The Serpent Master by Shaun
Summary: Set two years after the epilogue, The Serpent Master details the exploits of Jenny, Will and Cleo, as they uncover the mystery of The Serpent Master in their first year at Hogwarts.
Categories: Mystery, Next Generation Characters: None
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: No Word count: 13292 Read: 5864 Published: 03/01/16 Updated: 03/11/16

1. Chapter 1 On the Path Home by Shaun

2. Chapter 2 History Lessons by Shaun

3. Chapter 3 Diagon Alley by Shaun

4. Chapter 4 Northbound by Shaun

5. Chapter 5 Hogwarts by Shaun

Chapter 1 On the Path Home by Shaun
The Serpent Master
by Shaun

Chapter One
On the Path Home

July 2008
Claire fiddled with the pendant around her neck, lightly brushing it with her fingers. She looked up at the scratched sign telling her that she was in front of the Hog's Head, and gave a raspy sigh. Giving up her life was not something she did lightly.

At this time of night, the place was mercifully empty. Only the old barman stood, cleaning glasses with an expression of dull boredom etched on his face. He barely raised his head as Claire passed, but grunted into his thick beard which at least told her that he had acknowledged her presence.

Climbing the stairs, Claire thought back to what had brought her here. Ten years of hard work at the Ministry, ten years of toil making absolutely sure that they knew what they were doing. Now it had come to this. She gave an exhausted grunt, much like the one the barman had given downstairs, and finally approached an old wooden door on the landing.

This was her last chance. Go through the door and give up her life. Turn around, and carry on living. She knocked.

A short man with a large pointed nose and wearing a pink bowler hat answered.

'Claire... I wasn't expecting you.'

'No one was, Saul.' Claire replied, and she shouldered past him into the room.

The room was, by all accounts, a tip. A bed lay in the far corner, its mattress turned on its side and torn in several places. Books lay strewn across the floor, some with pages ripped out, some stained and bloody. The only window was covered in a poster showing strange symbols and what Claire assumed to be a map of the Solar System. Saul closed the door and gave Claire a disgruntled look.

'I'm sorry I didn't make much of an effort to tidy up.'

Claire gave a weak smile, though she noticed Saul did not return it.

'Not a concern, you've evidently been busy.'

'Busy’s not the half of it. If I haven't got the Minister barking in one ear to sort of the Troll regulatory documents, I've got my wife barking in the other ear. But you clearly didn't come here to listen to an old man moan about his current existence.'

Claire nodded. She approached the poster covering the window and traced a finger along one of the symbols. 'All this hard work can't be doing you any good, Saul. Take a night off, see the wife, take her out to dinner.'

Saul's face crumpled into something Claire assumed was insult. He dashed forward, picking up books from the floor. When he got to the poster, he tore it from the wall and out of Claire's view.

'What do you want, Claire? You're stalling, I know you. Telling me that I shouldn't be here? You, of all people, shouldn't be here. You should be at home, spending time with the twins. How old are they now?'

'One week.'

'A week old and you've already grown bored of them? What are you going to do for the rest of their lifetimes?'

Claire's hands were beginning to shake. She moved to the mattress, turned it straight and sat down, placing her trembling hands in her lap.

'Actually... it's about the twins. The reason I'm here.'

'Oh?' Saul raised an eyebrow as he dropped a pile of books into the corner.

'It's them.'

The remaining book Saul was holding dropped to the floor with a clunk. Without bothering to pick it up, he hurried over and sat next to Claire.

'Are you... sure?'

'Positive. I assume I don't have to tell you what this means?'

Saul looked mournfully at his feet and bit his upper lip. 'Surely... you don't have to.'

'Jenny and Cleo will be much safer in the Muggle world, until they have to go to Hogwarts, I'll be safer.'

A boom of thunder sounded outside, followed by the shattering crack of rain. 'I don't suppose I can talk you out of it?'

'I wish you could, Saul... I wish you could.'

'Then keep them safe. Keep them hidden. God knows what would happen if the wrong people found out about them.'

Claire smiled, sincerely this time. She patted Saul twice on the shoulder as she rose from the torn mattress.

'I promise you, Saul, I'm not going to let anything happen to them.'

From the look on Claire's face, Saul knew she wouldn't.

*June 2019*

The ground was covered in bugs. Ants crawled up and down fallen logs, taking snippets of leaves up and into a nest. Spiders prowled amongst them, daring any ant to make the wrong move and end up as dinner. Insects weren't confined to the ground either. In the air, flies and midges swished overhead while a trio of bees ignored all other proceedings and hurried from flower to flower.

Jenny Abel looked over the scene before her, panting. A clatter from behind told her her brother was not far away.

‘So many bugs,’ she said, viewing the scene before her. Her brother, Cleo, came running up beside her.

‘Bet you two pounds you can’t walk through without getting attacked.’

‘Where did you get two pounds from?’

Cleo shrugged. He picked up a fallen stick and after shaking off a couple of ants began to prod at a branch containing a whole host of them.

‘Stop it,’ Jenny said, nudging her brother.

‘I will if you walk through.’

‘You’re an idiot.’

Cleo gave Jenny an amused look but dropped it almost instantly. Jenny appeared to be approaching one of her moods.

‘Come on, Mrs Braithwaite’s probably waiting for us.’

Cleo sighed, dropping the stick onto the floor. Jenny assumed that if the ants had any realisation of what was going on, they’d be shaking their fists in Cleo’s direction.

The short walk back onto the playing field was unmarred, apart from a quick jump over a stream. While others would have been too afraid to make such a jump, Jenny had made it far too often to be afraid of it.

‘This is not a time to run away, Jenny, and you, Cleo. I’ll have words with you at the end of the day.’

Jenny’s mood was on lockdown. She’d have loved to punch her brother for getting them in trouble but she wasn’t too keen on causing more trouble for herself than she was in already.

The truth was, neither Jenny nor Cleo tended to get in much trouble. The odd reprimand here or there, but nothing that suggested a serious lack of respect for authority. Not that Mrs Braithwaite wanted to call them out on their respective troublemaking activities. Both of them were a great credit to the school, and to impose any sort of sanctions on them would come back to bite her after a while.

Academically they were both rather average. Jenny tended to get high marks in English, while Cleo excelled in Science. It was out of the classroom that showed their skill. Jenny had won several trophies for playing the clarinet, and Cleo was captain of the school’s football team. What the school would do in a month’s time when they left, no one seemed to know.

‘Before we finish for the day, I want everyone to walk around the field collecting as many leaves as you can.’

Jenny fell behind Cleo as he began to pick up leaves. She nudged him slightly as recompense for getting them in trouble in the first place.

‘You are so going to pay for that,’ Cleo said, shoving a tattered leaf into his hand.

‘We’ll see.’

Jenny knew her brother’s threat was empty. It was the same thing he said when they had accidently spilt paint down the stairs, or when they had broken the television.

The warm June they had been enjoying meant that Jenny and Cleo often walked home from school alone. Living less than ten minutes away from the school had its advantages, and if they wanted to, they could simply cut through the woods behind the school.

‘Do you really want to go to Sorenhall? What if we're split up? Jamie says his sister and brother aren’t in any of the same classes.’

Jenny lowered her head, kicking a stone across the field. ‘We’ll have to make new friends.’

Cleo shrugged. ‘I don’t want to make new friends.’

The path through the woods led across several streams that rolled back and forth, eventually leading out to a river and over a crevice in the rock. Usually people went down the stone steps and back up again, but for the adventurous, there was a fallen tree as a bridge.

‘You gonna wimp out today?’ Cleo asked his sister as the ground hardened into rock, the fallen tree clearly visible ahead.

‘Why, just because I don’t want to risk breaking my neck falling down?’

Cleo began to make chicken sounds, but he stopped when he saw that Jenny was getting ready to hit him again.

‘Go on, go over the log and we’ll be even.’

Jenny sighed. ‘Fine, I’ll go over the stupid log.’

She had done it several times before, but both had been times she had been pushed into doing it by Cleo. The log was stuck quite firmly into the ground, so there was no worry of it rolling over.

Jenny gave Cleo one irritated look, then placed a foot on a stubbly knot in the tree.

Her balance wasn't perfect. Jenny hadn't won any awards for gymnastics or any sporting event, really. The only thing she had been close to winning was the most recent sports day when she had almost won a hundred-metres sprint. If she was quick, it was possible her feet wouldn't have such a huge effect on the tree and she would make it across safely. Well, there was only one way to be sure.

Her last attempt burnt into her mind. That time she had taken it extremely slowly, the time before she had run across. Both times she made it with no scarring or injuries of any kind.

She gave a deep breath, then stepped forward, over the gap. Her body shifted slightly to the left but she countered it, her arms outstretched, hoping her balance would keep her on that level.

Foot forward, then another one. It was slow progress. She daren't turn her head backwards to see Cleo's expression. No doubt he was as anxious as she was. Jenny knew that Cleo would hate himself profusely if anything happened to her.

Around halfway through she stumbled. A small knot in the tree caught her by surprise. It was in just the right place to cause her trouble. She fell forwards, her hands outstretched, hoping to grab ahold of something, anything to save her. She heard Cleo's exasperated cry behind her as she fell.

The log rolled and begin to fall and everything turned one hundred times slower. She could see the world twisting as gravity took its toll on both her and the log. With one last grunt she pushed herself forwards smashing against the other side of the crevice her hands grasping onto hanging roots and a nub in the crevice side.

'Help me, Cleo!'

Cleo gave his sister a brief look, then hurried down the path and then up again on the other side. He looked down at his sister, offering an arm in support. She reached up and grasped onto her brother's arm.

'I can't hold you.' Cleo's face showed strain as he attempted to pull Jenny up. He grunted, then fell back again, unable to carry his sister's weight.

Then something strange happened. Something which affected both Cleo and Jenny. Jenny began to rise. At first she thought it was Cleo, finally muscling the strength to pull her up. Then she realised that Cleo himself was just as shocked as she was. She was floating. Rising slowly upwards. Cleo's disgruntled moan made her let go of her brother's arm. She was moving sideways, over to a soft patch of ground, then she began to descend until her feet touched down on terra firma.

Her breaths were deep and slow. She touched her legs, imagining her fist to go right through them as though they were nothing but air. The dull pain she felt upon hitting herself in the thigh told her she was herself, or as much as she could be.

'Are you... okay?' Cleo asked, turning to face her.

'Well, I'm not hanging on the side of a crevice any more... so yeah.'

Cleo stared at her. His mouth half open. Jenny bit her lip.

'That was—'

'I felt it too,' Cleo said. 'I mean... it wasn't just you who flew up into the air. I felt... stronger. Just before you flew. I mean yours was more impressive, admittedly, but—'

Jenny rushed forward and embraced her brother in a deep hug.

'What...what's going on?' she asked. The look on Cleo's face told her that he knew as much as she did.
Chapter 2 History Lessons by Shaun
Chapter Two

History Lessons

Neither Jenny or Cleo spoke as they hurried out onto Waverly Road, round the corner into eighteen Palfrey Close. Jenny knew what Cleo was thinking, and Cleo knew exactly what Jenny was thinking. What had happened in the forest? Jenny knew of course that she had flown. She had Levitated, then dropped slowly to the ground once again. There was no denying that at all, even though she wanted to with every fibre of her being. Maybe she had just jumped really high and landed on the ground? If Jenny didn't have such a vibrant memory of her Levitation, she would have concluded that must have been what happened.

And Cleo too felt as if he had felt something. In all honesty Jenny was unsure whether Cleo was saying this just to fit in, or whether he had legitimately had an experience. She knew Cleo liked to joke around, but when things got serious, he was always straight with her.

She seemed to be so deep in thought that she didn't realise when she walked straight into her mother in the hallway.

'Watch where you're going, Jenny.'

'Oh... sorry, Mum.'

'Can you get your brother and come into the living room, please? I want to talk to you.'

Wondering what on earth they had done this time, Jenny flipped off her shoes and ran upstairs, opening her brother's bedroom door to find Cleo lying on his back on his bed.

'Mum wants to speak to us.'

Cleo turned his head but didn't say anything. Jenny gave him a poke. 'Now.'

'What does she want that's more important than what just happened? I can't imagine anything is—'

'Until we know what happened ourselves, keep it stuhm, okay? I don't want Mum worrying about us.'

Cleo's eyes dropped, defeated. He muttered something to himself but stood up and followed Jenny out of the room and downstairs.

Once in the living room, Jenny sensed something was off. Her mother was stood in front of the sofa, pacing slowly between two points. Her father was sat in the corner, watching his wife with keen interest.

'Sit down, please,' she said. Cleo gave his sister a brief look, but both of them sat down on the sofa. There was a moment of silence as their mother continued to pace. The only sound was the low breathing coming from their father.

Slowly, Jenny's mother looked up at her children. Biting her lip, she said, 'Before I start... I just want to let you know that your father and I love you both very much. What I'm going to tell you isn't easy. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done.

'I suppose I better come out and say it. I know what happened in the forest.'

'What?' Jenny exclaimed 'What do you mean?'

'I mean I know that you flew, and Cleo felt strength that he's never felt before.'

'You're barking,' Jenny scoffed. Her mother's mouth twisted into what looked like a smile, but it was only visible for a second, so Jenny wasn't too sure.

'I thought I was too..., but there's something you should know about me...' She breathed in deeply. 'I'm a witch.'

A car in the street beyond honked its horn. Jenny heard the unmistakable sound of a cat knocking over a bin on the other side of the road. She stared at her mother. Witch? That didn't make a lick of sense. Fortunately, Jenny was saved from speaking when Cleo asked 'A witch... like... the wicked witch of the west?'

Their mother laughed. 'Well, I'd hope I'm not wicked... but... in all essence yes... a witch. And Jenny is as well. And you're a wizard.'

The car honked its horn again. Jenny's eyes found her mother's and she sensed pleading. Please believe me, her eyes said. Jenny wasn't sure what to believe.

'Magic is real. And... before you go questioning me again, let me prove it to you.'

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a thin wooden wand, pointing it at a mug on the table next to the sofa. She flicked it.

'Woah!' Cleo exclaimed, for sitting where the mug had been seconds before, was a small hamster.

'How...how did you...'

'Let me explain.'

She pulled up a chair from the other side of the room and sat down as Cleo collected the hamster into his hands.

'I've been a witch my whole life. My parents, your Nan and granddad were a witch and wizard. I went to a wizarding school, then met your father—'

'Is he a wizard too?' Cleo asked.

'No.'

Jenny jumped. She hadn't realised how quiet her father had been. His head was lowered and he had his hands either side framing it; he looked incredibly pensive.

'I'm... just as normal as the next person. When I met your mother, I was just as shocked as you are. It took some time getting used to, but in the end I accepted it.'

'When you were born... I—we decided to take you out of the magical world. We didn't want you to grow up and not have any understanding of the wider world. There are people I know who grew up in the magical world and have no idea who the Prime Minister is, who Arsenal are or how a TV works. I didn't want you to be the same. I wanted you to have a normal life. As normal as possible.'

She looked over to Cleo; he was nodding slowly. Accepting it. Jenny looked up at her mother, then across to her father.

Yes, she had flown earlier, but magic? It didn't add up. It didn't make any sense at all. Just this morning her mother was kissing her goodbye at the school gates. At lunch time she played football with Katie and Laura. This afternoon, magic is real and she's a witch? No. It can't be right.

'I don't believe it.' she said slowly. Her mother opened her mouth to respond, but before she could Cleo interjected.

'Jenny... I'm holding a hamster that used to be a coffee mug. You flew this afternoon. Look.'

He raised up the hamster in his hands and passed it over to Jenny. He hands shook as the hamster began to crawl over her, its tiny feet digging into her skin. She felt the warmth coming off it. The weight of it in her hands. If it had been a mug, she would have surely noticed by now. But no, this was a living, breathing being. Magic.

She slowly looked up her mother and nodded. Her mother smiled in response. She saw her father sit back in his chair.

'How did you know what we did earlier was magic?'

'I was watching. Magic usually shows itself in someone a few times before you're eleven. Besides, it wasn't the first time you've done it.'

'It wasn't?'

Their mother shook her head.

'Nope... when you were six, Jenny, you got angry because we wouldn't let you watch the telly. You stormed off into your room. When I went in to check on you, your wallpaper had turned lime green. And Cleo, a few years ago you set the shower on fire... when you were in it.'

'I don't remember that...' Cleo said. Jenny too felt rather odd. When had she turned her wallpaper lime green? Not anytime she could remember.

'Well... yes... it was rather difficult, because we didn't want you to discover your magical ability too soon. So we altered your memory and made you forget it.'

Their father coughed from the corner of the room.

'Claire... perhaps it's time to tell them where they're going in September.'

'Yes... thanks, Phil.' Claire looked at her two children. The smile on her face was genuine, and Jenny knew that all that had happened in the past didn't matter anymore. They knew that they were magical and that was all that mattered now.

'In September... you won't be going to Sorenhall. You're going to Hogwarts.'

'What's Hogwarts?' Cleo asked.

'It's the magical school. The best in Europe... well, the best in the world. I went there when I was your age.'

Claire turned her head, a smile forming on her lips as if a memory had just come back to her.

'Where is it?'

Claire shook her head, coming out of her daydream, thought the smile was still plastered across her face. She turned to her son.

'Scotland,' she replied.

'So... we're moving to Scotland?'

'No... you stay at Hogwarts. It's a boarding school. You get a train up there on September the first. You should be getting your letters in the next few days.'

There was a pause. The smile dropped slightly and she turned to her husband who gave a curt nod.

'I realise this must be a massive shock to you. And, I'm willing to answer any questions you may have. Some of them may be more difficult to answer than others... but I'll do my best.'

Claire clearly hadn't anticipated the amount of questions the twins would ask. 'How many wizards are there in the world? How come they're all hidden? What's Hogwarts like? What do I tell my friends when I don't turn up at Sorenhall?' She managed to answer every question they had with ease, but her answers just gave them more and more questions. They ordered pizza that night, and she continued to talk, performing magic again twice, one for Cleo's benefit and one for Jenny's, for both of them were determined to see it again, just to make sure that they were not imagining it. Come one o'clock, Claire had had enough and ordered both Jenny and Cleo to bed. Cleo fell asleep almost instantly but Jenny stayed awake. Her mind pulsed with everything she had learnt that evening. It seemed bizarre that earlier that day she was worried about her maths homework. Her world had flipped upside down in a matter of hours, and when she woke up, she would be waking up into a whole new world. A world where she had no idea what was in store for her.

When she woke, however, it was to hear the rapping of her mother against her bedroom door, ordering her to get up and get ready for school. She almost wondered if she had dreamt the whole thing until Cleo asked her mother why they had to go to school still.

'Because you need to have some kind of understanding of the wider world. You'll thank me when you're older, trust me.'

The walk to school was pretty much non-eventful, though when Claire kissed them both goodbye at the school gates, she pulled both of them close and said 'Remember... say nothing to anyone. Not that they'll believe you, but it's better to be safe than sorry.'

Jenny and Cleo both kept the word. The remaining days of term seemed to drag. At the end of the day Jenny and Cleo would hurry back home to be told more of the wizarding world from their mother. Every day they would learn a little more. Jenny noticed that her mother seemed to leave her wand out more and more often, though whenever anyone came around, the wand went away, and things, on the outside at least, seemed perfectly normal.

Finally the last day of term arrived. Jenny and Cleo spent the day saying goodbye to school friends and playing games in class, finally giving their friends a big hug and keeping quiet when they spoke about meeting up in secondary school.

When they finally arrived home, they found their mother stood in the kitchen holding two thick brown envelopes, looking rather excited.

'Your Hogwarts letters have arrived,' she said, passing a letter to both Jenny and Cleo.

The envelope felt heavy in Jenny's hand. Scratchy writing on the front read

Jennifer Abel

The Small Bedroom

Eighteen Palfrey Close

St Albans

Hertfordshire


On the back a crest bearing a lion, a badger, an eagle, and a snake surrounding the letter 'H'. Hogwarts. Breathing slowly, Jenny opened the envelope.

HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY

HEADMISTRESS: Minerva McGonagall

(Order of Merlin, First Class)

Dear Miss Abel,

We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl no later than 31 July.

Yours Sincerely,

Neville Longbottom,

Deputy Headmaster


'What things do we need to go to Hogwarts?' Cleo asked, unfurling his own letter.

'Oh, robes... a wand, books and things.'

She gave both of her children a sincere smile and said, 'Well, I guess a trip to London is in order.'
Chapter 3 Diagon Alley by Shaun
Chapter Three

Diagon Alley

Jenny and Cleo's birthday had passed before they could arrange a time to go to London. Claire woke them both early on a warm Tuesday in mid August, pushed a quick breakfast down them, and led them to the train station. As they waited for a train, she turned to her children and said, 'Open up the other parchment in the envelope; it has your school list.'

Jenny reached into her bag and pulled out the envelope, then the parchment that had hidden in the envelope for the past few weeks.

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

UNIFORM
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupils' clothes should carry name tags.

COURSE BOOKS
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
The Magical World by Hermione Granger
A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble

OTHER EQUIPMENT
1 wand
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 telescope
1 set brass scales

Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad.

PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS.


'Do we get this in... Diygun Alley?' she asked her mother.

'Diagon Alley, and yes, we do. You can't really go into BHS and ask for a set of wizarding robes.'

A whistle caught their attention as the 09:26 service to London pulled into the station. They climbed on board, finding an empty compartment, and sat down.

Cleo pulled out his list again.

'Why aren't we allowed our own brooms?' he asked.

'You'll hurt yourself. Plenty of kids with no experience flying think they'll bring a broom in and fly around the school, but if they haven't got any practice they'll hurt themselves... it's best if they just don't allow any first years to bring their own brooms, until they've got some practice in. You'll be taking flying lessons in your first year anyway.'

Jenny gave a worried groan. Her sense of balance, as demonstrated the other week, was less than stellar. It took her over three years to learn how to ride a bike properly and even then she struggled. Flying, she assumed, would require similar skills, and while she was not looking forward to it, she knew that Cleo would be excited by the prospect of learning how to fly.

The train set off, passing villages, towns, fields and forests until eventually arriving in London. Jenny and Cleo quite often went to London. For one, their grandparents lived just outside Crystal Palace. Secondly was the amount of clarinet performances Jenny had done in the city. Still, the allure of the place was still rather large for both of them. It was always nice to go somewhere big and exciting. St Albans wasn't particularly the biggest and most exciting place in the world.

The train stopped finally at City Thameslink Station, and Claire ushered her children out onto the street. Jenny's excitement was growing with every step she took, though as she looked around, there was no sign pointing to Diagon Alley. No shop where you could pop in and get a wand. Of course, her mother had said that it was all hidden away, but still Jenny could only wonder where it all was.

They stopped at last, outside an old shabby pub on Charing Cross Road. The creaky, frayed sign said the pub was called 'The Leaky Cauldron.' but the people passing them on the street looked from the clothes shop on one side to bookshop on the other as if the pub were invisible to them.

'They can't see it,' Claire explained, sensing the confusion on Jenny's face. 'Only we can. Even your father wouldn't be able to see it. Come on, then.'

She pushed the door open and stepped in. Cleo and Jenny followed.

The first thing Jenny saw was a broken bottle being hurled across the bar. A man was snarling, his wand in his hand pointed at another hunched man with dull blue eyes. The barman was stood way back, clearly not wanting to get involved. An onlooker stepped forward, placing a hand on the man with the wand out.

'Draco, please, be reasonable.'

Draco turned his head to the onlooker and Jenny finally got a good look at him.

He looked as if he had not seen sunlight in over a year. His pale skin seemed to reflect any light that hit it. It was a dull grey morose colour void of any life or vitality. She couldn't tell whether his hair was pale blond or simply grey. it was combed back sleekly, much like the small goatee on his chinI

'Astoria, come,' Draco said, stowing his wand away. A woman with wavy brown hair came forward and followed him out of the pub.

Chatter broke out almost instantly. Jenny saw the hunched man swear, crack his knuckles, then leave the same way as Draco did.

'What was that about, Mum?' Cleo asked.

'I haven't the faintest idea. Tom!'

The barman stepped forward. He was a rather old and toothless man; the few grey hairs he had on his head stuck up straight into the air like an aerial.

'Claire, it has been a while. How are you, my dear?'

'Can't complain. Just off to buy school supplies for these two.'

Tom suddenly noticed Cleo and Jenny and gave a wide smile. Jenny counted two rather brown teeth.

'What's up with Draco?'

'I would tell you if I knew,' Tom replied. He gave the bar a quick wipe down with a filthy rag and began to pour a drink. 'Old Beaumont Jackson was in mouthing off about something when Draco appeared. He seemed to take offense to it. Anyways, I won't keep you. Have a nice day.'

A man wearing a balaclava approached the bar and took the drink Tom had poured. Claire said her goodbyes and headed out the back of the inn into a dusty courtyard.

'Draco was always the odd one... I wonder what he's gotten himself into?'

'He seemed pretty angry,' Cleo said, 'But... what are we doing out here?'

Cleo had asked the question that was on the tip of Jenny's mouth. The courtyard was empty, the only thing of significance was a cat who was sat cleaning itself in the corner. She knew they were heading for somewhere called Diagon Alley, but there was no way out of this courtyard except back into The Leaky Cauldron.

Claire however didn't respond. Instead she took out her wand and began to tap the bricks on the wall furthest away.

'There we go... come on, you'll want to see this.'

The bricks in the wall began to twist. The cracking slabs moved aside leaving an archway. An entrance to an old cobbled street.

'Welcome to Diagon Alley.'

Jenny wished she had seven extra pairs of eyes. To their left, cauldrons were piled high into the air, twisting out of sight. To the right, a plump woman was complaining about the size of the Horned Toads outside an Apothecary. There were shops selling brooms, shops selling books, and even a giant jokeshop plastered in orange. Claire, however, led them to a tall white building, bang in the middle of the street.

'Gringotts, the wizarding bank. And yes, they are goblins.'

She patted Cleo's hand away, for he had just pointed at a small figure outside the bank. It was dressed in a royal red tunic but his eyes were looking stoically forwards as if nothing at all in Diagon Alley interested him.

Jenny saw Cleo mouth the word 'goblins...' but he refrained from pointing at it.

Up the stairs, and into the grand marble hall. Here there were more goblins sat on benches around the room weighing gems, counting coins and in one instance, reading a long list that trailed onto the floor while an agitated wizard in a pinstriped suit waited on the other side of the counter.

A goblin called Claire over. She breathed in deeply, then approached.

'Can I help you?' the goblin asked. His voice was raspy and cracked. He reminded Jenny of a substitute teacher she had had at school once.

'Yes, I am here to withdraw some money out of the Abel vault.'

The goblin peered over the counter at Cleo and Jenny. Jenny felt herself shiver. She wasn't sure she like the goblin's piercing stare much.

'Very well... do you have your key?'

Claire nodded. She reached into her bag and pulled out an old rusty bronze key that Jenny was almost certain had been hanging innocuously in the kitchen for the past eleven years.

The goblin took the key, ran it through his fingers, then placed it back down on the counter, calling 'Barguff!'

Bargruff was another goblin. He led Claire, Jenny, and Cleo out of the main hall and into a cool corridor where a set of tracks trailed off into the dark distance. He whistled, and a cart came zooming out of the blackness. Cleo looked rather excited.

'If it's anything like Thorpe Park and you throw up on me,' Jenny said as she climbed in after her mother, 'I swear to God I'll hit you.'

The cart sped off into the dark. As cool air whipped past Jenny's head, she leaned over to look down into the depths, only to be pulled back by Claire.

'You'd be surprised how many people have fallen over.'

The cart twisted and turned deeper and deeper underground. Jenny was sure at one point she could hear the patter of a waterfall in the distance. When she asked her mother this however, she shrugged.

'No idea... I know there used to be dragons down here... there was an... incident about twenty years ago. I don't know if they're still down here, though.'

Bargruff remained silent when asked. Claire shook her head and grimaced. Clearly they were going to get no answer out of him.

The cart began to slow and eventually stopped with a jolt. They had stopped outside a bare brick wall. Bargruff exited the cart. Turning to the wall, he offered a silvery mechanical device to Claire, who inserted the key into it and turned.

Just like the entrance to Diagon Alley, the brick wall turned and revealed a room beyond where a modest collection of bronze, silver and gold coins lay.

Claire followed Bargruff out of the cart and into the vault where she began to pile coins into a small bag.

The ride back up to the bank was uneventful, though looking at her brother, Jenny could tell that Cleo wasn't at all excited about the ride as he had been when he had got in, and looked rather green. He was the first to disembark and hurried out of the bank. Jenny and Claire found him outside, leant over, breathing deeply.

'Well...' he said, taking a deep lungful of air. 'I wasn't sick on you.'

Jenny wasn't taking any chances. She skirted around Cleo as Claire led them down the street and into Diagon Alley.

Cleo soon recovered, which was probably for the best because their next stop was Madam Malkin's Robes for all Occasions, where they were fitted for robes.

Standing at the back of the shop while a tape measure zoomed around her taking measurements was surprisingly relaxing after the cart ride, and Jenny was rather annoyed when her mother dragged her off to look at cauldrons.

They bought their books in Flourish and Blotts, where Jenny was tempted by a copy of 'The Adventures of Katherine Woodcroft,' the cover of which showed a beautiful witch engaging in combat with a shadowy figure with scaly hands.

'You don't want that. It's for children half your age,' her mother said, though Jenny was almost certain she had only said that as an excuse not to buy it for her.

From Flourish and Blotts they went to the Apothecary, where Jenny's nose was assaulted by various aromas, and they spent a pleasant couple of minutes looking at all the items on offer while Claire purchased two sets of basic ingredients.

After the Apothecary they headed into Wizacre's Magical equipment shop, where they got a set of glass phials, a handsome telescope each, and a set of brass scales.

As they passed Magical Menagerie, Claire suddenly stopped. She looked over her two children keenly, then, her mind made up, led them into the shop.

Half an hour later they left, Jenny holding a cage in which a small tabby cat was snoozing peacefully and Cleo holding a larger cage in which was an impressively large Eagle Owl.

'You do realise you won't be getting any Christmas or birthday presents for about ten years?' their mother told them. She gave a deep sigh, then looked at her list. 'Just your wands left now.'

Finally, a wand. Jenny was almost trembling with excitement. She followed her mother up the street until finally they arrived at a dusty old shop named 'Ollivander's.'

Claire pushed the door of Ollivander's open and stepped inside. As Jenny followed, she heard the unmistakable sound of a bell in the depths of the shop. As the door swung closed behind her, the sounds from the street were muted.

A man suddenly appeared at the counter. His wide, moonlike eyes surveyed Claire, Jenny and Cleo. The hair on his head wasn't completely grey but it was getting there. Thin strands of brown poked through, and his lined face, not as aged as some Jenny had seen, still showed a keen interest in the three of them.

'Claire Abel... my father sold you your wand... let me think, larch and dragon heartstring, 11 1/2 inches?'

'That's right. We're here for Cleo and Jenny today, though.'

The man leered over the two of them unblinking. His eyes travelled from Cleo to Jenny several times before he withdrew and smiled.

'Very well then, we best get to work. Now... my father was a lot better at this than I am... but... who is the elder one?'

Jenny raised her hand. 'Me,' she said.

'Then I do hope you forgive me when I say that I'll be sorting out your brother first. It's not very often I get twins and I often find that the youngest has a different kind of potential. If I see them last, their potential can fade away. Nevertheless...'

He moved over to a shelf where hundreds of wooden boxes were stacked, withdrew a select few, then waved his wand. A tape measure appeared out of nowhere and began to measure all parts of Cleo's body. As the tape measure worked, the man continued to speak.

'In my father's day he used three cores to make wands. Phoenix feather, unicorn hair and dragon heartstring. I have expanded somewhat to include both thestral hair and dragon scale, though I have seen no clear results on either of them. Today we shall be returning to the old ways. Ladies and gentlemen. I am Bastien Ollivander. Let's get you a wand.'

He stood before Cleo, watching the tape measure for a moment until he clapped his hands and it fell to the floor.

'Now, boy... what is you wand hand? That is to say... are you right handed or left handed?'

'Right... handed.' Cleo muttered.

'Then try this... Juniper and unicorn hair, eleven and three quarter inches. Rather rigid.'

Cleo took the wand Bastien offered him. He looked at his mother then back and Jenny then nervously gave it a wave. Nothing happened.

'Not to worry... uh, try this one, ivy and phoenix feather, twelve inches. Surprisingly swishy.'

Again Cleo waved the wand Bastien gave him and yet again, nothing happened. Bastien didn't seem too upset. On the contrary he was getting more and more excited the more wands he gave Cleo to try.

'Unusual mixture... ebony and dragon heartstring, eleven and three quarter inches. Rather supple. Give it a try.'

Cleo took this wand and waved it. Almost straight away golden sparks began to rain down from the ceiling. Bastien gave a cry of 'Bravo, Bravo!' and Claire clapped.

'Fantastic. I'll get that wrapped for you. Now, miss...'

As the tape measure began to work on Jenny as it had Cleo, Bastien rifled through the shelves yet again. He seemed to pull down every wand he had in stock until eventually he turned to Jenny.

'So... right hand as well? Good... let's try this one. Yew and unicorn hair, ten inches, quite dextrous.'

Jenny gave it a wave, but nothing happened.

Bastien snatched it out of her hand and replaced it with another 'Cypress and dragon heartstring, ten and a quarter inches, slightly springy.'

Yet again, nothing. The wand pile was beginning to get larger and larger, until Bastien clapped his hands and exclaimed.

'Oh, how could I be so stupid? Twins!'

He moved over to another shelf and rifled around for a moment until he pulled out another box, opened it and gave the wand to Jenny.

'Cedar and unicorn hair. Eleven inches, reasonably supple.'

Jenny took the wand and felt a tingling running up her wand. She cautiously gave it a wave.
BANG! Something long and serpent-like shot out of the end of Jenny's wand. It collapsed onto the floor and turned its head.

It was a snake, or at least what appeared to be a snake, made entirely out of smoke. It turned its head and hissed slithering away until it faded into the air.

'Well... that was unexpected,' Bastien said after a brief pause.

'Sorry... was that not supposed to happen?'

'Well... each wand is unique. Each wand will announce it has found its correct owner in a different way. Some will, like your brother's, do something simple like sparks. Others will announce themselves in more elaborate ways. My father, for instance, once sold a wand after it had set half the shop on fire, determined that its owner was the right fit for the wand. I'll be interested to follow your career, Miss Abel.'

He gave Jenny a rather piercing look, then turned to wrap up both wands, charged Claire fifteen Galleons for the two wands, and bade them farewell.

They left Ollivander's, all of them laden with heavy shopping. The sun was beginning to set now, so Claire led the way back up the street, out through The Leaky Cauldron and out onto Charing Cross Road.
End Notes:
Please R/R! :)
Chapter 4 Northbound by Shaun
Chapter Four

Northbound



The remaining weeks of the summer holidays seemed to fly by. Jenny had expected the time to drag, as the anticipated start on September the first had seemed so far away from the start of the month. Still, it's not as if she had been doing nothing while she waited. Her new school books had kept her entertained enough, though a lot of it she didn't fully understand it was still at least interesting to read.



Her cat kept her company as well. She had decided to call her Aurora for all the times she had jumped at Cleo's display of the Northern Lights in his bedroom. It seemed to do the job of annoying him at any rate.



Cleo meanwhile had decided to call his owl Basir. He claimed it was because he had read the name in A History of Magic but Jenny was just as sure he named it after the Liverpool center-half Viego Basir. Cleo on his part denied it.

Both of them though, noticed the change in their mother. On the most part she was now happily using magic in the open in front of them and would often describe the spell she had used. She also began to get the wizarding paper The Daily Prophet delivered again. Jenny was sure she'd remember the first morning it had been delivered, she had been downstairs making breakfast, when a loud screech made her jump and a large barn owl swept into the kitchen dropping the paper on the floor.



On the last day of August, they ordered a Indian and sat in the dining room letting off indoor fireworks and listening to stories from Claire's time at Hogwarts, from the time she lost her wand and couldn't get into the Hufflepuff common room, to the time her best friend accidently turned her into a slug.



Though Jenny and Cleo would have loved to have stayed up all night listening to her stories, they had an early start the next day so by ten o'clock both of them were in bed asleep.



The following morning Jenny was woken not by her alarm, but by the loud crack of thunder and a brilliant flash of lightning outside her window. She checked her watch, only to find it was six o'clock.



Despite it being so early however, Jenny was wide awake. She climbed out of bed, dressed and double and then triple checked that her trunk was properly packed before waiting excitedly downstairs.



Several hours later, after a hurried breakfast, Phil dragged their trunks downstairs and put them into the car. How two large trunks, a cat and an owl were going to fit into their small car was a mystery to Jenny. She had rationalised without the addition of her mother's spellwork of course. Claire put her fingers to her lips. Don't tell your father.



At nine o'clock they headed off. Out of St Albans and on the motorway for the short drive into London. The storm that had begun earlier in the morning pressed down harder now. They could barely see in front of them, and so what should have been a simple hour long drive, threatened to turn into two.



However, just outside of Edgware, the traffic thinned and they were able to make it to Kings Cross just in time.



They loaded their trunks onto two trolleys, stowed Aurora and Basir on top and made their way into the station. Claire led them to a barrier separating platform nine from platform ten.



'Okay. Now... the train... is beyond here. You need to walk through the barrier.'



Jenny raised her eyebrows at her mother but in all honesty she had expected something like this. The wizarding world wasn't the muggle world and things like this were bound to crop up now and again.



'Who wants to go first?' she asked.



Jenny gave Cleo a quick look, he seemed rather unsure and Jenny knew why, the barrier did look incredibly solid after all.



'I'll do it.' Jenny said after a brief pause. She lined up with the wall, gave her mother a look who nodded and began to run. The barrier was coming closer and closer, she was going to hit it. She was going to crash.



She didn't. She kept on running.



A great red steam engine lay before her, people packed around it. Children as young as she and older saying goodbye to their parents, catching up with old school friend and lugging their trunks onto the train. A sign hanging above read 'Platform Nine and Three Quarters.'



A sound behind her told her that Cleo had also successfully ran through the barrier between platform nine and ten. He stared in amazement at the train and the collection of people until their parents arrived and they went to find a carriage to sit in which they found at the back of the train.



As Phil began to lift their trunks onto the train (helped by a man with messy black hair and glasses), Claire turned to her children.



'Well... this is it.' she leaned in and hugged them both 'If you need me, send and owl... that's why I bought him. You have a good term. I'm sure you'll have a great time.'



Phil returned and hugged his children as well. He seemed pretty impressed.



'Well, you'll have to tell me all about it... because god knows your mother won't. Have a good year.'



A whistle sounded in the distance. Jenny and Cleo climbed onto the train. It began to move slowly, building speed with every passing second until King Cross was far behind them.



'Come on,' Jenny said, 'Let's find a compartment.'



Dragging their trunks behind them, they headed up the train, passing compartments where people were laughing heartily at each other's jokes, playing a card game that made loud bangs every few moments and in once case, a compartment where one boy seemed to have his mouth stuck to a girls face.



Eventually they found an empty compartment. Well, they thought it was empty. In the corner however was a boy who seemed to be roughly the same age as Jenny and Cleo, he had mousy brown hair, a thin thoughtful face and wide blue eyes like an owl.



'Oh... sorry,' Jenny said 'Do you mind? There's nowhere else to sit.'



'No problem,' the boy said.



Jenny pushed her trunk to the side and placed Aurora on top of it. Likewise Cleo paced Basir awkwardly on top of his trunk.



'Twins huh?' the boy asked seeming impressed 'I've never met any twins... the names Will by the way, Will Douglas. This your first year at Hogwarts?'



'I'm Jenny, this is my brother Cleo. Yeah... we're brand new.'

Will nodded, 'Me too. I've been looking forward to this day for ages. Being at home is so boring after a while.'



'We... didn't know about magic until a couple of months ago.' Jenny said.



'You must be muggleborn then.'



Jenny shook her head 'No, our mum's a witch, she just raised us without telling us about magic.'



Will raised his eyebrows. 'Did she? Why would she do that? It's... a bit weird.'



'I dunno...'



'Whatever. Do... you know what house you'll be in yet?'



Jenny shook her head, trying to think back to all the conversations she had had with her mother but all of them seemed to have blurred together, with no distinct fact or nugget of information she was able to recall.



'My dad was a Hufflepuff... my mum was a Ravenclaw, guess I could end up anywhere.'



'Wasn't mum a Hufflepuff?' Cleo asked Jenny and suddenly a memory cleared for her, of her mother trying to get into the Hufflepuff common room without her wand.



'Oh yeah, she was in Hufflepuff... what are the other three houses?'



Will gave a high laugh 'There's only four, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. I wouldn't mind any to be honest... though Slytherin may be a bit weird.'



'Why's that?'



Will's raised his eyebrows, then he sighed. Jenny was starting to regret not listening much to her mother the past few months. It was if her mother had told her simple stories to entertain her and none of it had stuck.



'I don't suppose you know about the war?'



Jenny cocked her head 'War?'



Grimacing, Will bit his lip then slowly began to talk of the Great Wizarding War. Of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters, how a baby had survived an attack from the most evil wizard of all time, and how years later he arrived at Hogwarts, and saw the return of the wizard of had killed his parents and given him his unique scar. Then the war turned. Hogwarts was taken over by death eaters, Dumbledore killed by a person people assumed was a close ally. Then, the final showdown at Hogwarts. How Voldemort and Harry had clashed with the latter defeating the evil wizard once and for all.



As Will spoke the train had pushed out into the open countryside and it was nearly twelve thirty when finally he finished his story.



'I mean... it's alright now?'



'Yeah... I mean you get some nutters who still think about attacking muggleborns... but they're in a serious minority now.'



Cleo gave a deep sigh 'I wouldn't have liked to have been at Hogwarts then.'



'It was bad... but we'd have been alright. You just needed to prove you had at least one magical relative... though I doubt they'd like your dad.'



There was a sudden rustling sound and Jenny looked towards the door, where a plump witch pushing a cart laden with sweets had just arrived.



'Anything off the trolley dears?'



Hoping to get a pack of skittles, Jenny looked over the trolley, there were no skittles... but there was Chocolate Frogs, Every Flavour Beans and something called Screaming Chocolate. Jenny grabbed a couple of Chocolate frogs and paid the witch two sickles.

'Good choice.' Will said, picking out some every flavour beans 'They've just released a new set of cards. I need Ginny Weasley.'



Jenny raised her eyebrows at Will but her questioning look was soon answered as she opened up the chocolate frog to find a card inside. The card showed a red haired man with a long nose and a face covered in freckles. The back of the card read.



RONALD WEASLEY

Ronald Weasley was instrumental in the downfall of You-Know-Who. He went on to become an Auror under Kingsley Shacklebolt's reformed Ministry and later returned to help his brother in the popular Weasley's Wizard Wheezes store in Diagon Alley. Ronald lives in Sidmouth with his wife, Hermione Granger.



'Ronald Weasley.' Jenny read 'He's...'



'Harry Potter's friend yeah.'



She turned to look at the picture to see Ron scratching his nose and yawning.



'I'm sorry I'm boring you.' Jenny said to the card and dropped it on the seat next to her.



As the day progressed the weather seemed to get worse and worse and by mid afternoon, the sky was almost totally black, rain lashing against the windows and the occasional bolt of lightning illuminating the dark sky.



Will meanwhile was taking Cleo through the finer points of Quidditch.



'So the seeker pretty much won the match for them.' Will concluded. Cleo was leant forward his mouth open somewhat.



'I wish mum let us have a broom...'



'You heard what she said about people flying when they don't know how.' Jenny said, she had brought out a copy of 'A History of Magic.' and was reading it with her feet up on the seat, Aurora sleeping peacefully on her chest.



Cleo seemed to ignore her. 'Have you been to any Quidditch matches before?'



Will nodded 'Oh yeah loads... I went to the Kenmare Kestrels game the other week, they got hammered by the Ballycastle Bats... and I used to go to the Holyhead Harpies games with my mum.'



'Why don't you go anymore?'



Will's face had turned pale. He lowered his head avoiding eye contact with either Cleo or Jenny.



'Well...er... my mum died a few years ago.'



There was silence in the compartment. Jenny heard a bang and a load of laughing coming from a compartment further up.



'I'm sorry.' Jenny said. Will finally looked up and smiled.



'It's okay... she was quite ill anyway.'



Hoping to draw the attention away from Will, Jenny reached into her trunk and pulled out her wand. She then flipped through 'The Standard Book of Spells: Grade One.' and began to read.



'You're not going to try a spell out are you?' Cleo asked.



'Yeah, I thought I'd try something...'



Will attempted to back away but seeing as he was in the compartment there wasn't really anywhere for him to go.



'You want to be careful with that. My dad's told me stories of people who tried to do magic and blew up half their houses.'



'I'll be fine... look a simple water spell, nothing bad can happen with this.'

She raised her wand and said 'Aguamenti!'



SPLASH!



Water began to jet out of Jenny's wand with such force she couldn't keep a hold of it. It flew out of her hands hitting the other side of the compartment wall and drenching everyone in water. Aurora screeched and clawed at Jenny's leg. Basir let out a low hoot and ruffled his wings. The water stopped flowing and the wand dropped to the ground. Picking up the wand from the ground Jenny gave Cleo and Will a rather apologetic look.



'Uh... yeah... maybe you're right.'



The compartment door slid open and all three of them looked up to see a boy a few years older than them looking at them with amused interest.



'You guy's alright?' the stranger asked.



'Uh... yeah, just a bit wet.'



The boy grinned and raised his wand. 'Siccumst!' and suddenly all three of them were dry as if they had been sitting in the sun all day.



'You want to watch yourself. Aguamenti is something for sixth years... not first years.' he grinned then closed the compartment door and left.



'Wow... that was... James Potter.'



'Who?'



'Harry Potter's son. Gryffindor Chaser.'



Jenny gave will a blank look which Will took to mean indifference.



'So, someone famous has a son that goes to Hogwarts.'



'No but listen, James Potter is a Gyrffindor right, like his dad, his other son, Albus Potter... is a Slytherin.'



'The snake house right?'



Will nodded 'Yeah, there was a lot of controversy about it a couple of years ago. It was in all the papers.'



'Why should it matter though?' Jenny asked. It seemed to her that if Harry's son was put in Slytherin that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, so Slytherin had produced a few dark wizards? So what, by Will's testament everything was back to normal now.



'Why should it matter? Well, You-Know-Who was in Slytherin. Lots of Death Eaters were. It's kind of like, Harry's saying what You-Know-Who was doing was alright.'



'But it wasn't... and besides Harry killed You-Know-Who.'



Will nodded 'I know. Most sane people know. But try and tell that to the fear mongers at the Daily Prophet.'



The train had started to slow, Jenny took a quick look outside the window but the storm was so fierce she couldn't see anything.



'The train will be arriving at Hogwarts shortly. Please leave your belongings on the train, they will be taken to the school separately.'



The voice rang out through the train and Jenny's excitement rose. Will and Cleo left the compartment, leaving Jenny to change into her school robes, then left to allow the boy's a chance to change. Eventually the squeaking sound of the brakes told Jenny that, at last, they had arrived at Hogwarts.
Chapter 5 Hogwarts by Shaun
Author's Notes:
Jenny, Cleo and Will are sorted.
Chapter Five
Hogwarts

They stepped out onto a windy platform, rain splattering across their faces and robes. In the distance, Jenny could just about see a large figure of a man ambling towards them. His great beard was just specked with grey, while his mangy hair whipped his face.

'Firs'-years over here!' he cried, and a small group who had managed to hear him approached. While they waited for the rest, Jenny saw a girl with blonde hair attempt to put up an umbrella but as soon she raised her arm, it was blown out of her hand and into the distance.

'Hey, Hagrid!' an arriving redheaded girl said. The giant man gave her a pleased nod, then looked over them as if counting, then led them down a short path away from the platform and all the other disembarking students.

They followed the muddy path for a minute until the giant man said 'An' here's Hogwarts.'

'Woah.'

They turned a corner, reaching a dock where a handful of boats were moored. Across the shimmering lake, was Hogwarts.

Even through the swirling storm, Hogwarts looked magnificent. A castle jutting out of the ground, its many turrets and towers shooting up into the sky, lights from its windows acting as beacons in the storm.

'Four to a boat,' Hagrid said. Jenny, Will and Cleo clambered into boat and were joined by the girl with fiery red hair.

'Could be a rough ride; hang on.'

They set off, the whirling wind pushing the boats in various directions. One boat went so far in the wrong direction, Hagrid had to wave his wand to get him back with the fleet. Eventually, they pushed through a set of hanging vines until they reached an underground dock.

They climbed out onto a hard stone floor and Hagrid led them up a set of stone stairs until they stood in front on a large pair of oak doors. Hagrid knocked.

The doors opened almost instantly. Standing there was a man wearing magenta robes. His worn face wore a warm smile, though Jenny noticed several scars on his hands and one on his neck.

'The firs' years, Professor Longbottom.'

'Thank you, Hagrid. Please go in and get yourself dry.'

Hagrid gave Professor Longbottom a nod and trudged into a grand entrance hall.

'Please follow me.'

The line of students followed Professor Longbottom into the large entrance hall. Their footsteps echoed loudly as they passed through, not going, as Jenny had thought, to the right where a babble of noise and laughter caught her ears. Instead, they went to the other side of the hall, into a small chamber lined with moving portraits.

Once they were all inside, Professor Longbottom turned to face the students.

'Welcome to Hogwarts. Now, soon you join your classmates in the Great Hall, but first you must be Sorted into your Houses. The Sorting Ceremony will place you amongst your peers, amongst those who value what you value, those who seek what you seek. They will become your classmates, your friends, your allies. But do not forget that those in other Houses can also be friends and allies. They are not to be cast aside just because you do not share the same colours.

'The four Houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each House has produced outstanding witches and wizards. Each House has had moments of glory. Each House has had moments of elation. I hope you all can be a great asset to whatever House you join. Now, I must go and check whether the Great Hall is ready for you. Please wait here.'

He left and the room broke out into an excited babble. 'How do they sort us?' Jenny asked Will, who shrugged.

'I dunno. My dad would never tell me. He seems to think it's a rite of passage that no one knows what to expect. I can't imagine it's anything too stressful, though.'

'I reckon you've got to perform some magic or something,' one boy began to say. 'Why else would they get us in front of the whole school?'

Jenny gulped. Given what happened on the train, she wasn't entirely confidant about performing magic. Still, maybe it wouldn't be too bad. Maybe she would just be asked to remember some spells. She began to rack her brain trying to remember any spells she had read in her books, but she came up dry and gave a nervous gulp.

Professor Longbottom had returned. He clapped his hands and called, 'We are ready for you now. Please follow me.'

He led them back out into the entrance hall and across to the Great Hall, where the babbling noise stopped rather suddenly.

If Jenny wasn't so preoccupied with staring at the ceiling, which showed a greying swirling blackness, and at the hundreds of floating candles over the four Houses' tables, she would have felt an intense awkwardness as all the students' eyes fell upon her and the other first years. Still, she wasn't the only one who was distracted. A brown-haired boy had his mouth half open in awe, so distracted he didn't even notice that his shoelaces were untied. Another girl seemed virtually terrified by the ceiling and the floating candles; she looked close to tears.

Professor Longbottom led the first years up the middle of the Great Hall, between the four tables, until they arrived in front of the staff table.
Before them sat a stool and on the stool sat an old and tattered wizard's hat. There was silence for a moment, then the hat began to sing.

This is my song.
This is my tale
Of a time long ago,
A time beyond the veil.

In these hallowed halls, four people did teach,
of magic and learning and life they did preach

There was Gryffindor, he was daring and brave.
A chivalrous heart which he took to the grave.

Of Hufflepuff, her kind and loyal heart.
Her patience and dedication really set her apart.

And dear Ravenclaw, the wisest of them all.
On her creativity and wit others did often call.

Yet Slytherin, for he was an ambitious sort.
His cunning and shrewdness never sold short.

For these four friends would teach and over their students they would fawn.
But who would teach and Sort them, when they were all gone?

And so I came and Sorted. The brave from the wise.
So put me up upon your head, I never tell lies.

I Sort you into Houses, that's all I ever do.
Don't be afraid, don't be nervous, I'm here to Sort you!

The hall broke out into applause. Professor Longbottom pulled out a roll of parchment from inside his robes, then began to read.

'Abel, Cleo.'

Cleo gave Jenny a nervous look, then slowly approached and placed the hat on his head.

Jenny watched her brother nervously. Here they were about to be split up. She could tell. She was worried they were going to get split up at secondary school and now she was worried they would get split up at Hogwarts.

'Gryffindor!' the hat bellowed, and the table on the far right burst into cheers and applause. Cleo took off the hat and moved over to the Gryffindor table.

Well, if that was Cleo, there was no question who was next.

'Abel, Jennifer.'

Slowly Jenny approached the stool. It took great effort to raise the hat and place upon her head where it comically dropped down covering her eyes and the stares of everyone in the Great Hall.

'Ah... now let's have a look then shall we?'

The hat's voice rang clearly in her head. Jenny breathed in deeply trying not to show her fear.

'You...can hear me?' she thought.

'Yes, yes, I can. Now... where to put you? You want to join your brother, of course. Well, you are brave... a bit arrogant, clever, of course, ah... yes, that makes sense. Well, I think I know where to put you.'

'You do?'

'Yes... I think... Gryffindor!'

The hat shouted Gryffindor so loudly Jenny's ears rang. She was slightly dazed for a moment until the loud cheering and clapping at the Gryffindor table told her where to go. She hurried over and sat down with a plop next to her brother.

'I'm so glad I'm in the same House as you,' she muttered to Cleo, who laughed for a brief second, then hugged his sister.

'Me too...' he whispered.

'Benson, William.'

'Slytherin!'

'Bones, Maggie'

'Hufflepuff!'

Watching the Sorting Hat from this angle was a lot more interesting now that Jenny knew she wasn't about to be called up. She began to predict with Cleo where the students would end up, though got rather annoyed when 'Clarke, Elliot.' ended up in Slytherin rather than Ravenclaw as she had guessed.

'Douglas, Wilbert.'

Jenny and Cleo both stared at each other for a brief moment. There was no point denying that both of them knew where they wanted Will to end up. He seemed however, to take a rather long time being Sorted, until eventually the brim of the hat opened up and the hat declared him a Gryffindor.

'That was lucky,' he said dropping in next to Jenny, 'I almost got put in Ravenclaw.'

'Glad that didn't happen,' Cleo said. 'And Wilbert?'

Will glared at him.

Guessing which House each student would get sorted into was a lot more fun with someone else, whether it was Will's demonstration that 'Fincher, Gideon.' clearly had never picked up a book in his lifetime and so couldn't possibly get sorted into Ravenclaw, or Jenny and Cleo arguing over whether 'Patterson, Daisy,' was Hufflepuff potential or not. Jenny got her wish as after several minutes under the Hat, Daisy came and sat at the Gryffindor table.

'Potter, Lily.'

The red-haired girl who had shared a boat with them on the lake stood forward and placed the Sorting Hat on her head. Jenny saw James Potter give an encouraging wave.

'Gryffindor!'

Lily sat down next to Daisy Patterson. 'I almost thought I was going to go into Hufflepuff then,' she said.

The line of students waiting to be sorted was thinning now. 'Weasley, Hugo.' also joined Gryffindor, receiving a grin from Lily and an encouraging nod from James,

'Wood, Heather.'

'Hufflepuff!'

'Young, Kirsty.'

'Ravenclaw!'

Finally with 'Zeller, Dominic,' 'Ravenclaw!' the Sorting was finished. Professor Longbottom took the stool and the Sorting Hat away, and everyone's attention now seemed to focused on the staff table.

As Jenny's attention had been focused on the Sorting, she hadn't noticed the staff table but now watched as an elderly witch wearing dark blue robes rose from her seat to address the students.

'Welcome back to Hogwarts! To all new students, welcome. I am Professor McGonagall, Headmistress. I hope you all have a fantastic time while at Hogwarts. I have words to say but first, let us indulge in this fantastic feast!'

Jenny suddenly realised how hungry she was. Devoid of any lunchtime meal, her hunger was at an unquenchable level. If she was hungry, then Cleo must have been famished. This was the boy who couldn't go two hours without having at least a sandwich. Jenny always thought it was lucky Cleo was active, otherwise his eleven-year-old body would have had too much excess fat to count.

The food that appeared on the tables then was all delicious. Turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, with assortments of sauces and gravy to go with it. Roast potatoes, carrots, peas, sweet corn, and platefuls of chips to make even the most stringent dieter tempted. Jenny put a bit of everything on her plate and began to eat, listening to the conversations around her.

'I dunno if the Arrows have it in them, though. Didn't Demelza Robins miss out on the managing role?' said Cody Vasco, a blond-haired boy who had been sorted into Gryffindor.

'Yeah,' Hugo Weasley replied. 'But wasn't she going to move to the Kenmare Kestrels?'

Cody shrugged. 'No idea. My dad said her husband works in the department of Education. Apparently he didn't want her to take the Arrows job.'

On the other side of the table, Daisy Patterson and Tandy Riggs were talking about their parentage.

'I'm Muggle-born,' Tandy said. 'I used to make plates fly around in the dining room. It used to scare my brother to death. Then again, it scared me to death.'

Daisy laughed. 'Pureblood. Though it's just an expression these days. Most purebloods have a couple of Muggle-borns in the family line somewhere.'

Next to her, Cleo and Will had struck up a conversation with Fred Denton, a wiry-haired boy with bright green eyes.

'Maybe they've got wires hanging from the ceiling?' Fred asked. Cleo was considering the idea for a moment, but Will, Jenny noticed, looked completely fed up with the whole situation.

'Maybe it's magnetic? Like, opposite magnets on the ceiling and the floor keeping it floating?'

Jenny leaned into Will and asked, 'What... are they talking about?'

Will gave a raspy sigh. 'They're trying to work out how the candles are staying in the air. They won't believe me when I say it's magic. If I have to put up with this for seven years, I think I'll go starkers.'

Jenny laughed, and she was pleased to see that Will gave a chuckle as well. She turned now to the only other first year that was not speaking to anyone else.

'So,' Jenny said. 'Lily, isn't it?'

'I'm surprised you know me already. No one else really does. Except... they know my dad.'

'Harry... right?'

Lily nodded. She took a bite of chicken and looked over to the Slytherin table at a boy with dark black hair and green eyes. He looked quite moody but gave a laugh when a platinum-haired boy next to him spoke.

'That's my brother Albus... you've probably heard of him already?'

'A bit...' Jenny said. Lily shrugged and pushed some lamb onto the end of her fork.

'I'm one of the last in my family to go to Hogwarts. Me and Hugo. There is Auntie Luna's children... but they're not coming for a few years... plus she's not really my aunt.'

'If it makes you feel any better,' Jenny said, 'me and Cleo are the only ones to go to Hogwarts. Well, apart from our mum.'

As they spoke, the food on their table vanished, to be replaced by cakes, ice creams, éclairs and all manner of desserts. Jenny took a bit of everything, but she was starting to feel rather full and sleepy now. Looking around, she saw she wasn't the only one. The girl who had looked terrified when she entered the Great Hall was trying not to fall asleep on the Hufflepuff table.

Soon the deserts too were cleared away and Professor McGonagall stood, supported, Jenny noticed, by a walking stick.

'I have a few start-of-term announcements to make,' she said, and eyes turned her way, all chattering ceased. 'Our caretaker, Mr Croaker, recently got a horrid case of limping logs and he has been in bed for most of the summer. He is back now, but I would appreciate it if you were to be just extra kind to him. It wouldn't do well for you to agitate him further than he's already been pushed. Quidditch trials will be held in two weeks time. Anyone who is interested in playing for their House team, please see Miss Robins. Finally, it is with great sadness that I tell you that Professor Flitwick has retired. However, I am pleased to say that replacing him is Miss Ivy Alderton, who will also be taking over as head of Ravenclaw House.'

There was a light round of applause. A woman with short black hair raised a hand in greeting.

'Well, I'm sure you are all full of food and excited to get to your lessons tomorrow morning. Good night.'

Talk broke out almost instantly as people began to rise from their seats and leave the Great Hall. A blonde older student approached the far end of the Gryffindor table. Jenny noticed she had a red badge with a 'P' on it.

'Hi, guys. I'm Circe Dibbler. I'm the Gryffindor prefect. I'll take you up to our common room. Come on, follow me.'

Pushing through all the exiting students (and getting some agitated looks as she did), Circe led them out of the Great Hall, up the marble staircase and into the depths of the castle.

Jenny didn't particularly pay attention to where she was going. Up some stairs, along a narrow corridor, down a spiral staircase then up another one. Her eyes followed the person in front of her, yawning with every step she took.

Eventually Circe led them into a corridor with a portrait of a rather fat woman in a pink dress. Like all the pictures in the wizarding world, this one was moving. Jenny, however, had a little jump when the woman in the portrait giggled.

'So they made you a prefect, Circe? Oh, I'm glad. She truly is a wonderful girl. New first years?'

She eyed the first years with interest, pulling out a bottle of wine with a free hand.

'I was saving this for Violet. But I think this is just an equally valid occasion... or do you want to get in?'

Circe smiled. 'Please. Pay attention, guys, this is how you get into the Gryffindor common room.' She moved directly in front of the fat lady and said 'Mittens.'

'Oh, very well... I shall just have to go and see Violet.'

The portrait swung open and Circe stepped inside. The first years followed, finding themselves in a warm circular room with a blazing fireplace.

'Ok, boys' dormitories are upstairs to the left, girls' on your right. Get some good sleep; you'll have a busy day tomorrow.'

Jenny gave Cleo a hug, saying 'Goodnight,' as she did, then followed Lily up the stairs to her dormitory.

Up the stairs to the top, she found that her belongings had already been brought up, placed around the bed on the far left. Aurora was also there, sleeping peacefully on her bed.

'Sorry, buddy,' Jenny said as she got into her pyjamas and lifted her cat into the air and climbed into bed. Aurora gave a hiss, but lay back down on Jenny's chest and almost instantly fell back asleep.

Jenny, however didn't. Though she was tired, her mind was racked with various thoughts and ideas. She remembered back to her mother; though she had last seen her earlier that day, it felt so long ago. She said she took Jenny and Cleo out of the magical world to give her some sense of normality. At first Jenny was upset that her mother had denied her a chance at a childhood she should have had, but now she realised that had she grown up in the wizarding world, all this would have seen mundane and for that, Jenny was rather grateful.
End Notes:
a/n: A bit of a longer chapter for you today. In fact, the longest chapter so far. Please enjoy and r/r!
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