I finger the frayed hem of my skirt nervously. I’ve always hated first days. Everyone stares at you, whispering behind their hands. Rumours start flying, especially when you sit alone at lunch because you’re too scared to talk to anyone. Luckily, this first day isn’t looking as bad as my usual ones. Granted, it’s halfway through term two, meaning that everyone has already settled into their little groups, and have no room for a poor, ginger, clumsy girl, but my brother Ron is starting this school today as well, so I’ll have someone to sit with at lunch at least. But he’s only doing that because Mum forced him to. Ah well. You can’t have everything.
This school is so much posher than my old school. It’s supposed to be prestigious, so it only lets in the filthy rich or the abnormally clever. Usually you have to be both. I’m intelligent, yes, but my family is probably one of the poorest you’ll ever meet. Ron and I had to sit about 20 different exams, on everything from origami to advanced trigonometry. I have no idea how Ron managed to get in. I understand me getting in, but Ron… well, he is reasonably intelligent I suppose, but this school isn’t exactly for reasonably intelligent people. More for the posh snobs with brains.
I probably sound really horrible now. I’m the only girl in a family of six brothers, so I have to be loud to get noticed. My brothers always tease me about being weak and female, so I tease them right back. It’s more self-defence than cruelness, I have to prove that I am not weak and I am as strong as they are.
The receptionist pulled me from my daydream, handing me a map, timetable and combination for my locker.
“Here you are, dear. Better run along now, don’t want to be late for your first lesson now do we?” she said, smiling warmly.
I thanked her quickly and wandered down the hallway in the direction of the science corridor, where my locker and first lesson were situated. I was peering down at the map, which was probably why I didn’t notice the thin and wiry black-haired boy until I had walked into him. I stumbled slightly, and dropped my map on the floor, along with all the other papers the receptionist had given me. A hand wrapped around my elbow, steadying me and I looked up, my cheeks burning red. The boy who I had walked into looked like one of the normal rich snobs. His clothes were obviously expensive, his hair, whilst untidy, was fashionably so, and his eyes looked so green under his glasses that they had to be contacts. I resolved there and then that I hated him. I know that was unreasonable, but still. He was smirking. I dislike people who smirk.
“Whoa! You should watch where you’re going! You could have hurt me!”
I was instantly furious. How dare he? Hurt him! I was the one who dropped all my stuff! And what about me? I could have just as easily been hurt. Then I realised what it was. Whilst I had been forming an opinion of him, he had been doing the same. He could tell that I was poorer than him, a second-class citizen. I pulled up every ounce of self-control I had in my body, and smiled at him sweetly.
“Of course,” I purred, still smiling. “And we wouldn’t want that would we? It’d totally ruin your lovely designer shoes. Pity, pity. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lesson to attend.” I scooped up my things, and brushed past him. He looked utterly shell-shocked. Probably the first time anyone had stood up to him in years. I felt a sense of smugness, for approximately two seconds before I realised that I had probably just made my first enemy at Hogwarts Academy. And from the looks of the people currently swarming around him, he was a very dangerous enemy to have.
I stared after the girl in shock. Her flaming red hair was still visible through the throng of students. I remembered how her brown eyes had blazed with anger when I had shouted at her, how she had made a fool of me so easily and calmly.
“Harry! Are you okay?” I heard a voice say at my elbow. I turned slowly, to see Hedwig staring at me over the glasses balanced on her nose. Hedwig was my second closest friend; I had known her since we were both toddlers and played around in the gardens of my parent’s house. That was before the house blew up when I was three, taking my parents with it. I had lived with my aunt and uncle for a while after that, but I had hated it, so now I lived with my godfather, Sirius. We were very well off, he worked in the government and I worked weekends in an upper-class restaurant.
“Harry, are you there? Are you checking out the girl who was talking to you?”
That snapped me back to the present.
“What?! Are you crazy? Of course not!”
“Ooh, who’s Harry checking out Hedwig? Who is she? Is she pretty? When can I meet her?” laughed Hermione, my best friend, as she snaked her arm through mine and pulled me towards History.
I sighed heavily, and got ready to explain.