A/n: This chapter was Beta'd by the amazing SeverusSnape15 :) xxx
1st September 2025
The clock hit five til eleven and the five minute warning whistle sounded. Suddenly, the noise of the platform increased tenfold as everyone began to wish their families goodbye.
“Have you got everything you need?” Dad asked again, bending down to look me in the eyes. I sighed; it was the seventh time he had asked me in the last ten minutes.
“Yes Dad: My wand, my quills, and my robes are in my travel bag.” I patted the brown shoulder bag which was resting on my lap “I have my school books, I have money for Hogsmeade, I have Clive,” I nodded at my Owl, who was perched on my trunk. “And I have food for Clive.”
Dad smiled at me and ruffled my light blonde hair affectionately. I’ve never looked much like my Dad at all, I take fully after my mum in that department; but I have always been close with my Dad. The only physical attribute of his I have are his ears, which aren’t much – but I think they’re brilliant! Mentally, though, we are the strongest people I know.
I scowled at my Dad after he messed up my hair, and tried to smooth it down so I looked vaguely presentable. He laughed at me then quickly glanced around the platform.
“Righto kiddo, let’s get you on the train!”
Let’s get you on the train …
This was the bit I hated. Everyone started. You'd think by now people would have accepted that I needed help for certain things, but no. Every minute of every day, there are eyes constantly watching me.
Not wanting to look at all the staring faces, I shut my eyes tight as my arms wrapped themselves securely around Dad’s neck. Being a keen Quidditch player, he was strong, even if he didn’t look it. He lifted me with ease (like a young child would be lifted) into the nearest carriage and then walked along the train until he found an empty compartment. With a smile he placed me on one of the seats and then retreated to gather my belongings and more importantly my chair.
The compartment was stuffy and I could hear excited first years in the one directly behind me. The fabric on the seats was fraying, and the door frame looked extremely rickety.
To avoid looking at the depressing carriage, I glanced out of the window on my right, and saw Louis hugging his tearful mother goodbye. She looked up as they were doing so and saw me watching them. Normally, I would be mortified at someone catching me staring at them, but Louis’s family were the nicest people I had ever met. They had been with me from the moment my accident occurred. Mrs. Weasley whispered something in his ear and he spun around to wave at me enthusiastically. I returned the wave before looking to my left in time to see my belongings levitated into the compartment. Dad grinned as he placed my trunk on the luggage rack, then collapsed my chair with a flick of his wand. He placed it on top of my trunk and finally, rested Clive's cage on the seat next to my own.
After he had finished sorting my stuff, he turned and embraced me in a warm, heartfelt hug.
“Have a good term Aine; I’ll see you at Christmas!” He kissed me on the cheek “Your mother sends her love.” I smiled weakly and watched as he retreated from the carriage.
Sure, like my mother sent her love. She hasn’t been able to look at me properly since the day of my accident. Something triggered in her when she saw me in the hospital wing and ever since then, she’s always had to work whenever there has been an important event for me. Whether it was a Doctor’s appointment, a healer’s appointment, or my departure or arrival from King's Cross station. The only time I hear from her is when she has found a ‘ground-breaking new medical procedure which may enable me to walk again.’ We both know they will never work, but somehow, for some reason, she keeps trying.
I know she needs something to cling on to – some ray of hope, but I know now that I will never walk again. The thing I want most is to fly. To feel the wind in my hair and have all the noises of the world blocked from me. Flying was like being in my own personal bubble, an escape from the world. I never really ever had friends, why would I when I was going to play professional Quidditch – it’s a dog eat dog world trying to get on a team and only the greatest succeed. Dad never had many friends at school; he had his Quidditch team, which was all he needed to get by. I don’t have that now; all I have are my Father and Louis. My only two friends. No one else gets me. No one else understands.
The train whistle sounded and I heard all the doors slamming. I looked out of the window to wave to Dad and saw that he was standing next to Bill. I beamed at him and waved enthusiastically – he didn’t need to know I was lonely. Dad waved back until the train rounded the corner, after which I sank back onto my seat and closed my eyes.
However, a loud slamming noise immediately jolted them open and I turned to see some fifth or sixth year girls at the door of my compartment.
“Oh, it’s her,” said a spotty fourth year, looking me up and down “Let’s go elsewhere guys.”
They left silently – a few taking the time to stare at my face, and then my legs before running on to catch up with their friends.
Those were the worst times, when people treated me like I was disease ridden. My disability isn’t contagious, but people still act like it is. I always feel isolated and alone.
The door to my compartment slid open and again and my eyes flicked quickly up, worried that it would be the fourth years back for another look.
Standing in the doorway was a grinning, sandy blonde haired, freckled boy. He was about five foot twelve and was already in his Hogwarts robes.
“All right Aine,” Louis chuckled as he strolled casually into my compartment and took the seat opposite me. ‘Good summer?’
I smiled at him – a true smile. “Same old, Mum got me to try some new muggle treatment, Dad acted as though I was going to shatter any second, and Clive went on strike because we bought the wrong food for him. Yourself?”
Louis laughed and began telling me about the disastrous wedding planning which was occurring in his house. Apparently, Victoire was much more ratty than usual with the prospects of becoming a wife. As Louis spoke about the manic nature of his house, my mind wandered. Louis was, what I would consider to be, my best friend. He was always there for me when I needed help around school. I could send him a Patronus if I was in a tight spot, and most of all he treated me like he treated everyone else.
Yet, Louis worried me. I was forever afraid that he was only my friend because, all be it accidentally, it was down to him that I couldn’t walk. I don’t blame him in the slightest – accidents happen – but I couldn’t help but wonder if he would be there for me after our last year of Hogwarts, or would he vanish from my life, like so many other people.
I came out of my trance just in time to hear him proclaim that, “so to be honest, it’s a relief that we’re going back to Hogwarts right now, I don’t think I could stand another day in the same house as Vic!”
I laughed, Victoire did seem like a handful! Louis pushed his hand through his hair and sighed. He sat forward and I saw his fang earring swing from his ear. He put his calloused hands together and looked me straight in the eye.
“So Aine, tell me about your Mum, what was this new treatment?”
His blue eyes penetrated my own and I gave in, how could I not?
“Mum spends a lot of time on a muggle device called a computer,” I began as the countryside outside slowly changed from fields to rocky hills. “On this computer, she looks for new ways to try and get me to walk again. In the muggle world, my injury is known as T5, which basically means that I have no feeling from the middle of my rib cage and below,” I paused briefly to take a breath.
Louis nodded seriously and gestured his hands for me to continue.
‘This summer she has discovered something called ‘Hydrotherapy,’ which is a form of water treatment. It’s very unlikely that it will work. In fact, Dad and I know it won’t work, but we nod along. Mum is contacting a doctor in America for more information.’
Louis let out a low whistle – “Does that woman ever stop?”
I let out a weak laugh.
“Not at all. I know it’s all for me,and that she’s doing it for me. We all want the same thing – we all want me to be able to walk, and her way is to look at muggle treatments. She can’t comprehend why magic won’t help me so she looks where she feels comfortable – but it’s just so emotionally tiring. Not just for her but for me as well.” I sighed.
“I’m tired Louis. So tired. I just want to feel the ground under my feet, and the wind in my hair as I run. I want to mount a broom and kick off into the air, and fly around a stadium with crowds cheering me on. But I can’t. I never will.”
Louis's hands grabbed my own, and I blinked, realizing my eyes had filled with tears. They ran slowly down my cheeks. Louis lifted a hand and brushed them away with his thumb. I felt peaceful, comfortable.
“Anything off the trolley dears?!” Shouted the deaf, ageing woman through the glass. Louis stood up abruptly and opened the compartment door.
“Two pumpkin pasties, please, and a couple of packets of fizzing whizbees.” I grinned at him and sank back into my seat, letting the rare feeling of happiness rush through my body.
“Wake up Aine, we’re here,” Louis whispered into my ear. Wearily I forced my eyes open to see that, indeed, we had arrived in Hogsmeade station. Louis smiled softly as I tried to seem more awake. His arms reached up above my head and pulled down my chair, before tapping it once with his wand. It unfolded in a second, springing into position, waiting patiently for me to sit down.
“Ready?” Louis asked, moving towards me. I nodded, feeling the all too familiar knot twist in my stomach. He bent down and picked me up, like my Father had done, and walked out of the compartment. The carriages were mostly empty aside from a few students who had forgotten items. A young boy, most likely a first year, stared at Louis and I, his mouth hanging wide open in shock. I screwed my eyes together and clung onto Louis tightly – just wanting to be put down. Louis stepped off of the train gently and placed me on the nearest bench before hurrying back to grab my chair. I sat, watching the crowds of students walk by, listening to their laughter and excitement for the upcoming year at school.
“Firs’ years over ‘ere!” Rumbled Hagrid’s voice from the distance. I saw a boy sprint past me, throwing a fleeting glimpse at the girl who can’t walk.
Louis arrived shortly after and placed my chair beside of me. He held the back as I pushed myself from the bench onto it. From having no use of my legs, my arms are the strongest part of my body. I have to constantly carry my weight around on them and so they had developed the strength to do so.
Once in my chair, he placed my bag on my lap and we waited for the crowds to thin. The stars in the sky twinkled above us, almost as if they were smiling at us. As the noise of the students faded, I began follow them, keeping at a good distance, so as not to be watched. Louis walked by my side, his footsteps crunching on the leaves beneath his feet. The pathway to the carriages isn’t the smoothest in the world and at various points, I can feel my chair wobble precariously, but it doesn’t topple. After what seemed like hours, although in reality it was only a few minutes, we reached the carriages. They were all being slowly filled up although I spotted mine immediately.
Unlike the other carriages, my one had two long ramps out the back for me to roll up. I positioned myself in line with them, so both wheels had a ramp, and waited for Louis to help push me. Despite my talks with the teachers, the ramps had become no less steep over the years and so I still required help to move up into the carriages. I felt Louis push on the back of my chair and I helped by keeping the wheels in a straight line. After entering the carriage there was no in point me leaving my chair to sit on one of the comfy seats. I would only be moving back into it in a matter of minutes. Instead, I watched outside the nearest window as the scenery changed from the low lit houses in Hogsmeade, to the dark and gloomy edge of the forest until, finally, I saw the glowing lights of Hogwarts castle.
It was a fact that Hogwarts is ‘home’ to almost every student that goes there. It is the place where they all fit in and find a place to belong. To many people Hogwarts is a haven, a sanctuary, a family. To me it is hell.
A/N: Disclaimer: I own nothing, the world is all JK's :P
I would like to say a massive thank you to: Thepheonix1793, dementerschild, Lovlyrita, GillyWeedfan, Miles, HyacinthDursley, and Hermione006 for all thier help and input on my topic in 'help needed'. You were all so lovely to share you feelings and experiences and I hope I do them justice in this story :) Also massive thanks to SeverusSnape15 for betaing this for me :D
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