What are you waiting for, Charlotte? You're about to be late!" My chaperone Marlee exclaimed impatiently.
In front of me was the large brick column that led to Platform 9 and 3 quarters. It also led to my future in Hogwarts, and as a witch.
I grew up in the country in Wyoming. Yes, in America, not England, or even Europe. I was supposed to go to Ilvermorny for my education, and I did, for four years. I am a fifth year now, obviously, but this time, I was not granted permission to go to my school.
You see, I am not a normal witch. My magic is what my teachers called "unstable", and "potentially dangerous." During my time at Ilvermorny, I struggled to keep the violent surges of magic under control, but nothing could bridle it. I could complete complex and energy-draining spells with ease, but the smallest little enchantments and everyday charms could end up disastrous. I survived my first three years in Ilvermorny, and not anything bad had really happened, just a a few normal mistakes for a young witch. Ok, I admit, there were many mishaps along the way, but nothing really considered dangerous.
Until one dreadful day.
But I would rather not think about that right now.
It's time to go to Hogwarts. Hogwarts, my saving grace, the only school what would risk housing me after my horrible past.
With my chaperone by my side, I lunged against my cart full of wizarding luggage, closed my eyes, and opened them again to see it.
The train's engine was starting, and steam started to pour over the brim of the Hogwarts Express's funnel.
We both leaped into the nearest car before the magical doors could close in our faces, and heaved up our luggage after us.
Inside were children of all ages, and train attendants strolling up and down the aisles with carts full of snacks. As the train started to shove off, Marlee led me through the rows of children, and I could not help but notice how many stared after me. I guessed they recognized that I was new.
Marlee found us a separate cabin in the back of the train, away from suspicious eyes. She proceeded to tell me even more about the history of Hogwarts, and things I should know about the children and teachers before I went. You see, Marlee was a seventh year at Hogwarts, and knew basically everything. It was a good thing the school board assigned her to me. I couldn't imagine going to Hogwarts now, amongst other more experienced fifth years without her guidance. She was also so patient and encouraging, and she even kept a straight face when she first heard my extremely out-of-place American accent. She was in the Ravenclaw house, so it wasn't a surprise that she was so accepting of me. I hoped dearly that the Sorting Hat would put me into the same house as her.
After an hour or so, and a few chocolate frogs, the Hogwarts Express stopped with a jerk that nearly sent me flying into Marlee's lap across from me.
I can't remember walking out of the train. It was all an unintelligible blur. All I can recall is the first time I ever saw Hogwarts as I jumped off the train.
It was a beautiful old castle, still glorious even after the battle that occurred there only two decades ago. I knew the story of Harry Potter well at this point. I knew that his three children, Lily, Albus, and James went to Hogwarts. I also knew that his son, Albus Severus Potter, was a fifth year this year as well. As a gazed wondrously at my new home, I knew in the back of my mind that it would be an interesting year. Even if no Death Eaters came to school, it would be interesting enough going to a school where people talked much differently.
I didn't join the main crowd, which I was most thankful for. Instead, my chaperone Marlee led me into the headmistress's office, where I could have a private conversation with Minerva McGonagall, and be sorted into my house before the first years had to use the Hat.
As we walked, I strained my head around to see all of the castle that we were passing. Marlee had to continually yank my hand forward to keep me from stopping and staring at various relics and beautiful moving paintings. Before I knew it, we were at the door.
The door creaked open, and a tall, old witch welcomed me in, and motioned for Marlee to move on to her other duties with the first years.
Inside, I couldn't help but immediately start wondering around, looking at all of the deceased headmaster's - Dumbledore's - gadgets and random inventions. In fact, it took me a minute or so to remember what I was here for, and then I immediately jumped, and shamefully turned towards my new headmistress, McGonagall.
Surprisingly enough, she did not look irritated. She instead looked at me thoughtfully, and even smiled a bit, and the wrinkles on her face deepened, as if recalling a similar experience from long ago.
"Greetings, Miss Charlotte Greenleaf. I am glad you enjoy Dumbledore's old relics, but time is ticking."
I nodded my head, and quickly apologized for my daydreaming.
The professor waved her frail hand in dismissal. "Oh, don't you worry now. It's only to be expected, transitioning like you did. Just make sure you don't do anything of the sort in class. You could got poisoned." McGonagall c***ed an eyebrow at me.
"I suspect you are anxious to be sorted."
I smiled brightly, and nodded at my new headmistress.
McGonagall smiled one of her reserved smiles, and scurried over to the nearest shelf, where a worn, grimy, dusty old wizard's hat rested. She walked back over to me with it in her arms, and before I could react, the hat opened its dusty mouth, and spoke.
"Oh my! We have never gone this early. I haven't perfected my new song!" The Sorting Hat wailed.
"No need to fret, Hat. This girl is going to be sorted backstage. Your performance is still yet to come, and I believe it will be quite magnificent!" Headmistress McGonagall said briskly.
"You are definitely right, m'lady. I don't mean to disappoint. But before I sort this lone girly, would you mind telling me her name?"
I drew myself out of my silent state, and spoke.
"Charlotte Greenleaf. My name is Charlotte."
"Ok then. Minerva, would you mind doing the honors?"
Minerva nodded, and lifted the enormous hat to my head. I could hear it's voice inside my head as it thought.
"Hmmm. You have a harsh background. You must be so brave... Gryffindor sounds pretty good, but you also have a lot of ambition..."
Oh please say Ravenclaw... I thought.
"Ah, I see you want to be with your friend, don't you? If she was your age, and able to be with you your entire Hogwarts experience, I would sort you into Rowena's house. But she is not... Oh dear I am very conflicted... And you would be so much better off with Gryffindor or Slytherin."
My heart sank.
"Please don't do that to me, Charlotte. I'm just doing my job!"
There was a sudden pause in the Hat's chattering.
Startling me, the Sorting Hat shouted out loud.
Later that evening, I sat down at the Slytherin table, with all the other students my age. The first years had just been sorted, and the feast had just begun.
As I reached for a second helping of soup, I saw a few people on the opposite side of the table whisper, and turn to me.
"You're new, aren't you?" A blonde-haired girl said.
"Yes." I answered, maintaining my accent as well as I could. "I used to go to Ilvermorny."
Might as well get the big secrets over with.
"Whoa! I have never met someone from Ilvermorny!" The girl's eyes lit up, and much of the Slytherin table turned to me.
"Why did you come here?" Another girl asked.
"My parents found a job with the ministry over here." I lied. "They wanted me to be as close to them as possible."
"Interesting." A white haired boy said. "I don't think you have told us your name?" The boy looked friendly enough. He had bright eyes, high cheekbones, and a brilliant smile that would light up your day, however bad it might be.
"Charlotte." I said, smiling back. "Since I'm new and all, would you guys mind introducing yourselves?"
"Scorpius Malfoy." The white-haired boy said quickly.
I tried not to show any surprise. This boy was the son of Draco Malfoy, who was involved with Voldemort and the Dark Lord from a young age. How had I not noticed? He was the spitting image of his father, but with a more cheerful and innocent air. Draco had turned from his ways, but still, I felt like I was talking to legend, and a very intimidating legend at that. But I chided myself. I might as well treat every other Slytherin as a villain - Slytherin had a dark history in nearly everything.
"Danielle Trevor, but just call me Dani." The blonde girl said eagerly.
The whole entire table proceeded to tell me their names, and I was dumbstruck. They told me of all sorts of things they had experienced in Hogwarts, and even gave me advice. By all that I had been told, Slytherins were supposed to be the most unfriendly bunch in Hogwarts. But right now, they were proving all I had known utterly wrong. I decided to think bluntly again bring this up.
"All the people in England that I know have told me that you all are supposed to be rude, and you know, cliquey." I said hesitatingly, completely changing the current subject of quidditch.
"We get that a lot." Scorpius said, apparently unfazed. "Our house used to have tons of links to the Death Eaters, no surprise people say that. Besides, you're one of us now. We wouldn't ever reject one of our own." Scorpius said as-matter-of-factly.
Many of the other fifth years nodded in assent.
Maybe Hogwarts wouldn't be as harsh as I thought it would.