The Midnight Marauder

First Impressions

A Few Months Later – The First of September – Maya’s First Year at Hogwarts

Maya’s mother finished reading the official Hogwarts letter for the umpteenth time and put it down slowly, looking at her daughter. Maya grinned up at her mother from on top of her new trunk. They were sitting on platform 9 ¾ after running through the barrier – much to Maya’s delight. They were a good twenty minutes early however, and the platform was almost empty except for them. Maya’s new robes were in a small bag at her side so that it would be easy to change on the train, along with her wand – 11 ½ inches, holly, dragon heart-string.

“Remember, Maya,” her mother told her, “Do not let anyone see you transform except for the teachers mentioned here. And make sure you’re out of the castle before sundown every full-moon. And don’t forget your meeting with Dumbledore on the first Friday.”

“I won’t forget, Mum.” Maya gave her a kiss. “Can you help me put my trunk on the train?”

“Of course, dear.” The two women got the trunk into an empty carriage and Maya settled down to watch her fellow students arrive. Her mother gave her one last kiss before walking back through the barrier to find a corner to apparate home.

Maya was so excited that she was bouncing in her seat as the station began to fill with students of all ages wearing their black, Hogwarts cloaks with their parents in tow. Owls hooted to each other from their cages and one boy ran after a large toad, shouting for it to come back. Maya giggled. Friends tried to find each other within the crowd, shouting names across the heads of their peers.

“Molly! Molly! Over here! I found us a carriage.”

“Yeah, Bellatrix, my stupid brother forgot something and had to go back…”

“Hey! How was your summer?”

“You need a new cloak…”

“Can’t wait to go back…”

“Hey Remus! Remus Lupin!”

This last shout was directed at a boy with mossy-brown hair and a slightly studious air to him that was standing right underneath Maya’s window. Both Maya and Remus looked in the direction of the shout. A boy with messy black hair, lopsided glasses, and a huge grin wriggled his way through the crowd and gave Remus a high-five.

“James!” said Remus happily, his rather gloomy face brightening with a true smile. “How are you?”

“Great! Now that I finally get to go back to Hogwarts!” James lowered his voice and added, “I forgot how many rules there are back home.”

Remus laughed. “There can’t possibly be more rules than Hogwarts.”

“Well,” James said mischievously, “At Hogwarts I’m better with getting away with things. My mother is a mind-reader, honestly. She always knows when I do things.” Remus laughed again. “It’s a real problem!” James protested, laughter shining in his eyes.

Maya, listening from her slightly opened window, grinned happily. If everyone at Hogwarts was like these two, she was going to have a blast, no doubt about it.

An angry shout from the other side of the station distracted Maya from the two other boys. In fact, it distracted a good number of people and many frowning faces turned to face the hidden entrance to platform 9 ¾ . A very nasty looking woman with pitch black hair and flashing, furious eyes had just come through – shouting at a boy who could only be her son. He had not yet changed into his Hogwarts robes and was instead in jeans and a plain T-shirt. He had his head down as he pushed his cart at almost a run. To Maya, it looked as if he were trying to get away from his mother as fast as possible. Not that she could blame him. His mother’s screeches echoed around the entire station;

“…get another letter saying how you have disgraced the family I will personally walk into that castle and…!”

“Mum, shut up!” the boy suddenly shouted, rounding on her. He only looked a year older than Maya, and he sounded, to Maya’s sharp ears, close to tears. “You can’t even get into my common room, remember?”

This seemed to make his mother so angry that she was momentarily speechless.

“Oh no,” Remus muttered underneath Maya’s window.

“Get ready to grab Sirius and hide in a carriage,” James hissed.

“What are you…oh…” Remus cut himself off as James rushed into the crowd and began wiggling his way to Sirius and his mother.

“And you won’t have to look at me again until next summer so go away!” Sirius said and turned to face the train again.

“Why you little…” his mother began, only to let out an oath as James barreled into her from behind. James ran to hide in the crowd again before Sirius’ mother could get a good look at him. Remus took advantage of the distraction and dashed forward to grab the end of Sirius’ trunk. Between the two – and soon three – boys, they were able to get Sirius’ stuff into a carriage before his mother was able to find them.

“What are you looking at?” she sneered at a red-headed seventh year wearing a gold-and-red sweater. He was indeed, glaring at her. The young man shrugged and looked away. Sirius’ mother swept out of the place like a storm cloud and Maya let out a sigh of relief. She didn’t like that woman – all of Maya’s instincts had been to hiss at her – like she would an angry dog once it had chased her to the top of a fence.

The sound of the train whistle tore Maya from her musings about being chased by dogs, and made her aware of the sound of a girl speaking outside, in the hall of the train.

“…not my fault that we never speak to each other during the year. I try, Severus.”

“I know, Lily. But come on, we can talk uninterrupted on the train. Like we did last year?” It sounded as if Severus was trying hard not to beg.

“All right, we’re doing that now. Aren’t we?” said Lily – it sounded to Maya as if she were smiling. “But everything is full…”

A sweet face with auburn hair and bright green eyes looked into Maya’s carriage. Maya smiled at her, careful to not show her full teeth – the slightly pointed canines could be a bit off-putting when meeting someone for the first time.

“There’s someone in there too,” Severus hissed at her.

“Severus, she’s a first year. She won’t mind,” Lily whispered before sliding open the door and grinning at the younger girl. “Hi! I’m Lily, and this is Severus. Do you mind if we sit here? Everywhere else is full.”

“Go right ahead,” said Maya. “I don’t mind. I don’t know anyone yet.”

Lily smiled and plopped herself down across from Maya. Severus – a swallow-faced boy with long black hair – sat down next to her.

“I’m Maya Night,” said Maya. “And you guys can talk normally – I don’t mind if you pretend I’m not here. My cousins do that all the time.”

Lily laughed and Severus couldn’t help but grin. This strange little girl sitting in front of them was so bubbly and cheerful it was hard not to like her. Severus took her word for it and began talking to Lily about potions and summer and her sister. Lily continued the conversation for a few minutes but then, unable to just ignore the younger girl, she began to talk to Maya.

“So Maya,” said Lily, when Severus finally paused. “First year at Hogwarts. You nervous?”

“A little,” admitted Maya. “But mainly excited…but…well…” Maya shyly looked outside at the countryside flashing past. “I’ve never had any real friends before so…”

“Never?” asked Severus, feeling a familiar pang in his heart. He could relate to that.

“No…” said Maya. “My family lives on a farm far away from just about everything.”

“Are you pureblood?” Severus asked.

“Ugh…yeah…” said Maya.

“Then why..?” Severus asked. “Most of the old families stick together. At least that’s what other people in my house say.”

“The old families don’t like my family much…we’re…ugh…” Maya stammered to a stop and Severus looked at her curiously. Lily nudged him hard.

“Stop it,” she hissed in his ear.

“Sorry,” Severus muttered.

Maya shrugged and looked outside again. “Hogwarts is going to be different though, right?” She looked worriedly at the two older kids.

Lily went and sat next to her. “Yes,” she told her. “All of my family are Muggles and look at me now! I can do magic and brew potions and fly a broom. Hogwarts changes everything.”

“She’s right,” said Severus. “In Hogwarts you’ll find people who dream about the same things as you. And, you know, friends that’ll watch your back…” Severus trailed off. Lily and Maya were too busy speaking to each other to notice his sudden pensiveness.

“…absolutely love it. I promise you,” Lily was telling Maya. “And you have two friends now.”

“Really?” Maya said.

“Really,” insisted Lily. “Right Severus?”

“Yeah,” said Severus, shaking himself out of his mood. “We’ll look out for you, Maya. The whole point of Hogwarts is not being alone anymore.”

To his complete surprise, Maya jumped up and gave Severus a hug. He stiffened, looking shocked. Maya stepped back, looking embarrassed.

“Sorry,” she muttered. “We hug a lot in my family.”

“It’s fine,” he said, looking even more embarrassed than her.

Lily shook her head and gave Maya a huge hug. Maya snuggled up to her – she could almost hear herself purring.

The sound of a woman pushing a trolley full of sweets broke the two girls apart and Severus, glad to have an excuse to change the mood, ran to buy several chocolate frogs. Maya bravely bought a large bag of Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans and Lily spent several minutes examining all the candy before choosing some pumpkin pasties.

“You do that every time,” said Severus.

“Do what?” asked Lily.

“Take forever to choose what type of candy you want,” said Severus.

“It’s important to get my money’s worth,” said Lily.

Severus’ reply was cut short by Maya making a choking noise and spiting her Every Flavored Bean into her hand.

“I don’t know what that was but it wasn’t good,” she said faintly once she was done coughing.

Severus and Lily both laughed and reached out to help Maya with her candy. About an hour later, all but the Every Flavored Beans had been finished, it was starting to get dark, and Maya returned from the bathroom in her new Hogwarts’ robes – minus her tie of course.

“How do I look?” she asked, twirling around in front of Lily.

“Great!” Lily told her.

“Just wait until you get your house colors and it’s not just black and white,” said Severus. “Any idea what house you’ll get?”

“No,” said Maya. She sat down with a plop on her seat. “I don’t feel ambitious enough for Slytherin, I don’t think I’m smart enough for Ravenclaw, Brave enough for Gryffindor seems impossible but Hufflepuff’s are super loyal and I’ve never had friends so how would I know if I’m loyal?”

“Put that way it does sound impossible to ever get in any of the houses,” admitted Lily. “But we got sorted okay.”

“Some kids sit there for a while but they always get a house,” Severus assured her.

“Er…sit there…?” Maya asked. Severus began to explain the Sorting Hat and soon the two second years were filling in their new friend on the secret doors, ghosts to avoid, how to get to classes on time…Maya was soon so nervous and excited and confused that she wished she could just transform into a cat and hide in Lily’s lap. Of course…Maya glanced outside at the rising moon. It was a crescent moon on the wane tonight. She could transform into a cat but that would do nobody any good. She wasn’t supposed to tell. Never, ever…although…Maya looked at Lily and Severus and smiled. She didn’t think that her new friends would mind that she was a werecat. Lily would think it was adorable and Severus would think it was interesting. The train began to slow and Severus’ face lit up.

“We’re here,” he whispered happily.

“Finally,” said Maya.

Lily gave her a hug as a huge man called, “First ‘ears over here! First years!”

“You’ll do great, Maya,” Lily assured her.

“See you later,” Maya said back. “See ya, Sev!”

Severus nodded at her, a small grin on his face.

“I like her,” Lily whispered to him.

“She’s kind of like you, isn’t she?” said Severus. And then the two young wizards from different houses joined their House mates on opposite sides of the crowd. Just like last year, they never did speak to each other when older students were around.

Maya was soon standing in the middle of the Great Hall, surrounded by the other first years. The lights from the floating candles cast a strange, magical glow on the entire surreal scene. The hat was singing something about Houses and loyalty and new opportunities but she was too nervous to pay much attention. She caught the eye of the friendly giant that had led the boat ride to the castle – he gave her a wink – and then tried to find Lily and Severus in the crowd. She didn’t see them at first, but she did see the boys from the train station. James, Remus and Sirius – along with a slightly chubby kid she hadn’t seen earlier – were all seated at the Gryffindor table. As she looked at them, Remus looked up and they made eye contact. Instantly, the cat in her fluffed out its tail and hissed quietly. Maya took a step back and stumbled into a boy with short black hair. He glared at her.

“Sorry,” she whispered.

“Relax,” he told her. Despite the glare, his voice wasn’t unpleasant. “My cousins say this is easy.”

Maya nodded. He didn’t know it was Remus looking at her that had made her step back, he thought she was nervous about the sorting. Maya shook herself as the Head of Gryffindor, Professor McGonagall, began to call students to the front of the room. The boy beside her was second; “Black, Regulus.” He gulped, suddenly nervous despite his words to Maya. Out of the corner of her eye, Maya saw Sirius sit up straight. They look alike, Maya thought. The hat was put on his head and there was silence far longer than when the first person had tried on the hat. Maya saw Regulus clutch the edge of the stool and her sharp eyes saw something that no one else ever saw – saw him shake his head, just barely, arguing with the hat.

“Slytherin!” the hat announced, and the table to Maya’s far right began to cheer. Maya looked at it and saw Severus beaming at the newest member of his House. But to her far left…Sirius looked down at the table dejectedly and James put a comforting hand on his back. Sirius shook it off and suddenly looked angry and began to mutter to his friends. Maya lost interest – even her hearing couldn’t pick up what they were saying – and she turned her attention back to the sorting. She waited impatiently for her turn and was almost vibrating with excitement and nerves when, “Night, Maya” was finally called.

Maya walked to the stool and watched as the hat was lowered onto her head.

“Hello Ms. Night,” a small voice whispered in her ear. “It has been a long time since I have sorted one of your family. A very long time…you’re brave to come when your family is afraid of how people may react to you. A bit mischievous – especially when the moon is full, are you not?” Maya grinned sheepishly. “I thought so,” the hat said, amused. “There is really only one place for you…”

“Gryffindor!” he shouted to the rest of the room.

The table that was covered in red and gold erupted with cheers and Maya happily skipped to join her new house. Lily came to give her a hug and Remus and his friends all shook her hand. Maya’s eyes lingered on Remus’ for a moment more, yet her smile did not falter. She was too happy to worry why this strange, shy looking boy was making her animal instincts fidgety.

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