I took a deep breath as I pushed the huge castle entrance doors open the next morning, seeing that I was the only one at the meeting place as of yet, and was greeted by a mousy-looking woman with short, silver hair that stuck out in every direction. It was about seven-thirty in the morning, and I was barely functioning. The only thing that had gotten me up this morning was the House Prefect, since they don't have alarm clocks here, and I can barely hear the hourly chime of the huge clock in the tower.

"Ah, you must be Miss Swan?" The woman smiled at me before sticking out her hand.

"Yep." I replied, still half in my daze, shaking her hand lazily.

"Pleasure to meet you, I'm Madam Hooch, Flying Instructor for this week. I've heard about you from Professor McGonagall, she has high hopes for you."

"And with my luck, I'll end up disappointing her."

I hated it when people expected things from me...it makes me feel ten times worse when I don't live up to it.

"I'm sure you'll be fine, dear. You've already started off on the right foot, being the first one here, and on time." She smiled.

Setting my messenger bag against the castle wall, out of the way, I stood awkwardly with broom in hand, waiting and praying that the other students would get their asses in gear and be here already. A few minutes later a rush of small girls and boys came padding over to the spot where we were standing, holding brooms that were taller than most of them.

"First thing's first," The teacher clapped her glove-covered hands together. "I am Madam Hooch."

"Good morning, Madam Hooch." All the kids said at once, while I stayed quiet.

"Welcome to your first flying lesson! I take it none of you have flown before?"

We all shook our heads.

"Excellent, we're all on the same page. Now, line up in two groups on either side of me, and set you broom on the ground next to you."

We did as she said, making two lines, and set our brooms down.

"When I blow my whistle, put your hand out over you broom, and say "up!". Brooms have personalities of their own, just like your wands, and this helps it get acquainted to you."

She blew the silver whistle and immediately the children started yelling 'up!' at their brooms. Seven seconds in, half were irritated and had frowns on their faces, and the other half were still calmly urging the brooms to obey. I took a deep breath and let it out, remembering what Hermione taught me. Sticking my hand out over my broom, I cleared my throat and shouted "up!" in a strong tone of voice. Suddenly the broom shot off the ground and into my hand with a small smack against my palm. I was stunned for a few seconds before I realized that I had done it on the first try, then I smiled to myself.

"Well done, Bella!" Madam Hooch said as she walked past me. "Come on, everyone, with feeling!"

"No fair, she's older." I heard a kid gripe.

"Why is she even in this class? Is she so stupid she failed six years straight?" Another one chimed in.

My smiled faded as a few others joined in, and my happiness was soon turned into anger, but I didn't let it show on my face.

"Boys!" Madam Hooch scolded. "I will not tolerate such rude exchanges. Bella didn't get it right on her first time because she's older, she got it because she was focused and confident. You could learn a thing or two from her, seeing as your brooms are still on the ground."

The rest of the class giggled, and the boys lowered their heads. I was slightly embarrassed that I hadn't stuck up for myself, but I wasn't one to get into verbal confrontation, especially with children...that would just be even more immature. I stood there quietly as the rest of the class starting succeeding in getting their brooms to respond, and five minutes later, we were all waiting for the next instruction.

"Alright, now that everyone has got a hold of their brooms, mount it, and hold on tight, unless you want to slid off the end and injure yourself."

Swinging my leg over the stick and gripping it with both hands, it felt oddly...right, for lack of a better word.

"When I blow my whistle I want you to kick off the ground, keep your brooms steady, hover for a moment, then touch back down. Three, two, one..." Then a high pitch whistle again, that wasn't good for my head at this hour.

Closing my eyes to focus, I bent my knees and slowly pushed off, my feet leaving the ground and dangling in the air. The breeze felt better now that I was feeling as light as a feather on the wind. But, when I opened my eyes, I wasn't inches off the ground like I thought, I was about five feet. I startled me and for the moment I was caught off guard, I fell back to the ground and landed on both shaky feet.

"You were doing very well, Bella, what happened?" Madam Hooch asked.

"I opened my eyes...and wasn't expecting to be that high on my first try."

She nodded. "That's alright, we have all week to improve." Patting me on the shoulder, she moved to the other line, inspecting the others. "Brilliant, Miss Harmon."

Ten more minutes of practicing, with my eyes open, and I got better at controlling my hover height, and I was excited for when we'd actually get to take it up in the air and fly around. The bells sounded throughout the castle grounds then, and everyone around me started moving back to the castle. I grabbed my bag and carried my broom back inside, down the hall, up the flights of stairs, and into the dorm, where I nearly fell into Hermione.

"Hey, Bella, how was you flying lesson?"

"Interesting, though the kids think I'm there because I'm stupid." I responded, placing my broom back against the wall.

"That's ridiculous, you are far from stupid."

Giving her a weak smile, I joined her back at the door. "Glad you think so, kids are jerks."

Giggling, she tugged on my arm and ushered me down the stairs and through the common room. "What is your schedule?" She asked.

Handing it over to her, I glanced at it again, making sure I grabbed the right books I needed.

Monday

7:30 AM – Flying – Madam Hooch (Sept. 2-6)

8:15 AM – Potions – Professor Snape

10:15 AM – Defense Against The Dark Arts – Professor Snape

NOON – Lunch

1:15 PM – History of Magic – Professor Binns

2:30 PM – Muggle Studies – Professor Carrow

Tuesday

8:15 AM – Charms – Professor Flitwick

10:15 AM – Herbology

NOON – Lunch

1:15 Transfiguration – Professor McGonagall

Wednesday

8:15 AM – Potions – Professor Snape

10:15 AM – Herbology – Professor Sprout

NOON – Lunch

1:15 – Divination – Professor Trelawney

MIDNIGHT – Astronomy – Professor Sinistra

Thursday

8:15 AM – Charms – Professor Flitwick

10:15 AM – Herbology

NOON – Lunch

1:15 – Transfiguration – Professor McGonagall

Friday

8:15 AM – Potions – Professor Snape

10:15 AM– History of Magic – Professor Binns

NOON – Lunch

1:15 PM – Muggle Studies – Professor Carrow

"Huh." Hermione muttered to herself.

"What?"

"You're in my Divination and Muggle Studies class...but those are Third Year and up classes, plus MS is an elective."

"Oh...I thought they were going to just start me in all First Year classes?"

"Maybe they are seeing how you do with harder subjects. Since you're older, you can concentrate better and learn faster, though Muggle Studies should be very easy for you."

"That's good." I said, pocketing the schedule as we made our way down the moving staircases. "And I'll have you, so I'm relieved."

By the time we made it down to The Great Hall, it was nearly time for me to leave for Potions in the Dungeon. Grabbing the egg-covered toast, I folded it in half so I could eat on the go. After stuff a napkin in my pocket, I said goodbye to everyone and made my way down the stone steps and into the darker dungeon part of the castle. When I made it into the classroom, there were only a few people there, so I got a nice seat in there back to where I could still see the board and be semi-invisible.

Finishing my breakfast, I wiped my hands off with the napkin and shoved it back in my robe pocket. Settling now, I took in the dark room, lit by brightly lit candles everywhere. There were flasks, cauldrons, books all over the place, and I was surprised that it actually sort of resembled a science room when you got down to the basics, and forgot that you were in a magical classroom at a magical school.

Once kids started pouring in, I could hear their whispering about me clearly, wondering why I was here, if I failed...how hot I am, which is the only good thing about the whispering today; Apparently I'm an eight out of ten on the hotness scale, according to the eleven and twelve year olds that now littered the room. The girls just seemed annoyed that I was taking the boys' attention away from them, and I got many glares.

As soon as the bell chimed, the black-haired teacher I met briefly the night I got here, came striding in the door. The class was dead silent all of a sudden and the air changed to where you could cut the tension with a knife. With his back still to us, he flicked his wand in the air, and a pile of books started handing themselves out to the students, floating down the aisle with ease. I shook my head slightly, doubting I'd ever get used to this kind of thing, because it still amazed me every time.

"There will be no foolish wand waving, or silly incantations in this classroom." He said, turning around overly dramatically, his robe making a whooshing sound as he did. "I don't expect all of you to appreciate the science and art of this class, but for those who do...I can teach you to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death."

I couldn't help but want to laugh. I had never come across someone so dark and theatrical in the way they present themselves to a group of people they've never met. The class seemed to be in awe of him, or frightened by him...and I'm sure he was going for the latter, by the way his scowl hung on his face, making an excess of wrinkles on his forehead. Walking slowly, across the room, eying every single one of us, making me even more uncomfortable when his eyes stayed on mine longer than everyone elses.

"Tell me, what is a Bezoar?" He asked the whole class, but no one raised their hand, or even made a move for that matter. "No one? How about you, Miss Swan?"

My eyes met his again, this time my heart was pounding, and my face was getting hot from the blushing I was no doing.

"I, um...I don't know, Sir." I replied.

"You don't know..." He mused, looking around the class again. "Let's try again; What would I get if I added powdered root of Asphodel to an infusion of Wormwood?"

Again, not one moved to answer him, though eyes were everywhere but his as he continued to dominate us with his presence.

"For your information class, Asphodel and Wormwood make a powerful sleeping potion known as the Draught of the Living Death. And a Bezoar is a stone that is taken from the stomach of a goat, and it will save you from poisons." He said so 'as a matter of factly'. "Well...why don't I see anyone copying this down?"

Because you didn't say too...

I could already tell that this man was going to get on my nerves. And I was right. After Potions, I had Professor Snape again for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and once again, he picked on me for a question that he knew I had no idea what he was even talking about, embarrassing me, and making my face flush red. I didn't know whether he liked picking on me because I stood out in class, or that he just liked to embarrass innocent people. Either way, I was happy when the bell sounded and I high-tailed it back up to the ground floor for lunch.

Not seeing any of the girls, or the boys for that matter, I sat my myself and pulled out my newly acquired books as my food popped up in front of me. Today's meal was fish and chips, and it looked mighty tasty. Cutting a piece of fish and dipping it in a side of tartar sauce, I flipped through the pages in my book. There weren't really many pictures, but a lot of instructions on how to make all types of different potions, for all sorts of things that I never even considered needing.

"Hello." An eager voice said as I bit down on a fry.

Looking across the table, I was met with a pair of dark brown eyes. "I'm Katie. Katie Bell, you're Bella Swan?"

I nodded, wiping my hand and swallowing before I stuck out my hand to shake hers. "Yes, I am. It's nice to meet you."

"I've seen you around the last few days, but you were always on the go with Granger, so I didn't want to interrupt just to introduce myself." She said nervously, in a babbling sort of way...like I would do.

From what I could tell right off the bat, she was a Gryffindor by the way she dressed, and she was nice. Having those kind eyes looking at me was like having Hermione here.

"Oh, well...glad you caught me now. I probably have seen you, just...I've been seeing new faces all over the place, so..."

"No, I get it, it's fine. I know that you are new, and I just wanted to welcome you to Hogwarts, and of course, Gryffindor House. How are you getting on so far?"

"Well...I was pretty excited, but then I had two classes in a row with Professor Snape..."

"Oh, yeah, that would put anyone in a rotten mood." She giggled. "What other classes do you have today?"

"Um...History of Magic next, then Muggle Studies."

"I love Muggle Studies, it's so fascinating!"

"Not if you lived as one for seventeen years...it is actually quite boring compared to the wizarding world."

"Really? Hm...where are you from originally?"

"Phoenix, Arizona."

"Wow, that's a far ways from here...much different weather as well."

"Yes, but when I moved to Washington, I grew used to the cold and rainy weather. It's much like here in that respect, though it's been really nice here the past few days."

"Enjoy it while it lasts." She continued as I ate my lunch, barely paying attention as I stared into her eyes, that looked remarkably like Hermione's, just darker. "And I know how Hermione can be, so if you ever need a break from her, I'm a tutor, and will be happy to help." She finished.

"Thanks, I appreciate it. But I don't know why everyone gets tired of Hermione...I love spending time with her."

"Well, you've also never been in class with her. She's...for lack of a better descriptive word...a know-it-all/ teacher's pet. Kind of makes the rest of us look bad. That's just her personality, and it annoys people."

"Oh."

"Yeah, no offense of course, she's nice and all."

"She is. I don't know if I'd be so collected if I hadn't of met her." I replied, glancing over to the doors where I saw her striding towards me. "Speak of the devil." I muttered with a smile.

"Hello, Katie." Hermione said as she sat next to her.

"Good afternoon, Granger. Well, I have to run, but it was nice to meet you, Bella. I'll see you around?"

I nodded and watched her take off, meeting with a few of, what I assumed, were her friends, and headed out where Hermione just came from. "She's nice."

Hermione nodded, picking up her fork and stabbed a fry. "How's your day been?"

"Snape sucks, I can tell you that much."

She giggled. "Yeah, he's not very nice. But don't get discouraged, he's pretty much the only teacher that is in a constant bad mood."

After we finished eating, Hermione and I had to go our separate ways, though we thankfully had Muggle Studies together later on, and I couldn't wait to be with a familiar face. But until then, I was on my own, and boy was it a surprise to be greeted by a ghost when I walked into my next class. I still hadn't exactly gotten used to them roaming all around like they were still alive, but it was still quite interesting. Even more so when I learned that this particular ghost was indeed my teacher.

"Welcome, new students, to History of Magic!" The transparent Professor Binns started. "In here you will learn about our history from the very beginning; From the Goblin Rebellions, to the Enslavement of Giants, and every notable event in between. Now, I'm sure you all are itching to get started, so take out your textbooks and turn to the first page of Chapter One."

Opening my bag, I dug out my History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot book, and found where chapter one started on page ten. For the rest of the hour, we were lectured on just the introduction alone, treated with a few funny stories that had been passed down his family, and a tad exaggerated, I guessed. I was more interested than most the people in there, who had taken up sleeping, drawing in a notebook, or passing notes to their friends. I didn't understand how they weren't getting into it like I was.

When the bell rang, we were excused with the homework of reading Section One and defining the underlined vocab words, and outlining the major points of the section. I wrote it down in a notebook so I would remember later, then with a goodbye from the Professor, I exited the class and eagerly headed to Muggle Studies, where I found Hermione in the front row. Wincing at the closeness in proximity to the teacher's desk, I reluctantly joined her with a smile.

"I wish you would have given me a heads up about Binns being, well, dead." I teased.

"Why? it's more fun to find out yourself!" She bumped my elbow.

"Okay then, you could have at least chosen a seat for us that wasn't in the front row. Now I have to look like I'm paying attention more convincingly."

"You should be paying attention anyway, even if you already know about the subject."

"I will...and I was! You should have seen me last class...I was the only one actually listening to Binns' lecture."

"Good, then you will do fine, and the others will pay the price for goofing off."

My response was cut off by the doors shutting rather loudly behind us, making me jump. Two seconds later, whoosh of air went by me, and the Professor came into view, standing at the head of the class, in front of her blackboard. She had bright blonde hair that was pulled back into a tight bun, and her make-up was kind of heavy around the eyes, making her look like a raccoon, and she seemed like she would be an intense person by the way she looked.

"Afternoon class, I am Professor Carrow, and I will be teaching you Muggle Studies. We will study the home life and social habits of Muggles, and how and why they need certain things since they don't have magic. Next week I will assign you an essay, where you will be able to choose one of three topics to write about, and it will be due at the end of the semester, worth a quarter of your grade. And last, every two weeks there will be a quiz on what you've learned. If there are no questions, we should get started."

When no one raised their hand, she instructed us to take out of book, and much like Prof. Binns, turn to Chapter One. She read it aloud, mostly because it was mostly just a more detailed description of what we would be studying, and afterwards our homework as to read Chatper Two and fill out a sheet with questions about what we read. Having fifteen minutes until the bell was supposed to ring, I started on the reading, and a few sentences in, I already knew everything that was trying to be explained. I filled the worksheet out in no time, and handed it into the basket that laid on his desk, gathering curious glances from her and the rest of the students, who some, were still reading.

"You're already done?" Hermione whispered, looking at me with a furrowed brow.

"Yes..." I answered, putting my book away.

She finished just before the bell rang, and we headed back to our dorm. Happily taking off my robe and throwing it over my desk chair, taking my wand out and sticking it in my shoe.

"How much homework do you have?" She asked.

"A little for A History of Magic."

"That's all?"

"Yeah. Snape really just had us take an ungodly amount of notes in both classes, and then, as you know, I finished out Muggle Studies sheet. What about you?"

"Some reading for Herbology, practicing for Transfiguration, worksheet for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and more reading for Ancient Runes."

"Good God, that's a lot."

"Yes, but it's less than my usual work load, actually. It is only the first day and all..."

I was thankful that I had a relatively easy day compared to Hermione. My head would explode from all the work she was given.

"I'm going to head down to the library to do my work, so I'll be there if you need me." She announced.

"Okay, I'll probably be down there later after I finished my homework and write my Mom a letter."

She nodded, slinging her bag back over her shoulder and gave me a small wave. Taking out my notebook and pencil, I flipped my textbook open and read the assigned chapter with ease. Reading about Goblins was so much more attention-grabbing than a normal old war that I had read in my History class back home. It made things easier to remember, the more unique and different they were. After twenty minutes of outlining and defining words that I never heard of before, I stuffed my book away and sat at my desk, letting Casper out of her cage.

Mom,

First day of classes were rather interesting. Not much homework, so I'm already done, and about to join Hermione in the library. Maybe I'll find something cool to read. Apparently they put me in a few classes that are above First Years, probably to see how I'll do, so I hope I do well. Maybe I can catch up faster than I thought...Muggle Studies was a piece of cake today. I'm excited to start Charms, Herbology, and Transfiguration tomorrow, and I hope we get to do more than take notes. Plus, I'm happy that I have Prof. McGonagall, she's very nice from what I've experienced so far. Uh, I guess that's it for now, short, but not much has really happened yet.

Love you,

Bella

P.S. - Has Phil heard back from any of the places that he was interviewed yet?

I folded my letter and tucked it in the small pouch that sat in the corner of the desk, and tied it to Casper's foot. Petting her head gently before I opened the window, I asked her to take it to my Mom, and she flew away with a small coo. Leaving the window open, I walked back down the stairs and into the common room, where I saw a few girls and boys sitting around, working on homework.

Slipping out of the room quietly, as not to disturb them, and trotted down the staircases, jumping off the last one as it started to move, making me run into none other than Katie Bell.

"Oh my!" She yelped as we tumbled to the ground together.

Hitting the floor, hard, we both groaned. When we sat up and rubbed our sore parts, we laughed as soon as we made eye contact.

"I'm so sorry...I should have watched where I was going." I apologized, helping her up.

"It's perfectly fine, Bella. Where, may I ask, are you headed in such a hurry? If you aren't busy, would you like to take a walk with me?" She asked.

"Oh, I was heading to the library, but that can wait."

Hermione really didn't need me as a distraction with all the work she had to do, so I walked with Katie, taking our time as she told me more about Hogwarts. She was like a mix between Hermione and Luna; smart, but with a silly side. But she also was kind of awkward, like me. When heading to another part of the castle, we both stopped in the middle of the bridge and enjoyed the view of the large lake, lit up with rays from the sun.

I hadn't really had moments like this in a long time, where I could just stand back and enjoy something and be glad that I'm here in the moment to experience it. Even after almost dying twice, it still took getting here to get me to realize that life is full of moments where you can just sit back and relax, it just depends on if you take those opportunities, or just let them pass by. And I was not going to do that anymore. I'm not going to sit around and let life pass me by.

"What are you thinking about?" She asked after a few minutes of silence.

"I was promising myself that I wasn't going to let the world pass me by any longer, and that I am going to stop and enjoy beautiful moments like this."

She smiled softly and nodded her head in agreement. "That's a good promise to make."

A splash from the lake made me take my eyes off of her, and my brow creased.

"Probably just the giant octopus...or the mermaids. I've never seen either, but I hear the mermaids are not the nice kind, or the pretty kind."

"Well, that sucks. I've always thought mermaids were beautiful and kind...I hope you are happy for shattering my dreams." I teased.

"Oh yes, I enjoy crushing dreams. I'm a regular old dream crusher."

"You did a good job, my dreams are thoroughly crushed." I smirked, enjoying our stupid banter.

"Maybe one day you will find a beautiful mermaid that is nice...I'm sure they exist somewhere."

"I suppose I can live with that little glimmer of hope."

/-/

"Hey, where have you been?" Hermione asked as I sat down at the large table in the back of the library.

"I ran into Katie Bell, so we hung out for a little bit."

"Oh." She said, almost like she was disappointed.

"Need me to get you anything? I was going to look around anyway."

"Yes, actually. I need a book on counter-curses from the reference section. If they have one by Francis Nicholi, that would be great."

I nodded, heading back down the main aisle, and found the Reference Section without trouble. Fingering the backs of the spines as I went, five minutes later I found the book that Hermione wanted, but it was up on a shelf that I could reach. I contemplated on climbing onto the counter and getting it, but with my luck, I'd fall and break something. Heading back into the main aisle, I walked back near the front to where there was a woman sitting at a desk, who I believed to be the librarian.

"Excuse me," I looked over to the name plate. "Miss Pince; I don't want to intrude, but could you get a book down for me?" I asked politely.

"Oh course, deary."

I lead her back to where the book was and pointed it out. "The Mammoth Book of Counter-Curses by Francis Nicholi, please."

With a swift wave of her wand, the book slowly slid itself out between the ones beside it, and floated down to me, where I caught it. "There you go." She left with a pat on my shoulder.

Making my way back to Hermione, I turned through the pages quickly, not really understanding half of what I scanned through, but since Hermione needed it, I'm sure it was too advanced for me anyway. Closing it with a small thump, I set it next to which earned me a pleased 'thank you', before she opened it and confidently and quickly flipped through page after page until she abruptly stopped when she found what she was looking for.

Not long after, Hermione was done, and we headed to The Great Hall for dinner, where the boys were, plus Neville, Luna, and Katie, who I sat next to. Ginny was down the row, sitting with her new boyfriend Dean, which Harry looked a little jealous of, but hid it pretty well. Neville was talking to Luna about some plant that I have no idea what it is or does, and Hermione was lecturing Ron on the difference between two similar spells, as Harry watched on amused.

Katie and I talked about my adjustment to this new world, which has been pretty smooth so far, and I told her about how excited I was for my new classes the next day. She assured me that the teachers were wonderful, and that I would be just fine; of course, everyone has said that to me at least one since I've been here, but each time I started to believe it a little bit more...and I really hoped that they were all right.

That night after I read my Mom's response letter, I got in bed, but as tuckered out as I was, I still had a hard time relaxing, because of the excitement for the coming day. I was about to get up and ask Hermione if she would knock me out or something, but that's when I finally felt my mind start to shut down, and I was out like a light from exhaustion.


A/N: Anyone interested in being my Beta for this story? PM me and let me know!