Chapter Seven

"I'm sorry, Neville, but I don't think we're going to find him right now. I expect he'll turn up when we get there and everyone gets their luggage out of the way and things," Hermione said encouragingly. "What compartment are you in? Show me, and I'll come and let you know if I see him."

Neville nodded, smiling gratefully at her. "Trevor runs away a lot," he confided. "He's kind of adventurous, for a toad." He led the way into the next carriage, and opened the door. "This is mine... this is Hermione Granger, guys. She helped me look for Trevor."

There were three other boys in the compartment, all almost certainly first-years like herself. Hermione looked them over rather critically, and was looked over in return.

On her left, a tall, gangly boy with scruffy red hair and wide blue eyes looked at her thoughtfully. "Hello," he ventured, as if trying to communicate with an alien species. Hermione snorted inwardly. Clearly far too immature to deal with a Girl.

Opposite him, a shorter, skinnier boy with glasses and black hair that stuck up every which way smiled at her. "I'm Harry," he said, nodding politely. "That's Ron. We're just starting first year."

"So am I," Hermione said, determined to show that she was NOT ignorant and nobody was going to get away with thinking she was, just because she was Muggleborn. "And I must say, I think it's going to be fascinating. And challenging, of course. I've already memorized all of the basic tests, I do hope it's enough."

"I... think that'll be enough," Harry said, raising his eyebrows. The movement drew her attention to the lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead, and she blinked. This was Harry Potter? A scruffy little boy with glasses and red trainers? "I'm sure you'll do fine."

"We've all known each other since forever," Neville said brightly, squeezing past and flopping down on the seat beside Ron. "Since we were toddlers, I mean. Our parents all know each other, so we sort of had to get to be friends."

"One can only share so many Christmases, birthday parties, and so on before becoming friends in self-defense," the fourth boy agreed. He was blond, and had an air of casual cool that the other three decidedly lacked. "Draco Malfoy. Pleased to meet you, Miss Granger. You've met Neville Longbottom, and these are, more properly, Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. Please forgive them, they were never taught to make proper introductions."

Ron scowled, and Harry kicked Draco in an amiable sort of way. "Draco shows off all the time. You get used to it," Harry said cheerfully.

"Can I help it if my natural genius shines through? I try to be ordinary and plebian, I truly do." Draco grinned, and kicked back. That was just typical of boys, they seemed to think kicking and punching were delightfully friendly activities.

"Sure you do." Harry smiled at Hermione. He was, she decided, the nice one. Well, him and Neville, who was really apallingly dim, but quite sweet. "Thanks for helping Neville, by the way. Trevor's always wandering off, but he always turns up again."

Hermione nodded. "I wish I could have been more help," she said, feeling a little wistful. It was horrible, not knowing anyone. She envied the boys, being lucky enough to go off to Hogwarts with friends already prepared. "Oh, and we ought to start putting our robes on, the witch with the cart says. We'll be there soon."

They nodded, and she slipped away with a little sigh. She'd never been very good at making friends. She hoped she'd do better, this year...