"Why don't we go to the pub for a drink?"

I frowned and glanced sideways at her. "My mother is here somewhere. And I'm not old enough to get a Firewhisky-"

"Oh shut up, Lestrade told me what you were doing last year, on that 'boys weekend'," Amelia laughed. I could feel my cheeks heating up and my ears going red.

"It wasn't me who put that dress on him, it was Lewis, I swear," I protested, folding my arms in a pointless attempt to look more intimidating.

We were supposed to be buying our new school supplies for the coming year; I needed new robes and Amelia needed a new owl. As usual she and I had left it until the last week before our fourth year started, and Diagon Alley was packed. I wasn't much looking forward to fourth year; it was just more of the same stuff, and while Duelling Classes would keep me going until Christmas, teachers had warned us about the overload of work that was to come.

On a delightfully elegant stand in front of my nose sat an equally elegant broomstick; perfectly poised and polished inky black wood gleaming under the lights above it. Unfortunately there was a pane of glass between me and it. Don't even look at the price, you know you can't afford it.

"You're a Chaser, John, you don't need a fast one like that," Amelia said firmly, noticing my vacant stare.

I shrugged sheepishly. "Yeah, well, I could be the fastest Chaser on there, Ravenclaw wouldn't stand a chance."

Other students started to complain loudly behind us about how we were hogging the window space so I nudged Amelia and squeezed out of the crowd. A buttery, sugary but not overly sweet smell was wafting down the busy street from the Ice Cream Parlour, and I instinctively fished around in my pockets for spare change.

Amelia, however, had other ideas, and noticed that I wasn't moving in any particular direction. "Let's find Harry," she suggested, taking me by the arm and not waiting for a reply.

I groaned as she led me through the mass of black and grey wizards and witches in the centre of the alley. While Amelia was a very good friend, the best friend I've ever had, she dragged me places a lot. What's the word? Forceful.

"Why?" I grumbled, as people prodded and pushed from every side. "I don't need to talk to her or anything, I'll see her later-"

"She said she had something for you," she replied with a smirk over her shoulder.

"Like what? What is so important that she couldn't give me it later?" I raised my voice above the chatter of students as we made our way down the street to Ollivander's.

Amelia shrugged but didn't turn around, increasing her pace. "I think she wants me to be there."

Ollivander's was empty, as all the first years had already bought their wands. My sister, Harry, had left Hogwarts three years ago and after a gap year she never really talks about, got a job at Ollivander's.

I was rather nervous because my sister is not the type to involve other people in her evil doings.

"John, what took you so long?" the woman behind the desk tutted as we entered the shop. My sister has always been taller than me, which has irked me to no end. Her dark golden hair was thicker than mine and her emerald eyes were brighter than mine. She had always been better at magic than me.

Not that I was comparing myself to a girl. Especially my sister.

I inched up to the desk nervously. The familiar smell of old, musty books was in the air, but this time it didn't help me relax. "You had something? For me?"

Harry grinned and winked at Amelia before disappearing into the back of the shop, behind the towering shelves of wand boxes.

We stood in silence, Amelia occasionally glancing at me and trying to contain her laughter. Finally my sister arrived back, carrying a large, light brown cardboard box in her arms.

I swallowed.

"What's that," I asked hoarsely as she placed it carefully on the counter.

Amelia almost couldn't contain her excitement. "Well, because you haven't got an owl-"

"You didn't," my mouth opened. Harry, still grinning, gestured for me to open the box. I fumbled with the cardboard but managed to lift the lid-

A sleek ebony black cat leapt out and straight into my arms, the shock nearly knocking me backwards. It nudged my shoulder and tried to curl up against my chest; my heartbeat still racing, a shaky giggle forced its way out then became a proper laugh.

"Is it a he?" I grinned, the cat still bouncing around my shoulders as I tried to keep it in my arms.

Harry and Amelia shook their heads at the same time, clearly gleeful that I was pleased. "She," Harry answered happily. "We thought you should name her."

It, or she, had finally settled down as I cradled her; she had clearly been excited to be out of her box. I looked at her carefully; she seemed like a young cat, less than a year old. She was thin, too, but not unnaturally so, more streamlined than bony. Her gleaming midnight fur was neatly groomed and her huge ocean blue eyes stared up at me.


I'm awful at names.

I thought instantly of the Quasar broomstick that had captured my attention in the window of the Quiddich supplies shop earlier. Her eyes captured me in the same way that I could almost not look away.

"Orion," I grinned. She started to purr in my arms. I think she likes it too.