Hi to whoever's clicked on this! Just a quick AN:
Please read and review! Seriously, it's not as bad as the summary suggested... Well anyway. It's your choice. Freedom of speech and all. So go ahead... or not. Whichever makes you happy. :)
Amy Longbottom stared blankly at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Her light grey owl, Myst, hooted impatiently, glaring at her through the bars of her cage.
"Amy, just run," said her mother softly. "Don't be scared; you can do it!"
"Thanks, Mum," she said, then took a deep breath and began sprinting at the wall. King's Cross Station faded away as she hurtled through the barrier; in its place was a platform crowded with people, a sign saying Hogwarts Express, Platform nine-and-three-quarters hanging from a wall beside her. Her parents were just behind her, and, bringing up the rear were her younger brothers Geoffrey and Aaron, both of whom were whining about why they couldn't go to Hogwarts too.
"You're too young, boys," her father pointed out. "You can go in a few years time, when you get your letter."
"I'll bet you'll be in Ravenclaw, like Mum," Aaron told Amy, "because you're so clever."
She smiled and patted his head, bending down. "Thanks, Ron," she said. "Write to me as much as you can, okay?"
"Sure," he said happily. "I'm doing really well with my handwriting; Mum told me so!"
"I don't think you'll be in Ravenclaw," said nine-year-old Geoffrey, folding his arms across his chest. "I think you'll be in Gryffindor, like Dad."
"I'll tell you where I get sorted, once I know," she promised them. "See you, then." Aaron leaned up to kiss her on the cheek, but Geoffrey shrugged away when Amy looked questioningly at him.
"Oh, Amy," murmured her mother, pulling her into a tight embrace. "Neville, look after her, will you?"
"'Course I will," her father said. He looked as if he were about to say something else, but at that moment another voice cut through the air: "Luna! Neville!"
Amy turned around, and saw Ginny, her godmother, and her husband Harry, followed by James, Albus and Lily, who exclaimed happily when they caught sight of Amy and her brothers.
"Luna," Ginny said cheerfully, "I forgot it was Amy's time to go to Hogwarts as well, today. Our James is going, too."
James grinned at her from behind his heavy-laden trolley, brushing his tousled black hair out of his bright blue eyes. "Hey," he said, over the din of the crowd. "Been a long time, huh?"
"A year's not that long," scoffed Amy. Then her expression softened. "I missed you guys when I was gone. Rose and Hugo, too. But I guess we'll be seeing a lot of each other in the years to come, what with us being family friends and all."
"Not if you're in Slytherin!" came James' reply. They laughed together, and it was like the past year had never happened.
The time to say goodbye came all too quickly. Her mum stood with Harry, Ginny, Aaron, Geoffrey, Albus and Lily, all of whom- except for Harry, Geoffrey and Albus- were sniffling slightly. Her father kissed Luna and his sons each in turn, then looked back at James and Amy.
"Let's go," he said, and led them into the scarlet train, its bell ringing for departure. "Get into one of the compartments early, that's the trick," he said with a wink, "otherwise you might find yourselves huddled in with the wrong crowd!"
"Slytherins," said James under his breath, and her father chuckled.
"Well, I can't agree with that, seeing that I'm a teacher," he said, "but Slytherins are a rough bunch of people; I wouldn't personally find myself trusting them."
He left with a wink, and James gestured towards the nearest empty compartment. "Want to go in here?" he asked, and Amy nodded.
They settled down on the seats, after hoisting their suitcases up onto the top railings, and Amy reluctantly let Myst be taken away to be stored with the other owls.
"Nice owl you've got," James commented, as Myst was carried away in her cage. "Is that the one you were telling me about?"
"Yes," said Amy. "Her name's Myst. I bought her in Berlin when we went there- the shopkeeper was rather glad to be rid of her because she couldn't understand German, only English- and she's brilliant. Delivered twelve letters already!" she finished proudly. "What about you? I thought you said something about a cat…"
"Crookshanks- remember Aunt Hermione's cat?- had kittens, and she gave me one. Look." He pulled open his jacket to reveal a slender young cat, dark brown except for the ginger streak down its throat. With a meow, it bounded into Amy's lap, and she stroked it gently. "He's called Sparkerwell. That's what the doofus Hugo called him anyway, and I decided to keep it. Spark for short, though."
"Hugo's not a doofus," Amy said. He raised an eyebrow.
"Has Amy got the hots for Hugo Weasley?" James declared, and she reached out to slap him lightly across the elbow.
"He's Albus and Geoffrey's age, you dimwit," Amy said, laughing. "He's nine!"
"Scandal," James breathed, and Amy chuckled again.
"I got my wand in Diagon Alley, though," Amy said, once she had caught her breath. "Ollivander gave me this one. Ten and a half inches, Renemell petal and willow." She took out a light brown, slightly silvery wand and showed James.
"Nice. Renemell petal; I heard they were really rare." He whistled, fumbling for his own wand. "Got it here somewhere….Aha!" He pulled out a reddish brown wand. "Ollivander gave me this one, like yours. Eleven inches, mahongany and dragon heartstring."
"It's so pretty…" Amy breathed.
"Hogwarts," James stated. "I still can't really get myself to believe it. It's all finally, really true."
But before Amy could answer, there was a clatter as the door burst open. A girl she recognized from the platform was standing there, sixth or seventh year, Amy guessed.
"Oh, good, it's you!" she said, looking relieved. "I'm Joanna Spencer, Gryffindor seventh year. I have a favour to ask of you." Amy nodded, confused. "Please, please could you tell your dad- Professor Longbottom, right?- that my Quiverroot was killed when…oh, just make up something, please? I'm begging you…" she trailed off, waiting for Amy's response. James kicked her to shake her out of her stupor. A seventh year is speaking to me! Amy thought ecstatically. And she's in Gryffindor!
"Sure," Amy stuttered. "I'll…I'll do it."
"Thanks!" piped the seventh year, and she sped off, away from their compartment. James looked at Amy a little enviously.
"What?" Amy said innocently, as he continued to glare at her.
"That was Joanna Spencer, you numbskull," he hissed. "Joanna Spencer!"
"Yes," Amy replied, "I know."
"She's Gryffindor Quidditch captain! The first female Gryffindor captain! You could've at least introduced me to her!" James yelled. "That was my only chance…"
"To what? To outshine everyone in Quidditch? You're brilliant, James, it runs in your blood. Your father and grandfather were both seekers, weren't they? Don't worry about it; of course she'll put you in the team! And you're famous," she added as an afterthought.
He still glowered at her. "I'm only famous because of my dad."
"Well, not for long," Amy teased. "Soon you'll be either the mockery and laughing stock of the whole school, or you'll be an unbeatable Quidditch star!"
He smiled. "Thanks, Ames."
"No problem." She beamed, relieved that he wasn't angry at her anymore. "We should start getting changed, you know," she quickly told him, as she saw that the people who were walking past their compartment were all wearing dark Hogwarts robes. James nodded, and they left the compartment, hurriedly changing into their robes before going back. By then, they could already see the school looming in the distance, the grey turrets scraping the sky.
"Hogwarts, look!" Amy said excitedly to James.
"I know, I can see it," James said in awed voice. "It's so big."
They sat there for a while, not speaking, just staring at the massive castle-like buildings, which were growing darker by the minute in the nightfall. Then a magnified voice echoed through the train, telling them that they would reach Hogwarts soon, and, with one last look through the window, they rushed outside to join the mass of students in the corridor. Then the train shuddered, and lurched to a stop. James squeezed her hand, and smiled.
"It'll be alright," he said comfortingly, at Amy's evidently terrified face.
"S-sure," she managed to blurt out. "Oh, what if I'm in the wrong house? What if I do really badly? What if they don't like-"
"Shut up, Amy," said James, laughing. "Of course they'll like you; who wouldn't? And your dad's a Professor, so you've probably got his brains."
"Okay," she whispered, her heartbeat staggering to a high, irregular beat as the students began to find their way out into the cool night air.
"Firs'- years!" came a loud gruff voice. "Firs'-years, come on, follow me!" Amy looked up at the man who was speaking, and her neck craned with the effort. He was huge, with a bushy greying beard, and black hair. He grinned at them. "Gawd, you're Harry an' Ginny's son, James, is that righ'?" he asked James.
"Yeah, that's me," said James uneasily. "And you must be Hagrid; I've heard loads about you."
Hagrid laughed, and turned to face Amy. "An' you're Neville an' Luna's kid. Betcha yeh'll both be in Gryffindor, like yer parents!" he bellowed cheerfully.
"Um…yes," Amy said, her voice barely a breath. "But my mother was a Ravenclaw…"
"Firs'-years, follow me!" Hagrid began shouting again, and they followed him down a slippery narrow slope to the edge of a lake, where there were thirty or so boats bobbing. "Four or less to a boat! Ready? Okay, forward!"
The boats began to move all in unison, and Amy gazed up at the castle ahead, lights glimmering through the windows like miniature stars in the blackness around it.
"You know," said James in a quiet undertone, "I've heard there's a giant squid in the lake. My dad told me so."
Amy resisted the urge to pull her hands away from the edge of the boat, before smiling broadly at James. "I don't care. It can't be all that dangerous, since we're crossing the lake. If it were, then I'm sure the school wouldn't allow it."
James looked awestruck. "You're not afraid?" he asked. "Amy Longbottom not afraid?"
"Why should I be?" Amy retorted angrily, and she was hushed by all sides from the people around their boat.
"All off now!" shouted Hagrid, and they clambered onto dry land. Hagrid smiled at the crowd of huddled First-years, then knocked three times on the castle door.
A slender woman wearing pale blue robes answered the door, her hazel hair scraped rather untidily back under a tall black pointed hat. She looked briefly down at them, smiled, then nodded to Hagrid.
"First-years, if you would follow me," she said, and Hagrid urged them on. Amy moved closer to James as they went through the massive Entrance Hall, then took a quick left to an empty room, where they filed in, silent and terrified.
The woman turned to face them. "I'm Professor Johnson, your flying teacher while Madam Hooch is ill…" She shook her head, swallowed, and went on. "Professor McGonnagall is attending to her at the moment with Madam Pomfrey, so I have been assigned to take you into the Great Hall."
"Are you, by any chance, Angelina Johnson, Professor?" James asked, and Amy glared at him. The teacher beamed.
"Yes, how do you know?" she asked.
"I'm James Potter; my dad told me you were once his captain," James replied.
"Brilliant seeker, he was," Professor Johnson said, then faced the crowd of first-years again. "Welcome to Hogwarts. Before you sit down, though, there will be the Sorting Ceremony-"
"I've heard about this," James hissed to Amy.
"-where the Sorting hat will decide which house to put you in. While you are at Hogwarts, your house is like your family, your support, your home, so this is very important. I take it you know what the four houses are? Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw."
She continued, talking about house points and the house cup, but Amy was no longer really listening. But when the double doors opened wide, and they filed in in a sort of orderly line, Amy gulped nervously. What if, despite all of James' reassurances, she was in Slytherin? Her parents would hate that, especially her father…
They walked into the hall, staring, speechless, around them. At last Professor Johnson came to a stop, and took a worn old hat from a woman she recognized was Professor McGonnagall, flustered and crying softly in her seat. Professor Johnson inclined her head, and Professor McGonnagall gave a short nod.
"Oh…" she heard Professor Johnson whisper, then she placed the hat on a stool.
Every head in the Great Hall was turned towards the hat, as if waiting for something. She knew what was about to happen. Her parents had told her all about how the Sorting Hat would sing, but when it happened, it came as a bigger surprise to her than she had thought.
After the applause in the Hall had died down, Professor Johnson stepped forwards, holding a sheet of parchment in shaking hands, tears glinting in her eyes. Amy wondered what was wrong.
"Almer Grace," she said, and a tiny flaxen-haired girl walked forwards to put the hat on her head.
"HUFFLEPUFF!" bellowed the hat, and she ran off, smiling.
Amy looked up as her father stood up and took the parchment from Professor Johnson, who went to sit beside a- she gasped at this- centaur, crying silently, but openly, now. It seemed that nobody else had noticed them amidst the excitement of the sorting.
One by one, people were called out, and suddenly, James was prodding her, looking at her expectantly. Blushing furiously, she staggered up to the stool and placed the hat on her head.
After a long second, the hat shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!" and Amy happily made for the Gryffindor table, looking back at James' wide grin, and her father's wink.
James was made a Gryffindor as well, and so were Monica and Brooke Hayweather- twins, though Monica was taller, with cropped strawberry blonde hair, and Brooke had longer, honey blonde hair. Two more- a 'Furnell, Connor' and a 'Morrison, Declan' were also declared Gryffindors.
She quickly stole a glance back up at the teacher's table, and saw that Professor McGonnagall was whispering to the two teachers on either side of her- deputies, she guessed. Then she stood up slowly, and addressed the school.
"The start of a new year," she said, and by now everyone had seen the tears streaking their way down her cheeks. "Welcome! Before the banquet begins, I should like to say a few things. Firstly, I would like to announce that Professor Johnson, former Gryffindor Quidditch captain is staying permanently to be our flying teacher. Congratulations!" There was more applause, then she carried on. "And secondly, I would like to announce the sad loss of Madam Hooch, our former flying teach-" She broke off and sat down, looking vacantly at the goblet before her. The elderly man on her left stood up.
"To Madam Hooch!" he said loudly, and there were echoes of "Madam Hooch!" across the hall. Professor McGonnagall clapped her hands softly, and there was suddenly food before everyone, and a painting of Madam Hooch blossomed on the wall next to other past teachers. She was sobbing quietly, clutching a broomstick next to her.
"Thank you, Hogwarts!" she called out. "Thank you; all of you!"
Everyone was silent as she spoke, wishing good luck to Angelina- Professor Johnson- who promptly hid her face in her napkin, shoulders shaking, and did not touch her meal once. There were tears in everyone's eyes, save the confused first-years, and Madam Hooch addressed them last.
"I taught many of your parents," she said, and her eyes lingered briefly on James, then, with a slightly pained look, on Amy. "May you all do your best in flying, and I shall hope that some of you will become exceptional at Quidditch. But, most of all, I wish for your sake that you enjoy not just the sport, but the exhilaration, the adrenaline, the team effort of the game. I'm sorry that I never managed to teach you, but I'm sure that Angelina will easily match me. Be good to her. Thank you."
So... was it good enough for you to review? If so, the little green button's just here, just waiting to be pressed. I can practically hear it ASKING you now...
I promise the next chapter will be up soon, and better. This was just a bit of a prologue, scene-setter kind of thing. But I do need a few reviews to persuade me...