Chloe Beale was always excitable. And the fact she was stood in front of the notorious Hogwarts Express, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of students and families and pets only made her more excited for the new school year.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, and realised she’d been bouncing her heels. “Chloe, honey, calm down.” Her mom smiled at her softly, and Chloe could still, even after 5 years, see the pride in her eyes as she turned to face her.
Chloe’s parents had been suitably shocked when they had someone knocking on their door, telling them their daughter was a witch, but in Chloe’s opinion, they had adjusted well, and she appreciated it with all her heart. They always dropped her off at Kings Cross every September and picked her up every June and once, she even caught her dad reading an old magazine about Quidditch she’d left lying around. It was nice they cared enough to take an interest.
“Sorry,” Chloe said, her voice bright as she stilled her feet. “I’m gonna miss you, tell dad I’ll miss him as well!” For the first time since she’d started Hogwarts, her dad hadn’t been able to see her off for the year, having been called away to China on a business trip. It would be a lie to say she wasn’t disappointed, but her enthusiastic nature and utter delight at the prospect of another year of learning meant nothing could dampen her spirits.
“I will Chlo, he’s so proud of you for becoming a prefect; we both are!” Her mom gushed, using a handkerchief to polish the shiny red and gold badge pinned to Chloe’s chest. “And he asked me to wish you luck in your O.W.L.s too”
Chloe practically beamed at the thought her dad had made the effort to remember the names of her exams, and her smile widened. “Thanks mom, I love you.”
“I love you too honey, now hurry, you’ll miss the train!” Her mom said, with a hint of urgency as she looked at the clock on the platform, chuckling to herself as the redhead threw herself into a quick, last minute hug.
Chloe waved goodbye to her mother, dragging her trunk towards the carriages and soon, she was lost in the midst of the wizarding world.
“Chloe!” Chloe heard her friend before she saw her, whipping around widely to find the source of the voice when suddenly she came face to face with-
“Bree!” Chloe cried out happily in response, pulling her into a tight hug. Aubrey Posen was a 6th year Ravenclaw that Chloe had befriended after they shared an all-nighter in the library, during her 3rd year; the blonde helping Chloe with some transfiguration homework that had brought her to tears, and they had been practically inseparable ever since.
“I missed you too Chlo, we need to have a catch up soon. But, as Head Girl, I’m afraid I have to set you to work since you’re a prefect now” Aubrey sighed sadly. “There seem to be a lot of lost first years that need rounding up and if I don’t do it then Bumper sure as hell won’t.” The blonde rolled her eyes. “How that boy became Head Boy is beyond me.”
Chloe let out a soft melodic laugh. “He isn’t that bad Bree! Right, first year round up, I’m on it! I’ll see you at dinner?”
“Not if I see you first Beale” Aubrey joked, and with that, she was gone, leaving Chloe to gather the lost kids.
After she had herded all of the students onto the Hogwarts Express and got them all reasonably settled, Chloe began making her way to the prefect’s carriage in search of Aubrey.
Chloe thought Hogwarts would have a riot on their hands if the student body found out just how luxurious and lavish the prefect carriage actually was, but luckily for them, it was protected by a spell that doused any non-prefect in ice cold water, and ever since the entire school saw and laughed at that 4th year Slytherin boy two years ago, nobody had tried to break in.
Said Slytherin boy, had since become a prefect, and as of the last few months of her 4th year, had also become Chloe’s boyfriend. As she entered the carriage, her ice blue eyes found his dark brown ones, and her lips pulled into a wide smile as her feet carried her towards him eagerly.
“Hey Chlobird” He said, his dark eyes sparkling as he pulled her into his strong arms, planting a kiss on the top of her head.
“Missed you Tom” She replied, her head buried in his chest, listening to the rhythmic beating of his heart.
Tom was a 6th year, tall, dark haired and with high cheekbones that Chloe marvelled at. He was nice, even when they were just friends, he always walked her to her common room in the evenings and gave her his jacket if she was cold and was never put off by the way Chloe found comfort in (sometimes excessive, she thought) physical contact. He was accepting and charming and although they had only been seeing each other for a few months, Chloe thought to herself that maybe she could fall in love with him.
Herself and Tom had bonded over their shared love of quidditch, despite neither of them being able to play to save their life and after a few too many butterbeers on the empty quidditch bleachers, Tom had whispered that she was beautiful and that he was about to kiss her, and they had been an item ever since. Chloe had spent the majority of the end of her 4th year practically living in the Slytherin common room, helping him study for his O.W.L.s, her perky, cheerful nature helping to motivate him, and he came out with the highest grades in the school. (Not that Chloe credited herself to that, but she totally did).
Their embrace was interrupted by a loud call from Bumper "Right guys, if you could all take your seats that would be cool-"
“What Bumper means,” Aubrey interrupted. Chloe hadn’t seen her appear in her haste to see Tom and she shot the blonde a bright smile. “Is that we have business to attend to.” She finished, shooting a glare to the older boy to her right as she sat in her seat at the head of the table. Chloe pecked Tom’s cheek in a quick goodbye as she made her way to her own seat further down the large mahogany table that dominated the centre of the carriage. She took her seat, and found herself next to a Ravenclaw boy she knew was called Greg, but to whom she had never spoken, and on her other side, to Jesse Swanson, who was presumably the other new Gryffindor prefect.
Jesse had dark hair and eyes, much like Tom, but his eyes we’re filled with warmth and kindness, whereas Tom’s eyes held a mystery Chloe was itching to discover, a secret to unlock. It was what made their relationship so enticing to her. She knew Jesse from the majority of her classes, and he also was a Chaser for the Gryffindor quidditch team, so she liked him and flashed him a bright smile as she sat down, which he returned warmly – giving Chloe the pleasant feeling in her stomach that she got whenever somebody smiled at her.
“Firstly let’s welcome our new prefects. For Gryffindor, Chloe and Jesse,” Aubrey announced, smiling widely at Chloe, who flushed slightly and gave a small wave when her name was mentioned. “For Ravenclaw, Alice and Greg,” The boy beside her, and the girl on his left both raised their hands slightly and Chloe smiled widely at them, hoping to make them feel as welcome as she already did, what with being best friends with the Head Girl and dating the Slytherin 6th year prefect. “For Hufflepuff, Ashley and Benjamin,”
“I-its Benji!” A brown haired boy across the table from Chloe called out, his face red. Aubrey smiled, and nodded, making a mental note to remember.
“And last but not least, for Slytherin, we have Jenna and Johnny.” A pretty blonde girl and a black haired boy both nodded. “Excellent,” Aubrey continued, content with the fact everything had, so far, gone smoothly and without a hiccup. “Now I’d like to congratulate you all on becoming prefects, and I look forward to working with you all in the future.”
Bumper flicked his wand lazily and a goblet appeared in front of each person. He raised his glass, “To the new prefects” The older students all repeated his toast and Chloe picked up her glass, grinning as the scent of Butterbeer filled her nose as Aubrey began to repeat the list of their duties, a list Chloe had read and reread about a hundred times when she got her letter from Hogwarts.
Chloe’s eyes drifted back to Tom, who was sat on the other end of the table, attentively listening to Aubrey, despite knowing all of his duties by heart. She smiled softly, her gaze wandering over his features; the way his hair had flecks of auburn and gold that shone in the sunlight; the way a shadow fell across his features due to his angular jaw and cheek bones; the way that, even though his attention was completely focused on Aubrey, his eyes periodically flitted to Chloe, his jaw slackening into a lazy smile whenever he did. She loved the way he looked at her, it made her feel special.
Aubrey finished her list and smiled “Okay, so that concludes the briefing, if any of you have any questions, feel free to come and find me whenever you need me, I’ll always be there”
A girl with ash blonde hair coughed unsubtly, “Not always”, and Chloe watched Aubrey shoot her a filthy look. Chloe knew the girl, Stacie Conrad was her name and Chloe knew far too much about her to say they had never actually spoken. She was the 6th year Ravenclaw prefect, and Chloe often wondered how she had secured that position; everybody knew of her utterly scandalous reputation, not that Chloe was judging her in any way. She knew her and Aubrey had been friends, and Chloe had listened to many late night confessions from Aubrey regarding Stacie Conrad. However, the pair had, for a reason not even Chloe knew, not spoken in several months. All Chloe knew was that whenever Stacie’s name left Aubrey’s mouth, it sounded unfamiliar and bitter, and for that reason alone, Chloe held a certain dislike to her.
Feeling a hand on her shoulder, Chloe turned to see Tom stood behind her, flashing her a bright smile. Alice had gone to ask Aubrey some questions and Greg had followed, (Chloe swore he had a crush on her, not that it was any of her business), leaving his seat empty for Tom to occupy. Chloe laced their fingers together and squeezed his hand, “So, how does it feel to be a bigshot N.E.W.T student now?” She asking teasingly, tilting her head.
“No different than before,” He chuckled softly, “How was your summer? Did your mother get the flowers I sent?”
Chloe’s grin widened and she almost had to physically force herself not to launch into an hour long speech about how amazing her summer was as she knew that despite his reassurance and protests, even Tom must find her unwavering enthusiasm for life pretty annoying, so she settled for her usual smile and nodded “It was wonderful, and yes, you shouldn’t have Tom! They looked ridiculously expensive.”
The older boy shrugged and replied in a casual, offhand manner, "And? It was no trouble, really.”
Chloe knew that Tom’s family was rich. His was one of the few pure-blood families left intact after the Great Wizarding War and she knew he sat on a not so small fortune, locked away in a Gringotts vault deep underground. Chloe came from a working class muggle family, growing up with only the necessities, never having any money to spare and so she always felt extremely conflicted whenever Tom spent his money on her.
“Still…” She began softly, running her thumb over his repeatedly. “Thank you though, they were lovely.”
He smiled his typical lopsided grin and squeezed her hand. “You’re lovely.” He countered and Chloe rolled her eyes in response. She was about to chide him for such a chaste compliment, when she heard Aubrey calling her from across the room. Chloe stood quickly, leaning down to kiss Tom on the forehead, murmuring that she would see him later, before walking around the table towards Aubrey.
“It’s yours and Jesse’s turn to patrol the train. You just have to make sure th- Hell, you know exactly what you’re doing, who am I kidding?” Aubrey chuckled, making Chloe smile softly. “You can swap with Benji and Ashley at lunch time”. Chloe nodded, wishing Aubrey goodbye as she made her way to the exit of the carriage, dragging a confused Jesse along with her.
They wandered down the carriages in comfortable silence for several minutes until Jesse spoke. “You’re Chloe Beale right?”
Chloe nodded, smiling pleasantly. “I am indeed! It’s Jesse Swanson isn’t it?”
The dark haired boy nodded, “Yeah, that’s right. I’ve seen you in potions, you’re incredible at it!”
The redhead’s cheeks flushed and she shook her head humbly, “I just practise a lot, I was actually failing at the beginning of 4th year but my boyfriend tutored me and now it’s my favourite subject” She smiled widely at the fond memories she was flooded with; Tom running his strong hands through her hair as she poured over numerous text books intently, the kisses he gave her when her potions turned out near perfect. “Why? Do you need help?”
Jesse lowered his head, looking slightly ashamed. “I won’t be able to become an Auror if I don’t get an Outstanding in my O.W.L.s. I think I’m probably working at a T level right now.” He chuckled nervously and Chloe felt her heart sink.
“You can be my bench partner if you like? Then you can watch me and you’ll learn faster.” She beamed, her heart swelling as the boy’s demeanour seemed to lighten immediately.
“I’d like that, yeah.” He smiled, and Chloe couldn’t help but grin back, excited at the prospect of making a friend in Jesse.
They finished their patrol without a hitch and were heading back to the prefect’s carriage when a loud bang echoed through the train. Chloe grabbed her wand; 9 inches made of rosewood with a Veela hair core. (Tom always joked that her wand chose her for her beauty, to which Chloe always rolled her eyes and replied it more likely to be her temperamental nature); and along with Jesse, ran towards the source of the noise.
What they found was a 4th year Slytherin boy that Chloe knew to be a trouble maker. (Tom always complained the kid always caused a scene in the common room), pinned against the wall by his throat, by a short girl with long, dark hair. Her left hand was at his throat, and her right was pointing her wand at his chest.
“Say that again, I dare you.” The girl said darkly, and Chloe couldn’t help but marvel at her voice, it sounded so dangerous, yet soft simultaneously and the redhead half-wanted not to intervene so she could hear the brunette utter more threats.
A whimper from the younger boy brought her out of her thoughts and Chloe raised her wand as Jesse pulled open the door to the compartment. “Put him down, please.” Chloe said, using the most authoritative voice she could muster.
The girl turned to her and Chloe saw her full face for the first time, and for a second was breath taken at just how pretty she was. Not conventionally so, but the way her wavy brunette hair framed her face, matched with her deep blue eyes that Chloe may or may not have been lost in for a moment, made her incredibly striking to Chloe.
She stared at Chloe for a moment with a look of complete disdain, but the redhead held her gaze and after another second, the brunette dropped the boy, smirking slightly as he hit the ground with a loud thud before hurriedly scrambling out of the compartment. At the look of confusion on both Chloe and Jesse’s faces, the girl spoke again, and Chloe swore she could listen to that voice for days. “He called me a mudblood.” She said in a low voice, with a twinge of sadness. Chloe’s heart sank.
“Why didn’t you just hex him?” Chloe’s curiosity overcame her and the words were out of her mouth in a flash. “I mean, why grab him?”
The brunette shrugged disinterestedly, “I don’t like magic.” She stated bluntly. Chloe opened her mouth to ask why, but the other girl interrupted her, “Look Red, are you gonna give me a detention or can I go?” The nickname came out with a mocking tone and Chloe knew it was meant to offend her, but surprisingly it made her want to laugh. Made her want to get to know this girl more than anything.
Chloe deliberated for a second, but she knew if anybody had called her that, she would have been angry too. “You can go.” She replied calmly, and no sooner had the words left her mouth, did the brunette practically shove past the two Gryffindors, and disappear amongst the swell of students crowding the corridor of the carriage.
“Who was she?” Chloe wondered aloud, her eyes still focused on the spot the girl had just vanished from.
“That’s Beca Mitchell.” Jesse said, “I really don’t fancy getting on the wrong side of her, ever.” He joked as they both stuffed their wands back into their robes and began walking back to their carriage.
Chloe only nodded in response, letting her mind wander back to brunette, Beca, and one clear thought made its way to the forefront of her mind.
She had to see this girl again.