Chapter 3 : A Sticky Note
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The house my parents got here was a lot smaller than what we had in Massachusetts, but I guess itís because I will be at school most of the year and Tom doesnít live with us anymore. And also because England is way smaller than America, obviously.
We - as in Irene and Dan, not me - decided to get a place in England, right near London for my dad so that he could get a job there. I donít really know how my mom is going to commute to Scotland, but they said that itís not really that far away, it just seems that far because itís another country, when actually itís the size of a small state. And so I didnít really question it, as I didnít want to think about how many countries and states are in between my friends and me right now.
Homes and apartments (what they call flats) are closer together and taller. The have little patches of grass instead of big landscapes. Us Americans like our space, like our big yards, like our open floorplans. English people donít care about that as much, which is really interesting to me.
Iíve been here for a couple weeks now, just waiting for school to start up already (September really was late to be starting school, as Ilvermorny started mid-to-late August). It has been really interesting (and somewhat scary) to walk around town and explore the shops and parks and places London has to offer. Itís kind of fun to be anonymous here, but also get treated very well because Iím noticeably American. Whenever I go home to my new place, itís fun to discover little things about this home. Iíve moved some of my essentials into the little room I got, my parents Transfigured the desk that will be in there when I leave into a bed for me.
When I leave, Iím supposed to take the train at a station called Kingís Cross. I have already been acquainted with No-Maj transportation (seeing as I couldnít take an American car to England, now could I?), which was nice. The only thing is, whenever I would walk around Kingís Cross, I could never spot Platform 9ĺ, which really concerned me, since I need to get there to get to my new school.
Speaking of, what kind of a name is Hogwarts? Like really, could the founders have not picked more of a repulsing name? Ah well, itís really old and probably a nice campus, so who was I to judge? It still made me feel weird, going to a school named after some pig growths.
Whenever I tried to look up Hogwarts, I couldnít find much about it. Itís really concealed, and even with a Wizard browser, there werenít any images or info. It made me think that I was going to some creepy crime school, where no one leaves once you go there. I obviously doubt thatís going to happen, but you know, whenever you try to find something and itís hidden, it makes you question it. Or at least for me it did, since I ask questions all the time. I guess Ilvermorny is like that too, but at least we have a home page for Wizarding parents to look at.
My mom went straight into work, had to get trained and familiar with their premises and all. It didnít take long, but sometimes sheíd be there for a lot longer than I would expect. I didnít really know the name of where she was working and Dad said it wasnít his place to tell me, whatever the hell that meant.
Speaking of Dad, he found a great place to work, which was for this newspaper called the Daily Prophet, which apparently is the biggest source of news for Wizards. Because Dad is a No-Maj, but is exposed to Majs like Mom and I, he is allowed this type of No-Maj work Visa. It basically means he can work for certain Maj jobs if he wanted to.
I was super proud of him when he told us, because even though he has a permit to, the Wizarding World is careful to bring in No-Majs for their work. Dad gets to edit for the No-Maj (or what I found to be called ďMuggleĒ here) section of the Daily Prophet in where there is a spread that goes over the current events in the ďMuggleĒ world to keep Wizards informed on whatís going on, if they arenít a part of it themselves.
It took them a while to adopt this, itís only been part of their layout for about five years now, a lot of prejudiced Purebloods tried to pay the Daily Prophet to not publish things that have to do with No-Majs. Some even withdrew from their sponsorship to the newspaper, hence why there are more ads than in the past.
I didnít even think about how many people are still obsessed over blood status. I know for fact that the generation Iím in is not as much (which is great), but those of my grandparentsí generation are still in their ways. I, for one, think itís a great addition to the newspaper, because we should always be educated about the things around us, even if itís not relevant to us personally.
The man of the hour shows up, tells me that Mom wonít be home for a pretty long time and hands me a letter. It looked familiar to the one I got already, saying I was accepted to Hogwarts and included a train ticket to school and the list of the supplies I will be needing. This one though, seemed a lot lighter, as if someone sent it as an afterthought to the very heavy letter preceding it. I broke open the seal and started to read.
Dear Miss Moretti,
I forgot to mention in the last letter some things you will be wanting to know for this upcoming transfer of yours to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
First, in order to get onto Platform 9ĺ at Kingís Cross Station, you need to find the pillar that is marked 9 and 10. It may seem very ridiculous, but once you find that, you will need to run (yes, run) into the pillar.
What the fuck? I think, this lady is crazy. I wonder how old she is, thinking Iím going to run into a wall in public. I keep reading anyway to see if there was any answer.
Yes, this is the way to get into the Hogwarts Station to get onto the Hogwarts Express that will take you here. It may seem very outdated compared to your mode of transportation to Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but I assure you that it is what works for us. We have wards put up so that any Muggle that is passing by will not notice the wall, and if they do end up looking at it or someone running toward it, they immediately have an urge to run off to a forgotten appointment of some kind. Itís the same type of wards as most schools have to make sure no Muggle is exposed to us.
Secondly, I didnít mention to where to get your supplies that are required for the school year. I assume you already have a wand, Potions cauldron, and a few other supplies from your past school. We have had transfers in the past, so I understand that the supply list I have given you isnít as relevant to you. You will need to pick up some Hogwarts robes, as Ilvermornyís will not be needed.
Fortunately for you, I am having the Seventh Year Head Girl, Anusha Reddy of Ravenclaw come meet you at the Leaky Cauldron (address below) to help you get to Diagon Alley and fetch your supplies. She will show you how to make your way around there, as well as answer any questions you have about Hogwarts. Anusha is a very bright girl who I believe can get along with anyone and doesnít mind an excursion for school early in the season.
And lastly, I need to have a meeting with you here at Hogwarts before school is in session. This is a procedure that needs to be done so that you can be put into the correct classes for the term, as well as have a small tour of the Castle. It will take a couple hours total to get everything figured out. You have the choice to bring your parents or guardians along with you.
There is a section at the bottom of this parchment that you can fill out for both appointments with Miss Reddy for school shopping and myself for class placements. Miss Reddy will also take you to Hogwarts for our appointment. The end section is enchanted, so whatever you fill out will disappear and be written down on a copy on my desk, no need to mail a response.
Thank you, and I look forward to meeting you and showing you your new home here at Hogwarts.
Headmistress Minerva McGonagall
I read the parchment again and my mood lifted significantly since I havenít talked to many people practically at all today. I was quick to fill out the section for what days Iím available, checked some boxes here and there, and watched the ink from my pen disappear like magic (ha ha). I quickly added a thank you! with a little smiley face and gathered my things to go to town to get a coffee and a new book. The closer it came to being September, the more it became real, going to a new school and being in a new country.
The new bookstore that Iíve found (which I discovered is actually very very old) has a nice little coffeeshop inside of it, so I killed two birds with one stone. As I wait for my coffee order, I look around at the bar. Itís very homey, I would say, with all the worn-in couches and low tables. There are legitimate tables with chairs to do any type of paperwork, which is convenient too. Itís not like those modern cafes where almost every table is up high and there are TVs elevated on the walls with young baristas that are obsessed with acting sickly sweet to get a tip.
No, this place is meant for locals, you can just tell. It has the look of being run-down without actually being run-down. So thereís a feeling itís kept very nice, despite it being years old. The coffeeshop is in the corner of the bookstore, with welcoming windows and dimly-lit lamps on tables. When it gets dark, the cafe is bathed in a golden shade that is perfect on the eyes for reading. There were a couple people dotted here and there with books, laptops, dates, etc. the low humming noise of people quietly chatting amongst themselves, the perfect kind of white noise for a read.
I just love it. Itís only my third or fourth time here since I found it a week ago. It makes me miss The Cozy Leaf, the local coffeeshop I went to back in Massachusetts on a regular basis. Except they didnít have books, which is something I loved about this one Iím at now.
I was just sitting down with my coffee mug in hand about to read a book I picked up earlier about Englandís history, when I forgot to grab a stir stick for my drink. I leave my mug and book at the table to fetch one and when I approach my table again, there is a small little pink sticky note by my mug that says ďMind if I join you?Ē
Looking down at it, I frown, and casually gaze around to see if there was anyone that was expecting me to see them. Growing up in the city on the East Coast, I know what to do with creepers. But everyone is engrossed in what they have been doing the past whatever minutes theyíve been here. I look down again, and notice there was an arrow to flip it over - as if the writer knew what my actions would be - and it reads ďIím the one wearing a green shirt in the cornerĒ so of course, my curiosity got the best of me and I search for someone in a green shirt in one of the few corners of the place.
Right away I make eye contact with a boy that looked to be my age, holding a mug and a book in his hands and a smirk on his face. It took me a second to figure out how he had managed to put a note on my table when he was a good fifty feet from me. I quickly sized him up, debating on whether or not to let a stranger talk to me. Knowing I am in a public space, I sit down at my table facing him and give him a nod, trying to smile.
His face breaks instantly to a grin and he seems less threatening and cocky than he was seconds before. He gets up from his seat and joins me across my table. I realize itís a good thing I chose to sit at a normal table this time and not a loveseat, as it wouldíve been really awkward if someone came to sit right next to me.
ďHi, my name is James, what are you reading there?Ē he asks me, putting his drink and book down on the mahogany. James makes to shake my hand and I look at it for a second and then he says, ďdo I sound too eager?Ē Heís still smiling. I notice his smile is full of really white, straight teeth and his dark hazel eyes slightly squinting as heís smiling.
ďUh, kinda? Not sure yet,Ē I manage to say. As much as I love talking to people, this notion caught me off guard since I've been so used to discovering town on my own for the past couple weeks.
I have been asked for my number cleverly by boys during this time, but I just say I'm visiting and don't have long-time plans to be here. They usually understand, but I don't like upsetting people. Itís kind of nice to get the attention here, though, as American boys revert to being pretty perverse in their pursuits and I can easily shut them down with a witty remark.
I made a vow at the beginning of the summer to not really worry about boys for now. That was before I got news that Iím moving to England and this dark brown haired boy is sitting in front of me.
I realize his hand is still gestured toward me and has been like that for about ten seconds, so I grab it and shake his hand. Itís really warm, which is probably from the hot drink he was holding. Then I register we havenít released our hands for about five seconds later than a normal handshake.
I let go.
He breathes a laugh and the hand he shook mine with goes straight to the back of his head and he ruffles his hair with it, making it stick straight up.
I kind of chuckle and he notices and tries a failed attempt at smoothing it down. Now itís like a half-up-half-down kind of mess. And Iím smiling at it.
ďSo, uh, whatís your name then? I told you mine,Ē we make eye contact again and I bit my lip as I smile, he ruffles his hair again, and Iím noticing I do that lip-bite thing when Iím caught off guard or nervous, and stop to just smile like a regular human being. ďIím Nicolette, but some people call me Nic. You can choose.Ē
He smiles again, holds his mug with two hands (my guess is to not reach up to his hair) and says, ďAh, I like that I have options.Ē I notice how deep his voice is and the fact that his eyes are practically scanning my face, as if reading a synopsis about me like Iím on a bookshelf. ďIíll go with. . . Nicolette, I guess.Ē His voice goes to a whisper. ďDo you mind if I switch back and forth?Ē He leans in towards me, as if telling me a secret with a long-time friend.
I laugh and say sure, and he says Iím American, and I say yes I am, and I realize I never told him what Iím reading and I say I wanted to read up on English history since I just moved here. He says he could tell, and that it is very smart of me to do so.
And we have conversations about history and current events in both England and America. I tell him about the latest political election and my thoughts on it, and he gives me his opinion on what England is trying to do as of late, voting for budgeting in schools and whatnot. He tells me he voted in favor of the schools not cutting certain programs.
It went on like that, for what seemed to be endless, and what I will later tonight find out we were at that table for just over three hours. I donít talk to people other than my circle of friends for nearly that long. This James boy - he and I apparently can have a conversation that flows so smoothly I didnít notice any seams in it. We went from topics from our cultures and the differences in them to our favorite foods.
A plus was that he is immensely good looking, what with his messy hair, just-barely tanned skin, and glasses that he wore with such ease he makes glasses look like a really nice accessory. I also took note on that he looked as if he wanted to show people he put effort into what he wears on a day to day basis, which I find very admirable (and attractive).
Not many boys under the age of twenty-five will care what they look like to the public. I found that his green Henley made his hazel eyes look more hazelly and less brown...y.
When he went to the bathroom I watched as when he got up just how tall he really was and the fact that those slim, navy, straight-down pants looked very nice on him.
After noticing his attire, I was more and more aware of how I looked, what I was wearing that day. I didnít put any effort into my sort-of wavy dark hair, it just kind of laid there, on my back. I did like my cropped turtleneck sweater that wasnít exactly maroon or purple. And I was glad that I had taken the time to put on my minimal makeup the No-Maj way (itís very therapeutic, okay), and wear my favorite high-waisted jeans, since they are still in style.
Londonís weather was way different than in the States. As it was warm, it didnít get higher than 80 degrees fahrenheit, and there were usually clouds and a breeze to offset the temperature.
So I was able to bring out my autumn clothes instead of the same set of shorts and tank combos that Iíve cycled through this summer. The air conditioning is always blasted indoors I noticed, and James said thatís due to people who live here are not used to how warm it has been recently, they are adapted to the cold days.
I told him America is super hot in the summer and how high it can get in certain states. He was awed and we conversed more about the differences we share, but then went on to the similarities our countries share.
So it was quite nice, being able to talk to someone as if youíre more than acquaintances, like youíre picking up where you left off with them before when you had hung out last. I know I will never see him again, except maybe over Christmas when Iím back in town, because Iím going to Hogwarts really soon, so I take this encounter as a grain of salt.
Of course my hopes are up a little bit, seeing as how great it went, but I had to remind my feelings that Iím going to a new school and I donít need a long-distance relationship/friendship right now. There was also no speak of magic shadowed in our interaction either, although he did say he is going to attend a boarding school somewhere in a different country. That could mean anything though, probably like Spain for all I know.
I think James thought I was visiting as well, as he didn't try to ask my number or see if he could see me again. It was like we silently knew this was a one-time thing. And I am okay with that.
Iím planning on going back to the States once Iím done with school though, so why worry about a boy in London?
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