Chapter 2 : Two
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Three weeks ago a ridiculously tall and rather old bloke came to my house and took me and Jake shopping. Yes, you heard me right. He took me shopping. We went into a magical street full of shops. It is hidden behind a pub, and all you have to do is go into the yard at the back, tap a brick on the wall and the wall moves away to reveal this street. Crazy right?
The guy introduced himself as “Hagrid. Keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts.” Apparently he’s been there for years. I know that I’ve only met him once, but he is genuinely one of the nicest people I have ever met.
At Diagon Alley, I bought everything you can only ever imagine. A wand, cauldron, books, the weirdest potion ingredients, robes, cloaks, everything. I also got two tiny owls, one for me and one for my parents so that we can keep in regular contact.
It was such a good day, the sun was shining, the birds were singing. Ok, not quite like that, but it was really warm and Jakey managed to stop being grizzly for a day. After Diagon Alley, I took Jake to a park in London. We were feeding the ducks and I caught sight of a boy. Not just any boy, but a breath-taking, make-your-palms-sweat-and-legs-wobble-when-you-see-him kind of boy. If perfect is what you are looking for, then he is it. He had messy black hair with gingery-blonde highlights. Natural though. And hazel eyes. The gorgeous kind that you get lost in when you gaze into them. A gurgle from Jake brought me to my senses, and made me realise that I was staring. How long was I like that? I glanced back at him and realised he was looking at me too. Not in the oh-my-God-you’re-drop-dead-gorgeous kind of way that I was, but in a wtf-are-you-staring-at-me-for kind of way. He smiled at me though, when his eyes met mine. A sexy smile, with those lips. What I’d like to do to those lips…
The doorbell ringing brings me back to the present. My ride’s here! Everything is all packed up in a trunk, and Jakey is securely strapped in. I answer the door and standing there is a rather beardy, scrawny man.
“’ello. Me name’s Dylan, ‘nd I’m t’conductor of t’knight bus. Been sent to collect yer, I ‘ave, ‘nd take you t’Hogwarts.”
Peering past him I see a triple decker, bright-purple bus. I smile at him once I’ve deciphered what he said, and reach for my trunk.
“No. No. I’ll take that. Yer get that ‘nd make yerselves comft’ble.” He says nodding at Jake in his pram.
I push Jake towards the bus, struggling to lift the pram up the stairs, and then I lead us to a sofa. A sofa? On a bus? That is so cool!
“So what yer doin’ comin’ to school on me bus, eh? Most students take t’train.” Dylan asks me.
I explain that this is my first year, and as I live closer to Hogwarts than London that McGonagall said it would be easier for me to come by bus. Especially as I don’t know anyone and I have Jake with me. Also, McGonagall wanted me to arrive early.
Arrival at the castle
“Ah. Good afternoon, Ms Meadows. I see that you’ve made it. There is someone I would like you to meet.” I turn to the direction of the voice and see McGonagall standing there. There was another woman with her. “Lacey, this is Hannah Abbott, now Longbottom. She is married to Professor Longbottom, our herbology teacher and head of Gryffindor. She is to look after your son for you whilst you work. Like the child minder you used to have. Hannah, this is Lacey.”
She smiles at me, a warm smile, and holds out her hand for me to shake. Which I do.
“This is Jake. He’s well behaved, but a little cheeky at times. Are you sure you don’t mind doing this?” I ask her.
“Don’t be silly, dear. I’m paid to do this, it’s my job. Besides, I love kids and I wanted to spend more time with my husband, who is also here.” She replies tickling Jakey under the chin.
“Right, well Hannah, if you take Jake to your room now, I’ll give Lacey a tour of the school. Then the other students will be arriving and the feast shall begin, which you will all be attending. Lacey will get sorted, I’ll tell you more about that on our tour, and we can sort out a room for her and Jake to live in.” McGonagall says to me, before turning and walking into the entrance of the castle which is now my school. “Come along, Ms Meadows. We don’t have long.”
I’m standing outside the great hall with a bunch of year sevens. Sorry, I mean first years, as they’re called here. They are all half my size. It’s going to be really embarrassing walking into the hall in front of everybody. All eyes will be on me – I will be the most visible. I swear they are all under a metre tall.
Once inside, we’ll be called up one by one to be sorted into houses. McGonagall explained this to me earlier. I will have to put on a hat and it will read my mind and place me in one of the four houses that the school has, the one that’s most suited to me. I read about the houses before I got here. Gryffindor is for the brave students, Ravenclaw for the clever, Slytherin for the sly and cunning, and Hufflepuff for the ‘caring’ (or the one’s which don’t fit anywhere else).
I don’t really care where I end up to be honest. As long as I can make friends and be happy. Actually, I don’t really want to end up in Slytherin, but hey, if I get sorted there then what can I do?
The doors open and a man (Professor Longbottom, Hannah’s husband – I met him earlier) comes to collect us. We follow silently into the hall, and as I suspected, all eyes are on me. I look up at the teachers table and see Hannah sat on the end. Next to her, Jake is propped up on a chair. I hope he doesn’t start crying because it will be really embarrassing as only I will be able to comfort him. He doesn’t really know anyone else yet.
One by one, each first year is called up individually and places the hat on their head. McGonagall told me that I would be going last. Finally, the group of first years gets smaller and smaller until only I am left standing at the front of the hall. Now I know that everyone is looking at me. I mean, where else are they going to be looking?
I walk up to the stool and sit down. Instead of feeling the hat on my head, McGonagall starts talking. Great.
“Now, this student is a rather special case at this school.” Oh. My. God. Bursts of laughter erupt across the school. She could at least have phrased it better. I think she realised her mistake, and hurriedly continued. “ Lacey would be going in to her sixth year, but there has been a mistake here at Hogwarts, which means that she did not even know that she was a witch until a few months ago. She will be working hard with extra help to enable her to catch up to a year group a bit nearer her own age. It would be appreciated if you could all look out for her, especially those in her house. Just because she is not technically in your year does not mean that you cannot be friends.”
I can feel myself redden, everyone is staring at me and there is nowhere to hide. This could not be any more embarrassing. Or could it? Jake has just started crying. Really, really loudly. In a silent hall. At least everyone has stopped looking at me? I just want that sorting hat to swallow me up. Thankfully, Hannah has common sense and she picks up Jake and takes him out of the Great Hall.
“Another new arrival, courtesy of Ms Meadows,” McGonagall says to the inquisitive faces. “And now…”
Finally! She puts the hat on my head. Unfortunately it doesn’t even cover my face. Fat lot it did swallowing me up! It talks to me, quietly, not like the loud voice it used when everybody heard. I’m not really listening to it though, I just want it to get on with it so that I can get off of the stage. It’s muttering something about sticking up for myself, logic, nurturing for my son, and scheming. Talk about a tough decision! And finally, after about a million years of waiting…
There is applause, the hat is taken off of my head and I practically run to the Ravenclaw table, to people of roughly my age. They’re still clapping me, and I find myself with my head permanently looking down. I don’t want to look at the people around me. I don’t want them to look at me. I’m usually just in the background, which is how I like it.
“Welcome to the club!” The person sat opposite me says.
It’s only then that I look up. To see who spoke. My eyes meet his.
His gorgeous hazel eyes.