Lily Black looked up at the sign for Platform 9, shouldering her backpack with a sigh. People rushed around her, bustling to get to their trains. King's cross was busy, filled with both muggle and magical families trying to get to their destinations on that day, September the first.
Lily attempted to push her cart carrying her Hogwarts trunk and owl cage closer to the barrier, but the wheels jarred, sliding the cart sideways and almost knocking over the thin eleven year old. She held on to the cart tightly and managed to keep it from capsizing.
For eleven years, Lily was moderately tall with flaming red hair tumbling down her back. As she took another look up at the signpost, her cerulean blue eyes flashed gently, then switched to a light green.
Aside from being a witch, Lily Black could also change her appearance as she pleased and morph into animals at will. A very rare talent called Animorphamagia. Only a handful of people in history had the talent. Artie down in the records department of the ministry of magic assured her that she was the only one this century.
Lily prepared to run through the barrier, but stopped when a plump woman followed by a gaggle of red-haired children intercepted her.
"It's the same every year, packed with muggles. Come on, platform nine and three quarters this way!" The woman said loudly, not caring if any muggles in the vicinity could hear her. A black-hair boy crept up to join their throng at the barrier. Lily watched interestedly as the woman counted off her children, seven in all.
"Come on Percy, you first." The woman said. The oldest of her brood ran at the platform, disappearing into the stone. The woman was about to send her next child in when the black boy at the end interceded.
"Excuse me?" He asked shyly. "Can you tell me how to get on to the platform?" The woman beamed.
"First time, dearie? It's Ron's first time at Hogwarts as well. We'll show you. Fred, you next" The woman waved her hand at a pair of twins. One stepped forwards.
"He's not Fred, I am!" The boy grinned mischeviously.
"Oh, sorry George." His mother replied, making shooing motions.
"And you call yourself our mother!" The other twin said, matching his brother's mischevious grin.
"I'm only joking, I am Fred!" The twin said over his shoulder as he began to run at the stone wall, laughing all the while. His brother followed, leaving only one other red haired son, the mother, the little ginger-haired girl and the black haired boy with glasses. Lily looked closer at the latter.
Could it be? The black haired boy adjusted his bent spectacles, ruffling his hair. Lily caught sight of the boy's trunk, which had his initials blocked on. HJP.
Harry James Potter. Blimey, Fudge hadn't told her that she'd be in the same year as the famous Harry Potter.
Her green eyes flashed back to blue, and she watched like a hawk as the red haired woman told Harry Potter how to get on the platform. Of course he didn't know how, he had been in hiding all these years.
"Oh, I'm sorry dearie! Are we holding you up?" The kindly woman's voice cut through Lily's thoughts. Lily shook her head, still hanging back.
"Why don't you go, I'm sure you've been waiting." Lily gave the woman a smile, pulling her cart into position. Heart thudding, she looked quickly over her shoulder to see Harry Potter and the red-haired boy smiling encouragingly at her.
Lily closed her eyes and started at a small jog, pushing through the platform while holding her breath. Not feeling cold stone against her face, she opened her eyes to see the hustle and bustle of another train platform, a scarlet train belching steam over the crowds.
"Look Andromeda." She whispered, leaning forwards to talk to her owl; a large snowy who was looking around at everything. Now that she thought about it, Lily had seen another snowy owl with the Potter boy. They were rare, and there had only been two at Diagon Alley when she had been there getting school supplies. Potter must have gotten the other one.
With a pang of longing, Lily looked at all the parents hugging their children goodbye. She didn't have anyone, just a ride from the ministry and a letter from Cornelius Fudge in case she got into trouble.
Lily boarded the scarlet train, handing off her trunk to one of the porters and taking her backpack and Andromeda's cage with her. She found an empty compartment easily and settled down to wait, nervous excitement tingling in her palms.
Soon enough, the Hogwarts Express began to pull away, leaving the waving and cheering parents behind. After a moment, they pulled out of the city completely, and all you could see were the rolling hills of the English countryside.
Lily reached in her backpack and pulled out her Ipod, specially charmed to work even in areas like Hogwarts that were supposed to shut down any electronical devices. She had discovered the spell to make electronics work in an old book at the ministry, where she had been for most of her life.
All Lily could remember of her past was being brought up at the ministry itself; she was raised in a small apartment near to Fudge's own. The reason for this was unknown even to her. She always equated it to her family history, which she'd looked up in the department of records, and her abilities as both a witch and an Animorphamagus.
She was allowed free reign once she was old enough, and got to roam about the ministry as long as she didn't cause trouble. The workers there grew used to seeing her small shape-shifting form and took it upon themselves to teach her things about the magical world.
She'd been using magic as long as she could remember. Artie down in records had found a bag of her family's artifacts and given them to her when she was seven. That included a small gold locket, a silver mirror, and a wand. Her mother's wand. She'd used it to practice small safe spells from that day on.
Being in the ministry wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to her, but Lily had grown restless. She wanted to see the world. The happiest moment of her life was when the letter from Hogwarts had come on her eleventh birthday. Now she was out in the world where she could meet people her own age.
Absentmindedly, she flipped songs on her iPod and scratched her arm, rolling up her sleeve to look at her tattoo. About midway down her pale forearm was a tattoo of a skull with a snake intertwined around it. In the midday sun, the tattoo pulsed.
The compartment door rattled open and Lily quickly shifted her arm color so the skin was pale and white. The tattoo was gone. She looked up. Harry Potter was framed in the doorway.
"Hello." He said, eyes fixed on her arm.
"Morning." She said nervously. "Have a seat."
"Thanks." Harry sat down across from her and set his owl's cage on the seat next to him. He looked up and flushed as he met Lily's solid gaze.
"I'm Harry... Harry Potter." He said, flushing a little more.
"Lily Black." She replied, smiling a little.
"I saw you on the platform." Harry continued. Lily nodded. Her eyes drifted out the window at the green fields rolling by.
"You know...You're the first person who hasn't gaped at me or lost their train of thought when I walk into a room." Harry said after a minute.
Lily's eyes flicked to his.
"Because I know how hard it is to be you." She replied.
"Oh." Harry said, confused by her answer.
The compartment door banged open, revealing the youngest red-head boy from the platform.
"Everywhere else is completely full up, do you two mind?" He asked timidly. Lily and Harry shook their heads. Lily scooted over and accepted Hedwig's cage from Harry, setting the owl down next to her own. Ron gratefully took the open seat next to Harry.
"I'm Ron Weasley, and this is Scabbers." The redhead said, holding up a cage with a very fat rat inside.
"I'm Lily Black, and this is Andromeda" Lily replied, gesturing to where Andromeda was sleeping.
"Harry Potter, and Hedwig" Harry said, holding out his hand for Ron to shake. Ron's eyes went wide.
"I-I didn't know, back on the platform that you were... Wow. Do you really have the-the-the scar?" Ron said, words tumbling out in a rush.
Harry grinned and pulled back his tousled black hair to reveal a lightning bolt scar. Lily's eyebrows raised, Ron's jaw dropped.
They fell into comfortable silence, every once in a while exchanging a joke or story.
After a while a trolley came along, bringing sweets and pumpkin juice. Lily got some Drooble's blowing gum and a chocolate frog with the money left over from her school supplies. Harry got a whole stash of sweets, and Ron tossed his corned beef sandwich back into his bag. They swapped food and joked some more, taking turns nibbling Bertie Bott's every flavor beans.
Then, the compartment door banged open again, revealing a bossy-looking brown haired girl their age.
"Have either of you three seen a toad? A boy named Neville's lost one." The three shook their heads. Lily offered her chocolate frog, which made the girl frown. Then she caught sight of Harry.
"Holy cricket! You're Harry Potter! I'm Hermione Granger, I've read about you in a bunch of books! Who are all you?" Harry flushed from head to toe.
"Ron Weasley." Ron mumbled through a mouthful of licorice.
"Lily Black." Lily said, holding back from rolling her eyes. Hermione proceeded to flit around their compartment, talking incessantly about spellwork and how Ron had dirt on his nose. Finally, she left, leaving the three in peace. They could still hear her bossy voice down the hall.
"Blimey" Ron said. "That's one high-strung first year, mates"
The three talked for a while as the sky outside their window turned from blue to orange then inky black. Lily shared her iPod with them, playing some oldies music. Ron was completely mystified. Harry was familiar, saying that his spoiled cousin had gotten one for his birthday, and had already broken it.
They changed into their robes when the conductor yelled that they had an hour 'till Hogwarts, then waited in nervous anticipation until the train stopped and they could disembark.
Lily filed out behind Ron and Harry, shivering slightly when they got onto the chilly platform. They dropped their pets and bags where directed, and then stood around, confused on where to go.
"Firs' years, this way!" A giant man yelled, motioning them over to him. Lily's eyes widened, but refrained from staring. Ron didn't, jaw dropping.
"Hi Hagrid!" Harry called with a wave. He seemed to know the giant.
All the first years, Ron, Harry and Lily included, were led down to the edge of a lake by Hagrid, who directed them to get into a fleet of small wooden boats.
Lily sat next to Harry, holding a lantern and stifling a shiver. Harry scooted closer when she quaked a little with the chill coming off the lake. She flashed him a grateful look.
At a word from Hagrid, the boats took off across the lake, sailing across the expanse of inky blackness with ease.
They sailed for a few minutes, then rounded a bend and saw the most amazing sight Lily had ever seen. Across the dark lake, a castle stood up on the rocks, lights spilling out from every window.
All her life, Lily would never forget the sight.
She was overwhelmed with a sense of belonging...
She was coming home.
At the boathouse on the other side of the lake, they exited the boats quickly and walked up a staircase to the main courtyard. At the end were a set of giant wood doors.
Hagrid opened them, and bade them to stay in the large entrance hall. Then, a severe looking woman entered, looking at them over her small spectacles.
"Good evening. In a few moments you will pass through these doors and be sorted into your houses."
She took out a scroll from her long sleeve.
"Now while you are here, your house will be like your home. Good deeds will be rewarded with house points, and any rule-breaking will lose you points." She looked around at the first years.
"Trevor!" A boy yelled, picking up a toad that had hopped onto the top stair by the professor's feet. She pursed her lips.
"Sorry M'um" He stepped back.
"I am Professor McGonagall, deputy head mistress and head of Gryffindor House. Gryffindor is just one of the noble Hogwarts houses. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Please wait a moment while Headmaster Dumbledore gives his speech to the returning students"
And with that, she left.
It was silent for a couple seconds, then a pale boy stepped out and sneered at Harry.
"So it's true. What they were saying on the train. Harry Potter has come to Hogwarts."
Harry glared. Lily pressed her fingertips into his elbow, warning him to keep still.
"The name's Malfoy." The boy continued. "Draco Malfoy." Ron snorted.
"You think my name's funny, do you? No need to ask yours. Red hair, and a hand-me-down robe. You must be a Weasley."
Lily took a brave step forward, standing on the same level as Malfoy and looking him in the eye.
"Leave him alone Malfoy."
At first, Malfoy's expression was unreadable, then he sneered.
Lily took another step towards him.
"Lily Black, you'd do well to remember."
Malfoy's face turned into one of fear, he leaned closer.
"Black?" He whispered.
Lily nodded, smirking. Malfoy took a step back, then turned to Harry.
"You'd do well you watch who you befriend, Potter. Ministry brats aren't to be trusted." With that, he stepped back into a throng of motley looking boys.
Harry and Ron looked at Lily questioningly, but she ignored them.
Professor McGonagall returned, looking down on them all.
"We're ready for you."
As soon as Lily walked through the golden doors, her jaw dropped.
The ceiling, obviously bewitched, was made to look like the night sky, covered in millions of stars. Hanging in air were thousand of lit candles, and four huge tables laid with gold placing took up the floor space. Behind her, Lily could hear Hermione talking to the girl next to her about how they enchanted the ceiling.
Professor McGonagall led them through the hall then stopped at the end, where all the teachers sat. In the middle was a silver-haired old man with a long beard and even longer hair.
His electric blue eyes looked directly into hers, and Lily took an involuntary step back, tromping on Ron's foot. The headmaster smiled, then looked to Lily's right, at Harry. Lily gave a sigh of relief.
On the small stage space in front of the staff table, there was a stool with an old ragged hat sitting on it.
"Now, when I call your name, you will advance to the stool, place the sorting hat on your head, and be sorted into your house."
She then proceeded to take out her scroll and read off it, for some reason reading in backwards alphabetical order. Lily sighed in anticipation as she realized she would be near last.
Ron went into Gryffindor, receiving loud cheers form his brothers. Lily clapped as well, secretly hoping she would end up there too. Malfoy was sorted into Slytherin before the hat even had a chance to rest on his head, to no one's surprise.
Harry stepped up, and the sorting hat took a very long time time deciding. Then finally:
Now Lily really hoped for Gryffindor. Her mother had been a Gryffindor, she'd read it in what wasn't redacted in her family file. Professor McGonagall went through the list until Lily was the last one standing. Anxious, Lily's eyes flashed from purple to blue to green very quickly.
The hall was dead silent. Slowly, Lily stepped up and sat on the spindly stool, and watched as the hat was set on her head, falling over her eyes.
"Hmm..." She heard in her ear. "Difficult choice. One parent from Slytherin, one from Gryffindor." Lily felt like a block of ice had dropped into her stomach. Her father was from Slytherin? There had been nothing about him in the file. She could hear whispers from the crowd of students.
"Not Slytherin...' she thought. 'I want to be like my mother..."
"Not Slytherin, Eh?" The hat whispered in her ear. "Odd choice given your lineage and character. Lots of courage, a thirst to prove, but what's this? A hidden destiny?"
'Not Slytherin, please. I want to be a Gryffindor.'
"Alright, alright. Better be..."