Hello, everyone! This is an idea that has been bugging me for ages ever since I came across this neat little one-shot: s/3284429/1/I-Believe-You.

This is my project for NaNoWriMo and I'm always looking for feedback even though I won't really get around to editing things properly until after I finish for the month. Still, please let me know of anything that needs to be fixed so I can do it later on. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the story.

I don't own Thief Lord or Harry Potter.

Word count: 2970


Scipio Massimo's ears felt cold.

For the hundredth time so far, he carefully ran his hand through his shortened, raven hair. Gone was the silky mane he'd been trying to grow for the past year—now it was nothing more than a messy mop on his head with the unruly tendrils falling over his forehead because he hadn't bothered to brush it this morning. Maybe his mom could force him to get a haircut just before he went off to school, but she couldn't make him keep it neat.

Seeing the disapproving look on his father's face during the silent and awkward breakfast was an added bonus. Staring out the window, Scipio still couldn't believe this was all really happening. And so fast too.

His eleventh birthday hadn't been all that long ago when he had dashed downstairs to find the Hogwarts letter he'd been waiting for ever since his mom had explained to him that she was a witch. The letter sat there in place of the blank birthday card he usually received from his father, who was always away on business whenever Scipio's birthday came around. But Scipio didn't care about that as he read the letter over and over again, his heart pounding with excitement the whole time.

He was finally off to Hogwarts! Granted, he still didn't know what to expect since his mother hadn't answered any of his questions when they were in Diagon Alley buying his school supplies.

"When I was at Hogwarts, I was in Ravenclaw, which is where I hope you'll end up too. Come on, Scipio, don't stand there gawping at everything. It's quite embarrassing when you do that." This was all she had said to him and it was all he knew about the wizarding world in the eleven years he'd been anxiously waiting for the day his letter would come.

And his father was no help at all, being the upstanding Dottore Massimo who wouldn't be caught dead with any trace of such hoi polloi in his mansion.

The one time Scipio had tried asking his father about magic earned him a sharp slap across the face and the elder Massimo screaming at him to never mention such nonsense in their home ever again.

It was a harsh lesson learned, but effective nonetheless and Scipio never brought up the 'm-word' around Fondamenta Bollani 223 ever again. All his curiosity and yearning for a magical adventure had been silenced and bottled up in the luxurious prison, only set free in his imagination as he lay in bed each night wondering what amazing things waited for him in London when he finally turned eleven. The thirty-first of July could not have come soon enough, bringing with it his Hogwarts letter, his mother and her Floo powder, and his freedom.

And yet he was already missing the afternoons he could spend dodging his lessons to explore the maze-like alleyways of Venice and playing with the stray cats he found there.

What's more, he couldn't forget about the friends—Riccio, Hornet, and Mosca—he'd left behind in the abandoned Star-Palace theatre.

If he thought about it too much, it had been a really impulsive thing to do—offering to take care of three orphans close to his own age when he was going to spend most of the year away at school. He didn't have a job, he couldn't perform any magic, and he was still just a kid.

It was completely mad! But still…he couldn't deny that he kind of enjoyed the responsibility. It made him feel more grown up and less like a spoiled rich kid who only had to hide in his father's pockets in order for all of his problems to be solved. He liked the feeling that he was actually doing something worthwhile yet secretive right under his father's very nose. This was something much more forbidden and exciting than stealing a stupid trophy out of the dottor's study and putting it somewhere else for a few hours so his father could blame and yell at all the servants until he went hoarse.

And besides, he'd already managed to give mattresses, blankets, and clothes to the kids to get comfortable, and then a couple of his galleons for them to take to the sticky-fingered redbeard shop owner, Barbarossa, and trade it for enough money that would hopefully last at least a few months. After that, he would worry about what to do next.

With a decisive nod to himself, Scipio let his mind wander back to the familiar daydreams of magic as the bright, countryside scenery passed by in a green blur that nearly matched his eager green eyes.

His eyes were his most favorite thing about himself. It should've been the thin lightning bolt scar stamped just over his right eyebrow, but he was glad he didn't have his father's dark, indifferent eyes or his mother's haughty, hazel ones. Other than that, he resembled his father in every way from his thin, but youthfully handsome face to his slim build.

As for the scar—well, Riccio couldn't stop staring at it and going on and on about how cool it was. He also must've asked Scipio at least a hundred times where it came from, and Scipio's answer was always the same:

"Shut up, Riccio. I told you, I got into a bit of a scrape with an old client of mine and he tried to gut me open. Instead, he cut my forehead just before I kicked his feet from under him and disappeared into the night. I am the Thief Lord, aren't I?"

Scipio, the Thief Lord.

Out in the slick streets where he felt brave and free knowing more about the infinite nooks and crannies of the city than his parents ever would, he could be whoever he wanted instead of the young Master Massimo. And he had chosen to be the Thief Lord, an elusive crusader of the night and the leader of a band of young thieves.

He'd told the kids he was just like them—an orphan surviving on his own by stealing priceless treasures from oblivious grownups. While it was partly true, the words had tumbled out of his mouth before he'd even realized it. The small twinge of guilt that he'd felt for lying evaporated as soon as the suspicious glare from Riccio turned into one of complete awe, and the worried looks on Hornet's and Mosca's faces melted into hopeful ones. They'd needed a hand and that was all that had mattered at the time. He would tell them the truth later once they were settled. But as he brought them more and more things, he realized that he could never tell them. They needed him to be the Thief Lord.

God, but what if they do find out? I'm just some…whiny rich kid trying to escape my life, my parents, everything…

Scipio couldn't help the shudder that made him sink lower into his seat. No way. He would never let that happen. Ever.

"Um, are you ok?"

It was a quiet, polite voice that had spoken, but it was still loud enough to jerk the young Scipio out of his thoughts and to his feet with a startled yelp.

Standing at the door to his compartment was a boy his own age with wavy, dark brown hair, blue eyes—that met Scipio's for the briefest of seconds before looking away—and his school robes already on top of his normal clothes. Even though he was asking to join Scipio, he seemed tense with instinctive suspicion. After taking all this in, Scipio bristled and straightened his posture so he stood a little taller than the other boy.

"What's the big idea? Sneaking up on me like that?"

The boy looked taken aback by the less-than-pleasant greeting, but quickly recovered enough to frown at him.

"I didn't sneak up on you, all right?" he retorted carefully, looking rather uncomfortable like he was concentrating hard on his words. "I tried calling you three times already to ask if I could sit here with you. I can't find anywhere else."

"Well, I…I didn't hear you then," Scipio snapped huffily, determined not to look like he'd nearly jumped out of his skin. "Who are you anyway? You look like you're in your first year," he demanded.

The other boy bristled at the bossy tone, but only gave Scipio an even look as he answered,

"I'm Prosper Lawson, and by the looks of you, you're a first-year too."

Scipio gave a quick nod. "That's right. I'm Scipio Massimo and I'm going to be in Ravenclaw…er, I think so anyway."

He knew there were four Houses at Hogwarts, but he didn't know much about the other three. And since his mom had been in Ravenclaw, it seemed like it would make sense if he ended up there too. He had yet to decide how he felt about that, but he didn't want to look too clueless in front of all these other kids who, unlike him, got to grow up with magic.

"Oh, um, that's cool," Prosper replied at last. "Um…I guess I'm going to be in Gryffindor. At least, I hope so."

Ravenclaw and Gryffindor. Ok, that's two I know about now…so what about the others?

"Why do you want Gryffindor? What's wrong with the other Houses?" Scipio sat back down and gestured to the seat across from him. "Yeah, you can sit. There's no one else in here."

Prosper's apprehensive face seemed to relax some and he closed the compartment door behind him.

"Well, my mom was in Gryffindor and she says it's for the brave and daring. Ravenclaw's cool too, but I never did get the best grades in elementary school and that House is supposed to be for geniuses, I think. I wouldn't mind Hufflepuff, because just about anyone can get in there. But no way would I ever go in Slytherin. Mom would have a heart attack," Prosper explained, which surprised Scipio at how talkative he'd suddenly become.

"What's wrong with Slytherin?" Scipio blurted before he could stop himself.

At this, Prosper's eyes widened and he leaned forward, which prompted Scipio to do the same as his hands anxiously gripped at his jeans.

"From what I've heard, everybody who goes into Slytherin turns into a dark wizard. A lot of the kids in there probably practice dark magic before they graduate. And that's the house You-Know-Who was in all those years ago," Prosper said slowly.

"Who?"

"You-Know-Who, that's who."

"No, I don't know who. Who are you talking about?" Scipio demanded again.

The incredulous look on Prosper's face suddenly made him realize that he had probably just asked a stupid question, but now he was much too eager to hear the answer to care.

"You can't be serious!" Prosper exclaimed. "Everybody knows about You-Know-Who."

"How the hell can they if you never even say his name?" Scipio nearly shouted, starting to get frustrated with this kid.

Prosper only looked at him, frozen with disbelief. He finally started to open his mouth, but before any words came out, their compartment door slid open to a plump, grey-haired woman smiling at them from behind a trolley stacked with food.

"Would you boys like something to eat?" she asked sweetly.

"Um, yeah, sure," Scipio grumbled, now feeling a little embarrassed by his outburst.

No one was ever going to take him seriously as a wizard if he kept acting like some ignorant twerp, which he was in danger of doing again now that he had to choose from this pile of food that seemed to have all kinds of sweets he'd never seen in his life.

"I'll have the Cauldron Cake, a Bertie Bott's, and several of those chocolate frogs," he said with exaggerated confidence, determined not to slip up again.

He paid for his snacks and waited for Prosper to do the same before the lady was on her way again and leaving the two of them alone at last.

"You don't know much about our world, do you? Are you muggleborn?" Prosper asked finally.

"No way! I'm a half-blood," Scipio retorted quickly. "And I know enough. It's just that…my mom never told me much about You-Know-Who…"

Heck, she's never told me anything. She's everywhere except at home, his mind added bitterly.

"Oh…well, I guess I can't blame her for that. My mom never talks about him without getting goosebumps on her arms," said Prosper.

"Right, 'cause he's pretty evil," Scipio added in matter-of-factly.

Seeing Prosper's fervent nod made him feel a little relieved that he'd said the right thing as he took a bite of his Cauldron Cake.

"He was the most dangerous wizard ever. He controlled hundreds of dark wizards and monsters and used them to attack everyone. But then he was defeated ten years ago by a baby named Harry Potter," said Prosper. "You've had to at least heard of Harry Potter, right?"

Scipio started to laugh, expecting his companion to join him, but Prosper looked quite serious as he waited for an answer.

He can't be serious. A baby who beat up a dangerous wizard? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

"Well, of course I have," Scipio answered, almost looking offended. "It's pretty…crazy, huh?"

"Yeah. I mean, no one's ever heard of the Killing Curse backfiring before. And as for Harry…well, if you think about it, if he was still alive, he'd be a first year like us." Prosper popped a Bertie Bott's bean into his mouth.

"And what happened to You-Know-Who exactly?" Scipio asked.

"He died at the same time as Harry, but here's the thing: they were never found. You-Know-Who must've put a lot of power into his curse that their bodies were blown up. Only Harry's parents' bodies were left behind in the ruins." Prosper flopped back against his seat and then there was a knock on the door and a round-faced boy poked his head inside. He was blubbering so much that they could hardly understand a word he was saying.

"I-I've lost my t-toad!" he wailed. "Have you s-seen him?"

They shook their heads, which, if possible, seemed to make him look even more miserable as he closed the door and trudged off.

Prosper watched him leave, feeling a little sorry for the poor kid, but a strange croaking sound caught his attention.

"Scipio, did you hear—where in the world did you get that?" he cried out, jumping slightly at the sight of the large, lumpy creature Scipio was balancing in his hands.

"I grabbed him not long after I got on the train," Scipio answered loftily as he juggled the toad between his two hands. "He's been under my seat the whole time and you never noticed." He laughed at this as Prosper's face looked more and more dumbfounded.

"B-But d'you mean it's that boy's toad?" Prosper's heart leapt into his throat when Scipio tossed the toad even higher into the air and caught it with one hand. "Be careful with that!" he yelped. "Why'd you take it from him anyway?"

"Relax, Prosper, it's just a joke." Scipio didn't even bother to hide how pleased he was with himself at the moment.

Just because he was going off to become a wizard didn't mean he was going to let his sneaking and stealing skills get rusty. He was the Thief Lord after all.

"Scipio, that's not funny!" Prosper said more forcefully this time. "You should really—"

"All right, all right. I'll give it back to him later, ok?" Scipio said, somewhat miffed that his fun had been ruined. "Anyway, I've changed my mind. I'm going to be in Gryffindor instead," he announced proudly.

"Gryffindor? That's where I want to be."

Their compartment door slid open again; it was the toadless boy again, but this time a girl with bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth was with him. Prosper's first thought was that her tone sounded bossier than Scipio's.

"It sounds like the best House so far and it's also the one Headmaster Dumbledore's was in. I've read as much as I could about the school and memorized all my textbooks. I so hope it will be enough because no one else in my family is magic at all and I don't want to fall behind—I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, and this is Neville Longbottom."

She said all of this in one breath that Scipio found his head swimming from trying to process all of her words, even though he could speak English fluently as a second language. Through the corner of his eye, he saw that Prosper had a very stunned look on his face.

"Trevor!" Neville cried, stumbling inside to pluck his pet from Scipio's hands. "Thanks for finding him!"

"Oh, uh, yeah…no problem. I was just about to come and find you," Scipio replied smoothly, pretending not to see Prosper's disapproving frown on his back. "I'm Scipio Massimo."

"Prosper Lawson."

"You know, we'll be arriving at Hogwarts soon," said Hermione, "you really ought to change into your robes and probably clean up all these sweets you've thrown about." She eyed the messy compartment with disdain. "Come on, Neville, let's get going."

With her school robes flowing behind her, Hermione Granger left with Neville trotting behind her.

"You'd think she was our mother or something, bossing us around like that," Prosper muttered.

"No kidding. There's no way someone like her could get into Gryffindor." Rolling his eyes, Scipio stood up to close the compartment door the sniffy girl had left open, but not before sneaking one last glimpse of her as she marched down the corridor. His stomach gave a funny jolt, but he ignored the feeling and went back to his seat.


And there's the first part! I will probably upload again by next week, so stick around!