Chapter 2 : Professor Neville Longbottom
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Chapter 2: Professor Neville Longbottom
Outside my window, in the distance, I saw them coming. The lights from the boat illuminated the lake, which indicated that the first-years would arrive here soon. Hagrid would bring them up to the Great Hall and I have been given the task to collect them from him. I sighed to myself and shook my head.
It’s now my tenth year as a teacher, seventh year leading in the sorting ceremony and first year being one of the four Heads. I, of course, was given Gryffindor. Over the past eighteen years I have come so far. I hardly recognized myself as the same boy that once floated over the lake, in the same boats that I could now see from my window on the seventh floor.
I sighed to myself once again then smiled. These were definitely the better days.
I got up and collected my wand. I should probably already be down by the Great Hall, waiting for the first years to stumble in.
It would be Teddy Lupin’s last year here. McGonagall told me she made him Head Boy. If he was anything like Remus, he would do a good job. His mother’s genes might be a problem however.
I laughed to myself at the thought.
Harry also told me that his oldest, James, was starting this year. I have only met him a few times and it’s been a while since I last since all of Harry and Ginny’s children. I’ll have to stop by soon.
As I turned toward the door to head down to the Great Hall, my door swung open on its own.
The current Headmistress, Professor McGonagall, was standing before me with an unreadable expression on her face.
I looked at her confused by this sudden visit.
“Good evening, Professor McGonagall.” I said pleasantly.
Her lips pressed together in a hard line before she spoke.
“I appreciate the constant respect you show me, but it’s been eighteen years since I’ve been your Professor, so you can stop calling me that.” She said sternly.
“Yes, Professor McGonagall.” I smiled at her.
She huffed and grimaced.
“Unless I’m mistaken, you didn’t just come here to reprimand me on how I address you, now did you?” I said with a worried look at her.
“No…” She admitted, a frown was tugging at the corners of her mouth.
“Then what’s wrong?” I asked, concerned now.
“There is an odd name that appeared on the sorting list this afternoon and I don’t know what to make of it.” She said.
I now looked to her hands and saw that she indeed had a list.
The sorting list was magically enchanted. It held the names of all those who are eleven by September first. If one just appeared, then they might have only turned eleven this very day. This isn’t a problem, because a separate list gives us all the names who should receive letters before September first. Their names appear there the day they are born.
I held out my hand for the list. She hesitated.
“May I see?” I asked, wondering why she had brought it if I wasn’t allowed to see. I would just see it later when I call out the names anyways.
“Yes, but we must keep this between us…” Professor McGonagall said. “I don’t know what it means or if it’s just a prank Peeves is playing.”
“Professor, you know as well as I do, Peeve could not mess with the magic upon that list.” I said.
She nodded and slowly gave me the list. As I looked at it, I saw nothing out of the ordinary. I looked back up at her.
“There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with this list…” I said slowly.
She shook her head. “No, not until you read the names.”
I looked back and started to go through them one by one.
Black, Sirius…Sirius Black? No, that’s impossible…
I looked up at her. “Is there a Muggle-born named-”
“No, I check the list of all the letters we send and all the houses we visited. There was no Sirius Black that received a Hogwarts letter, Muggle-born or not. At least not this year…not this time period.” She looked worried.
“Professor, Sirius Black was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange.” I said. “If he was indeed alive then where has he been for the last twenty years?”
“I know…I just, why would his name appear?”
“Maybe there is a Muggle-Born you missed and the name just appear on the list. Maybe it is a trick by Peeve, like you said. He might have found a way…” But even as I said it I knew it wasn’t true. The sorting list was a magical list. In some ways it’s connected to the Sorting Hat. It always knows.
“All these maybes and no answers are getting on my nerves.” She turned and stormed out.
“Where are you going?” I ran after her.
“To get some answers.” She said impatiently.
“And how are we going to go about doing that, may I ask?” I seriously doubted that he would be there. At least, the Sirius Black that the world once knew. Although, I suppose the world never really knew Sirius Black. When he was younger he was a prankster, from what I heard, when he was older he was a murderer, at least that’s what the general public thought. The true story of Sirius Black was never fully known. I know what Harry Potter has told me, but he never got a true chance to clear his name, not in his lifetime. Harry later saw that he was cleared as an innocent man, but his story was still not fully understood.
“I’m playing it by ear for right now.” She said with a thoughtful expression. I looked at her and saw that she seemed to have some sort of plan by the looks of it. I just didn’t know what yet.
I followed her down the staircase to the entrance of the Great Hall where the first years have just started gathering. She stopped suddenly at the bottom of the stairs, just before anyone would be able to see us. I saw her quickly scanning the faces of the young eleven year olds.
I don’t know what she was looking for, because by now if Sirius Black was among those new students, I fairly sure we would have spotted him. After all, he was an adult man the last I saw him. That was a very brief time and very long ago, but I could still spot a grown man in a crowd of eleven year olds.
However, Professor McGonagall found what she was looking for because I noticed that she stopped sudden at a young boy. This boy had dark black hair that fell just above his shoulders. His eyes were dark, and there was something familiar about him.
The boy was next to two others. He was smiling and laughing next to them. One boy had to be a Weasley, he might have dark hair, but the red streak through it told me this was George Weasley’s son. The other boy was none other than James Potter. I could almost hear the thoughts turning over in Professor McGonagall’s head. It wasn’t much to go on, but it seemed good enough to her. She turned to me slightly, without taking her gaze off of the boy.
“Get that boy and tell Hagrid to postpone the feast until we sort out this matter.” McGonagall pointed at the boy I was just looking at. She then turned and headed up the stairs. “Bring the boy to my office.”
I nodded and stepped forward to Hagrid. In a hushed tone I told him that there was a problem in the kitchen and not to lead the first years in the Great Hall until I say so. Before Hagrid could even reply I approached the boy. This time he saw me, James spotted me too.
“I’m not already in trouble am I, Professor?” James asked with a smirk. It seems he hasn’t changed a bit since the last time I saw him. I couldn’t help but smile at him.
“No, no, James, I do however, need to talk to your friend here.” I said gesturing to the dark haired boy that caught Professor McGonagall’s eye.
“He hasn’t done anything.” Fred, I’m assuming, jumped in to his aid.
The boy just looked at me with eyes that seemed too old for the body they were in. He seemed to comprehend something that the other boys didn’t and spoke for the first time.
“Is it about my parents?” The boy asked.
I wondered, was this boy helping me, so I could talk to him in private or was he really concerned for his parents? The latter is what I was hoping for, even if it would be truly traumatizing for a child.
I nodded and gave him a kind smile. “Nothing major, I assure you, we just received a letter, and since the feast is postponed for the time being, the Headmistress thought it would be wise to give it to you now.” The boy nodded not seeming overly concerned. “So if you will come with me, we will get this over with quickly.”
I was surprised at myself. I use to be a horrid liar and here I was making up a story and everything.
The boy followed me without any more questions and waved goodbye to James and Fred. I saw the worried look that appeared on James’ face, but I didn’t think anything more of it.
Silently, the boy followed me down the halls and up to the Headmistresses office. I gave the password and proceeded up the stairs to McGonagall’s office. From my time at Hogwarts I never really came into this office until my final year here. That was when Snape was Headmaster, but I must say the overall office never really changed, even when Dumbledore was Headmaster, from the few times I came here. The portraits of the previous Headmasters and Headmistresses grew and different touches from the current one fills the office, but nothing big changed.
I opened the door to McGonagall’s office and waited for the boy to enter before closing it. I then proceeded forward and stopped in front of Professor McGonagall’s desk, the boy stopped too. Something was off about him. The first time I was in Hogwarts I was lost in the wonder and magic this school held, even coming from a wizarding family. This boy however, seemed almost use to it and unimpressed. Something I only saw in those who have been to Hogwarts before and lived here for years. Even I was still impressed at times with the wonder of this school.
Although, he looked like a boy, could this really be Sirius Black?
I looked at Professor McGonagall and wondered if she was thinking the same thing, because she seemed lost in thought at the moment, but slowly and carefully she started talking to the boy.
“Hello, I am the current Headmistress of Hogwarts.” She was speaking to him like when she went to meet Muggle-Borns and their families for the first time. Calm and carefully, so she would not induce panic.
The boy merely nodded. His eyes never left her and his expression was unreadable.
“Do you know why you are here?” She asked. She wasn’t smiling, and her eyes never left him. Like she thought he was about to disappear at almost any moment.
The boy smiled now…no…smirked?
“To learn about magic.” He said it like a joke.
McGonagall’s eyes hardened.
“I mean here in this office, right now.”
“Well I was told it was about my parents.” He said, losing his smirk and turning back to an unreadable expression.
McGonagall glared at me.
I shrugged. What did she expect? I had to tell him something.
“Yes…” She said slowly. “And what is your name, just so we know we have the right boy.”
His eyes now sparkled and the next words seemed to come across a little too darkly for an eleven-year old. “I think you already know my name, and I don’t know why we are standing on ceremony here Minerva.”
She jumped at the sound of her first name being used by an eleven year old. The name shocked me too.
She stood up. “Are you Sirius Black?”
“I think I’m supposed to go by Sirius Lee now, according to my luggage.” The boy grinned.
“This isn’t funny Black!”
As Professor McGonagall yelled some books fell off of a nearby table, as they tumbled onto the floor I noticed the door was still open to the office. I thought I remembered closing it, but stepped over the books and to close the door.
“I’m not trying to make a joke, Professor. I suppose I’ll have to call you that again.” The boy smirked again.
Professor McGonagall slumped back down in her chair and started muttering to herself.
The boy rolled his eyes and looked at me as I made my way back to where they were.
“Can he be trusted?” The boy asked.
I rolled my eyes at him. “If you are in fact, Sirius Black then you should know that a lot has changed since…since…”
“Since I died?” He finished for me, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, that’s obviously not the case so I am at lost for words of what happened.” I said. “How about, since we thought you died and fell through that veil at the Ministry.” I wonder if that is how he ended up here, like this. At least, that’s the only logical answer. Well logic is eluding us at this point so it’s the only reason I can think of in my head. Once he fell through the veil, he ended up here, or did he go somewhere else first?
The boy raised an eyebrow. “Who told you about that?”
“For all you know it’s now in the History books.” I countered. Who would have thought I would be fighting with a child, who isn’t really a child…
Professor McGonagall kept muttering to herself. At least I was keeping it together. I would let her worry about the details for now.
“I’m pretty sure they would keep that under wraps, considering kids broke into the Ministry and for that matter so did Death Eaters.”
He had me there. There was in fact, a cover up story and it wasn’t known that Sirius Black fell through the mysterious veil. But I still knew.
“Well then the only other explanation is that I was there.” I said.
“On who’s side?” He questioned.
This made me angry. I have never had my loyalties questioned. Just as I was about to yell my retort back McGonagall finally spoke up.
“Hush! You are both acting like children.” She yelled now glaring at the both of us.
The boy, Sirius, glared at me.
I glared back.
Just as he was about to open his mouth to speak again, McGonagall interrupted him.
“You two, I expect you to be quiet while I speak for the next minute…Understood?”
We both nodded.
She took a deep breath and began to talk again. “From what I can understand is that you are in fact Sirius Black and when you fell through the veil that I heard about, you ended up here. I’m honestly a little surprised, but I can’t say that this is completely unexpected. When Dumbledore told me how you died, he also said there would be a chance you would, ‘Turn up again, but different.’” She shook her head. “Considering that was in his passing one day I didn’t take it much to heart, but here we are.
“For the time being, until we figure something else out, you will go to school here again. You will take the name Sirius Lee and if we don’t figure this out by summer, you will be offered a place here at Hogwarts to stay. I will expect you not to tell a soul who you really are, even your own Godson. I can honestly say I don’t know what will happen if the Ministry gets wind of what has happened. So for the time being, just blend in.” Professor McGonagall paused and then spoke again. “Now I will expect you to have some questions and I have some of my own, but I will answer a few of your right now. You have five minutes, choose wisely.”
The boy stared at her in awe and then turned back to an unreadable expression. “How did you know who I was?”
“The sorting paper had your name on it.”
“No, not that, I already guessed as much, how did you know who I was by looking in the entrance of the Great Hall?” Sirius asked.
Professor McGonagall smiled. “How could I not. I might have forgotten your face from when you first came to Hogwarts, but you were with James Potter, Harry’s son. How could I not know that was you by one look?”
Sirius seemed shocked, but composed himself quickly. “What happened after I slipped through the veil and while I was gone?”
“That’s a bit much don’t you think?” McGonagall said. “Too much to tell for five minutes and most can but summed up in your History of Magic books for this year.” She smirked.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Fine, give me a summary of what happened to Harry, Remus and Dumbledore.”
Professor McGonagall sighed. “Harry defeated Voldemort in 1998, about two years after…you left. He went on to marry Ginny and have three children; he is the current Head or all Auror’s in the Ministry. Remus married Nymphadora Tonks and has one child, Teddy Lupin, he’s a seventh year.” McGonagall paused and looked sadly at Sirius. “Remus and Tonks died in the final battle at Hogwart, Teddy was raised by Tonks’ mother for the most part, with help from Harry and Ginny.”
Sirius stood still and nodded slowly.
“I…I guessed as much on the ride over here when I met Teddy…” Sirius said slowly, this seemed a little like a lie and I wondered if he had been excited to see his old friend again. Sirius however, shook his head and seemed to repress any feelings that he was currently having. “And Dumbledore?”
“Why Sirius, how kind of you to ask about me?” I heard a voice from behind us speak.
Sirius turned around and looked back and forth and then his eyes fell upon Albus Dumbledore’s painting. He frowned. He probably got his hopes up expecting the real thing.
“So what happened to you?” Sirius said. “I figured you would still be Headmaster until the day you died. Don’t tell me you kicked the buckle? I thought you told me that you were too old to die.”
Sirius seemed bitter. I suppose the news of Remus was hard on him, but he was trying not to take it to heart.
The painting of Albus Dumbledore smiled back softly at him. “I am happy to announce that I have finally, as you put it, ‘Kicked the bucket.’” Sirius’ mouth fell open. “It turns out that even an old man like me could die. I seemed to be wrong in my initial theory I told you previously and I apologize for my mistake.”
Sirius shook his head. I wanted to put my hand on his shoulder and tell him that it was all going to be okay, but Sirius wasn’t a child.
“Sirius, time is up.” Professor McGonagall said, I think she was cutting his time short, but she appeared to think they were approaching a dangerous topic now.
“Who?” Sirius asked, assuming that Dumbledore was murdered.
Dumbledore frowned and shook his head. I could see the twinkle in his eyes vanish. “Times up Sirius, another time, another day. When you are ready.”
“Who?” Sirius asked again, almost shouting this time.
“Sirius-” I started toward him.
“It was me.” Said a dry voice from next to Dumbledore’s portrait.
Sirius’ head turned slightly to the right of Albus Dumbledore’s portrait and I froze, I could almost hear Professor McGonagall cursing in her head.
Sirius gaped at the portrait next to Dumbledore’s and then started to scream at it.
“YOU! I don’t know who in their right mind made you Headmaster after Dumbledore, but I always knew you were a snake! I always knew you would be the death of one of us and let me tell you something, Snivellus!” Sirius stepped closer to the portrait and I could imagine that if the real person had been there, they would be standing nose to nose. “I’m going to find you and kill you with my bear hands!”
The portrait of Severus Snape, the Headmaster before Professor McGonagall, started to laugh. He glared back at Sirius.
“I would like to see you try especially, considering that I’m already dead.”
Sirius stopped yelling and looked back at the portrait. “You’re dead?”
“I know you’re sad to see me go, but there is no need to cry.” Snape said to Sirius, his voice full of dry sarcasm. “Don’t worry, you’ll find other innocent victims to tease now that you get to relive your youth. Can’t imagine your excitement when you found out you get to live your glory days again…You even have a James replacement…”
“How did you die?” Sirius said trying to contain his anger.
“Sirius!” McGonagall snapped. “It has been over five minutes and these are all questions for another time.” McGonagall turned to me. “Take him back and gather the first years to take them into the Great Hall. I’ll be there momentarily.”
I nodded to Professor McGonagall and gently pushed Sirius, who was dead set on having a staring contest with Snapes portrait until he got his answers, out of the room. When we were out of her office walking door the stairs he turned to me.
I sighed. “Are you going to be this much trouble in class?”
Sirius continued to look at me. When he didn’t get the answers he was looking for he stopped in the middle of the stairs. “Tell me or I’m not coming with you.”
I sighed again. “Fine, but I’ll tell you as we walk and it’ll be the quick version. Only Harry knows all of it.”
Sirius nodded and began walking again.
“Our sixth year Voldemort sent Draco Malfoy to kill Dumbledore, he couldn’t do it so Snape did it instead, expect that was under Dumbledore’s orders.”
I looked at him. “No interrupting remember?”
“Dumbledore was dying already and didn’t want Draco to die if he failed. So Snape had to kill Dumbledore instead. Voldemort took over after that and Snape became Headmaster which was exactly what Dumbledore planned for too. Snape watched the school and kept the students safe, or as safe as they could be. During the final battle Harry, Ron and Hermione came here and the final battle started. Snape had to run away to Voldemort’s side and Voldemort killed him. I’m not too sure why, but my guess is he found out Snape was trying to help Harry.” I paused. This took me back quite a ways. “But there was something more, like I said Harry is probably the only one with the full story. But that was the major points. Snape was never bad and only acted under Dumbledore’s orders. He protected Harry until the end I guess.”
I wondered what the whole story was. There was no way this was all of it, but hopefully it would keep Sirius quiet until later.
I looked at him now. He seemed to be in deep thought.
We were almost to the entrance now and I could hear the restless first-years.
“Thank you.” Sirius said from next to me.
With that Sirius ran off and rejoined James and Fred. He smiled again, but it wasn’t as happy as the previous smile, the smile he gave off before I took him and let him know what happened to his friends no, his family…
I felt guilty for ruining the happiness that almost every first year had on this day.
I sighed and stepped forward, there was no looking back now.
“Welcome first-years, to Hogwarts, School of Wichcraft and Wizardry.” I paused. “My name is Professor Neville Longbottom.”
In the group of first-years I saw Sirius and his eyes seemed to pop out of his head hearing my name for the first time. Well, at least he remembers me.
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