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Too Little Too Late by StEpH_M
Chapter 4 : Blondes, Brunettes and a Red head
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2

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Beta'd by Chocolate_Frog!

Amazing CI by Giola @tda

After the debacle with Remus, my first trip on the Hogwarts Express was extremely uneventful. I met Luke’s girlfriend, Tabitha, who was your average ditsy blonde in my opinion. However, Luke liked her so for his sake I held off from bagging her until she was out of hearing range so I wouldn’t piss off Luke. Yeah, I know I should be saying ‘I won’t say anything in front of Luke’, but quite frankly, he’s so used to me bagging his girlfriends that he doesn’t care, just as long as it is not in front of the “current girl”. He is a damn womanizer.

Suddenly, the sliding door to the compartment was pulled open, and I could hear the chattering outside as the view I had been staring at through the window in the corridor was obscured by a large figure.

Ignoring the figure, I continued to stare through the doorway, daydreaming about things that I always wished I could forget. The random thought of colourful words I could use in reference to Luke’s’ new bimbo brushed my mind. The tall figure in the doorway cleared his throat, obviously trying to gain someone’s attention. Not realizing it was me, I continued to stare until Luke nudged my side, and I finally payed attention to my surroundings.

Looking up, I saw Jeremy peering down at me with a worried look on his face. I gave my best reassuring smile, hoping that it would fool him into thinking everything was okay. His face relaxed, but his eyes betrayed the truth: He didn’t believe my reassuring smile; he knew me too well for that. I shied away from his look and went back to watching the countryside fly by at an extremely fast pace.

Everyone started talking around me. I ignored them all, not wanting to get involved in trivial testosterone-filled conversations after the events in my last compartment. I just wanted some comfort and quiet. I needed Annie, my precious little kitten; she always knew how to make me feel safer and more relaxed. I got up to look for the cage that Annie had been in when we got onto the train. Jeremy had brought it into the compartment, and put it somewhere on the racks above the seats.

I rummaged through the rack above my seat until I found the medium-sized cage at the very back of my belongings, carefully placing it onto my seat. I knelt down to open the door and look into the cage when I realized in horror that the cage had been way too light. My kitten was missing!

“JEREMY!” I yelled, seething with anger. My kitten was extremely important to me, and the bloody oaf lost her! If it wasn’t for the fact that I was going to make him find her, I would have beaten his sorry ass until he couldn’t stand.

“What? What’s wrong Mattie?” A panicked tone took over Jeremy’s voice; he was worried about something completely different than what I was about to have a fit at him for. Sweet Jeremy, always worrying about others, when he should be worrying about himself: I was going to castrate him. He lost my dear Annie; she had only been away from her mother for a few weeks and he had lost her!

“YOU LOST ANNIE!” I yelled. The whole carriage could hear my yells but I didn’t care; I wanted my kitten back. Oh, my precious little kitten that I should never let out of my sight...

“I… lost… Annie?” he stuttered as he peered down to the carrier to inspect if what I was saying was true. The nerve of him! You don’t question the truth of distraught girls; they will attack, like I was so tempted to do now.

“Yes! How could you lose her; she’s a kitten for god sakes! It’s not like she has the intelligence to unhook a door and jump out!” My voice remained steady as I tried to calm myself down. I had to think, where would she run off to on such a large train? She could be anywhere, she was so tiny that she would be able to fit in the smallest hiding places and not be seen. Not to mention she would just fall asleep so I wouldn’t be able to hear her meow. I was going to break down if I didn’t find her soon. I had to; she was so important. It doesn’t matter that she was brand new and I haven’t had her for more then a week.

She was Ben’s parting gift, and reminder that I could snuggle when I was scared or lonely. I needed her.

“Mattie, we’ll find her, okay? Everyone will look, won’t you guys?” Luke stood up while reassuring me, putting his hands on my shoulders and turning me around so I was facing him, then looking expectantly at everyone else in the compartment, waiting for their reply. They all replied with hurried ‘yeses’ and started to leave the compartment, frantically looking around for the small fluffy kitten. I was about to start walking out of the compartment when Luke enveloped me in a hug and wouldn’t let me go. I almost broke down in his warm arms; they reminded me so much of Ben’s. He put me at arm’s length and looked at me seriously, making sure I wouldn’t lie when I answered his upcoming question.

“You okay, Mattie? I figure this kitten is really important to you, but why? It’s only been with you for a week,” he questioned, confuson present in his voice.

“I will tell you, Luke, I will; just not know. I can’t right now,” I finished in a whisper, letting the thought I had been denying for so long finally settle in. I would not break down; I wouldn’t allow it. I had to keep face and stay strong, because that was who I was: Mattie, the strong one. I walked out of the compartment and started strolling down the corridor, searching for my precious kitten. I knew where I was heading, and for once, I wasn’t’ apprehensive. I was ready for it. I wasn’t going to stop until I found Annie, even if that meant going back into that compartment and talking to him. Before that, though, I would look in other compartments, in the vents, everywhere a little kitten could be hiding.

It wasn’t until 20 minutes afterwards when I started to get worried. We hadn’t found her, and more then half the train had been searched. We had to find her; she had to be somewhere around here. I started to get desperate and frantic, looking along the sides of the train for small holes that she might have hidden in. I wasn’t watching where I was going, so when I accidentally bumped into someone I jerked upright to find a red-headed girl around my age turning around, her hand on her mouth as if she was about to apologize for bumping into me.

We both apologized at the same time, when suddenly I noticed what was in her arms: a cute little fluff ball that was meowing and clawing as soon as it spotted me.

“Oh, thank god, you found her,” I said, smiling gratefully at this mysterious girl that saved my kitten.

“What? Oh you mean this adorable thing. Is she yours?” The girl asked. I nodded, and she handed Annie over to me. As soon as Annie was in my arms I snuggled her and buried my face into her fur, breathing in the comforting warmth that she gave me. I looked up, about to thank her properly, when I noticed the three individuals behind her, staring at us: Remus looked worried, Floor boy was looking on apprehensively, and Sirius just looked amused, but slightly worried. I was about to suggest to the girl that we should go back to my compartment to talk, but she had followed my eyes and was now glaring that the three boys standing halfway down the corridor. Did I have an ally against the boys? I was starting to like this redhead even more.

“Remus, Black, Potter… what do you want?” She was slightly bitter towards them all, but especially to Black and Potter. However, I could already tell that with Potter the bitterness was a façade. She liked him, and she knew it. I couldn’t complain about that, as long as she didn’t like Sirius and had a thing against Remus I was good.

“Lily, we were just wondering what you were doing out here all alone. We saw you pass our compartment and came out to give you company,” Sirius said, a slight mocking tone to his voice. He wasn’t out here for her; the other two might have been but he was definitely out here for some other reason. I looked up at him and saw that he was staring at me with a smirk on his face. I glared; I was now seething. Anger filled me, and I was close to punching him, until I heard the soft meow from the little bundle of fluffiness that was resting in my arms. Looking down into its adorable eyes I instantly calmed down and relaxed, just wanting to go back to my compartment and sit quietly talking to friends while stroking her.

“Come on Lily, let’s go,” I hastily said, pulling on her arm to get her to follow me down the corridor and to my compartment. I didn’t really want another confrontation with those boys.

“What? Oh yes, let’s get going. They aren’t worth our company.” She turned around and walked with me towards my compartment. Along the way, I passed some of Luke and Jeremy’s friends and told them that we had found her. They all looked relieved that they could sit down and have a conversation again without Jeremy and me fighting. I smiled at this knowledge.

“Hey, I haven’t seen you around; you new?” Lily asked, seeming to find the silence awkward and needing to be filled with polite questions and chitchat. I was happy that she had asked, really, it meant that she actually wanted to get to know me—well, I hoped it did. I needed my own friends, not just Jeremy and Luke’s.

“Oh yeah, I am. I’m starting my fourth year this year. My name’s Matilda, but most call me Mattie,” I answered friendlily. I continued to stroke Annie as we made our way to the door of the compartment. The sight awaiting inside shocked me. Luke and what appeared to be his girlfriend, Tabitha I think, were fighting. Since I am naturally an eavesdropper, I listened in and instantly felt guilty.

“What do you mean you don’t care? I told you that she was important to me, and you can’t even muster up enough kindness to be polite and look for her kitten without complaint?” I heard Luke yell. Their argument was about me…Why were they fighting about me? I wasn’t worth fighting over. I didn’t want any fights at all.

“Me? I was looking for the damn thing wasn’t it? I actually got my hands dirty looking for it. I don’t see why you are choosing that girl over me; she is just a sniveling 4th year. I am so much better,” She bitched back. I didn’t think ditsy people could be so bitchy, but I guess these ditsy people where different. I just wish they would stop yelling. Fighting was bad.

“Sniveling? Are you serious? She means the world to both Jeremy and me. I told you that long ago, and you’re having a go at her now? Why would you think I would take your side over hers? You’re a ditsy blonde that’s good for the occasional broom closet. I would have ended up breaking up with you anyway. But her? She’s my cousin; I will always care for her.” He was yelling extremely loud now; I didn’t need to press my ear to the wall to hear anymore. It wasn’t until Lily put her hand on my shoulder that I realized I was shaking. I looked up at her and she gave me a reassuring squeeze and nodded back down the train to what I assumed was her compartment. I was about to agree when the door to my compartment was slammed open.

“That’s it. We’re THROUGH!” Luke yelled as his now ex-girlfriend stormed out of the compartment and down the corridor in the opposite direction to us. I stared at the now fuming Luke, shaking all over and tears glistening in my eyes. Lily was starting to usher me down the corridor when Luke looked at me, seeing my frightened face and trying to walk towards me, an apologetic expression on his face. With every step he took closer I watched, silently considering whether make a hasty exit down the corridor or to listen to his apologetic words and forgive him.

I choose the former. As his arm stretched out to place on my shoulder I took a step back and hugged Annie, not wanting to face so many problems in one day. Luke dropped his arm and looked ashamed, not sure what to do. Before he could explain Lily was ushering me down the corridor towards her compartment and her friends. I only just heard the faint ‘sorry’ from Luke as Lily quickened our pace and walked into the next carriage, towards her comfortable and argument-free compartment.

When we arrived outside, I was apprehensive at first: should I go in with the shy persona that I hid daily (but now had been seen by five people), or act tough, strong and removed from the pain that fighting caused me, to keep up appearances in front of new people. I could trust Lily, even though I had only known her for a short amount of time; she was kind and compassionate. But could I trust her friends? Lily seemed like the well-liked kind, the kind that has been known to find company in the bitchy and unreliable.

Sure, they would have many a friend that was just like them, but also many that would blackmail and spread rumors if you rubbed them up the wrong way. I decided for the brave face, the one that said I was not harmed by the fighting that had occurred in front of me or the confrontation from the boy I had tried to forget. Lily saw my deliberation and waited patiently for me to decide how I was going to take this. Once I came to my conclusion I nodded and she smiled, slightly proud of my decision to be tough and control my overall tired disposition and aching heart. I had even stopped shaking, which was a congratulatory achievement in its own.

“Hey girls, I would like you to meet someone that I bumped into on the way to the front compartments. She is the owner of that adorable kitten. Her name is Matilda,” Lily announced as she slid open the door to the compartment. She stepped inside and moved to the side to let me pass her.

There were 4 girls inside the compartment, all of different heights and appearances. There was one girl in the compartment that I slowly gravitated towards, taking the empty seat beside her and remaining silent as Lily took her seat next to me. In the corner of my eye I thought I saw Lily smile in approval of the company I chose to draw myself into. The girl on my right, the one I felt like I could get to know, somehow reminded me of Clary back in Australia. She had that image of a kind, sensitive girl that was very loyal to her friends. It was comforting to know that maybe I wouldn’t be as alone as I thought I would be at this school.

“So, Matilda right? Where are you from? Why are you only coming to Hogwarts now? Did you transfer from another school? Get expelled? Kill someone?” asked a girl sitting opposite me. I was taken aback by her abruptness; she was flat out asking for personal information and was, to my disappointment, already assuming the worst of me. It was as I feared. Lily was friends with gossipers, not that I blame her. Back in Australia I was friends with them too, just to know what was going on, such as whether I was suspected of secret pranks or my pranks where announced before I had even done them.

“Lisa, that’s not something you ask straight away. Geez, you can be so insensitive at times,” complained the girl that sat to my right. I knew there was a reason that I liked her. I turned to her and gave her a grateful smile. She returned one that basically said ‘no problem’. The girl called Lisa glared at the one next to me, apparently not liking the way she was treated or turned down. I was hoping that would be the end, but apparently not.

“Oh stop it Alice, she was just curious. I want to know too! Why are you here?” exclaimed another girl that sat next to Lisa. Her long blonde wavy hair suggested that she to was shallow and cared too much about her appearance. I sighed, not really sure what to tell them. I went with the vague, half-true story that I had made up on the plane trip.

“I am from Australia; I lived alone with my mum and was homeschooled for my childhood. The headmaster decided it was time for me to go to Hogwarts, that I was home schooled for long enough and I needed to meet more wizards and my mother agreed. No transfer, no expulsion; just plain old home schooling,” I stated, trying to turn off their questioning. I was hoping to keep my home life a secret, but when I chanced a glance at Lily I could tell that I wasn’t going to be let off easily by her or Alice. I turned back to face the girls across from me, hoping they would buy the story.

“Oh, how boring. Home schooled, why would you want that? I mean, that would mean no boys. Who would want that?” The blonde exclaimed, disgusted in the thought of no males. How lovely. I was going to share a school, and most likely friends, with a hormonal 14-year-old.

“Go suck a guy’s face, Gabby, and leave the poor girl alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never wants to talk to you again.” I was shocked by the words that came from the girl in the corner’s mouth. She hadn’t spoken since I had come in, preferring to keep to herself and stare out the window. She was a pretty looking girl, one of those ones that new she was gorgeous and used it to her advantage but wasn’t shallow about it. She seemed tough, like she was the one that comforted the rest of the group. Well, Lily and Alice most likely couldn’t really put up with the bitching of the other two girls; she was probably the one that fought the battles for Alice and Lily when it became too much for them.

“Seriously Marlene, you don’t have to be a right bitch, we were only curious,” said Gabby, acting appalled. She stormed out of the room, Lisa tailing behind. I couldn’t help but smile; Marlene was appearing to be a good ally to have in this school. So was Lily, she had sat next to me the entire time, and subtly, without the other girls noticing, placed her hand on mine to comfort me when they jabbed me with questions.

“As you already know, I am Marlene,” Marlene announced from across the seats, leaning forward slightly and smiling. “… This is Alice…” she motioned across to the sweet brunette that sat next to me. I looked over at her and smiled. She returned the smile, blushed, and went back to reading her book. “… And you obviously already know Lily,” she finished, laying back on the seat and putting her feet up on the now vacant seats.

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Matilda and well, thank you for what you did back there,” I stuttered. My hand quickly went to my mouth. I never stuttered. But then again, I hardly ever said thank you to anyone who wasn’t an adult. It was a new feeling to be saved by someone other then Ben.

“That’s okay, I don’t like those girls anyway. It’s always nice to annoy them. Now, what is the real reason you are in this compartment and not the one you have been for the past five hours? I don’t mean to push you, but if someone is picking on you, I want to know so I can give them a taste of their own medicine,” Marlene said. I couldn’t help the small smile that escaped my lips at her words. I liked having people who cared. Lily squeezed my hand again. In some why she was saying that I didn’t have to say right now, that I could wait until I was ready. But I knew she wanted to know just as much as the other two.

So after taking a deep breath, I braved the waters and started the long conversation of Australia, the people I knew there, and my relationships with my mother and Remus. They listened intently to it all as I told my story, the story that would either gain their friendship or make them realize just how messed up my life was. I watched their faces as they went from awe, to sympathy, to disgust at my mother and a slight disappointment in Remus by end.

“Oh Matilda, I hope you know we will be here for you through school and after if you want us!” Lily cried, changing from squeezing my hand to engulfing me in a massive hug. Over her shoulder I saw the other two nod in agreement.

“Not to mention that we love a good chance to be mean to the boys. They deserve it half the time,” Marlene said, a smirk on her face, and I couldn’t help but to smile. This was it. I had allies, people that knew my story and didn’t reject me for it.

They were the first people I had told that I hadn’t known my entire life, and they were the first friends that I had made.

Everything was looking better; this train trip has gone from the worst trip of my life to one of the best.

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