Adara Whelan was waiting for her letter. She had been up since dawn, gazing out of the window as the sun rose, scanning the horizon for the unmistakable shape of an owl winging it’s way towards her. By eight o’clock she was pacing, watching her bare feet cross the floor of her bedroom, mind whirring as she tried to assure herself that yes, it was coming. She needn’t have worried though, because by the time she was called for breakfast a large barn owl was waiting patiently on the kitchen table, a distinctly official letter clutched in it’s beak. Her mother smiled. “Happy Birthday, Sweetie.”
Gemma Mckenzie got her Hogwarts letter on a sunny late spring morning on her eleventh birthday. The owl was a handsome screech owl that landed on her bedroom windowsill and tapped on the window until she got up and opened it. She took one glance at the Hogwarts crest and squeaked excitedly and in an attempt to run down the stairs tripped up. She got up and rushed to her parents yelling at the top of her voice, “Dad! Look!” and waving the letter above her head like a trophy.
When September came, Adara walked onto platform 9 ¾ between her parents, younger brother trailing behind. Her mum cried when they said goodbye, a proud smile on her face as she walked away, back into the muggle world. Adara boarded the Hogwarts Express and found an empty compartment very quickly, considering there weren’t many people on the train yet. Fifteen minutes later, she had her nose in a book when she heard a thump outside the compartment. A girl Adara’s age was face down on the floor, trunk under her ankles as she tried to get up with a sigh. Ardara stood, an amused smile on her face and went to help her up.
“You know it would be so much easier if you removed the trunk from your legs,” she told the clumsy girl at her feet “Then you might be able to stand.”
"Uhh... Th-thank you," the girl replied. Once standing, the girl seemed to regain her composure. "So... Are you sitting with anyone? There aren't many seats left."
"No I'm not," Adara replied, opening the compartment door and stepping inside again. "You can sit with me, I don't mind." The girl followed and glanced up at the trunk stowed above their heads.
"Thanks Ad...Adra?" She asked, playing with the name.
"It's Adara," she corrected with a friendly eye-roll.
"Oh, sorry. By the way, I'm Gemma Mckenzie, call me Gem" the girl introduced herself. Adara smiled.
"Adara Whelan," she replied, settling down again by the window and picking up her book.
"So... Er... Adara? What are you reading?" Gem asked hesitantly.
"It's called 'Quidditch Through The Ages'," Adara answered, barely glancing up from the page. "Quidditch is a really interesting game, don't you think?"
"Uh l... Yeah." Gem watched Adara nervously, starting to understand she'd managed to to encounter an oddball. The train started to move and most of the students, especially the younger ones and including Gem, made their way to the windows in the corridor to watch the station and their families disappear in the distance. Adara looked up from the window and watched London turn into countryside. When Gem came back, Adara was reading again and she stood there awkwardly for a moment before sitting down and letting her eyes wander around the compartment. After two minutes of this, the compartment door opened loudly, startling Adara into a standing position. Upon seeing the handsome older boy that was now standing in the doorway, Gem squeaked and hid behind Adara.
"Gem?" Adara whispered. "Gemma, what's wrong? Gemma where is the danger? Gem, do you know him?" Adara could feel her new friend shake her head.
"Oh, sorry ladies," he said with a charming smile. "I was looking for my brother. He's a first year, about yay high. His name's Sam." Adara furrowed her brows.
"He's not here, obviously, but we'll keep an eye out," she told the boy.
"Uh... Thanks. The name's Dean, by the way. Dean Winchester," he flashed them another grin and left. As soon as he was gone, Adara turned around, a puzzled look on her face.
"Gemma are you okay? What's wrong?"
"I... He's a boy a-and he's older than us... And he looks nice..." She replied, the last four words of her sentence barely audible.
"Seriously?" Adara rolled her eyes. Definitely not going to be a Gryffindor then... She stared at Gem incredulously for a second before both girls burst into fits of raucous laughter.
"Uhh..." They were interrupted again by another boy, this time a first year and obviously not quite so intimidating because Gem didn't even flinch.
"Hi," greeted Adara, smiling at the boy.
"Did a guy just come through here..?" The boy started.
"Yeah. He was looking for you," Adara replied, making Gem gape at her. "It's Sam, right?" The boy's brows furrowed.
"How did you..." He began.
"Lucky guess," Adara smiled. "And there's a vague resemblance and you look like you know he's looking for you and you don't want to be found."
"Oh. Uh yeah. Which way did he go?" Sam asked.
"Back the way you just came from so congrats for successfully dodging him," Adara pointed in the direction of the front of the train.
"Thanks..." He looked between the girls awkwardly. Taking pity on him, Adara laughed.
"You can sit with us if you want. We're first years too."
"Thanks," Sam smiled gratefully and sat down beside Gem.
"So," Adara started and it sounded like she was about to start questioning. "Why are you hiding from your brother?"
"I'm not hiding!" Sam protested but Adara and Gem both shot him a look that said he wasn't fooling anyone. "Not really... I just..." He sighed. "He's convinced he had to look out for me all the time and it can get really annoying."
"Fair enough," Gem said. "I can understand that."
"Yeah, me too, but fair enough for Dean, too," Adara said. "I mean, I have a little brother and I feel like I have to look out for him all the time."
"Oh really? When will he be coming to Hogwarts, then?" Sam asked.
"Our third year," Adara replied. "Wow, that's weird."
"So, what houses do you reckon you guys will be in?" Gem asked before yet another awkward silence could settle.
"Ravenclaw," both Adara and Sam replied at the same time, causing them to giggle. "What about you?" Adara asked.
"Uhh... I don't know," Gem replied, regretting asking the question in the first place. "Knowing me, I'll probably be out in Hufflepuff," she grumbled. Adara scoffed.
"You say that like its a bad thing!" She said.
"Isn't it?" Gem asked. "Isn't Hufflepuff where they put all the spares? The ones who don't fit with the other three?"
"No! Not at all. Helga Hufflepuff was the founder who wanted to let in all the most loyal, hard working students. The ones who judge people on their own merit. Nowhere in 'Hogwarts: A History' when they talk about the founding of the houses does it say anything about Hufflepuffs being the spares. You shouldn't worry about being in Hufflepuff, Gem."
"Wow, someone's done their homework," Gem said, but she smiled all the same. "Thanks."
The three of them continued talking about the year ahead for a long while. The lunch trolley came and went and so they pigged out on Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and cauldron cakes (no liquorice wands for Adara and Sam) and they got to know each other as the countryside became more rugged and marshy as the day wore on.
An hour before the sun began to set, the new trio were interrupted by a commotion outside. The three of them looked at each other in confusion before deciding to go and have a look to see what was going on.
Out in the corridor, a burly fifth year was standing over a small looking third year who was trying to shuffle away from the girl.
The boy was whimpering as he tried to stand but the girl just pushed him down again with a sneer. As they watched, Gem saw a dark haired first year run out of a nearby compartment to come to the boy’s defence taking on a protective stance between the two.
“Hey!” he yelled.
The girl with the red bandana in her hair glared at the newcomer and growled at him “Get outta my way”
“Why don’t you leave them alone” Gem said, helping up the boy on the ground. Adara looked at her surprised. What had happened to the timid, blushing girl that was hiding behind her not an hour ago.
“Stay out of this girlie,” growled the girl.
“Why? Because you’re bigger than her?” Adara demanded as she and Sam appeared behind Gem. She gave her new friend a comforting nudge. Bolstered, Gem took a step closer, coming level with the dark haired boy.
“I said, leave. Them. Alone,” Gem repeated, crossing her arms in front of her chest and glaring at the fifth year.
“Yeah,” the boy supplied. “Turn around and leave.” The girl looked ready to commit murder but she was now faced with four students between her and her victim and suddenly the odds weren’t in her favour.
“You’re dead, Jackson,” she growled, shoving the dark haired boy hard enough he fell over the boy on the ground, before stomping off to a compartment full of Slytherins.
“I hate people like that” Gem muttered, tucking a piece of her hair behind her ear.
“Theres no point worrying about it any much, They’re not worth it” Adara said “Lets just go”
Gem nodded and turned to walk with Adara and Sam, when they heard a voice call out to them.
“WAIT!” a hand wrapped around Gem’s wrist, She turned to face a head of curly ginger hair. It was the boy the fifth year had been picking on. He looked at her sheepishly. “I just wanted to thank you, you know, for standing up for me. You were really brave,” he smiled. “I’m Grover Underwood, by the way. What’s your name?”
“Gem, Mckenzie,” Gem replied.
“Percy Jackson,” The dark haired boy introduced himself, holding his hand out for Gem to shake. Gem blushed furiously and her eyes widened.
“H-Hi,” she stuttered nervously, her hand almost shaking when she took his.
“Thanks for helping out my friend,” he told her.
A light red dusted Gem’s cheeks, not quite meeting his gaze. Adara sighed. And she’s back. At least she’s brave with the important things. She glanced outside, noticing the setting sun.
“Sorry to interrupt, but we need to change into our robes now” Adara paused, seeing as Gem was quite obviously not listening “Gem? Hello? Remember that thing called school? We need to get changed into our robes. Like now.” Adara grabbed her arm, pulling her out of the daze and started to drag her down the corridor “Pleasure to meet you boys,” she called over her shoulder.