Wanda Maximoff was completely prepared for her first year at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She had all her things packed, had unpacked and re-packed twice to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything.
Checked and double checked the date and time on her train ticket, even though she knew it was the same every year.
Her twin, Pietro, had taken a rather easy-going approach to packing, and teased his sister over her over-zealous preparations. Wanda had almost thrown 'A History Of Magic' at his head in response, until Laura stepped in to defuse the situation, praising her for being so organised. Laura Barton and her husband, Clint, had taken the twins in after their parents had been killed in the Second Wizarding War.
Clint had also praised Wanda for her organisation, as he had been in quite the mess the night before his own first trip on the Hogwarts Express. However, he also, jokingly, pointed out that the really important thing was that they didn't end up in the wrong House, or they might be disowned.
While Laura, a very proud Hufflepuff, turned her attention away from the twins to playfully punch her Gryffindor husband's arm, and berate him for his comment, Wanda, still slightly annoyed with Pietro, snatched his Potions Kit and hid it in her own trunk.
There was no 'wrong' house. That was a lesson drummed into all potential Hogwarts students nowadays, although some minor prejudices still remained.
It had never mattered much to Wanda what House she ended up in. Whatever happened, she would always be with her brother, and that was the way she wanted it, even when he drove her insane.
Wanda spent the first part of her trip on the Hogwarts Express squeezed into a crowded compartment with Pietro, and a gaggle of new friends he had seemed to make almost instantly. Wanda, unlike her brother, was not all that social, so she tried to spend the time reading the first few chapters of each of her school books to give herself a head start, with the cage of her owl, Gamora (Only hers, the Bartons didn't think Pietro was responsible enough yet for a pet of his own) tucked between her legs.
Eventually, however, the noise became too much for her to handle. Annoyed, Wanda stowed her book back into her trunk, gathering up both it, Gamora's cage, and a few sweets before moving to another, hopefully quieter compartment, stopping only briefly to slip a chocolate frog down the back of Pietro's shirt.
Making her way down through various other compartments packed to the brim with chatty young Witches and Wizards, Wanda eventually found one that was empty save for a small, slightly scruffy looking First Year boy with golden hair and bright blue eyes.
A book lay open beside him, suggesting that he had had the same idea as Wanda, but he had clearly become distracted, playing with a small kitten, it's fur the shade of grey that cat people referred to as Blue.
"Hey" Wanda asked, gesturing to the seat across from him, "Can I sit here?"
The boy jumped, slightly startled, but nodded.
"Y-Yes, of course.. Is it your First Year too?"
"Yeah" Wanda confirmed as she sat down, now with enough room to place Gamora's cage in the seat beside her. Because Laura would have wanted her to be polite, Wanda introduced herself. "I'm Wanda Maximoff."
"Vision Jarvis" The boy replied. "Nice to meet you."
"You too.." Wanda quickly retrieved her book and opened it, intending to shut the door on further conversation, and Vision, unbothered by this, turned his attention back to the kitten. She read for a few minutes, but became distracted by the kitten prancing about in her peripheral vision. She couldn't help noticing that it walked with a limp, and had a small scar across one eye. "What happened to your cat?"
"I don't actually know" Vision shrugged. "She's only been my cat for a few hours. I found her in the front garden at my Orphanage as I was leaving for King's Cross, and we're allowed a cat at Hogwarts, so I thought, why not?"
"I see.." Wanda returned to her book. She wasn't as affected as you might think by meeting a fellow orphan. There were plenty of orphans about after the Second Great Wizarding War, and it was a sad but inescapable reality that not all of them had people to take them in.
"Whoa, careful little one" Vision scooped up his kitten as she attempted to get a little too familiar with Gamora's cage, and blushed when his stomach suddenly rumbled.
Wanda, looking up from her book once more, realised that he probably hadn't been able to afford anything from the trolley, and it didn't look like he'd brought anything else with him.
"Here" She offered Vision her sweets.. Two chocolate frogs, a liquorice wand, and a half empty pack of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. She'd really only taken them to annoy Pietro. "But don't stuff yourself.. the Welcome Feast is supposed to be huge."
They didn't speak much for the rest of the trip, but the silence between them was not awkward or uncomfortable.
When the Hogwarts Express reached it's destination, Wanda was unable to locate Pietro among the crowds of students disembarking the train, or the rest of the First Years as they were called to the boats for the trip across the lake, so, not wanting to be alone, she remained with Vision.
He was very gentlemanly for an eleven year old, offering a hand to help Wanda safely into the boat. Once they reached the shore, heading into The castle for the first time, Wanda spotted Pietro, and hurried to join her brother.
"Bye!" Vision waved. "Maybe we'll be in the same House!"
"Yeah.. Maybe" Wanda replied, but she doubted it. That kid was a teddy bear, and she.. she was not.
Although she had her brother by her side again, Wanda found herself surprised by just how nervous she was as she was waiting in line for her sorting. The line grew shorter as each new student joined their House, to the claps and cheers of their new Housemates.
Wanda looked up at the familiar name, seeing her unlikely new friend nervously hurried forward and perched on the stool. The decision was made just a few seconds after the Sorting Hat slipped over his eyes.
Wanda wasn't surprised. She'd had Vision pegged as Hufflepuff the second she'd walked into that compartment and seen him playing with his kitten. That wasn't meant as an insult of course. She had a lot of respect for Hufflepuffs, especially since she was being raised by one.
Vision stopped to wave at Wanda as he headed to the Hufflepuff table, and Wanda, strangely, felt herself blush. No, Wanda Maximoff did not blush over boys. She had much more important things to worry about. The Great Hall had just gotten warmer, that was all.
More students were sorted, and then, Finally, Pietro's name was called. He rushed forward, free of the nerves that had been plaguing his sister.
The hat took a little longer than it had with Vision, but soon enough..
Pietro punched the air, rushing over to join their table, and Wanda noticed a few of his new friends were already there.
Gryffindor, hmm? Wanda supposed it would do, and Clint would be proud.
Wanda strode over to the stool, fully expecting to join Pietro at the red-And-gold decorated table in the next few moments. The Sorting Hat slipped over Wanda's eyes.
Wanda almost jumped when she heard the Hat speak inside her head, and hoped no one had seen.
"Let's see.. my, you have some big plans for yourself, don't you? What else? You like to play a few tricks.."
"O-Only on my brother.."
"I don't judge, Maximoff, I only sort, and I know exactly where to put you.."
"W-Where?" Wanda suddenly grew more nervous, and then..
Wanda felt numb, almost stumbling as the Hat was removed from her head and she was gently nudged from the stool to make room for the next student.
As much as Gryffindor hadn't really felt like the right fit for her, Wanda had never dreamed that she'd be in a different House to her twin, and definitely not the one that was the historic rival of his. Wanda forced her feet to move, taking a seat beside another Slytherin First Year ("Johnson, Daisy!") who had been sorted shortly after Vision. The other girl had greeted Wanda quite cheerily, but Wanda, still in shock, could only nod.
She didn't really listen as the Headmaster spoke, didn't eat much at the Feast. She followed, moving on auto-pilot as the Slytherin Prefects, Loki and Natasha, rounded up the First Years to guide them down to the Common Room. They passed the Hufflepuffs on the way, and Vision waved. Wanda barely registered his presence.
And when she curled up in her bed in the First Year Dormitory, away from her brother for the first time in her life, Wanda screwed her eyes shut, trying not to cry.
The following morning, Pietro happily jumped up to greet Wanda when she passed by the Gryffindor table on her way to Breakfast, asking how her first night had gone. She could see that he was coping with their separation much better than she was, having already bonded with the other Gryffindor First Year boys. Pietro had always been better at making friends than she had.
Wanda forced a smile for her brother, a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, and promised him her night had been fine. Pietro, who had never been overly observant, grinned, glad to believe her happy, and said he'd see her the next morning for Herbology, which the Gryffindors and Slytherins would be taking together that year, and that they should make plans to meet up next time their free periods synced.
Wanda agreed, still keeping her smile in place, and continued on her way to the Slytherin table. She didn't notice the concerned expression on the face of a kind Hufflepuff boy as she passed by.
Wanda scraped through her first two classes for the day (Transfiguration and History of Magic), with the reading ahead she'd done before arriving at Hogwarts saving her from appearing as though she wasn't paying attention when called on.
After, she decided to skip out on lunch, and take some time to herself to try and clear her head, and deal with all her feelings about her current situation. She headed down into the Dungeon, but when she reached the entrance to the Common Room, though she knew the password (Hinkypunk) perfectly well, she couldn't bring herself to say it, somehow feeling like saying it, like entering the Slytherin Common Room alone, was the same as accepting that she belonged somewhere her brother did not, that they were meant to be separated, and Wanda wasn't ready to do that, not yet. So, Wanda moved away from the entrance, sitting down on the cold stone floor of the corridor.
She didn't cry, but she definitely cut a sad figure, sitting there all on her own. However, she wasn't there alone for long before she heard feet coming down the corridor. She was about to jump up, thinking of how embarrassing it would be to have one of her Housemates find her in this state.. But it was only Vision, his kitten limping playfully behind him, now wearing a collar with a small star-shaped pendant. Already feeling comfortable around the boy for some strange reason, Wanda relaxed, sitting back down.
"You've made a wrong turn" She told him, pointing. "The entrance to the Hufflepuff Common Room is back that way, past the Kitchens.."
"I know" said Vision, sitting beside her. He looked a bit less scruffy than he had on the train, but his robes were clearly just a little too big on him. "I came looking for you."
"Why?" Wanda frowned.
"Well, you weren't at lunch.. and you looked a bit upset this morning at breakfast, so I thought someone should come check that nothing was wrong.." Vision explained. The kitten jumped into his lap. Wanda could now see the name 'Nebula' on the pendant. "So.. what are you upset about? If it's about being in Slytherin, I don't think anyone really believes the stuff about Slytherin being the evil House anymore.. and the colour kinda goes nicely with your eyes, there's always that.."
Wanda opened her mouth, initially intending to snap at him, but the comment about here eyes had taken her off guard. Instead, she suddenly found herself spilling her guts, including, maybe, the real reason she was so worried about being away from Pietro.
"It's nothing to do with the House itself" She sighed. "Before I got here, if I'm being completely honest, Slytherin is probably the House I identified with most. The problem is that I'm not in the same House as my twin brother.. He's always been so much better at making friends than I am, so his friends have always been my friends too, but without him.."
"Oh.." Vision thought for a moment. "Well, you'll have at least one class with the Gryffindors, right? Your brother can introduce you to his friends then. And you and I are kind of friends.. we have Potions together next. I'll sit with you so you aren't lonely."
"Sweet of you to offer, but everyone sits with their own House, even in mixed classes."
"That's not a rule though, is it?"
"Well.. no" Wanda frowned. "It's just the way things are."
"But if there's no rule, then there's nothing stopping me from sitting with you" Vision responded, "So I will." He stood up, scooping up the kitten. "I have to take Nebula back to my common room and fetch my books, but I'll see you in class, Okay?"
"Yeah, okay.." Wanda watched Vision go, with his kitten and his oversized robes, his small chest puffed out in the proudest display of the Hufflepuff emblem that she had ever seen, and had a sudden, unpleasant vision of a baby badger falling into a snake-pit.
For all his good intentions, Vision would probably realise something similar as soon as he stepped into the Potions Classroom. He wouldn't sit with her.. but it really had been a sweet gesture. She sighed, and stood up. It was time to fetch her own books.
Soon afterwards, Wanda headed down to the Dungeons for her potions lesson and took a seat. All the other students were sitting down as well, divided by House as she knew they would be. And although she knew he was not actually going to sit with her, she couldn't help looking for Vision, a little concerned when she saw no sign of him.. until she felt a tap on her shoulder, looked up, and there he was.
"Excuse me" He said, "May I sit here?"
And even though a part of her still worried that this was a bad idea, that she really should be chasing him away for his own good, Wanda felt herself smiling, and said:
Vision set his books down and sat beside her, his Hufflepuff yellow making him stick out like a sore thumb in the sea of emerald around him. The Slytherins eyed him suspiciously, while his fellow Hufflepuffs looked at him like he'd gone insane.
There wasn't much she could do about the Hufflepuffs, but Wanda stared her fellow Slytherin's down, daring them to say a word. She owed it to him.
He hadn't fallen into the snake-pit. He'd jumped in, head first. Only this time, one snake, the shy one no-one paid much attention to so far, rose up and bared her fangs, because no-one was touching her baby badger.
That was the moment when their friendship truly began.