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Hermione stood staring at the red brick wall in front of her, surrounded by steam, buzzing conversations and whistling off in the distance. Her heart raced as she took a deep breath and watched a handful of Hogwarts students disappear before her eyes. She kept up an internal mantra: Deep breaths. You can do this. Deep breaths… After glancing around to make sure the coast was clear, she squared her shoulders and began walking briskly towards the entrance of Platform 9 ¾; she kept her eyes closed the entire time.

Suddenly she was aware of the more familiar, usually comforting sounds -- owls hooting, spells being cast, frogs croaking. Her body began to tremble as she took in the scene around her. The large scarlet steam engine sat on the tracks; for the first time in her life the sight did not fill her with the feeling of coming home. Instead, she was filled with trepidation, for the train looked more like transportation to a prison, rather than to the school she had loved. The students around her definitely looked like they were from the nineteen seventies. Most of the boys had hair as long as hers, a majority of the girls had long, sleek hair, parted neatly down the middle. Almost everyone had on bellbottom trousers or muggle and wizarding band t-shirts. She looked down at her maroon jumper and tan trousers and suddenly became quite self conscious.

Hermione shook her head in an attempt to pull herself together, then removed the trunk she had shrunk from her pocket. She took her wand out, returned the trunk to normal size and began to tow it towards the train; she hoped to find a compartment alone in order to work out some sort of plan.

As she struggled trying to store her trunk on the train, she heard a voice behind her that she immediately recognized. Hermione froze.

“Oi, Prongs. Fresh meat.”

Hermione shut her eyes and prayed he wasn’t speaking about her. She pleaded to any god or goddess who would listen that he would just pass her by.

“Not bad, Padfoot,” said another voice, which had a slight hint of familiarity to it, yet was somehow just off.

Bile slowly made it’s way up her throat as she heard footsteps approach. Unfortunately, she knew it was her they were discussing. Her heart raced.

“Well, let’s not deprive the poor thing of my presence,” she heard the first boy say, before she felt a light tap to her shoulder.

When Hermione turned around and looked at the two boys, who were grinning from ear to ear in front of her, it took every ounce of strength she had to remain upright. It was Sirius Black, and, who she instantly realized must have been, James Potter. She suddenly felt very dizzy.

“Hello there, beautiful,” Sirius spoke first and flashed a perfect set of straight white teeth. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you before.”

Hermione was speechless. Not only was she face to face with two people she had known to be dead, she wasn’t immune to the fact that a young Sirius was exceptionally handsome.

James and Sirius shared a concerned look in response to Hermione’s silence -- and, she assumed, the dumbfounded look she was sure was plastered all over her face.

“Erm,” James reached up and ruffled his hair. “You’re new, I’m assuming?” he asked.

Mentally scolding herself for acting so stupid, Hermione forced a smile onto her face and hoped it looked genuine.

“Y-yes,” she whispered. “Er -- a transfer from Ilvermorny.”

She felt the heat slowly rise up her cheeks and began to realize this would be far more difficult than she had anticipated.

James offered her his hand. “I’m James Potter,” he told her, though she was more than aware. He was the spitting image of Harry. Except for the eyes. James’ eyes were hazel, and obviously, he was missing the lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead that his son would come to have.

“Hermione Winters,” she said as she returned his handshake.

Sirius nudged James out of the way. “Lovely to meet you, Hermione Winters.” He took her hand delicately, “Sirius Black,” he winked. The blush on her cheeks only intensified.

As she was drawn into his grey eyes, and admired his long, wavy black hair, she had to remind herself that it was not appropriate to find Sirius Black attractive. He would be Harry’s godfather. An adult. Someone she had no business staring at, in that way.

Sirius seemed to have noticed and flashed her another smile. “Ilvermorny, you say? Why do you not have an American accent?”

Hermione winced. How silly were she and Dumbledore not to have factored that in? She had to think of something quickly.

“My family is from England. We moved to the United States when I was small, due to my father’s work,” she lied.

Not wanting to get more into details of her life, Hermione turned around and continued her battle with getting her trunk on the train. James and Sirius came up alongside her.

“Let us,” James offered, as he and Sirius each took an end of her trunk and hoisted it in with the others.

“Thank you.”

For a few seconds, the three all stood in an awkward silence. Hermione didn’t really know what to say to the two of them.

“Well…” she began. “I better go find a place to sit on the train. It was lovely meeting you both.”

Before waiting for a response, she turned and hurried her way inside, but it seemed James and Sirius were not letting this mysterious new girl go quite so easily.

“Winters!” Sirius called after her. Hermione turned around. “Why don’t you come sit with us?” he offered, gesturing towards a compartment he and James stood next to. “I promise we won’t bite...much,” he grinned.

Although she truly wanted to turn down his offer, she remembered what Dumbledore had said about befriending the boys. At the time she worried about how she would achieve that, but now it seemed that fate had simply offered her an answer, one she shouldn’t ignore.

“Alright. Thank you, Black.”

James and Sirius let Hermione enter first, and when they both came in, Sirius took the seat right next to her, and James sat across from the pair of them. James reached into his pocket and pulled out three small items.

“Chocolate frog, Winters?” he asked.

Hermione shook her head. “Oh. No thank you.” She was far too sick to her stomach to even considering eating anything.

James shrugged and tossed one to Sirius. “Suit yourself.”

Just then the compartment door opened and Hermione nearly fell out of her seat. Looking towards her, with obvious surprise in his honey colored eyes, was a teenaged Remus Lupin. Hermione was stunned at the complete difference between this boy standing before her and the man she had come to know. The most prominent difference was the absence of most of the scars on his face. Yes, he did still have quite a few, but not nearly as many as he had in her time. And there was something about his eyes that were different. They didn’t look as hollowed. They appeared to have more light in them -- hope.

“Remus!” Sirius exclaimed, “Come meet the new girl.”

Remus plopped down next to James and offered his hand to Hermione. “Hello there. I’m Remus, as you might have guessed from Sirius’ outburst,” he chuckled. “Remus Lupin.”

Hermione couldn’t help but to smile back. For some reason, she had felt more comfortable meeting Remus, as opposed to when she first encountered James and Sirius.

“Pleasure to meet you, Remus. I’m Hermione Winters.”

“Now I feel I should warn you,” Remus smirked as he sat back in his seat. “You should be careful around these two. They’re nowhere near as innocent as they’ll pretend to be.”

James and Sirius both wore identical looks of overly dramatic shock on their faces. Hermione giggled at their reaction, and had a pretty good feeling that Remus was right.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she laughed.

“James, did our dear Remus just tell the new girl that we would pretend to be innocent?” Sirius gasped.

James shook his head sadly. “I believe he did, mate. How could he ever speak of us in such a way?”

Remus rolled his eyes which only caused Hermione to laugh more. The three of them were truly something. She was already starting to like them all very much. They had an easy-going, friendly nature to them, that immediately began to make her feel a bit at ease.

As the boys caught up and recounted stories from their summer holiday, Hermione looked out the window of their compartment. She noticed a lot of the students slowing down when they saw her, and nudging one another as the looked in. Some were even rude enough to point right at her, fully aware that she was looking at them. She sat a little lower in her seat and tried to hide herself behind Sirius as much as she could.

It seemed the boys noticed Hermione’s discomfort and turned their direction towards their classmates. Two girls were standing in front of their compartment whispering back and forth, clearly talking about the random girl who was sitting with James, Sirius and Remus.

“Move along there,” James called out to them.

Both girls jumped and quickly scurried away. Hermione heard their giggling trailing behind.

“Don’t worry about them, Hermione,” Sirius told her. “No one will bother you as long as you’re with us.”

Knowing that Sirius was probably right, she gave him a small smile and thanked him.

“So what year are you in?” Remus asked, attempting to bring Hermione into the conversation.

“I’m in my seventh year,” she sighed. “It’ll be strange to finish my final year in a completely new environment.”

Hermione felt a lump in her throat, since she had not technically lied. Yes, she may be on her way to Hogwarts, but it was not the school she had known. She wasn’t even sure if the staff would be the same, let alone knowing that all of the students would be completely foreign to her. It truly did feel like she was attending a new school for her last year.

“That is completely understandable. But don’t worry, we’re all in our seventh year, as well. Hopefully you’ll be in Gryffindor with us,” Remus reassured her.

Hermione cocked an eyebrow and pretended to feign ignorance. “Gryffindor?” she asked. After all, she was supposed to be from a completely different school.

“Hogwarts has four houses,” Sirius took over and began to explain. “Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.”

At the mention of Slytherin, James snorted. “Slimy gits,” he mumbled.

Hermione tried to stifle a giggle at James’ comment.

“Well I hope I am in Gryffindor with you all, because you’ve been exceptionally kind to me so far,” she told them and honestly prayed the Sorting Hat would place her in Gryffindor once again in her life.

“Our daring, nerve and chivalry set us Gryffindors apart,” James joked with a wink.

The compartment door then opened; Hermione felt like the blood drained from her body. Staring at her with his mouth wide opened, was a short, pudgy, blond-haired boy with watery eyes. Peter Pettigrew.

“Alright there, Pete?” Sirius asked.

Peter nodded, but had not taken his eyes from Hermione. The question of, who is this, was clearly written all over his face.

“Peter, this is Hermione Winters,” Remus told him. “She’s a transfer from the States.”

Hermione gritted her teeth and balled her hands up tightly to keep them from shaking. She felt the hatred and the desire to slap him across his pink face coursing through her entire body.

“This little git is Peter Pettigrew,” Sirius said.

Peter reached his hand across to shake Hermione’s. At first she did not move, but realized she must remain civil. It would have looked peculiar for her to have taken to the other three boys so quickly, but flat out dismiss Peter without even knowing him. Slowly she reached forward and wrapped her hand in his clammy one. She felt as if she could have vomited.

“Pleasure,” she said shortly.

Peter’s eyes widened, he looked shocked at the less than warm introduction to Hermione. “Hi,” he squeaked.

As Hermione sat back in her seat, the whistle from the train sounded and it began to make it’s way from the station. Hermione’s heart rate picked up as they began moving, knowing it would not be much longer now until she would be beginning her mission here in the past. Soon she would be at Hogwarts and had no idea of what was to come. But for now, Hermione decided to put those worries aside, and just try to enjoy these few hours with James, Sirius and Remus as they laughed and rode their way through the countryside.

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