A/N: So, this is my first story and there may be some typos, it is late and I really wanted to get this posted before I went to sleep. Reviews are very much appreciated; I would like to know if I am on the right track.
Disclaimer: I do not, sadly, own or make any money off of any of the characters from Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling is the genius. Any characters that are not from the books belong to me.
Somehow she had managed to find the only empty compartment on the train. To other students walking past she looked like a regular witch, but Echo felt more out of place than ever. She sat straight and regal and her hands shook.
She missed her parents already and her only consolation was that at Christmas she would see them and tell them about all the strange, magical things she had seen.
Echo's parents, Misty and Sam, had never heard of Hogwarts or believed in magic until the letter had arrived followed closely by a man in a large black robe, with red hair, wearing a delighted smile as he stepped out of the fireplace. The hours that had followed still made Echo smile. Her father had never looked so confused nor her mother been so silent while Mr. Weasley explained the situation. Even after the guided trip to Diagon Alley, Echo herself could not quite believe it all.
Clutching her wand momentarily Echo tried to find courage and, unaware that her self assured posture was a bit intimidating, fervently wished for someone who could answer her endless questions or at least ease her apprehension about the magical world.
A few minutes later the compartment door slid open and a bushy brown haired girl poked her head in and grinned at Echo.
"Hey! Are you excited yet?"
Echo recognized the girl from the muggle born guided tour of Diagon Ally and smiled shyly at her.
"Yeah, I just don't know what to expect." Echo replied. She hoped her visitor would stay but those hopes were dashed with Hermione's next words.
"Don't worry, none of us do really. I'm going to go change so I'll see you when we get there."
She left and Echo resumed her silent contemplation.
The train slowed and stopped. It has arrived. Students of all ages poured off. A stream of robed teenagers went past the closed compartment where Echo sat, alone, staring out the window and lost in thought.
Echo knew she should get off the train. She wasn't even scared really, yet for some reason she couldn't move. And so she sat, while students left the train and disappeared towards the looming building. By the time more than half of the boats and all of the carriages had gone Echo discovered she was unable to move for fear that, if she did, she might wake up and this would all be a dream. She gripped her wand tightly and stood up. The compartment door opened before she reached it, revealing a pale, blond boy only slightly taller than herself.
Draco Malfoy stopped mid-sneer when he saw the girl who had not yet left the train. She was slim, with dark blonde hair, striking blue eyes, and a posture his mother would have envied. She was gorgeous.
Draco cleared his throat "Hello, I'm Malfoy, Draco Malfoy." She shook his offered hand and smiled one of her rare, unaffected smiles.
Draco tried to recall if Sarassen had been the family name of any important pureblood families. She certainly carried herself like a pureblood. And her reaction to his family name, the smile of a person to her equal, convinced him she must be.
"So, what house are you hoping to be in?"
"Oh," Echo paused. She had no idea what he was talking about. "I'm not entirely sure. What about you?"
He didn't answer immediately as they had arrived at the lake and it took a few moments to become situated and for the boat to begin moving.
"Well, my whole family has been in Slytherin so I expect I should be there too."
"Cool." Echo's hands had started shaking again and she hid them in her robes.
Draco noticed Echo's shoulders straighten even more, a feat he wouldn't have thought possible. When she slid her hands into her robes realization dawned on him; she was nervous. No one would know it by looking at her, she appeared to be completely self assured. He smiled, impressed by her composure, and decided to try and help her feel more comfortable.
"What house is your family aligned with?" Draco asked.
"I-" Echo began to explain that she was the first of her family to go to Hogwarts but was interrupted by another student.
"Look! It's the squid!" The boy yelled. The rest of the boat ride was spent peering into the depths of the lake, searching for other signs of life. Echo found she couldn't concentrate on this exercise.
"Draco?" She said hesitatingly. His silver eyes found hers and she knew she had his complete attention. "What do you call the creatures pulling the carriages that the other students took?"
His brow furrowed slightly. "Those carriages aren't pulled by anything."
"Oh." Now it was Echo's turn to frown. She would have sworn that she saw horse-like creatures pulling one. But maybe not. She shrugged and decided not to mention it again. It would hardly be fitting for her classmates to think she was crazy.
When the boats reached the other shore Draco excused himself and moved away from Echo and the other boy who had shared their boat toward the front of the group of students. Echo could see him talking to one-no two boys. One had dark shaggy hair and the other was a red head. She could see that some sort of a disagreement was going on but she couldn't hear anything. Scanning the crowd of first years Echo spotted Hermione standing near the front. She looked quite confident and prepared for anything the magical world could throw at her. Echo sighed.
Draco found Echo again when Prof. McGonagall began leading them into the Great Hall. He studied her as they walked and realized that he shouldn't know she was nervous. She didn't appear to be. But he knew she was.
"Don't worry Echo. This is going to be fun." He patted her shoulder and she smiled weakly at him. The doors to the Great Hall opened, washing the students in golden light.
A few first years had been sorted and Echo was feeling more and more nervous. She didn't think that any of the houses described her perfectly. The more she waited the more she was convinced the Sorting Hat would send her home.
"Wish me luck" Draco whispered.
"Why?" Echo looked over at him and his steady gaze melted her nerves. A rock, she thought, he is a rock.
"My dad will kill me if I'm not in Slytherin."
Echo chuckled quietly and then stopped when she realized that Draco hadn't really been kidding. "Oh, well, good luck then. I would hate to lose my first friend here."
His name was called so Draco didn't respond. Echo held her breath as Draco walked to the hat. But they needn't have worried; the hat had barely touched his head before it yelled "SLYTHERIN".
Draco walked past her to the Slytherin table, a triumphant smile on his face. "Now it's your turn. Hope to see you at the Slytherin table."
Echo felt torn. Hermione had been sorted into Gryffindor and Echo had rather liked her. But, Echo liked Draco too. He seemed nice and he had kept her from being too nervous.
The walk to the hat seemed to take hours. Everyone watching her, even the professors, were impressed with the way this first year carried herself. Shoulders back and chin held high, she looked confident as she glided gracefully to the front of the hall.
The hat fit down over her head and began talking. Echo jumped a bit.
Let's see here. A muggleborn, wonderful. You are certainly loyal, smart, courageous, and you even have a ruthless streak in there. Where to put you? Any preferences young lady? Echo shook her head. I can see you haven't yet been tainted by school rivalries. That's good. If you had, I am sure you would protest my decision. Regardless of what you may think later and of what your housemates may tell you, the place for you to do the most good is SLYTHERIN. Slytherin clapped the loudest of all, happy to boast this beautiful and self assured young lady as one of them. Draco scooted over for her and she sat down, earning the glare of a brown haired pug faced girl. The feast began.
Despite the looks that Echo caught every now and again from students in different houses, she found herself enjoying the conversation around her. Draco talked the most, not only to her but to other students all around. One Slytherin, Marcus, was going on about Quidditch (which Echo had read about) and this led to a heated discussion about "bloody Gryffindors" and much cursing.
"They're all such gits" Draco muttered. Heads around the table nodded.
"Well, not all of them" Echo said rather quietly. The older boy Marcus looked at her as if she had grown another head. Echo laughed a little but stopped when Marcus frowned. "Okay, so maybe they are almost all awful, but one girl over there seemed nice." Echo pointed to Hermione.
Everyone's eyes followed her finger and then looked back at her incredulously. Echo gulped. She didn't think they were so serious about their hatred of Gryffindor.
"It's understandable that you thought she was nice. You must not know what she is." Marcus drawled.
"What?" Echo felt apprehensive.
"She's a mudblood." The disdain in his voice made Echo nervous. She didn't dare ask what that was, because clearly she was supposed to know. An uncomfortable silence fell over her and she stopped listening to the people around her talk. She focused on her food and began to surreptitiously watch Hermione to see if she was going to sprout horns.
After being led down numerous passageways and stairs, Echo was finally in the Slytherin common room. Someone, probably Marcus Flint, mentioned that they were under the Black Lake and she cringed. She didn't like the thought of being so far below ground. But the roaring fire and the soft couches helped her forget quickly and soon Draco and a group of his friends were all sitting around relaxing. Echo was introduced to them. The short, brown haired girl who had glared at her over dinner was Pansy and the girl sitting next to her with long black hair was Daphne. They both spent much of the evening trying to get Draco's attention and Echo had the sinking feeling they would resent her for the attention she received from him. Daphne and Pansy were her roommates.
The other boy in the room was Blaise and he was the polar opposite of Draco. He had dark hair, dark eyes and a tanned complexion yet they oddly complemented each other. Echo found herself with the courage to enter the conversation more and more, if only to draw Draco's gaze to her. Eventually the conversation moved away from Hogwarts and onto family and money. Blaise went first, describing his mum and her last seven husbands and the different ways they died. He finished with the most recent death; an "accidental" fall while climbing on the rocks by their winter villa and Draco looked over to Echo.
"What about you Echo? Tell us about your parents." It was what Draco had been dying to know all night. If she was the daughter of a prestigious bloodline, then being friends with her might impress his parents. His silver eyes shone at the thought. It didn't hurt that she seemed intelligent and was beautiful.
"My mom is an artist, a painter actually and my dad is a pilot." She received blank looks.
"What is a pilot?" Blaise asked.
"He flies planes." She hoped they would get it then, but no such luck.
"What's a plane?" Pansy wanted to know.
"You mean you have never flown in a plane?" Echo couldn't believe her ears.
"Well, we apparate or floo or use brooms." Daphne jumped in.
"What's a floo?" It was Echo's turn to be confused.
Silence fell over the group. Echo looked from person to person but none of them would meet her eyes. Draco was shocked past words, they all were.
"Is your mom a witch or your dad a wizard?" Blaise asked tentatively. He was afraid of the answer.
"Oh no!" Echo smiled. "We didn't know about any of this until I received my letter this summer." She expected looks of understanding, torrents of information about the wizarding world, or even teasing about her ignorance. She got shock and disgust.
Blaise wouldn't meet her eyes, neither would Daphne. They seemed to be waiting for Draco or Pansy, the group trend setters, to make the first move. Echo looked to Draco. His molten eyes, once friendly, were hard steel and unreadable. Pansy was an open book; her face was a deep scowl and her eyes were violent.
Echo felt the urge to disappear into the couch, so naturally she straightened her shoulders and lifted her chin. "What is the problem?" She asked coolly.
"The problem!" Pansy shrieked. "The problem is that a mudblood was sorted into Slytherin!"