September the 1st, 1970.
The taxi cab back fired, almost angrily, leaving a young girl standing, sputtering in a cloud of exhaust. Toxic Fumes. She put a tentative hand to her mouth, trying to stop from inhaling the junk, imagining her insides being liquefied by an unknown agent, fast as light and smelling of petrol. The imaginative young girl looked around, slowly at first, trying to take in the hustle and bustle of the busy train station. All around Aryanna Wood, people hurried to their destinations, stood in long, winding queues in order to obtain tickets. A variety of people --muggles! -- she reminded herself. She'd read the term in the first school book purchased after receiving her acceptance letter, a text book called 'Hogwarts: A History! ' by Bathilda Bagshot.
Trundling for-wards cautiously, tugging her trunk along behind her, she made it a point to ignore the angry calls of the Brits surrounding, angered by her slow pace and over-sized and battered trunk. She stood her ground though, eyes roaming the platform signs, focused on her destination. Platform Nine and Three Quarters? That had sounded odd, but Tom had assured her that it did exist. But it wasn't there, wasn't listed in the directory, and there was no wooden sign for Platform Nine and Three Quarters hanging over a gate leading to the train. Fumbling with shaking fingers in the pockets of her faded jeans, retrieving a small, parchment ticket, she glanced down and back up.. confusion settled heavily on her features. Looking around the crowd, taking in the faces again, searching for one person who looked the slightest bit abnormal, or hell-- she would've even settled for one person who looked remotely friendly! Instead, people shoved and cursed, angry that she'd halted in the midst of the crowd, throwing elbows and shoves all the while.
" JAMES JACOB POTTER! " A voice to the left hissed, low and dangerous. Aryanna turned her head quickly in that direction, peering over the extremities of the crowd and around their bodies to try and get a closer look at where that voice had come from. She could just barely see the back of a very tall man, with tidy black hair, slightly graying, standing with his hands in his pockets, and rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, surveying the situation unfolding in front of him.. His wife, however, a much smaller woman with sleek, straight brown hair cut stylishly into a bob, did not return his merry sentiment, and stood rigid and forbidding. Instead she had reached out, and seized someone.. her son, Aryanna assumed, by the ear. The angle was a difficult one for spying, but as she mumbled something, Aryanna could've sworn she saw the slightest twitch in her right arm, and something go flying from the hands of the boy... Jeremy? No. James had his mother called him? in front of her. He let out an indignant gasp, hands on his hips immediately, stomping his left foot.
" Rebecca! " The tall man, James' father reprimanded suddenly, glancing around him almost nervously. " The MUGGLES! " He exclaimed, lowering his voice.
Muggles? A jolt of excitement passed through the young woman.. but she couldn't just waltz over there and ask for their help without knowing for sure. So instead, pushing forward, trying to silence the noise of the trunk as she pushed closer to the arguing family, she sought another bit of confirmation.
" Don't you stomp your foot at me, young man. " The woman cried. " A dungbomb in a station full of muggles! What would they think? Against Ministry regulations! Breaking the rules before you even start.. If that's the way you want to start your first term at Hogwarts, you may as well turn your behind around and march right back out. I won't have it, James! I will not! And I don't think Dumbledore would approve very much either! "
This was it! Aryanna had definitely heard words she was becoming familiar with, in Hogwarts: A History! Dumbledore, according to Bathilda Bagshot, was the current headmaster of Hogwarts! And the lady had said Hogwarts, the belligerent looking boy standing in front of his mum was to be a fellow student! Rushing forward, sensing that there was not a lot of time left before the designated departure, ignoring the family's continued conversation as they headed to-wards Platform's Nine and Ten. The crowd seemed to tighten then, making it extremely difficult to reach the family, or to even keep eyes on them. A solid wall of bodies formed, obstructing Aryanna's vision just as the family reached the barrier between the two platforms. Using elbows to part the people, the family materialized once again... minus a member! The tall, black haired man had disappeared! But where? Where could he have gone? Maybe to get tickets?! That was plausible right! People couldn't just disappear into thin ai-...
" Bloody Hell! "
The boy, James, had just run full speed at the barrier. Aryanna expected a crash, yells of pain, the screech of metal and the Thump! of his trunk as it hit the ground, but instead he fell right through it. She stood, indifferent, blinking, unable to take in what she'd just seen for a moment before racing for-wards, hoping against hope to catch the young mother before she too joined her son and husband in the disappearing act. This time, her trunk succeeded in parting the crowd with the trolley it sat a top of. People cursed and yelled as the wheels ran over their feet, or the front end smacked into their knee's, but Aryanna ignored them and reached the dark haired woman just as she was about to step to-wards the barrier herself.
" Excuse me! Ma'am.. Mrs. Potter, was it? " Voice was thick with Irish accent, Aryanna posed her question just as she came to a screeching halt just before the trolley would have collided with the woman's lower half. She looked slightly affronted at first. Aryanna could feel the colour running up her neck, into her cheeks, and hastily, almost as if to disguise her embarrassment, she brushed the brown ringlets from her face before speaking again. " I'm sorry, I just.. I heard you speakin-.. Your son, the boy with the.. dungbomb, did you call it? I think he's supposed to be attending my school.. I've been looking for just over fifteen minutes.. " She leaned forward, glancing around as this woman's husband had done only moments before, and lowering her voice so that the people surrounding would not hear what she had to say next. " And I'm pretty sure that they made a mistake on my ticket, you know. For.. H-Hogwarts. Platform Nine and Three Quarters! It doesn't exist, ma'am. I've looked all over this bleeding station-.. s'cuse my language.. a-and I.. "
The woman, Rebecca Potter, smiled a warm smile, placing her small hand around Aryanna's shoulders as she ushered her matronly forward. " It does, my dear. It exists right before us... it's more of a glamour, you see. A charm placed over the barrier so the muggles can't see it!? Muggles are non-magical folk, you know that, right dear? Anyway, you just have to push through. If you know that it exists, you'll be able to pass through the Glamour. Rather brilliant, devised by the Ministry of Magic years and years ago! "
" Ministry of M-Magic? " She stuttered, as Mrs. Potter continued to push her closer and closer to the barrier. Trying to disguise her wince at the point of collision, Aryanna continued to stammer as they passed through the barrier trunk first and Mrs. Potter and the stammering, silence by shock girl after. " What the bloody hell is that? "
Mrs. Potter only chuckled, as they moved to-wards her son and his father, standing watching with mirrored expressions of curiosity.
" One thing at a time, my dear. One thing at a time. Now come and meet our James. "
As we approached, James eyed the brown haired girl with sudden curiosity, the belligerent look in his eyes replaced by a cheeky grin, and a glint of mischief. Immediately, his right hand flew to his head, mucking up his already un-ruly black hair.
" Picking up strays, mum? " James asked, shoving his hands in the pockets of his trousers and rocking back and forth on his feet, just like his dad. He was absolutely crackling with mischievous energy, and Aryanna could almost sense what he was about to say next. " Don't you usually have to discuss this with Dad first?!? After all, it takes two to tango, yknow mum, if you catch my drift? The baby-making tango, eh eh? " He elbowed his dad swiftly in the ribs, and winked at his mother. Rebecca Potter opened and closed her mouth several times, to a most unflattering effect. She looked rather like a fish out of water, gaping, obviously horrified at her eleven year old son's innuendos. Aryanna, however, couldn't suppress as grin, temporarily amused by the boy's cheek. Mr. Potter disguised what sounded like a deep chuckle behind a rather brutal, fake cough as he caught his wife's narrowed eyes. Even then, you could see the ghost of his son's grin as it tugged at the corner's of his lips, even as he turned to reprimand his son.
" James! Don't talk like that in front of the ladies. "
Rebecca cleared her throat rather viciously, as if expecting more from her husband. James Sr. turned back to his son a final time, adding hastily, and much more sternly than he actually meant, " And you're too young to be talking like that, boy. "
James Potter only grinned. It seemed that he was reprimanded a lot, and he seemed to bask in the action of rebelling against authority. His ruffled his hair again, almost arrogantly.
" Ignore him, dear. He doesn't quite know his place yet... " Rebecca mumbled, smoothing down Aryanna's hair in a gesture that she would never admit was terribly fond, albeit completely foreign to her. Affection of most kinds were foreign in the Wood household. Aryanna suspected she did so with her, because her own son would not allow her to execute such a loving gesture on him, especially not if it had to do with the hair he so often made an effort to keep a mess, or in a public that could worship him as his parents so often must have done. " Anyway, now, for introductions. James, this is.. " She paused, looking thoughtful for a moment. " Um. Dear? What is your name? Heavens, I hope I haven't forgotten it. "
" Aryanna. " She replied quickly, almost apologetically. " Aryanna Wood. "
" Good Godric! " James exclaimed, at noting the accent that clung on to each syllable of Aryanna's words. " She's foreign! "
Raising an eyebrow, her grin fading quickly, Aryanna repeated his words indignantly. " Foreign? I'm from Ireland! "
James ignored me, continuing on. " I thought she looked a bit peaky... mum, I think you got a shotty deal. She looks like the run of the litter to me! "
Peaky? Runt? Aryanna's reaction was almost instantaneous, she lurched forward, releasing her hold on her trunk and all her worldly belongings. Tiny hands seized hold of James and shoved his head down, grabbing the back of his shirt and tugging it over his head. Immediately after, she swung, connecting with his face. There was a loud, completely audible crunch of glass, and James cried out in pain as he fell back-wards.
And as instantly as her anger had come, it evaporated into a thick smog of shame... Mrs. Potter rushed forward to help her son, fussing over him as she righted his shirt and mended his shattered glasses with a wave of her wand. She poked at his eye, and he recoiled gingerly, obviously sore. Aryanna hastily grabbed her trunk and turned to go before they made her pay for her little loss of composure. Mrs. Potter had, after all, been so kind, helping a strange girl through the magical barrier, explaining the Wizarding World... and Aryanna had re-paid her kindness by assaulting her only son. An arm restrained Aryanna as she attempted another step forward. Gingerly, Aryanna chanced a glance up-wards, following the length of an arm to look into the face of Mrs. Potter's husband, James Senior, roaring with laughter. His entire body was shaking, and behind the rims of his glasses, tears welled up in his eyes. He swatted at them hap-hazardly, still chuckling as he attempted to speak.
" You're a right firecracker, you are! " James' father exclaimed, in his deep, yet re-assuring voice, clapping Aryanna on the back. " You had better stay on the right end of this one, James, you hear? " He called to his son, who was grumbling as he got to his feet, ignoring the stares of the people around us, as a crowd that had begun to form. Out of the corner of her eye, Aryanna caught a boy pointing at James, shaking with laughter as his mother stared in our direction, with a disapproving glare, her haughty almost royal features turned up in distaste. He himself looked a lot like her, with high cheek bones and aristocratic features, and dark brown, silky looking hair. Aryanna turned, choosing to ignore this, looking back to James, who righted himself, and dusted off his slacks, his cheeks burning red. Aryanna had embarrassed him, ruined his arrogant bravado, disarmed him in a mere matter of moments. Quickly, James righted his glasses on his face, cautiously peering over the rims of his spectacles. Another look was chanced at Mrs. Potter and Aryanna noticed that she herself looked as though she was restraining a smile.
" Right. Aryanna you said? " James mumbled. She nodded, not wanting to push the boy to his breaking point after publicly embarrassing him. " You play Quidditch? "
Quidditch! Aryanna had literally absorbed every bit of knowledge she could about what she understood to be the most popular (and in my eyes, the only) and widely recognized magical sport in existence! Ever since that day in Diagon Alley, when she'd been collecting her things for school, and had passed the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies, and seen the model of a Quidditch pitch, with miniature players mounted on brooms, in brightly coloured robes, zooming around each other, dodging and catching balls, twirling, mounting and diving, as if they had their very own set of wings. Instead of purchasing a few spellbooks, Aryanna had purchased almost never-ending sized volumes on Quidditch, the history of it and the teams of Ireland, who, she knew without a doubt, she would ultimately be supporting. For two weeks straight, Aryanna had sat at the bar of the Leaky Cauldron, pouring over these books until she had every last detail memorized. To Aryanna Wood, the urge to feel the wind soaring through her hair, to straddle a broom and feel the power of it vibrating in your hands as you soared to-wards a goal post.. she could've sworn that Quidditch was in her blood.
But what could she say? She had not played yet, and certainly that didn't give her experience. She may have memorized every piece of Quidditch fact she could get her hands on, but that didn't make her a Quidditch player. That didn't give her any talent.
" I-I'm muggle born? I think that's what you call it. " She started sheepishly, voice just above a whisper, averting eyes away from James. " I've never been on a broom. "
Looking into the astonished face of James Potter, It became apparent to Aryanna that this was, in fact, his first day, and that maybe she should've been kinder to him, arrogant prat that he was.. she was, after all, probably the first muggle he'd ever come across. Muggle-born. Aryanna made it a point to correct herself. Standing on this Platform, beside the billowing and steaming Scarlett engine, that PROVED that Aryanna Wood was a witch, right? It couldn't possibly be a mistake.
" Well, I suppose that means you won't have a favourite team, so let me just tell you.. " James exclaimed suddenly, stepping forward and swinging an arm around her shoulder and shoving her forward, nodding his head toward his dad and the abandoned trunks. It was if he was ushering Aryanna off into a business meeting, or something similar. James Potter had a lot of charisma, that much was apparent. " .. the merits of the greatest Quidditch team in the world, Puddlemere Uni-.. "
" Kenmare Kestrels. "
James slapped his forehead, and groaned rather audibly. " The bloody Irish. "
" You'd better owl us! " James' mom trilled, pulling her son into a great bear hug, her eyes welling with un-shed tears. Over his shoulders, James cast a rather hopeless look, as though urging Aryanna to run. She released him, kissing him furiously on both cheeks before turning in Aryanna's direction, who could merely blink impassively, probably looking something like a deer caught in the headlights of an automobile as Mrs. Potter charged forward and embraced her, a strange young girl she'd only met forty five minutes previous. Quickly, James Sr. appeared, having just loaded the trunks onto the train, despite Aryanna's protests. He clapped his son on the back, and then urged his wife to release her.
" Really, Rebecca! The girl is turning purple. "
Rebecca Potter quickly and almost sheepishly relinquished her grip, taking Aryanna in with one last sweeping glance, and stepping backward to stand beside her husband.
" Make sure you eat all your helpings at meals, you two! " She exclaimed, though the distinct impression existed that her comment was more for Aryanna's benefit than it was for James', who looked as though he had never left a meal any less than completely and totally satisfied. Together, James Potter and Aryanna Wood boarded the train, just as it began to pull away from the station, gaining speed and momentum as steam poured from it's chimney in great billowing rings. Slowly, James' parents, both waving became lost in the crowd, as the crowd itself became streaks of colour, impossible to distinguish faces among it. Turning finally, away from the window, they began to walk down the long corridor, shoving past larger students, ignoring the screech of owls and the rumbling of the wheels of trolley and trunk, as well as the laughter of fellow students, and trying to locate an empty compartment.
" My mum always wished I had a sister. " James said finally, glancing sideways at his new companion. " The worst thing you could've done was approach her, now you're trapped. "
And as the two carried on down the train, Aryanna Wood did not mention to James that she couldn't possibly think of a downside to that.