The Many Faces of Harry Potter 23

"The Many Faces of Har—er, Adira Potter: Chapter 22"
By = Fayanora

Chapter Twenty-three: Paranoia and New Friends

Note 1: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.

Note 2: Once more, I apologize for the bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there.

Note 3: I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Adira, and Zoey, and now #Iliana (bold, italic, underlined, and now between hashtags/pound signs because some people's computers don't do the B.I.U.).# and {Tier} if I ever get around to it.

Note 4: This is a long chapter. But I made it less long by cutting out the World Cup match itself, just doing some important bits before and after.

***FAYANORA***

Percy Weasley headed out to work the next morning after breakfast, even though it was his day off, explaining that things had gone crazy at the Ministry because of the mayhem at the match, and he felt the need to help out his boss in this hectic time. Al hoped the older boy wasn't going to overwork himself, as he ate his eggs and sausage.

It had been very awkward for him that morning, finding himself in Ginny's room with her and Hermione, even though they all had separate beds. He had poked his head out to see if anyone else was up, but the two girls were still fast asleep. Then he'd looked down at his own clothes, wondering what state they were in. To his relief, he'd found them looking like normal pajamas. So he'd very carefully slipped out, pulled some clothes out of their suitcase, and gone to the loo to change before heading downstairs.

After breakfast, he'd gone back to their suitcase, Ginny and Hermione back at the table by then. He dug some parchment and ink out of their suitcase and took it back to the table and began to doodle on the parchment while he waited for Sirius to wake up. He found to his annoyance that ink and parchment weren't great for doing art on, and decided to try to get Sirius to buy him some art supplies. They hadn't been big on art in primary school because of Dudley's tendency to rip his art to pieces, but now that was no longer a worry, he wanted to go back to it.

He'd been drawing for almost an hour when Sirius finally woke up.

“Wow, that's pretty good,” Sirius commented on Al's drawing. “Who's that?”

“This is the Indian boy in that dream. Did I tell you he woke us up last night?”

“Did you? Oh wait, I remember, Iliana said a dream woke her, but we didn't have time to go into details about it.”

“Yeah. He's normally really calm, almost too calm. But he was panic-stricken last night, woke us up.”

“Well maybe you were dreaming about him already when the noises started, and your brain incorporated that into the dream?”

“Could be.”

“You wrote something there, what's it say?”

“It says 'Chandra Rahasyamay.'”

“What's that mean?”

“No idea. Anyway, I think it's his name.”

“This boy from a dream has a name?”

“Apparently. Don't know why. Don't know how, either; he never said in the dreams what his name was.”

“Oh. Well anyway, I need to eat something, I'm starving.”

Al continued to draw as Sirius ate breakfast and talked with Mrs. Weasley. He wasn't listening to their conversation, but he did pick up on Sirius inviting the Weasleys over for dinner at their place sometime. This made him look up.

“Dinner at our place? Wouldn't that just mean we order Chinese take-away?”

“Er, maybe. At least until I get better at cooking. You ever have Chinese take-away, Molly?”

“I'm not sure. I doubt it. Those kinds of places are mostly in Muggle districts. Food from another culture, though... I think that would be worth trying. Heaven knows cooking every day and night gets a little tiresome at times. We might take you up on that sometime.”

After Sirius finished his breakfast, Al got his things together and they went home.

~

Once they got their things home, they headed out again, meeting Mrs. Weasley at The Leaky Cauldron.

“After losing track of my wand yesterday, I was wondering if we could go to Ollivander's so I can get myself a spare wand and holster.”

“Good idea. Moody would be proud of you, I'm sure he's got at least one spare wand on him. Knowing him, he probably has several.”

“Do we go to Gringott's first?”

“No, Al. I have bank notes, remember? I can get your stuff that way.”

“Oh yeah, right.”

“If that's the case, dears,” Mrs. Weasley said, “then I'll catch up with you two later. I do have to go to the bank.”

Once they got into Diagon Alley, they walked together to Ollivander's, then parted ways with Mrs. Weasley, waving goodbye to her for now.

The inside of the shop was just as creepy as they remembered. But this time, Ollivander was busy with a customer, so he couldn't dramatically pop out from behind a shelf somewhere to scare them. They sat and waited until the first-year student had their first wand, applauding when she made it spark. When the wand was purchased and the girl and her mom were leaving, Ollivander turned to them.

“Ah, young Sirius Black. Dogwood, 12 inches, containing a single unicorn tail hair, correct?”

“Er, yes.”

“Good, good. And who are you, my fine young man? I don't remember... wait a moment...” his eyes flicked to their scar. “Oh, I know you. Holly and phoenix feather, 11 inches. You must be one of the, er... other Potters.”

“Alastair Potter. We temporarily lost our wand last night at the Quidditch match while some Death Eaters were coming right toward me, and so I felt it a good idea to get a spare wand and holster. Do you sell holsters here?”

“Yes, but nothing quite as fancy as the one you're using, Alastair.”

“What? How do you know---?”

“Part of my craft is being able to see magic, Mr. Potter. I could see enough of the magic around your wrist to tell that you have a very fine wrist holster there indeed. Those are very handy, of course, but they are visible to people such as myself. I suggest you go to the same shop for your spare holster, but ask for one in the Stealth-master series. They're hidden from people such as myself. Very important, in your case, as a certain You-Know-Who most likely has the same ability to see magic.”

“He does?”

“Given what I have heard of his talents, I would be very surprised if he did not. By the way, for a fee, that same shop can – I understand – cast stealth spells of the same type on your current wrist holster.”

“Good to know. Thanks.”

“You are welcome. Now... hmm... should I skip the wands that the other Mr. Potter already tried, or do you want to try them?”

“Er... that's a good question. Skip them for now, I think.”

“Good, good. Of course, I remember every one I tried you on, so I'll just go get a few for you to try.”

Testing the wands didn't take nearly as long as it had the first time. Within 10 minutes, he'd found one that gave purple sparks when he waved it. It was oak and dragon heartstring, 10 inches.

“Excellent, excellent! I hope you and your new wand have a very good adventure together, Mr. Potter. Make sure to practice with it every week at least, okay? Practice makes perfect, and not all wands work the same way, so getting a feel for the new wand will be essential to using it in case of emergencies. Yes, that will be seven galleons. Ah, thank you. You two have a good day, Mr. Potter, Mr. Black.”

“You too, Mr. Ollivander,” Al said before they left.

After Ollivander's, they went to the wand holster shop and got the new wand a forearm holster that kept the wand above his left forearm, so he now had a wand up each sleeve. The new holster had an invisibility charm on it as well as stealth charms so that nobody would know it was there unless they felt it. The best part of this holster, though, was that the thing could open from the top to release the wand in case he couldn't slide it all the way out for some reason, which the shop owner had suggested after Al explained to him that he often got into trouble with dangerous wizards trying to hurt him.

“This way,” the man had explained, “if your hands are tied behind your back and you've got limited room to move, you can get your wand without having to slide it out all the way.”

Sirius had thought this just a touch too paranoid, but it amused him, and it was better safe than sorry, so he didn't object to getting it for them.

After some brief stops at the apothecary and the quill shop (where Al got a fountain pen with a rounded tip), they went to Flourish and Blotts. Al spent a lot of time in here looking for advanced Defense books, among others. And he wasn't the only one; he had to hand control of his body over to others in the collective while they looked at books, too. Most embarassing had been Iliana and Adira trying to get in to look at the romance books, but those were age restricted.

I shouldn't worry too much about it, Al told them. If you're looking for anything other than heterosexual bullshit romance, you're probably not going to find it.

How did you know that's what we were looking for?

Well let's see, you're both bisexual. It wasn't a great leap of logic from there. Plus, you know, I can read your minds.

Still, they did manage to find some interesting fiction books, too. They had quite a collection by the time they were finished. He moved on to the Ancient Runes section, since they were taking that class.

While in that section, he felt eyes on him, and he turned, ready to snap at whoever it was for staring, but what he saw stopped him in his tracks and made him stare, his jaw hanging open. It was a very pretty boy about age 13. Not handsome, but pretty. Okay, sure, handsome as well, but in a pretty way. The boy was Latino, with brown hair that was short in the back and stuck up elegantly on the top in gently curving spikes tipped in a brownish blond. His eyes were a gorgeous doe-brown, and he could see intelligence in those eyes. Eyes that had lovely long lashes.

The boy was clutching some books shyly in his arms while staring at Al; his hands, Al noticed, were slender and had immaculately clean nails. Suddenly realizing that they were both staring at one another in mutual attraction, and suddenly remembering that he was quite handsome himself, Al ran one hand semi-casually through his hair.

“Uh... hi,” he said, since the other boy still seemed dumbstruck.

“Oh. Hi,” the boy said in a small, quiet voice. He had a gentle Spanish accent.

“Are... are you taking Ancient Runes, too?” Al asked.

“Yes,” the boy said, sounding relieved to have something to talk about. “Ancient Runes is an essential class for becoming an Artificer, and that's what I want to be when I grow up.”

“Artificer? What's that?”

“They make magical objects, like pensieves, Sneak-o-scopes, secrecy sensors, omnioculars, wizarding wireless sets, and so on. Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, and Transfiguration are important for an Artificer.”

“Wow, that sounds cool. I haven't given much thought yet to what I'm gonna do for a career.”

“What classes are you taking?”

“Ancient Runes, Divination, and Care of Magical Creatures.”

“Divination?”

“Yeah. I thought the whole subject was rubbish after the first class, but then during the test I found out I'm a bloody seer, of all the crazy things!”

“You had a vision?”

“Yeah. It, er... hasn't been a hugely useful vision yet, but I think it was real.”

“That's cool!”

“Er, thanks. Um... hey, what's your name? I'm Alastair. Er... Alastair Potter.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot. I'm Javier Joaquin Mendoza.”(*)

They shook hands. Al noted that Javier had very soft hands. They held the handshake about twice as long as usual before letting go.

“So, er... what House are you in, Javier?”

Javier turned red. Al felt his fear and worry.

“Is that really necessary?” Javier asked. “I mean, well...”

“Ah. You must be a Slytherin, then, to be that squirrelly about Houses. Don't worry, I won't hold it against you. I, er... was almost Slytherin myself, the Hat said. Luck of the draw.”

Javier breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you. I was so worried it would chase you off. Yeah, I'm Slytherin. But I'm half-blood, and I don't hold with all that blood purity rubbish. Neither do my parents. My dad's a Muggleborn.”

“Well that's good. I mean, even if you were a blood purist, I... I think I wouldn't mind trying to change your mind.”

Javier grinned.

Sirius came over then, and spotted Al's wagonload of books.

“Buying out the whole store, are you Al?”

“Not quite. Especially since there are areas of the store we, er... we couldn't get into.”

Sirius laughed and slapped his back. “Ah, I remember trying to do the same sort of thing when I was your age. Oh hello, who's this? A friend of yours?”

“I'd sure like him to be,” Al said. “Sirius, this is Javier Mendoza.”

“Sirius?” Javier asked. “Sirius Black?”

Sirius frowned slightly. “Yes.”

“Wow! Really? That's so cool!”

“Er, pardon?” Sirius asked, confused.

Javier took Sirius's hand and pumped it excitedly.

“I'm thrilled to meet you, sir! Only person ever to escape Azkaban! And you were innocent the whole time! How'd you escape?”

“Oh, er... well... I was an illegal Animagus. I can turn into a dog. And, er...” he trailed off, looking discomfited.

“Sirius doesn't much like talking about it.”

“Do you know how he did it? Because dementors are supposed to sap a wizard's powers with extended exposure.”

“Sirius told me that because he knew he was innocent, which wasn't a happy thought, he was able to keep his powers.”

“So then he turned into a dog, slipped out between the bars, and swam to shore?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“Cool! That must have been really difficult.”

“Yes,” said Sirius, sounding more at ease. “But I had to protect Al here from a dangerous wizard who was also an illegal Animagus.”

“Peter Pettigrew, right? I heard about him. What did he turn into?”

“A rat.”

Javier nodded sagely.

They continued talking as they went up to the front to pay.

“By the way, I need a new trunk. Old one's getting too full.”

“Yes, I remember you mentioning that. Javier, where are your parents?”

Javier looked around.

“Oh, here comes Mom. Hi mom, this is Sirius Black and Alastair Potter.”

A short, stout woman with curly black hair and the same color eyes as Javier smiled at them, shaking their hands.

“Nice to meet you at last, Mr. Black. My son talks about you and your escape all the time. He talks about a lot of things all the time. But you're one of his latest obsessions.”

Al noticed her glance at him when she said this, smiling.

“Would you two like to join us to the luggage shop? I need a new trunk.”

“Can we, Mom?” Javier asked pleadingly.

“Of course, dear. After that fiasco at the Quidditch World Cup, it's best to travel in groups.”

The four of them walked along to the shop, Al and Javier talked the whole time. Or rather, Javier asked loads of questions about Sirius's escape, and Al answered best he could. When they got into the luggage store, though, Javier's focus changed and he began talking about all the different trunks as though he were a trunk salesman, except that he was plainly excited about it.

“How do you know all these things about trunks?” Al asked him.

“Oh, you remember I told you I want to be an Artificer? Well magical trunks aren't Artificer territory exactly, but they can be.”

The conversation continued on, making the salesman look at them exasperatedly. But in the end, Al went with the one that Javier recommended to him, a model that had four locks. Each lock opened a different space in the trunk, so he had to close the lid and unlock a different lock to get into another section.

He turned the key in the first lock. The trunk opened up into a decent sized room full of racks to hang robes and other clothes from. There were also several dresser drawers inside for their underwear. Using their wand, he put his name on one of them, Adira's name on another, Iliana's on the third. They could work out further details later.

The second lock was an organizer room for his school supplies like parchment, quills, ink, and so on.

Turning the third lock's key revealed a general storage area, perfect for Christmas and birthday gift storage. There was also a broom rack on the wall for their Firebolt, a hook for Hedwig's cage to hang from, and a habitat for Aqua, the grass snake that was Zoey's pet, which was at home right now.

The fourth lock opened into a library full of empty shelves, with a ladder that gave him access to the room. The library looked big enough to carry about 500 or 600 large books.

“This is the best part of the whole thing,” Al said, eying the library shelves with awe. “I'll take it!”

First thing he did after buying the trunk was to put all the new stuff they'd gotten into their respective chambers. He had a lot of fun shelving the books; Javier helped him.

After putting things in the trunk, they all went back to The Leaky Cauldron for lunch. Al introduced Mrs. Weasley to Javier and his mother (whose name was Martina), once again leaving out Javier's school House. During lunch, he and Javier kept talking about this and that.

When the adults were occupied on the other end of the table, Al turned to Javier and said quietly, “Hey, so... I noticed that you didn't react to my name when I told you. I take it that means you knew already?”

“Er, yeah,” Javier admitted. “I've seen you in school before. I didn't know who you were for a while, I'd just see you in the corridors sometimes. I... well, I think it's safe to say I fancied you before I even knew who you were. Er... you do know I fancy you, right?”

“Yes. Wasn't it obvious the feeling is mutual?”

Javier blushed. “Oh. Er, not to me. I'm glad to hear it.”

“Good. And I'm glad to hear you fancy me, because I didn't much want to be the one to make the first move. Though I would if I had to, of course.”

“Cool, cool. Er... is it too early to say we're dating?”

“Uh... I think so. Only because we haven't actually gone on a date yet, and we barely know each other.”

“Would we be able to? My parents would let me, I think. They like it when I socialize. I don't really have many friends.”

“I don't have any of my own friends either, really. I mean... well... how much do you know about me?”

“Are you referring to the whole, you know, thing? The thing where you've got other people in there with you? Cause I don't mind. People call me weird. I don't mind weird.”

“Oh good. I was worried for a moment.” He grinned.

“So you don't consider the redhead and the bushy-haired girl your friends?”

“I do. It's just... they were Adira's and Iliana's friends first. We share them. I like having someone who's friends with me before the others. It's a nice change.”

“By the way... is Sirius Black your father? You two look a lot alike.”

“No. It's weird, I know. He's not related to me by blood. None of us have any idea why I look like him. Except that we knew him when we were an infant, so maybe that's the reason, somehow?” He shrugged.

“Well boys, if you're all done eating, Javier and I have to go home now.”

“Whereabouts do you live?” Al asked. “I want to make sure Hedwig gets the right Javier.”

“We live in Devon. And you?”

“Here in London. I'm pretty sure it's findable by owl, but if I don't hear from you in a week or two, I can always send Hedwig your way. If nothing else, maybe owls can communicate with one another about addresses.”

“I don't think there'll be a problem,” Sirius said. “Especially since I can just shoot a letter off to Gringott's about it just in case.”

“Excellent!”

Al and Javier hugged each other goodbye. Soon, Javier and his mother disappeared into the Floo.

“Sirius? Can we stop at an art store before we go home?”

“Sure thing. I'll just send the trunk home with my wand. Anyway, we still have to get your robes for the year.”

“Oh yeah, forgot.”

*

When Al and Sirius got home, Al spent an hour moving all their things from their old trunk to the new one, including all of their books. It was a wonder everything had fit in the old trunk with all the books they had. As it was, he had to un-shrink about 20 books that they'd shrunk to fit them into the old trunk, returning them to normal size before he could shelve them in his new trunk.

That done, he sat down and tried to write a letter to Javier, but he couldn't think of anything, so he started to draw instead with his new art supplies. What he ended up drawing was Javier, with little hearts in the air around him. It was a very cartoony drawing, about the same quality as his drawing of the boy from their dreams.

After a couple hours of drawing, a grey owl appeared at his window. He let it in despite it being unfamiliar, suspecting who it was from. Sure enough, Javier had sent it. The other boy must have spent a couple hours writing it, because it was a very long letter, being about 15 feet long in all, and both sides were written on. It was a lot like Javier's speaking style, a lot of info-dumps about various subjects, but there was some other stuff in there as well. He ignored, for now, the long list of fascinated questions about their multiplicity and his hopes he'd get to meet the others in the collective, and focused instead on the bits where Javier was discussing possible places to go on a date. He decided to write two different letters, the first one going back to Javier via the grey owl, whose name was Gandalf. That amused Al; someone in their household was a Lord of the Rings fan.

Dear Javier,

I got your letter. Gandalf the grey owl, eh? Someone over there's into Lord of the Rings? Is it you? I like that book too. Though I almost didn't get past that horrible Tom Bombadil part. That passage was just so damned annoying and pointless.

I'm going to skip replying to most of your letter for now, so I can dedicate plenty of time to it later. I want to give it all the attention and time it deserves, which is a lot. For now I'll just say that I'm going to ask Sirius about the whole dating thing. He'll probably want to chaperone, since we barely know each other. Don't know if your parents will want to chaperone too or not.

Wait, what kind of a doofus am I? I'll just go ask him now. Be back in a moment.

Okay, moment over. I asked Sirius, which included some ideas of my own. He says he'd be okay with it, depending on what your folks say. What do you say to going out for Chinese food? My godfather and I eat out a lot, and Chinese is my favorite. Anyway, I was thinking you could come to London, since I don't know Devon, and I want us to go somewhere I know is good. Plus, my godfather is understandably a little paranoid about my safety, given our frequent run-ins with You-Know-Who and his cronies. I am, too, for that matter. So ask your folks, okay?

Anyway, I'll try to have a longer response in a day or two. For now, thanks for your address; I can use that to fire-call you and your folks, to work out when we can have our date.By the way, our own address is 23B Square Way, London.

Sincerely,
Alastair Potter

He re-read the letter to be sure it was good enough, and then gave it back to Gandalf to return to Javier. Hedwig looked annoyed by this.

“Hedwig, you'll be taking him the much longer letter, once I've finally written it.”

This seemed to mollify her, for which he was glad.

Al really hoped that his date with Javier was going to be soon. There was, after all, less than a week until the first day of school. He hoped Javier would write or fire-call soon. While he waited, he went back to packing his things. He included the book about the Animagus transformation, too. But he used spells on it to disguise it as a very dull-sounding “Advances in Magical Theory Since the 1930's,” and made it so that anyone who tried to read it that wasn't them would just see a bunch of nonsense. Then he stuck it in his trunk's bookshelf.

He pondered on how the date would go. He hadn't actually told Sirius it would be a date, just that he wanted to hang out with his new friend before school, because he didn't really know if he wanted to come out yet, as he wasn't entirely sure of his own orientation yet, and he was a little worried. It was silly, yes; they hadn't minded Adira being trans, why should this be any different? He also hadn't told either Sirius or Mrs. Weasley that his new friend was a Slytherin.

Al took one of his new books from his shelf and went to the drawing room by the hearth to read and wait for a fire-call. It was very hard to concentrate on reading as a result, especially since Sirius kept giving him odd looks. Al tried reading Sirius's emotions, but didn't know what to make of what he was sensing.

It wasn't until after dinner that the fire-call finally came. Javier's head popped into existence in the green Floo flames, and Al ran over to kneel in front of the fire. The two of them talked for several minutes, with Sirius occasionally putting in his two knuts, until they decided on going to Chinese on Saturday. Then, because he was getting uncomfortable kneeling on the hard floor, Javier ended the fire-call.

Al stood up and sat back down with his book, but didn't even try to read again. He was too keyed up, so he didn't even notice Sirius watching him this time, a thoughtful look on his face.

After an hour, Al stood up.

“I'm going to my bedroom. I need to think.”

“Okay,” Sirius said.

But when he got to his bedroom, Al wasn't thinking about things; he was once more going through the stuff they were taking to school. He was trying to decide whether or not to fold his underwear again when there was a knock on the door.

“What is it?” he asked.

“May I come in?”

“Yeah, okay Sirius.”

The door opened up, and Sirius came in.

“So... I just wanted to tell you that, well, if there's anything you want to tell me, you can do so. I won't judge.”

Al felt his cheeks warm. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, like... okay, you know what? I'm not good at this kinda thing. You like Javier, right? I don't mean as a friend. You barely know the boy, and you're way too excited about him too soon for it to be just a friend thing. Especially for you, Al. I may not know you as well as I know Adira, but she's told me some things about you, and, well... you don't trust easily. Well, you kinda do, with that heart-reading thing of yours, but you still hold back from people, you still take time to warm up to them. I can read the signs, Alastair. I think I have an idea what's going on.”

“Oh?” Al said, folding his underwear in a would-be casual way. “What do you think is going on?”

“You know, wizarding society doesn't really care what people do with their sex lives as long as they get into a marriage that can produce children. Population is a problem for us, after all, so it's viewed as a societal duty among wizards to have children if they can. Beyond that, it's nobody else's business.”

“It is? Well, that's nice. But, er... what does that have to do with me?”

“If you fancy this Javier boy, that's not a problem for society, and it's not a problem with me. Hell, I don't even care if you have kids or not. Do what you like. Plenty of others are having kids. If you're, well... homosexual, then you can tell me. And I'll be cool with it. In fact, I'm not exactly straight myself. I'm bisexual, in fact.”

“You are?”

“Yes,” Sirius said simply.

Al sighed with relief. “I am, too, Sirius. At least, I think I am.”

“Ah. Well... I normally wouldn't have bothered saying anything, but I know Muggles in Britain can be weird about that sort of thing, and you were raised by some truly awful Muggles, so I figured I should say something, you know what I mean?”

“Yes, I do.”

“And, er... tell the others the same thing from me, okay? They can talk to me if they're not heterosexual. Or even if they are. Um... well, that's all I had to say.”

“You don't mind me going on a date with Javier, then?”

“Ah... yes--I mean no, I don't mind. Just... I thought he seemed a bit keen, too. So it's officially a date, then?”

“Yeah. Kind of more a 'get to know each other better' date, than a date date. You know?”

“Yes, I get it. So there's probably not going to be any snogging, then?”

“Probably not. Too soon. Maybe some hand holding. Maybe a hug or two. I mean... I don't know what his parents think.”

“Given the look his mum was giving me earlier, I'd say she knows and is fine with it, too. But yeah, we don't know for sure.”

“Well, you know, you and her don't have to hang around real close to us. You could talk with her at a different table while I'm with Javier.”

“Might just do that. No need to cramp your style.”

“Yeah,” Al said, smiling.

“So... tell me more about this boy. I know you don't know everything, but you two talked enough I hope you know some things. Is he in Hogwarts? You ever see him in class?”

“Yes, he's in Hogwarts. A year below me, though. So not in any classes.”

“Ah, okay. Do you know what House he's in?”

Al's face turned red. “What does that matter?”

“Ah, so he's a Slytherin?” Sirius smiled.

“Er, yeah.”

“Figured as much. It's the only House that would get that kind of reaction to a simple question. I don't mind, you know. I trust your judgment of people. And there are plenty of good Slytherins. Merlin was a Slytherin. Old Horace Slughorn, my Potions teacher in school, was a Slytherin. And unlike Snape, Slughorn was a jovial fellow. Your mother was his favorite student, and he knew she was Muggleborn. Slughorn likes talent, he doesn't care about accidents of birth. Well, okay, he does tend to pay more attention to kids related to famous people, but what I mean is he never showed any signs of being a blood bigot.”

“Glad to hear you think that way. We almost ended up in Slytherin. In the end, though, the hat picked Griffindor.”

Sirius barked with laughter.

“I'll bet the Hat had a bugger of a time with you lot! I wouldn't be surprised if you could've all ended up in different Houses, if you'd had your own bodies. I can see you as a Slytherin, Al. Not sure about Adira. Iliana seems like a Ravenclaw to me. No idea on Zoey or Tier, either.”

“Heh, yeah. I think Zoey would be Griffindor for sheer nerve. Adira would be a Griffindor too, I think. But yeah, Tier is a hard one to classify.”

There was a lull in the conversation.

“Well,” Sirius said at last, “I'll let you finish packing, or whatever. I'm glad we had this talk.”

“Likewise,” Al said, putting the underwear down at last. “Actually, I need to start on this letter to Javier.”

“Well I'll see you, or whoever else, in the morning. Good night.”

“Night, Sirius.”

Sirius closed the door, and Al went over to his desk, got out Javier's letter, and started work on his response. It would be midnight before he stopped to go to bed.

~

That night, they dreamed of the Indian boy again. Only this time, it was Al and Tier. Al didn't know who it was beside him at first, because Tier had never manifested his own body before, not really. But when a golden-eyed humanoid dragon-like creature stared placidly at Al without baring its teeth, it didn't remain a mystery for long.

“Tier?”

The creature nodded.

Al turned around in his seat, but the Indian boy wasn't back there. He was, instead, on Tier's other side. As soon as Tier turned to face the boy, he passed Tier a parchment with the alphabet on it, and started teaching Tier the alphabet. Tier looked offended by this, as if to say he already knew how to write. The boy nodded at this, took the parchment away, and put a blank one in its place. He handed Tier a fountain pen and ink pot. Tier took the pen uncertainly, but began to write.

What is your name? Tier's writing said.

“You already know it,” the boy said.

“From my drawing?” Al asked. “You're Chandra Rahasyamay?”

“Yes.”

What is the teacher's name? Tier wrote.

Chandra looked thoughtfully at Tier. Then raised his hand. The teacher came over, smelling to Al of damp earth, fragrant leaves, and the smell after a first rain, a smell called petrachor. Her skin was very, very dark brown. Her hair was big and poofy, like an Afro, but it sunk a little under its weight, so Al didn't know if that still qualified as an Afro or not. But her eyes... they started out bright violet, then green, then pink, red, blue, and yellow. They didn't stay the same color for more than about five seconds at a time.

“Yes, Chandra?”

“Tier wishes to know your name.”

“I have no name yet. There's never been need for one before. Tier, you and the others should think of a name.”

Chandra looked annoyed. “Why can't I think of a name?”

“Because you're still in school. You haven't gone out there yet. They have. They've earned it.”

“But I've known you all this time.”

“And for you, words and names still have little meaning. To them, though, words are very important. Names, more so.”

“How are they to call on you without a name?”

“When they need me, they will name me. And in the naming, I will come.” She ruffled Chandra's hair, grinning.

“And me?”

“When they need you, you will be there. You will know.”

And with that, the teacher went back up to the front of the classroom.

“You're not going to jump-scare me again at the end of this, are you?”

Chandra smiled. “No. There's no longer a need for that.”

“Good,” Al said.

With that, Chandra smiled again, and the dream faded and Al woke up. He lay awake for a few minutes, pondering the dream, before drifting off again.

~

The morning of the date, Sirius was reading the Daily Prophet at the table. Al noticed the headline, which read “Death at Azkaban: Bellatrix LeStrange, Death Eater.”

“Was she an especially infamous Death Eater, then? Or are deaths that infrequent at Azkaban?”

“A little of both. A lot of people do die from being around dementors too long, but it happens infrequently enough to be newsworthy. Peter's death was in the papers, too.” Sirius sighed heavily.

“Something wrong?”

“Nothing. It's just... well, Bellatrix was a cousin of mine. I hated her, but she was a fellow Black. I wonder if this means I inherit her vault at Gringott's, or if it goes to Rudolphus.”

“Who's Rudolphus?”

“Bellatrix's husband, Rudolphus LeStrange. Yeah, probably goes to him, even though he's in Azkaban, too. Well, something to look into, anyway.” He set the paper down. “Sit down, I'll make you breakfast.”

“Er...”

“Not to worry, Al. I've been practicing, I can make scrambled eggs and toast and sausages without burning anything now! Isn't that cool?”

“Yeah, it is. Okay, then.”

Al sat down and took over reading the paper from Sirius, as Sirius got out eggs and sausage patties. He cooked the sausage first, because they make their own grease, which is useful for cooking the eggs in.

“You want any veggies in your scrambled eggs? I can chop onions and other veggies. I have onions, fresh spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers.”

“Jalapeños? Cool. I'll have the lot of it, minus the bell peppers.”

“Great,” Sirius said, and used his wand to get the veggies out of the fridge and set the knife to chopping things up while he kept an eye on the sausages.

Al read the paper. “Is it weird that two people in Azkaban died in the same summer?”

“Yeah, a little. Especially weird that Bellatrix died. She was so proud to go to prison for trying to find Voldemort, I'd have thought it would keep her alive. You know, the hope of seeing her master again. But then, it has been 13 years. Maybe she gave up hope.”

Al sniffed the air. “The sausages are burning.”

“They are? Damn. Oh well, so they're slightly decorated on that side. Ah... there we are now, got 'em flipped over.”

“Oh god, Sirius, did you have to cut the onions so soon?” Al said, his eyes burning with the smell.

“Sorry about that, Al. Fresh onions, you know.”

“When did you go to the store?”

“You were here yesterday when I said I was going to the local Tesco, remember?”

“What? Oh yeah, I recall now.”

“Anyway, I was thinking about starting a garden after you go to school. It'll give me something to do while you're away.”

“I know you don't need the money, Sirius, but maybe you should get a job, too, to keep you busy.”

“Dunno what I'd do. I was studying to be an auror during the last war, but I don't trust the Ministry anymore. And I don't know what else I could do.”

“Motorcycle repair? You'd be pretty good at that.”

Sirius barked with laughter. “Good idea, pup. I'd be faster than most at it, too. There are some things I could use magic on without there being any sign of magic on the bike after the Muggle got it back. Also, I could advertise in the Prophet, in case there are any other wizarding motorcycle enthusiasts in Britain. So yeah, I think I'll look into that.”

“You're not going to stop practicing cooking while I'm gone, are you?”

“Nope. Quite apart from wanting to become an expert by the next holidays, I'm getting kinda tired of takeout myself. Anyway, I got myself some cookbooks recently. Next thing I'm gonna try out is stir-fry.”

“That's Chinese, right?”

“It sure is. Ah, the sausage is done. Now for the eggs. Lemme just put the veggies in first...”

A few minutes later, Al was chomping at the bit with hunger, from the delicious smells from the scrambled eggs with veggies. Sirius floated the large frying pan over to the table, and tipped some eggs onto Al's plate. He tipped the rest onto his own plate, put the frying pan in the sink, and floated over the plate of sausages.

“Plate's got a warming charm on it, so don't worry about cold patties.”

Al took a big bite of sausage, and started to cough. He swallowed, though, and grabbed for his orange juice, taking big gulps.

“You alright? Oh, sorry, forgot to mention the sausage is hot. I know you like hot stuff. I, er... I have mild, too, if you'd rather--”

“No, it's okay,” Al said with a sore throat. “I just would've appreciated some warning.”

“Sorry about that.”

Al waved his concern off. “It's fine. Don't worry about it.”

Now properly warned, Al was able to focus on eating. Before he did, though, he got up and got himself a glass of chocolate milk, and took some toast off the plate, since these were both good things to use with burn from spicy foods.

The rest of the morning was an agony of waiting. His “date” with Javier wasn't until 1 pm, when he'd be coming over to Al's home before they went on to the Chinese place. Al tried to read, but couldn't focus. He tried drawing, but again couldn't focus. He ended up going to the dueling room and shooting spells at the dummies, improving his speed and accuracy. But even here, his mind wandered. He wondered how good a duelist Javier was, what it would be like dueling him. Al wondered, too, if he could restart the dueling club, under a competent teacher this time. With what he knew about the prophecy and Voldemort, it would pay off to be as good a duelist as possible.

Finally, though, one o'clock rolled around, and Javier and his mother came through the Floo into the little warded area. Al ran over and opened the wards to let them through.

“Javier! Hi! And hello, Mrs. Mendoza.”

“Hello to you too, Alastair,” she said, smiling.

Javier smiled shyly. Al could feel the anxiety radiating from him without looking. Looking, it was even more obvious.

“You nervous?”

“Yeah,” Javier admitted. “Never eaten anything foreign before.”

“My Javier is a rather picky eater. He likes eating the same things a lot. Grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for lunch, eggs over medium with toast and mild sausage links for breakfast, and he prefers dinners with lots of veggies in them.”

“Well you ought to love Chinese food,” Al said. “It's not dinnertime, sure, but Chinese food has lots of fresh vegetables in it. I like vegetables, too. What kinds do you like?”

“Lots of kinds. I especially love broccoli.”

“Ah, then you'll probably want the beef and broccoli, that's a good one.”

Before long, the four of them were heading out the building and walking to the restaurant. Al and Javier talked all the way. At first, Javier didn't say much, but when Al ran out of things to say and brought up the topic of Artificers, Javier's face lit up and he started going on at length about his passion. And Al was honestly impressed at how much the boy, only 13, knew about the craft he was going into. Javier had, apparently, even gone as far as to make some simple devices, which was N.E.W.T. level work.

“And then,” Javier continued, “mama showed it to someone she knew, who showed it to someone else, a man who's a master Artificer himself, and he said if I keep up the good work, that I can become his apprentice after I graduate Hogwarts! It's so exciting! I can hardly wait!”

“Wow. That's really amazing. Sounds like you've got your future planned out already.” He couldn't help feeling a little weird about that, though, when thoughts of Voldemort came into his head. If the prophecy Dumbledore had told them about was true, then he'd have to kill Voldemort, or else be killed. And that suggested to Al that he would be coming back to full power. A suggestion enhanced by that dream they'd had.

Javier was completely oblivious to Al's brief change of mood, though. He just kept talking on. But then he had to stop, because they were there, and sitting down. Al went through the options on the menu with Javier, but the younger boy had latched onto the idea of beef and broccoli so hard that he couldn't be dissuaded from that path. So, smiling, Al finally gave up and focused on trying to decide what he wanted. He ended up deciding on Kung Pao Shrimp.

Despite Javier's insistence on beef and broccoli, Al did manage to get him to try a bite of Kung Pao Shrimp, warning him first that it was hot. He laughed, in the exact same manner Sirius did, when Javier found out with a shock that Al hadn't been kidding when he'd said it was very spicy, and handed Javier some milk to wash out the heat with.

Al had been worried that Javier was only capable of talking about his passions, but he did manage to get him talking about himself, by sharing some personal info of his own. Which wasn't easy to do, with all the questions Javier had about the collective. (Al still hadn't finished his longer letter. At this rate, he'd have to hand it to Javier in the hall at school.)

Among other things, he found that Javier had a cat; it was half Siamese, and half kneazle, and was named Legolas. Javier was also, according to him, hopeless at dueling. Al pounced on this as an opportunity to spend more time with his new friend, offering to help him out with dueling. He also found out that Javier was ambidextrous; he proved it to Al by writing on the back of a paper place-mat first with one hand, then with the other, then both at once. It took a lot of concentration, that last, and the going was slow, but he did it nonetheless.

There was something else, as well. Alastair was picking up on something... unusual... about his friend. Javier didn't make eye contact very much. Usually he would look off at something else, like his hands, or off into space. And whenever their eyes did meet, Javier's would look away within a couple seconds, or would look somewhere near Al's eyes, but never quite all the way for long. What was more, the tone of his voice was often slightly off. Sometimes he'd speak a little too loudly, other times so quietly he could barely be heard. And Javier didn't quite speak in a monotone most of the time, but it very close to a monotone. It reminded Al of the times Hermione would read passages she'd memorized from books.

Al was starting to see why this boy had a hard time making friends. None of these things bothered Al, though. They intrigued him. He'd never met anyone quite like Javier, to his knowledge. He reminded Al most strongly of Hermione, but even she spoke more naturally than Javier, and nobody could put as much exasperation, frustration, or amused annoyance in their voice as Hermione could. Nobody Al had met, anyway. Still, the similarities were striking. Hermione had a tendency to info-dump the way Javier did, though she was better at knowing when to stop. But if you made it clear you were listening to her, she could go on at length about her passions, just like Javier.

“Oh, did you hear that Professor Binns isn't going to be the History of Magic teacher anymore?” Javier asked him.

“Yeah, I did. Professor Lupin is taking over the position.”

“Oh. So we're getting another new Defense teacher?”

“Yeah. There's a curse on the position. If Lupin hadn't quit that position and gone to History, who knows what could have happened to him. One of them, Professor Quirrell, actually died.”

“I heard about that from some of the other students. They weren't telling me, I just happened to overhear it, but yeah. Anyway, who do you reckon the new Defense teacher will be?”

“Hope it's Snape. Then he might be gone by the end of the year.”

“Or he might just switch back to Potions at the end of the year.”

“There is that possibility, I suppose. Anyway, I don't know anyone else. Though... Sirius keeps mentioning his old mentor, Mad-Eye Moody. And... oh, that reminds me; I told you I found out I was a seer, remember?”

“Yeah. What about it?”

“Well that vision had in it the words 'constant vigilance,' which is apparently something Moody says a lot. And since the vision was about this coming school year, I wonder if Moody might be the new Defense teacher.”

“Mad-Eye Moody? What's he like?”

“I don't know, really. You'd have to ask Sirius. All I know is he's a retired auror, and he's a little paranoid.”

“So what did the vision say? Or did it have words?”

Chalice of wood, flame within,” he began reciting from memory, “A toad will cow you with a grin. Sherry bottles litter the floor, hidden in a secret store. At Christmas time, a formal dance; beware despair, constant vigilance...

A thoughtful look came over Javier's face for a few minutes. Then he snapped out of it. “Cryptic,” he said. “Wonder what it all means?”

“Me too. But apparently there is going to be a formal dance at Christmas time for some reason, so Sirius got me some formal robes for that. Plus, they were on our Hogwarts list.”

“Oh yeah, I saw that too. Mum got me some. They're forest green with silver lining.”

“Slytherin colors, eh? Mrs. Weasley helped pick out mine. She wasn't sure what to get us, since we each look different, but in the end she went with satiny black robes for me. She said if one of the girls goes instead of me, we can buy something at Hogsmeade, or have Zoey transform something for us.”

“Cool. Any chance I could meet the others soon?”

“Sure. Not today, though. If I can, I'd like to finish that letter and let you read it before I introduce you to to the others. But the way we sometimes change randomly, you might run into them. Do you know what they look like?”

Javier nodded. “Yeah, I've seen them about. Which one is the redhead with hazel eyes?”

“That's Iliana. Iliana Evanna Potter.”

“And the one who used to be called Harry, that's Adira?”

“Yes. Adira Lily Potter.”

“Cool. Who else is there?”

“Zoey Potter is the only other one with her own appearance. She's six years old and looks it. Has one green eye and one hazel eye, and her hair is black. You might meet Tier, too. He doesn't have his own appearance; he makes modifications to whatever form the body was in before he switched. Most of the modifications aren't visible, usually.”

“Nifty.”

Al jumped with a start, because he'd felt his hand start to move of its own accord. Or rather, Tier's accord. It was writing something on the back of his own place-mat. Javier watched along with Al, but with fascination to contrast Al's shocked and annoyed expression.

“'Hello, friend of Alastair. My name is Tier,'” Javier read out. “Wow, so they can all hear what we're saying when we talk?”

“Er, yeah. And see what I'm seeing, and feel whatever my skin feels. We're all plugged into all the senses all the time. But I can say from experience it feels different being in the background. Like things are a little muted, kinda, since they're being filtered through someone else's consciousness first.”

“Amazing. Hello there, Tier,” he said, addressing the paper instead of Al's face.

Tier wrote Hello again, friend of Alastair. Are you experiencing enjoyment with your outing?

“Yes, I am, Tier. Wow, this is nifty.”

“It's bloody weird, is what it is. I've never heard Tier say so much as a single word inside our head. I mean, I knew he could talk. When he's got control of the body, he sometimes manages to force out some words, but it's like getting blood out of a stone. He's more eloquent than I thought he was.”

I have a great many surprises in store for you, doubtless, Tier wrote. I am unsure as to why my words in the shared internal space never appear, nor why I struggle to speak in my version of the body. But I assure you, I am not unintelligent. Just because I am bestial does not mean I am a beast.

“Huh,” Al said. “I guess Chandra really was teaching Tier to write in that dream.”

“Chandra? Who's that?”

“It's a boy who only appears in these dreams we keep having. He's got Indian heritage, I think. India Indian, not Amerindian, though he does have an American accent. I'm starting to think he's a new member of the collective. Well, new to us anyway. To hear him tell it, he's been around the whole time, quietly watching without being detected by any of the rest of us.”

“Wow, a new person to meet. Being friends with you is like a six-in-one deal! Which isn't why I wanted to be friends, but it's a plus.”

{...hello?} Al heard in his head.

Who's that?

{...me...me... Hello? Are you...ing...e?}

Whoever you are, you're cutting out, like a radio with bad reception.

{...ier... BLAST! ...ing th... Scheiße! …} Al then heard banging noises, like someone hitting a radio. {Can you hear me now?}

Er, yes. Who are you?

{I am Tier, of course. It would appear I have somehow managed to fix the communication problem.}

Tier? Wow. Three years of silence from you in here, and then Chandra teaches you to write in a dream, and suddenly you're talking in here?

{Silly person. He did not teach me to write. I already knew how. It was symbolic; it represented him transferring something else into my person, a general ability to communicate where it was not there before. It will not be easy. I do not think I will be able to speak aloud yet, but at least now I can be heard at long last!} Al could hear Tier laughing with relief, internally.

Was that you banging on something?

{That banging sound? That was not me.}

Ugh. Let me guess, Chandra?

{I believe so.}

“Huh,” Al said. “Well, it would appear something Chandra did during that last dream is affecting repairs to Tier's communication ability. He's finally able to speak in our head, to us.”

“So does that mean you're right? Chandra is a member of your collective?”

“Apparently so.”

“But he hasn't come out yet?”

“Nope, not yet. Dunno if he will or not.”

“Neat. I just hope he doesn't pop up now, I don't want our time together curtailed.”

“Me neither.”

Javier grinned bashfully and put his hand on Al's. Al felt his heart racing at this simple gesture. He put his other hand on Javier's. The two boys looked each other in the eye. Javier held Al's gaze for a surprisingly long time before looking away, his face turning red.

Al saw an image in his mind's eye, sent to him by Tier, of a calm ocean suddenly erupting into a large wave and crashing against a rock. Not knowing quite what to make of this image, he ignored it.

Sirius watched Al and his new friend surreptitiously from across the room as he made idle chit-chat with Martina. It was interesting to him how someone like Al could take to someone else so quickly and so powerfully, but he was glad for his... godson? He supposed that was the right term for Al.

“They look like they're having a good time,” Martina said to him.

“That they do.” He sighed. “Something as simple as holding hands, and they're that happy.”

Something in his voice clued her in on his mood. “You're a handsome man, Sirius, you will find someone to be with.”

“Yeah. But it's not going to be easy, having spent 12 years in prison for a crime I didn't commit. Everyone knows I'm innocent now, but still...”

“Just don't give up hope.”

“I won't. If anything, those two give me hope.”

“Amen to that. I am so glad Javier is making a friend that I don't even mind that he's already dating at 13. I'm just happy that he's happy.”

Sirius nodded absentmindedly.

*

They all went back to the flat after dinner, and instead of Javier going home right away, he and Al spent time talking in the drawing room for several hours. Then they went to the Dueling Room and tried dueling. Javier, intelligent as he was, was horrible at dueling. Truly terrible. He couldn't do a shield charm at all, and half the time he froze, not able to think of a jinx to cast. When he did think of one to cast, he didn't duck or dodge and got hit before he could finish casting his own jinx. But he kept wanting to try, kept getting back up. The one time he managed to hit Al with a jinx, it was a complete accident; he'd tripped on a loose nail and fell out of the way of Al's jinx mid-cast, finished casting on the way down, and even then, the spell barely touched Al's left arm.

“Well,” Al said, “that wasn't the worst I've ever seen. The worst I've ever seen was Lockhart, who tried casting a shield charm and dropped his wand. But you win second worst place, Javier.”

“Sorry. I just... I can't think under pressure.”

“You're just not used to this kind of magic. We'll have to get you used to it. Listen, I'm gonna ask Dumbledore if we can restart the Dueling Club with a competent teacher. If he says yes, you should join up. You could sure use the practice.”

“Okay, I think I will, if only to spend more time with you this year.”

“Heh, yeah. Between us being in different years, and me being several people in one body, that's gonna put a real crimp in our relationship. But we'll manage.”

“Javier?” his mother said from the doorway. “It's getting late, sweetheart. We need to go home.”

“Okay, mum.” He turned to Al and sighed. “Well, I guess I'll see you on Monday, on the school train.”

“I'll see if we can meet up before the train, maybe go to the station together, so we can be sure to get a compartment together. Then I can introduce you to Ron and Hermione.”

“Cool! I usually end up shoved into the corner ignored by everyone else. Maybe this time will be different.”

“It will be different, because I'm not going to ignore you. And no matter who I wake up as tomorrow or Monday, if I have to strong-arm Zoey into switching me back to the front for the train, I will.”

Javier smiled. “Cool! Thank you.”

“Javier,” his mother said in a reminding tone.

The two boys hugged briefly, then Al guided Javier back to the Floo.

“Sirius? Mrs. Mendoza?” Al said. “Can we meet up together here on Monday and go to the train together?”

“Fine by me,” Sirius said. “Martina?”

“I'll ask my husband, and send you an owl with his response.”

The boys smiled. This out of the way, they said their final goodbyes, and Al watched them leave through the green flames of the Floo. He stood there staring for a few moments, then went back to his room to try to distract himself with more school preparations.

*

As mixed luck would have it, Mr. Mendoza did not agree to meeting up at Sirius's flat, but Al was still Out, and they met before the train left. Javier stuck his head out a window of the train to wave at Al. Al waved back, and took his stuff down the train corridor to the compartment Javier had found for them.

They sat together waiting for the train to board, Al keeping most people out of the compartment.

“Hermione, over here!”

“Al?”

“Yep, it's me.”

“Oh good, you found us a compart--- oh hello, who's this?”

“Hermione Granger, meet my new friend and possible boyfriend, Javier Mendoza.”

Javier held out his hand. Hermione took it and smiled. “Nice to meet you, Javier. I'm sure I'll want to hear all about you two, but first I have to put my stuff away.” Then she put her trunk away and sat down on Javier's other side.

As the train began to move, and heavy rain began to hit the window panes, they heard a small ruckus at the door. Ron was struggling to get his trunk and owl cage and his owl Arnan into the compartment. The cage was covered with an ugly maroon piece of cloth, with moldy lace on it.

“Hey Ron,” Al said. “What's that?”

“Oh, Arnan was getting upset, so I covered his cage with my... with the dress robes mum got me. Hideous things, I hate them.”

“Well maybe Zoey can do something about them later.”

“Really? That'd be a huge help.”

Ron finally looked up and spotted Javier.

“Who're you?”

“Ron, this is my new friend and possible boyfriend, Javier.”

“Boyfriend? You, er... you're...?”

“Bisexual. I think. Not entirely sure yet.”

“Ah, okay. Wait... when you say 'your' boyfriend...?”

“Mine. Al's. Nobody else's.”

“Right. Gotcha. Hi, Javier.”

Javier waved shyly. “Hi Ron.”

Hermione beamed. “So tell me about yourself, Javier. What House are you in? How did you two meet? And did you say boyfriend, Al?”

“Yes. Well, we're still getting to know one another, but we're both smitten with each other, so yeah, by the end of the week I'll probably be calling him my boyfriend for sure.”

Hermione nodded, waiting for him to continue.

“We met less than a week ago, but he'd had his eye on me for a long time before we met. When I first saw him, I was gaga over him.”

Hermione giggled. “Love at first sight?”

Al blushed. “Maybe. Certainly fancying at first sight, at least. Anyway, we met in Diagon Alley. At Flourish and Blott's, specifically.”

Ron snorted. “Figures you'd meet someone in a book shop, Al. Anyway, what House're you in, Javier?”

Javier blushed, looking down at his feet.

“He's Slytherin. And he's half-blood, not a blood bigot. If you don't like it, Ron, tough luck.”

“Oy, I never said anything!”

“Yeah, but you hate Slytherins on principle. But a whole House full of kids can't all be bad, or even most of them.”

“Alright, alright, keep your hair on. Anyway, if you trust him, I do too. I know you're an excellent judge of character.” Ron held a hand out to Javier. “Ron Weasley.”

Javier took Ron's hand with a smile. “Javier Mendoza.”

When Ron took his hand back and settled down, he turned to Al. “Hey Al, you won't believe what happened this morning! Dad had to go out to work early because Mad-Eye Moody got into some legal trouble. Something about dustbins rocketing around spewing garbage. Mad-Eye says an intruder set them off. Dad's gonna try getting him off on a lesser charge. Had to, apparently; Mad-Eye is starting some new job soon.”

“Weird. I hear he's kinda paranoid,” Al said.

Ron snorted. “That's putting it lightly. Anyway, Al, you should've heard my family talking a little bit ago. There's gonna be something going on at Hogwart's this year. No idea what it is, though.”

“Oh, do you mean the Triwizard Tournament?” Javier asked.

Ron blinked at him. “Er... do I? I dunno. What is it?”

“Oooh,” said Hermione. “The Triwizard Tournament? I read about that in 'Hogwarts: A History.' It's when the three major magic schools of Europe – Hogwarts, Beauxbaton, and Durmstrang – used to come together every few years to compete against each other. They stopped doing it a long time ago, because of all the deaths.”

“Yeah, that's the one,” Javier said. “My mum found out they're doing it again for the first time in ages this year. They've changed some of the rules, though, to make it safer. Dunno how, exactly. Guess we'll find out later.”

“Shhh,” Hermione warned gesturing toward the compartment next to theirs. Everyone present began to listen, and heard a familiar voice drawling in through the still-open door.

“… Father actually considered sending me to Durmstrang rather than Hogwarts, you know. He knows the headmaster, you see. Well, you know his opinion of Dumbledore — the man’s such a Mudblood-lover — and Durmstrang doesn’t admit that sort of riffraff. But Mother didn’t like the idea of me going to school so far away. Father says Durmstrang takes a far more sensible line than Hogwarts about the Dark Arts. Durmstrang students actually learn them, not just the defense rubbish we do. …”

Hermione got up, tiptoed to the compartment door, and slid it shut, blocking out Malfoy’s voice.

“So he thinks Durmstrang would have suited him, does he?” she said angrily. “I wish he had gone, then we wouldn’t have to put up with him.”

“So where is this Durmstrang?” Al asked, absentmindedly popping his wand in and out of its wrist holster.

“Nobody knows, do they?” said Hermione, raising her eyebrows.

“Er — why not?” asked Al.

“There’s traditionally been a lot of rivalry between all the magic schools. Durmstrang and Beauxbatons like to conceal their whereabouts so nobody can steal their secrets,” said Hermione matter-of-factly.

“Come off it,” said Ron, starting to laugh. “Durmstrang’s got to be about the same size as Hogwarts — how are you going to hide a great big castle?”

“But Hogwarts is hidden,” said Hermione, in surprise. “Everyone knows that … well, everyone who’s read Hogwarts, A History, anyway.”

“Just you, then,” said Ron. “So go on — how d’you hide a place like Hogwarts?”

“It’s bewitched,” said Hermione. “If a Muggle looks at it, all they see is a moldering old ruin with a sign over the entrance saying DANGER, DO NOT ENTER, UNSAFE.”

“So Durmstrang’ll just look like a ruin to an outsider too?”

“Maybe,” said Hermione, shrugging, “or it might have Muggle-repelling charms on it, like the World Cup stadium. And to keep foreign wizards from finding it, they’ll have made it Unplottable —”

“Come again?”

“Well, you can enchant a building so it’s impossible to plot on a map, can’t you?”

Al snorted. “Are you forgetting the Marauder's Map? Kinda disproves your theory.”

“Not at all. The Map doesn't show where Hogwarts is, just what the inside looks like. I don't think it even shows how far it is from Hogsmeade.”

“Oh. Damn, you're right. Hadn't thought of that.”

“But I think Durmstrang must be somewhere in the far north,” said Hermione thoughtfully. “Somewhere very cold, because they’ve got fur capes as part of their uniforms.”

“Ah, think of the possibilities,” said Ron dreamily. “It would’ve been so easy to push Malfoy off a glacier and make it look like an accident. … Shame his mother likes him.”

“Yeah, I don't like him either,” Javier said. “By the way, don't share my blood status too widely, I don't want Malfoy finding out if I can help it.”

“My lips are sealed,” Ron said.

As the rain got heavier, Luna came around to their compartment.

“Hi Luna.”

“Hello, Al.” She turned her protruberant eyes toward Javier. “Hello, stranger.”

“Luna Lovegood, meet Javier Mendoza.”

“He's Al's boyfriend,” Ron said teasingly, making smoochy noises after. Al glared at him but started cracking up with laughter.

Several of their friends looked in on them as the afternoon progressed, including Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, and Neville Longbottom, a round-faced, extremely forgetful boy who had been brought up by his formidable witch of a grandmother. Seamus was still wearing his Ireland rosette. Some of its magic seemed to be wearing off now; it was still squeaking “Troy — Mullet — Moran!” but in a very feeble and exhausted sort of way. After half an hour or so, Hermione, growing tired of the endless Quidditch talk, got into a discussion with Javier that led to him going on about Artificing.

Neville listened jealously to the others’ conversation as they relived the Cup match.

“Gran didn’t want to go,” he said miserably. “Wouldn’t buy tickets. It sounded amazing though.”

“It was,” said Ron. “Look at this, Neville. …”

He rummaged in his trunk up in the luggage rack and pulled out the miniature figure of Viktor Krum.

“Oh wow,” said Neville enviously as Ron tipped Krum onto his pudgy hand.

“We saw him right up close, as well,” said Ron. “We were in the Top Box —”

“For the first and last time in your life, Weasley.”

Draco Malfoy had appeared in the doorway. Behind him stood Crabbe and Goyle, his enormous, thuggish cronies, both of whom appeared to have grown at least a foot during the summer. Evidently they had overheard the conversation through the compartment door, which Dean and Seamus had left ajar.

Al glared at Draco. He was not in the mood for this.

“Weasley … what is that?” said Malfoy, pointing at Arnan’s cage. A sleeve of Ron’s dress robes was dangling from it, swaying with the motion of the train, the moldy lace cuff very obvious.

Ron made to stuff the robes out of sight, but Malfoy was too quick for him; he seized the sleeve and pulled.

“Look at this!” said Malfoy in ecstasy, holding up Ron’s robes and showing Crabbe and Goyle, “Weasley, you weren’t thinking of wearing these, were you? I mean — they were very fashionable in about eighteen ninety.”

“Eat dung, Malfoy!” said Ron, the same color as the dress robes as he snatched them back out of Malfoy’s grip. Malfoy howled with derisive laughter; Crabbe and Goyle guffawed stupidly.

“Those are just the base material, Malfoy. Zoey is going to transform them for him. Now why don't you leave before I have her turn your face into your arse? Or, hmm... no, I guess it's too late for that.”

Malfoy glared at Al. Then, looking around the compartment, his eyes landed on Javier.

“You! You're a Slytherin! What are you doing here with all these bloody Griffindors?”

Javier froze, unable to speak.

Malfoy sneered. “Oh yes, I remember you. You're that quiet weirdo, never looks anyone in the eyes.”

“Javier is my boyfriend, Draco, and if you don't leave now, I am going to hex your mouth and eyelids shut. Permanently.”

As he said that, he stood up, moved his hand up towards Malfoy's face, and popped his wand out of its holster so it stopped an inch from Malfoy's face, making the blond boy jerk back in shock.

“Or maybe I'll hit you with a Hair-Loss Hex?” Al said.

“F-fine, P-Potter, okay, we'll leave, we'll leave. Come on, you two,” he said, tugging on Crabbe's and Goyle's robes.

When the three of them were gone, Al sat back down.

“Cool holster, Al!” Dean said.

“Thanks. My godfather got it for me.”

“Sirius Black, you mean?”

“Yes.”

“Cool!”

Dean, Seamus, and Neville left not long after. Luna got out an issue of The Quibbler and read it. Hermione had gotten out a book to read. Ron was still upset about Malfoy's slight on his dress robes and was sulking. Al leaned up against Javier and closed his eyes.

“Boyfriend now already? Or were you just saying that to get at Malfoy?”

“A little of both. I know you well enough now to call you my boyfriend.”

“You know the whole school will know now, right?”

“I don't mind at all.”

“The famous Potter, scion of Griffindor, dating a Slytherin snake?”

“Well, I am a Parselmouth. It won't be too big a surprise at this point. And anyway, anyone who doesn't like it can kiss my arse.”

After a few moments of silence, Javier whispered into his ear, “The only one kissing your arse will be me.”

He tried to restrain his laughter, and failed. He let out a huge snort, then barked with laughter, then rolled up into a hearty belly-laugh. And then, because he didn't want to explain what Javier had said, he went back to controlling his laughter.

Hours later, Al woke up still leaning against Javier. As it turned out, Hermione had woken them up so everyone could change into their school robes; the train was nearing Hogsmeade. Groggily, he pulled his robes on over his other clothes and began heading off of the train, knowing the house elves would bring their stuff up to the room for them. He did notice Hermione grab her cat Crookshanks, though.

“Heya, Hagrid,” Al yelled at the man's silhouette so he'd be heard over the downpour of rain.

“All righ’, Al?” Hagrid bellowed back, waving. “See yeh at the feast if we don’ drown!”

First years traditionally reached Hogwarts Castle by sailing across the lake with Hagrid.

“Yeah, I'm glad I'm not doing that this year.”

They all piled into carriages fast as they could to get out of the rain. Javier and Al ended up squished up against Hermione and Ron.

“Didn't you say you have a cat?” Al asked Javier.

“Yes. Legolas. But he doesn't like traveling, so he's home.”

“Sounds like Bilbo would have been a better name,” Al said, laughing.

Javier laughed, too. So did Hermione. Ron and Neville just looked clueless.

“Legolas and Bilbo are characters in a novel called Lord of the Rings,” Al explained. “I have a copy, I'll have to loan it to you.”

“You have room in your trunk for novels?” Hermione said, amazed.

“Er, yeah. I have a new trunk. The old one was getting stuffed. The new one holds every book I own, all my school stuff, and all our assorted clothes with room to spare. It's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, and has four compartments.”

“Wow, Al, that must be really expensive.”

“Er, yeah. But better than having to leave most of my stuff behind. Mind you, I kept the old one in case anyone needs one.”

“You think I could use it, then, Al?” Ron said, clearly saying this against his pride. “Later, I mean. Mine is very old and not in great shape. Mum keeps repairing it with her wand, but the material itself is falling apart, so there's only so much she can do with it.”

“Sure, I can give it to you over the Christmas holidays.”

“Okay, sounds good.”

The carriage rolled to a halt, and they all got out and headed for the entrance, rushing inside. Even so, Al was wary of Malfoy getting revenge for earlier, so he got his main wand out and went in cautiously. This caution helped him, because he got to avoid a water-bomb Peeves threw at him and others. With his wand, he caught one of the water bombs in midair and sent it back to Peeves, who twirled out of the way, clutching his feet and laughing. He shot a spell he'd read about at Peeves, one designed to fight poltergeists, and Peeves flew away through a wall.

He and Javier hugged in the entrance hall before going into the Great Hall, since they were going to different tables. Even when he sat down, Al kept looking over his shoulder at his boyfriend.

The Great Hall looked its usual splendid self, decorated for the start-of-term feast. Golden plates and goblets gleamed by the light of hundreds and hundreds of candles, floating over the tables in midair. The four long House tables were packed with chattering students; at the top of the Hall, the staff sat along one side of a fifth table, facing their pupils. It was much warmer in here.

The three of them had sat down next to Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost. Pearly white and semitransparent, Nick was dressed tonight in his usual doublet, but with a particularly large ruff, which served the dual purpose of looking extra-festive, and insuring that his head didn’t wobble too much on his partially severed neck.

“Good evening,” he said, beaming at them.

“Says who?” said Ron, taking off his sneakers and emptying them of water. “Hope they hurry up with the Sorting. I’m starving.”

Just then, a highly excited, breathless voice called down the table.

“Hiya, Al!”

It was Colin Creevey, a third year to whom they were something of a hero.

“Hi, Colin,” said Al warily.

“Al, guess what? Guess what, Al? My brother’s starting! My brother Dennis!”

“Er — good,” said Al.

“He’s really excited!” said Colin, practically bouncing up and down in his seat. “I just hope he’s in Gryffindor! Keep your fingers crossed, eh, Al?”

“Er — yeah, all right,” said Al. He turned back to Hermione, Ron, and Nearly Headless Nick. “Brothers and sisters usually go in the same Houses, don’t they?” he said. He was judging by the Weasleys, all seven of whom had been put into Gryffindor.

“Oh no, not necessarily,” said Hermione. “Parvati Patil’s twin’s in Ravenclaw, and they’re identical. You’d think they’d be together, wouldn’t you?”

Al looked up at the high table, and smiled to see Lupin again, looking disheveled as always. There were empty spaces for Hagrid and the DADA teacher. McGonagall's seat was also empty.

“Where's the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?” asked Hermione, looking anxious. “Do you think they couldn't get one this year?”

“I reckon it's Mad-Eye Moody,” Al said nonchalantly.

Hermione, Ron, and the Weasley twins all stared at him.

“What makes you think that?” George asked.

“Between Ron saying Mad-Eye had a new job, and my vision at the end of last year, well... it makes sense.”

“Wow, I hope you're right. Moody sounds cool.”

Still groggy from his nap on the train, Al propped his head up on one elbow and stared in the direction of the Slytherin table. His mind vaguely noticed Malfoy spreading the news about him and Javier. He barely even noticed Javier, truthfully; he just wanted to eat and go to bed.

Bed. Private room. Invisibility cloak, he thought. He felt a delicious smile creep across his face at the thought. Not tonight, obviously, but... eventually.

Do I want to know?

Don't get your knickers in a twist, Addy, I'd only be snogging him. Nothing sexual.

Well, alright then, Adira answered back.

Al gave a start; someone had poked him in the side.

“What is it, Hermione?”

“You missed the Hat's song. Wake up or you'll miss the Sorting.”

“Meh,” he said. “Smart, Brave, Evil, or Miscellaneous. It's a stupid system.”

“Have it your way, then.”

“He's only saying that because he's tired,” Al felt Adira say with his mouth.

“Who was that?” Ron asked.

“Addy,” he said, his head sinking lower. “Gods, at this rate I'm gonna have to just hoover it all up and nap til everyone else finishes.”

“What does 'hoover it up' mean?” Ron asked.

Al put his head down into his folded arms and groaned.

“I'll explain it later,” Hermione told Ron.

Al must've nodded off during the Sorting, because soon Hermione was poking him awake again. His head shot up and he said, “I'm awake!”

Once the Sorting was over, the food appeared. It was all Al could do to keep himself awake enough to get food onto his plate and then into his mouth. He didn't pay any attention to the conversation, though he did jump and stare at Hermione after she spilled her drink. He'd get the recap on that later.

He continued to drift through Dumbledore's speech. The man was just about to explain why there was no Quidditch this year when there was a deafening roar of thunder and the door of the Great Hall banged open. This got his immediate attention; he was awake and alert and his wand was in his hand, pointing at the intruder.

A man stood in the doorway, leaning upon a long staff, shrouded in a black traveling cloak. Every head in the Great Hall swiveled toward the stranger, suddenly brightly illuminated by a fork of lightning that flashed across the ceiling. He lowered his hood, shook out a long mane of grizzled, dark gray hair, then began to walk up toward the teachers’ table.

A dull clunk echoed through the Hall on his every other step. He reached the end of the top table, turned right, and limped heavily toward Dumbledore. Another flash of lightning crossed the ceiling. Hermione gasped.

The lightning had thrown the man’s face into sharp relief, and it was a face unlike any Al had ever seen. It looked as though it had been carved out of weathered wood by someone who had only the vaguest idea of what human faces are supposed to look like, and was none too skilled with a chisel. Every inch of skin seemed to be scarred. The mouth looked like a diagonal gash, and a large chunk of the nose was missing. But it was the man’s eyes that made him frightening.

One of them was small, dark, and beady. The other was large, round as a coin, and a vivid, electric blue. The blue eye was moving ceaselessly, without blinking, and was rolling up, down, and from side to side, quite independently of the normal eye — and then it rolled right over, pointing into the back of the man’s head, so that all they could see was whiteness.

The stranger reached Dumbledore. He stretched out a hand that was as badly scarred as his face, and Dumbledore shook it, muttering words Al couldn’t hear. He seemed to be making some inquiry of the stranger, who shook his head unsmilingly and replied in an undertone. Dumbledore nodded and gestured the man to the empty seat on his right-hand side.

The stranger sat down, shook his mane of dark gray hair out of his face, pulled a plate of sausages toward him, raised it to what was left of his nose, and sniffed it. He then took a small knife out of his pocket, speared a sausage on the end of it, and began to eat. His normal eye was fixed upon the sausages, but the blue eye was still darting restlessly around in its socket, taking in the Hall and the students.

“May I introduce our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?” said Dumbledore brightly into the silence. “Professor Moody.”

It was usual for new staff members to be greeted with applause, but none of the staff or students clapped except Dumbledore and Hagrid, who both put their hands together and applauded, but the sound echoed dismally into the silence, and they stopped fairly quickly. Everyone else seemed too transfixed by Moody’s bizarre appearance to do more than stare at him.

“Ha! Al, you were right!”

Al had put his wand back, but stared at Moody. It was difficult from this distance, to get a heart-read on the man. He'd have to try again later.

“What happened to him?” Hermione whispered. “What happened to his face?”

“Dunno,” Ron whispered back, watching Moody with fascination.

Moody seemed totally indifferent to his less-than-warm welcome. Ignoring the jug of pumpkin juice in front of him, he reached again into his traveling cloak, pulled out a hip flask, and took a long draught from it. As he lifted his arm to drink, his cloak was pulled a few inches from the ground, and Al saw, below the table, several inches of carved wooden leg, ending in a clawed foot.

Dumbledore cleared his throat, and began to tell about the Triwizard Tournament. Of those near Al, only the Weasley twins were surprised by this announcement, thanks to Javier earlier.

“You gonna try out for the Tournament?” Ron asked.

“I'd rather have burning slivers of metal shoved under my fingernails while Malfoy sharpens a knife on my leg bones. There's enough danger in my life without adding more on purpose.”

“But they're making it safer! And there's glory and gold!”

“I have more than enough gold. I don't give a tinker's cuss about the glory. I'll tell you what, if you want to put your name in, I'll help you. But I would rather join Voldemort's side as a Death Eater than be in that bloody tournament.”

At every House table, Al could see people either gazing raptly at Dumbledore, or else whispering fervently to their neighbors. But then Dumbledore spoke again, and the Hall quieted once more.

“Eager though I know all of you will be to bring the Triwizard Cup to Hogwarts,” he said, “the heads of the participating schools, along with the Ministry of Magic, have agreed to impose an age restriction on contenders this year. Only students who are of age — that is to say, seventeen years or older — will be allowed to put forward their names for consideration. This” — Dumbledore raised his voice slightly, for several people had made noises of outrage at these words, and the Weasley twins were suddenly looking furious — “is a measure we feel is necessary, given that the tournament tasks will still be difficult and dangerous, whatever precautions we take, and it is highly unlikely that students below sixth and seventh year will be able to cope with them. I will personally be ensuring that no underage student hoodwinks our impartial judge into making them Hogwarts champion.” His light blue eyes twinkled as they flickered over Fred’s and George’s mutinous faces. “I therefore beg you not to waste your time submitting yourself if you are under seventeen.

“The delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang will be arriving in October and remaining with us for the greater part of this year. I know that you will all extend every courtesy to our foreign guests while they are with us, and will give your whole-hearted support to the Hogwarts champion when he or she is selected. And now, it is late, and I know how important it is to you all to be alert and rested as you enter your lessons tomorrow morning. Bedtime! Chop chop!”

“Ugh, October. I loathe October,” he said to Hermione as they stood up to leave. “Our parents died on Halloween, a troll was loose in the dungeons on Halloween our first year here, the Chamber of Secrets nonsense started on Halloween, and last year on Halloween, Sirius attacked the Fat Lady. So amend that: I hate Halloween. Maybe they'll get here early in October, and Halloween will be good this year. And maybe we'll all split off into our very own bodies and be somewhat normal for the rest of our days.” He sounded far less than optimistic about these things.

“Anyway, Ron, Dumbledore's right. I'm only 14. Sure, I'm a bit ahead of the curve, but I couldn't compete against 16 or 17 year olds.”

“Oh sure you could, you've done difficult and dangerous things before.”

“Not by choice. And like I said, I would rather become a Death Eater than be in that damned tournament. That isn't hyperbole, either. If fate finds some way to force me into that stupid thing, I'm gonna march right out the damn door, find Moldywart, and swear my allegiance to him.”

“You won't be able to get in without entering, Al.”

“With our luck, I wouldn't bet on that. You mark my words, I'm gonna end up getting roped into that shit-show against my will somehow. Maybe I should leave school now and get a private tutor instead.”

Ron laughed, clearly not convinced that Al was doomed to be forced into the Tournament.

“Who’s this impartial judge who’s going to decide who the champions are?” said George.

“Dunno,” said Fred, “but it’s them we’ll have to fool. I reckon a couple of drops of Aging Potion might do it, George. …”

“Dumbledore knows you’re not of age, though,” said Ron.

“Yeah, but he’s not the one who decides who the champion is, is he?” said Fred shrewdly. “Sounds to me like once this judge knows who wants to enter, he’ll choose the best from each school and never mind how old they are. Dumbledore’s trying to stop us giving our names.”

“People have died, though!” said Hermione in a worried voice as they walked through a door concealed behind a tapestry and started up another, narrower staircase.

“Yeah,” said Fred airily, “but that was years ago, wasn’t it? Anyway, where’s the fun without a bit of risk? Hey, Ron, what if we find out how to get ’round Dumbledore? Fancy entering?”

“Sure. Be cool to enter, wouldn’t it? But I s’pose they might want someone older. … Dunno if we’ve learned enough. …”

“I definitely haven’t,” came Neville’s gloomy voice from behind Fred and George.

“I expect my gran’d want me to try, though. She’s always going on about how I should be upholding the family honor. I’ll just have to — oops. …”

Neville’s foot had sunk right through a step halfway up the staircase. There were many of these trick stairs at Hogwarts; it was second nature to most of the older students to jump this particular step, but Neville’s memory was notoriously poor. Al and Ron seized him under the armpits and pulled him out, while a suit of armor at the top of the stairs creaked and clanked, laughing wheezily.

“If you ask me, Neville,” Al said, “your gran ought to be proud of the grandson she has, not the one she wants.”

“Oh. Er... thanks.”

“That reminds me, didn't you say you use your dad's wand?”

“Y-yeah. Why?”

“Because the wand chooses the wizard, Ollivander said. That thing is probably holding you back. You should get a new wand at Ollivander's. You can come with me and Sirius sometime, if your gran won't come with you. I must've tried every wand in the shop before I found the one for me, so I really doubt that wand is suited to you. Why are you using it anyway? It looks brand new. Shouldn't your dad be using it, still?”

“He can't anymore,” Neville said quietly.

“Oh. Sorry about that, I didn't know. But I mean it, you need your own wand.”

Neville shrugged. “Yeah, maybe. I guess it's worth a try.”

They made their way up to the entrance to Gryffindor Tower, which was concealed behind a large portrait of a fat lady in a pink silk dress.

“Password?” she said as they approached.

“Balderdash,” said George, “a prefect downstairs told me.”

The portrait swung forward to reveal a hole in the wall through which they all climbed. A crackling fire warmed the circular common room, which was full of squashy armchairs and tables. Hermione cast the merrily dancing flames a dark look, and Al distinctly heard her mutter “Slave labor,” before bidding them good night and disappearing through the doorway to the girls’ dormitory. He was really gonna have to ask what that was all about, later.

Before long, he was in his bedroom. He tore his clothes off, opened his trunk, pulled on his pajamas, and fell into bed. He was asleep before he was all the way down.

Note: “Javier” is pronounced Hahv-ee-air, “Joaquin” is pronounced Wah-keen. (Joaquin is also Spanish for Phoenix.) Pronunciation of “Mendoza” is pretty easy to figure out. Anyway yeah, my tendency to make Good Slytherin OC's has bled over from the Aspie Potter/Trouble With Neurotypicals fic over to this one. I always hated how Rowling treated the Slytherins in the books.

Note two: Dunno if there's a street called Square Way in London or not, but then again, I doubt there's a Grimmauld Place there or a Little Whinging in Surrey, either.

Note three: Yes, I made up Sirius's wand. The wikia says his wand details are unknown. I went with the existing theme. :-)



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