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    My name is Maggie Carlott. This is the story of what happened my 6th year. The year that I discovered I was more than just a Hufflepuff... Yes, I know. What the bloody hell is a Hufflepuff? I’m a Hufflepuff, thank you very much. The fact that I am a particularly good finder is beside the point. I suppose to start I should tell you I was born in London, but my parents moved to the United States when I was 7. When I got my letter to Hogwarts my mother wasn’t all that thrilled. She’s a squib, see? And my father’s family has been attending Hogwarts for nearly seven generations. Hufflepuff has been our house forever.

    So my life at Hogwarts had been everything I had known since I was eleven. I had some friends in all of the houses. Well, pretty much. I occasionally talked to Greg Goyle. He didn’t hold the fact that my mother is a squib against me. She’s still, technically, a pureblood. Plus I practically saved his O.W.L. Potions grade. I don’t know why some people gave me grief for my mom being who she was. Or well… who she is.

    I should start at the beginning, shouldn’t I? I’m probably confusing some of you.

    My first day of 6th year started out as great as I wanted it to.

    There was a bit of a bump, though.

    I mean, before this year everyone could care less that my mom was a squib. Actually, now that I think about, not a lot of people actually knew that she was a squib. I never really told anyone. I didn’t think that it mattered. It was my mother’s business. I only knew because she was well… my mother.

    But I found out the hard way that it did matter. And that it mattered to some very powerful people.




    I was on the train. I had just given my trunk to the conductor and I was trying to find a compartment that I knew someone in, or Merlin forbid, an empty one, when I ran into Malfoy. Actually I bumped into him, and I fell to the floor.

    "Sorry, I didn’t see you." I mumbled as I attempted to get up. Greg reached to help me up but before I could grab his hand, Malfoy shoved his arm back.

    "Don’t help the blood traitor. You’ll never get the grime off your hands." He sneered. "Just like your mother, Carlott."

    "What?" I was confused; I didn’t know what he was talking about. "My mom’s a squib, but that’s it. But I’m obviously not. I mean I’ve been in your classes forever, you know that I can use a wand." I pulled myself up off the floor.

    He got in my face so fast I had to take a step backwards, coming against the wall. "That doesn’t mean anything, Carlott. Don’t think that it does. You are what your family is. And your mom is nothing but a blood traitor. Almost as bad as a mudblood."

    "You watch your mouth!" I gasped. "What is the matter with you?"

    "You’re the matter with me. I can’t stand filth like you. You’re disgusting. You’re almost as bad as Granger. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay out of my way." He slammed his hand into the wall beside my head, making me flinch.

    "What’s going on here?" I turned to see Ron Weasley, another 6th year—a Gryffindor. "Malfoy, are we going to have problems?"

    "No, Weasley." He spat. "No problem at all." Malfoy turned to me, a sneer on his face. "Right, Carlott?"

    I nodded my eyes close to the point of tears. I watched him walk off and I slid down the wall. I could feel my heart race as I tried to comprehend what just happened. I closed my eyes, attempting to calm down. When I opened them I turned to see Ron kneeling next to me.

    "Are you alright?” He asked. “You’re Maggie, right? You’re in Hufflepuff?”

    "I don’t see why there’s a problem with my mother being a squib, there never was before. I don’t get it." I rambled, not even acknowledging his question, looking over at the tall prefect beside me. "I mean, what’s the problem? I’m a student. Why does blood matter so much to the Slytherins?"

    "The problem is that Malfoy is an arse who doesn’t know what to do with his oversized ego." Ron put his arm around me, giving my shoulders a comforting squeeze. "Come on, you can sit with me and my friends. You look like you could use people who can make you feel welcome. I promise we don’t bite. Unless you suddenly turn into food. Then I make no promises."

    I let out a noise somewhere between a laugh and sniffle and he smiled at me. He stood up and extended his hand. I smiled back, reaching up as he helped me off the ground.

    "Hope you don’t mind a bunch of Gryffindors." He laughed. “We tend to be restless.”

    "Nah, they’re alright." I laughed. Now that I think about it, we didn’t let go of each other’s hands until we got to the compartment. He did let go once we reached the door, however. Inside were three other Gryffindors, all reputable names throughout the school. Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, and of course—Harry Potter.

    "Hey guys, this is Maggie, she’s going to ride with us, if that’s alright." Ron smiled. I sheepishly waved and couldn’t help feeling like my life was in this decision. “Malfoy cornered her and I don’t want him to cause any more problems before we even reach the bloody school.”

    "What happened?" Hermione asked, her brown hair pulled back away from her face and the most abhorrent looking orange… what I am assuming is a Tabby cat sitting in her lap. "Ugh. No bother, there’s no point in trying to figure out what the weasel does anymore. Hey, you were in my Ancient Runes Class last year and fourth year, right?"

    I nodded. "Yea, you and I accidentally did our research essays on the same culture. South Eastern Viking tribes of medieval England and their ties to pagan witchcraft."

    "Right! You and I got the only high scores in class. You’re quite smart for a Hufflepuff, no offense." She laughed. "But in all seriousness, I’d have pegged you for a Ravenclaw through and through. Oh! Please, sit!" She scooted over and patted the seat beside her.

    "My father was a Hufflepuff, and every family member before him. My mother’s family was Ravenclaw." I explained, sitting down.

    "Were Ravenclaw?" Harry spoke, and I turned to the famous teenager. His eyes were bright green behind his glasses and his hair hung haphazardly in his face, no doubt to cover the famous scar that everyone knew was there, regardless of his attempts to hide it.

    "My mother’s a Squib." I replied. "Everyone in her family before her was in Ravenclaw."

    "I didn’t know Squibs could have magical children." Harry said, leaning forward. "Is your dad a pureblood?"

    I nodded. "Almost as pure as they come. But my family hasn’t inbred to the point where they are like the Malfoys or anything."

    Neville laughed at that and I smiled at the shy boy. He had certainly grown since we first arrived at Hogwarts. He wasn’t the chubby boy hanging from the statue in broom training anymore. It was easy to see that he would be a heartbreaker soon enough. Ron sat beside me, putting me between him and Hermione. Which wasn’t a problem, I was having a great conversation with Hermione and I felt an odd sense of comfort with Ron beside me. We were all talking about anything and everything. It was like we knew each other forever. Ron and I really hit it off.

    Harry was quiet most of the time. He was writing. It looked like a letter. We all took turns going to the lavatory to change into our robes. When Ron and Hermione left for their prefect meeting, Neville went to go find Luna Lovegood. This left me alone with Harry. In a very quiet compartment.

    "Are you writing your family?" I asked him.

    "No, well sort of. He’s basically the only family I have left." Harry replied. "What about you? Are your parents in London?"

    I shook my head. "No, they live in New York City. I live in London with a…guardian. In other words, I live with a lawyer." I sighed. “It’s complicated.”

    "Why don’t they live with you?" He asked, setting his writing aside.

    "My dad wants to. But my mom… I think my mom is scared. She never believed that Voldemort actually died. And she doesn’t believe all the crap that the Daily Prophet spews out. Plus the fact that she’s a squib, she thinks… I don’t know I think she feels that she doesn’t belong. My mom hasn’t really talked to me since I got my letter 5 years ago." I looked up. "Oh, I’m sorry, I’m rambling."

    "No, no. It’s fine, really." He smiled. "I don’t mind. I like hearing about other people. I mean their families, you know?"

    I nodded. "I’m sure.” I looked at the teen across from me and I leaned closer, my elbows on my knees. “You know, Harry… I’m not going to pretend I know what it’s like to lose family, let alone my parents. I don’t know. I’m not sure if you like people saying sorry, but I’m sorry."

    "Thanks." He smiled. "I’m glad you were honest about that."

    I smiled back. We chatted for a while, about everything. He’s a really cool guy, and it’s understandable why he’s so quiet and reserved. Harry’s been through hell and back. I never fully understood what all he had been through. I had asked him about what happened during the Triwizard Tournament when there was a knock at the door.

    Back from their prefect meeting the other Gryffindors walked in and Ron sat beside me, while Hermione sat across from me, with Harry. We talked some more and I felt like I had some friends this year. The fact that they were in a different house didn’t seem to matter. I mean, it didn’t seem to matter to me or to them.

    Ron put his arm around me, and unconsciously, I leaned into him. He felt warm beside me and I felt safe. Welcomed. I didn’t have to worry about their thoughts of me. We stayed that way for most of the train ride. It started raining pretty hard outside and I was worried that we were going to be late. I was right. We had to slow the train down because the tracks were too wet and we didn’t want to risk the brakes sliding on the tracks.

    Harry and Hermione went to go find the trolley after the famous boy’s stomach tried to serenade us with the song of Hungry Harry and Ron and I just sat in the compartment, watching the rain on the glass. He gently stroked my upper arm and I shifted against him.

    "Am I making you uncomfortable?" He asked. I looked up at him and shook my head.

    "Quite the opposite, actually. I don’t know why but Malfoy seriously freaked me out." I sighed, leaning closer to him, watching the rain against the window. “But for some reason I don’t feel freaked out anymore. I feel safe around you guys.”

    "I’m wondering why I haven’t really talked to you before. I mean, we seem to get along really well." Ron smiled. I nodded, looking out the window again when I heard him clear his throat a little bit, as if to work up the courage to ask his next question. "W-Would you like to … maybe go to Hogsmeade with me sometime?"

    "Sure." I smiled. " I’d really like that."

    "Brilliant." He grinned.

    The train lurched forward until we reached the school. We were a little late but not by much, really. The students departed from the train and the first years were led to the lake, as they had been every year.

    Walking to the carriages is the last thing I look forward to in my return to school each year. I hate the Thestrals. They are frightening and they remind me constantly of death. But then again, that’s the only way that you can see them. So I suppose it makes sense that I am made uncomfortable by the notion of death.



    “You can see them?” Harry asked.




    I nodded. “Living in New York when I was little… I wasn’t exactly sheltered.”


    "You don’t have to be scared of them." Ron whispered in my ear. "They won’t hurt you." He helped me into the carriage.

    "They’re just kind of freaky looking, you know?" I replied, taking a seat beside Hermione.

    Sitting beside me he grabbed my hand and squeezed. "It’ll be alright." I smiled.

    We made it up to the castle and Ron walked me inside. Once we got to the Great Hall we noticed the long banquet tables were gone. In their places were several large circular tables, much like the Yule Ball set up from fourth year.

    "Please, sit anywhere. Regardless of house. However, there must be at least one member of each house at a table. Leave four seats for a first year of each house. All first years, please proceed to the front to be sorted." Professor McGonagall stood at the staff table at the front of the Hall. "If there are students standing, we shall arrange the seating."

    "Sit with us, Maggie!" Hermione smiled, walking towards a table with Harry. Ron sat next to me, and I felt like I was amongst true friends. We had two Slytherins at our table, Greg Goyle and a second year girl I didn’t recognize. My friend Sarah from Hufflepuff, and her brother Thomas. Luna Lovegood from Ravenclaw, and then myself, Harry, Ron and Hermione. The first years who sat with us were very quiet; there was a young girl who was now a Gryffindor, and three boys with the other houses.




    Dumbledore rose to the Podium, an aura of regality around him, as had always been.




    “This year we shall start a new tradition. One I hope will reign through Hogwarts for many generations.” He removed his glasses and walked around the podium.




    “When I was a young boy, many many years ago, I looked around the Great Hall of this school. I noticed something. Something that I still notice today. Separation. Inequality. Outcasting. I’m tired of it, children. I am very tired of it. This is a school where we teach you how to harness your magical ability, but above all this is a school. Schools teach you so much more than the words between pages in a book, or spells and potions to be memorized. We teach you the meaning of friendship and inclusion.”




    I looked around and noticed that many of the students were paying attention now. Then my eyes caught the stare of one Slytherin in particular. His cold grey eyes bore into mine and his slicked back blonde hair glistened in the candlelight. I felt a shiver down my spine until I felt a hand on my arm, I looked beside me to see Ron’s gaze had followed mine across the hall.




    “There should never be a reason that we are so distanced from each other, again.” Dumbledore sighed. “I know that the houses have always competed against one another for the House Cup. That will still be a tradition amongst us. But we can’t constantly be in a state of competition.” The Headmaster paced between the tables, looking amongst the students who sat before him. “Competition leads to enemies. The founders of this school wanted its doors to be opened in the idea that camaraderie and friendship is as powerful as the magic within us all. And who knows, it could even be more powerful than all of our magic combined.”




    He smiled, looking at a group of first years at a table who were watching intently. “But enough of this, I am sure many of you are hungry. Let the feast begin!” And with a wave of his hand the tables filled with food and drinks aplenty for everyone.




    “That was a strange speech, don’t you think?” Harry asked, loading his plate with various dishes. “It seems there’s always a warning with Dumbledore. Friendship? Camaraderie? What is the point of all that rubbish.”




    “Rubbish?” I looked over at him. “Is it rubbish to think that friendship is more powerful than enemies? I think it’s a noble thing to bring up, especially because of how distanced the houses have become since…” I glanced at the first years across the table from me. “You-Know-Who has officially returned.”




    The first year Slytherin scoffed and I stared across the table at him. “Do you have something to add?” I asked. “My name is Maggie. You are?”




    “I’m William Odenton. Does it really matter what the old bat says? No one is going to listen to him. He’s just some barmy old coot who wants everyone to get along with fuzzy thoughts of friendship. No thanks.” He sneered. “I don’t see what’s in it for me.”




    “Well, William,” Hermione piped in. “For starters, the more friends you have the more help you’ll have with schoolwork. And trust me, it’s best to have friends who know how to study.”




    “You’re Granger, aren’t you?” William asked, poking at something on his plate. “I can tell, my cousins warned me about the bushy haired mud-“




    “You choose your words carefully, Mr. Odenton.” I frowned. “It’s best to not upset upperclassmen on your first day. Especially not me.”




    “Or what? You’ll take points from me. It’s not like you’re a prefect.”




    “No.” I smiled, looking at Hermione. “But she is.”




    My friend smiled back and reached into her cloak to find a demerit pad and wrote up a slip. “I’ll make sure this gets to Professor Snape.”




    “What for?!” He gasped.




    “Oh, for using the derogatory term for Muggleborn. I believe it comes to five points docked now. Isn’t that what they said at the meeting, ‘Mione?” Ron laughed. “I suggested ten, but with the Slytherins tossing it left and right it shouldn’t take too long to add up.”




    William slumped in his chair and resumed poking at his food.




    Looking around at my friends I thought that this year might turn out fun, maybe even enjoyable. With more fun memories than fears.




    But I was wrong.


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