“I can’t believe I’m going to Hogwarts!” I yelled, grinning up at my mother, who was diligently holding my adorable white barn owl and attracting the stares of more than a few onlookers. She absently tucked a black curl behind her ear.
“Lizzi, hon’, I know – it’s amazing, and it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of,” she said, biting her lip. “Oh, but it’s your sixth year already. I missed everything. My baby’s almost all grown up, now!”
“Mum,” I said, laughing, “I’m only fifteen – I skipped a year, remember? And what are you talking about? I’ve been home every summer.”
The strangest look passed over my mother’s face for a second, but it disappeared instantaneously. I sighed. I was most likely imagining things again.
“You’ll understand when you are a mother,” she said, squeezing my hand. I nodded, not voicing the opinion that I would prefer not to be a mother, at this point, or even get married. Think of the commitment it takes, and it’s not nearly as appealing anymore.
“Alright. So, Platform 9 ¾...where would that be?”
“Right here, sweetie,” my mother said, pointing to a large, brick, and completely ordinary pillar between Stations 9 and 10. “I am a Hogwarts alumnus, after all.”
“I guess,” I said, wrapping my arms around her and hugging her. “Love you, Mum. I’ll see you Christmas, promise!”
“Bye, Lizzi,” she said, tearing up. I watched a silver tear slide down her cheek and held her more tightly. I couldn’t stand to see my mother upset.
“Bye!” I called, letting go and recklessly plunging towards the pillar, taking things at a run. I was at the start of my new life now, going to my new school where I’d be awesome and beautiful and cool...not. It was alright, though. I didn’t care; I was more of a study-a-holic kind.
The strangest feeling accosted me as I rushed through the transcendent pillar with a rush of adrenaline, as if I’d passed a border I was destined to pass. I grinned; this was where I belonged, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and most definitely not Salem High, high school nightmare for any adolescent witch or wizard who:
a) Had anything other than one piece of fruit for lunch
b) Shopped at any place other than Aeromagic, American Owl, Hexerzombie and Witch, or Spellister.
c) Actually studied at school...I mean, who studies at a school? (Yeah, thickheads, that was a little something called sarcasm.)
d) Didn’t have platinum blonde hair that was straight
e) Read more than price tags
And I could go on, and on, and on, and on with the list, but I won’t. Basically, since I fit into every misfit category there was, Salem High was pretty much hell for me. That was one thing I would not be missing about life in the U.S. of the A.
Turning, I saw steam blowing, and only a second later, a huge red and black train pulled into the lot. I stared; it seemed too grand to be real. On the side, the words Hogwarts Express were emblazoned in big letters. Oh my God. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to Hogwarts! The dream of a lifetime was coming true.
I literally ran onto the train, bouncing up the steps one by one and smiling like an idiot all the way. I was possibly the first one on the train, so I picked the compartment with the largest window and stowed my trunk. I was on my way to becoming a great witch! I was drunk on excitement, and I leaned against the window, wishing that the train would just start already.
I don’t know exactly how it happened, but it seemed to be that I’d fallen asleep.
“Oi!” yelled an annoyed voice, stomping towards my compartment. “Every frickin’ one is full!”
“Not this one,” said another, with a heavy sigh. She – I thought it was a female voice – shoved the compartment door open with a bang. I looked up. Standing at the door was a very pretty brown-haired girl that looked extremely surprised to see me.
“Hullo,” I said, waving. I smiled at her invitingly. She looked about my age, and had a pixie-like face: sharp chin, high cheekbones, and cat eyes.
“Hi,” she said, hesitantly. “May we sit here?”
“Sure, no problem,” I said, sliding my purse over to make room on my bench. “I’m Lizzi, Lizzi Leilani.”
“Delilah Patil, and this is my cousin, Thomas Smithers,” she introduced, pointing to a sullen-looking youth of about thirteen or so. “Thomas, say hi to Lizzi.”
“Hi,” he said stiffly, and sat down next to his relative. I gave him a small smile as well.
“So Lizzi, what year are you in? I don’t think I’ve seen you around lately,” said Delilah, twirling a strand of her honey colored hair.
“Oh, I’m new,” I replied with a jolt. “I went to school in the States, Salem High, but I was born here. My mum decided to take me back to complete my education at Hogwarts just like she did.”
“The States? That’s pretty awesome!” Delilah exclaimed. “I have an uncle there. He works for the government there.”
“Not really, it kind of sucked,” I said, shrugging. “But I guess living there makes it much less exciting. What year are you in, then?”
“Sixth year Ravenclaw,” she said, extending a hand. “Hope that’s the house you end up in.”
“I think my mum was in Gryffindor,” I said, nodding and clasping the offered limb. “Ravenclaw sounds awesome, though.”
“It is. Y’know, classes are supposed to be really different this year. We’ve got a new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher.”
“Really? Who?” I asked, having no clue who the previous teacher was.
“I have no idea,” she said, frowning. “It’s a pretty well guarded secret, as far as they go. I think it’s someone important, though.”
I nodded like I knew what she was talking about. “So, who’s your favorite celebrity?”
“Um...” she blushed bright red, and then leaned in as if to whisper a phenomenal secret. “Promise you won’t tell?”
“Ron Weasley,” she muttered, taking a tentative glance at her younger cousin who was rather determinedly ignoring us. “I love Harry Potter and all, but Ron’s into the Chudley Cannons. That’s, like, fifty bazillion bonus points in my estimates.”
“Falcon pride here, so I have to go with Potter for playing for ‘em,” I contradicted her. “But he’s pretty attractive too.”
Delilah giggled. “It seems like I’m not the only one with a taste for older men,” she said, winking roguishly at me. I snickered, and Thomas passed us a half irritated, half disgusted look.
“Shut up, Del,” he said, chucking a wad of paper at Delilah. She rolled her eyes.
“You shut up, Tom.”
Sticking his nose up in the air in a movement strangely reminiscent of a wet cat, he turned away to watch the trees go by once more.
“Don’t mind him, he’s just a spoilsport,” said Delilah, hefting the crumpled paper and miming a throwing motion when Tom wasn’t look. I giggled. It seemed like I had made a friend on my first day of school.
I nervously stepped into one of the carriages that were drawn by horse-like, skeletal creatures. “What are those?” I hissed in Delilah’s ear. She jumped in surprise, her robes billowing around her in the wind.
“Thestrals, but...you can see them?”
“Of course I can,” I snapped testily. “I’m not blind.”
Delilah looked affronted. “Lizzi, you can only see thestrals if you’ve seen someone die,” she explained, giving me an odd look.
That was strange. I didn’t remember seeing anyone die before, but maybe a great grandmother or something of mine had dropped when I was a baby. I shrugged.
“Can you see them, then?”
Delilah sighed, her face closing off. She tucked her hair behind her ear. “Yeah.”
“Oh.” It was an insensitive question. I was being stupid again. “Sorry.”
We sat in an awkward silence as the carriage rattled forward.
Suddenly, everything in front of me lit up in a blinding glow, and I saw it. The school. It was a huge, huge castle with a thousand glowing spires, mountainous towers, and it was built of grey stone. It was the most beautiful and thrilling sight I’d ever had.
“Wow,” I breathed.
Delilah gave me a small smile. “I think that every time I see it at night, too. It looks like one big star of light, doesn’t it? This is the highlight of my year.”
“It’s – it’s amazing.”
“I know. This is the best place in the world. You won’t be disappointed.” And with that, we slipped out of the carriage and walked towards the place that would be our home soon.
At the door, a rather handsome middle-aged man with dark hair and spectacles greeted us. I recognized him immediately.
“Is that Neville Longbottom?”
“Yeah,” said Delilah. “He’s my favorite teacher. He teaches Herbology, which is a pretty boring subject, but he does it brilliantly.”
“Welcome back! To the Great Hall, please,” he said, gesturing for us to move. For the briefest time, our eyes met, and I could’ve sworn his face was white as a ghost. It was probably the light, I reassured myself. Just a trick of the light.
As I passed him, he tapped me on the shoulder. “I haven’t seen you around before,” he said, smiling kindly.
“I’m new,” I explained. “My mother wanted me to transfer from Salem High to here.”
“Good heavens, is that in the States?”
“Yeah,” I replied, not a little bit sheepish. My new professor laughed.
“Hogwarts hasn’t had a transfer for a very, very long time. If I may, did your mother graduate from Hogwarts?”
“She did,” I said proudly.
“I was a bit shocked to see you,” Professor Longbottom admitted. “You’re the spitting image of her.”
“You knew her?”
“I did. She was in my last year at Hogwarts,” he said, a dreamy look gathering in his eye as he reminisced about times long past. “In fact, we were friends, of a sort. Same house, same year...but I digress. You’ll have to go with the first years to be sorted.” He was all business again. I was stunned and my head was whirling. My mother had been friends with Neville Longbottom? Then she must’ve known Harry Potter...
Why didn’t she ever tell me?
“Thanks, sir,” I said, and moved towards the first years, feeling like a giant in their wake. He winked at me encouragingly, and I nodded. We walked in a single file line, and I could tell I was getting some looks, with my height and all.
As I strode into the Great Hall, head high, chin up, although I was as nervous as I’d been in my life, I noticed that in the center of the room was a dusty stool and an old, patched up hat. I heard some of the first years muttering and whispering next to me.
“My brother said I’d have to fight a troll!” exclaimed a red haired little boy. His blonde friend snorted.
“You listened to him?”
“Well, yeah,” he admitted, chagrined. I allowed a small smile of amusement to show on my face. The stars in the enchanted ceiling – after all, I had read Hogwarts, a History. I’m a bit of a bookworm. It doesn’t show, right? – made possibly the most magnificent sight I’ve ever seen.
Hogwarts was so grand, in comparison to boring old Salem High.
“Welcome, students!” said a tall, wizened old lady, standing up. Her hair was pulled into a tight bun, and her stern demeanor immediately warned me that she was not someone to cross. “Settle right into your seats...and let the Sorting commence!”
Professor Longbottom gave all of us a cheerful grin as he begin reading the list.
Joseph Abbot, a thin boy with lanky hair, slouched over to the stool. His expression was nothing less than terrified. Slowly, he placed the hat on his head as if he was meeting his doom.
Within half a minute, the hat screamed, “HUFFLEPUFF!”
A relieved grin on his face, he hopped off to join the clapping and cheering Hufflepuff table.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat shouted again.
“Botanza, Corey!” A sullen looking youth hopped on the chair.
The table sheathed in green and silver burst into applause as their first new member joined the ranks. A knot was quickly forming in my stomach. What if I was in...Slytherin? I didn’t really mind the other houses, that much. I sort of wanted to be in Gryffindor, like my mother, but I definitely wasn’t brave. Clever, however, I probably could do.
On and on it went. The red-headed boy, Delacour-Weasley, Cahill was made the first Gryffindor, much to his new House’s joy.
Finally, Zabini, Kara, was the last person to be sorted. I felt the butterflies turning into frogs. What about me?
Professor Longbottom nodded towards me. Slowly, I stood up. Confidence, I reminded myself, but it was a failed attempt. My knees were shaking under my robes. Delilah waved at me and gave me a thumbs-up from Ravenclaw table.
“Students, this is Alyssa Leilani. She’s a sixth year student this year. She just transferred from Salem High in Massachusetts.”
The school began to murmur, their voices rising in a hubbub. My eyes darted around nervously to rest, as if magnetized, on a pair of emerald green ones. My voice caught in my throat, and I tore my eyes away. I shouldn’t stare.
Professor Longbottom cleared his throat, instantly silencing the class. “Miss Leilani, is there anything you’d like to add?”
“No, sir,” I stammered, and climbed onto the stool. Closing my eyes, I jammed the head on my head before I threw up.
Oh. A tiny voice in the back of my head was whispering to me now. Clever, this one is. Not without talent, either...a neat ambition there. You have your mother's bravery... Where on Earth am I going to put you?
Not Slytherin, I prayed loudly. I didn’t want to go where all the dark wizards had gone, instinctively. I had hated the house on sight. Gripping the side of the stool tighter, I though again, Not Slytherin.
Not Slytherin, eh? Well, then, better be...
“RAVENCLAW!” the hat bellowed, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Ravenclaw table erupt into cheers. Delilah was standing up and screaming with delight.
At least I wasn’t in Slytherin. I grinned, and walked towards my new house.
The minute I reached the table, my new best friend gave me a tight hug. “I’m so glad you’re in Ravenclaw, Lizzi!” she squealed. “I knew you had it in you.”
A smiling, dark-haired, and pretty darn good-looking boy that looked to be around my own age with a prefect badge held out a hand. “Jason Wells, sixth year, glad to make your acquaintance.” I clasped it. He had a firm, solid grip, I noted, then shook my head. I was so not crushing on him.
“Lizzi Leilani,” I introduced myself. “I know I have a catchy name.”
“You do,” he said, smiling. I felt myself blush. The girl standing next to him a-hemmed.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your love nest here,” she said, making me go even redder. “But I’m Jennifer Wells, his twin sister.”
“Hi,” I said.
Delilah pulled me over to a plump, sandy-haired girl. “Lizzi, this is Yelena,” she said, pointing at the girl. “Yelena, Lizzi.”
“Hi,” she grunted before going back to her food. Delilah gave me an apologetic shrug.
“She’s alright, when she doesn’t have food. There’re about ten people in our house and year right now, including you and me. You’ve met the twins and Yelena already. That’s Pansy Corner and Sam Chase snogging over there, they’ve been together for, like, ages.”
I looked up to see a tall and willowy platinum blonde and two shorter, Barbie-like brunettes.
“That,” Delilah said, noticing where I was looking, “is Sabrina Taylor and her two puppets, Jillian Clymer and Sara Reese. She’s the most popular girl in Ravenclaw house, and also the only one that’s pure evil. You should take my advice and stay out of her way.”
I nodded. I’d had more than enough experience with her kind at Salem High. Then, I watched her walk over to the most gorgeous boy I’d ever laid eyes on. I felt like swooning.
He was tall, and not exactly hunky, but he was still muscular. You could see his well defined chest muscles even through his school uniform. A pair of spectacles rested on his nose, but they didn’t make him look nerdy at all, merely intelligent. His face was so perfect it might as well have been chiseled by a master sculptor, and it fit perfectly with his artfully mussed up black hair.
He was leaning arrogantly against the wall, arms crossed, expression bored, as if he was the most important person in the world. I decided then I didn’t like him. The air between us crackled and fizzed, and I wondered if he felt it too. It was a little weird, and I suddenly felt the urge to grab him and kiss the daylights out of him. I shook my head; I’d never even kissed a guy before!
“Who’s that boy,” or more likely sex god, although I’d rather die than be caught saying that, “she’s talking to?” I wondered. As soon as the words left my mouth, he turned to look at me.
Shit. You could recognize those deep green eyes anywhere. Energy sizzled between us as our eyes met. I tore my eyes away quickly, feeling very hot all of a sudden. Shit. Why the hell did I have to be attracted to him?
Delilah gave him a nervous glance.
“That’s Albus Potter,” she said quietly. “He, Rose Weasley, Lily Potter, and Scorpius Malfoy are the royalty at Hogwarts, and not only because of their parents. They’re all brilliant at magic and amazingly good-looking.” I watched a tall, handsome boy that was almost on par with Albus Potter stride next to him as if he owned the world, assuming the same proud pose.
The two most beautiful girls I’d ever seen followed him. They were both redheads, although the older one, who I presumed was Rose Weasley, had hair in a lighter shade than her cousin, whose own locks were so dark they were almost black.
“They’re the Gryffindor Quartet. Albus, Rose, and Scorpius are all in sixth year, and Lily’s in fourth.” Delilah cast a contemptuous glance at Sabrina Taylor. “She’s been trying to get her hooks into Albus for the last two years. They dated for a month or two, but they broke up really quickly.”
“What was that?” snapped an irate looking Sabrina Taylor in our direction. I averted my eyes. “Did you say my name, Mudblood?”
I saw Delilah’s face whiten. Anger boiled up inside me. My mother had always hated the idea of blood purity, being a halfblood herself. I wasn’t so into it either, and no one, no one, was going to call my friend a Mudblood.
“Shut up,” I snapped back, jumping to my friend’s defense and ignoring Delilah’s stunned look. Sabrina’s grey eyes raked over me in surprise.
“And who would you be?” she asked, venom dripping from her honey smooth voice. Although my heartbeat was racing, I steeled myself reflexively. Wow. I didn’t realize I had this skill.
“Alyssa Leilani,” I said, sweetly. “And I’m just as glad to meet you as you are to meet me.”
Her lips tightened into a thin line, and she had a murderous expression on her face. “Well, well, the Yankee and the Mudblood together. How...wonderful.”
“Actually, I lived here until I was ten,” I said, barely keeping my temper in check. I knew that I had two spots of red blooming on my cheeks, but I didn’t care. “That would make me just as English as you are...if not more so. I’ve always had a gift for languages, and I can hear a bit of Irish in yours.”
She flushed red, and her two clones let out titters of surprise. Ha! I bet she didn’t make that knowledge public.
“Go die in a hole, freaks,” she hissed, her hand reaching for her wand. Just then, a woman with long, silvery blonde hair and large spectacles glided over.
“Everything’s alright here, I hope?” It wasn’t really a question.
“Yes, Professor Scamander,” Sabrina and Delilah said at the same time. I dropped my eyes and mumbled, “Yes, ma’am.”
“Good, good,” she said cheerily, and waltzed away again. Sabrina shot me one more death glare before turning to Albus Potter again.
I’d forgotten about him. He’d been watching the whole time, I realized, and my face flamed red. I’d had a catfight with Sabrina Taylor in front of the entire table, and it was only my first day here!
He was staring at me, looking faintly surprised and very amused. The arrogant bastard was actually enjoying this!
I steadfastly ignored him. “Delilah, could you please pass me the treacle tarts?”
“Sure,” she said. She grinned. “Thanks for standing up for me to that bitch.”
“No problem,” I said, giggling. Whispering, I confided in a mock serious tone, “My old school was practically a kennel. I’ve had plenty of experience.”
She laughed, then turned her gaze to Albus Potter, who was walking away with Sabrina on his heels, very much like a lapdog. We snickered together.
Suddenly, the twins gave a loud whoop together, and the table started clapping again.
“Nice one, Leilani,” said Jason, and even Yelena gave me a wide grin. Pansy Corner, a short, petite girl with a very kind face smiled at me, having broke apart from Sam Chase long enough to watch our exchange. Sam clapped me on the back like an old friend.
“I can’t say I’ve ever been more impressed in my life, Leilani,” he said. I went pink from the roots of my hair to my toes at their praise. I didn’t usually fight with people, but the Mudblood remark had really set me off.
A tall, freckled seventh year came over. I had to stifle a gasp. What was with Hogwarts and its wide assortment of extremely good-looking guys? (And, I supposed, girls, to be fair.) “Alex Kimball,” he said, and I smiled nervously at him. Delilah gave me a knowing look, and I shot her a “be-quiet” stare.
Okay, so maybe, maybe I liked him, a little bit. Whatever. I guessed he was the type of guy I would have dated, if I could ever get a guy to show any interest in me, that was. The cute, steady type.
“Lizzi Leilani,” I replied, wishing my hair wasn’t so frizzy at the moment.
“Pleasure,” he said. “Welcome to Hogwarts, and if you need help with your studies or anything, just let me know, ‘kay?”
“Sure, thanks,” I stuttered, trying to keep my voice even. He wanted to help me with schoolwork!
He nodded at me and disappeared into the crowd. Twenty yards away, I saw Albus Potter’s knuckles turn white. I frowned; did Sabrina say anything to offend him?
Oh, well. None of my business, anyway.
“Alex Kimball talked to you,” snickered Delilah.
“Does she protest too much?” she said to the air. I punched her lightly on the arm.
“None of your business, Patil.”
“Alright, alright,” she said, holding up her hands. “You have good taste in guys, by the way.”
I ignored her. “C’mon, I’m exhausted. Let’s go up to the dorms and sleep.”
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