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The Circle by CJ_Black
Chapter 1 : Prologue
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 18


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A/N: Hello there, and welcome to my page! ^_^
If you’re reading this, I love you very very much, and I’m hoping you’ll enjoy this first chapter of my newest story. Thank you for clicking ^_^
I want to thank estrella, stargazer (aka Krys) and Wildmtn from the Forums for helping me with this chapter. They’re very awesome people, and they helped me make this chapter as non-boring as it could be – for a first chapter, that is. Know that I own nothing that looks familiar, it all belongs to JK. I own the OCs and the plot. I’m really hoping you’ll like this story, and if you do, please leave a small (or big, depending on how much time you have :P) review. I would really appreciate it. ^_^


PS: Note that rating and/or warnings might change as the story progresses. I rated it Mature just to be on the safe side.

Huggles,
CJ



The alarm bell rang, and I knew it was time to wake up for yet another day at Hogwarts. Reluctantly, I sat upright in my bed and sighed. I had no desire to leave the bed – I would’ve much rather went back to sleep. Against my wishes, I stood up, took a shower and got dressed. Breakfast was waiting for me, as was a long and tiring schedule. I glanced at the timetable and sighed once again as my eyes fell on the little box that said “Transfiguration”.

Fifth year was no different than any other year. I was still as invisible to the world as I always have been; still uncomfortable and friendless; still struggling to pass Transfiguration.  My existence at Hogwarts unfolded on the sidelines, and no matter how hard I tried, I never succeeded in being the person I’d always dreamt of being – someone different, special, remarkable. I hadn’t asked for unusual talent, for popularity or incredible wit. All I ever asked for was to be the best in something; anything.

My brother, James, had been far more fortunate than I was. He was the Quidditch star of the Gryffindor team, a remarkable student in Charms and Transfiguration, a popular name and a pleasant figure; a lot like grandpa, father used to say. He was the one that everyone liked, and whenever the name of Potter was discussed, he was always reminded; always him, and never me. The fact that I was his brother mattered to no one; occasionally, on a good day, I would be recognized at James Potter II’s brother. But most days were unlucky, and I wasn’t even seen by anyone, let alone recognized. They passed me by as if I was a useless decoration; me or the walls – it made no difference to them.

My life at Hogwarts was nothing like it was supposed to be. The tales of my parents and uncles contrasted strongly with what I knew school to be like. Adventure, friends, Quidditch…they were just impossible ideals to me. Of course, father always encouraged me, despite me being a failure and him being well aware of it. He was always a good parent, but I know how much he wishes I was a little more like him, and a little less like me.

It was even worse during classes, especially during Transfiguration classes. Every year, I’d spent my free time in the library, studying for a subject I was dreadful at; every year, I came closer and closer to failing it. I was an average student in everything else, but simply – to put it in McGonagall’s words – “horribly untalented in Transfiguration, unlike your brother and your father”. Transfiguration classes were my worst nightmare – except for the upcoming Transfiguration OWL, that is.

 “Potter.”

The moment I saw McGonagall’s exasperated expression, I knew I’d managed to get yet another bad grade in the subject. Not that there was anything new about that – I’d never taken anything above an A in her class, no matter how hard I studied for the subject. Reluctant, yet somewhat resigned, I walked to her desk to take my paper.

“Acceptable, Potter, and that’s only because I felt generous yesterday,” the woman said sternly. “Truthfully, you deserved a Poor on this paper. I trust you’re not planning on taking Transfiguration in sixth year.”

That was the ultimate blow, of course – way to be humiliated yet again. It was no use to tell the woman that I’d spent all evening and afternoon yesterday studying for the subject. For years, I’d told myself that maybe it was the fact that my brother, my father, and my grandfather before him had been talented in Transfiguration, and McGonagall just had the sick habit of constantly comparing me with them. But the truth was different – I sucked at this, and there was no point in telling myself otherwise.

“No, Professor.”

“Good. It’s not your fault, Potter, I know it isn’t,” she said absently. “Your grandfather was so talented at this subject – I remember he used to get an O for every assignment…”

And there she went, reminiscing about my family again. I hated it when she did that – though of course, she couldn’t be blamed. She was getting old, and the only reason why she didn’t retire was because the students were very fond of her. In all honesty, she was a remarkably bright and reasonable woman, and her reputation was widespread all over Hogwarts. I’d have probably liked her a lot, if it weren’t for the fact that I hated her subject, and her subject hated me back.

”….and even your mother, Ginevra, and your grandmother Lily….”

There was a problem,  that much was certain. Theory worked well, of course, considering the ridiculous amount I spent studying, but when it came to practice…well, I was a complete disaster. I did what everyone else did, except that for me, it just didn’t work. I couldn’t even properly turn matches into needles, let alone mice into teacups.

“…and your brother is planning on following a Transfiguration-oriented career after NEWTs, as I’m sure he already told you…”

He hadn’t, actually, but I heard him mention it to father. Isn’t it sad that McGonagall had been told what my brother wanted to do after school and I hadn’t?

“…but to tell you the truth, Potter, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone that untalented in Transfiguration in years. You must do something about it, boy.”

Like what? Get a brain transplant? Switch mine with a more talented one? What was I supposed to do? I stared at my paper, the red, circled A seemingly poking me in the eye. I was lucky to have gotten an A, even though the first line of the letter was rather straight than oblique – a clear sign that it was supposed to have been a P. I could envision McGonagall sitting at her desk, pen in her hand, her mind oscillating between a letter and the other. I could almost hear her thoughts. ‘Potter again,’ she undoubtedly thought, ‘why, this paper certainly deserves a P. But then again, the boy has no talent. He must’ve tried hard. I should give him an A.’

“Potter!”

I jumped slightly, earning a few chuckles from my classmates. I stared at McGonagall in confusion, the thin line that was supposed to be her mouth sending shivers down my spine.

“Yes, Professor?”

“What are you doing, boy? I said you could go back to your seat. Why are you still standing there?”

She looked exasperated, and I couldn’t have felt worse than I already did. Honestly, for a moment there, I actually contemplated suicide. Not that anyone would care, anyway. I headed for my desk, trying not to look at my classmates.

“Prescott.”

Anielle stood up and approached McGonagall with natural confidence. She knew her grade – that much was certain only by looking at her expression. The arrogance in her eyes, the carelessness of her walk…an unmistakable trademark of the world she belonged to; because Anielle Prescott was no ordinary student. She was a member of the Circle; the famous and prestigious Circle – an ordinary group of students, any outsider would say; but they were much, much more than that. 

“An O. Congratulations, Prescott,” McGonagall said casually.

It was the most natural thing in the world, and no one bothered to even think differently. Anielle Prescott could only score an O in everything; that was the way things were. No Circle member could score any lower – they were above the ordinary world. 

Their names were everywhere: on the Quidditch Prizes, in the whispers echoing across hallways, on the frames in the Trophy Room; the golden students of Hogwarts’s 2020 – Calvin Brown, Scorpius Malfoy, Charles Ackroyd, Irene Danvers, George Hurley, Dorian Stanford, Scott Hensley and  Anielle Prescott. There wasn’t a single person in the entire school who hadn’t heard of them, who hadn’t wondered…who hadn’t dreamt of being just like them, a small part of their fabulous world. It seemed as though life had given them everything.

They were the bright, charismatic leaders of the little world inside the Hogwarts walls. The aura of mystery surrounding them only made them more attractive in the end – it offered them the power to keep everyone guessing. You’re nobody until you’re talked about – and everyone talked about them. The rumors spread like wildfire, but they were never confirmed or denied. The truth was that, no matter how much the world liked to pretend things were different, their secrets were far too well kept.

They were inseparable, and seemingly impassive to the allusive guessing surrounding them. Their answers were always ambiguous, their smiles always only half genuine…their eyes held more secrets than the world could possibly imagine. It was entertaining for them to sometimes pretend they were ordinary students – they came to meals and did their homework just like everybody else. But in truth, they were far from ordinary. They always excelled in everything, and they were all too aware of just how brightly they shone and stood out from the crowd.

They were a group of extraordinarily gifted students, most of them Slytherins but there were some exceptions – like Anielle. They spent most of their time together, away from the world, keeping their secrets safe. Their grace and poise and dignified attitude were either natural or practiced very carefully. They seemed almost inhuman to the rest of the world, for they were perfect in every way. They made no mistakes – even the word was foreign to them.

They wore a simple band on their wrist, apparently a mere token of affective significance. But for someone who wasn’t completely ignorant, the silver band was nothing of that sort; it was the mark that set them apart from the crowd, a mark that commanded the world to bow before them in admiration. They walked the halls and everyone stood aside to make room for them. That was the way things were – they were the gods of our little world, the golden idols of a generation. They called themselves “The Circle”; impenetrable and closed to the prying eyes of the crowd.

So, while Anielle Prescott was partying with her friends the previous night, basking in the glory of being one of God’s favorites, I was in the Common Room, studying for Transfiguration. I got an A, she got an O – so much for justice in the world, I suppose.

The bell signaled the end of class and, as always, the students stood up and waited for Anielle to leave the class. She was always the first one to walk out, of course – no one would’ve dared to walk out before her, and leave her waiting at the door. Admiring glances followed her out, and I sighed. I wondered once again, much like I always did, what it must’ve felt like – to be a part of their world.

What was it like, to be universally loved? What was it like to have everyone know your name? What was it like to step out of anonymity, and for once just be someone to the world? I would never find out, of course. I hated to admit just how much I envied Anielle Prescott and her friends; how much I wished to be like Calvin Brown or Scorpius Malfoy for one day. Sometimes, I had the craziest dreams. I dreamt of being a part of the Circle, and walking on the corridors with them; having people look at me – actually look and talk about me. I longed to be a part of the world, I screamed for someone to notice my presence. I just wanted to exist – was it so much to ask?

My life was as boring as it could get. Everything was routine by now – get up, take a shower, have breakfast, go to classes, study in the library, go to lunch, do homework, go to dinner, read a book, go to sleep, only to wake up again and repeat my well-practiced schedule over and over and over again. Nothing was different, except for the weather. Seasons changed, the world grew up around me, yet I remained the same. I was a constant in a world of ever-changing variables.

I was the last to walk out of the Transfiguration classroom, and I made my way toward the library – to study some more for tomorrow’s Transfiguration class, when I would yet again get a P or, if I was lucky, an undeserved A from McGonagall. On the corridor, I saw Anielle joining her friends, and all the chatter among the students stopped. Of course, it had to be them – I would’ve known it even if I hadn’t seen them. It always happened when they passed by – the world fell silent and stared at them in awe.

A few members of the Circle were missing, which was in itself an unusual thing, because they always traveled in a tight group. Their gaze betrayed nothing, of course, not even in the darkest of times. One could never tell if something horrible had happened, or things were going great. Not that anything horrible could ever happen to them – they were God’s favorites after all.

I shrugged as they passed by me and left the corridor by turning right. Immediately, the murmur started all over again – excited whispers and laughter; and once again, everyone was talking about them. What I hadn’t expected that day was a second encounter, this time with someone a little less popular, but just as intimidating, or perhaps even more.

“Sienna!”

I mechanically turned around as I heard the name that was so familiar to me; the name that haunted my dreams and my thoughts. Behind me, a tall girl, perhaps a bit too excited, was hopefully staring at the person she’d just called, and I realized immediately that she was about to ask for a favor. Apparently, so did Sienna, because she cast an indulgent smile in the girl’s direction and approached her.

I stared at Sienna Brown as she walked – gracious and poised, like a princess in her castle, allowing my eyes to bask for a moment in the golden sunlight of her presence. Few girls actually knew how to move, but Sienna had mastered it a long time ago. I couldn’t tear my gaze away from her eyes. Her eyes were the color of the sky, wide and deep and wonderfully shaped. She had the perfect eyes to match the perfect smile.

I think I’ve fallen for Sienna sometime during my second year. I saw her sitting at the edge of the lake, and she immediately caught my full attention. She had barely turned 13 at that time, but when I saw her leaning on a willow tree with a book in her hand, I couldn’t care less about her age or mine. She was the girl I’d waited for my entire life.

Small and fragile, her frame contrasted with the deep azure of the lake and the sky. A golden mane of curls fell down her shoulders and into her eyes, and I watched with fascination as she brushed the strands away from her face. She was petite and delicate, and from that moment on I knew that I could spend an entire life just watching her long fingers turn the pages of that old, worn book.

Sienna wasn’t the kind of girl destined to end up with guys like me, and I was well aware of that. She deserved stares and spotlights, and all I could offer her was a dark corner, and I wasn’t completely sure about that either. I was invisible to the world she was a part of; and I was invisible to her. Despite the fact that I stood like an idiot in the middle of the corridor, staring at her, she didn’t throw a single glance in my direction. She looked at the tall girl, the condescending smile concealing the irritation I knew she felt.

“Hello…”

“Jenny. Jenny Travis.”

“Jenny. Can I…help you?”

“Actually, yes,” the girl said with poorly hidden excitement.

She looked about as dumb as a tomato, and I could already foretell the end of the conversation that, according to my estimations, would be very short. I knew Sienna better than I’d known anyone else in my life. The long hours I’d spent in the Common Room, staring at her and listening to her meaningless conversations with the other girls, had taught me a great deal about the girl standing in front of me. 

The tomato girl was doing a terrible job, I concluded. After a long series of compliments, she finally touched the subject she was really interested in discussing. I’d seen the scene perhaps too many times, and I wondered how Sienna could stand it. Then I reminded myself, of course, that she was lucky to have people to talk to in the first place. I would’ve gladly spent hours talking to the tomato girl, as opposed to no one at all, and I felt ashamed about it.

The conversation ended quickly, as I’d predicted. Tomato girl asked Sienna if she could perhaps meet her brother, whom she’d “heard so many wonderful things about”. Sienna smiled absently, mentally rolling her eyes, no doubt, and promised the girl she’d see what she could do. Then she turned around and continued walking towards the Charms classroom, as if she’d never been interrupted in the first place.

Of course Sienna wouldn’t talk to her brother about tomato girl. Not only would she most likely forget all about her existence in the following ten minutes, but it was public knowledge by now that Sienna and Calvin didn’t talk at all – let alone about girls. I laughed to myself at the stupidity of that girl. What was she even thinking?

I savored my ten minutes of joy as I walked behind Sienna, watching her blond hair wave as she walked. I felt slightly regretful about the fact that she’d cut it short, but she looked spectacular no matter the hairstyle. Heck, she could’ve dressed herself in a sack of potatoes, and she would’ve still been as gorgeous as ever.

And as I contemplated her beauty, the incredible happened.

A small, circular box fell from the pocket of her bag, and rolled on the floor right to my feet. She hadn’t even noticed, and I bent to pick it up. For the first time in my life, I felt ecstatic at the thought that I had a reason to talk to Sienna Brown.

“Excuse me!” I called after her in a somewhat strangled voice.

An innocent stare made me freeze on the spot, and I felt my knees go weak. I wished I hadn’t called her name in the first place. I struggled to talk, but the words refused to leave my mouth. Helplessly, I lifted my hand holding the small box.

“Oh, that’s mine. Thank you so much,” she said and smiled.

Merlin, that smile…I swear I could spend hours just watching her smile, without ever tiring. She laughed, and I realized with horror that the box was still in my hand and, instead of handing it to her, I was staring like an imbecile. Immediately, almost brutally, I shoved the little thing in her hand, mumbling something I hope sounded like “you’re welcome”. She laughed again and walked away. My entire face caught fire and, for the second time that day, I contemplated suicide.
 

A/N: So, that’s the prologue. I know it was a bit boring (okay, more than a bit), but it was absolutely necessary and there was no other way I could’ve done this. I needed to make this short introduction of the characters, and the way Albus views them (I assume you’ve already realized the character is Albus Severus Potter). Some of the following chapters will be written in first AND third person, and therefore a more objective light will be cast upon everything.
All the characters in this chapter are presented through Albus’s eyes, so their characterizations might or might not match their real personalities. I needed this introductory chapter to present the world as he sees it, before moving on to the proper action. This chapter is crucial to the plot, exactly the way it’s written. However, I promise the following chapters will be a little more interesting. Thank you for reading, and any review will be greatly appreciated! ^_^


Hugs,
CJ


NEXT CHAPTER:

“Take your hands off him. Now,” a calm voice behind me said.

Immediately, I felt the pressure come off my shoulders as I was released from the grasp of the older student.

“Are you okay?” the same neutral voice asked.

I turned around, and almost fell on my back out of shock and humiliation. Being bullied was one thing, but having him, of all people, be there when that happened was an entirely different one. Unaware of my actions, I stared at the boy in front of me. People didn’t usually talk to me, and when they did, it was to ask for my notes, or make a nasty remark about my hair. And yet he asked me if I was okay; Calvin Brown, of all people – nothing more and nothing less that the leader of the prestigious Circle.

“Err…yes. Of course. Thank you.”

“Potter, is that it?”

Calvin Brown actually knew my name – that in itself was so utterly incredible that for a moment, I thought I was hallucinating.




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