Chapter 1 : Prologue
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“If you’re not in Gryffindor, we’ll disinherit you,” said Ron, “but no pressure.”
Lily and I had laughed when my Dad said this. The Potter/Weasley clan was standing at Platform 9 ¾ watching steam billow out of the scarlet Hogwarts Express. My older sister Rose and Albus Potter were both on their way to Hogwarts for the first time. Lily and I were not old enough, so we felt free to laugh casually at my father’s comment, but Rose looked terrified at the prospect of being sorted into a house besides Gryffindor. I was too young at the time to realize that there was some truth to what my father said. Of course the statement was extreme and meant to be sarcastic, but later I finally realized that he was really saying, “If you’re not in Gryffindor, I’m going to be disappointed.” And as it turned out, Rose was not the one who had anything to worry about. It was me.
My dad was really excited when I started school. I think he hoped that I would finally shake my shy, quiet behavior and blossom into a true Weasley. Unfortunately my whole Hogwarts career got off on the wrong foot. I distinctly remember walking into the Great Hall for the first time with Lily. I was the shortest of the group and had trouble seeing what we were walking to. Lily gave my hand an encouraging squeeze and told me that James and Rose were waving enthusiastically from the Gryffindor table. I just nodded quietly, feeling insanely ill as we reached the front of the room where the Sorting Hat was waiting for us. As the Sorting Hat sung its song, I concentrated on keeping the Pumpkin Pasties I had on the train down. The more I tried not to think about being sick in front of the entire school, the more nauseous I felt. I watched with a blank stare as the cluster of first years around me began to disappear. My attention was claimed for a few seconds when Lily’s name was called. She looked nervous, but she was nervous in a graceful and charming way. The Sorting Hat, as patched and frayed as ever, was placed upon her head, and I crossed my fingers for her in my pockets. The Hat considered things for a few moments but then, of course, bellowed,
“GRYFFINDOR!” There was an ear-splitting cheer from the Gryffindor Table as James, Rose, Fred, and the rest of the Potter/Weasley clan stood up, stamping their feet and yelling. Lily turned bright red, but it was obvious how pleased she was. She winked happily at me as she skipped her way towards acceptance. I, on the other hand, went back to feeling ill. Considering my last name starts with “W” it was no surprise that I was the last name to be called. I could feel everyone, and I mean everyone, watching me. I felt so nervous and embarrassed that I did not hear it when my named was called. Nor did I hear it the second time. By the third time Professor McGonagall, who was still Headmistress at that time, came over to me and spoke,
“Mr. Weasley, we haven’t all day.” I jumped in surprise as I came out of my terrified trance. On shaking limbs I stumbled to the stool and collapsed onto it. It felt like an eternity before Professor McGonagall came over and placed the Sorting Hat on my head. The hat dropped well over my eyes and was stopped only by my rather prominent ears. I was thankful to be staring at black fabric instead of the other students. The Hat started talking in my ear almost instantly.
“Yet another Weasley,” it croaked. I gulped, hoping this would be quick. “Yet as where to put you, I am not sure…there is certainly something…but is it the same?”
I really didn’t know what the Hat was going on about, so I just clutched the stool with my hands even harder. The Hat was silent for a full minute. My nervousness was starting to escalate to an overwhelming level. Finally the Hat murmured something terrifying in my ear,
“Where do you believe you belong?”
I let out an alarmed squeak and I could hear titters of laughter from the students already seated. I tried to think, I really tried. But my brain seemed to refuse the command. The Hat could have asked my what my name was and I probably couldn’t have given the right answer. I’ve often wondered if my life would be very different if I had managed to think straight for those few precious seconds. But I couldn’t and I didn’t. After I was quiet for about another thirty seconds, the Sorting Hat had had enough of me.
“Alrighty then,” it whispered to me before shouting, “HUFFLEPUFF!” The Hat came off and there was more silence than sound in the Great Hall. Some members of the Hufflepuff table were applauding politely, but my eyes were locked on the Gryffindor table. Lily was looking thunderstruck, Rose as if someone had just slapped her, and James was smirking as if he had known all along I didn’t belong. I got up from the stool but did not get far. Between the jangling nerves, the churning stomach, and my swimming head, my body decided to try and correct these issues. I, Hugo Weasley, after being the first Weasley to ever be sorted into Hufflepuff, promptly fainted in front of the entire school.
Mum and Dad offered me congratulations with a letter the next day, but I know Dad was disappointed. The following Christmas I overheard a conversation between him and Uncle Harry. I remember my dad saying,
“Even Percy’s kids are in Gryffindor.”
And that pretty accurately sums up my first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
My second year was another disaster for my dad’ s hopes and dreams. He got all excited again when he realized that I could try out for the Quidditch team that year. He flat-out insisted on buying me a new broom, which hardly came cheap.
“You’ll be a great Keeper, Hugh,” he insisted brightly. “You’ve got Weasley blood after all. Plus Hufflepuff’s team has always been rubbish, they’ll be lucky to have you.”
I tried to nicely remind Dad of the fact that the first time he put me on a broom I fell off and broke my wrist. Mum had been livid. Dad shrugged the comment off as though I had received only a sliver during my first flight.
I didn’t want to go to the tryouts. I never told my dad how poorly I had done in Flying class my first year. My broom never jumped into my hand no matter how much I tried coaxing it up. I spent the whole first class trying to make it work. Finally the instructor, Professor Sperka, bent down and handed it to me with an exasperated roll of her eyes.
The morning of the tryouts Dad sent me an insanely long letter about Keeper tactics and the play-by-play of when he won the Quidditch Cup for Gryffindor. This did not help for the letter was full of terms I didn’t know, and moves I wouldn’t attempt in my dreams.
But I went to the tryouts anyway, hoping for some kind of miracle. Some miracle caused by the Weasley blood that, supposedly, runs through my veins. I got to the pitch late because I kept turning back towards the castle when my nerves got the better of me. There were few people left to tryout and soon it was my turn. The Captain of the Hufflepuff team was a thickset boy named Gordon Smith.
“What position are you here to tryout for?” he barked at me, eyeing the new broom clutched in my unworthy hands. Once again, I couldn’t speak. Feebly I pointed at the three hoops at the end of the pitch, hoping Smith would get the message. Smith looked at the tall boy next to him, who looked rather like a vulture, and gestured as if to say, “Is this guy for real?”
“Keeper!” I managed to squeak suddenly, and Smith turned back to me smirking.
“Sorry,” he said, shrugging. “The keeper position has been filled. I still need another Chaser though.”
I tried. I tried really, really hard. But I couldn’t get settled on my broom and I dropped the Quaffle more times than I can count. Finally, probably in a effort to get me to leave, Smith, who plays Beater, hit a bludger at me. I had no flying skills, let alone dodging skills, so the bludger hit me square on the shoulder. Somehow I managed to get back to the ground, my eyes heating up with tears. Unfortunately the other Hufflepuffs who had been flying, including Smith, landed next to me. A sweet-natured girl named Tammy asked me if I was alright, but all that did was cause the tears to leave my eyes and roll down my cheeks.
“Are you crying?” Smith asked, looking horrified. I wiped at my eyes with the arm the bludger did not hit. It did not hurt nearly as much as my wrist did when it broke; the tears were of humiliation and the realization of another failure. Smith looked embarrassed to have a tiny second year crying during his tryouts so he told me to get off the pitch. I didn’t need telling twice.
The next day Dad wrote me a letter asking for all the details of my tryouts including how many goals I saved. I didn’t write back. Neither did he.
And that pretty accurately sums up my second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
In my third year I think I disappointed Mum more than Dad. Now that star athlete was clearly out of the question, I think Mum was hoping that I would be a star student. Unfortunately it seems Rose got both the athletic skill as well as Mum’s brains. Before she retired, Professor McGonagall seemed to have a similar hope for me. When she would ask a question in class, she would look at me as though she expected my hand to shoot in the air. However, her looks were all in vain because even when I know an answer I usually don’t raise my hand.
The only subject I ever excelled at was Potions and this ticked Dad off to no end. Potions was just easy for me; all the attention to detail. I loved spending time with the ingredients getting them all just right; it was satisfying and invigorating. However, in my third year even this success came to a screeching halt with the arrival of a new Potions master. In my first two years at Hogwarts the Potions master had been Professor Bell, a good natured and patient man who didn’t mind that I took so much time on my Potions. The first time I had class with him Professor Bell spent half the period going on about how brewing Potions took time and absolute precision. I was delighted. I’m not good at producing work quickly, but Professor Bell always gave me all the time I needed, and he let me come in early to class and prepare my ingredients then. My potions came out perfectly.
In my third year, Professor Bell retired and Professor Ramsey took over. Professor Bell had been old and deemed “un-cool” by most of the school. Professor Ramsey is young and most of the students liked him much better; they thought he had a much more exciting, fast-paced way of teaching.
On that first day the entire class was supposed to be working together to complete a complicated Forgetfulness Potion; each student was responsible for preparing one of the ingredients and adding them to the potion when told to. I suppose the exercise was supposed to generate teamwork between all the students, and teach us how each ingredient in a potion needed to be given our full attention. I was given the task of cutting up the valerian roots. There were four roots that I was supposed to cut and Professor Ramsey told me I should cut them up into identical pieces. Identical pieces.
I set to work cutting up the roots and by the time ingredients were starting to be added to the cauldron in the middle of the room, I was still cutting up the first root. The timing for the addition of ingredients apparently had to be spot on, and I was so intent on my work I had not realized it was my turn to add the roots.
“What’s all this?” Professor Ramsey asked, looking at the roots in front of me. “You haven’t cut up all the roots?” Professor Ramsey was used to getting along with his students, but his voice was harsh with surprise. “You haven’t even cut half of them.” I didn’t answer.
“What do you have to say for yourself?”
I mumbled an answer.
“Can’t hear you Mr. Weasley,” he snapped in response.
“They aren’t all the same size,” I repeated quietly. Professor Ramsey scooped the chopped roots into his hands and examined them.
“They’re fine,” he concluded after a few seconds. “In fact, they’re bloody perfect.”
“Actually,” I tried again. “There were two that weren’t exactly…” Professor Ramsey slammed the roots back down on my desk, frustrated.
“Well congratulations, Mr. Weasley,” he declared. “The potion without roots is worthless, and the roots needed to be added…” He checked his watch. “Right about now.” As Professor Ramsey went back to his desk I heard him mutter, “Can’t even cut up roots…pathetic.”
Professor Ramsey proceeded to give the entire class an essay to write about Forgetfulness Potions because we ultimately learned nothing in the lesson. The rest of the class was angry with me, and I felt whatever shreds of confidence I ever had in the class slipping away.
It wasn’t that bad…it really wasn’t. Dad sometimes tells stories about what Professor Snape did to him and Uncle Harry in Potions class, and just the stories are enough to make me feel lightheaded. Even so, from then on my confidence in Potions slipped and my one good grade became just as average as my others. The one bright spot I could claim faded away.
And that pretty accurately sums up my third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
My fourth year was less of a disappointment. I think both Mum and Dad sort of stopped expecting me to shine and just accepted the work I turned out. This originally felt more comforting, but I soon realized it was even worse to have your parents expect your mediocrity.
However, an event occurred in my fourth year that I will never forget. An event caused by some Magic Mistletoe.
As Christmas got closer and closer that year a new fad erupted in the halls of Hogwarts; Magic Mistletoe, the latest creation from Uncle George’s Weasley Wizard Wheezes. Tons of sixth year boys, James included, bought some and hung it, not only in the Common Rooms, but throughout the halls as well. When a boy and girl walk under Magic Mistletoe at the same time they both get stuck, and they cannot move until they kiss. Thankfully the product is smart enough to acknowledge sibling relations as well as extreme age differences. I did my best to avoid the Magic Mistletoe, I made a point to notice each and every piece of it. But I got caught in the line of fire anyway.
I was reading a library book as I walked down the hall and suddenly realized that I was stuck. I knew what had happened, and as I took my nose out of my book I saw a girl standing across from me. We had come around the corner at the same time and a skillfully placed Magic Mistletoe had come into effect.
And it wasn’t just any girl, it was Connie Bishop. Connie is a year older than I am and extremely pretty. I clutched the book to my chest, my heart hammering in my chest. I know most boys would be thrilled to be caught under the mistletoe with an older girl, but I suppose that means I’m not most boys.
“Oh darn,” Connie laughed, casually. “This is the fifth time today.” I tried to laugh along with her, but the laugh died in my throat. Connie looked at me expectantly; she was probably used to guys leaping at the chance to kiss her. I stood there, hoping that the charm would just break and that we could move on.
“You haven’t done this before, have you?” My heart lifted a little bit. She hadn’t said it like it was an accusation. She had said it as though she was charmed by the idea.
“I’m late for Care of Magical Creatures,” she went on, smiling brightly. “So if you don’t mind, I’m going to handle this.” I just nodded dumbly. Connie leaned in and her lips brushed against mine. It lasted all but three seconds, probably the shortest kiss in the history of the world. The charm broke and Connie started off down the hall.
“Very good for your first time!” she called back. She disappeared around the corner and I felt utterly shocked. I hadn’t done anything! I just stood there like an idiot. But I felt a smile creep along my face just the same. My heart felt lighter than it had in a long time.
As I walked down the hall I felt as thought maybe I could fly, but didn’t need a broom to do it.
And that pretty accurately sums up my fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
And now I’m doing it for a fifth time.
I really need to try and fit in more.
I suppose that means I need to try to be less like myself.
That’s ok, right?
Ok! There you have it! I would love to know what you think, so if you have time a review would be fabulous.