(1939-09-01) The Not-So-Horseless Carriages
Details for The Not-So-Horseless Carriages
Summary: During the carriage ride from the Hogsmeade train station to the Hogwarts grounds, some students get to see something for their first time.
Date: September 1, 1939
Location: On the way to Hogwarts Castle
Related: Hogwarts Start-of-Term Feast, 1939-40

Miranda has queued up with other students exiting the train, her cat still held firmly in hand. She watches as the first years and one rather taller student are led away, then she is poked in the back to move forward to the next available carriage.

Thestrals are not something that most 13-year-old girls are supposed to see. Last year, as far as Elise knew, the carriages moved themselves. So when she sees the creatures harnessed there, she lets out a high, thin scream. She's been moving forward with Miranda. "What are those?!" she gasps.

That scream is quickly followed by a yowl as the cat in Miranda's arms gets squeezed a little too tightly. The seventh year quickly corrects, however, and just barely keeps the stripped cat from bolting. She's about to climb into one of those carriages but pauses to look over at Elise. Then at the front of the carriage. Understanding quickly blooms, and she gives the younger girl a warmly sympathetic smile. "Rough summer holidays?" she guesses, forcing a light tone as she drops her cat inside the carriage, then gestures for Elise to join her. "They're thestrals. If you take the Care of Magical Animals course, you'll study them eventually. Um…" She gives the dark-skinned creatures a long look, then climbs into the carriage, gesturing again. "Quite nice once you, uh… once you get used to them."

Elise nods mutely, and eventually manages to get up the nerve to climb into the carriage beside Miranda. "How'd you know?" she asks. "I didn't see them last year." Looking out the window it seems that either most of the other students can't see them, or aren't bothered by their terrifying appearance. "Are they invisible? Why can I see them?"

Miranda rubs her palms on her robes for a moment as if nervous to be the one divulging such information. A pair of Gryffindor students join the carriage and the door closes, then the carriage gives a soft jolt before it begins to quickly pick up speed. Mir's cat jumps back into her lap and puts his paws on the windowsill to watch the scenery as the seventh year studies Elise again. "My guess is you saw someone die this summer," she shares quietly.

Elise's eyes are large and dark in her pale little face. She nods. "A man," she whispers to Miranda. "Outside the book shop. He… caught fire and…" She swallows and can't continue. "And my uncle died. I did't see that, though. Him. Not until the funeral." She hugs herself and shivers. "Is that what lets people see the — the thestrals?"

Miranda nods slightly as she regards the Gryffindor students, then she turns toward Elise again. "Death marks us. Gives us new perspectives. There's something about the thestrals that are included in that new perspective, I suppose." She draws her cat properly into her lap again, causing him to stare across the carriage at the others.

For some reason, the two Gryffindors look uncomfortable. They whisper to one another, and then jump out. The carriage isn't moving all that fast, after all. That leaves two seats open. Elise leans out to catch the door on her side, which is sort of flopping around uselessly.

Madeline found a spot by herself for a while - just watching the carriages as they're filled by students, and start pulling away. She's not as shocked as Elise by the sight - she went to creature camp. She saw them there, had it explained to her there, but it still makes her sad to see them. It still makes her think of poor Niko and her dad. She looks both ways, trying to spot Niko, but not seeing him anywhere. Then two students bail out of one of the carriages, and she can't help but hurry over to peek inside and- "Elise?" she asks, pulling herself in. "What's wrong with those two?"

Miranda snorts softly as the other students bail. "Oh, brave, brave Gryffindors, those," she drawls quietly, though it's cut off as yet another takes their place. "Hello," she says to Madeline before sparing a look toward Elise again, then she explains, "They probably think thestrals are unlucky. Unless they mistook us for other students when they boarded. I really don't know." A harsh, rattling purr can be heard from the cat in Miranda's lap as she continues to pet him absently.

Elise shrugs, and gives Maddie a wan smile. "It's been an exhausting day," she tells the girl. She stifles a yawn. "Honestly, as soon as we can get to our rooms, I'm sure I'll fall fast asleep."

"It has been a long train ride," Madeline agrees as she settles into place. She glances out the front of the carriage at the thestral before adding, "Oh, they're not so bad. I helped take care of some at Creature Camp - I gave 'em a bath. And they sure do look nifty. I mean - if you can see 'em. Which you probably don't." Under her breath she adds, "I hope you don't." She picks at the edge of her robe a bit uncomfortably.

"We can," Miranda confirms for Madeline, keeping it simple as she smiles. The sound of the carriage changes as they begin crossing the long bridge toward the castle. "I was just telling Elise that we got to study them during my Care of Magical Creatures course. The first sight of them is always a shock, though," she adds, giving the Ravenclaw girl another sympathetic look.

"I do," Elise confesses quietly at the same time as Miranda. She drops her eyes. "I didn't see them at camp, though." Somehow, she just managed to miss that part - but she wasn't there the entire time, either. "We're almost to the school, now," she observes out the window. "Which house do you suppose… Samira Prince will be sorted into?"

Cillian? As soon as he climbed into his carriage, all fully robed up, has been sleep ever since. Its a short ride but cat naps are good.

"Oh," Madeline says a bit lamely, looking between the two. "Umm. Were you at Diagon?" she asks uncertainly. That day. That really horrible day. She looks down, then shrugs her shoulders, picking at her robe again. "Don't really know, I suppose. Don't really know her."

Miranda shrugs slightly. "She's a Prince, isn't she?" she replies, as if that should clearly be answer enough. There is an odd look she gives Elise, though, still uncertain what she walked in on back on the Hogwarts Express. "Whichever it is, I get the feeling she'll hold her own just fine," Miranda adds a moment later, forcing some cheer back into her voice before she leans toward the tiny window, striving to see a glimpse of the castle.

"Yeah," Elise confirms. "Saw a man burn." She bites her lip and keeps looking out of the window. "Same day my uncle died." She'll nod at Miranda's comment. "Yes. Slytherin, probably. I hope she…" she stops herself.

Madeline gives Elise a sympathetic look, then looks down at the floor. "Mister Denhold caught fire, too," she concurs. "You know - Niko's dad. Maybe you don't know Niko - he's a Gryffindor," she explains. "I hope Niko's alright, right now… I didn't see him out there."

Miranda gives Elise a sharper look at the end of the younger girl's comment, but she doesn't reply. With a bump, the carriage crosses the end of the bridge and begins to slow, catching up to the queue of carriages in front of them as they gradually near the point where they can debark. The cat in Miranda's lap gets impatient and tries to depart early, but she keeps a good grip on him, murmuring, "As soon as we get inside, you can go find your little friends." He just gives her one of those highly feline looks, so Miranda looks away to study the other girls again. She starts to say something new, then quickly closes her mouth again as the castle starts to come into view.

"Ladies…the rum's not the chocolate bumble bees…" Cillian murmurs in his sleep.

"I think I know who you mean, Copper," Elise says to Madeline. "I'm so sorry." She can sympathize with the girl. "Poor boy." For a moment she thinks that Miranda is talking to her. "I wish I could sit with Cil," she murmurs, glancing across at the sleeping boy… who has been there the entire time, probably. "But he's not a Ravenclaw." Then she realizes Miranda had been speaking to the cat. His sleepy mumbling makes her blink, and smile. If the other girls are looking at her in this moment, it is CLEAR that she's about as in love with him as a 13-year-old girl can possibly be.

"But we'll take care of him this year. Yeah? Him and your cousin Luci. Make sure they're alright." Madeine glances at Elise with a smile, then back down to the floor. She lets out a sigh - her hand going into an empty pocket. "Abraxas Malfoy took my badge," she complains.

Miranda hitches her robes more securely around her shoulders as the carriage rolls to a stop. The cat in her lap stands in preparation to leap, but Mir catches up in a bear hugged hold before he can bolt. She blinks quickly at Madeline, then frowns. "Stealing. And him a prefect," she muses, shaking her head. I'm sure it will work out. Best of luck!" Then, with a giddy bounce, she opens the door and hops out of the carriage, quickly running ahead to join a group of Hufflepuffs on their way inside the castle.

The carriage stops, and Elise leans across the space. "Cillian," she says. She'll glance at Madeline and then risk it - she gives him a peck on the cheek. "We're here. Wake up!" Then she hops out of the carriage with her owl and dashes off.

"He tried telling me it was an 'unapproved adornment' and that he's gonna have to give it to Professor Dumbledore," Madeline tells Miranda with a roll of her eyes. "But I think he was just jealous. First day as a Prefect, and he's already stealing. Dumbledore'll give it back to me, though!" She smiles at Miranda - then watches the exchange between Elise and Cillian. Huh. "C'mon, Cap'n. We better get to the Gryffindor table!" she encourages him, giving him another nudge to encourage him to wake up. Only once Cillian was groggily on her feet (get it? Grogily?) will she climb down from the carriage.

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