Patsy McGrath had always been looked down upon. Born in a highly underprivileged family, he was no stranger to contempt. The youngest of three brothers, he had always been considered the runt of the litter. The fact that he was naturally of very small stature didn't help. From the moment he was born his parents knew he was going to be petite. Now, at age 11, he had only grown to be 3'8.
Being the shortest in the family, he was more than used to being pushed around. His older brothers had the habit of towering over him in an almost menacing way; a constant reminder of his small stature. He was also no stranger to hand-me-downs. His family had a very delicate financial status, so all his clothes and other essential possessions came from his brothers, which he usually received in a very worn and degraded state.
He didn't mind being poor. He just wished he could do more to help his family get out of that state in which they were always worried whether or not they were going to have enough to eat the following day. He knew nobody would hire him at such a young age, but he wanted to help. More than that, he wanted to feel important, to feel like he mattered, to show everyone that he could make a difference despite his size.
When the letter came, he was more worried than happy. His brothers also attended Hogwarts, and the family was already having a hard time making do as it was. Now that he had been accepted into the most prestigious school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world, it scared him that he might be getting his family into even more debt. His parents assured him that they would manage, but the whole situation still made him feel guilty.
Making his way across Platform 9¾, he was almost amazed at how many weird gazes he was receiving. People looked at him like he was something completely out of the ordinary, which was surprising considering the kind of creatures they saw on a daily basis. Some of the other students actually bumped into him and almost ran him over with their trolleys as they rushed to board the train, as if they couldn't even see him. Truth be told, sometimes he wished that were the case.
When he finally managed to find an empty compartment, he was delighted to be away from all the ruckus. He could still hear the other students chatting happily with each other and the familiar sound of luggage being dragged around through the corridor, but the closed door served as a sound barrier that lowered the volume to a minimum.
As he sat himself down on one of the upholstered seats, he suddenly realized how tired he was. He had barely slept at all that previous night due to the anxiety of this new stage he was about to enter. That along with the rush of packing, making it to the train station on time and saying goodbye to his relatives, it was only natural to feel exhausted.
He closed his eyes and leant his head against the window, its coolness feeling very pleasant against his hot skin.
His eyelids shot up. He saw a boy with dirty-blond hair who must have been around his age peering into the compartment, a somewhat embarrassed smirk across his face.
"Do you mind if I stay here?" The boy inquired, slowly sliding the door open a few more inches. "Every other compartment is full."
Patsy sat up straight as he complied, gesturing towards the seat in front of him. The boy entered the compartment and slid the door close behind him, smiling at his new acquaintance as he took a seat.
"Thanks." He beamed, anxiously rubbing his hands on his knees. "Are you a first-year student?"
"Yes." Patsy replied halfheartedly.
"Me too. I hope I get placed in a good house. I'd hate to be a Slytherin."
"I wouldn't worry. You'll probably get into Gryffindor." Patsy muttered, glancing down at his feet. "You have a better chance than I do."
"Why do say that?" The boy asked, cocking a brow.
"I mean, look at me." He gestured at his body. "I'm not Gryffindor material. Or Slytherin. I'm the kind of kid both those houses push around for laughs."
"I wouldn't say that. I mean, sure, Slytherins are jerks, but Gryffindors are not."
"I've been pushed around my whole life, so I wouldn't be surprised if it happened at Hogwarts as well." Patsy sighed, looking out the window at the English countryside. "I probably won't last two days."
"Look, I get why you feel that way, and I understand what it's like to feel like you don't belong. For most of my childhood I felt like an outcast in my own family and I've just recently found out that that wasn't even my real family! The man who claimed to be my father had adopted me when I was a baby because I was the result of an adulterous relationship between my real father and a married woman."
The boy took a moment to regain his breath. Patsy could tell that was a difficult subject for him.
"I was bullied by my stepbrother practically every day and I never understood why, until just recently. Luckily an old wizard who's an old friend of my father tracked me down a few months ago and clued me in on everything. Apparently my father was a really important person, but died not long after giving me up for adoption."
He took another pause, this time because he noticed Patsy's heartbroken expression.
"Hey, I'm OK, don't worry." He smiled. "Everything worked out for the best. The wizard taught me everything I needed to know about magic and now I'm here!"
Patsy was astounded. He had felt belittled and unappreciated all his life, thinking nobody had it worse than him, but now he discovered that that wasn't the case. This boy, whom he had just met, apparently came from a privileged background and had it even worse. It really made him appreciate having a family that cared for him.
He could tell it had been hard for the boy to open up to him, but he was glad he did. Not only did it made him feel better about himself, but that was the first time anyone had ever confided in him and treated him as an equal.
"Anyway, I'm sorry for bombarding you with so much information you didn't ask for." The boy chuckled, looking away in embarrassment. "You probably think I'm weird, but the truth is I've never had a friend to talk to before."
"Neither have I." Patsy stated. "We could be friends, if you want to…"
Patsy trailed off, suddenly aware of the brutal honesty of his words. He saw the boy slowly turn his gaze towards him, a small smile spreading across his face.
"It's a deal!" He declared, his eyes twinkling as he extended his right hand towards him. "I'm Arthur, by the way. Arthur Pendragon."
Patsy looked from Arthur's hand to his grinning face repeatedly in an almost incredulous state. Nobody had ever wanted to be his friend for as long as he had been alive, and now here was this total stranger whom he had just met not ten minutes ago and who had poured his heart out to him without thinking twice, willing to give friendship a shot. It made his heart swell.
Not wanting to make his new friend wait any longer, Patsy took hold of his hand and shook it, noticing the strength of Arthur's grip in comparison to his own.
"Patrick McGrath, but people call me Patsy."