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Chapter 1: September 2015
Louis' legs felt like wobbly spaghetti noodles as his mother led him by the hand through the train station. He couldn't understand why he was still moving, because all he wanted to do was to run straight home and never leave. Even after thousands of assurances from his parents and sisters that he would have a great time at Hogwarts and would make tons of friends, Louis was incredibly nervous. In fact, he was more than nervous. He didn't want to go at all.
Louis' whole life he'd lived with his parents. His mother had never been far, often in the kitchen or in the garden. It had been his mother who had taught him to read and write, to count and to do simple arithmetic. His father had taught him how to swim in the water just outside their beach home, and in the winters when the water was too cold for swimming, his father had taught him to play wizard's chess. Louis' whole life was at Shell Cottage. His cousins – James, Lucy, Albus, Rose… they were his friends, his playmates. His life was good the way it was.
Hogwarts was a mystery, an unknown. Louis had no idea whether he would fit in, whether he would make friends like his sisters had. Louis knew he was much less outgoing than his sisters. Neither of them would have had any problem making friends with complete strangers. For Louis, it felt like an insurmountable obstacle.
"Here we are Louis," Fleur said gently, pulling Louis from his thoughts.
He looked around and took in the sight of the enormous train in front of him, steam spewing out the top. Around him, students and their families milled about, talking, laughing, hugging, and saying their goodbyes. Though Louis had been to the train platform before, to see his sisters off to school, it felt incredibly different this time. This time he wouldn't be standing on the platform with his mother and father watching the train pull away and waving to Victoire and Dominique through the windows. When the train was gone, he wouldn't be turning around and returning to King's Cross. His mother wouldn't take him home and then prepare lunch for the two of them as she always did while his father went to work late. This year, Louis was meant to be on that train. He would be on the other side of the windows with his sisters, waving goodbye to Fleur and Bill.
"Are you ready?" his mother asked when Louis didn't speak for a long time.
"Maman," Louis said in a small voice. "Are you sure I have to go? Maybe you could homeschool me."
"Non," Fleur shook her head. "Louis, I know you are scared. But your sisters will be there with you and you know they'll take care of you."
"But I want to be with you," Louis whined.
"Come on Louis, it'll be fun!" Dominique assured him. "All three of us at Hogwarts. All the Delacour-Weasley children together."
"I want to stay with maman," Louis shook his head. He felt tears behind his eyes and forced them back. He wouldn't cry. His father would not want him to cry. "Why do I have to go away to school."
"It's an important rite of passage," Dominique informed him. "Once you're there I know you'll love it."
"How can you know that?" Louis demanded. "Just because you like Hogwarts doesn't mean I will."
"Everyone likes Hogwarts," Dominique replied. "You'll see."
Louis looked up at his mother and bit his lip. "Do I really have to go?" he asked again.
"Yes," his mother nodded. "Dominique, would you…?"
"I'll watch out for him," Dominique nodded.
Fleur transferred Louis' hand from her grasp to Dominique's.
"Stay with Dominique," Fleur told him. "She'll make sure everything's alright."
Louis closed his eyes and took a deep breath before nodding his head. This was it. There was no getting out of it now. He'd known when they'd gone to Diagon Alley to buy his robes and school supplies that there was no way his parents were considering letting him stay home. When his mother had packed his trunk, the chance of convincing them had shrunk to almost zero. When they'd left the house this morning, he'd known there was next to no chance that his parents would change their mind. And now he knew there was no use trying anymore. It was happening. He was going to Hogwarts.
"I'll see you for Christmas," Fleur said, wrapping Louis in a hug.
"The time will fly by," Dominique assured him. "The first term goes by so much faster than the second term."
"I don't suppose that has anything to do with the first term actually being shorter than the second?" Bill asked jokingly before leaning down to give Louis his own hug.
"Yes, I suppose it does," Dominique replied back, rolling her eyes at her father.
Dominique hugged each of their parents herself before leading Louis towards the train and helping her father to lift their trunks up the stairs.
"Ready?" Dominique asked, still holding Louis' hand.
"Not really," Louis replied honestly.
Dominique squeezed his hand and then let go, nudging him in the direction of the stairs.
Louis took a deep breath and grabbed onto the railing, climbing one stair at a time until he reached the top. Dominique was right behind him and as soon as she reached the top, Louis reached for her hand again. It wasn't his mother's hand, but it would do. He and Dominique waved to their parents one last time, and then Dominique gently nudged Louis to the right.
Louis grabbed his trunk and pushed it in front of him while Dominique dragged hers from behind. As she led him down the corridor, Louis found himself holding onto Dominique's hand a little tighter. Inside each compartment were students of various ages, all appearing to know each other and making a great deal of noise greeting each other. If Hogwarts was going to be this noisy, Louis knew he wasn't going to like it.
Finally, Dominique pulled Louis to a stop and gestured to a compartment with two boys inside. Louis felt the butterflies that had been in his stomach all morning speed up as Dominique slid the compartment door open and propelled Louis inside.
"Hey guys," his sister said. "This is my brother Louis. It's his first day and he's a little nervous."
"Hey man, I remember you," one of the boys said with a smile. "Good to see you."
Louis frowned and then realized he did remember the boy. It was Dominique's friend Miles, who had come for ice cream with them that one time after Dominique's first year.
"I'm Miles, in case you don't remember me," Miles added when Louis only stared at him.
Louis shook his head, embarrassed. "Yeah, I remember you," he nodded.
"And I'm Tom," the other boy said. "We're Domi's friends."
"Hi," Louis said shyly. Both Miles and Tom were two years older than Louis, and Louis didn't have much experience with boys who were older than him. Of all his cousins, he was the oldest boy, the next oldest being James, who was one year younger than him. There were his uncles of course, but adults were different than teenagers.
Dominique began to levitate their trunks up into the luggage racks and Louis stared at her in surprise. Of course, he knew that Dominique must be able to do magic, since she'd spent the past two years learning spells and such at Hogwarts, but he'd never seen her perform magic before. His parents and his aunts and uncles did magic all the time, but it was different when it was his sister.
"Anyone seen Brooke?" Dominique asked.
"Not yet," Tom shook his head. "But she's always running late."
"I'm here!" Brooke cried right then, pulling the compartment door open and shoving her trunk inside for Dominique to levitate up to the luggage rack.
"Hey Brooke," Dominique greeted her friend. Then she placed her hand on Louis' shoulder, causing him to jump a little. "This is my baby brother Louis."
"I'm not a baby," Louis muttered under his breath. He was pretty sure nobody heard him though, because as he did, Brooke was exclaiming.
"Oh! Louis, I've heard so much about you! Aren't you so excited to be finally going to Hogwarts?"
"Not really," Louis shrugged.
"Oh," Brooke frowned. "Well that's – " she looked up at Dominique and something in Dominique's face must have told her to stop.
"Alright Louis," Dominique said then, crouching down. "Now I'm going to give you two choices. You can stay here with me and my friends until we get to Hogwarts, or else we can go for a walk and see if we can find a first year compartment where you can try and make some friends."
Louis bit his lip nervously. Dominique's friends were older than he was, and strangers. But at least here he wasn't completely alone. "I want to stay with you," he admitted.
"Alright," Dominique nodded, taking a seat next to Tom. "You can stay here." She left enough room for Louis to sit between her and the wall while Brooke sat opposite them next to Miles.
"So, how was everyone's summer?"
When the train pulled into Hogsmeade station, Louis' butterflies returned with a fury. The train ride had been alright. He'd mostly just sat and listened to his sister and her friends as they talked about all sorts of things he didn't understand and people he didn't know. But now that they were almost at the castle, he was nervous again.
"Alright," Dominique said once the train had stopped. "Now the first years go up to the castle with Hagrid," she explained. "So you're going to have to go without me."
"I don't want to!" Louis cried. "Can't I go up with you?"
"No," Dominique shook her head. "The third years ride in the carriages. The first years take the boats."
"What about the fifth years?" Louis asked. He meant his other sister, Victoire. Maybe she could take him up to the castle. She was a prefect this year after all.
"Victoire is busy," Dominique said. "She doesn't have time to hold your hand. And besides, fifth years go up in the carriages with the rest of us."
Louis looked out the window with apprehension as he took in all the students in black robes circulating around the platform. "What if I get lost?" he asked.
"You won't get lost, I promise," Dominique said. "Come on."
His sister grabbed his hand and led Louis off the train. Louis went with her obediently, content so long as she wasn't leaving him.
Dominique weaved their way through the crowd of students, pushing past the older students, who were going one way, and leading Louis towards the pack of first years that was congregating on the end of the platform.
"Professor Hagrid?" Dominique called out.
Louis did a double take when he saw the man Dominique was calling for. He was huge – bigger than anyone Louis had ever met. He towered over everyone on the platform.
"Dominique," the large man greeted her. "Good teh see yeh," he said. "I saw that yer signed up fer my class this year."
"That's right," Dominique nodded. "I'm really looking forward to it."
As if only noticing Louis' presence at that moment, Hagrid peered down at him in interest. "And who've we got here?" he asked.
"This is my brother, Louis," Dominique said. "It's his first year. He's a little nervous, and also quite shy. Would you mind looking out for him while you take them up to the castle."
"I'd be happy teh," Hagrid agreed. He held out his hand for Louis to shake. "Nice teh meet yeh, Louis."
"Nice to meet you," Louis said, his voice shaking as he reached out to shake the man's hand.
"Alright Louis, I have to go now," Dominique said. "But you'll be fine here with Professor Hagrid. Just stick with him and you'll be fine."
"You promise?" Louis asked.
"I promise," Dominique nodded. "And I'll find you later, after the feast."
Louis sucked in a breath and nodded. "Okay," he agreed. Sooner or later he was going to have to do this without Dominique, and he didn't want to whine in front of his fellow first years. "Bye Dominique."
"Bye Louis," Dominique waved as she walked away.
Once she was gone, Louis looked back up at Hagrid warily.
"Guess yer with me, kid," Hagrid said jovially. "Come on yeh lot!" he called out to all the first years. "Follow me teh the boats!"
Sticking right by the professor's side, Louis allowed himself to be led away from the train and his sister and towards the boats and the castle.
Once they reached the Entrance Hall, Hagrid disappeared, leaving all the first years alone in a room.
"Hey," one boy said, walking up to Louis. "I saw you on the platform before with your sister. You were holding her hand."
Louis swallowed, not liking the boy's tone. His mother had instructed him in how to make friends though, so he figured he'd give it a try.
"I'm Louis Weasley," he said, sticking out his hand. "It's nice to meet you."
"Whatever," the boy said, knocking Louis' hand away. "So what's your deal? Or are you just that big of a baby?"
"I'm not a baby," Louis defended himself.
"Oh really?" the boy asked. "Because it kind of looked like your sister was babysitting you. And then she passed you off to Hagrid as if you couldn't just follow him up to the castle on your own."
"I just didn't want to get lost," Louis explained.
The boy laughed at him and Louis bit his lip.
Before Louis could be mocked further though, Hagrid returned and announced that they were ready for them in the Great Hall. Hurrying to walk next to Hagrid again and keep away from the mean boy, Louis was led out of the room and through a pair of double doors into the biggest room Louis had ever been in yet – the Great Hall.
Louis knew that the four tables belonged to each of the houses, and he knew which were which, so he was easily able to locate the Gryffindor table and his sisters. Dominique was sitting with her friends from the train close to the front of the room, while Victoire sat with Teddy nearer to the back.
Louis waved at each of his sisters, pleased when both met his gaze and waved back. Louis felt comforted, knowing that at least he wasn't completely alone in this large hall. His sisters weren't by his side, but at least they were nearby and could see him.
The first years reached the front of the room and the Headmaster made a few remarks before the sorting began. Louis knew that all he would be required to do was sit with a hat on his head, but he found that as his turn neared, he was more and more nervous about going up there. Not only would he have to sit there and wait for a verdict from a talking hat, but he would be doing it with every eye in the room trained on him. It was a lot of attention that Louis wasn't comfortable with.
Too soon, Louis' name was called. Just like that morning, his legs felt like spaghetti as he forced himself to walk up the steps to the platform and sit down on the stool. Professor Longbottom – who he knew from the few times he'd met him at his Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny's house – slowly lowered the hat onto his head and plunged him into darkness.
"I was wondering if I'd be getting another Weasley this year," the hat said, either in Louis' ear or in his head he wasn't sure. "Of course, Gryffindor is the obvious choice for you lot."
Louis bit his lip. He wanted to be sorted into Gryffindor more than anything, but he wasn't sure he was brave enough. Gryffindor was for people like his father. His father had worked fearlessly as a curse breaker for years, braving booby-traps and facing death on a regular basis. During the second wizarding war, his father had fought twice – both in the battle at Hogwarts in '96 and then again at the Battle of Hogwarts in '97. In fact, just about all his Weasley Aunts and Uncles had fought during the war. Though his mother hadn't gone to Hogwarts, she could have been in Gryffindor with her bravery. She'd even been a champion in the Triwizard tournament back in '94 with his Uncle Harry. If that didn't count as bravery, Louis didn't know what did. But Louis would never do anything like that. Louis didn't have the courage to submit his name to a competition that might threaten his life. Louis couldn't imagine risking being blown up or dropped into a bit of snakes in Egypt or somewhere for his job. And if a third wizarding war were to come about, Louis predicted that he would sooner be found curled up in a ball in the basement rather than shooting spells at the enemy.
"You don't think you belong in Gryffindor," the hat murmured, picking up on Louis' inner thoughts. "You think I ought to just put you in Hufflepuff and be done with it. But you have more courage than you know."
Louis wasn't sure about that assessment either. What did that hat know? It was a hat. How could it know how Louis might react in a hypothetical situation?
"I know that there's a lot that you aren't ready to admit yet, even to yourself," the sorting hat said, as if in reply. "And I know that you're going to need a lot of courage to face it all. And I can see that you will have that courage. Even if it hasn't fully developed yet."
Louis frowned. What wasn't he admitting to himself? What did the hat see that he couldn't?
The hat didn't reply this time, instead screaming the word, "GRYFFINDOR!" out loud so that the whole hall could hear him.
Louis wanted to ask the hat more, find out what it wasn't telling him. Unfortunately, the hat was being lifted off his head and Louis knew that his time with the hat was done.
The Gryffindor table was clapping loudly, and Louis could see both his sisters staring up at him proudly. Slowly, Louis stood up from the stool, testing his legs before he tried to walk. They were wobbly still, but stronger than they had been before. Maybe the hat was right. Maybe Louis was stronger than he knew.
Louis descended to the Gryffindor table and sat down amongst the other first years. Three more students were sorted, and then the feast began. Not bold enough to talk yet, Louis spent the meal listening to his fellow Gryffindors around him discussing various topics and Louis just soaked in the feeling of being at Hogwarts. Though he wasn't yet sure he wouldn't have preferred homeschooling, he could see why his parents had insisted that he come here. There was something about Hogwarts – something so different from his experience at home. Louis couldn't put his finger on what it was, but he knew it was something special
The next day was Louis' first day of classes. He still didn't really know any of the other students, and he kept mostly to himself. At breakfast, he sat with Dominique and her friends, not confident enough to choose one of the groups of first years to eat with. In his classes, he sat on the edge of the room and kept his head down, doing his work and listening to his professors. When classes were over, he first went to the library and found an empty table where he could complete his homework. Then he returned to the common room and occupied himself by reading ahead in his history of magic textbook.
Dominique encouraged Louis to go up to the other first years and introduce himself, but the longer Louis didn't do it, the scarier the prospect became. By the next day, Louis still hadn't even introduced himself to his dorm mates, instead keeping to himself and staying quiet in the dorm. He sat alone again in all his classes, and after completing his homework, sought out Victoire in the common room and spent some time with her.
"Don't you think you should try to make some friends?" Victoire asked when Louis joined her.
"That's what Dominique said," Louis muttered. "But it's not as easy as it seems."
"I could help you," Victoire offered.
Louis remembered the boy from that first day, right before the sorting, who'd made fun of him for holding Dominique's hand. He'd later learned the boy's name was David Flint, when he'd been sorted into Slytherin. "No," Louis shook his head. "If I do make friends, I need to do it on my own."
Thursday night was the first years' first astronomy class. Louis was skeptical, because the class took place at midnight, which was way past his bedtime. Of course, Louis realized that now that he was at Hogwarts, he no longer had an actual bedtime, only a curfew, though he'd continued to adhere to the time that his mother had set for him when he'd turned eleven.
Since the other first years elected to stay up until astronomy class, instead of going to bed first and then waking up just before class was to start, Louis decided to do the same. By eleven thirty, when it was time to start making his way to class, Louis was exhausted and already regretted his decision. At least if he'd slept a few hours, he'd be more alert. As it was, Louis wasn't sure he was going to be able to make it through the entire lesson.
Louis found the astronomy tower easily enough. There were tons of other first years all making their way in the same direction, so Louis only had to follow them. He ascended the stairs to the tower, finding himself out of breath even before he reached the top. By the time he competed the climb, Louis knew for sure that he couldn't forgo sleep before this class ever again.
The classroom was circular and was open to the sky. Stations for each student were set up all around the room, with the teacher's desk in the center. Louis chose a workstation and started spreading out his things – some parchment with a quill and some ink, his astronomy textbook, and his brand-new telescope.
Professor Brunwell was already there, in the middle of the room, sorting through some papers. Louis waited patiently until everyone was situated and then the professor began the class.
"Welcome to Astronomy," Professor Brunwell declared. He went on to give a brief introduction to the course and explained that because they only met once a week, each lesson was going to be very important and there would be lots of homework as well.
Once he'd finished presenting the course, as all the Professors Louis had had so far had done, Professor Brunwell jumped right into the course. The first thing to do was to teach everyone how to put together their telescopes. Professor Brunwell demonstrated with his own, and then the students were left to try for themselves, while the Professor circulated and helped where needed.
Louis took his time assembling the telescope. He didn't rush like many of the students around him, and as a result he didn't make any mistakes and quickly had his telescope completely assembled and pointing up at the stars.
"Very good Mr. Weasley," Professor Brunwell said as he passed by. Why don't you take a look at the skies, get a feel for what we'll be studying in this course."
Louis did as instructed and bent his knees so that his eye would line up with the eyepiece in the telescope. He leaned forward and closed his other eye so that he would be able to focus on what he was seeing through his telescope.
The telescope was pointing at a grouping of stars. Slowly moving the telescope around on the rotating stand, Louis looked around at the rest of the sky, in awe. Whenever he looked up at the sky with his eyes, he could see small white specks against a black backdrop. With the telescope, he was seeing all sorts of colors – pink, blue, green, orange… And when he looked up with his eyes, he couldn't make out what was a star and what wasn't, but with the telescope, he could see things of different sizes, and he could even make out something that looked like it might be a planet. It was larger than the surrounding stars and it had a striped pattern on it.
It was all so amazing. Louis had always seen the sky as boring – just black filled with dots. But through the telescope, Louis could experience the beauty of the skies – of space – as if he was right up there with it all.
Suddenly, Louis was wide awake. His lack of sleep didn't matter anymore as he continued playing with his telescope, adjusting various knobs and rotating pieces to get clearer pictures of what he was seeing. Had Louis had found it – that thing that his family had assured him he would find. They'd thought he would find it in friends, in his social life. But instead Louis had found it here. He'd found the thing that made him want to stay at Hogwarts. It was this. Astronomy. In that moment, Louis Weasley knew it without a doubt. He was going to become an Astronomer.