"How far away are we from the castle?" Sophie asked as she peered out of the train window into the forest. "I think we should start getting changed."
Sophie Roper, my fellow Hufflepuff, she is pretty in an adorable, childlike way that suited her naive personality. Her long hair was styled into French braids. Her hair was a shade of brown so dark it looked black, especially against her light brown skin. While I couldn't see her face, I knew it was lit up with excitement. She could barely sit still and was continually fiddling with the drawstrings on her light pink hoodie.
"At least another half an hour," Lisa commented.
Lisa Turpin was already dressed in her Ravenclaw robes with her fizzy black, hair pulled into two high buns. Lisa always wore her robes to Platform Nine-and-three-quarters. As her family used the Floo Network to reach the platform. Whenever someone would comment on it, she would launch into her speech about how much more time-efficient it was.
"I can't wait. It's been so boring in the muggle world," Sophie said.
"Speak for yourself," Tracey grumbled. "I'd rather be anywhere but here."
Tracey Davis sat across from Sophie and was also staring out the window, yet she lacked Sophie's hopeful expression.
The other girls looked awkwardly at each other.
"Maybe they have forgotten … moved on."
"Forgotten?" Tracey scoffed "Forgotten that Tracey Davis is the only Slytherin that is also a Muggle-born? This year is going to be hell. Even more so than last year."
"Well, at least we are no longer under the threat of being attacked by a giant snake," Sophie said.
"I'd sneak you into my dorm, but I'm still on thin ice with Flitwick."
"Still the embarrassment of the Ravenclaw house?" Sophie asked.
"Yep," Lisa said. "I got an owl a week ago. Flitwick would like a meeting to discuss my wasted potential. I don't understand his problem, I passed everything, 'but Ravenclaw house like it founder Rowena prides itself on learning, wisdom, wit and intellect and thus our students should be achieving excellence in all their studies and not just merely passing.' That is word for word what he said in that letter."
"So, you can quote that letter but not our textbooks. I'm starting to think Professor Flitwick might have a point about your wasted potential," Tracey teased.
"Shut-up. I think he's still bitter that Granger is a Gryffindor." Lisa turned her head to look over at me. "Your awfully quiet Meg. Something on your mind?"
They turned to look over me, almost as if my silence had caused them to forget I was there.
"Oh, it's just something my dad said…"
Hogwarts will be different this year.
More different than having a serpent roam the school?
This is serious, Megan. The Ministry is scared.
He didn't tell me. He couldn't, he wasn't allowed to.
Just don't do anything stupid; Promise me you won't get yourself hurt in the crossfire.
When have I ever done anything stupid?
I love you.
It was that I love you that had caught me off guard. He said it almost as if it was his last chance, as if he was scared that he would never get to say it again.
I… I love you too.
"I think it has something to do with Sirius Black."
"Who's he?" Sophie asked.
"Who's Sirius Black? You have got to be kidding, right?" Lisa exclaimed.
"I don't know who that is either," Tracey piped up.
Lisa looked between them with an expression of horror until her face softened as she remembered. "Right. Sorry. You're both Muggle-born. He's a Death Eater."
"Death Eater?" Sophie asked.
"Supporter of You-Know-Who," Tracey explained happily, proud of herself for knowing something about the wizarding world.
"Black killed twelve Muggles. He was sent to Azkaban for it-wizard prison. He escaped a month ago."
"I thought Azkaban was inescapable?" Tracey asked.
"He is the first."
"Just like Alcatraz," Sophie said.
"Nothing. It's a muggle thing."
"I think the Ministry is scared that Black might come to Hogwarts. Finish what Voldemort started by killing Harry Potter." I finished.
"That's grim," Tracey commented.
"They were friends, you know." I continued. "I overheard my parents talking about it. About how terrible it was."
"Sirius Black and Potter's Parents. The three of them went to Hogwarts together. He was the best man at their wedding, and because of his betrayal, they're dead."
The girls fell silent. It was like the air was being sucked out of the room.
"Does Potter know?" Tracey asked finally.
"I'm not sure."
"Then this doesn't leave this room." Tracey looked over at them. "We don't speak another word of this."
"I think he deserves the right to know, Trace. I would want to know the truth," Sophie stated.
"You're right, he does deserve to know. But not from us and not from a rumour."
The train came screeching to a stop throwing us off our seats.
"We can't be there yet," Lisa stated, "twenty more minutes at least."
I was the closest to the door, so I stood up and walked over, opening it to peer into the train corridor. I wasn't the only one. Across the aisle, I could see my fellow classmates doing the same.
"Guys, you need to see this," Sophie said, a hint of fear in her voice.
I turned back to look at her and watched as the window of the compartment was slowly overcome with ice.
"Lisa, what could do something like this?" Tracey asked.
"Why would I know?"
"You're the Ravenclaw."
"I'm a terrible Ravenclaw, Trace, we went over this."
"Shush," Sophie said. "I can see something moving out there."
We huddled around her, hoping to catch a glimpse.
"It's getting colder in here," I said.
"There's ice on the window, of course, it is getting colder, genius."
I shook my head. "That not what I mean." I could feel the coldness seeping into my bones. It was travelling through my spine. Branching off into my arms and legs, drifting down into the tips of my fingers and toes. I was cold, but more than that, I felt sad.
Freak. Look at what she did. She's a freak.
No! I don't want to remember. I don't want to relive the day.
I turned away to glance over at the door. "It's on board. I can feel it."
I crept back to the door. I didn't have to look to know my friends were right behind me. I could feel Sophie's breath on my neck. The door was still wide open, just as I had left it. Lisa gripped my arm and huddled up next to my body as we reached the door frame. I peered down into the corridor catching sight of a shadowy figure at the end of the aisle. It was dressed in a black cloak. I couldn't see its face or hands. It shifted and began to move. It wasn't walking through, it was gliding.
"Get back!" Lisa screeched as she pushed herself away from the door. "Get back!" As she ran, she was able to grab hold of Tracey's arm and pull her away with her.
I froze in place, surprised by Lisa's reaction. I looked back to the figure; it was then that I realised what it was.
I slammed the door shut. "Move! Get back to the window!" I shoved Sophie in the direction of the window as I hurried after her.
We scrambled back to our seats and huddled together by the window.
The compartment felt like it was shrinking, as if the walls were closing in with every passing moment.
Freak. Freak. Freak. Freak.
The door began to shift. Sophie took my hand; she squeezed it so tightly. I felt like I was about to lose circulation.
Thin grey skeletal fingers wrapped around the edge of the door and flung it open. I looked on in horror as I came face to face with that thing.
I had heard stories about Dementors my entire life. Don't get into trouble, Megan, my parents would say. The Dementors come for bad children. Yet nothing prepared me for the creature that loomed before us; it was more skeleton than person.
It looked over us, if 'looked' is even the word, taking in our appearances one by one.
"Stop it!" I whimpered, pressing my hands to my ears. "Make it stop."
I could hear Sophie sobbing beside me, and Tracey's sharp inhalations.
It turned and left. It wasn't interested in us.
Sophie grabbed hold of me, burying her head in my shoulder as she continued to cry. I dropped my right arm to pull her in for a hug. I saw Tracey out of the corner of my eye, with her knees pulled up to her chin, silent tears rolling down her face as her ragged breathing continued. Lisa was motionless. She still stared at the doorway as if she were statue fixed in place.
We sat like that for a while-no one speaking, no one moving, until the suffocating fog was lifted.
"What was that?" Sophie asked.
"You know how muggles have the bogeyman, and Baba Yaga to keep their children in line? We have dementors," Lisa explained. "Except unlike the bogeyman, they're real."
"But why are they here?" Tracey asked. "I thought they guarded Azkaban."
"Isn't it obvious?" I said. "They are looking for someone-Sirius Black."
Lisa groaned. "God-dammit Potter. Is a normal school year too much to ask for?"
A/N: I wrote this story for my literary class and fell in love with these characters. This story was inspired by the meme about the students in Harry's year that just wanted an education.
Tracey is listed as a Half-blood on the wiki, but I decided to make her a Muggle-born because I've always been interested about the Muggle-borns in Slytherin