Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter and all who normally reside therein belong to the woman whose name is on the side of the books: J.K. Rowling. And certainly not to me. Some of these characters, however, are mine, though perhaps I give myself too much credit.
Title: A Little Knowledge
Author: Aeryn Alexander
Summary: In 1956 five young Ravenclaws deal with an unexpected danger, learning that evil and darkness come in many forms, some more perilous than others. But when those who must combat this darkness aren't from the house of lions, where will they find the courage and strength to fight? And how can one of these Ravenclaws, the son of a great wizard, find his own identity and his own destiny?
Rating: PG-13 (violence, mild/moderate language, scary situations)
Genre: General/mystery/drama/adventure
Author's notes: Why did I write this? I wanted a challenge; I wanted to write about a non-canon era and attempt to write believable original characters. Obviously this is a story with more than a few OC's in it. I have given it my all to try and ensure that none of the characters are Mary Sues. But only other people can determine if I have succeeded. I want to thank my beta reader Quidditchgrl for beta-ing this chapter for me.

A Little Knowledge

The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us.

- Emperor Turhan, Babylon 5

I can resist everything except temptation.

- from Lady Windermere's Fan, by Oscar Wilde

Chapter One

The beginning

Lightning flashed overhead, illuminating the Great Hall of Hogwarts, which was just beginning to fill with returning students. Many of them, as they continued conversations that had begun on the train from London, glanced upward briefly as they found seats at their houses' tables. A few grinned as the rain began, knowing that the first year students would only be about halfway across the lake. They were sure to be drenched, but the older students had made it inside just in the nick of time.

At the Ravenclaw table four young witches, all second years, were just selecting seats near the front, eagerly awaiting the sorting ceremony and the feast that was to follow.

"It's sure to be quite a night," remarked one of the girls, toying idly with her wind-mussed brown hair.

One of her companions arched a thin, blond eyebrow and asked, "For us or for them?" She was, of course, referring to the younger students out in the weather and so forth.

"Can't say ..." the first young witch mused, watching another bolt of lightning flash above them.

The two others in the little group exchanged glances across the table.

"Corinna, I swear, when we take Divinations next year, you'll have top marks," chuckled one of them, a witch with dark braided hair and expressive brown eyes. She looked a bit amused by her friends' banter.

"You don't say, Sophia," said Corinna with a cryptic smile.

"Ah, but it's this year that matters," interjected the fourth member of the quartet, Olivia Scarrow, with a slightly wolfish grin. "We have a chance at the House Cup. I know it," she added fiercely.

The year before Ravenclaw had lost by a measly twenty-five points to Gryffindor house, thanks at least in part to the opposition's fine Quidditch team.

"That Molly Earnshaw ..." murmured the blond witch, shooting a half-venomous, half-envious glare at a red-headed fifth year who was a Beater for the Gryffindor house team, and a very good one at that.

At that Corinna's face turned from idly musing to slightly sheepish.

"I suppose I have something I had better tell you ..." hedged Corinna.

"What?" asked Olivia curiously.

Corinna reached into her robes and removed a rather worn letter that had been folded and refolded so many times that it was beginning to look rather tattered.

"Professor Flitwick offered me a position on the team ... Reserve, you understand, but nevertheless," she shrugged, giving the note to Olivia, who was the most Quidditch-obsessed of the bunch.

"Congratulations!" smiled Sophia, peering over Olivia's shoulder as she unfolded and read the letter.

"What position?" asked Sissy, tearing her eyes away from Earnshaw and her many friends, though she barely had what one could call 'a real interest' in the game.

"Keeper," said Corinna with a slight blush.

She had been rather surprised to receive the letter, but had accepted immediately. The opportunity was a significant one, especially considering that Olivia, one of her best friends, would probably join the team the next year.

"Brilliant, Corinna," nodded Olivia, returning the letter, which the other girl immediately tucked away again.

"Thanks, but I probably won't have the chance to play, with David Clearwater never missing a match and all ..." she said, lowering her voice and hesitating a glance toward the team's Keeper and captain at the other end of the table with the rest of the team.

"Maybe not, but he does graduate in the spring and you'll be a sure thing for the position," said Olivia seriously.

The team, Olivia realized, would be losing a lot of players next year, and not every position had a reserve player waiting in the wings. There was, after all, only one reserve Beater, which was the position she most wanted to play.

"Enough talk about Quidditch," said Sissy tiredly. "Sophia and I are beginning to feel quite left out."

"Nonsense," Sophia laughed good-naturedly.

But whatever else she was going to say was interrupted by the opening of the doors of the Great Hall. The first years had arrived. Or more accurately, Professor Dumbledore had arrived and was checking to make sure that everyone had found their seats and were waiting for the newcomers to Hogwarts. Olivia and Corinna glanced at the high table. Yes, all of their professors, except Dumbledore, of course, were in their places, as were the students at the lower tables, who were quieting down and looking curiously toward the entrance to the hall.

"How many for us do you think?" asked Sissy in a quiet voice, glancing at her companions.

"Four and four again?" suggested Sophia.

"An even ten," shrugged Olivia.

"Three and six," stated Corinna, who was looking at the ceiling again. The rain was pouring down, creating a dull and muted roar in the Great Hall.

Before anyone could question the prediction, Dumbledore reappeared with his charges and a hush fell over the hall. Students craned their necks to get a good look at the damp and shivering first years.

At the front of the room a hat, the Sorting Hat, was waiting for them on a stool. When all of the new students had been ushered inside, it began singing its song, which was a cue to many students that they could talk very quietly amongst themselves again.

"See the boy with auburn hair," whispered Olivia.

Sissy and Corinna glanced quickly over their shoulders and nodded in silent affirmation as they spotted the boy to which she was referring. He was rather skinny, but of average height with damp, curly hair and a rather nervous expression on his face as he glanced around the hall.

"Gryffindor," said Olivia, looking meaningfully toward Arthur Weasley, a fifth year in that house.

"No," answered Corinna.

Sissy chuckled to herself and looked at Sophia, who was scouring the ranks.

"So who do you like?" she asked in a low voice.

"It's not like we're scouting for a Quidditch team!" Sophia objected.

Sissy looked down their table and smirked ever-so-slightly and replied, "But everyone else appears to be ... scouting."

"Taking bets might be fun, if there were more time," said Olivia in a half-wistful voice as the song ended and the students were forced to be completely quiet as the names of the new students were called.

"Abbott, Stephen," called the deputy headmaster.

"Hufflepuff!" exclaimed the Hat after a moment on top of the rather thin and worried-looking young wizard's head.

"Bole, Katherine."

"Slytherin!" shouted the Hat some minutes later.

The young witch was, in the opinion of Olivia, a classic Slytherin. Heavy eye-lids and a confident, if not arrogant, expression as she glided to join her fellow serpents. Not that Olivia had anything against Slytherins. They were simply fierce competitors and not always honorable in their ... methods of competition. Some of them were even downright nasty, not to mention bullies and cheats.

A few other students had been called in the meantime, while she had been musing over the house of green and silver, including one Ravenclaw - Brewster, Evelyn - but Sissy's ears pricked at the next name called, as did every ear in the hall.

"Dumbledore, Martin," called the professor, looking up from his list for a moment with a smile as the previously noted auburn-hared young wizard came forward and sat down.

"His son?" mouthed Sissy curiously as the Hat took its sweet time.

The other girls, including Corinna, only shrugged and watched attentively.

"Ravenclaw!" the Hat announced several tense moments later.

Everyone at that table let out a whoop of excitement as Professor Dumbledore, looking quite baffled, removed the Sorting Hat and Martin walked to join his house mates. His face, normally rather ruddy, had lost all of its color. He tried to smile as Olivia and Sophia made room for him, but it was a strained, weary, and anxious smile.

"Welcome to Ravenclaw," Olivia told him, giving Martin a friendly pat on the shoulder.

"Th... Thanks," he said, slumping into his seat.

"Cheer up! We aren't that bad," said Sophia.

He looked grateful, but said nothing. Across the table Sissy raised an eyebrow and turned her attention back to the proceedings. The Hat had quickly sorted three Gryffindors, a Slytherin, and two Hufflepuffs, but none with quite the fanfare that young Dumbledore had received. The transfiguration professor's acts of daring during the war against the Dark Wizard Grindelwald were still discussed by much of the study body even eleven years after the fact. If this boy were his son ...

"Your father?" asked Corinna curiously, posing the unspoken question on all of their minds.

"Yes," he nodded.

And with that admission Olivia thought she understood: Martin Dumbledore came from a family with a fine Gryffindor tradition that had endured for centuries. And he had been placed somewhere lower down the list, so to speak, in Ravenclaw. His father would be upset or at least disappointed. Maybe even embarrassed. Wouldn't he?

"Halliday, Andrew," called Dumbledore.

"Ravenclaw!" shouted the Hat, putting lanky, but somewhat slouching young man in their house.

"Harrison, Edwina."

"Ravenclaw!" the Hat said with only a moment's pause.

The petite blond left the stool with a smile that led Sissy to believe that she was adhering to a familial legacy. She glanced at Martin, who seemed to be lost in thought, and sighed. Legacies indeed.

Several more Gryffindors, Slytherins, and Hufflepuffs were called while the house of eagles waited with bated breath.

"Middleton, Leslie."

A stocky boy with a grim, but confident expression approached the Hat, which only required a moment to decide: "Ravenclaw!"

"Must be very intelligent," Corinna mused aloud.

The others only shrugged as he passed by and went to sit with someone he apparently knew from the train.

"Is that all it takes?" asked Martin quietly, raising his eyes from where they had been resting on the table.

"So they say," said Sissy with a slightly curled lip.

"Oh," was his only reply.

"Prentice, Samuel," said Dumbledore.

"Ravenclaw!" exclaimed the Hat after a moment of deliberation.

The young wizard, whose face was freckled and full of surprise, made his way to the Ravenclaw table with stumbling steps.

A few long minutes of waiting were required before the final newcomers joined them: Aria Turpin, Nathan Wainwright, and Julian Woodward. Corinna's prediction had come true: six young wizards and three young witches. Most of the other houses had received a more balanced group of students. Olivia found it rather unsettling, but kept her thoughts to herself.

After Headmaster Dippet, who looked older and more fatigued with every year, had welcomed the new students and made all of the necessary official proclamations - "The Forbidden Forest is strictly off-limits to all students ..." and so on - the feast appeared and conversations resumed.

"That was ... not disappointing," said Sissy, sipping her pumpkin juice and looking the new students over a bit critically.

"Not at all," Olivia agreed, deciding that several of the firsties looked like they would be fine additions to the house team someday.

Martin looked up from his plate after poking at his food for a moment and said, "But you ... we only got eight students. Slytherin got ten."

"Quality over quantity," said Olivia, elbowing him in a friendly fashion.

"We got eight last year. Professor Flitwick, our head of house, says that we are more selective than the other houses, except maybe Slytherin, but then superior intellect is harder to find than good blood," Sophia explained.

"Not that blood doesn't matter," corrected Sissy.

Corinna shifted uncomfortably, but didn't say anything. She merely glanced toward the high table and watched the professors for a moment. No new faces, though she had heard rumor that the staff would be changing ... soon. Armando Dippet was growing old at an alarming rate. He was, according to Hogwarts: A History, almost one hundred and seventy-five. Both his life and career were coming to an end, but her fellow Ravenclaw's eyes still held the spark of great intelligence in them. He would not give up without a fight, and Corinna rather admired that, especially considering the fact that his apparent successor was a Gryffindor. That did bode well at all.

Professor Dumbledore, seated to the headmaster's right, leaned toward the headmaster and spoke with him quietly. His expression was troubled; the headmaster's was amused. Corinna imagined that they were discussing Martin and smiled at the thought. To Dippet's left was Professor Flitwick, who was grinning as he stood on his chair to take part in the discussion. He seemed quiet pleased.

Her eyes strayed down the table passing quickly over young and boisterous Sprout, the head of Hufflepuff house and a rather genial woman, and past Professor Kettleburn, who seemed to have lost an additional finger over the summer, to the head of Slytherin. Professor Krohn was sitting near the end of the table and flipping through a small black book. From time to time his eyes darted toward his house table, at which point he would nodded slightly and return his attention to his book.

Corinna frowned and tried to make sense of what he was doing. Then she realized that it was probably something to do with lineage and 'blood', which were very important to all of Slytherin house, their head being no exception.

"But not to me," she reminded herself, thinking of her muggle mother and her wizard father. Such things could never be important to her.

"Corinna? Are you still with us?" questioned Sissy sharply.

"What?" asked Corinna in confusion.

"Sophia just asked if you knew whether or not we would still be having Astronomy lessons this year," said Olivia with a roll of her eyes.

"I don't think so," Corinna replied. "We would have had books or something on the list."

"But all first years have it," Sissy informed Martin, who had obviously posed a question that Corinna had not heard.

Andrew Halliday, who had been unobtrusively listening to the conversation, asked cautiously, "But doesn't that mean we will have classes at night?"

"Only once per week," Olivia told him, inviting him into the discussion. "But schedules won't be given out until tomorrow." she added with a smile.

"You say it like it's a treat," said Martin, who was still mostly moving his food around his plate and hardly eating at all. Corinna, who was just a bit on the pudgy side for her age, thought it was a shame to waste it.

"Maybe it is," shrugged Sophia before Olivia could begin an argument. Or so she had hoped.

"The classroom is a very important place," Olivia began to lecture. "It's our place to prove ourselves against everyone else. The Gryffindors have the Quidditch pitch ... for now. The Slytherins have their late night duels and family trees. The Hufflepuffs ... well, no one's really sure exactly ... maybe their relationships. We have the classrooms as the places and situations where we are our strongest."

Martin looked at her for a moment, as did several other nearby first years, and nodded thoughtfully. By Sissy's estimation, he might have been too afraid to speak.

Sometime well after dessert had been eaten, the fifth year prefects announced that it was time to retire to the dormitories. The students rose and followed their lead, exiting the Great Hall in an orderly manner, in the case of Ravenclaw and Slytherin, and in complete disorder in the other cases, which was to be expected. The girls felt rather surprised as Martin stayed close to them as they made their way through the corridors.

"You should knowing your way around, being the deputy headmaster's son and all," Sophia hesitated diplomatically.

"I haven't been here since I was eight, and then I was sick and had to stay with my father," answered Martin with a mechanical shrug.

"We're going to Ravenclaw Tower. It's between the Owlery and the Astronomy Tower. Far enough from the Gryffindors ..." began Olivia, but trailing off.

"So as we can't hear or smell them," finished Sissy. "He's one of us now," she reminded the other three.

"Yeah ..." said Martin softly.

"You had better keep an eye out or you won't be able to find your way around," suggested Corinna, filling the sudden awkward silence.

Martin merely nodded and lifted his head slightly so he wasn't looking at the floor.

Ravenclaw Tower, or the Aerie as it was sometimes called, was reached a few minutes later. It was taller than Gryffindor Tower by only meters, but the winding climb to the common room and dormitories seemed to take a long time as the staircase was rather narrow and had to be climbed nearly single file.

At the top was a portrait of a heavy-set, yet debonair gentleman in a lamp-lit study filled with shelves of books. He was wearing a monocle and leaning against a roll-top writing desk while reading a leather-bound volume as the prefects approached.

"Good evening, sir, and how are you?" asked Ignatius Ambrose, the fifth year prefect.

The portrait figure closed his book and studied the trim Chaser for a moment before heaving a sigh.

"Bored, Master Ambrose. Terribly bored. It's so nice to see the halls being filled again. And how are you?"

"Quite well, thanks."



"The Great Library again?"

"'Fraid so," Ignatius shrugged with a half smile.

"Tsk, tsk," said the gentleman as the portrait hole opened and admitted the students.

Many of the returning students greeted the painting on their way into the common room, and he answered them with polite replies and amused quips, obviously feeling much better seeing all of them.

"He's nice," said Martin after passing into the shadowy common room.

"Oh, yes, quite," chuckled Sissy.

"Why is it so dark in here?" Martin asked as students continued to pour inside.

"One of Flitwick's tricks," said Olivia rather fondly.

"When he doesn't want us up late reading and so forth, the lights are kept low in here as a warning. It's his way of keeping us from burning out or studying when we should be sleeping and so forth," explained Sophia, who had a better-than-average understanding of the rules set down by their head of house.

"So we just read by the light of our wands in the dormitories," Sissy added with a look of mild disdain.

"Or we light the lamps," said Corinna.

And with that they all proceeded to their dormitories to get a good night's sleep before their first day of classes. Or so the prefects thought ...