my friend and ally.)
“Hey lump, get up off the floor and sit your big lazy ass down on the seat,” said Dumb Boy as he got relaxed and comfortable on the seat. He started pushing Floor Boy with his foot until he finally got up and sat himself down next to him.
“Are you coming in here?” Floor Boy said to someone outside the door. I strained to see this mysterious person in the window but he or she was hiding from the reflected view of the door, so I gave up and turned towards my two new compartment pals.
I was still standing in the corridor, not knowing whether to make up an excuse to leave or to confront the girl I had missed for so long. I was also hoping I wouldn’t get slapped in the face. The first option seemed to look like the best choice, if I may say so. But I couldn’t be a coward anymore, so I braved the odds that piled against me and walked through the compartment door.
“So, am I going to get your names, or am I going to have to keep referring to you two as Dumb Boy and Floor Boy?” questioned Matilda when the two boys started putting their luggage above their heads. She made it sound like she didn’t care and for some reason I had a feeling that since I’d left something had changed in her: She had become more closed.
“Oh yeah, right, I’m Sirius Black.” muttered Sirius with a toothy grin on his face.
He was already trying to impress his new found target. Jealousy filled my veins. At least she didn’t seem to show any interest in him; there was still hope that I wouldn’t have to watch her heart be broken. There was also hope that I could, most likely, keep her to myself.
“This is James Potter.” Sirius waved his arm towards James who sat next to him, jumping up and down as high as he could go without smashing his head on the ceiling. Yep, that one is going to hurt in the morning and we’re going to have to hear about it.
“And this is Remus Lupin.” Sirius nodded towards me. I inhaled and held my breath, expecting some sort of reaction.
“Okay then. What year are you in and what is with these houses and stuff?” Matilda said, not even acknowledging that I was someone she already knew.
Maybe she just didn’t remember me. In that instant my heart shattered.
“Well, we are starting our fourth year at Hogwarts. The deal with the houses is that everyone is put into one of the four houses; Gryffindor is for those with courage and bravery, Ravenclaw is for the smart kids, Hufflepuff is for the loyal and Slytherin is for the cunning and, in my opinion, the evil Death Eater wannabes.” answered Sirius.
I could see on his face and in his eyes that he was all too happy to answer any question Matilda had. I sighed and plopped down next to Matilda in the only available seat.
“So let me get this straight, Gryffindor and Slytherin are enemies; they hate each other and hex and prank each other all the time. Am I right?” asked Matilda with a twinkle in her eye. I had a bad feeling about this. “Well, if that’s true and Gryffindor and Slytherin do fight like cats and dogs, I wonder what would be more fun: pissing off the Slytherins or the Gryffindors,” smirked Matilda.
Yet again, just like when I knew her as a little girl, she had managed to find a way to leave boys gobsmacked and her field open for play. This was treacherous water.
“With your goldfish faces, gentlemen, I bid you goodbye and good luck.” Matilda stood from her chair while Sirius and James were still reeling from the comment that this little brunette girl had made.
She made her way to the door and before stepping outside turned with a smirk and waved at us.
“Bye Black, bye Potter...” she turned to me and looked me directly in the eye for the first time today. I could see the anger and hurt hidden in her sky blue eyes. It made me regret ever having left her, hurt and alone.
“Bye Wolfy.” She smirked at me, making my mouth drop to mirror that of Sirius and James. With that she left, leaving us all thinking: What had we just gotten ourselves into?
I was currently trying extremely hard to not fall apart right outside the compartment door. I reassured myself that just a few steps and I could start breaking down, just a few more steps.
Literally five steps later, I was smashing my head on the window in the corridor of the train. The moment I heard the words ‘Remus Lupin’ being spoken from Sirius’s mouth, I wanted to jump out of the window and run as far away as possible, even back to Australia and, god forbid, my house. I think I may have broken the record for the largest amount of constant profanities said in my mind in less than one minute.
Still smashing my head against the window and muttering swearwords with every blow to the head, I was unable to detect the annoying git that was walking up to me.
“Matilda, smashing one’s head on the window is a very un-ladylike trait,” stated an annoyingly familiar voice.
Today just keeps getting better and better. I looked up to see my aggravatingly over-protective cousin, Jeremy Wood, smiling at me the chance to mock me. After a brief glance his way following his comment about my ladylike behaviour, I turned back to the window and continued the assault on my head, just with less swear words.
There was a relative around, after all.
Finally, after I lost count of the amount of times I had smashed my head (most likely due to the massive migraine I had developed), a hand stuck out and placed itself between my head and the delightfully mental pain-dulling window.
“Excuse me, but would you ever so nicely remove your fat man hands from the window so I can continue to hit my head ‘till I get knocked unconscious or die?” I sighed at my cousin who had finally decided to act against my unintelligent decision.
“I sincerely regret that I cannot remove my hand from its current position due to wanting to stop my dear cousin from getting brain damage,” he smiled at me. When I didn’t return the friendliness, he sighed. “What’s wrong, Matt?” he asked, applying weight to my shoulders and forcing me down to the ground. As soon as he was sure that I wasn’t going to get up and try to bail through the window he had just stopped me from hitting, he sat down beside me and put his arm around my shoulders, pulling me close to him like I was going to disappear or break down any second.
(Which I probably would.)
“What happened to make you so distraught? Please answer, Mattie,” he said, more softly and quietly than before, letting the affection he had for his favourite little cousin show.
“I just saw him; out of all the compartments he and his stupid friends could have walked into, it had to be mine. Did it have to be now? I wasn’t ready; I thought I would have the whole train trip to think of a way to compose myself for when I would see him at school. But I didn’t get my chance. Why me?” I whispered, too afraid to talk any louder just in case I cracked apart and cried.
“Oh, well that explains the physical damage. Are you going to be alright if you see him again? I mean, you’re going to the same school now. You could always hang with me and Luke, you know; we won’t mind,” Jeremy questioned, squeezing me tight to try and comfort me. He might be an over-protective and annoying git, but he’s still a caring cousin and was always able to help me out when I need it.
“I don’t know, just hearing his name set me off. How will I last an entire year… actually, three years? Also, I think he hates me now,” I finished, feeling slightly better now that I had let out the frustration and confusing questions that concerned Remus.
“Why would he be angry at you?” questioned my cousin, smiling slightly at the fact that I still had the ability to make people ‘hate’ me.
“I may have mentioned something about his furry little problem,” I looked down, feeling slightly guilty as I muttered my answer.
“Matt...” Jeremy whined. He hit his hand to his head and sighed while shaking his shaggy brown hair side to side; exhausted from the amount of times I’d done something regarding putting my foot in my mouth.
“Hey, I really wasn’t ready to see him yet! Besides, it’s not like he said anything. He came in, sat down, and didn’t even say anything about us knowing each other when Sirius introduced him!” I defended myself. My voice had grown louder, but I didn’t really care.
“He what?” Jeremy yelled. Everyone in the hallway looked at us, but turned away when they noticed the Gryffindor Quidditch captain. I guess they really valued his friendship... or the popularity he brought them.
“You heard me; I don’t even know if he remembers me.” I smiled sadly, remembering all the good times we shared and would never get to again.
I guess it may be for the best.
“What, did you tell them your name?” Jeremy asked, squeezing me tightly and leaning his forehead against mine in an affectionate way.
“No, they never asked. Besides, they were rude and it didn’t seem important to tell them who I was at the time,” I defended. Admittedly I could have, and probably should have, told them, but what would it have mattered? The only reason he would have realised it was me would be because of my name. I know it’s shallow but I would like to be remembered, not just by name but by my looks too.
“Well, that’s understandable, but you should probably have told them,” he said to me, slowly standing up and holding his hand out for mine.
“Come on; let’s get you to my compartment so you don’t have to worry about seeing him until we get to school.” He smiled reassuringly at me. I grabbed his hand and he helped me get up. I smiled back at him; this may not be all that bad of a train ride.
“Thanks Jeremy,” I said as he led me to his compartment were his friends were talking, playing exploding snap or making out awkwardly...
He opened the door for me and introduced me to everyone in there, just before I hit the male who was in the middle of a make-out session over the head.
“Luke! Stop sucking your girlfriend’s face and say hello and give me a hug, you ungrateful pig!” I laughed at the boy sitting in the corner who looked like he was eating the blonde’s face.
This kid was my cousin Jeremy’s best friend and was like a brother to me... and just as over-protective as one too. He had spiky brown hair and those blue eyes you can only find on people from an Irish background. He was tall and lanky and liked to remind me daily of his tall height and my short one. But, all in all, we got alone extremely well… when he wasn’t bashing up my make-out partners.
“Um Mattie, what are you doing in this compartment? Not that I don’t like you being here—you’ll make it more fun—but why?” he asked with a suspicious face that I knew too well.
“Firstly, no, you cannot bash anyone up and secondly, I don’t want to talk about it,” I huffed, taking a seat were my cousin had shown me was free and turned away from Luke while acting like a three-year-old who didn’t get their way.
I’m 14; it’s not a crime to be highly immature.
From the door of the compartment I heard a laugh. Luke and I both turned to see Jeremy still standing there, just taking in the sight of the two of us bickering at each other.
“Aren’t you going to sit down?” I asked him, a bit worried that I had taken his seat or made it awkward for him because these were all his friends and I was his kid cousin.
“No, no, its fine, I just have to go and get your stuff from your old compartment. I’ll be right back. Luke, look after her while I’m gone and if anyone comes to try and talk to her... punch them in the face,” Jeremy said with a determined look on his face before walking down the corridor towards where I had been sitting 15 minutes ago.
I looked after him in shock, before turning back to Luke, who was now staring at me, trying to figure out what had happened.
“Under no circumstances do I give you permission to punch someone in the face unless it’s a certain Australian that I am ignoring,” I stated.
I could see the clogs turning in his head until his mouth made the shape of an “O”. He could be thick sometimes.
“So that’s what this is about,” whispered Luke. He knew I didn’t like to talk about my ex-best friend.
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Ok, I know you may hate me for this but chapter 4 is taking longer to write then I though, my muse ran away and I am stuck with a very small one page chapter at the moment. It's all very sad. But yes throw things, whatever just bare with me! :)