Chapter 1 : Meet Lorelei
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I, Lorelei White, hugged my bag closer as I stepped away from my parents with a last look and wave to them. I stepped through the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 with my eyes closed. Even though I had done it loads of times before, walking into a wall never felt natural.
This year at Hogwarts would be different. This year I would make an effort to make (and keep) some friends. My first 5 years at Hogwarts had been all right. I hadn't been maimed or killed, I got good grades, my teachers liked me. But my years hadn't been full.
With my suitcase trailing behind me, I stepped onto the train and found an empty compartment almost immediately- the perks of getting to the train very early. I put my suitcase above me and settled quietly into the seat with my book.
Yes, my years at Hogwarts hadn't been full. If you were to ask someone at Hogwarts if they knew me, chances are they wouldn't say yes. I didn't exactly make a big impression on my classmates in my first five years. While I got top notch grades, I was usually pretty silent in class. I kept mostly to myself, but if I did venture to have a friend, it was always someone from my own house. I often wondered why I had been put in Gryffindor. Wasn't it supposed to be for the brave? I certainly wasn't brave. Now, I wasn't exactly antisocial, it was more of a self-imposed extreme caution about other people.
Where did all this come from, you ask? Well, I'd always been pretty shy, but I personally thought it came from people constantly comparing me to my older sister, Farrah. Farrah was perfect. Top NEWTS (and OWLS before that), Quidditch Team Capitan, beautiful, brave, kind- everything a White should be. Our pureblood wizard family went back centuries, starting with Finneus Horatio White, but I digress.
On more than one occasion, someone had used me to get to Farrah. I had been walked over by many a date-seeking boy. It didn't exactly make me feel good. So, I built a wall and spent all my energy into what I thought most important to my happiness- getting good grades to ensure a good job. I spent no effort in my appearance, unlike all other teenage girls, it seemed.
I wore my bushy blonde hair around my face, hiding underneath it. I covered my eyes with horn-rimmed glasses. I slouched, hunched even. Now, I had impeccable hygiene. I just let go the things I could have spent more time on.
I never went to Hogsmeade, and I spent all my free time in the Library, in my room or by the lake, studying. If Great, Great, Great… um, Great, Great, Great Grandpa Finneus had been alive, he would have spat in my face. This was not how an honorable White was supposed to act.
But, like I said, this year was going to be different. I was out of Farrah's shadow- she had graduated the year before. Now, I didn't begrudge my sister her popularity, and I wasn't bitter about my predicament. It was just easier to not try to fit in, because even if I tried my hardest, it wouldn't be as good as Farrah- so I didn't try to fit in at all.
But, after a while, the loneliness got tiresome. So, over the summer I revamped. I got contacts (a muggle next door neighbor introduced the concept), dyed and straightened my hair (again, muggle procedures suggested by our nosy neighbor- quite the cosmetologist, that one). I even found a mantra- "It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all." So this was the year I was going to try.
Now, if only I could find a way to overcome everyone's opinion of me. The bookish, unattractive, less fantastic sister of Farrah. I could be funny and personable, but I got really tongue tied sometimes. Did I mention I was shy? Especially around boys. If a boy did happen to talk to me, something in the back of my head always wondered if it was to get to Farrah or they had mistaken me for someone else. Or they needed someone's homework to copy.
I pulled my legs up onto the seat, not breaking my gaze at my book. Sitting with my legs underneath me in the Indian sitting position sometimes made people wince. I often got those 'how-can-that-possibly-be-comfortable?' looks. But it was comfortable. And the book I was reading was my favorite. In my opinion, reading was vastly underrated as a way to pass the time.
On the train, I had foolishly chosen a backward facing seat, so when the train jolted forward, I also was jolted forward and my book flew out of my hand.
"Damn," I swore under my breath. Hadn't I learned my lesson before? Just as I leaned down to retrieve it, I lost my balance on the seat and fell head first onto the ground.
"Bugger," I muttered, rubbing my newly sore head. It would be like me to topple head first.
Ignoring the pain, I righted myself. I consoled myself that the tumble wasn't really that bad, as there were no other occupants in my compartment.
But the sudden snickering I heard in the back ground robbed me of that consolation.
"What an idiot. Clumsy much?" a Slytherin girl taunted meanly, flanked by two other Slytherin girls who guffawed at her cruelty. The girl smiled mockingly, revealing teeth so yellow they made me recoil slightly.
I looked down and brushed off my robes. "Floss much?" I bit back. My hand immediately flew to my mouth. Had I said that aloud? That was something I never would have said!
The girl frowned at me. "Watch your back, Gryffindor." The Slytherin girls sneered once more and were gone.
I bit my lip. Had I made an enemy before I made a friend? That wasn't the plan! I turned and sighed, watching the countryside pass through the window.
"Are you all right?" a voice interrupted the silence.
Though it had been kindly and softly spoken, it still surprised me. I jumped nearly a foot in the air. I turned, discovering a Gryffindor Seventh Year, Frederick Grant, watching me with an amused look. I wrung my hands and looked down. "I'm fine," I mumbled. Had he seen me fall? How embarrassing!
He smiled. "So much for starting the year off on the right foot," he joked, not unkindly.
"Or any foot at all, for that matter," I muttered, more to myself than anyone else.
He looked at me and let out a surprised laugh. "Indeed. I'm Fred, by the way. Fred Grant." He offered his hand.
I looked at in confusion for a few seconds before it registered in my brain that he meant for me to shake it. I took it shyly and said,
"Oh! Like Farrah's sister?" Fred asked hopefully.
I nodded, barely containing my sigh. "Yup."
After a few seconds of awkward silence, Fred nodded at me. "Yes, well... I have to be going, but it was lovely to meet you. Tell Farrah I said, 'Hi'."
I waited until he was well out of earshot before giving him a mock salute. "Will do, chief." I settled back in my seat with my book.