The platform was bustling with students and parents as Tabitha stepped through the entrance to Platform 9 ¾. She fixed her eyes to the ground, trying to avoid all the hugging and kissing of parents saying their farewells. Darting quickly between huddles of friends catching up after the holidays, Tabitha managed to make her way onto the train to an empty compartment. With a sigh, she slumped into the seat, closing her eyes in an attempt to block everyone out. She did her best to not hear as people walked passed her compartment, whispering. She tried to look as though she was asleep and should not be disturbed. However, this did nothing to deter Theophilus Ainsley.
Theophilus was a rather energetic Hufflepuff boy from Tabitha’s year level. He was quite gangly, with a mass of curly brown hair that his mother could hardly pin him down to cut. Tabitha had known him since she was little, when she would be sent to the Ainsley's house down the road while her parents were at work. Rachael Helder and Claramond Ainsley had worked together at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Theophilus hadn’t exactly grown up much since they were kids.
On this day, he bounced into the compartment, teeming with energy as the train pulled away from the station. Tabitha kept her eyes shut tight, not ready to face his enthusiasm yet.
“Tabs!” He called, sitting across from her. “I know you’re not sleeping. You can’t ignore me for the whole trip. Helloooo?” He chimed in a sing song voice.
Tabitha snapped open one eye.
“Fine, I’m not sleeping.” She quickly closed it again. “But I can ignore you for as long as I like.”
“Ah you won’t though. You might act it, but you’re not that sullen.”
Tabitha didn’t move.
“Alright. I guess I’ll just enjoy these pumpkin pasties all by myself then.” He drawled, pulling out a package of snacks and making a point to waft the smell toward Tabitha. Against her will, her stomach began grumbling.
“Okay, Theo!” She sat up, her eyes wide. “Give me one of those.”
Theophilus grinned and happily handed one over.
“Did you have breakfast?”
“Only cause my Dad nagged me.”
“Well you should, it’s the most important meal...”
“Of the day!” She smirked, “You are so like my father you would hardly know you’re a wizard.”
Their laughter was interrupted by a group of girls passing the compartment.
“Hey Treacherous, have a nice summer?” Piped a thin girl with rat-like features.
“Actually, I did, Cecilia, thanks for asking. Too bad I had to come back and see your ugly mug again.” Tabitha barked back.
“Uh oh, girls, I made her angry, I hope she doesn’t kill me.” Cecilia snickered.
“Hi Cecilia.” Theo said pleasantly.
Taken aback by his gall to actually speak to her, Cecilia stammered “Um hello...um,” the end of her sentence hung with the absence of his name.
“Oh, Theophilus.” He filled in.
“Your hair is looking lovely this year. Did you do anything to it over the summer?”
“I don’t know, washed it.”
“Well it’s a nice change.”
Cecilia stood, perplexed, unsure of what his game was.
“Okay well see you around Cecilia.”
“Right, uh see you.” With utter confusion on her face, Cecilia shuffled away, mystified.
Smiling, Theo moved to close the compartment door behind them. Tabitha shook her head to herself, a slight smirk on her face.
“You can’t let them get to you.” Theo said as he sat back down.
“That’s easy for you to say. You’re like a ball of sunshine, and I’m the school freak.”
“Only because you give them the satisfaction.”
“It’s not my choice. What, you think I want to be the weirdo who killed her mum?”
“That’s not true.”
“It doesn’t matter at this point.”
There was a pause. Tabitha stared at the ground, wishing she knew how to Apparate so she could snap away from everyone at Hogwarts.
“You didn’t kill her. You know that right?”
Tabitha said nothing.
“Tabitha, look at me.”
Reluctantly, she looked up into his kind blue eyes. He could speak volumes with just those eyes.
“You did not kill your mother.”
“I know.” Tabitha whispered through the lump in her throat.
“Good. Now, eat your pasty.” He said with a smile.
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