|Preceded by: |
|Dark Secrets||Succeded by: |
The Silver Doe
Chapter One - Letters
Tonight was my last night of being ten. Tomorrow, when I woke up I would be eleven. A shiver of excitement ran down my spine.
It was not the usual excitement, I was not wondering whether I would get a new game, or clothes or a guitar. I was wondering whether a certain letter would be sitting on the doorstep, just waiting for me to jump out of bed, run downstairs and discover it. I had not yet shown any signs of being a witch, but neither had my mother and she had still got it. In fact, the same letter had been sent to every member of my family for generations, both the Frost’s and the Star’s. It would be weird if I didn’t get it too, when my big sister, Fern had.
A floorboard creaked and I jumped, clutching my duvet. When the steps continued past my door, I realized that it was just my father, retreating to his bedroom. I yawned and glanced at the clock that was sitting on my bedside table. It was only have an hour until I was eleven. I would stay awake until then.
I rolled over onto my side, throwing the cushions that had been propping me up to the end of my bed. The curtains were open hanging limply at either side of the window. I stared outside into the night.
The sky was like a midnight blue quilt, speckled with tiny, silver gold spots. The moon was full and it shed its icy light which shone through my window and pooled over my bed. I had always been fascinated by the moon and its magical ways. I knew it was connected with werewolves, and I wondered about them too. A lot of people in the magical community disapproved of them, but I didn’t see why. How was it their fault that they turned into animals every month? I wondered vaguely if there would be any werewolves at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I didn’t have much time to think about it though, because the clock clicked forwards. It was twelve O’clock and I was now eleven. But I was also exhausted, so I snuggled under my bed-sheets. Sleep lapped over me in a wave.
My dreams were a muddle of letters, a school for witches and wizards, werewolves and full moons.
Sunshine streamed through my window. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and sat up.
Birds chirped noisily outside and there was not even a breeze to stir the greenery. A perfect summer’s day. It was only when I heard footsteps outside of my room that I remembered. I was eleven!
Pulling back the covers, I leaped out of my bed and jammed my feet into a pair of slippers. I streaked across to my door, yanked it open, ran across the landing and raced down the stairs.
A load of letters lay waiting on the doormat. I turned them over, my fingers trembling with excitement. But my excitement soon died as I saw who they were addressed to.
One was for Mr. J. Frost, my father, the second for Mrs. E. Frost and the third was addressed to Miss. F. Frost, and it was clearly a list of things my sister would need this year at Hogwarts.
There was a load of letters for me, but they were all in pastel pink of purple envelops, and were most definitely Birthday cards. A squashy parcel also lay nearest to the door, but I already knew that it was another knitted jumper from Granny Star. There were no thick envelopes with red seals and swirly handwriting.
I was so disappointed, I felt like crying. A lump caught in my throat, too big to swallow. I had had my hopes so high, my dream being to work with magical creatures or to be a Herbology teacher, but now all of that was ruined. I wasn’t magic, I was a Squib. My mother and father would be so disappointed after having a perfect daughter like, Fern.
“Happy Birthday, Rowan!”
I jumped, turning to see Fern at the top of the staircase. She was wearing a blue nightdress, her bare arms a lovely golden honey colour, and was looking down at me with sparkling green eyes. Her ginger hair flew out behind her as she launched herself down the stairs, and then rested down her back in silky waves. I looked down at my papery white skin and frizzy ginger hair.
“Hey, Fern,” I mumbled. Fern peered over my shoulder to see what I was holding.
“Any for you?” she asked. I stared blankly at the Birthday cards in my hands, but I knew that wasn’t what Fern meant. She was asking if I had been sent any letters inviting me to Hogwarts.
“No,” I croaked, standing up. I handed the letter addressed to Miss. F. Frost to Fern. “Here.” Fern gave me a sympathetic look, taking her letter.
“The owl probably just got lost,” she told me. “They get a bit confused sometimes.”
“Yeah right,” I snapped. “How come you got that?” Fern did not answer, but instead opened the door to the kitchen. Picking up my cards and parcel, I followed.
As soon as I walked in, Mum threw herself at me and hugged me tightly. I gave a tiny gasp, surprised.
“Happy Birthday, Rowan!” she cried. “Here, come and open your presents!” I sighed, sitting down at the table.
While Mum was fumbling about in a high up kitchen cupboard, Fern opened her letter. I watched as her eyes scanned the page and her mouth opened and closed so that she looked like a goldfish.
“I’m a prefect!” Fern screamed suddenly, so loudly that I nearly fell from my chair. I felt my eyes prick, the lump in my throat growing bigger. Mum and Dad would be so unhappy if I told them I was a Squib now that their other daughter was a prefect at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Gulping, I decided not to tell my parents that I had not been sent the letter, and if they asked to see it, I would say that I had lost it.
“That’s brilliant, darling!” my mother exclaimed. “I’m so proud!” Mum dumped a large pile of presents onto the table beside my cards and parcel for Granny Star. “These are from me and your father,” she told me, separating three objects from the pile.
“Thanks,” I told her, pulling a tall rectangular present towards me. It, like the other two, was covered in deep purple paper. I ripped it open and found, to my greatest disappointment, two books. A, Transfiguration for Beginners and a Book of Easy Potions. I stared at them for a while, trying to look delighted, while silently hoping that the other presents weren’t magic related.
I opened the other two.
One was a dark, shiny wand, the other a broomstick. I managed a tiny gasp before I had to push them away.
“I love them!” I told Mum quietly. I pulled the other presents closer. Deciding that Granny Star's would be the safest, as it was probably another red knitted jumper, I began to open it.
Instead of the usual jumper were some neatly folded Hogwarts robes. There were shoved to the very end of the table as I could not bear to be reminded that I would not be attentding Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
There were only two more presents to open now. A box shaped parcel and a flat paper-like thing hidden in silver wrapping. They couldn't be too bad.
I opened the paper-like present and found, to my biggest surprise, a large picture of a pale grey owl. Attached to it was a note that read;
I smiled at this one, for maybe I could have a pet owl even if I was not magic.
The next parcel turned out to be an art set. It was full of feather quills, multi-coloured inks, bits of thick parchment and invisibility ink. It was from Aunt Violet, and I knew I would have fun with it. Writing stories was what I did.
“Look Mum,” I said, handing her the art-set and the owl picture. Mum studied them and then smiled down at me.
“You’ll get a lot of use out of those,” she told me. “Why don’t you and Fern go and get dressed so that I can put breakfast on?” I nodded, scooped up my presents and walked outside, Fern was following close behind.
As soon as I closed the kitchen door, she hugged me.
“I’m sorry, Rowan,” she whispered into my frizz of ginger hair. “I should have told Mum and Dad not to get you magical presents.” My eyes pricked again, and this time, I could feel the tears welling.
“It’s okay, Fern,” I murmured. “It doesn’t matter. And please don’t tell anybody that I am a Squib.” Fern pushed me an arms length away. I stared at the face in front of me with the honey skin, the green eyes, the perfect features and the beautiful hair.
“You can’t not tell anybody, Rowan,” She told me firmly. “What about when you et to Hogwarts and you can’t do magic?” With a jolt, I suddenly realized that my sister was right.
“I’ll tell them,” I promised. “Just after my Birthday.” Fern sighed, but nodded reluctantly, and ran upstairs, disappearing into her bedroom.
I followed slowly, closing the door carefully behind me and dumping my presents onto the bed. I had my clothes all looked out in, sitting on my chair.
I pulled my white nightdress over my head, but before I put the clothes on, I glanced quickly in the mirror. A pale girl with wide green eyes and a tangle of ginger hair stared back at me. She looked unhappy and scared and young. But the thing was, it wasn’t her body that looked young, it was her expression. The bewildered expression on her face made her look about the age of six.
I shook my head and grabbed my clothes, pulling on my underwear. I had chosen a blue, floaty, summer’s dress. It came down to my knees.
After I had finished dressing, I looked back into the mirror. The girl was still there, this time in a flowing, river-blue dress on. I grabbed my hairbrush and began to brush out the knots, then tied it back in two spindly pleats. The girl’s hair looked almost neat now, not half as crazy as it was.
But she still looked terrified, like she could burst into tears at any moment. She smiled, but it was a fake smile, but it would do. I slipped my feet into a pair of silvery shoes and went back downstairs.
As the rest of the day dragged on, I felt my chest grow heavier and heavier with guilt. The jump in my throat got bigger too, and I felt at points that I would burst into tears. It was especially bad when Mum turned out to have baked me a Birthday cake shaped like a witches hat. Finally, at ten O’clock, I had the chance to sneak away, up to bed. It was such a relief, slinking down under my crisp white bed-sheets and knowing I would not have to face another day like that. Big, wet tears began to roll down my cheeks, as I eventually let them free. I was not a witch, I would not be going to Hogwarts and I had been given magical presents that I could not use for my Birthday. I stayed up late into the night, until I cried myself to sleep.
It seems like only seconds after I had closed my eyes that I was woken by a tapping on my window. Startled, I clambered out of bed and padded across to the window. To my greatest surprise, I saw a dark brown owl, pecking at the glass with a letter attached to its leg. I quickly opened the window to let it in.
The owl flew inside and flopped down onto my bed. I sat beside it and untied the letter. My heart skipped a beat.
It was a thick white envelope with a red seal and looping handwriting. It was addressed to Miss. Rowan. Frost.
Inside, the slip of paper read;
Dear Miss Frost,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on the 1st of September, we await your owl by no later than the 31st of July.
I smiled hugely, let the owl back out of the window and snuggled back down under my bedcovers. I had received the letter after all and I would be attending Hogwarts. Still clutching my letter tightly, with a heart no longer weighed down with guilt and misery but light as a feather, I closed my eyes and fell into a deep and well-earned sleep.
Chapter Two - Diagon Alley
A week before Fern and I left for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, my mother decided that it was time to take a trip to Diagon Alley. Using the Floo network, she dropped me off at Flourish and Blotts with just enough money to play for everything that I would need. She then continued on with Fern to buy her a new owl.
I looked down at the list that I was holding tightly in my right hand. It read;
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
First years will require;
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupils' clothes should carry name tags.
All students should have a copy of each of the following;
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade One) by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginners Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arserius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
1 Cauldron (pewtere, standard size 2)
1 set, glass or crystal phials
1 set of brass scales
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad.
PARENTS ARE TO BE REMINDED THAT FIRST-YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BRING THEIR OWN BROOMSTICK!
I got to work in scouring the shelves for the books that I would need. It didn't take long to find them all and before long, I had paid for everything and was out and onto the streets.
Although I had been to Diagon Alley many times before, I still had to goggle at all of the little shops and stalls. I knew about magic, after all, it’s hard to forget about it when your grandparents arrive on your fourth Birthday via fireplace. But not soon after the fireplace event, my family had moved to a crowded little Muggle village. Even my mother and father didn’t use magic. It was only the Floo networks that they would allow, and occasionally, when the night was especially dark, my father would let me go out on my broomstick.
I began to make my way up the streets, heading towards a pile of neatly stacked cauldrons outside of a small shop. There was a sign hanging above them that read;
Cauldrons – All Sizes – Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver – Self Stirring – Collapsible
On my way over to it, I passed a tall, skinny man selling dragon liver for seven Sickles an ounce and a shop selling all different kinds of chocolates and sweets. On my left was a store selling broomsticks and I couldn’t resist but peek inside. There were all kinds of different makes, shapes, colours and sizes of brooms but the one that caught my eye was a Nimbus One Thousand in a display near the window. My eyes widened and I gasped in a quick breath.
“It’s the fastest broom in the world,” breathed a boy beside me. He was about my age with scruffy black hair, glasses and had his nose pressed against the shop window. I smiled and carried on up the street.
There was some sort of charity shop selling everything from tatty robes to solid gold cauldrons. I could also see stacks of ancient looking books, barrels of snake scales and goat’s eyes, quills, ink bottles and crystal balls all piled up against the wall.
Inside Eeylops Owl Emporium there were owls of all shapes and sizes. Some were tawny, some were barn owls, others were brown screech of snowy. There were even bats, toads and cats. I could see Fern through the window, stroking a tawny owl fondly whilst my mother gazed lovingly at a fluffy snowy owl. I carried on past them to the cauldron shop.
Inside I had to drag myself past a green cauldron and a telescope that would never fit in my suitcase even if I took everything else out and sat on it to zip it shut. Instead I got a silver telescope of a much smaller size, a collapsible pewter cauldron and a set of shiny brass scales.
I then to a trip to the apothecary’s and bought some basic potion ingredients. It was only when I left the shop did I bump into a small girl of about my age. All of the things that I had bought so far flew out of my hands and scattered all over the dirty pavement.
“I am so sorry!” gushed the girl, her eyes widening in shock. “I wasn’t looking where I was going! You see, I have to meet my parents in half an hour but I don’t know where anything and I spent the last of my wizard money!” I shook my head, dropping down to my knees.
“It’s okay,” I assured her. “To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention either.” The girl sank down to the ground beside me and began to scoop up some dragon liver that had fallen from a brown bag.
“I’ll help,” she told me. “And I really am sorry!” I nodded, dumping my books back into my cauldron. Once I had finished collection everything together, I fumbled about in my pocket. After I had found my purse, I took out twenty Galleons.
“You said you’d run out of money, right?” I asked the girl. She nodded. I handed her the twenty Galleons. The girl gasped.
“No!” she exclaimed. “I can’t take this!” She thrust the money back to me but I pushed it away.
“Just keep it,” I told her. “I’ve got more enough and that won’t be missed. Trust me.” The girl looked down at her hand uncertainly.
I nodded, turning to leave.
“Are you going to Hogwarts?” the girl asked before I could go. I nodded.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Why?”
“I’ll pay you back on the train,” she promised. I was about to open my mouth to protest but the girl cut across me before I could. “You know, I’m really new to this whole magic thing. Do you mind if I tag along with you?” I shook my head.
“Of course you can,” I told her. “And I’m Rowan Frost by the way.” The girl smiled widely.
“I’m Charlotte Murray,” she introduced herself. “But I prefer Carla.” I nodded.
“That’s much nicer than Rowan,” I sighed. “Anyway, what have you left to buy?” Carla shoved her hand into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out a thick piece of parchment. I watched as she studied it carefully, her finger running down the page and her eyebrows furrowing.
“I just have to get my books and a wand,” she announced finally. “But I’d quite like an owl too, so that I can keep in touch with my parents.” Glancing up the street, I noticed a small store just a couple of steps away.
Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands Since 392bc
It was exactly what I had been looking for; a wandmaker’s shop.; But I had heard the name somewhere else before. Ollivanders…
As Carla and I began to make out way towards the store, it suddenly struck me. My dad had bought his wand from Ollivander’s. His favourite ash wand.
A bell clanged as Carla pushed the old, creaking door open. There was no reply, no greeting. Only perfect stillness. I stepped inside, instantly getting the impression of a very old library. Instead of shelves and shelves of books, there were stacks of long, thin boxes that reached up to the ceiling. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust and silence seemed to echo from the walls; but that only added to the effect. It only made the little shop seem all the more magical.
“Good afternoon, young ladies.”
I gasped in a quick breath, shocked at the sudden loud noise. Beside me, Carla jumped.
We both recovered ourselves at the same time and looked up to see an old man. He had tufts of thin white hair and was staring us with an almost expectant look on his face.
As his silvery eyes bore into mine, I suppressed a shiver, suddenly chilled to the bone.
“Hello,” Carla chirped, apparently not shy at all. “I’m Carla Murray.” Mr Ollivander smiled, but I couldn’t help but think that it was a slightly creepy smile.
“Which is your wand arm, Miss Murray?” he asked. Carla bit her lip, looking down at each of her hands.
“You mean,” she trailed off for a moment. “My writing hand?” Mr Ollivander nodded and Carla held out her left hand. The strange man began to measure Carla. First from shoulder to finder, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and finally around the head. All the while, Carla stood rigid as a board, her chocolate brown eyes wide.
“Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance,” Mr Ollivander said. “We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two unicorns, phoenixes or dragons are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard’s wand.” The tape measure, which Mr Ollivander had charmed to measure Carla on its own, suddenly crumpled to the floor. Carla jumped, either surprised by the noise or had just realized that the tape measure was magic.
I glanced over at Mr Ollivander, who had been fumbling about up a step ladder. He now held one of the long, thin wand boxes in his hands and was carrying it over to Carla. I watched as he set it down carefully on the counter and revealed a pale, shiny wand. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Carla gazing at it in wonder.
The wandmaker handed the wand to Carla and I watched as her eyes lit up and her fingers ran up and down the side of the object.
“Well?” Mr Ollivander said expectantly. “Give it a wave.” Carla jumped but, her cheeks rising slightly in colour, waved the wand in a perfect arc.
All at once, blue sparks shot from the tip of the wand. Carla’s whole face lit with a wide smile as the room was rained on with a waterfall of colour.
“Bravo!” cried Mr Ollivander as I clapped my hands loudly. Carla beamed hugely before placing her wand back in its case. “Nine inches, silver birch, unicorn hair core,” Mr Ollivander told Carla as she opened her pure. “A fine wand that one is. Its six Galleons.” Carla nodded and pulled out her money.
Once she had paid, Mr Ollivander turned to me. He seemed to stare at me for a very long time. It was as if he were trying to memorize my ginger frizzy hair that was at this moment tied up in a ponytail, my emerald eyes that were framed with thick, dark lashes and my papery white skin. I could feel his strange misty eyes burn into me as the moved across my lightly freckled nose. When they turned to my mouth, I could feel his gaze as if he were actually reaching out and touching my lips.
“You don’t look much like the rest of them,” Mr Ollivander said finally. “But I reckon you’re a Frost, am I right?” he paused while I nodded numbly. “Your family has done brilliant things. They may not have been right things and half the time they were not even good things. But they were brilliant things all the same.” I did not know whether to feel proud or insulted, so I just nodded again.
Mr Ollivander gazed at me for a moment longer before turning and climbing his step ladder. The tape measure began to measure me, exactly the same as it had measured Carla except that it measure my right arm instead of my left.
After a few moments, Mr Ollivander returned with another box. This time, when he opened it, he took out a shiny, dark wand. It was quite thick and not half as pretty as Carla’s.
“Ten inches, yew, dragon heartstring core,” he told me. “You know, all but one of the Star’s wands have been made from yew. I think this will do you perfectly.” I took the wand from Mr Ollivander, running my fingers down its smooth side before giving it a quick swish.
Immediately, the stacks of neatly piled boxes came crashing to the floor. Dust flew up into the air, choking me for a couple of seconds before settling again. Silence once more filled the room, but this time I was not marveling at its perfect stillness. My heart was in my throat and it was pounding so hard that I thought it might burst out.
Behind me, Carla was panting, her eyes wide and her hand clutching her chest.
I gasped out a breath that I didn’t know I had been holding and thrust the wand back down and into its box before it could do any more damage.
“Apparently not,” Mr Ollivander muttered and disappeared back up his ladder.
I was left with Carla, trying to calm my breathing, trying to stop my heart pounding so roughly that it actually hurt. Mr Ollivander returned holding the box from the top of the only standing stack and laid it on the counter. He opened the third box.
“Let’s try ten inches, mahogany, unicorn hair core,” he murmured. Hoping colours, or something less destructive, would shoot from the end of the wand; I took it from Mr Ollivander and moved it slightly.
The boxes that had already fallen to the ground flew across the room. I cringed, putting the wand back down on the counter. Sighing, I was about to suggest that I get my wand elsewhere, when I noticed Mr Ollivander down on his knees by my shoes. In his hands was a long, slender, deep purple box that had strayed much further than the rest.
“I wonder,” he murmured, getting up off of the floor. “It would be… Unusual… But maybe…” I looked up at the peculiar man, staring into his silvery eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. Mr Ollivander hesitated.
“Every single Star has had a wand made from yew,” he told me. “They may not have all had a dragon heartstring core, but they have all been made from yew. Except for one. Isabella Star, now Isabella Low, had a wand made from holly. And this wand here, the wand I believe you are destined for, is made from hazel.” I shrugged my shoulders. It was strange, but nothing special.
“What does it mean?” I asked after a few moments. It was not Mr Ollivander who answered, but Carla. I turned to her in surprise.
“Hazel and holly are both trees used for fending off witches,” she replied.
“Exactly,” Mr Ollivander confirmed. “They are both used for fending off witches.” I looked from Carla to the wandmaker is confusion.
“Trees for fending off witches?”
“Muggles believed, a long time ago of course, that they would keep witches away,” Mr Ollivander explained while opening the purple box. “Try this one.” The wand was dark and long with a dew knobbly bits and a twisted end. Carefully, I took it from the wandmaker’s steady hands and gave it a quick flick.
All at one at once, I felt my stomach do a somersault and then fill with butterflies. A burst of colour shot from the tip of the wand, forming the shape of a blue flame. Although heat seemed to be radiating from it, the room was suddenly icily cold.
There was a long hushed silence, even after the flame had extinguished itself. Then both Mr Ollivander and Carla broke into a loud round of applause.
“Marvelous!” Mr Ollivander cried. “Spectacular!” I grinned, placing the hazel wand back into its velvety soft box with care. The wand turned out to be hazel, eleven inches, with a phoenix feather core and it cost eight Galleons.
“Take care of that wand now,” Mr Ollivander whispered as I turned to leave. “It’s one of the best I’ve ever made.” I smiled at him as I closed the door quietly behind me.
The next thing I needed to buy was my robes and Carla still had to get her books.
“We’ll have to split up,” I announced. “You can get your books at Flourish and Blotts, over there.” Carla looked over in the direction of the bookshop, her face falling.
“Can we meet back here after?” she asked me. “I still need to buy an owl and I really don’t want to do it alone. What if I get a really rubbish, lazy one?”
“Sure,” I assured her. “I have to meet my mother and sister at Eeylops anyway.” Carla nodded and hurried off down the street. I turned in the direction of a shop called Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions.
Inside, was quite a large room with hangers and hangers of different robes at one side and a place to get fitted at the other. I spotted a girl already standing on a stool. She was tall, slim and tanned. Her silky straight blonde hair fell to a point just below her shoulders and she had a perfectly made-up face. There were no smudges of mascara or patches of lip without lipstick.
A tall, skinny witch with iron grey hair had pulled a long black robe over her head and was pinning it to the right shape and size.
Next to them, I spotted a young, plump woman raking through all sorts of different pieces of clothing. Hesitantly, I made my way towards her.
“Excuse me,” I began. “But –“
“Hogwarts, dear?” Madam Malkin interrupted me. “No need to worry. I’ll get you fitted right away.” The little lady dragged a stool over beside the one that the tall, slim girl was standing on. I stood on it and right away Madam Malking slipped a robe over my head and began to pin it.
I was so occupied trying to stay as still as possible, that when the girl beside me spoke, I jumped.
“Hi,” she said, her voice high-pitched and sugary sweet. “Are you going to Hogwarts too?”
“Yeah,” I nodded. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the girl smile.
“I’m Michelle Clearwater,” she introduced herself. “My father is the head of the Department of Mysteries. He’s very good friends with the Minister himself. You are?” If I were not being fitted at this very moment I would have held out my hand.
“Rowan Frost,” I told her. Michelle gasped.
“You’re a Frost?” she exclaimed. “Goodness, I never thought I’d meet one of them!” The edges of my lips turned up slightly. It wasn’t often I was treated this way when I told somebody my name. Usually I would get suspicious looks and narrowed eyes so it felt good when Michelle started to babble on about all the brilliant things my family had done.
“There you go, dear.”
I flinched slightly as I heard Madam Malkin speak up for the first time in ages. The witch who had been fitting Michelle had also finished. I got off of the stool and followed my blonde friend to the till. We both paid and followed each other out and onto the streets.
“There’s Eeylops Owl Emporium,” Michelle said suddenly. “I don’t have an animal yet. Would you care to help me choose one?” I smiled.
“Sure,” I replied.
Chapter Three - The Hogwarts Express
After much debate, Michelle had chosen to purchase a pure-bred eagle owl from Eeylops Owl Emporium. Fifty names later, she had decided to call her Rubella. However, although I had been surrounded by owls of all different shapes and sizes, I had fallen in love with a cat. She was sleek with spiky black fur and amber eyes – a proper witch’s cat. I had named her Midnight.
However, when I had arrived at the cafe that I had arranged to meet my mother and Fern at, my mother had anything but loved her. At first she had threatened to throw her out onto the streets but after hours of arguing I had finally managed to convince her that Midnight would only be around the house for a week because I would be leaving for Hogwarts on Monday.
After what seemed like an hour of shouting and impatience, the morning eventually came around. It was finally the day that I would arrive at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I woke up early that morning of the 1st of September. Midnight was curled up in the crook of my knee, purring softly and spreading her warmth.
A shaft of milky dawn light slanted through a crack in the curtains, giving the room an eerie glow. I propped myself up with pillows and leaned forwards to tickle Midnight under the chin. She rumbled loudly, snuggling deeper into the thick duvets. I smiled faintly, gazing around my dark bedroom and enjoying the quietness. Outside the wind roared and howled in a silent storm, battering the window, but the walls muffled all noises. It was a wonderful feeling, like being caved under the snow while a blizzard raged on above, and I couldn’t help but suppress a shiver, feeling goose bumps rise on my pale arms.
As the minutes ticked by, I became more and more excited each second. The light flooding through the curtains got lighter and lighter and gradually, I began to hear the faint chirps of birds that were brave enough to face the weather. After stroking Midnight for a few moments linger, I rolled over to look at the clock that sat on my bedside table. It read 07:36 am. I could get up now; because of the long drive down to King’s Cross Station, any time after 07:00 am was reasonable. As gently as I could, careful not to disturb Midnight, I pulled back the bed covers and slipped out of bed. The hard wooden floor felt freezing on my feet so I quickly a pair of scruffy old slippers and pulled on my fluffy red dressing-gown, hugging it tightly around me.
Despite my best efforts to be as quiet as humanly possible, the door still groaned loudly and a floorboard creaked as I stepped outside. Glaring at Midnight as she leaped skilfully out of the room, I began to make my way down the stairs. It wasn’t fair that my cat could move so quickly and quietly when I sounded like a herd of elephants stampeding through an echoing hall. I was well aware of the thumps of my feet, not at all muffled by the carpet that covered the stairs. At last I was in the hallway and was soon walking down to the door at the very end of the corridor.
Inside of the kitchen, Millie the house-elf was standing on a chair to reach a pan that was placed on the hob. Her hand moved round and round as she stirred the eggs.
“Morning, Millie,” I greeted her. The little elf flinched violently and leaped around. She wobbled precariously on the edge of her chair, but was able to regain her balance before she fell.
“Millie didn’t see you there, Miss Frost,” Millie squeaked. “Millie was busy making breakfast.” As soon as she had finished speaking, the toaster clicked and four slices of toast popped up. Millie hurriedly jumped off of her chair and pushed it over a bit so that she could reach the slightly charred bread.
I moved over to the cooker and switched off the gas. Standing on mu tip-toes, I managed to pull down some plates from a high up cupboard and breakfast was soon served.
As soon as Millie and I had placed he last plates on the table, the kitchen door swung open and my mother and Fern rushed in.
“We’re late!” Fern stressed, plonking herself down on a chair. I sat down beside her and quickly devoured my scrambled eggs and toast. Seconds later I was back on my feet and running up the stairs. Luckily I had already packed all of the things that I would need at Hogwarts and looked out some comfortable clothes for the train journey.
I leaped out of the car. My father shoved a luggage cart full of my suitcase and cat into my hands. We then began the race against time to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Passersby turned their heads in our direction as the small family of four sprinted down the wet pavement, pushing trolleys piled high with suitcases and owl cages. People leaped out of our way, shooting us alarmed looks, angry glares or tutting loudly. We didn’t care.
Soon we reached the pillar between Platforms Nine and Ten, but did not stop even then.
Chapter Four - The Boat
Summer past in a blur and all too soon it was the morning of September the 1st. I sat on my bedroom widow-sill, staring out at the creamy sky, streaked with patches of pink and blue.
There was a suitcase at the end of my bed, full of things that I would need at Hogwarts, and Cinder, my owl that had only arrived a few weeks ago, was sitting beside me. I ran my fingers through her fluffy grey feathers and she hooted affectionately.
It would soon be time to leave for King’s Cross Station, as we had to drive a long way to get there, so I figured I would have to start getting ready soon.
As a cold breeze crept through the open window, I shivered and got to my feet. I would get ready now, partly because I was freezing, and partly because I knew breakfast would surely be rushed.
A plain black T-shirt, blue skirt and underwear sat on the chair beside my door. I quickly slipped them on, dragged a brush through my hair and opened the door, stepping out onto the landing. Fern was already halfway down the staircase, wearing a crisp white shirt with her prefect badge pinned to it.
“You’d better hurry up, Rowan,” she told me. “We’ll have to get a move on if we are to catch the train.” I nodded and quickly bounded down the stairs, leaping into the kitchen. Breakfast was already waiting on the table. I slid into a chair beside Fern and helped myself to a slice of toast, managing to wolf it down before Mum even entered the room.
“Good morning, Mum,” I greeted her. “Shall I go and get my suitcase?”
“Yes,” Mum nodded. “Your father will put it into the car. Fern, are you nearly ready?”
Trying not to slip on the cold tiled floor, I hurried out of the kitchen and up the stairs.
When I stepped into my room, Cinder swooped down low over my head, her talons brushing my hair. I swatted her away and managed to lure her into her cage. By then my hair was a tangled mess, but I had no time to fix it. I heaved my suitcase up with one hand and carried Cinder’s cage in the other.
It took a while to drag everything outside, but at last I managed. Dad was there to load everything into the Muggle car.
“Get inside, Rowan!” Dad hurried me. “Your mother and Fern will be here in a minute. We need to go!” I nodded and leaped into one of the back seats, strapping myself in.
Fern and Mum left the house moments later, carrying Fern’s suitcase and the cage in which slept her tortoiseshell cat, Mouse. Dad shoved her stuff into the boot too, while Mum and Fern got into the car.
“Are you excited?” Fern asked as we puffed down the track.
“Of course!” I exclaimed. “Why wouldn’t I be?” We sat in silence after that, so that all I could hear was the groaning of the car. I glanced out of the window thoughtfully for a while, watching the clouds and fields and occasional house go by. I liked car journeys, mostly because they weren’t often.
“Mum?” I asked suddenly. “What house were you in?” I stared at my mother’s wavy brown hair, waiting for her reply.
“Ravenclaw,” she told me. “All the Star’s were sorted into Ravenclaw.”
“The Frost’s too,” Dad added. “Me and all my brothers, mother, father and basically all my other relatives.”
“Does that mean I will be a Ravenclaw too?” I wondered. “Is it a good house to be in?”
“It is a good house,” Dad confirmed. “It’s where all the very intelligent students go. But all the other houses are good too. Except for Slytherin, you don’t want to be a Slytherin. There isn’t a wizard who hasn’t gone bad been in that house.”
“Hey!” Fern protested. “Elena Stopper is a Slytherin, and she’s my best friend!”
“It doesn’t matter which house you are sorted into,” Mum assured me. Even if you are a Slytherin, we will still be proud of you.” I nodded and looked back out of the window. Mum, Dad and Fern were still discussing houses, but I didn’t feel like talking. Instead, I tried to imagine Hogwarts, but all I could picture was a cold church-like building. A howling wind whipped the grim grass and crept through the cracks in the walls.
I shuddered, hoping with all of my heart that the school did not look like that. But if it did, and I was made a Slytherin, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would like to go home.
The car trundled along the countryside roads, and at some point I must have fallen asleep.
Fern shook me awake.
“We’re here,” she announced. I blinked groggily, trying to get the sleep out of my eyes.
“It’s five to eleven!” Dad cried. “Get out of the car or we’re going to miss the train!” Fern threw me a coat and we got out of the car into the freezing, pouring rain. I shivered violently, wishing I were snuggled up in a warm and cosy bed instead of outside in the icy cold, wet and miserable weather.
Dad handed me my suitcase and Cinder, and gave Fern her things. Waving goodbye to Mum, I hurried after Dad, heading towards Platform Nine and Three Quarters. We stopped and a pillar.
“Erm, Dad,” I said. “I don’t think this is it.”
“Of course it is,” Dad snapped. “You go first, Fern. Show Rowan how it’s done.” I glanced confused, over at Fern. She was running at full speed, heading straight for the pillar. I cringed, but there was no crash. Instead, Fern ran straight through the brick wall, disappearing into thin-air. I stared in amazement.
“Come on, Rowan,” Dad growled. “You’ve seen magic before. Just run at the bloody wall!” I knew Dad got very irritable when he was in a hurry so I quickly began to move forwards, copying Fern’s movements, hurtling myself at the wall, squeezing my eyes shut when I was ten steps away from it.
I had expected not to be able to do it, to fall in a heap on the ground, but I did not feel a thing. When I opened my eyes I gasped.
A huge scarlet steam engine stood smartly on the rails, with Hogwarts Express written along its side, a sign saying Platform Nine and Three Quarters was sticking out from one of the many pillars. Hundreds of people hurried around, shouting for their missing children, kids about my age were sobbing and hugging their parents. It was truly magical.
“Bye, Rowan,” Dad murmured, pulling me into a tight hug. I hugged him back and stepped aside as Fern said her goodbyes to him.
“Come on,” Fern told me, slipping her hand around mine so that we did not get separated. She led me forwards at a quick pace and we entered one of the carriages.
“If you just find a seat somewhere,” Fern told me. “I’ll be patrolling the corridors so I will see you again sometime.” I nodded and we set off in different directions.
I had to heave my luggage all the way to the end of the carriage to find an empty compartment. It was a relief to sit down.
I think I was fell asleep, I don’t know how long for, all I knew was that I heard an echoing voice and saw a blurry outline of a boy.
“C-can I sit here?” he asked, and it was probably the sixth time that he repeated it that I actually heard. “T-there are no other seats that are not taken.” His image finally came into focus. He was small, skinny and ghostly pale, paler than even me, and he had scruffy hair and mix-matched clothes. He looked ill.
“Of course,” I told him and he smiled nervously at me, sitting down on the bench opposite.
“I-I’m, Remus,” he told me. “R-Remus L-Lu-Lupin.”
“I’m Rowan Frost,” I replied, holding out a hand. But Remus flinched away. I was curious to see that he had his sleeve down over his hand. I suddenly wondered if I was dirty or ugly or something.
Remus didn’t say anything more but stared out of the window, his eyes glassy and a faraway look on his face. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I settled back down on my bench and gazed outside. Everything was going past in a blur of greens and browns and blues.
When the compartment door slid open and a small girl with red eyes, obviously from crying, stormed in, Remus and I both jumped. Another boy followed closely behind, already in his Hogwarts robes, with pale, sallow skin and grey eyes.
“Go away, Severus!” the girl cried. “I don’t want to talk to you!” Remus looked slightly alarmed and got up, moving to the space next to me.
“Lily, please,” the boy, Severus begged. He looked ready to cry as well and gazed into the girl’s pretty green eyes pleadingly.
“Okay,” Lily sighed. “I’m just annoyed at Petunia, that’s all. I didn’t mean to be angry with you as well.” The two students sat down on the benches opposite and began chattering. I didn’t make out anything they said, because at that moment, Remus fell asleep, flopping over so that his head rested on my shoulder.
His hand also slipped out from his sleeve and I saw it for the first time. A huge gouge had been ripped off of it, almost as if it had been bitten. But I knew it wasn’t a human bite, it would have been a much bigger, fiercer creature to make a mark like that. I gazed at him in concern, but there seemed nothing I could do, so I settled down to sleep as well.
Remus woke later and we both changed into our Hogwarts robes. I sat down and faced Lily and Severus, who were already dressed. They were both too absorbed in their conversation to notice me, or even Remus as he opened the compartment door and sat back down beside me. I decided to try and start a conversation with Remus, and I would not mention his hand, although my eyes kept sliding past his face towards it.
“Are you excited?” I asked him, blinking in an effort to stop my gaze slipping towards the hand. Remus looked up at me, looking startled, as if surprised anybody would try to speak to him.
“Y-yes,” he replied. “It should be good.” I noticed his reluctant ‘yes’ and his ‘should’ be good, but chose not to say anything about it.
“What house would you like to be in?” I wondered, and I found myself half hoping he would say Ravenclaw. “All my family has been in Ravenclaw.”
“That doesn’t mean you’ll be put there too,” Remus told me, and I noticed he was looking slightly less shy, mostly because he had stopped stuttering. “You could be put in Slytherin or Hufflepuff, for instance. But I think I would like to be a Gryffindor.” I nodded, wondering why Mum, Dad and Fern had never mentioned that.
Just as I thought of my sister, Fern slid open the compartment door.
“Hello, Rowan,” she greeted me cheerily, turning to Remus. “And who are you?”
“R-Remus L-L-Lupin,” Remus stammered. When Fern narrowed her eyes, he stiffened and clutched the edges of his seat.
“Aren’t you the boy Professor Dumbledore told the Prefects and Heads about?” Fern demanded. Remus began to look rather flushed and hurried, glancing nervously at Lily, Severus and me.
“P-p-probably,” he told Fern. Fern gave me a hard look, and I wondered what Professor Dumbledore had told her about him, and whether it was true or not.
“Everyone is fine, Fern,” I interrupted when she opened her mouth to say more. “You can go now.” Fern shot me a glare cold enough to freeze lava. I met her eyes calmly. She stood there a while before folding her arms, slamming the compartment door shut and storming down the corridor.
“Come on, Severus,” Lily said, tugging the boy from his seat. “I’m starving. Let’s go and get something off of the trolley.” Lily smiled at me on the way past, dragging Severus with her. I wondered if she had left so that Remus could tell me what Professor Dumbledore had told Fern about him, but I doubted he would. After all, we had only just met and he probably still had no idea who I was.
“Thank you,” Remus sighed after a while. “Who was that?” I looked up.
“Fern,” I told him, and at last let out what I truly thought of her. “She’s my sister and she is really annoying. She keeps sticking her nose into everybody’s business, and telling me what to do. Mum thinks she’s brilliant because she’s so smart and pretty, and always gives her all of the attention.” Remus raised his eyebrows slightly.
“I always wanted a brother or sister,” he explained. “I am an only child, you see.”
“You must get lonely,” I said, and he nodded.
“Dad is always too busy with work and Mum won’t stop worrying about me long enough for me to go outside,” he went on.
“Worrying about you?” I echoed, and Remus stiffened again. “Sorry,” I apologized quickly. “You don’t have to say anything.” Remus looked at me strangely.
“I’ve never met anybody like you before,” he told me. “How do you know when-“ He stopped when the train grinded to a halt. I got to my feet and waited for Remus by the door. He smiled faintly at me and we got off of the train together, stepping out into the darkness of the night. I shivered and looked around, wondering where to go.
“Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here!”
I gasped, looking up at a huge giant of a man, waving his hands and shouting. Nervously, I made my way over to him, Remus following close behind. The man stopped shouting for a moment and beamed down at him.
“All right there, Remus?” he asked. “I see you’ve found a friend. I don’ believe I’ve met you before.”
“I-I’m R-Rowan Frost,” I told him, finding myself stuttering almost as much as Remus.
“Well, I’m Rubeus Hagrid,” he introduced himself. “But my friends call me Hagrid, ain’t that right, Remus?” Hagrid, the giant man, began to shout again, and soon enough about a hundred students were crowded around him. “S’ that everybody?” A few people nodded, and we all set off into the cold night. I stumbled and slipped a few times.
At one point Lily knocked into a scruffy-haired boy, who tripped up onto me. I felt myself flying forwards and threw my hands out which caught Remus’s shoulders. The four of us fell in a crumpled heap on the soggy ground. I shuddered as muddy water seeped through my robes and got to my feet. All down my front was dripping wet.
“Everybody okay?” Hagrid asked over his shoulder. “Hogwarts is jus’ round this bend, if you see.”
There was a hushed silence as we rounded a corner and a path opened up. I stared amazed out at the black lake. It looked like a glimmering blanket, twisting, turning and squirming. Further along, at the edge of the water was a steep mountain, and on top of that was a magnificent castle. It was a proper castle too, like ones you would see pictures of in fairytale books, with turrets and towers.
“No more’n four in a boat!” Hagrid bellowed, pointing a massive hand towards about ten rickety shapes.
I slid down towards the boats, coating my robes and shoes in mud, and sat down in the sturdiest looking one. Remus climbed in next to me, and the scruffy haired boy that had fallen squeezed in afterwards. His curly-haired friend followed soon afterwards.
“Ready?” Hagrid roared, whom I noticed had a boat all to himself. “FORWARD!” The fleet moved forwards, sailing into the curling black water. The boat that I had chosen, the sturdiest one, turned out to be the most rickety one. It tipped from side to side, meaning every minute or two, I was thrown into the curly-haired boy, Sirius. He was tipped into me every other minute.
At one point a wave rippled across the surface, throwing us forwards and, in my case, tipping me over the side of the boat. I flung my arms and legs about, trying to grip onto something, but the next thing I knew, I was under the surface of the lake. Icy water swirled around me, soaking my robes and making them as heavy as weights which pulled me further and further down. I tried kicking, flailing my arms to try and push myself upwards, but I was so shocked I could not remember any of the strokes.
When everything seemed to slow down, my vision blurring and my lungs aching, I tried swimming one more time. This time was more successful and I finally managed to break the surface, spluttering and gasping for breath and coughing up mouthfuls of water. I could not have possibly climbed back onto the boat and I was glad when the scruffy-haired boy, James, leaned over to grab me. He managed to catch me under the arms before another wave pushed me back under. James, with some help from Sirius, managed to haul me back up and onto the boat.
There, I had a coughing fit, lying soaking on the floor of the boat and shivering violently. I squeezed my eyes shut, gathering all my strength, and pulled myself up to a sitting position.
“Oh no,” I turned around to see James leaning out of the boat. I squinted and saw one of the oars floating off towards the school. It didn’t look good for us getting to the castle.
“C-c-c-can y-you g-g-get it back by u-using the o-o-other oar-r?” I asked him, trembling and shaking, gripping onto one side of the boat so that I didn’t flop over. James glanced over at me and nodded, taking the other oar from Sirius and leaning back out of the boat. He stretched out, but at that moment the boat went over another bump and the oar slipped from James’s hand. James dived for it, but by then, it was too far out of reach.
It looked like we were stranded. And freezing. I tried wrapping my arms around my body but it just made me even more cold and wet.
“Take off your cloak,” Remus instructed, noticing me on the floor. I tried, but my fingers were too numb, I couldn’t move them. He reached out and took the black cloak off for me.
Underneath, my shirt was just as soaking, and I felt my cheeks turn red, noticing that the shirt was sticking to me and was completely see-through. James, who by now had stopped leaning uselessly out of the boat, turned around. Seeing me shivering on the floor, he took his cloak off and wrapped it around me.
“Here,” he offered. I smiled faintly, too weak and shaken to say anymore. It was a cold wait, the wind buffeting both of my sides and the boat rocking. Each time it went over a wave, it leaned precariously to one side and we clutched onto anything we could, holding our breaths nervously. Though the boat never actually tipped, my heart was always pounding by the time it lay flat on the water again.
After a while, I sunk down, wondering if anyone had noticed our absence yet, or if they had even reached land. I hoped Hagrid was coming to get us because I was cold and thoroughly exhausted, wishing for a hot bath, dry clothes and a cosy bed.
At some point I must have dropped into a short, light sleep.
“Are you lot all right?”
The booming voice startled me awake. I wrapped the cloak tightly around me and sat back up. James, Sirius and Remus were all sitting beside me, leaning against the side.
“Rowan fell into the lake,” Sirius called, not bothering to stand up. “And James lost both the oars.” I blinked, my head spinning. Everything was dizzy and confused, but I guessed it was just because I had been thrown into the freezing water and woken up on a rocking boat.
“Is Rowan okay?” Hagrid asked.
“Y-yes!” my voice was all croaky and I was still stuttering.
“Hang on,” Hagrid yelled. “All go an’ get you some oars!” I blinked once or twice but I did not have the strength to sit up anymore than I already was. I could hear the water splashing as Hagrid sailed back to land.
“Are you okay?” Sirius asked suddenly. “You look kind of pale.” I nodded but I was starting to feel shivery and slightly sick. James’s fingertips brushed my hand.
“You are freezing!” he exclaimed. Sirius took his cloak off.
“Here,” he said, offering it to me. I reached my hand out to take it but I couldn’t quite grasp my fingers around it, they were still quite numb. Sirius leaned forwards and wrapped it around for me.
“Thanks,” I said, glad of the extra warmth.
“Here you go,” Hagrid announced after a few moments, and I jumped, looking up to see his boat right next to ours. He dropped two extra oars into it. Sirius and James took one each and began to sail again. I closed my eyes and clutched onto one side of the boat.
As we neared land, the journey became very rocky. I was thrown from side to side and bumped up and down. Apart from that it was fine. No more oars were dropped, the boat didn’t tip and nobody fell into the water. Though at one point water splashed over the side of the boat, spraying me. But I didn’t suppose it mattered, since I was already soaking.
The boat gave a small thump as we reached land. I tried to get up but fell straight back down again. Instead Sirius grabbed one of my arms and Remus took the other. They managed to get me to my feet. With them supporting me, I was able to walk across the end of the boat. It was a bit tricky getting me off, as my legs were like jelly and I still could not move my fingers, but with some help from James, I was lifted onto the slippery rocks where the boat had stopped. A few students crowded around me, throwing me with questions, but I was too tired to answer them and Hagrid had already started to move.
Getting up the stairs proved a problem. It took a while, but I finally made it to the top.
There, we gathered around a huge oak door. Hagrid knocked on it three times with his gigantic hand and it swung open at once.
Chapter Five - The Sorting Hat
A tall woman with black hair pulled back in a tight bun and wearing deep purple robes stood in the doorway. She looked quite stern and struck me as a fierce but magnificent witch.
“Here are the firs’ years, Professor McGonnagall,” Hagrid announced, sweeping his hand as across the students in front of him. Professor McGonnagall nodded.
“Thank you, Hagrid,” she said. “You may leave us here.” She pulled the door wide open, welcoming the first years inside.
I stepped, still leaning against Sirius and Remus, into the Entrance Hall. It was a huge room, with stonewalls and a flagged stone floor. Burning torches stuck out from the walls, giving the room a spooky look and leaving some areas in complete darkness. A magnificent marble staircase stood in front of us, leading to the upper floors. Around me, I could hear many gasps.
Professor McGonnagall led us forwards, past a large door with lots of voices drifting out from inside and into an empty chamber, just off of the hall.
“Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” Professor McGonnagall announced. “The start of term feast will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will all be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony at Hogwarts, as your house will be like a family. You will have classes with your house, share a dormitory with your house and spend your free time in your house common room.
The four houses are called, Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts your triumphs will earn you house points, while any rule breaking will lose you points. At the end of the year, the House Cup will be awarded to the house with the most amount of points. I hope you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.
The Sorting will take place in a few minutes in font of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting.” Professor McGonnagall’s eyes swept across the students and rested on me.
“Miss Frost, might I ask why you are wearing two cloaks?” The rest of the students turned to look at me as well and I felt my cheeks go red.
“I f-f-fell into t-th-the lake,” I replied, and as I said it another wrack of shivering ran down my body. Professor McGonnagall narrowed her eyes slightly.
“Might I suggest that after the Sorting has been finished that you visit our nurse, Madam Pomfrey,” she told me and turned to the rest of the first years. “I shall return in a few minutes to collect you. Please wait quietly.” With that, she turned and left the chamber.
I felt myself shiver violently again.
“Are you sure you are okay?” Sirius asked me again, but I nodded, shook the two boys off of my arms and sat down on the ground. The floor was cold, but it made no difference, as my skin was already icy. My head was spinning again. “Rowan?”
I looked up at Sirius again.
“I’m f-fine,” I assured him. “J-j-just a bit d-d-d-dizzy.” Sirius looked at me through narrowed eyes, but said no more. I sat and waited for Professor McGonnagall come back, not even bothering to fix my hair, which was a dripping, wet frizz of ginger hair.
When the door to the chamber opened again, Sirius and Remus helped me up again. Professor McGonnagall marched to the front of the chamber.
“Form a line!” she ordered. “And follow me.”
I went to the back of the line and stood in between James and Sirius. My legs felt like jelly as I walked forwards and I kept stumbling and slipping backwards. My cheeks went the colour of tomatoes when I slipped backwards into Sirius, while walking through the double doors into the Great Hall. It was lucky he was there to catch me.
The hall was huge as I stumbled further inside. It was lit by millions of candles, which were floating in mid air along the four long tables where the rest of the students were sitting. The tables were laid with glittering golden plates, cutlery and goblets. At the very top of the hall was another long table where the teachers seemed to be sitting. That was where Professor McGonnagall was leading us. I could feel hundreds of eyes burning into me as we filed up a space between two tables. Mostly to avoid catching any of the eyes that were staring at me, I glanced upwards and to my astonishment, saw that the Great Hall had no roof. Instead there was a midnight blue sky dotted with silvery gold stars. Tonight, I noticed, there was no moon, so the full moon must have been yesterday.
Professor McGonnagall finally stopped in front of an old three-legged stool upon which sat a dirty, frayed and patched old witches hat. I wondered what on earth she was going to do with it. But Professor McGonnagall did nothing. A rip in the brim of the hat opened like a wide mouth and began to sing;
But don’t judge on what you see
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There’s nothing hidden inside your head
The Sorting Hat can’t see,
So try me on and I will tell you,
Where you ought to be.
You might belong to Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry,
Set Gryiffidors apart;
You might belong to Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise of Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don’t be afraid!
Don’t get in a flap!
Your in safe hands (though I have none)For I’m a Thinking Cap!
The Hall burst into applause when the song had finished. All I could do was stare. Although I was used to magic, a singing hat was not normal to me.
Professor McGonnagall stepped forwards with a long roll of parchment.
“When I call your name you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted!” she cried. “Anderson, Katie!”
A small rosy-cheeked girl with ringlets and lots of hairclips stepped forwards and sat on the stool. The moment the hat was sat on her head, it shouted,
The table on the right side of the room cheered loudly. Katie Anderson ran to join them.
A large boy with short curly hair stepped forwards, puffing as he sat on the stool. I narrowed my eyes slightly.
Next on the list was Sirius. Strangely, he looked nervous as he stepped forwards, and tripped on his robes. He managed to regain his balance before he fell and sat on the stool, taking ragged long breaths. I hadn’t imagined him ever to be shy, but then again, I hadn’t known him very long.
Sirius gave a small sigh of relief and went to join the Gryiffidors. The list went on and on. Remus was sorted into the Gryffindor house and so were James and Lily.
I could feel myself shaking. My legs were like jelly as I stepped forwards and I stumbled a few times. It was most embarrassing when I found my fingers were still numb and I couldn’t quite curl my fingers around the hat. Professor McGonnagall had to place the hat on my head for me.
“Another Frost,” the hat murmured into my ear. “Well, you are certainly hard to place. Not a Ravenclaw, no, no. Not a Slytherin or a Hufflepuff either. I guess you will have to be a,
I let out a great sigh of relief and knocked the hat off of my head. Shivering, with coldness and excitement, I joined the cheering Gryffindor table and looked around for a seat. Everybody was squished in together, but I managed to notice a space in between Sirius and Lily.
“Can I sit there?” I asked.
“Yes!” cried Lily, a little too loudly as everybody turned to look at her. Her cheeks rose in colour and she looked down, shuffling up to make room for me. It was a little tight, but I managed to squish in.
I turned to watch the rest of the first years get sorted. There were only a few left.
Severus, the boy who I had shared a compartment with, stepped forwards.
“SLYTHERIN,” the hat called as soon as it was placed upon Severus’s head.
The list went on until it came to,
A honey-skinned girl with wavy golden hair and hazel eyes was the last to step forwards and slide onto the stool. She put the hat on her head.
Annie Way rushed over to the cheering Gryffidors. The only space left was a tiny gap between Remus and James. Remus stiffened when she went over to him, his hands gripping so tightly onto the table that his knuckles went white. I wondered what was wrong with Annie Way.
I turned to see if she looked hurt or anything, but to my surprise I saw a look of pure anger on her face. She turned; eyes narrowed, and stared up at an old man with a long white beard.
At last, Remus got up and moved down a seat, so that Sirius separated him from Annie. Sirius seemed just as bewildered as I was about his strange behaviour. The old man with the white beard got to his feet and stepped forwards so that he was in front of the staff table.
“Welcome!” he boomed. “To another year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. There is a new student attending Hogwarts that has a condition. Let us all look out for this student and make sure he is not mistreated for who he is!”
Beside we Remus closed his eyes, and shook slightly, but soon recovered himself and sat up in his chair. I wondered if he knew which student the man, who I assumed to be Albus Dumbledore, was talking about. Or, I though, suddenly remembering. Was Dumbledore talking about him?
“Aren’t you the boy Professor Dumbledore told the Prefects and Heads about?” Fern’s words rang in my ears, and I wondered, with all of his peculiar behaviour, if Remus was hiding something.
“Let the feast begin!”
I blinked and looked in front of me. To my surprise, lots of food sat on the plates that ran down the whole length of the table. Food was also piled up on my plate and my goblet was full of pumpkin juice. Everybody had begun to eat but before I picked up my knife and fork, I glanced up at Dumbledore and was sure that he smiled at me.
I dug into the roast chicken on my plate and a shiver ran down my body as something warm finally entered it. I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and scoffed down everything on my plate.
I sat there, waiting for the shivers to leave me. Before they did, the remains of food on the plates in front of us disappeared. The food that had left was replaced with huge amounts of pudding. I helped myself to a generous slice of chocolate cake, but wasn’t hungry for anything else afterwards.
I sat and waited for everybody else to finish. Feeling warm at last, but still trembling.
“It may take a while before the shivering stops,” Remus told me, and I jumped because I didn’t think he would talk to anyone else tonight. “Your body has a had a shock.” I nodded.
“I think I once read a book about somebody falling into a river,” I remembered. “But it was a long time ago. The only other thing I can remember about it that it had a person called, Rob and a lot of… wolves?” Remus smiled.
“Oh, you mean the…” he trailed off, looking nervously towards Annie Way and taking a deep breath. “Werewolves one. I read that too.” Annie Way was glaring up the table at Remus, her eyes hazel slits, and I wondered what was wrong with her. And why Remus had been so nervous about saying the word, ‘werewolf’.
Remus had turned away and was staring at the doors leading out of the Great Hall. He looked tired, and I decided not to bother him.
After a while, the pudding cleared and Dumbledore got to his feet again. The Hall fell silent at once.
“Just a few more words now that we are all fed. I have a few start of term notices to give you.
First years should note that the forest on the grounds is out of bounds.
Quidditch trials will be held on the second week of term. Anybody interested in playing for their team should contact Madam Hooch.” Dumbledore indicated to a small woman with short brown hair at the end of the table. “And now we shall sing the school song! Everybody, pick your favourite tune!” Dumbledore raised his hands and the whole school bellowed:
Teach us something please,
Whether we’re old and bald,
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff
So teach us something worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do the best, we’ll do the rest,And learn until our brains all rot!
Everybody finished at different times. Dumbledore started the applause and clapped the loudest of all.
“Music,” he sighed. “A magic beyond all we do here. Now off to bed, all of you!” I sat down and waited until all of the older students had gone out through the double doors. Once they had all disappeared I got to my feet and followed Remus, stumbling and tripping, my legs all numb, towards a tall girl with long blonde hair.
“All right!” she called. “First years follow me!” The girl led all of the first years out through the double doors and up the staircase.
I walked for ages, clutching the banister so that I didn’t fall, as I was afraid my legs would buckle if I put all of my weight on them, and very nearly fell backwards into Lily.
A lot of first years were yawning and stumbling bleary eyed up the stairs. I was just about sleeping standing up when we finally stopped climbing and began to walk along a corridor. I fell quite a few times, sometimes my legs giving way and sometimes tripping up on the ends of James and Sirius’s cloaks.
At the very end of the corridor was a painting of a very fat woman in a blue silk nightdress.
“Password?” she asked.
“Butter Daisies,” replied the tall blonde girl. The portrait swung forward to reveal a whole in the wall. Everybody scrabbled through, until it was only me left on the other side, stranded because I couldn’t lift myself high enough to clamber through. James finally noticed me, much to my protesting, put both hands firmly on my waist and hauled me into the common room. It was cosy and warm and full of squashy armchairs, and a fireplace.
The blonde girl directed the boys through to their dormitory and took the girls to another. The room was circular and had five four-poster beds hung with deep purple velvet curtains.
I wandered over to one of the beds, hidden in the corner, and found my trunk at the end. I rummaged around in it until I found my pyjamas and quickly slipped into them. I found a bathroom at one end of the dormitory and switched the light on. Everybody else was asleep or in the common room so I locked the door. I put my skirt, tights and underwear, which were still soggy from my swim, on a radiator and ran myself a bath. It was burning hot when
I stepped into it and my skin turned an alarming red. But it didn’t take long to wash my hair and I quickly clambered out afterwards and dried myself, draining away the dirty water. I pulled my nightdress over my head and picked up the cloaks belonging to James and Sirius.
Unlocking the door, I tiptoed across the room and out of the door, climbing carefully down the stairs. Every few minutes I would be shaken by violent shivers but like Remus had said, my body had had a shock and the shivers would probably go away by the morning.
James and Sirius were sitting on two of the armchairs at the back of the room, laughing. Nervously, I approached them, holding their slightly damp cloaks out in front of me.
“Thanks,” I said when I was right beside them. They both looked around, taking their cloaks back.
“I think your things are still on the boat,” James told me. I nodded, and trembled so violently that I had to sit down.
“I have other cloaks and shirts,” I said, and pushed myself up from the armchair. Looking around the room before I left, I saw no sign of Remus, so I made my way over to the stairs, too tired to stay up any longer anyway.
As I walked across the common room, I felt somebody’s eyes burning into my back. I turned to see Sirius, getting up from his chair and walking towards me. I couldn’t be bothered with talking, so I hurried up the stairs, but because Sirius wasn’t all wobbly and shivery, he easily caught up. His hand touched my shoulder and I jumped, and then tripped, a crumpled heap on the stairs. Sirius grabbed my arm and pulled me back up.
“Need some help?” he asked.
“Why are you following me?” I asked him.
“I’m going to bed,” he told me, though I wasn’t sure whether to believe him. “I can help you up on my way past.” I nodded and let him guide me up the staircase and catch me when I slipped. He stopped outside of the girl’s dormitory.
“Bye,” he said, opening the door for me. I sighed.
“Bye,” I replied. “And thank you.” Sirius smiled and I stepped into the dormitory, closing the door behind me, and walked over to my bed. I slipped under the covers and closed my eyes, but I didn’t go to sleep straight away.
I lay, thinking about all of the new people that I had met.
Lily, Severus, Annie, James, Sirius and Remus. Though most of all, I thought about Remus and the words that Dumbledore had spoken before the feast had started.
“There is a new student attending Hogwarts that has a condition. Let us all look out for this student and make sure he is not mistreated for who he is!”
Fern’s words also echoed in my mind.
“Aren’t you the boy Professor Dumbledore told the Prefects and Heads about?”
It also struck me the way he had suddenly stiffened when Dumbledore and Fern had spoken those words. The way he acted around Annie Way was peculiar too, as if she knew something and he was scared she would tell. It probably was like that too. But what was the strangest thing of all was the way he had been scared to say werewolf. I thought back to the way Dumbledore had said ‘condition’ and ‘let us all look out for this student and make sure he is not mistreated for who he is’.
Werewolf. Condition. For who he is. Could he be?
I shook my head, though I couldn’t shake the feeling… I decided that next time there was a full moon, I would watch him closely.
Chapter Six - Best Friends
Chapter Seven - Truth or Dare?
Chapter Eight - Werewolf Watch
Chapter Nine - Lycanthropy
There were one hundred and forty two staircases at Hogwarts. There were wide ones, narrow ones, sweeping ones and rickety ones. Some of them had steps that vanished so that you had to remember to jump them and some led to different places on a Monday.
There were also some awkward doors that wouldn’t open unless you asked them politely or tickled them in just the right place. Everything kept changing too, the people in the portraits always went off visiting and the staircases were forever changing, also, I was sure that the suites of armour could walk.
This made it a nightmare to get to classes, as if it already weren’t. The ghosts weren’t much help either, except for Nearly-Headless Nick who would be perfectly happy to point you in the right direction if ever you got lost. If you met Peeves the poltergeist while late for class though, you would always come to a locked door or dead end, he even sent Remus up to Dumbledore’s office once, saying that it was the charms classroom. He gave me directions to Professor Cuneiform’s advanced Ancient Runes class, which I was stupid enough to listen to, and ended up doing a report on how to translate Ancient Runes.
Though even worse than ghosts, even the ones like Peeves, as the caretaker, Argus Filch. When trying to get to Transfiguration, he found me in the broom cupboard, having taken directions from Peeves again, and thought I was trying to steal a broom. He wouldn’t believe me when I told him that I already had one, and almost ended up writing lines for him before Madam Hooch walked by.
Argus Filch also had a cat, which he called, Mrs. Norris. She was a horrible longhaired dusty brown tabby with creepy lamp-like eyes. If ever a student was doing something naughty while she was around, she would disappear and come back moments later with Filch. I had often seen James and Sirius nudge her with their feet if ever they happened to pass her in the corridor. They told me that if nobody else were around, they would probably kick her.
“Miss Frost, can you tell me the difference between a werewolf and an animagi?” I blinked, woken by my thoughts by Professor M’Henry, the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He was trying to take points from Gryffindor again, but fortunately I had been clever enough to do my homework.
“An animagi is a wizard who chooses to turn into an animal, a werewolf has no choice,” I replied, choosing my words carefully so that M’Henry could not catch me out. “With each full moon he no longer remembers who he is, a killer’s best friend if you cross his path. Of course, the wolfsbane potion can help with that, though most of the ingredients are very rare, and it takes a very skilled witch or wizard to make it. I doubt even Professor Slughorn could.” M’Henry narrowed his eyes.
“All true,” he confirmed. “But a little more information than we needed to know. Lupin, can you tell us about the transformation?” Remus’s eyes widened in terror and he took a deep breath, but then he shook his head.
“You don’t know?”
“I do know!” Remus’s insisted. I knew for a fact that he was telling the truth.
“Then tell us,” M’Henry snapped. “Five points from Gryffindor for wasting time!”
“Werewolf transformation is very painful, and afterwards you will be very tired and some even get ill,” Remus began, fidgeting uncomfortably. “Not just anybody can turn into a werewolf, there are three things that may cause the transformation. If you are a shape-shifter you can become one, or if one or more of you parents are werewolves. You could also get… b-bitten, which is the most painful of all and some don’t even recover from it.” Remus had a very strange face on by the time he was finished, and kept glancing over at Annie Way, who was glaring horribly at him. “Y-you can easily tell if somebody is a werewolf,” he added nervously. “If they are, then be careful not to anger them I know somebody who was bitten because his father had an argument with Fenrir Greyback.” He looked awkwardly down at his shoes and for a moment I thought he would burst into tears.
“Well,” said M’Henry. “That was certainly true. But I think everybody knows not to anger a werewolf. It’s just common sense.”
Everybody except for you knows not to anger a werewolf, I thought, narrowing my eyes at the stupid Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He obviously couldn’t see how upset Remus was, or now, angry. His whole body was rigid, cheeks flushed and hands curled into fists under the desk.
I looked away, hoping he wouldn’t say anything, or else he would certainly get lines, or maybe even detention. Fortunately, Remus held his tongue, somehow managing to bottle up his anger.
“Homework for today,” M’Henry went on. “I want a report on werewolves and a report on animagi for next week. You may go now.” Remus was the first to leave, and I followed shortly after, keeping my head down and hoping M’Henry wouldn’t take away any more points for having an untied shoelace or messy hair.
I was able to get out of the room before he noticed me and made my way towards the Gryffindor common room. I wanted to get me books, parchment and quills and go and work on M’Henry’s homework outside, since lessons were over and it was a beautiful day.
“Butter Daisies,” I said when I came to the fat lady. The portrait swung open and I clambered through, this time without the help of James.
The common room was bright and completely empty, light flooding in through the large windows. At first, as I rummaged around on the table, I did not even notice Remus, curled up in one of the armchairs and staring out of the window. When he moved, I jumped about a foot off of the ground and my mouth opened in a silent scream.
“Remus,” I gasped. “You almost gave me a heart attack!” I saw his face, which was so crumpled that I expected tears to be running down his cheeks, brighten ever so slightly before he turned to look back outside. “If you have something to say, just say it,” I blurted. “I already know.” It was true, I did know that he was a werewolf as I had watched him sneak outside the night of the full moon and he had been ill for four days after. It wasn’t hard to figure out, but I still regretted what I had said and wished I had thought before I had spoken.
Remus had jerked his head up and was staring at me with wide eyes.
“Know what?” he asked cautiously. I looked down at the floor, studying my shoes before I spoke.
“I know that you are a… a werewolf,” I whispered. Remus looked truly startled and by now had gotten to his feet.
“Have you been following me?” he demanded. “How long have you known?” I met his gaze calmly, staring into his blue eyes.
“I knew for sure on Monday,” I told him. “But I’ve been thinking it since he day I met you. And no, I haven’t been following you; I’ve just noticed you. Like you said, it’s easy to tell who’s a werewolf and who’s not.” Remus sighed and sat back down on the chair. His surprise had yet again been taken over by sadness.
“I suppose you are going to stop talking to me now,” he said, not quite meeting my gaze. “Now that you know what I am.” I narrowed my eyes slightly, a slight smile pricking the edges of my lips.
“Remus,” I said. “I’ve known since Monday, and thought it for a week. You really think I would stop talking to you now?” Remus looked up, eyes wide.
“What?” he asked. “You don’t hate me?”
“Hate you!” I exclaimed. “How could you ever think that? It’s not your fault you’re a werewolf!” Remus beamed, standing up.
“You really aren’t like anyone I have ever met, Rowan Frost,” he told me. “Even your sister thinks badly of me for what I am. Anybody else who has ever found out back home will never talk to me once they find out about my condition, and they all avoid me as much as possible.” I smiled back.
“I don’t know,” I said. “If Sirius and James found out, I think they’d think it is pretty cool.”
“Think what is pretty cool?”
I turned to see James and Sirius standing at the space in the wall, both grinning and looking out of breath.
“Nothing,” Remus said quickly, turning around and collecting parchment, ink and a quill from his bag. Sirius and James looked at each other while I gathered up the stuff I had come for in the first place.
“Do you two want to come down to the lake?” James asked. “We’ll show you something funny.”
“I was going to do my homework,” Remus and I said at exactly the same time. “But I’ll come after,” I added. Sirius nodded and I carried my things over to the portrait hole. Remus followed and we walked down the stairs together. I could tell that he was happy because he was still smiling.
We walked down to the edge of the lake and sat amongst the roots of a huge beech tree. I stared out at the calm water for a moment, before setting out all of my things.
The book on animagi I had chosen was brilliant, so I finished that report in minutes. When I opened the werewolf book I had brought, I realized I had taken the wrong one. That book was fictional and was no use at all.
“Erm, Remus…” I began. “What did you say about turning into a werewolf again?” Remus didn’t look up from his parchment.
“You can be born a werewolf, when one or both of your parents are one, you can be a shape-shifter, or you could get bitten,” he said. “Being bitten is the worst and it is excruciatingly painful.” I scribbled everything down on a spare bit of paper. I remembered that transformations were painful and tiring and wrote down the differences between werewolves and animagi.
“W-where you bitten?” I asked nervously. Remus closed his eyes.
“Two years ago, my dad had an argument with Fenrir Greyback,” he explained. “I got bitten. Mum and Dad did everything they could to try and cure me, but there is no cure for a werewolf bite. Once the poison is in your veins, that’s it.” Remus paused to show me his bitten hand. “The mark will fade soon. Anyway, when I turned eleven, my mother and father didn’t think I could go to school, but Professor Dumbledore kindly planted the Whomping Willow, over there. There’s a passageway in its roots that leads to a shack. That’s where I will go every full moon.”
“That sounds horrible,” I gasped, surprised to be told as much as I had been. Remus smiled faintly.
“I can live with it,” he sighed. “Anyway, your homework. What else do you need?” I looked down at my sheet of scrap paper.
“I’m, not sure,” I admitted. “Can you think of anything?” I handed the page to Remus and he studied it carefully.
“You could add in a bit werewolf recognition,” he told me. “And maybe how most of the magical community disapprove of them.”
“But how that is completely outrageous and it’s not their fault they have the slight problem that they turn into a wolf every full moon,” I continued helpfully. Remus laughed softly.
“Who has the sligh’ problem that they turn into a wolf every full moon?” I gave a small gasp of surprise and turned to see that Hagrid was behind us.
“I’m doing my werewolf report,” I explained.
“And it’s all right,” Remus added. “Rowan knows.” Hagrid raised his massive eyebrows.
“Oh, do you now?” he asked. “Well, I hope you haven’t been botherin’ Remus about it.” I shook my head quickly.
“Of course she hasn’t been bothering me,” Remus said. Hagrid nodded.
“Well I guess I’ll be seeing you around,” he sighed. “Got to go plant some cabbages for Professor Bud.”
I waited until he had disappeared down the rise before I spoke again.
“I don’t think he likes me,” I whispered, just to make sure Hagrid did not hear me. Remus leaned in close to me.
“It’s Fern he doesn’t like,” he murmured into my ear. “He said he caught her kicking Mrs Norris, and Hagrid loves animals, especially monsters. She was also caught shouting at a Ravenclaw first year for having untied shoelaces. Apparently she made the Ravenclaw cry.” My eyes widened. Fern had never spoken of this. I had always though of her as my perfect big sister, but now I wasn’t so sure. Yeah, she did her homework and wore neat clothes and was nice to me, but I had seen the way she had treated Remus, hadn’t I? Her eyes were as cold as ice whenever she spoke to him, and her voice was sharp and disgusted.
“I didn’t know that,” I admitted. “I thought Fern behaved in school too.” Remus was silent, staring out at the lake. I began to write my good werewolf report, and soon enough I had finished all of my homework. It was long and exactly what M’Henry had asked for, so he couldn’t complain.
Just as I was gathering up all my things, two laughing boys ran down towards us.
“M’Henry wants you, Rowan,” Sirius panted, still smiling. “He’s waiting in his classroom.” I narrowed my eyes.
“M’Henry?” I asked. “What does he want me for?” James shrugged as I walked past him, back up to the school.
Confused, I walked into he Defence Against the Dark Arts room to find a fuming Professor M’Henry. His arms were crossed tightly, his mouth set in a tight line and his eyes were dark slits.
“Frost!” he roared. “Get in here now!” Blinking, I stepped forwards towards the professor. He grabbed my arm tightly, his claws digging into my skin. I tried not to cry out in pain. “You stupid, stupid girl!” he hissed into my ear.
“Sorry, Professor, I’m confused at what I did,” I mumbled
“You know perfectly well what you did,” M’Henry snarled. He dragged me out of the classroom, slamming the door behind him. Completely bewildered, I let him pull me down a series of corridors to a large statue.
“Jelly beans,” M’Henry growled, and the wings of the statue slid open to reveal a staircase. M’Henry hauled me up the stairs, right to the very top. He knocked on the large oak door in front of us.
“Who is it?” a voice that I recognized as Professor Dumbledore’s asked.
“Professor M’Henry,” M’Henry barked. After a moment the door opened to reveal a circular room, full of portraits of important looking witches and wizards. On shelves all around the walls were various delicate objects, some that puffed, some that whirred and some that sat silently where they had been placed. A desk stood at the back of the room and behind it sat Professor Dumbledore, wearing robes of a deep midnight blue colour.
“Frost broke into my office and stole my grindylow tank!” M’Henry snarled. “Punish her! Expel her!”
“What?!” I cried. “I did what?! Ask Remus, he’s been with me every minute after lessons, and Hagrid saw me outside, and so did James and Sirius.” M’Henry glared horribly at me, gripping my arm even more tightly, if possible.
“If you excuse us, Professor M’Henry, I will deal with her,” Professor Dumbledore interrupted before M’Henry could say anymore. Shaking with anger, the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher left the room. I was left, staring at Dumbledore, confused and angry. “Sit down if you please, Miss Frost,” Dumbledore told me, pointing to a chair next to me. I sat down nervously, perching on the very edge.
“You don’t believe him, do you?” I asked. Dumbledore chuckled softly, shaking his head.
“No, no!” he cried. “Of course I don’t! You’re only here because I have other matters to discuss with you.” I gulped.
“What other matters?” I ventured. Dumbledore stared at me evenly for a long while and I found myself having to look away, feeling as if those blue eyes could look into my soul.
“Your friend,” he told me finally. “I’m sure you know which one I am talking off.” I looked back up, surprised. Why did Professor Dumbledore want to discuss friends with me?
“Remus?” I asked and Dumbledore nodded. He placed his elbows on the desk and rubbed the very tips of his fingers, forming an arch shape.
“You seem to have made good friends with him,” he went on. “Do you perhaps not know everything about him? Do you ever, maybe, feel that he is hiding something?” I opened my mouth and then closed it again, not knowing what to say. It was a while before I remembered what Remus had told me earlier.
“Anyway, when I turned eleven, my mother and father didn’t think I could go to school, but Professor Dumbledore kindly planted the Whomping Willow, over there. There’s a passageway in its roots that leads to a shack. That’s where I will go every full moon.”
“He told me,” I explained to Dumbledore, assuming he would know what I was talking about. “I know just about everything.”
“He did?” Dumbledore asked. “I doubted he would ever tell anyone of his condition.” I bit my lip so that I tasted blood. I lapped it up with my tongue and took a deep breath.
“Well,” I considered. “I found out first and he told me the details after.” Dumbledore stared at me for a while.
“You will not tell anyone about him?” he asked.
“No,” I promised. “He can if he wants to, but I won’t.” The headmaster gave a small sigh and gestured to the door.
“You may leave now, Miss Frost,” he told me, but it was more like an order. Rising from my chair, I walked back across the room, admiring a stunning bird with flame coloured feathers that was sitting on a perch by the doorway. “Oh and Rowan, if ever you pass Professor M’Henry, remember to look upset!” I smiled.
“I will!” I promised over my shoulder, before closing the oak door and walking back down the stairs.
I passed nobody on the way back to the Gryffindor common room. When I got there, it was mostly empty apart from Lucinda Welsh, the tall blonde prefect that had shown the first years to the common room the night we had arrived and a girl in the same year as me called, Mary Macdonald.
Mary waved me over as soon as she saw me.
“Rowan, you could answer all the questions Professor M’Henry asked,” she said, looking nervous. “I’ve looked everywhere for a decent book on animagi but there are none in the whole school!” I took the animagi book out from under my arm.
“This should do,” I told her. “It’s very good.” Mary Macdonald took the book gladly, flicking through the pages fondly.
“Thank you,” she gushed. “And you don’t happen to have any facts on werewolves, do you? I’m trying to get all of my Defence Against the Dark Arts homework done today since I still have to do Transfiguration and Charms and Astronomy work!”