Chapter 1 - New Beginnings
In the distance the Burrow was filled with laughter. Children could be seen running around the garden and inside there was much chatter from the grownups as they enjoyed some elderflower wine and cinnamon ale. Three generations of the family had gathered there today and it was the first time since last Christmas that they had all been together. Molly Weasley loved having a full house but what with all her children living busy lives it was hard to get everyone together at the same time. But today they were celebrating because in a few days another of Arthur and Molly Weasley's grandchildren would be starting at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and they couldn't be prouder.
But unbeknown to everyone at the party they were being watched. Hidden in the long crops surrounding the Burrow, a tall, cloaked figure peered on intently. The watcher knew they had to be patient but they also knew soon their plan would come to fruition and the family before them would never celebrate again.
Despite it nearly being eleven o'clock and past rush hour, Kings Cross station was still heaving. As James Potter strode hastily across the concourse he watched as the numerous muggles went about their day to day lives and he still found it hard to believe that most had no idea about the wizarding world that existed all around them. Occasionally there were lapses and discoveries were made or incidents happened but the Ministry of Magic was usually quick to act and contain the situation. One such incident had happened this summer and had caused a headache for James' father who worked in the Magical Law Enforcement department at the Ministry. A young muggle had been killed by a bite from a Serpalax, a snake like magical creature with a very venomous strike. The ensuing investigation had involved three departments – the department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, who had been first on the scene and had modified the memories of the muggle paramedics and doctors who had attended the victim, the department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and James' father's own department. As the Serpalax had a XXXXX classification it could only be kept by an exceptionally skilled witch or wizard and one who had a permit to keep such a creature (witches and wizards were only allowed to keep them for the purposes of collecting their venom, which was used in potion making). But as no Serpalax had been reported missing and no witch or wizard who may have had one lived anywhere near the muggle girl who had died, the investigation was still ongoing and the muggle Prime Minister was furious, meaning James' father's boss was furious and James' father had borne the brunt of this fury.
As his father had been very busy for the last few weeks it meant he had not been able to spend as much time as he would have liked with his eldest son, especially as it was James' last summer before he would be attending wizarding school. To try to make the most of what little time they had left, James' father has insisted they drive to Kings Cross rather than using the Floo Network. James' mother had indulged her husband's passion for muggle cars as she appreciated that he had grown up in a muggle household so had an affinity with that way of life. But the traffic had been horrendous and now they were running late.
As they rushed across the concourse, James' parents were in front leading the way to platform Nine and Three Quarters, his younger sister holding his mother's hand, his dad pulling his trunk and his younger brother trailing behind. In a couple of years his brother would be attending Hogwarts, but this summer it was James himself who would be beginning his Hogwarts journey.
James noticed a few strange looks his way but knew it was because he was carrying a cage containing a white snowy owl, which was not the most common sight at a muggle railway station. Though looking around Kings Cross today there had been many passengers carrying such an item.
They reached the barrier between platforms nine and ten with seven minutes to spare before the train would depart. Not wanting to waste time explaining how to get to the platform, James' mum had led his younger sister straight through and then James' father had guided James and his younger brother through behind them.
The platform on the other side was even more busy than the one they had just left. Hordes of families filled the platform as they said their goodbyes and excited children met up with friends they hadn't seen since last term. And there behind the crowds with steam rising up from it was the gleaming red Hogwarts Express. James' parents had told him all about the train but it was even more magnificent than he had imagined.
The platform had been full of chatter but this started to die down and James was conscious that a lot of the people were now turning their attention to his direction. A few people pointed to where he and his family stood and were whispering to each other, making James feel even more nervous than he had been. But he knew this attention was not directed at him but at his father. For his father was very famous in the wizarding world. His father was Harry Potter – the Boy Who Lived.
"Right I'll go get your trunk loaded and be right back," James' father said before disappearing into the crowd and feeling very self-conscious himself
James' mother crouched down beside him. "Are you sure you packed everything?" she said as she brushed some lint off his jumper and then tried to tidy his hair a bit. But it was a fruitless task as James' hair was much like his father's and no matter what you did with it, it always looked a mess.
"Yes mum," James replied looking a little embarrassed.
"And remember to write every week."
"And remember…" his mum started to say and James was about to roll his eyes, starting to feel like he was being nagged, "… to have fun."
James smiled at his mum who began to give him a big hug as his dad returned. His dad looked like he was about to say something to him himself when a voice called out through the crowd. James' dad turned to see who had called out his name.
"Dean Thomas?" Harry said as the tall man approached him and stretched out his arms and gave Harry a friendly hug.
"Good to see you Harry. And Ginny," Dean said as he moved on to hug her next. "Looking as lovely as always."
"Thank you Dean," she replied rather bashfully as Dean stepped back.
"And this is my wife Milly and my son Noah," Dean said introducing his family to the Potters.
They all exchanged pleasantries and Harry introduced his own children to the Dean family.
"How have you been Dean? I haven't seen you in years?" Harry asked, genuinely overjoyed to see his old school friend.
"The trains about to leave. How about we get the kids off and then go grab a coffee and catch up?" Dean replied.
Harry had been completely distracted and had forgotten it was nearly eleven o'clock. As if on cue the train conductor blew his whistle and the last of the students began clambering aboard the train. Harry immediately turned to James and he could tell his son was looking a little apprehensive.
"You are going to have a great time," Harry said and he knelt down beside his son. "I had some of the best times of my life at Hogwarts," he continued. Harry had also had some of the worst times of his life at the school, but he knew his son's time there would be a lot less eventful.
After a few more words, father and son embraced before Ginny gave James another hug followed by hugs from his brother and sister and then the proud parents watched as James climbed aboard the train. James moved along the corridor of the carriage, still holding his caged owl and found space by an open window to squeeze in and look out at. As the train began to depart it let out a loud bellow from its horn and slowly began to move as parents waved and blew kisses at their children and the children waved and blew kisses back.
As the train moved out of view of the platform Ginny wiped a tear away from her eye and Harry gave her a reassuring hug. "He's going to be fine," Harry said and planted a small kiss on his wife's cheek. "His time at Hogwarts will be nothing like ours."
On the train James turned to Noah Thomas who was stood beside him in the corridor and was looking a little lost. "Shall we go find a compartment to sit in?" James asked and Noah looked pleased that he had seemingly already made a friend.
They headed along the carriages but James was constantly being stopped by students who recognised him from the platform and wanted to ask him if Harry Potter really was his dad. As soon as he confirmed this they immediately wanted him to join them in their compartment but James always graciously refused and continued along.
James knew all about his father and what had happened to him when he was at Hogwarts. Though his father didn't like to talk about it much it was hard to live in the wizarding world and not hear about Harry Potter and his exploits. His Uncle Ron on the other hand had recounted the stories, some that James thought sounded too ludicrous to be true. And his mum had warned him that when he started Hogwarts there would be some extra attention on him because of who his father was. James loved his father and was very proud of him but he knew all those students would want to ask him questions about his dad and what he had done and out of respect for his father and knowing that he didn't like to talk about those things much, James didn't want to talk about them either.
James and Noah continued along the train and had almost reached the end when they found a compartment that had only two occupants – a girl with red hair that reminded James of his mum's and a small boy with short blond hair and glasses. James slid open the door and both the occupants looked up and smiled briefly but didn't say anything.
James, seeing this as a good sign that they didn't immediately ask about Harry Potter, spoke. "Is anyone sitting there?" he said point to the empty seats.
"No go ahead," the girl said.
James and Noah stepped in and James placed his owl Atticus securely up on the luggage rack and took a seat beside Noah, opposite the girl and boy.
"I'm Polly, Polly Green," the girl said with a very posh accent and a beaming smile. "And this is Seth Cooper," she continued, introducing the boy as if he was unable to speak for himself. The boy gave a very shy smile but didn't say anything and James wondered if maybe he couldn't actually speak.
"I'm Noah Thomas," Noah said introducing himself.
"And I'm James," James said, deliberately not giving his surname. "Nice to meet you both."
"First year?" Polly asked and both James and Noah nodded. "Thought so, you both look very nervous. We're both first years too but I've done loads of reading up on Hogwarts so know exactly what to expect so I'm not worried at all," she said sounding rather condescending, but James was sure she didn't mean to be. "So if you have any questions at all feel free to ask. I'm sure I'll be able to help."
"When does the food trolley come? I'm starving?" Noah said and James couldn't help but laugh but Polly looked less than impressed and her smile dropped.
"I don't know. We've only just started moving. I'm sure it will be along later," she replied, sounding annoyed at the question.
"Want a piece of treacle fudge?" the blond boy said meekly and produced a rather squashed paper bag from his trouser pocket. James detected a Welsh accent in his voice and both he and Noah graciously accepted a piece. Though the fudge was rather squashed and warm from being in Seth's pocket, it tasted delicious.
"So how do you two know each other?" James asked to Polly and Seth.
"Oh we don't, we just met now when I was looking for a compartment to sit in," Polly answered. "And what about you two?"
"Same," James replied. "We just met on the platform."
"Though our parents went to Hogwarts together," Noah added.
"I see and isn't your dad…" Polly began as she looked directly at James and he knew what was coming next but luckily there was a commotion in the corridor as an owl flew past, having obviously escaped it's cage, and a young boy chased after it and a few people shrieked.
"This is my owl Atticus," James said changing the subject and bringing the cage down from the rack and reaching into his pocket to get Atticus an owl treat. Atticus gently nibbled at the treat in James' hand through the cage.
"And this is my owl Parsons," Polly said not wanting to be out done and reached for her own pet that James hadn't noticed on the rack opposite. "He's a Great Horned owl."
James looked at Parsons who seemed to stare him out with a menacing look. James had always thought owls were beautiful creatures, but Polly's looked positively demonic with it horn like tuffs and its frightening stare.
"Do either of you two have any pets?" Polly asked Noah and Seth.
"No. My parents said I wasn't allowed one.," Seth replied. "Not after I accidently set the cat on fire after I got my wand from Diagon Alley."
There was a momentary stunned silence before Noah spoke and produced a frog from his pocket who seemed to be asleep. "This is Sir-Croaks-A-Lot."
"That's a stupid name for a frog," Polly declared, not caring how rude she sounded.
"Well I think it's cool," James said but Noah quickly put his frog back in his pocket, feeling a little insulted.
The rest of the journey had been spent discussing what to expect from their new school, mainly led by Polly who wouldn't shut up and delighted in filling them all with her knowledge. James thought he wouldn't be surprised if when they got to Hogwarts, Polly ended up teaching the classes too. But at least Polly's blabbering's had meant they had avoided the subject of James' dad, which he was glad of.
They eventually neared Hogsmeade station and changed into their robes before the train came to a stop and excited students started to fill the corridors of the carriages. As the steam cleared from the platform James looked out of the window. It was dark out but there was a full moon and silhouetted atop a high rocky cliff looking spectacular was Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.