Chapter 3 : First Look at Hogwarts' Fall 1991
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Disclaimer : Everything you recognise isn't mine. I also took the liberty of using en event of the first movie (getting late for transfiguration class) but I changed the way the story unfolds!
In the time it took for them to blink, Rose and Hugo Weasley along with their cousins Al and Lily Potter, had left their grandparent’s house and were now back at school. Well no, not really back at school, because this school, they had never been to before, since none of them had been alive when this particular common room stood. Although it did look remarkably like the usual Gryffindor common room, the feel was very different; the colours seemed brighter and everything glowed. There was a kind of aura around everything and everyone, except for the four teenagers who had just materialized there; they all looked quite dull next to the rest of the scene. Lingering in the atmosphere was a faint smell of candy, as it everything was made of sweets.
“That was strange; I barely felt anything, just a great rush of wind!” Al exclaims as he checks his body for signs of injury.
“Are we sure no one can see or hear us?” Lily asks, taking a step toward an unidentified student sitting near the fireplace, “Hey mate, what’s up?”
“Wow Lil, you really know how to engage conversation with a stranger,” Rose scoffs, rolling her eyes at her younger cousin. Lily was now performing a sort of dance in front of the student, shaking her chest very close to his face, but the boy showed no sign of awareness.
“Well lady and gentlemen, we are officially invisible to them,” Lily declares, walking back to the three other travellers.
“I guess we need to find dad,” Hugo suggests. Just as he finishes, a childish voice rises, as if a Sonorus charm had been cast on a young boy.
“September 10th,” the voice announces loudly.
“There,” Rose informs the others, pointing at a table in the corner of the common room where a redheaded boy could be seen. The four travellers make their way over to him; Hugo and Lily in a run.
“He is so cute!” Lily squeals. “You really do look a lot like him Hugh.”
“Are you saying I’m cute?” Hugo asks cheekily.
“Dear mum, dad and Gin, classes are boring but school is wicked!” the voice booms around them.
“Dad really overuses the adjective ‘wicked’”, Rose shakes her head, discouraged.
“So basically,” Al says, “it’s like he is some kind of narrator?”
“Sounds like it,” Hugo shrugs.
“Well this is disappointing,” Lily says dramatically.
“Something must be wrong,” Al frowns, “Teddy said it allowed him to see what his parents wrote, not his parents writing the events.”
“Wha-?” Rose begins but a blowing wind engulfs the four teenagers, forcing them to close their eyes. When they open them back up, they suddenly find themselves in a very familiar environment.
“Transfiguration classroom,” Al says with a shudder; the three other smirk at his reaction, knowing that Transfiguration is his least favourite subject.
“Strange, I can’t see dad,” Hugo says, looking closely at the youngsters. “Hey look, its mum!” he says, pointing at a very nervous looking Hermione. The small girl sits alone at her table, the first at the front of the class, looking expectantly at the teacher, her whole body so straight and tense that she looks like she might jump up at any moment.
“Right, I remember mum saying that Headmistress McGonagall was their transfiguration teacher,” Lily says, looking over at the tall woman. “Well, I can’t say the last twenty or so years were easy on her.”
“Lily!” Rose scowls, as Al and Hugo roar with laughter. “It’s more like thirty years from our time! Anyway I’ll have to disagree with you; she looks far stricter as a teacher than as a Headmistress.”
“Yeah you would know Rosie, you’ve seen more of her in your school time than the three of us put together,” Hugo adds mischievously. Luckily for him, his big sister’s retort drowns in the narrator’s voice.
“Harry and I finally found the Great Hall in one try Friday morning, and we can almost find all of our classrooms (we got told off by McGonagall, the transfiguration teacher, on the first morning for being late but we got better after that).”
The four travellers turn to look at the door just in time to see both of their fathers walking in the classroom, out of breath. Ron flashes Harry a content grin to which Harry responds with a small nervous smile.
“Well, our group is finally complete, thank you for joining us Messrs. Weasley and Potter,” professor McGonagall snaps, taking away from both boys the breath they were trying to get back.
“Definitely scarier,” Hugo whispers, looking at his father’s reaction.
“Sorry professor, we got lost,” Ron says as his ears begin to blush.
“You got lost did you?” the teacher asks, looking intensely at the two boy’s quick nods.
“How come you are the only ones who couldn’t find their way on time when all of your other classmates did?”
“Well,” Harry begins in a small voice, looking like he would much rather run away from the teacher than to answer her. “You see, we asked a ghost the direction but, well, I’m not sure, but I think he didn’t tell us the truth.”
“They are not stupid enough to have asked Peeves right?” Rose asks the three others who shrug.
“A ghost you say? Small, wearing an orange bow tie and a horrible top hat?” she stiffly asks the boys who both nod. Professor McGonagall, along with the four travellers, sighs and motions to the boys to take a seat. Harry and Ron almost run to the empty seats, trying to become invisible.
“You asked Peeves, not a ghost, but a poltergeist. I would expect a student with a wizarding background such as yourself, mister Weasley, would know the difference. Also, the many stories your five older brothers must have certainly told you about him should have given you a hint that you must never, under absolutely no circumstances, ask Peeves for help or advice. This also goes for the rest of you, children. Now Weasley, Potter, tell me, are you planning on ever being late again for one of my classes? Because if you do, you might as well leave school now, this will not be tolerated, understood?”
Ron and Harry both nod fervently and the travellers also notice some other students, including Hermione, nodding too. Even with Hermione’s strict glare, Harry and Ron share a look of relief when the rest of the students turn their attention back to Professor McGonagall.
“Well, that was a scary introduction,” Lily says in disbelief. She had never imagined Minerva McGonagall to be so cold. After all, all the Weasley and Potter children have grown up around her since she is a close friend of their parents.
“Agreed,” Rose smiles, “No matter how many times I’ve been sent to her office, I’ve never received such a telling off. The woman knows where she is going and you better go along with her otherwise, it’ll be a long seven years.”
“I don’t know,” Hugo argues, “Didn’t you notice the little smile she had on her face when she turned around? It’s all for show if you ask me. You know, scare the kids on their first day and you will keep them in line for the rest of the year.”
“All I noticed was Aunt Hermione’s bossy look at dad and Uncle Ron,” Lily says. Then, turning to her brother she adds, “Kind of reminded me of you a little.”
“I am not bossy.”
“Yeah you are,” the three others chant in answer.
Yet again, the wind comes and they find themselves outside, on a sunny afternoon; the smell of freshly mowed grass filling the air. The travellers watch Ron and Harry make their way from the castle to Hagrid’s hut, and decide to follow them a bit closer, in the hopes of catching a bit of what they are saying.
“You know,” Hugo says, as they walk toward the younger versions of their fathers. “I think it’s the scenery that gets swept away by the wind, not us. It doesn’t feel like we’re moving at all.”
“I think you’re right, and although this is extremely strange,” Rose says, “it’s probably the coolest thing I’ve done in my entire life. Teddy is a genius.”
“Yeah, he could make a fortune in commercializing this. People pay a lot of money to watch muggle movies and this is ten times better in my opinion,” Lily adds. She stops walking when they reach their destination and the four travellers set their walking speed to the one of their fathers.
“I also had tea with Hagrid and Harry on Friday (because they know each other so they invited me along) and Charlie was right, he’s really cool even if he looks a bit threatening.”
“Hagrid doesn’t look threatening!” Hugo shouts, offended.
“He does if you haven’t grown up around him. I mean, he is quite big and hairy,” Al says matter-of-factly. Hugo scowls at him before turning his attention back to the two boys walking in front of him.
“… And then, he turns to my uncle, points his pink umbrella – which holds the pieces of his wand by the way – and he growls, ‘No one insults Albus Dumbledore in front of me!’ Then he changes his target, points the umbrella at my cousin Dudley, and flicks it and bam! Dudley’s got a pig’s tail!” Harry laughs while Ron and the four travellers roar with laughter.
“I’m pretty sure he wanted to turn him into a full pig but Dudley looks too much like one as it is; there wasn’t much more Hagrid could do,” Harry adds. “So that’s how I met Hagrid and found out I was a wizard.”
“This is the most wicked story I have ever heard! And I live with Fred and George!” Ron manages to say, still laughing. “How did they remove the tail then?”
“Uncle Vernon took Dudley to the clinic, they probably had to cut it off I guess,” Harry shrugs, while the five others make faces of disgust.
“Cut it off? Why didn’t they just reverse the spell?” Ron wonders.
“Because they’re muggles,” Harry simply answers. Than an evil smile creeps up his face when he adds, “Imagine my uncle, so afraid of anything related to magic, having to go to a doctor and explain how is son got a pig tail!”
“Well, you see sir,” Ron says with a low voice, apparently trying to imitate Harry’s uncle, “my son here woke up one morning and he had grown a new external appendage. I will give you all the money you need in order to remove it and keep this quiet.”
“Probably went that way.”
“You know, I think I already like this Hagrid fellow,” Ron declares, smiling to his new friend as they reach the door to Hagrid’s house.
“Dad got the best introduction to the magical world ever!” Lily laughs. “I know he didn’t like his relatives very much, so that must have been a blast for him to see that!”
“For the record,” Rose says, “I would love to see anyone get a pig’s tail, no matter if I like them or not!” The door opens up after Harry knocks a few times, and a man, about three times larger and taller than the real Hagrid steps out of the hut.
“Whoa,” Ron and the four travellers whisper together.
“Ok, if this is the way dad sees Hagrid, I’ll agree that he is scary,” Hugo says.
“Does that mean that the stuff we witness is the way Uncle Ron perceives it? Or is it the way it really happened?” Lily asks.
“Unless Hagrid shrunk as he got older, it’s from dad’s imagination,” Rose answers as they follow their fathers inside the hut.
“But then, how do you explain the reactions from the other students in the class? Uncle Ron didn’t seem to be aware of it all and he certainly couldn’t have remembered everything that perfectly.”
“Still, Rose, look. Hagrid already looks smaller,” Al points out.
“Seems like the more he gets to know Hagrid, he finds him less and less threatening. I guess he’ll eventually see Hagrid the way he really is,” Lily observes.
“I think maybe you’re right,” Hugo says. “So it’s a mix between the two really; like the events are presented the way they happened but with dad’s perceived touch added. Probably shows the way he thought about the events as he wrote them.”
“It makes sense,” Al agrees, watching the scene taking place in front of him. Ron and Harry are questioning Hagrid about Snape and apparently, Harry doesn’t buy the answer Hagrid is giving him. Harry’s got a look of great suspicion plastered on his face. Just as Al is about to point it out to the others, a whiff of parchment and a great wind takes away the scene and the four travellers find themselves back in the Gryffindor common room where a group of small kids, apparently all the first years, sit around a big table. They are playing card games together, and laugh their heads off when the pack explodes in the face of a blond hair boy. The smell of soot mixes with the smell of candy, once more present in the room.
“The other Gryffindors first-years are ok but its Harry I get along with best. There are 3 other boys, only one is muggleborn (although Harry almost is). The muggles Harry lives with seem horrible. He told me he used to sleep in a cupboard until his school letter came, and that he only wears his cousin’s old clothes. I’ve seen his muggle clothes; they look like they would even be too big for Charlie! He couldn’t ever eat much and he was treated like a house-elf; says that Hogwarts is the best thing to ever happen to him since he doesn’t remember his parents.”
“What?” Lily asks bluntly. “Did you know that?”
“I had no idea,” Al whispers, not taking his eyes off the younger version of his father. “He was just a child, and an orphan child at that. Do you think he was horrible to them?”
“I can’t imagine Uncle Harry being horrible,” Rose says, putting an arm around Lily’s shoulder to comfort her shell-shocked cousin. “Look at him Lily, he doesn’t look like he holds one bit of violence or pettiness. He looks more vulnerable than anything else.”
“Do you thing we should ask him about it when we get back? I mean, he’s never said anything before, so maybe he just didn’t want us to know.”
“Or maybe he just wants to forget about that part of his life, you know? Enjoy what he has now and not dwell on his past,” Hugo offers.
The four travellers stay quiet, looking at the children in front of them. Ron towers over the rest of the group, but the look of pure joy on his face betrays his childish maturity. Next to him, Harry’s figure couldn’t be more different. Much shorter and thinner than Ron, Harry keeps his happiness under control. A small shy smile plays on his lips but the look in his eyes clearly shows that he doesn’t want to let himself go; as if he was scared that this would all be taken away from him if he enjoyed himself too much. Although in shape Harry looks younger than the rest of the kids around him, a greater maturity transpires from him.
The only other kid who seems to have experienced the same loss of innocence as Harry, is Hermione. Sitting by herself, not too far from the rest of her classmates, she reads a book and clearly looks like she has absolutely no interest in the game the others are playing.
“I don’t think your mum knew how to have fun back then,” Lily says after a short while, pointing at the girl.
“You mean she knows now?” Rose asks, bewildered.
“I’m serious, look,” Lily says as Hermione frowns at the others when they explode into laughter; even Ron, showing a gigantic grin under the fresh soot that covers his face.
“It’s like she doesn’t understand what can be fun about this.”
“Yeah, one day, she told me she had never had friends before going to Hogwarts; that she had almost always been around adults. She said it was very hard for her to actually learn how to behave around kids in order to make friends,” Hugo says quietly.
“She never told me that,” Rose frowns. Her brother looks down with a small smile, redness creeping up his neck.
“Well, you never needed to hear that just because it’s hard to make friends; it doesn’t mean you’ll never make any.” Rose nods, accepting the difference between herself and her younger brother and gives the younger boy a small hug, silently apologizing for her comment.
“As for the girls, well, they aren’t interesting at all; always giggling and stuff. The only one that doesn’t do that is a muggleborn named Hermione, and she’s worse than them! She’s so bossy and knows everything; she learned ALL of the school books BY HEART before starting school; more devoted than Percy that one! Actually, she does remind me of Percy, you know, if he wore a skirt and had bushy hair, that is!
I hope you are doing okay and Ginny doesn’t cry too much at night, so much that she misses me!! Love, Ron."
“He had a very positive opinion of Aunt Hermione!” Lily snorts.
“She learned all of her books by heart?” Al says in surprise before turning to his cousin with an evil grin, “Man Hugh, if even she wasn’t in Ravenclaw, what the heck did you do to get there?”
“Shut up Al, you know why I’m there. But that’s not the point. Can anyone else picture Uncle Percy in a skirt?”
“Very vividly I might say,” Lily and Rose giggle.
As the travellers laugh, they watch the Gryffindors keep on playing exploding snap and having a great time being children. Al and Lily both stay quiet, but their thoughts are disturbed. The way they perceive their father everyday is very far off from the boy that stands in front of them right now. Still, they both admit that it does answer questions they all have about him; although Harry Potter might be a respected auror, a remarkable father, and an altogether great and happy man, he does tend to brood and get this glum look in his eyes at times; mostly when he talks about his younger years.
As for Rose and Hugo, they easily recognize both of their parents but at this point, the children of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are at a complete loss regarding how these two ever became lovers. It is quite clear that, as children, the many dimensions of their respective personalities have not yet evolved and that their present characteristics do not mix well together. Hoping that they might find answers in the following letters, the teenagers breathe in the now recognizable smell of letter-travelling and the scene gets taken away once again.
Edited 27/01/10 : thanks to my Beta Melissa aka Padfoot28 for the helping hand in correcting this chapter!
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