Chapter 2 : Train Ride to Hogwarts
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My mum drove through the traffic, dodging in between cars wherever she could. We were running late this morning and if we didn’t get to the station soon I would miss the train. The windshield wipers were moving back and forth frantically as the rain pounded on the roof of the car. I stared at the window, watching the raindrops run down the side, placing bets on which one would be the first to reach the bottom. Timothy yawned quietly in the back and I turned around to watch him. He was sitting in his car seat playing with some stuffed animal, though I couldn’t tell what it was due to the amount of dirt it had accumulated. Sitting on the seat next to him was a small cage where Solomon mewed quietly. Solomon was the cat I bought during my first year at Hogwarts. I was heading down Diagon Alley and entered a little pet shop off to the side. And there he was, sitting in a bin of black kittens; I immediately fell in love with him. He was all black except for his tiny white paws, which were just like socks. I’m not sure why, but the moment I saw him I knew he was a 'Solomon' and he's gone by that since I took him home that very day. Sure owls were useful and all, but why buy an owl when everyone else at school has one and I can just borrow a school owl if I have to send a letter? At least I could lay down with a cat, and cuddle with him when I was upset.
Mum came to a stop and raced out of the car, hurriedly acquiring a trolley for my things. As she ran back to the car, I unbuckled and rushed to open the backseat, pulling my trunk out and placing it on the trolley, then Solomon on top. Mum zipped over to unbuckle Timothy and once the car was locked we dashed inside the train station at top speed and went straight over to the space between Platforms 9 and 10. Then, taking a deep breath, we ran through the brick barrier, coming to a stop when the screech of owls and laughter of students rang in our ears. Most kids were already on the train so I turned to my family, ready to say a quick goodbye.
“Have a good semester dear, and write often,” Mum said, pulling me into a tight hug, “Give my love to Lily and Alice won’t you.”
“Sure thing, and give a hug to dad for me,” I said as I reached for Timothy, pulling him out of my mother’s arms, “Be good now and I promise I won’t be gone long.”
I ruffled his sandy brown hair and kissed his fat cheek. Handing him back to mum and twirling around, I raced to the train and quickly boarded, as its engine came to life, its whistle blowing.
As I lugged my trunk down the corridor, I passed multiple compartments, looking into each one to see if I could spot Lily or Alice. Finally, after looking into about fifteen compartments, I spotted my red headed best friend, shoving a trunk onto the luggage rack above her head. I slid open the door and pulled my trunk over the threshold, almost toppling in the process.
“Hey there Haley,” Alice said, not even looking up from the Daily Prophet she held in her hands.
“How did you know it was me?” I asked quizzically as I placed my trunk next to Lily’s.
“You’re the only person I know who trips on the threshold of train compartments every single time without fail,” She said, laughing, looking up from the prophet, her eyes shining.
“She’s right you know. You did the same thing the first day I met you,” Lily pointed out, turning to face me. She eyed me up and down and continued, “Wow, you’ve changed over the summer Haley.”
I pulled my sweater tighter around me, uncomfortable with their eyes.
“I don’t think so, I look the exactly the same as I did last time I saw you guys. You two are just saying that,” I responded, taking a seat next to the window. I always loved watching the scenery pass by.
“Come on Haley, don’t be so shy; stand up and let's take a look at you!” Alice encouraged, as she pulled me to my feet.
I stood with my back to the window and shoulders slouched, facing my two best friends. I wore a cream knit sweater with wooden buttons along the side and a white v neck shirt underneath. I let go of the sides of the sweater and let my hands fall to my sides as they looked me up and down, each of them nodding and smiling.
“It’s like your body has grown up over summer!” Alice said, almost giggling. I knew what she was talking about. My once flat chest had developed over the summer, along with the thinning of my legs and tummy. I did quite liked the changes. They meant that I no longer possessed the chubby looks of a child, but at the same time, I was uncomfortable with the changes as well. My mum had insisted on pointing it out to all of the family while I was in the room which resulted in them each taking turns to discuss how much I’d changed.
I'd always hated being the centre of attention; it just wasn't me. I was much more content to sit in the background like I always did.
“I’ve got to head to the Prefect’s compartment; I’m supposed to see who the Head boy is and talk to the new Prefects. I’ll be back after,” Lily said, leaving the cart and heading off down the corridor.
I took a seat next to the window again and faced Alice. Alice had been lucky enough to spend nearly her entire summer in Italy with Frank. I couldn't help but feel a tiny twang of envy.
“So how was your summer? How was Italy?” I asked her.
“It was amazing! It most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. One day, he and I are going to go back! You know, live there and grow old and all that. He told me he was going to marry me the other day! He really is the one for me, Haley,” She was lighting up the way she always did when someone brought up Frank.
“I’m so happy for you, Alice! Everyone has always known you two would be together forever. When he sees you, it’s like the two of you are magnets, he never leaves you’re side unless he has to,” I said beaming. And I really was happy for her, but at the same time I was just a little jealous that my friend had found her soul mate and here I was, never even been kissed.
“Meet any cute boys this summer?” She asked, expectantly.
I know she wanted me to say yes; she and Lily were always trying to find someone for me. I knew their intentions were good, but it never failed to make me feel awful about myself. Here I was, seventeen and enjoying my last year at school, ready to make my way into the wizarding world as a Healer, and I had never been kissed, never gone on a date with a boy, never even been asked on a date with a (normal) boy. I didn’t want to spend the entire year being pushed towards boy after boy that I knew would never talk to me, so I went with the only obvious solution. I lied.
“I did,” I answered, blushing slightly from the lie. Luckily, I think she probably saw that as me blushing because I was embarrassed of the memories the fake boy and I had shared.
“What’s his name?” She asked excitedly, jumping a little in her seat.
“His name, is, Jeff. He’s a muggle that just moved in down the street from me. I ran into him at the corner store,” I said, hoping it would pass off as a likely scenario.
“Ooh! What does he look like? Have you two snogged yet?” She asked, desperate for details. I thought for a moment, trying to think of what Jeff would look like if he existed.
“He’s got light blue eyes and this really dark brown hair, uh, really good looking, you know? We’ve hung out once or twice, though we haven’t snogged yet. I know it won’t go anywhere though,” I hoped that this would deter any future questions about him.
Just then, the door to out compartment slid open and in came James Potter, followed by Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew, thankfully saving her from any more questions about “Jeff”.
“Hello James,” Alice greeted him, rolling her eyes and bringing the prophet to her face again.
“Hey Alice,” The scrawny boy said, as he took a seat next to the door, “Don’t mind if I wait here for Lily, do you?” He said, eyes scanning the corridor before focusing on the occupants within the cart.
“Regardless of what I say, you're not going to leave, are you?” She replied,
Peter took a seat beside me and I watched him out of the corner of my eye. He wasn’t very tall and he was slightly chubby. I never understood why he hung out with them; he never really fit in at all, though they seemed not to care.
“Hey there, you won’t ignore us like mean old Alice here, will you?” Sirius asked placing an arm around Alice which she shook off.
I turned to face him, amazed that he was speaking to me. Whenever James was following Lily, Sirius would usually turn his attention to Remus or Peter; so why was he looking at me?
I gave a quick nod in his direction, my face growing slightly hot. I wasn't used to attention from someone like Sirius Black. He chuckled and started trying to get James' attention by pulling him into a Quidditch oriented conversation. I turned my attention to the landscape flying by the window, hoping nobody would notice that my cheeks had now well and truly turned a light shade of pink.
Once again, I heard the compartment door slide open, turning this time, to face Frank Longbottom. He was a taller guy, a little chubby around the middle, with slight buckteeth. Personally not my cup of tea, but Alice was looking at him like he was the king of good looks. He swiftly moved over and sat beside her, wrapping his arms around her entire frame as she rested her head on his chest. Feeling like I was intruding on something private, I quickly looked away and my eyes found Sirius, who was looking at me with a quizzical expression.
“Why don’t you ever talk?” he asked me, his black shaggy hair falling carelessly in his eyes. I felt my cheeks heat up again and I avoided his gaze, hoping he wouldn’t notice.
“I talk plenty. I just haven’t talked since you came in, that’s all.” I said, bringing my eyes to him when I finished, and judging by the smile on his face, he must have noticed my blushing.
“Don’t pick on her Padfoot, she’s Lily’s best friend. I don’t need her thinking my friends are harassing hers,” James said seriously, ruffling his black hair as he looked at me.
“I’m not picking on her, just asking a question. As a matter of fact, I think I’ve only ever heard her speak when Lily was around or she was answering a question in class. What about you?” He asked turning to James who thought for a moment, then slowly shook his head.
“What about you Wormy? Have you?” Sirius said facing Peter. I turned to see Peter racking his brain and then shake his head along with James.
"I don't think she likes talking to us very much." Petere said, almost eging Siruis on. I was becoming uncomfortable with the way this conversation was turning, but unfortunately, Alice was too wrapped up in Frank’s presence, to even notice.
“I’ve been following Lily around for years, and you're always talking before we get there, then once I interrupt you go all quiet till we leave.” James said, looking straight at me.
“Why don’t you like talking when we’re around?” Sirius asked, a smile playing on his lips.
This was a game to him and I wasn’t amused.
“I’d rather not get wrapped up in your silly antics, thanks very much.” I snapped, getting defensive and irritated rather quickly. I’m not usually the type of person to let my temper get the best of me, but I couldn't seem to help it just now for some reason. He faked a hurt expression and he now had the eyes of not only James and Peter, but also Frank and Alice. I could feel my cheeks grow hotter.
“And what silly antics are you referring to?” He asked, chuckling.
“Oh come on, everyone knows; you two love being the centre of attention. I mean, You torture that kid Severus, always bothering him and playing nasty pranks, just because he’s a Slytherin,” I said, remembering all the horrible things Lily told me they had done to the poor boy.
“How do you know he didn’t deserve it, right James?” Sirius asked, turning to his friend for support, though he received none, for at the moment, Lily appeared in the doorway with Remus behind her. She seemed to radiate anger.
“James Potter, you and your friends need to get out of this compartment at once!” She hissed, staring at him with a formidable glare.
“But Sirius said that, not me! He and your friend were talking and he brought it up. Don’t get mad at me, Lils’!” James pleaded, trying to worm his way out of being banned from the same compartment as her.
I looked at Lily and saw that her expression did not waver; the only solution would be for him and the rest of the Marauders to simply leave. They must have realized that also because they all filed out, heading back to their own compartment one by one.
“I can’t stand him! He never leaves me alone. He's always at my heels. If he asks me out again this year, I swear to Merlin, I will hex him into oblivion. He knows nothing about me and I can’t even talk to a normal boy because he manages to find out and ruin everything. I can’t stand him, ugh!” Lily yelled in frustration, as she collapsed on the seat next to me.
“You never give him the chance to get to know you though, Lily, so he never leaves alone. He doesn’t know enough about you to hate you.” Alice said smartly which only made Lily sigh heavily.
They continued chatting about something but I wasn’t really paying much attention; my mind was on Sirius. If I was being truthful, I had to admit, I did find him slightly attractive; the way his black hair fell into his grey eyes. I certainly understood why many girls swooned at the sight of him and I used to think I certainly never would. Oh, how wrong I was.
The Hogwarts Express came to a halt as we pulled into the station, rain still pouring down. I followed Lily and Alice off the train, trying my best to not slip in the sticky mud. Though to my dismay, as I walked over to the carriages, I tripped and landed in the mud though. Thankfully, I managed to put my hands out in front of me so I wouldn’t fall flat on my face. I heard chuckles from students all around but one more distinct than the rest; a bark like laugh from behind. I stood up, face burning from embarrassment, and tried siphoning the mud off me with my wand, though with no light to see where all the mud was, I wasn’t sure how much I had gotten off. I sighed and pulled myself into the carriage, taking a seat beside Lily who was talking to Frank about NEWT’s. Alice just looked at me as I sat down, shaking her head, not at all surprised that I had fallen. We arrived at the castle promptly, and I practically ran through the front doors, letting the warmth seep through my school robes.
Professor McGonagall was standing in the doorway, overseeing the students that were entering. She took one look at me and shook her head, just like Alice had, before cleaning my robes with a swish of her wand.
“Thanks Professor,” I smiled, examining my mud free robes.
“You welcome Miss Carlson, though please try to stay out of the Hospital Wing this year,” She said as I made my way to the Great Hall.
I spotted Lily, Alice and Frank, already at the Gryffindor table. They must have walked right past me, I thought as I went over to join them, taking a seat directly opposite to them. Just as I sat down, James hurried over, taking a seat next to Lily, followed by the three other Marauders. Remus took a seat next to me, followed by Peter, while Sirius sat next to James.
I looked to down the hall, to the door to see McGonagall enter with the Sorting Hat in one hand and a roll of parchment in the other. She was followed by a group of shivering first years. Poor things had to cross the Black Lake in this awful weather. I never paid much attention to the sorting, I mean, why would I? It’s not like I would talk to any of the new students and I didn’t have any family coming to the school anytime soon. I usually just zoned out during the sorting, clapping when I saw people around me doing the same. Lily kicked me just then under the table and nodded her head to the podium, where Professor Dumbledore was standing, waiting for the students’ attention, though he never had to wait long.
“Welcome, to another year at Hogwarts. I trust everyone had a good summer, though now it’s time to fill our heads with knowledge. I won’t keep you long as I suspect you all are hungry, so to you I say tuck in!” Dumbledore said, smiling all the while. With a wave of his hands, food appeared up and down the table and I directed my attention to the heaping bowl of mashed potatoes with gravy in front of me and piled it on my plate. If I had to eat one food for the rest of my life, it’d be mashed potatoes, hands down. I poured myself a goblet of pumpkin juice and quickly dug into the food in front of me.
As dinner wore on, the Great Hall was getting louder and louder as more people were focusing on talking and not the welcome back feast. As I set my goblet back down, none other than Remus Lupin tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention.
“Hey, you’re Haley right?” He asked, his golden flecked eyes shining as he smiled.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Was all I managed to say in return.
“I’m Remus,” He said as he held out a hand for me to shake. Slowly but surely, I shook his hand, amazed that we were having a conversation. I really am incredibly shy.
“Yeah, you’re Head Boy this year with Lily, right?” I said, trying to not seem like a complete ditz.
“Yeah. Was that your little brother you were hugging on the Platform back in London?” He asked, seeming like he was genuinely interested.
“Oh, yeah that’s him. His name’s Timothy,” I informed him. I don’t know why, but talking to him made me nervous. Remus I mean, not Timothy. I played with my hair, twirling it over my shoulders while hoping to make the feeling go away. I obviously wasn’t used to all this attention from a guy.
“He looks just like you,” He said, once again smiling.
Remus was always wearing shabby looking clothes, but for some reason, no one ever really paid attention and focused more on his dashing good looks. His sandy brown hair really made the gold flecks in his eyes pop and he had a way of capturing you with a warm smile, though I doubt he even knew what he was doing.
“You think so?” I asked, amazed that he thought we looked alike.
“Yeah! Don't you?”
“Well, no. I never saw it. We have different fathers so I never really looked for the similarities between us,” I finished in an off-hand voice.
“Oh, well, I completely see the resemblance between you two,” He said before turning back to the table and focusing his attention to the dessert that had now appeared along the table.
I was full from all of the potatoes, so I just sat back and observed everyone around me.
Maybe this year was going to be different. Maybe this year, I was going to have to stop being so shy.
Author's note : So, what did you think about it? Reviews make my day so please just stop by towards the bottom and leave me a review telling me what you think. Thanks a ton :)
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