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Chapter 2 : The Journey to Hogwarts
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Disclaimer: Everything you recognise belongs to the fantastic J.K.Rowling.
September 1st is a relatively easy day for most people. You know, you get up in the morning, check you’ve packed everything, and then you head on down to Platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross Station. Usually the hardest part of the journey is getting your trunk onto the train without crushing any valuable limbs. My journey obviously has to be a lot more complicated than that.
Okay, maybe I am over exaggerating a little bit. It’s just a bit inconvenient, if you know what I mean. Obviously everyone goes home for the summer holidays, and I am no different. But that’s where the trouble is, you see. I live in the water, and to keep up appearances I have to swim all the way to Dover, get out of the water without anyone seeing me, find one of those muggle transportation boxes big enough to fit my trunk and get to King’s Cross. What makes it harder is the fact that my family prefers for me to get there early, obviously to avoid me missing the train. One word for them: Paranoid.
Anyway, once this is done though, I’m home free.
Currently I am sitting in one of the bigger compartments in the far end of the train. Alone. This happens quite a lot as I usually get here early, clearly due to my mother’s knack at planning. I need to find something to entertain myself…. Hmm…. Hey, there’s a bird on the tracks. How did that get in here? Is that bird magical? Maybe it’s a duck in disguise! Oh sweet Merlin, it could be You-know-who’s latest disguise! That’s how no one can find him! He’s a bloody pigeon! I knew it was som-
“Amy! Get off your bloody ass and help me with this bloody trunk!”
Thought process: Current Status – Interrupted.
Turning my head away from the dark wizard pigeon, I see the image of one of my best friends, Marlene McKinnon, attempting to lift her trunk. It’s quite funny, let me tell you that.
Marlene McKinnon is, quite literally, one of the cheekiest, boldest and most daring people I have ever met. And with long blonde hair and light blue eyes, she is also one of the prettiest. Seriously, the girl is like 5ft 6in of pure gorgeousness – is that even a word?
And this is what made the situation all the more funny. Her blonde hair was stuck to her forehead due to sweat, her sky coloured eyes glaring as though she was trying to burn a hole in her trunk, and her frame so hunched over she looked as if she belonged at Notre Dame, ringing a bell. Ah bless.
Deciding it would probably be best to put the poor girl out of her misery, I reluctantly got up from where I was pigeon watching and moved towards the compartment door.
“Ah Marls, how I have missed your dulcet tones!”
She turned to me with those glaring eyes and I decided it was probably the right time to just shut up and grab a handle.
“So,” I said, trying to change the topic, “How’s summer been?”
This was evidently the right question to ask as her face immediately transformed from a glaring paradise to a tropical spring of happiness.
“Awesome!” she beamed, “Well and truly awesome! Seriously, you will never guess what happened. Remember that muggle that I was on about after Christmas last year…” And this was where I tuned her out. I know I love her and all that, but honestly, sometimes she could just go on for forever.
Turning away from her, I focused on lifting her monster of a trunk. It was beyond me how she had even managed to get it on the train. Bend your knees, dammit, bend your knees! Aha, yes! I had now successfully lifted the trunk about a foot off the ground, which is definitely something, considering that this thing felt as though she had stuffed it entirely with rocks. Now all I have to do is turn it around a little bit to get it through the door. Nearly there… just a little bit more… closer… HOLY MOTHER OF-
The whole trunk had come crashing down on my foot, thanks to my careless roommate, who, by the way, was still going on about that ruddy muggle.
“Marlene!” I shouted, or more like screamed. It hurt, dammit!
She snapped out of her little speech and finally looked at me properly. Then, seemingly noticing my agonized face and silent plea for her to get this monster off of my foot, she bent down and managed to move it enough for me to get my foot out. Ahhh relief.
Between the two of us, we eventually managed to get the trunk into the compartment and up onto one of the shelves. Mind you that was only when we finally realised that as we were on the Hogwarts Express, we were allowed to use magic. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.
Now as we were both sitting down quite comfortably, we began telling our summer time tales. Man, hers was much more interesting than mine. All I did was swim, swim, and ooh let me think, swim!
These thoughts were put out of my mind, however, when I noticed my two other best friends, Alice Darcy and Lily Evans, standing in the doorway.
Alice was equal to Marlene on the pretty scale. She had her dark brown hair cut into a bob, which accented her round face, and soft hazel eyes that always seemed kind, no matter how many times you piss her off.
Lily Evans, on the other hand, was off the scale beautiful, with long auburn hair and bright emerald green eyes. And I mean seriously bright. They were honestly dazzling. It didn’t help that she was one of the smartest students in our school, not to mention one of the kindest. I’ve always thought that it was a bit ironic that she had green eyes when it was pretty much impossible for her to be jealous of anyone.
I, on the other hand, am sometimes insanely jealous of her. She is the queen of beauty, while I am probably to equal one of her slaves, looks wise. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am pretty. And that’s not me bragging, it’s just that being a mermaid makes you naturally pretty. It’s a given. But while she has bright red hair, I have gold/blonde/brown hair. And while she has bright green eyes, I have hazely-greeny eyes. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
Anyway, once we had done the mandatory ‘meet and greet’, which basically entailed each of us hugging each other and gushing over how much we had missed each other, they had levitated their trunks into our compartment, while managing to not crush any toes. Some girls just have it all.
“So,” Marlene said as we all got settled for the long journey from Platform 9 ¾ to Hogwarts, “Anyone heard the latest on the boys-who-shall-not-be-named?”
This is what we called them, by the way; the ‘boys-who-shall-not-be-named’. And by them, I mean the ‘Marauders’, as they so appropriately named themselves. It started in third year when one of the boys, James Potter, began obsessively asking out our Lily-flower. His ego was so big she began to think that by even saying his name, he ran the risk of inflating it to an almost dangerous point. And so from then on we decided to call the whole lot of them the ‘boys-who-shall-not-be-named’. It’s for their own good, if you really think about it.
“Oh dear god,” replied Alice, her face showing clearly just how annoyed she could get by their very mention. “The term hasn’t even begun yet! What the bloody hell could they have possibly done now?!”
“Oh, it’s not something they’ve done today; it’s what one of them has been doing throughout the summer. Brace yourselves. Ready? Are you ready?” Marlene clearly was feeling very pleased that she knew something that we didn’t. Mind you, she is the gossip queen. It was only to be expected.
“Yes!” I screamed. I hated it when people refused to get to the point. “For the love of Merlin, just tell us already!” I think I have anger problems. Hmm, maybe I should get help with that.
Marlene gave me her signature ‘shut up you’re ruining my fun’ look and then stood up. Clearly this was big news if she felt the need to formally announce it.
“Sirius Black,” ugh, I knew this was going to be bad, “Has got himself a long-term girlfriend!”
Silence. Dead silence. It was so thick I thought I was going to drown in it. And that’s saying something for a girl who doesn’t require Oxygen to survive.
The look on our faces must have been pretty comical because Marls burst out laughing.
“If you could see your faces!” she cackled. Yes, she cackles. It’s her thing.
It was clear that none of us knew what to do in this situation. Sirius Black has a girlfriend?! Sirius Black? As in Sirius ‘let’s shag in a broom cupboard and pretend nothing happened the next day’ Black? It’s impossible. Completely and utterly impossible! He doesn’t keep a girl any longer than Marlene can keep her mouth shut, and just to clarify, that is not very long.
“Wh-wha-whe-wh-how-wha-WHAT?!” Yes, that is me, Amara, the mermaid turned goldfish.
“I know, right! That’s the reaction I had when Sarah told me,” Sarah was Marlene’s older sister, “But her friend Susie lives in Godric’s Hollow, you know, where the Potter’s live. And she told Sarah that she had seen Black walking around with the same girl on his arm all summer. And when I asked who his girlfriend was, I was shocked. I mean full on bloody shocked! I couldn’t even talk!” Marlene took a deep breath to settle herself. Clearly not being able to talk was a tough subject for her. It was almost like talking about a fry-up to me; undeniably sad and could quite possibly result in tears.
Apparently this breath was way too long for Lily’s liking.
“WHO IS IT?!” Wow that girl’s got a set of lungs on her.
“And may I ask why you girls are so interested in my love life?”
And the silence returns. Turning around to face the open compartment door, I see the man of the moment himself, in all his big headed glory.
Even though I hate him with every fibre in my being, even I can’t deny that Sirius Black is perhaps the most handsome person to ever walk through Hogwarts’ doors. With long black hair that fell gracefully into his gorgeous grey eyes, he had a sort of casual elegance about him. Everything he did looked good. He looked even better now though.
He had clearly been working out over the summer. His arms were perfectly toned and muscly, much like his abs, which could clearly be seen through his form fitting t-shirt. The muggle look most certainly suited him.
Figuring it was best to say something rather than to just gawk at him, I opened my mouth with the obvious intention of speaking. Sadly, my brain and mouth were obviously not communicating with each other.
“Black, you-I mean-I umm… You look-what?-uhh…” I remained sitting there, with no bloody clue what to say.
My speechlessness obviously pleased him. That smug smirk appeared and sadly it only made his face more attractive. He moved from his spot in the doorway into the compartment and sat down on the seat closest to the door. He leaned back, bringing his arms under his head, apparently trying to show off his amazing body.
Just to clarify, no I do not have a crush on Sirius Black. He was waaayy too arrogant for me. Everything about him screamed ‘look at me!’ And I adamantly refused to fall for it.
“So,” the egomaniac said, “Are you gonna answer the question, or what?” He was soo loving this.
Not me, please don’t let it be me to answer him this time. I could practically feel my reputation for not giving a damn about him dying.
Lily must be a mind reader, bless her, because the next thing I know she is standing above him with her wand out, pointing at his throat. She then spoke in her ‘angry’ voice, which is so calm you immediately want to run for the hills and to not look back.
“If you do not get out of our compartment right now,” she took a deep steadying breath, or a dramatic pause, whatever you want to call it, “I will personally castrate you and hang you from the very top of the Astronomy Tower…by your thumbs” Ooh, burn!
Ah yes, another thing about us girls. We are like dragon mothers when it comes to one of our own. Lils obviously thought that I needed protecting at this moment in time, bless her.
Black, however, was clearly not sensing any danger what-so-ever, so decided to push his luck to the max.
“What have I done wrong Evans?” he asked, putting on the most innocent look he could obviously manage, “All I did was ask why you were talking about me. In fact, I believe that I deserve an apology. Let me tell you, it really hurts to be gossiped about. Nobody likes people talking about them, especially this man.” Give the man a standing ovation!
Marlene snorted in disbelief. “The ‘I’m insecure and sensitive’ crap might work on your fan club, but it does most certainly not work on us. Now if you would be so kind as to leave, you will have my everlasting thanks.”
Sirius shot her a look and reluctantly got up from his spot. As he opened the door, he turned and sent me a look that had me almost in a puddle on the floor. Okay, I may not fancy him, but I am certainly not immune from his charms. This apparently had the desired affect because the smirk came out to play once more.
“While my devilish charms might not work on you McKinnon, they clearly have some sort of effect on Brighton here.” And with that he left, shutting the compartment door behind him.
The absolute cheek of it! I honestly have no words right now, I am that angry! OH MY GOODNESS! I could feel my face contort with anger and sent the most powerful glare I could at the door, like it was its fault for letting Black in in the first place.
Lily was still fuming. “That bastard!” That’s how much she hates the Marauders, she actually swears. She never swears about anything, other than them. “It was just the shock of it! I mean, he sure as hell didn’t look like that last year. You were just surprised, is all.”
Alice, being the kind person that she is, was also quick to come to my defence. “You’ve got that right Lils. I mean, last year he was just a skinny boy in robes, now he’s more like a fit boy in shorts.” See, I’m not the only one who admits he looks gorgeous.
We all looked over at Marlene to see if she had anything to say on the situation, only to see her ogling something-or more appropriately someone outside in the corridor. Ah, there’s a shock. Not. Standing outside our door was Remus Lupin, another member of the Marauders, but definitely a lot kinder than the rest of them.
You see, Marlene has always had a thing for the geeky look, and Remus had that look down to a tee. That’s why it wasn’t that much of a surprise when she confessed her feelings for him at the beginning of fourth year. That definitely made last year entertaining to say the least.
With a knock, Remus opened our compartment door. Sparing a quick glance at Marlene, Alice and myself, he turned to Lily.
“Hello Lily. How was your summer?” he said with a smile. Remus Lupin, ever the gentleman.
Lily was quick to return with a smile of her own. “It was great thanks Remus, though it would have been nicer if someone had bothered to write to me,” she said, and then followed this remark by shooting a look over at me in the corner. Being my cheeky self, I gave a small wave back, to which she just rolled her eyes.
“Good to hear. I was wondering whether you wanted to go to the Prefects compartment now before the train starts.” Seriously, couldn’t Remus spread his manners with the rest of his group? It would make the world such a better pla- Prefect compartment?
Whoa, back up, rewind. Why would Lily need to go to the Prefect compartment, unless….
“Hey Lily, is there something you would like to share with the group?” I asked in the sweetest and most innocent voice I could muster. The look on my face might have been the exact opposite, however.
Lily adopted a look that made it seem as though she was seriously contemplating her answer.
“Do I? Hmm, I don’t know. I mean, everyone I talked to over the summer knew about me being a Prefect, and that was all you girls, so- Oh wait, I didn’t talk to you did I?” The look she sent me was enough to make me grimace. Her emerald green eyes had a cold, unforgiving look in them. Underneath though, I could see she was actually hurt.
I haven’t told the girls about my ‘special secret’, you see. And I’m not going to lie, it’s because I am too scared to. Mermaids have a pretty bad reputation in the Wizarding World. Not as bad as werewolves and vampires, granted, but still pretty bad. They see us as a sort of biological anomaly and because we are quite known in the muggle world, we are also seen as traitors. I know that werewolves and vampires are known as well, but no muggle has ever met one. Mermaids, especially the sirens in the Pacific, have actually talked to muggles and some have even done… other things with them.
Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than for them to know. It would make life so much easier but I can’t risk losing their friendship. Each year I tell them that I live with my Great Aunt Marie in the summer and she lives in a very remote location, somewhere that not even owls can find so I can’t talk to them at all. The girls figured out something were up, though when she didn’t come and pick me up at the end of the year. They were starting to get annoyed, but Lily most of all.
Lily has always taken the secret keeping the hardest, and to be honest I am surprised she hasn’t worked it out yet. I mean, there are quite a few obvious clues to what I am. For one, I avoid water at all costs. That includes rain. It’s because whenever I come into contact with water, my eyes change to a vibrant blue in colour and my hair gains a sort of white tint to it, like highlights. Another thing is how I act a bit strange during the full moon. This is because of the fact that the moon controls the tide and therefore the ocean. I just sort of lose my patience a lot quicker and I sometimes just lose myself in a goblet of water or while watching the movement of the lake.
“Lily,” I began slowly, “You know it’s not my fault. I would talk to you all every day if I could.” The only times I was ever really serious was when my secret was concerned, and now was one of these moments.
A defeated look appeared on Lily’s face and everyone in the compartment let go of the breath they had secretly been holding. Sometimes arguments between Lily and I could turn quite nasty.
“I know, I just feel like there’s something I should know, and you won’t tell me,” she mumbled. I got up from where I was sitting and gave her a quick hug.
“I know, I know. Now enough with this. Go to your meeting.” She nodded in agreement and made to leave. “Oh and Lily!”
“Yeah?” she asked, turning when she reached the compartment door, Remus just in front of her.
I could feel my smile lighting up my face. “Congrats on making Prefect!” I sang.
Her face lit up in a beam to match mine and she ran back to give me another quick hug. She then proceeded to her meeting with Remus.
The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful and before we knew it we were sitting in the Great Hall back at Hogwarts. The ceiling was the image of the night sky and the stars were twinkling cheerfully. This twinkle was only matched by the one in Professor Dumbledore’s bright blue eyes.
“To our new faces, welcome to Hogwarts! And to our old ones, welcome back.” His smiley face seemed to look at each and every one of us in under ten seconds before he continued. “Now I believe that we should eat before I give my start of term speech. If there is one thing I have learnt in my years at Hogwarts, it is that there is no point in talking to hungry teenagers. Now dig in!”
As he said this, an array of food appeared on every house table. Mashed potatoes, pizza, Shepard’s pie, sausage, fish (I try to avoid looking at this), and anything else you could think of, it was all here! Reaching for some mash I sneaked a look down the table to where the Marauders are, only to see them acting their usual idiotic selves.
Black and Potter had charmed the forks to dance the Can-Can, with the knives were giving them a rating out of ten. This greatly entertained both their fan clubs, and you could see who they were because they were so enthralled by the show, and their creepy little friend Peter Pettigrew, whom we liked to call Creeper. Okay, it was only me and Marls who called him this, but seriously, that kid had problems. Remus looked mildly amused but a bit tired at the same time.
Sighing, I returned to my food. Those boys just couldn’t grow up. I sometimes wondered if they lived in Neverland during the summer holidays. I tried to jump back into the girls’ conversation.
“…And then I said ‘who would want to go to the beach? There are fish and the sand gets in your shoes!’ And then he said ‘Yeah, but the sea is calming’. And then I said…” I sighed once again. Marls was story telling again. She really didn’t like the ocean, but she never told us why. Now I wished I hadn’t started listening.
I finished my meal in peace and eventually all of the plates in the hall disappeared. Turning to the staff table, I saw Professor Dumbledore stand up and the entire hall went silent.
“Now that we have all been fed and watered, I have a few announcements to make. First, I would like to introduce to you all our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Chambers.”
The hall gave a scattered round of applause as an old and tired looking man stood up. He looked as though he would blow over in a stiff wind. DADA should be interesting this year.
Marlene muttered quietly under her breath, echoing my thoughts, “Oh this year should be fun.” If her tone of voice wasn’t enough, her expression showed just how much sarcasm went into that comment.
“Secondly, I would like to introduce Madame Hooch, who will be our Flying Instructor and Quidditch referee.” This time a young woman stood up and gave a small bow. Oh merlin, she looked strict. Looking down the table at the Marauders, it was clear they agreed. By the looks of it, Black and Potter had realised that if they wanted to stay on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, they had better behave.
Professor Dumbledore just continued into his usual speech about behaviour and soon enough we were on our way up to our dormitories. After I had finished unpacking, I lied down on my bed and realised that I hadn’t actually found out who Black was dating. Oh well, I guess I would just have to remember to ask Marlene tomorrow.
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