Platform 9 ¾ was, per usual, filled with a buzzing, jostling crowd. Anxious first-years stumbled about the floor, looking unsure of where to go or what to do. Other students were merely saying their last goodbyes and attempting to haul their luggage onboard the train.
Finally, a loud, shrill whistled sounded the train’s departure. Passengers scurried towards the door and scrambled inside, finding a seat among their friends in one of the many compartments. The train was alive with excited chatter and eager gossipers.
Emerald eyes watched as the scarlet behemoth that was the Hogwarts Express pulled out of the station. Soon, the blurred green and browns that were the passing landscape rushed by the window. Ava Landry frowned as she turned her attention back to the empty compartment before her.
Where was everyone else? They should have been here by now. What was taking them so long?
She turned her attention back to the scenery outside of the windowpane, flicking a strand of hair from her eyes. Ava breathed a restless sigh between pursed lips.
“C’mon. I think this one here is empty.”
The compartment door slid open to reveal a tall and slender boy, with sleek, silvery-blond hair and cold, gray eyes. He had a pale complexion and rather sharp, pointed features.
Well, well, well. If it wasn’t the Slytherin Prince himself.
Behind him were his two cohorts, Crabbe and Goyle, looking for all the world like two bodyguards shadowing the boy’s every move.
A sneer broke out across Draco Malfoy’s face at the sight of the lone girl in front of him. “I believe this compartment is for Slytherins only, Ravenclaw.” His two cohorts burst into a fit of giggles. “Leave. Now.”
Ava snorted, trying to choke back the laugh that was bubbling up in her throat. “I do believe I was here first. What makes you think I’ll leave?”
The boy’s sneer dipped into a glare that was capable of freezing blood where it flowed in its veins. “If you know what’s good for you, you will leave. Don’t you know who I am?” he snarled fiercely.
Now the laugh did escape from her throat and it filled the small room. She stood and took a few steps towards the group of boys, confident and unafraid.
“Of course, I know who you are. Who in this wide world has not heard,” here she bowed deeply to the pale boy before her, “of the great Slytherin Prince?” she finished, every word dripping with sarcasm and mockery.
Malfoy snarled, glowering at her with eyes that were as cold as hers were determined. “You better watch yourself close, Ravenclaw. Wouldn’t want you to end up like your mother, now would we?” he spat, the ghost of a smirk crossing his face.
Her stomach dropped to her feet and Ava involuntarily staggered back a step, as if he had physically struck her. She tried to recover her confident façade, but it was too late. The damage had been done. He had already seen how much that one snide comment had affected her.
Ava snarled angrily. “You’re the last person to be talking about other people’s parents, Malfoy. I would think that you would be more concerned about ending up like your father!” she spat in utter disgust.
“Filthy blood-traitor! If you ever say anything about my father ever again I will make sure that you and your filthy mother are reunited soon,” Draco roared. He spun on his heel, and pushing Crabbe and Goyle to the side in his fit of rage, stalked from the compartment. The two bumbling oafs followed close behind and as they scurried from the room, Ava slammed the sliding door with such force that the glass rattled in its pane.
Ava snarled fiercely and slumped facedown down on the seat. She gave a muffled scream of frustration and fury. Turning her head to the side so that she could breathe unobstructed, she shrieked ferociously, “Damn him! Damn him to the seventh circle of hell!”
The compartment door slid open once more and Ava’s head jerked toward the sound as her hand shot towards her wand, thinking Malfoy was back to insult her some more. But it was only Luna Lovegood.
Luna did not seem fazed at all by this turn of events. In fact, her eyes held a tranquil, dreamy quality as they skimmed over Ava. Luna cocked her head to the side, curiosity plain on her face and her long, disheveled blonde hair straggling behind her. “You seem upset. Was it the wrackspurts? They are being particularly troublesome today. More so than usual.”
Luna sat down on the seat across from her and stared at her unblinking. Ava smiled genuinely. Luna had always fascinated her, no matter what the others said about her. Her world always seemed so much more exciting than anyone else’s, filled with fantastical creatures as it was.
Ava chuckled and moved to an upright position, curiously eyeing the butterbeer cork necklace that hung from Luna’s neck. “Wrackspurts? What are they like?”
Luna smiled pensively at her interest. “Well, you see –,” she began, but at that moment the door slid open once more.
This time, Cho Chang, Marietta Edgecombe, and Roger Davies piled through the door and plopped down on the seats. Cho smiled apologetically at her and opened her mouth to speak, but Roger cut across her.
“Sorry. Would have been here sooner if it wasn’t for these two having a five minute conversation with every person they came across,” he said exasperatedly.
Cho shot him a look of annoyance and Marietta rolled her eyes. “We only stopped to talk to three people, honest. Don’t let this bloody git tell you any different,” Cho said, sticking her tongue out at Roger.
Roger barked out a laugh. “Only three? Shall I start naming them off? Let’s see. Padma Patil. Terry Boot. Seamus Finnigan. Lavender -.”
“Alright!” Marietta shouted, interrupting Roger in the middle of his rant. “So we stopped to socialize. What are you gonna do? Burn us at the stake?” She threw up her hands in defeat.
“Doesn’t sound like a bad plan,” he muttered to himself. However, both girls still managed to catch it and it earned him a resounding thump on the back of the head.
“Ow!” he whined pathetically, clutching his head. He stood, moved to the opposite side of the compartment, and sat next to Ava. He leaned closer and breathed, “Couple of banshees, they are.”
Ava giggled conspiratorially. The girls set their glares on her, and Ava immediately wiped her expression clean and put on the most innocent look she could manage. Cho rolled her eyes and scoffed, but surrendered and turned her attention out the window.
“Anyways,” she mumbled, and Ava had to strain to hear her, “sorry for making you wait. We know you don’t like to be alone.”
Ava glared slightly, but her expression wavered. She had always terrible at holding grudges. “S’fine. Wish you’d been here sooner, though. Maybe you could have hexed Malfoy for me.”
The others glanced up in confusion. After Ava had relayed what had transpired a few moments ago, they all looked outraged. Except for Luna, who kept staring at something right above Ava’s head. It made her quite nervous. Maybe there was a wrackspurt floating around up there.
“That prat. Who does he think he is, ordering people around and insulting them,” Roger said, puffing out his chest in an effort to seem more masculine. “Do you want me to defend your honor?”
She struggled to hold her laughter in check. “No, Roger. I think I’ll be just fine. I can defend my own honor.”
“Okay,” he replied, grabbing her hand and gently kissing it. “But you’ll let me know if you ever need any help, right?”
She gently pried her hand away. “Of course, Roger. You’ll be the first person I come to.”
He seemed satisfied at this and he leaned back against his seat, a smug grin across his lips.
Secretly, she shuddered inside at the thought of Roger “defending her honor”. What exactly did that entail anyways? She pictured herself as the damsel in distress, locked away in a high, stone tower, while Roger, the knight in shining armor, slayed the evil serpent that was Malfoy. Ava enjoyed a private smile at the thought. Malfoy would spit fire at him and be done with it, and she would be locked away for centuries to come.
Yes. She could defend her own honor.
“Anyways, Ava. A coward like Malfoy has no business making a crack about your mom,” Cho said, coming to sit between her and Roger and slipping a comforting arm around her shoulders. She stroked Ava’s long, auburn hair, trying to the best of her ability to soothe the distressed young woman. “I mean, just look at his family. He has no room to talk. Just … don’t let him get to you, is all. Pay him no mind. Treat him like the mindless wanker we all know he is.”
Ava grinned at the insult. “C’mon guys, give the poor kid some credit. He has to have some thought rollin’ about his head. He has to decide which girl to shag next. That takes a lot of careful consideration.”
The group of Ravenclaws laughed, and soon, they moved onto more pleasant subjects. And before they knew it, they had arrived at Hogsmeade Station and Hogwarts sat gleaming before them under the diamond-filled night sky.
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