Chapter 1 : Begin Here
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This was because Natalie was the newest student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, aside from the incoming first years. As if being the new girl wasn’t bad enough, she was also now a seventh year. It was the perfect recipe for a boring and depressing year.
Natalie leaned her head on the cool window, and watched as her every exhale formed a small layer of fog on the glass. She was sitting in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express with three boys she didn’t know, but she guessed they weren’t older than third years. The rain was now coming down so hard she could barely see outside the window, not that she would have any idea where they were anyway.
Natalie was raised in France by her only living relative, her aunt, Vera. By the time Natalie was eight years old, she had already lost her parents and her younger sister. She had never really gotten to know any of them, but she imagined what they were like every day. Vera, who was Natalie’s mother’s sister, would fill in Natalie’s memory with stories. She was only an infant when her parents were killed by some of Voldemort’s followers; she didn’t even have the smallest idea of what her father smelled like or the sound of her mother’s laughter.
Even with the tragedy of losing her family at such a young age, Natalie still had a fairly normal childhood. Vera was eclectic and eccentric, and she never married. She, unlike Natalie’s mother, had never been accepted to any sort of school for magic, so when she turned eighteen, she left her home in London to study in France. That’s where Natalie was raised, just outside of Paris. She loved France, and was completely surprised when she was accepted to Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. She’d heard stories from Vera about how her parents were special, but never imagined she would be special too. So a month and a half after her eleventh birthday, Natalie packed her things and went to Beauxbatons, a place that didn’t take very long to fall in love with. Most of her classmates were from Paris, so even her summers were exciting.
This was all until her seventeenth birthday. There was not a student in the world more excited for school. Natalie was finally in her last year. She couldn’t wait to learn the most advanced magic yet, spend time with all her friends, and even boss around some of the younger students. But the week after her birthday on July 13, Vera found out the company she worked for was transferring her. She had been the only one who grew up in London and by far had the best English. So after speaking to the Headmaster of a closer magical school, who just happened to be Dumbledore, Vera and Natalie packed up their things and moved.
And now Natalie sat, waiting for the train ride to be over so there would be something for her to do to take her mind off of how amazing her year would have been at Beauxbatons.
Finally, after what felt like three years later, the train slowly came to a stop and the doors opened. Natalie grabbed her trunk and a small box (that contained her pet – which happened to be a snake) and followed the crowd off the train. She saw a big, hairy man who had to be part giant (of course it was Hagrid) directing the first years towards a long dock flanked with small boats. She hoped she wasn’t supposed to categorize herself in with them, and followed the rest of the students into a line waiting for a carriage.
She didn’t say much on the ride up to the castle. Partly because she didn’t know the girls she was sitting with, and partly because she was mesmerized by the eerie looking black horse-like creatures that were pulling the carriages down the path. They climbed and climbed through the dark wooded area. Just as Natalie was thinking about how Hogwarts must be overrated, and couldn’t be more than just a cottage in the middle of the woods, they came up around a sharp turn. At the top of the hill stood the most magnificent building Natalie had ever seen. The castle dwarfed Beauxbatons by far. Natalie was speechless, and she couldn’t take her eyes off of the many towers rising up, each one higher than the next. She couldn’t imagine the size of the classrooms, or how big her dormitory would be. She saw the Great Room, it was the shortest part of the castle, but definitely covered the most area, and she gasped when she thought about how many students it must hold.
She was all smiles as the lights shining from different rooms twinkled in her eyes. She couldn’t wait to see how many books filled the library and how many different classrooms she would get to sit in. But this quickly faded with one thought: there was no way she wouldn’t get lost in a castle this size.
Her mind started buzzing at once with a million different embarrassing scenarios. Being late to every class on the first day, walking into the wrong room, never even making it to class. She almost had a stroke as the carriage slowly came to a stop.
The other girls in the carriage with her jumped down and started gossiping as they took their belongings down. They disappeared up a smaller, dark trail before Natalie even exhaled the breath she’d been holding in. Luckily, as she started to collect herself, a girl from the cart behind her was walking by already and stopped. “Are you new here?” she said, looking up at Natalie.
“Oh, yes,” Natalie said, she jumped to the ground and took out her trunk and snake so the carriage could move on and more students could unload. “I’m Natalie, I just came from Beauxbatons,” she said, extending her hand in the friendliest way.
“I knew it,” said the girl. She let go of her trunk handle to grab Natalie’s hand. She had big, bushy curls that bounced when she spoke, and she seemed to be struggling with a large, ginger-colored animal that was meowing, but looked way too big to be a cat. “You look way too old to be a first year. I’m Hermione.”
Natalie smiled. “Yeah, I’m actually a seventh year.”
“Oh cool, me too,” Hermione said. “I’m also in Gryffindor,” she said, nodding to the crest on Natalie’s robes. Beauxbatons didn’t have separate houses, so Natalie was still getting used to the fact that she was a Gryffindor now. To her relief, Dumbledore had let Natalie be Sorted into a house when they’d met to discuss her transferring, otherwise she’d be the tall, noticeably older girl standing in the sea of first years waiting to get Sorted in front of the whole school. “Looks like we’ll be roommates then!” Hermione said.
“How do you know?” Natalie asked as she adjusted the snake’s box under her arm to comfortably carry it along with her trunk.
“Well the dormitories are big here, and you live with all the girls in your house and level,” Hermione said. “There’s only two other seventh year girls in Gryffindor, Lavender and Parvati, but I haven’t’ seen them yet.”
“Oh, that’s so weird,” Natalie said as they started heading up to the castle. “Beauxbatons didn’t have houses, or boys,” she giggled. “So we all just had one roommate. It’s going to be so different here when I’m used to all girls.”
“What’s that about all girls?” a voice came from behind them. A disheveled boy with flaming red hair and freckles, visible in the moonlight, had caught up to them. Hermione rolled her eyes and smacked his arm, causing the bird cage he was carrying to shake and the owl inside to squawk loudly. “Shut up, lousy owl,” he said, holding the cage still.
“Ron this is Natalie, she just transferred from Beauxbatons,” Hermione said, motioning towards Natalie.
“Oh,” Ron said, a smug grin washing over his face. “Beauxbatons, huh? You wouldn’t happen to know-“ he said, but Hermione cut him off.
“No Ron, I’m sure she didn’t room with Fleur Delacour. And if she did she wouldn’t tell you about it,” she said.
“I was just going to ask,” he said to her. “Hey! What are you doing?!” Ron shouted behind him into the darkness.
“I’m coming, hold on,” another boy’s voice called. Another shadowy figure caught up to them, but by this time they were too far into the overhanging branches and Natalie could only make out his outline.
“Natalie, that’s Harry. Harry this is Natalie, she’s just come from Beauxbatons,” Hermione said.
“Hello,” Harry’s voice came.
“Hi,” Natalie said shyly, not even bothering to shake his hand, as she couldn’t even see her own hand in front of her face. She could only see a faint glare from Harry’s glasses.
They walked the rest of the way in silence, aside from the scuffling of their shoes on the dirt and the increasingly deep breaths they were taking. When they finally made it up to the castle, Hermione and Natalie left Harry and Ron before they could say anything else. They dropped their trunks off to be brought up to their rooms, and Natalie and Hermione made their way through the crowd of girls into the Great Room.
“Hey Hermione,” a smaller girl said as they waited to sit down. She had hair the exact same color as Ron’s, and Natalie would’ve bet her life that they were related.
“Oh hey Ginny, have a nice ride?” Hermione asked politely.
“Yeah, if you count Seamus making fun of Dean and Luna babbling on about Wrackspurts nice,” she said, laughing. She awkwardly peered across Hermione at Natalie.
“Oh, sorry, this is Natalie, she’s new,” is what Hermione shortened it to.
“Hello Natalie, I’m Ginny,” she said. The girls shook hands this time.
“Let me guess, related to Ron?” Natalie asked.
“Younger sister,” Ginny said, smiling warmly. “Don’t let it fool you though, I’m still better than him at almost everything.”
Natalie laughed as the girls finally got to the crowded Gryffindor table and sat down. Ron and Harry squeezed their way in between another group of Gryffindor boys across from the girls. Natalie finally got a look at Harry, and it was very hard for her to take her eyes away.
It was easy, though, when Dumbledore skipped his speech and a brilliant feast appeared on the table in front of them. The food, just like the castle, was more than anything Natalie had ever seen at Beauxbatons. Whole chickens and turkeys, mounds of pork and piles of steaks, giant buckets of roasted potatoes, endless plates of steamed carrots, broccoli, and yams, huge boats of gravy, and loaves and loaves of bread appeared on the table, all steaming like they’d just come out of the oven. Golden goblets of pumpkin juice could be gulped down and never seemed to get any emptier. The chatter that filled the great hall was immediately silenced, and the only sounds were the scraping of silverware and slurping of juice and the occasional belch, followed by laughter.
Not a voice was heard until all the students had pushed away from the tables, leaned back in their chairs, some of them choosing to unbutton their pants. That’s when Dumbledore spoke.
“Welcome!” his voice bellowed. “It’s been a long and lovely summer, and now we begin another year at Hogwarts. It’s a pleasure to see the familiar faces return, and it will be an honor to get to know the newcomers. There are just a few announcements to be made. First off, Professor Sprout would like to announce that special enchantments have been put on the greenhouses, so if you continue to steal from the tank of gillyweed, you will be found out,” he said. His eyes sternly scanned the room, stopping on a few Ravenclaw boys who were laughing. He added a quick wink before he spoke again. “Also, Madam Pince would like to remind everyone that the library is a place for studying and reading. If anyone would like to get to intimately know their significant others, please do so in your common rooms,” he nodded towards Madam Pince, who looks satisfied. “Or an empty classroom,” Dumbledore said, chuckling at his own joke. “And lastly, I am pleased to announce that this very Great Room will host five different dances throughout the year.”
The Great Hall erupted. Girls could be heard giggling and gossiping already. Boys could be heard groaning and complaining.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and the Great Hall was silent once more. “These dances are not to embarrass anyone, or make anyone dance for that matter. They’re to promote friendships between all of the houses. We’re learning, in these times, that it is better for a few to stand up together for good than for one alone to stand up for nothing.” Everyone in the Great Hall watched Dumbledore, most in amazement. “With that,” he said, suddenly cheerful, “enjoy your desserts and rest tomorrow, for Monday starts a brand new adventure!”
He sat down and the Great Hall exploded in cheer. The cheers intensified when the desserts appeared on the table. Carrot cakes and chocolate cakes and ice cream cakes, every different cookie imaginable, brownies and muffins and many different candies were suddenly on everyone’s mind, and quite quickly, on everyone’s plates.
“I don’t see,” Ron said, after taking a bite out of a chocolate muffin, “why he called classes ‘a brand new adventure’.”
Hermione, once again, rolled her eyes and ignored Ron’s comment. “Well I think the dances are a good idea.”
“You would think that,” Ginny said.
“What? I’m serious. It’s about time people started being friendly towards people in different houses,” Hermione said, taking a small bite of a scone.
“I’m friends with Luna,” Ginny noted.
“Yeah, you don’t have a friend in another house,” Ron said to Hermione, his mouth full.
Hermione scowled at him. “Luna’s…my friend, too,” she said hesitantly, and that was the last word on the matter.
Before Natalie knew it, she was upstairs in the Gryffindor common room with what she only guessed was every other student in the house. She had met a few other people in the house: Neville, Seamus, and a dark boy named Dean who Ginny was dating, and she finally met Parvati and Lavender. She didn’t dislike the two girls, but she could tell right away she would spend more time with Hermione. Lavender and Parvati were really friendly, but they did like to gossip about all the other students and they both were very, very concerned about their split ends.
The common room was like a big party, and Natalie wondered if it was like that every night. She was sitting with Hermione, Harry, Ron, and Neville, and being the oldest, they were seated on the best couch and chairs, right in front of the flickering fire.
“So how do you like Hogwarts so far?” Hermione asked.
Natalie looked around the common room. A group of third years were circled around two students playing a game of wizard chess. Some fourth and fifth years were swarming around a box with a WWW on the side, under which read Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. They were pulling out all sorts of gizmos and gadgets, some exploding, some smoking, some producing the strangest smells. Dean and Seamus were playing a loud game of exploding snap, with Ginny cheering every time Dean lost. “It’s really…amazing,” Natalie said in all honesty.
“You can’t possibly think that. It’s school,” Ron said.
“Yeah, but it’s so unlike Beauxbatons,” Natalie said. “There was never any place to relax like this. We didn’t have common rooms and we didn’t have a feast like that one. It wasn’t as…homey as this.”
Ron just shrugged it off and brought up his favorite Quidditch team’s last match. “So, what’s your schedule like?” Harry asked quietly while Ron was attempting to reenact one of the moves his favorite player did.
“I have Wednesday afternoons off,” Natalie said with a big smile.
“That’s it?” Harry asked, laughing.
“Yeah, why?” she replied.
“No reason, I just have Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons off. Oh, and Thursday mornings,” he said, laughing.
“What!?” Natalie exclaimed. “What are you taking, three classes?”
Harry laughed and pulled out his schedule. Natalie followed, and they sat quietly for a few minutes examining the others’ classes.
“Well,” Harry finally said, “we have a few together. And we both have Astronomy at 10:00 on Wednesday nights.”
“We didn’t have Astronomy at Beauxbatons. I was a little hesitant to sign up for it, how’s going to class at 10:00?” she asked.
“It’s really not bad at all,” Harry said, scooting closer to Natalie as Ron spread his arms wide, still deep into his Quidditch story. “Ron and Hermione didn’t take it again, but I liked it.”
“Even though it’s so late?”
“Yeah, well it’s not so bad. I mean, we’d still be awake if we were in here.”
“That’s true,” Natalie shrugged. “So,” she said, bringing her knees up and tucking in her feet, “what should I know about Hogwarts?”
Harry laughed. “Where to begin?” Natalie laughed as well. “Well, for the first day, avoid the Slytherin ghost, don’t make eye contact with Professor Snape, and don’t ever use the girls’ bathroom on the third floor.”
“Hm,” Natalie said, “I think I can remember that.” They both smiled and joined in Ron’s conversation.
Everyone spent the next day relaxing and sharing stories about their summers. Hermione, Harry, and Ron asked Natalie tons of questions about Beauxbatons, and she asked an equal amount about Hogwarts. By the end of the day, Natalie was wondering how much weight she would gain at Hogwarts. She was a thin girl, but the three meals that day were just as extravagant and large as the feast from the night before.
They spent the night hanging out in the common room again. It was just what Natalie needed after a week of stressing about being the new girl. It wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be, only because she met Hermione.
As Harry and Natalie bombarded each other with questions in front of the fire again, Ron slipped away to sit near Hermione, who already had her nose in a book. “They’ve sure taken a liking to each other,” he whispered, nodding towards Harry and Natalie.
“They’re just curious,” Hermione said, although she too had noticed Harry talking to her more than he usually did to people he’d just met.
“It’s just, odd,” Ron said.
“Why? Even if he did like her, she’s pretty, funny, and smart. What’s wrong with that?” Hermione asked without looking up from her book again.
“I dunno, she’s so…new,” Ron said. He looked around awkwardly as Hermione continued to read. "Well, as long as this doesn't blossom into a new and time-consuming romance," he said, glancing back towards Harry and Natalie. "We've got Quidditch tryouts soon and I don't want some girl to ruin our chances at the Cup this year." As he walked away, Hermione laughed and rolled her eyes. Boys will be boys...
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