FULL SUMMARY: Molly Gale is invisible. She has a best friend in Rose Weasley but no other friends, and her muggle parents fear her magic more than they love their daughter. But it takes until Molly's little brother is also accepted to Hogwarts for her father to lose it, properly. When her Dad kicks her out, Molly takes her little brother and goes to Diagon Alley, hoping to find Rose there school shopping, but instead she runs into Rose's cousins. Molly spills her guts to Albus-almost all of them-and the Potters let her and her brother Cormac stay with them until Hogwarts starts up again. Hogwarts is just what Molly needs after another hard summer at home, but things are no easier there either. Molly's reluctant to share about how much she misses her brothers and sister, and how bad her circumstances are if her parents never let her back home. Will Albus be able to help Molly? Or will too much be left unsaid?

A/N: Hey guys... this is a companion-type piece for No Chance, in that James is still like the James I wrote, and Serafina Finnigan is Seamus's daughter, but it's focused on Albus Potter & his friend Molly Gale. Molly's the main character... la-di-da. you get the gist.

so moving on: this story was made possible by...

Skittles31
Moliveline
Leshawnaseville15

... alsoo the lovely people who followed no chance and/or messaged me about starting a new story. thanks y'all... super nice :) anyway, here goes, happy reading!


Heart is Hard to Find

I can't compete with the clear eyes of strangers
I'm more and more replaced by my friends each night
I can't compete, I just can't recover
How many years it's been, it's day one in my mind
That's the first step each time.
-Jimmy Eat World

There were several reasons why getting my Hogwarts letter on my eleventh birthday was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. I was a witch, I could do magic, I got to meet Rose Weasley and be her best friend, and pretend that her family was mine. But the most important reason?

I didn't have to cook.

I couldn't even make pasta. Tea, or anything with boiling water, was out of the question. Even instant pancakes were out of my range. Just add water to the powder, stir, and pour, right? Wrong. It was a disaster everytime. I'd pour it straight onto the fire (instant pancake mix is flammable, for all of those who asked themselves that question) or add the wrong proportion of water to pancake powder or I'd leave them in the pan too long or I'd turn it into scrambled pancakes because I couldn't get the spatula under it. And not having to cook anymore—this was a freaking big deal. I was the oldest of five by four years, and both of my parents worked full time jobs. I got a lot of time at the stove, using my skills to poison my brothers and sister.

But suddenly, I was at Hogwarts nine months of the year. Nine months of the year I got to be all magical and not cook.

Unfortunately, that was not the entirety of the year. For those of you who are more talented at math, you can already tell that there are three less lovely months left in the year. Three less lovely months which included my dear little brother's birthday. And while it would have been kinder—to both his health and his general sanity—to have me not cook on his birthday, I had those other little siblings I referred to earlier. So Mum took care of Thing 1 & Thing 2 (legally, their names were Elena and Callum, but I firmly believed Thing 1 & Thing 2 were better suited) so they wouldn't wake up Cormac. And Nathaniel was sleeping, as he did 90% of the time. Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel was perhaps the most boring of my siblings. He got Bs in school, slept 90% of the time, and the remaining 10% were spent eating. Anything and everything. Seriously, the kid was a little scary sometimes.

To recap, it was pretty much just little old me making (possibly lethal) food for my family. Which led to me being a wee bit stressed on August 17, Cormac's birthday. And all of this was left unaided by the fact that I was leaving for Diagon Alley tonight so I could meet up with the Weasleys. So I was packing, expecting my Hogwarts Supplies list, and trying to perfect birthday pancakes.

God help me.

"No, no, no—" I chanted tightly as Callum's seven-year-old form slammed into my side and I grasped the bowl of pancake mix tightly with both hands. "Mum, you're supposed to keep them out of the kitchen—" I called over my shoulder, a strand of hair falling in my eyes as strain bit into my voice.

"Hush," Mum chastised quietly, coming over to run a hand over Cal's light blond hair: he sped away the moment he knew he wasn't in trouble, and I threw a disgruntled glare after him. Kid got away with everything. "You'll wake Cormac if you're not quieter." She told me fondly, putting a hand on my upper arm.

"I'll poison you all unless someone helps me." I muttered as I finished off the pancake and set the bowl down on the counter beside the stove.

"You're not going to poison us, sweetheart—I'm sure your cooking is fine." Mum said kindly, obviously ignoring the fact that I was, in fact, the worst cook on the planet.

"Mm-hmm, sure." I said skeptically under my breath. There were a couple beats of awkward silence as Mum and I stood there, watching the pancakes. I swallowed unsurely: I'd been meaning to bring something up with Mum, and time was ticking. I could bring it up now.

"I'm leaving for Diagon Alley tonight." I pointed out as lightly as I could. "Going to get my letter today, with what I need for school? It's coming today." I smiled shallowly at her, trying to make it look like I wasn't feeling this awkward. "After Cormac's birthday dinner, of course, but—"

"Who will you stay with?" Mum asked quietly, looking at the stove.

"The Weasleys." I said after a moment, surprised. My mother had never yet met the Weasleys, or even talked to me about them. Rose Weasley was my best friend on the planet, but Mum had never met her or her parents. My parents wanted nothing to do with my magical world, even if it was just the people who worked within it.

"Your friend… Daisy?" Mum asked.

"Rose." I said, but I was so pleased by how interested she was that I pushed on past the correction, turning to her and beaming. "They're such a nice family, Mum—" I began, but I stopped as smoke began to rise from the pan. Already panicking—I hated cooking—I touched my wand in my pocket, pulling it out before I could think that perhaps that using magic with my mother in the room wasn't a good idea. The smoke disappeared, and a normal-looking pancake sprung up before me. I exhaled heavily, dropping my wand to my side. My mother had frozen in place, her dull gaze on the frying pan before me. I swallowed my discomfort at the look on her face. She was horrified and not hiding it well.

My parents were not a fan of magic, for a few reasons. First off, my mother was a computer programmer and my dad sold insurance. My parents had very down to earth jobs. My parents were very down to earth people. And they had four charming (enough, anyway) normal children. And a witch. So I was the odd one out on that count. But it was also the fact that growing up, I'd been brimming with magic. Everywhere I turned, strange things happened: my teachers would hand back spelling tests I'd failed that they'd marked as a 100, confused looks on the faces; I could turn the lights in my room on and off without moving from my bed. I'd made the mural of daisies on my wall come to life and they swung back and forth with the nonexistent breeze in my room. I'd freaked my parents out to no end before Professor Longbottom finally showed up on my front step with my Hogwarts letter on my eleventh birthday.

Not that the explanation had somehow comforted my parents. "Hi, your kid may not be normal, but it's cool, she's just a witch." It took Longbottom handing me a wand and telling me to perform a spell and then my mother's repetition of the same thing, to very different ends to even prove to them that Longbottom wasn't just a crack pot. Anyway, my parents hated magic. They did not view my report cards, they didn't discuss my school friends with me, they didn't like to look at my summer work or look at the list of school supplies I needed. First year, I'd gone with Professor Longbottom, and since then I'd gone with the Weasleys. So my performing magic in our kitchen, albeit in prevention of a fire, was unacceptable to the millionth degree.

"I'll tell Ed to come down and help you." Mum murmured, interrupting my string of thought, and I winced as she walked away. Mum was going to go tell Dad that I'd done magic. I'd done magic on their food. Dad was going to be pissed.

"Was that magic?" Elena's voice came from behind me. I twisted to look at my little sister; the little girl was sitting at the countertop behind me. Ellie and Cal were seven-years-old, twins, and terrifying when they were in a mood. But separated, they could be tolerated. Cal was speedier, more mischevious, while Ellie was always asking questions, but to the point where you wanted to slam your head against the wall and just hand her an encyclopedia.

"Yes." I said carefully to Elena.

"And your wand did it?" Elena asked, looking down at my hand. Ellie had dark brown hair compared to Cal's wispy blond, but it was curly and my mother took great pride in how pretty Ellie was. She dressed her up in little dresses and tights and maryjanes at every opportunity, despite the fact that Ellie disliked them all intensely. Ellie and I actually looked a bit alike, with the hair and the same shape of eyes, though her eyes were gray while mine were blue. "Doesn't that mean I'd be able to do magic with a wand?" Ellie asked.

"No." I said firmly, shaking my head once and tucking my wand into my pocket. I turned back to the pancake, sliding my spatula under it and lifting it onto a plate. I put it down on the far side of the stove, dropping the spatula on the plate too before I lifted the bowl of pancake mix again. "You don't want to be a witch, Ellie."

"I know that." Ellie scoffed, and I swallowed, even as the pancake mix spilled from the bowl and dripped around the frying pan before actually hitting home. My seven-year-old sister already knew that she didn't want to be what I was. "Mummy and Daddy get too mad at you. And you go to school so far away." She added after a moment, her voice thoughtful.

I almost argued that point—Hogwarts was not exceptionally far from our home. But Ellie didn't care about physical distance. She cared about how much I was home—or rather, how little.

"I'm leaving tonight." I said after a second. "After Cormac's dinner, I'm going back to school." I finished pouring the mix, leveling the bowl. I put it back down, eying the pancake mix in the frying pan for a moment before turning back to Ellie. "I'll be back for Christmas though, you know that." Ellie didn't immediately respond, seemingly busy caring for her doll. She combed the doll's hair twice more before looking up at me.

"I liked it better when you weren't magic." Elena said solemnly, her gaze meeting mine for a moment before she looked back down at the doll, as if what she said didn't mean anything. I blinked once, trying to comfort myself for a heart beat: Elena was eight years younger than me. She'd been three when I'd been not-a-witch. She hadn't known my brand of magic, real magic, from the stuff used by the fairy in Peter Pan. She had no idea what she was talking about.

But it still made my throat ache when she said it.

So, the only bad thing about going to Hogwarts? In the entirety of my four-going-on-five years at Hogwarts, I could come up with exactly one bad thing with the entire situation, but, boy, was it a doozy.

I felt like I was choosing my magic over my family every day I spent at that school.


"Happy Birthday to you!" We finished the birthday song in chorus, Ellie and Cal bouncing up and down in rhythm to the song. Cormac, his smile too big for his face, blew out of his candles as my mom snapped a photo, smiling proudly. Nate ruffled Cormac's hair and I grinned at the kid, smoothing out his hair a little.

"My little brother is all grown up," I said mock sentimentally, clapping a hand over my heart, and Cormac scoffed at me, while Nate put a hand on my arm, keeping me upright. I flashed my brother a smile and Nate rolled his eyes, looking back towards Cormac.

"You're not supposed to roll your eyes!" Ellie protested loudly. We all pointedly ignored her—it was the only way to get her to shut up. "I want cake." Ellie muttered after a moment, switching subjects, and my mother laughed for a moment before shushing her goodnaturedly, tugging lightly on her ponytail. Dad chuckled fondly, grabbing Ellie and tossing her into his arms: Ellie squealed, grabbing Dad tightly, and Dad hugged her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head before putting her in a chair. Dad grabbed Cal and hoisted him over the top of his chair, kissing his head too.

"You're getting too big for hoisting, kiddo. Got some muscle on you—" Dad said to Cal, and. I heard the joke in his words: Cal was tiny for his age, but Cal still sat up straighter, grinning shyly. Dad looked up at Cormac. "Happy birthday, Cory,"

"Thanks guys," Cormac said shyly as Mum stepped forward with a cake knife, sinking it into the cake. "I love—" There was a muffled crashing sound followed by a squawk as an owl crashed into a window behind me. I twisted to look at the bird standing on my window ledge in the living room: our living room and dining room were connected. I sighed, ignoring the stony expressions on my parents' faces. Crazy daughter had to get messages from owls. I'd been waiting on my stupid owl all day—I didn't care what they thought of it.

"Not during dinner, Molly." Mum snapped as I slipped away from the table.

"I'm not leaving him out there." I pointed out, my voice flat as I crossed to the living room window and opened it. I heard my parents muffled voices behind me as they compared their thoughts on this, but I forced myself to ignore them. I hauled open the window, and the owl hopped inside, looking a little worse for wear, but otherwise A-okay. I smiled at the bird, running a finger over his soft head before untying the letters from his leg. Two letters, actually, one more than I'd been expecting. I flipped past the first one, which was expected: Miss Molly Sienna Gale, 45 West Laureate Circle, Nottingham, UK. It was the second address that through me for a loop.

Mr. Cormac Finley Gale, 45 West Laureate Circle, Nottingham, UK.

I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach, turning the letter over in my hands, hoping that, weirdly, one of my friends had just decided to send him a birthday card. I had weird friends, who were thoughtful in slightly off ways like that. But no—it had the Hogwarts Seal on it. This was the letter. My baby brother had gotten the letter.

Cormac Finley Gale was magical. Oh, crap. Poor kid. With our parents. He was magical.

"Sit down, Molly." Dad ordered, anger right under his words, even as I stared at the letter in my hands. How could I ruin his birthday like this? My eleventh birthday had been a disaster because of this. I didn't wish this on any of my siblings.

But I had to tell them. Cormac needed to know—and I was going to Diagon Alley to get my things. He'd need his own things. And aside from all that—Cormac's magic would overflow if he didn't get it trained. I'd never seen magic in him, but I knew from back when my parents had asked this for me: what if they simply chose not to cultivate my magic? I'd do more and more dangerous accidental magic. I had to tell Cormac. Dammit.

"Molly!" My mum snapped.

"Mum, there's a letter for—" I began, but my father cut me, off, his face red. I fell silent. My mother was unhappy with my abilities, uncomfortable. My father got genuinely angry when I brought them up. Dad was a smart man. He could understand anything.

Except magic.

"I don't want to read about your farce of a school, Molly—" My father said tightly. I glanced at my mother, whose expression was very carefully constructed into a mask. She was going to be of no help. I glanced at Cormac for a second before I looked back to my parents.

"This is for Cormac." I said quietly.

Absolute silence. Dad looked angry in a heartbeat, and Mum's reserved expression flashed to panic and fear for a moment before she managed to reign in her emotions again. But it was Cormac's expression that really gutted me: he looked completely petrified. And I suddenly hated my parents for instilling this in Cormac. He was just turning eleven and he never did anything wrong and yet this letter was enough to instill the fear of god in the kid.

"That letter is for… Cormac." My mother finally said quietly. I nodded once, watching her carefully: she stood perfectly still for a moment, before she sank down heavily in her seat, reaching for her water. "For the love of God, I thought we were safe once Nate was normal—" Mum muttered, and I felt a surge of hurt sweep me. Nate was normal—Cory and I, we were weird.

"Mum, stop." Nate said quietly, standing up.

"I'm sorry—" Cormac said softly.

"You didn't do anything wrong." Nate murmured, looking at our parents darkly. Nathaniel wasn't magical. And he was older than Cormac and younger than me. He had had a chance at having magic—but he didn't. And here he was defending it. He got points for that.

"Elena, Callum, go upstairs." My father said quietly as he stood up slowly. "Nate, you too."

"Dad—" Nate muttered: he resented being grouped with the little kids, especially when Cory was allowed to stay downstairs, I knew. But I also knew that Nate really shouldn't be down here when Dad began his rant—Nate hadn't done anything wrong, and I'd hate for him to get caught in the crossfire.

"Alright, c'mon you two." Nate murmured to the twins, putting a hand on Ellie's head as he led the little kids out of the room. Cal didn't look particularly happy with this turn of events, but Ellie grabbed his hand, dragging her twin out of the room after her. Nate glanced back at Dad before following them into the hallway.

Dad waited until Nate and the twins were all the way upstairs before he glanced in my general direction, his gaze on the floor. "That letter is inviting Cormac to Hogwarts?" Dad asked in a steely voice. I winced at the tone, taking a minute to answer.

"Yes." I murmured.

"And we can't have him stay, be normal?" Dad demanded, his gaze rising to meet mine, and I saw the sheer anger there. Dad was so far past angry that it scared me. "We have to send him to that school to get that joke of an education, just like we had to send you—"

"It's not a joke, Dad—" I tried to interject, scowling a little

"MAGIC ISN'T REAL, MOLLY!" Dad hollered suddenly, successfully making me jump about a foot in the air in surprise. He left the table, stalking through the archway into the living room and to me, grabbing the wrist that held Cormac's letter tightly and pulling it up. Panic coursed through me: this was new Dad behavior. He never did anything that could hurt us—Dad got angry, yes. But he never hurt his children. His face was turning rapidly red and his hand was shaking. Dad was more than pissed. He was irate.

He snatched the letter from my hand, releasing my wrist, and it dropped limply to my side: I was too surprised at this behavior to support it. Dad never did anything violent, never hurt us. He got angry and scared by magic, yes. He never hurt me.

Dad ripped the letter in half, then brought the pieces together again to rip them once more. "You. Signed. Him. Up. For. That. School." He ground out tightly.

"No." I said clearly, surprised at how clear my voice was. I was shocked at the accusation, though—Dad knew how this worked. He'd had it all explained to him when I'd been accepted to Hogwarts. He was officially losing it. "No I didn't—Dad—Cormac's got magic, some people have it, some people don't, you can't sign people up for it—"

"No, I refuse to—you had to have signed him up—" Dad was hissing this at me, spit flying, and I felt panic seize me as my fingers grasped at my wand in my pocket. Dad was flipping out and Mum wasn't interfering. I had to fix this. "You've already made this family disgraceful, Molly, and you had to drag your brother down with you?" Dad spat at me, taking a step closer, making me step back into the window sill. I winced as it dug into the back of my legs.

"I'm not dragging him down—" I managed to retort, the words leaving my mouth in a stutter, but I still sounded angry back, and that was what was important. I didn't understand how this was happening—how Cormac's birthday was happening one second and then the concept of Cormac having magic had turned my father into this frightening of a figure—but now it had spun so far out of control that all I could concentrate on was inflicting as much damage on my father as he was inflicting on me.

"How could you do this? This magic is starting to eclipse you now—you used magic in front of Elena this morning—what if she becomes a witch? I will never forgive you!" Dad was screaming, and my mother at the table behind him looked up, horrified, while Cormac looked more freaked out than I'd ever seen him. Cory and Mum didn't know much about magic, but they knew that it wasn't my fault, and further, they knew that Dad had officially crossed the final boundary here. "YOU WILL NOT MAKE THIS FAMILY MORE GODDAMNED SCREWY, MOLLY—IF ELENA OR CAL ARE MAGICAL, YOU WILL REGRET IT—"

"If she's a witch, then she'll get a letter on her eleventh birthday." I said icily, my eyes narrowing on my father: he was threatening me. I may not have liked arguing with people, but when I felt really and truly threatened, I was a force to be reckoned with. "This isn't a disease, it isn't contagious—" I cut myself off. "And I would never endanger Cal, Ellie, Cory or Nate. You know that. If I thought for a second I'd hurt them, you know I'd—"

"I know no such thing!" Dad refuted.

"You're acting like a child—"

"Don't you dare talk down to me," Dad hissed, shoving me back against the window.

"Don't touch me—" I ordered, shocked that it had even come to that.

"GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!" Dad shouted at me, shoving me against the wall again. I blinked at Dad. "GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!" I felt tears begin in my eyes. "YOU WILL NOT ENDANGER MY CHILDREN AGAIN!" My tears were beginning to make my eyes burn but I just glared at him.

"You're actually kicking me out?" I asked after a second, my voice surprisingly flat. I didn't care anymore about staying close to him, to my mother. Dad may have been the one reaming me out but it wasn't like my mother was saying anything. What kind of parenting was this? "You're actually kicking out your fifteen-year-old—"

"She can come back for Christmas, can't she—" Mum tried softly.

"Absolutely not." Dad said, throwing Mum a withering look, and she seemed to shrink. "Cormac may return provided that he under no circumstances talks about magic or performs it around Cal or Ellie." He looked back at me. "She already broke that trust." He glared. "Now go, get out of my house—"

"I can't believe this is happening." I said quietly, too stunned to do anything else. I blinked up at my father, my Daddy who had stopped paying attention to reality, here, and was kicking me out of the house. And my little brother was as magical as I was.

I straightened up dully, moving in a kind of stunned silence towards the hallway of the dining room. My mum's eyes were filled with tears but she wasn't doing anything. Cormac was looking kind of panicky, his glance rocketing between my father and me. I just passed them, leaving the dining room for the hallway, then the foyer, and I walked upstairs. I started into my room, and the door to Nate and Cormac's room opened, and Nate followed me into my bedroom. I threw open my trunk and began to put my things in it kind of mechanically, Nate's gaze following me, his face filled with confusion.

"You're leaving?" He asked quietly.

"I'm getting kicked out." I corrected in a deadened voice, glancing up at him with red-rimmed eyes. Nate blinked at me. "Dad just kicked me out. I am no longer welcome here." I opened one of my drawers, lifting my neatly folded clothes and putting them in my trunk. I was the only one in the house who had their own room—a consequence of becoming magical. My dad didn't want me passing on my magic to Nate, who I'd shared a room with till I was eleven. So he isolated me. And when Nate's eleventh birthday came and went without incident, Dad thought the Gale family was safe from more freaks like me.

"Dad kicked you out?" Nate demanded, his voice rising.

"I know, okay?" I said, glancing tearfully up at Nate, dumping the last of my shirts into the trunk. I tore open my pants drawer, dumping things more messily, now, into the trunk, and I finished that faster. I dumped my other drawers into the trunk, before moving to my closet.

"Dad kicked you out." Nate echoed. He paused. "Where are you going to go?"

"I'm going to go to Diagon Alley to buy my school supplies and I don't have to worry about my housing situation until next June." I said quietly.

"Christmas break?" Nate demanded skeptically, and I glanced at him briefly, trying to tell what he was thinking, before I resumed taking my school robes down from my closet and throwing them into the rapidly-filling trunk. "Spring break? You'll spend them at school?"

"I'm allowed to at the very least." I said quietly. There was a beat.

"Cormac?" Nate asked after a beat.

"Is allowed back." I said softly, trying to make the lump in my throat that was making it hard to talk less obvious. Nate fell silent, seemingly as confused and horrified as I was by this turn of events, but there was nothing he could do either. "You'll look out for Cory around Mum and Dad, right? I know he's magical but if I'm not here to run interference during the holidays…" I began, turning back to Nate.

"Fuck." Nate murmured. "Fuck, shit—shit, Dad can't kick his kid out." Nate was pissed off. I was pissed off, Dad was having some kind of break from reality—I was too tired to handle this.

"He did." I said firmly. "But you're going to—"

"I'll talk him into letting you back for holidays." Nate said firmly. "You only make him be your parent like three months of the year—I think he can suck it up to deal with whatever the hell your magic is—"

"He obviously can't." I said as I threw the last of my robes into the trunk, tears burning in my eyes as I turned to face my little brother. "He can't suck it up and I can't let him not suck it up, Nate—so I'm going to go to—" My voice broke. "I'm going back to school and Cory's coming with me and he'll be back and I won't."

I turned my back on Nate and shut my trunk firmly, locking it tightly. I pulled my wand from my pocket and tapped the top of trunk, making sure it was locked tight. I didn't care, at this point, about the Underage Wizardry Laws: I'd been trying to avoid breaking them by packing my own trunk, but I had to get out of here.

I pushed past Nate to leave my room, running across the hall to where Nate and Cory slept, and I pulled a trunk they used for trips from their closet, flipping it open. Cory ran upstairs, slipping into the room, as Nate managed to follow me across the hall. I pointed my wand at the empty trunk. "Pack."

Cormac's things flew in the air, whirling into a tornado that funneled into the trunk, filling it neatly. His drawers snapped open and his clothes leapt from their spots to the trunk, while other things he'd wand—even the posters on the wall, swirled into the trunk. In seconds, Cory's things were gone, leaving only his bedding and the things my spell had deemed unnecessary around the room. Nate's side was spotless. The trunk snapped shut and clicked. Done.

"If I get Dad to agree to have you back for Christmas, will you come?" Nate asked after the lock had clicked, and I glanced back at him, shocked by the question.

"Dad won't let me ever—"

"But if I convince him—" Nate said haltingly, looking horrified. It occurred to me what was really happening here: Nate was terrified that this was the end. That I'd never see him again. I was written all over his face and the uncomfortable way he'd crossed his arms and hunched his shoulders, as if trying to stay under my radar. I was terrified of that too, to be frank.

But I was the big sister & he was the little brother and big sisters had to take care of their little brothers. Especially when their parents had evidently forgotten how to take care of their children.

"Natey, I'll be back eventually." I said after a second, lying through my teeth. Dad was never letting me back into this house; my father wasn't the kind to ever go back on a decision, for fear of looking weak. But I had nothing else to offer Nate but a lie, and I had to give him something. Giving him nothing was worse than giving him lies to hold out hope, right?

Right?

"I just need Dad to cool down first, maybe get more used to Cory being a wizard. Once he gets a few letters from Cory, and Mum gets antsy at having Cory & me at a school full of people she's never met and taught by people she's never met, they'll calm down." Lies, lies, lies. But they were comforting Nate and that was most important.

Nate nodded after a second, and I sighed, grabbing one end of Cory's trunk and beginning to drag it into the hall. Nathaniel grabbed the other end, carrying it more easily as he was already an inch taller than me—the jerk was taller than me already, and his growth spurt hadn't even properly started up yet. He helped me get it into the hallway, and into my bedroom and we put it down heavily; Nate looked up at me miserably. I swallowed, before I climped up on top of the trunk and jumped off the other side, before I hugged Nate tightly, tears jumping to my eyes again. My brother hugged me back, seemingly dropping his façade for a brief moment, before Cormac stepped into the doorway, looking kind of shell-shocked. I sighed, releasing Nate. "Take care of yourself, alright? And Cal and Ellie—tell them I'm sorry I couldn't say goodbye but I don't want to stay too much longer." I told him a little tearfully, and Nate just looked away: I saw the resentment on his face. He was mad. "I love you, Natey, okay? I'll send Christmas presents if I don't get to come home." Nathaniel just stepped back, and I felt a pain in the pit of my stomach.

"You're really leaving…?" Cory asked softly, coming forward. I nodded, swiping at my now-streaming eyes. "Am I going with you?" He asked me. I stopped. I hadn't asked Cory if he wanted to come to Hogwarts. I'd assumed he wanted out of this house where our father hated our magic.

But Cory had to come.

"People with magic need training, Cory." I murmured. "Or else your magic will just grow without constraints, you'll never learn to use it. And it'll hurt you and the people around you." I swallowed. I was telling the truth—it would hurt Cory, in the end, if no one trained his magic. But if he was about to stand here and tell me he didn't want to go, I couldn't make him go. I wasn't that strong anymore.

"If he doesn't want to go, he doesn't have to." Nate said angrily. Cory's frightened gaze flicked to Nate.

"Accidental magic happens, Nate, and it hurts people." I said quietly. "My friend's dad blew up his aunt when he was thirteen. Accidentally." I hesitated, before continuing. "And I'm not comfortable leaving him here with Mum & Dad." I saw Nate's expression flick from confused to concern to anger in a heartbeat.

"You think I couldn't protect him?" Nate demanded, his voice getting louder as he scowled at me.

"You shouldn't have to." I murmured. Nate sagged at these words, and I beckoned Cory forward. I swiped at my eyes as Cory stepped up beside me, looking at Nate with big, sad eyes. "Love you, Nate." I said softly. Nate just nodded to Cory and me, and I tapped my trunk and then Cory's with my wand. I was going to be in so much trouble when the Ministry finally caught up with me, but I didn't care.

I heard footsteps coming up the stairs, heavier ones. Dad. "Better not still be here," I heard half a sentence in the hallway, and I felt panic surge in me. I had to get Cory out. I motioned to Nate to hide in the closet—it'd look weird if he were in my room—and since I was in trouble anyway, I decided to push it to the last extent of the law: I grabbed Cory and hugged him to me, muttered a spell to banish the trunks to the Leakey Cauldron, and then I closed my eyes and disapparated.

We spun in circles for a moment, a dizzying mess of colors around us making Cory gasp and turn his face into my arm: I clung to him tightly. And then we landed with a jolt, across the street from the Leakey Cauldron's entrance in muggle London. Cory stumbled away from me as I tried to keep my footing. But relief still filled me. We were out of the house, we were safe, and Dad had no problems with his "normal" kids. Everyone was okay. I felt tears start in my eyes anyway, though, even as I thought of Dad and Mum and Nate and Cal and Ellie. I hadn't gotten to say goodbye to Cal or Ellie. They were going to hate me.

Cory seemed to have caught his breath, so I put a hand on his shoulder and steered him across the empty street, into the Leakey Cauldron. We stumbled inside and looked around: the place wasn't exactly busy but there were a handful of witches and wizards around. The fact that I was here, though, comforted me: back in magicland. I trusted this world, more than I trusted the muggle one, because I had friends here, and most importantly, no one here thought Cory and I were freaks.

After a second, I saw Albus Potter, his brother, and his brother's girlfriend sitting at a back table. Al was my best friend's cousin—and we were friendly enough, I supposed. He was on the Quidditch team, and every girl in our school had a crush on him—he was the sweetest boy in the entire school. It would have been his older brother James who was the big deal, but James was kind of withdrawn. Reserved. In fact, his only discernable friends were his roommates and Serafina Finnigan, who was almost as big a deal as the Potter kids themselves.

"Molly?" Albus asked, frowning at me across the room. I looked at him tiredly, before my eyes burned with renewed tears. I pressed two galleons and two sickles into his hand, directing him to Tom, the bartender.

"Get a room and get me a butterbeer, okay? Get a hot chocolate for yourself if you want, too…I have to go talk to my friends for a second," I game Cory a light shove in the direction of the bar, before I walked over to Albus, pushing some of my hair out of my face as a few tears escaped down my cheeks.

"What's wrong?" Albus asked softly, standing up as I approached. I swallowed, swiping at my face for a second before I stopped in front of the table James, Serafina, and Al were sitting at. "Molly—c'mon, you're scaring me." Albus said worriedly, and I looked back at Cormac for a second before I looked at Albus again, my tears thickening. "Tell me what's going on." James and Sera were watching me worriedly as well, James's gaze flicking from me to his brother and back to me.

"Um, my little brother—he got his Hogwarts letter today." I stopped, tears making my voice thick. "It's his birthday. And my dad flipped out—I'm muggleborn, y'know—and he hates magic…" I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath and I reached up to wipe at my face; Al's hand shot out, grabbing my hand extending my arm gently. My wrist had finger marks around it.

"What the fuck is this?" Albus asked, sounding uncharacteristically angry. I turned my face away from Albus, and his voice got softer as he continued. "Molly…"

"My dad kicked me out."