Chapter 2 : The Journey
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It didn't matter how much I told myself that I would be fine, and that the school and people were bound to be fine. I just couldn't bring myself believe it.
An uneasiness washed over me the second I stepped foot on the bright, scarlet steam engine.
This was it, the moment I had been dreading. The moment I would be on my own without a single familiar person. Heading to a place that was just as unfamiliar.
Scared didn't even come close. I took a deep breath and made my way towards the back of the train. Flocks of students seemed to be thinning out the further I got. All I wanted was a quiet compartment, maybe with a couple of friendly people who could potentially show me the ropes. That wasn't something I could see happening.
I finally found an empty compartment and froze in the doorway when I looked from my trunk to the rack above the seats. How could I get it up there, let alone a little first year.
Grumbling under my breath I dragged it as far into the compartment as I could before attempting to pick it up to throw it above me. Big mistake.
Just as it was about to fall back down towards me, two hands appeared from behind me, pushing it up onto the rack.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I turned to face to owner of the arms. “Thank you.”
The boy had a friendly smile on his face. He was tall and skinny with light brown hair that fell slightly into his kind eyes. His eyes were unlike eyes I had ever seen before; really light brown with yellowish specks in them. I couldn't help but get slightly lost in them. When I finally pulled my eyes off of his I noticed the dark bags under his eyes that stood out against his pale skin. And if you looked close enough, his face was covered by light scars.
He'd definitely been through the mill by the looks of it, yet he still stood there with the kindest look on his face.
“No problem.” His voice seemed strained slightly. “Is this your first year?”
“First and last.” I shrugged trying not to make a big deal out of it as I took a seat by the window. “Is it that obvious?” My eyes were drawn back to his.
To my surprise he took a the seat opposite me, the smile on his face seemed to grow bigger. “You have this look on your face. The same look we all had the first time we were here.”
I looked at my hands as I smiled. Somehow, in the minute this boy had been in the room he'd managed to make me feel more at east than I had in days.
“I guess it really is obvious when you put it like that. It's just all so daunting.” I looked out the window at the almost empty platform. “It's so much harder to start at a school when everyone has already known each other for six years.” I found myself rambling, not even realising what I was saying until I had said it.
“You know one person. And you never know, you might even end up in Gryffindor with me.” The boy tried his best to make me feel more at ease. “And we'll definitely have a couple of classes together.”
The door to the compartment slid open causing me to jump back and hit my head on the wall behind me. The boy stifled a chuckle behind his hand as he looked towards the door.
“Remus, how was you-” The red haired girl who was at the front of the group of girls started speaking to the boy before her green eyes landed on me. She too, much like the boy I can only assume to be Remus, had a friendly smile on her face.
“I'm Juliet.” I finally realised I hadn't even introduced myself to Remus.
The red haired girl took the seat next to me, followed by three other girls who filed in behind. Now she was closer to me I got a better look at her and realised she had the brightest green eyes I had seen. Her hair hung down by her waist and she wore minimal amounts of make up which just made her look even more stunning. “I'm Lily. Head girl. This is Marlene, Alice and Dorcas.” She pointed out the rest of the girls for me.
Marlene had long, ash blonde hair that hung straight down past her shoulders. Her eyes were deep brown and were brought out by a large amount of dark eye make up. Her lips were also caked in bright pink lipstick, which seemed to be the only thing bright about her as she avoided smiling at me, giving me a small wave of the hand instead.
I didn't like her.
The girl that was pointed out as Alice,a petite girl with short brown hair, like a pixie, and big blue eyes smiled warmly at me. “It's nice to meet you.” As she spoke her voice sounded as though she was singing.
Dorcas had dark blonde, bobbed hair that framed her face perfectly bringing out her sharp facial features. Her eyes were sunken and looked almost black. It was only when I took a proper look at her that I realised her eyes were shooting between Remus and myself, obviously trying to work out if there was anything going on between us.
Then I finally realised why Marlene wasn't super friendly. Her friend had a crush on Remus.
“It's nice to meet you all too.” I said making sure to smile sweetly at Dorcas and Marlene so that they had no reason to dislike me.
In five minutes I had gone from knowing no one to knowing a few people who all seemed kind enough, and I didn't want to ruin that by making half of those people hate me already. That would be the worst way to start my year.
“It's Juliet's final year too.” Remus addressed Lily before turning towards Dorcas and aiming his next sentence towards her. “I bumped into her about two minutes before you guys walked in.”
Dorcas seemed to relax when he spoke to her and a small smile appeared on her lips. “So why start now?” She asked causing everyone to turn their attention to me.
“Well my dad got head hunted by the ministry here for a job over here so we had to move from Miami at the beginning of the summer.” I explained, not sure whether these were the sorts of people I could even reveal his job to.
My dad had made it clear to me that I would have to be careful with who I got close to. There was a war brewing and there were people who went to this school who would be fighting against my dad.
“What does your dad do?” Alice's ringing voice interrupted my thoughts.
As I looked at each person one at a time I came to the conclusion that if these people were on the other side they wouldn't have been so welcoming. “He was Head Auror in Miami. He's here to help fight against Vladamere.”
As everyone started chuckling I suddenly felt uncomfortable. A sudden thought that I had told the wrong people hit me and I knew my face dropped.
“That's not his name.” Lily chuckled one last time before her face dropped a bit. “But it's good to finally see the ministry doing something about it.”
I let out the breath I didn't realise I had been holding out when I noticed Lily's acceptance of what my dad was doing.
“I'd be careful about who you say that in front of though.” Remus warned me, his smile never wavering.
Suddenly I realised he was right. I had no idea who I should avoid and who was alright to befriend. Obviously, these people were alright and I was lucky to find them when I did; but what if I wasn't in the same house as them? Then what? What would I do then?
My worries must have been obvious on my face as Remus started talking again. “Don't worry, we'll help you out. You're not completely alone now.”
Suddenly there was a loud commotion in the corridor that interrupted everyone.
“MOONY!” A male voice shouted. There was something about it that seemed somewhat familiar but I couldn't put my finger on where I'd heard it before. “WE KNOW YOU'RE HERE SOMEWHERE!”
A slight grin appeared on Remus' face as he stood up. “I guess that's my cue.” He made his way out of the compartment and headed towards the voice.
“Who were you in there with Moony?” The voice continued, getting closer to the compartment.
Marlene's face lit up, whereas Lily's seemed to drop at the sound of the voice coming closer.
“I best go to the prefect meeting.” Lily announced, making sure to flash me a smile as she stood up and followed Remus but stopped in her tracks just outside the door. “Potter! I'm leaving. Do not follow me.” She snapped, her voice filled with venom.
How could someone who was so nice to me turn so nasty that quickly? Whoever this Potter was must have been awful.
“But Lily, my flower, you need me.” Potter said, obviously following her. “I am head boy after all.”
It was clear Lily was not happy as everyone could hear her mutter something under her breath as she stormed off with him in tow.
“I'm going to find Black.” Marlene spoke more to Alice and Dorcas than me. “It's been too long since I've seen him. See you at dinner.” She winked as she headed out the doors, bumping straight into someone. “Hey you, I think we should find somewhere a bit more private.” Her muffled voice came through the glass.
I looked between the remaining two girls, waiting for them to make an excuse to get up and leave, but it never came. Instead, the door slid open to reveal a small, mousy boy. His ears were too big for his body and his lips were too small. He had mousy brown hair and blue, beady eyes that took in the three of us sat in the compartment.
“Hey Peter.” Dorcas smiled at him, moving up so she was sat opposite me and Peter next to her. “This is Juliet.”
He greeted me with a small smile on his face before everyone gave an account of what they got up to over the summer. Peter had spent his time looking after his ill mother or spending his time with the other boys. Alice had gone on holiday with her boyfriend before he started his Auror training. And Dorcas went into detail about her trip to France with her family.
“What about you, Juliet?” Alice asked when everyone had stopped talking. “What did you do?”
I thought back to my summer and couldn't stop the smile from spreading across my face as his eyes instantly came into my mind.
Alice's eyes lit up and the smile on her face grew, “That look can only mean one thing. A boy!” She turned on her seat so the door was to her back and I was directly in front of her.
“Spill!” Dorcas demanded, leaning on her knees so she was closer to me.
It had been a long time since I had girls to talk to like this and I instantly took them up on the chance to spill the beans about the ins and outs of summer break.
I sat back and looked between the two girls, both of them waiting expectantly for me to start.
“Well how did you meet?” Alice prompted me.
I took a deep breath and looked out of the window.
I'd been exploring all day and after about an hour of trying to find my way home I finally accepted that I was lost. I had no idea where I was going. It didn't matter where I went and where I looked, everything looked the same.
Apparating was out of the question until I could find somewhere without anyone around; that's not an easy feat in the middle of London at anytime, especially when I had just been lectured about taking extra precautions around here.
Instead, I found myself wandering around hoping to find a road that was empty, even for a split second. Or an alley. Anything.
Making my way through, what I thought was, my third park, a voice came from a bench in the corner.
“You lost?” The voice was husky and somewhat amused.
I stopped in my tracks. My eyes darted to the direction of the voice and my hand shot to my waistband, fingering my wand slightly just in case. All I could see was a dark silhouette; my eyes wouldn't focus enough to make any of his features out.
I knew what was potentially out there, and the thought of running into it on my first full day in England had my heart crashing against my chest. I couldn't let myself believe that it was really that bad here.
“This is the third time you've walked through here.” The voice continued when I didn't respond.
“I'm fine.” I snapped, keeping my voice strong and my answer short. I wasn't about to let some stranger know how terrified I really was. That would only be showing weakness.
The figure stood up and started making his way towards me. “I really don't think you are fine. I've lived her my whole life.” He spoke. It seemed like he was trying to make his voice softer as not to scare me. “I'm sure I can direct you to wherever you need to go.”
“I'll be fine without your help thanks.” I replied, the twitch in my fingers was growing the closer he got to me.
He finally came close enough that the darkness was no longer obscuring my view of him. I realised he can't have been much older than me. His black her hung lazily over his eyes but he brushed it away when he came to stand in front of me. He wore dark jeans and a tight, dark top, a leather jacket thrown on over the top despite the warm evening air.
My eyes travelled up to his and I instantly got lost in them. They were soft but there was a slight twinkle in them. There was something about them that instantly made me relax, my fingers finally leaving my wand.
“You're obviously not from around here so why are you on your own?” A smirk appeared on his lips as his eyes travelled up and down my body before landing once again on my own eyes.
As I took everything about him in I couldn't find even a speck of anything sinister about him. Maybe it was his godly good looks, or the smirk that travelled all the way up to his eyes, but he seemed alright.
“Are you not going to say anything?” His smirk only grew at my lack of response.
“I just moved here yesterday.” I forced myself to speak, my voice wasn't as harsh as I'd forced it to be before. “I thought I'd spend the day exploring but can't find my way home.”
“And now you're lost.” It wasn't a question.
“Something like that.” I couldn't help but smile back at the amused guy in front of me.
He took a step towards the direction I had originally come from. “Where do you need to go?”
I knew there was no way I could tell him where I lived but a little help wouldn't go amiss. I racked my brain trying to remember a landmark that was close to my house.
“The Hope and something?” I tried, my voice made it obvious that I really wasn't sure if it was right.
“And Anchor?” He asked, getting a nod from me. “I know it, you're headed the wrong way. I'll walk you.”
He started making his way out of the park, leaving me stood there watching him go. I just couldn't get my feet to work. Was I really accepting help off a complete stranger. All the worst possible scenarios ran through my head but I forced them out just as quickly as they came.
“You coming?” He had slowed down and looked over his shoulder at me causing me to get drawn into his eyes again.
I knew I only had a moment to make my mind up. Find my own way back, apparate as soon as he went on his way, or accept his help.
He did seem genuine, and I had my wand. I was more than capable of defending myself if it was needed. My mind was made up when he flashed me yet another grin and I made my way to catch up with him.
“Good choice.” He winked at me.
“We'll see.” I didn't realise I had spoken the words out loud until he chuckled.
I folded my arm across my chest as we made our way to what I could only hope was the pub I wanted to go to. There I was, trusting someone I had only just met; I didn't even know his name.
“So what brings you here?” He asked trying to fill the silence between us.
I was silent for a minute as I thought about my answer, knowing I couldn't tell him the truth. “My dad was from here originally, so when he got the chance to come back for work it was a no brainer for him.” I recited the story that had been agreed by my parents. “He's been wanting a reason to come back for a few years but it was never the right time.”
“What does he do?”
“He's in the military.” I replied simply, receiving a nod from the attractive stranger.
The rest of the journey went pretty much like that until we got to the pub. We spoke about family, school, Miami, plans for the future. I told him all the lies that had been drilled into me when it came to dealing with a nomaj.
By the time the pub was in sight we had both slowed right down, dawdling to prolong reaching it.
“So this is it.” His voice was soft. “You sure you'll be alright from here?”
“Yeah, I know exactly where I am now. Thanks.” I smiled at him as we both stopped to face each other. I walked around him to start heading in the direction of my house.
“So how can I go about seeing you again?” He asked with a twinkle in his eye.
I couldn't stop the smile from spreading on my face as my eyes dropped to the floor for a moment. I moved my eyes to look up at him through my eyelashes.
“I guess we'll just have to see if you're lucky enough to bump into me again.” I turned my back on him.
I could hear him chuckle as I walked away.
“Do I not even get to know your name?” He shouted after me.
“Next time.” I shouted back with a smirk on my face.
I don't know what it was, but I just knew there would be a next time. It wasn't just going to end there with him.
I finished telling the girls how we met and realised I had the biggest grin on my face. Recalling the memory instantly made my heart full.
“You've got it bad!” Alice giggled.
For some reason it just made me smile wider. I knew she was right, and if she could figure it out from that it must be bad.
“When did you next see him?” Dorcas seemed fixated on me, wanted me to reveal more. It was as though she was living a love life through what I was telling her.
“He showed up at that pub two nights later.” I shrugged, a giggle escaping my lips as I thought back to seeing him again.
The door to the compartment slid open revealing Lily who immediately took a seat next to Alice.
“I cannot believe Dumbledore would make him head boy!” She cried as she put her head in her hands. “He's finally lost it!”
Alice rubbed Lily's back comfortingly. “Are you sure it's not a joke?” Her eyes moved to Peter and she raised her eyebrow.
“It's really not.” Peter's voice was weak under the stare of all four of us girls. “I was just as shocked as you.”
Alice and Dorcas both went wide eyed as they looked at Peter in shock.
The door opened again and Remus entered talking to someone over his shoulder. The other boy was half way through saying something when he followed. When his eyes landed on me he stopped what he was saying, his eyes going wide for a split second.
I couldn't believe my eyes and shut them for a moment before opening them again, revealing that he was in fact stood in the doorway. He shook his head once at me so no one else noticed before he took up a seat beside Remus, who was next to Peter.
“This is Juliet.” Remus introduced us, obviously not realising we had already met. “She's just moved here from Miami.”
“We met briefly this summer, believe it or not.” He announced causing a few raised eyebrows from the group. “She just happened to be a regular at the rock pub I went to once.”
Alice and Dorcas turned to look at me as if to see if our stories would match up so I simply nodded.
“Where's Padfoot?” James asked the group.
“Marlene dragged him off.” Dorcas giggled as she waggled her eyebrows at James.
Remus just rolled his eyes. “Of course, trust him to get his leg over before we even get to school!”
The rest of the group chuckled at this but James' eyes were still locked on me.
For the rest of the journey the boys sat there whispering amongst themselves, often throwing glances in my direction but I couldn't figure out why. It wasn't like I'd spent a lot of time with James, just the one night half way through the summer.
It wasn't long before we found ourselves all squished in a carriage, Dorcas and Alice leaving to find another group to travel to the castle with.
When the castle came into view I couldn't believe my eyes. It looked very similar to Ilvermorny, but at the same time was completely different.
We all clambered out of the carriages and James and Lily dragged me off to a Professor when we reached the castle.
“Professor McGonagall.” Lily spoke softly to get the teachers attention. “Juliet is new here, will she be going through the sorting with the first years?”
The stern looking teacher looked me up and down before smiling warmly at me. “I have been advised by the headmaster to wait until after the feast to sort Miss Bryce.”
I had no idea what the sorting would entail, but I was grateful that I wouldn't have to go through it in front of the whole school like I had previously be warned about.
“She can sit with you for now. If one of you could stay behind with her afterwards we will get her sorted then.” Professor McGonagall spoke, her Scottish accent thick.
Lily and James simply nodded and thanked her on my behalf before we made our way into the great hall.
Once again, my eyes popped open. The ceiling looked as though it was invisible, revealing a clear night sky filled with stars.
Silently following the head girl and boy we made our way to the group we had sat with on the train.
My brain was working in overdrive as I tried to take in every last detail of the hall. There was even a couple sitting just off to one side of us, engrossed in trying to eat each others faces. I cringed inwardly.
The professor we had just spoken to walked past with a trail of first years. “Black! Time and place!”
The couple broke apart revealing Marlene, the girl who had been on the train with us to begin with, and a face I would never forget. He flashed the teacher a cheeky grin before it dropped when his grey eyes landed on me.
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