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Stephanie Eckland

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Stephanie Eckland

Taking one final glance back at the castle over the lake, Steph stepped onto the train for the ride that would take her home for the holidays. Was it though? The Hogwarts Express would not be stopping in York, this was a non-stop trip to London. Once at Kings Cross, she would be able to board another train heading for York.

 

To Steph, the seemed a little crazy. She was travelling effectively the length of the country, only to travel back and travel some distance back up to Yorkshire. Why didn't the train travel from a more central location, such as Birmingham? It would make far more sense for the Hogwarts Express to travel from Birmingham, it would cut journey times for most muggleborn passengers down by several hours. Was there something special about London? Fair enough, it was the capital but it was also out of the way for most people. What was the point of traveling to the South East, in order to then take a train to the extreme North?

 

That was how the train ran though, so Steph had to work within the system. "Shall we find an empty carriage?" she asked Willa as she pulled her trunk and her owl cage on board. She had sent Lorna home already, she didn't see any reason for her owl to be cooped up in her cage for such a long couple of train rides home.

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Willa Mercier

Part of Willa was glad to be leaving. Being away from her parents had been difficult. Her life before Hogwarts had been so isolated, though full of joy and love, that it had been difficult to acclimatise to her new environment. But Willa was leaving as a different person, a more confident person. She had made friends, broken rules and learnt so much. She would definitely miss the feeling of being surrounded by knowledge.

 

Of all the friends that she’d made Steph was her most treasured. The two had met at Pre Hogwarts Primary and clicked almost immediately. Being sorted into the same house and spending lessons and down time together had solidified their friendship. Willa considered Steph her best friend, something she’d never experienced before. She’d even invited Steph to visit her over the holiday. She couldn’t wait to show her friend her home, her mother’s garden and her own extensive book collection. She was even planning to gift one of her books to Steph as a Christmas present, What Came First, the Muggle or the Magic, a book she’d mentioned during their first encounter.

 

Pulling her trunk clumsily behind her and ignoring Hilda’s mews of annoyance set off with Steph to find an empty carriage. “Here’s one” she called swinging open the door and dragging her belongings in. It would be almost impossible for her 11 year old body to heave the trunk onto the baggage rails but luckily Steph had taught her a spell to help with that. She easily levitated her trunk and directed it to sit neatly on the shelf.

 

Throwing herself onto the seat she panted with the exertion of manipulating her trunk onto the train, still ignoring the irritated calls of her pet. “I cant believe it’s the holidays already, it’s gone so fast.” Waiting until her friend was equally settled she broached the subject of her impending visit. “So dad said he can sort you out a portkey. If you go to Deans Park my mum will be waiting there. I’ll introduce you at the station, so you know who you’re looking for.”

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Stephanie Eckland

Willa found an empty carriage, and Steph allowed her inside; nodding as her friend levitated her trunk onto the luggage rack. "Useful spell, isn't it?" Steph nodded as she used the same spell to manipulate her own trunk into position alongside Willa's

 

Her friend pointed out how quickly the time had passed. "I know. Less than a year ago, we first met at Pre-Hogwarts primary, and now look at us." They may only be going home for their first Christmas, but Steph had been hitting her books so hard that she had crammed an entire year's study into those few months. It would take most of the rest of her peers the rest of the year to catch up with her, if they ever could but she was certain that she and Willa could stay on the same page. She claimed the seat opposite as she thought back to their first meeting and what it meant to her. "When I first started at Pre-Hogwarts Primary, I spoke with people, but they returned only uncomprehending looks and scratched heads. Then we met and all that changed." Steph gave her friend a grateful smile ."I could not have asked for a better friend."

 

It seemed that Willa had looked into the question as to how Steph was going to get to her house over the holidays, and the solution was more than workable. "Deans Park, that's not far from me" she approved "that'll be ideal. The park will be full of muggles of course, but I am sure your mother and I will be able to slip away, unnoticed." Parks actually made the perfect meeting spot, since muggles also met in such places. They could slip behind a tree or something to mask their escape.

 

She was not happy about all the distressed mewing that seemed to be coming from Willa's cage though. "I can close the door if you want to let Hilda out for a bit" she suggested.

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Willa Mercier

Willa was very grateful that Steph had taught her the charm it had certainly come in handy, especially with the heavy trunks. She felt a little sorry for her school mates who had to try and get them into the carriages without it. “Yes its brilliant, I’ve even taught myself a few others. Its going to be a nightmare not being able to practice spells on holiday.” Although she could have probably have gotten away with it. Her parents would be very disappointed in her and she knew the rule was there for a reason.

 

Steph reminisced on their first meeting and Willa felt the same. She enjoyed the company of her other friends and they allowed her to be young and carefree in a way her and Steph often weren’t. But Willa loved learning and books above anything else and Steph was always happy to do that. “We’re on the same level aren’t we.” She said returning Steph’s smile. “We challenge each other, if you’ve learnt something I want to learn it to, and vice versa.” Both had their strengths and supported each other to overcome any weaknesses.

 

Willa was a little disappointed that she couldn’t go with her mother to collect Steph, but her parents had told her side along apparition was difficult and uncomfortable. “I’m looking forward to you coming over, I think you’ll like my house. We have lots of wizarding devices that you want have seen before, and we have a kneazle and a crup. Though you probably wont get to see them. We’ll keep Rigel, our crup, away. He doesn’t like visitors, and Petal just does what she likes.” She was most looking forward to showing Steph her mothers garden. They had spoken about it already, but Willa knew that Steph would see plenty of interesting things she’d never seen before.

 

Hilda’s mewing was both upsetting and annoying. Willa knew the kitten didn’t enjoy being cooped up in her carrier. “If you don’t mind.” She waited for Steph to shut the door before letting Hilda free. “She really hates being in that carrier”

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Stephanie Eckland

Willa objected to not being able to perform magic away from Hogwarts, although by now they had both cast hover charms on the train. Perhaps the ministry saw the train as an all-magical location, and therefore treated it the same as Hogwarts. Steph didn't think they would get away with magic once they reached King's Cross. "We may not be able to cast spells, but at least we will have our books" she pointed out "I might even order a couple more from Diagon Alley." It wouldn't be quite the same as visiting her local library, but Steph had a portkey that could take her to the alley and back.

 

She nodded when Willa pointed out that they were on the same level. She felt Willa hit the nail on the head when she said they both wanted to learn from each other, and she could think of an example right off the bat. "So what are these other charms you learned?" she questioned. She wasn't going to allow her friends admission to slip past her.

 

Willa spoke of her house, and her wizarding devices. "It will be interesting to see how magical families live their lives" she nodded, feeling positive that Willa think exactly the same about muggle homes. Her friend mentioned a crup and a kneazle. Even though she was muggleborn, Steph had heard of both of them. "I've read some books on magical creatures" she pointed out, although she was sure that would not come as a surprise. "They are similar to cats and dogs aren't they? A crup has a forked tail, and the ministry requires that owners have these trimmed." She decided at the last minute not to call it a 'crup crop'.

 

She closed the door to the carriage so that Hilda could be let out of her cage. "I've never met a cat yet that liked being shut in a box" she commented "despite what Schrodinger says."

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Willa Mercier

That was true, Willa could research spells to her hearts desire ready to test them all on her return. “Shall we make a pact, we’ll both mentally master at least one spell over the holidays. We can show each other what we’ve learnt when we get back to Hogwarts.” It would be difficult to know if they had actually mastered the spells without testing them, so this should test both girl’s intelligence.

 

Willa pulled her wand out of her robes and performed the wand lighting charm. The carriage already bright carriage filled with more light. It made it a little difficult to see so Willa quickly performed the counter curse, extinguishing the light at the end of her wand. It was a spell typically taught during second year and Willa was pleased with how quickly she’d mastered it. “I also learnt the severing charm, though the repairing charms slightly trickier so I’d better not show you that one.” She didn’t want to cause any damage to the carriage that she wasn’t able to repair.

 

“Yes they are somewhat like regular cats and dogs, though Petal would not be happy to hear you say that.” She said with a girn. “She see’s herself as rather above all our other pets. Once a Crup’s had its tail severed you wouldn’t be able to tell that it was a wizarding dog but Kneazles do look different to cats.”

 

With Hilda now happily cleaning herself on an empty seat, Willa turned to Steph with a confused look on her face. “Whose Schrodinger?” she asked. She assumed he must be a muggle, maybe some sort of cat trainer or animal psychologist.

 

((Crup Crop 😂))

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Stephanie Eckland

Willa suggested that they agreed to master at least one spell over the holidays, at least in theory as they wouldn't be able to test their discovery. "Let's do that" Steph agreed "although I am sure I'll be able to learn mroe than one spell, and I think you can too." Considering that they were both girls of strong mental prowess, she wondered if Willa might be setting the bar a little low.

 

Her friend demonstrated a charm, followed by its counter, and Steph watched closely. If anyone performed a new spell in front of Steph, it was a strong bet that she would be repeating it soon afterwards, and sure enough she too lit then extinguished her wand within seconds of Willa casting those spells. Willa also mentioned severing and repairing charms, referring to the latter as slightly trickier. "Perhaps not too tricky for us" she suggested "we've both mastered the summoning charm already, and that is seen as a fourth year spell." She did accept that it wouldn't be practical to demonstrate those spells here on the train though. "Those are two spells for me to research over the holidays then" she smiled.

 

Willa spoke more about her pets, explaining that Petal had a superiority complex and didn't like to be compared with a dog. "I'll watch my tongue around her" she promised. She had no desire to cause offence. As such, when Willa asked about Schrodinger, she tried to explain the scenario with a degree of delicacy. Willa was a cat lover after all.

 

"In 1935, a man named Erwin Shrodinger proposed a quantum mechanics thought experiment" she explained "it is commonly referred to a schrodinger's cat, for reasons I will explain. I will say at the outset that I would not care to put this to the test, I would consider it an act of cruelty." She was trying to lead her friend into it gently, but she knew that she would have to gave a proper explanation. She swallowed before she continued. "He proposed that if you place a cat in a sealed box with some poison and a slightly radioactive substance, you would not know whether or not the cat was alive at any point before you opened the box, and according to the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, before long the cat would be both simultaneously alive and dead. Only when you opened the box, would you see a a cat in just one of these states." She looked across at Hilda, who was at that moment washing herself. "I'm sorry you had to hear that." she apologised to the kitten.

 

A moment later she glanced out of the window as the train started to move, as the view of Hogsmeade station was replaced by rolling countryside.

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