Magic. Even the whisper, even the thought of the word filled her with an an incredible sense of wonder, and an overwhelming, almost unbearable feeling of rightness. Magic. There was no denying it, not ever anymore. She was magic, she belonged in magic. She wasn’t some freak of nature, a token of bad luck, like the kids at home had said. She wasn’t entirely sure what she was now, but none of that mattered anyway.
Magic was real.
She smiled softly and sighed against the train window, her breath enchanting a mist across the once clear glass. She sighed again, this time to herself, and wiped away the fog. Just as she’d expected, her mum had left. She reminded herself that it didn’t matter, and she ran her hand across her wand, eight-and-a-half inches of pine and dragon heartstring.
She was startled out of her thoughts by a knocking on the door. “Can I come in?”
It was a boy. He was rather pale and thin, and if she squinted just enough, she might’ve been able to make out some faded scratches across his cheeks.
“Um, yeah, sure.” she said, not completely comfortable.
His shoulders sagged in relief. “Thanks. M’name’s Remus Lupin. What’s yours?”
“Remus, like the twin brother of Romulus?” He nodded. “Oh! Well, my name’s Melanie. Melanie Thorne.“ she hesitated, and then continued. “So, did you grow up with magic?”
“Yeah.” Lupin said with a small grin. “I’m a half-blood. You?”
She shook her head. “Both my parents were norm-” She froze. ”Non-magical, I mean. Sorry, but I don’t quite remember what the word we’re meant to use is.”
“That’s it, muggle. Where’d that name come from, anyway?”
Remus started for a second, then stopped. “I’m not sure I know, to be honest. We should look it up sometime.”
Melanie stared at him for a moment, suddenly so deeply grateful that he’d said “we,” not “you” or “I.”
Remus looked at her analyzingly. “So, what house d’you reckon you’ll get into?"
"Well, I’ve only got what I’ve read in Hogwarts: A History to go on, but I think I’d do well in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff.”
He nodded in agreement. “Ravenclaw sounds interesting to me too. My dad was in Gryffindor though, so I might end up there.”
“What does that have anything to do with-“
The compartment door slid open gracefully, and an older girl leaned in, looking over at them with a critical eye. She turned back behind her. Melanie shuddered at the contempt in her eyes, and Lupin looked worriedly at her. “First years.” The words felt like a death sentence, a doom accentuated by the parade of emerald and black that soon filled the compartment.
“Your names.” The first girl, who boasted a head of black curls and couldn’t have been older than third year herself looked pointedly at Remus, her statement clearly a command.
He coughed awkwardly to clear his throat. “Lupin.”
“Hmmph. Halfblood.” Next she turned her grey-black eyes to Melanie “And you,” she smiled unpleasantly, “Little girl?”
“Thorne? As in Altrusious Thorne, the dragon tamer?”
Remus shot her a warning look, which she disregarded. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Then who are--Oh no, don’t tell me. You’re a mudblood aren’t you? Of course. It would be a little mudblooded firstie soiling our compartment.” The girl sneered and then began to turn back to the wall of black behind her.
The girl turned back around sharply, eyes flashing madly and wand extended so that the point was digging into her throat, cutting off her air supply. “Nobody here told you,” she jabbed the wand in a little further and Melanie let out a little choked gasp, “That you could open your filthy little mouth, did they?” Melanie desperately shook her head, hating how much fear she was sure was showing on her face.
“Get out!” The girl spat, very nearly literally, into Melanie’s face. She scrambled to her feet, reaching her hand out desperately behind her, silently relieved when she felt a warm rough hand slide into hers. Together Remus and Melanie fled the compartment.
“What’s a mudblood?” Her voice was almost silent in their new compartment, a whisper that filled the space more than she thought it could’ve.
“It’s not something you should worry about.” Remus’s voice was stronger than before. A little startled, she raised her head up, just enough to meet his eyes for the first time since they’d left the compartment. “It’s a horrible word that horrible people like them use to describe people they don’t even know, and should-“
“Those absolutely awful boys! How dare they!” Remus was cut off by the sudden opening of the compartment door, and a furious looking girl with bright red hair storming in. She stopped almost as abruptly as she'd began, and a small boy with black hair stumbled into her from behind. “I’m sorry, we didn’t mean to intrude. We’ll-“
“Why are your hands shaking?” The boy behind the redhead asked this almost accusingly.
“Severus!” The redhead’s face was almost as bright as her hair. “I am so terribly sorry, we’ll be going now-”
“Oh, it’s alright.” Melanie’s voice was steady, and her hands were now balled in to fists on her lap. “We’re okay with you staying here, if you’d like.” She hesitated for a second, glancing at Remus, but he nodded back, letting her know it was alright. She liked Remus, he was very kind.
“Oh, thank God.” The redhead held out her hand, which was promptly shaken by both Remus and Melanie. “I’m Lily Evans. This here is Severus.” She sat herself down next to Lupin. The boy, Severus, sat himself down next to Melanie, obviously more reluctant to stay. Something about the look he gave her reminded her unpleasantly of the curly haired girl in the first compartment, and she shivered slightly.
“I’m Remus, and this is Melanie. We’re first years. I suppose you two are as well?”
“Yes, we are. This is all terribly exciting, don’t you think? I’m worried that I won’t be able to keep up with all the work, but Sev says that he’ll help me if I need it. I’m a muggleborn so I’m not quite as familiar with all of this as you are.”
“I’m a muggleborn too.” Melanie’s voice rose just enough to be heard over the end of Lily’s.
“You are?” Lily was stunned for a second, and Melanie grew more and more terrified of what she was going to say, until finally Lily’s face broke into a gigantic grin. “That’s brilliant! I was so afraid that I was going to be the only one. What do you think of all this, then?”
Melanie’s shoulders relaxed, and the two of them and Remus kept up a lively conversation all the rest of the way to Hogwarts. The black haired boy sneered but said nothing.
Hogwarts was beautiful. There was nothing else to say. There could be nothing else to say. Melanie sat in the boat—the magical boat—with Remus and Lily and Severus, all equally silent around her.
Suddenly, she couldn’t understand how she had ever gotten on without knowing magic was real before. Suddenly her world was making much more sense that she’d ever imagined it could before. Suddenly there was Hogwarts, glowing with life and fire and a sense of home and magic, magic like she couldn’t comprehend. And, suddenly, she felt so small.
Who was she to think that she could be worthy of magic? What was so special about her that her ordinary, normal life had to be ruined forever by this brilliantly beautiful place? What was she now?
Melanie didn’t know that she was feeling all these things, but she was, only these sort of thoughts tend to get mixed up and muddled in an eleven year old’s mind. This certainly wouldn’t be the last time she’d feel like this, and she would begin to understand it with time, but Hogwarts would always be where it began.
There was something about Professor McGonagall that Melanie knew she would always trust. She was stern and brisk and mildly terrifying, but Melanie didn’t mind all that much. Professor McGonagall was magic, and she must’ve been very good at it if she was the deputy headmistress of the entire school, so Melanie liked her right away. She followed her without question, marvelling at the old stone walls of the ancient castle.
The Great Hall held four long tables. The sea of students in black robes was comforting. She was one of them now. Either they were all special, or they were all normal, herself included. Melanie wasn't entirely sure which one it was, but she tried not to bother herself too much with thinking about it.
On a stool at the front of the hall sat a raggedy old hat. Melanie recognised it as the Sorting Hat straight away. She gripped Remus's hand in excitement, as talking seemed inappropriate. He glanced down at her and smiled, squeezing back. The hat opened its mouth, and, despite knowing what the hat was, she was too amazed to pay attention to it its song. (She was disappointed that she hadn't and was even more disappointed later on to find out that there were no readily available records of the Sorting Hat's song. She was sure that the hat had included some integral piece of advice in its song, which she had missed out on.)
"Roland Acarin." McGonagall's voice broke through her amazed musings, and so the sorting began.
Most of it passed in a blur of unfamiliar faces and names she'd never remember. Little bits of it did stand out, like the ones who sat with the hat on their heads for a painstakingly long amount of time, or the boy near the beginning, who'd been sorted into Gryffindor, but had been received with a strange sort of stillness, rather than the raucous applause awarded to the other new students. Of the four names she did know, herself included, Lily was the first. Melanie was happy for Lily, because she was sure Lily could do well in Gryffindor, although she knew Lily had wanted to be in Slytherin, and had privately thought that she'd be better off in Ravenclaw. But she shrugged and continued watching. Remus was next, and again, she privately mourned the fact that she was probably not cut out for Gryffindor, and that therefore she would never speak to her new friends ever again. But she felt extremely glad when Remus turned to her and smiled before darting off to the Gryffindor table. Severus was sorted into Slytherin, which was alright with her, so long as she didn't end up in Slytherin as well, as she didn't like him half as much as Lily did.
Melanie though it was an ugly name, but no one stepped forward to claim it. Silence filled the hall. Then, a smattering of giggles. Then silence again as Professor McGonagall called out once more.
Melanie sighed qietly to herself, and, after a brief apologetic glance to a confused Remus, stepped forward.