The Hogwarts Express. In a word; magical. Not in the literal sense of the word, though it certainly is that as well. Seeing the scarlet red steam engine fills those young with wonder and those old with nostalgia. It is the place the Hogwarts experience truly begins; right in that train. It holds just under 300 students, though it could easily accommodate double that number.
It isn’t quite time for the train to pull out of King’s Cross Station quite yet. Many older students are meeting up with their friends they haven’t seen since the previous school year. Seventh years drink in the atmosphere, knowing this is the last time they will be able to experience the beginning of year train ride to the school. First years are energized, excited and nervous to start their next seven years.
One such first year is a certain Yuval Estrella. They were dropped off early by one of their orphanage caretakers. They sit alone in a compartment, bony legs pressed against their chest as they curl into a protective ball, hoping nobody will join them. Their mahogany hair comparable to a bird’s nest is pulled into a messy ponytail at the nape of their neck. Russet brown skin is a little paler than it should be, and golden eyes somehow seem dull when paired with the heavy bags. They’ve already changed into their robes, not wanting to stay in the hand-me-downs everyone at the orphanage had to deal with.
It isn’t that they don’t want to make friends. They’re just scared. Scared that their new classmates will be just as large and frightening as their old ones.
Haven boarded the train, not caring enough to change into his robes first. If people didn't like the way he dressed, so be it. His olive skin that was dusted with freckles contrasted against his curly pearly white hair that he Inherited from his Mother.
He rubbed his fingers over his palm and he could just barely feel his talons through his gloves. it was a nervous habit he picked up after realizing it was too obvious if he rubbed his arms as most people do. His arms were covered in burn scars from the night his parents died and he preferred to have them covered, lest he attracts any unwanted attention. His other hand squeezed the handle of his suitcase as he tried not to worry too much about having to interact with others. He wasn't very good with people, and would much rather just pretend he was mute, but whatever.
He decides the safest bet is to go into the car that was mostly empty aside from a very small person with messy mahogany hair who was curled up into a little ball. He figures this person will be least likely to try and talk with him, so he slides the door open and asks "is it okay if I sit here?"
Yuval flinches somewhat and says nothing, pressing themself further into the corner by the window. They nod almost imperceptibly as they draw their robes tighter around themself. Their eyes are directed to the ground.
"Thanks." Haven mumbles, feeling a little awkward, but since it's a little late to find a different compartment at this point, he just puts his suitcase up and sits on the opposite bench by the door so he won't disturb the small person. sitting down, he takes a small book with no visible title out of his pocket and starts to flip through the pages.
Yuval stares out the window, warily keeping Haven’s reflection in view.
In the halls, there’s a sort of crashing sound and a yelp. Haven looks up, a little confused.
Skylar Kirchner is not usually a clumsy person. It’s just a little hard to drag a large trunk and an owl cage with you while trying not to trip over your too-long robes that your grandmother insists you’ll grow into.
Most compartments she’s passed have either been too full, had older students in them, or had been too empty! It was frustrating. She was wondering how long it would take her to find a suitable compartment when she found one with two people in it and she grinned before promptly tripping over her robes and crashing to the ground.
After a moment of pain, she slides the compartment door open, still on the ground.
“Can I sit here?” She asks over the sound of her screeching owl.
Haven looks at her, very tiredly, and realizes he may have chosen the wrong compartment. "I don't have a problem with it," he lies, "but I couldn't answer for them." he gestures to Yuval, quietly pleading that they'll tell her to find another compartment.
Yuval doesn’t exactly say yes, but they don’t say no either, so Skylar starts putting her things in the luggage space. She puts her owl’s cage on the seat next to her and feeds him a treat. This calms him down immediately, and the cacophonous sound that accompanied her arrival leaves.
“My name’s Skylar!” She introduces herself, completely oblivious to Haven’s social dread. “Do you know what house you’re going to be in? I hope I get Gryffindor.” Skylar babbles.
Haven swears at himself mentally. he should have said there was someone he was waiting for.
"I'm Haven. I don't really care what house I go into as long as no one bothers me." He says blatantly.
“Well that’s no fun.” Skylar pouts, thinking his answer was boring. “Do you have any pets?” She asks, changing the subject. “This is Jerry. He’s sensitive.” Skylar pokes her finger through the bars of Jerry’s cage. He looks restless. There’s almost a threat in his eyes as if he wishes to snap her finger off, but Skylar either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.
Haven doesn't bother to explain that he would just rather have somewhere to sleep and not get into any fights like he did at the orphanage. He puts down his little book and reaches into the breast pocket on the inside of his jacket. "His name is Cerberus." He says, pulling out a small brown mouse with white spots sitting calmly on his palm. "He'll bite you if you don't give him food before trying to pet him." Haven deadpans.
Skylar gasps and stands up to retrieve her bag from the luggage racks above their heads. She pulls a turkey sandwich out and tears a small piece of lettuce before holding it out to the mouse. Cerberus takes it and starts to munch.
“I didn’t know we could have mice! I’ll have to tell Jerry not to eat any.” She exclaims.
Haven is quiet for a moment. "I'm actually not sure if I'm allowed to have him here either. We've just been together for a long time and I didn't want to leave him somewhere he could get hurt." He says, petting the mouse.
“Well, I’ll hex anyone who tries to tattle on him.” Skylar says with confidence before cautiously reaching to pet his little head. Her careful movements with the mouse seem to contradict her personality. Haven smirks a bit.
Skylar wonders if anybody else will join them in the compartment. The small person in the corner didn’t seem to wish to speak and she liked bigger groups.
Yuval watches the exchange in the reflection of the train window. They aren’t really sure what to make of the situation.
Haven puts Cerberus on his knee and is about to go back to reading his book when he hears someone running down the walkway.
Skylar stands and opens the compartment door. She sticks her head out. ((real smart))
Chloe is running down the walkway, her bag under one arm, and her owl (looking very bored and obviously used to this behavior) clutched to her chest in the other arm. She's looking in the compartments as she runs past, having decided to run rather than spend too much time walking to whatever compartment has just enough people so they wouldn't mind one more. Her short dark hair bounces as she runs. up ahead, she spots a pretty girl sticking her head out the door. Skylar waves at her. "Hey! is there room for one more?" Chloe asks excitedly.
Skylar grins. “Of course!” She responds, not asking Haven or Yuval before answering.
Haven looks at the ceiling with a tired expression, resigning himself to his fate. He definitely picked the wrong compartment.
Yuval somehow looks less tense.
Skylar offers to help Chloe bring her things into the compartment.
Chloe skids to a halt in front of their door and waits for Skylar to sit down before going to the seat next to Haven and putting her bags away. Haven moves Cerberus from his knee to the shoulder next to the door so Chloe's owl (who is right next to Haven) won't scare him.
Skylar grins at her. “Hi! I’m Skylar. Do you know what house you wanna be in?” She asks.
Chloe plopped down on the seat and turned to Skylar. "Hi, Skylar! My name is Chloe, and this is Steve my Owl! I'm what most wizards would call a 'muggle-born', so all I really know about Hogwarts Houses is that there are four of them, and they’re basically like dorms in university, I guess." Chloe says cheerfully. Haven is a little impressed with how easily she can say she's a muggle-born, but he supposes she doesn’t know any better.
“Oh!” Skylar blinks. “I didn’t even think about that.” Then she shrugs. “My aunt says I’m a pureblood and I should be really proud of it but I don’t really care, I just wanna make friends.” Skylar grins. She then launches into surprisingly unbiased explanations of all the Hogwarts houses. Perhaps it is unbiased thanks to her family’s lack of a traditional house. Plenty of family members come from plenty of different houses, so she has no reason to feel negative towards any of them. The only slight bit of bias is Skylar’s enthusiasm for Gryffindor, but it’s pretty obvious that’s just because it’s the house she personally wants to be in.
Chloe listens intently. "Hmm, they all sound pretty awesome..." Chloe says, trying very hard to decide which one she likes best. "I think I wanna be in Slytherin. They sound boss." She grins.
Skylar laughs. “My aunt is in Slytherin. She basically gets everyone to agree with her without us realizing it. It’s kinda scary actually?” She frowns a little bit then shrugs, not too bothered.
Haven, knowing he's probably going to be in Slytherin, tries not to think about the rumors he's heard about that particular house.
Yuval quietly wishes they were alone in a grassy field.
Chloe thinks about how cool it would be to be in the snake house.
Skylar keeps babbling about her family and shenanigans.
Haven tries to focus on his book, which proves to be a mistake.
"So what house do you want to be in?" Chloe asks once Skylar stops talking.
“Oh Gryffindor, for sure.” She says easily. “They have a sword!” Skylar exclaims, as she is 11 and she is entertained by simple things. “Being a knight in shiny armor would be so cool.”
"A SWORD???? THAT'S SO COOL!!!" Chloe Exclaims, her bright green eyes shining in interest. "You would make a great knight I bet!" She adds.
Skylar practically vibrates. “I know, right? Imagine me saving like a princess and slaying the dragon or something!” She swings an imaginary sword.
By the window, Yuval makes a sort of weird sound. Haven looks at them. Yuval is kind of pouting, but they say nothing. Chloe doesn’t notice, and Skylar isn’t good at subtlety, so she also doesn’t notice. Haven figures they might not want to talk about it, so he tries to go back to reading.
"I wanna save a princess..." says Chloe wistfully.
“Well if you’re in Slytherin I bet the princess wouldn’t even need saving.” Skylar says, nodding sagely.
"Oh! I heard that wizards don't have a problem with gay people. is that true?" Chloe asks, looking curious and maybe even a little excited.
Skylar blinks. “What’s a gay?” She asks, completely serious. She wonders if it’s a muggle disease.
Chloe thinks for a moment. "It's..." She snaps her fingers. "A person who likes people who are the same as them! Like, say there's a boy who likes another boy. That boy is gay."
“Oh, like my uncle Toby.” She says. Then her brows furrow. “Do muggles care about that stuff?”
Chloe groans. "Yeees. My parents don't mind it, but they say it's better not to mention it in front of others because I could get in trouble. It's really tiring." She slumps in her seat.
“Your parents are dumb.” Skylar says. Then she gets a granola bar out of her bag and munches on it.
"My parents aren't dumb." Chloe says, trying to defend them. "it's everyone else that's dumb. My mom and dad say they just don't want to cause problems for me."
“Oh. Then yeah, everyone else is dumb.” Skylar nods, easily swayed on this matter as she doesn’t know Chloe’s parents and trusts her word.
Haven, the grumpy eighty-five-year-old man trapped in the body of an eleven-year-old boy gives up on his book and starts to wish he was somewhere quieter. Like, under the train for example.
The train ride continues, and the trolley witch comes by. Skylar just gets some beans. Haven doesn't get anything because he doesn't really have any money.
"Anyway, what houses do you two want to be in?" Chloe directs to Haven and Yuval. "Also what are your names? I only caught Skylar's so far."
“That’s Haven, I think the other one might be mute.” Skylar says. She has this bad habit of speaking for people sometimes. It can get annoying.
"I don't care what house I'm in as long as I have somewhere to sleep, and some peace and quiet." Haven says. Skylar idly thinks he’ll be in Slytherin. "And I don't think that person is mute, they might just not want to talk." He gestures to Yuval, who hasn't moved since Haven arrived. Yuval wishes they were deaf. Haven recognizes the body language from some of the kids at the orphanage. "I'd just leave them alone. They might not want to be bothered."
Skylar’s face looks blank, clearly not getting it. ((we all need a privileged bitch in a fictional friend group))
Chloe nods, having felt the same way at other points in time. Skylar doesn’t try to get it. She checks the time. She’s already wearing robes because her dad just apparated her there from home. She wonders why the train ride has to be so long.
Haven is a little curious about the small quiet kid by the window but he says nothing.
"So Haven, what's your family like? Do you have any siblings?" Chloe asks, trying to break the Ice. Skylar looks at him eagerly.
"I had a cousin I was close to, but I haven't seen him since I was about seven." Haven says, nonchalantly.
“I have a bunch of cousins.” Skylar says. “Some of them are kinda lame though. Like my aunt’s kids, they’re lame. Uncle Toby’s kids are really cool though!”
"What happened when you were seven? Did his parents move away?" Chloe asked Haven, curious about why they don’t keep in touch anymore. Skylar shuts up because she suddenly realizes she was trying to dominate the conversation.
"His father murdering my parents put a bit of a damper on our relationship." he said, his expression unchanging.
“Was he a Death Eater?” Skylar asks, looking a little sick. Skylar doesn’t want to talk about this. She doesn’t know why she asked her question. It’s sort of obvious she’s uncomfortable. Her face doesn’t do much to hide her feelings. But, her curiosity often gets the better of her.
Haven pauses. His eye is a little darker than before. "No." he says, glancing away. Skylar squirms a little. "Sorry for bringing down the mood..." Haven mumbles. He feels bad.
Chloe looks concerned for this boy. She only just met him, but she wishes she could stop anything from causing him to make that face again.
Chloe is about to say something, but Haven sees the look on Skylar's face. "I should probably change." Haven won't look at anyone as he stands and grabs his robes from his old suitcase before walking out the door.
Skylar’s cheeks turn red and she groans, putting her face in her hands.
Chloe tries to comfort Skylar. "It probably wasn't your fault, don't stress out about it. He seems like the type who doesn't know how people work, so I bet he was just trying to spare you from being uncomfortable. I don't think he was hurt by anything you did." she pats Skylar's knee in a comforting gesture. Meanwhile, Haven is ranting to Cerberus about how he screwed up and should probably just go jump out of the train and die. He really isn’t very good with people.
Skylar shrugs. “Want a bean?” She asks.
"I would love a bean." Chloe smiles. Skylar hands her a purple bean. Chloe eats the bean. Eggplant. Chloe makes a very quizzical face.
Skylar grins. “What flavor did you get?” She asks, leaning forward.
"E-eggplant???" She looks very confused.
Skylar laughs so hard she snorts. “H-have you never... never had beans before?” She asks, her words stuttered because of her laughter.
"Is this a wizard thing? I've only had muggle Beans." She still looks confused.
“Do muggles not have fun flavored beans?” Skylar looks shocked.
"We do, but usually they're flavours like strawberry or grape." Chloe had been expecting grape. She’s shook.
“Huh. I got a meatloaf flavoured one once. Daddy said that one is sort of rare.” Skylar says. She seems amazed that muggle beans don’t try to trick you. Then she blinks, looking at Chloe’s clothes. “Don’t you need to change into your robes?” She asks.
"Oh, you're right!" Chloe says, getting over her original shock to stand and grab her clothes. She quickly leaves so she can maybe catch the trolley witch before the train stops.
Skylar bonds with Yuval by offering beans that she knows are actually tasty and letting them pet Jerry. She learns their name, and that they’re expecting Ravenclaw.
Skylar is very good at bonding with people. She also learns that Yuval is very fond of peaches and honey thanks to the beans. Unfortunately, she also is left with only one bean.
Haven quietly comes back to the compartment in his robes with Cerberus on his shoulder and sits in silence. he looks a little upset on the outside, but inside he's just
'OH FUCK DO THEY HATE ME NOW? I'M SUCH AN ARSEHOLE! I SHOULD HAVE JUST SAID SOMETHING ELSE, I SHOULD HAVE LIED OR SOMETHING! MERLIN, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???' he doesn't look anyone in the eye.
Yuval also goes quiet again but they’re not facing the window anymore so that’s something.
“Hey Haven, do you want my last bean?” She asks. Skylar doesn’t actually know what flavour it is. It could be very delicious or absolutely revolting.
Haven looks up, surprised. He wasn't expecting that. "I- thanks." He cautiously reaches out a gloved hand.
“Just warning you, I have no idea what it is.” Skylar says, handing him the bean. “Do you think Cerberus wants the box?” She asks, playing with the cardboard flaps.
"It's alright, I haven't had candy for a while." He says, mentally kicking himself for speaking before thinking. "I think he might like the box, yeah." Haven says, popping the bean in his mouth.
Skylar hands him the box too. “Oo, have you ever had jelly slugs?” She asks, then giggles. “They’re all slimy and gross but they taste so good.”
Haven smiles as he bites into the bean. Cerberus happily explores the box.
“What?” Skylar asks, laughing though she’s not sure why.
Haven swallows the bean and looks up, a bright smile on his face and his little fangs showing.
Skylar doesn’t react to the fangs at all because she has more important questions. “What flavor was it?” She asks.
"It was ear wax!" Haven laughs.
Skylar laughs too, snorting and choking and having to stop and make sure she didn’t die.
Haven can't stop giggling, and he looks younger than he has in years.
Yuval smiles a teeny bit but they cover it with their sleeve.
Haven looks away, embarrassed. "So what did you say about Jelly slugs?" He says. He isn’t laughing anymore, but he’s smiling a little more.
Skylar pats Yuval’s shoulder, and Yuval flinches a little but doesn’t react otherwise. “They’re slimy and wriggly.” She says. “But they taste like...” Skylar makes a vague hand motion.
"I'll have to try some at some point." He says.
She giggles. “I can probably get daddy to send some later this week.” Skylar says.
"...Would you be willing to share?" He asks almost shyly.
“Well duh, why else would I be asking for them?” Skylar rolls her eyes as if that should’ve been obvious. Haven smiles to himself a little.
“WHA’D I MISS?" Chloe says, re-entering the compartment with an arm full of candy.
Yuval jumps and squeaks, curling up again.
Haven is surprised.
“I fed them all my beans.” Skylar says.
"No worries, I bought a bunch of candy that I need you to explain to me!" She says, plopping back down in her seat. "I'm willing to share if you'll all be my friends." She grins.
“I thought we were already friends.” Skylar says.
Chloe is happy at Skylar's remark. "Well we're confirmed friends now!"
"I'll be your friend if you give me one of those chocolate frogs. I haven't had one of those in forever." Haven says.
"Of course!" Chloe says, letting him grab one. "So what do you say little'un?" Chloe asks Yuval.
Yuval smiles a very tiny and shy smile.
"I'll take that as a yes." Chloe says, grinning.
“Oh, their name is Yuval by the way.” Skylar says, reaching over snatching a random candy.
Haven looks up, a little interested. "That's a nice name." He says.
Yuval returns to looking at the ground and they fiddle with their sleeves.
"Aw, I missed them talking?" Chloe groans. "Do you only speak to pretty girls Yuval?" She jokes. ((Chloe your gay is showing))
Yuval’s cheeks flush and they don’t respond.
“I think they’re just shy.” Skylar shrugs. “They only talked when it was just the two of us.”
Haven looks down. he wonders if Yuval just doesn't like him. It's understandable, seeing as Yuval only seemed to react positively to Chloe and Skylar. He pushes the thought away.
"Well, I hope you open up to me soon. I bet you have a nice voice Yuval." Chloe smiles at them. she offers them candy.
Yuval eyes the candy cautiously and glances up at Chloe before taking it.
“It’s kinda scratchy actually.” Skylar says.
"A voice can be scratchy and nice." Chloe says. "Don't discriminate." She's joking. Haven chuckles to himself. Skylar shrugs.
The train slows as it reaches Hogsmeade Station.
"Aw, I wanted to get more time to talk." Chloe whines. Haven pockets the chocolate frog.
“We’ll get more time when school starts!” Skylar chirps cheerily.
"I look forward to it!" Chloe says.
Skylar leaves the compartment, eager to get to Hogwarts.
Haven puts Cerberus in his cloak and strolls out of the compartment.
Yuval lingers in the compartment, seeing the crowd of people walking down the walkway to leave the train. They don’t fuck with that.
Chloe decides to wait with Yuval. "So what house do you want to be in?"
Yuval looks at her a moment before looking out at the people passing by and pointing at someone wearing Ravenclaw robes.
"Ooh, that’s the blue one! Ravenclaw, right?" Chloe says. "So you must like learning a lot."
Yuval blushes a little, looking up at her. They flap their hands a little but they aren’t really sure how to convey that Dragons.
Chloe tries to decipher this code. "Birds..?"
Yuval just shakes their head and blushes more because the hand flapping wasn’t related and now they’re flustered.
"Okay, wait! I know this." Chloe says. "Bats?" no. "You want to fly?"
Yuval just shakes their head and puts their hood up.
"Aw, no! don't put your hood up! I'm sorry I'm getting it wrong, I was never really good at charades." Chloe thinks some more.
Yuval doesn’t know how to explain they weren’t trying to do charades at all. What a horrible misunderstanding. They point because the crowd has thinned considerably.
"Wait, Is it... Draaagons..?" Chloe guesses.
Yuval looks up at her and blinks once. They don’t really seem like they’re confirming anything, but they also don’t seem like they’re denying anything either.
"Okay, so you maybe like Dragons. now we're getting somewhere." she says, starting to head out the door. Yuval follows her. "Hey why do you look funny when Haven speaks about or to you?" she asks, spinning around and walking backward.
Yuval shivers and bites their lip, looking down. They have no idea how to answer that. It’d be hard to talk about even with words.
Chloe sees this as something she maybe shouldn't ask about now. "...I'll ask again when you're more comfortable talking to me about it." She smiles.
Yuval nods gratefully. Surprisingly, they don’t seem frightened by Hagrid when he calls the first years to the boats. They’re clearly startled by his loud voice and intimidated by his impressive height, but they aren’t necessarily afraid.
Haven is salty. he knows he should be taller than most of the kids here. otherwise, he rather likes Hagrid.
Chloe is just really excited.
Skylar has a squirming chocolate frog half in her mouth.
Yuval follows Chloe to the boat with Skylar and Haven.
Haven tries not to think about the giant squid in the lake as he takes an oar. Then the boats start moving on their own because they’re magical. Put that down, Haven. ((lol sorry))
I could write a long few paragraphs about how breathtaking their first view of Hogwarts is, but I don’t believe it’s necessary.
Skylar squeals at the sight of the castle, and Yuval gasps quietly.
Haven smiles a little, thinking about how lucky he was to get the letter.
Chloe is very vocal with her Excitement, much to Haven’s dismay.
They float across the dark lake, watching the Castle grow closer, and with it, their excitement and nerves.