The youngest of five children, Pomona was the last to have a very first day. She stood at her windowsill in her second-floor bedroom and looked down at her garden. The foliage bent slightly underneath the drumming rain, and the few fruits shone with glistening beads of condensation. Pomona breathed in deeply.
She was not ready to go to Hogwarts because she knew that she was not like the rest of her family. When Lumina had been sorted into Ravenclaw, it had taken a while for the family to forgive her. Henry, always obliging, had finally broken down the walls between Lumina and her two older sisters, managing to convince them that it had been inevitable anyways.
But Pomona was not Ravenclaw material. Her family had been skeptical of Pomona’s desire to become a Herbologist since she had expressed interest in the subject as a young girl, having a long history in Quidditch and work at the Ministry. Pomona knew that as an eleven-year-old girl, these things shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter that Pomona would be yet another flaw in the legacy of the Sprout family line—but it did, and because of it, she just couldn’t go to Hogwarts.
There was a knock at her door, and she turned quickly, feeling jumpy.
“Hey, Po,” Henry said, coming in with his hands behind his back.
“Hi, Henry,” Pomona said, sounding glum. She crossed the room to her bed, where she sat down, putting her chin in her hands.
“You’re worried, aren’t you?” Henry said, sitting down next to Pomona.
“I’m not like you, or Bonnie, or Sloane, or even Lumina. Most of all, I’m not like Mum and Dad. I’m not like a Sprout.” Pomona slumped, playing with the edge of one of her sleeves. Mum and Dad always made the Sprout children put on their uniforms before leaving the house for the station. They were proud of their blood, and proud of their house.
“Don’t worry,” Henry said simply, as if just because he said so, she didn’t have to. She frowned up at him. He looked down, an odd look in his eye.
“What?” she demanded, pushing him away.
“Well, it’s just that—I don’t think they expect you to be Sorted—” he stopped himself. “It’ll be alright. No matter what happens, just remember, the Hat knows best.
“The Hat knows best,” Pomona repeated, feeling slightly better despite herself. She nodded, and headed down the stairs after Henry when Mother called.
“Are you ready?” Mum asked, smiling slightly, as she apprehended her youngest child.
“Sure, Mum,” Pomona said, nodding and trying to smile.
It was a silent ride to the station, besides the tittering of Sloane and Bonnie over Bonnie’s new Head Girl badge, and Sloane’s new Prefect one. Pomona groaned inwardly—everyone in her family was so perfect!
When they reached King’s Cross, the regular procession took place. Mum and Dad lead the pack over to the barrier between 9 and 10, and proceeded through without looking back or unlinking their arms. Bonnie and Sloane followed suit, then Lumina with her nose glued to a crossword, and then Pomona and Henry ended the scene, leaning up against the metal casually and falling through when no one was looking.
The platform always smelled the same: damp, metallic, and vaguely of peppermint. It was always crowded, too, and Henry grabbed Pomona’s hand to lead her towards the steam engine.
The rest of her family was saying their goodbyes by the door, and her father was helping load the trunks into the train. Pomona was nervous to board, and reluctant when Henry took her trunk and headed in with it. He emerged with their father a few minutes later, smiling and greeting others who raised their hands upon passing.
“Go on, Pomona, the train pulls out in a few minutes,” Mother said, glancing at her watch, then gathering her in a light hug before herding her onto the train.
“Wait,” Henry said, before grabbing Pomona’s hand. “I have something for you.”
Pomona paused, eyeing Henry suspiciously. She’d seen him give gifts to each of their sisters on their first years of Hogwarts, and they were usually Dungbombs or bits of Cocroach cluster. But to her surprise, he pulled out a tiny pot from behind his back and pressed it into her hand. “Bye, Po,” he said, ruffling her hair. He retreated to stand with their parents on the platform, and Pomona walked through the train, seeking an empty compartment. When she found one, she walked in, closing the door behind her.
She sat down, loosening her plain, black tie to allow her deeper breaths. She looked at the pot in her hands—Snapdragons. A mundane plant, with no magical properties, but very beautiful. Pomona pinched two fingers around one of the buds, opening and clasping the tiny mouth of the dragon.
The train began to move; Pomona suddenly felt a wave of anxiety flood over her. She missed her family, she wasn’t ready—she ran to the window, pressing her face up against it, watching her family, a small cluster on the platform, disappear as the train rounded a bend.
I’ll be loving you always, always.
There was a small rap at the glass on the compartment door. Pomona turned and saw her sisters standing outside, peering in. She crossed the compartment quickly and slid the door open, stepping back to let them in.
Bonnie’s Head Girl badge gleamed brightly against her black robes, and she lost no time in reminding Pomona that she would soon have to leave to sit with the other Prefects and Head Boy up front. Sloane nodded eagerly, adjusting her silver and green tie, smiling brightly.
“I’ll be going, too,” she said, puffing up proudly.
“What were you looking at, Mona?” Lumina asked, crossing the compartment to sit down by Pomona, a crossword in hand and a pencil behind her ear.
“Nothing,” Pomona said, fingering the rim of her pot quietly.
A/N: lyrics in this story also from Coldplay's Parachute: "i'll be loving you always, always."