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Chapter 2 : September 1st
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Ministry of Magic passes new legislation regulating the thickness of cauldron bottoms.
I scoffed at The Daily Prophet, laying the newspaper down as I spooned scrambled eggs into my mouth. This was the fourth headline in a row that had been completely worthless, and the one before that was a complete lie. I knew that the Prophet was going downhill, but I couldn’t remember it ever being this bad. Or maybe I was just more critical now. Either way, the morning newspaper had been nothing but disappointment and I was tired of it.
“What is it now, Lily?” Albus Potter asked as he walked into the room. His hair stuck up in the back, but he was already dressed in Muggle clothing to wear to King’s Cross station. He seemed thoroughly unperturbed by the irritation in my eyes as he was used to my tirades about the latest mistake the Ministry of Magic had made over the breakfast table. He should be, by now. I hadn’t shut up about the Ministry all summer.
“Nothing. That’s the problem,” I replied, smacking the paper with my hand. “The Ministry of Magic does absolutely nothing, at least not that the Prophet writes about. Today’s headline is all about the thickness of cauldron bottoms, if you can believe it. As if anyone cares.”
The last useful thing the Ministry had done had been nearly a month ago, when they approved a resolution that had been pending for several years. I had heard too much about that from my own parents, however, as they had been active in the case. They had wanted to build a memorial for the Battle of Hogwarts, but for reasons unknown to most of the Wizard community, the idea had been rejected ever since the end of the war. Since this had finally been passed, however, the Ministry had retreated into its comfortable position of simply watching the Wizard world and making huge deals out of trivial nonsense like biting doorknobs.
I looked up to see my mother pulling her hair back into a ponytail while walking into the room.
“Percy had to do a report on cauldron bottoms once,” Ginny Potter said absently. “Got worked up about it, too.”
I rolled my eyes. "Fine, Uncle Percy cares about cauldron bottoms, but he also cares about Aunt Audrey, so that isn't saying much. As for the general public, well, I won’t be the only one disappointed by the headline. I mean, even Professor Incastra wouldn’t care about cauldron bottoms, and she cares about close to everything relating to Potions.”
Mum gave me a small smile. “As much as I’d love to hear about what the Prophet, or the Ministry, is doing wrong, we only have thirty minutes before we need to leave for King’s Cross and you still have to get dressed, so hurry up.”
I let out a small shriek, gulping down the rest of my juice and sprinting upstairs. It was now Mum’s turn to roll her eyes as she gazed fondly after her only daughter. By now, she was used to my last minute packing ten minutes before we had to leave for the station. I had left everything you could leave at home before, including my trunk in my third year. Dad had paced in the living room for fifteen minutes trying to figure out how I could have possibly forgotten my trunk, but he had still personally visited Hogwarts and given it to me right in the middle of the feast.
I think I would have rather gone without the trunk than been kissed by my father in front of the entire student body of Hogwarts. Some stupid kid with a camera had even taken a picture, if you can believe it. It was hands down the most mortifying experience of my life.
Then, however, I was frantically dressing and tossing items into my trunk at random. Determined not to leave anything behind this year, I nearly put my pillow into the trunk before realizing that Hogwarts had provided me with bed linens for the past four years and that was unlikely to change now. Pulling on a pair of socks and running a brush through my hair, I slid a notebook and quill into my coat pocket and slammed the trunk shut.
“I’m ready!” I called, sliding my feet into my shoes and running out the door and straight into my father.
“Sorry,” I mumbled, looking up to see that he was smiling.
“Classic Lily,” he said, chuckling. “You’re never as hysterical as you are September First. Is your trunk ready to go? Everything in it?”
I nodded. “Thanks!” I said, knowing he would bring it down for me, before hurrying downstairs to find Albus still calmly eating his breakfast.
“What, don’t you have to pack?” I asked him, narrowing my eyes.
“I finished last night,” he answered after swallowing. “I don’t even think James ever waited as long as you did.”
“Speaking of James,” I said slowly. “Is he not coming with us? I don’t know how he can be asleep through all this noise.”
“Nah, I think James is staying here this year. It’s the first year he doesn’t have to come. And you should know your own brother by now, Lils, James can sleep through anything.”
I sighed. “He can’t even come see his own brother off on his last year at Hogwarts.”
“We all know that James loves you more,” Albus replied. “Maybe in two years, he’ll see you off on your last trip to Hogwarts.”
At this, I grinned. “I think James just doesn’t want to be seen with the Head Boy,” I said mischievously.
Albus blushed. “Shut up. You wait till term starts, I’ll be docking points from Ravenclaw left and right.”
I twirled a strand of hair around my finger innocently. “That’d be an abuse of your power, Al.”
“Who, Al? He would never abuse his power,” Harry said, walking into the room while levitating both trunks with his wand. He ruffled Al’s hair, causing him to grimace. “Get into the car you two, we’re going to be late. And will one of you please run and get your mother?”
Albus pulled out his wand and muttered a spell. His wand let off a loud bang like a gunshot, accompanied by a shriek from upstairs. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. After fifteen years in this family, I had come to expect the antics of my brother. At least there was never a dull moment in this house.
"Looks like that got her attention," Albus said with a smirk. "Let's go!"
Before I could react, I felt a body barrel into my own, nearly knocking me off balance. I grinned, recognizing that hug anywhere.
“Hattie!” I said happily, turning to face a mop of unruly brown hair hiding a round face full of freckles. We had been best friends ever since our first year when Hattie had accidentally pushed me into the Black Lake. We had been clambering into the boats ready to take us to the Castle when Hattie had lost her balance and tried to use me to steady herself, but instead sent me plummeting into the icy waters below. Rather than get upset about it, however, I had taken a liking to the girl who made my first day at Hogwarts memorable. When we had both been sorted into Ravenclaw, our friendship had cemented and I knew that I couldn’t possibly hope for anyone better.
“How have you been?” Hattie asked, looking me up and down. “And you haven’t written me in two weeks. Do you know how hard it is to be locked in a house with no magic for two months!”
I smiled apologetically. “Sorry about that, Al borrowed my owl after James took his. Summer was entertaining, though, once Al turned seventeen. He tried to disapparate downstairs on his birthday and splinched himself. He lost all his toenails. His scream of terror was possibly the best sound I’ve heard all my life.”
Hattie laughed, clapping a hand on my shoulder. “Wish I had an older brother who could do magic. Or any family that could do magic for that matter.”
Hattie was also Muggle-born, and I had enjoyed teaching her everything I could about the Wizard world in their first few weeks at Hogwarts. I hadn’t realized how many things were different between the two worlds. Even the smallest of things like the flavours of chocolate and some expressions were different. I had entertained herself on several occasions by using a purely wizard expression and asking Hattie about the Muggle equivalent.
“You have to come and stay with me next summer,” I said. “We’ll take you to a real Quidditch match and you can meet all the Weasleys.”
“I’m holding you to that word,” Hattie said seriously. She had been dying to meet the rest of my incredibly large extended family all in one place. Why, I have no idea. I still wish I had never met my extended family. But the closest she had ever come to that was our first year at Hogwarts and there had still been a few who had already graduated. In any case, it was rare that all the Weasleys could be found in one place.
As a family who had been almost completely Gryffindors for years now, us next generation of children had been surprised to find ourselves scattered throughout all four Houses. We had adapted well to their new surroundings, or at least so I like to think, and none of our parents had been particularly disappointed in our placement. In fact, when Aunt Fleur had found out that her eldest daughter, Victoire, had been sorted into Ravenclaw, she had remarked proudly, “I am so glad zat she was not in ze ‘ouse of zat ugly lion,” before apologizing to her husband with a smirk.
Hattie loved hearing about the Weasley family drama, and I had recounted this and many other tales to her throughout the years. I smiled, thinking about the mishaps that had happened over the summer and how much fun I would have when I told Hattie. If there’s one thing our family doesn’t lack, it’s a good sense of humour.
“Let’s go find a compartment before we’re stuck sitting with the first years.”
Hattie nodded her agreement, and we set off towards the train, lugging our trunks and owls behind us.
The train was only partially full, so we had no trouble finding an empty compartment. We quickly arranged our trunks, then pulled out our robes and changed into them. After forgetting to change entirely in our second year, we had made it a system to change as soon as we got onto the train. As funny as it had been at the time, we were not eager to repeat the incident. There are few worse starts to term than thirty points from Ravenclaw.
We were soon joined by a few other Ravenclaws in our year, and we embraced them eagerly, excited to see everyone after the summer. After talking about the summer for a few minutes, the conversation soon turned to the only exciting news in those few months.
“So have you heard about the memorial?” a girl named Caroline asked.
“How could I not? Both my parents were just slightly obsessed with it over the summer.” I ran a strand of hair through my fingers, rolling my eyes as I looked at the compartment.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot that they were part of the committee,” answered one of the boys in the compartment named Ben. He was both a Ravenclaw and a fifth year, and he had red hair and a light smattering of freckles across his cheeks and nose. It was a long-standing joke that Ben was the only non-Weasley redhead left in the school. He had been called Weasley more times than he cared to count, however, when teachers saw him from the back, and as a result, most of the kids simply referred to him as “The Fake Weasley”.
“Hold on. What is this about a memorial?” Hattie asked, chewing and swallowing the rest of the chocolate frog she had been eating. She shrunk back slightly at their surprised expressions. “What? It’s not my fault I’ve been holed up without access to the Wizard World all summer.”
Ben’s expression softened and he opened his mouth to speak. “You must have heard something about it? There’s a group of veterans from the Second Wizard War, a lot of the more important ones especially, who have been vying to build a memorial for the Battle of Hogwarts, but the Ministry of Magic never approved the project.”
Hattie shrugged, looking mystified. “Doesn’t ring a bell, sorry.”
“Really?” Ben was slightly bemused as he continued. “Well, the Ministry had always said that it wasn’t a good use of money or space and that it was best to keep the past in the past, but this past summer, the group was finally able to pass the resolution. The memorial is supposed to be stunning. It was the news of the summer.”
“Wow. So who’s in this group?”
“Lily could probably answer that better.” Ben jerked his head in my direction.
“Um…” I hesitated for a moment. “It was my mom and dad, Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione, Uncle George and Aunt Angelina, Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey, Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur-”
Hattie cut me off. “You could have just said all the Weasleys.”
I giggled. “There’s a couple more though. Professor Longbottom was a part of it, as well as his wife. Er…I think her name is Hannah. There’s a couple more I don’t really remember and…er… oh, there was Luna, of course! She’s the Scamander twins’ mother. Actually, if I remember right, she’s the one that gave the final speech to the Ministry. It was really powerful, apparently.”
“Wow,” Hattie said after a moment’s pause. “Do you know what it looks like?”
It was my turn to shrug. “I’m just as clueless as the rest of you. Mum and Dad wouldn’t even let me see the most basic plans.”
“We’ll just have to wait and see, then,” Hattie said with a tone of finality, indicating that she was ready to change the subject to something she knew more about. “So who knows who the new Quidditch captain is?”
The night was cloudless and pleasantly cool when we arrived in the Hogsmeade station. The stars shone brightly, illuminating the seemingly horseless carriages that would take us up to the school. I could hear Hagrid calling the first years from one end of the station, his lantern a beacon of light among the crowds of students. I decided not to try and push through the crowd and say hi to him, but instead made my way to the carriages along with my friends.
The weather had never been so nice on the first evening at Hogwarts, but most of us scarcely noticed the temperature. We were focused on the memorial, wondering what it would look like and where it could be. We were disappointed, however, when the carriages passed through the school gates and stopped at the front entrance without any sign of a new structure. Hogwarts looked the same as always, with warm glows emanating from the windows high on the towers and the black lake shining in the distance, lit by the lanterns on the boats carrying the first years.
We disembarked, chattering about the start of the new term. I grabbed Hattie’s arm as we got off our carriage so as not to lose her in the crowd of people. I saw Hugo in the distance, his shiny new prefect’s badge gleaming against the black of his robes. It had been strange not sitting with him on the train, but Hugo took his duties very seriously and insisted on sitting in the prefect’s cabin for the journey. Well, that was his version of it, in any case. I suspected that it was simply a ruse. I knew that Hugo liked to feel high and mighty, and sitting in the prefect’s cabin gave him a sense of power. I was glad he was one of the prefects of Ravenclaw, however.
I myself was much too hot headed to be a prefect, and I knew that I would end up neglecting my duties. Besides, neither of my parents had been prefects, and though Albus had earned the badge, James had not. I supposed that not being a prefect just ran in the family.
I waved to Hugo, but he didn’t see me as he shepherded two second years through the doors. I rolled my eyes, knowing my cousin would be completely caught up in his duties for the rest of the evening. We had been sorted into the same House, which had been a huge relief in our first year, but despite being cousins and always in close quarters, we weren’t the best of friends. We were too different to really understand each other, so aside from the odd hour here and there, we made no effort to spend time together.
As usual, we were greeted by Peeves as we made our way into the Great Hall. Luckily, he seemed to have dropped the tradition of throwing water balloons at us as he had done for the past three years, and instead made faces as we walked by. I wondered if Professor Stan, the headmaster of Hogwarts, had asked him not to pull a prank this year, or if Peeves was just getting tired of his usual nonsense. I hoped that it wasn’t the latter. Peeves could make the dullest of moments interesting.
“Oi,” Hattie muttered, nudging me in the side and pointing at Peeves. Apparently, she had made the same observation as me. “Peeves is acting strange today, don’t you think?”
I nodded. “Yeah, I was thinking the exact same thing. I wonder why.”
Hattie dropped her voice. “I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that Professor Stan threatened to expel him a few days back.”
I opened my mouth in shock, but closed it quickly. It really was no surprise that he was close to expulsion, but I had never expected him to actually be threatened. I couldn’t help but hope that the rumour was false.
I nearly pulled my notebook out of my pocket to write about this strange new development with Peeves, but decided against it. It would probably be lost somewhere in the crowd. I would remember the incident just as well tonight, and I could describe it then. That was exactly what I wanted to do, though. I wanted to take the rumours in the school, find out if there was any truth to them, and then write articles about them. There was never a shortage of material in Hogwarts, and I would do what the Prophet did wrong. I would make sure the rumours were actually true before writing about them.
I grinned, thinking about everything I wanted to accomplish this year. Everyone said that O.W.L year was gruelling, but I was confident I would still have time for my own interests. Now that it was O.W.L. year, my dreams of being a journalist seemed a lot more real. This year played a huge role in deciding my future, and though I wouldn’t necessarily need Transfiguration to write articles, my marks would help determine whether or not I would be hired. I was going to do everything I could to make my dreams a reality. If there was one thing I loved to do, it was investigating a situation, and even more, telling others about it. I wanted to turn around then and there and announce my dreams to the world, but I decided against it. The students might find me just a bit crazy if I did that. Maybe. Just a bit.
Instead, I followed Hattie into the Great Hall, taking my place at the Ravenclaw table and waiting for the Sorting to commence. Within moments, I had been caught up in the usual gossip of Hogwarts.
It was good to be back.
A/N: Hi there :D Glad to see you’re back. This is really the start of the story. The reviews I got on the first chapter absolutely killed me with how lovely and supportive they were, so thank you so much to everyone who left me one. Special thanks to acrules for walking me through this chapter. If you laughed at all, especially in the first section, it was probably thanks to her. Any guesses as to who HE is? It’s not really a secret, but hey, we can pretend that it is :P And that grey box down there is really hungry. You should probably feed it ;)
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