(A/N - The characters might get a bit confusing to start with, so go here to unconfuzzle your mind a little.) Amy sat uncomfortably in her carriage, on the way to Hogwarts. She had lived in an orphanage for her whole life so far, and it had been a real shock finding out that her parents might have been wizards. She had never known anything about them. Still, she had the whole, quiet train ride to mull things over, since her compartment was completely empty.
Suddenly, the door slid open, and a crowd of noisy, laughing people burst in.
"I say, you don't mind if we sit here, do you?" asked one of them. Amy shook her head, sat back, and watched closely.
A little girl with red hair was talking to a boy whose hair was a slightly darker red. They looked as if they might be brother and sister. Two identical boys sat beside them, as well as another red-haired girl.
"I'm Lorcan, and this is my brother Lysander," said the boy who had asked if they could sit in the carriage.
"And I'm Lily, this is my cousin, Hugo, and my other cousin, Lucy," added one of the red-haired girls.
"I'm Amy," Amy said cheerfully, although she had to hide a twinge of nervousness inside her. These people all obviously knew each other, and she didn't know any of them.
The door slid open again, and a boy with messy black hair, green eyes, and glasses stuck his head in. "Alright there Lily?" he asked. "Seen Roxanne?"
Lily shook her head. "No, I thought Fred was looking after her."
"Well, he's not. He and James are running around the prefect's carriage and generally annoying everyone. Louis says that they're being absolute nuisances."
"I'll keep an eye open for her," Lily promised, and the boy, satisfied, left. "That's my big brother, Albus," Lily confided to Amy, sitting down beside her. "James is my brother too, he's fourteen. Albus is only thirteen, but he's way more sensible. Roxanne is another one of my cousins and Fred's her brother, he's the same age as James. Hugo's sister, Rose, is the same age as Albus."
Amy's head was starting to spin with all these people and brothers and sisters and cousins. Life was much simpler without a family, she decided.
"Louis is our cousin too," Lily continued. "He's a prefect, and his older sister Dominique's in her last year at Hogwarts. And Molly, she's Lucy's older sister, she's the same age as Albus and Rose."
Amy was saved from having to say anything by two girls who flung the carriage door open. One of them had the trademark red hair of Lily's family, and, sure enough, as she entered, Lily grinned.
"Hello, Roxanne. Albus was wondering where you were. Did you know Fred and James are annoying the prefects? Hope they get detention."
The other girl was much smaller and slighter, with white blond hair and large blue eyes. She stepped in carefully, avoiding all the luggage, and slumped into a seat next to Amy.
"Mind if I join the carriage?" she asked Lily. "I don't want to sit with my brother, he's a pig. I'm Alicia, by the way."
"Sure, come on in," Lily nodded, ignoring the fact that Alicia was in already. "And try not to sit on anybody. This carriage is packed full of my family and family friends, so I think they might be missed a little."
Alicia grinned back, her sense of humour obviously as good as Lily's and propped her head on her hand. Something told Amy that this train ride would not be spent quietly thinking her own thoughts.
Amy bundled out of the carriage, dragged by Lily, who had hold of Alicia in one arm and Amy in the other. She pulled them forwards, passing the tousle-haired boy with glasses from earlier, who grinned at his little sister's determined air. Lily ignored him, sticking her nose in the air. The three of them followed all the other first years, barely able to see or hear anything, because of the vicious storm that howled around them. There were small boats to sail across the lake with. Lily, Alicia and Amy were followed into their boat by Lily's cousin Roxanne.
"My brother says that going across the lake in the boats is the best part of Hogwarts," Lily said. "I want to see a Thestral, though, but since I've never seen anyone who died, I guess that won't happen. I think I'll be in Gryffindor. I want to be, since my Dad was, and my Mum was, and Albus and James are too. What house do you think you'll be in?" She rounded suddenly on Alicia.
The pale girl shrugged. "We have a big family history for Slytherin," she said, then wrinkled her nose. "I'm not to keen on that though. I hate snakes."
Amy stared at them with wide eyes. "What houses?"
Lily stared back. "What do you mean, what houses? Don't you know anything about anything? Sheesh! Ok, so, Gryffindor is the best house, and the colours are scarlet and... gold, I think, and the symbol is a lion. It's for people who are brave and awesome, like me."
"Then there's Ravenclaw," Roxanne added. "That's the house I want to be in. The colours are blue and bronze, the symbol is an eagle, and it's for people who are wise and non-judgemental. Mostly."
"And Slytherin," Alicia explained, "is considered the worst house. Like, the bad house. That's where Voldemort went. Colours are green and silver, symbol is a snake, and it's for people who are cunning. Like my rubbish brother."
"Hufflepuff is the last house," Lily said quickly, clearly determined to talk again. "That's yellow and black, with a badger, and it's for people who are hard-working, apparantly, although everyone else thinks it's for stupid people." She clapped a hand over her mouth, and mumbled, "Unless you're in Hufflepuff, of course. Whoops."
All conversation fell silent as they drifted over the crest of a wave and beheld the castle for the first time. Windows glittered with yellow lights, and turrets were outlined against a dim horizon. Above them, they could see all the constellations of the sky more clearly then ever before, accompanied by shimmering green and purple lights dancing through the crisp air.
"That's the Aurora Borealis," Lily whispered, not wanting to break the spell. "The Northern Lights. It happens in the Southern Hemisphere too, only not so often. Isn't it cool?"
Amy nodded, hardly daring to breathe as the boats docked one by one near the side of the castle. The First Years crowded together to follow the huge, shambling figure guiding them up a steep, stony path. A skinny boy tripped, only to be grabbed in one meaty hand and set gently upright again. He gaped up at the giant leading them in amazement.
"That's Hagrid," Lily said.
"My brother hates him," Alicia told them with a grin. "He got detention from him on his second day here."
"Is he a real giant?" Amy asked, whispering as softly as she could above the tramp of feet on stone.
"Nah," Lily scoffed. "Just a half-giant."
"And ogres and trolls? Are they real too?"
"Duh," drawled a voice from behind them. A good-looking boy with dark hair and eyes pushed through their little group to walk beside Alicia. "Of course they are. How can you not know that? Are you a Muggle-born or something?"
Amy shrugged. "I don't know. I never knew my parents. They both died before I was born."
Alicia frowned, but let the comment slide, while Lily gasped, hands flying to her mouth again. "Oh my gosh, I didn't know! I'm so sorry!"
Amy gave a tight-lipped smile. "It's fine," she soothed her new friend.
The newcomer held out his hand. "My name's Olivan O'Toole," he offered. "Of the famous O'Toole bloodline. You've heard of it, of course."
"Of course," Alicia mocked under her breath. Olivan gave her an approving glance.
"I'll be in Slytherin, naturally," he said loftily. "I'm far and away clever enough to be in Ravenclaw, but who wants to be a nerdy swot?" He gestured with his head towards the skinny boy ahead of them and let out a guffaw. The boy swung around timorously, pushing his glasses up his nose with one hand, and hunched his shoulders miserably.
There was a sudden crash of thunder above them, and the First Years scuttled into the overhang of a tall, stone door. It was flung open by a skinny woman in long green robes.
"Thanks, Hagrid," she said kindly. "I'll take them from here."
Hagrid nodded in the affirmative, and lumbered off.
"Greetings, students. My name is Professor Bell, head of Gryffindor house and Deputy Head. Follow me, please."
Amy followed the tall woman anxiously, feeling Lily pushing close behind her. Alicia grabbed her hand and gave her a nervous grin. Olivan had weaved ahead of them, and was elbowing his way to the front of the line. They followed the woman silently until they came to a small, unobtrusive wooden door.
"The Sorting will begin presently," Professor Bell told them. "You will sit on the stool when your name is called, place the Sorting Hat over your head, and it will announce your house to the hall. Follow me, now."
Amy followed the Professor dubiously through the door, and into the vast, golden hall beyond. Gaping, she stared around in wide-eyed wonder at the floating candles, enchanted stormy ceiling, and rows of benches covered in talking, laughing students. Lily waved cheerfully at Albus, seated at the Gryffindor table, and he gave her a thumbs up.
As they reached the front of the hall, Professor Bell pulled a piece of parchment from her robes and unrolled it, beginning to read out the names for the sorting.
They waited with anticipation as a round-faced boy pulled the hat over his ears and sat foolishly on the stool. Suddenly, a slit in the brim of the hat opened wide, becoming a mouth which yelled;
Samuel yanked the hat off with relief and headed to the Hufflepuff table to the accompaniment of cheers and claps. Amy waited anxiously as Professor Bell called out three more names, and then, after Baker, Abigail (Ravenclaw) it was finally her turn.
Amy approached the stool timidly, raised the hat, and gently set it on her head, before sinking onto the stool. Her legs swung gently as she waited - her legs were too short to reach the ground.
"So....," a voice mused in her head, and she looked around wildly. "I've been waiting for you. I sorted your whole family, I did. Mother in Hufflepuff, father in Gryffindor, and your brother was in Gryffindor too. So was his girlfriend. I remember everything. Now, what have we here?"
The hat muttered, and Amy got the uncomfortable sense that it was looking into her mind. She shifted slightly on the chair. "Interesting, very interesting. I think it's safe to say... Gryffindor!" The last word was shouted aloud to the hall, and Amy jumped off her stool with relief, yanking the hat off and jogging down to the table where she waiting for her friends to join her. More names were called; Knight, Fabian and Knight, Hex both came to join Gryffindor, as well as Marvel, Mikhael, the skinny boy Olivan had been teasing before.
A murmur went around the hall, and Amy saw a boy at the Slytherin table with Alicia's white-blond hair grinning unpleasantly.
There was a startled pause before the claps erupted from the Gryffindor table. Alicia slid happily into a seat beside Amy, her face flushed with exhilaration, and pointed to her brother.
"Look at his face," she whispered gleefully. "Scorpius is going to write straight home to Mum and Dad about this."
They waited as more First Years were Sorted. Olivan O'Toole became a Slytherin, Lorcan and Lysander both went to Ravenclaw, along with Roxanne and Hugo, Lily's cousins. Lucy, another cousin, was sorted into Hufflepuff, and Lily herself came to join the Gryffindor table, her face flushed and beaming.
"Glad that's over with," the skinny boy muttered, looking around nervously.
"Now for school to start for real," Lily said with anticipation. "I give it a week before I've saved the day. It's a family thing."
Amy's hand trailed across the scarlet duvet, falling over the edge of the bed and dangling in the empty space. A mouse scuttled across the wooden floor, considered nibbling her fingers, and thought better of it. Rain pattered gently against the window pane, failing to wake the girls in the first year Gryffindor dormitory. Ouside, a small dark figure blurred by the glass stood gazing up at the window. Her piercing blue eyes were fixated on her goal, and long dark hair whipped around her face. The girl was slight, petite even, with a narrow waist and flat chest. She was short, perhaps only 165 centimetres, and had the proportions of an adolescent.
A bolt of lightning arced across the dark sky, and when it cleared the girl was gone. Within the dormitory, the children slept on, unaware of the fates being decided at that very moment.
When morning came, it was Amy who opened sleepy eyes first, blinking dazedly at her surroundings. For a moment she imagined she was back in the orphanage, but reality hit her with a yell. Lily's yell, as the redhead sat bolt upright in bed, tossing the covers back and swinging skinny legs onto the floor.
"What was that all about?" Alicia grumbled, putting a pillow over her head. "Are you always this noisy?"
"It's my wake-up shout," Lily explained, standing up and tugging at her too-short nightdress. "It makes me wake up faster."
"It would make the dead wake up faster," Alicia retorted. "I suggest you go back to sleep."
"I second that motion," Hex Knight grumbled from the end of the room.
"No time for sleeping!" Lily announced cheerfully, whirling across the room to pull Amy's duvet off her. "We have to get to class!"
"Damn!" Alicia yelped, leaping to her feet and hitting her head on the bedpost. "Ouch," she added, rubbing at the sore spot. "I forgot it was school already. We'll be late!"
"Who do you suppose that is?" Hex asked, pointing at the fifth bed in the room, the one closest to the door. "She must have come in really late."
"Latvia Firestone," Amy said firmly. When the others shot her incredulous looks, she grinned and pointed at the evidence. "It's on her trunk."
"Should we wake her?" Lily asked.
"The whole world is probably awake after that yell of yours," Alicia grumbled. She crossed over to the bed, padding across the floorboards with bare feet, and gave Latvia a cautious prod. "Wake up," she said bluntly.
The girl blinked open startlingly pale blue eyes, and stared up at Alicia. "Why?" she asked logically.
Alicia frowned, having to think for a minute. "Because you don't look like you're any good at sleepwalking through class," she said. "Come on, up and at 'em."
Latvia wrinkled her nose, then pulled herself out of bed. "What do we do now?" she asked, shaking back messy golden curls.
Barely ten minutes later, all five girls were pelting down the stairs and out of the Gryffindor common room. The Fat Lady waved at them as they hurtled past her, running towards their first class.
"Transfiguration," Alicia panted, trying to hold her schedule in front of her as she ran. "Where the hell is Transfiguration?!"
Albus Potter poked his head out of a classroom as they passed, grinned, and jerked his thumb back in the opposite direction. Alicia gave a groan, and turned on her heel, spinning around and racing back the way they had come. The others followed suit, Amy desperately fumbling in her satchel for a map. They almost collided with a group of fifth years. One of them, a handsome blond boy with a Hufflepuff crest on his robes, laughed when he saw Lily's desperate face, and shoved her towards a thick, studded wooden door.
"Thanks, Louis!" Lily yelled, waving after him, and the five girls pushed the door open and collapsed into their class.
"I thought we were missing some students," the woman standing there said. "Welcome, girls. You're late."
"Sorry," Lily panted. "We got lost."
"And I slept in," Latvia volunteered, earning herself an approving glance from Hex and a friendly nudge from Alicia.
The woman eyed Latvia keenly. "Ah, yes. You arrived late, didn't you? I remember now. Well, find seats, quickly now. My name is Professor Santiago."
Amy managed to grab a chair between Alicia and Lily, and Hex and Latvia found empty spots in the row behind them.
"Now, Transfiguration, as I hope you all know, is the study of turning things into other things. Objects into other objects. There is no line between the living and the lifeless in Transfiguration; for example, in your second year you will begin learning how to transform animals into inanimate objects. But, for today, we'll start with something simple. You will all have a regular matchstick lying on the desk in front of you - by the end of the lesson, lets hope that it will resemble a needle. There is only one charm used for Transfiguration, and everything else is limited merely by your imagination, as all magic is. So, you will tap your wand on the matchstick, say "fereverto", and you will hold in your mind the image of the needle. Wands ready? One, two, three..."
"Fereverto," Amy muttered, touching the wand to the matchstick. Nothing happened, and she glared at the wooden twig.