Chapter 1 : A Promising Year
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Hogwarts was different. That much was clear. It belonged to a whole other universe, and she was proud to be a part of it, however small a part. Even after five years of magical education, the wizarding world never ceased to amaze and fascinate her.
Growing up with Harry Potter had proven to be quite…entertaining, but in a bad way. She simply couldn’t believe what this young wizard was dealing with and she cherished an immense respect for him and for his friends. She admired his strong-heart and his – sometimes foolish – bravery. On top of that, he was a talented and gifted wizard: which is why, the year before, she had eagerly joined ‘Dumbledore’s Army’. She loved it; however, she knew it meant that great perils were to come, but she was willing to do whatever she could to help fight the Dark Lord – to fight for what she thought was right.
The train, as usual, was packed with talkative students. She spotted her friend Cho Chang sitting in a partly filled compartment and, pulling her trunk behind her, walked up to it. She hated to admit it, but ever since Cedric Diggory’s death, Cho was a completely different girl. She used to enjoy her company, but now, the poor girl was all over the place: good luck having one decent conversation. It was in moments like these Maria found herself wishing she had other friends - but she did, only at home, which meant she could only see them during the summer. She had no true friends at Hogwarts, yet she talked to pretty much everybody and hung out with people here and there. She was on rather good terms with everyone, still she felt like she fitted nowhere. Not that solitude bothered her, nor independence; she had her best friends at home.
The girls still chatted a bit, until the prefects were summoned to the head compartment. Maria, being one, slowly made her way to the front of the train. Her long brown-blondish hair swung with each of her strides, bouncing around her shoulders and falling in wild waves to the middle of her back.
She slid the glass door and entered, letting her big blue-green eyes ponder over the people already seated. ‘Nothing different, everyone’s the same,’ she thought to herself almost rolling her eyes. ‘How can they keep those clean faces when they know who’s out there?’ She clenched her fists at the thought. So far, it seemed like nobody cared about the world’s faith.
However, there was one person who looked different. Indeed, he looked preoccupied - almost scared. He was even paler, if that’s possible, and his eyebrows were furrowed. He had dark bags under his eyes and these had lost their usual sparkle that went with his trademark smirk. That last one too was missing. ‘Draco Malfoy? Scared? Right...’ She tried to ignore his pitiful face, but something inside her mind kept startling her, making her feel uneasy. She knew his state had to do with the Dark Lord’s return… he was a Malfoy after all. But that was only part of the reason; she felt sorry, seeing him like this. This thought made her sick. How could she be sorry for Malfoy? Why would she feel sorry for a cold-hearted, foul-mouthed, arrogant, big-headed, slimy, spoilt and evil Slytherin?
After a short, straight-to-the-point speech, McGonagall gave them a list of their prefect duties. The teenagers were then, to their own delight, dismissed. Maria hastily worked her way up to see Hermione Granger. She had been longing to ask her something.
The bushy-haired witch turned around and smiled welcomingly.
"Hi Maria. How is everything?"
That question really wasn’t worth asking these days.
"Fine, I guess. I was just wondering if the DA would be meeting again this year," she asked hopefully.
"Well," the other sixth-year hesitated, "listen, I really don’t know. It all depends on the others."
"Well, do you think people are going to want to do it again?" Maria asked, her hope fading.
"I hope so. I truly do. I mean, we’re going to need it now, aren’t we…"
Hermione was now looking at her feet, lost in her thoughts. Maria’s smile had also vanished completely.
"Now you’re a bloody happy bunch you two!" Ron said from behind them, surprising the both of them.
Maria and Hermione burst into laughter, Ron’s uplifting spirit rubbing off them. They spent the rest of the journey talking about silly things (Harry, Luna and Neville had joined too), which was incredibly relieving for all of them. Luna was a good friend of Maria, probably her closest one in the school. She liked being around her a lot because she never cared about what others thought of her; it was a pleasant change from the popular Cho.
The feast past incredibly slowly, since Maria’s mind wouldn’t shut off. What she had seen in the heads’ compartment kept intruding her thoughts time and time again. ‘What’s wrong with Malfoy? It surely didn’t look like he was faking. Even he’s not that good. What does this mean? Should I be worried? Should I do something? Am I the only one who’s noticed?..’ The questions kept coming, yet the answers where still nowhere to be found. She loathed unanswered questions.
"Ravenclaws, this way please! This will be you common room, it will be your home. No wandering about the castle after ten o’clock and breakfast is served at eight. Oh, and one last thing, don’t get lost for Merlin’s sake. You’re in Ravenclaw; you’re supposed to be intelligent! Now off to bed! Everyone!"
"You know, you’re going to be an incredible mother."
"Oh shut it Cho!"
Both girls headed to their dormitories, giggling and eager to start a new year that sure looked promising in good but also in bad ways.