“Do you mind if I sit here?” I ask tentatively, peeing into a near empty compartment.
The pretty redhead, who occupied half of my future seating place, looks up from what seems to be an advanced spellbook. “Oh, sure!” she replies with a smile. “Always nice to have some company.”
I hobble over and sit across from her with a grin. Though is it just me, or does my ankle suddenly feel a billion times worse? Nope, must be my imagination. Definitely just imagining it.
“I'm Lily Evans, fifth year.” She reaches out her hand.
I raise my hand to shake hers and with that ever so slight movement of my hand (Yeah, my hand. A joint completely unrelated to my leg.), a sharp pain shoots up my leg like someone had hammered a nail into it.
“Cecilia Vance. I'm also a fifth yeaARGHH!” A steady stream of curses pour out of my mouth, though I decide to just end with a very succinct “OW!”
Ye-up, definitely not imagining it.
Lily immediately bends down to look at my ankle in concern. “What’s wrong with your leg—blimey!” Her eyes widen in surprised laughter. “Is that your ankle or a grapefruit?”
“Would you believe me if I said grapefruit?” I groan, unable to surpress a laugh myself. “This knobhead of a stationmaster shoved into me earlier on the platform. Evidently harder than I thought.”
I didn’t notice how bad it was while Sirius was holding me up, but ow. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be impressed that Sirius’ arm muscles are clearly way strong or appalled that I actually need buggin’ medical attention for this! Guess this calls for some bone mending.
“Here, I’ll fix this up for you.” Before I can make a move for my wand, Lily pulls out her own wand and taps my ankle lightly. “Episkey!”
I move my ankle gingerly and… huh, no pain! And this girl says she’s a fifth year?
“How’d you learn to do that?” I say, thoroughly impressed. “That’s a healing spell that even N.E.W.T. students have trouble pulling off and you haven’t even started O.W.L. lessons yet!”
Lily grins as she stows her wand away in her back pocket. “I’m… well,” she says with a tinge of embarrassment, “I’m a bit ahead of my class, I guess.”
“Oh yeah, just a bit ahead, Lily. Only a little,” I tease.
She rolls her eyes at me and replies, her eyebrow raised. “Like you’re one to talk! By the looks of that wand in your hand, you’re not that far behind me either.”
“Oh this?” I tuck away my wand sheepishly. “Well, I’ve been home-schooled until now, so I’ve kind of been learning and my own pace.”
Lily’s eyes widen in surprise. “Home-schooled?” she repeats. “Blimey, then you must be even farther than me! So, that’s why I don’t recognize your face.”
“Yeah, that’d explain things.” I laugh good-heartedly before leaning in closer to her. “But anyway, while we’re both stuck here in this compartment for the next couple of hours, fill me in on some details about the whole Hogwarts deal. I don’t want to walk in completely clueless.”
“Oh, good idea.” Lily grins at me. “Right, listen up, important things first. So, there’s this thing in our year that…”
We talk like that for probably hours on end. It’s incredible how when your chatting with someone you just click with time just passes by without you even noticing. I guess this is what they call ‘love at first sight’… only it’s not love, er, it’s friendship. Or, I mean, I guess that’s a kind of love when you think about it—but anyway! All jokes aside, if this is what I’ve been missing during my home-schooled years, then, blimey, I could definitely get used to this.
And, in the end, we talk for so long and were so into it that…
“Oi, I think we missed the food trolley. How does that even happen?” Lily mutters as she gets up from her seat and looks out the compartment door. “Ah, yeah, the lady’s down the hallway.”
I take a handful of Sickles out from my pocket and stand up. “I’ll go get something then,” I offer, stretching my arms over my head. “My bum hurts from sitting so long. You hungry?”
“Alrighty then.” I slide open the door, waving back at Lily’s “Don’t forget cauldron cakes!” behind me as I close it shut again.
So, where exactly did Lily say this trolley lady was? Well, I guess if I walk up and down the aisles, I’ll eventually bump into her at some point. Kind of have all the time in the world, really.
As I make my way through the carriage, I chance a few glances into various half-opened compartment doors to try and get a feel of the Hogwarts students. Hmm, some bookworms, other super unfriendly-looking Slytherins, many others playing Gobstones or wizarding chess, and most just hanging out with their mates. I mean, a pretty typical lot of students, right?
Ah, there she is.
I’m only feet away from the trolley lady and just about to call out to her when the door of a compartment suddenly flies open and—oof! I get the wind knocked out of me for the second time by some other random bloke and before I know it, we’re about to topple to the ground.
Geez, not again!
Thinking fast, I snatch out my wand from my back pocket and point it at the space before me. “Protego!”
An invisible shield springs up to protect me from the boy and flings him backwards just as I fall backwards onto my rear.
“Whoa!” The boy stumbles back a few steps before regaining his balance. He then rushes over to help me up. “Sorry about that, mate. Didn’t mean to barrel into you there!”
“Oh, no, it’s fine,” I reply hastily.
I look up at him to accept his hand and immediately notice that I had to look pretty far up to even make eye-contact with the boy. He’s a tall, rather handsome guy with a playful glint in his eyes and the downright messiest hair I’ve ever seen on a human being. What was he doing, sticking his head out the train window?
After taking a quick glance at me, the boy grins good-naturedly. “Hey, you’re pretty cute! What year are you?”
I raise my eyebrows.
Are Hogwarts boys completely unable to answer with just a hello?
“Er, I’m a fifth year,” I reply awkwardly.
His eyes widen. “Huh, seriously? And you go to Hogwarts?”
I nod, bemused.
“Really?” The boy stratches his head, frowning to himself. “Bizarre. And I thought I knew everyone in our year…” He leans into the nearest compartment and motions to his fellow classmate. “Oi, Sirius, we have a problem!”
The mere mention of the name makes me jump a little inside. Though not so much in a heart-skipping-a-beat kind of way. More like a blimey-no-way-I-actually-know-someone-on-this-train kind of way. Yes, I know I’m lame, don’t judge!
I peer into the compartment myself curiously to find him sitting on the seat with his arm around the waist of a rather pretty brunette girl. And before I can mentally smack myself for even thinking it, the thought runs through my head: who am I kidding, of course a guy like him has a girlfriend.
The black-haired boy turns to glance at me briefly and then back at his friend. “What, is there a side-effect already?” he asks the boy in mild-concern, completely ignoring my presence. “Didn’t you just go out for a test run, James?”
James folds his arms and leans against the compartment door. “Nope, it’s done.” He pulls out a transparent bottle of weirdly-colored hard candies from his pocket and tosses it into the air, catching it again with one hand. “Testing’s over, mate! It’s definitely flawed.”
“You know how I have an uncanny memory for faces, yeah?” James explains with a long sigh. “Well, I could not and still can’t remember the name of this girl over here!” He grabs me by the shoulders and pushes me into the compartment as if to present me to Sirius as some sort of definitive evidence. “She even says she’s in our year! I’ve lost brain cells, mate! We can’t sell this rubbish to students!”
Now that I have a clear view of the entire compartment, my eyes catch sight of two other boys in the room. One is sitting with his elbow propped on the window sill and an open book in his lap, watching the scene with an amused look on his face. The other looks like a rather mousy boy, who is, er, currently staring at me like I’m some sort of human sub-species.
I give them all an exceedingly awkward wave. “Uh, hi.”
Sirius leans over to take the bottle of candies out of James’ hand and simultaneously smacks him in the arm. “You git, she transferred to our school this year,” he explains exasperatedly. “Your memory’s fine, mate. As if anything we create could actually malfunction.”
“You serious? Hell yeah, success!” James pumps a fist into the air. He then looks between me and Sirius curiously. “Wait, so you two know each other then?”
“Er, I start.”
“Nope,” Sirius interrupts unblushingly.
“Wait, you like just met me on the platfo—”
“LIAR,” the brunette protests before I can even finish my sentence.
I stare at her astonished for a moment. Wow, I forgot she was even here.
“Sirius, you totally know that girl!” she accuses, a pout on her pretty face. “Did you meet over over the summer or something? Is that why you haven’t replied to any of my letters?”
The boy turns to his girlfriend with a wide grin and runs a hand over her cheek. “Aww, babe, you know I only have eyes for you.” He leans over to give her a peck on the lips.
I have to make a gargantuan effort to not physically gag at the scene.
Is this even the same guy I ran into on the platform? Since when did he get replaced with a sugary womanizer?! I take back every single last thought of wanting to meet this guy again… But before I can excuse myself of his apparent debauchery and step out of the compartment, the boy by the window takes this opportunity to stand and finally address me.
“We’re pretty much used to this, but you looked like you needed some distracting.” The boy takes my tentatively raised hand and shakes it warmly. “Remus Lupin, by the way. Fifth year. Actually we’re all fifth years,” he adds, nodding towards his peers.
I smile back and reply, “Cecilia Vance. It’s nice to meet you?” It’s a bloody statement, Cecilia. Why did you say it like a question, you socially awkward freak?!
Remus grins at me and holds my hand for a moment before letting go to gesture at the mousy boy sitting behind him. “That’s Peter Pettigrew. Don’t take his deer-in-headlights look personally. He’s, er, kind of shy.”
“Um, hi Peter!” I say genially.
“You’ll get used to each other.” Remus chuckles and nods over his shoulder. “Sirius and Ellie are on my other side—wait, don’t bother looking! You really don’t want to see that they’re up to right now.” He clear his throat. “Anyway, you already met James, so that’s about all of us—”
“Cecilia, there you are!”
Before Remus can finish his sentence, I turn to see Lily jogging down the corridor towards me. “Blimey, how long does it take for a girl to get some food? I’m starving—agh! James Potter!”
I raise my eyebrow at her reaction. I take it she’s familiar with this unnaturally dazzling group of boys as well?
And to my surprise, James rushes right to Lily's side and leans against the outside wall of the compartment, effectively blocking her path. “Looking beautiful as usual,” he says in what I can only imagine was a poor attempt at a suave, manly voice.
I see Lily's face contort into a grimace. “James Potter,” she retaliates, “acting like a total freak… as usual.”
Remus stifles a laugh with a cough before continuing, “Yeah, I guess I forgot to add Lily Evans to the list of our group.”
“I don't hang out with any of you!”
“Keep telling yourself that,” Remus replies to Lily's protest with a chuckle. “Now that I think about it, I should've introduced Lily and James as a pair. Don't let her lies fool you. The only reason why Lily's sitting by herself today is because James was pestering her again at the station.” He rubbes the back of his neck and adds, “Well, I guess pestering is the understatement of the year.”
“I don't doubt it,” I reply with a short laugh.
Well, that explains a lot. I got the impression that she was just anti-social before, but after talking to her for even just a couple minutes, it was kind of obvious that she wasn't.
“Interesting story to those two actually,” Remus continues. “James actually fell in love with her after they bumped into each other, fell down two flights of stairs, and sent James to the Hospital Wing for a week in their first year. And he’s been chasing after her ever since. Real romantic, huh?” He laughs at my expression: a look of utter confusion.
“What the hell, that doesn't even make sense…”
“Yeah, I know right?” he replies, just laughing even harder.
“Alright, that's it, James! Cut it out!” Lily yells suddenly and with an incredible shove finally escapes from James's arms. She grabs my hand and pulls me back down the hallway, grumbling, “C'mon, let's go, Cecilia. We'll see enough of them at school.”
James slinks to Remus's side, rubbing his noticeably red cheek. “You’re still beautiful, Evans!” he calls to her.
Remus snorts. “Stop harassing her, mate. It's only the first day, at least you could treat her normally.” As he returns James laugh with a grin, he leans around the other boy to wave at me. “See you, Cecilia!”
I manage a friendly wave back before Lily drags me through the door to the next carriage, and through the window the last image I see is the silhouette of Sirius leaning once again towards his girlfriend.
The sight makes me roll my eyes in disbelief.
Blimey, could my opinion of this guy get any worse?