Lily Evans yanked on her trolley in an attempt to get it to stop. Having screwed up her eyes and run as fast as she possibly could against the barrier, she was now careening across platform nine and three-quarters. It took a huge effort for her to bring it to a stop and when she peered across her trolley she realised she had nearly hit someone. She smiled nervously and made her way around to apologise to the boy whose trunk she had jarred. He was very tall, and probably older even than Petunia – he looked at her in the same way as those boys who smoked cigarettes at bus stops. He had long blonde hair and was really rather handsome – or at least he would have been if his lips hadn't been twisted into a permanent sneer.
Still, it was only polite to apologise, so she came forward and said, "Sorry. I didn't mean to – I was just running to get through the barrier and my trolley is really heavy and…I couldn't get it to stop."
The boy fussed with his leather gloves and looked her up and down. "Do you know who I am?" he said. He had quite a poncy voice really, but Lily resisted the urge to laugh.
"No. Should I?"
"Lucius Malfoy. You would do well to remember it."
"Oh…Well – I will then."
She noticed his shiny silver badge that said "Head Boy" and ventured a question. "I'm sorry, but could you tell me where I'm supposed to go? It's just…I don't know anyone and I'm on my own so…"
He looked at her for only the second time in their conversation and said, "I don't waste my time helping vermin."
Lily stared at him, but he ignored her and walked away to join a group of boys his own age. Still, she squared her shoulders and made her way up the platform – she wished she could find someone to ask for help, but everyone seemed too busy to notice a skinny (and very little) first-year – except for one woman whose hat had a vulture on it, which Lily found rather off-putting.
Everyone else seemed to know where to go and what to do and had someone to see them off, and Lily had to swallow back tears. Her parents weren't allowed on to the platform, and she didn't know where she was going and…it was scary. She had walked the length of the platform twice, and was starting to cry in earnest when she heard someone shout out, "Oy!"
It was only when someone touched her shoulder that she realised someone was looking for her. Another tall boy, with red-brown hair and a smiling face grinned down at her. "You're a first-year, aren't you?" he said.
"I don't know what that is."
"Oh. Well then you must be. Sorry – someone was supposed to meet you at the barrier, but something happened and he got called away"
Lily stared at him. "Do you know where I should go – it's just I was wondering if maybe there were different carriages for different years or something and I couldn't find anyone and…"
"Yeah. Are you Lily Evans?"
He smiled. "Great – you're the last one. We've been trying to find all the first-years, and we've got the list and all, but no one knew what you looked like."
He picked up her trunk and said, "Well…come on then. The train won't wait forever."
Lily scampered after him, amazed that he could lift her trunk so easily. She noticed the badge on his chest and said, "Are you a prefect?"
"Yes. Gideon Prewett at your service, my lady."
"Oh. Hello then. It's just I met the Head Boy and…he didn't seem to like me much."
A flash of something crossed his face and he said, "Just ignore all that for now Lily. It's a load of rubbish."
By now they were on the train and he was slotting her trunk into the baggage car. He dusted his hands off and said, "Nothing. We'd better find Roberta – she'll want to know I've got you."
"The Head Girl."
"Oh. Are you sure we have to?"
"It's fine. She's not like that git Malfoy."
Lily giggled and said in her most pompous voice, "I think you mean…Lucius Malfoy."
Gideon laughed and looked down at her approvingly. "So, your parents don't know magic then?" he said.
"No, not at all. They were kind of shocked actually – and my sister nearly had a heart attack when the messenger arrived. She doesn't like things to be…out of order."
Lily was nearly running to keep up with his long strides, and she was glad when they reached a tall girl with a clipboard and a quill, who, as she could tell from the badge, was the Head Girl. Gideon greeted her happily and said, "I found her."
The tall girl sighed with relief and said, "Great. That's everyone then. You'd better throw her in with the rest of them."
Lily quailed inwardly – she did not want to spend several hours with a group of people she barely knew. Still she squared her skinny shoulders again – she would have to, whether she liked it or not. Gideon caught the Head Girl's elbow and said, "Not with that bunch – she's Muggle-born, Bobby."
"Oh…of course. Stupid of me. Fabian's got a bunch of them in the next carriage – they all seem quite sane, so maybe you could stick her in there. We need to get going."
Lily stared at the other girl – she was so tall, and so grown-up looking. And she had nice hair. Lily wanted to look just like that when she was older – as if even seeing a dragon wouldn't faze her. The girl smiled down at her and walked away after kissing Gideon on the cheek. Lily laughed at the look on his face and said, "Is she your girlfriend?"
"What's her name?"
"Roberta King. Head Girl and Quidditch Captain for Gryffindor. Why?"
"I like her. She looks really…formidable." She was rather proud of herself for using such a long word correctly, and was surprised when he laughed out loud.
"You've got that right."
They walked into the next carriage and Gideon said, "I haven't got time to explain that just now okay? You'll like it."
Another boy, who looked exactly the same as Gideon, was standing outside one compartment – they must be brothers. He opened the door, and Gideon said, "Well here you are Lily. We'll be in the next compartment if you need us."
She nodded and said, "Thanks," and walked into the compartment, where four people were sitting – three boys and a girl. She smiled tentatively and said, "Is it okay if I sit here?"
They all nodded and she sat down, leaning back into the comfortable cushions – as usual her feet didn't touch the ground. A boy with shockingly messy hair and glasses leaned forward and said, "What's your name?"
He smiled and said, "James. James Potter." Lily hid her laughter as the others dutifully repeated their names – he was the second person she'd met who sounded like a film character.
There was Dorcas Meadows, a girl with golden-brown hair and warm blue eyes who Lily liked on sight; Remus Lupin who looked rather sickly and had rather a quiet manner (he looked nearly as scared as Lily had felt coming through the barrier); and Sirius Black who she didn't like the look of. He seemed bad-tempered, and within five minutes he had laughed at something she said.
She and Dorcas soon got to talking as they were sitting beside each other, and, as the only two girls, were naturally inclined to band together. It was after half an hour of this conversation that Lily said, "Do you know anything about Lucius Malfoy?"
Dorcas shook her head and was about to say something when James Potter spoke up, to Lily's irritation – couldn't he see they were having a conversation? He stared at her and said, "Were you talking to Lucius Malfoy?"
"I nearly ran him down with my trolley…I didn't mean to!" He and Sirius were laughing loudly and Lily sighed. "Anyway, I talked to him, and…he was really horrible."
Dorcas smiled at her sympathetically and said, "What did he do?"
"He called me…vermin."
Shocked silence fell in the compartment – except for Sirius, who seemed annoyed, and said, "He's the rat. Just…ignore him."
Lily stared at him and said, "But why…"
The door slid open and another boy stepped through, ushered in by Gideon who nodded at Lily. He sat down heavily on the seat on Dorcas' other side – Dorcas looked irritated and turned back to talk to Lily. The boys however were overjoyed at the presence of another male in their midst, and the girls spent the rest of the journey ignoring them as much as possible. The only break in the journey was the arrival of the food cart, after that Lily and Dorcas started a competition to see who could bite into a Chocolate Frog fastest. Of course James (who was definitely the nosiest of the bunch – Sirius was 'too cool' to be interested in two girls, and the other two were too quiet) wanted to take part, and of course they wouldn't let him. Give up their Chocolate Frogs for a boy?
By the end of the journey Lily had learnt a lot of things she hadn't known before – that it was okay to have a cat or an owl, but not a toad, that the best broomstick was the Nimbus 1000, that the wicked fairy in Sleeping Beauty had been a hag, as had the evil queen in Snow White, that Hogwarts had a new Headmaster who was supposed to be quite mad but in a good way, and that you should never eat a Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Bean without considering the consequences.
Dorcas was friendly, and she and Lily sat in the same boat to cross the lake and stood together while waiting to be sorted. Lily hardly noticed the Sorting Hat's song, she was so amazed by the castle, and the ghosts and the Great Hall, and everything really. It was only when Professor McGonagall started calling out names that she started to get nervous – as she saw Baxter, Ann, Black, Sirius, and Catchlove, Gretta stand up and be sorted she felt her hand clench around Dorcas' and thought that she might very well be sick – and then she would die of shame.
After Buckley Cooper however, her turn came, and she sat on the stool (noticing that, yet again, her feet did not touch the ground) very calmly, all things considered. Unfortunately though, she ruined the effect of this by jumping in shock when a voice spoke in her ear. It told her she had "More courage than usual in an eleven year old – you don't like unfairness at all – and, yes a very clever brain…not interested in abstracts though are you?" Lily said she didn't like Maths, if that's what it meant, and waited to hear its decision. The hat roared Gryffindor, and Lily made her way over to the table, which clapped for her – Gideon and Fabian and Roberta waved at her.
She sat down with a sigh and watched the rest of her year get sorted. She was less than pleased to be in the same house as Sirius Black – but her happiness was complete when Dorcas was put into Gryffindor too. Two girls and a boy she hadn't met sat down beside her, and a girl called Marlene, from second year, chatted to her for a bit. She seemed really friendly. As she tucked into her dinner, Lily thought that Hogwarts wasn't so scary after all.