I don't know. Honestly guys, I think I've gone too far on this one. Someone take away my keyboard, please.
For this story, I owe most if not all credit to my soulmate, the beautiful Star-crossed92. Without her, I would never have got past struggling to sort Jesse into a house, never mind actually working out how to write this. I don't know how to express my gratitude and love for you effectively, so I'll let Mr Darcy do it for me:"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." (she said I had to write her a love letter guys. I know this looks creepy but... No, I have no excuse. I love you Hannagh).
Also, for theasbofive, as a wish of good luck and a thank you for putting her revision on hold to help me.
A MAGIC FAR BEYOND
They first cross paths on September 1st.
Jesse Swanson is eleven years old, enjoys riding his bike on the road his house presides, and has a secret love for making model airplanes. His favourite food is mac and cheese, with those chocolate desserts his mum buys as afters, and he really likes apple juice after a day at school or a particularly long session on his bike. His favourite colour is blue and he tries to be wearing something blue every day, even if its just a simple stripe on one of his mismatching socks.
Oh, and he's a wizard.
Before, he'd only experienced the magic in fairytales and animated movies. A boy his age rarely receives adult visitors, and his mother had frowned at the rather odd looking man on the doorstep with a long brown robe that ended at his ankles, socks and sandals sticking out from the hem. The man had spotted him peaking around his mum in confusion, given him a giant grin, and exclaimed, "Ah! There he is! Little Jesse, I have some amazing news for you!"
Upon the reveal of Hogwarts and magic and a thing called animagi (when the professor left, he told Jesse to "watch this!" before he turned into a fox and scampered away) his mother had fainted right there on the hallway carpet.
He, however, finally felt right for the first time in his life.
On platform nine and three-quarters, Jesse looks up and down excitedly, admiring the wide range of people packed in the long, narrow space. A girl with a miserable pout and blonde angel curls falling over a green-accented robe stares up at her disinterested father longingly, and a girl with bright red hair to match her tie hovers nearby, glancing anxiously between the train and her friend. Beside the blonde, a boy who is no doubt her twin kicks at some stones. His robe is different to his sister's in that it is red, and their father scolds at him harshly. A boy comes crashing past them with an owl in hand and dress robes billowing behind him, his hat wonky and his cloak dragging along the floor.
His mother shuffles through the throng of people towards the closest door on the train, terrified and unfamiliar. Jesse scoots close enough to take her hand in an act of comfort, careful to make sure no one else can see.
"Be good, won't you?" she pleads just before he steps on board, holding him close to her a hug that is about to crush his bones any second. "I don't want to hear any nonsense about you misbehaving."
"I won't," he half-promises. Well, it's not like he knows for a fact that he'll stay out of trouble.
Pulling him away from her, his mum gives him a nervous smile, a fear in his eyes he knows he can't understand. "You'll write me won't you? With that owl of yours?"
Jesse hugs her again; he'll miss her, and she hopes she knows this.
The train journey is long and arduous, but brightened by the presence of the boy from the platform. His name is Benji, and he takes great pleasure in explaining all he can about the hidden world of magic. Jesse gets lost in a world of possibilities and real-life magic tricks, in stories of great battles and larger struggles. He can't believe that the world he belongs to has been kept away from him for so long, hiding in the shadows of a muggle world.
Benji leads him towards a boat they are supposed to take across some kind of large lake. "…and apparently, there are parts that haven't been rebuilt yet," Benji informs him in excitement, Jesse nodding as he looks around again at his new classmates. He smiles – all of these people are just like him.
It is in that moment that he sees her.
She's standing next to the man who had informed him of the magical world, arms crossed and glare active, waiting to be let on to the boat beside him. In her arms, a tabby cat purrs. It is night time, with only lanterns to light the area, so he can't make much of her out other than her dark wavy hair and narrow lips. The man puts his hand on her shoulder, guiding her forwards, but she shrugs him off, stepping out of reach. Jesse watches her in fascination as the warm light hits her pale skin.
"So, my dears," the old man at the front of their boat calls, bringing his attention back, "Which of you lot knows the Hogwarts song?"
Around him, many of the children begin to sing. "Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, teach us something please…"
Jesse glances back to her boat, and as she rolls her eyes at (who he presumes is) her father's enthusiastic singing, her gaze settles on him. Grinning, he lifts a hand to wave, but all the girl does is watch him in bemusement, before turning back to look at the looming castle in the distance.
Jesse chooses Divination for the reason everyone else does; it's an easy pass. He has no interest in seeing the future; actually, he prefers not to. The future is a mystery, and he likes that about it; you never know what's going to happen. Still, in order to have a decent one, he needs good grades, so he shuffles up the North Tower early that morning to sit through what is probably going to be the most boring hour of his timetable for the year.
"Ah, Mr Swanson I presume." A lady with glasses that make her eyes three times their intended size stares up at him from the front of the class, as does the rest of the students sitting around small round tables. "Please, hurry to your seat. Of course, I knew you were going to be late…"
He looks around the room for an available chair in the surprisingly full classroom (obviously he had not been the only one with the idea of an easy pass) but all of his few friends that chose the same as he are already paired up. The only space he spots is right in the back, with – He grins as he walks along and up the rows, and she rolls her eyes when she sees where he is heading, reluctantly pulling her bag off his chair and placing it under the table.
"I was wondering when we were going to end up sitting together," he whispers to whom he now knows is Beca Mitchell, daughter of the History of Magic professor (he's also the new Head of Slytherin, which he thinks is why Beca looks particularly cheesed off in recent months). Her hair is straight around her face, shielding his view somewhat, and there's a fraying hole in the elbow of her robe.
The girl in question keeps her gaze on Professor Trelawney. "I was hoping the opposite." Beca presses her lips together before glancing over, nodding towards the tea cup in front of him. "You better drink that quickly."
"Today, my children," Trelawney calls with a dramatic flair from the front, dragging his attention away with a simple smirk (which turns sour when the supposed tea hits his tongue). "We shall be studying tessomancy! The art of reading tea leaves!"
After some further, overly dramatic instructions, Jesse leans over the table to take Beca's empty cup, handing his over when she shows little interest in participating. She's grown prettier since he first saw her in the boats two years ago; her appearance is more mature, to the point that she could pass as a fifth year rather than a third. Her hands have a natural elegance that reminds him of his piano-playing mother, but her nails are ragged and bitten. Some things haven't changed; she still has that air about her, the one that makes him think of fire. Get too close, and you'll get burned.
(Pity for her, really. He's always had a bit of a fascination with fire.)
"So, Beca Mitchell." Her face twitches at her full name but quickly recovers, her focus on the open book in front of her. "How are you enjoying Hogwarts?"
Beca glares into his cup. "Just fine."
He leans across the table in interest. "Has anyone ever told you that you're too grumpy?"
"I'm not grumpy." Beca's finger runs down a page, her scowl deepening with every second that he continues looking at her.
"I think it's because you're trying to be intimidating," he continues, his tone light, "But you should know that it doesn't work on everyone."
Beca hums, shaking her head thoughtfully. "I think I see something here…"
"I see…" Beca pauses, twisting the cup around in her hand. "Yep, I see you, getting punched in the arm." And she leans across the table, delivering a good hit just below the shoulder. "Oh, would you look at that; this stuff really works!"
Not one to be beaten (metaphorically or physically), Jesse tosses her cup into the air and catches it, glancing into the cup. "You know, I think I see something too!" Jesse snatches her book away since he hasn't gotten his out, flicking through a few pages before pointing with a flamboyant gasp at a random passage. "Yes, there it is! I see you and me, surrounded by our children." Jesse looks back up at her sour face, giving her his best grin. "Set in stone, I'm afraid. It's inevitable."
Beca scoffs. "Oh really."
"Yup." Jesse holds the cup closer to his face. "We're married, and we have all of these little magical children rushing around on toy broomsticks –"
Something tips, and a hot, wet feeling spreads across his thighs. Jesse jumps back in disbelief, Beca's amused smirk resting on the heel of her hand, her elbow alarmingly close to the tea pot no longer standing upright. Her eyes go wide with innocence when people begin to turn around. "Oopsie."
Jesse uses the corner of the tablecloth as a towel to try and dry himself out. He remains amused, nodding at the people who are staring. Trelawney remains unaware, her voice echoing around from the other side of the room. "By all means, carry on," Jesse insists, "This'll be a great story to tell the grandkids."
Beca's smirk falls, her eyes full of malice, and she leans back in her seat, arms crossed over her green and black robes. "Your ego is unfathomable," she mutters.
Jesse just smiles wider.
Jesse's interest in Beca is (despite his friend's observations) not at all verging on obsessive.
For instance, he only knows about her circle of friends and who they are (despite how reluctant she seems to actually call them friends) because he always seems to bump into her around the castle. There's Amy, a fellow Slytherin from Australia who shares a dorm with Beca. She's plump and blonde and has a mouth that seems to run away from her; some say that she's close to breaking the record for Most Points Lost in Hogwart's history, and she's only a fellow fourth year.
There's also two girls from Ravenclaw, both with dark hair, but one is tall while the one looks like she's been shrunk in the wash. The taller of the two, Stacie, has a Siamese cat that follows her around everywhere, including classes more often than not. Jesse thinks it is how Beca met her; her own tabby cat, Matilda, often appears to be considered more of a friend than any human in the area. Cynthia Rose, an American in Gryffindor, is often hanging around them too when she's not tucked into hidden corners placing bets with chocolate frogs and Canary Creams.
Sometimes, he even sees her walking with Chloe Beale and Aubrey Posen from seventh year. Aubrey is already well enough known for her family's 'scandal'; her twin brother, Luke, had been sorted into Gryffindor rather than the traditional Slytherin of the pure-blooded Posen's. The pair are unusual in that they were best friends from opposing houses – despite the insistence for the three houses to stop isolating Slytherin after the defeat of Voldemort and the reopening of Hogwarts, a fierce competitive divide remains between the red and green houses.
The two, however, are rarely seen apart; in fact, Jesse has only seen Chloe without Aubrey when he finds her in the owlery with her barn owl Galaxy. One time, he even manages to ask her about Beca while tending to his own owl, a tawny called Sinatra. "After the singer," Jesse informs Chloe one evening when she asks about it, "He's my mum's favourite singer."
"That's nice," Chloe says with a genuine smile, finger stroking over the feathers of her owl absently as she looks at him.
"So I've seen you with Beca a few times," he tries to say as casually as possible, but Chloe's smile becomes devious, and he can tell already that his intentions are clearer than he wanted them to be.
"Yeah, I like her." Chloe bites her lip. "You're Jesse, right? She's mentioned you a few times. You sat together in Divination a few times last year."
"Yeah." Jesse shuffles his foot in the sawdust. He wishes he'd kept his mouth shut.
"She thinks you're annoying."
Chloe laughs sweetly. "Beca doesn't talk about people very often. I think she secretly likes you." Jesse's cheeks burn red, and Chloe laughs again. "She's a good girl, you know. But if you keep on teasing her, I think she might get her revenge."
Jesse shrugs despite his embarrassment. "I'm not worried."
"She's a Slytherin." Chloe steps away from Galaxy, wiping off her hands. "They're known for their cunning and resourcefulness."
Two nights later, when Jesse walks after her down a hallway, taunting her about what Chloe has told him, Beca says only one thing to him.
Jesse drops and rolls from the blast of the opposing wand, landing on his knees as he fires the spell back. Beca dodges easily, waving her wand twice in quick succession. He dodges one, but another hits his hand, his wand torn away and landing a few feet away. He leans over on one hand, catching his breath as Beca chuckles victoriously.
"You're getting far too good at non-verbal spells," Jesse compliments, rising to his feet and brushing down his robes. Beca bends one knee in a curtsey, a cheeky smirk lighting up her face.
"You're just a good person to practise with." Beca laughs once. "Because you're rubbish."
"Oh really?" Jesse dives for his wand and a green flash emits from its end, disarming her. Before she can react, Jesse aims another spell at her, and she yelps as it hits her.
"You're kidding me, right?" Beca splutters, pulling at her hair to better see it in horror. Jesse just laughs, hands over his stomach at the sight of her. "Jesse, this isn't fair! This isn't what we're supposed to be practicing!"
Laughing too hard to breathe, he manages a feeble, "I know… But… Too funny!"
"Jesse!" she barks, which only makes him laugh harder, "Undo this right now!"
As Beca's new rainbow coloured hair ruffles in the wind, Jesse's laughter is cut short by the appearance of Professor Longbottom on his way to the greenhouses. "Jesse Swanson!" he calls, a frown on his face but the hint of a smile on his lips, "As impressive your Transfiguration skills may be, I don't think the Headmistress will appreciate you practicing sixth year spells on her students unsupervised, do you?"
"No," he replies, head bowed to hide the smirk as Beca huffs in embarrassment, twirling a green section of hair around her finger miserably, "Sorry."
"Unless you want points deducted from Hufflepuff for your improper use of spells, I suggest you return Miss Mitchell to her former self immediately." Jesse hesitates a second too long. "You don't want word of this getting back to her father, do you?"
Jesse flicks his wand towards her and Beca sighs in relief as her hair becomes its usual chocolate brown, glaring at him as he struggles to hold back another laugh.
"Thank you." Professor Longbottom's frown deepens as he looks between them. "What are you two doing out here anyway? You're supposed to be inside for the feast."
"We were practicing disarming," Beca explains, playing with the hem of her jumper, eyes flickering between the professor and Jesse. Finding that Beca had been transferred into his Defence Against the Dark Arts class is the highlight of his year so far, especially since she seems to have the same passion for it as he does. "Is it true, sir?" she asks, "Is it true that you ended the Second Wizarding War?"
The professor smiles kindly around his crooked teeth, his cloak billowing in the late evening breeze. "No, not at all. That kind of credit should be given to Mr Potter and his friends."
"You're his friend," Jesse objects, walking across the space between them in his interest.
"He said so himself today." Beca's mouth twists in a half-smile at the memory of meeting a wizarding legend who had guest-lectured their DADA class that afternoon.
But the Professor just shakes his head with a quiet laugh, walking towards the greenhouses with a hop in his step. "Go back to the feast!" he calls over his shoulder, and with no more answers than before, Beca and Jesse reluctantly put away their wands and begin the walk back to the Great Hall.
"Why were you so excited to meet Harry Potter, anyway?" Jesse asks after a minute of comfortable silence, hand playing with the strap of his backpack.
Beca turns her head towards the Forbidden Forest, and he can just make out her pursing her lips. "You're Muggle born, right?"
Confused by the turn of conversation, Jesse answers with more of a question than a statement. "Yes?"
Beca's hair flies about her head in the breeze as it picks up, and she unconsciously steps closer to him. "Then you were not raised on stories of The Boy Who Lived. You did not grow up in a word that is still recovering from the damage done by… You-Know-Who." Beca's arms cross over her green tie, and he thinks he hears her sigh. "My Grandfather taught here at the time of the war. He died at the hands of a Deatheater."
"Oh." Jesse feels guilt pour through him at bringing the subject up, and for the loss that seems to weigh heavy on her shoulders. "I'm sorry."
"My parents graduated the year before, and my mum was pregnant with me at the time. She never really got over his death. Became an Auror to hunt down the guy responsible and caught him eventually, but died soon after."
At a loss for words, Jesse does the one thing he thinks he can; he reaches out and slips his hand into her.
Beca is so shocked by the move that she whips her head sharply to look at him, and he spots the unshed tears glistening in her eyes. Since suggesting they practise what they learn in DADA together, they have met up on a weekly basis for friendly duels. Though she remains somewhat cold towards him, he had always suspected that he is getting through… But this is the first time he has seen her without her hard exterior, has heard her willingly give information about herself. She looks beautiful and heart-breaking, and he wants to do so much more than hold her hand; he wants to hold her and kiss her and take away all of her pain.
Because he can't, he squeezes her hand, and she takes a shaky breath before letting her fingers curl. Her grip is weak but there, and she offers a meek smile in gratitude before they begin walking again.
In that moment, Jesse feels the indescribable feeling of falling.
I really hope I got everything right. I looked up so much on everything Harry Potter-related to make sure I made no mistakes, but I probably did somewhere. This would have posted yesterday had I not spent so long assigning houses and animals to each character and discussing it all in great detail and then getting sucked into Pottermore... Seriously guys, I had so much information on each PP character at Hogwarts, and I used like barely any... Ugh I need to shut up.
Title is from a Dumbledore quote about music.
How'd I do? I hope I did okay. I'm really paranoid about this.
OH! IMPORTANTNESS! I've had a lot of reviews (many guest, and I can't answer you guys!) about updating, and yes, I know, I suck at the moment. However, for anyone who cares, I have updated my profile to have stats on how I'm doing and what I'm working on. So if you're curious, you can go look there. Or not. It's not really that interesting.