Chapter 1: Once Again

Cressida crouches in front of Truffle's cage, petting the brown-haired cat's nose. Truffle calls to his owner softly, lifting the young woman's lips at the sound. The cage is temporary, she reminds herself; filled with a soft blanket and a bowl of water she enchanted to not spill. Once again, Cressida stands, leaving her beloved companion to the magic of the Hogwarts Express.

Leaving the carriage desolate of human life, Cressida, with her trunk in hand, ventures down into the main cabins. Her shoulders turn to the side, pressing closer to the outside wall of the train's corridor as students of all ages and house bustle around to find their friends – or make new ones. It's rather amusing to see how the train is laid out. Down the far end, in the open carriages, you will find the Slytherins. A remarkably social type of place considering who currently sits within it, but it fits with what Cressida knows about their common room. Open and cold.

The Ravenclaws tend to migrate to the larger cabins which still have doors, but occupy much greater numbers than ones found closer to the head of the train. They have long tables down the middle, and long cushioned chairs facing each side of the train. Thin and stretched.

This leaves the Hufflepuffs and the Gryffindors to share the small compartment like cabins. They each have a sliding door with a glass window but often enough you could find it pulled down.

Passing through the door separating the different carriages, the train begins to move. Cressida's eyes immediately dart to the closest window, searching for her mother's face. It doesn't appear at first, so she waits patiently until more of the platform passes by. Her smile grows as she passes the Potters. She hadn't been able to see them this time on the platform since she and her mother were running so late but after spending half her summer in their house, they likely hardly miss her. Then her mother appears in the glass, eyes darting back and forth over the carriage windows until she spots her waving daughter. Lips spread open, revealing the large smile that both women share.

As quickly as it came, the platform is gone, leaving a stone wall which would soon be replaced with the countryside of England and Scotland. Cressida turns her shoulders back forward, the smile not wavering from her lips as familiar laughter echoes down the long carriage.

A few compartments down, a blonde girl slips out of the door, shutting is quickly behind her. Cressida perks a brow, stepping to the side to let Marlene pass by. "Already on your way to see Davies?" she taunts.

Marlene squints at the darker haired female, though her eyes are filled with mirth and mischief. "Walters actually." Amy Walters, a seventh year with remarkable skill in potions. Known for her deals under the table. "Nicholas and I spent enough time together this summer to last us through a marriage." Cressida grins as Marlene passes her, both turning around to stretch out their conversation.

"Surely you're getting bored?"

"Not when things change every night." Marlene chuckles at Cressida's contemplative face. "Try not to hog the shower this year!" she calls down the carriage.

"As long as you don't hog the apple tarts!" Cressida cries back, laughing to herself as Marlene gives her a 'weighing the options' gesture before slipping into another compartment. Turning back around, she continues along, peeking into the carriage where Marlene came out of. Sure enough, Lily Evans and three other Gryffindor girls sit inside. Cressida waves inside, receiving a few waves in return. Well, barely waves. More so just lifts of the fingers. She doesn't think much of it really, not when she knows how Lily feels about her friends and the rest of them aren't sure what to think about her most of the time. But it isn't like they don't get along.

Cressida almost slams the door to her compartment open. "I'm surprised not to see you in Lily's cabin, James," she mocks before they even have a chance to look up. James' bright glint fades into a more serious expression. The boy has a squared jaw and a face to match, dark hair in a constantly ruffled state that he has a terrible habit of running his hands through. New, square-framed glasses are perched on his nose, accentuating his dark brows and hazel eyes.

"Well, for your information, I was in there earlier-"

"But they kicked him out," Remus finishes, greeting her with a tight-lipped smile that is meant to hold his amusement. The other boy has hair between light brown and a dark blonde. His face is scrawnier but handsome in its own way, with a slightly longer nose and wider set eyes.

James's eyes snap to his friend, holding up a finger pointedly. "I was not kicked out-" he looks back to Cressida with the finger still pointing for emphasis, "- I was asked to leave so they could talk about whatever girls talk about when we aren't there."

Rolling her eyes, Cressida heaves her trunk into the air to place in the overhead hanger. "I will give it to him that he left, and they only had to ask once."

"Congrats," she huffs out, struggling to get the trunk lodged in. "Basic human decency. You're learning something at least."

She hears a quiet grumble, notably as James who has that bad habit. "Well after you yelled at me in the Great Hall last year, I thought I better start listening to your advice befo- why do you even have your trunk here?"

"Because I was late," she growls. "The storage carriages were already closed." She struggles for a little longer, noting both Remus and James watching her silently. "What's the point of having male friends if they don't do the heavy lifting for me?"

Cressida barely has time to roll her eyes before hearing two shuffles. The trunk lifts away from her hands and neatly into the cage, but not by James who has just stood up. Their eyes float towards Remus who's putting his wand away, smirking to the floor.

"Non-verbal," James muses, "impressive." He takes his seat once more, Cressida taking the one next to him. He pumps out his arms before crossing them over his chest. "Not as impressive as my chaser abilities, but up there."

Cressida shrivels her nose as Remus rolls his eyes. "I think it's just because everybody else sucks," she goads. "I barely put in any effort catching the quaffle."

"When I'm team captain next year," he drawls, slowing rolling his neck to glare at her. "You're not going to be on the team." When Baxton finally graduates.

Pulling her lips into a smirk worthy of a Slytherin, Cressida leans forward. "Find a better Keeper and I'll quit."

His eyelashes slowly begin to narrow before he sniffs and looks away. "Lucky," he mumbles. Everybody knows that James is one of the most competitive people at Quidditch and his desire to win goes beyond personal relationships with who's on the field.

Leaning back contently, Cressida glances around. "Where are our two missing people?"

Remus answers her, leaning against the wall next to the window, stretching his legs out along the seat. "Peter is currently in the lavatory because some sixth year Slytherin gave him these sweets that make you vomit up soap-" Cressida winces at that, "-and Sirius is trying to hunt down Beverly Daily."

"Well that's Peter's own fault," she mutters, "and does Sirius know that Beverly is gay? I mean, it's quite obvious, not to mention that's she's told half the school already."

Both of the males' mouths part with similar expressions of realisation. It only takes another few more minutes until their talked about friend enters the cabin. He looks the same as he did through the summer. Hair getting longer every year, a half-put together outfit that somehow works and his wand sticking out of his belt.

"Beverly's still not falling for me," he sighs.

James clicks his tongue, leaning back into the chair and pushing his foot against the opposite side's. "I can't believe you didn't know she's gay."

Cressida gapes at him while Sirius ponders the new information. James' lips pull into a grin, raising an arm to block her back-handed slap to his shoulder. "How come you knew, and I didn't?" Sirius wonders.

"Don't know," James says, eyes darting between his friends with quick flashes of different grins for each. "Maybe I'm just more in tune with the ladies."

"The only thing you're in tune with, is your own voice," Sirus bites back. While the boy with dishevelled short hair and glasses sulks, Sirius frowns at the new resident in the compartment. "Oi, Cress, you're in my seat."

Cress raises a brow testily. "Sit next to Remus."

"But I was sitting there. It's my seat."

"You sound like a child. Besides, if you sit opposite, it'll be easy to look at James and you don't have to strain your neck in order to take in his beauty I know you so admire."

His neck stretches forward with an overdramatized roll. "Or," he drawls, "you could give me my seat back. Besides, you always sit next to Remus on the train."

"And I've suddenly realised how comfortable this spot is."

Both hold out their wills to see which one will break first. Sirius is too stubborn and likes things to be a certain way – his way, and Cress is too prideful and just as stubborn. It had only been out of convenience that she took that seat, wanting nothing more than to sit down after spending the past hour bustling about like a mad-woman so she didn't miss the train.

Finally he points to her with a scolding figure. "You're lucky I can't be bothered fighting. I even ignored Snape on the way here."

"My lucky day," Cress sings.

"Regulus being that bad?" James assumes.

Sirius shakes his head, one side of his lips pinching up to his nose. "Nah, mother dearest this time. I think she's finally realising that there's no way I'll conform."

"She can stick a wand up her ass."

"And take a photo when you do," Cressida adds quickly. "We'll catch the last moments before your glorious death."

Sirius holds up his hands in a surrender type gesture. "A worthy sacrifice," he agrees. "But then nobody would be around to take care of you lot."

The other three erupt into a roar of disagreement; cries of protests and examples being flung at the young Black's face. Peter joins them after a while, pale-faced and meek. Once the trolly lady strolls down, James shouts them nearly half the trolly. Cressida snatches the box of Bertie Bott's out of James' hands – much to his disappointment – and riffles through the box until she picks out a flavour she has become accustomed too. "Oi! Catch!" Sirius steadies himself in the seat, mouth opening like a dog ready for a treat as the jellybean flies through the air.

He cheers triumphantly as it lands in his mouth. Cressida shares a subtle smirk with James who watches eagerly as Sirius continues to celebrate his minor achievement, chewing avidly. But his grin turns to a grimace as the taste of the bean develops. Pushing out his tongue, he reveals the half-chewed bean. "It's sock," he moans with his tongue still hanging out.

Cressida tilts her head to the side. "What? I thought you liked the taste." Her lips draw into another smirk. "Considering you let Rosier kick you off your broom last year. You got a foot in your mouth from that."

Sirius' eyes turn sour, recalling the foul-played match against Slytherin at the end of the year that would decide which house won. Gryffindor had, of course, even down a beater. "I want to swing my bat across his face this year."

"Not through Quidditch please," James notes. "I don't want you kicked off the team."

"And here you were saying you wanted me off," Cressida scoffs. "You know what, Sirius, have your seat." Pushing off the cushioned lounge, she takes the seat of an exasperated Sirius who finally has his spot back. "I know I'm liked over here," she says to Remus and Peter on either side of her.

"Ah! Finally, some decent company!" James exclaims.

Cressida turns to Remus, ignoring the two dark-haired males. "You have A History of Magic in that bag, don't you? The hardcover?"

Remus nods, pulling the thick book out of his brown, aged leather satchel. Cressida takes it, pretending to examine the first few pages before snapping it shut, leaning forward and smacking the Potter boy across the head.

"H-Ow!"

Cressida sits back down with a smile, opening the book back up as he adjusts his somewhat new glasses. In return for her relatively hard hit, her shin receives a solid kick from thick-leathered shoes. Gasping and pulling her legs up, Cressida kicks back only to be met with another retaliation that leads into a scuffle. The book is taken from her hands at one point by a slightly concerned Remus, allowing her to push away James' hands that attempt to cover her eyes to gain some advantage. And the carriage is filled with howls of pain, laughter, the smell of sugary treats and magic.