Goose bumps erupted all over my arm the instant Ted touched it, and I felt my pulse race.
"Are, um, are you guys sure you're ok?" Ted's words didn't have me entirely convinced.
"Believe me," Shrouder answered, "they came out worse."
"There aren't any available seats," I said as we continued walking down the corridor, not being able to think of something else.
"Well," Ted started, he and Shrouder sharing a grin, "there should be some now. C'mon."
I followed the boys to the front of the train and watched as they slowly opened the first compartment door and peeked in.
They opened the door the rest of the way, grabbed their trunks, and headed in. I followed into the Heads' Compartment.
"Should we really be in here?" I asked tentatively, always being the one who tried not to break rules.
"Don't worry, this isn't the first time we've spent the train ride in here. Unfortunately, though, the witch with the food cart doesn't come here."
I shrugged and sat, still feeling a bit uncomfortable, even though I felt safe.
We spent the next hour or so just talking, getting to know each other, or rather Ted and Shrouder getting to know me and vice versa; although I did let Ted and Shrouder dominate the conversation.
"I'm going to go get changed into my school robes," I said, reaching for my trunk.
The two boys stared at me. "You mean you don't trust us?" Ted asked mockingly.
"Not when you say that," I answered, smiling. I closed my trunk and headed for the door.
I turned around to face Ted.
"You know we're friends now, right?"
I couldn't speak, so I smiled and nodded instead. I could never remember feeling happier in all my life. I had friends, two friends. I think I smiled again and finally forced out, "Right," still unable to think properly for fear that I'd find myself only in a dream.
I began the long journey back down the train to the bathroom, and found that I didn't even care as I passed the compartment with my sister and the other Slytherins. I locked myself in the bathroom and changed fairly quickly - I wanted to get back to my compartment - and without incident in the small room. Grabbing my clothes, I opened the door.
My breath caught in my throat and my body erupted in a cold, clammy, sweat. "What do you want?" I asked as bravely as I felt, which wasn't at all.
I was pushed back into the bathroom by Joe Greenth and his two cronies from my sister's compartment as they entered the bathroom and closed the door behind them. I was pinned between Greenth and the wall, and he held my arms tight to my sides.
"What do you want?" I asked again, even more desperately.
"Why Andromeda, we haven't been to see you in a while, we'd thought we'd come and... make your day," Greenth said slyly with a sick grin.
I felt nauseous as I realized that this wouldn't be a short, quick 'visit.' He bent to kiss me, but I, somehow, managed to turn my head.
His quiet chuckle was sadistic.
"Oh, come now, Andromeda, it's not like we've never done this before."
"It's not like I had a choice before," I choked out, thinking back to the time that I'd knocked on a compartment door, and times after that.
"Then I guess this time won't be too different."
His jerks laughed, and I was about to cry. I was praying with every fiber of my terrified being that something, someone, would stop this from happening again.
It wasn't immediate, but my prayers were at last answered.
A knock at the bathroom door gave me hope, and when I heard Ted ask "Andromeda, are you still in there?" I knew I was saved.
Greenth's eyes told me not to say a word, but I needed to get out.
"Yeah, I just finished changing," I said, hoping that my voice didn't give away how frightened I felt.
Greenth glared at me, but he had to let me go; to start a fight that would take place in the train's corridor was a sure way to get caught. Thankfully, Greenth hadn't had time to begin removing my garments, and, with my clothes still clutched in my sweaty palm, I could get out fairly quickly.
The door was pushed open just enough for me to get through, and I stumbled out, Ted catching me before I hit the floor.
The relief and gratitude I felt as his arms caught me and me up was so immense that the tears that had been building up from fear now fell for a different reason entirely. I was crying, and I couldn't stop. I was so sure, now more than ever, that I did posses the ability to love, and that the one I loved was right beside me.