Chapter 2 : An “Auf Wiedersehen” and a Wotter Invasion
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As per Teddy’s instructions, I was dropped off by my parents at King’s Cross Station.
"Ich liebe dich, Papa"
“Write to us everyday, Bärchen” my father reminded me, kissing my forehead. He calls me Bärchen because, like bears, I am quite harmless. . . unless provoked.
“Okay, Papa. Auf Wiedersehen, Mama! Ich liebe dich,” my mother's eyes shone with tears as she kissed me on both cheeks and I kissed her back.
I hugged both my parents, turned around, and with my luggage, rammed myself into a wall between platform nine and ten.
I sat down in an empty compartment at the back of the train, opened the window, and watched the crowd outside. The buzz of people talking, and waves of laughs and shouts filled my ears. One boy with messy black hair, in particular, shouted on about Teddy snogging a Victoire when the snogger himself greeted me. I laughed at his face as we heard a little red-haired girl express how much she wanted the couple get married.
“Will I be invited to the wedding?” I asked him as he got up and left. His hair matched his blush. I admit that I was more comfortable talking to him after he took me around Diagon Alley.
After he left, a pale, blonde boy quietly sat himself across me, we gave each other a silent, polite nod.
It was an agreement between two introverts that said: I accept your presence and agree to a journey of complete, awkward-less silence without offence.
Back outside the window, I saw a sea of red heads interrupted by the occasional blonde and black-haired head. There were red heads of all ages: parents and children.
“See that right there,” someone said in my ear in a poor impersonation of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. “That swarm of red heads is what is commonly known as the Wotter clan. The red headed ones especially have got a nasty temper. Watch me poke one of them.”
I turned around only to find a boy whose smile was so eerily goofy and wide. My shock took me a good seven and a half centimetres off my seat.
He waggled his eyebrows and, true to his word, he ran off the train, waved at me, and poked a redheaded girl. He was out of flailing arms’ distance before the girl could shout louder than an elephant could shriek:
“FRED WEASLEY THE SECOND, IF YOU DARE POKE ME ONE MORE TIME, I SWEAR ON MERLIN’S TEAL, POLKA-DOTTED, TOELESS SOCKS, I WILL END YOUR LIFE. . .SLOWLY!”
“LOVE YOU TOO, ROXIE!” was the reply from somewhere in the train. It was just about as loud.
This was the first of many instances in which I was to bear witness to the unimaginably powerful ability of a Wotter’s lungs, vocal folds, and articulators to work together.
The second came not too long after.
“ALL THE COMPARTMENTS ARE FULL, WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO SIT!”
The voice was getting noticeably closer to the compartment that held the pale blonde boy and myself.
At the sound of it, we looked at each other. My panic was mirrored in his face. We turned to the door slowly, in unison.
Like a scene from a horror film, we flinched as it rattled. As it opened, we took the same position: the shoulder that faced the door lifted to cover the maximum percentage of face as possible and curled up as much as still being considered sitting allowed. Still opening the door, there was a moment of loud silence until the compartment exploded with conversation.
“James, would you put your broom away, you didn’t have to bring it into the compartment with you!"
“She gets nervous on train rides, Roxanne.”
“Blimey, Al stop poking my back with your book!”
“Fred, you’re elbowing my stomach!”
“Well, you’re stomaching my elbow, Rosie.”
“Yes, mum! Sorry mum!”
The blonde boy and I looked at each other, we shared an understanding look: Maybe, if we stay quiet, they won’t notice us.
“Lucy, could you please get your pygmypuff off -- ME!”
“She’s that wiggling spherical protrusion on James’s shirt!"
“Mate, you looked like you had half a 38C for a moment there!”
“Yes, mum! Sorry, mum!"
“James, why does Edith always attach herself to you?”
“It’s not my fault that I’ve been born so handsome and charming that all unrelated females want me so much. Hey look there’s one here!”
“Oh hey, I know you!”
“Who is she, Fred?”
“Umm. . . I don’t know”
“Fred! Do you know her or not?”
During this conversation, I managed to slowly turn around without losing my eyebrows to form a new hairline. 12 eyes were focused on me, counting the still unnoticed blonde boy whose eyes said: please don’t give me out. That's 12 more unfamiliar eyes than I was comfortable with.
In seconds, I explored my options:
1. I could run
2. I could slowly turn back to face the window again
3. I could live up to my nickname, Bärchen, and growl until they leave
Instead, I looked back into each eye and said absolutely nothing because I was honestly quite frightened.
The boy next to me cleared his throat.
“Hi,” he said quietly. His furrowed eyebrows revealed that he, too was assessing the situation and considering how he should proceed. In his slight blush, slightly widened eyes, partial smile of the toothless variety, and gentle incline of his head, I saw an introvert with friendly intentions. “My name is Al.”
I smiled back at him hesitatingly.
“What my dear brother neglects to inform you is that the more of his name you know, the higher the level of dork.”
“James, leave him alone, he’s never talked to a girl before, let him have this one.”
“You’re right, sorry Al. All yours, mate. . . and make sure to introduce her to us before you propose to her.”
The incline of his head, the blush on his face, and the height of my right eyebrow increased in magnitude.
“Okay, my full name is Albus Severus Potter.”
Albus as in Dumbledore, Severus as in Snape, and Potter as in Harry Potter? How much more loaded could a name get?
“Nice to meet you Al, I’m Annett. . . Annett Sinclaire Kluge.” I introduce myself quietly.
“A net? You look quite human to me.” He lamely joked in the shyest and most quiet way possible. The angle of his eyebrows––making an obtuse, upside down v on his forehead––begged me not to be offended.
“Al, mate, are you done professing your love to her? Want to introduce her to the family?” his brother whispered obviously.
“He hasn’t gotten to that bit, yet,” I said in mock thoughtfulness. Al gave an amused “hmm.”
“Family this is Annett, Annett this is,” he introduced their names in order, going counter-clockwise, “James Sirius Potter, Roxanne, Fred, Lucy, Rose, and. . .
Al tilted his head. His family stared in silence. Scorpius shot me a helpless look and straightened up, revealing an impeccable posture. He looked around the compartment cooly, not coldly. Despite a bold stance, his eyes were wide and as he nodded around, he couldn’t hold eye contact for more than a millisecond.
Rose was the first to recover from the silent spell. Shyly smiling, she held out her hand to Scorpius.
“Rose Weasley, nice to meet you.”
I heard breathing stop as he looked at her hand for two seconds. Then, slowly he put his hand in hers and said: “Likewise.”
The rest of the ride passed quite nicely despite being ceaselessly overwhelmed ever since Teddy took me to Diagon Alley. Rose talked to Scorpius about Herbology and I partially participated in the conversation between Roxanne, James, and Fred. That is to say, I would listen, and every now and then nod, shake my head, or ask Al what his relatives meant by “Merlin’s strawberry-scented Y-fronts.”
At one point, I got up to explore the train. In my distraction, I collided into two people. They grabbed me. They squeezed me up to the point just before my lungs collapsed. They shrieked into my ear.
My heart thudded against my chest. I felt myself go stone-still. Is this how I panic?
Daisy and Dahlia. What a coincidence. I let them continue to squeeze the air out of my lungs in my bewildered state, I keep very still, more than just a little uncomfortable with the contact.
Our brief conversation consisted primarily of this:
“I can’t believe you’re here!”
"OMG THIS IS GOING TO BE SO AWESOME!"
When it matters most, Daisy and Dahlia are the sweetest people I had ever known. When it doesn’t, they’re out to shatter my ossicular chains.
“Where is your compartment?” Dahlia asked.
I led them to the compartment. I opened the door and they shrieked some more.
“You know them?” I asked.
“Of course, silly. We’re cousins. Well. . .technically second cousins. Our dad is their dad’s cousin.” Daisy informed me.
That's why the name Harry Potter sounded so familiar when Teddy first mentioned him to me.
I nodded and turned to Al and James. They were busy being smothered by their second-cousins. These cousins were busy trying to shriek the ears off their heads. My level of discomfort increased at the volume of sound. I flinched.
“Well. . .We better get going, Alastair McLaggen is going to show us how to play exploding snap. Toodles!"
“Lindström Ahlberg,” Headmistress McGonagall called, beginning the Sorting Ceremony. She placed the old hat that had just just sung an amusing little tune on Ahlberg’s head.
“Ravenclaw!” The hat shouted.
There was cheering from the respective tables. Houses were separated into four different tables as customary on the first night in Hogwarts.
I was later to learn that the Creeveys were also related to the Wotters. Dominique, Louis, and Victoire’s aunt, Gabrielle Delacour, had married Dennis Creevey.
While even more names were called, I looked around. Already this strange, and very large place with so many unfamiliar people unnerved me. I, with Scorpius and another student whose name I never cared to know, had taken a boat across a lake in which unfamiliar species probably resided in.
I was getting closer to the boisterous hat and the stool that attracted hundreds of pairs of eyes.
I focused on the floor as the next few names were called. Even as my own name was called.
I heard a voice in my head, I knew the words, I knew that much English, but with my heart beating loudly, nervousness coursing though my blood vessels, I could only store the words in my head to come back to it later. Later, when I wasn't in the middle of so much frightening attention.
I walked quietly to the table that cheered. The names of these "houses" still very unfamiliar and foreign to me.
I sat far from everyone else, no longer paying much attention to the Sorting.
Scorpius seats himself next to me, also made nervous by the crowd. Awkwardless silence ensues.
I observe the floating candles, the twinkling pinpoints of light on the ceiling--are they stars? I clap whenever I hear Scorpius doing so.
Al gave a small smile, walking down the Great Hall after many names. His family clapped and James gave a lonely, but loud and supportive “Whoop!”
“Gryffindor!” shouted the sorting hat.
Al took his place next to me after his name was called and he was sorted and we watched the rest of the ceremony.
At the Ravenclaw table, there was loud cheering by Al’s cousins, Louis, Dominique, and Molly. Al pointed them out to me. How many cousins can one person have? On the same table, Scorpius pointed out his cousin: the newly sorted Clinton Corner.
Al pointed to the Hufflepuff table at Daisy and Dahlia.
“More cousins. . .but you know them already.”
“Does that explain why, earlier, it sounded like a horde of Banshees were out to get you, shrieking your name for all of Scotland to hear?” Scorpius asked with a smirk.
I gave my confirmation via nodding.
In an instant, food had appeared on the table. Like a hungry, but well-mannered Bärchen, I indulged my taste buds to a wide variety of traditional Scottish food.
Sitting on my bed that night, writing a letter to my parents, I thought back to the Sorting Hat.
“You’re a clever one, aren’t you? Very quiet with a bubbling underlayer of mischief. Oh and very curious. They say curiosity killed the cat. Good thing you’re not a Gryffie.” I wasn't too sure what it all meant. Part of that was due to my English. I knew English well enough to have considered myself fluent, but some phrases and words seemed strange to me. Bubbling underlayer? How did it know me so well, anyhow?
My thoughts were interrupted by a screaming Indra Thomas. “WHO TOOK MY CONDITIONER?!”
“Why don’t you check that landfill of a trunk of yours?” came the cool reply from Imogen Baddock.
I was exhausted. Despite the enjoyable conversations I had that day, it was all too much. I was severely worn out.
My dorm mates hadn’t said a word to me. One look at their one look at my suitcase (so obviously not a trunk) and I understood that they thought I was strange and didn’t quite yet know what to make of me. In my exhaustion, I didn’t bother to consciously take any measures to give them any hints.
What sort of stangeness would I witness over the next few years in this already odd school, this odd world?
Very strange things, indeed as I discovered.
I got to learn the inner workings of an actual school. It wasn’t the type of education I was used to. Suddenly, I had classrooms to get to on time. I had school schedules! Not the kind of ‘learn what I want to, when I want to, how I want to as long as I learn’ type of education anymore. That was rather disappointing.
The knowledge I acquired was quite the opposite. Over the years, I had successfully combined what I learnt from Hogwarts with what I know of science. This gave me an easy position, top of the class in Transfiguration. Although given copious amounts of homework by Professor Amelio, I could maintain my position with ease.
In Potions, Al and I were always going back and forth for that position. We weren’t competitive, we just sat next to each other, respected each other’s need for silence, and worked. Forever maintaining the stereotype of potions-proficient Slytherins. I likened the highly precise methods of Potion-making to chemistry experiments--however unfamiliar the materials--and then it became easier.
Easily passing most of my classes with satisfactory grades, I began to spend a lot of time outside the concern of it. I did just enough work to be around average. Whether that be slightly above in Charms, or nicely beyond in Potions and Transfiguration. I stopped caring about my grades much after the first year. I had my priorities straight and I followed them. Science, exploring, school, then mischief-making (although that was just a way to practice simple, real-world science with the added benefit of abundant amusement).
I explored the library more than any other part of the castle. In fact, I found a secret room behind a large tapestry on the back wall of the library.
Keeping it to myself, I cleaned it out and managed to make my own private study room out of it––everywhere else was much too loud.
In my secret room, I could read books without interruption. Books and sometimes even scrolls and ancient tablets regarding magical diseases, the evolution of magic, the very concept of magic, and complex transfiguration.
The latter fascinated me so much that, knowing how much of an expert Headmistress McGonagall was in Transfiguration, I took the matter to her. I bombarded her with questions about Animagi and I pleaded with her to help me develop my own Animagus form in my own, very shy way of bombarding someone with questions.
Occasionally, a person I knew would ask if I wanted to hang out (mostly a Weasley, a Malfoy, or a Potter), but there was too much to read, too much to explore, too much to do. They were all very intelligent, thoughtful, and kind human-beings, but sometimes it all got too much for me. It can get a bit. . .annoying as well as overwhelming. There are just so many of them. Such copious company can exhaust me. I did spend some time with a house elf and a cat and sometimes I did tutor a student.
Otherwise, I kept my peer interactions per week to at least five. I had too much to do outside the concern of being a social butterfly. Rather than partake in any sort of parties that seemed to be quite popular around the school, I indulged myself in looking for answers to my own questions:
What could I do with magic?
What is the fundamental theorem of transfiguration?
Are there any other secret passages or rooms in this school?
What differentiates a magical being from a non-magical being?
On a molecular level, do magical occurrences follow the same rules as non-magical ones?
Is magic a characteristic that evolved multiple times in different kingdoms of life, was it the result of convergent evolution, or do magical beings make a completely different domain of life?
Is magic a genetic mutation in muggle-borns or is it inherited, hidden as a recessive trait and only appearing when two carriers produce an offspring?
On the cellular level, is it possible to differentiate a pure-blood or half-blood from a muggle-born or a muggle?
Do magical diseases work similarly to non-magical ones?
Which biological system functions in magical ability? My hypothesis is the nervous system, but. . .
Can I use what I know of science with magic beyond the theory I have only written of in Transfiguration class?
I expanded my scientific knowledge over the summers, as I expanded my magical knowledge during the school year. During one of those summers, before fourth year, I focused on the transfiguration of different forms of carbon. I theorised that if I knew the different allotropes of pure carbon, with enough concentration, I could change one allotrope into the other, without necessarily having to know what to incantate. Graphite in pencils to diamonds, for example.
The first week back in my private study room, I did it. I looked at my wand: pine, dragon heartstring, 13 and a half inches, slightly springy. I was told that it liked being used creatively and flamboyantly.
I used magic to subject the pencil to enormous amounts of pressure, willing the carbon atoms to separate and reform, every single bond.
Long days and nights of just staring at a pencil finally paid off: the wood of the pencil exploded, sending shrapnels of wood flying, to reveal a rough, discoloured diamond underneath.
It wasn't perfect, but it worked. It wasn't a life-changing, world-saving feat. In fact, my conclusions excited me more than my success.
I realised the implications of this experiment:
Firstly, magic and science do mix. They mix beautifully and not just in theory.
Secondly, non-verbal magic works regardless of whether or not there is an existing spell. I just have to concentrate hard enough. I just have to know exactly what is happening. Using all that my parents have taught me, I could make this work for me.
It wasn't even very advanced. I just had to ensure that there were no interruptions and no distractions. This is exactly what my private study gave me.
Thirdly, maybe, I could take carbon dioxide from the air, and if I subject it to the right conditions, I could produce pure diamonds and oxygen gas as a byproduct. I could create yellow diamonds by contaminating it with nitrogen, blue diamonds with boron, green diamonds by exposing it to electromagnetic waves.
Using the same principle, I could create life from air (given that I know the complete molecular structure of a cell, much less the whole organism. This one would take a while given that I don’t know the molecular structure of a complete, fully-functioning cell. There was also debate concerning the moral implications and Ministry regulations of the whole issue and I didn’t want to get involved).
Taking this concept to a subatomic level, would it be possible for me to turn one atom into another by adding or taking away electrons, protons, and neutrons from an atom?
Not for the first time, I accomplished a seemingly complicated task in a simple way. Efficient. My parents were so proud.
Now that I know this, could I apply it to self-Transfiguration?
As it turns out, before Christmas, on my fifth year, as a result of thousands of hours of practice, I managed to reorganise my tissues and organs into a recognisable figure.
My jaw elongated, my whole body shrunk, My ears grew, my spine stretched into a tail. Suddenly I lost my bipedal ability, but my hearing and my sense of smell improved. I became a Vulpes velox. It was in this form that I explored the castle in the wee small hours of the morning.
After a while, I also got the hang of enchanting my clothes to stay on during my transformation. Because it would have been a waste of time and energy, I didn't transform every article of clothing I had.
Just to clarify, the first few chapters are in past tense because Annett is retrospecting for our convenience: we get to explore her character, her mode of thought, and her perspective of other characters.
In the next chapter, she starts the internal monologue of her present.
Thank you for reading thus far, if you have. I hope you enjoy it. Regardless of whether or not you do, I would like to hear from you: what you think about Annett so far or the story in general, where you think I might go with this, and if you have any questions or concerns.
Auf Wiedersehen - until we meet again; equivalent to goodbye only difference being that it lacks the sense of finality to it
Bärchen - little bear; it's a term of endearment
Ich liebe dich - I love you
Vulpus velox - swift fox
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