I looked quizzically at the wall in front of me. This plain, brick wall was the entrance to Platform 9 ¾? I must admit, I'd been hoping for something a bit more impressive.
"Go on Betony! Hurry up through or you'll miss the train! Don't be scared honey."
I rolled my eyes. My mother evidently thought that I had stopped in front of the wall because I was afraid of passing through it. Obviously my mother did not know me well at all; after all, I wasn't like my father. My father was a muggle, and although he was supportive of our magic, it frightened him. It scared him so much that he was unable to come through the platform wall himself, hence the reason why I still hadn't gone through even though the train was about to depart: my parents had insisted on spending every last possible moment with me before I headed off for my first year at Hogwarts.
Ignoring my parents calling goodbye to me, I walked towards the wall as calmly as you like, pushing my trolley cart with me. On the other side of the wall, I must admit I was a bit stunned by the sight. The Hogwarts Express stood in the middle of the station in all its red-and-black grandeur. Tons of kids swarmed about, hugging their parents and clambering aboard, rushing so they were not left behind.
"Thank God Betony, you made it!" I glanced up to see my brother Rick leaning out of a window. "Come on, get onto the train!"
"I'm coming!" Grabbing my luggage from the trolley, I struggled to lift all of my things. Finally I was able to get a manageable grip on everything, and I stumbled up the stairs onto the train. Pulling my things through the aisle, I regrettably discovered that every booth was taken. Beginning to despair that I wouldn't find anywhere to sit, I finally came upon a compartment that was practically empty. The only person there was a boy with blonde hair and a dreamy expression. He looked as if he could be in his six or seventh year at Hogwarts.
I knocked on the glass door, but he seemed to not hear me. A bit annoyed, I pushed the doors open and sat down anyways. When he still didn't respond to me at all I stuck out my hand and said,
"I'm Betony Griffith. What's your name?" Upon hearing me speak the boy's head jerked up. About time, I thought grudgingly.
"Xenophilius Lovegood. Glad to meet you."
"That's a very unique name. I like it very much," I said politely.
"Yes, quite." With that he turned and continued staring out the window.
Feeling a bit miffed once more, I turned away and lifted my luggage onto the overhead shelf of the compartment. Because the weight was a bit much for me, it was quite a struggle to do so, and it only annoyed me further that this tall boy was not offering to help me at all.
As I had nothing to do, I sat there tapping my fingers and staring out the window like Xenophilius was. I failed to see what he found so interesting, and after a few minutes passed I began to feel extremely bored. I turned once more to Xenophilius and asked,
"What year are you in?" Xenophilius remained unmoving.
"6th year... " I nodded my head at his reply. When he said no more I questioned,
"Which house are you in?" Xenophilius turned his head toward me.
"Why are you so interested? Usually people avoid me or make fun of me and steal my things."
I was rather taken aback by Xenophilius' blatant honesty, and I found myself redden a bit. Despite how that may sound, I actually loved his straightforward, no-nonsense attitude.
Perhaps I judged him too quickly... I thought guiltily.
"I'm not going to make fun of you," I assured him. "I was merely curious you see. I'm a first-year student at Hogwarts and I don't know anyone here other than my brothers."
"Ah. That's nice. Well, I am in Ravenclaw. 'Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure!' Wouldn't you agree?" I nodded my head.
"My two brothers Rick and Sam are both in Ravenclaw as well. Do you know Rick? He's in the 6th year like you. Sam is in his 4th year."
"Yes, I believe I know them. They are usually nice to me; they don't laugh when people jinx me or hide my things. Will you be in Ravenclaw as well?" I opened my mouth to respond, but promptly stopped when Xenophilius narrowed his eyes and clenched his fist on the air over my head. I frowned.
"What was that about?"
"Stinking crehmlos! It escaped! Oh well..." Xenophilius looked disappointed.
"What's a creamloes?" I asked, the confusion evident in my voice.
"A crehmlos is a miniature goblin that flies around giving people bad luck. I've been wanting to study one for years. There was one flying... just there, above your head," he explained, waving his hands vaguely about my face. "I would watch out for heavy objects for a while if I were you."
The rest of the train ride went like this. At one time a woman came along pushing a trolley full of treats and pastries. I bought two chocolate frogs and a box of Bertie Botts' Every Flavored Beans. When I offered some to Xenophilius I learned that he did not like sweets. I made mental note of that, just in case. Eventually the train came to a halt and everyone filed off.
I called goodbye to Xenophilius as he started to walk away without a word. He turned back towards me, rather surprised, but he nodded at me and gave me a small smile.
Feeling rather proud of myself, I looked all around me at the crazy mess going on.
Shouldn't there be some sort of adult in charge here? I criticized silently.
"First-years to me! Over here you lot. All first-years this way!"
Ah, good, I thought in satisfaction.
I shoved my way to the booming voice and my jaw dropped at the sight. The man standing there was the tallest and shaggiest person I had ever seen.
Not exactly what I had in mind...
A flood of young students finally made their way over to him while the older students went off to the carriages waiting nearby.
"Alright, come on now you bunch. Off to the boats we go!" the large man cried out.
A short time later, the crowd of first-years all stood nervously in front of the entrance to the Great Hall. Kids whispered amongst themselves about the four different houses, and all the gossip they had learned from their siblings about the teachers. I did not speak to anyone, preferring to simply wait quietly. Soon we were greeted by a young witch, perhaps thirty years of age. She was rather friendly and she introduced herself as Professor McGonagall.
"Now, it is time for you all to be sorted into your Houses," she announced grandly. "There are four Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each is as worthy as the rest, so do not let anyone tell you otherwise. The Sorting Hat will sort each of you into the most appropriate House, and then we shall begin the feast. Any questions?"
A small hand quickly shot into the air. Everyone turned to look at the boy as Professor McGonagall smiled accommodatingly.
"Yes young man?"
"What house were you in?"
"I was in Gryffindor house," she answered.
"Bummer," he grumbled loudly. "I'd been hoping to be in Gryffindor, but now I'm not so sure." Most of the group laughed loudly, and the boys standing with the one who'd spoken patted their friend on the back in amusement. The smart-mouth smirked, playing around with his friends.
Professor McGonagall's face flushed at the comment.
"I will ask that you please have some manners Mr. ...?"
"Black," he shouted out. "Sirius Black."
"Well then, Mr. Black... That sort of insolence will not be tolerated here at Hogwarts. That is a perfect example of a reason that a professor will take points away from your House due to your behavior. Now, unless you want to be the reason that your House loses the House Cup, I suggest you learn to act politely."
Turning around with a huff, Professor McGonagall did not notice as the boy Sirius stuck his tongue out at her, but she could certainly hear his friends begin to chortle once more. From where I was standing I could see McGonagall's face getting even brighter red, but I didn't really care. If she chose to become a teacher, she ought to be able to handle herself against a few dumb boys.
Stepping into the Great Hall for the first time was an incredible experience. Each and every one of us was dumbstruck, looking around, trying to absorb the magnificence of the room we stood in. The ceiling high above was a lovely violet-black color, with lights like stars, just like the real night sky.
Together we all approached the stool at the other end of the room. Upon the stool sat a raggedy brown hat.
"Lame... what's that?... Unimpressive..." I heard other first-years whisper around me.
Muggleborns, I thought with a hint of scorn. It brought me great pleasure when the lot of them gasped in shock when the Hat began to sing.
Many many moons ago,
When I was very young,
Sour notes did wreck the song
Of harmony that once was sung.
The Founders of the Hogwarts school
No longer got along,
For in the midst of students there,
They felt that few belonged.
Gryffindor said, "Do as you please,
But give me all the best.
The students that are brave and loyal:
You keep all the rest."
Slytherin said, "I'll take but few,
The top students, I assure.
I want those with fierce ambition
And those with blood that's pure."
Hufflepuff said, "You are too cruel;
Take all who want to learn.
The students that work very hard,
Their place here, they shall earn."
Ravenclaw said, "You are too soft,
I say those with brains can stay.
The wisest ones achieve the most;
The others must go away."
Hogwarts has grown older now,
This poor, sad Hat aged too.
But I sit here to this very day,
To Sort through all of you.
You may look at me, and see not much,
But you know not what you see.
For I am the spellwork of the Founders,
Whose majesty you cannot conceive.
So trust in me, I'll do you right,
I've never done wrong before.
I'll tell you where you need to go,
Of that you can be sure.
Will it be Gryffindor that calls you in,
The House for the brave and true?
Or perhaps your talents lie somewhere else,
And cunning Slytherin is better suited to you.
Or indeed it could be Hufflepuff
That sings to your spirit instead
If kindness, strength and loyalty
Are what reside there in your head.
If you've been left out, do not despair!
Look inside your heart.
Prepare for Ravenclaw if what you find
Is that you are studious and smart.
The momentous day has finally come,
The night you are Sorted is here.
If you do not know where you stand,
The moment of truth shall now appear.
Do not tremble; have no fear,
Your fate is safe in the palm of my hand.
But as I am a Hat, I speak
Metaphorically you understand.
As the Sorting Hat drifted off on its last few notes, the Great Hall erupted in cheers.
"Blimey! That was better than last year!"
"You think so?"
"Bloody brilliant that Hat is..."
"Sad life it must be to be a Hat."
I heard a chorus of comments from all around me, but soon everyone was quieted by McGonagall. Pulling out a scroll, McGonagall began to read from the list of names. My attention wandered until I heard one very specific name.
Sirius' new buddies hooted and hollered as Sirius jogged up to the stool, grinning out at everyone. The Hat rested on his head for a moment. I watched as the smile slowly flickered off of Sirius' face.
Just what is the Hat saying to him? I wondered. But then a huge smile broke out across Sirius' face just before the Hat shouted:
Sirius let out a whoop and jumped from the stool, running quickly over to the Gryffindor table as they applauded him. I rolled my eyes disapprovingly at his obnoxious behavior. I quickly zoned out again until I heard my own name being called:
Coolly I strolled up to the stool and took my seat gently. As I looked out over the Hall, I heard a breakout of excited and nervous whispers.
Oh blast it, I thought in aggravation. Because Xenophilius was so strange, I forgot how normal people always react to my eyes.
It's true. My eyes are naturally a bright, vivid purple color. The muggles around home always seemed to be getting freaked out by them, but I rarely met new people so I hadn't thought about it much. Now at Hogwarts it seemed that I would have to deal with the shock tenfold.
'Hmmm, you are an interesting one Betony...' said the Sorting Hat.
'How do you figure?' I thought back at it.
'You have a fiery soul yes, quite unlike the rest of your family, am I correct? Your mother I placed in Hufflepuff and your brothers in Ravenclaw. Your spirit is not calm like theirs, oh no, much too feisty. Your soul is also somewhat dark.'
'Is there anything wrong with that?' I asked, unsure whether I should feel nervous or insulted.
'Not at all, no. I am just very interested in you. You certainly are tricky... You might flourish in Gryffindor, yes indeed. You will find many there who are like you. But perhaps Slytherin would be a better choice. In Slytherin you will blossom where you could not in Gryffindor."
I kept silent, my heart beating nervously. What would my mother think if I were put in Slytherin? Lord, she might just die of shame.
As soon as I thought that, I scoffed at the idea. My mother was a big girl, she could handle herself. It would be funny though, to see just how much it bothered her. Maybe she would finally leave me alone.
'Do it then,' I said decisively. 'Put me in Slytherin.'
'As you wish...'
"Slytherin!" the booming voice proclaimed. Smiling, I strolled over to the Slytherin table, barely restraining my laughter when I caught sight of my poor stricken brothers. What priceless expressions. Ah well, they would adjust.
The next day, I sat in my first class of the day, Transfiguration. I was actually somewhat glad to learn that McGonagall was my Professor. Although it was true that she needed to be a bit less bothered by stupid things, I did like her well enough.
The class was comprised of both the Slytherin and Ravenclaw houses. Most of the other Slytherin students immediately clumped together, but I chose to sit off by myself. To my surprise, a Ravenclaw girl plopped down right beside me, sending me a friendly dimpled smile. The girl had very blonde, wavy hair, and large, round brown eyes. I looked at her expressionless for a moment, unsure if I wanted to respond. Before I got the chance to decide, a boy from Ravenclaw rushed over to her, looking concerned. He tapped her shoulder anxiously and she turned to him.
"Watch it! She'll put a curse on you!" he hissed, looking nervously over at me.
"What, are you accusing her of medieval witchcraft or something? Because of her eyes?"
"Well yeah, I mean that just ain't natural-"
The boy was cut off as she whacked him with her notebook.
"Dunce! We're all witches and wizards here! If she curses you it'll be because you're pissing her off right now, not because her eyes are a funny color."
I laughed quietly to myself and watched the rather disgruntled boy slink away. The sassy girl turned to me and winked.
"Don't worry 'bout Timmy over there, he's still reeling over the loss of his mummy and daddy."
"Am not!" came a shout from across the room. The girl rolled her eyes and we shared a laugh.
"Adhara Richardson," she introduced.
"Betony Griffith," I returned.
"That's a lovely name, very different," she complimented.
"Yours too," was my honest reply. Before we could become any better acquainted, McGonagall called the class to attention by rapping her pointing stick on the board.
"Good morning class," she intoned.
"Good morning Professor McGonagall," we responded in unison.
"Welcome to your first class at Hogwarts. I hope you will find yourselves settling into life here very soon. In the meantime, if you ever have troubles, go to your heads of Houses if possible. Or, as Dumbledore told you last night, all of the teachers are at your disposal if necessary. For those of you who have already forgotten, the Head of House for those of you in Ravenclaw is Professor Flitwick. The Head of Slytherin House is Professor Slughorn. Any questions?"
When no one made any reply, McGonagall continued on.
"Very well, we shall begin our first lesson. Please take out your textbooks and turn to page 8. Take out paper and a quill to write with if you have them. If not, please remember to bring them every day from now on."
Although I feared at first that we might spend the entire class taking notes, we actually took very few. McGonagall soon had us on our feet, allowing us to become physically involved in the day's lesson. As I'd expected, I really did like McGonagall very much. I doubted I would like any teacher better than her.
When class ended, I packed my things and headed for the door. I paused momentarily, glancing right and left, trying to figure out which way to head for my next class. As I stood there, Adhara brushed past me, confidently heading to the right.
"See you later Betony!" she yelled energetically back at me. I merely shook my head and turned back to my map, finally making the decision to go left.
Luckily I managed to find my next class rather easily: it was Potions, and the dungeons were not particularly difficult to locate. I looked around the class for a place to sit. This class was a mix of Slytherins and Gryffindors instead of Ravenclaws. Just like in Transfiguration, the class had neatly separated into two sections: Slytherins on the right, Gryffindors on the left. I was curious to see however that there were two who had not adhered to the unspoken rule.
In the middle of the classroom- where the two groups could not help but meet at the edges- one Gryffindor girl and Slytherin boy were sitting together rather willingly. The rest of the middle section was still currently vacant because the students were trying to avoid it as long as possible. But these two... well it looked almost like they were already friends.
I remember that red hair... I realized, staring at the back of her head. What was her name again? It was some flower. Rose? Lavender? No, neither of those...
Lily. That's what it is. Lily Evans. And the boy... that slick black hair and pale skin, I'm sure I remember him too.
I searched my memory desperately, until I hit the answer.
Of course! The one with the strangest name of all: Severus Snape. Who on Earth names their child Severus? Is that a real name?
Regardless, I felt very attracted to the fact that they were the only two bold enough to mingle. Having made my decision, I walked over to sit on the Slytherin side of the boy, so that I still remained in my 'section'.
It's appropriate that I sit with them, I told myself. After all, the Sorting Hat thought I belonged in Gryffindor almost as much as Slytherin. They might be a good match for me.
"Hello, I'm Betony," I said quietly. Severus turned to me in surprise that I'd spoken. Lily peered around him and beamed at me.
"I'm Lily," she introduced, holding out her hand. I found myself smiling back at her and I shook the offered hand.
"Nice to meet you," I said. "And you are...?" I addressed to Severus, although I knew full well who he was.
"Uh, Severus," he said sounding a bit unsure.
"Lovely," I murmured, turning my attention now towards the front of the classroom. Beside me I heard Severus and Lily whispering briefly, but they stopped when the Professor came out. This man, Professor Slughorn, was the one that McGonagall had identified as the Slytherin Head of House. I had somehow expected a rather strict, cold, commanding man to fit that profile, but Slughorn was nothing of the sort.
"Good morning class," he greeted us cheerfully.
"Good morning Professor Slughorn," we replied.
"It's wonderful to meet you all. Yes, every single one of you, yes. I'm sure we will all be very good friends in no time, hmm? Yes, right, well on to the lesson!"
Slughorn's peculiar antics and speech patterns somehow managed to keep me entertained all throughout the first lesson of the day. There was something about the way he looked at us that made me feel a bit uncomfortable however, like he was judging us.
Class felt like it ended rather early, but I ended up being forced to attribute the passing of time to the fact that I actually enjoyed myself in that class. What a terrifying thought.
"You two seem like you already know each other," I commented as Lily, Severus, and I walked out together.
"We do," responded Lily happily. "We live near each other. Sev is the one who first told me all about magic and Hogwarts. I'm muggle-born you see."
"Ah," I said simply, unsure what else to say.
"What about you?" Lily asked kindly. "What about your parents?"
"My father is a muggle, but my mother came to Hogwarts some years ago."
For the first time, Severus joined our conversation. Upon hearing my comment, Severus said frankly,
"Those marriages never work."
"Sev!" hissed Lily.
"It's alright Lily," I assured her nicely, although my blood was boiling. My parents may be a bother to me, but this punk kid had no right to pass judgment on the condition of their marriage.
"You can't change stubborn, and ya can't fix stupid," I informed her, obviously referring to Severus.
Lily's eyes widened and she was rendered speechless. I could tell that my insults had confused her innocent soul. Half of me wanted to laugh at her, the other half wanted to hug her.
Severus did not take too kindly to my remark about him. He scowled and looked at me with a rather disgusted look.
"And look what they're putting in Slytherin these days. In the days when Hogwarts was at its best you wouldn't even have been admitted to the school, much less placed in Slytherin house where you have the opportunity to tarnish our reputation."
"Good for me that Hogwarts isn't at its best anymore then, hmm?" I mocked. Unsure how to respond, Severus gave Lily a curt goodbye and rushed away.
"Prat," I muttered at his backside. Lily looked concerned.
"He's really very nice Betony, if you give him a chance. He's just a bit opinionated that's all. I mean, that's not necessarily a bad thing either so... really, if you just give him a chance, you'll like him. I'm sure of it!" Lily's confident tone made me second-guess my opinion of him slightly. I felt myself giving way to her innocent, pleading look and I glared off to the side so I didn't have to look at her.
"Fine. I'll try and be nicer next time," I said reluctantly through clenched teeth.
"Great! We'll all be good friends, I'm sure of it," she exclaimed. I couldn't help looking at her strangely. This girl was different than the people I was used to. My brothers were your regular nerd types, and my parents, well... I mostly avoided them. I preferred to be alone anyways. But this girl Lily, she was full of an energy I'd never truly experienced before. I wasn't at all sure how to deal with it.
"I'll see you around, okay?" she said as we had to split ways for our next class.
"Uh, yeah sure," I agreed.
Stepping outside, I glared at my surroundings. Why did the sun have to be so bright? Lord, I could barely see. I had to squint so the sunlight wouldn't bother my eyes too much.
"Is that the trouble with having freak eyes?" snickered a voice beside me. I turned to the newcomer, feeling rather hostile. Raising a hand to shade my eyes so I could see clearly, I saw who I was dealing with: the obnoxious boy Sirius Black. Although, as it so happened, he wasn't the one who'd spoken; that had been his friend. I decided immediately that I didn't like either of them.
"And you are?" I asked with a harsh tone.
"James Potter. You?"
"Somehow I don't feel inclined to tell you." Sirius and James laughed at that, apparently finding something about my remark rather humorous.
"Come on now, be a good sport," teased Sirius. "I'll even go first. My name is Sirius Black."
"I know who you are," I remarked testily. Sirius nudged James.
"Look at that; only been here a day and already the girls are into me. What did I tell you?"
"Oh don't be a prat. I only remember your name because you were the absolute rudest, most obnoxious boy in the whole lot of first-years." Sirius' grin faded into a rather tight expression.
"What did you say your name was again?" he asked coldly. I realized with some level of annoyance that they could find out easily enough if they wanted, so there really was no point to not answering.
"Betony? That's a weird name," Sirius said rudely.
"It's because of my eyes."
"What on earth does it have to do with your eyes?" I smirked.
"Betony is a plant specifically known for its purple color. Don't worry; it's okay to be ignorant."
Sirius ignored the jibe.
"What's your full name?"
"Betony Lynx Griffith."
"Betony Lynx? So you're named after a plant and an animal. Oh, that's impressive."
"You're named after a constellation and a color; I don't think I'd be talking if I were you."
"Oh ho ho!" James chortled. "She got you there man."
"Shove it," ordered Sirius roughly. Glaring at me, Sirius grabbed James' arm and they walked off to courtyard where Care of Magical Creatures class was taking place.
"Oh this is going to be a swell class..." I muttered as I reluctantly followed where the two Gryffindors had gone.