Looking up at the cloudy sky, a strong wind blew, and I knew it would rain. My mother pulled me to her chest and hugged me tightly. We stood outside King’s Cross station, my trunk and owl sat on the trolley just next to us. Since second year I had begun forcing my mother to say goodbye before I entered the train station. As a Slytherin it would not go over well if I were to be seen with my very Muggle looking mother. It wasn’t a secret that I was Muggle-born – no that secret had been discovered in the first week I was at Hogwarts – but any possible advantage given to Pansy Parkinson and my other classmates to bully me had to be avoided. So I said goodbye to my mother outside and pushed my trolley to platform nine and three quarters alone.
Coming to the barrier, I leaned against the cold metal and felt myself enter platform nine and three quarters. The large scarlet train caught my eyes, and for a moment I didn’t move while my eyes glanced across the crowd of students and their families. Some had changed into their robes, and I was glad that I had chosen to wear my robes to the station. Pushing my trolley forward I aimed for an open path that had appeared through the crowd. But as I made that first step something moving next to me caught my eye. Turning my trolley towards the wall, and pushing it slowly down my eyes widened at the posters plastered there.
“The escaped madman Sirius Black,” a familiar voice said behind me.
I didn’t look at Theodore Nott, my attention concentrated on the posters. I had seen them in Diagon Alley when I had gone to get my school supplies a month earlier, and my stomach sank as I realised my estranged father had followed me to even Hogwarts. But I should have known that it would. Everyone was talking about the escaped convict whom had found a way to overcome the Dementors who guarded the prison from the Leaky Cauldron to the shops in Diagon Alley. Even Muggles were talking about the escaped prisoner as it had been broadcast on Muggle news. The whole world wanted to know where he was, and I was perhaps the only person who didn’t.
“Not all that terrifying really,” added Theodore who had taken my silence as indifference.
“Did you save a compartment?” I looked at him, finding it easy to turn away from the posters. The man in them was not the same man my mother had so often described. In fact shortly after Dumbledore’s visit after going through her old Polaroids I had found one of handsome aristocratic looking young man who had turned out to be my father. For a long time I had stared at this photograph marvelling at our similarity. The black hair, the gray eyes, the shape of my face, the way I smiled. My curiosity in this man had ended shortly after my first year began. I had researched his name in the Hogwarts library and the discovery of his offences were enough to convince me that I wanted nothing to do with him.
“Yes, the furthest one from Malfoy’s,” said Theodore.
“Perfect,” I smiled.
Pushing the trolley towards the train, Theodore met me at the train and helped me put my trunk into the luggage rack. Glancing behind me at the goodbye-ing families, I grunted and followed Theodore to our compartment. As we went we passed what seemed to be the entire Weasley family and Harry Potter. Our compartment’s must be close, I assumed, and I hoped that they wouldn’t make too much fuss. Harry Potter and his friends had always been rather irritating. Heroic, yes, reckless and mad – hell yes. They lived their lives, and I lived my own.
Settling into our compartment, Theodore took the corner seat next to the window, and I sat across from him.
“Did your father come?” I asked.
“No,” said Theodore, “Had a meeting with a trader, far more important than seeing me off.”
I pulled a face. “He has strange priorities.”
“I don’t see your father winning father-of-the-year,” countered Theodore.
“Touche,” I smirked. Theodore didn’t know the identity of my father, simply that he wasn’t around.
“Have you chosen what electives you’re going to take this year?”
“Definitely not Divination. I looked at the textbooks – what a joke? I’m going to take Ancient Runes and Arithmacy.” I told him.
“At least Divination has some magical lesson. I don’t understand Muggle Studies, there is no real world application in that,” said Theodore.
I nodded in agreement. Despite being a Muggle-born I wasn’t so proud like others. I couldn’t really understand the interest some witches and wizards had in the Muggle world. After all they had magic – they didn’t need to concern themselves on how Muggles survived. But I wasn’t so extreme like many of my Pureblood classmates who believed Muggles to be a lower species. I was in the middle, as expected. I loved the magical world, and I loved being a witch. But I wasn’t going to despise those who didn’t have powers. And the precautions put in place to keep the magical world from the Muggle protected both worlds and allowed it to co-exist without harming either groups.
Theodore and I had little to talk about. There was nothing exciting to tell from our summers home, and we resorted to entertaining ourselves. Theodore fished a copy of Transfiguration today from his robes while I chose to get a head start on my potions book. Seeing as my Head of house taught potions, I had always tried to know as much as possible so I didn’t disappoint Professor Snape. Unlike other Slytherin’s I didn’t have relatives who knew Snape, nor did I depend on my being a Slytherin to simply ensure he would pass me.
Theodore had all these advantages but didn’t really need them. Bookish, he spent most of his time reading and researching whatever interested him. We spent a large amount of time in the library during the school year, and I often wondered why Theodore hadn’t been a Ravenclaw with his need for knowledge. However, he did have a Slytherin streak. He didn’t hide behind his books like some Ravenclaw’s, and he had his fixed opinions. I often felt that he was planning something when I looked into his dark hazel eyes. What, I did not know, and I knew he would never tell me.
Our friendship was simple. We were the outcasts in our year, neither of us wishing to be a part of Malfoy’s gang we found companionship in our understood defiance. We had little in common besides our attitudes. Theodore was the son of a wealthy Pureblood Aethonan breeder who I was fairly certain was once a Death Eater. His mother had died in childbirth, and he had been raised by the family’s house elf. He loved Transfiguration and Greek mythology. He rarely seemed interested in doing anything I described as ‘fun’ but he did have a sense of humour.
As the scenery outside the train grew wilder, the clouds became darker and soon rain began to spatter against the window. Turning my attention from the potions book I chose to take a break. Staring absently, I felt quite content. The monotony that had occurred over the summer had been maddening and I had counted down the days to when I returned to Hogwarts. My second home, I enjoyed being surrounded by all things magical, and at times enjoyed being surrounded by people my age.
Going to my trunk I fetched my camera and equipment. It had been my birthday present from my mother; she had found a book at Flourish and Blott’s explaining the magical process that allowed for the pictures to move. Sitting back down in my seat I began fiddling with the different components, adjusting the exposure and testing a few shots.
“What is that?”
“Really, Theo, I would expect you to know what a camera is.” I teased.
Theodore did not look impressed with my jibe. “I know that; what are you doing with it?”
“Taking photo’s – you don’t think I could do something else with it do you? Toast some bread?” I suggested.
“Shut up,” grumbled Theodore.
“Are you telling me you want your picture taken?” I laughed.
“No!” exclaimed Theodore. But it was too late. I had raised the camera, aimed, and snap, the picture was taken. Theodore looked irritated. “I hate you.”
I laughed again. “I’m sure it turned out well.”
“Well, it’s only fair,” Theodore leaned forward and snatched the camera from my hands, “That you should have your picture taken as well.”
“That is definitely not going to turn out,” I said taking the camera back. Theodore smirked. I took another picture and his smile fell.
Pulling out his wand, before I could react, he said, “Wingardium Leviosa.”
“Theo!” I complained as my camera hung in the air just out of reach. Standing on the seat, I clutched the luggage rack to steady myself on the moving train while reaching with my free hand for my camera. To my annoyance Theodore waved his wand again muttering ‘Accio’ and the camera flew straight into his hand.
Theodore laughed as he watched me struggle to get off the seat, nearly falling over as the train began to twist North-West. Finally standing straight, I held my hand out for my camera.
Theodore nodded, a smile still fixed on his face. “Truce,” said Theodore as he handed my camera over. Once safely in my hands, I swatted him on the side of the head and retook my seat, looking over my camera in case of any damage that may have been caused.
“I’m sure it’s unscathed,” said Theodore in a passive tone.
I glared at him. “I don’t exactly have the money to buy a new one if it breaks.”
Theodore rolled his eyes. “I would replace it.”
“No you wouldn’t,” I argued. It’s not that he actually wouldn’t, I just wouldn’t allow him to.
“Well only if I broke it, of course,” continued Theodore.
After further inspection I decided that it was unharmed, and I replaced my camera in its bag and returned it to my trunk. I traded my potions book for my magical photography book and retook my seat across from Theodore. He was staring out the window, and I followed his line of sight. The rain had turned into a dark storm and the wind seemed to howl over the noise of the moving train.
“Well if it isn’t Slytherin’s two favourite loners?”
Draco Malfoy’s irritating drawl could be recognised anywhere. With a scowl I met his smirking eyes.
“And if it isn’t Slytherin’s favourite pris – I mean prince.” I gave a forceful smile.
Goyle and Crabbe – his two cronies standing behind him – chuckled, and Malfoy managed to play it cool. Stepping into the compartment he turned his attention to Theodore, who wore an amused expression on his face.
“Nott, does your father know you’re spending so much time in such close quarters to a Mudblood?” I couldn’t see Malfoy’s face, but I knew it to be a threatening one. Theodore did not look phased. He had been criticised for spending so much time with me hundreds of times before.
“Do not pretend you have any control over me, Malfoy,” said Theodore getting to his feet. Despite his weedy frame he was taller than Malfoy, and at this moment looked a lot more convincing.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” said Malfoy.
The two boys stood there for some time, neither wanting to be the first to back down. Taking this as my cue, I cleared my throat.
“Boys, if you’re done I would like to get back to my reading. As a Mudblood it’s important that I keep up with my studies.” I made sure my words contained all the acidity as possible. Malfoy’s eyes flashed to me for a moment but it was enough to break the tension between he and Theodore. Backing away Malfoy turned his back on Theodore and I and disappeared down the train corridor to bother whoever else was on their list. Theodore slammed the compartment door and returned to his seat, a look of annoyance on his face.
“Eventually he is going to get tired of the same line.”
“Personally I don’t mind if he uses the same one. I won’t have to think of any other responses.” Theodore crossed his arms over his shoulders.
“Your father would probably like you more if you didn’t hang out with me.” I said, feeling a wave of honesty hit me.
“My father would like me more if I simply wasn’t alive, so I can’t really blame our non-existent relationship on you.” Theodore spoke with such finality, I decided it was best to drop the subject. I was forcing him into territory he didn’t like entering. He had explained long ago that the relationship he had with his father was far past the point of saving, that Theodore’s very existence was enough for his father to dislike him.
Silence fell over us, and I stared uncomfortably at the floor of our compartment while Theodore busied himself with straightening his robes and ensuring that his hair lay flat in the window reflection. Then, the train came to a sudden halt, and my attention turned to Theodore who was looking wildly to the train corridor.
“What’s going on?” I asked, despite knowing that Theodore didn’t have any answers. The lights flickered off, and we both pressed our faces to the window.
“Do you see anything?” asked Theodore.
“No, it’s pitch black.” I said, sitting back in my seat.
“I can hardly see anything, I’m going to find the conductor and ask,” decided Theodore, and I vaguely saw him stand and walk over to the sliding door. After he fumbled, he found the handle and slid it open. “I’ll be back.”
“Wait,” I said suddenly. I shivered. “Don’t you feel that?” The compartment had turned icy cold, and I heard yelp of someone in the aisle. Theodore stumbled back from the door, and I cringed as he stepped on my foot and fell into the seat next to me. “What are you doing?” I hissed, shoving him away, but the air caught in my throat as I saw my answer. A dark, cloaked figured seemed to almost float past our compartment For a moment it paused at our door, it’s hollow moth and covered face staring at us. My body drained of all warmth, and I found myself clutching Theodore’s forearm, hiding behind him. After a moment it drifted away to look into another compartment.
Theodore and I sat frozen in our positions. I had never felt so cold before, and my mind kept drifting to the memories when I went to Muggle school. Children laughing at me – a girl teasing me for having no father and a poor mother. My first day as a Slytherin, and all the girls ignoring me for having a Muggle name. The way Theodore seemed to twitch next to me, I knew he was having the same dark memories – if not worse.
I heard a shout in the next compartment, and I watched as a blinding light filled the corridor. The dark floating figure backed away from the light and disappeared. The cold disappeared, but shaking did not stop. Theodore, clearly shaken moved away from me, and I let go of his arm. The lights flickered back on, and I saw a cloaked man run past the compartment door, and after a few minutes the train began to move again.
“What was that?” I asked, my voice sounding nothing like it should. It was whispery and quiet.
“Dementor,” Theodore said in a ragged voice. He was clutching the seat, his knuckles white.
“Why would it be on the train?”
“He said Sirius’ Black’s name.” Theodore met my eyes. There was worry in his. “They were looking for him on the train.”
“Why would he be on the train?” I didn’t understand. I felt my body go numb, why would Sirius Black be on the train? Did he know about me? Was that why?
“For Harry Potter – Black was loyal to You-Know-Who. He might want to finish the job.” Theodore gave me a pointed look.
“This is all such nonsense. They just can’t roam wherever they like. Especially aboard a train full of students incapable of protecting themselves. I should write the Ministry – complain.” I grumbled, crossing my arms.
“You sound like Malfoy,”
I raised an eyebrow. “I’d have to be threatening to tell my father if I were him.”
Theodore smiled, but didn’t chuckle like I expected. He turned his attention away from me and to the floor. His face was clouded, and I knew whatever the Dementor had stirred in him was still running through his mind. After a second though he seemed to have recovered, and returned to his previous seat across from me.
There was a knock at our compartment, and I was surprised to see the cloaked man who had run past earlier standing at the door.
“Sorry to bother you, my name is Remus Lupin, I’m the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Are you all right?” he introduced, stepping inside.
“We’re fine,” Theodore answered.
The man – Professor Lupin took out of his pocket some chocolate. “Eat this, it will make you feel better.” He handed us both a piece. Theodore and I both took a piece, and I stared at him with a questioning expression. “The endorphins in chocolate help with the effect that Dementor’s have. Trust me, it will help.”
I decided not to question it any longer and took bite of the chocolate. Sure enough, as soon as I swallowed I began to feel my head clear and become lighter. Glancing up at the Professor I nodded my head to show that it had worked and without another word he left.
“Looks a little worn to be a Professor,” Theodore commented, finishing his chocolate.
“You sound like Malfoy.” I teased, and Theodore scoffed.
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