I’m pretty sure my Acropolis escapade has travelled right around the wizarding world back home, a suspicion confirmed by the arrival of my owl—I’ve never bothered to name him so I generally just call him Owl—bearing letters from Hugo, James and Abby.
Did you actually Apparate to the Acropolis? That’s amazing. I’m in awe of you. Though I’m annoyed you’ve lost me ten Galleons, I bet your brother you wouldn’t do anything phenomenally stupid on your first day. Anyway, hope you’ve made it to the university okay now, let me know how it is!
Lily, you just won me ten Galleons. I owe you. Figuratively speaking, that is, because I’m broke.
Aunt Ginny came round last night telling us you were stuck on the Acropolis. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. In all seriousness though, you’re an idiot. High five!
At this point a hand that Hugo drew on the parchment comes to life, waiting for the aforementioned high five. Shaking my head, I high five the parchment hand and it subsides back into the letter.
I love Hugo.
I spend the rest of the afternoon unpacking and arranging my room. I’m especially proud of my feature wall, where I’ve created a giant mosaic Gryffindor crest with the words the Sorting Hat sang in my first year at Hogwarts: ‘Your heart may truly lie in Gryffindor, along with the hearts of the heroes of war.’ I nearly cry again when I look at it.
I never used to cry, honest.
Amber comes into my room while I’m arranging the few books I’ve brought with me on the shelves.
“What’s Gryffindor?” she asks, looking at my feature wall.
“My house at Hogwarts. My entire family was in Gryffindor, and my grandparents on both sides – it goes way back,” I explain.
“How do you pick your houses?”
“We get Sorted. We have a Sorting Hat, which reads your mind, I suppose, and it puts you in the house that suits you best. Gryffindor is for courage.”
“What are the others?”
“Um, Ravenclaw is for intelligence, Hufflepuff is for kindness and justice, Slytherin is for cunning and ambition.”
“We didn’t have houses,” Amber says. “We were just separated into grades, first through seventh. Everyone got really close in senior year, I miss them so much.”
“I know the feeling. So there are no other Americans here?”
“Not that I know of. I mean, there might be some guys, not that I know them.”
“What’s the boys’ school called?”
“Lincoln Wizards’ High. We used to run a Quidditch exchange with them.” Amber roams around my room, looking at the photos I have plastered on my walls. “This your family?”
“That’s about half of them.”
“Yeah, I have a pretty big family. Mum had six brothers.”
Amber’s eyebrows shoot up. “I feel sorry for your grandma.”
“Believe me, so do I. What’s your family like?”
“Pretty small,” Amber admits. “Mom and Dad have a few siblings, but when they were married Squibs didn’t have many rights or social standing, so they both kinda lost contact with their families. But I have two brothers, and then all the girls I graduated with are like sisters to me.”
“I have two brothers too. Are yours older or younger?”
“One older, one younger. What about yours?”
“Both older, and both with about as much direction as me.”
Amber picks up a photo of me with James and Al. “This them?”
“Not meaning to be creepy, but the one in the middle is kinda good looking.”
“Al?” I ask incredulously. “Wow. You’re welcome to him.”
Amber grins. “You’re forgetting how starved I am of male company.”
“Good point,” I concede. “I wonder if there are any pubs around the neighbourhood? We should go out for drinks before lectures start next week.”
Amber shrugs. “Should we go explore? We’ve still got ages till dinner.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
The EUS campus, I discover, is much bigger than I initially thought. There are three halls that house students, arranged around a large field with an elaborate fountain in the centre. The hall complex is on the corner of two roads, Thinkery Road (seriously, that’s the main road through campus) and Hestia Ave. The whole complex is like a giant rectangle, with Thinkery Road running straight down the middle and a number of little side streets separating the various faculties. Amber and I have a good explore, finding the Faculty of Magical Sports, Dark Arts Studies, Magical Arts, Magical Sciences, Wizarding Studies, Magical Politics, Education, Astrology and Magical Flora and Fauna. The latter is the biggest, with massive paddocks housing all manner of magical beasts, a large greenhouse, a couple of lecture theatres and three impressive-sized barns.
None of that really matters, however, because we’ve found the most important place: The Hub. Halfway down Thinkery Road, it’s basically the nucleus of student life, with a quadrangle, a library that looks bigger than the whole of Hogwarts, the university bookshop, a student health centre, seven bars , five cafes and a sweet shop that looks like a massive Honeydukes. All my uncertainties about coming here flee at the sight of it.
“I think I’m in heaven,” I declare.
Amber nods slowly in agreement and tows me into the nearest café. Even though Orientation Week is only for first-year students, there are people milling around everywhere. Seized with Gryffindor courage, I wade into a large group of students and introduce myself.
The group, I find out, is from Iceland. They’re staying in Socrates Hall (We’re in Plato Hall, the other is Xenophon Hall – sensing a theme?) and come from the Fgdfivjnervu School of Magic – I just made that up, I couldn’t make out what they said - and ask me where I’m from, where I’m staying and what I’m studying. The last question vaguely reminds me that I should go choose my papers, and a number of colourful posters inform me I can do that at the Student Support and Admin Centre (this particular name is given in about eight different languages.)
“Come with me to Student Support and Admin?” I ask Amber.
“Sure, what for?”
“Need to choose my papers.”
“Oh yeah, same here.”
The Student Support and Admin Centre is a large, round, whitewashed building with a blue domed roof, crowded with students and filled with information displays from various faculties. I find the Wizarding Studies display and pick up a list of available papers.
First Year Wizarding Studies (Papers offered in English)
-Apparition 101: Techniques, Innovations and Advanced Practice
-Magic of Music 101: An Introduction
-The Light Arts 101: Introduction to Charmed Portraits
-The Light Arts 102: Introduction to Wizarding Photography
-History of Sorcery 101: Muggle Mythology and Magic
-History of Sorcery 102 Special Topic: Voldemort, Death Eaters and Britain’s Magical Civil War
-History of Sorcery 103: A History of Eastern Magic
-Ministry Studies 101: The Statute of Secrecy and the Birth of the Ministries*
-Muggle Relations 101: An Introduction to Wizard/Muggle Relations in the 21st Century*
-Muggle Relations 102: Witch Burnings and Fairytales: Muggles and Magic Before the Statute*
*Can also form part of Bachelor of Magical Politics
These are more interesting than I thought. At the next table, Amber is poring through her own course list.
“Witch Burnings and Fairytales,” she mutters to herself. “Lily, check this one out, it’s a Muggle Relations one.”
“It’s offered in my degree as well. Should we do it?”
“Sure,” she says, pulling out a quill and circling it on her booklet. “At least I’ll know someone in one of my lectures. There’s a History of Sorcery one here as well, ‘Voldemort, Death Eaters and Britain’s Civil War.’ You’d know all about that, I guess, being English.”
I pause to consider her words. She doesn’t even know who my dad is. It occurs to me that here at EUS, nobody knows me as ‘Harry Potter’s daughter.’ It’s…liberating.
“Yeah,” I say in response to her comment. “That’s another Wizarding Studies paper, I might do it. It’d be nice and easy.”
“And you can help me,” Amber says. “I might do it as an interest paper…So I need a couple more Muggle Relations.” She lapses into a concentrated silence.
Half an hour later, we’ve decided on our papers. Magical Politics and Wizarding Studies have a number of subjects in common, so we’re both doing Muggle Relations 101 and 102 and History of Sorcery 102. In addition to those, I’ve chosen History of Sorcery 101 (I find that ironic, because I hated History of Magic at Hogwarts – everyone did) as well as Apparition 101 and Light Arts 101, the portrait painting one, for fun.
And that’s my year sorted. I fill out my choice of papers form, having to go up to the desk to find out my student number. Said student number is made up of my initials, the year I enrolled, the international code of my previous school, the number student I am from that school and the code of my hall. So I’m no longer Lily, but LLP2027HSWW02PH. Amber is ACF2027SWI01PH.
“Wait a minute,” I say, comparing mine and Amber’s student numbers. “Why am I HSWW02? That means there’s someone else from Hogwarts here.”
Amber shrugs. “There are thousands of students here, there’s bound to be at least one other, right?”
“You’re the only one from Salem,” I point out.
“Yes, but we have our own university.”
“I wonder if I can find out,” I muse. “Who this mystery fellow Hogwartian is.”
We return to Plato Hall for dinner, where Marama, Luke and Nathan beckon us over. I don’t think they’ve moved since we left them; there’s a pile of cards sitting in the middle of the table.
“What have you two been up to?” Nathan asks.
“Having an explore,” I reply. “Found the bars.”
“Bars?” Marama asks, perking up. “Do you guys wanna go for drinks after tea?”
“After tea?” I repeat, puzzled.
“I mean dinner,” Marama corrects herself. “We call it tea back home.”
“You guys are weird. But yeah, drinks sound good.”
“Where are the bars?” Luke asks.
“The Hub. It’s this massive place with all the cafes and the library and the bookshop and everything. It’s amazing.”
“Awesome,” Luke says cheerfully. “What floor are you guys on?”
“We’re on first,” Luke says, encompassing himself and Nathan, “And the Kiwi’s on fourth. If we all meet outside our rooms? I’m 118, Nate’s 119.”
“Good plan,” I say approvingly, and with this sorted, we collect our food and lapse into silence as we eat.
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