Please don't hurt me!
I've got 4 stories, 3 essays, a book, and a moviescript running around in my head and this is the one I get stuck on. I know it's short, but the next chapter, I swear will be out in two weeks. Flame me if it's not.
Hogwarts was first founded because four witches and wizards decided the apprentice system had failed. They felt too many students didn't learn to their full potential under just one master. Students learned the basics of magic and only covered advanced material in the particular topics their master focused in, without regards to their individual aptitudes. Individually, each of the founders had decided that it made much more sense to teach a group of students the basics together and then the student could decide which subject they wanted to study. So they created a building where students could be housed and learn in large numbers, and they named it Hogwarts.
The initial students were easy to find. The founders simply recruited (read stole) the current apprentices from their old masters and their large, extended families. At that time, Hogwarts was a slacker's dream; there were no rules, no grades, and not even much homework, because most of the students didn't know how to read. When the parents were contacted - if the parents were contacted - it was by informal meeting in the student's home by one of the founders. It made no sense to send an official letter because there would be no one on the other end would be able to read it.
Not until the 15th century, after Hogwarts had created a library and literacy become much more widespread, did they begin sending the official acceptance letters. By then, the tradition of passing information about Hogwarts down through the family had been well established. To this extent, the student's acceptance letter was simply a formality, and the parent's letter only included a few updates on how things had changed and current tuition prices.
About this time the Deputy Headmaster was assigned to write and address the multitude of letters sent out every year - a daunting task. The Deputy Headmaster had to divine the names and addresses of suitable students and compose the required letter. As the numbers swelled, the Deputy Headmaster needed to spend more and more time dealing with the letters. As the number of letters needing to be written soared over 1000, the Deputy Headmaster decided there must be a more efficient way of completing this task and thus, the Hogwarts Quill was born.
The Hogwarts Quill is actually composed of an ordinary quill attached to a self-updating map connected to the Book of Names. The Book of Names is where all humans with magical abilities that live within Great Britain are recorded. At the same time each summer the spell is programmed to begin sending letters out to children based on age. The book sends the essence of the child to the map, which pinpoints that essence through scrying, which sends it to the Quill which addresses the pre-written letter. This process worked extremely well until 1563.
Before the Black Death swept through England, names were reported to Hogwarts as the child was born to magical parents or discovered in the Muggle world and fostered to a magical family for their own safety. After this great tragedy, many children were left parentless and homeless. Often they had not been recorded in the Book of Names. The current Deputy Headmaster decided this was unacceptable and set about creating a spell to identify and record the names in the book as they did their first bit of magic.
Even that first year, it was obvious their system required many changes. Shocking numbers of Muggles were appearing on their lists, many more than expected. Hogwarts wasn't prepared to deal with such a large influx of students. Together with the Headmaster, the Deputy Headmaster devised a system to decide who received invitations to Hogwarts and who would not learn about magic. Worried about recent events, they felt that the safest students for both Hogwarts and the students themselves would be those who did not have strong preconceived notions about magic. They had seen how religion and magic tended to be a volatile mix, so they included only those Muggleborns who did not regularly attend church.
Of course, they recognized that the normal process where parents explained about Hogwarts to their children would not work for Muggleborns, so they crafted a second letter explaining more information about Hogwarts. To determine who received the Muggleborn letter and who received the normal letter, children who were registered by their parents at birth received the normal letter and everyone else got the other letter. This system worked well, even for those orphaned magical children because they were always adopted into magically aware families.
As Harry Potter would have, if not for the scheming of Albus Dumbledore and the petty jealousy of Petunia Dursley.
Late in the afternoon on Friday, the Hogwarts owls got their main exercise for the year when they were sent out with the large batch of letters for the year. Each immediately homed in on the essence of the recipient of the letter they were carrying. Half of the letters were destined for students, the other half for adults.
The owl carrying the letter addressed to Harry Potter flew off immediately to where his essence was concentrated. The owl carrying the letter intended for Harry Potter's guardian could feel two essences as was normal and headed towards the closer one. The owl entered the building containing the essence through the window and hovered above the person the owl was looking for. Spotting the person she was looking for lying in a bed, she flapped her wings trying to wake her up so the lady could relieve her of her burden. Even knocking a lamp over, making it break didn't wake her up as it did most humans who were asleep. Giving up, the owl swooped back out the window just as the door opened.
"I want to do this alone, Gran" a young voice floated in.
The owl winged her way through the night sky. She headed off towards the second essence she could feel. As she came closer and closer to her destination, it became colder and she began to dread going any farther. The recipient of her letter was on a tiny island. She made her way towards a tiny cell, but as she was passing a cell door, the bony hand reached out and grabbed her.
Bellatrix Lestrange ate well that night.
As a rule, life altering events always occurred on Tuesday. On this particular Tuesday morning, Neville exited the Floo at Harry's flat, waving his Hogwarts letter excitedly in the air. His letter pleased his Gran to no end. Even though he excelled at the magic classes he had taken online for the past year, Neville's Gran feared that he didn't have enough magical ability to attend Hogwarts.
During the trip to the Library both Harry and Luna pored over the letter. "Do you think I'll get mine soon?" asked Harry, uneasy. "I'm still waiting for someone from the IMO to come talk to me about the wish magic I performed three years ago!"
Luna and Neville shared a glance. Harry held such strange ideas about how the Ministry of Magic worked. Everyone knew that the Misuse of Magic office just sent your parents a letter and it was to their discretion how to punish you. Even then, they didn't keep track of accidental magic, only that done with a wand. The Ministry would have to hire more workers than MafaldaHopkirk to send letters out for all the incidents of accidental magic by children. They only bothered tracking wand magic because it had been proven to be dangerous to small children's magic. The Ministry of Magic only sent out agents if something was observed by a large group of Muggles.
"I'm sure you will. Do you think Mum will let me go a year early? I don't want to be left here without you guys." asked Luna.
"I don't know. Would you even be allowed to go?" Neville always worried about what authority figures would think. It was a left-over from living with only his Gran for 9 years of his life.
"Isn't it bad for pipsqueaks like you to use magic before you're 11?" asked Harry. Neville still refused to tease anyone else, so Harry took it upon himself to get in Luna's daily quota of being teased. Harry, took great pride in the fact, that while he may not be taller than Neville, he was a couple inches taller than Luna.
"No wonder you're so screwed up. You used magic way too early." Luna could give just as good as she got. Usually they joked just in good fun, but today the notion that Harry and Neville may be leaving her behind upset her.
Even Harry and Neville, boys such that they were, could recognize that Luna's heart really wasn't in the banter. Afraid, she thought they would forget all about her at Hogwarts. Harry gave her a hug, unusual for him because he didn't normally show affection. "It'll be alright, Luna. We'll ask your Mum, and if she says no, we'll just find a way to smuggle you onboard the train. And if that doesn't work, we'll send you lots of emails."
"Owls. Lots and lots of owls." Neville broke in. "Computers won't work at Hogwarts."
"Your's won't. Ours will. We bought ours while in Spain so they would be insulated against magic. Harry said smugly as he crossed to said computer and opened up Netscape. "I'm going to write a post asking if anyone else is going to Hogwarts. We could make some new friends before we even go shopping for our school supplies."
"When are you guys getting your supplies?" asked Luna sniffling. If she couldn't go, she would at least have to go shopping with them. Boys were so useless when it came to shopping. Plus, she could probably get another book out of her mum.
In the back room of the Library, Pythia, Augusta, and Nikki sat around the table drinking tea and talking about their respective children's departure to Hogwarts.
Augusta was finding it hard to let go. Neville was the last connection she had to her son, Frank, and she wanted to hold on to that as tightly as she could. she told the other women how she had contacted Professor McGonagall to inquire about the students' safety and welfare. She had received the direct Floo contact to the Deputy Headmistress's office.
"I'm still not sure about this Hogwarts school. Harry's been doing so well homeschooling with Miss Emily. What will going away to a boarding school do to him?" Nikki was worried. Over the past two years, Pythia and Augusta had explained much about Hogwarts, but she was still uncertain. Neither Harry's nor her letter had arrived yet, even though Neville's had.
"I'm sure his letter just got delayed somewhere. Harry clearly has the magical ability to be accepted into Hogwarts." Pythia calmed her. "Its Luna I'm worried about. I contacted Profesor McGonagall and she's agreed to test Luna for early entrance. I'm not sure how she'd handle having to go back to her former schooling arrangements without the boys."
"She'll do just fine. She's intelligent and mature for her age." Augusta reassured her. "She's been doing the same work as the boys for the past couple of years. I'm just glad Neville will finally be going to a real school."
"Yes. Hogwarts is so much better than those classes they've been taking online." agreed Pythia, automatically.
Nikki was confused. Just last week Pythia had mentioned how Luna was learning things she had never been introduced to at Hogwarts. "I though you liked the classes Luna was in?"
"Of course I do. They're very advanced. Luna has learned so much from them." Pythia responded immediately. "It's just Hogwarts is so much better."
"Oh yes. Hogwarts is the finest school in Britain." agreed Augusta.
"What other schools are there?" asked Nikki, curious. The other two had always labeled Hogwarts as the best school in Britain, but had never mentioned any other schools. Ever.
"Other schools?" parroted Augusta. "There really aren't any other schools in Britain. A few bush schools and private tutors are the only other options besides Hogwarts."
"What about outside of the UK?"
"Outside of the UK?" laughed Pythia. "No one goes outside of the UK. It's just not done."
"Why not?" questioned Nikki. "I'm originally from America, but I went to boarding school in Switzerland and college here in Britain. France is just a train ride away by the Chunnel. Pythia, we met you in Spain."
"That's strange." Pythia frowned. She had been outside the country numerous times on direct orders, but never just for a vacation. The places she had visited were clean and friendly, and the few magical users she had happened upon had been nice. "The only one's I've heard of are Durmstrang and Beuaxbatons. Those are both below Hogwarts. I don't think I know anyone who went to either one." she heard herself say automatically. There was something strange going on. Why couldn't she bring herself to say anything good about places outside of the country? She would have to investigate.
"Mum." Luna was quite serious and had approached her mum instead of the other way around. "Harry and Neville are going to Hogwarts."
Pythia could already see where this conversation was going. "I know dear."
"I'm going to be left here alone." Her voice rose in pitch about half an octave. This had really been worrying her for the past few days. Her Mum didn't seem to be all that worried about the situation.
"I know dear." Pythia continued to drink her tea and read over the notes she had from the most recent research. She wondered how long Luna would dance around the subject before asking her directly if she could go to Hogwarts early.
"Mum!" Now her voice was a good octave above her normal pitch. "I want to go to Hogwarts this year. I don't want to be left behind without them." She was almost in tears because she was afraid she wouldn't be allowed to start school early.
"You have an appointment with Deputy Headmistress McGonagall Thursday at 9 to see if you're ready to attend Hogwarts this year." Pythia calmly sipped her tea.
Luna was going crazy. She was actually going to Hogwarts. The boys wouldn't be leaving her behind to waste away under Miss Emily's tutelage, all by her lonesome. And she was going a year younger than them - obviously she was smarter than them.
She didn't want to imagine what life would have been like if she had never met Neville or Harry. She would have been stuck at the Burrow with Ginny and her idiot brothers and -God Bless Her- Mrs. Weasley. The woman tried, but really, she didn't have the heart to force her children to learn, especially after teaching five previous children. Back when she was younger, Luna had scheduled playdates with Ginny every Wednesday. They'd hide around the corner and listen in on the twins', Fred and George, lessons. They were smart, too smart for their own good, and would mess around after they had mastered the day's lesson. Poor Mrs. Weasley was often frustrated by the twins' inability to sit still as Percy had. By the time Ron's schooling had begun, Mrs. Weasley had an exact time table laid out for when she would teach what. Unfortunately for Ron's academic future and Mrs. Weasley's patience, Ronald wasn't as academically gifted as his older brothers, and thus, never gained a good grip on the basics.
From the few things she had overheard - okay - from all the time she and Ginny had spent eavesdropping, it was abundantly clear to her Ronald was smart, but easily frustrated with his inability to grasp the material and unwilling to put in the extra effort necessary for him to succeed. Mrs. Weasley adherence to her strict schedule did nothing more than discourage Ron farther. Ginny just thought her youngest older brother was stupid, which led to her petitioning her mother to allow her and Luna to sit in on the lessons. Ginny loved being the first in her family to do something, anything, as long as no one had done it before.
She would hate it if Luna got to go to Hogwarts and she couldn't. Maybe she wouldn't tell Ginny until the last possible minute.
To: Potter, Harry J.
From: Gringotts Bank, London
Subject: Personal Mail
This email is to report an incident centered around your vault.
As you are aware, the bank here in London features vault style accounts to store wealth as physical contents. To link the vaults with other accounts, the vault is assigned the magical signature of the main owner.
In circumstances where the person is unreachable by owl, letters can be delivered and stored in the vault. Usually, the bank would be informed of this, so the letter could be forwarded to the owner. We were unaware this happened to your account until a flock of owls blocked access to all vaults attempting to deliver your Hogwarts letter.
For your convenience, we have securely destroyed the extra copies of your Hogwarts letter. You may pick up your mail at the London branch of Gringotts Bank, located in Diagon Alley.
Head of London Accounts
Well, that explained a lot. He had gotten his Hogwarts letter; it had just been delivered to his vault. He could just pick it up when he visited Diagon Alley. They had poured over Neville's letter together. Harry had been shocked at the complete lack of information included in the letter. It had simply said, "You have been accepted. Classes start September 1st." Harry was used to getting letters that at least introduced his teachers and stated what classes he had. This letter wasn't worth the paper it was written on. Even he could tell the supply list hadn't been nearly complete.
Through his talks with Neville and Luna, he had learned that most students wore black everyday robes to normal classes and teachers informed them when the heavier work robes were needed, but the supply list hadn't even mentioned everyday robes. He had also learned he needed black dress shoes, something that couldn't possibly be inferred from the list. Neville had learned from his conversations with Potions Master Severus Snape, who turned out to be Professor Snape, that the first years often showed up without the required common ingredients, which made sense since it wasn't on the list. Even common lab equipment, such as stirring rods, ladles, decanters, measuring vials, were expected but not included on the list. Even the book list lacked substance. Harry had learned that most students brought common reference books such as An Encyclopedia of Magical Terms, which was a combination of a dictionary and encyclopedia for all things magical, and The Standard Star Chart, a reference specifically for Astronomy. Even the dry Hogwarts: A History was present in most students' personal libraries. The unabridged version provided all the rules and regulations of the school, besides just the history.
Even the little things, things that most people never thought of weren't included on the supply list. Simple things like parchment, quills, and ink eraser. Those who hadn't grown up around magic wouldn't even know they were supposed to use parchment and quills instead of pen and paper. Harry planned to take a good stack of paper and ballpoint pens just because they were much easier to use. Even if he couldn't do his assignments with them, his own personal notes couldn't be controlled by his teachers.
The sad state of the supply list fit in perfectly with the rest of the letter. Really, it contained no useful information. Everyone assuming that an accepted student to Hogwarts heard stories of the school from their parents, which would not be the case for all those with parents who weren't magical, the letter was sorely lacking. There was no history of the school. There was no information regarding the various extracurricular activities that would keep a student occupied. There wasn't even a section detailing how many students attended the school. Nothing had been mentioned about what classes a student would have and who their professors might be. There was no assigned reading list to prepare for the first class. There was nothing about school holidays or when the term ended.
Nikki was just as disappointed about the letter as him. From a parent's perspective, the letter was even less helpful. It didn't mention Hogwarts rules and regulations, nor where to find them. It didn't tell them how to contact the school with their comments and concerns. It didn't mention the cost of tuition or any of the typical administrative business that parents needed to know. Even the important topics, such as school safety and their child's welfare weren't addressed.
No way was Nikki going to let him go off to some strange school in the middle of who knows where without more information. Earlier, Luna had informed them she would be testing for early entrance into Hogwarts on Thursday. Since Harry didn't have an owl, perhaps she could deliver his conditional acceptance and get some answers to his questions.
"So you've got the list of questions, right?" asked Harry as he gathered some of Luna's papers. Somehow, Luna and Harry had managed to talk Luna's Mum into letting her spend the night at his house the night before she went off to be tested for early admission to Hogwarts. Supposedly, it was to help Luna relax before her big day, but in reality they were both scared she wouldn't get in and needed the reassurance each other's presence brought.
Luna watched Harry pace across the floor. He seemed more nervous than she. "Yes, Harry." It was best just to humor him.
"And extra quills?"
"And that good luck charm?"
"Yes, Harry." Even Luna could only take so much worrying. "And I'm wearing socks and clean under..."
"Luna, dear. Time to go!" Pythia called from the next room, saving Harry from having to hear about Luna's unmentionables. "Are sure you'll be alright here until we get back, Harry?" she asked, entering the room to hurry Luna through the Floo. Harry had deliberately drug his feet until Pythia ran out of time to take him home before they left and had no choice but to leave him there.
"Of course, Mrs. Lovegood. I've got homework to do anyway." Harry's plan was right on track. Now he would be there when Luna returned.
"Well? How did it go?" asked Harry as Luna popped out of the Floo. "Did you do alright? Did you get answers to the questions?"
"Hi Harry. Nice to see you too Harry." responded Luna pointedly.
"Sorry." Never let it be said Harry couldn't catch a hint. "Hi Luna. "How'd it go?"
"Fine, I guess. I only got to see the school nurse, Madame Pomfrey. She sat me down on a bed and waved her wand over me. Then she asked if I could read and handed me a book. It was very boring." Luna looked dejected.
"You were gone an awful long time just for that."
"Mum and the lady talked forever." Luna brightened up a bit. "I did get to try a spell with the lady's wand. It made colorful sparks."
"But did you get in?" Harry asked the question he really wanted the answer to.
"I don't know." Luna's face fell again. "I'll get a letter in the mail."