Chapter one - It's all about the colour you wear
The platform is one big blur of people. I can almost feel the excitement in the air, mixed together with happiness, tension and melancholy. The start of the new school year is a day for heavy emotions. Watching the students say hello to their friends and goodbye to their parents makes me feel like even more of an outsider, sitting inside the train on my own.
The door of the compartment opens and I look up.
'You are not supposed to be here', a short boy says in a cold tone. He has small watery eyes and a pointy nose.
A darkly handsome guy pushes him aside. 'But since you're cute, you can stay', he says with a wink.
I know I shouldn't be charmed by the compliment - my gut tells me that he's a massive flirt - but I've got to admit part of me is impressed. Not that he needs to know that. 'Who says you're handsome enough to make me stay?' I challenge him, one eyebrow raised.
For a moment he is at a loss for words, but then he slowly grins, accepting the challenge. 'My name is Sirius Black, and you are?' he asks and holds out his hand.
I take his hand, to shake it, but he places a kiss on it, making me stare at him. 'Violette Leclair', I introduce myself slowly.
'Beautiful', he says, but I'm not sure what he is referring to, my name or me in general. 'I'm pretty sure you'll stay, but be my guest if you want to leave.'
'You're trouble, aren't you?'
Sirius' smile turns into a smirk. 'You have no idea.'
He knows he's attractive, and he knows how to use it. I don't want to give him too much attention, because he is trouble, so I throw him an indifferent look and take a sip of my take-away coffee.
He's not bothered by it at all. 'This is my friend Peter Pettigrew, please forgive his earlier rudeness.'
'Sure', and I give him a small smile.
Sirius' smile widens, seeing it as a victory. 'So, Violette, transfer student? Which year?'
'Yeah, we'll be seventh years now', Peter pipes in. He seems happy to be able to say something.
Before I can answer, the door opens again and two other guys walk in. '-after that she had another glass of wine and hit the dance floor-' the dark haired one is telling the brown haired one, wildly demonstrating with his hands what happened on the dance floor.
'Guys', Sirius interrupts them, making them look up. 'Meet lovely Violette Leclair. Violette, meet James Potter and Remus Lupin.'
The light brown haired one offers me his hand to shake. 'I'm Remus', he introduces himself politely. 'I take it you're a transfer student, so welcome to Hogwarts.'
'Padfoot, since when did we start to invite girls into our compartment?' James asks and flops down next to Sirius, looking bored. He runs a hand through his hair, messing it up. Sirius elbows James, who starts to laugh. 'Fine, nice to meet you. Which year will you start in?'
I offer him the same small smile I gave Sirius earlier. 'Seventh year.'
'Splendid', Sirius grins, happy with the answer.
'Have you been Sorted yet?' Remus asks, in a soft and even voice.
Peter gasps. 'She doesn't know!'
'Hogwarts has four Houses', Remus informs me, ignoring Peter's dramatic behaviour. 'Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.'
'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart', James goes on, grinning at Sirius.
'And it's also for the attractive ones, obviously', Sirius adds with a wink.
Remus rolls his eyes. 'Ignore them.'
Sirius holds up a finger. 'Please don't. It's important, Violette.'
I can't help it and laugh at his solemn face. 'Now I remember that I've read about it, but I haven't put much thought into it. I guess I'll get Sorted later on or something.'
'In short, Gryffindor is awesome, Slytherin is evil, Ravenclaw is for the smart ones and Hufflepuff is the all the rest', James sums up. 'So you better take it seriously.'
'Your whole life will depend on this', and Sirius stares at me intently.
I bite my lip, not sure how to respond.
'Guys, stop it', and Remus rolls his eyes again. 'Please, ignore them, Violette. How comes you're transferring now?'
I keep my eyes on Sirius, who's still staring at me. His eyes are shining with amusement. 'Eh, my mum switched jobs and we had to move.' Sirius is highly distracting and I'm pretty sure he knows it. 'What's Hogwarts like?'
'Exciting', Sirius drawls, without taking his eyes off me.
'Okay, Padfoot, stop staring at her like that', and Remus sounds a bit irritated. 'Anyway, it was great to meet you, but James and I have to go. Prefect meeting. If there is anything I can help you with later on, don't hesitate to ask.'
'Yeah, something like that', James mutters and gets up. 'Laters, guys.'
'So, Violette, I almost have you to myself.'
I force myself to not look at Sirius, because if I do I'm pretty sure I'll blush if I do. 'How long is the train ride again?'
'A while', Peter answers.
I almost forgot about him. I look at the smaller boy – I can't think of him as a seventeen-year-old, he is so short. He is flattered because of my eye contact and his cheeks turn a dark red. Somehow he doesn't really fit into the group. 'How did you all became friends?'
Sirius shrugs casually. 'We all got Sorted into Gryffindor and became friends that way. We're pretty different, but somehow it fits.'
I notice how Sirius and Peter exchange a look, and I know that there is more to that story. However, I don't push. Peter seems to love the fact that he's part of it, because he sits up straighter.
The train ride to Hogwarts isn't too bad. It's mostly Sirius flirting with me, and sometimes Peter pipes up. At the end of the train ride James and Remus join us again.
'You can leave your suitcase in the train, it will be brought to your dorm later on by the house elves', Remus tells me when we get out.
The platform is packed and it makes me itchy. Crowds have always made me nervous. I wrap my arms around myself and I try to look as carefree as I can, but when Sirius gives me a concerned look I know I'm failing. I give him a charming smile. 'It's just a lot of people', I tell him and notice the cigarette in his hand. 'Can I have one?'
The first drag already calms me down. I blow out the smoke slowly. 'Good, where do we go to now?'
Sirius smirks, but his eyes tell me that he's concerned and not as flirty as he was earlier. 'Come on, the carriages will bring us to the castle.'
I follow Sirius, enjoying my cigarette. 'So what will the rest of the evening be like?'
'Just the Sorting and food', he says with a shrug. 'Prepare for next Saturday, it's the first Gryffindor party of the-'
I freeze, making Peter run into me ('Hey!). 'What the hell is that?'
'What is what?'
I don't even know how to describe the thing that's pulling the carriage, so I just stare at it, ignoring Peter who's looking irritated at me, ignoring the other three guys who are staring at me like I've just lost my mind. I feel like I just did.
'What is she looking at?' James asks Sirius.
'It's called a Thestral', a voice behind us says, making me turn around. A slender girl with thick, dark red hair smiles kindly at me. 'Don't be afraid, it won't hurt you.'
'Hi, Lily', James greets her. He is a bit too enthusiastic and he messes up his hair. I guess he's into her.
Lily ignores James completely. 'I haven't seen you around before. My name is Lily Evans.'
I return Lily's smile. 'Violette Leclair, transfer student.'
'What do they look like?' Lily asks me when we get into the carriage, giving away that she can't see them either.
'What is a Thestral?' Peter asks in a high voice.
'A horse-like creature that can only been seen by a few people', Remus replies almost automatically. I can feel him staring at me. 'I had no idea they pulled the carriages.'
I have a feeling that I will regret my question, but I have to ask. 'And why exactly can I see them?'
Lily and Remus exchange a look. For a moment neither says anything, but then Lily tells me. 'You can only see them if you have seen someone die.'
'Lovely', and I pretend like James, Sirius and Peter aren't staring at me. 'So, I take it you're pretty interested into magical beasts, Lily?'
Thank Merlin that Lily is smart enough to follow my lead. 'Actually, not really. A friend told me a while ago and I remembered because I found it interesting. Potions is my favourite class.'
And that's enough to keep us talking until we've reached the castle. Lily gives me an update on most teachers. James is happy to help and Lily ignores him as often as she can. It makes me wonder how long James has been chasing after her.
Once outside the carriage, the castle takes my breath away.
'Every year when I return it stuns me again', Sirius says softly and I can feel his warm breath on my ear.
Sirius is standing way closer than I first thought. I can smell his perfume mixed with the cigarette smell, and I notice that his light eyes are not blue, but a stormy grey. 'Come on', he says when it becomes clear that I have no idea what I should say. I look away and follow him inside.
'Miss Leclair, please wait here with me', Professor McGonagall calls me over when we get in. She looks exactly the same as when I met her over the summer, stern but fair. 'Have you seen your brother?'
dfollon 'Professor McGonagall!' James almost shouts, grinning widely. 'Have you missed us?'
McGonagall looks like she wants to sigh. 'Hello, Mister Potter. Ah, isn't that your brother, Miss Leclair?'
I turn around and see a broody thirteen-year-old come in. He's tall for his age, neat blond hair and a bit of a tan. When his gaze meets mine he looks away immediately. I guess he's still acting like we're not related.
'Mister Leclair, please wait here', Professor McGonagall calls out to my brother when she's sure he can hear her. 'You and your sister will first be Sorted.'
Unhappy, Matthieu walks up to me. 'You smell like cigarettes', is the first thing he says to me, frowning.
I make sure my facial expression stays indifferent. 'I'm sure there is something wrong with your nose then. You know I have none.' My gaze locks with Sirius, who's smirking.
'Right', Professor McGonagall says, unfazed. 'Now, time for the rest of you to go to the Great Hall.'
'See you at the Table of Gryffindor', Sirius drawls and his eyes shimmer with amusement.
I raise an eyebrow. 'We'll see. Bye, guys.'
'You're five minutes here and you already found yourself a boyfriend?' Matthieu asks me, the disgust clear in his voice.
I ignore him completely, not up for an argument.
'You two, wait here', Professor McGonagall says when all of the students are in the Great Hall. 'I'll get the first years. You'll walk in with them. You two will be Sorted first, followed by the first years. Questions?'
'No, thank you', I answer politely.
Matthieu just nods.
And with that Professor McGonagall leaves us to ourselves.
'Any idea which House you'll get Sorted in?' I ask my brother without looking at him. I know he's not in a very chatty mood, but he's my little brother so I try anyway.
'Not interested in talking to you.'
And I get the door slammed into my face every time lately.
I bite my tongue and keep quiet.
It seems like ages until Professor McGonagall arrives with the first years. They are talking nervously amongst themselves, looking wide-eyed at us. I smile kindly at them.
'Form a line please', Professor McGonagall tells us. When she's satisfied she turns around and leads us through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.
The Great Hall is gigantic. The ceiling has a spell on it so it mimics the sky, and hundreds of candles are floating in the air. There are four long tables and one head table, where the Professors are seated. In front of it a small stool is standing with an old hat on top of it.
Professor McGonagall is standing next to the stool. 'Welcome, new students', she says with a small smile. 'When I call out your name, you'll sit down on the stool and I'll place the Sorting Hat on your head. It will tell you to which House you belong', she informs us. 'Matt Leclair.'
It bothers me that she doesn't say his full name, but it's probably because she can't pronounce it. Matthieu walks down to the stool, trying to look casual, but I know him enough to notice that he's nervous.
'GRYFFINDOR!' the Hat yells almost immediately when Professor McGonagall places the Hat on his head.
The Gryffindors cheer when Matthieu takes place at their table. I catch Sirius' gaze, who winks.
'Violette Leclair', she calls out my name with a heavy English accent.
I must admit that I'm a bit nervous, but I'm sure I hide it well.
'This is really interesting', something mutters into my ear, giving me goose bumps. 'It's been a while since I saw such an interesting mind. My, my, so many secrets, such a clever lie.'
I realise that the Sorting Hat can read my mind and I feel panic rise.
'Calm down, dear, your secrets are safe with me', it soothes me. 'Now, there is only one place that you truly belong. Off with you, to SLYTHERIN!'
My gaze locks with Sirius, and I remember his earlier words, Slytherins are evil. His face loses the smirk and his eyes turn cold. I guess he was serious. I look away, swallow the hurt and sit down at the Slytherin table.
Calculating eyes welcome me in my new House. Professor McGonagall continues with the Sorting Ceremony, so there is no time for anything else but looks.
I'm not interested in the Sorting Ceremony, so I just check out the student body. The Gryffindors are the loudest. Some catch my gaze and return it with a glare. The Ravenclaws are quieter, reserved claps for the new students. When a Ravenclaw looks my way, the relaxed attitude gets guarded instantly. There is not one Hufflepuff that looks over at the Slytherin table.
I guess Slytherins aren't popular.