The grounds of Hogwarts were beautiful all year long, but there was something truly amazing about them on the day the students arrived each fall. Perhaps Professor Dumbledore charged the faculty with adding a bit of magic to the pre-existing natural beauty, or maybe the mere excitement in the air contributed to the renewed appearance of the campus. Either way, it was four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, and the castle was bustling from top to bottom. Professor Sprout was out in the greenhouses, sprinkling the plants with water and making sure no leaf was left drooping. Professor Flitwick was helping Professor Binns remove the thick layer of dust from his classroom. Professor McGonagall was busy managing a new shipment of animals for Transfiguration. Having completed his inventory long ago, Professor Snape was meeting with Professor Dumbledore in his office. Only one person – well, living person -- in the whole castle was free of responsibility today.
Paige was perched at the railing of the Astronomy Tower, her green eyes gazing out at Hogwarts Station, where the Hogwarts Express was due to arrive at 5 o’clock sharp. True, she was a bit ahead of schedule, but she wanted to be sure she had a good seat when the students poured off the train. Her silky, shoulder-length black hair blew slightly in the gentle breeze coming off the lake, the same breeze that ruffled the edges of her short black skirt. Shivering slightly, she folded her arms over her green Slytherin t-shirt, leaning out a bit into the sunlight so as to take further advantage of the seventy-degree weather. Okay, as a first-year, she didn’t technically know which House she would be sorted into that evening. Technically
After all, if your father is Professor Snape, how many guesses do you need?
Paige closed her eyes, taking a deep whiff of the fresh air. She didn’t see much of the daylight or the fresh air, since her summers had been spent stuck down in the dungeons helping her father with inventory or learning new concoctions for as long as she could remember. She loved working with her father, having inherited his passion for potion making, but sometimes a girl just needed to get out and explore new territory. She hoped that the impending arrival of her best friend would bring more opportunities to get out of the dungeons.
Paige stood on the steps of the biggest house she’d ever seen. The hedges leading up the walkway where her father had dropped her off for the day were trimmed into elegant forms that couldn’t possibly appear in nature. The massive iron gates seemed forbidding at first, but they opened when she and her father came upon them, as if she had already passed the test to enter. Now she stood before a set of heavy double doors emblazoned with a golden ‘M’ knocker that was two feet too high for her to reach. Timidly, she attempted to knock on a door directly.
As she raised her fist, the doors opened, and she was faced with a house elf. Her family had none of their own, but she had seen them in clothing stores off of Diagon Alley, carrying unwanted items back from the fitting rooms. “Hello.” She said quietly. “I’m Paige Snape. My father—“
“—Dropped you off, right.” She looked up, finding that a tall, beautiful woman in an elegant black dress now stood behind the elf. “Dobby, move along, your services are not needed.” She drawled, offering Paige a smile. “Come along, dear, Draco’s just finished lunch.”
Paige followed the woman into the house, trying very hard not to gape at the fine fixtures and expensive furnishings that graced each and every room they passed through. “Now, Draco’s not accustomed to playing with girls, but he’s a perfectly nice boy. Your father and I both think you two will get on smashingly.” The woman said, opening a set of French doors and motioning for Paige to enter the dining room.
A pale, blonde boy sat at one end of the long table, finishing up a glass of milk. He glanced up as Paige and his mother entered the room.
“Draco, this is Paige Snape. You remember Professor Snape, don’t you? Your father introduced you to him the other day.”
Draco nodded, still studying the girl curiously.
“Well, you two can go on out and play if you like.” The woman paused. “Paige, have you eaten?”
“Excellent. Have fun, children.”
Draco hopped down off the chair and led Paige outside into the back garden, which was bathed in the warm April sunshine. They walked along silently for a few moments before Paige decided it was time to break the ice. “Your house is nice.”
“Thanks.” He smiled at her. “How old are you?”
“Six. Seven in September.” She replied.
“Me, too.” He said. “Except I’m seven in November.”
“Cool.” She stuck her hands in the pockets of her blue dress.
“So, what do you like to do?” Draco looked at her, and she couldn’t ignore the pretty gray-blue of his eyes. She had never seen that particular hue before.
Paige shrugged. “Read, look at things in Diagon Alley, help my father with his potions-“
“Potions? Really?” Draco looked interested. “You do magic already?”
Paige nodded, her eyes sparkling slightly. “It’s really fun. I can’t make any by myself yet, but my father teaches me new ones all the time.” She smiled. “Maybe I can show you sometime.”
“That would be cool.” Draco smiled back. “Will you come over tomorrow too?”
“If my father says it’s okay. And your parents, of course.” Paige replied, hoping it would work out.
She couldn’t help but smile as she recalled their innocent first meeting. More than five years had passed since that day, and their friendship had only grown stronger. Though her father had expressly forbidden her from experimenting with potions when he wasn’t there to supervise, they had found plenty of other ways to entertain themselves. Draco eventually showed her the rest of Malfoy Manor, and they had taken many walks together not just in the back garden but throughout the remainder of the grounds as well. Narcissa, his mother, had prepared lunch and tea for them and taken them shopping in high-end areas she had never visited before. When Draco’s father had given him his first broom, he had taken her for a spin on it the first chance he could. Now she felt almost as welcome walking into Malfoy Manor as she did with her own home.
Suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by the whistle of the Hogwarts Express. She strained her neck excitedly, trying to guess which of the doors would have students spilling out of it first. Hagrid, the gamekeeper, stepped forward as the train halted and began to welcome the students as the doors finally opened. Paige leaned against the railing, trying to pick out the one familiar face amongst all the strange newcomers. Wait – there he was! She couldn’t miss that shock of blonde hair for the world. He trailed off toward the lake with the rest of the first-years, and Paige headed downstairs to greet him.
When she got there, the students were already assembling in the entrance hall, preparing to be sorted. She tried to get close to Draco, but Professor McGonagall began leading them in toward the Sorting Hat before she could manage it. The students filed in two by two, coming to a halt before the hat.
“Now, when your name is called, step forward and put on the Hat so that you may be sorted.” Professor McGonagall instructed. “Abbott, Hannah.”
The girl timidly stepped forward and tried on the hat. “HUFFLEPUFF!
“Excuse me.” A girl next to her with mousy brown hair said softly, offering her a smile as she scooted closer to a redheaded boy and a boy with brown hair and glasses in front of her.
“Granger, Hermione.” The mousy-haired girl stepped up to the stool. “GRYFFINDOR!”
The names continued. “Longbottom, Neville” found his way into Gryffindor as well, and then it was Draco’s turn. He had scarcely picked up the hat when it sounded his fate: “SLYTHERIN!
Paige grinned. Now he’ll be joining me!
Like everyone else in the Hall, she turned to face the stool as “Potter, Harry” was called. He, too, was sorted into Gryffindor, and his housemates seemed extremely proud to claim him.
It was finally her turn. She stepped up and put on the hat.
A Snape, no doubt related to our dear Potions Master,
the hat drawled. Clearly got some brains in here, would make a good Ravenclaw… potential for bravery, that’s a Gryffindor trait… not a trace of Hufflepuff, I see… ah. Yes. You appear to have a large capacity for cunning. SLYTHERIN!
Paige beamed at her father and took her place at the Slytherin table as “Thomas, Dean” was called. She smiled at the older girls seated around her, but she was focused on finding Draco so she could finally say hello. Suddenly, one of the broad-shouldered older boys moved, and there he was.
There he was, deep in conversation with a short dark-haired girl, a group of boys crowded around him.
Paige frowned, trying to remember who the girl was. Ah, yes, Parkinson, Pan-I mean, Pansy Parkinson
. She didn’t know much about the girl, except that her father had once mentioned a news story from the Daily Prophet about Mr. Parkinson doing quite well as an investment banker over at Gringotts. She sighed. She probably has a big house, too.
She glanced up glumly as “Weasley, Ronald” made his way to the Gryffindor table, partly wishing she could have one more go at the Sorting Hat.