A/N: A year after completing this story, I am now slowly going through it to edit the whole thing. This is just a little note to warn you that there may be tiny inconsistencies between parts which I have edited, and parts which still require editing. Nothing major is changing, so please do give this story read- I'm just currently in the process of making it better! (17/04/09- I'll take this note off when editing is complete)
'My only love sprung from my only hate'- Romeo & Juliet - William Shakespeare
She stood between platforms 9 and 10, next to a trolley in which she had a large trunk. Her hands hung limply by her sides as she looked around the station, trying to salvage some clue as to what she should do next.
Although she was only a young girl, of 11, she was already showing signs of unusual beauty. She was of average height and had a slender, willowy figure. Her porcelain complexion radiated in contrast to her dark brown, waist-length hair. Her eyes were transitional, but mostly hazel; in between green and brown. It was these hazel eyes which, full of despair, darted around the station as she silently pleaded for a sign.
'You know, I'm starting to think that you invented all of this magic stuff up as a way of escaping home,' an amused voice came from beside her.
She threw her brother a dirty look.
'I did not. You saw the owl with your own eyes,' she replied tartly. 'I just don't know how I'm meant to get to platform 9 3/4!'
She sighed and looked around the station in a last-bid attempt to find someone who looked as though they might attend a school for witchcraft and wizardry.
And then she saw them.
There were three of them, all donned in the robes similar to those which she had seen in Diagon Alley. The first two- the boy's parents- walked a few metres ahead and had an air of regality and superiority which sent a shiver up her spine. The boy looked frustrated and kept making faces behind his parents' backs as he wheeled his trolley.
She watched them for a while longer before turning suddenly to her brother.
'Okay, I have to go talk to him- he must know how what to do. Bye Mark!'
She quickly hugged her perplexed brother and hurried towards the boy. She blinked when she saw his parents suddenly disappearing and picked up her pace lest the boy also disappear.
'Excuse me. Hi, sorry, um…'
The boy turned his bored, grey eyes to look at her and rasied his eyebrows at her. She blushed and cleared her throat quickly.
'H...hii, my name's Helen,' she said tentatively.
The boy, wearing a confused expression, looked around him cautiously before taking her hand.
'Sirius,' he said uncertainly.
She smiled hesitantly.
'I'm so sorry, it's just that I don't know where platform 9 ¾ is and I noticed you had an owl and… do you know? Could you please tell me how to get there?' she said breathlessly.
Sirius surveyed her for a moment, his lips twitching.
'They've been really unspecific about how to get there, haven't they? Why don't you wait here while I go find out,' he said, making to leave.
'Where will you go?' asked Helen, confused. 'Maybe I should come with you.'
'Uh… er…the um… the 'Wizarding Information Bureau,'' Sirius replied, running a hand through his hair with an amused smile. 'And it's okay, I'll only be a sec. You wait here.'
'Oh, okay,' Helen said, pretending to know what this meant as she wondered why his parents didn't know where he should go.
Sirius nodded to her and turned around.
'Maybe you should leave your trolley...'
But before she could finish her sentence, Sirius had already winked at her and disappeared.
Helen began to wonder if something had gone wrong. She had been waiting for Sirius for fifteen minutes, and it was now dangerously close to 11am.
Now she wished that she hadn't sent Mark off as quickly as she had.
'Honestly, James. Your first day of school and you couldn't brush your hair?'
Helen whipped around, her heart beating hopefully.
'Mum,' the boy responded, sounding irritated. 'Stop fussing over me. It's not cool. And my hair looks fine.'
'It looks like you've been hit by a lightning bolt!'
'Enough bickering you two. Emily, if James wants to look like a scruffy ruffian from the streets, that's his problem.'
The mother, Emily, crossed her arms and pursed her lips, but chose not to argue back.
'Right, now, who's through the barrier first?'
'I'll go,' Emily said, sniffing affectedly.
Helen watched in wonder as Emily strode towards the barrier between Platforms 9 and 10. Her eyes widened as she saw her about to hit the barrier with the trolley…
'She's going to crash!' she burst out impulsively to James, her eyes wide with worry.
But Emily didn't crash. She merely disappeared, just as Sirius and his parents had...
Helen's eyes widened in comprehension. She suddenly felt very foolish for falling for Sirius' trick.
The boy, James, turned to her, smiling widely.
'Are you muggle born?'
Helen raised her eyebrows, confused.
'You're not from a magical family,' James' father translated.
'Oh…' Helen said, blushing. 'No. No, I'm not.'
'Do you ride in those mini train things that are outside?' asked James, looking at her intently.
Helen raised her eyebrows, feeling very overwhelmed by the two strangers.
'They're called cars, James,' his father explained, patting James on the head.
'Oh, those.' James said, his smile faltering. 'Do you ride in those?'
'Y...yes,' Helen said. 'Sorry,' she said, as she saw James open his mouth to ask another question, 'but I'm going to Hogwarts and the train is meant to leave in five minutes and I don't know how to get to platform 9 ¾ and Sirius was meant to come back and tell me how to get there but he just disappeared and I have to get on the train because, if I don't, I'll have to call my parents and they'll get angry and then I won't be able t….'
She looked up suddenly as she felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see James' father smiling reassuringly.
'Don't worry,' he smiled. 'All you need to do is run at that barrier and you'll appear at Platform 9 ¾. James, why don't you go with… Sorry, what's your name, dear?'
'Helen,' she said, her lips quivering in her relief.
'Richard Potter,' he said, shaking her hand. 'And this is James. James, why don't you go with Helen through the barrier?'
Helen saw Richard giving James a wink and looked to see James glaring at his father.
'Excuse my son,' Richard said, looking unimpressed with James. 'How about we go together?'
Her luggage safely loaded on the train, Helen searched for an empty compartment. She had thanked and left Richard Potter as quickly as she could, not wanting to stay with the family any longer when James evidently didn't like her.
She walked past many full compartments and saw groups of girls, chatting animatedly about their summer vacation, boys swapping cards from chocolate frogs. It was then that Helen felt the first pangs of lonliness. She knew no one and, after Sirius' prank, felt as though she could trust no one either. Finally, after searching most of the compartments, she found one which only had one boy in it.
'I was wondering if I could sit in here. Everywhere else is full,' she mumbled, desperate not to have to resort to sitting alone in the bathroom so early in the school term.
The boy looked up from his book and Helen was struck by the dark circles under his eyes.
He bit his lip uncertainly and Helen nodded miserably and turned to leave.
'Please….stay…' the boy called out after her, sounding strained, and also very apologetic.
Helen turned around slowly.
'It's okay,' she sighed. 'I'll leave you alone…'
'No, really,' the boy said, setting his book aside and standing up. 'I'm Remus Lupin. Sorry, I wasn't really concentrating when you came in… I didn't get much sleep last night,' he said, his cheeks flushing.
Helen looked at him and then smiled as she saw that he seemed genuinely apologetic.
'I'm Helen,' she said as they sat opposite each other.
Remus nodded, and they both sat in an uncomfortable silence for a while.
'How are you finding it so far?' Remus piped up eventually. 'I'm finding it a bit overwhelming to tell you the truth. You'll never believe what I did today… I ran into the barrier between platforms 8 and 9 rather than the one between 9 and 10 which was, of course, really embarrassing because my trolley smashed into the barrier sending everything everywhere and all these muggles were telling me off!'
Helen couldn't help laughing at this.
'Well at least you knew where platform 9 ¾ was meant to be! I didn't even know,' she said.
Remus surveyed her.
'So are you muggle-born, then?'
Helen was beginning to get the impression that this might be an important factor.
'Yes,' she said, barely louder than a whisper.
'I imagine that a lot of aspects of our world must be very new to you.'
'It's just… well, yes, it's that, but I think it's more the fact that I don't really know anyone.'
'Do you… do you have friends here?' she asked.
Remus smiled, though Helen was sure there was a sad edge to it.
'No,' he said. 'I don't know anyone here.'
'Oh, well, we can stick together then!' Helen said optimistically.
Her smile faltered a little when Remus didn't reply immediately, but then he smiled back at her.
'Yeah,' he said, 'We'll stick together.'
'Righ'. 'Ello to you all. My name's 'Agrid and I'm the gamekeeper here at Hogwarts. Now, it's tradition for all firs' years to cross the great lake to the school for their sorting ceremony. So, I wan' you all to sort into groups of four and then get into a boat.'
It was very dark so Helen, holding Remus' hand so they wouldn't be separated, followed him to a boat in which they both got in.
The two boys in the boat stopped talking and looked at them. Helen wanted to leave the boat immediately but, no sooner than had she thought this did the boat magically start gliding along the lake.
The two boys were James and Sirius. They shifted uneasily in their chairs under Helen's glare. Sirius then turned to Remus and held out his hand.
'Sirius Black, and this is James Potter,' he said, indicating James.
'Remus Lupin,' replied Remus, shaking their hands, 'and this is-'
'Oh don't bother, Remus. We've already met,' said Helen icily, looking the other way.
'Wh-?' Remus started, confused.
'Er-' James started.
'I see the Wizarding Information Bureau was not too busy this morning,' Helen said ironically.
'What? There's no such thing as the-' Remus said, sounding bewildered.
'Oh I know Remus. Sirius, however, seems to think otherwise.'
Both James and Sirius snorted and Remus frowned.
'What are you… oh wow,' Remus breathed, forgetting his previous line of thought as the castle came into view.
Helen and Sirius and James looked up and, for that moment, they all forgot any animosities which they held as the castle which was to change their lives forever came into view.
Helen walked with trepidation to the hat. She was the first student to be sorted and didn't know what to expect. She was rather scared of what the tattered old talking hat sitting on the stool would do to her.
On the train ride, Remus had told her about the four Houses, but he didn't seem to know of any factors which might influence what house they would end up in. He said having a family history in a house made it more likely that one would be in that house, however even this was never a guarantee.
Swallowing nervously, she sat on the stool, lifted the ancient hat and dropped it on her head. It was so large that it covered her eyes completely. She gasped when it started speaking in her ear.
'A daughter of Asteria? I've seen a few in my time. Yes, this is very interesting. You're not quite like the others, and yet the same… yes, you're very interesting. Now, where shall I put you? I could put you in Gryffindor… no, you're not a Hufflepuff. Now, Slytherin would be interesting. My, my, you shall be a difficult choice... and my first sorting for the year! Yes, you possess certain cunning to be in Slytherin… You most certainly would do very well there. After all, they value the purity of blood above all. You could be greater than all the others before you… you could truly harness it to your advantage…
'But of course, you certainly would excel in Gryffindor. You possess many qualities of the true Gryffindor. Yes, I see true courage and selflessness in your heart. But you're also very clever! Oh dear… right, let's decide! Scrap Hufflepuff. Let's scrap Ravenclaw because I just don't think you'd do as well there- you're not that kind of personality. Slytherin? Yes, you could be Slytherin. Dear me, we could flip a coin about this…but seeing as we can't… ah, I see now. Yes, I see very clearly now…'
Helen blinked, perplexed. She knew that the statement was paradoxical in itself, but she truly thought that the hat was mad.
Relieved, Helen took off the hat and hurried over to the Gryffindor table which had erupted in cheers. She sat down next to a kind-looking girl.
'Anika Moss. Well done, and welcome to Gryffindor! That was a long sorting! We were starting to think the hat had died!' she laughed.
Helen paled and, upon seeing her worried expression, Anika added-
'Well, if the hat had died, that would have been perfectly plausible. It is, after all, ancient.'
Helen smiled tightly and was thankful that she didn't need to respond as the hall had hushed as Professor McGonagall barked the next name-
Helen looked up as the Hall went deathly silent to see a girl who she thought looked remarkably like Sirius.
The hat merely touched Bellatrix's head before it shouted out- 'Slytherin.'
There was a raucous yelling from the Slytherin table and that was the first time that Helen had actually noticed them- there was an aura of superiority about them.
Perhaps that's what Remus had meant by calling them the 'Dark' house.
He dropped the hat on his head and Helen was relieved that it seemed to take even longer to sort him than it had her. At one point, she saw him shaking his head vigorously under the hat, his fists clenched. Finally, seconds later, it shouted: 'Gryffindor!'
Helen groaned and looked the other way as he sat down next to her.
'Oh look. We're stuck in the same house together,' he drawled in a falsely cheerful tone. 'We're going to have fun together.'
And with a final grimace at Helen, he turned to watch the rest of the sorting without saying another word to her.
Helen's head snapped up and she felt her blood chilling as she saw Marina, her blonde hair bouncing as she walked to the stool.
The table all around her erupted into cheers and applause. Sirius, from next to her, wolf-whistled and Helen turned, incredulously, to see him winking at Marina who blushed as she sat next to him at the table. Marina's blue eyes flickered to Helen, but they both looked away quickly as Professor McGonagall called the next person to be sorted.
When Helen woke up the next morning, it took her a moment to register where she was and why. It all seemed so surreal- that she should be at Hogwarts, a school for Witchcraft and Wizardry- that she was no longer living at home…
'Girls, time to wake up,' Lily called, pulling back all of their hangings.
Helen sat up to see that Lily was already dressed and was combing her long red hair methodically.
'We don't want to have a tardy start to the year, now, do we?' Lily continued, shaking Marina who simply rolled over and kept sleeping.
Lily gave an exasperated sigh and turned to Helen who hurriedly got out of bed.
'I'm up,' Helen smiled, going to her trunk and taking out her clothes.
'You always were a goody goody,' Marina mumbled from under her pillow.
Helen halted in her tracks on her way to the bathroom and clenched her fists. She turned to see that Lily was watching them both curiously.
'Do you know Marina?' Lily asked Helen, coming into the bathroom after her.
Helen glanced at Lily's reflection in the mirror as she pulled on her stockings.
'No,' she muttered. 'I just think she's a nasty girl.'
She looked up to see that Lily was pursing her lips, her green eyes narrowed.
'She does seem a little… cold,' Lily said slowly. 'But maybe she's just homesick?' she suggested optimistically.
Helen looked up and envied that Lily was such a good person to see the good in everyone. She knew that, even though she didn't know Lily very well, she would probably grow to envy Lily as being the type of girl she would always aspire to be, but would never actually become.
'Yeah, that's true,' Helen sighed, not about to tell Lily the truth. 'So can we go to breakfast yet? I'm starving!'
Lily smiled and, picking a stray thread off Helen's robe nodded.
'Yes, why don't you go down and wait in the common room? I'll see if I can wake up these other two before I meet you. Honestly, to be late on their first day!'
Helen was once again shocked at the sheer size of the Great Hall when they entered it for breakfast. Now that it was light, it looked even bigger than it did before. As she and Lily were helping themselves to porridge, Remus, Sirius, James and Peter entered the hall and sat down at the table.
Lily eyed the boys warily as they sat down.
'You haven't brushed your hair,' she commented stiffly to James, who was sitting opposite her.
James' head snapped up from where he was shovelling scrambled eggs on his plate and he gaped at her. Helen couldn't help laughing, remembering his mother's comments on his hair.
'Why should he brush his hair?' Sirius interrupted snidely, looking at Lily with distaste.
Lily looked at Sirius, blushing a little.
'I'm sorry, I don't remember your name,' she said politely.
Sirius grinned casually.
'I can't say I'm pleased to make your acquaintance,' he drawled.
Lily blinked, shocked by his rudeness.
'Don't worry,' Helen said to Lily, glaring at Sirius. 'He's like that to everyone. Take no notice of him. He's just an insufferable git who thinks he's above everyone else.'
The table fell silent and Helen felt her cheeks colouring as she realised that everyone else had heard what she said.
'I mean…' she faltered, looking up at Sirius hesitantly.
But to her surprise, he let out a bark of a laugh.
'Sweetie, I am better than "most people."
'Tell me,' James interrupted, sensing an argument between Helen and Sirius brewing, 'Why is it that girls eat rabbit food all the time?'
'What?' Helen breathed, thinking that the boys at her new school were the strangest boys she had ever met.
Lily sighed heavily and left the table. Helen's lips twitched as she watched James' eyes following Lily.
James then looked back to Helen expectantly.
'So what's with you girls and food?'
Helen looked at James coldly.
'I thought you didn't want to associate with me?' she asked, raising her eyebrows.
James surveyed her.
'At first you seemed like you were too much of a rule-follower… but then I saw you sneaking out of the common room last night and changed my mind.'
'What?' she whispered, mortified that she had already been caught breaking the rules.
'So yeah, I changed my mind. I think you're okay… for a girl, that is.'
Helen felt herself relaxing a little.
'This is what is called a healthy breakfast as opposed to the artery-clogging, recipe for a heart attack which you are eating,' she said.
Sirius rolled his eyes and piled more bacon on his plate and offered it to James who appeared undecided for a moment, but then took it and put two extra rashers on his plate.
'What class do we have first?' Helen asked, turning to Remus.
'Charms,' Remus replied, looking up from his charms textbook.
Helen watched him, her eyes widening.
'Have you studied much?' she asked, feeling worried.
Remus chewed his lip.
'I've read through all our text books. Do you think that'll be enough?'
Helen's eyes widened. She hadn't even opened her books yet.
'Have you studied?' she asked James, feeling panic overcoming her.
James rolled his eyes at Helen.
'In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not a goody-two-shoes.'
Helen relaxed a little and glanced at Sirius who was making a point of ignoring her.
'What about you, Sirius?' James asked, nudging Sirius.
'What?' Sirius asked, feigning ignorance.
James rolled his eyes.
'Have you done any study yet?'
'Nope,' Sirius said coolly.
'Me? No, of course not!' Peter stammered, his cheeks flushing.
'You know, Remus, you probably don't want to be telling everyone that you've been studying a lot already. Trust me, it's not a good look,' Sirius said, tapping his nose before rising from the table and striding out of the Hall.
James hovered uncertainly but then shrugged and hoisted up his bag.
'We better get going,' he said, hurrying to catch up to Sirius.
Peter scrambled to follow suit, tripping over his oversized robes as he did.
Helen turned to Remus and she suddenly felt very angry at Sirius as she saw how disheartened Remus seemed.
'There's nothing wrong with studying. Don't listen to Black- Lily said that she had been practising with her wand and has also read a few of our books. Even I tried to read two of them… I just didn't get what they were talking about half the time. Potions seemed interesting enough, though,' she admitted. 'A bit like this thing called chemistry which we studied at my muggle school.'
Helen beamed at him and they both stood up and left for their next class.
'Now, class,' chimed Professor Flitwick, the tiny charms Professor, after having given them a briefing on levitating charms, 'to work! Two per feather.'
Helen paired with Lily. Lily was first to attempt to levitate the feather and, after three attempts, was successful, earning Gryffindor 10 points.
Helen swallowed nervously as Lily stepped aside. It didn't seem very hard to do…
As she raised her wand, she smelt smoke from behind her.
'Look at what you've done, Sirius!' James shouted, trying to pat the flame out of the burning feather, only to withdraw his hands and suck on them in pain.
'Silly boy,' Lily muttered disapprovingly. 'Professor!' she called desperately, trying to find Professor Flitwick, as the fire spread to Sirius' charms book.
Helen suddenly remembered about the charm she had read about in her charms book a few nights ago and made her decision in a split second.
'Aguamenti,' she said, pointing her wand at the desk, a stream of water pouring out of her wand, extinguishing the fire immediately.
Helen blinked, surprised at herself and also, quietly, very proud for having performed her first successful charm.
'Wow,' James said, looking at Helen both thankfully and in awe.
Sirius, on the other hand, looked at her coldly.
'I didn't ask for you to show off,' he snapped.
Helen felt a sudden urge to slap him. She couldn't understand why he was so determined to be nasty to her.
'Fine,' she said, coolly, muttering the opposite incantation and lighting his desk back on fire again. 'Deal with it yourself then,' she added, turning around her attention to her feather which she caused to soar to the ceiling immediately.
So this is my first chapter! Reviews are much appreciated :)