Chapter 1 : Who are they trying to keep out?
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Who are they trying to keep out?
Lily stared, unsure if she wanted to step on the train or not. If she did a whole new world and entirely new people would open up to her. Was she ready to take that kind of leap? Was she secure enough to step away from her safe non-magic world and start life over at a wizarding school? She didn’t know. She looked around for some source of inspiration, of motivation. The boy who had helped her get through the barrier between platforms nine and ten was now gone, having walked off with his friends. With a deep breath that seemed to contain all the courage that she needed, she wheeled her trolley onto the train.
It had all started because of that letter. The one on the thick, yellowing parchment with the maroon Hogwarts seal stamped across the back. Odd as it seemed, even to her, she could remember the smell, the texture of the rough paper in her hands. She remembered that day as though it had happened just a moment ago. That had been the day her world had been turned on its head.
It was one of those blistering summer mornings and she was preparing to start her first year at Clover Ridge Middle School. But that letter appeared at her window in a most curious manner. She had been fast asleep when she had heard a light, yet precise tapping on the window. Lily, the light sleeper that she was, had awaken at once and looked around the room, dimly, before spotting the large barn owl at her window.
The compartment door slid open arousing her from her thoughts. A short, dark-haired girl smiled at Lily from the door. “Do you mind if I sit here?” she asked shyly. Lily shook her head.
“No, not at all,” The girl smiled and sat down in the seat across from her.
“My name is Harley Hannah.”
“I’m Lily Evans.” Lily smiled and looked out the window, where more people were boarding the train. A tall boy with messy, black hair was saying good bye to a pleasant looking couple that had crossed the barrier to see their son off. A spark of jealousy awoke within her at the scene. It was not that her parents didn’t love her, she knew, but her house was often a zoo with Petunia and her friends lying about the house all the time. Lily had often hung out with her sister and her friends, but Petunia hadn’t said a word to Lily since she had received that letter.
“Are you in your first year?” asked Harley after a moment of silence. Lily looked at her, startled from her thoughts and gave a small nod.
“Yeah. Are you?”
“Yes. I’ve never seen Hogwarts but my parents have told me so much about it that my mind has kind of painted its own picture. According to them, it’s an elaborate castle set in acres of land with a lake on one side and a forest on the other, with tons of endless land. The perfect scene of romance.” She laughed. “You’ll have to forgive me. I am truly a hopeless romantic at heart.”
Lily laughed as well, feeling light-headed and elated. “Wow, I’d never even heard of Hogwarts until I got my letter.”
“Oh! Muggle parents,” said Harley, forming an ‘o’ with her mouth.
“Err…Muggle? Just what might that be?” Lily asked, trying to be politely confused, and not offended.
“A non-magical person is a Muggle. They have no relation to magic whatsoever.”
“Well then, yes, they are Muggles. But Hogwarts does sound really wonderful and magical,” Lily laughed at her own cliche. She had a nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach. Was she laughing too much?
“It’s supposed to be one of the safest places in the world,” said Harley. “They have it bewitched so that you can’t Apparate inside it or anywhere on the grounds. And they have one of the most complex security systems in the world.”
“Why? What are they trying to hide or keep out?”
“Muggles, of course. According to the most recent version of Hogwarts A History, the place is so full of magic; it would not be very pretty if a Muggle happened to gain entry. I suppose you’ve covered the topic of the fourteenth century witch burnings at a Muggle school? Of course, now the Muggles don’t think of magic the way we do. They see witches as ugly old toads that ride brooms in the dead of night and cackle while stroking a black cat.”
Lily had to laugh. As a child, though there had never really been a doubt in her mind that magic existed, that had been how she had pictured witchcraft.
“Though Muggles can’t see Hogwarts, anyway.” Harley continued as though she had never stopped. “All they would see is a crumpled old castle with a caution sign in front of it. Regardless, it’s much safer with Anti-Apparation charms all over the place,”
That did not seem to make much sense to Lily. Though she didn’t have the slightest clue as to what Apparation was, she knew it was something her parents could never do. And if the point was to keep Muggles out, what was the point of an Anti-Apparation charm?
Clearly, someone was trying to keep out more than Muggles.
“It sounds promising.” Lily thought aloud, half doubtfully.
“Oh, it will be a grand year. I can tell.”
James grinned and stepped into the so-far empty compartment. He was finally on the Hogwarts Express and within a matter of time he would be sitting in front of the school being sorted into Gryffindor. Well, he hoped it would be Gryffindor, in any case.
No sooner had he sat down than a tall boy entered the compartment. He had long black hair that fell into his face and eyes that were so dark they looked as black as his hair. Perfect for matching his name. Sirius Black.
“Hi, James,” Sirius sat down in the unoccupied seat across from him. “How was your summer?” James laughed at the question.
“Well, you would know wouldn’t you? You followed me around almost all summer. My mum has really taken a liking to you. She’s brought up adoption a couple of times, but she figured your mum wouldn’t go for that.”
“Are you kidding? My sweet old hag of a mother would be delighted. It would be like the highlight of the century or something,” Sirius shrugged carelessly. “What did you do last night after I left?”
“Not much. You know my mum. She made me triple check to be absolutely sure I had packed everything, then she sent me off to my room to do as I pleased.”
“Typical. I went home and talked to Averill until Arriane kicked her out of the fireplace so that she could talk to her boyfriend,”
“I didn’t see Averill at all this summer. I had thought that she might show up to play Quidditch. Is Arriane coming to Hogwarts, too?”
“Nope. Her mother convinced her to go to Beauxbatons,”
“And she’s letting Averill run off to Hogwarts?” James asked, sounding disbelieving.
“Yeah. She doesn’t care. Averill could jump off the side of a cliff without her mum giving a damn,”
“That’s horrible,” said James.
“That’s why we’re friends. We’re alike in that way.”
“I’m glad I’m an only child,” said James, sounding awed.
“No one would ever take your place, anyway. Your parents aren’t like that,”
“Yeah, but I’m still glad that I don’t have any competition,”
The glass door slid open once more to reveal a solitary figure, leaning against the frame casually. She had silky, blonde hair and luminous blue eyes. She smiled around the compartment for a moment before settling down next to Sirius.
“Afternoon, Miss Austavaughn.”
“A good afternoon it is, Mister Black,”
“Hi, Averill,” James smiled. Averill had always held some kind of charm around her and he had often wondered if she was part veela, although he felt it might be more than a little rude to ask.
“Hello, James,” Averill returned the favour with a friendly smile. “How was your summer?”
“It was great actually, just ask Sirius. And yours?” James knew this had been a mistake as soon as the words had taken form. She bit down slightly on her lip and her eyes gleamed dangerously.
“I have had better summers. But I suppose it could have been worse too. I’m just glad I’m here on the Hogwarts Express rather than the Beauxbatons chariot,”
“Can’t say I blame you,” James admitted.
“I’d preefer ‘Ogwarts to Beauxbatons any day,” said Sirius in a feigned French accent.
“I don’t talk like that!” said Averill indignantly.
“Not that dramatically, but you can tell that you’ve got an accent anyways. The point is that you would talk like that if you weren’t bound and determined to have nothing to do with your true family and try to cover your accent. Actually, it’s really fun when you get mad and start yelling in French.”
“I actually tried to get my name changed legally, but my dad laughed himself silly when I brought it up. Of course, my mum was ready to go with the switch, considering I’m the rebel child among my brothers and Arriane,”
“What were you expecting?” asked Sirius.
“Something along the lines of that, but it’s not like I had anything to lose by trying,”
The train bellowed and wisps of smoke fluttered in through the open window. James glanced down at his watch. It was ten fifty-nine. Only one minute left until they were on their way to Hogwarts. Sirius looked out the window to where last minute stragglers, literally, were surging onto the train. Many people had stuck their heads out along the way and were waving joyful farewells to their families. Sirius shook his head sadly, a look of longing in his eyes and shut the window, cutting off the smoke drifting in. With the smallest lurch and another long wail, they were on their way. It was not twenty seconds later that they disappeared through the solid black walls of Kings Cross Station.
Not many compartments down sat a thin boy, on his own and deep in thought. He too, was anticipating the upcoming year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, it was in a slightly different way that he anticipated the year to come. Remus Lupin was a slightly unusual boy, even by wizarding standards.
There was the fact that he would have to make new friends, but that was nothing compared to what he had to do once a month. Remus was a werewolf and so, on every full moon, he would have to sneak out of the castle, occupying roughly nine hundred people, to transform into a beast. It was a painful process and he worried about being discovered, and possibly shunned, throughout all seven of his years in magical training. Possibly worse than the pain, was the fact that he would have to make excuses about his absences, bottom line: he would have to lie.
Lily’s compartment was now rather full of girls. There were, of course, Harley and herself. In addition, there were Amanda Mac, Trisha Baker, Chloe Lavine, and Maeve Mystique. All the girls were interesting and talkative, and Lily was glad to have met such fine friends already.
Amanda Mac was an interesting, curly-haired second year Ravenclaw from Surrey, who Lily immediately took a liking to. Amanda seemed to find it necessary to explain her life story to them and ended up telling more than Lily would have said to them. Trisha Baker was Amanda’s eccentric friend who seemed to share almost all of the same qualities. Chloe Lavine was a tall, blonde first year that seemed to be very much like Harley in the fact that she sounded rather like an encyclopedia. Maeve Mystique was more of a free spirit and Lily saw a great friend in her. Like Lily, Harley, and Chloe, she was in her first year.
Lily found it incredibly easy to talk to all of them, and predictably, they had covered an array of topics by the time the food trolley had arrived. She found herself deeply relaxed for the first time since she had received her letter, with a pumpkin juice in hand, listening to Amanda and Trisha give them the ‘four one one’ on the boys of Hogwarts.
“Lucius Malfoy is a real arsehole. He’ll break your heart if you’re not careful. Then there’s his horde of Slytherins. No matter how charming any of them are, the best advice is to stay away. They want a lot, if you girls catch on. Then there are the Hufflepuff boys. Most of them are pretty nice but you should still watch your back with them. Sometimes you may think you know a person and then they turn around and do something crazy. The Ravenclaws are okay, if you like brainy boys. Then there is Zachary Mills. He is totally adorable in a baby kind of way, but if you’re looking for someone who’s more on the macho man genre, then you want Nolan Kaving. He's hot, cool, and a total show-off." That's totally not the type of boy I am going to be looking for. My boy will be caring, affectionate, and anything but arrogant.
"So," said Sirius thoughtfully. "How many girls do you think we could err...reel in," he said with a wary look to see how Averill would respond.
"Well, if you treat girls like they're fish, we're looking at about zero. Why? Are you making it a tournament to see how many girls you can make go crazy over you?" Averill smirked doubtfully.
"No, I'm just trying to plan ahead." said Sirius defensively.
"Right. I'm not stupid. But for the record there are about five girls in each house, so five times four is about twenty girls, minus me, so it will be roughly nineteen, so you have to give or take a few."
“And we could probably catch some second years, too, I bet,” said Sirius, multiplying it out in his head.
James nodded and moved his knight up a space that proved to be a bad move on his part, as Sirius’ queen took the liberty of smashing it to the size and width of a Knut.
"Ha! I won. Again!" Sirius stood up triumphantly. Averill looked at them over the top of her book. "Do you want to play again?"
"Sure," James shrugged.
"Aren't you guys tired yet? You have played three games of chess, two rounds of Gobstones and four games of Exploding Snap."
“What, do you want to play?”
“No, but haven’t you got bored with this by now, just sitting around? We need some excitement, to meet a couple of new people or something.”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” Sirius shrugged unconcernedly and looked at James. “Do you want another round?”
“Sure, why not,” Averill rolled her eyes. It goes in one ear and out the other with boys. Man, are they clueless.
The compartment door slid open and a group of five people entered, grinning evilly.
“My little cousin has finally started at Hogwarts. I should get a picture,” said the girl in the lead mockingly, looking pointedly at Sirius.
“You can take a picture of this,” snapped Sirius, with a hand gesture that shocked Averill.
“Not very friendly,” said the boy next to her. He had bleached blonde hair and Averill noticed he was wearing Slytherin robes.
“Oh, that’s just how he acts towards respectable pure-bloods. When he’s with Mudbloods and blood traitors he’s really quite sweet,”
“Bellatrix! Congratulations! I mean, it’s about time, after fourteen years we were beginning to wonder if you’d ever get a boyfriend. We were afraid that it might be your looks at first, but as you’ve used gallons of Hair Horrible hair dye, you’re much more pretty than you look naturally. So then, we were all left with the question, does she even like boys?” A couple of the group behind Bellatrix sneered involuntarily, causing Bellatrix to give them a nasty look.
“That would be none other than the blood traitor, Averill Austavaughn. I’m sure none of you have ever heard of her, ever since she was born her parents have pretended she doesn’t exist. In fact, she spends so much time at my cousin's house, I’d say her parents have quite forgotten that she’s their daughter,” Bellatrix grinned evilly.
“Take it back,” Sirius snarled, advancing on his cousin, his wand out.
“Ha! What will you do, disarm me? In case you’ve never been taught to count, you two are outnumbered two to five.”
“In case you can’t count…Bellatrix, is it…there are three of us, and five of you,” said James, and Bellatrix along with her four friends, noticed him for the first time.
“You’ve taught me some useful things, Bellatrix. I am not going to waste my time on someone like you. Kno…” But before Sirius had even finished his spell, Averill cut him off.
“Goodbye, Bellatrix.” She pointed her wand at the dark haired girl, than turned it sharply across the hall, ramming Bellatrix into the compartment door behind them. The other Slytherins guffawed stupidly, apart from Malfoy, the pale boy with blond hair, who stalked into the room angrily.
“I’ll teach you to mess with a Slytherin.” He growled in a threatening voice, now quite close to Averill. Undaunted, Averill glared back into the cold gray eyes.
“I’m scared,” She said sarcastically through gritted teeth.
“You should be.” He was now in front of all of them, as they had all drawn together instinctively.
“No, I think…” James kicked out hard at the same time Averill punched, and just moments before Sirius hit him with a Knock-Back Jinx. “That you’re the one who should be scared.” Averill smiled as she watched both Bellatrix and Malfoy stagger back to their feet.
“Listen, little girl,” said one of the other boys, who wasn’t wearing Slytherin robes. He wasn’t even in his second year and he certainly did not belong to a House yet. But he seemed sure of himself that he would be put in Slytherin. “As fourth years, they can do spells that you can’t even pronounce.” Averill looked at him as though just now seeing him…but in a whole new light.
“I didn’t catch your name,” she said softly.
“Because I didn’t throw it.”
“Do you mind swapping?” She was now closer to him, right in his face, yet not menacing.
“Kieran Knight,” he said.
“Kieran…” said Averill, testing out the name. “Do you want to swap Floo powder addresses…or maybe a couple of punches,” she said this and he barely had a moment to register what she had said before he too, had been punched in the face.
“Bloody hell, Avi, you sure like punching people.” James noted.
“I have seven brothers, James, I have learned my fair share of boxing.”
“Who are you?” Bellatrix snapped at James.
“Potter?” Bellatrix spat distastefully.
“Yes.” James replied, his voice nothing short of dignified.
“As in, Margaret and Samuel Potter's son? The blood traitors who value Mudbloods above their own kind?”
“That would be me,” said James.
“You know the problem with society today?” asked Averill. “I’ll tell you, as I am sure that you lot are too mental to know left from right anyways. It’s people thinking that they are different, better or worse than another, using words like 'your kind'. People like you are the ones who ruin the world for everyone.”
The trio walked out into the hall where Bellatrix was standing with Malfoy and the other Slytherins who had backed out of the way after Averill threw her punch at Knight. True to form, heads were starting to peer out the doors to see what all the commotion was about.
“And it’s people like you, Austavaughn, that ruin the world for respectable pure-bloods, like myself with your nonsense talk of equal rights to Mudbloods,” James, suddenly enraged, threw himself at Bellatrix. Sirius soon found himself in a fist fight with Severus Snape, a greasy-haired first year boy he had met a few years back at a Ministry of Magic party, where their fathers had all been invited.
Averill looked around at the remaining three, Knight, Malfoy, and a boy she hadn’t yet met.
“I’m not going to fight you,” she said mockingly. “I might break a nail.”
“I can guarantee you, that you would break a lot more than that,” said Malfoy.
“Yeah. I might break your spirit. Too bad I don’t give a bloody damn,” she whipped her wand in a slashing moment, leaving a bloody gash across his face.
“Black! Get off him!” yelled a voice. “Let me through, I’m a prefect! Break it up! Black! I told you to get off of that boy. If you suffocate him, you’ll find yourself trying to take owl post courses,” Sirius threw Snape off of him, and Averill looked up innocently. But the voice did nothing to faze Bellatrix Black. She rolled her fist up into a ball and it made contact…just above James’ temple, sending him spiraling into blackness.
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