Chapter 13 : Two of a Kind
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I was selected to go in a carriage when about of three quarters of the students still remained on the train. As a prefect, it was my duty to accompany younger students to the castle, so I sat amongst second year Slytherins and Professor Hopkins.
“What’s going on, sir?” I asked. Whenever I blinked, I saw the Runes etched onto the station’s wall.
Professor Hopkins, our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, took off his horn-rimmed glasses and cleaned them on his royal blue robes. The second years looked apprehensively over at us as the carriage rattled its way towards Hogwarts The noise of travel hid the hungry rumbles from my stomach.
“We still trying to figure it out,” Professor Hopkins answered, sighing. “The Aurors will give us updates when they can. For now, our first priority is to get all students to the castle.” His tone implied that I was not to ask any further probing questions, so I hid my hands under my cloak and wrung them together until we arrived at Hogwarts.
The first years were seated at makeshift tables in the entrance hall. Plates of sandwiches were there, and a few of the students were nervously picking at them. My heart lifted a little when I spotted Helen, who was sitting with a group of girls, who were whispering intensely amongst themselves.
In the Great Hall, there, too, were plates of sandwiches on the tables. It looked like there wasn’t going to be a feast tonight. I found myself disappointed at the prospect; it was supposed to be James’ final welcoming feast.
Once all students in years two through seven were seated in the Great Hall, Professor McGonagall updated us.
“Before we begin the Sorting ceremony,” she began sternly, her sharp eyes glancing around the Hall, “I would like to announce that the welcoming feast will be held tomorrow night due to this evening’s events. We do not have all of the information about what transpired at Hogsmeade station, but we are working closely with the Ministry to get things resolved. You and your parents will be updated as we receive more information.”
She paused, and there was absolute silence in the Great Hall, which was an extremely rare occurrence. Victoria squeezed my hand from underneath the table.
“That being said, I ask you all to support the new first year students, since their reception to Hogwarts has been drastically different from your own. Remember that, and help them adjust to Hogwarts as I’m sure you will do amongst yourselves.” Her words sent a chill through the Great Hall as Professor Flitwick led in the first years.
I stayed awake for most of that night. As I listened to the girls in my year slowly fall into slumber, I pondered that evening’s events. James and I hadn’t gotten to speak after our last encounter on the train; we only caught each other’s gaze on our way to our dormitories and we both mouthed ‘Tomorrow.’
Helen got into Hufflepuff, like her mother. That was my favorite moment of the evening, to see her so relieved after such a stressful day.
But Helen’s happiness paled in comparison to the horror bubbling in my stomach. What exactly happened at the Hogsmeade train station? Why were the Runes written on the wall with the symbol of the Deathly Hallows? I envisioned my mother, lurking in the shadows just moments before Hagrid arrived to greet the Hogwarts Express, writing the Runes on the wall, performing some advanced and little known magic. Had she been there this evening? For the first time in years, I had the urge to write to her. But what good would that have done? She might not have answered, or if she did, I wouldn’t have liked what she had to say.
In a rush of madness, I got ink, a quill, and some parchment. Instead of writing to my mother--a decision that I made when my heart rate went back to normal-- I jotted down the Runes from the train station’s wall. I couldn’t remember the exact markings of the last one, but I would know it when I saw it. Even so, in the darkness on a wrinkled piece of parchment, the Runes were ominous. Maybe I could do some research tomorrow after classes…
Morning finally came, though I didn’t know it until Victoria shook me awake. “We’re going to miss breakfast!” she hissed before going back to her things to apply some make up.
I slowly sat up, already regretting the little sleep I had gotten the night before. Summer had been such a great time to lie in almost every morning. Those days were now gone. In a sleepy daze, I rummaged around for my school uniform.
Victoria and I made our way to the Great Hall, where we sat with Penelope Holloway, Ben Avery, and Hyam Lucas, all Slytherins in our year. They were discussing the possibilities of last night’s events.
“It’s gotta be something dangerous,” Ben said almost gleefully. “Otherwise it wouldn’t’ve taken so long to get off the train and we would have actually had our welcoming feast.”
“Maybe a dangerous creature got loose in the streets of Hogsmeade,” suggested Penelope, who was well known for her distaste of all animals.
“Or some terrible accident, too gruesome for our eyes to see,” Victoria added, spreading jam on a slice of toast. “Here,” she told me as she dropped it onto my plate. “Your plate is empty. Are you even going to have something to drink?”
“Huh?” I yawned, looking down at the table. My thoughts were still on the Hogsmeade train station. I didn’t want to share what I saw with my classmates; I figured that they would find out soon enough. “Oh, yeah…”
“A new diet?” Penelope asked, raising her eyebrows suggestively. “For the new boyfriend?”
I rolled my eyes. “No,” I replied sternly. “Just too tired to eat much at the moment.” I picked up the toast and ate a large chunk of it as Penelope watched. “And he’s not a new boyfriend,” I added between bites.
“Uh-huh,” Penelope said in a sing-song voice. “But you don’t really talk much about it.”
I shrugged. “What is there to say?”
“Um, what about how you got to start snogging one of the most popular boys at Hogwarts?” she told me, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. She waved her dirty blonde hair over her shoulder and leaned towards me. “And Victoria refuses to say much about it--thanks a lot, Victoria.”
“You’re welcome,” Victoria said sweetly before sipping her coffee.
“Let’s change the subject. Wouldn’t want to bore the boys,” I added as I poured some pumpkin juice.
“No, actually, I’m quite curious about it myself,” Hyam insisted. Ben nodded next to him.
It was a good thing that Professor McGonagall chose that moment to gather our attention. I didn’t have enough energy to quell their curiosity.
“Good morning, everyone,” she said crisply. Silence quickly fell over the Hall. The toast rested uncomfortably in my stomach. “We have been updated this morning on what happened last night. It is with a heavy heart that I announce that there was a double murder at the Hogsmeade train station. Our own Hagrid came across the crime scene.”
Immediately, an ocean of whispers filled the Hall. Ben, Hyam, and Victoria all leaned in towards Penelope and began speculating. In my mind’s eye, I saw the dark masses that the witches and wizards were standing over when James and I went to see the Runes. Chills traveled up and down my spine.
Professor McGonagall silenced the students with raised hand. “After consulting with the Ministry, we have decided that it was not an attack directly towards the school, but we must take necessary action. Absolutely under no circumstances will students be out of bounds at all this term.” Her eyes lingered at the Gryffindor table, to where James was sitting. “And any rule breaking will be met with the swiftest of consequences.” Her eyes came to the Slytherin table, to where Albus Potter was sitting. “All Hogsmeade weekends are tentatively scheduled to still happen, but we reserve the right to cancel them at a moment’s notice.”
This sparked outrage amongst the older students. “No bloody way. I can’t stay cooped up here all year!” Ben cried. Professor McGonagall once again got everyone’s attention.
“The staff, faculty, and ghosts of Hogwarts are on high alert. Be sure to report any suspicious activity to a teacher should you come across anything.” My stomach dropped at hearing that, uncertain if my mother had anything to do with these events. “I trust that you all will stay vigilant. Do enjoy your first day of classes.”
And with that, there was a polite round of applause, and then the Hall brimmed with speculation on who could have been murdered. Soon enough, we got back to our breakfasts and then professors handed out schedules. I was pleased to see that I had Ancient Runes on Tuesdays and Fridays, which was nicely spaced apart.
Then, things got worse as the owl post came. Not every student received a subscription of The Daily Prophet, but within minutes, everyone was gazing down at that morning’s copy.
DOUBLE DOUBLE MURDERS: TWO SETS OF KILLINGS AT TWO DIFFERENT MAGICAL SCHOOLS
Hogwarts wasn’t the only school to have a double murder so close to its gates. Beauxbatons in France had one, too. Both sets of victims were couples: a witch and a Muggle (Kelly and Patrick Finnigan from Ireland and Marie and Pierre Augustin from France). And at both crime scenes, as thinly described in the article, were the same set of Runes.
James and I made eye contact in the sea of students. I was positive that his facial expression matched mine: what the hell did we get ourselves into?
When I see the headline flash from the table of gossiping witches, my blood boils. I know that this day has been coming, but that does not make it any less anger inducing. I am in Diagon Alley’s bakery, which is in the shop that used to be Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.
A middle-aged witch finishes paying for some doughnuts, and I approach the counter, letting my hair fall into my face. I don’t want anyone recognizing me. I order some bread and pastries for Ollivander and his grandson, who arrived yesterday to help take care of him.
“That’ll be a Galleon and 2 Sickles,” the wizard behind the counter says cheerily.
I carefully place the money into his extended hand, avoiding his gaze.
“Receipt?” he asks, and I shake my head. There’s another witch standing behind me, so I sidestep and make my way towards the front of the shop. In the corner of my eye, I see the headline from Witch Weekly.
Pointing my wand at the pitcher of lemonade by the front door. A young family enters the bakery at the precise moment that my spell shatters the pitcher, sending lemonade everywhere. I really couldn’t have timed it any better.
“Miles!” sighs the young wizard father, pulling his son out of the mess. It’s clear that his father thinks that he was the one who knocked over the pitcher. The boy merely laughs as his sister slips in the lemonade. I bump into the table of witches to avoid getting splashed, and the force of my collision knocks over a cup of coffee.
“Terribly sorry!” I exclaim as two of the witches shriek to avoid the brown liquid. I rest my bag onto the table, as if I was losing my grip from the chaos of the spilled beverages.
I make my way from the table with the copy of Witch Weekly underneath my bag. Stepping over the wizard with the mop, I slink outside and hurry to Ollivander’s shop with a racing heart.
Trance-like, I deliver the pastries and bread before making my excuses to leave early for the day. With the article tucked securely under my jacket, I make my way into Muggle London. There is still a little construction work left to be done from the recent attack, and I hurry past it as bile rises in my throat.
I weave my way through the streets, wondering at the flashings lights and speeding automobiles. Many hustling Muggles maneuver the streets, most of whom are on their mopile phones, as I think they’re called. I can keep up with the steady flow until I find a park.
Today is a rare sunny day for autumn. Most of the leaves have changed and have fallen off branches. Above the noisy traffic of the city around me, I savor the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet. The musky scent calms me, and I find a bench to sit on.
I smooth over the magazine, turning to the right page. James’ face stares back at me, but the photograph chosen does not contain his usual laughing smile. He looks rather sullen and almost foreboding. Further down the page, my stomach clenches as I see a picture of myself on Platform 9 3/4 and of the Potter family at what must have been some wizarding event a few years ago.
I’m not ready for this, but I must face it at some time or another.
IS JAMES POTTER THE NEXT DARK WIZARD?
An Exclusive Article by Rita Skeeter, Honored Special Guest Correspondent for Witch Weekly
This is the million Galleon question, my fair and lovely readers: Is James Potter, son of renowned Auror and Saviour of the Wizarding World Harry Potter, the next Dark wizard?
James was spotted at the scene of the crime earlier this week at the NeoGrindelwald attack right at the doorstep of The Leaky Cauldron. The former rising Quidditch star hadn’t been previously seen for months, and his reemergence into the wizarding world raises many questions.
It is not easy burden to be a Potter (just ask James’ younger brother, Albus). With a father as the Saviour of the Wizarding World and a mother as an internationally known Quidditch journalist, the pressure for success must weigh heavily on the young Potters’ shoulders. But is that really motive to join an anti-Muggle movement, especially when both parents are pro-Muggle? Is this betrayal the ultimate teenage rebellion?
One only has to look at his budding career to find some questionable aspects. Being a professional Quidditch player takes lots of time, training, and resilience. The greats like Gwenog Jones and Viktor Krum have mentioned that it has taken everything within them to train, that they didn’t have much time for anything else (though, to be fair, Krum did have that saucy affair with Minister for Magic Hermione Granger-Weasley while potentially dating Harry Potter). But did James Potter stick to Jones’ and Krum’s regimen? Some former team members noted that when they were traveling, James would disappear for a few hours every so often. He claimed he needed to clear his head for the game, but a couple sources remember seeing him head towards some of the seedier parts of the wizarding world throughout Europe. Were this little excursions really to clear his head or was he meeting up with a more sinister bunch?
Alas, my dear readers, the plot thickens when you look at James’ heartbreaking past romance. In addition to extreme family expectations on Harry Potter’s end and to the “time consuming” training of a Quidditch player, it is well known that James had a Hogwarts sweetheart. Yours truly has even reported on it in the past. The witch in question is none other than Miss Amelia Fortescue, whose past is as murky as James’ present. Amelia seems to be struggling to find her own way while living in the legacy of a popular grandfather, who ran an ice cream shop years ago in Diagon Alley. With unkempt hair, an unsightly back tattoo, and all the signs of early onset aging, Amelia spends her time working part time as a wandseller.
It’s curious to note her current employment, considering her involvement in last February's Skirmish of Farstead Chapel. The official Ministry statement about Amelia at this deadly fight is that she “got caught in the crossfires between Ministry officials and NeoGrindelwalds.” Is that really the case? Her mother, Rita Fortescue, who shares only a name and nothing else with yours truly, is a well known leader in the anti-Muggle movement. And her father, one “John Smith,” whose own funeral sparked the events at Farstead Chapel, was also a wizard of notorious regard. With parents so vehemently opposed to Muggles and with herself “caught in the crossfires,” has Amelia lead James Potter to the Dark side? Was it her femme fatale charm (which, if it exists, remains dormant these days) that lured him? Or was James a Dark wizard all along and used her as a mere puppet? Or are they two of a kind, both into the Dark Arts, only for Amelia to be the one who has apparently been left behind?
It’s hard to say, though Amelia has now become a bit of a drifter. What is she waiting for? She’s not the only one waiting. The Potter family has taken James’ disappearance as a blow. Rumor has it that Harry and Ginny are living separately, which suggests a crumbling marriage, though an argument can be made that it was only a matter of time before that happened. And what about James’ younger siblings? Is Albus, who is already the odd one out as the only Slytherin Potter child, remaining secluded as ever as he faces his final year at Hogwarts? And is Lily, who is young and beautiful if not a bit childish, able to fulfill the teenage whims of a bubbly girl? The future of the Potter family—and the entire wizarding world— remains uncertain in the wake of James’ betrayal.
My hands tremble as I finish reading the article. A cool breeze threatens to turn the page in the magazine, but I keep a firm hold on the pages. The sun now hides behind a thin sheet of clouds, casting a gray light on the world around me.
Is James Potter, son of renowned Auror and Saviour of the Wizarding World Harry Potter, the next Dark wizard? Not if I can help it. My time to fight back is now.
“I can’t believe it!” I complained as James escorted me to Transfiguration. It was the final day of the first week of classes, and the school was abuzz with gossip. “Here at Hogwarts and then at Beauxbatons, we have actual murders with mysterious Runes and Grindelwald’s sign to boot. But is that the juicy topic everyone’s talking about? No.” I scoffed at a group of fifth year Gryffindors walking past us, who were eying us with intensity too keen for my liking. “They’re talking about us!”
James shrugged. “Well, it is kind of a big deal,” he said matter-of-factly as he looked down at my scowl.
“Why? It’s not like we’ve just started dating. We got together last spring. It’s old news,” I told him. We began to ascend a staircase.
“Take a look at us, though,” James said. The staircase began to move, causing a sound of alarm from the first years a few steps below us. I grabbed onto the railing to keep my balance. “I’m a Gryffindor. You’re a Slytherin.”
“Your point being?”
“Gryffindors and Slytherins have a long history of not getting along. And consider my family. I come from a long line of Gryffindor Weasley’s, and I’m Harry Potter’s son. Dating a girl from my family’s rival house is huge news,” James explained.
I furrowed my brow and adjusted my bag as we reached the top of the stairs. The new path we had to take to the Transfiguration room would be a few minutes longer now that the staircase moved directions. “But your brother, who also comes from a long line of Gryffindors and is also Harry Potter’s son, is in Slytherin. Surely that means that it’s not a big deal.”
“Er… no, not really. It’s caused a lot of shock and tension. I mean, Albus has always been kind of the black sheep of the family, so it just goes to show. Besides, Slytherin has produced the most Dark wizards and either supported or enabled Voldemort to rise to power--”
“And is that what you think about Slytherins? That they—we-- could end up being Dark wizards?” I interrupted defensively.
James hesitated. “Well, if you take a look at the past--”
“Yeah, I have,” I snapped sarcastically.
“Then you’ll see why it’s a big deal,” he said exasperatedly. “The Founders split ways, and now Gryffindors and Slytherins rarely mesh. That’s why I acted so precariously when I realized I liked you.”
I stopped walking, but it took James a few paces to notice.
“If you were so precarious, then why did you stick around?” I glowered as he approached. I was vaguely aware that there were still other students milling around in the hall and that they were probably looking. But all I could focus on what James, who looked like he was still trying to piece together why I was so upset.
“Well, I… I thought that you might be different…” James said. He had a slight blush crawling up his neck, and I had an urge to laugh at it.
“And am I ‘different?’ Have I surpassed your prejudices of the abhorrent Slytherin House?” I wondered savagely, taking a step closer to him.
“Who said anything about prejudices?” he demanded. He, too, took a step towards me, displaying his full height.
“You!” I said hotly.
“Me? All I’ve been saying is that there’s a long history of the two Houses not getting along, so it’s surprising to see two people date--”
“And that you were uncertain when you thought you fancied me, and you acted on that uncertainty! Because of my House! That is prejudice.” I folded my arms, clenching my fists into my elbows.
James glared down at me, but I did not deter from his gaze. “But weren’t you skeptical when you realized that you fancied me?”
I rolled my eyes. “I was skeptical about other things, like whether or not you fancied me back--”
“Oh, come on. Are you saying that you didn’t think of my House at all before we got together?”
I opened my mouth to retort, but I stopped mid-breath. Had I thought about James being in Gryffindor when I had first fancied him? I remembered acknowledging that he was more popular than I was and that he had different interests than me. It was the other students who brought up Houses. “No, I don’t think so,” I said coolly. “Just that we are in different social circles.”
“Which link back to being in different Houses,” James insisted.
Rolling my eyes again, I snapped, “Why are you obsessing over Houses? If you take a look at the past, it’s caused the school lots of strain and conflict! It’s a wonder why we even still have them.”
“Are you suggesting that Hogwarts shouldn’t have Houses?”
“Yeah, maybe I am.” I lifted my chin defiantly. James’ mouth twitched as his face reddened. We were standing inches away from each other, and I could feel the anger radiating from his body.
“But that would be throwing centuries’ worth of tradition away! We would be steering away from the Founders’ vision of the school! How would we do House points? How would we divide into Quidditch teams? What would happen to House ghosts? And the common rooms? And--?”
“Look,” I interrupted tersely, “my point is that the division into Houses has pitted students against each other and has created stereotypes for people in every House. And people take these stereotypes seriously--”
“But how can stereotypes not be created?” James interjected. He ran a hand through his already messy hair. “We’re Sorted on our personality traits, so of course similarly-minded people tend to be in the same House! The rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin goes back hundreds of years, and you can’t just disregard how that affects things today.”
“But it shouldn’t matter if a Gryffindor and a Slytherin date! I don’t understand why it’s still such a big deal and why people consistently drag it out when it’s none of their business!”
“Your point doesn’t translate well to the reality of things,” James said. He moved slightly, and our hands brushed against each other, which sent a spark of energy up my arm. I took a small step back.
“Are you saying that I’m delusional?”
James leaned forward and said, “No! I’m saying that you’re refusing to consider people’s actual opinions and perceptions because you don’t agree with them—”
“And you’re enabling these actual opinions and perceptions by accepting them as reality!”
“But it’s true! Every House has its values and perceptions, and by refusing to accept doesn’t change things at all. It makes it worse for you.”
“You want to use Houses as your basis of argument? Fine,” I began. I titled my heads upward, so close that I could feel James’ breaths on my cheeks. “It’s so much easier for you, a Gryffindor, to accept the status quo because Gryffindor is generally highly regarded amongst the general population. Maybe it’s harder for me, a Slytherin, to accept the status quo because Slytherin is not highly regarded by the general population. And I feel the brunt of this regard!”
“Well, can you blame the status quo? Slytherins are about blood purity--”
“Some of them!” I hissed. “And what about those of us who are against discriminating based on blood status? Yes, Slytherins have a long history of hateful actions, but how can we be accepted by the other Houses if these grudges are held against us? That only perpetuates more resentment between Houses and more discrimination!”
“But how can the other Houses accept aspects of a House which are fueled in discrimination? Salazar Slytherin didn’t want Muggleborn students, and almost a thousand years later Voldemort happened. Nothing like that should ever happen again, so we can’t--”
“Don’t you see that it’s already happening?” I cried. “Look at what’s happened this week at the wizarding schools! But all anyone bloody cares about is gossiping about the rivalry of our Houses or pondering how on earth I could have bewitched someone like you or debating how much time we spend studying versus doing other, more intimate things. It bloody pisses me off!”
“Amelia--” James reached towards my shoulder.
“Don’t!” My voice cracked. “I’m going now. I have class.”
“See you in Ancient Runes, then!” James called after me. The anger and annoyance were there in his tone, but what infuriated me was his insistence in giving a normal farewell.
“Fine, whatever!” I huffed.
“Fine!” he called back.
A/N: Anything you recognize belongs to JKR!
Another update! This one was really interesting to write, since I had to lay out some important plot points that will lead us into the next portion of the story. I didn't get everything I wanted into this chapter, so I had to divide it again! For a teaser for the next chapter, I shall give you the title: The Mistranslation. ;)
So what are your thoughts? What do the Runes at Hogsmeade mean? What will Amelia's next move in the present be? What is your stance on the great "Should there be Hogwarts Houses" debate? Please leave your thoughts in a review! :)
Stay wonderful, everyone!
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