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Chapter 1 : The Hogwarts Express
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Conversation hindered in the sight of the family; each one was serious and sharp in appearance. Every member of the crowd continued to hurry off their children, though they kept a watchful – and somewhat scrutinizing – eye upon the three recipients.
However, what these people did not notice was hidden in the folds of Astoria’s finely tailored coat, the shadows that sided with the shadowed face of a timid second child, Elsa. Though hidden was she not, the floating material failed to cover her completely causing her to feel exposed, plus, she was sceptic about perhaps hearing her father sneer “For god’s sake Astoria, walk slower.” Astoria’s steps unhurried and she vaguely turned back to her daughter.
Both her hair and skin was fair like most of her relatives’, along with large eyes which were matte yet chalky like limestone. Her pointed face held a withdrawn expression intelligently – people were prone to talk, and gossip could spread like wildfire in the wizarding world, so she had been told to stray from attention.
Unfairly, Scorpius gleamed with pride of his Slytherin robes, and his scrawny black cat, Jinx, stretched out in his arms like an indulged prince. His arrogance befuddled her, although, he had always been an odd child who enjoyed learning about Death Eaters and such. He was fifteen now, though, and too old for immature games. He was secretly pretending to be The Dark Lord again, of that she was absolutely positive. But wasn’t He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named feared still? Even though he was dead? Grandfather Lucius had told both of them many tales of the past, mostly about Hogwarts, but few to none about him.
The four strolled on, Elsa’s eyes wandering over the crowd until she spotted a small gathering of famous faces: two delightfully cheerful children, an attractive redhead and of course, a thin, dark haired hero with round spectacles and a slightly tense smile; Harry Potter.
Elsa tugged at her father’s sleeve. “Daddy, that’s Harry Potter!” she whispered. “And Ron, and Hermione…”
Draco muttered curses to himself and avoided the razor sharp glace of his wife; Jinx hissed simultaneously with Draco’s small yet honouring nod towards where Potter stood.
He leaned in towards Astoria, catching her eye coldly. “We must respect that he saved my life, love. Why can’t we be civil to one another?” When they had reached the train’s rear carriage, he turned solemnly towards his children. “This year, Scorpius, you are going to be civil to the Weasleys, and if you cross paths with a Potter, you will treat them with respect.”
“Mudbloods,” he muttered.
“I trust you to be a good student, and an honourable Slytherin, Elsa.”
All she could do was bite her lip and nod, hoping that she would be sorted into her destined house. Adamantly, Scorpius hugged his mother and father and gravely stepped on the train. He turned to glare at his sister callously as if his eyes were ice, and then with a rigid stride, surreptitiously carried his suitcase and feline into the shadows of the Hogwarts Express.
Elsa took her case and owl from the trolley. She could feel her parents exchanging glances, their eyes on her back, then on each other’s faces. They were contemplating too.
“I’ll be off then,” she smiled a little.
Astoria dragged her into a somewhat awkward embrace. She prayed that her daughter would be fine, it’s what she wished more than anything.
“Mother, what if people find out,” Elsa whispered.
“They won’t. Keep to yourself, dear, and practice as much as you can.” Her arms were stiff, but her skin smelt of wild flowers and peppermint – enough to make Elsa imagine home.
Home – the word threatened to summon tears. Home was a miles away, in Wiltshire. Home was at the end of a long winding gravel driveway. Home was far out of her reach.
Home was the Malfoy’s manor, which still included Lucius and Narcissa as residents. It was a tall, yet also expansive building, with black pointed rooftops upon each wing along with high hedges and iron gates. Inside the walls were covered in luxurious dark wallpaper, gothic in design, and, upon each room’s cold stone floor, lay a magnificent velvet carpet which only rolled from the door to the opposite wall in a four-foot line. Although it wasn’t in anyway an inviting place, it was home. It was where Elsa wished she was at that moment; she closed her eyes and imagined herself creating sparks from her fingertips in her sumptuously decorated bedroom whilst she lay on her soft emerald duvet, staring at the panelled ceiling, perhaps even making books flutter about or photographs swoop in and out of piles. Enchantingly, golden flames would rise from the base of the bed surrounding her like a wall, however not trapping her in, for the smoke whiffed of butterbeer, plus, the temperature was neither hot nor cold… it was pleasant.
But then the fire would alter. Evil jade flames would mount; serpents would climb from their peaks maliciously, slithering into the dark smoke towards where she sat, flustered and frightened.
“Daddy!” she would scream. “Daddy, help me!”
Draco would burst through the oak door, commanding, “Finite Incantatum!” and the fire would cease. “Repario!” and any damage would be reversed, leaving the room in its previous state. He would look at his terrified daughter, flushed, and hug her tightly. He knew she hadn’t meant it, that it had been an accident, so unlike his father had to him, fondly he would smile and tap his wand on her hand, whispering, “Avis.” A tiny bird would appear in her palm, chirp sweetly into her ear, then flurry across the room, and out of the window.
Elsa opened her eyes. Her mother released her grip and gently kissed her daughter on the head. “Go on then, have a good year.”
Draco quickly hugged her too. “Bye Elsa.”
“Bye, bye Dad.”
Before she knew it, her luggage had been placed in a compartment and she was waving back to her parents anxiously. Steam crawled past the window as the train whistled – puffs of grubby fog sometimes blocking view of the platform. She was leaving for Hogwarts.
Scorpius sat beside her with three of his evil looking friends on the seats opposite. She glimpsed at each of them: stony faced teenagers, sat erect in their uniforms – green ties and all. One boy had his crooked, bony wand tucked into his silver-studded belt, while another stared out of the window, unmoving. She followed his gaze. There was a man wearing a leather coat and fingerless gloves, leaning against a pillar speaking to a woman. He appeared to be talking down at her, but also smiling slyly as if he was enjoying himself – she was enjoying herself too. Was this woman his wife?
Elsa looked back to the boy, who rolled his eyes in disgust. She took a quick glace back to her parents as the train groaned with movement whilst is slowly rolled away; the flaxen brick tunnel flew past the window, and from then on, the only scenery was rolling hills of green below a grey water wash horizon.
She turned away from the boring landscape with a quiet sigh, to see that everyone was looking her way. Despite the rumbling rhythm of wheels against the tracks, all was silent; nevertheless every unfamiliar face looked rather daunting.
Timidly, she turned her gaze down to her hands; inspecting her fingertips whilst wondering how she could make miraculous episodes occur, though not control them. Then, when the chitchat around her grew into a tedious conversation, she rested her forehead upon the cool window, observing the running raindrops on the other side of the glass and betting to herself which one would reach the bottom first. She heard the discussion turn from first years, to quidditch, to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Ezra (the one with the studded belt), Eric (who had been watching the man on the platform) and Myra (who had entered the compartment about ten minutes after the train had left King Cross Station) were all predictably informed on the subject, although Scorpius’ knowledge was uncannily superior. He told the others how the Dark Lord had previously been called Tom Marvolo Riddle – an anagram of ‘I am Lord Voldermort’ – and how he too had been sorted into Slytherin. Scorpius was rather pleased to answer any questions, and consider what life would be like if Harry Potter had not killed him all those years ago.
Elsa remained silent and unnoticed for what seemed like ages, until the sound of squeaky wheels rolled past the compartment door. She lifted her head curiously, moreover, what she saw brought enchantment to her somewhat glum expression: it was an old woman in a pinafore, pushing a trolley which was piled with tins and jewel coloured wrappers, long cylindrical containers and rustling packets, miniature rainbow spheres buzzing about, along with indigo sachets that moved suspiciously.
Scorpius must have seen her delight, as he grumbled flatly, “Perhaps you would like to find yourself another compartment – we don’t want chocolate frogs and fudge flies jumping around in here.”
“I was here first,” Elsa replied inaudibly. Nonetheless, her brother glared at her with a face like ice.
“Take your case, and that damn owl, and get out. We have business to discuss.”
“What business? You’re only going into your fifth year, what kinds of business do a bunch of fifteen year olds have to discuss?” She folded her arms stubbornly.
Scorpius’ features began to change: his jaded expression turned to aggravation, his eyes burned with gritty frost, and his lips turned to a thin line. “Elsa, take your things and get out!” he shouted in a voice of bitterness.
The burst of anger strangely lifted the spirits of Ezra, Eric and Myra, though the silence quickly settled upon them once again.
Elsa swallowed. She nodded, “Fine.” Picking up her owl and case seemed to be a difficult task, but picking up her dignity was impossible. She shuffled out of the room, trying to block out any emotion of remorse, for her brother did not, and could not love her.
There was an empty compartment in the next carriage. She settled down on the bench after purchasing enough treats to last her the journey, placing her owl on the table.
She studied it closely, watching as it fluffed its white feathers, chirping contentedly in the dull morning light. It was still a nameless bird. Owly, Birdy, Fluffy…None of them fit. Perhaps an ordinary name, such as Linda, or Joanna was appropriate?
The owl fluttered and squawked, demanding food. “No,” Elsa muttered to her. “You had food, what, two hours ago?” The bird was always hungry, and in no way ladylike. Elsa sometimes wondered why she hadn’t got a cat instead, but then she would remember that owls were a reliable postage service, so she could write to home whenever she desired without the risk of professors seeing the letter, and her secret being discovered. Still, why this owl? She was an odd bird, resembling an old woman.
Astoria had spotted her, saying “What a lovely owl, Elsa.”
Elsa had taken a glance, and then fallen for the bird’s beauty. It had silky silver and russet feathers, a large round head, along with beady eyes of a glowing pale gold colour. It was significant and downy, as if it had been crafted for decoration.
When she had bought her, she had been sweetly whirring and seemed happily reserved - little did Elsa know that the owl would be so demanding. Whenever she was hungry, she would screech; she was always hungry.
Elsa jumped out of her skin. There was a boy standing in the doorway, tumbling all over the place as the train bumped over the tracks. He was lanky with curly oak coloured hair and square glasses. His neat cream shirt would have implied he was posh, if he hadn’t worn jeans and scruffy trainers. As well as this, his pockets were stuffed with treats. “I’m sorry,” he said awkwardly, “But I blew gum bubbles everywhere, and everyone in my carriage was told to find somewhere else to sit.” He scratched just above his eyebrow. “They don’t want to sit with me anymore.”
“Oh right, yes, of course,” Elsa moved the owl off the table. It protested, flapping its wings furiously. The boy sat down on the seat opposite and opened a miniature box of canary creams. “Sorry about this, but they grew so big, and then they just floated about, and they smelled horrible – like burning flowers,” his pallid skin turned slightly green.
“You didn’t chew Drobble’s Best Blowing Gum did you?”
“Might have been… it came in a little white sack.”
“Then yes, you did. I see why they were miffed with you – those bubbles don’t pop for days!”
“Oops,” He seemed guilty, but he shook it off; he was about to put a canary cream into his mouth when Elsa yelled, “Stop!”
“It will turn you into a canary! You could stay that way for weeks!”
The stranger studied the sweet, murmured, “Cool,” and then dropped it back into the box.
“Fred and George Weasley tested them out on a boy from my dad’s class when they were at Hogwarts. That’s when they found out they morphed people into birds.”
“Luckily,” he added.
For a while they didn’t speak, just sat and got on with their own business. Elsa noticed the boy take out a small, peculiar device that that showed Muggle vehicles racing, on which he became engrossed within a few minutes. Also, a small brown rat clambered out of his pocket, up his sleeve, and then curled up on his shoulder. Elsa usually hated rats – vile, rotten, scampering creatures with horrible bald tails – though this particular one was adorable; shabby and creepy, but charming all the same. Elsa watched the two of them for a few minutes, until awkwardness overcame the scene. Moreover, she felt rather uncomfortable, sitting dormant in silence.
She opened her bag and pulled out all her text books and a quill, and began to write her name on the inside covers: a job which she had meant to do at home.
“I don’t think you’re meant to do that…” The boy leaned over to see what she was writing, and caught a glimpse of her name.
“You’re a Malfoy?”
“Yes.” She tried to sound proud, but the words came out weakly.
“So you’re already in Slytherin then.”
She placed the quill on the table. “I suppose so.” The stranger looked her up and down, appearing both insecure and defensive. “What about you?”
“I’m set on Ravenclaw, but people have said I seem like a Gryffindor.”
“What about your parents?”
“My parents know nothing about the houses – they’re Muggles.” He popped a sugar spun quill into his mouth and stared out of the window as he sucked it. “They didn’t even know I was…well, whatever I am, until a few months ago. I mean, they must have known something wasn’t right, since I levitated things and brought my mum’s flowers back to life whenever they wilted, but apparently nobody in my family has been recognized as a wizard. Though I suppose it’s not the type of thing one is known to speak about openly,” he unleashed a chocolate frog from its packet, smugly seizing it in his right hand and biting off its nose.
“You’re a Mudblood?”
The boy almost choked as his eyes widened – they were blue like a Ravenclaw scarf, however also violet like an autumnal dusk. He sat up, offended. Elsa sucked in a breath as if she could suck her words back in. “A Mudblood? How dare you! Come on Ralph, we’re leaving.” He picked up the scruffy rat, roughly dropping it into his pocket, along with the rest of his chocolate frog, whilst he dragged his brown tattered case. “You Malfoys think you can speak to the rest of us however you please. So what if I have a family of Muggles? So what if I’ve attended a muggle school for the past seven years? Just because I don’t live in a large house with an elf to do all my work for me, and I’ve never even been into a Wizard’s home, and I don’t know what Quidditch actually is, it doesn’t mean I’m filth!” He swung open the door with so much strength Elsa thought the handle was going to come off.
He muttered “What?” moreover, stubbornly refused to turn around. Mudblood? Is being the son of muggle parents really that bad?
“You went to a muggle school?” The boy peered over his shoulder to nod. “What was it like?” She smiled as sweetly as she could. She was desperate to befriend this boy, because she couldn’t bear to begin her first term at Hogwarts already having a foe. Calling a perfectly alright stranger a Mudblood? Not a great way to make friends.
After considering his options, the boy sat back down; he outstretched a pale, scrawny hand. “Hugh Murphy.”
Elsa took it, and they greeted each other formally. “Elsa Malfoy.”
For the rest of the journey, they talked – Hugh explained what a pencil was, and Elsa told him everything she knew about Hogwarts. Luckily, she had grown up in household of was quidditch fans, so she managed to educate him in the subject; furthermore, she explained the sorting hat in detail, and what each house’s morals were.
“Come to think of it, you do sound like a clever claw.”
“What do you mean ’clever claw’?”
“It’s a nickname for Ravenclaw; I’ve heard my brother use it a lot when speaking about people in his classes.” Elsa contemplated how Scorpius had nicknames for each house – apart from Slytherin, of course. He never used them in a playful manner, though. Moreover, he seemed to detest any other house, only speaking of them with revulsion: clever claws, huff puffs, and great gryffs – the last one spoken with illustrious sarcasm. “He’s not very fond of non-Slytherins…”
“Is Scorpius your brother?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
“I wasn’t sure, but I heard some second years speaking about him. Apparently he’s a great Chaser.”
“Oh right. He was a decent Seeker too.”
“Which one’s that again?”
Elsa took a bite of her crystallised pineapple, and said, “The one who captures the snitch. Harry Potter was a seeker.”
Hugh obviously had never heard of Harry Potter, for his right eyebrow raised in integument. With a blow of his pepper imp - fire roared out of his mouth, and he began to half cough, half laugh – he leaned forward. “Harry Potter?”
So Elsa began the story. Lamentably, the mentioning of his name was scarce in her family, thus, major snippets of the tale were missed out. All the same, she tried her best, and her best appeared to be commendable, because Hugh kept murmuring “Really?” and “Cool!” as she spoke.
“And with Dumbledore’s army, they managed to defeat the death eaters and Voldemort.”
“Who was in Dumbledore’s army?”
“Well there was Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger – Ron and Hermione are married and have two children together, and Harry married Ron’s sister, Ginny – and there was Cho Chang, Lavender Brown, Lee Jordan, Fred and George Weasley, but Fred died in the war, and Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom – they married too, and Neville teaches Herbology. I’m not sure who else.”
“We should change into our robes.” Elsa clicked open her case. There they were, neatly folded by her mother, as soft and black Jinx’s fur: Hogwarts robes. She beamed at the sight of them, but also felt a twist of guilt in the pit of her stomach. Was she really a Hogwarts student if she had to lie? How could she betray the rules and still face the professors? What if somebody found out? How would she be dealt with? What would it mean for her family, their pride? She locked the thought into a marble chest and protected it with multiple charms and curses, melting the key into hot liquid with the tip of her wand – metaphorically, of course.
Beneath the bulky material, there was a crisp white blouse, a charcoal pleated skirt, woollen tights, as well as a pair of patent black boots – neat and dainty – and a thick grey vest. “You can change in here, Hugh. I’ll go to the restroom.”
After she left the compartment, dragging her case behind her, Hugh drew the curtains. He changed into the uniform hastily, fastening the buttons whilst he secured his belt; once he had finished, he rolled up his sleeves in attempt to make the shirt look smaller. It was at least two sizes too big – he was taller than the average eleven year old, but he wasn’t that tall! His mum had always been terrible at guessing sizes, but whilst shopping amongst crowds of bustling witches who were too shopping for Hogwarts uniforms, she must have been flourished, and selected the wrong size.
His trousers were a few inches too wide at the waist too; still, he had his belt to keep them up. He tied his shoelaces into trim bows, then relaxed on the seat and swathed himself in the robe. There was no light from outside illuminating the curtains, plus, come to think of it, he was feeling rather sleepy. But how long had he been travelling? The time had passed too quickly as he learnt about the wizarding world; he supposed that he had not really contemplated the notion of becoming a magician – or wizard, or whatever he was. His whole life had been riddled with absurd powers, yet excluded from the magnificent logic of magic.
At least he wasn’t like Elsa. Magic was all she knew, and he could comprehend her fear towards the muggles – they were superior to the wizard kind, more advanced. Though, Hugh could not think of any ways in which they were better. This society was brilliant.
At that thought, Elsa’s soft knocks were followed by her entering the compartment. Hugh stood up suddenly, so he could see her fully, as she could to him.
“How do I look?” she beamed gladly. At least her uniform fit.
“Good – what about me?”
Her smile decreased in size, until it became a little amused grin. “Great, although your shirt is a little large…”
“I know. My trousers are a little large too.”
“We can have them sorted once we get to Hogwarts.”
They both sat back down, noticing the empty space beneath each other’s shirt collar – the space where their ties would be in a few hours. Elsa’s owl chirruped gently.
“That’s a fancy birdcage,” Hugh hinted to its ornamental curves, its shining pointed top carved from silver birch. The tiny black jewels gleamed in contrast to the lustreless wood.
“Yes, it belonged to Madam Lestrange.”
He snorted, “Of course, I don’t know who that is.” And, a second after the words left his mouth, squeaks and groans from cogs and bolts deep in the train’s engine clunked through the carriage: the Hogwarts Express was slowing – we were approaching Hogwarts. Hugh leapt across the compartment, swung open the door, and scampered to the window that faced the platform. “I can’t believe we’re here!” He turned back to her. “It’s like we’re in a movie!”
Elsa was baffled. What was a ‘movie’? Hugh noticed her expression, rolling his eyes. “It’s a Muggle thing.”
“What time is it?” She rubbed her eyes drowsily, feeling groggy. Speaking for such a long time had made her tired, although she hadn’t noticed during their conversation.
Outside was almost black, as if somebody had pulled a velvet robe across the sky, and scattered Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder across it, fashioning a mystical glittering in the moonlight.
“About eight o’clock,” said a passing girl. “It takes longer than you expect, doesn’t it?” Her eyes were ringed with circles, almost as dark as her bobbed ebony hair. She yawned, and ran her hands through her curls. “These robes are handy I suppose. They’re like a blanket in a way.” She stroked the fabric.
“I wouldn’t know,” Elsa replied frankly. “I can’t sleep whilst travelling.”
The girl appeared curious; still, the train whistle beckoned her to leave. “Well, better be off!” she giggled at the pun. “Maybe I’ll see you later in my common room?”
It seemed very unlikely that a person as delightful and heartening as this would be placed into Slytherin, nevertheless, Elsa nodded back.
There was a huddle of people, pushing and shoving to leave the train in a hurry. Both Hugh and Elsa were pulled amongst them as if it were the Boxing Day sales on Diagon Alley. They heard burbles of “Ouch” and “Hey!” from all directions, as well as wittering from the conductor about orderly queues. When there was a free space to escape, Elsa was about to step out of the carriage, when suddenly, Scorpius strode out of his compartment, locking eyes with her immediately. She frowned in a hurt, stern manner, confirming her wounded feelings. However, he did not look back apologetically. He did not even speak. His eyes held hers severely, prior to him exiting the train stiffly and walking out of sight, his robes sweeping the floor.
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