Chapter 1 : Hogwarts, here we come
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Hi. My name is Adeline Brentley. My best friend calls me Addey. I am eleven years old, and guess what? I'm a witch! Today is the 1st of September, and I'm off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the first time in my life. Isn't that exciting? I'm now sitting by the window in one of the compartments of the Hogwarts Express. In front of me is my neighbor slash best friend, Rane Ethelred. She's a lovely girl, though a bit tomboy. She's very lively and energetic, and we've been friends since forever.
Anyway, I don't know how long me and Rane have been pressing our foreheads against the train window, but I think it's been quite a while now because Rane starts to moan and throws herself back onto the seat.
“Urgh! I'm bored!” she exclaims. “It's been nothing but fields and clouds and trees and sheep.... When will we ever get to Hogwarts!?”
I glance at her briefly and go back to gaze at the passing scenery.
I don't mind actually. I enjoy a long ride. I always love it when my parents took me on a car trip to the countryside. I like to watch the vast green fields flash past the windows. I also like to watch the clouds go by. Do you know that there are many types of them? Cirrus... Cumulus... Altocumulus... Cumulonimbus.... and I could bore you to death as the list goes on reaaally long. My favorite is the cumulus cloud. They look puffy and soft. I especially love it when they're piled up together and form a huuuge island of cloud. I would then think about how nice it would be to live there... bouncing around... bathing in the warm sun... Really, I feel like I could watch them forever and let my mind wander until I feel tired and fall asleep.
“Addey!” calls Rane, breaking my daydream.
“Mmm..” I answer sluggishly.
“I'm bored! Let's do something else. There's nothing interesting anymore since that elephant-like cloud passed by.”
Reluctantly, I pull myself away from the window.
“Okay... what do you want to do then?” I ask.
She puts her fist on her chin and poses like a particularly famous muggle thinking statue. (I chuckle).
“Mm.. I don't know...... Ow! I know! I know!” she proclaims loudly. (Here probably goes another crazy dare game of hers).
“If you can choose, where do you want to be sorted in?” she asks excitedly. Her feet are tapping rapidly on the floor.
“Eh?” I answer, feeling quite dumbfounded. I didn't expect that one coming.
She clicks her tongue in disappointment and repeats herself once more. “I said, if you can choose, where do you want to be sorted in?”
“Mmm....” I ponder for a moment. “I don't know... Every house sounds good,” I said unconvincingly.
Rane stops tapping and then raises her eyebrow. She leans closer to me and says in a sly whisper, “Really? Even Slytherin?”
I fidget uncomfortably. I don't think I ever see myself as a Slytherin material, but I'd like to think that every house stands on equal ground – each emphasizing on great qualities which others don't.
“Well," I say, "they said it's the house that value those who have ambition. It's good to have ambition don't you think? My parents told me that the sooner you found your goal in life, the faster you can move.”
Rane stays silent. She smirked at me as if trying to make me say that being a Slytherin is a no no. With all the bad and dark history of former Slytherin graduates (a.k.a the Dark Lord and many of his cronies), she expects that not many people would want to be in Slytherin, including me.
“And..” I say more loudly and confidently, “despite of what you think I might think... I think that not all Slytherin are bad. Mum and Dad told me that every person's heart are set in neutral. It can either go to good or bad depending on one's own choice. So there!”
Rane is still smirking. But now, her face is also filled with amusement (hmmphh! she thought I was amusing, didn't she?). She still haven't said anything, clearly challenging me to give her a more satisfying (or more amusing) answer.
And so I give her one. “And I know a very particular wizarding family whose member, as far as I know, are all Slytherin, and they're not bad at all. They're a good friend of my family.”
Rane's eyes twinkle, and she finally says, “And which family is that?”
I scoff and answer “It's your family, and you know it.”
“Ha ha ha..!!” burst Rane suddenly. “Good one Addey!” She gives me a hard pats on the back and goes back to her seating position.
“But you're right,” Rane says proudly, “we, Slytherins, are..”
“You're not sorted yet Rane,” I cut her.
“Come on Addey. Don't cut me like that” protests Rane. “I was about to tell you all the good stuff about being a Slytherin. And anyway, I WILL be sorted into Slytherin. I just know it. It's in my blood.” She pounds her chest proudly and shoots a smug at me.
“But come on,” she continues, “what about you? Ok, how about your family? Maybe if you look at the trend in your family, it will be easier for you to make a choice. What about your Mum and her family?”
I answers glumly, “too bad Rane. My mum never went to Hogwarts, so she couldn't be a ..”
“What?!!?” Rane shouts before I could finish. “But she's a witch, ain't she?”
I grin over her reaction. (She's so dramatic).
“Yes she is. But I think I've told you that she's not originally from Britain?” She shakes her head. “Okay... maybe not then,” I continue. “Anyway, she went to a school far far away from here... some school called... mm... okay.. I can't really say the name, but I think it sounded like 'se..se.. sekola si'ir'... Merlin! I could never say it correctly!”
Rane's eyes widen in excitement. “Say that again,” she says, definitely amused.
“O no no no...” I refuse. “You can ask my Mum later during Christmas break.”
“Tsk. You're no fun Addey.” She pouts.
I know she's not really mad, so I continue, “Anyway... that school is somewhere in Asia, in case you're wondering. But back to our topic... No. I couldn't use her as a reference. And that leaves me with my father.”
“Oow... yeah.. what about your father and his family?” asks Rane full of curiosity.
I sigh. “Well, unfortunately too, as you have known, he's a muggleborn.”
“Really?” she cuts again. (I chuckle inside my head.. She really forgets things easily)
“Yes he is Rane. And so, I couldn't have his family as reference either. Just him. He's in Ravenclaw by the way.”
“Oohh... Ravenclaw,” Rane commented enthusiastically. “Witty... brainy... and wisdomey? Wisdomous? .. tsk... So anyway... how about it Addey? Fancy being a Ravenclaw?
I grin at her (she's funny). “Well,” I answer nonchalantly, “Why not? Wisdom sounds like a very important trait. My Grandpa once told me that people who have wisdom will have the ability to differentiate what is true, right, or lasting. That's important, right?”
Rane shrugs and says, “maybe...”
“But Rane...” I say in a weary voice. “I don't know if I'm smart enough to be in Ravenclaw.”
“Rubbish!” spat Rane. “You're smart! I'm telling you.”
My face lights up. “You think so?”
“Of course!” she says. “Who else could name and differentiate all those bloody clouds in the sky?”
“You're mocking me.” I pout.
“Noo!” she says in aghast. “You are smart. I'm telling you. My gut feeling says so. Trust me.”
“Your gut feeling, eh?” I say.
I sigh and turn my head towards the window. The sun is setting already, and the sky is beautifully tinted with pale orange. It's so pretty. I draw myself closer to the window and start gazing again. Meanwhile, Rane is rummaging through the snack bag we bought earlier from the trolley lady. She says, “AHA,” as she pulls out a cauldron cake. I wonder how much longer it will take to finally reach Hogwarts. I'm guessing not long. Dad said I'll reach Hogwarts around nightfall.
I put my arm on the table by the window and rest my hand on top of it. This feels so nice. I can feel the warm sunset light illuminate my face. I can hear the clacking sound of the train engine. I can hear the sound of people passing by the corridor. Sometimes its a slither.... sometimes its a loud BOM BOM BOM mixed with laughter... sometimes its a firm TAP TAP TAP.... I can hear the rustling sound of a paper bag. I guess Rane is looking for another cake to eat... Then, I can also feel the gentle motion of the train... rocking me... taking my conscious away. Maybe I'll fall asleep soon and dream. I wonder where my dream would take me to. Hogwarts? Yes... Maybe my dream will tell me where I'll get sorted into. Ravenclaw...? Slytherin....? Gryfffindor........
I feel my eyelids closing and the last thing I hear is a small voice inside my head saying Huffle...pu...f...............
Rane's voice suddenly rang in my head, and I feel rapid pokes on my shoulder. I must have dozed off. I open my eyes and try to locate Rane.
“Wake up, wake up! A prefect just came and told me that we'll reach Hogwarts in twenty minutes!” She squeal happily. “Come on! Let's get dressed!”
I straighten myself up and say groggily, “Uh? Aren't we dressed already? You made us dress as soon as this train departed.”
Rane who's jumping up and down in celebration stops frozen. She slowly checks on herself and makes a face.
“Oh Merlin! Now what should I do to kill time? We still have 20 minutes before we finally reach Hogwarts.”
She slumps onto her seat. However, not long after, her face brighten up again.
“Hey...!” she exclaims. “We haven't finished our little talk Addey! What about Gryffindor?”
“What about Gryffindor?” I absentmindedly ask her back.
“You know,” she says impatiently. “Would you want to be sorted into Gryffindor?”
I blink at her, still trying to process what she's asking me about.
“Gryffindor!!” she says in her version of deep heroic voice. Her right fist clenches up in the air. “Where the daring and the brave dwell,” she continues, “to save the damsel in distress.”
I giggle at her goofiness.
“So?!” she turns her heads towards me. “Are you brave enough m'lady? Or are you the damsel in distress?”
My hands search for any kind of wrappings left on my seat. When I found one, I crumple it and throw it at Rane. It turned out to be a mistake because she soon takes a whole bunch of wrappers from her seat and let it fall over my head. Some wrappers and crumbs got stuck in my hair.
“Heyy!! That's not fair!” I protest. “I only threw one at you!”
Rane smirks winningly. (Oh her attitude)
After I brushed the wrappers and crumbs out of my hair, I look at her and somehow feel disheartened. I don't know why, but if there's one thing I find hard to digest, it would be unfairness. An eye for an eye, that's a value my mum taught me since I was little. I have a younger brother and we use this concept to solve many of our problems. When we argue over something, and things started to heat up, and he or I started to get physical: he pushed me... then I would push him back. If he pushed me again, then I would push him back again. But then because I got emotional, I would add a smack on his head. That time I know I have broken the rule, so I know what was coming for me; he smacked me back on the head. Then, we would glare at each other, and said “you stop!” and stepped back away slowly from each other before rage took us over. Of course it doesn't always work that nicely. Many times one of us just couldn't control it and a real fight-that-could-only-be-stop-by-our-parents broke.
Anyway, I glance again at Rane. She's still wearing that smirk on her face. I didn't mean her any harm. It was just one tiny piece of a crumpled paper. She didn't have to be so mean. She played a prank on me many times, and I was okay because I thought it was funny and it was all just for fun. Well this too! But again, she's not my brother. I shouldn't expect her to understand. Plus, it was all my fault anyway. I started it. Now I receive my consequence.
I stare at my feet and become quite for a while, trying to recollect my composure.
“Hey!” I hear Rane calling. “So what's it gonna be? The brave or the damsel?”
I take a deep breath and huff. I then raise my head and force a grin at her (I always do that whenever I need to hide my true feelings at a moment). “Mmmm....” I say with a shaky voice. “I don't know... I don't think I'm a damsel who needs to be saved... but I'm no hero either... I think. But it sure is good to be brave. My Grand...”
“AH! NO! Stop stop stop!” commands Rane while shaking her head. “Enough with the 'my dad said this... my mum said that... my grandpa said what.... You sound like a goody goody Hufflepuff.”
“Excuse me, a what??” I ask as if didn't hear it well enough.
“Like I said... A Goo-Dey Goo-Dey Hufflepuf,” Rane repeats the word clearly.
“What's wrong with being a goody goody? And what's wrong with being a Hufflepuff?" I ask back defensively. "I heard they're hard working, and patient, and loyal, and fair (hey... fair, that's one trait I've learnt to value).”
“Ah... well...” she starts to speak again, her voice filled with ickiness, ”you know... goody goody.... You don't want to be goody goody. And what's wrong with being a Hufflepuff? Well... you know... they're... goody goody!”
I smile sympathetically at Rane and challenge her back, “and?? that is not good because??”
She ruffles her short hair in frustration and says, “Well... you know... Just don't be a goody goody okay! People will trample on you because you're too goody goody.”
I raise my eyebrow and tease her, “Don't worry... I won't be TOO goody goody. I will just be a goody goody. See? Without a too.”
Rane glares at me in disbelieve. “Arggh... suit yourself.” she cries. “But you know my brother right?”
I nodded, but not following where her sudden change of subject 's heading to.
“Well he's been at Hogwarts for 3 years now, and he told me all sorts of stuff about the houses in Hogwarts. And do you know what he told me about Hufflepuff?”
“That they're too goody goody?” I answer with a big grin on my face.
Rane throw a dirty look at me. “Yes... but no! Not that!” she says. “My brother said that the Hufflepuffs haven't won the house cup in a loooooooooooong time. And they're usually at the bottom place!”
“The Gryffindors, even though they're brawny and not brainy..” she continued.
“I don't think that's true..” I intercepted.
Rane threw me another dirty look. “Oh come on.. I'm stereotyping here. Well, like I said, even though they're brawny and not brainy... they're actually quite good. And look at their figures: Harry Potter... Ronald Weasley... Hermione Granger... Neville Longbottom... Their names are written in our chocolate frog card. They're the heroes of the second war!”
“And Ravenclaw,” she continues, “even though they're nerdy and odd... But at least Luna Lovegood made it into the card too. She's also a hero in the second war. Now, what about Hufflepuff? I don't think I've seen any Hufflepuff hero in the chocolate cards.”
“What about Slytherin then?” I ask haughtily.
Rane looks at me in pity and shakes her head. “Oh poor Addey. You just don't understand do you? We ARE in the chocolate card. As much as I hate to admit that we pose as the villain, but you might say we're the greatest villain of all. You see?”
I shake my head, “No. I don't see what you see. What's so good about being the villain?”
She clicks her tongue and said “Oh Addey... nothing's good about being the villain, especially when you lost. But at least we SHINE.”
Without noticing, the train pulls into a stop. Both me and Rane look outside the window and see the Hogsmeade platform. Hogwarts is near. Rane looks at me and pulls me up. She squeals and jumps happily, and I couldn't help but join her.
In the midst of our new excitement, we forget all about our heated discussion before. What we have in mind right now is walk through the long winding paths ahead of us. Hogwarts, here we come!
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