Updated: Jul 5, 2022
Chapter Three: Learning to Live With It
The first couple of days at Hogwarts had been as enjoyable as a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter's day. Albus was hard-pressed to believe that only a short while ago he was begging his parents to take him to muggle school. As frightening as the idea of attending Hogwarts and dealing with the double expectation of carrying a name like Albus Potter had been, now, the mere thought of attending a muggle school sounded as ridiculous as a three-legged acromantula. Several factors had contributed to Albus' sudden change of heart. Firstly, his brothers presence at the school made him feel somewhat at home, despite the fact James largely ignored him, but this was no different to how he generally treated Albus.
Secondly, seeing other members of his family in the common room, great hall and hallways on a daily basis also gave him great comfort. Teddy Lupin, a tall, dark and mysterious fifth year who also happened to be Albus’ god-brother, could always be found somewhere holding hands or hiding in corners with Albus’ cousin, Victoire Weasley, daughter of Bill and Fleur Weasley. Victoire's siblings Dominique Weasley, a third year, and Louis Weasley, a second year, also lived at Gryffindor Tower. Dominique often reminded everyone that she had had the choice to attend Beauxbatons Academy, but had declined it. The story hadn't quite come back to Albus that way, but he wasn't going to remind her that Beauxbatons had rejected her request to attend the school on the grounds that "British students would be better suited to receive a British education".
Louis Weasley didn't talk much and like their uncle Percy, minus the pomposity, was known to be a bookworm. He was affable when approached but preferred to be reading and debating with like minded students. Albus often found him in the library with Damilola Nwosu another second year Gryffindor. Despite being an introvert, Louis was very popular with the girls in his year, there were often groups of them giggling around him and trying to get his attention.
"Maybe we should talk to them?" Damilola said throwing the girls a furtive look one evening. "Might make them stop hoarding around you, mate."
Following Damilola's suggestion, Louis, who had been helping Albus with his Astronomy homework, glanced at the girls. Albus felt a sense of dread creep up on him at the mere thought of the group of giggling second-year girls skipping over to talk to them. Luckily, Louis rejected the proposition.
“You must be mad, Dames!" Louis whispered. "It was fun for the first twenty-four hours. But honestly, it's exhausting mate. My uncle Ron told me he was given a love potion one year and it wasn't great.”
Adding to the Weasley-Potter Clan's presence at Hogwarts were Fred Weasley, a fourth year, who had been named after his uncle, as well as his sister Roxanne Weasley, a second year. Last and by no means least, Rose Weasley, daughter of Hermione and Ron Weasley, had been sorted into Ravenclaw. She had always been very quiet even at family events, Albus wondered if she felt some sort of relief at not being sorted into Gryffindor.
Central to his newfound happiness were Amelie Rose and Scorpius Malfoy, their friendship made him feel like he had a place at the school. Things had been a little bit more difficult for Scorpius whose sorting into Gryffindor had generated several heated debates. Teddy Lupin, who hated anyone who had even a semblance of association with the old Death Eaters, suggested that Scorpius had used dark magic to confound the sorting hat.
“Fat chance,” James said to that theory.
“What would you know, you’re only a third year. If you knew the kind of stuff we were learning you’d understand,” Teddy replied.
“I understand that the sorting hat is over a thousand years old and one of the most powerful magical artefacts ever created. It can’t be tampered by an eleven year old!”
Albus understood why Teddy felt the way he did, the deatheaters had stolen his childhood by murdering his parents. It was something that had always bonded his dad to Teddy, sometimes he caught himself feeling pangs of jealousy at their relationship before realising that it was wrong of him to feel that way. Teddy's inability to forgive Scorpius for something he had no hand in, made sense, however illogical it may have appeared.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s a Gryffindor," James had said one day. "Malfoy’s are rotten to the core. You know Draco Malfoy tried to kill dad, right?”
Albus thought about that for some time, how could he be friends with someone whose dad had tried to kill his? But contrary to what people assumed, Scorpius was a good person, Albus didn't know how he could be so certain of it, but he was. No one struggled more with his presence in Gryffindor than Scorpius himself, he had hardly slept the first couple of nights as he fretted about his fathers response. Eventually, when the owl from his father arrived it contained one simple sentence, "I love you, see you at Christmas".
It would have been a fallacy to assume that life at Hogwarts had been nothing but a joyous affair, for it soon became apparent that Albus and the entire Potter-Weasley clan as a whole were not universally adored. Due to the position of their family in the wizarding community, some students felt their achievements were exaggerated and their underperformance masked. Then there were the Slytherin's who regarded them with utter disdain and it didn't take a genius to figure out that this was because some of them had family members in Azkaban due to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley's exploits in the Auror's office. Albus couldn't think of anyone who was more hateful toward them than Nakari Malum.
“I've grown up hearing the name Potter like it's a name of a God," Nakari said in the hallway on their second day at Hogwarts, before spitting on the floor beside Albus and Scorpius. "A blood-traitor and his ever faithful servant." Nakari turned to Scorpius. "As if your grandfather’s failure wasn’t bad enough. You end up in Gryffindor? And we thought the name Malfoy couldn’t get any dirtier.”
Albus and Scorpius entered the Great Hall with darkened spirits, as was often the case whenever they encountered Nakari anywhere in the school.
"Honestly, must be half-dementor the way he sucks the happiness out of people." Scorpius said as they sat down next to Amelie, who was nose deep into a book.
“What happened?” she said looking up at their faces.
“We bumped into Malum,” Albus replied.
“Yes him,” Albus sighed pouring himself a glass of pumpkin juice.
“You know, I wondered why he would have chosen Hogwarts," Amelia said leaning in. "I mean, Mahoutokoro is supposed to be an amazing school, meant to produce incredible witches and wizards-"
"So does Hogwarts and they refer to themselves as Onmyōji not witches and wizards--" Scorpius interjected.
"Alright Bathilda!" Amelia said rolling her eyes. "What I mean is, with his grandfather having been a former Minister for Magic in Japan, you would have thought that's the school he'd choose."
"I guess," Albus said taking a sip of his pumpkin juice and not really understanding where Amelia was trying to guide the conversation.
"So why Hogwarts?"
"I told you, his dad is--" Scorpius attempted to interject before being interrupted.
"Head of International Magical Co-Operation, I know, but it doesn't make sense," Amelia argued with finality.
"Okay, so what do you think makes sense?" Albus asked.
Amelia stared at them both, leaning back in her chair and narrowing her eyes in concentration. "I don't know, but I am going to find out."
Scorpius, Amelie, and Albus arrived at Greenhouse number five in time for their first class of the day. They found a group of Hufflepuff students chattering to each other who stopped as soon as they arrived. Albus had grown used to this type of behaviour, it was part of his celebrity status as the son of Harry Potter, people were constantly gossiping for better or for worse.
“First years!” Professor Longbottom said. “Sorry to keep you waiting, overslept. Do come in.”
Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs made their way to the tables where Professor Longbottom had placed a round deep green onion-like object.
"What are these?" Professor Longbottom asked, pointing to the onion-like things once everyone had seated themselves.
Scorpius' hand shot up into the air.
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy," Professor Longbottom said pointing at him.
"It's a Gurdyroot," he replied.
"And what is a Gurdyroot, Mr. Malfoy?"
"As its name suggests, it is a root, often used to make a beverage similar to tea but in the 14th century a Portuguese wizard, Faustino Fausto, used its essence to revive the soul of his beloved."
"Very good!" Professor Longbottom exclaimed unable to hide his surprise at Scorpius' knowledge. "Ten points to Gryffindor."
Kieran Kelly, the ginger boy Albus had seen being sorted in Hufflepuff rolled his eyes and turned to whisper something to the students on his table who all smirked before throwing shady looks at Albus, Amelia and Scorpius.
"What's their problem?" Amelia asked.
Albus turned to her and for a second saw something flash in her eyes, he'd not seen that look in anyone but his mother and grandmother Molly.
"Being friends with me is the problem, I'm getting the feeling that people don't like Potters very much," Albus replied.
"Er...Albus, Amelie, should I take the points away? Please pay attention," Professor Longbottom said. "...it of course cannot be confirmed if Fausto Faustino did in fact create such a concoction by infusing essence of Gurdyroot but it is widely suspected that the recipe to said potion has been confiscated by the wizarding community for centuries."
"How do you confiscate a recipe?" Jester Jones, another Gryffindor first year asked.
"It rotates between the most powerful Ministries every half a century. It lay within the Japanese Ministry for a while, we know this because a student of Mahoutokoro successfully stole it."
"How were they caught?" Amelia asked.
"When a student of Mahoutokoro does any kind of dark magic, their robes turn white. Rumour has it that they attempted to enhance their robes to change back, even went so far as to buy new robes but each time they put them on, they changed to white. It is a huge shame turn white and eventually the student had no choice but to confess, apparently the Ministry hadn't even noticed the recipe gone and that's when an International Decree was drawn for its shared ownership."
"What happened to the student?" Kieran Kelly asked.
"I'm not sure, I would assume they were expelled and never able to graduate from Mahoutokoro which would have brought great shame to the student's family," Professor Longbottom replied. "Anyway, I dither, our aim is not to make any such potion but to brew ourselves some gurdyroot tea. It is not a simple as it sounds, if you cut it incorrectly, you will spend the entire day wailing or with gurdyroot ink stuck in your hair, which is probably worse as it doesn't wash off for days! Brew it incorrectly and you may have the worst case of food poisoning known to wizardkind. It is also very important that you re-plant the leftover in exactly the right section of soil. Whoever brews the best tea, wins fifty points for their house!"
Albus and Scorpius left Herbology in much better spirits. Albus' gurdyroot tea had tasted as if a ghoul's dirty socks had been left to brew but he had at least managed to replant it just right. His effort was far better than that of Jester Jones, who spent much of the lesson sobbing uncontrollably in a corner and had to be taken up to the Hospital Wing. In addition, it had been better than Kieran Kelly of Hufflepuff who had managed to blow up his brew, and ended up with green mixed into his ginger hair. Albus, Amelia and Scorpius laughed as they watched him trying to enchant the residue out of his hair to no avail.
Their double lesson of Herbology was followed immediately by Transfiguration with the Ravenclaws. Albus found his cousin, Rose Weasley sat next to Sapna Inamdar, carefully taking notes from their textbooks before the lesson had even began.
“How’s it going, Al?” Rose asked. She looked exactly how he felt.
“It’s been alright, I guess.”
She sighed. “Yeah, I guess.”
In charge of the lesson was a witch named Professor Penelope Clearwater, she was affable and keen to help and spoke to Albus at such length about his estranged uncle Percival that she almost forgot to continue on with her instructions on how to turn a matchstick into a needle. The first student to succeed at this was Scorpius, followed by Rose Weasley, even if her needle resembled a matchstick rather than a needle. Amelia's attempt was commendable, her matchstick had turned gray and it did appear thinner, unlike Albus' but at least he'd managed to make it move.
"Remember," Professor Clearwater said before letting the class go for lunch. "Transfiguration isn't about the wizard or the wand, it is about the wizard, the wand and the spell, like so."
Professor Clearwater waved her wand eloquently and said "What was, never was, what is, is and therefore shall be." Her golden goblet was transformed into a golden chinchilla as the entire classroom erupted into applause. "Every wizard has the ability to perform a spell, how well they perform the spell will depend on how strongly they bond with their wand. Remember, the wizard, the wand and the spell.”
Thrilled by their morning lessons, the trio rushed to lunch as soon as the bell rang. Jester Jones seemed to be better although he was still hiccuping rather violently into his plate when they arrived in the Great Hall. Albus couldn't have imagined how much fun he would have learning, even if he was struggling more than Amelia and Scorpius. There hadn't been a lesson he hadn't enjoyed, Charms with Professor Flitwick and Astrology with Madame Bernice Beauvier had all been great openers to his first week. History of magic with Professor Binns had been a bit of a bore, Albus wasn't quire sure the professor was even aware a new class had entered the room. He just seemed to drawl on about a colony of Dementors in a black castle and a war with a wizarding village, pretty much half the class had fallen asleep within minutes of the start of the lesson.
Transfiguration and Herbology had been by far his favourite lessons. Albus had anticipated Professor Longbottom's class so much that he was overjoyed it didn't disappoint.
"It's Defence Against the Dark Arts next...with the Slytherin's," Scorpius said looking up from his timetable.
Albus' appetite vanished at the mention of having to share a couple of hours with Nakari Malum and the rest of the Slytherins.
"Alright, dunghead?" James said sitting down next to Albus.
Albus turned to look at his brother - James looked a little worse for wear with a scratch on his face and a blanket of thick dust covering his hair.
"I think I should be asking you that question," Albus replied.
"I had detention with Deimos and Phobos, was cleaning out the attic in their room, Merlin's Old Beard, it stank! Of...stale cat food."
"How do you know what stale cat food smells like, we don't have a cat," Albus replied.
"I just know. Anyway, I fell down ass first into the main room, Teddy broke my fall. Some real creepy stuff up there. Found this though, which is pretty cool."
James pulled out a golden locket from his pocket. There was an engraving at the back of it which read animas mortuae revertentur.
"Because picking up random objects in a magical school is smart," Scorpius muttered under his breath, although unfortunately not low enough for James not to hear.
"What did you say?" James spat.
"Nothing, I've got to go!" Scorpius said jumping out of his seat, grabbing his bag and dashing out of the Great Hall.
"He's right though," Albus said following Scorpius out. "Come one Amelia, we'll be late."
"Are you not going to finish your apple crumble?" Amelia asked without waiting for Albus' response. She grabbed the bowl and attacked the dessert.
"You always eat like this?" James asked.
"Are you body-shaming me?"
"Er..no I only meant that...errrm.. why look at that it's time for Care of Magical Creatures!" James grabbed a muffin and left the Gryffindor table.
Severn Septum's long golden locks stood out against the dim, cold, and damp surroundings of the dungeon where his lesson was held. The room was eerily silent as everyone stared at the man who looked as though just out of school, as he stood stoically surveying each and every face in the room. Albus heard some girls giggling behind him as they made contact with the Professor's emotionless black eyes.
“I am Professor Severn Septum,” he said in a slow, sing-a-long voice. “Welcome to my Defence Against the Dark Arts class. As a result of Professor Slughorn's retirement, I have been given the opportunity to become Head of House for Slytherin. I hope you will not disappoint me,” Professor Septum begun walking slowly past the students. "I am not here to entertain idiocy or subpar wizards. If any here think this will be full of fun and nonsensical wand waving, I invite them to leave my lesson…now.”
Students didn't move a muscle, it appeared that none of them breathed at all.
“Throughout the course of your study this year and further ahead, we will cover all forms of dark matter. From Werewolves to Vampires to Manticores and Kappa's, there will be few topics your stay at Hogwarts will not explore." He paused, stopping next to Albus. "This class is an art form, it is not an exact science such as Transfiguration, has none of the speculation of Astronomy and even less charm...than Charms. However, without a deep understanding of the aforementioned, it is impossible to excel in my classroom and if you fail to excel in my classroom, you will not be so much invited to leave as you will be forced to. It is my job to ensure that you leave Hogwarts with the knowledge of how to defend yourself against the dark arts…but it is your job to use that thing between your ears we call a brain to soak the knowledge I bestow upon you."
"Will we have any practical work?" Scorpius asked.
"Did I, perchance, request your input, Mr Malfoy."
"Ten points from Gryffindor," the professor said with a condescending smile.
"What?! What for?" Albus exclaimed.
"Fifteen points from Gryffindor," Professor Septum made sure to be looking at Albus as he deducted more points.
"That's so unfair!" Jeremy Chu, a first year Gryffindor muttered.
"Twenty points from Gryffindor. I wonder what your fellow housemates are going to think when they get to the Great Hall and see forty-five points missing?"
Professor Septum walked back to the front of the class.
"Who in here can tell me, what the dark arts are?”
Several students raised their hands and although Albus had not been one of those students, it was obvious from the professor's look that he would use this opportunity to humiliate him.
“I would have assumed that the son of Harry Potter would be able to answer such an elementary question,” he looked away. “Nakari, could you please?”
“The dark arts are in essence black magic, which encompasses any spells and curses but can also include artefacts and potions. It's basically anything solely created to cause harm to another witch or wizard,” Nakari said.
"And the purpose of this lesson?" The professor asked.
"To learn how to defend ourselves against the spells and curses but also to be able to accurately identify any artefacts, potions or creatures that would mean to do us harm," Nakari explained.
“Correct. Perhaps not eloquently explained, but, correct nonetheless. Twenty points to Slytherin. Five from Gryffindor for failing to have a single person answer the question.”
“My hand was up,” protested Amelie.
“A further five points to be taken away from Gryffindor for Miss Rose’s petulance,” Professor Septum paused, smiled again and then continued with the lesson. “First, you will be taught the basics, such as how to spot a dark charm, its names, its counter defences. All theory work. In the second half of the year, we will proceed with practical work.”
The lesson progressed slower than any other that week and it was with a feeling of severe anger and anxiety that Albus sat down in front of the fire in the Gryffindor common room that very night. After struggling with their Astronomy homework, Scorpius and Amelia went to bed, but Albus just couldn't fall asleep. The portrait that adorned the entrance to the Gryffindor common room opened sideways to reveal his brother James followed by two other third years, Pardeep Singh a lanky asian boy whose frame reminded Albus of a grasshopper and Silvia Lucas, a pretty olive-skinned girl with silky brown hair and kiwi-coloured eyes.
“What are you doing up?” James asked.
“What are you doing out?”
James hid a piece of parchment behind his back and offered his friends a cheeky smile.
“Detention. Got to go all this week and clean the trophies. The muggle way. They seem to think I took something from their office.”
"You did take something from their office," Albus replied.
"I'm beat," Pardeep said yawning "I'll see you tomorrow, James."
"Me too, don't forget practice tomorrow. Eight sharp." Silvia said before disappearing up the stairs.
"Practice?" Albus asked.
"She's Gryffindor Seeker. Professor McGonagall reckons she's as good as dad, if not better."
Albus nodded absent-mindedly.
“What’s the matter, Al?” asked James sitting next to Albus.
“Nothing,” he lied. “Besides, you’ll only make fun of me.”
Albus was unable to contain his emotions and started to cry. He leant over to his brother, who seemed unperturbed by the display of emotion, almost as if he had anticipated it.
“It’s just…I feel like I’m expected to be good, if not great. And I’m not. Not only am I Harry Potter’s son but also named after the greatest wizard of all time. And people stop and stare and whisper about me in every corner as if expecting me to be something I'm not! And then the lessons...some lessons are easier because I'm a Potter and some lessons are more difficult because I'm a Potter...”
As he shook, he felt a surprising amount of anger that he had previously never realised he had, as well as a sense of shame that James had witnessed his outburst.
“Al, we’re famous. We’re famous because our dad is famous. Our dad is famous because...he lived whilst his parents died.” James put an arm around his bother. “I've been there, crying, not understanding what people expected of me. But ultimately, nothing matters beyond what Albus expects of himself. We're famous and privileged and rich and I've heard a few girls call me handsome," James quipped attempting to lighten the mood. "We can't control what we were born into. Be you and make them forget. I did.”
Albus lifted his head to look at his brother, he’d never thought of James as loving or caring or anything deemed to be positive but in that instant he had been able to be everything Albus needed.
“Now, Dunghead. This moment, never happened.” James stood up and walked towards his dormitory but not before turning and smiling at Albus. “We’re Potters, some love us, most actually hate us. Learn to live with it.”