Chapter 1 : September 1st, 1977
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September 1st, 1977
King’s Cross Station, London
Allow me to set the scene: there are currently seven people (and one cat) on Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters. My mother is sitting with her three closest friends outside the tea shop, gossiping happily about themselves, their husbands, and their lives in general. I’m surprised they haven’t run out of things to say already. It’s not as though they didn’t do the exact same thing this time last week.
Then there’s dad, standing at the edge of the platform and talking in his slightly stilted English with the conductor of the Hogwarts Express, Maxwell. They struck up an unexpected friendship years ago, when my older brother Felix started his first year at Hogwarts. Dad, being a Beauxbatons graduate, had been curious about this Hogwarts tradition and, rather than sit with mum and the ladies, had offered to help the conductor with his preparations for the trip. They’ve done the same every year since.
That leaves me. Eden Blanche Descoteaux: sixteen years old, blonde hair, blue eyes, and bored out of my mind. We arrived at King’s Cross at nine o’ clock this morning: two hours early for the train, as always. Nothing out of the ordinary, but this year feels especially dull as it’s the first one where I haven’t had Felix to keep me company. Now that he’s seventeen and passed his Apparition test, he’s still at home (probably just waking up from his lie-in, the twerp), and will arrive at the normal time with the rest of the students. As I am not of age, however, I must dutifully adhere to the busy social schedules of mum and dad. Okay, mostly mum.
It’s at times like these that I can appreciate my dedication to keeping a journal. Time would move much slower without it. When I started my first one back in third year, I hadn’t expected to stick to it. But even if I can only manage one entry a week (it all depends on how busy or interesting my life is at the time), I find it’s become an integral part of my life. If I don’t write, I feel lost. I blame this on my mum and my grandfather, both of them editors for the popular magical magazine, Witch Weekly. In fact my grandfather, Tobias Misslethorpe, was its original founder and as a result his name is very well-known in the wizarding world. Mum, as a writer and very fond of the fame her father had given her, was more than willing to carry on his legacy and assumed the role of editor-in-chief as soon as she left Hogwarts. Nowadays she is the go-to witch for anything fashion or gossip-worthy. I know, she sounds like one of those busybody airheads, and if I’m going to be brutally honest, that’s how I’d describe her. But she’s my mum, I love her, and I know she loves me. Besides, there are perks to being a sixteen-year-old girl with access to all the flawless beauty tips the magical world can offer.
Ah, Altheda is clawing at my robes. Better get her a treat.
She’s mad for dried frog’s liver, that one. Altheda’s my cat, by the way. I named her after one of the characters in The Fountain of Fair Fortune, which is one of the tales of Beedle the Bard. Altheda’s the witch who has her gold, her home, and her wand stolen by an evil sorcerer, and goes to the fountain in the hopes that it will lift her from powerlessness and poverty. In the end she realises that she can change her own fate by becoming a skilled potion master, so she chooses not to bathe in the fountain. I kind of thought it was appropriate for my Altheda when she showed up on our doorstep as a kitten, bedraggled and rather pitiful-looking. She was clearly an unwanted little stray, but I adored her. Mum and dad were more than happy to let me keep her, as I was due to start at Hogwarts the next year and it took away the stress of them having to choose a pet for me. She’s stuck by me ever since.
“Eden, darling, come and show the girls your new hat!” I was interrupted from my journal entry by my mother calling my name, and glanced up to see all four women watching me expectantly. I gave an obliging smile and a nod.
“Just a moment.”
Better finish up here for now. As a final statement, I would like to wish my future self all the best for her sixth year at Hogwarts. I don’t know why, but I feel like it’s going to be a good one!
Eden B. Descoteaux
I closed my journal and slid it back into my bag (after casting a sealing charm on the latch, of course), then strolled over to mum and her gal pals to show off my new piece of headwear, Altheda following at my heels.
“…found it in a gorgeous little boutique in Lyon, it rather reminds me of the style they’re due to introduce to the Beauxbatons uniform next year. Naturally that’s restricted information, you know how the French can be,” mum was saying, and she shot a secretive smile in dad’s direction. Though her tone was gently mocking, it was clear she adored him. I’ve been told by her friends that mum was a bit of a flirt when she was at school, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Despite our protests of not wanting to know, Felix and I have been subjected to hearing many recounts of the mischief mum used to get up to with the Hogwarts lads: sneaking back into the Gryffindor dormitories in the early hours of the morning, her neck covered in love bites; snogging in the back of History of Magic, completely unnoticed by the oblivious Professor Binns; getting detentions for unseemly shows of affection in public.
But all that was left behind when she met dad. He was the handsome French delegate in the Ministry’s International Liaison Office, she was the cheeky young editor looking for a new story…it was like someone had just brewed a fresh batch of love potion and they’d both dived headfirst into the cauldron. You can still see that passion in the way they look at each other, even after almost twenty years together. I always claim that it’s sickening, but secretly I love it. I’m not obsessed with romance (okay, maybe a tiny bit, but I’m a teenage girl, so curse me), but I can’t help but feel like that’s going to happen for me. That one day I’m going to look into the face of a stranger, and just know. That’s the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.
“Eden, it suits you dearly,” one of mum’s friends was saying, and I mentally shook myself out of my little reverie.
“Thanks, Mrs Clearwater,” I replied, lifting my hand to touch the delicate fleur-de-lis symbol that was attached to the charcoal grey ribbon wrapped around the crown. The hat itself was a pale yellow colour of artfully shaped velour fur felt. “Mum always knows just what to get me.” At that, my mother beamed proudly. She really was strikingly beautiful, and although I was told I looked somewhat similar, I knew that my eyes would never be as bright or my smile as dazzling as hers.
I chatted with mum and her friends for the next little while, quietly anticipating the arrivals of the other students and hoping that the first through the barrier would be someone I knew. At long last a couple of figures appeared, but unfortunately it was an anxious looking first year and his father. Not really someone I could get up and chat to. Shortly after him came a few more: a girl I vaguely recognised – a fourth-year Slytherin, maybe? – and her family, and then a larger group of more people that were familiar, but not familiar enough. I noticed a few of the parents glancing our way with mixed expressions. Most people knew my mother, be it as Hallie Misslethorpe: the Hogwarts harlot (mental groan) or as Hallie Descoteaux: editor-in-chief of Witch Weekly. Either way, the women looked torn between disapproval and envy of the little clique, and the men…well, I think the men were trying their best not to look mum’s way, in fear of the wrath their wives would bring down upon them if they did. I don’t know whether mum noticed all of this or not, but she smiled and called out greetings to a lot of them regardless, never faltering on a single name. She had a remarkable memory for names and faces, something that I needed to work hard on if I even hoped to fill her shoes someday.
Dad, now realising that the platform was beginning to fill up, shook Maxwell’s hand goodbye and came over to join us. “I ‘ope Felix is on ‘is way,” he said, his French accent still as thick as it ever was.
“I hardly think our son would even dream of missing the train, this being his final year and all,” mum said with a smile.
“I wish I could say the same for my Wilkie,” said Mrs Greengrass, heaving a sigh. Wilkie was Felix’s best friend, and quite the opposite of my brother. While Felix was diligent and generally pretty amicable, Wilkie had a very short attention span and was often quite a troublemaker. Though most of it was harmless fun, he had rubbed a number of people the wrong way. I could understand Mrs Greengrass’ concern; Wilkie could very well miss the train (be it intentionally or not). Not a disaster, of course, as he could just Apparate to Hogsmeade if he wanted, but it would be a shame to miss one of the last train trips of his academic career.
Yet another surge of people came through the barrier then, and it was with great relief that I spotted my best friend, Gil Bevan, breaking away from the masses and hurrying over to me. “Sorry, I wanted to be here sooner, but Lloyd forgot his trunk and we had to go back,” he panted, pulling me into a hug simultaneously. Then, never one to forget his manners in front of a load of parents, he turned to my company. “Hi Mr and Mrs Descoteaux, Mrs Greengrass, Mrs Clearwater, Mrs Macmillan.” There was a friendly murmur of hellos in reply, and I could see the clear approval in everyone’s faces. I’d been told countless times by mum and her friends that I’d found a wonderful friendship with Gil, and I knew that they secretly hoped we’d end up getting married and having a trillion babies. I knew why: Gil was handsome, clever, an amazing people person, and as an added bonus he came from a respectable family (even if they were Welsh). I had to disagree with them, though. Gil was my best friend and I’d never seen him romantically and I was fairly sure he’d never had those thoughts about me either – we were just too close. Ah, the trials of having a male bestie.
“Well, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a lot to catch up on,” I said politely, looping my arm through Gil’s. I did not fail to notice the undercurrent of enthusiasm as the ladies noticed this small action and I shared a quick eye-roll with dad. He, at least, was not desperate to pair off his little girl with the first boy she met.
I steered Gil away from the women and walked until we were out of earshot. “They still rooting for you to become the next Mrs Bevan?” Gil asked, a smirk touching his lips and his eyes twinkling with amusement. He picked up Altheda, who’d followed us over, and gave her an affectionate scratch behind the ears.
I groaned. “Mum keeps dropping ‘subtle’ hints, like how Wales would be a nice place to bring up kids, or suggesting complexions that would blend well with mine. Remarkably, she came to the conclusion that fair skin, with just a smattering of freckles would be simply perfect!” I smiled wryly. Gil raised a hand to his cheek, feigning disbelief.
“Why, that’s exactly what my skin looks like! And I can certainly vouch that Wales breeds some wonderful folk.”
“Yeah, blow it even further up your arse, Bevan,” I scoffed, and we both broke into a quick fit of giggles. I was so relieved that we could laugh over this. I should have known I could count on Gil’s cheeky comments to dissipate the awkwardness of mum’s attempted matchmaking. “So anyway, how did Lloyd manage to forget his trunk, of all things?” I asked once I’d caught my breath.
“He got a new broom for his birthday, and it’s really all he can think about. He’s determined to get the new Chaser spot now that Bryn’s left.” Gil was the middle child of three boys in his family, Lloyd being two years below us, and Bryn two years above. He’d graduated from Hogwarts the previous year, leaving both captaincy and a single Chaser position on the Hufflepuff Quidditch team wide open.
“D’you reckon he’ll get it?” I asked curiously. Gil and I were the two Beaters on the team, so needless to say I was very invested in knowing the talent of its players.
“Please, he’s a Bevan,” Gil said arrogantly. “‘Course he will. In fact, I’d even say he was better than Bryn. His new broom’s a Silver Arrow, which is way faster than Bryn’s Comet 180. Plus he’s smaller, so he’s got an advantage with agility.”
I smiled, satisfied with this news. I’d been discussing the vacant position with my parents over the summer, and mum and dad had almost talked me into trying out for Chaser instead of continuing as Beater. They didn’t really like the idea of me being in the frequent path of Bludgers, and I could see why. Usually Beaters were a little more bulky, and my slight build wasn’t ideal for coping with Bludger blows. But I was fast, and felt way more confident wielding a bat than having to worry about catching and throwing Quaffles all over the place. Knowing that Lloyd would be a more than worthy candidate for the position took away the pressure of me going for it.
“What I want to know is: who’s our new captain?” Gil pondered.
“No idea,” I said. “I’m hoping it’s Bennet. He seems like the toughest, and when you look at the other captains…” I trailed off, thinking of Felix, who’d been Ravenclaw’s Quidditch captain since his fifth year and thus had had a lot of time to push his team to their greatest potential. As a result, Ravenclaw won the cup last year. But no doubt James Potter, the captain of Gryffindor’s team, would take that as a personal insult and be working even harder than before. Not to mention the captain of the Slytherin team, Roland Mulciber was a nasty piece of work even off the pitch, so it looked like we were in for a year of hard competition.
“Speaking of positions,” Gil muttered, his eyes sparking with renewed hope, “please tell me I’m looking at the new girl Prefect for Hufflepuff?”
Oh, I’d forgotten about that completely! After all, that was the whole reason mum had bought me the new hat. “Feast your eyes!" I said delightedly, whipping out the badge that had been resting safely in my pocket.
“I knew it!” Gil said gleefully, scooping me into a one-armed hug and almost squashing Altheda in the process. “Maggie was absolute rubbish last year.” Gil had been the fifth-year Hufflepuff Prefect alongside Maggie Bones the previous year, and while he was obviously a brilliant choice, Maggie was quite a letdown. I know this, because I had to listen to all his complaints about how dull and lazy she was, and how he was pulling all the weight in the job. She was nothing like her sister Amelia, who’d graduated about four years ago and was now working for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry. Anyway, our Head of House Professor Sprout had clearly noticed that Maggie was lacking and given me the job instead.
Gil and I played with Altheda and continued to prattle on about being Prefects and Quidditch and OWL results for a while (I’d received mostly Es, a couple of As, and a surprising O; Gil’s marks were similar, but without the O), until something caught Gil’s eye and I looked over my shoulder to find out what it was.
Or more like who.
“It’s only ten-twenty. What is the like of James Potter doing here so early?” Gil wondered aloud, and I turned back to give him a quizzical look. “Well, he’s hardly the punctual type, don’t you think?” If I had to think about it, I supposed I agreed with him. I didn’t know much about Potter aside from his dedication to Quidditch, and the fact that he was one of the biggest rule-breakers in the school along with his seventh-year Gryffindor mates. Being in a different house and the year below him, I didn’t have anything to do with the bloke. Gil, however, was a lot like my mum, and didn’t let things like house or year groups stop him from knowing pretty much everything about everyone. He could be a great source of gossip when you wanted it (and even some times when you didn’t).
“Maybe he’s meeting someone?” I suggested.
Gil did a quick scan of the crowd, then shook his head. “None of the other Marauders are here yet—”
“The Marauders. Merlin, Eden, don’t you ever listen to anything I say? That’s what he and his friends call themselves. Anyway, I don’t see any of—unless…” he trailed off, and he smiled knowingly as his eyes landed on a pretty redhead who was standing just a few metres away from us. I at least knew about this one. She was a Muggleborn named Lily Evans, and was without a doubt one of the most talented students Hogwarts had ever seen. Everyone knew who she was, either because of her magical skill, or her kind nature, or her flawless good looks. Even I had noticed just how uniquely pretty her bright green eyes were. She could have rivalled my mother in beauty, but without the disagreeable reputation. In just about everyone’s eyes, Lily Evans was an angel.
It seemed that James Potter didn’t disagree with this popular opinion, as he sidled over to Lily with a confident smirk plastered across his features. “Miss me over the summer, Evans?” he said, his voice positively loaded with charm. Even I, standing a good five metres away, noticed my knees go slightly weaker with the strength of it. I mean, I knew Potter was attractive, but I didn’t realise he could have this effect on people.
Lily, though, appeared impervious. “Must I even dignify that with a response?”
Potter was undeterred. “I’ll admit, it was difficult not seeing that gorgeous smile every day—” Lily scowled, and he went on, “—but then I got a certain letter, with a certain badge, and my spirits most definitely improved.”
This had caught Lily’s attention very quickly. She stared him full in the face, completely gobsmacked. “You can’t be serious…” she said, horror-struck.
“I mean, it was obvious you were gonna get Head Girl, and who better to partner you than your future husband?” James smirked, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a badge that was clearly inscribed with the letters ‘HB’. “Congratulations, Evans, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of yours truly this year.” And with that, he turned on his heel and disappeared into the crowd, leaving Lily looking utterly distraught.
“I take it she’s not too fond of him, then?” I said quietly so that Lily wouldn’t hear and guess we’d been eavesdropping.
Gil sighed and shook his head at me. “I swear sometimes you live with your head in the sand, Eden. Lily Evans has hated James Potter since before we even started at Hogwarts. Weren’t you there in our fourth year when she had that massive row at him after their OWLs?”
I shrugged. “Seems I missed that.”
“Oh, it was brilliant. If there’s one person who can come close to putting Potter in his place, it’s Evans. ‘Course, he’s a bit of a knob so not much gets through, but I reckon she quite almost broke his ego that day.” I gazed at my friend in awe, not for the first time rendered impressed by his vast knowledge of other peoples’ affairs. He always managed to be in the right place at the right time, while I was somehow left in the dark about it. I made a mental note to pay more attention when he was talking in future. I didn’t realise knowing details of other peoples’ lives could be so interesting.
At ten to eleven, Gil and I separated to say goodbye to our respective families before we had to get on the train. I took Altheda into my arms then re-joined my parents, relieved to see that my brother had indeed made it out of bed. Wilkie Greengrass was nowhere to be seen, but then he might have been off saying goodbye to his mother.
“Ready for your last year, Felix?” I said.
“Probably not,” he grinned. As far as older brothers went, I had it pretty good. Felix was the most easy-going guy I knew, and though we could have our fights just like all siblings, we knew how to pick them. Back in first year when I’d been sorted into Hufflepuff instead of Ravenclaw, I was devastated that we’d been separated. However, this eventually proved to be a good thing as I never felt like he was overshadowing me, and I think he appreciated having a space where his little sister wasn’t able to see every single thing he got up to. He was also naturally clever (typical Ravenclaw), and had offered to help me countless times when I was having trouble with schoolwork. If it wasn’t for him I don’t think I’d have done nearly as well in my OWLs. I was definitely going to miss having him around next year.
The Hogwarts Express whistle sounded once; a cue for all the students to start boarding the train. Felix and I kissed our parents goodbye – once on each cheek; we were not ones to ignore our French heritage – and walked side-by-side to the nearest carriage. Maxwell and dad had already loaded my belongings onto the train hours ago (aside from Altheda, who was still in my arms), so I didn’t need to worry about anything else. Already my mind was preparing me for the year ahead, and glancing at Felix, I could tell he was thinking along the same lines.
“All set?” he asked. I could see the nervousness in his eyes as he faced the prospect of his final year at Hogwarts.
“It’s going to be great,” I replied, and with that, we stepped onto the train.
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