I'm struggling with the latest chapter of Casting Shadows and decided to switch gears with a short one-shot plogue to the next story I'll write after Casting Shadows. I hope you all enjoy it.

JKRowling owns Harry Potter and all the characters.

Special thanks to my Beta Reader, 'Just William' for the excellent feedback and diligent work in making the story better.

"The end of my first year was one of the most memorable times of my life. Defeating a possessed Teacher and seeing Gryffindor win the House Cup made for a perfect wrap up to my first year in the Magical World. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten a particularly important and rather obvious fact. For every winner, there's also a loser."

~Excerpt from 'Undesirable #1, The True Story of Voldemort's Second Rise and Fall.'

By Harry Potter


"Hurt me with a dagger rather than with those vicious words."

~ Shubham Hosalikar

The morning after the end-of-year feast had been the happiest evening of my life. We had stopped Voldemort and propelled Gryffindor forward to win the House Cup. Everyone seemed to forget that we lost the same number of points earlier in the year sneaking out Hagrid's dragon.

Winning the House Cup, along with the general end of year excitement, resulted in a huge celebration in the Gryffindor common room. I was still a bit weak from my injuries, but Ron and Hermione stayed by. I became dizzy after the first hour and had to go and lie down, but it was still a fantastic night.

I fell asleep looking at the photo album Hagrid had given me in the infirmary. Looking at my parents in so many pictures was like having them here with me. They were so happy and full of life… in a way that only magical moving pictures can capture. Would my parents be proud of me? Yes. Absolutely they would. And I would make sure their sacrifice wasn't in vain.

The next morning, many of the older students required potions to get going after last night's wild partying and celebrations. Fred and George looked especially rough. Ron had stayed up late and barely made it to breakfast with me. We joined an irritated Hermione who had already finished eating and had been waiting for quite some time.

I made a point of thanking Ron for helping me out, given that I was still in recovery. That pacified our bushy haired friend. In truth, I was still weak and would be for another few days. We ate quickly, then made off to our rooms to prepare for the inevitable trip home.

Thank goodness for magic, as our trunks were all packed when we got back to our dorms. Once we were all in the Gryffindor tower, Professor McGonagall had the prefects collect everyone to the common room for a house meeting.

When the common room was full, she praised the house for winning the cup and congratulated us all on a wonderful year. She called out each seventh-year student that was graduating and we all cheered them on as they left Hogwarts for good. Judging from her slow movements and the way she winced as everyone cheered, our head of house may have partied a bit last night as well.

After the house meeting, we collected our things and proceeded to the boat house to meet Hagrid. Neville joined us and rode the boats away from Hogwarts, watching the castle slowly drift out of sight. Friends and fellow students surrounded us the whole way. Once across the lake, we headed to the Hogsmeade Station and boarded the Hogwarts Express. Neville split from us to meet some Hufflepuff students he'd become friends with. This left Hermione, Ron, and me to find our own compartment.

The first few hours on the train had been a continuation of last night's revelry. Gryffindor was still celebrating our last-minute victory over Slytherin. Last night had been utterly wild, but today was a controlled chaos. There was only so much celebration that could happen on a train. Having earned a hundred and sixty points, our little trio attracted our fair share of the celebration.

Percy and several other prefects came by to congratulate us. Ron beamed under his brother's praise and turned bright red. The fact that Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff prefects also came by to congratulate us made it even sweeter. Apparently, no one wanted Slytherin to win. We were given credit for that.

The best part of the trip was when the Gryffindor Quidditch team stopped by our compartment. How so many children fit in one cabin I'll never know. They conjured streamers and confetti while cheering the three of us on as the 'Golden Trio' of Gryffindor. None of us realised at the time that the name would stick.

Oliver Wood took me aside and emphasised the need to prepare for next year. The compartment was crazy loud and well over capacity, but I heard something about bravery and stupidity. Angelina was by his side after a few minutes. He had his sights on the Quidditch Cup and nothing would get in his way. The message was clear: Don't do anything that results in an extended infirmary visit next year.

After a while, the team broke out in a song of some sort and Fred said something about the hair of the dog. The team then passed around a bottle of fire-whiskey. The distinctive smell of smoke and whiskey soon filled the compartment. When Ron reached out to take a sip, Katie Bell interceded and the three of us were stuck with butterbeer.

Once the fun settled down, they asked us to share what happened. We glossed over anything that involved Voldemort and said we stopped Quirrell from stealing Nicholas Flamel's stone from the school. They clearly wanted to hear details, but we had promised not to share beyond that.

To their credit, they didn't press hard for more information. Alicia and Katie chatted it up with Hermione while the twins gave Ron a good-natured bit of harassment. Angelina and Oliver took me aside to discuss new Seeker strategies. There were all kinds of tricks and techniques Seekers could use to break up opposing team plays and trick their counterparts into making errors. I nodded along, but I wasn't planning to change my method. I just focussed on catching the snitch.

Eventually, the Quidditch team went off to see other friends and to engage in more revelry. More students came by just to say hello. Seamus, Dean, Neville, the Patil Twins, Lavender, and others. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. Judging by the looks on Ron and Hermione's faces, they felt the same way.

Eventually, the well-wishers thinned out, leaving the three of us to relax and enjoy the rest of the ride home. Ron and I debated the starting lineup of the Chudley Cannons vs Puddlemere United's roster while Hermione opened a book and tuned us out.

The compartment swayed and vibrated with the movements of the train while Ron became increasingly animated in the defence of his favorite Quidditch team. Hedwig glared at Scabbers as the rat burrowed through Ron's bag looking for food. I settled back in my seat and agreed with Ron's statements without giving them consideration. I was enjoying the final day in the wizarding world with his friends and wished this day didn't have to end.

After an hour or so, the Quidditch conversation turned to seekers and which team had the best recruits. I told Ron about the suggestions Oliver and Angelina had made and he seemed to agree that there was more to the position, but why mess up a winning strategy? Throughout this discussion, Hermione had yet to look up from her book.

Eventually, the food cart came around and I treated both my friends to an assortment of snacks. I needed to dispose of any Wizarding money before the Dursleys picked me up. The sight of a hand full of gold coins would not be something Uncle Vernon would overlook.

Hermione's snack choices were mostly fruit and pastries with a few Sugar Quills. Ron, on the other hand, had a pile of sugar laden snacks ranging from Chocolate Frogs to Cauldron Cakes to Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans. He was gnawing on a Licorice Wand while we discussed the Canons recent win.

"You know, the Daily Prophet say the Falcons might face relegation after losing to the Canons… but I don't see it." He stuffed more candy in his mouth, then continued, "Sure it was unexpected, but the Falcon's seeker crashed, and the backup was on probation." He paused only to swallow. "B'sides, there isn't really any team ready to step up and take their place."

Was Quidditch anything like football? How many leagues were there? And if losing to the Canons was a reason for relegation, why weren't the Canons relegated?

I asked, "Who makes the final decision?"

Ron shrugged, "Some ministry official in Games and Sports. The fans say it'll never happen, but the Prophet says otherwise." He bit into a Cauldron Cake, then said, "I say it all boils down to… Who do you believe?"


Ron and I both looked over at Hermione. "What?"

Hermione never even looked up from her book as she said, "Whom do you believe?"

Ron looked at me, then back at Hermione. "That's what I said."

Hermione put her book down, her eyebrows raised. "What you said was 'who do you believe'. The correct phrase is 'whom do you believe'."

Harry could sense the tension and confusion. Despite himself, he grinned. Here it comes… Ron was winding up.

Ron leaned forward and said, "What?"

Hermione straightened her back and closed her book. "No, Ronald. Not 'What'… Whom." She put a strong emphasis on the word 'whom'. Her eyebrows were raised, and her nose was in the air. This was the textbook definition of condescension.

Ron looked over at me once more and shook his head. "Maeves tits, Hermione –"

"Language!" Hermione cut him off and glared at him.

Ron glared right back. "The words mean the same thing, Hermione! They're completely interchangeable."

"No, they are not."

I could always tell when Hermione was fired-up because she would stop using contractions. She also tended to emphasise the last word of a sentence when she was making a point.

The cabin became uncomfortably tense as they stared at each other. Even Hedwig and Scabbers quieted down to see what would happen next. I shifted my eyes between my two friends wondering who would speak first.

Ron eventually spoke through clenched teeth, "I'm going to change."

He collected his clothes and stomped out of the compartment muttering to himself. As Ron closed the door behind him, Hermione began chuckling.

I stared a moment before saying, "You did that on purpose."

"Twenty points to Gryffindor!" She had a self-satisfied grin on her face, her eyes sparkling with amusement. "Honestly, after listening to the two of you discuss Quidditch for what seemed like an eternity, I decided to have a little fun for myself."

"So, grammar correction?" I couldn't help but grin. She had controlled the conversation completely. Once she decided to.

Hermione shrugged, "We all have our hobbies."

"Is it really Whom do you believe?"

She shrugged one shoulder. "Technically, yes. But in a casual sentence like that, either is acceptable." We both laughed.

Still grinning, she opened her book and began reading. I noted the title, 'Magical Creatures of Europe.' She was getting a head start on our third year's Care of Magical Creatures class. Always the Overachiever.

I decided to look at the photo album Hagrid had given me. This was too personal to look at around loads of other students, but it was just Hermione and the timing seemed right. One thing Hermione and I shared was the ability to sit together quietly and comfortably for hours without it seeming awkward. All we needed was something to read.

Before I pulled out my album, I needed to clean up a bit. I proceeded to collect the wrappers and empty bottles, discarding them to the rubbish bin. Scabbers was watching me intently, no doubt looking for his next meal.

After disposing of the rubbish, I collected and sorted my chocolate frog cards to clear a clean space. I had numerous new cards in today's batch of Chocolate Frogs, including a Witch who I'd never heard of.

"Hermione, have you ever heard of a witch named Beatrix Bloxam?"

In a distracted voice, Hermione said, "She wrote the Toadstool Tales. The books were banned because they made children vomit." Her eyes were still moving across the pages of her book.

"How can a book make people sick?"

Hermione took a deep breath and shrugged. "Magic, I suppose." She never looked up from her book. To this day I wonder how she was able to read and continue a conversation.

I continued sorting my cards… I now had seven Dumbledore and four Circe cards. A smattering of other duplicates… I don't know why I get so many Dumbledore cards.

Once finished, I placed the cards in my trunk and pulled out my photo album. When I look it over, I'm filled with a warmth that's hard to describe. Like last night, it was as if my parents were there with me, reading over my shoulder as I slowly turned the pages. Today feels the same way.

Time passed slowly as Hermione and I read peacefully in silence. The steady rhythm of the train causing my eyelids to feel heavy and my head to nod. I vaguely recall noticing that Ron had yet to return. Likely he was out socialising with other students from our year. He tended to walk about and distract himself when he and Hermione got into it. Or it was all the sugar he'd consumed. Hard to say.

After a few minutes, Hermione gasped and looked up. "Fascinating! Harry, did you know there's a species of magical cats that are commonly found all over Europe?"

"Magical cats?" No, I hadn't heard that before, but it sounded interesting.

I glanced at Hedwig and wondered who would want a magical cat when you could have an owl? A cat was better than Neville's toad, but a cat can't deliver the mail.

Hermione continued. "They're called Kneazles, and they have near human levels of intelligence." She was almost shaking with excitement. "It says here they can intuitively tell a person's character and intent."

I ran my fingers through my hair. "That could be useful."

Quirrell wouldn't have gotten so far if they'd had a warning of what he was up to. I was suddenly looking forward to the magical creature's class.

Hermione's excitement continued to build. "According to this, they're nearly twice the size of a normal house cat and they have a tuft of fur on the end of their tails similar to a lion." She looked up and shook her head. "How on earth is that kept a secret?"

I held out my hands and shrugged. "Probably the same way they hide all those owls' carrying letters."

So many things seemed hard to believe since my introduction to the magical world. Hermione set aside her book and began tapping her fingers together.

She said, "I've wondered about that as well. How do they hide so much of the magical world in plain sight? Surely someone would notice something." She paused for only a moment. "It seems likely someone would be observant enough to notice the multitude of unexplained phenomenon around Diagon alley. Then there's Kings Cross, with all the Hogwarts students wandering about with owls and other oddities."

I agreed wholeheartedly. "Right! Just getting to the platform should be enough to expose our world. I mean, we run through a solid wall! Some commuters would have to notice that."

"Possibly." After a moment of concentration, Hermione continued, "The Ministry has likely concealed the entrance through magical means. But even considering 'compulsion' and 'notice me not' charms, you'd think someone would take note of so many children walking about London with owls, cats, and toads."

"Obliviators." Said a familiar voice.

Hermione and I both looked up at the compartment door. Ron had returned and had been listening from the doorway.

Hermione asked, "What was that?"

Ron stood up straight and tall, his chin raised. "Obliviators. They work for the Ministry. Whenever a muggle sees something out of the ordinary, the Obliviator squad is called, and memories are altered."

He seemed to swell with pride. Ron did that whenever he knew something Hermione and I didn't. He enjoyed his position as our guide to the magical world.

Hermione recoiled, "That's barbaric!" Her mouth was hanging open.

Ron scoffed. "No, Hermione. Barbaric would be cursing the witnesses. A simple memory modification is safe and really quite humane."

I wasn't sure if Ron was putting us on. "Seriously, Ron? 'Obliviator squad'? It seems a bit extreme." The name alone sounded like something from 'The Princess Bride'.

"No one gets hurt, right?" Ron shrugged nonchalantly. "Really Harry, who do you think keeps the super-secret statute of secrecy… a secret?"

"Oh my god." Hermione rolled her eyes and shook her head.

Ron rolled his eyes back at her.

"Sooo sorry, Hermione. Whooooom, do you think keeps the secret a secret…"

I tried not to, but I laughed aloud. Ron was just one of those guys that could always get a laugh. Comedic timing.

Hermione brushed her hair out of her face. "No, Ronald. In this case, whom is not correct."

Ron flailed his arms about. "Then why are you having a conniption fit?" His eyes were wide open, and his cheeks were red.

Hermione huffed. "Calling the 'statute of secrecy' a secret is a Pleonasm."

"A Plenny what?" Ron recoiled and looked like he had smelled something foul. He then shook his head and laughed.

Hermione pursed her lips in irritation. "A pleonasm. The use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning." She held her palms up and raised her eyebrows. "Using the word secret repeatedly… To describe a secret…"

Ron's face was turning redder than a tomato and his lips drew taut. I knew this was the moment that prefaced a blowup. It was a small miracle he hadn't exploded during the who-whom conversation, but an explosion now was a certainty. I decided not to be here when it happened.

"I better get changed." I grabbed my clothes and left the compartment. As the door shut, I heard my friends begin to go 'at it'.


Walking to a lavatory, I waited for other boys to change before it was my turn. I set my clothes beside the sink and decided to take my time. Hermione and Ron would lose interest in their argument soon enough. Usually, Ron would just sulk and Hermione would bury herself in a book. If I took my time, everything would be fine when I returned.

I removed my robes and hung them up. The trousers I grabbed were the best of what I had, but they were huge. The knees were scuffed, and they were too long. I had to roll up the cuffs, but not as much as expected. The small hole on the left knee and a threadbare spot on the right wouldn't be noticed. Yes, they were baggy, but I could make this work.

I'd gained weight since last September and my belt no longer fit. Uncle Vernon had drilled a hole in Dudley's old belt for me, but now it was too tight. The closest standard hole was six inches away and that wouldn't keep the pants up. Fortunately, I had planned for this. I used a rope Hagrid had given me to tie the pants up and keep them from dropping to my ankles. Not a stylish solution, but the problem had been solved.

Next, I put on one of the tee shirts I'd inherited from Dudley. It was an old and faded Manchester football tee shirt. A series of faint stains highlighted the memories of the past meals my cousin had eaten. Spaghetti and greasy food permanently etched on the front, but worse was the discoloration under the arms. Seriously, how much did Dudley sweat?

The tee shirt repulsiveness was easily solved with a flannel shirt layered over it. A bit warm for June, but it covered up the embarrassing shirt. I folded the sides and tucked it in to make it look less like a tent. It had patches on the elbows, bit no holes. One of the collars was damaged and missing its tip, but you'd have to look close to see it. Several of the buttons were cracked or broken, but salvageable. It looked like Dudley had gotten into a fight while wearing it.

At least I could wear the black shoes Hogwarts required. The sneakers I'd inherited were so bad I threw them out long ago.

Looking in the mirror, I realized how sad I looked in these clothes compared to the standard uniform at Hogwarts. Well, there was nothing I could do about it now, so… onward and upward. Time to go back to my compartment and rejoin my friends.

I exit the lavatory and begin heading down the aisle when I saw three familiar faces. Pansy Parkinson was a petite girl with sharp features and had an upturned nose. She wasn't ugly, but she somehow resembled a pug with her nose and all. Tracy Davis had light brown hair and had always seemed nice, despite her house. She was pretty and well liked even outside of her house. Finally, there was Daphne Greengrass, the ice queen of Slytherin. Tall, blonde, and cold. Yes, she was very striking for a first year, but so cold and intimidating, even Seamus had decided to stay away from her.

I suddenly realised an obvious fact I'd forgotten. Gryffindor had stolen the House Cup from Slytherin, and Slytherin wasn't happy about it. Not one bit.

I gave a half-hearted smile as they slowly approached. Pansy scowled back and her face became even more pug-like. No, they were not happy to see me.

I hesitated a moment, wondering what would happen. But no, these girls weren't Draco and his two goons. They might not be my biggest fans, but they weren't going to start throwing curses around. In fact, I can't remember interacting with any of them all year. Well, maybe Pansy. Hermione hated her, but I can't remember why. I vaguely recall she'd said something offensive in our first flying lesson, but I can't remember what.

Deciding to ignore them, I stare off past them and continue walking slowly on the left side of the aisle. Just before we passed one another, Pansy stepped into my path. We're about the same height and her malevolent eyes lock onto mine.

I took a half step back as the girls come to a halt. I wasn't sure what to say, but Pansy had no such hesitation.

"Feeling proud, Potter? After your big win?" She said with a sneer.

"Yes I am. Quite proud, actually." I just wanted to get through this.

Pansy leaned forward into my space. "You shouldn't be. It was a shameful way to win the cup." The girls behind her were nodding in agreement.

I fired back at them. "We earned it!"

She crossed her arms and tilted her head. "No, you didn't. You and your Gryffindor friends are just a bunch of cheaters. One hundred and seventy points in the last second given by a biased headmaster.

"We absolutely earned those points!" How dare she!

All three girls were laughing now. This was not a kind or happy laugh. They were mocking me, just like Dudley and his gang used to.

Pansy shifted her head and cut her eyes. "Longbottom got points for standing up to his friends."

"Neville deserved every point he got!" I stood proud and glared back at her.

Tracey shook her head and said, "For standing up to your friends? Are you kidding me?" she held her hands out. "That happens every day, Potter! It's called life."

I struggled to produce a response. "Well… Snape takes away points from Neville for breathing too hard! Does that make sense?"

Tracey waved a hand under her face, "He huffs and puffs over the fumes of a brewing potion! Controlled breathing is basic potions safety and he's too stupid to follow it."

I never thought about that.

Pansy added, "Maybe Longbottom has a death wish." She now looked amused in a mean-spirited way. Professor Snape should just do us all a favour and let him die.

"Come off it! Snape is just a bully!" My voice was raised. "All he had to do was tell Neville not to breath over his potion. Instead, he used it as a way to humiliate him."

Pansy had a half smile now. "Longbottom's ten points aren't even that bad. Ten points on its own wouldn't make a difference. Not really."

She then said, "Hermione Granger got fifty points for the use of cool logic. What in Hades does that even mean? Logic? How is that different from just thinking through things? And what is 'Cool Logic'?"

I struggled with answering. Hermione got me through the potions challenge. Without her, I never would have reached Quirrell.

I said, "It means she's brilliant. Hermione's the smartest witch in our year. Top marks!" There, find fault with that.

Pansy stuck out her tongue and made a raspberry. Somehow, that vulgar image seemed to fit her.

"There are seven other years, Potter! No one else got points for getting top marks. Not second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh years. Nothing for OWL or NEWT scores, either. Your answer just proves my point."

I didn't know what to say about that. What could I say without betraying Dumbledore?

She held up a finger. "But enough with the top, let's look at the bottom." She then turned her finger downward as she said 'bottom'. "Ronald Weasley got fifty points for the best-played game of chess—"

"It was!" I shouted back at her. My outrage seemed to amuse her, and I knew I'd been played. She smirked and turned to Tracey.

Tracey said, "Gemma Farley is captain of the chess team. She went undefeated this year and one of her matches had over seventy moves. Do you have any idea how impressive that was?" She paused for a moment, then asked, "Do you think she won any points? Nope. Not a single point."

I staired at Tracey, searching for the right response, but had none.

She continued. "Gemma's also a Slytherin. Are you seeing the pattern here?"

I took in the three girls. Two were looking for an argument, but the third was hard to read. Through it all, Daphne Greengrass hadn't said a word. She just watched, as calm and cool as ice.

Enough is enough, I shifted to the right and tried to walk around them. Pansy side-stepped into my path. She leaned in close, and I could feel her breath on my face.

"Then there's you. Harry Potter, the Boy who Lived."

"Get out of my way!" I said through clenched teeth.

Pansy shouted, "Sixty Points! Sixty points for outstanding courage!" She scoffed and shook her head. "What did you do that was so courageous? You don't seem so brave now."

I grit my teeth and consider cursing her. I should charge ahead and knock her on her bum.

Tracey said, "As near as we can tell, all you did and your friends did was break a bunch of rules and steal something like a common thief."

Pansy lowered her voice and said, "Sixty. Bloody. Points."

That's when I saw how wet her eyes were. This was personal. As I prepared to burst through them, Pansy stepped aside.

She put her hands on her hips and said, "Draco was right about you. Go back and celebrate your win. Such as it was. Next year will be different, Potter. Very different."

I glared at her and walked past when Daphne Greengrass stepped in my way. I paused and look at her. She's taller than me and I find myself staring at her chin. Is she wearing high heels? Her skin is flawless, and her hair was perfect. She was easily one of the prettiest girls in our year. Her robes were far more fashionable than the school robes, this was how she looked outside of school. She hadn't spoken and even now she didn't look angry. But was she?

Before I could say anything, her eyes traveled from my feet to the top of my head. I now knew what she was doing. She casually raised her eyebrows and smirked.

I'd just been judged.

In a calm voice, she said, "Interesting outfit. I had always heard the Potters were rather affluent." She chuckled softly, then said, "Sadly, it appears that's no longer the case."

Pansy snorted and said, "You look like a vagrant!"

Daphne placed her perfectly manicured index finger on her chin. "Maybe we should call you… Harry Pauper."

All three girls now laughed. Pansy was shrieking obnoxiously. I should just barrel through the bitch. Knock her out of the way… but I can't bring myself to.

Pansy's insults had been brutal, but nothing I couldn't handle. Daphne's method was so much crueler. It was personal and I didn't know how to defend against it. She had calmly and condescendingly stripped me down and humiliated me. We locked eyes and there was a familiar sparkle that I recognised whenever Dudley and his gang had beaten me. It was the sparkle of victory. She had put me in my place. Beneath her shoe. She gracefully stepped aside and cleared my path.

I was dismissed.

I quickly moved past them as Pansy continued to laugh. Slytherins! They wouldn't know true friendship if it struck them in the face! I have loyal friends.

I no longer wanted to see anyone. More accurately, I didn't want anyone to see me. I hurried back to my compartment thinking of all the witty comebacks I wish I had said. I was careful to avoid looking into any other compartments I passed along the way. I got back to my friends and felt a tremendous relief. I looked at Hermione as she turned a page of her book.

She must have left after me and changed clothes. She looked nice. She was wearing a pretty sweater and designer blue jeans. She wore a gold necklace with a pendant. She looked stylish. She was dressed like the girls in muggle school with well-to-do parents. Given that both of her parents are dentists, her family really was well-to-do.

Hermione looked up and smiled. The smile faltered slightly as her eyes lingered on the rope, I used in lieu of a belt. I'm suddenly very aware of every patch and stain on the clothes I'm wearing.

Her eyes met mine for the briefest of moments and she gave me a small smile, then she looked back at the book in her lap.

In the moment we locked eyes; I saw something far worse than the judgmental look Daphne Greengrass gave me. It was the same look adults around Little Whinging had when they first saw me. With my broken glasses and second-hand clothes.


Hermione's too nice to say anything, but her awkward silence says it all. She sat there in her nice clothes, pretending not to notice I'm dressed in second-hand rags. My cheeks flush as I stood there ashamed and self-conscious. I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other and took my seat.

Ron's talking about something, I nod along but I don't really hear him. I'm too busy trying to regain my dignity. Clothes are just what we wear. They don't define whose are. Nobody cares… right? If wearing Dudley's cast offs don't matter, why am I feeling so lousy?

My first year in the magical world was ending, and the last wonderful hour of my triumphant return had been taken from me. Hopefully, no one will come visiting our compartment. I don't want to be seen in these rags. I pick at a broken button on my cuff. If I roll the sleeves up a little higher, no one will notice.

Is there a charm to make the clothes fit better? Next year I can search for one.

At least my glasses were fixed.


Author's Notes:

I'm currently struggling with a chapter of my Casting Shadows story and thought this one-shot would break me out of my rut. I plan to begin publishing the Unrepentant story as soon as I'm further along in Casting Shadows, but this is a nice one-shot prologue. It was my first time writing in first person and I hope you enjoyed it. Constructive feedback is appreciated.

As for this story, I always thought Dumbledore made a huge mistake the way he assigned points at the end of the year. I do think he was simply reversing McGonagall's ridiculous punishment, but there had to be a better way to do it. JKR took a bit of a short cut here to give a happy ending. Or maybe this was her plan all along-Disharmony between the houses.

Pansy, Tracey, and Daphne will be returning in the Unrepentant story that takes place about twenty years after the war. I don't see these girls as evil and frankly, they had a right to be mad. Girls fight quite different than boys and Harry was caught unprepared and had his rear end handed to him.

Pansy is a major pain, but the other two aren't so bad. Tracey was an ambitions girl, but in my stories, she's nice. Daphne was a snobby and elitist girl, but the war has a humanizing effect on her. Everyone grows up and humility tends to come with maturity.

That's all for now – Thanks.