So, there I was. Sitting on my bed with my legs folded and arms propped up behind me, staring at the full-length mirror on my wall. Really, this should all be perfunctory. I should be shrugging off all this nervousness that was supposed to have dissipated five years ago and hauling my arse out the door and into life.
But, no. Instead I'm sitting here unmoving and completely apprehensive about the fact that… goddamn, I actually have to go to school.
Yeah, no. Not a truant. Not mentally deficient. Not even a typical first year. I'm just—
“Hello? Cecilia, you're going to be late!” My hands shake me out of my dazed stupor, my eyes peer at me, and my voice calls out loudly, “Will you please stop zoning out and get out of the cab? You’re going to miss the train!”
I pull myself out of my thoughts and back into reality.
The taxi had pulled up to King's Cross Station and my twin sister was trying to push me out of the back seat. Unsuccessfully, as I might add.
“Alright, alright, Sonata! Will you just chill—and stop pushing me, blimey!” I reply hastily, shielding myself with my arms. “I know you're all bloody excited to get to Fu Shu, but cut me some slack! You have, what, over an hour to get there?”
Sonata goes to the Fu Shu School of Magick and Arts all the way in China where my dad works for the Ministry of Magic in the Auror Department. Pretty far away from our quaint home in London, but my mum insisted. Keep the Chinese tradition and whatnot.
“You should be the one all excited, Cecilia!” she says animatedly. “It’s going to be your first day at Hogwarts!”
She flashes me such a brilliant and over-eager smile that I actually have to hold back a laugh. Even though we look identical, sometimes it still baffles me how she can make my face look so insanely gleeful.
I just shrug. “I’m inwardly excited,” I reply blithely. “Plus, I still have a few minutes before the train leaves—”
“All the more reason for you to get on and socialize!” She reaches over me to pull on the door handle and pushes me out of the cab. “Go! Skedaddle!”
“Got your ticket? Here’s your trunk!”
“Hey, you can’t just—”
“And the rest of your bags!”
“Oh, and you forgot your jacket! Alright, got your stuff? Okay, love you, bye!” And with that, my dear (loving?) sister slams the cab door and they drive off, leaving me by the roadside with my trunk half-off the curb and my hoodie thrown over my head.
Blimey, it’s incredible how much I let her off for.
I pick up my trunk and scattered bags off the floor and slowly turn to face King’s Cross Station. “Well… it’s now or never,” I breathe out as I begin making my way towards the platform.
And that’s surprisingly easy to do considering that I’m an unassisted, somewhat small fifteen-year-old girl with sub-par arm strength. Well, easy enough until I get to…
The bloody stairs.
“Blimey,” I gasp out as I heave my trunk up the steps. “I knew I should have paid attention during my Muggle Studies lessons! Then at least I’d know how to use the bloody elvalator—wait… eletavor…?” I pause. “OH, ELEVATOR. Bloody hell.”
I let out a loud groan as I finally drag my trunk over the final step of the stairs. After pulling it further onto the center of the platform, I prop my trunk up on its side and lean over it to catch my breath.
“I finally made it…”
“YOUNG MAN, STEP AWAY FROM THE MOVING TRAIN.”
My ears barely register the loud whistle blowing from somewhere to my right and before I know it, the bellowing stationmaster shoves briskly past me on his way down the platform and completely knocks me over.
My arms flail in my complete loss of balance and I shut my eyes tight… but instead of a brilliant crash to the ground, I feel a pair of hands grab my shoulders and my back collides into someone behind me. There’s a soft grunt as the boy stumbles back a few steps from the impact.
“Whoa—whoa, you okay there?”
I let out a yelp of surprise and his grip on my shoulders tightens as he steadies me. “O-oh, no,” I stammer out. “Thanks, I’m fine…”
My words trail off as I tilt my head up to look at the boy. I don’t know what I expected. Some average joe? Some random, exceedingly average middle-aged Muggle man? Average McAverage? Probably. What I didn’t expect was to find myself inexplicably in the arms of a boy with artfully tousled hair and a mesmerizing pair of grey eyes.
Two thoughts strike me at this point: 1) What the hell, people actually have grey eyes? and 2) Don’t supermodels have better modes of transportation than the train?
They were justified thoughts. Trust me.
“Fine, huh?” The boy grins at me. “From the dazed look on your face, I’d beg to differ.”
Dazed look…? Wait—BLOODY HELL, how long was I staring at him?!
“S-sorry!” I blurt out, pushing away from him in embarrassment. “I was just—I mean, you startled me. I wasn’t trying to stare—I mean…!” I take a deep breath. “Thank you,” I finally get out in a steady voice. “That’s what I’m trying to say. For catching me, thank you.”
I wince as I realize I must sound like a such bonafide dork right now. Note to self: thinking before talking is possibly, probably a very good idea.
But instead of giving me a strange look, the boy just grins even wider at my stuttering, for some reason looking like he just ran into an old friend. “I’ll consider myself thanked,” he says, jokingly reaching down to shake my hand. “You’re very welcome, Cecilia Vance.”
The sound of my name on his lips gives me a sudden jolt. “Do… I know you?”
“Why, do you think we have?”
“No, I… wait—what?”
The boy holds my gaze for a moment before letting out a snort of laughter. “Nah, I’m totally playing with you,” he teases. “Your name’s written on your trunk.” He gestures towards the letters imprinted very clearly on my suitcase.
My face reddens yet again in embarrassment. Smooth move, Cecilia.
“Right,” I mutter to myself as I bend down to pick my fallen trunk back up. “Anyway, thanks again for helping me and everything. You probably have your own train to catch, right?”
He raises an eyebrow as he watches me heft my luggage in my arms. “Actually you’d be surprised. You sure you don’t need any help?”
“Yeah, I’m sure,” I say firmly. I give the boy a wave and a smile before nodding towards the platform. “Anyway, thanks aga—aaaaahhhaawwaow!”
The moment I take a step forward, a sharp pain shoots through my leg and I flop to the ground in shock. Wait, that bloody stationmaster did this much damage to me?! I DEMAND COMPENSATION.
The boy immediately kneels down in concern. “You alright?”
“I think I just sprained my ankle or something. Go on, catch your train!” I say hastily, trying to keep the pain from showing on my face. “I’m fine, really!”
He blinks at my answer and then lets out a short laugh. “If you call this fine, then I’m just dying to see how you look when you’re actually fine.” He grins at me. “Plus, I have plenty of time before my train. Well, I mean, the Hogwarts Express does leave in like a minute, but I’d be an arse not to help you right?”
My mind mentally screeches to a stop. Wait, Hogwarts Express?
“Are you… a wizard, by any chance?” I ask tentatively.
Saying Hogwarts Express out loud is practically a duh for wizardry, but you can’t blame me for making sure! Muggles say the darndest things sometimes.
“Well, yeah,” he says in a that-was-so-obvious tone. “Why else do you think I’m trying to get you on my train? To kidnap you and bring you on a date with me? Actually… that’s not a bad idea,” he adds as an after-thought.
My face flushes at his words, but I quickly push it away. “Wait, then how did you know that I’m a witch?”
He shrugs. “Lucky guess.”
“Anyway, time to go! Up and at ‘em!” And before I can say anything else, the boy lifts me up around the waist with one arm and takes my luggage in the other. “We better get over to Platform 9¾,” he continues, completely oblivious to the fact that my trunk weighs a ton. “Wouldn’t want to miss your train on your first day of school, right?”
“How on earth do you know that?!”
“Never seen you before,” he replies promptly. “Clearly a transfer student.”
“Ah, right,” I mutter, blushing as he practically carries me towards the platform around the waist.
My first day out and I start off looking like a right moron.
“Wait a minute,” I start as I scan over the platform. “Where exactly do we get on? There’s only Platform 9 and 10 here.”
I’m not completely clueless when it comes to Hogwarts since I’ve read Hogwarts, A History (yes, it was just as boring as it sounds), but you have to admit it’s pretty vague the way the author described Platform 9¾. Something about walking through a wall… or something? There are hundreds of walls at King’s Cross. LIKE WHICH BLOODY WALL?!
The boy rolls his eyes as he plops me down next to a brick wall between Platforms 9 and 10. “Ahh, newbies are so clueless,” he comments with a sigh. “You’re like a bloody first-year. It’s kind of adorable.”
My face turns pink for the nth time as he lets go of my waist and shifts the luggage in his arms.
“Right, so here’s how it works,” he continues, grinning at my flushed face. “You just lean here and I’ll lean here. Yeah, uh huh, and…” He rests his back against the brick wall with the air of someone casually chatting to a friend while waiting for a late train. “Okay, now just walk to me.”
I just stare at him, bemused. “Er, why?”
“C’mon, just casually. It’s a part of the thing we’re supposed to do.”
“What thing? Aren’t we supposed to be getting onto the platform?”
“Nah, don’t worry about it. You’re doing great! Now just keep talking.”
“But the train—”
And before I can even finish my sentence, the brick wall seemingly fades out of existence and before I know it, we’re there. I open my tightly shut eyes to see the brilliant red Hogwarts Express that I was babbling about only moments before.
I have only one thing to say: it’s huge.
“Stop gaping, c’mon!”
The boy slides his arm around my waist again and drags me towards the middle carriages of the train, waving at fellow students along the way. Granted, as well as he could wave at anyone with his arms full of luggage and, er, me.
As we make our way down the platform, I start to notice… a lot of girls are glaring at me like I just committed the most heinous crime in the universe or something. I mean, blimey, I figured that being practically carried by someone who’s probably one of the most popular blokes at school wasn’t going to get me any points with his lady friends, but this is mental!
Who is this guy?
The boy heaves my trunk and bags into luggage car and then turns to face me. For some reason, he still hasn’t go of my waist. If anything… is it just me or did his grip on my waist just tighten?
“So…” he comments casually.
I glance up at him. “Er, so?”
“So,” he repeats, a mischievous grin spreading across his face. “Fancy spending some time in my compartment, or…?”
“Oi, Sirius! Get your arse over here, mate!”
I glance over the boy’s shoulder to see a classmate sticking his head out of a nearby carriage window and waving cheerily at us. I then look back at the boy to see him blink as if the sound of his name suddenly shook him out of a trance. Then his face breaks into a wide grin and he spins around to wave at his friend.
“Keep your pants on, Potter!” he yells back with a laugh. “I’ll be there in a sec!”
I look up at him curiously. “Friend?”
The boy grins at me. “Duty calls.” He lets go of my waist and starts backing up towards the far carriage. “Anyway, guess I’ll see you around, Cecilia Vance!”
He flashes me a wink and then jumps onto the carriage and disappears from my sight.
What the? Who even was that guy? Was he even real?! Are all guys at Hogwarts like this or have I just bumped into the anomaly of the century?
And I barely have time to finish comprehending what just happened when an ear-splitting train whistle sounds across the platform.
I hop onto the step into the train with my good leg and slide into the door, my thoughts still trained on the boy that seemed to have barrelled in and out of my life like a storm.