An Alternate Chain of Events

Chapter 6 - The First Week at School

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Chapter Six – The First Week at School

Harry's Eleventh birthday was nice and uneventful, just family and friends. His parents had bought him an owl, a beautifully white, Snowy Owl whom Harry had named Hedwig. (To which Lily said, "Now you've got no excuse not to write to us."). Sirius and Remus had given him a photo album, and boxes of sweets and chocolates. He'd even gotten a strange present from his mother's sister whom they saw every five years or so.

"Exactly what a young boy needs," James had said laughing. "An ornate, and may I add awful, paperweight."

"It was nice that she remembered though," Lily said, pleased.

"If you say so." James uttered so only Harry could hear.

The rest of the holidays passed quickly. Harry was counting down the days. The only slight unease he had was about his wand. He hadn't told anyone what Ollivander had said about the same phoenix being the core of Voldemort's wand, what if they thought that it made him an evil wizard? It bothered Harry that Voldemort's wand's brother would choose him, so he kept it to himself. He reasoned that his parents had kept enough secrets from him.

Harry woke up at dawn on September first. He had set seven alarms and had woken up before any one of them. He double-checked his trunk and made sure Hedwig was safely packed away. Then as it was still very early, jumped on his parents' bed one last time. For once James didn't grumble.

"Dad!" Harry shouted up the stairs. "Hurry up!"

"Coming!" James replied, carrying Harry's trunk down the stairs. "Calm down, mate. We'll get you there in time."

"Remus and Sirius are meeting us at the station, too." Lily said smiling. She was very quiet that morning, her heart was already aching.

They met Remus and Sirius at the entrance to King's Cross Station but now that they'd arrived Harry was beginning to feel very nervous. He felt almost like he didn't want to go. That was ridiculous, though, it was all he'd thought about for years, it was just his nerves talking. He must get a grip on them, he'd never get into Gryffindor if he thought like that.

"Got your ticket?" Remus asked.

"Yes." Harry replied, getting it out of his pocket. "Platform 9 ¾ at eleven O'clock. How on earth do we get on to ¾ of a platform?"

"You walk straight through that brick wall," Sirius nudged him, while what was clearly a wizarding family disappeared into solid brick.

"Well you left that bit out!"

"We can't tell you all the mysteries." James said with a knowing smile. "It'd take away all the fun of finding them out for yourself. Ready?"

"Uhuh." Harry smiled as together they walked through the platform. Sirius immediately followed.

Lily and Remus held back. "I just need a second." Lily smiled weakly. Remus squeezed her shoulder but didn't say anything. A minute later they followed.

It took a few more minutes to find them in the crowd. James had loaded Harry's trunk on to the train, while Harry stood with Sirius who was waving to various ministry members. James jumped off and waved to Arthur and his large red headed family on the platform.

The train sounded. "This is it." James said to Harry, who looked very nervous.

"See you soon, Harry." Remus said smiling.

"Have fun," Sirius squeezed his arm. "Don't get in too much trouble."

Harry nodded. He felt oddly choked up. He turned to his father who gave him a big hug. "You'll be fine! Write to us when you get there."

"Dad, you won't really disown me if I'm not in Gryffindor, will you?"

"Of course not. I'll still love you if you're in Slytherin." James kissed the top of his head, and finally Harry turned to his mother.

Lily hugged him tightly. She kissed his cheek. "Be good, stay out of trouble and stay safe. I love you."

"I love you, too." Harry replied. "I'll write soon." He hopped on the train and waved to his four guardians.

Cries from parents to students echoed all along the platform: "Have fun!" "Write." "I don't want any more letters about you!" "Do your homework!" "We'll miss you!" "Stay out of detention!" "Don't make me come up to school again!"

Full of excitement, and a little sadness Harry walked down the train to find a compartment. This was it.

"Don't, Ginny we'll send you loads of owls."

"We'll send you a Hogwarts toilet seat."

That was the last thing Lily heard as the train sped off. She waved like mad until it rounded the corner and then she buried her face in James's shoulder.

"Come on, Lil." James said, rubbing her back. "He'll be fine. Better than fine, he'll be great." James tried to sound a lot more confident than he felt.

"Hello, Arthur." Remus greeted, the red-haired man, who was with his equally red-haired wife and daughter, who was crying.

"Hello, Remus, Sirius, James." Arthur replied merrily. "This is my wife Molly and our youngest Ginny."

"Hello!" They all replied. Lily removed her face and wiped her eyes.

"This is my wife, Lily." James put his arm around her. "I don't think you've met."

"It's very nice to meet you." Lily said earnestly, shaking Mr and Mrs Weasley's hands and smiling at Ginny. "Ignore my silliness."

"Oh don't worry dear," Molly said kindly. "I cried all night when our eldest went. Harry's your only one, isn't he?" Lily nodded. "It's perfectly normal dear."

"Was it your brother who wanted to send you a toilet seat?" Lily asked a tear soaked Ginny, who nodded. Lily smiled at James.

"I just don't know what to do about those boys!" Mrs Weasley sighed.

Sirius grinned. "I wouldn't worry, Molly, I have a feeling they'll be alright."

On the train Harry had a compartment to himself, until a red haired boy that he'd seen on the platform introduced himself.

"I'm Ron, Ron Weasley."

"Harry Potter." Harry replied shaking his hands while Ron gaped at him. So maybe his parents hadn't been exaggerating, Harry thought. Harry and Ron quickly became friends, spending the whole train ride playing games and getting to know each other.

"Your dad's an Auror," Ron said longingly. "That's so cool."

"It's really not that exciting. He's always doing paper work."

"Yeah, but still, a dark wizard catcher." Ron insisted. "It's like the coolest job there is."

"My dad must definitely leave out the interesting bits." Harry said, and then for some reason, told Ron all about when Dumbledore came round for dinner.

"So you didn't know anything?" Ron gaped at him.

Harry shook his head. Ron then informed Harry about everything he'd ever heard about him. "My brother Bill, he's older, well he even remembers reading it in the papers."

"You have brothers?" Harry asked with interest.

"Five and one sister. I'm the youngest boy. My mum wanted a girl."

"That must be great!" Harry said earnestly.

"Great? Are you joking? It's a bloody nightmare. I'd rather be an only child." Ron shook his head as though Harry had no idea. Harry decided not to argue.

It was getting dark when a bossy girl, with brown bushy hair stormed into their compartment and told them to put their robes on.

When Harry saw the castle for the first time he knew his father was right, he'd never forget it. He was filled with wonder when Hagrid lead them across the lake and before he knew it, all the first years were huddled in the entrance hall waiting to be led in and sorted. They followed the stern looking Professor McGonagall through the Hall, whose ceiling was bewitched to look like the night sky. Harry thought he saw people turn to look at him as he made his way down the hall, and there was a definite outbreak of muttering when his name was called to be sorted.

He didn't think the day could have gone any better. He was in Gryffindor, with his new friend Ron and Neville. But when he entered the dormitory and opened his trunk, he had one last treasure to discover. Laid above all his clothes was something he definitely didn't put there, a cloak, and a note in his father's messy handwriting.

My father gave this to me and now it's time for you to have it. Use it well.

Love Dad

"Why has he given me a cloak?" Harry muttered, bewildered. He picked it up and put it round him, trusting that his father hadn't taken leave of his senses. He was immediately shocked to find he had disappeared from the neck down. Harry gasped. He was wrong. They day had gotten even better.

Lily and James's first week without Harry was very quiet. The house, although only having lost one occupant, seemed empty. On Sunday morning, to James's displeasure he had woken up at half past eight. He had gone to sleep very late, and slept very uneasily, Harry wove in and out of them along with Peter. Harry being at Hogwarts was bringing the memory of Peter very clearly back to him. He was careful not to wake Lily as he made his way downstairs for a cup of coffee. He perused the Prophet at the breakfast table. Harry was right, he thought, he had gotten old and boring. Lily made her way to the kitchen just as James closed the paper.

"Good morning." She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed his cheek and then his lips. "You're up early, bad dreams?" Lily asked sitting opposite him.

"Too much to drink last night, probably." James lied. He didn't want to worry her.

"How was Moody's leaving party?" Lily's eyes were gleaming. She would have given anything to have attended, but she'd been called into the hospital.

James had already started laughing before starting his story. "It was bloody hilarious." James recounted how Moody, who everyone knew was being unceremoniously forced into retirement, had sat there scowling all night. It was only when Fudge made an appearance that things livened up. Moody had shouted that Fudge was an untrustworthy trout that was weaker than a mermaid's piss. He had gotten up to leave when he set his magical eye on Fudge, and "nice Y-fronts minister," were his parting words. "I was holding Sirius up by this point. He was laughing so much he'd stopped breathing. I thought I was going to have to bring him in to see you."

"I can't believe I missed it!" Lily sighed. "Moody was always going to out with a bang."

"Sirius went home with Moody's niece, the welcome witch on reception."

Lily held her head in her hands. "Why does he do these things?" She shook her head. "Whether he's your boss or not, Moody will have his balls on a platter for that one."

"I told him that it wasn't a wise move," James laughed.

"Why can't he find a nice girl and settle down?"

"You remember what happened with Emilia," James sighed. "He's not used to rejection. I don't think he could cope with being dumped like that again."

"That was awful." Lily conceded. Emilia was the love of Sirius's life. He'd met her post war and they'd gotten engaged, but she had broken it off a few days before the wedding. "He's nowhere near as blasé about life as he'd like you to think."

"Underneath all the sarcasm there's a good man."

"I wish Remus would find a girl." Lily sighed. "There's so much I wish for Remus, he's such a catch."

"He's having problems at the ministry. I think that's taking up all his time at the moment."

"The anti-werewolf legislation?"

James nodded. "The way it's going he could end up out of a job. It's all fascist bollocks."

"Poor Remus." Lily said sadly. She took the paper from James and began to flick through while he fiddled with wireless, looking for the Quidditch scores. "James?"

"Um?"

"Did you ever find out who was behind the break in at Gringotts?"

James turned to look at her. "I haven't heard. It's not my case, but I imagine if they had an idea there'd be posters up everywhere. I'd be really anxious to know how they got past the goblins."

"Have the goblins been helpful?"

"Lily, when are the goblins ever helpful?"

Lily chuckled and went back to her paper.

They'd had an unusually quiet morning. They kind they savoured when Harry was being babysat by one of their friends, but there was nothing to savour that Sunday. Although Lily had stopped crying, she had a knot of worry in her chest. She reassured herself slightly by knowing that if something was wrong there was no way Dumbledore wouldn't have informed them. But she was still anxious that Harry hadn't written. His absence was like the elephant in the room. Every other thought the Potters had was about their son and yet nether spoke aloud.

At two pm they had a pleasant surprise. Hedwig soared through the window, delivering a wonderfully long letter.

"James!" Lily called from the garden, where she'd been growing potion ingredients. "James, we've got a letter from Harry!"

James ran out to her beaming and together they undid the scroll and began to read.

Dear Mum and Dad,

Sorry it's taken me so long to write, I've had a busy week.

I was sorted into Gryffindor! (But I have a feeling someone has already told you that.) Anyway, I've met the Fat Lady you always talk about and I'm in the same common room you guys were in, it's pretty cool right?

There's four other boys in my dorm, Neville (I cannot tell you how chuffed he is about the sorting), Ron Weasley (I met him on the train and we've become friends, he says you know his dad from the ministry), then there's an Irish lad named Seamus and Dean who's muggle born. Everyone's really nice, but they keep looking at my forehead when I tell them my name. I thought you were exaggerating about the famous thing, but if anything I think you were downplaying it. Everyone seems to know more about me than I know myself, or at least they know it better and longer. I don't mean to get on to you, I just mean it's taking some getting used to.

I'm enjoying my lessons. We've gotten to perform actual spells for the first time! I can't believe it. Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely rubbish, but everyone is, except for this one bossy girl in my house called Hermione. (She's muggle born like you mum).

The only lesson I didn't completely fail at was flying! Dad it was awesome. You'll never believe what happened. An awful Slytherin boy called Draco Malfoy stole Neville's remembrall when Neville had fallen off of his broom and had been taken to the hospital wing (don't worry mum he's fine). Anyway, I went to get the thing back, Malfoy threw it and so I dived and caught it. But then, McGonagall came marching out and told me to follow her, I thought I was going to be expelled or at the very least get detention, but instead she took me to a fifth year boy who was captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and told him that she'd found him a new seeker. I'm on the team! Mad eh? I'm the youngest seeker for over a century!

James looked up in delight. "First week and he's Gryffindor's bloody seeker!" He looked to Lily who did not look as happy. "I always trained him as a chaser as well."

"What happened to stay out of trouble?" She sighed.

"Come on Lil, he was only standing up for Neville." James pointed out. "And it looks like it all worked out pretty well." James was bursting with pride. "Wait until I tell Sirius. I'm definitely going to have to get him a decent broom now."

"Honestly is Quidditch all you care about?" Lily rolled her eyes and carried on reading.

… Oliver Wood (he's the captain, and the keeper) showed me the trophy room and I found a few with your name on it dad. Wood said with me on the team the cup has our name on it this year!

"Well I'm definitely going to that match!"

"James stop interrupting, I want to read."

… The only part of my week that hasn't gone so well (other than History of Magic which, by the way, is the most boring thing in the entire world, Sirius was right) is Potions. Professor Snape hates me. I don't know what I've done. He glares at me and makes me a look a fool in every lesson! If he was like this when you were at school its no wonder that you didn't like him!

"I'm going up there." James said immediately.

"Calm down." Lily sighed. "If he doesn't stop, I'll go up there."

… Don't worry though, I can handle myself. I don't want him to think I'm crying to my parents about it, I just wanted to tell you that you were so right about him.

"See, he's handling it fine." Lily pointed out while James was muttering, "greasy, old Snivellus."

… He seems to bully the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Quirrell, he's a bit of an odd one, has a stutter, I have no idea how he got the job but he seems harmless enough. He certainly doesn't deserve to be treated the way that Snape treats him.

I went to Hagrid's for tea. His cooking is terrible. I think I cracked a tooth.

How are things at home? Write back soon!

Give my best to Remus and Sirius,

Love,

Harry

p.s. thanks for the present dad.

Lily felt herself relax an inch. "He might just be alright."

James shook his head. "He's going to be wonderful."

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