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“Firs’ years over here!” a loud, booming voice yelled.  

Stepping off the train at the Hogsmeade station, Alex turned to see who was yelling, and she felt her jaw drop.  Standing a couple of meters away from her was the largest man she had ever seen.  A couple of first year students who shyly crowded around him looked like little puppy Chihuahuas next to a fully grown St. Bernard.

Feeling a warm hand take hers, she turned back to see Sirius leading her off the steps, and she realized she had blocked the ‘traffic’ of oncoming students.  He started to lead her away from the giant man and the first years. “But shouldn’t I go with them?  I mean, I know I’m not a first year, but it is my first year here, and I want to go across the lake.”

Sirius stopped and turned to look at her.  Smiling he replied, “See those clouds, Edwards?  In less than five minutes you’ll be thanking me.  Besides, you belong with seventh years, not scrawny little first year brats.” 

Alex shut her mouth and decided to follow him.  He led her through the giant crowd of students right to the front where there were horseless carriages waiting, some already making their way up the road to the castle, which Alex could now see.  Though the faint outline of the enormous castle was barely visible against the slowly darkening sky, the lights shining through every window made it stand out.  She couldn’t help but marvel at its size and grandeur, even from far away.  She was so taken with the sight of her new home that she didn’t notice Sirius suddenly stop, causing her bump into him.  She was about to mutter an apology when she noticed a smirk on his face, one that told her he had done that deliberately.

“Oi!  Sirius! Over here mate!” Alex heard a voice she recognized as James’ call from one of the carriages.

In a split-second they were moving again, and another second later Sirius was helping her up the wobbly step to the carriage, just as it started to rain.  She quickly got inside followed by Sirius, who, though only in the rain for a moment, was already soaked.  He looked at Alex, and she cursed that smile of his as he said, “Told you.”

Alex forced her eyes of him and looked around to see James and a different boy sitting next to him.  The complete opposite of all three boys she met so far, he was short and stubby, looking very unkempt and a bit sinister to boot.  His dark eyes finally found hers and he immediately looked away, squirming in his seat and twitching.  James laughed as he introduced her, “Alex, this is Peter Pettigrew.”

“Hi,” Alex said forcing a smile, though in fact she was thoroughly disgusted by him.  But he only made a sort of grunt in return, and this time it was Sirius’ turn to laugh.  A laugh that sounded strangely like a bark…she thought.

“Don’t mind him, Alex.  He’s a bit scared of girls, especially beautiful ones.”

Suddenly she felt grateful for the dark as she felt her cheeks burn up, which is strange- I never blush.  Not able to find the right answer to such an awkward statement, she finally managed to say, “Is that so?”

“Oh yeah,” Sirius replied without a moment’s hesitation.  “Especially after last year when he asked Audrey Jones out, remember James?  But he was so nervous he wet himself and she started shrieking and yelling at him to get away.”

James joined in Sirius’ laughter, “Yeah that was priceless.  I can’t believe you actually wet yourself, Pete.”

A raspy, embarrassed and bitter voice suddenly spat, “Well if Sirius hadn’t told me to drink all that Firewhisky beforehand, I wouldn’t have. And maybe I would have been able to produce a comprehensible sentence.”

But this only made the other two laugh even harder, and Alex was getting the impression that there was a lot more to the prank played on Peter than firewhisky alone.

“I doubt that Pete,” Sirius said. He opened his mouth to say, Alex was sure, another joke or insult, but taking pity on the boy sitting in front of her, she interrupted. 

“What’s firewhisky?”  It was the first thing that came to mind, and she had said it before she could stop herself.  She mentally slapped herself for asking such a stupid question.  Obviously, firewhisky is whisky…that tastes like fire…

“Um…whisky,” Sirius stated in response.

“I know that.  I meant, what’s firewhisky taste like?” she quickly said, trying to cover, but quite sure her questions were only making the situation worse.

“Like drinking fire, in whisky form,” he said, his tone very amused.

“Kinda self explanatory, isn’t it?” James added, his goofy grin getting wider.

“Right,” Alex finished, and decided to try a different subject.  “Where’s Remus?”

“Well he’s Head Boy, isn’t he?  He probably gets his own carriage to himself with Head Girl,” James replied and Alex cocked her eyebrow at the faint but noticeable ring of jealousy.  

“Nah, he’s probably stuck helping out the first years get on to the boats or wrestling the giant squid, poor devil,” Sirius replied with yet another laugh.

“So are you all in Gryffindor?” Alex started on yet another topic.

“Yes ma’am.  7th year sons of Gryffindor…plus Remus…at your service,” Sirius said with another bow.

“You’ll be in Gryffindor for sure, Alex,” James said enthusiastically, “And then, you can be best friends with Evans!” 

“I take it she’s in Gryffindor too?” Alex asked not bothering to hide her smirk, and taking advantage of the fact that she finally got the upper hand in the conversation.  “Wait, don’t tell me- she’s Head Girl, isn’t she?  And you’ve completely fallen for her?”

“How…” James started, looking shocked, amused and embarrassed at the same time.  “OK, something is not right here.  You’ve known me for like, what, less than 2 hours, Evans for even less, and you already know that?  How?

“James, please,” she replied in a mock know-it-all voice, “I’m a girl.  I can see these kinds of things.  That, and you’re completely obvious and hopeless.”

“Right…” James said, scratching his head. “So if you can ‘see these kinds of things’, tell me, does Evans love me or what?”

“And why should I tell you?” Alex asked coolly.

“Aw come on Alex!  Just this once, break the whole girl code and tell me!  I need to know!”  James practically cried.

“And what, pray tell, will I get in return?  There’s a price on information, you know.”

“What?”  James asked in shock.  "But..but..."

“Just kidding,” Alex replied.  “Look, she doesn’t exactly love you, but I wouldn’t say she hates you either.”

“And that means…?” his expression confused, but his eyes sparkling with hope.

“It means that she's fed up with you, I think.  It seems that whatever you've been doing the past six or however many years isn't working.  So you should stop, give her some space, and try a different tactic."

“A different tactic?” Sirius repeated.  “Like what?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe like being charming and sweet, thoughtful, considerate, reasonable, chivalrous…you know, all that good stuff,” Alex rattled off as many things as she could remember from the romance novels she had read, and was amused to see James’ and Sirius’ faces at what she just said.  She tried to explain herself, “My intuition tells me Lily is a romantic.  If this is in fact true, then she believes love will find her, and she’ll know and accept it when it does.”

“No, that can’t be right,” James responded scratching his head.  “I’ve found her a long time ago, and she still hasn’t accepted it.”

“I said love will find her, not you.  Besides, you’re going about it all wrong.  I’d say you need to just let the course of love run, and then see what happens.”

“And you know all of this how?” Sirius asked.

The carriage suddenly jolted to a stop before Alex could answer, Which is good considering I don’t really have an answer.  Peter opened the door and ran through the heavy rain to the castle doors, followed by James.  Alex stuck her head out and smiled at the magnificent castle, before bolting out with Sirius hot on her heels.

Once inside, she started following everybody else up the steps into what she assumed was the great hall, but was pulled aside by a stern looking woman in emerald green robes.

“Oh, hello Professor McGonagall,” Alex said, recognizing her as the Transfiguration teacher who examined her at the end of each year.

“Good evening, Alex. I am sure you know you have to be sorted first, so you’ll go before the first years alright?”

“Sounds great.”

“Good, follow me then.  The first years will probably be a bit late due to the rain, so we’ll get this over and done with as soon as everybody is settled down,” she said and started to head toward the great hall, with Alex trailing behind her.  She soon stopped in front of great doors, and gave Alex a faint nod of encouragement as they opened.

They started to walk right down the middle of the hall, between four tables.  The hum of students talking and laughing died down as they noticed Alex walking with McGonagall.  A few whispers and gasps were heard, and Alex assumed it was on behalf of the muggle-born population. But she ignored them and instead looked up to see the enchanted ceiling she had read about.  

She didn’t have enough time to completely admire her surroundings because they reached the head table, where she saw Professor Dumbledore, along with some of her other professors.  But what caught Alex’s eye was the stool placed in front of the table, with a tattered and old looking hat upon it.  As she stared at it, Dumbledore stood up and started to speak.

“Welcome back students, to another great year at Hogwarts.  While we wait for the first years to arrive and for the traditional sorting to begin, I am pleased to introduce to you all Alexandria Edwards, who will be joining the 7th year class this year.  I hope you all make her feel welcome.  Now, she needs to be sorted, so I turn it over to Professor McGonagall.”
McGonagall nodded her head and stepping up to the stool, she lifted the hat, and Alex moved forward to sit on it.  She then placed the hat on her head, and Alex heard a voice talking, trying to sort her into Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff house.

The silence in the hall was unbearable.  Everybody was looking at her, and though Alex was used to it, she somehow felt a lot more vulnerable.  By now, she was sure that everybody knew who she was, but it was impossible to think as the hat kept stating her different qualities, strengths and weaknesses.  And what’s with all this destiny rubbish? she vaguely wondered.  When it seemed like an eternity had gone by, the hat finally shouted, “GRYFFINDOR!” 

The silent hall burst into applause, and she could barely hear McGonagall say ‘well done’, as she gave her a gentle push in the direction of the Gryffindor table, just as the first years, looking very wet and terrified, entered the hall.  Alex made her way toward Sirius’ waving hand, and she vaguely noticed some of the girls staring at him with dazed expressions, and at her jealously.  Finally there, she sat down in between him and Remus (who had also just arrived), across from James and Peter, who were both staring at their plates eagerly.  

“Congratulations, Alex,” Remus said.  "And might I say, that you made quite an entrance."  

"Yeah," Sirius interuptted.  "Maybe you should have considered a disguise."

"I considered it, but after all, that would be completely besides the point," she said to him.

Sirius looked a little confused, and Alex sighed, and absentmindedly looked around her.  Is it really that hard to understand?

"You came here to be who you really are, right? No disguises or pretenses or nothing.  Just you- Alex, the witch," Remus whispered into her ear.

Though at first shocked, Alex smiled at him before once again starting to admire her surroundings while the first year sorting dragged on.  She didn’t notice that both boys sitting on either side of her were having troubles keeping their eyes off of her…along with the rest of the male population.  

She closed her eyes and smiled.  Finally, I’m home.  This year is going to be unforgettable. 

 Author's Note:  ...
Firstly, sorry for the horrendously long wait.  November went by so fast and I only just realized I hadn't posted since October...
So I hurried to post this chapter (which has not gone through Dead's Cooler than Holey's beta-ing just yet).  I know it's kind of a filler chapter but it was necessary.  I promise the next chapter will be up a lot sooner.
Secondly, thank you to all readers and reviewers! Honestly, I never expected this story to get so much support.  Love you guys!
Please review!

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