‘Come on, Robbie, don’t be a wuss.’
The soft click of twigs and leaves being crushed beneath the pair of twelve-year-old boy’s feet was nearly enough to drown out the sound of the first’s excited whispers.
‘Oi! I’m not a wuss. You’re just moving too fast, slow up will ya?’ Robbie shook his shaggy brown hair and peered between the damp strands before squinting his equally brown eyes at the boy before him.
Trees surrounded them like an angry mob of brown giants and canopied like a ceiling of leaves above them so that they couldn’t see the sky. If anyone had asked the boys, they wouldn’t have known what time it was. It could’ve been the middle of the night or day, and there was no way they would have known – the dark woods were just as dark either way.
The darkness ahead of them was uncertain and unexplored; and if it was up to Robbie Thomas they would have stayed that way. Twelve years he grew up right next to the tangle of trees and darkness and didn’t even have the slightest urge to go see what was within it.
And then a certain someone befriended him and (somehow) managed to convince him to go into it. Deep into it. Someone named…
‘James, did you hear me? Slow u-‘
‘Shhh.’ James Potter turned to face Robbie with a finger over his lips, ‘Do you hear that?’ Wide eyes peering around, Robbie Thomas listened for the noise, which had alarmed his fearless friend, and immediately the timid boy had wished he hadn’t. There was, in fact, a continuation of the crackling twigs coming from behind then even though they had both stopped moving.
Someone was following them.
‘W-what do we do, James?’ He watched James ruffle the messy mop of black hair atop his spectacled face with an ivory hand before letting out a frustrated huff.
‘Have you got your wand?’ James asked, and when the boy behind him shook his head he continued, ‘well why not? You knew the risks when we left-‘
‘Y-yeah I did but, James, we’re not allowed to use magic o-outside of school.’
‘Yeah, what’s with that anyway? Sodding school’s trying to get us killed.’ He spoke as if there wasn’t a potential murderer out in the woods with them, his words were so non-chalant and calm. It was that kind of attitude that made Robbie panic even more. He crept closer to James. The rustling behind him continued.
‘James! What. Are. We. Going. To. Do? I don’t wanna get killed today, my mum’s making spaghetti tonight.’ The boy was whispering but the urgency in his words showed. James shrugged.
‘Guess we’ve gotta fight.’
‘FIGHT?! What do you mean fight? I can’t fight? I don’t even know how!’
‘Sure ya do.’ James cut in, his hands balled into fists as he punched an invisible target in front of him, ‘Just give him a lefty and a righty. The ol’ one, two! Pow, pow, pow-‘
‘James this is serious
. I-I wanna go home. I don’t wanna fight anyone.’ Robbie grabbed his friend’s outstretched fists and shoved them toward his sides and was surprised at the lack of resistance he got in response. James’ eyes were focused on something behind him.
‘Looks like we don’t have to,’ he sighed, ‘Hey, how ‘bout you control your siblings, huh?’ James shook Robbie’s hands off of his own before taking him by the shoulders and spinning him around.
Standing there was no murderer or werewolf or even an alien, in fact, it was nothing more than a little girl. Her brown hair was half up in a ponytail at the top with the hair below it hanging down past her shoulders. She had a goofy grin on her face and her dark eyes sparkled with excitement. It was Robbie’s little sister.
‘Ellie! I told you to stay home, me and James are going adventuring and it’s too dangerous for you to be here.‘
‘But mum said I could join your gang.’ The little girl, Ellie Thomas, was completely calm about her response because it was true; she was
a genius after all.
She was me.
‘I’ve told you; we’re not a bloody gang. You can’t have a gang with only two people.’ Robbie’s voice was slowly gaining volume in his growing rage.
‘That’s why you need me.’ I bounced on the balls of my feet, giggling. James groaned and rolled his eyes. ‘Oh, hey James! Find any nargles yet?’
‘Ellie, we’re not nargle hunting. We’re looking for much more real things – y’know, like leprechauns and werewolves.’ He shook his head at me and I stuck out my tongue.
‘Nargles are just as real as those other things, you guys. Where else do you think your spare socks go at night? I’ll tell you, the nargles steal them and hide them around for fun and games and stuff.’
.’ He emphasized my full name. I narrowed my ten(almost eleven)-year-old eyes at him. ‘our socks go missing because we misplace them. Either that or you and Rose go around hiding them or whatever cause you’re stupid little kids who are much less mature than Robbie and me, right Rob?’ He shot his green eyes at my brother who, in turn, shrugged and responded with a half hearted ‘yeah, fine, whatever.’ I huffed and put my hands on my hips. Robbie took that as his opportunity add his two cents.
‘Speaking of, what about Rose? Why don’t you go play with her? James isn’t the only one visiting, you know.’
‘She’s boring. I wanted to come and go adventuring with you guys and she was too boring to leave her boring book and come with me.’
‘What about the other ones?’ Rob asked impatiently.
‘Well, Al wanted to come but then Dom and Roxy convinced him to stay and help them with their wardrobe choices for Hogwarts and he ran off after them without another word. That’s gross, y’know. They’re his family, slightly distant, sure but they’re still related I mean-‘
‘I meant for you to run off and play with to leave us alone.’ My brother cut in dryly. I stared blankly at him for a good long while until he added a stern, ‘Ellie. Go home.’
‘Fine.’ I turned on my heel and began marching back through the dark, damp woods toward home. ‘But don’t come crying to me when that hungry pack of vampires dad always talks about comes after you.’ Vaguely, I could hear James’ voice excitedly yelp about how Robbie never told him there were vampires in there and I could practically hear Rob’s knees chattering together.
The house I returned to was full of people I vaguely remembered from my much earlier days and wreaked of old people. Half of them were drunk and the other half were judging the half that were drunk with their eyes and cheeky remarks to their fellow sober judgers. I didn’t think that was a very nice way to act at a party so I made sure to step on their toes as I walked past.
Most of the old people forgave me because I was little and cute, and the few who did try and say a few reprimanding words were ignored on my trek to find my dad in the tangled mess of old and decrepit.
Okay, they weren’t really that old, but considering how young and naïve I was at the time they all might as well have been father time.
‘Hey, Dad.’ I said, finally finding him and grabbing his hand.
‘Hey there, Kiddo!’ His wide smile was contagious. I smiled back but he saw right through it, my daddy was always the best at decoding people’s feelings. It was by far my favorite trait of his, something I hoped to inherit someday. He frowned, ‘What’s wrong?’
‘James and Robbie won’t let me play with them.’ I said. He chuckled. I furrowed my brow at him.
‘Hey! What’s so funny?’
He smiled down at me before he took his baseball mit-like hands, lifted my tiny frame up and set me on his knee, hugging me.
‘Well, Love, they are a lot older than you. And they’re at Hogwarts. They want to have fun Hogwarts adventures and what not. I was the exact same way when I was their age so I know.’
‘So… do you think they’ll let me play with them once I go to Hogwarts.’ He hugged me tighter and kissed my cheek. I don’t even know why he did that cause he knew I thought kisses were completely gross and slobbery and bleh. I shied away from his kiss and swatted him away with my tiny hands. ‘Stoooop.’
‘Dean, come on! The Longbottoms are finally here! This is the greatest reunion eve– oh, Hi there Ellie, dear. Forgive me, I didn’t even recognize you, you’ve gotten so big! Though, she still looks just like you.’ A woman in very fancy clothing stood at the foot of the couch and she had flaming red hair just like Lily. She turned to my dad, ‘You’d better keep a close eye on this one, I bet she’ll be reeling in all of the ickle blokes at Hogwarts.’ She winked. My dad laughed.
‘Oh, believe me, there’ll be none of that, Ginny.’ The two of them exchanged the sort of laugh that grown ups often did when they were pretending to be joking but really weren’t and the joke wasn’t very funny. I huffed.
My lack of entertainment with the joke went unnoticed and my dad waited until the laughter had completely died down before he spoke to me again, ‘Love, why don’t you go find someone else to play with? Let Robbie and James have their boy time.’
That was stupid, so I told him it was stupid. He sucked his teeth at me.
‘Just go,’ he nudged me off of his knee, ‘I heard the Scamander twins are around here somewhere, they’re about your age.’ Then he kissed me on the cheek again (which I tried my best to escape) and floated off gracefully with his long legs. I wondered if I would ever be that tall and have legs that long.
With my dad gone and everyone else in the house being strangers, I awkwardly stood against the wall and watched. To be honest, I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. I saw the other kids and I watched them watch me, but that was as close to socialization as I got for the next couple of months.
8 and a half weeks later, I, along with my brother, were on our way to Kings Cross Station. Daddy had to rush off to an important meeting at the Ministry so he left me with my brother (‘but Dad, she’s weird! I don’t wanna be around her, she’ll make the muggles stare and the wizards laugh’).
I held Robbie’s hand until we got through Platform 9 3/4, then he left me alone and ran off to James and some other kid with long blonde hair. Together they looked like they belonged in some sort of movie or something – kind of like the 3 musketeers.
I imagined Robbie, James, and Blondie running off on adventures together, wands in hand, shooting variously coloured spells at dragons and trolls. They fought their way past an army of goblins to get to a castle full of all kinds of booby traps and dead ends. Of course, the three of them made their way through (barely) and saved the pretty princess.
No, the princess wasn’t me. I imagined her as a girl with long, dark hair and long legs like my dad. Robbie picked her up and held her across his arms as the trio strolled triumphantly from the burning castle and the dragon shaking its fist at them like an old man on his lawn.
‘Hey, kid, whatcha doing?’ Someone’s voice got in the way of my daydreaming, and I turned on my heel to see a blonde boy much shorter than I with spikey, nearly-white hair that made him look like he either belonged in a punk band or a toothpick factory.
I favored the latter.
Unfortunately, the extreme lack of social contact for the past eleven years of my life sort of installed an off switch to my ability to communicate with other humans… and then activated said off switch. So basically, instead of answering the boy’s question I just sort of stared at him like a centaur in headlights.
‘Uh, Kid? Did you hear me?’ Silence. ‘You okay?’ Still nothing. Merlin, what was wrong with fetus me? Finally the kid gave up on waking me from my awkward induced trance (he tried snapping in my face, waving a hand, etc.) and called for someone named Lorcan, which was a weird name.
Another kid strolled over, this one was much taller than the short one though had identical faces and equally almost white-blonde, spikey hair. Together they looked like they definitely belonged in a toothpick factory.
Forget that punk band crap.
By the time I was able to tune back into reality, the short boy was mid-sentence with his taller doppelganger. ‘-and now she’s not saying anything. Think it’s wrackspurts? Or perhaps some variety of crumple-horned snorcack is behind this… what do you think, brother?’ His apparent ‘brother’ circled while he studied me for a moment and I followed him with my eyes.
‘Definitely the snorcacks, those buckleknockers.’ Tall said. The short one shook his head and looked down at the ground. His face looked utterly defeated, as if he’d just heard word that a relative had died or something.
‘Drat. How much time do you think she’s got?’ Shorty asked.
‘A minute, two tops.’ Tall sighed, and then the short one sighed. And then they both sighed a simultaneous sigh – all the while staring straight at me.
Let me tell you, I had never felt so uncomfortable yet completely at home in my entire life. Even to this day, all these years later, I literally cannot think of another single moment in my life when I felt the same as I did in that instance. It was an odd sort of feeling, one I doubt I can successfully put into words, but I’ll try.
You know that feeling when you put on a shirt – and it’s an ugly shirt – but you look so great in it that you don’t even care how ugly it is and wear it anyway? Like, when it’s on you can literally feel the stares of the people judging your fashion choice, but at the same time you know that they know that you look incredibly fit so you don’t’ even care? Yeah, it felt sort of like that.
‘Brother...?’ Tall started.
‘I think we’re going to have to take desperate measures on this one. Fetch the supplies.’
That was where I drew the line.
‘Woah woah woah! Supplies? What’re you gonna do? Operate on me right here on the platform like some kind of jigsaw puzzle? Cause, I admit that’d be cool but-‘
‘YOU’RE ALIVE!’ The shorter brother ran up to me and squeezed me tight around the middle. That was as tall as he was on me, and Merlin, for a short little kid he was strong as a troll.
Are trolls strong? I assume so.
‘Careful, Lysander, it may just be a trick.’ He pushed the shorter version of himself away from me and stared at me like I was a third doppelganger. ‘The snorcack could simply be mimicking life to throw us off it’s trail.’ The tall one then got real close to my face before he started talking again all suspicious like, ‘it’s pretty convenient that you just… decided to talk to us out of the blue when we mentioned our supplies. A little too convenient, don’t you think? Especially considering they were,’ He pressed his nose to my nose, ‘snorcack removing supplies.’
I held up a timid finger. ‘Are snorcacks something like humdingers?’ Tall backed up out of my personal space and smirked.
‘Worse. Much worse. Imagine humdingers but with fangs and antennae.’ As his brother spoke, Shorty returned to me and latched on to my arm. He was shaking. I gulped, ‘See, they crawl into your ear at night – without you even knowing it – and lay their little microscopic eggs in your brain.’
‘What happens when the eggs hatch?’ I asked, now shaking as much as Shorty. Tall added a chuckle to his smirk.
‘No one knows, and I pity the man who does. See, once the eggs hatch the person disappears.’ He snapped his fingers, ‘Just like that.’
‘Just like that?’
‘Just like that.’
‘Oi! What’re you empty-headed morons doing to this poor girl?’ I turned my head to see a boy with very curly brownish red hair strolling coolly up to us and suddenly the un-comfortableness came back. Not necessarily because of the boy specifically, but just because I’d just gotten used to the two boys and now there was someone else I had to get used to. He stopped right in front of me. ‘These guys bothering you?’
‘No, not really. We were talking about humdingers and snorc-‘
‘Awww, Merlin! Again?!’ Red cut in forcefully, ‘C’mon fellas, how are we supposed to make any friends at Hogwarts if you go around freaking them out with your weird mumbojumbo about flying hockel-pockers and whatnot?’ The red/brown haired boy sounded distraught, and looked it even more so with is hands all above his head and stuff.
‘No no no no, you don’t understand.’ I interjected. At first, it was pretty easy to stand up for the two blondies – especially considering they were looking like a couple of uneven statues channeling perpetual guilt. But once I’d commanded total silence and all eyes were on me, I started to choke up.
‘Erm.. I mean. I already knew about ‘em and stuff. They weren’t scaring me, honest. They were being,’ I struggled for the word for a few awkward moments before, ‘nice.’
Red looked confused, as if I’d just told him the secret to the universe in the form of a riddle. But, once he’d fully processed everything I’d just said, he just nodded his head understandingly and smiled. ‘In that case - hi, I’m Hugo. And these are-‘
‘Lorcan!’ Tall joined in looking animated as ever.
‘And I’m Lysander.’ Shorty added in after, peeking out from behind Lorcan’s back and looking equally animated. I giggled.
‘I’m Ellie, it’s nice to meet you.’ I got a few excited pats on the back and hand shakes before the loud train whistle blew signaling for the kids to say their final goodbyes and board the train.
We grabbed our trunks and pet cages (I didn’t have any pets but the twins each had a white rat and Hugo had a really big barn owl that looked constipated and angry) and ran off with the crowd toward the train… toward Hogwarts…
And the next 6 years of our lives.
‘Oi, Hugo. Do you think we’ll need pants at Hogwarts?’
A/N: Yaaay! So, what'd you think? Favorite characters? Least favorite characters? Predictions? Ideas? Tell me it alll in a lovely little comment! Thanks for reading lovelies! <3