AN : I wasn't really planning on posting this here, but since i got a few reviews I'll do so until it's done, or no one's interested. For more up to date versions of my stories, you can go to my homepage. (See the author's information)
Orientation week, as the instructors liked to call it, came and went quickly. There had been around thirty or so American, Canadian, and some Mexican students who'd shown up, each being briefed on the schools they were being sent to.
From what Xander could figure, they'd gone to a lot of trouble to make sure that each student went to a school where they at least spoke the same language. Which was good, in his opinion, to say the least. Some of the Canadians were sent to Beauxbatons in France, and a random handful from the group spoke German well enough to attend Durmstrang. The spanish speaking were being sent to the Order of the Sun in South America.
A few others were being shipped to smaller schools, and then those like Xander himself were being sent to Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry.
Hogwarts, name notwithstanding, apparently had a fair reputation in the community from what Xander could tell. He wasn't sure he liked the sound of that, cause him and school? Well, not a great mix in the past, and he saw no reason why that would change here. Still, it was all very exciting, and he found himself getting more and more eager to see the place in person.
Wednesday Addams, on the other hand, seemed terminally bored. Which didn't surprise Xander as much as it should have since she'd literally scared off every other student who showed up, and a couple of the teachers.
He'd tried to make her laugh with his patented Willow Perk-Uppers, which went down like a lead balloon. He hadn't fallen on his face that hard since he tried being friendly with Cordelia in kindergarten, yet there was still something about the girl that kept him trying.
I'm just a glutton for punishment I guess. He thought glumly.
Today was the big day, though. They were going to portkey across the Atlantic Ocean to Great Britain, and spend some time in a place called Diagon Alley before catching a train to Hogwarts. It was kinda scary, really, and Xander found himself chewing nervously on his lip.
"It'll be fine."
He looked to one side, the monotone voice almost but not quite startling him.
Wednesday Addams looked at him for a moment, "You don't have to be scared. I've read all about portkeys, they're perfectly safe."
"Actually I was thinking about being in Britain," Xander admitted, "never thought of anything going wrong with the portkey... until now, thanks so very much."
He smirked at her, waggling his eyebrows.
He sighed slightly as her expression remained entirely unamused, the dark look she shot him probably intended to inflict bodily harm. "Sheesh, Wednesday, you need to rent a sense of humor."
"So do you."
Xander sighed again, then stopped and did a double take, glaring at her suspiciously. "Was that a joke??"
She gave him an even look, then turned away.
"It was! Short, dark, and scary made a joke!" Xander grinned, "I'm gonna get you giggling yet, girl!"
"I doubt it."
"Children! Gather round your designated areas!"
Xander filed the odd gleam in Wednesday's eyes as a potential chink in her demeanor, and vowed to make a project of exploiting and expanding that look. The two of them made their way over to the Hogwarts group and the professor who had been assigned to them.
"Alright everyone," He said, checking the old wind up timepiece on his wrist, "forty seconds, children. Everyone touch the key."
Xander looked at the beach ball everyone was grasping at and raised his eyebrow slightly, but did as he was told. The countdown started from ten, and everyone was touching it well before the key activated, and Xander again felt the tug in his guts as the world went lopsided on him.
As the world came back the children went down in a heap as one tripped and fell into another, toppling the group like dominos until only Wednesday and the Professor were left standing. The dark girl looked down at them, one eyebrow raised as Xander looked up at her.
"Is it comfortable down there?" She asked dryly.
Xander shook his head and extended his hand, "Cut out the sarcasm and help me up would ya, man I'm dizzy."
She sighed and took his head, bracing herself to help him up, but Xander just grinned and suddenly put his full weight into pulling her forward and off her feet. She toppled to the ground in a heap beside him, and looked over as he climbed to his feet and brushed himself off.
"Comfy huh?" He asked, smirking at her.
Wednesday Addams stared evenly up at the boy who'd suckered her, then calmly extended her own hand. He smirked, but perhaps surprisingly took it and lifted her to her feet.
"Of course you realize," She said, standing even with him, "This means war."
Xander felt a shiver run down his spine, but kept the grin on his face. "Whatever you say, Daffy."
Wednesday took a deep breath, her nostrils flaring slightly as she let it out through her nose, then she turned her back on Xander and rejoined the group who were now staring at the two of them with an odd mixture of fear, awe, and childish skittishness. Given that the same mix was present on the Professors face, Wednesday felt that about the only person in the entire group worth knowing was at her back.
The professor shook himself, and nodded down the street. "Alright, wands first, then familiars and school books."
Ollivander's Fine Wands was, well Xander had to say it... to himself at least, it was a hole in the wall shop. It looked like an old second hand bookstore he had been dragged to by Willow back in Sunndale, and smelled surprisingly the same.
The old man, Ollivander, Xander presumed, was waiting for them when they came in the door and nodded to the professor.
"The little ones from America," He said more than asked. "Well, well... let's get on with it then."
He singled out the closest kid, a boy named Thomas Hardy, and within mere moments Xander found himself ducking for cover as sparks, flames, and what looked like lightning was erupting through the shop and blowing out shelves all over the place.
"Holy!" He muttered, hiding behind a corner.
Only the Professor and Wednesday Addams had remained unmoved as the experimentation went on, and for a while Xander stared at them in shock, but it slowly came to him that it wasn't as dangerous as he'd thought and he crept out to join them.
Ollivander quickly located the wand for Thomas, and moved on to another, plucking a girl named Joy from where she was hiding behind his counter. Her trials in finding a wand took a little longer, but were thankfully less spectacular. One by one the children found their wands, then Ollivander turned to Xander and frowned.
"Hmmm..." He said, checking a list. "Harris you say?"
"Uh... I didn't actually, but yeah." Xander muttered.
The old man ignored him, "try this. Holly, twelve inches, dragon heartstring core."
Xander took the wand, eyeing it for a moment, then flicked it.
He jumped as a force blew out the shelves for three rows, sending hundreds of wands flying down the aisles.
"Sorry!" he yelped.
"No matter, no matter. Here, Thirteen Inches, Vine Wood, with a Unicorn Hair core." Ollivander said absently, handing another to Xander.
Xander accepted it, swallowed, and then flicked it as he'd been told. This time there was a fizzle and pretty much nothing came out.
"Hmmm... not quite. Very well, try this..."
Xander accepted the stick from the man and flicked it, sending a shower of sparks across the room that threatened to light the place on fire. Ollivander extinguished the flames with a casual flick of his own wand and frowned deeply.
"Uh... I can probably get by and," Xander started.
"Nonsense. No one has ever left my shop without a wand properly suited to them," Ollivander said sternly, handing him another one.
Several more times Xander practically destroyed the shop, until he was becoming as jaded about it as Ollivander seemed to be. Finally the shopkeeper pulled out a wand that had been polished to a deep reddish tint and handed it to him.
"Willow, fourteen inches, dragon heart string core." He said calmly.
Xander flicked the wand and was surprised to see a shimmering of lights come out that seemed to match what the other successful matches had been. He smiled, turning to Ollivander, but was surprised when the shopkeeper frowned.
"Not quite right." Ollivander said, looking perplexed.
"It feels good to me."
"No, there's something wrong."
So they went through it again, and again, until everyone was quite tired of the whole thing, and still they found nothing. Ollivander sighed, shaking his head as he looked through the stores that were scattered all over the place. He finally went back to the Willow wand and drew it back out again.
"A second time," He said, handing it to Xander.
Xander frowned, but nodded and flicked the wand to the same results as before.
Ollivander looked downright put out by the results, but finally nodded, "That is the best match of any wand I have in the shop."
"We'll take it," The Professor said tiredly. "Wednesday, your turn."
"Wednesday... Addams?" Olivander looked up, his eyes widening as he visibly swallowed.
For a moment Xander actually thought the old man was going to bolt or try to refuse service to the girl, but he finally shook himself loose of the effect her name had and nodded.
One wand after another left the disaster area that had been a reasonably neat shop in no less of a mess as it would have been impossible to make things worse after Xander's excursion through the wands, yet none of the sticks seemed to do well for the Addams scion.
Finally Ollivander frowned deeply and took a deep breath, drawing out a wand from the bottom tier under his counter. He handed it to Wednesday, it's black surface reflecting very little light as she accepted it.
"Ebony, eleven inches, Dragon heartstring core." Ollivander said with trepidation. "Very rare, not many wands use ebony..."
"I'll take it."
"I believe you should try it at least once, young lady," He said sternly.
"I don't need to." She told him, looking up at him. "This is my wand."
Xander had spent a great deal of his school life practicing the fine art of driving teachers to distraction, and knew the look intimately. Their chaperon of the moment had that look, in spades. He hustled them out of Ollivanders, and across to the pet shop as fast as he could, clearly trying not to look at Wednesday as the girl caressed the smooth surface of her wand with an intent look on her face.
Ollivander had the look of man due a major heart attack at any time as well, but Xander just chalked it up to a successful morning so far and eyed the petshop with some anticipation.
He'd never been allowed a pet, though he'd always wanted one, and now he was not only getting one but he was going to be permitted to take it to CLASS with him. Magic school really had some perks.
Inside they found the place filled with animals of all types, and a few Xander had only imagined previously.
"Please, children. Owls, cats, or rats are preferred."
The children made their way through the shop, picking out the animals of their choice, but Xander found himself gravitating toward another section where a young pup was looking up at him as if expecting him to say something.
"Please Miss Addams, Owls, cats, or rats." The professor said in the background.
"I think not." Wednesday said tonelessly as she went to the counter with a raven on her shoulder. "I'll take him, please."
"Such a polite young lady," The woman behind the counter smiled, ringing it up. "And who might you be?"
The woman went pale, hand shaking as she took the coins offered, and watched the young girl leave. Xander turned his attention back to the pup who was jumping up at him from inside the caged box.
He made a decision in a snap, and scooped the pup up. If Wednesday could get away with a raven, he was going to get a dog.
"He's the one I want." Xander said, not giving the teacher a chance to continue. He presented himself at the counter, noticing the woman was still staring after Wednesday. "Ma'am? Ma'am, I'd like this one please."
"Huh? Oh yes, certainly." She said, numbly taking the money from him.
Xander went immediately outside to wait the rest while the frazzled professor tried to keep the rest in line. He found Wednesday waiting patiently by the curb, the large raven cawing softly on her shoulder.
"Nice." He said, nodding to the bird, "You know, everyone seems to know you."
"They know the Addams'." Wednesday corrected.
She *almost* seemed to smile for a moment, then shook her head slightly, "Infamous."
Xander frowned, thinking hard. "Isn't that the same thing?"
"Oh. Ok." Xander shrugged, Holding up the puppy he'd gotten. "I gotta name him, what do you think?"
Wednesday looked over at the puppy and raised an eyebrow. "Fenrir."
"Fenrir." She said with an odd twinkle. "He should get along well with Odin."
"This," Wednesday said, gesturing to the raven, "Is Odin."
"Ah." Xander nodded, frowning, "You're naming your bird after the Norse God?"
"You know mythology?"
"I know comic books." Xander grinned.
Wednesday sighed, rolled her eyes, and then settled in silently to wait. Xander shrugged, knowing that he'd scored another hit even if she wouldn't admit it, and settled in beside her as he held up the pup. "Fenrir, huh? That's cool. You like?"
The pup yipped once and licked his nose.
The American hoodlums had been cleared out of her shop finally, leaving the shopkeeper to sit in semi-stunned silence as her assistant came back in.
"Gee Corsa, you don't look so good."
"There's an Addams attending Hogwarts," She said as the young man went about cleaning the place up.
"Never mind," She sighed, "You wouldn't understand anyway. Kids these days."
"Hey! Who bought the Dire Wolf cub?"
"What?" The shopkeeper frowned, looking over.
"The dire wolf cub, he's gone, who bought him?"
A look of horror slowly passed over the shopkeeper's face as she thought desperately back. "Oh my, I don't know."
Books were next, but there were no explosions, extreme confusion, or name dropping there so things went by fairly quickly as they were all outfitted properly for school, and then were quickly shooed along by the professor escorting them.
School robes were the last stop for the day, and they each got two, though Xander scowled through the fitting constantly, hating the idea of wearing a dress to school. Only the assurance that everyone wore them made him give in finally, though he was still pretty unhappy about it.
When they were done there they were herded back to their rooms to get everything in order for the next day when they would catch the train to Hogwarts to officially begin their scholastic experience.
Platform 9 and 3/4s. Xander shook his head at the silliness of it, though he had to admit that the hidden entrance was cool. Still, anyone who reads comic books like he did could figure out that it's just downright stupid to have something supposedly 'secret' this much out in the open. He watched as two people walked through the illusion, vanishing from sight, and let his eyes rove around.
Yeah. Thought so. He watched as two people, non magical types he presumed, stared in shock, then quickly moved away. There was no way to hide something that blatant in a place this wide open, Xander would be surprised if it hadn't been reported to the press so many times by now that they were getting bored of it all.
Oh, sure, they'd never believe it, but still... why take stupid chances any...
Xander's eyes narrowed as he watched a man step up to the two witnesses and wave a wand at them. Did he just...?
"Children... get ready now."
Xander shook his head, focusing back on the group then.
"Wait for people to look at the incoming train, then run through," The Salem Professor said, nodding to the wall.
Xander took a breath, then frowned as he saw a young boy wander right between them and the wall.
"Hold... wait for him to move on."
The boy wasn't moving though, he was looking around in confusion at the signs and finally he approached a uniformed guard. Xander sidled closer, trying to listen in.
"Pardon me, Sir, but can you direct me to platform 9 and three quarters?"
The guard looked at the boy like he was nuts, and Xander groaned. He glanced to one side, then the other, and was surprised to find Wednesday right there.
"We should prevent him from attracting any more attention," The dark girl said tonelessly, "Otherwise the guard will be obliviated, and there's no reason for it."
"Right." Xander said, moving forward as he put on a cheery smile. "Hey bro, what are you doing? Making a pest of yourself?"
The boy looked confused, but the guard just shook his head,. "Here now, push off, the two of you."
"Come on, bro, back to the group." Xander said, pulling the other boy along.
"Shut up." Wednesday hissed as they came along side, "The guard has no idea what you're talking about."
The boy looked almost pathetically happy to have been found by someone who did. "You... uh... are?"
"A group going to platform 9 and three quarters." Wednesday replied tonelessly.
"Good work you two," The Salem Professor smiled, "Sorry son, didn't know you were going to Hogwarts."
"That's alright Sir."
Xander found that their little group had grown by almost a full factor of two, with the addition of two red headed adults, four boys, and one girl.
"These are the Weasley's," The Professor said, "Now, shall we move through before our little group crowds out the station."
"Alexander, Wednesday, why don't you go first with young..."
"Harry Sir." The boy answered. "Harry Potter."
"B... b.... bloody hell."
Everyone turned to look at the youngest of the red headed boys, and Xander blinked to realize that they were all staring in shock. He looked over at the other boy, but didn't see anything physical that might have triggered the response. Well, not other than a scar on his forehead, so he assumed it was the name.
"Gee, I seem to be surrounded by celebrities lately," He quipped dryly, earning him an intense stare from Wednesday. Of course, since everything she did was intense, he wasn't worried about it.
"Continue it on the other side, go on! Now, no ones looking."
"You too Ron, go ahead and show them the way." The older woman said.
The youngest boy nodded and pushed a cart on ahead, heading right for the wall with Harry jogging after him. Xander matched his pace to Wednesday, who was walking with a dignified stride that nevertheless covered the ground almost as fast. The two ahead of them vanished into the stone wall, and they followed. Xander flinched hard just before walking into it, but quickly opened his eyes as bright light erupted around him and he found himself on a crowded platform with all sorts of weirdness rushing around.
"Clear the way!"
The call came from behind, causing he and Wednesday to split smoothly as the two middle redheads came roaring through, riding their carts like race cars. Behind them the rest of the group streamed after. Xander and Wednesday waited beside Harry and Ron as the others assembled.
"Are you really... Harry Potter?" Ron asked, his tone filled with awe.
"Uh, yeah I guess so." Harry seemed slightly perturbed by question.
"Brilliant!" Ron enthused, "That's fantastic! And you're going to Hogwarts, first year right?"
"Absolutely brilliant." The redhead grinned widely.
"Nice to meet you, Harry." Xander said, nodding. "I'm Xander, this is Wednesday."
"Hi," Harry said, nodding to each.
The Addams scion merely inclined her head in return.
"Those are funny names," Ron blinked.
Xander and Wednesday looked at each other, then at him, and actually spoke as one.
They looked at each other sharply again, then back to Ron and Harry who were staring at them.
"Cor, do you two do that a lot? Fred and George do it all the time, but they're twins."
"Don't know, we just met." Xander grinned, looking at Harry, "So, you're famous I take it."
"Yeah, it seems so." Harry said, rubbing the back of his head self consciously.
"Of course he is! He's Harry Pot-!" Ron blurted, only to be cut off when Harry slapped a hand over his mouth.
"Not so loud, please!" Potter begged, "I don't want to be stared at."
Ron's eyes bulged, but he nodded in agreement.
"Well, someone's learned quick how to quiet my Ron down," The older woman, presumably Ron's mother, said as she approached.
"Sorry, ma'am, but I..."
"Please, thing nothing of it." The woman said with a smile, "We all want to do that to Ron from time to time. I'm Molly Weasely."
"Hey!" Ron growled, trying to summon what dignity he could.
"Pleased to meet you ma'am." Harry said.
Molly turned to look at Wednesday and Xander, "Such quick thinking children, helping Harry out like that. And you are?"
"Xander Harris, Ma'am."
Molly was nodding politely to Xander when Wednesday introduced herself, then paused, almost choking as she stared. "A... Addams you say?"
Wednesday raised a single eyebrow, but didn't repeat herself.
"Oh my. Oh my." Molly stammered, pulling back.
"Are you ok, mum?" Ron frowned.
"I... Uh, yes I'm fine. Well, have a good year Ron. Harry, it was a pleasure to meet you." Molly said, eyes never leaving Wednesday as she retreated to where he Husband was talking animatedly with the American Wizard. The children watched as she hissed something to him, his eyes bugged out, and he stared over at them. They hissed back and forth, then spoke softly to the Salem Professor, then stared some more.
"Blimey. Mum never reacted like that, even to Harry here." Ron blurted, staring at Wednesday. "Who are you?"
"I believe I already said." Wednesday said tonelessly, idly rubbing her Raven's beak as he cawed softly.
"Yeah, but I mean, I don't get it?"
"Somehow that doesn't surprise me," The dark young girl said before walking back to the American group.
Xander glanced her way, then to where Harry and Ron were standing, and made a quick decision. "I'll see you guys around school, maybe on the train."
Then he followed after her.
"Weird." Ron said, shaking his head.
Harry raised an eyebrow, looking around the platform at the various oddities he could see, then looked back at Ron.
Harry just chuckled.
On the train the group filled up two compartments under the supervision of their Professor, who then nodded to them.
"I'll be taking my leave now. Behave yourselves."
"You're leaving us alone?"
"All children go to Hogwarts from this point on their own," He smiled. "Don't worry, you'll be fine. Just listen to the Prefects and Professors, study hard, and behave yourselves."
They nodded and watched as he left. Xander glanced over at Wednesday, who was seated by the window with the raven on her shoulder. He followed her eyes to where their professor stepped off the train and then with a jerking motion, they were moving.
"I guess it's really happening," he said, feeling a little nervous.
Wednesday just looked at him like he had said the stupidist thing imaginable, shook her head, and looked back out the window. Xander chuckled softly, "Man, it's like dealing with the Anti-Willow."
That comment earned him another sharp look, though with a hint of curiosity rather than exasperation this time. It did not, however, earn him any words. Xander took the hint and joined in a conversation going on next to him between a girl from Colorado and a boy from Texas.
Some time into the trip the door slid open to reveal a young girl with curly hair.
"Hullo," She said, looking around, "Has anyone here seen a frog?"
The kids looked at each other, then back at her and shook their heads.
"Oh drat." She muttered, "Neville lost his somewhere and can't remember where."
"Well I suppose if he could remember where it wouldn't be lost," Wednesday offered dryly.
Xander snickered, quickly looking away.
The girl looked narrowly at them both, but apparently didn't feel like responding. "Well if you do find it, could let us know? It's important, really."
"I could ask Odin to look," Wednesday offered with a gleam in her eyes, "I suspect that he's feeling a little... famished at the moment."
"Odin? Who's..." The girl trailed off, staring at the raven, and paled as she backpedaled, realizing what the 'famished' comment meant. "Urr, no that's quite alright. We'll find him our way, thank you!"
As the girl retreated, Xander sighed and turned to Wednesday, "That was mean, you know that right?"
Wednesday merely shrugged.
Xander shook his head, "I'm going to go see if I can help, I'll let her know you were joking."
"That's what I'm going to tell her anyway."
"Ah," Wednesday said, tilting her head to one side as Xander left. She looked at the raven, "Odin, please, find the frog."
The bird cawed once, cocking it's own head.
"No, don't eat him. Yet anyway."
The bird cawed again and fluttered off, out into the halls as Wednesday crossed her legs and produced a large leatherbound book from her luggage. Everyone in the compartment stared at her until she looked up, matching their gaze. After that, they others quickly found other things to occupy their time.
In the narrow corridors of the train Xander quickly caught up with the curly haired girl, "Hey, sorry about that. Wednesday has a strange sense of humor."
"I can tell."
"She seems alright though," Xander grinned, offering his hand. "Xander Harris."
"Hermione Granger." The girl returned, shaking his hand.
"Cool. Good to meet you, you need a hand finding that frog?"
"Thanks, that would be very nice."
They moved together through the train, poking around where a frog might hide and asking if anyone had seen it with little luck. After a bit they made their way into a nearly empty compartment.
"Excuse me, but have you two seen a frog by any chance?" Hermione asked.
"Hey!" Xander grinned, "Ron, Harry. How's the trip so far?"
"We're goof..." Ron said through mouthfuls of food.
"Snacks? How come I didn't see any snacks!?" Xander instantly complained.
"Were you blind? We past the cart three times."
"Well you had me sticking my head in any corner a frog might hide, how was I supposed to see it?"
"You can have some if you like," Harry offered, smiling.
"Thanks... what are these anyway?" Xander asked, looking over the pile, hoping for something he recognized.
"Oh hey, are you doing magic?" Hermione focused on Ron, who had his wand out. "May I join you?"
Xander looked over from where he had half a chocolate frog in his mouth, "I tough yuf anted oo ind the rog?"
She didn't even bother looking at him, focusing instead on where Ron was tapping his pet rat with his wand and telling it something about the color yellow. "Well, that's not much of a spell, is it?"
"I'd like to see you do better!" Ron instantly challenged her.
"Well, I've only tried some small spells, but they've all worked perfectly for me," She replied, glancing over at Harry's glasses. "Like this... Ocullar Reparo!"
There was a small flash and Harry's jury rigged repairs vanished from his glasses, instantly repairing the scratched lenses and cracked frame.
All three boys stared, impressed.
"That was brilliant!"
"Oh, I'm Hermione." She said, glaring at Xander, "Since someone forgot to introduce me."
"Sowwy." Xander shrugged, trying a jelly bean looking thing, then instantly gagging.
"What? What's wrong?"
"Who in the name of all that's holy would make a crazy glue flavored jelly bean!?"
"Those are berty bott's every flavored beans," Ron said, "when they say 'every'..."
"They mean *every*," Xander said, trying to spit the taste out of his mouth. "Gah!"
"I have a better question," Hermione said from where she sat, "How do you know what crazy glue tastes like? I mean, I've heard of eating glue but isn't that a little... strange?"
"What's crazy glue?" Ron asked, confused.
"Don't ask." Xander shook his head, "Let's just say it was a stupid dare, and I regretted it very, very, quickly. I had a piece of popsicle stick stuck to my tooth for three days."
Hermione smothered a laugh as Harry chuckled, but Ron just looked confused.
"What's a popsicle stick?"
Before Xander would answer the door to the compartment slid open again, this time to admit a slim blond boy and two boys that Xander instantly pegged as 'goons'.
"So," The blond announced loudly, "I hear that Harry Potter is on this train, is that true? Are you him?"
Xander glanced toward Harry, who just nodded.
"Well," The blond smiled, arms wide in greeting. "I thought I'd offer to help you out, show you how to avoid making the wrong sort of friends..."
The flick of his eyes to include the rest of the compartment left them with a good idea of who he considered the wrong sort.
"Sod off, Malfoy!" Ron growled.
"Red hair, hand me down robes... must be a Weasely." Malfo sneered. "Really, I'm surprised any of your lot can even afford to go to Hogwarts."
Ron surged up, but Harry was already between him and Malfoy.
"I think I can tell who the wrong type of friends are on my own, Malfoy." Harry said in a low, serious tone.
The two groups glared at each other for a moment, only to be suddenly interrupted by a loud cawing sound as a black blur flew in and landed on Malfoy's head.
"What is it!? Get it off! Get it off!" The blond screamed, shocked.
Odin, easily riding out the bucking of the boy, tossed his head in the air and catapulted a frog across the room to where it landed in Xander's surprised hands. It cawed again, then cocked it's head to one side and looked down at the blond head below, pecking at Malfoy three times before retreating to the frame above the door just before one of the goons pounded the slim boy over the head with a bag full of books.
Xander winced as Malfoy went down in a heap, "That had to hurt."
"Oy!" Ron roared, "Bloody brilliant! Who's bird is that?"
Xander shook his head, not answering as he looked up at the bird with a smirk on his face. "Wednesday, you ol softy."
He turned to Hermione, handing her the frog. "This belongs to your friend, I think?"
"Huh? Right..." She said, accepting it, but her focus was on Harry. "Are you really Harry Potter?"
He sighed, but nodded and pushed his hair back, showing the scar on his forehead.
"Amazing." She whispered, then smiled brilliantly, "I'm so very pleased to meet you."
"Likewise." Harry smiled.
Meanwhile, Draco Malfoy was being helped to his feet, wavering unsteadily as he glared up at the raven above him.
"Vile creature! I'll show you..." He muttered, drawing his wand.
The quiet voice startled them all as Draco froze, finding a wand at his throat, attached as it was to a hand and arm that had somehow snaked between his two goons. They parted instantly to reveal a small girl with a blank expression on her face as she looked at him with intense eyes.
"Who are you?"
She didn't answer, merely extended her other arm for the Raven to land on, then backed out of the compartment. Once she was clear she just turned her back on him and walked away.
"Hey! You can't just ignore me!" Draco started to charge out after her, wand in hand.
Xander cut him off, tripping him out into the hallway, leaving him sprawled up against the far wall in a heap. Then Xander stepped on the blond boy as he followed Wednesday, only glancing back to wave goodbye to the others.
"See you in school, guys."
Ron just grinned, his face threatening to split as Draco sputtered and struggled with his two friends as they 'helped' him to his feet.
"Bloody brilliant." The redhead simply said, his voice filled with awe.
"You didn't have to do that."
Xander glanced to one side, noting that Wednesday wasn't actually looking at him as she spoke, but figured it was directed his way anyway. "Do what?"
"Trip him. I could have handled it."
"I'm sure you could," Xander grinned.
"Then why help me?"
Xander shrugged, "Oddly enough, I find I kinda like you."
The dark girl looked over at Xander, eyes intensely searching his face for a moment, then she looked away and that was the end of the conversation. Xander waited for some response for a little while, then gave up on it. Definitely the Anti-Willow.
He tried not to let it bother him, since he didn't really care whether she was grateful or thanked him, or even was mad at him for what he'd done. He'd heard all the responses since meeting Willow in kindergarten, from hug to slap. Being ignored was a new one, he had to admit, but what the hell, she'd had her Raven find the frog and it hadn't even eaten the little critter. Given it a heart attack, sure, but not eaten.
Similarly she'd stepped in to help Harry when he was lost, not to mention the security guy who was probably closer to some kind of magical brainwashing that Xander really wanted to think about. That's wrong isn't it? I mean, they just mess with people's heads? That IS wrong... I think?
He was getting headache thinking about that, actually. He wasn't used to great moral questions and honestly didn't know the answer. All the comic books he read said that messing with people's heads was really bad stuff though, and he didn't think professor X would condone it just cause someone saw something he probably didn't even believe.
At just barely eleven years of age, though, Xander already knew that the world was more complicated than that. He knew that drinking was bad, but his parents did it... a lot. In fact, he'd seen adults do a lot of stuff that was supposed to be pretty bad, enough that Xander wasn't really sure that his comics had been telling him the truth all along.
He sighed slightly, but said nothing else as he absently played with Fenrir while the Hogwarts Express rolled on.
The end of their journey was in the shadow of an imposing castle that brought Xander up short the second he saw it, and he wasn't the only one. Several students caused minor accidents as they stared in shock, nearly getting run over in the process. It was like something out of a fantasy movie, the good kind not the historical crap, with all the trimmings.
He was shocked out of his stupor by a rumbling voice echoing past him, "Firs' Years this way!"
He looked up, eyes widening, then looked up even further as a huge man came stomping in his direction, and Xander started looking around for escape paths just in case.
The familiar voice of Harry Potter and the obviously eager tone calmed Xander down some, as he recognized that the other boy was certainly not afraid of the imposing figure.
"'Ello 'Arry," Hagrid beamed, and right then Xander forgot his fear. This wasn't a man who was going to hurt kids, that was pretty obvious.
Xander moved forward, nodding to Harry, "Hey dude, who's your friend?"
"Dude?" Ron blinked, looking around, "Who's dude?"
Hermione sighed, rolling her eyes, but Harry just grinned, "Xander, this is Hagrid. Hagrid, this are my friends, Xander, Hermione, and Ron."
"Ello everyone, are you ready to go to Hogwarts then?" Hagrid beamed.
They all nodded as the first years slowly gathered around, and were shown to a series of boats that would apparently be taking them across the lake to the castle. With the usual amount of trouble that came with guiding children, Hagrid got his charges where he needed them to go and within just a few minutes was hustling them into the school.
They were standing there, waiting for this 'sorting' ceremony everyone kept talking about, and generally getting impatient, antsy, and nervous in the process when someone screamed, several other's gasped, and Xander turned to find his eyes widening at the sight of several ghosts floating through the far wall, apparently discussing giving someone, or something, a second chance.
The ghosts seemed to notice that they were being watched and paused in front of the assembled students.
"Ah, first years I suppose?"
Everyone, Xander included, turned and gaped at how calmly Wednesday was as the ghosts looked at her.
"About to be sorted?"
"I believe so."
"Good, good," The ghost, who looked like a friar nodded, "Hope to see you in Hufflepuff, young lady. That was my old house you know."
Wednesday didn't change her expression as she gazed up at him, "That's unlikely, Sir."
"Oh?" The Ghost grinned widely, "And why do you say that?"
"I've read the requirements, I don't believe I will be placed there."
"And where you do you expect to be placed?"
The girl shrugged very slightly, "Not Gryffindor either, I expect. So Ravenclaw or Slytherin is my best guess."
The ghosts looked at each other, exchanging more in the glances than anyone could see, then the friar turned back. "I expect we'll find out how right you are shortly, young lady."
The Friar looked back to the others and nodded, "We'll be seeing you around."
As the ghosts floated off Xander noticed everyone shifting away from Wednesday and made a point to move a little closer. "You sure know how to get some extra elbow room."
"I was feeling a little crowded," She deadpanned in response.
"This way children, form a line," A Professor introduced as McGonagal said sternly, appearing practically from nowhere, hustling them into the Great Hall.
As everyone was oohing and aweing at the fantastic night sky above them, Xander heard Hermione speak up.
"It's not real, you know."
"Huh?" Harry blinked, looking at her.
"It's enchanted to look like the sky," She proclaimed, obviously eager to doll out the tidbit of knowledge. Xander almost chuckled at the satisfied look, bordering on true smugness, that crossed her face.
"How do you know that?" Ron practically demanded, his voice just short of an actual challenge.
"I read all about it in Hogwarts, A History."
"Ah," Xander sighed happily, "There's my fix of Willowy goodness. Been missing that."
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked over at him, obviously confused.
"Nevermind," Xander said, just smiling easily.
"Right." Ron shook his head.
The redhead was about to say something else, but was interrupted when the the Professor brought out an old hat and set it on a chair. They looked on in confusion, and almost everyone jumped as the hat began to SING.
Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can top them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a steady mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!
Some of the kids hesitantly applauded when it finished, then the professor began calling out names, starting with.
Xander watched as the dark girl stepped calmly forward and had the hat placed in her head. He seemed to consider for a long time, then finally let out a call.
Wednesday set the hat aside and glanced down at the table of her house, then back at Xander for a moment. Finally she nodded to him and walked calmly to the applauding students. Xander clapped too, but he was more interested in the look on the Professor's face as she watched Wednesday nervously the whole time.
One kid after another was called up, then dispatched quickly to one house or another, then after some time it the call was...
Xander swallowed and walked up to the seat, knowing by this point that he just had to put the hat on, so he did. As soon as it was down over his head it began to mumble.
"Hmm... interesting. Very interesting, boy. You're one of the tougher ones to place, I'd say. You've got heart, loyal to a fault. The Hufflepuffs would gladly have you, no question. There's courage here too, though your chivalry is a little rusty..." The hat chuckled at it's own joke, just confusing Xander, "Your courage isn't blind, but it's more than enough to stand up to the requirements of a Gryffindor. The best I can say for your mind is that you might survive in Ravenclaw, though I expect you'd wish you hadn't. Still... The only answer I can see is..."
"Slytherin!" The hat yelled out after it's long deliberation, and Xander rose up.
He looked around then found the table with green colors and made his way over to it. Some of the table applauded, some were more stoic. Xander suddenly had a bad feeling in his gut as he looked at the adult standing behind the table, glaring at him as he approached.
Oh man. This is gonna SUCK. He suddenly realized, having a urge then to turn and rush back, demanding another try with the hat.
Instead he just sat down and tried to make himself invisible as the sorting continued. His sinking feeling continued when the Blond kid he'd tripped on the train was sent instantly over to the Slytherin table, along with his two goons. School was looking to be about as good as it ever did he realized with a sigh, only half paying attention to the sorting until Harry was at the chair with the hat on his head.
There was another long pause as the hat considered, apparently having the same problems with Harry as he had with Xander. Finally, though, the hat let out a roar of "Gryffindor!"
The Red and Gold table erupted then, with kids cheering and yelling 'We got Potter! We Got Potter!'. Xander winced, and could hear the grumbling around his table. Harry's got some fans at least.
Ron and Hermione were also in Gruffindor Xander noted when it was all done, and he found himself sitting across the room from pretty much everyone he personally knew, and beside at least one person he'd found reason to dislike. Oh joyous day.
When the sorting was done the oldest man Xander had ever seen just clapped his hands and suddenly the tables were covered in foods of types Xander had only imagined, and he actually stared for several long moments as everyone else tucked in and began to eat.
He shook it off quickly, grabbing some food of his own, and was well into his meal when a ghostly figure floated into view, apparently sizing up the Slytherin first years. Everyone shied away from him, but Xander had seen Wednesday speak to them earlier and just nodded to the rather gory spectacle as it passed by.
"Hey man, how's it going?"
The ghost paused to look at him closely, leaning in as the two students on either side of Xander shifted away in a hurry. Xander leaned back, frowning, "Uh. No offense, but I'm eating here dude, and the Baron Harkonnen look is kinda freak worthy."
The growl the ghost let out sent a shiver down his back, but Xander stubbornly refused to back down and finally the ghost moved on.
"Don't talk much, does he?"
"That was the Bloody Baron!" A student next to him hissed, "No one talks back to the Baron, he's just here to look intimidating."
Xander glanced around and noticed that the other tables all had ghosts floating around them and they seemed to be involved in conversation. He filed the information away and just shrugged, "If he doesn't want me to talk to him, he can tell me himself."
The boy looked at him like he was nuts, but Xander had long since determined that he was in a completely different world and the worst thing he could do right now is look like a pushover. He glanced longingly over at the Ravenclaw table, only to find Wednesday looking back at him, her own position just as isolated as his was. At the gryffindor table, things were different. Harry and Ron were talking and laughing, and the group was generally enjoying themselves as everyone wrapped up their meal.
As the dishes vanished to wherever they were sent, and Xander made a silent plea to whatever Gods were watching that he wouldn't have to wash the damn things, the oldest guy on the planet stood up and cleared his throat.
Xander listened half heartedly as he went on with the standard sounding rules that he'd expect, stay out of the forest, behave, yadda yadda yadda. When the mention of 'painful death' came up Xander stiffened to attention, focusing on the old man. What was that? Third floor?
While he was still trying to figure it out, however, the Headmaster had moved on.
"And now, before we go to bed, let's all sing the school song!"
Xander frowned, watching as the Headmaster tapped his wand and shot out a ribbon that formed into words.
"Everyone pick your favorite tune!"
Xander found himself compelled to sing along as the whole school roared, the words spilling from him on automatic as his eyes flicked about. Everyone was singing, and not one was using the same tune as far as he could tell. The result was a deafening roar that slowly began to peter out as the faster tunes finished.
Finally it was just two Gryffindor twins, Xander recognized as Ron's brothers, singing in a slow funeral march tune. When they finished people applauded, the Headmaster loudest of all.
"Ah music," Dumbledore said, wiping his eyes. "Truely, a magic beyond what we do here."
Xander was ignoring him mostly, eyes on the twins as a smiled played around his lips. Those two were gonna be fun, he was willing to bet.
"Alright, off to bed with you."