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The Serpent Master by Shaun

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Chapter Four


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 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!'


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.'


'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.