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 Not sure why this story has decided that this chapter must be called chapter seven, but it's supposed to be six. :) Which probably goes without saying but I'm just throwing it out there anyway.





The whispering in the corridor sounded like a swarm of bees, and Delphine and I caught a whiff of their conversation as they drifted by our compartment on the Hogwarts Express.

“It’s Harry Potter!”

“Harry Potter? The one who defeated You-Know-Who?”

“Are you sure it’s him?”

“Of course I’m bleedin’ sure! He’s got the scar and everything.”

“Holy Harpies!” Delphine yelped, turning to face me. “Maybe he’ll be Sorted into Hufflepuff.” She wrestled some hairpins out of her pocket and jammed two of them between her teeth, twisting her hair back into a knot. “Do my glasses look all right? I get a new pair every year. These ones are a bit trendier, I expect.” I didn’t notice any difference between last year’s glasses and the ones now sitting on her face, but I didn’t burst her bubble.

Harry Potter.

Even though my grandmother was a witch, my father was a Squib and my mum was a Muggle; therefore I didn’t know quite as much about the legendary Harry Potter as everyone else did. It did strike me as strange that someone as powerful as Harry Potter could possibly be younger than myself; for some reason, I had always envisioned him as someone who lived thirty or more years ago.

In my mind, he was either the smiling cherub from old photographs or a knightly sort of gentleman, riding around on a white horse and performing good deeds as the slayer of all things evil. The thought that I would be able to Apparate before the person who single-handedly finished off You-Know-Who before he could talk made me want to giggle.

“Ooh, let’s take a peek,” Delphine urged, clamping a hand around my wrist and squeezing hard. Curious myself, I allowed her to shuffle me down the train where a spry group of third years were gathered around a narrow glass window on a compartment door. Their heads were so stuffed over the space that it was a miracle they could see anything besides each other’s hair.

“I predict Ravenclaw,” Angelina Johnson told them dryly. “He’s got that look about him.”

“You’re just saying that because he wears glasses,” one of the Weasley twins chided.

“Kind of stringy looking,” Rachel Alexander added, smearing the blond fringe out of her eyes so that she could see better. “You know, I’m a bit disappointed. After all the ruckus I’ve heard about him, I half-expected the boy to be glowing or have a gilded crown permanently attached to his head or something.”

“He looks…normal,” Lee Jordan remarked, mirroring his friend’s disappointment. “Merlin, I hope he doesn’t get Sorted into Hufflepuff. That would be the embarrassment of Europe.”

“Hey,” I called out, wounded, but no one paid me any notice. They were all busy shoving at each other for a better angle.

“Maybe his Sorting will be a special case,” Second Weasley Twin suggested. “Maybe they’ll give him a sword and ask him to do something fancy with it.”

“You’re probably right,” Lee replied sagely. “I bet they’ll bring in a goblin and make him wrestle it for a sack of treasure.”

“Care to place some weight on that wager?” First Weasley Twin mused in a lowered voice so that the girls couldn’t overhear. “Because I reckon they’ll drop him into the Black Lake and see how well he fares with battling a hippocampus.”

“Two Galleons?” Lee murmured out of one corner of his mouth, eyes not moving from the window.

First Weasley bit his lip. “How ‘bout we make it two Sickles instead?”

“He’s going to be in Gryffindor for sure,” Second Weasley pressed on loudly, flicking Alicia in the ear so that she would move. “I heard that our House got both his parents. You know how the hat likes to keep it in the families.”

“Dream on,” Delphine told them snobbishly, pushing through with her shoulders of steel to get a good glimpse for herself. “Oh yes, he’s got Hufflepuff written all over him. His nose is exactly like a Hufflepuff’s usually is, you know.” She clapped her hands with glee, excited breath fogging up the window. “And he’s cute, too. Move over, Cedric Diggory. You’ve got some competition.”

I ducked under Delphine to see for myself, and rolled my eyes. The boy was small and scrawny, with dark, messy hair and knobbly knees. He looked more like someone who would build miniature models of the solar system in his spare time than a savior of the wizarding world.

I’d seen many different portraits in books about what expert scholars thought he would grow up to look like; he didn’t even remotely resemble the god with ebony curls and broad muscles who rode an iron-grey hippogriff everywhere. His mate, however, who was sitting right next to him, more so matched the descriptions in conflicting theories saying that Harry was supposed to be flame-haired. For a second I wondered if perhaps Ginger was Harry Potter.

Apparently, so did Delphine. “He’s exactly like I pictured,” she swooned. “All those freckles on his nose! And it looks like he has a spot of dirt on it, too…”

“Are you mad?” Second Weasley Twin laughed. His twin caught on and they doubled over each other against the doorframe, roaring with laughter. “That’s our brother Ron, you nutter!”

I snorted. “I don’t think Cedric’s got much to worry about,” I assured Delphine. “That kid looks like a strong wind might do him in.”

“Oh, hush,” Angelina reproached. “I think he’s adorable. Look at his little round glasses!”

Delphine, who was both mortified by publicly labeling the wrong boy as Harry Potter and also offended that anyone could suggest glasses were adorable, stomped back into our compartment and slammed the door shut behind her.

“Come on,” Rachel said to the others at last. “I would hate to be gawked at by a bunch of strangers. Let’s go put our robes on.”

They wandered off, and I slipped into the spot vacated by the snooping third years. I was always a bit nosy – definitely something I inherited from Gran – and couldn’t help ogling a bit before the rest of Hogwarts got the chance to fatten his head with showers of compliments and attention. This year was bound to be vastly different from last year, what with a celebrity strutting the corridors.

“Where’s his scar, though?” I whispered to myself, tilting my fingertips onto the glass. I felt rather like someone staring through an aquarium, tapping on the sides to make the fish scatter.

“His hair’s covering it,” a voice responded. It was Weasley Twin, hovering behind my left shoulder. “What? No judging. I’m curious, too.”

His hair was a bit longer this year, flipping out around his ears. He was taller, too. I watched his eyes light up on an object behind me, and I turned to see a plump, brown-haired boy I did not recognize slogging slowly through the corridor, eyes glued to the floor. “Trevor?” he whispered frantically. “Trevor?”

“Ahh,” Weasley Twin cackled, leaning close to me. “Fresh meat. Here’s your chance.”

“What do you mean?”

He nodded at the boy, waggling his eyebrows as if trying to convey something obvious. “Remember what I told you about tradition? You’re a second year now. It’s absolutely essential that you assert your second year dominance by locking that kid in a compartment.” He pointed at a compartment across the way from Harry Potter’s. The lights weren’t on and it seemed to be empty. “That there would be an excellent choice.”

My mouth dropped open. He patted me firmly on the back. “Go on! You know you want to. He’s practically begging for it, being all alone and vulnerable out here.”

“That was you last year!” I cried accusingly, folding my arms. “Which one are you, anyway? Which Weasley, I mean.”

“Fred. And don’t forget it.”

I narrowed my eyes. “I won’t.”

The brown-haired boy was edging nearer, hunching low to the floor and searching desperately with his eyes for something. Fred’s gaze slid to mine, and he raised an eyebrow. I dare you, his expression seemed to say.

“But how do I lock it?” I whispered. “I don’t have my wand on me.”

“Here, you can borrow mine.” He gradually unveiled a spiraling wand that looked like it might be rowan, and slipped it into my hand behind our backs. I felt myself smile. Oh, he was much too trusting, much too sure of himself.

In one quick movement, I jumped behind Fred and grasped his shoulders, shoving him into the empty compartment. “Hey!” he yelled. “What are you doing?” He made to turn around, but it was too late.

Colloportus.” The lock clicked, effectively sealing him inside with no hopes of escaping.

He gaped in astonishment, mouth hanging open. I laughed freely at his predicament, rapping on the window with his wand. “Well, would you look at that. Now you’re all locked up and no longer a danger to the poor first years. Gosh, I wish I could do something. I seem to have forgotten how to unlock doors…” I squinted. “What is it? Moraloha? Alomoraha?”

His eyes were wide, but Fred knew how to appreciate a good trick and he began to smile. “Okay, okay, I’ve learned my lesson. No more torturing first years. Now let me out.”

I studied him thoughtfully, using the tip of his wand to scratch my head. “You know, I really don’t think that’s going to happen. I think I like you better in there. Your voice is all muffled. Have you ever heard yourself? You and your brother are the loudest people in Hogwarts. It can be borderline obnoxious, especially when I’m trying to read the Prophet and you lot are pouring syrup down each other’s robes and whatnot.”

“Oh, don’t even talk to me about loud,” he debated through the door. “I’ve heard your friend Hornby. She’s like a bloody banshee.”

“What was that?” I cupped my ear. “Can’t quite hear you in there.”

“You’re bluffing. You’re not seriously going to leave me in here.”

I threw his wand up in the air and caught it again, pretending to analyze it. “Nice wand,” I gloated. “What’s the core, by the way – vampire fangs? Hippogriff feathers? Now that I think about it, I’m definitely getting a dragon heartstring vibe here – it’s all swishy and pliable, good for Charms work. I think I’ll keep it. Thanks for the offer.”

His eyes were as round as Fizzing Whizbees. I began to walk away, and he beat on the door. “Hey! That’s my wand! You’ve got my wand! Come on now, cut me a break.”

“Okay,” I relented. “If this first year here can perform the spell that lets you out, then you’re free.” I handed the wand to the round-faced boy who kept calling for ‘Trevor’. “Here you are, then. Good luck.” Just before sliding open the door to my own compartment, I glanced over my shoulder, still laughing at his flabbergasted face smashed up against the glass. “That’s for Delphine!”
 

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