Chapter 3 : Belonged
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There I stood on the platform of a railway station. The old scarlet-red stream engine was belching out clouds of smoke.
My Aunt stood beside me as I held onto my trolley which had a large heavy trunk, my average normal looking backpack (which may have been the only normal thing I owned now) and a large wickerwork basket on top of it.
It had been three and a half weeks since that fateful letter had arrived in my bedroom.
Aunt Agatha had managed to convince my mother that home schooling wasn’t agreeing with me very well and that I didn’t seem to have learned much of importance.
At first, my mother was furious... of course she spent the most money on things she considered ‘future assets’. My education and debutante-like training instigated since my first steps were designed to make me a future eligible bride for a man of five times our wealth and twice our social standing. Yes, even at age eleven I was in on the 'big secret'! Thus I was, in my mother’s mind, undoubtedly the greatest investment she ever made. Seeing Aunt Agatha speak so poorly of her efforts therefore obviously made her blood boil.
I fanned the flames admittedly by stubbornly refusing to understand what Mrs. Elliot tried to teach me that evening during our History lesson. Aunt Agatha finally took advantage of the situation when my mother claimed I was a hopeless case saying that all I needed was a change of environment.
She took me and my mother to a boarding school near her house and seeing the prim and proper girls my mother instantly fell in love with it. There was one dilemma. It was too far to travel from home (and there was no way mother would ever give up our house) so I volunteered to become a board of the school.
As my mother fell deeper and deeper into the trap, I resisted the gleeful grin threatening to plaster itself on my face long enough to let me tie the purse strings on it.
So there was my cover story, an official board of Abbey Wyatt School starting in a few days. Although I was never much successful at convincing my parents my aunt was an expert. With a single conversation on the phone she had my father convinced and by tea the same day my mother had agreed to write a check to pay for all the tuition fees.
After my mother had left, Aunt Agatha and I took the fat check and went to a place named “Diagonally”!
(I was giving my mind constant orders to ignore things that caused my brain to scream Oh My God! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! all the time.
There we bought everything I might need for the school year. We stayed in an inn close by and my aunt introduced me slowly to a world I had been hidden from for ten years of my life over the course of the following week. I heard stories about children like me who didn't know who they were till the arrival of their letters from my Aunt, Tom the innkeeper who was a kind old man and Henry the Librarian of the Diagon Alley Magical Books Library.
It was odd for me even still, I had never done anything extraordinary in my life. Most children like me I'd heard about had a history of odd happenings around them. They'd done things they couldn't explain, they'd done weird things without meaning to do them. But not me.
The only thing I'd ever done which even came close was catching a butterfly as a child in my hands. I wanted to keep it in my room in a glass bottle and see it fly but when I opened my hands it's tiny wings were crumpled and they fluttered twice slowly before becoming still. I cried as I realised I might have killed it accidently. I kept the little blue butterfly in the jar as I had intended to where it lay limp at the bottom and spent most of the night wishing on the bright star I used to call 'The Wishing Star' to turn back time. When I woke up the next morning I found the fluorecent wings fluttering rapidly within the glass orb. I passed that off as a miracle. That was all that tied me to the world I belonged to.
Now, things were different. I had a wand. Admittedly as scary it was holding it in my hand, it felt so amazing. I felt a powerful connection to it.
Rosewood, twelve and half inches with a core of unicorn tail hair. The wood was a rich chestnut colour with dark veining. Every time I held it, a warmth ran through my fingers and it made me trust myself with the wand. It was as if my wand recognised me to be it's master. It was loyal to me. I wasn't sure if that was silly but that's how I felt about magic.
To say it and believe it took a long time. But my aunt helped me and guided me through most of it. Now, I was not completely clueless about this world and I even had an idea of what I would be studying at school.
The high pitched whistle blew and I was brought sharply back to the present.
Aunt Agatha was beside me watching the hundreds of families standing by to see their own offspring off. My wickerwork basket hissed as a Ministry of Magic (that’s right, they’ve got one!) official walked by accompanied by a greyhound.
Apparently we were allowed pets at my new school. I loved all kinds of animals I just wasn’t allowed many pets at home. I wanted a dog, but since we can only bring pets on the list I settled for the best out of the worst.
My black cat, as ominous as she sounds, was actually very sweet. Her round amber-green eyes seemed so innocent as she looked up at me. I instantly fell in love.
There were some loud boys laughing and leaning out of the windows of one of the compartments waving at someone on the platform.
“Oh my God!” I said my jaw dropping.
“What honey? What is it?” Aunt Agatha looked at me alarmed.
I pointed blatantly at the boy sitting in the compartment with the loud boys.
“That’s him! It’s the Vanishing Boy!!”
Ah yes,I forgot the limits of stupidity.
The second whistle blasted and the students disentangled themselves from their parents and jumped onto the train.
Aunt Agatha kissed my cheek and pushed my hair back.
“Now honey, you remember how to send letters to me don’t you?”
I swallowed and nodded. Oh yeah I knew how to send mail, but I was only going send a letter if I was in mortal peril. Owls! Really? Never heard of normal working postmen?!
“Write to me often sweetheart, you’ve packed everything haven’t you? Double checked?”
My heart was racing. I just nodded so my voice won’t have a chance to die in my throat.
But like I said she knew me better than my own mother.
“Don’t worry, honey” she cupped my face in her hands “just like you there’s going to be so many people who just found out who they are. You’re going to be just fine!”
I swallowed again. Once my luggage was boarded onto the train I kissed my aunt on the cheek, hopped onto the train and waved her goodbye.
Despite not spending much time with her throughout my childhood I was very close to her and much more so since the past three weeks we spent discovering the new world I belonged to. As the station disappeared from view I oddly wished I could have seen my parents standing there alongside Aunt Agatha, smiling and waving. They however would never understand. Still... One could hope.
I pulled my trunk and dragged it along the crowded corridor of the train looking for a compartment to sit in. Most of them were full. I walked past the compartment the loud boys were sitting in I and saw my neighbour up close for the first time. To put it in one word the experience was, embarrassing.
No one word doesn’t do it, it was appalling too!
I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw the familiar boy. He sat with three other boys, one who took up space for two. He had sleek black hair that fell into his eyes, stormy grey eyes. They were such a beautiful colour and with an unfathomable depth that I got lost in them.
So I was quite unresponsive when he spoke.
“Can I help you?” he spoke in a quiet polite voice.
I stared into his eyes.
What. Was he talking to me?
Yes! He’s looking at you!
Oh God! What did he say?
“Errr....” I wished the earth would swallow me. Behind me there were so many people who were waiting for me to move.
He looked at my trunk and then at me but since I was still staring he voiced the obvious.
“I’m sorry, but this compartment’s quite full,”
“Right” I finally got my voice back.
Feeling like a fool I gave a nervous smile and pulled on my trunk. The force of the pull coupled with the rattling of the train caused me to tip and fall forward. I barely caught myself before I hit the ground.
Oh God! Can this get any worse?
There was some stifled laughter drifting from the loud boys’ compartment. I huffed impatiently, straightened up and slung my backpack over my shoulder. I pulled on my trunk and kept walking without turning back.
I let go the humiliation and moved along the corridor. The third compartment I came across after that had a space left so I pulled my trunk into it. The girl and the boy sitting there looked up at me.
The girl had long red hair which was tied back and flowed over her shoulder. She smiled politely as I entered the compartment. The black haired boy next to her was sallow skinned and looked at me with an unreadable face.
I pushed my trunk onto the luggage rack then seated myself next to the window and faced the two of them awkwardly. Having spent most of my time indoors with books I was clueless about how to make conversation.
The red-headed girl looked at me again and smiled politely once more. I smiled back hoping that was the ideal response. Thankfully she seemed to be the instigator of conversation.
“Hi, I’m Lily” she held out her hand.
Ok, Caprice is a highly uncommon name and is bound to raise a question mark at the back of your head. That much I knew.
“Errm... Hi!” I shook her hand, “nice to meet you, I’m ...Capri.”
The boy’s eyebrow raised half a fraction at my hesitance but he did not introduce himself.
“Wow! that’s pretty” said the red-head.
I blushed and smiled in response.
“Are you a first year, Capri?” she asked.
“That’s great! So are we! This is Severus by the way,”
I smiled again. Not only was I bad at initiating conversation I was bad at continuing it. Still, at least I'd heard another name I’d never heard before.
The rest of the train ride was quiet. The boy and the girl seemed to be brother and sister. They talked now and then and shared the jelly bean looking things they bought from the lunch trolley.
I tried not to think about how I was going to deal with everything that was waiting for me when I reached the end of this train ride.
The awkward moment with my neighbour had flown right past my mind, apparently I was good at suppressing painful memories.
As the train sped though the scenic countryside I took off my black blazer and folded it on my lap. I was quite comfortable in my white t shirt and jeans. To keep occupied and avoid awkward glances I kept reading one of my favourite books, Little Women, through the rest of the journey so I didn’t notice it was getting dark outside.
“Hey Capri, we should get changed,”
I looked up from the book at the red-head who was standing in front of me picking clothes out of her trunk. I had not even noticed that her brother had left.
“I’m sorry... get changed?”
“Yes,” Lily turned back to me, “we have to change into our school uniform before we get to Hogwarts” she said returning to pulling clothes out of her trunk.
“Oh ok, I didn’t know that. Thanks!”
We got our clothes and walked along the corridor to the nearest bathroom and got changed into our uniforms as the train creaked to a halt.
If I thought seeing a man as tall and huge as the Hulk was going to be the most shocking experience of the night, I was terribly wrong.
I hadn’t ridden on a boat in my entire life so when I saw the fleet of boats and the vast lake which might as well have been the ocean I started to panic.
I stayed close to Lily and her black haired brother because, honestly they were the only people I knew who were in first year. Oh yeah and my annoying neighbour.
We got onto the same boat and I breathed in relief when I realised I wasn’t required to row it!
Like I said if I thought that was scary, again I was wrong. Although the fear was not immediately obvious the Sorting was infinitely more nerve racking.
Aunt Agatha was sorted into Hufflepuff during her school days. I didn’t know what the big deal was with the Sorting and why it mattered which house you belonged into, but from the time we reached the Entrance Hall till we entered the Great Hall it was all the students could talk about.
Both the red head, Lily and her brother seemed to be happy to be sorted into Slytherin.
While we waited I wondered vaguely what House the Vanishing Boy would belong to when I heard a surprised voice behind me.
“Hey, you’re a first year too?!” I turned to find the same stormy grey eyes staring at me.
“Yeah” I said in a small voice.
“That’s nice, I didn’t know” He said politely.
You’d think that I would be embarrassed to see him again, but the deeply embarrassing moment in the not so long ago past was forgotten and I was speaking to him as if it was the first time I’d seen him.
I chanced a look at him and he was looking at me with those eyes again. I looked away before I could get sucked into the whirlpool.
“What’s your name?” he asked suddenly.
My head snapped back to him.
And there’s the last conversation he’s gonna have with me since my name sounded like I was born in the 1800s!
I had to think of an alternative but again it took a second’s delay.
“Jill” I blushed.
He smirked, his sleek black hair fell across his face elegantly as he tilted his head.
“So, what’s your name Jill?” his smirk grew wider.
“Caprice” I bit my lip and looked rejected, there was no fooling him.
“Wow..." he suppressed his laugh "and I thought my parents were imaginative!”
I sighed and forced a smile.
He smiled again. “It’s pretty”
“No, it isn’t” I countered.
“Yes it is. Weird... but pretty”
I was spared the need to think of something to say by the arrival of Professor McGonagall who announced that we were ready to be sorted.
During out walk through the Great Hall my heart stopped seven times.
The ceiling that wasn’t a ceiling but looked like the hall opened to the high heavens where the shimmering stars watched over us.
Beneath it were the innumerable candles... floating in mid air.
Floating... in mid air!
There were pearly while misty looking GHOSTS sitting among the students.
I watched as the students got sorted into houses one by one.
Again I was embarrassed when I realised that Lily Evans and Severus Snape (the black haired boy) were not siblings. Thankfully I had not voiced my assumptions.
And then in no time at all it seemed it was my turn.
The Sorting hat was placed on my head and it fell across my eyes and I was plunged into darkness.
“Nervous are we?...” I heard a small voice in my ear.
I said nothing...
“Hmm... headstrong and independent... adventurous with a rare thirst for knowledge. Hmm... daring and impulsive, courageous but thoughtful... you are a clear...
Oh dear God! I was in the same house as him!
But at least Lily was in the same house and Nora, Kate and Emma all seemed like nice people.
I was welcomed warmly into Gryffindor house when I got sorted. Sitting at the Gryffindor table with the others and enjoying the welcoming feast I finally felt I belonged in the magical world. I finally let my fear go and accepted it.
I am witch! Ha.
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