Author's Note: Hey guys! I couldn't stay away. I have been looking forward to writing this up since about halfway through There's an American in the Tower! This story will take place in the Marauders Era, and all the characters included belong to JK Rowling-with the exception of my OC(s). As always, anything that is a direct quote from the book series will be underlined.
If you're new, HI! If you've read my other stuff, then this story will provide answers that have evaded you thus far. Most prominent among them perhaps: What is the significance of 'four years'? And who is the 'dark haired, silver-eyed boy?' Without further ado, I am proud to present...
THE SON OF ALPHARD
My story is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes I can barely stand it myself but, it is what it is. My earliest memory is running through a forest somewhere, the sunlight dappled through a leafy canopy as I laughed with...someone. Now, the few times I asked Father about this memory, it was dismissed. According to him, I have never run through the woods, barefoot or otherwise. Turns out my first memory was a dream, or I so was taught to believe.
I was considered an abnormal child, because my magic manifested itself early. While my cousin didn't start displaying signs of blowing up furniture or changing the color of the house-elves for his own amusement for another two years: at the age of five, I could move things without touching them, know things without hearing them, seeing them. My father saw to it that my education began straight-away, and thus my childhood was stolen, buried beneath tutors and lessons. A prodigy, I was going to be the promised child that would turn the wizarding world on its head.
Don't get me wrong, they were right about that...just, perhaps not in the way they envisioned.
I was born on June 18th, 1959, and later that same year my second favorite cousin was dropped into the world. We weren't close until our school days, but that was more of an adult choice than our own. When your elders consider themselves royalty, you might imagine wealth and status, but for a small child, it means solitude. I mean, I met other children my age, but they all believed the pureblood propaganda in ways I couldn't convince myself were true. I learned early on that everyone had at least two faces, the one they showed you and the one that appeared the moment your back was turned. In the years I'd come to observe my aunt, I'd learn that she had at least forty-seven different faces. As a result of all this; I had trouble growing close to others in general.
My father didn't want to send me to school, (he had a very specific vision for my magical education,) so he tried handling me on my own. I, on the other hand, had a very specific vision for my life and it involved leaving the house every once in awhile. On my twelfth birthday, he and I agreed that attending a proper wizarding school was the best course of action for the both of us. And so, I was enrolled alongside my second favorite cousin, Sirius.
At least there was one person I could count on while I was away. It didn't matter that together we'd be the oldest first years to attend Hogwarts that year, we were already old in soul, as a result of the way we'd been raised. I don't think it really occurred to either of us that we could think differently...not until we stepped on board that scarlet steam engine and met one James Potter, that is.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. My story doesn't actually start with me. It started a long time ago, with a man by the name of Sirius Black, way back in the 1800s. Just keep that in mind for later, I promise it's important.
I've stalled long enough, I suppose. You've probably heard a lot about a girl named Lian Kowalski by now. You might think she's pretty amazing, and she is. But in my own, unbiased opinion, she's only half of the story. Welcome to the good part:
"I told you Bella was lying," I said, triumphantly claiming the empty compartment J. "First years can get their own compartment."
"Unless this is the haunted car, and we should be expecting an inferi any minute now." Sirius followed in after me, his hands thrust deep in his pockets. The both of us were already changed into the school uniform, though the train had yet to depart from Kings Cross station. Father had said something about important first impressions-while Aunt Walburga didn't want her eldest looking like a common Muggle.
"Inferi are dead bodies enchanted-you're thinking of a poltergeist." I corrected him, tugging on the window shade so I didn't have to watch the platform outside, or more importantly-so nobody could watch me. A minute later however, Sirius had tugged it back open, claiming the seat beside me.
"You never know, there could be an enchanted dead body under this very seat," he whispered eerily, patting the cushioned bench. "One good bout of flatulence is all it would take to wake him up!"
A rather obnoxious laugh caught us off guard, and we looked around to watch the boy with tanned skin and bed-hair strut into the compartment. "I didn't know farting could wake the dead-remind me to mind my lactose before entering a graveyard."
Sirius grinned wickedly. "Or not."
They shared another laugh before the boy remembered his manners. "I'm James Potter. Who are you?" Well, most of his manners, anyway.
"I'm Sirius, and this is my cousin, Pollux," Sirius gestured towards me vaguely, knowing full-well that I wasn't about to introduce myself. I raised a single eyebrow at the so-called James and barely inclined my head.
"You're both first years?" James glanced at our school robes, before making eye contact again. I found his hazel eyes terribly invasive, as they never seemed to settle on just one place. He was very hyper. I didn't like him. "I only ask because Pollux looks older."
"Only by five months," Sirius snorted indignantly. "But yes, we're both first years. You as well?" He jerked his head to the spot beside him, adding, "Have a seat."
"Thanks." And so I watched this friendship begin to form. It wasn't long before they started cracking jokes, adding onto the ridiculous theory that farting over dead people woke them up. Just as the whistle blew, indicating that the train was about to depart, I opened the window and stuck my head out, catching one last glimpse of my father before steam enveloped most of the people waving on the platform.
My father did not wave. He stood stoically beside my aunt, who had a firm grip on Regulus's shoulder, the three of them watching the train, finding my face, and in unison wore the haughtiest expression known to wizardkind. In the Black family, that was practically a hug, so I mirrored it right back at them. Sirius was too busy with his new best friend to bother, not that he would anyway. Maybe being in Slytherin would be good for him. Every member of our family had been, sorting was merely a formality on some level.
I ducked back inside as the train began to pull away, and found two other occupants in the compartment. Also first years, judging by their size and behavior, which was indicative of childhood or neighborhood friends. After a few minutes observation, I concluded that they were both of these things. The girl looked miserable for some reason, while the boy kept trying to cheer her up. Something about her older sister hating her for leaving… Ah. She's muggleborn. I turned my attention to the boy with the unwashed hair and the black hole eyes. He was the kind of kid who would grow into his looks, hopefully. His nose belonged to a man thirty years his senior, while the slight shadows beneath his eyes were indicative of stress levels beyond age. He was not the result of a happy home, but then, Sirius and I weren't exactly the poster children for healthy families, given that we were related at least six different ways.
"Can ghosts fart?" Sirius asked James, who sniggered loudly. Five different ways. I was saved from having to listen to anything else on flatulence by black hole eyes speaking loud enough for the rest of the train car to hear.
"You'd better be in Slytherin."
"Slytherin?" James, who had not paid the pair much attention previously, looked around at the word. "Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?" he asked Sirius.
"My whole family have been in Slytherin," he said, not smiling.
"Blimey," said James, "and I thought you seemed all right!"
Sirius grinned. "Maybe I'll break the tradition." What? No. If I'm going to Slytherin you have to come with me! "Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?"
James lifted an invisible sword. "'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!' Like my dad." The sullen faced boy made a small, disparaging noise. James turned on him. "Got a problem with that?"
"No," the slight sneer said otherwise. "If you'd rather be brawny than brainy-"
"Where are you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?" interjected Sirius. The wild haired boy roared with laughter, while I rolled my eyes. I kinda felt sorry for the other boy-he'd signed himself up for that one. The redheaded girl looked at the pair in dislike.
"Come on, Severus, let's find another compartment."
"Ooooooo. . ." Sirius and James imitated her lofty voice; James tried to trip Severus as he passed.
"See ya, Snivellus!" Sirius called as the pair slammed the compartment door shut. In hindsight, I was grateful that we'd gotten past fart jokes, but I was occupied with a more pressing issue at the time.
"You don't want to be in Slytherin?" I asked, speaking for the first time since James had entered the compartment. Sirius looked around at me, and only I saw the flash of guilt in his grey eyes.
"Well… no. Do you?" He added before I could give the expected answer our family had drilled into our skulls from the time we'd learned to talk. "Honestly, do you want to be in Slytherin-not what Uncle wants, or my mum demands-what do you, Pollux Black, want?"
"I want the chance to represent my family, because though I'm not fond of Aunt Burgie and cousin Bella, I'm proud to be my father's son, and I know that being in any other house will only bring him shame." The answer came automatically, I barely had to think because I honestly felt that way… but part of me knew, even then, that my father was less concerned about the crest I would wear for seven years, and more about the magic I would wield for the rest of my life. When the hat hit my head, it wouldn't be about my family, it would be about me.
And I wasn't sure what to expect.
Around midday, a plump witch pushing a cart full of snacks and sweets stopped by and sold James about half her stock, and the other half went to Sirius. There was more food in our compartment then space to sit, and it was around then I registered my need to use the facilities. Finding the train bathroom wasn't nearly as difficult as navigating the many cars as they jerked and jumped along the tracks, while kids from ages eleven to seventeen ran from compartment to compartment trying to locate their friends. On my way back to J, a mousy looking kid was practically chased out of a compartment, where he crumpled to a heap before me on the floor. If this had happened in the street, and I'd been walking with my father or my older cousins, he'd have been kicked to the side or trampled.
But I had no such company, it was only us. Crouching down, I gripped his upper arm and raised him up. His light brown eyes widened, and it occurred to me later that he expected to be struck. "Stand up. What happened?"
Shaking slightly, the boy spoke to my feet. "Th-they d-d-didn't want t-to share their compart-t-m-ment with m-me."
"Indeed? How old were they?" I asked, glancing through the window at the group. If I had to guess, I'd imagine they were all on Engorgement charms-there was no way they were still young enough to attend school there. In my twelve year old memory, they each looked to be about fourteen feet tall.
"S-s-ixth y-years I think." He stammered.
"Hm. You'd best find another seating arrangement then," I said off-handedly. Looking him over, I noticed that he was very skinny, as in, his skin hugged his bones, giving him a gaunt, desperate appearance. He had a few scratches on his cheek, fresh ones, as though he owned a feral rabbit. "What's your name?"
Still speaking to my feet, something I was technically used to as a Black, the boy said, "R-Remus. Lupin."
I coughed into my shoulder, barely containing my impatience. I hadn't lived for very long, but I couldn't imagine meeting someone more submissive than this little fellow. "Sit up straight," I commanded, emulating my father. "You don't want anyone to run you over on your first day. I'm Pollux R. Black, and you would do well to remember my name." I waited for the boy to meet my eyes before adding. "That's how you make an impressive introduction. Don't mumble at people, or they'll mistake your shyness for fragility."
"R-right," said Remus, bobbing his head up and down. And there-for the first time, I saw a hardness grow in his eyes.
"Come sit with me. There's only my cousin, his git friend and more candy than space to sit, but who knows, you might enjoy that kind of thing." Without waiting for his agreement, I gripped his arm again and pulled him along behind me. Sirius and James were exchanging chocolate frog cards when I slid the door open and shoved Remus Lupin inside. They barely looked up, but they didn't object either. Remus bobbed his head and tentatively sat down with me on the opposite side. I tossed him a chocolate cauldron, which I personally preferred because they didn't try to run away until you bit their ladle's off.
I thought the journey would pass in relative comfort from that point forward, unfortunately we received a visitor almost an hour later. Cissy looked down her nose at us, a pretty sixteen year old girl until you looked into her eyes, which, though grey and glasslike, were icy and unwelcome. She had the classic aristocratic posture, and was checking to see whether Sirius and I were associating with the proper people. James was a pureblood, anyone could see-all the Potters were. In fact, he was probably our second cousin. Cissy had barely looked in the compartment before she latched her unforgiving eyes on Remus, who seemed to freeze the moment she did.
"Hello Cissy," I said, if only to try and break the tension. Sirius had stopped talking the moment she appeared, and only by the familiarity in my voice did James and Remus have any idea that she was a relation of some sort. "How can we help you?"
She flicked her eyes towards me for a brief interlude, allowing Remus a chance to breathe before fixing him with her penetrating stare again. "Just wanted to see if you two were alright," she lied sweetly. "You don't want to be associating with the wrong sort, you know."
Remus nibbled on his chocolate-he'd eaten quite a bit of it in the last hour and was only just beginning to show signs of relaxing when Cissy showed up. Honestly, if he didn't grow a spine soon, he wouldn't last long.
"We're aware, Cissy," Sirius drawled, putting as much boredom as he could manage in his voice. Cissy looked around at him, glanced at James one last time before turning to look at me.
"Well… don't say I didn't try." She said loftily, before sliding the door closed.
James exhaled loudly. "Who was that witch?"
"Another cousin of ours," Sirius explained. "Her name is Narcissa and I'll give you one guess which House she belongs to."
"Are all your family like her?" James asked curiously.
"Worse," answered Sirius, and I knew he was thinking of Bella, because I certainly was.
"Well, you must be the black sheep of the family," James declared happily, nodding at Sirius and myself. "Get it? Black? Black sheep?"
Remus snorted into his chocolate, blushed and buried himself in his dusty copy of the Standard Book of Spells: Level One.
Sirius and James fell into conversation on Quidditch, while I spent the rest of the trip wondering why I insisted on public school not three months ago. I suppose I'd forgotten how tiresome people could be.
Night fell, and the silhouette of the castle became visible through the window. I think I fell asleep at some point during the trip because I didn't remember watching the sunset, and I noticed a slight change in the way Remus held himself. Still timid, yet I sensed a certain rigidity to him now, and it was a tad unsettling.
The minute the train began to slow to a halt, the four of us ditched compartment J to hover near the door. I might have pushed Sirius onto the platform before the train technically stopped, but when later accused I denied it, and been rightly indignant when James did the same to me.
"Firs' years this way!" A gruff voice called out of the dark, somehow through the white noise of the hundreds of students evacuating and moving across the platform. I squinted until I caught sight of a large, swinging lantern making its way through. It was held aloft by a huge man with a wild beard and mane covering everything but his twinkling black eyes and a squashed nose. "Firs' years with me!"
"Hiya Hagrid!" James called, waving his arm and moving forward through the crowd to meet the man. Sirius was right behind him, so Remus and I had little choice but to follow. "It is Hagrid, right? My dad told me about you!"
"Tha's right," answered the beastly man. "Yeh wouldn't happen ter be Charlus's boy, now would yeh?"
James beamed so brightly, I anticipated his head to explode momentarily. Tick, tick, boom.
A small gathering of first years made their way toward the man and his lantern, and once Hagrid was convinced all of them were present, he led us towards the edge of a black lake, out along a pier where several small boats were docked. I claimed the boat nearest the front, followed by Sirius, Remus and James. Hagrid claimed his own boat, and the small fleet set off across the lake.
"My dad says there's a giant squid living in here!" exclaimed James, leaning so far over the edge of the boat, I wondered whether he'd capsize the boat, or if his glasses would slide off and be lost to the squid.
"I heard from one of my cousins that a whole city of merpeople live at the bottom." Sirius said, before grabbing a fistful of James's robes and tugging him back into his seat. He then glanced back at me. "Did Andi ever tell you that story?"
"Before or after she started dating the muggleborn?"
Sirius wrinkled his nose at me. "What does it matter?"
"It doesn't, I was just wondering how you felt; whether or not you sided with Aunt Burgie and Uncle Cy. " I sniffed, turning my gaze on the brightly lit castle as it came into view.
Before long, Hagrid was leading us up a grand staircase, only to pass us off to a stern-faced, older witch. She wore emerald green robes and had her hair pulled back into a tight knot at the base of her neck.
"Welcome to Hogwarts!" She called to the group of first years. She then proceeded to explain the structure and rules of Hogwarts, house points, and everything a student would need to know, if their parents were incapable of explaining it all to them already. I knew most of it from the older family members, cousins, uncles and aunts, grandparents, all of which (like Sirius had said) had been in Slytherin. The witch disappeared after delivering the welcome speech, and in the lull she left behind, the group of first years began to fidget.
A boy with well-groomed hair and obviously new robes-classic signs of a pureblood-was looking around at the rest of us with an accusing expression on his face. I watched as he slowly turned on the spot until his eyes found Remus, who was standing stiffly in my shadow. In a loud voice I found more unnecessary than James Potter's laugh, he said, "Are you a mudblood?"
If he had said this to the Remus Lupin I'd met earlier on the train, it wouldn't have been exciting, in fact I might've felt rather aggressive towards the other boy in question. But he was saying it now, to the rigid, irritable-looking Remus who gazed coolly back, despite the whispers and murmurs that filled the entryway. Without so much as a blink, Remus replied, "Half-blood, pureblood, muggle-born; whatever I am doesn't matter-I still know more about magic than a posh git like you."
I bowed my head to hide the grin that was breaking across my face, and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Sirius and James looking absolutely delighted. Before anything else could happen, the stern witch had returned. "We're ready for you."
The double doors opened into a magnificent hall, just as Andi had once described it to me. On some level it was a bit smaller than I'd made it out to be in my head, considering it was half the size of the grandroom in Black Manor. I sensed it was wise to not mention that fact aloud, even if it was absolutely true.
The four long tables were there, not that I expected them to be in another part of the castle, with the banner of each house waving overhead, scarlet for Gryffindor, cobalt for Ravenclaw, emerald for Slytherin, and golden for Hufflepuff. At the end of the hall was the staff table, and just before the staff was a tall stool, upon which perched a moldy old hat. The first years came to a halt just before it, standing in a kind of group on display for the returning students and the teachers. I couldn't be sure, but I got the feeling that everyone was focused on the ugly hat, and seconds later I realized why.
It's brim opened like a mouth, and it began to sing in a carrying voice for all to hear:
Welcome to the Sorting
A ceremony beheld by all
Just remember you're nothing special
The moment you leave this Hall
For it is together you find your strength
Mark my words for they are true
This tradition can't go on without me
Sortings? I've seen a few
In here you are united
And however much I wish it could last
Out there you are divided
In future, present, and past
Yet it's not my job to scold
Indeed, my responsibility is simple
I sit on your heads and sort you out
Whether your abilities are small or triple
You might belong in Slytherin
Where you'll find your real friends
Or perhaps in Hufflepuff
Where loyalties never end
You might find purpose in Gryffindor
Where dwell the brave and daring
Or maybe the solution is Ravenclaw
Where knowledge won't be sparing
So try me on, if you wish to know
For yourself where you belong
I'll have a look inside your head
I've never yet been wrong!
As the last note rang out across the Great Hall, and the brim closed itself back up, the rest of the assembled people applauded as though the hat deserved to know that it had done a great job rhyming. Wait, is this a regular thing? Do I have to sit through seven years of this?
Before I could ask someone who might have an answer, the stern-faced witch, McGonagall, proceeded to call out names from a long roll of parchment she might have conjured from thin air, or pulled from one of her magnificent sleeves, I couldn't say.
"Aikin, Davis!" became a Hufflepuff right off the bat, and "Albring, Merlyn!" followed suit. As a point of fact, it wasn't long before "Black, Pollux!" and I moved forward to sit on the stool, turning to face the rest of the students wearing the classic proud and haughty expression as was expected of my family. I actually had to try, meanwhile Sirius's face just fell that way, it was very vexing at times. Keeping my posture as aristocratic as possible, I stared down my nose at the entire hall before the moldy old hat was placed over half my head, or so it seemed because suddenly all I could see was the brown fabric that fell over my eyes.
I know the song indicated that my head was about to be examined, but I was not prepared for the little voice that entered my brain.
Hmm. . .curious. Plenty of talent, a desire to be left alone, and yet. . .how you value loyalty.
I furrowed my brow at that; I couldn't recall overvaluing loyalty, not from my family members or anyone. Quite the opposite, if the train ride was anything to go by-was the hat reading my mind or my future? Maybe wanting followers or whatever was a Slytherin quality I hadn't fully grown into just yet.
My mouth suddenly became like the Sahara desert, completely devoid of moisture, but the hat wasn't finished commenting on whatever it saw inside me.
A mind geared towards learning and growth. . .and though you carry a certain disregard for rule and law. . . still you belong in. . ."RAVENCLAW!"
The hat was whipped off my head as the table beneath the blue banner cheered wildly, waving me over to join. Not fully trusting my legs to carry me there, I slowly got to my feet, glancing over at Sirius whose jaw had dropped to the floor.
It couldn't be real. I was born to be in Slytherin. I glanced at Professor McGonagall, half tempted to ask if I could be re-sorted, but the expression she was giving me said that in no way was I allowed to wear the hat once again. I'm sure if that was a thing, the ceremony would last years.
Numbly, and feeling like a colt trying to walk for the first time, I made it to the Ravenclaw table, and sat beside the boy with large cheeks who had been sorted ahead of me. He offered me his hand, while I took notice of his basset hound eyes, and said, "Damocles Belby, good to meet you."
Now, first day at school, first person I'd talk to in my new house, it was probably a good time to make an easy friend. I wish I'd thought of that sitting beside the funny-looking kid. Taking out my shock at being sorted into the librarian house instead of my birthright, I said, "Pollux Black, I don't give a care," (only I didn't say care) and turned to watch my cousin wrestle with the hat. Sirius sat about as rigidly as I did, though I couldn't imagine for the same reason. The hat was probably telling him the opposite of what it told me, even though my assessment would fit Sirius better. Figures, I thought sourly, caring hat probably mixed us up.
A moment later, the hat shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!" shocking me, Sirius, and anyone who knew anything about the most ancient and noble house of crap. But, I suppose if I was going to be a disgrace, at least someone would be there to share the load with me. Sirius ran to the table under the lion's banner, looking stunned but happier than I'd ever seen him at home. He was the first one to be sorted into Gryffindor tonight as well, so he received a kind of heroes welcome, or that's how it seemed. Someone clapped his back and a few people tried to ruffle his hair-and he didn't even seem to mind, though I did catch him fixing it after the excitement had settled down.
Two Blacks at Hogwarts. Neither of them in Slytherin. I found Cissy easily, sitting like a princess at the table beneath the emerald banner, her cool gaze dancing between Sirius and myself. I caught her eye and for a moment we were locked in a kind of stare down. In that split second, all my feelings of shock vanish, and I was able to return her dismissive expression until she looked away. I could never tell what Cissy was thinking, even though my father claimed I was highly intuitive, but in that instance, I felt like I had won.
"Evans, Lily!" was in the middle of her sorting by the time my attention returned to the ceremony. It was the girl from before—whom James and Sirius had taunted on the train. I knew in my soul she wouldn't be sorted into Slytherin like her slime-ridden friend would have hoped, and I was barely surprised when the hat put her in Gryffindor barely three seconds after the hat had been placed on her vivid red hair. She was followed by a girl named "Fortescue, Alice!" who was sorted into Hufflepuff.
I rested an elbow on the table, careful to not upset the golden table setting. Judging the remaining group of first years waiting to be sorted, I could tell that this was going to take awhile. I sat up slightly when "Lupin, Remus!" was called forward, but settled down again when he was sorted into Gryffindor. Few other names caught my interest, though I scoffed when I heard the name "Meadowes, Dorcas!" because it was basically the feminine form of dork, and had to bite my tongue when she was sorted into Ravenclaw. She had dark, exotic features and sat across the table from me, her hair surrounding her head like a kind of frizzy halo, or sheeps wool. She caught me staring and frowned, before we both turned to watch the remainder of the sorting.
At long last, when "Zabini, Allura!" sashayed over to the Slytherin table, we were at last allowed to eat at the headmaster's signal. The golden plates magically filled with food, and I began to load up on every good thing I could reach.
Of all the houses, I suspected Ravenclaw had received the smallest amount of first years, my suspicion confirming all the while I looked around at the other tables. Gryffindor was fit to burst and so was Slytherin, and even Hufflepuff was hard pressed for space. Beneath the blue banner sat myself, Damocles-Big-Cheeks-Belby, some bloke with thick glasses whose name I hadn't paid attention to and another, rather plain sort of fellow. As for the girls, there was Dork Meadowes, and a slip of a girl with platinum blonde hair and wide eyes. The two of them couldn't be more different if they tried, and that was purely by appearance standards. Was I doomed to socialize with the five of them for the next seven years?
Not if I have a say in it. And funnily enough, I think I do.
Dinner didn't drag on like the sorting ceremony had, and after the headmasters welcoming message and announcements, we were all free to go. A pair of fifth years moved to corral the seven of us before we got lost in the crowd. The girl was short, had hazel eyes and auburn hair. "First years, stick with us if you please! We'll show you the way to the common room." The boy at her side was tall and looked as though he'd rather be anywhere but acting as a tour guide to the new kids. "My name is Mafalda Hopkirk, and this is Xenophilius Lovegood." she added, by way of lazy introduction. "We're both prefects, so if at anytime this year you find yourself confused or needing guidance, please come and talk to one of us, we'd love to help!"
With that cheerful greeting, the pair of them proceeded to navigate us through the castle. I watched a group of Slytherins disappear down into the dungeons with a twinge of longing, but only a twinge. It wasn't that I'd been looking forward to being in Slytherin, it was just that I'd planned on it. I knew nothing about what it meant to be a Ravenclaw, and wasn't looking forward to learning. Already I didn't belong in the house of the "wise".
Hopkirk and Lovegood led us up the marble staircase with the Gryffindors, and I spotted Sirius and Potter through the crowd of black robes and legs. They were laughing at something hilarious, and completely ignored me. Lupin, on the other hand, glanced in my direction and twitched the corner of his mouth in what might have been a bracing smile. Or maybe he just had a nervous twitch, either way, I nodded at him once before our houses split up; the Gryffindors heading west and the Ravenclaws east.
The enchanted staircase was as massive as they'd been described to me, and I was content to walk behind Belby because nobody had warned him about trick steps and whatnot-he got stuck three times before we moved off onto the eighth floor, through winding and befuddling corridors I was sure to get lost in at some point in time, till we began to climb a spiral staircase into a tall tower. Outside the grounds would have been dark, but around this time of month there was an almost full moon to light up what looked like a Quidditch field.
Finally we reached a door. There was no handle and no keyhole: nothing but a plain expanse of aged wood, and a bronze knocker in the shape of an eagle.
Hopkirk reached out a hand and knocked upon the smooth surface, which echoed down the staircase like beats of a large drum. At once the beak of the eagle opened, but instead of a bird's call, a soft, musical voice said, "Does a person's name influence the person they become?"
Hopkirk glanced over her shoulder at the group, frowning thoughtfully. "What do you think?"
"What?" Belby coughed. "Isn't there just a password?"
"No—the knocker asks a question that must be answered before it can open." She replied with a smile. "Each if you take a minute before you try to answer."
I stared at the eagle knocker, which I could've sworn was staring at me. What was the question? 'Does a person's name influence the person they become?' Well...not necessarily. Look at me, and Sirius. First day at school and already we're defying our family name. Though mine wasn't exactly intentional…
Silence stretched among us for several minutes, but it was the blonde who raised a delicate hand. "Calling an owl 'Goldfish' doesn't mean it has gills."
Hopkirk looked at the knocker, which answered, "Indeed not," before the door swung inward to admit our group. I hesitated on the threshold, thinking about the knocker-were we expected to answer the door every single time we wanted to go to bed? Someone pushed me from behind, I was betting Dork Meadowes and I stumbled into the common room for the first time.
The Ravenclaw common room was a wide, circular room, airier than any I'd seen in the castle so far. But then, it was only the first night. Graceful arched windows punctuated the walls, which were hung with blue and bronze silks. The ceiling was domed and painted with stars, which were echoed in the midnight-blue carpet. There were tables, chairs and bookcases, and in a niche opposite the door stood a tall statue of white marble. I guessed it was the founder: Rowena Ravenclaw. It would make a lot more sense than a random student who had been skilled in sculpting. The statue stood beside a door which led, I guessed, to dormitories above. I strode right up to the marble woman and she seemed to look back with a quizzical half smile on her face, beautiful yet slightly intimidating. A delicate-looking circlet had been reproduced in marble on top of her head. There were tiny words etched into it. 'Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure.'
"Welcome to Ravenclaw," Hopkirk was saying to the rest. "You'll find that the common room will become like a home to you during the school year. The dormitories are found through that door. All of your belongings have been brought up and are waiting for you."
She winked and moved to one of the tables, sitting with a group of people her age. Lovegood shuffled away towards the dormitories, leaving the rest of us free agents.
Dork looked around at the rest of us. "I'm Dorcas. What were all your names again?"
The only other girl smiled serenely. "Mine is Pandora."
"Quirinus," answered the plain faced boy.
"I'm Damocles Belby."
"You can call me Roy," said the boy with the thick glasses.
They all looked around at me, even Belby whom I'd already slighted that evening. None of them were individuals with which I had any inclination to socialize with on a regular basis, so I fell back on the House of Black standby: "Black. Pollux Black."
Dork raised her eyebrows, but I knew it wasn't out of respect or amazement, rather I sensed it was condescending. "Oh. You're an inbred."
I remained stoic. "And?"
She shrugged. "Just wondering if you've got an extra toe or something due to your weak gene pool."
"I've not noticed any such abnormality, but rest assured if I should locate one, you'll be the last to know." I coughed into my shoulder. "Now, if you'll all excuse me…" I strode towards the dormitory staircase, but not before I heard the other girl, Pandora, speak up.
"Good night, Black Pollux Black!"
The dormitory was the last sort of place I never knew I needed. It was a wide, circular room with two high windows facing north and south, respectively. There were four poster beds were situated at precise intervals all around the room, the sheets were dark blue while the frame was chestnut. The floor was carpeted with strange markings (that reminded me of the ancient magic my father liked to read about while he drank an entire bottle of firewhiskey in one sitting,) and the ceiling, like the one in the great hall, had been enchanted to reflect the actual sky.
The one thing that surprised me, as I found my trunk at the foot of the bed furthest from the door, was that there were no desks in the dorm room. I expected the 'smart house' to have work stations everywhere, but so far it had only been open spaces and free spirited motifs. I guess I should have realized that night that everything I assumed about Ravenclaw house was about to be disproved.