Harley and Rowan finally made their way onto the Hogwarts express, with only minutes to spare. They had almost missed the train, as they had been held up at the station momentarily: Hermes had once again managed to escape from his cage and swoop round the platform for ten minutes, causing havoc to many a wizard; knocking over cases, personal belongings and various other animals who were firmly shut in their cages. Once Grace had finally managed to grab hold of him, the last whistle call had been blown, and the carriages were crammed by an influx of young students. The goodbyes and thank you's to Molly and Arthur had now been said, and both girls were struggling trying to find a seat, ideally next to some of their close friends. It seemed like they had already got off to a bad start with some of Anguis Malfoy's Slytherin cronies even before they had even started moving, when they had laughed at Flynn and Grace's nose shrinking sherbet wind up. If looks could kill, she would be dead one hundred times over, thought Harley.
After manoeuvring past many new, lost looking first year students, they finally reached a carriage which held some familiar faces: Hudson Granger, and Lukas Lovegood, two boys that they were extremely close too. Harley hadn't seen them all summer, the only communication between them being from a few rare exchanged letters sent by owls. The boys glanced up from the conversation they were having, (a stupid argument over some sort of good luck potion) and Hudson's face broke into a smile. He was already changed into his Gryffindor robes, and beside him lay a sleeping ginger cat and a pile of advanced textbooks, many of the well thumbed pages being bookmarked with parchment notes sticking out of the sides. Some of them were in languages that Harley couldn't even begin to describe.
"Rowen, Harley! God, it seems like for ever since I've seen you! Did you both have a good holiday?
Rowen gulped slightly, and her eyes went a shade colder than they had been a second a go. No one except Harley managed to notice this, and quickly darted her attention to changing the subject as swiftly as possible.
"Err, yeah I mean its had its ups and downs of course, but I think its nice to be going back to school, don't you think? Reunited with everyone after the many long days of terrible English weather we've been having?" She said.
She locked eyes with Lukas, shooting a strong wave of "don't bring it up" with her eyes. Lukas, being of pure wizard blood of course knew of the horrific dragon attack that had occurred over the summer. Hudson was still unaware of the happenings just yet; during school holidays he resided with his human "muggle" family, and almost felt like he was completely cut off from the wizarding world altogether for months at a time. Harley would bring him up to date as soon as (a still very sensitive) Rowen was out of the room.
"Of course... the weather has been pretty awful. Always raining....." Lukas drifted off as he looked out of the quickly shifting window, which was indeed streaked with crying raindrops.
"Sit down guys anyway. Sorry for the mess." Hudson threw his books underneath one of the benches, making room for one of them to sit down.
Lukas took his place by the window, his eyes darting across the scenery like they always did. His eyes lit up at this; they were the exact hue of the ocean, with arrows of silver shooting through them. Beautiful, but deadly when underestimated, much like Lukas himself.
"Hudson, if you think this is messy you should have seen Harley's room over the summer. It was the most chaotic jumble of junk I had ever seen. On only rare occasions you could see the floor!" Said a perked up Rowen, attempting to smooth down her hair which had only been made more manic by the rain.
"Oh really?" Smiled Hudson. "I would have thought different, you seem so OCD about everything else. Won't let anyone touch your special cloak, god forbid your broom, even your lunch for that matt-"
"Hey! Im really not that bad" Butted in Harley. "I let you use my parchment all the time Rowen, considering you never bother to bring anyway, let alone actually do homework. And I always share my food."
"What, that one bertie bott you gave me in second year? Said Lukas, entering the conversation again.
Rowen, Lukas and Hudson all laughed whilst the train kept thundering along the tracks at a decent speed, the wind howling as they did so. They continued to reminisce, laugh and converse like they usually did for hours, catching up on topics such as exam results, first impressions of the new students, the upcoming school year and things of that relation.
Nothing much else significant happened, until the earth had been slowly pulled away from the sun, and a blanket of darkness swept over the light there once was. Threads of constellations pricked and weaved their way through the sky, surrounding a huge ivory moon in the centre.
Rowan was drifting off into sleep; Hudson was contently flicking through a textbook regarding runes and their uses; Lukas was tracing patterns onto the steamed up train window, and Harley was straightening her Gryffindor tie and cleaning her glasses. There was less than an hour before they arrived now, and they had all shoved their casual clothes into bags they had taken with them onto the train, and changed into their school robes. Harley, Rowan and Hudson's all bore the gold and red colours of Gryffindor, while Lukas's were a dark blue accompanied with bronze, the robes belonging to Ravenclaw.
Harley sighed and ate a few more of Rowans abandoned liquorice wands, and stared outside the window, alongside Lukas. The writing on the window was loopy and cursive, and was imitating what was on the front cover of Hudson's textbook. Out of nowhere, Lukas exclaimed suddenly, and snatched his finger away from the glass.
"Lukas? What happened?" Said Harley, sitting up abruptly.
"The glass. It went all cold." Replied Lukas, almost whispering. Sure enough, thin cracks of ice were blooming across the window rapidly, until delicate claws of frost clung to each inch of it . Hudson folded the page he was reading and put down the book, and looked at the window in awe.
"What the he-...". Hudson was cut off buy a deafening shriek. The train slammed violently to a stop, throwing everybody off the benches and into a muddled heap on the floor of the carriage. All the light suddenly disappeared , and the carriage was plunged into darkness. Steam unfurled slowly into the room, swirling in from the crack between the carriage door and the hallway. Screams were heard from neighbouring carriages.
Hudson quickly picked himself up and helped everyone to their feet. He immediately saw smears of blood on the back of his hand, and feeling no pain himself, quickly assessed who had been hurt. A falling suitcase from above had unhelpfully smacked directly into Lukas's head, leaving him with a nasty cut, dark crimson running down the side of his ear. He grabbed his unneeded grey cardigan and held it against Lukas's temple.
"What the bloody hell was that?" Rowan's eyes shone like glass, heaving a lungful of breath after she finished talking. Her hair looked as though it had been electrified, strands of wirey ginger hair standing up in every direction possible.
"Maybe the engine failed, or an animal ran across the track?" Harley picked out some loose sweets from her sweater that had ended up inevitably everywhere.
Hudson shook his head.
"It wasn't an animal. The train hit nothing. It was as if the driver just hit the breaks for no reason at all."
Harley was trying to flatten Rowans hair with a brush, trying to wrap her mind about what had just happened, when she noticed Lukas staring out of the window again. His eyes were so enormously wide with fear that she followed his gaze outside. Her heart stopped and a jolt of terror racked through her entire body.
"What...on earth are those things?" Said Harley as she dropped the brush and took several steps back from the glass.
Two huge, billowing creatures, draped with gnarled black robes were silently floating through the lifeless sky, their boney fingers poised into a sinister claw. Their hooded cloaks covered almost every inch of their body, including the face, if they did have one underneath it; no one could have possibly known. It felt like all of the happiness and light had completely drained from the world, and Harley suddenly felt a barricade of torment and unhappy memories flood her brain, flowing through every cell in her body. Every hair on her body pricked upright, and she racked with uncontrollable shivers that seemed like they would never end.
Suddenly, the window, as if building pressure the whole time, smashed into a million fragments.
Lukas fell backwards slightly, wincing at the pain in his head. When he regained balance, his beautiful eyes were faced with a huge black shadow, ripping towards him at great speed. Before he had time to utter a single word, his legs buckled from underneath him and everything went cold.