Chapter 4 : Before King's Cross
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“So how much money do you want to bring?” my mum asked, skimming through her wallet with a frown.
“Oh, a few thousands,” I replied casually. She gave me a wry glare.
“I can’t give you a few thousands, seeing as I don’t have one,” she said with amused annoyance.
“I know. You did ask me how much I wanted though.”
My mum smiled at my reply and I felt a familiar nostalgic tug at my heart. What would I do without her? I’ve never spent more than a week away from her. She was too natural a part of my life. Like breathing. Because if I breathed, she’d be there. If I lived, she’d be there, helping me do it. But I was a strong, independent person (I kept telling myself), and I’d manage somehow. My biggest concern was what she’d do without me.
As if she read my thoughts, my mum rose up from the uncomfortable motel bed (the kind that falls apart if more than one person tried to sit on it), walked up to me and hugged me tightly. She smelled like lavender and roses. I felt like crying, but wouldn’t, for her. Instead, I sighed and closed my eyes. Nothing felt quite as good as mum’s hug.
It was August 31st and my heart was about to burst from my chest. I was so excited that I felt like ripping my skin off just to have something to pass the time with. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t think properly. I felt like I drank thirty cups of coffee, eaten twenty chocolate ice creams and had about ten pounds of sugar on top of that. I was like a bee buzzing around trying to find a flower field large enough for all her little hive pals to feast on. Only I wasn’t searching for anything. I just buzzed.
My mum and I spent the night in a small motel in London, called the Purple Plum Inn, located conveniently close to the King’s Cross station. Snuff was home. I wondered in which state my mum would find the house and the back yard when she returned.
Before we left, he had trotted up on his short furry legs and sat in front of me, cocking his head left in curiosity. I’d bent down to give him a hug.
“Oh Snuff, you spoiled rotten little suck up,” I cooed. “I’m gonna miss you so much! I wish I could take you with me, but I need you here with my mum to keep her company.” He pawed at me and licked my face with his smooth pink tongue. Disgusting, but so endearing.
Sooner than I realized, it was evening. After that, it was night. I lay in my bed, facing the window which the night had colored black. Pinned to the soft dark satin was the moon and a million of stars, shining so brightly that they kept my eyes wide open until the wee hours of the morning. Though it easily might’ve been the excitement that did it. In any way, I lay there, thinking.
I had spent the most of my summer cramming stuff which I should’ve already been familiar with: history of magic, magical theory and laws of the magic community (quite a number of those, especially for underage wizards), common spells, divination (which I was particularly good at), potion making (which I was particularly bad at), some basic knowledge of astronomy and herbology, and Arithmancy, which I had soon replaced with Care of Magical Creatures –causing a nice amount of dislike for me from Professor Vector, who complained I had wasted her precious time with my ‘immense lack of interest and concentration for the simplest of assignments’. Really, I never was good with numbers.
A chimney was created in my house for obvious purposes. Professors zoomed in and out of it with such frequency that I almost got dizzy. Sometimes they’d forget some of the teaching tools they brought so they’d floo in even more frequently than necessary. Snuff was quite annoyed.
Now, though, I felt like all of my hastily crammed up knowledge had evaporated from my head and I was the dumbest magical person alive. If a line of all magical beings in the world was formed by the order of how well magically educated the being was, I’d probably be the last one in it. Behind the flobberworm. I didn’t do well under pressure, and for the past month and a half I was forced to remember five years worth amount of knowledge.
There was one break though, during which I’d tried my best not to think about the mountain of homework that waited for me back in Ireland – Hogwarts. Yes, that’s right. I had visited the weirdly titled school of witchcraft that would be my home for the last two years of my official childhood. And, I had met Dumbledore, the Headmaster.
“Ah, the infamous Miss Bathory,” he had said. “I trust you found the package I had sent you to your liking?”
“Yes, it was very to my liking. Thanks, sir,” I’d replied.
It was a box full of sweets that arrived some half hour before the end of my sixteenth birthday, with a note from Dumbledore himself. I had probably gained about ten pounds the following week. It was such a nice gesture. The blood-flavoured lollypops were a too obvious reference to my vampiric ancestry, really, but it made me smile. Or maybe it was just a coincidence.
Although, if it was some kind of check to see if the genes had survived and I was a bloodsucking monster, it didn’t work. Or it worked, and I wasn’t. I still hated blood and the sickening metallic smell and taste of it. My great ancestor was a nutcase.
Anyway, I found out that I the reason why I hadn’t received any magical education from my country was because no data of my magical birth had been registered. I was simply yet another Muggle child born in an ordinary Muggle hospital in an ordinary Muggle province. There was no report at all of the baby Ada being a magical baby. Knowing my country, it wasn’t too hard to believe.
t here, every child witch or a wizard would be detected by a really smart quill off somewhere and written down in a large book annually checked by the deputy headmaster Gregorius Medusa. So, when my mum and I moved to Ireland fleeing murder, a name Ada Bathory had mysteriously appeared amongst the firsties who were lucky enough to have grown up in a normal country, and sparked the interest of a quirky Charms professor of Britain’s finest magic school.
I had also met the Sorting Hat that day in Hogwarts.
“An intruder in the Headmaster’s office, eh?” a voice had said after I stumbled from the fireplace in the seemingly empty headquarters. I’d jumped a little, swiveling around and glancing suspiciously at the sleeping portraits, trying to decide from which direction it came.
There was a muffled snicker. “Don’t look at those old paintings; though wise, you shall find no answers you seek there,” the voice said.
It came from my right, from a shelf.
I slowly took a few steps towards the hat. I reached out a tentative hand to pick it up, and jumped back when a rip opened and the voice exclaimed, “Now, now! Do not be frightened of the old Sorting Hat! Put me on your head instead, if you want to know which house you ought to be.”
I frowned, but did as it said. I knew I was supposed to get sorted, so why wait for company? I preferred to do things solitary anyway. The brim fell over my eyes and all I saw were shadows.
“A tricky one. Yes, yes indeed. Hmmm… where to put you?” the voice inside my head pondered. “Doesn’t even know what each house represents… ah. I should’ve sang the Sorting Song… oh well, perhaps not… perhaps it is better if you don’t have a chance to decide for yourself.”
I sighed, waiting for it to begin.
“Ah, there it is. A sharp, bright mind, if somewhat slow to deduction – doesn’t quite care for the academics and education, though, so no, not Ravenclaw. Loyal, strong sense of morality, a free spirit… not a small dose of ambition, either – perhaps Slytherin?”
Whatever, I thought. Just get it over with.
“Hates to waste time… tsk tsk tsk, so impatient… not a trait of a Hufflepuff.” I drummed my fingers on the desk while the Hat mused some more about my flaws and qualities. “Stubborn, yes, extremely stubborn… Yes. Of course. Two houses so different, and yet so alike. Slytherin or Gryffindor?”
My tiny, traumatized brain jumped with remembrance at the latter. When we were in Diagon Alley that day, Professor had recognized the two boys as Gryffindors. They had seemed really nice. After, I had wondered how it would feel, being their friend – since the two of them were the only teenage wizards I had so far known, even though I hadn’t really met them properly. I thought about them often, and found myself somewhat fascinated by them. The mousy little boy was like a younger brother, quiet and awkward but lovable at the same time. I’d wondered if he ever had a girlfriend. Somehow, I didn’t think so. If my guess was correct, I’d be sure to give him advice on how to get one. If I were his friend, that is.
The taller boy, the one with the sand-colored hair and warm smile, would be a great friend, I imagined. Relaxed, easy-going, witty, patient, comforting, helpful to a self-conscious newbie witch who may or may not have developed a small crush on him.
In my head, they were already my friends. I realized that I wanted that to happen in reality, too.
“Gryffindor,” I’d said instinctively, forgetting for the moment that the Hat could read my thoughts. “Can I be Gryffindor?”
The Hat gave something similar to a sigh. “And here I was prepared to tell you the ways of house Slytherin. But very well, if that is your wish, you may as well be Gryffindor. Bonds, I suppose, are more important than stealth – for some.”
The last line told by the Hat had me wondering many restless nights. If it asked me out straight, what would I have preferred – bonds or stealth – I would’ve chosen the latter. Bonds I could always have. But stealth? I wanted that. I needed that. Another attempt of murder could be waiting just behind the corner – I couldn’t depend on my friends to save me.
If I had been a Slytherin, perhaps I would’ve actually obtained independence instead of always convincing myself and everyone else that I had it. As much as I hated to admit it, I was highly dependent. Of my mum. Of my own, perfect, dreamed of world. The things that saved my sanity at times I thought I’d lose it irrevocably. I wanted to be free of that. I wanted to be my own person, depending of nothing and no one. I wondered if Slytherin would’ve given me that.
But it was futile to wonder. No one could be sorted twice.
I sighed. At times I’d get lost in my thoughts, and then the time would be no more than a figment of others’ imagination, created specifically with the sole purpose to get on my nerves – so I’d completely tune it off. The night had passed by quickly.
At some point I had apparently thought myself to sleep, because then it was time for breakfast. I felt like I’d throw up. But I ate it anyway, to give my mum a reason to smile, as small as it was.
Then it was time to go.
We arrived to King’s Cross at quarter to eleven. My heart was jumping in my chest insanely and my insides turned every time I realized that it was, so I tried my best not to think at all. My mind was filled with white fog and a false sense of calm – the kind to vanish at the first hint of reality. But if it kept me from throwing up the cereal, it’ll do.
I noticed the barrier which divided the gloomy grayness of the station from the magical platform 9¾. I walked towards it, my mum following. I stopped a foot from it and stared.
Solid and real. Such a normal, typical part of reality. I needed to break through it, to leave it behind.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. The step was there. All I needed to do was take it.
I had anticipated this moment ever since the moment Professor and McGonagall appeared on my doorstep month and a half ago, but now that it was here, I almost didn’t want to go. The moment I stepped through that barrier, I’d be leaving my whole life behind.
The good and the bad, the welcome parts of existence. Everything I ever knew, everything I was ever familiar with would be gone, replaced with… I didn’t know what. I was staring into an oblivion.
And I thought I had it bad when we were moving to another country.
A/N: Okay, yes, I know, slower than a dead snail, but bear with me please. The fun starts in the next one :D In it Ada gets to meet some OCs (yay!), the Marauders (doubleplus yay!), Lily and some other canon characters I played with.
Btw… I have a one-shot up. It’s about a really annoying, superficial OC who was Remus’s girlfriend in their fifth year and some stuff that happened between them. ^_^ So if that sounds interesting, you know what to do ^^ BUT, before that, review? Pretty please with strawberries and cherries and bananas on top? :]
Update: Okay, here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna wrap this up right here and start another story that continues where this left off. Basically, this 4 chappies just got demoted to a prequel for the real FTSTT, which is currently waiting in queue with what would here be a chappie 5. I just prefer it that way, since I've changed my mind a lot about the original storyline and it has become something else entirely. Sorry for the inconvenience, hope you don't mind. :]