Your Journey Begins
It finally hit him. How real this magic around him was, how incredibly important and influential the world around him would be to his future. He would be learning magic.
Crazy Numnums strolled through Flourish and Blotts, his hands dragging lightly against the polished covers. He was enthralled. He loved to read, always had, even with the energy and magic coursing around him at home. He had always been the quieter of the two siblings. While Jacob enjoyed reading, it never quite captivated his interest as long as it did Crazy.
That thought saddened him, as he thought of his brother's disappearance.
He quickly looked at the list. The boy he'd met, Rowan, suggested he come here to Flourish and Blotts. Crazy had smiled gratefully, not wanting to weird someone out about his thoughts on the name 'Flourish' and why it made him think that the owner had put too much of the ingredient into his dough. It wasn't important, after all.
The owner wasn't particularly interested in a conversation with the young wizard, but he could live with that.
Returning to the place he'd started, he found Rowan again.
"Hey, I forgot to ask before, what's your name?" Rowan asked him, and Crazy supplied the answer. "Well, nice to meet you. Did you find the books?"
"Yes. They look... a little boring, to be honest."
"Boring? Really? I thought they looked very enjoyable."
"Each to their own."
"Hey, I've got some spare change, and I want to buy something. Maybe some clothes. What do you think I should get?"
"Well, you're bookish, aren't you? You're smart, maybe something that matches that. Try a scarf, maybe?"
"That's a great idea, Crazy! Listen, that's the last thing I need to get, so while I go and do that, maybe you could head to Ollivander's and get your wand!"
Crazy grinned. A wand was, simply put, the item on the list he had been most excited to find. Also, he wanted to meet Ollivander. His parents had told him their stories of the wand-seller, and he wanted to find out what the man was like. That was, if he was still there. "Sounds fun, Rowan. Meet back here?"
"Sure, Crazy. See you soon!"
Ollivander's was right next to him, so he waved goodbye to Rowan as he entered the store. The brightness of the outside world was immediately dulled, but Crazy still liked the place, which felt homely. He wondered if Ollivander lived in the bookshop or if he had somewhere else to go.
"What are you thinking about, young man?" Ollivander wasn't loud or abrasive. In fact, Crazy got the feeling he'd never been particularly loud in his life, but Crazy still felt on edge in his presence.
"Do you live here?"
"Yes. I have a room upstairs." 'There's an upstairs?' Crazy wondered, but before he could ask, Ollivander continued. "I think I have just the thing for you. Applewood wand, dragon heartstring core, nine inches, and rigid. Give it a whirl."
Crazy hadn't studied on wand wood, and had no idea what different wands could do, but he knew that this one was not for him after he twirled it and was subsequently attacked by envelopes. "Ouch!"
"Yes, apparently that one was not right for you. It's okay. I remember the trouble I had finding your brother's first wand. Nearly took my head off with an inkpot!"
Crazy was not ready for that bombshell. "You knew my brother?!"
"I remember every wand I've ever sold."
"How many is that?"
"Too many. But your brother's wand is still fresh in my memory. Maple wood, dragon heartstring core, ten inches. Of course, it was snapped in two when they expelled him. A shame, not just for him, but for you too. I understand that he ran away from home after his expulsion. Tell me, how did you feel about that?"
Crazy wasn't at all happy with the interrogation, and considered biting back. But that would have been rude and unwarranted, and he sensed that Ollivander truly wanted to know his answer.
"...I was-- I am determined. I know that people are going to hate me, but I just need to prove my ability as a wizard. Even if I can't change their minds... at least I can prove something to myself."
"Hmm... Try this wand. It may match your own personality. Hornbeam, eleven inches, dragon heartstring core, and inflexible. Hornbeam is the wood of my own wand."
For a moment, Crazy allowed himself the fantasy of one day being able to tell Jacob that his wand was smaller than Crazy's, which would have made them both laugh. Admittedly a little immature, but he couldn't help it. He twirled the wand in the air, and immediately knew that this was the wand for him. He had the power in his hands.
"Fantastic!" Ollivander clapped his hands a little. "Well, hurry along then. I can't wait to see what sort of person you can become..."
And with that ominous statement hanging over his head, Crazy exited the store.
Rowan was already there waiting, scarf around his neck. "Hey, Crazy! What do you think of the scarf?"
Truth be told, it was an awful scarf, and Rowan clearly didn't have any fashion sense whatsoever, but Crazy wasn't about to tell him that. "It suits you really well, Rowan!"
"Thanks! I'll definitely come to you for all my future fashion advice." That would be a mistake, given how Crazy's advice turned out this time. Maybe he should've suggested a hat, instead.
"Ollivander's was... intense."
"Yeah, he can be a little odd, but he means well. I think. Hey, I recognise that wood! You're using hornbeam!"
"How the hell did you figure that out?"
"My family owns a tree farm, and we supply wood for wands and brooms and etc. I much prefer staying inside and reading though, which suits me. Well, another reason for that is that I don't have any friends."
"I'll be your friend, Rowan!"
"You don't think I'm too weird? People say that about me."
"... You do remember my name, right? People think I'm weird too."
"Oh that's right! Your name was Numnums! Is Jacob Numnums your brother? That was a massive story, everyone will know about that!"
Crazy was actually referring to his first name, but Rowan gave a painful reminder. "Yes, just what I wanted. Everyone's eyes on me. Fantastic."
"Chin up, Crazy. You'll be fine. Everyone will forget about it in time."
"I sure hope so."
"Look, if someone gives you trouble over your brother, what would you like me to do?"
"Just keep quiet. If you don't, then you'll just be given grief too."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. Come on, we're done now, let's head off to Hogwarts."
The grin on Rowan's face was the widest that Crazy had ever seen on a person.
Welcome to Hogwarts
"We're rowing across the water?"
"Rowan, you live on a farm, and these are magical boats. How on earth are you afraid of a lake?"
"Because there's a Giant Squid in the lake, that's how!"
Crazy hadn't known that piece of information, but it didn't change anything. "They wouldn't let us do it if it was dangerous, would they?"
"You clearly haven't read about Hogwarts." Crazy tried not to let the snark get to him, as he knew it was just Rowan's worries showing.
"We'll be fine. Hey, what house are you hoping to be sorted into?"
Crazy's distraction tactic worked, and Rowan's face instantly softened. "I'm not sure. I mean, there's merits to every house, isn't there?"
"Yeah, okay. What I meant was what house do you think you'll be sorted into?"
"Judging by this display, probably not Gryffindor," said Rowan, climbing into the boat, and Crazy had to agree. "But I have ambitions, and I'm smart, and I'd like to think that I am kind--"
"I think you're kind."
"--so any of the other three wouldn't surprise me." They held silence for a while, before Crazy nudged Rowan.
"We're here." Rowan looked up in shock, about to speak, but the two were completely taken in by the magnificence of the castle. "Holy shit."
"I second that."
The first-years, led by Hagrid, walked up to the large doors at the entrance to the castle. Rowan and Crazy each took a deep breath, ready to enter the castle, before the doors opened.
The stunning beauty of the castle once again took the young wizards in. They watched as a rather large ghost flew over their heads, and a rather stern-looking teacher followed behind them. Other, older students looked on as the first years walked in between the rows of tables. They came to a stop at the end of the room, in front of the steps that led to the large table that seated all of the teachers.
"Students..." began the teacher, who had walked around the group to stand in front of them. "Today is the day that you will be sorted into your houses. This is very important, as during your time at Hogwarts, your house will be something like your family. We have Gryffindor, the brave and chivalrous."
Crazy zoned out. He knew all of this, but knew that some students had come from Muggle families, and wouldn't have known. He watched a blond boy listen intently, and rather timidly.
"We will start the Sorting now. You will be read out in no particular order whatsoever. The first student is... Snyde, Merula." Crazy watched a brunette girl get up on stage. She certainly looked like her namesake, and sneered at the group of first years in front of her. The disdain was palpable, and Crazy had an instant dislike. No sooner had the hat touched her head than... "Slytherin!"
"Right, so we know what house not to aim for, right?"
"Definitely," Rowan agreed.
"Tonks, Nymphadora!" It may have been a little hypocritical of Crazy, but all he could think of at that moment was another word beginning with 'nympho' that Jacob had introduced him to shortly before his disappearance. He chuckled, which earned him a nudge and shushing from Rowan.
The hat took a little longer on this girl's head, but eventually the hat called out, "Hufflepuff!"
"Kim, Jae." This boy looked again different. He looked supremely disinterested, though not unfriendly.
The hat was quick with this one too. "Gryffindor!"
The whispers began. Crazy had been mentally preparing himself for the looks and stares, but still wasn't equipped to deal with them the way he thought he was. As he got up on the stage and sat on the stool, he could see the whispers moving from person to person, and his face grew hot. Oh how desperately he wanted to be off that stage. The hat touched his head, and Crazy felt it, not just externally. He could feel the hat worming its way around inside his brain, which made him shiver.
"Hmm, very interesting. I haven't seen one like this in a long time..." Crazy wasn't sure whether the hat was speaking out loud to the group of students or just to him through his mind.
Gee, thanks, thought Crazy, before regretting his sarcasm instantly. "Ooh, you're going to have a mouth on you, maybe Slytherin is the right choice!" Crazy internally cringed. "No, just kidding, I knew you wouldn't want to go there. Thought I'd have a bit of fun though. No, with that witty humour, and considerable intelligence, there's only one place for you... Ravenclaw!" The last word was screamed to the rest of the room, and hurt Crazy's ears a little, but that couldn't have stopped his grin from forming at the sound. Ravenclaw! He was ecstatic with that decision, and ignored the stares from his fellow students.
However, he couldn't help but notice the lack of back-slapping or thumbs-up. Every other student so far had gotten it.
The rest of the names were called out quickly, with Rowan being the last. An immediate 'Ravenclaw!' rang out from the hat, and Crazy cheered the loudest of all, as his new friend made his way over to the seat next to him. Once again, Crazy noticed the grins that Rowan received, and was a little hurt.
As soon as Rowan sat down, the Headmaster stood up.
"Welcome! Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! The past few years have seen a great weight lifted from our world, as The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter, is safe. But for now, let us focus on your education, and what your futures may bring to the school. Now, a little information for the first years. While here at Hogwarts, good behaviours earn House Points, and rule breaking will lose you House Points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points will be awarded the House Cup!"
The House Cup wasn't there, a disappointment to Crazy, but he hoped he'd be able to see it at the end of the year. "And so begins our Feast!"
Food sprouted in the middle of the table, giving Crazy and Rowan further amusement.
"I was hoping I could get to be in Ravenclaw with you, Crazy."
"I knew you'd be in Ravenclaw, anyway. I just wouldn't want to spoil the surprise for you. I was more worried about where I'd be. I didn't know where I'd be sorted, and the Hat took a while. I thought it might sort me into Ravenclaw, because of my brother, and it did."
"It doesn't always stick in families, though. Unless you and your brother were very similar people, the Hat wouldn't have put you in the same house."
"We loved each other, but we're different people. Anyway, enough of this chatter. Let's eat, my stomach is killing me." They dug in.
After Crazy was full to the brim and ready to burst, the Headmaster stood once again. "Now the Feast is over, you may return to your common rooms! Ravenclaws, if you would follow Professor Flitwick..."
Everybody at the Ravenclaw table stood, and followed the short teacher out of the Great Hall. As they travelled up the stairs, Rowan and Crazy had fantastic fun laughing at the antics of the paintings. They'd both seen this specific type of magical portrait before, of course, but the interactions between different characters left them laughing and completely distracted until they reached the room.
Ravenclaw Common Room was cozy, and Crazy loved it. He laughed at Rowan's excitement, as his friend walked about the room, marvelling at the wondrous walls and interesting decor. "Hey, Crazy, there's so much to learn here! Would you like to hear about the--"
Crazy cut Rowan off. He'd only known the other boy for a little while, but it was already clear to see that he could get very excited about things. "Let's just enjoy ourselves while we're here, okay?" Rowan nodded, smiling, and even perhaps a little grateful that Crazy cut him off when he did.
They heard a distinct 'tut'. Turning towards the sound, they came face to face with an older boy.
"I can't believe they let you in here, after what happened with your brother! You know how much shit Ravenclaw were put through because of him?"
"I didn't choose to be here."
"Nobody chose you, or your mental brother."
Crazy shook his head, and smiled slightly at Rowan, letting him him know that he was okay. "I know that people are going to hate me for a while. But if I can fly under the radar, hopefully they'll forget about me."
"Hopefully." Rowan echoed, but he looked extremely skeptical.
"Hey, have you been able to see your timetable yet?"
"Yes! It's great! Herbology, Transfiguration... What are you most looking forward to, Crazy?"
He nearly, out of instinct, answered truthfully: finding his brother. Truth be told, everything else could wait. But he didn't want to ruin Rowan's good mood. "Charms, definitely. It seems like there's the largest variety of spells to learn there, so many useful things to learn..."
"Charms... I think it'll be fun, but I'm particularly looking forward to Transfiguration."
"Well, hopefully you enjoy charms, because it's what we've got first." They walked out of the common room, Crazy feeling the burning glare of the older boy on the back of his neck.
"Rowan, you've read every book on Hogwarts known to man, right?"
"Soooo... what's the first spell we'll be learning?"
"I don't know. And that's a shame, because I know a lot of things. However, Charms seems to be one of the more loved subjects, so hopefully the teacher is okay." Rowan's voice echoed down the corridor, as they made their way towards the classroom door.
Students were just getting seated when the duo walked in, and Crazy instantly felt discreet eyes lingering on his skin. He'd never been a massive fan of attention, but knowing that they were staring because of his brother made it so much worse. Crazy simply hoped the professor was fair, and walked up to the man who had led them to their common room.
"Hello, Professor Flitwick. I can't wait to get started, I'm really looking forward to Charms."
The professor's smile relaxed Crazy. "You're Mister Numnums!" Crazy tensed up again, preparing for a reprimand. "Well, if you're anything like him, you'll be okay. He was one of the most skilled students I've ever taught!"
Crazy was in shock. He never thought he'd hear a kind word said about his brother in the school, never mind in the first five minutes of class!
"However, he was also rather rebellious... Are you a rebel too?"
"I hope that I can follow the rules. But I also need to find my brother."
"Your plight is very much understandable. Please take your seat, for your first step in Hogwarts education, Mister Numnums!" Crazy complied, taking up the empty chair next to Rowan. The boy to his right shifted over a little.
"Class, today, for your first lesson, we will be learning one of the most important spells in a witch or wizard's arsenal: Lumos!"
"The Wand-Lighting Charm!" whispered Rowan excitedly.
The next hour was spent reviewing information given to them, as they practiced the swish necessary to complete the spell. Finally, Flitwick called out, "Time's almost up, so I want you to have a go at completing the spell, but don't worry if you don't get it first time. It takes practise."
Crazy picked up his wand, and breathed in deeply. He prepared to cast the spell. "Lumos."
It didn't work.
Crazy repeated the spell, giving his wording a little more force. "Lumos!" This time it worked. Crazy squinted against the light it provided in the already colourful classroom.
"Fantastic! Well done, Mister Numnums, that's one of the best wand-lighting charms I've seen!" Crazy glowed with pride. However, the more important thing to him was that the other classmates could learn to like him as well. He analysed the group opposite him. Certainly some looked unhappy with his accomplishment, as they struggled to complete the spell themselves, but others looked on with a little more respect. Good, thought Crazy, I'm getting to them.
Or at least he hoped.
"Ten points to Ravenclaw."
Well, that couldn't have made him grin more. At least the Ravenclaws would be tolerant of him now. He half-expected Rowan to be jealous of the aptitude that Crazy was showing for magic, but his friend was as ecstatic as Crazy. "Ten points, on your first lesson! They'll write books about you, Crazy, that was amazing."
"It was our first lesson, okay, so don't get too wrapped up in publishing deals just yet. We have Potions next, with the Slytherins, which should be fun."
"Was that sarcastic?"
Crazy was right. He'd taken a quick detour to the bathroom, and when he'd continued walking to the dungeons, he spotted Rowan. Talking to a girl in green robes, and Rowan didn't look too pleased about things.
"Admit it!" Crazy heard from the girl opposite.
"I can't!" Rowan replied, and Crazy admired his bravery, considering the short fuse this girl appeared to have.
"I can't because it's not true!" Rowan saw Crazy walk up, but continued talking. "You're in first year, chances are you're one of the least powerful witches! I've made lists based on--"
"Fuck you and your lists!"
"--the professors, the seventh-years... you're a first year like me!"
"I'm not, in any way, like you!"
Crazy had had enough, but without a proper judge of this girl's abilities, he wasn't sure of standing up to her. Instead, he opted to distract her from bullying Rowan. "I'm sensing some rampaging insecurity here."
"You're the one who should be feeling insecure, Crazy Numnums." She spat the last word like it was venom. "Your brother was insane!"
"Hey, his Wand-Lighting charm was the best that Flitwick had seen this year! He's better than you!" Rowan piped up, unhelpfully, as Crazy was attempting to defuse the situation.
"Really? Care to put that to the test?"
"I don't want a fight, or a duel, or whatever you have in mind, whatever your name is."
"Too bad. And it's Merula Snyde." Now she said that, Crazy recognised her as the girl he'd seen in the Sorting ceremony.
"You're just afraid that maybe I could be more powerful than you. Rampaging insecurity, after all."
"Let's put it to the test right now." Unfortunately, none of the three had heard Snape walking up behind them.
"Numnums. I knew you would be trouble."
Crazy glanced at Rowan, wordlessly asking, 'is he serious?' "Sir, Merula was bullying Rowan."
"Get in the classroom. Next time it'll be detention."
Merula walked inside at once. Crazy asked Rowan quietly, "Head of Slytherin?"
"Today," drawled Snape loudly, effectively cutting off all conversation, "you will be making a simple cure for boils. You have the recipe. Get started."
"You're guaranteed to fail, Numnums, you've got no chance."
"What are you talking about?" Crazy didn't wait for an answer, as he didn't really care. All he wanted to do was perfectly brew the potion so Snape didn't have a reason to be disappointed.
As Crazy deposited the last ingredients into the cauldron, Snape walked over. "Perhaps you aren't completely incompetent, Numnums."
Crazy smiled broadly, a sense of achievement at completely his first potion.
Then it began to bubble.
"This looks like the explosive reaction created by adding Bulbadox powder," mentioned Rowan, crushing Crazy's heart.
The cauldron split completely down the middle. Crazy ducked to avoid being hit by cauldron shards, while Rowan just continued working.
"Congrats, Numnums. The table is now completely free of those horrible boils."
"You did this, bitch."
Merula adopted a 'who, me' expression as Snape sauntered up behind her. "You should never have been allowed to step foot inside my classroom, Numnums." Once again, the name was said in disgust. "Ten points from Ravenclaw."
And there were his points flushed down the toilet.
"Anything to add to this atrocity, Numnums?" Snape asked.
"Merula sabotaged my cauldron."
"What?! That's ridiculous, sir!"
"Numnums, if you want to avoid losing further house points, I suggest not making unfounded accusations against your classmates. Class dismissed."
"What? But... I..."
Snape walked away, leaving a dumbstruck Crazy.
"Shouldn't have coated your cauldron in Bulbadox Powder, should you?"
Crazy's eyes narrowed. He had a feeling that he and Merula would have an interesting time around each other...