Albus Potter and the Ring Leader
Journey of a First YearAlbus watched his parents shrink away into mist and he felt his courage shrink with them. And as the Hogwarts Express rounded a corner, Harry and Ginny Potter disappeared, leaving Albus with his shivering stomach.
Albus Severus Potter was on his way to his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…and despite all that his father had told him, neither his fear nor excitement was allayed, though he felt that he could finally manage it.
“Albus,” said a soft voice behind him.
Albus turned to see Rose Weasley, his cousin, staring at him. Rose was slightly taller than him, with freckles and blue eyes like her dad, but her hair was all her mother’s, bushy and brown. She’d been so relieved when her mother had fixed her large front teeth a year ago.
“Should we go sit down?” Rose asked.
Albus looked around him and found that he and Rose were nearly alone in the narrow hallway of the train with only a few strangers meandering up and down. Albus swallowed his scratchy throat, and nodded, saying, “Sure.”
Rose led the way down the hall, looking into the crowded compartments as they passed them. Albus could see a couple heads of familiar, red hair in the most crowded of the compartments, but most of the students looked impossibly tall and frightening. He was very careful to not get in any one of the students’ way as they passed him.
Suddenly, Rose stopped beside a somewhat empty compartment; there were only three third-year boys sitting near the window, talking happily.
“May we sit with you?” Rose said as she pulled the sliding door aside.
After a second, the boys caught on and assured her that it was fine with them, then continued with their loud conversation. They were talking of Quidditch, the most famous game in the Wizarding world. Albus was a big fan of the game, but didn’t feel like joining in the discussion.
Albus and Rose sidled in, and sat next to each other without a word, staring ahead at the opposite seats. Albus was sure that Rose was nervous, but he doubted that she could be feeling the same kind of nervousness that he felt; she would definitely be in Gryffindor. She was so much braver than he was….
“Your dad was only joking when he said that thing about us being in Slytherin,” Albus said suddenly. “Right?” He couldn’t help but ask the last part.
“I think that he was,” Rose said. Her unwavering voice was calming to Albus. “Dad’s always joking about things like that.”
Albus nodded, but felt only slightly better. The excitement and fear bouncing around his ribcage would not leave him alone for one second, fighting with each other and messing with his head.
The door to the compartment slid open and Albus turned to see a boy standing in the doorway.
“Sorry, but do you mind? A bunch of Slytherins kicked us out,” he said.
“Come on in,” Albus said immediately.
The boy and a girl came in, sitting down in the two empty seats with a bit of relief on their faces.
Albus ventured his guess, “Are you first-years?”
The two newcomers nodded. “You too?” the girl asked.
Albus nodded, “I’m Albus Potter, and this is my cousin, Rose Weasley.”
“I’m John, John Diggory,” the boy said, smiling as he shook Albus’ hand. John had sharp handsome features; he was tanned and freckled, and his hair and eyes were very dark brown.
Albus nodded again.
“I’m Sophia Ross,” the girl said, reaching over to shake Albus’ hand. Sophia’s hair was cut short like a boy’s and was a bright electric blond; her blue eyes were vivid. “Albus is a weird name…no offense,” she said, smiling her straight teeth. “Were you named after someone?” Albus noticed that she talked strangely.
Albus smiled back at her, “Yes, after a headmaster of Hogwarts actually. He’s dead now though.”
“Oh,” Sophia said.
“Are you from the United States?” Rose said. She’d obviously noticed the same thing as Albus.
“Yeah,” Sophia said. “My family moved here a year ago because my dad got a job offer.”
Time passed and the sun rose higher as the train travelled further through hills and fields. Eventually, the little old witch with the trolley came rolling by, and Albus pulled out his money; his parents had warned him that he would be hungry, and, though it was in vane, they told him to buy something healthy.
Albus was waiting his turn by the cart when he suddenly felt an arm close around his throat from behind and a fist rubbing the top of his head, hard. Albus fought out of the hold and said, “Cut it out, James! That hurts!”
“Ah, come on, little brother,” James said affectionately. “Don’t be a baby.” James, his older brother, had a somewhat stockier frame than Albus and had dark red hair, darker than any of the Weasley family, but still redder than Harry’s or Albus’. James was just going into his third year now.
Albus frowned while he straightened his collar.
And then a seventh-year girl came up behind James and thumped him on the back of the head.
“Why are you beating on Al?” Victoire, their fair-haired cousin said. Victoire was their Uncle Bill’s and Aunt Fleur’s eldest daughter; thanks to her partially-veela blood from her mother’s side of the family, she was rather beautiful with bright blue eyes and silky, white-blond hair to her waist.
“Cause he’s my little brother,” James said, shrugging. “It’s kind of my job.”
“You’re fired,” Albus grumbled.
Victoire laughed and went around James to put an arm around Albus’ shoulders. “How’s my favorite cousin doing?” she asked.
“Oh, real cheeky, Victoire, saying that when I’m standing right here,” James interrupted, pretending to take offense.
Victoire threw him an annoyed look before smiling down at Albus, “How’s the train ride been so far?”
Albus shrugged, “Its ok. I found some new friends. They’re in there with Rose.” He gestured to the compartment next to him.
“Good job, little cousin!” Victoire exclaimed. “Well, I’ll have to meet them! But not right now, if you don’t mind, I got to get back to my friends with their sweets.”
Albus caught a glimpse of the back of James’ head as his older brother left the trolley and a memory stirred in his head.
“Hey, Victoire,” he asked and motioned for her to bend down so that he could whisper in her ear, “were you snogging Teddy?”
Victoire colored and laughed a little before saying, “I should’ve known James would tell you. Yes, I’m seeing Teddy.”
Albus’ eyes widened but he only nodded, not sure what to say.
When it was his turn to buy his things, Albus loaded his arms with his favorites, including a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and ten Chocolate Frogs, before moving back to his compartment and allowing the rest of the students to get what they wanted.
“What are those?” Sophia asked as she watched Albus bite into a beet-flavored piece of candy and pull a face.
“You’ve never had these?” Rose said, pointing at the box of Every Flavor Beans and chewing on a dirt-flavored candy.
Sophia shook her head, “I didn’t even know wizards were real until this summer when I got my letter, so I don’t know about wizard candy.”
“You’re Muggle-born?” John said loudly.
Sophia pursed her lips, “Yeah.”
“Try this, Sophia.” Albus held out a gray, black-specked bean to her.
Without hesitating, Sophia reached over and popped the candy into her mouth. They watched as she chewed and then started coughing in astonishment, “It tastes… like smoke!”
“Oh!” Albus said disappointedly, looking back through the box. “I was sure it was pepper. Here, try this one.” He held out a white bean.
Sophia gave him an excited look and asked, “What does it taste like?”
“I don’t know, do I?” Albus laughed. “Go on, the white ones are usually alright.”
Sophia finally reached over and picked it up, looking at it carefully before putting it in her mouth. She wrinkled her nose, “Glue!”
Albus forgot where they were headed as the train pulled them ever onward and the sun began to sink. Lanterns flickered to life just as the light disappeared from the windows.
“You’re Harry Potter’s son, right?” John asked eventually. “You look just like his pictures.” He held up a Chocolate Frog card with Harry Potter’s face and description on it.
Albus smiled, “Yes.” He had heard that several times; the same green, almond shaped eyes, same unruly black hair, same thin face and arms and legs. The only true differences were the glasses and scar his dad wore.
“Cool,” John said. “So what’s it like, being his son? Is it annoying?”
“No, not really,” Albus said. “I guess it is a bother having people send buckets of owls all the time, but I’m very used to it.”
“Is your dad famous or something?” Sophia asked.
Everyone looked at her silently, and then John, his mouth wide, said, “What?! You don’t know who Harry Potter is?”
“I’m Muggle-born,” Sophia frowned. “Remember? I don’t know about wizard pop-stars or anything.”
John scoffed, “He’s not a pop-star. He’s the most famous wizard in England! He stopped You-Know-Who!”
“Who?” Sophia said.
Rose started laughing, “You still call him You-Know-Who? He’s dead!”
“It doesn’t hurt to show him some respect,” John snapped. “That’s what my dad says. Besides, he’s still got Death Eaters around.”
“Who?!” Sophia repeated.
Albus cut through Rose’s reply to answer Sophia, “Lord Voldemort.”
John looked shocked.
“Who’s that?” Sophia said.
“Well, Voldemort was a bad wizard,” Albus said.
“Like ‘kill people’ bad or just ‘steal money’ bad?” Sophia said.
“More like ‘take over the world’ bad,” Albus said gravely. “Things were really terrible when he was in power. He thought that Muggles were stupid and that they should work for Wizards. He started hunting down Muggle-borns like you once, before my dad stopped him.”
“How’d your dad stop him?” Sophia asked, raptly listening with awe in her eyes.
Albus hesitated, “It’s a long story.”
“I’ll listen,” Sophia said; “there’s nothing else to do.”
Albus looked over at Rose, who shrugged, and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. This would be the first time he had ever told someone his dad’s story…and probably not the last, seeing as how famous his father was. He still didn’t see why everyone had to make such a fuss over him, Albus Potter. He wasn’t his father… and he would never be able to be like him.
“Alright,” Albus said finally.
“Hey, you’re Harry Potter’s son!” said one of the third-year boys near the window. This was the first time they’d said anything to them the entire trip, and so everyone was a bit shocked.
“You’re a Potter, right?” said another boy, a little more polite than his companion.
The three boys went back to whispering to each other, casting glances in his direction every once in a while.
“Anyway,” Sophia broke the momentary silence, “how did your dad stop…Volsedork?”
“Voldemort,” Rose corrected her. John shivered.
“Oh, yeah, him,” Sophia said. “How did he stop him, Al?”
Albus cleared his throat, “Well… um…Voldemort, he was a very bad wizard that everyone was afraid of… and… well… a prophecy was made that he could be defeated by a boy whose parents had defied Voldemort three times. He thought that meant my dad. So he tried to kill him when he was just a baby.
“He killed my grandparents and then when he tried to cast the Killing Curse on my dad, it kind of backfired on Voldemort and took away his body.
“So he went into hiding, trying to get his body back, while my dad was growing up with his mum’s family, the Dursleys.”
“Albus, what happened to them? I’ve never seen them,” Rose said.
“I don’t know,” Albus shrugged. “They went into hiding when my dad turned seventeen. He said it was because their first protection stopped working. I never thought to ask where they are right now.”
There was a pause.
“So what happened? Did Voldemort come back?” Sophia said.
Albus recollected his thoughts, “The first year that my dad went to Hogwarts, he stopped Voldemort from getting a powerful stone that would get him his body back. The second year, he stopped Voldemort from taking over my mum’s body and killed a basilisk with a sword. Then in his forth year, he saw Voldemort get his body back in a graveyard and almost got killed. His fifth year, he fought Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic. In his sixth year, he started learning how to defeat Voldemort with Dumbledore, the Headmaster that I’m named after, and then my dad killed Voldemort when he was seventeen; he didn’t go to Hogwarts that year.”
There was another pause while his friends waited for him to continue. Even the third-year boys on the side were listening raptly for the rest of the story.
“How’d he do it?” John said, on the verge of impatience.
“I don’t know. He won’t tell me until I’m older,” Albus said a little darkly. “I don’t know why he can’t just tell me. I’m old enough to know.”
“Maybe it’s Dark Magic,” Rose said.
Albus just nodded; they’d had this conversation before plenty of times.
“Wow,” Sophia said. “So, he’s a like a real life hero! And he fought Voldemort when he was our age? That’s so cool! Maybe we’ll have adventures like that this year?”
Albus was about to say that he wasn’t sure he wanted that, when the compartment door opened again. A tall fifth-year girl with a badge on her robes looked in, “You all had better change into your robes. We’re nearly there.”
Albus looked to the window as everyone in their compartment started to search for their robes; it was starting to grow dark and they were coming up on a forest, dark and thick.
He quickly found his robes and as he pulled them over his head, he felt his excitement mount inside him again. His feelings were mirrored on his friends’ faces.
The train slowed and eventually stopped in a lit up station. “Hogsmeade Station” was in gold letters above a door across the platform.
Albus, Rose, John, and Sophia forced their way through the door of the train and onto the platform. It was misty and dark and very crowded. It was all they could do to just stay together.
“What do we do?” asked Sophia.
“Hagrid’s going to take us to the Castle in boats,” Rose said excitedly.
“Who’s Hagrid?” John asked.
“Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here! Firs’ years!”
They could hear the familiar voice over the heads of the other students, deep and loud. Albus looked in the right direction and could see the huge looming shadow not far away.
“C’mon!” he grabbed John’s sleeve and saw Rose do the same with Sophia. He led John through the crowd until he was right next to the big man.
Hagrid was twice the size of an adult man and almost ten-times as round. His wild black hair was just as tangled as ever, and his eyes glittered like black beetles above his mess of a beard. His hands were big enough to cover the bedroom windows when he was hiding a present in the backyard and his boots were big enough for a six year old to sit comfortably in; Albus knew this firsthand.
“Hi, Hagrid!” Albus called up to him.
“Hullo there, Albus, Rosie,” Hagrid beamed down at them, brandishing the lantern in his hand. “How’s yer parents? Everythin’ good, I hope?”
“Everything’s fine,” Rose said, smiling. “This is Sophia Ross, Hagrid. And that’s John Diggory.”
Sophia and John were staring with wide eyes at the half-giant, craning their necks the better to see his face.
“Nice ter meet yeh both,” Hagrid nodded. “Firs’ years! Over here! You four stick close ter me in yer boat, alrigh’? I want ter show yeh summit out on the lake. Firs’ years!”
They waited beside Hagrid until all the first-time students had been gathered around and the rest of the students had gone off to the carriages.
Then Hagrid bellowed, “Righ’ then! Follow me!”
Obediently, the crowd of first years shuffled quickly after Hagrid as he led the way down the platform to a path in the trees. Albus felt Rose press against his arm as it grew dark around them, and could sympathize with her fear; the trees looked menacing in the shadows from Hagrid’s lantern. He wondered if any thestrals were out there, watching them go by, and he shivered.
But it wasn’t long until they were out of the trees again and on a gravelly beach to a huge lake. In the darkness, Albus couldn’t make out the opposite bank.
“This way!” Hagrid yelled to the first years and pointed to a dock with twenty or so little boats around it. “Four ter a boat! Keep yer hands an’ feet inside, an’ don’ rock the boat if yeh wanna stay dry!”
“Hagrid, what is it you want to show us?” Rose asked as everyone started to get into their boats. Albus, Sophia, and John all looked up expectantly at the big man.
“Can’t tell yeh, Rosie,” Hagrid said happily. “It would ruin the surprise!”
“Please, Hagrid! Please, oh, please tell us!” Albus said; pleading was the best way to go if Hagrid was hiding something.
“Nope!” Hagrid shook his head, still beaming. “You’ll see! C’mon, get in yer boat, you four.”
Albus led the way into a boat, sitting near the front with John just to his left. The girls took up the back.
Hagrid had to take his own boat. “Everyone in?!” he yelled. There was a general call of “Yes!” and Hagrid nodded to himself.
All at once, every one of the boats lurched forward of their own accord, Hagrid’s at the lead.
It wasn’t terrifying; the boats were gliding smoothly over the water’s surface, but they were moving fast enough to make Albus feel on edge. What was it that Hagrid wanted to show them… that was in the middle of the lake? He’d better know what he was doing.
As they reached the middle of the lake, the first years received their first view of the castle up on the cliff top. It was an impressive sight, battlements and towers and gargoyles against the dark sky. There were windows ablaze here and there, creating a flaming yellow rectangle against the darkness.
Albus was staring up at his new school in awe when Hagrid called for his attention.
“Al! Al, look! Over there, Al!” he hissed not so quietly; everyone in a five-boat radius was now looking at Hagrid.
Albus looked in the direction Hagrid pointed; all he could see was the black, starry surface of the lake and the trees on the far bank. He narrowed his eyes, but didn’t see anything interesting.
“What is it?” Albus called, looking at Hagrid again as he shrugged.
There was a sudden, loud splash and several of the girls in the boats screamed. Albus whipped his head back around; he could clearly see the tail and scales and fins, but he didn’t know what the thing could be. It was too big to be a merperson and it didn’t have tentacles, so it wasn’t the giant squid.
The creature arched into the air gracefully and crashed into the water only feet away from their boat. Albus cried out as the cold water hit him and his friends. He heard Rose, Sophia, and John sputtering around him as he turned to look at Hagrid. His largest friend was beaming down into the water at the shadow of the large fish-thing, obviously fond of the creature.
Albus thought that he should have known; Hagrid was particularly drawn to magical creatures… dangerous ones mostly. What had he gotten his hands on this time?
They were not splashed again, but Albus could see a huge head breaching the glassy surface of the water every now and then, and he didn’t feel completely safe until they had finally landed on a grassy beach.
“What was that, Hagrid?” Albus asked as soon as he was able. Rose, John, and Sophia were right beside him, listening, but they were not the only ones.
“They’re Hippocampus, Albus,” Hagrid said happily.
“‘They’re’…as in more than one?” Rose asked at the same time that Sophia said, “What are they?”
“Part horse, part fish,” John said.
Sophia’s mouth fell open, “Really? That’s so cool!”
“Got a whole school of ‘em just a couple o’ weeks ago,” Hagrid said, pleased with Sophia’s reaction.
“What exactly do they eat?” said an unfamiliar voice from behind.
Albus turned to see which student it was; a boy with a pale, pointed face, white blond hair, and dripping robes was standing a little out from the crowd, staring at Hagrid with his gray eyes. Albus thought he recognized him from the station…. Uncle Ron and his father had been staring over at the boy’s family on the platform.
“Grass and kelp, mostly,” Hagrid said knowingly. “But they like sea grapes when they can get ‘em.”
“So they’re not dangerous to people?” said another first year girl with red-rimmed glasses.
“Of course not!” Hagrid waved his gigantic hands. “Gentle as kittens, them!”
“Though much bigger than them,” Rose muttered.
“Alrigh’ then!” Hagrid suddenly bellowed, making Albus and his friends flinch. “Follow me, please!”
Albus, Rose, Sophia, and John were close behind Hagrid as he led them up the sloping lawns to the huge oak double doors.
The Castle had seen a great and terrible battle only two decades ago, and it was obvious. There were fading black gouge marks in the walls from the many curses that had flown and a few of the gigantic bricks hadn’t been removed from the grounds as a reminder for the deaths that had occurred there.
Just as Hagrid was leading the first years up the marble steps, the double doors swung outward, torchlight flowing down at them like a carpet.