Chapter One – The Hogwarts Express

September, 1936

"I wish you could go through the barrier with me," Minerva Duncan told her brother Stewart.

"Nah, you're better going in on your own," he said merrily.

Minerva looked at her brother. She was so proud of him, looking handsome in his British Navy uniform. She wanted to shout to the world that he was her brother.

"I'm going to miss you, Minnie," Stewart said sadly.

Just then it dawned on Minerva that Stewart's life was changing just as much as her own. Stewart was twelve years older than Minerva. Their parents had died when Minerva was five years old, and Stewart took it upon himself to raise her. He was the only parent figure Minerva could remember.

"Me too," Minerva whispered.

"It's always been just you and me against the world," Stewart said sadly.

Minerva gave him a salute, which he returned. "You saluted me like I was an high-ranking officer," she giggled.

"General Duncan," he laughed. "Don't you always order me around at home?"

"That's because I just want help with the chores," Minerva said, still laughing.

"Making me scrub the floor with my toothbrush, peeling thousands of potatoes at a time," Stewart said, mocking her.

"Careful officer, or I'll throw you in the brig!" Minerva warned, trying to make a serious face without laughing.

Stewart brought out his hands, as if he was waiting for her to handcuff him.

"I'll write as soon as I get settled," Minerva promised.

"What did the bloke call it?" Stewart asked.

"Owl post," Minerva said from memory.

"Owl post," Stewart repeated. He bent down and gave her a hug. "I can't believe I'm going to have owls flying into the army base."

A horrible thought crossed Minerva's mind, "What if they get shot down?"

Stewart raised his eyebrows as he adjusted his uniform. "That's a good point. You might want to ask someone over at school about that."

"I will," Minerva said seriously, "I hate the thought of a poor owl getting shot."

"What's the house that the rest of the family's in?" Stewart asked.

"Ravenclaw," Minerva told him, "That's where I'll be placed."

"You're sure?" Stewart asked.

"I'm sure," Minerva said confidently.

Minerva gave him a wave and then looked at the wall quizzically. How was it that on the other side of this wall was a whole different section of the train station? She closed her eyes and started pushing her trolley towards the wall. Just before the moment of contact, she closed her eyes tightly, waiting to hear the crash. It never came.

She looked around her in wonder. She had done it! Minerva looked at the Hogwarts Express in awe. It was the most beautiful train she had ever seen. She struggled with her trunk and then found a place to sit.

Minerva looked out at the corridor expectantly. She hoped that someone would ask if they could sit with her. Before she knew it, the train started moving, and Minerva sat in her compartment alone.

She took out one of her schoolbooks, Standard Book of Spells (Grade One) and started flipping through it. There was so much to learn! Finally she settled back and let her mind wander to the day her life had changed forever.

Minerva's parents had both been wizards. Her brother showed no magical tendencies, and everyone assumed that Minerva would be the same. She and Stewart lived like muggles, and didn't consider themselves part of the wizarding world at all. They did keep in contact with some of their extended family, so they weren't completely ignorant about the wizarding world. Most of the family politely ignored the siblings. They were the black sheep of the family. Everyone assumed the Duncan's no longer had magic.

Which is why she was so surprised when a professor from Hogwarts turned up on their doorstep two months ago, on Minerva's eleventh birthday.

She liked the professor, a Professor Dumbledore. Minerva giggled, remembering how astonished she was when he walked into the living room, an owl on his shoulder. He told her all about life at Hogwarts, and even accompanied Stewart and her to Diagon Alley.

There she bought her wand. A young man ran a wand shop called Ollivanders. It had taken forty-one tries, but a wand finally found her. It was eight and ¾ inches, made of mahogany with a core of a dragon heartstring. She couldn't wait to start using it.

Minerva knew that most of her extended family on both sides were all from Ravenclaw. She was determined to be in that house too, so she didn't lose face.

Just then a moment she had been dreading happened. The compartment door opened. Two boys entered, both older, and leering at her.

"Duncan?" one asked.

"Yes," Minerva sighed. This was one of her cousins, Adam McDougal, ones that didn't pay her and Stewart and her much attention.

"My mum didn't tell me you were going to Hogwarts," Jon McDougal said.

"I doubt that your mum knew. It's been a while since you sent a Christmas card," Minerva said bitterly. She hated that they thought they were better than her.

The boys decided to ignore the last comment. "What's your name again?"

"Minerva," she said quietly.

"Another muggle born at Hogwarts," Adam said.

"What's the school coming to?" Jon asked.

"My parents were wizards!" Minerva said hotly.

"True, but you were raised by a squib. You probably won't get very far in Hogwarts," Adam said innocently.

Minerva stood up quickly. "Don't you dare talk about Stewart that way!" she demanded.

Adam and Jon looked at each other and grinned. "See you around, Duncan," Jon said, laughing.

Minerva flung herself into her seat. How dare they make fun of Stewart! And saying she wouldn't go far! She would show them. She decided right then and there that she would become the smartest witch at Hogwarts.

"Can we sit here?" a girl asked sweetly. Minerva looked up quickly; she hadn't heard anyone enter the compartment. Then she did a double take. Right behind the girl was another girl who looked just like her.

"We're twins," the girl from behind said, answering Minerva's unasked question. The girls both had light blonde hair, which were braided tightly in two braids.

Minerva nodded, happy that she would have someone to sit with.

"I'm Abby Kirke," one girl said just as the other said, "And I'm Tabby Kirke."

"Please don't laugh," Abby said. "She's Tabitha, but she likes Tabby better."

"And she's Abigail, but she likes Abby better. Our mother is insane," Tabby said cheerfully.

Minerva couldn't help but laughing at their cheerfulness. "I'm Minerva. I prefer Minerva. Only my brother gets to call me Minnie," she said happily, her anger giving way.

"Are you a first year?" Abby asked.

Minerva nodded. "You?" she asked.

"We're first years. What house are you hoping for?" Tabby asked.

"Ravenclaw," Minerva answered promptly. "All of my extended family is there. What will you two be in?"

"Tabby's hoping for Ravenclaw, too. I think Hufflepuff would be the best. But we'll probably be sorted into Gryffindor. That's where our family's from," Abby said brightly.

Already Minerva liked these two. She had lived most of her life on an army base, which didn't leave much room for colorful characters like them.

Minerva told them that she had been raised as a muggle. Both girls promptly started telling her about wizarding games, such as exploding snaps and quidditch. Minerva listened carefully about quidditch. She had seen her cousins play a mock game once. A few of the younger ones laughed at her when they realized she couldn't fly. She briefly wondered if Adam and Jon played quidditch. She would love to learn how to play and beat them at a game.

"Anything off of the trolley, dear?" an elderly woman asked.

Minerva brought out her satchel that had her wizard money. She looked at the choices in awe. Abby and Tabby started loading up on sweets. After a minute, Tabby nudged Abby. They both looked at Minerva.

"Chocolate Frogs are the best," Abby whispered.

"I really like the licorice wands," Tabby added.

Minerva couldn't decide. Sweets weren't exactly forbidden by Stewart, but she never actually had gotten to choose her own before.

"Chocolate sounds good," Minerva said, deciding at last.

The witch pushing the trolley handed her a small package, and held her hand out.

"Seventeen knuts," the witch told her.

Minerva stared at her money. She couldn't remember which was which.

Tabby saw her dilemma, and picked out a silver coin to give to the trolley witch. The witch handed Tabby twelve small bronze coins back. Tabby dropped them back into Minerva's satchel with a smile.

"We can tell we're going to like having you as a friend," Abby said cheerfully.

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"First Years!" a voice called out. "First Years, over here please!"

Minerva looked to the voice, and saw a small man with an eye patch and an owl sitting on his shoulder.

"What are we doing?" Minerva whispered to Abby and Tabby.

Both girls shook their heads, not knowing the answer.

"I'm Ogg," the man said with a strong Scottish accent. Minerva wondered which part of Scotland he was from. Most likely the Highlands with his accent, she finally decided. "I'm the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts."

He led the students to a dock where a great number of boats were stationed. "Well, get in!" Ogg roared.

The students scrambled to find a seat. When everyone was settled, Ogg said in a deep voice, "Onwards!"

The boats were moving! They were moving and no one was rowing! Minerva told herself to remember every detail so that she could tell her brother.

"There it is!" Abby said happily.

"Home for the next seven years," Tabby added.

Minerva looked across the lake and saw the most beautiful castle she had ever seen. She couldn't help but sighing. She thanked the stars that she had been given magic so that she could learn in this wonderful place.

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When they entered the castle, Professor Dumbledore was waiting by a staircase. "You shall be entering in a few moments," he told the group, his eyes twinkling.

Then the Great Hall doors opened and Professor Dumbledore lead the First Years into the room. Minerva was absolutely enchanted by this school. When the professor had told her about Hogwarts, he mentioned she should look at a book called 'Hogwarts, A History'. She had seen it in the bookstore, but didn't have enough money to buy it. She decided that she would go to the library first thing tomorrow and read the book cover to cover.

Professor Dumbledore placed a stool in front of the Teacher's table. He stood next to the stool, holding a sheet of parchment. "Fiona Avery," he announced. A small girl with red hair sat down on the stool and had the hat place on her head.

"Gryffindor!" the hat roared.

More students were sorted, then the professor said, "Minerva Duncan."

Minerva gulped, and sat down on the stool.

"Ravenclaw please," she said softly.

Hmm...I do see the intelligence for Ravenclaw...

"Thank you," Minerva said, waiting for the hat to announce it to the Great Hall.

But...

"What's wrong?" Minerva whispered.

I see a different future for you...

"I don't want that future," Minerva said frantically, "I want Ravenclaw!"

Difficult. Very difficult...

Minerva shut her eyes in horror. How could she prove her cousins wrong if she wasn't in the house for intelligence? She tried one more time. "All of my family is in Ravenclaw," she told the hat.

I understand...but your destiny is elsewhere...

"GRYFFINDOR!!!"

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A/N – What do you think? For those of you who follow my other stories, I left you an Easter egg. Here's a clue, it ties into Seven Times Seven. Thanks for reading what I have up so far. And feel free to leave a review if you'd like. Cheers!