Chapter 1 : First impressions
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The sound of the shiny red steam train’s whistle reverberated around the platform causing the already nervous first years to jump. However one first year, Emmaline Finnegan was not fazed as her older brother Seamus, a Gryffindor second year was attempting to change her long blonde hair to a bubble-gum pink while their mother gave him a disapproving look.
Over by the wall stood another frightened first year, Catalina Diggory, holding hands with her older brother, Cedric. Catalina shared the same brown eyes and curved nose as Cedric making them unmistakeably siblings. Catalina started shaking slightly as silent tears rolled down her face. Her mother bent down in front of her wiping away the tears.
“Don’t cry darling, you’ll be home again before you know it, and Cedric will be with you,” she said half-heartedly.
Cedric squeezed her hand gently then whispered into her ear, “don’t worry. I’ll see you later ok? I promise.” He let go and turned to walk towards a group of his friends in fourth year.
Kids from older years gathered around in groups on the platform talking hurriedly about things they did over the summer. One excited second year, Pansy Parkinson rushed through the crowds to find Draco Malfoy, a well-known pureblood, causing her younger sister Anemone to rush after her shouting her name.
“Pansy! Pansy... wait.”
During all the hustle and bustle a muggle born witch hurried to pass through the barrier onto the platform with her parents. Grace gasped as she took in the sight of the Hogwarts express for the first time. Just as she was about to walk closer a loud explosive sound emanated from the centre of the platform along with a black cloud of smoke and the smell of burning hair. People around that area began to laugh.
The final whistle signalling students to board the train sounded. Causing the students to give one last hug to a family member and say their goodbyes.
Catalina Diggory found an empty compartment along the train and sidled in with her trunk and cat basket. She attempted to lift her heavy trunk onto one of the overhead racks she felt the weight decrease slightly making it easier to place as another first year had decided to help her lift it. She looked over at the young girl and smiled.
“Thanks for your help. I’m Catalina Diggory.”
The other girl moved her trunk into the compartment readying herself for the lift.
“Nice to meet you Catalina, I’m Emmaline Finnegan, but you can call me Emma”.
Together they lifted Emma’s trunk onto the rack also. The girls sat down taking seats by the window so that they were facing each other.
Walking along the train dragging her trunk Grace started to get tired of looking into compartments and them being full. Her trunk had got stuck in a groove along the floor causing her to jolt to a stop. She turned around and tried to pull at her trunk but it wouldn’t budge. The girls that were sat in the compartment stared at her through the glass before speaking to one another quietly and standing up in unison. They then opened the door deciding that it was better to help her move her trunk than to sit and watch. They helped her move it into the compartment and lift into the rack.
Once Grace’s trunk was stowed away, she turned to the other girls and smiled sheepishly.
“It’s no problem.”
Grace sat down and took a deep breath.
“My name’s Grace, but I usually get called Gracie, what are your names? Do you know what Hogwarts is like? Do you have any siblings? I’m an only child myself. Do you have any pets? I’ve got a toad, called Eyelet. Ooh, what are your parents like? My mums a herpetologist, she studies amphibians and reptiles, and my dad is a History teacher…”
Grace was interrupted by a knock at the door. They all turned to see a dark green haired girl looking at them. She opened the door and smiled awkwardly.
“Sorry to interrupt, well I’m not actually but my sister has ditched me and everywhere else is full. So is it cool if I sit in here?”
She didn’t wait for a reply and dragged her trunk into the room, she looked at the girls expectantly before sighing and introducing herself, “you can call me Ann, most people do. I don’t really care what your names are but I could use a hand...”
Grace was the first one to answer, “some manners would be a good way to start, and it’s not like you gave us much time to answer, you could be a little bit more considerate…”
Anemone interrupted her for the second time spitting her words, “I didn’t realise I’d asked for your opinion mudblood.”
Catalina and Emmaline gasped in shock while Grace just looked confused.
“Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
Catalina answered before Anemone could, “it’s supposed to be a name given to someone that has muggle parents; someone like you. It’s to make them feel inferior to those who call themselves pureblood,” she turned to Anemone, “and it isn’t something you hear in polite conversation. Apologise. Or find another compartment.”
“What gives you the right to tell me what to do? And aren’t you Diggory’s daughter shouldn’t you be on my side?”
There was a pause before Catalina spoke in reply, “just because both of my parents are descended from magic it does not give either of us the right to claim that we have pure blood and that someone from muggle parents has dirty blood. So no, I do not believe I should be on your side.”
The cabin become quiet again and Anemone sat down leaving her trunk in the middle of the compartment.
Emmaline coughed before opening her mouth to speak, “Grace, my names Emmaline Finnegan, my brother Seamus is going into his second year and I have an older cousin called Fergus. I’m really nervous about which house I’m going to be in. I’m not sure if I want to be with my brother in Gryffindor or not. My dad’s a muggle and my mum’s a witch and I also have to share an owl called Muffy with my brother.”
“You remembered all the questions!”
Catalina sat forward eagerly.
“Ooh my turn. Ok so my name’s Catalina Diggory and I have an older brother called Cederic who’s in Hufflepuff,” she went quiet and blushed.
“What’s wrong with that?” asked Grace.
“Nothing, absolutely nothing. Please continue,” said Emmaline, smiling.
Catalina grinned at her response.
“My mum owns a book shop near our home and my dad works for the ministry of magic in the department for the regulation and control of magic creatures.”
Grace leaned in closer, “wow there are magical creatures? I had no idea; I did hear that there is a decent library at Hogwarts. I wonder what sort of books they have.”
Catalina continued as if there hadn’t been an interruption, “I also share an owl with my brother but I have a pet cat that’s called tinsel. You want to see?” she stood up and pulled the wicker basket from the rack and unzipped the door. A small, fluffy grey cat poked its head out of the basket looking around the compartment at the people looking at him.
“Aw, she’s so cute,” they said together.
“Well actually she’s a he. I just didn’t know that when I named him. But he seems to like it anyway so it kinda’ stuck”
“Will he bite?” Anemone asked cautiously
“No. He’s not a dog, although he might scratch you. You can stroke him if you want.”
The girls moved closer and tentatively put their hands closer to then stroke him.
The compartment door opened catching the attention of the girls. Two young lads stood at the door the one further back was tall and lanky opposed to the sandy haired one with freckles he carried an owl on his shoulder. He focused on Emmaline.
“Mum wants you to write her a letter.”
Emmaline stood up and grabbed the owl off of his shoulder.
“Seamus get out or I’ll tell mum what you really did to your owl!”
Seamus’ eyes widened.
Emmaline pulled a piece of parchment and a new quill and ink from her trunk and re-seated herself so that she could write to her mother.
“So can I talk about me then?”
Grace, Catalina and Emmaline looked at Anemone.
“Ok, I’ll take that as a yes. My full name’s Anemone Parkinson and I have an older sister called Pansy who isists on calling me Mo which I hate...”
As if on cue, Pansy opened the door to the compartment.
“Mo, what are you doing in here? I’ve been looking all over for you! Why didn’t you wait for me?”
“I didn’t wait for you because I was starting to feel sick listening to the way that you were fauning over Draco.”
“Well next time I won’t come looking for you and I won’t care if anything happens to you.”
With Pansy getting the last word and feeling smug about it, she slammed the door too hard so that the glass pane shattered. She walked away.
“That’s your sister?” Grace asked.
“We never really get on.”
Anemone looked at the floor hiding her face from view.
“It’s not something to be ashamed of. Although, I wouldn’t know...” Grace muttered
“I’m not ashamed that we fight. I like being different from her. It’s just that my mum and dad like her better because she’s into the whole dark arts thing and I’m not”.
“It’s good to be different. ‘Cause you’ve just proved that you’re not as stuck up as we all thought from your first impression,” Emmaline said, flashing a dazzling smile.
The afternoon seemed to rush past just like the never ending landscapes and scenery. The compartment light flickered on as the scene outside turned to dusk. The girls separated into different hobbies. Grace read pages of her care for magical creature’s book her mind acting as a sponge for knowledge. Catalina sat day dreaming out the window mindlessly stroking her cat. Emmaline scratched her quill into the parchment looking up in thought every so often. While Anemone fidgeted in her uncomfortable muggle clothes.
The girls turned to the door where a tall fourth year was stood.
“Erm, Mo’s sister Pansy was a little rough.” Catalina replied, looking a little embarrassed.
The boy pointed his wand at the shards of glass, “reparo,” he said and the shards of glass flew back into the window pane, making it look as though Pansy’s little tantrum had never happened. Grace gasped.
“Guys, this is my brother. Cedric, this is Em, Gracie and Mo”
Anemone shot her an angry look.
Cederic looked around at the girls and smiled warmly.
“It’s nice to meet you. Cat, can I have a word?”
“Sure. What’s up?” Catalina headed towards the door.
Cedric shut the door behind her.
“Mum wanted me to give you this when we got to school. But I probably won’t see you till tomorrow morning, so here.”
Catalina went back into the compartment holding a small box and a letter. She sat down in her seat and opened the letter careful not to rip it.
The date today it the 16th of July a day before your 10th birthday and I Know that the time that your reading this letter will be somewhere farther in the future hopefully. I also know what you are probably thinking and I don’t want to alarm you honey but yes I knew that I would die before you made it to school. I have asked your mother to keep this till you are ready and possibly at school.
Cat, I want to tell you that I’m sorry for not being the most helpful grandmother you could have had but I need you to know that I love you very dearly and I hope that you take this necklace and wear it in my memory and care for it as much as I have.
Love your grandmother
P.s Life is always full of chances; it’s what we do with them that defines who we are.
Catalina opened the box and a small pendulum in the shape of a rare creature she didn’t know the name of lay on top of a golden chain. She gasped as she took it out and held it in her palm.
“What is it?”
“It’s…it’s a necklace. From my grandmother. Can you help me?”
Emmaline stood up and carefully fastened it around her neck.
“There” she said smiling.
“I wish I knew what it meant”
“It’s a badger, there mammals that live underground and I Know that they eat worms and other insects And I think they’ve been classified as a type of weasel…”
“Ok Grace, we get it you like useless facts” Anemone huffed.
“They’re not that useless. Are they?” she turned to look at the other two.
“Isn’t a badger the animal for Hufflepuff?” Emmaline asked before anyone could answer Grace.
“Yer… looks like they think I’m going to be joining my brother”.
The compartment went silent again. As they each got lost in their own thoughts. Emmaline folded her letter and put it into an envelope and sealed it. She got up and opened the window.
The brown owl that had been perched on the overhead rack flew down to the seat.
“Take this to mum ok?”
Emmaline tied the letter securely. The bird gave her an affectionate nip in response and flew out the window.
“Wow. That was so cool. Is that what owls are for? I wish I had an owl now instead of my stupid toad” Grace frowned.
“Owls are ok. I wish I could have my own. It’s not the same when you have to share; especially when it’s with my idiot brother. The last owl he had he tried to make it change colour”. Emmaline used her hands as a demonstration “All that was left was its claws”.
“That’s not a very nice story” Catalina said.
Anemone who hadn’t been listening to the conversation stood up and lifted her trunk onto her seat.
“What are you doing?” Emmaline asked.
“Getting my school robes. There are people walking past wearing theirs”.
With that they all stood and reached into their trunks to find their school robes and then pulled them on.
The train pulled up into the station. Prefects called out to first years to hurry off of the train and to head over to Hagrid. The girls stayed close together and followed their fellow first years towards the giant of a man.
“Come along now first years”
His voice was deep and loud, momentarily deafening those closest to him. The first years looked inconspicuous standing next to him. Giving him the impression of someone to be frightened of. Hagrid led the group down the narrow path towards the boats as they came around the corner those closest to the front gasped at their first sighting of Hogwarts. The castle was all lit up inside reflecting down onto the smooth surface of the black lake.
“Four to a boat” Hagrid bellowed.
The girls hurriedly clambered into one of the boats trying to steady it, so that they didn’t fall in.
“Everybody in? ‘Right off we go then”
The boats started forwards towards the castle. The first years looked up at the huge building looming over them. Yet feelings of excitement and terror ran through them.
The group was lead up the front entrance where they gathered around before the double doors that lead into the main hall. The girls stood near the back and looked nervously at one another.
“Can I suggest something? How about we make a pact to stay friends? That way if we get put into different houses we can remain friends.”
Each of them looked at one another smiling. The double doors to the great hall opened to reveal an old looking witch in emerald green robes and a black pointed hat.