Harriet and Dudley looked around the ferry with wide eyes, taking in everything. They saw several older students milling around an open area on the main deck that had chairs and tables chatting with each other and their Pokémon out enjoying the still warm weather of the fall season. The veritable variety of Pokémon was astounding. Harriet, however, was happy that none of the Pokémon seemed to pay any real attention to her beyond the occasional casual glance in her direction.
Dudley nudged his cousin in the shoulder, snapping her out of her staring. "Come on Hari, we need to find a compartment to store our stuff and get settled in."
"Of course," Harriet replied as she followed her cousin, his bigger frame allowing him to more easily get through than her smaller one would have. As she followed she marveled at how different this ferry was from the traditional ones. It was set up more like a cruise ship, except instead of suite's or rooms it had compartments for the children to sit in. The only place that was like traditional ferry's was the main deck which had open space under the sun with chairs and table while further back towards the stern were some booths with a snack bar run by a slightly plump elderly woman who had a Slurpuff assisting her.
When they reached the stairs going down and up, Dudley led them down figuring that most of the older and earlier arriving students would have taken the upstairs compartments which had better views. The first few were occupied almost to full but about halfway down the hallway Dudley found one with a single girl with dark wavy hair and wearing a blank school uniform reading a book propped open in her lap. Dudley knocked before sliding the compartment door open, "Hello I'm Dudley Lupin, do you mind if my cousin and I join you?" He asked the girl drawing her attention to him.
"Not at all, come on in. My name's Greengrass, Daphne Greengrass." She said introducing herself in return.
"Thanks, this is my cousin Harriet Potter," Dudley returned, smiling at Daphne as he and Harriet moved into the compartment and slid their trunk under the seats.
"A pleasure," Daphne replied courteously before returning to her book. She didn't particularly want to be reading the book but she had to finish it to make a report to her parents on it to keep them happy. After trying to read for about ten minutes she gave it up as a bad job and finally just closed the book. Turning her full attention to the conversation she'd only been half listening to between her companions for the trip.
"So I took what you told me last night into consideration and talked to both of my Pokémon about the leadership role." Dudley was saying to Harrier. "They seemed to agree, but I guess time will tell if they really accepted it or not."
"They will for now, but you're most likely going to have to get another Pokémon to fill that roll. One that can match them both in their respective strengths and come out on top each time without them feeling like you gave that Pokémon special treatment during training." Harriet explained to her cousin. "They are too competitive and some of the insults they throw around," She trailed off with a blush before continuing, "Let's just say they could make a sailor blush with some of their comments."
Daphne's eyes went wide at the last comment. It sounded like it, but it couldn't be. She'd never heard of someone who could. "Excuse me," Daphne interrupted. "But it sounds like you know what the Pokémon themselves are saying?" She asked, looking at the two sitting across from her.
Dudley flinched as he realized that they'd let slip Harriet's secret without meaning to. A secret that only their family had known about before now. They had both forgotten the girl was even sitting with them, she had been so quiet. Upon second glance though, he noticed she was just as small as his cousin size wise, petite and short. Most other children their age were only slightly shorter than himself, not over a full head shorter like these two.
Harriet, seeing Dudley had frozen on the spot, decided she'd have to answer for herself this time. "I've always been able to understand Pokémon. In fact I used to be mauled by them when I went out when I was younger because I thought it was something everyone could do and would often talk with them." Harriet explained carefully gaging the girl's reaction. She knew from experience that not everyone took it the same. Her Aunt, Uncle and cousin slash Godfather being the primary culprits. Sirius had been ecstatic, while Remus had initially treated it like something that should be studied before realizing how uncomfortable it had made her and her Aunt thought it was slightly disturbing at first though she got over it quickly enough.
"That's got to be pretty useful," Daphne replied with a thoughtful look on her face. "You'd be able to easily pass Pokémon care classes by being able to ask them what they'd need."
"Not exactly," Harriet told her.
"How so?" Daphne asked, thinking that the Pokémon would tell her exactly what they'd want if she could speak to them herself.
"Pokémon are a lot like people," Harriet explained to her. "They lie and hide the truth in much the same way for the same reasons. Be it pride, embarrassment, fear or even a combination of things. For example you have a Phantump right?"
"How'd you know-" Daphne started.
"I saw you the day you got it. I remember thinking, "thank Arceus I won't be the shortest girl in our year,"" Harriet interrupted, before shooting a glare at Dudley when he snorted at her reason for remembering someone.
""I'm not short!"" Both girls snapped at the same time though for different reasons. Daphne for Harriet inferring she was short and Harriet, who knew exactly what her cousin was thinking. Both girls looked at each other before bursting out in a giggle fest upon realizing what they'd both said.
"Anyways," Harriet continued as she got her breathing back under control. "Phantump is a dual grass and ghost type Pokémon yeah?" Daphne nodded. "And you're a Greengrass, your whole family specializes in grass types yeah?" Another nod. "Which means you might unintentionally lean more towards your care for Phantump as a traditional grass type. While Phantump won't particularly mind that, it's not optimal and since you're his partner he might not necessarily tell you that he'd prefer something else because he doesn't want to upset you."
Daphne nodded at this looking thoughtful, but before she could respond the compartment door slid open. Causing the occupants to look up and see two red heads who were both quite tall for their age and very similar in appearance despite one being a girl and the other a boy.
"Hello, our brothers kicked us out," the boy started.
"And we were wondering," the girl continued.
""If we could join you"" they finished at the same time.
"Sure," Dudley said after a minute, sounding not entirely sure after that. "I'm Dudley, and that's Harriet," He pointed at Harriet. "And that's Daphne," He finished pointing at Daphne.
"Thanks mate, I'm Ron," The boy said.
"And I'm Ginny," The girl continued.
""And we're the youngest Weasley twins."" They finished with a grin upon noticing the groans from the others in the compartment.
"Please tell me you don't do that all the time?" Dudley asked with a grimace. Though he could hear both Daphne and Harriet grumble something about tall people and twice as annoying.
"Nah, we don't do it all the time. That'd be our older brothers Gred and Forge," Ron explained as he took a seat up against the wall.
"Yeah, we only do it occasionally to take the mickey out of people," Ginny agreed with Ron as she chose to sit next to Daphne.
"So, what are you guys up to?" Ron asked as they all got settled back in, but before anyone could answer the compartment opened up again revealing a gushy haired girl with darker skin and a slightly plump boy who was only slightly taller than Harriet and Daphne.
"Hello, sorry to disturb you but we lost our compartment to older students when we had to go looking for Neville's Lotad, I'm Hermione Granger by the way, do you mind if we join you?" The girl let out in a rush.
The others looked at each other before letting out a collection of sure, and why not. Which led to the compartment becoming slightly cramped but not overly so as Harriet moved to sit next to Daphne and Ginny. Daphne and Harriet being the smallest and Ginny, while tall like Dudley and Ron, was skinny enough so none of the girls took up much room. Hermione sat next to Ron while Neville joined Dudley taking Harriet's old seat.
"So how's everyone feeling about Hogwarts?" Hermione asked excitedly. "I just moved here from Alola, and was ever so surprised when I was allowed to join. I'm hoping to be a Gryffindor like Dumbledore was, though Ravenclaw appealed to me too. What about you guys?" It was like the girl never took a breath they all thought as they stared at her.
Ron was the first to respond, "I'm hoping to be Slytherin despite everyone else in my family being Gryffindor. My goal is to surpass my Dad and it takes a lot of cunning to do so. Traits Slytherin will help foster better than the other houses."
Ginner was next as she was spurred on by her brother, "I'm not particularly aiming for Slytherin. However, I want to replace Dumbledore as the best fire type trainer in Elpis and eventually the best in the world. Which will probably land me there anyways plus it'll be nice to stay with my twin."
"My entire family has been Slytherin for generations, especially since we lost our right to run the Gym on the Isle of Dasos. They've been trying to get the right for a grass gym back ever since." Daphne continued though she grew quieter towards the end and trailed off. Though only Harriet and Ginny seemed to notice.
"I don't care which house I'm in," Dudley jumped in. "I'm just going to be the best fighting type user I can be and beat my dad in battle."
Neville went next as he shyly told them his Gran expected him to follow in his father's footsteps and be a Gryffindor, but that all he wanted to do was work with plants and grass type Pokémon who help them flourish. As he finished all eyes turned to Harriet and Dudley cringed as he noticed the spotlight was on her now because he'd jumped in when it was her turn since they had been going around the compartment in order.
"I, um," Harriet hesitated because everyone else seemed to just know what they wanted already. "I don't know.." She finished weakly, shrinking in on herself.
Hermione started to ask how, but Daphne interrupted her quickly putting her arm around the other girl. "It's okay to not know. Not everyone does when they arrive." She comforted and when everyone's attention turned to Hermione who explained her goals she whispered to Harriet. "I don't know what I want either, I just know I honestly don't care if my family ever gets a grass type gym because I don't have nearly the same interest."
Harriet smiled a small smile as warmth replaced the tension and fear she was previously feeling and she whispered, "Thank you," back. Daphne didn't know it at the time but she had just earned herself a lifelong friend. One simple admission and she had done something none of Harriet's family had done. She had fully reassured the girl that it was fully okay to not have a goal and that she really wasn't the only one who didn't know what they wanted to do.
The acquaintances in the compartment continued to talk and laugh as they sat in their compartment coming closer together as friends. It was about halfway through the trip that it was the first year's turn to access the main deck and allow their Pokémon time to get out and get something to eat for any who were hungry.
"About time," Ron groaned. "I've been starving forever and mum only gave Ginny and I corned beef sandwiches."
"We hate corned beef," Ginny continued with a grimace. "You'd think she'd remember by now."
Harriet was the one who surprisingly laughed at this. "Well come on then let's go get some grub, I need to feed my Pokémon anyways." She said as she led the way out of the compartment and was the first one up to the food bar. She bought some sandwiches and snacks for hers and Dudley's Pokémon before going to the table Dudley had grabbed for everyone.
"Here," she said, tossing Dudley his portion of the treats. She then let Pichu and Scorbunny out before handing them a sandwich, a piece and some Poképuffs. "Here you go guys, I got you some food."
"Thank you, Harriet," Scorbunny replied before digging into her own.
"Ugh, you couldn't have let me out sooner?" Pichu whined as she took her own and began eating.
"I couldn't let you out in the compartment we had to stay in. We had too many people in it as is and we would've been super cramped if everyone had let their Pokémon out." Harriet gently explained to the baby Pokémon. "I promise once we get to the school you won't have to be in the ball nearly as much, okay?."
"Fine," Pichu pouted as she continued to eat.
"Aww, you have such adorable Pokémon," Ginny commented as she took a seat next to Harriet. Her eyes though stated she was talking more about Scorbunny than Pichu as she lingered on the Pokémon before releasing her own Charmander and handing him some food.
Charmander sniffed the sandwiches Ginny got before commenting happily up at Ginny and began to eat albeit slowly.
"I think your mother was smarter than you think with her sandwich choice." Harriet told Ginny.
"What makes you say that?" Ron, who had arrived, asked with his mouth full of food.
"Eww, manners much Ron?" Harriet asked in disgust, before turning back to Ginny. "Charmander just said he would have the preferred corned beef he can smell, but thanks for the food"
"Sorry," Ron replied after swallowing. "I tend to forget when I get really hungry," He explained sheepishly as his twin handed her Charmander and his Weedle a corned beef sandwich that they dug into with more vigor than the previous sandwiches.
By this time their entire group had arrived at the table, and it was Hermione who asked in a disbelieving tone. "What do you mean that's what he said? No one can understand Pokémon. It's why we go to a school like Hogwarts to help us learn about them so we can care for them and train them better."
"Harriet's always been able to talk to Pokémon," Dudley said sharply. "Just because most people can't do something doesn't mean all of them can't. The Lovegood's are a perfect example. The entire family has telepathic abilities and can read the thoughts of Pokémon. So could Harriet's mum."
This caused Hermione to turn pink as she mumbled a sorry, she forgot that there were other abilities like that.
The entire group enjoyed the light late lunch they had and spent time introducing each other to their Pokémon. Hermione had a Munchlax that devoured any food she could get her hands on. It was an interesting Pokémon that Harriet knew her dad had once owned before he died. Daphne introduced them to her Phantump which promptly had a short discussion with Harriet about how he loved his trainer but would definitely enjoy things that included its ghost typing more in it's care which Harriet related to Daphne. Ron introduced his Weedle, which Dudley asked about, and commented on how Ollivander said he was the most talented of the Weasleys.
"I'm not," Ron answered as he turned Pink. "All of our older brothers are really talented. Though Bill had a penchant for ghost types and Charlie loved dragon types. Percy Graduated last year but his dream was to be a professor and so he collects all types to study. Fred and George goof off a lot but are also really talented as well. They prefer fairy and ghost types for their mischievous natures and prank potential, and Ginny takes after the Prewett side of the family and loves fire types. I'm just the only one who was interested in bug types which is why everyone says that. I'm nothing special." He finished dejectedly.
"Don't listen to him. He just has low self esteem because no one else in the family ever understood dad except mum and us. They think dad limited his potential despite being a gym leader because he's the first gym leader in the circuit and believe it's because of his choice in using bugs and picking on Ron for it too." Ginny said hotly. Harriet sensed there was a lot more to this than what they'd just been told, but didn't press. That and Ginny's tone suggested that was the end of the discussion.
Ginny went next and introduced them to her Charmander who had fallen asleep in a warm spot after eating. After her went Dudley who showed off his Tyrogue and Machop by allowing them a short fight that got stopped by a prefect who told them to knock it off. Neville was next who showed them his Lotad. A dual grass water type that'd be perfect for his dream, according to Neville who talked more animatedly when it came to plants. Harriet went last.
"This is Pichu, she was hatched from an egg we got from my mother's Raichu and a strange Pikachu who refuses to evolve yet hasn't lost a single battle that lives in our gym. And this is Scorbunny, she's my starter Pokémon and she chose me before I could even get into the pen." Harriet said excitedly. She really did love her two Pokémon a lot, and the others could tell. She seemed a lot closer to her Pokémon than they did. Though only Dudley knew it was because she spent all her time with them outside the ball and training or playing with them when she wasn't reading.
They enjoyed their time in the sun and playing with their Pokémon and discussing the upcoming school year and what they could possibly expect from the school. However, it was not to last and all good times must come to an end, or in this case be spoiled. A blond haired boy and his two goons who were as tall as Ron and Dudley but thicker approached. "Harriet Potter, and Dudley Lupin, nice to meet you, I'd heard you both were on the ferry this year. These two are Crabbe and Goyle. My name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."
The way Malfoy introduced himself caused Ginny to snort and Ron to smirk at his sister's reaction. This did not go unnoticed by Malfoy. "Think I'm funny, do you? No need to ask who the two of you are, red hair, freckles, second hand clothes and too many children to afford quality despite your father's position. You must be Weasley's."
Harriet thought there'd be a fight almost immediately with words like that instead Ron and Ginny just looked at each other with knowing grins before walking off back to the compartment followed by Neville who looked like he didn't want to be there and Hermione who didn't want to be in trouble before school starts. "That wasn't nice." Harriet told Draco.
"Yeah, well their father's a Gym Leader but you wouldn't know it looking at his family, two of the others are from disgraced lines and one's a foreign blood. I, however, am a Malfoy and can introduce you to the right sort of people." He said with a sneer, and extended his hand to Dudley who just stared at it before glancing at Harriet who just nodded.
"No thanks," Dudley said, hitting the back of Malfoy's hand away. "We can tell the right sort for ourselves." He finished as he walked away.
"You'll regret that Lupin, when you and Potter go the same way as her par-," but Malfoy couldn't even finish the statement before Harriet had slammed into him, causing them both to hit the ground. Malfoy with fear in his eyes as Harriet's hand clenched his throat pressing him down. Her eyes now a startling turquoise instead of their typical emerald green. Though the next thing she knew she was being hauled off, but not by Malfoy's goons but by Dudley.
"You can't do that Hari," he hissed at her as she struggled in his grip. "It's not worth it, and you'll only get yourself in trouble." Dudley struggled to hold her. She was tiny but when she got mad it was almost impossible to hold her down and only after a few extra minutes of struggling did she finally calm down.
"I hate you," She said, pouting, but Dudley could tell by her tone of voice.
"I love you too, cousin." He said with a smile that only caused Harriet to pout more.
The rest of the trip was spent in silence. The twins had dozed off, Hermione and Daphne reading their books, and Neville sitting silent after the confrontation and too scared to bring up a new topic with the looks on Dudley and Harriet's face as they sat in silence contemplating the confrontation. It was around nightfall when the ferry finally pulled into port and the announcement for all students to disembark and to leave their things onboard. The older students took cable cars up to the school. Meanwhile the first years were herded by the largest man any of them had ever seen over to carriages pulled by several Rapidash.
On the ride up to the school their mounting excitement grew as they neared. When the school came finally came into view all the first years looked on in awe at the castle and a voice came over the intercom. "My name is Rubeus Hagrid, keeper of keys and grounds, and it with the greatest of joy that I tell you, Welcome to Hogwarts."