With a loud whistle the train started moving. Another year at Hogwarts was starting. And Madison Stewart was excited. Against all reason and common sense. After all, her previous years at the school were not strictly typical. Although filled with lessons and homework, detention and house points, her school years were also full of dangerous creatures, life and death situations, longing and confusion. Unfortunately not the “I-can’t-get-this-potion-right” sort of confusion either.
Madison Stewart was on a mission. To find her brother had been her one goal when first starting at Hogwarts. This goal had brought her face to face with redcappas, acromantulas, curses and death-threats. Any other teenager would count the days until school year ended when faced with that kind of pressure. But Madison was nothing if not determined. Her brother meant everything to her. How could he not – among death eaters, pureblood fanatics and all around self obsessed narcissists, Jacob was the only family-member to pay any attention to Madison growing up. He talked to her and played with her when they were younger and sent her long letters after he went to school. Madison still remembered the hollow sensation when her brother went to Hogwarts. The house seemed empty and Madisons insides seemed empty. The hollow feeling had only increased when she learned her brother had gone missing. It seemed to stick with Madison where ever she went – the emptiness, the numb indifference to everything and everyone except Jacob.
But then, she had gotten in to Hogwarts. And things started to change. The hollowness in her started to diminish, being replaced with decisiveness, resolution and optimism. At first she thought it was because she was actually doing something to search for her missing brother. Or maybe it was because she was closer to the last place Jacob lived. After 3 years she knew better. The change had come because for the first time in her life Madison had friends. She, who had only ever confided in Jacob, had only cared for Jacob, had actual friends. Rowan was the first one she made. They met in Diagon Alley and had been best friends ever since. Now Madison could not imagine her life without the dark haired book-worm who shared her dorm room and deepest secrets. As time went by, Madison had made more friends. All different in their background and nature, but all of them as close to Madisons heart as Jacob was. And they were the true reason the hollowness was gone. Her insides were not empty anymore, the were full of love. Love for her brother yes, but also love for her friends. How did she manage to be so lucky as to find people, that didn’t mind, that her parents were Voldemorts followers. Didn’t even mind, that she had an infamous brother and she herself was declared “cursed” the moment she stepped into Hogwarts in her first year. Lucky, that’s what she was. And that’s how she felt when she laughed and talked to her friends during the train ride.
The buzzing in the hall was almost deafening. All the students who had missed each other in the train were catching up, first-years were oohing and aahing at everything they saw, ghosts were gliding through people and Peeves was flying around holding someones toad.
“Madison!” someone yelled. She looked around. Penny Haywood was pressing her way through people to get to the Gryffindor table.
“Hey Penny! I missed you in the train. How are you?”
“I was at the prefects compartment. I’m fine. I missed you! How was your summer?”
“Fine, nothing special. Could not wait to get back here actually. Wait..prefects compartment? You’re a prefect? Oh Penny, that’s wonderful, congratulations!”
“Thanks!” said Penny beaming with pride.
“A prefect ey? Thats splendid, now we have one in our corner when we have some leftover dungbombs to move around” said Tonks grinning with glee.
“I dont want to have anything to do with dungbombs, thank you very much.” said Penny smiling sternly.
“Oh you wont, don’t worry.” said Tonks innocently.
“I really missed you Madison” said Penny sitting down next to her.
“Me too Penny, I’m glad to be back here with you all again.”
Penny Haywood. The blond haired hufflepuff was one of Madisons closest friends. She seemed to be Helga Hufflepuffs reincarnation – sweet and kind to everyone she met. Fiercely loyal to her friends and one of the smartest witch in her year. When thinking about Penny, Madison found, that she felt especially lucky.
“I hope this year will be a bit ..er..more normal than last one.” said Penny slowly. “My little sister Beatrice started Hogwarts this year, I wouldn’t want her to see all the things we saw last year.”
“Aww, don’t mollycoddle the kid Penny. Where’s the fun without some imminent death omen hanging over you. The kid has to toughen up, doesn’t she?” said Tonks only half jokingly.
“You wouldn’t say that if it was your sister now would you?” asked Penny amused.
“Cant say. Only child speaking” answered Tonks.
“Well I’m with Penny. I hope the only thing I have to worry about this year is whether it will be Snape who poisons me or Kettleburn who maims me. That’s enough to be going on with” said Madison.
Penny looked at Madison curiously. “Does that mean you won’t search for the next vault this year?”
Madison sighed. Searching for the vaults had been the only link to finding her brother. But the deeper she delved into the mysteries concerning Jacob and the cursed vaults, the further she seemed from answers.
“I don’t know. It seams that the more I search, the more trouble I find. Last year was crazy, I don’t want to bring that kind of danger to the school, or to you guys.” Madison sagged a little. As much as she longed for a normal school year, she felt as if she was betraying her brother by giving up. Penny seemed to understand her.
“Listen Madison. As I said last year – you didn’t ‘bring trouble’ to us. Trouble was here to begin with. And if its gone now, its only thanks to you. But no one can blame you for wanting to live your life like a normal student, without all the drama. Cheer up, its going to be an awesome year!”
“Speak for yourself. If there wont be any drama, whats the point in going to classes at all? I have to find Tulip and see hows her stock of fanged frisbees holding up. If drama wont come to me, well then...” grinned Tonks and went looking for Tulip.
Penny looked after her apprehensively. “You are not on duty yet prefect, don’t worry.” smiled Madison. “Right. But I’m going to have my hands full with these two this year, wont I?” asked Penny.
“Oh, no doubt about it. Be prepared...and carry an air freshener for the dungbombs.”
“I will. Have to run, the headboy and girl are supposed to give us instructions soon. Bye Madison, I’ll see you in class.” Penny stood and headed towards the main door where there seemed to be a little group gathering.
Madison sighed again. No one could blame her..that’s were Penny was wrong. There were people who could blame her for giving up on Jacob. Madisons parents talked about nothing else than Jacob. He was there firstborn after all. The pride and joy of the Steward family. Ever since he went missing Madisons parents could not wait until she too left for Hogwarts. She had become a tool in her parents disposal to finding Jacob. What would they say if they knew, that the only thing Madison wanted to do was to study and play quidditch.
Rowan was already at the dormitory when Madison arrived. “Hey! Where were you for so long. I already unpacked my stuff.”
“I was at the hall, enjoyed the feast. Didn’t you?”
“Not everyone wants to eat two helpings of shepherds pie on top of pot roast. How you don’t weigh a ton is beyond me.”
“I well...I..was hungry.” Madison felt uncomfortable. Rowan looked at her sharply “They are feeding you at home right?” “Of course they are.” said Madison quickly. A little too quickly it seemed, because Rowan exhaled deeply and murmured “oh Madison, I’m sorry. I thought they would be better this summer”.
“Its just..they just forget sometimes. They go out a lot and they forget when they come home. And I don’t want to remind them, because I don’t want to talk to them anyways. And I can’t use magic and...its nothing, I’m fine. Its not a big deal.” Madison felt herself become red and started to busy herself with her trunk.
“What classes do you have tomorrow?” she asked to try and divert the conversation topic. Rowan was silently looking at her for a few moments, but then seamed to decide to not push it further. “Potions and transfiguration first. Same as you I think.”
Madison unpacked her trunk and fell into her bed. It had been a long day and she was drained. She hadn’t talked or eaten as much for the whole summer as she had with her friends in the train and at the feast.
“Did you see Penny? I didn’t find her at the train.” asked Rowan who was also in her bed and fixing her curtains.
“Yeah, I saw her at the hall. Shes a prefect, that’s why she was awol. She was in their compartment.”
“Shes a prefect? Cool! Well if anyone deserves to be one, Penny does.”
“Right! Shes so kind and caring, and smart and pretty, she will be a perfect prefect.” mused Madison half asleep already.
“Hmm..yes.” chuckled Rowan “kind and perfect, that’s our Penny. Maybe you should help her with her duties. You know – spend some quality time together?”
“If I can, of course I’ll help her..wait? What are you talking about?” asked Madison stirring from her slumber.
“Oh come on Madison – she’s-so-pretty-and-kind – you like her don’t you?”
“Yes I like her, its Penny. Who would not like Penny?” Madison asked bewildered.
“I mean you like-like her” explained Rowan.
“What..I don’t..I mean..I haven’t even..shut up!” sputtered Madison wide awake now.
“Don’t worry, I wont tell. But I just have to say, that I think you guys would make a nice couple.” said Rowan and closed her curtains.
There was a long silence until Madison said quietly, almost as a whisper “I don’t think shes into girls, she only ever seams to date guys.”
“You wont know for sure until You ask her” whispered Rowan back.