Chapter 4 : It's Only Getting Better
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Days are different then they were before
And we both exchange
It's only getting better
~Only Getting Better, Jared Campbell
Eleven-year-old John Malcolm Brickston was running around in a large circle as fast as he possibly could. He, along with two other boys, was spinning the merry-go-round in the park across the street from his house as fast as he could. A fourth boy was on the merry-go-round shrieking in delight.
It was a daily thing for John, playing with the other boys in his neighborhood at the park. They particularly liked spinning each other until they felt sick on the merry-go-round. Other activities included trying to push each other off the monkey bars and jumping off of the swings. They often spent all day doing this, until one of their mothers called them inside.
John had fun playing with the other boys from his neighborhood even though he was quite different from them. John was a wizard and all of his neighborhood friends were Muggles. John's family was the only wizarding family living in a neighborhood of Muggles. He didn't mind, of course. He was actually glad he lived in a neighborhood full of people to play with, rather than in the middle of nowhere like so many other wizards did. Most of his cousins didn't have any close neighbors.
Without the neighborhood boys around, the only people John would have had to play with were his sisters. John had three of them and while he loved them, they got on his nerves. They were all younger than him and drove him mental on a daily basis.
Despite having so many Muggle friends, John could not wait to get to Hogwarts where he could meet other wizards his age. He knew a couple witches and wizards his age whose parents worked with his dad, but he didn't see them too often. Then there were his cousins, but they were all younger than him.
John had been trying not to think about his Hogwarts letter, which he knew would be arriving soon. Thinking about it just made the time go by slower. So, he tried to get his mind off of it by goofing off at the playground.
"Enough, enough!" the boy on the merry-go-round shouted.
John and the other two boys stepped back and watched it slow down. Once it had almost stopped, the boy jumped off and stumbled around, falling on the ground. John and the others crowded around him.
"My turn!" John shouted as the dizzy boy sat up.
"Johnny!" someone shouted from the entrance to the park.
John turned his head towards the voice and groaned. It was his mother. The previous day she had made him watch over his little sisters when they played at the park and he really didn't want to do that again. But his sisters weren't with his mum, so maybe she wanted something else.
"What?" John shouted.
"You need to come home now!" she shouted back.
John groaned again and reluctantly said goodbye to his friends. He hated it when his mum called him home without explaining why.
"Why do I have to go home now?" John asked as he reached his mum, "It's not dinner time."
"Your letter arrived," she said and began to walk across the street.
That was probably the only thing she could have said to make John no longer mind leaving his friends. He grinned and ran to catch up with his mum. Now it was official, he was going to Hogwarts!
John's house was in its usual state of chaos when he entered it. Not two seconds after they stepped in the door, his second youngest sister, Gemma, ran up them screaming about how Amelia had taken her toy. Gemma was six and Amelia, his youngest sister, was five.
At any given moment there were probably five or six little kids at John's house. He had a lot of cousins who were all younger than him. His mother was a stay at home mum, but a few of his aunts worked outside the home. They often dropped their kids off at John's house while they were at work. Or when they had to go shopping. It was just another reason why John enjoyed spending his free time outside, away from the little kids.
That day, all his little sisters were home, of course. Plus, his cousins Isabelle, who was ten, and Isabelle's three-year-old sister, Alyssa.
"Your Aunt Pam is grocery shopping," his mother, Jan, replied as she picked up Gemma.
John nodded and stepped over a pile of Wendy Witch dolls that Ashtyn, his nine-year-old sister must have left in the doorway.
"Ashtyn, pick up your toys!" Jan shouted as she carried Gemma back into the den.
Ashtyn and Isabelle came running through the house, scooped up the dolls, and ran back to wherever they came from.
"Where's my letter?" John asked as Jan set Gemma back down on the floor.
"It's here somewhere," Jan said as she rifled through a stack of mail, "I just had it a second ago. Hang on."
John sighed as he leaned against the wall. He couldn't wait to get to Hogwarts. Then he wouldn't have to deal with all his little sisters and cousins anymore. He would be in a place where he was one of the youngest people. That rarely happened. John had always been the oldest, the one who was expected to be mature.
"Mum!" Ashtyn shrieked from upstairs, "I think John put a dung bomb in the toilet again!"
John grinned. He may be expected to be mature, but he wasn't. Pulling pranks was one of his favorite things to do and the dung bomb in the toilet never got old, especially when Ashtyn was on the receiving end of it.
Jan sent him a withering look. "I cringe to think about the amount of owls I'll be getting from Professor Kendrick about the mischief you get into next year," she sighed, "Ashtyn, just flush it like usual!"
"Mum, she won't give it back!" Gemma whined.
Jan groaned and walked over to the two girls, who were still fighting over a stuffed dragon. Jan wrenched it from Amelia's hands and stuck it up on a high shelf. She continued searching for John's letter while Gemma and Amelia complained.
"I think I found it," John said as he bent down.
Three-year-old Alyssa was holding a torn envelope in her hands and giggling playfully. John grabbed it from her and she burst out crying. Jan picked her up as John took off for his bedroom, the only toddler free place in the entire house.
The letter wasn't completely destroyed, much to John's relief. He had caught Alyssa before she was able to do a lot of damage. The envelope was completely illegible, but the letter inside was spared from tears and baby slobber.
John tossed aside the damp envelope and unfolded the letter. He grinned widely as he read it, even though he already knew the gist of what it said.
He was in! John laid down on his bed and stared up at his ceiling. Of course he was in. There was never any doubt. Everyone in his entire family had gone to Hogwarts for as far back as anyone could remember. As far as he knew, his family didn't have any Squibs.
John had been looking forward to Hogwarts for a very long time. His parents had all sorts of stories to tell of the place. Although, their education had been interrupted due to the final battle and Voldemort's defeat. They had only been first years at the time and Hogwarts had closed for a year in order for it to be rebuilt. But after that, his parents had had a somewhat normal education.
There were all sorts of things that John was looking forward to. The Sorting (although his parents refused to tell him how it was done), the feasts, exploding potions, Peeves, Quidditch, Hogsmeade trips when he got older, the Gryffindor common room. John was sure he'd get into Gryffindor even though his mum had been a Hufflepuff. His dad was a Gryffindor and everyone said he took after his dad.
John's dad, Jeff Brickston, had been the Hogwarts prankster when he was in school. John couldn't wait to pull some pranks of his own. His dad had promised to get him well supplied with stuff from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, although his mum wasn't too happy about it.
John remained in his room for the rest of the afternoon. A glance out the window told him that his Muggle friends had left the park. It would have been boring for him to go back. Instead, he stayed in his room and pulled out his old but trusty Nimbus Two Thousand and One.
The broom had been his dad's when he was at Hogwarts. John grabbed a bottle of polish and began to rub it into the worn wood. Jeff had given it to John when he was only five and John had been flying on it ever since.
If John had to pick the one thing he was most looking forward to at Hogwarts, it would be Quidditch. John had been flying for as long as he could remember and he had hopes of making it onto the Gryffindor Quidditch team. If he was sorted into Gryffindor, that is. He just hoped that there was a beater position open at the right time. He doubted he'd get chosen as a beater in his second year due to the fact that beaters were generally quite a lot bigger than the rest of the players. But if a beater position opened when he was in fourth or fifth year, he just might make it.
Isabelle and Alyssa had left by the time John left his room. He wandered into the kitchen and found his mum preparing dinner. Ashtyn, Gemma, and Amelia were 'helping'.
"Can we go to Diagon Alley tomorrow?" John asked as he grabbed a carrot out of a bowl.
"I don't know," Jan replied, "Your Aunt Jodie is working tomorrow and I have to watch Stephanie as well as the twins. I don't particularly want to drag three extra kids to Diagon Alley especially when two are babies. It may have to wait until the weekend. And please don't eat the carrots."
John sighed and sat down at the table. He didn't want to wait until the weekend. He wished his mum didn't watch all of his little cousins all the time.
"I'm home!" someone shouted from the den.
John jumped up from his chair and ran into the den. He saw his dad brushing ash off of his bright green healer robes. John grinned as he saw his great-great grandpa standing just behind his dad.
"Gramps!" John shouted, "What are you doing here?"
"Went to Mungo's," he replied, "Had to get this dang hip checked out. Then Jeffrey here invited me to dinner."
John's great-great grandpa, Zander Brickston, was over one hundred years old but was usually healthy as a hippogriff. He was a bit senile and forgetful at times, but it never bothered him. He was often the life of the party, too, despite his age. John loved him.
"I got my Hogwarts letter!" John said excitedly as he pulled the letter out of his pocket.
"Congratulations," Jeff grinned and gave John a one-armed hug as he set his bag down.
"Well done, Johnny-Boy!" Zander gave him a surprisingly strong clap on the back, "Great place, Hogwarts. Best years of my life, except for the times I found myself in Professor Dippet's office. You'd best stay out of there."
"Professor Dippet's been dead for years, Gramps," John laughed.
"Then you stay out of trouble with whoever's the headmaster now," Zander said and lumbered off into the kitchen, "Where's my girls?"
Dinner was lively that evening, as it always was when Zander was there. He dominated the conversation with stories of his own years at Hogwarts. John was sort of surprised he remembered them so well. He told of the time he and his friends went for a swim in the Black Lake at midnight during the full moon in January. The nurse had not been pleased when they showed up at the hospital wing with slight cases of hypothermia. She scolded them and told them if they were stupid enough to swim in the lake during January, they could at least use cold-repellent charms on themselves.
"Where would the fun be in that?" Zander laughed as he finished the story.
Other stories included the many pranks he pulled on the Slytherins. 'Pranking's a Brickston tradition,' he told John solemnly. The times he snuck out of the castle and into Hogsmeade. The time he fell asleep during his History of Magic O.W.L. ("What do they expect, when Binns makes you fall asleep during class?") Sneaking about the castle at night with whatever girlfriend he had at the time. Jan had to shut him up at that point and she and Jeff began to relay their own Hogwarts stories.
John was, if it was possible, even more excited about Hogwarts after hearing all of the stories. He wanted to swim in the Black Lake in the middle of winter. He wanted to sneak out of school to go to Hogsmeade. He wanted to paint half his face red and the other half gold for the Gryffindor-Slytherin Quidditch match.
John didn't know how he was going to be able to wait two days until Saturday to go to Diagon Alley, let alone wait the month and a half until he'd be able to actually go to Hogwarts. It seemed so far away. He had been waiting years to go to Hogwarts, but he had a feeling the last month and a half would drag by even slower than those years had.
A/N: Thanks to XDNLxtlz99, Moonylupin, and Luke for their reviews!
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