Chapter 2 : Train Rides
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The dark haired girl turned to see Victoire waving frantically at her, a massive grin on her face. Avolina smiled back, signaling that she’d just be a moment. She looked back at her parents.
Or, parent. Avolina’s mother hadn’t made it to the platform this year. It was Avolina’s final year at Hogwarts, and she had hoped, as she had for all those years, that this year would be different.
But it had gotten progressively worse, and this year, her mother hadn’t even come out of her room to say goodbye to Avolina. Avolina couldn’t help but feel unwanted – like something her mother feared. She often wondered that if her mother was a witch, if her boggart would be Avolina. It certainly felt that way, sometimes.
But now, it was the start of a new year, and Avolina firmly pushed those thoughts away. She had amazing friends, Victoire among them, was playing quidditch for the fifth year running, and would graduate in the top five of her class. Her father didn’t understand half of it, but he was, naturally, impossibly proud of his daughter.
And now, he was letting her go for the seventh year, knowing that after this, she’d most probably not be back at all. He hugged his daughter tightly, not wanting to see her off just yet. And, as it had become a sort of tradition, he felt obligated to mention something about her mother.
“Somewhere, deep down, she is just as proud of you as I am,” he told his daughter gently. He could see a lot of himself in his daughter – the dark eyes and hair, the sharp chin, the long neck. She was a younger, more clever, more ambitious version of himself. “She just has trouble coping with—“
“All the other things, I know,” Avolina said, smiling softly at her father. She was used to his whole spiel about her mother, if not slightly aggravated by it, but at least he tried. “Dad, you make up for it. You do.”
Her father smiled, tears shining in his eyes. He pulled her close again. “Love you, Lina,” he said, squeezing her tightly before finally letting her go. “Have a great year.”
“I will,” she said, sniffling. Saying goodbye to her mother wasn’t difficult at all, but her father was a whole other story. And seeing him tear up like that certainly wasn’t helping. Holding tightly onto her trolley, she took a few steps into the crowd, then turned back and waved one last time. Her father waved back, somewhat tearfully. Avolina wanted to run back and give him one more hug, but she knew that if she did that, the goodbye would be even harder. So she walked on.
She could see the flowing, gold hair that could only mean Victoire and headed in that direction. Victoire was waving happily at a turquoise-haired boy Avolina recognized to be Teddy Lupin as he backed into the crowd, grinning. He caught a kiss Victoire blew his way, and with one last wink, disappeared into the mass of people.
“Did you see that?” Victoire squealed excitedly as Avolina sidled up beside her. She was blushing furiously, but it only added to her beauty. “He kissed me goodbye!”
“Did he?” Avolina asked gleefully, and Victoire smiled widely, grabbing Avolina’s hands and dancing around victoriously. Victoire, in the love department, had been much more successful than Avolina, but she couldn’t hold it against her friend. Who could ignore such a radiant face, anyways?
They were soon joined by a gloomy-looking boy, who gazed at the girls’ festivities with blank eyes.
“Lewis!” Victoire cried, beckoning for him to come closer. “Teddy kissed me! Join us!”
Lewis did no such thing – such frivolities were far beneath his level of being. Sighing heavily, he waited until the pair was done with their giggling. “If you’re quite finished,” he said flatly, “the train’s leaving soon.”
Avolina rolled her eyes at their friend. “I know it’s the start of school, but you could try and be cheerful for once,” Victoire huffed angrily, helping Avolina put her trunk onto the train. Avolina, knowing Victoire was easily irritated by Lewis’ melodramatics, avoided eye contact and pet Roderick through the cage bars. Back in first year, when she had first discovered quidditch, she’d read Quidditch Through the Ages and found a new idol in Roderick Plumpton, a seeker who caught the snitch in three and a half seconds. Naturally, she had named her cat after him.
The three stepped onto the train, Victoire still telling Lewis to lighten up, and began the search for an empty compartment. They found one soon enough and settled in, Avolina by the door, Victoire with her legs curled beneath her, and Lewis staring sulkily out the window.
“There you guys are!” Tiffany Midgen, the fourth member of their party, appeared rather suddenly at the compartment door, her long, sleek braid swinging over her shoulder. She sat across from Lewis, propping her feet up on his lap. Lewis had always had a soft spot for Tiffany, but whatever Victoire had said to him had really rubbed his hairs the wrong way and he didn’t say a word.
Tiffany glanced over at Avolina and Victoire. “What’s got his panties in a wad?” Tiffany, the polar opposite of Lewis, was rarely seen without a smile, and Lewis’ moodiness barely had an effect on her.
“He’s being all ungrateful again,” Victoire said, giving Tiffany a you-know-what-I-mean sort of look. Tiffany, holding back a laugh, winked at Avolina. The two were well-used to the long-standing feud between Victoire and Lewis, but weren’t too perturbed, as it hadn’t yet managed to make that much of a dent in their friendship. What they had was almost like siblings – Victoire loved him like an older brother. And with that came the nagging and pestering too.
The compartment was silent for a while, and Avolina was thinking about what a stupid start to the year it would be if the whole train ride was like this, until Lewis finally spoke.
“So Teddy kissed you, hey?” he said quietly, his pale eyes searching Victoire’s.
Victoire smiled softly, her cheeks glowing pink again. “Yeah.”
Lewis just looked at her. He ran a hand through his light brown hair. “Sod it all,” he said, reaching over and pulling her into a hug. “I’m proud of you, Vicky.”
She smiled into his shoulder. “Thanks, Lewis.”
Tiffany and Avolina smiled secretly at each other. Avolina had known they would make up eventually, and was glad it would be sooner rather than later, as they still had the majority of the train ride ahead of them.
Now that the Lewis-Victoire feelings front was back at equilibrium, things were back to normal – they were joking, laughing and poking fun as if nothing had happened. Lewis bought some Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavoured Beans and was tossing them into Tiffany’s mouth. Victoire and Avolina were discussing the relationship statuses of fellow students (rather, Victoire was, and Avolina was listening – she could never find it in herself to be interested in that sort of thing). Soon it was time to begin putting on their robes.
“Sorry, Roderick, but we’ll be getting there soon,” Avolina said, attempting to coax the stubborn cat into his cage with a chocolate frog leg. He glared balefully at her.
“Oh, don’t give him that, he’s already fat,” Tiffany laughed, her dark eyes twinkling. She gave him a friendly poke with the tip of her finger. Roderick didn’t seem to find it amusing, turning to give her a sharp hiss.
“Here, I’ve got it,” Victoire said, gathering the struggling cat into her arms and heaving him into the cage. He spat from inside, and curled up in the corner to nurse his injured pride. “You two are too gentle.”
“Remind me again why you don’t have a cat,” Lewis said, rolling his eyes. Victoire laughed, giving him a light shove.
“Poor Rod, you’ve embarrassed him,” Avolina said, sticking her fingers through the bars to comfort the sullen cat. Victoire had no patience for cats, especially slow, apathetic cats like Roderick. Avolina, on the other hand, couldn’t have asked for a better companion. Sure, he mostly just sat around and looked surly, but to her, there was nothing like sitting by the fire with the cat on your lap to get her through her homework.
“He’ll get over it,” Victoire said brusquely, grasping the handle of her own pet’s cage, a fierce-looking eagle owl named Rasmus. Fierce, like Victoire, Avolina often thought, though she would never mention that to her. She hoped that no one thought she was fat and lazy like Roderick.
The train pulled into the station shortly after that, and the four teenagers exited the train along with the large mass of babbling students.
“I was never that tiny, was I?” Lewis said, staring at a small clump of nervous first-years. It was hard to imagine Lewis, as tall and mature as he was, ever being that miniscule.
“’Course you were, be nice,” Victoire said, tossing her hair back and going to follow the rest of the students. Lewis pulled a face and fell in behind her, leaving Tiffany and Avolina to bring up the rear.
“I wish they’d just be decent to each other,” Tiffany said, looking shockingly serious. It took Avolina a moment to realize it was because she was, for once, not smiling. “I don’t think they know that it affects us too.”
Avolina sighed, running a hand through her chin-length brown hair. She studied the pair walking a couple yards ahead; Lewis had his hands deep in his pockets, glancing at Victoire every few moments, but she looked determinedly in the other direction. “They are a bit juvenile about it,” Avolina finally settled on saying. She didn’t like to get in the middle of these kinds of things, preferring instead to be the back-up, the person they could come and vent to. Even then, she often didn’t voice her own opinion. Opinions were fickle. Opinions, she had observed, often led to people getting cross at you.
“That’s for sure,” Tiffany said. The signature smile was back – bright white teeth that weren’t particularly straight, but, as Tiffany liked to say, did the job just fine. Tiffany wasn’t conventionally beautiful, as many considered Victoire to be, but had this amazingly unique face that just made you want to figure it out. That paired with her friendly personality made her popular among the opposite gender.
Avolina and Tiffany climbed into Victoire and Lewis’ carriage, who were speaking again, much to Avolina’s relief. She couldn’t help but wonder when the next great upset would be. Would it be at the feast? Would they all be lucky enough for it to be in a few days, a week’s time? Avolina could tell already that her final year would be filled with ups and downs, joy and tears. And they weren’t even at the castle yet.
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