The scarlet Hogwarts Express rumbled down the track, the clack clack of wheel hitting rail growing ever more consistent as the train reached full speed. The steam that had enveloped the train faded away to leave a scene of patchwork fields stretched over the English countryside, picture perfect.

I peered through the glass, trying to see past my reflection to the scene that rolled past the windows. It was a decent reflection I supposed, the outline of a short sturdy girl with an abnormal growth on her shoulder – correction: a tawny Barn owl, perched quietly with its beak burrowed into the downy wing. I smiled at my shallowness. Beneath the looks were a quiet heart, a willingness to work, and below the feathers was a close companion with an ever constant friendly face. It was all we both needed: each other.

Red didn’t emerge from underneath his wing as I curled up on the seat with a book and a quill. Last minute schoolwork maybe, but I’d have more chance of doing a good job of it in this quiet compartment compared to the rowdiness that was home. A new baby brother; my excitement had dwindled when realising this meant no sleep for the whole family during the long summer nights.

Time passed, the train drew steadily closer to the highland crags, and my elegant goose feather quill was reaching the bottom of the two foot long parchment. Lost in my own thoughts, I didn’t realise till too late that looming shadows had appeared at the window, and I, needing only one glance, recognised the tall gangly figure of James Potter.

I had been irrevocably and irresistibly infatuated with James Potter for ten days in my third year. It was impossible – and I’d never doubted that I wasn’t the only one to fall under his alluring charm – not to fall in love with James Potter. He was handsome, with an air of self assured arrogance and had an ego the size of the Quaffle he so masterfully scored with. He was drop dead, mind numbingly gorgeous, with ruffled black hair, a dazzling smile and a tall, lean figure. He was, in short, a complete and utter prat.

“Oi, Moony, that girl from our year is in here, can’t we go further down the train?” James moaned, moving from side to side impatiently. I watched the shadows rise and fall behind the frosted glass out of the corner of my eye, feigning interest in the Daily Prophet on the seat beside me.

“Lily is in the Prefects carriage. Bad luck Prongs.” Sirius replied briskly before strolling into the compartment, and placing himself opposite to me, seemingly oblivious to my very presence. I fumed. 

Sirius Black. How could a person describe the troublemaker? With a sinister reputation, an untoward background in magic, and an arrogance which matched James’, I had had little to do with him over the past five years.

Remus Lupin followed suit, smiling apologetically as he sat down beside me, as if to shield me from the antics of the two mischief makers. Peter Pettigrew scuttled into the compartment beside gangly James, a mere mouse to James’ six foot figure. This was more like it: Remus was someone who I held respect to, a Prefect who always thought of others, and tried unsuccessfully to keep his friends in line. It was always a mystery as to why he spent time with the two agitators, there was little to compare between personalities. 

We sat in silence. Sirius raised his eyebrows cheekily, whilst James tried unsuccessfully not to laugh beside him. I turned to the glass; there was no time in my life for people like them. The highlands now towered above the rail road, and for the first time, a castle with looming towers could be spotted, nestled into the crags.

“Can I look at your Daily Prophet Isabel?” asked Remus, shy and gentle as always. 

“Yeh,” I muttered, eyes cast to the floor as the realisation hit me that I was surrounded by the four most popular boys in the year: every girl’s dream. To be an inch from James Potter? It was an occasion that many people have given their wand arm for, let alone a Daily Prophet.

Remus picked up the paper, studying the articles absentmindedly as the train slowed, pulling into Hogsmeade Station with a peep of the horn. His eyes scanned the front page, widening in shock and horror as the headline hit him. What it was, I had no idea, as I’d not paid that much attention to the typically boring news from the wizarding world.

“Sirius, James, Peter, look at this. Someone’s disappeared. Without a trace, there’s no reason for it, not a single reason. A worker at the Department of Mysteries, unsurprisingly.” Remus said urgently, thrusting the paper in their faces. The boys scrambled to read, wearing the same concerned, yet unsurprised face that Remus wore on his own handsome features. 

The five of us rose to our feet, and began to pull trunks from the overhead racks with a resounding clatter. The boys led the way out of the compartment, our end of the train free of the usual push and shove to disembark the train. I plucked up the courage.

“What’s the big deal? People go missing all the time. They’ve probably just been misplaced.” I said, unaware of the storm that was about to hit.

Sirius Black turned, an incredulous look of rage on his handsome features. His body tightened like a predator ready to pounce, and the expression hardened as if an icy wind had frozen it over. James looked up, alarmed, his hand on Sirius’ shoulder: a warning, a reprimand.

“Have you any idea what this means? Do you have any idea of what’s going on?” he growled, the beast within him unleashed. 

I stood, alone in the compartment, with my suitcase, bewildered.

“No,” I replied honestly.



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