Chapter 4 : Head Girl
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Mum was uncharacteristically quiet as she served bacon and eggs to Albus and a half-asleep Lily. Dad was reading the Prophet, sighing and shaking his head every so often. Albus attempted to read the back of it, but it was too wrinkled to read it properly. The back of the page Dad was reading contained the MLE Blotter, which was always good for a laugh.
“What is it, Harry?” Ginny asked as she sat down with her own plate.
Dad sighed, folded the paper, and set it down next to his mug. “Nothing good. Two more members of the Wizengamot have resigned in protest over the Boone disaster. But if they keep resigning at this rate we’ll only be left with the crazies.”
“Why are they resigning now?” Mum asked. “Boone was convicted months ago.”
“Guilty conscience?” Dad suggested. “Either that or they truly had no idea of the discrimination out there against werewolves and they’re just now learning about it.”
“What about the bloke who actually did it?” Lily asked. “The Squib?”
“He’s under house arrest,” Dad explained. “No one’s sure whether it’s legal to hold a Squib in Azkaban since Azkaban is a wizard prison. At least, that’s what his attorney keeps insisting, and since it doesn’t specifically say Squibs are to be kept in Azkaban if they’ve broken the law, the Aurors can’t keep him there. It’s a huge mess. I don’t imagine it’ll go to trial for months.”
“Well, does the law specifically state werewolves are to be in Azkaban?” Lily asked.
Dad grinned. “Excellent point, Lily. You might have a future in law.”
Lily screwed up her face. “No thank you. It’s dead boring.”
“So, it wasn’t legal for Boone to be in Azkaban in the first place? I mean, aside from the fact that he was innocent?” Albus asked.
“No one’s sure, Al. When the law was written, wizarding Britain was very wizard-centric. I’ve told you about the old statue in the Ministry, right? So the laws only specified wizards and witches, not Squibs, goblins, house elves, vampires, giants, trolls, ghosts, poltergeists, or werewolves. Later on, all of them, save for Squibs, were categorized into beings, beasts, or spirits, hence those divisions in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”
“And werewolves are considered beasts,” Albus interjected.
“Exactly. So, technically, Boone probably couldn’t be legally held in Azkaban, regardless of whether he was innocent or guilty, because he’s not considered a “being.”
“Well, that’s not right,” Lily said.
“No, it isn’t,” Dad said, pausing to take a sip of coffee. “And their status has gone back and forth for centuries. Last change was in the 1940s if I’m remembering right. It can only be a worldwide change, it has to go through the International Confederation of Wizards and not all countries were in agreement.”
“What about goblins and house elves and the others?” Lily asked.
“Goblins are considered beings, but since they’ve got their own magic and rules and morals, they don’t particularly care how wizards organize their government. House elves, thanks mostly to your aunt Hermione, were granted being status when you were all very little. As for trolls and giants, well, they don’t particularly care either way. Vampires have campaigned for a change a few times. Ghosts and poltergeists will always be spirits because that’s a fact.”
“But-“ Lily began.
“We’ve got to go,” Mum interrupted as she stood up. “The train leaves in forty-five minutes.”
Albus was surprised at how much interest his sister was showing in the categorization of beasts, beings, and spirits, especially for someone who claimed to find the law boring. He found the entire thing vaguely sickening. Werewolves and vampires were human, so shouldn’t that in itself cause them to be considered “beings” in the eyes of the law?
“Is James up?” Dad asked.
“His door was shut when I came down,” Albus said as he brought his empty dishes to the sink. “I don’t think he’ll want to go to the station. Too many people staring.”
“Can’t say I blame him there,” Dad said.
Albus felt extremely grown up Apparating by himself to King’s Cross. As he pushed his trolley through the throngs of younger students, he felt another wave of nostalgia, unable to believe that it had been six years since his first journey to Hogwarts. He could easily pick the first years out of the crowd. They were the ones standing close to their parents, gazing at the scarlet engine with equal parts apprehension and excitement.
Rose, Albus was confident, was already on the train. Being Head Girl, she had probably been the first one on the platform. She was probably mentally rehearsing her speech that she would give the prefects in half an hour’s time. Rose had been preparing to be Head Girl since she was five.
“I want both of you to make sure you study hard this year,” Mum said. “O.W.L. year is not a year you can slack off, Lily. And Al, I know you know that the Auror Department will rescind your acceptance if you don’t get the required N.E.W.T.s.”
That was something Albus had been trying not to think about.
“But, Al, we’ll love you whether you’re accepted or not,” Mum added.
“Yeah, no pressure, Al,” Lily said, grinning.
No pressure. That’s what everyone had been telling him all summer. No pressure except all the pressure from all of his family members.
“I better go find Hugo,” Lily said. “Bye, Mum.”
Mum gave Lily a hug and then she was off, disappearing into the crowd.
“I’m serious about the no pressure thing,” Mum said once Lily was gone. “The Academy is nearly impossible to get into. We’ll support you no matter what. And if you need any help with your application, Dad will help.”
Dad had stayed behind with James, who had woken up with a migraine. Albus knew already he wouldn’t ask for any help with his application. He wished he could apply anonymously, so he’d know whether it was his skill or his name getting him in.
“Oh, I can’t believe you’re a seventh year,” Mum said. Her eyes were glistening.
Albus knew he had to make this quick or else she’d be sobbing all over him. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “But I’ve got to go. Rose will kill me if I’m late to her meeting.”
Mum laughed. “Yes, yes, you’re right. Goodbye, Al. Keep me updated on your application.”
“I will,” Albus said.
“I love you, Al,” she said.
“Love you, too, Mum,” Albus replied as the train whistle blew.
Albus grabbed hold of his trolley and hurried to the train. He wouldn’t have time to stow his trunk; he’d have to bring it to the prefect meeting, in addition to being the last one there.
The train started to move just as Albus climbed on. He hoisted his trunk onto its side and began dragging it down the corridor, then realized he was allowed to magic whenever he wanted. With a flourish of his wand, he cast a locomotion spell on his trunk (verbally, as his nonverbal spells were iffy at best), and wondered whether it would be possible to Apparate on a moving train. He decided against this, but with the locomotion spell he made it to the prefect compartment much faster and earned admiring gazes from a few dozen younger students on the way.
With a stroke of luck, Rose had not yet begun the meeting, but Albus was unable to slip in without her noticing due to his trunk. She glared at him as he sat down in between Ashtyn Brickston (the only of John’s sisters who ever had a chance of becoming a prefect) and a boy he vaguely recognized who must’ve been the other new Gryffindor prefect. He released the trunk and it landed on end in between his feet with a soft thump.
“Now that Albus Potter has decided to join us, let’s get started,” Rose said as she handed a stack of parchment to Justin Brink, who stood next to her. Justin began passing out the parchment. “I’m Rose Weasley, Head Girl this year. Justin Brink is Head Boy. Justin is handing out September’s patrol schedule. You’ll patrol in pairs….”
Rose’s speech was not all that different from speeches in years past and Albus let his mind wander. He gazed around the compartment until his eyes fell on Emily Rhodes. He’d forgotten she was a prefect. She hadn’t noticed him, appearing caught up the patrol schedule Justin just handed her. Her curly hair blocked most of her face and Albus was unable to read her expression. Just seeing her caused Albus’s stomach to do a flip. He wanted to ask her if she passed her Apparition test.
“Albus,” Ashtyn said as she elbowed him in the side.
Albus jolted out of his daydreaming and looked up to see that Justin was attempting to hand him a patrol schedule. Blushing, Albus took the schedule, muttered “thanks,” and forced himself to stare at it. Rose had scheduled him for the last train patrol, which was the worst one because everyone was in and out of their compartments trying to change into their robes and there was a lot of pent up energy and excitement. He was also scheduled to tutor DADA on Wednesday evenings, which wasn’t bad, and he had approximately three patrols a week, which was manageable. With Quidditch practice twice a week and dueling once a week, he wouldn’t have any free evenings.
“Please see myself or Justin if you can’t do a patrol,” Rose said. “Or if you have any questions. The common room passwords are written on your schedule. Remember your train patrol. I’d like to have another meeting at the end of September to see how things are going. We’ll put notices up in the common rooms.”
Everyone began to get up and leave the compartment. Albus hung back, one hand on his trunk, and watched as Emily Rhodes laughed at something the girl sitting next to her said. Dimples formed on her cheeks when she smiled. She turned and met Albus’s gaze. Albus felt his cheeks redden again and hoped it wasn’t noticeable. Emily gave him a little wave, then left the compartment with her friend. Albus felt slightly dejected. Hadn’t she wanted to see him on the train?
“Al,” Rose said.
Albus turned to Rose. The compartment had emptied. The door shut behind Justin Brink, leaving Albus and Rose alone.
“Why were you late?” Rose asked.
“I wasn’t late. I was right on time,” Albus corrected.
“You were not,” Rose said, opening the door.
Albus charmed his trunk once more and directed it out into the corridor. “I was on the train at eleven. Mum kept trying to assure me there’s no pressure about the Auror Academy. And then she was crying about this being my last year. Did your mum do that?”
Rose shook her head. “No, but Aunt Ginny’s probably emotional about James and it came out over you. Never mind that. I got us a compartment just down here.”
Rose led the way into the next car and opened the door to the second compartment on the right. Matt, John, Amanda, and Kaden were all inside and no one’s little sisters were there. Albus levitated his trunk up onto the shelf above one of the benches and sat down in between Matt and John.
“So, your sister’s a prefect,” Albus said, smirking.
“Don’t remind me,” John said, shaking his head. “Mum was awful about it. Kept going on and on about how proud she was of Ashtyn, all the while giving Gemma and me funny looks. And after she got the letter, Ashtyn wasn’t made to do any chores for the rest of the summer. Plus, Dad bought her a new broom, even though she’s not on the Quidditch team.”
“Weren’t they at all happy you got made Quidditch captain?” Albus asked. “I mean, that comes with most of the perks of being a prefect without all the work.”
“They were, but not as proud as they were of Ashtyn.”
“You can’t be jealous, are you?” Rose asked. “I mean, you didn’t stand a chance.”
“I know that,” John said. “I never wanted to be one. But my parents could stand to be less obnoxious about it. Ashtyn doesn’t need a bigger ego. Still, Mum about lost it on the platform with this being my last year. Between that and Amelia just starting, she didn’t stand a chance.”
“Mine did, too,” Albus said.
“And mine,” Matt added. “She’s been moping about it all summer.”
“My parents want me to go to university,” Amanda said. “We’ve been arguing about it all summer.”
“Muggle university?” John asked.
Amanda nodded. “It’s usually what’s expected in my family, but I’m the weird one.”
“My grandparents think once I’m done with the ‘silly magic stuff,’ I’ll go to university and work at Grunnings,” Kaden said with disgust.
“What the hell is that?” John asked.
“A company that makes drills,” Kaden said. “It’s about as exciting as it sounds.”
“Does that ever happen?” John asked. “Do Muggleborns ever go back to the Muggle world?”
“I suppose occasionally,” Rose said. “And Professor Longbottom is very helpful. We’ve got to meet with him a few times this year so he can help us get ready for what we’re doing after Hogwarts.”
“We do?” Matt asked apprehensively. “But we already did career advice in fifth year.”
“That was just to get you thinking,” Rose explained. “You’ve got to have a real plan by the time you leave and your head of house helps. They’re usually the best to go for for letters of recommendation, too.”
Albus wondered what the Auror Academy would think of him sending a letter of recommendation from his godfather. But who else would do it? Certainly not his father. Maybe Hagrid.
“Oh,” Matt said quietly.
“Professor Longbottom would give you a good recommendation,” John assured him. “Unless you’re going into studying mandrakes.”
Matt gave him a weak smile. He hadn’t been able to withstand mandrake cries, even with earmuffs.
“Are any of you doing a second internship?” Kaden asked.
“I might,” Albus said. He’d been considering the idea of interning at the Auror Department again, for the sole purpose of gathering information about Boone’s lawsuit, the inquiries on Johnson and Laurentis, and the impending Paul Willinson trial.
“Don’t be silly, Albus,” Rose said. “You’ll be too busy revising for N.E.W.T.s. And aren’t you the dueling captain?”
“Marina and I are co-captains,” Albus clarified.
“Plus you’ve got Quidditch practice and patrol and tutoring,” Rose added. “And…whatever else…comes up.” She gave him a significant look.
Albus raised his eyebrows. What was she getting at?
“Oh, come on, Al,” Rose said, rolling her eyes. “Everyone saw you staring at Emily Rhodes during the prefect meeting. Everyone except Emily Rhodes.”
“Emily Rhodes?” John asked. “Nice.”
Albus glared at Rose. He hadn’t been that obvious about it. Rose was just annoyingly perceptive about that sort of thing.
“I was just…curious…whether she passed her Apparition test,” Albus said weakly.
“No one’s buying that,” Rose said. “And you could certainly do worse. She’s very nice and quite smart. You should ask her to the first Hogsmeade trip.”
“Can’t we go to Hogsmeade whenever we like?” John asked. “Now that we’re seventeen?”
“If you get permission from your head of house, yes,” Rose said. “And only on weekends. Not that that’s stopped you before.”
John grinned. “Maybe I’ve decided to change my unlawful ways.”
Rose snorted. “That’ll be the day.”
They were interrupted by the trolley witch and everyone bought large amounts of sweets. The conversation then moved from future careers and seventh year to a game of “would you rather” with the nasty flavors of Bertie Botts Every-Flavor Beans and Albus was glad that they had one more year of this.
Albus could’ve cursed Rose for assigning him the last patrol of the trip. He’d originally thought said patrol would end once the train arrived, but it didn’t. It also involved making sure all the first years got to the boats and everyone else made it onto the carriages. According to Rose’s schedule, Justin Brink and Emily Rhodes were doing this same task, but Albus hadn’t seen them.
“Is that your cat?” Albus asked a young boy in Ravenclaw robes, who was prodding a cat with his wand. The cat hissed at him with every prod.
“No,” the boy replied as he continued prodding.
“Then leave it alone and find a carriage,” Albus said. “Get on then. Go on.”
The boy scowled, but abandoned the cat and climbed into the nearest carriage. Albus couldn’t remember he and his friends ever not going directly to the carriages from the train, but there were quite a few younger students loitering between the two.
“Al!” someone shouted from a nearby carriage.
Albus looked up and saw John leaning out of the window of a carriage.
“Are you going to be much longer?” John asked.
“You’d better just go,” Albus said. “Rose is down by the boats.”
“Okay. Could I get the common room password? For Matt?”
“Yeah,” Albus said. He walked over and whispered the password into John’s ear. “See you at the feast.”
John disappeared into the carriage and shut the door a moment later. Albus returned to his task of getting the younger students into the carriages, wondering if it would be frowned upon to use a herding charm. Fortunately there weren’t many left and it didn’t take long to get them into the remaining carriages. Soon, it was just him and Justin Brink left on the platform, and only one carriage remained.
“So,” Justin said, shoving his hands into his robes, “seventh year.”
“Yeah,” Albus replied, nodding. “Congratulations on Head Boy.”
“Thanks,” Justin said. “Oh, here come the girls.”
Rose and Emily walked side by side up the platform, both holding their robes tightly around themselves against the chill of the wind. Albus was suddenly faced with the fact that he would be riding up to the castle in the same carriage as Emily. His heart thudded faster in his chest and he took a few deep breaths to try and slow it, but it didn’t work.
“First years are off,” Rose said. “We’d better go or we’ll miss the sorting.”
Albus nodded and made a sudden dash to the carriage, so that he could hold the door open for Emily. Unfortunately Justin got there before Emily and took the door from Albus, ushering him in as he did so. Albus awkwardly climbed in. Rose followed, then Emily, and finally Justin. Albus was only slightly disappointed when Rose sat next to him and Emily had to take the seat across from him.
“Well, at least it wasn’t raining,” Rose said as the carriage began to move.
“The second years are awfully cheeky this year,” Justin muttered. “One of them insisted on flying his broom to the castle. And four of the girls, Gryffindors I think, were trying to put charms on their carriage. God only knows what the charms were for.”
Albus exchanged a look with Rose. “Er, were two of them twins?” Albus asked.
“I think so. Bright red hair and they looked exactly alike,” Justin said.
“They would be our cousins, Samantha and Lindy,” Albus said. “And the other two were probably Bethany Dursley and Gemma Brickston.”
“John’s sister?” Justin asked. “I should’ve known.”
“She’s worse than him, with making trouble,” Rose said.
Albus couldn’t believe that he was riding in a carriage with Emily Rhodes and the current topic of discussion was John’s sister.
“Well, N.E.W.T.s this year,” Justin said, changing the subject. “I’m going to start my revision schedule this weekend.”
“I’ve already started mine,” Rose said pompously. “It’s never too early.”
“Right you are,” Justin agreed.
And now they were discussing N.E.W.T.s. Or, rather, Rose and Justin were discussing N.E.W.T.s. Albus and Emily weren’t saying anything. Albus chanced a glance at Emily, who happened to be glancing at him at the same time. She gave him a small smile and a slight eye roll in the direction of Rose and Justin. Albus smiled back, stifling a laugh.
Albus’s stomach gave another flip. Maybe he would ask Emily to the first Hogsmeade weekend after all.
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews!
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