September 1, 1989
"Go on, have a bite," said the dreadlocked boy.
"Aye, go for it!" called one of the red-haired twins.
Demeter turned around, curious. Hadn't it been their older brother who was speaking for them, telling them they couldn't have sweets because they'd be at Hogwarts soon? Something didn't quite add up.
Pfftech! Something went flying across the car, sticking to an opposing window.
Raising her eyebrows, Demeter Vanished the gunk, while the dark-skinned girl angrily picked up her suitcase and stormed out of the car, over the boys' muddled apologies.
"They do mean every flavor," Demeter unnecessarily informed them, as she moved onto the next car.
June 22, 1991
"Er, ma'am, is this the holidays?"
Identical twins in and of themselves did not unnerve her, but the way they spoke with the exact same intonation rather did. Even the same stammer at the beginning. Surely they had to plan it out?
"I...suppose?" she shrugged.
"Only," one of them began while the other glared at him, "we're not in the Muggle world yet, we're still on the train, and you're a witch and all. Really you wouldn't say the holidays have properly started yet until we're on the other side of the King's Cross barrier. Would you?"
"Er, no," she said distractedly.
"Brilliant!" he grinned, and the other smiled nervously. "And since the holidays haven't started yet, that means we can still do magic!"
"Why don't you get back to your—" she began, but the other twin cast a charm that seemed like an attempt to conjure a Quaffle and instead produced a red, soggy mess. As she Vanished it, the other opened the nearby window.
That was the problem with twins.
September 1, 1991
"Hullo. Have you seen my toad? He is small and green."
"No, I'm sorry," said Demeter, pushing the cart a little further.
"Oi, George, give me the tarantula back."
"Don't look at me, Fred had it."
"Quit joking, I gave it to you."
"But that means—"
"STOP THE CART!" bellowed a voice from behind, and three from in front of, Demeter. She froze, but as her momentum carried her forward, stepped to the left. The front of the cart swung right. One of the twins jumped to the floor and groped at something, missing and almost hitting Demeter's foot. As she stepped forward, the other one had to get out of the way of the cart. As the dreadlocked boy nonchalantly plucked something from off a nearby seat, the small boy froze in a corner as if petrified.
"It's all right," called the dreadlocked one, now cupping something in his hands. "He wouldn't have eaten your toad, I don't think, lookit, his mouth isn't that big." He dumped it in a box he had tucked under his arm. "Right, then."
June 19, 1993
"Two knaves…pair! Two ladies…pair! Two…"
Demeter raised her eyebrows as she entered the compartment. Not those twins again. A couple of their siblings left school and all they got was a couple more. Younger, more impressionable ones.
"Anything off the cart?" she echoed monotonously, glaring at the little girl.
"No, thanks," said a brown-haired girl. Not related, she didn't think.
Seeing her stare, one of the twins said, "It's all right, ma'am, we were just putting the cards away."
"We were?" said the other one.
"Yeah. Of course we were. These fireworks aren't going to light themselves."
Even once she'd hustled two cars down, Demeter could still hear the explosions, and shivered. At least she couldn't smell them.
September 1, 1993
The train slowed to a halt. Outside, the wind and rain grew ever stronger. Almost there, yes, but had they really arrived? Something felt off.
The lights went out. Demeter shivered—yes, she'd been told to expect the guards, but did they have to make so dramatic an entrance? She could hear the students muttering. Well, it saved her having to deal with the class of '96 any longer, but at what cost?
The door opened and immediately the car fell cold. The chill deepened all around her—I'm larger than the students, she dimly thought, they think I'm the threat. "Just an old lady with her candy," she said, her voice sounding fainter than she'd expected.
Another few but prolonged moments of chill and damp, and then the Dementor had left.
Rustling noises from the seats. She considered casting Lumos but decided against it—the Dementors had a criminal to hunt down. Better to let them be about their business. Sure enough, the lights came back on in time.
She glanced around the car, taking stock of her stock. "All right, you two," she said, glaring at the twins. "Cough up."
"What?" one burst, indignantly. "We didn't make that—that thing."
"Of course not," she said. "But you did nick some Chocolate Frogs from the cart in the dark. Hand them over."
July 3, 1995
"Evanesco," Demeter murmured, Vanishing the Chocolate Frog wrappers that littered the car. For once, she didn't mentally scold the children who had already disembarked. In times like those, chocolate could sometimes be just the thing.
As she stepped towards the next compartment, she froze. Three students were lying on the floor, unconscious and covered in hex marks. "Finite!" she repeated. "Episkey! Rennervate! Oh, you poor dears, what happened?"
"Those gits," drawled one of them as they stood up, pointing towards the next car. "Potter and his Gryffindor lackeys."
Eyes narrowing, Demeter flung open the door, only to catch a glimpse of the red-haired twins leaping onto the platform beyond.
June 29, 1996
The cart was stuck.
The front wheels seemed to be working fine, granted, and she could hold it up like a wheelbarrow. Even the back right one worked all right. But put it on all four wheels and the thing refused to budge. Propping it up, she trundled through the door of the next car.
"Are you all right?" one girl asked.
"No, I'm not!" she grunted, dropping the cart entirely. "This wheel is stuck and it won't move! Those infernal twins have to be behind this somehow, I just know it."
"You mean the Weasley twins?" called a girl from across the compartment. "Can't be them, they dropped out of school."
Demeter blinked. "You mean… they're not on the train?" she managed to blurt.
Demeter was dazed. After all of the hijinks she had been forced to tolerate, she was stymied by something they had absolutely nothing to do with? And the last she'd seen of them would have been...not Easter, not Christmas. Just the trip down at the beginning of the year, and they'd positively behaved then! Although she never would have admitted it, it made a disappointing anticlimax.
"It's just a bum wheel, I get those all the time at the grocery store," said the girl who had spoken first. "Here, let me give you a hand."