A New Home
A New Home
Platform nine and three-quarters was full and noisy, albeit slightly misty from the steam emanating from the Hogwarts Express. Robed wizards and witches were saying goodbye to their children and shuffling them onboard the brilliantly crimson train, much to the embarrassment of many of the students. An air of excitement filled the crowded space, as usual, while an odd sense of relief mingled with the parents’ worries as they watched their children go off to school. It was the first of September and it was time to return to Hogwarts.
Jack Jones looked upon this sight for the first time. The sixteen-year-old ran his fingers through his dark brown hair and let it fall limply to his side, feeling distinctly awkward. He wore a black t-shirt over his slender frame with a pair of old, reliable blue jeans giving him some sense of comfort on this anxious day. Slung over his dominant right shoulder was a well-worn backpack filled with his new school books, quills and notebooks, potions ingredients, and extra socks. The rest of his clothes were packed in the wheeled suitcase he was dragging. Unlike the other students, he was not carrying a cat or an owl with him. He could not afford one.
“You’ll want to move, son.”
Jack looked around and saw a station employee shooing him away from the barrier. He hastily complied as an especially large family of eight pushed through.
Another station employee a bit further down the platform yelled, “All aboard!” and a controlled state of chaos ensued. Jack hurried forward and clambered onto the steps of a car midway down the train. Other students pushed and rushed as they piled onto the train, laughing and talking in accents Jack could easily recognize as hailing from the United Kingdom. His feeling of awkwardness intensified somewhat.
Most of the other students were traveling in packs. Friends and relatives were all together. Assumedly, they had all been attending Hogwarts together every year, so most of them knew all the others. Most compartments he walked by were already full, and though a few only had two or three people, he did not want to intrude on friends.
Two cars down, Jack finally found an empty compartment. He slid open the door, closed it behind himself, and sat down with a large sigh. He felt as if he had just dodged a barrage of bullets.
He put his backpack at his feet and the suitcase in the rack above his head. He pulled his wand out of his pocket and twirled it in his fingers. Eleven inches of maple wood with a core of owl feather. It was his pride and joy. Bought new, unlike everything else he owned, he had saved up his money for years until he finally turned 11. Five years later, it was still his most treasured possession.
Jack waved his wand casually. “Wisperio!”
A small cloud of smoke blossomed from the tip of his wand and slowly began to separate. Thin star-shaped clouds formed and hovered for a few seconds before disappearing.
“I’ve never seen that spell before,” said a voice from the doorway.
Jack had not noticed the door opening. He looked up at a tall, thin boy of about the same age, with slick black hair hanging loosely over a handsome face. The boy switched his gaze from the place where the clouds had been to Jack’s face.
“Just something I made up,” Jack said, shrugging.
“You must have a lot of free time,” said the boy, grinning widely, although it seemed more of a leer.
“Occasionally,” he replied, not returning the grin.
“So you’re the American?”
“I’m an American, yeah,” Jack told him. “There’s more than one of us, you know.”
“Not here,” he said. “Not at Hogwarts.”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything.”
“Yes, I daresay there is,” he replied, holding out a hand. “So you’re the genius, then?”
He was almost sneering in his question. Jack merely shrugged at what was, in his opinion, an untrue statement.
“Well, the name’s Lukas.”
The two boys shook, but Jack could not help feeling uneasy about it.
“I’m a prefect,” Lukas said, pointing to the badge on his chest, “so I’m checking compartments. If there are kids without a place to sit, I’m going to have to tell them yours is open.”
“I’m sure we’ll see each other at school, then.”
“Yeah,” said Jack, nodding. “Sure we will.”
Lukas gave another leering smile and then disappeared back into the corridor. Jack left the door open, knowing the other seats would likely be filled soon enough. He just hoped they wouldn’t be filled by students as pretentious or unnerving as Lukas.
The train began to roll out of the station with a lurch forward. Just as Jack began to watch the station slip away from the window, there was a polite knock on the compartment door. He looked around to see a short boy with thick glasses sliding off his nose peering into the compartment, looking quite relieved to see it empty. The boy wore a much too small t-shirt with a logo that said “25th Annual Potions Championship” and khaki pants over an expensive pair of dress shoes. He immediately gave off an air of unpopularity. Jack knew that feeling well and he felt quite sympathetic towards the boy.
“Do you mind?” he asked meekly. “I was a bit late…”
“Not at all, no. Come on in.”
The boy gratefully moved in and let his trunk fall to the floor by his feet. He sat down and sighed with the same glad-to-be-over-with expression Jack had so recently worn.
“Did Lukas tell you to come in?”
“Yes,” the boy replied, looking suddenly wary. “Are you friends?”
“No,” Jack said. “Just met him.”
The boy looked relieved.
“I’m guessing you’re not his friend either,” Jack said, grinning a bit.
“Friends? With Lukas L. R.? Of course not.”
“L.R.?” asked Jack. “What’s the L.R. for? What’s his last name?”
“I don’t know,” said the boy. “I don’t think anyone does. Most people don’t fancy asking questions about him,” he added, as though giving a warning. “It’s probably better that way.”
“And why is that?”
The boy shrugged, looking nervous.
“He’s… well… he’s very popular,” he said slowly. “He’s the top student at Hogwarts. Everyone likes him. But… he scares people a bit. I don’t think I should talk about it.”
He glanced at the compartment door, clearly unnerved. Jack decided not to press the issue further, lest he give the kid a heart attack.
“Well, I’m Jack. Jack Jones. It’s good to meet you.”
He reached his hand across to the boy and they shook. The kid smiled.
“I’m Quentin Barnes. And you’re the American, eh?”
“So I’ve heard.”
Quentin laughed and Jack was glad that he had at least found one person who did not care that he was different.
“What house are you in?” asked Jack.
“Ravenclaw,” said Quentin proudly. “Wit beyond measure –”
“– is man’s greatest treasure,” Jack finished, grinning. “I’ve done my research.”
“Very good. I assume you’ll be with us, eh? We’re the ones with the brains, I suppose.”
“I don’t have more brains than anyone else,” Jack told him. “I just make do with what I’ve got. And I don’t know where I’ll end up. They haven’t told me much.”
“Well…” began Quentin, looking slightly embarrassed, “I’m honored to meet you. They say you’re a genius, one in a million. The Daily Prophet says you’re going to help everyone here just by being with us.”
Jack felt himself go a little red.
“If growing up in America has taught me one thing, it’s that most of what comes out in the media is bull,” said Jack, trying not to grin at the flattery. “I’m no smarter than you and I’m not kidding. I’m just lucky enough to have been invited to Hogwarts. Learning at the best wizarding institution in the world is an honor, so I’m also honored to meet you.”
Quentin smiled and looked out the window at the passing trees and fields.
“Okay, enough of the butt-kissing,” Jack said. “Got any cards on you?”
Laughing, Quentin said, “Cards? Playing cards, you mean? No, I don’t. Why? Should I?”
“Don’t worry about it, here –”
Jack pulled out his wand again, drew it across his left palm and concentrated on the spell in his head. With a loud crack, a pack of playing cards appeared in his palm. Quentin’s eyes were wide.
“How did you do that?! You can’t just create something from nothing! You broke the laws of magic!”
“Don’t be so quick to jump to a conclusion,” he said as he reached into his backpack and pulled out a recently vacated box for playing cards. “Not all brilliance is real. Half of it is just cheap tricks.”
“But still…” Quentin said slowly. “You did it nonverbally… I’m going into my sixth year and I can’t do that spell nonverbally yet. And I’m the best in my house…”
“You’re in your sixth year?” Jack asked, pointedly not responding to the rest of his statements while he separated the cards. “That’s cool. So am I.”
“Yeah… yeah, that’s good. We might well be in the same classes, then.”
They began to play muggle card games, though Jack had to teach Quentin how. A number of other students walked by their compartment but none came in looking for a seat. Jack found it indicative that Quentin did not expect any friends to drop in on them.
After a while, the food trolley came by and they each grabbed a few chocolate frogs to tide them over before dinner. The landscape through the window flashed by under Jack’s interested gaze, setting his eyes upon a country that he had never seen in person before. In fact, he had never left Washington D.C. before except once to see a Baltimore Beaters Quidditch match over in Maryland when he was ten years old. The orphanage had saved up funds for years to bring the kids to a Quidditch match and Jack remembered it as the best day of his youth. Being poor was rarely fun, but at least he had had others to share it with. He smiled a bit as he watched a particularly green field slide into view.
The train’s interior lights turned on as the sky darkened quickly, but time could not pass quickly enough for Jack. His initial awkward embarrassment to find himself the lone new student on a train full of Europeans had dissolved under the weight of the pure excitement that had settled in his stomach. He was actually going to Hogwarts, the most famous wizarding school in the world. There was so much he had read in the papers, so much he had learned from textbooks about the place that he felt to see it in person would put him in the midst of a real-life fairy tale. But not only was he going to see it, he was going to be learning there! The years of hard work had finally paid off, it seemed. Jack had always felt as though there was never going to be a reward for the endless amounts of studying he did, nor any relief from the poor wizarding community of Green Valley, but here he was on the Hogwarts Express, all thanks to two aurors: Stephen Walker and Harry Potter.
Jack pulled a well-worn piece of parchment out of his right pocket and unfolded it. He could barely read it now because of the crinkles he had caused by reading it repeatedly.
I would like to extend to you an invitation to become the first American student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this coming fall as part of an international relationship-building experiment I have suggested to the Ministry of Magic.
Your name came to my attention through auror Stephen Walker, whom I believe you know well, upon my request for an American student who would well-represent his country at Hogwarts. I asked for an academically accomplished student who is good natured and eager to be a role model. Mr. Walker immediately suggested you.
If you would consent to join us overseas this fall, Mr. Walker will arrange your transfer to London on the 31st of August. I will send the required textbooks and robes to you, free of charge, if you consent with your return owl. Once in London, you will board the Hogwarts Express from platform nine and three-quarters. Mr. Walker will show you the way. I regret that I cannot meet you in person at that time, but I’m sure we’ll meet soon enough.
I look forward to your owl in the hope that you will seize the opportunity to learn at Hogwarts, which I can say without hesitation is the greatest learning institution in the world. I’m sure you will learn much, knowing the kind of student you are, and I guarantee you will have some fun, too, at Hogwarts. I certainly did, myself.
Please respond within a week’s time if you are able, so I may notify Hogwarts’ Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. She is not fond of tardiness, to say the least.
Harry J. Potter
Head of Auror Department
Ministry of Magic
In his initial excitement, Jack had read the letter twice before reading who had signed it. Once he had deciphered the signature, he had yelled in celebration and disbelief, causing the rest of the orphanage to come running. He showed them all what he had been sent, and instead of showing any sign of jealously, they had been overjoyed to hear the news. They all had said they were proud of him, and Jack could not have been any happier if he had won a million galleons.
Never putting the letter down, he had ran all the way – all two and a half miles – into the city to the American Administration of Magic complex, which he entered through the muggle-proof door at the back of an inconspicuously dilapidated building. Once inside, he sprinted to the Auror Offices on the other side of the first floor and bounded into Stephen Walker’s office. Incredibly, he was there, and upon sight of him, Jack had hugged him like a child would have hugged a parent – which was fitting, seeing as Steve was the closest thing Jack had ever had to a parent. The tall, blonde-haired, chubby faced auror had ruffled his hair, congratulated him, and sent him back to the orphanage feeling as elated as he could ever possibly be. Jack could not find words worthy of his thanks, but Steve had seemed to understand, and Jack would have never expected anything other from him.
“What’s that?” Quentin asked, bringing him out of his memories.
“Just a letter.”
Jack folded it and put it back in his pocket. Quentin had already been a little upset over the fact that Jack knew a spell he could not do, so he thought it best not to mention that he had been contacted by the famous Harry Potter. He was not here in England to appear to be somebody special. He was here for Hogwarts.
“Well, we should change,” said Quentin, pointing out the window. “I can see the castle now.”
Jack jumped to the window and looked upon the most incredible sight he had ever seen. The Hogwarts castle was silhouetted against the velvety midnight blue sky, yellow lights gleaming through the castle windows like the stars above it. The towers and turrets loomed imperiously over the forests and lake below, a fortress that students like Nicholas Flamel, Albus Dumbledore, and Harry Potter had once called home. The anxious excitement bubbled in his stomach, coursing through his veins like a stimulant.
Quentin laughed at Jack’s open mouth, staring out the window, and said, “You get used to it after a while.”
“I doubt it,” Jack said.
Quentin laughed again and they put on their Hogwarts robes. Jack looked at himself in his new robes in the window’s reflection and smiled.
The Hogwarts Express came to a stop moments later and students began to file out into the corridor. Jack grabbed his suitcase and slung his backpack over his right shoulder. Quentin followed suit, grabbing the handle of his large trunk. They moved out into the jumble of students filing down the compartment like an ocean, the tide carrying them only one way.
Once out onto the platform, Jack was nearly bowled over by a massive wild-looking man with a long, tangled gray beard.
“Sorry bou’ tha’,” he said gruffly, sparing Jack a glance before turning to shout to the crowd. “Firs’ years, with me, alright? Eh? You lot!”
The unimaginably huge man stomped off after the first years and Jack turned questioningly to Quentin.
“That’s Hagrid, the Care of Magical Creatures professor,” said Quentin, grinning. “He’s half giant.”
“Well that explains it…”
They moved over to the dirt road where a number of thestrals where standing with carriages harnessed to their backs. The thestrals looked almost frightening in the moonlight, but Jack knew there was nothing to be feared from them. They were gentle beings, really, once you got past their appearance, he thought. Luckily, the thestral at the front of the queue carried an empty carriage and the two of them climbed in gratefully. The other carriages filled up quickly, and before long, two girls walked up to their carriage with imploring looks on their faces.
“Budge over, Quentin,” said Jack, sliding himself to the other end.
The two girls gave apologetic smiles and climbed up. Quentin looked markedly uncomfortable sitting next to two females. One of them, a particularly pretty blonde girl with a kind face said, “Thanks a lot.”
“No problem,” Jack said, trying not to make a fool of himself. “The more the merrier.”
What a stupid thing to say, Jack thought. Well, you were bound to make an idiot of yourself soon enough…
But the girl laughed at his awkwardness and said, “Your accent… you’re the American?”
“I don’t have an accent, you do,” Jack said.
She laughed again and Jack felt something in the area of his heart jump into his throat and then splash down in his innards.
“I’m Chloe Taylor.”
“And I’m Jack Jones, apparently the only American on this side of the world.”
She smiled and said, “Where are you from? My father works at the American Administration of Magic in the International Relations Department. He takes a portkey there every morning.”
“Well, I live only a couple miles from there, just outside of D.C. Hey… his last name’s Taylor, you said?” he asked, looking thoughtful. “I think I’ve met him before.”
She laughed again and they started an enjoyable conversation. They talked all the way up to the school, while Quentin was not so lucky. Chloe’s attractive dark-haired friend was looking in the other direction as intently as possible as Quentin fidgeted with his hands for most of the journey. Quentin’s unpopularity seemed to precede him. As Jack was half laughing at something Chloe had said and half watching Quentin’s internal struggles, he vowed to make it a priority to teach Quentin how to make friends and be social this year.
The carriages finally stopped and they stepped out onto the dirt. Here, Jack looked up and got his first up-close view of the castle. His first thought was that he really had fallen into some kind of fairy tale, for the castle instilled in him a sense of unbelievable opportunity, a place where he could hone his magical skills and make Steve and Mr. Potter proud. Hogwarts was his new home.
“It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?” Chloe asked him.
“Yeah, it is,” said Jack, switching his gaze from the castle to her. “It really is.”
She smiled at him and they started to walk towards the front monstrous oak front doors, which stood open like wide arms welcoming them all back home. Jack stopped and looked around.
“What’s the hold up back there, Q?”
Quentin seemed to have been waiting for Jack, Chloe, and her friend to walk away before he started his own ascent to the castle. But upon invitation, he sped up and walked next to Jack, looking slightly embarrassed as he pushed his glasses further back up the bridge of his nose.
“You haven’t been sorted, have you?” Chloe asked. “Where will you be sitting?”
“Wherever you are,” he said before he could restrain himself, but then added in a would-be nonchalant tone, “I mean… you know… wherever. Doesn’t matter to me.”
Chloe giggled yet again and Jack marveled at how glorious the sound was. Her friend made a noise halfway between impatient and disgusted. Jack did not quite know what to make of that, so he said nothing.
They walked up to the doorway and were met by an army of house elves lining the walls of the Entrance Hall. Four elves rushed up to them and said, “We will take your bags and trunks, sirs and misses,” so they handed over their luggage, though Jack kept his backpack with him, and headed for the Great Hall.
“Isn’t it a bit odd how they do that now?” whispered Chloe.
“No. Why?” said Jack.
“Well, they never used to be seen around the school,” she told him. “But you know, that crazy woman… the head of S.P.E.W… Hermione Granger – Harry Potter’s friend, you know – she annoyed the Ministry about elf rights for so long that they passed a bill giving house elves rights and requiring them to be paid just to shut her up. So the house elves come out in the open now.”
“Good for them,” Jack said honestly.
Chloe looked slightly stricken.
“Oh, no, you mustn’t think I’m a bigot,” she said pleadingly. “They just… well, they creep me out a bit, is all.”
Jack laughed and said, “I know, I know. It’s okay, I understand…”
They took a right onto a corridor which opened into what seemed to be a brilliantly lit room, as golden light was pouring out into the corridor. Jack knew he was about to enter one of the most famous rooms in the world and his excitement could be no greater as they approached the Great Hall.
Hundreds of floating candles lit the room above four long tables for the famous four houses of Hogwarts. The ceiling was seemingly nonexistent, except for a canopy of dark blue sky twinkling with scattered stars, not a cloud in sight. At the other side of the room was the High Table, at which all the professors of Hogwarts were sitting, awaiting their students. Jack could hardly believe he was here. So many famous wizards and witches had passed through here… So many legends had started here… The evil Lord Voldemort had dueled here with Harry Potter and lost…
Chloe, smiling at the look on Jack’s face, grabbed his arm at the elbow and tugged him inside.
“C’mon, we’re blocking traffic,” she said.
She led him over to the third table from the entrance and said, “Ruby and I are in Hufflepuff. D’you want to sit with us?”
Jack turned around and looked at Quentin, who had already settled himself, alone, at the Ravenclaw table. He frowned as he looked back at Chloe.
“I do, but I’m going to give Q some company,” he said.
Chloe looked a little let down, but she smiled as she said, “I’ll see you soon, then?”
“I hope so.”
He smiled back and then made his way over to the Ravenclaw table.
“Don’t you want to sit with her?” Quentin asked, looking shocked. “I would.”
“Oh, c’mon, man,” Jack said dismissively. “What’s so great about a girl who’s smart, funny, and beautiful all at once?”
Quentin laughed, but gratefully did not press the issue.
Hundreds of students filed into the Great Hall over the next half hour before a tall, thin old woman stood at the head of the High Table. The full room quieted almost immediately. Jack guessed this was Minerva McGonagall, Hogwarts Headmistress.
“Good evening, students,” she said, looking down at them all before gesturing to the Great Hall’s entrance. “Hagrid, if you please, the first years.”
Hagrid led a queue of small first years into the Hall and up to the front of the room.
“Let the Sorting begin,” said Professor McGonagall, placing the famous Sorting Hat upon a stool and pulling out a list of names. “Aubrey, Dennis?”
A tiny boy with red hair and freckles walked up to the stool and McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat on his head as he sat. After a few moments, the Hat shouted “Hufflepuff!” Jack could see Chloe clapping enthusiastically with the rest of the Hufflepuffs as Dennis Aubrey ran to sit amongst them.
The Sorting lasted another half hour, by the end of which Jack was starving. Professor McGonagall walked back behind the High Table and said to the room at large, “You may eat now.”
The room erupted in conversation as food magically appeared on the tables. Jack and Quentin helped themselves, though Jack was unsure of some of the foods, having lived in a different country his entire life. This did not go unnoticed by the other Ravenclaws, who began to whisper up and down the table about the new kid, the American. None of the other Ravenclaws seemed nosy enough to ask him about it aloud, however. This suited Jack just fine.
“Good evening, students,” Professor McGonagall said again, standing after most of the food was gone. “Welcome to another productive and enlightening year at Hogwarts. I have only a few announcements to make before you can be off to bed.
“First, Argus Filch, our longtime caretaker, has decided to retire.”
The students seemed barely able to contain their excitement, but dared not make a scene in front of Professor McGonagall. Still, there was a good amount of happy murmuring at this statement. McGonagall, who seemed to expect this, plowed on resolutely.
“Mr. Wallace – on my right, here – will be taking over and I wish you to give him the respect he deserves as a member of the Hogwarts staff,” she said sharply.
A short, round-bellied man with a good natured grin on his face stood at the end of the High Table and waved for a moment before sitting down again.
“He would like to remind everyone that the Forbidden Forest is off-limits to students without the permission and escort of Professor Hagrid.
“Also, I am pleased to announce our new Head Boy and Head Girl,” she said with little change in the expression on her face. “This year’s Head Girl will be Vanessa Martin of Ravenclaw” – Jack saw Chloe congratulate a tall, homely looking girl who was beaming – “and our new Head Boy is Ted Lupin of Gryffindor.”
A roar of sound erupted at the Gryffindor table by the far wall as a tall, thin boy with a good amount of unkempt light brown hair stood and reluctantly put up a hand being pulled upwards by his friends sitting around him. Behind the Ravenclaw table, the Slytherins booed. Jack turned and saw Lukas L.R. sitting back in his chair, not joining in with his companions’ boos, but staring over at Lupin with that same leer on his face.
“Yes, congratulations,” McGonagall said with a tone that suggested the time for clapping was well over. “I have one more announcement to make and I wish for your full attention.”
She waited a moment while the room quieted.
“Defense Against the Dark Arts classes will be divided this year,” she continued. “Professor Longbottom, in addition to his Herbology classes, will be taking the Defense classes for fourth years and under, while fifth years and up will be taught by an extremely accomplished auror –” She paused a moment, as if to steel herself for the reaction – “the Head of the Auror Department, Harry Potter.”
The older students in the Hall erupted into cheers and conversation, while the younger students looked jealous, to say the least. There was a feeling of incredulous delight circulating amongst the students. Jack looked over at Quentin, who wore the same excited expression as he had. Professor McGonagall, however, quieted the room after a few moments.
“Due to the demands on his time, Mr. Potter will only be at the school for one afternoon a week,” she plowed on. “Therefore, it is ever more important that you do not waste his time, or yours, and I trust you will all give him and Professor Longbottom, who is also sacrificing much of his time, your utmost attention in all of your classes.”
She paused and looked at them all with a stern expression on her face, as if to say, “Or else.”
“But now it is time for bed,” she said. “Please follow your prefects to your dormitories now.”
Quentin looked over at Jack and asked, “Where are you sleeping?”
“I dunno,” Jack replied. “I’d better ask, right?”
Jack and Quentin jogged up to the High Table and Jack caught Professor McGonagall as she was wrapping up her scroll of the first years’ names.
“Excuse me, Professor,” he said, and she looked around at him. “I’m Jack Jones, the American student. I’m not sure where I’ll be staying. Do you…?”
“Ah, yes, the house elves did mention they didn’t know where to put your luggage,” she said, frowning slightly. “I see you’ve got Mr. Barnes with you. Already made friends, have you?”
“Yeah, I have,” Jack said, though Quentin turned red.
“Then why don’t you stay in the Ravenclaw dormitories,” she said, though it was not a question. “I’ll have your luggage sent up.”
“Thanks a lot,” Jack said, trying to sound as polite as he could.
He and Quentin turned to walk away, but Professor McGonagall said, “Mr. Jones?”
He stopped and turned around.
“Work hard and make a good impression,” she said, looking over the top of her glasses at him.
“I will, Professor.”
Quentin then led the way over to the nearest staircase, though they had to wait while another took its place when the first one moved. Once up on the fifth floor, he led Jack over to the western side of the castle, where a winding spiral staircase led up to the Ravenclaw tower. After climbing the stairs, they reached queue of people standing outside a door with no handle, but rather a bronze knocker shaped like an eagle, which spoke to them all.
“If you disassemble a ship and create another one from the pieces of the first, is the new one still the same ship?”
The Ravenclaw students concentrated, though the first and second years merely looked around at the older ones for help. Jack found this scene both humorous and intriguing at the same time.
“Anyone got any ideas?” said a younger boy from the front.
Jack raised a hand and stepped forward. The others, who had obviously recognized him as the one they had gossiped about in the Great Hall, stood aside and allowed him up to the front.
“If you define an object as the sum of its parts, then yeah, it is,” Jack said, a little nervous. “But if you define an object by its existence in time, then no.”
“That seems fair,” said the knocker.
The door swung open and the Ravenclaws gratefully rushed into the circular common room. A few patted Jack on the back as they went by. Quentin walked in last, looking a little sour.
“I couldn’t have given that answer in a hundred years,” he said.
“Yeah you could,” Jack said firmly. “I’ve already thought about that question before. I already had my answer.”
Though this was a lie, it seemed to cheer Quentin up a bit.
They walked across the blue, star-patterned floor, which reflected the sky-like painting on the ceiling, past armchairs, a fireplace, and a statue of Rowena Ravenclaw wearing a very noble-looking headdress, and Quentin showed Jack up to the boy’s dormitories. They entered another circular, star-patterned, carpeted room, though this one had five four-poster beds around the room. Three boys were already unpacking their trunks onto their beds.
“Guys, this is Jack Jones,” Quentin announced, claiming what Jack guessed was his usual bed.
Jack over to the nearest boy he didn’t know and shook his hand. The boy was short and wiry with thick black hair.
“Kurt Isaacs,” he said, nodding to Jack.
The next boy, a tall, thin kid with black, stylish glasses and long black hair draped over the left side of his face came over to them and extended a hand.
“The name’s Pierce, mate. Chris Pierce.”
The remaining boy, a tall black boy with closely cut black hair and a football player’s build, walked over and said, “Will Robinson, glad to meet you.”
“It’s good to meet you guys,” Jack said honestly. “But am I taking somebody else’s bed? Who used this one last year?”
“There were only four beds here last year,” Quentin told him. “The house elves must have conjured it here. Your suitcase is on the floor, there, see?”
Jack said, “Cool,” and went to unpack. He tossed his backpack on the floor and changed out of his robes. Within an hour, after much conversation about their summers, all five of them found themselves fairly exhausted, and they turned out the lights before getting into bed.
For nearly another hour, Jack found himself lying on his back, staring at the canopy of his four-poster, wondering how he was lucky enough to be sleeping in a bed atop Ravenclaw Tower at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. And just before his eyes closed to sleep, he reflected that this was the most real kind of magic there was.
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