You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors
It's the mornin' of your very first day
And you say hi to your friends you ain't seen in a while
Try and stay out of everybody's way
--Taylor Swift, Fifteen
Lovely CI by charme. @ TDA!
This was it. This was the moment I’d been waiting for.
I stood in front of the all-too-familiar barrier between platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross station. My two best friends, Arianna and Lucinda, stood next to me.
I took a deep breath. This was it. I glanced at Arianna. She gave me an uncharacteristically warm smile. Cinda, who was standing on my other side, squeezed my hand.
I closed my eyes and ran through the barrier.
An achingly familiar sight greeted me. The mist was thick in the air, making the scarlet steam engine a hazy image. Disembodied voices floated through the air, making everything very disorienting. Owls hooted and cats meowed from their cages as people wheeled their trunks past.
Arianna and Cinda appeared behind me. “That,” Arianna said, walking up next to me. “Was the weirdest experience of my life.”
She followed my gaze. “Is that them?” She asked quietly.
Through the mist, I could see four boys, whose faces haunted my dreams at night, being hugged and kissed by their mothers, getting bid goodbyes by their fathers, being given luck for their NEWTs.
A rather large case of the stomach butterflies overwhelmed me. This was a bad idea, coming back. They obviously had forgotten all about me. How could I get revenge if theydidn’t remember?
“Delilah, Arianna. Come on!” Cinda said, tugging on our wrists. When we didn’t move, she pulled on Arianna’s dark curls and flicked my nose. “Move!” She demanded.
“Pushy,” I complained.
“You were looking like idiots. I don’t care what they did, you can’t just stop and stare. And don’t try and get revenge, Del.” She added.
“Why not? Why can’t I get them back for every moment that they made my life hell?” I asked darkly.
“Because, your revenge plans suck.” Cinda told me.
“You’re supposed to be the nice one,” I said, irritated.
Cinda flicked her blonde hair out of her eyes and said, “I am being nice. I’m being nice by warning you not to get revenge.”
“Come on, guys, let’s get a compartment.” Arianna said.
“How d’you even know if there is a compartment, Arianna?” I asked annoyingly. “What if the train’s just a whole room full of jell-o?”
“It’s just the nerves,” Cinda told Arianna when she gave her a questioning look.
“I don’t have nerves.” I said.
Arianna rolled her stormy blue eyes. “Sure you don’t, Del.”
Despite Arianna and Cinda knowing that there were compartments, they didn’t know the layout of the train, so I led them to a compartment that I had commonly occupied when I had still gone to school here. Nobody really ever bothered me when I sat here, because nobody ever noticed me. It was my safe haven, and more than once, I was tempted to stay on the train, reading my life away.
Arianna and Cinda chattered away about what to expect at Hogwarts, occasionally asking me a question or two, but mostly leaving me to think. Revenge plans ran around my mind, each more ridiculous than the last. When the conductor’s voice sounded throughout the train, announcing that we would be reaching Hogwarts in five minute’s time, I had gotten nowhere.
Cinda, Arianna and I made a mad rush to get dressed in our uniforms. We were just pulling on our socks when the scarlet engine pulled into Hogsmeade station.
Again, I was tempted to stay on the train all year. But I steeled myself and walked out of the compartment into the flow of students. This year, it would be different.
Cinda, Arianna and I had to take the boats with the first years that were also getting Sorted. Cinda giggled at the size of the tiny wooden fleet of boats. “They look like they were made for toddlers!” She laughed. Several of the first years stared at her, wide-eyed.
“She’s insane.” Arianna told them.
That sobered Cinda up.
“No more’n four ter a boat!” Hagrid yelled. He hadn’t changed a tick since I had last been here. He was still huge, wild, and rough. For a while, I thought I could just hide at Hagrid’s, but then I saw that Albus Potter and the rest of them were friends with him, and I could hardly look at him after that.
The ride to the castle was much the same as it had been six years ago, the climax being the beautiful castle that was my prison. The boats touched the shore, and we all climbed out, Cinda, Arianna and I towering above the first years.
Hagrid lifted a trashcan lid-sized fist and knocked three times on the thick oak doors. Professor McGonagall answered. She looked older, and greyer. But not much had changed about her, since she had already been old enough when I left.
Professor McGonagall ushered us inside and explained Hogwarts to us. I zoned out, thinking of which house I would be Sorted into this time around. Last time it was Gryffindor, though I couldn’t fathom why, but this time, would it be Ravenclaw? Somehow, I doubted it. I wasn’t bad at my classes, but I definitely didn’t excel. Hufflepuff? Definitely not. I was plotting revenge plans, for crying out loud. Slytherin? Maybe. It was the only house I would somewhat fit into, besides Gryffindor. I couldn’t imagine myself a snake, though.
It seemed like we were led into the Great Hall too soon. My legs turned to jell-o, and my heart sped up. What if they recognized me?
I found their faces easily in the crowd. I had trained myself to, in case a quick getaway was necessary. They were chatting with Albus’s cousins, who I recognized as Rose, Dominique, and Molly. Their friend, Athena Williams, was also there, and my blood ran cold. Athena had been one of the cruelest to me.
McGonagall pulled out the list of names, and started calling them off, one by one. I was beginning to relax. They obviously didn’t recognize me.
“Howard, Arianna!” McGonagall called.
Arianna strutted up to the stool, and I stifled a laugh. She was obviously putting on a show. She wasn’t really as arrogant as it seemed to the Hogwarts students.
The hat barely touched her head when it called, “SLYTHERIN!” I once again hid my laughter. Of course, Arianna was a Slytherin. She was cunning and cold, and most of the time, did things for personal gain. Of course, she was loyal to Cinda and I, but that was just about it.
Arianna and I made faces at each other from across the hall, causing the people around us to send us confused looks, until “Meriwether, Lucinda!” Was called.
Cinda walked up to the stool, looking quite a bit more nervous than Arianna. She gripped the seat of the stool with her hands so tight that her knuckles whitened. The hat dropped over her eyes, and it took nearly three minutes before it called, “HUFFLEPUFF!”
I could see the dilemma there. Cinda was extremely kind and hardworking, but she was also very loyal. And she had the guts to move all the way to the UK to support me. It was a mix between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, but eventually her nice side won out.
It wasn’t long before McGonagall called, “Miller, Delilah!” Up to the stool. I almost didn’t go, but remembered that was my name at the last moment, and started forward.
I glanced at the Gryffindor table where my enemies were seated, to see if they recognized me. But they evidently had not made the connection between the names ‘Deandra Misgen’ and ‘Delilah Miller’.
The hat dropped over my eyes, and the disembodied voice whispered in my ear once again, making me jump, even though I had been expecting it.
Delilah Miller? I recognize you, yes I do. Hmmm… oh yes, I see. That would do it. But that’s none of my business. I’m here to Sort you. Your secret’s safe with me. Now, the last time I Sorted you, you were a Gryffindor, because you didn’t fit anywhere else. But it takes guts to come back and face your fears. It takes even more guts to come back and intend to tackle them. Now you fit into Gryffindor because you belong there.
I heard the hat announce Gryffindor to the hall, and the table clad in red and gold cheered loudly. I sighed. I suppose it was inevitable, but revenge seemed impossible when I was sharing a dorm with them. How would I plan it? Plus, my comrades were in different houses. It would be almost impossible to communicate.
I prepared to take my old seat at the end of the table, when my plan came to me. It hit me so forcefully that I nearly stopped. But I didn’t. I passed my seat and walked to where they were sitting.
“Hello,” I said, flashing them a smile. “Can I sit here?”
“Be my guest.” Nathan Jones said, smiling back. He scooted over so I could sit between him and Molly Weasley.
“Thanks,” I said warmly, smiling at all of them. I knew they wouldn’t recognize me now. If they hadn’t made the connection between the name, the hair, and the face yet, then they never would.
McGonagall finished with the Sorting, and then clapped her hands. The list rolled up, the stool hovered its way out of the hall, and the food appeared on the plates.
I loaded my plate with a little bit of everything. I was actually starved, and getting my appetite back, now that I had a plan. It was a good feeling, having one again. I was quickly learning that I didn’t really operate right without one.
“So, Delilah,” Rose began. I was quicker to recognize that she was talking to me this time, and turned in her to direction. “What school did you transfer from?”
“Salem Witches.” I said, shoveling mashed potatoes into my mouth.
“Ooh, really?” She asked, getting excited. “I heard it’s really historical! There are two big buildings, right? And it’s kind of like Hogwarts, only not as old—”
“Salem’s actually kind of modern.” I interrupted, suppressing a laugh at the way her face fell. “They didn’t have enough students coming, so they downsized to one building and converted the other into an indoor Quidditch stadium. No more weather getting in the way of a match.” I smiled. The Quidditch stadium at Salem had been one of my favorite places. I didn’t play for the team, but I loved the game. I was pretty good at strategizing for it, too. I had been head strategist for the team at Salem. I wondered if they would miss me now that I was gone.
“Oh.” Rose said shortly, looking disappointed.
I smiled. “I take it you’re not a big Quidditch fan?”
She shook her head. “Never really got the hang of it, you know?”
“Yeah, I do. It took me loads of practice to get good.” I said. Then I stopped. On some level, it scared me that I was connecting with the friend of the enemy so well.
I glanced away from Rose, to see the boys staring at me, jaws touching the table. “What?” I asked.
“You have a Quidditch stadium?” Aidan asked, wide-eyed.
“Instead of a school?” Scorpius asked.
“We still have a school.” I said. “We just took away half the classrooms.”
“Still—” Albus said, looking awestruck. “How did you ever get the parents on board with that?”
I shrugged, and dug back into my food. “Don’t ask me. Ask the headmistress. She’ll know.”
The next ten minutes was spent by the boys bombarding me with questions about the stadium. How big was it, how did the goalposts fit, did we get to control the weather—stuff like that.
I felt somebody staring at me. I turned around and spotted Cinda at the Hufflepuff table. She sent me a questioning glance, and I shrugged. She gave me a warning look, and I turned back around, feeling rebellious. She didn’t control what I did.
“Molly, I really like your earrings. Where’d you get them?”
Cinda didn’t want me getting too close to them because she had already figured out my revenge plan. But I wasn’t going to listen. They deserved worse than what I was planning. They should consider themselves lucky that I was going easy on them.
After dinner was over, I departed the Weasleys & co. to find Cinda and Arianna. It took me five minutes to search them out, and when I reached them, Arianna gripped my forearm tightly so I couldn’t get away.
“What were you thinking?” She hissed at me.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “And let go of me!”
She relinquished me, and I rubbed my arm in the place she had hold of it. “Now, what were you doing, getting all friendly with them?” Arianna demanded.
“It’s part of the plan, Arianna.” I said, a grin spreading across my face.
A smile also unfurled on her lips. “Could this possibly be a revenge plan?” She asked, her inner Slytherin taking over.
Cinda, however, was not so excited. “Delilah!” She said, stomping her foot. “You said no plans, remember?”
“Times change, Cinda.” I said, waving her away. “It’s all for the Greater Good.”
“What?” She spluttered. “We agreed on the no plans thing this morning!”
I shrugged. “Sorry, Cinda, but it’s two against one. Gotta go introduce myself to my house. Bye.”
“Delilah!” She shouted after me. “No revenge plans!”
I shrugged in response, and followed the Gryffindors up to the tower.
I meant to stay in the Common Room for a bit and chat, but I saw the stone staircase, and my resolve crumbled. There was a four poster bed waiting for me in my dorm, and I just had to go to it. I was exhausted.
The dorm was just how I remembered it, except the people occupying it were older. My bed was the one near the window. Dominique’s was the one right next to the bathroom.
I collapsed on my bed, wanting to just fall asleep. But I made myself get up and put my pajamas on, knowing I would never forgive myself if I didn’t. While I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom, Molly walked in, right when I yawned largely, showing off my mouth full of toothpaste. Molly grinned.
“Ready to go to sleep?”
“Definitely.” I mumbled, finishing up with my teeth and trudging out of the bathroom.
When I got out, Dominique was chatting with Rose while brushing her hair. Athena was propped up against her headboard, reading a book bound in blue leather. Rose flashed me a smile and I managed a quick grin before falling into bed and falling to sleep.
“Misgen, Deandra.” McGonagall called. A small girl with frizzy red hair and glasses walked up to the stool on trembling legs. The ratty old hat slid over her eyes, and stayed there for nearly 6 minutes before announcing “GRYFFINDOR!” to the hall. The hall tittered and whispered. It was the first hatstall of the year.
Deandra Misgen grinned in relief, and skipped off to sit by her cousin, Aidan Clarke, and the two other boys who were seated next to him, Scorpius Malfoy and Nathan Jones.
The four eleven year olds chattered away until “Potter, Albus!” Was called. The whole hall went silent, and all eyes were on the new Potter boy as he walked to the stool.
The hat was only on his head for 30 seconds before it announced, “GRYFFINDOR!”
Everyone cheered, and Albus, who had recently had an argument with his brother, passed him by when he scooted over to make a seat for Albus. Instead, Albus walked toward Deandra and the others and said, in a nervous little voice, “Can I sit here?”
Scorpius scooted over to make room immediately and Albus blended into the group perfectly.
Deandra grinned as she walked up to her dormitory. The day was going perfectly. She had four new friends and she was all set for her first year at Hogwarts.
The next day, I ate breakfast with the same crowd who I had eaten din ner with. They welcomed me into their group willingly, and I found myself connecting with nearly all of them, though Athena still seemed cold to me.
I was handed my schedule by Professor Longbottom, Gryffindor’s Head of house and the Herbology professor at Hogwarts. I had Potions first, with Albus, Scorpius, Molly, and Rose.
After breakfast of pancakes and bacon, the five of us walked to the dungeons; where there was already a crowd queued up. We chatted for a bit about random things, like the weather, Quidditch, and things about Hogwarts. They were mostly feeding me tidbits of information that I already knew, but it was a kind gesture all the same.
I shook myself as soon as I thought this. These people were not kind. They were the same people who had bullied me until I left the school. These people are the same people who hung me upside down in the Great Hall for everyone to see.
The door of the dungeon opened. A protruding belly followed by the familiar face of Professor Slughorn appeared. We all filed into the classroom, choosing a table. Molly sat with her friend from Ravenclaw, while Rose, Scorpius, Albus and I sat at the same table.
“Quiet, everyone!” Professor Slughorn announced, banging the door shut. Everyone was silent, and Slughorn walked to the front of the room. “Today we will be brewing a simple Sleeping Draught. It’s review, to see what your skill level is. Your marks will be the deciding factor on who your new partner is for the rest of the year. Naturally, this assignment will be solo. The directions are on the board,” he tapped the blackboard with his wand, and the instructions appeared. “And the supplies are in the cupboard. Chop chop!”
I set up my cauldron, and then went to the supply cupboard, which really wasn’t a cupboard at all but more of a walk-in closet. I picked out the ingredients I would need quickly, and turned to find myself face-to-face with a boy I recognized as Noah Finnegan.
“It’s called personal space; ever heard of it?” I snapped, aware that his face was inches from mine.
He opened his mouth to say something, but he was shoved aside by another boy trying to get through. He snarled, “Watch it!” at him, and I used the opportunity to escape back to my table.
I began brewing my potion. I didn’t excel in Potions, necessarily, but I was fairly confident that I’d get good marks. Salem’s curriculum was a bit more advanced than Hogwarts’, so a Sleeping Draught very simple for me.
30 minutes later, Slughorn called, “And . . . stop!” The whole class simultaneously stepped away from their potions. Slughorn walked around the room, sniffing every potion and checking the color. He withdrew with a wince from some and with a large smile from others. When he reached mine, he rewarded me with a smile, and moved on to Scorpius’, which he withdrew from gagging from the smell.
Rose saw this, and shot me a grin. I smiled back. I supposed that it wouldn’t hurt to befriend Rose for real. After all, she didn’t do all that stuff to me.
After I decided that, it was a lot easier to talk to Rose. I found that I actually liked her. She was funny, and smart. By lunch, it was like we were best friends.
Arianna, however, had different plans. She marched over to the Gryffindor table and said tightly, “Delilah, can I speak with you?”
I got that she meant alone, so I stood and followed her out of the hall. “Yes?”
“What are you doing?” She hissed at me. “You’re acting as if you’re friends with them!”
“Relax, Arianna.” I said. “It’s part of the plan.” I explained everything to her.
She still didn’t look so convinced. “You know, that takes a lot of commitment. If you want that to work, you better do something more . . . binding.”
“You look like you have something in mind.” I said.
"I do," She said. "The Unbreakable Vow should do the trick.
What'd you think? Leave reviews, ppl!!!! I'll try to get a new chapter posted soon!!!
Over and out
Edit: 6.20.12 I'm updating Exchange, making it all shiny and new. So there may be a little bit of a difference between writing style, plot, and all that stuff between chapters until I update it all. Bear with me. Nothing huge is being changed, but it is a noticable difference, I think. So . . . yeah.