ci by scintilla @tda!!
The rest of the summer was spent avidly reading the books she had gotten. They were certainly interesting to Marissa but, as textbooks were, they were also a chore. It seemed that it was a principle across all schools that textbooks should always make anything remotely interesting a bore to read about.
That didn’t mean she didn’t read at least a little less than half the books she got from end to end, it just meant she found herself fucking around after every other page or so. She got what she wanted to done, just done painstakingly. She wasn’t really sure if it was worth it.
In between reading her books and procrastinating from reading her books, Marissa found herself waking up and readying herself up on the day she had to go to King’s Cross.
The phrase ‘readying up’ was used loosely in this case. What it really meant was that she was scrubbing down her body in the shower and brushing her teeth and eating breakfast so fast she almost choked on it. Her sister laughed. Little minx.
While she may have the honor of calling herself a fastidious student, she was only able achieve such a name because she spent most school nights staying up until one o’clock in the morning studying, doing homework, or waiting too long to finish her homework.
Hence, that was why she woke up exactly a half hour before she was to leave.
But, like she said, four years of staying up—give or take—until one in the morning also meant waking up late too. So, after many mishaps and missing the bell a few too many times, she had her morning routine down to a science.
She didn’t have to worry about packing her things, because she had done that the day before.
And now, here she was, waiting outside, bouncing on the balls of her feet for her parents to get their things. Her sister came outside with her in excitement, and was chattering away about the wonders of magic, and Marissa was half-heartedly listening. She was much too excited as well.
For the first time in her life, she was impatient. The rush of being able to go to a new place without the pressure of having to go back home (not anytime soon anyway) had never worn off from the day she went to Diagon Alley. She’d be able to stay and observe and find new things all she wanted to.
“Marissa, Sonrisa,” she heard her Papa say, “how long have you been waiting?”
“Oh,” Marissa answered, a bright smile on her face, “maybe ten minutes?”
“Oh dios mio,” her Mama said exasperatedly, although the effect was ruined by the fond smile playing on her lips.
She put her suitcase in the trunk and took her place in the back seat next to Sonrisa, making herself comfortable for the ride.
Surroundings blurred past her, as did her thoughts. She just couldn’t stop thinking about Hogwarts and magic. How enchanting would it be, what would it look like? Would it be just like any normal school? Or would it accommodate magic, allowing it to run free?
Marissa’s leg shook frantically, needing away to let her excess energy out. It was just so fascinating, to see the world wizards made, to know what kind of culture they nurtured. She wondered if she’d get a chance to see it all.
Soon enough, her family arrived at King’s Cross, and Marissa climbed out of the car. She grabbed her suitcase from the back, and reluctantly waited for her family. It took every effort to wait for them.
Surmising that they had caught up with her (a quick glance behind her told her they had), she began her way towards the platforms, knowing that her ticket said Platform 9¾.
When she arrived between platforms nine and ten, she was thoroughly confused. Not in an oh-I-don’t-get-this-I-can-come-back-to it kind of way, but in a holy-fuck-I-need-to-know-this-now-or-I’m-fucked kind of way.
Staring intently in between the two platforms, she almost could have slapped herself. Of course it wasn’t going to be visible; the point was for it not to be. Witches and wizards had to be as innocuous as possible so they could hide themselves.
But still, Marissa had no way of knowing what to do.
She turned back around to face her parents, and gave them a questioning look, but they seemed to be just as confused. Sonrisa bounded between the two platforms, curious as to what was going on, but it wasn’t as if she had any answers to the solution. Well, maybe she did, but Marissa was too frazzled to ask. Honestly, at this point, Marissa was willing to throw all semblances of logic out the window, shrug her shoulders, and bloody walk towards what was in between platforms nine and ten. If she made a fool out of herself, so then be it.
So she did. She stood in front of the pillar, leaning forward slowly. Finding that she was going through the pillar had surprised her so much she fell in. She tried to grab at a solid object, but to no avail.
Marissa landed face first on to the ground. She quickly sat up, cradling her nose. It wasn’t bleeding thankfully, but it still hurt like hell.
Her parents came right behind her, and helped her up and dusted her off—much against her weak protests.
When she finally snapped her attention to where she was, her eyes immediately flitted to a red train in front of her, letting out steam, and emblazoned with The Hogwarts Express.
Sonrisa’s gasp of amazement pretty much summed up Marissa’s emotions.
If that wasn’t an obvious hint that she was at the right place, she didn’t know what was.
She made to get her suitcase from behind the pillar, but her parents had already pushed it along with them. Marissa threw her parents a thankful glance, moved out of the way of the pillar should anybody else enter in, and took this as her chance to take a better look at where she was.
There were families there, some young and some old, and some parents were hugging their eleven year olds goodbye. Others were chastising their sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen year olds, likely to not get in trouble again this year. Apart from all the people that were there, there were also an abundance of cats and owls, and she could hear the throaty croaks of a few toads mixed in too.
That was a strange pet choice if Marissa had ever heard of one.
Apart from the people, there were a dearth of diverse groups of people, some black, some Indian, and others Arab. There were many more, naturally, but Marissa’s attention couldn’t stay on them long enough to list them all.
But her attention could definitely stay on the congregation of redheads, with blondes, browns, and black haired mixed in.
The group seemed to have a space of its own, from the way people unconsciously made a wide berth for them. They stood out because they were the loudest, even above the hoots of owls, meows of cats and kittens alike, and the croaks of toads.
Honing in on them, Marissa could easily make out that they were beautiful people. Not in an obvious way that people tend to define as attractive, but more pleasing to the eye.
She grimaced and thought to herself, do they have Aphrodite’s favor or? Is genetics really friendly with them? Did they make a contract with the devil? What’s up? They look like the people that civilizations used fight fucking wars over.
Among them, Marissa spotted the boy she met in Quality Quidditch Supplies, chastely hugging both his Mama and Papa. She thought that it was nice, that he doesn’t think he was too old for affection from his parents.
Marissa doesn’t realize she has been staring at them for long past a minute until she was pushed along by her parents.
The family of four stopped a little before they reach the entrance into the express.
Marissa tightened her hold on the handle of her suitcase, for surely what’s coming next are tearful goodbyes.
Her Papa hugged Marissa bone-crushingly tight, almost that she couldn’t breathe.
“Pa… Pa,” Marissa punched out as best as she could, “it… hurts.”
Her Papa quickly let go in fear of hurting his daughter, and said to her in his mother tongue, “Good luck, sweetheart, and write to us.”
Marissa raised her eyebrows; it was not often her parents spoke in Spanish. They must have wanted this to stay a private moment.
“I will,” Marissa agreed, smiling amiably. She went to hug her mother, as she had made no move to. “Goodbye, Mama.”
“Goodbye, sweetie,” her Mama told her. Unsurprisingly, it was her that was able to keep a strong and unwavering smile while her Papa became teary. It was just how they were.
To Sonrisa she said, “Don’t get into too much trouble when I’m not there.”
Sonrisa gave a devilish grin, transforming her face similar like Papa’s, and said, “No promises.”
Rolling her eyes, she held her arms out, and Sonrisa jumped into them. “Don’t miss me too much!”
Marissa snorted, and let go of her sister. “That I can promise.” Sonrisa gave an indignant shout, but kissed both of her cheeks, and Marissa did the same.
Turning around, she pulled her suitcase along with her, entering the train. She found an empty compartment almost immediately, which was the first one on her right. She supposed that students and children alike were being held back by parents who don’t want to let them go right yet if they still had time.
She put her suitcase on the compartment on top specially made for them, and sat down. Immediately, she was bogged down by boredom, unexpected in a place thrumming with all sorts of excitement.
Instead of sitting down and rummaging through her thoughts, she quickly decided to do something about it. She was on a magical express train; surely there will be things to do, and obscure corners to explore.
Marissa exited the compartment, sliding the door behind her close. She quickly took note of unique details outside the compartment to note as markers so she can pick up her suitcase later, when they arrived at Hogwarts.
The name of the school sent a jolt of electricity down her spine; she was finally getting to see the place she could only have dreamed of!
Smiling a little at the thought, Marissa walked as slowly as she was allowed down the aisle. She noticed that other students were walking down the aisle as well in clusters, and that the aisles themselves narrowed and widened as they needed to.
What an infinitesimally small detail to pay attention to in a world full of bigger wonders, but it made all the difference.
Too invested in marveling at the magic, Marissa was caught off guard as the train lurched forward to begin its journey to Hogwarts.
This time, Marissa was able to catch herself before she fell on her back, and steadied herself. She let the train get into a consistent tempo before moving forward.
Walking the length of the whole train, she explored compartments, and chatted with people that were friendly enough to start up a conversation.
Marissa was able to discern a distinctness among witches and wizards that had grew up in the world, which was mostly a pretty similar attitude to those of a vastly different culture learning about Western culture, or any other culture, if different enough.
Most students were curious about Marissa’s background, and those particularly invested into what they called ‘muggle culture’ asked questions easily answered.
At first, Marissa had looked at them a bit strangely, as if they were ignorant. It had took more time than she could admit that this ignorance was a result of being so far separated from the muggle world.
Then, it was a little easier to answer their questions.
When she had finished walking up and down the aisles, she figured she might as well make her way down to her compartment and wait out the rest of the ride.
Halfway back, Marissa had taken notice that a little old lady had also begun walking up and down the train, pushing along a cart that was filled to the brim with all sorts of candy.
As the cart came closer to her, Marissa could catch a few names, like Drooble’s Blowing Gum and Fizzing Whizbees and Chocolate Frogs.
She almost drooled at the thought of food; she didn’t have much to eat for breakfast.
Sadly, Marissa did not have any money (and even if she did, she didn’t exchange any pounds for what seemed like gold doubloons—wizard currency), so she reluctantly made to go back to her compartment.
Well, she was, until the old trolley lady called to her. At least Marissa thinks she called to her, she didn’t really know who she was referring to when she said, “Hey, girl with the black hair!” There were at least three other girls with black hair that happened to be with Marissa.
It was made much clearer to her when the old trolley lady said, “The one wearing a red shirt!”
Marissa let out a sigh of relief and made her way to the trolley lady, who for the most part seemed pretty nice. Maybe. She was an old lady selling candy, what else was Marissa’s mind supposed to go to?
Once she stood in front of the lady, she had said to Marissa, “Do you want any candy?”
Marissa blinked. For whatever reason the maybe kind of nice old trolley lady called her over, Marissa wasn’t expecting that. But maybe she should have, since kids buying candy off the cart might be her only way to gain profit.
Marissa shrugged. “I’m sorry. I don’t have the money. Thank you for the offer though.”
The lady stared at her, decidedly less nice, and Marissa felt violated, so she folded in a little on herself. She scrutinized Marissa to her feet to the last of her hairs.
“Are you new here darling? I know all the students on this train except for the newcomers,” the nice trolley lady said, her scrutinizing stare softening into the way a grandmother might look at her grandchild.
“Uh… Yeah,” Marissa got out, more surprised by her curiosity.
Everybody seemed to be curious about her, and Marissa could not for the life of her figure out why. Sure, she was a new student, but surely the excitement will wear off soon enough?
“In that case here’s a chocolate frog, no payment needed. I know this all looks delicious and new to you,” she said, holding out an intricately bordered purple and yellow box, with the words ‘Chocolate Frog’ written on it in gold, curling font.
Marissa smiled kind of shakily. Though the lady’s words had set off many warning alarms in her head (who offers free candy?), she felt a little bit like she was on a high. She was getting magical candy from an old magical trolley lady on a magical express that’s taking her to a magical school. Her smile became genuine. All of this seemed surreal to her, like a fairytale dream out of a book.
By the time Marissa got her words out, her wide smile grew into a bright beam. “Thank you, Miss…?”
“Thank you, Miss Agnes.” Marissa smiled at her a bit longer, and sidestepped around Agnes to bound her way back to her compartment.
Once she reached the compartment, she found that someone had taken to sitting there, and jumped back in surprise after she opened in the compartment door.
The people who sat in compartment she claimed was none other than the Al she had met in Quality Quidditch Supplies, including a good half of the entourage of redheads, blondes, browns, and black haired people she found at the platform.
Al met her eyes rather awkwardly, smiling in pleasant surprise. “Um, hey… Marissa.”
Marissa smiled (albeit rather weakly at the prospect of meeting so many people), and asked, “Hey, so I think I’m going to change into my uniform right now in those lavatories I found, but after that do you think I could sit with you guys? I kind of put my suitcase in this compartment when I first arrived, but I went off to explore the Express. I didn’t think anyone else would sit here.”
Nobody spoke for a moment. But then a pretty blonde next to Al spoke, “Oh, so the suitcase was yours. We just thought someone lost it, but yeah sure you can sit with us.”
“Oh, okay, thank you,” Marissa told them, smiling gratefully.
She quickly grabbed her uniform from inside her suitcase, and just as quickly changed into it, if a bit haphazardly. Her plain black tie was crooked, but she made to fix it on the way back to the compartment.
She found that the only empty seat was next to Al, and sat down. She grabbed one of the books she hadn’t finished, and started working to finish of the last of it.
Of course, such a compartment with so many people could not keep quiet, so conversations filtered in and out of Marissa’s ears.
She processed one of the conversations as she was reading, mostly because it was more interesting than the words in her book.
“She’s really reading on the way to Hogwarts? What a nerd…” This voice was scratchy and low, presumably an attempt to keep Marissa from hearing.
“Don’t be like that; maybe she’s new,” another one replied, distinctly female.
“Yeah, but you’d think she’d at least try to make some friends…”
No reply. Finally, Marissa looked up, and voiced to the crowd, “Something wrong?”
The people of the compartment were decidedly quiet. Until one brave soul spoke up, the very same one that commented on her reading habits, “You’re reading. In a compartment full of people.”
“I am,” Marissa said, shrugging. “I’m new here, everything’s interesting. But since you so desperately want to be my friend, we should probably introduce ourselves. I’m Marissa Vasquez.”
The dark skinned boy blinked at her in surprise. “I’m Fred Weasley.”
Marissa smiled in recognition. “Oh, like George Weasley!”
“You… You know him?” he asked tentatively.
“Oh, yeah! His shop in Diagon Alley was the first one I went into. Nice guy, I like him. He was pretty chill,” Marissa said cheerfully. “Are you his son?”
“Yes, but that was a lucky guess,” Fred said easily, snapping himself out of his shyness.
“George did mention having a lot of brothers, who all have kids. A lot of your cousins’ last names must be Weasley.”
Fred scanned her warily.
Not oblivious to the slight tension she had caused, Marissa became slightly nervous, and her voice raised on octave. “Anyways, why don’t you introduce yourselves?”
And they did, one by one: the first was Dominique Weasley, who was sitting by Al, and Al properly introduced himself, whose full name was Albus Potter, and then Lily Potter, the girl who had been slightly rude to Al, then Hugo Weasley with matted mud brown hair, and last but not least Roxanne Weasley, who must’ve been Fred’s twin sister, considering the similarities in looks.
Marissa nodded slowly, trying to process their names, and told them, “Cool. Nice to meet you all.”
A discordant chorus of voices came: “You too.”
Marissa nodded, and stayed quiet. The silence seemed to drag on, uncomfortable and choking, but Marissa made no move to break it. She merely looked out the passing scenery outside the window. Slowly, the family eased back into their normal conversations, accepting that Marissa would talk no more.
Much too early—or perhaps just on time—the train slowed to a stop.
Marissa finally looked up from her book, glad to finally have an excuse to stop reading. Her eyes were merely glancing over the words, not processing anything she was reading.
She grabbed her things after everybody else, awkwardly following because she didn’t know where to go. She followed them until they reached a multitude of horseless carriages. Not coincidentally, Marissa joined the carriage with her previous compartment mates.
The carriages began to move, making their way through the dark forest, and Marissa startled. How were they moving without any horses?
Immediately, her first thought was ‘magic.’
It surprised Marissa how quickly magic was becoming the answer to oddities she was seeing.
The carriage ride was not long, and a dimly lit castle was coming into her view.
Marissa was awed, quite frankly. It was something out a fairytale, and she just knew her mouth was gaping wide open.
Dominique, with a sardonic twist to her smile, asked, “New here?”
Marissa directed her attention to her, and answered, “I thought you knew.”
Dominique hummed. “There’s a lot of people I don’t know outside of my family.”
“Well, yeah. I am,” Marissa confirmed.
“The castle is very pretty isn’t it? Wait until you see the inside; it’s amazing,” Dominique told her, lighting up at the thought of her second old and worn home.
“I’ll take your word for it.” Marissa smiled at her.
The carriages lurched to a stop, and students began to climb out, gravitating towards the friends they hadn’t gotten a chance to sit with.
Marissa did the same, but stopped at the hand on her shoulder. She turned, and acknowledged Dominique questioningly.
“Since you’re new, you probably need to be sorted. So go with the first years over there by the lake,” Dominique informed her, pointing to said first years.
Marissa looked over to where she was pointing, and Marissa’s eyes bugged out at the large figure next to the first years. In relation, the first years seemed like toddlers.
Dominique laughed. “I love seeing the reactions people have to Hagrid. Don’t worry, he’s a friendly giant.”
Marissa nodded rather warily. This Hagrid could crush her neck with only one of his hands. Despite that, she still went to the lake, and climbed on the boats with the first years.
The boat ride passed in quick fashion, and soon it was time to walk into the castle.
Up close, Marissa could easily see the well-worn cracks on the walls, and how the vines seemed to curl in and out of them.
Definitely something out a fairytale.
She followed the first years into a large hall, brightly lit with floating lanterns and candles, four differently colored long tables taking up most of the hall’s space. Up above, she could see the night sky, with stars dotted around, twinkling without abandon.
Marissa wondered what the castle does when it rained, as Scotland was famous for.
She was brought out of her reverie when she caught the ending of the Headmistress Chang's sentence: "...now we will begin the sorting, but not after the song."
Marissa flicked her eyes to the stool, where an old hat began singing from its brim.
She listened intently, and her interest was captured at the Slytherin's verse.
A house of ambition and fraternity? Hm.
Marissa smiled inwardly. Would the hat let her choose?
The first name was called, and began the sorting. It went in alphabetical order, and finally, it was her turn.
She startled a bit before getting up and walking towards the stool. Sitting down, she gingerly placed the hat on her head.
"Let's see here... A lot of curiosity, here... Oh! Strange... very strange indeed. Hm."
Marissa frowned at that. What was the hat keeping from her?
"...Nothing to worry about dear. You're very ambitious aren't you? Cambridge or Oxford? A hard worker too... Is there a particular house you want to be in?"
Marissa thought carefully. She was in a completely new territory—a fascinating one nonetheless—but she needed to be careful. She was new. The people here weren't. They'd certainly look at her with interest or distrust. The latter was more likely.
I need the house that will make them trust me.
"I'd chalk you up to Slytherin, with the way you worded that. Is that alright?"
Marissa stayed quiet, pondering it.
"Well, alright. SLYTHERIN!"
Marissa smiled strangely, and set the hat back on the stool. She walked to the table clad in green and silver. She could hear polite clapping coming from it, and a smattering of it from the other tables. Not nearly as loud as she would've gotten if she had been put in one of the other houses.
She sat down at the edge of the table, the only seat closest to her that was unoccupied. Across from her sat a pale skinned, platinum blonde boy, and a dark skinned, dark haired girl. The antithesis of each other.
Marissa realized she had to introduce herself to them, and smiled politely. She held her hand out to them.
"Hello, I'm Marissa Vasquez," she said.
The platinum blonde blinked, and then sprung to life. He shook her hand firmly, and said, "Scorpius Malfoy."
Marissa shifted to the dark haired girl, and thrust her hand out again. "And you are?"
The girl regarded her warily, eying her hand as if horror struck.
Scorpius patted the girl's shoulder, as if to coax her into shaking Marissa's hand. The look he gave her was undoubtedly fond, but also one of disappointment. He was frowning just slightly. The girl glanced at him, and she softened.
Slowly, she took Marissa's hand and said, "Halley Zabini. I've got a twin brother sitting on the far end of the table, Darwin Zabini."
"That's cool," Marissa said. "You're named after Halley's Comet?"
Halley looked surprised. "You know?"
"Oh, yeah, of course," Marissa replied enthusiastically. "Astronomy's one of my favorite subjects, second to astrophysics."
"Astro—what?" Halley raised an eyebrow, at which Marissa felt she should be on the defensive.
"Astrophysics. You know, using chemistry and physics to ascertain the properties and positions of stars and celestial bodies," Marissa said, after which she immediately felt like what she said was too complicated.
Halley, to her credit, stated quiet for a minute and pondered Marissa's definition. Nodding slowly, she said, "That sounds interesting."
Scorpius chose to comment, "That sounds like a lot of hard work."
"I will admit it's not for everybody."
Scorpius glanced at the front of the Great Hall. He put his index finger up to his lips. He whispered, "Chang's about to speak."
Marissa quietened as Miss—no, Professor Chang—made her announcements for the school year, and then dismissed herself to allow her students to eat.
An array of food appeared in front of Marissa, and she almost felt sick at the sight of so much food. Abruptly she was reminded of the feast she’d used to have with her extended family, and a warmth ran through her veins. The feeling dissipated and was replaced with disappointment when she realized that she was here alone and not with her family.
Sighing, she slowly filled her plate with what she wanted to try, and decided that she would have the German chocolate cake later for dessert.
Marissa ate slowly, but nearly everyone else was gorging themselves, even Scorpius and Halley, though they seemed to be much more dignified about it.
Scorpius looked at her plate. "Not hungry?"
"No, it's just..." Marissa trailed off. Should she tell them about her worries? …No, probably not. "There's so much I couldn't possibly try everything."
Scorpius nodded. "Understandable. Just wrap some food in a napkin, and save it for later.”
“Good idea,” Marissa agreed.
The din of the Great Hall eventually simmered down as prefects began to take first years to their rooms.
Scorpius told her to follow him and Halley, as they were the prefects for the Slytherin house.
They led Marissa and the rest of the first years down to the cold dungeons, where the entrance to the Slytherin common room was hidden.
Marissa took note of the password, let the first years in first, and then walked in herself.
The common room she entered was cold, and the architecture had a sort of bite to it. The air pricked at Marissa’s skin incessantly, as if telling her she wasn’t welcome here, and yet there was a hearth crackling with fire, sending waves of warm heat to everyone within its radius. The ceilings were high and elegant, reminding Marissa of the old gothic churches of the thirteenth century, though there wasn’t any buttressing. The entirety of one wall was transparent stained glass, revealing the marine life underwater. She would definitely have to check out what kind of narratives where engraved in the glass later on.
Marissa snapped herself out of her awe induced stupor, and finally tuned in onto the speeches of the prefects. She heard just enough to know that her dorm was on the left side, seventh floor up.
After the Scorpius and Halley ended their speech, Marissa made her way up to her dorm room. She lightly trailed her hand on the wall, looking for her name on the plaque next to the dorm door. Marissa found hers, and was surprised to find that Halley Zabini was rooming with her.
Marissa entered, and found five beds in succession to each other, all with elaborate hangings to give girls their privacy, if they needed it. She went to the second bed on her left, hers for the year.
Marissa found that her suitcases were next to her bed. She flopped onto the bed ungracefully, and smiled into the sheets of the bed.
She was finally here, finally here at the place she could consider her home for the next three years.
It felt as if she would never stop smiling, and she couldn’t ever remember a time where she felt so elated.
New and improved third chapter! Edited 2/24/2018.
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