"Bye, Dad." Hiccup managed to fake a smile and waved half-heartedly at his enormous father as the train started moving.
"See you at Christmas, son!" called Stoick as the train disappeared around the corner. Hiccup closed the window and sat back in his empty compartment located in the very back of the train. He could hear Slytherins in the compartments around him laughing and generally causing an uproar.
He slumped against his seat miserably, wishing he had friends. Or, better yet, if he was friends with that Astrid. She was a Slytherin but she was oh-so-clever and drop-dead gorgeous. He wasn't sure why he was attracted to her rebellious and somewhat anti-social personality, but he certainly was and had been ever since he'd met her.
Unfortunately, Hiccup was considered the loser of Ravenclaw and possibly of the whole school. Almost everyone wondered why he was in the House reserved only for the brightest students and only a few actually knew why. Those were the few that tolerated his presence, maybe even liked him a little. But they always enjoyed others' presence far more than his.
The thing was, Hiccup wasn't all that great at magic. He was the type that liked hands-on activities that didn't involve summoning the divine willpower that was needed to conjure magic. He rather liked Herbology and Arithmancy, and he was top of the class with both of them. Even Potions he was pretty good at, when he didn't have to charm one of the ingredients.
It was for this reason that many considered Hiccup to be a "hiccup of a wizard." A mistake. Close to being a squib.
Hiccup sighed. If he didn't do something significantly impressive by Christmas, he was sure to see that disappointed look on his father's face when he asked about all that had happened since he'd left him at the train station.
Hiccup fell asleep on the way for a good couple of hours. When the sweets trolley rolled past, he got up to pay for a share of it before sitting down again and eating his treats alone, wishing he had someone to share it all with.
He had just finished changing into his robes when the compartment door opened. A short girl appeared, with brilliant violet eyes and long dark hair with colorful extensions weaving through her braid. She blinked rapidly before holding out a note at arm's length. Hiccup noticed she wore Gryffindor uniform before he stood up and took the note.
"It's a riddle," she said quickly, looking embarrassed. "You're the first Ravenclaw I noticed and I just wanted to know if you could solve it. It's for a friend. He's in a bit of a...pinch, you might say."
Hiccup blinked. "Okay..." He opened the note and read, 'It's more powerful than God. It's more evil than the devil. The poor have it. The rich need it. If you eat it, you'll die. What am I?'
Being a Ravenclaw, Hiccup had always been quite good at riddles. He was required to solve one before being granted entrance to the Ravenclaw common room. Sometimes he sat there for hours either thinking of the answer or having to wait for someone else to solve it.
As it was, he had heard the riddle before and handed the girl the note. "Nothing," he said.
She stared at him. "What do you mean?"
"The answer is nothing. Nothing is more powerful than God, nothing is more evil than the Devil, and so on."
"Oh." She looked surprised. "Thanks!"
And just like that she sped away down the hall, squeezing in between two Hufflepuffs. Hiccup stared after her a moment, wondering who she was, before shutting the compartment door again. This year would probably just be as strange as usual.