Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
Smoke from the black and red train's engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. People were busy pushing along their trolleys, parents ushering their children along to hurry. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping off heavy trunks.
"Bye Mum," Merida finally said, embracing her mother tight after the many farewells she gave first to her father and her little brothers who wouldn't stop straying off into the noisy crowd. They stood by the train door as Merida's father heaved up her trunks up into the train.
"Now be careful, Merida, we don't want ter hear from the school about yer misadventures, arigh'?" Elinor reminded her as she let go, and began fussing over Merida's messy mop of red hair again.
"Mum!" Merida chuckled, covering her head with her hands.
"Oh, sweetie," she sighed, "Have fun."
"And don't forget ter write!" her father chimed in with his deep raspy voice, winking at his little girl as he got off the train.
"Yes, Dad..." Merida rolled her eyes with a chuckle.
"Well, yer things are up already," he said and stood by Elinor, "Good luck, Merida."
"Thanks, Dad, Mum, I promise i'll be doing good in Hogwarts!" Merida said and boarded up, gathering her cloak up and scrambling into the train along with many other students, quickly losing sight of her parents in the crowd that had gathered behind her. People kept pouring in endlessly.
"Goodbye! Goodbye!" she heard their voice call out, hands waving above all the hordes of witches and wizards. Merida even thought she heard her little brother's squeals of farewell.
"Bye-!" she turned and called back, her sentence cut short when her back bumped into something, she quickly spun around in surprise.
"Ow!" came a yelp from behind her. A kid wearing a green sweater and brown vest had fallen over flat on his face books scattered everywhere. Students stepped aside, some sniggered at the sight.
"OH! I'm so sorry-" Merida apologized and helped him up, her messy hair falling over her shoulders in untamed locks as she pulled up the boy.
"It's okay, I-I'm used to that," he said looking up at her, his face freckled like hers and red as beet chuckling a bit at the embarrassment, stooping down and recovering his books as people rushed past with bags and cages.
Merida picked up a hardbound volume that had fallen at her feet and handed it back to him. The boy scratched his long-ish brown hair flopping over his head.
"I'm really, really sorry 'bout that," Merida ranted on, "Should 'ave been more careful."
"No, no, it's alright, really," he shrugged it off, hugging his pile of books to his chest. "So what's your name?"
Snapping up from her humiliation, Merida replied brightly, "I'm Merida. Merida Dunbroch," she held out her hand, beaming. He shook it and returned the smile.
"I'm Hiccup." he replied simply, "And you're probably better of not hearing the rest of my name," he chuckled nervously. Merida noticed that his voice was round, almost like a girl's. Quite new for her, she was used to deep voices with the exception of her brothers'.
"Nice ter meet you," she nodded.
"Mother, the train's leaving-I have to go!" came a high pitched musical voice. Both of them turned to see a petite girl with blonde hair struggling with her trunk right beside them, trying to yank it up into the train to no avail, a middle aged woman with black hair nearly as thick and curly as Merida's calling out to ther from the platform, separated by the continuing mass of students hurrying up.
"Be careful, Rapunzel! Write to me everyday!" the woman hollered.
"I will, Mother!" the golden haired girl replied, yanking at the handle of the purple ornate trunk the same shade as her dress. Her thick long braid of blonde hair swaying side to side as she did. Merida cocked her head, wondering how that hair got way too long.
"Would ye like some help?" Merida offered.
The girl Rapunzel turned to Merida with her doe-like green eyes, smiling, "Really? Thanks!"
Merida jumped over to the side and tried to hoist it from there, but the trunk was too heavy. Hiccup looked around, his face sort of anxious about something, not sure if he should help. There seemed to be somewhere he needed to be. But he laid his books down on the floor and tried to help, too, and slowly but surely, the trunk was lifted off the ground.
"Whoa, this is heavy, what have ye got in here?" Merida asked Rapunzel.
"Oh, nothing, just...my things," she chukled nervously with her bell-like voice.
"To which compartment?" Hiccup asked, almost wincing as the three of them held the purple trunk between them in the train corridor, students skiriting around them just to get through.
"Oh, me Dad found one over here," Merida said and began to edge towards the side of the passage and slid the glass door open with her shoulder. They slowly skittered into the small room and laid the trunk down gently on the floor, seeing as there was no way they could lift it up into one of the shelves over the seats.
"Thank you very much for helping me," Rapunzel said gratefully, shaking both their hands.
"Yer welcome," Merida nodded as Hiccup ran back into the busy corridor where his books lay defenseless against the hundreds of feet. Rapunzel blinked at his sudden exit but turned back to Merida to introduce herself.
"My name is-"
Ther was a rap on the compartment window and Merida saw the lady earlier calling out fromm just outside.
"Yeah, that's my name, sorry," Rapunzel smiled apologetically and rushed to the window.
Merida blinked at all the hustle and bustle of the train. There didn't seem to be one second when the students aren't moving. Especially the two acquaintances she's met so far. While Rapunzel was talking with her mother in the window, Merida saw that all her belongings were there, even the cloth-covered bundle on top of her luggage that kept her bow and quiver of arrows.
Weapons probably weren't allowed in Hogwarts, but her bow had always been wherever she was, and leaving it behind almost felt like leaving behind her new wand.
"Yes, Mother, I have my brush..." Rapunzel continued on by the window.
"I love you, flower," Mother Gothel smiled, her hand splayed on the glass longingly.
"I love you more," Rapunzel said, putting up her hand on the glass as well.
"I love you most."
The train engines got louder and the whistle screeched all throughout the station.
"All aboard!" a conductor called out.
"Merida! Merida!" Elinor called out, making her way through the crowd and finding the compartment window.
Merida rushed to it just as the train began to start, squeezing in beside Rapunzel and waved at her parents a few feet away, her three brothers jumping up and down at their feet.
"I'll be careful, I promise, Mum!" she said.
"Promise, I won't run off, Mother!" Rapunzel echoed.
And so the train began to sped away and the two girls waved at their families left behind at the platform, just like the many parents and loved ones waving goodbye there.
A stocky bearded man yelled farewell, his voice gruff but cheerful.
"See ya soon, son! Make me proud!"
"I will, Dad!" replied Hiccup's voice and both Merida nad Rapunzel saw that he sticking out his hand and head out the train door's window. "Bye! Take care of Toothless for me!"
The platform disappeared as the Hogwart's Express rounded the corner and houses flashed on the other side of the glass. Merida felt a great leap of excitement in her stomach as she settled down. She was finally going into Hogwarts...
Rapunzel failed to suppress a squeal and jumped to her seat, giggling in anticipation. "I can't believe it, I'm going to school! I'm going somewhere new!" she squeaked.
Merida let out a chuckle at Rapunzel's joy. The other lass was way more excited about this than her. It was only then that Merida noticed that Rapunzel was only wearing slippers. It was no better than being barefoot but she didn't seem to mind.
The compartment door slid open and Hiccup came in.
"Uh, hey, can I sit here? The other compartments are full." he asked almost timidly with his handful of books.
"It's alright, ye can sit with us," Merida said.
"Thanks," Hiccup said and sat beside her, laying his books down between them.
"So, what's your name?" Rapunzel asked brightly, turning from Merida to Hiccup and back.
"Oh, yeah, of course. You can call me Merida,"
"Er-Hiccup. Just Hiccup."
"Nice to meet you two!" she said, moving her gigantic braid to her side.
"Whoa," Hiccup breathed as he saw the braid up close. He stared at it for a moment and turned back to the window.
"What?" Rapunzel asked.
Hiccup didn't reply, his cheeks red again.
"It's just that yer hair is so...neat." Merida cut in. Hiccup furrowed his eyebrows.
"Tha-that's not what I meant," he said.
"Neat? Thanks, I comb it everyday."
Merida's eyes widened, "E-Everyday? How long is that hair of yers?"
Rapunzel shrugged, "Dunno, I stopped measuring after thirty feet."
Merida and Hiccup turned to eachother and suppressed their laughter.
"Wow," Merida breathed.
"Hey, stop it," Rapunzel told them good naturedly.
"So, Merida, I've seen your family earlier, did they all go to Hogwarts?" Rapunzel asked with interest.
"Yes, they were, but they thought of home-schooling me fer some reason or two, my brothers won't be starting for a long time" she said, "But they have no choice, Hogwarts is the best, isn't it?"
Hiccup nodded, "My Mom and Dad went there, too. Then they became dragon tamers in Berk."
"Yer from Berk? There must be so many dragons there," Merida said.
"I've never heard of Berk." Rapunzel said.
"Really?" the other two chhorused. Berk may be a small town but any wizard or witch knows that it's the closest a place could get to the Dragon's Nest, there are more dragons there than the conservatory in Romania.
"But nevermind, where did you say ye came from, Rapunzel?" Merida asked.
"Oh, I came from Corona."
"You lived with Muggles? How was it?" Hiccup said.
"Not much really, we didn't leave near town, all I have for company is Mother and Pascal, my chameleon." she sighed, "Must be fun having a big family, Merida. I wish I had brothers and a Dad."
Merida chuckled half heartedly and rolled her eyes, "Oh, careful what ye wish fer. In Dunbroch, everyone expects me to be paerfect. Mum never stops trying ter tame this wild mop," she said and blew a lock of curly red hair off her forehead. Rapunzel and Hiccup laughed a bit as she flipped her hair from one side to another, falling in messy tumbles, looking no different from the dandelion-like mess they were before.
"But I like it this way, though. Me little brothers are wee devils, never a quiet moment at home." she finished."But come to think of it, it's pretty fun like that. Must be lonely having only yer Mother and a pet."
"Quite." Rapunzel nodded. "I find ways to distract myself, though. How about you, Hiccup? That was your Dad in the platform?"
"Yeah. My Dad, Stoick." he replied, "He's...kind of a person I could always look up to. Though all I want to do in Howarts is make him proud, finally."
"I bet you will, look, yer studying before school even starts," Merida chuckled, glancing down at the pile of books.
While they had been talking, the train had carried them out of London. now they were speeding past fields full of cows and sheep. They kept talking on, laughing constantly. The three of them somehow found something they were missing back home.
Around half past twelve, there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling dimpled woman slid back their door an said, "Anything off the trolley, dears?"
For hours afterwards, they were eating as they talked, eating the infamous snacks they have only heard of. Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Cauldrom Cakes and Pumpkin Pasties...
They even had a brush with the Chocolate Frogs. Rapunzel almost fell off her seat when she opened the container and the frog leapt out, hopping around the compartment. She refused to eat it even after Hiccup dived down on the floor just to catch it. She said it looke like her pet.
"Why didn't you bring your chameleon with you, anyway?" Hiccup asked, biting off the frog's head.
"Oh, I did." Rapunzel said, nodding. "Haven't you seen him? He was just..."
She turned to her shoulder and raised an eyebrow and then to the other,"...here."
She looked up at both of them, eyes wide.
"Well, he can't have just disappeared," Hiccup said, "We never saw him here in the first place."
Rapunzel scanned the room anxiously and narrowed her eyes on Merida.
"What is it?" Merida asked.
"There he is!" she said. Merida's eyes widened and she looked up. The chameleon was there on her head, red as her hair. Startlingly red.
Her scream resounded in the compartments all around them.
She wasn't afraid of chameleons. But finding one in her hair certainly was a shock.
Gales of cheering and claps resounded in the Great Hall and Hiccup stood up from the stool as Professor Toothiana lifted the Sorting Hat from his head as she stood beside him with her bright turquiouse robes, what seemed to be wings fluttering on her back, her head of bright feathers perking up cheerfully, she turned out to be a hummingbird Animagus, but her form was always somewhere inbetween.
"Congratulations," she said. Hiccup walked over to the cheering crowd of Gryffindor like one daydreaming. There was disbelief in his eyes. But he finally let out a relieved laugh when he sat down and the older students patted him on the back and Rapunzel moved over to sit beside him and give him a goblet of pumpkin juice to calm his nerves, Pascal the chameleon on her shoulder, now bright green. He drank it down quickly, apparently still nervous.
Merida bit her lip, excited yet sort of afraid. Her parents never really had any expectations on where she'll end up, but still...being in a new school, everything was sort of scary. What if she ends up in a house where nobody even befriended her? What if it would be like back home where she was the one person that was...different? When she couldn't be herself.
She stared up at the sky on the ceiling of the Great Hall, black and clear with stars, just like the real sky outside when they were put in boats and sailed over the lake as they finally saw Hogwarts castle, all alight. The floating candles right above them gave her a sense of clam even for just a moment.
Everyone's eyes were on them, the first years, all wearing their new black robes, the iconic uniform of Hogwarts.
"I just have to be brave." she told herself.
"Dunbroch, Merida!" Professor Toothiana said.
She was yanked out of her thoughts and she stepped forward slowly, all eyes turned to her as she did. Merida felt her breath grow shallow at all the people staring. Professor Toothiana stood there on the raised tier with the Sorting Hat in hand, the crumpled face of the frayed old hate seemed to menace at her.
Her eyes scanned the High Table lined with Professors, most were expectant, some smiling, especially the Headmaster, Nicholas St. North with his bright cheeks and snow white beard, wearing his fur hat and red robes.
Merida turned and sat down on the stool. All the Four Tables were staring at her, silence filled the air as the previous cheer died off.
Hiccup and Rapunzel were looking at her fro the Gryffindor Table, smiling.
"You can do it," Hiccup mouthed while Rapunzel held her two thumbs up, her long golden hair illuminated by the floating candles.
Professor Toothiana dropped the hat on her head and next thing Merida saw was the black inside of the hat, her hair poofing up outside of it.
"...afraid, are we?"a small voice in her ear said, "...for what?"
"I'm not afraid," Merida said in her head.
"...yes, I see a lot of bravery in you, but just as much stubborness. You are not afraid...you are unsure...we'll see, then...tell me, which House do you think you deserve to be in...?"
"I don't know." she said, and suddenly, she wasn't unsure. Merida lost her doubt on herself.
"But I want to be in the House that deserves me."
There was a silence, then...
The Great Hall filled with cheer and the professor lifted the Sorting Hat off her head. Merida ran towards the Gryffindor table where she was greeted by each and everyone. She sat down between Rapunzel and Hiccup.
"I knew we'd be in the same house!" Rapunzel squealed and shook her by the shoulder.
"We're all here!" Hiccup said and patted her back.
"Yes we are!" Merida laughed along with them.
And so it came to be that the three became close friends, put in the same house for a reason none of them knew, but fate has decided. Still children making their way into Hogwarts.
Now that was five years ago.
(Author's Note: Characters and setting not mine. First story, please review, I appreciate your comments on it, thanks!)