Harry left the memory with a smile on his face. Meeting Tom for the first time was one of the best memories he had, and he could almost imagine the boy still stood in front of him.
Jason found himself falling into another memory, this one from four years later.
Jason had stuck with Tom and never regretted it. True to his word, the older boy had taught him magic and defended him against bullies. While they had no friends aside from each other, the two were so used to being ostracized that they no longer minded solitude. Having one friend was more than either had expected.
Nothing seemed unusual the morning of August first, no strangeness to indicate the huge change which was about to enter their lives, ushered in by the strange man who was going to visit the orphanage. It was the day after Jason's birthday and the two were in their usual positions on Tom's bed. Tom was reading a book well beyond the skills of most eleven year olds, while Jason lay on his lap, daydreaming. A knock interrupted their privacy.
"You two've got a visitor," Mrs. Cole walked in, never having learnt to wait for permission. She was followed by a middle-aged man, "This is Mr. Dumberton—sorry, Dunderdore. He's come to tell you - well, I'll let him do it," she walked out. Tom closed his book and eyed the man while Jason sat up wearily. Mrs. Cole had always feared their magic, perhaps this strangely dressed man was some kind of priest who had come to perform an exorcism.
"Hello, Tom, Jason. I am Professor Dumbledore," the man said.
The boys exchanged a brief look and then Tom began to speak. This was their normal routine, Jason was a bit shy and he played it up – allowing Tom to talk for both of them. He was extremely charismatic and a much better at mental and magical manipulation. Jason knew this and had no issue with letting Tom lead their discussions. The two were so in tune with each other that Jason's ideas were usually brought up by his friend anyway.
"Professor? Is that like 'doctor'? Did she get you here to have a look at us?" Tom asked.
"No, No," Dumbledore's too-wide smile and twinkling eyes gave the impression he was lying.
"I don't believe you, she wants us looked at doesn't she?" Tom said nervously, "Tell the truth!"
He added his magic to the demand demanded. It was meant to force obedience, but the man seemed immune to its effects the same way Jason was.
"Who are you?" Jason whispered, filling his voice with awe and curiosity. He would act the sweet and curious child since Tom's questioning had unsuccessful. He pulled it off quite well with his fragile, small frame and large eyes.
"I have told you. My name is Professor Dumbledore and I work at a school called Hogwarts. I have come to offer you a position at my school – your new school if you would like to come."
Tom was now sure the man planned to harm him and Jason. Jason was his. His first, and only, friend. No one would harm Jason. Tom had sworn it. He unconsciously angled his body to block Jason from Dumbledore's line of sight.
"You can't kid me! The asylum, that's where you're from, isn't it. 'Professor', yes, of course – well we're not going. We're not mad; it's the old cat who's crazy," Tom yelled.
"I'm not from the asylum. I'm a teacher and if you'll calm down I'll tell you about Hogwarts. Of course, if you'd rather not come no one will force you—"
"I'd like to see them try," Jason muttered.
"Hogwarts, is a school for people with special abilities—"
"We're not mad!" Tom interrupted.
"I know you're not mad. Hogwarts is not a school for madmen. It is a school of magic," Dumbledore said.
The two boys fell silent. They had never met another person, let alone an adult, with magic before.
"You know about magic too?" Jason prompted with wide eyes.
"There's a school for it?"
"Of course, you have to learn how to control it somewhere."
"There's more than what we can do?" Tom asked.
"What is it that you can do?" Dumbledore seemed suspicious but Tom was too busy showing off to notice. His face flushed and his eyes were becoming the strange burgundy colour that appeared just before they turned red with magic.
"I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who try to attack Jason. I can make them hurt if I want to," he turned to Jason, "I told you we were special."
Jason smiled, then turned to Dumbledore, "You're a wizard too?"
"Prove it," Tom demanded, his excitement overriding his common sense.
"If, as I take it, you're accepting your place at Hogwarts-"
"Of course I am," Tom said as Jason nodded eagerly.
"Then you will address me as 'professor' or 'sir'," Dumbledore said.
Tom came down from his high of enthusiasm and fixed his charming mask, "I'm sorry, sir. I meant, please, professor, could you show me?"
The professor took out what appeared to be a wooden wand, Tom stared at it hungrily. This was proof of magic and wizards, they weren't just two lonely freaks. But Dumbledore pointed this wand at their wardrobe and it burst into flames.
"What did you do?" Jason brought tears to his eyes. As if the loss of anything in their bothered him.
The flames ceased, leaving the wardrobe unharmed, but instead of answering Dumbledore said, "I think there is something trying to get out of your wardrobe. You should open the door."
Tom obeyed quickly, preventing Jason from approaching the unknown and potentially dangerous result of the spell. Jason smiled fondly at his friend's protectiveness. Tom returned carefully holding their treasure. It held a trinket from every child they had taught to respect them.
"Is there something in that box that you ought not to have?" the professor asked.
"Yes," Tom conceded, knowing the man had somehow discovered the objects were stolen. Jason detected a note of sadness behind Tom's careful tone, the boys had always been proud of these mementos of past victories.
"You will return them to their owners with your apologies. I shall know whether it has been done. And be warned: thieving is not tolerated at Hogwarts."
"Yes, sir," they both mumbled.
"At Hogwarts," Dumbledore continued, "We teach you not only to use magic, but to control it. You have—inadvertently, I am sure—been using your powers in a way that is neither taught nor tolerated at our school. You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to allow your magic to run away with you. But you should know Hogwarts can expel students and the Ministry of Magic - yes, there is a Ministry – will punish law-breakers still more severely. All new wizards must accept that, in entering our world, they abide by our laws."
"Yes, sir," they repeated.
"But, we haven't got any money, sir," Jason said.
"That is easily remedied," Dumbledore retrieved a leather money-pouch from his pocket, "There is a fund at Hogwarts for those who require assistance to buy books and robes. You might have to buy some of your spell books and so on second-hand but—"
"Where do we buy spell books?" Tom asked.
"In Diagon Alley. I have your list of books and school equipment with. I can help you find everything—"
"You're coming with us?"
"Certainly, if you—"
"We don't need you. We're used to relying on each other; we go around London on our own all the time. How do you get to this Diagon Alley – sir?" Tom hastily add the title.
Dumbledore gave them a list of instructions then handed Tom an envelope, "If you need any help ask for Tom the bar man."
Tom twitched at the name and Jason put a comforting hand on his arm.
"You dislike the name 'Tom'?"
"There are lots of Toms," Tom sighed.
"All the details are on the second piece of parchment in your envelope. You'll leave King's Cross Station on the first of September. There are train tickets in there, too."
"We can speak to snakes. We found out when we've been to the country on trips—they find us, they whisper to us. Is that normal for a wizard?" Tom asked.
Jason knew Tom was partly asking out of genuine curiosity. Speaking to snakes felt different than their other magic. It came naturally while other magic required will and practice, but at least part of Tom was just showing off. Determined to impress Dumbledore in some way.
"Both of you?" Dumbledore frowned.
"How peculiar. It is unusual, but not unheard of."
Whatever was heard of it must have been bad because Dumbledore gave them severe look before walking out with a curt, "Goodbye. I shall see you at Hogwarts."
"He doesn't like us," Jason whispered once he was gone.
"True. I shouldn't have told him about the snakes. We knew it was strange and that should have made me careful. I was too excited to finally meet one of our kind," Tom said.
"It's fine. It's too late now, but when we get to school we'll need to seem reformed. Convince him we've turned over a new leaf."
"We'll need to return the trophies."
"That's alright. We'll leave them behind with this life. We're wizards now. We don't need those trophies."
"You're right as usual," Tom gave Jason a grin, which was returned happily. Tom didn't smile easily and Jason always felt a small victory when he won one. What the two didn't know yet was that Dumbledore's concern would remain, and his suspicions would only grow when they were sorted into Slytherin.