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The Writing on the Wall. by MargaretLane
Chapter 1: The First Night.
Disclaimer: The characters, settings etc. of this story are the property of JK. Rowling. No copyright infringement is intended.
His father’s words had helped to reassure Albus, but he still felt a flicker of nervousness as he lined up to try on the Sorting Hat.
The silence in the Great Hall didn’t help. He and Rose had travelled together on the Hogwarts Express, chatting enthusiastically about the upcoming year and the journey across the Great Lake with Hagrid had been punctuated with excited chatter and exclamations as Hogwarts came into view, making it easier to forget the upcoming ordeal. Now he felt alone, with nothing to distract him.
What if he and Rose were placed in different houses? What if she was in Gryffindor and he in Slytherin?
James was already in Gryffindor, as were all of his cousins, except Lucy. As far back as anybody could remember, Weasleys and Potters had been Gryffindors. What would people say if he wasn’t?
He turned around to glance at Rose, who looked perfectly composed near the back of the line. Busy whispering to the girl beside her, she didn’t even appear to notice his glance. For some reason, that made him more nervous.
Standing by the three legged stool, a tiny wizard Albus recognised as Professor Flitwick called out, “Adams, Nathan.”
Nathan placed the hat on his head. An age seemed to pass before it finally cried “RAVENCLAW.”
The thought of waiting so long was terrifying, and Albus was relieved when the hat barely touched Rasmus Bagshot’s head before also declaring him a Ravenclaw. It looked as if the waiting time varied.
“Bones, Glynis,” Professor Flitwick called.
She joined the Hufflepuffs who cheered more loudly, it seemed, than any other house. Albus watched them greet her cheerfully, and tried not to think about how far away P was. It must be even worse for Rose, who was right at the end of the alphabet.
Time seemed to stand still as the Bs, Cs and Ds were slowly sorted into their respective houses.
“SLYTHERIN”, the hat decided.
There was a pause before the hat shouted “HUFFLEPUFF.”
Eventually, the hat reached the Ms.
Albus looked up. This one was worth hearing.
To his surprise, the hat seemed to pause. He’d expected it to shout SLYTHERIN immediately.
Moments passed before it finally called out “SLYTHERIN”.
Albus was coming closer to the head of the line. He was no longer so sure he wanted his turn to come.
Albus froze and his heart jumped into his mouth. Somebody nudged him from behind and he walked slowly forward.
“Hmmm,” the hat whispered, as he placed it on his head. “This isn’t an easy one. There’s plenty of ambition here; perhaps more than you realise yourself.”
“Please don’t place me in Slytherin,” Albus thought, wondering how exactly one was supposed to plead with a hat.
“That’s what your father said as well.” The hat sounded smug, as if it had expected his response. “He was a difficult one too, I remember. Like him, you have courage. But you have other traits too. I see intelligence here and curiosity; a willingness to learn. So I think you’re suited to RAVENCLAW!”
Albus jumped. He'd been so worried about being placed in Slytherin and so anxious for Gryffindor that he hadn’t even thought of the other houses.
He stole a quick glance at the Gryffindor table where James and his cousins were staring open-mouthed.
Across the Hall, the Ravenclaws cheered madly.
Stunned but not entirely dissatisfied, Albus headed for the Ravenclaw table and sat down beside the only one of his cousins already sitting there.
Lucy grinned. “Finally! Another Weasley who’s not in Gryffindor.”
He didn’t bother to remind her he was a Potter. He knew what she meant.
Professor Flitwick got up from the staff table and headed towards the Ravenclaws to try and calm them down so the sorting could continue.
Albus found himself anxious for it to do so. He still didn’t know what house Rose was in, after all. Was it possible she might be placed in Ravenclaw too? She was by far the smartest of the cousins, after all. But Hermione was supposed to be one of the smartest witches in the Ministry and yet she’d been a Gryffindor.
His fingers were tightly crossed. He really, really wanted her to be a Ravenclaw.
But what if she wanted to be a Gryffindor? After all, her father had threatened to disinherit them if they weren’t. Albus knew he’d been joking, but he still thought Ron would take it a lot worse than his father would if his child wasn’t placed in Gryffindor.
The nervous feelings were welling up in his stomach again.
The sorting continued, and Thompson, Derek joined the Ravenclaw table. Albus strained across to take a look at him. This was somebody he’d be sharing a dormitory with, as well as classes and a common room.
Eventually, Flitwick called Rose to try on the hat.
Far more quickly than it had sorted Albus, it called out “RAVENCLAW.”
Albus leapt to his feet, cheering more loudly than he ever had before in his life. Rose came towards him and he hugged her, lifting her off her feet.
“Idiot.” She slapped him lightly.
“I never even thought of Ravenclaw, did you?” he asked.
“Yeah, I did, actually. Mum said that the hat took a long time to decide between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor for her and I kind of thought I could be here, but Dad said, ‘no way’. Weasleys were always in Gryffindor.” She laughed. “Well, that’s proven him wrong, anyway. I told him it wasn’t certain. I said ‘look at Lucy,’ but he said…well…” She trailed off, glancing over at Lucy.
“I can guess.” Lucy put in drily. Ron, like Albus’ mum, found Percy’s manner extremely irritating.
“Uncle Ron won’t be pleased though. Neither of us being in Gryffindor.”
“Oh, he’ll get over it. Could be worse. We could be in Slytherin. Imagine his reaction then.”
Albus shivered, remembering the hat’s words to him. He reminded himself it had said the same thing to his father.
“I suppose Slytherins can’t be all bad,” he said. “After all, Dad named me after one.”
“Dumbledore wasn’t a Slytherin.”
“I meant my middle name.”
Before she could answer, Professor McGonagall was calling for attention from the staff table.
“I’m sure you are all hungry, so I don’t mean to detain you too long,” she began. “However, there are one or two things I wanted to say. Firstly, I want to remind all students that the Forbidden Forest, is, as the name suggests, forbidden to all students, unless accompanied by a teacher.” Her gaze seemed to fall on James and Albus smothered a laugh. His brother had been caught there the previous year.
“Mr. Filch has also asked me to remind you that all items from Weasleys Wizard Wheezes are banned, as are a number of other items. The full list can be viewed in his office. And first years should be aware that magic in the corridors is not permitted.
“On a more positive note, I’d like to welcome our new Professor of Transfiguration, Professor Blackburn.”
A tall, dark-haired witch in her early twenties stood up and a perfunctory cheer momentarily filled the Great Hall. Albus noticed some of the older Ravenclaws look worried.
“I do hope she’s a good teacher,” Lucy muttered. “I’ve got my O.W.L.s next year, after all and Dad won’t be pleased if I do badly.”
Albus glanced at Rose nervously. Two years seemed like a lot of time to prepare for an exam to him. If his fellow Ravenclaws all took their studies so seriously, he felt certain he would never keep up.
Rose, however, seemed to think Lucy’s concern a perfectly reasonable one.
“Are the teachers here generally good?” she asked.
Lucy didn’t have a chance to answer as Professor McGonagall was clapping her hands.
“Our start-of-term feast will now begin.”
Every type of food seemed to appear before them.
Albus loaded his plate with chips, sausages, peas and bacon and ate hungrily. He didn’t want to eat too much however. James had told him the deserts were absolutely delicious and the last thing he wanted was to be too full to even taste them.
Sure enough, once the first course was eaten, the plates filled with ice-creams and cakes.
Albus grabbed a chocolate éclair and two doughnuts.
As James had said, they were absolutely delicious.
Finally, the last of the food disappeared and McGonagall stood up again.
“Now, it’s late and I’m sure you are all tired after your journey. And don’t forget that classes start tomorrow morning and we expect you all to be wide awake and ready to begin. So please return to your dormitories now. I ask our prefect to show the first years where to go. First years, please obey the instructions of your prefects.”
Albus and Rose followed their prefects up to Ravenclaw tower.
The prefects paused at the top of the long staircase.
“And now, we face one of the most interesting and occasionally irritating parts of being a Ravenclaw.”
Rose and Albus exchanged glances, neither knowing what the prefect was referring to. None of their new classmates seemed sure either.
“When you knock on the door with this knocker, the eagle will ask us a question. If you answer correctly, the door will open. It can be difficult sometimes, which makes sneaking out of Ravenclaw Tower at night a very bad idea, but I think between us, we ought to figure tonight’s question out.”
He rapped on the door.
“What dragon has no flame?”
The question reminded Albus of a story from his father’s first year at Hogwarts.
“One in an egg,” he practically whispered.
“Good answer”, replied the eagle and the door swung open.
The prefect turned to Albus. “Well done. Looks like you’re definitely in the right house.”
Albus squirmed. Remembering Hagrid and his dragon’s egg had been pure luck, not wisdom or intelligence or whatever else Ravenclaws were supposed to have. He doubted he’d find future questions so easy.
The prefects paid him no further attention. They led the first years into the tower, where boys and girls parted company and were shown to their dormitory by a prefect of their own gender.
“A word of warning. We’re not allowed in the girls’ dormitories, though they can enter ours. Why that is, I’ve no idea, but those are the rules. Have any of you any questions? Not just about the dormitory rules; about anything.”
The younger boys exchanged glances, but nobody spoke.
“OK then, I’ll leave you to get the good night’s sleep Professor McGonagall recommended. If you need to ask anything over the next few weeks, come and see me or one of the other prefects.”
He left and Albus glanced around at his new classmates, more interested in them than the dormitory itself.
“Say, what do you think of the set up here?” Derek asked.
“You mean Ravenclaw? Or Hogwarts in general?”
“Hogwarts, I suppose. The whole thing. I’ve never seen anything like it. Are, you know, your parents wizards too?"
Albus smiled. It wouldn’t be long until the boy found out about his father, he supposed, but he saw no need to enlighten him yet. “Yeah, they’re a witch and a wizard. How about yours?”
Derek shook his head. “My dad’s in the police and my mum works in computers. I’ll miss modern technology actually. They say it doesn’t work at Hogwarts. I’m Derek, by the way.”
“He’s Albus Potter,” one of the other boys put in.
Derek looked blank.
“Haven’t you heard of his dad?”
“He’s Muggleborn,” the fourth boy put in. “How could he have? I’m Rasmus, by the way and the reason we’re all so pleased to have Albus in our house is because his dad defeated the most dangerous wizard in about half a century.”
“Not on his own,” Albus said.
“Well, I know that, but still it’s interesting, you know?”
Albus sighed. “I suppose so.” He turned to the only boy who hadn’t introduced himself yet. “Sorry, I’ve forgotten your name.”
Truthfully, he wasn’t even sure he’d noticed it in the long list called out during the sorting, but saying he’d forgotten sounded more polite.
“Are you…um, I mean are your parents a witch and wizard?” Derek asked.
Albus suddenly realised why Derek was asking.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “My aunt was Muggleborn. Her parents are dentists. And she got the best results in her year. She got my dad out of some pretty sticky situations too. Nobody looks down on Muggleborns anymore.”
“Did they before?”
Albus wrinkled his nose. “Some did. People like the wizard my dad fought. It was all rubbish anyway.”
Nathan and Rasmus nodded.
“But the rest of you have to have an advantage. I mean, I didn’t even know dragons existed. How am I supposed to know whether or not they have flames?”
“You’ll figure everything out pretty quickly,” Albus said. “My dad said my aunt practically learnt Hogwarts: A History off by heart.”
“I think I’ll do the same.”
Albus laughed, but he was slightly worried. The other Ravenclaws seemed so intelligent. Like Rose. Albus didn’t see himself as all that exceptionally intelligent. Was the Sorting Hat always right? Or might it have made a mistake?
There wasn’t much time to wonder that night. Although he’d been certain that he wouldn’t sleep at all, he was tired after the journey and fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.