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Chapter 3 : Welcome Home
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Beautiful chapter image by Mixer @ TDA, thanks sofia!!
As Phoebe hurried out from the other side of the wall, she was surrounded by smoke from the train. Pressing in on all sides were children with wands gripped firmly in their hands, wearing the strange robes that they had been forced to buy, toting along old-fashioned-looking parents. She imagined what her parents looked like, if they would look anything like these people. She hoped they had looked normal, because if they ever found her, she'd be a normal girl in a normal family. With a tight grip on her trolley, she made her way through the large and bunched-up crowd of excited children attempting to get into the train.
After a large amount of pushing and shoving (mainly by the people behind her,) Phoebe eventually made it into the train. To her it looked a lot like a normal train, bar the presence of the man who collected the tickets and the fact that there were children everywhere she turned. She then found herself in another crowd of people, all of whom were looking for places to sit; Phoebe was patient and waited at the back of the crowd while other people ran through, frantically trying to find somewhere. When the bustling crowd had finally cleared, she made her way along the train, dodging older students who often made a little ‘aw’ noise when she walked past them. After walking up and down the train at least three times, she came to the conclusion that there was nowhere to sit and that she should give up because she was far too scared to ask someone if she could sit with them. Phoebe gave a long yawn and closed her eyes for a few seconds, as she’d hardly slept the night before, being so nervous. When she opened them, all she could see was a pink flash hurtling towards her with a huge grin on its face. Then behind Phoebe was an old woman with the sweets trolley, and before Phoebe had time to realise what was going to happen a large crash echoed throughout the train.
Phoebe didn't dare open her eyes, so she sat among what she imagined to be confectionary with her eyelids tightly shut. If she did open her eyes, she expected people to surround her--either laughing at her or glaring at her--and if you looked close enough you’d be able to see the fire in them. After a few moments of her eyes being clamped shut and being surrounded by nothing but darkness, Phoebe felt her shoulder being tapped. She had an urge to open her eyes, but she was too afraid of the mess that would be nearby. The tap on her shoulder became a frequent nudge that began to make her shoulder ache. She then heard a murmur,
“Hey, hey, open your eyes!” and almost immediately Phoebe did as she was told. She then saw the mess that surrounded her, sweet wrappers, chocolate spread across the floor and a girl with bright pink hair trying to hold back a little giggle. The girl held out her hand as if she was offering it to Phoebe for support, so Phoebe took the help given to her and stood up. She then got a proper look at the ‘pink flash’. There before her stood a girl around her age with bubblegum pink hair, bright blue eyes, and a huge smile on her face. Phoebe was lost for words for a few moments as the girl's taste in hair dye took her back a bit. She eventually managed to whisper,
“Sorry about making you crash into the trolley lady, I was trying to Apparate because some people back there said if you run really fast it can just happen. So I thought I wouldn’t crash into you," the girl explained. Phoebe then looked at all the sweet wrappers and the general mess on the floor and began to pick some up, not knowing that there was a spell that could deal with things like that. A boy with fiery red hair stopped her and smiled,
“No need, I can get this done in a jiffy.” Then he whipped out his wand and muttered something which sounded complete gibberish to Phoebe, but almost instantaneously the sweets and all the mess returned to their previous and more orderly state. The old woman, known as the ‘trolley lady,’ didn’t look that impressed.
“I could have done that, dear. I’m not a Squib, you know," she snapped, and then carried on walking down the train. The other two started laughing, but Phoebe didn’t have a clue what they were laughing at. Was "Squib" code for some sort of a joke? she wondered.
“Hi, I’m Bill, Bill Weasley. Do you girls need somewhere to sit? I came looking for my brother, he looks just like me and for some reason he legged it! Though I asked some other lads, and they said they saw someone who looked like me go back to the compartment--so maybe he’s there. He’s a first year too and he’ll need all the friends he can get!” Bill offered. The two girls looked at each other and the girl with the bubblegum hair smiled,
When they reached the compartment, Phoebe saw a boy her age in the compartment on his own, swinging his legs back and forth and trying to look out for his big brother. When the three of them stepped inside, Bill's smile dropped immediately and he turned into the big, overprotective, brother.
“Charlie, why did you run off?!” Bill exclaimed, his face going crimson.
“Someone said I’d just missed the trolley lady and she has sweets so I went to get some. I have more than enough for us two, so those two over there can have some as well if they want,” Charlie explained, looking down at his shoes and feeling a little ashamed. Charlie then handed the girls each a Chocolate Frog and a small bag of Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans.
“Thanks Charlie, I’m guessing that’s your name seeing as that’s what Bill’s been calling you,” the bubble-gum girl said.
“No problem... erm--” Charlie paused, hoping that she’d tell him her name.
“Tonks,” she retorted. Bill tried to hold in his laughter, Phoebe looked slightly puzzled, but Charlie however just burst out laughing.
“What sort of a name is Tonks?!” Tonks just held her head high and tried to hide the redness of her cheeks.
“Tonks isn’t my actual name, it’s my surname. My full name is Nymphadora Tonks, but no one can ever say it right,” Tonks told them all in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. Phoebe and Bill were trying to hold in even more laughter and Bill let a little chuckle slip, while Charlie once again almost cried with laughter,
“So--so does that make you a nymph called Dora?!” Tonks’ hair turned a crimson red, as did her face, something which the three of them weren’t expecting, Phoebe jumped back, Bill’s eyes widened knowingly, and Charlie nearly bounced off his seat.
“I’ve never met a Metamorphmagus before! I’ve only read up about them, I heard they change into anyone and if they’re that powerful they don’t even need polyjuice potion!” Bill exclaimed, fascinated by Tonks. She just shrugged her shoulders.
“I was born with it--that's the only way you can be one, you see, it runs through families. I can change parts like the general face and hair but not the height. Which can sometimes mean a lot, seeing as if I was to morph into Dumbledore it wouldn’t be as convincing, seeing as he’d be on a 5 ft body with half his beard.” Tonks pointed which made all but Phoebe chuckle. Who is Dumbledore? she thought to herself but then, maybe it was a wizard joke that she didn’t understand and was too scared to ask about it.
“What’s your natural hair colour and eye colour?” Phoebe piped up. Tonks looked at her strangely for a moment and then answered,
“Erm... brown for both, only my hair’s lighter. See?” Then Tonks’ hair and eye colour returned to its normal state. This made her look somehow ... younger.
Phoebe smiled. “I love your hair colour, but it makes you look younger and more normal. Normal isn’t really a good thing. Pink...I like it," Phoebe said softly. Tonks nodded as she changed it back, a subtle way of thanking her.
As Charlie had just recovered from his fit of laughter he said, “Well I think Nymphadora is a funny name!” The three of them looked at him with sheer frustration.
A smirk then appeared on Bill’s lips. “Well, it’s obviously not as funny as what mum calls you, Charlie-chicken-chops!" He laughed teasingly. Turning to the girls, he continued, "When he was a toddler he had an obsession with the chickens outside and the ones he ate for tea.” Neither of the girls could keep a straight face for a second. They burst into a fit of giggles and had to clutch onto their sides to keep calm.
“You thought Tonks was bad?” Phoebe managed to say through laughter.
“Well I’m sure your mum called you a stupid name too. What does your mum call you?” He asked her, and Phoebe stopped laughing. One of the greatest moments of her life where she felt wanted just came crashing down.
“I...I don’t know. Well I don’t know who my parents are because I’m adopted. Heather and John, they don’t really call me anything other than my name.” Phoebe mumbled. The atmosphere changed completely,
“I’m sorry, but do you think there’s a chance your parents were witches and wizards?” Bill asked.
“I don’t know, but when I was born, I was found in my adoptive parent’s house on the inside with all the doors and windows locked. I was in the local newspaper and they were discussing theories. None of them came close to that,” Phoebe told them.
“But isn’t it weird that you don’t have parents?” Charlie asked her. Phoebe looked up and sighed.
“Not really, because I’ve been without them for so long. But then I’ve always had my mum because on every birthday and Christmas, she left a present either on the doorstep or in my bedroom. It was weird, knowing that my mum must have watched me grow from a baby to an eight year old. Then when I was eight, I got my last present and after that they stopped. I just wonder why they stopped, and why she didn’t keep me if she could give me presents every year,” Phoebe sighed. She forgot who she was talking to and it was like she was pouring her heart out to complete strangers, but at the same time she felt like she could tell them anything.
After that, the conversation flowed better, as Phoebe got asked so many questions about Muggle life, about books and music. After each of them got changed separately (boys, then girls) into their robes, they waited patiently. Their dream of Hogwarts was about to come true.
Stepping off the train was another huge crowd to join, but Tonks and Charlie were with her this time so she wasn’t as bothered. She still wasn’t sure about Charlie; he seemed nice but a little too cocky. Tonks was great though, funny, completely mad but caring at the same time. As they all stepped out, Bill went the other way to get on the carriages that pulled themselves, another mystery that Phoebe couldn’t understand. She made a mental note to find out how that worked later.
Then, a very tall, very large man with a dark tangled beard came towards them and bellowed, “Firs’ years on the boats please! Come on now firs’ years on the boats.” It was as if he was holding an invisible megaphone to his mouth, he was that loud. Phoebe wasn’t one to mess about, so she grabbed Tonks, who was in awe just seeing the giant, and quickly got onto the boats that pulled themselves towards the castle.
That was what truly stunned Phoebe. She’d never seen a real castle in all her life, only in pictures, and she never understood why people thought they were so pretty. Now she understood the beauty of them and how safe they could make you feel. She looked to the side to see the giant in his own little boat. The boat was creaking and groaning heavily, but he seemed to take no notice.
“It’s beautiful ain’t it? Hogwarts is one o’ the safest places to be right now. For you, this‘ll be another home to ye, right," he told her.
Phoebe nodded shyly and asked, “Sir, did you go to Hogwarts?
The giant smiled. “Call me Hagrid. Ye I did once, grand it was. Now I’m working ‘ere and it’s the best job in the world, eh, workin' fer Dumbledore..." He trailed off shortly and shook his head a little, when Phoebe interrupted.
“I’m Phoebe. Erm, is it okay if you’re a muggleborn? Well, I think I am, I don’t know. My parents could have had magic in them but I don’t know...But is it okay to be different? That’s what I mean.” Phoebe told him slightly lost for words. A blush rose to her face, and she suddenly felt awkward.
“Its fine, it don’t matter if you’re differen'. No one cares ‘bout tha' blood status business anymore, not like they used to anyway,” Hagrid informed her with a reassuring smile that Phoebe knew she could trust.
As they got off the boats, Hagrid went the opposite way. The heavy crowd of students was led to see Professor McGonagall. who was wearing velvet green robes and an expressionless face. They followed her to the entrance doors as she explained about the Houses and Sorting Hat to them all. They then made their way through the entrance hall, to find older children aw-ing at them or waving at relatives, some of them even glaring, which made Phoebe that little bit more worried. When they came to a halt, Professor McGonagall picked up the old, droopy looking hat and a long roll of parchment. Phoebe knew what was coming next and hoped she wasn’t first to be called out.
“Abbey, Jessica,” the professor called, and a girl with jet black hair cut just below her ears stepped forwards and sat down onto the wobbly, three legged stool. As the hat was placed on her head, it exclaimed,
“Ah yes another year, another Sorting....HUFFLEPUFF!” Everyone clapped as the girl went to join the table, especially the Hufflepuff students, who were cheering as well. The next name to be called was Oliver Anderson, a stocky-looking boy with white-blonde hair and blue eyes. As soon as the hat touched his head, it roared,
“RAVENCLAW!!” and that was that. Only a few names flowed before Phoebe’s arrived.
Harriet Arnold in Slytherin...Mark Arnott in Ravenclaw, George Bard and Alice Barnsworth in Gryffindor--and then the next name was called.
“Blackett, Phoebe.” Phoebe shuffled over to the seat and lightly perched herself there. The hat touched her head.
“Hmmm... you’re quite powerful, you know. But scared too, why are you afraid of what you could become? You shy away from your talent and you’re scared of what people think, but never a coward. So there really is one place to put you, really... HUFFLEPUFF!” The hat bellowed with a smile and Phoebe sat down on the table where fellow Hufflepuffs patted her on the back. She gave them a weary smile and though she was scared, she finally felt home. After her name was called she stopped listening out for everyone else’s names she was just listening out for Tonks and Charlie. When she first heard Tonks she thought she’d go into the brave house--but when the hat shouted Hufflepuff, she was shocked. She moved up for her and as they waited for Charlie’s name to be called. They both moved up in hope that he would be in their House, but as the hat called Gryffindor, he just gave them a weak but cheeky grin and went to sit with the others on his House’s table.
After that, a man with a long white beard who seemed at least 6 feet high arose from his seat and cleared his throat. Phoebe immediately recognised him as Dumbledore, as he fit the description Tonks laid out on the train.
“Ah, it seems another year has begun. I wish you all the best of luck, and first years, we all welcome you to Hogwarts. The third floor and Forbidden Forest is out-of-bounds, and anyone who attempts to break these rules we be dealt with by their Head of House. On a lighter note, I expect your stomachs are empty from the train ride so please, dig in!” Dumbledore told them ,and as he clapped his hands together, food appeared on all the tables as a buffet. Phoebe and Tonks couldn’t wait to get stuck in, and as Phoebe lunged for the food, she felt like this was Hogwarts' way of saying "welcome home."
At the very end of the feast, they were instructed to follow the prefects, an order Phoebe followed contentedly, her stomach full and a warm feeling spreading through her arms and legs. After the prefects had led them to their common room, the password given and the portrait aside, she and Tonks climbed up to the dorms. Inside was their uniform and trunks waiting for themm and their beds neatly made up. Phoebe didn’t expect to sleep a wink as she and Tonks had their beds next to each other, and all Tonks wanted to do was gossip.
After about an hour of Tonks rambling on, Phoebe sighed, “Tonks, I’m turning out my lamp now, please go to sleep.” Then after a few minutes of the light being out, Phoebe heard a large snore come from Tonks. All she could do was laugh into her pillow.
A/N- This chapter took forever to write because I definately wanted to get it right so I hope it works for you. I really am sorry for taking so long and not updating since May. If you have time to review then please do! And before I forget thanks to everyone over at HPFF for inspiring me to write this, especially SearchingForLuna my beta and of you who helped me pick topics to talk about while on the train :)
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