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A/N: Hey yall UwU welcome to the first chappie! Cantaloupe has autism. I based some of her quirks and attributes off of me UwU but she's mostly a work of my imagination and LOTS of research. Unfortunately, you won't get another chappie for a couple of days because I'm going on vAcAtIoN but as soon as I come back I'll start writing the next chapter. Enjoy!!!   -Your Girl Fiona xoxo

 

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I got my letter! I can go to Hogwarts! I'm so excited!!!!

"Claire, come here please!" my mother calls. I sigh. My hands flap and I spin. 

       Spin

                Spin

                          Spin. 

Stupid body doing whatever it wants. 

I'm Claire Luz, but I go by Cantaloupe. I'm eleven years old. I love pizza, Alessia Cara, and art. And I'm autistic. I do things called stimming, which is me shaking and flapping my hands and just generally moving my body. I also have 'sensory issues', which just means I have problems with some sounds and touches and crap like that. 

People don't understand that I'm awesome! For one, I have a perfect memory up until four days, three hours and twenty seven seconds before my birthday. I can remember any event. 

I'm also really good at art. I save all my money to buy canvases, paint, pencils, sketchbooks, glitter, MORE glitter, everything you can imagine. My entire bedroom is filled with art and art supplies. Art is the only time my hands are ever steady and not flapping or shaking or doing whatever they want, so I love it. 

But that's not the point. The point is that autism isn't what everyone thinks it is. It's not some horrible thing that makes people unable to make eye contact or feel emotions or NOT break down in a store. It's just a different way of thinking and... well, existing and living. 

I'm a half-blood, which is why I just KNEW I was going to get my letter. My dad was a wizard; my mum is not. That's why we use Muggle things. My dad left my mum when I was four. I remember it clearly. It was at 12:47 AM and I had woken up to loud shouting. I thought a burglar had broken into our house. I toddled over to our living room and saw my dad screaming at my mum. This is how their conversation went:

"You and your daughter are so useless!" 

"She's YOUR daughter too! She got YOUR tiny little brain and YOUR ugliness and YOUR disrespect!"

"YOU ARE THE WORST WOMAN TO WALK THIS EARTH! HOW I COULD HAVE EVER LOVED YOU IS BEYOND ME!" 

"THEN WHY DON'T YOU LEAVE?!?!?!"

"I WILL!" 

I never saw him again. I will never forget that fight. I feel like my dad left because of me. I remember blowing bubbles with him and watching him shoot glitter out of his wand (well, I always thought it was a magic stick until I learned of magic) and slurping ice cream with him and watching the stars. 

I first noticed my magic when I was six. It was March 27, 2:43 PM. I was sitting on my loft, reading, when my head just suddenly felt like it was full of lead or something. I fell off my bed, but to my surprise, I didn't hit the floor. I sat there levitating and trying to figure out how to stop. 

After that, my magic just kind of appeared sometimes. 

Anyways, back to what was going on. I run to my mother, who's sitting in her room. My brain is moving too fast for me to get out any coherent sentences. I decide to flap my hands instead to try and get the energy out of me. 

       Flap

                Flap

                          Flap. 

"Calm down please," my mom says. "We need to get you used to your uniform before you go tomorrow." 

My heart plummets into my stomach. Not the itchy, scratchy, stiff uniform that feels like sandpaper on my skin. I straighten. "No, I can't wear that," I whisper. My mum sighs. 

"You have to, baby," she says. "It's standard school uniform." 

"NO!!!" I scream. I clench my fists, trying to bottle up the meltdown I know is coming. I can't have a meltdown today. 

Instead, I run down to our washing machine and stuff it in. I pour the rest of our fifty-seventh bottle of fabric softener (I've been counting) in the washing machine and start it up. I watch the uniform turn around and around, and my body wants to move with it.

       Spin

                 Spin

                           Spin. 

       Bounce

                       Bounce

                                        Bounce. 

My mum comes in and sees my body moving and jumping and flapping, and frowns. I've always resented her a little for that. She's never accepted me, and she seems ashamed of me. 

Not of me. Of my autism. 

"Darling, PLEASE try not to do that at school," my mum pleads. "You want friends, don't you?" 

What is she talking about? I can't just STOP doing all the things I do. I can't just GET RID of my autism. Don't you think I would have done that by now if I could? And besides, I don't know if I would WANT to get rid of it. I think it makes me unique and more fun. 

"Mmmm," I grunt. When will the uniform be done? It feels like I've been here for AGES. 

When I look at the clock, it's only been thirty seconds. 

"Argh!" I exclaim, exasperated. I can't lose control now. Otherwise Mum will NEVER let me go to Hogwarts. 

 

***

 

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP- I smash the stop button on my bright purple alarm clock. 

Today I go to Hogwarts!!!! This is the best day of my life!!!!

       Flap

                 Flap

                           Flap. 

I rush down to the laundry room where I find my uniform, all ironed and neat, folded all pretty. I feel the fabric. It's much softer. The only issue will be the zippers and buttons. I shudder. 

I decide it's now or never and pull on my uniform. The fabric feels nice, but the zipper on the skirt digs into my skin and I cry out.

I quickly rip off the skirt. Maybe I can do something about it. I rush upstairs, grab some leggings, and pull them on. Then I tentatively pull on the skirt. It's so much better! I knew I could do this. 

My mum comes into my room. "Oh, hi honey!" she exclaims. "You already have your uniform on!"

She says it like she's surprised. "Yeah, of course," I say. "I washed it, and it's soft now, so now I can wear it." 

"Well, come on now," Mum says. "We need to get you down to the platform." 

I squeal and run to the kitchen, pulling out a bowl, spoon, and my Coco Pops. I pour it into my bowl and proceed to pour chocolate milk into it. I want it EXTRA chocolaty. 

"Honey, no-" my mom starts to say, but instead she sighs. "Fine," she says. I smile and gulp it down. 

Soon it's time for us to go, and I run upstairs to grab my suitcase. I take a look around my room. All my art is plastered around my room. My walls are so full of doodles and paintings that I made on them that you can barely see the deep plum paint anymore. But I love my room, and I'm gonna miss it. 

I pick up my lavender (yes, MORE purple) suitcase with all its stickers and haul it down the stairs. It makes a bumping sound, and my body wants to bump with it. Suddenly, I drop to the floor. OUCH!!!! I bump down the stairs. It hurts but I can't stop. Tears spring to my eyes. 

       Bump

                    Bump

                                  Bump.

My mum rushes towards me. "Are you okay, darling?" she asks me. I nod, but my, erm, butt hurts so badly. 

"Oh, I don't know if you should go to Hogwarts," my mum frets. No! I have to go!!! It's my dream to go!!!

"Noooooo!" I scream. That's kind of the only word I can say. I can SORT of say yes, if I go like, "yeeeehhhhmmmmggg", but I usually don't do that since it sounds like the exact opposite of yes. Also it's weird. 

"You really want to go, don't you?" my mum says. I nod, putting on my best puppy-eyes face. She takes a big breath. "Alright then. Come on, in the car." 

YES!!! IT'S TIME TO GO TO HOGWARTS!!!!!!!!

 

***

 

The station is a blur of sound and color and movement. It's too much for my brain to handle, even with my bright purple (custom painted by me) noise-cancelling headphones playing my "chill playlist". I start to stim. I really need to get on that train. 

"Are you alright, Claire?" my mum asks, grasping my hand tightly. No, I'm NOT okay!!! I can't stay here for long. I don't want to make a fool of myself and have a meltdown. 

"Let's get you onto the train, sweetie," my mum says into my ear. I nod. I need to get out of here. 

We stand in front of the wall that separates Kings' Cross from Platform 9 and 3/4. My mom squeezes my hand and we run through the barrier. 

The other side is a bit less chaotic, but still way too much for me to handle. I start coughing from the steam and smoke that comes from the Hogwarts Express. Families all over the place are crying and cheering and waving to their children. 

I kiss my mother goodbye. I hug her tight. "I love you, Mum," I say. 

"I love you too," she says. Tears start to slip down her cheeks. My hands reach up to pat her cheeks. I know she'll be okay, but I'm going to miss her so much. 

I grab my suitcase from her hands and walk towards the train. She waves to me as I walk to the train. I control my hands enough to wave back to her. I step onto the train. 

I quickly go and find an empty compartment to sit in. Finally, a private place. Out of energy, I sit back and settle in. The chairs are surprisingly comfy. I run my hands across the smooth leather. It feels cold against my hands. 

I notice that I've started to cry. I'm so nervous. What if no one likes me? What if I never make a friend and 

Suddenly, two girls open the compartment door. One has bright red hair and chocolate brown eyes. One has hair that's so blonde it's almost white, and funny-looking glasses with one blue one pink frame. I lower my headphones and look at them. 

"Hello," the blonde one says. Her voice is soothing and calm. "I'm Luna. Luna Lovegood." 

"And I'm Ginny Weasley," the ginger one says. "Nice to meet you!" She reaches out her hand to shake, but I can't make my body move to shake her hand. I can only stare at it until she slowly lowers it. 

"Can you talk?" Luna asks. I laugh inside, but Ginny widens her eyes and elbows Luna. 

"Luna!" she hisses. "Stop!" 

"I was just asking a question," Luna said.

"Yeah, I-I can talk," I say quietly. "I'm Claire, but you guys can call me Cantaloupe." 

"Huh," Luna says. She sits right down next to me without another word. Ginny hesitates but sits on the bench across from me. The girls launch into a conversation- well, more of an argument- about whether Nargles are real. I've never heard of them, but most magical things are new to me. I'm not really listening anyways. Alessia Cara's "Wild Things" blasts from my speakers, drowning them out. 

Of course, at that moment, my hands decide they want to stim. 

       Flap

                 Flap

                            Flap. 

"What is she doing?" Ginny whispers to Luna. I hate it when people talk about me like I'm not there, as if I can't understand a normal conversation. 

"Why don't you ask her?" Luna challenges her. I smile a bit. Luna seems to get it. Maybe she's a little bit like me. 

Ginny grimaces and turns towards me. She speaks really loudly and slowly. 

"Hiiiii theeere. Caaan you tellll usss whaaaat youuuu're dooooiiiiing wiiiith yoooouur haaaaands?" 

Can you tell me what you're doing with your ass, seeing as it's so fat?  But I can't say that. That would be rude. 

"Not like that, Ginny!" Luna exclaims, annoyed. She turns to me. "Sorry. My friend is curious as to what you're doing, you know, with your hands."

"Oh, erm, i-its called, um, stimming," I stammer. I don't want to talk about this. Whenever I do, they always get worse. 

Sure enough:

       Bounce

                        Bounce

                                         Bounce. 

"Sorry," I whisper. I clear my throat. "Sorry," I say, a little louder. "It's just my body deciding it needs to move, and I do it. I can't really stop it. I usually only do it when I'm stressed or happy or something." 

"Ahhh," Luna says. "But why do you do it?" 

This is what I like about Luna. She asks questions, but not in a rude way. She's genuinely curious, and I feel happier talking to her than I ever have to someone else. 

"Um, I have this... thing called autism," I say. I wish that Ginny girl wasn't still here. I don't want her around me. "It's kind of hard to explain. It's, like, a disorder, like a, um, thing, with my brain, and um, so... yeah." 

"Cool," Luna says. She turns to Ginny, who I notice has gone pale. "What's wrong, Ginny?" 

"What's wrong?!?!" Ginny shrieked "She's a FREAK! I've heard of aw-tisem"-she says it all weird- "and it's bloody weird! Come on, Luna, let's get out of here!"  

Ginny grabs Luna's wrist and tries to pull her out of my compartment, but she's not moving. "Come on!" Ginny exclaims.

"Why do you want to leave?" Luna asks, frowning. "And why would you call her a freak? She's just as normal as you and me." 

"I- I- Ugh!" Ginny storms out of my compartment. 

Luna looks sad. "Sorry," she says. "I thought maybe she would have been nice. I guess not." 

"That's okay," I say. "I didn't like her much anyways."

Luna laughs. "I like you, though," she says. "I think we should be friends." 

"I think that's a fantastical idea," I agree. 

We end up talking for hours- about our parents (I told her about my dad and she told me about how her mother died in an accident two years ago), about our lives, my autism and how it works, funny stories, Nargles, all sorts of things. Then:

"Did you hear about Harry Potter?" Luna asks me. "I heard that last year he fought off You Know Who by himself!" 

"Oh, I don't really know about any of that stuff," I say. "My dad was a wizard, which is the only reason I even know about Hogwarts."

"Oh," Luna says. "Well, I think I should like to meet him. I just hope he's not arrogant or anything." 

Suddenly, the whistle on the train sounds. It's so loud. I smack my ears, trying to make the horrible sound go away. 

       Slap

                 Slap

                           Slap. 

"Aaaaaa!" I scream. 

"Are you okay, Cantaloupe? What's wrong?" Luna asks me, but I can't hear her very well. I wrap up into a Melon Ball (that's what I call myself sometimes, but that's for later) and focus on breathing until the screeching goes away. 

I breathe in shakily. That was horrible. And embarrassing. 

       Breathe in... 

       Breathe out. 

"What happened?" Luna asks me, a concerned look on her face. Or is that pity? I can't stand pity. 

"I-I'm sorry," I stammer. "I-I'll go now." I stand up to leave, but Luna grabs onto my shoulder. Wrong move. I howl and jerk back. The look on her face breaks my heart, but I need to leave here before she finds out more weird things about me. 

Just when I thought I had a friend, I mess everything up. Tears fill my eyes. 

The train has come to a stop, and everyone is filing off the train. I want to take off my headphones, but I just can't. It would be too loud, and then I'd have a meltdown and make even more of a fool of myself. 

A giant man with a big beard bellows down to us. "Firs' years this way! Come along, firs' years!" 

We all file into a boat. Luna gets stuck with Ginny, who I'm now calling Gingersnap since Gingersnaps are gross. And because of her hair. I'm in a boat with a kid who says his name is Colin. Colin is really loud and annoying. He keeps asking to take a picture of me, but no WAY that's happening. 

We walk through the ebony doors of the giant castle. Hogwarts is even more beautiful than I imagined. I'm so happy to be here. It's the most magical (hehe, get it?) experience. 

Suddenly, my headphones crackle and stop playing. What? No! Not my headphones! Then I remember: electronics don't work in Hogwarts. How am I going to do this? 

A tall, fierce-looking woman comes in. "Welcome, first years. I am Professor McGonagall. Welcome to Hogwarts. Your Sorting will soon begin." 

Oh boy. Here we go. 

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