Chapter 1 : The Art of Keeping Quiet
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. All I've got is the Original Characters and the plot.
I pulled my collar tighter as I walked quickly down the platform, my school bag tucked under my arm. It was a chilly September morning, almost cold enough for a coat but not quite. Glancing around at the bustling crowd, I smiled.
Already that day, I’d seen scores of unhappy children, dressed from head to foot in stiff uniforms, complaining that they didn’t want to return to school as their parents bundled them on to crammed trains.
Now, however, I could see nothing of the sort, only the excited faces of kids who were so desperate to go back to school they had put on their school uniforms my choice, and were hastily waving their parents away.
Magic had that effect on people. When you weren’t going several hundred miles away from home to learn maths or science, boarding school began to look a bit more inviting. I smiled to myself, thinking of her unfortunate stepsisters, who, unlike me, are not magical. They were on the way to a stuffy old place somewhere in Kent, which was where I would have been headed if I hadn’t ended up at Hogwarts.
I checked my watch, and saw that it was five to eleven. I had said goodbye to my father and Lydia, my stepmother before I crossed the barrier to Platform 9 ¾ and so, stepped onto the train to find a compartment before they were all full. I supposed I would have to look for my mates later.
I spun round, knowing who had used the only nickname I allowed, and grinned as my best mate came hurtling towards me, knocking an unsuspecting first year out of the way as he did so.
People were always surprised when they realised who my friends were. No one expected Quidditch extraordinaire James Potter, son of the most famous man in the country and so called mischief machine to even know my name.
“Come on! Mum wants to see you!” James said excitedly, grabbing my upper arm and tugging me towards his family. The Potters, who usually managed to conjure a couple of gasps and maybe an ‘oh my god’ wherever they went, I had discovered, were no less normal than my family. Heck, they were even more normal than my pathetic excuse for a family.
“Charlotte!” Ginny Potter exclaimed, as soon as James had let me go “It’s lovely to see you!” I smiled as James’ mum hugged me. She was a lovely lady, with straight fire engine red hair. I said hello, and was just about to say hello to James’ dad when Lily pounced. James’ little sister was, to be completely honest, more like my sister than my real ones.
After Lily had let go, I said hello to Harry and James’ brother Albus, who was looking intellectually bored, as usual, from behind a pair of square glasses. Even Rose Weasley lifted her nose out of whatever book she was into at the moment to acknowledge my ‘good morning’.
The whistle blew, and all at once, there was a mad scramble to get on the train. With a ladylike squeal, James kissed his mother’s cheek and man-hugged his dad and, taking the time to grab me again, pushed through the crowd and made it onto the train.
“Could you not do that?” I asked him scathingly. He shot me a look in return.
“Now where’s the fun in that?” he asked, a smirk on his face as he searched the carriages for a free compartment. I sighed, knowing he would search until we’d either fallen off the end of the train or ended up sitting in the smelly carriage the luggage travels in.
“I don’t think there’s any free ones.” I volunteered, before it could go that far, as James huffed in annoyance.
“Really?” he asked sarcastically. I raised my eyebrows in a ‘don’t you take that tone with me’ sort of way.
“Well…we could just steal a compartment, unless you think that would be unsuitable behaviour…”
And right at that moment, as if he could sense that we needed him, came Anthony Wood. He’s a sixth year but he must be at least a foot taller than me, although that isn’t much of an achievement. Most people are taller than me. James’ fourteen-year-old sister is taller than me. Only just, though.
“Splinters!” James cried jovially “just in time too.” Anthony, or Tony as most, ordinary people know him, rolled his eyes at his nickname.
“What d’you need?” he asked, in a thick Scottish accent.
“See if you can’t kick those four out of that compartment.” James said, pointing in the direction of a compartment where four nasty Slytherin fourth years sat. I recognised them all at once, because all four of them were on the Slytherin Quidditch team and I could not tell you how many times I’ve finished Quidditch strategies with their names on when James falls asleep half way through.
Anyway, Tony rolled his eyes, as he does very often, and pushed the compartment door open.
“What d’you want?” was all I heard. A quick exchange of words, probably a promise of violence or two and a couple of swears later and the four Slytherins came trudging out, looking fit to murder.
Tony followed and leant against the doorframe as I walked inside after James.
“Right ‘en Splinters, see you round.” He said, turning to the burly sixth year and giving him a mock salute. Tony looked slightly affronted.
“So, I free you a compartment and don’t even get to sit down?” he asked. James waved the question away.
“Only if you find the others.” He said.
Tony rolled his eyes and stepped out again. “Aye aye Captain.” He said sarcastically.
“You’re lucky,” I said once Tony had vacated the room. James looked at me.
“How so?” He asked.
“If you weren’t the one who chooses who gets on the Quidditch team, I don’t think he’d ever do anything for you.”
“Ah, lucky then, Charlie boy, that I am the captain then eh?” He replied with a smirk. I glared.
“Don’t call me Charlie boy.” I said, throwing my hat at him. He just laughed.
By now, the train had sped up to full speed and was shooting through the blur that was the English countryside. I watched it for a while, both of us in complete silence. It wasn’t a bad silence though, like the kind that always descends on me while I’m sitting with someone I don’t know too well. James and me have always been pretty damn good at comfortable silence.
We sat like that for about twenty minutes, until the door slid open, hitting the frame with a bang. No need to look up, I thought. It was, of course, just Splinters returning with the rest.
When I thought about it, I realised that I didn’t know the others very well. They were Quidditch nuts. What my muggle movie loving stepsisters would have termed ‘jocks’, after their American football playing muggle counterparts.
Tony ‘Splinters’ Wood was just the tip of the iceberg. There was Becky McOwen, a tiny girl, but still taller than me, who was the best damn seeker Gryffindor have had since Harry Potter played. After her, stood the stocky figure of Bludgers, the other beater, who was even taller than Tony and three times as scary. They all took their seats, and immediately, inevitably, even, they began to discuss Quidditch.
Now, I should mention that I absolutely despise that ridiculous game. You would too if you’d fallen five feet from a broom the very first time you’d tried to ride one and broken your wrist. And not forgetting the strategies I’ve done for James. But I may have mentioned them already.
And so that was how I spent the remaining four hours, twenty-two minutes and forty five seconds (I know because I counted). Ignoring and being ignored. Fun fun fun.
We got off the train, after having changed into our school robes. Actually, I changed. They all slung their robes over their jeans and t-shirts. It’s because they’re cooler than I am. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
I’d managed to forget my new school skirt, and instead was stuck with my third year one, which is more like a fecking mini skirt than a school one.
So I pulled my robes tighter and hoped no one could see. Before I got a chance to, I could have sworn Tony Wood was eyeing me up, although that’s probably how he looks all the time.
Hoping I hadn’t given anyone too much of an eyeful, I pretended to be extremely interested in my scratched prefects badge (hey, I’ve had the damn thing since I was fifteen), as the five hour quidditch debate continued. I wondered if they’d even notice if I threw myself from the carriage.
Anyway, before I get lost in the throws of cynicism, I might just tell you that I can see thestrals. No one else can, that I know of, because none of them have seen anyone die. I’ve never told anyone I could see those skeletal horses, not even James. And that’s saying something.
But I reckon that’s a story for another time.
By the time we reached the great hall, I was about ready to point my wand at my forehead and see what happened.
I suppose this is why I stomped off as soon as the carriage stopped. I heard them question this from behind me, but I ignored them and went to sit at the Gryffindor table.
I wont go into seating arrangements, but I will say that they change. All the time. I ended up quite near the top table where the teachers sat. Across from me, Lily Potter sat down, cocking her head to the side when she noticed I was alone.
“Quidditch.” I said. She nodded.
“Hey Lillers,” I glanced at the newcomer, and recognised him as one of James’ quidditch nuts. Or I should say, would be quidditch nuts. The boy has no talent, and a think he might have a teeny crush on James as well, which I think James knows. Not that I was ever going to explain this to him.
“Ollie. Haven’t I told you not to call me that?” she replied tiredly, by way of greeting.
I smiled to myself. He hadn’t noticed I was there, or he’d be blushing madly and asking me to tell James this, that or the other.
“Well yes, but-” he stammered, but Lily held up her hand before he finished.
“Not now Ollie, I don’t have time to listen to you worship my brother.” She said harshly. He glanced at me, but I was busy pretending to be extremely interested in my fingernails.
Ten minutes later, the double doors swung open and hit the walls with a loud double bang. I’ve always thought Professor Vector lives for that moment. She only became Depute in my second year, and she always gets this really happy, excitable expression when she bangs the doors off the walls.
Anyway, the usual line of first years followed her down in between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables towards the sorting hat, and despite the stories where it bursts into flames on Professor Longbottom’s head, it looks as shabby today as it did six years ago. I don’t think those stories would be any comfort to the terrified little first years.
They gathered in a group at the top, and Vector smiled as she surveyed them.
“When I call your name, step forward.” She said, unrolling a scroll of parchment.
“Corner, Abraham” she said, and the first boy stepped forward to be sorted. Coincidently, he was placed in Hufflepuff. And so it continued.
I was just half listening, until I noticed something. There were two sets of twins. Either that, or I was seeing things. It was a half-assed observation, but it was mildly interesting.
I waited, until Artemis Lewis; one of the twins was called up. She sat on the stool, obviously shaking like a leaf, and the hat was placed on her head until it opened its ‘mouth’ and bellowed the word ‘Gryffindor’ as loud as it could.
After she had sat down, her sister was called up.
Leto and Artemis? Someone’s parents had been reading a bit too much Greek mythology.
Leto was placed in Gryffindor too.
“Malfoy, Persephone.” A hush descended as the younger sister of Scorpius Malfoy walked gracefully to the stool and sat down. The hat fell over her eyes and everyone braced themselves for another Slytherin.
I looked up, along with the rest of the students. A Ravenclaw? Had we heard correctly?
It appeared that yes, we had, as the girl sat down at the Ravenclaw table, looking like she hadn’t noticed that half the hall was staring at her.
“Phoebe Malfoy.” Vector stuttered, forgetting to put the last name first.
Persephone Malfoy’s sister took her seat on the stool, and the hat fell over her enraged expression. This time, the hat stayed true to tradition and placed her in Slytherin.
The rest of the sorting was nowhere near as interesting. I won’t bore you with it.
But another Weasley joined the ranks. And a Longbottom as well. Roxy Weasley, eleven-year-old sister of Fred, who was fifth year, and Vicky Longbottom, who smiled constantly, just like her mother. Both ended up in Gryffindor.
After dinner, which was lovely, I stood up and called the Gryffindor first years to attention. I knew that Rose Weasley probably wanted to do it, but she was all the way back at the doors, and I was much nearer to the first years than she was.
“First years, come here please.” I said, loud as I could.
Noone paid any attention.
“For Merlin’s sake Charlotte,” I jumped at the unexpected interruption. William Bedwin had to be the sneakiest, quietest boy I knew. My patrol partner since fifth year, we were friends in a weird way. He was the sort of person who looked down on anyone who didn’t get ‘O’s in exams. With him, intelligence was everything. Luckily, I was one of the few he could stand, so we got along just fine.
“Hello to you too Will,” I said cheerily. He rolled his black eyes at me as he towered over the kids infront of him.
“Oi! First years! Come on! Follow us!” he bellowed. None of them moved. “Now!”
That did the trick.
The terrified first years hurried after Will as he strode ahead.
“Hello everyone,” I said, taking some initiative “I’m Charlotte and I am the seventh year prefect for Gryffindor.”
We took them upstairs, allowing the oohs and aahs, which, by the time we’d reached the sixth floor, were seriously beginning to get old. And I mean Professor Binns old. And he’s a ghost.
“And here’s the fat lady.” I said, pointing to the portrait, who smiled and waved at the apprehensive crowd infront of her.
A girl scoffed, and I immediately recognised her.
“You’re Demeter Vane’s sister aren’t you?” I asked. The girl nodded in a superior way.
“Louisa Vane.” She said pompously. I nodded, noticing how the girl looked exactly like her sister, who was the year younger than me, and a complete bimbo. I wondered if the hat was going senile in its old age.
“Password?” the fat lady asked. Will stepped forward and spoke in the loud, clear voice he rarely used “doxy eggs.”
I made a face. What a horrible password.
“Erm…’scuse me,” I looked down at Artemis Lewis, who had tugged on my sleeve “I was wondering, what’s a doxy? It isn’t in any of my textbooks.”
I smiled. This little girl was me in miniature. I’d asked the head girl at the time what a hippogriff was. I smiled more, remembering.
“It’s a nasty type of fairy. Poisonous. Not nice when they bite you, I can tell you.” I told her. She recoiled in surprise.
“You’ve been bitten?” she asked incredulously. I nodded, remembering that summer at Grimauld place, where we found a nest of doxies in the cupboard in one of the upstairs rooms. We weren’t even supposed to be there. James’ dad had needed to grab a couple of things from upstairs and we wandered off. And ended up in St Mungos for our trouble.
After showing the first years where their dormitories were, I went back downstairs. Will had disappeared, probably into his own dormitory to replace the shield charm on his bed. James was pretty big on pranks.
I wondered where he was then, because I hadn’t seen him since I’d stormed off in a huff earlier. That always happened, though, on the first night. We both had our duties. The only difference was, his were more often dedicated to causing trouble rather than preventing it.
I left the common room, intending to head down to the kitchen. I had a feeling he was down there, because there hadn’t been any gateau at dinner, and I know he can’t go more than a week without it. He’s pretty much addicted.
I stuck my hands in my robe pockets, after unbuttoning it. It was getting a little bit warm, and I decided that there was no one around to notice that my skirt was too short.
I rounded the corner and stopped dead. I think my heart must have stopped too, because the silence that followed was deadening. Because I knew I would never forget what I was seeing.
James Potter and Demeter Vane completely wrapped up in each other.
Shocked, it felt like I had no insides left. Because, funnily enough, seeing him kissing Demeter Vane, well it made me want to throw up.
…Well, that was new.
I know I should be concentrating on my other stories but I had to get this one out, so love it? hate it? don't mind it? Just leave a review and let me know :)
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