Chapter 13 : Back To Hogwarts
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Chapter Thirteen: Back To Hogwarts
Harry awoke the next day with a throbbing headache, the interview between Sirius and the Daily Prophet journalist still fresh in his mind.
“Of course, my godson, Harry Potter, is my top priority at the moment,” Mr Black commented, flashing a dazzling smile, “After that terrible encounter with He Who Must Not Be Named, who knows what state he’s in just now!”
Pfft! What does Sirius know about that? Harry thought bitterly, rubbing his forehead, trying to relieve the pain a little. He wasn’t even there!
“Harry, breakfast’s ready!”
“Coming!” Harry shouted back, wincing slightly at the loudness of his voice. After reading the interview, Harry had stormed off to his bedroom where he had opened his bottle of everlasting Firewhiskey from Liam.
“Harry has always had two best friends who have always been there for him; Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. In fact, they were by his side four years ago when I escaped Azkaban and told Harry who it was that really betrayed his parents!”
Some incredible friends they were, Harry told himself miserably, they completely ignored me when I was at Privet Drive!
The door opened all of a sudden and Regulus walked in, “Harry, I told you breakfast was out five minutes ago, what is keeping… Merlin, Harry, please tell me you didn’t.”
Regulus had spotted the Firewhiskey bottle. Harry shrugged carelessly, his emerald eyes dull and empty. Regulus sighed and took out his wand, muttering something under his breath. A small, blue bottle appeared on Harry’s desk next to his glasses.
“Drink it,” Regulus said. “It will help you.”
Feeling too poorly to answer back, Harry reached forwards, grabbed the bottle and took a swig. The taste reminded Harry a little of Pumpkin Juice. Taking another gulp of the sweet potion, Harry’s headache instantly vanished, along with the nauseous feeling in his stomach.
“What is this stuff?” Harry asked, momentarily forgetting about Sirius.
“It’s a hangover remedy,” Regulus explained, sitting down on the cushiony bed next to Harry. “I dare say you needed it, how much did you drink last night?”
Harry scratched the top of his head, trying to remember. “Erm, I can’t really remember… it was more than five bottles anyway.”
Regulus muttered something that sounded like, ‘damn everlasting Firewhiskey bottles’. He then looked at Harry face-to-face and asked, “How are you feeling… about the whole Sirius thing?”
“Yes, I shall be going back to work as an Auror,” Sirius smiled at the thought. “Catching all those dark wizards is truly brilliant. Not only are you ridding the world of one more Death Eater, but you could also be saving innocent lives at the same time – it’s an amazing feeling.”
“Sorry, what?” Harry asked, unaware of what Regulus had just said.
Regulus frowned slightly, “What were you thinking about?”
“Well, I was… - did you know that Sirius was an Auror?”
“Yes, I did,” Regulus smiled, “And a very good team they made – Sirius and your father. At least, that’s what I heard.”
Harry’s eyes widened, “My father was an Auror!? But, but… - do you know what my mother was?”
“An Unspeakable,” Regulus replied. “Lily Potter was a very talented woman, even at Hogwarts.”
“Do you know what they do?” Harry asked with a slightly hungry look in his eyes, “The Unspeakables? In the Department of Mysteries?”
Regulus laughed, “Harry, I work in the Department of Magical Games and Sports – there’s no way I know what goes on up in the Department of Mysteries, and even if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you. Nobody is supposed to know what goes on in there apart from the Unspeakables.”
“Oh,” Harry said, looking slightly crestfallen.
“Right, let’s go downstairs and get some food in you,” Regulus stated, rising from the bed, “Zaina has made you a special surprise breakfast.”
“Do you mean the one with bacon and eggs that she makes me every morning?” Harry asked amusedly.
“That would be the one, yes,” Regulus replied. “Now, come on, up! You’ve got training with John later on and if he saw you like this, well, let’s just say he’d be delighted to give you another two hours of work.”
As soon as Harry had passed through the barrier to Platform Nine and Three Quarters, he immediately wanted to swivel around and run as fast as he could out of King’s Cross Station. Harry’s eyes met with the gleaming, malicious eyes of several ravenous reporters, their quills and parchment in hand at the ready.
Great, this is just what I need, Harry thought sarcastically, raking a hand through his messy pitch-black hair in a quick, nervous manner.
Flashes of brilliant-white lights went off in front of Harry’s face, causing the teenager dizziness and irritation. Eager-eyed photographers continued to snap pictures of the famous seventeen-year-old, while reporters swarmed him with questions, unbeknownst to the anger and frustration positively pouring off of him.
“Witch Weekly is offering 300 Galleons, 11 Sickles and 4 Knuts if you give us an interview! Isn’t that extremely generous of us, Mr. Potter?”
“The Evening Wizard was hoping for a small interview with you, Mr. Potter, about what it was like surviving as He Who Must Not Be Named’s prisoner. We can schedule a meeting with you - just like that - all you need to do is say so!”
“Harry, is it true that you are the long-lost second cousin of the ex-Minister for Magic, Cornelius Oswald Fudge?”
“Mr. Potter, there are rumours that at the age of fourteen, you defended yourself against You-Know-Who with the Muggle appliance called a ‘hairdryer’. Is that a fact or a fable?”
Regulus’ strong arms wrapped around Harry’s shoulders, shielding him from the masses of onlookers, photographers and reporters.
“Enough!” Regulus boomed angrily. “Harry has had enough of you nosy people trying to pry around in his private life! If he wants an interview, he’ll ask for one! Now back off before I let my temper get the better of me and I start hexing all of you!”
People immediately started backing off, looking warily at the wand in Regulus’ hand.
“C’mon, let’s go and find your friends,” Regulus muttered, his dark eyes still on the shifty-looking reporters, giving Harry a small shove forward.
Nodding in agreement, Harry shuffled forward behind Eboni and Zaina, his hands curled up in the deep pockets of his grey sweatshirt.
They passed many familiar faces including a determined-looking Neville Longbottom, telling his formidable grandmother that he no longer needed her reminding him of all his faults.
“It’s not very nice what you’re doing, Gran, in fact, it’s horrible!”
“Neville Frank Longbottom! You should respect your elders, not scold them,” the elderly lady said sternly as Neville’s cheeks tinged pink. “Why can’t you be more like your father, or that Potter boy you’re always talking about?”
“Trust me, you do not want to be like me,” Harry muttered sincerely into Neville’s ear as he passed. Neville looked stunned for a moment before giving Harry a hesitant smile.
Clare Warrant waved at Harry, Eboni, Regulus and Zaina energetically, her honey-coloured hair bouncing up and down as she drew closer and her pale green eyes alight with warmth and excitement.
“Hey Harry! Grace and Liam are looking for you. I don’t think Katie’s arrived yet - had a good summer?”
“Well, it’s the most exciting I’ve had so far,” Harry replied. “How about you?”
“Mine was great, thanks!” Clare answered, excitement ringing through her voice. “I must admit that the Dursleys seemed a little lost without you.”
Harry snorted disbelievingly, “I very much doubt that.”
Suddenly, Harry felt a pair of smooth, warm hands brush the side of his face and cover his mischievous eyes, forcing him into a world of darkness.
“Guess who!” said a sickly sweet familiar voice, tickling his ear.
“Um, well… it’s not Katie, not Grace, Eboni or Zaina… oh, I give up! Please enlighten me!” replied Harry, knowing exactly who it was.
Harry twisted around to see a frustrated looking Katie, her crystal blue eyes boring into his emerald green ones.
“How could you not know who I was?” Katie asked accusingly, her eyes narrowing into slits. “I’m one of your best friends!”
“Ah, but if I did say it was you, you would be extremely annoyed that I knew straight away, without even guessing,” Harry said slyly, knowing how Katie worked.
The blonde-haired smiled at him appreciatively, “Good point. So, do you want to go and get a compartment before they’re all taken?”
“Sure,” Harry replied. “If you don’t mind, could you do that just now? I’ll just say my goodbyes to Regulus, Eboni and Zaina, and then we can find Grace and Liam.”
Katie nodded and gave Harry a quick hug before hopping onto the Hogwarts Express with her luggage and disappearing from sight. Swishing around to face his ‘family’, Harry was immediately pulled into a bone-crushing hug by a tear-streaked Eboni.
“You’ve become like the son I’ve never had over the past few weeks,” Eboni uttered, trying to control the stream of tears freely flowing down her face. “Promise you’ll write to us, Harry! Every week!”
“Of course I will,” Harry replied earnestly, “I know that if I don’t, you’ll probably send along a Howler.”
Eboni gave a watery laugh and let go of him, smoothing down her elegant, expensive clothes. Harry was then pulled into a one-armed ‘manly’ hug with Regulus.
“If there is any information about the You-Know-Whats, you’ll be the first to know, ‘kay?”
Harry nodded and grinned as Regulus ruffled his already-messy hair. He then turned towards Zaina, who was looking up at him with wide, sorrowful eyes.
Kneeling down, Harry cuddled Zaina, feeling a little dejected that he wouldn’t see her for another couple of months.
“Don’t go, Harry,” Zaina whispered in his ear, “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too, Zaina,” Harry whispered back. “I have to go to Hogwarts, though. I’ll be back for Christmas with a lovely present just for you, and maybe one for Mr. Teddy too. Is that okay?”
Zaina nodded fervently, clinging onto Harry even more tightly, as if she were afraid of what would happen if she let go.
“Zaina, darling, you’d better let go of Harry now,” Eboni said, gently prying the distressed little girl away from the older, teenage boy. “We don’t want him to miss his train now, do we?”
Regulus then cleared his throat and looked directly at Harry, “May I have a quick word with you, Harry? I seemed to have, err, forgotten to tell you something.”
Without waiting for an answer, Regulus pulled Harry into a secluded area of the station, a serious expression upon his face.
“Now, Harry, please do not get mad at what I’m going to tell you,” said Regulus, wringing his hands together nervously, “there are going to be a few changes at Hogwarts this year.”
“Well, that is to be expected under the circumstances,” Harry replied blankly.
“Yes, well, one of the changes is that there will be people guarding the castle. People such as Aurors and… certain members of the Order of the Phoenix…”
“For example, Alastor Moody, Auror Tonks, a couple of Weasleys, Dedalus Diggle, Auror Black, Auror Shacklebolt…”
“Hold up! Did you say Auror Black? As in Sirius Black, my back-from-the-dead godfather?” Harry asked, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.
“Yes, that’s the one,” Regulus cringed, avoiding contact with Harry’s eyes.
“Regulus, I’m not ready to face him yet… what am I supposed to say to a guy I thought was dead?” Harry asked with a hint of dread in his voice.
“I know, Harry, I should have told you earlier,” Regulus said softly, “I just wanted to warn you that he might be on the train, if not then he’ll most likely be at the feast tonight. He’ll want to know why you haven’t been in contact with him.”
“I’ll probably avoid him until I can give a proper answer - I’m not too sure about that myself,” Harry replied honestly. “I’m guessing it’s because I’m afraid he’ll disappear again; like last time.”
Regulus nodded in understanding, “If you ever need help with anything, just send along an owl, I’ll be happy to help.”
“Thanks, Regulus,” Harry replied, looking up in alarm as the Hogwarts Express gave a warning whistle, “I’d better get on the train before it leaves without me!”
Regulus grinned and pulled Harry into one last embrace. The red steam train started slowly moving forward, students hanging out the windows to say their final goodbyes. Quickly kissing Eboni and Zaina on the cheek, Harry hopped onto the moving platform where his possessions had been placed, waving to his surrogate family until they disappeared, out of sight.
Sighing inwardly, Harry picked up his belongings and politely pushed through the thinning crowds, looking for his friends.
Long, skinny arms flung themselves around Harry’s neck as the scent of violets overpowered him. Harry gazed into the obsessed eyes of the person clinging to him like a leech and gulped. Romilda Vane.
“Harry! I just heard that you broke up with Ginny Weasley before summer! Isn’t that great?” Romilda said breathlessly, her eyes sparkling brightly.
“Um, how?” asked Harry stupidly, shrugging himself from Romilda’s deathly grip.
“Well, I always knew you didn’t like Ginny Weasley,” the girl stated matter-of-factly. “And now you’re single again, you can ask me out, just like you always wanted to!”
“Uh, Romilda, I think you’ve got it wrong,” Harry replied horror-struck. “You see, I never really-”
Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood were rushing towards the pair, Trevor the toad clasped tightly in Neville’s sweaty hands.
“Neville! Luna!” Harry sighed in relief.
“Hiya, Harry,” Neville beamed, “Luna and I are searching for an empty compartment, want to help us?”
“Well, my friends are saving a compartment…”
“I thought Ron and Hermione were Prefects?” Luna asked curiously. “Don’t they have to go to the Prefect’s Meeting?”
“Probably, yes,” Harry replied, waving Romilda off quickly, “I’m talking about other friends.”
Both Neville and Luna looked perplexed.
“Okay, did you guys hear anything about me being… held prisoner over the summer?” Harry questioned cautiously.
Neville nodded vigorously, “It was all over the newspapers and magazines that You-Know-Who had you, I couldn’t believe it! I tried to contact Ron and Hermione to see if it was true, but they wouldn’t tell me…”
“It’s true,” Harry replied, rolling up his sleeve to show Neville and Luna the imprints of bands from the chains on his wrists. They gasped collectively.
“While I was in Voldemort’s prison, I made friends with three wonderful people, I already knew the fourth. Infact, she was kidnapped because of me,” Harry explained, moving further along the train, looking in the compartments as he passed. “Anyway, apart from Regulus, these people are coming to Hogwarts. They’re all our age, so hopefully they’ll settle in okay.”
At last, Harry came to a compartment in which he spotted an excited-looking Grace hugging Katie, whose face was rapidly turning a deep shade of pink. Grinning, Harry silently slid open the door.
“Where’s my hug?”
Grace loosened her grip on Katie to see who had spoken. Her eyes grew wide with delight on spotting Harry before jumping into his arms, shrieking happily.
“They aren’t Weasleys, are they?” Katie asked suspiciously, eyeing Neville and Luna, “‘Cos if they are, they’ll be out of here faster than they can say ‘Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans’.”
“No, they aren’t,” Harry replied once he was released from Grace’s vice-like grip. “Neville, Luna, this is Grace Warrant and Katie Allers. Grace, Katie, these are two good friends of mine: Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood.”
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” Katie said grinning, shaking each of their hands. Neville blushed lightly.
“Uh, so, where’s Liam?” Harry asked once they were all sitting down.
Katie looked at Grace strangely, “I was beginning to wonder about that myself, where is Liam?”
Grace shrugged incoherently, “The last I saw of him was when he told me he was going to get some sweets.”
“The Wrackspurts might have taken him,” said Luna dreamily, flapping her arms around. “They’re all over the place in here!”
“Err… sure,” replied Katie with a raised eyebrow. Harry and Neville caught each others eye before turning away quickly, fighting the urge to laugh.
“Do you guys mind if I go and have a look for Liam?” Harry asked, his voice a little more high-pitched than normal, holding in his laughter. “You know what he’s like, he might have gotten himself into some… trouble.”
“Sure, go ahead,” Grace said to Harry. “It’ll be fun to get to know Neville and… Luna a bit better.”
Smiling widely, Harry left the compartment and walked through several carriages, feeling the eyes of several students following him. Finally, in the very last carriage, Harry spotted Liam chatting to a bunch of girls, his hands filled with brightly-coloured sweets.
Harry leaned against the cream-coloured wall, smirking, “Oi, Liam! I thought you were supposed to be getting some sweets, not talking to poor innocent girls and… bloody hell! How many sweets have you got there?”
“Well there are Chocolate Frogs, Ice Mice, Liquorice Wands, Pumpkin Pasties, Fizzing Whizbees, Droobles Best Blowing Gum, Coco-”
“Okay, I get the idea,” Harry interrupted, taking some of the sweets off Liam and putting them in his pockets.
Liam laughed loudly before turning back to the love-struck girls, “Ladies, I’m afraid I have to l-”
“Are you Harry Potter?” a sixth year Hufflepuff with shockingly blonde hair and murky-green eyes asked dreamily.
“Why do people keep talking over me?” Liam questioned. “It’s getting really annoying. And how come you get all the girls, Harry? They were all over me a minute ago!”
“They’re not after me, they’re after my fame,” Harry muttered in Liam’s ear before turning back to the group of girls. “Like Liam said, we have to go now, I’m sure we’ll see you around Hogwarts… sometime.”
Moving quickly, Harry grabbed Liam’s arm and rushed past dozens of compartments, losing the infatuated girls along the way. Laughing they entered their compartment, flopping down on the old worn seats.
“May I ask what’s so funny?” Grace asked, politely accepting a Pepper Imp from Harry.
Liam grinned, “Let’s just say young Harry here found himself some, ah, womanly problems.”
The rest of the train ride was rather uneventful with Harry, Neville and Luna filling in the others about what life was like at Hogwarts. Before they knew it, the train had come to a halt at Hogsmede Station, students pushing their way onto the platform in a disorganised fashion.
“After you, m’lady,” Liam said snottily to Katie, bowing deeply.
Katie hopped onto the platform where the others were watching, amused, “Why, thank you, kind sir.”
The six young adults managed to get one of the last carriages to Hogwarts having to share with two small, scared second years.
By the time they had got to the castle, many students had already sat down in the Great Hall, waiting impatiently for the Sorting to begin. Grace, Katie and Liam were to be Sorted straight after the first years.
Harry hugged each of his nervous friends in the Entrance Hall where many tiny first years were eyeing them curiously.
“Now, remember – Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor are fine, but if any one of you gets in Slytherin, then I will personally break your neck!” Harry stated. Katie, Liam and Grace chuckled a little nervously. “Good luck!”
With that, Harry entered the Great Hall, where almost everyone in the entire school was currently seated. Almost automatically, Harry spotted the two youngest Weasleys and Hermione seated at the middle of the Gryffindor table, conversing deeply. With a slight scowl, Harry’s gaze drifted back and forth over the table, trying to find a space beside somebody he knew.
“Harry, over here!”
Harry twisted around to see Clare beckoning him over. Smiling widely, Harry dropped into the seat beside her.
“You never said you were in Gryffindor,” Harry mentioned.
“You never asked,” Clare commented.
“So… where’s Romilda, I thought you were supposed to be best friends with her?”
“I am,” Clare replied with a smirk. “She just decided to eat with the Gryffindor members of the Harry Potter Fan Club.”
Of course, where else would Romilda be? Harry asked himself sarcastically.
The entire hall fell silent as Professor Remus Lupin, new Depute Head and Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, lead the first years, Katie, Liam and Grace into the hall.
A/N: Geesh. This has got to be the longest chapter I've ever wrote - over 3,000 words - that's an accomplishment for me. So, there's been a lot of things going on in this chapter - Harry's first hangover (hee hee), James and Lily Potter's occupations were revealed, Harry goes back to Hogwarts and meets up with his friends, etc. I must admit that I am rather pleased with the way this chapter turned out. Tell me what you think! All you have to do is write a couple of word in that little box below....
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