A New Beginning
Twenty whole minutes.
That’s how long I’ve felt like my stomach’s been twisting itself tighter and tighter. In fact, I’m pretty sure if you were to slice me in half, my insides would like something like a pretzel. Though, I wouldn’t count it as a coincidence that twenty whole minutes is also the exact amount of time I’ve been in the car waiting to get to Kings Cross Station. September the first had snuck up on me so suddenly that I didn't think I really knew how to feel about what was happening. I mean, how would you feel if you'd found out you were a witch?
I’d spent all of last week trying to cram all my stuff into my new trunk – something that resulted in me having to sit on my trunk to make it close. My trunk’s a deep mahogany colour that is emblazoned with my initials (MK for Milla Klein) and seeing it shut was the second most gratifying experience of my summer. Mind you, it only just made second place – seeing the stupid trunk actually fit in the car was pretty high up my list too. There was a few moments there where I thought I’d have to repack!
But that was an entire twenty minutes behind me now. Mum and I sat in the back seat while dad drove, my tiny new snowy owl, Inverno, sitting next to him in the passenger seat. I had named her Inverno because that’s how you say winter in Italian. My mother is Italian and my father is German, but they both grew up here in London, like me. I can speak parts of each language (really badly), but I did know enough to decide that Inverno was the only name worth considering for my little owl! Winter was the perfect way to describe her; she looked just like a tiny snow storm in owl form.
Dad had become quite besotted with her and insisted she ride in the front with him. He had owned birds all his life and we even had a large aviary at our Notting Hill home. Although, none of the birds he'd owned were quite like Inverno. In the short time I'd owned her I'd already discovered she was way cleverer than any other bird I'd ever seen. If she could speak English I'm sure she'd be more than happy to sit down and have a chat about philosophy, or literature over a cup of tea. As you might be able to tell I'm quite fond of her already. She was the first creature I'd truly been able to share my delight with about discovering I was a witch.
It might seem a little silly that my sole confidant was an owl, but that’s how it is in my life. Some might call me spoiled, and maybe I am, but what’s the point of having all the toys in the world if there’s no one to play with? It’s not like I don’t have any friends, but I may as well have not had any considering how far away they all live! That, in my opinion, was the biggest disappointment of attending boarding school. I’d always thought it would be amazing to just disappear in one spot and reappear in another. If Only,
I thought to myself.
My parents weren’t all that keen on listening to my problems though. They would always tell me that I’m very lucky to have what I have and how so many other little girls my age would like to have what I have. My parents always liked to point out how ‘lucky’ I was but I didn’t understand it completely. I mean, nothing really extraordinary had happened to me in life. Well I suppose if you don’t count being a witch, which I guess is pretty out there!
But that was one thing my parents weren’t all too interested in, surprisingly. At night time I could hear them talking downstairs in the living room; sometimes it even sounded like they were fighting. And they made sure to act like nothing was really changing, like I was just moving from one boarding school to another. But it wasn’t just any school I was going to! It was a magic school, and there’s no way I was going to act like this was just any old school.
I’d be trading in my pony for a broomstick and my etiquette lessons for Potions lessons and now that we were finally drawing into King's Cross I was having trouble keeping my emotions in check. There seemed to be too many for an eleven year old girl to process. I was so excited to be embarking on an adventure so big, but also quite scared of it. Obviously not because I was leaving my family for so long, I was used to that having attended boarding school for years. I was scared that for the first time in my life I really wouldn't fit in.
Surely people from wizarding backgrounds would be smart; the stuff I'd briefly skimmed over in my new textbooks exceeded my wildest dreams. And they'd be so rich! And if they weren't couldn't they just make money? And they must all be so beautiful too, and if they weren't they would be able to cast enchantments to make them so.
At this thought I hazarded a glance at myself in the rearview mirror. My olive complexion was set off harmoniously by my waist length, dark brown, curly hair. I had huge dark eyes (which I thought made me look like an alie) and long dark lashes. I suppose I'd been considered quite pretty in my world (meaning the muggle world, as I've been told that's what non-magical people are called). But who knew what the people in the wizarding world would be like? I suppose I'd see very
soon as dad had just parked the car at the station.
"Alright kiddo," he said, "Everyone out. You and mum should go find a trolley for all this!"
Mum and I returned shortly after with a trolley and set off for platform nine and three quarters. The notion of having three quarters of a platform still made me chuckle inwardly, but I suppose there's bound to be a lot that will earn that reaction from me at Hogwarts (which was the name of my new magic school).
We followed the instructions that were given to us as to how to get onto the platform and we each took it in turns to pass through the solid wall between platforms nine and ten as subtly as we could. We all agreed that passing through a wall was a most bizarre sensation, and none of us could even put words to it other than making a strange noise that sounded a little like ‘brrr’.
As soon as I arrived on the platform I was in awe.
I first looked at the startling red steam engine in front of me. It was beginning to huff and puff, an air of readiness about it. I then looked around at the other people on the station. But I was so confused; these people looked just like everyone else I knew (although I might add some were dressed quite differently). On top of that it was clear that some families were poor and some were obviously very rich.
This seemed to shoot down two of my biggest fears and they were replaced with shock at the whole scene seeming so normal and inviting – it almost felt like I’d been there before. I finally glanced at my watch and both jumped and gasped at the same time. The train was leaving in five minutes and my parents and I had been so engrossed in taking in our new surroundings we hadn't even noticed!
"Mum! Dad! I have to go!"
"Already?" questioned mum, but then she too looked at her watch, "Oh my, yes, you really ought to!"
"Here, I'll see that your luggage gets put on the train," said dad, "And I'll make sure Inverno gets on too," he continued as he stole her cage away with him.
Mum looked me in the eye for a long moment. This whole concept was just as foreign to my parents as it was to me, but they were still presenting a united front of general silence towards the whole situation. The news had only come about a month ago on my eleventh birthday, July 29th. I was hoping that it would all be fine soon though; that it would just take a while to sink in for them. I quietly even hoped they would take to magic just as well as dad had taken to Inverno.
A moment later, Dad was back free of luggage and owl cage.
After going through the usual niceties of a term-long farewell with my family I found myself walking alone trying to find a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. I felt the train lurch forward and kick into motion, beginning its gradual slither along the tracks.
Most of the compartments seemed to be quite full but I could see one just up ahead that seemed empty enough. I saw another girl who looked my age, and just as nervous as me, walking towards the carriage too. She was a thin, tall girl but carried the look well. She had beautiful dark red hair that was styled into a bob, but what you noticed most about her were bright, emerald, doe eyes.
She must have seen me eyeing up the carriage too, "Would you like to sit with us in here?"
I was confused, it seemed like she was alone, "Us?"
"Oh right, yeah my friend Sev is here too somewhere"
And at that very moment a gangly little boy came chasing behind the girl with what looked like a sparkly, swaying red rose. Waving it at her as he approached, he excitedly called, "Look! I've just popped over to the food trolley to get you this. It's not quite a lily but it is a flower and also delicious!"
"You can eat that?" The red headed girl marveled, "Thank you so much Sev, this is all so exciting!"
My heart sunk a little looking at the pair. She seemed just as entranced at the whole situation as I was so I assumed she was new to the world too. But she'd already made friends and good friends by the look of it! I looked back up at them and smiled as I resigned to moving on and finding another carriage with maybe another lonely person in it that I could be friends with. But as I took a step away the girl looked surprised,
"Aren't you going to sit with us?"
I can't pretend this didn't cheer me up a little, "Oh, well I suppose if you want me to?"
"Of course we do, right Sev?"
Sev didn't look quite so pleased as the girl did, but eventually nodded too.
We made ourselves comfy and the girl must have been so engrossed in watching her candy rose sway and twirl in her hand she forgot to introduce herself. So I thought I'd break the ice,
"I'm Milla Klein, by the way. Are you both in first year too?"
The girl snapped out of her candy induced trance and started chatting away happily, "Oh, sorry, my name's Lily. Lily Evans. Nice to meet you! And this is Severus Snape, but you can just call him Sev. We're both just starting too so I guess we're all a bit in the dark about Hogwarts. Well, Sev isn't as much, he comes from a wizarding family, see? But my whole family are muggles, so I'm a little nervous."
I was right! She is a muggle-born, "Me too! It's so amazing isn't it? What's it like living with witches and wizards, Sev?"
I was trying to get the boy more involved in the conversation but he seemed just as engrossed with Lily, as Lily had been with the candy rose. They were an odd pairing and I wondered how they came to be friends. In comparison to her, he seemed pale and greasy, though I can't help but imagine that with a bit of care he could look tenfold better. I also noticed he'd already been dressed in his school robes and I thought about how exciting it would be to put mine on for the first time later today.
He finally looked up and was about to reply (though not half as eagerly as Lily had replied) when he was interrupted by the doors of our compartment opening. Two boys slid into the compartment with us and took a seat without paying us much attention.
The first boy was slightly taller and had shoulder length, wavy black hair and a general air of handsomeness around him. The shorter boy was still quite tall and also quite handsome, but not in the typical way. Despite his severely unkempt hair, you could tell he had always been looked after, or perhaps even spoiled through his years. He wore round glasses.
Severus seemed to look at them with slight contempt but in the end ignored them and focused his attention back on Lily,
"Don't you hope we're both in Slytherin, Lily?"
This was one of the few things that I did know about Hogwarts. There were four houses: Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hupplepuff. Each house had its own traits and specialties, but also its own stigmas and this was proven by the reaction of the boys who entered the carriage.
The boy with the glasses piped up, "Slytherin? Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"
He questioned the boy he'd come in with.
"My whole family have been in Slytherin."
"Blimey, and I thought you seemed alright!"
The taller boy however just smiled back at him and said, "Maybe I'll break the tradition. Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?"
The other boy pretended to be lifting an imaginary sword, "Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart! Like my dad."
At this Severus made a noise that seemed to be somewhere between a cough and a snort, though clearly implied derision.
The boy with glasses looked at him, "Got a problem with that?"
"No. If you'd rather be brawny than brainy -"
But Severus was cut off by the taller boy.
"Where're you hoping to go seeing as you're neither?"
The unnamed boys roared with laughter, but Lily looked outraged. "Come on Severus, let's find another compartment!"
And with that she beckoned me to follow her out too, and stormed off. From the compartment we just left we could hear a taunting call of, "See ya, Snivellus!"
Sev's face seemed to drop a bit at this unfortunate nickname, but instantly picked up as Lily squeezed his hand briefly and gave him a kind smile.
After having found another compartment and settling in together, the hours seemed to flow by quickly as we got acquainted, ordered some more interesting new treats from the trolley and changed into our robes. Lily and I had a lot in common. The only major difference I could pick so far was that Lily was very close with her family. Well, except for her sister who she was currently fighting with because Lily had turned out to be a witch and Petunia hadn't.
The rest of the trip went by even faster and before I knew it we were being escorted across a huge lake by an equally impressively sized young man named Hagrid. I'd never seen anyone so tall or wide in my life. But what impressed me more was the approaching silhouette of Hogwarts castle. It was beautiful.
Time was moving so fast and before I could really process much the first years were already being shoved onto a tiny stool in the great hall in front of the whole school to be sorted into houses.
An authoritative looking woman who'd introduced herself as Professor McGonagall was calling out names to come forward.
The first name to be called was, “Black, Sirius.”
This turned out to be the taller boy from the train! McGonagall gave him a slightly shrewd look, and there was a general murmur from the Slytherin table. I supposed this had something to do with all his family having been in Slytherin. The hat slid onto his handsome head and seemed to make an odd humming noise. We noticed his expression paling and the hat's 'face' contorting into odd shapes. And then it decided, with a frightening yell, “GYFFINDOR!”
I involuntarily jumped at the unorthodox method of sorting students. But I made a mental note of it being just another reason to like Hogwarts more than my old school. Fascinated by the ceiling I zoned out a bit until I head, “Evans, Lily.”
I noticed her long, thin limbs stumble a little as she made her way up the stairs but she got there in one piece and sat nervously on the stool, ready to be sorted. The hat didn’t think too long before it said, “Gryffindor!”
There was a cheer from the table adorned with red and gold as Lily made her way over to it. She was looking pretty happy but there was also a hint of guilt on her face. I suppose she must feel like she’d betrayed Sev, but what could she do? It’s not really our choice.
I shifted in my spot excitedly, waiting for my turn; H, I, J, then finally, “Klein, Milla.”
My heart raced with anticipation. I let the hat slide onto my head and slip down nearly covering my eyes completely. My mind reeled over who I'd already seen been sorted into each house and I tried to figure out where I could most see myself, but before I'd thought it over too much the hat cried, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Gryffindor? With Lily! I dashed over, grinning ear to ear and parked myself right next to her amidst a round of cheers from table. We sat and exchanged a few remarks about the sorting of Mary Macdonald (Ravenclaw) and Ivan Mulciber (Slytherin).
A few names later we heard, "Potter, James."
The other boy from the train, the one with glasses, stepped up to sorting hat and put it on his head. The hat barely grazed his head before it called out, ‘GRYFFINDOR!” in a booming voice.
He smiled triumphantly and hopped off to sit next to Sirius, high-fiving him just before taking a seat. It looked as if those two were going to be good friends.
I glanced at Lily out of the corner of my eye and secretly hoped we might be too...
A/N: The bits in bold are taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (The Prince's Tale) and are thus (obviously) not my own work :)
So this is just the prelude to the rest of the story, which will be set later in their school life. I just wanted to set the dynamic and get introductions out of the way, so I know it's a little dry. Bear with me if you'd like and I think it'll get better :)
Also, leave a review and I’ll love you forever! I’d love to know what you think!