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Chapter 1: A Record
He could feel the morning sun shining down onto his tanned skin, the light dancing across his cheek, and he frowned, knowing someone had come into his new bedroom and opened his curtains. But he didn't open his eyes. Obviously, it was too early; his alarm clock hadn't rung yet.
Then he heard them walk around, the old hardwood floor creaked from under their feet, and he wanted to tell them to get lost. But he didn't. He knew that if they realized he was awake, he'd have to get up now and he certainly didn't want to do that. So he pretended he was still sleeping and hoped they'd leave. Only they didn't. He felt the mattress give way under their weight, though not by much. He realized it was his little sister and continued to ignore her.
She jumped on his bed, standing on his leg. He felt her wobble a little before she started jumping again, not that she mattered at that moment. His eyes snapped open and he yelped in pain, pulling his leg up to his chest and rubbing where the red mark had been left from her sneakers.
"Charley!" He yelled at her. "Get out of my room!"
She smiled down at her big brother, her pony tail and fringe bouncing up and down as she continued to jump, and giggled at his frown. She clapped her hands together. "First day of school! First day of school!"
"Yes, it's my first day," he agreed, speaking slowly. "But not yet, it's early."
Charley stopped bouncing and tilted her head, confused by his words, and shook her head. "The big hand is on the three and the little hand is on the ten," she told him, pointing to his clock. "Daddy said to see if you were awake."
"Albert, are you up yet?" Their dad called from the bottom of the stairs. "You don't want to miss the train!"
Picking up his alarm clock, Albert stared at the time. "That's not possible," he muttered. The minute hand was between the three and the four when he finally broke from his trance and turned the clock around in his hands to check the batteries, then he shook it as if it would help. He got out of bed, facing his sister. "Why didn't the alarm go off?"
"I don't know," she shrugged. Charley jumped down to the floor and ran out of the room, leaving the door wide open. Albert dropped his clock onto his bed and moved to slam his door shut, angry that he now had to rush getting ready and breakfast so he could get to the station on time. He opened up his wardrobe doors and pulled out the box that had been labelled 'winter clothes'. Albert rummaged through the box until he found clothes that looked suitable enough to wear and placed them onto his bed, before going to the bathroom.
He stood in front of the mirror, thankful he'd chosen to have his shower last night (though it had actually been because it had been unnaturally cold; English weather was weird), and hurried to wash his face and brush his teeth. Once he was done, he ran a hand through his thick, brown hair, making sure it was flat and examined his face in the mirror. He could only just see that he had freckles dotted across his cheeks and nose. They only really came out in the sun and he'd lived in the sun his whole life until the move.
Albert flattened his hair again, refusing to think about why he was here. He just wanted to be excited about school. With that in mind, Albert crossed the hall into his bedroom and got changed. Dressed in a pair of shorts that stopped just below his knees, a light blue surfer t-shirt, a sleeveless blue and white checkered jacket and white sneakers with velcro straps, Albert jogged down the stairs and into the kitchen.
He sat down at the table, on the edge of his seat, and his dad, Jake, chuckled, amused, his arms stretched out at either side to the different breakfast options. "Cereal or toast, kiddo?"
Albert cast a quick glance at both. "Cereal," he said. As soon as his dad moved to the cereal box, Albert shook his head. "Toast. No, cereal." His dad gave an annoyed sigh. "Toast," he answered with an assured nod and jerked his head to the front door. "To go."
His words caused Jake to automatically relax and smile. He prepared the boy's breakfast. "It'll be fine, Bertie, I promise," he reassured, buttering the lightly toast bread, just how he liked it. "Your trunk is already in the car, everything is there, your wand is here on the table," he held it up, "I put it here for you. You will get to the station on time." He placed the little plate with his breakfast in front of him. When Albert opened his mouth, his dad cut him off. "You can eat it in the car, I'll bring the plate back. Charley!"
He called for his daughter, picking up her coat that he'd put on the chair for when they were ready to leave. She came running in and put her coat on. "We should have left her in Australia," Albert said, glaring. "She jumped on my bed and stood on me!"
"She didn't mean to," their dad scolded him, zipping up her coat.
"Why didn't Mummy come with us?" Charley asked.
"Mummy has work at home," he replied. "She couldn't come."
Albert shook his head, toast in his mouth, and stood up with his plate in one hand and wand in the other. "She just didn't want to," he muttered between bites.
Jake narrowed his eyes at his son, warning him to say nothing more on the subject. He didn't like that Albert would say it in front of Charley, no matter how true he thought it was. Charley was only six and loved her mum; he had no doubt she was missing her. He told her that Albert was just missing her too and that she couldn't come, but loved them both, and then he changed the subject. "Don't you think you should get changed, Bertie. It might be a little cold outside."
"No," he shook his head gently. "We're only going to the car, then a train; I'll be fine. Besides," he pointed out of the kitchen window, "the sun's out."
Jake steered them in the direction of the front door, picking up his car keys along the way. He opened the door and they stepped out. Albert felt the cold air against his skin as the wind hit him and he held onto his breakfast, while trying to keep warm. "Don't be fooled by what you see, mate."
The car ride to the station was relatively quiet. Albert was anyway; he ate his breakfast in silence while his dad and sister talked excitedly about school. "We'll get your uniform today, charley."
Jake grinned at her through the mirror, then tapped Albert on the shoulder. "Are you alright, mate?"
"Yeah," he replied softly. He dad gave him a skeptical look and he sighed. "Do you think they'll make fun of my name like my last school did?"
Jake ruffled Albert's hair with his hand. "I don't know," he said. "But I do that you never let it get to you. You still had friends in Brisbane and you'll make friends at Hogwarts. The one's who didn't call you Bertie, called you Will anyway; you can always tell them to call you that if you want."
"I like Bertie," Charley called out.
Albert turned around and smirked. "Great, I'll call you Bertie then."
Albert met three people who made some sort of impact on what to think of Hogwarts, its students and the British in general.
The first one he met was on the train. He stood by the window closest to the carriage door, his face and arm sticking out, and waved good bye to his dad and sister as the train left the station and they disappeared from his line of sight completely. He didn't realize he might be blocking the way until it was too late; Albert pulled his arm out and spun around, knocking into another boy who had been trying to get past, and they both fell to the floor.
The boy in front of him groaned in pain and rubbed the base of his back. Albert stood up first and held out his hand, but the boy batted it out of the way and got to his feet slowly.
"I am so sorry," Albert said sincerely. "I was saying good bye, I didn't see you."
"I noticed that," he spat, glaring. He pushed his dirty blonde hair out of his eyes and looked Albert up and down, studying him. His eyebrows were raised, but he said nothing more and walked away.
Albert watched the boy's retreating form walk away, confused as to what had actually happened. He went through it in his head, but it didn't help him understand the situation.
I apologized and tried to help; what went wrong?
"Are you all like that?" Albert asked a girl who walked past. She gave him a funny look and carried on walking. "Never mind."
He found a carriage near the back of the train. It was completely empty and he was fine with that. Albert stretched his legs out on the seat and watched the scenery pass them by, the rude boy gone from his mind.
England was so different.
The second person he met on the boat that took them to school. They didn't speak at all throughout the journey; Albert was amazed by the castle that would be his home until winter.
Summer, he mentally corrected. His dad said it was summer in the UK. England was backwards.
The boy at his side seemed to be nervous rather than excited. He was shaking enough for Albert to notice. Though, he mused, it could have been because of the weather. He wrapped his arms tighter around his new uniform. The boy kept his eyes at the bottom of the boat.
He didn't say a word until they were waiting in line at the sorting. Albert had his head tilted up, smiling at the bewitched ceiling. "Look at the sky," he whispered.
He saw the boy look up from the corner of his eye, the smallest hint of a smile. It disappeared the next second when the Sorting Hat that would tell them their houses (he was still a little freaked out by the hat) shouted Slytherin to the girl on the stool, the girl who gave him a funny look on the train.
"I'm scared I'll be in Slytherin," he whispered. "Dad said not to worry and that I could ask to go in Gryffindor if I wanted. What if it doesn't listen and Slytherin is bad?"
Albert thought about what he had been asked, taking note of the worry in the boy's emerald green eyes. "I think it will listen. There's no harm in asking if you want to change. But, remember, there are four houses here; it might not say Slytherin."
His smile came back and he looked calmer. "Thanks." He held out his hand. "I'm Albus Potter."
"Albert Rivers," he replied, returning his hand. "But you can call me Bertie. Or Will. My middle name," he explained, giggling at Albus' puzzled expression.
Albert gave him a thumbs up once Albus sat on the stool. The Sorting Hat did put him in Gryffindor. Albert hoped that he would be in the same house, he liked the idea of having a friend on his first night. But the Hat put him in Ravenclaw. His smile was not as big as before, but Albus returned the thumbs up and the table was right next to his. They wouldn't share a dorm, but that didn't matter.
He was going to like it here.
The final person he met was the next day. He was in the corridor on his way to his first class of his first day, Potions, and he accidentally tipped his bag trying to fasten it. Everything fell out and he cursed quietly; he didn't want to be late.
Albert bent down and began stuffing his books back into his bag when he heard someone rush over and help. "I've got it," she said. They stood up and she held out his book. "Here you go."
"Thanks," he replied.
"I saw yesterday," she said as they continued walking. "You were talking to Albus."
Albert nodded enthusiastically. "You know him?"
"He's my cousin," she answered, laughing. "I'm Rose. You are Albert or Bertie or Will, which is your middle name."
Albert laughed, more understanding of Albus' confusion last night; Albert and Will really were two completely different names. "He told you."
She nodded. "He didn't say were you were from, though," Rose told him, hinting.
"I'm from the magical world of Oz," he told her, smirking lightly.
Her answer made him laugh out loud. "Like the movie?"
"Australia," Albert explained. "Brisbane."
"Where's Brisbane?" She asked him. "I'm not familiar with Australia."
"Oh," Rose nodded. "I've heard of Queensland. Honestly, though, the most I know of Australia are kangaroos, surfing and those soaps my nan watches."
Albert opened the door and held it open for Rose, grinning. "There's more to Oz than that, I assure you."
They entered the classroom in silence and the professor gave them their allocated seats. He was disappointed that his seat was next to the rude, blond boy from the train, but he ignored it, mostly because Rose and Albus were on the table across from him.
But back home, Bertie was known for his bad luck. And bad luck was due.
They were to work in pairs to produce a potion of a good standard. It was simple enough, just a simple sleeping draft. But his partner was always correcting Albert and telling him what to do. His anger boiled inside him until he almost shook and grabbed the next ingredients, throwing them in. He didn't care that the potion would be ruined, it was only practice; he just wanted him to stop talking.
"No!" He shouted, causing everyone to stare. "That was too much. It's gonna -"
The cauldron began to shake and Albert stepped back slowly. Albus came over to see if he could help, Rose following. "What happened?"
"I don't know!"
"He put too much in," the blond growled.
"Well, what did you do to upset him, Malfoy?" Rose pointed at him. "Every time I looked over, he looked like he was about to explode or hit you!"
"I think you should move back," Albert spoke quietly, his eyes on the cauldron as he moved further away. But it was too late.
The potion exploded, thick liquid covered the three first years in front of him, just missing Albert. Then, to make things worse, the dangerous mix of ingredients caused what was left of the potion to combust. The professor came rushing over and put the fire out quickly, his face red with anger, and he pointed at the four students in turn. "Detention," he said.
The three stared up in shock, unable to believe that they had been given detention on their first day, then turned to Albert. Record, he thought, not surprised by his bad luck, however unhappy he was about being given detention. But what he hated more was the look the cousins were giving him. He thought back to his talks with them and the thought of having new friends: I guess not.
"I'm so sorry," he said hurriedly.
"That's the second time you've said that to me, but you still managed to get in my way," Malfoy sneered.
"I've apologized, what more do you want?"
Malfoy looked like he was about to charge at him, but Albus had his hand hovering close to his chest before he had a chance to move, telling him he'd stop him.
"That's enough," the professor said, his tone final. Everyone fell quiet immediately. "The four of you will come back here the moment your last class of the day is over. I will have a suitable punishment for you."
The professor cleaned the mess on the four and the students with a flick of his wand and dismissed the class. The other students stared at him, whispering on his way past.
"Did you see that? Malfoy almost killed him?"
Malfoy pushed past him, his shoulder connecting with his painfully. Albus gave him a small smile and a wave. Rose just left.
Albert grabbed his bag, took one last look at where the explosion had happened, and sighed as he left for his next class. He wasn't looking forward to his detention.
"I can't believe this."
Albert rolled his eyes, having heard the same four words come from Malfoy's lips every few minutes for the past hour, but refrained from commenting. Rose had long since given up telling him to shut up and Albus just ignored him. Albert went back to his parchment and continued writing. He was grateful they were only given lines. They had to write 'I must be more careful' until the professor came back. Once he deemed they had written enough, they could leave.
Not the worst detention in the world.
Malfoy started muttering again and Albert turned slowly. "I said I was sorry."
"That seems to be all you know how to say."
"Enough!" Rose snapped. "What's done is done. It was an accident, Malfoy. An accident that probably wouldn't have happened if you had just left him alone."
Malfoy opened his mouth to speak, but closed it when he saw her eyes narrow. "He said he was sorry," Albus cut in quietly. "So leave it alone."
Albert thanked him quietly and Albus nodded before finishing his lines. They stayed quiet until the professor came and he let them go. They left in silence and made their way to dinner. No one sat near him at the Ravenclaw table; they'd heard what had happened that first lesson. He barely ate, not in the mood, and went to bed early. He stared at the ceiling, hating how his first day had gone. He sincerely hoped tomorrow would be better.
"Bertie Rivers, as far as bad impressions go, this has got to be a record."
A/N: Hey all! I wasn't going to post a new story and focus on the one's already posted. But then I found this challenge and... The rest is history. :D
I hope you enjoy this fic and my new best friend, Bertie. Reviews would be greatly appreciated. :)