Chapter One: New Adventures
I slowly made my way down the crowded hallway, trying to not step on any toes just yet. I had my full hiking backpack on my back and was tugging my school trunk behind me. I was trying to find an empty compartment to stash my stuff in, but every compartment I'd passed so far was full of chattering kids. I didn't want to have to deal with a large group, being completely exhausted from jet-lag at the moment.
"Do you need help?"
I jumped lightly at the dreamy-sounding voice. I looked over and saw a girl standing at the open door of an otherwise empty compartment. She had waist-long, light blond hair and wistful, heavy-lidded gray eyes, and she was smiling serenely at me as she waited for my answer.
"Uh … yeah, thanks," I said, taking a step towards her.
"You're welcome," she said, taking my school trunk and expertly putting it into the empty luggage rack above us. "You seemed like you were sleepwalking. I do that too, sometimes. That's why I wear shoes to bed."
I couldn't help smiling a little. This girl was a bit nutty, but I kinda liked it. She said whatever she wanted and didn't really care if you liked it or not. I noticed just then that her wand was hanging out behind her left ear, and that she was wearing what looked like handmade jewelry: a Butterbeer cork necklace and orange-bead earrings that looked like a mix between plums and turnips.
"That's a pretty smart idea," I said, putting my hiking backpack on top of my trunk. "I'm Reggie Dolan."
"I'm Luna Lovegood," she said dreamily. "You may join me if you like. People never join me, so it's always quiet."
"Thanks so much," I said, situating myself opposite Luna, next to the window. "I had to use an airplane to get here – damn, I hate jet-lag."
"What's 'jet-lag'?" Luna asked.
"It means that, even though it's 11 o'clock here, my body thinks it's 6 o'clock in the morning because that's what it is back home in New York. Long story short, I'm tired, I have a headache, I'm slightly grumpy, and I'm gonna have a hell of a time going to sleep."
"I see. I'll let you rest then," Luna said, whipping out her wand and turning the lights in the compartment slightly down before opening a magazine and reading it upside down.
I smiled gently at her. "Thanks, Luna," I whispered before closing my eyes and snuggling into my thick jacket.
'I correct what I said before,' I thought just before falling asleep. 'I really like this girl. She's a keeper, for sure.'
I don't know how long I was out, but next thing I knew, something smelling like the New York sewers splatted me in the face. I woke up with a bleary roar, rather miffed at finding myself covered in smelly green slime.
"What the hell is this?!" I said, wiping my face clean.
"S-sorry," a plump, brown-haired, buck-toothed boy gasped. "I haven't tried that before … Didn't realize it would be quite so … Don't worry, though, Stinksap's not poisonous," he added nervously as the person next to me spat some onto the Stinksap-covered floor.
"How the hell'd this get here?!" I asked testily, flinging my arms downward to get the worst of it off of me.
At that exact moment, the door to the compartment slid open.
"Oh … hello, Harry," the pretty, dark-haired, Asian girl said nervously. "Um … bad time?"
The person next to me wiped their face with one hand, revealing a young man with glasses.
"Oh … hi," he said blankly, making me assume this was Harry.
"Um …" the girl said. "Well … just thought I'd say hello … 'bye then."
Her face was bright pink as she closed the door. Harry slumped in his seat and groaned quietly.
"Never mind," another girl said. With her red hair and brown eyes, she was pretty too, but in a more fierce way than the girl before. "Look, we can get rid of all this easily. Scourgify!" she said after pulling her wand out of her sleeve. The Stinksap vanished, even the smell (thank goodness).
"Sorry," the nervous boy said quietly.
I chuckled. "Well, at least you weren't trying to poison us," I said, leaning over to grin at him. He gave me a small smile in return. I stuck out my long-and-sharp-nailed hand for him to shake. "Reggie Dolan."
"N-Neville Longbottom," he said, shaking my hand with a surprisingly firm grip. I raised an eyebrow as I peered at his hand but then smiled and squeezed back.
"I assume your name is Harry," I said, looking at the dejected, black-haired young man beside me. He nodded, looking over at me with depressed-looking emerald green eyes.
"Harry Potter," he said tiredly.
I blinked in surprise and peered at him closely.
"Really?" I asked. "I thought you'd be taller!"
Harry looked at me like I was crazy. "Why?"
I shrugged. "You're a celebrity. Celebrities are always larger in pictures and stories. Then again, they're always smaller in person, so I don't really know why I'm so surprised," I added, chuckling again. "Anyway, nice to meet ya, Harry Potter. I'm Reggie Dolan."
"Reggie?" he asked, knowing it was mostly a boy's name.
I rolled my eyes. "Short for 'Regina'. I know, stupid name, but Mom said she named me after my dad, so I can't change it."
"Who's your dad?"
I shrugged again. "Mom only told me his first name: 'Regulus'. Honestly, what sick-in-the-head mother would give her son a name like that?!"
I looked back at Harry, and he was staring at me like he'd seen a ghost.
"Regulus Black?!" he asked quietly.
I blinked and stared back at him. "Black's my mother's maiden name … or least, that's what she said. Why? D'you know him?"
Harry blinked before glancing over at the fierce girl, looking like he was thinking really hard.
"… I think I know his brother," Harry said quietly. "I could write him and ask, but I'd need your mum's name, if you don't mind."
"I don't mind," I said. "I'll even give you a picture." I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out a copy of a picture of my mom right after she moved to New York. I made many copies of this picture after I learned I was going to Hogwarts because I wanted to see if I could find someone who knew her. I wrote her first name on the back of the picture and handed it to Harry.
"Her name's Nienna," I said as Harry looked at the picture. "Her parents were really into Tolkien and all that."
"Into what?" the fierce girl asked.
"Tolkien," I said, almost amazed that these people hadn't heard of one of my favorite authors. "Y'know, J.R.R. Tolkien? Wrote The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings? Ever heard of 'em?"
She shook her head, flinging her deep red hair around.
"Raised by pureblood wizards," she said. "Sorry. They sound good, though."
"Oh, they are!" I said ecstatically.
"I love those books!" a newcomer said. I turned and saw a girl with bushy brown hair and sparkling brown eyes standing next to a boy with red hair and a long, freckly nose. It had been the girl who had spoken. "That was one of the first books I ever read on my own!"
I stared at her in surprise. "How old were you?"
"About six, I think," she said.
I whistled in amazement. "Damn! That's a heavy read for a six-year-old."
"I didn't understand all of it the first time," she said, "but when I read it again a couple years later, I understood much more."
"Have you read The Lord of the Rings?" I asked.
She grinned and nodded. "I had to skip some parts, though," she said sadly. "Mum and Dad thought they were too violent."
I rolled my eyes. "As if it would be worse than anything you could come up with yourself! Imaginary violence is always worse that real violence."
Harry chuckled, to my surprise. "That's for sure," he said, sounding like a war vet I'd once met.
I gave him a small smile. "Lots of adventures?" I asked.
Harry nodded, giving me a smile in return. "You have no idea."
"Oh, I probably will," I said, grinning mischievously, "'cuz you're stuck with me now. I'll be taking part in your adventures before long!"
To my surprise, Harry looked slightly worried at first, but he wiped that look away to grin back at me.
"If you say so," he said before turning to talk to the redhead and the bushy-haired girl.
I raised my eyebrows, slightly confused at how Harry was treating me. Was he trying to … protect me or something? Well, he had no need to, as far as I was concerned. I'd already been through Hell and back; I wasn't afraid of any so-called "adventure" and I would make sure he knew it.