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LUCKILY, rain did not occur on the day that Lola rode the Hogwarts Express for the first time. She and Hermione had found a compartment with a shy boy named Neville, and they had helped him in the search for his toad, Trevor.

She and Hermione stopped at a compartment that contained two boys, and the bushy-haired girl opened the door. The boys gazed up, and Lola found herself entranced by the redhead. He currently held a wand in one hand, and a scruffy-looking rat in the other. 

"Can we help you?" the raven-haired boy politely asked.

Hermione cleared her throat. "Have either of you seen a toad? A boy named Neville's lost one, and- hold on. Are you doing magic? Let's see it, then."

The redhead looked embarrassed to be noticed, but then he gave a shaky nod and directed his wand in the direction of his rat.

"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow...turn this stupid fat rat yellow!" he said.

The rat simply sat there, and Lola could see that nothing had happened at all. Hermione made a tsking noise from beside her, entering the compartment and sitting down beside the raven-haired boy.

"Are you sure that was a real spell? Well, it wasn't very good, was it? I've tried out all of the beginner spells, and they've all worked for me. For example," Hermione pointed her wand towards the boy's glasses. "Oculus Reparo!"

The tape that held the bespectacled boy's glasses together disappeared, and they were repaired. The boy removed the glasses, looking at them in awe. Hermione spotted his scar first, peeking out from underneath the dark fringe on his forehead. Lola spotted it as well, her brown eyes widening as she realized exactly who they were with in this compartment.

"Holy cricket! You're Harry Potter! I'm Hermione Granger, and this is Lola Jones." Hermione said, gesturing to Lola, then turning to the redhead boy. "And...you are?"

"Ron Weasley." the redhead said, the tips of his ears slowly going red.

"Pleasure. We should be arriving soon, so you two should get your robes on. Come on, Lola!" Hermione got up and exited the compartment, but Lola lingered for one more moment.

"You've got dirt on your nose, did you know?" she said to Ron, pointing to the spot on her own freckled nose. "Just there."

Ron's cheeks reddened and he reached his hand up to rub at the spot. Lola gave him half of a smile, then retreated from the compartment and went to go find Hermione.

---

Hogwarts was beautiful, to say the least. Lola's jaw had literally fallen open when she had first set eyes upon it. Now they all waited in the entrance hall, eager to be Sorted. Lola knew that all they had to do was try on a simple hat, as Hermione had divulged that information to her as she read Hogwarts, A History. Lola hoped to be in Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, knowing she could never be brave enough to be a Gryffindor.

"Well, the rumors are true, aren't they?" said a drawling voice, and Lola turned her head so she could see the speaker. "Harry Potter has finally come to Hogwarts."

The boy had a sort of pointed face, and his hair looked like it could have been bleached. His eyes were grey and glittering, landing on Harry's figure as he stood out from the crowd. 

"I'm Malfoy. Draco Malfoy." he said as he came down the steps, his sides flanked by two burly boys.

Lola heard Ron give a snort from slightly behind Harry, watching as Malfoy's head snapped over in his direction to stare.

"Red hair...hand-me-down robes..." a smirk slowly curled the blonde's lips. "You must be a Weasley."

Ron's expression turned mutinous, giving the boy a death glare as he turned back to Harry.

"You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort." Malfoy said, sticking out his hand. "I can help you there."

Harry seemed to give Malfoy a once over before opening his mouth. "I think I can decide for myself, thanks."

Malfoy's cheeks flushed an ugly pink before he stepped to the side. Lola recognized Professor McGonagall as the woman came down the stairs, looking down at all of them.

"Follow me." she said simply, leading them into the Great Hall.

Lola gasped at the enchanted ceiling and the floating candles, even though Hermione had told her that the ceiling was enchanted to match the weather outside. She was still in awe. They lined up down the middle of the room, in front of a stool with a tattered hat. Lola stared at the hat, waiting for it to do something. A rip at the brim opened up and began to sing,

"Oh you may not think me pretty, 

But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.

You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Ravenclaw
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.

So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!"

Everyone applauded, including Lola. Then they all began to step forward to try the Hat on. Hermione went up shortly, plopping it on her head.

"Gryffindor!" the Hat cried, and Hermione went to go sit down.

Lola went up to the stool shortly after her friend, and the last thing she saw before the Hat went over her eyes was a shock of red hair and a pair of blue eyes, peering at her from the end of the line. The Hat was silent, and it felt like it was on her head for the longest time. 

"Gryffindor!" she heard it call out to the students in the Hall, and she smiled brightly, hopping down from the stool and going to join Hermione at the Gryffindor table.

And that is where our story begins.

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