The gray-eyed, curly brown-haired first year girl walked down the train, looking uncertainly into every compartment to find somewhere to sit. She hesitated outside one that contained only two boys, one blond and one with brown hair, who looked to be first years too, but decided to keep going in hopes of finding one that was more empty.
She came at last to the end of the train, and she saw a compartment where a very small girl was sitting alone. She was Asian, and her straight black hair had a streak of lime green in it. The girl in the corridor opened the door.
"Do you mind if I sit with you?" she asked tentatively.
"No problem," the Asian girl said. "I'm Jenna Chang. What's your name?"
Soon enough the girls were chatting like old friends. Claire learned that Jenna was an only child and her mum had never married. Jenna learned that Claire came from a family of Hufflepuffs and was expected to carry on the tradition.
The Hogwarts Express pulled into the station, and Jenna and Claire followed the other first years to the boats. They climbed into a boat with a blonde girl who looked unimpressed with their company. The boats headed across the lake and eventually they reached the impressive Hogwarts castle.
The first years climbed out of the boats and were led into a small side chamber. They were greeted by Professor Longbottom, the Deputy Headmaster. He told them to wait there until they were called into the Great Hall to be Sorted.
The students milled about rather awkwardly, since no one really knew each other. Claire was growing nervous. What if she wasn't in Hufflepuff? Her family would be so disappointed. Jenna thought that she would be glad if she even got Sorted at all.
After a few minutes, Professor Longbottom came back and led them into the Great Hall. The Sorting Hat sang a song but Claire was too busy worrying about what House she would be in, not to mention all the students sitting at the House tables and staring at the first years, to pay any attention to it.
When the Hat was finished, Professor Longbottom pulled out a scroll and started calling people to be Sorted.
"Beckett, Molly!" The blonde girl from the boat walked up and put the Hat on her head.
Jenna's name was called after a few more people. The Hat thought for quite a while on her before declaring "SLYTHERIN!"
Too bad, Claire thought as Patrick Chase became the first new Gryffindor, I was hoping Jenna and I would be in the same House.
She watched as Nathaniel Goldstein, the brown haired boy from the train, was Sorted into Ravenclaw. In what seemed like no time at all, she heard her name.
She walked up to the front, feeling everyone watching her. She sat on the stool and felt the Hat placed on her head. Suddenly, she heard a little voice in her ear.
"Claire MacMillan. I know your family. Hufflepuffs, aren't they? And you want to follow in their footsteps, make them proud. But I'm not sure Hufflepuff is the right choice for you." Claire's heart was pounding. What did it mean, Hufflepuff wasn't the right choice? "I know you think I'm wrong, but I know you better than you know yourself. Trust me. I do see loyalty there, but even more predominant is your courage. Quiet courage, yes, but there are many different kinds. So I think you belong in GRYFFINDOR!"
Claire knew the last word had been shouted to the whole room, and she made her way to the Gryffindor table, shocked. She tried to process the information while staring unseeingly at Scorpius Malfoy, who joined Jenna at the Slytherin table. Next was Andrew McRae, the blond boy from the train, who was put into Hufflepuff. Shebelonged in Hufflepuff, too, not over here. She wasn't brave.
And she was still deep in thought when Rose Weasley was Sorted into Ravenclaw, and the Sorting Ceremony was over.
"Molly? Molly Beckett? Nice?We are talking about the same person, Claire, aren't we?"
Claire looked at Rose and Jenna's disbelieving faces. "No, I swear, she really is! Have you ever actually talked to her?"
"No," said Rose. "The 'I'm so much better than you' attitude and 'don't look at me like that you freak' expression on her face are both pretty good turn-offs." Jenna nodded in agreement.
"Well, that's what I thought, too," said Claire, "so when Professor Longbottom put us together for that Venomous Tentacula assignment, I was thinking 'kill me now.' But then I actually talked to her, and she's really nice! We got on really well, and now she always waves at me and smiles in the corridor, and things like that. I mean, you two are so judgmental! Can't you just give her a chance?"
The other two exchanged a glance. "I don't really think I'm cool enough for her," Jenna said rather disparagingly.
"Me neither," said Rose.
Claire rolled her eyes. "That's ridiculous, and you know it. You two are definitely cooler than me, and she talks to me fine. Come on, please? For me?"
It was so rare that Claire ever wanted things that Jenna gave in. "Well, all right."
Claire beamed. "Thank you! Rose?"
Rose sighed. "I suppose so."
"You're brilliant! You won't regret it!"
And indeed they didn't. Molly Beckett proved to be a very nice, funny girl, and Rose and Jenna were quite glad they allowed her to become the fourth member of their trio.
Molly Beckett turned around hopefully, then slumped when she saw who it was. "Oh, hi Nathaniel." Out of all the boys in Hogwarts, why did Nathaniel Goldstein have to follow her around? Why couldn't it be Callum Finnigan, or Michael Zabini? Or someone else of their caliber. Even Albus Potter wasn't as big of a nerd as Nathaniel Goldstein.
"I was wondering if maybe you changed your mind about Hogsmeade?" Nathaniel said in a rush. He immediately turned bright red, which didn't flatter him at all.
Molly sighed. "No, Nathaniel, my answer is still the same as last time. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time—"
"Okay, I get it," Nathaniel said, looking more angry than embarrassed now. "Has anyone ever told you how contemptible you are?" And he stalked off.
"What does that even mean?" Molly yelled after him. She turned to her friends. "Rose?"
"Deserving contempt; despicable. In other words, mean."
"Oh. Well, that's creative!" Molly said, rolling her eyes.
"You werea bit harsh, though," Claire said timidly. "Don't you think you should have, you know, let him down a little more gently?"
"I tried that the first four hundred times and it clearly didn't work, so I figured this time I might as well be as clear as I could."
"I do agree with Claire," said Jenna, "but I have to admit it was kind of funny. But anyway, you can't go with him because you're coming with us!"
"Well, actually," Molly said uncomfortably, "I was going to go with Carla Vane and her friends."
Rose's eyebrows shot up abnormally far, but with good reason: Carla Vane and her friends were the popular crowd: the vicious, contemptiblegroup of the third year. "But it's the first Hogsmeade trip ever! I thought all four of us were going to go together."
"I know, and I'm sorry," said Molly, and she seemed sincere, "but it is kind of a big deal to get invited somewhere by Carla. I'll go with you lot next time, I promise."
"Oh, that's fine. Just have fun!" Claire said, but Molly was met with stony looks from the other two. She mumbled something about Transfiguration homework and hurried off.
The other three stared at Molly's retreating back. "Definitely a loyal Hufflepuff," Jenna observed.
A quill fell to the floor beside Claire, barely making a sound. "Hey, Claire, could you hand me that quill? I just dropped it."
Claire turned slightly pink, as she always did when she was addressed by Patrick Chase. "Sure," she said, barely audible. She picked it up and handed it to him, jumping slightly when their hands touched.
He smiled his killer smile at her. "Thanks." He went back to taking notes, running his hand through his red hair.
Claire sighed. She'd had a crush on Patrick for almost a year now, and doubted she'd ever love anyone else, which her friends assured her was a ridiculous thing to think. But after all this time, none of the feelings she had when he was nearby showed any sign of stopping. How could she get over him anytime soon?
The bell rang to signal break, and she went out to the courtyard to meet Jenna, Rose, and Molly.
"What's the matter?" asked Molly, for Claire was quiet and thoughtful. "Is it Patrick?" Claire nodded. "What happened?"
"He dropped his quill and I picked it up for him, and he smiled at me."
A year ago, the other three would have said something like "And you got all worked up over something as simple as that?" Now, however, they knew that for shy Claire, even the smallest interaction was a big deal.
"He smiled at you?" Jenna said interestedly. "You know, I think he might like you."
"No way," scoffed Claire. "Who's ever heard of a Quidditch player falling for the quiet bookworm in the back of the classroom?"
"I certainly haven't," Rose said rather tactlessly. Realizing her mistake, she quickly added, "But there's always a first time. Besides, Albus says he talks about how smart you are all the time." This was actually true.
"I've never heard him say that," Claire said.
"Well, of course not!" said Molly. "Boys don't compliment girls to their faces." The other two nodded vigorously, though they weren't quite sure that was true. "What you've got to do, Claire, is talk to him."
"Just say hi once in a while! Or even just smile when he walks by in the corridor!"
"I've told you millions of times, I've tried to do that, but I just can't!"
"Are you a Gryffindor or not?"
"Definitely not. I've no idea what the Hat was thinking. Quiet strength, indeed!"
The other three didn't much understand the extreme introvertedness of their friend, but they knew enough that it was pointless to argue with her when she was in one of these moods.
"Fine," said Rose. "But you can at least talk to him when he initiates the conversation, right?"
"Then just stick to that, and before you know it you guys will be friends!"
"I doubt it, but all right."
Luckily, the bell rang just then, putting an end to the pointless conversation.
Jenna walked into Slughorn's office for her career advice session.
"Ah, Miss Chang! How are you?"
"Fine, sir. And you?"
"Excellent, excellent. Let's get started, then! Have you any idea what you want to do outside of Hogwarts?"
Jenna had thought about this a lot recently, what with all the pamphlets lying around the Slytherin Common Room. But her answer was always the same. "No."
"An Auror, perhaps? Or a Healer?"
Jenna shrugged, pushing a strand of green hair out of her face. She had started with one green streak in her first year and added more and more over time, so now her hair was entirely green, to the chagrin of her mother. "I don't know."
"Law Enforcement? Department of Mysteries? Quidditch?"
"I don't play Quidditch, sir."
Slughorn was getting frustrated. "International relations? Games and Sports Department? Professor?"
"I don't know."
"What are your interests, then?"
"Er…I like to listen to music."
"I don't know."
Slughorn threw up his hands. "Jenna, Jenna, Jenna! Help me out here!"
"I don't know what to do!" Now Jenna was getting frustrated. "I have no ambition! I don't know why I'm in Slytherin!" The feeling that she didn't belong in her house was one of the things that could work Jenna up enough to show much emotion.
"Now, now, don't say that," Slughorn said reprovingly, all irritation gone. "The Hat had its reasons, and I'm sure you will discover them in time. Now back to the matter at hand. If you could only pick five classes to continue next year, what would they be?"
Jenna thought a moment. "Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Muggle Studies, I suppose."
"Well, then, aim to get O.W.L.s in those five areas so you can take all those classes next year. I'd say you'd be well-rounded enough that there would be plenty of options for you once you leave Hogwarts, if you take those classes."
"All right. I'll do that, sir."
"Good, good. You may go."
Jenna thanked him and left. She walked down corridors until she reached the Muggle Studies classroom. She was annoyed that she'd missed half of it for that waste of time otherwise known as a meeting. Muggle Studies was one of her favorite classes; she found Muggles to be fascinating.
Jenna sat down in her usual seat next to Andrew McRae. None of her friends took Muggle studies—Molly was Muggleborn, and both Rose and Claire had a set of grandparents that were Muggles—so Jenna had gotten to know Andrew pretty well over the past few years.
"How did it go?" he whispered.
"Miserable. Slughorn kept asking me over and over again, "What do you want? What do you want?" and then got upset when I said I didn't know. Next year I'm going to take a bunch of core classes that should make me 'well-rounded enough that there would be plenty of options for me once I leave Hogwarts.'
Andrew chuckled. "You're not dropping Muggle Studies, I hope?"
"Of course not!"
"Good, I'd miss you. There aren't many other times a Hufflepuff like me can talk to a Slytherin like you. And you're probably the first Slytherin ever to take Muggle Studies!"
"Rose, you should be studying! There's a reason sixth years have breaks, you know."
Rose opened her eyes to glare at her cousin Molly. "Don't tell me what to do, you're younger than me! Besides, I don't want to study. If I'd had it my way, I wouldn't even be here right now. Pity Mum wouldn't let me drop out."
"Rose!" Molly reprimanded. "Don't talk like that! What do you hope to do with your life without a full education, exactly?"
"Have fun!" Rose declared.
Molly gave her up as a lost cause and went back to her homework.
Rose looked around at all the other students hard at work, and she admitted to herself that she often felt out of place in the Ravenclaw common room. Everyone was so serious and so scholarlyall the time. She was glad she wasn't in Gryffindor with all her cousins breathing down her neck and ruining her fun, or in Hufflepuff with all the goody two-shoes, but she was often envious of Jenna in Slytherin. She heard they threw some pretty wild parties.
Feeling uncomfortable in the quiet, studious atmosphere of the room, Rose stood up and went outside. She wandered the corridor, not exactly having a destination in mind, when she ran smack into someone.
"Watch it, Weasley." It was Scorpius Malfoy.
"Oh, don't play those games with me," Rose scoffed at him. "I know you don't hate me anymore. Why don't you just admit it?"
He grinned. "How did you know? One day last year I said to myself, why do you hate Rose? What's she ever done to you personally? And I didn't have an answer, so that was the end of that. I do my best to keep up appearances, though. Very shrewd of you to figure it out. But what else would I expect from the Ravenclaw daughter of Hermione Granger?"
Rose frowned. "If I belonged in Ravenclaw I'd be in their common room studying, not wandering around out here, and I am nothinglike my mum."
"I know," Scorpius laughed. "I just like seeing you get all worked up. It's rather amusing."
"Oh, go away," Rose grumbled. "I'm not in a mood for you right now." And she stalked off, Scorpius's laugh echoing in her ears.
I've had the idea for this story for a while and I'm excited to start writing it! It'll be about ten chapters in total. Hope you like it!