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Train Ride

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Pansy stepped out onto the platform with a sigh. It was Christmas hols, which she should be excited about, but she really would rather not be going home. It was always lonely there, just her mother and her and the house elves, since her father tended to be abroad for work. And even though her mother would be there, she was usually too busy with her social life to pay much attention to Pansy.

Well, this would be the last Christmas hols she’d have to stay there. At the end of the semester, she’d be graduated and could get a job and move out. She was considering going to Paris, or maybe Milan. The wizarding fashion world was far more involved there than England.

She made her way to one of the alleys frequently used as a disapparition spot by those coming to or from the train, grateful it seemed like everyone else had already gone. Seh’d gotten her apparition licence just a few months before, so she’d opted to get home on her own rather than have her mother send one of the house elves to fetch her as usual. It felt like a good step on her path to independence.

Setting her trunk down, Pansy patted her pockets, looking for her wand so she could disapparate. Except she kept patting her pockets, and she wasn’t finding anything.

“Oh bugger,” she whispered, feeling like a bucket of cold water had suddenly been upended on her head.

Frantically, she thrust her hands into every pocket of her robes, hoping that she’d just somehow missed it. But it wasn’t there. She unlocked her trunk, tossing things around without a thought to how her nice robes would be wrinkled or how her charms book landed with the pages splayed out. The only thought in her head was finding her wand.

By the time she was scrapping the bottom of the trunk for the second time, she knew it was useless. Her wand was nowhere to be found. Which meant she wouldn’t be able to apparate, or do anything else to help herself for that mattter.

She shoved everything back into the trunk and sat on top of it in a daze, wondering what on earth she would do. She tried to remember if she’d had her wand on the train, but the last place she remembered seeing it was on her bedside table as she packed her trunk to leave. IT was probably still there.

“Bugger,” she repeated, more forecefully this time. It was better than crying, which was honestly what she felt like doing right now. “I’ve got to… figure something out.”

She took a deep breath, pushing away all the panicky emotions, just like she’d been taught at a properly bred pureblood lady. It helped clear her mind, giving her room to think rationally. She needed to get back to Hogwarts to get her wand so she could get home. That needed to be goal number one.

The other obvius option, which might actually be easier, was to get home so her mother — or, more likely, one of the house elves — could take her back to Hogwarts. But that would mean admitting she’d so carelessly left her wand behind. And it would mean spending all of hols with her mother looking disappointedly at her. Well, more disappointedly.

Pansy stared at the nearby train schedules, wondering if she’d be able to take one of them to where she needed to go. They wouldn’t take her to Hogwarts obviously, but there was also no way to get to the Hogwarts Express now either. Her only choice was to get as close as possible by muggle means.

Not that she really knew how that worked, she realized. Why were there so many platforms to choose from? There was so much on the schedule board that she was getting more than a little overwhelmed. Would it be best to take the one to Newburgh? Or perhaps the one to Iverness?

Hogsmeade was the closest place to Hogwarts of couse, but she wasn’t exactly sure what the closest muggle place would be. She’d watched the countryside go by for years from the window of the train, but that didn’t tel her much more than it was quite a long way up there. On muggle transportation, it might even be longer.

“Are you alright?” someone asked from behind her.

Pansy turned to see a girl about her age standing there, concern written across her face. A snear was Pansy’s immediate reaction at being addressed by a muggle, but she quickly shoved it down. She’d have to talk to a muggle if she wanted to use muggle transportation to get to Hogwarts, and perhaps this one could help her figure out what to do. She didn’t have very many other options at this point.

“Um, no, actually,” Pansy replied. “I don’t know what train to take exactly. Could you… could you help me?”

The girl smiled, and Pansy felt her stomach flip pleasantly. Oh dear. This was relaly no time for that kind of reaction, and with a muggle no less!

“Of course, yeah,” the girl said. “First time in London? It can be a bit overwhelming.” Pansy nodded, because that was close enough. It wasn’t as if she could really explain anyway. “Where are you trying to get to?”

Pansy opened her mouth to reply, then closed it. She really wasn’t sure of that still. “North somewhere? Maybe Scotland?”

The girl raised her eyebrows, looking amused. “You don’t know where it is you want to go?”

“Not as such,” Pansy replied, feeling her cheeks heat up. She wasn’t sure if it was embarrassment or shame, but she didn’t like feeling that way. Parkinsons were supposed to be above such feelings. “I don’t know what the town is called, but I kow it’s about six hours train ride north.”

“Hmm,” the girl said, eyes going to the train schedule. “Looks like the only places around there are Banffshire and Aberlour. There’s a train to Banffshire in about twenty minutes.”

Pansy perked up, because that was the best news she’d heard so far. It might not be the right place exactly, but surely it would get her closer to her goal. “Yes, that sounds about right.”

“Oh good, I’m glad we got that sorted,” the girl said, smiling again. “I’m actually on that train as well if you’d like a buddy to ride with. I’m Gemma by the way.”

“Pansy. And yes, that sounds lovely,” she replied, trying out a polite smile in return.

Spending the trip with a muggle might not be her first choice, but Gemma didn’t seem so bad. And if she had some other, purely aesthetic reasons to want Gemma to stay around, well, no one had to know. There weren’t any other wizards out here after all.

Pansy followed Gemma the correct train, two platforms over. She definitely wouldn’t have known to go there on her own. It irked a little that this muggle knew more than her, but mostly she was honestly just relieved to not be on her own out here where she felt more like an outsider than she ever had before.