Testing Fragile Foundations

- AlwaysPadfoot -


Disclaimer: Not mine; sad times.

Written For: Original Character Competition

Beta: Cookies-and-Ink


Chapter 1 – FROGs, FERRETs and Fifth Year

If there was one thing in life I hate more than anything in the world it was side-along apparition. Right now the sensation of my whole body being stuffed through a small thin tube was making me feel nauseous. The side-along bit of apparition made the whole thing worse because I was perfectly capable of apparating alone. Across the pond it was taught to fourth years and above as long as the student was fifteen by the Christmas Break.

Having an early birthday had its merits.

The British Ministry however were currently debating whether my Apparition Licence was transferable or not and clearly having an all-powerful aunt in the ministry was not working for me. Aunt Amelia had said that the Minister was really trying to limit what the children of the country were learning because he was scared of an uprising against him. I took this to mean the man was probably just as afraid of his own shadow as he is of an up-rising.

I didn't really know much about Aunt Amelia except for her respectable position as Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement but it seemed as though she didn't really want me around. Of the two weeks I'd been here I only saw her at breakfast and dinner which were served by the Bones' House-Elf, Lemming, both meals always quiet and boring. We did speak to each other but despite our civilities I could tell neither she or I were comfortable with the living arrangements.

It was odd because Mum had always said that she, her sister (Aunt Amelia) and her two brothers (Edgar and Thomas) had always got on well even after they had all left home. I was unsure whether my Aunt was acting very distant because that was the way she was or whether it was because people she was close to died. My Uncle Edgar and his family were wiped out in war, as was my father Michael Collins hence why Mum and I left the country. I expected losing Mum may have played a hand in Amelia Bones hard exterior but if my Aunt wasn't going make an effort neither was I. We'd had a long enough conversation to establish that she'd signed me up to the school that she, my mum, and my uncles had attended, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Kind of a mouthful really. Aunt Amelia had informed me that my cousin Susan also attended Hogwarts and was in the same year I would be entering.

I suddenly found myself stood outside the tall iron gates of Hogwarts with my Aunt and trunk at my side. I had to catch my breath as Amelia stepped forward with her wand raised to pass us through the wards of Hogwarts.

'We should have flooed,' I thought bitterly 'It most definitely would have been more pleasant.'

We had arrived four hours before the other students because the Deputy Headmistress required my presence in order to test whether I was entering the correct year. Silly in my opinion considering all they needed to do was take a look at my results from Salem's but none-the-less I was here ready for whatever was thrown at me, in regards to testing anyway.

Aunt Amelia said her goodbyes to Professor McGonagall referring to her as Minerva before wishing me a good term and disappearing. McGonagall gave me a small tour of the castle explaining that there was indeed much more of it but that would be for me to discover in my own time before she took me to the seventh floor where her office and classroom was. I almost sighed in relief when I noticed that her classroom was set up to practice magic instead of writing about the theory of it. I passed through her challenges relatively easily although Transfiguration was by far the easiest. At Salem's I'd chosen to do advanced Transfiguration and Healing as my electives towards my First Realm of Grades, aka FROGs but I'd been lead to understand that Hogwarts didn't offer these electives.

"Miss Collins may we have a quick chat about your electives," Professor McGonagall asked as we sat with two cups of tea and a small platter of biscuits between us.

"I don't want to drop—" I began but she holds her hand up to stop me.

"It is not the Headmasters wishes to prevent you taking the electives you have already begun to study for, so we have adapted in order to help you continue with your FROGs although the exams you will now sit will be the British syllabus, Ordinary Wizarding Levels or OWLs as they at more commonly known instead." I sat and listened intently to the Deputy's explanation. She explained that I would be joining her for my Advanced Transfiguration classes and working with the School Nurse to complete my Healing course which made me smile because I didn't really have any intention of dropping two of my favourite classes.

"Thank you Professor." I said finishing off my tea and one last biscuit "I really appreciate that you were able to allow me to continue my FROG classes as OWLs." I'd already been made aware that here in Britain they didn't do FERRETs (Furiously Engrossing Ridiculously Recorded Extreme Tests), no, instead they had NEWTs. Nasty something-or-others, I can't remember what it stands for anymore.

"Just a few more things Miss Collins, first of all has your Aunt signed the Hogsmeade form we sent to you." McGonagall asked taking a sip from her teacup. I nodded and pulled out my folded over form for Hogsmeade. I may admit I wasn't sure where this Village was and what it had in it but it would be good to get out. Hopefully it had a post office so I could send some international owls back to my friends at Salem.

I really missed my year mates already, particularly Lydia, Kyle and Sam all of whom probably had no clue as to why I didn't turn up for fifth year on the twentieth. Never mind none of them having a clue what had happened when their Owls returned with an unopened letter.

"Professor?" I asked her as she vanished my form with a flick of her wand.

"Yes?"

"Is there a post office in the village?" She looked at me oddly. "It's just my friends don't have a clue where I am and what's happened." Professor McGonagall's face softened somewhat and she conjured some sort of form with her wand.

"This is a form for the Post Office in Hogsmeade Village, feel free to use the classroom to compose your letters and then I'll show you the owlery to send them to the post office with the charge they require."

I thanked her, taking the form and borrowing some parchment and a quill from her. Before she left for her office to give me some privacy she told me we would have to go to the hall soon so I could be sorted into a house. Taking a minute to breathe and glad I was alone I sat in her classroom to write my letters.

Lydia,

First of all I'm alive and I'm so sorry I didn't write to you guys sooner. Things have been hard.

Mum's dead, I don't know what happened but next thing I knew she was gone. It's only really just hit that she's not coming back and I really wish you guys were here. I'm going to stop writing because otherwise I might get the paper soggy.

I took a moment to compose myself before carrying on.

The State Ministry packed me off with all my stuff to the main Ministry in DC and they sent me back to the UK to live with my Aunt. I can tell already that Aunt Amelia doesn't want me around, she lives alone and works from eight to seven, it's ridiculous.

Anyway if you haven't guessed by now, I've been transferred from Salem, I'm not coming back and I have no idea if I'm ever coming back. I'm now at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school that my whole family has attended since forever ago. You get sorted into a house here, I mean how weird is that, plus I bet I'm getting sorted with all the first years.

Look I'll find a way to come see you guys but then again Aunt Amelia's house is HUGE perhaps I can hide you guys in it. Anyway this is my Aunt's address:

HARROT HOUSE
Harrington
Kent
England

I don't know whether I'll only be there for summer yet but I'll let you know closer to Christmas. For now just send letters to Hogwarts.

I'll send you loads of letters and pictures of any hot lads but I'll try not to complain as much.

You'll have to send me the goss.

Khloe

I wrote similar letters to Kyle and Sam yet with the promise of pictures of girls for Sam - somehow I think Kyle would prefer the guy pictures. I would miss Sam and my bonding over Quadpot and Quidditch but I was sure he would miss me more because neither Lydia or Kyle were big sports fans.

I'd brought my broom to Hogwarts and hopefully I could pinch a spot on the Quadpot team here or I guess I could settle for a spot on the Quidditch team. I loved both but Quadpot was a bit more explosive. Laughing at my own joke I put my letters into the envelops and filling out the form Professor McGonagall had given to me. Perhaps I should ask her about sport when we go and send these letters off. I let McGonagall know that I was ready to owl my letters and we headed off though the castle in the direction of the owlery.

"Professor, is there any spaces on your Quadpot teams?" I asked as we walked along the castle walls towards the owlery.

"I'm afraid Quadpot is a American dominated sport, we only play Quidditch here," she explained and my face must have dropped because she spoke quickly again, "but there's spaces on every Quidditch team this year."

"Really?!" I perked up immediately at that because at least I was in with a chance with finding a sport to focus on rather than having to actually spend time with all these Brits. Maybe if I'm miserable Aunt Amelia will let me go back to America.

"Yes I believe there's one opening on the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor team, three on the Hufflepuff." her eyes flickered with an obvious flash of emotion, "and there's two on the Slytherin team."

What weird house names. I couldn't help but think about which one I was going to be placed in. Did each house have certain morals or was it all purely random? The house names rang a bell, I vaguely remember my mother explaining that most of the Bones family were either Gryffindor's or in Hufflepuff so did that mean there was a genetic tie to which house you were placed in? Although if you were a muggleborn you have no other family so then what did house placement go off?

We sent my letters to the post office with a school owl before Professor McGonagall and began our journey to the great hall. My mind drifted back to the possibility of getting on the Quidditch team but just as I started planning it out in my head I caught sight if myself in a mirror on what I think was the second floor.

Despite losing weight after Mum had died I was still fatter than average. I grimaced, I'd never noticed before just how much weight I was carrying compared to most girls. Okay so it wasn't a lot but still noticeable. I guess I'd never really thought about it because I'd always been physically fit and I'd got onto the Quadpot and Quidditch team because I'd played before I attended Salem and people knew I was a good addition to the team.

This was different though, no one knew me here or whether I was any good. They could look at me and rule me out because I didn't look athletic enough to be on the team. I hadn't done any training for weeks before I'd say I had a fairly could excuse but that probably wouldn't matter, if a kid turned up to try-outs and outperformed me then there was no point even bothering to go an try-out myself. Being short was certainly not helping my fat issue and as it was unlikely I would grow any taller so to become more proportionate I think it was high time I started getting rid of the extra fat.

It was safe to say I was in a bad mood when McGonagall left me in a room off the Great Hall whilst she fetched the first years and what was even worse was the fact I was about to be sorted in front of the whole school. Why the hell hadn't I asked to be sorted separately? Anxiously I paced until McGonagall returned with about forty first years flooding in behind her. A lot of them exchanged glances and a few of them caught my eye nervously. I tried to look really relaxed but inside I was barely holding it together.

Mum was a Hufflepuff, is that where she'd want me to be? What if by being in a different house I disgraced her? What about my father? I can't even remember what house he was in —

I felt disgusted that I couldn't even remember what house my father had been in after all he did for Mum and I. He saved us both and I couldn't even honour his memory by knowing what house he was in.

"Welcome to Hogwarts." said Professor McGonagall. Panicking was not going to help me right now. I clasped my hands behind me to stop myself from shaking before forcing myself to listen to the Professor.

"The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room."

I had an odd feeling she uses this speech every year and I really wish it was either so long we'd miss the sorting or almost over so we could get this over and done with.

"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honour. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours."

'C'mon Professor.' I thought frantically, 'Hurry it up.'

"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting."

I peered down at the other first years who immediately started fiddling with their hair and robes yet I felt like I was frozen in place. The whole school would be watching this. Up ahead I could hear the dull humming of thousands of voices all talking at once. Probably about how awesome their summers were or how radical the latest broom is.

Lucky them.

"We are ready for you now." McGonagall returned to collect us and before I knew it I was out in the great hall. Hundreds of eyes fell to the group and me, the over-sized first year who was actually a transfer student. I avoided most people's gazes, the last thing I want is that awkward moment where you meet someone's eyes and it's more than a split second. The group came to a halt in front of an old black hat and to my utmost surprise the seam split open and the hat broke into song. Although it was only really the final bit that caught my attention:

And now the Sorting Hat is here
and you all know the score:
I sort you into Houses
because that is what I'm for.
But this year I'll go further,
listen closely to my song:
though condemned I am to split you
still I worry that it's wrong,
though I must fulfill my duty
and must quarter every year
still I wonder whether sorting
may not bring the end I fear.
Oh, know the perils, read the signs,
the warning history shows,
for our Hogwarts is in danger
from external, deadly foes
and we must unite inside her
or we'll crumble from within
I have told you, I have warned you...
let the Sorting now begin.

Well, I really don't want to be the new kid now. Hogwarts is in danger from external, deadly foes? Why wasn't I pre-warned? That hat certainly makes a point about houses though, I expected rivalry but if it was really that bad why did they have houses? We didn't at Salem and houses most definitely did not dictate our friendships.

"Welcome students! Let the sorting of our new first years and new transfer student begin." It was the headmaster who spoke and I blushed at his particular attention to me. In fact I was so sure that the old man winked at me from his chair in the centre of the staff table that I was somewhat creeped out.

Professor McGonagall cleared her throat, "Abercrombie, Euan." a terrified boy stumbled forward and was soon sorted into Gryffindor. I barely remembered what the hat had said about houses, oh damn, what was it? Which house was the intelligence tied to: Slytherin or Ravenclaw?

A short red-headed girl was called next and soon sorted into Ravenclaw but I hardly noticed. I was too nervous waiting like this.

"Collins, Khloe."