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Note: I am officially done with exams! Hurrah for me! Hopefully you'll be getting updates with much more regularity. Thanks for hanging in there, and please review! Even if it's only a nice comment, I'd appreciate it more than you know! It's just a little button…just click it….good lads and lasses!
Olivia looked about herself eagerly, trying to locate her friends. Every few minutes more young witches and wizards and their families would pop through the barrier, and the noise on the train platform was almost deafening with the shouts, screams, and cries of so many happy, and in some cases, sorrowful, wizards. Olivia could easily see who the first years were, as they looked nervously around while still managing to look completely excited. It was even easier to see who the Muggle borns were, as they looked at the witch mothers performing Scouring Charms, or at the remaining Jordan brother, Wilfred, set off fireworks. Wesley, Wilfred's brother and partner in crime, had graduated last year. Olivia had wondered how Wesley would be doing on his own, but she was pleased to see that he looked to be handling his isolation well. After all, he was a fifth year, this term. Wilfred spotted Olivia, and came over to say hello. They had gotten to know each other last year, when the Jordan brothers had helped Olivia in her joke war against Malfoy.
"Hey, Liv! How are you doing? Have a good summer?" Wilfred's spiky hair reached toward the sky, and he was in a state of wiggly excitement.
She nodded happily. "It was decent-my guardian got married, so I spent a fair bit of time over at Robert's house."
Wilfred's eyes lit up-he and Robert were good friends. "Blimey! Wish I could have gotten to spent some time with Rob. How's he doing, the deserter?"
"He's doing quite well in his Auror training, but I think he misses Hogwarts. I don't know that he was quite prepared to accept the responsibility of being an adult yet. What's Wesley up to?"
"He had no idea what he wanted to do with himself, so my dad's pulled him in to work in his shop in Hogsmeade. Wes hates it, but I suppose its good experience for him. Dad makes him do inventory and stocking and all sorts of boring work, but Dad says it'll keep Wes out of trouble until he figures out what he wants to do with himself."
Olivia looked off into the distance for a moment. "It won't be the same at Hogwarts without him…at least we'll get to see him on our Hogsmeade weekends, though. I get to start going this year."
Wilfred looked interested. "Really? Blimey, Liv, that's great! Hey, why don't you walk around with me on your first weekend? I can show you around, and we could even go and see if it's possible to bust Wesley out of the store for an hour or so. How about it?"
Olivia was bewildered at the strange look of hope that she saw on Wilfred's face. Somehow, she had the feeling that he was asking her to walk around Hogsmeade with him as more than a casual outing with a friend. Did this mean that he liked her? But he was a fifth year, for goodness' sake! She was only twelve, albeit twelve for only a few more weeks. What could he possibly see in someone that was so much younger than him?
More to the point, what could she say? First of all, she had never even considered dating someone before, and it was very difficult to see Wilfred as anything other than a friend. Besides, what would Uncle Peter say? Surely he would have some rules about dating, you would think.
Wilfred cleared his throat at Olivia's long silence. "Uh, Olivia? Do you want to go, or don't you?"
Uncle Peter didn't have to know anything about this. Of course, she could never deceive her guardian…but she didn't even really know what Wilfred's intentions were. It was possible that he was just asking as a friend. In case she was wrong about her suspicions, she would just go along with it. Besides, Wilfred was a good boy, and she could do worse than spend an afternoon with him.
Arriving to a clear answer, Olivia replied, "Certainly, Wilfred. That would be fun." The Hogwarts Express' whistle suddenly went screeching through the air just as Wilfred's grin spread across his entire face.
"Come on, Olivia! It's time to board the train!" The two ran towards the long scarlet train, where Olivia was delighted to see a few of her roommates just starting to get onboard.
"Bertie! Mattie! Oh, Millie! It's so good to see you all! The summer was too long!"
Millie smiled widely at her best friend. Even though she and Olivia had exchanged letters faithfully over the summer, nothing really prepared Olivia for the change in her friend and former enemy. Millie had grown a few more inches, but had lost the swarthy look of her childhood. Instead, she had become quite willowy, and Olivia noted the fact that Millie had definitely entered puberty. Millie was on the road to becoming a woman, and everyone with eyes in their heads could tell that she would become exceptionally beautiful. Her chestnut hair had lightened a few shades from the sun, and had become a soft brown that was almost blonde. A few freckles sprouted across Millie's nose, but they just gave Millie an impish look that clashed quite pleasingly with her fine features.
Mattie, meanwhile, had still kept the round shape that she'd had as an eleven-year-old, but it just made her look cute, like a little butterball. Her brown hair was no longer in chestnut braids, however, but was pinned up on her head, like Madame Galen's hair. Her bright blue eyes sparkled brightly out of her face, star-like in their brilliance. Olivia thought that Mattie looked quaint, like an old-fashioned girl that had been raised on a farm of some sort. However, while Mattie's face and figure both told of her kindness and compassion, they managed to effectively hide her wit and fire. There was no more loyal friend that Mattie, and she protected those she cared about fiercely.
Bertie's hair was still cut about her face, in a style that was coming to be known as a bob. Her light green eyes were now hidden behind new round glasses that winked in the sunlight pouring in through Platform nine and three-quarters' skylights, but her body had at last caught up with her hands and feet. Bertie now walked with such grace that she almost appeared to float above the floor.
Olivia flew into the arms of her friends, who shouted with joy and chattered with such energy that nobody could hear anybody else, and Wilfred had to shepherd them all onto the train as the scarlet engine began to pull away from the station. Somehow, the girls managed to find an empty compartment, and Wilfred left them at the door of it, looking distinctly uncertain as to what the proper protocol was in this sort of situation. Once Olivia was safely delivered, however, he headed further down the train, where he was glad to see some of the boys from his dormitory waiting for him.
Meanwhile, the chatter had grown to such volume in the Ravenclaws' compartment that other students had started to bang on the walls in protest of the noise. Seizing the moment, Millie put two fingers to her lips, and proceeded to let out such a loud whistle that Olivia feared the window glass would crack. All of the girls fell silent instantly.
"Goodness, Millie, where did you learn such a whistle? Heavens, I thought that you were the train's whistle for a minute!" Bertie said, shaking her head as if to rid her ears of the sound.
Millie grinned. "Sorry, ladies. Spending the summer around a bunch of small witches and wizards teaches you how to get people's attention quickly. Now then, let's try to organize ourselves somewhat. Does anybody know where Anita and Viola are? I thought they'd be sitting with us!"
Bertie almost leapt from her seat in her excitement of knowing some news. "Anita's not coming to Hogwarts this year!"
"What?" "Why not" No Anita? Horrid!" The cries of indignation and sorrow burst from all corners of the room at once. Millie threateningly raised her fingers to her mouth again, which instantly caused a deep and abiding silence to fall over the compartment.
Bertie cleared her throat. "No, she's not coming to Hogwarts. But it's good news about why she's not, don't worry. You know how Anita comes from such a rich family, and about how her mother and father are always talking about wanting her to get some foreign experience? Well, Anita's going to be getting some of that experience! She's going away to another magic school in France for a whole year! She wrote me a letter about it….she said it's called the Beauxbaton's Academy of Magic. How about that for some interesting news?"
Pandemonium erupted in the car, but it was much quieter. Nobody wanted to hear that whistle again. Finally, things quieted down enough for Olivia to ask, "How long is she going to go there, Bertie? Do you know?"
Bertie shrugged. "I got the feeling that it depends on how well Anita gets on there. If she does really well, she can stay as long as she likes. If she doesn't fit in and does badly on her schoolwork, then she'll only get to stay for a year. But there's even more news, girls."
"Merlin's beard!" exclaimed Millie. "Whatever could beat the news of Anita becoming an exchange student?"
Bertie could barely contain her excitement. "That's exactly it, Millie! Anita's going to be an exchange student-so a Beauxbaton's student will be coming to Hogwarts in her place! It's a girl our age, but she'll be Sorted just after the first years. If she's placed in Ravenclaw, she'll be placed with us!"
Olivia clapped her hands with glee. "Marvelous! Won't that be interesting, to have a new girl in our room? Viola would love having someone to speak French with! Speaking of Viola, where is she, anyway? I haven't seen her."
Just as these words were leaving Olivia's lips, the sliding door to the girl's compartment opened, and a small figure fell right through it and landed in a heap on the floor. Olivia gasped when she realized that the figure was Viola herself, and she had been hexed!
"Goodness! She's got the Leg-Locker curse on her!" Before Bertie could even finish her statement, Olivia had whipped out wand and had released Viola from the curse, as well as the Silencing Charm that had been laid on the French girl.
Sputtering angrily, Viola was helped to her feet by Olivia and Millie. "Nevah, nevah een my life!" Viola spit out. Her roommates had never seen her in such a towering anger before. "Eet eez an outrage! I shall bee reporting theez to Professor Merrythought, you can bee sure of that!"
"But Viola, dear, what happened? Who cursed you?" asked Olivia as she helped Viola to a seat.
"Eet was that 'orrible, evil boy, Abraxus Malfoy! I was coming to join you all, when 'e stepped into the corridor. 'E grinned zee most 'orrible grimace and then 'e cursed me! Just as 'e was walkeeng away, 'e said, 'That's for your leetle friend, Ohleevea! Welcome back to Hogwarts!' Then 'e was gone, and I was left alone to struggle. Eet is madness!"
A grim and hard look came over Olivia's face. "I can't believe he cursed you, Viola! Just because you're my friend! Don't worry…I'll take care of this."
Mattie turned a stern eye on Olivia. "You'll take care of it by reporting the incident to Professor Merrythought, and then stopping this ridiculous joke war, Olivia! Viola's right, its madness! To you it just may be a bit of fun, not worth a huge amount of tumult. But for Malfoy, he'll turn it to his own devices! I promise, he won't stop until he's hurt you! And I won't stand for it!"
Olivia shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "I certainly don't want anybody to be hurt by it, Mattie. I do think that Viola should report all of this to Professor Merrythought. But I'm not going to sit tamely by while he curses my friends and not do something that may teach him a lesson! What do you take me for, a weakling?"
"Of course not, Livie! I just think that you should stop playing jokes on Malfoy. That way, if he does something, you won't get into trouble! You won't have provoked it, and you wouldn't have done anything wrong. Don't you see how smart that would be?"
"I see your point, Mattie…I'll try." Olivia sighed heavily. "But I had such great pranks worked out for this year!"
Viola leaned for eagerly. "Ooo, what eez ze plan, Ohleevea? I am so interested!"
Mattie looked at Viola as if the French girl had suddenly taken leave of her senses. "Hello, is Viola Valois around? Viola Valois, the same girl that just got cursed, and was completely furious about it?"
Viola shrugged. "Just because I got cursed does not mean that I am not interested, Mattie. I would like to see theez Malfoy punished for his bad, bad deed. Would you not?"
"You mean to tell me that I just had a fight with Olivia over you, when you don't mind her playing pranks, Viola?" Mattie groaned and put her face into her hands. Everyone laughed, and any tension that there had been in the room cleared away.
The long hours on the train quickly fell away as the girls visited and told what had happened during their summers. When Olivia told the girls about the bomb exploding at her guardian's wedding, there was another explosion of sound. It took a long time for that particular piece of news to be talked through to the complete satisfaction of everyone involved.
When she told of staying with the Potters, Mattie leaned forward eagerly. "Did you see Darcy at all, Livie? How is she doing?"
"Goodness, I can't believe I forgot to tell you! I only saw Darcy for one day of the summer…and it wasn't a happy day. I don't think she was terribly thrilled to see me at the Potter's house. Anyway, the long and short of it is by the time Darcy left that night, she and Robert were no longer together."
"Olivia! You're kidding! I didn't think they'd break up so soon." Bertie looked surprised, and Olivia turned to her with some amazement. "Oh, I always knew that they weren't right together. I knew they'd break up eventually; I just didn't think it would be this summer."
Rolling her eyes heavenward, Olivia said sarcastically, "Bertha Guernsey: prophetess of Hogwarts and relationships. That's what they'll call you in the years to come. After all, aren't you going to take Divination?"
"Ha, ha, Olivia, very funny. I'm only taking Divination because I'm not interested in Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies, or Arithmancy. I don't want to be a prophetess of anything, thank you very much."
It was getting dark outside when the train shuddered to a halt. Olivia and the other girls, having already changed into their school robes, made their way off the train and into the carriages that awaited them, drawn by invisible horses and guided by an invisible magic towards the beautiful school that waited for them somewhere in the distance