Chapter 1 : The Journey Back
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“Rora! Rora? Rora.”
My eyes snap open to the blinding light streaming into my large attic bedroom. I quickly spring up, as if shocked by electric current, glancing at the dusty metal clock at my bedside. It is flanked by a tiny potted plant and handheld telescope, and I realize I had neglected to set its alarm the night before. With much chagrin, I read half past six on its face.
“Merlin, I overslept!” I hiss to myself as I sit up and pull my long chestnut hair up into a top knot and throw off my lumpy lavender duvet. I bemoan its lost cozy warmth for only a moment before my excitement returns and I slip her feet into a pair of worn slippers and bound down the stairs outside my bedroom door.
My father is already in the brightly lit kitchen, whipping up breakfast with his wand. He has managed to simultaneously direct a skillet full of sizzling eggs on the stove whilst conjuring an assembly line of beans spreading themselves on enchanted-flame toasted bread. I walk over and snatch one of the pieces from midair before taking a seat at the large oak table in the center of the kitchen. My mother is beside me, already keenly surveying the morning post. Her brow is furrowed, in either concentration or concern, but she immediately brightens up and folds the paper away when she spots me.
“Morning sweetums,” Dad greets me and hands me a piping cup of tea.“Late night?” I narrow my eyes as I take the mug.
“Maybe,” I respond. I may or may not have spent the majority of the previous night up finishing off the last of my summer assignments. Though normally a decent student, procrastination had taken its toll this summer with the advent of dreaded summer homework. With NEWTs approaching this coming term, my Astronomy professor had set all incoming seventh years this joyful task.
“I’m sure the stars will thank you for all your careful observation,” my dad winked and gave a boom of a laugh.
Mum pushes a plate of newly placed eggs towards me, “Eat, you need protein,”
I dig in, barely breathing between mouthfuls. I had less than twenty minutes to get ready now, and there was no way I’d be late to the most exciting day of the year.
“Don’t choke yourself, love.” Dad chides merrily as he comes to join Mum and me at the table.
“Can’t-Late-Need-Pack!” I say in between chews. And indeed, my trunk waiting upstairs was only half full.
“Well you can’t very well get to Hogwarts if you’re dead from choking, Rora,” Mum scolds. But I just give her a goofy grin as I finish off my plate and dash back up the stairs to finish packing.
I begin to gather my things, mostly haphazardly strewn about my bedroom. I grab my telescope kit from my windowsill and place it in my trunk on top of my various robes, books and personal effects. I top it off with my giant collection of constellation charts, which clatter as they enter.
Scurrying over to my desk, I begin to stuff the loose papers and parchment clippings into my leather bound notebook. My hand passes by a stack of letters from friends that I had shoved to the corner, and I smile lightly to myself as my eyes scan the various senders’ names…S. Black, P. Pettigrew, E. Vance…M. Pine, R. Lupin, among others. My heart thrills at the thought of seeing my schoolmates again. Though we had made grand plans to meet up over the summer, physical proximity (and James’ family’s annoying propensity to spend summers on the coast) hadn’t allowed for it much.
But I would be seeing them again in just a few short hours. And with that I gather the rest of the papers and dump them into my trunk and snap the lid shut.
The sound disturbs my pet owl, Ophelia, who had been snoozing peaceful on her perch in the corner of my room before my loud racket woke her.
She gives an annoyed series of hoots and flaps her wings in irritation.
“Oh shush, Ophy, we’re going to Hogwarts!”
* * *
The late summer air is crisp and chilly as I step out of the taxi car in front of the towering entrance to Kings Cross train station in London three hours later, my wooden trunk and Ophelia in tow behind me.
Mum and Dad are frantically attempting to locate my train ticket as we walk through the archway (Mum had insisted that I would lose it immediately if she gave it to me too early, and had kept it to herself) and I am trying to ignore their bickering as we approach the platform portal. But their grumpiness won’t stifle my joy and excitement as I furtively glance around at the passing Muggles, wondering if I might run into classmates or friends on the way to the platform.
Rolling my trunk at a gainful pace, I find my way to the brick partition separating platforms 9 and 10. But I stop in my tracks as it comes into view; usually the barrier was uncrowded (for there were undoubtedly enchantments that subconsciously drew Muggles to stay away and certainly any magic folk wouldn’t loiter there for long). But instead, I notice a figure dressed in the awkward fashion sense usually reserved to wizards trying to mimic Muggle clothing. It is a tall man with the unmistakable look of a person trying to appear casual.
“Ministry officer,” I hear my dad explain to my mother behind me. I furrow my brow. Extra security?
“Must be because of the current happenings,” I hear Mum respond, and I tense up. The attacks had been growing in frequency lately. But mostly they were isolated events. Would a Death Eater really attack students on their way to school?
Once we reach the partition, my Dad nods his head in greeting and says, “Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” to the man. He is silent in response as Dad surreptitiously holds out my Hogwarts Express ticket, then gives a short nod and gestures for us to continue.
I shyly keep my head down, staring curiously at the wizard before I take a deep breath, and lunge forward at a steady jog, bounding headlong into the wall. Suddenly, I find myself in the crowded midst of the Hogwarts Express. Mum and Dad clamor in behind me.
“Was that necessary?” I ask my Dad as we walk towards the end of the train where it was customary of the new Seventh years to coalesce.
“Better safe than sorry, I reckon,” Dad shrugs but I notice him and Mum exchange an uncomfortable glance. “Strange that the school didn’t owl the parents about it, though…”
As we move through the crowds of people saying their goodbyes, I am scanning the throngs of people surrounding us.
“Rora dear, are you meeting Marigold and Emmeline?” Mum asks from behind me, no doubt noticing my expression. She was referring to my two best friends in Gryffindor Tower, whom I had been glued to since second year when our dormitories had been rearranged due to a student leaving to be homeschooled and us finding ourselves with a whole room to just the three of us. Luckily we had managed to keep our arrangement for the years following.
But before I can respond, a familiar voice beckons me to turn around.
“Hey Rora! Over here!”
I smile and turn around to see the tall form of Sirius Black, grey eyes alight with excitement and clutching a brown leather rucksack, sauntering over to me. His black hair is longer than it was last term, falling to nearly the shoulders of his pale blue sweater. James Potter is right beside him, as he often was, his hair slightly (yet purposefully) mussed. James looks much the same as he did when I left them last spring; tall and lean with thick round frames settled on his face.
“There you blokes are!” I say as Sirius pulls me into a quick hug when we reach each other. “I thought maybe you’d skipped off this year when I didn’t see you at the gate,” I tease.
“Our last year at Hogwarts?” Sirius asks smoothly as he releases me. “Never.” I survey him for a moment. He looks different than what I remember from the end of last term. Was he taller? I couldn’t place it.
“And me being Head Boy and all,” James adds nonchalantly, with a smug but humorous smirk on his face. I notice a shiny badge glistening on his chest.
I raise my eyebrows in surprise. “You got Head Boy?” James was not one to be called a professors favorite (except perhaps McGonagall); I sometimes thought him and the rest of the Marauders spent more time in detention than they did actually studying. Thought to be fair they always somehow managed to pull good marks by the end of each term.
“I can’t say I’m not surprised,” I say, peering my head in closer to examine th e badge. It really was legitimate, with an intricate golden Gryffindor lion etched behind the letters H.B.
“I was more shocked than you!” Remus Lupin has joined us now, lugging his and Peter Pettigrew’s trunks behind him. Peter gives me a giddy grin in greeting and I smile in return.
“Jealous, more like,” Sirius says playfully, placing a dramatic hand over his chest. “Your heart was wounded, when Dumbledore overlooked you,”
“Oh shove it Pads,” Remus says darkly. “I don’t see you milking the rewards of being so well-liked at school either.”
“True, but I have other ways of reaping the benefits of a good reputation,” Sirius smirks.
“Um, Rora dear, shall we see you off, then?” Dad has edged back to me and injected into the circle.
“Oh- Of course. Miss you already,” I say as I pull him in for a tight hug. He strokes my hair for a moment before my Mum takes her turn.
“Good luck darling. Study well!” She says, and kisses my cheek. She is grasping me tightly, and I fear she won’t let go, so I gently pull myself away with a smile.
“I’ll see you for Christmas before you know it, Mum, don't worry,” I smile and wave them off before returning to the boys, still chattering behind me.
I notice Sirius is staring at me funnily. “Those your parents?” he asks, gesturing to my Mum and Dad’s backs as they step back to the group of waiting parents near the side of the platform.
“Oh, yeah,” I shrug sheepishly. “They can be a bit overbearing, really,”
“No, they seem lovely,” he says quietly as James pushes him around towards the train car.
“Let’s get seats, mate.” James urges. “They’re going to start filling up and I’ll not be stuck next to Francis Mulstrode this year…”
“Good summer?” Remus asks me as we climb aboard, leaving our trunks and things with the train staff.
“Same old same old,” I answer with a shrug. “I’m thrilled to be headed back. How was your blokes’ summers?”
Sirius’ face goes blank in a guarded expression I have come to recognize, and he mirrors my shrug. “Same, really. I survived.”
“Well mine was splendid,” James adds quickly. “Can’t believe my nights will be spent studying for NEWTS and lessons soon enough,”
“Not if I can help it,” Sirius answers with a playful expression on his face. “I’ve already got a few things planned…”
“As do I Pads,” James says. “You have no idea. All that time at home has conjured some brilliance,”
“Well you better tread carefully, seeing as you’re Head Boy now,” Remus warns, but he’s half joking.
“Oh Moony, always the voice of reason!” James says, but then scoffs, “I’m not worried.”
“You Marauders never change, do you?” I sigh with a smirk.
“Not for the world,” Sirius smiles.
Just then, I hear my name being called, for what seems like the hundredth time today, from behind me.
“Aurora! Rora! Aurora Mockinglow!”
I turn to finally see Marigold and Emmeline hurrying from the other side of the train corridor, shuffling between students to reach us. I had almost forgotten about them in my excitement.
“Over here!” I wave to them with a smile. Marigold beams as she strides over and greets us, hopping up and down on the balls of her feet, causing her soft golden curls to bounce up and down. She gives me a hug. Emmeline, slender and raven-headed with a sharp no-nonsense fringe, reaches around and joins our embrace.
“James reckon they’ll start snogging if we egg them on?” I hear Peter murmur sarcastically to the side.
Remus, James and Sirius erupt into riotous laughter.
But Emmeline, in her cool deadpan tone, turns to him and says, “ Watch it Pettigrew, or do I have to remind you of that time I cursed you in third year?”
This shuts Peter up, though he clearly is stifling more giggles. “You know I’ve missed you girls, for some reason,”
“It has been too long,” Remus agrees.
“Only all summer!” Marigold gives him a pointed but amused glare.“You lazy gits couldn’t come up to London to meet us?”
“Well we told Rora and you lot to come round!” James defends himself. “I was always game for a visit.”
“Yes, which is nice and all except for the fact that you live in Godric’s Hollow in the middle of bloody nowhere,” Emmeline points out.
“And spent half the summer in on the beach!” I add.
“It’s the thought that counts,” James says, waving her off.
“Mind moving along?” a fourth year boy’s shrill voice comes from behind us. We must have been causing a roadblock of students in our excitement. The boy’s plump face is red and he is pulling along an overstuffed suitcase behind him. Several students are backed up behind him, clearly miffed.
“Look lad, I’m Head Boy, and I say when we move along, right?” James snaps as he rolls his eyes and turns back around.
“Don’t listen to him. He’s Head Git, more accurately,” Sirius says.
The boy furrows his brow, evidently unamused.
“Oi! Move it along!” another shout comes from somewhere in the back,
“Alright, alright! We’re moving!” says Remus hastily, with an apologetic shrug to the boy as we all begrudgingly clamor down the corridor and begin the search for empty seats.
“You’d think the young ones would respect the authority of a group of Seventh Years, but no, eh?” James mutters as we find a row that is miraculously unoccupied in the crowded mayhem and set up opposite each other.
“With an attitude like that, you’re bound to win hearts, Prongs,” Remus scolds but James shrugs it off.
We settle ourselves in our seats and I find I am wedged between Emmeline and Marigold, across from Sirius, Remus, James and Peter. With a steam-laden whistle, the train lurches to a start suddenly. My stomach feels funny, almost a nervous excitement.
James leans out the train window to wave goodbye to his parents on the platform. I catch a glimpse of my parents, who have evidently lingered behind to see the train off. I give them a farewell wave. Sirius sits, suddenly intent on reading a magazine he pulled from inside his robes. His long hair has fallen across his face.
“What’s that?” inquires Emmeline.
“Music Magic, issue 37,” Sirius says without looking up. “The Gargoyles announced some new gigs in London, there’s one when we’re on Christmas break. Reckon we can make it, James?”
“For The Gargoyles? Absolutely we can make it. I’d skive my own bloody coronation for those blokes,” James grabs the magazine ad, featuring a quintet of wizards in black leather and face makeup.
“Their new record is phenomenal,” I say. “Got a copy over summer,”
Sirius’s face turns to me, “Best bloody album of the year,”
“Nah, I reckon The Hangleton Three’s was better,” Peter says. And this causes the group to launch into an involved argument about wizard music.
“The real underdog here is Gillyweed-“
“Nah, mate, The Gargoyles’ lyrics are superior, plus it sounds bloody good when you play it in an empty stone cavern-“
“And where the bloody hell will I find an empty stone cavern to listen to a record in?”
“Well you’re just not adventurous enough-“
As the group continues to bicker (now arguing over whether Bloodthirsty Banshees had sold out), Sirius leans over to me and asks, “So you want to join us, then? For the Gargoyles gig?”
“This December? Yeah!” I enthusiastically reply. “If I can find my way to London, that is,”
“Come stay with James and I,” Sirius answers simply, “We can all Apparate over together. Problem solved.”
“Wait where are you and James staying in London over Christmas?” I inquire, confused. I had assumed James would be going back to Godric’s Hollow for the holidays like he did ever year, and Sirius to his family’s London townhouse.
Sirius’ looks furtively over to the rest of the group, who are still deep in the throws of their music argument, before nearly whispering to me.
“I’m getting my own flat. James’ parents are going to help me sort it out over Christmas,”
My eyes widen. Sirius moving out already? Before graduating?
“But what did your parents say-“ I say, but before I can continue, Marigold gives a loud shriek.
“Everyone look! It’s the new first years!”
We all cane our necks to see a gaggle of very nervous looking children being ushered down the corridor by a Fifth year Prefect.
“Ah, so young,” Remus says with a nostalgic glance.
“There so small, aww! Ickle firsties.” Emmeline adds.
“And so naïve and innocent, “ James muses.
“And corruptible…” Sirius adds with a devilish grin towards me. I look into his eyes, studying them. I think he senses my concern because he turns to Peter instead.
“Remember when that was us, Pete?” Sirius asks with a grin.
“I can’t believe it’s our last year,” Peter says.
“Me neither,” James says, his eyes faraway. “We have got to make this year one to remember.”
“We will, Prongsie, don’t you worry,” Sirius assures him with a haughty smile.
“So what NEWTS are you lots taking this year?” Remus asks me.
“Astronomy is my focus, but I’ll be taking Charms, Potions and Arithmancy alongside,” I explain. I wanted to work at the Magical Center for Celestial Observation in London after Hogwarts and study the stars and distant galaxies.
“I hope they don’t give me Ancient Runes again, this year,” James moans. Somehow, the last two years in a row, James had inexplicably been placed in Ancient Runes on his timetable, his most loathed subject, and had to suffer through a week before a fixed schedule could be processed and switched around for him.
“May as well choose it for your NEWT focus, mate,” Sirius goads.
“I will sooner jump arse-naked into the lake,” James says.
“Oh, but haven’t you already?” Marigold says, referring to an infamous Halloween game of dare last year. We all laugh heartily at the memory.
“I may never get the image of Prong’s freezing arse cheeks out from my brain,” says Sirius, fighting back bark-like giggles. “And frankly I don’t want to.
“Should’ve given you the nickname Moony, if you ask me,” Peter adds. I snort loudly at this and James rolls his eyes at us.
“You lot are just jealous,” James drawls.
“Yeah, yeah Prongs,” Remus mutters with a smile, as he takes out a fresh copy of The Daily Prophet from his back pocket.
“Anything in the news?” I ask, leaning over to read the headlines.
Remus is silent, his eyes downcast as examines the front page. Suddenly his expression falters and is replaced by dark concern. “Blimey, more deaths.”
My gaze follows his and I see a large headline reading, THREE FOUND DEAD IN SOUTHAMPTON. DARK WIZARDRY AT PLAY?
The group quiets. The last year had seen bizarre happenings and mysterious disappearances across the Wizarding community. Our summers, filled with holidays and lazing around our homes, had separated us from these new stories for the most part, it seemed. But there was the uneasy feeling that their seriousness was growing.
“What happened this time?” Emmeline asks quietly. Her dark eyes are full of concern.
“Three found killed this morning. Death Eater muggle attacks, allegedly…” Remus replies, but then quickly folds up the paper and stows it back in his pocket.
“Right,” James whispers, all signs of jest now erased from his face.
“I’m surprised my parents didn’t say anything, they must have read the post this morning,” I say, thinking back to breakfast. Mum had seemed distracted. Suddenly, her extra-long hug back at the station seemed to make sense.
We remain quiet. I gaze out of the window again, not really seeing the blurred trees and farmland whizzing past. When I look back Sirius is staring at me. We exchange a glance, silently surveying one another. There is a kind of sadness in his eyes. There is undoubtedly concern in mine. I am well aware who is family is. And what side they’re on.
Our mood lifts, however, when the sweets trolly reaches our compartment, and we are glad for a distraction. The jolly witch operating it hands us multicolored candies and snacks in exchange for our coins and we dig into the splendor. I for one am thrilled to satisfy my summer-long cravings for wizard chocolates. Living in a Muggle suburb at home had its cons, and the short supply of wizard candies was one of them.
We spend the rest of the train journey chatting and snacking, hardly noticing the slowly setting sun. Soon, the stars and moon have come out and a sharp knock on our compartment door snaps us back to reality.
We look up to see a auburn-haired form, already changed into her uniform topped with a shiny badge.
“Blimey, it’s Lily,” James hastily shifts in his seat to brush off the stray candy wrappers and stands to open the door of the compartment, mussing up his jetblack hair as he does.
“Evans?” James asks suavely. Lily gives us all a quick smile in greeting before turning to James.
“The Heads are needed at the front to assist with the unloading,”
Sirius cocks his head in confusion. “Heads? You mean you’re-“
“Head Girl, yes.” Lily interjects, raising her brow. “And James is Head Boy. So shall we?” She turns back expectantly to James.
The rest of us exchange raised eyebrows and smirks as James turns to us to give an apologetic expression before grabbing his things and following Lily out the door.
“Well that is going to be interesting,” Remus comments.
“Oh I can’t wait for them to kill each other,” Peter says with a laugh.
“Did James not tell you all?” Marigold asks. “Although, its hardly a surprise that Lily got the position, anyway.”
“Didn’t mention it to me at all,” Sirius says, looking a bit hurt. “The git barely wrote me all summer,”
“I guess Brighton was more fun than us,” Remus agreed.
“Wait James was in Brighton this summer, then?” Emmeline inquires. “I overheard Evans talking about vacationing there this summer, too,”
All of our heads snap towards Emmeline at this. “I may have been eavesdropping a bit over at the baggage hand-off, her and Marlene were there…” she smirks sheepishly.
“You don’t think they ran into each other, do you?” Peter asks.
Sirius looks greatly concerned at this. “If he ditched me to shag Evans all summer, I swear I will curse his ruddy are so fast-“
Remus gives a sharp laugh and interrupts him. “I highly doubt that, Pads, they probably didn’t even see each other. Brighton is a large area…let’s get changed, we’re nearly there,” This thought seems to comfort Sirius for the moment as we all take the cue to rise and begin gathering our robes.
Soon after, when we finally reach the Hogsmeade station, we gather our things and join the throngs of emerging students clambering from the train carriages into horseless carriages waiting at the edge of the forest.
The night air is alight with an energetic excitement as we make our way from the tiny village by the trees and up to the shimmering castle on the cliffside. I stare at the warmly lit windows and sloping turrets and sigh in relief.
When we make it to the entrance, we are quickly ushered through the imposing stone Entry Hall where Professor McGonagall is directing students along to the doors leading to the Great Hall for the feast.
“Ah, so good to be back home,” Sirius sighs as he looks up at the high ceiling above, draped with richly colored tapestries. I smile and reply, “It is, isn’t it?”
“Potter! James Potter!” we hear Professor McGonagall call when our huddle approaches the doors. We look over to see James and Lily awkwardly standing side by side, pointing the younger students in the right direction.
“Yes Professor?” James replies, looking back at her in confusion.
“As Head Boy, please stay behind and help me acclimate the new first years!” she orders sternly, gesturing for him to come up to join her. “And good heavens, they’re due any moment. Move along, Mockinglow, Black, Pine, and the rest of you! I need you all seated before the first years come in!”
We all reluctantly make our way to the Gryffindor table. I gaze up at the enchanted ceiling, which shows a clear and vibrant sky full of bright stars and the risen crescent moon. As we walk along the tables, I spot many familiar faces.
When we find our usual position at the table (in the middle, on the right hand bench) I sit between Emmeline and Marigold while Sirius, Peter and Remus sit ahead of us. The sturdy golden plates in front of us are bare. Peter’s stomach growls audibly.
“I hope the Sorting goes by quick, I’m starved,” Peter mumbles, glaring longingly at the empty trays at the middle of the table, beside the adorned centerpieces made of pine branches and candles in the colors of our House.
“It very well might, there are less First Years this term,” Remus says with a frown. We all look at him with confused glances.
“I overheard McGonagall telling James,” Remus explains, running a hand through his sand-colored hair. “But it makes sense. I doubt muggle parents would trust magic folk, what with the current…situation."
Most of the students have taken their seats now, and the staff have arrived as well. I spot Dumbledore, wearing a tall spangled hat that matched his shimmering golden robes.
“Ems, you never said how your holiday went?” Marigold asks. Emmeline just shrugs as she plays with a stray fork, poking it at the centerpiece.
“Paris is beautiful! But that’s nothing new,” she says casually, but her face has slowly turned a glowing red. Marigold raises an eyebrow and prods her further.
“Did you meet any fit Parisian wizards?” she asks eagerly, with an impish and highly suggestive grin. Emmeline seems to sink down in her seat a bit as her blush intensifies. “Maybe. I don’t know.”
Marigold practically shrieks as she laughs and exclaims, “I knew it! You are spilling once we get up to the dormitories!”
“What’s this? Who shagged who?” Sirius leans over, cupping his ear in jest.
Emmeline blushes furiously, and stabs the fork fully into the poor thistle’s branch. “I will murder you in your sleep, Goldilocks,”
But Marigold finds this hilarious, “Too bad! I will find out, one way or another!”
The talking in the Hall instantly quiets as a loud creaking sound comes from behind us. We all turn to direct our attention towards the doors, as they open to reveal two neat lines of very small, very scared looking first years.
McGonagall, James and Lily are behind them, ushering them along towards the front of the Hall to be Sorted.
Lily’s face has reddened since we left them, but James looks as suave and confident as ever.
Sirius leans over to whisper to me, just as Dumbledore, clothed in shining golden robes, rises to welcome the new students. “This is going to be a great year.”
Just before Dumbledore opens his mouth to address the Hall, the tall doors loudly open again, this time revealing an imposing looking group of black-robed witches and wizards.
There is a chorus of whispers as the group walks down the aisle towards the staff. We all share confused looks as Dumbledore nods to them and opens his arms in a welcoming gesture.
“Ah! Rodney! Blackburne!” Dumbledore’s voice booms through the room. “How grand of you to join us with your company. Please sit,” Dumbledore guides the group to a set of empty chairs at the end of the staff table that I hadn’t noticed before.
“Now,” the Headmaster begins, turning back to address our curious faces. “Students. Welcome! As you might have surmised, we will be joined this term by a these Ministry Aurors.”
There is another eruption of whispers in response. I crane my neck to glance at the staff, many of whom seem just as surprised as us. McGonagall is alone in her stern, unchanged expression, staring straight ahead and giving the Hall a collective warning look.
Dumbledore waits for our whispers to subside before continuing. “Given recent events, the Hogwarts staff have found it necessary to bring in this fine company to ensure the safety of our students, as that will always be our priority in turbulent times such as these,”
“I figured we’d have something like this happen,” Remus mutters to us. “It was only a matter of time,”
“But do not fret,” Dumbledore continues. “Though dark is the night, the sun is never far. Hogwarts is a safe haven, and I, nor any of our staff, will lapse in our efforts to keep it as such. You all will be in good hands and trust your school term full of as much wonderment, studiousness and frivolity as ever.”
“He’s right about that,” Sirius mutters to me.
Dumbledore’s voice turns into a singsong cadence as he raises his hands, “And the wheel turns ever on. So let us celebrate this new term and welcome our newest witches and wizards!”
Dumbledore is beaming as he returns to his chair and gestures for the Sorting to begin. But I am barely paying attention as the First Years trickle nervously up to the front, James and Lily guiding them to where McGonagall has placed the old tattered hat upon a small wooden stool.
“You reckon the Aurors are going to interfere with any classes? Why do we need them anyway? Hogwarts is impenetrable from apparition,” I hear Peter whisper to Remus to his side.
“We can’t be sure yet. But if Dumbledore brought them in, it must be for good reason,” Remus answers, worry etched across his face.
My chest tightens. Suddenly the warm feeling I had sustained all day at the thought of returning to school fades slightly. Things would be different this term. And I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
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