“Sirius, you’d best grab us a good carriage!” I shout as the crowd thickens, barely spotting his salute and wink (Causing a pair of girls behind me argue over the intended receiver) before people of all sizes separate me from the group.
“Lena?” I hear Lily’s voice calling through the crowd, a flash of red hair far ahead tells me it will be much too hard to reach her without this crowd thinning out.
“Keep going!” I have to stand on my tip toes, waving my arms above my head. “I’ll meet you at the usual spot.” Several Ravenclaws snicker at my show, talking loudly about lunatics. I give them my best glare and begin to make my way through the crowd. I let my feet guide me, zoning out for a moment at the thought of the year ahead. This seems to work well, flowing with the crowd as opposed to trying to push and shove my way through it. I continue to think about classes, N.E.W.T.s and the upcoming career meetings. I’ve barely begun to think about graduation, let alone a career.
“Firs’ years, this way! Firs’ years!” A bobbing lantern illuminates Hagrid, standing down by the edge of the black lake, which is much closer than it should be, seeing as the carriages are in the opposite direction.
“All righ’ Lena? Why’re yeh all the way over here? Shouldn’ you be down by the carriages?”
I can’t help but look around at all the young faces surrounding me. They aren’t much shorter than I am, it’s no wonder the crowd I was following felt so right. There were no giants towering over me, no elbows to avoid, or swinging hands to duck as people turned to their friends.
“Yes, you know how it is Hagrid, easier to follow those that are like you.” Sighing, I turn towards the path, how could I have gotten so far?
“Take care, Lena. See yeh at the banquet, should be a good song this year.” He chuckles, helping a small girl into a boat, ready to take the same ride I enjoyed six years ago. I do my best to speed walk, but I’m slightly out of breath by the time I reach the top of the hill that leads to the carriages.
“Don’t tell me, the little girl wanted to ride with all the other children to the castle, because her big bad classmates scare her. I’m surprised that oaf even managed to separate her from the others.” A drawling voice says loudly from atop a carriage. The guffaws and chuckles that ensue could only come from one group.
“Ah, Malfoy.” I put on my cheeriest voice and smile up at them, “You found your way off the train now, did you? You’ll have to write your father, tell him what a big boy you’ve become. Don’t let me hold you up, hurry along now children, we don’t want Snivelly to catch a cold, so that we have even more reason to call him by his nickname.” I wave and skip along as their carriage drives past me, the thestrals tugging unknown on the reigns, allowing me to cross the path towards another carriage, from which I can see frantically waving arms.
“Hurry up!” Marlene shrieks, pointing downward, “What if this thing suddenly decides to take off? You’ll have to walk all the way up to the castle, and who knows what creepy things you’ll run into!” A hand reaches down and grasps my wrist, helping to pull me up the steps-obviously not made for vertically challenged people- and I find Remus laughing at me as I settle onto the floor, resting my head on Lily’s knees.
“Marls, I’ve already run into Malfoy and his gloomy band of snakes tonight, I’m pretty sure I could handle any vampires or werewolves that the Forbidden Forest throws at me.” Remus coughs and quickly begins a conversation about the upcoming quidditch season with the boys. I duck my head, silently berating myself for that comment in the presence of Remus. Oh well, what’s done is done.
“You think we’ll get any good ones this year?” asks Alice, chewing her nails to the bit, a common occurrence at the beginning of school and during exam times.
“Good what?” A hand pulls Alice’s nails from her teeth, causing her to squeak.
“Good students, Longbottom. Surely you know that the best class we’ve gotten in Gryffindor, besides ourselves, of course, has to be the current fifth years. I can’t help but wonder why the entire fourth year hasn’t been kicked out yet, ditsy lot if ever there was one.” Marlene scoffs. It’s true though.
Around Christmas time last year, the fourth years, believing themselves to be oh so grown up, snuck down to an empty classroom in the Charms corridor, which gets little to no traffic from teachers at night, and throw a party after last year’s heads denied their idea for a school wide party. Being rather poor at magic, however, their attempts to muffle it as well as hide any sign of it (Perhaps the many purses left behind by tipsy girls had helped to accelerate their discovery) lead to the depletion of almost all of Gryffindor’s House points. I have to admit, McGonagall assigning them cleaning duty every night for the rest of term certainly helped the house elves to make the castle squeaky clean for the end of year banquet.
“They did throw a rather pathetic Christmas party, didn’t they? We’ll have to show them how it’s really done this year.” Most of the carriage cheers at this, and it’s all I can do not to laugh as I smile and shake my head at them. I feel Lily stiffen a bit, though.
“Not on your life, Potter. You’re head boy, now remember?”
“Aw c’mon Lily, what’s the point of having power if you don’t take advantage of it from time to time!”
“You’re supposed to be a role model now! What kind of example are you setting for the younger students if you start up the type of antics that could get you expelled!”
“A fun one?”
“Nice one, Padfoot.” James is laughing now, his head thrown back, knowing it taunts Lily even more.
“We haven’t reached the school, our agreement is not yet in effect.” His head snaps back up, shock in his eyes.
“But Lily-“ There’s a fight brewing, I can feel it.
“Don’t even Potter, you don’t understand, do you?”
“It’s all in good fun! You can’t possibly be so- Hey!” James’s glasses fly off his nose, landing neatly in my hand. I wink at Alice and Frank and the dark haired quidditch player looks anything but suave, groping around the air for his missing glasses. It isn’t long before he begins to whine.
“Not funny guys. Picking on the poor blind man. What kind of friends are you?” He’s attempting to stand now, but Remus pushes him down before he can do any damage, Sirius pulling on an ear there, a cheek here to frustrate James even more. Even Lily’s beginning to smile, laughing alongside Marlene at the show.
“When I find out who-“ He pauses, thinking, and only bats his hand at Sirius when he attempts to pull on the overly mussed hair.
“Lena.” He smiles menacingly, looking in the direction of Peter, who squeaks at the look James is giving him, shooting a terrified glance in my direction. The castle is looming over us now, the long procession of carriages is shortening, and we’ll be leaving for the Great Hall soon. Finally home.
“Down here Jamsie Boy.” I laugh, holding out the glasses. “Reach for them if you want them.” His hand shoots out, hitting Frank, who sits diagonally across from him.
“In front of you James.” He grasps at air. “Are you really so daft as to forget where it is I’m sitting. My goodness, your mother will be upset to hear how much of your cleverness you lost over the summer.”
He smiles sheepishly and reaches a bit downward. Taking pity, I allow his hand to grasp the long sought after glasses.
“Much. You couldn’t have picked a better view for me to regain my sight on.” He’s looking in front of him, and my girls look behind themselves to find the carriage coming to a stop in front of the large doors that will take us into the place where we’ve essentially grow up. I see Sirius punch James’s arm, both Remus and Peter looking on knowingly. I should’ve known he was looking much closer. Say, red haired and between Marls and Alice closer. He shrugs his shoulders when he catches my gaze, and a pity for the boy takes hold of me. Surely things would work out this year? Please, just let Lily fall for him, she could certainly do a lot worse.
The procession of first years seems to get longer every year we’re here.
“Is it me,” Sirius is saying across from me, “Or do they get shorter every year? This lot is surely smaller than the last.” I follow his gaze, but they look like any other first years. Small, scared, and easily tricked. I overhear two of them talking about a test to figure out which house they belong in. Then there are the purebloods who know what to expect, and the muggleborns, taking in everything in awe.
“They look the same to me Sirius. Although, I think you’ve gotten taller. All of you guys must’ve grown another foot over the holidays.” I leave out Peter, it seems too cruel to include the fact that he’s not going to grow much taller than a fifth year, and all of them preen at what they perceive as a huge compliment.
“Why didn’t we ever just talk to you about this in the past, Lena?” Remus laughs, “You stopped growing ages ago, you could’ve been our basis over whether or not the future generations actually are shrinking!” I snort and throw the candy wrapper I’ve been playing with at him.
“Thanks Reems, your input is always appreciated.”
“Guys, McGonagall’s bringing out the Sorting Hat. We’ll be able to eat soon.” Marlene is whispering from her spot behind Lily, each straddling the bench so that Marls can work Lily’s red hair into an elaborate braid.
“Do we really have to do this right now?” She whines again, “I must look so silly, Head Girl: acting like a fourth year.” Marlene gives her shoulder a nudge and shushes her.
“I’ve been wanting to do this all summer. I read about it in Witch Weekly.”
“Not that girly rubbish again, Marls!”
“I, for one, think it looks ravishing, Evans.”
“Sod off, Potter.”
“James.” He’s smirking again, but there’s something behind it. A moment later he seems to realize what he’s doing and his smile softens as she turns to tell him off.
“You called me ‘Evans’ so I am well within my rights to call you ‘Potter’.” He shoots her a bewildered look before grinning at her.
“She’s got you there, Prongs.”
“Quite right, Padfoot. I’ll have to find a way to outsmart her in the future.”
“Not gonna happen.” Lily mumbles as Professor McGonagall clears her throat, glaring around at all the chattering groups. The Hall quiets down as she places the hat on its stool and takes a step back. A seam rips right through the center, startling many of the younger students.
Many of you may know me
Though some may not and for those few
This song will tell you what you’ll learn
Of those experiences old and new.
You see, I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And of the different Houses four
Just leave the hard work for me
To me your mind has no closed door.
So, is it to courageous and daring Gryffindor
That you’ll find yourself sent
Where dwell those brave of heart and
Those of spirit, out of shape they’re never bent.
Perhaps you’ll find Ravenclaw
Creates the perfect match for your wit
Where you’ll find those smart-minded
Among them dwells not a single twit.
The sorting hat gives a slight pause, allowing the students a quick giggle before it continues with its song.
Perhaps sweet Hufflepuff
Will fit your cheery disposition
With those whose thoughts are of
Good Will and those of all position.
Or is it cunning Slytherin
For your ambitious mind
Those of hearty background
Are what you’re sure to find.
To all the places I sort you
It’s these qualities for which I look
But if only my loyal founders had
Allowed me to play outside the book.
But now I must separate you
Place you where it may be best
Please hear my hopeful wishes
That you’ll be friends with all the rest.
Forget you old worn enemies
Past hatred and regret
For divided we are weak
I hope you’ll not soon forget.
I look around at the rest as the Hall erupts in scattered applause, some of the older students looking grave as they discuss this latest song, the first warning we’ve heard that we recognize for what it is.
I peek at Lily. She’s starring at her hands, pale as I’m sure she contemplates the war everyone is speaking about. Marlene has paused in the braiding of her hair, searching Lily’s face as well. Alice and Frank whisper amongst themselves, Alice picking twirling and unwinding a strand of her long brown hair.
The Marauders, however, are quiet. Sirius stares across the room at the table farthest from us, watching some of the Slytherins ignore the hat and chat happily to one another. James and Remus share a look before the former punches Sirius, bringing his attention back to the table with a joke about something or other that no one outside the group could possibly understand. Sirius lets out one of his usual bark-like laughs, but his smile doesn’t reach his eyes. All of us have things to worry about in the upcoming war, but for now we’re safe. For another year at least.
It’s been so very long since I heard the sorting hat tell us to be careful. Several life times afo, really.
“What do you think it means, Lena?” The prefect besides me asks. I shake my head, but find my eyes are drawn across the hall.
“At this point, it could mean anything. Hopefully, it’s not any time soon.” The pale boy across the hall smirks at his friends. Hopefully, not any time soon.
The smell of food pulls me from my memory, the boys talking happily, shoveling food into their mouths and joking. Across the hall everyone is laughing and talking about the upcoming school year. My eyes found Marlene’s.
“You didn’t miss anything, don’t worry.” I nod. Peter’s looking at me curiously. I smile at him and let out a laugh.
“You know how I am, I zone out sometimes.”
“Ditzy moment, Lena?” James flicks some water at me.
“James Potter, I have never been so offended.” I say, fake-scandalized, “I was simply going through my large memory of Jinxes, choosing on which one I’ll use on Avery if he leers at me one more time.” Everyone laughs at me, voicing their agreements.
By the time dessert has been cleared away, I’m leaning on Marlene’s shoulder, letting my eyes droop. Everyone seems to be moving a bit slower, except for Dumbledore, who looks as energized as ever. He stand, peering at every table through his half-moon spectacles, waiting for the hall to quiet down before he begins to speak.
“Welcome students old and new, to another year at Hogwarts. I know you are all ready to reach your warm beds, but I hope you’ll bear with me while I remind you of some of our school rules. I would like the new students – and indeed some of our older students (Sirius chuckles) – to remember that the Forbidden forest is just that, forbidden. Also, Mr. Filch has asked me to tell you that there have been several new additions to the list of forbidden items, and any student wishing to see it may find it tacked outside of his office.”
“Finally, I would like to announce our newest Head Boy and Girl, who you can contact if you need any help throughout the school year. James Potter,” The whole hall, except the Syltherin table, erupts into cheers, many people shouting congratulations as James stands up and waves to the other students, “And Lily Evans.” Marlene pushes Lily into a standing position as the hall continues to clap, Sirius letting out a wolf-whistle that causes us to laugh, her face turning bright red as she resumes her seat.
“With that, I bid you goodnight.” I sigh and drag myself into a standing position.
“The password’s Isthmus,” James says quietly to the group, standing up to ensure that the students all know which prefects to follow. I nod to Lily, who is already directing first years across the hall, and make my way past all the tables, holding to the back of Sirius’s shirt as he weaves expertly through the crowd, using his height to his advantage.
“Hopefully not any time soon,” I whisper quietly to Marlene. I’m too tired to understand her confused look and just let Sirius lead me all the way up to Gryffindor Tower. I don’t actually remember brushing my teeth or changing into my pajamas, but I do remember the soft, warm feeling of my bed before I allow my eyes to close and sleep to take over.
Thanks so much for reading, I look forward to hearing what you all think!
Write a Review Experiment: Carriage Rides and Dinner Thoughts