Chapter 1

First Impressions

Lurching onto Platform 9 ¾ was not exactly how Lian pictured her first step towards Hogwarts. She'd taken several portkeys that morning, and was relieved to finally reach the last destination. Ish. Now it seemed she just had to sit on a red steam engine for the foreseeable future. The train was beautiful, but struck her as somewhat ordinary.

She climbed onto one of the carts, hefting her suitcase up behind her with minor difficulty, and settled in the first empty compartment she could find. After stowing her baggage in the overhead rack, she claimed the seat nearest the window so she could watch the platform fill with all kinds of magicfolk from all over the United Kingdom.

Some of them would be her schoolmates soon. Not immediately, perhaps, but soon. Her eyes were captured by a group of people suddenly appearing near the back of the train, all with vivid red hair. Among them was a boy with glasses who was saying goodbye to his pet dog, a big, black thing the size of a small bear. She smiled softly, though no one saw.

She'd had a few goodbyes herself. Her siblings and mother were excited for her, but her father just cried when it came time for her to leave. She'd had a pet too, but customs wouldn't allow her to bring him along.

Lian suddenly had the feeling that someone was in fact watching her. She scanned the platform outside the window, which was full of wizards and witches with their children; some in robes and others in street clothes. Then, she spotted it. There was a man leaning against a pillar who, for whatever reason, drew her gaze. Maybe it was the scarred and mangled face, or maybe it was the long trenchcoat. Maybe it was even the clawed, wooden foot sticking out from under his robes, but most likely it was the false eye that was trained on her.

At first she had a difficult time reaching any of his memories or emotions, but finally she was filled with an overwhelming sense of suspicion. The man had had a busy morning, he was like a hired bodyguard or something to keep an eye or two on a large group of people. No, Lian strained to extract the correct memory from this distance, he wasn't a bodyguard he ex-auror. She blinked at the battleworn man, raising her eyebrows. Cool.

"Who are you?" the door had opened suddenly and the speaker caught her off guard. She looked up to find a whole entourage staring down at her. "This is our compartment!"

"I didn't see your name on it." Lian replied, eying the group. The speaker was a boy with prominent cheekbones and a scar on his left eyebrow. Behind him was two burly boys, a girl with freckles and a strong jaw, and another girl with ash blonde hair. "Unless you intend to tell me that, collectively, your names are Compartment J?"

"We always sit here." the girl with the strong jaw piped up. Or rather, growled. "You can leave."

"In the time it's taken you to argue over seating arrangements, you could have found another empty compartment to invade." The whistle rang out across the train, and it began to move along the tracks. "As it is, you might just get stuck with me."

"Or you could learn how to count, and leave before we make you." the first boy said menacingly, taking out his wand.

Lian's own wand started to tremble in her pocket. "How about instead I tell everyone about your adventure with a vampire this summer?" The boy froze, the other four frowning in bewilderment. "Or what about your-" she directed herself at the burly boy to his right, "-new diet plan, that your mother's forcing you to do because you can no longer fit into any of your age-appropriate clothing? And let's not forget about your-" she looked at the other massive boy. "-father's habit of coming home and-"

"Oy!" the third boy grunted, his eyes wide. "How're you doing that!"

"It's called magic," Lian said matter-of-factly. "What on earth have you been studying for the past few years?" She leaned back in her seat as the train began to pick up speed. "You can either sit here with me or go terrorize a few twelve year olds into submission. I'm not moving."

The girls exchanged a wry look, before pushing past the slack-jawed boys into the compartment and loading up their suitcases. The ash blond took the seat beside Lian, while Strong-Jaw sat across from her. "Millicent Bulstrode."

"And Daphne Greengrass."

"Pleasure to make your acquaintance," said Lian dryly. "And you boys? Gonna ride the whole trip looking like a couple of trout?"

A moment later the five of them were seated, though the burly boys had taken up a kind of vigil near the door. Lian discovered that their names were Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle; while the pouty faced boy was called Blaise Zabini. He glared at her for several minutes, even after she'd pulled out a textbook and started to read. A few minutes into the trip and they were joined by another boy with perfectly styled brown hair, whom they called Theo, or Nott in some cases. He cast a look over at Lian in the corner. "Who's this?"

"Hasn't been quite forthcoming-" Greengrass began to say, but was interrupted by Zabini.

"Bloody-mind reader, that's who." he said, sounding disgruntled from where he sat on Daphne's other side.

Lian gave a hollow laugh. "Hardly, I assure you. My name is Lian Kowalski, and you don't recognize me because I'm transferring to Hogwarts from another school."

"Why?" Bulstrode asked, shifting aside to make room for Nott, who insisted on being closer to the window.

"Because I wanted to, and nobody said I couldn't."

"So you haven't been sorted yet?" Greengrass frowned.

"At Hogwarts? Seeing as I've never set foot in the place I'm going to have to say no."

"What about your last school? Were there not houses there?" Nott inquired, his expression bored but his tone curious.

"Yes. Ilvermorny has four Houses, same as Hogwarts. I was in Thunderbird." Lian explained, fidgeting with the hem of her skirt. She'd been given the plain black robes that these British students wore, but in the meantime she kept a few nods to her former school, such as the blue and cranberry plaid skirt.

"What are the other three called?" someone asked, but she hadn't paid attention to whom.

"There's Wampus, Pukwudgie, and Horned Serpent."

"Let me guess," Zabini said, leaning forward. "Thunderbird's the smart house, Wampus is the idiot house, Pukwudgie's the pushover house, and Horned Serpent is the best house."

Lian blinked calmly at him, also leaning forward to view him properly. "Not even close. Horned Serpent represents the mind of a wizard, and favors scholars. Students in that house are a little bit vague and aloof from the other houses. Pukwudgie represents the heart of a wizard, and favors healers. Wampus represents the body of a wizard and prefers warriors. Thunderbird-" Lian huffed, sitting up straight and looking at Zabini down her nose. "-represents the soul, and favors adventurers. But please, tell me which of your houses are classified as the, what was it again?" she mimed confusion before pretending to have revelation. "Oh yeah, the smart house, idiot house, pushover and best house, as you so eloquently depicted."

Greengrass and Bulstrode shared that same wry expression, but this time with Nott as well. Zabini didn't look as mollified as Lian would have hoped, but he did seem at a loss. Ilvermorny: 1, Hogwarts: 0.

Clearing her throat pointedly, she raised her book up and continued to read. It wasn't a book for any class she'd signed up for this year, it was one her uncle had sent for her birthday a few weeks ago. She'd read about Nifflers before she'd gone to bed last night, and was just reaching the interesting chapter on Thestrals. Apparently the largest herd in existence was somewhere within the Forbidden Forest, under Albus P. W. B. Dumbledore's protection.

"A Thestral can only be seen by those who have

witnessed death and have accepted its reality."

She read quietly, but paused to consider the fact. So, if I watched Zabini die, but lived in a perpetual state of denial, then I wouldn't be able to see one? Interesting. What else?

"This magical beast is classified under XXXX, meaning that

only experienced and qualified wizards should be handling

these magnificent creatures.

Breeding or owning Thestrals is discouraged or illegal (vary-

-ing with regions,) without Ministry consent."

What about MACUSA? She wondered, taking out a pen and making a note in the margins.

Almost an hour had passed when the sliding door opened, revealing a disagreeable looking pair. The boy was tall and lean, with white blond hair and pointed features. The girl had dark hair and green eyes, with an upturned nose that would have been cute, except it was displayed on a sour expression. She sat next to Bulstrode while the boy she came with sat on her other side. From where Lian observed from over her textbook, she noticed that they both wore silver badges engraved with a 'P'.

"You lot wouldn't believe who else has made Prefect," the boy declared, his voice so loud Lian wondered if he'd taken acting classes as a child. She could picture a miniature version of him staring up at a flamboyant man while he waved his arms emphatically. Project your voice, that's the ticket! "Macmillan and Abbott from Hufflepuff, Patil and Goldstein-" Lian found that she was paying attention more and more, whether because the boy's drawling tone was drilling into her ears or because of the surnames he was listing off. "-from Ravenclaw-and get this: the Mudblood and Weasley from Gryffindor." This pronouncement was followed by a kind of smug look, as though he'd achieved something impossible.

"Really? Dumbledore didn't appoint his precious Potter as Prefect?" Zabini replied, spitting a little every time he spoke his p's. "Has the Boy-Who-Lived gone and become the Boy-Who-Finally-Kicked-the -Bucket?"

Malfoy looked thoughtful. "Maybe. Common boys, let's have a look." He stood up, followed by the two sentries by the door and vanished down the hallway.

Once they were gone, the girl with the sour face said, "I doubt it. It'd be all over the Prophet, wouldn't it?" her green eyes latched onto Lian, narrowing instantly. "Who are you?"

Lian set her book in her lap and placed a hand across her chest dramatically, her eyes wide. "You can see me?" She then let out a sigh of relief. "For a moment there I thought I'd turned invisible. Again."

"You don't go to Hogwarts, I've never seen you before." the girl insisted, ignoring Bulstrodes sniggering.

"I go to Hogwarts now, and it's a thrill to meeting someone like you on my first day, Miss…?"

"Parkinson," she barked, still looking suspicious and confused. "Pansy Parkinson. But you're not a First Year, I mean you're…" she glanced up and down Lian's body before quickly looking back at her face. "I mean…"

Lian smiled widely. "Don't be embarrassed, Parkinson, you're not the first one to think what you just thought by looking at me. I'm a transfer student, and you'd better explain that to your boyfriend when he gets back because I don't like repeating myself."

She raised her book once again, refusing to expound any further on the matter. She could hear Parkinson whispering with Bulstrode and Nott. "What is she doing in our compartment?"

It was Zabini who replied. "She wouldn't leave."

"You're a wizard, aren't you? Make her." Parkinson spelled out.

"No don't," Greengrass said. "She's funny. And if you do force her out, Blaise, I'll write your mother about that...what was it again…"

"Vampire." Lian supplied from behind her book.

"Yes, that!" Greengrass giggled.

"What!" Parkinson hissed. "Blaise Alcides Za-"

"Shut up!" Zabini cried, and there was a scuffling noise as though he'd tried to kick her. Still hidden behind her book, Lian smiled to herself. This was going to be an interesting year.

Authors Note: Whew! Tell me what you think. I'll try to update again tomorrow.