I'll try to update once a week, every Wednesday, if I can keep this up.
This was originally going to be split into two chapters, but I couldn't find a cut that would provide for two separate chapter arcs, so here we go, one extra-long chapter with a more flowing plot. Enjoy!
"I am looking for someone called 'Lafayette', is he here?"
The temperature dropped several degrees, or at least it felt like that to Alex. Hercules had gotten up in an attempt to draw attention away from Lafayette, who pulled up his legs to his knees in order to look smaller.
"Who wants to know?" Hercules asked, towering in front of the man who stood in the doorframe. Said man was clutching to an old-looking clipboard and had a restless expression on his face, but it was hard to tell if this was due to Hercules' efforts to intimidate him.
The stranger coughed. "I am Samuel Seabury. I am the personal assistant of George King the Third, who will accompany and supervise you on this odyssey, and who you will soon have the honour to call your Professor." Alex noticed how John rolled his eyes, but if Seabury noticed, he didn't show it. Instead, he raised an eyebrow and looked up at Hercules.
"And who are you, young man?"
Seabury looked at the papers in his hands. "Mulligan, Mulligan… Ah! I knew the name sounded familiar. You are listed here as one of Lafayette's associates. Then surely you," he pointed at John, "must be John Laurens, am I correct?"
John crossed his arms. "So?"
Seabury's eyes fell on Lafayette. "There you are. You should be coming with me, I am sure Mr. King and Mr. Washington would like to have a word with you."
Washington was listening to one of Kings rambles - "See, young people increasingly fail to learn the value of order and formality, it is a shame, really!" -, when a not-particularly-loud knock on the door interrupted their conversation. King's assistant, Seabury, entered, looking in a rush as usual.
"Mr. King, Sir, Mr. Washington, Sir – I found the runaway!" He dragged a boy, maybe 15 years old, into the room. Then, to Washington's surprise, three other children entered as well.
Seabury immediately tried to explain. "These are his friends, they insisted on coming here as well. Mr. Mulligan, Mr. Laurens, and… ahem…"
"Mr. Hamilton!" Washington furrowed his brows. "I didn't expect to see you again so soon."
"Excuse me, who are these children? We haven't even reached Great Britain yet, and Mr. Lafayette here has already caused a lot more disorder than we need."
So this is George King, Alex thought. He immediately resented the man and the way he seemed to speak down to everyone around him.
"I'm sure you have heard of Mr. Hamilton. He managed to get a spot in this transfer program due to his skill with a pen." Washington looked directly at Alex. "And as I can see, you already made some friends."
"Yes, Sir. I know that I am probably not the most qualified person to speak up for Laf-, I mean, Mr. Lafayette, but please, hear me out." Alex cleared his throat.
"Although I have known him only for a very short amount of time - a very short amount of time, really -, I firmly believe his story needs to be heard.
He came to America having only one thing in mind: Getting the best education possible. He never lost his determination, and he is now nearly fluid in a language he barely spoke when he arrived!
You decided to send a couple dozen of students to another country to ensure their education goes down undisturbed, yet you want to deny this privilege to someone who has struggled more than most of Ilvermorny's students to get this far!"
"Mr. Lafayette surely had a perfectly fine education at Beauxbartons!", King snarled. "The school might not be on the same level as Ilvermorny, let alone Hogwarts, but even then, aren't we obligated to return him to his family?"
"There is no one you can return me to!", Lafayette shouted, frustration dripping from his voice. "My parents died three years ago. They left me a lot of money, I can pay for the books and everything else, the only thing you have to do is let me come with you! I have friends who will help me, I can make it!"
There was a moment of silence before Alex continued.
"Lafayette is not from America, and I just came to America a while ago. You are giving me the chance to become more than I ever could without this. I proved my eagerness by writing, Mr. Lafayette proved his by crossing an ocean. Doesn't he deserve the same kind of support that you are giving me?"
After he finished talking, Alex took a deep breath. Lafayette gave him an appreciative look, Hercules stared at him with his mouth half-open, and John…
John quickly smiled at him, then he looked down again and started to fidget with his sleeves.
"What a nice declaration!" King's sarcastic words drew Alex' attention away from his friends.
"How precious, a young boy standing up for his friend! However, Mr. Hamilton, I'm afraid we must tell you that-"
"No. He has a point."
King turned to Washington, looking irritated, almost offended at being interrupted.
"You can't be serious, Washington! Those are just some schoolboys who don't know how to stay out of trouble! You didn't seriously listen to this young man's suggestions, do you?"
Washington stood up.
"Mr. Lafayette. Are you sure that, instead of returning to France - returning to your home, returning to a school that you are familiar with and that teaches in French -, are you sure that instead of all of this, and instead of staying in America, you want to travel to the United Kingdom together with other students you've known for only a minimal amount of time?"
"I could not be more sure."
King crossed his arms in annoyance, but Washington paid him no mind.
"If your decision stands, we will respect it. You can return to your seat now, I will contact Professor McGonagall at Hogwarts and inform her that we'll arrive with one additional student."
All four boys sighed in relief. Seabury opened the door, and Lafayette walked outside, followed by Hercules and John, who, as Alex noticed, was more stumbling than walking.
Just when Alex wanted to leave the room as well, Washington called him back. He swallowed.
"Mr. King was not wrong."
At first, Alex didn't know what he meant, until Washington continued:
"You really should learn how to stay out of trouble."
"…Yes, Sir. I will do my best."
Alex slowly opened his eyes. He blinked a few times to shake off the dream he was already forgetting and tried to remember where he was. Oh, right. Yes.
He sat up straight and rubbed his neck. When had he fallen asleep? He remembered talking to his newly found friends until the stars came out and the lights inside got dimmed. They'd eaten the food Hercules had been wise enough to bring to the trip, and then? Someone had given him a blanket, it smelled of grass and its original color was made indistinguishable by all kinds of stains.
Had it been John's, maybe?
He looked over to John. The boy was still asleep, and he looked peaceful. Alexander's gaze fell upon his left hand. He remembered the scar he'd seen earlier and wondered what had caused it. I might have been from a fight, but John didn't seem like someone who would pick fights with others. But there where so many other possibilities, like an animal attack, or maybe not an animal per se, maybe-
A loud yawn interrupted Alexander's thoughts. Lafayette had woken up and now stretched out, accidentally kicking Hercules, who in turn sat up and, in doing so, put an end to John's sleep.
Suddenly, the small room was filled with "Huh?"s, "Where are we?"s and "Are we there yet?"s, until Lafayette pointed to the window and asked the one question that would end all the others:
"Since when are we moving on land?"
As a matter of fact, Alex noticed, there weren't traveling across the sea anymore, but instead passed through a forest.
"I knew this ship was suspiciously train-looking", he mumbled.
"It can't be that far anymore!" John exclaimed cheerfully, and Lafayette, who had slept with his legs pulled to his chest, put his shoes back on.
"Hey, has anyone seen my wand?" Hercules looked up from the bag he'd rummaged around in.
"Maybe it fell out?", Alex suggested, "It might still be on the overhead shelf, let me take a look."
He climbed on Herc's seat and indeed, he could see a little wooden box on the rack. If he stretched out his arm, he might reach it… Just a little more…
The door flew open and someone entered. Alex couldn't see who it was; the noise had startled him and he stumbled down, losing his balance. He nearly fell, but Hercules quickly reacted and steadied him a bit, however it was not enough to prevent Alex from ending up sitting on the floor.
Alexander cursed under his breath, rubbed his side and looked up. In front of him stood a boy - dark skin, a clean-shaven head and weirdly tidy clothes - who smirked down at him, then stretched out his hand to help him up. He felt the heat rush to his face as he became painfully aware of how stupid his way to the floor must have looked, but he took the hand nonetheless.
"No problem. My name is Aaron Burr, and I'm supposed to tell y-"
"Wait. You are Aaron Burr?" Alex' eyes grew wide. "The Aaron Burr?"
Burr chuckled. "That depends on who's asking."
"Oh, of course! I am Alexander Hamilton, and I was looking forward to meeting you!"
"I don't know whether I should feel honored or worried."
"I've heard a lot about you! You are Ilvermorny's top student; didn't they ask you to skip a year? How did you manage to do that?" Alex blurted out, then held his breath as he eagerly waited for an answer.
Burr mustered him for a few seconds. Then he simply stated,
"When my parents where on their deathbed, they asked me to promise I wouldn't let anything get in the way of my education. I intend on keeping that promise."
He shook his head. Alex opened his mouth to say something, but Burr quickly proceeded,
"Anyways, Professor King told me to go and let everyone know that we'll arrive soon, so get ready. I see you all at Hogwarts!" And with that, he left.
There was a moment of silence. Hercules picked up the wooden box to check if his wand had survived the fall, which, fortunately, it had.
More silence. Then, Alex turned around.
"Did you hear that?"
"What exactly? The part where you were totally fangirling over someone who'll soon be your classmate or the part where he told how his parents died?" Hercules raised an eyebrow.
Alex ignored him. "He's an orphan! Do you know what that means?"
"Uh, yeah?", John said. "It means his parents are dead? Which is really sad, by the way, so why, Alex, do you look at us like you just won the lottery?"
"Because,", Alex beamed, "I'm an orphan too!"
"Je suis désolé."
"I'm sorry, Alex." John looked a bit worried, but more than that, he was confused. "Uhm, still… You look weirdly happy, if I may say so."
Hercules and Lafayette nodded.
Alex shook his head. "Yes, I mean, no –" He sighed. "I am just glad that this isn't something that is going to make me a freak. If Burr got this far all on his own, without a name or any other support from his family, then, I hope, I can make my own mark too. Hogwarts might be my chance to get a fresh start!"
To Alex' surprise, Lafayette looked a bit irritated at his words.
"Do you think I'm a freak?" He crossed his arms.
"No, of course not, I-" Shit. Alex' eyes widened as he remembered that Laf had lost his family too. How could he have forgotten this? Earlier when talking to Washington and King, he had been too focused on the conflict to think about Lafayette's family situation in detail, but now he realized what he'd just implied.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-" He opened and closed his mouth, speechless for once. Finally, he had found some people he felt comfortable with, and then, of course, he had to go and mess it all up-
"Hey, it's okay.", John intervened. "I'm sure you didn't mean it like that."
He laid his hand on Lafayette's arm.
"Look, we're all exhausted from the trip. And hungry, or at least that's what I am." He laughed, then turned to Alex.
"We've all gone through some bad stuff. What I wanna say is, we're not going to judge you for it." He gave him an encouraging smile.
The lump in Alex' throat grew bigger. He closed his eyes for a moment, then quietly apologized again to Lafayette.
This time, it seemed to land: Lafayette grinned widely and opened his arms.
Before he knew what was happening, Alex found himself in a tight hug. His body tensed up at first as he didn't know what to make of it, but then he took a deep, shaky breath and relaxed. He was surrounded by comforting warmth and noticed that John and Herc had turned this into a group hug. He could feel Lafayette chuckle.
"You're really tiny, you know that?"
We're getting closer to Hogwarts.
And we finally got Seabury, King George (alias George King - forgive my lack of creativity) and Burr on the stage.
I know some authors like to incorporate "Aaron Burr, Sir" with an, if possible, word-for-word kind of accuracy, but I find it more fun to ALMOST go there - and then use different words instead.
By the way - the House of Hanover, which is the royal house George III belonged too, stems from the city that I study in. Pretty cool, right?
(This funfact was brought to you by my younger brother, who's weirdly obsessed with the British kings and queens. He has this huge family tree of them in his room, and I recently replaced the picture of George III with a photo of Jonathan Groff in costume - I'll inform you when my brother notices.)
Reviews butter my toast, y'know.