August 16th, 2009, 4:56 am
Welcome one and all to The Light Of Dawn, the fabulous sequel to GinnyRules' Enough Trouble For A Lifetime! I suggest reading the first fic, as it sets up quite a few of the original characters, but I don't think it's necessary to understand the general plotline. If anyone is interested in the story of how this fanfic and its switch in authors came about I have a full explanation below. If, however, you might want to simply get on with the story, go right ahead! I won't hold it against you... (The spoiler tags below are where I put the explanation)
Well, as you may know if you read Lifetime, the prequel to this sequel was written by GinnyRules, another member of this forum and my sister in Real Life. She insists that these characters need to be written, but she doesn't have any time whatsoever in her life to be writing fanfiction anymore. As a result, she's passed on all of her notes and story plans to me and asked me to write the continuation. I only hope I can do it justice. Additionally, I've decided to put my own fic, One Thousand Years on hold to write this one, so I'll most likely be merging some plotlines from that story with this one.
So mods I hope I've gone about this the right way. I do have an owl in my inbox from GinnyRules confirming that I have permission to write this sequel. If there are any problems please let me know... On with the show, then!
Author's Note: I know there are a lot of characters to keep straight in this fic, so if anyone has trouble remembering them all feel free to drop by the feedback thread and I may be able to whip up a family tree for you! The story takes place five years after the Epilogue in Deathly Hallows.
Disclaimer: I was, am and always will be myself, not JK Rowling, and I would never take credit for her work. I'll settle for borrowing some of her wonderful characters and having a bit of fun with them...
The Light Of Dawn
CHAPTER ONE ~ THE FALLEN TOWER
Harry Potter was gazing steadily at the front page of the Daily Prophet, which bore a large, colour photograph of a tall, rather stocky man with truly fantastic hair. The man kept grinning and winking nervously at the camera, reminding Harry forcibly of another man he had once known; a man named Gilderoy Lockart.
Upon reading the headline atop this man’s photograph, Harry let out a snort of derision.
AMADEUS SALAZAR SUCCEEDS MINERVA MCGONAGALL AS HOGWARTS HEADMASTER
Early this morning the board of directors for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry announced the appointment of a new Headmaster. Amadeus Constantinople Salazar, long time head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, will succeed beloved headmistress Minerva McGonagall, who attributes her resignation to a desire to lead a quieter life.
Salazar’s nominaion followed that of Harry James Potter, renowned Auror most famous for his defeat of Lord Voldemort in 1997, who declined the offer in favor of keeping his position at the Auror Office (Harry Potter has also notably been offered the position of Minister for Magic twice to date).
“I am honored to have been chosen to uphold some of our finest wizarding traditions and values,” said Salazar of his appointment, adding... (Story continues pages 3 and 7.)
Feeling a strong sense of deja vu, Harry folded up the paper, dropped it face down on his coffee table, and looked up at his wife.
“His name is Salazar?” he asked incredulously.
Ginny Potter laughed. “Yes, but no relation to Salazar Slytherin I promise. It’s just a coincidence. I interviewed him myself, you know. He’s quite an interesting man.”
“Well I’ll be sorry to see McGonagall go,” Harry told her, though he couldn’t help but grin. “She- Oh, that’ll be the door!”
“Let the kids get it,” Ginny said. “I haven’t given you your present yet.”
Harry smirked. “Oh? And what present would that be?”
As Ginny leaned forward to give Harry a soft kiss, there came a furious scream from downstairs.
“I think we’d better go stop James from terrorizing our guests,” sighed Harry reluctantly.
They trooped downstairs to find a pair of very upset teenagers glaring at each other with their arms crossed, while two young children watched in amusement.
“Happy birthday dad! Who invited Miss Prefect?”
James Sirius Potter, Harry’s eldest son, was tall and carelessly handsome like his namesake, with shaggy jet-black hair that fell into his warm brown eyes. He was also the dedicated captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team at Hogwarts, though he had never been made a prefect. Harry could hardly believe that he was about to start his seventh and final year at Hogwarts. Presently, however, he was glaring at the pretty girl standing at the door with her parents with ill-disguised frustration.
“Be polite,” Harry said mechanically, knowing it wouldn’t do much good. He gave his first guests an apologetic glance.
“You too,” the pretty girl’s mother told her sternly, removing her traveling cloak as she and her husband stepped through the threshold and into the house.
Katrice Haversham, formerly Katrice Burbage, had married a muggle school teacher named Michael Haversham. Their two younger sons, Isaac and Darius, were watching as their sister Charity stuck her tongue out childishly at James, who snorted before leaving the room.
“Happy birthday Harry,” Katrice told him cheerily, shaking her head at Charity as the seventeen year old girl set off after James, lecturing him loudly on his lack of responsibility. “How are you, Ginny? Where are the other kids?”
“I think that’s them now,” Ginny replied, glancing up at the staircase. Sure enough, Albus and Lily Potter were thundering down the steps, trying to race each other to the bottom. Al had recently completed his fifth year at Hogwarts, and although he was a carbon copy of his father, he tended to become rather shy around people he did not know. Lily was the portrait of her mother, an outgoing, vivacious girl about to begin her fourth year.
Lily got on exceptionally well with her two brothers, although Al and James had a tendency to fight with each other constantly.
“Happy birthday daddy!” Al and Lily chorused, as Lily greeted Isaac and Darius by ruffling their hair. A moment later there was a second knock at the door and Harry opened it to greet Bill and Fleur and Fred and Angelina, and their children, all of whom seemed to be involved in a rather violent game of twenty questions.
“Harry old chap!” George exclaimed, thumping Harry squarely on the shoulder. “It’s been so long! How’s the wife and kids?”
“Oh shut up you dolt,” Ginny cried, chuckling and leading her brother and his wife into the kitchen. Harry heard her gasp after pushing open the door and begin to scold James for some misdeed or another.
Victoire, Louis and Dominique preceded their parents into the entrance hallway, the former accompanied by her husband Teddy and their newborn twins, Remus and Dora. Teddy had recently risen to the position of Captain of the Chudley Cannons, leading the team to its first World Cup win in almost a century. Harry suspected that it was since this moment that his godson had become one of Ron’s favorite people in the world.
“All right I have one,” Fred said to his sister Roxanne. Both were striking in appearance, with their mother Angelina’s dark hair and their father George’s bright blue eyes.
Roxanne, a quiet but very intelligent girl about to start her fifth year, tilted her head to the side, thinking. “Is it Dolores Umbridge?”
Fred threw his hands up in mock surprise. “How did you know? Of course, I would also have settled for ‘is it a toad’, but...”
“Good to see you again ‘Arry,” said Fleur in her light, breathy voice, kissing Harry on the cheek.
“Did you hear about Hogwarts, Harry?” Bill asked.
“About the new Headmaster, yeah,” Harry confirmed. “He reminds me a bit of Lockart, but-”
“No, not that. I meant about the Astronomy tower.”
“What about it?” said Harry, confused.
“Well now, keep this quiet,” Bill murmured, edging closer to Harry, “but according to the Gringotts records, a sizeable withdrawal was made from the Hogwarts vault. I asked my boss about it, and he told me in confidence that a few weeks ago the Astronomy tower crumbled for no good reason. It just fell to pieces! They have to use the gold rebuild it as soon as possible before the school year starts up again.”
“That is odd,” Harry muttered. His thoughts were interrupted by renewed knocks on the door which marked the arrival of a fresh wave of guests. First to come in were Ron and Hermione, accompanied by the two children. Rose immediately ran off to talk to Albus, her bushy red hair dancing behind her. Together, she and Albus had become Gryffindor prefects the previous year. Hugo greeted Lily with a cheery wave while Hermione hugged Ginny and Ron removed his cloak. Ron and Harry had long since become partners at the Auror office, while Hermione held an important position in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Next came Ash Gustafson, another Auror, and his wife Mia, with all five of their children.
“Hi uncle Harry!” called Adrian, the eldest, though Harry wasn’t technically his uncle. “Happy birthday. Is James here?”
Harry nodded towards the kitchen, and Adrian hurried off to find his best friend while the other children stood awkwardly around their parents.
“Ash, Mia! It’s good to see you again!” exclaimed Ginny, appearing again at Harry’s shoulder. “How was Australia.”
“Hectic,” Mia declared. “Our house was a bit small, so the kids all had to share a room.”
“Bet that didn’t go too well,” said another voice, and Luna and her husband Rolf Scammander arrived on the scene. Their two sons, Lorcan and Lysander, roared with delight at the sight of the other children and began to wreak havoc at once. They were two of the strangest people Harry had ever met, which was unsurprising, considering who their parents were. Upon catching sight of Lysander, Dominique huffed and started a determined conversation with Lily. Harry grinned to himself.
“Harry! Ginny!” Lucie Knight ran up to Harry, clutching a brightly colored birthday present under her arm. “How are you? Mum, dad, Jules and Alice are coming later, they’re going to be a bit late but they send you their love.”
“Where’s Dimitri?” Ginny inquired, referring to Lucie’s husband.
“Oh he’s at home watching the baby, as she’s feeling under the weather,” Lucie explained. “I expect he’ll be along later too.”
“Well, that just leaves Hagrid, Neville and Hannah, Percy and Audrey and my parents, and they’ll be coming later as well,” Ginny said. “Oh, and Jane and Thad and the children, but as they’re not here perhaps we should go start dinner-”
“Good evening everyone!” they heard a voice say behind them.
Harry, Ginny and the others whipped around and saw, to their astonishment, a woman with long red hair and grey eyes descend the staircase. She was followed by her husband, a tall, dark haired man she had met in Bulgaria, who was holding their youngest daughter Mallory in his arms. The older girls, Valeria and Eleanor, were sliding down the banister.
“How long have you been here?” Harry asked, laughing. “And how did you get in?”
“We Unspeakables have our ways,” Jane replied mysteriously, handing him her own birthday present.
“Of course,” Harry said. “Well, let’s get started on dinner.”
Once he and Ginny had the guests all settled into their seats and tucked into their food, Harry began to realize that they had perhaps made some serious errors in judgement when laying out the seating plan. Not only was James sitting on Charity’s right side next to Albus, but they had also placed Dominique between Lorcan and Lysander. Some time during the second course Fred, Adrian, James and Lily started another increasingly loud and boisterous game of twenty questions, under cover of which Dominique seemed to think it safe to begin hurling forks at Lysander’s head. Percy and his wife Audrey, who had joined the party half an hour earlier with their daughters Molly and Lucy and Audrey’s brother Miles, all had to duck at the same time as a spoon flew over their heads in retaliation. Miranda, another Auror in Harry’s department, had also arrived around the same time as Percy, and caught the cartwheeling utensil with uncanny precision just as it was about to collide with Neville’s ear. Shortly afterward Hagrid had perhaps one glass of wine too many and nearly upended the entire table by banging his fist on its corner, causing Hannah Abbot to shriek and slop most of her glass of pumpkin juice down her front. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were the last to arrive, and while Molly fussed over Hannah, Arthur questioned Katrice’s husband about his life in the muggle world.
Twenty-five years had passed since Harry had triumphed and Lord Voldemort had fallen. And yet, Harry reflected happily, very little had changed.
* * *
James Potter sat cross-legged on his bed, flipping through his copy of Flying With The Cannons for the umpteenth time and listening to the raucous sounds of the adults’ voices coming from downstairs. He was also feeling a slight sense of puzzlement that had nothing to do with the teeth marks on the spine of his book and everything to do with a certain blue eyed girl.
“Chuck us a chocolate frog, will you?” James asked Adrian, who was lounging on the floor tapping a small wooden wireless with his wand in an attempt to find a broadcast of the Werewolves of London, a popular wizarding band.
Adrian was a tall, lanky boy with sandy hair to match his fathers and dark eyes always twinkling with good humor. He had spent the past year in Australia with his family to visit his grandparents, and had come back with a strong tan and a good deal of freckles. He, along with James, Lysander and Fred Weasley, made up half of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and one of the most popular groups at Hogwarts.
Adrian picked up a chocolate frog package from the huge pile at his feet and tossed it at James, who caught it easily. Then, catching sight of the book in his friend’s hands, he added, “Has someone been chewing your book?”
“Probably Mallory,” James said unconcernedly. “Aunt Jane lets her wander around the house, and she gets into everything. Bit amusing, really.”
“James!” cried Lily, running suddenly through the door and jumping onto her brother’s bed. Adrian yelped in surprise and sent several chocolate frogs flying. “Mum says she wants you to go outside in the backyard and watch the kids. Uncle Ron and Uncle George had a bit too much mead, I think. I tried to sneak some, but she caught me and sent me to get you.”
“How about some good tidings, for once?” James grumbled, but he lifted himself off his bed and stomped downstairs with an ill grace muttering darkly to himself.
Lily settled herself comfortably on James’ bed and picked up his book, noting the teeth marks with incredulity.
“Was Mallory in here?” she asked.
“Yep,” Adrian told her. “Did your mum really send you up here to talk to James?”
“Nah, I made that up,” Lily replied casually, her wide hazel eyes glistening with mischief. “Charity’s already outside watching the little kids. I thought those two might like to spend some quality time together.”
Adrian snorted with laughter and winked at Lily before going back to tapping his wireless. Meanwhile, in the library downstairs, Albus was sitting alone in his father’s favorite chintz armchair by the fire, reading a thick and dusty volume on the second of the Great Wizarding Wars. He did not notice at first when a small, slight figure with dark brown hair and green eyes entered the room and approached him quietly.
Adrian’s sister Gwenyth did not resemble her brother in the slightest, though she shared his easygoing nature. She was in Albus’ year, but he hadn’t seen her in months as she, like her brother, had been in Australia. Gwenyth edged forward until she was standing right in front of him, still not saying a word. That was when Albus looked up.
“Gwen!” Albus exclaimed, his eyes shooting up as he took in the presence of the girl in front of him.
“Hi Al!” she said, a small smile playing on her lips.
Albus tried to think of an intelligent greeting, but nothing came to mind. He found himself opening and closing his mouth stupidly in a vain effort to speak. He had known Gwen all his life, but he had always thought of her as Rose’s friend, a vaguely interesting person who could help him with his homework when Rose wasn’t around. Both of them were so shy around people they didn’t know very well that they had skipped dinner, and consequently Albus hadn’t really seen her until now. He had never noticed how her hair could shimmer in the fire’s light, or how the corners of her mouth curled into dimples when she smiled, or how nicely the freckles dusted around her nose set off her eyes.
“Close your mouth, you might swallow a billywig,” said Gwen without missing a beat. “So, how has life been at Hogwarts?”
“Well, mum says we’re getting a new Headmaster,” Albus told her, miraculously regaining the power of speech. “His name is Salazar.”
“Yeah, I know. But he seems like a nice enough man.”
“What about everyone else?” Gwen continued. “Rose told me Dominique’s seeing some Ravenclaw bloke named Corner?”
“Yeah, Cameron Corner, I think,” Albus agreed. “Personally I think he’s a bit of a git.”
“And Katrice is pregnant again?” Gwen asked tentatively, as Al nodded. “Do they know if it’s a boy or a girl?”
“Not yet, but Uncle Nate thinks another boy.”
Gwen smiled and, surprising Albus greatly, came to sit on the arm of his chair. Before he could say anything–though admittedly he had no idea what he would have said–the library door was pushed open again and Rose and Hugo came bursting in, their identical red hair flying.
“You have got to see this!” cried Rose.
* * *
The moment James stepped foot in the backyard, he knew Lily had been having him on. He gave her full credit for the joke, but made a mental note to get her back some time. There was clearly no need for him to watch the children, as Charity was already entertaining them all by making multicolored bubbles shoot out of the tip of her wand. He leaned against the door frame, deciding simply to watch her for a while.
She was dressed in a grey summer dress that fluttered around her thin frame in the wind, just as her dark auburn hair fluttered around her sharp features. With the moonlight shining on her hair it turned a fiery shade of red. Gazing at her he remembered his father’s birthday party last year. It had been unbearably warm that year, and everyone had been in a slightly irritable mood. They’d had a blazing row over the color of the napkins, of all things. He couldn’t even think how it had started. She acted so insufferably superior all the time that it wasn’t hard to imagine. And he supposed that he wasn’t particularly sensitive around her, either.
“No, Mallory!” Charity shouted all of a sudden. “We do not bite other people’s fingers. No!”
“Good job, Mallory, keep it up,” James joked, striding forward to stand next to Charity in the middle of the garden. They were surrounded by cherry blossoms, but for some reason he kept smelling cinnamon.
Charity rolled her eyes. “Oh, it’s you.”
“Don’t look so happy to see me,” James retorted. “Now, why are you trying to corrupt these poor children?”
“Oh shut up, you are such an irresponsible, irritating git!” Charity yelled out, her eyes narrowing into angry slits. It was more intimidating than James cared to admit.
“You forgot to mention that I’m thicker than a tree frog,” James said.
Charity glared at him. “Yes, that too.”
“And you wish I’d go crawl under a rock and die,” he continued.
“And you think I’m devilishly handsome.”
“Yes, I do- Wait... What- OH!”
James smirked at her.
“You- Stupid- Arse!” Charity raged, hitting him repeatedly on the arm. The smell of cinnamon became more pronounced. It was definitely her perfume.
“Now darling, you know you shouldn’t curse in front of the children,” James told her sternly.
“Shove off and go bother somebody else,” Charity muttered, but for one fleeting moment James fancied he saw her smile.
“I’m sorry,” he said before he could stop himself.
“Oh are you?” Charity asked, her voice teasing now. She paced away from him and hoisted herself up to sit on a stone ledge on the side of the house, still watching Mallory’s attempts to pinch her older sister Eleanor. James followed her and came to sit next to her as well.
“Yes, Haversham, I suppose I am,” he said. “But I expect you’re not?”
“Not what?” Charity demanded, clearly confused.
“Not sorry about what?” she cried.
“Not sorry you called me devilishly handsome,” said James with a completely straight face.
To his utter astonishment, Charity raised her eyebrows and replied, “No, you’re right.”
James spluttered incoherently for quite a while until Charity took pity on him and patted him on the shoulder to calm him down. She left her hand on his arm a bit longer than he felt was strictly necessary, and James felt a shiver run down his spine.
“I win again,” Charity murmured. Then, quite abruptly, she jumped down from the ledge and ran off to play with the children once more. It was a few minutes before James joined her, ruffling Mallory’s hair as she tried to snatch at his ankles. They lead the younger ones in a game of hide and seek, not really speaking to each other, laughing occasionally. James felt unusually at peace with everything around him.
“I never thought I’d see the day,” Hugo breathed quietly to his sister. The two of them were standing in the shadows with Lily, Adrian, Al and Gwen, observing the two teenagers playing hide and seek.
“If they’re speaking to each other, it’s definitely the end of the world,” Adrian agreed. “What are you looking so smug about?” he added, glancing at Lily.
“Oh, nothing,” Lily smiled. “It’s just that people are so predictable. Oi! Lovebirds!”
Without warning, Lily ran out into the garden, berating a shocked James and Charity, who had been hiding suspiciously behind a hedge together. The others looked at one another briefly before shrugging and joining in.
Standing three storeys above and observing the scene through his bedroom window, Harry Potter couldn’t help but laugh uncontrollably at his children and at how much they reminded him of himself.
Please drop by the fancy new feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=122301) thread to let me know your thoughts on this story so far!
August 17th, 2009, 9:12 pm
Chapitre deux is here already! Don't expect quick updates this often, though, I just keep getting busier every day :p I hope you enjoy it, and for anyone who's interested there is now also a family tree posted on the feedback thread, which might help with all the characters. And yes, in case anyone asks, Jane's initials are JKR on purpose. Just my little joke...
A/N: A million thanks go out to Clockworthy and GinnyRules for the lovely reviews!
CHATER TWO ~ THE TWIN BADGES
The warm, golden summer months always tended to have a somewhat soporific effect on the inhabitants of Godric’s Hollow, with the stifling heat and lush gardens dragging people down into drowsiness and lethargy. It came as a surprise, therefore, when early one morning some three and a half weeks after Harry Potter’s birthday, identical shocked screams echoed through two neighboring houses in Griffin Circle.
Charity Haversham’s shriek was one of delight, as she tore open her Hogwarts letter and a shiny gold Head Girl’s badge tumbled into her hands. If she was honest with herself, she had been expecting this, though it did not lessen her pride and excitement. It was with dismay, however, that she peered through her bedroom window and across the street at Number Seven, where the Potters lived, and heard a second cry quite similar to her own.
James potter’s yelp was one of horror.
“What’s wrong, James?” asked his mother as she ducked her head into his room, looking concerned.
James’s eyes were wider than galleons, and he shook his head rapidly back and forth. His badge dropped from his limp hands and clattered to the floor, from which Ginny picked it up.
“Harry!” Ginny shouted, looking quite as astonished as her son. “Get in here!”
They heard Harry clamber up the stairs with Al and Lily behind him, and all three burst into the room, looking around wildly as if searching for some sort of catastrophe. The moment Al caught sight of his older brother’s Head Boy’s badge, he burst into uncontrollable laughter, which James’s glares and nudges in the ribs did little to quiet. Lily jumped into James’s arms, congratulating him, and Harry and Ginny beamed proudly at their son.
“It’s not possible,” James exclaimed once Albus had finally finished laughing himself silly. “Who in their right mind would make me Head Boy? I wasn’t even a prefect. I wasn’t top in the year, either. I got detention twice a month!”
“It’s got to be this Salazar bloke,” said Lily. “He doesn’t know you, so he saw the name Potter and assumed he should make you Head Boy. I’ll bet Charity got Head Girl. I’ll bet she’s so pleased when she finds out who got the other badge!”
“Lily,” Ginny warned sternly. “James, we’re so proud of you! The Head Boy and Girl selections are made at the end of the sixth year, so McGonagall must have made this decision. Clearly you’ve earned this badge.”
James grasped his hair, clearly more depressed than ever.
“I always thought McGonagall was getting a bit senile near the end,” Albus cut in neatly, earning himself a kick in the shins from James. Glaring, he added, “C’mon Lily, let’s go break the good news to Charity.”
Rolling his eyes, Harry waited until Al and Lily had left the room before asking, “So, James, what’ll it be? You have five broomsticks already, I hardly think you need one of those. And you already have an owl.”
“Er, what?” said James, sounding distracted and even slightly hysterical.
“Well, we got Al a broomstick servicing kit when he became a prefect, but this is an even bigger accomplishment,” Ginny told him fondly. “What do you want?”
James looked up, marginally more cheerful. A smile of mischief appeared on his face.
At the same moment that James was asking his parents for a rather unorthodox present, Lily and Albus were racing across the street to the quaint little house facing their parents’ manor. Katrice Haversham had come to live with Harry and Ginny during the summers after her fifth and sixth years at Hogwarts, and had subsequently bought her own house in Godric’s Hollow when she was done with school, where she and her husband had been living ever since. Lily and her brother came to an unsteady halt at the entrance, and Lily knocked rather violently on the door.
“Good morning kids,” Mr. Haversham greeted them with a yawn. “I expect you’ve heard Charity’s good news. Did you want to come in and see her?”
“Yes, please!” Lily exclaimed.
“She’s in her room,” Mr. Haversham said. The corners of Albus and Lily’s robes were already flapping round the side of the door. They raced upstairs and nearly broke down the door to Charity’s room. Inside were Dominique and Roxanne, both of whom had slept over, and Charity herself. All three of them bore expressions appropriate to having just discovered that a dear, close friend was in fact a serial ax murderer.
“This has to be some sort of joke,” Dominique muttered fervently, her nose pressed up against the glass of Charity’s window. She was clearly still observing the goings on in the Potters’ house.
“It isn’t,” Lily announced gleefully. “I saw the badge, it’s real.”
Charity’s eyes flew wildly over to meet Al’s, silently asking for confirmation. Albus nodded, shaking with suppressed laughter.
“I was so sure it would be Cameron or that Slytherin bloke, Mulciber!” Dominique groaned, now pacing about the room and breathing like an angry rhinoceros.
“I know!” Charity wailed. “Now I have to spend all year with bloody James Potter. No offense,” she added, glancing at Albus and Lily.
“None taken, believe me,” Al assured her.
“Charity, is this the Hogwarts owl that delivered your letter?” Roxanne asked unexpectedly. On her arm was perched a small barn owl which was hooting softly and staring fixedly at the wall.
“Yes, why?” Charity said, still absorbed in her thoughts of James and his Head Boy’s badge.
“I think there’s something wrong with it, it looks really confused.”
Roxanne was stroking the little owl’s feathers softly, and the owl was responding by clicking its beak and hopping up and down on her arm. A few moments later, it slid clean off and landed on the floor, still hopping around and hooting quite contentedly.
“You know, ours did that too,” Lily commented. “It was a bit odd, I think it had trouble finding the house, it was just circling our chimney when I noticed and ushered it through the window.”
“Not to mention how late they are,” Albus added. “It’s Friday, and Hogwarts starts on Tuesday. You’d think they’d want to give us more time to do our school shopping.”
“Well, does it matter?” Dominique snapped.
Roxanne slid off of Charity’s bed and approached Dominique. “Are you all right?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Dominique replied vaguely. “I have a lot on my mind. When are we going into Hogsmead, then? We should try to avoid the weekend rush.”
“I’ll talk to dad and see if we can all go together today. Rose, Hugo and Fred are still at our house,” Albus told them enthusiastically. “Perhaps we can get Gwen to come along as well. Er, I mean, Gwen and Adrian.”
He flushed and ran out of the room again, but not before Dominique could snort and mutter, “Boys!”
* * *
Harry pulled his wand out from under his robes and tapped the bricks on the wall that separated him from Diagon Alley, with the distinct impression that he was about to lead troops into battle. Once the archway out of the Leaky Cauldron’s back alley had opened up, he gestured behind him for the large crowd to pass into the street. The result was a rather frenzied stampede of teenagers running past him in all directions in a most disorderly way. Hermione immediately took control and began directing one group and another according to the items on their school supply lists, leaving Harry, Ron, Ginny, Ash, Katrice, Luna and Rolf to hang back wearily, making feeble attempts to help.
Dominique, having been most displeased by the presence in their company of Lorcan and Lysander, set off for Madame Malkin’s at once, dragging Lily, Charity and Roxanne behind her and chatting excitedly about dress robes. Lorcan and Lysander themselves, after they had finished pelting the girls bits of parchment and old Skiving Snackbox wrappers, ran in the direction of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes and Quality Quidditch Supplies with James, Adrian and Fred. Albus, Gwen, Rose and Hugo mentioned something about visiting Alivan’s, the wandmaker’s shop, before sprinting away as well. The younger children, Valeria, Caleb and Isaac, whose parents Ginny had assured all would go well, stuck together nervously and began to edge towards some of the smaller shops, appearing rather frightened.
“Be safe!” Harry called after them, waving weakly at his children, who hardly spared him a backwards glance. Left with nothing to do, the adults headed for Rosemary’s ice cream parlour and pushed a few tables together on the patio outside.
A cheerful, matronly woman, Rosemary took their orders and brought each of them generous helpings of ice cream, leaving them free to discuss idle topics in the sunlight.
“So what do you think about this Amadeus Salazar person?” Ash asked Harry, leaning back on his chair’s hind legs and making his spoon levitate with his wand. “Seems like a bit of a dunderhead to me.”
“Agreed.” Katrice nodded, surprising Harry, who seldom heard her speak ill of anyone. “When he got the position, he called a meeting with all the Hogwarts teachers and told us we had the rest of the summer to come up with ideas for interesting extracurricular activities for this year. As if we didn’t have enough to be getting on with, with the Astronomy tower crumbing like that.”
Katrice had been the Charms professor at Hogwarts for five years now, and one of Herry’s children’s favorite teachers.
“It sounds like he has a fresh take on things,” Rolf commented mildly, stroking Luna’s hair. Harry noticed that he was eating what looked like a peanut butter and mustard sundae topped with cherries and carrots.
“I don’t think much of his organizational skills,” Ginny interjected. “The owl he sent to our house to deliver the kids’ letters got al lost and confused. He couldn’t even seem to find the house!”
“That was ours as well,” Ash told her, frowning. “It almost seemed as though it had been confunded.”
“Is that possible?” Ron asked in between two spoonfuls of ice cream.
“I don’t think so,” Hermione responded, looking thrilled as ever to be imparting information. “Animals are one of the five exceptions to Gamp’s Law Of Elemental Transfiguration-”
“That brings back memories-” Harry muttered under his breath.
“-Which means,” Hermione continued, “that you can cast spells on them, but you can’t conjure them, manipulate them elementally, or modify the way they think. It would take extremely powerful magic to confund an owl.”
“What kind of magic?” Katrice inquired, interested.
“I would say probably very old magic, of the kind most people don’t know about these days.”
“That could be what made the Astronomy tower crumble,” Luna piped up unexpectedly, surprising them all.
“You think the two are related?” said Harry. “How could that be possible?”
“I think she may have something,” Ginny told him. “If I’m not mistaken, Hogwarts was built mostly by magic. There’s no reason for any of it to fall apart other than more conflicting magic.”
“Mum!” a voice shouted all of a sudden, and Ginny jumped. “What do you think? Have you decided yet?”
James was leaning on the fence which ran around the ice cream parlour’s patio, grinning broadly.
“Decided what?” Katrice asked, looking from James to Harry and Ginny, whose expressions had become rather apprehensive.
“We told James he could choose any present he wanted, as a reward for becoming Head Boy,” Ginny told her gloomily.
“Yes, we told Charity the same thing,” Katrice replied proudly. “So what’s the problem?”
“You’ll never guess what he asked for,” Harry said, shaking his head at his son’s recklessness. He chose not to remind himself of the fact that at the same age, he had broken into Gringott’s and escaped on a dragon.
“Oh, this doesn’t sound good,” Hermione mused, glancing at her godson.
Sighing, Ginny said, “Yes, James, we told you that you could have anything you wanted. Which, now that I think of it, was a terribly stupid thing to promise. You win.”
James whooped loudly. “Brilliant! We should get it this afternoon. I’m off to the Magical Menagerie, I think I saw Charity in there. She doesn’t seem too happy with me, what with this Head Boy Business.”
Harry was surprised to see that James looked a trifle upset. A moment later, however, James was beaming once more and calling after Adrian, Fred, Lorcan and Lysander to follow him.
“Well, that’s it,” Ginny declared. “From now on I’m going to start having grey hair.”
“C’mon,” James cried, already distancing himself from the adults and trotting towards the Magical Menagerie. “I want to see if I can get one of those rats that do cartwheels.”
They arrived at the bustling shop, pushed open the door, and were greeted by the chaotic sounds of a hundred magical creatures, all flying around near the ceiling or rattling the bars of their cages.
Over in a corner, Charity and Rose were fussing and cooing over a box filled with tiny, pitch-black kittens. Next to them was Dominique, who sighed and walked huffily out of the shop with Lily and Gwen when she caught sight of Lysander attempting to snatch birds out of the air. Albus followed them, as did Hugo when he realized that all his friends had left the shop.
“You should be careful with those, or they’ll get snatched by the owls,” James said slyly, sneaking up behind Charity and his cousin.
“Hmph,” Charity said, otherwise ignoring James. “Aren’t they darling?”
“They really are,” Rose agreed. “I wish I could have one, but my mum has a really ancient Kneazle that’s always grumpy and surly, and dad says he doesn’t want any more cats in the house.”
“Well I think I’m going to get one, they’re just adorable,” Charity said decidedly. As she leaned forward to pick out a kitten, her dark auburn hair fell like a curtain on the side of her face, and James caught a strong whiff on cinnamon. It mad his head spin. More to distract himself than anything, James poked Rose.
“Oh, Rose, isn’t it adorable?” he screeched, imitating Charity’s voice.
“Well it is!” Charity retorted defensively, seeming almost hurt.
“Not as adorable as you when you’re mad,” James told her. A moment later he kicked himself mentally, sure he had taken leave of his senses. Rose rolled her eyes and edged away from the two of them, though they took no notice. She decided to take a walk outside and see if she might find Al or one of her other friends from school.
Of all the people in Rose’s family–and there were a lot of them–James and Charity were perhaps the ones Rose would least have expected to suddenly become friendly with one another. Or, if not friendly, at least civil. It somehow made her feel more alone than usual.
It wasn’t that she didn’t have friends. Rose considered herself lucky to have so many loving, friendly people in her life. Albus, Gwen, Roxanne, Lorcan and the rest of her school friends were a pleasant bunch. But Rose had always felt that she was somehow apart from them, no matter how welcome they made her feel. She was the disciplined, clever one who spent hours studying and doing homework every day, it was true, but more than that she was the one who often stayed up all night sitting by her window simply staring out at the grounds, or went down to visit Hagrid completely alone during lunch break on a Wednesday when everyone else was discussing Quidditch. She was different, there was nothing for it.
Rose ambled down the cobbled alley with no particular destination in mind, absorbed in her thoughts, glancing into shop windows on the way. It was perhaps due to her inattention that she ran smack into a tall, upright woman with cold grey eyes and brown hair pulled back in a tight bun. Her robes were handsome and well cut, her cloak garnished with a solid gold clasp.
“Would you kindly watch where you’re going?” the woman snapped, her cold eyes passing momentarily over Rose’s face with disdain.
“Er, sorry,” Rose mumbled, looking apologetically up into the woman’s face. There was something familiar about it.
“Asteria, are you coming?” cried an impatient voice from within a nearby store. There was definitely no mistaking that voice.
Draco Malfoy stepped out of Flourish and Blott’s, accompanied by his son Scorpius. The two looked remarkably alike, except that where Mr. Malfoy’s face wore a superior sneer, Scorpius’ eyes were narrowed and he bore a slight frown.
“Who is this?” Mr. Malfoy demanded, raising his eyebrows at Rose.
The woman with the brown hair, who appeared to be his wife, said, “I’ve no idea.”
“Rose Weasley,” Scorpius murmured at his father’s side. Rose tilted her head, staring at him in surprise.
“Weasley?” Malfoy snapped, as though he had never heard the word before. “Well, good day to you, Mis Weasley,” he told Rose curtly. “Asteria, let’s go.”
The tall woman turned on her heel and followed her husband back into the store. Scorpius, however, remained rooted to the spot.
“Malfoy,” Rose said tentatively, wondering what on earth could be possessing him not to simply follow his parents and sneer at her like he usually did at school.
Scorpius was staring at her intently. “Weasley.” He paused. “Why are you walking around on your own?”
“I hardly see how that’s any of your business,” Rose replied, taken aback by what she considered a very odd question.
“No, you’re right,” said Scorpius in a very quiet voice. Without further ado, he turned around and strode back into the store, leaving Rose staring after him in utter puzzlement.
“Rose! Are you all right?”
Rose turned and saw her Uncle Harry making his way over to her, glancing around to see if she was accompanied by anyone.
“Hi Uncle Harry,” she said in what she hoped was a light and cheery voice.
“Why are you by yourself?” Harry asked.
“I could ask you the same thing,” Rose replied in a rather weak attempt at bravado.
Harry chuckled. “Very funny. I’m looking for James, he wants me to buy him... something. Did Al and Gwen get away from you?”
“No, I just fancied a walk alone.”
Harry nodded, seeming to understand. This was one of the many things Rose thought was wonderful about her uncle; that he never asked too many questions, and was always understanding but very rarely reproachful.
“James is in the Magical Menagerie with Charity,” Rose told him.
Harry nodded. “And Scorpius Malfoy is in that shop with his parents. He wasn’t too rude with you, I hope?”
Rose grinned sheepishly, realizing that Harry had seen more than he’d let on.
“No,”she said. “He was actually quite nice. I was surprised.”
“I suppose that can only be a good thing,” Harry said with a laugh. “Well, excuse me, I’d better go retrieve my son before I find him murdered on the floor and Charity on the run from the law.”
As Harry walked away, he glanced back over his shoulder and saw Rose still staring, apparently transfixed, at the shop window through which Scorpius Malfoy was still visible, picking up various objects and examining them. He sighed, momentarily wishing he was going back to Hogwarts for another year. If nothing else, the coming months promised to be rather interesting.
Mr. Linky (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=122301). Come tell me your thoughts on the feedback thread, it always helps me to improve!
August 20th, 2009, 5:24 am
Here comes the newest installment! Chapter three may seem like it drags a bit, but I had fun with it, and it contains some important stuff. I hope you like it.
A huge thank you to biscuitsforall and vivjad for joining the ranks of the reviewers!
CHPATER THREE ~ AN UNUSUAL DERAILMENT
The morning of the departure of the Hogwarts Express dawned clear and bright, and as early as the crack of dawn, pandemonium reigned in the Potters’ house. Albus had stolen his brother’s Head Boy’s badge and somehow enchanted it to sing old Celestina Warbeck songs in a loud, strident voice. It continued to do so, and James continued to chase Al around the house while brandishing a heavy cleaver, until Harry separated the two boys by force and Ginny cast a silencing charm over the entire household.
Lily, for her part, bustled around her room like a whirlwind, gathering the possessions strewn carelessly about throughout the summer. At last she had finished reaching under her bed for stray quills and owl treats, locked her eagle owl, Jasper, in his cage, and forced her trunk shut by jumping on it repeatedly, and there was nothing left to do besides make her way down the stairs and into the kitchen. She levitated her things so that they hovered ahead of her as she followed the smell of bacon and toast over to the dining room table, but was unfortunately spotted by her mother, who sighed and threw her hands up into the air.
“How many times, Lily?” Ginny exclaimed, sounding exasperated. “Don’t ever let me see you using magic outside of school until you’re of age! Just because you live in a house full of wizards, doesn’t mean you can bend the rules.”
Lily sighed and resigned herself to dragging her heavy trunk and owl through the house herself with a piece of buttered toast and a few strips of bacon clamped between her teeth. She must have looked quite a sight, because when Charity strolled out the door of her own home and crossed the street with a book in her hand, she came face to face with Lily, stopped, and let out a loud burst of uncontrollable laughter.
“Oh shut up,” Lily told her irritably, though she was smiling. “Do you want to talk to my brother? He’s upstairs trying to avoid putting on his badge.”
“Merlin, no,” said Charity, whose Head Girl’s badge was already pinned to the front of her robes. “I wanted to show you this.”
She waved an old, leather-bound book in Lily’s face; it appeared to have bite marks on it. Lily recognized it as one of the books she herself had purchased at Diagon Alley over the weekend. There was nothing particularly special about it.
“What?” Lily asked. “It’s the revised and edited version of Hogwarts: A History, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Charity confirmed, “and it’s out of print, I checked with the shop owner. He sold them to us, but he doesn’t remember ordering them into the store. And you know what else? It’s on everyone’s book list this year. Even Isaac’s, and he’s just starting his first year. But I asked my mum and she said Binns has never set it as a textbooks before.”
“That’s odd,” Lily agreed, “but right now I’m more concerned about my siblings killing each other. Are your lot coming with us to King’s Cross?”
Charity nodded, and Lily sighed.
“Wonderful,” the younger girl muttered. “Maybe you and James will murder each other as well and we can all become fugitives together.”
Charity giggled. “We’ll see. Can you let your parents know that we’ll be ready to go in an hour and a half?”
“Can do,” said Lily. Unfortunately, she could say nothing else, as Mallory and Eleanor chose this moment to clamber past her and sneak into the house. Their mother came running after them moments later, inexplicably holding a brightly glowing rubber chicken with two heads.
“Have you girls seen Mallory and Ellie?” Jane inquired, looking exceedingly put-upon. Charity and Lily both pointed in the direction of the entrance hallway without a word, avoiding each other’s eyes. Valeria came trailing after her mother as she set off down the hallway after her two youngest wayward girls. She looked particularly small in her new Hogwarts robes, and Lily could not help but notice that her hair was bright purple.
“I’d like to know what goes on in that house,” Charity commented before crossing the street again to walk back through her own front door. Lily was left to ponder the depths of chaos into which her life could sink on days such as this one.
A few minutes later, Lily reentered her dining room after having managed to force her trunk unto the family car and found James and Al sitting reluctantly next to each other, with Ginny forcing second helpings of eggs onto their plates.
“Mum, Aunt Katrice and her lot will be ready in an hour an a half,” Lily said, finally dropping into a chair to eat her breakfast.
Albus and James’ heads snapped up at the same time and they spoke simultaneously.
“Is Charity coming?”
“Is Gwen coming?”
Smiling serenely at her distraught brothers, Lily gave no answer, but continued to eat her bacon while Mallory crawled under the table dangerously near her ankles.
* * *
Harry looked left and right before crossing at an intersection and pulling into the parking lot at King’s Cross. He was at the wheel of a old, faded yellow Chevrolet, the interior of which had been enlarged to fit the Potters, the Havershams, and Jane’s family, the Rileys, comfortably enough. The front driver’s seat was large enough to fit Harry and Ginny, while James and Charity had had the misfortune to be forced to sit together in the front passenger’s seat. Charity kept scolding James for accidentally nudging a large wicker basket she had insisted on taking with her into the car. Every now and then, suspicious mewing noises would issue from the basket, and James would go off on a loud tangent about girls and the lengths to which they would go for cuddly animals. Harry didn’t think he had ever seen anything so pathetic and yet so entertaining at the same time.
They arrived on the platform with a good thirty minutes to spare. The children climbed out of the car, Valeria and Isaac hanging behind wearily with their parents. They were joined shortly thereafter by Rose and Hugo, Adrian, Gwen and Caleb, Dominique and Louis, and Fred and Roxanne, all of whom looked terribly excited.
“Can you believe we’re going back for the last time?” Dominique asked, looking on at the bright scarlet steam engine with equal amounts of fondness and sadness in her eyes.
“Last time for you,” said Lily. She took hold of Hugo’s hand and dragged him off to find a compartment, waving to some other friends on the way.
“Dom! Charity!” came a shriek on the group’s right side, and a short seventh year girl with spiky black hair and a pointed nose came running up to them, hugging first Dominique and then Charity, who were delighted to see their best friend again after two months.
“Oh, Rae, it’s so good to see you!” Dominique squealed. “We have a million things to tell you, come on.”
The three of them headed for the train as well to find a compartment. Once they had located a suitably empty one and levitated their trunks into the luggage compartments, they were about to reemerge to bid goodbye to their parents when they were interrupted by a new guest in their compartment.
“Ladies,” said Cameron Corner, sliding the compartment door open and snaking his arms around Dominique’s waist. “Had a good summer?”
Cameron was a Ravenclaw in their own year, and captain of his house’s Quidditch team. He was tall and handsome, with light brown hair, tanned skin and a muscular build. Lysander, who had apparently been on the train for some time already, chose this moment to pass by outside their compartment. He looked over and pretended to gag. Dominique shot him a dirty look behind Cameron’s back, and Charity and Raelene, giggling madly, sprinted out of the train and onto the platform, where they found all the Potters and Weasleys saying goodbye to each other. Charity noticed that Albus had given Harry and Ginny a fleeting hug before running over to talk to Gwen, whose parents, along with Adrian, were hugging Caleb and promising to write three times a week. Her Uncle Nate and Aunt Miranda had also arrived in the intervening minutes, and were saying goodbye to their son Julius and daughter Alice, who were starting their fifth and fourth years respectively, though Alice was a Ravenclaw.
“Bye mum, dad,” Charity said, hugging first Katrice and then Michael. “I’ll take good care of Isaac, I promise.”
Once she was back on the train, Charity hung her head out her compartment window and waved to her family for as long as she could, finally giving up when the Hogwarts Express took a sharp curve and she couldn’t seen them at all anymore. Then she ducked back down into her seat and grinned at her two best friends with undisguised glee.
“It’s our last year!” she declared happily. “The school is ours.”
“If you don’t put us in detention, that is,” Raelene said slyly, her eyes wandering to the shiny badge pinned to Charity’s robes.
“That reminds me,” said Charity. “In fifteen minutes I have to go to the Prefects compartment to explain procedures to them. I don’t think James is going to be any help, so I might be a while.”
“Ooh,” Raelene squealed. “And are you and James going to be spending lots of time patrolling the corridors this year? Maybe late at night, when nobody’s around?”
“Wouldn’t you love to know, Peakes,” James himself told Rae. Charity looked up to see him leaning casually against the doorframe, and threw an owl treat at him. She then hoisted her enormous wicker basket onto her lap.
“What’s that?” Dominique asked with interest.
Charity hesitated, and Dominique wrinkled her nose.
“Oh, it’s cats, isn’t it?” she asked apprehensively.
“Are you going to invite me in?” James said incredulously from the door.
“I’m sorry, Dom, I know you hate cats,” Charity told her friend, ignoring James. “But they were so cute, I just had to buy them!”
“Wait, them?” Rae cried. “How many did you buy?”
Charity grinned sheepishly. “Seven. That’s how many there were in the store. My parents said I could have anything I wanted as a reward for becoming Head Girl, so I picked cats.”
“Merlin, you bought all of them?” James exclaimed, finally walking into the compartment and sitting down without invitation. “What are you going to do with seven cats?”
“Well, what did your parents buy you?” Charity retorted.
James smirked, his eyes glinting. “It’s a surprise.”
“Excuse me,” Dominique cut in, glaring at James, “but what are you doing here?”
Her question went unnoticed, however, as Charity had just opened her basket, revealing a littler of the smallest, cutest kittens any of them had ever seen. They were midnight black, and at the moment all of them were curled up and fast asleep.
“What are you going to name them?” Rae asked, adopting a small, quiet voice so as not to wake the kittens.
“This one’s Athena,” Charity began. “This one is Zeus. That one there is Aphrodite-”
“Hang on,” interrupted Sirius, “you’re naming all your cats after Greek Gods?”
“No, I’m not, you didn’t let me finish!” Charity told him reproachfully. “See, this one is Nefartiti, and that one’s Cleopatra, and this is Napoleon. And the really little one is Godric.”
“I think I’m going to go for a walk to visit Cameron’s compartment,” Dominique declared loudly, though for all the notice the three others took, busy as they were at fawning over the kittens, she might not spoken at all.
Dominique got up and left the compartment in a huff. Not long afterward she was followed by Charity, who had to make her way over to talk to the Prefects, leaving an awkward silence in her wake. James, who was left alone with Rae, cast around for a subject of conversation.
“So, er, what classes are you taking this year?”
Rae laughed. “You don’t really have to make conversation, Potter. I’m not Dom, I don’t hate you with a burning passion.”
“Well in that case,” Sirius sighed in relief.
“Why are you in here anyway?” Rae questioned. “Apart from the fact that you should already have joined the Prefects compartment, I mean. Since when do you and Charity even speak to each other?”
“Oh, I don’t know, I seem to have lost track of my friends.” James waved his hand vaguely, but was saved the trouble of answering by a sudden outburst in the corridor.
“WHY DON’T YOU RUN ALONG WITH YOUR IDIOT FRIENDS AND STOP BEING A WASTE OF SPACE?”
“GLADLY, AS SOON AS YOU QUIT BEING A SPOILED, SELF-INVOLVED LITTLE-”
“ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO FINISH THAT SENTENCE?”
“It sounds like Dominique and Lysander are getting along well,” said James conversationally.
“DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” Lysander shouted at the top of his lungs.
“MAYBE I WOULDN’T HAVE TO IF YOU WEREN’T SO IRRESPONSIBLE!” Dominique screeched in an even louder voice. “I WISH-”
But they never found out exactly what Dominique wished, because at that moment all the lamps suddenly extinguished themselves and the train lurched to a halt.
* * *
Rose was sitting alone in the Gryffindor sixth years’ compartment right before the lights went out, Albus, Gwen and Adam Thomas having gone to look for the lunch trolley. She was poring over her new, revised copy of Hogwarts: A History. Then, abruptly, there was a sharp knock on the compartment door.
It took all of Rose’s presence of mind not to topple out of her seat when she raised her head and saw who was standing there.
“Come in, Malfoy,” she stuttered, at a loss for anything else to say.
Scorpius Malfoy pushed the door opened and settled himself into the seat opposite her. He didn’t speak at first, but merely looked anywhere but at her, taking deep, steadying breaths. Rose was just beginning to feel worried when he finally opened his mouth to talk. And that was when the train broke down.
Rose had drawn the curtains against the sunlight, so for a moment the compartment was plunged into complete darkness. Both Rose and Scorpius lit their wands at the same time, and both realized at the same time that the train’s lurch had sent them tumbling practically into each other’s arms. They were mere inches apart.
“Sorry,” Scorpius muttered at once as they lifted themselves back into their seats, the distant screams of distressed first years faintly reaching their ears. “I came in here to... apologize.”
“Apologize?” Rose practically shouted, forgetting subtlety due to her shock.
“For the way I acted when we met in Diagon Alley,” Scorpius finished. “It wasn’t very courteous of me. Will you accept my apology?”
Completely thrown off guard, Rose spluttered, “I- Well, I mean- Of course. There was really no need... But apology accepted.”
“Oi, Scorpius!” called a loud and obnoxious voice. Rose recognized it as belonging to Carl Avery, a Slytherin in her year.
Scorpius cringed as the other boy strode into the compartment, sat down and asked, “Where’ve you been? Do you know what the bloody hell is going on?” He seemed to suddenly notice Rose’s presence in the compartment. “What are you doing talking to this filth?”
“I- Nothing, of course,” Scorpius replied, glancing regretfully at Rose. “Let’s go.”
The two boys left the compartment without another word, and Rose, for no discernible reason, felt as though a shard of ice had pierced through her chest. She stared at the lit tip of her wand for a moment before sighing deeply and getting up to explore the rest of the train. She had no idea what could have caused it to stop, unless the halt was intentional. Judging by the abruptness with which they had lurched, however, and the fact that none of the lamps seemed to be working, she guessed that there had to be some kind of technical problem. This in itself was odd, as she knew from her reading that the Hogwarts Express functioned by magic rather than by conventional muggle means. Only magic could have stopped it.
“Rosie, is that you?”
Rose veered into a tightly packed compartment and, by the light of many lit wands, caught sight of most of the fifth year Gryffindors and Ravenclaws. Roxanne and Louis Weasley were there, along with Julius Knight, the McClaggen twins, Lorcan Scammander and Penelope Wood. They had also been joined by Rose’s little brother Hugo, Lily, and Alice Knight.
“Does anyone know what’s going on?” Rose asked over the drone of confused voices.
There was a great clamoring as everyone talked over everyone else, the essence of which Rose surmised to mean no. She resigned herself to sitting uncomfortably in a corner, jammed between Hugo and Alice, pretending to read her book by wandlight when she was in fact thinking about Malfoy. Some twenty five minutes later the train started up again, with no apparent explanation for the malfunction, and the rest of the ride went smoothly as ever. Rose whiled away the time by wandering up and down the train and glancing into compartments.
In one she saw Albus and Gwen, deserters that they were, playing exploding snap and sitting a little closer to each other than was probably necessary. In another she saw Raelene Peakes trying to comfort a sobbing Dominique. In yet another she caught sight of Lysander, Adrian and Fred, laughing and passing around joke shop items. James was absent from their midst, so Rose guessed that he must actually have gone to the Prefects compartment at some point or another. The world just kept on getting stranger.
But the last compartment was the one which really made Rose’s stomach turn over, as she passed it and saw, quite clearly, Carl Avery, Ambrosius Flint, Camilla Zeller and Scorpius Malfoy, already changed into their Hogwarts robes. Though she stood in front of their window for nearly a minute, and Avery and Flint glanced at her with disdain a few times, Scorpius never looked up.
Well? Predictable? Outlandishly unexpected? What do you think? Let me know in the feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=122301) thread!
August 21st, 2009, 5:33 pm
Presto, next chapter! There is an uber important plot point in this one, as I don't think you'll have any trouble noticing. So, enjoy!
CHAPTER FOUR ~ THE SORTING HAT'S DECISION
It was nighttime already when the gleaming red steam engine pulled into Hogsmead station and unloaded its clamoring passengers. A sea of students gushed out onto the platform as the train doors slid open and Hagrid ambled towards them with a lamp held high, ushering the first years on. The half-giant’s hair had faded to grey in his old age, but his eyes still crinkled kindly when he smiled. Isaac, Caleb and Valeria were among the nervous crowd of tiny students who followed the gamekeeper into the enchanted boats that would bring them across the lake and to the school.
“That was interesting, wasn’t it?” James said to Charity as the two of them exited the Prefects compartment and attempted to spot their friends in the tide of people al headed for the Thestral-drawn carriages. James, who had gone along with his father when Harry had been called to speak to Ollivander the wandmaker on his deathbed some ten years ago, had witnessed the old man’s death and could therefore see the reptilian horses when most of his friends could not. He stopped to pet one of them, and was joined by Fred, Adrian, Lysander and Raelene. Dominique was already cloistered in a carriage with Cameron and some other Ravenclaws.
Charity nodded. “I don’t remember the train ever breaking down before. I wonder what could have happened.”
She was struggling to get her trunk into their carriage while still holding on to her basket o sleeping kittens. Almost unconsciously, James seized it and hoisted it in for her, holding out his hand at the same time to help her in. Charity accepted this unusually sensitive act without comment, but seemed preoccupied throughout their bumpy journey to the school, and spoke very little. Distracted by her odd behavior, James kept shooting Charity covert glances, and chose not to participate when his friends started a game of twenty questions. They debarked from the carriages when the Thestrals stopped walking, stepped through a gap in the trees, and caught their first glimpse of Hogwarts.
“I can’t believe this is the last year we get to come,” Charity breathed, so quietly that only James heard her. He felt an inexplicable urge to put his arm around her shoulders, and had to wrestle with himself for a moment to dominate it.
“Potter, hey Potter,” cried a snide voice, and James looked around to see one of his least favorite people in the world.
“What do you want, Mulciber?”
A gangly seventh year with patches of acne gleaming on his forehead and unkind, coal-black eyes, David Mulciber was a talented but brutish student who captained the Slytherin Quidditch team. He sneered, and said in a drawling voice, “I heard you made Head Boy. Must be nice to be able to rely on your father’s name to get ahead, instead of having actual talent.”
James opened his mouth to make a furious retort, but Charity beat him to it.
“Oh you’re right, Mulciber, it really must be,” she told him in a lofty voice. “Especially when it gives him the power to put gits like you in detention. You had better watch your step this year.”
Mulciber’s eyes narrowed, but he made no further comment and swept away into the marching students. They had come to the great oak doors that opened onto the entrance hall. A few more moments passed, and then they swung magnificently inward, revealing a tall, beaming man dressed in flamboyant lime green robes.
“Welcome back to Hogwarts!” the man exclaimed majestically, opening his arms wide to beckon them inside. James and Charity glanced at each other with raised eyebrows.
The man had long, wavy black hair that fell past his shoulders and a rather prominent chin. His square, wire-rimmed spectacles gleamed in the light from the many chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and he was beaming so widely that his face looked in danger of splitting in half at any moment.
“I,” the man announced, pausing for dramatic effect, “am Amadeus Salazar, your new Headmaster. I wanted to introduce myself personally and wish you all a terrific school year. Now, if you will kindly make your way into the Great Hall, the sorting is about to begin.”
The obliged him, and Lysander leaned over and whispered to James, “It’s not like that’s what we’ve been doing for seven years, or anything.”
Chortling, James took his usual seat in the center of the Gryffindor table, observing the line of first years awaiting to be sorted. Charity’s brother Isaac was the smallest and also the most terrified-looking of them all. He gave the boy a fleeting thumbs up before beckoning at Charity to come sit with him. She stared, surprised, but came and took a seat to his right with Raelene, Dominique following them with an ill grace.
“I hope it doesn’t take too long,” Fred grumbled, dropping onto a bench across from James and gazing longingly at the bare gold plate in front of him. “I’m starving. I hope there’s chicken-”
The rest of his sentence was drowned by a sudden, tremendous crash high above the tables. It sounded as though it had come from the ceiling. Everywhere heads turned to look upward and students gasped as they noticed threatening black storm clouds gathering from all sides. There was another great crash over thunder, and the downpour started, the enchanted rain from the magic ceiling disappearing just a few inches above their heads. A few first years cried out in fright.
“That’s odd, I didn’t think it was raining outside,” Raelene commented, looking around at the others and frowning.
“It wasn’t,” Fred replied. “It was a nice summer’s day. I don’t know what’s gotten into the ceiling, it usually just mirrors the real weather.”
Their conversation was interrupted once more by Professor Longbottom as he brought out the Sorting Hat, which looked more battered than James had ever seen it. Once it was sitting on its customary place on a stool before the assembled staff and students, the hat was silent for a moment before a tear along the brim opened and it began to sing in a reedy voice.
A thousand years ago today
The founders of this noble school
Chose to go their separate ways
Oh how fate can be very cruel
One among their number
Left these hallowed halls for good
And the three that stayed were never
So strong as they could have been would
The four have stayed, so strong, so loved
And so they toiled, still thinking of
The students who would come again
Not knowing how to speak once dead
‘Twas Godric who discovered
A solution to this problem
Not seeing that in doing so
The problem then could only grow
He took me, gave me life like his
And asked me to divide
The students who would walk the school
When he was no longer alive
For many years
This I have done
And done it, I think
The time has come
Your illusions dispel
Though I have sent the cunning
And the pure-blooded one way
To Slytherin, he who would claim
Such students in his day
And though the brave and daring
I have sent to their own side
To Gryffindor who always wore
His chivalry with pride
And though the cleverest of you
I have sent on their way
To Ravenclaw who valued
A ready mind, I’d say
And though the rest who came to me
I gave to Hufflepuff
Where caring, friendship and hard work
Would be more than enough
I’ve done so quite reluctantly
And now I’ll tell you why
I see you repeat their mistakes
It make me want to cry
So although for a thousand years
I’ve gone against my will
The time has come to share with you
This secret I shall spill
The knowledge I bestow on you
‘Tis crucial you should know
For only under harmony
Can this school ever grow
Next time, perhaps, I’ll quarter
As I have done through time
But now, this year, to sort you,
I respectfully decline.
Ever single person in the room drew breath sharply, and continued to stare at the hat long after it had gone quiet.
* * *
The loud, strident screech of an indignant owl was not what awoke the four residents of the seventh year boy’s dormitory in Gryffindor tower on the first day of term, though it sounded well before six. Lysander, along with James, Fred and Adrian, had already been up for almost an hour discussing the only topic on anyone’s mind.
“I still don’t understand it,” Lysander repeated for the hundredth time, gazing out the window at the painted sky, where the sun was only just beginning to rise. “The hat’s never done anything like this before. Why now? What’s so special about this year?”
“My dad told me that the hat gave a few warnings when he was at school,” said James. “Back when Voldemort was gaining power for the second time. But I don’t think it’s ever refused to sort students in a thousand years. There must be something seriously wrong with it.”
“It might just be old,” Adrian suggested. “A thousand year old hat, it was bound to fall off its rocker eventually.”
“I don’t think so,” James insisted. “That song had a very clear message. It said we have to live in harmony if we want the school to grow, or something like that.”
“Well I’ll be damned if I’m going to live harmoniously with Mulciber any time soon,” Fred chortled.
“I don’t think Slytherins can be all bad,” Adrian contradicted.
Noticing the other boy looking at Adrian incredulously, Lysander decided to change the subject. “Why don’t we go downstairs? Last night Professor Longbottom told me they were letting the first years choose which house they want to be in. I expect Caleb, Isaac and Val might be downstairs in the common room right now.”
Their younger siblings, however, were nowhere to be found in the common room. The only people up as early as they were turned out to be Lily, Hugo and Wendy Macdonald, who were sitting in the best armchairs by the fire surrounded by mounds of wrapping paper.
“Happy birthday Lil,” James said to his little sister, giving her a brief one armed hug and pulling a small box out from under his cloak.
“It’s your birthday?” Adrian asked Lily as she unwrapped her brother’s present, which turned out to be a pair of sparkling diamond earrings. He looked rather taken aback.
Lily nodded. “I’m probably the unluckiest person in the whole school when it comes to birthdays. If I’d been born a day earlier, I’d be a fifth year.”
Adrian shook his head. Lysander thought he looked a bit punch drunk. They sat with Lily for another half hour, watching her unwrap her birthday presents, which included an enormous bag of dungbombs from her Uncle George, a special magical pocketknife from Albus and a broomstick polishing kit from her parents.
“Why did they get you this?” James asked, holding up the broomstick polishing kit. “You don’t play Quidditch!”
Lily flushed, a rare occurrence. “Oh, no reason. Why don’t we go down to breakfast? I’m starving.”
“But you just ate the entire box of chocolates I got you,” Hugo protested. Lily stomped on his foot.
Down in the Great Hall he ceiling was still at odds with the clear blue sky outside. It was populated with angry purple clouds, and every now and then a bright flash of lightning startled the students by striking one of the tables. Lysander couldn’t remember the ceiling ever behaving this way; he rather liked it.
The tables were unusually busy for such an early hour. Lysander was certain that the rest of the students were as eager to discuss the Sorting Hat’s decision as he and his friends were. His eyes wandered over to the Hufflepuff table, and he saw that Valeria, Isaac and Caleb were sitting there together between two fifth years he thought might be called John Macmillan and Oscar Boot.
That was nice. Not entirely expected, but nice.
His gaze then fell on the Ravenclaw table, where Dominique was sitting on Cameron Corner’s lap, snogging him unabashedly in front of all their friends. He felt a flicker of irritation.
She was a spoiled, irritating princess, but every once in a while, the way her strawberry blonde hair shimmered made him forget all that. It was all very frustrating.
While Lysander stared vacantly at the snogging couple at the Ravenclaw table, James glared resentfully at his plate, which was filled with some sort of unrecognizable greenish substance.
“This looks like a cross between burnt cabbage and giant squid tentacles!” He exclaimed. “What are the house elves thinking, sending this up?”
“Why is my brother sitting at the Hufflepuff table?” Charity demanded, craning her neck to see Isaac from two tables over.
“How come you two are sitting together again?” Fred asked, eyeing Charity and James.
“Where did Lily go?” Adrian cried, looking around for the redhead, who appeared to have vanished.
“Are any of you actually listening to each other?” said Raelene, giggling. Fred laughed, but James scowled.
“No, really, this is disgusting,” he insisted.
Charity sighed. “Here, why don’t we swap schedules, it’ll take your mind off of this... stuff.”
James handed her his schedule. “Why are you taking Muggle Studies?” Charity asked. “Your father was raised by Muggles!”
“Yeah, and I don’t know nearly enough about them,” James replied calmly. “Your grandmother taught Muggle Studies here, I’m surprised you don’t have the class too.”
“I just can’t fit it into my schedule,” Charity admitted. “It’s the only class I’m not taking, actually. That and Divination.”
“Oh, Trelawney is a right old fraud, I’ll give you that,” James agreed. As Charity laughed, he smelled her perfume again, and the smell of cinnamon caused him to lose his train of thought. “Er,” he muttered distractedly, “look, we all have Potions first class. Wonderful. No breakfast, and a psychopathic teacher first thing in the morning.”
“Yes, but you have three free periods after that,” Charity reminded him. “Oh look, so do I! We’ll have plenty of time to do Professor Chenille’s homework, then.”
James snorted. “I’ll look forward to it.”
“James, what did your parents buy you for becoming Head Boy?”
She kept springing the question on him in hopes of surprising him into answering. James, however, merely shook his head and, standing up, gestured for her to follow. Without another word, she and James got up and left the table, seemingly oblivious to the astonished stares of everyone else in the vicinity.
“Where are they going?” Fred asked, dodging under the table just in time to avoid another bolt of lightning.
“Potions?” Raelene suggested.
“Mental,” Fred muttered, shaking his head as though it were natural to suspect two people of ulterior motives when they decided to walk casually to their next class together.
Accio reviews (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=122301)!
August 23rd, 2009, 5:07 pm
Chapter five is up! Not much happens in this one, but the next chapter will be massive. Unfortunately I don't know when I'll be able to update again as I'm moving out on my own and I may be dropping off the face of the earth for a few days. Keep checking back, though, it shouldn't be too long. Oh and by the way, Lily isn't an alcoholic, she's just adventurous :lol: Enjoy the chapter!
CHAPTER FIVE ~ THE SNITCH'S DANCE
Albus found the first week back at Hogwarts rather uneventful, excepting the Transfiguration class in which he managed to attach his own arms to a kumquat. Perhaps this was due to the demanding nature of his NEWT classes, or perhaps it was because his prefect duties kept him busy. Most likely, however, it was because he was too busy ogling Gwen every chance he got to notice that the food the house elves sent up at meals kept getting more unusual, and that the enchanted ceiling continued to send them storms every day while the sky outside was still resolutely mild and blue.
He didn’t understand how he had never noticed her before, in all the years he had known her. Absolutely everything about Gwenyth was perfect, from her simple, unassuming beauty to the wittiness he had never knew she possessed, but which came out at the most unexpected times. He felt a slight pang of guilt every time he realized that he was neglecting Rose, but Rose herself seemed unusually preoccupied. Once or twice Al caught her staring intently at the Slytherin table. He knew she couldn’t possibly be stalking Malfoy, so he wondered what one earth could be on her mind. He wanted to ask her if she felt like talking to someone about whatever was bothering her, but didn’t know how to bring it up. And in the meantime, he had Gwen.
So it was that by the time the last class of the week had come around, joint Potions with Slytherin, he was partnered with Gwen and the two of them had pushed their desks so close together that they were practically sitting on top of one another.
“Good afternoon class,” professor Chenille cried out jovially, sweeping into the classroom and grinning at a few of the students. Al had to restrain himself from choking on his own laughter; the man was wearing a striped purple and gold top hat.
“I trust you all had good summers,” professor Chenille said. “Today we will be brewing dittany, just as a refresher as it’s our first week back. The first pair to brew a successful potion will be excused from Monday’s class, so off to work. AND MIND NONE OF YOU BLITHERING IDIOTS BLOW ANYTHING UP OR I’LL HAVE YOU IN DETENTION FOR THE REST OF YOUR MISERABLE LIVES!” He added in a harsh bark, causing a few of the students to raise their eyebrows in surprise.
Knowing that he had practically no chance of winning with Rose in the class, Al felt there was little point in even trying, but he nevertheless flipped through his book until he found the page describing how to properly brew essence of dittany, not wanting to let Gwen down.
“So, er, as we have Friday afternoons off,” Albus began, steeling himself and trying to gather his courage, “James told me he’s having Quidditch trials later this afternoon.”
Gwen nodded absently, busy crushing dragonfly wings and sprinkling them into their cauldron.
“Well...” Albus wasn’t sure he could continue. He took deep breath.”I thought that maybe we could go down and watch the tryouts together.”
He had spoken the words very fast, and they came out rather jumbled. He hoped she had at least understood the gist of what he had said.
Gwen gave him a small smile. “Sure, why not?”
Al breathed a huge sigh of relief and began cutting up flutterby roots, marveling at the nonchalance with which girls could discuss matters such as walking down to the Quidditch pitch together. It wasn’t until several minutes later that he realized that his and Gwen’s potion was the most advanced in the room. Startled, Al looked over at Rose’s cauldron and saw that she had barely started on he potion. She was too busy staring at a few of the Slytherins sitting at the end of the room, whose potion was giving off an odour of foul eggs and old socks.
“Rose,” he hissed. “You’re supposed to be adding snargaluff pods.”
Albus glanced at Adam Thomas, who was paired with Rose. The boy gave him a quizzical look which clearly indicated that he had no more idea what was going on than Al did.
When the bell rang, professor Chenille walked by and exclaimed loudly over Al and Gwen’s potion, attracting glares from the Slytherins. They were then excused from the next class, attracting mutters which Al suspected might have been mingled with death threats from Avery and Flint. They hardly cared. Albus was on cloud nine, ready to walk to down to th Quidditch trials with Gwen. He tried to catch Rose’s eye before he left the classroom, but she merely gave him a brief smile and mouthed her congratulations at him.
On the way down to the grounds, Albus saw a very odd thing. He was quite sure, while passing the deserted third floor corridor, that he saw a suit of armor entering the Room of Requirement. A moment later, however, Gwen took his hand in hers, and he completely forgot about the suit of armor’s unusual behavior. He didn’t see five more suits of armor follow behind the first one, all pacing in front of a bare stretch of wall before stepping through the door which materialized before them.
* * *
Dominique Isabelle Weasley was not pleased with the situation.
Not only had she somehow allowed Charity and Rae to talk her into coming down to watch the Quidditch tryouts, but she had also had the misfortune of arriving on the pitch at the same time as Lysander Scammander, the grand supreme king dolt of Gryffindor tower. It was enough to make her wonder whether her supposed friends had perhaps put something in her tea that morning.
“C’mon, Dom, it’s not that bad,” Charity prompted, gesturing towards the Quidditch pitch where the year’s team hopefuls were gathered. Far from agreeing, Dominique saw nothing but a weedy bunch of broomstick-obsessed thugs lined up in front of James, the greatest thug of them all. What she didn’t expect to see, however, was Lily standing amongst the thugs with a broomstick clutched firmly in her right hand, looking straight ahead with her chin held high.
Leaning over to talk to Albus, who was sitting with Rose and Gwen Gustafson and looking abnormally pleased with himself, Dominique muttered, “What’s your sister doing down there?”
“Hmm?” Al responded vaguely. He seemed a bit too busy staring into Gwenyth’s eyes to notice such mundane disturbances as questions relating to the actions of his family members.
“Well, I may be very much mistaken,” Rose told Dominique, leaning over Al to answer the question for him, “but it looks like she’s trying out for the Quidditch team. And as a beater, at that.”
“That’s brave of her,” Charity said earnestly. “There hasn’t been a female beater at Hogwarts since my mother played here.”
“No, remember, Auntie Jane was a beater as well,” Isaac said. Charity had dragged her little brother along to watch the tryouts with her, even though he, Valeria and Caleb were now technically in Hufflepuff. Dominique didn’t understand why a group of first years, if given the choice, would pick the most insignificant house in the school. But she had refrained from comment, for Charity’s sake.
The existing team members–James, Adrian, Lysander, Fred and Penelope Wood, who played chaser, keeper, seeker, beater and chaser respectively–were all lined up by the far goal hoops, already dressed in their team robes. Dominique saw James give Lily a quizzical look, but he appeared to decide to reserve judgement until he had seen her trial.
“Seekers, line up over here please,” James called, a half a dozen students jostled each other into position at his indication. Two of them were minuscule first years who had about as much chance of making the team as James Potter had of ever becoming Head Boy.
It took a few minutes for Dominique to remember that James had been made head boy.
After the first years had made several disastrous attempts to stay in the air for more than three seconds at a time and failed, they were sent off the pitch and followed by a very excitable girl who showed a great deal more interest in James himself than in actually mounting her broom. Dominique was too busy brooding over the sheer stupidity of third year dimbos with less than half a brain to notice the stony look which passed over Charity’s face up until James waved the girl impatiently away. The next two hopefuls made passable attempts at catching the snitch, though the first was hit twice over the head with a bludger and the second fumbled the tiny golden ball seventeen times before getting a firm hold of it. The last person to try out was a girl who looked quite familiar. Dominique discovered who she was once the fifth years seated in the row ahead of her cheered loudly.
“Who is that?” Dominique asked Julius Knight and Lysander’s brother Lorcan, who were among those cheering the loudest.
“Her name’s Bagnold.” Julius had to yell over the din of excited voices. “I expect she keeps to herself a lot, because I’ve never actually noticed her until this year. But apparently she’s really good on a broomstick.”
“Thank Merlin for that,” Lorcan interjected, “because we need some fresh talent on the team this year if we’re going to beat Mulciber. Fancy trying out, Dom?”
“I have better things to do with my time, thanks,” Dominique told him waspishly, resuming her observation of the tryouts. The illusive Miss Bagnold–even the name sounded familiar–had risen gracefully into the air and sped after the snitch at a breakneck pace. She caught it in less than a minute, after a spectacular nose dive which she pulled out of mere inches from the ground.
Charity and Raelene were applauding madly. Feeling mildly impressed, Dominique joined in as she watched James pull the windswept girl into a crushing bear hug and wave her over to stand with the rest of the team.
The next group stepped up to try out for the one empty beater’s position, with Lily among them. Everyone was leaning forward in their seats, now, even Albus. One by one the hopefuls made valiant attempts to hit the bludgers aimed at them, until none but Lily were left. She flew ten feet into the air, quite steady on her broom, and Dominique cringed, expecting to see her face beaten in by the savage balls.
But she needn’t have worried. Every bludger aimed at Lily met squarely with her beater’s bat, and she sent them on their way with admirable ferocity and precision. Back on the ground, James was staring at her progress with his mouth hanging open. After Lily had completed her trail and landed next to him, James continued to gape at her with wide eyes for almost a full minute before clapping his sister on the back and turning to the rest of the students.
“Thank you for trying out,” he announced loudly, “we’ve found our new beater. Please come down again next year.”
The rejected players were headed dejectedly in the direction of the castle, and Charity, Isaac and Rae were running down to congratulate Lily. Dominique, however, saw Cameron approaching the field out of the corner of her eye and walked in his direction. He was holding a single white daisy in his hand, which he presented to her with a smile when she reached him before giving her a kiss.
She really hated daisies; she always had.
“Thank you, that’s really, er...” Dominique began.
“That’s really smashing of me?” Cameron suggested, grinning. “Deserving of a good snog, perhaps?”
Giggling at his choice of words, Dominique followed Cameron back to the school, where, she reflected with annoyance, they would no doubt be interrupted by a nice loud post-tryouts party.
* * *
Adrian ducked his head through the portrait hole and clambered into the Gryffindor common room with his arms filled with food from the kitchens. He and Fred had decided that some butterbeer might be in order. The rest of their housemates were all celebrating the new house team members in a loud and unconstrained manner. When they saw what Adrian had brought back, however, a few of them stopped I ntheir tracks and wrinkled their noses.
The house elves had loaded his arms with handfuls of snails, bunches of fish and chips, and plates of dried cucumber and banana slices topped with soy sauce. They had all seemed rather dazed and confused, and Adrian hadn’t had the hear to protest. Unfortunately, this meant there would be very little to eat for the night.
“What the bloody hell happened to butterbeer and treacle tart?” Lily questioned.
“The elves were in a bit more of a creative mood,” Fred replied. “Never mind, cop hold, I managed to get us some firewhiskey.”
“You what?” Charity thundered, suddenly turning around in the middle of talking to Penelope Wood and glaring daggers at Fred.
“I lent him the Marauder’s map,” James explained. “He must have found a way to sneak into the Hog’s Head from Honeyduke’s cellar.”
Charity’s eyes seemed in danger of popping out of her head. “Oh, brilliant! The Head Boy demonstrates his admirable sense of responsibility once again! I can’t believe this!”
“Don’t be a spoilsport, Charity, it’s only a bit of fun.”
“Are you joking? If you got caught-”
“Quiet, you two,” Lily told them both in a surprisingly commanding tone of voice. Adrian turned to stare at her, feeling slightly amused. She continued, unabashed, “Fred, I’ll have some of that. Pass me a glass, will you?”
“You are not giving my sister Firewhiskey!” James nearly shouted at Fred before the latter could make a move.
Lily snorted. “I fail to see how that’s really any of your business.”
“James is right, Lily, you can’t,” Albus chimed in.
“Shut him up for me, will you Gwen?” Lily asked, winking at Gwenyth, who blushed crimson.
“Well, if you lot are done bickering, I’ll have some of that Firewhiskey now,” Lysander joked, stepping forward.
“NOBODY IS TOUCHING THAT FIREWHISKEY!” Charity bellowed.
A few onlookers staggered back, startled. A circle had begun to form around Lily, James, Charity and Fred. Then, just as Charity took a deep, steadying breath and opened her mouth to speak more calmly, the portrait hole opened up again and a tall figure in splendid turquoise robes stepped through it. Penelope shrieked in fright.
“An admirable sentiment, Miss Haversham,” Amadeus Salazar declared striding briskly to the center of the circle. “I am glad to see you are putting that badge to good use.”
James shifted uncomfortably, giving the Headmaster a nervous sidelong glance.
“I find that students in positions of leadership tend to have much more power over their peers than teachers ever could, don’t you?” Salazar persisted. Charity nodded jerkily, clearly terrified of punishment.
“Well, if you agree, then I’ll leave you to sort this amongst yourselves,” Salazar told her with a smile. Adrian felt a flicker of confusion; if they weren’t in trouble, then why had the Headmaster bothered to come all the way to Gryffindor tower in person?
“You- you are?” Charity asked in a small voice, looking as confused as Adrian felt.
“Absolutely,” Salazar confirmed.
The common room had fallen heavily silent. Adrian caught Lily’s eye and she grinned sheepishly, biting her lip. Then, abruptly, there was a small disturbance as a long line of tiny black kittens came trailing down from the staircase that lead to the girls’ dormitory. The cats pounced onto the armchairs by the fire, and one of them climbed Lily’s leg, his claws digging into her blue jeans. She giggled.
The tension was broken. Laughing along with the others as he relaxed, Adrian said, “Er, sir, what brings you here to the common room?”
“Ah!” Salazar exclaimed. “A sharp young man is what you are! Adrian Gustafson, isn’t it?”
“Well, Mr. Gustafson, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve taken it upon myself to visit each house common room and make a few announcements. I have decided to make school activities a bit more involved this year, and create a more dynamic environment for you students. This should promote an elevated state of learning, which is, after all, what this school is all about!”
“What kinds of activities?” Lysander asked, chewing on a piece of snail. Adrian suppressed a gag.
“An excellent question, Mr.-?”
“Indeed? I had the very great pleasure of meeting your great grandfather, Newt Scammander, when I was very young. This was shortly before he died, of course. A brilliant man. So, Mr. Scammander, the activities planned for this year!”
Salazar surveyed them all imperiously, smiling so broadly that Adrian rather feared for his sanity. “First, we will add a touch of the dramatic to the castle. A re-enactment of the classic tale The Fountain Of Fair Fortune. Actors will be selected by myself and my assistant in this project, Professor Haversham. The play will be presented a few days prior to the Christmas holidays.”
“Second, we will inject some mystery into our interactions by throwing a masked ball on Halloween night. Students from the third year and up will be admitted. If any of you feel up to starting a few rumors, I should tell you that I may or may not have already booked the Werewolves of London to play at this ball.”
“And finally, we will prepare those of you who are nearly ready to venture into the wizarding world by sending you on several career training excursions during the final months of the year. Job opportunities will be open to NEWT students.”
“That is all,” Salazar concluded. “I trust each of you will participate wholeheartedly in these activities, as they cannot be a success without your cooperation. Now, as it is time for you to get a good night’s sleep, or alternatively to discover exactly how mistaken you are in thinking that it is a good idea to drink an entire jug of Firewhiskey, I shall leave you to your various pursuits. Good evening all!”
And with that, the Headmaster left the common room. A few seconds of ringing silence greeted his departure, and then the Gryffindors all began to discuss the promised activities excitedly.
“Who d’you reckon will try out for The Fountain Of Fair Fortune?” Raelene asked, gazing furtively at all her housemates as though sizing them up.
“You should go for it, Charity, we always used to put on plays in our backyards when we were kids, remember?” James suggested.
All arguments over the Firewhiskey forgotten, Charity smiled. “Much as I love her, I don’t fancy working on a play with my mother for three months.”
“Hey, look at the snitch, everyone!” Fred suddenly shouted.
After locking the bludgers and quaffle in Madame Hooch’s office, James had snuck the golden snitch back into the castle in his school bag. The little ball had now gotten free from the bag and was zooming around the room in a mad, frenzied manner. It was bumping into things and appeared to be trying to break through the walls. It continued to knock over stacks of books until Lysander leapt into the air agilely and caught it by the tips of his fingers. He looked inexplicably over at Dominique after doing so, but she was busy snogging her Ravenclaw boyfriend in an armchair. Lysander looked dejected, and Lily took the opportunity of everyone’s distraction to sneak the Firewhiskey off the table. Adrian didn’t think anyone besides himself noticed.
Come leave some feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=122301), we have cookies!
August 26th, 2009, 4:42 pm
Sorry for the wait! I only just got my internet back, since I was moving into a new apartment. So, as promised, the sixth chapter. Most of it is pretty light. I hope you like it!
CHAPTER SIX ~ A WALK IN THE MOONLIGHT
“So, what’s the verdict?” James asked, sitting down between Charity and Adrian at Gryffindor table at breakfast and grimacing at the stewed anchovies on his plate.
“The jury’s still out,” Adrian replied cryptically, “but Al and Penelope are in, I already asked them.”
“What are you talking about?” Charity asked, looking at the two of them suspiciously.
James grinned. “Don’t ask don’t tell.” He pushed away his plate, revolted. “This muck is disgusting. They should cut the house elves’ pay.”
“Never let my mother hear you say that,” Hugo muttered from a few seats down.
“Anyway, like I was saying, Penny told me she was on board as you-know-which-one-of-them,” Adrian continued.
“Of course she did,” Dominique said in an undertone, and Rae giggled.
“What do you mean?” said James, feeling confused.
“Don’t ask don’t tell,” Rae chanted, mimicking his voice. At the same moment, Fred and Lysander arrived in the great hall and sat down next to her, glancing at James.
“Did you ask them yet?” said Lysander.
James shook his head. “Nah, I was just about to.”
“Ask us what?” Dominique demanded, glaring at Lysander as he tried to steal a lone piece of broccoli off her plate. “Not going to try to sell us some Firewhiskey, Scammander?”
“Not unless you want me to, Minnie,” Lysander told her smoothly, earning himself a kick under the table. “Anyway, that’s not what we’re on about at all.”
“We’re going on an excursion tonight, in the forest,” Fred supplied. “We found a new spot on the map we want to explore. Are you lot up for it?”
“Sure!” Rae exclaimed at once. “Sounds brilliant. When are we going?”
“That’s the spirit,” said Fred, clapping her on the back.
“No it bloody well is not!” Charity cried shrilly. “We can’t sneak out, we’ll get caught for sure!”
“What part of Marauder’s Map don’t you understand?” James asked her impatiently.
Charity scowled. “James, as head boy, I think you should show a bit more leadership and set the example.”
James tried to think of a response, but felt distracted by the smell of her perfume. And what was more, he liked the way she said his name. James.
“Charity,” Rae said severely, “you sound like an old lady.”
“Excuse me, but I most certainly do not...” Charity trailed off, frowning. “Oh Merlin, I really do, don’t I?”
Even Dominique couldn’t help but laugh at this.
“All right, we’ll go,” Charity agreed.
“We?” Dominique asked ominously.
“Please, Dom, we’ve been here two weeks and the most interesting thing that’s happened is the sorting hat flaking out on us,” Rae insisted.
James tuned out their argument in favor of watching the light from the perpetually stormy ceiling shimmer in Charity’s hair. He didn’t understand what was possessing him. They had hated each other for so long.
“We have a free period after this, do you want to go back to the common room and finish that essay for Neville?” he asked her.
You dunderhead, what are you doing?
But it was too late. Charity smiled and nodded, and got up to leave with him. James found that he was not at all sorry.
Ignoring their friends’ gazes of mingled amusement and shock, the two of them returned to the common room in near silence. Once inside, they found Rose sitting alone by the window with a heavy runes translation book sitting open in front of her. Her eyes were unfocused, however, and she did not seem to be concentrating very hard.
“What’s up?” Charity asked, sitting down next to her.
Rose looked around wildly, as though she had only just noticed that she was not alone. “Oh! I was just... thinking.”
“Nothing wrong with that, but make sure you don’t do it too much,” James joked, taking a seat in a chair on her other side. “Your brain might rot and leak out through your ears.”
Charity looked disgusted, and Rose muttered, “Charming.”
“Do you feel like talking to anybody about it?” Charity persisted.
Rose hesitated. “Well, I was just wondering whether- well, if you see good in someone, when they don’t even see it themselves, is it important to... What I meant to say is-” She took a deep breath. “Should I go out of my way to help someone, even if no one else thinks I should, not even the person themselves? How can I know my judgement is right?”
Charity sighed, but it was James who answered.
“That’s a deep question,” he said. “And Rosie, you’re a brilliant girl. You’re probably the brightest in the entire school, let alone your year. But sometimes you can’t think too much with your head, you have to think with your guts and your heart. If you can’t trust yourself, then who can you really trust? I believe you would do the right thing no matter what.”
Rose looked immensely heartened by his words, for which he was glad. What he didn’t expect, however, was the look that flickered in Charity’s eyes as she stared at him intently. James wanted to look back, but found that it was too much like looking directly at the sun. Her eyes were softer than he had ever seen them, almost questioning.
Probably more to dispel the intensity of the moment than anything else, Rose piped up, “Oh, look whose sitting over there!”
Over in a shadowy corner of the common room was a girl James hadn’t noticed. On closer inspection, he realized that it was the same girl he had recently appointed to the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He had not called a practice yet, and he imagined that the rumors about her must be true, because he had not seen or heard from her since the tryouts. The girl really did keep to herself. In fact, he couldn’t remember ever seeing her at all in his previous years at Hogwarts.
“Hey, Abby, what are you doing?” Rose called, beckoning to the other girl to join them.
When she had done so, James said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I got your name at the tryouts. You were brilliant, by the way.”
“Thank you,” the girl said, smiling shyly at James. “I’m Abigail Bagnold. You can call me Abby, everyone does.”
“Abby’s in fifth year, in Gryffindor,” Rose explained. “I told her she should try out for the team.”
“Good idea,” Charity said. “It’s nice to meet you, Abby, I’m Charity Haversham.”
“Yes, your mother teaches here, doesn’t she?” Abby said.
James nodded. “Yeah, she does. So why is it we’ve never seen you around the common room before?”
Abby grinned and looked down at her feet. “Well... That would be because I only just started at Hogwarts this year.”
“How is that possible?” Charity asked, frowning.
“It normally isn’t,” Abby agreed. “But you see, my grandmother was Millicent Bagnold.”
Rose and Charity nodded in understanding, but James looked confused.
“She was the Minister for Magic before Cornelius Fudge,” Abby explained. “She was able to pull some strings and get me in, even though I’m already sixteen. They only insisted on holding me one year behind, so I’m a fifth year instead of a sixth.”
“But if your grandmother was the Minister for Magic, then why wouldn’t you have come to Hogwarts until now?” James questioned, utterly lost.
“Because I, er,”Abby began, flushing, “I used to be a squib.”
“Used to?” James exclaimed, realizing a few seconds too late, after Charity had elbowed him painfully in the ribs, that his question rather lacked tact. Luckily, Abby didn’t look insulted.
“It’s rare, but it happens,” Rose explained. “A young witch or wizard’s latent magical abilities will usually have show up by the age of seven, but in a few cases, they can remain dormant until much later. In the fifteenth century, a man in Devon suddenly acquired the ability to charm his neighbor’s rose bushes at the age of seventy-two.”
“Exactly,” Abby said. “My magical abilities only started manifesting themselves last year, around Christmas time. Unfortunately, I still don’t have much control over them. Yesterday in Potions I turned a vial of salamander blood into a flesh eating slug, and I have no idea how it happened. Professor Chenille laughed for nearly half an hour. Then he tried to stun me and I had to hide under my desk for the rest of the lesson.”
The remainder of the period passed amicably between the four of them as they abused Professor Chenille and talked Quidditch. When the bell rang, James and Charity departed for Ancient Runes together and Rose mentioned something about talking to Slytherins. By the time the day was over and curfew had rolled around, Adrian, Fred and Lysander had collectively managed to convince Dominique to come down to the forest with them. So it was that at ten o’clock, once the moon had risen and James had checked the Marauder’s Map to ensure that the coast was clear, they were a party of seven very out of bounds, very giggly students sprinting across the grounds towards the dark cover of trees that surrounded the castle.
“What if Ballicastle followed us?” Charity whispered fretfully as they set off on a path through the dense tangle of underbrush.
Agnes Ballicastle was the school caretaker. A shrunken, vindictive woman who limped about the school and always chose to petrify children first and ask questions later, she was universally despised by all students.
“Stop worrying so much, Charity, and have a little fun!” Rae exclaimed. As if to demonstrate her point, she ran up behind Fred and jumped on his back, causing them both to shriek with laughter and nearly fall to the ground. Dominique sniffed her disapproval, but Charity, at least, seemed to loosen up a little. When they arrived at their destination, previously determined between James, Fred, Lysander and Adrian, she let out a soft sigh of admiration.
It was a small clearing carpeted with large, rich-smelling leaves, pine nettles and tall grass that swayed in the breeze. Here and there moths fluttered through the air, bathed in the milky light from the moon. But most surprising of all was when Lily suddenly appeared in the center of the clearing, and invisibility cloak falling off her shoulders and a mischievous grin plastered to her face.
“Merlin’s pants, what are you doing here?” Charity exclaimed shrilly.
“It’s nice to see you too,” Lily said, grinning.
“Merlin’s pants?” James repeated, looking incredulously at Charity. Then, turning to his sister, he added, “Lily, have you been following us this entire time?”
“Yep,” Lily told him happily. “I borrowed Albus’ cloak. Sorry, Jamesie dear, but Hugo and Wendy are too chicken to do anything exciting, and Al and Gwen are just plain insufferable, and I think Rose has gone out of her mind, she keeps finding excuses to stand outside the Slytherin common room. I was bored.”
“Let her stay, James,” Adrian said abruptly. James looked affronted, and Charity laughed.
“I agree with Adrian,” she said, “She can stay, Lily’s fun.”
Grinning at Lily and conceding defeat, James shrugged and proceeded to conjure and enormous quilt, which he placed on the ground with care so that they could all sit together and be protected from the damp ground.
“Hang on, I brought some butterbeer,” Rae told them, rummaging in the pockets of her robes and withdrawing a number of glass bottles, which she passed around to the others.
“Good idea, I brought pumpkin juice as well,” Lysander said, and from under his robes he took an entire school pitcher half filled with orange liquid. James caught Charity’s eye and looked away hastily.
Smiling an unusually bright smile, Dominique settled on the quilt next to Fred and looked up at the sky.
“It really is a nice night,” she observed.
“Well come on, then, let’s dance!” Lily cried, dragging Dominique upright. Charity and Rae followed suit, albeit a little reluctantly, and the four of them began to dance under the moon, laughing self-consciously.
“You know, we may be the luckiest blokes at Hogwarts,” Fred commented, smirking.
“Amen to that,” James, Adrian and Lysander said in unison.
As if in response to their words, Dominique began to sing in a clear, sweet voice, some French song with a beautiful melody. Lysander’s mouth fell open.
“So James, mate, what’s the deal?” Adrian asked, tearing his eyes away from the dancing girls and looking at James.
“What deal?” said James, his brow furrowing slightly.
“La mer... Qu’on voit dancer... Le long des golfes clairs...” Dominique sang lightly.
“The deal with you and Charity,” Adrian replied.
James sighed. “I have no idea.”
“Oh come on, you have to do better than that!” Adrian insisted. “You can tell me, I won’t go blabbing, I swear.”
Halting her dancing for a few moments, Rae approached the blanket, took hold of Fred’s hand and dragged him into the center of the clearing, placing her arms around his neck and resuming her dancing. Lily and Charity laughed and cheered.
“All right,” said James. “I don’t know why, maybe it’s just because this is our last year, but... Somehow it just felt pointless to annoy the daylights out of her this year. And she’s not so bad, you know.”
“Oh I know,” Adrian agreed. “She’s a nice girl. Bit tightly wound, though.”
“A des reflets d’argent... La mer... Des reflets changeants... Sous la pluie...”
“You know my brother’s going to ask your sister to go into Hogsmead with him, don’t you?” James asked Adrian, opting for a change of subject.
“Yeah,” Adrian grumbled, nodding. “I’m not all that chuffed, but in the end I think it’s all right. She could do a whole lot worse.”
“You’re joking!” James exclaimed, surprised. “If it was my sister, I think I’d just about murder anyone who tried.”
“Really?” said Adrian. For some reason, he looked rather upset.
“La mer... Bergere d’azur... chasse ses moutons blancs...”
Rae and Fred were kissing, now, and Lily and Charity were twirling around, giggling loudly. Lysander had a rather morose look on his face. James, for his part, didn’t really trust himself to get up and join the girls. So he leaned back to look at the moon, and caught sight of something that was invisible to the others.
At least a dozen large, winged thestrals were flying through the sky, momentarily obscuring the light from the moon. They were headed away, far away, from the castle.
* * *
Hermione Granger was holding a letter in her hand as she strode purposefully up the lane that led to Number Seven, Griffin Circle. She could not really have said what brought her here, except that a grim, foreboding sort of feeling had gripped her since the end of the summer, and she could not rid herself of it.
She knocked on the front door of the Potter house and, receiving no answer, simply pushed it open and walked in. The house was quiet, peaceful. Hermione made her way up the stairs and to the library, where, to her relief, she found a magnificent golden eagle perched on Harry’s customary chintz armchair. The eagle was gazing intently at the pages of a tick volume on Oriental defensive magical techniques, almost as though it was reading the book.
“Hello Harry,” Hermione said quietly, smiling. A moment later, a slightly disheveled Harry was sitting in the exact spot where the eagle had just vanished.
“Oh, this is a nice surprise,” He said brightly, standing up and walking over to stand by her. “What’s up?”
“I need to ask you about something,” Hermione began, holding up the letter. “I got this from the historical research wing of the Department of Experimental Charms at the Ministry. I wrote them asking for information on old enchantments and ancient magic, after what Luna said about the Astronomy tower and the owls.”
“You know, that was probably a good idea,” Harry told her. “Did you hear about the trouble with the Hogwarts Express?”
“Yes, both Rose and Hugo wrote to me about it,” Hermione said. “When it happened in our third year it was because of Dementors, but Rose told me that there was nothing overtly causing trouble at all. Another reason for me to write this letter.”
Harry nodded. “What did you find out?”
“Not much that I didn’t know already,” Hermione admitted, grinning. “They said that enduring enchantments strengthen over time, and that due to how little we know about them they’re very difficult to detect for us. Magical creatures are more sensitive to them. But one important thing I did find out is that many ancient forms of magic which have gone out of practice involved curses or enchantments cast by a group of witches and wizards together. In combining their magic, it becomes much more powerful, you see.”
“Yeah, but what does all that mean?” Harry asked.
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out more about it if I can,” Hermione said, determined.
She hadn’t felt this kind of ominous excitement since the second war.
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