There was a flash of green and a cackle of high-pitched laughter that awoke Hope Potter from her nightmare, terrifying her so badly that she had to sit up in her small bed, breathing hard. The movement jarred her, and she had to bite down on her lip to resist making a noise as she swung her legs over the side of the bed, her feet brushing gently against the floor.
The pain had come from her left leg, the one that bore a deep and jagged pink scar across her shin with numerous lighter and less deep scars peppering the flesh from her knee up to her waist, the results of a car accident she had been in only a few months previously. It was her cousin Dudley's fault, the little idiot, he was the one who'd pushed her into the street a few seconds before the car came speeding by. He may have seemed a bit regretful at the start of it, but that had quickly diminished (Hope suspected that might have had something to do with her sarcastic and angry nature).
Her fingers fumbled for the light switch and she blinked harshly once she managed to turn it on.
Her wand teetered dangerously on the edge of her bedside table, but she didn't bother moving it; if it did roll under her bed by the time morning came around, she'd still find it in the end. Hope stood up, the movement only causing a small twinge as opposed to earlier, raking her hands through her hair and scowling at the face of the girl her mirror reflected.
She knew the dark red hair was far less common than the brighter ginger, and if she wanted to, she could've changed the colour of her hair to any colour on the rainbow. She liked the colour, but at the same time, she hated it. Every time she looked in the mirror, she saw what she always saw; the face of her dead mother. She could see it in the almond and shade of her eyes, in the colour of her hair. She hated how much she looked like her dead mother, and she knew that was all anyone would see when they looked at her. She lifted a hand to pull on the ends of her short hair, not regretting cutting it from how long it had been before.
Hope palmed her forehead with a soft groan. Two more days in this hellhole before she could finally leave, to go to a magical school in Scotland called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, because Hope Potter was, in every sense, a witch.
She had initially scoffed at the idea; who had ever heard of modern-day witches, anyway? But she had to admit it was strange how she could sometimes change her appearance when she got emotional, or that one time when she had made her science experiment turn red –when it was supposed to remain blue and calm– and explode like a volcano, or how snakes would find her and whisper things.
Well…maybe she had just been avoiding the signs. She was weird enough without all the magic throwing a curveball into her day.
Hope moved to lean her elbows on the windowpane, pressing her cheek against the glass to look outside and into the dark sky into which only a few stars were visible, most obscured by grey clouds. Hope scowled in front of her. If she squinted hard enough –even in the blackness– she could see a rosy shimmer, one that was characteristic of Blood Wards, according to one of the books she had read upon the discovery of her magical lineage. Though, she had to admit she had been far more interested in books on Ancient Runes than anything else, which was the only reason she'd recognized the Blood Wards.
Hope gave a mournful sigh, removing her eyes and face from the window to return to her bed and pull her heavy trunk towards her, feeling restless now and conceding that she probably wouldn't fall asleep for awhile. It may have looked like an average school trunk, but it had cost her a pretty penny and had been worth every galleon, as it came with an incredible extension charm. The trunk was almost full with her uniform (and casual wear), potion supplies, and second hand books that had once belonged to her mother—her aunt had apparently kept them out of sentiment, letting them gather dust in the attic—as well as a good dozen that she had either picked up from the family vault—the books being the only thing she could remove while being underage—or had bought at Flourish and Blotts.
Hope clicked the trunk open, pulling one compartment of it up, revealing a lengthy bookcase that was nowhere near being full of books but included a number that could send her off to sleep no problem, and that was what she was hoping for.
She frowned thoughtfully, considering the small amount of books for a moment before choosing at random and pulling out her Magical Drafts and Potions. She opened to the first page and began to read.
If there was one place that Hope knew for certain she could be alone at, it was the Surrey Zoo, in front of the now-empty Boa Constrictor case that had once held the snake that she had set free the last time she was in the zoo with the Dursleys. It had been taped off and in need of a new glass covering since Hope had made it disappear.
So, if there was nothing to look at, there was no reason for anyone to linger.
Hope pulled the strap from her shoulder, dropping her bag next to the short bench, resting her cane against the side as she withdrew a book and sketchbook into which she had begun to draw an assortment of runes, unaware of the attention she would soon garner.
Weasley family outings were rare, and even rarer were the ones that occurred in the Muggle World. So George was a bit surprised when their dad took them out to a local zoo—in Surrey, he believed—especially since they would be leaving for Hogwarts the next day. The exhibits were alright, but it was the girl sitting in the snake area that caught his attention, distracting him from the animals.
That wasn't too surprising, but he had never shown much of an interest in girls—though, he knew Fred was very much into their teammate and friend Angelina Johnson. But, he had to admit, she was definitely eye-catching.
Her hair was a dark red, probably closer in colour to rose petals, barely dusting her shoulders in tousled waves that he was sure Ginny would kill for—if her hair was long enough—and he could barely see a sliver of green that was her eyes, brighter than any green he'd seen in anyone's eyes. She was cute, he supposed, but small and pale, perhaps Ron's age, but he couldn't be sure. It almost looked as though she had been deprived of sunlight and proper nutrition. Her jeans were ratty and peppered with holes and she had bunched her shirt into a hair tie at the back, turning the tail inward so it fit her frame better. One of her legs was stuck outward in an odd black brace; it looked uncomfortable.
People just passed her by, almost as if they didn't notice her at all. That was strange to George, because he thought she should have garnered a bit more attention being the only one not looking at any of the exhibits, with her focus entirely on the paper and book open on her lap.
"What happened to the snake?" he asked out loud, referring to the empty tank in front of her, faintly aware of his family leaving him behind and of Fred's curious glance back.
Hope paused in her sketching, her pen stilling over the curve she had etched against the page. For a moment she did not move, far too stunned that someone had spoken to her than anything else, but then her head twisted upwards to pierce him with those bottle-green eyes. The orbs narrowed slightly, filling with suspicion as she looked him up and down.
His eyes were a bright, impossible blue, clashing with the ginger of his hair, and out of his trouser pocket she could clearly see the carved hilt of a wand, far more intricate than hers, but Hope didn't really mind; her wand suited her just fine.
Her eyes returned to her paper, adding a few final touches to the rune. "It might have escaped," she said evasively with a shrug, "in a burst of accidental magic."
Her voice had a strange lilt, George noticed, one he'd never heard before, like a cross between nobility and uncultured, but it wasn't unpleasant. And then he realized what she had said.
George's jaw unhinged as he stared at her. How did she know he was a wizard?
She arched a crimson eyebrow, before sighing and proceeding to stuff her things—several books that he now could see dealt mostly with magic, but looked too advanced for someone her age—into her bag. "Don't look so surprised; it's obvious." She rolled her eyes, even though it was only obvious if you were looking for the signs (such as wands sticking out of pockets, for instance).
"And what about you?" George asked curiously.
"What about me?" she asked, a little miffed, brushing her hair from her face as she stood, a beaded strand of her hair catching the light as she did so. "I'm just a witch."
Fred called his name in the distance and she smiled at him, glancing behind to see an identical boy. So he was a twin, was he? It was the first time Hope had smiled in awhile; it hurt her cheeks. "See you around, Wizard-boy," she winked and her green eyes shimmered an identical blue to his before returning to green in an instant as she disappeared through the throng of people with a fairly obvious limp, the brace making strange noises as it connected with stone and her cane clicking as she moved.
Only after she left did George realize she hadn't told him her name.
In retrospect, Hope should have asked Hagrid, the Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts who had been her guide into Diagon Alley (the first time), how on earth she got into Platform Nine and Three Quarters, but it had slipped her mind at the time.
Petunia and Vernon, her aunt and uncle on her mother's side, had been curiously happy to drop her off at King's Cross Station on the first of September. It all made sense when they drove off in laughter, leaving Hope with a train ticket to a platform that didn't exist.
Hope sat down in irritation on a bench just beyond Platform Nine, tapping her cane against the ground. She couldn't ask someone about the platform, because how was she to know if they were Muggle or Magical?
Hope gave a forlorn sigh as the minutes ticked by; she was going to miss her train…
"Come on, Ced! Hurry up!"
Hope looked up as a strangely dressed man strode past, his clothes slightly mismatched as though he was only wearing them to fit in, waving his hand towards a boy that could only be his son with similar brown hair and grey eyes like the woman following after him. He was pushing his cart and he had an owl.
Hope blinked once, and then again for good measure to remind herself that what she was seeing was indeed real. Since it was, this "Ced" had to be a wizard, why else would he have an owl in a cage like she did?
"Coming, Dad!" the boy called, his speed picking up as he passed his father, pushing his cart right into the dividing barrier between Platforms Nine and Ten.
A second later, Hope leaned forward in surprise, almost gaping; the boy had gone right through the wall! What the-?
And then his parents followed, doing the exact same thing, moments later.
But better to try than to not, Hope had to concede to herself, on the upside, she might make it to her train on time, on the downside, she might just collide with the wall.
Hope opted to try, pulling herself up into a standing position, dangling her cane from the bar as she pushed it towards the divider. She first pressed it lightly against the wall, but it went right through the wall, so she added a bit more force only to find herself on what must be the opposite side, Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
Steam was rising around the scarlet train and more people than Hope could count were clustered around it, ready to send students off for the year. It made Hope feel awkward, considering that she had come alone and had no one to care enough to miss her, but that wasn't all she had a problem with.
If there was one thing Hope could say that she honestly hated, it was crowds. She was not at all in her element, being pushed to and fro, each shove sending a flare of pain up her leg before she finally managed to get her trunk to the train door, but there was no way she was going to be able to heave the trunk into the train with her leg in its condition. And her upper body strength left much to be desired.
Hope gave another sigh, mentally cursing herself when a sudden voice behind her caught her off guard.
"Want a hand?"
Hope turned so swiftly on her heel, that she almost sprained the ankle of her already-messed-up leg in her startled surprise. It was the boy from the previous day, the curious blue-eyed boy that had actually paid attention to her (an equally strange occurrence). She could feel embarrassment blooming inside of her, but she tried not to let it show.
"Wizard-boy," she said, her voice coloured with the surprise she still felt.
"Mystery-girl," he mocked in return, his eyes glinting mischievously, an expression she suspected he was known for.
Confusion replaced the surprise and she eyed him strangely. Mystery-girl? Had she come off as mysterious before? How odd…she certainly hadn't tried to be. Hope wasn't known for being mysterious, snarky and sarcastic, sure, but mysterious? Doubtful.
His eyes flickered to her thick black brace over her leg and Hope couldn't resist shifting uncomfortably, but he offered her no scathing remarks or piteous looks that she often garnered, much to her aggravation.
"That looks serious," he said instead, his voice kind. "Does it hurt?"
"Oh!" She said, her surprise returning and evident in the raising of her eyebrows and the widening of her eyes. She looked down at her leg in surprise as though she had forgotten of her injury, but that was doubtful as it was hard to forget about. Though the pain did indeed bother her, she found that if she didn't think about it, it almost felt like it was nonexistent. "Not as much anymore, but, yeah, a little," she admitted.
"How'd you really know I was a wizard?" he asked this time, more curious, and kindly not questioning her more about her injury as many often did.
Well, wasn't he a query-filled wizard? Hope threw him a rather dry expression. "I could see the handle of your wand sticking out of your pocket, happy?"
"Exceptionally," he agreed with a wide grin, before repeating his earlier words, "Need a hand?"
"Yes, please," she said gratefully, her cheeks still flushing slightly from when her eyes had met his vibrant blue ones. She wasn't used to someone keeping her attention so completely without resisting the urge to smack someone (because Hope did have a bit of a violent streak).
"I'm George," he added, extending his hand to her, surprising her even more, his lips still set in a smile. "Since you ran off before."
"Hope," she said simply, the flush fading from her cheeks as she slid her hand into his. "I can assure you running is something that I am hardly capable of."
George's smile shifted into a smirk before he called over his shoulder. "Oi, Fred! C'mere and help!"
It was the twin she had spotted in the crowd the previous day, and he raced over to assist him. Hope was grateful for the help; it wasn't like she really had the muscles to lift the luggage, besides her…social skills…were a bit rusty.
A boy took either side, tucking it with ease into a spare overhead compartment.
"Thanks," Hope said as they dropped back to the ground, brushing the fringe out of her eyes with an action that drew their attention immediately.
"What's that?" the second one, Fred, asked her, making a blatant gesture towards the scar that rested on her forehead. It was in the shape of a lightning bolt and Hope had had it for as long as she could remember, only recently had she discovered that it was a product of a murder attempt by a man called Lord Voldemort, the very same man that had killed her parents.
A scowl marred Hope's lips at the thought of how she had gotten it.
"Blimey!" George said, his eye widening comically in realization. "Are you—?"
"She is," Fred said before directing his attention to Hope, "aren't you?"
"What?" Hope asked, flummoxed by their behaviour. It seemed to her that she was only hearing half of the conversation, they seemed to be having most of it in their heads.
"Hope Potter," they chorused in unison.
She arched an eyebrow at them in return, mild annoyance setting in. "Yes."
"Why didn't you say anything?" George demanded, struck dumb.
Hope shrugged her shoulders disinterestedly. She didn't think there were many 'Hope's, it wasn't as common a name as one would think, but she suspected this had more to do with the events of October 31, 1981, and Hope really didn't want to talk about that, especially about what little she remembered. "It's just a name, nothing special, trust me."
She shifted uncomfortably under their stares before attempting to stumble onto the train, and she probably wouldn't have made it on if George hadn't gripped her elbows and lifted her up. A faint flush dusted across her cheeks at the move and the warmth of his hands at her elbows. "Thanks."
His smile was nice enough as she shut the door, the pair disappearing once their mother called out their names. They turned back briefly, giving identical waves with smiles that lit their eyes. She waved back, feeling genuine for once.
And then she sat down on the cushion, glancing out the window towards where the two boys had run towards.
She blinked. That was a lot of gingers, but Hope couldn't really judge, considering her hair was a similar colour.
Their mother was standing with a little girl and a boy her age when her older sons approached and Hope could hear clearly from where she was sitting.
"Ron, you've got something on your nose," the mother said, and Hope assumed that 'Ron' was the youngest boy's name, rubbing at the end of his nose with a spare handkerchief, and it was clearly something the boy didn't approve of.
"Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie?" one of the twins asked as the other sniggered. Hope supposed that was what it was like to have siblings, but Dudley was kind of her sibling, though she'd never much liked him.
"Shut up," the youngest boy retorted.
"Where's Percy?" their mother asked, glancing around for what must have been another of her offspring. Hope arched an eyebrow; how many of them were there?
"He's coming now," one of the twins said (Hope couldn't tell which one at this distance), nodding to their left where an older boy with the same ginger hair as his siblings with horn-rimmed glasses perched on his nose. He seemed much stiffer and restrained than his siblings if Hope was to go off of looks alone.
"Can't stay long, Mother," he told the woman in a serious manner that hardly suited his age. "I'm up front, the prefects have got two compartments to themselves—"
"Oh," one of the twins gave a noise of surprise, as though this information had not been made aware to him, "are you a prefect, Percy? You should have said something, we had no idea."
"Hang on," the other side, giving the pretence of thinking very hard, "I think I remember him saying something about it. Once—"
"Or twice—" his twin added.
"Oh, shut up," Percy said in reply, his words holding a bit of fire as he bid his mother farewell, permitting his younger sister to hug him before he headed back towards the train.
"Now, you two—" the mother had turned to the twins who gave off the impression that they were innocent, though Hope doubted that very much. "—this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling me you've-you've blown up a toilet or—"
"Blown up a toilet?" said the twin on the left, slightly incredulous. "We've never blown up a toilet."
"Great idea though," the twin on the right added with a wide grin, "thanks, Mum."
"It's not funny," their mother said with an all-suffering voice. "And look after Ron."
"Don't worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us." They gave identical impish grins.
"Shut up," their younger brother said, but he was ignored. Hope suspected this happened a lot.
"Hey, Mum, guess what?" one of the twins said, glancing towards his brother. "You know that girl we told you that George was talking to at the zoo yesterday?"
"Yes?" she said in confusion.
"Fred," the other said in warning, and Hope suspected that this was George.
"She's here, and you won't believe who she is!" Fred added, grinning widely towards George.
"Who?" she asked in confusion.
Several pairs of eyes turned towards where she was sitting and she scowled at the twins in particular, before leaning back in her seat so she couldn't be seen.
"Blimey," said Fred. "She doesn't look pleased."
George gave his twin a "You think?" expression.