"So what about you, Bridget – what's your story?" Samantha inquired as she fiddled with the wrapper of a particularly feisty chocolate frog. A few hours had passed since her rather comical encounter with Julia Lovelynn, and the three girls had covered a lot of passé let's-get-to-know-each-other ground.
At least, Samantha and Jade had while Bridget simply listened idly, a disinterested glaze coating her deep blue eyes.
Samantha had learned that Jade lead quite the life, her mother being the lead guitarist for the somewhat has-been yet famous nonetheless rock band—Magical Mayhem—while her muggle father was the Chinese Ambassador.
Jade herself was a highly radical thinker, both politically and artistically. She possessed the usual Asian intelligence that landed her a fair share of O's, but her true aptitude lay in her unique take on almost every aspect of life.
She was a true artist, speaking her mind vehemently on issues she was passionate about, much like Samantha, but she also understood the beauty of silence and reflection. This resulted in a very laid-back demeanor that was extremely refreshing to Samantha after years of exactitude at Andromeda's.
Jade also had a certain proclivity for drawing, as Samantha had gathered from the numerous sketches she had shown her. The extraordinary attention to detail present in her artwork showed that she was a very observant person, and this was mirrored by her attentiveness when listening to someone speak.
Samantha had noticed this within the first few minutes of meeting her, and had now concluded that she was very sensitive to human emotion, picking up the hidden sentiments in a person that many others could not. This was a unique quality about her that made her even more affable in Samantha's eyes, for everything she did seemed genuine. The two got along surprisingly well.
"Yes, pray tell, Street – any Hogwarts boys lighting your fire?" Jade asked with a wink, breaking off a piece of Samantha's chocolate frog and popping it into her mouth.
Samantha snorted, rolling her eyes at a merrily chewing Jade. "Lighting your fire? Did you really just say that?"
Jade glared playfully, balling a discarded wrapper in her fist and chucking it at Samantha. "Yes I did – you got a problem with that Ms. Be-Nice-Because-You-Have-Nowhere-Else-to-Sit?"
Samantha laughed as she ducked out of the way of the assailing wrapper, sticking her tongue out triumphantly at Jade after successfully dodging it only to be hit square in the face by another one. Her grin flattened into a scowl.
"Aha, not so cocky anymore, eh?" Jade goaded, laughing as she relaxed back into her seat victoriously, leaning her head back onto her folded arms.
"Smug little prat…" Samantha grumbled, though her repressed smile dissipated any possibility of any actual anger.
Both Samantha and Jade glanced up questioningly, eyeing Bridget with frank confusion. "What?"
"You asked me who I wanted – James Potter," Bridget stated boredly, catching the inquiring pair off-guard.
If there was one thing Samantha had learned about Bridget within the two or so hours of knowing her, it was that she was blunt beyond belief.
Jade grinned suggestively as she sidled over to Bridget, nudging her lightly. "James Potter, hm? He's definitely a yum-cake, but—"
"Yum-cake?" Samantha echoed humorously, making Jade's eyes narrow pointedly.
"Yes, yum-cake – lay off my expressions, yeah?"
"Fine," Samantha responded, lifting her arms up in defeat and glancing down at the floor in submission, only to snort sardonically and shake her head. "Yum-cake… OI!"
She glanced up crossly as yet another chocolate frog wrapper, this time unopened and considerably heavier than the last, smacked right into her shoulder. "You are such a violent little wanker!"
Jade simply grinned cheekily, parting her lips to respond only to be interrupted by a sonorous, anger-ridden groan. All three of the girls glanced up in unison as the compartment door flew open, revealing none other than Lily Evans.
She looked a bit worse for wear – her red waves disheveled and her emerald eyes frustrated and steely. She stomped into the quiet compartment, hunkering down gruffly next to Jade and crossing her arms with a huff.
"Did a prefect light something on fire again?"
Lily scoffed at Jade's question, rolling her eyes. "No, but a Head Boy almost made me light myself on fire."
A smile spread across Samantha's lips as she realized she actually knew what they were talking about. After coming from such a horridly conformist school where only uppity snobs could gain any respect, she was pleased to have found two girls that she could not only stand, but found herself actually liking so quickly.
She had been pleasantly surprised when Jade had mentioned that she'd known Lily ever since first year, informing her that they had been extremely close ever since then. Hence, Samantha smiled amicably at the redhead before her, happy with the pair – though she knew Jade considerably better at the moment.
Lily's tetchy gaze snapped up and caught her smile, and she managed a somewhat forced smile of her own. "Glad to see you've found better company."
Samantha immediately scoffed, rolling her eyes in agreement – though Jade seemed a bit confused. "Better company?"
Lily scrunched up her nose, her face forming a sour expression. "Marauders." Samantha snorted internally at hearing this, barely able to contain her amusement. They have a name for themselves – how not-so-adorably fourth grade of them.
Jade snorted knowingly as Bridget's head snapped up, a spark of interest enflaming her lifeless eyes for the first time since Samantha had met her. "You were sitting with the Marauders?"
Samantha nodded. "Unfortunately."
"And you moved?" she continued incredulously.
Samantha nodded again. "Fortunately."
"Why!?" she questioned fiercely, fixing Samantha with a look of accusatory alarm.
"Whoa – deep breaths, Bridge," Jade advised with a small smirk, placing a stilling hand on the blonde's heaving shoulder.
Her gaze briefly flitted over to Samantha, sympathetic smile playing on her lips. "Forgive her, she's always been rather obsessed with the Marauders."
Now it was Samantha's turn to quirk a brow, stare flying over to Bridget. "What – why?"
Jade's stare narrowed pointedly. "Do you have eyes?"
Samantha frowned, utterly confused by the question. "Obviously… but—"
"It seems that everyone but you and I see the Marauders as the 'Gods of Hogwarts', so to speak," Lily stated flatly, though the underlying bite to her crisp tone was practically tangible.
"Yes, so I've gathered – but why—" Samantha attempted, only to be completely cut off by Bridget's rather frenzied exclamation.
"Because they might just be the fittest bloody things to walk this earth!"
Samantha blinked at the girl, utterly flabbergasted by her bipolar transition from taciturn to hyperactive. At this revelation, a snort of laughter couldn't help but travel through her nose – the girl's expression of horrified anger was just so priceless.
"What, you don't think so!?"
Samantha wrinkled her nose slightly at the question, not entirely sure of what to say. Of course she wasn't stupid, she knew attractive when she saw it – but it just wasn't such a mind-blowing thing, in all honesty.
Definitely not imperative enough to make her bloody worship anyone. Nevertheless, she ran through the four of the boys in her head, thinking critically.
James Potter – most definitely a looker. He had a strong build and dark, tousled hair, and a thoroughly entertaining personality that made him seem like a worthy friend – though nothing about him made Samantha want to grovel at his feet.
Remus Lupin – sandy blonde hair, clever dark eyes full of wry wisdom; attractive by any means. Yet still, it was more the understated humor in his voice that made her take well to him – another potential friend.
Peter Pettigrew – a bit unlike his friends. He seemed awkward and unsure of himself, like he was constantly second-guessing his convictions. It was odd, to see him paired with such a loud, confident lot like his friends, but she didn't want to be too quick to judge. Looks-wise, however, he wasn't the greatest.
And last and most definitely least – Sirius Black. Thick, silky black hair and stormy grey eyes; enough cocky arrogance to knock someone right off their feet and enough smarmy charm to make Samantha puke. Pity there were no brain cells to go with it.
She finally just shrugged, eyes somewhat steely from her last thought. "They're not bad."
"N-not bad?" Bridget echoed in slight horror, making Samantha wonder what brainwashing techniques the supposed "Marauders" must've been using on girls like her. Honestly, from an outsider's perspective, they really weren't that great – just handsome.
"Samantha, honestly – they are pretty fit," Jade admitted, ever the unaffected mediator, "I mean the hype is a bit overdone, but it's not completely without reason."
"I agree, some of them are pretty—"
"Sure," Samantha agreed absently to Bridget's interruption, "but that's no reason to overlook their rather obnoxious tendencies."
"Obnoxious!?" Bridget squeaked, eyes wide with indignant horror – she looked about ready to wet herself with disbelief.
Lily nodded in irritated agreement, still sour from her Head's meeting. "Well said."
"I mean, James and Remus are alright, and Peter's a bit awkward but he seems agreeable," Samantha explained, to which Lily slowly stopped nodding and began shaking her head – it was actually kind of comical, for the transition involved a sort of circular motion.
"James Potter is not 'alright' – he's despicable."
"Puppy love," Jade rang out in a sing-song voice, making Lily's vibrant green eyes snap over to hers violently.
"Aren't you forgetting someone?"
Samantha's gaze flew over to Bridget's hard, piercing stare, and she had to bite her lip to keep from laughing at the girl's intensity. Honestly, she was just about the blandest person a few minutes ago.
"What – you meant that arrogant toe-rag, Black?" she responded, lips curling into a smirk as Bridget's eyes widened with crazed shock. "Yeah – didn't mention him, thought you might develop a brain tumor."
Bridget's lips simply fumbled wordlessly in astonishment as Jade re-entered the conversation, eyeing Samantha curiously. "Obviously he's not your best friend, but you have to admit he's a looker."
"He's…" Samantha searched her mind for the correct word, trying to find one that wasn't too complimentary – he probably got enough of that already. "Adequate."
Jade snorted with obvious amusement, nudging Samantha with the edge of her foot. "Oh, come off it you stubborn hag – even Lily admits he's one fine piece of a—"
"I did not say that!"
Jade held up a hand to silence the indignant redhead, pretty smile breaking out across her face. "Oh, sorry, let me Lily-fy it. 'That Black fellow is a rather dashing young man – simply dapper, don't you think?' How's that, Prude?"
"I don't talk like that!" Lily exclaimed with slight resent, though the corners of her lips were twitching with amusement. "And I'm not a prude!"
"You're Captain Prude."
"Oy, stuff it – I had to endure a lecture on this sort of thing from Lily's 'dapper, dashing young man' a few hours ago," Samantha interjected, shaking her head at the memory of Sirius' "Am Not, Are Too war rules" and how ridiculous they had been.
Lily sent a half-hearted glare at Jade, to which the latter simply stuck out her tongue and grinned.
"Real mature, Wu."
Samantha snorted, donning a small smile at the bickering pair of friends. They seemed so at ease with one another, as if they had nothing to hide or pretend about in each other's presence. Coming from a school like Andromeda's, Samantha couldn't boast the same fortune.
"Well, Miss Samantha," Jade addressed, veering her attention back to her, "you might get a bit of trouble from our resident heartbreaker if you don't watch out – he hasn't had a challenge in years."
Samantha raised a brow, already not liking the sound of this conversation. "What, you mean Black?"
Jade nodded, eyes mockingly rueful. "That's the one."
Samantha scoffed, shaking her head emphatically and waving a dismissive hand in the air. "Oh, no, trust me – guys like him steer far and clear of girls like me."
Jade quirked a brow. "And vice-versa?"
Samantha thought about this for a second. "Well, yeah – it goes both ways."
Jade's curious expression broke out into a knowing smirk. "Exactly."
Samantha's entire face crumpled with confusion. "What?"
"He hasn't had a girl steer clear of him since I don't even know when," she replied, leaning back into her seat and crossing her arms in a sort of satisfied manner.
"Oh, and what – just because I think he's a self-loving prat, he's going to fall madly in love with me?" she snorted, her entire face lined with sardonic humor.
"Maybe not madly," Jade commented, immediately chuckling at the stunned expression that flickered across Samantha's face. "Kidding – but he might chase after you for a bit."
Samantha scrunched her face up, shaking her head in disagreement. "Maybe it works that way in theory, but I'm about as far from his type as possible – just ask that little demon James calls a cousin."
Both Jade and Samantha glanced over at Lily, who'd finally contributed to the conversation and was presently staring at Samantha rather critically. "Well, what?"
"It's just, he's really only selective about one thing in a girl," she explained slowly, still eyeing Samantha closely, "and that's looks – which you've most definitely got."
Samantha immediately snorted, finding this quite funny. "Oh, sure."
Lily raised a brow, seeming surprised by this reaction. "What, you don't think so?"
Samantha alternated her gaze between the two, not sure if they were kidding or not. She knew she wasn't hideous or ugly by any means, but beautiful – not quite. Plain, perhaps; pleasant at best – but nowhere near pretty enough to make it one of her defining characteristics.
Back at Andromeda's, she was considered horrendously plain and unworthy of any special attention. Always surrounded by magically-enhanced snobs and dieting anorexics, she was the manly football player without any make-up. Her hair was inevitably straight, her body lightly toned and average – just plain.
The blokes back at Heathgrove's Institute for Exceptional Wizards always groaned when they were paired with her for the 'walk', for she was known as the feisty prude who 'wouldn't give any'. Yes, she had a lot of lovely titles back at her old school – how she adored it there.
Shaking her head crossly at the memory, she switched her focus back over to the present. "First of all—what?"
Jade was looking at her with a pointed look of annoyance. "Please don't tell me you're one of those irritatingly beautiful people who whine about how horrendous they are just so more people will fawn over them – coz that's just annoying."
"What—no!" Samantha assured, horrified at the idea of being grouped into that disgusting category – it screamed of Andromeda's. "No, no, not at all, I just don't see how you ca—why are you laughing!?"
Jade's pointed frown had slowly given way to cheeky giggling at Samantha's feeble attempt to defend her pride, making her rather flustered. "I'm kidding – blimey, you like to freak out."
Lily too sported a small grin at Samantha's perplexed expression, chuckling lightly. "Really, Samantha – you seem like the last person on earth to do that, and I've gathered that within an hour of knowing you."
Samantha exhaled slowly, feeling some of the stiffness leave her body as relief flooded through her veins. "Bloody hell – I thought you were serious…"
Jade rolled her eyes, snorting at how relieved she sounded. "Course not – though you really are quite a looker. It's a bit unfair, actually."
Samantha felt some of the uncomfortable tension rise up in her body yet again, never one for taking compliments well. "No, honestly – I know I'm not, it's fine."
Lily scoffed slightly, beginning to chuckle at the raven-haired girl's mumbled response. "Of course you're not – everybody's been prattling about 'the fit new girl' coz your shoes are so captivating."
Samantha's brows furrowed in disbelief, opening her mouth to protest only to get interrupted by Jade's amused assertion. "Just let it go, Queen Hideous – you're an ogre, we get it."
"I didn't say that, I just—whatever, forget it…" Samantha grumbled, slightly disgruntled by the fact that they weren't hearing her out – they misinterpreted her meaning. She didn't consider herself hideous, but anyone with eyes would know she wasn't beautiful.
"Oy," Jade chided, prodding her lightly, "don't be such a grouch."
Samantha shrugged her off dismissively, annoyance etched onto her frowning face – the whole thing rather irked her, and now she was in a bit of a strop.
"Oh, c'mon – we were kidding," Lily said, her tone light yet still slightly apologetic.
"I know you were," Samantha grumbled in response, though her irritable mood wouldn't shake itself off quite that easily.
Jade sighed melodramatically, crossing her arms and staring at her pointedly. "Are we going to have to sing to you?"
Samantha shook her head dismissively, though the girl paid little heed as she threw a conspiring look at Lily. "Ready, Simon?'
Lily struggled not to laugh as she nodded assertively, bringing her fingers to her forehead in a salute. "Ready, Garfunkel."
Jade sucked in a deep, ominous breath, holding it in for a silent moment before bursting out in song. "You are my… SUNSHINE!" she belted at the top of her lungs, making Samantha jolt into the air a few yards and wince painfully.
"MY ONLY SUNSHINE!"
Samantha glared murderously at the cheeky wench of a friend before her, struggling with the grin fighting its way onto her lips as uncontrollable laughter consumed Lily.
"You make me HAAAAAPPPPYYY! WHEN SKIES ARE GRRA-AA-A-AY!" her horrid voice cracked multiple times as she held the terribly off-key note for far too long, making Samantha's stony expression crumple into peals of raucous laughter.
Lily – breathless and teary-eyed, doubled over into fits of merciless laughter as the oblivious Chinese girl continued. "You'll never know, DE-EEAAAA-AAAA-AAARRR!" she screeched horribly, making her pained audience scramble to protect their resentful ears.
"Sh-shu-t UP!" Lily managed to cry through her unwavering laughter, though this only motivated Jade to continue with the torture.
"Not until the Grinch over there forgives me," she chimed cheekily as she inclined her head toward a practically unconscious Samantha. "HOOOOWWW MUUUCCHH… I LOOOOOVEEE you!"
"J-Just… never s-sing again… and I-I'll forgive y-you!" Samantha grinded out through her painful laughter, exhausted by her raucous giggling and the lack of oxygen it caused.
Jade eyed her for a lingering moment before straightening up, smiling triumphantly. "See – I knew that'd work."
Lily shook her head with a humor-ridden glare, lips curled into a smirk. "She can actually sing quite normally when she wants to."
Samantha snorted sardonically. "I find that hard to believe after that blood-curling performance."
Lily chuckled in agreement, bringing her hands together in mocking applause as Jade stood and took a graceful bow. "It's a gift, what can I say."
Samantha snorted and rolled her eyes, her too clapping half-heartedly at the cheeky girl. She parted her lips to retort when, all of a sudden, she felt entire body flying back into her seat roughly.
The train had lurched unexpectedly, and Jade had stumbled back and collapsed onto the floor, thrown off balance. "Blimey!"
Bridget, who up to this point might as well have died in all her uninterested silence, suddenly became alert, dull stare immediately sharpening as the train slowed to a halt.
"What the bloody hell was that?" Samantha asked sourly, rubbing a steadily forming bump on the back of her head.
Jade struggled to her feet with grumbling protest as Lily stared about suspiciously. "Dunno, but that ruddy hurt…"
Bridget impulsively rose from her seat, not even saying a word as she burst out of the compartment and wandered down the corridor in search of someone else – most likely Julia Lovelynn.
She left the door open, and the sounds of the slowly filling hallways filtered into their compartment. Various murmurs and shout of protest engulfed the tense air, piquing Samantha's curiosity.
"I'll bet you it's those bloody Slytherins!" the booming voice of James Potter trailed from a few compartments away, making Lily roll her eyes by default.
Samantha got to her feet quickly and scrambled over to the door, poking her head out into the hallway to hear snippets of other conversations.
"Maybe it's just a break down."
"First the half hour delay and now a break down!"
"I dunno, you guys, the Express has never broken down before…"
"I've heard of something like this happening on some muggle train in London. Got attacked by Death Eaters. Killed four or five muggles, I reckon."
Suddenly the lights flickered, and after a moment of uncertain wavering, they completely went out. A few shrieks pierced the dark hallway, and the shadows and dark figures of panicked students running along the corridor made Samantha feel inexplicably uneasy.
Something simply didn't feel right. She rapidly shut the door to the compartment, wheeling about to face the anxious expressions of Lily and Jade. "What's happening, you reckon?"
"Dunno – could be a break down," Lily stated evenly, though Samantha could see the subtle worry brewing in her green pools.
"No one seems to really know," Samantha observed quietly, cautiously approaching the foggy window. She gazed out of the thick glass and saw nothing out of the ordinary, though everything looked gray and dreary.
"Nothing looks too strange outside," she informed, but as she looked closer, she realized that something was most definitely off. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but something looked increasingly wrong with the landscape.
She peered at the tall, dark pine trees lining the edge of the stirring waters of the lake the train hovered over, and that's when she noticed it—the waters of the lake weren't stirring.
In fact, they weren't moving at all.
An unnatural stillness lay upon the entire scene before her eyes, and it was extremely unnerving – like the calm before a virulent storm. Small waves and ripples in the water seemed to have frozen in place, trees were halted in mid-sway – she narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
Nothing was supposed to be that still.
"Oy, guys – come have a look at this," she called over her shoulder, not tearing her gaze away from the enrapturing scene before her. She paused for a moment, awaiting their response, but heard no answer. "Simon and Garfunkel – get over here and tell me this doesn't look unnaturally creepy."
Again no response, only the echo of her voice in the hollow silence. Wait, she thought. Silence? A few moments ago havoc and chaos reigned over the halls, and every compartment was full of shrieks and bustling students. Now the only sound was that of her own voice, resounding through the dead, hollow quiet.
She turned around abruptly, her eyes instantly widening with overwhelming surprise and horror. "Oh, God…"
Author's Note: Yeah, so this chapter was sort of pointless but I just wanted to develop everyone's character a litte, and I needed something to lead up to the next one so... yeah... deal with it... nicely... :o) Review - fav quotes rock my socks!