Rob was used to changing schools. He had already done it twice when his dad switched teams before. However he wasn’t nearly prepared for the anxiety that awaited him on the Hogwarts Express. There were no teachers to introduce him to the class and with the compartments on the train all full, there was no way he could hide out until classes started and he could make friends with his roommates. His dad had told him that Hogwarts were separated into Houses, and that was how most people there made friends. At the time it had been a relief, but panic seized him as he realized he’d have to talk to someone, lest he spend the long, long train ride standing awkwardly in the corridors.
He looked into a compartment with three young girls giggling. Nope, not for him. He moved on to the next compartment where he saw a bunch of guys, roughly his age. He considered reaching for the handle when one of them gave him a stare that made him think otherwise. Embarrassed and looking down, he turned to continue when he accidently bumped a blonde boy, roughly his age.
“Sorry,” he muttered, determined to continue on, only to be stopped by the guy.
“What did you say?” asked the boy, his face full not of anger, but of wonder and enthusiasm. Rob lowered his guard a little.
“Just sorry for bumping into you, that’s all,” he said, trying to crack a smile. The boy’s face shifted, contemplating.
“Your accent… are you American?”
“Umm… Yeah, I sort of transferred here I guess?”
“Transfers? I’ve never heard of that before… what house are you in?”
“Umm… I don’t have a house yet. I lived in Richards House at my old school…”
“Blimey! I’d be terrified changing schools mid-way through!” he glanced past Rob and looked into the compartment full of guys. His face darkened. “You don’t want to sit in there,” he said, suddenly getting serious. “Those blokes supported You-Know-Who last year. Those rotten Slytherins should’ve all been expelled.”
“Who do I know?” asked Rob, his face clouded with confusion. “And what’s Slytherin?”
“Merlin’s beard! You must’ve ‘eard of him! He’s only been the most notorious, murdering, villain ever!”
“Oh you mean Voldemort!” exclaimed Rob, suddenly comprehending. Of course he knew about Voldemort. Everyone knew about him! Suddenly realization set in… he was in Britain,
Voldemort was more than just a news story here
. “They supported… him?” he asked, lowering his voice.
“Yeah,” said the boy gravely. “A whole bunch of people did. The dark haired guy on the left, Graham, both of his parents are in jail now. He lives with his Aunt and Uncle. The guy on the right, his father was put on trial, but managed to slither out of it, but I know he was a Death Eater, I fought him myself last year.”
“You fought?...” Suddenly waves of news stories about the war in England came streaming back to him. The final battle had been right there, at Hogwarts, not four months ago… With all the excitement over the World Cup, and traveling all over the world with his dad, he had been absent during the whole affair, and only heard about it later. “You were in Dumbledore’s Army?” Rob stammered, highly impressed.
“Collin Creevy,” said the friendly boy, putting out his hand. Rob shook it, a grin crossing his face. He had finally made a friend, and what a friend to make!
“Rob Bradley,” he responded, “I guess I’m going to be a fifth year… or maybe a fourth year, I’m not actually sure.”
“Come sit with us,” said Collin, “and we’ll figure it out!”
Deion headed straight for the last compartment in the very back of the train and found it empty. He quickly got inside and closed the door. The idea of spending eight hours on a train with nothing to do had bothered him considerably, but luckily, he had a plan.
He opened his bag and took out his large nylon case. Unzipping it revealed his GameBoy and favorite game; Pokemon – Red. He had an appointment with the Elite Four and was running late. He checked his battery pack, and saw he had a decent charge left, and booted up the game, the familiar 8-bit chimes of Nintendo filling his ears.
Rachel on the other hand began looking for a group of girls she could relate to, and was not having luck. Being a Muggle-born had been hard enough at her old school, but at least she was accepted once she caught up culturally to everyone else. But now she had to deal with that, as well as not being British. She cursed her mother again for doing this to her, but nevertheless, set about making new friends. She would be damned if she suffered any further at the hands of her parent’s lawyers.
She quickly found a compartment full of girls roughly her age. They had been giggling about something, probably boys, Rachel surmised. She respectfully knocked on the door, sliding it open a crack.
“I’m sorry, but everywhere else is full,” she lied, doing her best to fake a British accent, “Do you mind if I sit here with you?”
The girls all looked at each other, their faces marked with concern, as if it would be some kind of monumental effort to share a compartment with a stranger for a few hours. Finally, one of the girls sighed and spoke for the group, “Sure, if you want.” Rachel thanked her and put her bag in an overhead compartment.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before,” said another girl, pretty with blonde hair. “What house are you in?”
“I’m not in one,” replied Rachel, continuing with the accent and not knowing what she was talking about, “I was homeschooled by my mother the last couple of years,” not wanting to go into details.
“Was she afraid of sending you to Hogwarts too? My mom pulled me out for a year,” said the third girl, who came across much sweeter than the others.
“Yeah, she felt I was better off at home with 'er,” covered Rachel, again having no idea what the girl was talking about. Why would someone be afraid to send their kid to Hogwarts?
“Well, the way I see it, you’d probably still be better off at home,” muttered the first girl who let her in. “My daddy says Hogwarts has been going downhill for years with Dumbledore in charge, it’s bound to be even worse this year. Did you know they’re hiring a Muggle to teach Transfiguration now?”
“Well someone has to teach it, now with McGonagall in charge,” replied girl number 3.
“But a class that important, in the hands of a Muggle?”
“How can a Muggle teach magic?” asked Rachel, intent on being in on the conversation. “How do they even know about it?”
“Well, last year, the answer would be she stole a wand of course,” answered girl number 1, “but in reality, some Muggles get lucky and can do magic. But that doesn’t mean they are truly magical or are capable of understanding it properly.”
“Yeah,” agreed girl number 2, “Magic is something that is part of you. You need to feel it to make it work properly. A mudblood like her might have the ability, but it’s not really part of her like it is for us.”
“Oh I see,” replied Rachel, continuing with her fake accent. Wasn’t she a ‘mudblood’ herself? Certainly her parents, the bankers weren’t magical… “You’re definitely right. I wish I had known before letting my mother send me here.”
Girls 1 and 2, Astoria and Madeline, seemed satisfied with her response, and started including her in their conversation, telling her which boys were cool, and who were losers. She noted to avoid the Creevy brothers at all costs (with that kind of name, who wouldn’t?) and the best house to be in was Slytherin, which was their house, except for girl number 3, Clara who was in Ravenclaw, but they were good too, but you had to be really smart to go there.
Collin brought Rob over to a compartment towards the middle of the train and went in ahead to introduce him. Inside were a strikingly pretty redhead who gave her name as Ginny, another blonde boy named Dennis, who was his age and unmistakably Collin’s younger brother, and a spaced out blonde girl named Luna, who was reading her magazine upside-down. The lot was quite strange, and a little off-putting, but they were friendly and Rob was not about to question a good thing.
“So you’re an American huh?” asked Dennis, who was munching on something that looked delicious. “What brings you all the way here?”
“My dad’s a quidditch player. He just joined the Chudley Cannons, so I moved out here with him. I’ve had to move like this a few times.”
“Wicked!” exclaimed Ginny, “The Chudley Cannons are my brother’s favorite team. Heard they’re not doing too well though.”
“Well, I think they’re hoping my dad is gonna fix that,” answered Rob defensively. “He’s getting older, but he’s still a great chaser, and the best captain America’s ever had.” For a moment the compartment went silent, with only the sounds of Luna’s joyfully humming and page turning.
“You’re that Bradley?” Dennis Creevy finally asked, his mouth hanging open. “The one whose father cheated England out of the World Cup?”
“He didn’t cheat!” responded Rob defensively, and perhaps a little angrier than he meant to be. “Dempsey was coming up underneath, my dad had him locked on the right, and Agudelo had him on the left. He had to move up and out. He swerved on his own!”
“That’s not the game we saw mate,” said Collin darkly, but hoping to break the tension. “But it wasn’t you I suppose. Besides, your dad’s still a fantastic quidditch player, did any of it rub off on you?” Now it was Rob’s turn to brag.
“I captained at both of my last schools,” he answered proudly. “And even got time in with the American youth team.”
“Well in that case, I hope you can lend those talents to Gryffindor this year,” said Ginny, flashing him a smile. “We haven’t lost a quidditch cup in 7 years! I intend to keep that tradition going!”
-Several hours into the train ride-
The red light flashed again, much to Deion’s dismay. He had only one more pokemon to knock out, and it would all be over, he could save the game and start recharging the batteries.
Blastoise used Hydropump, its Super Effective, Enemy Flareon has fainted
Deion jumped, thrusting his fists into the air. VICTORY! He had made several attempts at the Elite Four during the train ride, even left to retrain and went back for a few more rounds. He had finally done it! Now just to save…
Saving the game, do not turn off the power….
Deion waited, nervously watching the red light, he grabbed the power cord out of his case and dropped to his knees, searching for an outlet , just to be safe. He glanced over at his GameBoy, it was still saving… why was it taking so long? The red light flashed again. Was it Deion’s imagination, or was the GameBoy flashing more frantically? Feed me! Feed me!
There was clearly no outlet in his compartment… maybe the next one? He grabbed his cord and GameBoy, that was still saving and flashing its red light, and ran into the next compartment. Three boys his age were playing some kind of game with their wands.
“Sorry, but is there an outlet in here? It’s an emergency,” asked Deion, who was met with the gaze of three utterly bewildered boys.
“What’s an outlet?” one of them asked. Realization suddenly crossed Deion’s face and he dropped into an open space on one of the seats.
“Hey, a GameBoy!” exclaimed a boy in the corner. Deion perked up at the sound of a wizard with knowledge of electronics. “Yeah, but its dying and my game’s still saving. Do you know where I can plug it in?”
“Don’t even bother,” said the boy, shaking his head grimly. “That game is never going to save. We’re too close to Hogwarts. The magic in the air is interfering. “ Deion frowned, looking back at his GameBoy, sure enough, it was still stuck on the same screen… it was never going to go back, not for a long, long time.
“Why does magic mess it up?” he asked, the boys looked at each other, none of them had any idea.
“Do you think it’s possible to fix it so it works?” asked Deion. The boy with Muggle knowledge considered for a moment, looking at the GameBoy longingly, no doubt thinking of the one he left behind at home himself.
“It’s worth a shot,” he finally conceded, “I’m Jesse, by the way.”