An exciting announcement was made today in London, where Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, announced that for the first time, Hogwarts will be accepting transfer students for their NEWT level classes.
"This change in policy is being made in order to encourage further international cooperation," said Ms. McGonagall in a press conference today. "After the events of 7 years ago, we feel it is important to encourage stronger bonds of friendship within the magical community. There are too many things dividing our kind, and the more we bring down these walls of division, the closer we come to realizing a brighter future for all wizards. We feel that this is a small, but important step towards that goal."
During Voldemort's last rise to power, Hogwarts School was temporarily under the control of The Death Eaters, and temporarily banned admittance of Muggle-born Witches and wizards. Attendance numbers were already low due to the sharp decline in birth rates among wizards in Britain after Voldemor’st first reign of terror, thus bringing enrollment to an all time low 7 years ago.
While numbers have increased at Hogwarts in recent years, many Muggle-born families fled the country during the attacks and enrolled their children in other schools throughout the world. Even after the final demise of the self proclaimed Lord, many families were hesitant to return.
"We immigrated to America and enrolled our children in Ilvermorny," said Gladys Tufferton of Boston, formerly of Liverpool. "My husband and I are both Muggle-born. We knew we were in danger, and had no guarantees our children would be allowed to enroll in Hogwarts, so we moved to America. We thought of coming back or enrolling our children in Hogwarts after Voldemort’s death, but we just weren't sure if it was really safe. They never caught all of the Death Eaters..."
The board of directors is hopeful this change will provide an overall increase in enrollment numbers and help restore confidence in the school for the wizarding community. Further, they hope this change will once again re-establish Hogwarts’ prominence as one of the foremost magical education facilities in the world.
Many alumni praised this decision, welcoming the change as a wonderful legacy in honor of former Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
"When I was Head Boy, we spoke many times about his desire for more international cooperation," said Percy Weasley, Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at the school. "This will certainly be a great change towards that end, and most importantly, I'm sure Dumbledore would approve."
Those interested in transferring to Hogwarts may contact the school by owl, addressed to the Headmistress herself. The first class of transfer students will be accepted starting next year upon successful completion of their OWL or equivalent exams. Exceptional student may also be eligible for scholarships in value up to the full cost of tuition.
Yuuri Katsuki let out a whoop, dropping the newspaper, and eagerly beginning the search for a quill and parchment, his eyes wide with excitement. Finding what he needed, He dabbed his quill in the bottle of ink on his desk top, and began to writing in English, happier than he'd ever been that he had mastered the language.
"Dear Professor McGonagall,
My name is Yuuri Katsuki and I am a 5th year student at Mahoutokoro Wizarding School in Japan. I have excellent grades but am ineligible for the final two years of study, due to the blood restrictions of the school. I would like to apply to Hogwarts for the NEWT course program as a transfer student.
Also, I am interested in potential scholarship opportunities and would like more information on what is required from me in order to secure them.
I am eager for your response and thank you for making this opportunity available.
He scanned the letter, and satisfied, sealed it within an envelope, addressing it to the Headmistress of Hogwarts.
He raced down the stairs to the kitchen. His mother stood at the counter preparing breakfast, while his faithful dog Vicchan slept on the floor in a patch of sunlight. Skidding to a halt he cried out, disturbing the dog in the process, "Mom, I need to borrow the owl!"
"Of course dear, but what do you need her for?"
Yuuri dashed to the cage where the family owl sat perched, snoozing away after a night of hunting. He tied the envelope to the bird's leg and gently stroked her beak. "It'll be a bit of a journey for you Sora, but I'm sure they'll take good care of you when you get there."
The owl nipped his fingers affectionately, spread her wings and took off out of the kitchen window. Yuuri turned to find his mother staring at him expectantly, an indulgent smile playing on her lips.
"It was in the paper this morning: Hogwarts is taking NEWT transfer students next year! And they even have scholarships!"
"Oh my Yuri, that's wonderful! I know how much you wanted to continue your education, but isn't Hogwarts very far away?"
"Yeah, it’s in Scotland I think, but they have dorms, and I can come back home during breaks to visit. It'll be worth it if I can get a full scholarship and continue my studies."
His mother smiled, "Well its fine if it's what you really want to do. Even if you don't get the scholarships you can still go. We'll manage."
Yuuri shook his head, "I couldn't do that mom. I know business is tough for the Onsen and I can’t have you guys making sacrifices for me. If I don't get the scholarships, I won't go."
She suddenly enveloped him in a tight hug. "You will, Yuuri. This is your dream; I would never forgive myself for taking it from you. But we shouldn't worry about that for now. You're the brightest in your class, I'm sure you'll get plenty of scholarships. Let's see what they say and we'll take it from there."
Yuuri smiled and hugged her tighter. "Thanks mom."
“What’s all the hugging about?”
Yuuri’s sister, Mari, and his father had just come into the kitchen, both dressed in their Yutopia employee robes, with curious looks on their faces. Vicchan, now fully awake, wagged his tail excitedly, enjoying having the whole family in the room together.
“The British Wizarding school is excepting transfer students for the final two years of education.” Yuuri’s mother, Hiroko, explained simply. While Yuuri and Hiroko were both wizards, Toshiya and Mari were Muggles. They had heard some stories from Yuuri and his mother about wizarding, and certainly had seen their fair share of magic over the years, but neither understood the wizarding world as well as Yuuri and Hiroko. There were some things you just couldn’t explain, like the feeling of riding a broom and how it felt to hold your wand for the first time; though Yuuri’s memories were a bit foggy on the later point.
There were also some subjects which they were just ignorant because they weren’t involved in the wizarding community. They knew Hiroko had only attended the Japanese Magical Institute for 5 years, and Yuuri would do the same, but they didn’t know why neither of them were completing the final two years. To be honest, Yuuri wasn't even sure they knew the school offered 7 years of magical education, or that it was standard in many other countries. Hiroko had always felt it best not to burden them with the knowledge, and Yuuri agreed. It didn’t mean he didn’t want to go, he just knew it wasn’t possible.
“Well, if you’re going to get into Hogwarts you better get a move on to class, you’ll need to keep your grades up for admission, I’m sure.” Hiroko smiled at Yuuri and nodded her head at the clock.
Crap! He was nearly late! He must have spent more time reading the article and writing the letter than he’d thought. He sprinted up the stairs, quickly dressed in his school uniform and returned to the kitchen just a few minutes later. His father and sister had already headed back to work, but his mother stood by the fire, helpfully holding out a pot of Floo powder to Yuuri.
Kissing her cheek and grabbing his book bag, he tossed a handful of the powder into the fire, jumped in and yelled “Mahoutokoro School!” and away he went, zipping past fireplaces one after another. He held on tight to his glasses and bag, keeping his elbows tucked in tight until he felt his grate approaching and slipped out, landing rather gracefully in the front corridor of his school.
“You just made it Katsuki.” Yuuri looked up to see his least favorite teacher glaring down at him, with a look on his face that would have made Yuuri suspect he had stepped in dog poop, if he didn’t know better already. This particular teacher always looked at Yuuri this way. He was a pureblood, from an extremely old and rich family, and he had never thought much of Yuuri. They had spent just one class together in Yuuri’s 3rd year, after which Yuuri had chosen to drop Arithmancy, rather than sit through 3 years of constant judgment for something he couldn’t change.
“Muggle studies will be starting any minute and it would be a shame to be late,” the pureblood said with a sneer.
Ignoring the teacher, Yuuri brushed off the ashes that specked his uniform and made his way quickly down the halls, past the few students that were still milling about, towards his first class of the day.
The school mostly taught Japanese wizards, but also accepted students from throughout Asia, much as their Chinese counterpart did. What set Mahoutokoro apart from many schools is that it was primarily a day school, with only a few students living on campus.
In the past, most students would travel via broom or on the backs of one of the school’s Petrels to get to class, but as the population of Japan increased, it became increasingly difficult to fly one of the great birds unnoticed. The school had recently begun using the Floo network for the majority of students.
One of Yuuri’s closest friends at school, Phichit Chulanont, was one of the school’s international students, coming all the way from Thailand. This meant he was one of the few students living in the dorms since Floo services between the two nations wasn’t entirely reliable.
A year younger than Yuuri, they had bonded over a shared love of figure skating when Yuuri had overheard his kohai asking the Muggle Studies teacher if there was a place on campus where he could watch the Grand Prix Final. Yuuri had immediately offered to take Phichit to his home so they could watch the GPF together, and had been close friends ever since.
In fact now, any time there a major competition aired, he and Phichit would invade the television area of his family’s inn, along with his Muggle friends, Yuuko, Nishigori, and his ballet instructor Minako. Phichit even came over on weekends when he could to go skating at Ice Castle together.
Yuuri had been skating since before he even knew that he was a wizard. His mother had encouraged him to take ballet lessons to help build his confidence, and on his instructor Minako’s suggestion he had given skating a try. He might not have stuck with it at first if he had not met Takeshi and Yuuko, who had quickly become his closest friends. And even then he might have quit once he became a wizard and started studying magic if not for him.
They had been watching a Junior competition live stream that Minako had shown them right after Yuuri’s 12th birthday (when he was a first year at Mahoutokoro). Most of the skaters were (surprisingly) only slightly better than Yuuri, and not overly exciting to watch. But then he had come on the ice and changed everything.
The boy was only 13, just a year older than Yuuri, but he had skated with so much beauty and grace that Yuuri had been unable to look away. His body had been small, yet strong, the perfect combination of feminine and masculine features. His skin was pale, but his eyes were the bluest the Yuuri had ever seen. Perfecting the image had been the boy’s long silvery hair, which flung along behind him like a beautiful ribbon, accenting his every move. Yuuri could still recall the feeling of wanting to touch those silky strands, something that still made him blush even to this day.
“That’s Viktor Nikiforov!” Yuuko had exclaimed. “They say he’s going to be the next huge skating star. He’s already broken a ton of records in the Novice Competitions and now is a serious competitor in the Juniors. He’s seriously amazing!”
“By next year he’ll probably win the Junior title.” Minako had commented. “You can tell he’s been practicing ballet for years probably as long as you have Yuuri. Look at his lines.” She nodded appreciatively.
Yuuri had never been drawn so strongly to anyone in his life.
“Course, with a professional coach, you could catch up to him in no time, Yuuri.”
Yuuri’s mouth dropped open as he stared at Minako. “Are you crazy, look at those jumps! His triple axel is perfect; I can barely land a double. There’s no way…”
“You’ve never had a real skating coach, just the basic instructors at the rink and me. I might know ballet, but there’s only so much I can teach you in skating. You need someone who has done it. Not having someone to watch and learn from is a huge disadvantage for you. Plus, look at his footwork, his spins. Yours are just as good if not better. There’s more to scoring than jumps. You could definitely compete with him even without a bunch of triples.”
For a moment, Yuuri had let himself dream of skating with Viktor, but quickly quashed it down. Business was tough, and with tourism dropping all of the other Onsens in town had closed except his families’ Yutopia. There wasn’t any extra money for skating lessons, let alone a professional coach. It was enough that his parents were able to pay his rink fees at the Ice Castle. He wouldn’t even be able to practice as much as he had if not for the Nishigori family letting him in after hours as much as he wanted. He was only able to even practice ballet because Minako gave him all the lessons he could ask for in exchange for helping her clean the studio when they were done each day.
Yuuri had already asked for enough, he thought, so no, he couldn’t ask for a coach too. He’d just keep working as he had done. Maybe once he finished school he could find a job, and a coach, and pay for it himself. Then, maybe, he could chase after Viktor Nikiforov.
This realistic look on life did not, however, stop him from following Viktor’s every move, collecting more than a dozen posters with his pocket money earned from taking on small jobs for neighbors around town. He watched every competition he could, and watched videos of Viktor on Minako’s computer or his recently acquired Smartphone again and again.
Watching him had in fact made his skating improve by leaps and bounds. He and Minako had analyzed his form and Yuuri had mimicked him as best he could. It had been slow going, but Yuuri had managed to improve his jumps. Now he could complete nearly any triple jump asked of him; at least, he could most of the time, as long as his mind wasn’t focused on something else.
If he was being honest with himself, he probably could have picked up enough part-time work to afford coaching fees, maybe not a top coach, but certainly someone who could help him take on Junior level competitions. Sure, he participated in some local competitions, but he’d never really tried to do more. It was his own mind that stopped him from dreaming, making himself believe it would be a waste. He knew sabotaging himself was a foolish, self-fulfilling prophecy, but he just couldn’t help letting his fears and anxieties get the best of him.
Yuuri sighed to himself as he sat down in his classroom, only seconds before the final bell. He had to admit a large part of his negative attitude was in part to knowing he’d never be allowed to finish school no matter how hard he tried. While his grades were good, he hadn’t been giving it, or skating, his all in years. As much as he told himself their words didn’t matter, he knew in his heart that years of being treated like slime on the bottom of their shoes had affected him; had made him believe he wasn’t good enough.
‘That changes today,’ he thought. ‘Hogwarts will give me a chance. I’m smart enough to get in and get a scholarship. I’m already the best in my class and I’m not even trying. I’ll be the best in the year with a little effort. Once I secure my spot in the NEWT classes, I’ll really focus on doing my best in skating again.’
He’d already looked it up, Hogwarts school year didn’t start until September 1st, and his classes at Mahoutokoro would end in March. That gave him 5 months to focus on solely on skating. He could ask Hogwarts if he could skate there. It was in Scotland so at least he could skate on a pond or lake during the winters. It wasn’t ideal, but it would be good enough.
Yuuri brought his mind back to the present as class began. He would need to focus now, because he had a chance to go to Hogwarts, and nothing was going to stand in his way.