The Little Magic Boy
Right, so if you haven't read the Ones Left Behind, this will make no sense to you and you probably won't care. (If you do find yourself caring, go read that! It's rather good, if I do say so.)
If you have read the Ones Left behind, hello and welcome back! :D I'm here again, if only for a oneshot. A celebration, if you will, for finally getting around to perfecting the old girl, and an apology that I might not be writing Harry Potter fics for a long time … for the simple reason that I might not be writing fanfiction for a long time.
Bad news for you, I guess. But for me, I'm happy because I finally feel ready to try writing my own original fiction. I hope y'all enjoy the story.
Don't own Harry Potter. Don't own nothing.
The Little Magic Boy
The determination of my eleven year old self is something completely unrivalled in all the other ages of my life. One visit to Diagon Alley was simply not enough for me. I had to see it again, with my own company, at my own pace, in my own way.
I saved my pocket money for weeks. Every second of the journey was planned out, in neat, loopy writing in an old notebook – from the moment my mother left the house in the morning to visit some friend, to the exact length and fare of the train journey, giving myself plenty of time in case I got lost in London, and enough money to get lunch and maybe an ice-cream in the magical shopping street.
If all went well, I would be back in time for dinner.
I had a packet of sweets for the train from Bath to London, and my diary in my bag even though I was too nervous to write in it. Also in the bag, placed with as much care as if it were made of glass, was my brand new wand. I had taken to bringing it wherever I went. Not that I knew any spells to speak of, but just to know where it was at all times. To remind myself that this was who I was.
I was magical.
It really was by some sort of miracle that I managed to find my way to the Leaky Cauldron, gazing up at the dreary old pub with such awe that it might as well have been the entrance to Disneyland.
Sitting outside a little café, with a tall glass of a fizzy drink that tasted strangely like liquorice, maybe, but that I couldn't quite put my finger on, I looked up and down the street at all the shop displays and the oddly dressed people.
I was completely terrified. And yet I had never felt so happy.
I had bought the drink with the little bit of change I'd hoarded after the last visit with my mother, but now that I had run out I had to visit Gringotts. My location was so comfortable, and the tall, gleaming marble building at the end of the street was so formidable that it was a long time before I got up and made my way towards that fateful moment of running into the future love of my life.
I remember the purse very well. It was glittery and shaped like the face of a very rotund cat. I was standing outside the bank, counting my money carefully as I braced myself for the expedition. There wasn't much I needed to buy, really, but I was dying to get my hands on some of the books with the leather bindings and intricately patterned covers that I had seen at the bookshop during my last visit. I had already scoured the pages of my schoolbooks, but I wanted to see the novels, the stories, the fairy tales that were written by people who – as it seemed to me – already lived in a fairy tale.
I was so distracted that I didn't even notice the family that were at that time walking down the steps of the bank towards me. The woman dressed in flowing black robes, with a very straight nose, a very stiff face, and a very high chin; the younger boy who was sniffling at something his brother had said; and, of course, the eldest child who was trailing behind his mother and brother with a deep scowl. If I had noticed them, my mouth would have dropped open and books would have been the very last thing on my mind. I definitely would have moved out of the way in time, and not have been knocked into by the eldest of the two boys as he stomped furiously down the steps.
Sirius filled me in on what he remembered was happening before he bumped into me, making me drop my purse.
"Oh, shove off, Reggie!" the boy said, rolling his eyes. "I was only kidding. Would you stop crying, for Merlin's sake."
Reggie wiped his face and turned around to his brother to shout, "I'm not crying!"
The mother rolled her eyes in the exact same way as the eldest boy and tutted. She did not pay any heed to the one who was crying, or the one was standing unmoving at the door of the bank. "I do wish you would stop calling him that. It makes you sound common."
"Maybe I'd like to be common," the older boy muttered.
His mother was at the bottom of the steps now, and didn't even bother to turn around to see if her eldest son was following. "What did you say, dear?" she asked distractedly. She did not take the school book list out to check, because that's what the help was for. But she was keen to get her eldest son fitted for his new robes, and hopefully to bump into as many of her friends and relations as possible so that she could brag about her son, of whom she was so very proud.
He stood still at the top of the steps, sucking in his cheeks and glaring at his mother. "I said maybe it's too hot for robes!" he called.
Nobody turned around, or even acknowledged that he had spoken. He watched his mother's tall pointed hat bobbing through the crowd, off down the street. He ripped his own hat off his head and shoved his hands into his pockets before charging crossly after them.
Both of us being fairly distracted, we didn't see each other until the moment we collided.
There was a great clamour as seemingly every single coin my little purse went flying to the cobbled street. I gasped and dropped quickly to my knees to grab them as they went rolling in every direction.
"Ah! I'm sorry-" the boy said quickly, leaning down to pick some from the bottom of the stone steps. But before picking them up he halted and stared at the coin in front of him, a fifty pence piece. He stared at it for a very long moment, and touched it gently with pale fingers before taking it up in his hand and turning his head to me. He was bent down on one knee on the cobbles, and I was sitting on the step above him so when we each lifted our heads to look at each other we were on a perfect level.
Time seemed to freeze as our eyes met. I completely forgot that we were in a crowded street, surrounded by people and that my money was still scattered all around us. I think I forgot who I was, too. I just saw that his eyes were as grey as storm clouds, his face pale and beautiful in every way. His hair was jet black and had been neatly parted to one side with a wet comb.
But what fascinated me most of all was what I saw when I looked down. Underneath his elbow was tucked a pointed wizard's hat patterned with thousands of tiny, glittering stars. He wore a long black cloak that was embroidered with terrific patterns in glimmering green thread, beneath which a sort of pleated waistcoat and stodgy shorts ensemble could be glimpsed. He had socks pulled to his knees, and fine leather shoes.
I looked back up at his face, only to see him studying my own clothing with keen eyes. They flicked up to meet mine with a sort of mild curiosity, and he smiled and placed the coin into my hand.
"Thank you," I said weakly, hardly daring to blink in case he disappeared.
He grinned widely at me, then rapidly looked behind him and back. He looked me up and down once more, then leaned slightly closer, holding my gaze all the time. "Hogwarts?" he asked, and without waiting for a reply he continued, "First year?"
At the time, I didn't understand how he had guessed. But it was probably all too obvious. My general excitement, my amazement at his clothes and appearance, my Muggle money. I just nodded.
He grinned even wider. Quite suddenly, he straightened up.
I heard a woman call out something that sounded like a name but didn't make sense to my ears. He glanced around again, and I realised it was his name.
He looked indecisive for a moment, studying me with a hungry expression. Then he pursed his lips and held out his hand.
I took it and he helped me to my feet. We stayed holding hands for a moment, and instead of feeling weird and uncomfortable it felt completely natural and rather nice. After a moment we sort of repositioned our fingers and shook each other's hand. I don't think I had ever shaken someone's hand before. I explored his face with my own eyes with equal eagerness.
He smiled. "Nice to make your acquaintance. See you at school." He shot me one last grin, and finally let go of my hand before turning around and disappearing into the crowd.
I must have sat on that step for twenty minutes trying to get over my shock. And later, when I saw him again in Flourish and Blotts, he had shed his outer cloak and was looking more like he had stepped out of the beginning of the century rather than somewhere completely otherworldly and wonderful. But I still thought he was the most extraordinary person I had ever seen. Because out of all the interesting people in Diagon Alley and even the creepy Goblin people in the bank, he was the very first one I saw who had my own astonishment reflected in his eyes. He was just like me, after all. He was a kid, going away to school for the first time, seeing and speaking to someone they never thought they would see or speak to. He came from a Wizarding family, clearly, and yet he seemed to be as interested in me as I was in him.
And that was what made the difference.
The Little Magic Boy should have been impossible to forget. And he would have been, too, if Sirius Black hadn't gotten in the way.
After rooting through countless notebooks and diaries that spanned the course of almost ten years, I finally came across an entry for that day. I did not mention the boy. I didn't even explain where I was or what had happened to make me say what I did. I guess I thought I would always remember it.
This is all I wrote:
Have not even gotten to Hogwarts yet, and it seems I have already found a friend!
Friend! Friend? Can you believe it? I mean, I didn't even admit Sirius was my friend for months and months of hanging out with him and James! Eleven year old me was such a little freak.
But, the Little Magic Boy was always my friend. It just took me a while to remember.
It was pretty hard to imagine that he was the same little boy with whom I now shared a flat, to whom I told all my deepest thoughts, with whom I was in love. It's the type of thing that makes you wonder if fate and destiny and all that crap really did exist after all. Scary thought, that James might have been the one on the right track all along.
It was the day after we received our NEWT results in the post (after we had recovered from the hangovers, that is), that Sirius had asked,
"Have you figured out what you want to do with your life yet? … Besides living with me and fixing my meals and doing the washing, I mean."
We had both passed the exams with flying colours. Somehow (and it's a conundrum I'll never understand), Sirius had managed to achieve Outstandings in all of DADA, Transfiguration, and Care of Magical Creatures without lifting a bloody finger. Although, his Acceptable in Muggle Studies was a severe disappointment, which he assured me would have been another O if only it had been Muggle-born Studies instead. Dating one surely seemed to make him think himself an expert. We weren't competitive, we really weren't, and he even consoled me by saying that even though I pretended and attempted to study didn't mean I did a whole lot more work than he did. He took this back when I said that two Outstanding and three Exceeds Expectations were just as good, if not better, than his grades. I mean, at least I hadn't gotten an A.
The results were still a bit anti-climatic for both of us. We thought that they might have given us some guidance as to what we would do now that we were out of school, but all I learned was that I didn't give a flying fwooper if I'd make the greatest Seer the world had ever seen. I never wanted to look into a crystal ball again in my entire life.
"No," I said. "I haven't the foggiest."
I smiled slightly, and Sirius began to grin. "Yeah. Me neither."
Our answer came shortly afterwards, at a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix. It was clear to us that there was a great enemy in our futures. Instability, regression and all that, as foretold by the Heat Card. And Sirius never could pass up a good fight. At the meeting, it was proposed that the word should be spread abroad.
We hardly even needed to look at each other to check what the other was thinking. Sirius just said, "We'll do it." And in two days we had packed up the little belongings we had – clothes, books, the tarot cards, the diary he had given me for my birthday – in a small rucksack with an undetectable extension charm, before hopping on his motorbike and leaving on the adventure we both craved so badly. We visited all the major Wizarding villages and towns of Europe, Asia, America, making friends and camping and falling even more deeply in love under starry skies, on the tops of white mountains and in the depths of green valleys, whizzing through winding city streets and down long country lanes you couldn't see the ends of.
And our mission wasn't entirely unsuccessful. We could at least hope that when the time came for war, the people we had spoken to would remember us and join the fight alongside our allies. But when we had done all we could do, we continued to travel around the world. Aimlessly guided by the hands of fate we weren't even sure existed, two travellers on a timeless road, never looking back and scarcely thinking forward.
We returned to England for the wedding. I remembered too late the way we had laughed in the photograph and almost wished I could recall what had been said, but the joke had been fleeting, a passing comment, lost in the past forever. We spoke of marriage a good deal, but only as a concept, something we could dissect the meaning and value of but never really having time for it ourselves. I suspected that one day we might do it, just for legal reasons or whatever.
Then came the child, little Harry James Potter. I remembered Seeing his face so clearly in the crystal ball, and I knew there was something special about the kid.
Kids. Sirius and I talked about everything, we had lengthy conversations about every topic under the sun, but I'm convinced that children was one subject we never touched.
We painted the flat. Gathered together on the couch, we held hands and reminded one another that this was the last part of our future that we had foreseen. After this precise moment in time, everything became uncertain. I looked at Sirius with the paint in his hair and wondered if I'd ever see him grow old and grey. Would we stay together that long? Would we even live until then? Who knew, we mightn't even make it to next week.
And then what would happen?
And it was there in the newly-painted flat, with the future seemingly splayed before us, that I finally knew where our story would end.
I had gathered the few diary extracts that were relevant and somewhat sensibly written, lists and explanations and rants, and the entry Sirius had written and even the letters James had sent us when we chose to stay behind. With a bit of help for accuracy, I had managed to pull together a story. A book, which until now was trailing after our life, its end as indeterminable as our own futures.
I ran to the type-writer, my baby, with the idea still fresh on my mind. The ending for the book.
The story didn't really have a proper beginning. It all started as a random encounter, an idiotic girl traipsing behind the greenhouses, completely unaware that the events of that afternoon would send her spiralling into the world of the Marauders.
There wasn't a definitive middle to the plot, just the slow but sure account of a blossoming friendship.
But for some reason, I had felt the need for the ending to be very final, very conclusive, a real 'happily ever after' moment. Pessimistic readers like me, or Sirius, for that matter, would see the two young people in love, arms around each other as they returned to the castle, joking about their friend's virginity, as a pretty ambiguous ending. You can't know what the future has in store for the characters. They could shortly realise that they don't work together at all and break up. It could be years later that they meet other people, and find out that their relationship wasn't as fantastical as they had always thought. Or maybe they'll stick it out until the very end, until the only escape from their mundane and unfulfilled lives is the final sweet release of death.
The ending of a book is never really the ending, after all. It's just the point at which the author decides to stop writing.
I decided that the book didn't need a 'happily ever after' sort of finale. I couldn't guarantee that the story of me and Sirius would end happily, for the simple fact that I didn't know how it would turn out myself. But he and I didn't speak about our future, and we only told each other the significant aspects of our pasts. None of that mattered, because all we knew was that at that moment in time, we loved each other. We were happy.
And I had a deadline for a publisher from Flourish and Blotts in a week's time.
Maybe the ending wasn't 'happily ever after', but it was happy. And it was the best one I could think of.
So, on that note, the story ended.