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I was woken up by birds chirping outside my window. That may sound peaceful, but it's really not when you consider that those same birds had woken me up every morning that summer at the break of dawn. On the plus side, I could now say from experience that the sunrises here in England were quite beautiful.


I rolled over and pushed myself up onto my elbows. Weak sunlight seeped through the curtains and cast a dim light on the trunk that sat open by the door to my room. My school robes were folded neatly inside next to books and quills and parchment. I groaned and flopped back onto the bed, squeezing my eyes shut. I was dreading the train ride. I was dreading the school year. Nothing about the day ahead of me seemed appealing.

I lay there in bed for almost an hour, mentally prepping myself for the day. I heard my mother wake up and begin wandering around the house, cooking breakfast, checking the mail, getting dressed. After a deep breath, I kicked off the blankets and climbed out of bed.

“Tja mamma,” I said as I stepped into the kitchen. “What’s breakfast?”

“Pancakes,” she said.

I smiled, dropping into a chair at the table. “Perfekt.”

“Är du redo att lämna skolan?”*

I sighed. “Ja mamma.”

I thought about the mostly packed trunk in my room. “I’m mostly ready to leave.”

“Go,” Mamma said, waving her spatula at me. “Pack.”

I sighed again, sliding out of my chair and climbing back up the stairs. Up in my room, I started grabbing the things I hadn’t packed yet. Books, makeup, hairbrush. I quickly dressed myself in Muggle clothing for the trip to the train station before going back downstairs for breakfast.

Mamma handed me a plate of pancakes. “You’ll need to take a car to the station. I can’t take you today.”

“Is this the new job?” I asked.

“Ja,” she said, sliding into the chair next to mine.

“Did you already call a taxi for me?”

“Ja, Asta,” she said, shooting me a look.

“Bara kollar,” I said, waving my fork.**

We ate in silence for a few minutes. Finally Mamma set her fork down and delicately patted her lips with a napkin.

“You are not to get in trouble this year,” she said.

“Yes mamma.”

“No fighting.”

“Yes mamma.”

“Keep your wand to yourself.”

“Mamma--”

“Asta.” She gave me a warning look.

“Yes mamma.”

“We have a fresh start here. I want you to be safe. I want you to be happy. And I don’t want to have to move again.”

I nodded. “Ja mamma.”

There was a knock at the door. “That will be the taxi driver. Go get your things.”

I went up the stairs again, grabbed my trunk and a fur coat to pull over my blouse and stuffed my wand in my pocket. When I finally made my way down stairs with the much too heavy trunk, I saw the taxi driver staring at my mother in a sort of silent awe. I smirked. Muggles always stared.

“Jag älskar dig Asta,” my mother said, kissing me on the cheek. “Jag saknar dig.”

“Jag älskar dig mamma,” I replied, kissing her back.***

I turned to the taxi driver and looked from him to my trunk pointedly. He coughed, flustered, and started dragging my trunk out to his car.

“Hej då mamma,” I said giving her a final hug.****

I shut the door behind me and the driver opened my door. The inside of his taxi smelled a bit off so I held my breath as I slid inside.

“Was that your sister?” the driver asked as we started to drive off.

“No.” I stared out the window.

“Oh. You look a lot alike.”

“Yes.”

“Where are you from?”

“Sweden.”

“I heard Swedish girls were very beautiful,” he said, smiling at me in the mirror. “I heard correctly didn’t I?”

“Just drive,” I said.

“Yes ma’am,” he said meekly, hunkering down in his seat.

The drive to the train station was just long enough to for the smell of the taxi to work its way into the fur of my coat. I tucked my nose into my collar and tried not to inhale. The driver stopped right in front of the doors to let me out, opening my door for me and helping me with my trunk. I smiled politely at him and handed him the money. He took it wordlessly, not taking his eyes away from my face. I stepped away without another word.

Another man, about twenty years old and probably off to uni, ran over eagerly to help me with my trunk. He loaded it on a trolley and started pushing towards my platform.

“You’re really beautiful,” he said as we stepped through the doors.

“Thank you,” I said graciously.

“Are you going off to school?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Where do you go?” he pressed. “I went to Smeltings.”

I hesitated. “Cheltenham.”

“Really? That’s a really good school. What’re you studying?”

I hesitated again, cursing silently. “Maths?”

“That’s a great subject,” the man said eagerly. “Really useful. Do you know where you want to go after? What university?”

“This is my platform,” I said quickly.

“Alright,” he said. He didn’t move.

I arched my eyebrows at him.

“Do you think I could get your number?” he asked breathlessly.

I frowned. “My number?”

“Your phone number,” he clarified. “So maybe we can talk during term time?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I smiled widely at him like I was giving him a gift instead of trying to avoid him.

He nodded, too mesmerised by my smile to be upset. “Okay, sure.”

He still didn’t move.

“You can go now,” I said.

“Right, right,” he said, nodding. “Sure.”

I nodded back at him, slightly amused. He finally wandered off, shooting looks over his shoulder as he went. I stifled a smile as he walked into a group of tourists before glancing away from him and looking around the platform.

It was packed with Muggles, of course. Most of them staring at me. I tightened my grip on my trolley. I’d been told in a letter how to get onto the platform, so I wasn’t worried by the fact that I couldn’t see the sign for Platform 9 ¾, I was worried about how I could get onto the platform without anyone noticing. There were enough people staring that I knew it could cause a bit of trouble if I just ran headfirst into a wall.

I’d learned over the years that people would pay less attention to me if I wasn’t alone, unless of course the person I was with was my mother. So I looked around for a wizarding family I could use.

Eventually, the perfect family appeared: three people, the son about twelve or thirteen years old with an owl cage on top of his trolley and a broomstick strapped to side. Subtle. I felt eyes slide off me as I approached them.

“Hi,” I said, smiling sweetly at the parents. I thickened my accent a little bit. “Do you think you could help me?”

“Sure,” the father said quickly. “What do you need?”

“Well, I’m new at --” I paused to look pointedly at the boy’s trolley “-- the school this year, and I forget how to get to the platform.”

“Oh, well you just run right into that platform divider there, between nine and ten,” the mother said, smiling at me.

“Can you show me?” I asked with another smile.

“Of course,” the father said.

“Darling, why don’t you go ahead with Alfie?” the mother interrupted him.

I gave her a knowing look. The father reluctantly took his son’s hand and ran on ahead, disappearing through the barrier. I smiled at the mother and she and I started walking. I was still all too conscious of a few people still staring. I hoped that the thing about Muggles rationalizing magic would work even if I disappeared through the wall.

I reflexively closed my eyes as we passed through the bricks, and blinked a few times in the other side, my eyes adjusting to the sheer amount of scarlet and steam that filled the platform.

“Thank you,” I told the family. “You we such a help.”

“Of course dear,” the mother said kindly, and the three of them set off towards the train.

I stared after them feeling slightly unsettled. I wasn't used to people being quite so nice and expecting nothing in return. There had to be a catch, I thought. There just had to be.

I moved through the crowds with ease. People moved out of the way for me quickly, with a tad less staring than that Muggles. I bit my lip as I neared the train, unsure how to board or even use the thing at all. I'd never had to use one before.

“Do you need help? Loading your trunk?” I heard a voice ask behind me.

I turned to see a young boy, maybe fifteen years old, with a shiny badge attached to his lapel.

“I'd love some help,” I told him. “Do you mind?”

“No! No not at all. I'm a prefect, see, and it's my job to help people. Are you new? It's just, I haven't seen you around before, and I'm sure I'd remember seeing you before,” he said, rambling nervously. “And, erm, we don't have a lot of transfers really. People generally come in as first years or not at all. But you’re er… different.”

I raised my eyebrows, amused by his awkwardness. “I'm new, yes.”

“Wow, really? Where are you from?” he asked as he shoved my trunk into the overhead. “Did you go to a different wizarding school? What was it like?”

“Durmstrang,” I said. “It was cold.”

“Wow, really? Did you hear about --”

I cut him off. “I'd like a little quiet please. If you don't mind?”

“No! No I don't mind at all. I should probably go help done other people you know. Lots to do! I'm Jack, by the way. I'm a fifth year. Hufflepuff. If you ever need me. For anything. Really, I can help with anything you need, just say the word.”

“Thank you Jack,” I said, interrupting him. If I didn't we would've been there all day. “You're very kind.”

“Yes, well, I'll just erm, go. Now. See ya,” he stammered, backing out the compartment door.

He shut it behind him and wandered off, leaving me in peaceful silence. I smiled a little, happy to be alone, and looked out of the window to so the happy little families standing on the platform. Everyone was smiling and laughing for the most part. A few of the younger children I could see were more upset, clinging to their parents and crying.

As the clock's hands moved closer to eleven, more and more people boarded the train. They stated at me through the window on the door of the compartment they filtered past. I tucked my nose back into the collar of my coat and wrapped my arms around myself. One red-haired girl actually stopped in front of my compartment and stared openly. I narrowed my eyes slightly, glaring at her.

She pulled open the compartment door. “Sorry to stare, but -- are you a veela?”

I was forced to remove my nose from my collar to answer her. “Only in part.”

“How much? Like one-quarter?”

“Yes,” I said.

She dropped into the seat across from me. “It's just, I haven't met a veela I'm not related to.”

“You're veela?” I said, blinking at her.

“Not me, no. Related by marriage. Where are you from?”

“Sweden.”

“Ooh, did you go to Durmstrang?” she asked, her eyes widening.

“Yes.”

“That is so interesting,”she said, leaning forward in her seat. “What's it like there?”

“Cold.” I said shortly.

“Well obviously, but what's the school like?”

“Cold,” I said again. The conversation was beginning to feel a bit too friendly.

“Well okay, but how was it different to Hogwarts?” she pressed.

“I don't know. I haven't been to Hogwarts yet,” I said, frustrated.

“Right, of course. Well you'll love it. It's a beautiful castle, and there's all these beautiful paintings on the walls, and suits of armour, and our food is just delicious.”

“Of course.”

“I'm Rose by the way,”she said, holding out her hand for me to shake.

I looked from her face to her hand and shook it gingerly. “Asta.”

“That's a pretty name,” she said. “Is it Swedish?”

I squinted at her. “No, it's Swahili.”

She squinted back at me. “Was that sarcasm?”

“What did it sound like?”

She was saved from answering by two boys bursting into the compartment. I flinched, my grip on my wand tightening inside my pocket.

“Hello,” one of the boys said breathlessly. “I’m Fred.”

“Hello,” I replied.

“Yeah, hi Freddy,” Rose said from behind him.

“Hey Rosie.” He didn’t bother turning to look at her. “Who’s your friend?”

“Who’s yours?” she replied archly.

“You remember Finn.”

“Hi,” said Finn, not looking at her either.

“Hey Finn,” Rose said, looking amused.

“So,” Freddy said, sliding into the seat next to me. “What’s your name?”

“Asta,” I said.

“That’s a beautiful name,” Finn said. His eyes didn’t move away from my face.

“Thank you,” I said, feeling a little uncomfortable.

“Where are you from Asta?” Freddy asked.

“Sweden.”

“Sweden? That’s… interesting. How are things over there? After the, well, everything.”

“I wouldn’t know,” I said. “I left.”

“Before or after? The -- thing?” Finn said.

I looked away, staring out of the window.

“Fred, she obviously doesn’t want to talk about the massacre. Leave it,” Rose snapped.

“Sure, yeah, fine,” Freddy said. “Sorry.”

I didn’t reply, choosing instead to tuck my nose back into the collar of my coat. After a few minutes, Rose shooed the boys out of the room and slammed the compartment door behind them.

“Sorry about them,” she said. “They’re tactless.”

“They’re boys,” I said, my voice muffled by the fur. “They’re always like that.”

“Huh. All of them?” she asked curiously.

“At least at first.”

“That’s annoying.”

“I’m used to it.”

“I suppose you would be.”

I sat back in my seat and pulled my hand out of my pocket. After another few minutes, the train began to move. I tucked up my legs underneath me and leaned against the wall. For a few hours after that, we sat in silence. Rose read her school books and I watched the scenery shoot past. Rose apparently had a large family, and people kept dropping in. She invariably kicked them back out, seeming to prefer quiet. One of the younger girls whispered to me that Rose hardly ever sat with anyone on the train, and that I should feel lucky.

The ride was much too long. If they couldn’t even manage some better kind of transportation, how reliable was their reputation as the best wizarding school in Europe?

It was nighttime when we finally pulled into the station at the other end. Rose and I tugged our trunks out of the overhead compartment and I followed her off the train. There was light rain misting down, making everything damp and a little gross. I wrinkled my nose and tried not to step in any puddles.

“Are you Miss Asta Eld?” asked a middle-aged professor, walking towards me.

I looked up at him. “Yes.”

“Please, come with me,” he said.

He gestured to a carriage and I climbed in.

“Are those thestrals?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes, they pull the carriages,” the professor said. “You can see them?”

I felt my cheeks redden, and I sank back into my seat.

“I’m Professor Longbottom,” he said as the carriage set off at a brisk pace. “We’re going to the Headmistress's office. You’ll be sorted into your house there, and we need to sort out a few things with your schedule and transcript as well, so we’ll do that now.”

I nodded.

“This might be a big transition for you, so just know that you can always talk to your head of House if you need to; for any help at all. Academic, social, or with anything about your future career prospects.”

“House?” I said, confused.

“Yes, you’ll be sorted into one of four Houses. That will determine where your common room is, who is in your dorm, and who you take classes with. That sort of thing. Do you play Quidditch?”

I wrinkled my nose again. “No.”

“That’s a shame, we have a great inter-House Quidditch system. It really helps students bond with their Housemates.”

I raised my eyebrows and nodded, pretending to be interested. “I see.”

“I think you’ll enjoy this year, Miss Eld. It is your last year, correct?”

“Yes.”

“That’s what I thought.”

The carriage wobbled and I gripped my seat tightly, pursing my lips in distaste.

“You’ll get your first look at the school in a moment here, around the corner.”

I looked out, watching the road ahead. Suddenly, a gigantic castle appeared at the top of the hill. My mouth went slack. It was enormous, and nearly every window was lit up with a warm orange light. It glowed.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Professor Longbottom said, smiling at me.

“Yes,” I admitted. “It is.”

We bounced up the hill. I’d pulled my fur coat over my Hogwarts robes, and I tucked my nose back down, trying not to get sick. The carriage finally pulled to a stop in front a pair of massive doors. Professor Longbottom helped me out of the carriage.

“Leave your trunk, the house-elves will get it.”

“You have house-elves here?” I asked incredulously.

“Well, yes. We do pay them a salary, though.”

I nodded. The professor led me up a staircase, and then another, and another and another. We set off down a hall and stopped in front of a gargoyle.

“Padfoot,” Professor Longbottom said to the gargoyle.

It nodded and jumped aside, revealing a spiral staircase. I blinked.

“After you,” the professor said graciously.

“Thank you,” I said quietly.

I stepped onto the staircase and it started to move. I had to stop myself from squealing. The staircase stopped at a door. I picked up the knocker and then dropped it back down.

“Come in,” called a voice on the other side of the door.

I pushed open the door and stepped inside. The room was massive, with bookshelves reaching up to the ceiling, and funny little devices scattered around the room on elegantly crafted tables. Portraits of previous headmasters and mistresses frowned down at me. My gaze dropped to the desk in the middle of the room.

A stately older woman sat behind the desk. She looked up at me, and I saw a look of surprise cross her face for just a moment before she regained her composure.

“You must be Miss Eld,” she said. “Please, take a seat.”

She pointed to the stool in front of her desk. I looked at it.

“It’s occupied,” I said.

“Yes, put the hat on and sit down.”

“Put it -- on?”

“Yes, Miss Eld. And don’t dawdle. There’s a gaggle of first years waiting to do exactly what you’re doing now.”

I dropped my eyes and picked up the hat, grimacing slightly. I slid onto the seat and put the hat on my head.

Hmm, a voice whispered. I flinched. You’re not a first year. From Durmstrang aren’t you? How...unusual.

I felt my lips twist.

And part veela, too, the hat continued. Very unusual. So where to put you? You’ve got quite a lot of smarts, don’t you? You’d fit right in in Ravenclaw. But you’re also brave. Very brave. You’d like Gryffindor as well. So where should I put you?

Does it matter? I found myself thinking. It’s only for a year. And I certainly don’t care.

“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat shouted to the room.

“Very good,” the Headmistress said. “My old House, you know.”

I smiled weakly at her. “Of course.”

“Now, before Professor Longbottom takes you down to the feast, there are a few things we need to sort out with your schedule. Now I understand that Durmstrang does their testing a little differently than we do here.”

“Yes, we have assessment tests every year. I believe I did quite well on all of mine.”

“Yes, you did very well,” the Headmistress continued. “But you took classes that we do not offer here at Hogwarts.”

I frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Well, we don’t offer a Dueling class, for one. Nor do we teach the Dark Arts. And I don’t know what the ‘Simple Spellwork’ class even is, much less how it compares to ‘Complex Spellwork.'”

“No dueling class?” My frown deepened.

“There’s a dueling club. But dueling is primarily taught in our Defense Against the Dark Arts class.”

“I’ll take that then,” I said. “May I assume that Potions is the same here as it is at Durmstrang?”

“Yes, and I see you did quite well in that and in both your Dark Arts class and Dueling class, so those two shouldn’t be a problem. Now, Simple Spellwork and Complex Spellwork, what are those?”

“Simple Spellwork just means non-transfiguring spellwork, although some of the charms and jinxes are more complicated, it’s still not taken seriously there.”

“That sounds like Charms. Do you want to continue with that?”

“Yes.”

“And Complex Spellwork, is that Transfiguration?”

“Yes.”

“And would you like to continue with that?”

“Yes.”

“Alright, so that leaves us with the Studie av Magiska Växter --

“Study of magical plants,” I told her.

“So Herbology then.”

“If you say so.”

“And Arithmancy.”

“I’d like to continue with that as well.”

“That’s doable. So that's your schedule figured out then.”

I started to stand up.

“Wait,” the Headmistress said quickly. “That wasn’t all I wanted to discuss with you.”

I sat back down.

“There are a few notes on your behaviour here.”

I stifled a groan. “Professor, I moved here for a fresh start. Sweden has been left behind. There will be no problems.”

“I should hope not. At Hogwarts we don’t stand for the sorts of things you seem to have gotten away with in the past.”

I shrugged. “You’d be surprised what you can overlook when it becomes necessary Professor. But I promised you there will be no problems, and I will hold to that.”

“Good,” the Headmistress said with finality. “Now go enjoy the feast.”


_________________________________

Translations:

*“Are you ready to go to school?”

**“Just checking,” I said, waving my fork.

***“I love you Asta,” my mother said, kissing me on the cheek. “I miss you.”

“I miss you mamma,” I replied, kissing her back.

_________________________________

A/N: I have a bit of an obssession with languages, and while I can hold my own with any Romance Language -- especially French, Spanish, and Italian -- this is my first attempt at a non-English Germanic Language. So if anyone reading this happens to speak Swedish please leave a review and help me out! I think understand the grammar, but the vocabulary and colloquialisms are all new to me. And if you wanna leave a review for any other reason, I'd love it!

xoxo, TheBlondeOne

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