Chapter 4 : Part IV
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A gong or a large drum was sounded, sending fiery sparks into the air. All our food and drinks vanished, Elizabeth squealing because her goblet had vanished mid-drink.
"Right. Lucian, lead the way!" James declared, pushing the small boy in front of us. He sighed, shaking his head, but led our small group forward nonetheless. It occurred to me that none of the parents or other elders had spoken to us, choosing to cluster on the far end of the table. Further from the door, further from us.
"Okay. So for those who don't know we get to our House by train. On the Hogwarts Express to be specific." James said, walking backwards so he could face the others. I was between him and Dylan, having barely said a word to any other girl directly. Since I already knew the facts, I tuned out of James' speech. We waited for the largest and longest rip in the train's exterior, which covered three carriages, ran and leapt on, and kept away from the edge until we rolled out to our destination. Simple.
"Oi, Claw. Were you even listening?" Robert hissed into my ear, sending goose bumps down my spine.
"Of course I was listening." I lied.
"Then tell me exactly what we're going to do when the train arrives." James smirked from my left. Everyone was staring at me expectantly, waiting for me to stutter and fail.
"Well, when the train is just about to pass, we run and jump into the second to fourth carriage. There's less obstacles there, making it easier for beginners or small people in general. Then you stay the hell away from the edge until you're told to jump off of the train like a headless chicken!" I recounted, smiling sweetly. James returned my grin, chuckling at everyone else's confused or amused faces.
"I hadn't actually finished explaining Cassia, though thanks for reminding us that you are a Ravenclaw, and therefore saw the train pass you every day."
I froze, opting to pull a face at him and carry on walking.
"Well guys, I think Cassia just wrapped it up for us! Run, jump, headless chicken."
We followed Lucian for a little longer in quiet chatter. I listened in on James' and Dylan's conversation, waiting until Dylan left to talk to Cody to speak. The Hall was behind us, everyone speeding up so they didn't fall on the steep hill.
"What?" James asked in confusion.
"Were. You were a Ravenclaw. I'm a Gryffindor now." Not waiting for his reply, I turned to Robert and Evanna, who were discussing their favourite colours.
"No, come on, mint is so much nicer. Like, orange? That suits barely anyone!"
"Exactly why I like it. And you only like 'mint' because it's a form of green! Slytherin is not appreciated in Gryffindor."
"So that's why you're obviously flirti-"
"Cassia! What's your favourite colour?" Evanna asked, cutting Robert off. A strand of her strawberry blonde hair was being wound and unwound round her index finger. For some reason the question stumped me.
"Erm...purple. That really deep, sort of indigo shade." I answered after a few seconds, the silky colour of my school notebook coming to mind.
"Really?" Robert asked incredulously.
"Yeah, why? What's wrong with purple?"
"There's nothing wrong with it, it's just...I would have thought it'd be...well, blue!" He stammered.
"Just because I was a Ravenclaw doesn't mean blue is automatically my favourite colour! Evanna's a Gryffindor and her favourite colour isn't red, is it?" I snapped, about to turn around and find James again when Robert grabbed my arm.
"Not just because you're a Ravenclaw! In case you hadn't noticed, your dress and bracelet and earrings and eyes are all blue. There isn't a speck of any other colour on you except for silver and black!"
I looked down at myself, realising he was right. My azure blue dress still hugged my small figure, dipped in glittering sliver, a large contrast from the Gryffindor's red and gold or Melissa's pastel yellow.
"Oh...yeah. Forgot about that." I said sheepishly, crossing my arms so as to cover some of the colour that seemed to radiate off of me. Evanna smiled, changing the topic to favourite animals. Mine was a panther, while hers was a phoenix and Robert's was a tie between a cobra and a pygmy puff.
"Right, newbies! You're jumping after Dylan and Lucian; they're going to be on board to pull you up if you get stuck. It might be best if some of our Gryffindors who've done this already pair with them, helping them along. We really don't want to lose too many- we're only a class of eleven as it is!" James called from in front of me. We were standing a few metres away from the tracks, still on a slight hill, while the train was just visible speeding towards us.
"Ready?" He whispered in my ear, offering his hand. I glanced back and saw that all the 'newbies' were pairing up with the other Gryffindors.
"I've been ready my entire life." I grinned, taking his hand gratefully. My blood began to fizz in excitement, my feet bouncing up and down. Just run and jump, run and jump. I was practically a train-stalker the way I watched its journey, so the prospect shouldn't seem that bad. James tightened his grip on my hand, his body tensing in preparation. I copied him, having never actually ran head first at a moving train. A very fast moving train.
"Shit James, that thing's fast. Like, really fast. What if I don't jump high enough? What if I jump too late, or too soon? What if-"
"Shut up! It's really not that fast Cassia. And anyway, aren't you the train expert? Run, jump, headless chicken." James joked, forcing me to look at him. I smiled, feeling the blood rise to my cheeks when he smiled back. Wait, what? Blushing? I've known the guy for three hours and I'm blushing? I've only ever blushed when-
"RUN!" James shouted, pulling me along with him. Kicking into action, I realised the train was just about to past, so readied myself for the jump.
James' hand slipped out of mine mid-air. It was like the world had gone into slow motion. Until my chest collided with the side of the train, my legs still dangling over the edge.
"Shit shit shit." I panicked, feeling the rush of the wheel inches from my right calf. Then a pair of hands grabbed me by the torso, pulling me the rest of the way up.
"Thanks James. Curse these short legs!" I sighed, collapsing against the wall. He carried on staring at me with his hands spread wide, a look of concern and ludicrously on his face.
"What?" I asked, following his gaze. My right thigh was split open and bleeding across my now tattered and mud stained dress. The skin on show had been ripped, tiny splinters of bloody wood still embedded in it. The pain and adrenaline finally caught up to me and I passed out, the image of my clawed body fresh on my mind.
"Cassia? Cassia, time to wake up."
My eyelids flickered, the voice feeling like a bullet to my head. With a large groan I sat up, only to feel a larger shot of pain rush through my body.
"Whoah, not that fast." A different voice chuckled. My eyes adjusted to the darkness, resting on two figures sitting beside me. James was crouching on my right, his face a mixture of disbelieve and worry, while a pale haired man in his late 20s sat by my left.
"What the hell happened?" I coughed, staring at the bandage wrapped tightly around my torso and right leg. Both were already showing specks of crimson blood,
"You hit the side of the train, right on one of the most damaged areas. I keep on telling them to fix this ride up; it's a death trap! Your body hit a plank of splinters and jagged metal full on, and your leg got caught in the wheel when you were pulled aboard."
I stared at the man like he'd grown a third head. Judging by my eyesight, he probably had.
"On the bright side, it was pretty impressive. The jump. And you didn't realise you had any wounds until I pointed them out." James added, trying to soften my shell-shocked expression. I rolled my eyes, sitting up a bit more successfully. Everyone in the carriage was staring at me like I was an alien or a blue pygmy puff. There were a few added adults, along with most of our group of eleven. The man, having done a final sweep of his wand over me, gave us a small smile and disappeared into the ajoining compartment.
"Where's David?" I asked quietly, searching the carriage for the ex-Hufflepuff boy. James winced, searching the air around me for the right words.
"He wasn't so lucky. Caught the other wheel and...you get the picture."
I was quiet for a few seconds, digesting this. Though I'd never even spoken to the boy, it only seemed to make his death even worse.
"Is Melissa all right? They arrived together after all..."
"She's okay. Lucian and Astoria are looking after her. Anyway, thought you'd want to see the view." James quickly changed the topic, obviously not wanting to discuss the matter any further. Excitement filled my veins again. He helped me up and over to one of the shattered windows before I even got the chance to nod my head like an over-excited dog. I worked out that we were in the fifth carriage along, the city lights just specks in the distance. The fields in front of us were cut off by a dense forest that lined them, gradually coming closer. The forest framed a set of twisting hills and mountains, the highest even peaked in piles of snow.
"It's beautiful." I whispered, my hands clutching part of the windowsill that wasn't lined with remaining shards of glass.
"I know. You should see it in the morning, just when the sun is rising. The mountains reflect every colour, from the sparkling lilac to burnt orange to azure blue. And every day is completely different, so I can never get used to just how breath-taking it really is."
I glanced up at him, smiling thoughtfully. After a few seconds he looked back, startling when he saw my gaze.
"What? Too soppy?" He joked.
"No. Just soppy enough. It's just weird to see you act all mature and wise instead of..."
"An average, arrogant, ignorant, big-mouthed teen?"
"I was just going to say a Gryffindor, but that covers it as well."
He laughed, his teeth sparkling in the moonlight. We stood there for a little while longer, talking and pointing out random things, his arm trapzed over my shoulder.
I was mid-yawn when the train took a sharp turn, knocking me right into James's side.
"Shit, sorry! Lost my balance." I muttered, not quite meeting his eyes. We'd crashed into the wall, my head knocking off of his chest. But before I could step back, he put his arm around my shoulders, forcing me to slide down the wall with him.
"Oh, wait, you'll want to see this!" He exclaimed after a second, yanking me back on my feet.
"See what? James, don't pull, my leg still hurts."
He released his grip on my wrist, looking at me in worry. But my gaze was on the window. Just passing by was a village, almost deserted. Clusters of darkened shops and houses in neat rows were linked by cobbled pathways. Only three buildings were lit in the gloom- an old pub, a towering store with a battered 'W' flickering on top, and a small house, all within a street of each other.
"Hogsmeade. And that is where we're staying." I followed James's gaze across a large lake that was coming into view. Leaning out a bit further, I gasped, my fingers gripping the ledge.
It was a castle, finished with twirling turrets and open fields. The dark forest from earlier had reappeared, shadowing the edges of the magnificent structure. Trying to take in every detail was near impossible, the moon shining the wrong way. It was all shadowed in darkness, only the outline jutting across the indigo sky.
"Hogwarts." I breathed, feeling rather than hearing James laugh from beside me.
"You might want to step back a bit Cassia. You're leaning quite far out there, further than what's deemed safe."
I jerked back, realising that most of my torso had been hanging out of the window in earnest. James threw his arm around me again, this time on my left rather than my right.
"Come on. We need to get ready to jump. Don't worry- it's a lot safer leaving than entering." James chuckled, guiding me back to the second compartment. Most of the others had already moved, so I went to join Robert, Evanna and Cory, who gaped at my bandages in awe.
"You're mental Cassia. Completely and utterly deranged. I really don't know how you survived Ravenclaw for fifteen years!" Cory said, flicking his beach blonde hair out of his face.
"Still. You did better than Elizabeth, and she's been here all her life. The only difference is that she was taught at Hogwarts." Evanna added.
"Why?" I asked, turning to find the golden-haired girl she'd mentioned.
"Blood. Her Dad's one of the three Superiors here, the most imporant one actually. His name's Frost- he works with James's Dad."
I finally found her standing on the other side of the carriage. Her cheek had two thin scratches lining it, her right arm and side wrapped in bandages. She was talking animatedly to some other tanned blondes, all of them looking a high school cliche clan from one of the old muggle movies me and my Dad watched ages ago.
James suddenly reappeared, offering me his arm as a suggestion that we actually reached our destination together this time. I laughed, saying that it was probably best while waving vaguely at my still bleeding leg. Just before we left the train, I glanced back, trying to find the man who had helped me with my wounds earlier. Instead my eyes locked with Elizabeth's, her blazing green eyes full of emotions I'd rarely witnessed, especially targeted at my area. Jealousy. Loathing. Hurt.
And then I was tumbling onto my knees, rolling onto my back on the carpet of thick grass.
"Hey! No near death experience this time!" James called, walking over and offering me his hand.
"Oi! How did you land on your feet?" I wondered aloud, letting him haul me up.
"Practise makes perfect. Now turn around!" He said, bouncing with uncontained excitement. I looked at him in confusion, but turned anyway. Then I realised where we'd landed.
The grass rolled on for a little further, the strands wild and fierce. It then hit a large stone archway, which opened into a neat courtyard decorated with benches and a stone fountain in the centre which held no water. Directly opposite us, on the other side of the courtyard, was a set of stairs, leading to a wide wooden door. The castle towered above it, shadowing us from the moon's echoes.
"Welcome to Hogwarts Cassia." James whispered, nesting his hand in the small of my back.
So sorry for the wait! Please review and tell me what you think- it really does mean the world to me and I'll always reply! Thanks :D
Disclaimer- I don't own anything HP like the Hogwarts Express, Hogsmeade and Hogwarts castle, as that is all from the mind of J.K. Rowling.
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