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Chapter 1- Fresh Start


It was a sunny August afternoon and children could be found as far as the eye could see, playing games of tag and hide-and-go-seek.

The small town of Falmouth housed quite an impressive group of youngsters, most of them girls. This was almost entirely due to The Cornwall Home for Destitute Little Girls. It was an orphanarium located on the edge of town; not the type of horrible orphanage one usually thinks of. It was a wonderful place to live; the caretakers were very loving and treated the girls like their own children.

It was on this day that a young woman was sitting in her room, not joining in on the merriment. She felt she was much too old for the games, and in fact she was the oldest girl living there. But that would all soon change; she would turn eighteen the next day and was getting ready to move out of the orphanage. However, this did not sadden Talia Grace; while she loved her home it was not where she truly belonged. She belonged to a world much more exciting than this one. A light breeze entered into her window where she sat upon her bed; her things were neatly stowed away in her trunk and ready to be taken downstairs.

Talia had been given her own room, due to her age, and it was now bare. It was small and plain but it had suited her needs perfectly. The star chart that she had to keep hidden behind her dresser lay on her bed as she studied it. The previous year she had bewitched it, with Professor Flitwick's help, to change with the rotation of the heavens. She quickly rolled it up as a knock came on her door. "Come in!" Talia scurried to remove the chart from view as the door opened. But she breathed a sigh of relief as Sister Mary Thomas entered her room. Sister Mary was the matron of the Cornwall Home and knew everything about Talia's "gifts."

"Talia, why aren't you outside on a beautiful day like today?" "I just wanted to make sure my things were in order." The nun smiled at the young woman that only last year seemed so child-like. She had matured quite rapidly over the summer. Her straw colored hair had relaxed into a shimmering gold and her once thin and sinewy body had developed graceful curves; her face had thinned out losing some of the babyish charm it held only three months ago. Unbeknownst to Talia, but not the rest of the world, she had developed into quite a beauty.

"Well, Father Fitzpatrick has arranged for a car to bring you to London, it should be coming in about two hours. For now I was wondering if you would join me for a picnic outside." Talia looked up at Sister Mary's hopeful face and even though she would have rather stayed where she was, she got up to join her. Talia looked around the building with an appreciative gaze; the beautiful granite and stone walls shown in the light of the afternoon. As she inhaled deeply she could taste the salt of the sea on her tongue. While it was beautiful, she knew that it could never surpass the beauty of Hogwarts; she missed her school dearly and couldn't wait to go back the very next day.

She was torn from her daydreams as a chorus of "SURPRISE" startled her out of her wits. The look of shock strewn across her face was immediately replaced with a smile. The young children that had always looked up to her bombarded her from every angle. They all wanted to be close to her; she was being dragged in ten different directions until Sister Joan interfered; "Now girls give Talia a moment to eat. I'm sure she would love to play after she's had her farewell luncheon."

"Oh please Talia, won't you tell us a story about the wizard land?" A sweet and rambunctious brunette named Anna looked up at Talia with pleading in her eyes. Talia had taken to telling the girls fantastic stories about Hogwarts and wizarding adventures. They all thought Hogwarts to be a fantasy land and believed she made up this imaginary place; while she had made up the adventures in her stories, Hogwarts was in fact a real place.

She smiled at Anna, bending down to bring her into a tight hug, "Of course I will but for now let's eat!" As she ate, Talia let her thoughts drift again to Hogwarts. While she loved the school so much she knew inwardly that she became an entirely different person there.

While she was in Falmouth she was outgoing and friendly, surrounded by children eager for her attention; school however was quite different as she would revert into a shy girl becoming a loner. Most of her classmates, if they even thought of her at all, saw her as a queer person. She kept mostly to herself, her nose buried in her Astronomy books. That was her only passion besides potions; she loved the stars and would spend many a night in the Astronomy tower gazing out into the heavens. Her secret fantasy was that she could become a star, but she knew that transfiguring herself into an orb of burning gases would never happen.

Before she could even finish her lunch the girls of Cromwell House gathered around her impatiently waiting for the story to begin. She took great care in building up their suspense by chewing as slowly as possible. Finally Avalbane, who was only three years her junior, gave her an exasperated sigh, "By the time you finish you'll have to leave!" Talia laughed as she set her plate down and cleared her throat with a decisive air. The children's faces lit up with eager anticipation and scooted in a bit closer so as not to miss a word.


As Talia sat in the small room for let at the Leakey Cauldron she couldn't help but shiver with anticipation. She already missed the girls of Cromwell, but promised to post as often as possible. This was it for her; this was going to be her year. No more shoving her nose in a book, she promised herself she would break from her shell and become a new person. What troubled her was the question of how; how could she become someone new if she didn't even know who she was now? She knew nothing of her past or her parentage. The nuns used to recount how she was left on their doorstep with only a note.

Please take care of her

She received her name from Mother Mary St. John, who at the time was the matron there. Talia, it was a beautiful name that she came to learn meant drew from heaven and close to water. Both were correct as far as the nuns were concerned. She was found at high tide, with the smell of the sea lifting past the brush and up to the doorstep on which she laid. The Sisters always remarked on what a well behaved child she had always been; impetuous and inquisitive yes, but never wicked.

The thought of the women who had cared for her for the past seventeen years comforted her as she drifted off to sleep.


King's Cross station bustled with busy travelers as Talia pushed her trolley along the path towards the gateway between the 9th and 10th platform. She thought listlessly back to her first encounter with this magical portal. She had all but given up on finding platform 9 ¾ when she plopped down crying and leaned back onto a wall. It was then that she slipped through the solid stone, arriving at the Hogwarts platform.

That memory made her laugh as she walked through the wall and into the beginning of her last year at Hogwarts. Pushing her cart alongside the waiting train she watched as mothers fussed over their children and fathers made sure the luggage was being stowed properly. A pang of want coursed through her body. Oh how she had always longed for a mother to fuss over her and re-check all her luggage twice, making sure she had everything she needed; a father to pull her into a tight hug and tell her to be good and keep her grades up.

Father Fitzpatrick was always so good to her and said those things when he dropped her off at the Leaky Cauldron the night before, but it wasn't the same. All her life she had wondered where she came from and now she went back to school with the hope that she could find out. Talia boarded the train lugging her things behind her, as she made her way to the back of the train she realized that she was reverting. She was making her way to the back, her usual escape from contact with others.

Looking to her right she glanced into the glass paneled door of one of the compartments. A pretty redhead, she knew as Lily Evans sat chatting animatedly with a brunette Talia recognized as Alice Matthews. They were as good a couple as any to try and start a friendship with, seeing as they all shared a dormitory, so she slid open the door. The two girls paused turning towards her and a look of surprise came across their faces.

"Do you mind if I join you?"

They looked startled but Alice quickly remembered her manners and smiled, "Of course, come on and sit down. Lils here has to go and take care of her head girl duties so you can keep me company." Talia sat down as Lily eyed her, a great deal of wonder written across her face. Talia couldn't blame her, while there was no bad blood between them only a lack of friendship. Talia rarely spoke to either of the girls, but she smiled weakly as she tried to break the ice. "So how was your summer?" Alice raised her eyebrows at this and started laughing, "Yeah Lil how was your summer?" Lily quickly shot her a nasty look, "Shut it Matthews!" But Alice just laughed as a confused Talia sat there quietly.

She should have known this would be a bad idea, every student in this school had established bonds with one another; who was she to invade on that. But just as she began to sink further into hopelessness Alice turned her laughter towards Talia. "You see what Lily here is so shy about is the fact that she spent the entire summer visiting back and forth with a certain James Potter." Talia smiled as she turned towards Lily, "Wow I thought you hated him." Lily, still weary of sharing her feelings with a relative stranger shrugged slightly, "I guess he's okay now, not such a prat anymore."

Talia nodded as she looked out the window, "Good for him, I mean he has had a crush on you since first year." Alice and Lily looked incredulously at the girl across from them. Of course everyone in the entire school knew about James' outlandish attempts to woo Lily but hearing it coming from Talia's mouth seemed weird. Here this girl knew things about their lives while they barely even noticed her, it seemed unnatural. Lily gave Talia a sheepish smile and fingered her new Head Girl badge almost as if to check if it was still there.

Just then a Ravenclaw 7th year Prefect by the name of George (Talia couldn't remember his last name) popped his head into their compartment. "Hey Evans, we’d better go if we want to get ready for the Prefect meeting." Lily got up hurriedly and grabbed a stack of parchment.

The boy turned to Alice bidding her hello and then surprisingly smiled at Talia, "Hey Talia how was your summer?" Talia turned her head slightly eyeing the boy with interest, he had never been impolite to her but he rarely said more than two words to her; hello and goodbye. She shrugged slightly adapting Lily's same defense mechanism, "Okay I guess yours?" He beamed with pride as he told her that he had gone on a research expedition with his father in Russia. Lily had to drag him physically away from the compartment before he was out of ear shot.

The train started with a lurch as an uncomfortable silence crept over the two sole inhabitants of the compartment. Alice turned towards Talia in an attempt at friendship. "I think that George there has got a crush on you." Talia grew red as she raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Wha—What do you mean…a crush." Alice shook her head in disbelief, "Didn't you notice how he was trying to impress you. I know George pretty well and he definitely fancies you."

Talia turned away from Alice, staring out the window. She was thoroughly embarrassed that Alice had picked up on it and was now teasing her about it. There wasn't much time for Alice to say anything comforting to Talia because just then the door burst open and a group of three laughing Gryffindors came piling in.

"Did you see the look on old Snivellus' face? I thought I was going to burst!" Sirius positively roared with laughter. Peter sauntered in after Sirius, with a thoroughly amused look on his face. "I swear one of these days he's going to end up stuck as a frog!" Peter stated as he plopped on the seat next to Alice.

He raised his eyebrow inquisitively at Talia as she sat there glancing intermittently at each of the Marauders. Sirius quickly stepped in before Alice or Talia could say a word, "Why hello, are you new? I haven't met you before." Sirius sat next to Talia and flashed her the mind-blowing smile he used on so many girls. She was taken aback for a moment and then looked at Alice with a confused glance.

Alice began to laugh so hard that tears came streaming down her eyes, Talia was shocked for a second but then started to chuckle. Before another moment had passed the two girls were in stitches over Sirius' stupidity. Sirius just looked at the two of them thoroughly confused as Peter sat silently grinning. It had taken a minute but he did recognize Talia as a fellow 7th year and Gryffindor to boot.

"Will someone please tell me what's so funny?!" "Sirius, you daft git! That's Talia, she's only been in the same house as you for the past six years!" Alice's comment caused the group to laugh even harder. At this point a very red faced Sirius was surrounded by his classmates in complete hysterics at his expense. He managed to grumble a short apology after everyone had calmed down; though every once in a while Alice would look his way and let out a stifled chuckle.

Quick to change the subject Peter turned to show everyone his new wand. His old one had been broken last year though he claimed he didn't know how it happened; one of the Marauders' infamous pranks caused the accident, no doubt. "Holly, ten inches long." He stated as he swished his new wand through the air. "

What's the core?" Talia asked coming out of her daze. "Knarl quill," he stated matter-of-factly.

"Oh, really?" Talia asked, "that's really interesting." Peter looked a little nervous and gave a slight squeak when he asked her what she meant by that. "Well holly is associated with the circle of life and death, representing renewal; and a Knarl is a very untrusting creature and is often wary of strangers. I think our wands say a lot about who we are. Your wand would also be very good for Astronomy, I think."

The others looked at her in a weird way; they weren't quite sure how to take this girl. She seemed a bit barmy to them but somehow she was really interesting. Sirius was next to submit his wand for inspection. Talia held it lightly as he handed it over and measured it next to her own. "It looks like Alder to me," he nodded prompting her to continue,"12 inches?" He smiled as she guessed correctly. "What's the core?" "Dragon heartstring," he said proudly. Talia smiled at him and handed his wand back. "Well, believe it or not the Alder is one of the strongest types of wand wood. It represents strength, tenacity and determination. The Dragon heartstring represents unmitigated strength and bravery."

The wand conversations took them well into the journey; just as Talia was beginning to enjoy spending time with the people that were hopefully her new friends, the glass door slid open. Bellatrix Black stared haughtily into the compartment, "Alright there you lot. Not going to have to hand out detentions, am I?" She turned slightly so her Prefects badge shimmered in the light from overhead. "Get off it Bella," Sirius growled at her.

Talia had never paid any attention to the nasty Slytherin and Bellatrix Black, like most other Slytherins stayed away from Talia. No one bothered her much because no one ever noticed her; today however was quite different. Bellatrix scanned the group until her eyes rested upon Talia. A nasty sneer skewed her beautiful face as she spit out, "A new member of the Sirius fan club? Probably a mudblood to boot."

Sirius stood angrily, not entirely because he was jumping to Talia's defense but just out of hate for Bella; Talia however, was the first to speak. "Actually I don't know whether or not I'm muggle born. No idea who my parents are, but I assure you if being pureblood means being like you I'd rather be a mudblood." Everyone in the compartment stared at Talia, usually James or Sirius dealt with Sirius' cousin and sent her packing; everyone else in the group steered clear of Bella's wrath as she was unusually talented at hexes and curses.

Talia didn't know this fact, nor did she care; being hexed wasn't something that Talia feared. Bella gathered her response and gave Talia a stare of death, "You don't know who you're messing with, mudblood." Before anything else could be said Sirius waved his wand and the compartment door was shut in Bellatrix's face.

The room became silent until Sirius broke the ice apologizing for his nasty cousin. "Sorry about her, I really wish I wasn't a Black." Unbothered by Bella's comment Talia looked straight into Sirius' face with an incredulous stare. How could he say that? At least he had a family "At least you know where you come from."

Sirius didn't respond to her comment and luckily the train stopped, pitching them forward and signaling the end of their trip. The uncomfortable silence was broken by the students grunting and gathering their things.

Talia carefully gathered the plastic traveling cage which housed her pet lizard, Iggy. She remembered begging McGonagall to make an exception for her, explaining that Iggy was just like a pet rat. McGonagall eventually gave in, which was unusual for her. Talia was a bit hesitant when the group of students reached the carriages that would take then to Hogwarts castle. She watched as her fellow Gryffindors boarded the carriage; Remus, Lily and James, who were done with their duties loaded into the coach as well.

The moment came when Talia turned and went to border another carriage, Alice popped her head out the window. "Come on, we'll have to squeeze though." Talia lowered her head, "It's okay, I don't want to put you out; I can find another carriage." "Oh don't be silly, get in here." Talia felt her heart soar as she silently thought to herself they actually want me in here She climbed into the waiting coach and moments later it jolted forward en route to Hogwarts. As usual she watched the castle grow larger as they approached. Even after six years of seeing Hogwarts it still amazed her. It was still unbelievable to her that she was a witch. Talia of all people had never been unique, she was always plain and ordinary. Being at Cromwell made her feel alive and special; because she had something that the others didn't, she was extraordinary. Here at Hogwarts she reverted back to her ordinary self with everyone having the same gift of magic. It may have been a selfish way of thinking but that is how it was.

As she was all consumed with her thoughts Talia didn't noticed that the carriages had stopped. She looked at the others and saw that they were just as confused as she was. She felt the carriage begin to buck and lurch back and forth. The violent shaking of the carriage scared its inhabitants as they were tossed back and forth within it. Talia managed a peek out its curtains as the coach turned over on its side sending everyone flying on top of her. The red streak of light that she saw was most definitely a spell.

Maybe the magic of the coach went awry and someone had to stop it

The students were visibly shaken as Professor McGonagall and Professor Sinistra ran to the coach and began helping the students out of the door that now stood on top of the overturned carriage. The students watched as McGonagall ordered the other coaches to continue asking only two to stay behind. She hastily divided the students into two groups and shoved them into the other carriages.

Talia tried to stop her, "But Professor, my lizard!" "I will make sure all your things, including your lizard, arrive safely. Now GO!" Talia boarded the awaiting carriage with Peter and Alice; unfortunately the Slytherins in the coach were only too happy to see her. She attempted to ignore them and as they resumed their route to Hogwarts Talia caught a glance of Professor Dumbledore walking towards the now right standing carriage. It was then that she noticed scorch marks on the side, but it disappeared from view before she saw anything else.

Bellatrix Black turned to Talia with a sneer, "So I have the mudblood cornered without her little savior huh?" Alice sat up straight as she looked over protectively at her new found friend. Peter looked back and forth between Talia's placid face and Bella's angry one, staying resolutely quiet and as far down in his seat as he could. It was then that Talia started to realize she was getting annoyed. It took a lot to push her buttons but this girl definitely knew how to do it. "Listen, what was your name? Bella, I have no problem with you, in fact I could care less about you so just clear off okay!" Bellatrix and her cronies, Talia recognized as Regulas Black, Narcissa Black and Edmund Crabbe started to laugh. She mistakenly took Talia's offer of truce for fear. What she didn't realize was that it didn't matter to Talia whether or not they had a row, in fact she was trying to push her buttons; especially with the "what was your name" comment. She knew that Bella's pride would have gotten the best of her as she tightened her hand around her own wand.

"Oh I don't think so mudblood…you have it coming to you don't you!"

"Leave her alone Black!" Alice had just about enough of that horrid creature and growled at the group of Slytherins looking menacingly at Talia. The tension in the carriage seemed to mount almost brewing to explosion point when the coach stopped. Moments later Sirius and James were at the carriage door, flinging it open for their friends to pile out. "I was afraid she would start something. You guys okay?" He questioned as Alice rolled her eyes. "We're fine, she's such a wanker!"

Talia just raised her eyebrows and laughed at Alice. She had always thought her a proper young lady never envisioning a cuss escaping her lips. Everyone in their group began laughing as Remus and Lily walked up. "What's so funny?" Lily asked. "Oh nothing, just something Alice said about Bella Black." James said as he took Lily's hand in his own. She blushed slightly as he did this but, for the first time as far as anyone out of their small circle knew, she did not pull away and call him a git.

Filing in to the Great Hall, Talia felt a sense of calm come over her. She looked towards the head table as Professor Dumbledore quickly took his seat. That was fast I wonder what happened to those coaches But she pushed it out of her mind as she sat in her own normal seat towards the end of the table. She did this without noticing and was confused when Alice gave her a weird look, "Do you want to join us?"

"Are you sure?" Talia asked, her usual self-consciousness beginning to resurface once more. Sirius had regained his playboy composure and moved down slightly, "You can sit next to me." He said with a wink. Talia didn't even blush, having never been flirted with before, she didn't realize his intentions and stood up and made her way over to him.

For the first time since she came to Hogwarts Talia had friends, instead of just acquaintances; or at least she hoped so. She smiled happily, knowing that she was making a fresh start as she settled in to watch the first years follow Professor McGonagall to the front of the room.

A/N: Hey please READ/REVIEW tell me what you think??? Thanks!! :-)

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