Chapter 1 : A Wizard's World
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A/N: This is my first HPFF story, i hope you guys like it. (Sorry for not indenting my paragraphs- using Word and don't know how to set it) =)
Albus Potter waved vaguely through the window of the Hogwarts Express. He could hardly believe he was going to Hogwarts at last! He could see his mother and father, Ginny and Harry Potter, beaming. When at last the train sped up and they faded into the distance, he looked around at the compartment and saw another new first-year, but the rest were second-years, his brother James amongst them. By some hidden brotherly instinct, James had saved his brother a window seat, but was since ignoring him.
Albus looked curiously at the first-year girl next to him. She was small and mousy, her wispy hair tucked behind her ears, but when he looked closer he could see excitement sparkling in her dark brown eyes. He shuffled over to her surreptitiously. She looked a little anxious but he soon grinned.
“I’m new here, too. What’s your name?” Albus asked.
“Alana Longbottom. My dad’s a teacher at Hogwarts,” Alana replied. Albus nodded; this must be Neville Longbottom’s daughter. He smiled shyly and they did not speak again until a haughty-looking Prefect opened the door to their compartment.
“Time to get changed into Hogwarts robes now, everybody,” he said bossily. They all agreed and quickly changed, glad to be free of their Muggle jeans. The food trolley had passed earlier but all Albus had bought was a Chocolate Frog; he felt sicker and sicker as they neared Hogwarts. What if he was in Slytherin after all? Would his dad be cross? Gryffindor had been the family house, he knew, James was in it and his parents had been too. Would the Sorting Hat take his choice into account? He turned it all over in his head as finally they reached Hogsmeade Station with a lurch. They departed and Albus tried to stay close to Alana, desperate for a familiar face, but he seemed to be flowing with the crowd. He bumped into a huge looming figure but soon realised it was Hagrid, the half-giant his father had told him about.
“Well I never,” Hagrid boomed, “Yer not ‘Arry Potter’s son, are yeh?”
“Yes, I am, Albus Potter! You’re Hagrid.”
“That I am, young Albus! I see yeh took your name from a great man,” he chortled. “Firs’ years over ‘ere, then. Come on, firs’ years. Any more? No more firs’ years? OK, let’s get goin’!” The small group of bedraggled first years followed Hagrid to the bank of a lake. They piled onto small rowing boats, Albus glad to see he was next to Alana again, and all at once the boats glided smoothly across the lake. Albus peered over into the lake water. It was quite clear, but there was something murky and shadowy right in the middle. He squinted to see what it was.
He yelped and retracted his hand which he was about to touch the water with.
“There’s something in there!” Albus said fearfully.
“Oh, it’s jus’ the ol’ giant squid. Wouldn’ hurt a fly, he wouldn’.” Hagrid grinned toothily at Albus and Alana, who wore identical looks of apprehension. “’E’s right friendly.”
Nevertheless, they stayed away from the edges of the boat for the rest of the journey. All the first years were too anxious to converse with each other, as they reached the other bank. They were all too aware that they would be Sorted any moment. Hagrid raised a giant fist and knocked twice on the great door; as if on cue, Minerva McGonagall opened it. She was greyer than his father had described, but otherwise, Albus thought, she was exactly the same. They trooped through the Entrance Hall, led by McGonagall, and stood anxiously waiting for the Sorting. Judging by everybody else’s sweaty palms and terrified faces Albus could tell they were feeling the same as him. At last, the door opened into the Great Hall and a sea of faces met the first years. He could see the battered black hat standing motionless on the stool. Then it began to sing.
“Over the years
You and your peers
Listen to me sing this song.
It comes with cheers
And maybe even tears
Because I put you where you belong.
Brave Gryffindor, courageous fighters,
Pure Slytherin, proud and mighty.
Fair Hufflepuff, patient, not flighty.
And clever Ravenclaw, not a soul could touch
In the wonders of the mind, as such
But don’t worry where I put you,
You’ll prosper, they all do,
Whether you are brave or shrewd,
Fair or clever, there are lots of clues
But you will all do good, mankind
Has never seen such minds!
Slytherin bears the hissing snake,
Which slithers in their wake.
Gryffindor bears the brave lion,
Never ever shy and
Hufflepuff has the badger, stout
Fair and patient, a stripy snout
Ravenclaw bears the mighty bird
The brainy raven’s call is heard,
Their emblems come together as one,
One of those four you will become!
Years and years ago
When the world was new
Four friends had a bright idea
To teach students all they knew
So from their bright and intelligent minds
They devised a clever plan
To start a school of wizardry
And let them learn all they can
Godric Gryffindor, bravest of the lot,
Said- I’ll take the courageous
Yes, for I’ve made up my mind
I’ll only teach who’s bravest,
Salazar Slytherin, shrewd and cunning,
Said- Let me teach the ones like me
A cunning mind, a whirring brain,
Sly ideas I’ll encourage, said he
Rowena Ravenclaw, with a juicy brain,
Said- I’ll only take the bright ones
The ones with clever tricks and plans
To work out problems and sums,
And Helga Hufflepuff, the only one left,
Said- I will teach all the rest
For I am fair and just,
I don’t mind who’s in my house,
But contentment and learning is a must,
So the school of Hogwarts
Was split into four parts
But little did the founders know
That they may soon be split apart.
For soon their friendships faltered,
Slytherin began to drift away
Each person strived to run the school,
And do it their own way,
At last, Slytherin left, leaving
The founders four to three
And this is where I leave it,
Let’s sort you, we shall see!
When the hat had finished there was a smattering of applause. Albus could see his brother James sitting back in his chair nonchalantly, but their was a slight tense air. Albus felt a rush of affection as he realised James was anxious about Albus’ Sorting after all. He clenched and unclenched his fists as ‘Abercrombie, Morgan’ was put in Hufflepuff and ‘Allan, Harrison’ was Sorted into Ravenclaw. The first Slytherin (Crom, Kelsie) was greeted by loud cheers. Albus waited, almost petrified with fear, as the line slowly shortened. He held his breath as Alana was sorted. She was in Gryffindor. Then all too soon the M’s and N’s and O’s had gone, and it was his name.
“Potter, Albus!” announced McGonagall. Whispers broke out all over the Hall as soon as they registered the name Potter.
“Yes, Harry Potter!”
“Wonder what he’ll...”
They were soon stopped by a glare from McGonagall. Albus sat trembling on the stool and gingerly placed the hat upon its head.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here? A Potter, I see... Yes, I had trouble sorting your father. You have a lot of the same qualities... Brave. That’s good. Proud... Slytherin might do you good. You get in with the right people...”
Albus listened to the Hat with growing discomfort and indignation. He didn’t know what to do. What if the Hat put him in Slytherin?
“Hmm... Okay, SLY-”
“NO!” yelled Albus in his head.
“Ha ha. Just like your father. Very well, but you might regret it. GRYFFINDOR!” the Hat shouted to the whole Hall, and Albus emerged from under the Hat, shaken but excited. He was in Gryffindor!
As he walked to the Gryffindor house table, James patted him on the back and said,
“Congrats, little bro.”
He saw Alana grinning shyly, James clapping, the rest of the Gryffindors cheering. He took his place next to Alana with James opposite and felt like his brain would burst with the happy thoughts whirling round in it.
He was in such a daze he didn’t watch to see Rose Weasley Sorted, but thankfully he was brought to his senses by the explosions of cheering from the Gryffindor table. He was just in time to see Rose sit down next to him with a breathless grin on her face.
The rest of the evening passed quickly. Albus enjoyed laughing and joking with Alana and Rose, for he felt safe now he was Sorted. But his mind couldn’t help dwelling on the Sorting Hat. It had been a few seconds away from announcing he was in Slytherin... he dreaded to think what would have happened if he had not stopped it. At last, when the crunchy roast potatoes, sweet parsnips, juicy roast beef and pork, glistening gravy and the selection of cakes and biscuits for dessert had been finished, McGonagall stood. She was the Headmistress now Dumbledore was not there. She smiled at them all and when they had finished she Vanished all the leftovers with a flick of her wand.
“Welcome, our new first years, welcome! Your Prefects will show you the way to your common room. Welcome back to our old students! I take great pleasure in introducing our new board of teachers! Professor Longbottom, who will take Herbology, Professor Abercrombie, who will be taking Potions, and Professor Flowmouth, taking the post of Defence Against the Dark Arts!”
Albus scanned the teacher’s table. Neville Longbottom was beaming. Abercrombie looked like a mousy man with crinkles around his eyes, and Flowmouth was a short woman, curly hair bouncing around her neck, eyes twinkling. In fact, those blue eyes reminded Albus strongly of the photos he had seen of Albus Dumbledore. “As a great hero once said- there is a time for speechmaking, but this is not it. Up to bed, all of you!” McGonagall said. Albus knew she was quoting Dumbledore. There was a scrape of benches and a rush to get out of the Hall and to bed; Albus was lost in the flow but somebody caught his arm. Alana had grabbed him and was steering him towards the exit.
“Thank you,” Albus said.
“It’s all right,” said Alana. “We need to find a Prefect,” she added. They started to walk, and they could move freely as the bustle of students had already passed. They at last heard a bossy voice saying,
“First years follow me. The password’s ‘Bezoar’, everybody!”
“Bezoar,” everyone chorused, and as Albus and Alana rounded the corner they saw the Fat Lady swinging open. Climbing through, the common room looked cosy and comfortable, the fireplace was blazing- but right then their four-posters seemed more inviting. Albus said goodnight to Alana and started up the stairs, looking for the first-year boy’s dormitories. At last he found it near the top of the tower. He pushed the door open and saw three other boys, two of them in bed, the other sitting on his bed polishing his wand. One of the boys in bed was fast asleep, but the other was grinning and eating Chocolate Frogs. Albus saw his trunk at the end of a four-poster. He pulled back the hangings and changed quickly into his pyjamas. When he was in bed, he looked over to the boy in the bed next to him, who chucked him a Chocolate Frog.
“Thanks,” he said indistinctly.
“No problem. I’m Jonny. Jonny Marvell.” The boy had slightly floppy light brown hair and chocolate-brown eyes. His skin was tanned and a bit freckly. He looked Albus up and down, taking in his black, ruffled hair and bright green eyes. He laughed at Albus’ inquisitive expression.
“I’m Albus Potter,” Albus said, waiting for the intake of breath at the mention of Potter. It did not come. Jonny just nodded.
“’Spect you’re famous, right? Potter and all that,” Jonny said, but it wasn’t prying- he looked sincerely interested. Albus smiled ruefully.
“Not really... I hope not. I mean, I don’t want to be famous because of a name,” Albus said quickly. Then he said goodnight and fell fast asleep before Jonny was even replying.
Jonny woke early and sat up on his elbow listening to the other boys breathing. He knew the boy next to him was called Albus Potter and the boy on the other side of him was Winston Peakes. He had not learned the other boy’s name; the boy who was fascinated with polishing his wand. He had not seemed that interesting, but the Albus boy was, and not just because he was Harry Potter’s son. It was because he had the same kind of excitable glow around him, same as Jonny, and Jonny could feel that they had a lot in common. He stretched and yawned. Pushing back his light brown hair from his forehead, he pulled back the hangings on the side of the bed and swung his legs out. He looked to see if anybody was awake. Winston was stirring, as was the wand-polisher, but Albus still seemed fast asleep. Pity. Jonny got up and dressed slowly, watching the sun outside the window rise.
Albus opened his emerald eyes to see Jonny sitting on the window-seat, seemingly in a daze. The empty Chocolate Frog packets were littered around the bed next to him. Albus rolled over and was startled when he couldn’t feel the bed underneath him. He came to earth with a crash and realised he had fallen out of bed.
Jonny came out of his daze with a snort of laughter and helped Albus up.
“Morning,” he said cheerily.
“Morning,” groaned Albus, rubbing his head.
“Good morning, all,” the wand-polisher said loudly. Winston Peakes just grunted. When all four boys were changed into their black robes, they walked down to breakfast, chattering.
“What’s your name, then?” Winston asked the wand-polisher.
“Robert Cadden,” replied Robert pompously. They went down to breakfast and were glad to see the bowls full of cornflakes and sprinkled with strawberries or sugar; the massive fry-ups with crisp bacon and eggs oozing with yolk. Albus sat down and ate heartily. His first lesson was today, he thought, checking his timetable. Herbology, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy and Transfiguration. He grinned, happy to be going to Hogwarts at last, and his worries seemed far away. Even the massive worry that he would have done well in Slytherin...
After a sumptuous breakfast the Gryffindors trooped down to the Herbology greenhouses. Professor Longbottom had a special smile for Alana, and he might have flashed one Albus’ way, as Neville and Harry had been good friends. Professor Longbottom then said,
“Greenhouse One, now, people. Come on, this way. Everybody gather round. Right. Today, we’re having a fun lesson. Can anyone think of plants that can adapt a human body to make it more suited for something?”
Everybody looked puzzled and scratched their heads.
“Isn’t there a plant that can make you invisible?” Alana piped up.
“Yes, a point to Gryffindor. For another point, anybody know what it’s called?” There was a lot of murmurings and mutterings but nobody knew.
“Shroudbloom. They are long stalks like grass but they are thick and clump together, often with tiny buds. Just pick them and if you rub the pollen on you, the part with the pollen on will become immediately invisible. Right, any other plant?” Professor Longbottom asked.
“Gillyweed!” said Albus. His father had used Gillyweed in the second task at the Triwizard Tournament.
“Yes, yes! Well done, Albus. Your dad was fond of that one. Gives the swallower fish gills for one hour and allows them to swim underwater easily. There’s a couple more, anybody know?”
“Something that makes you camouflaged.” Jonny had been silent for the earlier part of the lesson but now he joined in.
“Ah, Airgrass! Very good. When stewed and eaten, Airgrass will help the user blend in to its surroundings. For instance, if you were sitting in front of a rainbow, you would turn red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. One more and this is a tricky one!”
They had no idea what the tricky last one was, so Professor Longbottom told them.
“Swiftfoot Flower Buds,” he said, holding up a tiny delicate white flower in his palm. “We’re going to have some fun with this one.” He started handing out the flowers to each student.
“Swiftfoots give the swallower the ability to run as fast as wind, jump higher and further, and have long, quick strides. It speeds you up for exactly one hour, so we are going to have a fun Herbology today! I’ve set up a kind of obstacle course outside. On the count of three, you will all swallow your Swiftfoots and then will race to the other side of the obstacle course. I will announce the winners and there might be a lucky prize!”
All the pupils rushed to the door, holding their Swiftfoots tightly in their hands. Outside, Professor Longbottom chewed his thoughtfully and then sprinted off to the other side of the obstacle course, in double-quick time. There he waited and then shouted,
“1. 2. 3! GOOOOO!” Albus stuffed the Swiftfoot in his mouth, tasting a vague taste of soap, and ran forward to the first obstacle. He felt light, light as air when he ran. It was a wonderful feeling. The others obviously felt the same- he could hear Jonny saying, “This is weird!” and Alana squealing as she jumped about three foot. Albus was coming to the first hurdle, he bent his legs and then felt himself rocket through the air; it was like gravity had reversed. Then he came back down and kept running, it was neck and neck between him and Robert Cadden, but Robert was so intent on watching Albus that he did not notice the hurdle in front of him. He jumped far too late, even with their new skills. His foot caught the hurdle and he fell flat on his face. He did not know that there was another contestant behind him, revving up: Alana Longbottom. She leaped with more grace than Albus ever could. They were the ones neck and neck now. Sprinting through the clear run to the finish line, Albus could see Alana passing him by inches... she was slipping ahead...he was slipping back... he put on a spurt of speed but she was too quick and crossed the finish line with a beam on her face. Albus crossed it too and doubled up, coughing, but with a huge grin on his face. He was second in an obstacle course in his first day at Hogwarts! He staggered forward to Professor Longbottom who was also smiling. He brought a little packet out of his pocket.
“Stewed Airgrass. Remember what it does?”
“Camouflages you!” said Alana breathlessly.
“Indeed. So there’s one for you, Alana, one for Mr Potter, and one for Mr Cadden. Well done, all of you, you ran spectacularly.” Alana, Albus and Robert took their Airgrass gratefully and they could just hear Professor Longbottom saying, “No homework today, it’s your first day! Class dismissed. Well done!”
The path back up to Hogwarts castle was filled with first years either looking breathless and excited or enviously at the Airgrass. Albus decided he would not use it yet. He would keep it in the bag his father had given him. It could only be accessed by the owner; Hagrid had given it as a gift to Harry. Albus already had his money in the pouch, and here was another thing. He slipped it in reverently as a token to his first Hogwarts lesson. Then he looked around for Jonny, but could see no sign of him, so he made his way to Defence Against the Dark Arts with Alana, who seemed fascinated by him- but it didn’t matter. Albus and Alana had been friends ever since they had met on the train.
Professor Flowmouth was flashing her white teeth in a welcoming smile as the first year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs filed into her classroom. Albus took a seat with Alana at the back of the class, on the desk next to Jonny Marvell. Flowmouth raised her wand and with a flick, the door closed gently. There was an expectant silence within the classroom, and then Flowmouth began to talk in a low, reassuring voice.
“Hello, class! I believe I have the first year Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors. It’s going to take some time to learn your names, I’m afraid. Well- wands out, please.”
There was an excited flurry of movement. ‘Wands out’ was a welcome command in the pupils’ lessons. Everybody was holding their wands out straight.
Albus was proud of his phoenix feather wand. It was an eleven-inch birch wood wand, nice and flexible, fitting nicely in his hand. Rainbow sparks had trailed from it almost as soon as he had picked it up in Ollivander’s.
Flowmouth smiled and handed around cushions. Puzzled faces looked at each other as they received the tasselled cushions.
“We are practising the Disarming spell today. The incantation is called Expelliarmus. Use the cushions if you may fall- the result of a particularly good Disarming spell is that they should be blown backwards. It doesn’t matter if you cannot do this spell; I should not expect it. This is only your first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson. OK, the wand movement is a jab.”
She demonstrated, jabbing her wand and saying, “Expelliarmus!” A Hufflepuff boy called Clarke Chinsky staggered backwards, his wand flying out of his hand. “Accio wand,” Flowmouth said, kindly returning the wand to Clarke, who looked like she might bite him. “Off you go,” Flowmouth finished.
The room was immediately filled with people jabbing fiercely at their opponents and shouting, “Expulliomas! No, Epexillarmus! Wait! Expalliarmas!” The only person who managed to do the spell in the entire lesson was Alana Longbottom. She thrust her wand forward at her Gryffindor partner Emilie and said,
All heads were turned as Emilie’s wand was blown out of her hand and landed on the other side of the classroom. Flowmouth looked jubilant.
“Well done! What’s your name?”
“Alana Longbottom,” said Alana, blushing.
“I daresay I will remember you, Alana,” Flowmouth smiled, the corners of her mouth crinkling happily. Then the bell rang and the class bundled out, chattering about the lesson.
Albus was surprised at how well Alana was doing- at this rate she should have been in Ravenclaw! Maybe cleverness was nothing to do with it; maybe Alana was just lucky. Even so, Albus felt a pang of jealousy and wanted to kick himself. Shouldn’t he be happy if his new friend was doing well? He shook his head to rid himself of envious thoughts and his mind fell back on the Hogwarts corridor. Flowmouth was tidying up the classroom behind them and Alana, eyes twinkling, was looking back at her.
“She’s nice,” Alana said.
“Yes. Well done, Alana,” Albus answered absently. He ascended the steps to the Fat Lady as if in a daze, but when a sharp voice said, “Password?” he was jerked awake.
“Um... Bezoar,” he said, and Jonny followed him in.
“Hi, mate. Good lesson, that? You manage Expelliwhatsit?”
“Nope. What have we got now?”
“Nothing until after lunch,” Jonny replied, opening yet another Chocolate Frog and chucking another at Albus.
“Thanks,” Albus unwrapped the Chocolate Frog and looked at the card. Dumbledore’s face smiled up at him. “The first one my dad ever got,” Albus murmured.
“What was that?” Jonny asked, looking up at Albus’ green eyes.
After a few minutes, Jonny and Albus went down to lunch, which was pork chops or steak dinner. Afterwards they washed it all down with pumpkin juice and fizzy drinks, and then came the desserts, small glistening jam tarts and creamy meringues. When they were all full to bursting point they waddled off back to their common rooms to wait for the next lesson. The older students would be studying, but as first years Jonny, Albus and Alana had no homework yet. They hung around the blazing fire and chatted. Albus was glad to see Jonny and Alana got on well, laughing at each others jokes.
“Wizard chess, anyone?” asked Winston Peakes.
“Me,” Alana replied without missing a beat, and they set to playing wizard chess with enthusiasm.
“How about we play?” Jonny asked Albus.
“I don’t have a set,” Albus said glumly.
“I do! Come on.” So Albus and Jonny cheerily found Jonny’s old wizard chess set (embedded under a mouldy layer of clothes in his suitcase) and lay down, resting their heads on their elbows with the chess set between them. Albus was white and Jonny black; but it was clear Jonny was the most experienced player- he darted around the board taking too many of Albus’ pieces to count. At last, when Albus’ king was checkmated, they packed away the board (on top of the mouldy clothes this time) and with a yelp realised they were late for Transfiguration. Grabbing their bags, they ran out of the common room.
“Which way is it?” Jonny said breathlessly.
“I don’t know!” Albus puffed. Skidding round a corner, they saw a pearly transparent ghost gliding around a bend up ahead.
“Wait!” Jonny yelled. The ghost, who had silky white hair and a long nightdress, looked round.
“Yes?” she said in a high-pitched voice.
“Where... the Transfiguration.... classroom...?” Albus said, bending over.
“Transfiguration?” the ghost said, and pointed with her glassy hand. “Just down there,” she finished, and glided away. The boys ran down the stairs, panting, and saw the door to the Transfiguration classroom closed. When they peered in, they saw the class had already started. They opened the door and stepped in, hoping somehow to be unnoticed.
Professor McGonagall was looking coldly at them.
“Excuse me,” she said, eyebrows raised. “We seem to have some unexpected visitors.”
“I’m sorry...Professor, but... lost track of time...got lost...Sorry,” Albus faltered. They took their places at the empty desks and looked guiltily at the floor, but Albus was sure he could see a grin playing on Jonny’s lips. He settled quietly, trying to make his matchstick into a needle with the other children, but Jonny was clearly bored, aiming his wand under his desk and pointing it at Professor McGonagall. It was an amusing miracle when the Professor’s wand flew out of her hand and across the classroom. Albus was sure he heard Jonny mutter,
Nothing else happened during the rest of the Transfiguration class, but it was still quite interesting. The bell rang for next class and they hurried off to Charms.
It was an awesome lesson, Albus thought afterwards, his head now full of simple charms and spells Flitwick had taught them.
Alana caught up with them, looking hurt.
“Why didn’t you wait for me? I was caught in a crush of mad boys. Humph,” she said, folding her arms and walking beside them.
“Sorry, Lan.” Jonny used Alana’s new nickname mischievously.
“That’s alright, Jon,” Alana retorted. Jonny hated being called Jon as much as Alana hated being called Lan.
“I’m fine with Al,” Albus said cheekily. “Race you to the common room!” and he started up the stairs with a head start, grinning. Jonny and Alana followed suit.
Cosy in his warm four-poster, Albus could not think of a better place to be. He was at Hogwarts at last, having done his first four lessons and had his first three meals. He had had a dinner of vegetarian sausages and mountains of ketchup, and he was contently full. He wondered how James was faring. Probably fine- he had always been the popular, confident brother in the two. Albus wanted to pore over his first day more, but sleep was taking over and his eyelids were drooping. Eventually he gave in and drifted off.
The cave was dark in the corners and only lit in the middle by the embers of a dying fire. Logs, cracked and mossy, lay around the fire as if they were benches. Albus descended on one and sat. The fire started whirling. He was not alarmed, and that in itself was alarming, for the fire was swirling and dancing hypnotically. He felt himself falling under its spell. There was a woman in the cave, bending over the fire, crooning at it. It danced faster. She praised it for its good work, for Albus was sleeping peacefully. Then everything went black.
Albus woke, sweating. What a strange dream. He was asleep in his dream... a fire was dancing... a woman was talking to it... He tried to remember but already the details were slipping away. By the light behind his closed eyelids, he decided it was probably morning, and he opened them slowly. Sunlight was streaming in through a gap in the curtains. Once again, Jonny was sitting on the windowsill, head on his knees. This time something was different. Albus swung his legs out of bed and sat down beside the boy, reaching out an arm. When Jonny’s tanned face appeared from its knees he could see glistening tear-tracks down the cheeks.
“Jonny? What’s wrong? What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Nothing, Albus. Nothing,” and Jonny blinked. The tear-tracks seemed to have disappeared. It was perhaps a trick of the light...? Albus was still pondering this as they dressed and went down to breakfast. What would Jonny have to be tearful about? He always seemed so cheery.
After shovelling in mouthfuls of sugary cornflakes, Albus looked up as the post arrived. A swarm of owls flew simultaneously into the Great Hall and landed at their owners’ respective tables. Albus was overjoyed to see his very own brand-new snowy white owl, Hedwig II, amongst the browns and greys. It landed gracefully at the table and started showing off to Albus’ fellow Gryffindors. Eagerly, Albus unhooked the letter and read it slowly.
We’re glad to see you’re making friends so quickly! James has written to us and said you spend a lot of time with Neville Longbottom’s daughter and a boy called Marvell. Anyway, we are very happy. I hope you are too- remember you can always tell me if anything’s wrong.
How are your lessons going? I don’t know how many staff changes there has been, but James says a few. He is so vague sometimes! Please write back soon with the new teachers’ names, I want to know you are getting a proper education.
By the way, I am sending something special with the next letter.
Write back soon,
Well done for settling in, my man. Keep your chin up and don’t let James get you down, whatever he says. I apologise for my handwriting as I am writing this while trying to levitate my Brussels sprouts to the pan! Oops. They have dropped. Oh well- I will put them in and boil them. And your mother says I can’t look after the house..!
Mum told you about the gift with the next letter? Something for you to look forward to. Don’t go to the Forbidden Forest- it’s forbidden. Don’t duel anyone till you know how. I’ve said this all before, but Mum’s worried about your safety.
Lots of love,
P.S And I knew you wouldn’t be in Slytherin, didn’t I? Xx
Albus smiled at the letter and imagined Harry dropping the Brussels sprouts on the floor... it seemed so real at times like this, the outside world, but otherwise he was away, detached, even cut off...
It was a strange feeling to get a letter from home as though he had been away for years. He looked at Jonny to see if he had a letter, but Jonny was looking at Albus’ bit of parchment with yearning and disappointment etched on his tanned face. He looked jealous and miserable.
There was a pause. “Jonny!”
“What?” Jonny said. Albus thought he could hear his voice edging on irritable.
The rest of breakfast went quickly and the boys scooted up to the common room to avoid an explosion of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (Some of the Hufflepuffs had got hold of the Filibuster’s Wet-Start No-Heat Indoor Fireworks and were experimenting with all sweets they could get their hands on.)
Albus glanced sideways at Jonny as they walked silently up to the common room. He was almost in a dream, a sad, sullen dream. Albus was concerned for him- there had to be a reason for him being sad and angry. If only he could get it out of him!
But as he fell on his bed, full of delicious breakfast, even the worry about Jonny Marvell stopped niggling at his mind, however subdued Jonny might be. It had taken a while for the truth to wash over him; he was finally at Hogwarts, and enjoying every moment of it.