There are, I’ve decided, entirely too many Weasleys.
Standing in the middle of the Prefect Carriage of the Hogwarts Express, you would think there couldn’t possibly be that many Weasleys in the vicinity. But no.
“Weasley!” the fearsome figure of Professor Astoria Malfoy, Charms professor, head of Slytherin House and my boyfriend’s mother, looms in the doorway leading to the teachers’ carriage. I whip around to face her; so does my little brother Hugo, my cousin Dominique, my other cousin Lucy, and two Potter cousins who aren’t Weasleys but are so closely associated with us that they turn around anyway.
I realise almost immediately that there wasn’t any need for me to turn around; I’ve been dating Professor Malfoy’s son for a good two years now. I’ve had dinner at their house. I’ve experienced Professor Malfoy coming into Scorpius’ room in her pajamas ready to defend my honour.
We’re on a first name basis.
As it turns out, Astoria is in fact after Dom, who became her year’s Ravenclaw prefect for the sole reason that she bossed people around far more than her main competition, Antigone Islington. Dom is smartarsed, rebellious and swears like a trooper. We get along brilliantly.
“So Rose,” Dom begins conversationally after Astoria has left. “What’s the difference between me and you now you’re Head Girl? In terms of power, influence, ability to abuse the above?”
“Absolutely nothing,” I reply honestly. “As far as I know. I just get a bigger, shinier badge than you and my name is known and revered throughout the school.”
“Dunno about revered,” Dom snorts. “But your name is already known throughout the school, Rose Weasley.”
“Correction, my ancestry is known throughout the school. And it’s just gonna get worse from here, now that Mum’s running for freaking Minister of Magic.”
“Not that you’re doing anything to stop yourself following in her footsteps.”
“Excuse me,” I protest, indignant. “I did not pass all but one of my OWLs with Outstanding. I did not start studying for OWLs in November—”
“No, you started in December.”
“And you in January,” I shoot back. “Furthermore, unlike my mother, I play Quidditch and am actually going to my seventh year.”
“Small details,” Dom replies with a shrug. “Where’s your lover-boy at?”
“Over yonder in the fifth carriage,” I reply, jerking my head in the vague direction of said carriage.
“Over yonder?” Dom repeats, to my amusement and gratification. “What the hell kind of mangling of the Queen’s English is that?”
“Similar calibre to yours. Mum decided to acquaint me with some Muggle literature over the holidays. Ever heard of To Kill A Mockingbird?”
“If it’s Muggle, then no.”
“Rose?” my brother asks, somewhat timidly.
“I’m going to go do my patrols now,” he informs me, gesturing to the carriages behind him and inching towards the door.
“Knock yourself out,” I reply, waving my hand. “And don’t come back.”
Slowly the prefects disperse. My minions, I note, somewhat satisfactorily. Figures of authority in the school, and they answer to me. This power will corrupt me.
“So,” the Head Boy, Riordan Carter of Gryffindor, begins, breaking the silence. We’re now the only ones left in the carriage, and it strikes me that I’ll have to make small talk with this guy for the duration of the journey, whereas when I was just a plain old prefect I could hive off to my friends’ carriage.
“So,” I echo. “Responsibility, eh?”
“Yeah, some responsibility, sitting in a near empty carriage. Heard your mum’s going for Minister.”
The entire wizarding world’s heard that. “Yeah, she is. Could be an interesting election.”
“Especially against Percy Weasley,” Riordan continues. “Any relation? Wait, ignore that, that was a stupid question. What relation?”
“He’s my uncle, and he’s a git.”
“What are her policies? Your mum's, I mean.”
“Equality. Equality, equality, equality. I’ve heard that word so many times I have it coming out my ears. Equality for purebloods, half-bloods and Muggleborns, equality between wizards and Muggles, equality between wizards, goblins and house-elves…”
“Bout time,” Riordan offers. “Blood purism’s been steadily fading since the fall of Voldemort, I’ve met hardly any people who are proud purebloods.”
“Yeah, but you’re in Gryffindor,” I point out. I don’t need to say any more; most of the population of Hogwarts are under the impression I’m bitterly disappointed I wasn’t sorted into Gryffindor and wish with all my heart I had been, so the moment I mention houses they tend to steer the conversation away.
Riordan is no exception. “Yeah. So what subjects are you taking this year?”
“DADA, Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, Muggle Studies, History of Magic and Arithmancy. You?”
“Charms, Potions, Transfiguration, Herbology, Ancient Runes and Muggle Studies.”
“You’re not taking the best subject!”
“I got an E in DADA in fifth year,” Riordan explains. “I decided I couldn’t be bothered continuing with it if I couldn’t get Outstanding. A shame, I enjoyed it.”
“You dropped something because you got an E?” I ask. “Why aren’t you in Ravenclaw?”
“I’d ask you the same question,” Riordan replies.
“Hell, if my mum wasn’t in Ravenclaw, that’s proof enough there are nerds in other houses. Anyway, I might go check up on those young prefect things,” I say, standing and making for the doorway. “You don’t have to sit there,” I add over my shoulder. “We make the rules.”
“But Professor Malfoy said—”
“Astoria likes me,” I say dismissively, pulling the door open.
“You. What’s your name?”
The cocky little first-year I just cornered peers up at me through sandy blonde hair.
“Right, Stephan, do you know who I am?”
“Lily Potter,” Stephan says, and a look of wonder seems to cross his face.
I ignore this statement. “I’m one of the prefects at Hogwarts. Can you explain what you were doing running up and down the carriage screaming like a banshee?”
“Is Harry Potter really your dad?” the kid asks.
“Who my dad is is irrelevant. What were you doing?”
Something in my stern tone seems to have an effect on the kid. “Just excited,” he mutters, staring at his feet.
“Let me give you some advice. You run around the carriages on the Hogwarts Express yelling, you’re breaking school rules. Doesn’t matter how excited you are to be here, you follow the rules, or soon, you won’t be excited to be here. You’ll be spending more time in detention than in your house common room. Understood?”
“Yeah,” Stephan mutters, turning and walking slowly back to his carriage. I can hear him yelling as he enters it: “I just got told off by Lily Potter!”
“Wow,” my cousin Rose comments, coming up behind me. “That’s…wow.”
“You’ve never had that before?” I ask, turning to face her.
“Can’t say I’ve had first years excited to have a telling off from me, that’s just weird. You joining us for the rest of the trip?”
“Abandoned your post, have you?” I ask.
She shrugs. “Riordan’s still there, as far as I know. I think he’s scared of Astoria.”
“And yeah, I think I might,” I continue. “What carriage are you in? Five as usual?”
“No idea,” Rose replies. “I assume so, that’s where I told Scorpius to park his butt anyway. Where’s Lorcan?”
“Patrolling down the back, as far as I know. I’ll go find him, and meet you in carriage five.”
“As long as snotty little first years haven’t taken it over,” Rose says with a grin. “Though I don’t think they’d dare, it belonging to fearsome senior Slytherins and all.”
“You’re dead fearsome, Rose Weasley.”
I leave Rose behind, striding through the corridors of the Hogwarts Express and waving to the friends and acquaintances in various carriages. The back carriages are peppered with either well-established groups who have been travelling in the same carriage for years, or little first-years with nowhere else to sit. They sit in awkward, forced groups, thrown together by mutual inability to mingle with the other kids.
“Hey,” Lorcan greets me, backing out of a carriage full of first-years. “Do we want to find a carriage?”
“We’ve been invited to five.”
Carriage Five, known as a “Slytherin carriage,” is really one of the most integrated carriages on the Express. There are the four Slytherins, of course: Rose, Scorpius, Alyssa Rutherford and Jeremy Nott. The Gryffindors: my brother Albus and I, and the Ravenclaws: Lorcan and my cousin Dom.
“Afternoon, lovebirds,” Dom greets Lorcan and I.
I ignore this statement. “Scoot over, Rose.”
“Who’s up for some Exploding Snap?” Jeremy asks, holding up a deck of cards.
“That’s a first years’ game,” I point out, before grinning. “I’m in!”
We play Exploding Snap and other such games for three hours, at which point Rose reluctantly concedes she has to go back to the Prefects’ Carriage.
“And you lot too,” she adds, waving a hand to encompass the three of us who are also Prefects.
“If I take my badge off, does that mean I can stay here?” Lorcan asks.
“Get up, lazy ass,” Rose says, jerking her head in the direction of the Prefects’ Carriage. “Lily, if you start walking, maybe he’ll follow you.”
“I’m not a carrot!”
“Your hair’s orange enough though,” Jeremy contributes. “Ow!”
I glance satisfactorily at the quill I had just hurled at his head.
“Just kidding,” Jeremy says hastily, “Rose’s is more orange. You can’t throw stuff at me, you’re Head Girl!” he adds in desperation as Rose turns on him.
“I am the law,” she says ominously, walking out of the carriage and snapping her fingers. “Come hither, my minions.”