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Chapter 1 : The Station
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A round faced boy was saying ‘Gran, I’ve lost my toad again.’
‘Oh, Neville,’ an old woman sighed , ‘how you manage anything is beyond me.’
Neville took a shaky breath to defend himself, but to no avail as his grandmother; the illustrious Augusta Longbottom, continued at a lower volume.
‘Honestly, to think my son’s son turned out like this, it’s almost shameful.’
Neville realized immediately that he’d not been meant to hear that, but Augusta’s hearing was diminishing along with what little self-esteem Neville had managed to scrounge up for today. It was, after all one of the most important days for his life; today he would be sorted into what would apparently equivalently be his family for the next seven years. He didn’t hold much hope for the tradition of making friends on the train ride to Hogwarts; School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he’d never gotten the hang of it before today after all.
‘Go on then,’ scolded Augusta ‘on the train. Now I expect weekly letters and don’t let me hear of any misbehaving. Hopefully you’ll scrape into Gryffindor, well? What are you waiting for? On the train!’
‘But Gran, Trevor’ protested Neville, and was again over road.
‘Who?! The toad will be fine, never liked it anyway. Hurry, off. I’ll see you for Christmas break and not a moment sooner.’ With a clawed and aged spotted hand Augusta roughly pushed Neville in the direction of the train and proceeded to make shooing gestures until he was out of sight amongst the other students and family members rushing about on the platform. Neville gulped in some air and peered around him at ankle height whilst dragging his heavy trunk behind him. For a second he thought he saw a flash toad near a skinny, messy black-haired fellow but with both the Weasley twins orbiting the kid he didn’t stand a chance of getting a closer look.
Neville stumbled into the train and with a huge heave yanked his trunk in after him. He bent over his trunk for a moment panting, until a loud voice from outside quite rudely set him scrambling out of the way and off looking for a compartment to hide in. Neville picked up a few new bruises as he was shoved and stamped on; he stumbled to a halt at the end of the train and fugitively peered through into the last compartment. Empty! With a grim little smile Neville struggled to get his trunk through the door way and slumped into one of the seats, what an ordeal. Catching his breath Neville rubbed at his burning eyes, he’d lost Trevor; the only friend he’d ever managed to make despite what Gran said about toads not counting. With a sniff that sounded pitiful to even his own ears, Neville dragged himself up out of the chair and pushed his trunk over to one side of the compartment; he’d never be able to put it away by himself, Neville made his way out of the compartment to find his friend.
Heart racing Neville avoided looking at the people he past, instead keeping his eyes pointed down looking for anything remotely toad-shaped. Shaking like a leaf he raised a fist to knock on the very first compartment; as the door slid open he was drowned in giggles, shouting, and whispers.
‘Well?’ snapped the girl who had opened the door, silence fell over the compartment and Neville was stabbed by the judgmental eyes of a sect of teenage girls.
Trying to breath, Neville felt like he had been punched in the stomach; they could see. They knew he was a failure as a wizard, an embarrassment to his family; they could see it all.
‘What is it, baby squib?’ the girl sneered, ‘Lost?’
Swimming through their snide laughter, stuttering a million apologies for his existence, Neville managed to purvey his message.
‘A toad? A toad? Is that got some kind of dirty meaning? Get out of here you little perv!’ shrieked the girl, soon joined by her fellows cackling.
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